Frances Bacon's essay "Of Love" details questions and answers regarding the very complicated concept of love. The essay begins by comparing love to the stage. According to Bacon, love mirrors the stage because it is filled with comedy, tragedy, mischief, and fury. Like the plays produced on the stage, love is multidimensional.
Bacon goes on to state that love makes people act in very different ways. People, consumed by love, will find themselves filled with...
Frances Bacon's essay "Of Love" details questions and answers regarding the very complicated concept of love. The essay begins by comparing love to the stage. According to Bacon, love mirrors the stage because it is filled with comedy, tragedy, mischief, and fury. Like the plays produced on the stage, love is multidimensional.
Bacon goes on to state that love makes people act in very different ways. People, consumed by love, will find themselves filled with "great spirits" and "weak passion(s)."
Perhaps the most thought provoking statement that Bacon makes in the essay is "That it is impossible to love, and to be wise." This could force one to think that to be in love makes them stupid.
Bacon goes on to present the different aspects of love.
There is in man’s nature, a secret inclination and motion, towards love of others, which if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable; as it is seen sometime in friars. Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth, and embaseth it.
Here, Bacon readily admits that love possesses a power which no man can control. Regardless of the will to give love, love will, itself, spread out among those around him.
Section 1. The Problem
Section 2. Mistaken View of the Essay
Section 3. The Essay of Love: Its Real Import
Section 4. Bacon's Praise of the Worthiest Affection
Section 5. Restricted Use of Love in Shakespeare
Section 6. Love in the Historical Plays
Section 7. Love in the Tragedies
Section 8. Love in the Comedies
Section 9. Love always Subordinate in Shakespeare
Section 10. Love in the Minor Poems
Section 11. Love Lyrics
Section 12. Conclusions
Section 13. The AEthiope
Section 14. Love Engenedered in the Eye
Section 15. Folly and Love Connected Generally
In Tennyson's "Life" (II. 424) the following occurs in a letter to a friend:
" I have just had a letter from a man who wants my opinion as to whether Shakespeare's Plays were written by Bacon. I feel inclined to write back, "Don't be a fool, sir!' The way in which Bacon speaks of love would be enough to prove that he was not Shakespeare. " I know not how, but martial men are given to love. I think it is but as they are given to wine, for perils commonly asked to be paid in pleasures.' How could a man with such an idea of love write Romeo and Juliet?
And yet even Tennyson might have paused before shutting off the claims for Bacon with such resolute incredulity, not to say unexpressed incivility. For he himself had found in Bacon qualities which are at first sight as incompatible with an unromantic view of love, as he supposed Shakespeare to be. Tennyson had been on one occasion speaking of Lord Bacon, and said,
"That certain passages of his writings, their frequent eloquence and vivid completeness lifted him more than those of almost any other writer."
And of the Essays he said,
"There is more wisdom compressed into that small volume than in any other book of the same size that I know." (Life, II. 76, 415).
Clearly, then, any unfavourable impression derived from one or tow passages in a small Essay may be corrected and perhaps even vindicated when a larger view is taken. What more could he say of Shakespeare's wisdom than this?
The objection which Tennyson expressed so energetically is one that is often raised when the Baconian theory is under discussion.
1. It has often been objected to the Baconian theory, that the author of the Essay of "Love" and of "Marriage and Single Life" could not also have written the exquisite love scenes of the Shakespeare plays. Bacon's view of love, it is said, is so cold, so passionless, so unromantic, that he was evidently incapable of understanding or sympathising with the sweeter aspects of the tender passion. This objection is presented in a very triumphant way, as at once settling the whole question, and indeed many Baconians at first find it staggering and embarrassing in the highest degree,an argument which it is extremely difficult to meet. It is worth while then to examine somewhat carefully; and in doing so the polemics of the case need not blind us to the exceedingly interesting and suggestive comparisons, which it necessitates between the poet and the essayist.
Those who urge this objection, do so, it seems to me, in a very loose way, not attempting to estimate the real purpose or import of the Essays: not taking any very comprehensive view of the attitude of the Shakespearean poet to the sentiment of love. If the two are to be compared, it is only fair to make a quantitative and qualitative analysis of both.
2. Bacon speaks in his Preface of a double purpose in his Essays :
"They come home to men's businesss and bosoms."
One might suppose that if he wrote on love and marriage, the "bosom" side of his readers would be especially addressed. But it is not so : the bosom side is neglected the topic of the Essay is the business side of this question. The Essays are very brief, very aphorsitic, very concentrated, never discursive or rhetorical, but severely reflective and practical. It is true that poetic touches of the most exquisite character constantly present themselves. The Essay of "Adversity," for instance, is a most perfect poem. But on the whole, in the Essays emotion is a most perfect poem. But on the whole, in the Essays emotion is suppressed, business is supreme. Anyone who goes to the Essay of "Love" for a complete account of Love in all its points of contact with life and experience, is on a wrong quest. Love from the Statesman's and Philosopher's point of view, love as related to what we might now call politics or economics, love in its bearing on public life and "business," is the real topic and no other. The mere title "Of Love," "Of Marriage and Single Life," does not justify anyone in assuming that the text shall contain exactly what he expectsexactly what he would have written on these topics. These Essays are not accommodated to the preconceptions of a Nineteenth Century reader, whose mind is saturated with the fiction, romance or poetry of its literature. And Bacon does not trouble himself to define his limits; any capable reader, who is entitled to critcise, can do that for himself. Such a reader will not be slow to perceive that here is nothing like a rhapsody, not even an exhaustive psychologic or physiologic account of the passion or sentiment of love, but something entirely different. Many critics, strange to say, have started with the most unreasonable claim that Bacon's discourse on love shall contain not only what they think he ought to say, but all that he himself had to say the whole continent of his thoughts and feelings about love. And if he does not satisfy these most unreasonable preconceptions, they, measuring the great man by their own small foot-rule, think themselves justified in writing about him in this style:
"Bacon knows nothing of the valuable influence of unselfish and holy love for a fair mind in a fair body. His prudential treatment of the whole subject is scarcely better than the sneers of La Rochefoucauld." His cold philosophic nature was incapable of feeling or even imagining the loves of a Cornelia and Paulus, a Posthumus and Imogen." (Storr and Gibson's Edition of Essays)
Anything more narrow and impertinent than this it is difficult to conceive. These pedagogic censors of a great man make Bacon a sort of universal provider, and think themselves at liberty to enter his study ( or shop) and order three courses and a desert according to their own fancy; and to whip and scold him, and sprinkle their bad marks over his exercises, whenever their order is not duly executed. Of such irreverent and self-sufficient critics Coleridge was thinking when he describes a self-confident critic who "puts on the seven league boots of self-opinon, and strides at once from an illustrator into a supreme judge; and, blind and deaf, fills his three once vial at the Waters of Niagra, and determines at once the greatness of the Cataract to be neither more or less than his three ounce vial has been able to receive."
3. Bacon does not entirely ignore the romantic side of love, but he refers it to different treatment.
"The stage," he says, " is more beholding to love than the life of man."
In his Essay he is speaking of a somewhat neglected view of love. If it is predominate it is a "weak passion," it may not govern all the actions of life. Walter Savage Landor expresses much the same idea :
"Love is a secondary passion in those who love most; a primary in those who love least." (Imag. Conv. Ascham and Lady Jane Grey).
Love, in Bacon's view, is for the privacy of home; if it follows its votary into the street it becomes an enfeebling influence:
" it checks with business; it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own ends." "Great spirits and great business do keep this weak passion." " It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature of things by this, that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but love." " He that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas; for whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection quitteth both riches and wisdom." "Amare et sapere vix Deo conceditur." "Love is the child of folly. They do best who, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter, and server it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life."
This is not a popular view of love, but it may be true nevertheless, and it may be held by one who is no cynic, not a cold blooded, self-centered, worldly-minded egotist, but a keen observer, who will not suffer his view of the realities of life to be distorted by romance. It is a permisible theory that love is for private, household use; that, like religion, it must enter into its closet and shut the door; that if it intrudes into the market place it is both weak and ridiculous, and hinders the lawful business of the place. This is Bacon's position, stated with his usual epigrammatical terseness, not fenced by such explanations as purblind readers need in order to keep them from stumbling. And this neglected view is exactly what might be expected from a writer who has no relish for conventional platitudes, no room for common-places, and who knows quite well that fair and competent critics will judge him, not from one utterance, but from an impartial and comprehenseive study of his whole life, and of all his writings.
4. Bacon points to the Drama as the most suitable stage for the portraiture of love; and his scanty reference to it in his prose writings is naturally explained by those who know how magnificently he poured out all the treasures of his heart, his fancy, and his intellect in his dramatic poetry. There is, however, one prose composition, which, occurring in a masque, belongs properly to dramatic literature, in which love is the theme of most eloquent and poetic eulogy. This is to be found, in a mutilated form, in the "Conference of Pleasure," which contains a discourse " in praise ofhe worthiest affection." The speech is too long for quotation, but as this delightful piece is not easily obtainable, I give a sample :
"As for other affections they be but sufferings of nature; they seek ransoms and rescues from that which which is evil, not enjoying a union with that which is good. They seek to expel that which is contrary, not to attract that which is agreeable. Fear and grief,the traitors of nature. Bashfulness,a thraldom to every man's concept and countenance. Pity, a confederacy with the miserable. Desire of revenge, the supplying of a wound. All these endeavour to keep the main stock of nature, to preserve her from loss and diminution. But love is a pure gain and advancement in nature; it is not a good by comparison, but a true good; it is not an ease of pain, but a true purchase of pleasures; and therefore, when our minds are soundest, when they are not, as it were, in sickness and therefore out of taste, but when we be in prosperity, when we want nothing, then is the season, and the opportunity, and the spring of love. And as it springeth not out of ill, so it is not intermixed with ill; it is not like the virtues, which by a steep and ragged way conduct us to a plain, and are hard taskmasters at first, and after give an honourable hire; but the first aspect of love, and all that followeth, is gracious and pleasant."
Let us now see if the Shakespearean treatment of love differs in any essential respect from Bacon's. My contention is, that they are curiously identical, so much so as to supply, on a very extended scale, one of those striking correspondences between two groups of writings, which in their accumulation point irresistibly to identity of authorship.
5. One of the most striking features of the Shakespearean drama is the extremely restricted use it makes of love, which is suppose to be the foundation and pivot of dramatic art. The exceeding beauty and attractivenes of the love pictures actually given, blinds us to their rarity: they attract so much interest as almost to absorb the consideration of the reader or spectator, and put other scenes into the shade. Also the charm of these love pictures is so great that we are apt to forget that they are often set in a framework of weakness, confusion, or disorder, that there is a canker of decay in even the loveliest of these flowers.
Apart from this it is to be remarked that in a large proportion of the plays love is either entirely absent or completely subordinate,not the main centre of interest or action. And again, even where some slight love element is introduced, it may be not only very unimportant, but entirely destitute of romance or fascination. Mr. T. W. White, among other critics, notes this fact as very remarkable. He says,
" Shakespeare is almost alone among his contemporaries and successors in frequently rejecting love as the motive of his drama;"
and the conclusion at which Mr. White arrives is, that the poet had a weak animal development!
"Shakespeare, in the selected passages (from Hamlet) to which we have referred, manifests a total insensibility to the gross passion of love. In descriptions of Platonic affection and conventional gallantry he is unsurpassed; but when he essays to be personally tender, his muse becomes tediously perfunctory , as we see in Hamlet." ("Our English Homer," pp. 31, 122).
I quote these passages, not as agreeing with them entirely. Mr. White is often inaccurate, still more them entirely. Mr. White is often inaccurate, still more frequently eccentric and paradoxical, and sometimes, as it seems to me, strangely purblind. But his judgment may be taken as a tolerably accurate representation of the conclusion likely to be formed by any one who fairly fronts the question, and is not misled by early and crude impressions.
If , however, we may briefly run through the plays, taking a swift glance at each, the resemblance between the Shakespearean and the Baconian view of love will become distinct and even startling.
6.First of all, let us look at the Historical Plays. In these love is throughout subordinate, and in some it is entirely absent.
It is absent from John, and Richard II.
In 1Henry IV. it is incidentally introduced in the persons of Hotspur and Lady Percy, and it shows Hotspur so intent on business as almost to neglect his wife, and provoke her reproaches.
O, my good lord, why are you thus alone?
For what offence have I this fortnight been
A banished woman from my Harry's bed?
And then she tells him how she has watched him, awake and asleep, and finds that his mind is occupied with concerns in which she is not permitted to share :
Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,
And I must know it, else he loves me not...
In faith, I'll break thy little finger, Harry,
And if thou wilt not tell me all things true.
But the "mad-headed ape," the "weasel toss'd with such a deal of spleen," "the paraquito," as she with playful irritation calls him, brusquely puts her off with,
Away, you Trifler! Love! I love thee not,
I care not for thee, Kate.
And then, in reply to her pained remonstrance, he replies :
Come, wilt thou see me ride?
And when I am o' horseback, I will swear
I love thee infinitely. But hark you, Kate,
I must not have you henceforth question me
Whither I go, nor reason whereabout :
Whither I must, I must.
(See 1Henry IV. iii. 40-120)
It is a charming picture of true love on both sides; but the husband has his love in check, and when the wife tries to spy into his business, he gaily thwarts her, being evidently resolved to keep his active life as a warrior and politician entirely unembarrassed by domestic ties.
If anyone looks for love scenes in 2Henry IV., he must find them in company with Doll Tear-sheet, or be content to miss them altogether.
In Henry V. there is a pretty wooing scene between the King and the French Princess. In this wooing, however, there is more policy than passion. The whole transaction turns on considerations of State advantage and Royal convenience. Here is a specimen; it is all in prose:
Before God, Kate, I cannot look greenly nor gasp out my eloquence, nor have I no cunning in protestation; only downright oaths, which I never use till urged, nor never break for urging. ....I speak to thee plain soldier : if thou canst love me for this, take me; if not, to say to thee I shall die, is true; but for thy love, by the Lord, No! yet I love thee too. (see the whole scene in Henry V. V. ii)
There is a good deal of this kind of self-possessed,one may even say, self-centred love-making It is the ideal portrait of a man who "if he cannot but admit love, yet makes it keep quarter." It shows in what way and how far "martial men are given to love. I think it is but as they are given to wine, for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures: " a compensation to be duly paid when the business is trasacted.
The play of 1Henry VI. contains the wooing incident, but no love. The wooing is by proxy, and the alliance is entirely dictated by State policy. (See Act V. sc. v.)
There is nothing of the kind in 2 or 3 Henry VI.
In Richard III. love is very sparingly introduced , almost ignored , and when introduced, most curiously blended with hatred and repugnance. At the beginning of the play we come upon a fantastic mockery of courtship. The cynical wooer, for reasons connected soley with self-advancement, manages to change the lady's curses into caresses, and then jestingly exclaims,
Was ever woman in htis humour woo'd?
Was eveer woman in this humour won?
(Richard III. I. ii. 228)
The drama of Henry VIII. shows a royal lover, whose many courtships and espousals, so far from interfering with business, are entirely subservient to State considerations. The love of Queen Katherine is found to be inconsistent with the interests of royalty. The Queen, however, refuses to submit her married rights to such control, and urges them upon a spouse, whose is determined that they shall not "check with his business," or "trouble his fortunes." Her claims are gently, but effectually put aside.
We see then, that throughout the Historical plays love is managed, it never sways. It may be said that the Histories, form the very nature of the case, must show the public side of life, that their one aim is to present past events in a vivid, pictorial way. Consequently, love could not be introduced where the incidents did not supply it. This is only partially true. At any rate it is highly significant that the Shakespearean poet should, to so large an extent, make selection of subjects which accept this limitation. And it is also to be noted, tht every constructor of an historical romance feels himself at liberty to embelish and enhance the attraction of historic truth by additonal touches derived from his own fancy, and as a rule these invented embellishments consist of love scenes. It is, then, not a little remarkable that Shakespeare takes no pains so to select or record his historic facts, that they may bear the freightage of love episodes, created by himself : he does not find it necessary to shape the structure of his dramas, as he assuredly might, so as to heighten their interest by the glow and radiance of passion. In most other hands doubtless love passages would have been added, even if the history had to be strained in order to find place for them.
We find, then, that every one of the love incidents n the historic plays might be taken as cases in point, expressly intended to illustrate the philosophy of love, marriage, and business, as expounded in the Baconian "Essays" : a conclusion, I imagine, which few readers would anticipate.
7. The Tragedies, as might be expected, give us some excellent pictures of the Romantic side of love. Here, then, we shall perhaps, find the want of harmony between the "Essays" and the "Plays," on which the critics so vauntingly descant. Let us see if this is really the case.
Troilus and Cressida is certainly not a love play. The puzzle of it, if it was written by a theatrical manager for business purposes, is how such a profound study of moral, social, and political philosophy could have ever been put upon the boards. A love scene is, indeed, the central incident of hte plot; but there is a wanton element in it. There is a startling contrast between exquisite beauty and rapture of the vows, which the lovers utter when they are wooing, and the subsequent infidelity of the lady, who had protested so ardently her eternal constancy. It is an episode of the great drama, and one of weakness and shame. None of the noblest persons in the play have any share in this part of it, nor any love passages of their own. In reading it we are reminded of Bacon's remark,
" You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons, whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or modern, 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."
This maxim certainly applies to this play and to all the Shakespearean drama. Another of the maxims which has been already quoted, as to love braving the nature of things by its perpetual hyperbole, is exactly reproduced with added cynicism in the following :
Tro.O, let my lady apprehend no fear, in all Cupid's pageant there is no presented no monster.
Cres.Nor nothing monstrous either?
Tro.Nothing, but our undertakings : when we vow to weep seas, live in fire,eat rocks, tame tigers : thinking it harder for our mistress to devise impostion enough than for us to undergo any difficulty imposed. This is the monstrosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite and the execution confined, that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.
Cres. They say, all lovers swear more performance than they are able, and yet reserve an ability that they never perform; vowing more than the perfection of ten, and discharging less than the tenth part of one. They that have the voice of lions, and the act of hares, are they not monsters? (Tro. Cres. III. ii. 71)
In Coriolanus the love element is absent. It is however worthy of remark, that the personal appeal of the women and children of Rome, by which the vengeance of the hero is averted. is spoken by the mother, who has outlived the romance of her younger days, not by the wife. Doubtless history required this; but it did not dictate such a striking contrast as that we find between the strength of the widowed mother, and the feebleness, tameness, almost insipidity of the wedded wife. The widow is self-reliant and masterful; the tender, plastic period of her life has passed; while the wife is timid, shrinking, helpless, incapable of action or of cheerfulness without the stimulus of her husband's presence. During his absence she can only sit at home, musing and mooning, and pining and watching for his return.
Titus Andronicus is a play of the dramatic's earlier time, written in what Count Vitzhum calls the "Marlowe period" of Bacon's life. And in a play of this period, if anywhere, one might expect to see love pictured in its romance and fascination. But it is entirely absent.Or, if present at all, its demonic aspect alone is presented : it is associated with those revolting scenes of blood, and horror, and cruelty, and outrage, which make this play as much a puzzle as Bacon himself, or the Baconian theory. The critics would gladly hand it over to Marlowe, and many of them do so.
But in Romeo and Juliet : surely romantic and passionate which blasts and ruins its victims, and spoils them for the practical "business" of life. The perfect and matchless beauty of the picture may well make us oblivious of the latent moral
"This passion hath his floods in the very time of weakness."
The play is a commentary on Bacon's aphorism
" In life it doth much mischief, sometimes like a siren, sometimes like a Fury" :
both the siren and the Fury appear in the play. The moral is, the fatal consequence of being "transported to the mad degree of love." Friar Lawrence draws the moral :
These violent delights have violent ends,
And in their triumph die; like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume : the sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness,
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
(Romeo and Juliet II . vi 9)
Love is shown as " one of those bodies which they call imperfecte mista, which last not, but are speedily dissolved." (Life," III. 94). It is full of paradox :
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead! bright smoke! cold fire! sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
(Ibid, I. i. 184)
When Romeo's wooing is interrupted by his banishment, he is ready to destroy himself, and well does he deserve the long lecture on fortitude which Friar Lawrence addresses to him, showing that the passion which possesses him is essentially a "weak passion." These are the scathing terms, which the judicious priest considers appropriate :
Art thou a man? thy form cries out thou art:
Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote
The unreasonable fury of a beast:
Unseemly woman in a seeming man;
Or ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
Thou hast amazd me: by my holy order,
I thought thy disposition better temperd.
(Romeo & Juliet III. iii. 109)
Fie, fie! thou shamst thy shape, thy love, thy wit,
Which, like a usurer, aboundst in all,
And usest none in that true use indeed 132
Which should bedeck thy shape, thy love, thy wit.
Thy noble shape is but a form of wax,
Digressing from the valour of a man;
Thy dear love, sworn, but hollow perjury, 136
Killing that love which thou hast vowd to cherish;
Thy wit, that ornament to shape and love,
Misshapen in the conduct of them both,
Like powder in a skilless soldiers flask, 140
To set a-fire by thine own ignorance,
And thou dismemberd with thine own defence.
(Ibid. III. iii. 122)
Bacon's indictment against love is accurately reproduced, much augmented and intensified.
In Timon of Athens, the only two female characters introduced are the two mistresses of Alciabes.In the whole play love is absolutely ignored.
In Julius Caesar Portia is an ideal portrait of a "noble wife," a sweet and stately Roman matron, full of devotion to her lord. But Portia complains, in much the same terms as Hotspur's wife, that Brutus carefully shuts her out from all share in his public life. She is kept severely for home use, and may not follow her lord into the halls and marts of civic business. She too tells her husband how she had observed signs of distraction in him :
And when I asked you what the matter was,
You stared upon me with ungentle looks.
(Julius Caesar II. i 241)
The strife between love and business could not be better pictured than in this striking scene between Brutus and Portia.
Brutus is deeply touched by Portia's death, but he hides his emotion, and will not permit even this to weaken him in his public duties.
Julius Caesar is half persuaded by Calpurnia to absent himself from the Senate House, but the sarcasms of Decius Brutus have more power over him than the terrors and entreaties of his wife.
Portia and Calpurnia are the only two female characters in this noble drama, and their power and place exactly correspond with the limitations which Bacon defines as the proper enclosure of love.
Antony and Cleopatra presents us with Bacon's own chosen exception to the rule that
"Great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion. You must except nevertheless Marcus Antonius, the half-partner of the Empire of Rome."
The Essay of "Love" is the key which unlocks the meaning of the play. The opening lines bring before us a great spirit mastered and ruined by passion :
Nay! but this dotage of our General's
O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes
That o'ver the files and musters of the war
Have glowed like plated Mars, now bend, now turn,
The office and devotion of their view
Upon a tawny front.
(Antony & Cleopatra I. i. 1)
We might quote half the play to illustrate the sentiments and cautions of the Essay. In the whole play Bacon's philosophy is speaking articulately, in concrete stage effects. Bacon writes,
"They do best who, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter and sever it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life."
This Antony failed to do, and this accounts for the disaster and ruin, which overtakes the lovers and all who are swayed by them. The Essay and the play fit one another as text and pictorial illustrations.
Macbeth and Lear may be passed over without any other comment than that love is entirely absent : no love instance can be extracted from them. In Lear there is some lawless love, no true love.
In Hamlet love plays a very subordinate but a very significant part. Hamlet and Ophelia are in love with one another; she deeply, he sincerely but moderately. He is a "great spirit," and consequently the mad degree of love does not reach him: he can master his passion and make it "keep quarter." The great business to which he has devoted himself is checked by many influences,by "bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on the event," by his habit of deliberation and procrastination; but love interposes no obstacle. The very opposite is the case with Ophelia; love, and its issue in disappointment, overpowers her reason and her will, and leads to the self-slaughter, to which Hamlet also was tempted, but was strong enough to resist. Ophelia's ruin is the result of this "weak passion." The Queen is the text for many of Hamlet's reproaches of womankind :
"Frailty, thy name is woman; " "Brief as woman's tears."
And Hamlet's opinions about love are the same as Bacon's , but expressed with even greater frankness and cynicism :
" If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them;"
and we know from the discourse in Troilus and Cressida what the poet was thinking of when he spoke of monsters, and how exactly this is reflected in Bacon's Essay.
In Othello Bacon's text is almost quoted, and is very vividly illustrated. Both the Siren and the Fury appear, an with the Fury its consequent mischief. Othello's love is moderate and self-poised : there is no madness in it; but it is the basis of the jealousy and rage excited byt eh wily suggestions of Iago. Here is the one "weak" point in his nature, through which he becomes plastic to the "tempering" of his Ancient. In everything else he is unassailable : as a lover he is feeble and flexible, and this it is which brings ruin and death, first to Desdemona, and then to himself. Here again Bacon's philosophy is most accurately reflected. Othello is appointed to high military command just at the time of his marriage, and he will not for a moment permit his duty to the State to be interrupted or damaged by the newly contracted ties. His resolve is almost textually a reproduction of Bacon's Essay :
And heaven defend your good souls that you think
I will your serious and great business scant
For she is with me. No, when light-wingd toys
Of featherd Cupid seel with wanton dulness
My speculative and officd instruments,
That my disports corrupt and taint my business,
Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,
And all indign and base adversities
Make head against my estimation!
And to Desdemona he says :
Come, Desdemona; I have but an hour
Of love, of worldly matters and direction,
To spend with thee: we must obey the time.
In Cymbeline love is not ignored, and it is the only one of the tragedies, in which the sentiments of the Essay of "Love" are not expressly reflected. But even here there is nothing inconsistent with the Essay. The love of Imogen is a perfect picture of womanly affection and constancy : the woman's side is excellently given. But the husband's side is lightly and imperfectly sketched. His heroism, his fortitude, his intellectual power and culture, his trust in his wife's goodness, his agony on finding as he supposes that she is unfaithful, all these are evident; he appears rarely and fitfully on the scene, and has no very important relation to the action of the drama. The love element in the play is quite subordinate; the real dramatic business is independent of it.
In Pericles love is associated either with romantic adventure or hideous pollution. There is nothing attractive or sacred in it; it is rather a disturbing than an essential element. It is not omitted, but one could almost wish it had been.
So far, then, in the ten histories and twelve tragedies, Bacon's view of love is not only never contradicted, but it is uniformly (Cymbeline excepted) reflected , and that with singular, and sometimes almost textual accuracy.
Perhaps the comedies will supply us with the contrast, which we are so confidently assured exists, between Bacon's conception of love and Shakespeare's pictures of it. Let us open them and see.
The love scenes in As You Like It are exquisite pictures of either rustic simplicity or Arcadian sport. The rustic lovers, "natives of the place," do not show love in any ennobling light. The maiden is cruel and scornful; the swain is abject and pitiful,but the love is on the abject and pitiful side. The courtly lovers, who woe in the forest, present love as a comedy; the lady masquerading as a boy, and playing with the weakness of her lover, who was quite willing to be manipulated as a marionette, if he may thus indulge his fancy. Touchstone's love is absolutely unreal and fantastic. All the love incidents illustrate the sentiment which is the keynote of all this part of the drama.
How many actions most ridiculous
Hast thou been drawn to by thy fantasy:
which Touchstone repeats in other phrasing:
We that are true lovers run into strange capers: but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly.
And Rosalind, hearing such a slander on her own conditon, is yet forced to admit that there is some truth in the impeachment,
Thou speakest wiser than thou art ware of. (See II. 26-60).
This play is exceptionally affluent in descriptions of the manner, and behaviour, and appearance of lovers. The characteristic sings are thus described :
A lean cheek, a blue eye and sunken; an unquestionable spirit [i.e. unscociable, not inclined to talk], a beard neglected; ungarted hose; th shoe untied; and everything about you demonstrating a careless desolation. (As You Like It, III. ii. 392)
"Love is merely a madness," and deserves its ordinary treatment, viz. a dark house and a whip. Rosalind desribes the sort of behaviour she put on when she was acting the part of a lover;
At which time would I , being a moonish youth, grieve, be effeminate, changeable, longing and liking, proud, fantastical, apish, shallow, inconstant,full of tears, full of smiles, for every passion somethng, and for no passion truly anything.......would now like him, now loathe him, then entertain him, then forswear him, now weep for him, then spit at him, that I drave my suitor from his mad humour of love to a living humour of madness. (Ib. III. ii 420)
Nothing can be more exquisitely pictured; every scene is enchanting, but it is folly, weakness, self- immolation that is depicted in the love passages of this delicious framework of Arcadian romance and simplicity. As in the "Dream," the natural comment of the sportive outsider is, "Lord, what fools these mortals be."
In the Taming of the Shrew there is no real love making. All the wooing is based on self-interest, none on genuine attraction. There is much wooing and some marrying, but no love. The only serious moral is that spoken by Katherine, after she is tamed:
Now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare.
(Taming of the Shrew V. ii. 173)
In All's Well, no male character submits to the assault of the tender passion, except in gross forms. Bertram resists its approach, and treats it with scorn. Helena's love is strong and faithful, but folly and weakness attend it. Her love is given to an inaccessible and unresponsive idol,
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love.
(All's Well, I . iii. 207)
She is content to bring her husband to her arms by a loathsome trick, pandering to his vices, and winning him in spite of himself. The play is full of love; but, with the doubtful exception of Helena, the ennobling , invigorating side of love is entirely absent.
Twelfth Night shows us a a royal suitor making futile love by proxy, and at last content to wed, not the lady of his choice, but the maiden who had fallen into presumably hopeless love with him, whom he had employed as a page, and known only in his disguise. A similar game of cross purposes unites Olivia and Sebastian, neither of whom loved the other, but made their love contract under an illusion of mistaken identity. Love in Viola is most attractive, full of poetry and charm, and she is the only one whose passion is naturally requited. In all the other cases the love passages are fantastic and irrational, and are patched and mended by the evolution of fortunate blunders. Even here the Baconian estimate of love is not omitted. The Duke says to Viola, his supposed page-boy:
Come hither, boy: if ever thou shalt love,
In the sweet pangs of it, remember me.
For such as I am, all true lovers are,Unstaid and skittish in all motions else,
Save in the constant image of the creature
That is belov'd.
(Twelfth Night, II. iv. 14)
But of all the plays (except Othello and Antony and Cleopatra), it is in the Winter's Tale that we find Bacon's philosophy of love and business embodied in the most striking dramatic effects. Prince Florizel is a typical instance of the "mad degree of love" : his passion "checks with business," and makes him "untrue to his own ends." That he may possess Perdita, whom he only knows as a low-born peasant girl, he is ready to give up his princely birthright, surrender his succession to the crown, brave the anger of his father, and bring danger not only on himself, but on the maiden of his choice and all her supposed relations. Nothing can be more reckless and irrational than his love vows :
Or I'll be thine, my fair,
Or not my father's . For I cannot be
Mine own, nor anything to any, if
I be not thine. To this I am most constant,
Though destiny say, No!
(Ibid, IV. 42)
In reply to his father's threats he exclaims :
From my succession wipe me, father, I
am heir to my affection.
Camillo Be advised!
Flor I am, and by my fancy: if my reason
Will thereto be obedient; I have reason;
If not, my senses, better be pleased with madness,
Do bid it welcome
Here is clearly an example illustrating Bacon's keen remark :
" He that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas: for whoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection, quitteth both riches and honour."
The fantastic apology for the wooing of a peasant by a prince, presents us with a very Baconian picture of love and its precedents of folly :
Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,
Humbling their deities to love, have taken
The shapes of beasts upon them. Jupiter
Became a bull, and bellow'd; the green Neptune
A ram, and bleated : and the fire-robed god,
Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,
As I seem now.
(Ibid, IV. iv. 24)
So then we find Shakespeare comparing his lovers to such curious cattle as divinities transformed to bellowing bulls, or bleating rams, or humble swains. Bacon could not belittle them more effectually.
AEthiope words, blacker in their effect
Than in their countenance.
(As You Like It IV. iii. 35)
In Much Ado , Claudio expresses his willingness to marry Antonio's daughter, to replace Hero, supposed to be dead: and he thus expresses his resolveI'll hold my my mind were she an AEthiope
and Lysander spurns Hermia with the words,Away! you AEthiope.
(Midsummer Night's Dream III. ii. 257)
Scorn and disgust for some hated woman is the invariable application of this word in Shakespeare as in the "New Atlantis."Even so quickly may we catch the plague!
Methinks I feel this youth's perfections
With an invisilble and subtle stealth
To creep in at mine eyes.
(Twelfth Night, I .v 314)
So Cymbeline, conceiving a sudden attachment to the disguised Imogen, saysBoy,
Thou hast looked thyself into my grace,
And art mine own.
(Cymbeline V. v. 93)
The two notes of sudden creation, and the origin in the eye are to be observed in all these passages, as in the Sylva Sylvarum. The same idea is implied when Antipholus of Syracuse, professing himself in love, "not made, but mated," is told by Luciana,It is a fault that springeth from your eye.
(Comedy of Errors III ii. 55)
The "affections which draw the spirits into the eyes" are described in detail, in Love's Labour's Lost II. i. 234-247 :Why, all his behaviors did make their retire
To the court of his eye, peeping thorough desire:
His heart, like an agate, with your print impress'd,
Proud with his form, in his eye pride express'd:
His tongue, all impatient to speak, and not see,
Did stumble with haste in his eyesight to be;
All senses to that sense did make their repair
To feel only looking on fairest of fair:
Methought all his senses were lock'd in his eye,
As jewels in crystal for some prince to buy.
The same idea is expressed by Juliet:I'll look to love, if looking liking move;
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
(Romeo & Juliet I iii.97)
Mr. Neil's note on this passage is as follows : "In the Nichomachean Ethics, Book IX., chapter x., Aristotle says that, ' Good will is conceived instantaneoulsy,' that 'Good will is the prelude to friendship exactly as the pleasure of the eye is the prelude to love,' and Shakespeare has put this opinion into verse when he says of Fancy, as love,It is engendered in the eyes,
With gazing fed.
(Merhant Venice III. ii. 67)
This agrees with Plato's suggestion in the Cratylus, that love, is derived from streaming into, or influx." Here is anothe instance in which the poet , with his "small Latin and less Greek," shows intimate acquaintance with some of the most subtle and recondite teachings of Plato and Aristotle.
All these passages, with many others, clearly echo Bacon's Promus Note (1137),equally applicable to poetry and philosophy."The eye is the gate of affection, but the ear of understanding,"
i.e. when any affection takes possession of the spirit, it enters into possession by the avenue of the eye. It is a very subtle notion. Both in the scientific statement and in the poetry love is said to spring from the eye, not merely of the object, but of the subject. Burton says that "Balthazar Castillo calls the eyes.... the lamps of love," so that in the words of Troilus we may detect the Baconian theory of love, and put a more definite interpretation upon them :To feed for aye her lamps and flames of love.
(Tro. Cressida. III. ii. 167)
These lamps and flames are the eyes, which are to be fed by gazing on the appropriate object.
Marlowe's Hero and Leander gives expression to the same philosophy. Hero is at the alter of Venus :There Hero, sacrificing turtles' blood,
Vailed to the ground, veiling her eyelids close;
And modestly they opened as she rose :
Thence flew love's arrow, with the golden head,
And thus Leander was enamoured.
(Hero and Leander I. 158)
The eye thus both gives and receives the dart.
Now Bacon links love and folly in a very extensive way, and very curiously. In the Promus we find this singular bit of antique French, "Un amoureux fait tonjours quelque folagne"(1352) meaning, I presume, one who is in love is always doing something ridiculous. And Bacon, with his wonted habit of giving a large amplification and application to particulars, symbolic or didactic, applies this principle to the love which is expressed by any kind of enthusiasm. Thus he finds in this maxim a fantastic apology for his eagerness in giving advice when it was not asked : He sends his counsels and suggestions, he hopes, "without committing any absurdity:""But if it seem any error for me thus to intromit myself, I pray your Lordship believe that I ever loved her Majesty and State, and now love yourself : and there is never any vehement love without some absurdity; as the Spaniard well saith, Desuario con la calentura" ("Life," III. 46)
Later in life he makes the same apology to the Prince when he sent to him his "Considerations touching a War with Spain" :"Hoping that at least you will discern the strength of my affection through the weakness of my abilities. For the Spaniard hath a good proverb, Desuario siempre con la calentura: there is no heat of affection but is joined with some idleness of brain" (Ibid VII. 470)
And in his discourse, addressed to the King,on plantation in Ireland (January 1st, 1608-9), he hopes that his Majesty " will through the weakness of my ability discern the strength of my affection" (Ibid. IV. 117)
The same sentiment is connected with the proverb Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur. Bacon in his prose nowhere quotes this proverb completely, only partially. But when it is translated into Shakespearean verse, it is given entire:But you are wise;
Or else you love not; for to be wise and love
Exceeds man's might; that dwells with gods above.
(Trol. Cressida III. ii. 162)
In the Essay of "Love," it is thus quoted : "
And therefore it was well said that it is impossible to love and be wise." In Burton's Anatomy" it is quoted in full,"Amare et sapere ipsi Jovi non conceditur, as Seneca holds" (Part III. ii. 3)
In the last sentence of the Statesman's speech in Bacon's "Device" it is thus imperfectly produced :"So that I conclude I have traced him the way to that which hath been granted to some few, amare et sapere, to love and be wise" ("Life," I. 383)
Thus not only love but all high emotion is more or less detached from wisdom. Rapture and reason belong to different types of nature and different departments of conduct or action.
From all these passages we may infer that what, in Bacon's view, is foolish in some respects, may yet be very interesting, and associated even with wisdom in counsel and action; and that however much he may dwell upon the folly and unwisdom of lovers, he can at the same time admire the beauty, sincerity, depth, and fervour of the passion , and even find in the expression of it something both "comely" and useful.
It is true that the folly of lovers has been a shaft for the wits of all ages; but there is this difference between Bacon's wit and that which is current in the jests of other men. Other jesters note the folly, and only laugh at it, they do not reason upon it. With Bacon it is generalized, and finds its proper place in the philosophy of human nature: he takes its measure, and traces its ramifications in other departments of action, besides wooing. So also in Shakespeare, the folly of lovers is not merely an occasion for fun and quizzing; it is an ascertained settled fact, to be reckoned with in any large portraiture of human nature and its activities. Under all toying and laughter, it is easy to see that the poet had a grounded and reasoned opinion that love is always associated with some sort of weakness and folly, and yet that with all this it is excellently fair and attractive. Thus the folly and the beauty are blended; he does not jest in one mood and admire in another; one occasion evokes both sentiments, and in his laughter there is no scorn. As he finds wisdom and folly united in actual life, he has no hesitation in presenting the same blend in his art, which he has found in his philosophy.