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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/207

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BACON ON HERCULES (9 th S. xi. 65, 154). MR. YARDLEY is right in his contention that Bacon was in error when he described Hercules, on his voyage to unbind Prometheus, sailing in " an earthen pot or pitcher." There are several references in classical works to this story about Hercules, but none of them speaks of his voyage in such a utensil. His method of travel is generally a golden cup. Bacon repeats this error in his ' De Sapientia Veterum,' chap, xxvi., where he says : 'Ante omnia navigatio ilia Herculis in wceo ad liberandum Prometheum." But, as Horace says, " Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus ! " The mistakes made in the Shakespearean dramas are often cited as proof that the plays could not have been written by Bacon, but Baconians do not claim Bacon as infallible, as if your readers will refer to Lord Byron's notes on the fifth canto of * Don Juan/ they will find that in his * Apophthegms ' Bacon made numerous errors in his history. Byron gives ten specimens, and says, " They are but trifles, and yet for such trifles a schoolboy would be whipped (if still in the fourth form)." Voltaire, it may be mentioned, although a wonderful scholar, fell into similar mistakes, according to these most interesting notes of Byron, which display not only extensive reading, but rare critical acumen, for the possession of which few give him credit.


Edinburgh. _


Shakespere and his Forerunners: Studies in Eliza- bethan Poetry and its Development from Early English. By Sidney Lanier. 2 vols. (Heine- mann.)

MUCH as has been written in recent, as in former years, concerning Shakespeare by critics English, American, French, German, and Scandinavian Mr. Lanier finds something fresh to say. He even approaches the mountain from a new point, and though \ve are far from asserting that the ascent to the summit is easier from the point selected, we ob- tain views of new slopes and passes, and perhaps of one or two as yet unexplored peaks. It is a strange, rambling course over which Mr. Lanier leads us, and we feel at times as if the purpose with which we set out had been abandoned, and as if our backs were at others turned upon the object of our quest. So rich and pleasant a land is it that we are never other than pleased, and are content at our guide's bidding to climb, to wander, or to rest. Mr. Sid- ney Lanier is, or was, recognized as a poet of much originality and of real, if unequal power. He is better known in America, where the present volumes are printed, than in this country. The con- ditions under which this latest work is issued are un- usual. Much of it is addressed primarily to women, and the whole, being posthumous, has not received its author's final arrangement or revision. It con-

tains, according to prefatory explanations, "two sets of Shakespere lectures delivered by Mr. Lanier in Baltimore during the winter of 1879-80, one at Johns Hopkins University, the other to a class of ladies at Peabody Institute." They were penned under stress of illness that ultimately proved fatal, with no idea of being included in a book, and, with the exception of a few chapters that appeared re- cently in LippineotCs Magazine and Modern Culture, have remained until now unprinted.

From other works on kindred subjects the pre- sent, which is regarded as Mr. Lanier's chief accom- plishment, and is edited by Mr. Henry Wysham Lanier, differs in many respects, and in none more than this, that comparisons or illustrations are drawn not only or chiefly from Shakespeare's contempora- ries, but from predecessors, often remote. Those by the light of whose words or deeds Mr. Lanier's hearers or readers are invited to contemplate Shakespeare include 'Beowulf,' St. Juliana, 'The Address of the Dead Soul to its Body,' Chaucer, " neglected Scotch poets of the fourteenth century," Surrey, Wyatt, and the sonneteers generally. From dis- jointed memoranda which the lecturer left behind he appears to have contemplated wandering very far afield. What he has done impresses us by its display of erudition, varied rather than deep, the keen perception of analogies, its buoyancy, and, in an eminent degree, its suggestiveness. To his demise, which we take to have been premature, we may attribute it that his suggestion is occasionally remote and strained. Take, for instance, a note such as the following, which, considered super- ficially, is delightful : "All Shakespere's Fools love the virtuous characters, recognize their goodness, and pathetically serve them : witness Lear's Fool, &c." It would be more truthful to say, as a generalization, that Shakespeare's Fools are amiable creatures, easily attaching themselves to their superiors. Feste appears to be fond of Sir Toby Belch, who is anything except a virtuous character. One of the most touching things in Shakespeare is the impious wish framed by Bardolph, who, however, it may be urged, is scarcely intended for a fool, on hearing of the death 01 his wholly unedifying master Sir John Falstaff.

Singularly wide is the field covered so wide that an essay rather than a notice is requisite to do justice to it. The opening chapters, dealing with the technique and verse, should, it appears, be studied by the side of the author's previously pub- lished ' Science of English Verse,' which we nave not seen. A comparison between the rules govern- ing music and verse is begun, but soon quitted in favour of a glimpse at the supernatural in Eng- lish verse from the earliest time. A following chapter compares 'Beowulf ' with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Subsequently St. Juliana is paralleled with ' Love's Labour 's Lost.' We have ' The Wife in Early English Poetry ' ; then branch off to ' The Sonnet Makers from Surrey to Shakespere'; and the first volume ends with a chapter on 'Pronunciation in Shakespere's Time.' How unmethodical is the treatment is shown. We yield ourselves unreluctantly, however, and are content to follow our author whither he takes us.

There are no errors worth speaking of, the only one of importance we trace being " Ideas " instead of Idea as the title of Drayton's sonnet sequence. We in this country, however, know the ' Fidessa ' of Griffin, the ' Diana' of Constable, the ' Castara' of Habington, and similar poems better than