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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/392

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384


NOTES AND QUERIES. [9 th s. XL MAY w,


But here is a passage from ' Pappe with an Hatchet,' a tract issued anonymously during "The Martin Mar -prelate Controversy," in which Bacon took an active part, which clearly proves that the tract and ' Hamlet ' are from the same hand :

"No, it is you poore Johns, that with your painted consciences have coloured the religion of divers, spreading through the veynes of the Commonwealth like poyson, the doggednes of your devotions ; which entring in like the smoothnes of oyle into the flesh, f i etteth in time like quicksilver into the bones."

Because the tract repeats over and over again the pet phrases and proverbs of John Lyly, and because its general style bears more than a passing resemblance to that author's, critics have assigned it to Lyly. Other circumstances seem to lend colour to the correctness of the attribution. But how easily the best men may err ! " Things that seem are not the same" (see Peele's

  • Old Wives' Tale,' Dyce, p. 447, col. 2). The

real author is Francis Bacon. If further proof be required, a comparison of the pamphlet with Bacon's known work will yield evidence in his favour in abund- ance. For instance, 'Promus,' No. 909, is " The crowe of the belfry "; and No 536 reads "Allow no swallows under thy roof." ' Pappe with an Hatchet ; dilates on both proverbs, and shows that they have a common reference to busy, malevolent persons, who spread slanders, and, like the chattering birds of the fables, leave nothing but filth in the places that gave them a kindly shelter. There are many allusions to the same proverbs in Ben Jonson. Again, the tract quotes the Latin sentence: "Discite justitiam moniti, et non temnere divos." This sentence is from the '^Eneid,' vi. 620, and Bacon notes it either fully or in part three times in his 'Promus,' Nos. 58, 436, and 1092. It is a significant circumstance that although Bacon, as shown by his repetitions, attached importance to the quotation from Virgil, no instance of its use has been discovered in his known works. He seems to have reserved it exclusively for ' Pappe with an Hatchet.' The tract also refers to the extraordinary Baconian saying that the sun may enter any bad place without being defiled thereby ; and it finds a place for the highly philosophical expression, which Bacon is known to have coined many ages previously, that a fool's bolt is soon shot.

Dr. Theobald observes that some of Bacon's applications of the epithet "sweet" are worth study. It is noted that sweetness, sugar, and honey, are applied to speech in Shakespeare." One need no longer be puzzled to know why his contemporaries


styled Shakespeare "sweet Shakespeare," " honey-tongued Shakespeare." They were really complimenting Bacon on his having imported into the domain of poetry those mellifluous epithets which have since enabled votaries of the Muse to extend their flights even up to the regions of pure fire ; and these epithets as applied to his mask are after all but delicate and flattering reminders of their acknowledgments of indebtedness to their illustrious author Bacon.

But Dr. Theobald has omitted to include in his examples one use of the word " sweet," which has a peculiarly perverse sense, and which is explained many times over in the pages of Ben Jonson.

Bacon's inquiries into the question of odours are most interesting. In ' The Natural His- tory ' he refers to the ancient observation that where a rainbow seems to hang over or to touch the earth, thence arise sweet per- fumes, which are more fragrant and pleasing than those odours which arise when the earth is wetted with soft showers of rain. The cause of the odours, he explains, is not in the rainbow or in the shower, but in the earth itself, which contains certain matter requiring only moisture from the atmosphere to make it break forth into sweetness.

The above enables us to comprehend the extraordinary figure of speech employed by Almanac in 'The Staple of News,' IV. i, where he declares that Pecunia's breath is "as sweet as meadows after rain."

In some way or other Bacon's inquiries seem to be related to the following entry in the ' Promus,' No. 702 :

A sweete dampe (a dislike of moist perfume). For a perfect explanation of this ambiguous entry we must go to Jonson again, who dwells upon the subject of odours ad nauseam in many places, but especially in ' Epigram ' No. 123, ' On the Famous Voyage.'

A heated discussion on odours takes place in 'Bartholomew Fair,' IV. iii., the argu- ment being conducted strictly in accord with the inductive process of reasoning, which forms such a remarkable feature in the Baconian system of philosophy. Finally, the conclusion is reached that all vapours, even sweet vapours or moist perfumes, " shtink." Again, in Act II. of 'Every Man out of his Humour,' Deliro, the fond hus- band, strews flowers and censes perfumes to please his perverse consort, who complained of evil smells in and about the house. But nothing will please Fallace, who greets Deliro's efforts with the remark,

Here 's a sweet stink indeed ! These and other passages in Jonson explain