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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/478

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470


NOTES AND QUERIES. [9< s. XL JUNE is, 1903.


other, accuracy is not his [Shakespeare's]" has to be taken with a qualification.

As to the " other accuracy " which is not Shakespeare's, referred to by MR. YARDLEY, and the "anachronism" adduced by MR. BAYNE, that Shakespeare makes Hector refer to Aristotle in 'Troilus and Cressida,' such inaccuracy was quite characteristic of Bacon. I have shown MR. YARDLEY in ' N. & Q.' that Bacon was twice wrong with regard to Hercules and his golden bowl, and for further errors I would refer him to Bacon's ' Apoph- thegms,' in which he makes mistakes for which, Byron says, a boy at a public school would be soundly thrashed. Here are a few of them. Bacon confounds, in a certain anecdote, a king of Hungary with Richard Cceur de Lion. He attributes to Chilon a saying by Orontes, the son-in-law of Arta- xerxes. What Chilon is accredited by Bacon with saying is, *' Kings' friends and favourites were like casting counters, that sometimes stood for one, sometimes for ten, sometimes for an hundred." It is difficult to know whether to assign to this exclamation of Orontes or to the similar famous allusion in ' A Winter's Tale ' the origin of the modest expression of Lord Brougham, that the Whigs were all ciphers, and he was the only unit in the Cabinet which gave the ciphers their value. Then Bacon fathered the apoph- thegm, " So would I, if I were as Parmenio," to Alexander after the battle of Granicum, although the remark was made after the battle of Issus. He also refers the story of the enemy and the "volleys of arrows" to Antigonus instead of to a Spartan before the battle of Thermopylae. Again, he gives an apophthegm as happening in the time of Hadrian instead of Augustus ; and he writes that the saying, " One of the seven was wont to say that laws were like cobwebs, where the small flies were caught, and the great brake through," was made by a Greek instead of a Scythian. He also ascribes to Deme- trius an apophthegm instead of to Philip of Macedon.

But it may interest MR. BAYNE to learn that his Aristotle instance is not the only error made by Shakespeare with regard to " the Stagirite." In ' Troilus and Cressida ' (1603) we find the lines :

Not much

U nlike young men, whom Aristotle thought Unfit to hear moral philosophy.

It was political, not moral, philosophy against which Aristotle wrote. But, strangely, Bacon perpetrates the same blunder in the 'Advancement of Learning' (published in 1605, but begun in 1603) when


he says : " Young men are not fit auditors of moral philosophy." Is it not very odd that Bacon and Shakespeare make the same error in practically the same year? Is it likely that Bacon would borrow his statement from 'Troilus and Cressida"? I think, therefore, that Bacon's historical inaccuracy has been sufficiently proved.

In reading over the apophthegms of Bacon I was struck by a consecutive pair : the Epicurean's, "that cocks may be made capons, but capons could never be made cocks," reminding one of Shakespeare's "You are cock and capon too" (' Cymbeline') ; and "Chilon would say that gold was tried with the touchstone, and men with gold," which appeared to me somewhat akin to Shake- speare's "Holding out gold that's by the touchstone tried " (' Pericles ').

MR. YARDLEY maintains that " his [Shake- speare's] only Latin quotation is from an elementary school-book." Does this refer to the quotation from the ' Amores ' of Ovid on the title-page of ' Venus and Adonis "I If it does, I can refer MR. YARDLEY to another Latin quotation, placed in the mouth of Gloucester in ' 2 Henry VI.,' II. i., which reads "Tantsene animis ccelestibus irse," taken from the 'JEneid,'! ii. Curiously enough, this very quotation also appears in Bacon's commonplace book, the 'Promus.'

GEORGE STRONACH.

Edinburgh.

" FOLKS " (9 th S. xi. 369, 438).- At the latter reference I find a quotation from a book by Edwards, called ' Words, Facts, and Phrases,' which is a very poor and worthless authority; and from the first edition of Webster; but not a word about the 'H.E.D.' For myself, I prefer the 'H.E.D.,' where I find the true statement of the facts :

" From the fourteenth century onward the plural has been used in the same sense [men, people], and since the seventeenth century is the ordinary form, the singular being archaic or dialectal. The word is now chiefly colloquial, being superseded in more formal use by people."

Twenty-two examples follow, from 1225 to 1882.

Webster's explanation, that it had no plural because it was a collective noun, does not explain anything. According to this, such words as company, troop, and army have no plurals.

The reason why the A.-S. folc had the plural folc is that it belonged to the class of strong neuters with a long stem. It goes, in fact, with such words as the Latin regnum and Greek TCKVOV. In Latin and Greek the plural suffix was very light, and this light