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pigmies, turquets,1 nymphs, rustics, Cupids, statues moving, and the like. As for angels, it is not comical2 enough to put them in anti-masques; and anything that is hideous, as devils, giants, is, on the other side, as unfit; but chiefly, let the music of them be recreative, and with some strange changes. Some sweet odours suddenly coming forth, without any drops falling, are, in such a company, as there is steam and heat, things of great pleasure and refreshment. Double masques, one of men, another of ladies, addeth state and variety; but all is nothing, except the room be kept clear and neat.
For justs, and tourneys,3 and barriers, the glories * of them are chiefly in the chariots, wherein the challengers make their entry, especially if they be drawn with strange beasts, as lions, bears, camels, and the like; or, in the devices of their entrance, or in bravery * of their liveries, or in the goodly; furniture of their horses and armour. But enough of these toys.
'These things are but toys . . . .'
Bacon seems to think some kind of apology necessary for treating of matters of this kind in the midst of grave treatises. But his taste seems to have lain a good deal this way. He is reported to have always shown a great fondness for splendour and pageantry, and everything that could catch the eye, and make a'display of wealth and magnificence. This may bo accounted, in such a great -philosopher, something frivolous. It is worth remarking that the term ' frivolous' is always applied (by those who use language with care and correctness) to a great interest shown about things that are little to the person in question. For, little and great,—trifling or important,—are relative terms. If a grown man or woman were to be occupied with a doll, this would be called excessively frivolous; but no one calls a little girl frivolous for playing with a doll.
1 Turquets. (Probably) Turks.
- Comical. Comic .
a Tourneys. Tournaments.
'Not but the mode of that romantic age,
The age of tourneys, triumphs, and quaint mosques,
Glared with fantastic pageantry which dimmed
The sober eye of truth, and dazzled e'en
The sage himself.'—Mason.
* Glory. Splendour; magnificence. 'Solomon, in'all his glory, was not arrayo! like one of these.'—MatOieio.
5 Bravery. Finery. 'In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet.'—Isaiak iii. 18.
'A stately ship, with all her bravery on,
ESSAY XXXVIII. OF NATURE IN MEN.
NATURE is often bidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished. Force maketh nature more violent in the return; doctrine and discourse maketh nature less importune;' but custom only doth alter and subdue nature. He that seeketb victory over his nature, let him not set himself too great nor too small tasks; for the first will make him dejected by often failing, and the second will make him a small proceeder, though by often prevailing. And, at the first, let him practise with helps, as swimmers do with bladders or rushes; but, tifter a time, let him practise with disadvantages, as dancers do with thick shoes; for it breeds great perfection if the practice be harder than the use. Where nature is mighty, and therefore the victory hard, the degrees had need bo, first to stay and arrest nature in time; (like to him that would say over the four-and-twenty letters when he was angry); then to go less in quantity; as if one should, in forbearing wine, come from drinking healths to a draught at a meal; and, lastly, to discontinue altogether; but if a man haTe the fortitude and resolution to enfranchise himself at once, that
is the best:—
'Optimua illo animi vindex, Uodentia pectus
Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature as a wand, to a contrary extreme, whereby to set it right; understanding it where the contrary extreme is no vice. Let not a man force a habit upon himself with a perpetual continuance, but with some intermission, for both the pause reinforceth the new onset; and if a man that is not perfect be ever in practice, he shall as well practise his errors as his abilities, and induce one habit of both; and there is no means to help this but by seasonable intermission. But let not a man trust his victory over his nature too far, for nature will lie buried a great time, and yet revive upon the occasion or temptation; like as it was with JJsop's damsel, turned from a eat to a woman, who sat very demurely at the board's end till a mouse ran before her; therefore, let a man either avoid the occasion altogether, or put himself often to it, that he may be little moved with it.;
1 Importune. Importunate; troublesome. Soo pogo 105.
2 'Ho is tho best nssertor of the soul, who bursts the bonds that gall his brosot, and buffers all, nt oucc.'—Ovid, It. Amor. 293.
A man's nature is best perceived in privateness,1 for there is no affectation in passion; for that putteth a man out of his precepts: and in a new case or experiment, for there custom leaveth him. They are happy men whose natures sort2 with their vocations ;3 otherwise they may say, 'Multum incola fuit anima mea/ * when they converse5 in those things they do not affect.6 In studies, whatsoever a man commandeth upon himself, let him set hours for it; but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, let him take no care for any set times; for his thoughts will fly to it of themselves, so as the spaces of other business or studies will suffice. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.
ANTTTHETA ON NATURE IN MEN.
'Consuetudo contra nftturom, quasi 'Cogitamus secundum nntnr.un; lo
tyrannis qua>dam est; et cito, ac levi quimur secundum prajecpta ; sod agimus
oeeasione corruit . secundum eonsuetudinem.
'Custom, when contrary to nature, is a 'We think according to our nature;
hind of usurpation over it; and is quickly we speak according to instruction; but
overthrown on the most trifling occasion.' see act accordiny to custom.'
'Privateness. Privacy. Sec page 116. 'Sort. Suit. See page 82.
3 Vocation. Calling in life. See page 23.
* • My soul has been long a sojourner.'
s Converse. To have one's waij of life in. See 'Conversation,' page 302. 'Let your conversation be as becometh tho Gospel of Christ.'—I'hil. i. 27. 'Octavia is of a holy and still conversation.'—Shakespere.
* Affect. To like.
'Dost thou affert her ?'— Shakenpere,
* Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend Nature as a wand, totk contrary extreme, whereby to set it right.'
This 'ancient rule'1 needs to be qualified by a caution against 'bending the wand' too far: an error sometimes committed by well-intentioned persons. If A. confesses, and with truth, that he is conscious of a natural tendency towards parsimony, and B. that his natural leaning is towards careless prodigality, it is yet possible we may find, in practice, —greatly to the astonishment of some—that A. errs, when he does err, generally on the side of profusion, and B. on that of parsimony; each having guarded exclusively against a danger on one side, and thinking that he cannot go too far the other way. So,' also, one who is excessively in dread of over-deference for some highly esteemed and venerated friend, may, perhaps, in practice, 'bend the, wand' too far the other way. His veneration will then be theoretical and general; while, practically, and in almost every particular instance, he will be cherishing, as a matter of duty, a strong prejudice against every proposal, decision, measure, institution, person, or thing, that his friend approves.
I have noticed in the 'Annotations' on Essay VI. a like error, in carrying to a faulty excess the endeavour to repress all 01 feelings towards one who has injured one's self: the error, namely, of breaking down, in his favour, the boundaries of right and wrong, and treating a man as blameless or laudable, because it is to us he has done a wrong.
'A man's nature is best perceived in privateness; .... in passion: . . . . and in a new case or experiment'
To this excellent list of things that show nature, Bacon might have added, in small things rather than great. 'A straw best shows how the wind blows.' The most ordinary and unimportant actions of a man's life will often show more of his
Aristotle's: sec Eth. Nicom. b. ii.