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FRANCIS BACON, VISCOUNT ST. ALBANS.
Francis Bacon was born in London in 1561. Leaving
Cambridge young, he went to Paris in the suite of Sir Amyas Paulet, there studied law, became M.P. for Middlesex in 1595, Attorney-General in 1613, Lord Keeper in 1617, in 1619 Lord Chancellor and Baron Verulam, in 1620 Viscount St. Albans. He died in 1626. His fall is notorious, his character disputed, his genius incontestable.
OF MASQUES AND TRIUMPHS.
'HESE things are but toys, to come amongst such serious
observations. But yet, since princes will have such things, it is better they should be graced with elegancy, than daubed with cost. Dancing to song, is a thing of great state and pleasure. I understand it, that the song be in quire, placed aloft, and accompanied with some broken music; and the ditty fitted to the device. Acting in song, especially in dialogues, hath an extreme good grace ; I say acting, not dancing, for that is a mean and vulgar thing; and the voices of the dialogue would be strong and manly, a bass and a tenor; no treble; and the ditty high and tragical ; not nice or dainty. Several quires, placed one over against another, and taking the voice by catches, anthem-wise, give great pleasure. Turning dances into figure is a childish curiosity. And generally let it be noted, that those things which I here set down are such, as do naturally take the sense, and not respect petty wonderments. It is true, the alterations of scenes, so it be quietly and without noise, are things of great beauty and pleasure ; for they feed and relieve the eye, before it be full of the same object. Let the scenes abound with light, specially
coloured and varied ; and let the masquers, or any other, that are to come down from the scene, have some motions upon the scene itself before their coming down ; for it draws the eye strangely, and makes it with great pleasure to desire to see that it cannot perfectly discern. Let the songs be loud and cheerful, and not chirpings or pulings. Let the music likewise be sharp and loud, and well placed. The colours that shew best by candlelight, are white, carnation, and a kind of sea-water-green ; and oes or spangs, as they are of no great cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich embroidery, it is lost and not discerned. Let the suits of the masquers be graceful, and such as become the person when the vizards are off; not after examples of known attires ; Turks, soldiers, mariners, and the like. Let anti-masques not be long ; they have been commonly of fools, satyrs, baboons, wild. men, antics, beasts, sprites, witches, Ethiops, pigmies, turquets, nymphs, rustics, cupids, statuas moving, and the like. As for angels, it is not comical 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 jousts, and tourneys, 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 the bravery of their liveries ; or in the goodly furniture of their horses and armour. But enough of these toys.
STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring ; for ornament, is in discourse ; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation ; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humour of a scholar. They perfect Nature, and are perfected by experience : for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them ; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute ; nor to believe and take for granted ; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously ; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books ; else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory ; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise ; poets witty ; the mathematics subtle ; natural philosophy deep ; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores. Nay there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies : like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins ; shooting for the lungs and breast; gentle walking for the stomach ; riding for the head ; and the like. So if a man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics ; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen ; for they are cymini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers' cases. So every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
P. 26, I. 11. Quires seems here to have the double sense, referring both to the place of singing and to the choristers.
P. 27, I. 2. Motions, acting in dumb show.
P. 28, 1. 1. Expert men, practical men, or, as we say more usually now, specialists: this barbarism, however, has not come into legal use where expert kolds its ground
P. 28, 1. 31. Stond, "stoppage."
Ben Jonson, who was born at Westminster in 1574,
and died there in 1637, is not often thought of as a prose writer. His Discoveries, however, a collection of critical and miscellaneous essays, which form his principal work in prose, are of very great merit, showing a conception of English style which for order and symmetry is hardly equalled before Dryden.
ON EDUCATION AND STYLE.
the education of your sons, and especially to the advancement of their studies. To which, though I returned somewhat for the present; which rather manifested a will in me, than gave any just resolution to the thing propounded : I have upon better cogitation called those aids about me, both of mind and memory, which shall venture my thoughts clearer, if not fuller, to your Lordship’s demand. I confess, my Lord, they will seem but petty, and minute things I shall offer to you, being writ for children, and of them. But studies have their infancy as well as creatures—we see in men, even the strongest compositions had their beginnings from milk, and the cradle ; and the wisest tarried some times about apting their mouths to letters and syllables. In their education therefore, the care must be the greater had of their beginnings, to know, examine, and weigh their natures ; which though they be proner in some children to some disciplines; yet are they naturally prompt to taste all by degrees, and with change. For change is a kind of refreshing in studies, and infuseth knowledge by way of recreation. Thence