Page images

This is a perfectly serious word, meaning honor in a high degree, with two stem roots and three suffixes, combined according to the rules of medieval Latin. We find it in a charter granted by the See of Rome to a religious house in Genoa in 1187, but not printed until 1644; in Dante's De Vulgare Eloquio, written in or about 1304, translated from the original Latin into Italian and printed for the first time in 1529; in the ' History of Henry VII.' of Italy by Albertus Musatus, a work composed between 1313 (date of Henry's death) and 1330 (date of the author's death), but first printed in 1635; and in the Complaint of Scotland,' anonymous, published at St. Andrews in 1549.

The several passages in these works are as follows:

"Proinde considerata devotione, quam erga nos, et Ecclesiam Ianuensem, nec non et honorificabilitudinitate Ecclesiæ tuæ, Parochiam quam Ecclesia jam dicta in præsentiarum noscitur obtinere, et à quadraginta annis possedit, tibi et successoribus tuis confirmamus, et præsentis scripti patrocinio communimus."Italia Sacra, Tomus Quartus, page 845 (1187).

"Posset adhuc inveniri plurium syllabarum vocabulum, sive verbum; sed quia capacitatem nostrorum omnium carminum superexcedit, ratione præsenti non videtur obnoxium; sicut est illud onorificabilitudinitate, quod duodenâ perficitur syllabâ in Vulgari, et in grammaticâ tredenâ perficitur, in duobus obliquis."1- De Vulgari Eloquio, lib. ii. cap. vii. (cir. 1304).

“Nam et maturius cum rex prima Italiæ ostia contigisset, legatos illo dux ipse direxerat cum regalibus exeniis Honorificabilitudinitatis et obsequentiæ ullius causa, quibus etiam inhibitum pedes osculari regios.”—De Gestis Henrici VII. page 17 (1313–1330).

1 Translation of the passage from Dante:

"A name or word might be found with more syllables still; but as it would exceed the capacity of all our lines, it does not appear to fall into the present discussion. Such a word is onorificabilitudinitate, which runs in Italian to twelve syllables, and in Latin to thirteen, in two of the oblique cases."

The case endings to which Dante refers are, of course, the dative and ablative plural, in which the word (as used in 'Love's Labor's Lost') has thirteen syllables, thus: honorificabilitudinitatibus.

"Ther vas ane uther that writ in his verkis, gaudet Honorificabilitudinitatibus." - Complaint of Scotland (1549).


The first edition of 'Love's Labor's Lost' was printed in 1598; the play was probably written in or about 1588.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Professor Nichol refers to this extraordinary parallelism in his Biography of Bacon, showing by dates that Bacon could not have copied from Shake-speare, nor Shake-speare from Bacon. The sentence from Bacon is found in a private letter, written in 1595, but not made public till 1657. The production of 'Coriolanus' is assigned to a date not earlier than 1612. The play was first printed in 1623.

"Cæsar. I am constant as the northern star,

Of whose true fixed and resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament. The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks;

They are all fire, and every one

doth shine;

But there's but one in all doth hold

his place.



"He [Julius Cæsar] referred all things to himself, and was the truest centre of his own actions." -Character of Julius Cæsar (circa 1601).

1 First discovered by Mr. George Stronach of Edinburgh, and communicated to the public by the poet Henry Dryerre, Esq., in the 'People's Friend (Dundee), May 16, 1898.

So in the world; 't is furnish'd well with men,

And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;

But in the number I do know but


That, unassailable, holds on his rank,

Unshak'd of motion."

Julius Caesar, iii. 1 (1623).

As to the cause of Cæsar's downfall we have also an exact parallelism between the two authors, thus:



From Shake-speare

"This was the noblest Roman of
them all ;

All the conspirators, save only he,
Did what they did in envy of great
Cæsar."- Ibid., v. 5.

From Bacon

"How to extinguish envy he knew excellently well, and thought it an object worth purchasing even by the sacrifice of dignity; and being in quest of real power, he was content during the whole course of his life to decline and put by all the empty show and pomp and circumstance of it, thus throwing the envy upon others; until at last, whether satiated with power or corrupted by flattery, he aspired likewise to the Eternal emblems thereof, the name of King and the Crown, which turned to his destruction." — Ibid.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In one of Bacon's letters to Sir Toby Matthew, written in 1609, he refers to this tract on the Character of Julius Cæsar' as having been in existence, at least in an early draft, for several years. It seems probable, therefore, that the prose study and the Play (circa 1601) were substantially of the same date.

[blocks in formation]

This story was told by Valerius Maximus and the elderPliny, Latin authors of the first century A. D.; and also partially by Diogenes Laertius, a Greek writer of the second century; but no one of these works, Greek or Latin, had been translated into English at the date when the play of 'Richard II.' was produced.

In our sustaining corn."

"Idle weeds that grow

From Bacon

"What a proof of patience is displayed in the story of Anaxarchus, who, under torture, bit out his own tongue (the only hope of information) and spat it into the face of the tyrant."— De Augmentis, (1622).


King Lear, iv. 4 (1608).

"There be certain corn-flowers which come seldom or never in other places unless they be set, but only amongst corn."- Natural History (1622–25).

The play antedated the history; but the explanation which Bacon gives of the alleged phenomenon and his list of the flowers that grow amongst corn, indicate the common paternity of the two quoted passages, as follows:

"There be certain corn-flowers which come seldom or never in other places, unless they be set, but only amongst corn; as the

blue-bottle, a kind of yellow marygold, wild poppy and fumitory. Neither can this be by reason of the culture of the ground, by ploughing or furrowing, as some herbs and flowers will grow but in ditches new cast; for if the ground lie fallow and unsown, they will not come; so as it should seem to be the corn that qualifieth the earth, and prepareth it for their growth."


From Shake-speare

"Beast with many heads." Coriolanus, iv. 1 (1623).1


From Bacon

"Beast with many heads."

Charge against Talbot (1614). "Monster with many heads." Conference of Pleasure (1592).

This is a characterization of the people, as distinguished from the nobility. Shakspere, one of the people; Bacon, one of the nobility.

"Nay, worse than this, worse than his servility to royalty and rank, we never find him speaking of the poor with respect, or alluding to the working classes without detestation or contempt. We can understand these tendencies as existing in Lord Bacon, born as he was to privilege, and holding office from a queen; but they seem utterly at variance with the natural instincts of a man who had sprung from the body of the people, and who, through the very pursuits of his father and likewise from his own beginning, may be regarded as one of the working classes himself.". GEORGE WILKES' Shakespeare from an American Point of View.

"There's no art

To find the mind's construction in the face."

Macbeth, i. 4 (1623).



1 'Coriolanus' was written in 1612-19.

"Neither let that be feared which is said, fronti nulla fides [There's no trusting to the face], which is meant of a general outward behavior." — Advancement of Learning (1603-5).

« PreviousContinue »