Edward George Harman.

Edmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon online

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firste Copyes of these Posyes. True it is that I was not
unwillinge the same shoulde bee imprinted. . . ." If this
statement is Gascoigne's, or sanctioned by Gascoigne, it
disposes of the elaborate pretences of the first edition ;
though how it could have been arranged in his absence in
Holland is not easy to see. One of the notes of the
" Editor " of that edition runs : " I will now deliver unto


you SO many more of Master Gascoigne's Poems as have
come into my hands, who hath never beene dayntie of his
doings, and therfore I conceale not his name." There
may or may not have been some understanding with
regard to publication. On the whole I think it is quite
possible that there was not (in regard at any rate to
some of the pieces), and that " H. W." is speaking the
truth when he says, " This I have adventured for thy
contentation (learned Reader)." The disclaimer in the
address (No. i) of 1575 as to receiving money would
then be a sort of justification of himself But Gascoigne,
who was evidently in very distressed circumstances, and
who " hath never beene dayntie of his doings," would
probably be glad enough to have such a collaborator,
with influence and means at his disposal, for without
them how could any man in those days get books
printed ? It is difficult enough now. Milton received
ten pounds for Paradise Lost. The " patron " was the
only resource, and we find Gascoigne, on his return from
the wars, appealing to Lord Grey in the dedication of a
piece entitled The Fruites of Warre, written, as he states,
" by peecemeale at sundrye tymes, as the Aucthour had
vacaunt leysures from service, being begon at Delfe in
Hollande . . ." The dedication begins : " My singular
good Lorde : I am of opinion that long before this time
your honour hath thoroughly perused the booke, which I
prepared to bee sent unto you somewhat before my
comming hyther, and therewithall I doe lykewise
conjectour that you have founde therein just cause
to laugh at my follies forepassed." This presumably
refers to the first edition of the Posies^ and as
"comming hyther" means coming to England, Gascoigne
must have been in communication with some one at
home about sending the book. This cannot refer to the
publication, which occurred soon after Gascoigne went
abroad. I do not say that this person was young Francis
Bacon, or that he actually conducted the business of
publishing the book ; in an Elizabethan household like
that of York House there would be retainers from among


whom a discreet and trustworthy person for such
business could be found. My contention is that in some
way or other he intervened in order to get his own work
included in the book, and that this was a practice to
which he had recourse throughout his Hfe. That, as a
lad, he was a friend of Gascoigne is highly probable, as
he must have had many opportunities of meeting him
among the people who hung about the Court and such
houses as York House. There is indeed, in my opinion,
evidence of such an intimacy in the Harvey " Letter-
book," in which references to Gascoigne occur.

To recur to the first address in the 1575 edition of
the Posies (" To the reverende Divines "), — the writer
says : " These considerations (right reverend) did first
move me to consent that these Poemes should passe in
print." He gives a further reason, that " being busied in
martiall affayres (whereby also I sought some advance-
ment) I thought good to notifie unto the w^orlde before
my returne, that I could as well persuade with Penne, as
pearce with launce or weapon." The style is full of
affectations, utterly unlike the homely utterance of
Gascoigne (compare it with his dedicatory epistles for
T/ic Fruites of Warrc and The Steele Glas). Two
examples will suffice, one of youthful conceit of learning,
or more probably of mere sport ; the other an experiment
in the construction of an elaborate literary style, which,
derived from foreign models, came later to be known in
England (through the genius, in my opinion, of the
same writer waywardly employed) as " Euphuism." ^

For recapitulation whereof, and to answere unto the objections

' Professor Courthope {A History of English Poetry) notes this feature in
Gascoigne in connection with the title of the first edition of the Posies,
which, he says, " is very interesting as marking the approach of Euphuism."
The title-page runs as follows : " A Hundreth sundrie Flowres bounde up in
one small Poesie. Gathered partely (by translation) in the fyne outlandish
Gardins of Euripides, Ouid, Petrarke, Ariosto, and others : and partly by
inuention, out of our owne fruitefuU Orchardes in Englande : Velding sundrie
sweete savours of Tragical, Comical, and Morall Discourses, bothe pleasaunt
and profitable to the well smellyng noses of learned Readers." This is by
the Editor or " Printer," and reflects his reading and tastes at that time. It
also bears evidence of his keen sense of the ridiculous, repressed with difficulty,
and emerging in all sorts of unexpected places.


that may be given : I say to the first that I neither take example
of wanton Ovid, doting Nigidius, nor foolish Samocratius. But
I delight to thinke that the reverend father Theodore Beza, whose
life is worthily become a lanterne to the whole worlde, did not
yet disdaine to suffer the continued publication of such Poemes
as he wrote in youth.

To the fourth and last considerations, I had alledged of late
by a right reverende father, that although in deede out of everie
floure the industrious Bee may gather honie, yet by proofe the
Spider thereout also sucks mischeevous poyson.

It will be noticed that practically the same sentence
occurs in the address of the Printer to the Reader in the
1573 edition (see p. 217 above). It is repeated in the
second address (" To al yong Gentlemen ").

The second address Is in a more vivacious vein than
the first, the author changing his tone with his audience.
I consider it is mainly, if not wholly, the work of the
author of the first address, written for Gascoigne. The
best thing in it is the "chaff" about the matter-of-
fact and unlettered simplicity of his age in England :

Laugh not at this (lustie yonkers) since the pleasant dittie
of the noble Erie of Surrey (beginning thus : Li winters just
returne) was also construed to be made indeed by a Shepeherd.
What shoulde I stande much in rehersall how the L. Vaux his
dittie (beginning thus : / loth that I did love) was thought by
some to be made upon his death bed ? and that the Soulknill
of M. Edwards was also written in extremitie of sicknesse ? Of
a truth (my good gallants) there are such as having only lerned
to read English, do interpret Latin, Greke, French and Italian
phrases or metaphors, even according to their owne motherly
conception and childish skill,

I pass over the " Commendatory Verses," with their
various initials, one or more of which may well have
been written by the author of the " H. W." and " G. T."
epistles. This device occurs frequently in connection
with subsequent publications which I believe are to be
attributed to Francis Bacon, and was part of his method,
in the absence of any organ of literary criticism, of
advertising and "reviewing" his own work.

In the 1575 edition of the Posies Bacon's work


begins, in my opinion, after " The greene Knights
farewell to Fansie," with " The Adventures of Master
F. J." It would weary the reader if I went into this
story in detail and discussed the various evidence of my
theory from points of style ; but I may note what
appears to be a piece of self-revelation. The writer is
describing the amours of the Dame and the Knight, and
breaks off with the remark : " But why holde I so long
discourse in descrybyng the joyes whiche (for lacke of
like experience) I cannot set out to the full," If this is
not taken from an original, it points to the juvenility of
the writer. There is one very remarkable poem in the
" Adventures," in which Queen Elizabeth is evidently
referred to under the name of " Cynthia." One stanza
begins as follows :

Good reason yet, that to my simple skill, ^

I should the name of Cynthia adore :

By whose high helpe, I might beholde the more,

My Ladies lovely lookes at mine owne will.

With deepe content, to gaze, and gaze my fill.

Another stanza contains a beautiful fancy :

Wherefore at better leasure thought I best,

To trie the treason of his trecherie :

And to exalt my Ladies dignitie

When Phoebus fled and drewe him downe to rest.

Amid the waves that waiter in the west,

I gan behold this lovely Ladies face.

" Dan Phoebus " may possibly contain a reference
to Leicester, but the meaning is obscure. The same
" conceit " of Cynthia regarding benevolently another
love occurs in the Epit/ialaviion of Spenser.

The " Adventures," which are in places somewhat
loose, end, in the 1575 edition, with a homily :

And to that ende I have recyted this Fable which maye serve
as ensample to wariie the youthfull reader from attempting the
lyke worthies enterprise. . . . Desiring the gentle reader, rather
to make example of reformation therein, then to finde faulte at
the homelye handling of the same.

* "My simple skill." A favourite mannerism of Bacon, whether wriung
in his own or under another name. See Chapter V.


This is characteristic of the writer, whose purpose is
to interest the light-minded, and at the same time to
disarm the hostility of the sterner sort.

" A translation of Ariosto allegorized " with which
the piece concludes in the 1573 edition, but which is
omitted from the 1575 edition, is probably by the same

Nine poems follow which complete the " Weedes."
Of these I think it is highly probable that Francis
Bacon wrote the one about Cleopatra, partly from a
certain enthusiasm and childishness of style, partly from
the fact that he reappears (in my opinion) in the same
subject in a poem published in 1599 under the name
of Daniel (" A Letter from Octavia to Marcus Antonius ").
The heading of this poem anticipates the tricks of the
earlier Shakespearian humour : " In praise of a gentle-
woman, who though she were not verye fayre, yet was
she as harde favoured as might be."

The volume closes with " Certayne notes of Instruction
concerning the making of verse or ryme in English,
written at the request of Master Edouardo Donati." This
appears for the first time in the edition of 1575. The
subject with which it deals is the last one in the world
which could have occupied the attention of Gascoigne
during the hardships of his campaign. The Fniites
of Warre is in itself evidence of this. Moreover it is
not stated that the piece is by Gascoigne ; it is not
included in the tables of contents of" Flowers," " Hearbes"
and " Weedes " ; no motto is placed at the end (as
Gascoigne's practice was) ; the style is quite unlike any of
his authentic work, and the matter, in my opinion, is
whf>lly beyond his capacity.

Following the method which I have adopted in order
to assist the reader in judging for himself without the
labour of research, I give a few extracts :

Sipior Edouardo, since promise is debt, and you (by the lawe
of friendship) do burden me with a promise that I shoulde lende


you instructions towards the making of English verse or ryme, I
will assaye to discharge the same, though not so perfectly as
I would, yet as readily as I may : and therwithall I pray you
consider that Quot hofnines, tot Sente?itice, especially in Poetrie,
wherein (neuerthelesse) I dare not challenge any degree, and yet
will I at your request aduenture to set downe my simple skill in
such simple manner as I haue vsed, referring the same hereafter
to the correction of the Laureate, And you shall haue it in
these few poynts foUowyng.

The first and most necessarie poynt that euer I founde meete
to be considered in making of a delectable poeme is this, to
grounde it upon some fine inuention. For it is not inough to
roll in pleasant woordes, nor yet to thunder in Jiym, Ram, Ruff,
by letter (quoth my master Chaucer) nor yet to abounde in apt
vocables, or epythetes, vnlesse the Inuention haue in it also
aliquid sails. By this allquid sails, I meane some good and fine
deuise, shewing the quicke capacitie of a writer : and where I
say some good a7id fine Inuention, I meane that I would haue it
both fine and good. For many inuentions are so superfine, that
they are Vix good. And againe many Inuentions are good, and
yet not finely handled. And for a general forwarning : what
Theame soeuer you do take in hande, if you do handle it but
tanqiiam In oratlone perpetua, and neuer studie for some depth
of deuise in ye Inuention, and some figures also in the handlyng
thereof; it will appeare to the skilfuU Reader but a tale of a tubbe.
To deliuer vnto you generall examples it were almoste vnpossible,
sithence the occasions of Inuentions are (as it were) infinite :
neuerthelesse take in worth mine opinion, and perceyue my furder
meanyng in these few poynts. If I should vndertake to wryte
in prayse of a gentlewoman, I would neither praise hir christal
eye, nor hir cherrie lippe, etc. For these things are trlta et
obula. But I would either finde some supernaturall cause wherby
my penne might walke in the superlatiue degree, or els I would
vndertake to aunswere for any imperfection that shee hath, and
therevpon rayse the prayse of hir commendation. Likewise if I
should disclose my pretence in loue, I would eyther make a
strange discourse of some intollerable passion, or finde occasion
to pleade by the example of some historie, or discouer my dis-
quiet in shadowes per Allegorlatn, or vse the couertest meane
that I could toanoyde the vncomely customes of common writers.
Thus much I aduenture to deliuer vnto you (my freend) vpon
the rule of Inuention, which of all other rules is most to be
marked, and hardest to be prescribed in certayne and infallible
rules, neuerthelesse to conclude therein, I would haue you stand



most vpon the excellencie of your Inuention, and sticke not to
studie deepely for some fine deuise. For that beyng founde,
pleasant woordes will follow well inough and fast inough. . . .

And surely I can lament that wee are fallen into suche a
playne and simple manner of wryting, that there is none other
foote vsed but one : wherby our Poemes may iustly be called
Rithmes, and cannot by any right challenge the name of a Verse.
But since it is so, let vs take the forde as we finde it, and lette
me set downe vnto you suche rules and precepts that euen in this
playne foote of two syllables you wreste no woorde from his
natural and vsuall sounde, I do not meane hereby that you may
vse none other wordes but of twoo sillables, for therein you may
vse discretion according to occasion of matter : but my meaning
is, that all the wordes in your verse be so placed as the first
Billable may sound short or be depressed, the second long or
eleuate, the third shorte, the fourth long, the fifth shorte, etc.
For example of my meaning in this point marke these two
verses :

I vriderstand your meanying by your eye?-

\ I \ I \ I \ I \ I

Your meaning I vnderstand by your eye.

In these two verses there seemeth no difference at all, since
the one hath the very selfe same woordes that the other hath,
and yet the latter verse is neyther true nor pleasant, and the first
verse may passe the musters. The fault of the latter verse is
that this worde vnderstand is therein so placed as the graue
accent falleth upon der^ and thereby maketh der, in this word
understand to be eleuated : which is contrarie to the naturall
or vsual pronunciation : for we say

\ \ / \ / \

vnderstand, and not vnderstand.

5. Here by the way I thinke it not amisse to forewarne you that
you thrust as few wordes of many sillables into your verse as may
be : and herevnto I might alledge many reasons : first the most
auncient English wordes are of one sillable, so that the more
monasyllables that you vse, the truer Englishman you shall
seeme, and the lesse you shall smell of the Inkehorne. Also
wordes of many syllables do cloye a verse and make it vnpleasant,
whereas woordes of one syllable will more easily fall to be shorte
or long as occasion rcquireth, or wilbe adapted to become cir-
cumflexe or of an indifferent sounde. . . .

12. This poeticall licence is a shrewde fellow, and couereth

' A rough figure is printed over the line, indicating the accent.


many faults in a verse, it maketh wordes longer, shorter, of mo
Billables, of fewer, newer, older, truer, falser, and to conclude it
turkeneth all things at pleasure, for example, ydone for done,
adowne for dow?ie, orecome for ouercome, tane for taken, poiver for
po7vre, heauen for /leavn, ihewes for good partes or good qualities,
and a numbre of other whiche were but tedious and needelesse
to rehearse, since your owne iudgement and readyng will soone
make you espie such aduauntages. . . .

14. . . . And the commonest sort of verse which we use now
adayes {viz. the long verse of twelve and fourtene sillables) I
know not certainly how to name it, unlesse I should say that it
doth consist of Poulters measure, which giveth xii for one dozen
and xiiii for another. . . .

16. I had forgotten a notable kinde of ryme, called ryding
rime, and that is suche as our Mayster and Father Chaucer vsed
in his Canterburie tales, and in diuers other delectable and light
enterprises : but though it come to my remembrance somewhat
out of order, it shall not yet come altogether out of time, for I
will nowe tell you a conceipt whiche I had before forgotten to
wryte : you may see (by the way) that I holde a preposterous
order in my traditions, but as I sayde before I wryte moued by
good wil, and not to shewe my skill. Then to returne too my
matter, as this riding rime serueth most aptly to wryte a merie tale,
so Rythme royall is fittest for a graue discourse. Ballades are
beste of matters of loue, and rondlettes moste apt for the beating
or handlyng of an adage or common prouerbe : Sonets serue
aswell in matters of loue as of discourse : Dizaymes and Sixames
for shorte Fantazies : Verlayes for an effectual proposition,
although by the name you might otherwise iudge of Verlayes,
and the long verse of twelue and fouretene sillables, although it be
now adayes vsed in all Theames, yet in my iudgement it would
serue best for Psalmes and Himpnes.

These extracts will suffice to show the spirit in which
this little treatise is written. It is, in my belief, a juvenile
effort, and the spirit which animates it is the same
ambitious, zealous and patriotic spirit as inspires the letter
of " G. T." and subsequently those of "Immerito" and
other similar treatises. This little work is of exceptional
interest as showing (if my view is right) at what an early
age the author of it began the exercise of his art, and
what an extraordinary grasp he had of the details as well
as the principles of it. It is, in my opinion, the first of a
series in which identity of authorship seems to me self-


evident, though the works appeared under different
names, viz. —

A Discourse of English Poetrie, by William Webbe, Graduate,


The Arte of English Foesie, published anonymously, and
reputed (though on most inadequate authority) to be by one
George Puttenham, 1589.

An Apologiefor Poetrie, by Sir Philip Sidney, 1595.

A Defence of Pytne, by " Sa. D." (Samuel Daniel), 1603.

In addition to the works which I have discussed (and
the two plays translated from Ariosto and Euripides,
Supposes diWd Jocasta, which belong to 1566) the works
of Gascoigne comprise a series of pieces, in verse and
prose, beginning with a play in prose entitled The Glasse
of Governement, dated 26th April 1575, and ending with
a series of four poems entitled The Grief of f aye, which
were dedicated to Queen Elizabeth on ist January 1577.
Gascoigne died in October of that year.

To prove that these works are not all by Gascoigne
is perhaps a long and difficult task, but the conclusion is
of such crucial importance to my argument, and so much
more flows from it, that I must ask the reader's indulgence
while I attempt it. In brief, my contention will be that
out of eleven pieces five only are by Gascoigne, and the
other six are by Francis Bacon. The following is the list,
in order of time, with the dates of the dedications, which
should be specially noted.

Date of Dedication. Title,

26th April 1575. (Sir Owen

Hopton) . . . The Glasse of Governement.

I St January 1576. (The

Queen) .... The Tale of Hemetes the Here-

myte. Pronounced before the
Queen at Woodstock, 1575.
26th March 1576. (The

Printer to the Reader) . The Princely Pleasures at Kenel-

worth Castle. July 1575.
*i6lh April 1575. Date of
dedication. (Lord Grey of
Wilton.) 3rd April 1576.
Dale of completion . . The Complaynt of Phylomene.


1 2th April 1576, (To the

Reader) .... Prefatory Epistle to A Dis-
course of a Discoverie for
a netu Passage to Cataia.
Written by Sir Hu7nfrey
Gilbert^ Kmght.
*i5th April 1576. (Begun
April 1575.) (Lord Grey
of Wilton) . . .The Steele Glas.

2nd May 1576. (The Earl

of Bedford) . . . The Droomme of Doomes day.

loth August 1576. (Lewis

Dyve of Broomham) . A delicate Diet for daintie-

mouthde Doonkardes.
*i576. (Short piece, undated) In com??ie?idatio?i of the 7iobk

Arte of Venerie.
*2 5th November 1576 . . The Spoyle of Antwerfe.
*ist January 1577. (The

Queen) .... The Grief of Joye.

Only those marked * are, in my opinion, by Gascoigne,

The Glasse of Governement. — This is a very immature
production, and I regard it as Bacon's first effort, or first
surviving effort, in the art of play-writing. In it are found,
in embryo, the characteristic ideas of his manhood. It is
referred to by Professor Courthope as " of mortal dulness,"
a fair description if it was the work of a man of fifty ; but
if, as I believe, it was written by a boy of fourteen, or
perhaps younger, it is a piece of extraordinary psycho-
logical interest. The play deals with Bacon's favourite
subject, education, and in nothing is the juvenility of it
shown so much as in the perfect confidence with which
the author promotes the studious young men and brings
the idle ones to a disastrous end, the moral being pointed
with an infallible sententiousness. The writer knows
little of the world but what he has heard or has gleaned
out of books. Of this knowledge he makes the very
most, and the play is not altogether deficient in variety
and interest. The most interesting feature of it, however,
is the endeavour to graft the teachings of pagan philosophy
and art on to the stock of Christian doctrine, as held by


the reformers, and to unite the two for the purposes of
instruction through the medium of the stage. The play-
is a " school play," on the model of the Terentian drama,
which was then much in vogue in the new grammar
schools founded in the Tudor period under the influence
of such men as Ascham and Cheke, and at the universities.
It is described as " A tragicall Comedie, so entituled by-
cause therein are handled as well the rewardes for Vertues
as also the punishment for Vices," and is stated (though
I do not believe it) to be " Done by George Gascoigne

In the Latin names, and the Latin enumeration of the
Acts and Scenes, the play follows the classical tradition.
One English name, " Dicke Drumme," is used for a low
character. There are two grave parents, PJiylopaes and
Phylocalus, who each have two sons, of whom the elder,
Phylautus and PhylosarcJms (Self-love and Love of power),
come to grief, and the younger, Phylomusus and Phylotimus
(Love of learning and Love of honour), win distinction.
These, in my opinion, are originals of many other similar
characters which are to be found in Bacon's didactic works,
by which I mean such works as Euphues, the Arcadia^
and the Devices, where " character " is sacrificed to the
purpose of direct instruction, and the persons introduced
are made the vehicles for discourse on every variety of

I hold very strongly that all imaginative work has
"self" for its basis, that the artist finds his art not so
much in the world (which is ancillary) as in his own

Online LibraryEdward George HarmanEdmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon → online text (page 21 of 55)