Abbildungen der Seite
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

proportions: the other, by taking the best parts out of divers faces to make one excellent. Such personages, I think, would please nobody but the painter that made them: not but I think a painter may make a better face than ever was; but he must do it by a kind of felicity (as a musician that maketh an excellent air in music), and not by rule. A man shall see faces, that, if you examine them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet all together 10 do well. If it be true that the principal part of Beauty is in decent motion, certainly it is no marvel, though persons in years seem many times more amiable; 'Pulchrorum autumnus pulcher;'ll for no youth' can be comely but by pardon,12 and considering the youth as to make up the comeliness. Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last; and, for the most part, it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance; but yet certainly again, if it light well,13 it maketh virtues shine, and vices blush.





rely it of

ires een tue; r to



for of

[ocr errors]




NOTES ON ESSAY XLIII. 1. comely'-handsome, well-proportioned, graceful. The word

is derived from come, in the sense of become, i.e. be suitable or appropriate

Bacon's opinion certainly is contrary to the too common modern theory, that indications of delicacy and weakness are

elements in personal beauty. 2. presence ’-demeanour, behaviour, deportment. 3. 'almost '—frequently, often. In our loose way of speaking we

should now say generally, but Bacon avoids this word, because in his time it had its true meaning of exclusively,

entirely. 4. of great spirit'-of high and noble nature; they have external

adornments and accomplishments, but not real greatness of character. This thought is repeated in the succeeding sentence, where Bacon tells us that accomplished persons

study rather (external) behaviour than (inward) virtue. 5. Augustus Cæsar.' See note 5, Essay XLII. He was certainly

a man of very prepossessing appearance, whatever estimate may be formed of his character. On one occasion a Gaul, who had been despatched from his tribe with a solemn secret injunction to assassinate him, returned to them with his errand



unfulfilled, declaring that when he looked upon Augustus' face, he could not find it in his heart to injure him.

'Titus Vespasianus,' Born A.D. 9; Emperor of Rome A.D. 70-79. He was a man of attractive personal appearance. 'Philip IV,' King of France (A.D. 1285-1314), was, account of his handsome personal appearance, surnamed le Bel, or the Fair.


'Edward IV' of England (A.D. 1461-1483). Though a handsome man, and distinguished for his personal courage and his military skill, it is not easy to understand why Bacon includes him among the 'high and great spirits.'

'Alcibiades'-B.C. 450-404. He was a rich, clever, handsome, and dissolute man, and a disciple of Socrates at Athens. He was a celebrated Athenian general and an influential states


'Ismael I,' or Ismael Shah, made himself ruler of Persia, A. D. 1502. The name Sophy or Sufi (from the Arabic and Persian sufi, wise, pious) was a title or surname of the kings of Persia originated by him.

6. 'favour'-countenance, features. See note 5, Essay XXXIX. In the Latin edition the word used here is venustas.

7. The greatest beauty is exhibited in graceful motion and carriage: this is an element which a picture of a beautiful person cannot express, nor even is it adequately perceived and appreciated on the first sight of a beautiful person.

8. 'Apelles'—one of the most famous of the Greek painters. He flourished B. C. 340-323, and was especially distinguished for his representations of feminine grace and beauty. He was honoured by the patronage and friendship of Alexander the Great.

'Albert Durer' was born at Nürnberg, A.D. 1471, and was the greatest of the early German painters and engravers. He enjoyed the friendship of Raphael and of Melancthon, and was appointed painter to the Emperor Maximilian I, and afterwards to Charles V.

Bacon here alludes to his treatise entitled, De Symmetria Partium Humani Corporis.

9. 'more'-greater.

'Both more and less have given him the revolt'-Macbeth, V, iv.

'Till your strong hand shall help to give him strength

To make a more requital of your love'-King John, II, i.

'At our more leisure shall I render you'-Measure for Measure, I, iii.

10. 'all together'-taking all the parts together; contemplating them as one whole.


'The autumn of the beautiful is beautiful.'

12. 'by pardon'-by favour; by making allowances. He means that youth, during the period of growth, must needs be more

or less ungainly, and that true beauty can be exhibited only

when all the parts of the body are perfectly developed. 13. light well'-happen to fall to the lot of a worthy person.

Under these circumstances he says that beauty makes a man's virtues more conspicuous (* shine'), and naturally deters him from vice ('blush'), which would destroy his beauty.


The fundamental principles of beauty are as follow :

I. Virtue appears most often when plain set.'
II. Conversely, very beautiful persons are rarely conspicuous for

Still there are notable exceptions :

Augustus Cæsar.
Titus Vespasianus.
Philip le Bel of France.
Edward IV of England.
Alcibiades of Athens.

Ismael, Sophy of Persia.
III. Beauty of countenance is inferior to that of demeanour and

motion. IV. All 'excellent beauty' has some strangeness in the proportion.'

(Neglecting this, Apelles and Albert Durer erred.) V. Beauty is shown rather in the aggregate result than in the

separate parts. VI. Youth cannot be really so beautiful as mature age. VII. Beauty (1) is always fleeting.

(2) may be rather injurious than helpful to virtue.


XLIV.–OF DEFORMITY. (1612, altered 1625.) DEFORMED persons are commonly even with Nature ; 1 for as Nature hath done ill by them, so do they by Nature, being for the most part (as the Scripture saith),

void of natural affection ; ' 2 and so they have their revenge of Nature. Certainly there is a consent between the body and the mind, and where Nature erreth in the one, she ventureth in the other : " Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in altero :'3 but because there is in man an election,4 touching the frame of his mind, and a necessity in the frame of his body, the stars 5 of natural inclination



[ocr errors]

are sometimes obscured by the sun of Discipline and Virtue ; therefore it is good to consider of Deformity, not as a sign which is more deceivable, but as a cause which seldom faileth of the effect.

Whosoever hath anything fixed 6 in his person that doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn; therefore, all deformed persons are extreme bold; first, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn, but in process of time by a general habit. Also it stirreth in them industry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the weakness of others, that they may have somewhat to repay.? Again, in their superiors, it quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons that they think they may at pleasure despise : and it layeth their competitors and emulators asleep, as never believing they should be in possibility of advancement till they see them in possession, so that upon the matter,& in a great wit,' deformity is an advantage to rising.

Kings in ancient times (and at this present in some countries) were wont to put great trust in eunuchs, because they that are envious towards all are more obnoxious 10 and officious 11 towards one; but yet their trust towards them hath rather been as to good spials, 12 and good whisperers, than good magistrates and officers: and much like is the reason of deformed persons. Still the ground 14 is, they will, if they be of spirit, seek to free themselves from scorn: which must be either by Virtue or malice; and, therefore, let it not be marvelled, if sometimes they prove excellent persons; Agesilaus, 15 Zanger, the son of Solyman,16 Æsop, 17 Gasca, President of Peru ; 18 and Socrates wise amongst them, with others.


as was


may go like

NOTES ON ESSAY XLIV. 1. even with Nature'-spitefully recompensing nature accord

ing as nature has seemed to treat them badly.

So Tennyson (Guinevere) says of Lancelot that he


'Made such excuses as he might, and these
Full knightly, without scorn; for in those days
No knight of Arthur's noblest dealt in scorn;
But, if a man were halt or hunch'd, in him,
By those whom God had made full limb’d and tall,

Scorn was allowed as part of his defect.' 2. He may be referring either to Rom. i, 31, or 2 Tim. iii, 3, in both

which passages the word đotopyou is rendered in the English Authorised Version as 'without natural affection' (Vulgate,

'sine affectione'). 3. This does not appear to be a quotation, but is merely a Latin

rendering of the preceding sentence : 'Where she errs in oile

(respect), she ventures in another.' election'-choice, option. He means that no man has the

power of choosing what shall be the outward characteristics of his bodily appearance : that is a matter beyond his own choice and control : but his character—the complexion of his mind and the nature of his disposition—is more in his own hand, and he can in a measure determine that, and is responsible for it.

If at my birth I am weakly or deformed, that is not any fault that can be laid to my charge, nor can I be in any way answerable for the failures in life's work that are consequent upon it; but if I steal, or deceive, or act cruelly and selfishly,

; I cannot plead that I am not responsible for my actions, and that I am simply following the irresistible inclinations with which I was born. I am not responsible for what has been naturally given to me. I am responsible for everything which I do as a free and conscious agent. Both Divine and human laws recognise this distinction, and God, who endowed me with what I have, will never reproach me for lacking what I have not; and the laws of my country, though they never punish a man because he is a cripple, still will punish him if he steals or injures.

He is referring to astrology (see note 12, Essay XXXV). A man's natural disposition and character were supposed to be determined by the stars which were in the ascendant at his birth. Bacon here represents that there is an influence ('discipline and virtue ') greater than astrology, and able to overcome it, just as the light of the sun obscures

the light of the stars. 6. "fixed'-inseparably connected; something which he cannot

get rid of. 7. somewhat to repay'- -some weakness or defect which they

may expose in others just as Nature has exhibited physical

defect in themselves. 8. upon the matter'-altogether; taking all things into con

sideration; or (as we now say) on the whole. 9. great wit'-clever person.

5. 'stars.'


« ZurückWeiter »