Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Lover's Complaint

A Lover's Complaint

This poem was published with the Shake-Speare Sonnets in 1609. Line 63 of this poem has the phrase:

"The grounds and motives of his woe"

Now in Bacon:

"Secondly, as a matter of nature and unlike the former, we entered into consideration of such limit any constitutions as served but for to obtain a form of justice between subjects under several monarchs, and did in the very grounds and motives of them presuppose incursions and intermixture of hostility".
  Preface to the Report of the Commissioners for England and Scotland (1604)

"The first to prove the malice which Somerset bare to Overbury, which was the motive and ground of the impoisonment".
   A letter from Bacon to the King in 1616 about the evidence to be used on the trial of the Earl of Somerset

When in Shake-Speare's A Lover's Complaint I [N.B. Cockburn] read the rather odd tautology "grounds and motives", it struck me as having a very Baconian ring, and I guessed it would be found somewhere in his works. Does it appear elsewhere?
It should be said that Bacon and Shake-Speare were both much addicted to little tautologies or near-tautologies of this sort. Another is "large and ample" which Bacon uses in Spedding 8.33, and Shake-Speare in Henry V, 1.2.226. It is also in the True and Sincere Declaration (p. 342 of Brown's edition) which we ascribe to Bacon. However, both our authors hardly ever use the identical tautology twice. Instead they ring the changes on it slightly. For example, in addition to "grounds and motives" and "motive and ground", Bacon has "ground and cause", "grounds and causes" and "cause and ground". Shake-Speare has "base and ground" (Twelfth Night 5.1.78). In addition to "large and ample", Bacon has "ample and large", "ample and spacious", "large and spacious" (Spedding 9.88; 10.112; and 7.665). Bacon has "scope and end" and "scope and desire". Shake-Speare has "line and scope", "gross and scope" and "scope and tenour" (2 Henry IV 4.4.39; Hamlet 1.1.71; and Sonnet 61.8). And he splits Bacon's "scope and desire" into "Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope" (Sonnet 29.7). Bacon has "actions of great peril and motion" (Spedding 9.87), while Shake-Speare has "enterprises of great pith and moment" (Hamlet 3.1.86). Escaping a little from tautology, Shake-Speare has "base and envious" and "base and bloody" (1 Henry VI, 3.1.194; and 2 Henry IV, 4.1.39). Bacon combines them in one text - "base, bloody, and envious" (Spedding 3.274). Thus may little shreds of language whisper common authorship.

Note: See also posts on Asmund and Cornelia

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