Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Parallel - Harsh and Untunable

First Shake-Speare:

[of bad tidings] They are harsh and untunable and bad
The Two Gentlemen of Verona 3.1.208

It is the lark that sins so out of tune,
Straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps.
Romeo And Juliet 3.5.27-8

Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh
Hamlet 3.1.160

     then murder's out of tune 
And sweet revenge grows harsh
Othello 5.2.116-7

Now here are quotations from Bacon's works:

"They must needs, in respect of the opinions of the time, seem harsh and out of tune"   [Latin: duras et absonas].
Novum Organum (Spedding 4.52)

"A lute-string, if it be merely unequal in its parts, giveth a harsh and untunable sound."
Natural History 171 (Spedding 2.406)

"The government of the world and the more secret judgment of God sound somewhat harsh and untunable."
De Augmentis (Spedding 4.326)

"Harsh and untunable"
The Wisdom of the Ancients (Spedding 6(2).713)

Cockburn's comment: For the Hamlet text Q2 has "jangled out of time". The Arden editor in a long note says  "Either time or tune must be a minim error, but as both make excellent sense we cannot be certain which".
But the Bacon texts (of which the editor makes no mention) suggest, as do the other Shake-Speare texts, that Shake-Speare wrote "out of tune". The collocation of "harsh" and "untunable" (or "out of tune") seems not to have been found elsewhere, and so looks like a Bacon/Shake-Speare idiosyncrasy.

Note: My own search of Wisdom of the Ancients turned up in the chapter on "Pan, or Nature': "...sound harsh and dissonant to human ears or human judgment;"

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