Saturday, March 5, 2011

Parallel on "Wondered at"

Bolingbroke speaking to Prince Henry (Harry):

    "Had I so lavish of my presence been,
    So common-hackney'd in the eyes of men,
    So stale and cheap to vulgar company,
    Opinion, that did help me to the crown,
    Had still kept loyal to possession
    And left me in reputeless banishment,
    A fellow of no mark nor likelihood.
    By being seldom seen, I could not stir
    But, like a comet, I Was wond'red at;
    That men would tell their children, 'This is he!'
    Others would say, 'Where? Which is Bolingbroke?'
    And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,
    And dress'd myself in such humility
    That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,"
1 Henry IV, 3.2.39-49

"For wonder is a child of rarity; and if a thing be rare, though in kind it be no way extraordinary, yet it is wondered at. While on the other hand things which really call for wonder on account of the difference in species which they exhibit as compared with other species, yet if we have them by us in common use, are but slightly noticed".
  Novum Organum

Comment: Being seldom seen would increase curiosity in Harry as it did for his father. But if Bolingbroke had allowed himself to, as he saw Harry doing, become "so stale and cheap to vulgar company", then he would not be wondered at by the general public whenever he was seen. Then also, he would not be able to "pluck allegiance from men's hearts". For Prince Harry to be "wondered at" and gain the high opinion of the public then it would be better that he be 'rare' and not thought 'ordinary' from being in too 'common use'. Did anyone other than Bacon and Shake-Speare record such an observation, and do so using the phrase "wondered at"?


  1. In the same play
    (1 Henry IV, 1.2.297-310)

    Henry V.
    I know you all, and will awhile uphold
    The unyoked humour of your idleness:
    Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
    Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
    To smother up his beauty from the world,
    That, when he please again to be himself,
    Being wanted, he may be more WONDER'D AT,
    By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
    Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
    If all the year were playing holidays,
    To sport would be as tedious as to work;
    But when they SELDOM come, they wish'd for come,
    And nothing pleaseth but RARE accidents.

  2. Oh, that's nice! Great comment and thanks for the contribution!