Saturday, December 5, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 6 - Wolsey virtue


Act 1, Sc2   (continued)
KING:                                       By my life,
This is against our pleasure.
WOLSEY:                                 And for me,
I have no further gone in this than by
A single voice, and that not passed me but
By learned approbation of the judges. If I am
Traduced by ignorant tongues, which neither know
My faculties nor person yet will be
The chronicles of my doing, let me say
‘Tis but the fate of place and the rough brake
That virtue must go through. We must not stint
Our necessary actions in the fear
To cope malicious censurers, which ever,
As ravenous fishes, do a vessel follow
That is new-trimmed, but benefit no further
Than vainly longing. What we oft do best,
By sick interpreters, or weak ones, is
Not ours or not allowed; what worst, as oft,
Hitting a grosser quality, is cried up
For our best act.

[Wolsey continues:]
                                If we shall stand still
In fear our motion will be mocked or carped at
We should take root here where we sit,
Or sit state-statues only.

“All these great misdemeanors are committed in and under your Majesty’s name.” (Life, iii, p. 186)
“We hope your Majesty will hold them twice guilty that commit these offences, once for the oppressing of the people …” (p. 160)

“. . .he complained to my Lord Chancellor of the troublesomeness of his PLACE;”
Works 7.p.170  (Spedding et al.)
“The condition of men eminent for virtue is, as this parable well observes, exceeding hard and miserable, because their errors, though ever so small, are not overlooked.” (De Aug., viii. ii., parabola xi, 1623)

‘as ravenous’ = envious
The Arden edition paraphrases this ‘as ravenous fishes etc.’ as: “Just as our best efforts are often rejected or maligned by the envious and disbelieving, so our least impressive performance, catching on at a much more mundane level (or with coarser people), is made out to be our greatest achievement.”  - Now read Bacon: “ Envy is a disease in a state like to infection, . . . for infection spreadeth upon that which is sound and tainteth it, so when envy (discontentment) is gotten once into a state it traduceth even the best actions thereof.” (Essay 9– Of Envy, 1625—too late for Shaksper as Shakespeare to  have read it).

Also “The lowest virtues gain the praise of the common people, middle ones astonish them, but of the highest they have no sense.” (De Aug., vi. Iii., Exempla Antithetorum.)

Bacon continues: “Which hurteth so much the more, as it is likewise usual in infections, which, if you fear them, you call them upon you.” (Essay 9 – Of Envy, 1625)

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