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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Heywood's Apology
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0531  Tuesday, 22 March 2005

From:           John W. Kennedy <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 21 Mar 2005 11:28:54 -0500
Subject: 16.0523 Heywood's Apology
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0523 Heywood's Apology

JD Markel <
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 >>Such was likewise the opinion of a great statesman of
 >>this land, about the time that certaine bookes were
 >>called in question.
 >
 >First to come to mind was whatever leader started the policy that
 >provoked Juvenal's "bread and circuses" lament.  But given he's probably
 >referencing an English comparison, "this" land, Bacon comes to mind.
 >How about "The Advancement of Learning" Book I?

 >"2. Neither is certainly that other merit of learning, in repressing the
 >inconveniences which grow from man to man, much inferior to the former,
 >of relieving the necessities which arise from nature; which merit was
 >lively set forth by the ancients in that feigned relation of Orpheus'
 >theatre, where all beasts and birds assembled; and, forgetting their
 >several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood
 >all sociably together listening to the airs and accords of the harp; the
 >sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but
 >every beast returned to its own nature: wherein is aptly described the
 >nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed
 >desires of profit, of lust, of revenge; which as long as they give ear
 >to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence and
 >persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and
 >peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or that sedition
 >and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and
 >confusion."

I cannot see that "books", in the context of "to precepts, to laws, to
religion, sweetly touched with eloquence and persuasion of books, of
sermons, of harangues", can be fairly taken as comprehending playbooks,
novels, and love-poems. The adducing of Orpheus could obviously be
utilized in an argument tending that way, but it does not seem to be the
lesson that Bacon wishes to draw.

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