Life , or the World, a Stage, or a Play, Theatre


"I hold myself to that which I called the stage or theatre (of justice in the world), whereunto it may fitly be compared : for that things were first contained within the invisible judgments of God, as within a curtain, and after came forth, and were acted most worthily by the King and .... his Ministers..... They were grown to such inwardness as they made a play of all the world besides themselves." — Bacon's Charge against the Countess of Somerset.

"God hath of late erected, as it were, a stage or theatre, to show and act in it the King's virtue and justice. — Bacon's Charge against Wentsworth.

"The King is very sorry....... that this country should be the stage where a base and contemptible counterfeit should play the part of a King of England."— History of Henry VII.

"Augustus Caesar, when he died, desired his friends to give him a plaudite ; as if he were conscient to himself that he had played his part well upon the stage (of life). " — Advancement of Learning. (And the same figure with regard to Machiavelli.)

"Where a man cannot fitly play his part ( in life) he may quit the stage." Essay of Friendship

Such figures are frequent with Bacon.


Life — A Theatre For God and the Angels

"Men must know that in this Theatre of men's life it is reserved only for God and Angels to be lookers on."—Advancement of Learning ii. 1.

"Merciful Heaven!....Man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
.........Like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before High Heaven,
As make the Angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would laugh themselves all mortal."— Measure for Measure ii. 2


                "O you powers
That give Heaven countless eyes to view men's acts!"

Pericles i. 1, 72 and see ii. 4, 1—5

See also the suggestion that the gods in Heaven, to whom Lavinia appeals, "delight in tragedies." Titus Andronicus iv. 1, 39—41, 61, 62. They are also frequent allusions to God seeing, bearing witness, ect. - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning