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Mistress Fitton

SONNET NO. 144

 

         Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
         Which like two spirits do suggest me still
         The better angel is a man right fair:
         The worser spirit a woman colour'd ill,
         To win me soon to hell, my female evil,
         Tempteth my better angel from my sight,
         And would corrupt my saint to be a devil;
         Wooing his purity with her foul pride,
         And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend,
         Suspect I may, yet not directly tell,
         But being both from me both to each friend,
         I guess one angel in anothers hell,
         Yet this shall I ne'er know but live in doubt
         Till my bad angel fire my good one out.


  Note the repetition of certain words, we find-spirits, spirit,
better angel, better angel, angel, angel, angel.

  Here Bacon tells us that he has two loves-one of comfort
and the other of despair (without hope)-that these two loves
are like two spirits (souls) which do suggest (influence) him
-that the better angel is a man right fair (Herbert) and
the worser spirit is a woman coloured ill (Mistress Fitton)
that to win (succeed in getting) him to hell she (his female
evil) tempts his better angel (Herbert) from his sight and would
corrupt his saint (Herbert) to be a devil wooing his purity with
her foul pride.  He tells us that Herbert might be turned into a
fiend but cannot say so directly Herbert and Mistress Fitton
being both away from him and in each other's company-he
guesses that Herbert is in another's hell but lives in doubt and
will not know this until Mistress Fitton dismisses Herbert.

  Note that this sonnet was published in 1599 in" The Passion-
ate Pilgrim". It was in this year 1599 that Herbert began residing
in London after having been imprisoned after his affair with
Mistress Fitton.  It is quite clear that " the man right fair"
referred to in this sonnet is Herbert and that he is the same
person as that referred to in Sonnets Nos. 1-17.  The friendship
of Bacon and Herbert must have existed in 1599 before the
intimacy between Herbert and Mistress Fitton commenced.

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