Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/112

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104
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing flexure in the other. This is typical of all comparisons of different styles of composition by the same author. Undoubtedly there will always be found differences in the graphic representations of serious

PSM V60 D112 Plot of writing characteristics of two ben johnson works.png

Fig. 6. Two Groups, Ben Jonson.

prose compositions and those of a higher vein, poetry or play, by the same writer, but the evidence at hand goes to show that the leading personal peculiarities of composition will invariably be found in both.

Fig. 6 shows the curves of two groups of about 75,000 words each from the plays of Ben Jonson, the most notable literary contemporary of Shakespeare. Their close agreement is another very satisfactory confirmation of the fundamental principle and their difference from the Shakespearean curve is striking. It will be observed that Jonson follows the usual practice of making use of the three-letter word most frequently.

Fig. 7 shows the characteristic curves of Bacon and Shakespeare side by side and may be regarded, perhaps, as the objective point of the entire investigation. The reader is at liberty to draw any conclusions he pleases from this diagram.

Should he conclude that, in view of the extraordinary differences in these lines, it is clear that Bacon could not have written the things ordinarily attributed to Shakespeare, he may yet, possibly, be willing to

PSM V60 D112 Plot of writing characteristics of shakespeare vs bacon.png

Fig. 7.———Bacon. . . . . Shakespeare.

admit that, in Mr. Heminway's own words, 'the question still remains, who did?' Assuming this question to be a reasonable one, the method now under consideration can never do more than direct inquiry or suspicion.

During the progress of the count it seemed as if the Shakespearean peculiarity of the excessive use of words of four letters was unique, that no other writer would be found with this characteristic. On working out the results of a very extensive count of the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, however, it was found that on the final average the num-