SIR FRANCIS BACON
THE BACON SOCIETY
240 HIGH HOLBORN, LONDON, W.C.2
of the title page of Bacon’s
Henry VII., 1642
For interpretation see p.29
Frontispiece of the
1623 Shakespeare Folio
The “Pour Rire” Portrait of Shakespeare – see comment on p.iii
SIR FRANCIS BACON
“ SHAKESPEARE “
THE BACON SOCIETY
240 HIGH HOLBORN, LONDON, W.C.2
THE “POUR RIRE” PORTRAIT OF
MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
As frontispiece to this book there is a photo-facsimile reproduction of the so-called portrait of Shakespeare that appears as frontispiece of the first folio edition of the Plays published in 1623. It requires only a cursory inspection to see that this alleged “portrait” is not a portrait but a clever drawing of a mask -not dissimilar to those which, as children, we used to buy as part of our “make-up” for Guy Fawkes' day celebration!
Note the double-chin effect, produced by the line of the edge of the mask, on the right-hand side of this picture: note the stubble that serves as moustache and beard: and note that the ear is a “mask” ear, standing out so as to cover the ear of the wearer! - See also enlarged reproduction of the head of this (mask) portrait facing page 17.
Then note the peculiar character of the coat. Many years ago the Tailor and Cutter drew attention to the fact that this coat, as in the case of the figure as a whole, must be regarded as a caricature, seeing that the back of the left arm is made to do duty for the right arm. The designer, Martin Droeshout, was only fifteen years old. when the player, Will Shakspere of Stratford, died. He is unlikely, therefore, ever to have seen him. Yet this “portrait,” published as frontispiece to the first edition of the works of Shakespeare, is presented as being that of the author of them! From the first moment of its appearance no observant man could have failed to see that the attribution of the Plays to Mr. William Shakespeare was not intended to be taken seriously.
No wonder that Ben Jonson in his prefatory verse advised the reader to “Looke not on the picture but the booke”!
Subsequent investigation of the problem first presented by this hoax-portrait has served to pile up more and more evidence connecting Sir Francis Bacon with the authorship of “Shakespeare.”
Evidence connecting Francis Bacon
AS literary culture has advanced with the march of general education, and become a science pursued nowadays, in greater or lesser degree, by practically every educated person, the problem of the authorship of the Immortal Plays has naturally engaged the interest of an ever-increasing number of people. And as time and the more intelligent and intensive study of them has served to bring into still greater prominence not only their amazing literary beauty but the no less amazing erudition which they connote in the author of them, dissatisfaction with the reputed author - as a man entirely unfitted by his circumstances in life to produce such works has naturally grown.
This dissatisfaction has found expression in a multitude of books, the object of which has mostly been twofold; i.e., to demonstrate –
That they could not possibly have been written by the Stratford apprentice,
(2) That they could have been, and were in fact, the work of Francis Bacon.
The late Sir George Greenwood, in his masterly treatise “The Shakespeare Problem Restated,” showed conclusively that whoever wrote the Immortal Plays it - could not have been the putative author - for a thousand and one reasons to which the space at my disposal precludes even reference. We are now, therefore, left free to concentrate exclusively upon the positive side of the problem - the evidence that, more or less directly, indicates Sir Francis Bacon as the author of them.
This evidence is distributed amongst hundreds of books, but unfortunately it is often mixed with extraneous and irrelevant matter which has hindered rather than helped its general acceptance. These books, moreover, are mostly of such size and cost as to place them beyond the reach of the average reader.
My purpose, therefore, is to marshal, as far as possible in order of its merit, the evidence that demonstrably, and not remotely or merely possibly, connects Francis Bacon with “Shakespeare,” in such short compass that it may be made available to everyone interested in the subject.
The Plays themselves prove beyond question that the writer of them must have been:
Highly trained in the profession of the law.
2. A frequenter of Court circles of the highest social standing.
3. One who had travelled at least into France, Spain and Italy.
4. A linguist of no mean order.
5. A profound philosopher.
6. One having an unusual knowledge of medicine and botany.
7. A man of exceptionally fine character, who himself had experienced not only place and power but “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
As anyone familiar with his best biographies* knows, all these qualifications were possessed by Francis Bacon. Pre-eminently the most learned man of his day, his numerous biographers all testify that his attributes of learning and experience were exactly those which one would expect to find in the author of works exhibiting such a fund of knowledge as is displayed in “Shakespeare.”
But to say that because the works of “Shakespeare” called for exactly the calibre of mind that Bacon possessed, ergo he wrote them, is not sufficient, for, unlikely as it may seem, it is just possible that there may have been another man capable of producing them: someone who hid his literary light completely under a bushel. Before animadverting further, therefore, upon Bacon's possession of the necessary qualifications above mentioned I propose to demonstrate -
That the Plays contain references to events and places unlikely to have been
referred to by any other writer of his time;
2. That thoughts and expressions identical with those in the Plays occur throughout his acknowledged works;
3. That tricks of style are common both to his acknowledged writings and to the Plays; and
4. That even some errors peculiar to the suggested author are repeated in “Shakespeare.”
As Ignatius Donnelly wrote:
Genius, though its branches reach to the heavens and cover the Continents, yet has its roots in the earth and its leaves, its fruits its flowers, its texture and its fibres bespeak the soil in which it was nurtured. Hence in the writings of every great master we find more or less association with the scenes in which his youth and manhood were passed - reflections, as it were, upon the camera of the imagination, of those landscapes with which destiny had surrounded him.
*I refer to such works as that by his secretary, Rawley, to Spedding's “Life and Letters,” and to the “Life” by Hepworth-Dixon, and not to such mischievous writings as those of Macaulay, who, nevertheless, wrote of him that his “was the most exquisitely constructed intellect that has ever been bestowed on any of the children of men,” as also that “he had an amplitude of comprehension such as has never yet been vouchsafed to any other human being.” Having said this, one can only assume that Macaulay had no doubt as to his authorship of the Plays; for how otherwise could he have described the writer of them.
This self-evident truth, never, I think, more beautifully expressed, is exemplified in the works of every writer of note. To take only two examples: Byron's “Childe Harold” is full of allusions to scenes with which his life-history was associated, and the poetry of Burns is indissolubly linked up with the localities in which he lived.
If, therefore, we thought that the butcher's apprentice of Stratford-on-Avon had written the plays attributed to him we should expect to find at least one reference to that village in one or other of them. But it is not mentioned in any single Play; though, curiously enough, Stoney-Stratford (a village in the county of Buckingham) is. This omission is surprising only to those who still cherish the traditional belief as to their authorship. What we expect to find is reference to such places as St. Albans, Francis Bacon's country seat, to Gray's Inn; of which he was so prominent a member, and to York Place, where he was born. Needless to say we find allusions to all these places. St. Albans, although at the time “Shakespeare” was written a village of no more importance than Stratford-on-Avon, is mentioned in the Plays no less than 23 times. And in the case of some of these references there was no more occasion to mention St. Albans than any other village or town. Gray's Inn is mentioned only once, but the manner in which it is referred to gives this reference almost as much importance as the much more frequent mention of St. Albans, for the reason that it occurs in a passage in “Henry IV.” that is entirely extraneous and unnecessary to the plot.*
York Place was perhaps even more tenderly than Gray's Inn associated in Bacon's heart with loving memories. As he himself wrote: “York House is the house wherein my father died, and where I first breathed, and there will I yield my last breath, if it so please God.” In the day of his success he purchased it: after his fall it was torn from his reluctant grasp by Buckingham.
Turn now to “Henry VIII.” and you will there find York Place indicated as the scene where Cardinal Wolsey entertains the King and his companions, masked as shepherds, with “good company, good wine, good welcome.” And further on in this Play you will find it again referred to, and something of its history given - in the scene descriptive of the coronation of Anne Bullen.
*The reference to Gray's Inn, with which Sir Francis was so closely identified, appears in “Henry IV.,” as follows: Shallow. “The same Sir John, the very same. I saw him break Scroggan's head at the Court-Gate, when he was a crack not this high; and the very same day did I fight with one Sampson Stockfish, a fruiterer, behinde Greyes-Inn.” The whole reference is entirely extraneous to the plot. What had Shakespeare to do with Gray's Inn that he should thus drag it into his Play, when there was not the slightest necessity for it?
3rd Gent. So
And with the same full state paced again
To Yorke place, where the feast is held.
1st Gent. You must no more call it Yorke-Place,
That's past; for since the Cardinal
fell that title's lost;
'Tis now the King's, and called Whitehall.
3rd Gent. I know it;
But 'tis so lately altered that the old name is fresh about me.
Having dealt with the principal places with which Bacon was familiar, and shown that they are mentioned in the Plays, I will now draw your attention to intrinsic evidence in the shape of references therein to incidents in his life - allusions of such a nature that it is unlikely; to the verge of impossibility, that another man could or, if he could, would have written them.
Such a piece of evidence occurs in Scene II. of “Henry VIII.” It is the scene in which Cardinal Wolsey's double-dealing with the Pope is discovered, owing to the inclusion by mistake of some document, not intended for his eye, in a packet of papers sent to the King. “O negligence! Fit for a fool to fall by.”
Enter to Wolsey, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, and the Lord Chamberlain*
Norfolk. Hear the King's pleasure, Cardinal: who commands you To render up the great seal presently into our hands; And to confine yourself To Asher House, my Lord of Winchester's, Till you hear farther from his highness.
The extraordinary point about this is that while the writer adheres, with historical accuracy, to the names of two of the peers who were sent to relieve Cardinal Wolsey of the great seal, on the occasion of his downfall, he adds two more to the number of them. And it is remarkable that the titles (though not their only titles) of these other peers are those of two of the four Peers who, upon the occasion of the downfall of Lord Verulam, waited upon him for this same purpose!
While it would be natural enough for Francis Bacon (at this time Lord Verulam) thus to bring the circumstances ofWolsey's fall into line with his own, the chance that anyone else would do so is so remote that, expressed in figures, it could scarcely be greater than as one is to a million. For firstly, what are the chances that anyone at all, other than a man who had suffered the same experience, would, in such a matter, depart at all from the historical requirements of the case? Is it not entirely improbable that the thought of so doing would ever cross the mind of any other person? And if by chance it had done so, what are the chances that he would then have selected, as the other two peers to be sent to relieve Wolsey of his seal, two of those four who actually were sent to do that office in the case of Verulam?
*Note. - “Surrey” was the second title of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, while the Lord Chamberlain, in Verulam's time, was the Earl of Pembroke.
And who, other than a man who himself had fallen from power, could so feelingly tell the anguish of it, as described in Wolsey's soliloquy, and in the final talk with Cromwell ending -
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
The Play of “Henry VIII.” was one of those fourteen Plays of Shakespeare which, according to Halliwell-Phillips and other eminent Shakespearean scholars, was heard of for the first time in 1623 - i.e., when it appeared, with the others, in the great folio edition published in that year.
There is another passage in “Henry VIII.” that reflects an incident in Bacon's life that happened shortly before his fall. Bacon had opposed the the proposed marriage of Sir John Villiers, the brother of the Duke of Buckingham, with the daughter of Sir Edward Coke, and in doing so had offended the Duke. Francis finally gave way to the Court favourite, and we have Macaulay's authority for the statement that he then ventured to present himself before Buckingham. “But,” says Macaulay, “the young upstart did not think that he had yet sufficiently humbled an old man who had been his friend and his benefactor, who was the highest civil functionary in the realm and the most eminent man of letters in the world. It is said [I am still quoting Macaulay] that on two successive days Bacon repaired to Buckingham's house; that on two successive days he was suffered to remain in an ante-chamber among footboys, seated on an old wooden box, with the great seal of England at his side.”
In Act V., Scene 2, Cranmer is discovered outside the Council Chamber waiting for an audience, surrounded by servants and pages. Dr. Butts passes by on his way to the King, and we have -
The King's physician: as he passed along,
How earnestly he cast his eyes upon me!
Pray heaven he sound not my disgrace! For certain
This is of purpose laid by some that hate me -
God turn their heartsl I never sought their malice
To quench mine honour: they would shame to make me
Wait else at door, a fellow councillor,
'Mong boys, grooms and lackeys. But their pleasures
Must be fulfilled, and I attend with patience.
Enter the King and Butts at a window above.
show your grace the strangest sight
King. What's that, Butts?
Butts. I think your highness saw this many a day.
King. Body o' me, where is it?
Butts. There, my lord:
The high promotion of his Grace of Canterbury;
Who holds his state at door, 'mongst pursuivants,
Pages and footboys.
King. Ha! 'tis he indeed:
Is this the honour they do one another?
'Tis well there's one above 'em yet. I had thought
They had parted so much honesty among 'em,
At least good manners, as not thus to suffer
A man of his place, and so near our favour,
To dance attendance on their lordships' pleasures,
And at the door too, like a post with packets.
By Holy Mary, Butts,. there's knavery.
Isn't it as clear as daylight that in this passage Bacon has painted the incident that Macaulay tells us of? Who but a man who had suffered such an indignity would have been likely to interrupt the course of the Play with the tale of it?
To no two minds does the same piece of evidence carry precisely the same weight, but to mine I will confess that these incidents viewed in light of the knowledge that “Henry VIII.” was published for the first time in 1623, i.e., two years after Bacon's fall - carry conviction that the writer of them can have been none other than he who had experienced them. This, as it seems to me, inevitable conclusion is supported by the fact that in “Timon of Athens” and “Cymbeline,”which plays were also heard of for the first time in 1623, there are also references. to incidents that occurred to Verulam after his fall. Concerning the above-mentioned incident you will remember that, later in the Play, Cranmer is arraigned by the same nobles who relieved Wolsey of his seal - in company with Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and Thomas Cromwell. They propose to have him taken, like a traitor, to the Tower. But the King opportunely arrives and commands them to be friends. And he takes advantage of the occasion to rap them well over the knuckles. He says:
it discretion, lords, to let this man,
This good man - few of you deserve that title -
This honest man, wait like a lousy foot-boy
At chamber door? And one as great as you are?
Why, what a shame was this! Did my commission
Bid ye so far forget yourselves? I gave ye
Power, as he was a counsellor, to try him.
Not as a groom: there's some of ye I see,
More out of malice than integrity,
Would try him to the utmost had ye mean;
Which ye shall never have while I live.
It is not on record whether or no King James reprimanded Buckingham for his discourtesy to Lord Verulam, but if he did not he clearly ought to have done: so in this passage he is either graciously thanked for so doing, or subtly rebuked for not having done it. That this is a description of the Bacon-Buckingham episode is made the more clear from the fact that, as in the case of Bacon himself, Cranmer was not actually tried, though a commission to that end was issued.
I will now take you to a passage in “Henry VI.,” in which we can similarly hear the great Lord Chancellor talking. “Henry VI.” was published in quarto form as early as 1592. But in none of the early editions of this Play will you find the following beautiful passage which is put into the mouth of Lord Say, in remonstrance to Cade and his followers, who; intend to behead him: You will, however, find it in the folio edition.
From “Henry VI.,” Part II.
Justice with favour have I always done;
Prayers and tears could move me, gifts could never.
When have I ought exacted at your hands,
But to maintain the King, the realm, and you?
Large gifts have I bestowed on learned clerks,
Because my book preferred me to the King,
And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven,
Unless you be possessed with devilish spirits,
You cannot but forbear to murder me:
This tongue hath parleyed unto foreign kings
For your behoof . . .
These cheeks are pale for watching. for your good.
Long sitting to determine poor men's causes
Hath made me full of sickness and diseases ....
Whom have I injured that ye seek my death?
Spedding tells us how, in the first year of his office as Chancellor, Lord Verulam brought justice up to date by disposing of a vast number of cases, some of which had been before the Court for years.
Had this passage appeared in any quarto editions before the time of Bacon's fall from power it would, of course, have had no particular significance. But it did not; and that being so the conclusion that it represents the feelings of Viscount St. Albans - his expostulations at his dragging down - is irresistible.*
The Duke Humphrey Incident.
I come now to what may be termed the Duke Humphrey incident. Near the town of St. Albans is, or was, the ancient manor house that was formerly inhabited by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who plays such a prominent part in “Henry VI.”
*The Plays fit curiously into the life of Bacon, but show no point of contact with Shakespeare's life.
In the Abbey Church of St. Albans is his tomb, and upon it is noted the fact that he was Protector to King Henry VI.; and that he exposed an impostor who pretended to have been born blind.
The details of the exposing of this beggar would be matter of local tradition which would certainly have become known to Bacon, who many times must have read the inscription on the good Duke Humphrey's tomb. Of course it is not impossible that someone else may have heard about it, but there are not many people who can be put forward as possibly to have written “Shakespeare,” or who would have gone out of their way to incorporate the incident in the Play. It is quite un-incidental to the story. In point of fact it breaks into the middle of a violent quarrel between Gloucester and the Cardinal, in such a way, I suggest, that no one not having the story deeply imprinted upon his mind, would, to bring it in, have interrupted.
We will traverse the incident as it is described.
Enter the King, Queen, Gloucester, Cardinal and Suffolk, with Falconers.
They have come in from hunting, and the King remarks to Gloucester:
King. But what
a point, my lord, your falcon made,
And what a pitch she flew above the rest!
To see how God in all his creatures works!
Yea, man and birds are fain of climbing high.
Suffolk. No marvel, an it like your majesty,
My lord Protector's hawks do tower so well;
They know their master loves to be aloft,
And bears his thoughts above his falcon's pitch.
Glos. My lord, 'tis but a base ignoble mind
That mounts no higher than a bird can soar.
Cardinal. I thought as much; he would be above the clouds.
Glos. Ay, my lord Cardinal, how think you by that?
Were it not good your grace could fly to heaven?
King. The treasury of everlasting joy.
Cardinal. Thy heaven is on the earth; thine eyes and thoughts
Beat on a crown, the treasure of thy heart,
Pernicious Protector, dangerous peer,
That smoothst it so with king and commonweal !
The quarrel grows apace and Gloucester and the Cardinal, in asides, make assignation to engage in mortal combat “this evening on the east side of the grove ... now by God's mother, priest, I'll shave your crown for this.” The King, seeing that more is toward than is meant for his ear, says: “I pray my lords let me compound this strife.”
At this unlikely juncture enters a townsman of St. Albans crying “A miracle!” and being led to the King he blurts out how “a blind man at St. Alban's shrine, within this half-hour, hath received his sight; a man that ne'er saw in his life before.” And the King says: “Now God be praised, that, to believing souls, gives light in darkness, comfort in despair.”
The man spoken of is haled before the King and questioned. He affects to be lame and, asked how it befell, explains it by saying that he fell from a tree which he had climbed to get plums. Glos. “What, and wouldst climb a tree? - being blind.” Gloucester then asks him the colour of his cloak and gown, which, respectively, the beggar says are red as blood and black as jet. Then Gloucester calls him the lyingest knave in Christendom, saying: “If thou hadst been born blind thou might'st as well have known all our names as thus to name the several colours we do wear. Sight may distinguish of colours, but suddenly to nominate them all, it is impossible.”
Then the beadle is sent for. “Now, sirrah,” says Gloucester, “if you mean to save yourself from whipping leap me over this stool and run away,” which, after a stroke or two, he does, whereupon the Cardinal says, “Duke Humphrey has done a miracle to-day,” and Suffolk adds, “True: made the lame to leap and run away.”
That is the story of what is termed the Duke Humphrey incident of “Henry VI.” Its weight, as evidence connecting Bacon with the Play, is indeterminate, and will vary in every mind. Some will argue that it has but little weight, as being a story that might have been well known, and that it would naturally have come into this Play (if referred to at all) because it is the only one where Gloucester comes on the scene at St. Albans, which place is obviously the most appropriate one for its introduction. Others will say, “Agreed as to that, but if it be true to say that all men are prone in their writings to refer to incidents within their knowledge, then it is certainly true to say that amongst the few possible claimants to the authorship of the Plays it would be impossible to find anyone more logically indicated as the narrator of this incident than Francis Bacon,” whose country residence was at Gorhambury, near St. Albans.
A Curious Interpolation.
While dealing with evidence of this kind, how can a logical mind explain the unnecessary interpolation in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” of the passage which leads up to the remark by Mistress Quickly that “Hang hog is Latin for Bacon, I warrant you”? Who but the author would go thus out of his way to introduce this name, into the Play? May not this allusion have had its origin in the story that is told in Bacon's Apothegms, which was published forty-eight years after the passage in “The Merry Wives” was written? A culprit on trial for his life before Sir Nicholas Bacon desired his mercy on account of kindredship. “Prithee,” said my lord judge, “how comes that in?” “Why, if it please you, my lord, your name is Bacon and mine Hog, and in all ages Hog and Bacon have been so near kindred that they are not to be separated.” “Ay, but,” replied Sir Nicholas, “You and I cannot be kindred, except you be hanged, for Hog is not Bacon until it be well hanged.” It is curious that the remark of Mistress Quickly (which occurs in the course of a dialogue between Mrs. Page and the Welsh schoolmaster, Evans) is brought out as the result of the interrogation of Mrs. Page's son William, who, she says, “profits nothing at his books.” If William Shakspere of Stratford really were the author of “Shakespeare” it is remarkable that, whenever any character in the Plays is given the name “William,” he is invariably an unlettered person who is held up to ridicule!
Who wrote “Othello”?
Most “Shakespeare” commentators have been struck by the fact that several of the plays published in the first collective “folio” edition vary considerably from the previously published quarto editions: they have been revised and added to, and these revisions and additions were admittedly made by the author. In this connection, to take only one example, I propose to quote that highly distinguished litterateur Mr. George Moore. Writing in reply to a criticism of Mr. Gosse, he says (in the Sunday Times of August 28, 1921):
“Some of Shakespeare's finest plays were not only revised but remoulded; ‘Hamlet’ is one of these, and it is not an exaggeration to say that its revisions were spread over at least 20 years.” As regards “Othello,”, he says of the text in the folio that “It contains 160 lines that are not to be found an the quarto (an 1622), and these lines cannot be attributed to any other hand, but the author's; they are among the best in the play, and among them will be found lines dear to all who hold the belief that Bacon, and not the mummer, was the author of the Plays:
Like to the Pontic sea
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne'er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont.
What is to be pondered in this connection is that Will Shakspere of Stratford died in 1616, some six years before the publication of “Othello,” even in its quarto form. Who then added the 160 new lines which appeared in the following year in the folio edition?
While damning evidence against the Stratford claimant, there is, at first sight, nothing in this to suggest that Bacon wrote the additions referred to by George Moore. But if you happen to know that Bacon had sedulously read his friend George Sandys' “Journey” (1616)* and that he had borrowed information therefrom on more than twenty-five occasions, and that George Sandys refers particularly to the current between the Pontus and Propontis, you will appreciate that there is good reason to suggest that he did! Shakspere had returned to Stratford at least four years before the publication of Sandys' book and would hardly have had any opportunity to read it.
We come now to what is known as
The Passport Evidence.
The first Play to bear the name of “Shakespeare” was “Love's Labour's Lost,” which was published in 1598 - by which time the reputed author of it had already returned to his native village. If the reader will refer to the title-page of the Play he will find that three of the characters are Biron, Dumain and Boyet. Now it happens that in the British Museum you can see to-day three passports, issued respectively to “Mr. Anto. Bacon” and his two servants. These passports are signed, the first by Monsieur Biron, Marshal of France, and the others by D. Boyesse and G. Lomagne, who were important military authorities in the districts through which Anthony Bacon, “Le Sieur de Baccon,” as he is called, passed on his travels. Quite obviously the Biron of the Play, designated as the “Lord attending on the King,” is the famous Marshal of France whose passport was issued to Anthony Bacon. As obviously the name “Boyet” was suggested by and is a deformation of “Boyesse,” while the third, “Domain,” was that of the celebrated Marshal of that name - a friend of Henri of Navarre, whose court Anthony (and probably Francis, who at one time was stationed not far therefrom) had visited. It may, of course, be argued that this evidence would point as much to Anthony as it does to Francis, but Anthony, like Lord Oxford, died far too early to be considered as a possible author of the Plays.
* The full title of Sandys' book is “The Relation of a journey begun an. Dom. 1610: in four Books.” Sandys passed through France and sailed from Venice to Turkey: thence to Egypt and on to Palestine. Speaking of the Pontic Sea, Sandys said (p.39): “This Sea is less salt than others and much annoyed with ice in the winter. The Bosphorous setteth with a strong current into Propontis.” The wind mainly blows from N.E. in winter and compels the surface current to run with great violence from the Black Sea. The reference to “compulsive course” is to the fact that the current is compelled, by the N.E. wind; to move swiftly.
While discussing “Love's Labour's Lost,,” it is interesting to note that an incident is referred to in this Play unlikely to the last degree to be known to anyone who had not visited Navarre or had been in close correspondence with someone who had. I refer to the mission of the French Princess (in Act II.) who comes on an embassy to the King of Navarre, to demand back the Province of Aquitaine, as the full sum of two hundred thousand crowns had been repaid. This is taken from an historical event that happened before the year 1425. It is related in “Monstrelet's Chronicles” how that the King of Navarre renounced all claim to a certain territory in considerations that, with the Duchy of Nemours, the, King of France engaged to pay him “two hundred thousand gold crowns of our Lord the King.”*
* The scenes of this and several of the earlier Plays are laid in France, where Bacon resided for two and a half years.
The Northumberland Manuscript.
It is, I think, likely that had some of the information that we now possess been available earlier, the Baconian theory would have been accepted by many who, having previously committed themselves to the ranks of the orthodox believers in the “miracle” theory, now find it difficult to recant. Unfortunately, it was not until 1867 that a most important discovery was made in Northumberland House in the Strand. This discovery was made by Mr. James Bruce, who had been commissioned by the late Duke of Northumberland to examine his manuscripts and to report upon any of historical interest. As a result Mr. Bruce found in a box containing a miscellaneous collection of old papers a document, now known as the Northumberland manuscript, which had at some time been damaged by fire. Mr. James Spedding (Francis Bacon's great biographer) gives this account of it: “It is a folio volume (now in the possession of the Duke of Northumberland) consisting of 22 sheets which have been laid one upon the other,. folded double (as in an ordinary quire of paper) and fastened by a stitch through the centre. But as the pages are not numbered, and the fastening is gone, it may have contained more, and if we may judge by what is still legible, or the much bescribbled outside leaf which once served for a table of contents, there is some reason to suspect that it did.”
Now this “folder,” or collection of documents, had evidently belonged to Sir Francis Bacon, as it contained mostly copies of works admittedly written by him - essays, dissertations, speeches, etc., such, for example as:
praise of the worthiest vertue
The praise of the worthiest affection
Speaches for my Lord of Essex at the tylt
Speach for my Lord of Sussex tilt Orations at Graie’s Inne Revels
Earle of Arundle’s Letter to the Queen’s (Majestie)
by Mr. ffrauncis bacon
Essaies by the same author:
Rychard the Second
Rychard the Third
REPRODUCTION OF BUST OF
Made by Francois Louis Roubillac,
the famous French sculptor who lived
and worked in England
THE “POUR RIRE” PORTRAIT
Enlargement of the (Mask) Head, from
the (so-called) Portrait, by Droeshout,
in the 1623 Folio.
A photographic facsimile of this outside cover is here reproduced, and as the writing thereon (being in Elizabethan script) is very difficult to decipher, a second illustration of it is also given showing the writing transcribed in 1904 by Mr. Frank Burgoyne, Librarian of the Lambeth Public Libraries, into modern script.
Among the many interesting features of this contents page is that it has been scribbled over by someone who was apparently aware that Bacon was writing under the pseudonym of “Shakespeare,” for that name has been written on the cover several times, and in juxta-position to these entries the scribbler has added the words “you,” “your,” or “you yourself”; while following the entry “Essaies by the same author,” there appears the curious line “By Mr. ffrauncis William Shakespeare.” The impression is irresistible that the person responsible for these scribblings was so full of this knowledge of the identity of Bacon with “Shakespeare” that he could not refrain from expressing it.
We do not know who wrote any part of this MS. but as six out of the nine pieces remaining in this folder are transcripts of works by Bacon then unpublished, it is fair to infer that the scribes were his amanuenses. Spedding considers that none of the writing is of later date than the reign of Elizabeth. The two items on the contents sheet, “Rychard the Second” and “Rychard the Third,” have always been understood to refer to the “Shakespeare” Plays so named, since no dramas by those titles by any other writer, are known. As these plays were published in 1597 it is fair to assume that this Northumberland document is not of later date, since there would be no object in spending time and labour in copying these Plays, which, when published, could be bought for 6d. each.
The scribbling referred to is almost entirely confined to variations of the name Francis Bacon and the name Shakespeare. It is also worthy of note that the scribbler has jotted down the unwieldy word “honorificabilitudino,” which appears in slightly longer form (as “honorificabilitudinalibus”) in “Love's Labour's Lost,” and is very rarely found elsewhere in literature. This play was not published until 1598; indicating that the scribbler must have seen it in manuscript. In the middle of the page we see the words “Anthony comfort and consorte,” which can hardly refer to anyone other than Bacon's beloved brother Anthony; and as Mr. Bertram G. Theobald pointed out in “Enter Francis Bacon,” an intimate remark like this certainly suggests that the scribe was someone who was familiar with Bacon's family affairs.
Included in the scribblings is this:
which seems to be an imperfect reminiscence of the line in “Lucrece,” “Revealing day through every cranny spies,” and is a very interesting contemporary notice of the poem, which was first published in 1594.
The main conclusions to be drawn from this document are (1) that it was an inventory and collection of some of Francis Bacon's works. (2) That it belonged to him, and (3) that as the titles of the Plays of “Richard II.” and “Richard III.” are mentioned without being ascribed to any other party, they also were his work. There is admittedly no positive proof of this, but it is difficult to quarrel with that inference. Certainly it may truly be said that the only place where any manuscript of the “Shakespeare” Plays is known to have existed is in this dossier of Bacon's, in association with his admitted works. This document surely ranks as important evidence connecting Francis Bacon with the authorship of the Immortal Plays.
We will now consider the evidence furnished by comparison of style and identity of thought and expression.
In 1679 someone signing himself “T.T.” (believed to be Archbishop Tenison) wrote in a book entitled “Baconiana” the following significant sentence:
“And those who have true skill in the works of the Lord Verulam, like great masters in painting, can tell by the design, the strength, the way of colouring, whether he was the author of this or the other piece, though his name be not on it.”
As early, therefore, as 1679 the idea was entertained, to put it no higher than that, that my Lord Verulam had written works other than those that had his name to them.
Following up this intelligent hint as to the manner in which his other writings might be distinguished, “though his name be not on it,” we find that a comparison of Bacon's acknowledged works with those of “Shakespeare” reveals an astonishing affinity of knowledge, thought and manner of expression. The peculiar words and groups and association of words that are to be met with alike in his acknowledged writings and in the Immortal Plays (vide appended selection) constitute intrinsic evidence of identity of authorship so strong as to amount almost to proof positive.
QUOTATIONS AFFORDING INHERENT
EVIDENCE OF IDENTITY
“O Heaven! a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer.”
“Life's but a walking shadow.”
“What a piece of work is a man! The paragon of animals: the beauty of the world.”
“Ay, gentle Thurio; for you know that love must creep in service where it cannot go.”
“Infirm of purpose. Give me daggers.”
“A ruined piece of nature.”
“Lend me your ears.”
“The poor abuses of the times.”
“There's such a divinity doth hedge a king.”
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.”
From one or other of
“The even carriage between two factions proceedeth . . of a trueness to a man's self … Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others.
“The cause is, for that they move in the spirits a gentle attention.”
“That gigantic state of mind which possesseth the troublers of the world, such as was Lucius Sylla.”
“Men have their time, and die many times, in desire of something which they principally take to heart.”
“True fortitude is not given to man by nature, but must grow out of discourse of reason.”
“Let me live to serve you, else life is but the shadow of death to your Majesty's most devoted servant.”
“The souls of the living are the beauty of the world.”
“ . . . seeing they were infirm of purpose, etc.”
“The nature of sounds in general hath been superficially observed. It is one of the subtilest pieces of nature.”
“Standing all at a gaze about him, and lend their ears to his music.”
“The abuses of the times.”
“In the third place I set down reputation, because of the peremptory tides and currents it hath; which if they be not taken in their due time are seldom recovered.”
“There is shaped a tale in London's forge that beateth space at this time.”
(Note. - Here we have in the one case a tale shaped in the forge, while in the other a plan is to be shaped in a forge.)
One cannot fail to be struck with the extraordinary similarity of thought and expression which is Manifest in these quotations from “Shakespeare” and Bacon's acknowledged works.
There are many more, and equally striking, examples that might be cited, if space permitted, but we must be satisfied to conclude with a sonnet by Bacon, which forms part of a fragment of a “Masque” written about 1594:
1. Seated between the old world and the new,
A land there is no other land may touch,
3. Where reigns a queen in peace and honour true:
Stories or fable do describe no such.
5. Never did Atlas such a burden bear,
As she in holding up the world opprest;
7. Supplying with her virtue everywhere
Weakness of friends, errors of servants best.
No nation breeds a warmer blood for war,
10. And yet she calms them by her majesty;
No age hath ever wits refined so far,
And yet she calms them by her policy:
To her thy son must make her sacrifice
14. If he will have the morning of his eyes.
Compare line 1 with
“Flying between the cold moon and the earth.”
Midsummer Night's Dream.
Compare line 3
“In peace and honour rest you here, my sons.”
Compare line 5
“Thou art no Atlas for so great a weight.”
Compare line 7
“Shall see thy virtue witnessed everywhere.”
As You LIke It.
Compare line 10
“That is not blinded by her majesty.”
Love's Labour's Lost.
Compare line 14
“Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes.”
It is interesting to note that the sonnet was written before three of the Plays with which it is compared.
If further evidence of the same nature be required, it may be found in the Harleian Collection at the British Museum, where there is a manuscript of Francis Bacon's, entitled the “Promus of Formularies and Elegancies.” “Promus” means storehouse, and this work of Bacon's appears to have been an elaborate kind of diary, in which he made notes (in French, Italian, Latin and English) as they occurred To him, of apt words and phrases - evidently for the purpose of making literary use of them.
These phrases and peculiar words are not found to have been made much use of in Bacon's acknowledged works, but we find them interspersed throughout the Plays.
While space prohibits their quotation, I cannot refrain from referring to one of them, namely, the quaint expression “good dawning,” meaning good early morning. It is an extraordinary fact that the only place in the course of literature in which that expression is employed is in “King Lear.” And it is important to note that this memorandum book of Bacon's was compiled (the authorities agree as to this) prior to the Play. Such an unusual form of address can hardly have been coined by two men at the same time.
If similarity in expression of ideas and the common use of peculiar words may be regarded as an indication, if not proof of identity, of authorship, how much more conclusive may we not regard the occurrence both in “Shakespeare” (“Troilus and Cressida”) and in Bacon's “Advancement of Learning” of a mistake and that, too, of an exceptional character?
In Act II., Scene 2 of “Troilus and Cressida” occurs the following passage referring to Aristotle, in which he is mistakenly quoted as saying that young men are unfit to hear moral philosophy:
and Troilus you have both said well:
And on the cause and question now in hand
Have gloz'd, - but superficially; not much
Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought
Unfit to hear moral philosophy.
The reasons you allege do more conduce
To the hot passion of distempered blood, etc.
Now Aristotle never said any such thing. What Aristotle spoke of was political philosophy!
And it happens that in the “Advancement of Learning” Bacon quotes Aristotle on this same subject, and in so doing makes identically the same mistake. Treating of moral culture Bacon quotes Aristotle as saying that -
“Young men are no fit auditors of moral philosophy,” because “they are not settled from the boiling heat of their affections, nor attempered with time and experience.”
The “Advancement” was published in 1605, while the Play appears to have been a new play in 1608. The author of the Play, therefore, must have seen or written the passage in the “Advancement.” .Is there any reason to suppose that the putative author of the Plays - who had long before this returned to his native village - had studied this priceless work? Short of the production of the original manuscripts of the Plays, and finding them to be in Francis Bacon's handwriting and signed by him, it would be difficult to produce more cogent evidence of identity of authorship than is furnished by this repetition of a mistake of such an exceptional character! Surely it proves, beyond peradventure of doubt; that the hand that wrote the “Advancement” also wrote the Play.
In his “Natural History” Bacon developed the theory that men, and even animals, plants and inanimate objects, were invested with spirits. He does not speak, as we would, of the spirit of a man, but of his spirits: In his “History of Life and Death” he says: “Great joys attenuate the spirits; familiar cheerfulness strengthens the spirits by calling them forth.”
Now note the following examples of the expression of the same idea in “Shakespeare”
From “2nd Henry
“ Fair daughter, you do draw my spirits from me .
With new lamenting ancient oversights.”
“Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep.”
From “The Merchant of Venice,” V.
“I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
The reason is your spirits are attentive.”
“Your spirits shine through you.”
From “Measure for
“Heaven give your spirits comfort.”
Nothing can exceed the strength of this evidence, for even if there existed in Francis Bacon's time another superman capable of writing the “Shakespeare” plays, is it possible that such a man would copy the peculiar theories of his contemporary, whose works he must be assumed to have read?
The “Empsom and Dudley” Evidence.
All students of the history of King Henry VII. will remember that the reign of this King was marred by the fact that, in order to raise money, he empowered two of his subjects, Empsom and Dudley; to do this by arraigning people who had failed to observe some obsolete law and fining them heavily for the omission. Bacon wrote a prose history of Henry VII. (which perhaps explains why the story of that King was not made the subject of a Play), and therein he says:
About this time began to be discovered in the king that that disposition which afterwards, nourished and whet on by bad counsellors and ministers, proved the blot of his times ; which was the course he took to crush treasure out of his subjects' purses, by forfeiture upon penal laws . . . . The king had gotten for his purpose two instruments, Empsom and Dudley, whom the people esteemed as his horse-leeches and shearers.
Bacon wrote frequently upon this subject, and in his great work “De Augmentis” he pointed out that -
as an express statute is not regularly abrogated by disuse, it so happens that from a contempt of such as are obsolete, the other laws also lose part of their authority : whereby the living laws are killed in the embraces of the dead ones.
And in a letter to Queen Elizabeth (vide James Spedding's “Life and Works”) he wrote:
These unnecessary laws . . . mortify the execution of such as are wholesome and most meet to be put in execution, both for your Majesty's profit and the universal benefit of the realm.
Having exemplified Ba'con's views on this important matter, let us now see how they are reproduced by “Shakespeare” in “Measure for Measure”:
Duke. We have
strict statutes and most biting laws,
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
Which for these nineteen years we have let slip;*
Even like an overgrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
Only, to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not to use, in time the rod
Becomes more mocked than feared; so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose.
* First Folio: “let slip” would appear to be a printer's error for “let sleep.”
Elsewhere in “Measure for Measure” Angelo says to Isabel: “The law hath not been dead tho' it hath slept.”
And just as Empsom and Dudley raked over all old statutes which had slept for many years, so Angelo “awakes me all the enrolled penalties” which had slept for nineteen zodiacs, and “hath picked out an act” (“a drowsy and neglected act”) “under whose heavy sense your brother's life falls into forfeit” (Meas. I.4.64); and, like Empsom and Dudley, he “follows close the rigour of the statute to make him [Claudio] an example” (I.4.67).
What happened in the bad times of Henry VII. is made to happen again in “Measure for Measure.”
Bacon and “Shakespeare” were anxious. to get rid of all obsolete and ensnaring penal laws, so that the outrageous things that occurred in the time of Henry VII. might never happen again; so Bacon wrote to Elizabeth and afterwards to James, and many times brought the matter before Parliament - and “Shakespeare” wrote “Measure for Measure”!
`A notable feature of Baconiana (the official organ of the Bacon Society) has for some time past been the contribution by Dr. W.S. Melsome, M.A., M.D., etc., of articles* giving new examples of the correspondence between opinions expressed in “Shakespeare” and the views of Francis Bacon, as adumbrated in his admitted works, and I am indebted to Dr. Melsome for the above “Empsom and Dudley” evidence. Dr. Melsome shows that in many cases lines in the plays are practically blank-verse paraphrasing of Bacon's prose utterances, and as an example of this I cannot refrain from allusion to his contribution to the July, 1942, issue of Baconiana.
*These researches will, when concluded, be reproduced in book form.
“Love,” “Rote” and “Spell.”
The allusion is to the passage in “Romeo and Juliet,” where Friar Laurence is made to chide Romeo for his previous love for Rosaline. Romeo replies:
pray thee chide not, she whom I love now'
Doth grace for grace, and love for love allow:
The other did not so.
The Friar says:
O, she knew well
Thy love did read by rote and could not spell.
Now it happens that in the Northumberland MS. (for description of which document see p.16) there appears a masque or device, written by Sir Francis Bacon in 1592, but first printed in 1867. And it happens that part of this device is devoted to a speech or monograph entitled “The praise of the worthiest affection” (love), and that in this speech occurs this sentence: “Now therefor will I teache lovers to love yt (that) have all this while loved by roate. I will give them the Alphabet of love. I will show them how it is spelled.”
So here we have, all in one short sentence, and in the same sequence as in the few lines quoted from “Romeo and Juliet,” the words “love,” “roate,” “spelled.” And this sentence was written five years before the play was published! How can one possibly explain this except upon the hypothesis of the identity of Bacon with “Shakespeare”?
After such evidence it may perhaps savour of anticlimax to mention it, but there is an idiosyncrasy common to Bacon and “Shakespeare” that is remarkable. I refer to the use of a double subject; and a correspondingly double predicate, in the same sentence, as for example:
“If your Majesty had not heard and seen the thunder of the bells and the lightning of the bonfires for your grandchild. . .”
“There is one within, besides the things we have heard and seen, recounts most horrid sights.” (“Julius Caesar.”)
What more striking indication of the fact that Francis Bacon was, at the time, publishing certain of his masterpieces anonymously could one possibly have than that which is conveyed by the following postscript to a letter (written to him about 1618) from Sir Toby Mathew:
The most prodigious wit that ever I knew of my nation and of this side of the sea, is of your Lordship's name, though he be known by another.
On 9th April, 1623, Sir Toby Mathew writes to Lord Verulam as follows:
I have received your great and noble token, and can but return the humblest of my thanks for your Lordship's vouchsafing so to visit the poorest and unworthiest of your servants. . . etc.
What, may we ask, was this “great and noble token” that my Lord Verulam sent to his friend and admirer, Sir Toby Mathew? There was nothing published in Verulam's name in the spring of 1623. It would seem to be a fair inference, therefore, that it was a copy of the then just-published first folio edition of “Shakespeare.”
In an undated letter from Sir Toby to Sir Francis he writes:
I will not promise to return you weight for weight, but measure for measure, and I must tell you beforehand that you are not to expect from me any other stuff than fustian and bombast, and such wares as that. For there is no venturing in other commodities, and much less upon such as are forbidden. Neither, indeed, do we know what is forbidden and what is not, etc.
And there is one from Bacon to Mathew, as follows:
Of this, when you were here, I showed you some model, at what time methought you were more willing to hear “Julius Caesar” than Queen Elizabeth commended.
What are we to deduce from the intimate references in these letters to two of the “Shakespeare” Plays?
Bacon a Poet.
In proof that Sir Francis, though concealed, was a poet, we have his own letter to his friend John Davies:
“Briefly I commend myself to your love, and to the
well-using of my name . . . as impressing a good conceit and opinion of me
chiefly in the King (James I.), of whose favour I make myself comfortable
assurance, as otherwise in that Court . . . so desiring you to be good to
concealed poets, I continue. .
- Francis Bacon.
But we do not now have to take his word for the fact that he was a poet, though concealed, for there has comparatively recently been discovered a specimen of his work which - bearing in mind that it is not original verse but a translation from Latin, and that translated verse tends to exercise a cramping influence, accordingly as the writer adheres to the sense of the original - is more than sufficient to prove his title:
PORTION OF THE 104th PSALM AS RENDERED FROM THE ORIGINAL LATIN INTO ENGLISH VERSE BY FRANCIS BACON.
Father and King of pow'rs, both high and low,
Whose sounding fame all creatures serve to blow,
My soul shall with the rest take up thy praise,
But who can blaze Thy beauties, Lord, aright?
They turn the brittle beams of mortal sight.
Upon Thy head Thou wear'st a glorious crown,
All set with virtues, polished with renown:
Thence round about a silver veil doth fall
Of crystal light, mother of colours all. . .
In the beginning with a mighty hand,
He made the earth by counterpoise to stand;
Never to move, but to be fixed still;
Yet hath no pillars but His sacred will.
The earth, as with a veil, once covered was,
The waters over-flowed all the mass.
After describing how the waters fled at the rebuke of the Lord, he continues:
The”higher ground, where waters cannot rise,
By rain and dews are watered from the skies;
Causing the earth put forth grass for beasts. . .
The sappy cedars, tall like stately tow'rs,
High flying birds do harbour in their bow'rs;
The holy storks that are the travellers,
Choose for to dwell and build within the firs;
The climbing goat hangs on steep mountain's side;
The digging conies in the rocks do hide.
The moon, so constant in inconstancy,*
Doth rule the monthly seasons orderly:
The sun, eye of the world, doth know his race,
And when to shew and when to hide his face . . .
All these do ask of Thee their meat to live,
Which in due season Thou to them dost give.
* “Oh, swear not by the moon; the inconstant moon.” (“Romeo and Juliet.”)
Does not this work clearly exhibit the “Shakespeare” touch, and W the hand of him who made “all knowledge his province”?
A Curious Coincidence.
Ben Jonson, in his “Discoveries,” writes of Francis Bacon that he was one who “hath filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome.”
Isn't it curious that in his dedication to “Shakespeare,” in the first folio edition of the Plays, Ben Jonson says:
Leave thee alone for the comparison,
Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Why would he, in the “Discoveries,” apply to Bacon almost identically the same words that he uses in the folio to describe the author of the Plays unless he regarded Bacon and the writer of the Plays as one and the same person?
That Bacon wrote works other than those published in his own name is evidenced from the concluding paragraph to a letter addressed to Lancelot Andrews, Bishop of Winchester, in 1622, as follows:
But I account the use that a man should seek of the publishing of his own writings be before his death, to be but an untimely anticipation of that which is proper to follow a man, and'not to go along with him.*
* It is interesting and instructive to note that Moliere, the greatest of the French comic dramatists (born 1622), who in his youth served at the French Court, where he had am ample opportunity of observing the foibles he so keenly portrays was a nom de plume. Moliere's real name was Jean Baptiste Poquelin. The real name of the great French philosopher and dramatist Voltaire was not Voltaire, but Francois Marie de Arouet!
The “Manes Verulamiani.”
In the centenary number of Baconiana there was published a literal translation of some of the many elegies that were written, in Latin, in commemoration of Lord Verulam, at the time of his death. These elegies were first published by his chaplain, W. Rawley. They were composed by fellows of the Universities and members of the various Inns of Court.
The Rev. William Sutton, S.J., who was responsible for the translation of these elegies, says Lord Verulam must have been known to the writers of them as a supreme poet. “In the fourth elegy,” he says, “he gets credit for uniting philosophy to the drama, and for restoring philosophy through comedy and tragedy.” For example, one of these elegies commences:
The day-star of the Muses has set before his hour.
Most of the thirty-three poems refer to Verulam as a poet of outstanding merit. As none of the works published under Bacon's name can be said to unite philosophy with the drama, or to restore philosophy through the medium of comedy and tragedy, this evidence, though negative, connecting him with the Plays is of great importance. Other than “Shakespeare,” there was no work of any kind of which it could be said that the author had therein united philosophy with the drama, and restored it through the medium of comedy and tragedy.
The vocabulary of the Plays was a new development of English speech. Max M? declares that “Shakespeare displayed a greater variety of expression than probably any writer in any language.” He estimated Milton's vocabulary at 8,000 words; Shakespeare's at 15,000 words. The Rev. G. C. Bompas states that Bacon's vocabulary is practically the same as that of the Shakespeare plays. The Average man's vocabulary is less than 1,000 words. Verbum sat sapienti!
Emblem pictures enjoyed great popularity during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Books of emblem pictures were published and delighted the litterati of that age in much the same way that cross-word puzzles do now. Bacon himself was much intrigued by them, and inter alia in the “Advancement of Learning” says: “The art of memory is built upon pre-notion and emblem,” and emblems “strike more forcibly the memory and are more easily imprinted than that which is intellectual.” Now in 1645 there was printed in Holland an edition in Latin of the “De Augmentis,” and as frontispiece it carried the illustration reproduced facing page 32. What is the meaning of it? A ragged figure clad possibly in a goatskin (representing Tragedy) is carrying a book which has the symbol of the mirror thereon (the mirror up to nature)* to what might well be the “strong-based promontory” referred to in “The Tempest.” The figure is interpreted by Sir Edwin Durning Lawrence to represent the tragic muse.
*The purpose of playing . . . is to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very art and body of the time his form and pressure.” – “Hamlet.”
But Bacon is obviously holding back this figure which is holding the book up to the light, and the suggestion has been made that this figure may be intended to represent Ariel. On the “strong-based promontory” is a temple depicted in sombre shade. It may, therefore, be a “solemn temple” of the drama. Bacon's right-hand index finger points towards the bottom of the page on which the light shines, and the figure looks despairingly as if the time for its release is not quite due. When in “The Tempest” Prospero-Shakespeare tells Ariel there is still more work to. be performed, the sprite replies despondently, “Is there yet more toil?” It will be noticed that there is a smaller book hidden under the open one. In 1623 two immortal works were published - the “Shakespeare” Folio edition and the “De Augmentis.”
Interpretation of Symbolical Frontispiece to Bacon's
“History of King Henry VII.”
His history of King Henry VII was the only history of an English King which Bacon wrote in prose. It is a model of what such a history should be. A Latin edition of it was published in Holland in 1642, and a remarkable feature of it is that it has, as frontispiece, the design reproduced facing page 2 of cover. What is the meaning of this? No explanation of it is given in the History itself. But evidently it was designed to put readers upon enquiry concerning some matter to which open reference was at the time regarded as undesirable. The late Sir Edwin Durning Lawrence, brother of a former Lord Mayor of London, made an intensive study of these old emblem pictures, and of this one (in his book Bacon is Shakespeare) he says:
“On the left of the picture we see a knight in full armour, and also a
philosopher .... On the right, on a lower level, is the same philosopher,
evidently Bacon. He is holding the shaft of a spear with which he seems to stop
the wheel, By his side stands what appears to be a knight or Esquire, but the
man's sword is girt on the wrong side, he wears a lace collar and lace trimming
to his breeches, and he wears actor's boots. We are, therefore, forced to
conclude that he is an actor. He wears but one spur. This actor is shaking the
spear which is held by the philosopher. He is therefore a Shake-spear
The figure of the Virgin holding the Salt signifies wisdom. In her right hand she holds also two other objects which seem difficult to describe. They represent “a bridle without a bit,” in order to tell us that the purpose of the picture is to reveal something hitherto perhaps only guessed at or known to very few. Is it possible that its object is to indicate Bacon as the author of the plays known as Shakespeare's?
The symbols on the wheel represent the “mirror up to nature,” “the rod for the back of fools,” the “basin to hold your guilty blood” (“Titus Andronicus,” V.2)„ and “the fool's bawble.” On the other side of the spear: the spade, the symbol of the workman; the cap, the symbol of the gentleman; the crown, the symbol of the peer; the royal crown; and lastly the Imperial crown. Bacon says Henry VII wore an Imperial crown.
Though the picture under discussion is displayed on a stage curtain, the “History of Henry VII” was written in prose. Is it possible that this symbolical picture is designed to suggest that other English-King histories, published in the form of plays in “Shakespeare,” were introduced to the stage through the agency of the actor at the Globe Theatre to which the “Shake-spear” figure is pointing?
No other dramatist of “Shakespeare's” time, or since, has used legal phrases with the readiness and exactness with which they are employed in the Plays. Richard Grant White said: “Legal phrases flow from his (the author's) pen as part of his vocabulary and parcel of his thoughts.” He points out, for example, that the word “purchase,” which in ordinary use meant, as it now means, to acquire by giving value, applies in law, to all legal modes of obtaining property, except inheritance or descent. And in this peculiar sense the word occurs five times in the Plays. Lord Chief Justice Campbell also remarks upon this point.
“In 'Anthony and Cleopatra,’” he says, “Lepidus, in trying to palliate the bad qualities and misdeeds of Anthony, uses the language of a conveyancer's chambers,” quoting:
His faults in him seem as the spots in heaven,
More fiery by night's blackness; hereditary
Rather than purchased.
In this passage complete knowledge is shown of the legal distinction made between things acquired by descent or otherwise.
Of Sonnet No. 46 Lord Campbell says it is “so intensely legal in its language that without a considerable knowledge of English forensic procedure it cannot be fully understood.”
Speaking of Gloster's language in “King Lear,” he says: “In forensic discussions respecting legitimacy the question is put whether the individual whose status is to be determined is 'capable,' i.e., capable of inheriting: but it is only a lawyer who could express the idea of legitimizing a natural son by simply saying:
I'll work the means to make him capable.
Several books have been written dealing with the amazing knowledge of law exhibited in “Shakespeare,” including -
“Shakespeare as a Lawyer,” by Franklin Fiske
“The Law in 'Shakespeare-,”' by Senator Davis.
“Shakespeare's Legal Acquirements,” by Lord Chief Justice Campbell.
“Von vielen Jus bei Shakespeare ein wenig”--contributed to the Annual Report of the Legal Society of Berlin (1928) by Herr Rechtsanwalt Dr. E. Fleischhauer.
Inter alia, Mr. Heard says:
The 'Comedy of Errors' shows that Shakespeare [he means the author of the Plays] was very familiar with some of the most refined of the principles of the science of special pleading, a science which contains the quintessence of the law.
He points out that in the second part of “Henry IV.” Pistol uses the term “absque hoc,” which is technical in the last degree. This, he says, was a species of traverse, used by special pleaders when the record was in Latin. He considers that the manner in which this expression is used justifies the conclusion that the writer of the Plays must have obtained his knowledge of it “from actual practice.”
Referring to the ubiquitous use of legal expressions in the Plays, Senator Davis says that these emblems of the author's industry “are woven into his style like the bees into the imperial purple of Napoleon's coronation robes.” The late Dr. Appleton Morgan and Lord Penzance, both high authorities (the latter was a famous judge and a member of the Privy Council), were similarly agreed concerning the all embracing knowledge of the law connoted in the author of “Shakespeare,” and the latter, in his “Bacon-Shakespeare Controversy,” puts most emphatically upon record his view that “without the regular training of a lawyer no one could express himself after the fashion in which the writer of the Plays uniformly does.”
Nothing is more conclusively established than that the author of the Plays was a lawyer of high standing and long experience. This being admitted, does not the finger of common sense point again to the only possible writer of them as being that great lawyer who, in a letter to his uncle, Lord Burleigh, said: “I have taken all knowledge for my province”: to him who, in his will, said: “My name and memory I leave to foreign. nations: and to mine own countrymen, after some time be passed over”:* and to him who, in a prayer, wrote: “I have, though in a despised weed (disguise), procured the good of all men”?
*The italics are mine.
The truth of this I think –
... so well appareled,
So clear, so shining, and so evident,
That it will glimmer through a blind man's eye.
As I have previously remarked, no two persons attach the same degree of importance to any particular piece of evidence direct or indirect. To some minds negative evidence - the omission to do or say something which one would expect to have been done or said – often carries greater weight than actual deed. I shall now take the liberty of concluding this little treatise with the remark that, in view of Sir Francis Bacon’s frequent animadversions upon the value of the theatre as an educational medium, and which, as he said, was “a kind of musician’s bow, by which men’s minds may be played upon,” it is very significant that he never made even passing reference to his great contemporary, “Shakespeare”, that amazingly erudite alter ego whose works were exactly of the kind that Bacon had said such works should be.
RECENT OBITER DICTA
Concerning the question whether or not it matters who wrote “Shakspeare,” Mr. Ivor Brown, the literary editor of The Observer, in the issue of that newspaper of July 11, 1943, wrote:
“The common statement that the author does not matter, since we have the Plays, seems to me singularly fatuous. Don't we wish to Praise famous men justly? Isn't the truth about the world's supreme poet worth discovery?”
Professor J. Dover Wilson 'in “The Essential Shakespeare” says:
“To credit the authorship of ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ to a butcher boy, who left school at thirteen, and whose education was only what a little provincial borough could provide, is to invite one either to believe in miracles or to disbelieve in the man of Stratford.”
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PHOTO-FACSIMILE OF THE TITLE PAGE OF
DE AUGMENTIS, 1645