A Letter of Francis Bacon's

Bacon speaks again and again of Richard II, and in a letter to the Earl of Devonshire, says:

" I remember an answer of mine in a manner which had some affinity* with my Lord's cause; which, though it grew from me, went after about in other's names; for her Majesty being mightily incensed with that book which dedicated to my Lord Essex, being a story of the first year of King Henry IV, thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's heads boldness and faction, said, she had an opinion there was treason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it that might be drawn with case of treason......... And, another time, when the Queen could not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author......said with great indignation that she would have him "racked to produce his author."

*{the prose work of Henry IV, ascribed to John Hayward, was to all intents and purposes, the life of Richard II. Only a small portion at the end is concerned with Henry IV, the main text with Richard.}

 

Bacon and the Queen regarding Richard II

In Bacon's Apotheghems it is said that, "The book of deposing Richard the Second, and the coming in of Henry the Fourth, supposed to be written by Dr. Hayward, who was committed to the Tower for it, had much incensed Elizabeth, and she asked Mr. Bacon, being then of her learned counsel: Whether there were no treason contained in it? Mr. Bacon, intending to do him a pleasure, and to take off the Queen's bitterness with a jest, answered:

"No, madam, for treason I cannot deliver opinion that there is any, but very much felony." The Queen apprehending it gladly, asked: "How and wherein?" Mr. Bacon answered: "Because he had stolen many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus."

In an early number of Baconiana, a writer showed that whole pages of The Annals of Tacitus were used in Richard II. The play was staged in 1597, during the Essex Rebellion and before, and Bacon, at the trial of Essex makes the cryptic remark: "It is said I gave in evidence mine own tales." All these indications point to Bacon's connection with Richard II.

Mr. Henry Seymour, in Baconiana, (December 1926) pointed out the extraordinary fact that this play was published annonymously in the first instance, and that only when the Queen was hunting for it's author to "rack" him, the new edition of 1598 was issued with the name of "William Shakespeare" as author! Was this the moment to print a real author's name upon it? It plainly shows that this name was but a pseudonym, that Bacon was the concealed author, and that his knowledge of its "cribbing" from Tacitus was an unconscious admission of the fact.