Secrets
of
The Merry Wives of Windsor

by

Mather Walker

November 2003

 ______

An army of critics marching against The Merry Wives of Windsor have judged it trivial. Their hubris is akin to that of the German Sixth Army as it marched against Stalingrad in 1941.  "Russland ist kaput", chortled these, soon not to be so happy, killers.  A sorry spectacle : Critics and Nazis. Matched bookends of history. The walking dead,and the brain dead, goose stepping in lockstep.

There is a tradition about the origin of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Queen Elizabeth was so amused by the character, Falstaff, that she ordered a play be written showing Falstaff in love. Moreover, she ordered that it be written in fourteen days.  It should have been an impossible task.  But the play was produced as ordered -a hilarious comedy written, apparently in the stipulated timeframe, geared to Elizabeth's interests, and guaranteed to entertain her, if anything could. Commenting on The Merry Wives of Windsor, the editor of the Pelican edition of the play observes that it:

"…is not a popular play except with theater audiences, who usually laugh themselves silly during the show and go home with the satisfaction of having had an unexpectedly jolly time." 

 "Queen" was the title of the top dog in the Elizabethan social hierarchy.  As female of the species, there was a more apropos title many would have liked to use, but there was one serious drawback they would have wound up shorter by a head.  With her peremptory command that the play be written in fourteen days Elizabeth was a prime example of arrogance of title.

This matter of arrogance of title was something on the mind of the author (Francis Bacon) at that particular time.  A tradition at Gray's Inn was people took their meals in groups of four.  This was referred to as 'a mess'.  In Bacon's mess the other three were knights.  This dining arrangement made a certain degree of social scale snobbery unavoidable.  This could have been avoided if Bacon was knighted.  But this easement certainly was not to be expected from Elizabeth.  Bacon had to wait until 1603 when King James assumed the throne.  He then wrote a letter to Robert Cecil in which he submitted his petition to be knighted. He said:

"Lastly, for this divulged and almost prostituted title of knighthood, I could without charge, by your Honour's means, be content to have it, both because of this late disgrace (he refers to financial troubles) And because I have three new knights in my mess at Gray's-Inn Commons, and because I have found out an alderman's daughter, And handsome maiden, to my liking.  So if your Honour will find the Time, I will come to the court from Gorhambury upon any warning."

Bacon added that he could wish the honor of knighthood to come with some privacy, and particularly, "not merely gregarious in a troop."  So much for his wish, on July 23, Bacon received his title at the palace of Whitehall lost in a crowd of three hundred claimants.

As Ben Jonson noted of Bacon : he filled up all measures.  When the peremptory command came down from Elizabeth, in addition to fashioning a light entertainment for the Queen, he fashioned a treatise that was far from trivial, because it dealt with the all too serious subject of the arrogance of privilege of title.  Bacon's play asked the question what consideration is owed these people?  He dealt with a whole gamut of privilege of title, but his answer was always the same - objectively that such people merit is to be the butt of a joke.

Falstaff, that mountain of flesh, personifies the bloated arrogance of the privilege of title of knighthood, and is made the butt of a joke throughout the play. Other titles examined in the play are those of Esquire, Doctor, Schoolmaster, Parson, and even the Stratford man's title to the authorship of the Shakespeare plays.  All are depicted at some point in the play as the butt of a joke.  In addition to the jokes played on Falstaff subjecting him to the most laughable and ludicrous indignities, the host of the Garter plays jokes on Doctor Caius and the Parson and Schoolmaster - Sir Hugh Evans sending each to a different part of the forest to meet the other in a duel.  The play even includes Parental Authority in its survey of titles of honor, for it concludes with the double joke attempted to be played on each other by Page and his wife in the marriage of their daughter; one plans to marry her to Slender; the other counter-plots to marry her to Dr. Caius. Both are duped and made ridiculous by Mistress Anne's taking the matter into her own hands and running away with her lover, Fenton.

The play actually has two plots. One deals with that arrogant and disreputable London Knight, Sir John Falstaff, who has come down to Windsor with several of his disreputable followers.  After stealing everything he can get his hands on, Falstaff, still short of funds, decides he will shore up his depleted resources by seducing both of the merry wives.  Offended both by his arrogance and his presumption, the wives play a series of jokes on Falstaff, outwitting and humiliating him at every step.

The other plot deals with young Anne Page, who has three suitors, one of whom is young Fenton, with whom she runs off to get married at the end of the play.  

The Merry Wives of Windsor contains a plethora of secrets. The merry wives (Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page) have their secret.  The towns people have their secret.  Anne Page has her secret also. Another secret is the evidence showing the version of the play that appeared in the 1623 First Folio edition of The Collected Works of Shakespeare was actually written sometime between 1619 and 1621 - a timeframe that eliminates the Stratford candidate as the author.  The play goes the extra step; a further secret is the scene in the play that makes the Stratford man's claim to the title of author of the play the butt of a joke, and a still further secret is the evidence in the play that shows Francis Bacon was the author. A persistent question in connection with the Baconian authorship is did Queen Elizabeth know Bacon was the author of the plays? This is another of the secrets of the play, it answers this question.  Another secret is the true origin of the prestigious Order of the Garter, that special jewel in the Elizabeth's crown the prized title she reserved for her privileged few. The Merry Wives of Windsor contains Francis Bacon's own personal secret also, because it tells us what he actually thought of the title of knight that he was seeking.

But the major secret of the play, one that affords an iota of extenuating circumstance for those who have passed judgment on the play, is that, in the final analysis, the basic secret of the Merry Wives of Windsor is that it makes Queen Elizabeth the butt of a joke. This joke parallels the jokes played by the Merry wives on Falstaff (personification of the bloated arrogance of privilege and title).  But since the central secret of the play is that it is a joke played by Bacon on the Queen it makes the highest title of all the butt of a joke.  With this theme of showing titles of honor as objectively meriting being the butt of a joke, it follows that the play cannot escape having some air of triviality.

Was the joke on Queen Elizabeth really a joke?  There is an old riddle that asks the question - if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  If you play a joke on someone, and neither that person, nor anyone else is aware of the joke, is it really a joke?  Apparently it was to Francis Bacon.  With his mind, that was so far beyond that of anyone else of his age, or of any age, he was accustomed to having his gems 'of purest ray serene' lie buried unseen in the 'dark unfathom'd caves of ocean'. The joke itself was enough for him, even if it had no audience. Maybe, he would even have been content to wait 400 years for the punch line of the joke to be heard. Who knows? 

If we want to know the secrets of the play, we must use the AAE approach: (A)ssemble the evidence; (A)nalyze the evidence; (E)valuate the evidence. Only by doing this can we drag the secrets that have been concealed for so long out into the light. Let's go back then to the first appearance of the play. This was 1602 in a quarto edition. It had the following title page:

 

                       

 

The top of page two was as follows:

                       

 

There are two significant features in the above graphics.  One is the light A, dark A device. In my three part article on "Francis Bacon and the Secret of the Ornamental Devices" I demonstrated Bacon used this device to mark works that he had published.  Although this alone is not proof that he wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor, when added to the other evidence of his authorship of the 'Shakespeare' works, plus the internal evidence in the play demonstrating that he was the author, the matter rises to a "case closed" level.

                      By Order of the Queen

The tradition that the play was written at the command of the Queen did not surface until 100 years after the play was first published in 1602.  In 1702 in his prefactory epistle to The Comical Gallant: or the Amours of Sir John Falstaffe (his unsuccessful adaptation of the Merry Wives of Windsor) John Dennis wrote that the original play:

 'pleasd one of the greatest Queens that ever was in the World… This Comedy was written at her Command, and by her direction, and she was so eager to see it Acted,  that she commanded it be  finished in fourteen days…'. 

In 1709 Rowe added to the story:

'she was so well pleas'd with that admirable Character of Falstaff, in the two Parts of Henry the Fourth, that she commanded him to  continue it for one Play more, and to shew him in Love.'

At first glance it would seem that a tradition which first saw light more than a century after the writing of the play is fairly tenuous. But we have to add to this evidence the information that appeared on the title-page of the play when it was first published:

"As it hath bene diuers times Acted by the right Honorable My Lord Chamberlaines seruants.  Both before her maiestie, and else-where"

Furthermore, in addition to this evidence of a connection of the play with Queen Elizabeth, the play is set in Windsor, home of Windsor Castle, and home to the sovereigns of England since the days of the Norman Conquest some 500 years before the play first appear.  Windsor Castle first existed as a Norman stronghold built of earth and timber by the forces of William the Conqueror to control the country after his invasion in 1066. Windsor was the place where the Order of The Garter was Founded.  Moreover, the play is intimately connected with the Order of the Garter, the most prestigious title in the honors system of the sovereign of England, and the order closely associated in her day with Queen Elizabeth - exactly what might be expected if the play was written to entertain her.

The fairy blessing bestowed on Windsor Castle in Act 5 was unquestionably intended to celebrate the famous Order of the Garter.  And the business about the three German horse thieves and their Duke (4,3,5), which makes little sense in the play as it stands, can be explained as an in-group joke on Frederick of Wurtemburg, Count Mompelgard, a German nobleman obsessively intent on joining the Garter.  He was the object of much anti-German scorn. His name, Mompelgard, seems to be scrambled into "garmombles" in the play. The 1602 quarto edition of the play was very short, and there is evidence that it was hastily written.  This also ties in with the tradition that the play was written in a period of 14 days at the command of Queen Elizabeth. So, although the tradition of Queen Elizabeth's connection with the play only surfaced 100 years later, the evidence clearly supports the tradition.

            The 1619 and 1623 Printings of the Play

In 1619 The Merry Wives of Windsor was printed in a quarto edition that was virtually unchanged from the 1602 quarto edition, however, when the play appeared in the First Folio edition of The Collected Works of William Shakespeare in 1623 it had been substantially rewritten and was almost twice the length of the 1602 and 1619 quartos.  There a story here for anyone who can read between the lines.  Most of the comedies that were included in the First Folio were printed around the last part of 1621. We know this from the investigations of the printing history of the 1623 First Folio.  Although there is some dispute about exactly when printing began, the First Folio was clearly expected to be on the market by mid-1622. The principal center of the European book-trade was the fair held every spring and autumn in Frankfurt.  A bi-annual advertisement known as the Mess-Katalog was published in conjunction with the fair. The "Catalogue of such Bookes as haue beene published, and (by authoritie) printed in English, since the last Vernam Mart, which was in April 1622 till this present October 1622" contains the entry "Playes written by mr William Shakespeare, all in one volume, printed by Isaack Iaggard, in fol." Since the Folio did not actually appear until late in 1623 Charlton Hinman investigated and reconstructed the events in the Jaggard printing-house.  He demonstrated that most of the comedies were printed late in 1621 or early in 1622, after which work on the Folio was suspended, and the tragedies were not printed until the summer of 1623. 

Since we know most of the comedies were printed in 1621, and the entire collection was printed in 1623, the next question we need answered is when did Jaggard come into possession of all of the plays?  The plays printed by William Jaggard in 1619 were as follows:  

"A most pleasant and excellent conceited comedy, of Sir Iohn Falstaffe, \ and the  merry vviues of VVindsor", by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. [London] : Printed [by William Jaggard] for Arthur Iohnson [i.e. Thomas Pavier], 1619

" A Yorkshire tragedie", by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. [London] : Printed [by William Jaggard] for T[homas] P[avier], 1619

"The chronicle history of Henry the fift", by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. [London] : Printed [by William Jaggard] for T[homas] P[avier], 1619

"A midsommer nights dreame", by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. [London]:Printed by Iames Roberts [i.e. William Jaggard for T. Pavier], 1619

"The excellent history of the merchant of Venice", by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. London : Printed by I. Roberts [i.e. by William Jaggard for Thomas Pavier], 1619 

"The vvhole contention betvveene the tvvo famous houses, Lancaster and Yorke", by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Printed at London : [By William Jaggard] for T[homas] P[avier], 1619 

In their "Epistle Dedicatorie" to the First Folio, John Heminge and Henry Condell  said that it was their province to gather the works and asked that the reader not envy them "the office of their care, and paine, to have collected" the works.  Since the collected plays were printed by the Jaggard firm, and since the plays printed by Jaggard in 1619 included all three types Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies,  it is very plausible to conclude that after collecting the plays Heminge and Condell had given all the plays to Jaggard by time he printed the above quarto editions that appeared in 1619.  This is a more feasible scenario than the assumption that Heminge and Condell doled out portions of the plays to Jaggard over a period of time.  To repeat, since Jaggard printed some of all three types of the plays in 1619, we may safely assume that Heminge and Condell had given everything that was available to Jaggard by the time he printed the six quarto plays in 1619.  There is certainly no reason to think that if Heminge and Condell had a later version of The Merry Wives of Windsor they would have held it back and given it to Jaggard at a later date. 

But, there is something strange about this. Why, at this particular time, did William Jaggard, whose firm later played the principal part in printing the First Folio, print a number of plays for Thomas Pavier?  We don't have far to look to find the answer.  The significant fact is the delay in printing the tragedies and the histories.  There was a reason for this.  There was a problem with printing the complete plays in one work, because some people owned the rights to some of the plays.  Thomas Pavier, for example, owned the rights to several of the histories.  It is very plausible to conclude that Jaggard struck a deal with Pavier.  He would print a collection of the plays for Pavier, including some comedies and tragedies in addition to the histories he printed for Pavier so Pavier could receive the income from the sell of these plays in return for relinquishing his rights to the histories he owned.

But then someone else took a hand in the affair.  On May 3, 1619, the Court of the Stationers' Company had before it a letter from the Lord Chamberlain ordering that in the future "no plays that his majesty's players do play" should be printed without the consent of the King's Men.  The question is, who had the clout to do this?  The answer is obvious.  At the time Francis Bacon was Lord Chancellor, and he was running the kingdom for King James who was away enjoying himself with his favorite, George Villiers, who he had made Duke of Buckingham.  We don't have to guess what they were doing because Ben Jonson depicted their activities in graphic detail.  Declaring to James, at the entry way to Buckingham's new abode, he wrote: "The Master is your Creature, as the Place," and invited the King to take possession of his own: "please you enter Him, and his house, and searche him to the Center."

The injunction from the Lord Chamberlain's men must have been very helpful in surmounting the problem presented by other people owning the rights to some of the plays.  They could no longer profit from the plays to which they owned the rights, and this would have made it much easier to obtain the rights from them.  But then, something very strange happened to The Merry Wives of Windsor in the interval between 1619 and 1621 or 1622 when the comedies were printed for the First Folio, The Merry Wives of Windsor was completely rewritten making it also twice as long as the version that had appeared in 1602 and 1619. 

Of course the orthodox explanation of the earlier abbreviated edition of the play has been that it was an unauthorized version constructed from memory by an actor who performed in the play.  But the counter to this idea is that the earlier version was marked with Bacon's "AA" device.  Therefore, it was an authorized edition.    

This tells us that the version of The Merry Wives of Windsor published in 1619 was the only version that had been written at the time, so the rewritten version was clearly written after 1619, and the obvious author was Francis Bacon.  William Shakespeare of Stratford on Avon is ruled out since he was long dead at the time.  But if Francis Bacon rewrote the play during that time period when he was extremely busy with affairs of state he must have had a good reason.  So the next question is why was it rewritten?       

        The 1623 Rewrite The Episode With Young Will 

A curious feature of the rewrite in the First Folio version of the play, is the scene, in Act IV scene I, where young William is trying to learn his Latin. The scene has no bearing on the plot whatsoever, and on the surface, the inclusion of the scene in the play (a scene that was absent from the earlier edition) seems completely meaningless and gratuitous.  Critics have repeatedly tried to explain why this scene, that is entirely irrelevant to the plot, was included in the play, but they have failed to come up with any plausible reason why it was put into the play at all.

The Welsh Parson, Sir Hugh Evans, Mistress Quickly, Mistress Anne Page, and her young son William appear.  William is trying to learn his Latin. Sir Hugh begins to question William:

Evans.  And what is 'a stone' William?
William. A pebble.
Evans. No, it is lapis.  I pray you remember in your prain.
William. Lapis.
Evans. That is a good William.  What is he, William, that does lend articles?
William. Articles are borrowed of the pronoun, and be thus declined: Singulariter,Nominative, hic, haec, hoc.
Evans. Nominativo, high, hag, hog.  Pray you mark: genitive, hujus. Well, what is your accusative case?
William. Accusativo, hinc.
Evans. I pray you, have your remembrance, child: accusative, hung, hang, hog.
Quickly. "Hang-hog: is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.

From a Baconian viewpoint (and what other sane viewpoint is there?) the reason for the inclusion of the scene in the rewritten version of the play makes all kind of sense.  In addition, this also tells us why the scene was not included when Queen Elizabeth was alive.  In his Apohthegms, Bacon included the following story, which no doubt, was familiar to Queen Elizabeth:

"Sir Nicholas Bacon being appointed a judge for the northern circuit, and having brought his trials that came before him to such a pass, as  the passing of sentence on malefactors, he was by one of the malefactors  mightily importuned for to save his life; which, when nothing that he said  did avail, he at length desired his mercy on account of kindred.  'Prithee,' said my lord judge, 'how came that in?' ;Why, if it please you, my lord, your name is Bacon, and mine is Hog, and in all ages Hog and Bacon have been so near kindred, that they are not to be separated.' 'Ay, but,' replied judge Bacon, 'you and I cannotbe kindred, except you be  hanged; for Hog is not Bacon until it be well hanged.'"

This allusion clearly points to Bacon. If it had been included while Queen Elizabeth was alive she would have picked up on it in a New York minute. This tells us that (despite the evidence that she suspected he was the author) Queen Elizabeth did not really know that Bacon was the author of the plays. Moreover, by showing young William trying to learn his Latin, Bacon links the passage to Ben Jonson's dedicatory verse at the beginning of the First Folio where Jonson says of Shakespeare: "And though thou hadst small Latin, and lesse Greeke".  Add this to the fact that the original edition of the play was marked with Bacon's "AA" device and the evidence of his authorship is strongly supported.

Another point that would exclude Willy Shakspere as the playwright is made by Edward D. Johnson in his Bacon-Shakespeare coinicidence book stating that :

" in the play "Merry Wives of Windsor" there's a character Dr. Caius, who is a physician. He came from abroad, and was extremely quarrelsome and hated Welshmen.There was actually a Dr. Caius, a professor at Cambridge, who, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, was a physician, came from abroad, was extremely quarelsome, and hated Welshmen.Is this a coincidence? The real Dr. Caius of Cambridge died in 1573, when Will Shakesper was nine years old, so he could not have known the Doctor, and yet the characters of Dr. Caius in "The Merry Wives" and the real Dr. Caius are identical. It must be remembered that Francis Bacon entered Cambridge University during the year in which Dr. Caius died.
Is it a coincidence that the real Dr. Caius of Cambridge, whose exploits would be known to Francis Bacon as a student at Cambridge, is ridiculed under his own name in "The Merry Wives of Windsor?" The peculiarities of Dr. Caius could hardly have been known beyond university circles, as there were no newspapers in those days, and there is no evidence that Will Shakesper had ever been to Cambridge or knew anyone there.

 

                The Face Looking Toward the Past

In the face in the play that looks toward the past, Bacon examines the origin of The Order of the Garter.  This is where he makes Queen Elizabeth the butt of a joke. The Order of the Garter was the prize of her honors system, the jewel in her royal crown.  It was the best she had to offer reserved for those at the pinnacle of Elizabethan society, or for foreign kings and dignitaries.  Investiture into the order was celebrated with pomp and ceremony.  It was an elitist affair, far, far removed from those despised ones at the lowest end of society witches.

Elizabeth had passed a stringent stature in 1562 recognizing witchcraft as a crime of the most despicable nature, subject to the most stringent punishment. This might have been a case of 'me thinks the lady doth protest too much'.  For she may have been closer to the witches than was apparent on the surface.  In any case, in the play Bacon links The Order of the Garter with witches and witchcraft, and implies this is where it had its origin.  One of the persistent theories about The Merry Wives of Windsor is that the play was first performed at the ceremonies of The Order of the Garter. The situation would, no doubt, have appealed to Bacon's irrepressible sense of humor. 

Ben Jonson, who knew Bacon well, said,

"His language was nobly censorious when he could pass by a jest."

We see many examples of his sense of humor in cameo glimpses that have survived from his personal life.  Bacon is with a group of his friends in 1588 when the queen goes from Temple-bar along Fleet street.  The lawyers are ranked on one side of the street, and the companies of the city on the other side. Bacon quips to a lawyer friend,

"Look at the courtiers; if they bow first to the citizens, they are in debt; but if first to us, they are in law."

Bacon's friend, the Earl of Arundel, was a great collector of art.  A number of his friends, art lovers and intelligentsia, were invited to view his latest acquisition: a large number of nude statues he had purchased that were the work of famous sculptors.  Bacon contrived to be the last to arrive, so that when he got there the others were already circulating among the statues, commenting with proper respect on the rare objects of arts the Earl has acquired.  Bacon arrived, and stopped in the door, assuming an expression of amazement while he waited for everyone to be aware of his presence.  Then he said, in awed tones, "The Resurrection!"

No doubt Bacon was present at the first performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor, and no doubt he enjoyed it just as much as the rest of the audience, but for a different reason.

There is an interesting story about the founding of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.  According to the story, King Edward III, while dancing with the young Countess of Salisbury during a ball at Windsor Castle, saw her drop her blue garter and immediately stooped to pick it up. Dancers nearby, were quick to jump to conclusions and looked at the couple with knowing smiles. The King was angered by his subjects' base assumptions which could discredit the reputation of the innocent girl. Turning to face them all, he put it on his own leg, and said, "Honi soit qui mal y pense!" - Shame to him you thinks evil of it.  The king then and there founded The Order of the Garter with twenty-six knights in honor of the event. and adopted "Honi soit qui mal y pense!" as the motto of the order.

In her book, "The God of the Witches", Margaret Murray notes that witches covens always consisted of thirteen people, and that the garter was a very important insignia of rank among witches, which had particular significance in the legend of the origin of The Order of The Garter.  She says:

"The confusion of the Countess was not from the shock to her modesty it took more than a dropped garter to shock  a lady of the fourteenth century but the possession of that garter proved that she was not only a member of the Old Region, but that she held the highest place in it.  She  therefore stood in imminent danger from the Church which had already started its career of persecution.  The King's  quickness and presence of mind in donning the garter might have saved the immediate situation, but the action does not explain his words nor the foundation of the commemorative Order.  If, however, the garter was the insignia of the chieftainship of the Old Religion, he thereby placed himself in the position of the Incarnate God in the eyes of his Pagan subjects.  And it is noteworthy that he swiftly followed up the action by the foundation of anorder of twelve knights for the King and twelve for the Prince of Wales, twenty-six members in all, in other words two covens."  

This connection with witches and witchcraft is not obvious on the surface in the quarto version of the play .  It is true that one end of the secret thread is exposed.  There are references to a witch in the play.  The witch is the aunt of Mistress Ford's maid the fat witch of Brainford.  And the thread can be traced further.  We must not forget that Falstaff is a knight.  His title represented the low end of the chivalry honors system. The high end, the highest honor to which any knight could attain, was The Order of The Garter. So when we see, in one episode in the play the knight, Falstaff, dressed as a witch,  this is a curious circumstance, and any way you slice it an allusion that connects knighthood with witches.

The Merry Wives of Windsor is in marked contrast to the usual world of the Comedies.  They depict never-never lands like the dreamy Illyria, the literary Forest of Arden or Ardennes, the moon drenched landscape of The Dream.  But, as Marchette Chute says in her Stories from Shakespeare:

 "The town of Windsor lies next to Windsor Castle, and the play contains an occasional reference to court life.  But it is town life that Shakespeare is describing and he knows it intimately, from the Garter Inn near Peascod Street to the fields near the river Thames where the women of Windsor take their washing. Shakespeare seldom uses a realistic background, but in this play he is accurate as a photograph."

One aspect of this is that since Bacon had to bring characters from his history plays into a comedy, he retained the characteristic of a history with his realistic background, and linking The Order of The Garter with witchcraft also has the character of a history. But the realistic treatment also had the effect of making that strange feature of the play, the complete switch of tone in the last scene of the play, stand out in an even greater contrast to the preceding scenes of the play.  Up to this point we see portrayed a normal, middle class society, in a normal middle class town.  But suddenly we move from day to midnight, from town to forest, from prose to rhyming, chanting poetry that would fit more easily in The Dream than in this play.  Even the stage direction has a seismic shift: 'Enter Evans as a Satyr, Mistress Quickly, as the Queen of Fairies, Pistol as Hobgoblin, Anne Page and the boy as Fairies.  They carry tapers'.

The words spoken by Quickly, pistol, and Evans are totally unlike their speech in their previous appearances in the play.  And pistol was a follower of Falstaff.  Yet here we find him playing a role in the plot of Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page to humiliate Falstaff.  What is going on here? Moreover, Mistress Quickly, formerly portrayed as a blithering old dame, now is a figure of authority who speaks in august tones to the fairies.  All of this is designed to make us question and examine the last scene.

Here again the changes between the quarto version and the Folio version is significant.  In the quarto Mistress Quickly says:

Quic. Away begon, his mind fulfill, And looke that none of you stand still. Some do that thing, some do this, All do something, none amis.

This is rewritten in the Folio version to depict an explicit connection of the scene with the Order of The Garter:

      About, about:
Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out.
Strew good luck, oafs, on every sacred room
That it may stand till the perpetual doom,
In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit,
Worthy the owner, and the owner it.
The several chairs of order look you scour
With juice of balm and every precious flower.
Each fair installment, coat, and sev'ral crest,
With loyal blazon, evermore be blessed.
And nightly, meadow fairies, look you sing.
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring.
Th' expressure that it bears, green let it be,
More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;
And Honi soit qui mal y pense write
In em'rald turfts, flow'rs purple, blue, and white,
Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee-
Fairies use flow'rs for their charactery.
Away, disperse, But till 'tis one o'clock,
Our dance of custom round about the oak
Of Herne the Hunter, let us not forget."

The one theory that solves the perplexities related to the change in tone of the final scene is that these seemingly normal middle class people of this normal middle class town, are actually member of a witches coven.  The Merry Wives in particular are witches.  Something of this nature is indicated in the title of the play.  'Merry' had the connotation of weird, outside of the normal nature of things.  'Mermaids', for example, were originally known as 'Merry Maids'.  

This gathering in the forest, arranged by the Merry Wives, ostensibly for the purpose of playing a humiliating joke on Falstaff is actually a gathering of witches ; a witches Sabbath. This is quite covert in the quarto version, but in the Folio version, rewritten after the death of Elizabeth,  it is made much more overt.  Moreover, in this version, the speech of Mistress Quickly establishes an intimate association of the witches with the Order of The Garter.  Let's take a look at the features of this gathering that identify it as a witches Sabbath.

Ostensibly the fairies referred to above are children dressed up as fairies, but the speech of Mistress Quickly addresses them as if they are real fairies, and just the association with fairies alone would be enough to identify Quickly and her fellow conspirators as witches.  Murray stresses the association of witches with fairies.  In "The God of the Witches" she says:

"In almost every case of so-called witchcraft, from Joan of Arc in 1431 down to the middle or end of the seventeenth century, the most damning evidence against the accused was acquaintance with fairies: proof of such acquaintance meant, with very rare exceptions, condemnation to the stake.  These fairies were not the little gossamer-winged flower-elves of children's tales, but creatures of flesh and blood, who inspired utmost fear and horror among the comfortable burgher folk of the towns, and filled the priests and ministers of the Christian Church with the desire to exterminate them."

Added to this is the fact that the meeting in the forest is at midnight and at an oak tree.  In "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" Charles Mackay says of people accused in France in 1520 of associating with witches:

"Some of the charges were so utterly preposterous that the poor wretches were at once liberated; others met a harder, but the usual fate.  Some of them were accused of having joined the witches' dance at midnight under a blasted oak." 

Moreover, the dance of the witches was a well known feature of their Sabbath., This was the circle dance the same dance as that of the fairies.  Mistress Quickly refers to this dance in her above speech:

Away, disperse, But till 'tis one o'clock,
Our dance of custom round about the oak
Of Herne the Hunter, let us not forget."

Also the oak they meet at is Herne's Oak.  In The God of The Witches Murray Says the Gaulish god of the witches was called Cernunnos by the Romans, but in English Parlance this horned god was called Herne, or more colloquially 'Old Hornie'.  In the quarto version the hunter is referred to as Horne. 

In the humiliation in the forest Falstaff wears horns, putatively the horns of Herne The Hunter, and another allusion connecting knighthood with witches. It may even be that this knight being tricked into wearing the horns through his desire to seduce the wives implies King Edward III through his desire to seduce the young Countess of Salisbury was actually tricked into becoming a member of the witches coven by the young Countess who was a leader of the witches.

In any case, there are a couple of more allusions here.  The obvious, is the idea of the cuckold's horns. The female of some Old World cuckoos lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving them to be cared for by the resident nesters.  This has given the female bird a figurative reputation for unfaithfulness as well.  Hence the term to be cuckolded refers to a man whose wife has committed adultery with some other man. Such a man was said to wear the horns. In the rutting season, one stag may accumulate several females, taking the female away from other stags. Hence the expression 'to wear horns', the man who has been cuckolded figuratively wears horns like the stag whose female has gone over to another stag.  Falstaff had schemed to seduce Mistress Ford, that is he intended to cuckold Mr. Ford, but now Mr Ford taunts him:

 "Now sir, who's a cuckold now?"

But Falstaff wearing horns has another allusion, which is an additional connection with witchcraft.  The other has to with the goddess Diana.  According to the myth, Actaeon, while out hunting, accidentally came upon Diana bathing naked in a secluded pool.  The stunned Actaeon gazed at her but when Diana saw him watching her, she transformed him into a stag.  Then she set his own hounds upon him. They chased and killed him. 

The allusion is relevant because Diana was the goddess of the witches, and their cults have long been recognized as the cult of Diana. Margaret Murray called witchcraft both The Old Religion, and the "Dianic Cult".  There is ample evidence to support her claim. In many of the witch trails the witches were accused of worshiping Diana.

In his book, The World of Witches, Julio Baroja notes that in southern Europe

"There seems to have been a flourishing cult of Diana among European country people in the 5th & 6th Centuries, and she was generally looked upon as a Goddess of the woods and fields, except by those trying to root out the cult, who thought she was a devil".  In 906 AD, Regino of Prum wrote in his instructions to the Bishops of the Kingdoms of Italy, concerning this cult.  Here he states "...they ride at night on certain beasts with Diana, goddess of the pagans, and a great multitude of women, that they cover great distances in the silence of the deepest night, that they obey the orders of the goddess ...by speaking of their visions (they) gain new followers for the Society of Diana..." 

The evidence associating witches with the goddess Diana can be traced down through the centuries: 1006 AD: 19th book of the Decretum  associates the worship of Diana with the common pagan folk.

1280 AD: Diocesan Council of Conserans associates the Witch Cult with the  worship of a Pagan Goddess

1310 AD: Council of Trier associates witches with the goddess Diana.

1313 AD: Giovanni de Matociis writes in his Historiae Imperiales, that many lay  people believe in a nocturnal society headed by a queen they call Diana

1390 AD: A woman was tried by the Milanese Inquisition for belonging to the  "Society of Diana", she confessed to worshipping the "goddess of Night" and  stated that "Diana" bestowed blessings on her

1457 AD: 3 women tried in Bressanone, confess that they belonged to the "Society of Diana".

1526 AD: Judge Paulus Grillandus writes of witches in the town of Benevento  who worship a goddess at the site of an old walnut tree.

1576 AD: Bartolo Spina writes in his Quaestico de Strigibus. listing info gathered from confessions, that witches gather at night to worship "Diana", and have dealings with night spirits.

1647 AD: Peter Pipernus writes in his De Nuce Maga Beneventana & De Effectibus Magicis, of a women named Violanta who confessed to worshipping Diana at the site of an old walnut tree in the town of Benevento.

The reader may ask, if the play deals with the connection of the origin of the Order of The Garter with witchcraft, then why is the other plot in the play about young Anne Page and her three suitors Robert Shallow, the visiting justice of the peace; Doctor Caius, the French physician; and young Master Fenton?  Surely this has no bearing on witchcraft - right?  Wrong!  

Diana is a contraction of 'Dia Anna", i.e. The Goddess Anna.  Diana was one of the virgin goddess.  Therefore, we find a reference to the "pretty virginity" of Anne in the play. Anne is a teenager, and the goddess Diana although seemingly a grown woman, was paradoxically one destined never to reach adulthood she was the eternal teenager.  A curious scene in the play is the one where Slender is talking with Anne and the reference to bears is brought up.  Slender asks, "Why do your dogs bark so?  Be there bears I' the town?"  And Anne answers, "I think there are, sir; I heard them talked of."  Then follows additional reference to bears.  One wonders why these references were inserted into the play.  Especially since the reference to the bear, Sackerson, is to a bear that was famous in Bacon's time, more than a hundred years after the time period of Henry V when Falstaff was supposed to have lived. But these references to bears are very apropos if the character Anne represents Diana.  At her temple at Brauron on the east coast of Attica (Vravrona) and probably also at her sanctuary on the Acropolis in Athens - young pubescent girls from all over Attica took part in the strange ritual of "being a bear".  At the end of their time as a bear, they'd dedicate their toys to Diana, and return home to await marriage, just as Anne was a young girl awaiting marriage at the time. Diana was also the goddess who was closely associated with children, and we see in the scene in the forest that Anne is in charge of the children.  

Her suitors also have relevant allusions.  At the end of the play Anne runs away with Fenton.  The name Fenton means 'settlement on The Fens'.  The Fens is the name by which the largest swamp area in England was known.  This area covered a large part of southern Lincolnshire, almost all of Cambridgeshire and parts of Norfolk and Northamptonshire. The swampy Fens were a natural hideaway for those avoiding the law, since only those knowing the shallow paths between high spots could navigate the territory well.  When the persecution of the witches moved into high gear in "The Burning Times" this was a main area where witches went to escape their persecutors.  It was so well know as a place infested with witches that Scottish prisoners, brought to Norfolk for draining the Fens, stuck holly sprigs (believed to be a protection against witches)around the huts where they slept to keep the witches away.  It wasn't until the 17th century that a Dutch engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, and hundreds of Dutch workers along with the locals, finally succeeded in draining large areas of The Fens so they could be used for farming and grazing.  So the allusion of Anne running away with Fenton at the end of the play would be a very apt allusion to the cult of witches seeking refuge in The Fens.

It is significant also that Doctor Caius, one of the other three suitors of Anne is a French physician.  Not only was France infamous for their persecution of witches, but the Origin of The Order of The Garter has a connection to the war with France that was underway at the time.  "Honi soit qui mal y pense" shame on him who thinks evil of it -  the motto of the order, is in French and, in addition to its other meaning, refers to the king's claim to the French throne, a claim which the Knights of the Garter were created to help prosecute.

As for the last suitor - Robert Shallow, the visiting justice of the peace, this may signify the desire of the Mistress Ford to have her religion united with the authority figures of English law.

I have used Margaret Murray as my principal reference source because, of the sources I have examined, she seems to be the most knowledgeable.  Murray, an Egyptologist, folklorist, and anthropologist, published The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in 1921. In this work, Murray examined the Inquisition documents and argued that Witchcraft could be traced to pre-Christian times and appeared to be the ancient religion of Western Europe. She went on to explain the evidence that Diana, the feminine Roman deity, was worshiped throughout Europe in 'Dianic cults.'  Murray later published The God of the Witches in 1933.

But another aspect of her work requires a quick glance before I relinquish the subject.  In 1954 Murray published The Divine King of England.  In this book she made the claim that most of British royalty have been members of the Dianic Cult.  On the face of it, this claim put Murray in the lunatic fringe, and many scholars have tended to disparage her work.  However, certainly as applies to Queen Elizabeth, he claim is not without support.  There is more than sufficient evidence that witches were followers of Diana, and that witches were closely associated with fairies.  Queen Elizabeth encouraged the formation of a cult around herself, and presided at the head of this cult as Diana. So, she in fact, formed a Dianic cult around herself. Further she is personified, both in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Fairie Queene as queen of the fairies.This puts the whole affair in a new light. Bacon may have designed the play to say, very implicitly in the quarto version, but much more explicit in the Folio version written long after she was dead - not only was your precious Order of The Garter founded in witchcraft, but you yourself are a witch.

                 The Face Looking Toward the Future

Some years ago I discovered evidence in The Tempest of a peculiar design.  I call this the Janus Design.  What is the Janus Design?

Simply this: Each play has two faces. One looks toward the past, the other toward the future. One face looks at the course and progress of some particular aspect of knowledge from the past. The other, looking toward the future contrasts Bacon's method with theirs and shows that his is better by using his discovery device to inquire into the form of a related aspect of knowledge. This design is certainly the work of Francis Bacon, for he describes and states his intent to use it in his "Masculine Birth of Time":

"Nevertheless it is important to understand how the present is like a seer with two faces, one looking toward the future, and the other toward the past. Accordingly I have decided to prepare for your instruction tables of both ages, containingnot only the past course and progress of science, but also anticipations of things to come."

Now, certainly not everyone will agree with my conclusion as to the presence of this design in the plays.  So I thought I would try something different this time.  In other articles I have described how a message I found in The Tempest, and my investigation of this message, led me to believe that Bacon had fashioned the plays with the Janus design in each play.  To review for a moment, the message I found in the First Folio was as follows:

SIT THE DIAL AT NBW, F. BACON, TOBEY  

It was spelled out with the first letters of the respective lines on the first full page of text in the plays:

   

    T     Then Prospero, Mafter of a full poore cell,

   A      And thy no greater Father.

         Mira. More to know

   D      Did neuer medle with my thoughts.

         Pros. 'Tis time

I     I fshould informe thee farther: Lend thy hand

  A    And plucke my Magick garment from me: So,

   L   Lye there my Art: wipe thou thine eyes, haue comfort,

   THE      The direfull fpectacle of the wracke which touch'd

  T    The very vertue of compaffion in thee:

    I     I haue with fuch prouifion in mine ART

   S      So fafely ordered, that there is no foule

   N      No not fo much perdition as an hayre

B     Betid to any creature in the veffell

 W    Which thou heardft cry, which thou faw'st finke: Sit

   F      For thou muft now know farther.                  downe,

        Mira. You haue often

   B      Begun to tell me what I am, but ftopt

A     And left me to a booteleffe inquisition,

    CON    Concluding, ftay, not yet.

        Prof. The howr's now come

   T      The very minute byds thee ope thine eare,

   OBEY    Obey, and be attentiue.

It was obvious that the instruction was to set a compass dial at NBW, and this instruction was signed by Francis Bacon and Tobie Matthew. Since AT in the message was in the 32nd speech from the beginning Of The Tempest, and NBW was the 32nd direction on a compass beginning from the obvious starting point of NORTH, it was easy to deduce that there was a correlation between the number of speeches and the compass directions. Furthermore, the 129th speech from the beginning of the play has the instruction: NOVATUS (Latin for it begins again) spelled out with the beginning letters of the speech and the "it begins again" instruction was repeated in the text:

           S   Some God O' the island, sitting on a bank,

             VVeeping againe the King my Fathers wracke,

           T   This Musick crept by me upon the waters,

           A   Allaying both their fury, and my passion

           V   VVith it's sweet ayre: thence I have follow'd it

           O   Or it hath drawn me rather; but 'tis gone.

           N   No, it begins againe.

(In Elizabethan times W's were often composed of two V's, and U's and V's were interchangeable.) The message is also repeated in the text of the speech. We know Bacon described the use four tables in the operation of his Discovery Machine:

1.  The Table of Presence
2.  The Table of Absence
3.  The Table of Variance or Degrees
4.  The Table of Exclusion

So, based on the above, and additional evidence I have set out in other articles, I concluded that Bacon constructed the plays as models of the operation of his discovery machine, with one face looking toward the past, and the other toward the future. One face looking at the course and progress of some particular aspect of knowledge from the past. The other, looking toward the future and contrasting Bacon's method with theirs, and showing his is better by using his discovery device to inquire into the form of a related aspect of knowledge.

Again, according to the evidence I found in The Tempest, these tables are coordinated with the speeches in the plays:

1.   Speeches 1-32: table 1
2.   Speeches 33-64: table 2
3.   Speeches 65-97: table 3
4.   Speeches 98-128: table 4

Therefore, the nature that is investigated in the face looking toward the future in each play should be in the first 32 speeches.  So let's take a look at the first 32 speeches in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

SHALLOW.  Sir Hugh, persuade me not: I will make a Star Chamber matter of it. If he were twenty Sir John Falstaffs he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, Esquire.

SLENDER.  In the county of Gloucester, Justice of Peace and Coram.

SHALLOW.  Ay, cousin Slender, and Custalorum.

SLENDER.  Ay, and Ratolorum too; and a gentleman born, Master Parson, Who writes himself Armigero, in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation Armigero!

SHALLOW.  Ay, that I do, and have done any time these three hundred years.

SLENDER.  All his successors gone before him hath done't, and all his ancestors that come after him may.  They may give the dozen white luces in their coat.

SHALLOW.  It is an old coat.         

EVANS.  The dozen white louses do become an old coat well.  It agrees well, passant; it is a familiar beast to man, and signifies love.

SHALLOW.  The luce is the fresh fish.  The salt fish is an old coat.

SLENDER.  I may quarter, coz?

SHALLOW.  You may, by marrying.

EVANS.  It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.

SHALLOW.  Not a whit.

EVANS.  Yes, py'r Lady. If he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my simple conjectures.  But that is all one.  If Sir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the Chuch, and will be glad to do my benevolence to make atonements and compromises between you.

SHALLOW.  The Council shall hear it.  It is a riot.

EVANS.  It is not meet the Council hear a riot.  There is no fear of Got in a riot.  The Council, look you, shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear a riot.  Take your vizaments in that.

SHALLOW.  Ha! O' my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.

EVANS.  It is petter that friends is the sword, and end it and there is also another device in my prain, which peradventure prings goot discretions with it.  There is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master George Page, which is pretty virginity. 

SLENDER.  Mistress Anne Page?  She had brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.

EVANS.  It is that fery person for all the 'orld, as just you will desire. And seven hundred pounds of moneys, and gold and silver, is her grandsire, upon his death's bed Got deliver to a joyful resurrections give, when she is able to overtake seventeen years old.  It were a goot motion if we leave our pribbles and prabbles and desire a marriage between Master Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.

SLENDER.  Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?

EVANS.  Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.

SHALLOW.  I know the young gentlewoman. She has good gifts.

EVANS.  Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is goot gifts.

SHALLOW.  Well, let us see honest Master Page.  Is Falstaff there?

EVANS.  Shall I tell you a lie?  I do despise a liar as I do depise one that is false, or as I despise one that is not true.  The knight Sir John is there' and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers.  I will pear the door for Master Page [Knocks.] What ho! Got pless your house here.  PAGE.  [Within] Who's there?

EVANS.  Here is Got's pleasing, and your friend, and Justice Shallow; and here young Master Slender, that peradventures shall tell you another tale, if matters grow to your likings.

PAGE.  I am glad to see your worships well.  I thank you for my venison, Master Shallow.

SHALLOW.  Master Page, I am glad to see you.  Much good do it your good heart!  I wished your venison better it was ill killed.  How doth good Mistress Page?  And I thank you always with my heart, la; with my heart.

PAGE.  Sir, I thank you.

SHALLOW.  Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.

The Ellery Queen mystery novels crafted a certain degree of appeal to  readers by presenting all the facts to the reader that the detective knew and then stopping most of the novels at a certain point to issue a formal "Challenge to the Reader" to solve the puzzle ahead of Ellery.  So, I thought I would try the device in this article.  At this point the facts have been presented.  You know as much as I know.  We are on an equal footing the old level playing field.  The challenge is to determine the nature whose form is to be determined through the inquiry operation of Bacon's discovery device.  Actually I have made it more than easy for you because I have already given the answer earlier in this article.  But come, Watson, the game is afoot.  I have laid it all out for you. Can you solve the mystery?  What is the theme of the 32 speeches above?

 Isn't it apparent?  It is all about social status, titles of honor, and the consideration due these people.  What rankles with Shallow is that Sir John Falstaff, who has committed offenses against him is, although indigent, theoretically above him on the social scale. He is a knight while Shallow is a mere Esquire, and a mere provincial Justice of the Peace, however time-honored the position.  But Shallow makes the most of the title he has.  He wants it understood that he is not just anyone, he is Robert Shallow, Esquire, and he resents the offense to the dignity of his own title.  His kinsman, Slender supports him.  Shallow, he proclaims, writes himself Armigero, in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation Armigero!"   

Esquire was originally the title of the attendant on a knight, and as such, ranked immediately below the knight bachelor his office being regarded as the apprentice stage of knighthood.  In the later middle ages Esquire (armiger) was the customary description of holders of knight's fees who had not taken up their knighthood. In time its original significance was lost sight of, and it came to be a title of honor, implying a rank between that of knight and valet or gentleman.

The next 32 speeches (speeches 33 through 64) are as follows:

Page. I am glad to see you, good Master Slender

Slender. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard it was outrun on Cotsall.

Page.  It could not be judged, sir.

Slender.  You'll not confess, you'll not confess.

Shallow.  That he will not 'tis your fault, 'tis your fault.  'Tis a good dog.

Page. A cur sir.

Shallow. Sir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog. Can there be more said?  He is good and fair.  Is Sir John Falstaff here?

Page. Sir, he is within.  And I would I could do a good office between you.

Evans.  It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.

Shallow.  He hath wronged me, Master Page.

Page.  Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.

Shallow.  If it be confessed, it is not redressed.  Is not that so, Master Page?  He hath wronged me; indeed, he hath.  At a word, he hath, believe me.  Robert Shallow, Esquire, saith he is wronged.

Page.  Here comes Sir John.

 [Enter Sir John, Falstaff, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol]

Falstaff.  Now, Master Shallow, you'ss complain of me to the King?

Shallow.  Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my lodge.

Falstaff.  But not kissed your keeper's daughter?

Shallow.  Tut, a pin!  This shall be answered.

Falstaff.  I will answer it straight I have done all this.  That is now answered.

Shallow.  The Council shall know this.

Falstaff.  'Twere better for you if it were known in counse;: you'll be laughed at.

Evans.  Pauca verba, Sir John; good worts.

Falstaff.  Good worts? good cabbage!  Slender, I broke your head.  What matter have you against me?

Slender.  Marry Sir, I have matter in my head against you against you, and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph, Nym and pistol.

Bardolph.  You Banbury cheese!

Slender.  Ay, it is no matter.

Pistol.  How now, Mephostophilus!

Slender.  Ay, it is no matter.

Nym.  Slice, I say!  Pauca, pauca.  Slice!  that's my humor.

Slender.  Where's Simple, my man?  Can you tell, counsin?

Evens.  Peace, I pray you.  Now let us understand; that is Master Page, fidelicet, Master Page; and there is myself, fidelicet, myself; and the three party is, lastly and finally, mine host of the Garter.

Page.  We three to hear it and end it between them.

Evans.  Fery goot.  I will make a prief of it in my notebook, and we will afterwards 'ork upon the cause with as great discreetly as we can.

In the second group of 32 speeches the emphasis on titles is absent.  Thus we can conclude that the subject of investigation is titles of honors.  But there is something else in these speeches that needs to be examined. In, 'Shakespeare's Lives' Samuel Schoenbaum, mouthpiece for the Stratfordian masses, (what makes Sammy run on?) informs us that the above material from The Merry Wives of Windsor alludes to the tradition pertaining to the poaching of the deer of Sir Thomas Lucy, a country justice of the peace, by William Shakespeare of Stratford on Avon.

He points out that the Lucys of Charlecote had adopted the fish, the luce, as their heraldic device.  They bore the arms Vair, three luces hauriant argent, says Schoenbaum, and on a Lucy tomb at Warwick the three luces were repeated four times thus providing the dozen to which Slender refers. Schoenbaum, and the Stratfordians, as self satisfied as a clam at high tide (but without the clam's ability to distinguish between high and low tide) take this as weighty evidence for the Stratfordians authorship of the plays.

 What the Stratfordians can't seem to grasp, is the illogicality of the idea that, if the Stratford man had been the author of the plays, he would have wanted to broadcast his deer poaching activities, and would have wanted to depict himself as a thoroughly disreputable character and the buffoonish butt of a series of jokes.  The connection of the allusion depicted here with the Stratford man is beyond quibble, but it begs a question.  Why is the Stratford man depicted as Falstaff?

We don't have to look far for the answer.  Bacon is dealing in the play with the subject of titles.  And throughout the play he makes these titles the butt of a joke.  The Stratford man is made the butt of a joke by depicting him as Falstaff. (false-spear) Moreover, the depiction takes place in the Table of Absence.  He is saying quite plainly that the 'Shake-speare title', i.e., the title of author of the play, is absent from the Stratford man.  

As for the face looking toward the future, Bacon uses the figure of Falstaff to depict an allegory of the holders of the title of knight.  As he says in his letter to Robert Cecil, knighthood had become almost a "prostituted title".  He depicts what it has become in his portrayal of Falstaff, and shows what the holders of the title objectively merit in the humiliations he depicts Falstaff bringing on himself.  Falstaff is first thrown out with the dirty laundry into the river, the customary place where the laundry is washed, an allusion to the need to cleanse the soiled title of knighthood.  Then Falstaff is dressed as a witch, alluding to the association of knighthood with witchcraft.  Lastly Falstaff is made a part of a witch's Sabbath, another allusion to the connection of knighthood with witches.  In all three Falstaff is humiliated and made the butt of a joke which seems to be what Bacon depicts as the form of what is objectively due to social status, titles of honor, and the consideration owed to those who assert for themselves the arrogance of privilege and title.    

*****

 

see : The Bacon-Shakespeare Essays by Mather Walker