Edmund Spenser

The Man on the Stair

Monument to Spenser in Westminster Abbey as in the Works, 1679 Edition


November 2000


Almost everything we know about Edmund Spenser comes from his own writings. We know only what he tells us. When we first encounter him (in the Immerito/Harvey letters published in 1579) he is concealed behind his "Immerito" mask. Moreover, Harvey refers, in these letters, to Immerito's "vowed and long experimented secrecie." In view of this, and the lack of historical data, it is odd scholars have never considered the idea that "Edmund Spenser" might also be a mask. State papers record a Spenser in the service of Leicester. This Spenser has been accepted as Edmund Spenser, author of the Spenser works. But this Spenser almost immediately after our first record of him (in 1580) accompanies Lord Grey de Wilton, to Ireland as a secretary, and remains there until shortly before his death in 1598. This is very suspicious. Spenser's absence from the London scene is most convenient. The Spenser works do not appear until Spenser is safely tucked away in a remote area of Ireland. And interestingly enough the very area in Ireland that Spenser had gone to is the area the author of the works that appear under the Spenser name is least familiar with. Parker Woodward says:

"When the `poet' wrote about the Irish rivers, as when he wrote concerning the English rivers, he was accurate. His information was probably founded upon Holinshed. But when he dealt with the neighbourhood of Kilcolman Castle, as to which no full information would be available in England, he blundered sadly.Dr. Grosart, who visited the district, reported that the fields and hills were commonplace and unpicturesque. The `Mulla' was five miles distant, the correct name being `Awbeg.'

There was no mountain of Mole, but some hills called the Ballyhowra were five miles in another direction. For the river `Allo' we were to read Blackwater, and for Arlo Hill we were to read Harlow, a fastness in the Galtee Mountains, frequented by the Irish insurgents, and often named in contemporary State records. The poet, if the Irish official, could certainly have described his own residence and district."

The "Spenser" works are as follows:

1579 - The Shepheardes Calender - unsigned but with a dedicatory verse by Immerito
1590 - The Faerie Queen - First Part has a letter to Raleigh signed by Ed. Spenser
1591 - Complaints - by Ed. Sp.


The Ruins of Time
The Tears of the Muses
Virgils Gnat
Mother Hubberds Tale
Ruins of Rome: by Bellay
Muiopotmos or The Fate of the Butterfly
Visions of the World's Vanity
The Visions of Bellay
The Visions of Petrarch
1591 - Prosopopoia or Mother Hubberds Tale - by Ed. Sp.
1591 - Daphnaida - by Ed. Sp.
1595 - Colin Clouts Come Home Againe - by Ed. Spencer
1595 - Astrophel
1595 - AMORETTI and Epithalamion - by Edmunde Spenser
1596 - Four Hymns - made by Edm. Spenser
1596 - Prothalamion - by Edm. Spenser
1596 - The Faerie Queene -
1598 - A View of the Present State of Ireland
1611 - Collected Works - Edm. Spenser

As far as official records that connect the man in Ireland with the authorship of these works there ain't no such animal. And there is not a shred of evidence for the pet theory of the orthodoxia that Spenser returned to England in 1590 to prepare the Faerie Queene manuscript for publication. Even more than William Shakespere of Stratford on Avon, Edmund Spenser matches the verse:

Yesterday as I was going up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today,
I wish to hell he'd go away!

"Immerito" makes his appearance soon after Francis Bacon returned from France in 1579. The information about "Immerito" fits Bacon like a fingerprint. He appears in a pamphlet, published in June of 1580 titled, `Three Proper Witty Familiar Letters lately passed between two University Men touching the Earthquake in April last and our English Reformed Versifying." Later in the same year another pamphlet appeared titled,

"Two other very Commendable Letters of the same Men's Writing, both touching the foresaid Artificial Versifying and certain other particulars more lately delivered unto the Printer."

This correspondence between Immerito and G.H. (Gabriel Harvey), is part of a larger correspondence that has been preserved in Harvey's letter-book, and has been reprinted by the Camden Society.

Works by Immerito's mentioned in the letters are as follows:

1. my Slomber
2. Dreame
3. Epithalamion Thamesis
4. Shepherd's Calendar
5. Stemmata Dudleiana
6. Nine English comedies
7. Dying Pelican
8. Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene and the "Epithalamion" later appeared under the name of Spenser. Although the Shepherd's Calendar was first published under the name of "Immerito", it was included in the Collected works of Spenser published in 1611. "my Slomber" and "Dreames" are apparently the same work. In one of the letters Harvey says,

"I am void of judgment if your Nine Commedies, whereunto in imitation of Herodotus, you give the name of the Nine Muses (and in one mans fancy not unworthily) come not nearer Ariostoes Comedies, either for the fineness of plausible elocution, or the rareness of poetical invention, that Elvish Queene doth to his Orlando Furioso.."

I think the "Elvish Queene" probably refers to the "Dream", and this was the work later published as "A Midsummer Nights Dream" under the name of Shakespeare.

The following information appears in the "Proper Familiar Witty Letters". Harvey says:

"You suppose most of these bodily and sensual pleasures are to be abandoned as unlawful, and the inward, contemplative delights of the mind, more zealously to be embraced as most commendable. Good Lord; you, A GENTLEMEN, A COURTIER, A YOUTH, and go about to revive so old, and stale and bookish opinion, dead and buried many hundred years before you or I knew whether there were any world or no!"

In another of Harvey's letters is the passage:

"So trew a gallant in the Court, SO TOWARD A LAWYER and so witty a gentleman."

And in one of the Immerito letters is the remark:

"Your desire to hear of my late being with her Majesty must die of itself."

We know that when Francis Bacon returned from France in 1579 He was a courtier and a lawyer, and he had access to the Queen. One particular record of his customary access to the Queen that has piqued the interest of the Baconians refers to a sonnet Bacon presented to the Queen. Bacon recounted the incident as follows:

"Being about the middle of Michaelmas term her Majesty had a purpose to dine at my lodge at Twickenham Park, at which time I had (although I profess not to be a poet) prepared a sonnet directly tending and alluding to draw on her Majesty's reconcilement to my Lord [Essex], which I remember also I showed to a great person, and one of my Lord's nearest friends, who commended it."

Baconians have noted that the speech of Portia in "The Merchant of Venice" could easily be amended to a sonnet form, and would met the tenor of the sonnet Bacon describes very well:

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle raine from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest,
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes,
`Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it become
The throned Monarch better than his Crowne."

A handsome folio edition of the works of Spenser published in 1679 had a picture of Spenser's tombstone in Westminster Abbey. According to this stone,

"He [Spenser] was born in London in the yeare 1510 and died in the yeare 1596."

This would mean the poems attributed to him which first appeared in the year 1579, began when he was 69 years of age. Spenser's advanced age has some support in a letter written in July of 1580 from Sir William Pelham, Lord Justice of Ireland to Leicester. In his letter he mentions a "Spencer", as a possible candidate to enter the service of Leicester, saying Spencer, who had "long served without any consideration of recompense, and now grown into years, would be glad to taste of her Majesty's bounty." Because the discrepancy between the 1510 birth date, and the information in the Gabriel Harvey/Immerito letters, is so glaring scholars have discarded it and gone with alternate information they have patched together from State papers.

This information has Spenser the son of a journeyman tailor or cloth-maker in London. He attends Merchant Taylors' School in London. Then he goes on in 1569 to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a sizar. Sizars were poor students who received free education, board and lodging in return for acting as servants to the masters and wealthy students.

He is there until 1576 when he finally he obtains his M.A. Although he was at Cambridge at the same time as Francis Bacon and Gabriel Harvey, his college career contrasts sharply with Bacon's. He spends seven years obtaining his degree, while Bacon asks to be removed because the college had nothing left to teach him after a little more than two years at the university.

The discrepancy between the date on Spenser's tombstone and the information in the letters and the works bearing his name was so glaring that in 1778 (when his tablet in Westminster Abbey was restored) the dates were altered to read:

"He was born in London in the yeare 1553 and died in the yeare 1598".

James Phinney Baxter cites a work titled, "History from Marble" by Thomas Dingley whose hobby was copying inscriptions from tombstones. He had copied the inscription on Spenser's tomb in Westminister Abbey and published this in Vol. II, p.139 of his work. His transcript has the 1510 birth date given in the 1679 folio of Spenser's works.

On the other hand the discrepancy between Spenser the sizar and the information in the letters is just as glaring. The idea of someone of the menial rank of a sizar being on intimate terms with the Queen is simply ridiculous. This also conflicts with the terms with which Harvey's addresses Immerito. He uses: `Magnifico Signor Benevolo', `My younge Italianate Seignoir and French Monsieur', `take my leave of your Excellencies feet and betake your gracious Mastershipp', `What tho' Il Magnifico Segnior Immerito Benivolo hath noted this amongst his politic discourses and matters of state and Government', `Illustrious Ango-francitalorum', and `A Hertfordshire gentlemen'.

The first biography on Bacon was written by the Frenchman Ambrose who said he spent time in Italy as well as France. `Hertfordshire gentleman' applied to Bacon since as a boy, he was frequently at St. Albans, Herts. Harvey would have been only about 28 at the time the letters were written and Bacon in his late teens, so the term of `youth' applied by Harvey to Bacon would have also applied. This would not have applied to Spenser the sizar even if we accept the amended birth date because that would have made Spenser about the same age as Harvey. In addition, there is the passage in the letters:

"Foolish is all younkerly learning without a certain manly discipline. As if indeed for the poor boys only, and not much more for well-born, and noble youth, were suited the strictness of that old system of learning and teaching."

This observation would be appropriate from Harvey to Bacon, but a deprecation of the "poor boys" would hardly have been made to a Spenser who was educated at Cambridge as a poor boy.

In the Spenser works a sonnet tells us his mother's name was Elizabeth. He begins his work, "Virgils Gnat" addressed to the Earl of Leicester with the words:

"Wrong'd, yet not daring to expresse my paine,
To you (great lord) the causer of my care,
In Clowdie teares my case I thus complaine
Unto your selfe, that onely priuie are; "

This supports the theories of Baconians who maintain Queen Elizabeth was the mother of Francis Bacon who was born out of wedlock, and that his father was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. In Bacon's prayer written after his fall he asks God to keep him:

"still in Thy fatherly school, not as a bastard but as a child."

And the verse that prefaces the Shepherd's Kalendar seems to hint at this same idea:

"Go, little book, thyself present
As child whose parent is unkent
To him that is the president
Of nobleness and of chivalry.
But if that any ask thy name
Say thou were base begot with shame."

The same idea surfaces again in a letter of Lady Ann Bacon's to her son Anthony.

"This one chiefest counsel, your Christian and natural motherdoth give you"

while later, referring to Francis she says:

"The scope of my so called by him circumstance, which I am sure he must understand, was not to use him as a ward,"

In Harvey's letter book Harvey refers to "a friend of mine that since a certain chance befallen unto him, a secret not to be revealed, calleth himself Immerito." Was that secret not to be revealed the fact that he was the son of Queen Elizabeth?

The title page of the 1611 Collected Works of Spenser, published in London, is very interesting. The left side shows the figure of Leicester with the bear and staff that was the insignia of the Dudleys. The right side shows Queen Elizabeth with the Lion rampant, and the scepter at her side, suspended by a chain that quite as unmistakably identifies her.

Between the two a shield bears a boar, the arms of Bacon. The boar appears again in the oval at the bottom of the title page. It is looking at, one might almost say defiantly, a rosebush in full flower. In connection with Queen Elizabeth at the top the rosebush has to represent the Tudor emblem inherited by Elizabeth from the House of York. A scroll encircles the rose bush with the legend,

"Non Tibi Spiro", "I smell thee not."

Tradition says Leicester actually married Elizabeth after Francis was born, but with the uproar over the suspected murder of his wife, Amy Robsart, this marriage had to be forgotten, and with it any hopes Francis had of being recognized as the prince. With the publication of the Collected Works of Spenser in 1611 Leicester had been dead twenty-three years, and Elizabeth eight. For Francis the hope of future possession of the crown had been swept away forever.

Spenser's poem "The Ruins of Time" is concerned with a long lament over the old city of Verulam, the site of St. Albans, where Francis spent much of his time as a child. Around 1590 Bacon wrote a letter to Fulke Greville. The letter was as follows:

I understand of your paines to have visited me; for which I thank you. My matter is an endless Question. I assure you I had said: Reqiesce anima mea: But now I am otherwise put to my psalter; Nolite confideri. I dare go no farther. Her Majesty had by set speech, more than once, assured me of her intention, to call me to her service; which I could not understand, but of the place, I had been named to. And now, whether Invidus Homo hoc fecit; or whether my Matter must be an Appendix to my Lo: of Essex sute; or whether Her Majesty, pretending to prove my Ability, meaneth but to take advantage of some Errours, which, like enough, at one time or other I may commit; or what it is; but Her Majesty is not ready to dispatch it. And what though the Mr. Of the Rowles, and my Lo: of Essex, and yourself and others, think my case without doubt; yet in the meantime I have a hard condition to stand so, that whatsoever service I do to Her Majesty, it shall be thought to be but servitium viscatum, time-twiggs, and Fetches, to place my self, and I shall have Envy, not thanks. This is a course to quench all good spirits, and to corrupt every Man's Nature: which will I fear, much hurt, her Majesties Service in the end. I have been like a piece of stuff bespoken in the Shopp: And if Her Majesty will not take me, it may be the selling by parcels will be more gainful. For to be, as I told you, like a Child following a Bird, which when he is nearest flyeth away, and lighteth a little before, and then the Child after it again, and so in Infinitum. I am weary of it: As also of wearing my good friends: Of whom Nevertheless, I hope in one course or other gratefully to deserve."

The frustration of this letter is reflected in Spenser's poem in `Mother Hubbard's Tale' published in 1590 (the verse could have had no bearing on Spenser since he was in the wilds of Ireland):

"So pitiful a thing is Suters state,
Most miserable man, whom wicked fate
Hath brought to Court, to sue for had-ywist,
That few have found, and many one hath mist;
Full little knowest thou that hast not tride
What hell it is in suing long to bide;
To loose good days that might be better spent,
To waste long nights in pensive discontent,
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow,
To feed on hope, to pine with fear and sorrow;
To have thy Princes grace, yet want her Peers;
To have thy asking, yet wait many years;
To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares;
To eat thy heart through comfortless despairs;
To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run;
To spend, to give, to want, to be undone.
Unhappy Wight, born to disastrous end,
That doth his life in so long tendance spend."

The description in Bacon's letter of running after the bird again and again has a curious reflection in the description of running after the butterfly in "Coriolanus":

"I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it he let it go again, and after it again, and over and over he comes, and up again, catch'd it again"

Far from describing the senescent old gentleman on the stair (who just isn't there) the information in the letters explicitly describes Francis Bacon. The letters also refer to an Areopagus group consisting of Immerito, Philip Spenser, Edward Dryer, and unnamed others who are seeking to reform the English language. This means, if Bacon were using the assumed name of Immerito, that he must have been closely associated with Philip Sidney. As far as I know no one has ever tried to find this connection. But it exists. In Catherine Drinker Bower's biography of Edward Coke, "The Lion and the Throne" she says,

"Young aristocrats were tutored at home or taken into some great household such as Lord Burghley's, where Francis Bacon was reared, then sent abroad to Italy or France to learn court manners and court ways." In her description of the small group of people at the funeral of Robert Cecil, she adds to this information, "Somewhere walked Sir Francis Bacon, Cecil's nearest cousin, intimate with him since childhood, reared in the same household, schooled by the same tutor."

Even after Francis returned from France following the death of Nicholas Bacon in 1579 he maintained relations with the Cecil family. The detailed account of the Burghley dinner that was spread at Cecil House in Covent Gardens in December 30, 1582 shows Francis Bacon was present as one of the interpreters along with Burghley's son Thomas Cecil.

The importance of this information simply cannot be overstated. At his mansion on the Strand William Cecil maintained what amounted to a school for scions of the ruling class. Moreover, as Master of the Wards he had a number of minors living in his household.

These people constitute the "known associates" of young Francis Bacon, and it is certainly no coincidence that these are the people from whom a number of characters in the Shakespeare Plays were drawn. Bacon not only used existing plots in the Plays, he also used actual people with whom he came in contact for characters.

One ward at Burghley House was Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. De Vere is depicted in the Plays. The plot in "All's Well That Ends Well" centers around events relating to the Earl of Oxford, and his wife, the former Anne Cecil. Another character in the Plays is Robert Cecil. When Francis published his essay "Of Deformity" after Robert Cecil died, John Chamberlain wrote, in one of his gossipy letters to Dudley Carleton,

"Wherein the world takes notice that Sir Francis Bacon points out his late little cousin to the life."

In the essay Bacon said, "all deformed persons are extreme bold." Aubrey notes, in his "Brief Lives" that one of the gallants of Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke was "Crooke-back't Cecill, Earl of Salisbury." Little hunchback Robert, a mere 5' 2" in height, was noted as a womanizer. No doubt he pulled this off by virtue of this extreme boldness. In King Richard III, hunchback Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), was hated by Lady Anne because he had murdered her husband, but won her over through his extreme boldness. Here again Bacon paints his little cousin to the life. He also depicts him in the figure of Iago (see my essay "Shakespeare's Other side of Midnight.") In Hamlet he depicts William Cecil as old Polonius and also depicts his other son Thomas Cecil. These are the facts that fuel the Oxfordian contention that Oxford was the author of the Plays.

The Oxfordians have heeded very well the admonition of Mark Twain,

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."

Their distortion begins at the point where the Plays diverge from Oxford and continue to follow Francis Bacon. But then, why would this bother them? If they can swallow the camel made of Oxford's death in 1604 and the ten Shakespeare Plays written after 1604, a little thing like the facts parting company with their direction, is so much chaff in their wind.

(I have done my part, and my conscience is clear. In a spirit of helpfulness I wrote the Oxford Society but these people are not capable of rational thought. They rejected my help. Rather brusquely, I might add. See if I ever try to help them again!)

The presence of Francis Bacon at Burghley House and the associations he formed there has an important bearing on the "Spenser" puzzle. William Cecil was close to Henry Sidney, Philip Sidney's father. Philip was close to the Cecil household. Although never a formal ward, he spent a great deal of time there. Sir Henry Sidney left the care of his wife and children to Cecil during his absences in Ireland in the years 1565-1571. In 1568 Cecil was already writing of Philip as "my darling Master Philip." While in Shrewsbury School Philip spent Christmas holidays with the Cecils. It is common knowledge Fulke Greville, Philip Sidney's closest friend, was inseparable from him from the time they met as boys until his death. A letter from Greville to Francis Bacon in 1591 indicates Greville and Francis Bacon were close and old friends. Certainly that friendship was formed while young Francis Bacon was growing up in Burghley House, and included Philip Sidney.

Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, was another of the wards. He came to Burghley House in 1577. Essex was very close to Philip Sidney. Sidney wrote sonnets to Essex's sister Penelope. Sidney left his sword to Essex when he died, and later Essex married Sidney's wife in deference to his promise to the dying Sidney to take care of her. We know that by 1591 Bacon was a friend of Essex, having, from all indications, been acquainted with him for some time. It is not known when he first made the acquaintance of Essex. It was probably in 1578. Bacon returned to England from France at that time with a message for Queen Elizabeth and was in England for an extended period, long enough for his portrait to be painted by Nicholas Hilliard. During a portion of this time he was certainly at Burghley house. The fact is Francis Bacon was very much a part of the Philip Sidney circle, and after Sidney's death he was a part of the Essex circle. Further confirmation of this is in Bacon's association with Thomas Phillepes who was Francis Walsingham's right hand man. Sidney was so close to Walsingham (often present in his household) that he married Walsingham's daughter.

The master metaphor Bacon used in his system of knowledge was the Intellectual Globe. This Globe had a special feature. It was a globe of crystal. Bacon said:

"the true rule of a perfect inquiry is, that nothing can be found in the material globe which has not its correspondent in the crystalline globe-the understanding."

and he took pains to point out that the great globe was also viewed as a globe of crystal:

"For so it is expressed in the Scriptures touching the government of God, that this globe, which seemeth to us a dark and shady body, is in the view of God as crystal:
Et in conspectu sedis tanquam mare vitreum simile Crystalla (and before the Throne there was a sea
Of glass, like unto crystal)

And he said in another passage:

"God has framed the mind like a glass, capable of receiving the image of the universe, and desirous to receive it as the eye to receive the light."

What Bacon constantly had in mind when his thoughts turned to his Intellectual Globe was a globe of crystal, that when cleared would reflect in it the visible globe. According to Bacon with the Fall something had gone wrong with this glass. It had become warped, and, in turn, it warped the images it received of the great world:

"The reflexion also from glasses so usually resembled to the imagery of the mind, every man knoweth to receive error and variety both in colour, magnitude, and shape, according to the quality of the glass. But yet no use hath been made of these and many the like observations, to move men to search out and upon search to give true cautions of the native and inherent errors in the mind of man which have coloured and corrupted all his notions and impressions. I do therefore in this enchanted glass find four Idols or false."

It was this same idea that caused Bacon to give his early work, "The Masculine Birth of Time" the subtitle: "Or Three Books on The Interpretation of Nature Book"

I. Polishing and Direction of the Mind Book
II. The Light of Nature or Formula of InterpretationBook
III. Nature illuminated, or the Truth of Things

As the "polishing of the mind" implied, Bacon saw the first work to be that of restoring the globe of crystal to its original state. From that point it could attain a reflection of what actually existed in the great world.

The Harvey/Immerito letters refer to a number of works of Immerito. One of these is "The English Poet" and seems to be the work that appeared anonymously in 1589 as "The Arte of English Poesie". This work was published as an anonymous work, and this continued for 133 years after its first publication. Then, in 1722, a work by Edmund Bolton, probably written in 1620, was published that included a passage airing the old rumor that the "Arte" was the work of one of Queen Elizabeth's gentlemen pensioners- Puttenham. After this the work has always been published under the name of George Puttenham as if this was a fact set in concrete, instead of just an unfounded rumor. This is the kind of thing that occurs when types like the Stratfordians are in charge of things.

"The Arte of English Poesie" is obviously from the hand of Francis Bacon. In it we find the passage:

"I have come to the Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon, & found him sitting in his gallery alone with the works of Quintilian before him."


"Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the great seal, or the now Lord Treasurer of England, and have been conversant with their Speeches made in the Parliament house & Star Chamber. From Whose lips I have seen to proceed more grave and natural eloquence Then from all the orators of Oxford, or Cambridge."

So we know the author had a close and intimate relationship with Sir Nicholas Bacon. The author also introduced many new and unaccustomed words just as did the author of the Shakespeare plays, a trait we know was customary with Bacon. In the work before proceeding to discuss a number of novel words used by him, the author says:

"And peradventure the writer hereof be in that behalfe no lesse faultie than any other, using many strange and unaccustomed wordes and borrowed from other languages."

In another passage the author says:

"And this phantasie may be resembled to a glasse, as hath bene sayd, whereof there be many tempers and the manner of makinges, as the perspectives doe acknowledge, for some be false glasses and shew thinges otherwise than they be in deede, and others right as they be in deede, neither fairer nor fouler, nor greater nor smaller. There be againe of these glasses that shew thinges exceeding faire and comely; others that shew figures very monstruous & ill favored. Even so is the phantasticall part of man (if it be not disordered) a representer of the best, most comely and bewtifull images or apparances of thinges to the soule and according to their very truth. If otherwise, then doth it breede Chimeres & monsters in mans imagination, & not onely in his imaginations, but also in all his ordinarie actions and life which ensues."

Surely no one who has any familiarity with the works of Bacon can fail to see his hand in this unless they are Stratfordians, or idiots (but I repeat myself).

The situation is the same in The Faerie Queen. In "Spenser's Faerie Queene-The World of Glass" Kathleen Williams demonstrates that the authors image of the whole work was that of a glass globe in which was reflected in miniature the image of the great globe. Williams, referring to Northrop Frye's notion of "the emblem-like or pageant-like presentation of abstractions in terms of sense experience" says:

"This kind of allegory does occur in The Faerie Queene, but for particular purposes and as part of a highly complex poetic whole which does not merely translate the abstract into the sensuous but holds a mirror up to nature, reflecting in more intelligible order the life we know. Like the glass sphere in which Britomart sees Artegall truly reflected, it is a little image of the world which shows all things in their true shapes.

It vertue had to shew in perfect sight
What ever thing was in the world contaynd,
Betwixt the lowest earth and hevens hight,
So that it to the looker appertaynd;
What ever foe had wrought, or frend had faynd,
Therein discovered was, ne ought mote pas,
Ne ought in secret from the same remaynd;
Forthy it round and hollow shaped was,
Like to the world it selfe, and seemd a world of glas.
(III, ii, 19)

Even in its unfinished state, The Faerie Queene is as self-sufficient and as self-consistent as Britomart's sphere, shaping within itself the multitudinous things that are `in the world contaynd'".

Alastair Fowler demonstrated that each of the six books of "The Faerie Queene" represented one of the days of the week. In the beginning episode of the work we see an allegory of learning. The Red Cross Knight becomes lost in the forest of the world and meets and gives battle to the dragon of error. The work is concerned with the Advancement of Learning in its first book, precisely as is Bacon's Instauration. It is also a six days work just as is his Instauration. It is set out in two parts of three just as is his Instauration. The theme of the whole is of a glass globe in which is reflected whatever things are `in the world contaynd' as does his Instauration. How can anyone fail to see that it is the work of Bacon?

Moreover, the same "double A" that Bacon used to mark his books headed each of the six books of The Fairy Queen.

In "Resurrecting Marley" I have shown there is strong evidence that Bacon wrote the Marlowe works. These works provide additional evidence that Bacon authored the Spenser works due to parallel passages between the Marlowe and Spenser works. In the following the comparison is between the "Faerie Queene" and "Tamberlaine" :


As when a wearie traveller, that strayes,
By muddy shore of broad seven-mouthed Nile,
Doth meete a cruell craftie crocodile,
Which, in false griefe hyding his harmfull guile,
Doth weepe full sore.


Even as the great Egyptian crocodile
Wanting his prey, with artificial tears
And feigned plaints, his subtle tongue doth file,
To entrap the silly wandering traveller.


Upon the top of all his loftie crest,
A bounch of heares discolourd diversly,
With sprincled pearle and gold full richly drest,
Did shake, and seemed to daunce for jollity;
Like to an almond tree ymounted hye
On top of greene Selinus all alone,
With blossoms brave bedecked daintily;
Whose tender locks do tremble every one
At everie little breath, that under heaven is blowne.


I'll ride in golden armour like the sun
And in my helm a triple plume shall spring
Spangled with diamonds dauncing in the air,
To note the emperor of the the three-fold world;
Like to an almond-tree ymounted high
Upon the lofty and celestial mount
Of ever-greene Selinus, quaintly deck'd
With blooms more white than Erycinta's brows,
Whose tender blossoms tremble every one
At every little breath that thorough heaven is blowne.

In his poems Spenser claims a relation with the family of the Spencers of Althorpe, and dedicates several poems to the daughters of Sir John Spencer, the then head of the family. It is significant that at this time Alderman Spencer's nephew Ed Spencer was one of Anthony Bacon numerous attendants. The testimony of a contemporary writer provides additional evidence that the Fairy Queen was the work of Francis Bacon. This testimony is buried in the context of the testimony by this same writer that Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespeare works.
According to John Marston, Francis Bacon wrote the first and second printed works attributed to William Shakespeare ("Venus and Adonis", and "The Rape of Lucrecre"). Marston alludes to a lawyer who wrote these works, and who he identifies by the phrase "Mediocria Firma", the motto on Bacon's coat of arms. The allusion refers back to a satire of Joseph Hall's.

In 1597 Joseph Hall in his Satires, Book II, p.25 had the following passage:

For shame write better Labeo,
or write none Or better write, or Labeo write alone.
Nay, call the Cynic but a wittie fool,
Thence to obscure his handsome drinking bole;
Because the thirstie swain with hollow hand
Conveyed the streame to weet his drie weasand.
Write they that can, tho they that cannot do;
But who knows that, but they that do not know.

It is known that Labeo was a Roman lawyer. Therefore, the writer referred to is a lawyer. Yet in this particular passage the meaning is not clear and editors have been unable to identify Labeo and the Cynic.

If we anticipate for a moment by allowing what Marston later avers that Francis Bacon was the author of Venus and Adonis, the whole passage becomes clear. Hall is reproving the author for writing in such a erotic strain.

In the Fourth Book, Satire I, the evidence becomes much stronger:

Labeo is whip't and laughs me in the face.
Why? For I smite and hide the galled place,
Gird but the Cynicks Helmet on his head,
Cares he for Talus or his flayle of lead?
Long as the craftie Cuttle lieth sure
In the black cloud of his thick vomiture;
Who list complaine of wronged faith or fame
When he may shift it on to another name?

On the third line is another reference to the Cynic, i.e., the author. From this it is evident Hall is speaking of the "Honourable Order of the Knights of the Helmet". This order was described in those famous Christmas revels at Gray's Inn during the holiday season of 1594/1595 which are recorded in a publication titled "Gesta Grayorum". Bacon was in charge of producing these revels, thus pointing to him as the author of Venus and Adonis.

The concluding lines once more emphasize the fact that he was writing under a pen name.


Hall satirizes Labeo in still another passage from Book VI, Satire I, and shortly after has the line:

While big But Ohs each each stanza can begin,

This is a pointed allusion to Lucrece, where many stanzas commence with "But", or "Oh". Another feature of both Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece is the use of hyphenated words as epithets. This does not escape Hall's satirical comment:

In Epithets to join two words as one,
Forsooth for Adjectives cannot stand alone.

So it is probable Hall recognized Bacon as the author of Lucrece, Venus and Adonis, and of The Fairy Queen, and alluded to him under the name of Labeo and the Cynick.

This identification although probable is still tentative, however, the "Pigmalion's Image" of John Marston published in 1598 has allusions which make a definite identification. Marston says:

So Labeo did complaine his loue was stone,
Obdurate, flinty, so relentless none;
Yet Lynceus knows, that in the end of this
He wrought as strange a metamorphosis.
Ends not my poem thus surprising ill?
Come, come, Augustus crowne my laureat quill.

The first two lines of this passage are an obvious allusion to lines 200, and 201 of Venus and Adonis, since Marston compares the metamorphosis of Pigmalion, as given in his own work, to that of Adonis described in Venus and Adonis.

In Satire I is another covert allusion to an author who `presumst as if thou wert unseene', and in Satire 4, Marston defends various authors whom Hall had attacked, and without actually naming Labeo, both refers to Labeo and identifies him with the following line:

What, not medioca firma from thy spite!
i.e., has not even medioca firma escaped thy spite!

Since these two Latin words are the motto on Bacon's coat of arms and Bacon was a lawyer, there can be no reasonable doubt that Marston was referring to Bacon. From the evidence then, it is probable Hall believed Bacon was the author of Lucrece, Venus and Adonis, and The Faerie Queene. It is definite Marston believed Bacon was the author of these works.

One of the interesting aspects of the Spenser case is the relationship between Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh, and John Dee. The internal evidence in Spenser's writings shows that Spenser and Raleigh were close. In "Shakespeare's Other Side of Midnight" I have shown that all three were close. Bacon (Spenser), Raleigh, and Dee are linked in the 1580's in England. This inevitably points to the subject of the Rosicrucians and the question of Dee, Bacon, and Raleigh's connection with that mysterious Fraternity. In the "Fama", which introduces the Rosicrucians, we are told of three brethren of the fraternity: D, R, and F.B., of whom by 1614, D had died, and only R, and F.B. were still alive. F.B. was described as the Master, painter, and architect of the Fraternity. Furthermore, we know the first name of F.B. was Francis. This information is supplied in 1648 in a book titled "Mathematical Magick" by John Wilkins. Discussing a particular kind of lamp for use underground, Wilkins (referring to the vault described in the Fama Fraternity of the Rosy Cross) said that such a lamp:

"is related to be seen in the sepulchre of Francis Rosicrosse, as is more largely expressed in the Confession of that Fraternity."

With the Rosicrucians the cross of the Templars that was red with the blood of Christ had suffered a sea change into something rich and strange. It was now rose red and was used as an emblem in the cause of the advancement of learning. This connects the Rosicrucian cross to the Red Cross of St. George, the patron saint of England, derived from George of Capodoccia who was famous for his learning. And the red cross of England was associated with a red rose,- the Tudor Rose. There were three definite elements to the Rosicrucian cross-chivalry, Red Cross, and the advancement of learning. The first time these three elements appeared together was in the Faerie Queen in the adventures of the Red Cross Knight.

This knight, along with Una, is proceeding along his way when a sudden tempest arises. Seeking shelter from the tempest, the Red Cross Knight and Una enter, and become lost in, a labyrinthine like wood, which the story tells us is Errors Den. When Red Cross penetrates to the center of the wood he encounters the monster error in battle and discovers her to be a woman above the waist and a serpentine monster below (paralleling Bacon's use of Scylla as a image of scholastic philosophy that was a comely virgin in the upper parts, but was a barking monster in her lower parts).

Alfred Dodd had an entire book titled, "SHAKESPEARE Creator of Freemasonry" in which he pointed out Masonic symbolism in the various plays. Many writers have seen a connection between the Rosicrucians and the Masons. In what may be the first historic reference to the Masons they are equated with the Rosicrucians. In Perth in 1638 the Rosicrosse-Masons sang in their lodges:

We are the Brethren of the Rosie Crosse,
We have the MASON Word and Second Sight

In his book, "The Symbolism of Freemasonry" Albert G. Mackey says the great motto of the Masonic order is "lux e tenebris"-Light out of darkness. With this in mind the words of Raleigh on the scaffold are extremely interesting. They appear to be an affirmation to other members of the fraternity who may have been present of his adherence to the fraternity. Raleigh said:

"I thank God of his infinite goodness that he hath
vouchsafed me to die IN THE LIGHT, in the sight
of so honourable an assembly, and NOT IN DARKNESS."

He addressed this comment to a small group of men, the Earls of Arundale and Northampton, and Viscount who were in Sir Randal Crew's window which was some distance from the scaffold. It seems Raleigh was quite intent on having his words heard for he went on to say:

"I will strain my voice, for I would willingly have your Honours hear me."

The Lords at this address came up upon the scaffold, and Raleigh repeated his words:

"As I said, I thank God heartedly that he hath brought
me INTO THE LIGHT to die, and hath not suffered me
to die IN THE DARK prison of the Tower."

It seems possible, indeed, that Raleigh was both confirming to the other members of the society his adherence, and taunting someone with his adherence to the society at the same time. Years before when Raleigh had been sentenced, George Brooke, brother of Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, had declared just before he was executed as co-conspirator in the plot:

"There is something hidden in all this!"

The Fama Fraternity also says that when the vault was opened the wonderfully preserved body of C.R.C. was found. In his hand was a book called "I" which, next to the Bible, was the greatest treasure of the Rosicrucians, and, at the end of the book was a eulogy which said (among other things) that C.R.C. had:

"...constructed a microcosm corresponding in all motions to the macrocosm and finally drew up this compendium of things past, present, and to come."

This statement is extremely interesting. Those of you who have followed my previous writing, especially "Secrets of the First Folio" will know that Bacon did, in fact, construct a microcosm. (I will discuss the "corresponding in all motion to the macrocosm" part a little later). Furthermore, by virtue of the fact of the Janus design that microcosm was a compendium of things past, and to come." As for a compendium of things present, it was the customary practice of Bacon to use actual people and to frame his plays in such a manner that they were a synopsis of current events.

What is the Janus Design? Simply this: Each play has two faces. One face looks toward the past, the other toward the future. One face looks at the course and progress of the ancients in some particular aspect of knowledge. 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. I have discussed all this in detail in my previous writings so I won't go into it here.

In his dedication to the 1640 edition of "The Advancement of Learning", Gilbert Wats speaks highly of Bacon's first biographer, the Frenchman Amboise. He quotes approvingly a passage about the many rare secrets Bacon discovered and left to us, but amends it to say Bacon discovered these rare secrets utilizing the method of examining the speculations of the Intellectual Globe by the operations of the Corporal Globe. This shows that Wats understood the statement by Amboise. Wats tells us Bacon left us many rare secrets without telling us their location. That location was certainly the First Folio.

Granville Cuningham provides detailed information about Bacon's first biography. It was quite short and prefaced a translation of one of Bacon's works published in Paris in 1631. Amboise said he used Bacon's manuscripts to aid him in his translation. This gives the impression Amboise had a close association with Bacon. This is strengthened when Amboise tells us Bacon had a summerhouse near London where he conducted many experiments. Ambroise adds,

"It is in this way that he has found out so many rare secrets, the discovery of which he has left to us."

The phrasing is significant. Amboise doesn't say Bacon left us the secrets. He says Bacon left us the discovery of the secrets. This implies they are left in such a manner that we have the possibility of discovering them just as Bacon discovered them, and conforms to the sense of the passage in "The Advancement of Learning" where Bacon discusses the best method for transmitting knowledge:

"But knowledge that is delivered as a thread to be spun on, ought to be delivered and intimated, if it were possible in the same method wherein it was invented."

The Janus Design in the plays is a good example. The secret of the Janus Design was not left to us. The discovery of that secret was left us. Amboise had insider information. He was aware Bacon left his secrets in such a manner that it was not the secrets that were left, but the discovery of the secrets. Who was Amboise anyway? There are a number of indications of a group of people in Paris who were "Au courant" (as the French would say) to Bacon's concealed activities. The most obvious indication is in Bacon's letter to Tobie Matthew:

"Those works of the Alphabet are in my opinion of less use to you where you are now, than at Paris."

That Bacon's "works of the Alphabet" was to be used in connection with the fourth part of his Instauration, was indicated in his work, "The Rule of the Present History" when he said:

"It is evident from what has been said that the present history not only supplies the place of the third part of the Instauration; but is no mean preparation for the fourth part, by reason of the titles from the Alphabet."

Bacon left the fragment of a work entitled, "The Alphabet of Nature". The portion of the alphabet included in the work was as follows:

Inquiries concerning Greater Masses:

67th Inquisition--------Earth-----------------------------------Threefold Tau

68th Inquisition--------Water----------------------------------Threefold Upsilon

69th Inquisition--------Air-------------------------------------Threefold Phi

70th Inquisition--------Fire------------------------------------Threefold Chi

71st Inquisition--------Heavens-------------------------------Threefold Psi

72nd Inquisition-------Meteors--------------------------------Threefold Omega

Inquiries concerning condition of Transcendental Beings:

73rd Inquisition-------Existence and Non-Existence-------Fourfold Alpha

74th Inquisition-------Possibility and Impossibility--------Fourfold Beta

75th Inquisition-------Much and Little-----------------------Fourfold Gamma

76th Inquisition-------Durable & Transitory----------------Fourfold Delta

77th Inquisition-------Natural & Unnatural-----------------Fourfold Epsilon

78th Inquisition-------Natural & Artificial------------------Fourfold Zeta


When I examined this alphabet it seemed to me it had been deliberately left in this fragmentary form, but anyone with close acquaintance with Bacon's Advancement of Learning and De Augmentis could reconstruct it. I reconstructed it, and it begins as follows:

Inquiries concerning simple motions:

1st Inquisition--------Resistance------------------------------Onefold Alpha

2nd Inquisition-------Connection-----------------------------Onefold Beta

3rd Inquisition-------Liberty----------------------------------Onefold Gamma

And proceeded on through the remainder of the simple motions, and then the compound motions, and the schemes of matter on to the Inquiries concerning Greater Masses, and the Inquiries concerning conditions of Transcendental Beings. That is, it covers all of universal nature just as the First Folio does (see my Secret of the First Folio). It provides the final bit of information needed to show that father C.R.C. had:

"...constructed a microcosm corresponding in all motions to the macrocosm and finally drew up this compendium of things past, present, and to come."

Moreover, I found evidence connecting the Plays with this alphabet, but that subject is far too lengthy to go into here.
In "The Secrets of the Shakespeare Plays" I made a case for the fourth part of the Instauration being the Shakespeare Plays. It would be interesting to know more about those people in Paris who were capable of appreciating Bacon's "works of the Alphabet" but in order to do so it is necessary to utilize the allusions that Bacon left us. In his "Wisdom of the Ancients" Bacon speaks of having recourse, "to the like method of allegory, metaphor and allusion" used by the Ancients.

Bacon resorts to this method of allusion in his philosophical piece, "The Refutation of the Philosophies". He says that while he was preparing it a friend came to him and described a meeting he had attended in Paris. At the meeting was a gathering of fifty men all of mature years, many of high rank. Not long afterwards there entered a man of peaceful and serene air, save that his face had become habituated to the expression of pity. This man delivered an address to the group. This address made up the body of the work, "Refutation of the Philosophies." Why did Bacon begin in this fashion? We can be sure he had some covert reason for dragging in the allusion to this group of people in Paris.

In the "New Atlantis" one of the Fathers of Salomon's House is described as,

"a man of middle stature and age, comely of person, with an aspect as if he pitied men."

In his description of Bacon, Camden said:

"He was of a middling Stature...his Presence grave and comely."

The Father of Salomon's House was further described as wearing a black robe with a beard that was cut round and was of the same color as his hair although somewhat lighter. This matches exactly the Van Somer portrait of Francis Bacon at middle age. Bacon is wearing a black robe. He has his beard cut round, and it is of the same color as his hair although somewhat lighter. So the Rosicrucian in The New Atlantis matches both the man who addressed the Paris group and the contemporary description of Francis Bacon. Although the people at the gathering in Paris are described as all of "mature years", no description is given of the age of the man who addressed them. Bacon would have been quite young at the time. The text of the address was Bacon's. I think Bacon was describing an actual event, and was the person who addressed the Paris group. The allusion indicates it was in the role of a teacher and authority figure of the Rosicrucians that Bacon addressed them. These people, described as distinguished and mature, were patiently awaiting his appearance. Who were these people who accepted young Francis Bacon as an authority figure, and in what capacity was he addressing them? What group of people was capable of recognizing the 16-year- old Francis Bacon as the extraordinary being that he really was?

In his book, "The Sufis", Idries Shah said The Rosicrucian Fraternity had it derivation from the Sufi order of "The Path of the Rose". Perhaps Bacon became associated with a Sufi group while he was still in his teens in Paris?

Certainly all three of these: The Rosicrucian Fraternity; much of Bacon's thought; and the Shakespeare corpus, have a Sufi tinge. In his "Novum Organum", Bacon, as was his custom, began with an idea originated by someone else, then modified, perfected, and reworked it to suit his own needs. Bacon utilized a Ladder of Generalization (The Ladder of The Intellect) in connection with a mechanism which enabled the inquirer to proceed from the almost infinite diversity of nature up to a very limited number of basic qualities.

(The Alphabet of Nature). It was this very restricted terminus to the operation that made an inquiry machine feasible. The idea of The Ladder of The Intellect originated from a man who, according to Idries Shah, was a Sufi. This man was Raymon Lull, a medieval philosopher and mystic who, as a result of a vision he had on a mountain top, tried to formulate a universal art of discovery. Moreover, In "Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz", Cambridge 1952, Professor R.A. Nicholso points out that certain portions of the Shakespearean corpus have an uncanny resemblance to passages in earlier Sufi material. The play, "The Taming of the Shrew" is Sufi doctrine through and through (see my essay on the play). And Idries Shah also says there is much material that seems to come from Sufi sources in the plays.

The most telling quality of the man behind the Spenser mask was evident when the Faerie Queene was published. Here was an intellectual colossus. Anyone could have had the idea of writing a poem about the various human passions and affections. That was the standard subject of intellectual conversation at the French Court when Francis Bacon had visited a short time before. But this poet, although his Faerie Queene was supposedly only half complete, had written the longest poem in the English language. And in his Faerie Land (the enchanted realm of the human mind) had constructed detailed and intricate personifications of hundreds upon hundreds of emotions all combined with the most exquisite poetry and intricate numeric symbolism conceivable. This was the work of a colossus. It was as if a barnyard of small domestic creatures had a monstrous visitor from the twilight zone. An intellectual Tyrannosaurus Rex who joined these creatures briefly then moved on. And after the thing was gone, the evidence of its presence was unmistakable from the three-foot long tracks side by side with the two-inch tracks. The visitor was that inconceivable intellectual phenomenon-a Shakespeare and a Francis Bacon, and a Marlowe, and now a Edmund Spenser all in one skin.

from Westminster Abbey, On the Spenser Tomb it is marked that the Earl of Essex (the close confidant of Francis Bacon) paid for the Spenser burial. This is another significant point that connects Spenser with Bacon.


Comments to Mather Walker

see The Shakespeare-Bacon Essays of Mather Walker  

Selected Reading

Baxter, James Phinney - The Greatest of Literary Problems - Houghton Mifflin Company - 1915
Birch, Thomas - Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (Vol. I) A. Millar, in the Strand - MDCCLIV

Bowen, Catherine Drinker - The Lion and the Throne - Little Brown and Co. - 1956

Cuningham, Granville C. - Bacon's Secret Disclosed in Contemporary Books Gay & Hancock, Ltd. MCMXI

Du Maurier, Daphne - Golden Lads - Doubleday & Company, Inc. - 1975

Duncan-Jones, Katherine - Sir Philip Sidney Courtier Poet - Yale University Press - 1991

Fuller, Jean Overton - Sir Francis Bacon - East-West Publications - 1981

Harman, Edward George - Edmund Spenser and The Impersonations of Francis Bacon- Constable and Company Ltd - 1914

Howell, Roger - Sir Philip Sidney The Shepherd Knight - Little Brown and Company - 1968

Lacey, Robert - Robert, Earl of Essex - Atheneum - 1971

Osborn, James M. - Young Philip Sidney - Yale University Press - 1972

Read, Conyers - Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth - Alfred A. Knopf - 1960

Shah, Idries - The Sufis - Doubleday & Company, Inc. - 1964

Smith, J.C. (editor) -The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser - Oxford University Press - 1935

Woodward, Parker - Tudor Problems - Gay and Hancock, Ltd. - 1912

Yates, Frances A. - The French Academies of the Sixteenth Century - The Warburg Institute - 1947