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Secret Baconian clues in the Shakespeare Plays

A Phoenix

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9 hours ago, Light-of-Truth said:

I'm not seeing a facsimile or even any images of it with a basic Google search. I wonder if it is online anywhere?



Hi Rob, "Observations Upon a Libell (1592)" is found in Resuscitatio (1661) by WM. RAWLEY.

But I don't know if there is a facsimile of it online.


If you are interested , I will take photographs of it this week-end and I will share them with you.

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When he was growing up Bacon spent his time at York House, the official residence of his father Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon, and at Gorhambury, the Bacon family estate, that comprised a large household overseen by his mother Lady Anne Bacon, which he still visited from time to time while residing at Gray’s Inn, when composing 2 Henry VI. The Bacon family Gorhambury estate is located on the edge of St Albans in Hertfordshire. Within walking distance of the estate stands the St Albans Cathedral containing the Shrine of St Alban, marking the place where he was martyred and buried. It is less well known that St Albans Cathedral was also the final resting place of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, good Duke Humphrey, the dominant figure in the first three acts of 2 Henry VI. He died on 23 February 1447 and his body was solemnly taken to St Albans, a town to which he was a protector and as well as special benefactor to the Abbey, where his tomb was built in his lifetime, near the shrine of the saint. On 4 March he was buried on the south side of the Shrine of St Alban in a ‘stately arched Monument of Free-stone, adorned with the Figures of his Royal Ancestors’ inscribed with an epitaph referring to the miracle of a blind impostor. The miracle referred to in the Latin inscription attached to the tomb of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester is made much of by Bacon in 2 Henry VI, a local St Alban’s legend to which Bacon devotes over a hundred lines in Act 2 Scene I (lines 62-165) commencing as follows:                      

                                 Enter one cryinga miracle

      GLOUCESTER        What means this noise?

                                   Fellow, what miracle dost thou proclaim?

     ONE                       A miracle, a miracle!

     SUFFOLK               Come to the king-tell him what miracle.

     ONE                       Forsooth, a blind man at Saint Alban’s shrine

                                   Within this half-hour hath received his sight-

                                   A man that ne’er saw in his life before.

     KING HENRY         Now God be praised, that to believing souls

                                   Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair!


                               Enter the Mayor and aldermen of Saint Albans,

                               with music, bearing the man, Simpcox, between

                               two in a chair. Enter Simpcoxs Wife [and other

                               townsmen] with them


    QUEEN MARGARET Tell me, good fellow, cam’st thou here by chance,

                                    Or of devotion to this holy shrine?

    SIMPCOX                 God knows, of pure devotion, being called

                                    A hundred times and oftener, in my sleep,

                                    By good Saint Alban, who said, ‘Simon, come;

                                    Come offer at my shrine and I will help thee.’

                                          [2 Henry VI: 2:1: 62-70, 89-94] 

In the passage Simon Simpcox supported by his wife attempts to exploit Henry VI’s piety and credulity by claiming to be the recipient of one of St Alban’s miracles. Simpcox tells Henry that he had been called in a dream ‘A hundred times and oftener’ (100 Francis Bacon in simple cipher) to come from his home Berwick by the good St Alban (be it noted that in Rosicrucian-Freemasonic literature the myth and legend of St Alban is transposed onto Bacon who was elected Baron of Verulam and Viscount St Alban) to his holy shrine, ‘and I will help thee’. Just at the moment King Henry had arrived in St Albans the glorious saint had miraculously cured Simpcox of his blindness with the Duke of Gloucester (Good Duke Humphrey) exclaiming ‘Fellow, what miracle dost thou proclaim’ (a Fellow of the Craft is a Brother who has achieved the second degree in Freemasonry). Unlike the incredulous king, Gloucester (who represents the rule of law) is not so easily deceived by fraudsters and illusions (the intoxicant of simpletons and the schoolmen) and systematically sets about like a judge or lawyer (and a Gray’s Inn lawyer to boot) to fully examine and subtly question the trickster.        

The Duke of Gloucester asks Simon Simpcox how long had he been blind to which he replied ‘O, born so master’ (Master Mason-the highest rank in Freemasonry) but his inquisitor is not deceived by mere words. To draw him on Gloucester turns to Simpcox and says ‘Let me see thine eyes: wink now, now open them/In my opinion yet thou seest not well’ (2:1:107-8) which elicits the response ‘Yes, master, clear as day, I thank God and Saint Alban’ (Saint Alban the mythical founder of Freemasonry/Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban, true founder of Speculative Freemasonry). His clever questioning soon exposes Simpcox’s fraud, who was not blind or born blind, and turning to the mayor and aldermen asks ‘My masters of Saint Albans, have you not/Beadles in your town,/and things called whips?’ (2:1:140-1). A beadle (a parish constable invested with the power of keeping order and punishing offenders) is duly called for and Gloucester also asks for a stool to be fetched. To save yourself from a whipping, Gloucester tells the ‘lame’ Simpcox, leap over the stool and run away, but unfortunately with liars they keep on lying ‘Alas, master,/I am not able even to stand alone. You go about to torture me in vain’ (1:2:148-9). This other lie did not endure as long as the more elaborate one. After the beadle had wielded the whip the fraudster Simpcox leapt over the stool and for all he was worth made a run for it with some of the townsmen in hot pursuit crying “A miracle! A miracle!”. In drawing the scene to a close Cardinal Beaufort says ‘Duke Humphrey has done a miracle today’, in making the lame leap and fly away; alluded to in the Latin ascription on his monument in St Alban’s Cathedral, which Bacon growing up at Gorhambury, just a hop, skip and a jump away, would have many times passed and read, and after incorporated a version of it, into act two of the second part of his Henry VI trilogy.




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The play Richard III concludes the first Shakespeare tetralogy (with I Henry VI, 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI) covering the War of the Roses. The play was written in the early 1590s, with opinions ranging from as early 1590-1, several Shakespeare editors and scholars venturing for sometime in 1592, and modern opinion favouring c.1592-3, as the most probably date the play was written and completed. It will be recalled that in c.1592-3 Bacon wrote Certain Observations upon a Libel, partly written in defence of his uncle Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, in response to certain Catholic libels published abroad and clandestinely circulating in England, libelling Cecil. The editor of the modern Arden edition of the play under the interconnected sections ‘Co Texts: Invective, Satire, Libel’ and ‘Drunken prophecies, libels’, emphasizes in some detail that Richard III ‘shares its language and protagonist with a vast tide of contemporary polemic and invective’, the most important of it being ‘Anti-Cecil’, a ‘discourse that peaked dramatically in 1591-2.’1From the outset these libels and prophecies primarily centring round Cecil, employed by its titular character Richard (who as we shall soon see was partly modelled on his son Sir Robert Cecil), sets the tone of the play:

Richard employs ‘prophecies’ and ‘libels’ (1.1.33), but no known source implicates him for the prophecy about ‘G’. However, playing on a letter appears prominently in a 1592 attack on Burghley invoking a ‘prophecie…that one who had two c. c. in his name should be the destruction of Ingland’ (Aduertisement, 39). [An]other 1592 polemic accuses Burghley himself of instigating ‘prophecies’ and ‘libells’ (Declaration, 74-5), as if he were responsible ‘for the vain and fond pamphlets and ballads of every idle fellow' (Bacon, Works, 8.200 [i.e. Observations upon a Libel]). By making Richard the causer of such libels, a lofty intimate of a monarch, a hidden threat and an apparent ally of his victims, the play parallels his story with anti-Cecil conspiracy polemic.          

   …Bacon’s 1592 defence of Burghley marvels at the sheer variety and number of libellous and defamatory books and writings (Bacon, Works, 8.147-8). These libels consistently attack a ‘monopolistic figure’ who manipulates the monarch, court factions and the nobility. Many like the 1584 Copy of a Letter, employ terms Richard uses to describe himself in 3 Henry VI ….all serving Burghley, ‘the primum mobile in every action (Bacon, Works, 8.198), ‘who so cunningly dispos[es]..his affaires, into the handes of other principall actors…that very ofte[n] tymes, his own plottes & inuentions have seemed the practizers of others’ (Declaration, 52). Burghley feigns piety while ‘laughing at other mens simplicity’ (Aduertisement, 61). Physical handicap enters this polemic with Robert Cecil’s rise in the early 1590s.2

  1. James R. Siemon, ed., Richard III (The Arden Shakespeare, 2013), pp. 28-9.

  2. Ibid., pp. 36-7. For Bacon see also 258, 403, 413, 415.


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I was thinking, all this time and effort has been spent since at least the1800s looking for the name Francis Bacon , Fr Bacon etc., concealed and encrypted in the works of Shakespeare, but how much time is spent looking for the name Shakespeare in the works of Francis Bacon? He must have done that, even if less regularly? Perhaps an ‘I am William Shakespeare’, (Shakes-speare or Shakspur) or ‘I am WS’.


I know we have all the Pallas Athena allusions and emblems, etc., etc. I’m referring to the actual words. Has anyone ever looked for or found anything like that?



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 "For nothing is born without unity or without the point." amazon.com/dp/B0CLDKDPY8

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Hi Kate!

Great question! I have definitely looked for Shakespeare in Bacon. We've done some here in the B'Hive, especially in the Special Bacon-Shakespeare Title Pages & Emblems forum.

Let me share what I have learned, or at least what my experience has been.

First thought:

Where it is easy to find Bacon's name in Shakespeare, especially in places where numbers would suggest his name should appear, in Bacon's works it is not the same. Why?

To me I have come to believe the First Folio is a "Secret Book", full of Elizabethan and Rosicrucian secrets. It was designed as such, and evolved over time until 1623 to fine-tune and perfect that purpose. The secrets were meant to be discovered and seen by some, and to stay invisible to others.

King Henry IV, part I, Act I, scene III

And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
I'll read you matter deep and dangerous,
As full of peril and adventurous spirit
As to o'er-walk a current roaring loud
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.

The Sonnets are Bacon's autobiography, and thus his name is all over it. Another book full of secrets, but little different purpose than the First Folio.

Bacon's public works were not "Secret Books", even though much of what he wrote was not for the profane. He wrote for the intelligent, for the learned. Bacon's works and Shakespeare's works make up two sides of his teachings, each as important as the other. One in Light, one in Dark, so to speak.

Second thought:

As we know, seeing Bacon's name in Shakespeare is fairly easy. It is maybe the first method for discovering the secrets contained in Shakespeare. See an "F BACON", then look deeper and find more. Start counting words, letters, cipher totals, and yet even more may appear that connect to what is happening in the play possibly, or out-of-context gives surprising new ideas.

In fact, it is so easy to find Bacon's name that we sometime question if we are really seeing something. I remember you stating with "enough vowels" we could see anything. Well, there is some Truth to that thought, but if that was totally true then we'd just as easily see some form of Shakespeare's name in Bacon's works. But it really does not happen the same. I've been looking for years. There are occasional hints in special places, but when Bacon published his own works the purpose was not to hide secrets. Everything was in the Light. The Title pages and Frontpieces were created after Bacon was finished writing whatever he wrote and his close friends and the printers had a little fun hiding some secrets, but for the most part Bacon's works were open in plain text for anyone bright enough to understand what we was trying to leave us. Plus some of what Bacon wrote was in Latin, then translated by others later who might put their own spin on what Bacon wrote. Shakespeare's works were in English which was part of Bacon's purpose.

In my opinion, Bacon's "unfinished" New Atlantis and his Essays are the best place to start to look for Shakespeare hints. We've come up with a few but I don't have examples in the front of my brain.

Bacon appears to make no effort to hide his phrases and ideas in Shakespeare and they appear in both works as the Phoenix's parallels demonstrate.

Shakespeare's works contain a huge volume of secrets and Bacon's name being just one of them. It may be that finding his name is the Rosicrucian Cipher Lesson 101 for seekers to begin with. Once a few techniques are mastered, an entire secret world opens up. (Thinking of Mighty Yann and his amazing range of seeing meanings beyond what I am capable of in so many areas of language, history, and myth.)

I will always look for Shakespeare in Bacon, and we who do what we do should as well. There are nuggets here and there. But I also know that even the Universal created coincidences don't play with Bacon's works as we see in Shakespeare's. 🙂



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The intertwined Cecil and Bacon family headed by Secretary of State Sir William Cecil and Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon the two twin pillars of the Elizabethan state were privately, socially and politically virtually indivisible. Both Sir William and Sir Nicholas were married to the two celebrated Cooke sisters Lady Mildred Cooke Cecil and Lady Anne Cooke Bacon. The Cecils and Bacons built their country estates Theobalds and Gorhambury within twenty miles of each other in the county of Hertfordshire, with the two families, together with their two young children Robert Cecil (b.1563) and Francis Bacon (b.1561), regularly visiting each other. From a very young age a fierce rivalry between the two young scions continued throughout their lifetimes characterised by Bacon’s intense dislike of Cecil, who as a child born with a small misshapen body grew up with the appearance of an hunchback, and seen by his cousin as sly, spiteful, cunning, deceitful, and completely untrustworthy, whom he painted as the titular character in Richard II and his essay Of Deformity.

The target of his essay Of Deformity (first printed after Robert Cecil’s death) was, Chamberlain writes to Carleton, easily recognizable by all and sundry ‘Sir Fraunces Bacon hath set our new essayes, where in a chapter of deformitie the world takes notice that he paints out his late litle cousin to the life.’1 A variety of anonymous libels including one with the following lines ‘Here lyes little Crookbacke/Who justly was reckon’d Richard the 3rd and Judas the second’2 made plain, writes Professor Croft, ‘the public identification of Robert Cecil with Robert Gloucester, and there is a remarkable chronological relationship between Cecil’s career and the popularities of the histories of King Richard III.’3 With his bent, crooked, hunched-back appearance, dwarfish stature, his sly and treacherous character, and his never ending capacity for dissimulation and mendacity, contemporary audiences would have readily recognised in the play’s titular character of Richard III a mirror figure of Cecil, the two of whom coalesce in Bacon’s essay Of Deformity, which presents a conflated epitome of Cecil and Richard III, as seen in his Shakespeare play of the same name:

                                                                                                                 OF DEFORMITY

Deformed persons are commonly even with nature; for as nature hath done ill by them, so do they by nature; being for the most part (as the Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and so they have their revenge of nature. Certainly there is a consent between the body and the mind; and where nature erreth in the one, she ventureth in the other. Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in altero. But because there is in man an election touching the frame of his mind, and a necessity in the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclination are sometimes obscured by the sun of discipline and virtue. Therefore it is good to consider of deformity, not as a sign, which is more deceivable; but as a cause, which seldom faileth of the effect. Whosoever hath any thing fixed in his person that doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver him from scorn. Therefore all deformed persons are extreme bold. First, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn; but in process of time by a general habit. Also it stirreth in them industry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the weakness of others, that they may have somewhat to repay. Again, in their superiors, it quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons think that they think they may at pleasure despise: and it layeth their competitors and emulators asleep; as never believing they should be in possibility of advancement, till they see them in possession. So that upon the matter, in a great wit, deformity is an advantage to rising. Kings in ancient times (and at this present in some countries) were wont to put great trust in eunuchs; because they that are envious towards all are more obnoxious and officious towards one. But yet their trust towards them hath rather been as to good spials and good whisperers, than good magistrates and officers. And much like is the reason of deformed persons.4    

                                                                                                  But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks

                                                                                                  Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass,

                                                                                                  I that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty

                                                                                                  To strut before a wanton ambling nymph,

                                                                                                  I that am curtailed of this fair proportion,

                                                                                                  Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

                                                                                                  Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time

                                                                                                  Into this breathing world scarce half made up-

                                                                                                  And that so lamely and unfashionable

                                                                                                  That dogs bark at me as I halt by them-

                                                                                                  Why, I in this weak piping time of peace

                                                                                                  Have no delight to pass away the time,

                                                                                                  Unless to spy my shadow in the sun

                                                                                                  And descant on mine own deformity.

                                                                                                  And therefore since I cannot prove a lover

                                                                                                  To entertain these fair well spoken days,

                                                                                                  I am determined to prove a villain

                                                                                                  And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

                                                                                                  Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,

                                                                                                  By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams

                                                                                                  To set my brother Clarence and the King

                                                                                                  In deadly hate the one against the other.

                                                                                                  And if King Edward be as true and just

                                                                                                  As I am subtle false and treacherous,

                                                                                                  This day should Clarence closely be mewed up

                                                                                                  About a prophecy which says that ‘G’

                                                                                                  Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.

                                                                                                              [Richard III: 1:1: 14-40] 


1.  Norman Egbert McClure, ed., The Letters of John Chamberlain (Philadelphia: The

    American Philosophical Society, 1939), I, p. 397. For comment and discussion see

    Samuel Harvey Reynolds, ed., The Essays Or Counsels, Civil And Moral Of Francis

    Bacon, Lord Verulam, Viscount St Albans (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1890), pp. 309-11; 

    Mary Augustus Scott, ed., The Essays of Francis Bacon (New York: Charles Scribner’s

    Sons, 1908), pp. 197-8; Brian Vickers, ed., Francis Bacon A Critical Edition Of The

    Major Works (Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 766; Michael Kiernan, ed., The

    Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall (Oxford Clarendon Press, 2000), p. 274.

2. Michael Kiernan, ed., The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall (Oxford Clarendon

    Press, 2000), p. 274; Pauline Croft, ‘The Reputation of Robert Cecil: Libels, Political

    Opinion and Popular Awareness in the Early Seventeenth Century’, Transactions of the

    Royal Historical Society, I (1991), pp. 54-5; James R. Siemon, ed., Richard III (The

    Arden Shakespeare, 2013), p. 39.

3. Pauline Croft, ‘The Reputation of Robert Cecil: Libels, Political Opinion and Popular

    Awareness in the Early Seventeenth Century’, Transactions of the Royal Historical

    Society, I (1991), p. 55.

4. Spedding, Works, VI, p. 480; Brian Vickers, ed., Francis Bacon A Critical Edition Of

    The Major Works (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 426-7; Michael Kiernan, ed., The

    Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall (Oxford Clarendon Press, 2000), pp. 133-4.



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Hi A Phoenix ! This is another great analysis and a foolproof parallel between the works of  Bacon and Shakespeare !❤️

Knowing the sense of humour of Bacon, and his love for the ciphers, I was pretty sure to find a direct reference to Robert Cecil in this passage. 😊

The capital letter R of "Rudely" was the Key !



Now, I wonder if "Robert Cecil" is also concealed in " Of Deformity".😀



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Through the Shakespeare history plays covering the reigns of the kings of England from Richard II to Henry VIII, the reign of Henry VII is remarkably conspicuous by its absence. This striking hiatus is filled by Bacon’s The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh written in prose which in an unbroken narrative follows on from the end of his Richard III.

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In the final Act of Titus Andronicus when asked by Saturninus who raped Lavinia, Titus identifies Chiron and Demetrius, and reveals their heads baked in a pie that their mother Tamora had already eaten from. Titus then stabs Tamora whereupon Saturninus kills Titus and is himself slain by Lucius. To the assembled Romans, Marcus Andronicus and Lucius set out the crimes of Tamora, her lover Aaron, and two sons Chiron and Demetrius saying ‘Now judge what cause had Titus to revenge/These wrongs unspeakable, past patience,/Or more than any living man could bear’ (5:3:124-6). The joyous citizens hail Lucius as the new emperor who promises ‘To heal Rome’s harms and wipe away her woe’ (5:3:147), in drawing to a close this legal play of law, justice, and revenge.

In the Arden edition of Titus Andronicus under the heading of ‘Revenge’ Professor Jonathan Bate discusses the play in relation to Bacon’s essay Of Revenge:


The play’s interest in political institutions is not confined to its examination of Roman government. The matter of revenge raises inevitable questions about the institutions of the law…

 ...The players who represent the enactment of revenge undertake the same kind of usurpation of the law as the revenger himself does. By casting revenge in the form of an elaborate public performance, the drama reveals that the public performance known as the law is also a form of revenge action….

 ..[The] distinction [between private revenge and legal retribution] must be made more subtly, as in fact it was by Bacon in his brief essay ‘Of Revenge’. That essay begins with an apparent endorsement of the views summarized by Bowers: revenge is a kind of wild (uncultivated) justice; it puts the law out of office, so the law should weed it out; revenge is perhaps ‘tolerable’ if it is for a wrong which there is no law to remedy, but the method of revenge had better be one which is not punishable by law. But the conclusion is surprising: ‘Public revenges are for the most part fortunate: as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the Death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate’ (Bacon, 73). The public revengers cited-Augustus, Severus, and Henry VI of France-proved to be, according to the official Renaissance view, good and successful rulers. If we believe that Lucius will rule Rome well, then the revenges in the final act of Titus, which are certainly performed very publicly, come into the category of the fortunate. Like Hieronimo and Hamlet, Titus pretends to be mad, gives the appearance of having turned his vindictiveness inward in the auto-destructive fashion of Bacon’s private revengers, but in fact all along he is preparing for a public act. His revenge takes place as part of a public performance which brings about political change.  

The necessity to revenge reveals the inadequacy of the law; the formulation of revenge in performance acts as a substitution for the law, simultaneously revealing the law to be itself nothing other than a performance, replete with processions, costumes, symbolic geography, dialogues, epideictic utterances, and gestures.

   ….Titus Andronicus tells the story of the failure of established legal remedies…

   ….Consequent upon the failure of imperial law is the revenger’s establishment of an alternative procedure. Barbaric as the feast in the final scene may be, Titus still uses the language of the law: he speaks of ‘precedent’ and ‘warrant’ (5.3.43). It is as if the breakdown of established law is such that he has to create a new system of case-law, based on historical and mythological sources.1   

This theme of revenge structures the whole of Titus Andronicus at every level and it is the motif that permeates its symbolism, imagery and language in a context of law and justice; whether in the absence of one or both, where one ends and the other begins, and when, where there is no law or lawful justice, a wild kind of justice, revenge:   

                                                                                                          OF REVENGE

Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth both offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with is enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon. And Salomon, I am sure, saith, It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence. That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong’s sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; but then let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man’s enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh. This the more generous. For the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable; You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends. But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we (saith he) take good at Gods hands, and not be content to take evil also? And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps is own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate.2

1. Jonathan Bate, ed., Titus Andronicus (The Arden Shakespeare, 1995), pp. 21-2, 24, 26-7, 28.

    For other discussions of law, justice and revenge in Titus Andronicus see Dympna

    Callaghan and Chris R. Kyle, ‘The Wilde Side of Justice in Early Modern England and  

    itus Andronicus’, in The Law in Shakespeare, eds., Constance Jordan and Karen

    Cunningham (Hampshire: Palsgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 38-57; Kenji Yoshino, A

    Thousand Times More Fair What Shakespeares Plays Teach Us About Justice (New

    York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011), pp. 1-28; Paul Raffield, ‘Terras Astraea

    reliquit’: Titus Andronicus and the Loss of Justice’, in Shakespeare and the Law, eds.,

    Paul Raffield and Gary Watt (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2008), pp.

    203-20; Christian Biet, ‘Titus Andronicus vs Le More Cruel and Les Portugais

    Infortunes’, in Shakespeare and the Law, eds., Paul Raffield and Gary Watt (Oxford and

    Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2008), pp. 221-34.

2. Spedding, Works, VI, pp. 384-5; Brian Vickers, ed., Francis Bacon A Critical Edition Of

    The Major Works (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 347-8; Michael Kiernan, ed., The

    Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall (Oxford Clarendon Press, 2000), pp. 16-7.


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                                                                        ANDTHE CHARGE OF SIR FRANCIS BACON TOUCHING DUELS.

The Shakespeare English history play Richard II opens with a trial scene in which the king acts as judge and jury in a matter of grave import wherein two of his leading noblemen accuse each other of treason. He instructs John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster to bring his son Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk before him:

                                                                                            Then call them to our presence. Face to face

                                                                                            And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear

                                                                                            The accuser and the accused freely speak.

                                                                                                           [Richard II: 1:1:15-17] 

The King’s cousin, Bolingbroke (future Henry IV) accuses Mowbray of embezzling royal funds and plotting the recent death of the Duke of Gloucester, which he robustly denies, and each of them challenge one another, to a duel.

The duelling adversaries Bolingbroke and Mowbray prepare for the trial by combat and are ready to fight as the king arrives at Coventry. The Lord Marshall goes through the formalities which are steeped in the language of the law and with the combatants ready the king directs his royal officer ‘And formally, according to our law,/Depose him in the justice of his cause’ (1:3:29-30). The duel ceremoniously commences with Bolingbroke and Mowbray being presented with their lances but at the last moment the king intervenes to halt it. He orders Bolingbroke and Mowbray to withdraw and disarm. He then turns to consult with his nobles and decides ‘For that our kingdom’s earth should not be soiled/With that dear blood which it hath fostered’ (1:3:124-5) he decrees that the combatants are to be banished-Bolingbroke for a period of ten years and Mowbray for the rest of his days. After Mowbray’s departure, seeing the sadness in Gaunt’s eyes, the king shortens Bolingbroke’s sentence to six years in exile, though Gaunt laments that he will most probably be dead before his son returns, as they say their last emotional farewells.

The scourge of trial by combat and of duelling had been a source of grievance both morally and legally for Bacon from his early years studying law at Gray’s Inn and his first task on appointment as Attorney-General was to put a stop to it. After consulting with his lawyers King James issued a proclamation to outlaw the practice and Bacon submitted a paper ‘A Proposition for the Repressing of Singular Combats or Duels’ to the same effect. He hoped that the ordinance might ‘not look back to any offence past’ and hoped that parliament would publish a grave and severe proclamation of its own to deter this present mischief. In Richard II following the aborted trial by combat the punishment for Bolingbroke and Mowbray was banishment from the realm, similarly, in his proposition for suppressing singular combats and duels Bacon recommends that the combatants should be punished with perpetual banishment from the royal courts:

                                                                                 A Proposition For The Repressing Of Singular Combats Or Duels

For the ordinance itself: first, I consider that offence hath vogue only amongst noble persons, or persons of quality. I consider also that the greatest honour for subjects of quality in a lawful monarchy, is to have access and approach to their sovereign’s sight and person, which is the fountain of honour; and though this be a comfort all persons of quality do not use; yet there is no good spirit but will think himself in darkness, if he be debarred of it. Therefore I do propound that the principal part of the punishment be, that the offender (in the cases hereafter set down) be banished perpetually from approach to the courts of the King, Queen, or Prince.1

A few weeks later Bacon arranged to hear a duelling case, initially placed in the hands of Sir Henry Hobart, between two obscure individuals in the Star Chamber which was soon after published with Bacon’s speech and the decree of the court in The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Knight, his Maiestys Attourney generall, touching Duells; vpon an information in the Star-chamber against Priest and Wright:

My Lords,

I thought it fit for my place, and for these times, to bring to hearing before your Lordships, some cause touching private Duels, to see if this Court can do any good to tame and reclaim that evil which seems unbridled…

  …Touching the causes of it; the first motive no doubt is a false and erroneous imagination of honour and credit; and therefore the King, in his last proclamation, doth most amply and excellently call them bewitching Duels. For, if one judge of it truly, it is no better than a sorcery, that enchanteth the spirits of young men, that bear great minds, with a false shew, species falsa; and a kind of satanical illusion and apparition of honour; against religion, against law, against moral virtue, and against the precedents and examples of the best times and valiantest nations, as I shall tell you by and by, when I shall shew you that the law of England is not alone on this point.2

1. Spedding, Letters and Life, IV, p. 397 and Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart, Hostage

    to Fortune The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon (London: Victor Gollancz, 1998), pp.


2. Spedding, Letters and Life, IV, pp. 399, 401.





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                                                                                                  Landlord of England art thou now, not king.

                                                                                                  Thy state of law is bondslave to the law.

                                                                                                              [Richard II: 2:1: 113-14]

For centuries the above two lines have vexed editors and commentators of Richard II with A P. Rossiter as recently as the middle of the twentieth century describing the passage as ‘hopelessly obscure’.1 When the passage is glossed in modern editions of the play its editors in nearly all instances suggest the second line stands in apposition, in other words, the second line repeats in different words what is said in the first line.2 In her groundbreaking article ‘The State of Law in Richard II’ Professor Donna B. Hamilton provides the correct interpretation ‘To arrive at a better reading of Gaunt’s speech, it is necessary to recognize at the outset that the relationship of the lines to each other is not that of apposition. Rather, they express a paradox: a king who acts like a landlord instead of a king becomes in some sense a slave.’3 To substantiate and illuminate this correct reading of the passage Professor Hamilton presents a number of sixteenth and seventeenth century legal writers and lawyers who took their lead from Bracton ‘The most influential English legal authority to define the king in this manner was Bracton, upon whom Gower, Fortescue, and many of their successors, including Richard Hooker and Francis Bacon, relied. As Bracton had written in his thirteenth-century treatise De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae, “law makes the king. Let him therefore bestow upon the law what the law bestows upon him, namely rule and power. For there is no rex where will rules rather than lex.”4 The legal paradoxical principle incorporated by Bacon in the passage in Richard II is referred to by him in his legal treatise entitled the Case of the Post Nati of Scotland:

Law no doubt is the great organ by which the sovereign power doth move, and may be truly compared to the sinews in a natural body, as the sovereignty may be compared to the spirits: for if the sinews be without the spirits, they are dead and without motion; if the spirits move in weak sinews, it causeth trembling: so the laws, without the king’s power, are dead; the king’s power, except the laws be corroborated, will never move constantly, but be full of staggering and trepidation. But towards the king himself the law doth a double office or operation: the first is to intitle the king, or design him: and in that sense Bracton saith well, lib. 1. fol. 5 and lib. 3 fol. 107. Lex facit quod ipse sit Rex; that is, it defines his title…5

The paradoxical complexities surrounding the concept discussed by Bracton, the king is made by the law, and at the same time, under the law, and the king derives is power from God, and is under God, provides him with extraordinary powers, to ultimately protect and preserve the commonwealth. Yet despite these royal prerogatives the king was still regarded by Bacon, as under the law and limited by the law, the problem was dealing with and enforcing these paradoxical principals in the reign of Richard II and in the Elizabethan period at the time of writing Richard II. A legal dilemma informing the opening scenes of the play and its associated difficulties throughout the rest of it:   

 It was by the law that he possessed royal prerogatives, and it was presumed that, in his use of these special powers, he would always exercise the kind of self-restraint that would keep his rule in the interest of the commonwealth and within the intention of the law. Just a few lines after declaring the king “non sub homine,” Bracton goes on to say that the king must will “himself to be subjected to the law” even as had Jesus Christ, “lest his power remain unbridled.”

  …The same point of view is conveyed by Francis Bacon in “A Brief Discourse Upon the Commission of Bridewell” (1587): “the Law is the most highest inheritance the King hath; for by the law both the King and all his subjects are ruled and directed.” In the Case of the Post-Nati, Bacon reiterates this position, acknowledging that, though the king has the power to dispense with certain laws in certain circumstances, thereby making him solutus legibus, “yet his acts and his grants are limited by law, and we argue them every day.” 

    A problem that could develop under such principles is the one dramatized in the three opening scenes of Richard II. For the royal prerogative of immunity from prosecution could result in a situation whereby a king guilty of an illegal act would be free of having to answer for it. The commonwealth had no institution or procedure to compel a king to act in conformity with the law or to punish him for violating it.6

The abuse of his powers by Richard in the opening scenes points to the consequence of these abuses which eventually results in the loss of his crown. A lesson clearly not learned by the Stuart king Charles I (whose reign commenced while Bacon was alive) who failed to appreciate he was under the law and limited by it, an arrogant delusion for which he lost his head, whereby the monarchy was abolished, and Cromwell ruled over a new English republican commonwealth.


1. A. P. Rossiter, ed., Woodstock: A Moral History (London: Chatto and Windus, 1946), p. 48.

2. Donna B. Hamilton, ‘The State of Law in Richard II’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 34 (1983), pp. 5-17, at pp. 5-6.

3. Ibid., p. 6.

4. Ibid., p. 11. For other discussions on this passage and its related issues see Dennis R. Klinck, ‘Shakespeare’s Richard II  as Landlord and        Wasting Tenant’, LawLiteratureand Interdisciplinarity, 25 (1998), pp. 21-34; William O. Scott, ‘“Like to a Tenement” Landholding,                Leasing, and Inheritance in Richard II’, in The Law  in Shakespeare, eds., Constance Jordan and Karen Cunningham (Hampshire:                    Palsgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 58-72; Ian Ward, Shakespeare and the Legal Imagination (London: Butterworths, 1999), p. 34; Paul              Raffield, Shakespeares Imaginary  Constitution Late-Elizabethan Politics  and the Theatre of Law (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Hart          Publishing, 2010), p. 107.

5. Spedding, Works, VII, p. 646.

6. Donna B. Hamilton, ‘The State of Law in Richard II’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 34 (1983), p. 13.

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A letter written by Sir Edward Hoby on 7 December 1595 inviting Sir Robert Cecil to his house in Canon Row to see ‘K. Richard present him self’ is regularly adduced as confirmatory evidence for the earliest recorded performance of Richard II:

Sir, findinge that you wer not convenientlie to be at London to morrow night I am bold to send to knowe whether Teusdaie may be anie more in your grace to visit poore Channon rowe where as late as it shal please you a gate for your supper shal be open: &  K. Richard present him selfe to your vewe. Pardon my boldnes that ever love to be honored with your presence nether do I importune more then your occasions may willingly assent unto, in the meanetime & ever restinge At your command

                                                                    Edw. Hoby.1

 This letter referred to in nearly all modern editions of Richard II has been treated very curiously and strangely by modern editors of the play. All serious scholars are more than aware that it is vital how evidence and information is framed and contextualised in any fair, impartial (and whenever possible) comprehensive discussion and analysis of a subject, in this case a letter, where nothing of any importance or relevance, is left out or suppressed. The accounts given by these widely respected editors (John Dover Wilson, Peter Ure, Stanley Wells/Paul Edmondson, Charles R. Forker, Andrew Gurr, Anthony B. Dawson and Paul Yachnin published under the imprints of Arden, Oxford and Cambridge University, etc) describing and discussing the letter would all seem to be very carefully presented.Professor John Dover Wilson informs his readers that Sir Edward Hoby was the son of the diplomatist Sir Thomas Hoby, best known as the translator of Castiglione’s The Courtier with the Oxford editors Professors Dawson and Yachnin pointing out that Sir Edward’s wife was the daughter of Baron Hunsdon, chief patron of Shakespeare’s company.  In the recent Arden edition Professor Forker tells us Sir Edward Hoby and Sir Robert Cecil were first cousins and several editors feel the need to point out to their learned readers that Sir Robert Cecil was the son of Elizabeth’s chief minister Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley. It is these editions that fill the university shelves and educate the ordinary schoolmen and degree students.

Astonishingly, in not one of these standard editions of Richard II published around the English speaking world does any of the above editors of the play once mention the name of Francis Bacon in connection to the letter from Sir Edward Hoby to Sir Robert Cecil. The sender of it Sir Edward Hoby was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Hoby and his wife Lady Elizabeth Cooke Hoby, younger sister of Bacon’s mother Lady Anne Cooke Bacon and his and Bacon’s first cousin its recipient Sir Robert Cecil, the son of Sir William (brother-in-law of Sir Nicholas Bacon) and Lady Mildred Cooke Cecil, elder sister of Lady Bacon. All of whom shared lifelong relationships with Bacon. All these editors were perfectly aware that Bacon was/is thought by many to be the secret author of the Shakespeare canon-the same editors who systematically chose to supress all mention of him in relation to the above. 

Lest I forget there is incredibly one other thing that each and every one of the above editors of Richard II did not draw to the attention of their readers. A manuscript copy of the Shakespeare play Richard II was originally part of Bacon’s collection of MSS known as The Northumberland Manuscript. Scribbled on the outside cover of the Northumberland Manuscript are numerous variants of the names Bacon, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare and William Shakespeare with special attention called to the telling line written above the entry for ‘Rychard the Second’ ‘By Mr. ffrauncis William Shakespeare’ and further down the page the word ‘Your’ is written twice across the name ‘William Shakespeare’ reading ‘Your William Shakespeare’.3   

1. E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare A Study Of Facts And Problems (Oxford

   Clarendon Press, 1930), II, pp. 320-1.

2. John Dover Wilson, ed., King Richard II (Cambridge University Press, 1939, 1971), pp.

    viii-ix; Peter Ure, ed., King Richard II (London: Arden Shakespeare, 1961, 1970), pp.

    xxix-xxx; Stanley Wells, ed., with an Introduction by Paul Edmondson, Richard II

    Penguin Books, 1969, 2015), p. liv; Charles, R. Forker, ed., King Richard II (The Arden

    Shakespeare, 2002, 2005), pp. 114-5; Andrew Gurr, ed., King Richard II (Cambridge

    University Press, 2003, 2015), pp. 1-3; Anthony B. Dawson and Paul Yachnin, eds.,

    Richard II (Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 9n1, 78-9.

3. James Spedding, ed., A Conference Of Pleasure, Composed For Some Festive Occasion

    About The Year 1592 By Francis Bacon. Edited, From A Manuscript Belonging to The

    Duke of Northumberland (London: printed by Whittingham and Wilkins, 1870), pp. xxi-

    xxii; Frank J. Burgoyne, ed., Collotype Facsimile & Type Transcript Of An Elizabethan

    Manuscript Preserved at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland (London: Longmans, Green,

    and Co., 1904), pp. xiii, xv, xx.


northumberland mss.png

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I agree about Hoby and how the Bacon family connection is often not mentioned. In the U.S. at least, a reported legal case is usually referred to as a "case" (as in Bacon's "Case of the Post-Nati," as printed in Spedding) which is different from a treatise which one tends to think of as a legal reference book, literally (though you may have been thinking of the case as, figuratively, a "treatise" because it contained Bacon's profound exposition of the law within it).  As to Bracton (1210-1268 (for perspective: Richard II: 1367-1400)) as a legal authority: in legal argument, Bacon would cite authorities that would help him win his case, but Daniel R. Coquillette has observed Bacon's tendency not to rely too much, or cite too often, legal authorities (I agree). I have thought this was partly because Bacon was influenced by the great learning of the civil law, which I believe he hoped to graft into the English common law (as with his "Maxims") (and did he use the Shakespeare plays towards this end???), but he was working in a common law system in which the civil law was suspect because it was associated with the Catholic nations of Europe. As Coquillette writes, it would have been professional suicide for him to have "come out" strongly as a civilian (His nephew by marriage, Sir Julius Caesar, was a civilian lawyer who did suffer professionally for his "want of law."). Also, in general, Bacon taught that in the modern, "scientific approach" he was advocating, people should question authority. All was grist for his mill.

In his book on Francis Bacon's jurisprudence which I highly recommend, Francis Bacon (Stanford U. Press and Edinburgh University Press, 1992), Coquillette stressed over and over again the influence of the civil law (that practiced on the Continent which was initially based on Roman Law, from the sixth century Code of Justinian) on Bacon. "Bracton" (probably a churchman, who probably did not write all of the treatise called Bracton ascribed to him)relied upon Azo, a great 12th century Italian civilian lawyer. In his "Maxims of the Law" which he dedicated to Queen Elizabeth (not published until 1631 (Coquillette, Francis Bacon, 333)), Bacon quoted Azo several times, but only once by name, as I recall; other times, he referred to him only as a great authority. Bacon was up against Coke, the great common law lawyer of the time, in the "Case of the Post-Nati." Bacon was himself a great legal authority whose imprint on the law is still being felt today (as in the United States' Federal Rules of Evidence, Coquillette has observed--I believe it is in one of his several articles on Bacon and the "civilians"). In my book, Francis Bacon's Hidden Hand in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, I discuss Bracton, with footnotes to other authorities (including Coquillette and the respected legal historian Kenneth Pennington) which discuss Bracton in a legal history context; see my book, pp. 35, 78, 91, 93, 163, 164, 198, 206. Legal history is fascinating! I apologize, I am not being as specific with references as I should be. If someone wants more information, I'll try to provide it, upon request.

(Added 5-29-22, the Coquillette article I mentioned, on Bacon's influence on modern legal rule-making, is Daniel R. Coquillette, "Past the Pillars of Hercules: Francis Bacon and the Science of Rulemaking," University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform (June 1, 2012), 549-592, available here https://works.bepress.com/daniel_coquillette/95/. Bacon was a legal reformer. The concluding quotation is Bacon's: "I hold every man a debtor to his profession, from the which as men of course doe seeke to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endevour themselves by ways of amends, to be a help and ornament thereunto; this is performed in some degree by the honest and liberal practice of a profession . . . but much more . . . if a man bee able to visite and strengthen the roots and foundation of the science itself; thereby not only gracing it in reputation and dignity, but also amplifying it in perfection and substance." Francis Bacon, A Collection of Some Principal Rules and Maxims of the Common Lawes of England (1639)).

(Added 5-28-22) Also good to read is Ernst H. Kantorowicz, "Shakespeare: King Richard II," The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985, first pub. Princeton U.P., 1957), 24-41, discusses how "Shakespeare" (that statesman/legal scholar which Bacon was and Shaxpere was not) wove into Richard II the medieval "legal fiction" that the king had two bodies, the "king body natural" and "king body politic" (39). Edit again: I see that Donna Hamilton cites Kantoriwicz several times, but not pages within his chapter on Richard II.

Also, Hamilton points to Thomas Smith's De Republica Anglorum (1583) as a prime source (among several) of ideas to "Shakespeare" in Richard II. Smith (1513-1577) was the first Regius Professor of Civil Law, appointed in 1543 by Henry VIII. Smith had served as an English ambassador to France (1562-66, 1572 "for a short time"). Bacon was in France with Sir Amias Paulet's embassy from 1576-1579. I am thinking it was likely that Bacon read Smith's book, perhaps even in manuscript prior to its 1583 publication. He may even have met Smith personally. I'd like to know more about connections between Bacon and Smith. Here's Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 on Smith. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Encyclopædia_Britannica/Smith,_Sir_Thomas. (Added 5-29-22. The Oxfordians point to the fact that the Earl of Oxford was tutored in Smith's household, but the Earl of Oxford did not have the practical knowledge that Bacon gained from being a statesman, jurist, and legal reformer, in addition to being a poet.)

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After a twelve year absence abroad working closely with spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham for the English Secret Service Anthony Bacon returned to England in February 1592 and immediately went to live with his beloved brother Francis who welcomed him with open arms into his Gray’s Inn lodgings. From the moment Anthony returned to England he immediately became involved in supporting and assisting his brother Francis with his money troubles and considerable debts selling off land and property to support their secret projects.

Under the roof of Essex House Francis and Anthony Bacon ran a vast domestic and foreign intelligence network of spies and intelligencers operating across the European continent. Working out of Gray’s Inn and Essex House Francis and Anthony also set up a literary workshop with connections to English printers and publishers employing writers, translators, scribes and copyists for distribution of private manuscripts, books, plays, masques and other entertainments. The Bacon-Essex circle included the Earl of Southampton to whom Bacon dedicated Venus and Adonis andThe Rape of Lucrece who in the years leading up to the publication of his Shakespeare poems resided with Bacon at Gray's Inn. The intelligence and literary operations required very substantial financial resources and revenues to continually fund and maintain them which drove Francis and Anthony Bacon into a never ending cycle of debt incurred by having to raise large loans from money-lenders through bonds (legal contracts and agreements for loans which obligates the borrower to pay a sum of money on a certain date-with a failure to do so incurring some kind of penalty or forfeit) and other legal instruments.      

The Bacon brothers were still dealing with various loans and mounting debts when in Trinity Term 1597 a goldsmith named Sympson of Lombard Street who held a bond for £300 principal sued Francis for repayment but agreed to respite the satisfaction of it until the beginning of the following term. Without however any warning a fortnight before Michaelmas Term commenced Bacon was walking from the Tower of London on her Majesty’s service when at the instigation of the moneylender Sympson he was served with an execution and arrested. It appears Bacon was detained by the officials sent to arrest him with a view to transferring and confining him in the Fleet Prison. He managed to send a message to Sheriff More with whom he had dined two days before who intervened on his behalf and provided him with more comfortable surroundings in a house in Coleman Street. From here Bacon immediately sent word to the Earl of Essex and despatched two letters-one to his cousin Secretary of State Sir Robert Cecil and the other to Lord Keeper Sir Thomas Egerton, which contain all that is known of the of whole affair, reproduced here below in full:        


                                                                                      TO SIR ROBERT CECIL, SECRETARY OF STATE                                  

It may please your Honour,

   I humbly pray you to understand how badly I have been used by the enclosed, being a copy of a letter of complaint thereof, which I have written to the Lord Keeper. How sensitive you are of wrongs offered to your blood in my particular, I have had not long since experience. But herein I think your Honour will be doubly sensitive, in tenderness also of the indignity to her Majesty’s service. For as for me, Mr. Sympson might have had me every day in London; and therefore to belay me, while he knew I came from the Tower about her Majesty’s special service, was to my understanding very bold. And two days before he brags he forbore me, because I dined with sheriff More. So as with Mr. Sympson, examinations at the Tower are not so great a privilege, eundo et redeundo, as sheriff More’s dinner. But this complaint I make in duty; and to that end have also informed my Lord of Essex thereof; for otherwise his punishment will do me no good.

 So with signification of my humble duty, I command your Honour to the divine preservation. From Coleman Street, this 24th of September, [1598.]

                                                     At your honourable command particularly,                                                  

                                                                                                         FR. BACON.1


                                                                            TO SIR THOMAS EGERTON, LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL

It may please your Lordship,

   I am to make humble complaint to your Lordship of some hard dealing offered me by one Sympson, a goldsmith, a man noted much, as I have heard, for extremities and stoutness upon his purse: but yet I could scarcely have imagined, he would have dealt either so dishonestly towards myself, or so contemptuously towards her Majesty’s service. For this Lombard (pardon me, I most humbly pray your Lordship, if being admonished by the street he dwells in, I give him that name) having me in bond for £300 principal, and I having the last term confessed the action, and by his full and direct consent respited the satisfaction till the beginning of this term to come, without ever giving me warning either by letter or message, served an execution upon me, having trained me at such time as I came from the Tower, where, Mr Waad can witness, we attended a service of no mean importance. Neither would he so much as vouchsafe to come and speak with me to take any order in it, though I sent for him divers times, and his house was just by; handling it as upon a despite, being a man I never provoked with a cross word, no nor with many delays. He would have urged it to have had me in prison; which he had done, had not sheriff More, to whom I sent, gently recommended me to an handsome house in Coleman Street, where I am. Now because he will not treat with me, I am enforced humbly to desire your Lordship to send for him, according to your place, to bring him to some reason; and this forthwith, because I continue here to my further discredit and inconvenience, and the trouble of the gentleman with whom I am. I have an hundred pounds lying by me, which he may have, and the rest upon some reasonable time and security; or, if need be, the whole; but with my more trouble. As for the contempt he hath offered, in regard her Majesty’s service, to my understanding, carrieth a privilege eundo et redeundo in meaner causes, much more in matters of this nature, especially in persons known to be qualified with that place and employment, which, though, unworthy, I am vouchsafed, I enforce nothing; thinking I have done my part when I have made it known; and so leave it to your Lordship’s honourable consideration. And so with signification of my humble duty, etc.2

There is no other known extant record or report of Bacon’s arrest for debt, an action effected by one Sympson of Lombard Street the home of money-lenders and usurers; so presumably arrangements were made to settle the debt and interest in full, probably by Anthony Bacon, whose purse and credit was always at the service of his beloved brother, whom he loved more than all the world, perhaps even more than life itself. 

These events were to inform and colour the most famous legal play in the history of English drama, whose titular character is named Antonio, the Italianate form of Anthony named after and modelled upon Anthony Bacon with Bassanio representing Francis Bacon (Bacon: in Italian a single ‘c’ is pronounced ‘s’ and it will be observed four of the five letters of his surname are found in Bassanio, i.e. B A O N and when the 'S' becomes 'C' we have BACON).  These twin characters of Antonio and Bassanio mirror the complex relationship and circumstances of Francis Bacon and Anthony Bacon before and during the time the play was written, revised and performed, in what is, one of the most Baconian of all the Shakespeare plays:


                                                                                              ’Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,

                                                                                              How much I have disabled mine estate

                                                                                              By something showing a more swelling port

                                                                                              Than my faint means would grant continuance,

                                                                                              Nor do I now make moan to be abridged

                                                                                              From such a noble rate; but my chief care

                                                                                              Is to come fairly off from the great debts

                                                                                              Wherein my time, something too prodigal,

                                                                                              Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,

                                                                                              I owe the most in money and in love,

                                                                                              And from your love I have a warranty

                                                                                              To unburden all my plots and purposes

                                                                                              How to get clear of all the debts I owe.


                                                                                               I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it,

                                                                                               And if I stand as you yourself still do,

                                                                                               Within the eye of honour, be assured

                                                                                               My purse, my person, my extremest means

                                                                                               Lie all unlocked to your occasions.

                                                                                                   [The Merchant of Venice: 1:1:122-39]

1.  Spedding, Letters and Life, II, pp. 106-7.

2. Ibid., Letters and Life, II, pp. 107-8; see also, Daphne Du Maurier, Golden Lads A Study

    of Anthony Bacon, Francis and their friends (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1975), pp.

    205- 8; Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart, Hostage to Fortune The Troubled Life of Francis    

    Bacon (London: Victor Gollancz, 1998), pp. 198-9.


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In one of the most famous plays in the history of world literature the character of Dr Bellario almost passes unnoticed to the vast majority of students and members of the theatre-going public. Because Dr Bellario does not actually appear in the play, his name conveniently does not appear in the dramatis personae or list of characters in the modern standard editions of The Merchant of Venice (Arden, Oxford, Cambridge, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, etc). Nor is his name listed in the index of the Arden and Oxford editions (virtually all old and modern editions of the play lack an index) and his character attracts little or no commentary, discussion or analysis in introductions to editions of the play. It is probably no coincidence that he is essentially the invisible man of the play, like its true author and invisible Rosicrucian Brother, Lord Bacon.   

The spectral presence of Bacon permeates the fabric of The Merchant of Venice and apart from Bassanio several other characters in the play bear a striking resemblance to him. Professor Lamb voices that not only does ‘Bassanio and Shylock resemble Bacon’, but so too its heroine: ‘Portia’s legal, economic, and even religious advantages…may even suggest an association with one of early modern England’s most famous lawyers, Francis Bacon’ and she Portia ‘works as a hypothesis-based scientist avant la letter, while other figures bear a striking resemblance to what would become known as Baconian induction.’1 Who then is Dr Bellario? This is the question the American lawyer and orthodox Shakespeare scholar Mark Edwin Andrews asks in Law Versus Equity in The Merchant of Venice (University of Colorado Press, 1965), to which he answered emphatically-his character represented Francis Bacon.2 This work by Andrews is all but unknown, save to a few specialist scholars, and unsurprisingly modern editors of The Merchant of Venice have all shied away from the suggestion that the character Dr Bellario is Bacon in disguise, and as far as the present writer is aware, no orthodox Shakespeare scholar has undertaken an in-depth study of his character. However two recent independent scholars have done just that. The first Simon Miles who has given a series of ground-breaking and illuminating lectures on The Merchant of Venice,3 and the American lawyer and legal writer Christina Waldman the first author to set forth a full-length work on the subject: Francis Bacons Hidden Hand in Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice: A Study of Law, Rhetoric, and Authorship.4 In the foreword to this extensive study Miles says that Waldman’s work represents a ‘thought-provoking enquiry into the legal and historical resonances between Bacon and the play, and especially the character of Bellario.’5 For Miles The Merchant of Venice ‘is Bacon’s, through and through’ and, he adds, thoroughly ‘permeated by his presence’.6 There is, he incisively observes, ‘something very personal at the heart of the play’:

The relationship between Bassanio and Antonio, the two leading male characters, exactly mirrors that between Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony at the time. Francis was frequently in debt, and Anthony would often stand bond for his brother…

…we can see Francis Bacon reflected in this play in multiple guises and characters, as if showing different aspects of his life. His personal circumstances are paralleled in Bassanio, and as Andrews and Waldman argue, his legal persona is depicted in Bellario.

There are many parallels to be found between passages, words and phrases in The Merchant of Venice and Bacon’s other writings. These are like fingerprints of thought which confirm the identity of the author, when we know where to look.7

1. Jonathan P. Lamb, Shakespeare In The Marketplace Of Words (Cambridge University

    Press, 2017), pp. 79, 95-6.

2. Mark Edwin Andrews, Law Versus Equity In The Merchant Of Venice (Boulder,

    Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 1965), passim.

3. Simon Miles, ‘Francis Bacon and The Merchant of Venice Part 1’ and ‘Francis

     Bacon and The Merchant of Venice Part 2’, ‘Francis Bacon and The Merchant of Venice

     Part 3’, www.fbrt.org,uk/videos. The meticulously researched lectures present extensive  

     original evidence and arguments revealing Bacon’s authorship of the play to which I    

     owe a great debt of gratitude.

4. Christina G. Waldman, Francis Bacons Hidden Hand In Shakespeares The Merchant

     Of Venice A Study Of Law, Rhetoric, And Authorship (New York: Algora Publishing,

     2018). This full-length work which explores the important authorship issues of The

     Merchant of Venice supported by a thorough and detailed bibliographical apparatus is an

     indispensable read for all serious scholars and students of the play to which I am greatly

     indebted. For a revealing esoteric reading see Peter Dawkins, Shakespeares Wisdom in

     The Merchant of Venice (Warwickshire: I C Media Productions, 1998) and Sir George

     Trevelyan, ‘The Merchant Of Venice An Interpretation In The Light Of The Holistic

     World View’, in Baconiana, Vol. LXIV No. 181 November 1981, pp. 63-82.

 5. Christina G. Waldman, Francis Bacons Hidden Hand In Shakespeares The Merchant

     Of Venice A Study Of Law, Rhetoric, And Authorship (New York: Algora Publishing,

     2018), p. 6. For some of Christina's discussions of Bellario, see especially, pp. 33-6,


6. Ibid., p. 6.

7. Ibid., pp. 7-8.






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Thank you for mentioning my book, A Phoenix, which began as an attempt to review Mark Edwin Andrews' Law versus Equity (added 5-31-22: which can be read on loan from the Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/lawversusequityi00andr). To be clear, Mark Edwin Andrews was a law student who stated outright he was a Stratfordian when, for a summer Shakespeare course he was taking in 1935, he wrote the manuscript which was published in 1965 by the University of Colorado Press as Law versus Equity in The Merchant of Venice: A Legalization of Act IV, Scene 1. During his lifetime, Andrews had worked as a law instructor and industrialist and was assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy to President Truman for three years. In his well-researched book, Andrews did make Bacon "Bellario," in his paraphrase in modern English courtroom language of Act IV, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice (Part 1, pp 1-16. Part II consists of his well-researched notes, pp 19-73, with appendices). He tells us he did this primarily because Bacon "played," in real life (twenty years after the play was thought to have been written in 1596-97), a "Bellario" role to King James's "Duke" in an actual 1616 legal case.  Andrews even compares the language in the Order Bacon wrote in the actual case (the text of which he provides) with Portia's famous "quality of mercy" speech (long note 16, 34-41, esp. 40-41; also see 52, 53, nn 36, 37). 

Also, Andrews marvels (as do the rest of us) at the playwright's accurate use of a great number of precise legal terms of art. He can't logically explain Bacon's behind-the-scenes "presence" in the play (just as Bellario never appears on stage). He says, the mental seeds in one brain (Bacon's) took root in the other's ("the mind of the country boy from Stratford") and that one "seer" would recognize another in any age (p. 45). These are remarkable statements from a professed "Stratfordian"!

B. J. and Mark Sokol were dismissive of Andrews's book in two brief paragraphs in their article, "Shakespeare and the English Equity Jurisdiction: The Merchant of Venice and the Two Texts of King Lear (The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 50, no 200 (1999), 417-439) (calling his trial scene rewrite "highly fanciful" and accusing him of "showing off a wide knowledge of legal history"--showing off?), as was Harvard law professor John P. Dawson who dismissed Andrews’ book as a “youthful escapade. . . .Though no new light is cast on Shakespeare, it must have been fun at the time” (Shakespeare Quarterly 18, no. 1, Winter, 1967, pages 89–90, https://doi.org/10.2307/2868078). Yet U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harlan F. Stone, in 1937, wrote, "Often, in listening to The Merchant of Venice, it has occurred to me that Shakespeare knew the essentials of the contemporary conflict between law and equity. But until I read your manuscript I had never realized how completely the play harmonized with recognized court procedure of the time. You have done an admirable piece of work ...." (ix). One thing Andrews surely wanted to pass on was Shakespeare's (the Duke's) exhortation to "do equity" (Conclusion, p. 77).

I hear you saying, A Phoenix, that Antonio and Bassanio could be seen as Anthony and Bacon, the Bacon brothers. I do not disagree. I think a playwright puts at least a little of himself into each character he/she/they creates. I've heard it said that it is the same when a person dreams. I also think there are levels of interpretation with this play and one can take you to the next. Would you agree? It is a code, of sorts. After writing my book, I've continued to research the play. My new working theory is that Bellario could "stand for" Robert Bellarmine and Shylock could "stand for" Giordano Bruno.

Shylock could simply be "Sh! Lock!" because no one would speak of him in England after he left, as Hilary Gatti has observed, due to his suspect religious and scientific views. Sometimes things can be hidden so well just under the surface. Bruno was a scientific philosopher, poet, and playwright, and defrocked priest who had lived and lectured in England from 1583-86, ending up in Venice in 1592, where he was imprisoned that year by the Inquisition. In 1593, he was moved to Rome for his Inquisition trial (in 1599). His books were banned in 1597.  https://www.famous-trials.com/bruno/261-home. Books: Ingrid D. Rowland, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008) and Hilary Gatti, The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge: Giordano Bruno in England (Routledge, 2013) (Hilary Gatti has a new book out on Bruno, 2021, https://independent.academia.edu/HilaryGatti.). Bacon through top intelligence channels would have been in a strong position to know what was happening with Bruno. This is my theory I am exploring.

(Added 5-31-22. I would go as far as to say that Shakespeare (among other things) was dramatizing a conflict between the concepts of law and equity. A Phoenix rightly insists that Andrews emphasized, in his imaginative prose dramatization of Act IV, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice, the jurisdictional conflict between the English courts of law and equity (which came to a head in 1616 with Bacon heading the committee that advised King James). If, as Andrews suggests, the seeds for The Merchant of Venice were planted in Bacon's brain and took root in Shakespeare's (now how does that happen?), the seeds to learn more about equity as a concept were planted in my brain by reading Andrews' book in the year or so before I attended law school. 

Bacon wrote that equity was a component of every law.  Wow! He also said, "Certainly it partakes of a higher science to comprehend the force of equity that has suffused and penetrated the very nature of human society."

Why would he have buried the names of twelfth century Italian civilian jurists who wrote about higher concepts of law in The Merchant of Venice, as I think he did? Partly, of course, because England was a predominantly common-law country, and the civil law was foreign, (as I said above). Did Portia "stand for" Azolinus Portius ("Azo"), Nerissa for Irnerius, Bassiano for Bassanius, Gratianus standing for Gratian, Shylock as Accursius, Stephano for Stephen of Tournai? Did the author of The Merchant of Venice contemplate embedding ("couching") the names of these men into his play so that their teachings would not be forgotten? I do think so. (see chs 9 and 10 of my book, Francis Bacon's Hidden Hand in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice). In fact, there is a new book, Law and the Christian Tradition in Italy: The Legacy of the Great Jurists (London: Routledge, 2020, https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003014539 ) which gives the biographies of these men.

Andrews was writing his manuscript in 1935 (published in 1965) just one year after Congress had passed a statute authorizing the U.S. Supreme Court to unite the court rules of law and equity, leading to new rules of federal civil procedure passed in 1938, applicable to cases both at law and equity (Henry L. McClintock, Handbook of the Principles of Equity, 2d ed. (St. Paul: West, 1948), 14. Almost every one of the fifty states has merged their courts of law and equity (jurisdictionally). In 1948, McClintock wrote, "The only hope for the preservation of equity lies in a continuous study of it as a system based on fundamental conceptions, but applied in all of the various fields of law." (p. 19).

Equity as a concept is not just some relic from the past, but something integral to a conception of justice as fair in the Anglo-American legal system. And that is why The Merchant of Venice is important, and why Andrews' book matters most (see his "Conclusion"), in my opinion.

(McClintock, 1948, gave two definitions for equity that are still valid (though there are other definitions): "(a) In the general juristic sense, equity means the power to meet the moral demands of justice in a particular case by a tribunal having discretion to mitigate the rigidity of the application of strict rules of law so as to adapt the relief to the circumstances of the particular case; and (b) In Anglo-American law, equity means the system of legal materials developed and applied by the courts of chancery in England and the courts succeeding to its powers in the British Empire and the United States." p. 1.))

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In the above post Christina points out that Mark Andrews in his Law Versus Equity in The Merchant of Venice substitutes Bacon for Dr Bellario in Act 4 Scene I of the play transferring the trial scene from Venice into an English courtroom. For those who do not possess a copy of his work I here provide an edited version of the trial scene below.

In his work Law Versus Equity in The Merchant of Venice as its title indicates Mark Edwin Andrews reads the play as an allegory of the conflict between law and equity. He argues that when the trial scene is read with legal and equitable principles in mind it divides into four parts. The first part begins with the first line spoken by the Duke ‘What, is Antonio here?’ (4:1:1) and ends with his announcement ‘Upon my power I may dismiss this court,/Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,/Whom I have sent for to determine this,/Come here today’ (4:1:103-6). The second begins with the admission of Portia commencing with the Duke’s words ‘Come you from Padua, from Bellario?’ (4:1:118) and ‘ends with the final common law judgement in rem’ prepared by Portia for the court ‘A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine./The court awards it, and the law doth give it’ (4:1:296-7). ‘Prior to this part of the trial scene’, continues Andrews, ‘the terms used, the procedure, and the law applied have all been a part of the common law of the Court of the King’s Bench, of Elizabethan England when the play was written.’ The third part commences with Portia’s injunction ‘Tarry a little. There is something else./This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood./The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh’’ (4:1:302-5) and ends with her striking caveat ‘Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture/To be so taken at thy peril, Jew’ (4:1:340-1). With Andrews stating ‘In this part, for the first time, the principles, the procedure, and the maxims of equity, in a Court of Chancery, are used exclusively.’1 The fourth part commences when Portia repeats her earlier injunction to Shylock ‘Tarry, Jew./The law hath yet another hold on you’ (4:1:343-4). In the fourth part, concludes Andrews, ‘Shakespeare uses all of the devices of equity and the Court of Chancery to have mercy season justice.’2 The latter previously headed by Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon and later by his son Lord Chancellor of England Francis Bacon, the concealed author of The Merchant of Venice.  

The Duke says that he will dismiss the court unless Dr Bellario a learned doctor of law for whom he has sent to determine the case arrives today. It is at this point Andrews in his Law Versus Equity in The Merchant of Venice juxtaposes a prose version alongside the text of the play where he substitutes Bacon for Dr Bellario:

The Court.  The court will reserve decision                  Duke. Upon my power I may dismiss

                    of this case until I have heard a                            this court/Unless Bellario, a

                    lawyer from Cambridge, whom I                         learned doctor/Whom I have

                    have called as Amicus Curiae in this                    sent for to determine this,/Come

                    case and whom I expect here today.                     here today.

                    This lawyer is Sir Francis Bacon, with         [The Merchant of Venice: 4:1:103-5]

                    whom I do not always agree but for

                    whose legal ability I have the most

                    profound respect. This is a novel case,

                    involving a very important legal problem.

                    I desire to have the points thoroughly

                    briefed and argued before reaching a

                    conclusion. I do not want either of the

                    parties to this suit to be able to sue out a

                    bill in a court of equity and obtain there a

                    decree which the Exchequer Chamber might



Clerk of the Court. Your Honor, there is a messenger   Salerio. My lord, here stays without/  

                              outside with a letter from the             A messenger with letters from the   

                              lawyer from Cambridge.                    doctor,/New come from Padua.

                                                                                     [The Merchant of Venice: 4:1:106-8]


The Court.   Bring us the letters! Call the                    The Duke. Bring us the letters./Call the                          

                     messenger!                                                      messenger.

                                                                                       [The Merchant of Venice: 4:1:109]


                Enter Law Clerk.                                 Enter Nerissa [dressed like a lawyer’s clerk]. 


The Court. Are you from Cambridge-from          Duke.  Came you from Padua, from Bellario? 


                                                                              Nerissa. From both, my lord, Bellario greets

Law Clerk.  I am from Cambridge, your                              your grace [presenting a letter].

                    Honor, and I bring you the                   [The Merchant of Venice: 4:1:118-9]

                    respects and a letter from

                    my lord, Sir Francis Bacon.


The Court. This letter from Bacon recommends    Duke. This letter from Bellario doth 

                   a learned young lawyer to the court               commend/A young and learned            

                   Where is he?                                                   doctor to our court. Where is he?

Law Clerk. He awaits your permission to               Nerissa. He attendeth here hard by/To

                   practice before this court for he                       know your answer, whether

                   has never been admitted here.                          you’ll will admit him.


The Court. I will admit him. Present him to             Duke. With all my heart. Some three or

                   the court. Let me hear the letter.                      four of you/Go give him

                   Bacon was the Amicus Curiae                          courteous conduct to this place.

                   for whom I sent. If he commends                [The Merchant of Venice: 4:1:142-47]

                   his learning, this young lawyer

                   must be as quick and sharp as the

                   thrust of a spear.


[The Court then reads the following letter         Meantime the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.

  from Sir Francis Bacon:]                                   (Reads) ‘Your grace shall understand that at  

  “Your grace shall understand, that at the           the receipt of your letter I am very sick….’

  receipt of your letter I am very sick: but                 [The Merchant of Venice: 4:1:148-63]

  in the instant that your messenger came,

  in loving visitation was with me a young

  doctor of Rome; his name is Balthasar. I

  acquainted him with the cause in controversy

  between the Jew and Antonio the merchant:

  we turned o’er many books together: he is

  furnished with my opinion; which, bettered

  with his own earning, the greatness whereof I

  cannot enough commend, comes with him, at

  my importunity, to fill up your grace’s request

  in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years

  be no impediment to let him lack a reverend

  estimation; for I never knew so young a body

  with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious

  acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his



            Enter Young Lawyer.                                         Enter Portia dressed like a doctor

                                                                                                   of laws.


 The Court. “You are welcome: take your place.             Duke. Are you acquainted with the 

 Are you fully acquainted with the case at bar?               difference/That holds this present

                                                                                          question in the court?


Young Lawyer. I am, your Honor, for Sir Francis            Portia. I am informed thoroughly of 

Bacon acquainted me “with the cause in                                      the cause.

controversy between the Jew and Antonio the                [The Merchant of Venice:4:1:168-70]   

 merchant….” He furnished me with his opinion.            

 Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?”3     


1. Mark Edwin Andrews, Law Versus Equity In The Merchant Of Venice (Boulder,

    Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 1965), pp. xiii-xiv. 

2. Ibid., p. xiv.

3. Ibid., pp. 5-7. Andrews was at pains to insist he was not a Baconian: ‘The introduction of

    Bacon as Amicus Curiae is not intended to aid and abet the advocates of the Baconian authorship

    of the plays. It should be clear from the tenor of this study that the writer is convinced of the identity

    of the “Man of Stratford” with the author of the Shakespearean canon. But, on the other hand, the

    introduction of Bacon as Amicus Curiae, who solves the conflict between “Law” and “Equity,” is intended

    to suggest the actual fact that it was Bacon’s destiny as a legal authority to solve the actual conflict which

    Portia solves in the play.’ (p. 43).


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The ‘To be or not to be’ speech in Hamlet about life and death is the most famous or well-known soliloquy in the history of world literature. Whereas what is virtually unknown is the numerous parallels between the Hamlet soliloquy and a wide range of Bacon’s works which have recently been impressively brought to the fore by Dr Clarke in the 2020 online edition of Baconiania:1  


Hamlet:                         To be, or not to be; that is the question

Abecedarium Naturae:      


                      we must institute an inquiry concerning Existence and Non-existence… 


Hamlet:                       The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune


Lord Bacons Prayer:


and ever as my worldly blessing were exalted, so secret darts [arrows] from thee have pierced me…3


De Augmentis Scientiarum:


               …the condition of man is mortal, and exposed to the blows of fortune…4



Hamlet:                  ’tis a consummation/Devoutly to be wished  


In Felicem Memoriam Elizabethae:


                    …others regarding it as the crown and consummation of felicity…5


Hamlet:                For who would bear the whips and scorns of time


The Wisdom of the Ancients:


                 …because business would expose them to many neglects and scorns…6


Hamlet:                              the proud man’s contumely


Of Superstition:


       And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men.7    


Hamlet:                                     the law’s delay


Of Judicature:


                     First, for the causes or parties that sue…delays make it sour. 8




                                When he himself might his quietus make


Letter to the Marquis of Buckingham:


Your last two acts which you did for me, in procuring the releasement of my fine and my Quietus est….9


Hamlet:                             To grunt and sweat under a weary life                  


De Augmentis Scientiarum:


…a man might wish to die, not only from fortitude or misery or wisdom, but merely from disgust and weariness of life.10


Hamlet:                     And makes us rather bear those ills we have     

                                  Than fly to others that we know not of

Of Death:


      Revenge triumphs over death; Love slights it; Honour aspireth to it; Grief flieth to it...11


Hamlet:                      And enterprises of great pith and moment


Advancement of Learning:


Aphorisms, except they should be ridiculous, cannot be made but of the pith and heart of sciences… 12


Hamlet:                       With this regard their currents turn awry,

                                    And lose the name of action


De Augmentis Scientiarum:


                                 …the courses and currents of actions…13   


A Brief Discourse Touching the Happy Union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland:


         And when a smaller river runs into a greater, it leeseth both the name and the stream.14  


1. Barry R. Clarke, ‘Parallels with the Hamlet soliloquy’, Baconiana, Vol. 1 No. 8,

   September, 2020, Online Journal of the Francis Bacon Society, pages unnumbered.

2. Spedding, Works, V, p. 209

3. Ibid., Letters and Life, VII, p. 230.

4. Ibid., Works, V, p. 11.

5. Ibid., Works, VI, p. 310.

6. Ibid., Works, VI, p. 705.

7. Ibid., Works, VI, p. 415.

8. Ibid., Works, VI, p. 507.

9 . Ibid., Letters and Life, VII, p. 316.

10. Ibid., Works, V, p. 11.

11. Ibid., Works, VI, p. 380.

12. Brian Vickers, ed., Francis Bacon A Critical Edition Of The Major Works (Oxford

     University Press, 1996), p. 234.

13. Spedding, Works, IV, p. 302.

14. Ibid., Letters and Life, III, p. 98.


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