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Mark Twain : Baconian


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"From away back toward the very beginning of the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy I have been on the Bacon side, and have wanted to see our majestic Shakespeare unhorsed. My reasons for this attitude may have been good, they may have been bad, but such as they were, they strongly influenced me."

-Mark Twain (1909)twain jpg.jpg

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1 hour ago, Lawrence Gerald said:

"From away back toward the very beginning of the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy I have been on the Bacon side, and have wanted to see our majestic Shakespeare unhorsed. My reasons for this attitude may have been good, they may have been bad, but such as they were, they strongly influenced me."

-Mark Twain (1909)twain jpg.jpg

I love this video so much and is usually one of the first references I send to the Shake-curious or new Baconians after a few SirBacon.org links:

 

 

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Good reference: If you can read this article by Michael Bristol, "Sir George Greenwood's Marginalia in the Folger Copy of Mark Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead?" Shakespeare Quarterly, vol 49, no 4 (Winter, 1998), 411-416, JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2902236, https://doi.org/10.2307/2902236. I currently cannot log in to JSTOR so have not read the article.

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3 hours ago, Christie Waldman said:

Good reference: If you can read this article by Michael Bristol, "Sir George Greenwood's Marginalia in the Folger Copy of Mark Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead?" Shakespeare Quarterly, vol 49, no 4 (Winter, 1998), 411-416, JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2902236, https://doi.org/10.2307/2902236. I currently cannot log in to JSTOR so have not read the article.

I can't read it either, Christie, but the abstract sounds fascinating.

IS SHAKESPEARE DEAD?IS MARK TWAIN'S LAST BOOK, originally published in 1909. Its subtitle is "From My Autobiography," though this reference is decidedly misleading. What Twain alludes to here is not a finished or even partly finished autobiographical work, for in fact no such text exists. He means rather that everything a writer does, including life-long habits of introspection and self-reflection, constitute an "autobiography." At this point I should acknowledge my own credulity not only in believing that Is Shakespeare Dead? really was originally part of a larger work but in actually including this allegation in my own Big-Time Shakespeare.1 There's a very interesting irony here, since one of Twain's recurrent themes in this work is the naive faith that scholars are willing to place in the assertions of authors. The "autobiography" is in fact devoted almost exclusively to an extended discussion of the question of Shakespeare's authorship. Twain's narrative is indebted to the work of Sir George Greenwood, "M.P. of the Middle Temple, Barrister-at-Law," and author of The Shakespeare Problem Restated along with other works on the controversy of Shakespeare's authorship. Greenwood distinguished between "Shakespere," the man from the rural backwater of Stratford, and "Shakespeare," the actual author of the plays.2 According to Sir George, the Stratford bumpkin "Shakespere" could not have been the author of "Shakespeare's" works; "Shakespeare" is merely a pseudonym for someone whose identity remains unknown. Greenwood achieved recognition as a serious scholar because he was extremely reticent about declaring who the author of the plays really was. He did not give unequivocal support to the notion, first advanced in 1857 by Delia Bacon, that "Shakespeare" was in fact Sir Francis Bacon. He concentrated instead on building the strongest possible case against the claims of "Shakespere" the Stratford man. The Shakespeare Problem Restated shifts the burden of proof to supporters of the traditional view that William Shakespeare of Stratford is indeed the sole author of the plays attributed to him in the early published texts. Greenwood takes enormous pains to show that the evidence for the Stratfordian claim cannot sustain a legal burden of proof and that some other person must therefore have written the plays. There is something very strange about Mark Twain's decision to make this arcane "scholarly" controversy the central topic of his "autobiography."

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Sir-George-Greenwood's-Marginalia-in-the-Folger-of-Bristol/f763d4271ee0c0627366664e95f5aed8598c798c

 

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IS SHAKESPEARE DEAD?

I've read it, more than once, and I am not a reader usually. Mark Twain leans Baconian, but never takes a position. Yet it is one of my favorite Stratfordian questioning statements. I get so excited as I love his style! Everytime! 🙂

If you haven't read it, here is a link:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2431/2431-h/2431-h.htm

Skipping through it brings back memories. Maybe it is dated, but it is so fun.

Maybe I'll look at the JSTOR article since I think I pay every year, but I already know and love this powerful work by Sam CLEMENS. If you have never read it, you should.

Maybe just one chapter? 😉

CHAPTER IX

Did Francis Bacon write Shakespeare’s Works?

Nobody knows.

We cannot say we know a thing when that thing has not been proved.  Know is too strong a word to use when the evidence is not final and absolutely conclusive.  We can infer, if we want to, like those slaves . . . No, I will not write that word, it is not kind, it is not courteous.  The upholders of the Stratford-Shakespeare superstition call us the hardest names they can think of, and they keep doing it all the time; very well, if they like to descend to that level, let them do it, but I will not so undignify myself as to follow them.  I cannot call them harsh names; the most I can do is to indicate them by terms reflecting my disapproval; and this without malice, without venom.

To resume.  What I was about to say, was, those thugs have built their entire superstition upon inferences, not upon known and established facts.  It is a weak method, and poor, and I am glad to be able to say our side never resorts to it while there is anything else to resort to.

But when we must, we must; and we have now arrived at a place of that sort.

Since the Stratford Shakespeare couldn’t have written the Works, we infer that somebody did.  Who was it, then?  This requires some more inferring.

Ordinarily when an unsigned poem sweeps across the continent like a tidal wave, whose roar and boom and thunder are made up of admiration, delight and applause, a dozen obscure people rise up and claim the authorship.  Why a dozen, instead of only one or two?  One reason is, because there’s a dozen that are recognizably competent to do that poem.  Do you remember “Beautiful Snow”?  Do you remember “Rock Me to Sleep, Mother, Rock Me to Sleep”?  Do you remember “Backward, turn backward, O Time, in thy flight!  Make me a child again just for to-night”?  I remember them very well.  Their authorship was claimed by most of the grown-up people who were alive at the time, and every claimant had one plausible argument in his favor, at least: to wit, he could have done the authoring; he was competent.

Have the Works been claimed by a dozen?  They haven’t.  There was good reason.  The world knows there was but one man on the planet at the time who was competent—not a dozen, and not two.  A long time ago the dwellers in a far country used now and then to find a procession of prodigious footprints stretching across the plain—footprints that were three miles apart, each footprint a third of a mile long and a furlong deep, and with forests and villages mashed to mush in it.  Was there any doubt as to who had made that mighty trail?  Were there a dozen claimants?  Were there two?  No—the people knew who it was that had been along there: there was only one Hercules.

There has been only one Shakespeare.  There couldn’t be two; certainly there couldn’t be two at the same time.  It takes ages to bring forth a Shakespeare, and some more ages to match him.  This one was not matched before his time; nor during his time; and hasn’t been matched since.  The prospect of matching him in our time is not bright.

The Baconians claim that the Stratford Shakespeare was not qualified to write the Works, and that Francis Bacon was.  They claim that Bacon possessed the stupendous equipment—both natural and acquired—for the miracle; and that no other Englishman of his day possessed the like; or, indeed, anything closely approaching it.

Macaulay, in his Essay, has much to say about the splendor and horizonless magnitude of that equipment.  Also, he has synopsized Bacon’s history: a thing which cannot be done for the Stratford Shakespeare, for he hasn’t any history to synopsize.  Bacon’s history is open to the world, from his boyhood to his death in old age—a history consisting of known facts, displayed in minute and multitudinous detail; facts, not guesses and conjectures and might-have-beens.

Whereby it appears that he was born of a race of statesmen, and had a Lord Chancellor for his father, and a mother who was “distinguished both as a linguist and a theologian: she corresponded in Greek with Bishop Jewell, and translated his Apologia from the Latin so correctly that neither he nor Archbishop Parker could suggest a single alteration.”  It is the atmosphere we are reared in that determines how our inclinations and aspirations shall tend.  The atmosphere furnished by the parents to the son in this present case was an atmosphere saturated with learning; with thinkings and ponderings upon deep subjects; and with polite culture.  It had its natural effect.  Shakespeare of Stratford was reared in a house which had no use for books, since its owners, his parents, were without education.  This may have had an effect upon the son, but we do not know, because we have no history of him of an informing sort.  There were but few books anywhere, in that day, and only the well-to-do and highly educated possessed them, they being almost confined to the dead languages.  “All the valuable books then extant in all the vernacular dialects of Europe would hardly have filled a single shelf”—imagine it!  The few existing books were in the Latin tongue mainly.  “A person who was ignorant of it was shut out from all acquaintance—not merely with Cicero and Virgil, but with the most interesting memoirs, state papers, and pamphlets of his own time”—a literature necessary to the Stratford lad, for his fictitious reputation’s sake, since the writer of his Works would begin to use it wholesale and in a most masterly way before the lad was hardly more than out of his teens and into his twenties.

At fifteen Bacon was sent to the university, and he spent three years there.  Thence he went to Paris in the train of the English Ambassador, and there he mingled daily with the wise, the cultured, the great, and the aristocracy of fashion, during another three years.  A total of six years spent at the sources of knowledge; knowledge both of books and of men.  The three spent at the university were coeval with the second and last three spent by the little Stratford lad at Stratford school supposedly, and perhapsedly, and maybe, and by inference—with nothing to infer from.  The second three of the Baconian six were “presumably” spent by the Stratford lad as apprentice to a butcher.  That is, the thugs presume it—on no evidence of any kind.  Which is their way, when they want a historical fact.  Fact and presumption are, for business purposes, all the same to them.  They know the difference, but they also know how to blink it.  They know, too, that while in history-building a fact is better than a presumption, it doesn’t take a presumption long to bloom into a fact when they have the handling of it.  They know by old experience that when they get hold of a presumption-tadpole he is not going to stay tadpole in their history-tank; no, they know how to develop him into the giant four-legged bullfrog of fact, and make him sit up on his hams, and puff out his chin, and look important and insolent and come-to-stay; and assert his genuine simon-pure authenticity with a thundering bellow that will convince everybody because it is so loud.  The thug is aware that loudness convinces sixty persons where reasoning convinces but one.  I wouldn’t be a thug, not even if—but never mind about that, it has nothing to do with the argument, and it is not noble in spirit besides.  If I am better than a thug, is the merit mine?  No, it is His.  Then to Him be the praise.  That is the right spirit.

They “presume” the lad severed his “presumed” connection with the Stratford school to become apprentice to a butcher.  They also “presume” that the butcher was his father.  They don’t know.  There is no written record of it, nor any other actual evidence.  If it would have helped their case any, they would have apprenticed him to thirty butchers, to fifty butchers, to a wilderness of butchers—all by their patented method “presumption.”  If it will help their case they will do it yet; and if it will further help it, they will “presume” that all those butchers were his father.  And the week after, they will say it.  Why, it is just like being the past tense of the compound reflexive adverbial incandescent hypodermic irregular accusative Noun of Multitude; which is father to the expression which the grammarians call Verb.  It is like a whole ancestry, with only one posterity.

To resume.  Next, the young Bacon took up the study of law, and mastered that abstruse science.  From that day to the end of his life he was daily in close contact with lawyers and judges; not as a casual onlooker in intervals between holding horses in front of a theatre, but as a practicing lawyer—a great and successful one, a renowned one, a Launcelot of the bar, the most formidable lance in the high brotherhood of the legal Table Round; he lived in the law’s atmosphere thenceforth, all his years, and by sheer ability forced his way up its difficult steeps to its supremest summit, the Lord Chancellorship, leaving behind him no fellow craftsman qualified to challenge his divine right to that majestic place.

When we read the praises bestowed by Lord Penzance and the other illustrious experts upon the legal condition and legal aptnesses, brilliances, profundities and felicities so prodigally displayed in the Plays, and try to fit them to the history-less Stratford stage-manager, they sound wild, strange, incredible, ludicrous; but when we put them in the mouth of Bacon they do not sound strange, they seem in their natural and rightful place, they seem at home there.  Please turn back and read them again.  Attributed to Shakespeare of Stratford they are meaningless, they are inebriate extravagancies—intemperate admirations of the dark side of the moon, so to speak; attributed to Bacon, they are admirations of the golden glories of the moon’s front side, the moon at the full—and not intemperate, not overwrought, but sane and right, and justified.  “At every turn and point at which the author required a metaphor, simile or illustration, his mind ever turned first to the law; he seems almost to have thought in legal phrases; the commonest legal phrases, the commonest of legal expressions were ever at the end of his pen.”  That could happen to no one but a person whose trade was the law; it could not happen to a dabbler in it.  Veteran mariners fill their conversation with sailor-phrases and draw all their similes from the ship and the sea and the storm, but no mere passenger ever does it, be he of Stratford or elsewhere; or could do it with anything resembling accuracy, if he were hardy enough to try.  Please read again what Lord Campbell and the other great authorities have said about Bacon when they thought they were saying it about Shakespeare of Stratford.

 

I have posted this video I bet 33 times by now! LOL

 

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Reading the article, being totally exhausted and tired I am not able to comprehend much. It's not right for me to copy/paste the conclusion or intro as it is a subscription, but I can share a paragraph. Don't ask me what it means tonight. 🙂

image.png.75427a7fa628a553438531ae0155c905.png

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For those interested, I have now read this article on JSTOR, "Sir George Greenwood's Marginalia in the Folger Copy of Mark Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead?" by Michael D. Bristol in the Shakespeare Quarterly vol 49, no 4 (Winter, 1998), 411-416. An independent reader (like me) could read it once without subscription or payment. After that, the little arrow would not go in reverse so I could not read the story again that way, but I was able to create a folder and save it, and read it again from the folder. I did not try to print or download. Sometimes you can do those things there.

Chapter 8 of Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead? book ("Shakespeare as a Lawyer") is actually ("borrowed") Greenwood's chapter 13 from his The Shakespeare Problem Restated. (same chapter heading I assume). In his book, Twain included a footnote that said "From chapter 13 of The Shakespeare Problem Restated, but he did not give Greenwood's name or publication info. It wasn't "from" it, though; it was it. And he had not asked Greenwood for permission, according to Greenwood's marginal note in his own copy of Twain's book (now in the Folger). 

This was in 1909 and Twain died the next year, April 21, 1910, with Halley's comet (April 9 to April 20). Greenwood let it go. He was busy responding to Beeching and Wallace in their ongoing battle about Shakespeare authorship. Twain and Greenwood were on the same side.

I thought Bristol was hard on Twain. In Twain's defense, perhaps the publisher is to blame. Twain was older and may have been failing health-wise. No, he did not do it as he should have, but he did credit the chapter and book. I don't think he was trying to fool anyone and take credit for something he did not write.   

Anyway, that's what the article was about. It's an interesting "footnote," not much more, in my opinion.

 

Edited by Christie Waldman
added word "not" for clarity in first paragraph.
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2 hours ago, Christie Waldman said:

For those interested, I have now read this article on JSTOR, "Sir George Greenwood's Marginalia in the Folger Copy of Mark Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead?" by Michael D. Bristol in the Shakespeare Quarterly vol 49, no 4 (Winter, 1998), 411-416. An independent reader (like me) could read it once without subscription or payment. After that, the little arrow would not go in reverse so I could not read the story again that way, but I was able to create a folder and save it, and read it again from the folder. I did not try to print or download. Sometimes you can do those things there.

Chapter 8 of Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead? book ("Shakespeare as a Lawyer") is actually ("borrowed") Greenwood's chapter 13 from his The Shakespeare Problem Restated. (same chapter heading I assume). In his book, Twain included a footnote that said "From chapter 13 of The Shakespeare Problem Restated, but he did not give Greenwood's name or publication info. It wasn't "from" it, though; it was it. And he had not asked Greenwood for permission, according to Greenwood's marginal note in his own copy of Twain's book (now in the Folger). 

This was in 1909 and Twain died the next year, April 21, 1910, with Halley's comet (April 9 to April 20). Greenwood let it go. He was busy responding to Beeching and Wallace in their ongoing battle about Shakespeare authorship. Twain and Greenwood were on the same side.

I thought Bristol was hard on Twain. In Twain's defense, perhaps the publisher is to blame. Twain was older and may have been failing health-wise. No, he did not do it as he should have, but he did credit the chapter and book. I don't think he was trying to fool anyone and take credit for something he did not write.   

Anyway, that's what the article was about. It's an interesting "footnote," not much more, in my opinion.

 

But Twain is not here to defend himself. 🙂

1909 is 300 years after 1609. Did you pick up on any Rosicrucian or Freemason type hints?

He wrote, "Shakespeare's America, America's Shakespeare"? Not knowing how much they are intertwined?

Who is this guy?

Thank you for reading and sharing!

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20 hours ago, Light-of-Truth said:

But Twain is not here to defend himself. 🙂

1909 is 300 years after 1609. Did you pick up on any Rosicrucian or Freemason type hints?

He wrote, "Shakespeare's America, America's Shakespeare"? Not knowing how much they are intertwined?

Who is this guy?

Thank you for reading and sharing!

I am the wrong person to ask about Rosicrucian or Freemason hints, for I would not know what to look for. I had not heard of that book, "Shakespeare's America, America's America."

But, this morning, I was looking at Contested Will (2010) by James Shapiro (p. 138), trying to find a particular reference, and he gave details Bristol left out. Bristol (in 198) said Greenwood had just let the matter go, but Shapiro said the newspapers reported the matter of his plagiarism of Greenwood and it became a minor scandal. Ultimately, Twain was required to insert an extra page in his book with a copyright notice stating "Chapter VIII, Shakespeare as a Lawyer, is taken from The Shakespeare Problem Restated by George G. Greenwood." Bristol did not mention this. He only mentioned crediting the chapter and book, without the author's name, in the footnote in the original publication.

Shapiro reports that Twain wrote in a private letter to John Macy (who married Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher) who had given him Greenwood's book that he had "stolen meat enough from it to stuff yards and yards of sausage-gut in my vast autobiography and make it look like my own .... really the gut is mine." How could he even say such a thing? But he said it in a private letter. His copy of Greenwood's book even shows Twain's margin notations to start lifting text on p. 371 and stop 16 pages later (Shapiro, 138). But, he never said it was his own work. He did have the footnote with the chapter and book reference, even though it left off Greenwood's name.

I have read before, though, about other incidences where he was accused of plagiarism and protested that he had not done so intentionally, that he couldn't explain how it happened; it must have been by telepathy! I think Oliver Wendell Holmes was another victim of his "plagiarism." I love Mark Twain, but he was only human, and this was in 1909, with him dying in April 1910.

These are the only sources I have read on this. In past reading, I have disagreed with Shapiro on various points he makes in Contested Will, but he does have a 3-page biographical essay on sources he consulted on Twain, and a lot of those sources are related to Is Shakespeare Dead? (pp. 300-302). 

Edited by Christie Waldman
died in 1910 not 2010! & added mention of Shakespeare's America, America's America
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8 hours ago, Christie Waldman said:

I have read before, though, about other incidences where he was accused of plagiarism and protested that he had not done so intentionally, that he couldn't explain how it happened; it must have been by telepathy! I think Oliver Wendell Holmes was another victim of his "plagiarism." I love Mark Twain, but he was only human, and this was in 1909, with him dying in April 1910.

What a strange thing for him to do! Wonder what he was thinking. LOL

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11 minutes ago, Christie Waldman said:

Chantel Tottoli, 8/5/2020. Mark Twain's Mind Waves is pretty good reading. I see there are other articles.

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/08/25/mark-twains-mind-waves/

From that article:

Three years before his heart attack, in 1907, he wrote that “inventions, ideas, phrases, paragraphs, chapters, and even entire books” could all flow brain to brain. He said, resigned, “I often originate ideas in my mind but get almost all of them out of somebody else’s.” The inevitability of unintentional plagiarism bothered him. In November of 1907, Twain heard about a new story by George Bernard Shaw. It echoed in both style and substance one he’d composed seventeen years earlier—“hilarious and extravagant to the verge of impropriety,” and unread by anyone, because Livy would not let it print. Twain concluded that “Mr. Shaw must have gotten those incidents out of my head…”

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I have always believed Twain on this because he always sounded so sincere. Maybe not about his borrowing from Greenwood, though. Because Twain did not have the knowledge of law. And he pretty much admitted he "borrowed" from Greenwood. But he did give him some credit initially with his footnote. It was in the year before Twain died. I'd be willing to cut him a little slack.

Edited by Christie Waldman
to make it sound more clear
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