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The First Play of Francis Bacon-Shakespeare Written When he was Seven years old

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FRANCIS BACON WAS A UNIQUE CHILD PRODIGY THE GREATEST YOUNG GENIUS THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN.                                                                            

                                                                                      Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.

                                                                                                    [Aristotle, The Philosophy of Aristotle]

His first, and childish, years, were not without some Mark of Eminency; At which Time, he was endued, with that Pregnancy and towardness, of Wit; As they were Presages, of that Deep, and Universall, Apprehension, which was manifest in him, afterward.

[William Rawley, ed., Resuscitatio, Or, Bringing into Publick Light Several Pieces, Of The Works, Civil, Historical, Philosophical, & Theological, Hitherto Sleeping; Of the Right Honourable Francis Bacon (London: printed by Sarah Griffin for William Lee, 1657), B2r] 

He had a large mind from his father, and great abilities from his mother; his parts improved more than his years: his great, fixed, and methodical memory, his solid judgment, his quick fancy, his ready expression, gave high assurance of that profound and universal knowledge and comprehension of things which then rendered him the observation of great and wise men, and afterwards the wonder of all…At twelve, his industry was above the capacity, and his mind above the reach of his contemporaries. 

[David Lloyd, State Worthies: Or, The Statesmen and Favourites Of England, ed., By Charles Whitworth (London: printed for J. Robson, 1746), II, ‘Observations on the Life of Sir Francis Bacon’, pp. 118-9]

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The play written by Bacon when he was only seven years old was placed on the Stationers’ Register in circa September 1568 ‘Recevyd of John alde for his lycense for prynting of a play lyke Wyll to lyke quod the Deuell to the Collyer …iiijd’. It was first printed towards the end of 1568 by the printer John Allde to give it its full title as An Enterlude Intituled Like Wil to Like quod the Deuel to the Colier, very godly and full of pleasant mirth. Wherin is declared not onely what punishment followeth those that wil rather followe licentious liuing, then to esteem & followe good councel: and what great benefits and commodities they receiue that apply them unto vertuous liuing and good exercises. In Like Will to Like the young genius marked its true provenance with an anagram on the very first page of its text. It commences with the name of Lady Bacon’s favourite author Cicero in its first six lines (3+3=6 which when the numbers 3 and 3 are placed together they yield 33 Bacon in simple cipher) in its first paragraph as follows:  

                       CIcero in his book de amicitia these woords dooth expresse,

                          Saying nothing is more desirous then like is unto like

                          Whose woords are moste true & of a certaintie doutles:

                       For the vertuous doo not the vertuous company mislike.

                       But the vicious doo the vertuous company eschue:

                       And like wil unto like, this is moste true.

It will be observed that the first letters commencing the first six lines are C, S, W, F, B, A which form an anagram. Due to the deliberate formatting four letters F BAC are separated by the indenting of the other two lines. If we rearrange the four letters they alone spell out F BAC evidently a contraction of F. Bacon. Yet we need not solely rely on this contraction. The other two letters required to spell out F. Bacon the O and N are printed next to the F and A in the fourth and sixth lines respectively thus yielding F BACON in full. The other two remaining letters W and S numerically represent the equivalent of 21 and 18: 21+18=39 F. Bacon in simple cipher. The first line (not including ‘de amicitia’ which is in different type) comprises 39 letters again F. Bacon in simple cipher and the last line 33 letters Bacon in simple cipher which is the sixth line: 33+6=39 F. Bacon in simple cipher. The six line paragraph contains 56 words Fr. Bacon in simple cipher. The whole page itself comprises the header ‘The Prologue’ and 32 full lines of text: 1+32=33 Bacon in simple cipher. When this is added to the 3 letters in the signature (B. ii) and the 3 letters in the tail-word ‘And’: 33+3+3= 39 F. Bacon in simple cipher.

              A  B  C  D   E  F  G  H  I   K   L  M  N  O  P  Q   R  S   T  U  W  X   Y   Z

               1  2  3  4   5  6  7   8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

             B  A  C  O  N                 F.  B A C  O   N                  F  R  B A  C O   N

             2   1  3 14 13=33         6   2  1  3 14 13=39          6  17  2  1  3 14 13=56


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The morality play Like Will To Like is about good and evil and its central character is Newfangle the Vice. The dichotomy of good and evil or the colours of good and evil was later written large across the much more expansive canvass of his Shakespeare poems and plays and as pointed out by orthodox editors and scholars the figure of the Vice is refracted through various Shakespeare villains and characters i.e., Lucrece, Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus, Richard III, Don John in Much Ado About Nothing, Iago in Othello, etc, etc.

From his early days until his last the subject of good and evil profoundly engaged his vast intellect. Over the period of his lifetime Bacon assembled around a hundred of what he calls ‘Semblances or popularities of good and evill with their regulations for deliberacions’ in his Promus of Formularies and Elegancies (his private note-book) in which he jotted down thoughts and phrases some of which he later used in his acknowledged writings and his Shakespeare poems and plays.

When towards the end of his recorded life Bacon revised and greatly enlarged the Advancement for its Latin translation De Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX he makes an astonishing admission:

I have by me indeed a great many more Sophisms of the same kind, which I collected in my youth; but without their illustrations and answers, which I have not now the leisure to perfect; and to set forth the naked colours without their illustrations (especially as those above given appear in full dress) does not seem suitable. Be it observed in the meantime that this matter, whatever may be thought of it, seems to me of no small value; as that which participates of Primary Philosophy, of Politics, and of Rhetoric. And so much for the Popular Signs or Colours of Apparent Good and Evil, both simple and comparative.

[Spedding, Works, IV, p. 472]

The links between Like Will for Like and Twelfth Night, or What You Will are clear, numerous and manifest, and set in train a series of interlocking signs pointing towards a great historical truth hidden from the world for more than four hundred and fifty years. In the first of these the Vice-like figure of Sir Toby Belch in an exchange with Malvolio (as well as others) says:   

                     SIR TOBY  Ay, biddy, come with me. What man, ’tis not

                         for gravity to play at cherry-pit with Satan. Hang him,

                         foul collier.

                            [Twelfth Night, Or What You Will: 3:4:114-16]       

The above passage is furnished with the following Notes in the Arden, Cambridge and new Bloomsbury Arden edition of Twelfth Night, or What You Will:

foul collier] dirty coalman. Coalmen were proverbially associated with the devil for their blackness and dishonest dealing; cf. Tilley L287, which is also the title of Ulpian Fulwell’s play, Like Will to Like, quoth the Devil to the Collier, pr. 1568; it contains the lyric ‘Tom Collier of Croydon hath sold his coals,/And made his market today,/And now he danceth with the Devil,/For like will to like alway.’

[J. Lothian and T. W. Craik, ed., Twelfth Night (London: Methuen & Co Ltd., 1975), pp. 99-100]

foul collier i.e. ‘the fiend’ of 96, from the proverb (Tilley L 287) ‘Like will to like, quoth the devil to the collier.’ As a dealer in pit-coal, a collier was assumed to be like the devil, black in heart as well as in appearance. An interlude dating from 1568 by Ulpian Fulwell uses this proverb as its title…

[Elizabeth Story Donno, ed., Twelfth Night Or What You Will (Cambridge University Press, 1985, 2003), p. 124]

foul collier dirty coalman, with reference to the devil’s blackness. The association is proverbial: ‘Like will to like, quoth the devil to the collier’ (Dent. L 287), which is also the title of a 1568 play by Ulpian Fulwell.

[Keir Elam, ed., Twelfth Night, Or What You Will (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2008, 2016), p. 281]

In the play Feste agrees to fetch Malvolio some paper and ink before delivering the following song:  

                   FESTE                  I am gone , sir

                                                     And anon, sir,

                                                        Ill be with you again,

                                                     In a trice,

                                                     Like to the old Vice,

                                                        Your need to sustain,

                                                     Who with dagger of lath

                                                     In his rage and his wrath

                                                         Cries ‘Aha,’ to the devil,

                                                    Like a mad lad,

                                                    ‘Pare thy nails, dad,

                                                        Adieu, goodman devil.’

                                  [Twelfth Night, Or What You Will: 4:2:123-34] 

The song explicitly refers to the old Vice and his staple weapon the wooden dagger in the morality play, but not any old morality play, the one already very clearly signalled above, specifically, the morality play Like Will to Like.  in the closing song of Twelfth Night or What You Will Bacon reveals that when he was a young boy he wrote the morality play Like Will to Like:

                        FESTE (sings)

                                 When that I was and a little tiny boy,        

                                     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

                                 A foolish thing was but a toy,

                                     For the rain it raineth every day.

                                 But when I came to man’s estate,

                                     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

                                  ’Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,

                                      For the rain it raineth every day.


                                  But when I came, alas, to wive,

                                     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

                                  By swaggering could I never thrive,

                                      For the rain it raineth every day.


                                  But when I came unto my beds,

                                     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

                                  With tosspots still had drunken heads,

                                     For the rain it raineth every day.


                                   A great while ago the world begun,

                                       With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

                                   But that’s all one, our play is done,

                                       And we will strive to please you every day.

                              [Twelfth Night, Or What You Will: 5:1:385-404]

When I was a young boy I wrote a foolish thing but a toy (in his essay Of Masques and Triumphs Bacon begins ‘These things are but toys’) about knaves and thieves (the characters in Like Will to Like) one of whom was the swaggering Newfangle the Vice, a play which included tosspots with drunken heads Ralfe Roister and Tom Tosspot, and others led astray by the Vice where like attracted like in a play called Like Will to Like.      

 'Francis Bacon’s authorship of the play Like Will to Like written when he was only seven years old.'



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