Some Acrostic Signatures of Francis Bacon

Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Alban


Together With Some Others
All Of Which Are Now For The
First Time Deciphered And Published


William Stone Booth


Boston And New York

Houghton Mifflin Company

The Riverside Press Cambridge





I. At The Outset


II. The Users of Ciphers


III. Anonymity and Pseudonymity


IV. Method


V. Practical Specimens of Acrostics And Structural Signatures


Part II. Signatures of Francis And Anthony Bacon, Which Appeared In Works Originally Published Anonymously, Or Over The Names Of Other Men: Together With A Few Names Which Have Been Found Woven Into Some Occasional Verse Of Elizabethan And Jocobean Times

VI. The Arte Of English Poesie--The Partheniades


VII. Venus And Adonis--Lucrece--Shakespeare's Sonnets--The Passionate Pilgrim--A Lover's Complaint--Poems Written by Wil. Shake-Speare. Gent--The Phoenix And The Turtle


VIII. 'Doubtful' Plays--Pericles, Prince of Tyre--Two Noble Kinsmen


IX. Plays Which Have Appeared Anonymously, Or Over The Name Of Christopher Marlowe--Tamburlaine The Greate--The Famous Tragedy Of The Rich Jew Of Malta


X. England's Helicon--Palladis Palatium


XI. Some Poems Which Have Appeared Under The Name Of Edmund Spenser: And Some Prose Which Has Been Attributed To Edward Kirke


XII. Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, And Tragedies, Which Have Been Assigned To The Actor William Shakspere(First Folio Edition)


XIII. Richard II, Quarto, 1597. Romeo And Juliet, Quartos, 1597 And 1599, Compared With Folio Of 1623. Richard III, Quartos, 1597 And 1602. Titus Andriconicus, Quarto, 1600. Hamlet Quartos, 1603 And 1604. Othello, Quarto, 1622


XIV. Acrostics Made In An Identical Way, By John Milton, Ben Jonson, Joesph Hall, And (?) Richard Barnfield


XV. Instances Of Work Acknowledged By Francis Bacon In Which Similar Acrostic Signatures Are Found Constructed By The Same Method As Are Those Which Have Preceded







I. Furthur Remarks On False Names And Pen Names, And On The Survival Of Works Which Seem To Contain No Name


II. The Use Of Acrostics In Ancient Times


III. The Spelling Of Francis Bacon's Names And Titles


IV. Books On Ciphering And Deciphering





It is ungracious to destroy a pleasing illusion, and this book is not written with that purpose. It is written soley in the interest of Science--in this case, the Science of Biography.
By the simple process of cancelling one inference against another I came to the conclusion that what was left of the biography of Shakespeare was a few facts about the Actor, and the work of the Poet. I had already read and thought much about what we know of the work and the mental habits of Francis Bacon, and, like others, had been struck by the many seeming points of contact-- and with one or two which were more than seeming--between his work and that of Shakespeare.

As a mere step in a scientific enquiry I turned to see if Bacon could have signed his name to works for which he was supposedly responsible, by some such cipherer's trick as that of Francesco Colonna, and after some methodical tests I found that he, or others, had done so.

I confess that I was daunted at the onset of my work by the personal obloquy that has been heaped upon scholar and charlatan alike by the men who are content with the inferential method of writing literary history; but, reflecting that life is short and that a little obloquy does not do much harm, I decided to make known these acrostics in the hope that their discovery might lead men to approach the problems of biography in a more scientific spirit.

Bacon was ahead, not only of his own time but also of the present, when he wrote (De Augmentis, book vi, Spedding's translation) of the methods of teaching and of the transmission of knowledge. He styles the first difference of method Magistral, or Initiative..The magistral method teaches; the initiative intimates. The magistral requires that what is told should be believed; the initiative that it should be examined. The one transmits knowledge to the crowd of learners; the other to the sons, as it were, of science. The end of the one is the use of knowledges, as they are now; of the other the continuation and further progression of them. Of these methods the latter seems to be like a road abandoned and stopped up; for as knowledges have hitherto been delivered, there is a kind of contract of error between the delivever and the receiver; for he who delivers knowledge desires to deliver it in such form as may be best believed, and not as may be most conveniently examined; and he who receives knowledge desires present satisfaction, without waiting for due enquiry; and so rather not to doubt, than to err; glory making the deliverer careful not lay open his weakness, and sloth making the receiver unwilling to try his strength.

Scientifically speaking, there can be no such thing as orthodox or unorthodox scholarship. Such phrases belong to the bygone age of the ecclesiastical pedagogue. The man who allows his inferences to crystallise into an 'orthodox opinion' is on the highroad to oblivion, or is courting the riducule of posterity. Literary history is a science. It is a matter of facts. No lasting history can be built on opinion, and no scholarship which is afraid of enquiry can retain respect.

The main conclusion we reach after examing many first known editions of works of obscure authorship is that it is unsafe to base our scholarship on any man's inferences or reports. We must see the original document, and study it in the light of the literary practice or habit of its time.

I take this opportunity to express my gratitude for suggestions, criticism, and encourgement, to my friends Mrs. Lucien Howe, Mrs. G. H. Parker, T.T. Baldwin, R.A. Boit, W.B.Cabot, W.C. Chase, J. Koren, C.E. Merrill, Jr., Alonzo Rothschild, W.L. Stoddard, and H.F.Stone.

Mere thanks are inadequate to express my debt to my friends John A. Macy, G.H. Parker, and R.T.Holbrook, who have greatly improved my manuscript by their painful reading and generous criticism. I am indebted to the latter friend for so much of the text with which the third chapter opens. In it's early stage my work was materially aided by Mr. H. G. Curtis, who lent me his superb copy of the first edition of Selenus,and I have derived constant inspiration from the works of the late Rev. Walter Begley, a remarkably fertile scholar with an accurate imagination. My one regret is that he is dead, and that I cannot show him what is, after all, so far as I am concerned, but the testing of some of his brilliant theories.

The openhandedness with which rare books were placed at my disposal by the Boston Public Library, the Library of Harvard University, and the Library of Congress has lightened my work; and by their skilfull handling of typographical problems the gentlemen of the Riverside Press have helped me to make the truth still more plain; but I value not less my Publishers' ready and generous coopertion.


Cambridge,Mass.,March 13, 1909


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