the Shakespeare Plays
'The Comedy of Errors'
'Anthony and Cleopatra'
The Francis Bacon Research Trust, 1999 C
Recommended books by Mr. Dawkins
Francis Bacon --Herald of the New Age
The Wisdom of Shakespeare
As You Like It
The Merchant of Venice
With Gratitude the following article was reproduced with the kind permission of Peter Dawkins
Shakespeare is undoubtedly
one of the most remarkable and acclaimed poet-playwrights that the
world has ever known. But why should this be so? What is his
There is certainly more to him than meets the eye. Those who were reponsible for the Shakespeare Monument in Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, certainly knew.
The inscription on the engimatic monument proclaims Shakespeare to have been :-
IVDICO PYLIVM, GENIO SOCRATEM, ARTE MARONEN
['A Pylus in judgment, a Socrates in genius, a Mario in art."]
--after which the inscription challenges us to
read, if we can, who is placed (i.e. commemerated) in this
The epitaph is astonishing, but it is also one whose truth is supported by the evidence of the Shakespeare Plays. For instance :
Pylus was the appelation of Nestor, King of Pylus--a stateman, ruler and judge who was famed for his eloquence, wisdom and justice.
Socrates was an acclaimed orator and most celebrated philosopher of all antiquity, who was particularly renowned for advocating the inductive procedure.
Maro was the surname of Virgil, a learned scholar and the greatest of the Roman poets.
That is to say, those who esteemed and commemerated Shakespeare recorded him as being not only a great poet but a fine scholar like Virgil, a philosopher equal to Socrates, and a statesman, ruler and judge on a par with Nestor.
In this description, playwriting appears to be
left out, even though it is for this that Shakespeare is most famous.
However, although neither Nestor, nor Virgil were playwrights,
Socrates was. But he was a secret playwright, his plays being masked
by his pupil Euripides--which immediately implies that Shakespeare
was a celebrated philosopher who promoted the inductive method and
whose playwriting was masked by another person.
Morevover, both Socrates and Virgil were Neo-Pythagoreans, as also was Plato. Neo-Platonism was its successor, which developed as a synthesis of Platonic, Pythagorean and Aristotelian philosophy , with Christianity incorporated into it later. The Shakespeare works show clearly that their author was a Christian Neo-Platonist. Also to be taken into account is Socrates' aim in life, which was to reform corrupted morals, encourage clarity of thought, and further the happiness and good of his people--a theme which permeates the Shakespeare plays and suggests an underlying prupose for their existence.
The Shakespeare epitaph is neither idle rambling nor extravagant praise, but a description that is succinct and to the point, and obviously carefully chosen. It is also deliberately obscure to most people who pass by, hence the monument's challenge to read its inscription if we can.
It is not an impossible description, for there was a man--one unique, extraordinary man--who fits the description exactly. But that man was not the actor Will Shakspere,despite the fact that the actor's age and date of death is recorded in abbreviated form after the main inscription.
Notwithstanding decades of historical research into Will Shakspere's life, no evidence whatsoever has ever been found that he was any of the things attributed to the author Shakespeare in this epitaph, and which the internal evidence of the Shakespeare poems and plays support. Indeed, the facts point to something quite the contrary. The Stratford man was, we do know, an actor and a business man, who seems to have written no letters, possessed no manuscripts or books, and whose death went virtually unrecognised except for the monument that was quietly erected many years later.
Quite clearly the Shakespeare Monument presents an enigma, deliberately created, which summarises the whole authorship quandry. At the same time it points the way to a solution by inferring that there were two distinct Shakespeares, the actor and the author, with the latter being masked by the former.
The one and only person who fits the description of the Shakespeare epitaph is Sir Francis Bacon, the highly talented, acclaimed and much beloved friend of many, who devoted his life to the good of all humanity. Regrettably he has been the subject of malicious misrepresentation in a whole succession of unscholarly and unhistorical treatises published since Thomas Babington Macauley's infamous but influential libel in 1837, (1) which makes it even more difficult to see the Shakespeare authorship clearly and without prejudice.
Bacon, uniquely, was all of the things suggested by the epitaph, even to the extent of holding the office of highest judge in the land and the princely rulership implied by Nestor, King of Pylus : for, in 1617, when Bacon was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, he was left in charge of the English kingdom for six months whilst King James travelled to his Scottish kingdom. The following year Bacon was created Lord Chancellor and Baron Verulam, and then Viscount St.Alban in 1621, the year of his impeachment on trumped-up charges to which he was commanded to plead guilty. His enforced retirement from public office gave him the time to collect together, complete and publish his final great works, including the Shakespeare Folio of Comedies, Histories and Tragedies which he published in tandem with his Latin editon of The Advancement and Proficience of Learning. In both of these he was helped by his devoted friend and 'good pen', the poet-laureate Ben Jonson.
Always as a poet Bacon remained secret, 'masked' and in disguise, although known to many of his poet and scholar friends who later recorded him as having been a ' concealed poet' who wrote comedies and tragedies, the greatest of them all, 'the leader of the choir of Muses', and "Apollo', 'the Daystar of the Muses. (2) He was also likened to Pallas Athena, the Spear-Shaker and Muse of all Muses. When Bacon died in 1626, Ben Jonson proclaimed him as
....he who hath filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue, which may be compared or prefered either to insolent Greece, or haughty Rome.(3)
This is the same unique description, borrowed from Seneca, that Jonsson had used earlier in the Shakespeare Folio when referring to his 'beloved, the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare.(4) 'Numbers', it should be noted, refers specifically to musical measure, verse and poetry. (5)
In the same book (Discoveries) Jonson also acclaims Bacon as an oratorand and an educationalist, and places him at the head of a list of the great thinkers and orators of his time, completely omitting the name of Shakespeare. His praise of Bacon as quoted here is perhaps one of the finest compliments ever paid by one man of genius to another :-
I have and do reverence him, for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever, by his work, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages. (6)
Ben Jonson reveals in his tribute to Francis Bacon--as others also did--that Baconwas the overseer and star of all the wits, the peak of all eloquence, and that in some way they all benefited from Bacon and owed something of their own successes to him. Therefore, when Bacon died, the situation changed dramatically, as Jonson's tribute declares :--
In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits bron that could honour a language, or help study. Now things daily fall : wits grow downward, and Eloquence grows backward : so that he may be named, and stand as the mark and acme of our language. (7)
The Baconian authorship of the Shakespeare poems and plays is indeed a mystery, but it is also clear that it was deliberately made to be so. Ben Jonson certainly knew this and was part of it. In 1621, for instance, at a banquet at York House in honour of Francis Bacon's 60th birthday, Ben Jonson read out a poem which he had composed specially in Bacon's honour :--
Hail, happy Genius of this ancient pile!
How comes it all things so about thee smile?
The fire, the wine, the men! and in the midst,
Thou stand'st as if some Mystery thou did'st! (8)
The 'ancient pile' refers to the spear (Latin,pilum) of Pallas Athena, of whihc she is the 'Genius.' Her name literally means 'Spear Shaker' (i.e. Shakespear'). Apollo is her male, spear-shaking counterpart, equivalent symbolically to St. George. Francis Bacon was likened by his friends and contemporaries to both Athena and Apollo. (9)In Classical and renaissance traditions, Apollo and Athena presided over all schools or societies of the arts and sciences, including poetry, music, medicine, eloquence, learning, and all that leads to enlightenment. The name and idea of the 'Mystery' has a classical origin in the Orphic schools of initiation in ancient Greece, such as at Eleusis and Athens, where the Mysteries were the sacred dramas performed by the bacchantes. Masks were worn, signifying the masking of the great author, Bacchus, the god of poetry and drama, joy, and illumination.
The pig was the special emblem of the Mysteries, signifying a 'son' or incarnation of Apollo, as well as the sacrificial offering to be made--hence Mistress Quickly's peculiar remark in The Merry Wives of Windsor that 'hang-hog is latten for Bacon.(10) This remark relates to a story recorded by Francis Bacon in one of his apothegms, referring to his father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Queen Elizabeth's first Lord Keeper, who, as judge, had to sentence a convicted murderer named Hog to be hanged. Hog tried to gain leniency by pleading that he was 'kin' to the Lord Keeper by virtue of his name, but Sir Nicholas replied that that would be so when hog is well hanged. (11)
It was indeed an extraordinary act of Providence that 'Bacon' should be the surname of the true author of the Shakespeare works, for it gave him a name related to the very Mysteries which he set out to re-create on stage and in his life, following the path, as he put it, of the Ancients. Notably, after he had been commanded by his King to plead guilty to the trumped up charges brought against him, and having left a record that he was 'to make an oblation' of himself ' into his Majesty's hands', even though he was 'as innocent ans any born upon St. Innocent's Day', (12) he wrote to King James that 'I wish that as I am the first, so I may be the last of sacrifices in your times.' (13) Previously, in 1603, he had offered himself as a 'Burnt Offering or Holocaust to your Majesties service,' (14) and James Stuart, King of Scotland and newly King of England, clearly took him at his word. Bacon kept his work, and lived out a full expression of what he and the Mysteries taught.
Francis Bacon, by means of his philosophical publications, was generally recognised as having begun the modern scientific process, providing the world with a philosophy of science in which the process of induction is carefully used as well as deduction. Science owes a great deal to him. It has to be said, though, that his viewpoint was not materialistic, although some people like to think that was the case. Following Hermetic lore, his 'pyramid' of philosophy has three sides--natural, human and divine philosophy--and embraces both physics and metaphysics, earth and heaven. Moreover, Bacon saw philosophy, which is the love of wisdom, and its practical aspect, science, as being the servant ('handmaiden') of divinity ('the mistress'). Divinity he described as being God's Word or wisdom, either given by revelation, such as recorded in the Holy Scriptures, or inspired directly into people's hearts.
Knowledge, Bacon says, can and should be acquired in both ways (i.e. via divinity and philosophy), like water descending from above and springing from beneath, the one informed by the light of nature and the other inspired by divine revelation. Moreover, true knowledge is only acquired as a result of practice or practical experience of what one is studying. Bacon urged us to study love : for God is love, as the scriptures reveal, and love is, therefore, the supreme law of the universe. But we should prove it, as well as respecting and serving it, by practising it. He urged us to study all emotions and passions, as being the causes of all things (thoughts included), until we discover what is true love and how it operates.
To this end, not only do the
Shakespeare plays provide a remarkable in depth portrayal and study
of human emotions and their results, and of both divinity and
philosophy, but charity (mercy) is their major underlying theme and
Bacon dedicated his whole life and work to charity, or love in action, both for the glory of God and for the benefit of humanity, and urged us to do likewise. He considered that knowledge acquired and used otherwise is a hindrance to truth and , although possibly enticing, can become malign and malicious.
Imagination plays a central role in Bacon's philosophical method, as also does drama, although many people have failed to realise that this is so, and modern science has tended to miss the point.
Dramatical, or Representative Poetry, which brings the world upon the stage, is of excellent use....The care of the Ancients was that it should instruct the minds of men unto virtue. Nay, wise man and great philosophers have accounted it as the archet or musical bow of the mind. And certaintly it is most true, and as it were a secret of nature, that the minds of men are more patent to affections and impressions, congregate, than solitary. (15)
Several times Bacon states that he is following the path of the Ancients, and he uses poetry, or drama, as the fourth and central part of his grand scheme, the Great Instauration.Drama provides the means by which the emotions (and the thoughts and actions that they produce) can be shown in such a way that they can be clearly seen and studied, as well as felt and heard, in a safe as well as moving way. (16)
For I form a history and tables of discovery for anger, fear, shame and the like. (17)
Men generally taste well knowledges drenched in flesh and blood, civil history, morality, policy, about which men's affections, praises, fortunes do turn, and are conversant. (18)
Next in order is the knowledge touching the affections and perturbations.....But the poets and writers of histories are the best doctors of this knowledge; where we may find painted forthwith great life, how affections are kindled and incited; and how pacified and restrained.....(19)
Francis Bacon was first fired by the possibilities of drama in his youth : first by his contact from childhood with the Elizabethan court, and then by his three year sojourn in the royal court of France in his late teens, where he met the French poets, writers and dramatists, witnessed the spectacular court Entertainments and the Italian Commedia dell'arte, and experienced the full flight of the French Renaisance. Later, in 1581-2, he visited Italy and Spain, as well as some other countries, specially to gather information on the politics, religion and culture of foreign states both for the Queen and for use in his grand project. (20)
When Francis Bacon returned to England in 1579, upon the death of his father, he had conceived a great plan of education by means of the arts, and asked permission of the Queen and his uncle, Lord Burghley, to carry it out. (21)
Whilst they gave their support and encourgement, they nevertheless required Francis, against his wishes, to study, to become a lawyer and barrister at Gray's Inn. However, it was at Gray's Inn. However, it was at Gray's Inn, where he was given not just his father's chambers but a whole building next to the library, that Francis Bacon began his extraordinary project, drawing together other poets, scholars and writers to assist him, and with the patronage of his friends, the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Southampton, Mary Sidney and her husband the Earl of Pembroke, and others.
By 1592, when Francis' brother
Anthony had returned from France to help him as a kind partner, there
was already a 'Shake-scene', with several Shakespeare plays being
owned by acting companies---first by Lord Strange's Men (with whom
the players from Leicester's Men, led by Burbage, had almagamated in
1588), and then by Lord Pembroke's Men.
Sussex's Men were also credited with having performed Titus
Andronicus, in addition to the other two companies.
In 1593 the Bacon brothers made the 'William Shakespeare' pseudonym public with the printing of the highly erotic and scholarly poem, Venus and Adonis, dedicated to their friend, 'cousin', co-student and patron, the Earl of Southampton, (23) as a sign to both contemporary and future students of the wisdom traditions as to what was afoot.(24) This was quickly followed in 1594 with another poem, The Rape of Lucrece, carrying the same signature. However, it was not until 1598 that any plays were printed with the Shakespeare signature, some of them making the pseudonym more visible by printing the name as 'Shake-speare.'
The Night of Errors
It was at the end of 1594 that the first recorded performance of The Comedy of Errors took place. The performance by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, who had that year become the 'Shakespeare' company of actors after the break up of Pembroke's Men, took place at Gray's Inn on the evening of Holy Innocents' Day, 28th December, as part of the second 'Grand Night' of the Gray's Inn Christmas festivities. These festivities constituted an elaborate twelve-day Entertainment or Revel and were a regular feature of several of the Inns of Court, but Gray's Inn excelled in them. Moreover, for these Francis Bacon was a much acclaimed contriver and writer, as he was also for other masques and for Essex's part in the Queen's Accession Day pageants.
For twevlve days, followed the pattern of the ancient Saturnalia as practised in Rome, a mock royal court was held at Gray's Inn by the student-lawyers, presided over by 'the Prince of Purpoole.' This was done in jesting imitation of the Queen's royal court, complete with masques, plays, dances, pageants and 'serious' business. For the festivities of 1594 the law students wanted to produce 'something out of the commonway', so they decided to introduce certain 'Grand Nights' for the entertainment of invited 'strangers', in particular the lords, ladies and ministers of Her Majesty's Court and Government.
The expectation of the entertainments on the 28th was so great that not only did a great number of noble personages attend, but also an 'embassy' from the Inner Temple arrived, intending to take part. But, despite the fact that tiered seating had been provided, the numbers were so great that the stage became crowded and there was no room for the masquers to perform their 'inventions'. After the embassy from the Inner Temple had departed, disappointed, the tumult died down somewhat, sufficent to allow some 'dancing and revelling with gentlewomen', after which the common players arrived in style on horseback, by torchlight, and performed The Comedy of Errors like to Plautus his Menaechmi, also by torchlight.
The following day a mock trial was held by the gentlemen-lawyers of Grays Inn, at which the 'Conjuror' of the Entertainment was arrainged. He successully argued that the tumult of the previous evening had not been his fault but that of the Prince's Council be reformed and that some 'graver conceits' should take place so as to recover the honour of Grays Inn. Thereafter the tumultuous night was known as the 'Night of Errors.'
Within four days Francis Bacon had written and prepared an entertainment called 'The Honourable Order of the Knights of the Helmet,' which was presented on the next Grand Night, Friday 3rd January 1594/5, and which was described as 'one of the most elegant ever presented to an audience of Statesmen and Courtiers'. The title, 'Knights of the Helmet', refers to the initiates of the arts and sciences, who have helmets of illumination and invisibility bestowed upon them by Pallas Athena. The pseudonym of 'William Shakespeare' refers to the same thing, for William is a compound of 'will' and 'helm' and means 'helmet of resolution', whilst Shake-speare is the name and meaning of Pallas Athene in particular. According to the Neo-Platonic and Baconian philosophy, the divine will is love, which, when our will becomes God's will, creates for us a halo (or helmet) of light.
It was just before these Christmas
Revels that Francis Bacon started that part of his Promus of
Formularies and Elegancies which has survived--a ' storehouse' or
notebook containing nearly two thousand observations and expressions
in several languages, most of which were incorporated into the
In additon, he and his brother Anthony gathered together a
scriptorium of 'good pens'-- later enlarged to two secretariats, one
at Gray's Inn and one at Essex House--to assist in the literary work.
(Ben Jonson became one of the 'good pens'.) Anthony Bacon's extensive
correspondence with princes, statesmen, ambassadors, poets and
writers across Europe was also used as a resource for the plays, as
well as his twelve years of experience abroad as the Queen's
It was at this time that Anthony and Francis befriended and looked after Antonio Perez, the King of Spain's former Secretary of State. Perez was Philip II's exiled minister, who defected and escaped Spain to France in 1591. He came to England in 1593 to live in London, persona grata, first at Bishopgate with Anthony Bacon and then at Essex House, where Essex gave Perez a suite or rooms--Perez having offered intelligence to Essex in December 1594. Perez was the model for Don Adriana de Armado in Love's Labour's Lost. He published a book under the pseudonym of 'Raphael Peregrino'--hence the new English word, 'peregrinate,' coined by the Bacon brothers in Loves Labours Lost. Francis Bacon also used it later in the Latin version of his Essay on Travel,'De Peregratione in Partos Extremos.'
The Comedy of Errors has interesting links with Love's Labour's Lost, a play crammed with people and events known personally to both Francis and Anthony Bacon. For instance, in Love's Labour's Lost, when the King of Navarre and his companions enter masked as 'Russian Muscovites' and accompanied by 'blackamours', (26) the play is making a direct reference to the Gray's Inn Christmas Revels of 1594/5. In a masque put on at the end of the Gray's Inn twelve-day Entertainment, there was a mock embassy of 'Muscovites' who were accompanied by 'Negro Tartars'. Rosalie's jibe, ' Sea-sick, I think, coming from Muscovy,' (27) echoes the excuse made by the Prince of Purpoole who, on his return from a 'visit' to Russia , declared that he must forgo certain ceremonies on account of his exhaustion 'by length of my Journey, and my sickness at Sea.' (28)
Both plays (The Comedy of Errors and Love's Labour's Lost) are highly specialised plays, written for private performance to the Gray's Inn lawyers and the royal court. Not only are they filled with characters, allusions and events known specifically to Francis and Anthony Bacon, but they also contain abstruse classical and legal terminology appropriate to an audience trained in law and the classics, as was Francis Bacon, together with 'in-house' jokes.
Bacon almost certainly used Lambinus' edition of Plautus (published in 1576) in which Lambinus, in his notes to the text, points out the errors in Plautus' Menaechmi, upon which the story of The Comedy of Errors is based. This would have been a jest wll appreciated by the classically educated gentlemen-lawyers and noblemen of Grays Inn. The use of opposites (as in Venus and Adonis) was the hallmark of Bacon and the wisdom tradition of which he was a master, and was used in all the Shakespeare plays, not just Comedy of Errors. But, by doubling the twins, as masters and servants, and enfolding the comic story of the twins within the tragic story of Egeon, who is a kind of Job or Pericles, Bacon produced a complete cabalistic as well as mystery play. He also created an entertaining study of human emotion, showing how passions like anger, jealousy, spite and rage can overcome reason, 'blinding' a person, and how love, mercy and forgiveness can completely transform the situation, restoring order and bridging harmony, happiness and enlightenment.
As in all the Shakespeare plays, Bacon draws on the teachings of the Bible, the myths and traditions of the 'Ancients', Renaissance-Neoplatonic philosophy, and the 'history' garnered from his own and his helpers' observations and experiences of human life and character.
There is much evidence, recently publicised, that Julius Caesar was probably written in the first half of 1599 and used to open the newly built Globe Theatre on Midsummer's Day 1599. The story of the play is based on that of the great Roman dicatator, Caius Julius Caesar, whom in many respects Francis Bacon esteemed highly, but principally for his calendrical reforms and his histories, as also for his cyphers, in which both Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony were specialists. Tyranny, however, Francis hated, and the play is a study in tyranny and what to do, or not to do, about it. It also concerns civil liberties. Bacon was a great champion of civil liberties and advocate of a strong and equal 'marriage' between the House of Commons and Her Majesty's Government in the House of Lords, for the mutual benefit of each and good of the realm. As a servant and adviser of the Queen, and an adviser to Essex on the Queen's behest as well as a friend, and as a highly respected Member of the House of Commons, he was many times well tested concerning such matters. The plays were one of his outlets by which he could offer advice, like the court jesters of old, without giving offence, as well as being part of his method for the advancement of learning.
Julius Caesar, like Henry V which was written for a few months earlier, has political overtones relating to the military expedition into Ireland led by the Earl of Essex. Bacon foresaw what this could lead to and did his uttermost to persuade Essex not to go on the expedition. However, his advice (like most of his advice) went unheeded, and Essex marched off as the Queen's Earl Marshal and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at he head of the larges army ever sent abroad in Queen Elizabeth's reign. In Henry V, by changing history a little, Bacon shows what a conquering general might do and be, if he had wisdom and mercy. It is also an obvious attempt to whip up national support for the endeavour, which had to be funded through people's taxes, as well as an attempt to show the legalities that were supposed to lie behind Henry V's claim to the throne of France, and why Henry felt he had to do something about it. But in Julius Caesar, Bacon portrays what could happen if an existing ruler, even if considered to be a tyrant, should be assassinated. By that stage, Queen Elizabeth had become increasingly despotic, whilst Essex was showing disturbing signs of dissatisfaction and possible rebellion. The play was, from this point of view, a timely warning to both the Queen and Essex. With Anthony Bacon planted at Essex House as Essex's 'secretary of state', Francis Bacon was well informed--although, as it later turned out, not well enough.
It was at the time of writing these plays that a dangerous situation arose which has a direct bearing on the authorship of the Shakespeare plays. In February 1599, just before Essex left for Ireland, a book referring specifically to the depostion of Richard II (29) was published. It was written by a young doctor of civil law, John Hayward, who dedicated the book to Essex, associating the Earl with the popular unsurper Henry Bolingbroke and seeming to hint that Essex should do as Bolingbroke did. The book derived much of its textual material and phrasing from the earlier Shakespeare play, Richard II, which by 1597 was causing great agitation to the Queen because of the deposition scene. This was because the Queen was being increasingly likened to King Richard by certain of her courtiers who followed Essex, whilst Essex was being associated by them with Henry Bolingbroke. As a result, the deposition scene was immediately cut out from the play and it was not reinstated until King James' reign many years later.
The Queen was both alarmed and incensed by Hayward's book. Its second edition was suppressed and the author was arrested on a charge of treason. What is not generally realised is that the Queen called for Francis Bacon, her Counsel Learned in the Law, to give his opinion on whether there was treason in the book. In his record of the interview with Her Majesty, he gives away the fact that he was the author of the original play from which Hayward, a friend of his, had taken the material for his book :--
About the same time I remember an answer of mine in a matter which had some affinity with my Lord's cause, which though it grew from me, went after about in other's names. For her Majesty being mightily incensed with that book which was dedicated to my Lord of Essex, being a story of the first year of King Henry the fourth, thinking it a seditious prelude to put into people's heads boldness and faction, said she had good opinion that there was reason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it that might be drawn within case of treason : whereto I answered: for treason surely I found none ; but for felony very many.....(30)
Bacon admits to the matter as having 'grown from him', and as it having gone about 'in other's names'. He was not able to save Hayward from imprisonment; but from the evidence of his interview with the Queen, he would certainly seem to have saved his young friend from both torture and a horrendous execution as a traitor.
Fifteen months later (5th June 1600) another event concerning the same subject occurred, in which the authorship was again mentioned, when Essex was arrainged before the Queen's Councel on a charge of disobeying Her Majesty's orders in Ireland. Francis, as one of the Queen's Councel , was given the specific role of charging Essex concerning the use of Hayward's book, a role to which he objected, remarking that ' it would be said that I gave in evidence mine own tales.' (31)
Francis Bacon was acknowledged as an eloquent speaker and great orator by Ben Jonson and others. His orations in the House of Commons were masterly, and friends use to attend him a t dinners and other functions with notebooks in hand, eager to write down his words. Like Orpheus, he ' moved' people, stirring their emotions, enlightening their thoughts and inspiring them to action. As a master of this art, like both Socrates and Nestor, Bacon was well studied in the principles of oratory, so it is of particular interest that such principles are well demonstrated, in detail, in the speeches of Brutus and Anthony, which employ two contrasting methods of oratory, and which made famous because of Shakespeare's (Bacon's) play.
In notable contrast to Bacon, the actor Will Shakspere was reported to be a terrible orator as well as a plagiarist. Robert Greene, in a pamphlet written in 1592 just before his death, warns his fellow playwrights against trusting actors and complains of Shakspere as being an 'upstart Crow' who, as an actor, speaks bombastically the blank verse of plays written by the playwrights :--
Yes trust them [the actors] not : for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tyger's hart wrapped in a Player's hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you : and beeing an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his own conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey. (32)
The crow is famous for mimicry but not for invention. It also croaks bombastically. Furthermore, the crow in Classical fables is associated with stealing whatever it finds beautiful or attractive, even the finer plumes of other birds. For this reason, in Renaissance symbolism the crow is associated with plagiarism, particularly literary plagiarism. In this instance, the actor who is the 'upstart Crow' is accused of beautifying himself with the words that come from the 'feathers' (ie the quill pens) of the playwrights, and thereby pretending that he is the the only 'Shake-scene' in the country. That the 'Shake-scene' refers to Shakespeare is confirmed by the 'tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide', which is a parody of a line in the Shakespeare play of Henry VI, Part 3. (33)
Ben Jonson, writing much later, is of the same opinion, likening the actor Shakspere to the Roman orator Haterius, who was often so impetuos and carried away with his words that he would muddle them, burst into tears, speak ex tempore and become so profuse in his language that he often had to be stopped :
He [Shakspere] was (indeed) honest, and of an open and free nature : had an excellent phantasy, brave notions, and gentle expressions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped : Sufflamindandus erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power, would the rule of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter : as when he said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him, 'Caesar, thou dost me wrong'. He replied, 'Caesar never did wrong but with just cause', and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned. (34)
Ben, with his kindly but biting satire, speaks of his actor-colleague as one who had verbal diarrhoea, and even adds that Shakspere, like Haterius, was not even able to remember his speeches correctly, ad-libbing in ridiculous but amusing ways.
All the Shakespeare plays are studies in various kinds of emotion, and for these Bacon's Essays are an enlightening guide. Bacon developed his Essay's over the years as a distinctive style of writing, pithy and difficult to write successfully, but which he refined to a high art. Of particular interest in these is the material which he uses and the principles which he defines; for the same material and principles, derived from careful observation, are embodied in the Shakespeare plays. Of particular interest in Julius Caesar is the detailed portrayal of anger, as shown between Cassius and Brutus in their famous quarrel scene on the eve of battle. The stages of the quarrel develop step by step in accordance with that delineated by Bacon in his essay, Of Anger, leading up to a final appeasement which is possible and essential before the matter is broken off, lest there be mischief done. The play also represents a good study of envy dealt with similarly in another of Bacon's essays.
In Antony and Cleopatra Bacon continues the story of Antony begun in Julius Caesar. But whereas Julius Caesar focuses on tyranny,envy, anger, and the ghastly results of murder and revenge in the name of justice, Antony and Cleopatra deals particularly with the effects of a personal love relationship on international politics. In the play the human relationship is intensely passionate and one of almost total self-absorption, which blinds the two lovers to the reality of life around them and to their own public responsibilities, which are immense. Historically, a great number of people depended on the two rulers, especially Antony, whose dominion encompassed half the 'known' world.
Such matters were always of great concern to Francis Bacon, who advised sovereigns and leaders, and who wrote on the subject extensively. His essay, Of Love, puts forward his observation on the frailties and passions of imperfect human love, as practised by so many in high office, which can negate wisdom and cause so much harm; whilst his other writings on love and philanthropy make it clear how love at its best is the one and only creative force and good in the world, and much to be desired. A weak, selfish love can blind, whilst a strong, good love can enlighten--a fact of life pointed out by Bacon, portrayed dramatically in the Shakespeare plays and represented in the symbol of the 'enlightened' Cupid which adorns the Shakespeare Folio.
Another of Bacon's great themes, besides that of Love, is also developed in the play. That is that of Polarity, summed up as Strife and Friendship, the two great polarities or 'pillars' of life which are the 'spurs of motions and the keys of works'. (35) They are also known in other guises as Mars and Venus (or Adonis and Venus), Reason and Affection, Stoicism and Sensuality, as well as Politics and Love, or War and Debauchery in its debased form, all of which are the major themes of Antony and Cleopatra. Antony is used to provide an outstanding example of these opposites in one person, he being a stoic Roman warrior and politician on the one hand, and a sensual Egyptian lover and hedonist on the other. But he lurches wildly from one to the other, and this contributes to his downfall.
The play is a remarkable philosophical study of these opposites, using classical history as the basis of the example. It is probably intended as a jester's message to a king (James Stuart) who ruled two kingdoms as an emperor and who tended to prefer hedonism to politics, but with whom Bacon was determined to work so as to help make, him if possible, into the 'wisest king in Christendom'. Bacon, whose family motto was 'Mediocria Firma', signifying 'The Middle Path is sound', became the intimate and trusted advisor of both King and Favourite,(36)and by his own example tried to show the way.
The way lies between the Twin Pillars of the Mysteries--the 'Great Pillars' of Freemasonry--which are vividly depicted on various title pages of Bacon's principal published works, together with a Freemasonic handshake and other signs. Freemasonry and its higher counterpart, Rosicrucianism, are intimately entwined in Bacon's life and works, and Julius Caesar, for instance, is written in such a way that it provides a distinctive commentary on Freemasonry's Master Mason and Royal Arch Degrees.
The principal aim of Freemasonry is to practice
charity and to both search for and discover the "Lost Word'. The
Word, in one context, is divine Love; in another it is the Author of
the drama of life. It lies hidden from our view until we can, with
right effort, bring it to light-- as we are meant to do. The
Mysteries were designed to imitate the divinely created drama of
life, and the Shakespeare plays are Mysteries. Is this not a good
reason for the concealment of their authorship?
Not for nothing are both English Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism said to have originated in St. Albans, with the founder having been St. Albans.
1. The anti-Stuart 'libellors' of
the 16th and 17th centuries were also responsible for gravely
misrepresenting Bacon as part of their vilification of dead or exiled
monarchs. In addition, the promoters of the French Reformation
misrepresented Bacon by deliberately mistranslating and editing his
writings to suit their anti-religious and materialistic concepts:
which action carried a highly regrettable 'knock-on' effect. See
Nieves Mathews, Francis Bacon : The History of a Character
Assassination (Yale University Press, 1996).
2. e.g. as printed in the Manes Verulamiani, the elegiac tributes to Bacon printed on his death in 1626. King James also called Bacon his 'Apollo'.
3. Ben Jonson, Discoveries (1641).
4. About Shakespeare the author, Jonson says in his tribute To the Memory of my beloved, The Author, printed in the First Shakespeare Folio :--
.........Or, when thy socks were on,
Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all, that insolent Greece or haughty Rome
sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
5. Jonson uses the word 'numbers' in the
same well-known sense in which Cicero, Virgil, Horace and Ovid all
used its Latin original, and which is also used as such in the
Shakespeare works--ie referring to musical measure, verse, or
poetry. Pope and Milton, in the 17th and 18th centuries, continued
the use of the word in that same sense.
6. Ben Jonson, Discoveries (1641).
7. Ben Jonson, Discoveries (1641)
8. Ben Jonson, Ode for Lord Bacon's Birth-day (1621).
9. e.g. Elegies 2, 12, 18, 20, 25, and 32, Manes Verulamiani (1626).
10. Merry Wives of Windsor, IV, i, 41--original Folio reading.
11. Francis Bacon, Apothegm 39, Resuscitatio (1671).
12. Francis Bacon, Memoranda of what the Lord Chancellor intended to deliver to the King, April 16, 1621, upon his first access to his Majesty after his troubles.
13. Bacon's last letter as Lord Chancellor to King James I (April 1621).
14. Francis Bacon to King James I (1603).
15. Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1640), Bk II, ch xiii.
16. Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1623), 'Plan of the Work' (Part IV) :
And now that we have surrounded the intellect with faithful helps and guards, and got together with most careful selection a regular army of divine works, it may seem we have no more to do but to proceed to philosophy itself.
And yet in a matter so difficult and doubtful there are still some things which it seems necesary to premise, partly for convenience of explanation, partly for present use.
Of these the first is to set forth examples of inquiry and invention according to my method, exhibited by anticipation in some particular subjects ; choosing such subjects as are at once the most noble in themselves among those under enquiry, and most different one from another; that there may be an example in every kind. I do not speak of those examples which are joined to the several precepts and rules by way of illustration (for of these I have given plenty in the second part of the work); but I mean actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind and the whole fabric and order of invention from the beginning to the end, in certain subjects, and those various and remarkable, should be set as it were before the eyes. For I remember that in mathematics it is easy to follow the demonstration when you have a machine beside you; whereas without that help all appears involved and more subtle than it really is. To examples of this kind-- being in fact nothing more than an application of the second part in detail and at large,-- the fourth part of the work is devoted.
17. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum , Aphorism CXXVII.
18. Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1605)
19. Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1623) Bk VII , Ch iii
20. Germany and the Netherlands were also included. Francis was helped by his brother Anthony, one of the Queen's chief intelligencers on the continent. Besides the private report given to the Queen and Lord Burghley, some of the information was used in the early Shakespeare Plays.
21. Lord Burghley was the legal guardian of Francis Bacon from February 1579, when Sir Nicholas Bacon died, until January 1582 when Francis came of age.
22. Titus Andronicus and the three parts of Henry VI were owned first by Lord Strange's Men and then in 1592 by Lord Pembroke's Men, before being passed on to the Lord Chamberlain's Men in 1594. The Taming of the Shrew is also identified as having been with Pembroke's Men. In addition, the other Shakespeare plays identified as having been written by 1592--King John, Richard III, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona--were in all probability owned by these companies.
23. Henry Wriothesley, the third Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), was a ward of Lord Burghley, Bacon's uncle and the Queen's Lord Treasurer. From 1585 to 1589 Southampton studied at St. John's College, Cambridge, before becoming a member of Gray's Inn. In 1594 he came of age and inherited a fortune, enabling him to become a generous patron of poetry and drama, which he loved. He became a special friend of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, and of the two Bacon brothers, his 'cousins' Antony and Francis, and become a member of the Essex-Pembroke group who patronised the group of writers involved in Bacon's literary-dramatic project.
24. Venus and Adonis are cabalistic symbols of the
Grand Pillars that stand at the gateway of the Temple of Light.
25, The Promus consists of a collection of manuscripts, or folios, written in Bacon's own hand, which are now kept at the British Museum (Harleian Collection, No. 7017)/ These folios, numbered from 83 to 132, appear to have been written in the years 1594-6 and form part of what must have been a much larger collection. Folio 85 is dated 5th December 1594, and folio 114 is dated 27th January 1595.
26. Love's Labour's Lost , v, ii.
27. Love' s Labour's Lost, v, ii, 393.
28. Gesta Grayorum : or, the History of the High and Mighty Prince Henry, Prince of Purpoole....Who Reigned and Died, A.D. 1594, set out in Nichols Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, Vol III, p.262, and also to be found in the library of Gray's Inn. (First printed 1688)
29. John Hayward, The First Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII (1599)
30. Francis Bacon, Apologie in certaine imputations concerning the late Earle of Essex (1604) : Spedding, Letters and Life of Francis Bacon.
31. Spedding, Letters and Life of Francis Bacon :--
Hereupon the next news that I heard was, that we were all sent for again, and that her Majesty's pleasure was, we should all have parts in the business; and the Lords falling into distribution of our parts, it was alloted to me, that I should set forth some undutiful carriage of my Lord, in giving occasion and countenance to a seditious pamphlet, as it was termed, which was dedicated to him, which was the book before mentioned of King Henry the fourth. Whereupon I replied to that allotment, and said to their Lordships, that it was an old matter, and had no matter of coherence with the rest of the charge, being matters of Ireland, and that therefore I having been wronged by bruits before, this would expose me to them more; and it would be said that I gave in evidence mine own tales.
Francis Bacon, Apologie in certaine imputations concerning the late Earle of Essex (1604)
32. Robert Greene, A Groatsworth of Wit bought
with a Million of Repentane (1592).
33. Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI, I, iv, 137.
34. Jonson, Discoveries (1641)
35. Francis Bacon, 'Introduction,' The History of the Sympathy and Antipathy of Things.
36. i.e. King James I of England, VI Scotland and his favourite, Buckingham.
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