"If there was a Shakespeare of earth, as I suspect, there was also one of heaven; and it is of him that we desire to know something."--HALLAM.
"Shakespeare is a voice merely; who and what he was that sang, that sings, we know not."--RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
"The apparition known to moderns as Shakespeare."--JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
I. Setting aside Shakspere, Francis Bacon was the most original, the most imaginative, and the most learned man of his time.
"The most exquisitely constructed intellect that has ever been bestowed on any of the children of men."--Macaulay.
"The great glory of literature in this island, during the reign of James, was my Lord Bacon."--Hume.
"Lord Bacon was the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any other country, ever produced."--Pope.
"One of the most colossal of the sons of men."--G. L. Craik.
"Crown of all modern authors."--George Sandys.
"He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity. He had the sound, distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination."--Addison.
"Next to Shakespeare, the greatest name of the Elizabethan age is that of Bacon. Undoubtedly, one of the broadest, richest, and most imperial of human intellects."--E. P. Whipple.
"If we compare what may be found in the sixth, seventh, and eighth books of the 'De Augmentis,' in the 'Essays,' the 'History of Henry VII.,' and the various short treatises contained in his works on moral and political wisdom, and on human nature, with the rhetoric, ethics, and politics of Aristotle, or with the historians most celebrated for their deep insight into civil society and human character,--with Thucydides, Tacitus, Philippe de Comines, Machiavel, Davila, Hume,--we shall, I think, find that one man may almost be compared with all of these together."--Hallam.
"The wisest, greatest of mankind."--Ibid.
"Columbus, Luther, and Bacon are, perhaps, in modern times the men of whom it may be said with the greatest probability that, if they had not existed, the whole course of human affairs would have been varied."--Edinburgh Review.
"When one considers the sound and enlarged views of this great man, the multitude of objects to which his mind was turned, and the boldness of his style which unites the most sublime images with the most rigorous precision, one is disposed to regard him as the greatest, the most universal, and the most eloquent of philosophers."--D' Alembert.
"His imagination was fruitful and vivid; a temperament of the most delicate sensibility, so excitable as to be affected by the slightest alterations of the atmosphere."--Montagu.
"He belongs to the realm of the imagination, of eloquence, of jurisprudence, of ethics, of metaphysics; his writings have the gravity of prose, with the fervor and vividness of poetry."--Prof. Welsh.
"Who is there that, hearing the name of Bacon, does not instantly recognize everything of genius the most profound, of literature the most extensive, of discovery the most penetrating, of observation of human life the most distinguishing and refined?"--Edmund Burke.
"Shakespeare and the seers do not contain more expressive or vigorous condensations, more resembling inspiration; in Bacon, they are to be found everywhere."--Taine.
"No other author can be compared with him, unless it be Shakespeare."--Prof. Fowler.
"He was a genius second only to Shakespeare."--Prof. Church.
"Bacon little knew or suspected that there was then existing (the only one that ever did exist) his superior in intellectual power."--Walter Savage Landor.
Addison, referring to a prayer composed by Bacon, says that "for elevation of thought and greatness of expression it seems rather the devotion of an angel than that of a man."
Prof. Fowler pronounces this prayer "the finest bit of composition in the English language."
II. Bacon came of a family eminent for learning. His father, Nicholas Bacon, was Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal under Elizabeth; his mother, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, tutor of Edward VI.
Of Bacon's mother, Macaulay writes:--
"She 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. She also translated a series of sermons on fate and free-will from the Tuscan of Bernardo Ochino. Her sister, Katherine, wrote Latin hexameters and pentameters which would appear with credit in the 'Musæ Etonenses.' Mildred, another sister, was described by Roger Ascham as the best Greek scholar among the young women of England, Lady Jane Grey always excepted."
III. Bacon had a strong desire for public employment, due, it is fair to infer, to the consciousness that he possessed exceptional powers for the service of
the state. It was a creditable ambition, though the methods then in vogue to gratify it would, according to modern standards, hardly be deemed consistent with personal honor. It is certain that the reputation of being a poet, and particularly a dramatic poet, writing for pay, would have compromised him at court.1 In those days play-acting and play-writing were considered scarcely respectable. The first theatre in London was erected in 1576, ten or twelve years only before the earliest production of 'Hamlet.' The Government, in the interest of public morals, frowned upon the performances. The Lord Mayor, in 1597, at the very time when the greatest of the "Shake-speare" Plays were coming out, denounced the theatre as a "place for vagrants, thieves, horse-stealers, contrivers of treason, and other idle and dangerous persons." One man published a book entitled "A Pleasant Invective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like caterpillars."2 Another lamented because the people were given over to playing and dancing, instead of those exercises of the olden times, when "they went naked and were good soldiers; when they fed upon roots and barks of trees, and could stand up to the chin many days in marshes and victuals."
1 It is only in recent times that a professional author has come, under the most favorable circumstances, to be considered in England a gentleman. To look to any kind of literary composition for a revenue was, in the time of Bacon, sufficient to degrade any man from that rank in which, according to Blackstone, no one was tolerated who could not "live idly and without manual labor."--Commentaries, I. 406.
2 The author of this book, Stephen Gosson, is commended for it by Mr. Allibone in his 'Dictionary of Authors.'
Taine speaks of the stage in Shakespeare's day as "degraded by the brutalities of the crowd, who not seldom would stone the actors, and by the severities of the magistrates, who would sometimes condemn them to lose their ears." He thus describes the playhouse, as it then existed:--
"On a dirty site on the banks of the Thames rose the principal theatre, the Globe, a sort of hexagonal tower, surrounded by a muddy ditch. Over it was hoisted a red flag. The common people could enter as well as the rich; there were six-penny, two-penny, even penny seats; but no one could gain admittance without money. If it rained (and it often rains in London), the people in the pit--butchers, mercers, bakers, sailors, apprentices--received the streaming rain upon their heads. I suppose they did not trouble themselves about it; it was not so long since that they had begun to pave the streets of London, and when men like these have had experience of sewers and puddles, they are not afraid of catching cold.
"While waiting for the piece, they amuse themselves after their fashion, drink beer, crack nuts, eat fruits, howl, and now and then resort to their fists; they have been known to fall upon the actors and turn the theatre upside down. At other times, when they were dissatisfied, they went to the tavern to give the poet a hiding, or toss him in a blanket. When the beer took effect, there was a great upturned barrel in the pit, a peculiar receptacle for general use. The smell rises, and then comes the cry, 'Burn the juniper!' They burn some in a plate on the stage, and the heavy smoke fills the air. Certainly, the folk there assembled could scarcely get disgusted at anything, and cannot have had sensitive noses."
It may easily be imagined that Bacon, considering his high birth, aristocratic connections, and aspirancy for official honors, and already projecting a vast philosophical reform for the human race, would have shrunk from open alliance with an institution like this.1
IV. To his confidential friend, Sir Toby Matthew, Bacon was in the habit of sending copies of his books as they came from the press. On one of these occasions he forwards, with an air of mystery and half apologetically, certain works which he describes as the product of his "recreation," called by him, also, curiously, "works of the alphabet," upon which not even Mrs. Pott's critical acumen has been able to throw, from sources other than conjecture, any light.2 In a letter addressed to Bacon by Matthew while abroad, in acknowledgment of some
1 "It must be borne in mind that actors occupied an inferior position in society, and that even the vocation of a dramatic writer was considered scarcely respectable."--Halliwell-Phillipps.
"Lodge [a contemporary of 'Shake-speare'], who had never trod the stage, but had written several plays, speaks of the vocation of the playmaker as sharing the odium attaching to the actor. At this day we can scarcely realize the scorn which was thrown on all sides upon those who made acting a means of livelihood."--Dr. Ingleby.
Under a law enacted in 1572, any person, exercising the profession of an actor without license from two justices or the written protection of a nobleman, was liable to be arrested, to be whipped, and to have his right ear bored with a hot iron not less than one inch in circumference. Professional actors were forbidden even the rites of Christian burial.
2 "In 1623, Bacon writes to Sir Tobie Matthew about putting the 'alphabet in a frame;' if this was their cipher, the frame was the 1623 folio. Such enigmatical talk between two friends is evidence that they were both interested in some secret which they would not openly refer to."--Francis Fearon in Bacon Journal, I. 57.
Printers lock up their type in a frame.
In still another letter to Matthew, written in 1604, at about the time that the great tragedies of 'Hamlet,' 'Macbeth,' 'King Lear,' and 'Othello' were appearing, he apologizes for some neglect on the ground that his head had been "wholly employed upon invention," i. e. upon works of imagination.
"great and noble token and favor," we find this postscript:--
"The most prodigious wit that ever I knew, of my nation and of this side of the sea, is of your lordship's name, though he be known by another."
It has been plausibly suggested that the "token of favor," sent to Matthew, was the folio edition of the "Shake-speare" Plays, published in 1623. It is certain that Matthew's letter was written subsequently to January 27, 1621.1
1 Various attempts have been made to break the force of this testimony. It has been urged that, as Bacon had been raised to the peerage, he had acquired another name under which to publish his works. This seems too frivolous for serious remark. It has also been conjectured that Matthew may have been in Madrid, where a certain Francisco de Quevedo was writing under a pseudonym. Unfortunately for this theory, the Spaniard (who has never become distinguished, so far as we know, for "prodigious wit") retained the name of Francisco, the only part that suggested Bacon's, in his pseudonym. The simple truth is, Matthew's description exactly fits the "Shake-speare" Plays and Bacon's literary alias.
Indeed, is it credible that Matthew would have written to Bacon, the Lord Chancellor of England, author of the Novum Organum (then published), and his benefactor, the only friend who stood by him, in his apostasy to Rome, when all others, even his own father and mother cast him off, that he had found on the Continent a person (then and ever since unknown) bearing his lordship's name, but superior to his lordship in learning or wit? Is it necessary to impute to Matthew so gross a violation of good taste, not to say a gratuitous insult to his correspondent? On the contrary, who does not see that this same "most prodigious wit," the greatest (according to the postscript) of all the world, was at another time also described by Matthew in the following words:--
"A man so rare in knowledge, of so many several kinds, indued with the facility and felicity of expressing it all in so elegant, significant, so abundant, and yet so choice and ravishing a way of words, of metaphors and allusions, as perhaps the world has not seen since it was a world."--Address to the Reader, prefixed to Collection of English Letters, 1660.
V. Bacon kept a commonplace book which he called a Promus, now in the archives of the British Museum. It consisted of several large sheets, on which from time to time he jotted down all kinds of suggestive and striking phrases, proverbs, aphorisms, metaphors, and quaint turns of expression, found in the course of his reading and available for future use. With the exception of the proverbs from the French, the entries, one thousand six hundred and fifty-five in number, are in his own handwriting. These verbal treasures are scattered, as thick as the leaves of Vallombrosa, throughout the Plays. Mrs. Pott finds, by actual count, four thousand four hundred and four instances in which they are reproduced there--some of them in more or less covert or modified form--over and over again. We can almost see the architect at work, imbedding these gems of beauty and wisdom in the wonderful structures to which, according to Matthew, he gave the name of another. While they appear to a limited extent in Bacon's prose works, they seem to have constituted a storehouse of materials for particular use in the composition of the Plays.
This, of course, was Francis Bacon. The two portraitures are identical.
An amusing discussion, prompted by Mr. Appleton Morgan, on this subject was published in Shakespeariana (VIII. 44) in 1891. In it two noted anti-Baconians endeavored to explain this postscript, but ended simply in refuting each other's theories. Our readers will find in this correspondence an addition to the comic literature of the age.
Two of these entries reappear in a single sentence in 'Romeo and Juliet.' One in the unusual phrase, "golden sleep;" and the second, the new word, "uproused," then added for the first time, like hundreds of others in the Plays, out of the same mint, to the verbal coinage of the realm.
"But where unbruisèd youth with unstuffed brain
Doth couch his limbs, there golden sleep doth reign;
Therefore, thy earliness doth me assure,
Thou art uproused by some distemperature."--II. 3.
To one familiar with the laws of chance, these coincidences will fall little short of a mathematical demonstration.
"One of these entries would prove little or nothing, but any one, accustomed to evidence, will perceive that two constitute a coincidence, amounting almost to a demonstration, that either  Bacon and Shakespeare borrowed from some common and at present unknown source; or  one of the two borrowed from the other."--E. A. Abbott, in his Introduction to Mrs. Pott's Edition of the Promus.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Promus is the group of salutatory phrases it contains, such as good-morning, good-day, and good-night, which had not then come into general use in England, but which occur two hundred and fifty times in the Plays. These salutations, however, were common at that time in France, where Bacon, as attaché of the British Embassy, had spent three years in the early part of his life. To him we are doubtless indebted for these little amenities of speech.1
1 One or two specimens have been found in earlier literature, but the statement in the text is substantially correct. These salutations did not take root in English speech till they were implanted there by the author of the Plays. Their presence in Bacon's scrap-book is alone sufficient evidence that they were new.
Particular attention is called to the entry "good-dawning," a style of address which Bacon failed to make popular, and which is found but once in the whole range of English literature outside of the Promus,--in 'King Lear.'
The date of the Promus (a strictly private record, published for the first time in 1882) was 1594; that of the play, 1606. In one, the seed; the only plant from that seed, in the other.
"The phrase 'good-dawning' is found only once in Shakespeare, put into the mouth of the affected Oswald [Lear, II. 2], 'Good-dawning to thee, friend.' The quartos are so perplexed by this strange phrase that they alter 'dawning' into 'even,' although a little farther on Kent welcomes the 'comfortable beams of the rising sun.' Obviously 'dawning' is right; but did the phrase suggest itself independently to Bacon and Shakespeare?
"Again, Bacon has thought it worth while to enter the phrase 'good-morrow.' What does this mean? It is one of the commonest phrases in the plays of Shakespeare, occurring there nearly a hundred times; why, then, did Bacon take note of a phrase so noteworthless, if it were at that time in common use?"--E. A. Abbott.1
No dialogues are found in Bacon's acknowledged works, and yet the Promus abounds in colloquialisms, of which the following are specimens:--
You put me in mind
1 Dr. Abbott makes these admissions while disavowing Mrs. Pott's theory.
Answer me directly
Hear me out
We mention one more entry, No. 1096: "law at Twickenham for the merry tales." Twickenham was a country-seat to which Bacon frequently retired, and where works of his "recreation" would naturally have been written. The plays in which legal principles are most frequently stated and applied were produced at or near the time of the Promus.1
Mr. Spedding published a few only of the Promus entries in his edition of Bacon's works, alleging that he could make nothing of them. And yet the Promus was the only extended work he found in Bacon's own handwriting. If Mr. Spedding had failed to understand the 'Novum Organum,' would he have omitted that also?
1 In regard to proverbs, Mrs. Pott makes the following computations: English proverbs in the Promus, 203; reproduced in the plays, 152. French, Italian, and Spanish proverbs in the Promus, 240; reproduced in the plays, 150. Latin [Erasmus] proverbs in the Promus, 225; reproduced in the plays, 218.
"It may be broadly asserted that the English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin proverbs, which are noted in the Promus and quoted in Shakespeare, are not found in other literature of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries."--Preface to Bacon's Promus, p. 84.
"There are about two hundred English terms of expression entered in the Promus. Of these, seventeen only have been discovered in works written between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, other than the prose works of Bacon and the plays."--Ibid., p. 83.
"The real significance of the Promus consists in the enormous proportion of notes which Bacon could not possibly have used in his acknowledged writings; the colloquialism, dramatic repartees, turns of expression, proverbs, etc. Any biographer of Bacon, whatever his notions as to the Shakespearean authorship, may be reasonably expected to offer some explanation of this queer assortment of oddments, and to find out, if possible, what use Bacon made of them; and then our case becomes urgent."--R. M. Theobald.
"Why Bacon wrote down phrases like this, here and there [in the Promus], seems inexplicable."--Richard Grant White.
VI. Other internal evidences also point unmistakably to Bacon's pen. Peculiarities of thought, style, and diction are more important in a contested case of authorship than the name on the title-page, for there we find the author's own signature in the very fibre of his work. We have only to hold the Plays, as it were, up to the light, to see the water-mark imprinted in them. To elucidate this point, we offer the following parallelisms:--
"There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;. . . .And we must take the cur- rent when it serves, Or lose our ventures." Julius Cæsar, IV. 3.
"In the third place, I set down reputation, because of the peremptory tides and currents it hath, which, if they be not taken in their due time, are sel- dom recovered."--Advancement of Learning
"To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." Hamlet, I. 3.
"Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others." --Essay of Wisdom.
"That strain again;--it had a dying fall: O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south, That breathes upon a bank of violets, Stealing and giving odor." -Twelfth Night, I. 1.
"The breath of flowers . . . comes and goes like the warbling of music."--Bacon ,Essay of Gardens.
"This majestical roof fretted with golden fire." Hamlet, II. 2.
"For if that great work- master had been of a human disposition, he would have cast the stars into some pleasant and beautiful works and orders, like the frets in the roofs of houses."--Advancement of Learning.
"By a divine instinct, men's minds mistrust Ensuing danger; as, by proof, we see The waters swell before a boist'rous storm." -Richard III., II. 3.
"As there are . . . secret swellings of seas before a tem- pest, so there are in States."--Bacon, Essay of Sedition.
"Who having unto truth, by telling of it, Made such a sinner of his memory, To credit his own lie." -Tempest, I. 2.
"With long and continual counterfeiting and with oft telling a lie, he was turned by habit almost into the thing he seemed to be; and from a liar to a believer."--History of Henry VII.
"The ivy which had hid my princely trunk, And sucked my verdure out on 't." Tempest, I. 2.
"It was ordained that this winding-ivy of a Plantagenet should kill the tree itself."-- History of Henry VII.
"Let him be his own carver." Richard II., II. 3.
"You shall not be your own carver."--Advancement of Learning.
"I shall show the cinders of my spirits Through the ashes of my chance." -Antony and Cleopatra, V. 2.
"The sparks of my affection shall ever rest quick under the ashes of my fortune."--Bacon in a Letter to Falkland.
"Lo! as at English feasts, so I regreet The daintiest last, to make the end most sweet." Richard II., I. 3.
"Let not this Parliament end like a Dutch feast in salt meats, but like an English feast in sweet meats."-- Bacon's Speech in Parliament, 1604.
"Nothing almost sees miracles But misery." King Lear, II.
2. "Certainly, if miracles be he control over nature, they appear most in adversity."-- Essay of Adversity.
"The rogue fled from me like quicksilver." 2 Henry IV., II. 4.
"It was not long but Perkin, who was made of quick- silver (which is hard to im- prison), began to stir; for, deceiving his keepers, he took to his heels, and made speed to the sea-coast."-- Bacon's History of Henry VII.
"When we our betters see bearing our woes, We scarcely think our miseries our foes.. . . . . "Amongst consolations it is not the least to represent to a man's self like examples of calamity in others. If our betters have sustained the like events, we have the less cause to be grieved."--Letter to Bishop Andrews.
"The mind much suffrance doth o'erskip, When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.How light and portable my pain seems now, When that which makes me bend makes the king bow." King Lear, III. 6.
"My Dionyza, shall we rest us here, And, by relating tales of other's griefs, See if 't will teach us to for- get our own?" Pericles, I. 4.
"Of comfort, no man speak, . . . For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings." Richard II., III. 2.
"Honorificabilitudinitatibus." Love's Labor's Lost.
"Honorificabilitudino."2-- MS. Title-page of one of Bacon's Works.
"Had I but served my God with half the zeal "Cardinal Wolsey said that if he had pleased God as he I served my king, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies." Henry VIII., III. 2.
had pleased the king, he had not been ruined."--Letter [first draft] to King James.
1 It will be observed that this is not the commonplace sentiment respecting companions in misery, but an opinion continually cropping out in Bacon and "Shake-speare," that one may find consolation in any misfortune by calling to mind similar experiences in the lives of others, particularly those who in times past have done great deeds for humanity.
2 This word is found in these two places only in all the world's literature.
60I served my king, he would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies. Henry VIII. III.2.
had pleased the king , he had not been ruined. -Letter [first draft] to King James
Ere my tongue Shall wound mine honor with such feeble wrong, Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear The slavish motive of recanting fear, And spit it bleeding, in his high disgrace, Where shame doth harbor, even in Mowbray's face."Richard II., I. 1.
"What a proof of patience is displayed in the story told of Anaxarchus, who, when questioned under torture, bit out his own tongue (the only hope of information) and spat it into the face of the tyrant." --De Augmentis.
"Viola. 'T is poetical. Olivia. It is the more likely to be feigned." Twelfth Night, I. 5.
"Poetry is feigned history." --Advancement of Learning.
"How shall we stretch our eye when capital crimes, chew'd, swallow'd, and digested, ap- pear before us?"--Henry V., II. 2.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."--Essay of Studies.
"I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and, when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again."1--Coriolanus, I. 3.
"To be like a child following a bird, which, when he is nearest, flyeth away and "light- eth a little before; and then the child after it again."--Letter to Greville.
1 Professor Nichol refers to this extraordinary parallelism in his Biography of Bacon, showing by date that Bacon could not have copied from "Shake-speare," nor "Shake-speare" from Bacon. The sentence from Bacon is found in a private letter, written in 1595, but not made public till 1657. The production of 'Coriolanus' is assigned to a date not earlier than 1610. The play was first printed in 1623.
"I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much an- other man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love, will, after he has laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love." --Much Ado About Nothing, II. 3.
"Amongst all the great and worthy persons whereof the memory remaineth, there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love; which shows that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion."--Essay of Love.
"Sil. Do you change color?
Val. Give him leave, madam; he is a kind of chameleon."-Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. 4.
"King. How fares our cousin Hamlet?
Hamlet. Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish; I eat the air." Hamlet, III.2.d
"If he be laid upon green, the green predominates; if upon yellow, the yellow; laid upon black, he looketh all black. Some that have kept chameleons a whole year to- gether could never perceive that they fed upon anything but air."--Syl. Sylvarum
"The moon sleeps with Endymion." Merchant of Venice, V. 1.
"The moon of her own ac cord came to Endymion as he was asleep."--De Augmentis
"So we grew together, Like to a double cherry." Midsummer Night's Dream, III. 2.
"There is a cherry-tree that hath double blossoms."--Syl.Sylvarum
"Have you a daughter? . . . Let her not walk i' th' sun."-- Hamlet, II. 2.
"Aristotle dogmatically assigned the cause of generation to the sun."--Novum Organum.
Of Julius Cæsar: "The foremost man of all this world." -Julius Cæsar, IV. 3.
"The noblest man That ever lived."--Ibid., III. 1.
"I am constant as the northern star. Of whose true fixed and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament. The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks; They are all fire, and every one doth shine; But there's but one in all doth hold his place.So in the world; 't is furnished well with men, And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive; But in the number I do know but one That, unassailable, holds on his rank, Unshaked of motion."--Ibid.
"The most excellent spirit, his ambition reserved, of the world."--Imago Civilis Julius Cæsar
"A man of a great and noble soul."--Ibid.
"He [Julius Cæsar] referred all things to himself, and was the truest centre of his own actions.--Ibid.
"When we were boys, Who would believe that there were mountaineers Dew-lapped like bulls, whose throats had hanging at 'em Wallets of flesh?"' -Tempest, III. 3.
"The people that dwell at the foot of snow mountains, or otherwise upon the ascent, especially the women, by drink- ing snow-water, have great bags hanging under their throats." --Natural History
"Idle weeds that grow In our sustaining corn." King Lear, IV. 4.
"There be certain corn- flowers which come seldom or never in other places unless they be set, but only amongst corn."--Ibid.
"Ill mayst thou thrive, if thou grant any grace." -Richard II., V. 3.
"What! wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?" Merchant of Venice, IV.1.
"He who shows mercy to his enemy denies it to himself."-- Advancement of Learning.
"Go thou, and, like an executioner, Cut off the head of too-fast- growing sprays, That look too lofty in our commonwealth." Richard II., III. 4.
"Periander, being coun- selled with how to preserve a tyranny newly usurped, went into his garden and topped all the highest flowers, signifying that it consists in the cutting off and keeping low of the no- bility and grandees."--Ibid., Book II.
"Bir. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine. Cost. O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir."Love's Labor's Lost, V. 2.
"Philip of Macedon, when he would needs overrule and put down an excellent musician in an argument touching music, was well answered by him again. "God forbid, sir," saith he, "that your fortune should be so bad as to know these things better than I."--Ibid., Book VII.Adv.Learning
"It was to show my skill, That more for praise than purpose meant to kill. And, out of question, so it is sometimes; Glory grows guilty of de- tested crimes, "I am of his opinion that said pleasantly that it is a shame to him that is a suitor to the mistress to make love to the waiting woman."1--The Apology.
1 It is every one's duty, Bacon often said, to cultivate virtue, not for fame or praise, but for virtue's own sake. He makes a note of this in the Promus, where he calls praise the handmaid (waiting woman), and virtue the mistress. The two forms of expression, quoted above, constitute a binary star.
When for fame's sake, for praise, an outward part, We bend to that the working of the heart. And I, for praise alone, now seek to spill The poor deer's blood, that my heart means no ill." Love's Labor's Lost, IV. 1.
"But sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds." Sonnet XCIV.
"The best things are in their corruption the worst; the sweetest wine makes the sharpest vinegar."--Charge against Robert, Earl of Somerset.
"This is th' imposthume of much wealth and peace, That inward breaks, and shows no cause without Why the man dies." Hamlet, IV. 4.
"He that turneth the humors back and maketh the wound bleed inwards endangereth ma- lign ulcers and pernicious im- posthumations."--Essay of Seditions.
"I am never weary when I hear sweet music. The reason is, your spirits are attentive." Merchant of Venice, V. 1.
"Some noises help sleep, as --soft singing; the cause is, they move in the spirit a gentle attention."--Natural History.
"To take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them."1 -Hamlet, III. 4.
"He came with such a sea of multitude upon Italy."-- Apothegm, No. 242.
1 This singular metaphor has caused commentators great perplexity. The sight of a man advancing against ocean waves with a sword or needle gun would not be, it must be confessed, an edifying spectacle. Pope, therefore, proposed to read a siege of troubles; Forest so rendered it on the stage. Another commentator preferred an assail of troubles. It requires, however, but a glance at Bacon's writings, in which the word sea is used over and over again for host or multitude, to redeem the passage. Bacon evidently adopted it from the Greek, kakîn p_lagoj.
"Sense sure you have, Else could you not have mo tion."1 Hamlet, III. 4.
[So in the quarto, 1604; omitted in the folio, 1623.] "Some of the ancient philosophers could not conceive how there can be voluntary motion without sense."--De Augmentis.
"There 's a divinity that shapes our ends." Ibid.
"I cannot forget that the poet Martial saith, 'What divinity there is in chance!"2-- Letter to King James.
"Advantage is a better soldier than rashness." Henry V., III. 6.
"If time give his Majesty the advantage, what need precipitation to extreme reme- dies?"--Letter to Villiers.
"With taper light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, Is wasteful and ridiculous excess." King John, IV. 2.
"But, this work, shining in itself, needs no taper."-- Amendment of Laws.
1 The commentators can make nothing of these lines also. One of them suggests that for "motion" we substitute notion; another, emotion. Others still contend that the word "sense" must be understood to mean sensation or sensibility. Dr. Ingleby was certain that Hamlet refers to the Queen's wanton impulse. As to the omission in the folio, not even the most daring commentator has ventured to offer a remark. In Bacon's prose, however, we find not only an explanation of the passage in the quarto, but the reason why it was excluded in the folio. The 'Advancement of Learning' was published in 1605, the year after the quarto, but it contains no repudiation of the ancient doctrine that everything which has motion has sense. Indeed, Bacon had a lingering opinion that the doctrine is true, even as applied to the planets in the influence of which they were supposed to exercise over the affairs of men. But in 1623 he published a new edition of the 'Advancement' under the title of De Augmentis Scientiarum, and therein expressly declared that the doctrine is untrue; that there is motion in inanimate bodies without sense, but with what he called a kind of perception. The Shake-speare folio came out in the same year, and the passage in question, no longer harmonizing with the author's views, dropped out.
2 "O quantum est casibus ingenium."
"Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you, Which better fits a lion than a man."Troilus and Cressida, V. 3.
"For of lions it is a received belief that their fury ceaseth toward anything that yieldeth and prostrateth itself."1-- Bacon's Essay ,Of Charity.
"To be wise and love exceeds man's might; that dwells with gods above." Ibid., III. 2.
"It is impossible to love and be wise."--Essay of Love.
"Court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rain-water out o' door." King Lear, III. 2 .
"He was no brewer of holy water in court." Bacon [1592.]
"Your lordship is no dealer of holy water, but noble and real."--Letter to Salisbury .
"Like bright metal on a sullen ground, My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,Shall show more goodly, and attract more eyes, than that which hath no foil to set it off." 1 Henry IV., I. 2.
"We see in needle-works and embroideries it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground than to have a dark and melan- choly work upon a lightsome ground."--Essay of Adversity.
"I know he would not be a wolf, But that he sees the Romans are but sheep." Julius Cæsar, I. 3.
"Cato, the censor, said that the Romans were like sheep." --Advancement of Learning.
"Being seldom seen, I could not stir But, like a comet, I was wondered at." 1 Henry IV., III. 2.
"Wonder is the child of rarity."2--Val. Ter.
1 In this instance, as in many others, it requires Bacon's prose to explain "Shake-speare's" poetry.
2 This conception of wonder, as a state of mind produced by anything (whether extraordinary or not) that is rare, was a favorite one with Bacon. We find it repeatedly in his prose works. We find it also in many of the plays. Henry IV, tells his son to keep himself as much as possible out of the people's sight in order that, whenever he is seen, he may excite greater applause. It is, at least, remarkable that a causal relation of so subtle a nature should occur over and over again in both sets of works.
"Love Will creep in service where it cannot go." Two Gentlemen of Verona, IV. 2.
"Love must creep where it cannot go."--Letter to King James.
"O great corrector of enormous times, Shaker of o'er-rank states, thou grand decider Of dusty and old titles, that heal'st with blood The earth when she is sick and cur'st the world O' the pleurisy of people."1 Two Noble Kinsmen, V. 1.
"I account no state flourish- ing but that which hath neither civil wars nor too long peace.
"The cankers of a calm world and a long peace." 1 Henry IV., IV. 2.
"States corrupted through wealth and too great length of peace."--Letter to the Earl of Rutland.
1 "I believe that Shakespeare has expressed the true philosophy of war [!] in those magnificent verses in the 'Two Noble Kinsmen,' which are as unlike Beaumont and Fletcher as Michael Angelo's charcoal head on the wall of Farnesia is unlike Raphael."--James Russell Lowell.
"We cannot escape from a certain truth in Shakespeare's view of war that it is the great corrector of enormous times."--Pearson's National Life and Character, p. 140.
We must add that the sentiment itself, pardonable perhaps in the seventeenth century but not in this, is as barbarous as it is illogical. Force has no moral quality. As well expect an earthquake to disturb a theorem in Euclid, or the guns of an iron-clad to shake the rule of three.
"To be or not to be, that is the question." Hamlet, III. 1.
"To be or not to be, that is the alternative."--Parmenides.1 [Specially commended by Bacon.]
"Boult. I warrant you, mistress, thunder shall not so awake the bed of eels."-- Pericles, IV. 2.
"Upon the noise of thunder . . . fishes are thought to be frayed [terrified]."--Natural History.
"As the mournful crocodile With sorrow snares relenting passengers." 2 Henry VI., III. 2
"It is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour."--Essay of Wisdom.
"Soothsayer: Therefore, O Antony, stay not by his side: Thy dæmon, that 's thy spirit which keeps thee, is Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable, Where Cæsar is not; but near him thy angel Becomes a Fear, as being overpowered: therefore, Make space enough between you." Antony and Cleopatra, V. 2.
"There was an Egyptian soothsayer that made Antonius believe that his genius, which otherwise was brace and confident, was, in the presence of Octavius Cæsar, poor and cowardly; and therefore he advised him to absent himself as much as he could, and re- move far from him."2--Natural History.
1 Not translated from the original Greek into any other language till more than two hundred years after 'Hamlet' was written. We give the original, and also a Latin version published at Amsterdam in 1835:
"OÛtwj _ p£mpan pel_nai cr_wn stn oÙc ."
"Ergo vel esse omnino vel non esse necesse est."
2 The 'Natural History' was not printed till eleven years after Shakspere's death. It is clear, then, that Shakspere did not take the story from Bacon. It is almost equally clear that Bacon did not take it from "Shake-speare," for he adds a particular which is not in the play, viz.: "The soothsayer was thought to be suborned by Cleopatra to make Antony live in Egypt and other places remote from Rome."
"It is so very very late That we may call it early." Romeo and Juliet, III. 4.
"It is not now late but early."--Essay of Death.
It may be interesting, also, to compare some of the entries in Bacon's scrap-book with passages in the plays, as follows:--
"One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail." Coriolanus, IV. 7.
FROM BACON'S PROMUS.
"To drive out a nail with a nail."
"Losers will have leave To ease their stomachs with their bitter tongues." Titus Andronicus, III. 1
"Always let losers have their words."-Promus
"Happy man be his dole." Merry Wives, III. 4.
"Happy man, happy dole." Promus
"Pardon is still the nurse of second woe." Measure for Measure, II. 1.
"He that pardons his enemies, the amner [bailiff] shall have his goods."
"Of sufferance comes ease." 2 Henry IV., V. 4.
"Of sufferance cometh ease."
"Call me not fool, till heaven hath sent me fortune." As You Like It, II. 7.
"God sendeth fortune to fools."
"Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey." Measure for Measure, III. 1.
"Riches, the baggage of virtue."
"So the maid that stood in the way for my wish shall show me the way to my will."
Henry V., V. 2.
"He had rather have his will than his wish." -Promus
"Seldom cometh the better." Richard III., II.
2. "Seldom cometh the better."
"Frost itself as actively doth burn." Hamlet, III. 4.
"Frigus adurit." [Frost burns.]
"The dissembler is a slave." Pericles, I. 1.
"He who dissembles is not free."
"A fool's bolt is soon shot." Henry V., III. 7.
"A fool's bolt is soon shot."
"Deceive more slyly than Ulysses could.' 3 Henry VI., III. 2.
"The mild glance which sly Ulysses lent." Lucrece.
"Ulysses, sly in speech."1
"Give sorrow leave awhile to tutor me." Richard II., IV. 1.
"Our sorrows are our schoolmasters."
"For loan oft loses both itself and friend." Hamlet, I. 3.
"He who lends to a friend loses double."
"I'll devil-porter it no further." Macbeth, II. 3.
"He is the devil's porter who does more than what is required of him."
1 Dr. Theobald calls attention to the fact that this entry in the Promus is the sole instance in Bacon's prose works in which Ulysses is spoken of as sly, though in "Shake-speare" he is never alluded to otherwise. The entry seems to have been made with exclusive reference to dramatic use.
"Goodness, growing to a pleurisy, Dies in his own too much." Hamlet, IV. 7.
"So good that he is good for nothing."-Promus
"All's well that ends well."
All's Well that Ends Well,
"All is well that ends well." Promus
"Pride must have a fall." Richard II., IV. 5.
"Pride will have a fall."1
"Love moderately; long love doth so." Romeo and Juliet, II. 6.
"Love me little, love me long."
"Two, together weeping, make one woe." Richard II., V. 1.
"Make not two sorrows of one."
"Every Jack became a gentleman." Richard III., I. 3.
"Every jack would be alord."
"Your words and your performances are no kin." Othello, IV. 2.
"Saying and doing are two things."
"The latter end of a fray and the beginning of a feast." 1 Henry IV., IV. 2.
"Better come to the ending of a feast than to the beginning of a fray."
"Good wine needs no bush." As You Like It.
"Good wine needs no bush."
"Thy nature, It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way." Macbeth, I. 4.
"In ways, commonly the nearest is the foulest."
1 It should be borne in mind that many words, phrases, and sentiments, now familiar to us, have been made so by "Shake-speare." Their simultaneous admission into Bacon's memorandum-book sufficiently attests the fact that they were then new to English readers. The above entry is a mere paraphrase of a biblical proverb.
"The inaudible and noiseless foot of time." All's Well, V. 3.
"The gods have woollen feet."
"The ripest mulberry." Coriolanus, III. 2.
"Riper than a mulberry."
"Do we must what force will have us do." Richard II., III. 3.
"They that are bound must obey."
"To hazard all our lives in one small boat."
1 Henry VI., IV. 6. "You are in the same ship."
"Let him not know 't, and he's not robb'd at all." Othello, III. 3.
"What the eye seeth not, the heart rueth not."
"Must bend his body, If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him." Julius Cæsar, I. 2.
"Dieu vous garde, monsieur." Twelfth Night, III. 1.
"A beck is as good as a dieu vous garde."
"Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth." Hamlet, I. 2.
"Tell a lie to know a truth."
"The strings of life Began to crack." Lear, V. 3.
"At length the string cracks."
"Thou hast quarrelled with a man for coughing in the street." Romeo and Juliet, III.
1. "A cough cannot hide itself."
"Ay, sir, but 'while the grass grows'--the proverb is something musty." Hamlet, III. 2.
"While the grass grows, the horse starveth."
"Out of heaven's benediction To the warm sun." Lear, II. 2.
"Out of God's blessing into the warm sun." Promus
"The world on wheels." Two Gentlemen of Verona, III. 1.
"The world runs on wheels."
"Thought is free." Tempest, III. 2.
"Thought is free."
"To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish." King John, IV. 2.
"To help the sun with lan- terns."
"You go not, till I set you up a glass Where you may see the in- most part of you." Hamlet, III. 4.
"There is no better glass than an old friend."
"You shall not gauge me By what we do to-night." Merchant of Venice, II. 2.
"Evening's speech is very different from the morning's."
"Fortune . . . doth ebb and flow like the sea, being governed, as the sea is, by the moon." 1 Henry IV., I. 2.
"Fortune changes like the moon."
"A giving hand, though foul, shall have fair praise." Love's Labor's Lost, IV. 1.
"Food is wholesome which comes from a dirty hand."
"As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on." Hamlet, I. 2.
"If you eat, appetite will come."
"If the cat will after kind, So be sure will Rosalind." As You Like It, III. 2.
"It is the cat's nature and the wench's fault."
He woo'd in haste and means to wed at leisure. Taming of the Shrew, III. 2.
"He that resolves in haste repents at leisure." -Promus
"I am quickly ill, and well, So Antony loves."Antony and Cleopatra, I. 3.
"A woman is ill whenever she wishes, and whenever she wishes, she is well."
"I am giddy; . . . I do fear That I shall lose distinction in my joys." Troilus and Cressida, III. 2.
"When one good follows another, a man loses his balance."
"Make use of thy salt hours." Timon of Athens, IV. 3.
"Life is a little salt-cellar."
"When the sea is calm, all boats alike Show mastership in floating." Coriolanus, IV. 1.
"Any one can be a pilot in fine weather."
"Beggars cannot choose."Taming of the Shrew, Ind.
"Beggars should be no choosers."
"Teach me to forget." Romeo and Juliet, I. 1.
"The art of forgetting."
"Cres. Well, well.Pan. 'Well, well'!" Troilus and Cressida, I. 2.
"That is all one."Merry Wives, I. 1.
"All is one."
"Can so young a thorn beginto prick?" Henry VI., V. 5.
"A thorn is gentle when it is young."
1 "The peculiarity of the use of this word consists in the fact that Shakespeare uses it both as continuing a conversation and as concluding it; other authors, previous and contemporary, in the first manner only."--Mrs. Pott's Edition of the Promus, page 168.
"Coal black is better than an- other hue, In that it scorns to take another hue." Titus Andronicus, IV. 2.
"Black will take no other hue."
"Not to be abed after midnight is to be up betimes; and diluculo surgere, thou know- est."--Twelfth Night, II. 2.
"Diluculo surgere salubrium" [sic].
"Romeo. Good morrow.What early tongue so sweet saluteth me? So soon to bid good morrow to thy bed. Where care lodges, sleep will never lie. There golden sleep doth reign. Thou art uproused by some distemperature."1 Romeo and Juliet, II. 3.
"Romë. Good morrow. Sweet, for speech in the morning [i. e. morning speech is to be noted as sweet]. Early rising.Lodged next. Golden sleep. Uprouse."2
1 The above disconnected sentences from 'Romeo and Juliet' are taken from within a space of eleven consecutive lines. The corresponding entries in the Promus were also made substantially at one time; they are found very near together. We find the earliest notice of the play to have been under date of 1597, or immediately after this curious preliminary study for a part of it was recorded by Bacon in his private memorandum book. It seems to us as undeniable as any theorem in Euclid that the writer of the Promus had something to do with the composition of 'Romeo and Juliet.'
2 This was the first (private) appearance of this word in the English language; its second (public) appearance was two or three years later--in the play.
The foregoing lists might be extended almost indefinitely; but enough is given to show that on these two minds (if there were two) fell the light of intelligence, in repeated flashes, at the same exact angle. The cumulative force of these examples, taken in connection with the solid prejudice against which, in some instances, they break in vain, reminds us of the charge of the Old Guard at Waterloo, the "irresistible meeting the immovable."1
1 The number of parallelisms similar to the above, already found in these two sets of works, exceeds a thousand.
"It is safe to say that no such list can be produced from the writings of any other two authors of that age or of any age; no similarity of life, genius, or studies ever produced an identity like this. . . . The coincidences are not merely such as might be attributed to the style and usage of that time; they extend to the scope of thought, the particular ideas, the modes of thinking and feeling, the choice of metaphors, the illustrative imagery, and those singular peculiarities, oddities, and quaintnesses of expression and use of words which everywhere and at all times mark and distinguish the individual writer."--Holmes' Authorship of Shakespeare.
If we consider, also, the difference between the two men in birth, education, and mode of life, these similarities become, on the commonly accepted theory, absolutely inexplicable. In any view, however, they are so extraordinary that John Weiss (who has produced the ablest argument against the Baconian theory we have ever read) is compelled to admit that the two authors were probably close companions in literary work.
"Does any one dare to say that Shakespeare and Bacon did not compare notes upon many subjects? Many of the reputed parallelisms are indirect traces of such intercourse.--Wit, Humor, and Shakespeare, p. 261.
"When we come to internal evidences, afforded by a comparison of what Bacon has written and what Shakespeare wrote, some quoted coincidences are assuredly very striking. Enough of unimpeachable force has been got together to disclose a really remarkable similarity of phrase, of metaphor, of opinions, and of inferred attainments. What perhaps affords the nearest approach to a convincing argument for a common authorship, is the use of the same out-of-the-way quotations and the reproductions of precisely the same errors."--The [London] Standard, May 1, 1888.
"Some of these parallelisms are not coincidences, but something like identities."--Appleton Morgan.
7. Bacon's love of flowers perfumed his whole life. It was to him, as he said, "the purest of human pleasures." Of the thirty-five species of garden plants mentioned in the Plays, he enumerates thirty-two in his prose works, bending over them, as it were, lovingly, and, like the dramatist, noting the seasons in which they bloom. In both authors, taste and knowledge go hand in hand.
This point will bear elaboration, for the two methods of treatment seem to be mutually related, like the foliage of a plant and the exquisite blossom. Bacon says: "I do hold it, in the royal ordering of gardens, there ought to be gardens for all the months of the year, in which severally things of beauty may be then in season;" and with this end in view, he proceeds to classify plants according to their periods of blooming.
"Shake-speare," on his part, introduces to us a beautiful shepherdess distributing flowers among her friends,--to the young, the flowers of spring; to the middle-aged, those of summer; while the flowers that bloom on the edge of winter are given to the old. What is still more remarkable, the groupings in both are substantially the same. One commentator has even proved the correctness of a disputed reading in the play by reference to the corresponding passage in the essay.
We present the two lists, side by side, for comparison, as follows:--
"Now, my fair'st friend, I would I had some flowers o' th' spring, that might Become your time of day; and yours; and yours, . . . . daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty; violets, dim, But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses, That die unmarried ere they can behold Bright Phbus in his strength, a malady Most incident to maids; bold ox lips and The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds, the flower-de-luce being one.
"Sir, the year growing ancient-- Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth Of trembling winter--the fairest flowers o' th' season Are our carnations and streaked gilliflower.. . . . .Hot lavender, mint, savory, marjoram;
"There followeth, for the lat- ter part of January and Feb- ruary . . . crocus vernus, both the yellow and the gray; Prim- roses, anemones, the early tulip, the hyacinthus orientalis. For March, there comes violets, especially the single blue, which are the earliest; the yellow daffodil, the daisy. In April, follow the double white violet, the wall-flower, the stock gilli- flower, the cowslip, flower-de- luces, and lilies of all natures; rosemary-flowers, the tulip, the double peony, the pale daffodil, the French honey- suckle."
"In May and June, come pinks of all sorts, specially the blush-pink; roses of all kinds, except the musk, which comes later; honeysuckles, the French marigold, flor-Africa- nus, vine flowers, lavender in flowers, the sweet satyrian. In July, come gilliflowers of all varieties, musk-roses."
The marigold, that goes to bed
with th' sun.
And with him rises, weeping;
these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think
To men of middle age.
For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long."
Winter's Tale, IV. 3.
"For December and January and the latter part of November, you must take such things as are green all winter: holly, ivy, rosemary, lavender, periwinkle, and sweet marjoram."1-- Bacon's Essay on Gardens.
The essay was first printed in 1625, nine years after Shakspere's death. It seems reasonable to conclude that Bacon [who had made a study of gardens all his life], either borrowed from Shakspere or wrote the play.
"It is not probable that Bacon would have anything to learn of William Shakespeare concerning the science of gardening."--Spedding.
VIII. In 1867 there was discovered in a private library in London a box of old papers, among which were some manuscripts of Francis Bacon, bound together in the form of a volume. In the table of contents on the title-page, among the names of other compositions known to be Bacon's, but not in his handwriting, appear those of two of the "Shake-speare" plays,--Richard II. and Richard III.,--though the plays themselves have been abstracted from the book.2 Judge Holmes adds the
1 Trees and fruits only omitted.
2 In the table of contents we find, also, the title of one of Nash's plays, 'The Isle of Dogs,' never published. But Nash did not write the whole of this play. He complained that several scenes in it the following piece of information in regard to this discovery:--
"The blank space at the side and between the titles is scribbled all over with various words, letters, phrases, and scraps of verse in English and Latin, as if the copyist were merely trying his pen, and writing down whatever first came into his head. Among these scribblings, beside the name of Francis Bacon several times, the name of William Shakespeare is written eight or nine times over."
It is a singular coincidence that the extraordinary word, "honorificabilitudino," found here, occurs with a slight change of ending in 'Love's Labor's Lost.' Also, the line, "revealing day through every cranny peeps," from the "Shake-speare" poem, 'Lucrece,' appears among the scribblings.1
The best experts assign the date of these pen performances, in which the names of Bacon and Shakespeare flowed so naturally, and, on the part of the writer, so unconsciously and spontaneously, to the age of Elizabeth.
"The only place in the world where we may be sure the manuscript of a "Shake-speare" play once existed is Bacon's portfolio."--R. M. Theobald.
been interpolated by another. The presence of the MS. among Bacon's papers sufficiently indicates whose hand had supplemented the author's. Furthermore, following the title of this play, appears the abbreviated word, "frmnt" (fragment), as though the interpolated part only had been included in the collection.
"Revealing day through every cranny spies."
As this does not end so happily as the line in the scribblings, it has been suggested that the latter may represent the form as first presented to the mind of the poet, if not so written, but subsequently changed under the exigency of rhyme.
IX. At the death of Queen Elizabeth, John Davies, the poet and courtier, went to Scotland to meet James I. To him, while on the journey northward, Bacon addressed a letter, asking kind intercession in his behalf with the king, and expressing the hope, in closing, that he (Davies) would be "good to concealed poets." This expression indicates that Bacon's acknowledged writings do not reveal the whole man.1 Something in him of a poetic nature was unquestionably hid from the mass of his contemporaries. John Aubrey, Milton's friend, who was born the year after Bacon's death, and who derived his knowledge of Bacon from those who knew the chancellor personally, states that "his lordship was a good poet, but concealed."2
We find a similar hint in Florio's 'World of Words,' published in 1598. Florio was a learned Italian, and a familiar figure in the literary and court circles of London. He is now known to fame as translator of Montaigne's Essays into English. That he was on terms of intimacy with Bacon is now a known fact, for in some of the Pembroke MSS., recently published, the figures as a member, with Herbert, Hobbes, and Jonson, of Bacon's literary bureau at Gorhambury. In the preface to the above-mentioned work, Florio commends a certain sonnet, written, as he says, by a "friend" of his, "who loved better to be a poet than to be counted so." Professors Minto and Baynes, judging from internal evidences, concur in opinion that the author of the "Shake-speare" plays wrote this sonnet.1
1 "The allusion to 'concealed poets' I cannot explain."--Spedding's Life of Bacon, Vol. III. p. 190.
2 As usual, critics differ in their estimates of Aubrey:--
"His character for veracity has never been impeached; and as a very diligent antiquary his testimony is worthy of attention."--Malone.
"He was a very honest man, and most accurate in his account of matters of fact."--Toland.
"A shiftless person, roving, and magotie-headed, and sometimes little better than crazed."--Anthony Wood.
"Aubrey thought little, believed much, and confused everything."--Gifford.
1 Edward Arber, in the preface to his valuable edition of Bacon's Essays, says that Anthony Bacon visited Bordeaux and contracted a friendship with Montaigne in 1582, two years after the first publication of Montaigne's Essays. "Without doubt," he adds, "this acquaintanceship resulted in these French Essays being early brought under [Francis] Bacon's notice." We know that the author of 'The Tempest' was familiar with them, as the following close parallelism will show:--
"For no kind of trafic Would I admit; no name of magistrate; Letters should not be known; riches, poverty, And use of service, none; contract, succession, Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil; No occupation; all men idle. . . . All things in common." The Tempest, II. 1.
"It is a nation that hath no kind of trafic; no knowledge of letters; . . . no name of magis- trate; . . . no use of service, of riches, or of poverty; no con- tracts, no successions, no divi- dences; no occupations, but idle; no respect of kindred, but common; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, corn or metal."-- Montaigne's Essays, I. Chap. XXX.
The above passage from 'The Tempest' is plainly taken from Montaigne's Essays. "The identity of phrase in the play and the Florio translation indicate the latter as the source."--R. G. White, Shakespeare, II. 88.
It may be pertinent to remark, in this connection, that the alleged autograph of Shakspere in a copy of Florio's 'Montaigne,' now in the British Museum, is beyond doubt a forgery.
X. With the exception of a brief but brilliant career in Parliament, and an occasional service in unimportant causes as attorney for the crown, Bacon seems to have been without employment from 1579, to 1597, when he published his first volume of Essays. Here were nearly twenty of the best years of his life apparently run to waste. The volume of Essays was a small 12mo, containing but ten out of the fifty-eight sparkling gems which subsequent editions gave to the admiration and delight of posterity. His philosophical works, excepting a slight sketch in 1585, did not begin to appear till several years later. From 1597 to 1607, when he was appointed Solicitor General, he was again, so far as we know, substantially unemployed,--a period of ten years, contemporaneous with the appearance of the great tragedies of Hamlet (rewritten), Julius Cæsar, King Lear, and Macbeth. In the mean while he hard pressed for money, and, failing to get relief (unhappily before the days of Samuel Weller) in a vain effort to marry a wealthy widow, he was twice actually thrown into prison for debt.1
That he was idle all this time, under great pecuniary pressure, his mind teeming with the richest fancy, it is impossible to admit. Such a hypothesis is utterly inconsistent with the possession of those fixed, almost phenomenal habits of industry with which he afterward achieved magnificent results. On this point, indeed, we have interesting testimony from his mother. A woman of deep piety, mindful of the properties of her station in life, she evidently became alarmed over some mystery connected with her son. Probably she had a suspicion of its nature, for not even the genius that created 'Hamlet' could subdue maternal instincts. In a letter to Anthony, under date of May 24, 1592, she expresses her solicitude, as follows:--
"I verily think your brother's weak stomach to digest hath been much caused and confirmed by untimely going to bed, and then musing nescio quid when he should sleep."1
At another time, when the two brothers were together at Gray's Inn, and full of enthusiasm, as she knew, for the wicked drama, she wrote, begging them--
"Not to mum, nor mask, nor sinfully revel."
It may be added that with his appointment to high office and advent into public life the production of the "Shake-speare" plays, for several years at least, suddenly terminated.2
1 Aubrey says it was his lordship's "working fancy" that kept him awake.
2 What a crushing argument our friends on the other side would have made against Scott's authorship of the Waverly novels, had a kind Providence sent them into the world fifty years earlier! Scott was a great poet, and previously to the publication of 'Waverly,' in the forty-third year of his age, he had never written a romance in prose. In 1814, at which time 'Waverly' made its mysterious appearance, Scott published in two volumes a work on 'Border Antiquities,' contributed articles on 'Chivalry' and the 'Drama' to the
XI. Ben Jonson was at one time Bacon's private secretary, and presumably in the secret, if there were any, of his employer's literary undertakings. In this fact we find the key to the exquisite satire of the inscription, composed by him and printed opposite "Shake-speare's" portrait in the folio of 1623, of which the following, in reference to the engraver's art, is an extract:--
"Oh, could he but have drawn his wit
As well in brasse as he hath hit
His face, the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brasse."
The portrait is "a hard, wooden, staring thing" (Richard Grant White), stupid, inane, hideous, with
Encyclopædia Britannica, and edited the 'Life and Works of Dean Swift.' The latter publication, comprising nineteen volumes, was issued in the same week with 'Waverly.' In the following year, 'Guy Mannering' appeared; and also, from Scott, the two poems, 'Lord of the Isles' and 'Field of Waterloo.' In 1816 came in quick succession from the Great Unknown the 'Antiquary,' 'Black Dwarf,' 'Old Mortality,' and 'Tales of My Landlord,' first series; and in the same year from Scott's pen, 'Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk' and the 'Edinburgh Annual Register.' The poem 'Harold the Dauntless' was published in January, 1817, preceded within thirty days by three of the above-named works of fiction.
During all this time Scott was keeping "open house at Abbotsford in the old feudal fashion, and was seldom without visitors, entirely occupied to all outward appearance with local and domestic business and sport, building and planting, adding wing to wing, acre to acre, plantation to plantation, with just leisure enough for the free-hearted entertainment of his guests and the cultivation of friendly relations with his humble neighbors."
He even mystified some of his most intimate friends by reviewing one of his own novels in the 'Quarterly,' going so far as to claim that "the characters of Shakespeare are not more exclusively human, not more perfectly men and women as they live and move, than those of this mysterious author."
straight hair, while the bust at Stratford has curls. Is this a work so extraordinary that we must sigh because the artist did not depict the mind as well as the face of his subject? Such a sentiment was very appropriate under Bacon's beautiful likeness, taken at the age of seventeen, where Jonson found it,1 but what a satire under Shakspere's! No wonder he added,--
Not on his picture, but his book."
Indeed, it requires just this view of Jonson in his relations with the mysterious author of the plays to vindicate his character. We want a stroke of lightning to clear the atmosphere around him. Down to the time of Gifford, a period of nearly two hundred years, his insincerity towards the reputed dramatist was a matter of almost universal comment among scholars. Dryden, Malone, Steevens, Chalmers, and others looked upon him for this reason as almost a monster of ingratitude and jealousy. In 1816, however, Gifford came to Jonson's defence with all the resources of his practised pen, and, if he did not succeed in driving his antagonists wholly from the field, he had the satisfaction, at least, of stretching several of them at full length upon it.
It is the old story of the quarrel between two parties who were looking each upon a different side of the same shield. Jonson's testimony is self-contradictory. In the early part of his career he took one
1 A miniature painted by Hilliard in 1578, and bearing the words, Si tabula daretur digna, animum mallem: "If one could but paint his mind!"
view of "Shake-speare"; later on, another and a very different one. The dividing line may be drawn at or near the year 1620. Previous to that date Shakspere was to him, as to all other contemporaries who give us any glimpse of the man, an impostor, or, in the words of Richard Simpson, an "uneducated peasant," masquerading as a dramatist. Accordingly, his references to Shakspere during this period were caustic and bitter in the extreme. They were such as almost to preclude the possibility of any friendship between them.1 We have already cited the well-known epigram to Poet-Ape;2 we purpose now to give two other extracts from Jonson's works, written at this time of his life, and to give them in extenso, in order that our readers may judge fairly and intelligently of the use we shall make of them.
The first is from the epilogue to 'Every Man in his Humor,' printed in 1616. The play was produced on the stage in 1598.
"Though need make many poets, and some such
As art and nature hath not bettered much,
Yet ours for want hath not so loved the stage,
As he dare serve the ill customs of the age,
Or purchase your delight at such a rate,
As, for it, he himself must justly hate:
1 The tradition that Shakspere was the means of securing for Jonson an introduction to the stage is unsupported by historical evidence. Gifford rejects the story as apocryphal.
"It is my fixed persuasion (not lightly adopted, but deduced from a wide examination of the subject) that Jonson never received either patronage, favor, or assistance from Shakespeare."--Gifford's Preface to Jonson's Works, p. ccli.
To make a child now swaddled, to proceed
Man, and then shoot up, in one beard and weed,
Past threescore years; or, with three rusty swords,
And help of some few foot and half-foot words,
Fight over York and Lancaster's long jars,
And in the trying-house bring wounds to scars."
That two of the historical plays of "Shake-speare" and 'The Winter's Tale' are slightly alluded to in the above can hardly be questioned. The reference to Perdita in the comedy is unmistakable. To represent a babe in one act, grown to sweet sixteen in the next, was the most conspicuous violation of the Greek unities on the English stage at that time. Blinded by a very natural prejudice against the reputed author of the play, Jonson failed to see the exquisite beauties of the play itself. He declared that he would have hated himself, had he been the author of it.1
1 In his conversations with Drummond he again returned to the attack on the 'Winter's Tale.' "Shakepeare wanted art," he said, instancing the sea-coast of Bohemia as a proof, though he must have known that "Shake-speare" simply retained that much-abused item in geography from the novel on which the play was founded. See further on same subject, p. 101.
'The Poetaster' was produced in 1601. The leading personage in it is Crispinus, a famous caricature, in which the use of uncouth words derived from the Latin, on the part of one or more of Jonson's rivals, is severely ridiculed. At the instance of Horace, who complained that many of these words were stolen from him, Crispinus is finally arrested and brought to trial before a Roman court, Julius Cæsar himself being present and taking part in the proceedings. The indictment is read, and then the following paper, duly acknowledged by defendant to be of his composition, is put in evidence:--
"Ramp up my genius, be not retrograde; But boldly nominate a spade a spade. What, shall thy lubrical and glibbery muse Live, as she were defunct, like punk in stews! Alas! that were no modern consequence, To have cothurnal buskins frighted hence. No, teach thy Incubus to poetize, . . . . . . . . Upon that puft-up lump of balmy froth, Or clumsie chilblained judgement; that with oath Magnificates his merit; and bespawls The conscious time, with humorous foam and brawls, As if his organons of sense would crack The sinews of thy patience. Break his back, O poets, all and some! For now we list Of strenuous vengence to clutch the fist."
Then comes the following remarkable scene:-- Cæs. "Here be words, Horace, able to bastinado a man's ears.
Hor. Ay.Please it, great Cæsar, I have pills about me, Mixt with the whitest kind of hellibore, Would give him a light vomit, that should purge His brain and stomach of those tumorous heats, Might I have leave to minister unto him.Cæs.O, be his Æsculapius, gentle Horace! You shall have leave, and he shall be your patient. Virgil, Use your authority, command him forth.Virg.Cæsar is careful of your health, Crispinus; And hath himself chose a physician To minister unto you; take his pills.Hor.
They are somewhat bitter, sir, but very wholesome. Take yet another; so; stand by, they'll work anon. . . . . . . . . . . .
95Crisp. O ----- ! Tib. How now, Crispinus? Cris. O, I am sick ----- ! Hor. A basin! a basin! quickly; our physic works. Faint not, man. Cris. Retrograde -- reciprocal -- incubus. Cæs. What's that, Horace? Hor. Retrograde, reciprocal, and incubus are come up. Gal. Thanks be to Jupiter! Cris. O -- glibbery -- lubrical -- defunct -- O --! Gal. They come up easy. Cris. O -- O -- ! Tib. What's that? Hor. Nothing yet. Cris. Magnificate -- Mac. Magnificate! That came up somewhat hard. Cris. O! I shall cast up my -- spurious -- Hor. Good. Again. Cris. Chilblain'd -- O -- O -- clumsie -- Hor. That clumsie stuck terribly. Gal. Who would have thought there should have been such a deal of filth in a poet? . . . . . . . . . . . Cæs. Now all's come out, I trow. What a tumult he had in his belly! Hor. No, there's the often conscious damp behind still. Cris. O -- conscious -- damp. Hor. It is come up, thanks to Apollo and Æsculapius; yet there's another. You were best take a pill more. Cris. O, no; O -- O -- O -- O -- O -- ! Hor. Force yourself then a little with your finger. Cris. O -- O -- prorumpt. Tib. Prorumpt! What a noise it made! As if his spirit would have prorumpt with it. Cris. O -- O -- O ! Virg. Help him, it sticks strangely, whatever it is. Cris. O -- clutcht. 96 Cæs. Clutcht! it is well that's come up; it had but a nar- row passage. Cris. O ---- ! Virg. Again! hold him! hold his head there. Cris. O -- obstupefact. Tib. Nay, that are all we, I assure you. Hor. How do you feel yourself? Cris. Pretty and well, I thank you. Virg. These pills can but restore him for a time, Not cure him quite of such a malady. 'T is necessary, therefore, he observe A strict and wholesome diet. Look you take Each morning of old Cato's principles A good draught next your heart. That walk upon, Till it be well digested; then come home, And taste a piece of Terence; but, at any hand, Shun Plautus and Ennius; they are meats Too harsh for a weak stomach. Use to read (But not without a tutor) the best Greeks. . . . . . . . . . . . Now dissolve the court. Cæs. It is the bane and torment of our ears, To hear the discords of those jangling rhymers, That with their bad and scandalous practices Bring all true arts and learning in contempt. Blush, folly, blush; here's none that fears The wagging of an ass's ears. Detraction is but baseness' varlet, And apes are apes, though clothed in scarlet."
It is admitted that Jonson intended this satire for the benefit of more than one of his contemporaries,--for Marston, among others; but that Shakspere was his principal target is fully apparent:--
1. At the opening of the above scene the name of Crispinus is given with a hyphen; thus, Cri-spinus.
2. Crispinus was also an actor, for Cæsar expressly
states that, "though clothed in scarlet," he will still be an ape.1 A scarlet dress was the badge of the profession. When Shakspere's company marched through the streets of London on the day of the king's coronation, each member of it was presented with four and one-half yards of red or scarlet cloth. No other person whom Jonson could have had in mind ever trod the boards. Marston and Dekker were playwrights only.
3. Crispinus had no classical education, for he is advised, when studying the Greek dramatists, to employ a tutor. This could not have been said of Marston, who was an accomplished Oxford scholar.
4. The father of Crispinus was a "man of worship." John Shakspere, father of William, had been bailiff of Stratford, and entitled to the designation of "worship."
5. Crispinus possessed a coat-of-arms. Shakspere had applied for one, and on that account was called "gentle."
"The very character of the arms attributed to Crispinus is exactly that of Shakspere's fraudulent coat; it belongs to the canting department of heraldry, and is merely an emblematic pun upon the name. The shake of Shakspere is represented by the crest,--a falcon flapping his wings; the speare, by a spear in a bend upon the shield. Such was Crispinus' canting coat: the cry, by a face crying; the spinas, by three thorns. There is no suggestion that Marston's arms warranted any such satire.
1 The word "Ape" seems to have been Jonson's favorite appellation for Shakspere previously to 1620. It is the exact word to express his contempt for a great literary imposture.
"It was not against the misfortune of hereditary gentility that Jonson directed his satire; it was against the folly, as he considered it, of a peasant seeking to improve his social status by obtaining a grant of arms."--R. Simpson, No. British Review, July, 1870, p. 413.
6. The charge of using outlandish terms is applicable to "Shake-speare" as well as to Marston. The first word to "come up" in the presence of the Court was retrograde, "recently used," says Mr. Morley (English Writers, Vol. X. p. 392), "by Shakespeare in Hamlet":--
"It is most retrograde1 to our desire."--I. 2.
Several others in the list, including the one that Cæsar thought so fortunately delivered, were also taken from "Shake-speare." Mr. Donnelly gives the following kindred specimens found in the plays:--
7. This was also the opinion of contemporaries, for the anonymous author of 'The Return from Parnassus,' published in 1606, refers to this caricature in 'The Poetaster' as follows:--
1 Bacon used the word once in his prose works before it was caricatured by Jonson. He called special attention to it as, on the occasion, very apt and expressive.
2 The Great Cryptogram, p. 24.
"Oh, that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow, for he brought up Horace giving the poets a pill; but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him beray his credit."1
'Bartholomew Fair' was acted in 1614; in the induction to that play we find the following:--
"If there never be a servant-monster in a fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques! he is loth to make nature afraid in his plays, like those that begat tales, tempests,
1 Mr. Nicholson, the latest editor of Jonson's works (II. 262) thinks that "Shake-speare" must have ridiculed Jonson "in a piece that has not come down to us" (at some time previously to the appearance of the Poetaster), "as a precedent for Horace's pills."
"Of the twenty-nine inculpated words, several either had been, or were immediately afterwards, used by Shakespeare,--such as retrograde, reciprocal, defunct, puff, damp, clutched.
"In the 'Troilus and Cressida' it is quite clear that Shakespeare, as if in express defiance of Jonson's critcism, laid himself out to adopt strange-sounding words into his language."--R. Simpson, No. Brit. Review, July, 1870.
Jacob Feis, author of 'Shakspere and Montaigne,' presents an additional reason for believing Crispinus is a caricature of Shakspere. He says:--
"The full name given by Jonson to Crispinus is Rufus Laberius Crispinus. John Marston already, in 1598, designates Shakspere by the nickname of 'Rufus.' Every one can convince himself of this by reading first Shakspere's 'Venus and Adonis' and, immediately afterwards, John Marston's 'Pigmalion's Image.'
"The name of Rufus has two peculiarities which may have induced Marston to confer it upon Shakspere. First of all, like the English king of that name, Shakspere's pre-name was William. Secondly, the best-preserved portrait of Shakspere shows him with hair verging upon a reddish hue.
"Laberius (from labare, to shake; hence Shak-erius, a name similar to Greene's Shake-scene) is clearly an indication of the Poet's [sic] family name."--p. 160.
Herr Feis also calls attention to the fact that Horace in the 'Poetaster' asks if the father of Crispinus be not dead; John Shakspere had just died in Stratford.
and such like drolleries, to mix his head with other men's heels."--Ben Jonson.
In explanation of the above we quote as follows:
"The mention of 'servant-monster' recalls Caliban in Shakespeare's 'Tempest,' and the expression 'to mix his head with other men's heels,' a scene in the play where Trinculo takes refuge from the storm under Caliban's gabardine. There can be no doubt that Jonson was alluding to the 'Tempest.'"--Dr. Ingleby's Century of Praise, p. 83.
"Our author [Jonson] is still venting his sneers at Shakespeare."--Whalley's Edition of Jonson's Works, III. 282.
In 1619, Jonson told Drummond of Hawthornden that "Shakespeare wanted art, and sometimes sense."
Now let us see what happened in 1620 or thereabouts for after that date we find in Jonson nothing but the most extravagant eulogy of "Shake-speare." A sudden and complete change of heart must be accounted for. We quote the following from Jonson's verses prefixed to the first "Shake-speare" folio of 1623:--
"Soul of the age!
The applause! delight! the wonder of our stage!
My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room;
Thou art a monument, without a tomb,
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give,
. . . . . . .
And tell, how far thou didst our Lily outshine,
Of sporting Kid, or Marlowe's mighty line.
And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,1
From thence to honor thee, I would not seek
For names; but call forth thundering Æschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To life again, to hear thy buskin tread,
And shake a stage;2 or, when thy socks were on,
Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome
During the latter part of his life, Jonson was in the habit of jotting down from time to time certain memorabilia, or disjointed remarks on persons and things which he deemed worthy of record, and which were published after his death under the title of 'Timber, or Discoveries made upon Men and Matter.' The collection contains (not without some admixture of facetiousness, however) an amiable sketch of the author of the plays. It is as follows:--
1 This is evidently a humorous remark, called out by Bacon's well-known want of correctness in the use of these foreign tongues. Bacon was fully aware of his deficiency in this respect, for he once felicitated himself in a private letter upon the increased fluency with which he was writing Latin. The Promus notes in Latin are full of inaccuracies.
A contemporary thus criticises Bacon's use of Latin: "I come even now from reading a short discourse of Queen Elizabeth's life, written in Latin by Sir Francis Bacon. . . . I do not warrant that his Latin will abide test or touch."--John Chamberlain, Dec. 16, 1608.
2 Another example of the vein of humor running through this whole performance. Greene's characterization of the reputed dramatist in 1592 as a "Shake-scene" is undoubtedly referred to.
Further on, Jonson again parodies the name, saying,--
"He seems to shake a lance,
As brandish't at the eyes of ignorance."
"I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare that in his writing, whatsoever he penn'd, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, 'would he had blotted a thousand!'--which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their ignorance who choose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candor;--for I loved the man, and do honor his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent fantasy; brave notions and gentle expressions, wherein he flowed with that facility that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped;--sufflaminandus 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 Cæsar, one speaking to him,--'Cæsar did never 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."
Considering the absurdity of the above criticism on the play of 'Julius Cæsar' (explainable on the supposition that Shakspere the actor had made such a mistake in a recitation on the stage), we find ourselves entirely free to question the identity of this famous portraiture. It seems to carry with it a double implication, as though the artist had painted a picture with the eyes and nose of one man, and the mouth and chin of another. In these days of composite photography he would have focused the two heads together for a common likeness. As it is, we are sure only that all ill-nature toward Shakspere was now gone from the rival who had so often and, as the critics say, so malignantly persecuted him in the past as an impostor. To be sure, there is in the above
little praise even now for anything in "Shake-speare" but his personal qualities; but those qualities receive at last from Jonson unstinted praise. The dramas are not changed, but a lovable author, instead of a "Poet-Ape," now stands behind them.
The following is a summary of Jonson's utterances concerning "Shake-speare":--
1598. He degrades the stage. He is ignorant of the ordinary rules of dramatization.
1601. He barbarizes the English language, and brings all arts and learning into contempt. He wags an ass's ears. He is an ape.
1614. His tales are but drolleries. He mixes his head with other men's heels.
1616. He is a poet-ape, an upstart, a hypocrite, and a thief. His works are but the frippery of wit.
1619. He wanted art and sometimes sense.
1623. The soul of the age; the greatest writer of ancient or modern times.
1637. I loved him this side idolatry as much as any.
The key to this paradox lies, without doubt, in the sudden intimacy which Jonson contracted with Francis Bacon in or about the year 1620. We hear of it for the first time after Jonson's long walk from London to Edinburgh in 1618-1619, for we know that Bacon bantered him on the subject, protesting that poetry should go on no other feet than dactyls and spondees. Jonson soon afterwards took up his residence with Bacon at Gorhambury, and became one of the "good pens" which Bacon employed to translate the 'Advancement' and other philosophical works into Latin; and when the latter celebrated his sixtieth
birthday in January, 1621, Jonson was an honored guest, making the occasion memorable by an epigram in which he invested the ancestral pile on the Thames with some great mystery, and apostrophized its owner in the following beautiful lines:--
"England's high Chancellor! the destined heir,
In his soft cradle, to his father's chair;
Whose even thread the Fates spin round and full
Out of their choicest and their whitest wool."
This conclusion becomes practically certain when we note the following:--
1. In the preface to the Shake-speare folio Jonson pronounced the works of Shake-speare superior to
"All that insolent Greece or haughty Rome sent forth."
A few years afterwards, in his 'Discoveries,' he declared that Bacon's works were to be--
"preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome."
Evidently, in genius and therefore in personality, the two, as Jonson now viewed them, had become one.
2. In the 'Discoveries' Jonson made a list of the great men he had known, thirteen in number. In this list Shakspere's name is not mentioned, but Bacon's is put at the head. Bacon is called the "mark and acme of our language." This is indubitable proof that Jonson was not sincere in his contribution to the preliminary matter of the Shake-speare folio. Those famous verses were exoteric only.
3. Jonson also asserted that Bacon had "filled all numbers."
"He [Bacon] hath filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred to insolent Greece or haughty Rome; . . . so that he may be named the mark and acme of our language."--Discoveries.
To "fill all numbers" is a Latinism, signifying to have every perfection. In early times, however, it was used as an expression for poetry, as the following examples will show:--
"These numbers will I tear, and write in prose."
Love's Labor's Lost, IV. 3.
"And now my gracious numbers are decayed,
And my sick muse doth give another place."
Shake-speare Sonnet, LXXIX.
"My early numbers flow."
"I lisped in numbers, and the numbers came."
Finally, it is possible, perhaps even probable, that Jonson referred to the secret, immediately after it was revealed to him, in the epigram which he read on the occasion of Bacon's sixtieth birthday in 1621. We have already quoted a part of this production; we now present it entire:--
"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 didst!
Pardon, I read it in thy face, the day
For whose returns, and many, all these pray;
And so do I. This is the sixtieth year
Since Bacon and thy lord was born, and here.
Son to the grave wise keeper of the seal,
Fame and foundation of the English weal.
What then his father was, that since is he,
Now with a title more to the degree.
England's high Chancellor! the destined heir,
In his soft cradle, to his father's chair;
Whose even thread the Fates spin round and full
Out of their choicest and their whitest wool.
'T is a brave cause of joy, let it be known,
For 't were a narrow gladness, kept thine own.
Give me a deep-crown'd bowl, that I may sing
In raising him the wisdom of my king."
The obvious or superficial explanation of these lines is this: Jonson, entering the time-honored mansion, sees on all sides around him unusual signs of rejoicing, which, for the moment, he pretends he does not understand. He invokes the presiding genius of the place, and demands to know the cause of so much gayety. Then he begs pardon, for he reads the answer in the spirit's face;--it is the birthday of its lord, over whom Jonson at once pronounces a splendid panegyric. Finally, he declares that this is a secret which the spirit of no private mansion should keep to itself, and offers, if a well-filled bowl be given to him, to drink a bumper to the king in tribute of it.
It will be noticed, we think, that this paraphrase, while entirely faithful to the original, fails to do justice to the nature or magnitude of the mystery suggested by the poet. The "genius" of the place was making no effort to keep the birthday a secret; on the contrary, it was commemorating the event in a manner to give it the widest publicity. The real "cause of joy," which Jonson wanted divulged, was one that required some bravery, as he said, to divulge it, but one, nevertheless, that would bring to his friend, in spite of some fear to the contrary, only honor and "gladness." That secret, it may safely be assumed, was the authorship of the Shake-speare plays.
"'T is a brave cause of joy, let it be known,
For 't were a narrow gladness, kept thine own."
"The statements of Ben Jonson [in the latter part of his life] are quite compatible with his being in the secret."--Chambers' Edinburg Journal, Aug. 7, 1852.
XII. With the exception of the isolated play of 'King John,' the series depicting English history extends from the deposition of Richard II. to the birth of Elizabeth, in the reign of Henry VIII. In this long chain there is one break, and one only,--the important period of Henry VII., when the foundations of social order, as we now have them, were firmly laid. The omission, on any but the Baconian of authorship, is inexplicable, for the dramatist could hardly have failed, except for personal considerations, to drop his plummet into the richest and most instructive experiences of political life that lay in his path. The truth is, Bacon wrote a history of the missing reign in prose which exactly fills the gap; the one is tongued and grooved, as it were, into the other.1
1 This point was first brought out by Mr. William H. Smith, of England, who enjoys the distinction, with Miss Delia Bacon and Mrs. Constance M. Pott, of having been an independent discoverer of the world's greatest dramatist. Miss Bacon made her public announcement in Putnam's Monthly (N.Y.), January, 1856; Mr. Smith, in an open letter to Lord Ellesmere, President of the Shakespeare Society of London, in September following. Like Adams and Le Verrier in the case of the planet Neptune, neither knew at the time of the work, or even of the existence, of the other.
It is noteworthy, also, that the events of this reign are admirably suited for dramatic representation. Indeed, we know of no subject for psychological study more attractive to such a pen as Shakespeare's than the king's hesitancy in crowning his royal consort. The marriage with Elizabeth was a political one; it united the Roses, but not the hearts of husband and wife. For several months the bridegroom was a curious prey to the conflicting sentiments of ambition and fear. It was in this reign, also, that Simnel and Perkin Warbeck headed their ridiculous insurrections,--the former personating an imprisoned earl, and the latter one of the princes murdered by Richard in the Tower, and both ending their respective careers on the gibbet and doing scullery work in the king's kitchen. To our minds, incidents such as these afford admirable materials for the stage, and may well require us to explain why they were ignored by "Shake-speare."
Mr. Smith is still living (1896), full of years and (Baconian) honor. He had passed the prime of life when he rocked the cradle of this enfant terrible.
The following notice of his book is interesting:--
"Mr. Smith denies the appropriation of Miss Bacon's theory, and assures us that he never heard the name of Miss Bacon until September, 1856. The question may be of slight importance which of two given individuals first conceived a crazy notion."--The (London) Athenæum, 1857.
Per contra, Ralph Waldo Emerson declared that Miss Bacon "has opened the subject so that it can never again be closed."
XIII. 'Troilus and Cressida' was published for the first time, without reservation, in 1609. A writer in the preface claims special credit for the work on the ground that it had not been produced on the public stage, or (to use his own words) "never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar," or "sullied with the smoky breath of the multitude." Then he thanks fortune that a copy of the play had escaped from "grand possessors."
Three inferences seem to be justifiable, viz.; 1. The author was indifferent to pecuniary reward;1 2. He was not a member of the theatrical profession; 3. He was of high social rank.
"We learn that the copy had an escape from some powerful possessors. It appears that these possessors were powerful enough to prevent a single copy of any one of the plays which Shakespeare produced in his noon of fame (with the exception of 'Troilus and Cressida' and 'Lear') being printed till after his death; and between his death in 1616, and the publication of the folio in 1623, they continued the exercise of their power, so as to allow only one edition of one play ('Othello') which had not been printed in his lifetime to appear."--Charles Knight.
XIV. The plays, as they came out, were first published anonymously. Several of them had been in the hands of the public for years before the name of "Shake-speare" appeared on a title-page. Other plays, not belonging to the Shakespearean canon, and most of them of very inferior merit, were also given to the world as "Shake-speare's" We have fourteen of these heterogeneous compositions attributed to the same "divine" authorship,--geese and eagles coming helter-skelter from a single nest,--at a time when Coke, the law officer of the government, declared poetasters and playwrights to be "fit subjects for the grand jury as vagrants." It was enough for the impecunious authors of these plays that Shakspere, manager and perhaps part proprietor of two theatres, and amassing a large fortune in the business, was willing, apparently, to adopt every child of the drama laid on his door-step. This accounts for Greene's characterization of him as "an upstart crow beautified with our feathers." It is evident, nevertheless, that "Shake-speare" was a favorite nom de plume with the dramatic wits of that time.1
1 At this time Bacon was in easy circumstances. By the death of his brother he had come into possession of Gorhambury and other remnants of the family estate; and he was in receipt of a salary from the government.
Sir John Oldcastle,
A Yorkshire Tragedy,
Thomas Lord Cromwell,
"by William Shakespeare.
" " "
"" " "
"by W. S."
XV. The first complete edition of the plays, substantially as we now have them, was the famous folio of 1623. Its titles number thirty-six, and for our present purpose may be classified as follows: Plays, previously printed in various quartos at dates ranging from 1597 to 1622, eighteen; those not previously printed, but known to have been produced on the stage, twelve; lastly, those, so far as we know, entirely new, six. Of the plays in the first class it is found, by comparison, that several had been rewritten, and in some cases greatly enlarged during the fourteen years or more subsequent to their first appearance. The same is probably true of some in the second class, though on this point we are, naturally enough, without means of verification. In any event, however, it is certain that the compositions which were new, together with those which, by changes and accretions, had been made new, constitute no inconsiderable part of the book. Who did this work? Who prepared it for the press? Shakspere died in 1616, seven years before the folio was published, and for several years before his death he had lived in Stratford, without facilities for such a task, and in a social atmosphere in the highest degree unfavorable for it. On the other hand, Bacon retired to private life in 1621, at the age of sixty, in the plenitude of his powers, and under circumstances that would naturally cause him to roll this apple of discord, refined into the purest gold, down the ages.1
1 The most noteworthy examples under this head are the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. These plays were first published in 1594 and 1595, under the titles, respectively, of the First Part of the Contention between the Two Famous Houses, York and Lancaster, and the True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York. They were republished in 1600, and again in 1619 (three years after Shakspere's death), under the same general title, and in other respects, also, substantially as first printed. In the folio of 1623, however, they appear under new titles, and largely rewritten. The Second Part (for instance), which had originally contained three thousand and fifty-seven lines, suddenly comes out with fifteen hundred and seventy-eight lines entirely new, and with about one-half of the remainder altered or expanded from passages in the old.
'The Merry Wives of Windsor' was first published in quarto in 1602, and again, as a mere reprint, in 1619. In the folio it is nearly twice as long as in the quartos,--the latter being, as Richard Grant White says, "simply a sketch of the perfected play."
As printed in Shakspere's lifetime, 'Troilus and Cressida' had no prologue. It appeared with one in 1623,--a circumstance so extraordinary that commentators are vainly inquiring who wrote these introductory verses.
XVI. Other mysteries cluster around this edition. The ostensible editors were two play-actors, named Heminge and Condell, formerly connected with the company of which Shakespeare was a member. Heminge appears, also, to have been a grocer. In the dedication of the book they characterize the plays with singular, not to say suspicious, infelicity as "trifles." They astonish us still more by the use they make of Pliny's epistle to Vespasian, prefixed to his 'Natural History.' Not only are the thoughts of the Latin author most happily introduced, but they are amplified and fitted to the purpose with consummate literary skill.
Then follows a pithy address to the public, in which the editors seek to justify their revolutionary work, undertaken so long after Shakespeare's death, on the ground that all previous publications of the plays had been made from stolen copies, and were, therefore, inaccurate as well as fraudulent. A comparison of the two sets, however, discloses a state of things quite inconsistent with the sincerity of Messrs. Heminge and Condell. Some of the finest passages given in the Quartos are omitted in the Folio,--one particularly in 'Hamlet,' in which the genius of the author, as Swinburne asserts, "soars up to the very highest of its height, and strikes down to the very deepest of its depth."1 In 'King Lear,' also, but for
'Othello' was first given to the world in quarto form in 1622, six years after Shakspere's death; and yet it received numerous and important emendations for the folio one year later.
1 "Magnificent as is that monologue on suicide and doubt, it is actually eclipsed and distanced, at once on philosophical and on poetic grounds, by the later soliloquy on reason and resolution."--Study of Shakespeare, p. 166.
the "stolen copies," the following description of Cordelia's sorrow, together with the whole scene containing it, would have been lost forever:--
"You have seen
Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
Were like a better May; those happy smilets,
That play'd on her ripe lip, seemed not to know
What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,
As pearls from diamonds dropp'd."
And who is not shocked at the statement in the folio that Desdemona, at one of her first interviews with the swarthy Moor, received the story of his life "with a world," not of sighs, but "of kisses!"
"It can be proved to demonstration that several of the plays in the folio were printed from earlier quarto editions, and that in other cases the quarto is more correctly printed, or from a better MS., than the folio text, and therefore of higher authority. For example, in 'Midsummer Night's Dream' and in 'Richard III.' the reading of the quartos is almost always preferable to that of the folio; and 'Hamlet,' where it differs from the quartos, differs for the worse in forty-seven places, while it differs for the better in twenty at most."--The Cambridge Shakespeare, Preface, p. xxvi.
The truth probably is that Heminge and Condell were merely nominal editors; that they loaned their names to some person or persons of high literary attainments, who wrote the introductory matter for them; and that the introductory matter itself, with its absurd misrepresentation of facts, was intended tomystify and cajole the public. Of the body of the work there was evidently no intelligent supervision.1
1 The book was entered for license at Stationers' Hall, Nov. 9, 1623; when it was printed is not known. Halliwell-Phillipps thought that a large part of it must have gone to press before August 6 of that year, the date of Mrs. Shakspere's death. Bacon was banished from the court and from London in 1621, and may not have had the opportunity, if he had wished, to supervise the publication. We know, however, that he was indifferent to the details of such an undertaking. He permitted the third edition of his Essays, printed in 1625, to go out so disfigured with excess of punctuation that it is today a typographical curiosity. It is literally cut into inch pieces with commas.
The printing of the "Shake-speare" folio, of one thousand pages, was undoubtedly a great achievement for those days. It was sufficient to tax the resources of any establishment then existing, or perhaps of several establishments combined. The book was probably set up and printed one page at a time,--a method generally pursued in the early stages of the art, and one that prevailed when the second (1632) and third (1664) editions of the folio went to press, causing the curious reproduction of page work about which so many conjectures have recently been made. As a rule, compositors were assigned each a page at a time for copy, evidently without much allowance, in the case of reprints, for changes introduced into the preceding parts of the book. The beginnings of the pages of the three editions of the "Shake-speare" folio would therefore be identical. Other irregularities may also be accounted for in this simple way. For instance, the typos were too independent of one another for any rigid system of paging. The first edition of the 'Paradise Lost' (1667) was not paged at all. Bacon's 'Advancement of Learning' had the leaves, not the pages, numbered. Even then the pagination was exceedingly irregular, as the following consecutive examples from it, beginning with page 69, will show,--69, 70, 70, 71, 70, 72, 74, 73, 74, 75, 69, 77, 78, 79, 80, 77, 74, 69, 69, 82, 87, 79, 89. The number on the last page is incorrect. (See Shakespeariana, III. 334.
The 'Advancement of Learning' affords another proof of Bacon's inattention to such matters. In the first edition of that work occurred the word dusinesse, which, though evidently a misprint, the author did not correct. He left it to conjecture, under which a subsequent editor let it pass as business. It was not until Mr. Spedding, two hundred and fifty years afterwards, compared the original with the Latin version that the word was printed correctly,--dizziness.
XVII. It would be well-nigh miraculous if in all these works, dealing as they do with so many kinds and degrees of human vicissitude, we could not find somewhere in them a trace of the author's own personality. Indeed, editors have been constantly searching for it, even at the risk of converting exegesis into biography. Two of them, for instance, have surmised that the dramatist was educated at Oxford or Cambridge, and afterward trained to law at one of the Inns of Court, because Justice Shallow recommended such a course of study (actually pursued by Bacon) in 'Henry IV.' It is not surprising, therefore, that on the supposition of Bacon's authorship we should discover in two of the plays unmistakable marks of a great crisis in his life. These two are 'Timon of Athens' and 'Henry VIII.' They seem to be filled, like ocean shells, with the dash and roar of waves. They were both printed for the first time in the folio of 1623,--the 'Timon' having never been heard of before, and the other also, almost as certainly, a new production. An older play, entitled 'All is True,' based on unknown incidents of the same reign, was on the boards of the Globe Theatre on the night of the fire in June, 1613; but we have no reason to believe that it was the magnificent Shakespearean drama of 'Henry VIII.,' at least in the form in which it was printed in the folio ten years later.1
1 "It is in the folio of 1623 that we hear, for the first time, of the 'Taming of the Shrew,' 'Henry VIII.,' 'All's Well that Ends Well,' 'Julius Cæsar,' 'Timon of Athens,' and 'Coriolanus.'"--Halliwell-Phillipps' Outlines.
"'Henry VIII.,' as we have it, is not the play that was in action at the Globe when that theatre was burned on Tuesday, 29th June, 1613."--Fleay's Life of Shakespeare, p. 250
The catastrophe that overwhelmed Bacon in 1621 was one of the saddest in the annals of our race. No wonder Timon hurls invectives at his false friends, and Cardinal Wolsey utters his grand but pathetic lament over fallen greatness! Such storms of feeling, sweeping over a human soul, must have gathered their force among the mountains and valleys of a mighty personal experience.
"'Timon of Athens' forms the beautiful close of Shakespeare's poetical career. It reflects more clearly than any other piece the poet's consciousness of the nothingness of human life. No one could have painted misanthropy with such truth and force without having experienced its bitter agony."--Ulrici's Dramatic Art of Shakespeare, 244.
Return to Table of Contents Page
I. THE AUTHOR OF THE "SHAKE-SPEARE" PLAYS . . . . . 1
II. WILLIAM SHAKSPERE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
III. FRANCIS BACON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
IV. OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
V. COINCIDENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
VI. DISILLUSION, A GAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
VII. BIOGRAPHY OF SHAKSPERE IN FACT AND IN FICTION . . 266
VIII. SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283
LIST OF AUTHORS CONSULTED.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
SirBacon.org - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning