THE MANES VERULAMIANI
“Memoriae Honoratissimi Domini,
Francisci, Baronis De Verulamio,
Vice-comitis Sancti Albani Sacrum.”
What first follows is by W.G.C. Gundry, Barrister-at Law. He quotes from a small book, published a few months after the death, in April of 1626, of Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam. Someone called together thirty-two well known scholars, Bacon’s friends and contemporaries. The purpose was to do him honor as England’s foremost philosopher and as its finest poet, as we shall see.
32 Elegies written on the Death of Francis Bacon by his Colleagues of Cambridge and Oxford. 1626
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TO THE READER
In editing a book like the present one the writer is well aware that he has to be very careful in venting opinions unless corroborated by facts, and even in drawing conclusions therefrom, and therefore his chief duty must, and should be, to record these. No promise is implied here that obvious inferences will not be pointedout, bearing on the subject of the “Manes Verulamiani;” this is, indeed, the object in writing the Introduction which follows, but the reader will, it is hoped, feel free to come to an independent judgment on the facts presented. That his opinions on the meaning of these verses, and the significance and relevance of certain, ancillary facts, which he will record, will be questioned by some, he cannot doubt. No exemption for any legitimate criticism is expected, or asked, but it is deemed desirable, however, to disarm some potential critics by setting out briefly the grounds of the possible objections.
Firstly, it may well be thought that these tributes which seek to place the laurels on Bacon’s brow were dictated by the sentiment of “”de mortuis””.
The answer to this, surely, is that the language employed is of such a superlative nature and so generally expressed by all, or nearly all, the contributors that this objection is hardly valid; this collusive praise goes far beyond conventional requirements: the writers of these elegies appear to have collaborated in exalting Bacon’s literary reputation to the zenith; it must also be remembered that these writers were for the most part well known and responsible persons whose reputations would have been compromised had they been guilty of flagrant exaggeration.
Secondly, if a reader (should there be such) happens to be unfamiliar with the question of the authorship of the plays known as Shakespeare’s, or has a nodding acquaintance merely with the real history of the lives of both Bacon and Shakspere, if such a reader should assume the ro1e of critic, he will almost inevitably fix upon some tradition affecting Shakspere’s (The Actor) life which he thinks contravenes the contentions of the present writer: it is extremely dangerous to use tradition as an argument in any question where Shakspere is concerned, the facts concerning his life could be disposed of in a few sentences, and many alleged incidents in his career have been fixed upon him posthumously “thick as autumnal leaves in Vallombrosa”, and as unsubstantial.
Tradition may wear a snowy beard but this does not make it more credible. To believe that the Plays known as Shakespeare’s were the work of the Stratford Actor, and dealer in malt, is to discard the use of inductive logic and to jettison hitherto accepted methods of reasoning. To arrive at the orthodox conviction it is necessary to follow blindly in the wake of tradition and euhemerizing legend; to have your reason drugged, and to be dragged at the chariot wheels of eminent “men of letters”, who by incredible mental equivocations attempt to persuade themselves and others that the most learned dramatic works in the English tongue proceeded from the mind of a man of whose education we know nothing, and who, according to one authority, acquired his alleged learning by “intuition”; it is necessary to banish all previously used methods of analysis and examination which past experience has shown to be essential when considering any question of disputed authorship, and to enter a world of illusion, where black becomes white, darkness light, falsehood truth, ugliness beauty, ignorance learning, and Shakspere Shakespeare!
The orthodox believer becomes a mere echo in the Stratford grammar of assent, which condition manifests itself in a moral paralysis rendering him incapable of a clear and unprejudiced consideration of the merits of the case: These adherents to the Stratford tradition derive much of their knowledge of the Actor, not from the fountain head of real knowledge, but by way of the polluted springs of tradition, which have gradually seeped into the well of Truth: and so this piebald miscellany of conjecture propagates and engenders further fables.
One has only to look into any biography purporting to deal with Shakspere of Stratford, such as Sir Sidney Lee’s “Life of Shakespeare” to find it a tissue of surmise: one is at a loss which to pity or admire the more in it; to pity the overworked adverbial handmaids of conjecture, such as, “doubtless”, “probably”, or “possibly”; or to admire the writer’s dexterity in ringing the changes on words implying uncertainty; the truth is that much of the so-called life of Shakspere (the Actor) is nothing but biographical fiction distilled in the alembics of the writer’s imagination, or extruded like ectoplasm from the biographers themselves, who conjure up an ideal figure which is but a phantasm of the works of Shakespeare; these literary mediums are unwilling to disappoint the orthodox at their seances, they must produce something, even if it be as unauthentic as the Kesselstadt Death Mask and the scores of alleged portraits of Shakspere (or should we write Shakespeare?).
The Droeshout portrait, stupid but inscrutable, has challenged every generation since it appeared in the First Folio in 1623 and still remains an enigma to most people. It is a remarkable fact that only a few have as yet realized that it is but a mask vizarding the real Author: the critics have taken the wrong prescription and swallowed the label as well! Tradition cannot be used as an argument in a case of this kind. Much of the Shakespearean yarn spun by the critics and biographers without reference to the life of Francis Bacon is mere “cobwebs of learning”.
It may be pointed out further by critics that there have been other claimants for the Shakespeare laurels; this is so, there have been several, but each has come and gone like: “a poor player that struts his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.”
THE MANES VERULAMIANI
“The raven has ascended to the nest of the nightingale”
THE thirty-two elegies to the memory of Francis Bacon which were printed a few months after his death in April, 1626 by John Haviland, have not received the attention from scholars which they merit, and it is with the object of perpetuating them and drawing renewed attention to them that they are reproduced in facsimile in the present volume.
It was John Haviland who was also responsible for the printing of several of Bacon’s books. Baconian students appear to be more familiar with these tributes to Bacon’s genius than the rest of the world. This immunity from orthodox scholarly attention is unfortunate as it has had the effect of preventing the investigation of his claims as voiced in these elegies to recognition as a poet, and other pre-eminence. Our particular concern with the Manes is the light which they throw on Bacon’s reputation as being:
I. A supreme poet, second to none.
2. The writer of unacknowledged literary work.
3. Associated with the theatre.
4. The centre of a mystery which it was reserved for posterity to unravel.
There is such unanimity in the claims made by the writers of these verses that it will be hard for any unbiased reader of them to resist the conclusion that they are based on truth. There may be some divergence of opinion on the part of scholars as to the translation of them, but there can be no real difference as to their general import.
Sometimes the statements made in them are direct, and in other cases the contributors attempt to convey their meaning by innuendo, allegory or acroamatic allusion: it is submitted that it is impossible to escape from the conclusions which have been enumerated above. In considering the various claims made for Bacon by these contributors they will have to be considered concurrently, as one verse sometimes involves more than one of these: the reader will, therefore, it is hoped understand this when the elegies are referred to out of their exact sequence.
It is thought well to begin with Dr. William Rawley’s Introduction to the Manes as published in the collection of 1626. In the course of this address to the reader Bacon’s chaplain writes that he has withheld very many poems, “and the best too”, from publication. It is an interesting speculation why he deemed this necessary; was it that these revealed more about Bacon than he considered desirable, or which he thought it would be contrary to the wishes of his late master to publish? The conclusion of the verse, however, contains the most significant statement:
“Moreover let it suffice to have laid, as it were, these foundations in the name of the present age; this fabric (I think) every age will embellish and enlarge; but to what age it is given to put the last touch, that is known to God only and the fates.”
This is paralleled by the concluding lines of the verses prefixed to the selection from the “Manes Verulamiani” which appear in “The Advancement of Learning” (1640 and 1674 editions) which is not included in facsimile in the present volume. It is probably also from Rawley’s pen, as it echoes the fore-going; the concluding sentence reads:
“Quis supremam suis laudibus manum imponet, novit tantum
“Fundator ille, ac simul eversor Seculorum.”
The translation runs:
“Who will be the last to put his hand to these praises, only He knows who is at once the Founder and Demolisher of the centuries.”
Thus at the very beginning of these remarkable tributes we have a mystery hinted at, and this atmosphere of crypticism is continued and perpetuated throughout the whole series: no amount of casuistry can divest these verses of their implied meaning. Elegy IV contains a most significant reference to the theatre where Bacon is stated to have renovated philosophy by means of Comedy and Tragedy. Bacon restored philosophy and re-built it from its foundations, brick by brick, stone by stone, being willing to become a “hodman” in this work; “our hope is to begin the whole labour of the mind again”, he says; but one of the chief methods he employed was that noted in Elegy IV, where he is described as renovating philosophy in the shoes of comedy. In this elegy there is a significant reference to the lyre of Orpheus. Bacon by his dramatic art effected for philosophy what the King of Thebes is reputed to have done for that city when he re-built it:
“Did not Amphion’s lyre the deaf stones call
When they came dancing to the Theban wall?”
(Campion’s “Mask in honour of the Lord Hayes” (1607)
“So too, Verulam restored, boasts new walls, and thence hopes for its ancient renown.” (Elegy XXXII.)
It may be asked what is known of Bacon’s connection with the theatre? It is, of course, well known that he was a great organizer of masques at Gray’s Inn; for instance, in 1588 he collaborated with Sir Christopher Yelverton in producing “The Misfortunes of Arthur”, and in 1594 at the Christmas Revels at Gray’s Inn he was the principal organizer of the merry-makings. One of the masques, the mimic “Prince of Purpoole”, represented a mock meeting of the Privy Council. In 1613-1614 he was responsible for a masque given jointly by Gray’s Inn and the Inner Temple to celebrate the marriage of the King’s daughter, Elizabeth (the Winter .Queen) to Frederick V, the Count Palatine. In the following winter he is said to have spent upwards of 2,000 pounds in organizing a “Masque of Flowers.” A few years afterwards, when he was Lord Chancellor he dined at Gray’s Inn “to give countenance to” the Christmas Revels of 1617-1618, in the course of which a Masque was played by Members of the Inn before the King. How could Bacon renovate philosophy by means of the theatre?
Here we impinge on the heart of this aspect of the Baconian case, and it will be necessary to explain the hypothesis on which this stands, which is that Bacon wrote the plays known as Shakespeare’s, though probably with the assistance of other writers who did some of the hack work. The opinion held by Baconians is that Bacon wished to insinuate his philosophic teaching by means of the Drama. In “The Advancement of Learning” (Book II) he says:
“And as Alexander Borgia was wont to say of the expedition of the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark up their lodgings, and not with weapons to fight; so I like better that entry of truth which cometh peaceably with chalk to mark up their minds which are capable to lodge and harbour it, than that which cometh with pugnacity and contention.”
In 1607, Bacon wrote a tract in Latin called “Cogitata et Visa” which was the forerunner of the “Novum Organum.” It was not printed until twenty-seven years after his death. In 1857 Spedding discovered a manuscript of this work in the Library of Queen’s College, Oxford which contained passages concerning the representations of the human passions which had been suppressed in the printed edition. Bacon says it is to be by means of “visible representation” and observes:
“Nothing else can be devised that would place in a clearer light what is true and what is false, or show more plainly that what is presented is more than words.”
He goes on to say that, “when these writings have been put forth and seen I do not doubt that more timid wits will shrink almost in despair from imitating them with similar productions, with other materials or on other subjects, and they will take so much delight in the specimens given that they will miss the precepts in them. Still, many persons will be led to inquire into the real meaning and highest use of these writings, and to find the key to their interpretation and thus more ardently desire, in some degree at least, to acquire the new aspect of nature which such a key will reveal. But I intend yielding neither to my own aspirations nor to the wishes of others, but keeping steadily in view the success of my undertaking, having shared these writings with some, to withhold the rest until the treatise intended for the people shall be published.”
To effect this teaching it was necessary to suppress his name, as has been noted by Mr. Parker Woodward writing on Bacon’s “New Method.” He writes:
“Directly men were aware that the main purpose of the published plays was not so much to entertain them as to put them to school, the New Method was certain to become a failure. Long and patient trial of the system could alone attain success. To disclose the author was to reveal the schoolmaster, whose work would be resented as an impertinence by those for whom it was most fit.”
Nor must we forget the important place and function assigned to William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon in the subtly conceived and elaborately planned New Method of Francis Bacon in which the actor was an essential component: indeed, without a mask, Bacon’s plan for his “Instauratio Magna” would not have been possible; William Shakspere was a necessary feature in the vast scheme of Bacon’s philosophic experiment which had the world for its theatre, ages for its accomplishment, and posterity for its beneficiaries. Shakspere appears to have faithfully carried out his difficult task. In Book II of “De Augmentis Scientiarium” Bacon says:
“Dramatic poesy, which has the theatre for its world, would be of excellent use if well directed. For the stage is capable of no small influence both of discipline and of corruption. Now of corruption in this kind we have enough; but the discipline has in our times been plainly neglected.”
Was it to supply this deficiency that “the treatise intended for the people” was to be published?
In his “Distributio Operis”, Bacon tells us that examples are to be presented “by actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind, and the whole fabric and order of invention from beginning to end in certain subjects, and those various and remarkable, should be set as it were before the eyes.”
The stage appears the only medium for this method of presentation. It has been wisely written: ” “Le vice radical de la philosophie c’est de ne pouvoir parler au coeur.” and this saying aptly sums up Bacon’s reason for using the stage as a means of popularizing his philosophy: he could not expect the majority to read or understand his philosophic writings, but he could appeal to the multitude by means of the stage and, being a moral philosopher, he understood well enough that “the pen of the tongue should be dipped in the ink of the heart.” Bacon, who is fond of using the stage as an illustration, says in the “Novum Organum” (Aphorism LXII):
“And in the plays of this philosophical theatre you may observe the same thing which is found in the theatre of the poets, that stories invented for the stage are more compact and elegant, and more as one would wish them to be, than true stories out of history.”
Many men eminent in Literature have testified to similarities between Bacon’s philosophy and Shakespeare’s drama as the following quotations will show:
“The wisdom displayed in Shakespeare is equal in profoundness to the great Lord Bacon’s “Novum Organum”.” Hazlitt.
“He seems to have written his Essays with the pen of Shakespeare.” Alexander Smith.
“There is an understanding manifested in the construction of Shakespeare’s plays equal to that in Bacon’s “Novum Organum.” Carlyle.
“The philosophical writings of Bacon are suffused and saturated with Shakespeare’s thought.” Gerald Massey.
Other quotations supporting this view could be given but these will suffice to indicate that men, whose reputations entitle their opinions to respect, perceived likeness if not identity between the writings of the Philosopher and the Dramatist. It has been asserted that the “Comedies, Histories and Tragedies” form the fourth, fifth and sixth parts of the “Instauratio Magna,” the Great Restoration of Learning. In England, Germany and America students have independently come to this conclusion, and like all truth, the more it is examined the more it becomes established. That such a contention is not popular among the majority of scholars does not make it any less true: there is nothing new in this emotional reaction of ignorance to truth: it took the world many years to abandon the Ptolemaic conception of the Earth’s relation to its neighbours, and to accept the doctrine of Copernicus. There are great difficulties in accepting the orthodox view of authorship, the chief one, perhaps, being the improbability that the plays, replete as they are with learning, should have as author a man who is not proved to have had even a grammar school education. Schlegel, the German critic, amazed at the extent of the knowledge and depth of philosophy contained in the plays of Shakespeare, did not hesitate to declare the generally received account of his life to be “a mere fabulous story, a blind extravagant error.”
On the other hand Leigh Hunt delivers himself thus: “Shakespeare, though he had not a College education was learned as any man, in the highest sense of the word–by a scholarly intuition; he had the spirit of learning.” If learning can be obtained on such cheap terms many harassed parents would, doubtless be glad of the recipe:
“So may long use with studious thought combined,
The scholar and the critic both make blind.”
Critics of this sort suffocate research in order that everything shall accord with the traditional belief in Shakespeare’s authorship and come within the orbit of Stratford-on-Avon. They drag Truth captive at the wheels of their chariots and constrain her to accommodate herself to their views; they have locked up the temple of real knowledge of the Plays and their Author and thrown away the key. Some of them are like the travellers of Edward Lear’s verses who have gone for a long voyage in “a beautiful pea-green boat,” when they accept and utilize the doubtful traditions which infect Shakespearean criticism: Shakespeare becomes to these wise owls the beautiful “pussy-cat” of their imagination. But even the owl and the pussy-cat had to borrow a ring from a pig before they could get married!
Let us leave the theatre and turn to the claims made for Bacon in these elegies to be considered a great poet.
Elegy V contains a reference to Pegasus, the winged steed of the Muses, and is similar to most of the other poems in its poetic imagery and symbolism: the references to Bacon’s poetic supremacy are constantly recurring in them. Bacon is hailed as “the day star of the Muses” in XVIII. In XX he is apostrophized as “The Tenth Muse and glory of the choir”: surely no greater tribute could have been paid to any poet, including Shakespeare himself, to whom the following verse was addressed:
“Thou wert truly priest elect Chosen darling of the Nine,
Such a trophy to erect
By thy wit and skill divine,
That were all their other glories, Thine excepted, torn away,
By thy admirable stories
Their garments ever would be gay.”
Elegy XXIII claims Bacon as “the leader of the choir of the Muses and of Phoebus”. It is unnecessary to enumerate further these tributes to Bacon’s poetic genius which are scattered so lavishly throughout the “Manes”, for they are there for those who run to read.
It may be objected by some readers that among the few known specimens of Bacon’s poetry his versification of “Certain Psalms” do not suggest the qualities of a supreme poet, but in this connection it should be remembered firstly, that the medium in which he worked put considerable restraint on his genius and, secondly, that his verses have been preferred to those of Milton when he attempted a similar feat. It should be noted that Bacon versified these psalms from a sick bed in his declining years.
With the exception of this example of Bacon’s poetic powers we seem to have little or nothing of his acknowledged poetry except his “Farewell to Fortune,” which has also been attributed to George Peele, though it must be admitted that Bacon’s prose is in many places extremely poetic in form? But it is not only the contributors to the “Manes Verulamiani” among Bacon’s contemporaries who acclaim him as a poet. Thomas Campion, a physician, who is better known for his exquisite songs and lyrics, addressed an epigram to Bacon who was then (1619) Lord Chancellor: it is in Latin:
“Ad Ampliss. Totius Angliae Cancellarium.
Quantus ades, seu te spinosa Volumina juris
Seu schola, seu dulcis Musa (Bacone) vocat!
Quam super ingenti tua re Prudentia regnat!
Et tota aethereo nectare lingua madens!
Quam bene cum tacita nectis gravitate lepores!
Quam semel admissis stat tuus almus amor.
Tho. Campiani Epigrammatum.” Lib II.
“How great stand’st thou before us,
whether the thorny volumes of the Law
Or the Academy, or the sweet Muses call thee,
O Bacon! How thy prudence rules over great affairs!
And thy whole tongue is moist with celestial nectar!
How well combinest thou merry wit with silent gravity!
How firmly thy love stands by those once admitted to it.”
Another tribute in a similar vein was addressed to Bacon by John Davies of Hereford (not to be confused with Sir John Davies) in 1610:
“To the Royall Ingenious and All-learned Knight, Sir Francis Bacon.
Thy bounty and the beauty of thy witt
Compris’d in lists of Law and learned Arts,
Each making thee for great Imployment fitt,
Which now thou hast (though short of thy deserts,)
Compells my pen to let fall shining Inke
And to bedew the Baies that deck thy Front,
And to thy Health in Helicon to drinke,
As to her Bellamour the Muse is wont,
For thou dost her embozom; and doth use
Her company for sport twixt grave affaires;
So utter’st Law the livelyer through thy Muse,
And for that all thy Notes are sweetest Aires;
My Muse thus notes thy worth in ev’ry line,
With yncke which thus she sugers; so to shine.”
In 1645 there was printed “The Great Assises Holden in Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours”. Bacon, Lord Verulam is named as “Chancellor of Parnassus”. This satirical poem, which was printed in pamphlet form, is generally attributed to George Withers (1588-1667). There is no need to quote further from Bacon’s friends and contemporaries, but reference may be made to Bacon’s own admissions which were not intended for other eyes than the addressees.
In 1603 Sir John Davies set out to meet James VI of Scotland to accompany him on his journey to London on his accession to the Crown of England as James I. Bacon wrote a letter sending his commendations to the King which Davies was asked to deliver: the letter concludes, “so desiring you to be good to concealed poets”. About 1595 (the letter is undated), he wrote to the Earl of Essex:
“I am neither much in appetite (for office) nor much in hope; for, as for appetite, the Waters of Parnassus are not like the Waters of the Spaw that give a stomach, but rather they quench appetite and desires.”
It appears from this letter that Bacon was much occupied with the Muses: at the time of writing this letter he does not seem to have had much hope of advancement in his profession. In a letter to the courtier-poet, Lord Henry Howard, written about 1601, Bacon reminded him: “We have both tasted of the best waters, in my account to knit minds together.”
Lord Henry Howard was the second son of the poetical Earl of Surrey. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge (Bacon’s College), and became Chancellor of the University in 1612. He built Northumberland House in the Strand, where the “Northumberland Manuscript” was discovered in 1867; in it Bacon’s and Shakespeare’s names and writings are found in close association. But it was not Bacon’s contemporaries alone who have hailed him as a poet as the following selection of quotations will show. Shelley says:
“Bacon was a poet. His language has a sweet and majestic rhythm, which satisfies the sense, no less than the almost superhuman wisdom of his philosophy satisfies the intellect. It is a strain which distends and then bursts the circumference of the reader’s mind and pours itself forth together with it into the universal element with which it has perpetual sympathy.” Bulwer Lytton adds his testimony thus:
“We have only to open “The Advancement of Learning” to see how the Attic bees clustered above the cradle of the new philosophy. Poetry pervaded the thoughts, it inspired the similes, it hymned in the majestic sentences of the wisest of mankind.” Macaulay writes:
“The poetic faculty was powerful in Bacon’s mind.”
While Spedding, who edited Bacon’s works, adds his witness:
“The truth is that Bacon was not without the fine frenzy of a poet …. Had his genius taken the ordinary direction, I have little doubt that it would have carried him to a place among the great poets.”
Other testimonies to the same effect could be cited, but these must suffice as evidence of his poetical gifts in the estimation of those qualified to express opinions. Elegy XXIV says:
“You have filled the world with your writings, and the ages with your fame.”
Elegy XV makes the claim that a portion of Bacon’s writings lie buried “(pars sepulta jacet)” and IX refers to “the precious gem of concealed literature” “(reconditarum et gemma pretiosa literarum).” These references, or at least the first two, make Archbishop Tenison’s remark in “Baconiana” (1679), significant. where he writes:
“And those who have true skill in the works of Lord Verulam, like great masters of painting, can tell by the design, the way of colouring, whether he was the author of this or the other piece, though his name be not on it.”
and give point to Bacon’s dedication to King James of the “De Augmentis Scientiarum” (1623) where he addresses the King as follows:
“To speak truth of myself, I have often wittingly and willingly neglected the glory of my own name and learning (if such thing be) both in the works I now publish, and those I contrive for hereafter, whilst I study to advance the good and profit of mankind.”
Bacon expresses the same altruistic sentiment which is incorporated, though possibly in slightly modified form, in the charter of the Royal Society:
“To the Glory of God and for the relief of the Human Estate.”
We are told (XXII) “Dum scripturivit multum Verulamius Heros, imbuit et Crebris saecla Voluminibus,” that the Verulam Sage was filled with desire of writing and enriched the ages with crowds of books. It may be that it will be objected that Bacon’s acknowledged works are referred to, and that those were sufficient to account for the reference.’ If anyone will examine this contention he will find that, excluding “Variorum” editions and the comments of Editors, the whole of Bacon’s acknowledged works would fill only four good sized octavo volumes; where then are the crowds of books to which allusion is made? Another objection likely to be raised is that Bacon was far too busy a man to have the necessary time for writing many more books than those he acknowledged.
The reply to this is that in his earlier days he was often at leisure through lack of employment: Spedding notes that there were periods when he remained secluded in his chambers in Gray’s Inn. With regard to the first objection we would instance the literary fecundity of Lopez Felix de Vega who, it is stated, often wrote a play in the course of a single day; he sometimes wrote a comedy in the course of five hours; his compositions comprise upwards of seventy volumes! In addition to this he was admitted to Orders by Pope Urban VIII, who bestowed upon him the degree of D.D.
How was this vast productiveness which is claimed for Bacon achieved? How and by whom was the cost of production defrayed? Not one person in a hundred could read, or write his or her name (this illiteracy even extended to Shakspere’s family): there was only a small reading public. There are a large number of books of this period of doubtful authorship or which bear initials which cannot be identified. Sometimes names of actual individuals were placed on books, but research has proved conclusively that some of these reputed authors had nothing to do with them beyond lending their names.
“The Anatomy of Melancholy”–an “Anthology of Depression” as it has been called, appeared under the pseudonym of “Democritus Junior” and it was only at the conclusion of the work that the author cut the strings of his visor and revealed himself as Robert Burton. This anonymity, pseudonymity and cryptonymity was common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Burton writes: “I intended at first to conceal myself, but second thoughts etc.” Many books which appeared during this period could not have realized by sale one tenth of their cost: they were produced with the object, it is submitted, of furthering the advance of knowledge in all sorts of subjects. Bacon was constantly in the habit of borrowing money, even in the time of his prosperity, as may be seen by an examination of his accounts as published by Spedding: in 1597 he was imprisoned for debt, the same year the first edition of his Essays appeared: was there any connection between these two events?
It may be that his expenditure was largely concerned with the cost of printing books of various sorts, either written by him or by some of his “good pens”. He knew that he was peculiarly fitted to do for English the work which Ronsard and his associates, known as the “Pleiade,” had accomplished for the French language. Was Bacon engaged on the same task here? In a letter to his uncle, Lord Burleigh, he writes: “I have taken all knowledge for my province”, and in a prayer written towards the close of his life: “I have though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men.” Bacon could not have performed the colossal task of creating a language and literature of such scope and beauty without assistance and organization.
Who composed the “choir” (mentioned in three of the Elegies) which sang under the direction of the master musician? As early as 1594, there is a reference to the existence of a scrivenery and staff of skilled penmen maintained by Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony, at Twickenham. This house was presented to him by the Earl of Essex. It is believed that this scriptorium was originally at Gray’s Inn, but was moved to Twickenham to ensure privacy, and to escape the London plague. A Richard Field is named among those who fled with Bacon to Twickenham on the outbreak of plague in 1594. Was he the same Richard Field who printed “Venus and Adonis” in 1595 and the Rape of Lucrece in 1594.
Another reason why Twickenham was superior to Gray’s Inn was that it was away from the meddlesome attentions of the Scrivener’s Company, which held a rigorous monopoly within the jurisdiction of the City of London. The scrivenery of the two Bacons was used not only for literary work and copying, but also for ciphering and deciphering letters and political dispatches. Both brothers organized an intelligence service on be. half of the Earl of Essex in opposition to the Cecils, Lord Burleigh and his son Robert, afterwards Earl of Salisbury, who were largely responsible for keeping Francis Bacon from the preferment which his abilities so notably merited. This intelligence service was responsible for the conviction and execution of Dr. Lopez, the Queen’s physician, for High Treason in an alleged attempt to poison her.
The Queen appears to have been sceptical as to the truth of the charge, but this did not prevent the unfortunate man being tried at the Guildhall in February, 1594, and being executed at Tyburn on 7th June following. A letter is extant of Bacon’s addressed to Thomas Phillips, who may be represented by the initials T.P., which sign Elegy XI. This Phillips is described as “the decipherer” and Bacon’s letter which is dated 14th February, 1592 begs him to come to Twickenham on a visit:
“the longer the more welcome, “otia colligunt mentem.”. . .In sadness come as you are an honest man.”
Perhaps there was work for the decipherer?
Allusions to both forms of activity are fairly frequent in the correspondence of the brothers. On 25th January, 1594-95, Francis writes to Anthony:
“I have here an idle pen or two, especially one that was cozened, thinking to have got some money this term. I pray you send me somewhat else for them to write out beside your Irish collection which is almost done.”
There are references to this scriptorium in I596 and 160l. In 1623 Francis Bacon wrote to Sir Tobie Mathew:
“My labours are now most set to have those works, which I had formerly published, well translated into Latin by the help of some good pens which forsake me not.”
The letter was apparently sent from Gorhambury. We have little information about these “good pens”. According to Archbishop Tenison, Ben Jonson was one of them: others were Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher, Thomas Bushell and perhaps Thomas Phillips referred to above and also apparently William Atkins (His Lordship’s Domestic Attendant) who wrote Elegy XXXI. John Florio may also have been of their number too.
John Aubrey records that, in the grounds of Gorhambury Bacon “dictated to Mr. Bushell, or some other of his gentlemen that attended him with ink and paper, ready to set down presently his thoughts”. Peter Boener, another household retainer, and Bacon’s private apothecary, says of his master that he “seldom saw him take up a book: he only ordered his chaplain (Dr. Rawley, who collected the “Manes”) and me to look in such and such an author for a certain place and then he dictated to us early in the morning what he had invented and composed during the night”.
The same authority tells us that such was the exuberance of Bacon’s imagination “His Lordship would often drinke a good draught of strong beer (March beer) to bed-wards, to lay his working fancy asleep: which otherwise would keepe him from sleeping great part of the night”. And further: “His Lordship would many time have musique in the next roome where he meditated.”
It may well have been under the inspiration of music that Bacon composed some of his greatest work: the inspirational power of music is well known to writers, and it is believed that Milton too made use of it to aid composition. Bacon’s relations with his literary assistants were of a most intimate and affectionate nature: this is not only apparent from the Manes, but Spedding states that several of Bacon’s manuscripts are endorsed “ad Filios,”–those “Aurorae Filii,” as Bacon called them. The “sons” who wrote the “Manes” were nearly all “young” scholars through whom Bacon hoped to hand on the lamp to the next generation, and so to posterity. Some light is thrown by an entry in Bacon’s memoranda book, Transportata:
“Layeing for a place to command wits and pennes, Westminster, Eton, Wynchester; Specially Trinity Coll., Cam., St. John’s, Cam., Maudlin. Oxford. Qu. Of young scholars in ye Universities. It must be “post nati:” Giving pensions to four, to compile two histories “ut supra.” Foundac: Of a college for inventors, Library, Inginary. Qu. Of the order and discipline, the rules and praescripts touching secrecy, traditions, and publication.”
Some Baconians have claimed a large portion of the best literature of the period for Bacon: they have been singled out for ridicule by the orthodox, but these claims do not appear extravagant in view of the evidence tending to that conclusion supplied by the “Manes”. A new approach to Elizabethan and Jacobean literature should be made. In spite of Bacon’s plans, preparations, and hopes for the continuation of his work, a rapid decline set in immediately after his death in 1626: there was nobody to take his place:
“The day-star of the Muses has set before his hour.” XVIII.
“The Verulamian star now glitters in ruddy Olympus.” XXIII.
Or, to express the idea of a transfer of literary honours from Shakspere (or Shake-speare as popularly supposed) to Bacon:
“The star of Shakespeare pales, but brighter far Burns through the dusk, an ampler star.” Ben Jonson noted this with grief in his “Discoveries:” he wrote of Bacon as:
“He who hath filled up all numbers and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits born that could honour a language or help study. Now things daily fall; wits grow downward and eloquence grows backward, so that he may be named and stand as the mark and acme of our language.”
Having discussed the means by which Bacon could have justified the claim made on his behalf to have filled the world with his writings (XXIV) let us turn to the consideration of the air of secrecy which is everywhere apparent in the “Manes”. This has already been touched upon in referring to Dr. Rawley’s introductory verse to the “Manes” and also that in “The Advancement of Learning” (1640 and 1674 editions). The whole collection of these elegies are pervaded with veiled allusions and acroamatic hints which excite curiosity and stimulate research, which was probably partly their object.
The writers appear to be anxious to give information and yet are at the same time under some powerful restraint, perhaps a promise, made during the life of the man whose death they lament in such lavish terms? This atmosphere of secrecy makes the whole of the “Manes Verulamiani” a veritable whispering gallery, where, one feels, Fame has her trumpet to her lips and would fain sound a fanfare and announce a name, but is held back from making any proclamation by a conspiracy of silence. One is reminded of the stained glass window in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, which depicts Bacon and Newton before George III with a symbolic figure of Fame sounding her trumpet in the background.
When Shakspere died in 1616, no poet or writer lifted pen or voice to sound his praise: he was as Dr. Ingleby long since observed “unknown to the men of his age”. If elegies similar to the “Manes Verulamiani” had appeared on the death of the Actor, they would have been accepted as proof of his identity with the great poet, and would have constituted a formidable obstacle to. any who would have sought to remove the bays from his brow; they would have been reprinted many times: no Baconian theory would have raised its head to trouble the slumbers of orthodox scholars, or bewilder the literary reviewer, however wakeful and learned!
In 1630 Thomas Powell, in “The Attorney’s Academy” wrote under a portrait of Bacon:
“O, give me leave to pull the curtain bye,
That clouds thy worth in such obscurity;
Good Seneca, stay but awhile thy bleeding,
T’accept what I received at thy reading.
Here I present it in a solemn strain:
And thus I pluck the curtain back again.”
Was he the author, the T. P., of Elegy XI? After a selection of Elegies from the “Manes Verulamiani” in “The Advancement of Learning,” 1640 we find the following Latin inscription:
“Ordine sequeretur descriptio Tumuli Verulamiani, monumentum Nobiliss. Mutisii, in Honerem domini sui constructum; qua pietate, & dignitatem Patroni sui, quem (quod rari faciunt, etiam post cineres Coluit) consuluit; Patriae suae opprobrium diluit; sibi nomen condidit. Busta haec nondum invisit Interpres, sed invisurus: Interim Lector tua cura Commoda, & abi in rem tuam. Crescit occulto velut Arbor aevo Fama Baconi.”
“In proper order would follow a description of the tomb of Verulam, the monument of the most noble Meautys, constructed in honour of his Lord by which act of piety (dutiful regard) he at once fittingly celebrated the dignity of his patron, whom after the fashion of but few, he honoured even after death. He thus wiped away the contumely of his country, and built a name for himself. These tombs have not yet been inspected, but an Interpreter will come. Meanwhile, reader, make thine own arrangements and go about thy business.
Spreads like a tree in hidden growth The fame of Bacon.”
It should be noted that the tombstone of Sir Thomas Meautys on the floor immediately in front of the chancel rail and facing Bacon’s monument in St. Michael’s Church, St. Albans, is only identifiable by the name at the head of what was apparently once a lengthy inscription, which has been deliberately chiselled and disfigured, so as to be indecipherable. Perhaps the Latin inscription just quoted gives a clue to the reason for this mutilation ! Thus there appears to be a mystery surrounding Bacon’s place of sepulture ! Elegy XIII contains the following intriguing passage:
“Something there is, which the next age will glory in; something there is, which is fit should be known to me alone: let it be your commendation to have outlined the frame with fair limbs, for which no one can wholly perfect the members: thus his unfinished work commends the artist Apelles, since no hand can finish the rest of his Venus. Nature having thus spoken and yielding to her blind frenzy cut short together the thread of his life and work. But you, who dare to finish the weaving of this hanging web, will alone know whom these memorials hide.”
No one can read the above in conjunction with the mysterious inscription regarding Bacon’s tomb and other cryptic references in the Manes, particularly that by Rawley in his introduction to the collection, and that attributed to him in “The Advancement of Learning” (1640 and 1674) already alluded to, without recognizing that there is a mystery about Bacon which remains to be solved. Take the last sentence of XIII: the verse ostensibly concerns Bacon, and yet it is suggested that some other personality is hidden herein: could this be his “Alter Ego” who “shook a lance at ignorance”–Shake-speare? Disguise and secrecy appear to have been second nature to Bacon: he says of himself “Mihi silentio” (of myself I am silent).
If Bacon was silent about himself he did not lack admirers who appear wishful to inform posterity as to his merits, as the following verse from “The Mirror of State and Eloquence” (1656) will show; the lines were inscribed under a portrait of Bacon:
“Grace, Honour, Vertue, Learning, Witt,
Are all within this porture Knitt;
And left to time that it may tell
What worth within this Peere did dwell.”
In his Essay “Of Simulation and Dissimulation” he writes “that a Habit of Secrecy is both Politic and Moral”; and further in the same essay we read:
“It followeth many times upon secrecy,
By a necessity:
So that he
That will be
Secret must be
A dissembler in some degree.”
The lines have been set out in order to reveal the interior cryptic rhymes. Bacon is constantly quoting in his works:
“The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the King is to find it out.” (Proverbs, 25. 2.)
Dr. Rawley in his life of Bacon prefixed to “Resuscitatio,” (1671) says of his master:
“The last five years of his life being withdrawn from Civil Affairs, and from an active life, he employ’d wholly in Contemplation and studies. A thing whereof his Lordship would often speak during his active life, as if he affected to die in the shadow and not in the light; which also may be found in several passages of his Works.”
In a letter to Count Gondomar, Ambassador from the Court of Spain, dated 6th June, 1621, Bacon writes:
“Now that at once my age, my fortunes, and my genius, to which I have hitherto done but scanty justice, call me from the stage of active life, I shall devote myself to letters, instruct the actors on it, and serve posterity. In such a course, I shall, perhaps find honour. And I shall thus pass my life as within the verge of a better.”
Dean Church in his “Life of Bacon” states that Bacon lived in the constant and almost unaccountable faith that his life would be understood and greatly honoured by posterity. This ambiguity in Bacon’s life is further emphasized by a postscript written by Sir Tobie Mathew to Bacon about 1621:
“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.” Is there no mystery about Bacon?
He described himself as “buccinator novi temporis”–(the herald of a new age), and further writes:
“And since I have lost much time with this age, I would be glad, as God shall give me leave, to recover it with posterity.”
Bacon frequently appeals to Posterity, and in his will writes:
“My name and memory I leave to foreign nations, and to mine own countrymen after some time be passed over.”
The title page of Bacon’s New Atlantis (First Edition) shows Old Father Time with his scythe bringing his daughter to light out of a dark cave, and round the figures are the lines:
“Occulta veritas tempore patet”
(Hidden truth comes to light by time)
The Fourth Edition has the following on the title page:
“Veritas filia temporis”
(Truth is the daughter of time.)
This reminds one of what Bacon writes concerning authors:
“But so let great authors have their due, as time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is, farther and farther to discover truth.”
Great as Bacon was, considered by himself as a philosopher, statesman and lawyer, if to this formidable list of accomplishments be added the immeasurable creations of the author of the Shakespeare plays, then a truly colossal figure emerges, one of whom Sir Tobie Mathew wrote the postscript to which we have already referred. Well might either Shakespeare, the dramatist, or Bacon, the philosopher, say in the former’s words, though in a limited sense:
“No, no, I am but shadow of myself:
You are deceiv’d, my substance is not here
For what you see, is but the smallest part
And least proportion of humanity.
I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here
It is of such a spacious lofty pitch
Your roof were not sufficient to contain it.”
(King Henry VI, Pt. I. Act II. Sc. 3)
It is the contention of Baconians that Bacon’s “Instauratio Magna” is composed of two parts. He wrote one part in the form of scientific prose and under his own name; he wrote the other, the parabolical part, which was intended for the future of Humanity, in the form of dramas under the pseudonym William Shakespeare. It has been frequently noted that Shakespeare, as indicated by his works, and Bacon as represented by his biographer and chaplain, Dr. Rawley, shared a capacity for transmuting other men’s ideas into something better than the originals: Mr. G. B. Harrison says of Shakespeare:
“He had the alchemist’s power of converting other men’s copper into the finest gold.” Dr. Rawley says of his master:
“I have often observed, and so have other men of great account, that if he had occasion to repeat another man’s words after him, he had an use and faculty to dress them in better vestments and apparel than they had before; so that the author should find his own speech much amended, and yet the substance of it still retained; as if it had been natural to him to use good forms, as Ovid spake of his faculty of versifying:
“Et quod tentabam scribere, versus erat.”
(And what I was attempting to write, became verse.)
It is not only in this particular that an identity is observable between Bacon and the author of the Shakespeare Plays: the late Dr. Melsome in a recently published book has demonstrated this in regard to similarity of views expressed, and other parallels. These two supposedly distinct individuals exhibit the same characteristics in their writings, as testified by not one, but many eminent writers who possessed the necessary qualifications to express opinions which must carry weight, and thus raise a strong “primafacie case” for the assumption that the philosophic works of Bacon and the Plays known as Shakespeare’s proceeded from one hand, one brain, one heart–a case of literary integration!
To give a further quotation in which Bacon appeals to posterity we cite:
“And whether I shall have accomplished all this I appeal to future time.”
Isaac D’Israeli describes Bacon in these words:
“This servant of Posterity, as he prophetically called himself, sustained his mighty spirit with the confidence of his post-humous greatness. Ever were the times succeeding in his mind.” He was, indeed, one of those men who, “build great mornings for the world.
It is obvious that the contributors to the “Manes” looked to Posterity to discover a secret about Bacon which they were not themselves in a position to reveal. It is clear also, that they held him in the deepest veneration, so much so that mere words were scarcely adequate to express not only their admiration, but one might add, their affection.
These expressions receive additional proof from what Sir Tobie Mathew writes of Bacon in a dedicatory letter prefixed to an Italian translation of the “Essays” and “Wisdom of the Ancients” addressed to the Grand Duke of Tuscany:
“It is not his greatness that I admire, but his virtues; it is not the favours I have received from him (infinite though they be) that have thus enthralled and enchained my heart, but his whole life and character; which are such, that were he an inferior condition I could not honour him less, and were he mine enemy, I should not the less love and endeavour to serve him.”
It is not Macaulay’s Bacon whom his friend is extolling, for such a man never existed, except in that Historian’s exuberant and rhetorical imagination. Dr. Rawley writes of him:
“I have been induced to think, that if there were a Beam of Knowledge derived from God upon any Man in these Modern Times it was upon him.”
If, therefore, we substitute Francis Bacon for William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, and place the former in the Temple of Fame instead, we are exalting no “Idol of the Theatre” or “Market Place,” but a figure which admirably fits the niche hitherto occupied by one with whom we find it impossible to marry the Plays, which are the glory of the English language. That a perusal of the “Manes Verulamiani” in a judicial frame of mind, untrammelled by tradition and received opinion, will at least raise doubts as to the authorship of the Shakespeare Plays and at the same time inspire a re-consideration of the popular opinion of Bacon’s character, we cannot doubt; to some readers these elegies may be entirely new, and therefore a revelation. As George L. Craik says of Bacon:
“There is something about him not fully understood or discerned which, in spite of all curtailments of his claims in regard to one special kind of eminence or another, still leaves the sense of his eminence as strong as ever.”
We end as we began this Introduction in announcing our object in producing this volume in facsimile to be inspired by a desire to draw renewed attention to the “Manes Verulamiani,” to the end that these tributes to Bacon’s genius may not pass into oblivion, and particularly, that the claims made on his behalf in them, where he is hailed as a great poet, may receive the consideration that the contributors intended they should obtain: we ask that the case here presented may be examined in an unprejudiced spirit, not only by qualified scholars, but also by that larger educated public which is, and always must be, the chief support of Literature: if our contention is investigated in the spirit which we expect from impartial readers, we can await their verdict with the same confidence that our conclusions are as well grounded as that which inspired Francis Bacon when he addressed himself to Posterity:
“I have raised up a light in the obscurity of Philosophy which will be seen centuries after I am dead.”
And so to the empanelled jury of our readers we confidently leave our case and cause, with Truth in the seat of judgment, that same Truth which was the subject of Bacon’s first Essay, which begins with the pregnant question: “What is Truth?”
W. G. C. Gundry, 1950
have undertaken to supply a literal translation with notes of the poems known as Manes Verulamiani–The Verulamian Shades. This is the title prefixed to them in Blackbourne’s edition of Bacon’s Works (London, 1730). Dr. Cantor published a reprint of them at Halle 1897 taken from the Harleian Miscellany, Vol. X, p. 287, “a collection of scarce, curious, and entertaining pamphlets”, among which these form “a tract of very rare occurrence, consisting of seventeen leaves! This in its turn was reprint of the original pamphlet printed in 1626– the year of Bacon’s death–by John Haviland. I have followed the Latin text therein given. There are several obscurities in the text. Scholars will differ as to their interpretation. The poems nevertheless are full proof that a large number of contemporaneous scholars, Fellows of the Universities, and members of the Inns of Court, knew Bacon to be a supreme poet. In the fourth poem he gets credit for uniting philosophy to the drama, for restoring philosophy through comedy and tragedy. Other equally amazing titles to literary fame are also lavished on him in many places throughout the series.
In this attempt of mine at translating and elucidating these extraordinary elegies I am deeply indebted to the articles contributed by Mrs. Pott chiefly, but also by Dr. Cantor and others to Baconiana (1896-98). Indeed, but for these articles, I never would have taken up the subject. I am also under great obligations to Mr. W. Theobald for revising my version and even placing at my service his own. There is plenty of room for difference of opinion here and there, but, on the whole, there can be no doubt of the general drift and extreme value of these pieces connected with the Bacon-Shakespeare question. I ought also to mention that through the kindness of Mr. G. Stronach I have been able to profit by the translation of these poems by Mr. E. K. Rand, of Harvard University, printed by him for private circulation, Boston, 1904. As this translation is not generally available, it has been thought advisable to proceed with the present version, which was begun under the impression that no complete and literal translation had been yet published.
William A. Sutton, S.J.
THE TRANSLATIONS OF THE MANES VERULAMIANI
(By Father William A. Sutton, S.J.)
Sacred to the memory of The Right Honourable Lord Francis Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans. London.. From the Press of John Haviland, 1626.
To the Reader Greeting.
What my Lord the Right Honourable Viscount St. Albans valued most, that he should be dear to seats of learning and to men of letters, that (I believe) he has secured; since these tokens of love and memorials of sorrow prove how much his loss grieves their heart. And indeed with no stinted hand have the Muses bestowed on him this emblem (for very many poems, and the best too, I withhold from publication); but since he himself delighted not in quantity, no great quantity have I put forth. Moreover let it suffice to have laid, as it were, these foundations in the name of the present age; this fabric (I think) every age will embellish and enlarge; but to what age it is given to put the last touch, that is known to God only and the fates.
W. Rawley, S.T.D.
THE TRANSLATIONS OF THE MANES VERULAMIANI
- Lament for the death of the All-learned and Renowned Man Lord Francis Bacon of St. Albans.
Bewail ye guardian spirits of St. Albans, and thou most holy martyr, the death not to be profaned of the ancient of Verulam. Holy Martyr, do thou also betake thyself even to the old wailings, thou to whom nothing is sadder since the fateful (change of) raiment.
- The Literary Works of Bacon are summoned to the Pyre.
The Great Instauration; stimulating aphorisms; the twofold Advancement of the Sciences, written both in English and then in Latin with manifold increase; the profound History of Life and Death, how suffused with (or is it bathed in?) a stream of nectar or Attic honey! Neither let Henry the Seventh be passed over in silence; and whatever there is of more refined beauties, and any smaller works I may have omitted in my ignorance, which the power of great Bacon brought forth, a muse more rare than the nine Muses, all enter ye the funeral fires, and give bright light to your Sire. The ages are not worthy to enjoy you, now alas! that your Lord, oh shocking! has perished.
S. Collins, R.C.P.
- On the Death of the Peerless Francis Viscount St. Albans, Baron Verulam.
While you groan under the weight of a long and slow disease, and languishing life holds on with lingering step, what foreseeing fate had in view, I now at length perceive. It is evident that in April alone you could have died; in order that on the one hand the tearful flower and on the other the nightingale might celebrate the only obsequies of your tongue.
- On the Death of the Right Honourable Lord Francis of Verulam,Viscount St. Albans, Late Chancellor of England.
Do you, yet arrayed in proud purple exult over so many renowned men with the spoils of the bier, O barren tribunal? Proclaim a day for hair-cloth, turn all the luxury of the Forum into sack-cloth, let not the pendent balance be borne by Themis, but the urn, the ponderous urn of Verulam. Let her weigh. Alas! it is not an Ephorus presses down the scale, but the Areopagus; nor is so great a sage less than the foreign Porch? For your axis groans, ye schools, as the mighty mass crashes down. The pole of the literary globe is dislocated, where with equal earnestness he adorned the garb of a citizen and the robe of state. As Eurydice wandering through the shades of Dis longed to caress Orpheus, so did Philosophy entangled in the subtleties of Schoolmen seek Bacon as a deliverer, with such winged hand as Orpheus lightly touched the lyre’s strings, the Styx before scarce ruffled now at last bounding, with like hand stroked Philosophy raised high her crest; nor did he with workmanship of fussy meddlers patch, but he renovated her walking lowly in the shoes of Comedy. After that more elaborately he rises on the loftier tragic buskin, and the Stagirite (like) Virbius comes to life again in Novum Organurn? The Columbus of Apollo with his lordly crew passes beyond the Pillars of Hercules in order to bestow a new world and new arts; youthful ardour advances his efforts even to the harsh envy of menacing fate. What ancient or what Hannibal fearing blindness of his remaining eye agitates (winnows) the Subura with his victorious standards (companies)78 What mighty Milo enrages the oaks, when gibbous old age weighs more heavily than the ox?While our demi-god transmitted sciences to all ages to come, he is found to be the altogether too premature constructor of his own tomb. His philosophic thinking seems tranquil ecstasy, whereby his mind wings its way through the galaxy of the heavens to contemplate the ideas of the good. There it abides as in its home, a stranger in its own. It returns. Playfully coy again it roams, and again returns? At last in earnest secretly it wholly withdraws; thus the spirit gets disused to the groaning, sickly, dead body, thus bids it die. Come, mourning Muses, gather frankincense from the heights of Libanus. Let every star emit a spark into his pyre; be it sacrilege that the kingly pile should be kindled for Prometheus from a kitchen fire. And if perchance some mischievous breeze should frolic amid the sacred ashes and try to scatter them, then weep; the sequent teardrops will rush to mutual embraces. Once more, go forth happy soul, the foundations of your prison being utterly destroyed, seek James, prove that for the even thither a subject loyalty follows. From the tripod of Law go on uttering oracles disciples of Themis. Thus, blessed inhabitants of heaven, let Astraea enjoy her champion of old, or with Bacon give back Astraea.
- To the Memory and Merits of the Right Honourable Lord Francis, Lord Verulam and Viscount St. Albans.
Wail with weeping turbulent streams sprung from beneath the hoof of Pegasus, and ye streams profane flow muddily with your current scarce dragging along the black dust. And let the foliage of verdant Daphne falling from the hapless branches wither. Wherefore, ye Muses, would you cultivate the useless laurels of your sad garden? Nay, with stern axes cut. down the trunk of the worthless tree. He hath left the living, whom alone it was wont to bear the laurel crown for Verulam reigning in the citadel of the gods shines with a golden crown; and enthroned above the bounds of the sky he loves with face towards Earth to view the stars; who grudged the immortals that wisdom should be confined to the abode of the blessed, undertaking to bring it back and restore it to mortals by a new cult. Than whom no inhabitant of Earth was master of greater intellectual gifts; nor does any survivor so skillfully unite Themis and Pallas. While he flourished the sacred choir of the Muses influenced by these arts poured forth all their eloquence in his praise (and), left none for wailings I, William Boswell have laid (this offering on the tomb).
- On the Death of the Right Honourable Lord Francis Bacon, Late Lord Chancellor of England.
A Daring example of how far the human mind may reach to, while you rejuvenate successfully the arts worn out with age, and extricate and free necks from the yoke of antiquity, in what way to be mourned does your funeral approach? What tears are demanded, what mean the fates? Did their mother Nature fear she should lie all bare, while your hand drew aside her sacred robe? While, too, the unknown recesses of things were exposed to sight and no nook escaped your ken? or was it that, having been of old espoused to consorts of past ages, she has rejected the embrace of a modern lord? or, finally, baneful and envious towards humane enterprises has she snapped the thread of your life, which ought to have been prolonged? Thus, lest Archimedes should soar beyond the crystal sphere, he fell by the sword of a legionary. And you, O Francis, have therefore met your doom, lest the work, which should not have been essayed, should be completed.
- To The Same.
Some there are though dead live in marble, and trust all their duration to long lasting columns; others shine in bronze, or are beheld in yellow gold, and deceiving themselves think they deceive the fates. Another division of men surviving in a numerous offspring, like Niobe irreverent, despise the mighty gods; but your fame adheres not to sculptured columns, nor is read on the tomb (with) “Stay, traveller, your steps”; if any progeny recalls their sire, not of the body is it, but born, so to speak, of the brain, as Minerva from Jove’s: first your virtue provides you with an ever-lasting monument, your books another not soon to collapse, a third your nobility; let the fates now celebrate their triumphs, who having nothing yours, Francis, but your corpse. Your mind and good report, the better parts survive; you have nothing of so little value as to ransom the vile body withal.
T. Vincent, Trinity College.
- On the Death of the Most Noble Lord, Francis, Baron Verulam, etc.
Formerly so many good parts seemed to me impossible either to co-exist in one, or ever to have died; with these, as the heavens with stars, your life was resplendent, and all have followed you to the grave. Genius and eloquence flowing with mighty stream, the ornament equally of the philosopher and the judge. Now I see such things could be; but friends refrain,– if he returns not, neither will they I ween.
T. Vincent, Trinity College
- At Threnody on the Death of the Most Illustrious and Renowned Personage, Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam.
Muses pour forth your perennial waters in lamentations, and let Apollo shed tears (plentiful as the water) which even the Castalian stream contains; for neither would meagre dirges befit so great a loss, nor our moderate drops the mighty monument. The very nerve of genius, the marrow of persuasion, the golden stream of eloquence the precious gem of concealed literature, the noble Bacon (ah! the relentless warp of the three sisters) has fallen by the fates. O how am I in verse like mine to commemorate you, sublime Bacon! and those glorious memorials of all the ages composed by your genius and by Minerva. With what learned, beautiful, profound matters the Great Instauration is full! With what light does it scatter the darksome moths of the ancient sages! creating from chaos a new wisdom: thus God Himself will with potent hand restore the body laid in the tomb; therefore you do not die (O Bacon !) for the Great Instauration will liberate you from death and darkness and the grave.
R. C., T. C.
- On the Death of the Right Honourable Baron Verulam, etc.
Lo! again is heard (surely a great restoration) Bacon with shining countenance in the starry vault (Star Chamber); now truly robed in white, a spotless judge he listens; to whom, O Christ, a robe dyed in Thy blood, is given. To become whole he first put off himself. Earth, said he, receive my body; then he sought the stars. Thus, thus, the glorious spirit follows Astraea, and now beholds all cloudless the true Verulam.
- On the Marriage of the Roses.
The seventh Henry lives not in bronze and marble; but in your pages great Bacon he lives? Unite the two roses Henry; Bacon gives a thousand; as many words in his book, so many roses I ween.
- On the Death of the Most Noble and Learned Lord Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, etc.
Is it thus falls the rarest glory of the Aonian band? and do we decree to entrust seed to the Aonian fields? Break pens, tear up writings, if the dire goddesses may justly act so. Alas! what a tongue is mute ! what eloquence ceases ! Whither have departed the nectar and ambrosia of your genius? How has it happened to us, the disciples of the Muses, that Apollo, the leader of our choir, should die? If earnestness, loyalty, toil or watchfulness avail naught, and if one of the Three (fates) shall put forth her ravening hands, why do we propose many undertakings to ourselves in our brief span? Why do we ransack MSS. covered with mouldering dust? Forsooth! for death to drag us to his realm, while we force from death the worthy labours of others. Yet, why do I vainly pour forth profitless words? Who will wish to speak, you being silent? Let no one scatter fragrant violets on your urn, nor rear your sepulchre’ with the vastness of pyramids; for your laboured tomes preserve your fame. This suffces; these memorials will not let you die.
- On the Death of the Right Honourable Lord, Francis Viscount St. Albans, Baron Verulam, a Peerless Man.
Forbear: our woe loves eloquent silence, since he has died who alone could speak, could speak what the chivalrous ring of princes were lost in admiration at, and (who alone could) resolve the intricacies of the law in the case of anxious defendants. A mighty work. But Verulam restores too our ancient arts and founds new ones. Not the same way as our predecessors; but he with fearless genius challenges the deepest recesses of nature. But she says, “Stay your advance and leave to posterity what will delight the coming ages to discover. Let it suffice for our times, that being ennobled by your discoveries they should glory in your genius. Something there is, which the next age will glory in; something there is, which it is fit should be known to me alone: let it be your commendation to have outlined the frame with fair limbs, for which no one can wholly perfect the members: thus his unfinished work commends the artist Apelles, since no hand can finish the rest of his Venus. Nature having thus spoken and yielding to her blind frenzy cut short together the thread of his life and work. But you, who dare to finish the weaving of this hanging web, will alone know whom these memorials hide.”
H. T., Fellow of Trinity College
- On the Death of the Most Noble Francis Lord Verulam Viscount St. Albans.You at length being dead exultant death in triumph exclaims: “Nothing greater than this could I have laid low”; Achilles alone destroyed magnanimous Hector, Caesar perished overwhelmed by one blow; death against you a thousand diseases, a thousand shafts had sent: is it credible that otherwise you could have died.
Thomas Rhodes, King’s College
- To the Memory of the Illustrious Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans.
Roger Bacon of yore, a most distinguished Englishman, potent in art, with burning zeal in days gone by searched out and made known the forces of Nature and the works of art: joining optics to chemistry, mathematics and perspective to physics, the glorious enterprises of his genius, he lives immortal through the gift of distinguished fame. Another Englishman, John Bacon, became famous by explaining the obscure oracles of Holy Scripture. Though the Baconian stock had given many noble pledges, widely celebrated throughout the world, to England, at length it produced this Francis: was ever other of nobler genius? of greater enterprise? of richer eloquence? of ampler mental range? His writings answer; wherein with sharp censure he corrects the works of ancient sages; and in modest volume the Great Instauration, the History of the Winds, the Image of Life and Death reveal his stupendous aims. Who of loftier soul exists unravelling nature and art? Why should I mention each separate work, a number of which of high repute remain? A portion lies buried; for some also, Rawley, his fidus Achates, ensures for Francis, that they should see the light.
Robert Ashley, of the Middle Temple
- On the History of Life and Death, By Lord Francis Bacon, Lately Deceased.
Writer of the History of Life and Death, O! Bacon! deserving to die late, nay rather to live for ever, why, departed one, do you prefer the everlasting shades, and so destroy with yourself, us, who will not survive you? You have written, O! Bacon! the history of the life and death of us all; who, I ask, is capable of (writing) the history either of your life or death? alas! Nay, give place, O Greeks! give place, Maro, first in Latin story. Supreme both in eloquence and writing, under every head renowned, famous in council chamber and lecture hall; in war too, if war would submit to art, surpassing in every pursuit, under every title, a very Chiron; a despiser of wealth, and while he reckons gold less than light air, he exchanges earthly realms for the sky, the ground for the stars.
- To the same Most Eloquent Personagc.
Let expediency consider the better part of counsel, but add, a poet from Ithaca, and you hold all.
E. F., King’s College
- On the Death of the Most Learned and Noble Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Abans.
The day-star of the Muses has set before his houri the special care and special grief, alas! of the Clarian God has perished, Bacon, thy darling, O Nature! and the world’s; the special sorrow of death itself, which is a marvel. Why was not cruel fate willing to allow herself liberty? Death would be willing to spare, but fate refused. Melpomene rebuking would not endure this; and addressed the dire goddesses in these words: “Atropos, never before truly cruel; take the whole world, only give me back my Phoebus. Ah! woe is me! neither heaven, nor death, nor the muse, O Bacon ! nor my prayers prevented your doom?
- On the Death of the Same.
If you will claim, O Bacon! as much as you have given to the world and to the Muses, or if you mean to be a creditor, love, the world, the Muses, Jove’s treasury, prayers, heaven, poetry, incense, grief will stop payment; what can the arts do, or envied antiquity? At length envy may cease. It is necessary O Bacon! that you should kindly submit and remain a creditor, ah! nature has not wherewithal to repay you.
- On the Death of the Same, etc.
If none but the worthy should mourn your death, O Bacon! none, trust me, none will there be. Lament now sincerely, O Clio! and sisters of Clio, ah! the tenth Muse and the glory of the choir has perished. Ah! never before has Apollo himself been truly unhappy! Whence will there be another to love him so? Ah! he is no longer going to have the full number; and unavoidable is it now for Apollo to be content with nine Muses.
- Consolatory Poem to Both Universities.
If my prayers with yours O Sisters! had prevailed (ah! our plaintive song comes before its time), the contest of our love would not be ambiguous (sometimes too in love lurks affectionate strife) we should be in possession of our tears and of thee, Apollo, the darling, learned Bacon of your native land. What more could nature or worth produce? Thence have you put forth the fruit of your undying name. When the best critics of our age read your works, they kept vowing that it was fitting that you alone should express yourself. To grant him to us and to you (sisters) the excessively dire goddesses have refused (ah!) why are they so seldom willing to make concession?). He deserved Heaven but that he should yet a little while tarry on Earth, what prayers are too importunate considering his worth? O happy fate! since it is not a fault but highly and auspiciously creditable to lament your death, O Bacon! Restrain at length your just tears and wailings, sisters; we cannot all enter the sad funeral pyre. He was ours and yours: thence a contest ensued, and which of our loves be the greater is uncertain. Our grief and yours is mutual; so vast a catastrophe could not be confined to one place.
William Loe, Trinity College
- On the Death of the Most Illustrious Verulam, Viscount St. Albans
While the Verulam sage was filled with the desire of writing and enriched the ages with crowds of books: death detesting polished books had long had his eye on them, nor did the wretch endure such numerous writings. For he hates the everlasting monuments of genius, and ambitious compositions, which despise funeral pyres. Therefore while the (writer’s) hand wielded the pen, and while the eloquent pen wearied the frail hands, nor yet had the page wound up the completed manuscript, when the black Theta became the crowning period of the work: nevertheless in spite of death your writings, O Bacon! will live and descend to our remote posterity.
James Duport, Trinity College
- To the Passer-By Looking on the Tomb of the Right Honourable Lord Francis, Lord Verulam.
Think you, foolish traveller, that the leader of the choir of the Muses and of Phoebus is interred in the cold marble? Away, you are deceived. The Verulamian star now glitters in ruddy Olympus: The boar, great James shines resplendent in your constellation.
- On the Death of the Most Illustrious Lord Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, Most Distinguished troth in Letters and Wisdom, as also for Innate Nobility.
Nor I, nor Naso himself, were he alive, could duly celebrate your obsequies with verse, great Bacon. Poetry comes as the product of a tranquil mind, our hearts are troubled by your death. You have filled the world with your writings, and the ages with your fame. Enter into your rest, since to do so is so sweet. The advancement of Learning written by you, O Bacon! exalts your head now throughout the entire globe. I utter verses incomplete, or rather none, but could verses restore you, O Bacon! to life, what verses would I then contribute!
C. D., King’s College
- On the Death of the Right Honourable Lord Francis, Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans.
He who was the arbiter of law, freed from that law, is himself arraigned before the tribunal of death; thus does the polity of Rhadamanthus clash with ours. He who would at last have taught the greatest master of wisdom to use a New Organ, himself compelled by death’s ancient method makes useless his own members. In fact Destiny wished from premisses quite modern, a conclusion to be arrived at as to this man’s death, whether or not there were sense or reason in the unpropitious fates. He who disclosed secrets of nature, which in one age should not be revealed, nevertheless had to pay the debts due to nature, a compliant stepmother. Finally he dies full of an unusually rich vein of arts, and dying demonstrates how extensive is art, how contracted is life, how everlasting fame; he who was in our sphere the brilliant Light-bearer, and trod great paths of glory, passes, and fixed in his own orb shines refulgent.
- Funeral Chant:
Beneath the tomb lies the body (spoil not due to the grave), the outer marble recounts his virtues; thus virtue, about to flee away herself, imprinting these traces, has taught the pious slab to speak: our hearts will furnish an everlasting tomb, so that stones and men together may speak his fame.
Henry Ferne, Fellow of Trinity College
- To the Statue of the Most Lettered and Noble Lord, Lord Francis Bacon.
He who says you have not numbered eighty Decembers, examines your brow, not your books. For if venerable Virtue, if Wisdom’s wreaths make an ancient, you were older than Nestor. But if your appearance denies, your Wisdom of the Ancients proves it: the certain token of your advanced age. For to live is not to outlast the lustrums of crows, but to be able to enjoy past life.
G. Nash, Pembroke Hall
- On the Late Floods.
Eridanus had let loose the floods of his swollen waters: he had loosed them; and great fear fell on men: since fearing the time of the great cataclysm of Pyrrha, they believed that the flood would increase with like inundation. That (event) had been wild grief and tears for the coming death, and offerings fit to be furnished for the recent obsequies It is clear that your death’ most illustrious man, affects even rivers, much more human beings and the sad hearts of men.
- On the Death of the Right Honourable Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans Baron Verulam, etc.
Do we then bewail you too? And you, who were able to immortalize the Muses, could you die yourself, O Bacon? Will you then no longer enjoy the upper air? (The wind and the air deserve not that you should write their history.) It is evident the frenzy of uncontrollable fate longed to be appeased with an uncommon funeral pile: and now fiercely scorning vulgar triumphs she ostentatiously shows that much too much has been put into her power: and one day is now conscious of grief as great as not all the previous year was, notwithstanding an unusually severe visitation of the plague.
- On the Death of the Most Noble Francis Bacon, Sometime Keeper of the Great Seal of England.
What? Has litigation sprung up among the gods? Has aged Saturn, again aiming at supremacy, summoned into court his rival and son Jove? But having no pleader there he leaves the stars, directing his course to earth, where soon he finds one suitable for his purpose, namely Bacon, whom, mowing down with his scythe, he compels to administer justice among the angels and between himself and his son Jove. What? Do then the gods need the wisdom of Bacon? Or has Astraea left the gods? It is so: She has gone: and even she, abandoning the stars, sedulously ministered to our Bacon. Saturn himself spent not his time in happier ages, to which the name even of gold is given (these are poets’ fancies), than we experienced when Bacon judged us. Therefore the gods, envying our happy state, willed to remove this universal joy. He is gone, he is gone: it suffices for my woe to have uttered this: I have not said he is dead: What need is there now of black raiment? See! see! our pen flows with black pigment; and the fountain of the Muses shall become dry, resolving itself into tiny tears: April, implying sorrows, drips: surely the fraternal discord of the wind rages more than usual: that is to say, each moaning ceases not to draw deep sighs from the heart. O benefactor of all, how all things seem to have loved you living and to mourn you dead!
Henry Ockley, Trinity College
- On the Languishing Illness, But unexpected Death of His Most Noble Lord, Viscount St. Albans.Death first attacked, then was repulsed: I thought he had repented of his design and crime. As a skilful general marches off from besieged cities, in order to attack the garrison when off their guard and freed from fear, just so Death, relentless on a day hostile to the Muses smites this man much skilled in warding off a blow. How I would long to consume utterly my eyes with weeping! But, ah! I preserve my eyes for their own books. Thus I am glad to produce a poem stained with tears; in it there is no salt, save what the salt tear has given.
William Atkins, His Lordship’s Domestic Attendant
- On the Death of Lord Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Late Chancellor of All England.
While by dying the Verulamian demi-god is the cause of much sadness and weeping in the Muses, we believe, alas! that no one after his death can become happy: we believe that even the Samian sage was unwise. Assuredly the object of our sorrow cannot be in a state of felicity, since his Muses are grieving, and he loves not himself more than them. But the imperious Clotho compelled his reluctant spirit. To heaven among the stars she drew his unwilling feet. Are we to think then that the arts of Phoebus lay dormant and the herbs of the Clarian god were of no avail? Phoebus was as powerful as ever, nor was efficacy absent from his herbs; be sure that he retained his skill and they their force. But believe that Phoebus withheld his healing hand from his rival, because he feared his becoming King of the Muses. Hence our grief; that the Verulamian demi-god should be inferior to Phoebus in the healing art, though his superior in all else. O Muses! mere shadowy ghosts, little more than the pallid suite of Dis, yet if still you breathe and do not mock my poor eyes (but I would not think you would have survived him); if therefore some Orpheus should have brought you back from death and that vision deludes not my sight, apply yourselves now to lamentations and canticles of woe, let abundance of tears flow from your eyes.
See! how plentiful the flood! I acknowledge these for genuine Muses and their tears. One wonderful to say, be hidden beneath these waters. For he has perished through whom you live, and who has fostered the Pierian goddesses with many an art. When he perceived that the arts were held by no roots, and like seed scattered on the surface of the soil were withering away, he taught the Pegasean arts to grow, as grew the spear of Quirinus swiftly into a laurel tree. Therefore since he has taught the Heliconian goddesses to flourish no lapse of ages shall dim his glory. The ardour of his noble heart could bear no longer that you divine Minerva, should be despised. His godlike pen restored your wonted honour and as another Apollo dispelled the clouds that hid you. But he dispelled also the darkness which murky antiquity and blear-eyed old age of former times had brought about; and his super-human sagacity instituted new methods and tore away the Labyrinthine windings, but gave us his own? Certainly it is clear that the crown of ancient sages had not such penetrating eyes. They were like Phoebus rising in the East, he like the same resplendent at noon. They like Tiphys first from the coast; he knowing the Pleiads and explored the seas, but scarcely did their bark depart insatiate Scylla, sees what is to be shunned, the Hyads and all the constellations and your dogs, whither to steer his ship over the sea; and the manner compass with greater security points the way.They begot the infant Muses, he adult. They were parents of mortal muses, he produced goddesses. Consequently the Great Instauration took the palm from all other books, and the sophists, uncouth mob, retire. Pallas too, now arrayed in a new robe, paces forth, as a snake shines, when it has put off its old skin. Thus the new-born Phoenix regards the ashes from which it springs, and the bloom of youth returns to aged AEson. So too, Verulam restored, boasts its new walls, and thence hopes for its ancient renown. But how much more brightly than poor mortal vision gleam his eyes, while he sings the sacred mysteries of the State, while he sounds forth the laws of nature and the secrets of kings, as though he were secretary in’ both spheres, while he celebrates Henry, who both King and priest joined in a stable union both the roses. But these themes far surpass our Muses’ power, such let not unhappy Granta. but the Court profess Skill in.
But since Granta gave her breasts to such lips, she has a claim on your glories, O greatest of her offspring! she has a right to extinguish with her tears the sad funeral fires, that she might pluck something from the midst of the funeral pile. But my song can bring you no praise a singer yourself you chant your own praises thereby. Let me, however, with what skill I may, celebrate your renown, yet if art fail me, my very grief will redound to your fame.
Thomas Randolph, Trinity College