Brief for Plaintiff
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REVISED AND ENLARGED
JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY
The Honorable Richard Cutts Shannon
ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY AND MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO THE REPUBLICS OF
NICARAGUA, SALVADOR, AND COSTA RICA
THIS BOOK IS INSCRIBED
BY THE AUTHOR
If we look carefully into the matter, it is not on the prescribed method of Bacon that his fame was built. It was the power of divination in the man which made him great and influential.--DR. INGLEBY.
Bacon was the prophet of things that Newton revealed.--HORACE.
The art which Bacon taught was the art of inventing arts.--MACAULAY.
The glance with which he surveyed the intellectual universe resembled that which the archangel from the golden threshold of heaven darted down into the new creation.--IBID.
His service lay not so much in what he did himself as in the grand impulse he gave to others.--PROF. MINTO.
Il se saisit tellement de l'imagination, qu'il force la raison à s'incliner, et il les éblouit autant qu'il les éclaire.--M. RÉMUSAT.
The Novum Organum is a string of aphorisms, a collection as it were of scientific decrees, from an oracle who foresees the future and reveals the truth. It is intuition, not reasoning.--M. TAINE.
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.--PROF. CRAIK.
No two critics agree as to the nature or cause of the profound impression he has made on mankind. We are certain only that he is a resplendent orb, in the light of which, across an interval of three centuries, every man still casts a shadow.
In the following Brief for the Plaintiff, Bacon vs. Shakspere, in an action of ejectment, now on trial, it is intended to cite such facts only as are generally agreed upon by both parties, or which can be easily verified, and, in the main, to let those facts, trumpet-tongued, speak for themselves. Like the lines that mark the sea-coast on our maps, each separate proof shades off in a thousand fine corroborating circumstances, which are often very interesting as well as important for a full knowledge of the subject. The question of ciphers is, for the present purpose at least, clearly beyond soundings.
For further information, the reader is respectfully referred, in behalf of Bacon, to 'The Authorship of Shakespeare,' by Nathaniel Holmes, 2 vols. Boston, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1887; and to 'The Great Cryptogram' (first part), by Ignatius Donnelly, Chicago, R. S. Peale & Co., 1888; and, on the side of Shakspere, to 'The Bacon-Shakespeare Question Answered,' by Charlotte C. Stopes, London, Trubner & Co., 1889; to 'Studies in Shakespeare,' by Richard Grant White, Chap. VI., Boston, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1886; and to 'Wit, Humor, and Shakespeare' by John Weiss, Chap. VIII., Boston, Roberts Bros., 1876; not to mention numerous others, on either side, which it is to be feared the world will soon be too small to contain.
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
We may say of improbabilities, as we do of evils, "Choose the least." It is antecedently improbable that the "Shake-speare" plays, for which the whole domain of human knowledge was laid under contribution, were written by William Shakspere of Stratford, for he was uneducated. It is also antecedently improbable that Francis Bacon, whose name for nearly three hundred years has been a synonym for all that is philosophical and profound, who was so great in another and widely different field of labor that he gave a new direction for all future time to the course of human thought, was the author of them. And yet, to one or the other of these two men must we give our suffrage for the crowning honors of humanity.
In the claim for Shakspere, the improbability is so overwhelming that it involves very nearly a violation of the laws of nature. No man ever did, and, it is safe to say, no man ever can acquire knowledge intuitively. One may be a genius, like Burns, and the world be hushed to silence while he sings; but the injunction, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread," is everywhere as true of intellectual as it is of physical life. The fruit of the tree of knowledge can be reached only by hard climbing, the sole instance on record in which it was plucked and handed down to the waiting recipient having proved a failure.
In the case of Bacon, also, the assumption may be said to lie on the very boundary line of credibility. It implies the possession of faculties seemingly inconsistent, if not mutually exclusive; and yet to a certain degree it is not without precedent. Fortune has more than once emptied a whole cornucopia of gifts at a single birth. What diversity, what beauty, what grandeur in the personality of Leonardo da Vinci! He was author, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, naturalist, civil engineer, inventor, and in each capacity, almost without exception, eminent above his contemporaries. His great painting, the 'Last Supper,' ranks the third among the products in this branch of modern art, Raphael's 'Madonna di San Sisto,' and Michael Angelo's 'Last Judgment' being respectively, perhaps, first and second. At the same time, he was the pioneer in the study of anatomy and structural classification of plants; he founded the science of hydraulics; he invented the camera obscura; he proclaimed the undulatory theory of light and heat; he investigated the properties of steam, and anticipated by four centuries its use in the propulsion of boats; and he barely missed the great discovery which immortalized Newton. In deed, we see in Leonardo da Vinci not a mountain only, but a whole range of sky-piercing peaks.
Another illustrious example is Goethe, scarcely inferior to Bacon, whatever the claims made for the latter, in the brilliancy and scope of his powers. As a poet, Goethe was a star of the first magnitude, a blaze of light in the literary heavens. His 'Faust' is one of the six great poems of the world. As a writer of prose fiction he stands in the front rank, his 'Wilhelm Meister' being a classic, side by side with 'The Heart of Mid Lothian,' 'Middlemarch,' and 'The Scarlet Letter." By a singular coincidence, also, as compared with Bacon, he was one of the master spirits of his age in the sphere of the sciences. An evolutionist before Darwin, he beheld, as in a vision, the application of law to all the phenomena of nature and life. In botany, he made notable additions to the then existing stock of knowledge; and throughout the vast realm of biology he not only developed new methods of inquiry, but spread over it the glow of imagination, without which the path of discovery is always doubly difficult to tread.
In the light of precedents, therefore, the claim made to the authorship of the plays in behalf of Bacon cannot be discredited.
ANDOVER, MASS., September 1, 1890.
PREFACE TO FOURTH EDITION
NOTHING is more tenacious of life than an old popular belief. It has the force of habit, which the pressure of enlightened opinion, through successive generations, alone can overcome. "O Lord, thou hast taught us," once prayed a good deacon, "that as a twig is bent, the tree's inclined,"--a truth drawn from the Book of Nature, and as indubitable as though the writings of Pope were a part of the sacred canon. Trees that have unnatural and uncomely twists in their branches, even if growing on Mt. Zion, must be permitted to die of old age; the science of arboriculture is powerless to affect them. Intelligent and conscientious scholars among us are still defending the historical verity of the first chapter of Genesis. A personal devil is as potent in the minds of some men to-day as he was formerly in the minds of all. How often one hears in Germany the polite ejaculation Gesundheit uttered when a person sneezes! Even now, many people turn, almost instinctively, to see in which part of the heavens the moon quarters for a forecast of the weather, though it has long been demonstrated that that luminary has no more influence in this branch of our local affairs than has the most distant star which the Lick telescope reveals to us.
Unfortunately, these old beliefs and habitudes linger in some of the noblest minds to the last. The shadow of a solar eclipse, sweeping over the earth, permits the just and the unjust, the wise and the foolish, to emerge into the light behind it indiscriminately. Evil spirits do not always beg the privilege, when they find themselves about to be exorcised, of taking refuge in a herd of swine and leaping over a precipice into the sea. The butcheries of the Salem witchcraft, marking the close of that delusion, were perpetrated by those to whom the love of God was the chief end of man. One of the last judges in England to send a witch to the gallows was Time's noblest offspring, Sir Matthew Hale. The last in that country to manumit their slaves were the clergy. The Garrison mob in Boston wore broadcloth on their backs, and all the current virtues in their hearts. It is, therefore, no criterion of a good cause that men of acknowledged abilities and culture support it, nor of a bad cause that such men denounce it.
Indeed, Truth has a modest way of entering the world like a mendicant, at the back door. Such a guest is seldom admitted, on his first arrival, at the other end of the house. Copernicus stood there, shivering in the cold, thirteen years before he dared even to lift the knocker. Every great religion has sprung up among the poor. Every great reform owes its origin to the oppressed. Every great invention has had, like the founders of Rome, a wolf for a nurse. It is not to be expected that rebellion against a king of poets will find favor among the nobility that surround his throne.
The high priests who, with unsandalled feet, minister in a sacred temple, will not be the first to despoil the idol they worship. No captain in that "fleet of traffickers and assiduous pearl-fishers," to which Carlyle refers, in the most eloquent sentence he ever wrote, will strike his colors or change his outfit so long as the products of his industry under the old régime are bringing him wealth. And what to him are winds and waves or any storm of criticism, whose barque is anchored to the theory of miraculous Inspiration! Showers of verbal aerolites on the mimic stage, only a product of untaught Nature!
Amid the turmoil of our daily life, if we listen reverently, we may hear voices crying in the wilderness, perhaps the voice of a woman, alone and forsaken, in a strange city.
"No accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath ever lost."
From the banks of Missouri, from the wheatfields of Minnesota, from far-off Melbourne at the antipodes, out of the heart of humanity somewhere, a response in due time is sure to come.
ANDOVER, MASS., January 1, 1891.
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