painting by Barbara Gaffney
depicts Bacon inside The Compton Room in Canonbury Tower
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Truth to tell, for three hundred years the world of Poesy and Dramatic Art has been obsessed by an UNCOUTH HALLUCINATION.
Will not the spell be one day raised, or are we to see Titania, year after year, continuing to fondle so gross an ass, and crowning her vulgar joy with flowers and garlands?
Perhaps one farre offe golden morning Titania will awake from her dreaming, and realise THAT FOR UPWARDS OF THREE CENTURIES SHE HAS DOATED ON A CLOWN. Harold Bayley.
Full particulars respecting this Society and its Membership
can be obtained from the Secretary,
19 Spencer Buildings,
Victoria Street, S.W.,
MRS. E. EATON, Hon. Treasurer,95, Parliament Hill Mansions, Lissenden Gardens, N.W.
On Thursday afternoon, April 28th, 1910, an Address entitled-
was delivered by Mr. H. CROUCH BATCHELOR, at 10, Wetherby Terrace, S. W., at a Sessional Meeting of THE LADIES GUILD OF FRANCIS ST. ALBAN. Mr. WILLIAM WRIGHT SPONG in the Chair.
MR. CROUCH BATCHELOR, in commencing his lecture, remarked:-
THE main purpose of my remarks to-day is to collate and condense the various indications, and what I shall call pieces of EVIDENCE that Francis Bacon is the author of the whole of the literature which for 300 years has passed current under the name of Shakespeare.
Before proceeding further I would say that this Society was formed for the object of investigating the character and works, and making the results manifest to the world of one who has been described by Macaulay as having been gifted with the most exquisitely constructed intellect ever bestowed upon the children of men.
Macaulays celebrated essay on Bacon is on the whole injurious to Bacons moral character, and seems almost to exalt his intellect at the expense of his honour. I believe that later in life Macaulay stated that this was the only one of his essays which he regretted writing. Well he might do so, for with his popular style he captured the ears of the groundlings and has affixed a stigma to the name which for the majority of people has proved practically indelible. Not that the man in the street ever takes the trouble to think for himself, or concerns himself with so sublime a subject. The stigma only seems indelible so long as no attempt is made to erase it. Intelligence and truth are its instantaneous solvents.
In the meantime, in the region of pure intellect, Bacon, by the admission of all civilised mankind, stands supreme.
He was the Founder of that process by which truth in every section of human thought has been attained, in contradistinction to the universal habit, before he rose like the Sun to dissipate ignorance and superstition. Before he appeared all thinkers approached the problems of life and phenomena with preconceived ideas as to how they OUGHT to be accounted for. They formed their à priori theories, their syntheses, and then proceeded to twist and bend their intellects to subserve those preconceptions. It was reserved for Bacon to emancipate himself from this habit, and to deal with facts and phenomena on their actual merits, to observe them carefully and to deduce from them rather than attribute to them. No matter what men had believed before his time, he had only been in the world a very few years when it struck him that these old ways, this tyranny of unsupported beliefs were nonsensical, and that there is a light within man which, if he would allow himself to regard and be guided by it, would lead him onwards upon solid ground to a happier region than he had ever discovered in the then past ages. Bacon incarnated the new birth of the human mind and soul.
What then might we expect to find as characterising all his writings? The answer is COMMON SENSE. Before his time it was the most uncommon quality on earth.
What is one of the most distinguished qualities of all the Shakespeare literature? Common sense. I have never read one of the plays without being struck with this. When we think of the author of those plays how incontestably we form an idea of a being of mild, benignant common sense, of intensely human sympathetic nature, whose wit, whose sarcasm, whose poetry, whose imagination are all subdued to that medium of common sense in which it is evident that the author always worked. That is the reason why this literature has taken such a hold upon mankind. For not merely was the author a man for all time, but for all men. It is the Germans who say they actually discovered Shakespeare. The French love him hardly less. Our children the Americans we know regard him-that is the Author-as semi-divine. Pilgrimages to the shrine of Stratford-on-Avon have been almost as numerous as to those of all the nominally sacred religions, and, it is to be feared, with as little basis of objective truth as is possessed (we shall all admit this deficiency in regard to the religions we dont happen to believe in ourselves!) by many of them.
Well, then, no one will dispute the statement that
Bacon was the pioneer of common sense methods, and the Shakespeare literature is impregnated with that curious, and before Bacons time, rare quality.
But the years 1561 to 1626 were a dangerous period for common sense. Any one who started up to contradict received opinions and persisted in running his head against the ramparts of ignorance, prejudice and the vested interests of the epoch, would be certain to break it, even if Elizabeth or James did not cut it off.
Therefore, any one with the ultimate good of his fellow-creatures and their posterity at heart had to be extremely cautious and to proceed very slowly. He must convey the precious seed he bore in special vessels and sow it in suitable, sheltered places, unless it was to be lost or blown away.
This consideration brings me to the necessity of glancing for a moment at the air of esoteric mystery which, apart from all suggestions of Bacons authorship of the Shakespeare literature, is associated with Bacons acknowledged work; I do not say of all his works. But what seems to have been the impulse which moved an English lady, Mrs. Pott, to found this Society and to devote fifty years to the study of Bacons career is the belief that Francis reformed a secret society-the Rosicrucians-the purpose of which was to keep alight and hand on to future ages the lamp of knowledge. I cannot now, nor probably should I personally ever be competent to deal with this aspect of Bacons phenomenal existence. It is the study of a life-time, and the more efficiently Bacon might have directed that society, the more difficult must it necessarily be to lay bare its workings. I believe there was, and is, such a society, and I am inclined to think that its secrecy has outlived the period prescribed by Bacon, and that many keys, or open sesames, have been lost. Meantime we have Mrs. Potts wonderful book, Francis Bacon and his Secret Society, containing amongst other things hundreds of diagrams of paper marks, and these alone are fraught with fascinating interest and suggestions of thrilling possible meanings.
I will also pass by all questions of secret CYPHERS in the Shakespeare literature. I will not pronounce a personal opinion as to whether there is a cypher. If you believe Mrs. Gallup, who is sincerely convinced that she has discovered one such cypher-the biliteral-the whole story of Bacons
birth, life and work, and his modus operandi with reference to the Shakespeare plays by name, is clearly stated, and I am bound to say that the narrative, as partially quoted in Mr. Harold Bayleys book The Tragedy of Sir Francis Bacon, is of such a remarkable character, so original a dialectic, in such exact reproduction of the contemporary orthography, and records such strange thoughts or facts-if they be facts-that it is hard to believe that Mrs. Gallup, or any one else, invented them.
All I hope to accomplish by this paper is to disseminate truth in new directions; to arrest the attention of those to whom the whole subject is fresh. They who are best acquainted with it will most appreciate the immense difficulty in making a selection of the salient points.
I will first deal with the matter on the basis of probability. I am not able to prove, as one can prove that two and two make four, that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare, but I consider that there is evidence that the unimportant actor born at Stratford-on-Avon, and whose interests seem to have centred there all his life, and who retreated there for many years before his death, and who was known as William Shakspur, could not write Shakespeare.
I ask at once, Suppose it be provable that Shakespeare of Stratford did not write Shakespeare, who else could have written it? I challenge any educated person of any nation to suggest any other name than Francis Bacon. I will not labour this point. It will be generally admitted, notwithstanding that a lively German within the last two years announces that the real author was the Earl of Rutland. The earl was named Manners, the name of the present duke, and it is a very curious coincidence that after Shakspur of Stratford had retired from the stage, it appears from records lately unearthed at Belvoir Castle he was, in 1613, actually employed in some work at the castle-the painting of emblems, or some such matter-for which he was paid, with his friend Burbage the actor, 44 shillings. It is incontestable that Shakspere was at Belvoir doing some not literary work for a small remuneration. This scarcely renders his authorship of the literature more probable.
Well, let us agree that if Shakspere, of Stratford, did not write it Bacon was the only living man who could have done so.
I said I would deal with the question on the basis of probability. Probability in this case almost postulates sanity.
I speak of Shakspur, as distinguished from Shakespeare. Why? Not because I attach much importance to the spelling of the name. In those days thought was as advanced, as subtle, as refined, as deep and wide-embracing as it is now, or ever can be. It is the Shakespeare literature which proves it.
But the orthographical mould into which that thought was to flow was by no means settled. The orthography was still in a state of flux. So you will find Bacon himself sometimes spelling the same word differently on the same page. I could feel no assurance in an argument based upon the spelling of the name of the person called by us moderns William Shakespeare, but who himself never spelt his name that way. There are twenty or thirty different ways in which the family of this Stratford man spelt their name-Shagspere, Shaxper, Shaxburd, Shakspurre, &c.-and in the only admitted specimens of his handwriting, the five signatures, the name is spelt Shakspere, or in the last discovery at the Record Office (a sixth signature)-Will Shak. In the Marriage Bond of 1582 it is spelt SHAGSpere.
But I do attach importance to the sound of a name, and I regard the fact that all the title pages of the Plays and the Poems where a name is used bear the name as author-with two exceptions where it is spelt as Shakspere-as William or W. Shakespeare, as very important. I have personally studied the title pages of every item of the Shakespeare productions. Time does not permit of my saying more now than that the majority of the Plays were published as quarto pamphlets, and in the first instance anonymously. Some, after the first or second editions, bore the name William Shakespeare, and on by far the larger number, down to the last edition, that name is printed with a hyphen-William Shake-speare, which could only have been pronounced in such a way, even at that time as to suggest the shaking or brandishing of a spear. This recalls Pallas Minerva-the Goddess of Wisdom-and Ben Jonsons verses prefixed to the First Folio of the Plays-speaking of Shake-speares well tornéd lines run:-
In each of which he seems to shake a lance
As brandished at the eyes of ignorance.
This, therefore, establishes the fact beyond dispute, that the name Shake-speare did convey the idea of Wisdom attacking Ignorance and that it was not necessarily the name of any living person.
That is a very great thing to establish. The best that could be said by a defender of the Stratford faith would be that Jonson was punning upon the name of Shakspere. But why should he do so? Why make a pun, when the actual name as printed conveyed the meaning? We know that this was not the actual name of the author.
Suppose the author desired to keep his name a secret? The procedure would have been precisely that which is observable in connection with the appearance of the Shakespeare literature. At first anonymous; then an actor comes to be known whose name sounds very like Shakespeare, and as this man had acquired considerable influence in the management of the principal theatre, it probably flashed upon the authors mind that by adding the Christian name of this man and spelling the surname more consonantly to the purpose he had in view, he could completely cover up his tracks. Not merely had he got a first-rate nom de plume, but also a real personality to assist the disguise. There is every reason to believe that the illiteracy of this person, and his natural business instinct, or shall we say greed, made his adoption for this purpose all the easier. There does not seem to have been anybody contemporary with Shakspere who gave him credit for literary ability. The very few and doubtful allusions made to him during his lifetime are contemptuous and scornful. (Matthew Arnold says, he trod on earth unguessed at.) Jonson uses the expression-which is admitted to refer to the actor-Poet ape, and says, his works are een the frippery of wit. Then we have Greene writing in a book called A Groatsworth of Wit, published posthumously by Chettle, in 1592, warning Marlowe, Peele, and Nash-authors-against the bad faith of actors, of whom he speaks as
those puppits that speake from our mouths, those anticks garnisht in our colours. Is it not strange that I, to whom they all have beene beholding, shall, were ye in that case that I am now, be both at once of them forsaken-yes, trust them not, for there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that, with his tygers heart wrapped in a Players hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you, and being an absolute Johannes factotum is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a Country.
Then there is a curious Play called The Return from Parnassus, author
unknown, but it was acted in Cambridge between 1597 and 1602, in which the expression occurs:-
With mouthing words that better wits have framed,
They purchase lands and now Esquires are namde.
These quotations give rise to most important reflections-if not inferences-Works, the frippery of wit. It is generally held that Poet ape means Jonsons THEN opinion of Shakspere, the actor. It seems, then, that this man was credited with works. Is it not impossible that a great scholar, critic and playwright like Jonson could regard what we know as the Shakespeare Plays as the frippery of wit? Of course, it is certain that Jonson could not have meant them. Then what works did Shakspere produce other than those we revere? I do not know. But Jonson says more in this epigram. It runs:-
Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are een the frippery of wit,
From brokerage is become so bold a thief-
As we, the robbed, leave rage and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays. Now, grown
To a little wealth and credit in the scene,
He takes up all, makes each mans wit his own,
And told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes
The sluggish, gaping auditor devours:
He marks not whose twas first and after times
May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
And, in a publication called Confessio Fraternitatis, chap. xii. (anonymous), 1615, there is this extraordinary passage:-
Our age doth produce many such, one of the greatest being a stage player, a man with sufficient ingenuity for imposition.
Jonsons epigram was prophetic, for there are plenty of sluggish, gaping auditors still extant, ready to accept anything without examination!
It is quite certain that the foregoing quotations relate to Shakspere the actor. One of the few things we know about him is that he bought lands, died a considerable landed proprietor, that he applied for a Coat of Arms for his father, that his first application was based upon false
representations, that it was refused, but that ultimately in some way not made very clear it was granted. The man was wealthy and he was vain, and what we should call nowadays a snob.
Now, again reverting to probability. It is time we considered and contrasted the known facts of the lives of Bacon and Shakspere of Stratford.
There are many lives of Shakspere, of Stratford, and not the slightest justification for one of them. Their origin is in this wise. The greatest literature in the world is attributed to William Shakespeare. William Shakspere of Stratford was the son of parents neither of whom could read or write. We know that he was born in 1564. Not one of his self-styled biographers dare say, for a fact, that he was ever at school, but they assume and say doubtless he must have gone to the grammar school of Stratford. We know the masters name, but the name of the scholar is not to be found. It is clear that he gave no indication of marked ability as a youth. We know that of the eighteen town councillors only six could sign their names, notwithstanding the existence of a school in their midst. We know that Shaksperes father fell into financial troubles, and that William was taken into his employ at a very early age, say, 12 to 14, and that employ was a butcher, leather seller and corn dealer. We know that at the age of 18 William married a woman named Hathway, eight years older than himself, and that within six months a child was born. There is evidence that the marriage license was drawn for the name of another woman, and there is tradition that Anne Hathways brothers had something to say on the subject. We know that the wife had three children in all, two being twins-Susannah, the first, and Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet died in youth. We know that about the age of 21 or 23 he left his wife and family and came to London. This brings us to 1585 at earliest. We know that several of the plays, with the names they now bear, appeared from 1589 at latest, and that Loves Labours Lost was acted in 1592. The best authorities place its composition in 1588. All the plays were acted before they were published, in many cases some years before, and in some cases they were never published or performed or heard of until they appeared in the First Folio of 1623, or seven years after Shaksperes death. Between the year of Shaksperes arrival in London (whenever that exactly was) and the first mention of him in 1593 we know nothing about him. We all, of course, remember what was taught us at school that his first employment was holding the horses of
persons who went into the Globe Theatre. Tradition supports this, but it is not knowledge. We know that in 1593 Shakspere was a member of a company of players who in that year appeared before Queen Elizabeth. But in the Groatsworth of Wit we have seen that he was parodied as Shake-scene, so that between 1585 and 1592 he must have made a sufficient mark to have elicited from Greene the very unflattering opinion expressed in that work. Now it is quite natural that mouthing others words and buying the reversion of old plays, etc., might have been accomplished in that period, but it is impossible, short of a greater miracle than any recorded in scripture, that he should have written various plays, all exhibiting wide knowledge, and especially the most learned of all, Loves Labours Lost, which is an irony and sarcasm upon scholastic learning, involving profound classical knowledge in its author. Remember that books were not easy to obtain in those days, and that Shakspere had to get his living and would have little opportunity for study.
Now I pause here to introduce as regards that particular Play a point which probably dethrones Shakspere and enthrones Francis Bacon. The scene is laid in Navarre, at the Court of the Sovereign. Henry IV. of France was then King of Navarre. In the Play he is called Ferdinand. But Lords attending him are called Biron, Longaville and Dumain. Now these are the names of the actual minister and Courtiers there when Anthony Bacon, Franciss brother and incessant correspondent, was residing there, and he remained several years, and it is on record in letters from Anthony, now at the Library of Lambeth Palace, that Anthony desired to come to England about the time this Play was to be performed. He was prevented from doing so. It is quite inconceivable that a rustic from Stratford should have got hold of these names from an obscure Court of Southern Europe for a play of his own writing, and it is quite certain that the names were known to both the Bacons, as Francis visited many European Courts. The actual passports granted to Anthony by Biron, the Minister, and Dumain were found by Mrs. Chambers Bunten in the British Museum. The Play is mentioned in Henslowes Diary by the name of Berowne. All the indications are that it was written anonymously and placed in the hands of other writers, for use in Henslowes theatre. And it will be asked, Who is Henslowe? Henslowe was proprietor of the Rose and Fortune theatres. His step-daughter married Edward Alleyn, a co-proprietor with Henslowe. Alleyn
made a fortune by theatre keeping, and, as we all know, devoted it to founding the College of Gods Gift at Dulwich, one of our most admirable and wealthy schools.
Henslowe, from 1591 to 1609, kept a Diary, in which he entered day by day the money taken for performances, the sums lent by him to the needy authors whilst writing, and for the purchase of the Plays when completed. Here we find the names of many of the known writers, Decker, Chettle, Marston, &c., including Ben Jonson. But not a single reference is made to Shakspere, either as actor or author. Perhaps never did negative approximate more nearly to positive evidence. Conspicuous by his absence, indeed, is the Stratford Genius!
We know that Shakspere bought his house, New Place, at Stratford in 1597. In 1598 he figures as holding ten quarters of corn at a time of famine. He was selling stone there in 1598. In the same year Richard Quiney, who subsequently married his daughter Judith, wrote a letter asking for a loan of £30. This is the only document in existence addressed to Shakspere, and I need not say that none exists from him.
We find on the records of Stratford, from 1599 to 1605, several transactions indicating that he was lending money, buying parcels of land, suing people for petty debts. In 1607 his daughter Susanna married John Hall at Stratford. In 1613 Shakspere buys and mortgages a house in London. On February 11th, 1613, Judith marries Quiney without a License, and they are arraigned before the Court at Worcester for violation of the law. Judith was then 26, but could not read or write. She makes a mark. But Shakespeare says in the second part of Henry VI. ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wings wherewith we fly to heaven. It is difficult to understand why Shakspere doomed his daughter to so evil a condition!
On March 25th, 1616, Shakspere makes his Will. On April 23rd he died. That is all we know of the reputed author of the greatest literature on earth. Yes, we also have his Will and see that every item he possessed, down to the minutest, is disposed of, that nothing was left to his wife except by an afterthought and interlineation, his second best bed; but there is not one book, nor scrap of printed paper, nor MS. Nothing about copyrights of Plays or poems, many of which had yet to come before the world, as we shall see later on.
The Summary comes to this: all that is known with any degree of certainty is that he was born at Straford-on-Avon, married and had children there, went to London where he became an actor, and was reputed to be the author of poems and plays; acquired wealth; applied for a title which was refused; invested money in real estate and in the tithes of his native town; instituted many lawsuits; returned to Stratford; sold malt; entertained a preacher at his house, and drew on the town for one quart of claret wine and one quart of sack (20 pence) for the occasion; favoured a conspiracy to enclose the Commons there; made his will, died and was buried.
It has been unkindly (but quite truthfully) said of him, there is not recorded of him one noble or lovable action.
And then his tomb. No one knows when the first monument in the church was erected, or who did it, paid for it, or wrote the absurdly unsuitable inscription which means that he was a Nestor in experienced judgment, a Socrates in philosophical genius, and a Virgil in poetic art. But, as late as 1636, there was a monument engraved in Dugdales Antiquities of Warwickshire, very different as regards the figure and the framework from that now existing. Mr. Greenwood had reproduced this, and the figure is that of a thin-faced melancholy-looking man, with no pen in his hand, and grasping what looks like a sack of wool. (Is this a practical pun on Bacon as the occupant of the woolsack?) Be that as it may, the figure resembles Bacon, and the inscription precisely describes him. It does not describe the money-lending local corn dealer.
No one knows when the present monument and figure were erected, with its goggle eyes, vacuous and clownish expression, and a conventional pen in his hand. I have so far made a little original research for myself that I have written the vicar of the church and proved that there is no knowledge about the tomb. That seems a queer thing-an almost impossible thing, one would suppose!
But here we enter upon the threshold of mystery. I said long ago that I cannot deal with the occult phases of the question. I will only remark now that everywhere, in all directions, wherever the great secret would naturally stand revealed, some unseen hand seems to have been at work to cut the thread or divert the scent. Thus, in Henslowes diary there are twenty-two admitted forgeries, written in by the one or two Shakespearean editors-Malone and Collier, for
instance, who were allowed to have the free use of the book. Dulwich College took no note of the book; it was amongst lumber until Malone found it about 1780, and he was allowed to retain it in his possession until 1812. It seems incredible. J. P. Collier was allowed the free run of it in 1831, and to him may probably be attributed some of the forgeries. These are not all directed to Shakespearean associations, but the tendency is to suggest the existence of that individual.
But the most remarkable indication of the unseen hand is furnished by the cover of a number of papers which belonged to Francis Bacon, found in 1867 amongst the muniments of the Duke of Northumberland. I have it here, reproduced in facsimile, in Edwin Reeds Bacon v. Shakspere. The contents were found complete, as indexed, except two of the Shakespeare plays, Richard II. and Richard III., which had been cut out. If only those plays had been found there! What a light they might have thrown upon our present investigation!
There is something very remarkable about the play of Richard the Second. It was the first published with the name of Shake-speare. It was performed by Essexs orders at the Globe (Shaksperes) Theatre the afternoon before Essex broke into rebellion. Essex had previously accepted the dedication of a pamphlet containing a Story of the First Year of King Henry the Eighth, which Queen Elizabeth regarded as a seditious prelude. Bacon was compelled to appear before the lords and denounce the performance of Richard the Second as an act of treason. The Queen never for a moment believed that the name used on the title was that of the real author. No notice was taken of Shakspere, but the Queen ordered Bacon to put on the rack any suspected author. Bacon was greatly embarrassed and replied:
Nay, madam, rack not his body, rack his style. Give him paper and pens, with help of books; bid him carry on his tale. By comparing the two parts I will tell you if he be the true man.
It seems, nevertheless, to have come out that Bacon was the author of Richard the Second, for as counsel for the prosecution he wrote to the Queen begging to be excused from bringing up this play as evidence against Essex, on the ground that
I, having been wronged by bruits before, this would expose me to them more, and it would be said I gave in evidence mine own tales.
Well, I said there was no justification for writing a life of
Stratford Shakspere. Do you see any? How was it done? Simply by taking the literature and saying, The author writes this, that and the other, and therefore he must have been so and so. Quite right! and this disposes of Shakspere of Stratford. The life and attributes of the author, as inferred from the literature, are precisely those of Bacon and ridiculously unlike those of Shakspere. But the Stratfordians prefer imagining a miraculous monster to accepting the existence of an actual being. Instead of a tradition which naturally fades, we have the accretions of imagination and unfounded assertions continually added to it, backed by the vested interests of the amour propre of mistaken scholarship, and I may add, of the Railway Companies and hotel keepers, who would suffer enormous losses by the dethronement of the popular idol in his local habitation and name.
One of the gravest difficulties a lover of truth has to contend with in this investigation is that moral character has become a factor, and the fanatical bias of the Stratford theorists is so strong that they-some of them-lie freely and in such a way as to involve self-detection. They garble extracts, suppress parts of sentences, metaphorically stamp and rave that they will not have it so, and abuse in the most reckless manner those who are not possessed by the same spirit.
The hopelessness of the Stratfordian claim is indicated by Canon Beechings methods of reply to Mr. Greenwoods book The Shakespeare Problem Re-stated. Canon Beeching is a trustee of the Birthplace.
Here are some choice examples from Churton Collins and Sidney Lee. Lee says the suggestion that Bacon wrote the literature is a foolish craze, morbid psychology, madhouse chatter. We are suffering from epidemic disease, and unworthy of serious attention from any but professed students of intellectual aberration. This includes Lord Penzance, Judge Webb, Judge Holmes, John Bright and large numbers of the most thoughtful scholars, eminent in many walks of life and especially in the legal profession-those, in fact, most able to weigh evidence.
Churton Collins tried to outvie Lee in fury. He says it is only fit for the student of morbid psychology and a ridiculous epidemic with many of the characteristics of the dancing mania of the middle ages. The belief that Bacon wrote Shakespeare stands alone in its absurdity and absence of
everything which could give any colour to that absurdity. We have proof all but conclusive that Shakspere read Greek and Latin in the original. That Bacon was without a spark of genial humour. (Some of you may know that he wrote one of the best jest books in the language, and that Jonsons criticism on him was that he could with difficulty let pass any opportunity for a jest.) Collins also remarks that what we ought to wonder at is how it came to pass that nature created a man whose intellect and genius are in their receptiveness, range, grasp and versatility almost as miraculous as the suspension of natural laws. Also Baconians are vain and ignorant, given to impudent fictions, and prodigiously ignorant of the rudiments of the literature. When offered the book of that great scholar, Dr. R. M. Theobald, Collins declined the gift because this whole subject is so distasteful and repulsive to him that it would be a kindness not to send it to him.
These exponents of truth adopt the process of the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. (Psa. lviii. 4, 5.)
Then, for a specimen of the way in which the Life is made up, take Frank Harriss last, which is fantastic from cover to cover except that he unconsciously does draw a most remarkably accurate portrait of the mind and characteristics-including the weaknesses-of Francis Bacon, calling him Shakespeare.
There is not the slightest degree of probability that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the greatest literature in the world, and there is not one scrap of evidence that he ever claimed to have done so. He died absolutely unnoticed. Not a poem nor elegy was written about him who must have enjoyed boundless honours with troops of friends, had he been regarded as the great Poet and Dramatist and intimate with the Earls of Pembroke, Montgomery and Southampton. It was the fashion to write such elegies for every man who had made any literary mark. Thirty-two such panegyrics written at Bacons death are familiar to students.
Now contrast Shakspere of Stratfords career with that of Francis Bacon. He was born in 1561, the son of Sir Nicolas Bacon, the Lord Treasurer. His mother was one of the most learned women of her day. She read Greek fluently, and her translations are said to be faultless. She
had a very strong character, Calvinistic and puritanical. Cecil, Lord Burleigh, was Franciss uncle, and had the power to confer appointments in the public service. Burleighs letters exist wherein he deprecates a waste of time over sonnets, plays and such frivolities. From his earliest childhood Francis was a marvel of precocity. When ten years old Queen Elizabeth noticed him and called him her young Lord Keeper. At twelve he went to Cambridge, and at fourteen he asked to leave, as he had learned all they could teach him. It was his experience of the barrenness of the scholarship of that age which gave the first impulse to his new philosophy. He wrote at the time: Our method of study must be wrong; might not a better be found? Spedding, his biographer, says,
In him the gift of seeing a prophetic vision of what might be was united with the practical talent of devising means. He could at once imagine like a poet and execute like a clerk of the works.
In 1576 Francis and Anthony are enrolled as students in Grays Inn. Francis then fifteen. In 1577 Francis went in the suite of Sir Amyas Paulet, British Ambassador to the Court of France. Being a well-grounded linguist from childhood he could speak French, Italian and Spanish. He is sent on a confidential mission by Paulet to Elizabeth and returns to France. He travels with the Court through the Provinces which are the scenes of 1st Henry VI. It is recorded that his conversation at this time excited the wonder of all who heard him, and there is a contemporary miniature by Hilliard around which was written in Latin, If one could only paint his mind! In 1579 he is still residing in France, settling mainly at Poitiers, but travelling to various European Courts to gather information about the characters and resources of their Rulers.
In February that year his father suddenly died, and through the non-signature of a Will no provision was made for Francis, the youngest son. For several following years Francis does his utmost to live independently of the Law, and seeks a Government appointment. The Cecils refused it, and prevented his obtaining it from other quarters, spreading reports that he was a vain speculator, unfit for real business. Their hostility never ceased, and it was not until the death of Burleigh in 1613 that he could obtain advancement to the office of Attorney-General. The jealousy of the Cecils was due to Burleighs desiring that his own son should have the preference-for which he was unfit, and the acknowledged
phenomenal abilities of Bacon. In Hamlet Bacon is believed to have revenged himself by the character of Polonius, which caricatures Burleigh. Francis was therefore forced-in his own words-against the bent of his genius to the law as a means of livelihood, and he resides at Gorhambury, St. Albans-the scene of the second Henry VI.
In 1581 he begins to keep terms in Grays Inn.
In 1582 he is called to the Bar. As nothing is recorded of him except that he was engaged in studies, it is believe that at this period he sketched several of the Plays. There is evidence that a play Hamlet was acted at Cambridge in 1585. If that was the play we know, and of which (parenthetically) John Bright said that anyone who believed Shakspere, of Stratford, wrote Hamlet or Lear is a fool, it is certain that Shakspere did not write it, for he could hardly have arrived in London. The very earliest date is some time in that year.
Anthony Bacon had been abroad since 1579, and did not return until late in 1592, but the brothers constantly corresponded, and Anthony acted informally as purveyor of diplomatic information to the Foreign Office, for something like a period of eleven years.
In 1584 Francis wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth full of remarkable advice, which she received graciously. His studies and occupations bring him no income, and he falls into debt.
In 1586 he is made a Bencher of his Inn, but remains in such seclusion that it is invidiously commented on. This is the time when The Taming of the Shrew, the Two Gentlemen of Verona and Loves Labours Lost are first heard of, but the first very incomplete.
In 1587 Francis helps to get up an anonymous Play, The Tragedy of Arthur. He also assists in masques to be performed before the Queen.
In 1588 he enters Parliament-for Liverpool. Still a briefless barrister with any amount of free time.
From 1579, when he returned from France at the age of 19, practically nothing appears from him until 1597, when he published his first volume of the Essays. Could so teeming a mind have produced nothing in these eighteen of the best years of his life?
At the end of 1591 he writes an extraordinary letter to Lord Burleigh, which I will read from Mrs. Potts book.
I wax now somewhat ancient; one-and-thirty years is a great deal of sand in a mans hour glass. My health, I thank God, I find confirmed; and I do not fear that action shall impair it, because I account my ordinary course of study and meditation to be more painful than most parts of action are. I ever bare a mind (in some middle place that I could discharge) to serve her Majesty; not as a man born under Sol, that loveth honour; nor under Jupiter, that loveth business (for the contemplative planet carreith me away wholly), but as a man born under an excellent Sovereign, that deserveth the dedication of every mans abilities. . . . Again, the meanness of my estate doth somewhat move me: for though I cannot accuse myself that I am either prodigal or slothful, yet my health is not to spend, nor my course to get. Lastly, I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends as I have moderate civil ends: for I have taken all knowledge to be my province. . . . This, whether it be curiosity or vain glory, or, if one take it favourably, philanthropia, is so fixed in my mind that it cannot be removed. And I do easily see that place of any reasonable countenance doth bring commandment of more wits than his own; which is the thing I greatly affect. . . . And if your Lordship will not carry me on . . . . this I will do: I will sell the inheritance that I have, and purchase some lease or quick revenue, or some office of gain that shall be executed by deputy, and so give over all care of service, and become some sorry bookmaker, or a true pioneer in that mine of truth which (Anaxagoras said) lay so deep.
Bacon divides his vacation between his mothers house at Gorhambury and Twickenham, where the Queen visits him, and where, on such an occasion, he records that he presents her Majesty with a sonnet-for she loves to be wooed and to have sonnets writ in her honour.
In this connection, too, I may fittingly read a letter written by Bacon to Sir Thomas Bodley in 1606, in which, although he had then been for some years employed in state business, he acknowledges himself unfit for it, and liable to many errors from the pre-occupation of his mind.
I think no man may more truly say with the psalm, Multum incola fuit anima mea, than myself. For I do confess since I have been of any understanding, my mind hath in effect been absent from that I have done; and in absence are many errors which I do willingly acknowledge; and amongst the rest, this great one that led the rest: that, knowing myself by inward calling to be fitter to hold a book than to play a part, I have led my life in civil causes; for which I was not very fit by nature, and more unfit by the pre-occupation of my mind. Therefore, calling myself home, I have now for a time enjoyed myself, whereof likewise I desire to make the world partaker.
The sonnets of SHAKE-SPEARE are supposed to have been composed about this time, although they were first published in 1609. Besides the Two Gentlemen of Verona, other comedies at this time reflect special local knowledge which might have come from Anthony in Italy. In 1592 Franciss intimacy with Essex culminated. Anthony returns, and the brothers live together in chambers at Grays Inn. They become secretaries to Essex, although he never paid them, but eventually Essex influenced the gift of a strip of land at Twickenham to Francis. Francis becomes desperately hard up and is found borrowing such small sums as £1. Later he is thrown into a sponging house by a Jew money-lender. Anthony mortgages his property and raises money from friends and pays the debt. The Merchant of Venice, with its Shylock and Antonio, appears soon after.
In 1592-3 Francis composes a deice or play, A Conference of Pleasure. This was found in the Northumberland cover. One of the speeches in this play closely resembles Cranmers speech in Henry VIII., as well as certain of the sonnets.
Venus and Adonis is published with a dedication signed Shake-speare to Franciss young and intimate friend, the Earl of Southampton. It is described in this dedication as the first heir of my invention, although ten plays had been composed between 1589-1593.
Venus and Adonis could not have been published without a special license owing to what might be deemed its licentious character. If Shakspere wrote it the difficulty of obtaining the license would have been insuperable. But it was enrolled on the Stationers Register under the special authority of Archbishop Whitgift, who had been Bacons tutor at Trinity, Cambridge, and was always his friend. Whitgift was otherwise extremely severe in regard to questionable books and closed the Register against Halls
Satires, Marlowes Ovid and several other books of the same class.
(I have not previously alluded to the almost inconceivable possibility of a common player being on such terms as to dare to dedicate his writings to a great nobleman. There is not a scrap of evidence that Shakspere of Stratford had any acquaintance with Lord Southampton. The most rabid Stratfordian cannot even invent any.)
In 1595 the plague broke out in London, and Bacon retreats to Twickenham with some congenial friends. There he employed a band of scriveners, or writers, pretty constantly, and a letter exists in which he asks for some good pens (writers), as he has work for them.
Now we come to one of the most astonishing of all the indications of authorship. In the British Museum is to be seen (I have spent an hour or two over it) a MS. of Bacons called The Promus of Formularies and Elegancies, dated December 5th, 1594. This is Bacons private note-book, in which he jotted down a number of phrases and turns of speech which seem to have struck or occurred to him over a term of four years. Mrs. Pott undertook the tremendous labour when she deciphered these, for the spelling and the several languages constitute some difficulty, and gave the result of these labours in her delightfully convincing work, Bacons Promus. In this book she traces some 3,000 quotations from this private note-book of Bacons in the plays of Shakespeare. Most of these expressions had never appeared in literature before. Bacon made no use of them in his known writings, but there they are in the Plays. No supporter of Stratford William has ever condescended to try to give an explanation of this colossal coincidence. There are only two possible alternatives: either Shakspere borrowed Bacons note-book or Bacon wrote Shakespeare, and all obtainable evidence supports the latter conclusion.
But, besides the Promus, some of the essays are but kernels of the Plays. In that of Wisdom for a Mans Self we have be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others. In Shakespeare (Hamlet i. 3) it runs-
To thine own self be true;
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
But there are hundreds of such parallelisms in the Promus.
But there is not time to go completely through Bacons career and fit the dates of his occupations to the dates of the
Shakespeare publications. It would take a week rather than an hour. There are innumerable indications, some of them intrinsically trifling, and yet any one of them practically setting up the authorship. As an example, one of the plays refers to a ferry near Pisa. Ages ago the canal was filled up, but no one could have known of so small a matter who had not happened to travel there at the time.
In some cases the very minuteness of the fact furnishes conclusive argument. A curious literary instance is in Henry VI. i. 6:-
Thy promises are like Adonis gardens
That one day bloomed and fruitful were the next.
All commentators for three hundred years were puzzled by this, but it has recently been found in Platos Phdrus, a work which had not been translated in Shaksperes time.
And next we come to the broad fact which also cannot be explained except by Bacons authorship. The Shakespeare we all of us know is the 36 Plays contained in the First Folio. That was published in 1623. It professes to be a collection of Shakespeares Plays made by Hemminge and Condell, two fellow actors. Shakspere had been dead seven years. Hemminge and Condell sign a Preface, but it is not disputed by Stratfordians that this Preface was written by Ben Jonson. Ben Jonson also wrote the sarcastic verse facing the alleged portrait of the Stratford man, which certainly does not enhance ones ideas of his mentality. Jonson very significantly says, Look not upon his picture but his booke! About 1620 Bacon requested Jonson to go and reside with him at Gorhambury, and assist him in turning into Latin those scientific works, the Novum Organum and the De Augmentis Scientiarum, &c., upon which alone Bacon cared to rest his fame.
He decided that Latin was the vehicle which would most securely convey his wisdom to posterity.
The known incidents and experiences of Bacons life do largely correspond with the dates of the production of the Plays. Thus, Bacons mother began to show symptoms of insanity in 1600, and from that date to her death in 1610, nothing is known of her except for one remark of Bishop Goodmans at the Court of James, Bacons mother was little better than frantic in her age. About this period, the Plays began to assume a melancholy tone, and Lear deals with the phenomena of madness, as does also the re-written
Hamlet. But it was the time when Shakspere had finally acquired wealth, bought New Place, and was extremely prosperous, as he remained to the end of his life.
Dr. Crichton Browne recently furnished a characteristic specimen of the effect of a popular belief, when, in a speech as Chairman of a dinner at a Club to celebrate Shaksperes birth, he remarked, All our modern discoveries in brain functions give proof of the fidelity of Shakespeares etchings of madness. No doubt the poet made observation of the demented beings that crossed his path, and gathered in with precision all kinds of impressions.
Bacon unavoidably had to study those conditions in his mother during a period of eight or nine years. But Dr. Browne prefers to imagine a crowd of demented beings as haunting his Stratford puppet, to account for his special knowledge on this subject.
So it is with all of the Stratfordian shrine makers. Shakspere doubtless was a lawyers clerk, to account for his knowledge of Law. He was doubtless a Schoolmaster for awhile, to account for his classical learning. They invent as they go along. Messrs. Lee, Collins & Co. have a mortal objection to the inductive method. Franciss fame is smothered by the very process he came into the world to destroy. Those who are now foremost in the files of Time, and who have no axe to grind, have abandoned it. There is no extremity of absurdity or wild imagining to which the Shakespearean scholar, as exemplified by Sidney Lee, will not resort to back up their fetish. Collinss statement that he was certainly able to read Greek, is the only useful contribution made by him to the cause of truth, for it renders the Stratford claim preposterous.
Bacons life may largely be traced from the Sonnets, but the idea that these exquisite and courtly compositions relate to an obscure rustic then dealing in drysalteries and lending petty sums in his native town is irrational. The aristocratic tone, the contempt for the masses, and the opprobrious expressions applied to them as the mutable rank scented many, the intimate knowledge of Court life, the evidence that they emanate not merely from an accomplished scholar but a highly born gentleman, found throughout the Shakespeare literature, are alone sufficient to demolish the Stratfordian basis.
What is the argument of the Stratfordians? One word-
GENIUS. Then they mention Robert Burns. It is childish. Burns was a genius, but he only worked with the materials-dialect and personal experiences-in his own sphere. Genius cannot give technical knowledge. Since the Day of Pentecost it has not gifted illiterate persons with the power of speaking languages of which they had never before heard.
A very amusing suggestion is made by Professor A. R. Wallace when the knowledge of Court life and manners revealed in the Plays is quoted as militating against the Stratfordian authorship. Professor Wallace says,
transcendent genius is sufficient to remove all such difficulties. Shakspere lived near the lordly castles of Warwick and Kenilworth, and at times of festivity such castles would be accessible through the friendship of servants or retainers; thus it may be that Shakspere acquired some portion of that knowledge of the manners and speech of nobles and kings which appears in the Plays.
Again the zeal of the Stratfordians outstrips discretion. Even genius then needed the educational aid of the keyhole and back stairs! Mr. George Hookham well says, I cannot think that people realise to what a level it is necessary to degrade the first of poets before he can be identified with Shakspere of Stratford.
One sees how naturally Bacon, who had fallen, was poor and his career ended, would look round and be willing that a collection of his unacknowledged works should be made so that there should be in existence apart by themselves, only that for which he was really responsible. This involved a winnowing process. So we find that twelve Plays which had up to then borne the fashionable and marketable name of Shakespeare are not put in that collection. The fact that the name was used for spurious plays without fear of interference gives much support to the idea that it was only a nom de plume. But eight Plays appear in the First Folio which had never been heard before, and ten others had never previously been published. Amongst them are such masterpieces as Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Cæsar and Othello. Othello was first published in 1622 (Shakspere dead six years), and then altered in the Folio, 1623. Hamlet appears re-written with many hundreds of new lines. Almost all the Plays previously known were revised. Who did this work? Who could have done it except Bacon by the hand of Jonson? Jonson, of course, knew all about the great secret, and soon after his arrival at
Gorhambury in 1620 we find a total reversal of all that he had previously said about Shakespeare.
Instead of Poet-Ape and thief of the reversion of old plays, etc., he is apostrophised as Soul of the Age, etc. Yes, but whom was he apostrophising? Obviously, the person who figured as Shakespeare. He says of Shakespeare that he had equalled all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome sent forth. Ten years later he publishes a book of reminiscences of all the great men he had known, and then he applies these exact words to Bacon. He says of Bacons work that they are preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. This is not a coincidence-it is an express declaration. And in that same list of great men Shakespeares name is not mentioned, but Bacon stands first. He calls Bacon the mark and acme of our language. But time does not permit me to work out the connection between Bacon and Jonson and the apparent contradictions between Jonsons earlier and later utterances. The more it is looked into the clearer the reasons become.
It will be asked, Why did not Bacon own the authorship? I have already given very strong indications in connection with the Cecils hostility. His enforced ambition for the Chancellorship-the woolsack-the hatred of his mother for associations with the theatre (her almost agonised letters on this subject exist)-the evil name attaching to a class known as rogues and vagabonds and liable to heavy penalties unless enlisted in the service of important personages or functionaries, such as the Lord Chamberlain-are quite sufficient to account for it. When he had lost his position he was still less willing to be identified with these works of his recreation, for he actually uses this expression when writing to his closest friend, Sir Tobie Matthew, to whom he was in the habit of submitting most of his productions. There are no such works except they be the Shakespeare literature.
One enormously strong argument in my judgment, is that Bacon never once mentions Shakspere. But Bacon wrote ardently in favour of the stage as an educative medium, and deplored its degradation and that there were no dramatists capable of rising to its opportunities. He writes: Dramatic poesy is history made visible . . . . typical history . . . . narrative or heroical poesy . . . . truly noble, and has a special relation to the dignity of human nature; dramatic poesy, which has the theatre for its world, would be of excellent use if well directed, etc.
It is inconceivable that when the star of Shakespeare, the greatest poetic dramatist of all time, arose, Bacon should not have thought it worth even a reference!
Yet that there was a knowledge of the name is proved by the fact that eight times on the Northumberland cover the name of William Shakespeare is scribbled wholly or partially!
Amongst the many things on the Northumberland cover occurs the word HONORIFICABILITUDINO. In Loves Labours Lost Costard says, thou art not so long by the head as HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS. The latter is an anagram of the Latin sentence, Hi ludi tuiti sibi Fr. Bacono nati (these plays, entrusted to themselves, proceeded from Fr. Bacon). The word as abbreviated on the cover exactly contains the sentence, Initio hi ludi Fr. Bacono (in the beginning these plays from Francis Bacon).
Bacon says in one of his Essays (XLVII.):-In choice of instruments it is better to choose men of a plainer sort . . . Use also such persons as affect the business wherein they are employed, for that quickeneth much. This is a sufficient answer to the Stratfordian objection that such a prodigious author-genius as Bacon would not have used so ignorant a person as Shakspere for his counterfeit representative.
Bacon, writing to his friend, Dr. Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, regarding his Essays, says:-But I account the use that a man should seek of the publishing of his own writings before his death to be but an untimely anticipation of that which is proper to follow a man, and not go along with him. Whoever else among great and ambitious men held this strange doctrine of literary reserve?
The Shakespeare literature added many thousands of words to the English language. It is said that Milton only used 7,000 words. At the age of 34 Bacon appeared for the first time, pleading in the Kings Bench. We know the impression he made, for a young lawyer of Grays Inn, who was present, wrote an account to Anthony Bacon. This letter says that a marked feature of the new pleader was the unusual words wherewith he had spangled his speech. Some sentences were almost too obscure for the capacity of his hearer, and the young lawyer ends his letter facetiously by remarking that if it please Her Majesty to add deeds to words that Bacon may be too hard for the Cook.
Here Bacon exhibits in his own person the enormous
vocabulary and unique words which distinguish the Plays. Many were never used before or have been since, but all are invented in a strictly scholastic manner.
Harold Bayley, in his Shakespeare Symphony, p. 209, gives a list of the new words by which various authors have enriched the English language. Bacon figures for 1,850 words, Shakespeare for 9,450!
Notwithstanding all his care to conceal his personality as the author of the Plays, Bacon unconsciously reveals himself by certain tricks of speech, and especially by a triform construction of sentences-such, for example, as:-
SHAKESPEARE. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
BACON. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
In the Device of Philautia occurs the following prose passage:-Use the advantage of your youth; be not sullen to your fortune; make your pleasure the distinction of your honour, the study of your favourites, the talk of your people, and the allurement of all foreign gallants to your Court. In a word, sweet Sovereign [cf. Cymbeline I. i., Sweet Sovereign, leave us to ourselves], dismiss your counsellors and only take counsel of your five senses.
For in few words, what is your strength if you find it not? Your fortune, if you try it not? Your virtue, if you show it not?
This, recollect, is from an admitted Play written by Bacon. Could any one tell it from Shakespeare? Is it not conclusive that when Bacon becomes dramatic he becomes Shakespearean? I would refer readers to the whole of Mr. George Hookhams article in the National Review of September, 1909. It is hard to believe that any one of impartial mind and moderate intelligence, really desirous that Truth should prevail, ruthless of consequences, could resist its conclusions, which effectually dispose of the desperate clutching at a straw of the drowning Stratfordians when they assert that Bacons prose style proves that he could not write plays and poems equal to anything in Shakespeare. Bacon wrote his Antitheses when he was very young. They were first published in 1605. We find there the
following:-The rising to honour is laborious, the standing slippery, the fall headlong. These expressions are used in Troilus and Cressida, played at the Globe in 1600; and they appear in Henry VIII.
In the De Augmentis Bacon says, Writings should be such as should make men in love with the lessons and not with the teachers. To speak the truth of myself I have often wittingly and willingly neglected the glory of my own name, both in the works I now publish and in those I contrive for hereafter, whilst I study to advance the good and profit of mankind.
And there is also the celebrated expression, I have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men.
One of the most obvious absurdities of the Stratford defenders is that they all regard Bacon as having always been an old man, and judge his style (but he had many styles and always adapted each to the particular class of subject) from his grave philosophical writings towards the close of his life. But as a young man he was one of the most vivacious and sensuous who ever lived. This latter is an aspect of his character which cannot be dealt with in open court, but is well known to students. He would have thoroughly enjoyed writings Venus and Adonis.
One of the first arguments of the Stratfordians is that Bacon could not have written poetry. With a doubtless and a could not you can settle anything!
Macaulay says the poetic faculty was powerful in Bacons mind.
Bulwer Lytton says of the De Augmentis that poetry pervaded the thoughts, inspired the similes, and hymned in the majestic sentences of the wisest of mankind. This is pretty well for a writer whom the critics and the man in the street always dismiss as essentially prosy.
Shelley regarded Bacon as a great poet. Of the thirty-two Elegies published at Bacons death twenty-seven speak of him as a transcendent poet. He is apostrophised as The Morning Star of the Muses, The Tenth Muse and the glory of the Muses Choir, Phbus feared that Bacon should be king among the Muses. He is described as a Muse more choice than the Nine, and as Apollo the Master of our Choir.
In a letter asking a friend to procure him a favour from King James Bacon speaks of himself as a concealed poet. The evidence that Francis was a poet is overwhelming, and only people ignorant of the subject believe the contrary.
Sir Tobie Matthew writes of Francis: of incomparable abilities of mind, of a sharp and cutting apprehension, large and fruitful memory, plentiful and sprouting invention, deep and solid judgment, a man so rare in knowledge of so many several kinds, endued with the facility and felicity of expressing it all in so elegant, significant, so abundant and yet so choice and ravishing a way of words, of metaphor, and allusion as perhaps the world hath not seen since it was a world.
His conversation is described as such that all that heard him had only one fear-that he would make an end.
Sir Tobie Matthew also in a letter dated April 9th, 1623, adds this startling postscript, the most prodigious wit that ever I knew of my nation and of this side of the sea is of your Lordships name, though he be known by another.
Bacon writes to Matthew about 1622, in which he says, referring to some past transaction, that his memory may be at fault, my head being then wholly employed about invention. The word invention was then a term of art appropriated to Poetry and the Drama. Bacon remarks in his Cogitata et Visa that the art of inventing grows by invention itself.
Bacons Chaplain, Dr. Rawley, wrote a short life, and says of him, that abilities which commonly go singly in other men in him were conjoined-sharpness of wit, memory, judgment and elocution, together with extraordinary celerity in writing, facility in inventing, and caution in venting the imagination or fancy of his brain.
Ben Jonson writes of Bacon,
I have and do reverence him for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever by his work, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration that had been in many ages.
Mrs. Pott remarks in her book, Did Francis Bacon write Shakespeare, The admiring warmth with which Shakespeare scholars have justly extolled the character of their ideal author is precisely that which creeps over and possesses the soul of the earnest disciple of the myriad minded Francis Bacon. Goodness as well as greatness is impressed upon his writings.
The Plays reveal such knowledge of law that the profoundest lawyers say that the author must have been a lawyer. Through all the writings it seems as if he could not get away from legal forms and allusions, some of them of the most abstruse character.
The knowledge of navigation and the management of a vessel in difficulties, as shown in The Tempest, is precisely the right thing and such as an able captain would put in practice.
In 1610 Bacon was a fellow member with the Earls of Southampton, Pembroke and Montgomery in the Virginia Company which sent a fleet to the West Indies. The fleet encountered tremendous storms, and the ship Admiral was wrecked on the Bermudas. In 1611 we have the expression in the Tempest, the still vexed Bermoöthes. It is highly improbable that Shakspere ever saw the sea.
The fact that any of the Plays were published anonymously is much more remarkable if Shakspere wrote them than if Bacon were the author. There is no conceivable reason for Shakspere adopting anonymity. All the other way. He wanted to make his fortune and his fame. All that we know of Shakspere has no relation to his authorship, and it is also practically fatal to it. Is there any positive proof that Shakspere could write at all? His signatures hardly prove it, because a page of such calligraphy is well-nigh inconceivable.
Bacon fell in 1620. From that date to his death he was engaged in hurrying to publication all his acknowledged writings. The De Augmentis, Natural History, History of the Winds, New Atlantis, Apophthegms, Third Edition of the Essays, with a great increase in their number, and especially that on Friendship, dedicated to Tobie Matthew, &c.
His Will seems to indicate the existence of MSS. and unfinished writings, and it contains the following sentences:-
For my name and memory I leave it to mens charitable speeches and to Foreign Nations, and the next ages; and to mine own Countrymen after some time be past.
This was indeed prophetic, for it is foreign people who were the first and most eager to examine the merits of this claim I am now endeavouring to substantiate and to rehabilitate his name. Granted there are difficulties in proving the Baconian authorship of Shakespeare. They are inappreciable
compared with those of the attribution to the Stratford actor. Otherwise, we have to assume that the greatest genius of mankind after attaining the deepest and widest culture, and living for 20 years in the highest society of his country, gave all up and retreated to a foul tenth-rate provincial town, occupied himself in pettifogging pecuniary transactions and retail trade-led, in fact, for years the life of a small tradesman-never wrote another line, and left not a book not a scrap of correspondence, nor a literary wrack behind him.
There is no rational explanation possible of the nonexistence of any auto-biographical evidence of a person so much in the eye of the world as Shakspere would have been were he the friend of the greatest noblemen of his time, in a position to be a lover of a Lady at Court, as the Sydney Lees of that ilk suggest from the Sonnets, and the Author of Shakespeare. Truly Shakspere, of Stratford, as Shakespeare the sublime Immortal, is the baseless fabric of a vision.
THE CHAIRMAN suggested that owing to the intense importance of the recent valuable discoveries made by that indefatigable Baconian worker, Mrs. Chambers Bunten, at the British Museum of the original passports granted to Anthony Bacon by Marshal Biron in 1586, it would be most instructive and delightful if Mrs. Bunten would kindly narrate her discoveries-absolutely the most made from a Baconian point of view for some considerable period.
MRS. CHAMBERS BUNTEN, who was received with enthusiasm on rising to address the meeting, said:-
I am convinced that Anthony Bacon and his brother Francis had much to do with writing Loves Labours Lost, which was produced on the stage in England the year Anthony returned from the Continent to London, 1592-3. Anthony had spent four or five years, off and on, in the Navarre Court, and become quite intimate with Henry IV. In fact, there is a hint in a letter that he held the office of chamberlain to his Majesty at one time, and it seems by the MS. letters, in French, to Anthony Bacon in the British Museum, that various sums of money were paid to him while in the Navarre Court.
But it is difficult to judge if these sums were borrowed, or were the payments for information of secrets connected with politics.
One of the most interesting letters is an original in the Kings bold hand to Anthony Bacon. Among other documents to be seen are various passports for Anthony Bacon, and one is signed by Biron, marshal of the Navarre army; another by Du Mayne; another by De Boyresse. It may be remembered that the plot of Loves Labours Lost has the King of Navarre as hero, and that the principal characters are called Biron (spelt differently in the first printed edition), Longaville, Dumaine and Boyet. These names belonged to officers and courtiers who were prominent in the Navarre Court between 1581 and 1590, and whom Anthony Bacon must have been very intimate with. He therefore used their names in Loves Labours Lost, and the Princess of France is, of course, Marguerite, who became Henry de Bourbons wife, and mounted the united throne of France with him in 1589. There is strong likelihood that Holofernes in the play is a skit on Anthonys Italian schoolmaster Florio, who was a teacher of languages in England, and translated Montagues essays into our language.
The name Armado resembles the celebrated Armada which Spain had sent in 1588 to conquer England.
We see that Anthony Bacon had all knowledge of the etiquette of the Navarre Court, which William Shakspere of Stratford could not have acquired.
One more point may be mentioned:
In Act I., Scene II., line 52, of the above play occur the words: the dancing horse will tell you.
This is evidently an allusion to Banks performing horse which was called Morocco, and which did extraordinary tricks, and answered questions by means of letters.
It was first exhibited in 1589, and there is still extant a broadsheet ballad, with a picture of the horse dancing, as it performed at the Belle Sauvage Inn on Ludgate Hill, London, at that date.
The following is a copy of the passport signed Biron, translated into English, where Anthony Bacon is called by his French title, Le Sieur de Baccon:-
4125 fo. 7.
Lieutenant General for the King in his army of
Poitou, Aunis, Saintonge and Angoumois.
To all governors, captains, chiefs, and leaders of men-at-arms, both calvary and infantry, mayors, sheriffs, consuls, jurats of towns, and keepers of the gates thereof, provosts, judges, and their deputies, wardens of ports, bridges, tolls, passes, jurisdictions, and districts, and to all those whom it may concern.
We pray those who are to be prayed, to order and command those over whom our authority and power extend, to let pass freely and securely through your districts and jurisdictions Le Sieur de Baccon (Mr. Bacon), who is going to England with his men, servants, arms, and horses, without causing or suffering any to cause him any trouble, obstacle, or hindrance, but rather showing him favour, and help if need should be. Given at the camp at Sanjou, the 27th September, 1586.
by my Lord Marshall
Pass from the King of France
for Mr. Anto. Bacon.
A short discussion followed and the proceedings terminated with hearty votes of thanks to Mr. Crouch Batchelor for his delightful address and to Mr. Spong for presiding.
The following Books have been consulted in compiling this Lecture:-
Did Francis Bacon Write Shakespeare? Mrs. Henry Pott. (Robt. Banks & Son.)
The Mystery of William Shakespeare. Judge Webb. (Longmans, Green & Co.)
The Bacon-Shakespeare Controversy. Lord Penzance. (Sampson, Low & Co.)
Bacon v. Shakspere. Edwin Reed. (Service & Paton.)
Is it Shakespeare? A Cambridge Graduate. Rev. S. Begley. (John Murray.)
The Tragedy of Sir Francis Bacon. Harold Bayley. (Grant Richards.)
The Shakespeare Symphony. Harold Bayley. (Chapman and Hall.)
A Baconian Summary. Edward Harding. (Robt. Banks and Son.)
The Bacon-Shakespeare Problem. M. W. Strang. (Robt. Banks & Son.)
Three Articles in the National Review. (January, February, September, 1909.) By George Hookham.
The Shakespeare Problem Re-stated. George Greenwood, M.P. (John Lane.)
In re Shakespeare. Beeching v. Greenwood. Rejoinder to Canon Beeching. George Greenwood, M.P. (John Lane.)
Francis Bacon and His Secret Society. Mrs. Henry Pott. (Francis J. Schulte & Co., Chicago, 1891.)
Bacons Promus. Mrs. Henry Pott. (Longmans, Green and Co.)
The Cambridge Shakespeare. 9 vols. Aldis Wright and W. G. Clark. (Macmillan & Co.)