"THE STORY OF THE LEARNED PIG"
By an Officer of the Royal Navy. (London, 1786).

excerpt from American Baconiana February 1923

pp57-62

commentary by

W. H. PRESCOTT. 

 

Some weeks ago a book with the above title came into my hands, and I thought that the Bacon Society of America might like to know something about it, as it helps to answer the query often made, as to when the question about the Baconian authorship of certain famous works of English Literature first arose. Some readers will undoubtedly remember the book called "Common Sense," that caused some excitement a few years ago, in which it was said that Shakespeare stole his plays from Wisdom, identified as Francis Bacon by his notebook (the so-called "Promus," or storehouse, a collection of "Fourmes, Formularies and Elegancies," made by Bacon, and often drawn upon for his literary compositions,--now preserved in the original MS. at the British Museum. For a reprint see Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence's "Bacon is Shakespeare").

This little book refers to the matter in a somewhat different way. A photographic reproduction of its amusing frontispiece is here presented, (Fig. VI). The book tells the story of the many re-incarnations which The Learned Pig can remember, and at the beginning says that his first recollection is, when he was Romulus.

On page 37 we read the following:

"I soon after contracted a friendship with that great man and first of geniuses, the "Immortal Shakespeare," and am happy in now having it in my power to refute the prevailing opinion of his having run his country for deer-stealing, which is as false as it is disgracing. The fact is, Sir, that he had contracted an intimacy with the wife of a country justice near Stratford, from his having extolled her beauty in a common ballad; and was unfortunately, by his worship himself, detected in a very awkward situation with her. Shakespeare, to avoid the consequences of this discovery, thought it most prudent to decamp. This I had from his mouth."

The concluding words of this dear-stealing story are found on page 38, and this page as well as page 39 are likewise here reproduced in photographic fac-simile (Figs. VII and VIII) on account of their particular documentary interest, not so much as showing, who the author of the Shakespeare plays really was, but as bringing to public notice the fact that in the 18th century there was already a Baconian question.

I think The Learned Pig's first remembrance being, when he was Romulus, is even more interesting. In Baconiana (the publication of the Bacon Society of England) Vol. IV, new series, July 1898, page 110, there is an article headed "RESURRECTIO DIVI QUIRINI FRANCISCI BACONI" etc., On the next page there is a reproduction of forty distichs in Latin, entitled "IN OBITUM INCOMPARABILIS FRANCISCO DE VERULAMIO." They are all highly instructive, and correspondingly important; but I wish to call your special attention to only one,--the 17th:

"Crescere Pegaseas docuit, velut hasta Quirini
Crevit, et exiguo tempore Laurus erat."

The translation as given is: "He taught them to grow, as the shaft of Quirinus once grew to a bay-tree."

Whether or not this translation is absolutely correct is not material to the point I wish to make, which is that the word "Quirinus" in its etymological meaning is THE SPEAR SHAKER or SHAKESPEARE! Quirinus was also the nickname of Romulus, because he cast or threw a spear into the Quirinal. Thus we have a second reference to The Learned Pig being Shakespeare; for he says he was Romulus,--Romulus was Quirinus,--and Quirinus was Shakespeare!

This curious work was published anonymously; but we must not overlook to consider that it is signed TRANSMIGRATUS, and that by simple so-called Gematria, that is Alphabetic Number-sum, those letters total 171, thus:* (See p. 63).

T R A N S M I G R A T U S

19 17 1 13 18 12 9 7 17 1 19 20 18--171

This is likewise the Alphabetic Number-sum by the similar Kay-cipher count, (that cipher-method being one of those especially enumerated by Francis Bacon in his chapter on Secret Writing in the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, 1640, Book VI, page 264) for FRANCIS,--thus:

F R A N C I S

32 17 27 13 29 36 18--171

***