VI.

 

DISILLUSION, A GAIN

 

Here , then, is our "Shake-speare." A man born into the highest culture of his time, the consummate flower of a long line of distinguished ancestry; of transcendent abilities, dominated by a genius for hard work; of aims in life at once the boldest and the most inspiring which the heart of man ever conceived; in originality and power of thought, in learning, in eloquence, in wit, and in marvellous insight into character, the acknowledged peer of the greatest of the human race. "Surely," says Holmes, "we may exclaim with Coleridge, not without amazement still, 'Merciful, wonder-making Heaven! what a man was this Shakespeare! Myriad-minded, indeed, he was!'"

Ours is an age of disillusion. Heroes whose names have kindled the flame of devotion to duty in the hearts of millions are fading into myths. The majestic form of William Tell is found to be but a lengthened shadow thrown across the page of history. Even the faithful dog Gelert, over whose fate so many children have shed tears, has become as purely symbolic as the one that followed Yudhishthira to the holy mount, and was thence, for his virtues, translated into heaven. Why should the world longer worship at the shrine of a man of whose life it knows, almost literally, in a mass of disgusting fiction, but one significant fact, viz., that in his will, disposing of a large property, he left to the wife of his youth and the mother of his children nothing but his "second-best bed"!

The conclusion of the whole matter may be stated thus:--

The Sonnets will lose none of their sweetness, and the Plays none of their magnificence, by a change in the ascription of authorship. The world, however, will gain much. It will learn that effects are always commensurate with their causes, and that industry is the path to greatness.

Return to Table of Contents
 

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

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LIST OF AUTHORS CONSULTED.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS