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Full text of "Delia Bacon : a biographical sketch"

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Microsoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/deliabaconbiograOObacouoft 




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DELIA BACON *' 




zgyfa 






A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 






u What a wounded name, 
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me ! 
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, 
Absent thee from felicity awhile, 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, 
To tell my story." 





BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

<$te lltuereiDc pres'rf, Cambri&oe 
1888 




Copyright, 1888, 
Bi THEODORE BACON. 

All rights reserved. 







1%4 Rirertidi Prtts, Cambridge : 
Klectrotyped and Printed by II. 0. Houghton & Co. 



AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT. 



The letters written by the subject of this vol- 
ume to Nathaniel Hawthorne were, at the cost of 
diligent search, found by his daughter, Mrs. Rose 
Hawthorne Lathrop, carefully preserved among 
his papers, and were entrusted to me for the use 
which has now been made of them. The over- 
sight by which this helpful service failed to be 
mentioned in a marginal note in the body of the 
book is the less regretted that it has given occa- 
sion for this more conspicuous acknowledgment, 
that Hawthorne's patient kindness to one who 
received so much from him was not exhausted in 
his lifetime, but passed by inheritance to the gen- 
eration that follows him. 

THEODORE BACON. 

Rochester, N. Y., 

November 17. 1888. 



CONTENTS. 



■MB 

An Acknowledgment iii 

An Apology for this Book vii 

I. Parentage and Birth 1 

IL Babyhood and Childhood ; The School, and 

the Beginning of the Long Warfare . 9 

III. Early Essays in Letters 18 

IV. The Instruction of Women .... 23 
V. A Sorrow that left its Shadow ... 32 

VI. The Shakspere Drama : The Philosophy con- 
tained IN IT, AND THE AUTHORSHIP NEEDED 
FOR IT 35 

VII. Counsel and Help from Emerson ... 47 
VIII. The Journey to England .... 56 

IX. At Work in England: London, St. Albans, 
Hatfield ; The Friendship of the Carlyles ; 
The Book ready for a Publisher ... 60 
X. The " Putnam " Article : " William Shakspere 

and his Plays : An Inquiry concerning them." 98 
XL Disappointment and Perseverance . . . 156 

XII. News through Emerson 161 

XIII. The Entrance of Hawthorne .... 164 

XIV. Hawthorne's Visrr 216 

XV. Sickness and Privation. The Flight to Strat- 
ford. The Book to be Published at last . 235 
XVI. The Refuge in Stratford. The Designs against 
the Tomb. The Troubles and Patience of 

Hawthorne 247 

XVII. The Book Appears. Hawthorne's Preface . 284 
XVIII. The Reception of the Book .... 296 
XIX. The Strained Bow Breaks : " Last Scene of 

All" 301 

Index 319 



This is the story of a life that was neither 
splendid in achievement or adventure, nor success- 
ful, nor happy. It began deep in a New World 
wilderness, in the simplicity of a refined and hon- 
ored poverty ; it continued for almost fifty years 
of labor and sorrow, and ended amid clouds of 
disappointment and distraction. Neither the sub- 
ject of it, nor those to whom in her lifetime she 
was very dear by ties of kindred, would easily 
have consented that the world should know more 
of her than could be learned from her gravestone : 
that she was born, and died. Yet because she was 
of rare intellectual force and acuteness, of abso- 
lute sincerity and truthfulness, of self-annihilating 
earnestness and devotion in whatever work she 
entered upon ; and because the world is deter- 
mined that it will speak of her as if it knew her, 
supplying its lack of knowledge with conjecture 
or with fable, I purpose to tell it something of 
Delia Bacon : of what she was, from inheritance 
and environment ; and what she did. 



DELIA BACON. 



I. 

Of what ancestry she may have come, earlier 
than the six generations through which it is easy 
to trace her descent from an English colonist, 
there is no reason to believe that she ever asked 
or greatly cared. The whim which some have 
been pleased to indulge, that her opinions may 
have had their source in some fancy that she was 
herself of common blood with the greatest Eng- 
lishman who had borne her family name, is utterly 
without substantial foundation. Even less, while 
she lived, was known than can now be told of the 
plain yet honorable race of which she was born ; 
nor had any one pretended to trace for it a con- 
nection with the great Norfolk family which had 
become illustrious so shortly before the Puritan 
exodus began. Except so far, therefore, as 
knowledge of her descent through two centuries 
of New England Puritans, and pride in such de- 
scent, made her so strong a New Englander that 
she brought to Elizabethan English thought and 
literature a sympathy keener and warmer than 
that of most Englishmen, and in making her such 

5fix 

* E$3 i 

JjlMHfr 



2 DELTA BACON. 

a New Englander gave direction to her studies and 
imaginations, she received from her family name 
neither prepossession nor suggestion. But as the 
inlluences which made her, unconscious of them 
as she was, were operating long before her birth, 
something may properly be told of them. 

Within twenty years after the first disastrous 
venture at Plymouth, within fifteen after the 
colony upon Massachusetts Bay was begun, there 
was living at Dedham in that colony, in 1640, 
one Michael Bacon. He was a man of more than 
ordinary substance, and of such social dignity 
as was implied by the rank, which he had held 
before his migration, of captain of yeomanry. 
From what part of the dominions of Charles I. he 
had come, no one now seems able to tell. His 
first name, which has not been a common one in 
England, was repeated in several generations after 
him, and might afford a clue to his English kin, if 
it could be assumed to have been a family name 
before him. Late researches, indeed, have dis- 
closed the fact that the great Chancellor's half- 
brother Edward had among his many children a 
Michael, born in 1608 ; and for a moment it had 
seemed possible that this younger son of a younger 
son might have been the captain of yeomanry 
seeking better fortune in the New World. But 
when it was discovered that the Lord Keeper's 
grandson Michael died while yet a child, even this 
shadowy link of connection to a great family, a 



DELTA BACON. 3 

link of which Delia Bacon never so much as heard, 
disappeared in the light of fact. 

These Puritan Bacons seem to have prospered 
and contented themselves for several generations 
in Dedham, and Stoughton, which was a part of 
Dedham, and Billerica, and Woburn, before they 
were set in motion again by the westward impulse 
of their Teuton, English, New England blood. In 
1764, however, Joseph, great-great-grandson of 
the first Michael, went into the wilderness, and in 
the border town of Woodstock, which just in those 
years was passing out of the jurisdiction of Massa- 
chusetts into that of Connecticut, he married Abi- 
gail Holmes. Though they lived a little while in 
Stoughton, before 1771 they had fixed themselves 
in Woodstock, among the original proprietors of 
which the name of Holmes was found almost a 
hundred years before. In that absolutely rural 
community, containing in its population (presuma- 
bly of from one to two thousand) no man, perhaps, 
who was not a land-holder and a land-tiller, not 
excepting its parish minister of the established 
Congregational order, its physician, and possibly 
a general trader and an artisan or two, there was, 
nevertheless, strong and high thinking with plain 
living. There, in 1761, was born (himself after- 
ward a clergyman of distinction and an author of 
merit) the father of Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 
inventor and perlecter of the electric telegraph. 
There, in 1763, was born (also to become, in due 



4 DELIA BACON. 

time, an eminent divine and author) the father of 
Oliver Wendell Holmes. And there, in 1771, was 
born to Abigail Holmes (whose consanguinity to 
those who have made her maiden name famous 
was not too remote to be traceable) a son David, 
the father of Delia Bacon. 

It was an unsettled life, after all, into which this 
child David was born. In several New England 
towns his parents lived, a while in each, during 
his childhood and youth ; not prosperous in busi- 
ness, it seems, yet able to train their children with 
such education of mind as well as of morals that 
they need not shrink from any station into which 
the simple democratic life of those communities 
might bring them. An older son became a physi- 
cian of great eminence. This one, becoming in- 
flamed in the last years of the century with that 
fire of self-devotion which forced from the mis- 
sionary-apostle his cry of " Woe is me if I preach 
not the Gospel ! " set himself to the work of study 
for such service, that he might give himself espe- 
cially to the instruction and civilization of the 
Indians in the northwestern wilderness. 

How this laborious training went on : with what 
courage, when it was completed, this enthusiast 
confronted the perils of a wilderness as remote in 
those days, and almost as savage, as equatorial 
Africa is now : with what fortitude and serenity he 
suffered hardship in many forms until death took 
him from weariness and disappointment long be- 




DELIA BACON. 5 

fore old age, it is not necessary now to speak. 
The story is a beautiful and a moving one, but it 
has been fully written by a competent filial hand. 1 

At the beginning of this century the interior of 
America, from the Hudson River westward, was 
almost an untried wilderness. There were, it is 
true, the ancient Dutch settlements along the 
Mohawk ; and some rich valleys of eastern New 
York had received the first touches of colonization. 
But beyond were unknown wilds, except that the 
great lakes and rivers had been rudely mapped. 
A hundred years before, indeed, the wise fore- 
thought of French military statesmen had estab- 
lished a trading post and fort on the strait be- 
tween Lakes Huron and Erie, which was to be one 
in the chain of strongholds from the St. Lawrence 
to the Gulf of Mexico by which English power on 
this continent was to be restrained. That post, 
now the splendid city of Detroit, in 1801 held a 
motley population of a few hundred. But at 
" Buffalo Creek " this young missionary, waiting 
for days for a vessel to take him westward, found 
nothing but an encampment of savages on the site 
of the great city of Buffalo, which now numbers 
almost a quarter of a million inhabitants. 

There at Detroit, at the even remoter post of 
Mackinac, upon the Maumee River, and else- 
where, for five years the Connecticut evangelist 
struggled in competition with the frontier rum- 

1 Sketch of the Rev. David Bacon. By Leonard Bucon, D. D., 
LL. D. Boston : Congregational Board of Publication. 1876. 



6 DELIA BACON. 

sellers for some effectual influence upon a wild 
and violent race, with which communication was 
enormously difficult from diversity of language. 
With him he had taken his young wife, a delicate 
girl of eighteen, whose refined and gentle dignity 
in old age there are some who remember still. 
Children had already come to them when, chang- 
ing somewhat his earliest plan, but still devoted to 
the spread of the religion of which he was a min- 
ister, he determined, leaving the employment of 
the Connecticut Missionary Society, to establish in 
the Ohio woods a colony of New England men, 
after the New England type. 

From east to west, across the northern part of 
what is now the State of Ohio, stretches the belt 
of land which, included between the north and 
south lines of the colony of Connecticut prolonged 
westwardly, was within the terms of the original 
royal grant to that colony ; for that grant was lim- 
ited on the west only by " the South Sea." The 
sovereignty which by virtue of this grant was 
asserted by the colony was, upon the establish- 
ment of a national government, ceded to it by the 
State ; but proprietary rights were reserved, and 
the tract to which they attached was long after- 
ward known indifferently as " New Connecticut," 
or the " Western Reserve." In this region, then 
a dense and almost unbroken forest, the adventur- 
ous missionary chose for his new enterprise a tract 
of five miles square, some thirty miles south of 
the point where now the great city of Cleveland 




DELIA BACON. 7 

looks out upon Lake Erie ; and there, having him- 
self laid out with eminent skill and judgment the 
roads and public places of the future community, 
he built of logs the little cabin which was its first 
house, and established in it his household. 

In this town of Tallmadge, in the log cabin which 
begun the town, was born to David and Alice Ba- 
con, on the 2d of February, 1811, their fifth child. 

Many years afterward the child recalled, and put 
into words, her vague impressions of the scenes 
which surrounded her infancy. She was speaking 
of the forces which drove Sir Walter Raleigh westr 
ward, and made of him the pioneer of the New 
World ; and especially of " the new power of the 
religious Protestantism." " It was that too," she 
says, " which would begin erelong to pierce the 
great inland forest with its patient strength, 
sprinkling it with bright spots of European cul- 
ture, but culture already beginning to be modified 
by the new exigencies, going deeper and deeper 
with its little helpless household burthens that the 
tomahawk and the scalping-knife must long en- 
circle, going deeper and deeper always into its 
old savage heart, and breaking it at last with 
those soft rings of patient virtues and heroic faith 
and love. It was that which was working still, 
when in its fiercest heart, — in the valley of the 
old Indian ' River of Beauty,' where the mission 
hut had pursued the tomahawk, and the ' Great 
Trail' from the Northern lakes to the Southern 
gulf went by the door, and wild Indian faces 



8 DELIA BACON. 

looked in on the young mother, and wolves howled 
lullabies, the streets and squares of the town were 
pencilled and the college was dotted on that trail, 
and the wild old forest echoed with Sabbath 
hymns and sweet old English nursery songs, and 
the children of the New World awoke and found 
a new world there, old as from everlasting." \ 

In the rural town of Mansfield in Connecticut, 
where the father of this child had sojourned for a 
while before departing upon his western mission, 
there was among his friends a lawyer named 
Salter. Student-at-law with him was also a friend 
of the student of divinity, Thomas Scott Williams, 
afterwards chief justice of Connecticut. Remov- 
ing, soon afterward, to Hartford for the practice 
of his profession, the future chief justice married 
the daughter of one who had himself been chief 
justice of the United States, Delia Ellsworth. 

Remembering, in the wilderness, these friends 
of his younger manhood, the missionary com- 
bined their names in that of his child, and called 
her Delia Salter. Almost to the close of her life 
she continued to use both names thus given her 
in baptism ; but when she began to contemplate 
closely the publicity which she was to confront, 
she seems — though it was never spoken of by her 
— to have thought of a certain ludicrousness in 
the sounds thus brought together, and then, for 
the first time, she dropped out of use the second 
name. 

1 From A Study of the Life of Raleigh, unpublished. 




II. 

The enterprise which had been undertaken by 
this frontier missionary, wise as it has been proved 
by its results after not many years, in the estab- 
lishment of an agricultural community unsur- 
passed in America for comfort, prosperity, intelli- 
gence, and morality, was, nevertheless, too great 
for his unaided strength. Without capital of his 
own, he had undertaken the purchase upon credit 
of the broad tract of land upon which he had 
traced the roads and allotted the farms of the 
future colony. The sale of the farms to the Con- 
necticut men, whose emigration he himself solicited, 
was to enable him, he hoped, to meet the liabili- 
ties he had incurred. But close upon his pur- 
chase, in full peace with all nations, came the Em- 
bargo which closed the ports of New England to 
the world, and which was more ruinous to the 
prosperity of New England than even the war 
with Great Britain, which followed close upon it. 
The plan which founded the town ended, so far as 
the founder was concerned, in utter and heart- 
breaking disappointment within a few months 
after this little Delia was born. But the town 
itself went on growing in numbers and wealth and 



10 DELIA BACON. 

beauty ; and it remembers and honors its founder. 
The site of the cabin, which was its earliest house, 
was marked by the townsmen in 1881 with a 
great granite bowlder — an "erratic" block — 
with an inscription upon its face that tells of the 
gathering there of the First Church in Tallmadge, 
u in the house of Rev. David Bacon, January 2*2, 
1809." 

For almost a year of the little girl's babyhood, 
her father had been in Connecticut, engaged in a 
last endeavor to restore an undertaking already 
ruined. When that, too, had failed, as his eldest 
son has written, " with difficulty he obtained the 
means of returning to his family, and of removing 
them from the scene of so great a disappointment. 
All that he had realized from those five years of 
arduous labor was poverty, the alienation of some 
old friends, the depression that follows a fatal 
defeat, and the dishonor that waits on one who 
cannot pay his debts. Broken in health, broken 
in heart, yet sustained by an immovable confi- 
dence in God, and by the hopes that reach into 
eternity, he turned away from the field of hopes 
that had so sadly perished, and bade his last fare- 
well to Tallmadge and the Western Reserve." In 
May, 1812, with his almost girlish wife and their 
brood of little ones, of whom the oldest was but 
ten, he began his slow journey of six hundred 
miles through the wilderness to his old home. 
There, in Old Connecticut, for a little while he 




DELIA BACON. 11 

lingered, preaching and teaching: in Litchfield, 
Prospect, Middletown; and at last he laid down 
his weary life, in its forty-sixth year, in August, 
1817. 

It was a very helpless family that he left be- 
hind him. By what management or magic this 
young widow, absolutely without inheritance other 
than the resolute and devout spirit which had 
come through many generations of English Puri- 
tans, contrived to feed and clothe her six children 
and herself; to supply them all with the highest 
education and culture which that simple commu- 
nity afforded ; and to enable the two sons to pass 
through Yale College and into learned professions, 
no one now living can tell. It was, however, a 
painful part of the process that it became neces- 
sary to accept a home for this little Delia, six 
years old, in the family of her namesake, Bin. 
Williams, in Hartford. Here, for several years, 
she was cared for as a daughter of the house, 
while yet she maintained, by all means of commu- 
nication, frequent intercourse and warm affection 
for those of her own blood from whom she was 
parted for a while. There can be no doubt of the 
calm and constant kindness of patronage which 
the fatherless child received here ; but its calm- 
ness may have been somewhat stern and grim. 

It was not long after Delia had thus found an 
asylum in Hartford that a school for girls was 
opened there which made no small mark upon the 



12 DELIA BACON. 

generation then coming on. It was that of Cath- 
erine Beecher, whose father, Lyman Beecher, was 
a minister of the Congregational churches which 
were just then ceasing to be " by law established " 
in Connecticut, and one whose fame for homiletic 
and polemic power is far from extinct. Into this 
school Delia entered as a pupil, and with her was 
the teacher's sister, Harriet, a year her junior, 
who was destined to attain extraordinary renown 
and success in literature, not long before her 
schoolmate's life of unsparing toil ended in disap- 
pointment and failure. Through all her life, how- 
ever, she retained the constant friendship of both 
sisters, the teacher and the fellow-pupil. Nearly 
thirty years afterward Catherine Beecher thus 
described the child who now came under her 
charge : 

" If the writer were to make a list of the most 
gifted minds she has ever met, male or female, 
among the highest on the list would stand five 
young maidens, that were then grouped around 
the writer, in that dawning experience of a teach- 
er's life. And never did a teacher watch the un- 
fold ings of intellect and moral life with more 
interest and delight. Of this number, one was 
the homeless daughter of that Western home mis- 
sionary. 

" Possessing an agreeable person, a pleasing and 
intelligent countenance, an eye of deep and ear- 
nest expression, a melodious voice, a fervid imagi- 



DELIA BACON. 13 

nation, and the embryo of rare gifts of eloquence 
in thought and expression, she was preeminently 
one who would be pointed out as a genius ; and 
one, too, so exuberant and unregulated as to de- 
mand constant pruning and restraint. With this 
was united that natural delicacy and purity of 
mind, which frequently not only protects the 
young maiden from all coarseness and indecorum, 
but, even to full womanhood, renders it impossible 
for her even to conceive what impurity may be. 

"In disposition she was sensitive, impulsive, 
and transparent, possessing a keen longing for 
approbation, a morbid sensibility to criticism or 
blame, an honest truthfulness, and an entire free- 
dom from all that could be called management or 
art." 

" In this period of her mental history, had her 
future career been anticipated by the data of ker 
natural endowments and probable circumstances, 
it would have been predicted that her genius, her 
confiding frankness, her interesting appearance, 
her gifts of eloquence, and her sincere aspirations 
after all that is good and pure, would make her 
an object of attention, and probably of excessive 
flattery. On the other hand, her keen sensibility 
to blame or injustice, her transparency, sincerity, 
and impulsiveness, the dangerous power of keen 
and witty expression, and the want of the guid- 
ance and protection of parents and home, would 
make her an object of unjust depreciation 



14 DELIA BACON. 

The persons who were objects of her regard, and 
to whom she confided her thoughts and feelings, 
would almost inevitably become enthusiastic ad- 
mirers, while those who in any way came into an- 
tagonism would be as decided in their dislike." 

The sketch thus drawn by the clear-minded 
teacher, strong and sharp as it is, needs yet some 
filling up of its outlines. I cannot speak irrever- 
ently of the terrors with which the prevalent reli- 
gion of New England, from the beginning down to 
very recent times, sought to persuade men to live 
purely and think rightly. Half a century hence, 
when it has been proved that better, stronger, and 
truer men and women have been nurtured under 
the relaxation of those old-time rigors than those 
whom the seventeenth, the eighteenth, and the 
first quarter of the nineteenth century in New 
England produced, scorn and indignation at the 
ancient Puritan errors will at least not be un- 
timely. But even the most loyal New Englander 
may doubt the wholesomeness of the exercises 
of self-examination and introspection into which 
devout parents and teachers guided their infant 
charges. It touches close upon sacrilege to in- 
vade the confidence of a young religious soul, 
seeking for illumination under the menace of 
eternal wretchedness ; but the woman whose story 
is told cannot be known without knowledge of the 
girl. There is extant a letter from her to her 
brother, then a student of divinity, when she was 



DELIA BACON. 15 

a child of ten. It covers one side of a half sheet 
of foolscap, yellow with age, and ruled with pen- 
ciled lines. "Your sister," says this little child, 
" has resisted the Holy Spirit and He has departed 
from me. what a deplorable state ! what a 
dreadful situation ! When I think of it I tremble; 
but my fears are of short duration. Like Felix I 
say, go thy way for this season ; but oh ! what 
will become of me when I shall leave this vain 
transitory world and rise before my God in judg- 
ment ! Cease not to pray for me ; I have neg- 
lected the offers of salvation ; I have despised 
my dear Redeemer; but still there is mercy with 
him who is able to save." (Sept. 29, 1821.) 

From time to time appear, among her brother's 
most sacredly treasured papers, letters showing 
continual like struggles and miseries, with alter- 
nating hope and despair, resulting at last, at some 
time before her fifteenth birthday, in a formal 
" profession of faith," in the First Church in Hart- 
ford. 

From the spring of 1826 the shelter and sup- 
port which she had for years received in the Wil- 
liams household were to be hers no longer. With 
a very sad young heart she looked out upon the 
world in which, at fifteen, she was to begin a life- 
long struggle. At the close of February she 
writes to her eldest brother, who, young as he 
was, stood in a father's place to her : " I have but 
nine weeks more to remain in my present home," 
and then, " I shall have no home in all the wide, 



16 DELIA BACON. 

wide world I can call ray own." " The future 
seems very dark to me, and I cannot imagine 
what I am to do. I know I am to depend upon 
my own exertions for subsistence, and were there 
any field for these exertions I would not fear. 
But there seems to me none, and every way I 
turn I am disappointed and perplexed." (Feb. 
26, 1826.) 

At last, after much inquiry in various direc- 
tions for a place in which a school could be main- 
tained (the only resource in those days for women 
who would help themselves), after some small 
work in a school in Hartford, this child, with a 
sister but little older, began a school in the village 
of Southington, Connecticut. 

Almost at the beginning of 1827, when Delia 
was not yet sixteen, the Southington enterprise 
was begun. It seems to have been for girls of 
ages up to the highest school limit ; yet here, and 
in the other places where new experiments were 
made, the head of the school was Delia, and her 
elder sister was subordinate. 

It would be profitless to reproduce from her 
letters the assiduous toil, the continuous strug- 
gle of pinching economy with dire poverty, in 
which these years of girlhood were worn away. 
In Southington, only the time from January to 
September was needed to demonstrate the failure 
of their project. At Perth Amboy, in New Jersey, 
they had learned by May of the next year (1828) 
that the sanguine hopes with which they had been 









- H 




DELIA BACON. 17 

attracted thither by the townspeople were unwar- 
ranted, and they had fallen a little further into 
debt than when they came. At Jamaica on Long 
Island, twelve miles from New York, the prospect 
set before them was still more glowing than be- 
fore. Their undertaking was to be larger. Not 
only were they to teach a greater number of 
young ladies, but they were — these two girls — 
to maintain a household of which some of the 
scholars should be inmates. 

The encouragement which inspired them in be- 
ginning here, in May, 1828, was certainly substan- 
tial. There was a refined and cultured society 
there, which appreciated and welcomed the refine- 
ment of the girl teachers. Especially did they 
find support in the cordial friendliness of John 
Alsop King, whose father, Rufus King, had been 
one of the most eminent statesmen of the post- 
revolutionary period, and who became himself 
governor of New York in later years. But even 
here, two years sufficed to prove their powers in- 
adequate to their task ; and in the summer of 
1830 an end came, in disappointment, exhaustion, 
sickness, and hopeless insolvency, to this last at- 
tempt. And in telling the fatal story to their 
eldest brother, Leonard, who was all they had for 
counselor, comforter, and helper, Delia begins by 
saying : " Our letters must still be what they al- 
ways have been, a tale of blasted hopes, realized 
fears, and unlooked-for sorrows." 



A 



•*"' ft. 




m. 

There were no more daring enterprises in es- 
tablishing and carrying on schools, with all the 
responsibilities, cares, and hazards of proprietor- 
ship. Here and there, however, Delia was able 
now to maintain herself by teaching in the schools 
of others. At Hartford once more, immediately 
after the Jamaica disaster ; at Penn Yan, in West- 
ern New York, after which she frankly declares, 
" I will never live again in a place with such a 
heathenish name, unless I go on a mission " (June 
16, 1832) ; perhaps in the rural village of West 
Bloomfield, not far from there, where at any rate 
she was for many months with her married old- 
est sister; and perhaps elsewhere. But during 
these years she was getting into her mind notions 
of better means of self-support than teaching 
school. 

In the thickest of the toil and trouble at Ja- 
maica she had prepared for the press, if a pub- 
lisher could be found, her first adventure in let- 
ters. It was not strange that the history of the 
Anglo-American Puritans should strongly hold the 
attention of one who was so completely theirs 
by descent and by sympathy; and the series of 



DELIA BACON. 19 

short stories which were to make her book was 
founded upon incidents in their history. In the 
spring of 1831 there was published in New Haven, 
by A. H. Maltby, " Tales of the Puritans," a duo- 
decimo of three hundred pages. The author's 
name was not given, but such credit as belonged 
to it was soon awarded to Delia Bacon. Nor was 
it by any means without merit, especially, as she 
herself said of it shortly afterward, " considering 
it as written without experience, without knowl- 
edge of the subjects of which it treated, with 
scarcely a book to refer to beyond the works 
made use of in school." (Dec. 12, 1831.) The 
three stories contained in it were "The Regi- 
cides," "A Fair Pilgrim," and " Castine," which 
she had at first called " The Catholic." The first 
was an adaptation, far from unskillful or uninter- 
esting, of the romantic story of the three judges 
of Charles I. who found shelter in New Haven, 
and of the pursuit of them after the Restoration, 
ingeniously defeated by sympathizing officials and 
people. The next seems to have been suggested, 
but little more, by the fate of the Lady Arbella 
Johnson, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, who 
came to die in the wilderness, at Salem, in 1630; 
and the subject of the last was the French settle- 
ment of the Baron Castine upon the Penobscot, 
late in the seventeenth century. 

This experiment, attempted in the stress of 
poverty and debt in the hope of retrieving the 



20 DELIA BACON. 

impending losses from the school, seems to have 
achieved for her little more than the succes d'es- 
time which was quite unquestionable. The credit, 
indeed, which the girl got for it, in those days 
when the girls were rare who saw themselves in 
print, may have done little good in sharpening 
the hunger for literary success which shrewd Cath- 
erine Beecher had already discerned in her as a 
child at school. " From her childhood," her oldest 
brother wrote of her long afterward, " she has had 
a passion for literature, and perhaps I should say 
a longing, more or less distinct, for literary celeb- 
rity." So it was not long before she was at work, 
in the intervals of teaching here and there in 
schools, or (this she liked much better) select 
classes of young ladies in her own apartments, 
upon a new venture based upon an incident of 
American history. This was to have been a drama, 
and at first ambition had inspired the hope, at 
which indeed her Puritan soul was rather aghast, 
that it might be acted upon the stage. Friendly 
criticism, however, and especially, as her letters 
show, that of her brother, convinced her, after she 
had exhausted herself with labor upon it, that it 
lacked essential dramatic qualities; and at last, 
when she had rewritten and greatly altered it, the 
form of dialogue being yet retained, it was pub- 
lished in New York, late in 1839, by S. Colman. 
Its title was " The Bride of Fort Edward : A Dra- 



DELIA BACON. 21 

matic Story." It was based upon the pathetic 
story of Jane McCrea, a beautiful American girl 
whose lover was a loyalist officer in Burgoyne's 
army, just before its surrender at Saratoga. Cap- 
tured by a party of Burgoyne's Indians, she prom- 
ised them, in her terror, a large reward if they 
would take her safely to the British camp. " It 
was a fatal promise," says Irving. " Halting at a 
spring, a quarrel arose among the savages, in- 
flamed most probably with drink, as to whose 
prize she was, and who was entitled to the re- 
ward. The dispute became furious, and one, in 
a paroxysm of rage, killed her on the spot. He 
completed the savage act by bearing off her scalp 
as a trophy." ' 

This episode and its effect, which was certainly 
very great, in stimulating the patriotic rage of the 
revolutionary army, are the theme of the book. 
The dialogue is mostly in prose, with passages 
interspersed of blank verse, not always correct; 
and it continues for almost two hundred pages of 
rhapsody and apostrophe and curiously mistaken 
familiar speech of common people. That partial 
theatrical friends — her letters even mention Miss 
Ellen Tree, one of the most famous of her day 
— should ever have fancied that it contained so 
much as the germ of an acting play, is inconceiv- 
able when one reads it now ; and even the read- 

1 Life of Washington, iii. 153. 



22 



DELIA BACON. 



ing of it is far from being a recreation. It was 
a failure, every way ; it brought debt instead of 
money, and no renown ; but it did the great ser- 
vice of ending, for a time, her attempts at liter- 
ary work, and turning her back to study and in- 
struction. 



IV. 

In all these years, beginning with a severe and 
prolonged course of an epidemic fever at Jamaica 
in 1828, the girl, maturing into womanhood, had 
been w T aging a sharp though intermittent warfare 
with ill-health. Sometimes, indeed, the high spir- 
its and animation which seem to have been natural 
to her indicated a vigorous physical state ; but 
often there were intense, prolonged, and prostrat- 
ing headaches, or agonizing attacks of neuralgia. 
Against this, however, she carried on with high 
courage her struggle to be something and to ac- 
complish something. She writes to her brother of 
being " resolved to correct the defects of her early 
education, so far as it is possible for earnest and 
patient effort to accomplish it ; " and so of her 
reading on vegetable physiology, on political econ- 
omy, on the elements of ideology. (Dec. 12, 
1831.) At another time she is renewing her 
school acquaintance, such as it was, with Latin ; 
and again, with little help from teachers, she is 
trying to learn Greek. 

But in the midst of it all — sickness, studying, 
writing of stories and plays that cannot be played 
— she carries on the work of instruction, from 



24 DELIA BACON. 

which alone, in those days, a woman could earn 
her living, if she could not work with her hands. 
This she did, not in the perfunctory fashion which 
seems alone to have been known to the pedagogy 
of the time, but in a way of her own devising. 
She gathered about her, in her own apartments, 
or in some larger room, when her own proved in- 
sufficient, young ladies whose school-days were 
ended, and many, even, who were no longer 
young. These she taught, in literature some- 
times, but above all in history. One who seems 
to have thought it a privilege to be her pupil has 
written thus of her instruction : 

" She imparted to them new ideas ; she system- 
atized for them the knowledge already gained ; 
she engaged them in discussion ; she taught them 
to think. * What books do you use in Miss Ba- 
con's class?' A question often asked and impos- 
sible of answer. Her pupils had no books — only 
a pencil and some paper. All they learned was 
received from her lips. She sat before them, her 
noble countenance lighted with enthusiasm, her 
fair white hands now holding a book from which 
she read an extract, now pressing for a moment 
the thoughtful brow. She knew both how to 
pour in knowledge and how to draw out thought. 
And there are few listeners, I think, who can give 
keener and more critical attention than the former 
members of Miss Bacon's class. 

" In many of the Eastern cities" these historical 



DELIA BACON. 25 

lectures " called out deep interest and enthusiasm. 
Hundreds of the most cultivated flocked to hear 
them. Graceful and intellectual in appearance, 
eloquent in speech, marvelously wise, and full of 
inspiration, she looked and spoke the very muse 
of history. Of these lectures she wrote out noth- 
ing — not even notes. All their wisdom came 
fresh and living from the depth of her ready intel- 
lect. And for that very reason there is now no 
trace of what would be so valuable." ' 

Since these pages are written only to tell those 
who care to know what Delia Bacon was, it may 
be well to adduce further the testimony of this 
pupil. 

" Delia Bacon was a woman of a genius rare and 
incomparable. Wherever she went, there walked 
a queen in the realm of mind. To converse with 
her was to be carried captive. The most ordinary 
topic became fascinating when she dealt with it, 
for whatever subject she touched she invested 
with her own wonderful wealth of thought, and 
illustration, and association, and imagery, until all 
else was forgotten in her magical converse. 

" In personal appearance she was of middle stat- 
ure, graceful, fair, and slight. Her habitual 
black dress set off to advantage the radiant face, 
whose fair complexion was that uncommon one 
which can only be described as pale yet brilliant 

1 Article "Delia Bacon : " by Sydney E. Holmes [Mrs. Sarah E. 
Henshaw]: The Advance (Chicago), Dec. 26, 1867. 



26 DELIA BACON. 

Intellect was stamped on every feature. Genius 
looked from brow and eye. The hair was a pale 
brown, gold tinted 1 — fit shading for such a coun- 
tenance. The eye blue-gray, clear, shining, and 
passing rapidly through all expressions, from the 
swimming softness of tender sympathy to the 
flash that revealed the inspiration within. 

" Meeting her in a crowd, you glanced over and 
thought — 'a graceful woman.' But your eye 
unconsciously sought her again, and the second 
time you felt rather than thought — ' a remark- 
able woman.' ' Who is that lady ? ' asked a 
newly appointed college official, — * that lady 
whom I meet occasionally in the street.' He 
went on to paint her. There was no mistaking 
the description. ' That,' was the reply, ' is Miss 
Bacon.' ' That Miss Bacon ! ' he exclaimed. ' I 
knew it was some one remarkable ! — I never saw 
such an eye in my life ! and how young she is ! ' 

" No one could know and appreciate Delia Ba- 
con, without placing her in his estimation among 
the most highly endowed women whom he ever 
saw or heard of. Was philosophy the subject of 
her discourse? She dealt with abstract truth as 
but one woman does in generations. Weighing, 
balancing, analyzing, and comparing, she knew all 
systems, and had their resemblances and their 

1 This detail is certainly erroneous. The hair was of a hrown 
which was nearer to black than is often found with blue or blue-gray 
eyes. — T. B. 



DELIA BACON. 27 

differences clearly defined, distinctly remembered, 
and ready at her call. Her mastery of the sub- 
ject astonished you ; you were sure she had given 
her chief time and thought to that alone. 

" Was it history ? She was equally at home, and 
showed an insight that illustrated her great intel- 
lectual powers. Chronology, geography, narra- 
tive — all its facts were familiar to her. Know- 
ing what she knew of these, most people would 
have considered themselves thoroughly versed in 
historic lore. But history to her was not these — 
these were to her only the beginning. They were 
the husk, the rind, the outward covering of a 
philosophy, which she delighted to educe for 
duller minds to recognize. So with poetry and 
art. By her own originality and genius, she set 
forth each with new thoughts, or with old ones in 
new combinations. And a deep veneration for 
what is good, a clear recognition of God and his 
providence, underlay all her teachings. This is 
no high-sounding praise. Let those who knew 
her best make answer." * 

For some years together — exactly when the 
period began or ended it is hard to say — these 
courses of instruction were given by her with great 
approval. In New Haven, where her brother was 
minister of the ancient " First Church," and was 
also in official relation to Yale College, she had 
certain marked advantages of acquaintance and 

1 Article M Delia Bacon " : The Advance, ubi supra. 



28 DELIA BACON. 

introduction; and here her classes are said to have 
numbered one hundred, while they included be- 
yond doubt all that was most refined and culti- 
vated in the society of that university town. In 
Hartford, the home of her childhood, her success 
was gratifying to her reasonable pride. In Bos- 
ton, in Cambridge, and in New York and Brook- 
lyn — these last, in 1852 and 1853, seeming to 
end the list — she continued this congenial but ex- 
hausting labor of oral instruction, and even found 
the new sensation, in the last season of this period, 
of earning money enough to make substantial pay- 
ments upon the debts incurred in former years. 

It was in Boston that she became acquainted 
with one of those who have recorded in public the 
impression she made. In " Recollections of Sev- 
enty Years," ■ of which the first of several editions 
appeared in 1865, Mrs. Eliza Farrar, who had 
come to know her well before she died, devotes 
her closing chapter to the story, so far as it had 
been within her knowledge, "of a highly gifted 
and noble-minded woman " (p. 331). 

"The first lady whom I ever heard deliver a 
public lecture was Miss Delia Bacon, who opened 
her career in Boston, as teacher of history, by 
giving a preliminary discourse, describing her 
method, and urging upon her hearers the impor- 
tance of the study. 

1 Boston : Ticknor & Fields. 



DELIA BACON. 29 

" I had called on her that day for the first time, 
and found her very nervous and anxious about 
her first appearance in public. She interested me 
at once, and I resolved to hear her speak. Her 
person was tall and commanding, her finely shaped 
head was well set on her shoulders, her face was 
handsome and full of expression, and she moved 
with grace and dignity. The hall in which she 
spoke was so crowded that I could not get a seat, 
but she spoke so well that I felt no fatigue from 
standing. She was at first a little embarrassed, 
but soon became so engaged in recommending the 
study of history to all present, that she ceased to 
think of herself, and then she became eloquent. 

" Her course of oral lessons, or lectures, on his- 
tory interested her class of ladies so much that she 
was induced to repeat them, and I heard several 
who attended them speak in the highest terms of 
them. She not only spoke, but read well, and 
when on the subject of Roman history, she de- 
lighted her audience by giving them with great 
effect some of Macaulay's Lays. 1 

"I persuaded her to give her lessons in Cam- 
bridge, and she had a very appreciative class as- 
sembled in the large parlor of the Brattle House. 
She spoke without notes, entirely from her well- 
stored memory ; and she would so group her facts 
as to present to us historical pictures calculated to 

1 It should be remembered that the " Lays " had then but just 
appeared, and were not yet commonplaces. — T. B. 



30 DELIA BACON. 

make a lasting impression. She was so much ad- 
mired and liked in Cambridge, that a lady there 
invited her to spend the winter with her as her 
guest, and I gave her the use of my parlor for 
another course of lectures. In these she brought 
down her history to the time of the birth of 
Christ, and I can never forget how clear she 
made it to us that the world was only then made 
fit for the advent of Jesus. She ended with a fine 
climax that was quite thrilling. 

" In her Cambridge course she had maps, charts, 
models, pictures, and everything she needed to 
illustrate her subject. This added much to her 
pleasure and ours. All who saw her then must 
remember how handsome she was, and how grace- 
fully she used her wand in pointing to the illustra- 
tions of her subject. I used to be reminded by her 
of Raphael's sibyls, and she often spoke like an 
oracle. 

" She and a few of her class would often stay 
after the lesson and take tea with me, and then 
she would talk delightfully for the rest of the 
evening. It was very inconsiderate in us to allow 
her to do so, and when her course ended she was 
half dead with fatigue " (pp. 319-321). 

The instruction, however, which for almost a 
decade of years she was thus giving by oral dis- 
course and conversation to classes of ladies, while 
general history was perhaps oftenest its subject, 



DELIA BACON. 31 

was by no means restricted to the history of events. 
She taught, in like manner, with high enthusiasm 
and with great acceptance, the history of literature 
and the arts, and the history and principles of criti- 
cism. More and more, indeed, through all this 
period of exhausting toil for self-support, under 
the burden of sickness and penury and debt, her 
interest and her inclination were turning toward 
pure literature and literary criticism; so that 
when, in 1852, her historical lectures in Boston 
and Cambridge were ended for the season, she 
seems to have hoped that they would never be, as 
in fact they never were, resumed. 



V. 

This was not a normal or healthful life for a 
girl and woman of an exquisitely sensitive nervous 
organization, of fine intellectual powers, of strong 
affections. With the warmest instinct of domestic 
love for the family into which she had been born, 
and in which privation and hardship and separa- 
tion had only strengthened the mutual attachment 
of its members, she yet had never known a home, 
except the stern and conscientious hospitality 
which sheltered her for the few years before she 
became fifteen. With a keen sense of admiration, 
and with personal attractions so marked, that 
although she did not seem conscious she could not 
have been ignorant of them, her girlhood was 
grimly shut out from even the temperate social 
joys that Connecticut Puritanism allowed. Out of 
such social life, had not the necessity that was laid 
upon her forbidden it to her, there might have 
come in her womanhood the home which she was 
never to know, and the ties and the occupations 
which would have turned the current of her life 
into a placid, serene, and undistinguished domes- 
ticity. But there was no room in her crowded 
life for the passages that lead to marriage. Such 




DELIA BACON. 33 

addresses as had been openly paid to her she was 
observed to receive with amusement rather than 
seriously, and then to decline. Afterward, indeed, 
when she was mature in age, she underwent a 
most cruel ordeal, and suffered a grievous and 
humiliating disappointment. So keen was the 
exasperation, and so deep the humiliation to which 
her highly sensitive and already overwrought 
nature was subjected in the face of a wide and 
critical circle of acquaintance, that it would not 
have been strange if the new strain had broken 
it down completely. Exquisitely sensitive as she 
was, however, she was no less proud and brave ; 
and if from the sharp and prolonged distress of the 
years 1846 and 1847 her mind did in fact undergo 
some permanent harm that took open effect in 
later years, there was little sign of it then. Sus- 
tained by the womanly pride that was born in her, 
and by the religious principle in which she had 
been so diligently trained, she was able to write, 
not long afterward, to her brother from Ohio, al- 
most from the very spot where she was born in a 
missionary's cabin : " I begin to look upon the 
world, and its toil and strife, somewhat as those 
do who have left it forever. Objects which once 
seemed very large to me appear now, in the men- 
tal perspective which this distance creates, absurd- 
ly little. ... In that calm of heart and soul to 
which God by his providence and by his grace has 
at length conducted me, I can afford to wait until 
* the lying lips are put to silence.' " 



34 DELIA BACON. 

More than ever before was the tender and 
watchful care of those to whom she was especially 
bound by ties of nature or affection centred upon 
her during these years of suffering and of threat- 
ened prostration, and the years that closely fol- 
lowed them. Cheered though they were, how- 
ever, by her courage and fortitude, there were 
those among them who began already to discern 
upon her, even if they sounded no note of warn- 
ing, the approaching shadow of a dark and dread- 
ful cloud. 




VI. 

Studying and teaching for many years not 
merely the history of events, but the history and 
criticism of literature, it is not strange that the 
strongly English mind of this New England woman 
became gradually fixed upon the greatest work of 
English letters, the drama of the Elizabethan and 
Jacobean age. So complete, indeed, was the spell 
of fascination under which she fell in the study 
especially of the plays which bear the name of 
Shakspere, that after the beginning of 1853 she 
could no longer endure the burden of her histori- 
cal lessons, in which she seemed to have achieved 
a permanent success, sure to bring her, if only she 
should continue them, prosperity and credit. 

To whom it first occurred to doubt the title of 
William Shakspere to the authorship of the plays 
commonly bearing his name is a question which 
will not be much discussed in this sketch. 

Certainly no dispute of authorship was rife in 
his lifetime. A good reason for this was that there 
was no assertion of authorship by any one. It is 
true, that as early as 1589, when Shakspere was 
twenty-five years old, he had become a play-actor, 
and one of the sixteen owners of the Blackfriars 



36 DELIA BACON. 

play-house. It is even guessed that as early as 
that, one of the plays which were afterward called 
his had been performed, in that house or else- 
where ; although it is hardly surmised that any 
one of them was printed earlier than 1594. And 
inasmuch as the general agreement seems to be 
that half of all that go commonly by his name, in- 
cluding many of the noblest, were never printed 
at all while he lived, or until seven years after his 
death, since there was no assertion of authorship, 
contention could hardly arise against it. 

Nor was it until very long after an author was 
first openly nominated for these plays in the publi- 
cation of the folio edition of 1623, that either liter- 
ary or historical criticism could easily turn itself 
to a discussion of the claim, if any one had thought 
of suggesting such a discussion. It might, indeed, 
be said that for a century afterward neither liter- 
ary nor historical criticism existed in England ; 
and there were other reasons why the intellectual 
activity of England concerned itself little, for 
many years, with the plays of Elizabeth's time or 
their authors. When the folio of Heminge and 
Condell appeared, the great political struggle of 
the seventeenth century, to prepare the way for 
which the acted plays had already done so much, 
was on the point of passing from its first stage of 
discussion and lawful agitation into open and revo- 
lutionary outbreak. Two years after, the death of 
James I. and the accession of his son gave new 



DELIA BACON. 37 

intensity to the conflict already engaged ; and 
from that time onward to half of England a play, 
a play-house, or a play-writer was sinful ; while 
for all England there was graver work than read- 
ing plays or speculating upon their authorship. 
Then, when the anti-Puritan reaction came with 
the Restoration, the dramas of a past generation 
had little chance of a hearing in competition with 
the witty abominations of Congreve and Wycher- 
ley; and the stiffening classicism of the time of 
Anne and the Georges afforded little tolerance for 
" Fancy's child," by whatever name he might be 
called, if he warbled to it only " his native wood- 
notes wild." 

And yet it is not altogether untrue to say that 
the authorship of the Shakspere drama has always 
been in controversy. From the beginning until 
now, w r hile almost all men were agreed that Shak- 
spere wrote plays, it was hard to find two who 
agreed what plays he wrote. The folio of 1623 
contained thirty-six plays. Of these, eighteen were 
then for the first time printed. Yet, while the 
aim of the editors is to present a complete collec- 
tion of his plays, they wholly disregard at least 
seventeen which during the author's lifetime had 
been published under his name, without any dis- 
avowal by him so far as is known. Upon these 
last therefore, at all events, men's opinions differed 
in Shakspere's time and afterwards. They differed, 
also, upon the play of " Pericles," which the folio 



38 DELIA BACON. 

omitted as not his; but which modern editors 
judge to be his, either partly or wholly. Then 
the wisest critics of to-day, with the keenest sensi- 
tiveness for Shakspere's name, do not fear to dis- 
cuss, as though they were not laying profane 
hands on the ark of the covenant, the question 
whether one and another of the Shakspere plays 
are really his: as the three parts of "King Henry 
VI."; as "Pericles"; as " Titus Andronicus " ; so 
that one critic has been able to satisfy himself that 
but five can be rightly called his, and that all 
others are falsely or mistakenly imputed to him. 

While there was hardly a play of them all to 
the authorship of which Shakspere's title had not 
been at some time either wholly ignored or sharply 
questioned; while there were many more plays 
which in his lifetime or for sixty years afterward 
were openly imputed to him, so that the authentic 
canon of the Shakspere drama has always been, is 
now, and perhaps ever will be the subject of fierce 
contention ; yet none of the critics went so far as 
to sum up the several disputations of all the critics 
by maintaining that all were right, at least in part, 
and that the play-actor wrote none of them. 

Many readers, indeed, from the time when criti- 
cism began a century and a half ago, found them- 
selves confronted with difficulties elsewhere un- 
known. The personality of this dramatist glowed 
through his work with a force and brightness 
found nowhere else in literature. It seemed, in- 



DELIA BACON. 39 

deed, a multiplied personality. There was in it 
not only marvelous insight, but exquisite cultiva- 
tion and refinement, profound learning, and a 
practical knowledge of men, of the world, and of 
affairs such as all men were apt to say had never 
before been joined in any one man. When Cole- 
ridge called him the " myriad-minded," he simply 
put into a felicitous phrase what all men had long 
been thinking. Many, indeed, had declared their 
wonder that any one mind could produce creations 
so diverse in character as "Julius Caesar" and 
" The Merry Wives of Windsor," as " The Comedy 
of Errors " and " Macbeth." In general, however, 
a single student would content himself with a 
demonstration which, alone, might have served to 
solve the difficulty found by every one, but which, 
when involved with like demonstrations by others, 
only multiplied perplexity. To prove from the 
plays that their author must have been a lawyer, 
as Lord Campbell did, was far from difficult, and 
would have been very helpful if the demonstration 
had stood alone. True, there was no historical 
record of Shakspere's ever having seen a law-book, 
a court-room, or a lawyer's chambers ; and there 
was some trouble in imagining how the play-actor 
and theatre-manager, who was writing immortal 
dramas before he was thirty, and died, after volu- 
minous authorship, at fifty-two, could have ac- 
quired what Lord Campbell calls " the familiar, 
profound, and accurate knowledge he displayed of 



40 DELIA BACON. 

juridical principles and practice." It was only 
making a wonder more wonderful, however ; and 
the new wonder was established by demonstration, 
and by the authority of a great lawyer's name. 
But when the eminent Dr. Bucknill, not contro- 
verting the argument of Lord Campbell, proved 
as clearly that Shakspere " had paid an amount of 
attention to subjects of medical interest scarcely if 
at all inferior to that which has served as the 
basis" of the proposition that he "had devoted 
seven good years of his life to the practice of law," 
he hindered rather than helped to understand the 
real life of the dramatist. So when another proves 
that in the few years before the play- writing began 
the poet, so well versed was he in warfare, must 
have served a campaign or two in the Low Coun- 
tries ; another, that he must have been a Roman 
Catholic in religion, while another shows him to 
have been necessarily a Puritan ; another, that his 
prodigious wealth of allusions to and phrases from 
the then untranslated Greek and Latin authors 
proves his broad and deep erudition ; the under- 
standing consents to one demonstration after an- 
other, but may possibly be staggered if called to 
accept them all together. It might well be that 
weak souls, invited to believe so much of one man, 
sought refuge and repose in refusing to believe 
even what would not otherwise have overtaxed 
credulity. 

There were other things, besides, that had 



DELIA BACON. 41 

seemed strange in the relations of this man to these 
plays. No word or hint seems ever to have 
escaped him to show that he cared for, or even 
owned, the miraculous offspring which had fallen 
from him. There is no word or syllable in all the 
world to indicate that the man whose multi- 
farious learning is the wonder of the third century 
after him ever owned a book, or ever saw one, 
although he brought together and left behind him 
a fair estate. Nor is there to be found in all the 
world, of this profuse and voluminous author, of 
this bosom-friend of poets and printers and actors, 
so much as the scratch of a pen on paper, except 
the three signatures upon his Will, wherein, by an 
interlineation which shows that he had at first 
overlooked the wife of his boyhood, he leaves her 
his " second-best bed." Yet of his less famous 
contemporaries there are autograph manuscripts 
in abundance. Even of his forerunners by cen- 
turies there are extant writings infinitely more 
plenty than the scanty subscriptions to a legal in- 
strument. Petrarch died two centuries and a half, 
Dante three centuries, before him ; yet the manu- 
scripts of both abound, while of him who was 
greater than either, and was almost of our own 
time, there is nothing but the mean and sordid 
Will to show that he ever put pen to paper. 

But while the difficulty of fixing the canon of 
the Shakspere text had long been such as to in- 
volve the authorship of every part of the text in 



42 DELIA BACON. 

more or less doubt ; while all men had wondered 
that so little should be known of the actual man 
Shakspere, and that what little was known should 
be so far remote from any ideal one could form of 
the author bearing the name : so that Coleridge 
should exclaim : " Are we to have miracles in 
sport ? Does God choose idiots by whom to con- 
vey divine truths to men ? " and Emerson : u I 
cannot marry this fact to his verse. Other admi- 
rable men have led lives in some sort of keeping 
with their thought; but this man, in wide con- 
trast;" yet avowed disbelief went commonly no 
further. Once, it is true, there was a public asser- 
tion that Shakspere's alleged authorship was im- 
possible. In 1848 there was published by the 
Harpers, in New York, a light and chatty account 
of a voyage to Spain, entitled " The Romance of 
Yachting," by Joseph C. Hart. The incidents of 
the voyage are interspersed with discussions alto- 
gether foreign to it ; and upon a trivial pretext 
the authorship of the plays is considered, with no 
small acuteness and vigor, upon the pages from 
208 to 243. It is summarized, however, in a few 
of the earlier sentences : " He was not the mate 
of the literary characters of the day, and none 
knew it better than himself. It is a fraud upon 
the world to thrust his surreptitious fame upon 
us. He had none that was worthy of being trans- 
mitted. The inquiry will be, who were the able 
literary men who wrote the dramas imputed to him t 



DELIA BACON. 43 

The plays themselves, or rather a small portion 
of them, will live as long as English literature is 
regarded worth pursuit. The authorship of the 
plays is no otherwise material to us than as a 
matter of curiosity, and to enable us to render 
exact justice ; but they should not be assigned to 
Shakspere alone, if at all." 

If there be any merit, therefore, in having been 
the first to doubt this authorship, it cannot be 
awarded to Delia Bacon. There is no reason, how- 
ever, to believe that the speculations which have 
just been quoted ever came to her knowledge. 
The ideas, or fancies, which soon after this pos- 
sessed her, were, as she profoundly believed, her 
own discovery — indeed, she would rather have 
said, a revelation direct to her. 

Revelation, discovery, or fancy, however, — 
whatever it was, an utterly subordinate part of it 
all, though an essential part, was that which con- 
cerned merely the authorship of the plays. If 
they were indeed, as they had been commonly re- 
ceived, a casual collection of stage-plays, knocked 
together by a money-making play-actor, play- 
wright, and theatre-manager for the money there 
was in them and to be got out of them, it was a 
trivial question by what name the playwright 
should be called ; it should not tax credulity to 
" marry this fact to his verse," however fine the 
verse might be, if they were nothing more than 
verse. But to her, studying the plays with a keen- 



44 DELIA BACON. 

ness of natural insight and a burning intensity 
which have not often been applied to them, much 
more than splendid poesy began to gleam within 
them. Finding in them a higher philosophy, even, 
than in the " Advancement of Learning," a broader 
statesmanship, a profounder jurisprudence, and, 
above all, a bolder courage than in all the avowed 
writings of the great Chancellor, she only obeyed 
the teachings of that Inductive System which he 
had expounded, in seeking an adequate authorship 
for so magnificent a creation. But that all these 
things were in the plays — this was the main fact 
that concerned her; this was what she cared to 
discover first for herself, and then to communicate 
to the world. If indeed she found them there, it 
could not but follow, as the night the day, that 
some better paternity must be admitted for the 
plays than that of Lord Leicester's groom. 

Nor was it enough for her to discover bits and 
gleams of philosophy and political science in the 
plays, however frequent or brilliant. To her 
eager inquiry they came to be revealed at last, 
not as fortuitously collected though mutually unre- 
lated plays, but as an entire dramatic system, in 
which the New Philosophy was to be inculcated in 
unsuspicious minds, under the vehement despotism 
of the last Tudor and the dull pedantic oppression 
of the first Stuart. If the plays were really such 
a system of philosophic teaching, not only was it 
difficult to accept the competency for it of the 



ft '"*!* 






ttdtt.-. . 



DELIA BACON, 45 

Stratford poacher and London horse-boy; it was 
hardly less trying to credulity to impute so vast 
an enterprise, added to all the gigantic intellec- 
tual labors which he avowed, even to the greatest 
Englishman of his age. She judged, therefore, 
that as there had been collaboration before and 
since in literary work, so here the most brilliant 
and philosophic minds of the Elizabethan Court 
cooperated in the work which was too great for 
one, and consented together, for their common 
safety, to the imputation of their united work to 
the theatre-manager who brought out the plays, 
and whose property they were because they had 
been given to him. 

Reasons why these courtiers and politicians — 
Bacon, Raleigh, Spenser, and whatever others 
made up the illustrious coterie — should not have 
wished to acknowledge the work of which they 
might well have boasted, were not far to seek. It 
comported ill with dignity of rank and place to be 
known as a writer of plays : but to be known to 
such a queen as Elizabeth, or to such a king as 
James, as author of such plays as " Coriolanus " 
or " Julius Caesar " — the eager ambition of Ba- 
con would have been quenched by it long before 
the day when his office was wanted for Williams ; 
upon Raleigh, living for fifteen years under his 
unexecuted death sentence, the headsman's axe 
would have fallen earlier than it did. 

But while Delia Bacon thoroughly believed that 




46 DELIA BACON. 

such a worthy coterie, and not the unworthy 
player, produced the Elizabethan drama, and hid 
in it the philosophy which it would have been fatal 
to publish openly ; and while she was no less sure 
that in some cryptic form there was truth involved 
in these works which was yet to be surrendered to 
faithful and intelligent study, it is scant justice to 
her memory to say, that, as the mere authorship of 
the plays was to her but a small part of the truth 
concerning them, so she never devoted herself to 
whims or fancies about capital letters, or irregular 
pagination, or acrostics, or anagrams, as conceal- 
ing yet expressing the great philosophy which the 
plays inclosed. Her mind, it now appears, was 
already overwrought; before many months it 
gave way completely ; but its unsoundness, when- 
ever it may have begun, never assumed that form. 



VIL 

It is not easy — and perhaps it is not important 
— to determine just when disbelief in the accepted 
authorship of the Shakspere plays established itself 
absolutely in her mind. Certainly in 1852, while 
she was delivering her instruction in Cambridge 
with singular success, she had startled some of 
those who knew her best by her audacious utter- 
ances on the subject. To Mrs. Professor Farrar, 
whose reminiscences have been already quoted, 1 
she then expressed a desire to visit England, not, 
it seems, for historical study, but, as Mrs. Farrar 
remembers, " to obtain proof of the truth of her 
theory that Shakspere did not write the plays at- 
tributed to him." The intimations thus thrown 
out met, indeed, only with compassionate discour- 
agement there. The two or three ladies who alone 
seem to have heard them were wholly without 
sympathy for them, and regarding them even as 
indications that might in time become monomania, 
sedulously avoided all speech with her upon the 
subject thereafter. 

In the same year, 1852, however, she entered 
upon an acquaintance and correspondence which 

1 Supra, pp. 28-30. 



48 DELIA BACON. 

acted far otherwise upon her fancy and her pur- 
poses and hopes than the chilling avoidance of the 
subject by the two or three ladies of Cambridge, 
friends and admirers though they were. Just by 
what formality of introduction she first communi- 
cated with Ralph Waldo Emerson does not appear ; 
but Cambridge was not far from Concord, even 
upon the map ; and it was still nearer in spirit, at 
least in those days. The letter with which she 
opened correspondence, if it existed, would be her 
earliest writing on the subject. It must have been 
just before the 12th of June, 1852; but as in Au- 
gust she asks him to return it to her, speaking of it 
as a " voluminous note," it is not among her other 
letters to Emerson. 1 The answer to it, however, 
was certainly not such as to silence or repel her. 

Concord, 12 June, 1852. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — Your letter was duly 
received, and its contents deserved better leisure 
and apprehension than I have at once been able to 
command. The only alternative was to let it wait 
a little, for a good hour. And now I write, only 
that I may assure you it has been received and 
is appreciated. In the office to which you have 
in the contingency appointed me, of critic, I am 

1 1 beg leave to acknowledge the courtesy of Mr. Emerson's family, 
and of his literary executor, Mr. J. Elliot Cabot, in delivering to me 
all Miss Bacon's letters to him, neatly folded and docketed by his 
own hand, and in formally acquiescing in the publication of all his 
letters to her, after inspection of copies of them. — T. B. 



DELIA BACON. 49 

deeply gratified to observe the power of state- 
ment and the adequateness to the problem, which 
this sketch of your argument evinces. Indeed, I 
value these fine weapons far above any special use 
they may be put to. And you will have need of 
enchanted instruments, nay, alchemy itself, to 
melt into one identity these two reputations (shall 
I call them ?) the poet and the statesman, both 
hitherto solid historical figures. If the cipher ap- 
prove itself so real and consonant to you, it will to 
all, and is not only material but indispensable to 
your peace. And it would seem best that so radi- 
cal a revolution should be proclaimed with great 
compression in the declaration, and the real 
grounds pretty rapidly set forth, a good ground 
in each chapter, and preliminary generalities quite 
omitted. For there is an immense presumption 
against us which is to be annihilated by battery as 
fast as possible. And now for the execution of 
the design. If you will send me your first chap- 
ter, I will at once make my endeavor to put it 
into the best channel I can find, " Blackwood " or 
" Fraser " I think the best. But this, taking it for 
granted that you decide on trying your fortune 
in a magazine first, — which, I suppose, is fame, 
rather than fortune. On most accounts, the eligi- 
ble way is, as I think, the book or brochure, pub- 
lished simultaneously in England and here. I am 
not without good hope of accepting your kind in- 
vitation to visit you in Cambridge, though I very 



50 DELIA BACON. 

rarely get so far from home, where I am detained 
by a truly ridiculous complication of cobwebs. 
With great respect, yours faithfully, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Miss Bacon. 

P. S. What is the allusion in the "Literary 
World " of last week to criticism on Shakespeare ? 
Does it touch us, or some other ? 

What the " theory " was which had been set 
forth in the missing first letter can be determined 
only inferentially. But though it would seem 
from an expression in the foregoing letter to have 
emphasized especially the supposed relation of 
Bacon to the plays, it is fair to believe that her 
theory was here, as everywhere in her writing 
and speaking afterwards, a theory of plural author- 
ship, so far as mere authorship was concerned. 
This is her next letter, so far as appears, to Emer- 
son: 

Cambridge, August 4 [1852]. 

Dear Sir, — Confirmations of my theory, which 
I did not expect to find on this side of the water, 
have turned up since my last communication to 
you, in the course of my researches in the libra- 
ries here and in Boston. But I am going to leave 
Cambridge in a few days, and if it is not too much 
trouble, I wish you would be so kind as to inclose 
to me, by the next mail, my voluminous note to 
you on this subject. I think it is possible that I 



DELIA BACON. 51 

may be able to make some use of it, while I am 
quite sure of its being good for nothing to you. 
Very truly yours, Delia S. Bacon. 

Mr. R. W. Emerson. 

But while she was forming such new and help- 
ful friendships as this one, kindly tolerant, if not 
more, of her great idea, she was finding, as she 
thought, foes of her own household. A letter to 
her oldest brother, dated that same month, makes 
it plain that she had broached her theory to him 
also ; that his grave, cool judgment had refused to 
entertain it, and that frankly and with force, as 
his nature was, he had so declared, dissuading her 
from cherishing it, as a delirious fancy. But his 
remonstrances had only the effect to estrange her, 
for the few remaining years of her life, from that 
relative who had always been her most helpful, 
judicious, and affectionate friend. 

From the village of Cuba, in Western New 
York, where she was visiting a sister, she wrote to 
Emerson, September 30, 1852 : 

"It is certainly very extraordinary that the 
generous expressions of sympathy and interest 
which your last two letters contain should remain 
so long unacknowledged, and that, too, when I 
have all the time been so deeply sensible of the 
kindness which dictated them. ... I know very 
well what a presuming step it was to intrude 



52 DELIA BACON. 

these speculations upon such time as yours, and 
what an embarrassing responsibility it was to 
throw upon one so preoccupied. For I suppose 
that no previous familiarity with the Shakespeare 
writings would qualify one to decide this question 
satisfactorily without much revision and scrutiny, 
not only of these works themselves, but of all that 
appertains to the subject. I think most persons 
in these circumstances would have dismissed the 
question without much consideration ; and I do not 
believe there is any one else in the world who 
could have met it, under all the disadvantages 
which attended its introduction to you, as you 
have done, — with such brave decision, — with 
such generous discrimination. ... I have been 
constantly wishing and intending to adopt your 
suggestion in reference to a summary statement 
on the subject, but since the arrival of this last 
quite unexpected proof of your regard I have not 
been well enough to accomplish even this. 

" I had intended to remain here in this rude 
little town, which you never heard of before I 
suppose, until I had quite finished the statement I 
had before commenced, for I have a sister here, 
whose home, be it where it will, is always mine. 
But I find I cannot persist in this resolution, for 
it would be merely suicidal. This study is so very 
absorbing, and it consigns me to such complete 
solitude, that I find all my progress in it is made 
at a most ruinous expense to my life and health ; 



DELTA BACON. 53 

while those which I pursue with my classes have 
just the contrary effect upon me. Indeed but for 
this resource I think I should have died long ago. 
I cannot tell you with what reluctance I relinquish 
it again. My only consolation is that I cannot 
help it. The choice is not mine. I am not dis- 
couraged, but sometimes I think if I can only 
succeed in committing the work effectually to 
stronger hands it is all I ought to think of. 

" In the course of my researches last summer I 
found, quite unexpectedly, a very clear historical 
basis for the conclusions which my Shakspere 
study had forced upon me. I found, too, the most 
astounding corroborations, to the minutest partic- 
ulars, of new versions of contemporary events, 
which I had rejected in the cipher, on account of 
their disagreement with what I supposed to be 
well authenticated historic fact. Be assured, 
dear sir, there is no possibility of a doubt as to the 
main points of my theory. What was wrong in it 
came from my attempts to patch over, and recon- 
cile with what I knew before, things which seemed 
to me impossible. Whether I live to accomplish 
it, or not, a little investigation in the right direc- 
tion will demonstrate that these marvelous phenom- 
ena, so unlike all other human works, are after 
all not wholly miraculous — not of the air merely. 
Properly traced, according to that law of investi- 
gation which requires causes for effects, they will 
prove the index to a piece of history which glis- 



54 DELIA BACON. 

tens out even now very plainly from the contem- 
porary historical documents, though it has not yet 
found its way into the story constructed from 
them. . . . Most gratefully yours, 

Delia S. Bacon." 

At the close of the following November she be- 
gan, at the Stuyvesant Institute in New York, a 
course of historical instruction — " lessons, rather 
than lectures " — to ladies. A copy of the printed 
prospectus, with commendations from Washington 
Irving and George Bancroft among others, is 
found carefully indorsed and preserved among 
Emerson's papers. This was followed, upon 
most flattering solicitation, by a similar course of 
evening lessons at the same place, on " The Ori- 
gin of the Oriental Element in our Civilization " ; 
and to this, gentlemen, as well as ladies, were 
admitted. Upon like invitation from Brooklyn 
a series of lessons began there, " at Professor 
Gray's Lecture Room, 90 Montague Place," Feb- 
ruary 17, 1853 ; and when this ended, her life 
among men and women was closed. 

In the midst of this, however, there are signs 
that she is intent upon the work to which she was 
prepared to dedicate what remained to her of life 
and strength. Among the warmest and most ad- 
miring of the friends she had made at Boston and 
Cambridge was Miss Elizabeth P. Peabody, whose 
sister was the wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is 



DELIA BACON. 55 

to her that the following note, which soon found 
its way to the subject of it, was addressed. 

Concord, 26 March, 1853. 

Dear Miss Peabody, — I send you a letter for 
Mr. Putnam, which, if you like, you shall send, if 
you dislike, and want another, you shall burn, and 
tell me so. I talked with Hawthorne who did not 
seem to think that he was the person ; but if Miss 
Bacon would really come to Concord, and board 
with Mrs. Adams, as, I doubt not, is practicable, 
we would make him listen, and she should make 
him believe. With my kindest salutations and 
respects to Miss Bacon, your ever obliged servt. 

R. W. Emerson. 

At the end of this letter Mr. Emerson adds : 
" I can really think of nothing that could give 
such eclat to a magazine as this brilliant paradox." 



VIII. 

If there were none of her own blood to receive 
with favor the strange notions which she had now 
begun to avow, there was elsewhere no lack of 
sympathy, encouragement, and aid. To Mrs. Farrar 
she had already intimated her strong desire to pros- 
ecute in England researches in support of her 
hypothesis which would be impossible elsewhere. 
The help, indispensable for this purpose, which her 
own family neither could nor, to her strong resent- 
ment, would afford was offered during her last 
season of instruction in New York by a gentleman 
of large wealth and high standing in every way, 
whose name, however, was long unknown to her 
relatives, Mr. Charles Butler. 

On the 2d of April, 1853, she announced to her 
brother, in a letter of not unkindly tone, her ex- 
pectation of " going to England as soon as I can 
get myself ready," but with no intimation of her 
purpose in going, or of the source of her means for 
going. " All that I can say is that the money I 
appropriate to that object could not be honorably 
appropriated to any other. I have ample means 
placed at my disposal, and shall go so supported as 
to be able to command whatever attention I may 




DELIA BACON. 57 

need. ... I cannot tell how long I shall be absent ; 
perhaps five or six months. My plans do not reach 
beyond England at present." 

Emerson's letter to Mr. Putnam the publisher, 
over which he had given Miss Peabody such broad 
discretion, she had evidently " liked " and " sent." 
For on the 14th of April Delia Bacon wrote to 
Emerson from Brooklyn : " Your letter to Mr. Put- 
nam was all that I could have desired. It was in- 
deed most truly kind. I cannot be satisfied with- 
out attempting to thank you for it, but I do not 
know how to do it adequately. I can only hope 
that you will find your generous interest in the 
subject justified by the result." And then she 
shows him how his letter to Mr. Putnam, and Mr. 
Putnam's proposal induced by it, — a proposal, in- 
deed, which she had felt obliged to decline, — had 
so impressed a friend that he had resolved to 
provide her with the means for her journey. 
Emerson's answer and the letter of farewell that 
followed her to the steamer are these : 

Concord, 13 April, 1853. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — I was cordially grati- 
fied by the good news your note contained, that 
you were going forward with your studies, and 
really decided to prosecute them in England ; and 
I was not a little flattered by being made however 
accidentally and insignificantly a party to the 
transaction. I am glad also that you will trust me 

«„«„, 



58 DELIA BACON. 

farther with insights of your results. By all means, 
let it be so ! And, by all means do you go forward 
to the speediest completion ! Now let me not fail 
of my communication. I grieve very often — 
seldom so much as now — at the disheartening 
infirmities and invalidity of my wife, which makes 
it most part of the time quite out of question to 
invite any worthy mortal to visit my house. I do 
not know that I can come to New York, — and 
yet I am not sure but I shall make the time to do 
so, if there is no other way. But, if you are coming 
to Boston or Cambridge before your departure, 
have the goodness to apprise me now of the fact, 
and when, and where. In assured hope and with 
constant respect, Yours, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Miss Bacon. 

Concord, 12 May, 1853. 
My dear Miss Bacon, — I wrote to Sumner, 
but have as yet no answer. Perhaps he has 
directed his answer, as I suggested, to Mr. Butler. 
I enclose a letter to Mr. Martineau, to whom, if 
you have good opportunity, I think I would frankly 
open the general design of your inquiries ; but you 
will judge best on seeing him. I send a letter 
also for Carlyle, to find Spedding. I think I will 
write myself again to Carlyle, as I shall need, per- 
haps, in a few days. I enclose a letter to John 
Chapman. Perhaps you will find his house a good 



DELIA BACON. 59 

home for you, in London. I took rooms and board 
there, and was well accommodated. 

I have not yet written, for want of time and a 
little mountain to get over to write to him, — to 
Helps. Leave me your London address, and I 
will yet write. Mrs. Emerson is mortified at her 
heedlessness in putting you to sleep in a chamber 
certain to be disturbed by too-early-rising washers 
in the night. She never remembered it would be 
so, nor thought of it till next day. But Fare well 
and fare gloriously ! With best hope, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Miss Bacon. 

On the 14th of May, 1853, she sailed from New 
York in the steamer " Pacific," and arrived in Liv- 
erpool on the Queen's birthday, the 24th. 



IX. 

England must have been a very strange land 
to the lonely woman who then first touched its 
shore. In almost five years which she afterwards 
passed there she did but little to enlarge her 
acquaintance. Of the letters of introduction which 
she bore, some are found unused among her 
papers : as one to Arthur Helps, from Emerson ; 
one to Sir Henry Ellis, principal Librarian of the 
British Museum ; one (from Edward Everett) to 
Mr. A. Panizzi, chief of the Printed Book Depart- 
ment. But she was not long, after going at once 
to London, in beginning, by the help of one of 
Emerson's letters, the friendship with Carlyle and 
his wife, which was to bring her much kindness and 
comfort in her solitude. This seems to be an 
answer to the letter of introduction : 

5 Gt. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 8 June, 1853. 

My dear Madam, — Will you kindly dispense 
with the ceremony of being called on (by sickly 
people, in this hot weather), and come to us on 
Friday evening to tea at 7. I will try to secure 
Mr. Spedding at the same time ; and we will delib- 
erate what is to be done in your Shakspere afiliir. 



DELIA BACON. 61 

A river steamer will bring you within a gunshot 
of us. You pronounce " Chainie " Row ; and get 
out at Cadogan Pier, which is your first landing 

place in Chelsea. Except Mrs. C. and the 

chance of Spedding, there will be nobody here. 
Yours very sincerely, 

T. Carlyle. 



And this followed it at no long interval : 



Chelsea, 14 June, 1853. 

My dear Madam, — Mr. Collier, it seems, does 
not habitually reside in Town at present ; but 
comes from time to time. If you forward the 
inclosed Note to him, merely adjoining your own 
card with your address on it, I am given to expect 
he will appoint some day to call on you, and have 
some talk about the Shakspere affair. I do not 
know Mr. Collier ; the writer of that Note is John 
Forster (Editor of the "Examiner," &c, &c), a 
friend of his and mine. 

Richard Monckton Milnes, of whom you may 
have heard, wishes to see your Paper on Shak- 
spere which is now in my hands ; if you give me 
permission, I will send it to him ; not otherwise. 

My "Wife reports the finding of a beautiful 
Pockethandkerchief which was left by you here ; 
she keeps it safe against your return to us, — not 
a distant date, as we hope. Any day at 3 p. m., 
(or most days), I am to be found here ; my wife, 



62 DELTA BACON. 

on fine days, is not certain, I apprehend, after 1 
p.m.; and very generally in the evenings we 
are quietly at home. Believe me, Dear Madam, 
Yours very sincerely, 

T. Carlyle. 

Some account of the visit invited by Carlyle's 
letter of June 8, and referred to in that of the 
14th, is given with familiar confidence to her sis- 
ter, under date of several weeks later. 

" My visit to Mr. Carlyle was very rich. I wish 
you could have heard him laugh. Once or twice 
I thought he would have taken the roof of the 
house off. At first they were perfectly stunned — 
he and the gentleman he had invited to meet me. 
They turned black in the face at my presumption. 
1 Do you mean to say,' so and so, said Mr. Carlyle, 
with his strong emphasis ; and I said that I did ; 
and they both looked at me with staring eyes, 
speechless for want of words in which to convey 
their sense of my audacity. At length Mr. Car- 
lyle came down on me with such a volley. I did 
not mind it the least. I told him he did not know 
what was in the Plays if he said that, and no one 
could know who believed that that booby wrote 
them. It was then that he began to shriek. You 
could have heard him a mile. I told him too that 
I should not think of questioning his authority in 
such a case if it were not with me a matter of 



DELIA BACON. 63 

knowledge. I did not advance it as an opinion. 
They began to be a little moved with my coolness 
at length, and before the meeting was over they 
agreed to hold themselves in a state of readiness 
to receive what I had to say on the subject. I 
left my introductory statement with him. In the 
course of two or three days he wrote to me to ask 
permission to show my paper to Mr. Monckton 
Milnes, who had expressed a wish to see it, invit- 
ing me to come there again very soon. He told 
me I had left a beautiful handkerchief there which 
Mrs. Carlyle would keep till I came. He also 
enclosed to me a letter of introduction to Mr. Col- 
lier, which he had taken the pains to obtain for 
me from another literary gentleman. I have not 
yet sent it. That was five weeks ago." 

[Carlyle to D. B.] 

Chelsea, 12 August, 1853. 

My dear Madam, — Here is the Panizzi letter, 
which I did not shew to Milnes, as quite superflu- 
ous in his actual state of knowledge about you ; 
and will now return to avoid risks of losing it. 

I yesterday delivered your Paper to Parker the 
Publisher of " Fraser's Magazine," — with such a 
testimony about it as you desired ; name, country, 
sex, all is left dark ; and Parker's free judgment 
of the MSS., " Fit for * Fraser,' or not fit ? " is the 
one thing he is requested to deliberate upon, and 
then pronounce to us. You, of course, shall 



64 DELIA BACON. 

hear of it the instant it arrives here ; which ought 
to be in some two or three weeks ; probably 
early next month, for I think the September No. 
must be already made up and in the Printer's 
hands. We will not anticipate his verdict ; he is a 
clever little fellow {our " clever," and yours too, I 
believe) ; and his voice will in some considerable 
degree represent for us that of the " reading 
public" of England. 

On Wednesday I forgot to say that the printed 
Harley MSS. Catalogue, which I spoke of your 
buying, lies for consultation on its table in the 
Museum; and that you can examine it to all 
lengths, either as a preliminary or as a final meas- 
ure. If you can find in that mass of English 

records (the main collection that exists) any docu- 
ment tending to confirm your Shakspere theory, 
it will be worth all the reasoning in the world, and 
will certainly surprise all men. 

Finally come and see us, whenever it is not dis- 
agreeable, — without misgiving, in spite of nerves ! 
Almost every evening we are both of us at home 
(tea at 7) ; and at 3 any day I am visible here. 

Believe me, Dear Madam, 

Yours very sincerely, T. Carlyle. 

The impression made by this lonely stranger on 
Carlyle is not to be learned from his letters to her 
alone. In September of this year he wrote thus 
to her introducer, Emerson : u As for Miss Bacon, 



DELIA BACON. 65 

we find her, with her modest shy dignity, with her 
solid character and strange enterprise, a real ac- 
quisition ; and hope we shall now see more of her, 
now that she has come nearer to us to lodge. I 
have not in my life seen anything so tragically 
quixotic as her Shakspere enterprise ; alas, alas, 
there can be nothing but sorrow, toil, and utter 
disappointment in it for her! I do cheerfully 
what I can, — which is far more than she asks of 
me (for I have not seen a prouder silent soul) ; but 
there is not the least possibility of truth in the 
notion she has taken up ; and the hope of ever 
proving it, or finding the least document that 
countenances it, is equal to that of vanquishing 
the windmills by stroke of lance. I am often truly 
sorry about the poor lady; but she troubles 
nobody with her difficulties, with her theories ; she 
must try the matter to the end, and charitable 
souls must further her so far." l 

There is little among her papers to show where 
she was living during this year, 1853, except that 
it was in London, and in lodgings to which the 
friendly guidance of George Peabody had directed 
her. She changed them indeed, as this next letter 
shows ; and, with the almost fierce pride which was 
innate to her, was so far from presuming upon the 
affectionate hospitality which the Carlyles were 
urging upon her, that she did not even tell them 
of her removals. 

1 Correspondence of Carlyle and Emerson, vol. ii. 228-9. 



66 DELIA BACON. 

The Grange, Alresford, Hants, 
(The Lord Ashburton's), 10 December, 1853. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — We are here since Mon- 
day, on a visit, and are not to be in Chelsea again 
till Christmas pass. 

Some days before leaving, I received from Par- 
ker a Parcel, with which his man appeared to have 
tried first at your old Chelsea lodging; my ad- 
dress had then been put upon the cover ; it con- 
tained your MS. and an open letter to Miss Bacon, 
full of the due civility, admiring, regretting, &c, 
and in fine returning the offered Paper. As you 
say, he might have decided sooner ! I found that 
the smallest urging on my part would have made 
him insert the Piece ; but this you had prohibited ; 
nor do I know that it was any way desirable ; at 
any rate, here now is his decision, and with him 
we have done. Not knowing your new address, 
I locked the Parcel into a safe place ; and there, 
were Christmas over, it will lie awaiting your con- 
venience, and can be sent at any time. 

I am sorry to hear from my wife of your head- 
aches and distresses in that solitary place; I hope 
you will appear again some morning soon after 
our return, and shew Chelsea that those were but 
temporary clouds. Pray be not so shy of us! 
We cannot much help you, indeed ; but there is 
no want of will, were a possibility offered. 
Believe me always, 

Yours sincerely, T. Carltle. 



DELIA BACON. 67 

On the last day of November, 1853, she took 
lodgings at St. Albans, attracted, no doubt, by its 
association with the great Chancellor, to whom it 
gave a title and a tomb. It was during her stay 
there that she sought through Sir Edward Bulwer 
Lytton, as a note from him indicates, an introduc- 
tion to Lord Verulam. As the bearer of that title 
was then not a Bacon but a Grimston, there 
would seem to have been little help from him to 
be hoped for. Carlyle's friendly mindfulness of 
her and his keen apprehension of the methods by 
which she was evolving and maintaining her hy- 
pothesis appear from a letter of his to Emerson, 
April 8, 1854 : " Miss Bacon has fled away to St. 
Albans (the Great Bacon's place) five or six 
months ago ; and is there working out her Shak- 
spere Problem, from the depths of her own mind, 
disdainful apparently, or desperate and careless, 
of all evidence from Museums or Archives ; I have 
not had an answer from her since before Christ- 
mas, and have now lost her address. Poor Lady ! 
I sometimes silently wish she were safe home 
again ; for truly there can no madder enterprise 
than her present one be well figured." l 

This prolongation of her stay abroad was be- 
yond her own original reckoning, or that of her 
friends. At midsummer her generous patron put 
at her disposal a sum ample to pay what she owed 
and to bring her home. But her work was not 

1 Correspondence, etc., vol. ii. 240, 241. 



68 DELIA BACON. 

done. At the end of September she wrote from 
St. Albans to Emerson that her work was prosper- 
ing, and telling how she managed to stay. " I am 
enabled to stay here so long, in consequence of 
having reduced my expenses as soon as I resolved 
upon this course. The money that I brought 
with me, which was supposed to be only enough 
for the first summer, was spun out by this process 
till the close of the second ; and now that I have 
begun to encroach upon the very ample sum al- 
lotted for my return, I am more prudent than 
ever. But I do not know that there will be any 
need of it for that purpose, and I am living here 
as economically as I could in America ; and as I 
think only of finishing my work, and have no 
other future, and this is enough and more than 
enough for that purpose, I do not see why I 
should spend so large a sum merely for the sake 
of being in America. Not that it is not the best 
country in the world, — but ' there 's livers out of 
it,' and I don't forget that I heard Margaret Ful- 
ler's friends conclude among themselves that the 
storm which dashed her on its rocks, and pre- 
vented the chance of her landing among them, 
was a merciful dispensation of Providence. I 
have some beloved friends there, but my life was 
finished some time ago in every other respect but 
this, and as this is the world's work and not mine 
that I am doing, I suppose the expense of it will 
have to be paid in some way. 



DELIA BACON. 69 

" So I do not trouble myself about it, and am as 
happy as the day is long, and only wish I lived in 
Herschel or Jupiter or some of those larger worlds, 
where it would not be time to go to bed just as 
one gets fairly awake, and begins to be in earnest 
a little. I have lived here nearly a year, and 
have not spoken to one of the natives yet, except 
by accident, but I have not felt my solitude. It 
has been a year of sunshine with me ; the harvest 
of many years of toil and weeping. I cannot tell 
you what pleasures I have had here. This poor 
perturbed spirit, that had left its work undone, 
and would not leave me alone till it had brought 
me here, seems satisfied at last. My work has 
ceased to be burdensome to me ; I find in it a rest 
such as no one else can ever know, I think, except 
in heaven. But that is not saying that the world 
will be pleased with it. I hope it will not disap- 
point the expectation of those who have made 
themselves responsible for it, in any manner ; and, 
above all, I hope that you will like it, and will 
have no occasion to regret the noble concern you 
have taken in it. 

" It has been a great and constant help to me 
to have two such friends as yourself and Carlyle 
interested in it. Carlyle is as good and kind as 
he can be. He is very much troubled about my 
being here so long alone." 

At the time this was written she was agrain, 
after an interval, putting herself in communica- 



70 DELIA BACON. 

tion with the Carlyles, as the following letter 
shows. 

Chelsea, 4 October, 1854. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — We are very glad to hear 
of you again, and that you are doing well, and 
getting that wild jungle of sticks victoriously tied 
into fagots. That is a right success, due to all 
faithful workers, and which nobody can deprive 
one of. 

My wife cannot by any means recollect the 
least particular of Mrs. Spring's address at Hamp- 
stead, though she was once there, and saw the 
place with her eyes. However, she assures ine it 
would have done nothing for your present enter- 
prise ; it was a place let (ani urnished with servants) 
as a whole house ; was very dear, and also (as is 
thought) very dirty, — not at all like w T hat you 
require. Other lodgings, no doubt, are abundant 
in Hampstead, especially at this season of the 
year; but neither of us here knows specially of 
any, nor can Jane bethink her just at once of any 
person whom she could confidently consult on the 
matter. — I myself do, at this moment, call to mind 
a certain Mrs. Dr. Wilkinson, an accomplished 
American lady withal, and wife of an accom- 
plished and truly superior man, who lives in that 
neighborhood, not quite in Hampstead, but on this 
side of it, — to whom I would offer you an intro- 
duction if you went towards that region. Hamp- 
stead is very airy, and has still a set of silent 



DELIA BACON. 71 

country walks, though the Bricklayer is fearfully 
busy there too in these last years ; you could have 
no real difficulty in getting a cleanly, honest, and 
tolerable lodging there ; the worst fault I know is 
that of the water ; very hard, all of it, from the 
chalk ; which fault, however, applies only to the 
Hill, or Old Village, as I suppose ? Nay, indeed 
there is no pure water to be had in this big Baby- 
lon itself, for all its wealth and faculty ; the Queen 
herself has to drink dirty water (as I often think) 
when she favors us with her company, — so ex- 
tremely wise a set of " successful men " are we 

hitherto in these parts. Of lodgings about 

Chelsea, or indeed, in all quarters urban and sub- 
urban, Jane thinks there can be no doubt of ample 
choice on every hand ; and she will very gladly 
give help whenever you embark on such a search. 
Her notion, in which I entirely agree, is at pres- 
ent, That whenever you decide on a removal you 
are simply to leave your things all packed at St. 
Albans, and come off at once to the vacant room I 
told you of as waiting to welcome you here, — 
therefrom to institute whatever search your fancy 
and judgment point to, under the favourablest 
auspices. This really is the wisest, and also the 
easiest; confess that it is, you of little faith, 
and do it. 1 was just going out (by appoint- 
ment) yesterday when your letter came ; could 
not write till now. 

Yours very truly, dear Miss B., 

T. CABLYLV. 



72 DELIA BACON. 

The letter without date which follows seems to 
have been written at the holiday season of 1854-5. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I would go, with all the 
pleasure in life, to answer your letter in person, 
but the news that you are laid up "finds me in the 
same " (as the maidservants write). I have been 
having a bad cold, off and on, for the last two 
months ; and gone on trying to put it down par 
vive force till finally it put down me. These last 
two weeks I have been confined to my room, and 

sometimes to bed. 1 am getting better now 

however, and hope to be what is called " about " 
again next week. 

We have not been out of town this season. Mr. 
C. is dreadfully busy with his " Frederick," who I 

beg into wish had never been born. He, Mr. 

C, is never out but for a hurried walk after dark ; 
he declined the usual Christmas visit to the Ash- 
burtons. I was to have gone, however, this very 
day — to the Grange — on my own basis for a 
month — but the meeting of Parliament has been 
the means under Providence of putting off the 
party till the 19th of this month — otherwise I 
must have given it up altogether. We shall see 
how the world looks by the 19th — but in any 
case I hope to see you liere or there before then. 
Yours truly, 

Saturday. JANE CaRLYLE. 

5 Cheynk Row. 



DELIA BACON. 73 

These were busy days with her. If nothing 
else showed it, the paucity of her letters during 
these many months would. Until late in the fol- 
lowing March, this next is the only one which 
appears, either to her or from her. 

Concord, Mass., November 20, 1854. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — I am heartily grieved 
— but it is past help — at my silence and delays. 
There can be no forgiveness for it. I have had 
both your letters, and made ineffectual attempts 
to answer both. I was very happy to read the 
good news, which both contained, of your studies 
and enjoyments. And I heard collaterally from 
Carlyle, of his goodwill and respect. The state- 
ments in your last letter especially engage my 
interest, and it seems most honorable and most 
useful, — that which you say, that you can live 
and study in England for no more than it would 
cost in America, and that the supplies for one 
summer can be spun out to serve for two. I can 
hardly refrain from publishing the fact in the 
newspapers, for the benefit of all scholars. That 
your readings prosper, and that you confirm your- 
self in your conviction, is also good news; for, 
though I think your hypothesis more incredible 
than the improbable traditions (and unexplained) 
it would supplant, yet you cannot maintain any 
side without shedding li^ht on the first of all 
literary problems. Carlyle, too, I found, with 



74 DELIA BACON. 

decided interest and respect, had no faith in the 
paradox. I went to Phillips & Sampson the last 
time I was in town to engage their interest in the 
book. They considered it a promising enterprise, 
but could not think of it for themselves, and the 
better the book should be they said the worse for 
them. For they have several " firstrate " books, 
as they call them, now in press, or just out of 
press, and are afraid of a good book as likely to 
damage these ! do not wish to stand in their own 
light, or overlay their own children. I went to 
Ticknor & Fields, but with no better success. 
They are afraid, if I understand it, of a literary 
book, and answer steadily, " any time but now," 
as if now nothing but Russia, Australia, and 
Romance would have any attraction. These two 
are the best here, and I hesitate a little about the 
next step; yet shall take another. If you are 
sure of the book, you may easily be sure of a pub- 
lisher. I beg you will write me once more (not- 
withstanding my ill deserts) that it is ready, or 
that it will soon be, and when and how large it will 
be. I think of applying to Mr. J. C. Derby, of 
New York, of whom I hear much good. I meant 
to print my own tardy MSS. speculations on Eng- 
land in this month, but I doubt and delay. I am 
however extremely busy. With all congratula- 
tion and good hope, 

R. W. Emerson. 




DELIA BACON. 75 

For eleven months, until the beginning of No- 
vember, 1854, she remained at St. Albans, pursu- 
ing her work with exhausting eagerness. For 
the next month she was at Hatfield, redolent of 
Elizabethan memories, ten miles beyond St. Al- 
bans ; and thence, at the beginning of December, 
she returned to London, " driven here," as she 
wrote to her sister, " by the terrible discomforts of 
those wretched country houses in winter.'' At 
Hatfield, she says (writing January 12, 1855), " I 
found it was uniformly colder in my room than it 
was out of doors in the daytime. The thermom- 
eter could not have been at all above 50. My 
hands and feet were aching and stiff with the 
cold, but since I have been here I have hardly 
known what the sensation was." 

" Carlyle has been here to see me, though I am 
miles from him, to invite me to his house. I was 
out when he came, but he left word with the ser- 
vant, and there was no alternative but for me to 
go, and it was very very pleasant. I went at five 
o'clock and stayed to dinner and tea, till eleven, 
and Carlyle spent all the time with us, though he 
is extremely busy now, finishing his i Life of Fred- 
eric' the Second, and refuses all invitations. I 
have real cosy pleasant times when I go there, but 
I am most heartily glad I have no other acquaint- 
ances here ; they would torment me to death." 

Then, after some account of the manner in 
which she had been working, she proceeds : " If 



76 DELIA BACON. 

I had known, perhaps, when I was in America, 
how it w T ould be exactly, and that I should have 
this book to write first of all, I might have felt 
tempted to stay with you and try to do it. But I 
don't think I could ever have written it there. I 
think the mere fact of my being here has had a 
great deal to do with my success. I have done 
what it seemed utterly impossible for me to do at 
home, — what I tried in vain to do there. My 
summer at Cambridge was wasted in vain efforts. 
I knew not how to relieve myself of this great 
responsibility. Think, if you can, what it is to feel 
that I am delivering myself from it at last, that 
here in this land of my fathers God has at last 
given me the utterance that I have all my life 
lacked, and that this great secret, in which the 
welfare of mankind is concerned, will not perish 
with me for want of the means of telling it. To 
go on with it, calmly and patiently, to work away 
at it, day after day, and year after year, as if it were 
the merest piece of ordinary drudgery, and without 
sympathy or counsel, that is what I have had to 
do, and what I thought I never could do at first. 
I would have given anything to have had you 
with me at times ; indeed, there have been mo- 
ments when I have felt that I could not endure it 
to the end. For you know what kind of health I 
had to undertake it with." 

" On the 16 th of this month I shall begin on my 
last hundred dollars, not without some misgiv- 

m 3 






*4f« 



DELIA BACON. 77 

ings ; and if I were sure of being able to get into 
any spot where I should not lose in time more than 
I should gain in the difference of price I would go 
at once to cheaper lodgings. But every change 
costs me so much time I am afraid to stir." 

The letter which follows is to Emerson; and, 
like the one from which these last quotations are 
made, is dated at " 12 Spring St., Sussex Gardens, 
Hyde Park, London, March" [24, 1855]. It 
covers eight pages in her fine, compact, yet very 
legible handwriting, and gives a full account of 
what she has been doing and what she hopes to do. 
" The volume," she says, " which was to have been 
finished in December, was merely a history of the 
great work I have undertaken to interpret. But 
it was a history which contained the key of that 
interpretation. The particular application of it, 
in the exposition of the plays, was reserved for a 
future volume. I intended to have the history in 
one book, and the criticism in another." She pro- 
ceeds to tell how " criticism " had grown and over- 
mastered her ; how especially " Coriolanus " had 
thrust himself into her work in spite of her ; but 
also how, although her historical work was thus 
diminished in proportion, the criticisms " serve to 
put the discovery on the most solid ground, and 
leave no room for any doubt in any mind. They 
put it where it is henceforth independent of further 
historical corroboration." 

Then, having thus justified to Emerson what 




UP 



78 DELIA BACON. 

Carlyle had already written to him of her seem- 
ing disdain " of all evidence from Museums or 
Archives," she proceeds to discuss arrangements 
with publishers in the two countries. As for 
America, Emerson had undertaken the burden of 
managing for her, so that the discussion was prop- 
erly full and detailed. " I cannot satisfy myself," 
she says, " as to the title. I wish you would help 
me a little. I send you my last attempt." [It is 
on a separate leaf : 

(Age.) 
" Francis Bacon and his (Stage.) 
or, 
The New Philosophy. 
Including also the History of Sir Walter Ra- 
leigh and his connection with ' the Globe ' The- 
atre, together with a brief account of Shakspere 
the Player. 

"All the world's a stage."] 

" If I should call it < The New Magic ' as I 
should like to, the work would sustain the title, but 
it might seem fanciful to one who has not read it, 
or read the ' Advancement of Learning,' and I wish 
to avoid any appearance of that kind." 

It was upon reading this letter that Emerson, on 
the 17th of April, 1855, wrote thus to Carlyle : * 
" Miss Bacon sends me word, again and again, of 
your goodness. Against hope and sight she must 
be making a remarkable book. I have a letter 

1 Correspondence, vol. ii. 244. 




DELIA BACON. 79 

from her, a few days ago, written in perfect assur- 
ance of success! " 

Nor does any other letter appear before this 
next one from Carlyle with its enclosure. 

Chelsea, 7 June, 1855. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I am very glad you have 
got done with your Book, and are secure of an 
American Publisher on reasonable terms. These 
are two great points ; and we ought to be very 
thankful for these. 

As to an English Publisher, in the present pos- 
ture of affairs, — at least as to getting any pecuni- 
ary profit out of an English Publisher, — I confess 
I foresee difficulty, and (in my bilious mood) am 
not without misgivings. This too, however, is 
part of the problem ; this too you must resolutely 
attempt, and solve to the extent possible. 

Of our Publishers here Longman & Co. (Pater- 
noster Row) are probably the richest; perfectly 
respectable men, who publish a great many Books, 
but have not to my knowledge excelled their con- 
temporaries in detecting genius in MSS. Murray 
(Albemarle Street) is also a great Publisher, son 
of the Murray you used to hear of ; I find him 
often connected with scientific, didactic " Serials," 
as they are called ; Travellers' Handbooks, rail- 
way reading, and the like. Chapman (Chapman & 
Hall, 193 Piccadilly), he and Parker are the only 
two Publishers I have even a slight acquaintance 



80 DELIA BACON. 

with, who seem likely for you. — On the whole, 
all, or very nearly all, our English Publishers will, 
if they undertake, behave with perfect (shop- 
keeper) accuracy to you in fulfilment of their bar- 
gain ; but beyond the high shopkeeper spirit I do 
not know any of them that rises very decisively. 
I have, in late years, had less and less to do with 
any and all of thern ; they will believe that Paper 
that I have written by way of testimony — or at 
least believe it better than they would most men's 
writing (knowing the nature of the beast, that he 
does not lie if he can help it) ; but that is really 
pretty much all I can do ; that and Emerson's 
letter (with some formal Note of Introduction by 
anybody acquainted with a Publisher) will pretty 
much put the man in possession of the case, and 
enable him to decide with his eyes open ; which is 
all we can reasonably want of the poor man. As 
to the formal " Notes of Introduction," except in 
the cases of Parker and Chapman, it seems to be 
probable you are acquainted with persons who can 
do that more appropriately than I, — though cer- 
tainly I too can do it, after a sort, and will cheer- 
fully if you find it needful. 

In conclusion, I will wish you well through this 
final unpleasant part of the business ; and shall be 
very anxious to hear how you get along in it. 

I have been sunk in bottomless " vortexes of Prus- 
sian dust " these many months, my very senses al- 
most choked out of me with that and other mani- 




DELIA BACON. 81 

fold confusions, — bodily health too in general by 
no means above par. Hardly once have I been in 
any direction as far as your street, — and never 
once there (as is too plain ! ) though my wife has 
been often urging. She is in distress about an 
umbrella of yours which was left here ; I could 
have found your street and house with the eye, but 
the name of it I could not communicate to the most 
urgent Helpmate, having forgotten the name ! 

The sooner you come down, through the fine 
Summer weather, and see my wife and self again, 
it will be the better, on several accounts. Except 
Sunday she is not certain to be at home after 1 
p. M. ; but in the evening almost always, or before 
that time in the early day. — Believe me always, 
Dear Miss Bacon, Yours sincerely, 

T. Carlyle. 

[Enclosure.] 

Miss Delia Bacon, an American lady, of much 
worth and earnestness of mind, has devoted a great 
deal of serious study to Shakspere ; and believes 
herself to have made a singular and important dis- 
covery in regard to the history or origin of his 
works. To perfect this discovery, she came over 
to England about two years ago, introduced and 
recommended by some of the best people in Amer- 
ica; and here she has been ever since, working 
in the most earnest unwearied manner to demon- 
strate her idea as to Shakspere's works ; and has 
now completed, after much care and labour, what 
she had to say on that subject. 



82 DELIA BACON. 

An American Publisher has engaged the volume 
for America ; and Miss B., whose residence gives 
her copyright here, wishes to find a Publisher for 
England. 

I have not myself examined or seen Miss B.'s 
present MS. ; but I can freely bear witness in gen- 
eral that she writes in a clear, elegant, ingenious 
and highly readable manner; that she is a per- 
son of definite ideas, of conscientious veracity in 
thought as well as word, and that probably no 
Book written among us during these two years 
has been more seriously elaborated, and in all ways 
made the best of, than this of hers. 

T. Carlyle. 

5 Gt. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 7 June, 1855. 

Soon after this there begin to come in the re- 
turns from the attempts now made to find a pub- 
lisher. In June, a note from John Murray ; in 
July, one from J. W. Parker ; in August, from G. 
P. Putnam of New York, and from Phillips & 
Sampson of Boston. These last make definite pro- 
posals to publish ; but all the rest, with courteous 
but sufficient excuses, decline. The two from the 
American publishers were forwarded by Emerson 
with his letter which follows : 

Concord, August 5, 1855. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — I give you joy on the 
good news you send me of the ending of your 



DELTA BACON. 83 

work. What if it is only the beginning of another, 
it is also the pledge of power to do it I hope and 
trust it is good news for us and all people also. 
And to this end I sent your two letters at once to 
both the Publishers, and enclose to you Mr. Put- 
nam's reply, which, indeed, I anticipated, as know- 
ing he had been long embarrassed in his trade, 
though retaining, I am told, the respect of his 
community. 

In the shortness of the time we have to act in, 
I think it best also to send you Phillips & Samp- 
son's letter ; of which, otherwise, I should only 
send you a summary. I failed to see them, though 
I went to their compting-room. If you go on 
with them, you had better preserve their letter. 
They may seem to you timid, but they are as 
brave as their experience will allow them to be. 
Such is the advertising system under which they 
live, and the giving away of copies to every news- 
paper, that it costs them $150, I think they 
showed me, — before a single copy is sold, — for 
that expense alone. And they have been losers 
by many books. 

You will see that P. & S. object to the title. I 
do not know but I put it in their heads. I think 
you can easily give the book a simpler name, 
simply descriptive, the plainer the better, with or 
without a motto, and let that not be italicized, as, 
the "Authorship of the Shakspere Plays," or the 
like. I who do not know the book cannot tell the 
title, — but wish it to be of stone. 



84 DELIA BACON. 

I am just running up to a country college to 
read a discourse to the Alumni, and therefore 
hasten to put these two notes together, lest they 
lose a steamer, and so cut short my billet. The 
best hap which ever awaits truth await you ! And 
let me hear and convey your decisions to these 
men. Yours faithfully, 

K. W. Emerson. 

Miss D. S. Bacon. 

It is of little importance that among the men 
of letters with whom she entered into communica- 
tion was George Grote, the historian of Greece. 
Why it should have been thought that his studies 
or fancies would incline him to consider her specu- 
lations cannot now be known ; it is only certain 
that this letter from his wife is all that came of 
the communication. But it would hardly be right 
to withhold so stately and sonorous a piece of 
rhetoric as the answer of Mrs. Grote. One is not 
a little puzzled to understand that a lady who thus 
uttered the simplest facts in the most solemn way 
should have been an intimate friend and corre- 
spondent of Sydney Smith ; who nevertheless is 
said to have permitted himself the freedom to 
remark, as he first saw her entering a drawing- 
room crowned with a startling scarlet turban, that 
he now received a new impression of the meaning 
of the word Grotesque. The handwriting of the 
letter is as masculine as its style. 



DELIA BACON. 85 

London, 5 August, 1855. 

Madam, — On reaching London late yesterday 
evening from Lincolnshire (where Mr. Grote and 
I have been all the week on business), I found 
your letter and enclosures, which I make it a duty 
to acknowledge without delay. 

I gather from the contents of the letters that 
you desire some counsel and assistance in regard 
to securing a reputable Publisher for the work 
which has so long engaged your time and talents 
— and in this view I should be happy to concur, 
with Mr. Grote, in rendering such aid as we could 
furnish towards that desirable object. My own 
personal arrangements are, however, for this week 
incompatible with any London business. Intend- 
ing to stop one or two nights only in town on 
passing through to my country residence (about 24 
miles distant in the County of Buckinghamshire), 

1 have made engagements to receive friends at 
the latter place for a few days. So that, for the 
next 10 days it will be out of my power to invite 
you to meet me at our town residence. But 
should your affair require speedy agency, Mr. 
Grote will have much pleasure in seeing you on 
any forenoon between now and Friday next, before 

2 o'clock, and will endeavor to assist you with 
his experience and discernment towards obtaining 
the purpose in view. 

My presence in town will be needed for a day 
or two, about the 20th August, to arrange for 



86 DELTA BACON. 

workmen coming in on the 25th to paint the in- 
terior apartments, and if you could do me the 
honor to propose a day about that period, it will 
be my study to meet it, with every inclination to 
serve a lady whose talents and personal merit 
entitle her to the good offices of such of her own 
sex, as well as of the other, who value literary 
tastes and instructed industry in woman. I have 
the honor to be, Madam, 

Your obedient humble servant, 

H. Grote. 

In September comes another declination, this 
time from Chapman & Hall, and without the cour- 
teous expressions of sympathy with which every 
other publisher was kind enough to soften the 
pain of rejection. These gentlemen alone put 
themselves on high moral ground. " As they can- 
not confess themselves converts to her views, they 
feel that it would not become them to be the in- 
struments for opening an attack upon one of the 
most sacred beliefs of the nation and indeed of all 
nations." They would, however, " be much pleased 
if they could wish her success in her bold and novel 
undertaking." 

All this delay and disappointment meant far 
more to her than pride abased or ambition dis- 
couraged ; more even than sorrow that a great 
discovery was thus withheld from a waiting world. 
Trusting to the returns which her work, into which 






DELIA BACON. 87 

her soul and life had been thrown, was to bring 
her, she had gone on consuming, though with hard 
self-denying frugality, the little fund given to bring 
her home, and she was now at an end of that. 
Late in October she wrote, from the same lodgings 
in Spring Street, a very long letter to Emerson, 
which was not completed until the first of Novem- 
ber. On that day she wrote also a short one to 
her brother in New Haven. In the two years and 
a half of her absence she seems, in her strong sense 
of the wrong his want of sympathy with her great 
discovery had done her, to have seldom commu- 
nicated with him. Even now, while the letter 
showed that she retained the absolute confidence 
in him which was one of the earliest sentiments of 
her life, and even had not lost the affection of a 
sister, her pride restrained the faintest intimation 
of the nature of her work, which was nevertheless 
so well known to him that his disapproval of it had 
deeply estranged her from him. With it she sent 
him, under seal, the letter to Emerson and a packet 
of manuscript beside. " You must excuse," she 
says, " the liberty I take in sending this packet to 
your care. My living depends on my getting an 
early answer to it, and I should have to delay it 
unless I took just this course." She speaks of the 
finished manuscript in her hands " on a subject 
calculated to interest the American public very 
deeply," and of the hopes she had had of receiving 
something for its publication either in a magazine 



88 DELIA BACON. 

or as a book. " The first thing now is to provide 
for my immediate living, for the delay here has 
been disastrous to me in that respect. My posi- 
tion is better now than it ever has been before, 
because my work is now done instead of being to 
do. I have found the leisure which I never could 
find before for it, and I am glad I have used it as 
I have, let the consequences to me personally be 
what they may. And serious enough they are, 
for I do not now know how I am possibly to live, 
until I can eret an answer to this. Unless the let- 
ter I have been depending on " [from Putnam the 
publisher, who she hoped would print one maga- 
zine article] " should arrive very soon, I shall be 
entirely at the end of my credit, as w r ell as means." 
" I have sealed the pacquet, because I do not wish 
you to have any responsibility for the work — for 
reasons which you will understand by and by ; — 
it is better that you should not see a word of it in 
MS." — "I am sending my work in parcels as fast 
as I can copy it. But there is enough here to 
decide the question of its acceptance with Putnam, 
and if I can live to get a return from this the 
trouble will be over." 

To Emerson, however, she recounts the alarm 
which fluttered the English publishers upon the 
mere suggestion to them of her subject, and pro- 
ceeds : " Perhaps the American publishers may 
be frightened too, and follow suit, and I may have 
to bury my work, and bide my time, as my betters 
have done. 



DELIA BACON. 89 

" These articles I enclose with this are properly 
the first three chapters of my work, or the first 
four rather, including the one I have already sent ; 
but on account of their length I have concluded to 
subdivide them. I propose now to send it in par- 
cels, as fast as I can copy it, till I get it all over. 
But if you read it, there is one point to which I 
beg leave to direct your attention beforehand. 
When I began to write it, I did not expect to be 
able to prove the discovery with it I depended 
on further evidence for that. But I thought a 
book might be made of it as it stood then which 
would command some attention, and perhaps give 
me the means which I lacked of bringing the 
research to its proper conclusion ; and that which 
makes now the whole of the first book was writ- 
ten simply with that view and intention. I illus- 
trated my assertion with quotations from the Plays, 
which were freely interwoven with the story. But 
in copying I expanded the quotations and com- 
ments into regular criticisms, and took them out 
of the place to which they belonged, and made a 
separate book of them ; and it was when I began 
to do that, that the confidence I have since so 
freely expressed to you took possession of me. It 
did not, and does not, seem to me possible that any 
rational person, who will take the trouble to look 
at that part of the work, could differ from me as 
to the conclusion. . . . But as for that part of the 
work which I am now sending you, I have no such 



90 ' DELIA BACON. 

confidence. My only object there was to get the 
discovery fairly down on paper, to define it, to say 
what it is, not to prove it ; and what little demon- 
stration there was in it has been taken out. And 
I ask your attention to this point beforehand, 
because you will be disappointed if you expect to 
find there that ground of certainty of which I have 
spoken." 

" As to that recent article in * Fraser ' on the 
Minor Poems, I can only regard it as a case of ju- 
dicial blindness and hardening of the sensibilities 
on the part of the Editor. If that Article which 
I sent to you some three or four weeks ago has 
reached its destination, and is likely to get pub- 
lished, I shall be glad to have a few quotations 
from Mr. Fraser's last inserted in it, and it is per- 
fectly disgraceful to me to have omitted one point 
which he kindly brings out for me there, and I 
wish you would insert it somewhere if you can. I 
mean the consummation of that life which the 
author of the article in question claims as the true 
English type, frankly confessing that it is on that 
very account that the English cling to it so fondly, 
— the fact that the Poet fell a victim to this 
national characteristic at last, for his poetry was 
so successful, and his good things came in upon 
him so fast, in his retirement at Stratford, and so 
much beyond his individual faculty of appropriat- 
ing them, that he sank under it and died of over- 
eating ; actually perished by the judgment of God, 



DELIA BACON. 91 

in an attempt to get the worth of his poetry, in 
the only shape in which he could appreciate it; 
and it is on account of the very quality which 
finally assumes this consummate form in him, that 
his memory is embalmed in the grateful recollec- 
tions of his countrymen. So this Fraser man says, 
outright. It is not his poetry that they admire, it 
is his character. Anacreon died of a grape-stone. 
We have not the particulars here, but I suppose it 
was roast beef probably or plum pudding which 
put an end to this god of the English idolatry in 
the midst of his career, and prevented our having 
any more Macbeths or Lears or Tempests." 

" I do not know where I shall be by the time 
your answer to this arrives, and if the work were 
all in your hands, I should not so much care. I can 
only ask you to direct to me here — perhaps you 
have already written in reply to my last, — I hope 
so ; for a letter on which I have been very much 
depending has not come for some reason or other, 
and as the month of November is at hand, I may 
be in need of all the encouragement which the 
case admits of, and the cheer which your good 
words have always given me. It would be very 
foolish to expect to have anything like this with- 
out paying for it, and so long as the demand does 
not involve impossibilities, I hope to be able to 
meet it. There's something gained at any rate, 
and if that is once secured it is not possible for 
one life to pay too dearly for it." 



92 DELIA BACON. 

Then follows some discussion of other means 
than magazines — weekly editions of the New York 
dailies — for getting some of her manuscript be- 
fore the public, and some compensation for it, — 
" and that would enable rne to retain my connec- 
tion with this planet, perhaps, till the work is fin- 
ished, — if that should seem on the whole desir- 
able. However, there is the Atlantic Ocean to fall 
back upon, in the last resort, 1 and the Providential 
scheme is not without its provisions for that class 
of persons that the land refuses to tolerate, — peo- 
ple who were not expected, and for whom there is 
in two hemispheres no place. I have been doing 
the very best thing I could, the most honorable, — 
the only honorable thing I could. And after a 
deliberate survey of the ground, I have decided 
to let things take their course. I am not going to 
abase myself because I have done my duty. I am 
not afraid to die in the way of it ; when the road 
comes fairly to an end, I shall stop. I will make 
no further concession to the nonsense of this 
world. It has nothing to give me. Permission to 
finish my work is all I want of it." 

Before the answer to this letter reached her she 
must have received news of the relief which was 
to come from the publication of the first part of 
her work. Joyful as the respite must have been 
to her, with such joy as rewards the heroic endur- 

1 There seems to be a reproduction here of her grim allusion to 
Margaret Fuller in an earlier letter (supra, p. 68). 

/* ***** 

*>' 



DELIA BACON. 93 

ance of a beleaguered garrison in extremity when 
the siege is raised, this was nevertheless the first 
and the last return, beyond the consciousness of 
faithful sacrifice, from the work to which she gave 
her life. The letter now given must only have 
confirmed to her the news which one from the 
magazine publishers had already brought 

Concord, 3 December, 1855. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I have only a few minutes, 
and perhaps no intelligence for you, and yet can- 
not let another steamer go in silence. I received 
your first chapter and read it, and sent it immedi- 
ately to Putnam, with all the Imprimatur I could 
add. I did not write you, for I have been un- 
comfortably, nay ridiculously, busy with printing, 
writing, and a correspondence of absurd extent, 
which my practice of lecturing creates. I delayed 
your letter day by day, until now comes your sec- 
ond parcel, and enclosed letter, giving so much to 
think of — really so much to think of, that I 
heartily wish the right man were here to think 
and counsel. Immediately on its arrival, comes at 
last a letter from Putnam's editor, signing himself 
Dix Edwards, 1 saying, that he did duly receive the 
First Chapter, will print it at last as leading article 
on 1 January, and wishes Miss Bacon will follow it 
up, in their Monthly, as fast as she can. Mean- 

1 Messrs. Dix & Edwards were publishers (not editors) of the 
magazine. 




94 DELIA BACON. 

time, I hoped that you would yet decide to print 
by Phillips & Sampson, and make the book at 
once. I ought to have explained to you, whilst 
their statement was fresh in my mind, that you 
are not holden to them by publishing by them 
any longer than you please. At the end of the 
first, or of the second, or whatever edition, you 
can take your copyright to a new publisher. Still, 
there is reason for holding on by them, namely, 
that they say they spend a great deal of money 
on each of their books before any remuneration 
comes. Also, they reply to your feeling of the in- 
justice of receiving only a tenth part of the price 
of the book to yourself, that they receive still less, 
unless and until the book is very successful ; for it 
costs no more to produce a book that sells fifty 
thousand copies than the one that sells one thou- 
sand. 

Now you leave me, in your last letter, quite too 
much liberty. You have not said what I shall do. 
I am going to the Mississippi, as soon as, or before, 
my little book is out ; and am to read lectures in 
that country for six weeks perhaps, — through dire 
necessity, and not from any desire to that work. 
You must choose, then, whether to print the Book 
by P. & S., as the only offer in that form we have ; 
or, in Articles by Putnam. I much prefer the first 
mode. If I had my freedom, I should go to Boston 
or New York and read your letters and chapters to 
good men, and found a new Shakespeare Society 



DELIA BACON. 95 

to print the Book, and install the Author. But 
the mud of the Mississippi forbids; and though you 
suggest several good journals, &c., which ought to 
exist here for us, they do not yet exist. The first 
chapter was excellent. So is the second. These 
are all that I have read. I have the other two, 
and, when I leave home, shall leave my wife 
charged to obey exactly the instructions you shall 
send, in case they arrive before my return, which 
perhaps will not be till 1 February. Still, what 
you write will be sent to me in the West. I have 
not time for another line, and only write this that 
I may not be heinously negligent where your 
genius and the high Fate that seem to accompany 
you have right to demand instant service. I shall 
strive to find a breathing time to say so much to 
your friends. Respectfully and gratefully, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Miss D. S. Bacon. 

Before this relief, however, small as it was, 
could be expected, her extremity was already ab- 
solute. On the 20th of December an evidently 
hasty note, written both to her brother and a sis- 
ter, attests it. She writes asking for special care 
about her copyright, for which her solicitude has 
now a pathetic look, and proceeds : " Money from 
some quarter I must have immediately. A little 
delay will make the difference between life and 
death to me, unless for the sake of my work I 



96 DELIA BACON. 

should conclude to apply to the American minis- 
ter ; nothing else would induce me to do it. I am 
clearly of the opinion that this work is that which 
is wanting, and I humbly hope that I may live to 
see it issued safely, but I do not expect the laws 
of nature to be altered on my account, though 
they do indeed seem to have been well-nigh mirac- 
ulously controlled, for I have lived for months in 
the lions' den, and thus far God has shut his 
mouth. . . . The morning of the longest night, 
and it is a very long one, is at hand." 

It was on the 20th of November that dawn be- 
gan to gleam in the west, in the following letter 
from Messrs. Dix & Edwards : 

10 Park Place, New York, Nov. 20, 1855. 

Madame : We beg to say that the chapter of 
your inquiry into the authorship of Shakespeare's 
plays, with which we were favored through Mr. 
Emerson, will appear in the January number of 
" Putnam's Monthly," when it will be paid for at 
the rate of our most valued contributors, five dol- 
lars a page. We shall take the liberty to express 
in a note to this article the hope that the series 
may be continued in our pages, and we trust it 
may suit your convenience to forward a second 
chapter without any delay, in order that it may 
appear in the February number. 

Moreover, should you have made no other 
arrangements, we shall be happy to treat with you 




DELIA BACON. 97 

for the publication of the whole after so much of 
it as you may desire shall have appeared in a 
serial form. 

In the number for January, 1856, " Putnam's 
Monthly" began its seventh half-yearly volume. 
It was then the chief American magazine of the 
lighter literature ; for the " Atlantic Monthly," 
which replaced it, did not begin until the follow- 
ing year. The opening article of the January 
number was that which follows. 



X. 



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND HIS PLAYS : AN IN- 
QUIRY CONCERNING THEM. 1 

How can we undertake to account for the liter- 
ary miracles of antiquity, while this great myth 
of the modern ages still lies at our own door un- 
questioned ? 

This vast, magical, unexplained phenomenon, 
which our own times have produced under our 
own eyes, appears to be, indeed, the only thing 
which our modern rationalism is not to be per- 
mitted to meddle with. For here the critics 
themselves still veil their faces, filling the air with 
mystic utterances which seem to say, that to this 
shrine at least, for the footstep of the common 
reason and the common sense, there is yet no ad- 
mittance. But how can they instruct us to take 

1 In commencing the publication of these bold, original, and most 
ingenious and interesting speculations upon the real authorship of 
Shakespeare's plays, it is proper for the editor of Putnam's Monthly, 
in disclaiming all responsibility for their startling view of the ques- 
tion, to say that they are the result of long and conscientious inves- 
tigation on the part of the learned and eloquent scholar, their author ; 
and that the editor has reason to hope that they will be continued 
through some future numbers of the Magazine. [Editorial Note.'} 



DELIA BACON. 99 

off here the sandals which they themselves have 
taught us to wear into the inmost sekos of the 
most ancient sanctities ? 

The Shakespeare Drama, — its import, its limi- 
tations, its object and sources, its beginning and 
end, — for the modern critic, that is surely now the 
question. 

What, indeed, should we know of the origin of 
the Homeric poems ? Twenty-five hundred years 
ago, when those mystic characters, which the 
learned Phenician and Egyptian had brought in 
vain to the singing Greek of the Heroic Ages, be- 
gan, in the new modifications of national life which 
the later admixtures of foreign elements created, 
at length to be put to their true uses, that song of 
the nation, even in its latest form, was already old 
on the lips of the learned, and its origin a tra- 
dition. All the history of that wonderful individu- 
ality wherein the inspirations of so many ages were 
at last united, — the circumstance, the vicissitude, 
the poetic life, that had framed that dazzling mir- 
ror of old time, and wrought in it those depths of 
clearness, — all had gone before the art of writing 
and memories had found its way into Greece, or 
even the faculty of perceiving the actual had 
begun to be developed there. 

And yet are the scholars of our time content to 
leave this matter here where they find it ? With 
these poetic remains in their hands, the monu- 
ments of a genius whose date is ante-historical, are 



100 DELIA BACON. 

they content to know of their origin only what 
Alexander and Plato could know, what Solon and 
Pisistratus were fain to content themselves with, 
what the Homerids themselves received of him as 
their ancestral patron ? 

No: with these works in their hands to-day, 
reasoning from them alone, with no collateral aids, 
with scarce an extant monument of the age from 
which they come to us, they are not afraid to fly 
in the face of all antiquity with their conclusions. 

Have they not settled among them already the 
old dispute of the contending cities, the old dispute 
of the contending ages, too, for the honor of this 
poet's birth ? Do they not take him to pieces be- 
fore our eyes, this venerable Homer ; and tell us 
how many old forgotten poets' ashes went to his 
formation, and trace in him the mosaic scenes 
which eluded the scrutiny of the age of Pericles ? 
Even Mr. Grote will tell us now, just where the 
Iliad " cuts me " the fiery Achilles " cranking in ; " 
and what could hinder the learned Schlegel, years 
ago, from setting his chair in the midst of the 
Delian choirs, confronting the confounded children 
of Ion with his definitions of the term Homeros, 
and demonstrating, from the Leipsic Iliad in his 
hand, that the poet's contemporaries had, in fact, 
named him Homer the Seer, not Homer the Blind 
One? 

The criticism of our age found this whole ques- 
tion where the art of writing found it two thou- 



DELIA BACON. 101 

sand five hundred years ago ; but because the Io- 
nian cities, and Solon, and Pisistratus might be pre- 
sumed beforehand to know at least as much about 
it as they, or because the opinions of twenty-five 
centuries in such a case might seem to be entitled 
to some reverence, did the critics leave it there ? 

Two hundred and fifty years ago, our poet — 
our Homer — was alive in the world. Two cen- 
turies and a half ago, when the art of letters was 
already millenniums old in Europe, when the art of 
printing had already been in use a century and a 
half, in the midst of a contemporary historical illu- 
mination which has its equal nowhere in history, 
those works were issued that have given our Eng- 
lish life and language their imperishable claim in 
the earth, that have made the name in which they 
come to us a word by itself in the human speech ; 
and to this hour we know of their origin hardly 
so much as we knew of the origin of the Homeric 
epics when the present discussions in regard to 
them commenced, not so much — not a hundredth 
part so much — as we now know of Pharaohs who 
reigned in the valley of the Nile ages before the 
invasion of the Hyksos. 

But with these products of the national life in 
our hands, with all the contemporary light on their 
implied conditions which such an age as that of 
Elizabeth can furnish, are we going to be able to 
sit still much longer, in a period of historical 
inquiry and criticism like this, under the gross 



102 DELIA BACON. 

impossibilities which the still accepted theory on 
this subject involves ? 

The age which has put back old Homer's eyes 
safe in his head again, after he had gone without 
them well-nigh three thousand years; the age 
which has found, and labeled, and sent to the mu- 
seum, the skull in which the pyramid of Cheops 
was designed, and the lions which " the mighty 
hunter before the Lord " ordered for his new pal- 
ace on the Tigris some millenniums earlier ; the age 
in which we have abjured our faith in Romulus 
and Remus, — is surely one in which we may be 
permitted to ask this question. 

Shall this crowning literary product of that great 
epoch wherein these new ages have their begin- 
ning, vividly arrayed in its choicest refinements ; 
flashing everywhere on the surface with its cost- 
liest wit ; crowded everywhere with its subtlest 
scholasticisms ; betraying on every page its broad- 
est, freshest range of experience, its most varied 
culture, its profoundest insight, its boldest grasp 
of comprehension, — shall this crowning result of 
so many preceding ages of growth and culture, 
with its essential and now palpable connection 
with the new scientific movement of the time from 
which it issues, be able to conceal from us much 
longer its history ? Shall we be able to accept 
in explanation of it, much longer, the story of the 
Stratford poacher ? 

The popular and traditional theory of the origin 



DELIA BACON. 103 

of these works was received and transmitted after 
the extraordinary circumstances which led to its 
first imposition had ceased to exist, because, in 
fact, no one had any motive for taking the trouble 
to call it in question. The common disposition to 
receive in good faith a statement of this kind, 
however extraordinary; the natural, intellectual 
preference of the affirmative proposition at hand, 
as the explanation of a given phenomenon, when 
the negative or the doubt compels one to launch 
out for himself in search of new positions, — this 
alone might serve to account for this result, at a 
time when criticism as yet was not; when the 
predominant mental habit, on all ordinary ques- 
tions, was still that of passive acceptance, and the 
most extraordinary excitements, on questions of 
the most momentous interest, could only rouse 
the public mind to assume temporarily any other 
attitude. 

And the impression which these works produced, 
even in their first imperfect mode of exhibition, 
was already so profound and extraordinary as to 
give to all the circumstances of their attributed 
origin a blaze of notoriety tending to enhance this 
positive force in the tradition. Propounded as a 
fact, not as a theory, its very boldness — its start- 
ling improbability — was made at once to contribute 
to its strength ; covering beforehand the whole 
ground of attack. The wonderful origin of these 
works was, from the first, the predominant point 



104 DELIA BACON. 

in the impression they made, — the prominent mar- 
vel in those marvels around which all the new 
wonders that the later criticism evolved still con- 
tinued to arrange themselves. 

For the discoveries of this criticism had yet no 
tendency to suggest any new belief on this point. 
In the face of all that new appreciation of the 
works themselves which was involved in them, 
the story of that wondrous origin could still main- 
tain its footing ; through all the ramifications of 
this criticism, it still grew and inwound itself, not 
without vital limitation, however, to the criticism 
thus entangled. But these new discoveries in- 
volved, for a time, conclusions altogether in keep- 
ing with the tradition. 

This new force in literature, for which books 
contained no precedent; this new manifestation 
of creative energy, with its self-sustained vitali- 
ties ; with its inexhaustible prodigality, mocking 
nature herself ; with its new grasp of the whole 
circuit of human aims and activities, — this force, so 
unlike anything that scholasticism or art had ever 
before produced, though it came in fact with the 
sweep of all the ages, moved with all their slow 
accumulation, could not account for itself to those 
critics as anything but a new and mystic mani- 
festation of nature, — a new upwelling of the 
occult vital forces underlying our phenomenal 
existence ; invading the historic order with one 
capricious leap, laughing at history, telling the 



DELIA BACON. 105 

laboring ages that their sweat and blood had been 
in vain. 

And the tradition at hand was entirely in har- 
mony with this conception. For to this super- 
human genius, bringing with it its own laws and 
intuitions from some outlying region of life not 
subject to our natural conditions, and not to be 
included in our " philosophy," the differences be- 
tween man and man, natural or acquired, would, 
of course, seem trivial. What could any culture, 
or any merely natural endowment, accomplish that 
would furnish the required explanation of this 
result? And, by way of defining itself as an 
agency wholly supernal, was it not, in fact, neces- 
sary that it should select as its organ one in whom 
the natural conditions of the highest intellectual 
manifestations were obviously, even grossly, want- 



ing ? 






With this theory of it, no one need find it strange 
that it should pass in its selection those grand old 
cities where Learning sat enthroned with all her 
time-honored array of means and appliances for 
the development of mental resource, — where the 
genius of England had hitherto been accomplished 
for all its triumphs, — and that it should pass the 
lofty centres of church and state, and the crowded 
haunts of professional life, where the mental activ- 
ities of the time were gathered to its conflicts; 
where, in hourly collision, each strong individu- 
ality was printing itself upon a thousand others, 



106 DELIA BACON. 

and taking in turn from all their impress ; where, 
in the thick-coming change of that " time-better- 
ing age," in its crowding multiplicities, and varie- 
ties, and oppositions, life grew warm, and in the 
old the new was stirring, and in the many the 
one ; where wit, and philosophy, and fancy, and 
humor, in the thickest onsets of the hour, were 
learning to veil in courtly phrase, in double and 
triple meanings, in crowding complexities of con- 
ceits and unimagined subtleties of form, the free- 
doms that the time had nurtured ; where genius 
flashed up from all her hidden sources, and the 
soul of the age — " the mind reflecting ages past" 
— was collecting itself, and ready even then to 
leap forth, u not for an age, but for all time." 

And, indeed, was it not fitting that this new in- 
spiration which was to reveal the latent forces of 
Nature and her scorn of conditions, — fastening 
her contempt for all time upon the pride of human 
culture at its height, — was it not fitting that it 
should select this moment of all others, and this 
locality, that it might pass by that very centre of 
historical influences which the court of Elizabeth 
then made, — that it might involve in its perpetual 
eclipse that immortal group of heroes, and states- 
men, and scholars, and wits, and poets, with its 
enthroned king of thought, taking all the past for 
his inheritance, and claiming the minds of men in 
all futurity as the scene and limit of his dominion ? 
Yes, even he — he whose thought would grasp the 



DELIA BACON. 107 

whole, and keep his grasp on it perpetual — speaks 
to us still out of that cloud of mockery that fell 
upon him when " Great Nature " passed him by 

— even him — with his immortal longings, with 
his world-wide aims, with his new mastery of her 
secrets, too, and his new sovereignty over her, 
to drop her crown of immortality, lit with the 
finest essence of that which makes his own page 
immortal, on the brow of the pet horse-boy at 
Blackf riars, — the wit and good fellow of the Lon- 
don link-holders, the menial attache and eleve of 
the play-house, the future actor, and joint pro- 
prietor, of the New Theatre on the Bankside. 

Who quarrels with this movement ? Who does 
not find it fitting and pleasant enough ? Let the 
" thrice three muses " go into mourning as deep as 
they will for this desertion, — as desertion it was — 
for we all know that to the last hour of his life 
this fellow cared never a farthing for them, but 
only for his gains at their hands ; let Learning 
hide as she best may her baffled head in this dis- 
grace, — who cares ? Who does not rather laugh 
with great creating Nature in her triumph ? 

At least, who would be willing to admit, for a 
moment, that there was one in all that contempo- 
rary circle of accomplished scholars, and men of 
vast and varied genius, capable of writing these 
plays ; and who feels the least difficulty in suppos- 
ing that " this player here," as Hamlet terms him, 

— the whole force of that outburst of scorn inef- 



108 DELIA BACON. 

fable bearing on the word, and on that which it 
represented to him, — who doubts that this player 
is most abundantly and superabundantly compe- 
tent to it ? 

Now that the deer-stealing fire has gone out of 
him, now that this youthful impulse has been 
taught its conventional social limits, sobered into 
the mild, sagacious, witty " Mr. Shakespeare of the 
Globe," distinguished for the successful manage- 
ment of his own fortunes, for his upright dealings 
with his neighbors, too, and " his facetious grace 
in writing," patronized by men of rank, who in- 
clude his theatre among their instrumentalities for 
affecting the popular mind, and whose relations to 
him are, in fact, identical with those which Hamlet 
sustains to the players of his piece, what is to 
hinder this Mr. Shakespeare — the man who keeps 
the theatre on the Bankside — from working him- 
self into a frenzy when he likes, and scribbling out 
unconsciously Lears, and Macbeths, and Hamlets, 
merely as the necessary dialogue to the spectacles 
he professionally exhibits ; ay, and what is to hin- 
der his boiling his kettle with the manuscripts, 
too, when he has done with them, if he chooses ? 

What it would be madness to suppose the most 
magnificently endowed men of that wondrous age 
could accomplish — its real men, those who have 
left their lives in it, woven in its web throughout 
— what it would be madness to suppose these men, 
who are but men, and known as such, could ac- 



DELIA BACON. 109 

complish, this Mr. Shakespeare, actor and manager, 
of whom no one knows anything else, shall be able 
to do for you in " the twinkling of an eye," with- 
out so much as knowing it, and there shall be no 
words about it ! 

And are not the obscurities that involve his life, 
so impenetrably in fact, the true Shakespearean 
element ? In the boundless sea of negation which 
surrounds that play-house centre, surely he can 
unroll himself to any length, or gather himself into 
any shape or attitude, which the criticism in hand 
may call for. There is nothing to bring up against 
him, with one's theories. For, here in this day- 
light of our modern criticism, in its noontide glare, 
has he not contrived to hide himself in the pro- 
foundest depths of that stuff that myths are made 
of? Who shall come in competition with him 
here ? Who shall dive into the bottom of that sea 
to pluck his drowned honors from him ? 

Take, one by one, the splendid men of this 
Elizabethan age, and set them down with a Ham- 
let to write, and you will say beforehand, such an 
one cannot do it, nor such an one, — nor he, with 
that profoundest insight and determination of his 
which taught him to put physical nature to the 
question that he might wring from her her se- 
crets; but humanity, human nature, of course, 
had none worth noting for him ; — oh no ; he, with 
his infinite wit and invention, with his worlds of 
covert humor, with his driest prose, pressed, burst- 



110 DELIA BACON. 

ing with Shakespearean beauty, he could not do it, 
nor he, with his Shakespearean acquaintance with 
life, with his Shakespearean knowledge of men 
under all the differing social conditions, at home 
and abroad, by land and by sea, with his world- 
wide experiences of nature and fortune, with the 
rush and outbreak of his fiery mind kindling and 
darting through all his time ; he, with his Shake- 
spearean grace and freedom, with his versatile and 
profound acquirements, with his large, genial, gen- 
erous, prodigal, Shakespearean soul that would 
comprehend all, and ally itself with all, he could 
not do it ; neither of these men, nor both of them 
together, nor all the wits of the age together: — 
but this Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe, this mild, 
respectable, obliging man, this "Johannes Facto- 
tum " (as a contemporary calls him, laughing at 
the idea of his undertaking " a blank verse"), is 
there any difficulty here ? Oh no ! None in the 
world : for, in the impenetrable obscurity of that 
illimitable green-room of his, "by the mass, he 
is anything, and he can do anything, and that 
roundly too." 

Is it wonderful ? And is not that what we like 
in it ? Would you make a man of him ? With 
this miraculous inspiration of his, would you ask 
anything else of him ? Do you not see that you 
touch the Shakespearean essence, with a question 
as to motives, and possibilities? Would he be 
Shakespeare still, if he should permit you to ham- 



DELIA BACON. Ill 

per him with conditions? What is the meaning 
of that word, then ? And will you not leave him 
to us ? Shall we have no Shakespeare ? Have 
we not scholars enough, and wits enough, and 
men, of every other kind of genius, enough, — but 
have we many Shakespeares ? — that you should 
wish to run this one through with your questions, 
fhis one, great, glorious, infinite impossibility, that 
has had us in its arms, all our lives from the begin- 
ning ? If you dissolve him, do you not dissolve us 
with him ? If you take him to pieces, do you not 
undo us, also ? 

Ah, surely we did not need this master spirit of 
our race to tell us that there is that in the foun- 
dation of this human soul, " that loves to appre- 
hend more than cool reason ever comprehends," 
nay, that there is an infinity in it, that finds her 
ordinances too straight, that will leap from them 
when it can, and shake the head at her. And have 
we not all lived once in regions full of people that 
were never compelled to give an account of them- 
selves in any of these matters ? And when, pre- 
cisely, did we pass that charmed line, beyond 
which these phantoms cannot come ? When was 
the word definitively spoken which told us that the 
childhood of the race was done, or that its grown- 
up children were to have henceforth no conjurers? 
Who yet has heard the crowing of that cock, " at 
whose warning, whether in earth or air, the ex- 
travagant and erring spirit hies to his confine " ? 



112 DELIA BACON. 

The nuts, indeed, are all cracked long ago, whence 
of old the fairy princess, in her coach and six, 
drove out so freely with all her regal retinue, to 
crown the hero's fortunes ; and the rusty lamp, 
that once filled the dim hut of poverty with East- 
ern splendors, has lost its capabilities. But when 
our youth robbed us of these, had it not marvels 
and impossibilities of its own to replace them with, 
yet more magical ? and surely, manhood itself, the 
soberest maturity, cannot yet be without these 
substitutes ; and it is nature's own voice and out- 
cry that we hear whenever one of them is taken 
from us. 

Let him alone ! We have lecturers enough and 
professors enough already. Let him alone ! We 
will keep this one mighty conjurer still, even in 
the place where men most do congregate, and no- 
body shall stir a hair on his impossible old head, or 
trouble him with a question. He shall stand there 
still, pulling interminable splendors out of places 
they never could have been in ; that is the charm 
of it ; he shall stand there rubbing those few sickly 
play-house manuscripts of his, or a few, old, musty 
play-house novels, and wringing from them the 
very wine of all our life, showering from their 
greasy folds the gems and gold of all the ages ! 
He shall stand there, spreading, in the twinkling of 
an eye, for a single night in a dirty theatre, " to 
complete a purchase that he has a mind to," the 
feasts of the immortal gods; and before our lips 



DELIA BACON. 113 

can, by any chance, have reached even the edge of 
those cups, that open down into infinity, when the 
show has served his purpose, he shall whisk it all 
away again, and leave no wreck behind, except by 
accident; and none shall remonstrate, or say to 
him, M wherefore ? " He shall stand there still, for 
us all — the magician; nature's one, complete, in- 
contestable, gorgeous triumph over the impossibil- 
ities of reason. 

For the primary Shakespearean condition in- 
volves at present, not merely the accidental ab- 
sence of those external means of intellectual en- 
largement and perfection, whereby the long arts 
of the ages are made to bring to the individual 
mind their last results, multiplying its single forces 
with the life of all ; — but it requires also the ab- 
sence of all personal intellectual tastes, aims, and 
pursuits ; it requires that this man shall be below 
all other men, in his sordid incapacity for appre- 
ciating intellectual values ; it requires that he shall 
be able, not merely to witness the performance of 
these plays, not merely to hear them and read 
them for himself, but to compose them ; it requires 
him to be able to compose the " Tempest," and 
" Othello," and " Macbeth," without suspecting 
that there is anything of permanent interest in 
them — anything that will outlast the spectacle of 
the hour. 

The art of writing had been already in use 
twenty -five centuries in Europe, and a Shake- 



114 DELIA BACON. 

speare, one would think, might have been able to 
form some conception of its value and applica- 
tions ; the art of printing had been in use on the 
continent a century and a half, and it was already 
darting through every civilized corner of it. and 
through England, too, no uncertain intimations 
of its historic purport — intimations significant 
enough u to make bold power look pale " already 
— and one would think a Shakespeare might have 
understood its message. But no ! This very 
spokesman of the new era it ushers in, trusted with 
this legacy of the new-born times ; this man, whom 
we all so look up to, and reverence, with that in- 
alienable treasure of ours in his hands, which even 
Ben Jonson knew was not for him, u nor for an 
age — but for all time," why this Jack Cade that 
he is must needs take us back three thousand years 
with it, and land us at the gates of Ilium ! The 
arts of humanity and history, as they stood when 
Troy was burned, must save this treasure for us, 
and be our means of access to it ! He will leave 
this work of his, into which the ends of the world 
have come to be inwrought for all the future, he 
will leave it where Homer left his, on the lips of 
the mouthing " rhapsodists ! " 

Apparently, indeed, he will be careful to teach 
these " robustious, periwig-pated fellows " their 
proper relations to him. He will industriously in- 
struct them how to pronounce his dialogue, so as 
to give the immediate effect intended ; controlling 



DELIA BACON. 115 

even the gesticulations, insisting on the stops, rul- 
ing out utterly the town-crier's emphasis; and, 
above all, protesting, with a true author's jealousy, 
against interpolation or any meddling with his 
text. Indeed, the directions to the players, which 
he puts into the mouth of Hamlet — involving, as 
they do, not merely the nice sensibility of the ar- 
tist, and his nervous, instinctive, aesthetic acquaint- 
ance with his art, but a thorough scientific knowl- 
edge of its principles — these directions would 
have led us to infer that he would, at least, know 
enough of the value of his own works to avail 
himself of the printing-press for their preserva- 
tion, and not only that, they would have led us to 
expect from him a most exquisitely careful revi- 
sion of his proofs. But how is it ? He destroys, 
we are given to understand, the manuscripts of 
his unpublished plays, and we owe to accident, and 
to no care of his whatever, his works as they have 
come to us. Did ever the human mind debase it- 
self to the possibility of receiving such nonsense 
as this, on any subject, before ? 1 

He had those manuscripts ! He had those origi- 
nals which publishers and scholars would give mil- 

1 Though the editors of the first folio profess to have access to 
these very papers, and boast of being able to bring out an absolutely 
faultless edition, to take the place of those stolen and surreptitious 
copies then in circulation, the edition which is actually produced, in 
connection with this announcement, is itself found to be full of ver- 
bal errors, and is supposed, by later editors, to have been derived 
from no better source than its predecessors. 



116 DELIA BACON. 

lions now to purchase a glimpse of ; he had the 
original Hamlet, with its last finish ; he had the 
original Lear, with his own final readings ; he had 
them all — all, pointed, emphasized, directed, as 
they came from the gods ; he had them all, all fin- 
ished as the critic of "Hamlet" and "Midsummer 
Night's Dream " must have finished them ; and he 
left us to wear out our youth, and squander our 
lifetime, in poring over and setting right the old, 
garbled copies of the play-house ! He had those 
manuscripts, and the printing-press had been at its 
work a hundred years when he was born, but he 
was not ashamed to leave the best wits and schol- 
ars of all succeeding ages, with Pope and Johnson 
at their head, to exhaust their ingenuity, and sour 
their dispositions, and to waste their golden hours, 
year after year, in groping after and guessing out 
his hidden meanings ! 

He had those manuscripts ! In the name of 
that sovereign reason, whose name he dares to take 
upon his lips so often, what did he do with them ? 
Did he wantonly destroy them ? No ! Ah, no ! 
he did not care enough for them to take that trou- 
ble. No, he did not do that! That would not 
have been in keeping with the character of this 
most respectable impersonation of the Genius of 
the British Isle, as it stands set up for us at pres- 
ent to worship. Some worthy, domestic, private, 
economic use, doubtless, they were put to. For, 
is not he a private, economical, practical man — 



DELIA BACON. 117 

this Shakespeare of ours — with no stuff and non- 
sense about him — a plain, true-blooded English- 
man, who minds his own business, and leaves other 
people to take care of theirs? Is not this our 
Shakespeare? Is it not the boast of England, 
that he is just that, and nothing else ? " What did 
he do with them ? " He gave them to his cook, 
or Dr. Hale put up potions for his patients in 
them, or Judith, poor Judith, — who signified her 
relationship to the author of " Lear " and the 
" Tempest," and her right to the glory of the 
name he left her, by the very extraordinary kind 
of " mark " which she affixes to legal instruments, 
— poor Judith may have curled her hair to the 
day of her death with them, without dreaming of 
any harm. " What did he do with them ? " And 
whose business is it ? Were n't they his own ? If 
he chose to burn them up, or put them to some 
private use, had not he a perfect right to do it ? 

No ! Traitor and miscreant ! No ! What did 
you do with them ? You have skulked this ques- 
tion long enough. You will have to account for 
them. You will have to tell us what you did with 
them. The awakening ages will put you on the 
stand, and you will not leave it until you answer 
the question, " What did you do with them ? " 

And yet, do not the critics dare to boast to us, 
that he did compose these works for his own pri- 
vate, particular ends only ? Do they not tell us, 
as if it were a thing to be proud of, and " a thing 



118 DELIA BACON. 

to thank God on," with uplifted eyes, and speech- 
less admiration points, that he did " die, and leave 
the world no copy " ? But who is it that insists 
so much, so strangely, so repetitiously, upon the 
wrong to humanity, the fraud done to nature, when 
the individual fails to render in his account to time 
of all that nature gives him? Who is it that 
writes, obscurely indeed, so many sonnets, only to 
ring the changes on this very subject, singing out, 
point by point, not the Platonic theory, but his 
own fresh and beautiful study of great nature's 
law, and his own new and scientific doctrine of 
conservation and advancement? And who is it 
that writes, unconsciously no doubt, and without 
its ever occurring to him that it was going to be 
printed, or to be read by any one, 

"Thyself and thy belongings 
Are not thine own so proper, as to waste 
Thyself upon thy virtues, them on thee " ? 

For here is the preacher of another doctrine, 
which puts the good that is private and particular 
where the sovereignty that is in nature puts it : — 

" Heaven doth with us, as we with torches do ; 
Not light them for themselves. For if our virtues 
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike 
As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touched 
But to fine issues ; nor nature never lends 
The smallest scruple of her excellence, 
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines 
Herself the glory of a creditor, 
Both thanks and use." 

Truly the man who writes in this style, with 



DELIA BACON. 119 

such poetic iteration, might put in Hamlet's plea, 
when his critics accuse him of unconsciousness : — 

" Bring me to the test 
And I the matter will re-word ; which madness 
Would gambol from." 

What infirmity of blindness is it, then, that we 
charge upon this " god of our idolatry " ? And 
what new race of Calibans are we, that we should 
be called upon to worship this monstrous incon- 
gruity — this Trinculo — this impersonated moral 
worthlessness ? Oh, stupidity past finding out ! 
" The myriad-minded one," the light of far-off futu- 
rities was in him, and he knew it not ! While the 
word was on his lips, and he reasoned of it, he 
heeded it not ! He, at whose feet all men else are 
proud to sit, came to him, and found no reverence. 
The treasure for us all was put into his hands, and 
— he did not waste it — he did not keep it laid up 
in a napkin, he did not dig in the earth, and hide 
his Lord's money ; no, he used it ! he used it for 
his own despicable and sordid ends, " to complete 
purchases that he had a mind to," and he left us 
to gather up " the arts and fragments" as best we 
may. And they dare to tell us this of him, and 
men believe it, and to this hour his bones are 
canonized, to this hour his tomb is a shrine, where 
the genius of the cool, sagacious, clear-though ted 
Northern Isle is worshipped, under the form of a 
mad, unconscious, intellectual possession — a do- 
tard inspiration, incapable of its own designs, want- 



120 DELIA BACON. 

ing in the essential attribute of all mental power 
— self- cognition. 

And yet, who would be willing to spare, now, 
one point in that time-honored, incongruous whole ? 
Who would be willing to dispense with the least of 
those contradictions, which have become, in the 
progressive development of our appreciation of 
these works, so inextricably knit together, and 
thereby inwrought, as it were, into our inmost 
life ? Who can, in fact, fairly convince himself, 
now, that deer-stealing and link-holding, and the 
name of an obscure family in Stratford — common 
enough there, though it means what it does to us — 
and bad, or indifferent performances, at a Surrey 
theatre, are not really, after all, essential prelimi- 
naries and concomitants to the composition of a 
" Romeo and Juliet," or a " Midsummer Night's 
Dream," or a " Twelfth Night " ? And what 
Shakespeare critic, at least, could persuade him- 
self, now, that any other motive than the purchase 
of the Globe theatre, and that capital messuage or 
tenement in Stratford, called the New Place, with 
the appurtenances thereof, and the lands adjoin- 
ing, and the house in Henley Street, could by any 
possibility have originated such works as these ? 

And what fool would undertake to prove, now, 
that the fact of the deer-stealing, or any other 
point in the traditionary statement, may admit of 
question ? Certainly, if we are to have an histor- 
ical or traditionary Shakespeare of any kind, out 



DELIA BACON. 121 

of our present materials, it becomes us to protest, 
with the utmost severity, against the least med- 
dling therewith. If they are not sufficiently mea- 
gre already — if the two or three historical points 
we have, or seem to have, and the miserable scraps 
and fragments of gossip which the painful explo- 
rations of two centuries have, at length, succeeded 
in rescuing from the oblivion to which this man's 
time consigned him 1 — if these points are to be en- 
croached upon, and impaired by criticism, we may 
as well throw up the question altogether. In the 
name of all that is tangible, leave us what there 
is of affirmation here. Surely we have negations 
enough already. If he did not steal the deer, will 
you tell us what one mortal thing he did do ? He 
wrote the plays. But, did the man who wrote the 
plays do nothing else ? Are there not some fore- 
gone conclusions in them ? — some intimations, and 
round ones, too, that he who wrote them, be he 
who he may, has had experiences of some sort ? 
Do such things as these, that the plays are full of, 
begin in the fingers' ends ? Can you find them 
in an ink-horn ? Can you sharpen them out of a 
goose-quill? Has your Shakespeare wit and in- 
vention enough for that ? 

But the man was a player, and the manager of 
a play-house, and these are plays that he writes. 

1 Constituting, when well put together, precisely that historic trail 
which an old, defunct, indifferent, fourth-rate play-actor naturally 
leaves behind him, for the benefit of any autiquary who may find 
occasion to conduct an exploration for it. 



122 DELIA BACON. 

And what kind of play is it that you find m 
them — and what is the theatre — and who are 
the actors ? Has this man's life been all play ? 
Has there been no earnest in it ? — no acting in 
his own name ? Had he no part of his own in 
time, then ? Has he dealt evermore with second- 
hand reports, unreal shadows, and mockeries of 
things? Has there been no personal grapple with 
realities, here ? Ah, let him have that one living 
opposite. Leave him that single shot "heard 
round the world." Did not iEschylus fight at Sal- 
amis ? Did not Scipio teach Terence how to mar- 
shal his men and wing his words ? (A contempo- 
rary and confidant of Shakespeare's thinks, from 
internal evidence, that the patron wrote the plays, 
in this case, altogether.) And was not Socrates as 
brave at Potidsea and Delium as he was in the mar- 
ket-place ; and did not Caesar, the author, kill his 
millions ? But this giant wrestler and warrior of 
ours, with the essence of all the battles of all ages 
in his nerves — with the blood of a new Adam 
bubbling in his veins — he cannot be permitted to 
leap out of those everlasting buskins of his, long 
enough to have a brush with this one live deer, 
but the critics must have out their spectacles, and 
be down upon him with their objections. 

And what honest man would want a Shake- 
speare at this hour of the day that was not writ- 
ten by that same irregular, lawless, wild, reckless, 
facetious, law-despising, art-despising genius of a 



DELIA BACON. 123 

" Will " that did steal the deer ? Is not this the 
Shakespeare we have had on our shelves with our 
bibles and prayer-books, since our great-grandsires' 
times ? The next step will be to call in question 
Moses in the bulrushes, and Pharaoh's daughter. 

And what is to become, too, under this supposi- 
tion, of that exquisite specimen of the player's 
merciless wit, and "facetious grace in writing," 
which attracted the attention of his contemporaries, 
and left such keen impressions on the minds of his 
fellow-townsmen ? What is to become, in this 
case, of the famous lampoon on Sir Thomas Lucy, 
nailed up on the park gate, rivaling in Shakespear- 
ean grace and sharpness another Attic morceau 
from the same source — the impromptu on " John- 
a-Combe " ? These remains of the poet, which we 
find accredited to him in his native village, " with 
likelihood of truth enough," among those who 
best knew him, have certainly cost the commenta- 
tors too much trouble to be lightly relinquished ; 
and, unquestionably, they do bear on the face of 
them most unmistakable symptoms of the player's 
wit and the Stratford origin. 

No ! no ! We cannot spare the deer-stealing. 
As the case now stands, this one, rich, sparkling 
point in the tradition can by no means be dis- 
pensed with. Take this away, and what becomes 
of our traditional Shakespeare ? He goes ! The 
whole fabric tumbles to pieces, or settles at once 
into a hopeless stolidity. But for the mercurial 



124 DELIA BACON. 

lightning, which this youthful reminiscence im- 
parts to him — this single indication of a sup- 
pressed tendency to an heroic life — how could 
that heavy, retired country gentleman, late man- 
ager of the Globe and the Blackfriars theatres, be 
made to float at any convenient distance above the 
earth, in the laboring conceptions of the artists 
whose business it is to present his apotheosis to 
us ? Enlarge the vacant platitudes of that fore- 
head as you will ; pile up the artificial brains in 
the frontispiece to any height which the credulity 
of an awe-struck public will hesitate to pronounce 
idiotic ; huddle the allegorical shapes about him as 
thickly as you will ; and yet, but for the twinkle 
which this single reminiscence leaves, this one soli- 
tary " proof of liberty," " the flash and outbreak 
of a fiery mind of general assault," how could the 
old player and showman be made to sit the bird of 
Jove, so comfortably as he does, on his way to the 
waiting Olympus ? 

But, after all, it is not this old actor of Eliza- 
beth's time who exhibited these plays at his thea- 
tre in the way of his trade, and cared for them 
precisely as a tradesman would ; cared for them as 
he would have cared for tin kettles, or earthen 
pans and pots, if they had been in his line, in- 
stead ; it is not this old tradesman ; it is not this 
old showman and hawker of plays ; it is not this 
old lackey, whose hand is on all our heart-strings, 
whose name is, of mortal names, the most awe- 
inspiring. 



DELIA BACON. 125 

The Shakespeare of Elizabeth and James, who 
exhibited at his theatre as plays, among many oth- 
ers surpassing them in immediate theatrical success, 
the wonderful works which bore his name — works 
which were only half printed, and that surrepti- 
tiously, and in detached portions during his life- 
time, which, seven years after his death, were first 
collected and published by authority in his name, 
accompanied, according to the custom of the day, 
with eulogistic verses from surviving brother poets 
— this yet living theatrical Shakespeare is a very 
different one from the Shakespeare of our mod- 
ern criticism ; — the Shakespeare brought out, at 
length, by more than two centuries of readings 
and the best scholarly investigation of modern 
times, from between the two lids of that wondrous 
folio. 

The faintly limned outlines of the nucleus which 
that name once included are all gone long ago, 
dissolved in the splendors, dilated into the infini- 
ties which this modern Shakespeare dwells in. It 
is Shakespeare the author that we now know only, 
the author of these worlds of profoundest art, 
these thought-crowded worlds, which modern read- 
ing discovers in these printed plays of his. It is 
the posthumous Shakespeare of the posthumous 
volume that we now know only. No, not even 
that; it is only the work itself that we now 
know by that name — the phenomenon and not 
its beginning. For, with each new study of the 



126 DELIA BACON. 

printed page, further and further behind it, deeper 
and deeper into regions where no man so much as 
undertakes to follow it, retreats the power, which 
is for us all already, as truly as if we had confessed 
it to ourselves, the unknown, the unnamed. 

What does this old player's name, in fact, stand 
for with us now ? Inwrought not into all our lit- 
erature merely, but into all the life of our modern 
time, his unlearned utterances our deepest lore, 
which " we are toiling all our liyes to find," his 
mystic page, the page where each one sees his own 
life inscribed, point by point, deepening and deep- 
ening with each new experience from the cradle 
to the grave ; what is he to us now ? Is he the 
teacher of our players only ? What theatres hold 
now his school ? What actors' names stand now 
enrolled in its illustrious lists? Do not all our 
modern works incorporate his lore into their es- 
sence, are they not glittering on their surface 
everywhere, with ever new, unmissed jewels from 
his mines ? Which of our statesmen, our heroes, 
our divines, our poets, our philosophers, has not 
learned of him ; and in which of all their diver- 
gent and multiplying pursuits and experiences do 
they fail to find him still with them, still before 
them? 

The name which has stood to us from the begin- 
ning, for all this — which has been inwrought into 
it, which concentrates it in its unity — cannot now 
be touched. It has lost its original significance. 



DELIA BACON. 127 

It means this, and this only to us. It has drunk 
in the essence of all this power, and light, and 
beauty, and identified itself with it. Never, per- 
haps, can it well mean anything else to us. 

You cannot christen a world anew, though the 
name that was given to it at the font prove an 
usurper's. With all that we now know of that he- 
roic scholar, from whose scientific dream the New 
World was made to emerge at last, in the face of 
the mockeries of his time, with all that apprecia- 
tion of his work which the Old World and the 
New alike bestow upon it, we cannot yet separate 
the name of his rival from his hard-earned tri- 
umph. What name is it that has drunk into its 
melody, forever, all the music of that hope and 
promise, which the young continent of Columbus 
still whispers — in spite of old European evils 
planted there — still whispers in the troubled 
earth ? Whose name is it that stretches its golden 
letters now, from ocean to ocean, from Arctic to 
Antarctic, whose name now enrings the millions 
that are born, and live, and die, knowing no world 
but the world of that patient scholar's dream — 
no reality but the reality of his chimera ? 

What matters it ? Who cares ? " What 's in a 
name ? " Is there any voice from that hero's own 
tomb to rebuke this wrong ? No. He did not 
toil, and struggle, and suffer, and keep his manly 
heart from breaking, to the end that those mil- 
lions might be called by his name. Ah, little know 



128 DELTA BACON. 

they, who thus judge of works like his, what roots 
such growths must spread, what broad, sweet cur- 
rents they must reach and drink from. If the mil- 
lions are blessed there, if, through the heat and 
burden of his weary day, man shall at length at- 
tain, though only after many an erring experience 
and fierce rebuke, in that new world, to some 
height of learning, to some scientific place of peace 
and rest, where worlds are in harmony, and men 
are as one, he will say, in God's name, Amen ! 
For, on the heights of endurance and self-renun- 
ciation, where the divine is possible with men, we 
have one name. 

What have we to do with this poor peasant's 
name, then, so hallowed in all our hearts, now, 
with household memories, that we should seek to 
tear it from the countless fastenings which time 
has given it ? This name, chosen at least of for- 
tune, if not of nature, for the place it occupies, 
dignified with all that she can lend it, — illustrious 
with her most lavish favoritism, — has she not 
chosen to encircle it with honors which make poor 
those that she saves for her kings and heroes ? 
Let it stand, then, and not by grace of fortune 
only, but by consent of one who could afford to 
leave it such a legacy. For he was one whom giv- 
ing did not impoverish ; he had wealth enough of 
his own and to spare, and honors that he could not 
part with. 

" Once," but in no poet's garb, once, through 



DELTA BACON. 129 

the thickest of this " working - day world," he 
trod for himself, with bleeding feet, " the ways 
of glory " here, " and sounded all the depths and 
shoals of honor," and, from the wrecks of lost 
" ambition," found to the last " the way to rise 
in " : — 

" By that sin fell the angels ; bow can man, then, 
The image of his Maker, hope to win by 't ? 
Love thyself last : cherish those hearts that hate thee ; 
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace, 
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not : 
Let all the ends thou aim'st at, be thy country's, 
Thy God's and truth's ; then, if thou fall'st, thou fall'st 
A blessed martyr 1 " 

Let the name stand, then, where the poet has 
himself left it. If he — if he himself did not 
scruple to forego his fairest honors, and leave his 
immortality in a peasant's weed ; if he himself 
could consent to bind his own princely brows in it, 
though it might be for ages, why e'en let him 
wear it, then, as his own proudest honor. To all 
time let the philosophy be preached in it, which 
found " in a name " the heroic height whence its 
one great tenet could be uttered with such an em- 
phasis, philosophy — " not harsh and crabbed as 
dull fools suppose, but musical as is Apollo's lute," 
roaming here at last in worlds of her own shaping ; 
more rich and varied, and more intense than na- 
ture's own ; where all things " echo the name of 
Prospero " ; where, " beside the groves, the foun- 
tains, every region near seems all one mutual 



130 DELTA BACON. 

cry " ; where even young love's own younges 
melodies, from moon-lit balconies, warble its argu 
ment. Let it stand, then. Leave to it its Strang 
honors — its unbought immortality. Let it stanc 
at least, till all those who have eaten in their yout 
of the magic tables spread in it, shall have died i 
the wilderness. Let it stand while it will, only le 
its true significance be recognized. 

For, the falsity involved in it, as it now standi 
has become too gross to be endured any furthe 
The common sense cannot any longer receive : 
without self-abnegation ; and the relations of th 
question, on all sides, are now too grave and m< 
mentous to admit of any further postponemer 
of it. 

In judging of this question, we must take inl 
account the fact that, at the time when thes 
works were issued, all those characteristic organ 
zations of the modern ages, for the diffusion of ii 
tellectual and moral influences, which now even 
where cross and recross with electric fibre tli 
hitherto impassable social barriers, were as y< 
unimagined. The inventions and institutions, i 
which these had their origin, were then but begh 
ning their work. To-day, there is no scholast 
seclusion so profound that the allied voice and a 
tion of this mighty living age may not perpeti 
ally penetrate it. To-day, the work -shop has b< 
come clairvoyant. The plough and the loom are i 
magnetic communication with the loftiest soci; 



DELIA BACON. 131 

centres. The last results of the most exquisite 
culture of the world, in all its departments, are 
within reach of the lowest haunt, where latent 
genius and refinement await their summons ; and 
there is no " smallest scruple of nature's excel- 
lence " that may not be searched out and kindled. 
The Englishman who but reads " The Times," 
to-day, puts himself into a connection with his 
age, and attains thereby a means of enlargement 
of character and elevation of thought and aims, 
which in the age of Elizabeth was only possible 
to men occupying the highest official and social 
position. 

It is necessary, too, to remember that the ques- 
tion here is not a question of lyric inspiration, 
merely ; neither is it a question of dramatic gen- 
ius, merely. Why, even the poor player, that 
Hamlet quotes so admiringly, " but in a dream of 
passion," his soul rapt and subdued with images of 
tenderness and beauty, " tears in his eyes, the color 
in his cheeks," even he, with his fine sensibilities, 
his rhythmical ear, with his living conceits, if nature 
has but done her part towards it, may compose 
you a lyric that you would bind up with " High- 
land Mary," or " Sir Patrick Spens," for immor- 
tality. And even this poor tinker, profane and 
wicked as he is, and coarse and unfurnished for 
the poet's mission as he seems, when once the in- 
finities of religion, with their divine ideals, shall 
penetrate to the deep, sweet sources of his yet 



132 DELIA BACON. 

undreamed of genius, and arouse the latent soi 
in him, with their terrific struggles and divine tr 
umphs, even he, from the coarse, meagre mat< 
rials which his external experience furnishes 1 
him, shall be able to compose a drama, full of in 
mortal vigor and freshness, where all men sha 
hear the rushing of wings — the tread from oth< 
spheres — in their life's battle ; where all me 
shall be able to catch voices and harpings not ( 
this shore. But the question is not here of a Bui 
yan or a Burns. And it is not a Bloomfield th{ 
we have in hand here. The question is n< 
whether nature shall be able to compose thes 
without putting into requisition the selectest ii 
strumentalities of the ages. It is a question di 
ferent in kind ; how different, in the present stag 
of our appreciation of the works involved in i 
cannot be made manifest. 

It is impossible, indeed, to present any paralL 
to the case in question. For if we suppose a poc 
actor, or the manager of a theatre, or a printe 
unlearned except by the accident of his trade, t 
begin now to issue out of his brain, in the way ( 
his trade, wholly bent on that, and wholly indi 
ferent to any other result, and unconscious of an 
other, a body of literature, so high above anythin 
that we now possess, in any or in all departments 
so far exhausting the excellency of all as to cor 
stitute, by universal consent, the literature of th 
time ; comprehending its entire scope ; based on i 



DELIA BACON. 133 

tubtlest analysis; pronouncing everywhere its final 
vord, — even such a supposition would not begin 
,o meet the absurdity of the case in question. 

If the prince of showmen in our day, in that 
stately oriental retreat of his in Connecticut, ri- 
valing even the New Place at Stratford in literary 
conveniences, should begin now to conceive of 
something of this sort, as his crowning specula- 
ion, and should determine to undertake its execu- 
;ion in person, who would dare to question his 
ibility ?* Certainly no one would have any right 
;o criticise, now, the motive conceded, or to put 
n suspicion its efficiency for the proposed result. 
Why, this man could not conduct his business a 
lay, he could not even hunt through the journals 
'or his own puffs and advertisements, without com- 
ng by accident in contact with means of moral 
md intellectual enlargement and stimulus, which 
could never have found their way, in any form, to 
Elizabeth's player. The railway, the magnetic 
telegraph, the steamship, the steam-press with its 
ournals, its magazines, its reviews, and its cheap 
iterature of all kinds, the public library, the book- 
club, the popular lecture, the lyceum, the volun- 
tary association of every kind — these are all but 
i part of that magnificent apparatus and means 
}f culture which society is now putting in requisi- 

1 It should be stated, perhaps, that the ahove was written two or 
;hree years since, and that no reference to Mr. Barnum's recent ad- 
lition to the literature of the age was intended. 



134 DELIA BACON. 

tion in that great school of hers, wherein the un 
versal man, rescued from infinite self -degradation 
is now at last beginning his culture. And yet a 
these social instrumentalities combined canno 
even now, so supply the deficiencies in the ca$ 
supposed as to make the supposition any oth< 
than a violent one, to say the least of it. 

The material which nature must have contril 
uted to the Shakespearean result could, indeed 
hardly have remained inert, under any superii 
cumbent weight of social disadvantages. But tt 
very first indication of its presence, under sue 
conditions, would have been a struggle with tho; 
disadvantages. First of all, it would force i 
way upward, through them, to its natural el 
ment ; first of all, it would make its way into tt 
light, and possess itself of all its weapons — n< 
spend itself in mad movements in the dark, wit' 
out them. Look over the history of all the know 
English poets and authors of every kind, bac 
even to the days of the Anglo-Saxon Adhelm, ar 
Caedmon, and, no matter how humble the positic 
in which they are born, how many will you fir 
among them that have failed to possess themselv< 
ultimately of the highest literary culture of tr. 
age they lived in ? How many, until you come \ 
this same Shakespeare ? 

Well, then, if the Genius of the British Isle tun 
us out such men as those from her universities 
but when she would make her Shakespeare retrej 



DELIA BACON. 135 

into a green-room, and send him forth from that, 
furnished as we find him, pull down, we say, pull 
down those gray old towers, for the wisdom of the 
Great Alfred has been laughed to scorn ; undo his 
illustrious monument to its last Anglo-Saxon stone, 
and, " by our lady, build — theatres ! " If not Ju- 
liet only, but her author, and Hamlet's author, 
too, and Lear's, and Macbeth's can be made with- 
out " philosophy," we are for Romeo's verdict, 
" Hang up philosophy." If such works as these, 
and Julius Caesar, and Coriolanus, and Antony, 
and Henry V, and Henry VIII, — if the "Mid- 
summer Night's Dream," and the " Merchant of 
Venice," and the "Twelfth Night," — if Beatrice, 
and Benedict, and Rosalind, and Jaques, and Iago, 
and Othello, and all their immortal company, — if 
these works, and all that we find in them, can 
be got out of " Plutarch's Lives," and " Holin- 
shed," and a few old ballads and novels, — in the 
name of all that is honest, give us these, and 
let us go about our business; and henceforth 
let him that can be convicted " of traitorously cor- 
rupting the youth of this realm, by erecting a 
grammar-school," be consigned to his victims for 
mercy. " Long live Lord Mortimer ! " " Down 
with the paper-mills ! " " Throw learning to the 
dogs ! we '11 none of it ! " 

But we are not, as yet, in a position to estimate 
the graver bearings of this question. For the 
reverence which the common theory has hitherto 



136 DELIA BACON. 

claimed from us, as a well authenticated historical 
fact, depending apparently, indeed, on the most un- 
impeachable external evidence for its support, has 
operated, as it was intended to operate in the first 
instance, to prevent all that kind of reading and 
study of the plays which would have made its 
gross absurdity apparent. In accordance with this 
original intention, to this hour it has constituted a 
barrier to the understanding of their true mean- 
ing, which no industry or perseverance could sur- 
mount ; to this hour it has served to prevent, ap- 
parently, so much as a suspicion of their true 
source, and ultimate intention. 

But let this theory, and the pre-judgment it 
involves, be set aside, even by an hypothesis, 
only long enough to permit us once to see, for 
ourselves, what these works do in fact contain, 
and no amount of historical evidence which can 
be produced, no art, no argument, will suffice to 
restore it to its present position. But it is not as 
an hypothesis, it is not as a theory, that the truth 
here indicated will be developed hereafter. It 
will come on other grounds. It will ask no favors. 

Condemned to refer the origin of these works 
to the vulgar, illiterate man who kept the theatre 
where they were first exhibited, a person of the 
most ordinary character and aims, compelled to 
regard them as the result merely of an extraordi- 
nary talent for pecuniary speculation in this man, 
how could we, how could any one, dare to see what 



DELIA BACON. 137 

is really in them ? With this theory overhanging 
them, though we threw our most artistic lights 
upon it, and kept it out of sight when we could, 
what painful contradictory mental states, what un- 
acknowledged internal misgivings were yet in- 
volved in our best judgments of them? How many 
passages were we compelled to read " trippingly," 
with the " mind's eye," as the players were first 
taught to pronounce them on the tongue ; and if, 
in spite of all our slurring, the inner depths would 
open to us, if anything which this theory could 
not account for, would notwithstanding obtrude 
itself upon us, we endeavored to believe that it 
must be the reflection of our own better learning, 
and so, half lying to ourselves, making a wretched 
compromise with our own mental integrity, we 
still hurried on. 

Condemned to look for the author of Hamlet 
himself — the subtle Hamlet of the university, the 
courtly Hamlet, " the glass of fashion and the 
mould of form " — in that dirty, doggish group of 
players, who come into the scene summoned like a 
pack of hounds to his service, the very tone of his 
courtesy to them, with its princely condescension, 
with its arduous familiarity, only serving to make 
the great, impassable social gulf between them the 
more evident, — compelled to look in that igno- 
minious group, with its faithful portraiture of the 
players of that time (taken from the life by one 
who had had dealings with them), for the princely 



V 



138 DELIA BACON. 

scholar himself in his author, how could we under- F 
stand him — the enigmatical Hamlet, with the 
thought of ages in his foregone conclusions ? 

With such an origin, how could we see the sub- 
tlest skill of the university, not in Hamlet and Ho- 
ratio only, but in the work itself, incorporated in 
its essence, pervading its execution ? With such 
an origin as this, how was it possible to note, not 
in this play only, but in all the Shakespeare drama, 
what otherwise we could not have failed to ob- 
serve, the tone of the highest Elizabethan breed- 
ing, the very loftiest tone of that peculiar courtly 
culture, which was then, and but just then, attain- 
ing its height, in the competitions among men of 
the highest social rank, and among the most bril- 
liant wits and men of genius of the age, for the 
favor of the learned, accomplished, sagacious, witr 
loving maiden queen ; — a culture which required 
not the best acquisitions of the university merely, 
but acquaintance with life, practical knowledge of 
affairs, foreign travel and accomplishments, and, 
above all, the last refinements of the highest Pa- 
risian breeding. For u your courtier " must be, in 
fact, " your picked man of countries." He must, 
indeed, " get his behavior everywhere." He must 
be, in fact and literally, the man of " the world." 

But for this prepossession, in that daring treat- 
ment of court-life which this single play of Ham- 
let involves, in the entire freedom with which its 
conventionalities are handled, how could we have 



DELIA BACON. 139 

failed to recognize the touch of one habitually 
practiced in its refinements ? How could we have 
failed to recognize, not in this play only, but in all 
these plays, the poet whose habits and perceptions 
have been moulded in the atmosphere of these 
subtle social influences ? He cannot shake off this 
influence when he will. He carries the court per- 
fume with him, unconsciously, wherever he goes, 
among mobs of artisans that will not " keep their 
teeth clean " ; into the ranks of " greasy citizens" 
and " rude mechanicals " ; into country feasts and 
merry-makings; among " pretty low-born lasses," 
"the queens of curds and cheese," and into the 
heart of that forest, " where there is no clock." 
He looks into Arden and into Eastcheap from the 
court standpoint, not from these into the court, 
and he is as much a prince with Poins and Bar- 
dolph as he is when he enters and throws open to 
us, without awe, without consciousness, the most 
delicate mysteries of the royal presence. 

Compelled to refer the origin of these works to 
the sordid play-house, who could teach us to dis- 
tinguish between the ranting, unnatural stuff and 
bombast which its genuine competitions elicited, 
in their mercenary appeals to the passions of their 
audience, ministering to the most vicious tastes, 
depraving the public conscience, and lowering the 
common standard of decency, getting up " scenes 
to tear a cat in," — " out-Heroding Herod," and 
going regularly into professional fits about Hecuba 



140 DELIA BACON. 

and Priam and other Trojans, — who could teach 
us to distinguish between the tone of this origi- 
nal, genuine, play-house fustian, and that of the 
" dozen or sixteen lines " which Hamlet will at 
first, for some earnest purpose of his own, with 
the consent and privity of one of the players, 
cause to be inserted in it ? Nay, thus blinded, we 
shall not, perhaps, be able to distinguish from this 
foundation that magnificent whole with which, 
from such beginnings, this author will, perhaps, 
ultimately replace his worthless originals alto- 
gether ; that whole in which we shall see, one day, 
not the burning Ilium, not the old Danish court 
of the tenth century, but the yet living, illustrious 
Elizabethan age, with all its momentous interests 
still at stake, with its yet palpitating hopes and 
fears, with its newborn energies, bound but uncon- 
querable, already heaving, and muttering through 
all their undertone ; that magnificent whole, where 
we shall see, one day, u the very abstract and brief 
chronicle of the time," the " very body of the age, 
its form and pressure," under any costume of time 
and country, or under the drapery of any fiction, 
however absurd or monstrous, which this author 
shall find already popularized to his hands, and 
available for his purposes. Hard, indeed, was the 
time, ill bestead was the spirit of the immemorial 
English freedom, when the genius of works such 
as these was compelled to stoop to such a scene 
to find its instruments. 



DELIA BACON. 141 

How could we understand fnom such a source, 
while that wretched player was still crying it for 
his own worthless ends, this majestic exhibition of 
our common human life from the highest intellec- 
tual and social standpoint of that wondrous age, 
letting in, on all the fripperies and affectations, 
the arrogance and pretension of that illustrious 
centre of social life, the new philosophic beam, 
and sealing up in it, for all time, u all the uses 
and customs" of the world that then was? Ar- 
rested with that transparent petrifaction, in all the 
rushing life of the moment, and set, henceforth, 
on the table of philosophic halls for scientific il- 
lustration ; its gaudy butterflies impaled upon the 
wing, in their perpetual gold ; its microscopic in- 
sects, " spacious in the possession of land and dirt," 
transfixed in all the swell and flutter of the mo- 
ment ; its fantastic apes, unrobed for inextinguish- 
able mortal laughter and celestial tears, still play- 
ing, all unconsciously, their solemn pageants 
through ; how could the showman explain all this to 
us — how could the player tell us what it meant ? 

How could the player's mercenary motive and 
the player's range of learning and experiment give 
us the key to this new application of the human 
reason to the human life, from the new vantage- 
ground of thought, but just then rescued from the 
past, and built up painfully from all its wreck ? 
How could we understand, from such a source, 
this new, and strange, and persevering application 



142 DELIA BACON. 

of thought to life, not merely to society and to 
her laws, but to nature, too ; pursuing her to her 
last retreats, and holding everywhere its mirror 
up to her, reflecting the whole boundary of her 
limitations; laying bare, in its cold, clear, pure 
depths, in all their unpolite, undraped scientific 
reality, the actualities which society, as it is, can 
only veil, and the evils which society, as it is, can 
only hide and palliate ? 

In vain the shrieking queen remonstrates, for it 
is the impersonated reason whose clutch is on her, 
and it says, you go not hence till you have seen 
the inmost part of you. But does all this tell on 
the thousand pounds ? Is the ghost's word good 
for that ? 

No wonder that Hamlet refused to speak, or to 
be commanded to any utterance of harmony, let 
the critics listen and entreat as they would, while 
this illiterate performer, who knew no touch of 
all that divine music of his, from its lowest note 
to the top of his key, was still sounding him and 
fretting him. We shall take another key and 
another interpreter with us when we begin to un- 
derstand a work which comprehends in its design 
all our human aims and activities, and tracks them 
to their beginnings and ends ; which demands the 
ultimate, scientific perpetual reason in all our life 
— a w r ork which dares to defer the punishment of 
the crime that society visits with her most dreaded 
penalties, till all the principles of the human ac- 



DELIA BACON. 143 

tivity have been collected ; till all the human con- 
ditions have been explored ; till the only universal 
rational human principle is found — a work which 
dares to defer the punishment of the crime that 
society condemns, till its principle has been tracked 
through the crime which she tolerates ; through 
the crime which she sanctions ; through the crime 
which she crowns with all her honors. 

We are, indeed, by no means insensible to the 
difference between this Shakespeare drama, and 
that on which it is based, and that which surrounds 
it. We do, indeed, already pronounce that differ- 
ence, and not faintly, in our word Shakespeare ; for 
that is what the word now means with us, though 
we received it with no such significance. Its his- 
torical development is but the next step in our 
progress. 

Yes, there were men in England then, who had 
heard somewhat of those masters of the olden 
time, hight iEschylus and Sophocles — men who 
had heard of Euripides too, and next, Aristopha- 
nes — men who had heard of Terence, and not of 
Terence only, but of his patrons — men who had 
heard of Plato, too, and of his master. There 
were men in England, in those days, who knew 
well enough what kind of an instrumentality the 
drama had been in its original institution, and with 
what voices it had then spoken ; who knew, also, 
its permanent relations to the popular mind, and 
its capability for adaptation to new social exigen- 



144 DELIA BACON. 

cies ; men, quick enough to perceive, and ready 
enough to appreciate to the utmost, the facilities 
which this great organ of the wisdom of antiquity- 
offered for effectual communication between the 
loftiest mind, at the height of its culture, and that 
mind of the world in which this, impelled by no 
law of its own ordaining, seeks ever its own self- 
completion and perpetuity. 

And where had this mighty instrument of popu- 
lar sway, this mechanism for moving and mould- 
ing the multitude, its first origin, but among men 
initiated in the profoundest religious and philo- 
sophic mysteries of their time, among men exer- 
cised in the control and administration of public 
affairs ; men clothed even with imperial sway, the 
joint administrators of the government of Athens, 
when Athens sat on the summit of her power, the 
crowned mistress of the seas, the imperial ruler of 
" a thousand cities." 

Yes, Theseus, and Solon, and Cleisthenes, and 
Pythagoras, must be its antecedents there ; it 
could not be produced there, till all Athena had 
been for ages in Athens, till Athena had been for 
ages in all : till three centuries of Olympiads had 
poured the Grecian life-blood through it, from By- 
zantium to Sicily ; it could not be produced there, 
till the life of the state was in each true Athenian 
nerve, till each true Athenian's nerve was in the 
growing state ; it could not begin to be produced 
there, till new religious inspirations from the east 




4Mftl»'ft 



DELIA BACON. 145 

had reached, with their foreign stimulus, the 
deeper sources of the national life, till the secret 
philosophic tenet of the inner temple had over- 
flowed, with new gold, the ancient myth, and kin- 
dled with new fires the hearts of the nation's 
leaders. The gay summits of Homer's " ever- 
young" Olympus must be reached and overlaid 
anew from the earth's central mysteries ; the Dio- 
nysian procession must enter the temple ; the road 
to it must cross iEgaleos ; the Pnyx must empty 
its benches into it ; Piraeus must crowd its stran- 
gers' seat with her many costumes, before iEschy- 
lus or Sophocles could find an audience to com- 
mand all their genius. Nay, Zeno and Anaxago- 
ras must send their pupils thither, and Socrates 
must come in, and the most illustrious scholars of 
the Olympian cities, from Abdera to Leontium, 
must be found there, before all the latent re- 
sources of the Grecian drama could be unfolded. 

And there were men in England, in the age of 
Elizabeth, who had mastered the Greek and Ro- 
man history, and not only that, but the history of 
their own institutions — men who knew precisely 
what kind of crisis in human history that was 
which they were born to occupy. And they had 
seen the indigenous English drama struggling up, 
through the earnest, but childish, exhibitions of 
the cathedral — through " Miracles," and " Mys- 
teries," and " Moralities," to be arrested, in its yet 
undeveloped vigor, with the unfit and unyielding 




146 DELIA BACON. 

forms of the finished Grecian art ; and when, too, 
by the combined effect of institutions otherwise at 
variance, all that had, till then, made its life, was 
suddenly abstracted from it. The royal ordinances 
which excluded it, henceforth, from all that vital 
range of topics which the censorship of a capricious 
and timorous despotism might include among the 
interdicted questions of church and state, found it 
already expelled from the religious sanctuaries — 
in which not the drama only, but all that which 
we call art, par excellence, has its birth and nur- 
ture. And that was the crisis in which the pul- 
pit began to open its new drain upon it, having 
only a vicious play-house, where once the indefi- 
nite priestly authority had summoned all the soul 
to its spectacles, and the long-drawn aisle, and 
fretted vault, had lent to them their sheltering 
sanctities ; where once, as of old, the Athenian 
temple had pressed its scene into the heart of the 
Athenian hill — the holy hill — and opened its 
subterranean communication with Eleusis, while its 
centre was the altar on which the gods themselves 
threw incense. 

And yet, there was a moment in the history of 
the national genius, when, roused to its utmost — 
stimulated to its best capability of ingenuity and 
invention — it found itself constrained to stoop at 
its height, even to the threshold of this same de- 
graded play-house. There were men in England, 
who knew what latent capacities that debased in- 



DELIA BACON. 147 

strument of genius yet contained within it — who 
knew that in the master's hand it might yet be 
made to yield, even then, and under those condi- 
tions, better music than any which those old Greek 
sons of song had known how to wake in it. 

These men knew well enough the proper rela- 
tion between the essence of the drama and its 
form. " Considering poetry in respect to the verse, 
and not to the argument," says one, " though men 
in learned languages may tie themselves to ancient 
measures ; yet, in modern languages, it seems to 
me as free to make new measures as to make new 
dances; and, in these things, the sense is a better 
judge than the art." Surely, a Schlegel himself 
could not give us a truer Shakespearean rule than 
that. Indeed, if we can but catch them when the 
wind is south-southwest — these grave and oracu- 
lar Elizabethan wits — we shall find them putting 
two and two together, now and then, and drawing 
inferences, and making distinctions which would 
have much surprised their " uncle-fathers " and 
" aunt-mothers " at the time, if they had but noted 
them. But, as they themselves tell us, " in regard 
to the rawness and unskillfulness of the hands 
through which they pass, the greatest matters are 
sometimes carried in the weakest ciphers." Even 
over their own names, and in those learned tongues 
of theirs, if we can but once find their stops, 
and the skill to command them to any utterance 
of harmony, they will discourse to us, in spite of 
the disjointed times, the most eloquent music 



148 DELIA BACON. 

For, although they had, indeed, the happiness 
to pursue their studies under the direct personal 
supervision of those two matchless scholars, " Eliza 
and our James," whose influence in the world of 
letters was then so signally felt, they, neverthe- 
less, evidently ventured to dip into antiquity a 
little on their own account, and that, apparently, 
without feeling called upon to render in a per- 
fectly unambiguous report in full of all that they 
found there, for the benefit of their illustrious pa- 
trons, to whom, of course, their literary labors are 
dedicated. There seemed, indeed, to be no occa- 
sion for unpegging the basket on the house's top, 
and trying conclusions in any so summary man- 
ner. 

These men distinctly postpone, not their per- 
sonal reputation only, but the interpretation of 
their avowed works, to freer ages. There were 
sparrows abroad then. The tempest was already 
" singing in the wind," for an ear fine enough to 
catch it ; but only invisible Ariels could dare " to 
play" then " on pipe and tabor" (stage direction). 
" Thought is free," but only base Trinculos and 
low-born Stephanos could dare to whisper to it. 
" That is the tune of our catch, played by the pic- 
ture of — Nobody." 

Yes, there was one moment in that nation's his- 
tory, wherein the costume, the fable, the scenic ef- 
fect, and all the attractive and diverting appliances 
and concomitants of the stage, even the degrada- 



DELIA BACON. 149 

tion into which it had fallen, its known subser- 
viency to the passions of the audience, its habit of 
creating a spectacle merely, all combined to fur- 
nish to men, in whom the genius of the nation had 
attained its highest form, freer instrumentalities 
than the book, the pamphlet, the public document, 
the parliament, or the pulpit, when all alike were 
subject to an oppressive and despotic censorship, 
when all alike were forbidden to meddle with their 
own proper questions, when cruel maimings and 
tortures old and new, life-long imprisonment, and 
death itself, awaited, not a violation of these re- 
strictions merely, but a suspicion of an intention, 
or even wish, to violate them — penalties which 
England's noblest men suffered, on suspicion only. 
There was one moment in that history, in which 
the ancient drama had, in new forms, its old 
power ; when, stamped and blazoned on its surface 
everywhere with the badges of servitude, it had 
yet leaping within the indomitable heart of its an- 
cient freedom, the spirit of the immemorial Euro- 
pean liberties, which Magna Charta had only rec- 
ognized, and more than that, the freedom of the 
new ages that were then beginning, " the freedom 
of the chainless mind." There was one moment 
in which all the elements of the national genius, 
that are now separated and incorporated in insti- 
tutions as wide apart, at least, as earth and heaven, 
were held together, and that in their first vigor, 
pressed from without into their old Greek conjunc- 



150 DELIA BACON. 

tion. That moment there was ; it is chronicled ; 
we have one word for it; we call it — Shakespeare! 

Has the time come at last, or has it not yet 
come, in which this message of the new time can 
be laid open to us ? This message from the lips of 
one endowed so wondrously, with skill to utter it ; 
endowed, not with the speaker's melodious tones 
and subduing harmonies only, but with the teach- 
er's divinely glowing heart, with the ambition that 
seeks its own in all, with the love that is sweeter 
than the tongues of men and angels. Are we, or 
are we not, his legatees ? Surely this new sum- 
ming up of all the real questions of our common 
life, from such an elevation in it, this new philoso- 
phy of all men's business and desires, cannot be 
without its perpetual vital uses. For, in all the 
points on which the demonstration rests, these dia- 
grams from the dissolving views of the past are 
still included in the problems of the present. 

And if, in this new and more earnest research 
into the true ends and meanings of this greatest 
of our teachers, the poor player who was willing 
enough to assume the responsibility of these works, 
while they were still plays — theatrical exhibitions 
only, and quite in his line for the time ; who might, 
indeed, be glad enough to do it for the sake of the 
princely patronage that henceforth encompassed his 
fortunes, even to the granting of a thousand pounds 
at a time, if that were needed to complete his 
purchase — if this good man, sufficiently perplexed 



DELIA BACON. 151 

already with the developments which the modern 
criticism has by degrees already laid at his door, 
does here positively refuse to go any further with 
us on this road, why e'en let us shake hands with 
him and part, he as his business and desire shall 
point him ; " for every man hath business and desire 
such as it is," and not without a grateful recollec- 
tion of the good service he has rendered us. 

The publisher of these plays let his name go 
down still and to all posterity on the cover of it. 
They were his plays. He brought them out — he 
and his firm. They took the scholar's text, that 
dull black and white, that mere ink and paper, and 
made of it a living, speaking, many-colored, glit- 
tering reality, which even the groundlings of that 
time could appreciate, in some sort. What was 
Hamlet to them, without his " inky cloak " and his 
"forest of feathers" and his "razed shoes" and 
" the roses" on them ? And they came out of this 
man's bag — he was the owner of the " wardrobe " 
and of the other " stage properties." He was the 
owner of the manuscripts; and if he came hon- 
estly by them, whose business was it to inquire 
any further, then ? If there was no one who chose, 
just then, to claim the authorship of them, whose 
else should they be ? Was not the actor himself 
a poet, and a very facetious one, too ? Witness 
the remains of him, the incontestable poetical re- 
mains of him, which have come down to us. What 
if his ill-natured contemporaries, whose poetic glo- 



152 DELIA BACON. 

ries he was eclipsing forever with those new plays 
of his, did assail him on his weak points, and call 
him, in the face of his time, " a Johannes Facto- 
tum," and held up to public ridicule his particular 
style of acting, plainly intimating that it was 
chargeable with that very fault which the prince 
of Denmark directs his tragedians to omit — did 
not the blundering editor of that piece of offen- 
sive criticism get a decisive hint from some quar- 
ter, that he might better have withheld it ; and 
was it not humbly retracted and hushed up di- 
rectly? Some of the earlier anonymous plays, 
which were included in the collection published, 
after this player's decease, as the plays of William 
Shakespeare, are, indeed, known to have been pro- 
duced anonymously at other theatres, and by com- 
panies with which this actor had never any con- 
nection ; but the poet's company and the player's 
were, as it seems, two different things ; and that is 
a fact which the criticism and history of these 
plays, as it stands at present, already exhibits. 
Several of the plays which form the nucleus of the 
Shakespeare drama had already been brought out, 
before the Stratford actor was yet in a position to 
assume that relation to it which proved so advan- 
tageous to his fortunes. Such a nucleus of the 
Shakespeare drama there was already, when the 
name which this actor bore, with such orthograph- 
ical variations as the purpose required, began to 
be assumed as the name and device of that new 



DELIA BACON. 153 

sovereignty of genius which was then first rising 
and kindling behind its cloud, and dimming and 
overflowing with its greater glory all the less, and 
gilding all it shone on. The machinery of these 
theatrical establishments offered, indeed, the most 
natural and effective, as well as, at that time, on 
other accounts, the most convenient mode of exhi- 
bition for that particular class of subjects which 
the genius of this particular poet naturally inclined 
him to meddle with. He had the most profoundly 
philosophical reasons for preferring that mode of 
exhibiting his poems, as will be seen hereafter. 

And, when we have once learned to recognize 
the actor's true relations to the works which have 
given to his name its anomalous significance, we 
shall be prepared, perhaps, to accept, at last, this 
great offer of aid in our readings of these works, 
which has been lying here now two hundred and 
thirty years, unnoticed ; then, and not till then, 
we shall be able to avail ourselves, at last, of the 
aid of those " friends of his," to whom, two hun- 
dred and thirty years ago, " knowing that his wit 
could no more lie hid than it could be lost," the 
editors of the first printed collection of these works 
venture to refer us ; " those other friends of his, 
whom if we need, can be our guides ; and, if we 
need them not, we are able to lead ourselves and 
others, and such readers they wish him." 

If we had accepted either of these two condi- 
tions — if we had found ourselves with those who 



154 DELIA BACON. 

need this offered guidance, or with those who need 
it not — if we had but gone far enough in our 
readings of these works to feel the want of that 
aid, from exterior sources, which is here proffered 
us — there would not have been presented to the 
world, at this hour, the spectacle — the stupen- 
dous spectacle — of a nation referring the origin of 
its drama — a drama more noble, and learned, and 
subtle than the Greek — to the invention — the 
accidental, unconscious invention — of a stupid, 
ignorant, illiterate, third-rate play-actor. 

If we had, indeed, but applied to these works 
the commonest rules of historical investigation and 
criticism, we might, ere this, have been led to in- 
quire, on our own account, whether " this player 
here," who brought them out, might not possibly, 
in an age like that, like the player in Hamlet, have 
had some friend, or " friends," who could, " an' if 
they would," or " an' if they might," explain his 
miracle to us, and the secret of his " poor cell." 

If we had accepted this suggestion, the true 
Shakespeare would not have been now to seek. 
In the circle of that patronage with which this 
player's fortunes brought him in contact, in that 
illustrious company of wits and poets, we need not 
have been at a loss to find the philosopher who 
writes, in his prose as well, and over his own name 
also, 

" In Nature's Infinite Book of Secrecy, 
A little I can read ; " — 



DELIA BACON. 155 

we should have found one, at least, furnished for 
that last and ripest proof of learning which the 
drama, in the unmiraculous order of the human 
development, must constitute ; that proof of it in 
which philosophy returns from history, from its 
noblest fields, and from her last analysis, with the 
secret and material of the creative synthesis — with 
the secret and material of art. With this direction, 
we should have been able to identify, ere this, the 
Philosopher who is only the Poet in disguise — the 
Philosopher who calls himself the New Magician — 
the Poet who was toiling and plotting to fill the 
Globe with his Arts, and to make our common, 
every-day human life poetical — who would have 
all our life, and not a part of it, learned, artistic, 
beautiful, religious. 

We should have found, ere this, one, with learn- 
ing broad enough, and deep enough, and subtle 
enough, and comprehensive enough, one with no- 
bility of aim and philosophic and poetic genius 
enough, to be able to claim his own, his own im- 
mortal progeny — undwarfed, unblinded, unde- 
prived of one ray or dimple of that all-pervading 
reason that informs them ; one who is able to re- 
claim them, even now, " cured and perfect of their 
limbs, and absolute in their numbers, as he con- 
ceived them." 



XI. 

There are those who can remember how pub- 
lic attention was startled, thirty-two years ago, by 
this unquestionably bold and brilliant paper. The 
success which it made, however, was all that ever 
befell its author from her presentation of these 
ideas, either in the way of public approval or of 
the means of living. Even the publishers' pur- 
pose, expressed in their letter to her, and an- 
nounced to the public, to continue a series of like 
papers, was destined to fail. 

Negotiating from over sea, and through Emer- 
son as an intermediary, she had, without knowing 
it, fallen into embarrassing complications with dif- 
ferent publishers. The Boston house of Phillips, 
Sampson & Co. had expressly agreed in August to 
publish the entire book when completed. Dix & 
Edwards, in New York, had undertaken to print 
the first paper in their magazine, had asked for 
more, and had declared their desire to treat for 
the publication of the whole. 

From London, therefore, she now sought to ad- 
just her relations to these two, which had been 
complicated by the circumstance that the Boston 
house communicated only with Emerson, and the 
New York house with the author directly. Writ- 



DELIA BACON. 157 

ing now on the 20th of December to Dix & Ed- 
wards, she expresses much regret that the exposi- 
tion of her views must proceed so slowly through 
a monthly periodical, and says moreover : " The 
first five or six articles, which make the first part 
of the work (four of which I have now sent), are 
those which I should least rely on for its accept- 
ance." It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, 
that they answered her that a reading of her sec- 
ond, third, and fourth articles, received from Mr. 
Emerson, " convinces us that Mr. Emerson is right 
as to the publication of the work. It should de. 
cidedly appear in a complete book, and not in a 
magazine." These articles " are so general in 
their nature, and apparently make so little prog- 
ress in the demonstration of the main proposition, 
that if given separately they would weaken rather 
than increase the interest in the subject. Indeed, 
after having put the second article in type for our 
February number, we have withheld it for that 
reason." " If, however, you could furnish for our 
magazine some of the more advanced chapters 
without their being injured by being taken out of 
their proper connection with the others, it would 
be not only advantageous to us and you, but ser- 
viceable to the reception of the work when it 
comes to be published." But as for making such 
publication themselves, since Phillips & Sampson 
had already proposed for it, they preferred not to 
interfere, and would write to Emerson accordingly. 



158 DELIA BACON. 

This, then, was the end to her of all immediate 
hope ; and upon hope alone, it seems, had she 
been for months sustained. There was of course 
still the distant expectation — the certainty rather 
— of ample means when once the book itself 
should be before the world. But how should that 
be managed, when civil declination was the very 
best that any publisher had been persuaded to 
give ? And how, even, should she meanwhile u re- 
tain her connection with this planet," which she 
cared to do only that the work might be done ? 
She had even brought herself, as she had written 
to her brother might be possible, to " apply to 
the American minister." That official was later 
in the same year chosen President of the United 
States, and was very near to being their last Pres- 
ident. A dignified note, signed " James Bu- 
chanan," informs her that he will do himself the 
pleasure of calling upon her; but she could not 
bring herself, when he called, to tell him of her 
need. To her old friends in Cambridge, however, 
she had now, after years of silence, told the story 
of her late experience with an unreserve which 
she had found impossible with the cold and grave 
stranger who made an official call upon her. Late 
in December she wrote to them ; and her letter 
recrossed the ocean to Mrs. Professor Farrar, at 
Pau in the Pyrenees. She seems to have asked 
for nothing; nor did she need to; but instant 
relief came to her without the asking ; and, still 



DELIA BACON. 159 

better, evidences of the strong affection which it 
had always been her fortune to command. What 
she wrote in reply is partly preserved in Mrs. Far- 
rar's " Recollections." 

" She lived [at St. Albans] a year, and then 
came to London, all alone and unknown, to seek a 
home there. She thus describes her search after 
lodgings : * On a dark December day, about one 
o'clock, I came into this metropolis, intending, 
with the aid of Providence, to select, between that 
and nightfall, a residence in it. I had copied 
from the " Times" several advertisements of lodg- 
ing-houses, but none of them suited me. The cab- 
driver, perceiving what I was in search of, began 
to make suggestions of his own, and finding that 
he was a man equal to the emergency, and know- 
ing that his acquaintance with the subject was 
larger than mine, I put the business into his 
hands. I told him to stop at the first good house 
which he thought would suit me, and he brought 
me to this door, where I have been ever since. 
Any one who thinks this is not equal to Elijah 
and his raven, and Daniel in the lions' den, does 
not know what it is for a lady, and a stranger, to 
live for a year in London, without any money to 
speak of, maintaining all the time the position of a 
lady, and a distinguished lady too ; and above all, 
such a one cannot be acquainted with the nature 
of cab-drivers and lodging-house keepers in gen- 
eral. The one with whom I lodge has behaved to 



160 DELIA BACON. 

me like an absolute gentleman. No one could 
have shown more courtesy and delicacy. For six 
months at a time he has never sent me a bill; 
before this I had always paid him weekly, and I 
believe that is customary. When, after waiting 
six months, I sent him ten pounds, and he knew 
that it was all I had, he wrote a note to me, which 
I preserve as a curiosity, to say that he would en- 
tirely prefer that I should keep it. I have lived 
upon this man's confidence in me for a year, and 
this comparatively pleasant and comfortable home 
is one that I owe to the judgment and taste of a 
cab-driver. . . . Your ten pounds was brought me 
two or three hours after your letter came, and I 
sent it immediately to Mr. Walker, and now I am 
entirely relieved of that most painful feeling of 
the impropriety of depending upon him in this 
way, which it has required all my faith and phi- 
losophy to endure, because he can now very well 
wait for the rest, and perceive that the postpone- 
ment is not an indefinite one. Your letter has 
warmed my heart, and that was what had suffered 
most. I would have frozen into a Niobe before I 
would have asked any help for myself, and would 
sell gingerbread and apples at the corner of a 
street for the rest of my days before I could stoop, 
for myself, to such humiliations as I have borne 
in behalf of my work, which was the world's 
work, and I knew that I had a right to demand 
aid for it.'" 1 

1 Mrs. Farrar's Recollections of Seventy Tears, pp. 323-325. 



XII. 

In this extremity of hers she did not seek re- 
course for help to those of her own flesh and blood 
in her native country. They were very few ; and 
none of them could have helped her much, from 
their narrow means, and under their own heavy 
burdens. Besides, the eldest brother, to whom she 
had looked as to the head of her family, had given 
her deep offense by his strong disapproval of the 
purpose for which she had crossed the ocean. 
Late in April, therefore, her brother had written 
to Emerson for news of her, since her relatives 
were " without any recent intelligence of her." 

Between these two men there must have been 
as utter a want of sympathy as can be imagined 
in the case of two New Englanders of like age, of 
like descent and education, of like professional 
and intellectual habits, and of strong intellectual 
powers. There was hardly so much as personal 
acquaintance even, though each was well known 
in some sense to the other. But there was no 
want of tender appreciativeness on Emerson's 
part of the natural solicitude of the brother, either 
in this first response or in the answers which he 
sent to later inquiries during the short remainder 
of her life. 



162 DELIA BACON. 

Concord, 25 April, 1856. 
Dear Sir, — I received your note last night. 
I am sorry to say that I have not had any letter 
directly from Miss Bacon since last December. 
Her publishers have a letter dated 28 February 
last. Her address at her last writing was still 12 
Spring Street, Hyde Park Gardens, London. I had 
no right to expect a letter after December, as I 
had told her that I was going to Illinois, about 
Christmas, to be absent six weeks or more ; and 
she accordingly wrote directly to Dix & Edwards 
of " Putnam's Magazine." I have regretted much 
my tasks and preoccupations that forbade my 
keeping up an active correspondence with her, 
and reproached myself lately with omissions, which 
after a few weeks I am hoping to repair : and I 
hear with the more concern that you have no 
recent news of her. Her letters are full of con- 
fidence and devotion to her task — heroic devotion 
to it — and repeated expressions of indifference as 
to what becomes of herself, if only she accom- 
plishes her task. Her latest letters had also some 
sad allusions, I thought, to disappointment in not 
receiving expected letters, and some misgivings as 
to her means for remaining in England to prose- 
cute her studies. Her arrangements for publica- 
tion had not turned out to my wish. I advised 
her not to print in Putnam, but to publish her 
results in a book ; and I communicated to her a 
proposition from Phillips, Sampson & Co., which, 



DELIA BACON. 163 

well-explained, was fair and even generous. But 
she decided to print in Putnam ; and the editors, 
after the first article was printed, refused to print 
the following ones, and assigned their reasons. 
This refusal left me in no proper plight to carry 
the book to Phillips & Sampson again, after it was 
thus used and rejected. 

I have not written to her, as indeed I have laid 
my whole correspondence on the shelf until cer- 
tain imperative tasks of my own are ended, which 
should soon be. Meantime, I shall await with 
great interest your news from her, and shall be 
entirely at your service to obtain information re- 
specting her address, etc., if she has changed her 
place. — With great respect, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Rev. Dr. Bacon. 



XIII. 

If Delia Bacon had been herself a dramatic 
poet she could not have brought more faithfully 
into action, in this dull tragedy which her life 
was, the Horatian precept which forbids the in- 
tervention of a God into the plot until the fit 
occasion. That occasion had now come. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne was at this time consul 
for the United States at Liverpool. Years before, 
he had written " The Scarlet Letter" and " The 
House of the Seven Gables," and had become 
famous. In that same village of Concord, which 
was already renowned through Emerson, he had 
settled down for the secluded life of a man of let- 
ters, when, in 1853, his warm friend President 
Pierce bestowed upon him this place, so attractive 
by the great income which then belonged to it 
that he could not refuse it. At the very time, 
almost, that Delia Bacon was sailing for England, 
Hawthorne went to assume his new and not con- 
genial duties. To him and to his wife she was 
personally unknown, although she had no warmer 
or more sympathetic friend than Miss Elizabeth 
Peabody, the sister of Mrs. Hawthorne. And to 
him, when all other help and hope seemed to have 



DELIA BACOiV. 165 

failed, she addressed herself at last, on the 8th of 
May, 1856, from her London lodgings, in a letter, 
of which this is only a part : 

" Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — I take the liberty 
of addressing myself to you without an introduc- 
tion, because you are the only one I know of in 
this hemisphere able to appreciate the position in 
which I find myself at this moment, and I know of 
no one else here at present fully qualified to judge 
of the claims of a work which is not hemispherical, 
but the work of men whose sign was * Hercules 
and his load too.' . . . 

"Of course it is not pleasant to me to bring this 
subject to the attention of strangers, as I have 
been and still am compelled to, for it seems like 
a personal intrusion, and like asking a personal 
favor ; and though I know well myself what 
grounds I have for claiming all the aid I need, 
it is not every kind of mind to which I can 
make them apparent, perhaps, in the course of a 
brief interview. Certainly there is no kind of 
honest thing I would not rather do than to ask aid 
on its behalf from those who are not able to ap- 
preciate it in its present form ; but this also has 
been laid upon me. I tried long to get the means 
of doing it all by myself, without asking any one's 
leave or help. But I did not succeed in it. I lost 
years in the endeavor ; and it would never have 
been done at all if some of my friends had not 



166 DELIA BACON. 

generously come to my aid. Mr. Emerson is the 
one who has from first to last stood by me, and 
has never in any instance failed to render me the 
assistance I sought of him. And I am greatly in- 
debted to Miss Peabody for her most generous 
and active interest in the subject, though it is 
now a long time since I have had any communi- 
cation with her in reference to it. 

" If it were anything in the world but what 
it is, — a science, — a science that the world is 
waiting for, I could not do and suffer what I have 
done and suffered on its behalf. I ought not to 
hesitate at all to ask for all the help I need in it, 
for it is a work which the Providence of this 
world has imposed on me, and I have cast into its 
treasury not only all the living that I had, such as 
it was, but my life also. . . . 

" For I want some literary counsel, and such as 
no Englishman of letters is able to give me. Mr. 
Carlyle has been a most cordial personal friend to 
me, but there are reasons why I could not ask this 
help from him, which would become apparent to 
you if you should look at the work at all. Before 
I knew that you were coming to England, and 
when I had not yet found the means of coming 
myself, I had wished to communicate my discov- 
ery to you, and Mr. Emerson had promised me an 
opportunity of doing so ; but I concluded that 
your duties here would be so engrossing that it 
would be impossible for you to think about it. 



DELIA BACON. 167 

But now that it is certain beyond all possibility of 
a doubt, now that there is no shadow of a shade of 
uncertainty in regard to it, I feel that I should be 
wanting to my position if I allowed the dread I 
have of annoying you and intruding on that 
leisure which is so precious to you now, to pre- 
vent me from taking any step which might pos- 
sibly tend to effect my object. 

" The work admits of publication in separate 
portions. What I want is to begin to publish 
immediately a part of it, enough to secure the dis- 
covery. I suppose there is hardly a doubt that 
some American publisher might be found to take 
the plates on those terms, for Phillips & Samp- 
son offered last July to advance forty pounds on 
the first edition, and all the extra expense of this 
arrangement is by this proposal to be subtracted 
from my share of the profits. But I should not 
dare to begin without some advice. I would not 
be willing to print any part of it till some friendly 
eye had overlooked it, if there were no other 
reason for delay. It is not hard reading. Would 
you be willing to take a part of it, a part which 
you could read in an evening or so, and tell me 
whether it would pay for the cost of the plates or 
no? For that is the question. If you should 
give your consent to it, I think I would send you 
to begin with the very least popular part of it, 
which contains the 'Art of Tradition,' which was 
not only invented, but employed for the Advance- 



168 DELIA BACON. 

merit of Learning; because this includes inciden- 
tally the whole science which had to be brought 
out then in a popular form, in order to answer 
the purpose of its founders. It is a science which 
naturally requires that form however, and which 
could not be adequately exhibited in any other. 
But this part contains that scientific abstract of it, 
which is the key to the popular theatrical exhi- 
bition, and which enables the scholar to compre- 
hend at a glance the whole scope of this discovery. 
" And then afterwards, if you were not offended 
with that, I should like to send you one of those 
Plays unfolded, in which, by means of the Baco- 
nian Rhetoric or illustrated delivery of sciences, the 
Baconian Logic is applied to the delicate subject of 
the Cure of the Commonweal in the reign of James 
the First, or one in which it is applied to the most 
important social questions, which are as much in 
need of scientific treatment now as they were at 
the time when they were first included under the 
science of nature in general by its founders. And 
perhaps in the end you would be willing to glance 
over at your leisure the part which makes the In- 
troduction to the common reader, which contains a 
new view of the Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, whose 
place in the World's History it is our business to 
define. I depend on a series of Articles I have 
sent to * Putnam's,' written in a very different style, 
in which I have undertaken to send the old Player 
about his business, to make way for this graver 



DELIA BACON. 169 

performance, and I think if those should be pub- 
lished, you will find that the boards are cleared 
and ready for my new actors. That I have just 
written, but this part which I wish you to look at 
has been ready and waiting here for nearly a year ; 
but the Atlantic Ocean and the English nation 
were too mighty for me, and besides I had to wait 
I suppose till this great war 1 was done. I hope 
you will understand that I do not speak with any 
assurance of my own part in this work. All my 
confidence is grounded on the indestructible value 
of the discovery. I was not a writer when I 
began, I despaired of ever being able to write it; 
I had to keep my secret for many years, because I 
did not know how to tell it. I came to this coun- 
try in the hope of escaping from that burthen. I 
expected to find here, all ready to my hands, what 
would make it unnecessary for me to enter upon 
this task. What I expected to find here, I know 
to be here now, and the means I need for possess- 
ing myself of this support are very simple now. 
. . . You see this is a piece of history made by 
Poets, and great men, the most magnificent mas- 
terly kind of men, and all those miserable little 
humdrum people, who think there can't be any- 
thing true but the sordid kind of prose and matter 
of fact that they are capable of, are going to be 
put to confusion with it forever, and they seem to 
have an instinctive perception of it. 

" And now, sir, you will begin to perceive, per- 

1 The Crimean War. 



170 DELIA BACON. 

haps, why it is that I address myself particularly 
to yourself in this emergency. ... I am deter- 
mined it shall not be my fault if this thing is lost 
to us, and there is nothing else I have left untried, 
I believe, in my attempts to save it." 

This was certainly an alarming appeal to come 
from an utter stranger to a man of shrinking 
sensitiveness, overburdened with distasteful official 
duties, with his full share of private anxieties, with 
his own literary work hampered and retarded by 
want of time and by private and public cares. It 
was an appeal which, upon his responding to it, 
brought him heavy burdens of many kinds, which 
indeed he could not have failed to foresee. It 
would not have been hard for him, had he been as 
fully endowed with insight as the wise people who 
have always found the sayings of Delia Bacon to 
be the palpable vagaries of a disordered mind, to 
dismiss her and her " work" with a discouraging 
word or two, and thus to save himself much care 
and toil and loss in many ways. It is no more 
than justice to her that men should know what 
Hawthorne thought of her. But to Hawthorne 
himself there is nothing in all his life or in all that 
he wrote more honorable than the noble generos- 
ity, the unwearying patience, the exquisite consid- 
erateness and delicacy, with which for two years 
he gave unstinted help, even of that material sort 
which she would not ask for, to this lonely coun- 



DELIA BACON. 171 

try woman. He never saw her — so he has told 
the world — but once ; and these letters will show 
how, in the approach of that mental disorder which 
her intense labors and anxieties were surely bring- 
ing on, she returned what seemed ingratitude, and 
almost outrage, for his patient and tender counsel 
and aid. If, indeed, there were no other reason 
for telling her melancholy story, the illumination 
which it casts upon the figure, already become 
romantic, of Hawthorne would justify it. 

These are the first of the many letters which 
make up the correspondence. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, May 12, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — It was quite unnecessary 
to send me these introductory letters (which I re- 
enclose) for I have long entertained a high respect 
for your character, and an interest in your object, 
so far as I understood it. To be sure, I know very 
little about it, not having seen the articles in 
" Putnam," nor heard anything but some vague 
talk from Miss Peabody, three years ago. Neither 
do I think myself a very fit person to comprehend 
the matter, nor to advise } r ou in it; especially 
now, when I am bothered and bored, and harassed 
and torn in pieces, by a thousand items of daily 
business, and benumbed as to that part of my mind 
to which your work would appeal, and depressed 
by domestic anxieties. I say this, however, by 



172 DELIA BACON. 

no means to excuse myself from the endeavor to 
be of service to you in any and every manner, but 
only to suggest reasons why I shall probably be 
useless as a critic and a judge. If you really think 
that I can promote your object, tell me definitely 
how, and try me ; and if I can say a true word to 
yourself about the work, it shall certainly be said; 
or if I can aid, personally, or through any connec- 
tions in London, in bringing the book before the 
public, it shall be done. 

I would not be understood, my dear Miss Bacon, 
as professing to have faith in the correctness of 
your views. In fact, I know far too little of thein 
to have any right to form an opinion : and as to 
the case of the "old Player" (whom you grieve 
my heart by speaking of so contemptuously) you 
will have to rend him out of me by the roots, and 
by main force, if at all. But I feel that you have 
done a thing that ought to be reverenced, in de- 
voting yourself so entirely to this object, whatever 
it be, and whether right or wrong ; and that, by 
so doing, you have acquired some of the privileges 
of an inspired person and a prophetess — and that 
the world is bound to hear you, if for nothing else, 
yet because you are so sure of your own mission. 

I gather from your note to Mr. Emerson that 
you are apprehensive of being anticipated by a 
work announced for publication in London. I 
have not seen this announcement ; but I would 
stake my life that you will not find your views 




DELIA BACON. 173 

trenched upon in the least ; although (having 
made your idea so obvious to yourself) it is natural 
that you should suppose it as clear as sunshine to 
any other mind. 

I know that you will not take any offense from 
the frankness with which I write. It is impossible 
for me to pay any compliments, or to speak any- 
thing but the plainest truth (according to my own 
views), in dealing with the noble earnestness of 
your character. 

Believe me, very sincerely, 

and most respectfully yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

P. S. If I had known that you were still in 
England, I should have tried to meet you before 
now ; but I thought you had long ago returned to 
America. I shall probably be in London in the 
course of next month, when Mrs. Hawthorne 
(whose health is very delicate) will be on her 
return from Madeira. If your affairs make it 
desirable, you can bid me come to you then. 

N. H. 

Your letter to Mr. Emerson was in season for 
the steamer, and has gone by it. N. H. 

12 Spring St., Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park, 
May 18, 1856. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — I thank you for your 
manful and whole-souled response to my applica- 
tion for help in my work, and I am not sorry that 




lf«M4* 



174 DELIA BACON. 

I wrote to you, if it were only for the sake of this 
return. You have quieted my apprehension a 
little in regard to the book I referred to in my note 
to Mr. Emerson, although I cannot say that my 
mind is altogether at rest on that subject. That 
view which you take of it I understand and appre- 
ciate, but still I do not quite like the title of it. 
And that was the immediate occasion of my writ- 
ing to you. For though I was aware of your being 
on this side of the Atlantic, and have often wished 
that it were possible to communicate with you in 
regard to my work, I knew how much time a Con- 
sul would be likely to have for a business of this 
kind, and I had not the conscience to ask you to 
interest yourself in it. 

But the discovery of " the Philosophy of Shake- 
speare " is the real discovery which I pretend to 
have made, and the other part is of no conse- 
quence except as it is connected with that ; and it 
was the necessity of getting my work out before 
this subject came to be discussed here which im- 
pressed me so strongly as to induce me to write 
to you. And in the interval between the writing 
of the note to Mr. Emerson and the conclusion 
to inclose rt to yourself, I saw an intimation in 
another quarter that something is going to be done 
in that department, and that the time for it has 
come. The Article in the last " Edinburgh Re- 
view " on the Collier controversy contains an inti- 
mation that that sort of criticism has had its day 



DELTA BACON. 175 

here, and that the period for an entirely different 
kind is now beginning. 

I should be very glad to be able to get my book 
printed here, and to put in circulation as many 
copies as are necessary to effect a legal publication 
and no more. I do not care to have any atten- 
tion directed to it in this country at present. It 
is not adapted to this hemisphere, and it is better 
that it should come out in America as an American 
work entirely. That opinion is however the result 
of my study of the subject since I came. There 
has been as yet I believe but one Article of it pub- 
lished in " Putnam's Magazine," and that is one 
that was written three years ago. But I have just 
been sending three or four more which I do rely on 
for introducing the subject properly to the atten- 
tion of those whom it concerns, and I have con- 
cluded to wait now till I hear from those, or until 
I receive an answer from Mr. Emerson, instead of 
resorting to any such desperate measures as those 
which I felt myself capable of when I wrote to you 
before. Still I should be very glad to avail myself 
of the kind interest you have expressed in my 
work as a work merely, to ask you to look over 
quite at your leisure a part of it which contains 
the doctrine of the work, that you may see what it 
is, and whether you approve of it or not, without 
feeling called upon to express any opinion, or to 
assume any responsibility in regard to it, which 
your want of time to consider the subject suffi- 



176 DELIA BACON. 

ciently, or the requirements of your public position, 
may make it unsuitable or inconvenient for you to 
assume. It is not as if I were asking you to judge 
of an original work of my own. It does not de- 
pend on my powers of composition for its claims, 
though it does perhaps for its chance of an imme- 
diate recognition of those claims. But I am giving 
you an idea that it is something much more formi- 
dable than it is. This book of mine does not re- 
quire study, though the books to which it is related 
do. The utmost that I ask for mine is a perusal. I 
am proposing to send you indeed the very driest 
part of it, and the one on which I do not rely for 
an impression with the public generally. But it is 
all out of that new fountain of philosophy, which is 
life itself condensed and intensified, — abstracted 
and cleared and recomposed in forms much more 
to the purpose than the spontaneous combinations. 
The truth is, I should be very glad to have it 
read, and you are the only person this side of the 
Atlantic whom I could ask to do it, and I would 
not urge it upon you, knowing as I do how serious 
your preoccupations are, if I did not know that you 
would find it at least an easy task, and for the 
sake of the good it promises, I hope a pleasant 
one. If I do send it to you you must take your 
own time for it, for since I have decided not to 
attempt to publish it till I am warranted in doing 
so by what I hear from America, there is no im- 
mediate urgency. 



DELIA BACON. 177 

I hope I may have the honor and pleasure of 
seeing both yourself and Mrs. Hawthorne when 
you come to London, though I have conversed so 
long with spirits that the idea of seeing any one 
in the body is quite appalling to my imagination. 
I am truly sorry to hear that Mrs. Hawthorne's 
state of health is a source of anxiety to you, and 
that she has been compelled to seek another climate 
on that account. Permit me to express my sincere 
hopes that she may return to you quite well. 
Though I have never seen her I have heard of her 
from those who know her well. 

Very gratefully yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

P. S. I am sorry to have hurt your feelings 
with my profane allusions to the Earl of Leicester's 
groom, a witty fellow enough in his way. But 
long familiarity with the facts has produced a 
hopeless obduracy in my mind on that point. 
The person that you love and reverence is not 
touched by my proceeding. I have not hurt a hair 
of his head. He is the one I am at work for. If 
anybody boasts of love and reverence, to him I 
might produce my case, and say with St. Paul c I 
more.' But I do not, of course, expect you to 
adopt my views until you find yourself compelled 
to do so, neither do I wish you to give the faintest 
countenance to them till you know fully what they 
are and their grounds. And this part of the book 



178 DELIA BACON. 

that T propose to send to you does not suffice to 
put you in possession of the case entirely, and it 
would not be proper to expect from you any 
avowal of opinion in regard to the question of 
the work based on that alone. D. B. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, May 16, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I am ready to receive the 
manuscript, as soon as you please to send it. 

I have been looking at the Shakspeare article, 

in the Edinburgh Review, and I do not see that it 

suggests anything more than a different system 

from Jhat heretofore in use for amending the text. 

Sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

[D. B. to Hawthorne.] 

12 Spring St., Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park, 
May 24 [1856]. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — I most thankfully 
avail myself of your kind permission to send you 
my manuscript, — a favor which, under the cir- 
cumstances, I do fully appreciate, and on account 
of the gravity of the questions involved in the 
work, and the feebleness of the agency employed 
in it, I shall have to bespeak your utmost patience. 
This is only a part, and a small part, of my book, 
and it was never meant to be read by itself. The 
articles sent to the Magazine were addressed to 
that violent presupposition which this discovery 



DELIA BACON. 179 

has to encounter at the first step, and I have no 
hesitation in saying that that part of the case 
which is produced in those articles disposes of the 
present theory of the authorship of these works. 
I do not claim anything more for it. But in the 
book, I relied on the historical part of the work, 
which precedes this, and on the Interpretation of 
the Plays, which follows it, to interest the general 
reader, while in this I am obliged to presuppose 
the attention of a class of readers specially quali- 
fied to consider a question of this kind, and who 
would be best prepared to weigh the kind of evi- 
dence which is produced here. 

You will see that the mere question of the 
authorship of the Plays is a secondary question in 
this inquiry. I found this system of philosophy in 
the Plays. They were my study for many years, 
and I worked it all out of them without knowing 
that it was that part of the great philosophic sys- 
tem which was brought out in that age, which 
naturally required this particular form of exhibi- 
tion, and which could not then be produced in any 
other, — and moreover that part of it which could 
not then be claimed by its authors in any form. I 
had read the " Advancement of Learning " more 
than once, but I had read it as a book that it was 
incumbent on me to read, and my only business 
was to see in it what the critics had told me I was 
to find there, so that my knowledge of the author 
and his aims really remained second-handed. I 



180 DELIA BACON. 

went to the reading of it with the common impres- 
sion in regard to the aim of this philosophy, and in 
regard to the personal character of the author, then 
freshened up by Mr. Macaulay's vivid exhibition 
of both into a sentiment of absolute detestation, 
and though I saw some things there which very 
much surprised me, for I was then studying Ham- 
let, and I could not conceal from myself the fact 
that in one or two places this man did seem to be 
in his secret, and that it was not the man that 
Macaulay described at all, but one of a very differ- 
ent range of comprehension and doctrine, and 
though I never did get those glimpses of him quite 
out of my mind, I could not think of resisting such 
an authority, and suffered myself to be over- 
whelmed with the weight of it, — at least I did not 
pursue the inquiry any further. But my impres- 
sion of the character of the man was so strong that 
I made a personal thing of it, and there was no 
man, dead or alive, that really on the whole gave 
me so much cause of offense with his contradic- 
tions. He appeared to be such a standing disgrace 
to genius and learning, that I had not the heart 
to ask anybody to study anything. And that was 
the state of my mind exactly when in my study of 
the Plays, after having worked my way at last to 
the inmost of those inner readings, which you will 
find referred to here, I found myself directed to 
that source for further information in regard to 
the plan of these works, and particularly for " the 






DELIA BACON. 181 

table " of them, and I found the authorship of them 
claimed by this man, and his associates, of whom I 
then knew nothing ; I had always supposed that 
he was alone in his enterprise, and as to the per- 
sons named, and particularly as to his chief partner 
in his literary undertakings, my knowledge of hirn 
then would have led me to think of anything 
sooner than the possibility of such a thing. But 
the subsequent investigation shows that that read- 
ing was correct. He was associated with this man, 
though the fact of an association was the fact 
which was most guarded from observation. There 
was much use for what Lord Bacon calls " color," 
in those times, and the exigency found or produced 
persons of great artistic gifts in the management 
of it. I did not intend to trouble you with this 
preface, but as I have not even the introductory 
article which has been published to send to you, 
and as I have concluded to keep back the historical 
part of the work, because I think it admits of being 
very much improved, it is proper perhaps to say 
as much as this by way of introduction, since I 
have to put my work to so severe a test as to ask 
you to begin in the middle of it with your criti- 
cism. And as Mr. Emerson has carefully read the 
" Advancement of Learning " since I brought the 
subject to his attention, for the sake of one sen- 
tence in this letter of his I take leave to inclose it 
to 3^o u ; as the subject is so very new, I thought 
you might like to see that opinion, and Mr. Emer- 



182 DELIA BACON. 

son does not object to its being used in that man- 
ner. I had a long conversation with Mr. Grote on 
the subject last summer. It was impossible for 
him to enter on the investigation of the question, 
for he was then occupied with his twelfth volume, 
and was wholly unprepared to express an opinion 
on the subject; he spoke of the immense presup- 
position to be encountered, but he said distinctly 
he could not say it was not so, and when I gave 
him an account of the way in which I had arrived 
at it, he said, and that was at the close of the con- 
versation, that he was certainly inclined to respect 
an opinion based on such an inquiry. 

I owe you an apology for sending you such a 
patched and scratched and ill-looking manuscript. 
I am very much ashamed of it, but I cannot help 
it, for I am not strong, and it tires me very much 
to write, and it was as much as ever I could do to 
make it as good as it is. I looked at the Article in 
the " Review," to which I referred, in great haste, 
at the London Library, and when I was afraid of 
losing the object for which I went there, by stop- 
ping to do so, and I had no opportunity to look at 
it afterwards to correct my mistake. I suppose it 
was because my mind was preoccupied with that 
idea ; you must not take it for a specimen of my 
usual reading. I do not expect you to pronounce 
an opinion in regard to the question of the work, 
but by the time you have read it through, and I 
wish you would do it at your leisure, you will 






DELIA BACON. 183 

see, perhaps, why I wished to have it read, and 
why I feel at liberty to call for help in getting it 
published. 

Very gratefully and truly yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, May 26, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I have just received the 
manuscript, and will read it diligently and care- 
fully, and (so far as depends on myself) with a 
disposition to receive the truth of the matter. 
Very sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, June 21, '56. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — You will have thought 
me inexcusably dilatory for not sooner writing to 
you ; but I have been absent from Liverpool a 
great part of the time — Mrs. Hawthorne having 
recently arrived at Southampton. I shall establish 
her near London early in July, and will then hope 
to meet you personally. 

Meanwhile, though I have not had time to read 
the whole of your manuscript, I cannot refrain 
from saying that I think the work an admirable 
one. You seem to me to have read Bacon and 
Montaigne more profoundly than anybody else has 
read them. It is very long (it was in my early 
youth, indeed) since I used to read and re-read 



184 DELIA BACON. 

Montaigne ; and in order to do any justice to your 
views I ought to re-peruse him now — and Bacon, 
also — and Shakspeare too. I cannot say, at pres- 
ent, that I adopt your theory, if I rightly compre- 
hend it as partially developed in this portion of 
your work. We find thoughts in all great writers 
(and even in small ones) that strike their roots far 
beneath the surface, and intertwine themselves 
with the roots of other writers' thoughts ; so that 
when we pull up one, we stir the whole, and yet 
those writers have had no conscious society with 
one another. I express this very shabbily : but 
you will think it for me better than I can say it. 

But this has nothing to do with the depth and 
excellence of your work, and its worthiness to 
come before the world. If I can contribute in any 
way to this good end, I shall esteem myself happy. 
I am not particularly well off pecuniarily, but can 
do somewhat in that way, and perhaps in other 
ways. When I see you (or sooner, if you like) we 
can talk of this. 

In haste, sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

[D. B. to Hawthorne.] 

12 Spring St., Sussex Gardens, 
II. Park, June 22, '56. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — That little piece of 
my work which you have in your hands does not 
furnish you with the means of coming to any satis- 



DELIA BACON. 185 

factory conclusion in regard to it. I wished you 
to see in outline the comprehension of it, and I 
was afraid of burthening you by putting the whole 
in your hands, for it is a formidable undertaking 
to read a work in manuscript, I know, under the 
most favorable circumstances. But before you say 
anything about it, even to yourself, I do most ear- 
nestly entreat that you will find time to look over 
this tragedy of " Lear," which I send to you " un- 
folded." I am writing another chapter to bring it 
down to the present time, and I think of publish- 
ing it by itself, as a Tract, though I do not propose 
to ask the Tract Society to publish it for me. I 
wished very much to send with this also " Coriola- 
nus," which contains the application of the same 
method of inquiry and the same art of delivery to 
the question of the Cure of the Commonweal. If 
you will read these three Tragedies which make the 
third part of my work, you will be able to judge 
then of the claim which I make for it, that it con- 
tains, however unworthily set forth, the Discovery 
of the Modern Science, the buried Discovery which 
the necessities of this time have cried to Heaven 
for, and not in vain. I see my way much more 
clearly now than when I wrote these criticisms. 
They have been finished more than a year, waiting 
their time. The chapter I am writing now is of 
more serious import than anything contained in 
them at present. I do not know whether I can get 
them published while I live. But if I can finish 



186 DELIA BACON. 

the work acceptably to the power that has im- 
posed it on me, and leave it in safe hands, — and 
for myself personally, if I can avoid the dishonor 
which the failure in the contracts I have relied on 
seems likely to involve me in here, at this distance 
from all my friends, that is all that I ask from God 
or man in reference to it ; at least, that is all I 
think of for the present. 

[Then follows an account, covering many pages 
of her close manuscript, of the perplexities which 
had come about her from the cross-purposes and 
misunderstandings with American publishers, and 
especially from the refusal of the magazine publish- 
ers to accomplish their declared purpose, and what 
she had considered their formal engagement, to 
print and pay for successive articles, one of which 
indeed they had even put completely into type. To 
repeat the story would indeed illustrate, as hardly 
anything else could, the gentle patience of her 
correspondent, who bore with all her excited com- 
plaints, though it was not difficult to discern in 
them the approach of those disturbances which 
before many months were to become declared in- 
sanity ; not shrinking, meanwhile, from the vari- 
ous burdens which were offered to his shoulders. 
She tells how, in utter extremity, she had resorted 
to General Campbell, the consul in London, who 
was also a stranger to her ; how he had " ad- 
vanced " her twenty pounds, to be repaid from the 
proceeds of her successive articles; and how her 



DELIA BACON. 187 

brother had a few days before sent her ten pounds, 
which she had immediately enclosed to Mr. Camp- 
bell. She asks of Hawthorne, however, absolutely 
nothing but this :] 

The way in which you can help me will be to 
certify that you have read my book and that it is 
entitled to a publication. If you can say that y it 
will go far towards making it successful, — and 
you have said it already. I would not ask you to 
say it here, but to Mr. Emerson, or to the Ameri- 
can publishers. It has had to depend on my own 
certificate of its merits entirely hitherto. Your 
word with the American public would secure it a 
reading. There is going to be another kind of 
demonstration. I want this published first. I 
know it is a good book because I have tried it. 
I have read it and been strengthened and made 
better by it repeatedly. But the publishers, I sup- 
pose, would think that that was not the very best 
testimony in the world, and though Mr. Emerson 
has been willing to confide in my word for it, I 
don't doubt he would be very glad to know your 
opinion of it. 

But not to make a book of this, in reference to 
these immediate difficulties, if you see any way in 
which you can help me I know you will. General 
Campbell is entirely a stranger to me ; I had not 
even an introduction to him. Mr. Buchanan told 
me he would give me one, but I suppose he forgot 
to do it. Of course you know if it should come 



188 DELIA BACON. 

to the worst I have friends who would not suffer 
rne to be indebted to the Consul, though I hope 
not to have to trouble them, and if those men will 
send me the money they owe me there will be no 
trouble at all. 

I am heartily glad to hear that Mrs. Hawthorne 
has safely returned. As for myself I am unfit to 
see any one. I have given up this world entirely, 
and if I had my choice, I don't know as I should 
ever see anyone again while I live. Mr. Campbell 
has been here to see me three or four times about 
this business, and I would much rather have given 
him twenty pounds every time he came than to 
have seen him, if it had been convenient. And 
he came out of the purest charity. Still, if you 
are kind enough to look after me when you come, 
I shall take it as a very disinterested act of hu- 
manity, and will try to look through the grates of 
my cell to see you. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, June 25, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I have just received your 
last package, and will read it as soon as I can get 
time, and as nearly as possible in such state of 
mind as you recommend. 

Surely I can say most strenuously that it ought 
to be published. 

As regards your friends, let me say frankly that 
you shall not suffer from any difficulties, within my 




DELIA BACON. 189 

power to obviate. And I will write to a friend in 
New York, who used to be connected with the 
magazine, to see those people and get them to pay 
what is due you. As regards the £10 due General 
Campbell, I will speak to him about it, and make 
myself responsible ; so that there need be no deli- 
cacy about letting it stand for the present. 

I can entirely sympathize with you in your re- 
luctance ; none better than I. To tell you the 
truth, though I see people by scores, every day, I 
still shrink from any interview of which I am fore- 
warned ; and so, if we can arrange all these mat- 
ters just as well without meeting, I shall not in- 
trude upon you. But I question whether we can. 

I leave Liverpool for Southampton on Friday, 
and shall bring Mrs. Hawthorne to the neighbor- 
hood of London on the first of July. 
Truly yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

P. S. I enclose (as, for aught I know, you may 
have immediate occasion for it) a ten pound note. 
If you acknowledge the receipt before to-morrow, 
please to address me here : if afterwards, to the 
care of Bennoch, Twentyman & Co., 77 Wood 
Street, Cheapside, London. N. H. 

More details of her embarrassments with the 
American publishers come with the grateful ac- 
knowledgment, next day, of Hawthorne's unso- 



190 DELTA BACON. 

licited and " thoughtful kindness," which had 
brought to her a relief evidently not easy fully to 
express; and then she adverts thus to the visit 
which she hoped for, yet with a certain dread : 

" When you come to establish Mrs. Hawthorne 
here, or whenever you find it convenient to do 
so, I hope you will call upon me. The reason I 
shrink from seeing any one now is, that I used to 
be somebody, and whenever I meet a stranger I 
am troubled with a dim reminiscence of the fact, 
whereas now I am nothing but this work, and don't 
wish to be. I would rather be this than anything 
else. I have lived for three years as much alone 
with God and the dead as if I had been a departed 
spirit. And I don't wish to return to the world. I 
shrink with horror from the thought of it. This 
is an abnormal state, you see, but I am perfectly 
harmless, and if you will let me know when you 
are coming I will put on one of the dresses I used 
to wear the last time I made my appearance in the 
world, and try to look as much like a survivor as 
the circumstances will permit. 

" Truly yours, 

"Delia Bacon." 

At some time after the writing of this, and be- 
fore the next letter to Hawthorne was written, 
there came upon her, in the following letter from 
Emerson, a blow which would have been enough 
to break down a mind of less original strength than 



DELIA BACON. 191 

hers, after the body which enclosed it had been so 
enfeebled by toil and privation and disappoint- 
ment. For many months she had subsisted upon 
the hope, which amounted to an assurance, of some 
return from the successive packets of manuscript 
sent to Emerson for the magazine, prepared in- 
deed with exhausting midnight labor, upon some- 
thing like an express requisition for it. It was 
grievous enough to learn now that all hope of 
publication in America, either in serial or in book 
form, had definitively failed. With that came also 
the news of the heedless loss of the manuscript 
itself, into which, even if it had no other value, 
she had poured such a flood of her own life, as 
almost to have exhausted its source. 
This is the letter that told the story : 

Concord, 23 June, 1856. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — I am heartily sorry 
that after so long a space I should not be able to 
send you some good news. But this time none at 
all, and indeed much worse than no good news, 
namely, the most vexatious. There is nothing for 
it but the kind of earnest that many serious draw- 
backs and disasters give to the brave and well- 
deserving, of new and better turns that must be- 
fall. On my going west in December I left the 
three (?) MSS. chapters with my wife. Putnam 
already had the first. As I had dissuaded the 
printing in the magazine, they were not to have 



192 DELIA BACON. 

the rest without your express advice. They 
printed the first, and then sent to my brother 
W. E., in New York, demanding the rest to go on 
at once. He sent to my wife for it, and she sup- 
posing that this was the contingency I had told 
her of sent the three (?) chapters. After reading 
them, they refused to go on, and returned them 
to W. E. Lately, on receiving your letter of May, 
I received soon afterwards what MSS. you sent in 
May to Dix & Edwards from them, with word that 
they did not find them suited to their purpose. 
Then I wrote to W. E. to restore the three (?) 
chapters. He wrote me back that he was pained 
to say that they were lost. Just before my letter 
came, he had given them to Sophy Ripley, who was 
coming home to Concord via Springfield, to bring 
to me. Miss Ripley had been on a visit at his 
house in Staten Island for a day or two ; her trunk 
was in New York city. She took the sealed parcel 
in her hands, and came down to the Staten Island 
ferry with my brother in his carriage, one and a 
half miles, and just before reaching the boat per- 
ceived that she had not the parcel. W. E. was 
needed at his office in New York; he sent back the 
driver instantly from the boat to find the parcel, 
informed the collector at the boat office, and ad- 
vertised it, with a reward, at once ; the chances 
seemed all for recovering it at once, but it has 
never appeared ! Sophy Ripley has returned 
home, and dared not come to see me until her 



DELTA BACON. 193 

mother Mrs. Ripley had come to tell me her con- 
sternation. They inquire first of all if you have a 
duplicate? of which I am not sure. I assure you, 
all the parties to this misfortune are very misera- 
ble at present. I wish I could relieve this disaster 
with some better face of the whole affair. But it 
does not yet show its best side. I could not carry 
the MSS. if I had them thus far complete to Phil- 
lips & Sampson (or to another publisher) and ask 
as favorable terms as they had offered me at first, 
for the e*clat, and what publishers would esteem 
the promise of the work, was seriously diminished 
by Putnam's publishing and then rejecting. That 
is a damage which one would say can only be prop- 
erly met and overcome by publishing the book at 
your own risk, in its mature form. 

I have now been trying to read the papers sent 
to me by Dix & Edwards, and which they decline 
to print. It is very difficult for me to read them, 
so small and crowded is the writing, and so much 
interlined and corrected. My eyes are very failing 
servants in these days, and with glasses I do not 
much help them. I have set my daughter and 
my wife also to help me, and at last I have mainly 
surmounted the difficulty. I hesitate a little to 
say that I think the magazine men judged rightly 
in asking still another form. The moment your 
proposition is stated that Shakspeare was only a 
player, whom certain superior person or persons 
could use, and did use, as a mouthpiece for their 



194 DELIA BACON. 

poetry it is perfectly understood. It does not need 
to be stated twice. The proposition is immensely 
improbable, and against the single testimony of 
Ben Jonson, " For I loved the man, and do honor 
his memory on this side idolatry as much as any," 
cannot stand. Ben Jonson must be answered, first. 
Of course we instantly require your proofs. But 
instead of hastening to these, you expatiate on the 
absurdity of the accepted biography. Perfectly 
right to say once, but not necessary to say twice, 
and unpardonable after telling us that you have 
proof that this is not the man, and we are waiting 
for that proof, to say it thrice. There is great in- 
cidental w r orth in these expatiatings ; but it is all 
at disadvantage because we have been summoned 
to hear an extraordinary announcement of facts, 
and are impatient of any episodes. I am sure you 
cannot be aware how voluminously you have 
cuffed and pounded the poor pretender, and then 
again, and still again, and no end. I think too 
(but this I say with less assurance) that you lean 
much harder than they can bear on many passages 
you cite from the plays, as if they contained very 
pointed allusions which admitted of only one 
application. 

Once more, I am a little shocked by the signa- 
ture " Discoverer of the Authorship of Shaks- 
peare's Plays," which should not be used one mo- 
ment in advance. Yes, and welcome, and forever- 
more, wear the crown, from the instant your fact 



DELIA BACON. 195 

is made to appear, not before. Certain great mer- 
its which appeared in your first papers mark these 
last also, — a healthy perception, and natural rec- 
titude, which give immense advantage in criticism, 
where they are so rare. The account of English- 
men, and what is servile in them, and the prophetic 
American relations of this poetry, struck me much, 
and your steadfast loyalty to cause and effect, in 
mental history. 

What practically should be or can be done, I 
cannot see to-day. There is no publisher, because 
there is not yet the ready book. If you are to 
be anticipated, I think you should write a short 
letter announcing exactly your propositions, the 
points you are prepared to prove, send it to Fraser, 
or any other English journal, though it were the 
lowest that will print it ; print it also in " Put- 
nam," or the "Tribune," or the "Crayon," here; 
and then publish your book containing the full 
exposition, whenever you can have it ready. I 
have been a much worse agent lately than you 
might have found me earlier, — though never a 
good one, — but worse now through many causes 
weary to tell of, — perhaps another year will set 
me on my feet again, and then ! 
With entire respect, 

Yours, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Miss Bacon. 



196 DELTA BACON. 

Perhaps it was Hawthorne's good fortune which 
kept him unwell at Blackheath in the days when 
this distress was fresh upon his correspondent, and 
saved thus his tender and sympathetic soul from 
the direct communication of her grief. It came to 
him in writing, however, soon enough, and with 
more than sufficient amplitude, following close 
upon this note inviting it, but hardly, it may be 
surmised, inviting all that came. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Blackheath, July 17, '56. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I very much regret that 
I cannot call on you to-day, according to agree- 
ment ; but I am not well, and do not feel it safe 
to venture out. 

I have seen General Campbell, and made myself 
responsible for the balance of the debt. 

I must go to Liverpool on Monday, to remain 
there about a week — perhaps ten days. In the 
interim, I shall be glad if you will write me. and 
tell me what you would like to have done in ref- 
erence to the publication of the work. I cannot 
but think that it may be effected on terms advan- 
tageous to yourself. I think I had better write to 
Emerson, by next steamer, and get him to see 
what arrangements can be made. 

As soon as I return from Liverpool, I will call. 
Sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 



DELIA BACON. 197 

[D. B. to Hawthorne.] 

12 Spring St., Sussex Gardens, 
H. Park, July. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — I was very much dis- 
appointed at not seeing you on Saturday, and if I 
had known how to have addressed you in time 
would have entreated you not to return to Liver- 
pool without giving me an opportunity of speak- 
ing to you. 

For your assurance in regard to my work, 
strengthened as it is with the approbation of the 
lady to whom you give so illustrious a title, I 
could not properly thank you by word of mouth 
or pen, and so I will not attempt it. I believe you 
two are the first readers of those last papers. 
They have been out of my hands once. But they 
were returned to me with an accidental proof that 
they had not been read. The first was perhaps 
looked into a little at another place where it 
went by itself as it went to you. You shall have 
all the details as to what has been done. But I do 
not think that the book has had any trial at all. 
The theory as announced beforehand is as you will 
readily believe not a pleasant one to the conserva- 
tive mind here, and the publishers who cater for 
that are so frightened at the suggestion, that they 
hush it up as quick as possible, and try to forget 
that it has ever been mentioned to them. But 
the more I think of it the more I am disposed to 
make another effort to get it published here, as 



198 DELIA BACON. 

the articles for the Magazine written after I aban- 
doned that idea are not published and I can keep 
them back now if I choose. . . . 

I have had a letter from Mr. Emerson since I 
wrote you last, but it is the least pleasant one I 
have received from him. He appears to be dis- 
heartened at the course the thing has taken there, 
which it need not have taken if there had been 
anybody there to act for me, and I do not think 
that he likes the work as well as he expected to, 
and I ought not to be surprised at that, for if I 
had known what it was myself I should not have 
taken it to him any more than I would have taken 
it to my brother, who is a Doctor of Divinity. It 
would have been equally improper for me to do 
so. And perhaps it is just as well, since the mo- 
tion proceeds from himself, that he should let it 
go now. " Transcendentalism " is the fatal word 
which I hear pronounced (by people who are not 
perhaps quite clear as to what that definition 
covers) when our two principal philosophers are 
named. But there is nothing, and there never has 
been anything in this world since time began, so 
antagonistic to that very thing which the people 
mean when they use that word as this philosophy, 
and it is not right to cast on it beforehand, while 
it has no name of its own, that shadow. The 
truth which that so-called philosophy of their 1 
contains is here also comprehended in this, but i. 
is here in its place. I went to those two men with 



DELIA BACON. 199 

it, because they professed philosophy, and though 
I knew that my discovery contradicted in the most 
direct manner their own published views on this 
particular question of the Plays, I thought them 
magnanimous enough to disregard that fact en- 
tirely, and I found them so. But it is another 
thing to ask them to let me bring the world up to 
a summit of knowledge which I have accidentally 
discovered here, already built, with the road all 
open up to the very top, from which their domain 
is all overlooked, and the whole zig-zag of its 
boundary defined. They are men of genius, but 
they lack the genius of the new logic, which is 
only the stronger expression of the genius of the 
Moderns, and the world reproves them for it. 
Carlyle treated me with an extraordinary personal 
kindness, and so did his wife, and it is my own 
fault that I have not' continued my acquaintance 
with them, but Mr. Emerson is a flight higher than 
that. He has mastered an intellectual height, from 
which he looks down on the human sensibilities. 
He has the advantage of me in that respect. I 
cannot write to a man as I would to a gale of wind 
exactly, and though I know what his theory is, 
and that he talks of the ethical principle as he 
uoes of a good ear in music, after all I am taken 
a little by surprise, when he comes to give me a 
direct practical vindication of his views. He never 
pretended to any personal kindness for me, the 
idea of my work has always stood on its own 



200 DELIA BACON. 

merits with him entirely, and the way in which he 
disposes of that, and me, and my worldly affairs 
in his last letter is, as they say in the West, " a 
caution." He begins by giving me the very pretty 
piece of information that three very important 
chapters of the work are lost, tumbled out of a 
carriage months ago, when some lady was carrying 
them in her hand, and never heard of since, and 
for that he does express a strong sense of human 
regret, as they were lost after they were returned 
to his brother's custody by those Magazine men. 
But I don't consider the persons who lost them in 
the least to blame. After they were taken out of 
his hands, the Publishers of the Magazine were re- 
sponsible to me for them, and had no right to send 
them on that journey. And this reminds me to 
beg 3'ou to be more than usually careful, for T 
have no duplicates of these papers that I send to 
you, and that was the reason that I would not send 
them across the water, and now that I am re- 
minded of the dangers of the land by this acci- 
dent, I know you will forgive me for this caution. 
For there seems to be a special antagonism at work 
here. These are not the first of my papers that 
have been destroyed. Before I came here, I wrote 
something on the subject which was received with 
great approbation. Mr. Emerson said in writing 
that he had " seen nothing in the United States in 
the way of literary criticism which he thought so 
good," but a black waiter finding it one day in his 






DELIA BACON. 201 

department and looking it over from his stand- 
point, could see nothing in it to the purpose, and 
threw it into the fire. And that was when it was 
in my own keeping. 

I have had a letter from the sister, who is my 
chief earthly reliance now. She thinks that my 
work has failed I believe, poor child, and she 
knows that I object to receiving aid from my 
brother, though she does not fully know why. . . . 
She says she wishes she could send me immedi- 
ately a hundred pounds, but she cannot except on 
one condition, but that her husband and my brother 
will immediately send whatever I require for my 
bills here, and my journey home, if I will promise 
to come as soon as I have received it. And she 
requires in the most urgent manner that I shall 
send her that answer by the next steamer. I 
would die here before I would give her any such 
promise, but I have put in this otherwise imperti- 
nent passage, that you may see exactly what my 
position is at this moment. My friends think that 
I am wasting my life here to no purpose. And 
they think from the account I gave to my sister of 
my present difficulties that they have now an op- 
portunity of speaking with authority and compel- 
ling me to come home. But I will open a " cent 
shop " in my House of Seven Gables first. There 
is not anything which is honest that I will not do 
rather than put the Atlantic Ocean between me 
and what I came to find. I would infinitely rather 



202 DELIA BACON. 

never go back than do that. It is a moral im- 
possibility. I could no more do it than I could kill 
myself. It gives me a sense of suffocation to try 
to think of it. It would be an impossible crime. 
I am sure that my Friar Francis, if I can find his 
cell, will be able to give me some better advice 
than that. . . . 

So you see my case is given up by that Physi- 
cian. I called you in for a consultation. But he 
had pronounced on it before you came, and had 
gone, so that alters your position a little. I have 
been all these three years writing to somebody 
that was not there to get my letters, and the fact 
is I begin to think that the person I wish to speak 
to so much is not anywhere except in my own 
mind, and in these books, or I should have been 
apt to think that, if the hand that brought that 
letter had not had yours in it of the 10th. Don't 
tell me that you were not inspired to write that, 
for I know you were. I could not have got through 
with that letter of Mr. Emerson's if yours had had 
any shade less of goodness in it. It took Mrs. 
Hawthorne's word of assurance and all to help me 
through it. As it was it made me very ill, and I 
have not recovered from it. . . . 

I have thought it right to tell you all this, be- 
cause I have a feeling that the facts make the best 
basis after all for any proceeding. But I begin to 
think if I had a little more of the art in which 
these men whose school I am in were such adepts, 






DELIA BACON. 203 

I should manage this affair of theirs rather better. 
All this is calculated to annoy and discourage you, 
but my feeling is that your judgments are not 
very easily biased by extraneous influences. But 
perhaps we are none of us altogether independent 
of them. I don't know as I could have been true 
to my own work, if it had come back to me as it 
came to Mr. Emerson in the first place, with the 
brand of that rejection on it. And the badness of 
the manuscript and the weakness of his eyes and 
the vexatious loss of those papers, and the whole 
series of untoward circumstances, and the feeling 
that the eclat of the work was lost, helped I have 
no doubt a little in the summing up of the ques- 
tion. Besides he has never seen the book, he has 
only my word for it that there is one, and he has 
evidently made up his mind that I am laboring 
under an hallucination in respect to its existence. 
He has seen only the outside of the preliminary 
chapters — one of them he says he read and ap- 
proved. Under these circumstances I don't con- 
sider his decision a final one. I think too he may 
have felt unconsciously perhaps the antagonism of 
this philosophy, of which there has been no hint 
before in what I have written, and of which I am 
not the author. He censures the boldness of my 
claims, and evidently prefers to have the evidence 
in the form of direct historical testimony, and says 
that Ben Jonson must be answered first, whereas 
he won't be answered till there is no occasion to 



204 DELIA BACON. 

answer him. I know all about Ben Jonson. He 
has two patrons besides " Shakspeare." One was 
Raleigh, the other was Bacon. The author of these 
Plays and Poems was his Patron. It would not 
have been strange if he had loved and honored 
his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. 
But Lord Bacon was a man of art, and he was 
much in the habit of writing letters for other peo- 
ple, in which he could say some things to the pur- 
pose which he could not say as well over his own 
name. The fact that he was not too scrupulous to 
employ such arts was betrayed on the trial of Es- 
sex. That was not the only time that Mr. Anthony 
Bacon's name was used to accomplish Mr. Francis 
Bacon's ends. It was very much used I find. 
There was a great deal of correspondence that 
went on in that person's name, which might not 
have prospered so well in the name of his brother. 
And it was not dialogues on the stage only that 
the myriad-minded resorted to, to accomplish his 
ends. Letters written in the names of various in- 
dividuals, which were not published at the time, 
but reserved for future publication, because they 
related to recent matters of state, fictitious letters, 
form a very important part of this author's works, 
to which he takes great pains to refer those who 
care to know more about him. 

As to what is to be done, please to look over — 
read as well as you can in this poor form, making 
due allowance for it, — this play of " The Consul- 



DELIA BACON. 205 

ship." It is Lord Bacon's as much as " The Scar- 
let Letter" is yours. No, I will not say that. 
These plays passed through the hands of more 
persons than one. But the Chancellor claims this 
one. I have seen what he says about it. My in- 
terpretation is approved. Do not read it thinking 
there is no other proof, but merely to see, whether, 
as it stands there with those other parts of the 
work that you have, and some preliminary state- 
ments, it will make a book that can perhaps be 
published here. If that feat can be accomplished, 
there will be no difficulty about the other side. 
What I wish to know is whether you think it 
would be possible to get it published here without 
waiting for that further confirmation that I speak 
of, which I speak of as assuredly as anything 
which has been subjected to the contingency of a 
trust can be spoken of. If you could give me a 
title to it, and write a few lines of Introduction, I 
think you could make it successful. I would like 
to have it published without my name, and I would 
like to have you introduce it to the public, saying 
just what you are willing to say to the public about 
it, and no more. Just keep the position that you 
have already taken in reference to it. Merely say 
that it is a book that has claims of its own, and is 
entitled to be read. Give to the anonymous author 
the authorship of this new Baconian philosophy 
and the invention of this new Shakspeare, if you 
choose. If it is an invention, I insist upon it, it is 



206 DELIA BACON. 

a very fine one, but it would be dishonest in me to 
take the credit of it. Suppose I was dead and you 
had this Romance in your hands, the boldest one 
that was ever invented, what would you do with 
it ? (Call it a Romance if you choose, till I can 
prove it.) You find it given over, — perishing by 
inches, for want of a printer, for want of a reader, 
three chapters of it given to the winds by those to 
whom I sent it to read and to print. If you can 
save it, and any good comes of it, the world will 
owe it to you. You have done more for it already 
in the weeks that you have had it, with all the 
cares of your Consulship upon you, and those par- 
ticular urgent cares which your arrangements for 
Mrs. Hawthorne's residence here devolved upon 
you, than others have done in years. You have 
done what nobody else has done for it before. 
You have read it, as much of it as you had to read. 
The chapters I took so much pains to send to 
America, for the purpose of having them read? 
have not been read yet by any one who knew 
enough to know what the letters stood for, and 
never will be now. They were sent on the 1st of 
November, and when they were inquired for in 
June, the news was that they were lost. Mr. Emer- 
son talks about " the ready book." It is well it 
was not ready for the kind of fate that awaited 
those avant couriers of it. Mr. Emerson is no 
more to blame for the loss of those papers than I 
am, but I should have been glad if somebody could 



DELIA BACON. 207 

have read them before they were destroyed besides 
that goose of an editor, who can say what he likes 
about them now, uncontradicted. The reason I 
did not send any more was, there was nobody 
there to take them. I sent many appeals out in 
the name of that which is most commanding with 
men ; but one had gone to his farm, and another 
to his merchandise, and another had married a wife 
and could not come. But you had married one, 
happily, who was able to come with you. I know 
how much I owe to that "better self" of yours, 
who ought to be very good to deserve that title. 
I am thankful that there was one there who was 
ready to help, instead of hindering you, not in your 
toil through the manuscripts only, but in your 
detection of what was worth saving under that 
disguise. I don't like to see people, or I would go 
and see her. My personal history is concluded ; 
there has been enough of it and to spare. I have 
had my share of the good things of this life, and 
I have been ready to go this some time. I only 
wait to finish this work. Mr. Emerson talks about 
my " wearing the crown," he says, " yes, wear it 
and welcome and forevermore, from the instant 
your fact is made to appear ; " but he recommends 
that I should not put it on prematurely. He was 
quarreling with my assuming the title of a Discov- 
erer in those anonymous articles. I thought there 
was no honor in claiming that title now, unless 
it is an honor to rush on the drawn swords of the 



208 DELIA BACON. 

world. I meant it for a challenge. I have to be- 
gin with an unspeakable audacity. That is a part 
of the play. Does anyone think that I am not 
conscious of the position ? Mr. Emerson has never 
been taught, as I have, what the human appro- 
bation amounts to. If I thought I had a right 
to do it, I would take this discovery to my grave 
with me. As soon as I can get all my duties of 
one kind and another reconciled and fulfilled, I 
shall ask leave to retire from this scene for the 
present, and shall hope to return again when it is 
in better order. 

In the first place I am going to write immedi- 
ately to my sister, perhaps to my brother D. D., to 
say that I lose my copyright here by coming home 
now, and that it will be eventually valuable, and 
that as my living here is hardly more expensive 
than it would be in America, as far as they are 
concerned in that particular, it is better for me to 
stay here, till I am ready to help myself, than to 
come home. 

And in the second place, I will write to the Edi- 
tors of the Magazine, and tell them to send me 
immediately, without any demur at all, the three 
hundred dollars due for the articles which they 
engaged to print, and which they caused to be lost 
instead. I will do it for the benefit of any poor 
authors who may happen to be at their mercy 
hereafter, as they thought I was. The loss of 
those papers through their means, appears to me 




DELIA BACON. 209 

to introduce a new element into the question, and 
they shall answer for them : — that is, if I am not 
advised to the contrary. I do not like to receive 
any money from them, as they derived no advan- 
tage from the papers, but it is better that they 
should pay it to me, than that I should owe it to 
others in consequence of their deliberately destroy- 
ing the provision I had made for my living here. 
They knew about that contract with the Boston 
Publishers, and that I was dependent on it, or 
another as good, and that I had relinquished it to 
fulfill my engagement with them, and they might 
at least have answered my letters. 

I am thinking a little of asking my brother to 
get me a publisher in America. He does not know 
at all what the work is. I did not know, when I 
came here. My sister says that he thinks the book 
will be read, whether it is a Discovery or not. He 
is the first person I spoke to about my Discovery 
of the philosophy, which was eleven or twelve 
years ago, and he said " Go on with it," not know- 
ing what he said. But he is a good man, though 
he has had a bad education and he is in bad com- 
pany. I have been very careful not to connect 
him with it at all of late, because his obligations 
are different from mine. He said to me in his last 
letter, " Your ' Philosophy of Shakespeare ' will 
have readers, I dare say." It is death to be 
charged with being " liberal " in his church, and 
those who watch for his halting in this respect 



*»fc. 




210 DELIA BACON. 

would be glad to make him responsible for this 
book, I know. 

I think you will conclude not to write to Mr. 
Emerson. I have written a letter which passed his 
on the way, and I shall probably hear from him 
n grain. You will not be able to do more than read 
this in the ten days that you are at Liverpool, and 
I will not send you my tragedy, though it has been 
sealed and directed these many days, until I have 
your orders. / do very much rely on that, because 
it is full of science. I do not know how it is pos- 
sible ever to shut it up again after it has once been 
opened. You need not reprove me for this letter 
and tell me how many pages there are of it. I 
know, and I am reproving myself. It is not the 
business of the Consulship that I care for inter- 
rupting, because this is the Consulship that we 
talk of. But how do I know what mystic and 
delicate processes I am disturbing and what new 
and beautiful work of art, destined to be a joy 
forever, is getting hindered with it. 

Fresh from such an impressive lesson in chirog- 
raphy, I ought not to make such work as this, but 
you will forgive it I hope, and I will promise not 
to trouble you in this way again. 

Truly yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

I have been thinking hard whether to burn this 
up or to send it. I have had the weakness which 



DELIA BACON. 211 

results from a severe attack of neuralgia to strug- 
gle with in the writing of it, or it would not have 
been so long. You asked me what I wished you 
to do. I will answer you as Mr. Emerson has 
answered me. 1 wish you to get the book pub- 
lished by somebody or other on this side of the 
water or that, that is if you continue to think it is 
fit to be published, when you have heard this story 
of the rejection of it without a reading, and be- 
sides that I wish you to hear what else I have to 
say, for it is very important. I want you to take 
charge of this work, in case anything happens to 
me, and act as ycu see fit in reference to it, sup- 
press it or publish it, as your judgment and con- 
science shall guide you. It is not good for any- 
thing except as a beginning. D. Bacon. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, July 21, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I do not see any use in 
writing to Mr. Emerson ; in fact, I always won- 
dered at finding him in the position which he has 
hitherto held, in respect to your work. I heartily 
wish (on your own account) that you had a better 
alternative than myself; but I shall do what I can. 
and as well as I know how. 

It seems to me improbable that John Murray 
will be induced to undertake the publication of a 
book like this. However, if you judge it impor- 
tant, I will endeavor to have the MS. presented to 



212 DELIA BACON. 

him under good auspices — those, for instance, of 
some respectable English man of letters. My own 
word would not be worth a farthing with him. 

If the book were my own, I should not care who 
published it, so long as it did really come before 
the world. Were that once accomplished, through 
whatsoever medium, you would have fulfilled your 
mission, and would have a right to talk of going 
hence. If a preacher is inspired, and cannot find a 
pulpit, he must speak from the top of a barrel. But 
there are very respectable publishers in London, 
some one of whom, I hope, would undertake it. 
Routledge has published about a hundred thousand 
volumes of my books, and has several times sought 
to institute personal relations with me. I do not 
yet know him, but would see him, if you desire it, 
on this subject; and if any commendation on my 
part might avail with him, it should not be wanting. 
It would be in his power to circulate the work 
widely ; and I presume he would deal fairly with 
you, on the principles of the Trade. 

There are other publishers, to whom I should 
have similar facilities of introducing the book. 

I shall be able to return to London the latter 
part of this week — perhaps not till Saturday. As 
soon as possible, next week, I will call ; and per- 
haps it is better that I should receive " Coriolanus " 
from your own hands. 

You will not accomplish any good purpose, I 
think, by writing to those magazine people. They 




DELIA BACON. 213 

will pay you nothing, unless on compulsion of law : 
and they will consider themselves free from lia- 
bility, as having returned the papers to an agent 
pointed out, I suppose, by your agent, Mr. Emer- 
son. If anything can be done, Mr. E. ought to 
feel himself bound to do it, that is, if he were a 
man like other men ; but he is far more than that, 
and not so much. 

With my best wishes, 

Very sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

The reply to this, two days later, brought to 
Hawthorne more and more narrative and discus- 
sion — about the loss of the manuscript in America ; 
about the responsibility for so heart-breaking a 
disaster, whether upon Emerson, or the magazine 
publishers, or upon whom ; about past communi- 
cations with English publishers, and what should 
now be done with them or with others. As for 
Routledge, of whom Hawthorne had spoken : " I 
should like nothing better," she says, "than to 
have him publish it if he will, and if you would 
give me a Title for it, — for that is the principal 
thing at first, — I think you might make of it a 
book for him. I have tried in vain to fix upon so 
much as a tolerable one. Mr. Emerson suggested 
' The Authorship of Shakespeare's Plays,' or some- 
thing of that kind, though he said he could not 
name it himself, because he had not seen the book, 



214 DELIA BACON. 

but would wish to have it ' in stone.' I told him 
that that was not the true title of the book, and 
why it was not ; but for lack of the true one I con- 
cluded to take it, and the copyright of a book 
with that title has I believe been secured in my 
name in America. But that is of no consequence 
I suppose. I have now a chance to begin anew. 
Let that book go, since they have killed it there 
amongst them, or voted it dead, and performed 
the last offices for it. Let us begin with a new 
one here that nobody has heard of yet. I have 
thought a little of calling it * The Baconian Philos- 
ophy Illustrated with Plays and Poems,' or ' The 
Baconian Fables,' (and Aphorisms). Suppose we 
say nothing about the Actor in the title this time. 
He has had his name on the title-page of this Phi- 
losophy long enough. But I must be careful what 
I say, for I suppose I must take it for granted 
there is a great gulf here between us still. I 
am not fit to speak to any one else on that point, 
for I have forgotten how to frame the venerable 
chimera that that name used to stand for. I can 
hardly persuade myself that there is anybody now 
alive that really believes in that moon-calf." 

Then again recurring to the great grief of the 
lost manuscript, she submits herself nevertheless, 
with a docility which certainly does not yet evince 
complete mental overthrow, to Hawthorne's paci- 
ficatory dissuasions, and consents to withhold the 
sharp complaints she had determined to send. She 




DELIA BACON. 215 

does not overlook, indeed, the finely delicate anal- 
ysis of one illustrious Concord neighbor by another, 
in the closing words of the last letter, saying : " As 
to Mr. Emerson, he has appeared so much like a 
man, and a great man too> in this affair that I 
almost forgot he was a ' genius' ! " And she closes 
with a reminiscence of words which she must first 
have heard in the grievous days of her infancy, in 
the Ohio log-cabin : " ' They that wait upon the 
Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount 
up with wings as eagles ; they shall run and not 
be weary, they shall walk and not faint.' And 
since I have heard your voice in this outer dark- 
ness reviving the mortal life in me when it was 
well-nigh gone, I take it for an omen that there 
is something more to be done here yet, and begin 
to plan anew." 



XIV. 

It was only by metaphor that she spoke, in clos- 
ing her letter of July 23, of hearing the " voice 
in the outer darkness." A few days afterward she 
heard it, in literal truth, for the first time, — and 
the last. 

Under date July 29, 1856, of Hawthorne's 
" English Note-Books," he mentions his visit, 
within three days before, to Delia Bacon ; and in 
his book, largely made up from those notes, which 
he called " Our Old Home," he thus describes the 
visit. It is in the chapter entitled, from the sub- 
ject which so largely occupies it, " Recollections of 
a Gifted Woman." 

" I should hardly have dared to add another to 
the innumerable descriptions of Stratford-on-Avon, 
if it had not seemed to me that this would form a 
fitting framework to some reminiscences of a very 
remarkable woman. Her labor, while she lived, 
was of a nature and purpose outwardly irreverent 
to the name of Shakspeare, yet, by its actual ten- 
dency, entitling her to the distinction of being 
that one of all his worshippers who sought, though 
she knew it not, to place the richest and stateliest 




DELIA BACON. 217 

diadem upon his brow. We Americans, at least, 
in the scanty annals of our literature, cannot afford 
to forget her high and conscientious exercise of 
noble faculties, which, indeed, if you look at the 
matter in one way, evolved only a miserable error, 
but, more fairly considered, produced a result 
worth almost what it cost her. Her faith in her 
own ideas was so genuine, that, erroneous as they 
were, it transmuted them to gold, or, at all events, 
interfused a large proportion of that precious and 
indestructible substance among the waste material 
from which it can readily be sifted. 

" The only time I ever saw Miss Bacon was in 
London, where she had lodgings in Spring Street, 
Sussex Gardens, at the house of a grocer, a portly 
middle-aged, civil, and friendly man, who, as well 
as his wife, appeared to feel a personal kindness 
towards their lodger. I was ushered up two (and 
I rather believe three) pair of stairs into a parlor 
somewhat humbly furnished, and told that Miss 
Bacon would come soon. There were a number of 
books on the table, and, looking into them, I found 
that every one had some reference, more or less 
immediate, to her Shakspearian theory, — a vol- 
ume of Raleigh's ' History of the World,' a volume 
of Montaigne, a volume of Lord Bacon's letters, 
a volume of Shakspeare's Plays, and on another 
table lay a large roll of manuscript, which I pre- 
sume to have been a portion of her work. To be 
sure, there was a pocket-Bible among the books, but 



218 DELIA BACON. 

everything else referred to the one despotic idea 
that had got possession of her mind ; and as it had 
engrossed her whole soul as well as her intellect, 
I had no doubt that she had established subtile con- 
nections between it and the Bible likewise. As is 
apt to be the case with solitary students, Miss 
Bacon probably read late and rose late ; for I took 
up Montaigne (it was Hazlitt's translation) and 
had been reading his journey to Italy a good while 
before she appeared. 

" I had expected (the more shame for me, hav- 
ing no other ground of such expectation than that 
she was a literary woman) to see a very homely, 
uncouth, elderly personage, and was quite agree- 
ably disappointed by her aspect. She was rather 
uncommonly tall, and had a striking and expressive 
face, dark hair, dark eyes, which shone with an in- 
ward light as soon as she began to speak, and by 
and by a color came into her cheeks and made her 
look almost young. Not that she really was so ; she 
must have been beyond middle age : and there was 
no unkindness in coming to that conclusion, be- 
cause, making allowance for years and ill health, 
I could suppose her to have been handsome 
and exceedingly attractive once. Though wholly 
estranged from society, there was little or no re- 
straint or embarrassment in her manner: lonely 
people are generally glad to give utterance to their 
pent-up ideas, and often bubble over with them as 
freely as children with their new-found syllables. 




DELIA BACON. 219 

I cannot tell how it came about, but we immedi- 
ately found ourselves taking a friendly and familiar 
tone together, and began to talk as if we had 
known one another a very long while. A little 
preliminary correspondence had indeed smoothed 
the way, and we had a definite topic in the con- 
templated publication of her book. 

u She was very communicative about her theory, 
and would have been much more so had I desired 
it ; but, being conscious within myself of a sturdy 
unbelief, I deemed it fair and honest rather to 
repress than draw her out upon the subject. 
Unquestionably, she was a monomaniac; these 
overmastering ideas about the authorship of 
Shakspeare's plays, and the deep political philos- 
ophy concealed beneath the surface of them, had 
completely thrown her off her balance ; but at the 
same time they had wonderfully developed her 
intellect, and made her what she could not other- 
wise have become. It was a very singular phe- 
nomenon : a system of philosophy grown up in 
this woman's mind without her volition, — con- 
trary, in fact, to the determined resistance of her 
volition, — and substituting itself in the place of 
everything that originally grew there. To have 
based such a system on fancy, and unconsciously 
elaborated it for herself, was almost as wonderful 
as really to have found it in the plays. But, in 
a certain sense, she did actually find it there. 
Shakspeare has surface beneath surface to an im- 



220 DELIA BACON. 

measurable depth, adapted to the plummet-line of 
every reader; his works present many phases of 
truth, each with scope large enough to fill a con- 
templative mind. Whatever you seek in him you 
will surely discover, provided you seek truth. 
There is no exhausting the various interpretation 
of his symbols; and a thousand years hence, a 
world of new readers will possess a whole library 
of new books, as we ourselves do, in these volumes 
old already. I had half a mind to suggest to Miss 
Bacon this explanation of her theory, but forbore, 
because (as I could readily perceive) she had as 
princely a spirit as Queen Elizabeth herself, and 
would at once have motioned me from the room. 

" I had heard, long ago, that she believed that 
the material evidences of her dogma as to the 
authorship, together with the key of the new phi- 
losophy, would be found buried in Shakspeare's 
grave. Recently, as I understood her, this notion 
had been somewhat modified, and was now accu- 
rately defined and fully developed in her mind, 
with a result of perfect certainty. In Lord Ba- 
con's letters, on which she laid her finger as she 
spoke, she had discovered the key and clew to the 
whole mystery. There were definite and minute 
instructions how to find a will and other docu- 
ments relating to the conclave of Elizabethan phi- 
losophers, which were concealed (when and by 
whom she did not inform me) in a hollow space 
in the under surface of Shakspeare's gravestone. 







DELIA BACON. 221 

Thus the terrible prohibition to remove the stone 
was accounted for. The directions, she intimated, 
went completely and precisely to the point, obvi- 
ating all difficulties in the way of coming at the 
treasure, and even, if I remember right, were so 
contrived as to ward off any troublesome conse- 
quences likely to ensue from the interference of 
the parish officers. All that Miss Bacon now 
remained in England for — indeed, the object for 
which she had come hither, and which had kept 
her here for three years past — was to obtain pos- 
session of these material and unquestionable proofs 
of the authenticity of her theory. 

" She communicated all this strange matter in a 
low, quiet tone ; while, on my part, I listened as 
quietly, and without any expression of dissent 
Controversy against a faith so settled would have 
shut her up at once, and that, too, without in the 
least weakening her belief in the existence of those 
treasures of the tomb ; and had it been possible to 
convince her of their intangible nature, I appre- 
hend that there would have been nothing left for 
the poor enthusiast save to collapse and die. She 
frankly confessed that she could no longer bear the 
society of those who did not at least lend a certain 
sympathy to her views, if not fully share In them ; 
and meeting little sympathy or none, she had now 
entirely secluded herself from the world. In all 
these years, she had seen Mrs. Farrar a few times, 
but had long ago given her up, — Carlyle once or 



222 DELIA BACON. 

twice, but not of late, although he had received 
her kindly ; Mr. Buchanan, while Minister in Eng- 
land, had once called on her, and General Camp- 
bell, our Consul in London, had met her two or 
three times on business. With these exceptions, 
which she marked so scrupulously that it was per- 
ceptible what epochs they were in the monotonous 
passage of her days, she had lived in the profound- 
est solitude. She never walked out ; she suffered 
much from ill health; and yet, she assured me, 
she was perfectly happy. 

* I could well conceive it ; for Miss Bacon im- 
agined herself to have received (what is certainly 
the greatest boon ever assigned to mortals) a high 
mission in the world, with adequate powers for its 
accomplishment ; and lest even these should prove 
insufficient, she had faith that special interpositions 
of Providence were forwarding her human efforts. 
This idea was continually coming to the surface 
during our interview. She believed, for example, 
that she had been providentially led to her lodg- 
ing house, and put in relations with the good- 
natured grocer and his family ; and, to say the 
truth, considering what a savage and stealthy tribe 
the London lodging-house keepers usually are, the 
honest kindness of this man and his household 
appeared to have been little less than miraculous. 
Evidently, too, she thought that Providence had 
brought me forward — a man somewhat connected 
with literature — at the critical juncture when she 




DELIA BACON. 223 

needed a negotiator with the booksellers ; and, on 
my part, though little accustomed to regard myself 
as a divine minister, and though I might even 
have preferred that Providence should select some 
other instrument, I had no scruples in undertaking 
to do what I could for her. Her book, as I could 
see by turning it over, was a very remarkable one, 
and worthy of being offered to the public, which, 
if wise enough to appreciate it, would be thankful 
for what was good in it and merciful to its faults. 
It was founded on a prodigious error, but was built 
up from that foundation with a good many prodig- 
ious truths. And, at all events, whether I could 
aid her literary views or no, it would have been 
both rash and impertinent in me to attempt draw- 
ing poor Miss Bacon out of her delusions, which 
were the condition on which she lived in comfort 
and joy, and in the exercise of great intellectual 
power. So I left her to dream as she pleased 
about the treasures of Shakspeare's tombstone, 
and to form whatever designs might seem good to 
herself for obtaining possession of them. I was 
sensible of a ladylike feeling of propriety in Miss 
Bacon, and a New England orderliness in her char- 
acter, and, in spite of her bewilderment, a sturdy 
common-sense, which I trusted would begin to 
operate at the right time, and keep her from any 
actual extravagance. And as regarded this matter 
of the tombstone, so it proved. 

* The interview lasted above an hour, during 



224 DELIA BACON. 

which she flowed out freely, as to the sole auditor, 
capable of any degree of intelligent sympathy, 
whom she had met with in a very long while. Her 
conversation was remarkably suggestive, alluring 
forth one's own ideas and fantasies from the shy 
places where they usually haunt. She was indeed 
an admirable talker, considering how long she had 
held her tongue for lack of a listener, — pleasant, 
sunny, and shadowy, often piquant, and giving 
glimpses of all a woman's various and readily 
changeable moods and humors ; and beneath them 
all there ran a deep and powerful under-current of 
earnestness, which did not fail to produce in the 
listener's mind something like a temporary faith in 
what she herself believed so fervently. But the 
streets of London are not favorable to enthusiasms 
of this kind, nor, in fact, are they likely to flourish 
anywhere in the English atmosphere ; so that, 
long before reaching Paternoster Row, I felt that 
it would be a difficult and doubtful matter to 
advocate the publication of Miss Bacon's book. 
Nevertheless, it did finally get published." 

Close upon this visit she sends Hawthorne, as 
she had long been anxious to do, her study of 
" Coriolanus," or part of it. It brought to her one 
of the great joys of her fast shortening life ; for it 
brought her into communication with Hawthorne's 
wife, whose sister, Elizabeth Peabody, had been 
almost the first confidante of her great secret, four 




DELIA BACON. 225 

or five years before. This was Mrs. Hawthorne's 
letter ; and it is only justice to her to whom it 
was addressed that it should be known what not 
unkindly judgments were in those days formed of 
the work she was doing, and by what manner of 
persons : — 

My dear Miss Bacon, — Mr. Hawthorne wishes 
me to tell you that your manuscript arrived safely 
on Saturday evening. He has not read it yet, for 
the very good reason that he could not, as I have 
had possession of it> ever since it came, and only 
finished it last evening. My dear Miss Bacon, I 
feel so ignorant in the presence of your extraordi- 
nary learning, that it seems absurd in me even to 
say what I think of your manuscripts, and yet I 
cannot help it ; for I never read so profound and 
wonderful a criticism, and I think there never was 
such a philosophic insight and appreciation since 
Lord Bacon himself. No subject has so great a 
fascination for me as " divine Philosophy," this 
searching into the nature of things, and extracting 
their essence and discovering the central order, 
the Law that perpetually is striving to bring Har- 
mony, and which never can be broken — I mean 
not without a darkening of the Universe. I am 
one of those who have 

" a credence in my heart, 
An espeVance so obstinately strong 
As doth outdo the attest of eyes and ears." 1 

1 Troilus and Cressida, Act V., scene 2. "Invert the attest" is 
the original. [T. B.] 



226 DELIA BACON. 

(I believe these are the words of the immortal poet 
whom we have called Shakspere,) and so I am 
always ready to say " Yes, it may be so," to every 
new suggestion, however astounding. I have often 
thought we had effects without cause in those 
works, if they were written by an uncultivated 
mind, or rather by a mind not cultivated and 
educated to the last possibility, and I have said 
"It is a miracle." Yet I could believe in a mir- 
acle. To add all these, however, to what Lord 
Bacon has avowedly done, is to make him such a 
prodigy as the world never before saw. But this 
I have room enough for also. What I want now 
is more and more and more of your detections, your 
proofs, your criticism. I have an insatiable hunger, 
and I shall be glad when these and all are in 
print, for just as sure as there comes a point of 
trembling interest, you begin to interline and I am 
driven wild. But this last manuscript is much 
plainer than the others. Mr. Hawthorne has gone 
to Routledge this morning to speak about them. 
I hope that he will have the wit to publish them, 
for, irrespective of their ulterior purpose, they are 
wonderful, magnificent. 

Sincerely yours, 

Sophia Hawthorne. 

August 8 [185G]. 

Blackheath Park, Mr. Bennock's. 

The answer to this is dated August 9. a I was 
truly glad to hear your voice at last. I have 



DELIA BACON. 227 

had a kind of image of you for some time in my 
mind, and now that you draw nearer, I am very 
glad to identify in the features of your letter the 
* soul feminine ' of my so noble friend and helper, 
whom not seeing I had known also. And yet I 
think with Carlyle that the least glimpse of a 
human face, or the poorest portrait, gives one a 
better idea of the individuality than any other 
kind of demonstration. But I found such decided 
and constant features not in Mr. Hawthorne's 
books only but in his letters, and not in his words 
only but in his acts, that my confidence in him 
did not need that confirmation. He has helped 
me most of all by demonstrating his acquaintance 
with this human doctrine, a knowledge in which 
I have found some men of fame and learning 



wanting. 



" I should like very much to see you and those 
dear little children of yours, that I saw once for a 
moment. But there is but one thing for me to do 
at present. If you are able to do so I should take 
it as a great favor if you would come and see me. 
But I will not ask it of you, because I know it 
would be a great deal of trouble, and there would 
be nothing to pay you for it. My book is all that 
there is of me now, or rather my work, for the 
book is only the beginning of it I broke off with 
the Carlyles (for there are two of them) on that 
account entirely. I did not think I was fit com- 
pany for any one, and it was a mere imposition on 
my part to be pretending to it. ,, 



228 DELIA BACON. 

Liverpool, August 12, '56. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I had to return hither, 
some days ago ; but I had already gone twice to 
Routledge's, and, the second time, I saw one of the 
partners — Routledge himself being absent for a 
month or two. The partner (the same, perhaps, 
whom you talked with) suggested the probable 
unsuitableness of the book to their general line of 
business; but he desired to see the manuscript, 
and promised me, in any case, his best advice and 
utmost aid towards getting the work published. 
He seemed to think that it would be quite prac- 
ticable. The second part of Coriolanus had not 
arrived when I left Blackheath ; but I propose to 
deliver that portion of the work, first and alone, to 
the Routledges, as being perhaps calculated to 
make the best impression on their practical minds. 
I expect, at all events, much benefit from the 
counsels of these men, and I will not doubt that 
the world shall be made to hear your voice. 

I cannot now say how soon I shall return to 
Blackheath ; but Mrs. Hawthorne will be delighted 
to receive the remaining part of Coriolanus, in the 
meantime. I have not yet read the first part; 
but she, while reading it, kept overflowing into 
my ears with the many passages that took effect 
on her. In haste, 

Sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 






DELIA BACON. 229 

No one who knew Hawthorne through his books 
alone could need evidence of his exquisitely refined 
delicacy and sensibility. Nor could one who knew 
him thus imagine that the same man was charac- 
terized by the solidest and most substantial good 
sense, and by a strong intrepidity which would 
bring him, notwithstanding an almost morbid 
shrinking from human contact, to confront utter 
strangers with affairs not at all his own, and even 
to incur the risk of being thought officious in the 
business of others. In all these letters of his, 
nothing seems better to declare at once his singular 
good sense and his unselfish generosity than this 
which follows, addressed to one with whom he had 
no acquaintance, and venturing advice upon mat- 
ters in regard to which men are sometimes very 
sensitive to intrusion. Its manifest kindness, how- 
ever, was answered with the sincerest thanks, as 
having " brought some measure of relief to the 
anxiety of her nearest friends." But it was plain 
that he already discerned in her extreme exalta- 
tion the danger, if not the actual beginning, of 
that pronounced derangement of mind which was 
but a few months distant. 

U. S. Consulate, 
Liverpool, August 14, '56. 

My dear Sir, — I have recently held some com- 
munication with your sister, Miss Delia Bacon, at 
present residing in London : and, as I believe she 



230 DELIA BACON. 

has no other friend in England, you will not think 
me impertinent in addressing you with reference 
to her affairs. I understand from her (and can 
readily suppose it to be the case) that you are 
very urgent that she should return to America; 
nor can I deny that I should give her similar ad- 
vice, if her mind were differently circumstanced 
from what I find it. But Miss Bacon has become 
possessed by an idea, that there are discoveries 
within her reach, in reference to the authorship of 
Shakspeare, and that, by quitting England, she 
should forfeit all chance of following up these dis- 
coveries, and making them manifest to the public. 
I say nothing as to the correctness of this idea (as 
respects the existence of direct, material, and doc- 
umentary evidence) as she has not imparted to me 
the grounds of her belief. But, at all events, she 
is so fully and firmly possessed by it, that she will 
never leave England, voluntarily, until she shall 
have done everything in her power to obtain these 
proofs ; nor would any argument, nor, I think, any 
amount of poverty and hardship avail with her to 
the contrary. And I will say to you in confidence, 
my dear Sir, that I should dread the effect, on her 
mind, of any compulsory measures on the part of 
her friends, towards a removal. If I might pre- 
sume to advise, my counsel would be that you 
should acquiesce, for the present, in her remaining 
here, and do what may be in your power towards 
making her comfortable. 




DELIA BACON. 231 

However mistaken your sister may be, she has 
produced a most remarkable work, written with 
wonderful earnestness and ability, and full of very 
profound criticism. Its merits are entirely inde- 
pendent of the truth of her theory about the 
authorship of the plays. I am in hopes to find a 
publisher for the work, here in England ; and I 
should judge that there was a fair chance of its 
meeting with such success as would render her in- 
dependent of her friends. But this, of course, must 
be an affair of time. 

At the only interview which I have had with 
Miss Bacon, I found her tolerably well in bodily 
health, perfectly cheerful, and conversing with 
great power and intelligence. She lodges in the 
house of some excellent people, who seem to be 
attached to her, and who treat her as few London 
lodging-house keepers would treat their inmates, if 
suspected of poverty. She is very fortunate in 
having found such a home ; and I submit it to your 
judgment, on a view of the whole case, whether it 
will not be more for her well-being to remain here, 
than (against such strong convictions as actuate 
her) to return to America. And, as I have already 
said, it seems to me quite certain that she will not 
return (with her purpose unfulfilled) while she con- 
tinues to be a free agent. 

I write this note of my own motion, being 
greatly interested by what I have seen of your 
sister, and feeling, indeed, an anxious responsibility 
in putting her situation fairly before you. 



232 DELIA BACON. 

Pardon me if I have used an undue freedom, and 
believe me, 

Very sincerely and respectfully, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

Rev. Dk. Bacon. 

On the 20th of August she writes briefly to Mrs. 
Hawthorne, telling of much suffering from sick- 
ness and pain, of plans for leaving London, of re- 
lief which had come from her friends in America, 
and of " a very pleasant letter from Mr. Emerson," 
which she is going to send, and which, having 
been sent, is not among her papers. But she says 
that Hawthorne's favorable criticism of such part 
of her work as he had read had " had a good effect 
already " on Emerson. 

Then follow these two letters ; and after them 
she left London for the last time. Her work was 
almost done. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — I have this moment 
received your manuscript, and am thankful for 
such a godsend this dull weather and in the con- 
tinued absence of my husband. The winter of my 
discontent will not be made glorious summer till 
next Wednesday, and so we cannot read it together. 
I rejoice at all your hopes and assurances, but 
grieve much over your suffering. I have been 
waiting for a good day to go and see you, but the 
weather confines me on account of my throat. 



DELIA BACON. 233 

Will you tell me where you shall be after Monday, 
that I may discover you when I can go to town. 
In the greatest haste at present, 
I am sincerely yours, 

Sophia Hawteorne. 

I send this directly to relieve your mind of 

anxiety about the manuscript. 

lii.Ai-K in a i ii Park, 

August 21, 1856. 

12 Spring St., August 26, '56. 

Dear Mrs. Hawthorne, — I have been trying 
to be able to write a note either to Mr. H. or your- 
self ever since I received yours acknowledging the 
manuscript, but the illness of which I spoke then 
has proved a very serious one, and if I had thought 
you were quite well enough to come and see me 
I should certainly have sent for you. All my 
arrangements were made to go into the count rv 
on Monday, but yesterday I could not sit up, and 
whether I get off to-day or not is very doubtful. 
I looked on while the servant packed my trunks 
for me last night after her fashion, and it nearly 
killed me. I am dying partly, principally I think, 
of want of proper food, proper for an invalid. The 
mercy of the lodging-house keepers, in that re- 
spect, is small when the difference in price be- 
tween the nutritious and the poisonous article goes 
to them. Just at the moment when it became 
absolutely necessary that I should make a change 



234 DELTA BACON. 

on that account I found myself in possession of 
the means of paying my bill here entirely, leaving 
a very very small sum over. I hoped I should 
receive more this week, but it has not come. . . . 

Mrs. Farrar sent me some nice things last week, 
but I think they came too late. They don't revive 
or strengthen me at all that I can see. The Dr. 
says that 1 must go to a farm-house ; I told him I was 
very poor, and he says I can live on almost nothing 
there, and have the very diet that I require. He 
recommends the vicinity of Leamington, at least I 
told him I had been thinking of that, and he says 
it is the very best I can choose. I shall try to go 
to-day. I shall take those chapters with me, and 
write them over at my leisure. I put my book 
into Mr. Hawthorne's hands to dispose of as he 
thinks best whether I live or die. I wrote to my 
friends that I had done so. If he can get it pub- 
lished here or in America, I wish he would. I 
know he will make the best terms for it that he 
can, and he need not wait to consult me about it at 
all. 

In great haste. 

Truly and affectionately yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

Direct to me at Stratford-on-Avon Post-office. 
I shall leave my address there for any one who in- 
quires for it. 







XV. 

In what condition it was that she made alone 
this last expedition of her life, to Stratford, is 
briefly told by Mrs. Farrar in the book already 
quoted. 

In London she " had suffered many privations 
during the time that she was writing her book. 
She lived on the poorest food, and was often with- 
out the means of having a fire in her chamber. 
She told me that she wrote a great part of btf 
large octavo volume sitting up in bed, in order to 
keep warm. . . . 

" Her life of privation and seclusion was very 
injurious to both body and mind. How great that 
seclusion was is seen from the following passage 
from another of her letters to me: 'I am glad to 
know that you are still alive and on this side of 
that wide sea which parts me from so many that 
were once so near, for I have lived here much 
like a departed spirit, looking back on the joys and 
sorrows of a world in which I have no longer any 
place. I have been more than a year in this 
house, and have had but three visitors in all that 
time, and paid but one visit myself, and that was 
to Carlyle, after he had taken the trouble to come 




236 DELIA BACON. 

all the way from Chelsea to invite me, and al- 
though he has since written to invite me, I have 
not been able to accept his kindness. I have had 
calls from Mr. Grote and Mr. Monckton Milnes ; * 
and Mr. Buchanan came to see me, though I had 
not delivered my letter to him.' 

" All the fine spirits who knew Miss Bacon 
found in her wha,t pleased and interested them, 
and had not that one engrossing idea possessed 
her, she might have had a brilliant career among 
the literary society of London. 

" One dark winter evening, after writing all day 
in her bed, she rose, threw on some clothes, and 
walked out to take the air. Her lodgings were at 
the West End of London, near to Sussex Gardens, 
and not far from where my mother lived. She 
needed my address, and suddenly resolved to go to 
the house of Mrs. R. for it. She sent in her re- 
quest, and while standing in the doorway she had 
a glimpse of the interior. It looked warm, cheer- 
ful, and inviting, and she had a strong desire to see 
my mother ; so she readily accepted an invitation 
to walk in, and found the old lady with her daugh- 
ter and a friend just sitting down to tea. Happily 
my sister remembered that a Miss Bacon had been 
favorably mentioned in my letters from Cambridge, 
so she had no hesitation in asking her to take tea 
with them. The stranger's dress was such an ex- 
traordinary dishabille that nothing but her lady- 

1 Richard Monckton Milnes, afterward Lord Houghton. [T. B.] 



DELIA BACOX. 237 

like manners and conversation could have con- 
vinced the family that she was the person whom 
she pretended to be. She told me how much 
ashamed she was of her appearance that evening ; 
she had intended going only to the door, but could 
not resist the inclination to enter and sit down at 
that cheerful tea-table, which looked so like mine 
in Cambridge. 

"The next summer I was living in London. 
The death of a dear friend had just occurred in 
my house; the relatives were collected there, and 
all were feeling very sad, when I was told by my 
servant that a lady wished to see me. I sent word 
that there was death in the house, and I could see 
no one that night The servant returned, saying, 
1 She will not go away, ma'am, and she will not 
give her name.' 

" On hearing this I went to the door, and there 
stood Delia Bacon, pale and sad. I took her in my 
arms and pressed her to my bosom ; she gasped for 
breath and could not speak. We went into a va- 
cant room and sat down together. She was faint, 
but recovered on drinking a glass of port * 
and then she told me that her book was finished 
and in the hands of Mr. Hawthorne, and now she 
was ready to go to Stratford-upon-Avon. There 
she expected to verify her hypothesis, by opening 
the tomb of Shakespeare, where she felt sure of 
finding papers that would disclose the real author- 
ship of the plays. I tried in vain to dissuade her 



238 DELIA BACON. 

from this insane project; she was resolved, and 
only wished for my aid in winding up her affairs 
in London and setting her off for Stratford. This 
aid I gave with many a sad misgiving as to the re- 
sult. She looked so ill when I took leave of her 
in the railroad carriage that I blamed myself for 
not having accompanied her to Stratford, and was 
only put at ease by a very cheerful letter from 
her, received a few days after her departure." 

This letter was very like in substance, and al- 
most in terms, to that which follows here. 

August 29-30, '56. 

My dear Mrs. Hawthorne, — Twenty-four 
hours after I left London — alone, and fearfully ill 
— not knowing hardly whither I went, — I found 
myself lying on the sofa, in the most perfect little 
Paradise of neatness and comfort that you can 
possibly conceive of — if it had been invented on 
purpose, and dropped down out of the clouds to 
receive me at the end of my journey, it could not 
have been more exactly the place I wanted, — with 
a dear good motherly old lady to nurse me and 
take care of me, and no other creature in the 
house but her little servant who is all of a piece 
with the rest of it. It is not a lodging house. 
The owner of it lives on her rents, and never took 
a lodger in her life before, but some person had 
heard that she thought of taking a friend of hers 
for company, and something had happened to pre- 



DELI A BACON. ggf 

vent it, and she thought if she could find a lady to 
her mind, perhaps she would take one. I had stip- 
ulated for a place near the church, and this was 
mentioned in that connection. The only objects 
to be seen from my window as I write are the 
trees on the banks of the Avon, and the church 
directly before me, only a few yards from here, 
though I shall have to go about some to find ac- 
cess to it, I suppose. I took the old lady by storm. 
She was not at home when I arrived here. I had 
come in a " Fly " from the " Red 'Orse," for I could 
just as soon have forded the Atlantic Ocean as to 
have walked the short distance from ray inn to this 
place. You must know I was so deadly ill that I 
could not get taken in at an ordinary lodging 
house ; they thought from my appearance that I 
was going to die directly and that it would not be 
worth the trouble. At least there was great hesi- 
tation on that account evidently, and I could not 
wait for the decision. This old lady had gone to 
church — something about the Jews — her little 
handmaid said, from which I argued favorably. 
The moment I looked into the house I thought I 
saw that it was the place appointed for me, and I 
ordered the porter to take off my luggage. It 
was deposited in the hall, and seating myself in 
the room which I intended to occupy, and trying 
to get as much life into my face as I could, I 
awaited with some anxiety the return of the owner 
of the establishment. The little handmaid set. 



240 DELTA BACON. 

to have some misgivings and once she came to the 
door and said timidly, " Do you know Mrs. Terrett ? " 
I told her she need not give herself any trouble, I 
would take all the blame of it. The kitchen was 
what finally decided me to stop ; I walked into it, 
and I thought it was the prettiest place I ever saw. 
The walls were painted cerulean blue, and every- 
thing in it shone like gold. The little servant kept 
running up stairs and putting her head out of the 
window, and finally she reported that the thing was 
ended, whatever it was, and that her mistress was 
coming. The moment I saw her kind countenance 
I was sure that I had not made a mistake. She 
was very much surprised of course, — said that she 
had thought a little of such a thing, but was not 
aware that she had named it to any one. She saw 
that I was very ill, and that I think decided her not 
to send me away, at least till I was better. We 
talked about the price. — Two very, very nice 
rooms, good sized, and well furnished — the front 
room and the room over it She asked me if I 
thought — if she furnished linen, etc. — if seven 
shillings per week would be too much for rent and 
attendance. As I had been paying eighteen, for 
accommodations very much less to my mind, I told 
her I thought it would not. So all was settled, 
and she made me lie down on the sofa and covered 
me up like a mother, and went off to prepare some 
refreshment for me immediately, and there I lay 
at two o'clock — (the hour I left London the day 



DELIA BACON. 241 

before) looking out on that church spire, and those 
trees on the Avon, so near, so very near, and yet 
doubtful whether my feet would ever take me 
there. For such deathly, deathly weakness no 
one ever felt before I believe who was able to go 
about in person to take lodgings. I have scarcely 
had a thought or an emotion since I left London. 
I am only an automaton obeying some former pur- 
pose, obeying rather the Power above that is work- 
ing beneficently in all this. I have no anxiety, 
no care about it. I love to be here. Those beau- 
tiful trees and that church spire look a little like 
dream-land to me, and after the trouble of the 
journey yesterday I felt almost inclined to pro- 
nounce the aspirate as the natives do here; it 
would not be the first time that that play on the 
word has been made — 'Avon. I lie here as quiet 
and as helpless as a baby waiting on the Power 
that has brought me here, with no fear now that 
any thing will fail which the opening of this new 
fountain of blessings for men, requires to be done. 
I shall be here perhaps for months to come. To 
recover my health is now my only object. If that 
can be done, this I think is the place for it. The 
air is as pure as heaven, and the calm after that 
noise for twenty months soothes me every moment. 
Yesterday I could not have written a page of this 
to save my life, but I have had the table drawn up 
to the sofa and I stop and rest me whenever I am 
tired. It gives me pleasure to write it to you, and 



242 DELIA BACON. 

I think you will like to know what has become of 
me, though I do not know as you will care for all 
these details. But I thought you might feel some 
uneasiness about me, taking all the circumstances 
into the account, and I wished both Mr. H. and 
yourself to know that I am here for my health, 
and for the rest I shall wait for clear indications, 
and I expect help and direction from a power 
which is not limited to the sphere of my conscious- 
ness and volitions. I expect it to work in other 
minds as well as my own if that should be required, 
for I do not think that I have been brought here 
after so long a time for nothing. I had to stop in 
the midst of a sentence last night for that deathly 
faintness came over me again and I could not even 
sign my name to the letter so as to get it to the 
Post in time. I slept eight hours last night and 
this morning I begin to feel some faint return of 
my former self. Till now my mind has instinc- 
tively excluded all thoughts of my work and every- 
thing connected with it. What I have put on pa- 
per here is the most that I have thought on the 
subject since I left London. There was no vital- 
ity to spare, and I suppose it will take many days 
yet to put me back where I was in health when 
I planned my journey here. 

Most truly yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

Address at Mrs. Terrett's, 

College St., Stratford-on-Avon. 



DELIA BACON. 243 

[Mrs. Hawthorne to D. B.] 
My dear Miss Bacon, — When I received your 
very welcome note dated Stratford-on-Avon, I had 
on my bonnet to go to Oxford with Mr. Haw- 
thorne, or I should have replied to it at once. I 
have been to Oxford — and when there was hur- 
ried from place to place and obliged to sit and be 
polite part of the time, as we were guests of a 
gentleman there. On my return I was obliged to 
spend the very next day in London to see the 
Doctor and a dentist. The next day I went to 
Hampton Court, and now this is the first quiet and 
leisure I have had. I am unspeakably stupid from 
fatigue to-day, but I cannot allow another mail to 
pass without telling you what a relief it was to me 
to have your note, and to hear that you were in 
such a sweet little quiet place, and under such 
kind guardianship. May Heaven bless the old 
lady and her little maid ! May the sun ever shine 
on the cottage ! You seem led by the angel of 
the Lord. I wish very much to know whether 
you are getting better. If you cannot write, tell 
the kind old lady to write for you and let me know 
how you do. We shall leave Blackheath on the 
Thursday or Friday of this week — and then will 
you direct to the Consulate till I can tell you 
where we are at the seaside. It seems to me 
impertinent to be anxious or careful about you 
whom the angels guard. Our friend Mr. Bennoch 



244 DELIA BACON. 

is going to aid us about getting your manuscripts 
published, but I know nothing to tell you quite 
yet. 

My dear Miss Bacon, I did not know till your 
note enclosed by Mrs. Farrar that your health was 
feeble, or that your friends had left you solely to 
God. Mr. Hawthorne had never informed me of 
your present needs. I thought you " beyond the 
utmost scope and vision of calamity," like a dis- 
embodied thought. You ought not to be obliged 
to think of what you shall eat or wherewithal 
you should be clothed while occupied with your 
noble work. 

With the highest admiration and respect, 
I am very sincerely yours, 

Sophia Hawthorne. 

7th September [1856]. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, Sept. 24, '56. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I have seen a notice of 
the publication you tell me about, in the Athe- 
naeum ; but I have not seen the thing itself, and 
can not procure it here. The Athenaeum refers to 
your essay on the subject, published in Putnam's 
Magazine. From the extracts, I should judge that 
the author of the "Letter" takes hold of the 
matter externally, without looking inside of the 
plays for any part of his argument. I will write 
to a friend in London to send you a copy. 



DELIA BACON. 

When I was compelled to leave London, I put 
the affair (of publishing your work) into the hands 
of a gentleman in whose energy I had all confi- 
dence, and who seemed to take hold of it lovingly, 
for my sake. But I do not yet know what he has 
done about it. I shall stir him and all other peo- 
ple up about it. I do not know what effect the 
publication of the "Letter" will have on the 
minds of booksellers ; but, should it draw notice 
to the subject, I should deem it all the better. 
Your original property in the idea is sufficiently 
established. 

Mrs. Hawthorne is at Southport, about twenty 
miles from Liverpool, and is pretty well. 

I write in immense haste. 

Sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

P. S. You say nothing about the state of your 
funds. Pardon me for alluding to the subject; 
but you promised to apply to me in case of need. 
I am ready. N. H. 

Two allusions in the last preceding letter are 
worthy of explanation. 

The "publication" which had been noticed in 
the Athenceum, and of which she had evidently 
written to Hawthorne in some alarm, was a pam- 
phlet by Mr. William Henry Smith, printed in Lon- 
don for private circulation in September, 1856, 
and entitled, " Was Lord Bacon the Author of 



246 DELIA BACON. 

Shakespeare's Plays: A Letter to the Earl of 
Ellesmere." 

Upon this, Hawthorne, in his Introduction to 
Delia Bacon's book, animadverted with severity, 
as an unfair assumption of that lady's theory as 
original with the author of the pamphlet. 

This accusation, however, he afterward publicly 
withdrew, upon sufficient assurance from Mr. Smith 
that he had " never heard the name of Miss Bacon 
until it was mentioned in the review of" his 
pamphlet. 

The friend in whose hands Hawthorne had now 
"put the affair of publishing" was Francis Ben- 
noch, F. S. A., a London merchant, and sometime 
Member of Parliament. The published " English 
Note-Books " of Hawthorne show on almost every 
page how close their friendship was during all his 
stay in England. He was himself — or he would 
not have been Hawthorne's friend — a gentleman 
of fine tastes, which are evinced in a collected 
volume of his poems. 1 

1 Poems, Lyrics, Songs, and Sonnets: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 
1881. 



XVL 

When Hawthorne saw his correspondent, on the 
29th of July, he recorded in his diary the judg- 
ment that she was " a monomaniac." The phrase, 
which he may have used, as it is used so often, in 
something less than its scientific sense, was rapidly 
coming to be strictly exact. The complete signifi- 
cance of these following letters, in showing her in- 
creasing mental disturbance, will be made clearer 
by giving some account of a long and most wise, 
considerate, and affectionate one from her brother 
to her, about the 12th of September. 

He tells of that " ceaseless pressure of work," 
known to all who knew him, which had hindered 
his writing to her very often or very long. " But 
your last letter," he says, " moves me to seize time 
from other duties, and to write more at length 
than I have done heretofore. . . . 

" I read with much interest your article in the 
January number of Putnam's Magazine ; and I 
shared with you — as I believe I have already told 
you — in the disappointment which followed. The 
thought of your obtaining for your long labors 
something which might give you at least a tem- 
porary support was one which I entertained the 



248 DELIA BACON. 

more gladly for its unexpectedness. I will still 
hope that the materials which you have accumu- 
lated as the result of so much toil may be made 
available for your relief from the troubles that 
crowd you. Of course, I have no means of judg- 
ing what those materials are, except from the 
specimen in the Magazine. If any one can help 
you in making them available, Mr. Hawthorne is 
the man. Let me beg you to follow his advice. 
If he can find a publisher for you, do not hesitate 
to accept any compensation which he may think 
reasonable, or (in your circumstances) expedient. 
As an experienced author, he is competent to ad- 
vise you on all questions, both as to what you will 
select for publication, and how you will publish it. 
As to the title, I would say, Let him and the pub- 
lisher agree about that. Their judgment will be 
worth more than yours and mine together. This, 
however, I will venture to suggest. Your mate- 
rials, if I have any idea of them, will be worth 
more to you in the shape of separate articles for 
magazines and other periodicals, than if put into 
one solid volume. And, furthermore, your theory 
about the authorship of Shakspeare's Plays is 
worth far less in money value to you or to any 
publisher, than your exposition of the meaning of 
those compositions. You know perfectly well that 
the great world does not care a sixpence who wrote 
Hamlet. But there are myriads who can read 
Hamlet with delight, and who will be thankful to 



DELIA BACON. 249 

anybody that will make their reading of it more 
delightful or more useful. 

" Indeed, my dear sister, if you will but have 
the courage to fall back on your natural good 
sense, you will find your way out of ' the enchanted 
wood ' into which you have been led. Misguided 
by your imagination, you have yielded yourself to 
a delusion which, if you do not resist it and escape 
from it as for your life, will be fatal to you. How 
to say less than this, I know not. I am not now 
to inform you that your theory about Shakspeare 
and Shakspeare's tomb and all that is a mere 
delusion — a trick of the imagination. For five 
years you have known that I think so. And — 
my dear sister — can you not, in God's name, and 
in the strength which he will give you, break the 
spell, and escape from the delusion ? " 

Then, after news of many persons in whom she 
was interested, he resumes : 

"I have written this long letter at intervals, 
snatching a few moments now and then for the 
purpose of expressing my undiminished brotherly 
interest in your welfare. Some passages were 
written with the consciousness that they would be 
painful to you, but T show you more respect and 
treat you with more confidence by retaining them, 
than I could by suppressing them. The friends 
who humor your delusion, and permit you to be- 
lieve that they think there may be something in 
it, may have the kindest intentions, but they have 



250 DELIA BACON. 

less confidence in you than I have shown by 
speaking frankly what they think would be lost 
upon you. And having returned to this subject, I 
will make another suggestion. Your theory about 
the authorship of Shakspeare's plays may after all 
be worth something if published as a fiction. You 
might introduce such things into a romance, and 
find readers who would accept it respectfully as 
a work of imagination, and be gratified with it, 
when if the same things are brought forward with 
grave argument, as facts to be believed, they will 
reject the whole work with contempt. I make 
this suggestion, not to discourage you, but to 
encourage you, by showing how all your materials 
may be turned to good account. ... I hope to 
write to you again before long. Meanwhile com- 
mending you to the watchfulness and covenant 
love of the God of our father and mother, I am 
your affectionate brother." 

This letter was never answered. Its effect upon 
her however, so different from that which its wise 
and solemnly tender remonstrance must surely 
have had upon her normal mind, is plainly enough 
shown in that to Hawthorne which follows. But 
before giving that there should be mentioned three 
little notes from the vicar of Stratford. On the 
11th of October he expresses regret at having 
been unable to call on her that morning, and 
promises to come on Monday. That day he again 
excuses himself on the ground of a forgotten en- 



DELIA BACON. 251 

gagement, and proceeds : " As further delay might 
cause inconvenience to yourself I shall commit to 
paper what I should have preferred to say viva 
voce, viz., that I regret extremely that I cannot 
accede to your request under a sense of the duty 
which I owe to others; but I must at the same 
time assure you most sincerely that my decision is 
not influenced by the least want of confidence in 
yourself. I shall however be most happy to find 
that I can make such arrangements as will enable 
you to accomplish your purpose. If you would 
not object to the presence of the Clerk, who I feel 
sure would not betray your confidence, or if you 
would like better to be accompanied by me, which- 
ever you prefer, you have only to intimate your 
wishes and I will pay the readiest attention to 
them. I need scarcely add that I have complied 
with your request not to mention the subject to 
any human being." And at last, on the 14th, in 
answer, it seems, to further urgency of the sort 
disclosed in her letter which follows, he writes 
again " to assure you that I am not in the least 
disposed to look upon our brothers of the other 
side of the Atlantic at all as strangers. The fact 
of their coming so long a pilgrimage to the shrine 
of Shakspeare would induce me to give them a 
greater degree of consideration than my own 
countrymen. Having a distinct and plain duty to 
perform, I should not, even were Lord Carlisle 
to come here and make the same request to me, 



252 DELIA BACON. 

grant it to him even, — and he has certainly done 
much for us in Stratford ; and that I do trust you 
will not conceive I am for one moment throwing 
the least doubt on your good faith in the decision 
I have come to." 

[D. B. to Hawthorne.] 

Stratford-upon-Avon, Oct. 16 [1856]. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — I have not yet tested 
my belief in regard to the deposit of certain 
memorials here which may tend to hasten the 
reception of those new applications of science to 
practice which the work you have so nobly taken 
in hand was meant to propound, and which do not 
depend on any such contingency for their value. 
Since I have been here I have been in such a state 
of health that it has been literally impossible for 
me to make the experiment which I came here to 
make. I could not bear so much as the thought 
of it. Even though I had positively known before- 
hand that I should be successful, I should still have 
recoiled from it. But I felt that I must not yield 
to that weakness, and I was constantly watching 
for the moment when my physical strength would 
allow me to take the preliminary steps. The week 
after I wrote you last, I went to the church for the 
second time since I have been here (I told you of 
my first visit). I chose the hour at which the clerk 
told me I should be the least likely perhaps to be 
interrupted by other visitors, and in the course of 



DELIA BACON. 253 

that hour, I think he brought in not less than 
twenty persons. I outstayed them all, but the lia- 
bility to intrusion at any moment was not favor- 
able to my objects. 

" The clerk having locked me in, came for me at 
six o'clock, by agreement. That was " a fair day " 
he said, but from eight o'clock in the morning 
there was no hour in the day when I could be 
sure of being left to myself. I then proposed the 
evening, and he made no objection, but said he 
would give me a candle and any assistance that I 
wanted. 

" So the next time I went was in the evening at 
seven o'clock. He gave me the key, and he was 
to call for me at ten. It was necessary for me to 
make a sort of confidant of my landlady, and a 
very excellent one she is. It happened that I met 
her as I was going, and I induced her to walk 
there with me. She shrank very much from going 
into the church in the dark, but I told her I was 
not in the least afraid, — I only wanted her to 
help me a little. So I groped my way to the 
chancel, and she waited till the light was struck. 
I had a dark lantern like Guy Fawkes, and some 
other articles which might have been considered 
suspicious if the police had come upon us. The 
clerk was getting uneasy, and I found he had fol- 
lowed us, though he had not proposed to do so, and 

I was very glad Mrs. was with me, because 

I made a statement in her presence which reas- 



254 DELIA BACON. 

sured him, and they both went off and left me 
there. That was the chance that I had desired, 
but I had made a promise to the clerk that I would 
not do the least thing for which he could be called 
in question, — and though I went far enough to 
see that the examination I had proposed to make, 
could be made, leaving all exactly as I found it, it 
could not be made in that time, nor under those 
conditions. I did not feel at liberty to make it, for 
fear I might violate the trust this man had reposed 
in me, and if I were not wholly and immediately 
successful I should have run the risk of losing any 
chance of continuing my research. I was alone 
there till ten o'clock. On my right was the old 
Player, I knew, looking down on me, but I could 
not see him. I looked up to the ceiling but it 
was not visible ; there was something that looked 
like a midnight sky, and all the long drawn aisle 
was in utter darkness. I heard a creaking in it, 
a cautious step, repeatedly, and I knew that the 
clerk was there and watching me. He told me 
when he came in at last, that he had been about 
the church all the evening. He evidently felt that 
he was doing something questionable at least, in 
permitting me to be there under those circum- 
stances, and as I knew that my movements must 
seem quite unaccountable to him, I told him then 
and there, in general terms, what my objects were, 
but that I had respected my promise to him, and 
though I might need his aid I would not propose 



DELIA BACON. 255 

to him anything inconsistent with his duties, and 
that I had concluded to ask the permission of the 
Vicar before I proceeded any further. He told me 
it would be as much as his place was worth (and 
nobody knows how much that is) to assist me 
without leave, but if the Vicar would give him leave 
he should be very glad to do so. I told him not 
to say anything to the Vicar about it until I had 
seen him, and though I had not a letter to him I 
had some testimonials which would answer my 
purpose, and I would introduce myself. That was 
rather a premature movement, and I had to stop 
to rest upon it." 

Then follow many pages — twice as many as 
are printed above — telling of the letter from her 
brother, with the bitterest complaints of his cold 
and deliberate cruelty in writing to her thus. Be- 
fore this, in the course of this pursuit of hers, she 
says, " I have suffered, past the power of tongue 
or pen to say how much, from his harshness and 
coldness and from his desertion of me, but I have 
always apologized for him and my belief in him 
and affection for him has always been ready to re- 
vive again, and asking leave to heal over all these 
wrongs. But I do not think there is any healing 
for this. . . . He knows how to express himself 
according to the prescribed rules of Christian 
kindness, when he is most cruel. This is a very 
fraternal letter on the surface. . . . He affects to 



256 J)ELIA BACON. 

consider it [the book] a total failure, and suggests 
that I might possibly, out of the wreck of my ma- 
terials, compose a work of fiction which might be 
amusing and saleable. I might in that way, he 
thinks, avoid the i contempt ' — that is his word — 
which my views in their present form provoke, — 
a contempt which he has just been trying to ex- 
press to me with a refinement of cruelty, which 
is calculated to make up for its want of sincer- 
ity. ... I told you my brother was a good man, 
and I have always thought him the very very best 
man there was, and the people who know him best 
are apt to think that of him. And that is what 
has given him this power to hurt me. But this 
last letter has robbed him of it. It is the last of 
many acts of which I have complained to him in 
the bitterness of my soul, but now I understand 
them and him, and I shall never complain to him 
again. But I don't want any one — I don't want 
Mrs. Hawthorne to think ill of him, and for that 
reason — and for another which is, I think, a good 
one — I wish you would not show her this letter 
if you can help it. It is necessary that you should 
know what fatal misunderstanding this is, that 
separates me from my natural helpers. . . . The 
case is a very difficult one you see. I have never 
written to them for any aid. I would have died 
first. ... I have used the money that my brother 
sent me because I could not well help it ; but if he 
sends me any more, as I suppose from a line at the 



DELIA BACON. 257 

end of his letter he expects to, I shall return it to 
him. I have not written for any money, but I had 
reason to suppose that from one source or the 
other I should have some by this time ; but it has 
not come yet, and I shall have to take your offer, 
for the present. It is not much that I want, but 
the money I brought with me is gone, — and to 
undertake to do what I propose to do here abso- 
lutely without money, though I am getting on 
without any impediment thus far, is I suppose ask- 
ing too much of human nature, in a place where 
the visits of strangers are calculated on as the 
principal means of living. . . . 

"I am living now in High Street, in a house not 
far from the one that Shakespeare retired to or 
rather not far from the site of it, and on the same 
side of the street, in a house that was evidently 
here then, and one that he has often been in I 
suppose, and whether it is the air of the place or 
the spirit of that abused individual revengefully 
inciting me — even without the means and appli- 
ances of the New Place, I would be glad to settle 
down here quietly as he did, and mind my own 
business for the future. And I am not at all sure 
that I shan't do that, if I find I can, and the world 
should conclude it does not want any help of mine 
— I am a great deal more at home here than I 
am in America — I tell all the people here, that I 
see, that they need not call me ' a foreigner.' My 
fathers helped conquer this country, and I have as 



258 DELIA BACON. 

good a right here as they have. I have not defi- 
nitely decided what I am to do in case all that I 
am depending on now, fails, but the conviction that 
I shall do something, and not die, is getting strong 
in me. I shall be relieved from the necessity of 
any future reference to the judgment of the world 
on my conduct, though I propose to keep by all 
means on good terms with myself. 1 want you to 
help me till I can get over this difficulty. Help 
me through this research. I won't ask any one 
else. After that if I do live I will help myself. 
I owe this year of my life to you, and I do not 
mean that you, or yours, shall be the poorer for it, 
and I say that not for your sake but for my own. 
I should have died when Mr. Emerson's letter 
came, I think, if it had not been for yours that 
came with it, and this more cruel one was sheathed 
with those two little bits of paper on which you 
wrote so much. I had had the first when this let- 
ter came, and I received the second a few days 
after. I have not acknowledged them, but I have 
been living on them. I had no heart to go on 
till I received the second, after that assault upon 
my reason. I knew what fearful risk I was incur- 
ring, what my own brother was prepared to say of 
me in case I failed, as I expected to, for I began 
to take part against myself — it was enough to 
drive one mad. But I reviewed all the ground of 
my belief, — I summoned to my aid all the faculty 
for distinguishing truth from error which God has 



DELIA BACON. 259 

given me, and though I could not predict the re- 
sult, though my belief as to what it may be, and 
ought to be, is altogether different from that which 
I have in regard to the authorship of the works, 
(for that is a scientific certainty, that is knowledge 
and not faith,) even under this so fearful penalty, 
assured that I may find nothing there, — and t/iat 
that is perhaps the thing most to be expected, — 
I have concluded that I should fail in the obliga- 
tions which have been imposed on me, if I were 
to shrink now from this examination for fear of the 
personal consequences. That would be base and 
cowardly. The inscription speaks of stones; there 
may be but one lying directly on the ground, and 
if it is only of the usual thickness there is not 
likely to be room for my theory in it. I suppose 
this to be a lid, and that there is one beneath it. 
Whether there is, or not, I mean to ascertain. 
There may have been one beneath it and it may 
have been removed. If it contained anything 
valuable, it is the more likely to have been. 
There must have been a trust reposed in some 
one, — if I positively knew it was there once, I 
could not be sure it is there now. The stones on 
either side of it have been put there since. This 
very clerk saw the two on the west side of it put 
down, but as to the depth of this, he could not 
give me any information. If I can ascertain the 
depth beforehand, it might save the trouble of 
going any further. 



260 DELIA BACON. 

" I wanted to have my book published before I 
made this inquiry, and I never meant to have my 
belief on this point known until I had had an op- 
portunity of testing it ; but some one to whom I 
told it in the most sacred confidence, and under a 
solemn promise of secresy, caused it to be put in 
the newspapers, and it has been published all over 
England and America. My comfort was that a 
paragraph in the newspapers does not live very 
long if there is nothing to fan it. 

" I want to stay here all winter. I like Stratford. 
Shakespeare was right. It is a very nice comfort- 
able place to stop in, much better than London for 
a person of a genial but retiring turn of mind. 
Some time while I am here I expect that exami- 
nation to be made. Perhaps no one else but the 
person who must be present (I find) will know 
when it happens. Three persons in this town know 
that it is to be made. They are the persons who 
have the power and right to permit and sanction 
it ; they are sworn to secresy in case of its failure. 
I have taken the clerk and the vicar into my con- 
fidence, and the vicar has consulted a friend who 
is at the same time a lawyer and a Stratford man 
and the one he would most rely on. I asked the 
latter for leave to make the examination alone, and 
the night is the only time possible for it. He took 
my request into consideration, and the result was 
that he found it would not be consistent with the 
solemn obligations he assumed when he took for- 




DELIA BACON. 261 

mally the keys of the church from the wardens of 
it, to allow of that. It was no want of confidence 
in me. If Lord Carlisle should make the same re- 
quest, and he has certainly done a great deal for 
Stratford, he could only give him the same answer. 
He knew why I wished for secresy, and he told me 
if I would not object to the presence of the clerk, 
who would not, he thought, betray my confidence, 
or if I preferred that he himself should accom- 
pany me, he would make the necessary arrange- 
ments for accomplishing my wishes. I have seen 
him since and told him I would accept his offer, 
and though I should of course prefer to have him 
there it might be a tedious operation ; but he says 
he should not mind that at all, and from his last 
note I see he has concluded to be there and he 
only waits now to hear from me. He has been to 
see me twice about it, and there has been consider- 
able correspondence. He is 'High Church,' but not 
affectedly or perhaps very zealously religious, and 
I am glad he is not. I would not trust a very 
religious man as I shall have to trust him. What 
between justification, and free will, and the great- 
est good of the greatest number, which, practically 
applied, means number one for the time being, 
there is quite too large a margin left for a case 
like this. This man is a gentleman and naturally 
a line honorable man, which is much more to the 
purpose. 'Nature hath meal and bran' in the 
church and out of it The arrangements are all 



262 DELIA BACON. 

made, but they are made as if I were absolutely 
certain of failure. I have found by experiment 
that I can make the examination thoroughly, and 
leave the stone exactly as I find it, and I could do 
it alone, weak as I am, now, without any one to 
lift a finger to help me. I have promised to per- 
form the experiment without removing a particle 
of the stone, or leaving a trace of harm, and what 
is very gratifying to me under the circumstances, 
neither the clerk nor the vicar appears disposed 
to take it for granted that I am insane. I have 
told them my reasons for it. The archives of this 
secret philosophical society are buried somewhere, 
perhaps in more places than one. The evidence 
points very strongly this way, it points to a tomb 
— Lord Bacon's tomb would throw some light on 
it I think. Spenser's / know contains, or did when 
it was closed, verses, ' and the pens that writ 
them,' the verses of his brother poets, — the poets 
of this school, — Raleigh's school. . . . 

u I am going to write to Mrs. Hawthorne as soon 
as I can. But I cannot speak now, this thing 
presses on me so heavily ; the terrors of it are 
what you see. If I could do it alone it would not 
be so fearful. If I had hope enough to justify it, 
I would insist on your being here. But I have 
not. The conviction that I ought to do it is the 
strength in which I go about it. The vicar is very 
friendly to me ; he has not told ' a human being,' 
not even his wife, he says, or he had not until I 



DELIA BACON. 263 

gave him leave to take advice confidentially, and 
therefore, on his account perhaps, as well as on 
account of what I have said about my brother, this 
letter ought to be for your eye only. Don't stop 
to answer this letter. If you will read it that is all 
I ask — at present — 1 have been waiting till the 
last moment to write it. I could not write any 
less. Truly yours, 

Delia Bacon." 

It is not without doubt and hesitation that it has 
been decided to make publicly known these letters 
that follow. But it has seemed right that this part 
of the story should be told with the rest; that the 
inexhaustible patience, gentleness, and generosity 
of Hawthorne should be known, as they could never 
be but by showing these shrewd trials to which 
they were submitted ; while it is not unjust to the 
memory of her whose life was now consciously end- 
ing, that the approach should be shown of that mad- 
ness which nevertheless had not yet stricken her. 
His intercession for her brother, whom he did not 
know, — seeking by gentle words to turn away 
from him unjust accusation ; his untiring devotion 
to the purpose which was all that she was now 
living for; only served to involve him, the most 
helpful friend, except her brother, whom she had 
ever known, in the bitter suspicion and anger 
which is so often the earliest sign of coming insan- 
ity. Yet misunderstanding, ingratitude, injustice, 



264 DELIA BACON. 

could not turn him back from helping her. His 
clairvoyant soul could see through it all the sin- 
cere, earnest, truthful spirit which he honored, and 
would serve, even against its consent. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, Oct. 21, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I send a post-office order 
for five pounds, payable to you at the Stratford 
post-office. 

I should have had, probably, some decisive in- 
telligence about your book, if my friend Mr. Ben- 
noch had not been called away from London for a 
few days. On his return, we shall certainly know 
about it ; and the news shall be good — at least, 
not bad — though all the fiends fight against us. 

As regards your brother, it is to be considered 
that he is, at all events, a brother, and cannot 
divest himself of the duties of that relation. And 
your claims upon him are quite independent of any 
injustice on his part, and of any delicacy of feeling 
on yours. He is bound to help you, and you to be 
helped by him, just the same as if he had the high- 
est faith in yourself and your deeds. No stranger 
has a right to interfere in your behalf, unless 
constrained by deep interest and respect; but a 
brother stands on quite different ground. My con- 
viction is strong that you ought not to return any 
money that he may remit. Moreover (taking into 
consideration as much of his character, and as 



DELIA BACOX. 265 

many of all the circumstances, as I am aware of) I 
can see that his sympathy was hardly to be hoped 
for. In short, I mean to think him a good man 

yet. 

I shall not (unless you give me leave) show your 
letter to Mrs. Hawthorne. 
In great haste, 

Sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

[D. B. to Hawthorne.] 

Stratford-on-Avon, October 22, '56. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — I have received your 
note with its enclosure of five pounds, for which I 
thank you. As to my last letter, I put it entirely 
at your discretion. You may publish it in the 
newspapers if you choose. I gave you two reasons 
for willing it to be considered confidential for the 
present, but of these the first appears to be de- 
prived of its force by your answer, and as to the 
second I know Mrs. Hawthorne would not betray 
my' confidence — I had no fear as to that — but 
the fact is it was very foolish for me to write on 
that subject at all at present, and I am very sorry 
that I did so, particularly as I have not been able 
to accept the permission given mo. Hid tli«> prob- 
ability is that I shall not do so. I may fed tli.it it 
is better not to make the inquiry at ill than to 
make it under such conditions and liabilities. And 
I cannot say that I feel at present any strong in- 



266 DELIA BACON. 

clination to pursue my inquiries on this subject any 
further, and as to the book, my feeling at this 
moment is that there would be very little use in 
publishing it at present. All the evidence of my 
sanity there is, you have, and you are not sur- 
prised at the imputations my brother casts on me, 
and certainly the world is not likely to make any 
more favorable judgment. If my own household 
and the world are against me, what else shall we 
call it? But it cannot be that I am alone, — a 
creature by myself in my mental constitution, — 
and if I am out of my way here, it is time that I 
was looking for my kindred and the place where 
my judgment of the true, and my feeling of the 
just, are not insanity. Some such place I believe 
in. 

If I were sure that my brother would send me 
any money I would send this back to you at once, 
for I feel that it is a baseness in me to take it, but 
I am very far from being sure of that, and unfor- 
tunately I had encroached on this before it came 
while hoping to receive some from another source. 
As to my expectation from my brother, it was 
only an inference of mine from the fact that he 
knew exactly my circumstances, and that he spoke 
of writing again in a few days in a connection which 
seemed to imply that he would hardly write for any 
other purpose. In case of any accident to myself, 
or in case I should not be able to return it very 
soon, I wish you to call on him for it, and for the 



DELIA BACON. 267 

rest of the money that I owe you, — and he knows 
exactly what it is, — and tell him from me that he 
is bound to pay it ; for in defending himself from a 
charge against which there was no defense, he has 
not scrupled to deprive me of the resources I had 
left in the affection and confidence of my family 
and my friends, and he has not even scrupled to 
impair the respect which under these hard condi- 
tions I had won from strangers. In referring to 
my delusions he speaks of persons " who humor me 
by affecting to believe that there may be something 
in them because they think there would be no use 
in opposing me " ! I supposed he referred to Mr. 
Emerson. I knew he had had some correspondence 
with him, and I suppose that Mr. Emerson really 
thinks now, that that it the course he has taken. 
But I could not understand why your so favorable 
opinion of the book should be so wholly overlooked 
— treated as if it had not been expressed — in all 
that he said on that subject. 

But I should be sorry to involve you in any 
further correspondence on so painful a subject. It 
was necessary for me to write this. I sincerely 
hope that you will not think it necessary to reply 
to it. As to the book, I do not trouble myself 
much about that now. I have cast it on the waters, 
and if I do not find it again, the world will. 

Truly yours, 

Delia Bacon. 



268 DELIA BACON. 

You must not answer this. It is a small matter 
to you. You have nothing at stake. Any one 
would say that you were perhaps called upon to 
say exactly what you did, but this 1 had to write 
and my life depends now on my not reading any 
more letters. 

That is literally true I believe, and I cannot 
squander at this fearful rate that which is so pre- 
cious. I have done with this. I will have no more 
letters I say from brothers or strangers, friends or 
foes. My experience for the last few days shows 
that I am not equal to it, so I am obliged to take 
this resolution. 

October 23, '56. 

P. S. This is what I wrote yesterday. But I 
cannot let it go as it is. It does no justice at all to 
the feeling with which I have received your letter, 
or to the position in which I am placed by it. And 
I cannot return you this money immediately, as of 
course you thought I would, when you wrote that. 
Whatever other ill you thought of me you did not 
think I could keep it, — you did not think me 
capable of that ! — and yet you knew I must. 
For that letter which it nearly cost me my life to 
write, put you in possession of the case entirely. 
But I see how it is. You have heard some bad 
news about my book. You have ascertained that 
it has no pecuniary value, and the other part of 
my work of which I wrote is in that case not avail- 



DELIA BACON. 269 

able, and you think that I have nothing else to 
depend on, and that what I said about promptly 
helping myself as soon as this one more requisi- 
tion was fulfilled, meant nothing, or that it was 
only some vague, impracticable purpose that I \\ w 
weakly relying on. But that you should have 
thought it necessary to write in that manner to me 
at just this time, as if I were a person of such 
hardened sensibilities that something less, or some- 
thing different, would not have sufficed — that is 
what I do not understand. I will show you how 
much of the feeling I have left that you thought 
me wanting in, — that you must have thought me 
wanting in, or you could not have written that to 
me at the moment in which I was asking you for 
money, and taking it from you. I will tell you 
exact!}' how much of that feeling I have left. You 
cannot help me any more after writing that to me. 
If you had the keys of heaven you could not. Ay, 
but I keep this money, — so I do. — You do not 
understand that, — but you shall. If I do not pay 
you in one month, — and the chance that I shall is 
small, but I ask that time — write to my brother 
for it. He shall know what 'tis to have a sister 
with such a name as I have. I will not take my 
book out of your hands because I do not know but 
it may have some pecuniary value after all, and if 
it has it is properly yours at least until you have 
been paid for what I owe you. But what I desire 
is that you should have no more trouble with it. 



270 DELIA BACON. 

I will not have a novel made out of it as my 
brother proposes that I should. I will not have 
my monomania converted into never so profitable 
a speculation, and this life and death earnest of 
mine is not going to be published either for the 
amusement or contempt of the world. Seal it up 
and wait till it is true. 

Truly yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, October 24, '56. 

My dear Miss Bacon, — I do not know what 
reply to make to your last note. Indeed, when 
people misunderstand me, I seldom take the 
trouble (and never should, on my own account) to 
attempt to set them right. I meant, when I be- 
gan this scrawl, to say something in my own de- 
fence ; but I find it makes me sick to think of it 
— so we will let it pass. By telling me what was 
the state of affairs between yourself and your 
brother, you made it my duty to give you the best 
advice I could ; and, on further reflection, I find 
my opinion precisely the same as it was at first. 
And, seeing with his eyes, I cannot wonder at his 
acting as he has. 

My opinion of the book has never varied ; nor 
have I, up to this moment, spared any effort to 
bring it before the public, nor relinquished any 
hope of doing so. 



DELIA BACON. 271 

I suppose it would be in vain to tell you that I 
have never thought, for an instant, of any miser- 
able little interest that I might have, in the suc- 
cess of the book, or in your being on sisterly terms 
with your brother. But really I don't think you 
construe me very generously. 

However, you will find me always just the same 
as I have been ; and if ever I seem otherwise, the 
fault is in the eyes that look at me. Nor do I 
pretend to be very good ; there are hundreds of 
kinder and better people in the world ; but such 
as I am, I am genuine, and in keeping with my- 
self. And, in honest truth, my dear Miss Bacon, 
I wish to do you what good I can. 

Hoping that, one day or other, you will be able 
to believe this, I say no more. 

Sincerely yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

P. S. Can you possibly have thought that I 
suggested your brother's advice to turn the book 
into a novel ? I am afraid you did. 

[D. B. to Hawthorke.] 

St^atford-on- Avon, October 29, 1856. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — You did not under- 
stand my last letter and I will not undertake to 
explain it. I supposed that you felt compelled to 
write as you did. I attributed it to your sense of 
duty and your view of the proprieties of the case. 



272 DELIA BACON. 

I did not call in question a disinterestedness and 
generosity of character to which I have not found 
any parallel. I kept your note 24 hours without 
opening it, because I was literally unable to open 
it, and I have not answered it, because the expla- 
nation which it seemed to require did not appear 
to me possible. I have written one or two notes 
denying that I had made any such charge as the 
ones you attributed to me, but the very denial 
seemed insulting to you when I saw it on paper, 
and I would not send them. 

I had just prepared an answer however of half 
a dozen lines or so, that you might not miscon- 
strue my silence, when I received this morning a 
note from Mr. Bennoch informing me that your 
efforts and his on behalf of my work had been 
successful, so I have concluded to send you this 
that my acknowledgment of what I owe you may 
accompany what I had said already. My last let- 
ter but one, contained allusions to subjects which 
I am not in the habit of speaking of, confidentially 
or otherwise, and I shall be glad to know that you 
have destroyed it. 

The fact that these particular publishers under- 
take the publication of my work happens fortu- 
nately to indicate exactly what it owes you. When 
the subject was first presented to Carlyle three 
years and a half ago he selected Mr. Parker as the 
proper person to represent the English public on 
that question, and proposed to take my article to 



DELIA BACON. 273 

him, giving me to understand that we were to 
abide by his decision, which was to determine 
whether the thing could go on here or not. You 
know what the fate of the article was, and this 
very book which he accepts now at your hands 
and the hands of your friend he refused at mine 
more than a year ago. 

His acceptance of the book is in itself a success 
which you can hardly estimate though I owe it to 
you, because it relieves me on the instant from 
the charge to which my belief on this subject has 
it seems made me liable. At least that question 
will now be before the world, and I shall not be 
any longer at the mercy of men whose mercies, 
when their own opinions and beliefs are called in 
question, are so small. But for the sake of all my 
friends, — for my brother's sake and for your sake, 
I am glad of this. 

And I hope you will not have any occasion to 
be sorry for your part in it If any good comes 
of it, you will know just how much of it is the 
result of your persevering and most noble efforts 
on its behalf. For it would have been a private 
manuscript only and never a book but for you. 
No one would have dared so much as to read it, no 
one had dared to read it till it found you. I had 
exhausted all my means of getting it published, I 
had tried everything but you. And the reason I 
had not applied to you sooner was, I did not think 
it would be possible for you with your official 



274 DELIA BACON. 

duties combined with your own engagements as an 
author to give the attention to the work which it 
would be necessary to give in order to help it at 
all. I had tried authors who were not consuls, 
and who were most kindly disposed to me, and 
who wished to help me, but could not for lack of 
time. For your sake I hope it will succeed, and 
that you will not suffer my unfortunate personal 
relations to you just at this time to detract from 
the satisfaction that you might otherwise feel in 
achieving anything so difficult. That Mr. Parker 
should publish it after all is indeed a proof of what 
you were able to do for me. 

Gratefully yours, 

Delia Bacon. 

It was on the day of this last date that Mr. Ben- 
noch began his correspondence with her, which 
was to be for six months so frequent. It can 
easily be gathered from these letters that it was 
upon some personal guaranty by Hawthorne him- 
self that the very considerable expense of print- 
ing the book was incurred by Parker — whose 
name, however, was after all not to appear on its 
title-page. 

At the same time with this new life that came 
to her, she was making one more attempt to ex- 
plore the secret of the tomb. Another — and the 
last — note from the vicar, on the 31st of October, 
tells her : " I shall be happy to accompany you to 



DELIA BACON. 275 

the Church at any time convenient to yourself, as 
a preliminary step, and will then arrange a time 
for further operations when we shall be undis- 
turbed." Whether he was meaning thus to humor 
the vagaries of an unsound mind — of which the 
unsoundness certainly had not declared itself to all 
people — or had really changed his mind, and was 
willing to take part in examining almost the only 
famous grave in England which has never been 
disturbed, is not easy now to tell. But the explo- 
ration has, in fact, never yet been made. 

Not long after this, too, comes in upon her 
another kindly breath from the world which she 
has shut out from herself. In July before, Car- 
lyle had written to Emerson : " I have not seen or 
distinctly heard of Miss Bacon for a year and a 
half past: I often ask myself, what has become of 
that poor Lady, and wish I knew of her being safe 
among her friends again. I have even lost the ad- 
dress (which at any rate was probably not a lasting 
one) ; perhaps I could find it by the eye, — but 
it is five miles away; and my non plus ultra 
for years past is not above half that distance. 
Heigho!" * But now, when at last she felt that 
she was above the need of friends, her pride no 
longer disdained to speak to them. 

1 Correspondence of Carlyle and Emerson, vol. ii. p. 255. 



276 DELIA BACON. 

[Cablyle to D. B.] 

Chelsea, 14 December, 1856. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I am greatly pleased to 
hear of you again : my thoughts about you have 
been many, and my inquiries many in America 
and here ; but nothing would come out of them. 
Not very long since, — having a House in these 
days, and your old lodging having thus become 
accessible to me again, I pulled at the bell of the 
old House-door (House and Street recognizable to 
me by eyesight, title of them entirely forgotten), 
pulled there for several minutes, again and again : 
but nobody would answer; — I considered withal 
that probably nobody might in the least know. 

But now we again hear from yourself ; that you 
are still well ; nay more, that you have achieved 
a manifest success in what has long been the grand 
Problem of your life. Well done ! This must be 
a greater joy to you than health itself, or any 
other blessing ; and I must say that by your stead- 
fastness you have deserved it ! — You could not 
have a better Publisher than Parker ; I am really 
thankful, along with you, that your word is at last 
to go forth. 

My incredulity of your Thesis I have never 
hidden from you : but I willingly vote, and have 
voted, you should be heard on it to full length ; 
and this, whatever farther come of it, will be a 
profit to the world, and to yourself — I need not 
say what profit it will be ! 



DELIA BACON. 277 

When you return to London let us, so soon as 
possible, see you again. We are in our old way, 
except that my Wife is rather poorlier than in 
common Winters (which are always unkind to 
her), and that I myself am sunk deeper than ever 
towards the very centre of Chaos, — in fact over- 
whelmed with such a mud-ocean of confusions and 
inexecutable businesses, late and early, as are like 
to drown me altogether, I sometimes think. But 
they won't either ! Yours always, 

T. Carlyle. 

During almost four months, from October to 
February, while Hawthorne was left wholly un- 
disturbed by his importunate correspondent, ag- 
grieved as she was by his very kindness and 
unselfishness, there raged nevertheless an almost 
daily storm of letters between her and Mr. Ben- 
noch and the printer. In all Mr. Bennoch's letters 
there is manifest a lively appreciation of the 
woman with whose singular work he had been put 
in charge, and even of the work itself ; and with it 
all, such keen good sense and judicious tact in deal- 
ing with her strong and obstinate temper, as more 
than justified Hawthorne's choice of his friend for 
so delicate a service. It is evident that the title of 
the book was a subject of continual discussion ; on 
the backs of the letters she received are countless 
experiments, in her own hand, toward the selection 
of a title j and that ultimately adopted, although 



278 DELIA BACON. 

with Mr. Bennoch's frank approval, was the result 
of mutual concessions on either side. 

There arose, however, a trouble of a serious 
kind. It was only upon the condition that the 
book should have an Introduction by Hawthorne 
that Parker had at all consented to publish it ; and 
such an introduction the author seems to have 
determined, at last, not to have. This determi- 
nation, the cause of which is easy to find in the 
offended pride which is discovered in her latest 
letters to him, Mr. Bennoch seems in some way to 
have succeeded in overcoming ; although when at 
last it came, she would receive it only upon altera- 
tions rigorously insisted upon by her and amiably 
yielded by him. But she was not thus prevailed 
upon until her refusal of the Preface had brought 
Parker, after the printers' work had been almost 
completed upon Mr. Bennoch's personal guaranty 
of payment, to refuse on his part to publish it. 
The best that, upon this grievous failure of plan, 
could still be done was done by Mr. Bennoch. He 
made new arrangements for the almost completed 
work with a house far less known than Parker's 
although entirely respectable : the house of Groom- 
bridge and Sons, under whose name the book was 
not many days after given to the world. 

Meanwhile the author had been so far prevailed 
upon as to address to Hawthorne this cold and 
distant note : — 



DELIA BACON. 279 

[D. B. to Hawthorne.] 

Stbatfoud-on-Avon, February 10, 1857. 

Dear Mr. Hawthorne, — My part in this work 
is I believe nearly done. I am finishing in great 
haste a few more pages for the Introduction, which 
I expect to send to-morrow. The printer writes 
me to-day that he is now waiting for your preface 
and wishes me to write to you for it. Of course I 
understood that you preferred that the correspond- 
ence should be conducted through Mr. Bennoch, 
to whose kind interest in the subject I owe so 
much, but I have never forgotten on that account 
what you have done and are doing for the work. 

I do not look on it as a private enterprise. I 
had contributed what I could to it, and I did not 
call for help till my own power failed. You have 
caused it to be published, and I hope you will con- 
tinue to give it whatever aid it may seem to you 
to deserve and require. I consider that you have 
a part in the work which is properly yours. As to 
my own personal obligations to you, I will not now 
speak of them. I have good hopes of an acquittal 
that will pay all debts soon, and that you and no 
one else will have occasion to regret the aid you 
have given me. 

Truly yours, 

D. Bacon. 



280 DELIA BACON. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, February 11, 1857. 

Dear Miss Bacon, — I wrote the Preface yes- 
terday, and am now about forwarding it to Ben- 
noch. It has been delayed by the difficulty of 
getting a minute's clear space from daily interrup- 
tions ; and, indeed, ever since I have had your book 
in hand, my mind has been continually torn in tat- 
ters ; so that I have had no right to deal with a 
work demanding, at least, all the mind with which 
nature gifted me. 

My preface comprises extracts from the article 
which you sent Bennoch, and which he and I 
thought it better not to publish. I have said all 
the external things that seemed to me necessary, 
in order to put you fairly before the public, and 
have stated what I think as to the merit of the 
work. It is possible that you may say, in your 
new Introduction, some things which I have 
already said for you ; but this is no great matter. 

Do not consider yourself under any personal 
obligations to me. I appreciate the spirit in 
which you sought my assistance, and did not pre- 
sume to burthen you, even in my secret thoughts, 
with the imposition of personal favors. 
Truly yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

What still harsher and unkinder rebuff may 
have followed this grave and gentle letter does not 



DELIA BACON. 281 

now appear; Hawthorne seems not to have pre- 
served it, perhaps out of consideration for the 
writer. But it may be guessed from this which 
he wrote in reply. 

[Hawthorne to D. B.] 

Liverpool, February 19, '57. 

Dear Author of this Book, — (For you forbid 
me to call you anything else), I ittterly despair of 
being able to satisfy you with a preface. The 
extracts which I made from your Introduction were 
such as seemed essential to me, and likely to be of 
good effect with the Public. It seems to me they 
had better remain. 

In one of your early letters to me, you said that 
I might call the book a Romance, or whatever I 
would. I have not called it anything of the kind, 
but have merely refrained from expressing a full 
conviction of the truth of your theory. But the 
book will be in the hands of the public. Let the 
public judge; as it must Nothing that I could 
say, beforehand, could influence its judgment; and 
I do not agree with your opinion that I have said 
anything likely to prevent your cause being heard. 

Nevertheless, I am most willing to burn the 
Preface at once. I desire quite as little as you do 
to be known in reference to this work ; and I have 
a right not to be known. 1 Pray do not think of 

1 Written in the margin, with reference by an asterisk: "I mean, 
I have no riyht to be known." 



282 DELIA BACON. 

dedicating it to me. You owe me no such ac- 
knowledgment ; and, under the circumstances, it 
would not gratify me in the least. 

No better method of solving the difficulty occurs 
to me, than to submit the Preface to Mr. Parker. 
If he thinks it will do harm, let him say so, as he 
will do readily enough, being materially interested 
on that point. 

I have no time to write more, but must leave the 
matter with yourself and Parker and Bennoch, and 
any other adviser (for instance, Mr. Carlyle) whom 
you choose to call in. 

Truly yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

Just at this time her brother in America, failing, 
as she had assured Hawthorne he should fail, to 
get further news from her, was writing for news 
to Hawthorne. How sincere and truthful Haw- 
thorne had been, both in his laudations of her 
work and his admonitions concerning its prospects, 
may be seen in what he says to her brother, for 
no one's eyes but his. 

U. S. Consulate, 
Liverpool, Feb. 26, '57. 

My dear Sir, — Your sister is still at Stratf ord- 
on-Avon, and was in her usual state of health 
when I last heard from her, about a week ago. I 
have forwarded your letter. 



DELIA BACON. 283 

Her book is now in print, and will probably be 
published in this country and in America, within a 
few weeks. It will undoubtedly do her credit, in- 
tellectually, and may perhaps make many converts 
to her theory ; but I do not anticipate a very gen- 
eral success, in this latter respect. Her own anti- 
cipations, I believe, are very sanguine. It will, I 
think, be better received in America than here ; 
and this may perhaps operate as an inducement to 
her to return home. At all events, she will soon 
know what her position really is, and will doubt- 
less regulate her proceedings in accordance with it 
Very respectfully yours, 

Nath' Hawthorne. 

Rev. Dr. Bacon, 
New Haven, 

Conn. 



XVII. 

About the beginning of April, 1857, the book 
came before the world. 

Its title, so long and so laboriously disputed, 
was this : 

"The Philosophy of The Plays of Shakspere 
Unfolded. By Delia Bacon. With a Preface by 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Author of ' The Scarlet 
Letter/ etc." 

Upon the copies sent to the American market 
the name of Ticknor & Fields, Boston, replaced 
that of the London publishers. 

It was in form an octavo, of about seven hun- 
dred pages, including a hundred pages, separately 
numbered, of the author's " Introduction." This 
" Introduction," after a statement, not too compact 
or clear, of " The Proposition," contained a review 
of "The Age of Elizabeth, and the Elizabethan 
Men of Letters ; " extracts from an altogether 
separate, and unpublished, Life of Raleigh ; " Ra- 
leigh's School," and " The New Academy." 

The Historical Argument, begun so brilliantly 
in her Putnam article, was expressly omitted here, 
and its omission announced. 

Book I., on " The Elizabethan Art of Delivery 



DELTA BACON. 285 

and Tradition," is in two Parts : " Michael de Mon- 
taigne's ■ Private and Retired Arte,' " and " The 
Baconian Rhetoric, or The Method of Progres- 
sion." 

Book II., on " Elizabethan ' Secrets of Morality 
and Policy'; or, The Fables of the New Learn- 
ing," was also in two Parts : " Lear's Philosopher," 
and (Part II.) " Julius Ccesar and Coriolanus : The 
Scientific Cure of the Common-Weal." 

To all was prefixed this Preface, which Haw- 
thorne, under so many discouragements, had writ- 
ten for it 

PREFACE. 

This Volume contains the argument, drawn from 
the Plays usually attributed to Shakspere, in sup- 
port of a theory which the author of it has de- 
monstrated by historical evidences in another work. 
Having never read this historical demonstration 
(which remains still in manuscript, with the excep- 
tion of a preliminary chapter, published long ago 
in an American periodical), I deem it necessary to 
cite the author's own account of it : — 

"The Historical Part of this work (which wan 
originally the principal part, and designed to fur- 
nish the historical key to the great Elizabethan 
writings), though now for a long time completed 
and ready for the press, ami though repeated ref- 
erence is made to it in this volume, is, for the most 
part, omitted here. It contains a true and before 



286 DELIA BACON. 

unwritten history, and it will yet, perhaps, be pub- 
lished as it stands ; but the vivid and accumulating 
historic detail, with which more recent research 
tends to enrich the earlier statement, and disclos- 
ures which no invention could anticipate, are wait- 
ing now to be subjoined to it. 

"The internal evidence of the assumptions 
made at the outset is that which is chiefly relied 
on in the work now first presented on this subject 
to the public. The demonstration will be found 
complete on that ground ; and on that ground 
alone the author is willing, and deliberately pre- 
fers, for the present, to rest it. 

" External evidence, of course, will not be want- 
ing ; there will be enough and to spare, if the 
demonstration here be correct. But the author of 
the discovery was not willing to rob the world of 
this great question ; but wished rather to share 
with it the benefit which the true solution of the 
Problem offers — the solution prescribed by those 
who propounded it to the future. It seemed 
better to save to the world the power and beauty 
of this demonstration, its intellectual stimulus, its 
demand on the judgment. It seemed better, that 
the world should acquire it also in the form of 
criticism, instead of being stupefied and overpow- 
ered with the mere force of an irresistible, exter- 
nal, historical proof. Persons incapable of appre- 
ciating any other kind of truth, — those who are 
capable of nothing that does not * directly fall 



DELIA BACON. 287 

under and strike the senses,' as Lord Bacon ex- 
presses it, — will have their time alaoj but it was 
proposed to present the subject first to iiiiuds of 
another order." 

In the present volume, accordingly, the author 
applies herself to the demonstration and develop- 
ment of a system of philosophy, which has pre- 
sented itself to her as underlying the superficial 
and ostensible text of Shakspere's plays. Traces 
of the same philosophy, too, she conceives herself 
to have found in the acknowledged works of Lord 
Bacon, and in those of other writers contempt >: 
with him. All agree in one system; all these 
traces indicate a common understanding and unity 
of purpose in men among whom no brotherhood 
has hitherto been suspected, except as representa- 
tives of a grand and brilliant age, when the human 
intellect made a marked step in advance. 

The author did not (as her own consciousness 
assures her) either construct or originally seek this 
new philosophy. In many 1 1 I have 

rightly understood her. it was at variance with her 
preconceived opinions, whether ethical, religious, 
or political. She had been for years a student of 
Shakspere, looking for nothing in his plays beyond 
what the world has agreed to find in them, when 
she began to see, under the surface, the gleam of 
this hidden treasure. It was carefully hidden, in- 
deed, yet not less carefully indicated, as with a 
pointed finger, by such marks and references as 



288 DELIA BACON. 

could not ultimately escape the notice of a subse- 
quent age, which should be capable of profiting 
by the rich inheritance. So, too, in regard to Lord 
Bacon. The author of this volume had not sought 
to put any but the ordinary and obvious interpre- 
tation upon his works, nor to take any other view 
of his character than what accorded with the 
unanimous judgment upon it of all the generations 
since his epoch. But, as she penetrated more and 
more deeply into the plays, and became aware of 
those inner readings, she found herself compelled 
to turn back to the " Advancement of Learning " 
for information as to their plan and purport ; and 
Lord Bacon's Treatise failed not to give her what 
she sought ; thus adding to the immortal dramas, 
in her idea, a far higher value than their warmest 
admirers had heretofore claimed for them. They 
filled out the scientific scheme which Bacon had 
planned, and which needed only these profound 
and vivid illustrations of human life and character 
to make it perfect. Finally, the author's re- 
searches led her to a point where she found the 
plays claimed for Lord Bacon and his associates, — 
not in a way that was meant to be intelligible in 
their own perilous times, — but in characters that 
only became legible, and illuminated, as it were, 
in the light of a subsequent period. 

The reader will soon perceive that the new phi- 
losophy, as here demonstrated, was of a kind that 
no professor could have ventured openly to teach 



DELIA BACON. S89 

in the days of Elizabeth and James. The conclud- 
ing chapter of the present work makes a powerful 
statement of the position which a man, conscious of 
great and noble aims, would then have occupied ; 
and shows, too, how familiar the age was with all 
methods of secret communication, and of hiding 
thought beneath a masque of conceit or folly. Ap- 
plicably to this subject I quote a paragraph from a 
manuscript of the author's, not intended for pres- . 
ent publication : — 

" It was a time when authors, who treated of a 
scientific politics and of a scientific ethics inter- 
nally connected with it, naturally preferred this 
more philosophic, symbolic method of indicating 
their connection with their writings, which would 
limit the indication to those who could pierce 
within the veil of a philosophic symbolism. It was 
the time when the cipher, in which one could 
write ' omnia per omnia, 1 was in such r and 

when ' wheel ciphers ' and ' doubles ' were thought 
not unworthy of philosophic notice. It was a 
time, too, when the phonographic art was culti- 
vated, and put to other uses than at present, and 
when a nom de plume was required for other pur- 
poses than to serve as the refuge of an author's 
modesty, or vanity, or caprice. It was a time 
when puns, and charades, and enigmas, and ana- 
grams, and monograms, and ciphers, and puzzles, 
were not good for sport and child's play men 
when they had need to be close; when they had 



290 DELIA BACON. 

need to be solvable, at least, only to those who 
should solve them. It was a time when all the 
latent capacities of the English language were put 
in requisition, and it was flashing and crackling, 
through all its lengths and breadths, with puns and 
quips, and conceits, and jokes, and satires, and in- 
lined with philosophic secrets that opened down 
* into the bottom of a tomb ' — that opened into 
the Tower — that opened on the scaffold and the 
block." 

I quote, likewise, another passage, because I 
think the reader will see in it the noble earnest- 
ness of the author's character, and may partly 
imagine the sacrifices which this research has cost 
her: — 

" The great secret of the Elizabethan age did not 
lie where any superficial research could ever have 
discovered it. It was not left within the range of 
any accidental disclosure. It did not lie on the 
surface of any Elizabethan document. The most 
diligent explorers of these documents, in two cen- 
turies and a quarter, had not found it. No faint- 
est suspicion of it had ever crossed the mind of 
the most recent, and clear-sighted, and able inves- 
tigator of the Baconian remains. It was buried 
in the lowest depths of the lowest deeps of the 
deep Elizabethan Art : that Art which no plum- 
met, till now, has ever sounded. It was locked 
with its utmost reach of traditionary cunning. It 
was buried in the inmost recesses of the esoteric 



DELIA BACON. 291 

Elizabethan learning. It was tied with a knot 
that has passed the scrutiny and baffled the sword 
of an old, suspicious, dying, military government 
— a knot that none could cut — a knot that must 
be untied. 

" The great secret of the Elizabethan age was 
inextricably reserved by the founders of a new 
learning, the prophetic and more nobly gifted 
minds of a new and nobler race of men, for a re- 
search that should test the mind of the discoverer, 
and frame and subordinate it to that so sleepless 
and indomitable purpose of the prophetic aspira- 
tion. It was * the device ' by which they under- 
took to live again in the ages in which I 
achievements and triumphs were forecast, and to 
come forth and rule again, not in one mind, not in 
the few, not in the many, but in all. ■ For there 
is no throne like that throne in the thoughts of 
men,' which the ambition of these men climbed 
and compassed. 

" The principal works of the Elizabethan Phi- 
losophy, those in which the new method of learn- 
ing was practically applied to the noblest subjects, 
were presented to the world in the form of All 
enigma. It was a form well fitted to divert in- 
quiry, and baffle even the research of the scholar 
for a time; but one calculated to provoke the phil- 
osophic curiosity, and one which would inevitably 
command a research that could end only with the 
true solution. That solution was reserved for one 



292 DELIA BACON. 

who would recognize, at last, in the disguise of 
the great impersonal teacher, the disguise of a 
new learning. It waited for the reader who would 
observe, at last, those thick-strewn scientific clues, 
those thick - crowding enigmas, those perpetual 
beckonings from the ' theatre ' into the judicial 
palace of the mind. It was reserved for the stu- 
dent who would recognize, at last, the mind that 
was seeking so perseveringly to whisper its tale of 
outrage, and ' the secrets it was forbid.' It waited 
for one who would answer, at last, that philosophic 
challenge, and say, * Go on, I'll follow thee ! ' It 
was reserved for one who would count years as 
days, for the love of the truth it hid ; who would 
never turn back on the long road of initiation, 
though all ' the idols ' must be left behind in its 
stages ; who would never stop until it stopped in 
that new cave of Apollo, where the handwriting 
on the wall spells anew the old Delphic motto, 
and publishes the word that i unties the spell.' ' 

On this object, which she conceives so loftily, 
the author has bestowed the solitary and self-sus- 
tained toil of many years. The volume now be- 
fore the reader, together with the historical dem- 
onstration which it presupposes, is the product 
of a most faithful and conscientious labor, and a 
truly heroic devotion of intellect and heart No 
man or woman has ever thought or written more 
sincerely than the author of this book. She has 
given nothing less than her life to the work. 



DELIA BACON. Mg 

And, as if for the greater trial of her constancy, 
her theory was divulged, some time ago, in so par- 
tial and unsatisfactory a manner — with so exceed- 
ingly imperfect a statement of its claims — as to 
put her at a great disadvantage before the world. 
A single article from her pen, purporting to be the 
first of a series, appeared in an A :i Maga- 

zine ; but unexpected obstacles prevented the fur- 
ther publication in that form, after enough had 
been done to assail the prejudices of the public, 
but far too little to gain its sympathy. Another 
evil followed. An English writer (in a " Letter to 
the Earl of Ellesmere," published within a few 
months past) has thought it not inconsistent with 
the fair-play, on which his country prides itsel 
take to himself this lady's theory, and favor the 
public with it as his own original conception, with- 
out allusion to the author's prior claim. In refer- 
ence to this pamphlet, she generously says : — 

"This has not been a selfish enterprise. It is 
not a personal concern. It is a discovery which 
belongs not to an individual, and not to a people. 
Its fields are wide enough and rich enough for us 
all ; and he that has no work, and whoso will, let 
him come and labor in them. The field is the 
world's; and the world's work henceforth is in it. 
So that it be known in its real comprehension, in 
its true relations to the weal of the world, what 
matters it? So that the troth, which is dearer 
than all the rest — which abides with us when all 



294 DELIA BACON. 

others leave us, dearest then — so that the truth, 
which is neither yours nor mine, but yours and 
mine, be known, loved, honored, emancipated, 
mitred, crowned, adored — who loses anything, 
that does not find it." * And what matters it," 
says the philosophic wisdom, speaking in the ab- 
stract, " what name it is proclaimed in, and what 
letters of the alphabet we know it by ? — w r hat 
matter is it, so that they spell the name that is 
good for all, and good for each," — for that is the 
real name here ? 

Speaking on the author's behalf, however, I am 
not entitled to imitate her magnanimity ; and, 
therefore, hope that the writer of the pamphlet 
will disclaim any purpose of assuming to himself, 
on the ground of a slight and superficial perform- 
ance, the result which she has attained at the cost 
of many toils and sacrifices. 

And now, at length, after many delays and dis- 
couragements, the work comes forth. It had been 
the author's original purpose to publish it in Amer- 
ica ; for she wished her own country to have the 
glory of solving the enigma of those mighty dra- 
mas, and thus adding a new and higher value to 
the loftiest productions of the English mind. It 
seemed to her most fit and desirable that America 
— having received so much from England, and re- 
turned so little — should do what remained to be 
done towards rendering this great legacy available, 
as its authors meant it to be, to all future time. 



DELIA BA( 296 

This purpose was frustrated ; and it will be teen 
in what spirit she acquiesc 

" The author was forced to bring it back, and con- 
tribute it to the literature of the country from which 
it was derived, and to which it essentially and insep- 
arably belongs. It was written, every word of it, on 
English ground, in the midst of the old familiar 
scenes and household names, that even in our nur- 
sery songs revive the dear ancestral memories ; those 
6 royal pursuivants' with which our mother-land 
still follows and re-takes her own. It was written 
in the land of our old kings and queens, and in the 
land of our own philosophers and poets also. It 
was written on the spot where the works it un- 
locks were written, and in the perpetual presence 
of the English mind; the mind that spoke before 
in the cultured few, and that speaks to-day in the 
cultured many. And it is now at last, after so 
long a time — after all, a- it should be — tin* I 
lish press that prints it It i< the scientific ! 
lish press, with those old gags (wherewith our 
kings and queens sought, to stop it. ere they knew 
what it was) champed asunder, ground to pow 
and with its last Elizabethan shaekle shaker 
that restores, 4 in a better hour,' the torn and gar- 
bled science committed to it, and gives back ' the 
bread cast on its sure water- ' 

There remains little more for me to say. I am 
not the editor of this work; nor can I consider 
myself fairly entitled to the honor (which, if I 
deserved it, I should feel it to be a very high as 



DELIA BACON. 
».% $t • ft, 

\ve# a$ a perilous one) of seeing my name asso- 



jj 



cia-tetf with the author's on the title page. My 
object has been merely to speak a few words, 
which might, perhaps, serve the purpose of plac- 
ing my countrywoman upon a ground of amicable 
understanding with the public. She has a vast 
preliminary difficulty to encounter. The first feel- 
ing of every reader must be one of absolute re- 
pugnance towards a person who seeks to tear out 
of the Anglo-Saxon heart the name which for ages 
it has held dearest, and to substitute another name, 
or names, to which the settled belief of the world 
has long assigned a very different position. What 
I claim for this work is, that the ability employed 
in its composition has been worthy of its great 
subject, and well employed for our intellectual in- 
terests, whatever judgment the public may pass 
upon the question discussed. And, after listening 
to the author's interpretation of the Plays, and 
seeing how wide a scope she assigns to them, how 
high a purpose, and what richness of inner mean- 
ing, the thoughtful reader will hardly return again 
— not wholly, at all events — to the common view 
of them and of their author. It is for the public 
to say whether my countrywoman has proved her 
theory. In the worst event, if she has failed, her 
failure will be more honorable than most people's 
triumphs ; since it must fling upon the old tomb- 
stone, at Stratford-on-Avon, the noblest tributary 
wreath that has ever lain there. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne. 






XVIII. 



The reception which this volume was to meet 
from the English public and English critics had 
been, indeed, pretty well Apprehended in advance 
by some of those few who were admitted to its 
author's confidence, and were suffered to advise 
her. Perhaps, nevertheless, they were right, these 
men of philosophic insight and wide experience in 
letters — Carlyle, Emerson, Hawthorne — in de- 
claring that, whatever might come of it, it was a 
work so full of truth and wisdom that the world 
ought by no means to be deprived of it. At tin 
rate, here at last it was; and what did in fact 
come of it Hawthorne himself has told. 

"Without prejudice to her literary ability, it 
must be allowed that Miss Bacon was wholly unlit 
to prepare her own work for publication, because, 
among many other reason-, -lie was too thoroughly 
in earnest to know what to leave out. Every leaf 
and line was sacred, for all had been written under 
so deep a conviction of truth as to assume, in 
eyes, the aspect of inspiration. A practised book- 
maker, with entire control of her materials, would 
have shaped out a duodecimo volume full of elo- 
quence and ingenious dissertation, — criticism* 



298 DELIA BACON. 

which quite take the color and pungency out of 
other people's critical remarks on Shakspeare, — 
philosophic truths which she imagined herself to 
have found at the roots of his conceptions, and 
which certainly come from no inconsiderable depth 
somewhere. There was a great amount of rub- 
bish, which any competent editor would have 
shoveled out of the way. But Miss Bacon thrust 
the whole bulk of inspiration and nonsense into 
the press in a lump, and there tumbled out a 
ponderous octavo volume, which fell with a dead 
thump at the feet of the public, and has never 
been picked up. A few persons turned over one 
or two of the leaves, as it lay there, and essayed to 
kick the volume deeper into the mud ; for they 
were the hack critics of the minor periodical press 
in London, than whom, I suppose, though doubt- 
less excellent fellows in their way, there are no 
gentlemen in the world less sensible of any sanc- 
tity in a book, or less likely to recognize an au- 
thor's heart in it, or more utterly careless about 
bruising, if they do recognize it. It is their trade. 
They could not do otherwise. I never thought of 
blaming them. It was not for such Englishmen as 
one of these to get beyond the idea that an assault 
was meditated on England's greatest poet. From 
the scholars and critics of her own country, indeed, 
Miss Bacon might have looked for a worthier ap- 
preciation, because many of the best of them have 
higher cultivation, and finer and deeper literary 



DELIA BACON. 299 

sensibilities, than all but the very profoundest and 
brightest of Englishmen. But they are not a cour- 
ageous body of men ; they dare not think ■ truth 
that has an odor of absurdity, lest they should led 
themselves bound to speak it out If any Ameri- 
can ever wrote a word in her behalf, lliei B 
never knew it, nor did I. Our journalists at onee 
republished some of the most brutal vituperations 
of the English press, thus pelting their poor coun- 
trywoman with stolen mud, without even waiting 
to know whether the ignominy was deserved. 
And they never have known it, to this day, and 
never will. . . . 

"I believe that it has been the fate of this 
remarkable book never to have had more than 
a single reader. I myself am acquainted with it 
only in insulated chapters and scattered pages and 
paragraphs. But, since my return to America, a 
young man of genius and enthusiasm 1 has assured 
me that he has positively read the book from 
beginning to end, and is completely a convert to its 
doctrines. It belongs to him, therefore, and not 
to me, — whom, in almost the last letter that I 
received from her, she declared unworthy to med- 

1 This " JTMag man " (it was in 1868 that Hawthorne wu writ- 
ing) was Mr. William D. O'Connor, now of the Life-Saving S. 
Wa>hington, ami author of Iftimht'* Nule-bool: Houghton, Mifflin 
& Co., 1886. The task which Hawthorne, in the passage quoted, 
seems to lay upon him, failing strength 1 him to abandon. 

Materials, however, furnished to him by- Hawthorne for suoh a pur- 
pose, he has kindly put at my disposal. — [T. B ] 



300 DELIA BACON. 

die with her work, — it belongs surely to this one 
individual, who has done her so much justice as to 
know what she wrote, to place Miss Bacon in her 
due position before the public and posterity." 1 

1 Our Old Home: chapter, " Recollections of a Gifted Woman." 



XIX. 

Wiien this work of hers, for which alone she 
had for years been willing to live, was done — and 
failed — her life was ended too. 

Before this time in all that she wrote or did there 
was nothing to mark a disordered intellect, unless 
her disbelief in the accepted authorship of the 
Plays was itself proof of insanity. Even her curi- 
ous haunting of the Stratford church and grave 
seems not to have been proof of derangement, to 
the minds of the vicar and the few other Stratford 
people whom she had come to know, or even to 
the marvelous instinct of Hawthorne himself. 
What he says of her in these last days, indeed, is 
at once so kind, so just, and so wise, that it ought 
to be reproduced for the mere value of its judg- 
ment of her, even though there appear in it her 
own phrases from her letters already printed above. 
Nor can one refrain from thinking how apt to the 
genius of the author of the " Scarlet Letter " must 
have been the scene which, out of her own descrip- 
tion, he presents here, of the night in the indent 
church, with the "Old Player's" grave beneath 
her feet, and his image, unseen, looking down 
upon her from the darkness. It seems as if only 



302 DELIA BACON. 

the tender reverence which he avows for the great 
and true soul which was on the verge of distrac- 
tion could have restrained him from making of it 
a chapter in a romance. 

" Months before that [the publication of the 
book] happened, however, Miss Bacon had taken 
up her residence at Stratford-on-Avon, drawn 
thither by the magnetism of those rich secrets 
which she supposed to have been hidden by 
Raleigh, or Bacon, or I know not whom, in Shak- 
speare's grave, and protected there by a curse, as 
pirates used to bury their gold in the guardianship 
of a fiend. She took a humble lodging and began 
to haunt the church like a ghost. But she did not 
condescend to any stratagem or underhand attempt 
to violate the grave, which, had she been capable 
of admitting such an idea, might possibly have been 
accomplished by the aid of a resurrection-man. 
As her first step, she made acquaintance with the 
clerk, and began to sound him as to the feasibility 
of her enterprise and his own willingness to engage 
in it. The clerk apparently listened with not un- 
favorable ears; but, as his situation (which the 
fees of pilgrims, more numerous than at any Cath- 
olic shrine, render lucrative) would have been for- 
feited by any malfeasance in office, he stipulated 
for liberty to consult the vicar. Miss Bacon re- 
quested to tell her own story to the reverend 
gentleman, and seems to have been received by 



DELIA BACON. 303 

him with the utmost kindness, and even to have 
succeeded in making a certain impression on his 
mind as to the desirability of the search. As their 
interview had been under the seal of secrecy, he 
asked permission to consult a friend, who, as Miss 
Bacon either found out or surmised, was a practi- 
tioner of the law. What the legal friend advised 
she did not learn ; but the negotiation continued, 
and certainly was never broken off by an abso- 
lute refusal on the vicar's part. lie, perhaps, was 
kindly temporizing with our poor countrywoman, 
whom an Englishman of ordinary mould would 
have sent to a lunatic asylum at once. I cannot 
help fancying, however, that her familiarity with 
the events of Shakspeare's life, and of his death 
and burial (of which she would speak as if >he had 
been present at the edge of the grave), and all the 
history, literature and personalities of the Eliza- 
bethan age, together with the prevailing power of 
her own belief, and the eloquence with which she 
knew how to enforce it. had really gone some little 
way toward making a convert of the good cl< 
man. If so, I honor him above all the hierarchy 
of England. 

"The affair certainly looked very hopeful. 
However erroneously, Miss Baoon had understood 
from the vicar that no obstacles would be inter- 
posed to the investigation, and that he himself 
would sanction it with his presence. It was to 
take place after nightfall; and all preliminary 



304 DELIA BACON. 

arrangements being made, the vicar and clerk pro- 
fessed to wait only her word in order to set about 
lifting the awful stone from the sepulchre. So, at 
least, Miss Bacon believed ; and as her bewilder- 
ment was entirely in her own thoughts, and never 
disturbed her perception or accurate remembrance 
of external things, I see no reason to doubt it, ex- 
cept it be the tinge of absurdity in the fact. But, in 
this apparently prosperous state of things, her own 
convictions began to falter. A doubt stole into 
her mind whether she might not have mistaken the 
depository and mode of concealment of those his- 
toric treasures ; and after once admitting the doubt, 
she was afraid to hazard the shock of uplifting the 
stone and finding nothing. She examined the sur- 
face of the gravestone, and endeavored, without 
stirring it, to estimate whether it were of such 
thickness as to be capable of containing the archives 
of the Elizabethan club. She went over anew the 
proofs, the clues, the enigmas, the pregnant sen- 
tences, which she had discovered in Bacon's letters 
and elsewhere, and now was frightened to per- 
ceive that they did not point so definitely to Shak- 
speare's tomb as she had heretofore supposed. 
There was an unmistakably distinct reference to 
a tomb, but it might be Bacon's, or Raleigh's, or 
Spenser's ; and instead of the ' Old Player,' as she 
profanely called him, it might be either of those 
three illustrious dead, poet, warrior, or statesman, 
whose ashes, in "Westminster Abbey, or the Tower 




DELIA BA< 305 

burial ground, or wherever they sleep, it was her 
mission to disturb. It is very possible, moreover, 
that her acute mind may alwa\s have had a lurk- 
ing and deeply latent distrust of its own fantasies, 
and that this now became strong enough to restrain 
her from a decisive step. 

" But she continued to hover around the church, 
and seems to have had full freedom of entrance in 
the day time, and special license on one occasion 
at least, at a late hour of the night She went 
thither with a dark-lantern, which could but 
twinkle like a glow-worm through the volume of 
obscurity that filled the great dusky edifice. Grop- 
ing her way up the aisle and towards the chancel, 
she sat down on the elevated part of the pavement 
above Shakspeare's grave. If the divine poet 
really wrote the inscription there, and cared as 
much about the quiet of his bones as its depreca- 
tory earnestness would imply, it was time for those 
crumbling relics to bestir themselves under her 
sacrilegious feet. But they were safe. She made 
no attempt to disturb them ; though, I believe, she 
looked narrowly into the crevices between Shak- 
speare's and the two adjacent stones, and in some 
way satisfied herself that her single strength would 
suffice to lift the former, in case of need. She 
threw the feeble ray of her lantern up towards the 
bust, but could not make it visible beneatli the 
darkness of the vaulted roof. Had she been sub- 
ject to superstitious terrors, it is impossible to con- 



306 DELIA BACON. 

ceive of a situation that could better entitle her to 
feel them, for, if Shakspeare's ghost would rise at 
any provocation, it must have shown itself then ; 
but it is my sincere belief, that, if his figure had 
appeared within the scope of her dark-lantern, in 
his slashed doublet and gown, and with his eyes 
bent on her beneath the high, bald forehead, just 
as we see him in the bust, she would have met 
him fearlessly and controverted his claims to the 
authorship of the plays to his very face. She 
had taught herself to contemn 'Lord Leicester's 
groom ' (it was one of her disdainful epithets for 
the world's incomparable poet) so thoroughly, that 
even his disembodied spirit would hardly have 
found civil treatment at Miss Bacon's hands. 

" Her vigil, though it appears to have had no 
definite object, continued far into the night. Sev- 
eral times she heard a low movement in the 
aisles : a stealthy, dubious footfall prowling about 
in the darkness, now here, now there, among the 
pillars and ancient tombs, as if some restless in- 
habitant of the latter had crept forth to peep at 
the intruder. By and by the clerk made his ap- 
pearance, and confessed that he had been watch- 
ing her ever since she entered the church. 

" About this time it was that a strange sort of 
weariness seems to have fallen upon her : her toil 
was all but done, her great purpose, as she be- 
lieved, on the very point of accomplishment, when 
she began to regret that so stupendous a mission 



DELIA BACON. 307 

had been imposed on the fragility of a woman. 
Her faith in the new philosophy was as mighty as 
ever, and so was her confidence in her own ade- 
quate development of it, now about to be given to 
the world ; yet she wished, or fancied so, that it 
might never have been her duty to achieve this 
unparalleled task, and to stagger feebly forward 
under her immense burden of responsibility and 
renown. So far as her personal concern in the 
matter went, she would gladly have forfeited the 
reward of her patient study and labor for so D 
years, her exile from her country and estrange- 
ment from her family and friends, her sacrifice of 
health and all other interests to this one pursuit, if 
she could only find herself free to dwell in Strat- 
ford and be forgotten. She liked the old slumbrous 
town, and awarded the only praise that 81 
knew her to bestow on Shakspeare, the individual 
man, by acknowledging that his taste in a residence 
was good, and that he knew how to choose a suit- 
able retirement for a person of shy hut genial tem- 
perament. And at this point, 1 cease to possess 
the means of tracing her vicissitude ling any 

further. In consequence of some advice which 1 
fancied it my duty to tender, as being the only 
confidant whom she now had in the world, 1 fell 
under Miss Bacon's most severe and passionate 
displeasure, and was cast o fl hv her in the twink- 
ling of an eye. It was a mi-fortune to which 
her friends were always particularly liable ; but 



308 DELIA BACON. 

I think that none of them ever loved, or even 
respected, her most ingenuous and noble, but like- 
wise most sensitive and tumultuous character, the 
less for it." l 

It was on the 12th of June that Mr. David Rice, 
surgeon and Mayor of Stratford, wrote in terms of 
great kindness and respect for his patient, to the 
American consul at Liverpool, asking for " advice 
or suggestions " in regard to an American lady 
whom he had seen that afternoon. His report was : 
" She is in a very excited and unsatisfactory state, 
especially mentally, and I think there is much 
reason to fear that she will become decidedly 
insane." Hawthorne instantly replied, thanking 
the surgeon " for your kind attention to my coun- 
trywoman " ; authorizing all suitable expenditure 
(for it was also reported that her means were ex- 
hausted) that might be necessary for her comfort, 
and twice over promising to be personally respon- 
sible for it. At the same time he transmitted to 
her brother in America the news he had received. 

There was for a few days much improvement in 
her condition, and u good reason to believe that 
the equilibrium both of her mental and bodily 
health will be happily restored, and at no very 
distant period." She was troubled to learn that 
both Hawthorne and her brother had been told of 
her illness, yet grateful to hear of the former's 

1 Hawthorne : Our Old Home. 



DELIA BACON. 309 

generous and instant response. To him she sent 
immediately a long letter, clear, vigorous, and 
coherent, yet displaying, for the first time, flilhui 
nations other than that, if it were one, concerning 
the authorship of the Plays. To her brother she 
wrote a shorter one, with no word of complaint, 
and with warm expressions of the old affection 
which she had thought was gone forever. " II v- 
ing fulfilled my work as I thought, I have been 
quietly waiting since the publication of my book, 
to be informed as to the next movement, — if 
movement was indeed the word. I have not 
cared to know the result Since the day I heard 
it was published I have made no inquiry on the 
subject. ... I am calm and happy. Never hap- 
pier, — never so happy. I do not want to come 
back to America. I can not come. I pay seven 
shillings a week for my rooms and it takes very 
little to keep me alive. I do not want any luxuries. 
But I think this is the place for me at present. 
" Your ever affectionate sister, 

Delia Bacon.'* 

Since the purpose of this sketch is simply to fur- 
nish, to those who care for it, accurate knowledge 
and the means of judging justly about her, it is 
right not to withhold some passages from the grate- 
ful answer which herhrother wrote to Hawtho 
on receiving his amimii nifiit oi b*f prostration. 

" The crisis at which a is case has arrived, 



310 DELIA BACON. 

requires me to say, plainly, that in my opinion 
her mind has been i verging on insanity ' for the 
last six years. She knows that since 1851 I have 
habitually distrusted the soundness of her judg- 
ment. She knows that I have all along regarded 
her darling theory as a mere hallucination. She 
therefore distrusts me. When she went to Eng- 
land she was very careful to conceal from me the 
object of her going and the resources on which she 
depended. Indeed, none of her family friends, as 
I understand, had the opportunity of helping her 
in that enterprise. Mr. Emerson, I believe, fitted 
her out with some credentials and valuable letters 
of introduction — partly, I doubt not, in that won- 
derful ' good-nature ' which is so prominent a fea- 
ture in his character — partly, I suspect, in the 
special sympathy which he has in whatever is un- 
belief. ' . . My fear has been, all along, that when- 
ever and wherever her book might be published, 
the disappointment of that long and confident ex- 
pectation would be disastrous if not fatal to her." 

For month after month, notwithstanding inter- 
mittent lifting of the cloud which had settled 
about her, it became more and more evident that 
the cloud was the darkness of night. There is let- 
ter after letter of Hawthorne, showing his unceas- 
ing care for the distracted woman whom he had 
already so much befriended, and who had seemed 
to requite his kindness with distrust and thankless- 
ness. Down to his surrender of the consulate and 



DELIA BACON. 311 

his departure from England in October, his corre- 
spondence with her surgeon at Stmt; i her 
brother in America was iiu tflMMll He had even 
been able to arrange, difficult as such an arrange- 
ment must have been, for hei transportation, tti 
suitable care, to her native land ; but a new access 
of violent mania compelled the abandonment of 
the plan. When, about October, he passed over to 
the continent, his brief and strange relation to her, 
which had served at least to illustrate so exqui- 
sitely the qualities of that rare character which 
sought nothing more earnestly than to withdraw 
itself from admiration, was wholly at an end. 

When Hawthorne was gone, there was no longer 
an American friend left to her in England. Every 
one in Stratford was kind to her — more kind even 
than she knew. Even the shoemaker's family, 
with whom she lodged, and whom in her increas- 
ing derangement she sorely tried, were patient 
and considerate as if she were of their own kindred. 
One Stratford family too, having many American 
acquaintances, and who had received her h 
tably before this great misfortune eame upon her, 
seems to have done what little could be done for 
her. But the only American who saw her in Strat- 
ford was Miss Maria Mitclu-11, the eminent astron- 
omer, who, being casually there in October, visited 
her and reported the visit to the nek woman's 
friends. But there was not one of those to whom 
her sad condition brought the deepest distress, for 



312 DELIA BACON. 

whom it was possible to cross the Atlantic to her 
relief. 

In December, under the stress of her heighten- 
ing malady, she was removed to an excellent pri- 
vate asylum for a small number of insane persons 
at Henley-in-Arden, — in "the forest of Arden," 
— eight miles from Stratford. While she was 
there, Emerson was advised of her condition ; and 
the terms in which, even in this eclipse of her 
intellect and after the failure of her work, he 
still expressed himself concerning her, are worth 
preserving. 

Concord, Mass., 18 February, 1858. 

Dr. Leonard Bacon. 

Dear Sir, — I have just received from Mrs. 
Flower of Stratford-on-Avon the enclosed note, 
which I hasten to forward to you. I could heartily 
wish that I had very different news to send you 
of a person who has high claims on me and on all 
of us who love genius and elevation of character. 
These qualities have so shone in Miss Bacon, that, 
whilst their present eclipse is the greater calamity, 
it seems as if the care of her in these present dis- 
tressing circumstances ought to be not at private, 
but at the public charge of scholars and friends 
of learning and truth. If I can serve you in any 
manner in relation to her, you will please to com- 
mand me. With great respect, 

R. W. Emerson. 



DELIA BACON. , 313 

Coxcord, 25 February [1858]. 

Dear Sir, — I received this morning your note, 
and I think it proper to forward to you also this 
second note from Mrs. Flower, 1. era use it .seems as 
if the apology it offers were meant to you. It al-o 
gives you perhaps later notices, if you have not 
yourself letters by the same arrival. 

With great respect, yours, 

R. W. Emerson. 

Rev. Dr. Bacox. 

She was not long in " the forest of Arden." Yet 
to withdraw her from its seclusion, and to restore 
her at last, after the five years of her separation 
from home and friends, to her native land, to 
find there only a grave, there seems to have been 
needed an incident as dramatic as many that had 
marked her life. There came to England late in 
March, on his rapid way homeward by what was 
called the " Overland Route," from a two 3'ears' 
cruise in an American frigate in the China Seas, 
one of the sons — the one best beloved by all who 
knew him — of her eldest brother. Be was a 
young man not \et twenty-two years of age; and 
as he hurried in the eagerness of youthful home- 
sickness, unwilling to spare an hour even for the 
delights of the England which he had never - 
he remembered ne\vrtheie-< the relative whom he 
had, heard to be somewhere there, alone, hut of 
whose sickness and distraction he had heard noth- 



314 DELTA BACON. 

ing. Finding that she had been at Stratford, he 
hastened there, and was shocked to learn where 
she was, and in what condition. Without opportu- 
nity to consult those who had authority to act or 
advise, the young man * assumed the responsibility 
which rested nowhere else in England. He sur- 
rendered the passage homeward already engaged 
for himself ; delayed his departure a week, and took 
with him, when he embarked for home, the un- 
happy woman who had known him in childhood, 
and to whom, when he appeared to her at Henley, 
a thousand pleasant recollections of her earlier 
years came up to dispel the hallucinations which 
had possessed her. 

On the 13th of April, 1858, five years, want- 
ing but a few days, after she had sailed from New 
York upon her enthusiastic quest, she reached 
her native land. She did not linger there long. 
Her distraction was complete, and hopeless ; so 
complete that only the care and restraint of an 
institution designed for the treatment of the in- 
sane was adequate to control her and to provide 
for her needs. She was brought very soon to the 
" Retreat " at that city of Hartford where so 
many years of her childhood had been spent, and 
there she remained until the end. 

Late in August, 1859, there were brought to her 
bedside the two sisters and two brothers who still 

1 Afterward the Rev. George Blagden Bacon, D. D., of Orange, 
New Jersey, who died September 15, 1876. 



DELIA BACON. 31") 

survived of their parents' children. A violent dis- 
ease had brought her down into extreme debility, 
and its fatal termination was plainly at hand. 
a few days the violence of her mania was aba 
even her hallocillfttSoM seemed to be lifted from 
her mind; she knew those who surrounded 
and received with joy the evidences of their life- 
long love for her, which was no longer repelle 
requited with suspicion or anger. She recogn 
and said so, that she had been under delusions ; 
although, in these solemn hours of meeting and 
final parting, what some have thought the great 
delusion of her life was neither spoken of nor 
thought of. But the bitterness of her soul against 
those who had loved her most and longest was all 
gone, and instead there was peace, and the tender 
affection of the early days of hardship and strug- 
gle. "Stronger by weakness," she was able at last 
to see what for years had been dark to her : — 

" The soul's dark cottage, battered and flmg 
Let in new Bgbt through chinks that Time had made." 

Thus attended, on the second day of September, 
1859, as her brother then wrote. ■ she died, clearly 
and calmly trusting in Christ, and thankful to 
escape from trihulation and enter into rest." In 
the old burying-ground at New Haven she was 
laid, in the parcel of ground with her brother's 
family. A cross of brown stone, set there by some 
of the ladies who remembered the love and admi- 
ration with which they had received her instruction 



316 DELIA BACON. 

in history, bears simply the record of her birth and 
death, and the words : 

" So He bringeth them to their desired haven." 
No one, of all that cared most for her, could 
wish to have her judged of more kindly or justly 
than in the closing words that Hawthorne wrote 
of her : 

" What she may have suffered before her intel- 
lect gave way, we had better not try to imagine. 
No author bad ever hoped so confidently as she ; 
none ever failed more utterly. A superstitious 
fancy might suggest that the anathema on Shak- 
speare's tombstone had fallen heavily on her head 
in requital of even the unaccomplished purpose of 
disturbing the dust beneath, and that the ' Old 
Player ' had kept so quietly in his grave, on the 
night of her vigil, because he foresaw how soon 
and terribly he would be avenged. But if that 
benign spirit takes any care or cognizance of such 
things now, he has surely requited the injustice 
that she sought to do him — the high justice that 
she really did — by a tenderness of love and pity of 
which only he could be capable. What matters it 
though she called him by some other name ? He 
had wrought a greater miracle on her than on all 
the world besides. This bewildered enthusiast had 
recognized a depth in the man whom she decried, 
which scholars, critics, and learned societies de- 
voted to the elucidation of his unrivalled scenes, 
had never imagined to exist there. She had paid 



DELIA BACON. 317 

him the loftiest honor that all these ages of ren 
have heen able to accumulate upon his memory. 
And when, not main months after the outward 
failure of her lifelong object, she passed into the 
better world, I know not mhj we should hesitate 
to believe that the immortal poet may have met 
her on the threshold and led her in, reassuring 
her with friendly and comfortable words, tad 
thanking her (yet with a smile of gentle humor in 
his eyes at the thought of certain mistaken specu- 
lations) for having interpreted him to mankind so 
well" x 

1 Hawthorne : Our Old Home, 



IXDKX 



Ancestry, 1-4. 

Arden, the Forest of: her asylum 
there, 312; withdrawn from it, 
814. 

Authorship of the plays : the ac- 
cepted opinion as to it a barrier to 
the true understanding of them, 
130 srqq. The question of author- 
ship subordinate in her view to 
that of the contained philosophy, 
43-4, 174, 179. Never attributed 
by her to a single writer, 46-6 ; 
163-4; 204. 

Bacon, Rev. David, father of Delia, 
born, 4 ; a missionary to the In- 
dians, 4-0 ; colonizes the town of 
Tallmadge, 6-8, 10; failure of 
the enterprise, 9-10 ; returns to 
Connecticut and dies, 10-1 1. 

Bacon, Francis : his philosophy 
found in the plays, 43-4<: 
202 ; one of the writers of the 
plays, -l.V'i ; IV. I ; never be- 
lieved by her the sole writer, 45 ; 
204. 

Bac-o.i, Leonard, biographical sketch 
of I)ii\i<l I letters 

to, from Delia, l.\ L6, 17. 
87, 309. From Hawthorn. 
282. From Emerson. 1' 
313. Seeks to dissuade her from 
entertaining her new ideas, 51, 
248-250. Letter from, to Haw- 
thorne, 309. Letter from, 247. 



His explanation of the 
given her by Emerson, 310. 
Bacon, Joseph, grandfather of Delia, 



B:koii, Muli.i.1, the first 
ancestor, 2. 

Beecher, Catherine, her school at 
: .rd, 11-12; her description 
of Delia as a schoolgirl, 12-14. 

Pf MMM>l> . Francis : put in charge of 
the publication by his friend Haw- 
thorne, 24 - good-sense, 
tact, and diligence in directing 
the work, 277-*\ 

" Bride of Fort Edward, The," 20- 
21. 

Buffalo Creek, in 1801, 5. 

Cabman, a guide to London lodg- 
ings, 159. 

Cambridge : her historical classes 
tli.-rv. M-SL Its relations to Con- 
cord 

Carl vie, Jane : letter from, 72 ; her 
ill-will to " Frederick," id. 

Carlyle, Thos. : introduction to, 
from Emerson, 58 ; letters from, 
60, 61, 63, 68, 70, 79. f] 
Emerson, 64, 67. 275. Letter to, 
from Emerson, 7*; her descrip- 
tion of her visits to, 62, 75 ; he 
describee her to Emmas, 64-5, 
67. 

Death, 315. 



320 



INDEX. 



Dedham, the earliest residence of 

her American ancestors, 2. 
Detroit, in 1801, 5. 

Elizabethan coterie of men of letters, 
45-6: 106; 109-110; 143-149; 
153; 169; 181; 204; 287. 

Emerson, R. W. : first communica- 
tion with him, 48. Letters from, 
48, 57, 58, 73, 82, 93, 191 . To Miss 
E. P. Peabody, 55. To Carlyle, 
78. To Leonard Bacon, 162. 
Letters to, 50, 51, 57, 68, 77, 88 ; 
from Carlyle, 64, 67, 275. 

England : her desire to go there, 47 ; 
the means provided, 56 ; the jour- 
ney accomplished, 59. She is 
brought back from there, 314. 

Farrar, Mrs. Eliza, her account of 
Delia Bacon, 28-30. Receives 
with distrust the earliest intima- 
tions of her skepticism regarding 
Shakspere, 47. Letter to her, 
159. Account of her London life, 
235-8. 

Grote, George : long conversation 

with, 182, 236. 
Grote, Mrs. Hannah : Sydney Smith's 

compliment, 84 ; letter from, 85. 

Hartford : her childhood there, 11- 
16 ; Catherine Beecher's school, 
11; received into the " Retreat," 
314 ; last sickness and death 
there, 315. 

Hatfield: lodges at, for a month, 
75. 

Hawthorne, N. : consul at Liverpool, 

164. Introduces herself to him, 

165. His acceptance of the task 
imposed, 171. Letters to him, 
105, 173, 178, 184, 190, 197, 213, 
252, 265, 271, 279. Letters from 
him, 171, 178, 183. 188, 196, 211, 



244, 264, 270, 280, 281. His visit 
to her, 216. His description of 
her appearance, 218-224. Letters 
from him to Dr. L. Bacon, 229, 
282. His Preface to the Book, 
285. His account of the reception 
given it, 297-300. His unweary- 
ing care for her, 308, 310-311. His 
last tribute to her, 316. 

Hawthorne, Mrs. Sophia : her kind- 
ness and admiration, 225-6, 228, 
232, 243. Letters from her, 225, 
232, 243. Letters to her, 226, 
232, 233, 238. 

Henley-in-Arden : is taken to an 
asylum there, 312; is withdrawn 
from it, 314. 

Henshaw, Mrs. Sarah E., her de- 
scription of Delia Bacon, 24-27. 

Historical Instruction, 20, 23-31, 54. 

Holmes, Abigail, wife of Joseph 
Bacon, 3, 4. 

Homelessness, abnormal, of her life, 
32-34. 

Homeric Poems : the question of 
their authorship compared, 99- 
102; 114. 

Insanity : the first hint of its possi- 
ble approach, 34 ; never became 
amentia, or driveled among Sortes 
Virgilianai and the like, 46. Haw- 
thorne's early apprehension of it, 
229. Its evident approach, 247, 
263. Medical report of some 
mental disturbance, 308. Medi- 
cal hope of early restoration, id. 
Her brother's opinion that she 
had been verging upon it from 
1851, 310. It settles down per- 
manently upon her, 310. She is 
taken to a private asylum at Hen- 
ley, 312; to the "Retreat" at 
Hartford, 314. The lifting of 
the cloud before the night closes 
in, 315. 







821 



Jamaica {Long Wand), her school 
at, 17. 

Lost Manuscript, 101, 200. 

Milnes, Richard Monckton: asks 
leave of Carl vie to see a paper oo 
Shakspere, 01, 03. A visit from, 

Miu lull, Maria, riaiu her at Strat- 
ford, :;n. 
Montaigne : her reading of, U 

Name, Baptismal : how acquired, 8. 

Name, Family: (fare no direction 
to her studies or theories, 1-2. 

New Connecticut, 0-10. 

New Haven : " Tales of the Puri- 
tans" published there, 1'.'. 1 l.-r 
instruction of ladies then, 27. 
Her burial, 816, 

Peabody, Miss E. P., a warm friend, 

54, 164, 166 J letter to, from 

Emerson, 65. 
Penn Tan : her feeling in regard to 

the name, 1 & 
Perth Amboy, her school at, 10. 
" Putnam's Monthly " : l.ttt-r from 

the publishers, 90 ; the Shakspere 

Article, 97. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, the pioneer of 

the New World, 7 ; one of the 

writers of the plays, 45, 204. 

Her Life of him. 18, l'W, 284. 

History" on her tal.l.-. I' 17. 

Religious introspection and distress, 
14-15. 

St Albans: takes lodgings there, 

flff | removes to Hatli. 1,1 
School-teaching : at Southington, 

16] Perth Amboy, 10; Jamaica, 

IT. 
Shakspere : her earnest study of the 



plays, 35. Early q e— H o— as to 
authorship, 35-41 ; his title opesv 
ly disputed, 42 ; the philosophy is 
them of mors m o m oa * to bar 
than the authorship of thorn, 43- 
46; her first avowal of skepti- 
cism, 47-48; the natural coodi- 
tions of authorship of the dram* 
wanting in him, 44, 105. The 
obscurities of his life a real sup- 
port for the theory of his author- 
ship, HXMin. 

Shakspere Drama : a new force in 
literature, 44, 104 ; accepted opin- 
ion as to the authorship a bar- 
rier to the true understanding of 
the plays, 136 mqq. ; the ques- 
tion of authorship unimportant 
except as connected with the phi- 
losophy involved in them, 43-44, 
171-179. The Philosophy con- 
tained in it, 44, 287-- 

Shakspere's Grave: her idea con- 
cerning its contents, 220, 223, 
237,258-262. Arrangements with 
the vicar of Stratford, 250-252, 
•J7I. Bet account of her visit 
tothechin She partly 

gives over the purpose of exam- 
ining the grave, 265. 

Smith, Wm. Henry: his "L 

the Earl of Ellesmere," 245; 
-1. 

Southington, her school at, 16. 

Spedding, James : invited to meet 
h. r at the Carlyles', 60. 

Spens e r, Edmund : one of the writ- 
ers of the plays, 45. 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, schoolmate 
' lia, and li: 

Won : Jut journey 
thith.T. I Mr arrival 

and establitmm.iit there, 238-242. 
A place quite fit for Shakspere to 
live in. J'<7. HO. His choice of 
it th.- pesjsj for the only praise 



\o 



322 



INDEX. 



Hawthorne ever knew her to be- 
stow on him, 307. 
Stratford, Vicar of: arrangements 
with, for examining the tomb, 
250-252, 260-261, 274. Haw- 
thorne's tribute to him, 303. 

Tallmadge, Delia Bacon's birth- 
place, 6-10. 



" Tales of the Puritans," 19. 

Western Reserve, 6-10. 

Williams, T. S., Chief Justice, 8 ; 

Delia receives the name of his 

wife, id. ; Delia a member of his 

family, 11-16. 
Woodstock, birthplace of Delia 

Bacon's father, 3-4. 



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