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THE question may be asked by some, Why divide your 
book into two parts, an argument and a demonstration ? 
If the Cipher is conclusive, why is any discussion of probabili- 
ties necessary ? 

In answer to this I would state that, for a long time before 
I conceived the idea of the possibility of there being a Cipher 
in the Shakespeare Plays, I had been at work collecting proofs, 
from many sources, to establish the fact that Francis Bacon 
was the real author of those great works. Much of the material 
so amassed is new and curious, and well worthy of preserva- 
tion. While the Cipher will be able to stand alone, these 
facts will throw many valuable side-lights upon the story told 

Moreover, that part of the book called " Parallelisms " will, 
I hope, be interesting to scholars, even after Bacon's authorship 
of the Plays is universally acknowledged, as showing how the 
same great mind unconsciously cast itself forth in parallel lines, 
in prose and poetry, in the two greatest sets of writings in the 

And I trust the essays on the geography, the politics, the 
religion and the purposes of the Plays will possess an interest 
apart from the question of authorship. 

I have tried to establish every statement I have made by 
abundant testimony, and to give due credit to each author 
from whom I have borrowed. 

For the shortcomings of the work I shall have to ask the 
indulgence of the reader. It was written in the midst of many 
interruptions and distractions ; and it lacks that perfection 
which ampler leisure might possibly have given it. 

As to the actuality of the Cipher there can be but one con- 
clusion. A long, continuous narrative, running through many 
pages, detailing historical events in a perfectly symmetrical. 


rhetorical, grammatical manner, and always growing out of the 
same numbers, employed in the same way, and counting from the 
same, or similar, starting-points, cannot be otherwise than a pre- 
arranged aritfwietical cipher. 

Let those who would deny this proposition produce a single 
page of a connected story, eliminated, by an arithmetical rule, 
from any other work ; in fact, let them find five words that 
will cohere, by accident, in due order, in any publication, where 
they were not first placed with intent and aforethought. I 
have never yet been able to find even three such. Regularity 
does not grow out of chaos. There can be no intellectual 
order without preexisting intellectual purpose. The fruits of 
mind can only be found where mind is or has been. 

It may be thought, by some, that I speak with too much 
severity of Shakspere and his family ; but it must be remem- 
bered that I am battling against the great high walls of public 
prejudice and intrenched error. ''Fate," it is said, "obeys the 
downright striker." I trust my earnestness will not be mistaken 
for maliciousness. 

In the concluding chapters I have tried to do justice to the 
memory of Francis Bacon, and to the great minds that first an- 
nounced to the world his claim to the authorship of the Plays. 
I feel that it is a noble privilege to thus assist in lifting the 
burden of injustice from the shoulders of long-suffering merit. 

The key here turned, for the first time, in the secret wards 
of the Cipher, will yet unlock a vast history, nearly as great in 
bulk as the Plays themselves, and tell a mighty story of one of 
the greatest and most momentous eras of human history, illu- 
minated by the most gifted human being that ever dwelt upon 
the earth. 

I conclude by invoking, in behalf of my book, the kindly 
judgment and good-will of all men. I. D. 





Chapter I. — The Learning of the Plays, ----- 13 

II. — Shakspere's .Education, ----- 27 

III. — Shakspere's Real Character, - - - .44 

IV. — The Lost Manuscripts and Library, ... 73 

V. — The Author of the Plays a Lawyer, - - - IC2 



Chapter I. — Francis Bacon a Poet, ..... I2 r 

II. — The Author of the Plays a Philosopher, - - 149 

III. — The Geography of the Plays, - - - - :6i 

IV. — The Politics of the Plays, - - - - 173 

V. — The Religion of the Plays, ----- 196 

VI. — The Purposes of the Plays, -.--•• 212 

VII. — The Reasons for Concealment, - 246 

VIII. — Corroborating Circumstances, - 259 



Chapter I. — Identical Expressions, - - - - 295 

II. — Identical Metaphors, - 335 

III. — Identical Opinions, .---.. 370 

IV. — Identical Quotations, - - 397 

V. — Identical Studies, - - - - - - 41^ 

VI. — Identical Errors, ------ 437 

VII. — Identical Use of Unusual Words, - 444 

VIII. — Identities of Character, - 462 

IX. — Identities of Style, -.-... 481 





Chapter I. — How I Came to Look for a Cipher, - - - 505 

II. — How I Became Certain There Was a Cipher, - - 516 

III. — A Vain Search in the Common Editions, - - 545 

IV. — The Great Folio of 1623, - 548 

V. — Lost in the Wilderness, 565 

VI. — The Cipher Found, - .... 575 



Chapter I. — The Treasonable Play of Richard II., - - 619 
II. — The Treasonable History of Henry IV., Written by Dr. 

Hayward, ... ... 630 

III. — The Cipher Explained, - - 639 

IV. — Bacon Hears the Bad News, .... 670 

V. — Cecil Tells the Story of Marlowe, .... 688 

VI. — The Story of Shakspere's Youth, - - - 694 

VII. — The Purposes of the Plays, - 702 

VIII — The Queen Beats Hayward, ... - 709 

IX. — Cecil Says Shakspere Did Not Write the Plays, - - 718 

X. — Shakspere Incapable of Writing the Plays, - - 729 

XL — Shakspere Wounded, ------ 732 

XII. — Shakspere Carried to Prison, - 740 

XIII. — The Youthful Shakspere Described, • - - 756 

XIV. — The Bishop of Worcester and His Advice, - 762 

XV. — Shakspere's Aristocratic Pretensions, - - - 770 

XVI. — Shakspere's Sickness, ..... 784 

XVII. — Shakspere the Model from which Bacon Drew the 

Characters of Falstaff and Sir Tobie, - - 809 

XVIII. — Sweet Ann Hathaway, ..... 826 

XIX. — Bacon Overwhelmed, % - 844 

XX. — The Queen's Orders to Find Shakspere, - - 854 

XXI. — Fragments, .-.-.-- 870 

XXI I.— A Word Personal, ...... 889 


Chapter I.— Delia Bacon, - - .... 899 

II. — William Henry Smith, - ... 9 i6 

III. — The Baconians, ..-...-- 923 

IV. — Other Masks of Bacon, ----- 939 

V. — Francis Bacon, - - - .... 975 


Francis Bacon — The True Shakespeare. After the portrait by Van Somer. 

William Shakspere. Facsimile of the celebrated Droeshout portrait in the 

1623 Folio, --------- 64 

Ben Jonson. After the portrait by Oliver, - 96 

Gorhambury. Bacon's residence, ----._ T 6 

Sir Robert Cecil. -------- 193 

f ac-simile of a page from the author's copy of the great folio, - 566 
Letter of Lord Chancellor Verulam (Francis Bacon) to the University 

of Cambridge. Facsimile, ------- 6S0 

Queen Elizabeth. After the portrait in the collection of the Marquis of 

Salisbury, -------- 712 

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. After the portrait in the collection of 

the Earl of Verulam, - - 632 

William Henry Smith, - . 920 

William D. O'Connor, -------- 928 

Nathaniel Holmes, ...... 936 

Mrs. Constance M. Pott, - - - - - 944 

Dr. William Thomson. ._.... 950 

Prof. Thomas Davidson, - - - 958 



"Nay; pray you come ; 
Or if thou wilt hold further document, 
Do it in note/." 

Much Ado about Abthing, 11,3. 








" From his cradle 
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one." 

Henry VIII., iz\ 2. 

IT was formerly the universal belief, entertained even among the 
critical, that the writings which go by the name of William 
Shakespeare were the work of an untaught, unlearned man. 

Addison compared Shakspere 1 to the agate in the ring of 
Pyrrhus, which had the figure of Apollo and the nine Muses 
pictured in the veins of the stone by the hand of Nature, without 
any assistance from Art. 

Voltaire regarded him as a " drunken savage." 
Pope speaks of him as " a man of no education." 
Richard Grant White says Shakspere was regarded, even 
down to the time of Pope, as "this bewitching but untutored and 
half-savage child of nature." 

He was looked upon as a rustic-bred bard who sang as the 
birds sing — a greater Burns, who, as Milton says, "warbled his 
native wood-notes wild." 

This view was in accordance with the declaration of Ben Jon- 
son that he possessed " small Latin and less Greek," and the state- 

1 Wherever reference is had in these pages to the man of Stratford the name will be spelled, 
as he spelled it in his will, Shakspere. Wherever the reference is to the Plays, or to the real author 
of the Plays, the name will be spelled Shakespeare, for that was the name on the title-pages of 
quartos and folios. 



ment of old Fuller, in his Worthies, in 1622, that "his learning was 

very little." 

Fuller says: 

Plautus was never any scholar, as doubtless our Shakespeare, if alive, would 
confess himself. 

Leonard Digges says: 

The patterne of all wit, 
Art without Art unparaleld as yet. 
Next Nature onely helpt him, for looke thorow 
This whole booke, thou shalt find he doth not borrow 
One phrase from Greekes, nor Latines imitate, 
Nor once from vulgar languages translate. 

Rev. John Ward, Vicar of Stratford, writing forty-seven years 
after Shakspere's death, and speaking the traditions of Stratford, 

I have heard that Mr. Shakespeare was a natural wit, tvithout any art at all. 

Seventy odd years after Shakspere's death, Bentham, in his 

State of the English Schools and Churches, says: 

William Shakespeare was born at Stratford, in Warwickshire; his learning 
was very little, and therefore it is more a matter for wonder that he should be a 
very excellent poet. 1 

But in the last fifty years this view is completely changed. 
The critical world is now substantially agreed that the man who 
wrote the plays was one of the most learned men of the world, not 
only in that learning which comes from observation and reflection, 
but in book-lore, ancient and modern, and in the knowledge of 
many languages. 

I. His Classical Learning. 

Grant White admits: 

He had as much learning as he had occasion to use, and even more. 2 

It was at one time believed that the writer of the plays was 
unable to read any of the Latin or Greek authors in the original 
tongues, and that he depended altogether upon translations; but 
such, it is now proved, was not the case. 

The Comedy of Errors, which is little more than a repro- 
duction of the Menoechmi of Plautus, first appeared at certain 

1 Chap. 19. 2 White, Life and Genius of Shakespeare, p. 256. 



Christmas revels given by Bacon and his fellow lawyers, at 
Gray's Inn, in 1594; while, says Halliwell, " the Menoechmi of 
Plautus was not translated into English, or rather no English 
translation of it was printed, before 1595." 

" The greater part of the story of Timon was taken from the 
untranslated Greek of Lucian." 1 

" Shakespeare's plays," says White, 2 " show forty per cent of 
Romance or Latin words, which is probably a larger proportion 
than is now used by our best writers; certainly larger than is 
heard from those who speak their mother tongue with spon- 
taneous, idiomatic correctness." 

We find in Twelfth Night these lines: 

Like the Egyptian thief, at point of death, 
Kill what I love. 3 

This is an allusion to a story from Heliodorus' u'Ethiopics. I do 

not know of any English translation of it in the time of Shakspere. 

Holmes says: 

The writer was a classical scholar. Rowe found traces in him of the Electra 
of Sophocles; Colman, of Ovid; Pope, of Dares Phrygius, and other Greek 
authors; Farmer, of Horace and Virgil; Malone, of Lucretius, Statius, Catullus, 
Seneca, Sophocles, and Euripides; Stevens, of Plautus; Knight, of the Antig- 
one of Sophocles; and White, of the Alcestis of Euripides. 4 

White says: 

His very frequent use of Latin derivatives in their radical sense shows a 
somewhat thoughtful and observant study of that language. 5 

White further says: 

Where, even in Plutarch's pages, are the aristocratic republican tone and the 
tough muscularity of mind, which characterized the Romans, so embodied as in 
Shakespeare's Roman plays? Where, even in Homer's song, the subtle wisdom of 
the crafty Ulysses, the sullen selfishness and conscious martial might of broad 
Achilles; the blundering courage of thick-headed Ajax ; or the mingled gallantry 
and foppery of Paris, so vividly portrayed as in Troilus and CreSsida ? 6 

Knight says: 

The marvelous accuracy, the real, substantial learning, of the three Roman 
plays of Shakespeare present the most complete evidence to our minds that they 
were the result of a profound study of the whole range of Roman history, in- 
cluding the nicer details of Roman manners, not in those days to be acquired in « 
compendious form, but to be brought out by diligent reading alone. 7 

1 Holmes, A uthorship of Shakespeare, p. 57. 5 Life and Genius cf Shakespeare, p. 31. 

2 Life and Genius cf Shakespeare , p. 216. 6 Ibid., p. 257. 

3 Act v, scene 1. 7 Knight's Shak. Biography, p. 528. 

4 Authorship of Shakespeare, p. 57. 


And again: 

In his Roman plays he appears co-existent with his wonderful characters, and 
to have read all the obscure pages of Roman history with a clearer eye than philosopher 
or historian. When he employs Latinisms in the construction of his sentences, 
and even in the creation of new words, he does so with singular facility and unerring 
correctness. 1 

Appleton Morgan says: 

In Antony and Cleopatra, Charmian suggests a game of billiards. But this 
is not, as is supposed, an anachronism, for the human encyclopedia who wrote that 
sentence appears to have known — what very few people know nowadays — that 
the game of billiards is older than Cleopatra. 2 

Whately 3 describes Shakespeare as possessed of " an amazing 
genius which could pervade all nature at a glance, and to whom 
nothing within the limits of the universe appears to be unknown." 

A recent writer says, speaking of the resemblance between the 

Eumenides of ^Eschylus and the Hamlet of Shakespeare: 

The plot is so similar that we should certainly have credited the English poet 
with copying it, if he could have read Greek. . . . The common elements are 
indeed remarkable. Orestes and Hamlet have both to avenge a beloved father 
who has fallen a victim to the guilty passion of an unfaithful wife; in each case the 
adulterer has ascended the throne; and a claim of higher than mere mortal 
authority demands his punishment; for the permitted return of Hamlet's father 
from the world beyond the grave may be set beside the command of Apollo to 
Orestes to become the executive of the wrath of Heaven. 4 

Knight 5 sees evidence that Shakespeare was a close student of 
the works of Plato. 

Alexander Schmidt, in his lexicon, under the word Adonis, quotes 

the following lines from Shakespeare: 

Thy promises are like Adonis' gardens, 

That one day bloomed and fruitful were the next. 6 

Upon which Schmidt comments: 

Perhaps confounded with the garden of King Alcinous in the Odyssey? 

Richard Grant White says: 

No mention of any such garden in the classic writings of Greece and Rome is 
known to scholars. 

But the writer of the plays, who, we are told, was no scholar, 

had penetrated more deeply into the lassie writings than his learned 

critics; and a recent commentator, James D. Butler, has found out 

the source of this allusion. He says: 

1 Knight's Shak. Biography, p. 528. 6 Knight's Shak., note 6, act v, Merchant of Venice. 

2 Some Shak. Commentators, p. 35. 6 1st Henry 17., i, 6. 
8 Shah. Myth., p. 82. » v jj ( 1I7 _ I2 6. 

4 Julia Wedgewood. 


This couplet must have been suggested by Plato. (Phaedrus, p. 276.) The 
translation is Jowett's — that I may not be suspected of warping the original to fit 
my theory: 

Would a husbandman, said Socrates, who is a man of sense, take the seeds, 
which he values and which he wishes to be fruitful, and in sober earnest plant 
them during the heat of summer, in some garden of Adonis, that he may rejoice 
when he sees them in eight days appearing in beauty? Would he not do that, if 
at all, to please the spectators at a festival? But the seeds about which he is in 
earnest he sows in fitting soil, and practices husbandry, and is satisfied if in eight 
months they arrive at perfection. 1 

Here we clearly have the original of the disputed passage: 

Thy promises are like Adonis' gardens, 

That one day bloomed and fruitful were the next. 

Judge Holmes 2 finds the original of the expression, "the mind's 

eye," in Plato, who uses precisely the same phrase. He also thinks 

the passage of Plato, — 

While begetting and rearing children, and handing in succession from some to 
others life like a torch, and even paying, according to law, worship to the gods, — 

gave the hint for the following lines in Measure for Measure: 

Heaven doth with us as we with torches do, 
Not light them for ourselves. 

He also finds in Plato the original of Lear's phrase, " this same 

Earned Theban." 

Knight thinks the expression, — 

Were she as rough 
As the swelling Adriatic seas, 3 — 

was without doubt taken from Horace, 4 "of whose odes there was no 

translation in the sixteenth century." 

The grand lines in Macbeth, — 

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! — 

are traced to Catullus. I give the translation of another: 

Soles occidere et redire pos stint. 
Nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux, 
Nox est perpetuo una dor?nienda. 

(The lights of heaven go out and return. 
When once our brief candle goes out, 
One night is to be perpetually slept.) 

That beautiful thought in Hamlet, — 

And from her unpolluted flesh 
May violets spring, 5 — 

1 Shakespeariana, May, 1886, p. 230. 3 Taming of the Shrew, i, 2. 5 Act v, scene 1. 

2 A uthorship of Shakespeare, p. 396. 4 Ode xix, book iii. 


seems to have had its original in the lines of Persius: 

Nunc levior cippus non imprimit ossa, 
Laudat posteritas, nunc non e manibus ittis, 
Nunc non e tumulo fortunataque favilla 
Nascuntur violce ? l — 

which has been translated: 

Will a less tomb, composed of smaller stones, 
Press with less weight upon the under bones? 
Posterity may praise them, why, what though? 
Can yet their manes such a gift bestow 
As to make violets from their ashes grow? 

W. O. Follett (Sandusky, Ohio), in his pamphlet, Addendum 
to Who Wrote Shakespeare, quotes 2 a remark of the brothers 
Langhorne in the preface to their translation of the Lives of Plu- 
tarch, to this effect: 

It is said by those who are not willing to allow Shakspere much learning, that 
he availed himself of the last mentioned translation [of Plutarch, by Thomas 
North]. But they seem to forget that, in order to support their arguments of this 
kind, it is necessary for them to prove that Plato, too, was translated into English 
at the same time; for the celebrated soliloquy, " To be or not to be," is taken 
almost verbatim from that philosopher; yet we have never found that Plato was 
translated in those times. 

Mrs. Pott has shown in her great work 3 that very many of the 
Latin quotations found in Francis Bacon's sheets of notes and 
memoranda, preserved in the British Museum, and called his Pro- 
mus of Formularies and Elegancies, are either transferred bodily to 
the plays or worked over in new forms. It follows, therefore, that 
the writer of the Plays must have read the authors from whom 
Bacon culled these sentences, or have had access to Bacon's manu- 
script notes, or that he was Bacon himself. 

In the Promus notes we find the proverb 9 "Diluculo surgere sa/it- 

Sir Toby Belch says to Sir Andrew Aguecheek: 

Approach, Sir Andrew; not to be a-bed after midnight is to be up betimes, 
and diluculo stirgere, thou knowest. 4 


Qui dissimulat liber non est. (He who dissembles is not free.) 5 

In Shakespeare we have: 

The dissembler is a slave, 6 

1 Sat. i. 3 Promus, pp. 31-38. 5 Promus notes, folio 83 C. 

4 Page 7. 4 Twelfth Night, ii, 3. 6 Pericles, i, 1. 


Again, in the Promus notes, we have: 

Divitice impedimenta virtu tis. (The baggage of virtue.) 

Bacon says: 

I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue. 

Shakespeare says: 

If thou art rich, thou'rt poor; 
For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows, 
Thou bearest thy heavy riches but a journey, 
Till death unloads thee. 1 


Mors et fugacem persequitur virum. (Death pursues even the man that flies 
from him.) 

Shakespeare has: 

Away! for death doth hold us in pursuit. 2 

And again: 

Mors omnia solvit. (Death dissolves all things.) 

Shakespeare has: 

Let heaven dissolve my life. 3 
And again: 
Hoc solum scio, quod nihil scio. (This only I know, that I know nothing.) 

Shakespeare has: 

The wise man knows himself to be a fool. 4 
Tela honoris tenerior. (The stuff of which honor is made is rather tender.) 

Shakespeare has: 

The tender honor of a maid. 5 


Tranquillo qui libet gubernator. — Eras. Ad. 4496. (Any one can be a pilot in 
fine weather.) 

Shakespeare says: 

Nay, mother, 
Where is your ancient courage? You were used 
To say, extremity was the trier of spirits; 
That common chances common men could bear; 
That when the sea was calm all boats alike 
Showed mastership in floating. 6 

1 Measure /or Measure, iii, i. 4 As You Like It, v, i. 

13d Henry VI., ii, 5. 5 All's Well that Ends Well, iii, 5. 

8 Antony and Cleopatra, iii, 2. 6 Coriolanus, iv, 1. 



In aliquibus manetur quia Hon datur rvgressus. (In some [places] one has 
to remain because there is no getting back.) ' 

And in Shakespeare we find: 

I am in blood 
Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more, 
Returning were as easy as go o'er.' 2 


Frigus adurit. (Cold parches.) 

And Shakespeare says: 

Frost itself as actively doth burn. 3 
Anosce teipsiu. (Know thyself.) 

Shakespeare has: 

Mistress, know yourself. 4 
He knows nothing who knows not himself. 5 
That fool knows not himself. 6 

I could cite many other similar instances, but these will doubt- 
less be sufficient to satisfy the reader. 

II. His Knowledge of the Modern Languages. 

It furthermore now appears that the writer of the plays was 
versed in the languages and literature of France, Italy, and even 
Spain; while he had some familiarity with the annals and tongues 
of Northern Europe. 

As to the French, whole pages of the plays are written in that 
language. 7 

His knowledge of Italian is clearly proved. 

The story of Othello was taken from the Italian of Cinthio's II Capitano More, 
of which no translation is known to have existed; the tale of Cymbeline was drawn 
from an Italian novel of Boccaccio, not known to have been translated into English, 
and the like is true of other plays. 8 

Richard Grant White 9 conclusively proves that the writer of 
Othello had read the Orlando Furioso in the original Italian; that the 
very words are borrowed as well as the thought; and that the 

1 Promns notes, No. 1361. 6 Troilus and Cressida, ii, 1. 

• Macbeth, iii, 4. Henry J'. 

8 Hamlet, iii, 4. 8 Holmes, Authorship of Shakespeare, p. 58. 

* As You Like It, iv, 1. 9 Life and Genius of Shakespeare, p. 35. 
6 A IPs Well that Ends Well, ii, 4. 




author adhered to the expressions in the Italian where the only 
translation then in existence had departed from them. The 
same high authority also shows that in the famous passage, 
" Who steals my purse steals trash," etc., the writer of Othello 
borrowed from the Orlando Innatnorato of Berni, "of which poem to 
this day there is no English version.'' 

The plot of the comedy of Twelfth Night; oh\ What You Will, is 
drawn from two Italian comedies, both having the same title, 
GVInganni (The Cheats), both published before the date of Shake- 
speare's play, and which Shakespeare must have read in the original 
Italian, as there were, I believe, no English translations of them. 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is supposed to have been written 
several years before 1598, the year when Bartholomew Yonge's 
translation of the Diana of Jorge de Montemayor was published in 
England; and Halliwell believes that there are similarities between 
Shakespeare's play and Montemayor's romance "too minute to be 
accidental." If this is the case we must conclude that Shakespeare 
either read some translation of the romance in manuscript before 
1598, or else that he read it in the original. Says Halliwell: 

The absolute origin of the entire plot has possibly to be discovered in some 
Italian novel. The error in the first folio of Padua for Milan, in act ii, scene 5, has 
perhaps to be referred to some scene in the original novel. Tieck mentions an old 
German play founded on a tale similar to The Two Gentlemen of Verona; but it has 
not yet been made accessible to English students, and we have no means of 
ascertaining how far the resemblance extends. 

It further appears that Shakespeare found the original of The 
Merchant of Venice in an untranslated Italian novel. Mr. Collier says: 

In the novel II Pecorone of Giovanni Fiorentino, the lender of the money 
(under very similar circumstances, and the wants of the Christian borrower arising 
out of nearly the same events) is a Jew; and there also we have the 

equal pound 
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken 
In what part of your body pleaseth me. 

The words in the Italian are li chel Giudeo gli potesse levare una libra di came 
d'addosso di qualumque luogo e' voiesse," which are so nearly like those of 
Shakespeare as to lead us to believe that he followed here some literal translation 
of the novel in // Pecorone. None such has, however, reached our time, and the 
version we have printed at the foot of the Italian was made and published 
in 1765. ! 

Mrs. Pott, in her great work, calls attention to the following 

1 Introduction to the Adventures of Gianetta, Shakespeare's Library, part i, vol. i, p. 315. 


Italian proverb, and the parallel passage in Lear. No one can doubt 

that the former suggested the latter: 

Non far cib che tu puoi; 
Non spender cib che tu hai; 
Non creder cib che tu odi; 
Non dir cib che tu sat. ' 

(Do less than thou canst; 
Spend less than thou hast; 
Believe less than thou hearest; 
Say less than thou knowest.) 

While in Shakespeare we have: 

Have more than thou showest, 
Speak more than thou knowest, 
Lend less than thou owest, 
Ride more than thou goest, 
Learn more than thou trowest.' 2 

And, again, the same author calls attention to the following 
Italian proverb and parallel passage: 

II savio fa della necessita virtu. (The wise man makes a virtue of necessity.) s 

Shakespeare says: 

Are you content to make a virtue of necessity ? 4 

The same author calls attention to numerous instances where 

the author of the plays borrowed from Spanish proverbs. I select 

one of the most striking: 

Desque naci I lore ye cada dia nace porque. (When I was born I cried, and every 
day shows why.) 

Shakespeare has: 

When we are born we cry, that we are come 
To this great stage of fools. 5 

In Love's Labor Lost 6 we find the author quoting part of an 
Italian proverb: 

Vinegia, Vinegia, 

Chi non ti vede ei non ti pregia. 

The proverb is: 

Veaetia, Venetia, chi non tivede, non ti pregia , 
Ala chi t'ha troppo veduto ti dispregia. 

The plot of Hamlet was taken from Saxo Grammaticus, the 
Danish historian, of whom, says Whately, writing in 1748, "no 

1 Protuus, p. 524. 3 Promus, p. 525. 5 Lear, iv, 6. 

* Lear, i, 6. 4 T11J0 Grntlejuen of Verona x iv, 1. 6 Act iv, scene 2. 


translation hath yet been made." 1 So that it would appear the 
author of Hamlet must have read the Danish chronicle in the orig- 
inal tongue. 

Dr. Herman Brunnhofer, Dr. Benno Tschischwitz (in his Shake- 
speare Forschungen) and Rev. Bovvechier Wrey Savile 2 all unite in 
believing that the writer of Hamlet was familiar with the works of 
Giordano Bruno, who visited England, 1583 to 1586; and that the 
words of Hamlet, 3 " If the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being 
a god kissing carrion," etc., are taken from Bruno's Spaccio delta 
Bestia Trionfante. Furthermore, that the author of Hamlet was 
familiar with " the atomic theory" of the ancients. And the Rev. 
Bowechier Wrey Savile says: 

Inasmuch as neither Bruno's Spaccio, nor the fragments of Parmenides' poem, 
On Nature, which have come down to us, were known in an English dress at the 
beginning of the seventeenth century (Toland's translation of Bruno's Spaccio did 
not appear until 1713), it would seem to show that the author of Hamlet must have 
been acquainted with both Greek and Italian, as was the case with the learned 
Francis Bacon. 

III. A Scholar Even in His Youth. 

The evidences of scholarship mark the earliest as well as the 
latest works of the great poet; in fact, they are more observable in 
the works of his youth than in those of middle life. Even the 
writers who have least doubt as to the Shaksperean authorship of 
the plays admit this fact. 

White says the early plays show "A mind fresh from academic 
studies." 4 

Speaking of the early plays, Prof. Dowden finds among their 

Frequency of classical allusions, frequency of puns and conceits, wit and image- 
ry drawn out in detail to the point of exhaustion. ... In Love' s Labor Lost the 
arrangement is too geometrical; the groupings are artificial, not organic or vital. 

Coleridge was of opinion that 

A young author's first work almost always bespeaks his recent pursuits. 

And, hence, he concludes that 

The habits of William Shakespeare had been scholastic and those of a student. 

The scholarship of the writer of the plays and his familiarity 

with the Latin language are also shown in the use of odd and 

1 A u Inquiry into the Learning of Shakespeare. 3 Act ii, scene i. 

2 Shakespcariana, Oct., 1884, p. 312. 4 White, Shakespeare" s Genius, p. 257. 



extraordinary words, many of them coined by himself, and such 
as would not naturally occur to an untaught genius, familiar with 
no language but his own. I give a few specimens: 

Rubrous, Twelfth Night, i, 4. Evitate, Merry Wives of Windsor, v, 5. 

Pendulous, King Lear, iii, 4. Imbost, Antony and Cleopatra, iv, 3. 

Abortive, Richard III, i, 2. Disnatured, King Tear, i, 4. [ii, 1. 

Cautelous, Julius Cccsar, ii, I. Inaidable, All's Well That Ends Well, 

Cautel, Hamlet, i, 3. Unsuppressive, Julitis Ccesar, ii, 1. 
Deracinate, Troilus and Cressida, i, 3; Oppugnancy, Troilus and Cressida, i, 3. 

Henry V., v, 2. Enskied, Measure for Measure, i, 5. 

Surcease, Macbeth, i, 7. Legerity, Hemy V., iv, 1. 

Recordation, id Henry IV., ii, 3. Propinquity, King Lear, i, 1. 

En wheel, Othello, ii, 1. Credent, Hamlet, i, 3. 

Armipotent, All's Well That Ends Well, Sluggardised, The Two Gentlemen of 

iv, 3. Ve?'ona, i, I. 

Knight says, speaking of the word expedient: 1 

Expedient. The word properly means, "that disengages itself from all entan- 
glements." To set at liberty the foot which was held fast is exped-ire. Shakspere 
always uses this word in strict accordance with its derivation, as, in truth, he does 
most words that may be called learned} 

Knight 3 also notes the fact that he uses the word reduce in 
the Latin sense, "to bring back." 

IV. His Universal Learning. 

The range of his studies was not confined to antique tongues 
and foreign languages. He must have read all the books of travel 
which grew out of that age of sea-voyages and explorations. 

Dr. Brinton 4 points out that the idea of Ariel having been 
pegged in the knotty entrails of an oak until freed by Prospero 
was borrowed from the mythology of the Yurucares, a South 
American tribe of Indians, in which the first men were confined in 
the heart of an enormous bole, until the god Tiri let them out by 
cleaving it in twain. He further claims that Caliban is undoubt- 
edly the word Carib, often spelt Caribani and Calibani in olden 
writers; and his "dam's god, Setebvs," was the supreme deity of the 
Patagonians, when first visited by Magellan. 

In The Merchant of Venice we read: 

Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed, 
Unto the tranect, to the common ferry. 5 

1 King John, ii, 1. 2 Knight's Shak., i History, p. 24. 3 Richard III., v, 4. 

4 Myths of the New World, p. 240, note. 5 Act iii, scene 5. 


Of this word Knight says: 

No other example is found of the use of this word in English, and yet there is 
little doubt that the word is correct. T7-anare and trainare are interpreted by 
Florio not only as to draw \ which is the common acceptation, but as to pass or swim 
over. Thus the tranect was most probably the tow-boat of the ferry. x 

In King John we have: 

Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot; 
Some airy devil hovers in the sky, 
And pours down mischief. 2 

Collier changed airy to fiery, "which, we may be sure," he says, 
"was the word of the poet." But Knight turns to Burton and 
shows that he described "aerial spirits or devils, who keep most 
quarter in the air, and cause many tempests, thunder and light- 
ning," etc. And he also referred to the fact that " Paul to the 
Ephesians called them forms of the air.** Knight adds: 

Shakspere knew this curious learning from the schoolmen, but the correctors 
knew nothing about it. 

We have another instance, in the following, where the great 

poet knew a good deal more than his commentators. 

In Romeo and Juliet he says: 

Are you at leisure, holy Father, now; 

Or shall I come to you at evening mass ? 3 

Upon this Richard Grant White says: 

If he became a member of the Church of Rome it must have been after he 
wrote Romeo and Juliet, in which he speaks of " evening mass; " for the humblest 
member of that church knows that there is no mass at vespers. 4 

But we have the authority of the learned Cardinal Bona that 
the name mass was given to the morning and evening prayers 
of the Christian soldiers. Salvazzio states that the name was 
given to the lectures or lessons in matins. In the " Rule of 
St. Aurelian " it is stated that at Christmas and on the Epiphany 
six masses are to be read at matins, from the prophet Isaiah, and six 
from the gospel; whilst on the festivals of martyrs the first mass is 
to be read from the acts of the martyrs. In his rule for nuns the 
same holy Bishop tells them that, as the nights are long, they may 1 
recite three masses at the lectern. As the female sex could not 
act as priests, it is plain that the word mass was formerly the 

1 Knight's Shak. Com., p. 240. 3 Act iv, scene r. 

2 Act iii, scene 2. 4 Life and Genius of Shak., p. 187. 


synonym for prayers, and did not mean, as nowadays, exclusively 
the great sacrifice of the church; and therefore " evening mass " 
simply means the evening service. In fact, as Bishop Clifford 
shows, the word mass or, as it was written in Anglo-Saxon, 
masse, came to be regarded as the synonym for feast ; hence, 
Candlemas, lammas, Michaelmas, etc., are the feast of candles, the 
feast of loaves, the feast of St. Michael, etc. " Moreover, mass 
being the chief religious service of the Catholic Church, the word 
came to be used in the sense of church service in general. Evening- 
mass means evening service or vespers." 

What a curious reaching-out for facts, in a day barren of 
encyclopaedias, is shown in these lines: 

Adrian. Widow Dido, said you? You make me study of that: she was of 
Carthage, not of Tunis. 

Gonzalo. This Tunis, sir, was Carthage. 

Adrian. Carthage? 

Gonzalo, I assure you, Carthage. 1 

V. Our Conclusion. 

We commence our argument, therefore, with this proposition: 
The author of the plays, whoever he may have been, was unques- 
tionably a profound scholar and most laborious student. He had 
read in their own tongues all the great, and some of the obscure 
writers of antiquity; he was familiar with the languages of the 
principal nations of Europe; his mind had compassed all the learn- 
ing of his time and of preceding ages; he had pored over the 
pages of French and Italian novelists; he had read the philosoph- 
ical utterances of the great thinkers of Greece and Rome; and he 
had closely considered the narrations of the explorers who were 
just laying bare the secrets of new islands and continents. It has 
been justly said that the plays could not have been written with- 
out a library, and cannot, to-day, be studied without one. To 
their proper elucidation the learning of the whole world is neces- 
sary. Goethe says of the writer of the plays: "He drew a sponge 
over the table of human knowledge." 

We pass, then, to the question, Did William Shakspere possess 
such a vast mass of information? — could he have possessed it? 

1 Tempest, ii, i. 



Touchstone. Art thou learned ? 

William. No, sir. 

Touchstone. Then learn this of me : to have is to have. 

As You Like It, v, i. 

TT must not be forgotten that the world of three hundred years 
ago was a very different world from that of to-day. 
A young man, at the present time, can receive in the backwoods 
of the United States, or Canada, or in the towns of Australia, an 
education which Cambridge and Oxford could not have afforded 
to the noblemen of England in the sixteenth century. That tre- 
mendous educator, the daily press, had then no existence. Now 
it comes to almost every door, bringing not only the news of the 
whole world, but an abstract of the entire literary and scientific 
knowledge of the age. 

I. England in the Sixteenth Century. 

Three hundred years ago the English-speaking population of the 
world was confined almost altogether to the island of Great Britain, 
and the refinement and culture of the island scarcely extended 
beyond a few towns and the universities. London was the great 
center, not only of politics, but of literature and courtly manners. 
The agricultural population and the yeomanry of the smaller 
towns were steeped to the lips in ignorance, rude and barbarous 
in their manners, and brutal in their modes of life. 

They did not even speak the same language. Goadby tells us 
that, when the militia met from the different counties to organize 
resistance to the invasion of the Spaniards, 

It was hard to catch the words of command, so pronounced were the different 
dialects. 1 

Simpson says : 

If cattle-driving was to be interpreted as levying war, all England at harvest 
tide was in a state of warfare. The disputes about tithes and boundaries were 

1 Goadby, England of Shak., p. 83. 


then usually settled by bands of armed men, and the records of the Star-Chamber 
swarm with such cases. 1 

The cots or dwellings of the humble classes in Shakspere's time 
were, as the haughty Spaniard wrote, in the retgn of Elizabeth's 
sister, built "of sticks and dirt." 

"People," says Richard Grant White, "corresponding in posi- 
tion to those whose means and tastes would now insure them as 
much comfort in their homes as a king has in his palace, and even 
simple elegance beside, then lived in houses which in their best 
estate would seem at the present day rude, cheerless and confined, 
to any man not bred in poverty." 2 

II. Stratford in the Time of Shakspere. 

The lives of the people were coarse, barren and filthy. 

Thorold Rogers says: 

In the absence of all winter roots and herbs, beyond a few onions, a diet of 
salted provisions, extending over so long a period, would be sure to engender 
disease; . . . and, as a matter of fact, scurvy and leprosy, the invariable results of 
an unwholesome diet, were endemic, the latter malignant and infectious in 
medieval England. The virulence of these diseases, due in the first instance to 
unwholesome food, was aggravated by the inconceivably filthy habits of the people* 

Richard Grant White says: 

Stratford then contained about fifteen hundred inhabitants, who dwelt chiefly 
in thatched cottages, which straggled over the ground, too near together for rural 
beauty, too far apart to seem snug and neighborly; and scattered through the 
gardens and orchards around the best of these were neglected stables, cow-yards 
and sheep-cotes. Many of the meaner houses were without chimneys or glazed 
windows. The streets were cumbered with logs and blocks, and foul with offal, 
mud, muck-heaps and reeking stable refuse, the accumulation of which the town 
ordinances and the infliction of fines could not prevent even before the doors of the 
better sort of people. The very first we hear of John Shakespeare himself, in 1552, 
is that he and a certain Humphrey Reynolds and Adrian Quiney " fecerunt 
sterquinarium," in the quarter called Henley Street, against the order of the court; 
for which dirty piece of business they were "in misericordiaf as they well 
deserved. But the next year John Shakespeare and Adrian Quiney repeated the 
unsavory offense, and this time in company with the bailiff himself. 4 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

The sanitary condition of the thoroughfares of Stratford-on-Avon was, to our 
present notions, simply terrible. Under-surface drainage of every kind was then 
an unknown art in the district. There was a far greater amount of moisture in 
the land than would now be thought possible, and streamlets of water-power suffi- 

1 School of Shak., vol. i, p. 60. 3 Work and Wages, Thorold Rogers, p. 96. 

2 Life and Genius ofShak., p. 17. 4 Life and Genius of S/iak., p. 21. 


cient for the operation of corn-mills meandered through the town. This general 
humidity intensified the evils arising from the want of scavengers, or other effect- 
ive appliances for the preservation of cleanliness. House-slops were recklessly 
thrown into ill-kept channels that lined the sides of unmetaled roads; pigs and 
geese too often reveled in the puddles and ruts, while here and there were small 
middens, ever in the course of accumulation, the receptacles of offal and of every 
species of nastiness. A regulation for the removal of these collections to certain 
specified localities, interspersed through the borough and known as common 
dung-hills, appears to have been the extent of the interference that the authorities 
ventured or cared to exercise in such matters. Sometimes when the nuisance was 
thought to be sufficiently flagrant, they made a raid on those inhabitants who had 
suffered their refuse to accumulate largely in the highways. On one of these 
occasions ; in April, 1552, John Shakespeare was fined the sum of twelve pence for 
having amassed what was no doubt a conspicuous sterquinarium before his house 
in Henley Street, and under these unsavory circumstances does the history of the 
poet's father commence in the records of England. It is sad to be compelled to 
admit that there was little excuse for his negligence, one of the public stores of filth 
being within a stone's throto of his residence. ' 

The people of Stratford were densely ignorant. At the time of 
Shakspere's birth, only six aldermen of the town, out of nineteen, 
could write their names; and of the thirteen who could not read or 
write, Shakspere's father, John Shakspere, was one. 

Knight says: 

We were reluctant to yield our assent to Malone's assertion that Shakspere's 
father had a mark to himself. The marks are not distinctly affixed to each name 
in this document. But subsequent discoveries establish the fact that he used two 
marks — one something like an open pair of compasses, the other the common cross.' 2 

III. Shakspere's Family Totally Uneducated. 

Shakspere's whole family were illiterate. He was the first of 
his race we know of who was able to read and write. His father and 
mother, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and cousins — all 
signed their names, on the few occasions when they were obliged 
to sign them, with crosses. His daughter Judith could not read 
or write. The whole population around him were in the same 

The highest authority upon these questions says: 

Exclusive of Bibles, church services, psalters and educational manuals, there 
were certainly not more than two or three dozen oooks, if so many, in the whole 

The copy of the black-letter English History, so often depicted as well thumbed 
by Shakespeare, in his father's parlor, never existed out of the imagination. 3 

1 Outlines Life ofShak., p. 18. 2 Knight's Skak. Biography, p. 17. 

3 Halliwell-Phillipps, Life ofShak., p. 42. 



Goadby says: 

The common people were densely ignorant. They had to pick up their 
mother tongue as best they could. The first English grammar was not published 
until 1586. [This was after Shakspere had finished his education.] It is evident 
that much schooling was impossible, for the necessary books did not exist. The 
horn-book for teaching the alphabet would almost exhaust the resources of any common 
day schools that might exist in the towns and villages. Little if any English was 


Prof. Thorold Rogers says: 

Sometimes perhaps, in the days after the Reformation, a more than ordinarily 
opulent ecclesiastic, having no family ties, would train up some clever rustic child, 
teach him and help him on to the university. But, as a rule, since that event, 
there was no educated person in the parish beyond the parson, and he had the anxieties 
of a narrow fortune and a numerous family. 2 

The Rev John Shaw, who was temporary chaplain in a village 

in Lancashire in 1644, tells of an old man of sixty years of age, 

whose whole knowledge of Jesus Christ had been derived from a 

miracle play "'Oh, sir,' said he, 'I think I heard of that man 

you speak of once in a play at Kendall called Corpus ChrisH 

Play where there was a man on a tree and blood ran down. 9 " 

IV. The Universities of That Day. 

Even the universities were not such schools as the name would 

to-day imply. 

The state of education was almost as unsettled as that of religion. The Uni- 
versities of Cambridge and Oxford were thronged with poor scholars, and eminent 
professors taught in the schools and colleges. But the Reformation had made sad 
havoc with their buildings and libraries, and the spirit of amusement had affected 
their studies. 3 

The students turned much more readily to dissipation than to 
literature. In the year 1570, the scholars of Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge, consumed 2,250 barrels of beer! 4 

The knowledge of Greek had sensibly declined, but Latin was still cultivated 
with considerable success. 5 

The number of scholars of the university fit for schoolmasters was small. 
"Whereas they make one scholar they n.arre ten," averred Peacham, who describes 
one specimen as whipping his boys on a cold morning "for no other purpose than 
to get himself a heate." 6 

The country swarmed to such an extent with scholars of the 
universities, who made a living as beggars, that Parliament had to 
interfere against the nuisance. By the act of 14th Elizabeth, "all 

1 Goadby, England of Slink. , p. 101. 3 Goadby, England, p. 97. 5 Ibid., p. 97. 

2 Rogers, Work and linages, p. 85. * Ibid., p. 73. 6 Ibid., p. 99. 


scholars of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge that go about 
begging, not being authorized under the seal of said universities," 
are declared "vagabonds," and punishable as such. 

V. "A Bookless Neighborhood." 

If this was the condition of the two great "twins of learning," 
sole centers of light in the darkness of a barbarous age, we can 
readily conceive what must have been the means of public educa- 
tion in the dirty little hamlet of Stratford, with its fifteen hundred 
untaught souls, its two hundred and fifty householders, and its 
illiterate officials. 

It was, as Halliwell-Phillipps has called it, "a bookless neigh- 

We have the inventory of the personal property of Robert 
Arden, Shakspere's mother's father, and the inventory of the per- 
sonal property of Agnes Arden, his widow, and the will of the 
same Agnes Arden, and any number of other wills, but in them all, 
in the midst of a plentiful array of "oxenne," "kyne," "sheepe," 
"pigges," "basons," "chafyng dyches," "toweles and dyepers," 
"shettes," "frying panes," "gredyerenes," "barrelles," "hansaws," 
"knedyng troghs," "poringers," "sawcers," "pott-hookes," and 
"linkes," we do not find reference to a single book, not even to a 
family Bible or a prayer-book. Everything speaks of a rude, coarse 
and unintellectual people. Here is an extract from the will of 
Agnes Arden, Shakspere's grandmother: 

I geve to the said Jhon Hill my best platter of the best sort, and my best 
platter of the second sorte, and j poringer, one sawcer and one best candlesticke. 
And I also give to the said Jhon one paire of sheetes. I give to the said Jhon 
my second pot, my best pan, . . . and one cow with the white rump. 

"One John Shakspeare, of Budbrook, near Warwick, considered 

it a sufficient mark of respect to his father-in-law to leave him 'his 

best boots.' " 1 

VI. A Gross Improbability. 

It would indeed be a miracle if out of this vulgar, dirty, illiter- 
ate family came the greatest genius, the profoundest thinker, the 
broadest scholar that has adorned the annals of the human race. 
It is possible. It is scarcely probable. 

1 Outlines Life of Shak., p. 183. 


Professor Grant Allen, writing in the Science Monthly of March 
1882 (p. 591), and speaking of the life of Sir Charles Lyell, says: 

Whence did he come? What conditions went to beget him? From what 
stocks were his qualities derived, and why ? These are the questions that must 
henceforth always be first asked when we have to deal with the life of any great 
man. For we have now learned that a great man is no unaccountable accident, no 
chance result of a toss-up on the part of nature, but simply the highest outcome 
and final efflorescence of many long ancestral lines, converging at last toward a 
single happy combination. 

Herbert Spencer says: 

If you assume that two European parents may produce a negro child, or that 
from woolly-haired prognathous Papuans may come a fair, straight-haired infant 
of Caucasian type, you may assume that the advent of the great man can occur 
anywhere and under any circumstances. If, disregarding these accumulated 
results of experience which current proverbs and the generalizations of psycholo- 
gists alike express, you suppose that a Newton might be born in a Hottentot 
family; that a Milton might spring up among the Andamanese; that a Howard or a 
Clarkson might have Fiji parents: then you may proceed with facility to explain 
social progress as caused by the actions of the great man. But if all biological 
science, enforcing all popular belief, convinces you that by no possibility will an 
Aristotle come from a father and mother with facial angles of fifty degrees; and 
that out of a tribe of cannibals, whose chorus in preparation for a feast of human 
flesh is a kind of rhythmical roaring, there is not the remotest chance of a 
Beethoven arising: then you must admit that the genesis of the great man depends 
on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he 
appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown. 

And it is to this social state, to this squalid village, that the 
great thinker of the human race, after association, as we are told, 
with courts and wits and scholars and princes, returned in middle 
life. He left intellectual London, which was then the center of 
mental activity, and the seat of whatever learning and refinement 
were to be found in England, not to seek the peace of rural land- 
scapes and breathe the sweet perfumes of gardens and hedge-rows, 
but to sit down contentedly in the midst of pig-sties, and to inhale 
the malarial odors from reeking streets and stinking ditches. To 
show that this is no exaggeration, let me state a few facts. 

Henry Smith, of Stratford, in 1605, is notified to "plucke downe 
his pigges cote, which is built ner^ the chappie wall, and the house 
of office there." And John Sadler, miller, is fined for bringing feed 
and feeding his hogs in "chappie lane." In 1613 John Rogers, the 
vicar, erected a pig-sty immediately opposite the back court of 
Shakspere's residence. For one hundred and fifty years after 
Shakspere's death, Chapel Ditch, which lay next to the New Place 



Garden, " was a receptacle for all manner of filth that any person 
chose to put there." 1 It was four or five feet wide and filled for 
a foot deep with flowing filth. More than one hundred years 
after Shakspere's death, to-wit, in 1734, the Court Leet of Strat- 
ford presented Joseph Sawbridge, in Henley Street, " for not car- 
ring in his muck before his door." 2 

The houses were thatched with reeds. 3 

The streets were narrow, irregular and without sidewalks; full 
of refuse, and lively with pigs, poultry and ravenous birds. 4 

The highways were "foule, long and cumbersome." 5 Good 
bridges were so rare that in some cases they were ascribed to the 
devil. There was no mail service except between London and a 
few principal points. The postage upon a letter from Lynn to 
London was 26s. 8d., equal in value to about §30 of our money 
to-day. The stage wagons moved at the rate o.f two miles an hour. 
Places twelve miles apart were then practically farther removed 
than towns would now be one hundred miles apart. There was 
little or no intercourse among the common people. Men lived and 
died where they were born. 

There were no carriages. The Queen imported a Dutch coach 
in 1564, the sight of which "put both man and horse in amaze- 
ment," remarks Taylor, the water poet. "Some said it was a great 
crab-shell, brought out of China, and some imagined it to be one 
of the pagan temples, in which the cannibals adored the devil." 
There were few chimneys; dining-room and kitchen were all one; 
"each one made his fire against the reredrosse in the hall where he 
dined and dressed his meat," says Harrison. The beds were of 
straw, with wooden bolsters (like the Chinese); the people ate out 
of wooden platters with wooden spoons. The churches were with- 
out pews and full of fleas. 6 

VII. The EnCxLish People in the Sixteenth Century. 

The people were fierce, jovial, rude, hearty, brutal and pugna- 
cious. They were great eaters of beef and drinkers of beer. We 
find them accurately described in the plays: 

1 Outlines Life of Shak., p. 429. 3 Goadby's England of Shak., p. 16. 5 Ibid. 

2 Ibid., p. 205. 4 Ibid. 6 Ibid., p. 75. 



The men do sympathise with the mastiffs, in robustious and rough coming-on, 
leaving their wits with their wives; and then give them great meals of beef, and 
iron and steel, they will eat like wolves and fight like devils. 1 

They lived out of doors; they had few books, and, of course, no 
newspapers. Their favorite amusements were bear-baitings, bull- 
baitings, cock-fights, dog-fights, foot-ball and " rough-and-tumble 
fighting." 2 The cock, having crowed when Peter denied his Mas- 
ter, was regarded as the devil's bird, and many clergymen enjoined 
cock-throwing, or throwing of sticks at cocks, as a pious exercise 
and agreeable to God. 

There were few vegetables upon the tables, and these were largely 
imported from Holland. The leaves of the turnip were used as a 
salad. Vegetables were regarded as medicines. No forks were used 
until 161 1, when the custom was imported from Italy. Tea came into 
England in 1610, and coffee in 1652. Beer or wine was used with 
all meals. Men and women went to the taverns and drank together. 

The speech of the country people was a barbarous jargon: we 
have some specimens of it in the plays. 

Take, for instance, the following from Lear: 

Stewart. Let go his own. 

Edgar. Chill not go, zir, 

Without vurther 'casion. . . . 

Let poor volke passe: and chud ha' bin zwaggerd out of my life, 'twould not 
ha' bin zo long as 'tis, by a vortnight. . . . Keepe out of che vor'ye or ice try 
whither your Costard or my Ballow be the harder; chill be plaine with you. 3 

VIII. A Country School in Shakspere's Time. 

Halliwell-Phillipps says, speaking of Shakspere's education in 
"the horn-book and the A, B, C ": 

There were few persons at that time at Stratford-on-Avon capable of initiating 
him even into these preparatory accomplishments. 4 

What manner of school was it in which he received all the edu- 
cation ever imparted to him ? 

The following is Roger Ascham's description of schools and 

schoolmasters in his day, as quoted by Appleton Morgan, in a 

newspaper article: 

It is pitie that commonly more care is had, yea, and that among verie wise 
men, to find out rather a cunnynge man for their horse, than a cunnynge man for 

1 Henry V., iii, 7. 3 Act iv, scene 6. 

2 Goadby's England, p. 69. 4 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life of Shak., p. 24. 


their children. 1 . . . The master mostly being as ignorant as the child, what to 
say properly and fitly to the matter. 2 They for the most part so behave themselves 
that their very name is hateful to the scholar, who trembleth at their coming-in, 
rejoiceth at their absence, and looketh him returned in the face as his deadly 

Mr. Morgan continues: 

To the charges of undue severity, says Drake, "we must add the accusation 
of immorality and buffoonery. They were put on the stage along with the zany 
and pantaloon, to be laughed at." 3 

As to school books, or other implements of instruction, except the following, 
viz. (to cite them in the order in which they were prized and employed): First, the 
birch rod; second, the church catechism; third, the horn-book or criss-cross row. 
Drake says, 4 the thirty-ninth injunction of Elizabeth enacted that every grammar 
school "shall teach the grammar set forth by King Henry the VIII., of noble 
memory, and continued in the reign of Edward the VI., and none other." This 
was the Lily's Latin Grammar, and its study appears to have constituted the 
difference between a "school" and a "grammar school." Drake adds, "There 
was, however, another book which we may almost confidently affirm young 
Shakspere to have studied under the tuition of the master of the free grammar 
school at Stratford, the production of one Ockland, a panegyric on the characters 
and government of the reign of Elizabeth and her ministers, which was enjoined 
by authority to be read in every grammar school." Another text-book which may 
have been extant was the one referred to by Ascham as follows: " I have formerly 
seen Mr. Horman's book, who was a master of Eton school. The book itself could 
be of no great use, for, as I remember, it was only a collection of single sentences 
without order or method, put into Latin." But the rod was for long years the 
principal instructor. Peter Mason, a pupil of Nicholas Udal, master of Eton, 
says he used to receive fifty-three lashes in the course of one Latin exercise. At 
that temple of learning, and from Dr. Busby's time downward, the authorities 
agree in giving it the foremost place in English curriculums. 

In The Compleat Gentleman, edition of 1634, the author says a country 
school teacher "by no entreaty would teach any scholar further than his 
(the scholar's) father had learned before him; as, if he had but only learned 
to read English, the son, though he went with him seven years, should go 
no further. His reason was that they would otherwise prove saucy rogues and 
control their fathers. Yet these are they that have our hopeful gentry under 
their charge." 

Nay, in 1771, when Shakspere had been dead a century and a half, things 
were about as he left them. John Britton, who attended the provincial 
grammar school of Kingston, St. Nicholas parish, in Wilts, about 1771-80, says 
that he was taught the "criss-cross row," imparted by the learned pedagogue 
as follows: 

Teacher — " Commether Billy Chubb, an' breng the horren book. Ge ma the 
vester in the wendow, you Pat Came. What! be a sleepid? I'll wake ye! Now, 
Billy, there's a good bway; ston still there, an' mind what I da za ta ye, an' whan 
I da point na! Criss-cross girta little A, B, C. That's right, Billy; you'll zoon 
lam criss-cross row; you'll zoon averg it, Bobby Jiffry! You'll zoon be a scoll- 
ard ! A's a purty chubby bwoy, Lord love en! " 

1 IVorA-s, Bennett's edition, p. 212. 3 Shak. and His Times, vol. i, p. 97. 

2 Ibid., p. 12. * Ibid., p. 26. 


IX. English not Taught in the Schools of That Day. 

And it is very doubtful, as we have seen, whether English was 
taught at all in that Stratford school. It certainly was not in 
most of the grammar schools of England at that time. . Even White 
is forced to admit this. He says: 

For book instruction there was the free grammar school of Stratford, well 
endowed by Thomas Jolyffe, in the reign of Edward IV., where, unless it differed 
from all others of its kind, he could have learned Latin and some Greek. Some 
English, too; but not much, for English was held in scorn by the scholars of those 
days, and long after. 1 

It will readily be conceded that in such a town, among such a 
people, and with such a school, Shakspere could have learned but 
little, and that little of the rudest kind. And to this conclusion 
even so stout a Shaksperean as Richard Grant White is driven. 
He says, in a recent number of the Atlantic magazine: 

Shakespeare was the son of a Warwickshire peasant, or very inferior yeoman, 
by the daughter of a well-to-do farmer. Both his father and mother were so igno- 
rant that they signed with a mark instead of writing their names. Few of their 
friends could write theirs. Shakespeare probably had a little instruction in Latin 
in the Stratford grammar school. When, at twenty-two years of age, he fled from 
Stratford to London, we may be sure that he had never seen half a dozen books other 
than his horn-book, his Latin accidence and a Bible. Probably there were not half a 
dozen others in all Stratford. The notion that he was once an attorney's clerk is 
blown to pieces. 

Where, then, did he acquire the vast learning demonstrated by 
the plays? 

X. Shakspere's Youthful Habits. 

There can be no doubt that the child is father to the man. 
While little Francis Bacon's youthful associates were enjoying their 
game of ball, the future philosopher w r as at the end of a tunnel 
experimenting in echoes. Pope "lisped in numbers, for the num- 
bers came." At nine years of age Charles Dickens (a sort of lesser 
Shakespeare) knew all about Falstaff, and the robbery at Gad's 
Hill, and had established the hope in his heart that he might some 
day own the handsome house in that place in which he afterward 
resided. It was his habit to creep away to a garret in his father's 
house, and there, enraptured, pore oyer the pages of Roderick Random, 
Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Arabian Nights, 

1 Life and Genius of Shak., p. 30. 



The Vicar of Wakefield, and Robinso?i Crusoe. Dr. Glennie tells us of 
Byron, that in his boyhood " his reading in history and poetry was 
far beyond the usual standard of his age. . . . He was a great 
reader and admirer of the Old Testament, and had read it through 
and through before he was eight years old." At fifteen years of 
age Robert Burns had read The Spectator, Pope's works, some of 
Shakespeare's plays, Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, Allan 
Ramsay's works, and a number of religious books, and "had 
studied the English grammar and gained some knowledge of the 

Genius is a powerful predisposition, so strong that it overrules 
a man's whole life, from boyhood to the grave. The greatness of 
a mind is in proportion to its receptivity, its capacity to assimilate 
a vast mass of food; it is an intellectual stomach that eliminates 
not muscle but thought. Its power holds a due relation to its 
greed — it is an eternal and insatiable hunger. In itself it is but 
an instrument. It can work only upon external material. 

The writer of the plays recognizes this truth. He says, speaking 
of Cardinal Wolsey: 

From his cradle 
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one, 
Exceeding wise, fair-spoken and persuading. 1 

The commentators have tried to alter the punctuation of 
this sentence. They have asked, "How could he be 'a scholar 
from his cradle ' ? " What the poet meant was that the extraor- 
dinary capacity to receive impressions and acquire knowledge, 
which constitutes the basis of the education of the infant, con- 
tinued with unabated force all through the life of the great church- 
man. The retention of this youthful impressibility of the mind is 
one of the essentials of greatness. 

And again the poet says: 

This morning, like the spirit of a youth 
That means to be of note, begins betimes} 

How did William Shakspere, the Stratford-on-Avon boy, " begin 
betimes " ? 

In his fourteenth year it is supposed he left school; but 
there is really no proof that he ever attended school for an hour. 

1 Henry VIII., iv, 2. 2 Antony and Cleopatra, iv, 2. 


White expresses the opinion that "William Shakespeare was 
obliged to leave school early and earn his living." 

At sixteen, tradition says, he was apprenticed to a butcher. 

Aubrey says: 

I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbors that when he was a 
boy he exercised his father's trade; but when he killed a calf he would doe it in a 
high style and make a speech. 

Rowe, speaking for Betterton, says, " Upon his leaving school 
he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his 
father proposed to him," that of a dealer in wool. 

Neither the pursuit of butcher or wool-dealer could have been 
very favorable to the acquisition of knowledge in a rude age and a 
" bookless neighborhood." 

But perhaps the boy was of a very studious nature and his 
industry eked out the poor materials available ? Let us see: 

There is a tradition of his youth setting forth that in the neigh- 
boring village of Bidford there was a society — not a literary society, 
not a debating club like that of which Robert Burns was a member 
— but a brutal crew calling themselves " The Bidford Topers," 
whose boast was that they could drink more beer than the " topers " 
of any of the adjoining intellectual villages. They challenged 
Stratford, and among the gallant young men who accepted the chal- 
lenge was William Shakspere. The " Bidford topers" were too 
many for the Stratford " topers," and the latter attempted to 
walk home again, but were so besotted that their legs gave out, 
and they spent the night by the roadside under a large crab-tree, 
which stands to this day and is known as " Shakspere's crab." As the 
imagination sees him, stretched sodden and senseless, beneath the 
crab-tree, we may apply to him the words of the real Shakespeare: 

O monstrous beast ! — how like a swine he lies. 1 

The first appearance of the father is connected with a filth- 
heap. The first recorded act of the son is this spirituelle contest. 

The next incident in the life of Shakspere occurred when he 
was nineteen years old. This was his marriage to a girl of twenty- 
seven, that is to say, eight years older than himself. Six months 
after the marriage their first child was born. 

1 Taming of the Shrew. 



But perhaps, after this inauspicious match, he settled down and 
devoted himself to study ? Not at all. 

The Reverend William Fulman, an antiquary, who died in 
1688, bequeathed his manuscript biographical memoranda to 
the Reverend Richard Davies, rector of Sapperton, in Gloucester- 
shire, and archdeacon of Lichfield, who died in 1708. To a note 
of Fulman's, which barely records Shakspere's birth, death 
and occupation, Davies made brief additions, the principal of 
which is that William Shakspere was " much given to all 
unluckinesse in stealing venison and rabbits, particularly from 
Sir Lucy, who had him oft whipt and sometimes imprisoned, 
and at last made him fly his native county, to his great ad- 

The man who wrote this was probably born within little more 
than twenty-five years after Shakspere's death. The tradition 
comes to us also from other sources. 

The same story is told by Rowe, on the authority of Betterton, 
who went down to Stratford to collect materials for a life of 
Shakspere. Rowe says: 

He had, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill com- 
pany, and amongst them some, that made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, 
engaged him more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of 
Charlecote, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, 
as he thought, somewhat too severely, and in order to revenge that ill- 
usage he made a ballad upon him. And although this, probably the first 
essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter that 
it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree that he was obliged 
to leave his business and family in Warwickshire for some time and shelter 
himself in London. 

A pretended specimen of the ballad has come down to us, a 
rude and vulgar thing: 

A parliament member, a justice of peace, 
At home a poor scare-crow, at London an asse. 
If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it, 
Then Lucy is lowsie whatever befall it. 

He thinks himself great, 

Yet an ass is his state; 
We allow by his ears but with asses to mate. 
If Lucy is lowsie as some volke miscalle it, 
Sing lowsie Lucy whatever befall it. 

And touching this Sir Thomas Lucy, Richard Grant White, 
after visiting Stratford and Charlecote, speaks as follows: 


This was a truly kindly nature, we may almost say a noble soul. I am with 
Sir Thomas in this matter, and if Shakespeare suffered any discipline at his hands, 
I believe that he deserved it. 1 

XI. Shakspere Goes to London. 

He proceeded to London " somewhere about 1586 or 1587," say 
his biographers. His twin children, Hamnet and Judith, had been 
born in February, 1585. 

We can readily conceive his condition. His father was bank- 
rupt; his own family rapidly increasing — his wife had just been 
delivered of twins; his home was dirty, bookless and miserable; 
his companions degraded; his pursuits low; he had been whipped 
and imprisoned, and he fled, probably penniless, to the great city. 
As his admirer, Richard Grant White, says, " we may be sure he had 
never seen half a dozen books other than his horn-book, his Latin 
accidence, and a Bible." There is indeed no certainty that he had 
ever seen even the last work, for neither father nor mother could 
read or write, and had no use for, and do not seem to have pos- 
sessed, a Bible. 

Says Halliwell-Phillipps : 

Removed prematurely from school; residing with illiterate relatives in a book- 
less neighborhood; thrown into the midst of occupations adverse to scholastic prog- 
ress, it is difficult to believe that when he left Stratford he was not all but destitute 
of polished accomplishments. 2 

To London fled all the adventurers, vagabonds and paupers of 
the realm. They gathered around the play-houses. These were 
rude structures, open to the heavens — sometimes the roofless yard 
of a tavern served as the theater, and a rough scaffold as the stage. 
Here the ruffians, the thieves, the vagabonds, the apprentices, the 
pimps and the prostitutes assembled — a stormy, dirty, quarrelsome 
multitude. Here William Shakspere came. He was, we will con- 
cede, bright, keen and active, intent on getting ahead in the world, 
fond of money, but poor as poverty and ignorant as barbarism. 
What could he do? 

XII. He Becomes a Horse-holder. 
He took to the first thing that presented itself, holding horses 
at the door of the play-house for the young gentlemen who came to 
witness the performance. And this, tradition assures us, he did. 

1 England Without and Within, p. 514. 2 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life o/Shak., p. 63. 


He proved trustworthy, and the youthful aristocrats would call, we 
are told, for Will Shakspere to hold their horses. Then his busi- 
ness faculty came into play, and he organized a band of assistants, 
who were known then, and long afterward, as " Shakspere's boys." 
Gradually he worked his way among the actors. 

XIII. He Becomes a Call-boy, and then an Actor. 

Betterton heard that " he was received into the company at first 
in a very mean rank;" and the octogenarian parish clerk of Strat- 
ford told Dowdall, in 1693, that he "was received into the play- 
house as a serviture " — that is, as a servant, a supernumerary, or 
"supe." Tradition says he was the prompter's call-boy, his duty 
being to call the actors when it was time for them to go upon the 
stage. In time he rose a step higher: he became an actor. He 
never was a great actor, but performed, we are told, insignificant 
parts. "He seems," says White, "never to have risen high in this 
profession. The Ghost in Hamlet, and old Adam in As You Like It, 
were the utmost of his achievements in this direction." 

It must have taken him some time, say a year or two at the very 
least, to work up from being a vagabond horse-holder to the career 
of a regular actor. We will see, when we come to discuss the chro- 
nology of the plays, that they began to appear almost as soon as he 
reached London, if not before, although Shakspere's name was not 
connected with them for some years thereafter. And the earliest 
plays, as we shall see, were the most scholarly, breathing the very 
atmosphere of the academy. 

XIV. No Tradition Refers to Him as a Student or Scholar. 

There was certainly nothing in his new surroundings in London 
akin to Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish and Danish studies; 
there was nothing akin to medical, musical and philosophical 

And assuredly his life in Stratford, reckless, improvident, dissi- 
pated, degraded, does not represent the studious youth who, in 
some garret, would pore over the great masters, and fill his mind 
with information, and his soul with high aspirations. There is not 
a single tradition which points to any such element in his character. 

Aubrey asserts that, from the time of leaving school until his 
departure for Warwickshire, Shakspere was a schoolmaster. We 


have seen that it did not require a very extensive stock of learning 

to constitute a schoolmaster in that age; but even this, the only 

tradition of his life which points to anything even akin to scholarly 

accomplishments, must be abandoned. 

Lord Campbell says: 

Unfortunately, however, the pedagogical theory is not only quite unsupported 
"by evidence, but it is not consistent with established facts. From the registration 
of the baptism of Shakespeare's children, and other well authenticated circum- 
stances, we know that he continued to dwell in Stratford, or the immediate neigh- 
borhood, till he became a citizen of London: there was no other school in Stratford 
except the endowed grammar school, where he had been a pupil; of this he cer- 
tainly never was master, for the unbroken succession of masters from the reign 
of Edward VI. till the reign of James I. is of record; . . . and there is no trace of 
there having been any usher employed in this school. 1 

Only a miracle of studiousness could have acquired, in a few 
years, upon a basis of total ignorance and bad habits, the culture 
and refinement manifested in the earliest plays; and but a few 
years elapsed between the time when he fled scourged from Strat- 
ford and the time when the plays began to appear, in his name, in 
London. Eut plays, now believed to have been written by the 
same hand that wrote the Shakespeare plays, were on the boards 
before he left Stratford. The twins, Judith and Hamnet, were born 
in February, 1585, Shakspere being then not yet twenty-one years 
of age, and we will see hereafter that Hainlet appeared for the first 
time in 1585 or 1587. If he had shown, anywhere in his career, such 
a trait of immense industry and scholarly research, some tradition 
would have reached us concerning it. We have traditions that he 
w r as the father of another man's supposed son (Sir William Dave- 
nant); and we are told of a licentious amour in which he outwitted 
Burbage; and we hear of w<?/-combats in a tavern; but not one 
word comes down to us of books, or study, or industry, or art. 

XV. The "Venus and Adonis." 

"The first heir of his invention," he tells us, was "the Venus and 
Ado7iis" published in 1593; and many think that this means that he 
wrote it before any of the plays, and even before he left Stratford. 

Richard Grant White says: 

In any case, we may be sure that the poem [ Venus and Adonis] was written 
some years before it was printed; and it may have been brought by the young poet 

1 Shakespeare' s Legal Acquirements, p. 19. 


from Stratford in manuscript, and read by a select circle, according to the custom 
of the time, before it was published. 

But here is a difficulty that presents itself: the people of War- 
wickshire did not speak the English of the London court, but a 
patois almost as different from it as the Lowland Scotch of Burns is 
to-day different from the English of Westminster. 

To give the reader some idea of the kind of language used by 
Shakspere during his youth, and by all the uneducated people of 
his county, I select, at random, a few words from the Warwick- 
shire dialect: 

Tageous, troublesome; Fameled, starving; 

Kiver, a butter tub; Brevet, to snuff, to sniff; 

Grinsard, the turf; Unked, solitary; 

Slammocks, untidy; Roomthy, spacious; 

He's teddin, he's shaking up hay; Mulled, sleepy; 

He do fash hisself, he troubles himself; Glir, to slide; 

Cob, thick; Work, a row, a quarrel; 

Gidding, thoughtless; Whittaw, a saddler; 

jackbonnial, a tadpole; Still, respectable; 

Cade, tame; Her's childing, she is with child; 

A' done worritin me, stop teasing me; A' form, properly; 

Let's gaig no', let's take a swing; Yawrups, stupid; 
Franzy, passionate; etc. 

Let any one read the Venus and Adonis, and he will find it 
written in the purest and most cultured English of the age, without 
a word in it of this Warwickshire patois. 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

It is extremely improbable that an epic so highly finished, and so completely 
devoid of patois, could have been produced under the circumstances of his then 
domestic surroundings. 1 

In fact, if we except the doggerel libel on Sir Thomas Lucy, with 
its " volke " (and the authenticity of even this is denied by the com- 
mentators), Shakspere never wrote a line impregnated with the 
•dialect of the people among whom he lived from childhood to man- 
hood. All attempts to show the peculiar phraseology of Warwick- 
shire in his writings have failed. A few words have been found that 
were used in Warwickshire, but investigation has shown that they 
were also used in the dialects of other portions of England. 

White says: 

As long as two hundred years after that time the county of each member of 
Parliament was betrayed by his tongue; but then the speech of the cultivated 

1 Outlines Life of Shak., p. 71. 



people of Middlesex and vicinity had become for all England the undisputed stand- 
ard. Northumberland, or Cornwall, or Lancashire, might have produced Shake- 
speare's mind; but had he lived in any one of these counties, or in another, like 
them remote in speech as in locality from London, and written for his rural neigh- 
bors instead of the audiences of the Blackfriars and the Globe, the music of his 
poetry would have been lost in sounds uncouth and barbarous to the general ear, 
and the edge of his fine utterance would have been turned upon the stony rough- 
ness of his rustic phraseology. 1 

White seems to forget that the jargon of Warwickshire was 
well nigh as uncouth and barbarous as that of Northumberland 
or Cornwall. 

Appleton Morgan says: 

Now, even if, in Stratford, the lad had mastered all the Latin and Greek 
extant, this poem, dedicated to Southampton, coming from his pen, is a mystery, if 
not a miracle. The genius of Robert Burns found its expression in the idiom of 
his father and his mother, in the dialect he heard around him, and into which he 
was born. When he came to London and tried to warble in urban English, his 
genius dwindled into formal commonplace. But William Shakespeare, a peasant, 
born in the heart of Warwickshire, without schooling or practice, pours forth the 
purest and most sumptuous of English, unmixed with the faintest trace of that 
Warwickshire patois that his neighbors and coetaneans spoke — the language of his 
own fireside. 2 

And Shakespeare prefaced the Venus and Adonis with a Latin 

quotation from the Amoves of Ovid. Halliwell-Phillipps, an earnest 

Shaksperean, says: 

It is hardly possible that the Amores of Ovid, whence he derived his earliest 
motto, could have been one of his school books. 3 

No man can doubt that the Venus and Adonis was the work of a 

scholar in whom the intellectual faculties vastly preponderated 

over the animal. Coleridge notices — 

The utter aloofness of the poet's own feelings from those of which he is at once 
the painter and the analyst. 

Says Dowden: 

The subjects of these poems did not possess him and compel him to render 
them into art. The poet sat himself down before each to accomplish an exhaustive 
study of it. 

Hazlitt says: 

These poems appear to us like a couple of ice houses. They are about as hard, 
as glittering and as cold. 

It is not possible for the human mind to bring these beautiful 

poems, written in such perfect English, so cold, so passionless, so 

1 Life and Genius of Shah., p. 202. 2 The Shakespeare Myth, p. 41. 

3 Outlines Life of Shah., p. 63. 



cultured, so philosophical, so scholastic, into connection with the 
first inventions of the boy we have seen lying out drunk in the 
fields, poaching, rioting, whipped, imprisoned, and writing vulgar 
doggerel, below the standard of the most ordinary intellect. Com- 
pare for one instant: 

A Parliament member, a justice of peace, 
At home a poor scare-crow, at London an asse. 
He thinks himself great, yet an ass is his state, 
Condemned for his ears with asses to mate, 
with — 

Oh, what a sight it was wistly to view 

How she came stealing to the wayward boy ! 
To note the fighting conflict of her hue ! 
How white and red each other did destroy ! 
But now her cheek was pale, and by and by 
It flashed forth fire, as lightning from the sky. 1 

Can any one believe that these two passages were born in the 
same soul and fashioned in the same mind ? 

A rough but strong genius, coming even out of barbarian train- 
ing, but thrown into daily contact with dramatic entertainments, 
might have begun to imitate the works he was familiar with; 
might gradually have drifted into play-making. But here we learn 
that the first heir of his invention was an ambitious attempt at a 
literary performance based on a classical fable, and redolent of the 
air of the court and the schools. It is incomprehensible. 

Even Hallam, years ago, was struck by the incongruity between 

Shakspere's life and works. He says: 

If we are not yet come to question his [Shakespeare's] unity, as we do that of 
"the blind old man of Scio's rocky isle" — (an improvement in critical acuteness 
doubtless reserved for a distant posterity), we as little feel the power of identifying 
the young man who came up from Stratford, was afterwards an indifferent player 
in a London theater, and retired to his native place in middle life, with the author 
of Macbeth and Lear} 

Emerson says: 

Read the antique documents extricated, analyzed and compared, by the assidu- 
ous Dyce and Collier; and now read one of those skiey sentences — aerolites — 
which seem to have fallen out of heaven, . . . and tell me if they match. 3 

. . . The Egyptian verdict of the Shakesperean societies comes to mind, that 
he was a jovial actor and manager. I cannot marry this fact to his verse. Other 
admirable men have led lives in some sort of keeping with their thought; but this 
man in wide contrast. . . . This man of men, he who gave the science of mind a 
new and larger subject than had ever existed, and planted the standard of humanity 

1 Venus and Adonis. 2 Introduction to Literature of Europe. 3 Rep. Men, p. 205. 


ity some furlongs forward in chaos — it must ever go into the world's history, that, 
the best poet led an obscure and profane life, using his genius for the public amuse- 
ment. 1 

Such a proposition cannot be accepted by any sane man. 
Francis Bacon seems to have had these plays in his mind's eye 
when he said: 

If the sow with her snout should happen to imprint the letter A upon the 
ground, wouldst thou therefore imagine that she could write out a whole tragedy as. 
one letter ? 2 

1 Representative A/en, p. 215. a Interpretation of Nature. 

or THE 




What a thrice-double ass 
Was I, to take this drunkard for a god, 
And worship this dull fool. 

Tehtfest, v, i. 

WE have seen that the Plays must have been written by a 
scholar, a man of wide and various learning. 

We have seen that William Shakspere, of Stratford-on-Avon, 
could not have acquired such learning in his native village, and 
that his pursuits and associates in London were not favorable to 
its acquisition there ; and that there is no evidence from tradition 
or history, or by the existence of any books or papers, or letters, 
that he was of a studious turn of mind, or in anywise scholarly. 
We have further seen that the families of his father and mother were, 
and had been for generations, without exception, rude and bookless. 

Now let us put together all the facts in our possession, and try 
to get at some estimate of the true character of the man himself. 

He was doubtless, as tradition says, "the best of that family." 
His career shows that he was adventurous, and what we call in 
America " smart." His financial success demonstrates this fact. 
He had probably a good deal of mother wit and practical good 
sense. It is not impossible that he may have been able to string 
together barbaric rhymes, some of which have come down to us. 
But conceding all this, and a vast gulf still separates him from the 
colossal intellect made manifest in the Plays. 

I. Shakspere was a Usurer. 

The probabilities are that he was a usurer. 

Richard Grant White (and it is a pleasure to quote against 
Shakspere so earnest a Shaksperean — one who declares that 
every man who believes Bacon wrote the Plays attributed to 
Shakspere should be committed at once to a mad-house) — Rich- 
ard Grant White says: 



The following passage, in a tract called RatseVs Ghost, ot the Second Part of 
his Mad Prankes and Robberies, of which only one copy is known to exist, plainly 
refers, first to Burbadge and next to Shakespeare. This book is without date, but is 
believed to have been printed before 1606. Gamaliel Ratsei, who speaks, is a 
highwayman, who has paid some strollers forty shillings for playing for him, and 
afterwards robbed them of their fee. 1 

The passage is as follows: 

And for you, sirrah (says he to the chiefest of them), thou hast a good presence 
upon a stage, methinks thou darkenest thy merit by playing in the country; get thee 
to London, for if one man were dead they will have much need of such as thou art. 
There would be none, in my opinion, fitter than thyself to play his parts; my 
conceit is such of thee that I durst venture all the money in my purse on thy head 
to play Hamlet with him for a wager. There thou shalt learn to be frugal (for play- 
ers were never so thrifty as they are now about London), and to feed upon all men; 
to let none feed upon thee; to make thy hand a stranger to thy pocket; thy heart slow 
to perform thy tongue's promise; and when thou feelest thy purse well lined, buy 
thee some place of lordship in the country; that growing weary of playing thy money 
may there bring thee to dignity and reputation; then thou needest care for no man ; 
no, not for them that before made thee proud with speaking THEIR words on the stage. 

Sir, I thank you (quoth the player) for this good council. I promise you I will 
make use of it, for I have heard, indeed, of some that have gone to London very 
meanly, and have come in time to be exceeding wealthy. 

This curious tract proves several things: 

The Shakspereans agree that Ratsei, in the latter part of the 
extract quoted, referred unquestionably to Shakspere. Ratsei, or 
the writer of the tract, doubtless expressed the popular opinion 
when he described Shakspere as a thrifty, money-making, unchari- 
table, cold-hearted man, " feeding upon all men," to-wit, by lend- 
ing money at usurious rates of interest, for there is nothing else 
to which the words can apply. There can be no question that 
he refers to Shakspere. He was an actor; he came to London 
"very meanly; " /^ was not born there; he " lined his purse;" he 
had " grown exceeding wealthy; " he " bought a place of lordship in 
the country," where he lived "in dignity and reputation." And 
doubtless Ratsei spoke but the popular report when he said that 
some others " made him proud with speaking their words on the 

Let us see if there is anything that confirms Ratsei's estimate 

of Shakspere's character. Richard Grant White says: 

The fact is somewhat striking in the life of a great poet that the only letter 
directly addressed to Shakespeare, which is known to exist, is one which asks for 
a loan of ^30. 2 

1 Life and Genius of Shakespeare, p. 164. 2 Ibid., p. 123. 



There is another letter extant from Master Abraham Sturley, 
1595, to a friend in London, in reference to Shakspere lending 
" some monei on some od yarde land or other att Shottri or neare 
about us." And there is still another letter, dated November 4, 
1598, from Abraham Sturley to Richard Ouiney, in which we are 
told that our "countriman Mr. Wm. Shak. would procure us monei, 
wc. I will like of." And these, be it remembered, are all the letters 
extant addressed to, or referring to, Shakspere. 

In 1598 he loaned Richard Quiney, of Stratford, ^30 upon 
proper security. 1 

In 1600 he brought action against John Clayton, in London, for 
j£j t and got judgment in his favor. 

He also sued Philip Rogers, at Stratford, for two shillings 

In August, 1608, he prosecuted John Addenbroke to recover a 
debt of £6, and then sued his surety, Horneby. 

His lawyer, Thomas Greene, lived in his house. 2 

Halliwell-Phillips says: 

The precepts, as appears from memoranda in the originals, were issued by 
the poet's solicitor, Thomas Greene, who was then residing, under some unknown 
conditions, at New Place. 3 

We, of course, only hear of those transactions in which the 
debtor did not pay, and the loans became matters of court record. 
We hear nothing of the more numerous instances where the money 
was repaid without suit. But even these scraps of fact show that, 
he carried on the business of money-lending both in London and at 
Stratford. He kept an attorney in his house, probably for the better 
facility of collecting the money due him. 

No wonder Richard Grant White said, when such facts as these 
came to light, voicing the disappointment of his heart: 

These stories grate upon our feelings. . . . The pursuit of an impoverished! 
man, for the sake of imprisoning him and depriving him, both of the power of pay- 
ing his debt and supporting himself and his family, is an incident in Shakespeare's 
life which it requires the utmost allowance and consideration for the practice of the 
time and country to enable us to contemplate with equanimity — satisfaction is- 
impossible. The biographer of Shakespeare must record these facts, because the 
literary antiquaries have unearthed and brought them forward as new particulars 
of the life of Shakespeare. We hunger, and we receive these husks; we open our 
mouths for food, and we break our teeth against these stones." 4 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life of Shak., p. 105. 3 Ibid., p. 147. 

2 Ihid., p. 149. 4 Life and Genius of Shak., p. 146. 

°' r M£ ' 


Is it possible that the man who described usurers as "bawds 
between gold and want;" who drew, for all time, the typical and 
dreadful character of Shylock; who wrote: — 

I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale, that plays and 
tumbles, driving the poor fry before him, and at last devours them at a mouthful. 
Such whales I have heard of on land, who never leave gaping till they have swal- 
lowed up a whole parish, church, steeple, bells and all. 1 — 

could, as described by White, have pursued the wretched to jail, 
and by his purchase of the tithes of Stratford have threatened " the 
whole parish, church, steeple, bells and all " ? 

II. He Carried on Brewing in New Place. 

Let us pass to another fact. 

It is very probable that the alleged author of Hamlet carried on 
the business of brewing beer in his residence at New Place. 

He sued Philip Rogers in 1604, so the court records tell us, for 

several bushels of " malt " sold him at various times, between March 

27th and the end of May of that year, amounting in all to the 

value of £1 i$s. lod. 

Malt is barley or other grain steeped in water until it germinates, and then 
dried in a kiln to evolve the saccharine principle. It is used in brewing. 2 

The business of beer-making was not unusual among his towns- 

George Perrye, besides his glover's trade, useth buying and selling of woll 
[wool] and yorn [yarn] and making of malt. z 

Robert Butler, besides his glover's occupation, usethe makinge of 'malt.* 

Rychard Castell, Rother Market, useth his glover's occupation, his wiffe utter- 

eth zueeklye by bruynge [brewing] ij strikes of malte. 5 

And we read of a Mr. Persons who for a "longe tyme used 
makinge of mallte and bruyinge [brewing] to sell in his howse." 6 

There is, of course, nothing dishonorable in this humble occu- 
pation; but it is a little surprising that a man whoin the Plays never 
refers to tradesmen without a sneer, or to the common people 
except as " mechanic slaves" " that made the air unwholesome" 
throwing up "their stinking greasy caps," a "common cry of curs," 
or "the clusters," "the mutable, the rank-scented many," or " the 
beastly plebeians;" and whose sympathies seem to have been always 

1 Pericles, ii, i. 3 MS. dated 1595. 5 Ibid. 

2 Webster's Dictionary. * Ibid. 8 Ibid. 



with the aristocracy, should convert the finest house in Stratford, . 
built by Sir Hugh Clopton, into a brewery, and employ himself 
peddling out malt to his neighbors, and suing them when they did 
not pay promptly. 

Think of the author of Hanilet and Lear brewing beer ! Verily, 
"the dust of Alexander may come to stop the bung-hole of a beer- 

III. Shakspere's Hospitality. 

And taken in connection with this sale of malt there is another 
curious fact that throws some light upon the character of the man 
and the household. 

In the Chamberlain's accounts of Stratford 1 we find a charge, 
in 1614, for "on quart of sack and on quart of clarett wine geven to 
a preacher at the New Place," Shakspere's house. What manner 
of man must he have been who would require the town to pay for the 
wine he furnished his guests ? And we may be sure the town would 
not have paid for it unless first asked to do so. And the money 
was accepted by Shakspere, or it would not stand charged in the 
accounts of the town. And this was but two years before Shak- 
spere's death, when he was in possession of an immense income. 
Did ever any rich man, with the smallest instincts of a gentleman, 
do a deed like this ? Would even the poorest of the poor do it ? 
It was, in fact, a species of " going on the county " for help, — a 
partial pauperism. 

IV. He Attempts to Enter the Ranks of the Gentry by 
False Representations. 

Some one has said: "To be accounted a gentleman was the 
chief desire of Shakspere's life." 

Did he pursue this ambition, honorable enough in itself, in an 
honorable manner? 

In October, 1596, Shakspere, the actor, applied to the College 
of Arms for a grant of coat-armor to his father, John Shakspere. 
At this time Shakspere was beginning to make money. He 
bought New Place, Stratford, in 1597. His profession as a "vassal 
actor" prevented any hope of having a grant of arms made 

1 White, Life and Genius of Shak. y p. 176. 


directly to himself, and so he applied in the name of his father, 

who not long before had been in prison, or hiding from the Sheriff. 

White would have us believe that the coat-of-arms was granted; 

but the latest and most complete authority on the subject, Halliwell- 

Phillipps, says it was not: 

Toward the close of the year 1599, a renewed attempt was made by the poet 
to obtain a grant of coat-armor to his father. It was now proposed to impale the 
arms of Shakespeare with those of Arden, and on each occasion ridiculous state- 
ments were made respecting the claims of the two families. Both were really descended 
from obscure country yeomen, but the heralds made out that the predecessors of 
John Shakespeare were rewarded by the Crown for distinguished services, and 
that his wife's ancestors were entitled to armorial bearings. Although the poet's 
relatives, at a later date, assumed his right to the coat suggested for his father in 
1596, it does not appear that either of the proposed grants was ratified by the college, 
and certainly nothing more is heard of the Arden impalement. 1 

The application was made on the ground that John Shak- 
spere's " parent and late antecessor, for his faithful and approved 
service to the late most prudent prince, King Henry VII., of 
famous memory, was advanced and rewarded with lands and tene- 
ments given to him in those parts of Warwickshire, . . . and 
that the said John had married the daughter and one of the heirs 
of Robert Arden, of Wilmecote." 

Now, these statements, as Halliwell-Phillipps says, were plainly 

John Shakspere's ancestors had not been advanced by King 
Henry VII.; and they had not received lands in Warwickshire; and 
his mother was not the daughter of one of the heirs of Robert 
Arden, of Wilmecote, gentleman. They had been landless peasants 
for generations; and John Shakspere was an illiterate farm-hand, 
hired by Robert Arden, a plain farmer, as illiterate as himself, to 
work by the month or year. 

And William Shakspere, who made this application, knew per- 
fectly well that all these representations were falsehoods. He was 
trying to crawl up the battlements of respectability on a ladder of 
lies — plain, palpable, notorious, ridiculous lies — lies that involved 
the title to real property and the records of his county. 

Would that grand and noble soul who really wrote the Plays 
seek to be made a gentle?tian by such means ? 

But the falsifications did not end here. 

1 Outlines, p. 87. 



"The delay of three years," says Richard Grant White, "in 
granting these arms, must have been caused by some opposition to 
the grant; the motto given with them, Non sans droict (not with- 
out right), itself seems to assert a claim against a denial." 

Doubtless the Lucys, and other respectable families of the neigh- 
borhood, protested against the play-actor forcing himself into their 
ranks by false pretenses. 

If the reader who is curious in such matters will turn to the two 
drafts of the application for the coat-of-arms, that of 1596, on page 
573 of Halliwell-Phillipps' Outlines, and that of 1599, on page 589 
of the same work, and examine the interlineations that were made 
from time to time, and which are indicated by italics, he will see 
how the applicant was driven from falsehood to falsehood, to meet 
the objections made against his claim of gentility. In the first 
application it was stated that it was John Shakspere's " parents 
and late antecessors" who rendered valiant service to King Henry 
VII. and were rewarded by him. This was not deemed sufficiently 
explicit, and so it was interlined that the said John had " married 
Mary, daughter and one of the heirs of Robert Arden, of Wilme- 
cote, in the said county, gent." But in the proposed grant of 1599 
it is stated that it was John Shakspere's ^^/-grandfather who ren- 
dered these invaluable services to King Henry VII., and, being 
driven to particulars, we are now told that this grandfather was 
" advanced and rewarded with la /ides and tenement es given to him in 
those partes of Warwickshire, where they have continued by some descents 
in good reputacion and credit.'" 

This is wholesale lying. There were no such lands, and they 
had not descended by some descents in the family. 

But this is not all. Finding his application opposed, the fertile 
Shakspere falls back on a new falsehood, and declares that a coat- 
of-arms had already been given his father twenty years before. 

And he also produced this, his auncient cote-of-arms, heretofore assigned to him 
whilst he was her Majestie's officer and baylefe of that town. 

And White tells us that upon the margin of the draft of 1596, 1 

John Shakspere 

Sheweth a patent thereof under Clarence Cook's hands in oaper, twenty years 
past. 1 

3 Life and Genius of Shakespeare^ p. 118. 



But this patent can no more be found than the land which Henry VII. 
granted to John Shakspere* s great-grandfather for his approved and 
faithful services. 

The whole thing was a series of lies and forgeries, a tissue of 
fraud from beginning to end ; — and William Shakspere had no 
more title to his coat-of-arms than he has to the great dramas 
which bear his name. 

And living in New Place, brewing beer, selling malt and suing 
his neighbors, the Shakspere family assumed to use this coat-of- 
arms, never granted to them, and to set up for "gentry," in the midst 
of the people who knew the hollowness of their pretensions. 

And the same man, we are told, who was so anxious for this 
kind of a promotion to the ranks of gentlemen, wrote as follows: 

Fool. Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman. 
Lear. A king, a king ! 

Fool. No, he's a yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a mad yeo- 
man that sees his son a gentleman before him. 1 

And that the same man mocked at new-made gentility, in the 
scene where the clown and the old shepherd were suddenly ele- 
vated to rank by the king of Bohemia: 

Shepherd. Come, boy; I am past more children, but thy sons and daughters 
will all be gentlemen born. 

Clown {to Autolycus). You are well met, sir; you denied to tight with me this 
other day because I was no gentleman born. See you these clothes ? . . . 

Autolycus. I know you are now, sir, a gentleman bojn. 

Clown. Ay, and have been so any time these four hours. 

Shepherd. And so have I, boy. 

Clown. So you have. But I was a gentleman born before my father; for the 
king's son took me by the hand and called me brother: . . . and so we wept: and 
these were the first gentleman-like tears that ever we shed.' 2 

And that the same man wrote: 

By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it: the age is 
grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier 
that he galls his kibe. 3 

And this is the man, we are told, who also wrote: 

Let none presume 
To wear an undeserved dignity. 
Oh, that estates, degrees and offices 
Were not derived corruptly ! and that clear honor 
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer ! 
How many then should cover that stand bare; 

1 Lear, iii, 6. 2 Winter's Tale, v, 3. 3 Hamlet, v, 1. 


How many be commanded that command; 

How much low peasantry would then be gleaned 

From the true seed of honor; and how much honor 

Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times 

To be new-varnish'd. 1 

Is there any man who loves the memory of the real Shake- 
speare — gentle, thoughtful, learned, humane, benevolent, with a 
mind loftier and wider than was ever before conferred on a child 
of earth — who can believe that he would be guilty of such prac- 
tices, even to obtain a shabby gentility in the dirty little village of 
Stratford ? 

All this may not perhaps strike an American with its full force. 

In this country every well-dressed, well-behaved man is a gentle- 
man. But in England in the sixteenth century it meant a great 
deal more. It signified a man of gentle blood. A great and impass- 
able gulf lay between "the quality," "the gentry," the hereditary 
upper ciass, and the common herd who toiled for a living. It 
required all the power of Christianity to faintly enforce the idea 
that they were made by the same God and were of one flesh. 
The distinction, in the England of 1596, between the yeoman and 
the gentleman, was almost as wide as the difference to-day in 
America between the white man and the black man; and the 
mulatto who would try to pass himself off as a white man, and 
would support his claim by lies and forgeries, will give us some 
conception of the nature of this attempt made by William Shak- 
spere in 1596. 

V. The House ix Which he Was Borx. 

As to this I will simply quote what Richard Grant White says 
of it: 

My heart sank within me as I looked around upon the rude, mean dwelling- 
place of him who had filled the world with the splendor of his imaginings. It is 
called a house, and any building intended for a dwelling-place is a house; but the 
interior of this one is hardly that of a rustic cottage; it is almost that of a hovel — 
poverty-stricken, squalid, kennel-like. A house so cheerless and comfortless I had 
not seen in rural England. The poorest, meanest farm-house that I had ever 1 
entered in New England or on Long Island was a more cheerful habitation. And 
amid these sordid surroundings William Shakespeare grew to early manhood ! I 
thought of stately Charlecote, the home of the Lucys, who were but simple country 
gentlemen; and then for the first time I knew and felt from how low a condition of 

1 Merchant of Venice, ii, 9. 


life Shakespeare had arisen. For his family were not reduced to this; they had 
risen to it. This was John Shakespeare's home in the days of his brief prosperity, 
and, when I compared it with my memory of Charlecote, I knew that Shakespeare 
himself must have felt what a sham was the pretension of gentry set up for his 
father, when the coat-of-arms was asked and obtained by the actor's money from 
the Heralds' College — that coat-of-arms which Shakespeare prized because it 
made him "a gentleman" by birth! This it was, even more than the squalid 
appearance of the place, that saddened me. For I felt that Shakespeare himself 
must have known how well founded was the protest of the gentlemen who com- 
plained that Clarencieux had made the man who lived in that house a gentleman 
of coat-armor. 1 

VI. His Name. 

The very name, Shakspere, was in that day considered the quin- 
tessence of vulgarity. My friend William D. O'Connor, the author 
of Hamlefs Note Book, calls my attention to a recent number of 
The London Academy, in which a Mr. Lupton proves that in Eliza- 
beth's time the name Shakspere was considered vile, just as Rams- 
bottom, or Snooks, or Hogs flesh would be with us; and men who had 
it got it changed by legislation. Mr. Lupton gives one case where 
a man called Shakspere had his name altered by law to Saunders. 

VII. He Combines with Others to Oppress and Impoverish 

the People. 

But there is one other feature of Shakspere's biography which 

throws light upon his character. 

• From remote antiquity in England the lower classes possessed 

certain rights of common in tracts of land. Prof. Thorold Rogers 


The arable land of the manor was generally communal, i.e., each of the ten- 
ants possessed a certain number of furrows in a common field, the several divis- 
ions being separated by balks of unplowed ground, on which the grass was suf- 
fered to grow. The system, which was almost universal in the thirteenth century, 
has survived in certain districts up to living memory. 2 

This able writer shows that the condition of labor steadily 
improved in England up to the reign of Henry VIII., and from that 
period it steadily declined to recent times. He makes this remark- 
able statement in the preface to his work: 

I have attempted to show that the pauperism and the degradation of the 
English laborer were the result of a series of acts of Parliament and acts of gov- 
ernment, which were designed or adopted with the express purpose of compelling the 

1 England Without and Within, p. 526. - Work and Wages, p. 88. 



laborer to ivork at the lowest rate of wages possible, and which succeeded al last in 
effecting their purpose. 1 

Among these acts were those giving the Courts of Quarter 
Sessions the right to fix the wages of laborers; and, hence, as Prof. 
Rogers shows, while the inflowing gold and silver of Mexico and 
Peru were swelling the value of all forms of property in England, 
the value of labor did not rise in proportion; and the common 
people fell into that awful era of poverty, wretchedness, degrada- 
tion, crime, and Newgate-hanging by wholesale, which mark the 
reigns of Henry VIII. and his children. 

As part of the same scheme of oppression of the humble citi- 
zens by those who wielded the power of government, a system of 
inclosures of common lands by the landlords, without any com- 
pensation to the tenants, was inaugurated, and aided greatly to 
swell the general misery. 

The benevolent soul of Francis Bacon took part against this 
oppression. In his History of Henry VII. he said: 

Another statute was made of singular policy for the population apparently, 
and (if it be thoroughly considered) for the soldiery and military forces of the 
realm. Inclosures at that time began to be more frequent, whereby arable land 
(which could not be manured without people and families) was turned into pas- 
ture, which was easily rid by a few herdsmen; and tenancies for years, lives and 
at will (whereupon much of the yeomanry lived) were turned into demesnes. . . . 
The ordinance was that, That all houses of husbandry that were used with twenty 
acres of ground and upward should be maintained and kept up forever, together 
with a competent proportion of land to be used and occupied with them, and in no 
wise to be severed from them. . . . This did wonderfully concern the might and 
mannerhood of the kingdom, to have farms as it were of a standard sufficient to 
maintain an able body out of penury. 

In 1597 Francis Bacon, then a member of Parliament, made a 
speech, of which we have a very meager report: 

Mr. Bacon made a motion against depopulation of towns and houses of hus- 
bandry, and for the maintenance of husbandry and tillage. And to this purpose 
he brought in two bills, as he termed it, not drawn with a polished pen, but with a 
polished heart. . . . And though it may be thought ill and very prejudicial to 
lords that have enclosed great grounds, and pulled down even whole towns, and 
converted them to sheep pastures, yet, considering the increase of the people, and 
the benefit of the commonwealth, I doubt not but every man will deem the revivali 
of former moth-eaten laws in this point a praiseworthy thing. For in matters of 
policy ill is not to be thought ill, which bringeth forth good. For enclosure of 
grounds brings depopulation, which brings forth first, idleness; secondly, decay of 
tillage; thirdly, subversion of homes, and decrease of charity and charge to th? 

1 Work and Wages, Preface, p. 6. 



poor's maintenance; fourthly, the impoverishing the state of the realm. . . . And 
I should be sorry to see within this kingdom that piece of Ovid's verse prove true, 
Jam seges est ubi Troja fait; so in England, instead of a whole town full of people, 
none but green fields, but a shepherd and a dog. The eye of experience is the 
sure eye, but the eye of wisdom is the quick-sighted eye; and by experience we 
daily see, Nemo putat Mud videri tvrpe quod sibi sit qucestuosum. And therefore 
almost there is no conscience made in destroying the savour of our life, bread I 
mean, for Pauls sapor vita;. And therefore a sharp and vigorous law had need be 
made against these viperous natures who fulfill the proverb, Si non posse quod vult, 
velle tarn en quod potest. 1 

Hepworth Dixon says: 

The decay of tillage, the increase of sheep and deer are for the yeoman class, 
and for the country of which they are the thew and sinew, dark events. ... He 
[Bacon] makes a wide and sweeping study of this question of Pasturage versus Till- 
age, of Deer versus Men, which convinces him of the cruelty and peril of depopu- 
lating hamlets for the benefit of a few great lords. This study will produce, when 
Parliament meets again, a memorable debate and an extraordinary change of law. -i 

Bacon's bills became laws, after a fierce and bitter contest with 
the peers; they are in the statute book of England, 39 Elizabeth, 1 
and 2. They saved the English yeomanry from being reduced to 
the present condition of the Irish peasantry. 

They provide that no more land shall be cleared without special license; and 
that all land turned into pasture since the Queen's accession, no less a period than 
forty years, shall be taken from the deer and sheep within eighteen months, and 
restored to the yeoman and the plow. 3 

These great, radical and sweeping measures should endear 
Bacon's memory to every Englishman, and to every lover of his 
kind, the world over. They saved England from depopulation. 
They laid the foundation for the greatness of the nation. They 
furnished the great middle class who fought and won at Waterloo. 
And what a broad, noble, far-sighted philanthropy do they evi- 
dence ! Here, indeed, "distribution did undo excess" that " each 
man" might "have enough." Here, indeed, was the greed of the 
few arrested for the benefit of the many. 

While broad-minded and humane men took this view of the 
policy of enclosures, let us see how William Shakspere regarded 
it. I quote from Halliwell-Phillipps' Outlines: 

In the autumn of the year 1614 there was great excitement at Stratford-on-Avon 
respecting an attempted enclosure of a large portion of the neighboring common- 
field — -not commons, as so many biographers have inadvertently stated. The 

1 Life and Works of Francis Bacon, Spedding, Ellis and Heath, vol. iii, p. 81. 
a Personal History of Lord Bacon, p. 87. 3 Ibid., p. 105. 



design was resisted by the corporation under the natural impression that, if it were 
realized, both the number of agricultural employes and the value of the tithes would 
be seriously diminished. There is no doubt that this would have been the case, 
and, as might be expected, William Combe, the squire of Welcombe, who origi- 
nated the movement, encountered a determined, and, in the end, a successful 
opposition. He spared, however, no exertions to accomplish the object, and, in 
many instances, if we may believe contemporary allegations, tormented the poor 
and coaxed the rich into an acquiescence with his views. 1 

Here was an opportunity for the pretended author of the Plays 
to show the stuff that was in him. Did he stand forward as — 

The village Hampden who, with dauntless breast, 
The little tyrant of his fields withstood ? 

Did he pour forth an impassioned defense of popular rights, 
whose eloquence would have forever ended all question as to the 
authorship of the Plays ? It is claimed that he had written: 

Take physic, pomp; 
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel; 
That thou mayst shake the superfiux to them, 
And show the heavens more just.-' 

And again: 

I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged, 
And duty in his service perishing. 3 

This is in the very spirit of Bacon's defense of the common 
people against those "viperous natures" that had "pulled down 
whole towns," or, as he expresses it in Pericles, had "swallowed up 
a whole parish, church, steeple, bells and all." 

See how touchingly the writer of the Plays makes the insubstan- 
tial spirit, Ariel, non-human in its nature, sympathetic with the 
sufferings of man; and Prospero (the image of the author) says r 
even in the midst of the remembrance of his wrongs: 

Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling 

Of their afflictions, and shall not I, myself, 

One of their kind, that relish all as sharply, 

Fashioned as they, be kindlier moved than thou art? 

Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick, 

Yet with my nobler reason 'gainst my fury 

Do I take part. 4 

Was William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, — himself one of 
the common people, "fashioned as they," — kindly "moved by their 

1 Outlines Life of Shale., p. 197. 3 A Midsummer Nighfs Dream, v, 1. 

2 Lear, Hi, 4. * Tempest, v, 1. 


afflictions;" and did he throw his wealth and influence into the 

scale in their defense ? Not at all. 

Knight says : 

The enclosure would probably have improved his property, and especially 
have increased the value of the tithes, of the moiety of which he held a lease. 
The corporation of Stratford were opposed to the inclosure. They held that it 
would be injurious to the poorer inhabitants, zvho were then deeply suffering from 
the desolation of the fire. ' 

Let us resume Halliwell-Phillipps narrative of the transaction: 

It appears most probable that Shakespeare was one of the latter who were 
so influenced, and that, amongst perhaps other inducements , he was allured to the 
unpopular side by Combe's agent, one Replingham, guaranteeing him from pros- 
pective loss. However that may be, it is certain that the poet was in favor of the 
enclosures, for, on December 23d, the corporation addressed a letter of remon- 
strance to him on the subject, and another on the same day to a Mr. Mainwaring. 
The latter, who had been practically bribed by some land arrangements at Welcombe, 
undertook to protect the interests of Shakespeare, so there can be no doubt that 
the three parties were acting in unison. 2 

Observe how tenderly the Shakspereans touch the wretched 
record of their hero. Mr. Mainwaring " was practically bribed by 
some land arrangements," but Mr. Shakspere, acting in concert 
with Mainwaring and Combe, under agreements of indemnifica- 
tion, was not bribed at all. 

And that this agreement contemplated driving the people off 
the land and pauperizing them, is plain from the terms of the 
instrument, for Replingham contracts to indemnify Shackespeare 
for any loss he may sustain in his tithes " by reason of any inclos- 
ure or decay of tillage there mcnt and intended by the said William Rep- 

Three greedy cormorants combine to rob the people of their 

ancient rights, and cause a decay of tillage, and one of the three is 

the man who is supposed to have possessed the greatest mind and 

most benevolent heart of his age; a heart so benevolent toward the 

poor and suffering that he anticipated the broadest claims put 

forth by the communists of to-day: 

Here, take this purse, you whom the heaven's plagues 
Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched 
Makes thee the happier: — Heavens, deal so still! 
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man, 
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see 
Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly; 

3 Knight's Shak. Biography, p. 528. 2 Outlines y p. 168. 


So distribution should undo excess, 
And each man have enough* 

Do we not see in this attempt of Shakspere to rob the poor of 
their rights, at the very time they had been impoverished by a 
great fire, the same man described by Ratsei — the thrifty play- 
actor, that fed on all men and permitted none to feed on him; who 
made his hand a stranger to his pocket, and his heart slow to per- 
form his tongue's promise ? 

And all for what? To add a few acres more to his estate; a few 
pounds more to his fortune, on which, as he fondly hoped, 
through the heirs of his eldest daughter, he was to found a family 
which should wear that fictitious coat-of-arms, based on those lands 
which the King never conferred, for services which were never 
rendered, and glorified by the immortal plays which he never wrote. 

Was this the spirit of the real author of the plays? No, no; 

listen to him: 

Tell her my love, more noble than the world, 
Prizes not quantity of dirty lands. 2 

And again he says: 

Dost know this water-fly ? . . . 'tis a vice to know him. He hath much land 
and fertile; let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king's 
mess. Tis a chough; but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt. 3 

This fellow might be in 's time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his 
recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries; is this the fine of his 
fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? 4 

And again: 

Hamlet. Is not parchment made of sheep-skins ? 

Horatio. Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins, too. 

Hamlet. They are sheep and calves which seek out assurances in that. 

The real Shakespeare — Francis Bacon — said, "My mind turns 
on other wheels than profit." He regarded money as valuable only 
for the uses to which he put it, " the betterment of the state of 
man;" he had no faculty to grasp money, especially from the 
poor and oppressed; and as a consequence he died, leaving behind 
him a bankrupt estate and the greatest memory in human history. 

Is it possible that the true Shakespeare could have taken such 
pains, as the Stratford man did, to entail his real-estate upon one 

1 Lear, iv, i. 2 Twelfth Night, ii, 4. s Hamlet, v, 2. * Hamlet, v, 1. 


of his children and her heirs, and forget totally to mention in his 
will that grander, that immortal estate of the mind which his 
genius had created, inconceivably more valuable than his "spa- 
cious possessions of dirt"? 

VIII. His Treatment of his Father's Memory. 

Let us pass to one other incident in the career of the Shakspere 
of Stratford. 

We have seen that he strove to have his father made a gentle- 
man. It will therefore scarcely be believed that, with an income 
equal to $25,000 per year of our money, he left that same father, 
and his mother, and his son Hamnet — his only son — without even 
the humblest monument to mark their last resting-place. 

Richard Grant White says: 

Shakespeare seems to have set up no stone to tell us where his mother or 
father lay, and the same is true as to his son Hamnet.' 

It appears that he inherited some property from his father, cer- 
tainly enough to pay for a headstone to mark the everlasting 
resting-place of the father of the richest man in Stratford — the 
father of the man who was "in judgment a Nestor, in genius a 
Socrates, in art a Maro! " 

And they would have us believe that he was the same man who 


I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack 
The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose; nor 
The azured hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor 
The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander, 
Out-sweetened not thy breath: the robin would 
With charitable bill (O bill, sore-shaming 
Those rich-left heirs that let their fathers lie 
Without a monument !) bring thee all this. 2 

IX. His Daughter Judith. 

But let us go a step farther, and ask ourselves, what kind of a 
family was it that inhabited New Place during the latter years of 
Shakspere's life ? 

We have seen that the poet's father, mother and relatives 
generally were grossly ignorant; that they could not even write 
their own names, or read the Lord's Prayer in their native 

1 Life and Genius of ' Shak., p. 144. 2 Cywbeline, iv, 2. 


tongue; and that they did not possess even a Bible in their 

But we now come face to face with a most astounding fact. 

Shakspere had but two children who lived to maturity, his 
daughters Susanna and Judith, and Judith could not read or write ! 

Here is a copy of the mark with which the daugh- 
ter of Shakspere signed her name. It appears as that 
of an attesting witness to a conveyance in 161 1, she 
being then twenty-seven years of age. 

Think of it ! The daughter of William Shakspere, the daughter 
of the greatest intellect of his age, or of all ages, the profound 
scholar, the master of Latin, Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, 
Danish, the philosopher, the scientist, the politician, the statesman, 
the physician, the musician, signs her name with a curley-queue 
like a Pottawatomie Indian. And this girl was twenty-seven years 
old, and no idiot; she was subsequently married to one of the lead- 
ing citizens of the town, Thomas Quiney, vintner. She was raised 
in the same town wherein was the same free-school in which, we 
are assured, Shakspere received that magnificent education which 
is manifested in the Plays. 

Imagine William E. Gladstone, or Herbert Spencer, dwelling in 
the same house with a daughter, in the full possession of all her 
faculties, who signed her name with a pot-hook. Imagine the 
father and daughter meeting every day and looking at each other ! 
And yet neither of these really great men is to be mentioned in 
the same breath with the immortal genius who produced the Plays. 

With what divine anathemas did the real Shakespeare scourge 
ignorance ! 

He says: 

Ignorance is the curse of God} 
And again: 

The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue! 
Heaven bless thee from a tutor and discipline come not near thee. 2 

And again: 

There is no darkness but ignorance. 3 

He pelts it with adjectives: 

Barbarous ignorance. 4 

1 2d Henry VI., iv, 7. 3 Twelfth Night, iv, 2. 

2 Troihts and Cressida, ii, 3. 4 King John, iv, 2. 


Dull, unfeeling ignorance. 1 

Gross andSrriiserable ignorance.' 2 

Thou monster, ignorance. :! 

Short-armed ignorance. 1 

Again, we read: 

I held it ever, 
Virtue and cunning [knowledge] were endowments greater 
Than nobleness and riches; careless heirs 
May the two latter darken and expend; 
Kut immortality attends the former, 
Making a man a god. 5 

And he found — 

More content in course of true delight 
Than to be thirsty after tottering honor, 
Or tie my treasure up in silken bags, 
To please the fool and death. 6 

Can it be conceived that the man who wrote these things would 
try, by false representations, to secure a coat-of-arms for his family, 
and seek by every means in his power to grasp the shillings and 
pence of his poorer neighbors, and at the same time leave one of 
his children in "barbarous, barren, gross and miserable ignorance " ? 

With an income, as we have shown, equal to $25,000 yearly of 
our money; with the country swarming with graduates of Oxford 
and Cambridge, begging for bread and ready to act as tutors; living 
in a quiet, rural neighborhood, where there were few things to 
distract attention, William Shakspere permitted his daughter to 
attain the ripe age of twenty-seven years, unable to read the 
immortal quartos which had made her father famous and wealthy. 
We will not — we cannot — believe it. / 

X. Some of the Educated Women of that Age. 

But it may be said that it was the fault of the age. 

It must be remembered, however, that the writer of the Plays 
was an exceptional man. He possessed a mind of vast and endless 
activity, which ranged into every department of human thought; 
he eagerly absorbed all learning. 

Such another natural scholar we find in Sir Anthony Cook, tutor 
to King Edward IV., grandfather of Francis Bacon and Robert CeciL 

1 Richard II., i, 3. 3 Love's Labor Lost, iv, 2. 5 Pericles, iii, 2. 

2 2d Henry 17., iv, 2. * Troilus and Cressida, ii, 3. 6 Ibid. 




Facsimile of the Frontispiece in the Folio of 1623. 

Facing this portrait In the Folio are presented Ben Jonson's famous lines: 

This Figure, that thou here seest put O, could he but have drawn his wit 

It was for gentle Shakespeare cut; As well in brasse, as he hath hit 

Wherein the Graver had a strife His face, the Print would then surpasse 

With nature, to out-doo the life: All that was ever writ in brasse. 

But since he cannot, Reader, looke 

Not on his Picture, but his Booke. 

or the r 


Like Shakspere of Stratford, his family consisted of girls, and 
he was not by any means as wealthy as Shakspere. Did he leave 
his daughters to sign their names with hieroglyphics ? No. 

Macaulay says: 

Katherine, who became Lady Killigrew, wrote Latin hexameters and pentam- 
eters which would appear with credit in the Musa Etonenses. Mildred, the wife 
of Lord Burleigh, was described by Roger Ascham as the best Greek scholar 
among the young women of England, Lady Jane Grey always excepted. Anne, 
the mother of Francis Bacon, was distinguished both as a linguist and a theologian. 
She corresponded in Greek with Bishop Jewell, and translated his Apologia from 
the Latin so correctly that neither he nor Archbishop Parker could suggest a single 
alteration. She also translated a series of sermons on fate and free will from the 
Tuscan of Bernardo Ochino. 1 

They were not alone. There were learned and scholarly women 
in England in those days, and many of them, as there have been in 
all ages since. 

Macaulay says: 

The fair pupils of Ascham and Aylmer who compared, over their embroidery, 
the styles of Isocrates and Lysias, and who, while the horns were sounding and 
the dogs in full cry, sat in the lonely oriel with eyes riveted to that immortal page 
which tells how meekly and bravely the first great martyr of intellectual liberty 
took the cup from his weeping jailer. 2 

It is not surprising that William Shakspere, poacher, fugitive, 
vagabond, actor, manager, brewer, money-lender, land-grabber, 
should permit one of his two children to grow up in gross ignor- 
ance, but it is beyond the compass of the human mind to believe 
that the author of Haynlet and Lear could have done so. He indi- 
cates in one of his plays how a child should be trained. Speaking 
of King Leonatus, in Cymbeline, he says: 

Put him to all the learnings that his time 
Could make him receiver of ; which he took 
As we do air, fast as 'twas ministered, and 
In his spring became a harvest. 3 

If Judith had been the child of the author of the Plays, and had 
" something of Shakespeare in her," she would have resented and 
struggled out of her shameful condition ; her mind would have 
sought the light as the young oak forces its way upward through 
the brush-wood of the forest. She would have replied to her neg- 
lectful father as Portia did: 

1 Macaulay's Essays, Bacon, p. 246. 2 Ibid., p. 247. 3 Cymbeline, i, 1. 



But the full sum of me 
Is sum of nothing, which to term in gross 
Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed ; 
Happy in this, she is not yet so old 
But she may learn ; happier than this, 
She is not bred so dull but she can learn ; 
Happiest of all, is, that her gentle spirit 
Commits itself to yours to be directed, 
As from her lord, her governor, her king. 1 

But if she was the natural outcome of ages of ignorance, 
developed in a coarse and rude state of society, and the daughter 
of a cold-blooded man, who had no instinct but to make money, 
we can readily understand how, in the midst of wealth, and under 
the shadow of the school-house, she grew up so grossly ignorant. 

XI. Shakspere's Family. 

There seems to have been something wrong about the whole 

In 1613, Shakspere being yet alive, Dr. Hall, his son-in-law, 
husband of his daughter Susanna, brought suit in the ecclesiastical 
court against one John Lane, for reporting that his wife " had the 
runninge of the raynes, and had bin naught with Rafe Smith and 
John Palmer." Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

The case was heard at Worcester on July the 15th, 1613, and appears to have 
been conducted somewhat mysteriously, the deposition of Robert Whatcot, the poet's 
intimate friend, being the only evidence recorded, and throwing no substantial light 
on the merits of the dispute} 

Nevertheless, the defendant was excommunicated. 

This being the case of the oldest daughter, the other, the pot- 
hook heiress, does not seem to have been above suspicion. Judith's 
marriage with Thomas Quiney was a mysterious and hurried one. 
Phillipps says: 

There appears to have been some reason for accelerating this event, for they 
were married without a license, and were summoned a few weeks afterward to the 
ecclesiastical court at Worcester to atone for the offense. 3 

Ignorance, viciousness, vulgarity and false pretenses seem to 
have taken possession of New Place. 

Not a glimpse of anything that might tell a different story 
escapes the ravages of time. 

1 Merchant of Venice, Hi, 2. 2 Outlines Life of Shak., p. 166. 

3 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life ofShak., p. 182. 


Appleton Morgan says: 

It is simply impossible to turn one's researches into any channel that leads 
into the vicinity of Stratford without noticing the fact that the Shakspere family 
left in the neighborhood where it flourished one unmistakable trace, familiar in all 
cases of vulgar and illiterate families, namely, the fact that they never knew or 
cared, or made an effort to know, of what vowels or consonants their own name 
was composed, or even to prepare the skeleton of its pronunciation. They 
answered — and made their marks — indifferently to Saxpir, or Chaksper, or 
to any other of the thirty forms given by Mr. Grant White, or the fifty-five forms 
which another gentleman has been able to collect. 1 

Even the very tombs of the different members of the family pre- 
sent different renderings of the name. Under the bust it is Shak- 
speare, while he signed the will as Shakspere; over the grave of 
Susanna it is Shakspere; over the other members of the family 
it is Shakespeare. 

In short, the name was nothing. They 

Answered to "Hi!" 
Or any loud cry. 

XII. The Origin of the Name. 

We have been taught to believe that the name was Shakespeare, 
and it has been suggested that this was a reminiscence of that 
" late antecessor " who rendered such valuable services to the late 
King Henry VII.; that he shook a speare in defense of the King so 
potently that he was ever after known as Shakespeare. It is in this 
way the name is printed in all the publications put forth in Shak- 
spere's lifetime. But it is no less certain that this name is another 
imposture. There never was a " shake " to it; and possibly never 
a " speare." The name was Shakspeare, or speer, or spur, or p/erre, 
the first syllable rhyming to back and not to bake. Shakespeare was 
doubtless an invention of the man who assumed the name at a 
later date as a mask, and he wanted something that would 
" heroically sound." The fictitious speare passed to the fraud- 
ulent coat-of-arms. 

In the bond given to enable William to marry, he is called 
''William Shagspere." In the bill of complaint of 1589 of John 
Shakspere in connection with the Wilmecote property, his son is 
alluded to as " William Shackespere." The father signs his cross 
to a deed to Robert Webb, in which he is described as " John Shax- 

1 The Shakespeare Myth, p. 160. 


pere;" and his mother makes her mark as " Marye Shaksper." 
His father is mentioned in the will of John Webbe, in 1573, 
as "John Schackspere." In 1567 he is alluded to in the town 
records as "Mr. Shakspyr," and when elected high bailiff, in 1568^ 
he is referred to as "Mr. John Shakysper." The only letter 
extant addressed to Shakspere was written October 25, 1598, by 
Richard Quiney, his townsman, and it is addressed to "Mr. Wm.. 
Shackespere." In 1594-5 he is referred to in the court record 
as "Shaxberd." In 1598 he is referred to in the corporation 
records of Stratford as selling them a load of stone: "Paid to 
Mr. Shaxpere for on lod of ston x d." In his will the attorney 
writes it "Schackspeare," and the man himself signed his name 

Hallam says: 

The poet and his family- spelt their name Shakspere, and to this spelling there 
are no exceptions in his own autographs. 

The name is spelled by his townsman, Master Abraham Sturley, 
in 1599, S/iakspere, and in 1598 he alludes to him as "Mr. William 
Shak." And when he himself petitioned the court in chancery in 
161 2, in reference to his tithes, he described himself as "William 

White says: 

In the irregular, phonographic spelling of antiquity, the name appears some- 
times as Chacksper and Shaxpur. It is possible that Shakespeare is a corruption 
of some name of a more peaceful meaning, and therefore perhaps of humbler 
derivation. 1 

It has been suggested, and with a good deal of probability, 
that the original name was Jacques-Pierre, pronounced Chacks- 
pere, or Shaks-pere. 

The French Jacques (James) seems, by some mutation, to have 
been transformed in England into " a nickname or diminutive for 
John." 2 

Thus it may be that the original progenitor of this grandilo- 
quent, martial cognomen, which " doth like himself heroically 
sound," may have been, in the first instance, a peasant without a 
family name, and known as plain Jack-Peter. 

1 White, Life and Genius of Shak., p. 5. 

2 See Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, p. 722, the word J-ack. 


XIII. His Humiliation. 

Despite his wealth, his position in his native town could not have 
been a very pleasant one. In 1602, and again in 16 12, the very year 
in which we are told Shakspere returned to Stratford to spend the 
rest of his life, the most stringent measures were taken by the corpo- 
ration to prevent the performance of plays. The pursuit in which he 
had made his money was thus stamped by his fellow townsmen as 
something shameful and degrading. Even this dirty little village 
repudiated it. The neighboring aristocracy must have turned up 
their noses and laughed long and loudat the plebeian's son setting up 
a coat-of-arms. By profession he was, by the statutes of his country, 
a ''vagabond," and had, in the past, only escaped arrest as such by 
entering himself as a servitor, or servant, to some nobleman. 

The vagabond, according to the statutes, was to "be stripped 
naked, from the middle upwards, and to be whipped until his 
body was bloody, and to be sent from parish to parish, the next 
straight way, to the place of his birth." ' 

He was buried in the chancel of the church, not as recogni- 
tion of his greatness, but because that locality was " the legal and 
customary burial-place for the owners of the tithes." 2 

XIV. His Handwriting. 

The very signature of Shakspere has provoked discussion. 
The fact that the will as originally drawn read, "witness my seal," y 
and that the "seal" was erased and "hand" written in, has been 
cited to prove that the lawyer who drew the will believed that the 
testator could not read or write. In an article in The Quarterly 
Review in 187 1, we read: 

If Shakspere's handwriting was at all like his signature, it was by no means easy 
to decipher. If we may speak dogmatically upon such slender proofs as we now pos- 
sess, he learnt to write after the old German text-hand then in use at the grammar 
school of Stratford. It was in this respect fifty years behindhand, as any one may see 
by comparing Shakspere's signature with that of Sir Thomas Lucy, Lord Bacon, 
or John Lilly. The wonder is how with such a hand he could have written so much. 


Mr. William Henry Burr, of Washington, D. C, has written an 

interesting pamphlet, to prove that Shakspere could not read or 
write, but simply traced his name from a copy set him; and that, 

1 Knight's Illust. Shaks., Trag., i, p. 442. 2 Outlines Life of Stiak., p. 171. 


as the copy furnished him at different times was written by differ- 
ent hands, there is a great difference in the shape of the letters 
composing his name. 

Certain it is his autographs do not look like the work of a schol- 
arly man. The following cut is a representation of all the signatures 
known, beyond question, to have been written by Shakspere: 

&fy*S'r f 

The first is from Malone's facsimile of a mortgage deed which 
has been lost; the second is from a conveyance in the possession of 
the corporation of London; the other thsee are from the three 
sheets of paper constituting his will. 

Compare the foregoing scrawls with the clear and scholarly 
writing of Ben Jonson, affixed in 1604-5 to a copy of his Mask of 
Blackness, and now preserved in the British Museum: 

Or compare them with the handwriting of the famous and 
popular John Lyly, the author of Euphues, written about 1580: 



Or compare them with the following signature of Francis 

J- L^2 il^vv^ -f^s^j^ 


Or compare them with the signature of the famous Inigo Jones, 
who assisted in getting up the scenery and contrivances for masks 
at court: 

XV. His Death. 

Let us pass to another point. 

We saw that the first recorded fact in reference to the Stratford 
boy was a drunken bout in which he lost consciousness, and layout 
in the fields all night. The history of his life terminates with a sim- 
ilar event. 

Halliwell-Phillipps thus gives the tradition: 

It is recorded that the party was a jovial one, and, according to a somewhat 
late but apparently reliable tradition, when the great dramatist was returning to 
New Place in the evening, he had taken more wine than was. conducive to pedestrian 
accuracy. Shortly or immediately afterwards, he was seized by the lamentable 
fever which terminated fatally on Friday, April 23. The cause of the malady, then 
attributed to undue festivity, would now be readily discernible in the wretched san- 
itary conditions surrounding his residence. If truth, and not romance, is to be 
invoked, were there the woodbine and the sweet honeysuckle within reach of the 
poet's death-bed, their fragrance would have been neutralized by their vicinity to 
middens, fetid water-courses, mud-walls and piggeries. 1 

'Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life of Shak., p. 170. 



And from such a cause, and in the midst of such surroundings, 
we are told, died the greatest man of his race; leaving behind him 
not a single tradition or memorial that points to learning, culture, 
refinement, generosity, elevation of soul or love of humanity. 

If he be in truth the author of the Plays, then indeed is it one 
of the most inexplicable marvels in the history of mankind. As 
Emerson says, " I cannot marry the facts to his verse." 




Come, and take choice of all my library, 
And so beguile thy sorrow. 

Titus A ndronicus, iv, r. 

HE whole life of Shakspere is shrouded in mystery. 
Richard Grant White says: 

We do not know positively the date of Shakespeare's birth, or the house in 
-which he first saw the light, or a single act of his life from the day of his baptism to 
the month of his obscure and suspicious marriage. We are equally ignorant of the 
date of that event, and of all else that befell him from its occurrence until we find 
him in London; and when he went there we are not sure, or when he finally 
returned to Stratford. . . . Hardly a word that he spoke has reached us, and not 
a familiar line from his hand, or the record of one interview at which he was 
present. 1 

And, again, the same writer says: 

From early manhood to maturity he lived and labored and throve in the chief 
■city of a prosperous and peaceful country, at a period of high intellectual and 
moral development. His life was passed before the public in days when the pen 
recorded scandal in the diary, and when the press, though the daily newspaper did 
not yet exist, teemed with personality. Yet of Dante, driven in haughty wretched- 
ness from city to city, and singing his immortal hate of his pursuers as he fled, we 
know more than we do of Shakespeare, the paucity of whose personal memorials 
is so extreme that he has shared with the almost mythical Homer the fortune of 
having the works which made his name immortal pronounced medleys, in the com- 
position of which he was but indirectly and partially concerned.' 2 

Hallam says: 

Of William Shakespeare it may be truly said we know scarcely anything. . . . 
While I laud the labors of Mr. Collier, Mr. Hunter and other collectors of such 
crumbs, I am not sure that we should not venerate Shakespeare as much if they 
had left him undisturbed in his obscurity. To be told that he played a trick on a 
brother player in a licentious amour, or that he died of a drunken frolic, does not 
exactly inform us of the man who wrote Lear. If there was a Shakespeare of 
earth there was also one of heaven, and it is of him that we desire to know some- 
thing. 3 

This is certainly extraordinary. 
It was an age of great men. 

1 White, Life and Genius of Shak., p. 4. 2 Ibid., p. 1. 3 Introduction to Literature of Europe. 



Richard Grant White says: 

Unlike Dante, unlike Milton, unlike Goethe, unlike the great poets and trage- 
dians of Greece and Rome, Shakespeare left no trace upon the political, or even 
the social life of his era. Of his eminent countrymen, Raleigh, Sidney, Spenser, 
Bacon, Cecil, Walsingham, Coke, Camden, Hooker, Drake, Hobbes, Inigo Jones, 
Herbert of Cherbury, Laud, Pym, Hampden, Selden, Walton, Wotton and Donne 
may be properly reckoned as his contemporaries; and yet there is no proof what- 
ever that he was personally known to either of these men, or to any others of less 
note among the statesmen, scholars, soldiers and artists of his day, except the few 
of his fellow craftsmen whose acquaintance with him has been heretofore men- 
tioned. 1 

It was an age of pamphlets. Priests, politicians and players all 
vented their grievances, or set forth their views, in pamphlets, but 
in none of these is there one word from or about Shakspere. 

I, Where are his Letters ? 

It was an age of correspondence. The letters which have come 
down to us from that period would fill a large library, but in no 
one of them is there any reference to Shakspere. 

The man of Stratford passed through the world without leaving 
the slightest mark upon the politics or the society of his teeming 
and active age. 

Emerson says: 

If it need wit to know wit, according to the proverb, Shakespeare's time should 
be capable of recognizing it. Sir Henry Wotton was born four years after Shake- 
speare, and died twenty-three years after him, and I find among his correspondents 
and acquaintances the following persons: Theodore Beza, Isaac Casaubon, Sir 
Philip Sidney, the Earl of Essex, Lord Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Milton, Sir 
Henry Vane, Isaac Walton, Dr. Donne, Abraham Cowley, Bellarmine, Charles 
Cotton, John Pym, John Hales, Kepler, Vieta, Albericus Gentilis, Paul Sarpi, 
Arminius — with all of whom exists some token of his having communicated, with- 
out enumerating many others whom doubtless he (Wotton) saw — Shakspeare, 
Spenser, Jonson, Beaumont, Massinger, two Herberts, Marlowe, Chapman and 
the rest. Since the constellation of great men who appeared in Greece in the time 
of Pericles, there was never any such society; yet their genius failed them to find 
out the best head in the universe. Our poet's mask was impenetrable. 2 

We read in a sonnet attributed to his pen that he highly valued 
Spenser; and we find Spenser, it is claimed, alluding to the author 
of the Plays; the dedications of the Venus and Adonis and the Rafe 
of Lucrece are supposed to imply close social relationship with the 
Earl of Southampton; we are told Elizabeth conversed with him 
and King James wrote him a letter; we have pictures of him sur- 

1 Lift and Genius o/Skak., p. 185. - Representative Men, p. 200. 


rounded by a circle of friends, consisting of the wisest and wittiest 
of the age; and yet there has been found no scrap of writing from 
him or to him; no record of any dinner or festival at which he met 
any of his associates. In the greatest age of English literature the 
greatest man of his species lives in London for nearly thirty years, 
and no man takes any note of his presence. 

Contrast the little we know of Shakspere with the great deal we 
know of his contemporary Ben Jonson. We are acquainted some- 
what with the career even of Ben's father; we know that Ben 
attended school in London, and was afterward at Cambridge; — 
there is no evidence that Shakspere ever was a day at school in his 
life. We know that Jonson enlisted and served as a young man in 
the wars in the Low Countries. Shakspere's biography, from the 
time he left Stratford, in 1585-7, until he appears in London as a 
writer of plays, is an utter blank, except the legend that he held 
horses at the door of the theater. We know all about Jonson's 
return home; his marriage; his duel with Gabriel Spencer. We 
are certain of the date of the first representation of each of his plays; 
there is a whole volume of matter touching the quarrels between 
himself and other writers. He published his own works in 16 16. 
and received a pension from James I. We have letters extant 
describing the suppers he gave, his manners, weaknesses, appear- 
ance, etc. 

But with Shakspere all this is different. Where are the letters 
he must have received during the thirty years he was in London, 
if he was the man of active mind given out by the Plays ? If he had 
received but ten a year, they would make a considerable volume, 
and what! a world of light they would throw upon his pursuits and 

But two letters are extant — those to which I have already 
referred : one addressed to him soliciting a loan of money; an- 
other addressed to a third party, in which he is referred to in the 
same connection; but there is not one word as to studies, or art, 
or literature, or politics, or science, or religion; and yet the mind 
that wrote the Plays embraced all these subjects, and had thought 
profoundly on all of them. He loved the art of poetry passionately: 
he speaks of " the elegance, facility and golden cadence of poetry; " * 

1 Lace's Labor Lost, iv, 2. ___—■____ 


or TMC ' 


he aspired to a " muse of fire that would ascend the highest heaven 
•of invention; " he struggled for perfection. Had he no intercourse 
with the poets of his time ? Was there no mutual coming-together 
of men of kindred tastes and pursuits? 

Is it not most extraordinary that he should leave behind him 
this vast body of plays, the glory and the wonder of which fills the 
world, and not a scrap of paper except five signatures, three of 
which were affixed to his will, and the others to some legal docu- 
ments ? 

On the one side we have the Plays — vast, voluminous, immortal, 
covering and ranging through every department of human thought. 
These are the works of Shakespeare. 

On the other hand, these five signatures are the sum total of the 
life-labors of Shakspere which have come down to us. 

In these rude, illiterate scrawls we stand face to face with the 
man of Stratford. What an abyss separates them from the majestic, 
the god-like Plays ? 

It is a curious fact that all the writings were put forth in the 
name of Shakespeare, very often printed with a hyphen, as I have 
given it above, Shakespeare ; while in every one of the five cases 
where the man's signature has come down to us, he spells his name 

In this work, wherever I allude to the mythical writer, I designate 
him as Shakespeare; whenever I refer to the man of Stratford, I give 
him the name he gave himself — Shakspere. 

The history of mankind will be searched in vain for another 
instance where a great man uniformly spelled his name one way on 
the title-pages of his works, and another way in the important 
legal documents which he was called upon to sign. Can such a 
fact be explained ? 

But passing from this theme we come to another question: 

II. Where are his Books? 

We have seen that the author of the Plays was a man of large 
learning; that he had read and studied Homer, Plato, Heliodorus, 
Sophocles, Euripides, Dares Phrygius, Horace, Virgil, Lucretius, 
Statius, Catullus, Seneca, Ovid, Plautus, Plutarch, Boccaccio, Berni 
and an innumerable array of French novelists and Spanish and 


Danish writers. The books which have left their traces in the Plays 
w T ould of themselves have constituted a large library. 

What became of them ? 

There were no public libraries in that day to which the student 
could resort. The man who wrote the Plays must have gathered 
around him a vast literary store, commensurate with his own intel- 
lectual activity. 

Did William Shakspere, of Stratford-on-Avon, possess such a 
library ? 
J If he did, there is not the slightest reference to it in his will. 

The man who wrote the Plays would have loved his library; he 
would have remembered it in his last hours. He could not have 
forgotten Montaigne, Holinshed, Plutarch, Ovid, Plato, Horace, the 
French and Italian romances, to remember his "brod silver and 
gilt bole," his "sword," his "wearing apparel," and his "second 
best bed with the furniture." 

The man of Stratford forgot Homer and Plato, but his mind 
dwelt lovingly, at the edge of the grave, on his old breeches and 
the second-hand bed-clothes. 

Compare his will with that of one who was his contemporary, 
Robert Burton, the author of The Anatomy of Melancholy. I quote a 
few items from it. 

After leaving certain sums of money to Christ Church, Oxford, 
to buy books w/th, and to Brasennose Library, he says: 

If I have any books the University Library hath not, let them take them. If I 
have any books our own library hath not, let them take them. I give to Mrs. Fell 
all my English Books of Husbandry one excepted. ... To Mrs. lies my Gerard's 
Herbal. To Mrs. Morris my Country Farm, translated out of French, 4, and all 
my English Physick Books to Mr. Whistler, the Recorder of Oxford. ... To 
all my fellow students, Mrs. of Arts, a book in Folio or two apiece. . . . To 
Master Morris my Atlas Geografer and Ortelius Theatrum Mond. . . . To Doctor 
lies, his son, Student Salauntch on Paurrhelia and Lucian's Works in 4 tomes. 
If any books be left let my executors dispose of them with all such Books 
as are written with my own hands, and half my Melancholy copy, for Crips hath 
the other half. 

This will was made in 1639, twenty-three years after Shakspere's 
death, and shows how a scholar tenderly remembers his library 
when he comes to bid farewell to the earth. , 

The inventory of Shakspere's personal property has never been^ 
found. Halliwell-Phillipps says: 


If the inventory ever comes to light, it can hardly fail to be of surpassing 
interest, especially if it contains a list of the books preserved at New Place. These 
must have been very limited in number, for there is no allusion to such luxuries in the 
-mill. Anything like a private library, even of the smallest dimensions, was then 
of the rarest occurrence, and that Shakespeare ever owned one, at any time of his 
life, is exceedingly improbable} 

But surely the man who could write as follows could not have 

lived without his books: 

Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book; . . . his intellect 
is not replenished; he is only an animal; only sensible in the duller parts. 2 

There is no evidence that Shakspere possessed a single book. 
It was supposed for some time that the world had a copy of a work 
from his library, the Essays of Montaigne, but it is now conceded 
that the signature on the title-leaf is a forgery. The very forgery 
showed the instinctive feeling which possessed intelligent men that 
the author of Hamlet must have owned a library, and would have lov- 
ingly inscribed his name in his favorite books. 

III. Where is the Debris of his Work-shop. 

It was an age of commonplace-books. 

Halliwell-Phillipps calls the era of Shakspere "those days of 

Shakespeare himself presented a commonplace-book to some 
friend, and wrote this sonnet, probably on the fly-leaf: 

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear, 

Thy dial how thy precious moments waste; 
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear, 

And of this book this learning mayst thou taste. 
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show 

Of mouthed graves will give thee memory; 
Thou by the dial's shady stealth mayst know 

Time's thievish progress to eternity. 
Look, what thy memory cannot contain, 

Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find 
These children nursed, delivered from thy brain 

To take a nezo acquaintance of thy mind. 
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look, 
Shall profit thee, and much enrich thy book. 3 

That distinguished scholar, Prof. Thomas Davidson, expresses 
the opinion that this word offices may be identical with the Promus 
of Bacon, some leaves of which are now in the British Museum. 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life of Shak., p. 186. * Love 1 s L^abor Lost, iv, 2. 

3 Sonnet lxxvii. 



The sonnet describes just such a commonplace-book as Bacon's 
Promus is; and Prof. Davidson adds: 

Promus is the Latin for offices, that is, larder. Offices here has always seemed 
a strange word. Its significance appears to have been overlooked. The German 
translations omit it. 

The real author of the Plays was a laborious student; we will 
see hereafter how he wrote and re-wrote his works. This sonnet 
shows that he must have kept commonplace-books, in which he 
noted down the thoughts and facts which he feared his memory 
could not contain, to subsequently " enrich his book" with them. 
With such habits he must have accumulated during his life-time a 
vast mass of material, the debris, the chips of the work-shop, hewn 
off in shaping the stately statues of his thought. 

What became of them ? 

IV. Where are the Original Copies of the Plays? 

Let the reader write off one page of any one of the Shakespeare 

Plays, and he can then form some conception of the huge mass of 

manuscripts which must have been in the hands of the author. 

But as there is evidence that some of the Plays were re-written more 

than once, and "enlarged to as much again," there must have been, 

in the hands of the author, not only these original or imperfect 

manuscript copies, but the final ones as well. Moreover, there had 

been seventy-two quarto editions of the Plays. These, even if 

imperfect and pirated, as it is claimed, were 

His children, nursed, delivered of his brain; 

and if the Stratford man was really the father of the Plays, and 

believed that 

Not marble, 
Nor the gilded monuments of princes, 
Should outlive this powerful rhyme, 

what would be more natural than that he should take with him to 
Stratford copies of these quarto editions? Can we conceive of a 
great writer withdrawing to his country residence, to live out the 
remainder of his life, without a single copy of the works which had 
given him wealth, fame and standing as a gentleman ? 

And if he possessed such books, commonplace-books and man- 
uscripts, why did he not, 

Dying, mention them within his will, 


as the real author says the Roman citizen would a hair from the 
head of the dead Caesar? For all the dust of all the Caesars would 
not compare in interest for mankind with these original manu- 
scripts and note-books; and the man who wrote the Plays knew it, 
and announced it with sublime audacity: 

But thy eternal summer shall not fade, 

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; 
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade, 
When in eternal lines to time thou goest. 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, 
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

Appleton Morgan says: 

More than a century and a half of vigorous and exhaustive research, bounded 
only by the limits of Great Britain, have failed to unearth a single scrap of memo- 
randa or manuscript notes in William Shakespeare's handwriting, as preparation 
for any one or any portion of these plays or poems. 

But it will be said that this utter disappearance of the original 
copies, note-books, memoranda, letters, quarto editions and library 
is due to the destruction and waste of years. 

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, 
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion. 

But certain things are to be remembered. 

It must be remembered that Shakspere was the one great man 

of his race and blood. He had lifted his family from obscurity 

to fame, from poverty to wealth, from the condition of yeomanry 

to that of pretended gentry; all their claims to consideration rested 

upon him; and this greatness he had achieved for them not by 

the sword, or in trade, but by his intellectual genius. Hence, 

they represented him, in his monument, with pen in hand, in 

the act of writing; hence, they placed below the monument a 

declaration in Latin that he was, 'In judgment, a Nestor — in 

genius, a Socrates — in art, a Maro," and an English inscription 

which says that 

All that he hath writ 
Leaves living art but page to serve his wit. 

His daughter Susanna was buried with these lines upon her 


Witty above her sex, but that's not all, 
Wise to salvation was good Mistress Hall; 
Something of Shakespeare was in that, but this 
Wholly of him with whom she's now in bliss. 

■■ -HI . ^ 

'VER8fTy J 


His genius was more or less the subject of comment even while 
he lived and soon after his death. 

We are told, in the preface to the quarto edition of Troilus 
and Cressida, published in 1609, that Shakespeare's Plays are equal 
to the best comedy in Terence or Plautus. 

And, believe this, that when he is gone and his Comedies out of sale, you will 
scramble for them, and set up a new English Inquisition. 

In 1662, forty-six years after his death, and eight years before 
the death of his grand-daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir John Bar- 
nard, the vicar of Stratford proceeded to note down the traditions 
about him. 

How comes it, then, that this family — thus made great by the 
genius of one man, by his literary genius; conscious of his great- 
ness; aware that the world was interested in the details of his 
character and history — should have preserved no scrap of his 
writing; no manuscript copy of any of his works; no quarto edition 
of the Plays; no copy of the great Folio of 1623; no book that had 
formed part of his library; no communication addressed to him by 
any one on any subject; no incident or anecdote that would have 
illustrated his character and genius ? They had become people of 
some note; they lived in the great house of the town. One son-in- 
law was a physician, who had preserved a written record of the 
diseases that came under his observation; his grand-daughter 
Elizabeth, in 1643, entertained Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of 
King Charles, the reigning monarch, and daughter of the great 
King Henry IV. of France. The Queen remained in Shakspere's 
house, New Place, for three weeks, on her progress to join King 
Charles at Oxford. The Plays of Shakespeare were the delight of 
King Charles' court. We are assured by Dryden that Shakespeare 
was greatly popular with "the last King's court" — that of King 
James — and that Sir John Suckling, and the greater part of the 
courtiers, rated him "our Shakespeare," far above Ben Jonson, 
" even when his (Jonson's) reputation was at the highest." 

Could it be possible that the Queen and courtiers would find 
themselves in the house of the author of Hamlet and The Merry 
Wives of Windsor, and yet ask no questions about him ? And if 
they did, what more natural than for his grand-daughter to produce 
the relics she possessed of the great man — the letter of compliment 


which King James,. the King's father, had written him, as tradition 

affirms. Kings' letters were not found on every bush in Stratford. 

And such memorials, once presented to the inspection of the curious, 

would never again be forgotten. 

Would not a sweet and gentle and cultured nature have left 

behind him, in the bosom of his family, a multitude of pleasant 

anecdotes, redolent of the wit and humor that sparkle in the Plays? 

And, once uttered, the world would never permit them to die. 

No accent of the Holy Ghost 
The heedless world has ever lost. 

We are told, by Oldys, that when his brother, in his latter years, 
visited London, he was beset with questions by the actors touching 
his illustrious relative, held by them in the highest veneration; but 
he could tell them nothing. Would not similar questions be pro- 
pounded to his family? His nephew, the son of his sister, was an 
actor in London for years, but he, too, seems to have had nothing 
to tell. We know that Leonard Digges, seven years after his death, 
refers to the "Stratford monument." Interest in him was active. 

Dr. Hall's diary of the patients he visited, and the diary of law- 
yer Green, Shakspere's cousin, concerning his petty law business, 
are both extant, and are pored over by rapturous students; but 
where are Shakspere's diary and note-books? 

Neither is there any reason why his personal effects should dis- 
appear through carelessness. Dr. Hall was a man of education. 
He must have known the value of Shakspere's papers. His own 
and his father-in-law's personal property continued in the hands of 
Shakspere's heirs down to the beginning of the present century, having 
passed by will from Lady Barnard in 1670 to the heirs of Joan 
Hart, Shakspere's sister. This was long after the great Garrick 
Jubilee had been held at Stratford, and long after the world had 
grown intensely curious about everything that concerned its most 
famous man. Surely the memorials of one who was believed by his 
heirs to be the rival of Socrates in genius and of Maro in art would 
not be permitted to be destroyed by a family of even ordinary intel- 
ligence. See how the papers of Bacon — of Bacon who left no chil- 
dren, and probably an unfaithful wife — have come down to us: 
the MSS. of his books; great piles of letters, written, most of them, 
not when he was Lord Chancellor, but when he was plain Master 


Francis Bacon. Even his commonplace-books have found their 
way into the British Museum, and the very scraps of paper upon 
which his amanuensis tried his pen. Remember how Spedding 
found the origina* packages of the private letters of Lord Bur- 
leigh, just as they were tied up by the great Lord Treasurer's own 
hand, never opened or disturbed for nigh three hundred years ! 

In the British Museum they have the original manuscript copies 
of religious plays written in the reign of Henry VI., two hundred 
years before the time of Shakspere; but that marvelous collection 
has not a line of any of the plays written by the author of Lear and 

V. The Money Value of the Plays. 

Nothing is clearer than that Shakspere was a money-getting 
man. He achieved a very large fortune in a pursuit in which most 
men died paupers. He had a keen eye to profit. He was ready to 
sue his neighbor for a few shillings loaned. I have shown that he 
must have carried on the business of brewing in New Place. He 
entered into a conspiracy to wrest the right of common from the 
poor people of the town, for his own profit. 

Now, the Plays represented certain values; not alone their 
value on the stage, but the profits which came from their publica- 
tion. They were popular. 

Appleton Morgan says: 

Although constantly pirated during his lifetime, it is impossible to discover 
that anybody, or any legal representative of anybody, named Shakespeare, ever set 
up any claim to proprietorship in any of these works — works which beyond any 
literary production of that age were (as their repeatedly being subjects of piracy 
and of registration on the Stationers' books proves them to have been) of the largest 
market value. 

Why should the man who sued his neighbors for petty sums 
like two shillings pass by, in his will, these sources of emolument? 

Butrit may be said he had already sold the plays and poems to 
others. This answer might suffice as to those already printed, but 
there were seventeen plays that never saw the light until they 
appeared in the Folio edition of 1623, published seven years after 
his death. He must have owned these. Why did he make no pro- 
vision in his will for their publication — if not for glory, for gain? It 
may be said that John Heminge and Henry Cundell, who appear to 
have put forth the Folio of 1623, are mentioned in his will, and that 


they acted therein as his literary executors. But they are not 
named as executors. His sole executors are Dr. John Hall, his son- 
in-law, and Susanna, his daughter, with Thomas Russell, Esq., and 
Francis Collins, gent, as overseers. None of these parties appear 
to have had any connection with the great Folio. It was a large 
and costly work, and, even though eventually profitable, must have 
required the advance of a large sum to print it. Where did this 
money come from ? Is it probable that a couple of poor actors, 
like Heminge and Condell, would have undertaken such an outlay 
and risk while the children of Shakspere were alive and exceed- 
ingly wealthy ? I do not suppose that a work of the magnitude of 
the Folio of 1623 could have been printed for a less sum than the 
equivalent of $5,000 of our money. But at the back of the Folio 
we find this entry: 

Printed at the charges of W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, I. Smithweeke and W. 
Aspley, 1623. 

On the title-page we read: 

Printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. 

So that it appears that three men, W. Jaggard, I. Smithweeke 
and W. Aspley, paid the expenses of the publication, while only one 
man, Ed. Blount, was concerned in printing and expense both. 

So that it appears that neither Heminge and Condell, nor 
Dr. John Hall, nor Shakspere's daughter Susanna, nor Thomas 
Russell, nor Francis Collins, nor anybody else who represented 
Shakspere's blood or estate, had anything to do with the expense 
of publishing the complete edition of Shakespeare's Plays, including 
seventeen that had never before been printed, 

VI. A Mysterious Matter. 

But there is still another curious feature of this mysterious 


I quote again from Appleton Morgan: 

It is not remarkable, perhaps, that we find no copyright entries on the Station- 
ers' books in the name of Jonson, Marlowe, or other of the contemporary poets 
and dramatists, for these were continually in straitened circumstances. But, 
William Shakespeare being an exceedingly wealthy and independent gentleman 
(if, besides, one of the largest owners of literary property of his time), it is remark- 
able that the only legal method of securing literary matter, and putting it in shape 
to alienate, was never taken by him, or in his name. The silence of his will as to 


any literary property whatever is explained by the commentators by supposing 
that Shakespeare sold all his plays to the Globe or other theaters on retiring, and 
that the Globe Theater was destroyed by fire. If so, let it be shown from the only 
place where the legal transfer could have been made — the books of the Stationers' 
Company, which were not destroyed by fire, but are still extant. 

Other commentators — equally oblivious of such trifling obstacles as the laws 
of England — urge that, being unmentioned in the will, the Plays went by course of 
probate to Dr. Hall, the executor. 

But even more, in that case, certain entries and transfers at Stationers' Hall would 
have been necessary. Moreover, the copyright, being not by statute, was perpetual, 
.and could not have lapsed. In the preface to their first folio Heminge and Con- 
dell announced that all other copies of Shakespeare's plays are " stolen and surrep- 
titious." But on consulting the Stationers' books it appears that the quarto edi- 
tions were mostly regularly copyrighted according to law, whereas the first folio 
was not. Nor were the plays already copyrighted ever transferred to Heminge and 
Condell or to their publishers. 

What legal rights in England ever centered in this great first folio, except as to 
the plays which appeared therein for the first time (which Blount and Jaggard did 
copyright), must always remain a mystery. If "stolen and surreptitious copies" ex- 
isted, therefore, they were the folio, not the quarto copies. 

And again, in another publication, Mr. Morgan says: 

Heminge and Condell asserted, in 1623, that all the editions of the plays called 
Shakespeare, except their own, were "stolen and surreptitious copies." If the laws 
of England in those days are of the slightest consequence in this investigation, it 
must appear that it was actually these very men, Heminge and Condell, and not 
the other publishers, who were utterers of "stolen and surreptitious copies." For, 
whereas all other printers of Shakespeare's plays observed the laws and entered 
them for copyright, Heminge and Condell appear never to have heard of any legal 
obligations of the sort. Unless they stole them, it certainly passes man's under- 
standing to conceive how they got hold of them. For, whatever property could be 
legally alienated in those days without a record, literary property certainly could 
not be so alienated. The record of alienation could have been made in but one place, 
and it tvas never made there. 

It may be said that Heminge and Condell, being merely play- 
actors, were unfamiliar with the copyright system and law, and, 
hence, failed to properly enter the work. But Heminge and Con- 
dell, it appears by the first Folio itself, were not the men who put 
their money into the venture, but Messrs. "W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, 
I. Smithweeke and W. Aspley." Why did they not secure a title to 
the work in which they were venturing $5,000 ? They were busi- 
ness men, not actors. 

As the Folio of 1623 declares that the previous quarto editions 
were "stolen and surreptitious copies " of the Plays, "maimed and 
deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors that 
exposed them," and that they now present them "cured and perfect 
of their limbs, and all the rest, absolute in their numbers as he con- 


ceived them," etc., it follows that in 1623 Heminge and Condell 

must have had the original manuscripts in the handwriting of "the 

poet." And they assert this: 

And what he thought he uttered with that easiness that we have scarce 
received a blot in his papers. 

Now, as Heminge and Condell possessed Shakspere's original 
copies in 1623, they could not have been burned in the Globe 
Theater in 1613. 

A very large box would be required to contain them. What 
became of these fairly written, unblotted manuscripts ? Did his 
" pious fellowes," who so loved the memory of their associate that 
they compiled and published in huge and costly folio his com- 
pleted works, care nothing for these memorials, in the very hand- 
writing of him whom Ben Jonson pronounced, in the same volume 

and edition, the 

Soul of the age, 
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage; 

who "was not for an age, but for all time," and in comparison with 
whom " all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome " had produced 
was as nothing ? 

Those manuscripts have never been found, never been heard of; 
no tradition refers to them; no scrap, rag, remnant or fragment of 
them survives. 

Why did not the men who so eagerly questioned his brother, 
and who, we are told, so carefully preserved the Chandos portrait, 
secure some part of these invaluable documents, which would to-day 
be worth many times their weight in gold ? 

VII. Another Mystery. 

But another mystery attaches to these manuscripts. 

The first appearance of Troilus and Cressida was in quarto form 
in 1609, and the book contains a very curious preface, in which we 
are told that the play had never been played, " never clapper-clawed 
with the palms of the vulgar/' " never sullied with the smoky breath 
of the multitude," and we find also this remarkable statement: 

And believe this, that when he is gone and his comedies out of sale, you will 
scramble for them and set up a new English Inquisition. Take this for a warning 
and at the peril of your pleasures' loss and judgments refuse not, nor like this the 
less for not being sullied with the smoky breath of the multitude; but thank for- 


tune for the 'scape it hath made among you, since by the grand possessors' wills I 
believe vote should have prayed for them rather than been prayed. 

Here two remarkable facts present themselves: 

1. That Shakspere, who was supposed to have written his 
plays for the stage, for the profit to be drawn from their represent- 
ation to the swarming multitudes, writes a play which never is 
acted, but printed, so that any other company of players may pre- 
sent it. And this play is one of the profoundest productions of his 
great genius, full of utterances upon statecraft that are a million 
miles above the heads of the rag-tag-and-bobtail who " thunder at 
the play-house and fight for bitten apples." ' 

2. That the original copies of this play and his other come- 
dies — some or all of them — have passed out of his hands, and are 
now possessed by some grand persons not named. For, note the 
language: The writer of the preface speaks of Shakespeare's " com- 
edies" in the plural; then of the particular comedy of Troilus and 
Cressida; then of the " 'scape it hath made amongst you," that is, 
its escape out of the "grand possessors'" hands, who were unwill- 
ing to have it "'scape." In other words, we are told that these 
"grand possessors' wills " were opposed to letting them — the com- 
edies — be published. 

Charles Knight says: 

It is difficult to understand this clearly, but we learn that the copy had an 
escape from some powerful possessors. It appears to us that these possessors were 
powerful enough to prevent a single copy of any one of the plays which Shakspere 
produced in his "noon of fame," with the exception of the Troilus and Cressida 
and Lear, being printed till after his death; and that between his death, in 1616, 
and the publication of the Folio, in 1623, they continued the exercise of their power, 
so as to allow only one edition of one play which had not been printed in his life- 
time (Othello) to appear. The clear deduction from this statement of facts is, that 
the original publication of the fourteen plays published in Shakspere's lifetime 
was, with the exceptions we have pointed out, authorized by some power having the 
right to prevent the publication ; that, after 1603, till the publication of the Folio, 
that right was not infringed or contested, except in three instances. 2 

Knight thinks that these "grand possessors " were Shakspere's 
fellow actors, to whom he had assigned the Plays; but this diffi- 
culty presents itself: Would the man who wrote the preface to the 
Troilus and Cressida of 1609, and who evidently looked with con- 
tempt upon the players and the play-house, and who boasts that 

» Henry VIII., v, 3. 2 Shak., History, vol. i, p. 314. 


the play in question had never been "clapper-clawed with the 
palms of the vulgar," or "sullied with the smoky breath of the 
multitude " — would he speak of the actors who made their humble 
living before this vulgar multitude, the "vassal actors," the "legal 
vagabonds," as "grand possessors"? Do not the words imply 
some persons of higher social standing? 

And then comes this further difficulty: If the actors owned 
Troilus and Cressida, why would they not have played it, and gotten 
all the pennies and shillings out of it possible ? Or why, if written 
by an actor for actors, should it have been written so transcend- 
ently above the heads of the multitude that it could not be acted ? 
And why, if it was worth anything as a play, would the actors 
have allowed it to " 'scape " into the hands of a publisher who sends 
it forth with a sneer at the audiences who frequent their places of 
amusement. And why, if they owned all the Plays, does not their 
ownership appear somewhere on the books of copyright? And 
why, if they owned them, would they destroy their own monopoly 
by publishing them in folio in 1623, thus throwing open the doors 
to all the players of the world to act them ? And why would they 
not even copyright the book when they did so publish it? And 
why, if they did so publish it, does it appear, by the book itself, 
that they were not at the charge of publishing it, but that it was 
sent forth at the cost of four men, not actors, therein named ? 

Thus, in whatever direction we penetrate into this subject, inex- 
plicable mysteries meet us face to face. 

VIII. Pregnant Questions. 

Why should the wealthy Shakspere permit the Plays, written 
while he was wealthy, to pass into the hands of certain "grand 
possessors " ? And if these men were not actors, but bought the 
Plays of Shakspere, why should they make no attempt, during 
twenty years, to get their money back by publishing them ? And 
could they have procured them of the money-making Shakspere, if 
he wrote them, without paying for them ? And what business 
would "grand" men, not actors, not publishers, not speculators for 
profit, have with the Plays anyway? And why should they stand 
guard over them and keep them from the public for twenty years, 
and then put them all out at once, and not copyright them, thus 


making them a present to the public? And when they did publish 
them, why should they place the papers in the hands of two play- 
actors, Heminge and Condell, who pretend that they are putting 
them forth out of love for the memory of that good fellow, Will 
Shakspere? Were not Heminge and Condell a mere mask and 
cover for the "grand possessors" of the unblotted manuscripts? 

And if the man who sued Philip Rogers for jQi 19s. lod. for 
malt sold, and for two shillings money loaned, had any ownership 
in any of these plays, can we believe he would not have enforced it 
to the uttermost farthing ? Would not he and his (for they were 
all litigious) have chased the stray shillings that came from their 
publication, through court after court, and thus placed the question 
of authorship forever beyond question ? 

We are forced to conclude: 

1. Shakspere did not own the Plays and never had owned 

2. They were in the hands of and owned by some " grand" 
person or persons. 

3. This " grand " person or persons cared nothing for the 
interests of the players and made them public property; therefore, 
Heminge and Condell did not represent the players. 

4. This " grand " person or persons cared nothing for the 
money to be derived from their sale, and took out no copyright, 
but presented them freely to the world; and this was not in the 
interest of Shakspere's heirs, if he had any claim to them. 

5. And this "grand" person or persons cared nothing for 
the money to be made out of them, or he or they would, in 
the period of twenty years, between 1603 and 1623, have printed 
and reprinted them in quarto form, and made a profit out of 

But there is another striking fact in connection with the ques- 
tion of the manuscripts. 

IX. Another Mystery. 

The whole publication of the Folio of 1623 is based on a fraudulent 

Heminge and Condell, in their preface, addressed " to the great 
variety of readers," say: 


It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthy to have been wished that the 
author himself had lived to have set forth, and overseen his own writings. 
But since it hath bin ordained otherwise, and he by death departed from that 
right, we pray you do not envy his friends the office of their care and paine. 
to have collected and publish'd them; and so to have publish'd them as where 
(before) you were abus'd with diverse stolne and surreptitious copies, maimed 
and deformed by the frauds and steal thes of injurious impostors, that exposed 
them, even those are now offered to your view cur'd and perfect of their 
limbs, and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, 
as he was a happie imitator of nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. 
His mind and his hand went together. And what he thought he uttered 
with that easiness that we have scarce received from him a blot in his 

And on the title-page of the Folio we read: "Mr. William Shake- 
speare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according 
to the true originall copies." We have also a list of "the principal 
actors in all these plays," prefaced by these words: 

The works of William Shakespeare, containing all his Comedies, Histories and 
Tragedies: Truely set forth according to their first originall. 

Here we find four things asserted: 

i. That the Folio was printed from the original copies. 

2. That Heminge and Condell had "collected" these copies 
and published them in the Folio. 

3. That the quarto editions were " stolne and surreptitious 
copies, maimed and deformed." 

4. That what Shakespeare wrote was poured from him, as if 
by inspiration, so that he made no corrections, and " never blotted 
a line," as Ben Jonson said. 

These statements are met by the following facts: 
I. Some of the finest thoughts and expressions, distinctively 
Shakespearean, and preeminently so, are found in the quarto edi- 
tions, and not in the Folio. 

For instance, in the play of Hamlet, nearly all of scene iv, act 4, 
is found in the quarto and not in the Folio. In the quarto copy 
we find the following passages: 

What is a man, 
If his chief good and market of his time 
Be but to sleep and feed ? A beast, no more. 
Sure he that made us with such large discourse, 
Looking before and after, gave us not 
That capability and god-like reason 
To fust in us unused. 


And again: 

Rightly to be great 
Is, not to stir without great argument, 
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw, 
When honor's at the stake. 

No one can doubt that these passages came from the mind 
we are accustomed to call Shakespeare. Hundreds of other 
admirable sentences can be quoted which appear in the quartos, 
but not in the Folio. It follows, then, that Heminge and Condell 
did not have "the true original copies," or they would have con- 
tained these passages. It follows, also, that there must have been 
some reason why portions of the quarto text were omitted from the 
Folio. It follows, also, that, in some respects, the "stolne and 
surreptitious " copies of the quarto are more correct than the Folio, 
and that but for the quartos we would have lost some of the finest 
gems of thought and expression which go by the name of 

II. The statement that Shakespeare worked without art, that 
he improvised his great productions, that there was scarce "a blot 
in his papers," in the sense that he made no corrections, is not 
only incompatible with what we know of all great works of 
art, but is contradicted on the next page but one of the Folio, 
by Ben Jonson, in his introductory verses. « 

He says: 

Yet must I not give Nature all. Thy Art, 

My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part. 

For though the Poet's matter Nature be, 

His Art doth give the fashion. And that he 

Who casts to write a living line must sweat 

(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat 

Upon the Muse's an vile, turn the same 

(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame, 

Or for the laurel he may gain a scorne; 

For a good Poet's made, as well as borne. 

And such ivcrt thou. Look how the father's face 

Lives in his issue; even so the race 

Of Shakespeare's^mind and manners brightly shines 

In his well-torned and true-filed lines. 

Here, then, we have the two play-actors, and friends of Shake- 
speare, Heminge and Condell, squarely contradicted by another 
friend and play-actor, Ben Jonson. One asserts that Shakespeare 
wrote without art; the other, that he sweat over his "true- 

1 1 a r7>s 

Of rOJ* ) 

y ~/VERs 



filed lines" and turned them time and again on the "Muse's 

Several of the plays exist in two forms: — first, a brief form, 
suitable for acting; secondly, an enlarged form, double the size of 
the former. This is true of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V. y The Merry- 
Wives of Windsor and Hamlet. 

For instance, the first edition of Henry V. contains 1,800 lines; 
the enlarged edition has 3,500 lines. Knight says: 

In this elaboration the old materials are very carefully used up; but they 
are so thoroughly refitted and dovetailed with what is new, that the operation 
can only be compared to the work of a skillful architect, who, having an 
ancient mansion to enlarge and beautify, with a strict regard to its original 
character, preserves every feature of the structure, under other combinations, 
with such marvelous skill, that no unity of principle is violated, and the whole 
has the effect of a restoration in which the new and the old are undistinguish- 
able. 1 

Knight gives a specimen of this work, taken from the quarto 
Henry V. of 1608 and the Folio of 1623. We print in the second 
column, in italics, those parts of the text derived from the quarto, 
and which reappear in the Folio: 

Quarto 1608. 
King. Sure we thank you; and, good 

my lord, proceed 
Why the law Salique, which they have 

in France, 
Or should or should not stop us in our 

And God forbid, my wise and learned 

That you should fashion, frame or wrest 

the same. 
For God doth know how many now in 

Shall drop their blood, in approbation 
Of what your reverence shall incite us to. 
Therefore, take heed how you impawn 

our person; 
How you awake the sleeping sword of 

We charge you in the name of God take 

After this conjuration speak, my lord; 
A*.nd we will judge, note and believe in 


Folio 1623. 
King. Sure, we thank you. 

My learned lord, I pray you to proceed 
And justly and religiously unfold 
Why the lazv Salique, that they have in 

Or should or should not bar us in our 

And God forbid, my dear and faithful 

That you should fashion, wrest or bow 

your reading, 
Or nicely charge your understanding 

With opening titles miscreate, whose 

Suits not in native colors with the truth 
For God doth know hozv many now in 

Shall drop their blood, in approbation 
Of what your i-everence shall incite us to : 
Therefore, take heed how you impawn our 

person ; 
L low you' awake the sleeping sword of war; 

Charles Knight, Ptct. Shak., Histories, vol. i, p. ^10. 


That what you speak is washed as pure We charge you in the name of God take 
As sin in baptism. heed. 

For never two such kingdoms did con- 

Without much fall of blood, whose guilt- 
less drops 

Are every one a woe, a sore complaint, 

'Gainst him whose wrongs give edge 
unto the swords 

That make such waste in brief mortality. 

Under this conjuration speak, my lord ; 

And 7ve will hear, note and believe in 
heart, ■ 

That what you speak is, in your con- 
science, washed 

As pure as sin with baptism. 

Now Heminge and Condell claim, in the Folio, that the play of 
Henry V. was printed from the "true original " copy, and that it 
came from the mind of Shakspere without a blot; while here is 
proof conclusive that it was not printed from the first original 
copy; and that it did not come, heaven-born, from the soul of the 
creator; but that the writer, whoever he might be, was certainly 
a man of vast industry and immense adroitness, nimbleness and 
subtlety of mind. 

False in one thing, false in all. Heminge and Condell did not 
have the author's original manuscripts, with all the interlineations; 
and corrections, before them to print from, but a fair copy from 
some other pen. They do not seem to have known that there was 
that 1608 edition of the play. In fact, they do not even seem to know 
how to spell their own names. At the end of the introduction,, 
from which I have quoted, they sign themselves, " John Heminge "' 
and " Henrie Condell," while in the list of actors, published by 
themselves, they appear as "John Hemmings " and " Henry Con- 
dell;" and Shakspere calls them, in his will, "John Hemynge" and 
" Henry Cundell." 

If the play-actor editors thus falsified the truth, or were them- 
selves the victims of an imposition, what confidence is to be placed 
in any other statement they make ? What assurance have we that 
they had collected the original manuscript copies; that they ever 
saw them; in short, that they were the work of Shakspere or in his 
handwriting ? What assurance have we that the whole introduction 
and dedication to which their names are appended were not written 



by some one else, and that they were but a mask for those "grand 
possessors" who, seven years before Shakspere's death, owned the 
play of Troihis and Cressida ? 

In fact, a skeptical mind can see, even in the verses which face 
the portrait of Shakspere in the Folio of 1623, the undercurrent of 
a double meaning. They commence: 

The figure that thou here seest put, 
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut. 

Is the -\Yord gentle here, a covert allusion to Shakspere's 
ridiculous and fraudulent pretensions to "gentle" blood, and to 
that bogus coat-of-arms which we are told he had engraved in 
stone over the door of New Place in Stratford ? 

Wherein the graver had a strife ' 
With Nature to out-doo the life. 

No one can look at that picture and suppose that B. I. (Ben 
Jonson) was serious in this compliment to the artist. 
Appleton Morgan says: 

In this picture the head of the subject is represented as rising out of an 
horizontal plane of collar appalling to behold. The hair is straight, combed down 
the sides of the face and bunched over the ears; the forehead is disproportionately 
high; the top of the head bald; the face has the wooden expression familiar in the 
Scotchmen and Indians used as signs for tobacconists' shops, accompanied by an 
idiotic stare that would be but a sorry advertisement for the humblest establish- 
ment in that trade. 

If this picture "out-does the life," what sort of a creature must 
the original have been ? 

O, could he but have drawn his wit 
As well in brass as he hath hit 
His face, the print would then surpass 
All that was ever writ in brass. 

This thought of "drawing his wit" is singularly enough taken 
from an inscription around another portrait — not that of Shak- 
spere, but of Francis Bacon. On the margin of a miniature 
of Bacon, painted by Hilliard in 1578, when he was in his 
eighteenth year, are found these words, "the natural ejaculation, 
probably," says Spedding, "of the artist's own emotion": Si 
tabula daretur digna, animum mallem — if one could but paint his 
mind! 2 

• The Shak. Myth, p. 95. 2 Life and Works 0/ Bacon, Spedding, Ellis, etc., vol. i, p. 7. 



Let us read again those lines: 

O, could he but have drawn his wit 
As well in brass as he hath hit 
His face, the print would then surpass 
All that was ever writ — in brass ! 

That is to say, his wit drawn in brass would surpass, in brass, all 
that was ever written. Is not this another way of intimating that 
only a brazen-faced man, like Shakspere, would have had the impu- 
dence to claim the authorship of plays which were not written by 
him ? 

And that this is not a forced construction we can see by turning 
to the Plays, where we will find the words brass and brazen used in 
the same sense as equivalents for impudence. 

Can any face of brass hold longer out? 1 
Well said, brazen-ia.ce.' 
A brazen-faced valet. 3 

It seems to me there is even a double meaning to some of the 
introductory verses of the Folio of 1623, signed Ben Jonson. The 
verses are inscribed — 

To the memory of my beloved — the Author — Mr. William Shakespeare — 
and — what he hath left us. 

What does this mean: "what he hath left us"? Does it mean 
his works ? How could Ben Jonson inscribe verses to the memory 
of works — plays? We speak of the memory of persons, not of 
productions; of that which has passed away and perished, not of 
that which is but beginning to live; not of the 

Soul of the age ! 
The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our stage ! 

In the same volume, on the next page, we are told, 

For though his line of life went soon about, 
The life yet of his lines will never out. 

Could Ben Jonson inscribe his verses to the memory of works 
which, he assures us in the same breath, were not "for an age, but 
for all time " ? Can you erect a memorial monument over immortal 

What did William Shakspere leave behind him that held any 
:onnection with the Plays ? Was it the real author — Francis Bacon ? 

1 Love's Labor Lost, v, 2. 2 Merry Wives 0/ Windsor, iv, 2. 3 Lear, ii, 2. 


And this thought seems to pervade the verses. Jonson says: 
Thou art alive still — while thy book doth live. 
And again: 

Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were 

To see thee in our waters yet appear, 

And make those flights upon the banks of Thames, 

That so did take Eliza and our James. 

That is to say, Ben Jonson expresses to the dead Shakspere 

the hope that he would reappear and make some more dramatic 

" flights" — that is, write some more plays. Such a wish would be 

absurd, if applied to the dead man, but would be very significant, if 

the writer knew that the real author was still alive and capable of 

new flights. And the closing words of the verses sound like an 

adjuration to Bacon to resume his pen: 

Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage 

Or influence chide or cheer the drooping stage, 

Which, since thy flight from thence, hath mourned like night, 

And despaires day, but for thy volumes' light. 

The play-houses had the manuscript copies of the Plays, and 
had been regularly acting them; it needed not, therefore, the pub- 
lication of the Folio in 1623 to enable the poet to shine forth. 

If the "drooping stage" "mourned like night," it was not for 

the Plays which appear in the Folio, for it possessed them; it had 

been acting them for twenty years; but it was because the supply 

of new plays had given out. Hugh Holland says on the next page: 

Dry'd is that vein, dry'd is the Thespian spring. 

How comes it, then, that Ben Jonson expresses the hope that 
the author would reappear, and write new plays, and cheer the 
drooping stage, and shine forth again, if he referred to the man 
whose mouldering relics had been lying in the Stratford church for 
seven years? 

X. Ben Jonson's Testimony. 

It must not be forgotten that Ben Jonson was in the employ- 
ment of Francis Bacon; he was one of his "good pens ;" he helped 
him to translate his philosophical works into Latin. If there was a 
secret in connection with the authorship of the Plays, Ben Jonson, 
as Bacon's friend, as play-actor and play-writer, doubtless knew it. 
And it is very significant that at different periods, far apart, he 
employed precisely the same words in describing the genius of 




William Shakspere and the genius of Francis Bacon. In these 
verses, from which I have been quoting, he says, speaking ostensi- 
bly of Shakspere: 

Or when thy socks were on, 
Leave thee alone, for the comparison 
Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome 
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come. 

Jonson died in 1637. His memoranda, entitled Ben Jonsoris 
Discoveries, were printed in 1640. One of these refers to the emi- 
nent men of his own and the preceding era. After speaking of Sir 
Thomas More, the Earl of Surrey, Challoner, the elder Wyatt, Sir 
Nicholas Bacon, Sir Philip Sydney, the Earl of Essex and Sir Wal- 
ter Raleigh, he says: 

Lord Egerton, a grave and great orator, and best when he was provoked; but 
his learned and able but unfortunate successor (Sir Francis Bacon) is he that hath 
filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or, 
preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. 

What a significant statement is this ! 

Francis Bacon had " filled up all numbers." That is to say, he 

had compassed all forms of poetical composition. Webster defines 

" numbers " thus: 

That which is regulated by count; poetic measure, as divisions of time or 
number of syllables; hence, poetry, verse — chiefly used in the plural. 
I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came. — Pope. 
Yet should the muses bid my numbers roll. — Pope. 

In Love's Labor Lost, Longaville says, speaking of some love 

verses he had written: 

I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move; 

O sweet Maria, empress of my love, 

These numbers will I tear, and write in prose. x 

But when Ben Jonson, who had helped translate some of 

Bacon's prose works, comes to sum up the elements of his patron's 

greatness, he passes by his claims as a philosopher, a scholar, a 

lawyer, an orator and a statesman; and the one thing that stands 

out vividly before his mind's eye, that looms up above all other 

considerations, is that Francis Bacon is 3. poet — a great poet — a 

poet who has written in all measures, " has filled up all numbers " 

— the sonnet, the madrigal, rhyming verse, blank verse. And what 

had he written ? Was it the translation of a few psalms in his old 

1 Act iv, scene 3. 


age, the only specimens of his poetry that have come down to us, 
in his acknowledged works ? No; it was something great, some- 
thing overwhelming; something that is to be "compared or pre- 
ferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome." 

And what was it that "insolent Greece and haughty Rome" 
had accomplished to which these "numbers" of Bacon could 
be preferred ? We turn to Jonson's verses in the Shakespeare 
Folio and we read: 

And though thou hadst small Latine and less Greek, 

From thence to honor thee I would not seeke 

For names, but call forth thundering ^Eschilus, 

Euripides and Sophocles to us, 

Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead, 

To life again, to hear thy buskin tread, 

And shake a stage; or, when thy socks were on, 

Leave thee alone, for the comparison 

Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome 

Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come. 

The "numbers" of Bacon are to be compared or preferred either 
to insolent Greece or haughty Rome — that is to say, to the best 
poetical compositions of those nations. And when Ben Jonson 
uses this expression we learn, from the verses in the Folio, what 
kind of Greek and Roman literary work he had in his mind; it was 
not the writings of Homer or Virgil, but of iEschylus, Euripides, 
Sophocles, etc. — that is to say, the dramatic writers. Is it not extraor- 
dinary that Jonson should 'not only assert that Bacon had pro- 
duced poetical compositions that would challenge comparison with 
the best works of Greece and Rome, but that he should use the 
same adjectives, and in the same order, that he had used in the Folio 
verses, viz.: insolent Greece and haughty Rome? It was not haughty 
Greece and insolent Rome, or powerful Rome and able Greece, 
or any other concatenation of words; but he employs precisely 
the same phrases in precisely the same order. How comes it 
that when his mind was dwelling on the great poetical and 
secret works of Bacon — for they must have been secret — he 
reverted to the very expressions he had used years before in 
reference to the Shakespeare Plays ? 

And it is upon Ben Jonson's testimony that the claims of Will- 
iam Shakspere, of Stratford, to the authorship of the Plays, princi- 
pally rest. 


If the Plays are not Shakspere's then the whole make-up of the 
Folio of 1623 is a fraud, and the dedication and the introduction 
are probably both from the pen of Bacon. 

Mr. J. T. Cobb calls attention to a striking parallelism between 
a passage in the dedication of the Folio and an expression of Bacon: 
Country hands reach forthe milk, cream and fruits, or what they have. 1 

Bacon writes to Villiers: 

And now, because I am in the country, I will send you some of my country 
fruits, which with me are goocl meditations, which when I am in the city are choked 
with business.* 2 

And in the " discourse touching the plantation in Ireland," he 
asks his majesty to accept "the like poor field-fruits." 

We can even imagine that in the line, 

And though thou hadst small Latine and less Greek, 
Ben Jonson has his jest at the man who had employed him to 
write these verses. For Jonson, it will be remembered, was an 
accurate classical scholar, while Bacon was not. The latter was 
like Montaigne, who declared he could never thoroughly acquire any 
language but his own. Dr. Abbott, head master of the City of 
London school, in his introduction to Mrs. Pott's great work, 3 refers 
to "several errors which will make Latin and Greek scholars feel 
uneasy. For these in part Bacon himself, or Bacon's amanuensis, is 
responsible ; and many of the apparent Latin solecisms or mis- 
spellings arise . . . from the manuscripts of the Promus" He adds 
in a foot-note: 

I understand that it is the opinion of Mr. Maude Thompson, of the British 
Museum manuscript department, that all entries, except some of the French prov- 
erbs, are in Bacon's handwriting ; so that no amanuensis can bear the blame of 
the numerous errors in the Latin quotations. 

How "rare old Ben" must have enjoyed whacking Bacon over 

Shakespeare's shoulders, in verses written at the request of Bacon ! 

XI. A Greater Question. 

When the crushing blow of shame and humiliation fell upon 
Francis Bacon in 162 1, and he expected to die under it, he hurriedly 
drew a short will. It does not much exceed in length one page of 
Spedding's book, and yet in this brief document he found time to say: 

x Dedication, Folio 1623. 2 Montagu, iii, p. 20. 3 Promus, p. 13. 


My compositions unpublished, or the fragments of them, I require my servant 
Harris to deliver to my brother Constable, to the end that if any of these be fit, in 
his judgment, to be published, he may accordingly dispose of them. And in partic- 
ular I wish the Elogium I wrote, In felicem memoriam Regince Elizabethce, may be 
published. And to my brother Constable I give all my books; and to my servant 
Harris for this his service and care fifty pieces in gold, pursed up. 

He disposed of all his real property in five lines, for the pay- 
ment of his debts. 

And when Bacon came to draw his last will and testament, 1 he 

devoted a large part of it to the preservation of his writings. He 


For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, and to for- 
eign nations, and the next ages. But as to the durable part of my memory, which 
consisteth ef my works and writings, I desire my executors, and especially Sir John 
Constable, and my very good friend Mr. Bosvile, to take care that of all my writings, 
both of English and of Latin, there may be books fair bound and placed in the 
King's library, and in the library of the University of Cambridge, and in the 
library of Trinity College, where myself was bred, and in the library of the 
University of Oxonford, and in the library of my lord of Canterbury, and in 
the library of Eaton. 

Then he bequeaths his register books of orations and letters to 
the Bishop of Lincoln; and he further directs his executors to 
" take into their hands all my papers whatsoever, which are either 
in cabinets, boxes or presses, and them to seal up until they may at 
their leisure peruse them." 

We are asked to believe that William Shakspere was, neces- 
sarily, as the author of the Plays, a man of vast learning, the owner 
of many books, and that he left behind him, unpublished at the 
time of his death, such marvelous and mighty works as The 
Tempest, Macbeth, Julius Ccesar, Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, Henry 
VII T. and many more; and that, while he carefully bequeathed 
his old clothes and disposed of his second-best bed, he made 
no provision for the publication of his works, " the durable part 
of his memory." 

Is it reasonable? Is it probable ? Is it not grossly improbable ? 
What man capable of writing Macbeth and Julius Ccesar, and know- 
ing their value to mankind — knowing that they lay in his house, in 
some "cabinet, box or press," probably in but one manuscript copy 
each, and that they might perish in the hands of his illiterate family 
and "bookless" neighbors — would, while carefully remembering 

1 Life and Works, vol. vii, p. 539. 


so much of the litter and refuse of the world, have died and made 
no provision for their publication ? 

But it may be said he did not own them; he may have sold 
them. It seems not, for Heminge and Condell, in their intro- 
duction to the first Folio, say that they received the original copies 
which they published from Shakespeare himself: 

And what he thought he uttered with that easiness that we have scarce received 
from him a blot in his papers. 

And again: 

It has been a thing, we confess, worthy to have been wished, that the author 
himself had lived to have set forth and overseen his own writings. 

What right would he have had to set them forth if they 
belonged to some one else ? 

But since it hath been ordained otherwise, and he by death departed from that 
right, we pray you do not envy his friends the office of their care. 

If this introduction means anything, it means that Shakspere 
owned these Plays; that he would have had the right to publish 
them if death had not interfered; that his friends and fellow-actors, 
Heminge and Condell, had, " to keep the memory of so worthy a 
friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare," assumed the task 
of publishing them; that they had received the original manu- 
scripts from him — that is, from his family — free from blot, and that 
they published from them, as all the quarto copies were "stolne 
and surreptitious, maimed and deformed by the frauds and 
stealthes of injurious impostors." 

And yet these Plays, which belonged to Shakspere's wealthy 
family, as the heirs of the author, which were printed by his " fel- 
lows" to sell to make money — for they say in their introduction: 

The fate of all books depends upon your capacities: and not of your heads 
alone but of your purses. . . . Read and censure. Do so, but buy first. 

— these Plays were not published or paid for by Shakspere's 

family, but, as the Folio itself tells us, were 

Printed at the charges of W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, I. Smithweeke, and W. 
Aspley, 1623. 


Why may that not be the skull of a lawyer ? 

Hamlet, v, /. 

NOTHING is more conclusively established than that the 
author of the Plays was a lawyer. 
Several works have been written in England and America to 
demonstrate this. I quote a few extracts: 
Franklin Fiske Heard says: 

The Comedy of Errors shows that Shakespeare was very familiar with some of 
the most refined of the principles of the science of special pleading, a science 
which contains the quintessence of the law. . . . In the second part of Henry IV., 
act v, scene 5, Pistol uses the term absque hoc, which is technical in the last degree. 
This was a species of traverse, used by special pleaders when the record was in 
Latin, known by the denomination of a special traverse. The subtlety of its texture, 
and the total dearth of explanation in all the reports and treatises extant in the 
time of Shakespeare with respect to its principle, seem to justify the conclusion 
that he must have attained a knozvledge of it from actual practice} 

Senator Davis says: 

We seem to have here something more than a sciolist's temerity of indulgence 
in the terms of an unfamiliar art. No legal solecisms will he found. The abstrusest 
elements of the common law are impressed into a disciplined service with every 
evidence of the right and knowledge of commanding. Over and over again, 
where such knowledge is unexampled in writers unlearned in the law, Shakespeare 
appears in perfect possession of it. In the law of real property, its rules of tenure 
and descents, its entails, its fines and recoveries, and their vouchers and double 
vouchers; in the procedure of the courts, the method of bringing suits and of arrests; 
the nature of actions, the rules of pleading, the law of escapes and of contempt of 
court; in the principles of evidence, both technical and philosophical; in the dis- 
tinction between the temporal and spiritual tribunals; in the law of attainder and 
forfeiture; in the requisites of a valid marriage; in the presumption of legitimacy; 
in the learning of the law of prerogative; in the inalienable character of the crown, 
this mastership appears with surprising authority.' 2 

And again the same writer says: 

I know of no writer who has so impressed into his service the terms of any 
science or art. They come from the mouth of every personage: from the Queen; 
from the child; from the merry wives of Windsor; from the Egyptian fervor of 
Cleopatra; from the lovesick Paphian goddess; from violated Lucrece; from Lear; 

1 Shakespeare as a Lawyer, pp. 43, 48. 2 The Law in Shakespeare, p. 4. 




Hamlet and Othello; from Shakespeare himself, soliloquizing in his sonnets; from 
Dogberry and Prospero; from riotous 'Falstaff and melancholy Jacques. Shake- 
speare utters them at all times as standard coin, no matter when or in what mint 
stamped. These emblems of his industry are woven into his style like the bees 
into the imperial purple of Napoleon's coronation robes. 1 

Lord Chief Justice Campbell sees the clearest evidences in the 
Plays that the writer was learned in the law. I quote a few of his 

These jests cannot be supposed to arise from anything in the laws or customs 
of Syracuse; but they show the author to be very familiar with some of the most 
abstruse proceedings in English jurisprudence.' 1 

Quoting the description of the arrest of Dromio in The Comedy 
of Errors, he says: 

Here we have a most circumstantial and graphic account of an English arrest 
on mesne process [" before judgment "] in an action on the case. 3 

In act iii, scene 1 (of As You Like It) a deep technical knowledge of the law is 

It is likewise remarkable that Cleomenes and Dion ( The Winter's Tale, Act iii, 
scene 2), the messenger who brought back the response from the oracle of Delphi, 
to be given in evidence, are sworn to the genuineness of the document they pro- 
duce almost m the very words now used by the Lord Chancellor when an officer 
presents at the bar of the House of Lords the copy of a record of a court of justice: 

You here shall swear. . . . 

That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have 

Been both at Delphos; and from thence have brought 

The sealed-up oracle, by the hand delivered 

Of great Apollo's priest; and that since then 

You have not dared to break the holy seal 

Nor read the secrets in't. 5 

And again, Lord Chief Justice Campbell says: 

We find in several of the Histories Shakespeare's fondness for law terms; 
and it is still more remarkable that whenever lie indulges this propensity he uniformly 
lays down good la70. 6 

While novelists and dramatists are constantly making mistakes as to the law 
of marriage, of wills and of inheritance, to Shakespeare's law, lavishly as he pro- 
pounds it, there can neither be demurrer, nor bill of exception, nor writ of error. 7 

If Lord Eldon could be supposed to have written the play, I do not see how he 
would be chargeable with having forgotten any of his law while writing it. 8 

The indictment in which Lord Say was arraigned, in act iv, scene 7 (2d Henry 
VI.), seems drawn by no inexperienced hand. . . . How acquired I know not, but 
it is quite certain that the drawer of this indictment must have had some acquaint- 
ance with The Crown Circuit Companion, and must have had a full and accurate 

1 The Law in Shak., p. 51. 3 Ibid., p. 39. 5 Ibid., p. 60. " Ibid., p. 108. 

t Shak. Legal Acquirements, p. 38. 4 Ibid., p. 42. 6 Ibid., p. 61. 8 Ibid., p. 73. 


knowledge of that rather obscure and intricate subject — " Felony and Benefit of 
Clergy." ■ 

Speaking of Gloster's language in Lear? Lord Campbell says: 

In forensic discussions respecting legitimacy the question is put, whether the 
individual whose status is to be determined is "capable," i.e., capable of inheriting; 
but it is only a lawyer who could express the idea of legitimizing a natural son by 
simply saying: 

I'll work the means 
To make him capable. 

Speaking of Ifa?nlet, his Lordship says: 

Earlier in the play 3 Marcellus inquires what was the cause of the warlike 
preparations in Denmark: 

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, 
And foreign mart for implements of war? 
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task 
Doth not divide the Sunday from the week ? 

Such confidence has there been in Shakespeare's accuracy that this passage 
has been quoted, both by text-writers and by judges on the bench, as an authority 
upon the legality of the press-gang, and upon the debated question whether 
shipwrights as well as common seamen are liable to be pressed into the service 
of the royal navy. 4 

Lord Campbell quotes sonnet xlvi, of which he says: 

I need not go farther than this sonnet, which is so intensely legal in its language 
and imagery that without a considerable knowledge of English forensic procedure it 
cannot be fully understood. 

Sonnet XLVI. 

Mine Eye and Heart are at a mortal war 

How to divide the conquest of thy sight; 
Mine Eye my Heart thy picture's sight would bar, 

My Heart mine Eye the freedom of that right. 
My Heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie 

(A closet never pierced with crystal eyes), 
But the Defendant doth that plea deny, 

And says in him thy fair appearance lies. 
To 'cide this title is impaneled 

A quest of Thoughts, all tenants of the Heart; 
And by their verdict is determined 

The clear Eye's moiety, and the dear Heart's part; 
As thus: mine Eyes' due is thine outward part, 
And my Heart's right, thine inward love of heart. 

One is reminded, in reading this, of Brownell's humorous lines: 

The Lawyer's Invocation to Spring. 

Whereas on certain boughs and sprays 

Now divers birds are heard to sing; 
And sundry flowers their heads upraise, 

Hail to the coming on of spring! 

1 Shak. Legal Acquirements, p. 75. 3 Hamlet, i, 1. 

2 Act ii, scene 1. 4 Shak. Legal Acquirements, p. 83. 


The songs of those said birds arouse 

The memory of our youthful hours, 
As green as those said sprays and boughs, 

As fresh and sweet as those said flowers. 

The birds aforesaid — happy pairs ! — 

Love, 'mid the aforesaid boughs, inshrines 

In freehold nests; themselves their heirs, 
Administrators and assigns. 

Oh, busiest term of Cupid's court, 

Where tender plaintiffs actions bring; 
Season of frolic and of sport, 

Hail — as aforesaid — coming spring ! 

Lord Campbell says: 

In Antony and Cleopatra, 1 Lepidus, in trying to palliate the bad qualities and 
misdeeds of Antony, uses the language of a conveyancer's chambers in Lincoln's 

His faults, in him, seem as the spots of heaven, 

More fiery by night's blackness; hereditary 

Rather than purchased. 

That is to say, they are taken by descent, not by purchase. Lay gents (viz., all 
except lawyers) understand by purchase buying for a sum of money, called the 
price, but lawyers consider that purchase is opposed to descent; that all things 
come to the owner either by descent or by purchase, and that whatever does not 
come through operation of law by descent is purchased, although it may be the free 
gift of a donor. Thus, if land be devised by will to A in fee, he takes by pur- 
chase; or to B for life, remainder to A and his heirs (B being a stranger to A), A 
takes by purchase; but upon the death of A, his eldest son would take by descent} 

Appleton Morgan says: 

But most wonderful of all is the dialogue in the graveyard scene. 

In the quarto the two grave-diggers are wondering whether Ophelia, having 
committed suicide, is to be buried in consecrated ground, instead of at a cross- 
road with a stake driven through her body, and clumsily allude to the probability 
that, having been of noble birth, a pretext will be found to avoid the law. 

It happens that in the first volume of Plowden's Reports there is a case (Hales 
vs. Petit, I. PI. 253) of which the facts bore a wonderful resemblance to the story 
of Ophelia. 

Sir James Hales was a judge of the Common Pleas, who had prominently con- 
cerned himself in opposing the succession of Mary the Bloody. When Mary 
ascended the throne, he expected decapitation, and was actually imprisoned, but 
by some influence released. His brain, however, became affected by his vicissi- 
tudes, and he finally committed suicide by throwing himself into a water-course. 
Suicide was felony, and his estates became escheated to the crown. The crown in 
turn granted them to one Petit. But Lady Hales, instructed that the escheat 
might be attacked, brought ejectment against Petit, the crown tenant. The point 
was as to whether the forfeiture could be considered as having taken place in the 
lifetime of Sir James; for, if not, the plaintiff took the estate by survivorship. 
In other words, could Sir James be visited with the penalty for plunging into a 

*Act 1, scene 4. 2 Shak. Legal Acquirements, p. 94. 


stream of water? For that was all he did actually do. The suicide was only the 
result of his act, and can a man die during his life? Precisely the point in 
Ophelia's case as to her burial in consecrated ground. If Ophelia only threw her 
self into the water, she was only a suicide by consequence, non constat that she- 
proposed to die in the aforesaid water. So the case was argued, and the debate of 
the momentous questions — whether a man who commits suicide dies during his 
own life or only begins to die; whether he drowns himself, or only goes into the 
water; whether going into water is a felony, or only part of a felony, and whether 
a subject can be attainted and his lands escheated for only part of a felony — is so 
rich in serious absurdity, and the grave-diggers' dialogue over Ophelia's proposed 
interment in holy ground so literal a travesty, that the humor of the dialogue — 
entirely the unconscious humor of the learned counsel in Hales vs. Petit — can 
hardly be anything but proof that, admitting William Shakespeare to have written 
that graveyard scene, William Shakespeare was a practicing lawyer. 

Especially since it is to be remembered that Plowderi 's report was then, as it is 
to-day, accessible in Norman Latin law jargon and black-letter type, utterly unintelli- 
gible to anybody but an expert antiquarian, and utterly uninviting to anybody. Law 
Norman or law Latin was just as unattractive to laymen in Elizabeth's day as it is 
to lawyers in ours; if possible, more so. 

The decision in Hales vs. Petit — on account of the standing of parties-plain- 
tiff — might have been town-talk for a day or two; but that the wearying, and, to 
us, ridiculous dialectics of the argument and decision were town-talk, seems the 
suggestion of a very simple or of a very bold ignorance as to town life and 

Besides, nobody sets the composition of Hamlet earlier than Nash's mention 
of "whole Hamlets" in 1587 or 1589 — and every commentator of standing puts it 
about ten years later. That the hair-splitting of a handful of counsel would 
remain town-talk for twenty-five or thirty-six years is preposterous to suppose. 
Reference to the arguments in that. case could only have been had from Plowden's 

My friend Senator Davis 1 points out another curious fact, viz.: 
that a comparison of the Hamlet of the quarto of 1603, with the 
Folio of 1623, shows that part of the text was re-written, to make it 
more correct in a legal point of view. In the quarto we read: 

Who by a sealed compact, well ratified by law 
And heraldrie, did forfeit with his life all those 
His lands, which he stood seized of, to the conqueror, 
Against the which a moiety competent 
Was gaged by our king. 

But to state this in legal form there is appended, when Hamlet 
comes to be printed in the Folio: 

— which had returned 
To the inheritance of Fortinbras 
Had he bin Vanquisher, as by the same cov'nant 
The carriage of the article designed, 
His fell to Hamlet* 

1 The Law in Shakespeare. a I famlct, i, 1. 



What poet, not a lawyer, would have stated the agreement in 
such legal phraseology; and what poet, not a lawyer, would have 
subsequently added the lines given, to show the consideration mov- 
ing to Fortinbras for the contract ? And this for the benefit of such 
an audience as commonly frequented the Globe ! 

Richard Grant White says: 

No dramatist of the time, not even Beaumont, who was a younger son of a 
judge of the Common Pleas, and who, after studying in the inns of court, aban- 
doned law for the drama, used legal phrases with Shakespeare's readiness and 
exactness. And the significance of this fact is heightened by another, that it is 
only to the language of the law that he exhibits this inclination. The phrases 
peculiar to other occupations serve him on rare occasions by way of description, 
comparison or illustration, generally when something in the scene suggests them; 
but legal phrases flow from his pen as part of his vocabulary and parcel of his 
thought. The word purchase, for instance, which in ordinary use meant, as 
now it means, to acquire by giving value, applies in law to all legal modes of 
obtaining property, except inheritance or descent. And in this peculiar sense the 
word occurs five times in Shakespeare's thirty-four plays, but only in a single 
passage in the fifty-four plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. And in the first scene 
of the Midsummer Nighfs Dream the father of Hermia begs the ancient privilege 
of Athens, that he may dispose of his daughter either to Demetrius or to death, 

According to our law 
Immediately provided in that case. 

He pleads the statute; and the words run off his tongue in heroic verse, as if he 
was reading them from a paper. 

As the courts of law in Shakespeare's time occupied public attention much 
more than they do now, it has been suggested that it was in attendance upon them 
that he picked up his legal vocabulary. But this supposition not only fails to 
account for Shakespeare's peculiar freedom and exactness in the use of that phras- 
eology — it does not even place him in the way of learning those terms, his use of 
which is most remarkable, which are not such as he would have heard at ordinary 
proceedings at nisi prius, but such as refer to the tenure or transfer of real property 
— " fine and recovery," "statutes merchant," " purchase," " indenture," " tenure," 
"double voucher," " fee simple," "fee farm," "remainder," "reversion," " fdr- 
feiture," etc. This conveyancer's jargon could not have been picked up by hang- 
ing around the courts of law in London 250 years ago, when suits as to the title to 
real property were comparatively so rare. And besides, Shakespeare uses his law 
just as freely in his early plays, written in his first London years, as in those pro- 
duced at a later period. Just as exactly, too; for the correctness and propriety 
with which these terms are introduced have compelled the admiration of a chief 
justice and a lord chancellor. 1 

And again Mr. White says: 

Genius, although it reveals general truth and facilitates all acquirement, does 
not impart facts or acquaintance with general terms; how then can we account for 
the fact that, in an age when it was the common practice for young lawyers to write 
plays, one playwright left upon his plays a stronger, a sharper legal stamp than 

1 R. G. White, Life and Genius of Shak., p. 74. 


appears upon those of any of his contemporaries, and that the characters of this 
stamp are those of the complicated law of real property. 1 

And the same man who wrote this, and who still believed the 
deer-stealer wrote the Plays, said, shortly before his death, in the 
Atlantic Magazine: 

The notion that he was once an attorney's clerk is blown to pieces. 

The first to suggest that Shakspere might, at some time, have 

been a lawyer's clerk, was Malone, who, in 1790, said: 

His knowledge of legal terms is not merely such as might be acquired by the 
casual observation of even his all-comprehending mind; it has the appearance of 
technical skill, and he is so fond of displaying it on all occasions, that I suspect he 
was early initiated in at least the forms of law, and was employed, while he yet 
remained at Stratford, in the office of some country attorney, who was at the same 
time a petty conveyancer, and perhaps also the seneschal of some manor court. 

But even Lord Chief Justice Campbell, who, as we have seen, 

asserts that the writer of the Plays was familiar with the abstrusest 

parts of the law, is forced to abandon this theory. He says, writing 

to J. Payne Collier, who favored the law-clerk theory: 

Resuming the judge, however, I must lay down that your opponents are not 
called upon to prove a negative, and that the onus probandi rests upon you. You 
must likewise remember that you require us implicitly to believe a fact, which, were 
it true, positive and irrefragable evidence, in Shakespeare's own handwriting, might 
have been forthcoming to establish it. Not having been actually enrolled as an 
attorney, neither the records of the local court at Stratford, nor of the superior 
courts at Westminster, would present his name, as being concerned in any suits as 
an attorney; but it might have been reasonably expected that there would have been 
deeds or wills witnessed by him still extant; and, after a very diligent search, none 
such can be discovered. Nor can this consideration be disregarded, that between 
Nash's Epistle, in the end of the sixteenth century, and Chalmers' suggestion, more 
than two hundred years afterwards, there is no hint, by his foes or his friends, of 
Shakespeare having consumed pens, paper, ink and pounce in an attorney's office 
at Stratford. 2 

The Nash Epistle here referred to was an " Epistle to the Gen- 
tlemen Students of the Two Universities, by Thomas Nash," pre- 
fixed to the first edition of Robert Green's Menaphon, published, 
according to the title-page, in 1589. In it Nash says: 

It is a common practice now-a-days, amongst a sort of shifting companions 
that run through every art and thrive by none, to leave the trade of noverint, 
whereto they were born, and busy themselves with the endeavors of art, that 
could scarcely Latinize their neck verse if they should have need; yet English 
Seneca, read by candle-light, yields many good sentences, as Blood is a beggar, and 
so forth ; and if you entreat him fair, in a frosty morning, he will afford you whole 
Hamlets ; I should say handfuls of tragical speeches. 

1 Life and Genius o/Shak., p. 76. 2 S/iak. Legal Acquit "tents, p. no. 


This epistle has been cited to prove that Shakspere was a law- 
yer. In Elizabeth's reign deeds were in the Latin tongue; and all 
deeds poll, and many other papers, began with the words: "Nover- 
int unirersi per presentes" — "Be it known to all men by these 
presents;" — and hence the business of an attorney was known as 
" the trade of noverint" 

But here are the difficulties that attend this matter: In the first 
place Nash charges that the party he has in view, " the shifting 
companion " who could afford whole Hamlets, was not only a lawyer, 
but bom a lawyer; — "the trade of noverint whereto they were born." 
In other words, that the party who wrote Hamlet had inherited the 
trade of lawyer. We say of one "he was born a gentleman," and 
we mean, thereby, that his father before him was a gentleman. 
Now, it is within the possibilities that Shakespeare might have 
studied for a few months, or a year or two, in some lawyer's 
office, but assuredly his father was not a lawyer; he could not 
even write his own name; he was a glover, wool-dealer or butcher. 
But the description applies precisely to Bacon, whose father had 
been an eminent lawyer, and who was therefore born a noverint. 

But there is another mystery about this Nash Epistle. 

It is universally conceded, by all the biographers and commen- 
tators, that Shakespeare did not begin to write for the stage until 
1592. Our highest and most recent authority, J. O. Halliwell-Phil- 
lipps, 1 fixes the date of the appearance of Shakespeare's first play as 
the third of March, 1592, when Henry VI. was put on the boards 
for the first time; and this same Nash tells us that between March 
3d, 1592, and the beginning of July, it had been witnessed by 
"ten thousand spectators at least." And yet we are asked to 
believe that when Nash, in 1589, or, as some will have it, in 1587, 
wrote his epistle, and mocked at some lawyer who had written 
Hamlet, he referred to the butcher's apprentice, who did not com- 
mence to write until three or five years subsequently ! 

And there are not wanting proofs, as we will see hereafter, that 
Hamlet appeared in 1585, the very year Shakspere's wife was 
delivered of the twins, Hamnet and Judith; the very year probably, 
when Shakspere, aged twenty-one, whipped, scourged and im- 
prisoned for poaching, fled from Stratford to London. 

^Outlines of the Life of Shak., p. 64. 


We can conceive the possibility of a rude and ignorant peasant- 
boy coming to London, and, conscious of his defects and possess- 
ing great powers, applying himself with superhuman industry to 
study and self-cultivation; but we will find that Hamlet, that most 
thoughtful and scholarly production, was on the boards in 1587, if 
not in 1585; and Venus and Adonis, the "first heir of his invention," 
must have antedated even this. 

Richard Grant White says: 

It has most unaccountably been assumed that this passage [in Nash's Epistle] 
refers to Shakespeare. . . . That Shakespeare had written this tragedy in 1586, 
when he was but twenty-two years old, is improbable to the verge of im- 
possibility. 1 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

The preceding notices may fairly authorize us to infer that the ancient play of 
Hamlet was written either by an attorney or an attorney's clerk. 2 

The Shakspereans, to avoid the logical conclusions that flow 
from this Epistle of Nash, are forced to suggest that there must 
have been an older play of Hamlet, written by some one else — "the 
ancient Hamlet," to which Halliwell-Phillipps alludes. But there 
is no evidence that any other playwright wrote a play of Hamlet. 
It is not probable. 

The essence of a new play is its novelty. We find Augustine 
Phillips, one of the members of Shakspere's company, objecting to 
playing Richard II, in 1600, for the entertainment of the followers 
of Essex, because it was an old play, and would not draw an audi- 
ence, and thereupon Sir Gilly Merrick pays him forty shillings 
extra to induce him to present it. 

The name of a new play has sometimes as much to do with its 
success as the name of a new novel. Is it probable that a play- 
wright, having written a new play and desirous to draw a crowd and 
make money, would affix to it the name of some old play, written by 
some one else, which had been on the boards for ten years or more, 
and had been worn threadbare ? Fancy Dickens publishing a new 
novel and calling it Roderick Random. Or Boucicault bringing out 
a new drama under the name of Othello. The theory is absurd. 

We have now two forms of the play of Hamlet, published within 
a year of each other, both with Shakespeare's name on the title- 

1 Life and Genius of Shak., p. 71. 2 Outlines Life of Shak., p. 270. 


page; and one is the crude, first form of the play, and the other is 
its perfected form, "enlarged to almost twice as much again." Is 
this first form "the ancient Hamlet" to which Nash alluded in 
1589? or is it the successor of some still earlier edition? Bacon 
said of himself: " I never alter but I add." He re-wrote his Essays, 
we are told, thirty times. Says his chaplain, Rawley: 

I have myself at least twelve copies of his Lnstauration, revised year after year, 
one after another, and every year altered and amended in the frame thereof, till at 
last it came to that model in which it was committed to the press, as many living 
creatures do lick their young ones till they bring them to the strength of their limbs. 

Why is it not probable that the young noverint, " born a law- 
yer," Francis Bacon, of age in 1582, may, in 1585, when twenty-three 
years of age, having been "put to all the learning that his time 
could make him master of," have written a play for the stage, 
called Hamlet, at a time when William Shakspere, three years his 
junior in age, and fifty years his junior in opportunities, was lying 
drunk under the crab-tree, or howling under the whips of the 
beadles ? 

Hamlet, then, was written by a lawyer; and Shakspere never 
was a lawyer. 

This fact must also not be forgotten, that the knowledge of the 
law shown in the Plays is not such as could be acquired during a 
few months spent in a lawyer's office in the youth of the poet, and 
which would constitute such a species of learning as might be 
recalled upon questioning. It is evident that the man who wrote 
the Plays was a thorough lawyer, a learned lawyer, a lawyer 
steeped in and impregnated with the associations of his profession, 
and who bubbled over with its language whenever he opened his 
mouth. For he did not use law terms only when speaking upon 
legal subjects: the phraseology of the courts rose to his lips even 
in describing love scenes. He makes the fair Maria, in Love's Labor 
Lost, pun upon a subtle distinction of the law: 

Boyct. So you grant pasture for me. 

Offering to kiss her. 
Maria. Not so, gentle beast: 
My lips are no common though several they be. 
Boyet. Belonging to whom ? * 

Maria. To my fortunes and me. 1 

1 Act ii, scene t. 


Grant White gives this explanation: 

Maria's meaning and her first pun are plain enough; the second has been hith- 
erto explained by the statement that the several or severall in England was a part 
of the common, set apart for some particular person or purpose, and that the town 
bull had equal rights of pasture in common and several. It seems to me, however, 
that we have here another exhibition of Shakespeare's familiarity with the law, 
and that the allusion is to tenancy in common by several (i.e., divided, distinct) 
title. Thus: " Tenants in Common are they which have Lands or Tenements in 
Fee-simple, fee-taile, or for terme of life, &c, and they have such Lands or Tene- 
ments by severall Titles and not by a joynt Title, and none of them know by this 
his severall, but they ought by the Law to occupie' these Lands or Tenements in 
common and pro indiviso, to take the profits in common." ' . . . Maria's lips were 
several, as being two, and (as she says in the next line) as belonging in common 
to her fortunes and to herself, but they were no common pasturage. - 

There was no propriety in placing puns on law phrases in the 
mouth of a young lady, and still less in representing a French lady 
as familiar with English laws and customs as to the pasturage of 
the town-bull. These phrases found their way to the fair lips of 
Maria because the author was brimming full of legal phraseology. 

Take another instance. We read of — 

A contract of eternal bond of love, 
Confirmed by mutual joinder of your /rands, 
Attested 'by the holy close of lips, 
Strengthened by interchangement of your rings; 
And all the ceremony of this compact 
Sealed in my function by my testimony. , a 

To be so saturated with the law the writer must have been in 
daily practice of the law, and in hourly converse with men of the 
same profession. He did not seek these legal phrases; they burst 
from him involuntarily and on all occasions. 

Gerald Massey well says: 

The worst of it, for the theory of his having been an attorney's clerk, is that it 
will not account for his insight into law. His knowledge is not office-sweepings, 
but ripe fruits, mature, as though he had spent his life in their growth.* 

But it is said that a really learned lawyer could not have writ- 
ten the Plays, because the law put forth in the great trial scene of 
The Merchant of Venice is not good law. 

Lord Chief Justice Campbell, however, reviews the proceedings 
in the case, and declares that " the trial is duly conducted accord- 
ing to the strict forms of legal procedure. . . . Antonio is made to 

1 Co. Litt., lib. iii, cap. 4, sec. 292. 3 Twelfth Night, v, 1. 

9 Shakespeare, vol. iii, p. 453. * Shakespeare 's Sonnets, p. 504. 



confess that Shylock is entitled to the pound of flesh . . . accord- 
ing to the rigid strictness of the common law of England." 

It is claimed that Shylock could not enforce the penalty of his 
bond, but was entitled only to the sum loaned and legal interest ; 
and that Antonio should have applied for an injunction to restrain 
Shylock from cutting off the pound of flesh. 

Imagine the play so reformed. The audience are looking for- 
ward with feelings of delight to the great trial scene, with its mar- 
velous alternations of hope and despair ; with Portia's immortal 
appeal for mercy while the Jew whets his knife; and anticipating 
the final triumph of virtue and the overthrow of cruelty. The cur- 
tain rolls up, and a dapper lawyer's-clerk steps forward to the foot- 
lights to inform the expectant audience that Antonio has procured 
an injunction, with proper sureties, from the Court of Equity, and 
that they will find the whole thing duly set forth in the next num- 
ber of the Law Reporter! 

In the first place, it is absurd to try a Venetian lawsuit by the 
antique and barbarous code of England. 

In the next place, it is not clear that, even by the rules of the 
Court of Equity of England, Antonio could have been relieved of 
the penalty without good cause shown. 

There seems to be a distinction taken in equity between penalties and forfeit- 
ures. ... In the latter, although compensation can be made, relief is not always 
given. 1 

In the case of Antonio, the pound of flesh was to be forfeited. 

If you repay me not on such a day, 

In such a place, such sum or sums as are 

Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit 

Be nominated for an equal pound 

Of your fair flesh. 2 

And in the court scene Shylock says : 

My < 

And Portia says 

My deeds upon my head ! I crave the law, 
The penalty and forfeit of my bond. 3 

Why, this bond is forfeit. 
Certain it is, Bacon, a thorough lawyer, did not understand that 
he could escape the penalty of a bond, even under the laws of Eng- 

1 3 Daniel's Chan. Plead, and Prac, p. 1946; 2 Story's Equity Jur.^ § 1321, etc. 
2 Act i, scene 3. 3 Act iv, scene 1. 

ii 4 


land, by simply paying the debt and interest. In July, 1603, he 

was arrested at the suit of a Jew (the original probably of Shylock), 

and thrown into a sponging-house, and we have his letter to his 

cousin Robert, Lord Cecil, Secretary of State, begging him to use 

his power to prevent his creditors from " taking any part of the 

penalty [of his bond] but principal, interest and costs." 

The Judge says: 

There is no power in Venice 
Can alter a decree established. 
' Twill be recorded for a precedent, 
And many an error by the same example 
Will rush into the state. 

Before a writ of error can be taken from Portia's ruling, it must 
be shown by some precedent, or "decree established," of the Venetian 
chancery, that Antonio had the right to avoid the forfeiture by ten- 
dering the amount received and simple interest; and as no such man 
as Shylock ever lived, and no such case as that in question was ever 
tried, it will puzzle the critics to know just how far back to go to 
establish the priority of such a decision. 

Again, the point is made that, if Shylock was entitled to his 
pound of flesh, he was entitled to the blood that would necessarily 
flow in. cutting it; upon the principle, it is said, that if I own a 
piece of land I have the right to a necessary roadway over another 
man's land to reach it. True. But in case I can only reach my 
land by committing murder (for that was what Shylock was under- 
taking), my lesser property right must be subordinated to the 
greater natural right of the other man to his life. 

But all this reasoning, if it be intended to show that the writer 
of the play was but partially learned in the law, must give way to 
the fact that Shylock vs. Anto?iio is a dramatic representation, for 
popular entertainment, and not a veritable law-suit. The plot of 
The Merchant of Venice was taken from the Italian romance II 
Pccorone, of Giovanni Fiorentino, written in 1378; and there we 
have the decision of the judge, that the Jew must cut a precise 
pound of flesh, neither more nor less, and that, if he draw a drop of 
Christian blood in so doing, he must die for it. 

It would be absurd to suppose that a dramatic writer, even 
though a lawyer, would be obliged to leave out these striking 
incidents, and substitute a tamer something, in accordance with 


that barbarous jumble of justice and injustice called law in 

But the question after all is to be decided by Venetian, not 
English precedents. The scene is laid in Venice. 

John T. Doyle, Esq., of California, writes a letter to Lawrence 

Barrett, Esq., the celebrated actor, which has been published in the 

Overland Monthly, in which he discusses "The Case of Shylock." 

He says: 

The trial scene in The Merchant of Venice has, however, always seemed 
inconsistent with his [Bacon's] supposed legal learning, for the proceedings in it 
are such as never could have occurred in any court administering English law. 
Lord Campbell, in his letter to Payne Collyer, has attempted to gloss over the 
difficulty, but to all common lawyers the attempt is a failure. Save in the fact 
that the scene presents a plaintiff, a defendant and a judge — characters essential 
to litigation under any system of procedure — there is no resemblance in the pro- 
ceedings on the stage to anything that could possibly occur in an English court, or 
any court administering English law. No jury is impaneled to determine the 
facts, no witnesses called by either side; on the contrary, when the court opens, 
the duke who presides is already fully informed of the facts, and has even com- 
municated them, in writing, to Bellario, a learned doctor of Padua, and invited 
him to come and render judgment in the case. 

Mr. Doyle then proceeds to give his experience of a lawsuit he 

had in the Spanish-American republic of Nicaragua in 185 1-2. 

After describing the verbal summons he received from the alguazil 

to the alcalde in his court, Mr. Doyle says: 

Proceedings of some sort were going on at the moment, but the alcalde sus- 
pended them, received me very courteously, and directed some one present to go 
and call Don Dolores Bermudez, the plaintiff, into court. The substance of Mr. 
Bermudez' complaint against the company was then stated to me, and I was 
asked for my answer to it. I sent for my counsel, and the company's defense was 
stated orally. The contract out of which the controversy arose was produced, and 
perhaps a witness or two examined, and some oral discussion followed; those 
details I forget, for there was nothing in them that struck me as strange. There 
was, in fact, little, if any, dispute about the facts of the case, the real controversy 
being as to the company's liability and its extent. We were finally informed that 
on a given day we should be expected to attend again, when the judge would be 
prepared with his decision. 

At the appointed time we attended accordingly, and the judge read a paper in 
which all the facts were stated, at the conclusion of which he announced to us that 
he proposed to submit the question of law involved to Don Buenaventura Silva, a 
practicing lawyer of Granada, as a "jurisconsult." unless some competent objec- 
tions were made to him. I learned then that I could challenge the proposed ju- 
risconsult for consanguinity, affinity or favor, just as we challenge a juror. I knew 
of no cause of challenge against him; my counsel said he was an unexceptionable 
person; and so he was chosen, and the case was referred to him. Some days 
after, he returned the papers to the alcalde with his opinion, which was in my 
favor, and the plaintiff's case was dismissed. 


In the course of the same afternoon, or next day, I received an intimation; 
that Don Buenaventura expected from me a gratification — the name in that coun- 
try for what we call a gratuity — and I think the sum of $200 was named. This 
did not harmonize with my crude notions of the administration of justice, and I 
asked for explanations. They were given in the stereotyped form used to explain 
every other anomaly in that queer country, "Costumbre del pais." I thought it a 
custom more honored in the breach than the observance. 

Here we find that the writer of the Plays followed, in all proba- 
bility, the exact course of procedure usual in Venice, and in all 
countries subject to the civil law. We even have, as in Portia's 
case, the expectation that the judge should be rewarded with a 

The only difference between the writer of the Plays and his 
critics is, that he knew what he was talking about, and they did not. 

My friend Senator Davis, of Minnesota, as a crowning proof 
that Francis Bacon did not write the Plays, says: 

. . . Again, Bacon was actively engaged in the court of chancery many years 
before he became Lord Chancellor. It was then that the memorable war of juris- 
diction was waged between Ellesmere and Coke — and yet there is not in Shake- 
speare a single phrase, word or application of any principle peculiar to the 
chancery. 1 

To this my friend John A. Wilstach, Esq., the learned translator 
of Virgil, 2 and an eminent lawyer, says in a letter addressed to me: 

In the English courts, ancient and modern — as even laymen know — the 
practice at common law and in chancery were and are severed, although the bar- 
riers between the two are now, by the gradual adoption of chancery rules in com- 
mon law practice, largely broken down. In the time of Bacon and Shakespeare 
the division was distinct : the common-law lawyer was not a chancery practitioner; 
the chancery practitioner was not a practitioner in the courts of common law. 
But the general language of both branches of the profession was necessarily (for 
in history and method they intertwined), if even superficially, known to the fol- 
lowers of both, and the probability is that a practitioner of the one would easily 
use the current verbiage of the other; indeed it would be strange if either should 
hold away from the other. A Lord Coke, in the wide scope of literature, would 
relax his common-law exclusiveness and enlarge the narrow circuit of his pro- 
fessional prepossessions. A Lord Bacon, a student or a judge in chancery, 
would delight to turn aside from the roses and lilies of equity — some of them 
exotic plants — and become, for the time, a gratified wanderer in an historic com- 
mon of pasture, among the butterflies and bees of an indigenous jurisprudence. 
Hence my suggestion, opposed to that of the learned jurist, is, that this very scope 
and freedom of law in literature is what the writer of the Shakespeare Plays has 
given himself. And I find in the rambling pasture of the common law, according 
to his own outgivings, he has met, besides its attractive features, other and repel- 
ling ones — thorns, quagmires and serpents. I find that, on a close examination of 

1 Law in Shakespeare. 'Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1884. 


the Shakespeare Plays, the averment of the learned jurist as to the want of chan- 
cery features therein is not proven. I find that there are passages wherein, in the 
most evident manner, chancery principles and the equity practice are recognized 
and extolled; and, further yet, that among passages tolerant or praiseful of the 
common law are also found passages wherein its principles and practice are held 
up to derision and even to scorn. And while it is true that phrases are not proofs, 
but only grounds whence inferences may be drawn, yet the citations I shall 
offer will be of as high a grade as those which are offered to support the 
propositions which I contest. Nor is the argument weakened in its application 
to the Baconian question by the establishment of the fact that the participation 
in the production of the Shakespeare Plays on the part of Bacon was the work 
of his early manhood. Coleridge well formulates the general experience when 
he says that "a young author's first work almost always bespeaks his recent 

He is, at this early age, too, more conversant with the literature of his art; is 
more recently from the books and sometimes is observed to carry a head inflated 
with pride in that branch of the profession which his bent of mind has led him to 
favor. First let me recall some of those passages wherein derision and censure 
are visited upon the common law — the "biting" severity of its principles, the 
"hideous " deformity of its practice. 

The most superficial reader of these dramas will need no reminder of the 
satires conveyed in the conversation of Justices Dogberry and Shallow, Constable 
Elbow and the clowns in Twelfth Night, and the more dignified broadsides of 
Wolsey and Queen Katharine, and Hamlet and Portia, and their interlocutors. 
As my reading goes, puerility, pedantry, corruption and chicanery, in legal 
practice, have found in all literature no denunciations so severe, no ridicule so 

In rst Llenry IV., i, 2, the derision takes, in the mouth of Falstaff, the form of 
" the rusty curb of old Father Antic, the Law," the metaphor being that of a super- 
annuated clown who, with rusty methods, methods old and lacking polish, cheats 
.the people out of the attainment of their cherished desires. 

When law can do no right, 

Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong. 1 

Since law itself is perfect wrong, 

How can the law forbid my tongue to curse ?* 

The state of law is bond-slave to the law. 3 

But in these nice, sharp quillets of the law, etc. 4 

The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power, 

Have checked theft. 5 

The bloody book of law, etc." 

Crack the lawyer's voice, 

That he may nevermore false title plead. : 

My head to my good man's hat, 

These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn. 8 
Parolles, the lawyer in All's Well that Ends Well, uses contemptuously 
the legal machinery applicable to English estates in describing how Dumain 
would convey away a title in fee-simple to his salvation; and, with the same 
contemptuous reference to the same machinery, Mrs. Page describes the devil's 
titles to Falstaff. 

Now let us take up the praises of chancery. 

1 King John, iii, i. 2 Ibid., iii, i. s Richard II., ii, I. 

4 jst Henry VI., ii, 4. 5 Timon of Athens, iv, 3. 6 Othello, iii, 1. 

7 Timon of Athens, v, 3. 8 Lome's Labor Lost, i, 1. 


And, first, I cite a passage which the learned jurist himself quotes. My 
italics will indicate my impression that, in his bent for common law, he has. 
failed to give emphasis to the most important feature of the passage. 

In the corrupted currents of this world 
Offense's gilded hand may shove by justice, 
And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself 
Buys out the law: but 'tis not so above; 
There is no shuffling, there the action lies 
In his true nature, and we ourselves compel! d 
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, 
To give in evidence. 1 

And, to pass to others : 

Ah, gracious lord, these days are dangerous; 
Virtue is choked with foul ambition, 
And charity chased hence by rancor's hand, 
Fell subornation is predominant, 
And equity exiled your highness' land. 2 

What a trinity is here: Virtue, Charity, Equity! Opposed, too, to the hellish 
trio of ambition, rancor and subornation. 

A larger definition of equity jurisprudence could not well be had than that it is 
"strong authority looking into the blots and stains of right." 

King John. From whom hast thou this great commission, 
To draw mine answer from thine articles ? 

King Philip. From that supernal judge that stirs good thoughts 

In any breast of strong authority, 

To look into the blots and stains of right. 

That judge hath made me guardian to this boy: 

Under whose warrant I impeach thy wrong, 

And by whose help I mean to chastise it. 

' This passage is also cited by the learned jurist, but it is only to remark upon 
the words warrant and impeach. It contains, as I have observed, the very definition 
of chancery jurisprudence, and besides employs terms technical in chancery prac- 
tice, commission articles and answer. 

Themes which, in an especial manner, engage the intellect and the heart of the 
student and practitioner of chancery principles are "Charity," "Mercy," "Con- 

In contrast with the evasions and chicanery which are, in the Shakespeare Plays 
and elsewhere, the reproach of the practice at common law, chancery decides from 
considerations of what is right and just between man and man, ex cequo et bono. 
Chancery jurisdiction enters the breast of the party himself, and there sets up its 
forum in his conscience. The interrogatories authorized by the chancery practice 
arraign and search that conscience, and, upon an oath binding upon it, " compel"" 
the reluctant litigant, "even to the teeth and forehead of his faults, to give in evi- 

Every man's conscience is a thousand swords. 3 
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues. 4 
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul ! 5 

Well, believe this, 
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs 
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, 
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge" s robe, 
Becomes them with one-half so good a grace 
As mercy does. 6 

1 Hamlet, iii, 3. 3 Richard 111., v, 2. 5 Ibid., i, 3. 

* 2nd Henry VI., iii, 1. * Ibid., v, 3. • Measure /or Measure, ii, 2„ 


The quality of mercy is not strained; 

It is an attribute to God himself; 

And earthly power doth then show likest God's, 

When mercy seasons justice. 1 

In addition to these citations, touching Shakespeare's use of the 

terms of the equity courts, I would quote the following from Judge 


Indeed, it is clear that Portia's knowledge extended even to chancery practice, 
and continued to the end of the piece: 

Portia. Let us go in 

And charge us there upon int'rogatories, 
And we will answer all things faithfully.' 2 

The terms of chancery practice, charges, interrogatories and answer, 
are dragged in by the heels despite the protests of the refractory 

But passing from this point, I will add a few more extracts 
which bespeak the lawyer: 

Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the fee-simple of his salvation, the inherit- 
ance of it; and cut the entail for all remainder. 3 

And again: 

If the devil have him not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I 
think, in the way of waste, attempt us again. 4 

And again: 

Time stays still with lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between term and 
term. 5 

Judge Holmes says: 6 

Mr. Rushton cites the statute 16 Richard II., which was leveled against the 
Pope's usurpations of sovereignty in England, and enacted that " if any do bring 
any translation, process, sentence of excommunication, bulls, instruments, etc., 
within the realm, or receive them, they shall be put out of the King's protection, and 
their lands, tenements, goods and chattels forfeited to the King," and compares it with 
the speech of Suffolk in the play of Henry J'LLL., thus: 

Suff. Lord Cardinal, the King's further pleasure is, 

Because all those things you have done of late 

By your power legatine within this kingdom, 

Fall into the compass of a praemunire, 

That therefore such a writ be sued against you: 

To forfeit all your goods, lands, tenements, 

Chattels and whatsoever, and to be 

Out of the King ' s protection. This is my charge. 7 

1 Merchant of Venice, iv, i. 4 Merry Wives of Windsor, iv, 2. 

2 A uthorship of Shak., 3d ed., p. 637. b As \ 'on Like It, iii, 2. 

3 A it's Well that Ends Well, iv, 3. 6 A uthorship of Shak., 3d ed., p. 630. 

7 Henry VIII., iii, 2. 


It is manifest here, as Mr. Rushton thinks, that the author of 
the Plays was exactly acquainted with the very language of this old 

This, then, is the syllogism which faces the Shakspereans: 

i. The man who wrote the Plays was a lawyer. 

2. William Shakspere was not a lawyer. 

3. Therefore, William Shakspere did not write the Plays. 

But if they shift their ground, and fall back upon the supposition 
that Shakspere might have been a lawyer's clerk during his pre- 
London residence in Stratford, they encounter these difficulties: 

1. There is not the slightest proof of this fact; and if it was 
true, proof could not fail to be forthcoming. 

2. There is not a scrap of tradition that points to it. 

3. Granting it to be possible, it would not explain away the 
difficulty. It would not have been sufficient for Shakspere to have 
passed a few months in a lawyer's office in Stratford in his youth. 
The man who wrote the Plays must have lived and breathed in 
an atmosphere of the law, which so completely filled his whole 
being that he could not speak of war or of peace, of business or of 
love, of sorrow or of pleasure, without scintillating forth legal 
expressions; and these he placed indifferently in the mouths of 
young and old, learned and unlearned, Greeks, Romans, Italians, 
Frenchmen, Scotchmen and Englishmen. 

Having, as I hope, demonstrated to the satisfaction of my read- 
ers that William Shakspere could not have written the Plays which 
go abroad in his name, we come to the second branch of my argu- 
ment, to-wit: that Francis Bacon, of St. Albans, son of Queen 
Elizabeth's Lord Keeper, Nicholas Bacon, was their real author. 





Mount, eagle, to thy palace crystalline. 

Cymbeline, t, 4. 

WE come now to an important branch of this inquiry. 
It will be said: Granted that Francis Bacon possessed a 
great and mighty genius; granted that he was master of the vast 
learning revealed in the Plays; granted that he had the laborious 
industry necessary for their preparation; granted that they reveal 
a character and disposition, political, social and religious views, 
studies and investigations, identical with his own; granted that we 
are able to marshal a vast array of parallel thoughts, beliefs, 
expressions and even errors: the great question still remains, Was 
Francis Bacon a poet ? Did he possess the imagination, the fancy, 
the sense of the beautiful — in other words, the divine faculty, the 
fine phrensy, the capacity to "give to airy nothing a local habita- 
tion and a name " ? Was he not merely a philosopher, a dry and 
patient investigator of nature, a student of things, not words; of 
the useful, not the beautiful ? 

I. The Universal Mtnd. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson grasped the whole answer to this ques- 
tion when he said: "The true poet and the true philosopher are 
one." The complete mind (and we are reminded of Ulysses' appli- 
cation of the word to Achilles, "thou great and co?nplete man") 
enfolds in its orb all the realms of thought; it perceives not alone 


the nature of things, but the subtle light of beauty which irradiates 
them; it is able not only to trace the roots of facts into the dead, 
dull, material earth, but to follow the plant as it rises into the air 
and find in the flower thoughts too deep for tears. The purpose 
of things, the wherefore of things and the glory of things are all 
one to the God who made them, and to the great broad brain to 
which He has given power enough to comprehend them. But 
such minds are rare. Science tells us that the capacity of memory 
underlies those portions of the brain that perceive, but only a 
small share of them, and that if you excise a part of the brain, but 
not all of any particular department, the surrounding territory, 
which theretofore lay dormant, will now develop the faculty which 
was formerly exercised by the part removed. So it would seem that 
in all brains there is the capacity for universal intelligence, but there 
is lacking some power which forces it into action. The intellect lies 
like a mass of coals, heated, alive, but dormant; it needs the blow- 
pipe of genius to oxygenate and bring it to a white heat; and it 
rarely happens, in the history of mankind, that the whole brain is 
equally active, and the whole broad temple of the soul lighted up 
in every part. The world is full of men whose minds glow in 
spots. The hereditary blood-force, or power of nutrition, or pur- 
pose of God, or whatever it may be, is directed to a section of the 
intelligence, and it blazes forth in music, or poetry, or painting, or 
philosophy, or action, or oratory. And the world, as it cannot 
always behold the full orb of the sun, is delighted to look upon 
these stars, points of intense brilliancy, glorious with a fraction of 
the universal fire. 

II. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

But occasionally there is born into the world a sun-like soul, the 
orb of whose brain, as Bacon says, "is concentric with the uni- 

One of these was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great spirit 
of German literature. Like Bacon, he sprang from the common 
people; but, like him, not directly from them. His father was an 
imperial councilor, his mother was the daughter of the chief 
magistrate of the city. Like Bacon, he was thoroughly educated. 
Like him, his intellectual activity manifested itself in his early 


2 3 

years. " Before he was ten years of age he wrote several languages, 
meditated poems, invented stories and had considerable familiarity 
with works of art." He began to write verse while yet at college.' 
He associated with actors, free-thinkers and jovial companions. 
When twenty-three years of age he published his first play, Gotz von 
Berlichingen y two years later he wrote The Sorrows of Wcrther, 
and ClavigO) a drama. He also projected a drama on Mohammed 
and another on Prometheus, and began to revolve in his mind his 
greatest work, Faust. At the same time, while he was astonishing 
the world with his poetical and dramatic genius, he was engaged 
in a profound study of natural science. When forty-three years of 
age, he published his Beitr&ge zur Optik, and his FarbcnleJue, in the 
latter of which he questioned the correctness of the Newtonian 
theory of colors. " He wrote also on the metamorphosis of plants,, 
and on topics of comparative anatomy. In all these he displayed 
remarkable penetration and sagacity, and his remarks on the mor- 
phology of plants are now reckoned among the earlier enunciations 
of the theory of evolution." Faust was not finished until he was 
fifty-six years old. 

We see here, as in the case of Bacon, a vivacious, active youth, 
full of emotion and poetry; the dramatic faculty forcing itself out 
in great dramas; wide learning; some capacity for affairs of state 
(he was privy councilor of legation at the court of the .Duke of 
Saxe-Weimar); and, running through all, profound studies in phil- 
osophy and natural science. Goethe was always in easy circum- 
stances. We have only to imagine him living in poverty, forced to 
maintain appearances, and yet to earn his living by his pen, with no 
avenue open to him but the play-house, and we have all the condi- 
tions, with added genius and philanthropic purposes, to make a 

If the poetical works of Goethe had been published anony- 
mously, or in the name of some friend, it would have been difficult to 
persuade the world, in after years, that the philosopher and the poet 
were one. 

III. Had Bacon the Poetic Temperament ? 

First, let us inquire whether Bacon possessed the poetic tem- 



Bacon says: 

For myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of 
truth; as having a mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the resemblances of 
things. 1 

But, it may be asked, had he that fine sensibility which accom- 
panies genius; did he possess those delicate chords from which 
time and chance and nature draw their most exquisite melodies — 
those chords which, as Burns says, 

Vibrate sweetest pleasure, 

Thrill the deepest notes of woe ? 

The answer is plain. 

Macaulay speaks of Bacon's mind as 

The most exquisitely constructed intellect that has ever been bestowed on any 
of the children of men. 2 

Montagu says: 

His invagination was fruitful and vivid. He was of a temperament of the most 
delicate sensibility: so excitable as to be affected by the slightest alterations in the 
atmosphere. 3 

And remember that neither Macaulay nor Montagu dreamed 
of the possibility of Bacon being the author of the Shakespeare 

Emerson calls the writer of the Plays, as revealed therein, "the 
most susceptible of human beings." 

Bacon's chaplain and biographer, Dr. Rawley, says: 

It may seem the moon had some principal place in the figure of his nativity, for 
the moon was never in her passion or eclipsed but he was surprised with a sudden 
fit of fainting; and that though he observed not nor took any previous knowledge 
of the eclipse thereof; and as soon as the eclipse ceased he was restored to his 
former strength agair. 

IV. Was he a Lover of Poetry ? 

Many things might be quoted from his writings to show his 
love of poetry and his profound study of it. He says it " elevates 
the mind from the dungeon of the body to the enjoying of its own 
divine essence." 

He even contemplated the improvement of poetry by the inven- 
tion of new measures or meters. He says: 

1 Preface to The Interpretation of Nature. 2 Essays, Bacon, p. 263. 

3 Montagu's Life of Bacon. 


For though men with learned tongues do tie themselves to the ancient meas- 
ures, yet in modern languages it seemeth to me as free to make new measures of 
verses as of dances; for a dance is a measured pace, as a verse is a measured 
speech. 1 

The basis of Bacon's mind was the imagination. This is the 
eye of the soul. By it the spirit sees into the relations of objects. 
This it is gives penetration, for it surveys things as the eagle 
does — from above. And this is Bacon's metaphor. He says: 

Some writings have more of the eagle in them than others. 2 

It was this descending sight, commanding the whole landscape, 
that enabled him to make all knowledge his province, and out of 
this vast scope of view grew his philosophy. It was but a higher 
poetry. Montaigne says: 

Philosophy is no other than a falsified poesie. . . . Plato is but a poet unript. 
All superhuman sciences make use of the poetic style. 

V. The Character of Bacon's Mind. 

Alfred H. Welsh says of Bacon: 

He belongs to the realm of the imagination, of eloquence, of history, of jurispru- 
dence, of ethics, of metaphysics; the investigation of the powers and operations of 
the human mind. His writings have the gravity of prose, with the fervor and 
vividness of poetry. . . . Shakespeare, with greater variety, contains no more vig- 
orous or expressive condensations. 

Edmund Burke says: 

Who is there that, hearing the name of Bacon, does not instantly recognize 
everything of genius the most profound, of literature the most extensive, of dis- 
covery the most penetrating, of observation of human life the most distinguishing 
and refined ? 

Macaulay says: 

The poetical faculty was powerful in Bacon's mind, but not, like his wit, so 
powerful as occasionally to usurp the place of his reason, and to tyrannize over the 
whole man. No imagination was ever at once so strong and so thoroughly subju- 
gated. It never stirred but at a signal from good sense; it stopped at the first 
check of good sense. Yet, though disciplined to such obedience, it gave noble 
proofs of its vigor. In truth, much of Bacon's life was passed in a visionary world, 
amidst things as strange as any that are described in the Arabian tales. 3 

Montagu says: 

His mind, like the sun, had both light and agility; it knew no rest but in 
motion, no quiet but in activity; it did not so properly apprehend as irradiate the 
object. ... His understanding could almost pierce into future contingents, his 

1 Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 2 Ibid. 3 Essays, Bacen, p. 285. 



conjectures improving even to prophecy; he saw consequences yet dormant in 
their principles, and effects yet unborn in the womb of their causes. 1 

Macaulay speaks of his 

• Compactness of expression and richness of fancy.' 2 

Addison said of his prayer, composed in the midst of his afflic- 
tions, in 1621: 

For elevation of thought and greatness of expression, it seems rather the 
devotion of an angel than a man. 3 

Fowler says: 

His utterances are not infrequently marked with a grandeur and solemnity of 
tone, a majesty of diction, which renders it impossible to forget, and difficult even 
to criticise them. . . . There is no author, unless it be Shakespeare, who is so 
easily remembered or so frequently quoted. . . . The terse and burning words 
issuing from the lips of an irresistible commander. 4 

R. W. Church speaks of 

The bright torch of his incorrigible imaginativeness/' . . . He was a genius 
second only to Shakespeare. . . . He liked to enter into the humors of a court; 
to devote brilliant imagination and affluence of invention to devising a pageant 
which should throw all others into the shade. 6 . 

That he was master of the dramatic faculty will be made plain 
to any one who reads that interesting dialogue entitled An Adver- 
tisement Touching an Holy War, and observes the skill with which 
the conversation is carried on, and the separate characters of the 
parties maintained. 

VI. Did Bacon Claim to be a Poet ? 

Let us next ask ourselves this question: Did Bacon claim to 
be a poet ? 

Certainly. We have among his acknowledged works a series of 
translations, the Psalms of David, made in his old age, and com- 
posed upon a sick-bed. 

Mr. Spedding says of these translations: 

It has been usual to speak of them as a ridiculous failure; a censure in which I 
cannot concur. ... I should myself infer from this sample that Bacon had all the 
natural faculties which a poet wants: a fine ear for meter, a fine feeling for imagi- 
native effect in words, and a vein of poetic passion. . . . The thought could not 
well be fitted with imagery, words and rhythm more apt and imaginative; and 
there is a tenderness of expression which comes manifestly out of a heart in sensi- 
tive sympathy with nature. The heroic couplet could hardly do its work better in 

1 Montagu's Life of Bacon. '■' Fowler's Bacon, p. 57. r> Francis Bacon, p. 208. 

- Essays ) Bacon, p. 249. ' Ibid., p. 202. 6 Ibid., p. 214. 


the hands of Dryden. The truth is that Bacon was not without the fine phrensy of 
the poet. 1 

I quote a few passages from these Psalms, selected at random: 

There do the stately ships plough up the floods; 
The greater navies look like walking woods. 

This reminds us of the walking wood in Macbeth : 

As I did stand my watch upon the hill, 

I looked toward Birnam, and, anon, methought, 

The wood began to move.'- 

He speaks of 

The sappy cedars, tall like stately towers. 

The vales their hollow bosoms opened plain, 
The streams ran trembling down the vales again. 

He speaks of the birds — 

Stroking the gentle air with pleasant notes. 
He describes life as 

This bubble light, this vapor of our breath. 

He says 

So that, with present griefs and future fears, 
Our eyes burst forth into a stream of tears. 

Why should there be such turmoil and such strife, 
To spin in length this feeble line of life? 

It must be remembered, in extenuation of any defects in these 
translations, that they were the work of sickness and old age, when 
his powers were shrunken. They were written in his sixty-fifth 
year — one year before his death. We will see that they are not 
equal in scope and vigor even to his prose writings. He himself 
noted this difference between youth and age. 

He says: 

There is a youth in thoughts as well as in age; and yet the invention of young 
men is more lively than that of old, and imaginations stream into their minds better, 
and as it were more divinely.* 

VII. The Exaltations of Genius. 

Neither can we judge what great things genius can do in 
the blessed moments of its highest exaltation by the beggarly 
dregs of daily life. Lord Byron said, in a letter to Tom 

1 Works, vii, 269. ■ Macbeth, v, 4. 3 Essay Of Vout/i and Age. 


A man's poetry has no more to do with the every-day individual than the inspi- 
ration with the Pythoness, when removed from the tripod. 

Richard Grant White ridicules "the great inherent absurdity — 

the unlikeness of Bacon's mind and style to those of the writer of 

the Plays," to which William D. O'Connor well replies: 

Of all fudge ever written this is the sheerest. Methinks I see a critic with his 
sagacious right eye fixed upon the long loping alexandrines of Richelieu, and his 
sagacious left eye fixed upon Richelieu's Maxims of State, oracularly deciding from 
the unlikeness of mind and style that the great Cardinal could not have written the 
tragi-comedy of Mirame ! Could he inform us (I will offer the most favorable 
instance possible) what likeness of "mind and style" he could detect between Sir 
William Blackstone's charming verses, A Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse, and the 
same Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries? What likeness of "mind and style" 
could he establish between the famous treatise by Grotius, on The Rights of Peace 
and War, and the stately tragedy by Grotius entitled Adam in Exile? Where is the 
identity of "mind and style" between Sir Walter Raleigh's dry-as-dust Cabinet 
Council and Sir Walter Raleigh's magnificent and ringing poem, The Soul's Errand? 
What likeness of "mind and style" could he find between Coleridge's Aids to Re- 
flection and the unearthly melody and magian imagery of Coleridge's Kubla Khan? 
What likeness of "mind and style" exists between the exquisite riant grace, light- 
ness and Watteau-color of Milton's Allegro, the gracious andante movement and 
sweet cloistral imagery of Milton's Penserosa, and the Tetrachordon, or the Areo- 
pagitica of the same John Milton? Are the solemn, rolling harmonies of Paradise 
Lost one in "mind and style" with the trip-hammer crash of the reply to Salmasius 
by Cromwell's Latin secretary? Could the most astute reviewer discover likeness 
of " mind and style" between Peregrine Pickle or Roderick Random and the noble 
and majestic passion of the Ode to Independence ? — 

Thy spirit, Independence, let me share, 

Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye ! 
Thy steps I'll follow with my bosom bare, 

Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky. 1 

VIII. Bacon's Court Mask. 

Let us go a step farther and prove that Bacon wrote verse, and 
mastered the difficulties of rhythm and rhyme, in other productions 
besides the translation of a few psalms. 

Messrs. Spedding and Dixon brought to light, in their re- 
searches, two fragments of a court mask which is believed to be 
unquestionably Bacon's, and in it, as an oracle, occur these 
verses, spoken of a blind Indian boy. The queen, of course, 
is Elizabeth: 

Seated between the Old World and the New, 

A land there is no other land may touch, 
Where reigns a queen in peace and honor true; 
Stories or fables do describe no such. 

1 Hamlet's Note Book, p. 56, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston and New York. 


Never did Atlas such a burden bear, 

As she in holding up the world opprest; 
Supplying with her virtue everywhere 

Weakness of friends, errors of servants best. 
No nation breeds a warmer blood for war, 

And yet she calms them by her majesty; 
No age hath ever wits refined so far, 

And yet she calms them by her policy: 
To her thy son must make his sacrifice 
If he will have the morning of his eyes. 

Certainly this exhibits full possession of the powers requisite in 
metrical composition, while the closing expression for restoration 
from blindness, " the morning of his eyes," is eminently poetical. 

IX. Other Verses by Bacon. 

There are also some other verses which go under the name of 
Bacon. They are worthy of the pen that wrote Shakespeare: 

Mr. Spedding publishes in his great edition of Bacon's Works, 1 
a poem, which he calls "a remarkable performance." It is a para- 
phrase of a Greek epigram, attributed by some to Poseidippus, by 
others to Plato, the comic poet, and by others to Crates, the cynic. 
In 1629, only three years after Bacon's death, Thomas Farnaby, a 
contemporary and scholar, published a collection of Greek epigrams. 
After giving the epigram in question, with its Latin translation on 
the opposite page, he adds: " Hue elegantem V. C. L. Do7nini Verulamii 
xapwdiav adjicere adlubuit" and then prints the English lines below 
(the only English in the book), with a translation of his own oppo- 
site in rhyming Greek. A copy of the English lines was also found 
among Sir Henry Wotton's papers, with the name Francis Lord 
Bacon at the bottom. Spedding says, " Farnaby's evidence is direct 
and strong," and he expresses the opinion that the internal evi- 
dence is in favor of the poem being the work of Bacon. Spedding 

The English lines which follow are not meant for a translation, and can hardly 
be called a paraphrase. They are rather another poem on the same subject and 
with the same sentiment; and though the topics are mostly the same, the treatment 
of them is very different. The merit of the original consists almost entirely in its 
compactness; there being no special felicity in the expression, or music in the 
meter. In the English, compactness is not aimed at, and a tone of plaintive 
melody is imparted, which is due chiefly to the metrical arrangement, and has 
something very pathetic in it to the ear. 

1 Vol. xiv, p. 115, Boston ed. 


The world's a bubble, and the life of man 

Less than a span; 
In his conception wretched, from the womb 

So to the tomb; 
Cursed from his cradle and brought up to years 

With cares and fears: 
Who, then, to frail mortality shall trust, 
But limns the water, or but writes in dust. 
Yet, whilst with sorrow here we live opprest, 

What life is best? 
Courts are but only superficial schools, 

To dandle fools; 
The rural parts are turned into a den 

Of savage men; 
And where's the city from foul vice so free 
But may be termed the worst of all the three ? 
Domestic cares afflict the husband's bed, 

Or pains his head. 
Those that live single take it for a curse, 

Or do things worse. 
Some would have children; those that have them moan, 

Or wish them gone. 
What is it, then, to have or have no wife, 
But single thraldom or a double strife? 
Our own affections still at home to please 

Is a disease: 
To cross the seas to any foreign soil, 

Perils and toil. 
Wars with their noise affright us; when they cease, 

We're worse in peace. 
What then remains, but that we still should cry 
Not to be born, or, being born, to die? 

I differ with Mr. Spedding. These verses are exceedingly terse 
and compact. They exhibit a complete mastery over rhythm and 
rhyme. Those two lines, — 

Who then to frail mortality shall trust, 

But limns the water, or but writes in dust, — 

are worthy of any writer in the language. We are reminded of the 

pathetic utterance of poor Keats, who requested that his friends 

should place upon his tomb the words: 

Here lies one whose name was writ in water. 

Mr. Spedding also gives us ' the following lines, inferior to the 

above, found in a volume of manuscript collections now in the 

British Museum: 

1 Vol. xiv,p. 114. 


Verses Made by Mr. Francis Bacon. 

The man of life upright, whose guiltless heart is free 
From all dishonest deeds and thoughts of vanity; 
The man whose silent days in harmless joys are spent, 
Whom hopes cannot delude, nor fortune discontent: 
That man needs neither towers, nor armor for defense, 
Nor secret vaults to fly from thunder's violence; 
He only can behold with unaffrighted eyes 
The horrors of the deep and terrors of the skies; 
Thus scorning all the care that Fate or Fortune brings, 
He makes the Heaven his book, his wisdom heavenly things; 
Good thoughts his only friends, his life a well-spent age, 
The earth his sober inn, — a quiet pilgrimage. 

Mrs. Pott 1 quotes a poem entitled The Retired Courtier, from 

Dowland's First Book of Songs, published 1600; and she gives many 

very good reasons for believing that it was from the pen of Bacon. 

Certain it is that the verses are of extraordinary excellence, and 

were claimed by no one else, and they afford numerous parallels 

with the Plays: 

The Retired Courtier. 


His golden locks hath Time to silver turned; 

O time too swift ! O swiftness never ceasing ! 
His youth 'gainst time and age hath ever spurned, 

But spurned in vain; youth waneth by increasing. 
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen, 
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green. 


His helmet now shall make a hive for bees, 

And lovers' sonnets turn to holy psalms. 
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees, 

And feed on prayers which are age's alms; 
But though from court to cottage he depart, 
His saint is sure of his unspotted heart. 

And when he saddest sits in homely cell, 

He'll teach his swains this carol for a song: 
Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well ! 

Curst be the soul that thinks her any wrong ! 
Goddess, allow this aged man his right, 
To be your beadsman now that was your knight. 

What a beautiful and poetical conception is that: 

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees J 

1 Promus, appendix D, p. 528. 


If Bacon did not write this, who was the unknown poet te» 

whom it can be ascribed ? 

His saint is sure of his unspotted heart, 
says the poem. 

A pure, unspotted heart, 
says Shakespeare. 1 

Allow this aged man his right 
To be your beadsman now. 

Says Bacon to Lord Burleigh (1597): 

I will still be your beadsman. 

X. Bacon's Concealed Writings. 

Let us next inquire: Were these extracts all of Bacon's poeticar 
works ? Is there any evidence that he was the author of any con- 
cealed writings ? 

Yes. Mrs. Pott says: 

There are times noted by Mr. Spedding when Bacon wrote with closed doors 
and when the subject of his studies is doubtful; and there is one long vacation of 
which the same careful biographer remarks that he cannot tell what work the inde- 
fatigable student produced during those months, for that he knows of none 
whose date corresponds with the period. Perhaps it was at such a time Bacon 
took recreation in the form in which he recommended it to others, not by 
idleness, but by bending the bow in an opposite direction; for he says: " I have 
found now twice, upon amendment of my fortunes, disposition to melancholy and 
distaste, especially the same happening against the long vacation, when company 
failed and business both." The same distaste to what he in a letter calls the 
"dead vacation" is seen in As You Like It, act iii, scene 2; 

Who stays it [time] still withal? 
With lawyers in the vacation. 

Bacon says in a letter to Tobie Matthew: 

I have sent you some copies of my book of the Advancement, which you 
desired ; and a little work of my recreation, which you desired not. My Instauration 
I reserve for conference; it sleeps not. Those works of the alphabet are in my 
opinion of less use to you where you now are than at Paris. [1607-9.] 

Mr. Spedding cannot guess what those works of the alphabet 
may have been, unless they referred to Bacon's experiments at 

When he has become Sir Francis, Bacon writes to Tobie Matthew: 

I send my desire to you in this letter that you will take care not to leave the writing 
which I left with you last with any man so long that he may be able to take a copy of it. 

And that this was evidently some composition of his own ap- 
pears by the fact that he asks his friend's criticism upon it, and to* 

l ist Henry VI.. v, 4. 



" point out where I do perhaps indormiscere, or where I do in- 
dulgere genio; or where, in fine, I give any manner of disadvantage 
to myself." 

Does this mean that he fears he will reveal himself by his 
style ? 

Again, he writes to the same friend: 

You conceive aright, that in this and the other, you have commission to impart 
and communicate them to others, according to your discretion; other matters I 
write not of} 

What was the meaning of all this mystery ? 

Bacon refers to some unnamed work which he sends to his 

friend as " a work of his recreation." And in The Advancement of 

Learning" 1 he says : 

As for poesy, it is rather a pleasure or play of the imagination than a work or 
duty thereof. 

And in Macbeth we have: 

The labor we delight in physics pain. 1 

And in Antony and Cleopatra we have: 

The business that we love, we rise betimes 
And go to it with delight. 4 

Bacon in his Apology says: 

It happened, a little before that time, that her Majesty had a purpose to dine 
at Twickenham Park, at which time I had (although I profess not to be a poet) 
prepared a sonnet directly tending and alluding to draw on her Majesty's recon- 
cilement to my Lord, which I remember I also showed to a great person. 

Mr. William Thompson 5 calls attention to the fact that this 
sonnet has never been found among Bacon's papers, or elsewhere, 
and suggests that this is one of the sonnets that go under the name 
of Shakespeare. 

When James I., after the death of Elizabeth, was about to come 
to England, to assume the crown, Master John Davis, afterward 
Sir John Davis, the poet and courtier, went to meet him, where- 
upon Bacon sent after him this significant letter: 

Master Davis: 

Though you went on the sudden, yet you could not go before you had spoken 
with yourself to the purpose which I will now write. And, therefore, I know it 
shall be altogether needless, save that I meant to show you that I was not asleep. 

1 Letter to Tobie Matthew, 1609. , 2 Book ii. 3 Act ii, scene 3. 4 Act iv, scene 4. 

* The Renascene Drama; or, History Made Visible. By William Thompson, F.R.C.S., F.L.S. 
Melbourne, 1880. 



Briefly, I commend myself to your love and the well-using of my name, as well in 
repressing and answering for me, if there be any biting or nibbling at it, in that 
place; as by imprinting a good conceit and opinion of me, chiefly in the King (of 
whose favor I make myself comfortable assurance), and otherwise in that court. 
And, not only so, but generally to perform to me all the good offices which the 
vivacity of your wit can suggest to your mind, to be performed to one with whose 
affection you have so great sympathy, and in whose fortune you have so great 
interest. So desiring you to be good to all concealed poets % I continue, etc. 

This letter is very significant. It is addressed to a poet; it 
anticipates that there will be "biting and nibbling" at his good 
name; it begs the friendly services of Davis; and it concludes by 
asking him to be good "to all concealed poets.'" This plainly refers to 
himself. The whole context shows it. We know that Bacon was a 
poet. Here he admits that he is a concealed poet. That is to say, 
that he was the author of poetical writings which he does not 
acknowledge — " which go about in others' names.'' 

This pregnant admission half proves my case; for if the "con- 
cealed" poetical writings were not the Shakespeare Plays, what 
were they ? Are there any other poetical writings in that age 
whose authorship is questioned ? If so, what are they ? 

And we have another proof of this in a letter of Sir Tobie 
Matthew to Bacon, which, being addressed to him as the Viscount 
St. Albans, must necessarily have been written subsequent to the 
27th January, 162 1, when his Lordship was invested with that title. 
Judge Holmes says: 

It appears to be in answer to a letter from Lord Bacon, dated "the 9th of 
April " (year not given), accompanying some great and noble token of his " Lord- 
ship's favor," which was in all probability a newly printed book; for Bacon, as we 
know from the letters, was in the habit of sending to Mr. Matthew a copy of his 
books as they were published. . . . Neither is there anything in the way of the 
supposition that this date may actually have been the 9th of April, 1623; and there 
was no publication of any work of Bacon, during that spring, which he would be 
sending to Mr. Matthew unless it were precisely this Folio of 1623. ! 

The postscript is as follows: 

P. S. The most prodigious wit that ever I knew of my nation, and of this side 
of the sea, is of your Lordship's name, THOUGH HE BE known hy another. 

If we suppose that "the great and noble token " was the Shake- 
speare Folio of 1623, we can understand this. If Tobie Matthew, 
Bacon's intimate friend and correspondent, his "other self" as he 
calls him, to whom he wrote about the mysterious works of the 

1 Authorship of Shah., p. 172. 



alphabet, and to whom he sent "the works of his recreation" (not to 
be left where any one could take a copy of them) — if Tobie Mat- 
thew knew that "the great and noble token " was written by "the 
concealed poet," Bacon, and if he desired, as part of his thanks, to 
compliment him upon the mighty genius manifested in it, what is 
more natural than that he should allude to the hidden secret in the 
way he does? He says, in effect, waiting from abroad: "Thanks 
for the Folio. Your Lordship is the greatest wit of our nation, 
and of this side of the sea (that is, in all Europe), though your 
noblest work is published under another name." 

In another letter Tobie Matthew writes him: 

I shall give you " Measure for Measure '." 

He was familiar with the Plays of Shakespeare. After Shake- 
speare's death, he wrote a letter, in which he refers to Falstaff as 
the author of a speech which he quotes. And in 1598 he writes to 
Dudley Carleton, again quoting from Falstaff: "Well, honour 
pricks them on, and the world thinckes that honour will quickly 
prick them off againe." 

That there were concealed poets in London among the gentlemen 
scholars, and the lawyers in the inns of court, we know in another 
way: In Webb's Discourse of Poetry, published in 1586, after enumer- 
ating the writers of the day, Whetstone, Munday, etc., he adds: 

I am humbly to desire pardon of the learned company of gentlemen scJiolars and 
students of the universities and inns of 'court, if I omit their several commenda- 
tions in this place, which I know a great number of them have worthily deserved, 
in many rare devices and singular inventions of poetry; for neither hath it been my 
good hap to have seen all which I have heard of, neither is my abiding in such 
place where I can with facility get knowledge of their works. 1 

In Spenser's Tcares of the Muses, printed in 1591, there is a pass- 
age beginning: 

And he the man whom Nature's self had made 

To mock her selfe and Truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter under mimic shade, 

Our pleasant Willy, ah, is dead of late ! 

This has been held to refer to Shakspere, chiefly, it would 
seem, because of the name Willy. "But," says Richard Grant 
White, 2 "' Willy,' like 'shepherd,' was not uncommonly used 
merely to mean a poet, and was distinctly applied to Sir Philip 

1 Knight, Shak. Biography, p. 328. 2 Life and Genius of Shale., p. 95. 


Sidney, in an eclogue preserved in Davidson's Poetical Rhapsody, 
published in 1602. And The Teares of the Muses had certainly been 
written before 1590, when Shakspere could not have arisen to 
the position assigned, by the first poet of the age, to the subject of 
this passage, and probably before 1580, when Shakspere was a boy 
of sixteen at Stratford." 

And if these lines referred to Shakspere, what is meant by the 
words, "with kindly counter under mimic shade"? Certainly 
Shakspere never appeared under any mimic shade or disguise; 
while, if the lines referred to Bacon, old enough even in 1580 to be 
a poet and a friend of Spenser, there might be an allusion here to 
his use of some play-actor's name as a disguise for his productions, 
just as we find him in the sonnets referring to himself as 

Keeping invention in a noted weed 

Till every word does almost speak my name. 

But I shall discuss this matter more at length hereafter. 
And Bacon, in a prayer made while Lord Chancellor, refers to 
the same weed or disguise: 

The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine 
eyes; I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart. I have, though in a despised 
weed, procured the good of all men. 

We will see hereafter that the purpose of the Plays was the 
good of all men. 

And we find in the following sentence proof that Bacon used 
the word weed to signify a disguise: 

This fellow, when Perkin took sanctuary, chose rather to take a holy habit 
than a holy place, and clad himself like a hermit, and in that weed wandered about 
the country until he was discovered and taken. 1 

We find many evidences that Bacon's pursuits were poetical. 
He writes to the Earl of Essex on one occasion: 

Desiring your good Lordship, nevertheless, not to conceive out of this my dili- 
gence in soliciting this matter, that I am either much in appetite or much in hope. 
For, as for appetite, the -waters of Parnassus are not like the waters of the Spa, 
that give a stomach, but rather they quench appetite and desires. 

And when, after Essex was released from confinement in 1600, 
Bacon wrote him a congratulatory letter, Essex replied, evidently 
somewhat angry at him, as follows: 

1 History of Henry VII. 


I can neither expound nor censure your late actions, being ignorant of them all 
save one, and having directed my sight inward only to examine myself. ... I am 
a stranger to all poetical conceits, or else / should say somewhat of your poetical 

And we have many proofs that Bacon was engaged in some 

studies which absorbed him to the exclusion of law and politics. 

He says: 

I do confess, since I was of any understanding, my mind hath, in effect, been 
absent from that I have done, and in absence errors are committed, which I do 
willingly acknowledge; and amongst the rest this great one which led the rest: that 
knowing myself by inward calling to be fitter to hold a book than to play a part, I 
have led my life in civil causes, for which I was not very fit by nature, and more 
unfit by the preoccupation of my mind. 2 

And he makes this apology for the failure of his life: 

This I speak to posterity, not out of ostentation, but because I judge it may 
somewhat import the dignity of learning, to have a man born for letters rather than 
anything else, who should by a certain fatality, and against the bent of his own 
genius, be compelled into active life. 3 


XI. The Imagination Revealed in Bacon's Acknowledged 


But, after all, the best evidence of the fact that Bacon possessed 
the imagination, the fancy and the wit necessary for the pro- 
duction of the Plays, must be found in his acknowledged writings. 

I assert, first, that he had all the fancy, vivacity and sprightli- 
ness of mind necessary for the task. 

Let me give a few proofs of this. He says: 

Extreme self-lovers will set a man's house on fire, though it were but to roast 
their eggs. 4 

Money is like muck, not good unless it be spread. 5 

You have built an ark to save learning from deluge. 6 

He calls the great conquerors of history " the troublers of the 

world; " he speaks of " the tempest of human life." 

He says: 

A full heart is like a full pen; it can hardly make any distinguished work. 1 

He says: 

For as statues and pictures are dumb histories, so histories are speaking pict- 

1 Letter from Essex to Bacon, 1600. 5 Essay Of Seditions. 

2 Letter to Sir Thomas Bodley. fi Letter to Sir Thomas Bodlev. 

3 Advancement of Learning, viii, 3. 7 Letter to the King. 

4 Coll. Sene. 8 Letter to the Chancellor. 


In so grave and abstract a matter as the dedication of The 

Arguments of Law, he says: 

For the reasons of municipal laws, severed from the grounds of nature, man- 
ners and policy, are like wall-flowers, which, though they grow high upon the 
crests of states, yet have no deep roots. 

How figurative, how poetical is this! Not only the municipal 
laws are compared to wall-flowers, but they grow upon the crests 
of states ! 

He says also: 

Fame hath swift swings, especially that which hath black feathers. 1 

Meaning, by black feathers, slanders. 

He also says: 

For, though your Lordship's fortunes be above the thunder and storms of 
inferior regions, yet, nevertheless, to hear the wind and not to feel it, will make 
one sleep the better. 2 

He says: 

Myself have ridden at anchor all your Grace's absence, and my cables are now 
quite worn. 3 

We also find this: 

The great labor was to get entrance into the business; but now the portcullis 
is drawn up. 4 

He says: 

Hereupon presently came forth swarms and volleys of libels, which are the 
gusts of liberty of speech restrained, and the females of sedition, containing bitter 
invectives and slanders. 5 


I shall perhaps, before my death, have rendered the age a light unto posterity,, 
by kindling this new torch amid the darkness of philosophy. 6 


Time, like a river, hath brought down all that was light and inflated, and hath 
sunk what was weighty and solid. 7 


I ask for a full pardon, that I may die out of a cloud* 


As for gestures, they are as transitory hieroglyphics. 9 

1 Letter to Sir George Villiers, 1615. 5 History 0/ Henry VII. 

2 Letter to Buckingham, April, 1623. « Letter to King James. 

3 Letter to Buckingham, October 12, 1623. 7 Preface to Great Instauration. 

4 Letter to Buckingham, i6iq. « Letter to Buckingham, November 25, 1623. 

• Advancement of Learnings book ii. 


He says: 

Words are the footsteps and prints of reason. 1 

Hope is a leaf-joy, which may be beaten out to a great extension, like gold. 2 


The reason of this omission I suppose to be that hidden rock whereupon both 
this and many other barks of knowledge have been cast away. 3 

Again he speaks of 

The Georgics of the mind, concerning the husbandry and tillage thereof. 4 


Such men are, as it were, the very suitors and lovers of fables. 5 

This reminds us of Shakespeare: 

The very beadle to a humorous sigh. 6 

Speaking of the then recent voyages in which the earth was 

circumnavigated, he uses this poetical expression: 

Memorable voyages, after the manner of heaven, about the globe of the earth. 7 

Did ever grave geographer use such a simile as this ? 

He says: 

Industrious persons ... do save and recover somewhat from the deluge of 
time. 8 


Remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time. 9 


Times answerable, like waters after a tempest, full of working and swelling. 1 " 

He says: 

The corrupter sort of politicians . . . thrust themselves into the center of the 
world, as if all lines should meet in them and their fortunes; never caring, in all 
tempests, what becomes of the ship of state, so they may save themselves in the 
cock-boat of their own fortune. n 


Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set. H 
He says: 

If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the 
world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that 
joins to them. 13 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 7 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

3 History of Life and Death. 8 Ibid. 

3 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 8 Ibid. 

* Ibid. 10 Ibid., book ii. 
6 Novum Organum, book ii. u Ibid., book i. 

* Love's Labor Lost, iii, i. 12 Essay Of Beauty. 

13 Essay Of Goodness. 


He says: 

It is sport to see a bold fellow out of countenance, for that puts his face into a 
most shrunken and wooden posture. 1 


Suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds — they ever fly by twi- 
light. 2 


Some men's behavior is like a verse, wherein every syllable is measured. 3 

He says: 

Certainly there be whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide 
and an easiness more than the verses of other poets. 4 

Speaking of those studies that come home to the hearts of 

men, or, to use his phrase, " their business and bosoms," he says: 

So men generally take well knowledges that are drenched in flesh and blood. 5 

He says: 

Duty, though my state lie buried in the sands, and my favors be cast upon the 
waters, and my honors be committed to the wind, yet standeth surely built upon 
the rock, and hath been, and ever shall be, unforced and unattempted. 6 

Speaking of the Perkin Warbeck conspiracy, Bacon says: 

After such time . . . she began to cast with herself from what coast this blazing 
star should first appear, and at what time it must be upon the horizon of Ireland, for 
there had been the like meteor strong influence before. The time of the apparition to 
be when the King should be engaged into a war with France. 7 

Again he says: 

Honor that is gained and broken upon another hath the quickest reflection, 
like diamonds cut tvith facets . 8 


In fame of learning the flight will be slow without some feathers of ostenta- 
tion. 9 


Pope Alexander . . . was desirous to trouble the waters in Italy, that he might 
fish the better; casting the net not out of St. Peter's, but out of Borgia's bark. 10 

He uses this expression: 

Their preposterous, fantastic and hypothetical philosophies which have led 

1 Essay Of Goodness. « Letter written in Essex' name to the Queen, 1600. 

2 Essay Of Suspicion. 1 History of Henry VII. 

3 Essay Of Praise. * Essay Of Honor and Reputation. 
* Essay Of Fortune. » Essay Of Vain Glory. 

5 A d?'ancetncnt of Learning-, book ii. 10 History of Henry VII. 

'* Novum Organum. 


Speaking again of the Perkin Warbeck conspiracy, he expresses 
it in this most figurative manner: 

At this time the King began to be haunted with spirits, by the magic and curi- 
ous arts of the Lady Margaret, who raised up the ghost of Richard, Duke of York, 
second son to King Edward the Fourth, to walk and vex the King. 1 


Every giddy-headed humor keeps, in a manner, revel-rout in false religions. ? 


It is the extremity of evil when mercy is not suffered to have commerce with 
misery. 3 

When he would say that the circumstances were favorable for 
the inauguration of the Perkin Warbeck conspiracy, he puts it thus: 

Now did the sign reign, and the constellation was come, under which Perkin 
should appear. 4 

[We find the Duke telling Viola: 

I know thy constellation is right apt 
For this affair. 5 ] 
And again: 

But all this upon the French King's part was but a trick, the better to bow 
King Henry to peace. And therefore upon the first grain of incense that was sac- 
rificed upon the altar of peace, at Boloign, Perkin was smoked away. 6 

When Bacon would say that King Henry VII. used his wars as 
a means and excuse to fill his treasury, he expresses it in this pict- 
uresque fashion: 

His wars were always to him as a mine of treasure of a strange kind of ore; 
iron at the top and gold and silver at the bottom. 7 

Again he says: 

And Perkin, for a perfume before him as ne went, caused to be published a 
proclamation. 8 


So certainly, if a man meditate much upon the universal frame of nature, the 
earth with men upon it (the divineness of souls except) will not seem much other 
than an ant-hill, where, as some ants carry corn, and some carry their young, and 
some go empty, and all — to and fro — a little heap of dust. 9 

He uses this expression after his downfall: 

Here I live upon the sword-point of a sharp air. 10 

1 History of Henry J 'II. • History of Henry VII. 

- J J 'isdom of the A ncients — Dionysius. ' Ibid. 

3 Ibid.— Diomedes. 8 Ibid. 

4 History of Henry J 'II. 9 A dvancement of Learning, book i. 

5 Twelfth Night, i, 4. I0 Petition to the House of Lords. 


Alluding to Perkin Warbeck, he says: 

But it was ordained that this winding-ivy of a Plantagenet should kill the true 
tree itself. 1 


It was a race often dipped in their own blood. 2 

Speaking of the crowds of rabble who followed Perkin Warbeck 

after his capture, to mock and deride him, Bacon uses this poetical 


They flocked about him as he went along: that one might know afar off where 
the owl was by the flight of birds. 3 

After his downfall he writes: 

I desire to do, for the little time God shall send me life, like the merchants of 
London, which, when they give over trade, lay out their money upon land. So 
being freed from civil business, I lay forth my poor talent upon those things which 
may be perpetual. 4 


And as in the tides of people once up, there want not commonly stirring winds 
to make them more rough. 5 

Speaking of Henry VII., after he had overcome the rebellions 

of Simnell and Warbeck, Bacon says: 

This year also, though the King was no more haunted with sprites, for that by 
the sprinkling, partly of blood, and partly of water, he had chased them away. 6 

Again he says: 

As if one were to employ himself poring over the dissection of the dead car- 
cass of nature, rather than to set himself to ascertain the powers and properties of 
living nature. 1 

He says: 

Nothing appears omitted for preparing the senses to inform the understand- 
ing, and we shall no longer dance, as it were, within the narrow circles of the 
enchanter, but extend our march around the confines of the world itself. 8 


A fellow that thinks with his magistrality and goosequill to give laws and 
menages to crowns and scepters. 9 

This is rather a long list of examples to prove that Bacon pos- 
sessed in a preeminent degree fancy, vivacity and imagination, but 
I feel that no man can say his time is wasted in reading such a 
catalogue of gems. 

1 History of Henry VII. * Letter to the King, Oct. 8, 1621. 7 Nature of Things. 

2 Ibid. ° History of Henry VII. » Exper. History. 

3 Ibid. "Ibid. 9 Charge against Talbot. 


XII. Had he the Higher Genius? 

We come now to another question. Granted that he had these 
humbler qualities of a vivacious mind, did he possess the loftier 
features of the imagination, those touches where heart and soul 
and sense of melody are fused together as in the great Plays ? 

Undoubtedly an affirmative answer must be given to this ques- 
tion. But as in the doings of daily life he was, as Byron says, "off the 
tripod," it is only when he is, as Prospero has it, "touched to the 
quick," by some great emotion, that he forgets the philosophical and 
political restraints he has imposed upon himself, and pours forth his 
heart in words. One of these occasions was his downfall, in utter 
disgrace, fined, imprisoned, exiled from the court. In his petition 
to the House of Lords he cries out from the depths of his soul: 

I am old, weak, ruined, in want, a very subject of pity. 

We seem to hear the voice of Lear: 

A poor, infirm, weak and despised old man. 1 

And, still speaking of himself, he continues with this noble 

It may be you will do posterity good, if out of the carcass of dead and rotten 
greatness, as out of Samson's lion, there may be honey gathered for the use of 
future times. 2 

What a noble, what a splendid image is this ! How the meta- 
phor is interwoven, Shakespeare-wise, not as a distinct comparison, 
but into the entire body of the thought. He is appealing for 
mercy, for time to finish his great works; he is himself already 
"dead and rotten greatness," but withal majestic greatness; he is 
Samson's lion, but in the carcass the bees have made their hive 
and hoarded honey for posterity. And what a soul ! That in the 
hour of ruin and humiliation, sacrificed, as I believe, to save a dis- 
honest King and a degraded favorite, he could still love humanity 
and look forward to its welfare. 

Could that expression have come from any other source than 
the mind that wrote Shakespeare ? The image was not unfamiliar 
to the writer of the Plays: 

Tis seldom when the bee doth leave her comb 

In the dead carrion. 3 


1 Lear, iii, 2. 2 Petition to the House of Lords. 3 2d Henry II'., iv, 4. 


Take another instance. Bacon speaks of 
The ocean, the solitary handmaid of eternity. 1 

If that thought was found in the Plays, would it not be on the 
tongues of all men as a magnificent image? 
And what poetry is there in this ? 

But men must learn that in this theater of man's life it is reserved only for 
God and the angels to be lookers-on. 2 

If Shakespeare had written a prose essay, should we not expect 
him to speak something after this fashion ? 

But the images of men's wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted from 
the wrong of time and capable of perpetual renovation. Neither are they fitly to 
be called images, because they generate still and cast their seeds in the minds of 
others, provoking and causing infinite actions and opinions in succeeding ages; so 
that if the invention of the ship was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and 
commodities from place to place and consociateth the most remote regions in par- 
ticipation of their fruits, how much more are letters to be magnified, which, as 
ships, pass through the vast seas of time and make ages so distant to participate of 
the wisdom, illuminations and inventions, the one of the other. 3 

How poetical is the following: 

Her royal clemency which as a sovereign and precious balm continually distil- 
leth from her fair hands, and falleth into the wounds of many that have incurred 
the offense of the law. 4 

Again we have : 

Sure I am that the treasure that cometh from you to her Majesty is but as a 
vapor which riseth from the earth and gathereth into a cloud and stayeth not there 
long, but upon the same earth it falleth again. It is like a sweet odor of honor and 
reputation to our nation throughout the world. 5 

We are reminded of Portia's : 

The quality of mercy is not strained, 

It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven 

Upon the place beneath. 6 

And also of the following: 

The heavens rain odors on you. 7 

How beautiful is this expression of Bacon: 

A crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a 
tinkling cymbal where there is no love. 8 

1 The Nature of Things. 6 Bacon's Speech in Parliament, 1597-8, vol. 

2 Advancement of Learning, book ii. ii, p. 86. 

8 Ibid., book i. " Merchant of J'enice, iv, 1. 

♦Discourse in Praise ofthe Queen; Life 7 Twelfth Night, iii, 1. • 

and Works, vol. i, p. 129. 8 Essay Of Friendship. 


How figurative is this: 

The King slept out the sobs of his subjects until he was awakened with the 
thunderbolt of a Parliament. 1 

What poet has written in prose anything more poetical than this ? 

The unfortunate destinies of hopeful young men, who, like the sons of Aurora, 
puffed up with the glittering show of vanity and ostentation, attempt actions above 
their strength. . . . For among all the disasters that can happen to mortals, there 
is none so lamentable, and so powerful to move compassion, as the flower of virtue 
cropped with too sudden a mischance. . . . Lamentation and mourning flutter around 
their obsequies like those funereal birds.* 

How fine is this expression : 

He took, as it were, the picture of words from the life of reason. 3 

There is a rhythm in this: 

Bred in the cells of gross and solitary monks. 4 

How poetical is his conception when he speaks 5 of the prepara- 
tion for the grand Armada and the Spanish invasion of England, 
as being "like the travail of an elephant." And again, when he 
speaks of one of the Popes, who, by his labors, prevented the 
Mohammedanizing of the white race, as one who had "put a ring 
in the snout of the Ottoman boar" whereby he was prevented from 
rooting up and ravaging the fair field of Europe. The words 
draw a picture for us which the memory cannot forget. 

What a command of language does he exhibit ! Take these 


Words that come from wasted spirits and an oppressed mind are more safe in 
being deposited in a noble construction. 6 

Neither doth the wind, as far as it carrieth a voice, with a motion thereof, con- 
found any of the delicate and figurative articulations of the air, in variety of words. 7 

Who taught the bee to sail through such a vast sea of air? 8 

The first of these expeditions invasive was achieved with great felicity, ravished 
a strong and famous port in the lap and bosom of their high countries. 9 

Whilst I live, my affection to do you service shall remain quick under the ashes 
of my fortune. 10 

He speaks of Catiline as 

A very fury of lust and blood. 11 

1 Report of Spanish Grievances. 7 Natural History, cent, ii, §125. 

8 Wisdom o/the A ncients — Memnon. 8 Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 

* Advancement 0/ Learning, book i. 'Bacon's Speech in Parliament, 39 Eliz. (1597), 

* Ibid., book ii. Life and Works, ii, 88. 
6 In Praise of the Queen. 10 Letter to Earl of Bristol. 

* His Submission to Parliament. u Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 


Take these sentences: 

Religion sweetly touched with eloquence. 1 

The admirable and exquisite subtility of nature. 2 

Have you never seen a fly in amber more beautifully entombed than an Egyptian 

When it has at last been clearly seen what results are to be expected from the 
nature of things and the nature of the mind, we consider that we shall have pre- 
pared and adorned a nuptial couch for the mind and the universe, the Divine 
Goodness being our bridesmaid. 

The blustering affection of a wild and naked people. 3 

Sweet, ravishing music. . . . 
The melody and delicate touch of an instrument. 4 

But these blossoms of unripe marriages were but friendly wishes and the airs 
of loving entertainments. 5 

To dig up the sepulchers of buried and forgotten impositions. 6 

But the King did much to overcast his fortunes, which proved for many years 
together full of broken seas, tides and tempests. 7 

Neither was the song of the sirens plain and single, but consisting of such a 
variety of melodious tunes, so fitting and delighting the ears that heard them, as 
that it ravished and betrayed all passengers. 8 

We might make a book of such citations. 

Mr. John H. Stotsenburg, of New Albany, Indiana, has put 
together, in a newspaper article, a number of extracts from Bacon, 
and arranged them as if they were blank verse, I give a few of 
these. It is surprising to observe how much, in this shape, they 
resemble the poetry of the Shakespeare Plays, and how readily 
they would deceive an ordinary reader: 

Truth may come, perhaps, 
To a pearl's value that shows best by day, 
But rise it will not to a diamond's price 
That showeth always best in varied lights. 
Yet it is not death man fears, 
But only the stroke of death. 
Virtue walks not in the highway 
Though she go heavenward. 

Why should we love our fetters, though of gold ? 

When resting in security, man is dead; 

His soul is buried within him 

And his good angel either forsakes his guard or sleeps. 

1 . 1 dvancement of Learnings book i. 5 History of Henry VII. 

2 Novum Organum, book ii. « Speech in Parliament, 39 Elizabeth, 1597. 

3 History 0/ Henry VII. 1 History of Henry VII. 

4 Wisdom 0/ the A ncients. » Wisdom 0/ the A ncients —Sirens. 


There is nothing under heaven 

To which the heart can lean, save a true friend. 

Why mourn, then, for the end which must be 

Or spend one wish to have a minute added 

To the uncertain date which marks our years ? 

Death exempts not man from being, 

But marks an alteration only. 

He is a guest unwelcome and importunate 

And he will not, must not be said nay. 

Death arrives gracious only 

To such as sit in darkness 

Or lie heavy-burdened with grief and irons. 

To the poor. Christian that sits slave-bound 

In the galleys; 

To despairful widows, pensive pensioners and deposed kings; 

To them whose fortune runneth backward 

And whose spirits mutiny: 

Unto such death is a redeemer, 

And the grave a place of retiredness and rest. 

These wait upon the shore, and waft to him 

To draw near, wishing to see his star 

That they may be led to him, 

And wooing the remorseless sisters 

To wind down the watch of life 

And break them off before the hour. 

It is as natural to die 
As to be born. 

In many of these there are scarcely any changes, except in 
arranging them as blank verse instead of in the form of prose; and 
they have been taken as prose simply because Bacon so first 
wrote them. 

No man, I think, can have followed me thus far in this 
argument without conceding that Bacon was a poet. If a poet, 
* ; the greatest of mankind" would be the greatest poet of man- 
kind. Whatever such a mind strove to accomplish would be of 
the highest. Nothing commonplace could dwell in such a 

We must admit that he possessed everything needed for the 
preparation of the Shakespeare Plays. Learning, industry, am- 
bition for immortality; command of language in all its heights and 
depths; the power of compressing thought into condensed sen- 
tences; wit, fancy, imagination, feeling and the temperament of 


XIII. His Wit. 

But it will be said, Was he not lacking in the sense of humor ? 

By no means. It was the defect of his public speeches that his; 
wit led him aside from the path of dignity. Ben Jonson says his 
oratory was " nobly censorious when he could spare or pass by a 
jest." Sir Robert Naunton says, " He was abundantly facetious, 
which took much with the Queen." The Queen said, "He hath a 
great wit." "I wish your Lordship a good Easter," says the 
Spanish Jew, Gondomar, about to cross the Channel. " I wish you 
a good Pass-over," replied Bacon. Queen Elizabeth asked Bacon 
whether he had found anything that smacked of treason in a certain 
book. " No," said Bacon, "but I have found much felony." " How 
is that?" asked the Queen. "The author." said Bacon, "has stolen 
many of his conceits from Cornelius Tacitus." 

In the midst even of his miseries, after his downfall, he writes 

(1625) to the Duke of Buckingham: 

I marvel that your Grace should think to pull down the monarchy of Spain 
without my good help. Your Grace will give me leave to be merry, however the tvorld' 
goeth with me. 

I have just quoted Macaulay's declaration that Bacon's sense 
of wit and humor was so powerful that it oftentimes usurped the 
place of reason and tyrannized over the whole man. 

We find in the author of the Shakespeare Plays the same ina- 
bility to restrain his wit. 

Says Carlyle: 

In no point does Shakespeare exaggerate but only in laughter. Fiery objurga- 
tions, words that pierce and burn, are to be found in Shakespeare; yet he is always 
in measure here, never what Johnson would remark as a specially "good hater." 
But his laughter seems to pour from him in floods, . . . Not at mere weakness, at 
misery or poverty, never. 

or r ME Y 



First, let me talk with this philosopher. 

Lear, lit, 4. 

IN the attempt to establish identity I have shown that Bacon 
was a poet as well as a philosopher. I shall now try to estab- 
lish that the writer of the Plays was a philosopher as well as a 
poet. In this way we will come very near getting the two heads 
under one hat. 

The poet is not necessarily a philosopher; the philosopher is not 
necessarily a poet. One may be possessed of marvelous imagina- 
tive powers, with but a small share of the reasoning faculty. 
Another may penetrate into the secrets of nature with a brain as 
dry as grave-dust. 

The crude belief about Shakespeare is that he was an inspired 
plow-boy, a native genius, a Cornish diamond, without polishing; a 
poet, and nothing but a poet. I propose to show that his mind 
was as broad as it was lofty; that he was a philosopher, and more 
than that, a natural philosopher; and more than that, that he held 
precisely the same views which Bacon held. 

Let us see what some of the great thinkers have had to say 
upon this subject: 

Carlyle makes this most significant speech: 

There is an understanding manifested in the construction of Shakespeare's 
Plays equal to that in Bacon's Novum Organum. 

Hazlitt has struck upon the same pregnant comparison: 

The wisdom displayed in Shakespeare was equal in profoundness to the great 
.Lord Bacon's A r ovum Organum. 

Coleridge said: 

He was not only a great poet, but a great philosopher. 

. Richard Grant White calls him 

The greatest philosopher and the worldly-wisest man of modern times. 



Says Emerson: 

He was inconceivably wise. The others conceivably. 1 

Barry Cornwall says: 

He was not a mere poet in the vulgar sense of the term. ... On the con- 
trary, he was a man eminently acute, logical and philosophical. His reasoning 
faculty was on a par with his imagination and pervaded all his works completely.* 

Landor calls Shakespeare 

The wisest of men, as well as the greatest of poets. 

Pope calls Bacon 

The wisest of mankind. 

Jeffrey says of Shakespeare: 

He was more full of wisdom and sagacity than all the moralists and satirists 
that ever lived. 

Coleridge says: 

Shakespeare's judgment equaled, if it did not surpass, his creative faculty. 

Dr. Johnson says: 

From his works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence 

Swinburne calls Shakespeare: 

The wisest and mightiest mind that ever was informed with the spirit or genius 
of creative poetry. 

Richard Grant White says of Shakespeare: 

He was the most observant of men. 

On the other hand, Edmund Burke said of Bacon: 

He possessed the most distinguished and refined observation of human life. 

Alfred H. Welsh says of Bacon: 

Never was observation at once more recondite, better-natured and more care- 
fully sifted. 

Surely these two men, if we can call them such, ran in closely 
parallel lines. 

And it must be remembered that these witnesses are not advo- 
cates of the Baconian authorship of the Plays. Many of them never 
heard of it. 

I. Bacon's Philosophy. 

But there are two kinds of philosophy — the transcendental and 
the practical. Naturally, the first has most relation to the imagin- 
ation; the latter tends to drag down the mind to the base details 

1 Representative Men, p. 209. 2 Preface to Works of Ben fonson. 


of life. The mind must be peculiarly constructed that can at the 
same time grapple with the earth and soar in the clouds. It was 
the striking peculiarity of Bacon's system of philosophy that it 
tended to make great things little and little things great. 

It was the reverse of that old-time philosophy to which Shake- 
speare sneeringly alluded when he said: 

We have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar things super- 
natural and causeless. 1 

Says Macaulay: 

Some people may think the object of the Baconian philosophy a low object. 2 

And again he observes: 

This persuasion that nothing can be too insignificant for the attention of the 
wisest which is not too insignificant to give pleasure or pain to the meanest, is the 
essential spirit of the Baconian philosophy. 3 

Bacon cared nothing for the grand abstrusenesses: he labored 

for the "betterment of men's bread and wine" — the improvement 

of the condition of mankind in their worldly estate. This was the 

gospel he preached. Like Socrates, he "dragged down philosophy 

from the clouds." He said: 

The evil, however, has been wonderfully increased by an opinion, or inveterate 
conceit, which is both vainglorious and prejudicial, namely, that the dignity of the 
human mind is lowered by long and frequent intercourse with experiments and 
particulars, which are the objects of sense and confined to matter, especially since 
such matters are mean subjects for meditation. 4 

And again, in his Experimental Natural History, he says: 

We briefly urge as a precept, that there be admitted into this (natural) history: 
i. The most common matters, such as one might think it superfluous to insert, 
from their being well known; 2. Base, illiberal and filthy matters, and also those 
which are trifling and puerile, . . . nor ought their worth to be measured by their 
intrinsic value, but by their application to other points and their influence on phil- 

And again: 

This was a false estimation that it should be a diminution to the mind of man 
to be much conversant in experiences and particulars, subject to sense and bound 
in matter, and which are laborious to search, ignoble to meditate, harsh to deliver, 
illiberal to practice, infinite as is supposed in number, and noways accommodate 
to the glory of arts. 5 

And, strange to say, when we turn to Shakespeare we find 
embalmed in poetry, where one would think there would be the 

> All's Well that Ends Well, ii, 3. 3 Ibid., p. 272. ■ Filum Labyrintki. 

a Essay Bacon, p. 278. 4 Novum Organum, book i. 


least chance to find it, and with which it would seem to have no 

natural kindred or coherence, this novel philosophy. 

Shakespeare says: 

Some kinds of baseness 
Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters 

Point to rich ends} 

And again: 

Nature, what things there are, 
Most abject in regard and dear in use ! 
What things again most dear in the esteem 
And poor in worth! 2 

This is the very doctrine taught by Bacon, which I have just 


Base, illiberal and filthy matters, and also those which are trifling and puerile, 
. . . nor ought their worth to be measured by their intrinsic value, but by their 
application to other points and their influence on philosophy. 

Why did not Bacon quote that sentence from the Tempest? 

Some kinds of baseness 
Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters 
Point to rich ends. 

No wonder Birch is reminded of Bacon when he reads Shake- 
speare. He says: 

Glendower is very angry at the incredulity of Hotspur, and reiterates again 
and again the signs that he thought marked him extraordinary. Hotspur not only 
replies with badinage, but ascribes, with Baconian induction, all that Glendower 
thought miraculous and providential to nature and the earth. 3 

Dowden describes the philosophy of Shakespeare in words that 

fully fit the philosophy of Bacon. He says: 

The noble positivism of Shakespeare. . . . Energy , devotion to the fact, self-gov- 
ernment, tolerance, ... an indifference to externals in comparison with that 
which is of the invisible life, and a resolution to judge of all things from a purely 

human standpoint} 

The same writer says: 

The Elizabethan drama is essentially mundane. To it all that is upon this 
earth is real, and it does not concern itself greatly about the reality of other 
things. Of heaven or hell it has no power to sing. It finds such and such facts 
here and now, and does not invent or discover supernatural causes to explain these 

Richard Grant White says: 

For although of all poets he is most profoundly psychological, as well as most 
fanciful and most imaginative, yet with him philosophy, fancy and imagination 

1 Tempest, mil, i. 3 Birch, Plains, and Relig. of Shak., p. 238. 5 Ibid., p. 23. 

2 Troilus and Cress/da, Hi, 3. 4 Dowden, Shak. Mind and Art, p. 34. 


are penetrated with the spirit of that unwritten law of reason which we speak of as 
if it were a faculty — common sense. His philosophy is practical and his poetical 
views are fused with philosophy and poetry. He is withal the sage and the oracle of 
this world. . . . There is in him the constant presence and rule of reason in his 
most exalted flights. 1 

Jeffrey says: 

When the object requires it he is always keen and worldly and practical, and 
yet, without changing his hand or stopping his course, he scatters around him as 
he goes all sounds and shapes of sweetness. 

It needs no further argument to demonstrate: 

1. That the writer of the Plays was a philosopher. 

2. That he was a practical philosopher. 

I shall now go farther, and seek to show that, like Bacon, he 
was a natural philosopher, a student of nature, a materialist. 
Bacon says: 

Divine omnipotence was required to create anything out of nothing, so also is 
that omnipotence to make anything lapse into nothing. 2 

The writer of the Plays had grasped the same thought: 

O anything of nothing first created. 3 
Bacon says: 

Nothing proceeds from nothing. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Nothing will come of nothing. 5 

Nothing can be made out of nothing. 6 

A r e see the natural philosopher also in those reflections as to 

the indestructibility of matter and its transmutations in these 


Full fadom five thy father lies; 

Of his bones are coral made; 
These are pearls that were his eyes: 

Nothing of him that doth fade, 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange.' 1 

Hamlet's meditations run in the same practical direction. He 

perceives that the matter of which Alexander was composed was 


Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returned to dust; the dust 
is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam (whereto he was converted) 
might they not stop a beer barrel? 

1 Life and Genius of S/iak., p. 293. s Romeo andjtiliet, i, 1. 5 Lear, i, 1. 

1 Thoughts on the Nature 0/ Things. * Novum Organum, book ii. 8 Ibid., i, &.. 

7 Tempest, i, 2. 


Illustrious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, 
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. 

And when we turn again to Bacon we find him considering how 

All things pass through an appointed circuit and succession of transformations. 
. . . All things change; nothing really perishes. 1 

And again Bacon says: 

For there is nothing in nature more true . . . than that nothing is reduced to 
nothing. 2 

Henry IV. delivers what Birch calls "an episode proper to a 

geological inquirer, and savoring of the theory of the materialist 

with regard to the natural and not providential alteration of the 

globe," when he says: 

O Heaven! that one might read the book of fate 

And see the revolution of the times; 

Make mountains level, and the continent 

(Weary of solid firmness) melt itself 

Into the sea ! and other times to see 

The beachy girdle of the ocean, 

Too wide for Neptune's hips; how chances, mocks 

And changes fill the cup of alteration 

With divers liquors. 3 

Birch adds: 

When he returns to politics, and makes them a consequence, as it were, of the 
preceding philosophical reflections, we do not see the connection, except in that 
materialistic view of things, and necessitarian way of thinking, in which Shake- 
speare frequently indulges, and which involved all alike, physical and human 
effects, in the causes and operations of nature. We either see the unavoidable ten- 
dency of Shakespeare's mind to drag in some of his own thoughts at the expense 
of situation or probability, or we must admit them so mixed up in his philosophy 
as not to be divided. 4 

We find the man of Stratford (if we are to believe he wrote the 

Plays), while failing to teach his daughter to read and write, urging 

that the sciences should be taught in England! 

Even so our houses, and ourselves, and children, 
Have lost, or do not learn, for want of time, 
The sciences that should become our country. 5 

We see the natural philosopher also in Shakespeare's reflections. 

in Measure for Measure : 

Thou art not thyself; 
For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains 
That issue out of dust. 6 

1 Thoughts on the Nature of Things. * Birch, Philosophy a!l 't Religion of Shah., p. 249. 

2 Novum Organum, book ii. * Henry V., v, 2. 
* Henry IV., iii, 1. "Act iii, scene 1. 


Here we find the same mind, that traced the transmutations of 
the dust of Alexander and Caesar, following, in reverse order, the 
path of matter from the inorganic dust into the organic plant, 
thence into fruit or grain, thence into the body, blood and brain of 
man. Man is not himself; he is simply a congeries of atoms, 
brought together by a power beyond himself. 

And Shakespeare says: 

It is as easy to count atomies as to resolve the propositions of a lover. 1 

The natural philosopher is shown also in that wise and merciful 


For the poor beetle that we tread upon 

In corporal sufferance finds as great a pang 

As when a giant dies. -i 

And we turn to Bacon, and we find him indulging in a similar 

But all violence to the organization of animals is accompanied with a sense of 
pain, according to their different kinds and peculiar natures, owing to that sentient 
essence which pervades their frames. 3 

Observe the careful student of nature also in this: 

Many for many virtues excellent, 

None but for some, and yet all different. 

O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies 

In herbs, plants, stones and their true qualities: 

For naught so vile that on the earth doth live, 

But to the earth some special good doth give; 

Nor aught so good, but, strained from that fair use, 

Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse. 4 

Here, again, we see the Baconian idea that the humble things 
of earth, even the vilest, have their noble purposes and uses. 
And the same study of plants is found in the following: 

Checks and disasters 
Grow in the veins of actions highest reared; 
As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap, 
Infect the sound pine, and divert his grain 
Tortive and errant from his course and growth. 5 

And in the very direction of Bacon's curious investigations into 
life is this reference to the common belief of the time, that a horse- 
hair, left in the water, turns into a living thing: 

1 As You Like It, iii, 2. • The Nature 0/ Tilings. 8 Troilus and Cressida. 1. . - , 

- Measure for Measure, iii, 1. ' Ronteo and Juliet, ii, 3. 


Much is breeding 
Which, like the courser's hair, hath yet but life, 
And not a serpent's poison. 1 

It has even been noted by others that in that famous descrip- 
tion of the hair, "standing on end like quills upon the fretful por- 
cupine," the writer hints at the fact that the quills of that animal 
are really modified hairs. 2 

And when Lady Macbeth says: 

I know 
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: 
I would, while it was smiling in my face, 
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums 
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn, 
As you have done to this 3 — 

we perceive that the writer had thought it out that the teeth are 
but modified bones. 

The student of natural phenomena is also shown in these sen- 

Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth. 4 

Can I go forward when my heart is here ? 
Turn back, dull earth, and find thy center out ! 5 

I will find 
Where truth is hid, though it were hid, indeed, 
Within the center. 6 

While Bacon, seeming to anticipate the Newtonian specula- 
tions, says: 

Heavy and ponderous bodies tend toward the center of the earth by their 
peculiar formation. . . . Solid bodies are borne toward the center of the earth. 7 

And here we perceive that the poet and the play-writer had 

even considered the force of the sun's heat in producing agitations 

of the atmosphere. 

He says: 

Which shipmen do the hurricano call, 
Constringed in mass by the almighty sun. 8 

Bacon observed that 

All kind of heat dilates and extends the air, . . . which produces this breeze 
as the sun goes forward . . . and thence thunders and lightnings and storms. 9 

1 A ntony and Cleopatra, i Romeo and Juliet, ii, i. 

' 2 American Cyclopedia, vol. viii, p. 384. * Hamlet, ii, 2. 

3 Macbeth, i, 7. 7 Novum Organutn, book ii. 

4 Sonnet cxlvi. 8 Troilus and Cressida, v, 2. 

'•' . Xuthor. 0/ Shak., p. 310. 



And Judge Holmes calls attention to the following parallel 
thought in Shakespeare: 

As whence the sun 'gins his reflection, 
Ship-wrecking storms and direful thunders break. 1 

And that all-powerful preponderance of the sun in the affairs of 
the planet, which modern science has established, was realized by 
the author of the Plays, when he speaks, in the foregoing, of " the 
almighty sun," " constringing " the air and producing the hurri- 
cane. It is no wonder that Richard Grant White exclaims: 

The entire range of human knowledge must be laid under contribution to 
illustrate his writings. 2 

And the natural philosopher is shown in the question of Lear 
(for Shakespeare's lunatics ask many questions that wise men can- 
not answer) : 

Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell? 3 

In his Natural History, we find Bacon occupying himself with 
kindred thoughts. He discusses the casting-off of the shell of the 
lobster, crab, era-fish, the snail, the tortoise, etc., and the making 
of a new shell: 

The cause of the casting of the skin and shell should seem to be the great 
quantity of matter that is in those creatures that is fit to make skin or shell* 

And again says Lear: 

First let me talk with this philosopher: 
What is the cause of thunder? 5 

And Bacon had considered this question also. He says: 

We see that among the Greeks those who first disclosed the natural causes of 
thunder and storms, to the yet untrained ears of man, were condemned as guilty 
of impiety towards the gods. 6 

Shakespeare says: 

And do but see his vice; 
'Tis to his virtue a just equinox, 
The one as long as the other. 7 

In this we have another observation of a natural phenomenon.. 

And here is another: 

Know you not 
The fire, that mounts the liquor till it run o'er, 
In seeming to augment it, wastes it. 8 

1 Macbeth, i, i. * Century viii, § 732. 7 Othello, ii, 3. 

x Shak. Genius, p. 252. 5 Lear, Hi, 4. 8 Henry VIII., i, 1. 

3 L<\ir, i, 5. % Novum Organuw, book i. 


The poet had also studied the causes of malaria. 
He says: 

All the infections that the sun sucks up 

From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him 

By inch-meal a disease. 1 

And again: 

Infect her beauty, 
Yon fen-sucked fogs, drawn by the powerful sun, 
To fall and blast her pride. - 

And in the following the natural philosopher is clearly ap- 

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction 
Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief, 
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun. 
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves 
The moon into salt tears; the earth's a thief 
That feeds and breeds by a composture stolen 
From general excrement/ 5 

I shall hereafter show, in the chapter on " Identical Compari- 
sons," that both Bacon and Shakespeare compared man to a species 
of deputy God, a lesser Providence, with a power over nature that 
approximated in kind, but not in degree, to the creative power of 
the Almighty. He says in one place: 

For in things artificial nature takes orders from man and works under his 
authority; without man such things would never have been made. But by the 
help and ministry of man a new force of bodies, another universe, or theater of 
things, comes into view. 

And in Shakespeare we have the following kindred reflections: 

Perdita. For I have heard it said, 

There is an art which, in their piedness, shares 

With great creating nature. 

Pol. Say there be; 

Yet nature is made better by no mean, 

But nature makes that mean; so o'er that art 

Which you say adds to nature, is an art 

That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we ma^ry 

A gentler scion to the wildest stock, 

And make conceive a bark of baser kind 

By bud of nobler race: this is an art 

Which does mend nature, change it rather, but 

The art itself is nature. 4 

1 Tempest, ii, 2. 2 Lear, ii, 4. '■' Titus Andronicus, iv, 3. * Winter's Tale, iv, 3. 


And again: 

'Tis often seen 
Adoption strives with nature; and choice breeds 
A native slip to us from foreign seeds. 1 

And we have a glimpse in the following of the doctrine that 
nature abhors a vacuum. 

The air, which, but for vacancy, 
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra, too, 
And made a gap in nature. 2 

And here we find them, again, thinking the same thought, based 
on the same observation. Bacon says: 

As for the inequality of the pressure of the parts, it appeareth manifestly in 
this, that if you take a body of stone or iron, and another of wood, of the same 
magnitude and shape, and throw them with equal force, you cannot possibly throw 
the wood so far as the stone or the iron. 3 

And we find the same thought in Shakespeare: 

The thing that's heavy in itself, 

Upon enforcement flies with greatest speed. 4 

And here is a remarkable parallelism. Shakespeare says: 

There lives within the very flame of love 
A kind of wick, or snuff, that will abate it. 5 

Bacon says: 

Take an arrow and hold it in flame for the space of ten pulses, and when it 
cometh forth you shall find those parts of the arrow which were on the outside of 
the flame more burned, blackened, and turned almost to a coal, whereas that in the 
midst of the flame will be as if the fire had scarce touched it. This . . . showeth 
manifestly that flame burneth more violently towards the sides than in the midst. 6 

And here is another equally striking. Bacon says: 

Besides snow hath in it a secret warmth; as the monk proved out of the text: 
" Qui dat nivem sicut lanam, gelu sicut cineres spargit." Whereby he did infer that 
snow did warm like wool, and frost did fret like ashes. 7 

Shakespeare says: 

Since frost itself as actively doth burn. 8 
Bacon anticipated the discovery of the power of one mind over 
another which we call mesmerism; and we find in Shakespeare 
Ariel saying to the shipwrecked men: 

If you could hurt, 
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths, 
And will not be tiplifted.'* 

* All's Well that Ends Well, i, 3. x 2d Henry IV., i, 1. 7 Natural History, §788. 

2 A ntony and Cleopatra, ii, 2. • Hamlet, iv, 7. 8 Hamlet, iii, 4. 

3 Natural History, §791. fi Natural History, §32. 9 Tempest, iii, 3. 


I conclude this chapter with the following citations, each of 

which shows the profound natural philosopher: 

That man, how dearly ever parted, 
How much in having, or without or in, 
Cannot make boast to have that which he hath, 
Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection; 
As when his virtues shining upon others 
Heat them, and they retort that heat again 
To the first giver. ' 




The beauty that is borne here in the face, 
The bearer knows not, but commends itself 
To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself, 
That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself, 
Not going from itself. 2 

No man is the lord of any thing, 

Though in and of him there be much consisting, 

Till he communicate his parts to others. 3 

Heaven doth with us as we with torches do, 

Not light them for ourselves; 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. 4 

1 Troilus and Cressida, hi, 3. 2 Ibid. s Ibid. * Measure for Measure, i, t. 

I. A. D. 1821. 2. A. D. 1795- 3- A. D. 1568. 


Dear earth ! I do salute thee with my hand. 

Richard II., Hi, 2. 

GENIUS, though its branches reach to the heavens and cover 
the continents, yet has its roots in the earth; and its leaves, 
its fruit, its flowers, its texture and its fibers, bespeak the soil in 
which it was nurtured. Hence in the writings of every great mas- 
ter we find more or less association with the scenes in which his 
youth and manhood were passed — reflections, as it were, on the 
camera of the imagination of those landscapes with which destiny 
had surrounded him. 

In the work of the peasant-poet, Robert Burns, we cannot sepa- 
rate his writings from the localities in which he lived. Take away 

" Bonnie Doon; " 

" Auld Alloway's witch-haunted kirk ; " 

" Ye banks and braes and streams around, 
The castle of Montgomery;" 

11 Auld Ayr, which ne'er a town surpasses 
For honest men and bonny lasses; " 

11 Sweet Afton, 
Amid its green braes," 

and the thousand and one other references to localities with which 

his life was associated, and there is very little left which bears the 

impress of his genius. 

If we turn to Byron, we find the same thing to be true. We 

have his "Elegy on Newstead Abbey;" his poem "On Leaving 

Newstead Abbey;" his lines on " Lachin y Gair " in the Highlands, 

where "my footsteps in infancy wandered;" his verses upon 

"Movren of Snow;" his "Lines written beneath an Elm in the 

Churchyard of Harrow on the Hill;" his verses "On Revisiting 

Harrow," and his poem addressed "To an Oak at Newstead;" 

while " Childe Harold " is full of allusions to scenes with which 

his life-history was associated. 



The same is true, to a greater or less extent, of all great writers 
who deal with the emotions of the human heart. 

I. Stratford-on-Avon is not Named in the Plays. 

In view of these things it will scarcely be believed that in all the 
voluminous writings of Shakespeare there is not a single allusion to 
Stratford, or to the river Avon. His failure to remember the dirty 
little town of his birth might be excused, but it would seem most 
natural that in some place, in some way, in drama or sonnet or 
fugitive poem, he should remember the beautiful and romantic river, 
along whose banks he had wandered so often in his youth, and whose 
natural beauties must have entered deeply into his soul, if he was 
indeed the poet who wrote the Plays. He does, it is true, refer to 
Stony-Stratford, 1 a village in the County of Bucks, and this makes the 
omission of his own Stratford of Warwickshire the more surprising. 

II. St. Albans Referred to Many Times. 

On the other hand, we find repeated references to St. Albans, 
Bacon's home, a village of not much more consequence, so far as 
numbers were concerned, than Stratford. 

Falstaff says: 

There's but a shirt and a half in all my company; . . . and the shirt, to say 
the truth, stolen from my host of Saint Albans.' 2 

In the 2d Henry IV. we have this reference: 

Prince Henry. This Doll Tear-sheet should be some road. 

Poins. I warrant you, as common as the road between Saint Albans and 
London. 3 

In The Contention between the Two Famous Houses of York and Lan- 
caster, which is conceded to be the original form of some of the 
Shakespeare Plays, we have: 

For now the King is riding to Saint Albans.* 

My lord, I pray you let me go post unto the King, 
Unto Saint Albans, to tell this news. 5 

Come, uncle Gloster, now let's have our horse, 
For we will to Saint Albans presently. 6 

In the same scene (in The Contention), of the miracle at Saint 
Albans : 

1 Richard III., ii, 4. s 2d Henry IV., ii, 2. 5 Ibid., ii, 3. 

2 1st Henry IV., iv, 3. 4 1st Part of Contention, i, 2. 6 Ibid. 



Come, my lords, this night we'll lodge in Saint Albans} 

In the play of Richard 1 1 J . we have this allusion to Bacon's 

country seat: 

Was not your husband 
In Margaret's battle at Saint Albans slain ?'-' 

We have numerous references to St. Albans in the 2d Henry VI. : 

Messenger. My Lord Protector, 'tis his Highness' pleasure 
You do prepare to ride unto Saint Albans,* 

And again: 

Duchess. It is enough; I'll think upon the questions: 
When from Saint Albans we do make return. 4 

And again: 

York. The King is now in progress toward Saint Albans.-' 

III. Three Scenes in the Plays Laid at St. Albans. 

Scene 1, act ii, 2d Henry VI., is laid at Saint Albans ; scene 2, act 
v, of the same is also laid at Saint Albans ; scene 3, act v, is laid in 
Fields, near Saint Albans. 

Note the following: 

Forsooth, a blind man at Saint Albania shrine, 
Within this half-hour hath received his sight. 6 

Enter the Mayor of Saint Albans. 

Being called 
A hundred times and oftener, in my sleep 
By good Saint A /ban. 1 



Glos. Yet thou seest not well. 

Simpcox. Yes, master, clear as day; I thank God and Saint Albany 


Gloster. My lord, Saint A/ban here hath done a miracle.'' 

Gloster. My masters of Saint Albans, have you not beadles in your town? 111 

And again: 

For underneath an alehouse' paltry sign. 

The castle in Saint Albans, Somerset 

Hath made the wizard famous in his death." 

1 1st Contention, ii, i. 

4 2d Henry VI., i, ->. 

- Ibid. 

, ii, 1. 

10 Ibid., ii, 1. 

» Richard III., i, 3. 

5 Ibid., i, 3. 

s Ibid. 

, ii, 1. 

1 1 2d Henry VI. , v, 2, 

3 2d Henry VI., i, 2. 

"Ibid., ii, 1. 

9 Ibid. 

. ii, 1. 



Now by my hand, lords, 'twas a glorious day, 
Saint Albans battle, won by famous York, 
Shall be eternized in all age to come. 1 

In the 3d Henry VI. we find St. Albans referred to as follows z 

Marched toward Saint Albans to intercept the Queen. 2 



Short tale to make — we at Saint Albans met. 3 

When you and I met at Saint Albans last. 4 

Brother of Gloster, at Saint Albans field 

This lady's husband, Sir John Grey, was slain. 5 

Here is St. Albans referred to in the Shakespeare Plays twenty -three 
times, and Stratford not once ! 

Is not this extraordinary? What tie connected the Stratford 
man with the little village of Hertfordshire, that he should drag it 
into his writings so often ? 

We are told that he loved the village of Stratford, and returned, 
when rich and famous, to end his days there. We have glowing 
pictures, in the books of the enthusiastic commentators, of his wan- 
derings along the banks of the lovely Avon. Why did he utterly 
blot them both out of his writings ? 

IV. Warwickshire Ignored in the Plays. 

But he ignored the county of Warwickshire — his own beautiful 
county of Warwickshire — in like fashion. 

Michael Drayton, poet and dramatist, a contemporary of Shak- 
spere, was, like him, born in Warwickshire, but he did not forget 
his native shire. He thus invocates the place of his birth: 

My native country, then, which so brave spirits hath bred, 
If there be virtues yet remaining in thy earth, 
Or any good of thine thou bred'st into my birth, 
Accept it as thine own, whilst now I sing of thee, 
Of all thy later brood th' unworthiest though I be. 

The county of Warwickshire is only referred to once in the 
Plays (1st Henry IV., iv, 2), and " the lord of Warwickshire" is 
mentioned twice. The only reference that I know of to localities 
in Warwickshire is in the introduction to The Taming of the Shrew, 
where Wincot is named. It is assumed that this is Wilmecote, three 

1 2d Henry /"/., v, 2. ^jd Henry /'/.. ii, 1. :i Tbid. * Ibid., ii, 2. '"Ibid., iii, 3. 



miles distant from Stratford-on-Avon. But of this there is no cer- 

There is a Woncot mentioned in 2d Henry IV, — 
William Visor of VVoncott; ' — 
and so eager have the Shakspereans been to sustain the War- 
wickshire origin of the Plays that they have converted this into 
Wincot. As, however, Master Robert Shallow, Esquire, dwelt in 
Gloucestershire — 

[He through Gloucestershire, and there will I visit Master Robert Shallow Es- 
quire,] — 

and William Visor was one of his tenants or underlings, this Won- 
cot could not have been Wincot, near Stratford, in Warwickshire. 

V. St. Albans the Central Point of the Historical Plays. 

Mrs. Pott has pointed out how much of the action of the Shake- 
speare Plays finds its turning-point and center in St. Albans: 

To any one who sees in it one of the inciting causes for the composition of the 
historical plays called Shakespeare's, and especially the second part of Henry VI. 
and Richard III., St. Albans and its neighborhood are in the highest degree sug- 
gestive and instructive. Gorhambury was one of the boyish homes of Francis 
Bacon. When, at the age of nineteen, he was recalled from his gay life at the 
•court of the French embassador on account of the sudden death of his father, it was 
to Gorhambury that he retired with his widowed mother. Thus he found himself 
on the very scene of the main events which form the plot of the second part of 
Henry VI. . . . The play culminates in the great.battle of St. Albans, which took 
place in a field about one and a half miles from Gorhambury. As a boy, Francis 
must have heard the battle described by old men whose fathers may even have 
witnessed it. He must frequently have passed " the alehouse' paltry sign " beneath 
which Somerset was killed by Richard Plantagenet (2d Henry VI, v, 2). He must 
have trodden the Key Field where the battle was fought, and in which the last 
scene of the play is laid. It was a scene not likely to be forgotten. The Lancas- 
trians lost five thousand men, including the detested Duke of Somerset and other 
nobles, and the poor, weak King, Henry VI., was taken prisoner by the Yorkists. 
Considering the mildness and moderation which was invariably exercised by the 
Duke of York, and the violent and bloodthirsty course pursued by Queen Marga- 
ret, it is no wonder that this, the first Yorkist victory of the Wars of the Roses, 
should be kept green on the spot where it took place. 

'Twas a glorious day. 
Saint Albans' battle, won by famous York, 
Shall be eterniz'd in all age to come. 

Before entering the abbey, let the visitor glance around. To the north of the 
town stands the old church of St. Peter, and in its graveyard lie the bodies of many 
of those who were slain in the great battles between the rival houses of York and 
Lancaster. To the left is Bernard's heath, the scene of the second battle of St. 

1 Act v, scene 1. 


Albans, where the Yorkist army was defeated, as related in jd Henry VI., ii, I. 
In the distance may be seen Hatfield house, the noble residence of the Marquis of 
Salisbury, but formerly the property of William of Hatfield, second son of Edward 
III. {2d Henry VI., ii, 2). Within a short distance is King's Langley, the birth- 
place and burial place of the "famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York" {1st 
Henry /.'/., ii, 5), and, as we are further told, " fifth son " of Edward III. {2d Henry 
VI, ii, 2). On the east of the town lay Key Field, the arena of the first battle of 
St. Albans. Across it may be seen the ancient manor-house, formerly inhabited 
by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. To the right is Sopwell nunnery, where Henry 
VIII. married Anne Boleyn. The history of the monastery to which the abbey 
was attached is intimately associated with English history. To go back no farther 
than the fourteenth century, there Edward I. held his court; there Edward II. was 
a frequent visitor; thither, after the battle of Poictiers, Edward III. and the Black 
Prince brought the French King captive. After the insurrection of Wat Tyler and 
Jack Straw, Richard II. and his Chief Justice came in person and tried the rioters. 
A conspiracy to dethrone Richard began at the dinner table of the Abbot, when 
Gloucester and the Prior of Westminster were his guests. This Gloucester was 
"Thomas of Woodstock," described in 2d Henry VI, ii, 2, as "the sixth son of 
Edward the Third." At a subsequent meeting of members of the conspiracy, the 
Duke of Gloucester, "Henry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby" {Richard II, i, 
3), the Earl Marshal (ibid.), Scroop, Archbishop of Canterbury {Richard II, iii, 2), 
the Abbot of St. Albans and the Prior of Westminster {Richard II, iv, 1) were 
present, and the perpetual imprisonment of the King was agreed upon. In the 
play of Richard II every name mentioned in the old manuscript which records 
this meeting is included, except one — namely, the Abbot of St. Albans; and yet in 
the old records priority over Westminster is always given to him. It is conject- 
ured that the omission was intentional, and that the author did not wish by fre- 
quent repetition to give prominence to a name which would draw attention to the 
neighborhood of his own home. At the monastery of St. Albans rested the body 
of John, Duke of Lancaster {1st Henry IV., vol. 4), on the way to London for 
interment. His son Henry, afterward Cardinal Beaufort {1st Henry VI, i, 3, etc.), 
performed the exequies. Richard II. lodged at St. Albans on his way to the 
Tower, whence, having been forced to resign his throne to Bolingbroke, he 
was taken to Pomfret, imprisoned and murdered. Meanwhile, the resignation of 
the King being read in the House, the Bishop of Carlisle arose from his seat 
and stoutly defended the cause of the King. Upon this the Duke of Lancaster 
commanded that they should seize the Bishop and carry him off to prison at 
St. Albans. He was afterward brought before Parliament as a prisoner, but 
the King, to gratify the pontiff, bestowed on him the living of Tottenham. 
These events are faithfully rendered or alluded to in the Plays, the only notable 
omission being, as before, any single allusion to the Abbot of St. Albans (See 
Richard II, vol. vi, 22-29). 

Passing over many similar points of interest, let us enter the Abbey church by 
its door on the south side. There the visitor finds himself close to the shrine 
erected over the bones of the martyred saint. To this shrine, after the defeat of 
the Lancastrians, at the first battle of St. Albans, the miserable King, having been 
discovered at the house of a tanner, was conducted, previous to his removal as a 
prisoner to London. In the shrine is seen the niche in which handkerchiefs and 
other garments used to be put, in order that the miraculous powers attributed to 
the saint should be imparted to the sick and diseased who prayed at his shrine, 
and thereby hangs a tale. Close by the shrine is the tomb of good Duke Hum- 
phrey of Gloucester, who plays such a prominent part in Henry VI The inscrip- 



tion on his tomb is not such as most persons might expect to find as an epitaph on 
the proud and pugnacious, but popular warrior. No hint is conveyed of his strug- 
gles with the Duke of Burgundy, or of his warlike contests for the possession of 
Holland and Brabant. Three points are noted concerning him: That he was pro- 
tector to Henry VI.; that he "exposed the impostor who pretended to have been 
born blind," and that he founded a school of divinity at Oxford. The story of the 
pretended blind man is the subject of 2d Henry VI, ii, 8, where it is introduced 
with much detail. Sir Thomas More quoted the incident as an instance of Duke 
Humphrey's acuteness of judgment, but the circumstance which seems to connect 
the epitaph not only with the play, but with Francis Bacon himself, is that it was 
not written immediately after the death of the Duke, but tardily, as the inscription 
hints, and it is believed to be the composition of John Westerham, head-master of 
the St. Albans grammar school in 1625 — namely, during the lifetime of Bacon, 
and at a date when Gorhambury was his residence. A phrase in the inscription 
applies to Margaret of Anjou, Henry's "proud, insulting queen," whose tomb, 
with her device of "Marguerites," or daisies, is not far from the shrine of 
St. Alban. It was by the intrigues of Margaret and her partisans that Duke 
Humphrey was arrested at Bury. The following night he was found dead in 
his bed — slain, as some old writers record, by the hand of Pole, Duke of 
Suffolk. {2d Henry VI, iii, 1; 223-281, ii, 1, 1-202.) Not far from these tombs 
are two more of peculiar interest to students of Shakespeare. One is the 
resting-place of Sir Anthony de Grey, grandson of Henry Percy, Earl of 
Northumberland. The inscription says that he married "the fourth sister to our 
sovraine lady, the queen;" that is, Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV. 
She had been formerly married. 

At St. Albans' field 
This lady's husband, Sir John Grey, was slain, 
His lands then seized on by the conqueror. 1 

Her suit to Edward to restore her confiscated property, and her subsequent 
marriage with him, form a prominent portion of the plot of the third part of 
Henry VI. 

Last, but not least, let us not overlook the mausoleum of "the Nevils' noble 
race," the family of the great Earl of Warwick, the "king-maker." In 2d Henry 
IV., v, 2, Warwick swears by his 

Father's badge, old Nevil's crest, 

The rampant bear chained to the ragged staff. 

The passage is vividly brought to the mind by the sight of a row of rampant 
bears, each chained to his ragged staff, and surmounting the monument erected 
over the grave of that great family of warriors. 

In fact, St. Albans seems to be the very center from which the 
eye surveys, circling around it, the grand panorama of the histor- 
ical Plays; while far away to the north lies the dirty little village 
of Stratford-on-Avon, holding not the slightest relation with any- 
thing in those Plays, save the one fact that the man who is said to 
have written them dwelt there. 

l 3 d Henry VI., Hi, 2. 


VI. York Place. 

There was one other spot in England tenderly associated in 
Bacon's heart with loving memories; that was the royal palace of 
''York Place," in London, in which he was born. In the day of 
his success he purchased it, and it was at last, after his downfall, 
torn from his reluctant grasp by the base Buckingham. Bacon 
says of it: 

York House is the house wherein my father died, and where I first breathed, 
and there will I yield my last breath, if so please God. 1 

We turn to the play of Henry VIII., and we find York Place 
depicted as the scene where Cardinal Wolsey entertains the King and his 
companions, masked as shepherds, with "good company, good wine, 
good welcome." 

And farther on in the play we find it again referred to, and 
something of its history given: 

jd Gentleman. So she parted, 

And with the same full state paced back again 

To Yorke-Place, where the feast is held. 

ist Gentleman. You must no more call it Yorke-Place, that's past; 

For since the Cardinal fell that title's lost; 

'Tis now the King's, and called White-hall. 

jd Gentleman. I know it; 

But 'tis so lately altered, that the old name 

Is fresh about me. 2 

How lovingly the author of the Plays dwells on the history of 
the place! 

VII. Kent. 

Bacon's father was born in Chislehurst; and we find many 
touches in the Plays which show that the writer, while he 
had not one good word to say for Warwickshire, turned lov- 
ingly to Kent and her people. He makes the double-dealing 
Say remark: 

Say. You men of Kent. 

Dick. What say you, Kent ? 

Say. Nothing but this: 'tis bona terra, mala gens. . . . 

Kent, in the Commentaries Caesar writ, 

Is termed the civil'st place of all this isle: 

Sweet is the country, because full of riches; 

The people liberal, valiant, active, wealthy. 3 

1 Letter to the Duke of Lenox, i6ai. - Henry VIII., iv, i. 3 2d Henry TV., iv, 7. 

Of r 


What made the Warwickshire man forget his own county and 
remember Caesar's praise of Kent? What tie bound William 
Shakspere to Kent ? 

And again, in another play, he comes back to this theme 

The Kentishmen will willingly rise. 
In them I trust: for they are soldiers, 
Witty, courteous, liberal, full of spirit.' 

The first scene of act iv of 2d Henry VI. is laid upon the sea- 
shore of Kent. 

It is in Kent that much of the scene of the play of King Lea?' is 
laid. Here we have that famous cliff of Dover, to the brow of 
which Edgar leads Gloucester: 

Come on, sir: 
Here's the place; stand still: how fearful 
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low. 
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air 
Shew scarce so gross as beetles. Half way down 
Hangs one that gathers samphire: dreadful trade: 
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head. 
The fishermen that walked upon the beach 
Appear like mice: and yon tall anchoring bark 
Diminished to her cocke; her cocke a buoy 
Almost too small for sight. 

"Jack Cade, the clothier," who proposed to dress the common- 
wealth and put new nap upon it, was a Kentishman. The insur- 
rection was a Kentish outbreak. The play of 2d Henry VI. largelv 
turns upon this famous rebellion. 

Many of the towns of Kent are referred to in the Plays, and 
Goodwin Sands appears even in the Italian play of The Merchant 
4>f Venice, as the scene of the loss of one of Antonio's ships. 

VIII. The Writer of the Plays had Visited Scotland. 

There is some reason to believe that the author of Macbeth 
visited Scotland. The chronicler Holinshead narrates that Mac- 
beth and Banquo, before they met the witches, " went sporting by 
the way together without other company, passing through the 
woods and fields, when suddenly, in the midst of a laund, there 
met them three women in strange and wild apparel." " This de- 
scription," says Knight, " presents to us the idea of a pleasant and 

* 3d Henry VI.. i, 3. 


fertile place." But the poet makes the meeting with the witches 
" on the blasted heath." Knight tells us that " the country around 
Forres is wild moorland. . . . We thus see that, whether Macbeth 
met the weird sisters to the east or west of Forres, there was 
in each place that desolation which was best fitted for such 
an event, and not the woods and fields and launds of the 

This departure from Holinshead's narrative would strongly 
indicate that the poet had actually visited the scene of the play. 

Again, it is claimed that the disposal of the portal " at the south 
entry " of the castle of Inverness is strictly in accordance with the 
facts, and could not have been derived from the chronicle. Even 
the pronunciation of Dunsinane, with the accent on the last sylla- 
ble, is shown to have been in accordance with the custom of the 

Macbeth was evidently written after the accession of James I., 

and we find that Bacon paid a visit to King James before he came 

to London and probably while he was still in Scotland. In Sped- 

ding's Life and Letters 1 we find a letter from Bacon to the Earl of 

Northumberland, without date, referring to this visit. Spedding 


Meanwhile the news which Bacon received from his friends in the Scotch cour/ 
appears to have been favorable: sufficiently so, at least, to encourage him to seek 
a personal interview with the King. I cannot find the exact date, but it will be 
seen from the next letter that, before the King arrived in London, he had gone to 
meet him, carrying a dispatch from the Earl of Northumberland; and that he had 
been admitted to his presence. 

The letter speaks as follows: 

// may please your good Lordship: 

I would not have lost this journey, and yet I have not that for which I 
went. For I have had no private conference to any purpose with the King; 
and no more hath almost any other English. For the speech his Majesty 
admitteth with some noblemen is rather matter of grace than of business. With 
the attorney he spake, being urged by the Treasurer of Scotland, but yet no more 
than needs must. . . . 

I would infer that this interview was held in Scotland. The 
fact that the Treasurer of Scotland was present and that the En- 
glish could not obtain private audience with the King would indi- 
cate this. 

J Volume iii, p. 76. 


IX. The Writer of the Plays had been in Italy. 

There are many reasons to believe that the writer of the Plavs 

had visited Italy. In a note upon the passage, 

Unto the tranect to the common ferry 
Which trades to Venice, 1 

Knight remarks: 

If Shakspere had been at Venice (which, from the extraordinary keeping of the 
play, appears the most natural supposition), he must surely have had some situa- 
tion in his eye for Belmont. There is a common ferry at two places — Fusina and 

In the same play the poet says: 

This night methinks is but the daylight sick. 

It looks a little paler; 'tis a day 

Such as the day is when the sun is hid.- 

Whereupon Knight says: 

The light of the moon and stars (in Italy) is almost as yellow as the sunlight 
in England. . . . Two hours after sunset, on the night of a new moon, we have 
seen so far over the lagunes that the night seemed only a paler day — " a little paler." 

Mr. Brown, the author of Shakespeare s Autobiographical Plays. 

strenuously maintained the opinion that Shakespeare must have 

visited Italy: 

His descriptions of Italian scenes and manners are more minute and accurate 
than if he had derived his information wholly from books. 

Mr. Knight, speaking of The Taming of the Shrew, says: 

It is difficult for those who have explored the city [of Padua] to resist the per- 
suasion that the poet himself had been one of the travelers who had come from 
afar to look upon its seats of learning, if not to partake of its " ingenious studies." 
There is a pure Paduan atmosphere hanging about this play. 

Bacon, it is known, visited France, and it is believed he traveled 

in Italy. 

X. The Writer of the Plays had been at Sea. 

One other point, and I pass from this branch of the subject. 

Richard Grant White says: 

Of all negative facts in regard to his life, none, perhaps, is surer than that he 
never was at sea; yet in Henry VIII., describing the outburst of admiration and 
loyalty of the multitude at sight of Anne Bullen, he says, as if he had spent his life 
on shipboard: 

Such a noise arose 
As the shrouds make at sea in a stiff tempest; 
As loud, and to as many tunes. ' ? 

1 Merchant of Venice, Hi, 4. ■ Act v. scene 1. 3 Life and Genius 0/ Shakespeare, p. 259. 


More than this, we are told that this man, who had never been 
at sea, wrote the play of The Tempest, which contains a very accu- 
rate description of the management of a vessel in a storm. 

The second Lord Mulgrave gives, in Boswell's edition, a com- 
munication showing that 

Shakespeare's technical knowledge of seamanship must have been the result of 
the most accurate personal observation, or, what is perhaps more difficult, of the 
power of combining and applying the information derived from others. 

But no books had then been published on the subject. Dr. 

Johnson says: 

His naval dialogue is, perhaps, the first example of sailor's language exhibited 
on the stage. 

Lord Mulgrave continues: 

The succession of events is strictly observed in the natural progress of the distress 
described; the expedients adopted are the most proper that could be devised for a 
chance of safety. . . . The words of command are strictly proper. . . . He has shown 
a knowledge of the new improvements, as well as the doubtful points of seamanship. 

Capt. Glascock, R. N., says: 

The Boatswain, in The Tempest, delivers himself in the true vernacular of the 

All this would, indeed, be most extraordinary in a man who had 

never been at sea. Bacon, on the other hand, we know to have 

made two voyages to France; we know how close and accurate 

were his powers of observation; and in The Natural History of the 

Winds ' he gives, at. great length, a description of the masts and 

sails of a vessel, with the dimensions of each sail, the mode of 

handling them, and the necessary measures to be taken in a storm. 

XI. Conclusions. 

It seems, then, to my mind, most clear, that there is not a single 
passage in the Plays which unquestionably points to any locality 
associated with the life of the man of Stratford, while, on the 
other hand, there are numerous allusions to scenes identified with 
the biography of Bacon; and, more than this, that the place of Bacon's 
birth and the place of his residence are both made the subjects of 
scenes in the Plays, and nearly all the historical Plays turn about 
St. Albans as a common center. 

The geography of the Plays would all indicate that Francis 
Bacon wrote them. 

1 Section 29. 



I love the people, 
But do not like to stage me to their eyes; 
Though it do well, I do not relish well 
Their loud applause, and aves vehement, 
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion 
That does affect it. 

Measure for Measure, i\ i. 

WE know what ought to have been the politics of William 
Shakspere, of Stratford. 
He came of generations of peasants; he belonged to the class 
which was at the bottom of the social scale. If he were a true man, 
with a burning love of justice, he would have sympathized with his 
kind. Like Burns, he would have poured forth bis soul in protests 
against the inequalities and injustice of society; he would have 
asserted the great doctrine of the brotherhood of man; he would 
have anticipated that noble utterance: 

The rank is but the guinea's stamp, 
The man's the gold for a' that. 

If he painted, as the writer of the Plays did, an insurrection of 
the peasants, of his own class, he would have set forth their cause in 
the most attractive light, instead of burlesquing them. Such a 
genius as is revealed in the Plays, if he really came from the com- 
mon people and was rilled with their spirit, would have prefigured 
that great social revolution which broke out twenty years after his 
death, and which brought a king's head to the block. We should 
have had, on every page, passages breathing love of equality, of 
liberty; and other passages of the mockery of the aristocracy that 
would have burned like fire. He would have anticipated Pym. 
Hampden and Milton. 

A man of an ignorant, a low, a base mind may refuse to sym- 
pathize with his own caste, because it is oppressed and down- 
trodden, and put himself in posture of cringe and conciliation to 
those whose whips descend upon his shoulders; but a really great 



and noble soul, a really broad and comprehensive mind, never would 
dissociate himself from his brethren in the hour of their affliction. 
No nobler soul, no broader mind ever existed than that revealed in 
the Plays. Do the utterances of the writer of those Plays indicate 
that he came of the common people ? Not at all. 

I. The Writer of the Plays was an Aristocrat. 

Appleton Morgan says: 

He was a constitutional aristocrat who believed in the established order of 
things, and wasted not a word of all his splendid eulogy upon any human right 
not in his day already guaranteed by charters or by thrones. 

Swinburne says- 

With him the people once risen in revolt, for any just or unjust cause, is 
always the mob, the unwashed rabble, the swinish multitude. 1 

And again: 

For the drovers, who guide and misguide at will the turbulent flocks of their 
mutinous cattle, his store of bitter words is inexhaustible; it is a treasure-house of 
obloquy which can never be drained dry. 2 

Walt Whitman says: 

Shakespeare is incarnated, uncompromising feudalism in literature. 3 

Richard Grant White says: 

He always represents the laborer and the artisan in a degraded position, and 
often makes his ignorance and his uncouthness the butt of ridicule. 4 

Dowden says: 

Shakspere is not democratic. When the people are seen in masses in his Plays 
they are nearly always shown as factious, fickle and irrational. 5 

Walter Bagehot says: 

Shakespeare had two predominant feelings in his mind. First, the feeling of 
loyalty to the ancient polity of this country, not because it was good, but because 
it existed. The second peculiar tenet is a disbelief in the middle classes. We fear 
he had no opinion of traders. You will generally find that when "a citizen" is 
mentioned he does or says something absurd. . . . The author of Coriolanus never 
believed in a mob, and did something towards preventing anybody else from doing so. 

We turn to Bacon and we find that he entertained precisely the 

same feelings. 

Dean Church says: 

Bacon had no sympathy with popular wants and claims; of popularity, of all 
that was called popular, he had the deepest suspicion and dislike; the opinions and 

1 Swinburne, Study of S/iak., p. 54. 3 Democratic Vistas, p. 81. 

a Ibid., p. 54 4 White's Genius of Shak., p. 298. 

*Shak. Mind and Art, p. 284. 


the judgment of average men he despised, as a thinker, a politician and a courtier; 
the "malignity of the people" he thought great. " I do not love," he said, "the 
word people." But he had a high idea of what was worthy of a king. 

II. He Despised the Class to which Shakspere Belonged. 

Shakespeare calls the laboring people: 

Mechanic slaves. 1 

The fool multitude that choose by show r , 

Not learning, more than the fond eye doth teach. 2 

The inundation of mistempered humor.' 

The rude multitude.* 

The multitude of hinds and peasants. 5 

The base vulgar. • 

O base and obscure vulgar. 7 

Base peasants. 8 

A habitation giddy and unsure 

Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart. 1 

A sort of vagabonds, rascals and run-aways, 

A scum of Bretagnes, and base lackey peasants." 1 

The blunt monster with uncounted heads. 
The still discordant, wavering multitude. 11 

We shall see hereafter that nearly every one of the Shakespeare 

Plays was written to inculcate some special moral argument; to 

preach a lesson to the people that might advantage them. Coriolanus 

seems to have been written to create a wall and barrier of public 

opinion against that movement towards popular government which 

not long after his death plunged England into a long and bloody civil 

w r ar. The whole argument of the play is the unfitness of a mob to 

govern a state. Hence all through the play we find such expressions 

as these: 

The plebeian multitude. ,a 

You common cry of curs. 18 

The mutable, rank-scented many. 14 

You are they 

That made the air unwholesome, when you cast 
Your stinking, greasy caps, in hooting at 
Coriolanus' exile. 15 

^■Antony and Cleopatra, v, 2. 6 Loves Labor Lost, i, 2. n 2d Henry IV., Ind. 

2 Merchant of Venice, ii, 9. ' Ibid., iv, 1. 12 Coriolanus, ii, 1. 

3 King John, v, 1. B 2d Henry VI., iv, 8. 13 Ibid., iii, 3. 

4 2d Henry VI. iii, 2. 9 2d Henry IV., i, 3. u Ibid., iv, 8. 

5 Ibid., iv, 4. 10 Richard III., v, 3. 1S Coriolanus. iv, 6. 



\ or 


Again he alludes to the plebeians as "those measles" whose 
contact would " tetter" him. 

III. He Despises Tradesmen of All Kinds. 

Hut this contempt of the writer of the Plays was not confined 
to the mob. It extended to all trades-people. He says: 

Let me have no lying; it becomes none but tradesmen. 1 

We turn to Bacon, and we find him referring to the common 

people as a scum. The same word is used in Shakespeare. Bacon 

speaks of 

The vulgar, to whom nothing moderate is grateful. 3 

This is the same thought we find in Shakespeare : 

What would you have, you curs, 
That like nor peace nor war? 3 

Who deserves greatness, 
Deserves your hate; and your affections are 
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that 
Which would increase his evil. 4 

Again Bacon says: 

The ignorant and rude multitude. 5 

If fame be from the common people, it is commonly false and naught. 6 

This is very much the thought expressed in Shakespeare: 

The fool multitude that choose by show, 

Not learning, more than the fond eye doth teach. 7 

And also in 

He's loved of the distracted multitude, 

Who like not in their judgments, but their eyes. 8 

Bacon says: 

For in all times, in the opinion of the multitude, witches and old women and 
impostors have had a competition with physicians. 9 

And again he says: 

The envious and malignant disposition of the vulgar, for when fortune's favor- 
ites and great potentates come to ruin, then do the common people rejoice, setting, 
as it were, a crown upon the head of revenge. 10 

1 Winter s Tale, iv, 3. 6 Essay Of Praise. 

3 Wisdom 0/ the Ancients — Diomedes. ' Merchant of Venice, ii, 9. 

3 Coriolanus, i, 1. * Hamlet, iv, 3. 

4 Ibid., i, 1. 9 Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 
6 Wisdom 0/ the A ncients. 10 Wisdom 0/ the A ncients — Nemesis. 


And again he says: 

The nature of the vulgar, always swollen and malignant, still broaching new 
scandals against superiors; . . . the same natural disposition of the people still 
leaning to the viler sort, being impatient of peace and tranquillity. 1 

Says Shakespeare: 

That like not peace nor war.' 2 

And Bacon says again: 

He would, never endure that the base multitude should frustrate the authority 
of Parliament. 3 

See how the same words are employed by both. Bacon says- 

The base multitude. 

Shakespeare says: 

The rude multitude — the base vulgar. 4 

And the word malignant is a favorite with both. Shakespeare 

Thou liest, malignant thing ! 

Malignant death. 5 

A malignant and turbaned Turk. 6 
Bacon says: 

The envious and malignant disposition. 
The vulgar always swollen and malignant. 

Shakespeare says: 

The swollen surge. 7 

Such swollen and hot discourse. 8 

But it must be remembered that Bacon was brought up as an 
aristocrat — connected by blood with the greatest men of the king- 
dom; born in a royal palace, York Place; son of Elizabeth's Lord 
Chancellor. And it must not be forgotten that the populace of 
London of that day had but lately emerged from barbarism; 
they were untaught in habits of self-government; worshiping the 
court, sycophantic to everything above them; unlettered, rude, 
and barbarous; and were, indeed, very different from the popu- 
lace of the civilized world to-day. They doubtless deserved 
much of the unlimited contempt which Bacon showered upon 

1 Wisdom of the Ancients. 4 Tempest, i, 2. 7 Tempest, ii, 1- 

2 Coriolanus, i, 1. 5 Richard III., ii, a 8 Troilus and Cressiu^. .. 3. 

3 History of Henry VII. « Othello, v, 2. 


IV. Hk was \i the Same Time a Philanthropist. 

But while the writer of the Plays feared the mob and despised 
the trades-people, with the inborn contempt of an aristocrat, he had a 
broad philanthropy which took in the whole human family, and his 
heart went out with infinite pity to the wretched and the suffering. 

Swinburne says: 

In Lear we have evidence of a sympathy with the mass of social misery more 
wide and deep and direct and bitter and tender than Shakespeare has shown else- 
where. ... A poet of revolution he is not, as none of his country in that genera- 
ation could have been ; but as surely as the author of Julius Ccesar has approved 
himself in the best and highest sense of the word at least potentially a republican, 
so surely has the author of King Lear avowed himself, in the only good and 
rational sense of the word, a spiritual if not a political democrat and socialist. 1 

While Bacon's intellect would have revolted from such a hell- 
dance of the furies as the French Reign of Terror, whose excesses 
were not due to anything inherent in self-government, but to the 
degeneration of mankind, caused by ages of royal despotism; and 
while he abominated the acrid bigotry of the men of his own age, 
with whom liberty meant the right to burn those who differed from 
them: his sympathies were nevertheless upon the side of an orderly, 
well-regulated, intelligent freedom, and strongly upon the side of 
everything that would lift man out of his miseries. 

Says Swinburne: 

Brutus is the very noblest figure of a typical and ideal republican in all the 
literature of the world. - 

Bacon was ready to stand up against the whole power of Queen 

Elizabeth, and, as a member of Parliament, defended the rights of 

that great body, even to the detriment of his own fortunes; but he 

did not believe, as he says in his History of Henry VII., that " the 

base multitude should control Parliament " any more than the 

Queen. And he gives us the same sentiment in Coriolanus. Men- 

enius Agrippa, after telling the incensed Roman populace the fable 

of The Belly and the Members, draws this moral: 

The senators of Rome are this good belly, 
And you the mutinous members. . . . 
You shall find 
No public benefit which you receive 
But it proceeds, or comes, from them to you, 
I nd no way from yourselves. 3 

1 Swinburne, A Stwx of Shak., p. 175. > Ibid., p. 1 59. 3 Coriotanus, i, 1. 


And he teaches us an immortal lesson in Troilus and Cressida; 

Then everything includes itself in power, 
Power into will, will into appetite: 
And appetite, an universal wolf. 
So doubly seconded with will and power, 
Must make perforce an universal prey, 
And last, eat up itself. 

And in Hamlet he says: 

By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken notice of it; the age is 
grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier 
that he galls his kibe. 1 

Here we have one of Bacon's premonitions of the coming tem- 
pest which so soon broke over England; or, as he expresses it in 
Richard III.: 

Before the days of change, still it is so; 
By a divine instinct, men's minds mistrust 
Ensuing danger; as, by proof, we see 
The water swell before a boisterous storm. ■ 

And again: 

And in such indexes, although small pricks 
To their subsequent volumes, there is seen 
The baby figure of the giant mass 
Of things to come at large. 3 

Here, then, was indeed a strange compound: — an aristocrat 
that despised the mob and the work-people, but who, nevertheless, 
loved liberty; who admired the free oligarchy of Rome, and hated 
the plebeians who asked for the same liberty their masters en- 
joyed; and who, while despising the populace, grieved over their 
miseries and would have relieved them. We read in Lear: 

Take physic, pomp; 
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel: 
So may st thou shake the super jlux to them, 
And show the heavens more just. 

And again: 

Heavens, deal so still ! 
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man, 
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see 
Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly; • 
So distribution should undo excess. 
And each man have enough. 

And we turn to Bacon, and we find that through his whole life 
the one great controlling thought which directed all his labors was 

1 Hamlet, v, i. 2 Richard III., ii, 3. 3 Troilus and Cressida, i, 3. 


a belief that God had created him to help his fellow-men U> 

greater comfort and happiness. 

He says: 

Believing that 1 was born for the service of mankind, and regarding the care of 
the commonwealth as a kind of common property, which, like the air and water, 
belongs to everybody, I set myself to consider in what way mankind might be best 

Again he says: 

This work, which is for the bettering of men's bread and wine, which are the 
characters of temporal blessings and sacraments of eternal, I hope, by God's holy 
providence, may be ripened by Caesar's star. 2 

Again he says: 

The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine 
eyes: I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart. 3 

And in one of his prayers he says: 

To God the Father, God the Word, God the Holy Ghost, I address my most 
humble and ardent prayers, that, mindful of the miseries of man, and of this pil- 
grimage of life, of which the days are few and evil, they would open up yet new 
sources of refreshment from the fountains of good for the alleviation of our 

He also says that any man who " kindleth a light in nature," 
by new thoughts or studies, " seems to me to be a propagator of 
the empire of man over the universe, a defender of liberty, a con- 
queror of necessities." 5 

It would be indeed strange if two men in the same age should 
hold precisely the same political views, with all these peculiar 
shadings and modifications. It would be indeed strange if the 
butcher's apprentice of Stratford should be filled with the most 
aristocratic prejudices against the common people; if the "vassal 
actor," who was legally a vagabond, and liable to the stocks and 
to branding and imprisonment, unless he practiced his degraded 
calling under the shadow of some nobleman's name, should bubble 
over with contempt for the tradesmen who were socially his 
superiors. And it would be still stranger if this butcher's appren- 
tice, while cringing to a class he did not belong to, and insulting 
the class he did belong to, would be so filled with pity for the 
wretchedness of the many, that he was ready to advocate a redis- 

1 Preface to The Interpretation of Nature. 4 The Masculine Birth of Time. 

2 Letter to the King. 5 The Interpretation of Nature. 

3 Prayer while Lord Chancellor. 


tribution of the goods of the world, so that each man might have 

V. The Writer of the Plays Belonged, like Bacon, to the 

Essex Faction. 

But we go a step farther. While we find this complete identity 
between the views of Bacon and the writer of the Plays as to the 
generalities of political thought, we will see that they both belonged 
to the same political faction in the state. 

It is well known that Bacon was an adherent of the Essex party 
and opposed to the party of his uncle Burleigh, who had suppressed 
him all through the reign of Elizabeth. These two factions 
divided the politics of the latter portion of Elizabeth's reign. 
The first gathered to itself all the discontented elements of 
the kingdom, the young men, the able, the adventurous, who flocked 
to Essex as to the cave of Adullam. They were in favor of brilliant 
courses, of wars, of adventures; as opposed to " the canker of a calm 
world and a long peace," advocated by the great Lord Treasurer. 
Bacon was undoubtedly for years the brains of this party. 

The writer of the Plays belonged to this party also. He was a 
member of the Lord Chamberlain's company of actors. The Lord 
Chamberlain's theater represented the aristocratic side of public 
questions; the Lord Admiral's company (Henslowe's) the plebeian 
side: the one was patronized by the young bloods, the gallants; the 
other by the tradesmen and 'prentices. It was a time when, in the 
words of Simpson, 

The civil and military elements were pleading for precedence at the national 
bar: the one advocating age and wisdom in council and industry and obedience in 
the nation; the other crying out for youthful counsel, a dashing policy, a military 
organization and an offensive war. The one was the party of the Cecils, the other 
that of the Earl of Essex. ' 

Riimelin argues that 

Shakespeare wrote f or the jeunesse dore'e of the Elizabethan theater, and that he 
already saw the Royalist and Roundhead parties in process of formation, and was 
opposed to the Puritan bourgeoisie. Shakespeare was a pure Royalist, and an 
adherent of the purest water to the court party and the nobles. 

The relations of Shakespeare to Essex, as manifested in the 
Plays, were as close as those of Bacon. Simpson says of the play 

1 School of Sh a k.. vol. i, p. 155. 


of Sir Thomas Stuckley, which he believes to have been an early 

work of Shakspere: 

The play is a glorification of Stuckley as an idol of the military or Essex party, 
to which Shakspere is known to have leant. . . . The character of Lord Sycophant, 
contained therein, is a stinging satire on Essex ' (Shakspere's hero and patron) great 
enemy, Lord Cobham. 1 

Speaking of the Plays which appeared at Shakspere's theater, 

Simpson says: 

When we regard them as a whole, those of the Lord Chamberlain's company 
are characterized by common sense, moderation, naturalness, and the absence of 
bombast, and by a great artistic liberty of form, of matter and of criticism; at the 
same time they favor liberty in politics and toleration in religion, and are consist- 
ently opposed to the Cecilian ideal in policy, while they as consistently favor that 
school to which Essex is attached. 2 

And it must not be forgotten that these striking admissions are 
made by one who had not a doubt that Shakspere was Shake- 

When we turn to the Plays we find a distinct attempt to glorify 
Essex. Camden says: 

About the end of March (1599) the Earl of Essex set forward for Ireland, and 
was accompanied out of London with a fine appearance of nobility and gentry, 
and the most cheerful huzzas of the common people. 

Essex returned to London on the 28th of September of the 

same year; and in the meantime appeared the play of Henry V. r 

and in the chorus of the fifth act we have these words: 

But now behold, 
In the quick forge and working-house of thought, 
How London doth pour out her citizens ! 
The mayor and all his brethren, in best sort — 
Like to the senators of antique Rome, 
With the plebeians swarming at their heels — 
Go forth and fetch their conquering Caesar in: 
As, by a lower but by loving likelihood, 
Were now the general of our gracious empress, 
(As in good time he may), from Ireland coming, 
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword, 
How many would the peaceful city quit 
To welcome him ? 

The play of 2d Henry IV. and that of Henry V. constitute a deifi- 
cation of military greatness; and the representation of that splen- 
did English victory, Agincourt — the Waterloo of the olden age — 
was meant to fire the blood of the London audiences with admira- 

1 School 0/ S/iak., vol. i, p. 10. 3 Ibid., vol. i, p. 19. 



tion for that spirit of military adventure of which Essex was the 
type and representative. 

Neither must it be forgotten that it was Southampton, the 
bosom friend of Essex, who shared with him in his conspiracy to 
seize the person of the Queen, and who nearly shared the block 
with him, remaining in the Tower until after the death of Eliza- 
beth. And it was to Southampton that Shakespeare dedicated 
Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. Bacon was the inti- 
mate friend and correspondent of Southampton ; they were both 
members of the law-school of Gray's Inn, and Shakespeare dedi- 
cated his poems to him. 

VI. The Writer of the Plays, like Bacon, Hated Coke. 

If there was any one man whom, above all others, Bacon despised 
and disliked it was that great but brutal lawyer, Coke. And in the 
Plays we find a distinct reference to Coke: 

Sir Toby. Go write it in a martial hand, be curst and brief; . . . taunt him 
with the license of ink: if thou thou st him some thrice it shall not be amiss. . . . 
Let there be gall enough in thy ink though thou write with a goose pen, no matter. 1 

Theobald and Knight, and all the other commentators, agree 
that this is an allusion to Coke's virulent speech against Sir Walter 
Raleigh, on the trial for treason. The Attorney-General exclaimed 
to Sir Walter: 

All he did was by thy instigation, thou viper; for I thou thee, thou traitor. 

Here is the thou thrice used. Theobald says it shows Shake- 
speare's "detestation of Coke." 

Let us pass to another consideration. 

VII. The Writer of the Plays, like Bacon, Disliked Lord 


Lord Cobham was one of the chief enemies of Essex. Spedding 

About the same time another quarrel arose upon the appointment of the ward- 
enship of the Cinque Ports, vacant by the death of Lord Cobham, whose eldest 
son, an enemy of the Earl, was one of the competitors. Essex wished Sir Robert 
Sydney to have the place, but, finding the Queen resolute in favor of the new Lord 
Cobham, and " seeing he is likely to carry it away, I mean (said the Earl) resolutely 
to stand for it myself against him. . . . My Lord Treasurer is come to court, and 


1 Twelfth Xight, iii, 1. 


we sat in council this afternoon in his chamber. I made it known unto them 
that I had just cause to hate the Lord Cobham, for his villainous dealing and abus- 
ing of me; that he hath been my chief persecutor most unjustly; that in him there 
is no worth." ' 

This was in the year 1597. 

And when we turn to the Plays we find that the writer sought 
to cover the family of Lord Cobham with disgrace and ridicule. 
Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

The first part of Henry IV., the appearance of which on the stage may be con- 
fidently assigned to the spring of the year 1397, was followed immediately, or a few 
months afterward, by the composition of the second part. It is recorded that both 
these plays were very favorably received by Elizabeth; the Queen especially relish- 
ing the character of Falstaff, and they were most probably amongst the dramas 
represented before that sovereign in the Christmas holidays of 1597-8. At this 
time, or then very recently, the renowned hero of the Boar's Head Tavern had 
been introduced as Sir John Oldcastle, but the Queen ordered Shakespeare to alter 
the name of the character. This step was taken in consequence of the representa- 
tions of some member or members of the Cobham family, who had taken offense at 
their illustrious ancestor, Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, the Protestant martyr, 
being disparagingly introduced on the stage; and, accordingly, in or before the Feb- 
ruary of the following year, Falstaff took the place of Oldcastle, the former being 
probably one of the few names invented by Shakespeare. . . . The subject, how- 
ever, was viewed by the Cobhams in a very serious light. This is clearly shown, 
not merely by the action taken by the Queen, but by the anxiety exhibited by 
Shakespeare, in the Epilogue to the second part, to place the matter beyond all 
doubt, by the explicit declaration that there was in Falstaff no kind of association, 
satirical or otherwise, with the martyr Oldcastle. 2 

The language of the Epilogue is: 

One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, 
our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you 
merry with fair Katharine of France, where, for anything I know, Falstaff shall 
die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle 
died a martyr, and this is not the man. 

And yet, there seems to have been a purpose, despite this 
retraction, to affix the stigma of Falstaff's disreputable career to 
the ancestor of the Cobham family; for in the first part of Henry 
IV. we find this expression: 

Falstaff. Thou say'st true, lad. And is not my hostess of the tavern a most 
sweet wench? 

Prince Henry. As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the Castle. 3 

Says Knight, as a foot-note upon this sentence: 

The passage in the text has given rise to the notion that Sir John Oldcastle 
was pointed at in the character of Falstaff. 

1 Letters and Life, vol. ii, p. 48. 2 Outlines Life 0/ Shak., p. 98. 3 Act ii, scene 2. 


18 5 

Oldvs remarks: 

Upon whom does the horsing of a dead corpse on Falstaff's back reflect? 
Whose honor suffers, in his being forced, by the unexpected surprise of his armed 
plunderers, to surrender his treasure? Whose policy is impeached by his creeping 
into a bucking basket to avoid the storms of a jealous husband? 

Fuller says, in his Church History: 

Stage-poets have themselves been very bold with, and others very merry at, 
the memory of Sir John Oldcastle, whom they have fancied a boon companion, 
a jovial royster, and a coward to boot. The best is, Sir John Falstaff hath 
relieved the memory of Sir John Oldcastle, and of late is substituted buffoon 
in his place. 

It seems to me, there can be no doubt that the author of the 
Plays disliked the Cobham family, and sought to degrade them, by- 
bringing their ancestor on the stage, in the guise of a disreputable, 
thieving, cowardly old rascal, who is thumped, beaten and cast 
into the Thames "like a litter of blind puppies." And even when 
compelled by the Queen to change the name of the character, the 
writer of the Plays puts into the mouth of Prince Hal the expres- 
sion, "My old lad of the castle," to intimate to the multitude that 
Falstaff was still, despite his change of name, Sir John Oldcastle, 
the ancestor of the enemy of Bacon's great friend and patron, the 
Earl of Essex. 

VIII. The Writer of the Plays was Hostile to Queen 


Let us turn to another point. 

We have seen that the writer of the Plays was, by his family 
traditions and alliances, and his political surroundings, a Protest- 
ant. Being such, it would follow that he would be an admirer 
of Elizabeth, the representative and bulwark of Protestantism in 
England and on the continent. But we find that, for some 
reason, this Protestant did not love Elizabeth; and although he 
sugars her over with compliments in Henry VIII., just as Bacon 
did in his letters, and probably in his sonnets, yet there was 
beneath this fair show of flattery a purpose to deal her most 
deadly blows. 

If the divorce of Henry VIII. was based on vicious and adulter- 
ous motives, the marriage of the King with Anne Boleyn was dis- 
creditable, to say the least. And remembering this we find that 


the play represents Anne as a frivolous person to whom the King 

was drawn by his passions. 

We read: 

Suffolk. How is the King employed ? 

Chamberlain. I left him private, 

Full of sad thoughts and troubles. 

Norfolk. What's the cause ? 

Chamberlain. It seems, the marriage with his brother's wife 

Has crept too near his conscience. 

Suffolk. No, his conscience 

Has crept too near another lady. 

Norfolk. Tis so; 

This is the Cardinal's doing. 1 

Birch says: 

The scene between the Old Lady and Anne Boleyn seems introduced to make 
people laugh at the hypocrisy and Protestant conscience of Anne, mixed up with 
the indecency abjured in the prologue. 2 

The Old Lady says: 

And so would you 
For all this spice of your hypocrisy: 
You that have so fair parts of woman on you, 
Have too a woman's heart; which ever yet 
Affected eminence, wealth, sovereignty; 
Which, to say sooth, are blessings; and which gifts, 
(Saving your mincing), the capacity 
Of your soft cheveril conscience would receive 
If you might please to stretch it. 3 

Knight argues that the play could not have been produced dur- 
ing the reign of Elizabeth. He says: 

The memory of Henry VIII., perhaps, was not cherished by her with any deep 
affection; but would she, who in her dying hour is reported to have said, "My 
seat has been the seat of kings," allow the frailties, and even the peculiarities of her 
father, to be made a public spectacle? Would she have borne that his passion for 
her mother should have been put forward in the strongest way by the poet — that 
is, in the sequence of the dramatic action — as the impelling motive for the divorce 
from Katharine? Would she have endured that her father . . . should be repre- 
sented in the depth of his hypocrisy gloating over his projected divorce with — 

But conscience, conscience, — 
Oh! 'tis a tender place, and I must leave her? 

Would she have been pleased with the jests of the Old Lady to Anne, upon her 
approaching elevation — her title — her "thousand pound a year" — and all to be 
instantly succeeded by the trial-scene — that magnificent exhibition of the purity, 
the constancy, the fortitude, the grandeur of soul, the self-possession of the "most 
poor woman and a stranger" that her mother had supplanted ? 

' Act ii, scene 2. 3 Philosophy and Religion 0/ Shah., p. 346. * Henry I 7/7., ii, 3. 



Nothing could be grander than the light in which Katharine is 
set. Henry himself says: 

Thou art, alone, 
(If thy rare qualities, sweet gentleness, 
Thy meekness saint-like, wife-like government — 
Obeying in commanding — and thy parts 
Sovereign and pious else, could speak thee out), 
The queen of earthly queens. 1 

Anne is made to say of her: 

Here's the pang that pinches. 
His highness having lived so long with her; and she 
So good a lady, that no tongue could ever 
Pronounce dishonor of her — by my life 
She never knew harm-doing . . . after this process 
To give her the avaunt ! it is a pity 
Would move a monster? 

And then we have that scene, declared by Dr. Johnson to 
be the grandest Shakespeare ever wrote, in which angels come 
upon the stage, and, in the midst of heavenly music, crown 
Katharine with a garland of saintship, the angelic visitors bow- 
ing to her: 

Katharine. Saw you not, even now, a blessed troupe 

Invite me to a banquet, whose bright faces 

Cast thousand beams upon me like the sun ? 

They promised me eternal happiness, 

And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel 

I am not worthy yet to wear; I shall 

Assuredly. 3 

In the epilogue Shakespeare says: 

I fear 
All the expected good we're like to hear 
For this play at this time, is only in 
The merciful construction of good women, 
For such a one we showed them. 

Upon this Birch says: 

This was honest in Shakespeare. He did not put the success of the play upon 
the flattery of the great or of Protestant prejudices, but upon the exhibition of one 
good woman, of the opposite party, a Roman Catholic, a Spaniard, and the 
mother of bloody Mary. 

In fact, Shakespeare, strange to say, introduces into the play 

high praise of this same " bloody Mary," long after she was dead 

and her sect powerless. He puts it in the mouth of Queen Kath- 

1 Henry VIII.. ii, 4. 2 Ibid., ii, 3. :I Act iv, scene 2. 


arine, who, telling Capucius the contents of her last letter to the 

King, says: 

In which I have commended to his goodness 

The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter: 

The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her ! 

Beseeching him to give her virtuous breeding; 

(She is young and of a noble, modest nature; 

I hope she will deserve well); and a little 

To love her for her mother's sake, that loved him 

Heaven knows how dearly. 

The words of praise of Mary are not found in the letter which 
Katharine actually sent to the King: they are an interpolation of the 
poet ! 

If Henry put away his true wife, not for any real scruples of 
conscience, but simply from an unbridled, lustful desire to possess 
the young and beautiful but frivolous Anne; and if to reach this end 
he overrode the limitations of the church to which he belonged, 
then, indeed, Elizabeth was little more than the bastard which her 
enemies gave her out. A play written to make a saint of Katharine, 
and a sensual brute of Henry, could certainly bring only shame 
and disgrace to Anne and her daughter. 

What motive could the man of Stratford have to thus contrive 
debasement for Elizabeth's memory? Why should he follow her 
beyond the grave for revenge ? What wrongs had she inflicted on 
him? He came to London a poor outcast; during her reign he 
had risen to wealth and respectability. If tradition is to be 
believed, she had noticed and honored him. What grievance 
could he carry away with him to Stratford ? Why should it be 
noticed by contemporaries that when Elizabeth died the muse of 
Shakespeare breathed not one mournful note of divine praise over 
her tomb ? Chettle, in his England's Mourning Garment, thus re- 
proaches Shakespeare that his verse had not bewailed his own and 
England's loss: 

Nor doth the silver-tongued Melicert 

Drop from his honied muse one sable tear, 

To mourn her death that graced his desert, 

And to his lines opened her royal eare. 

Shepherd, remember our Elizabeth, 

And sing her rape, done by the Tarquin, Death. 

But as soon as the Tarquin Death had taken Elizabeth, Shake- 
speare proceeded to show that she was conceived in lust and born 



in injustice; that her father was a powerful and hypocritical brute; 
her mother an ambitious worldling; and that the woman she had 
supplanted was a saint, who passed, upon the wings of cherishing 
angels, directly to the portals of eternal bliss. 

And it will be noted that, although Bacon wrote an essay called 
The Felicities of Queen Elizabeth, it was rather, as its name implies, 
a description of the happy circumstances that conjoined to make 
her reign great and prosperous, than a eulogy of her character as 
admirable or beautiful. He mentions the fact that she 

Was very willing to be courted, wooed and to have sonnets made in her com- 
mendation, and that she continued this longer than was decent for her years. 

And he says, in anticipation of such a criticism as I make: 

Now, if any man shall allege that against me, which was once said to Caesar,, 
"we see what we may admire, but we would fain see what we could commend;" 
certainly, for my part, I hold true admiration to be the highest degree of com- 

But he did not commend her. 

And if we turn to the career of Bacon, we shall find that he had 
ample cause to hate Elizabeth. 
Macaulay says: 

To her it was owing that, while younger men, not superior to him in extrac- 
tion, and far inferior to him in every kind of personal merit, were filling the high- 
est offices of the state, adding manor to manor, rearing palace after palace, he was 
lying at a sponging-house for a debt of three hundred pounds ' 

So long as Elizabeth lived, Bacon was systematically repressed 
and kept in the most pitiful poverty. The base old woman, know- 
ing his condition, would see him embarrass himself still further 
with costly gifts, given her on her birthdays, and rewarded him 
with empty honors that could not keep bread in his mouth, or the 
constable from his door. Beneath the poor man's placid exterior 
of philosophical self-control, there was a very volcano of wrath and 
hate ready to burst forth. 

Dean Church says: 

But she still refused him promotion. He was without an official position in 
the Queen's service, and he never was allowed to have it. 2 

And again: 

Burleigh had been strangely niggardly in what he did to help his brilliant 
nephew But it is plain that he [his son] early made up his mind to keep 

1 Macaulay 1 s Essays, Bacon, p. 254. 2 Bacon, p. 52. 


Bacon in the background. . . . Nothing can account for Bacon's strange 
failure for so long a time to reach his due place in the public service, but the secret 
hostility, whatever may be the cause, of Cecil. 1 

This adverse influence kept Bacon in poverty and out of place 
as long as Cecil lived, which was for some years after the death of 
Elizabeth. Bacon writes to the King upon Cecil's death a letter, 
of which Dean Church says: 

Bacon was in a bitter mood, and the letter reveals, for the first time, what was 
really in Bacon's heart about "the great subject and great servant," of whom he 
had just written so respectfully, and with whom he had been so closely connected 
for most of his life. The fierceness which had been gathering for years of neglect 
and hindrance, under that placid and patient exterior, broke out. 2 

How savagely does Bacon's pent-up wrath burst from him when 
writing to King James about his cousin's death: 

I protest to God, though I be not superstitious, when I saw your Majesty's 
book against Vorstius and Arminius, and noted your zeal to deliver the majesty of 
God from the vain and indign comprehensions of heresy and degenerate philos- 
ophy, as you had by your pen formerly endeavored to deliver kings from the 
usurpations of Rome, perculsit illico anitnum that God would set shortly upon you 
some visible favor, and let me not live if I thought not of the taking away of that 
man. z 

The Cecils ruled Elizabeth, and we may judge from this 

passionate outburst how deeply and bitterly, for many years, 

Bacon hated the Virgin Queen and her advisers; how much more 

bitterly and deeply because his wretched poverty had constrained 

him to cringe and fawn upon the objects of his contempt 

and wrath. He expressed his own inmost feelings when he put 

into the mouth of Hamlet as the strongest of provocations to 


The law's delay, 
The insolence of office, and the spurns 

That patient merit of the unworthy takes. 

How bitterly does he break forth in Lear : 

Behold the great image of authority ! A dogs obeyed in office ! 

And again, in Measure for Measure .« 

Man, proud man, 
Drest in a little brief authority, 

. . . Like an angry ape, 
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, 
As make the angels weep. 

1 Ibid., p. 59. 2 Ibid., p. 90. » Letter to the King, 1612. 





And we seem to hear the cry of his own long disappointed heart 

in the words of Wolsey: 

O, how wretched 
Is that poor man, that hangs on princes' favors! 
There is, between that smile he would aspire to, 
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, 
More pangs and fears than wars or women have. 

And Hamlet, his alter ego, expresses the self-loathing with which 
he contemplated the abasements of genius to power: 

No; let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp, 
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee, 
Where thrift may follow fawning. 

These words never came from the smooth surface of a prosper- 
ous life: they were the bitter outgrowth of a turbulent and suffering 
heart. When you would find words that sting like adders — exple- 
tives of immortal wrath and hate — you must seek them in the 
depths of an outraged soul. 

What was there in the life of the Stratford man to justify such 
expressions ? He had his bogus coat-of-arms to make him respect- 
able; he owned the great house of Stratford, and could brew beer 
in it, and sue his neighbors, to his heart's content. He fled away 
from the ambitions of the court to the odorous muck-heaps and 
the pyramidal dung-hills of Stratford; and if any grief settled upon 
his soul he could (as tradition tells us) get drunk for three days at 
a time to assuage it. 

IX. Richard III. Represented Robert Cecil. 

There is another very significant fact. 

The arch-enemy of Bacon and of Essex was Sir Robert Cecil, 
Bacon's first cousin, the child of his mother's sister. He was the 
chief means of eventually bringing Essex' head to the block. We 
have just seen how intensely Bacon hated him, and with what good 

He was a man of extraordinary mental power, derived, in part, 
from the same stock (the stock of Sir Anthony Cook, tutor to King 
Edward IV.) from which Bacon had inherited much of his ability. 
But, in his case, the blood of Sir Anthony had been crossed by the 
shrewd, cunning, foxy, cold-blooded, selfish, persistent stock of his 
father, Sir William Burleigh, Elizabeth's Lord Treasurer; and 


hence, instead of a great poet and philosopher, as in Bacon's case, 
the outcome was a statesman and courtier of extraordinary keen- 
ness and ability, and a very sleuth-hound of dissembling persist- 
ency and cunning. 

He had the upper hand of Bacon, and he kept it. He sat on his 
neck as long as he lived. Even after the death of Elizabeth and 
the coming-in of the new King, he held that mighty genius in the 
mire. He seemed to have possessed some secret concerning Bacon, 
discreditable to him, which he imparted to King James, and this 
hindered his advancement after the death of the Queen, notwith- 
standing the fact that Bacon had belonged to the faction which, 
prior to Elizabeth's death, was in favor of James as her successor. 
This is intimated by Dean Church; he says: 

Cecil had, indeed, but little claim on Bacon's gratitude; he had spoken him fair 
in public, and no doubt in secret distrusted and thwarted him. But to the last Bacon 
did not choose to acknowledge this. Had James disclosed something of his dead servant 
[Cecil], who left some strange secrets behind him, which showed his hostility to Bacon ? l 

Was it for this that Bacon rejoiced over his death? Was the 
secret an intimation to King James that Bacon was the real author 
of the Plays that went about in the name of Shakespeare ? What- 
ever it was, there was something potent enough to suppress Bacon 
and hold him down, even for some time after Cecil's death. 

Dean Church says: 

He was still kept out of the inner circle of the council, but from the moment 
of Salisbury's [Cecil's] death, he became a much more important person. He still 
sued for advancement, and still met with disappointment; the "mean men" still 
rose above him. . . . But Bacon's hand and counsel appear more and more in 
important matters. 2 

Now it is known that Cecil was a man of infirm health, and 
that he was a hump-back. 

We turn to the Shakespeare Plays, and we ask: What is the 
most awful character, the most absolutely repulsive and detestable 
character, the character without a single redeeming, or beautify- 
ing, or humanizing trait, in all the range of the Plays ? And the 
answer is: The crook-backed monster, Richard III. 

Richard III. was a satire on Bacon s cousin^ Robert Cecil. 

To make the character more dreadful, the poet has drawn it in 
colors even darker than historical truth would justify. 

1 Bacon, p. 02. 2 Ibid., p. 93. 


Like Cecil, Richard is able, shrewd, masterful, unscrupulous, 
ambitious; determined, rightly or wrongly, to rule the kingdom. 
Like Cecil, he can crawl and cringe and dissemble, when it is neces- 
sary, and rule with a rod of iron when he possesses the power. 

Here we have a portrait of Cecil. 

Sir Robert Cecil. 

Was the expression of that face in Bacon's mind when he wrote 
those lines, which I have just quoted ? 

Man, proud man, 
I) rest in a little brief authority, 

. . . like an angry ape. 
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven 
As makes the angels weep. 

The expression of Cecil's countenance is, to my mind, actually 

The man who has about him any personal deformity never ceases 
to be conscious of it. Byron could not forget his club-foot. What a 
terrible revenge it was when Bacon, under the disguise of the irre- 
sponsible play-actor, Shakspere, set on the boards of the Curtain The- 
ater the all-powerful courtier and minister, Sir Robert Cecil, in the 
character of that other hump-back, the bloody and loathsome Duke 
of Gloster? How the adherents of Essex must have whispered it 
among the multitude, as the crippled Duke, with his hump upon his 

1 94 


shoulder, came upon the stage — "That's Cecil!" And how they 
must have applied Richard's words of self-description to another? 

I that am curtailed of this fair proportion. 

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature. 

Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time 

Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, 

And that so lamely and unfashionable 

That dogs bark at me as I halt by them — 

Why I, in this weak piping time of peace, 

Have no delight to pass away the time, 

Unless to spy my shadow in the sun, 

And descant on mine own deformity. 

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover 

To entertain these fair, well-spoken days, 

I am determined to prove a villain, 

And hate the idle pleasures of these days. 

And these last lines express the very thought with which Bacon 
opens his essay On Deformity. 

Deformed persons are commonly even with nature; for as nature hath done ill 
by them, so do they by nature, being for the most part (as the Scripture saith) " void 
of natural affection; " and so they*have their revenge of nature. 

And we seem to see the finger of Bacon pointing toward his 
cousin, in these words: 

Whoever hath any thing fixed in his person that doth induce contempt, hath 
also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn; therefore 
all deformed persons are extreme bold, first, as in their own defense, as being 
exposed to scorn, but in process of time by a general habit. Also it stirreth in 
them industry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the weaknesses of 
others, that they may have somewhat to repay. Again, in their superiors it 
quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons that they think they may at pleasure 
despise; and it layeth their competitors and emulators asleep, as never believing 
they should be in possibility of advancement till they see them in possession, so 
that upon the matter, in a great wit, deformity is an advantage to rising, 

Speaking of the death of Cecil, Hepworth Dixon says: 

And when Cecil passes to his rest, a new edition of the Essays, under cover of 
a treatise on Deformity, paints in true and bold lines, but without one harsh touch, 
the genius of the man. . . . Every one knows the portrait; yet no one can pro- 
nounce this picture of a small, shrewd man of the world, a clerk in soul, without 
a spark of fire, a dart of generosity in his nature, unfair or even unkind, 1 

One can conceive how bitterly the dissembling, self-controlled 
Cecil must have writhed under the knowledge that the Essex party, 
in the Essex theater, occupied by the Essex company of actors, and 
filled daily with the adherents of Essex, had placed him on the 

1 Personal History of Lord Baron, pp. 193, 204. 



boards, with all his deformity upon his back, and made him the object 
of the ribald laughter of the swarming multitude, "the scum" of 
London. As we will find hereafter Queen Elizabeth saying, " Know 
ye not I am Richard the Second?" so we may conceive Cecil say- 
ing to the Queen: "Know ye not that I am Richard the Third?" 

And if he knew, or shrewdly suspected, that his cousin, Francis 
Bacon, was the real author of the Plays, and the man who had so 
terribly mocked his physical defects, we can understand why he 
used all his powers, as long as he lived, to hold him down; and, as 
Church suspects, even blackened him in the King's esteem, so that his 
revenge might transcend the limits of his own frail life. And we can 
understand the exultation of Bacon when, at last, death loosened 
from his throat the fangs of his powerful and unforgiving adversary. 

In conclusion and recapitulation I would say that I find the 
political identities between Bacon and the writer of the Plays to be 
as follows: 

Both were aristocrats. 

Both despised the mob. 

Both contemned tradesmen. 

Both loved liberty. 

Both loved feudalism. 

Both pitied the miseries of the people. 

Both desired the welfare of the people. 

Both foresaw and dreaded an uprising of the lower classes. 

Both belonged to the military party. 

Both hated Lord Cobham. 

Both were adherents of Essex. 

Both tried to popularize Essex. 

Both were friends of Southampton. 

Both hated Coke. 

Both, although Protestant, had some strong antipathy against 
Queen Elizabeth. 

Both refused to eulogize her character after death. 

Both, though aristocratic, were out of power and bitter against 
those in authority. 

Both hated Robert Cecil. 

Surely, surely, we are getting the two heads under one hat — 
and that the hat of the great philosopher of Verulam. 



I sometimes do believe, and sometimes do not. 

A s You Like It, v, 4, 

THE religious world of Elizabeth was divided into two great 
and antagonistic sects: Catholics and Protestants; and the 
latter were, in turn, separated into the followers of the state relig- 
ion and various forms of dissent. 

Religion in that day was an earnest, palpable reality: society 
was set against itself in hostile classes; politics, place, government, 
legislation — all hinged upon religion. In this age of doubt and 
indifference, we can hardly realize the feelings of a people to whom: 
the next world was as real as this world, and who were ready to die 
agonizing deaths, in the flames of Smithfield, for their convictions 
upon questions of theology. 

We are told that William Shakspere of Stratford died a Catholic. 
We have this upon the authority of Rev. Mr. Davies, who says, writ- 
ing after 1688, " he died a Papist." Upon the question of the politics 
of a great man, the leader of either one of the political parties of his 
neighborhood is likely to be well informed; it is in the line of his 
interests and thoughts. Upon the question of the religion of the one 
great man of Stratford, we may trust the testimony of the clergyman 
of the parish. He could hardly be mistaken. There Can be little 
doubt that William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon died a Catholic. 

But of what religion was the man who wrote the Plays ? 

This question has provoked very considerable discussion. He 
has been claimed alike by Protestants and Catholics. 

To my mind it is very clear that the writer of the Plays was a 

Protestant. And this is the view of Dowden. He says: 

Shakespeare has been proved to belong to each communion to the satisfaction of 
contending theological zealots. . . . But, tolerant as his spirit is, it is certain that 
the spirit of Protestantism animates and breathes through his writings. 1 

What are the proofs ? 

1 Dowden, Shah. Mind and Art, p. 33. 



I. He is Opposed to the Papal Supremacy. 

The play of King John turns largely upon the question of patri- 
otic resistance to the temporal power of the Pope; and this is not 
a necessary incident of the events of the time, for the poet, to point 
his moral, antedates the great quarrel between John and the Pope 
by six years. 

He represents King John, upon Ascension Day, yielding up his 

crown to Pandulph, the Pope's legate, and receiving it back, with 

these words: 

Take again 
From this, my hand, as holding of the Pope, 
Your sovereign greatness and authority. 1 

In scene 3 of act iii, he makes Pandulph demand of the King 
why he keeps Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, out of 
his see; and King John replies: 

What earthly name to interrogatories 

Can task the free breath of a sacred king? 

Thou canst not, Cardinal, devise a name 

So slight, unworthy and ridiculous, 

To charge me to an answer, as the Pope. 

Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England 

Add this much more: That no Italian priest 

Shall tithe or toll in our dominions; 

But as we under heaven are supreme head, 

So under him, that great supremacy, 

Where we do reign, we will alone uphold, 

Without the assistance of a mortal hand: 

So tell the Pope; all reverence set apart, 

To him and his usurped authority. 

King Philip. Brother of England, you blaspheme in this. 

King John. Though you, and all the kings of Christendom, 

Are led so grossly by this meddling priest, 

Dreading the curse that money may buy out; 

And, by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust, 

Purchase corrupted pardon of a man, 

Who, in that sale,' sells pardon from himself; 

Though you, and all the rest, so grossly led, 

This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish; 

Yet I, alone, alone do me oppose, 

Against the Pope, and count his friends my foes. 

It is scarcely to be believed that a Catholic could have written 

-these lines. 


1 King John, v, i. 


And it must be remembered that King John is depicted in the 
play as a most despicable creature; and his eventual submission of 
the liberties of the crown and the country, to the domination of a 
foreign power, is represented as one of the chief ingredients in 
making up his shameful character. 

It is needless to say that Bacon had very strong views upon this 

question of the Pope's sovereignty over England. He says in the 

Charge against Talbot : 

Nay all princes of both religions, for it is a common cause, do stand, at this 
day [in peril], by the spreading and enforcing of this furious and pernicious opinion 
of the Pope's temporal power. 

II. He Honored and Respected Cranmer. 

But it is in the play of Henry VIII. that the religious leanings 
of the writer are most clearly manifested. 

It is to be remembered that it was in this reign that Protestant- 
ism was established in England, and the man who above all others 
was instrumental in bringing about the great change was Thomas 
Cranmer, the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury. He, 
above all other men, was hated by the Catholics. He it was who 
had sanctioned the divorce of Henry from Katharine; he it was who 
had delivered the crown to Anne upon the coronation; he had sup- 
ported the suppression of the monasteries; he had persecuted the 
Catholic prelates and people, sending numbers to the stake; and 
when the Catholics returned to power, under Mary, one of the first 
acts of the government was to burn him alive opposite Baliol Col- 
lege. It is impossible that a Catholic writer of the next reign could 
have gone out of his way to defend and praise Cranmer, to repre- 
sent him as a good and holy man, and even as an inspired prophet. 
And yet all this we find in the play of Henry VIII. ; the play is, in 
fact, in large part, an apotheosis of Cranmer. 

In act fifth we find the King sending for him. He assures hin. 

that he is his friend, but that grave charges have been made against 

him, and that he must go before the council for trial, and he gives 

him his ring, to be used in an appeal, in case the council find him 

guilty. The King says: 

Look, the good man weeps ! 
He's honest on mine honor. God's blest mother! 
I swear he is true-hearted; and a soul 
None better in my kingdom. 


The council proceed to place Cranmer under arrest, with intent 
to send him to the Tower, when he exhibits the King's ring and 
makes his appeal. The King enters frowning, rebukes the perse- 
cutors of Cranmer, and says to him: 

Good man, sit down. Now let me see the proudest, 

He that dares most, but wag his finger at thee. . . . 

Was it discretion, lords, to let this man, 

This good man (few of you deserve that title), 

This honest man, wait like a lousy foot-boy 

At chamber-door? . . . 

Well, well, my lords, respect him. 

Take him and use him well, he's worthy of it. 

I will say thus much for him, if a prince 

May be beholden to a subject, I 

Am, for his love and service, so to him. 

All this has no necessary coherence with the plot of the play, 
but is dragged in to the filling up of two scenes. 

And, in the last scene of the play, Cranmer baptizes the Princess 

Elizabeth, and is inspired by Heaven to prophesy: 

Let me speak, sir, 
For Heaven now bids me. 

And he proceeds to foretell her future long life and greatness. 

He says: 

In her days, every man shall eat in safety, 
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing 
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbors; 
God shall be truly known. 

It is not conceivable that one who was a Catholic, who regarded 
with disapproval the establishment of the new religion, and who 
looked upon Cranmer as an arch-heretic, worthy of the stake and 
of hell, could have written such scenes, when there was nothing in 
the plot of the play itself which required it. 

The passages in the play which relate to Cranmer are drawn 

from Fox's Book of Martyrs, and the prose version is followed 

almost literally in the drama; but, strange to say, there is in the 

historical work no place wherein the King speaks of Cranmer as a 

"good " man. All this is interpolated by the dramatist. We have in 

the play: 

Good man, sit down. 

This good man. 

This honest man. 

Good man, those joyful tears show thy true heart. Etc. 


There is not in Fox's narrative one word of indorsement, by 
the King, of Cranmer's goodness or honesty. 

A Catholic writing a play based on Protestant histories might 
have followed the text, even against his own prejudices, but it is 
not to be believed that he would alter the text, and inject words of 
compliment of a man who held the relations to the Catholics of 
England that Cranmer did. 

We cannot help but believe that the man who did this was a 
Protestant, educated to believe that the Reformation was right 
and necessary, and that Cranmer was a good and holy man, the 
inspired instrument of Heaven in a great work. 

The family of Bacon was Protestant. They rose out of the 
ranks, on the wave of the Reformation. His father was an officer 
of Henry VIII.; his grandfather was tutor to the Protestant King 
Edward. During the reign of Mary, the Bacons lived in retire- 
ment; they conformed to the Catholic Church and heard mass 
daily; but, upon the coming in of Elizabeth, they emerged from 
their hiding-place, and Bacon's father and uncle, Burleigh, were at 
the head of the Protestant party of England during the rest of 
their lives. All the traditions of the family clustered around the 
Reformation. They faithfully believed that "God was truly 
known " in the religion of Elizabeth, and they were as violently 
opposed to the Papal supremacy as King John or the Bastard. 

It is a curious fact that Bacon alludes, in his prose works, to 
the reign of Elizabeth, in words very similar to those placed in the 
mouth of Cranmer. He says: 

This part of the island never had forty-five years of better times. . . . For if 
there be considered of the one side the truth of religion established, the constant 
peace and security, the good administration of justice, etc. 1 

III. The Writer of the Plays was Tolerant of Catholicity. 

But how does it come to pass that in the face of such evidence 
it has been claimed that the writer of the Plays was a Catholic ? 

Because, in an age of violent religious hatreds, when the Cath- 
olics were helpless, suspected and persecuted, the author of the 
Plays never uttered a word, however pleasing it might be to the 
court and the time-serving multitude, to fan the flame of animosity 

1 Advancement of ' J, earning, book i. 


against the Catholics. On the other hand, whenever a Catholic 
priest is introduced on the scene, he is represented as honest, 
benevolent and venerable. 

"His friars," says one of his commentators, "are all wise, holy 
and in every respect estimable men. Instance Friar Lawrence, in 
Romeo and Juliet, and the friar in Much Ado About Nothing." 

When we turn to the writings of Bacon, we find the same 
broad spirit of religious liberality, as contradistinguished from the 
bigotry of the age. 

Bacon's mind was too great to be illiberal. Bigotry is a burst 
of strong light, through the crevice of a narrow mind, lighting only 
<me face of its object and throwing all the rest into hideous and 
grotesque shadows. Bacon's mind, like the sun in the tropics, 
illuminated all sides of the object upon which it shone, with a 
comprehensive and vivifying light. 

Macaulay says of him: 

In what he wrote on church government, he showed, as far as he dared, a tol- 
erant and charitable spirit. . . . He was in power at the time of the Synod of 
Dort, and must for months have been deafened with talk about election, reproba- 
tion and final perseverance. Yet we do not remember a line in his works from 
which it can be inferred that he was either a Calvinist or an Armenian. 1 

Speaking of Shakespeare, White says: 

Nowhere does he show leaning toward any form of church government, or 
toward any theological tenet or dogma. No church can claim him. 2 

Bacon looked with pity upon the differences that distracted the 

religious world of his time. He says, speaking of a conspiracy 

against the crown, organized by Catholics: 

Thirdly, the great calamity it bringeth upon Papists themselves, of which the 
more moderate sort, as men misled, are to be pitied. 

Again he says: 

A man that is of judgment and understanding shall sometimes hear ignorant 
men differ, and know well within himself that those which so differ mean one 
thing, and yet they themselves would never agree. And if it came to pass in that 
distance of judgment which is between man and man, shall we not think that 
God above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that frail men, in some of their 
contradictions, intend the same thing, and accepteth of both. 3 

He turned with abhorrence from the burnings of men for con- 
science' sake. He said: 

1 Essays, Bacon, p. 280. 2 Life and Genius 0/ S/tak., p. 188. 3 Essay Of Unity in Religion. 


We may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's sword, or like unto 
it, that is, to propagate religion by wars, or by sanguinary persecutions to force con- 
sciences: . . . much less to authorize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword 
into the people's hands, and the like, tending to the subversion of all government. 1 

And we find the same sentiment in Shakespeare: 

It is an heretic that makes the fire, 
Not she which burns in it. 2 

IV. The Writer of the Plays Disliked the Puritans. 

In both writers we find a profound dislike of the Puritans. 

"Shakespeare," says one of his commentators, " never omits an 
opportunity of ridiculing the Puritan sect." 

He says: 

There is but one Puritan among them, and he sings songs to hornpipe :; 

Sir Andrew Aguecheek says: 

I would as lief be a Brownist as a politician. 4 

And again: 

Though honesty be no Puritan, yet it will do no hurt.'' 

The mocking Falstaff tells the Chief Justice that he lost his 
voice " singing of anthems." 

Says one commentator: 

In the introduction of Sir Oliver Mar-text our poet indulges in a sly hit against 
the Puritan and itinerant ministers, whom he appears to have regarded with 

The play of Measure for Measure is an attempt to burlesque the 
virtue-loving principles of the Puritans; and in the cross-gartered 
Malvolio of Twelfth Night we have the 

Sharp, cross-gartered man, 
Whom their loud laugh may nickname Puritan. 

And the immortal question, 

Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes 
and ale? 

is universally accepted as a sneer at the asceticism of that grave 

Wherever Shakespeare introduces a Dissenting preacher he 
makes him an ignoramus or a mountebank. 

i Essay Of Unity in Religion. ■ Ibid., iv, i. 6 All's Well thai Ends Well, i, 3- 

3 Winter's Tale, ii, 3. 4 Twelfth Night, iii, 2. 


Similar views we find in Bacon. He says: 

For as the temporal sword is to be drawn with great circumspection in cases of 
religion, so it is a thing monstrous to put it into the hands of the common people; 
let that be left unto the Anabaptists and other furies} 

In another place he says: 

Besides the Roman Catholics, there is a generation of sectaries, the Anabap- 
tists, Brownists and others of their kinds; they have been several times very busy 
in this kingdom under the color of zeal for reformation of religion; the King your 
master knows their disposition very well; a small touch will put him in mind of 
them; he had experience of them in Scotland. I hope he will beware of them in 
England; a little countenance or connivancy sets them on fire.' 2 

And, like Shakespeare, he ridicules the manners of the Puritans. 
He says: 

There is a master of scoffing that in his catalogue of books of a feigned library sets 
down this title of a book, The Morris-Dance of the Heretics; for, indeed, every sect 
of them hath a diverse posture, or cringe, by themselves, which cannot but move 
derision in worldlings and depraved politics, who are apt to contemn holy things. :i 

Bacon looked with the profoundest apprehension upon the 
growing numbers and power of that grave, sour, serious sect, 
with its strong anti-royal tendencies and its anti-social feelings. 
" They love no plays, as you do, Anthony." They threatened, in 
his view, by their malignant intolerance, the very existence of 
civilization. He says: 

Nor am I discouraged from it because I see signs in the times of the decline 
and overthrow of that knowledge and erudition which is now in use. . . . But the 
civil wars which may be expected, I think (judging from certain fashions which 
have come in of late), to spread through many countries, together with the malig- 
nity of sects, . . . seem to portend for literature and the sciences a tempest not less 
fatal, and one against which the printing-office will be no effectual security. 4 

He clearly foresaw the coming revolution which broke out, not 
long after his death, under the lead of Cromwell. He wrote the 
King, when he had been overthrown by the agitations in Parlia- 
ment, that — 

Those who strike at your Chancellor will yet strike at your crown. ... I wish 
that, as I am the first, so I may be the last of sacrifices in your times. 

Wise as he was, he could not see beyond the tempest which he 
felt was coming, but he feared that the literature of England would 
perish in the storm; and he was of course unable to do justice to 

1 Essay Of Unity in Religion. 3 Essay Of I T nity in Religion. 

2 Advice to George Villiers. 4 Preface to Interpretation of X at are. 


the real merits of the sect to whom England owes so much of Par- 
liamentary liberty and moral greatness. 

His premonitions of the immediate effects of the religious revo- 
lution were well founded. Birch says: 

The Bacons and the Shakespeares, the philosophers and scoffers, as well as the 
Papists, were extinguished by the Puritans. The theater gave way to the pulpit, 
the actor and dramatist to the preacher. The philosophical and political school of 
infidelity had no chance against the fanaticism of Cromwell, at the head of the 
religious spirit of the age. 1 

V. The Writer of the Plays a Free-Thinker. 

But there was a deeper reason for the indifference of the real 
author of the Plays to the passions and quarrels of Catholics and 
Protestants. It was this: he did not believe in the doctrines of the 
Christian religion. This fact has not escaped the notice of com 

Swinburne says: 

That Shakespeare was in the genuine sense — that is, in the best and highest 
and widest meaning of the term — a free-thinker, this otherwise practically and 
avowedly superfluous effusion of all inmost thought appears to me to supply full 
and sufficient evidence for the conviction of every candid and rational man. 2 

Dow T den says: 

Thus all through the play he wanders between materialism and spiritualism, 
between belief in immortality and disbelief, between reliance upon Providence and 
a bowing under fate. In presence of the ghost, a sense of his own spiritual exist- 
ence and the immortal life of the soul grows strong within him. In presence of a 
spirit he is himself a spirit: 

I do not set my life at a pin's fee; 

And for my soul, what can it do to that, 

Being a thing immortal as itself? 

When left to his private thoughts, he wavers uncertainly to and fro; death is a 
sleep — a sleep, it may be, troubled with dreams. In the graveyard, in the presence 
of human dust, the base affinities of our bodily nature prove irresistibly attractive 
to the curiosity of Hamlet's imagination; and he cannot choose but pursue the his- 
tory of human dust through all its series of hideous metamorphoses. 3 

West says: 

Though there is no reason to think that there was any paganism in Shake- 
speare's creed, yet we cannot help feeling that the spirit of his art is in many 
respects pagan. In his great tragedies he traces the workings of noble or lovely 
human characters on to the point — and no farther — where they disappear into the 
darkness of death, and ends with a look back, never on toward anything beyond. 4 

1 Philosophy and Religion oj Shah., p. 9. * E, B. West, Browning as a Preacher, Dark 

8 A Study of Shah., p. 165. Blue Magazine, Oct. and Nov., 1871. 

3 Shah. Mind and Art, p. 118. 



He seems to have been a fatalist. Take these passages as 


But, O vain boast ' 
Who can control his fate? 1 

Our wills and fates do so contrary run. 

That our devices still are overthrown; 

Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own. 2 

Whom destiny 
That hath to instrument this lower world 
And what is in it. 3 

All unavoided is the doom of destiny. 4 

'Tis destiny unshunnable, like death. 5 

But apart from this predestinarian bent there does not seem to 
be in the Plays any theological preference or purpose. All the 
plays which preceded the Shakespearean era were of a religious 
character — they were miracle plays, or moralities, in which Judas 
an4 the devil and the several vices shone conspicuously. Some of 
these plays continued, side by side with the Shakespeare Plays, 
down- to the end of the sixteenth century, and into the beginning of 
the seventeenth. In Lupton's " moral and pitiful comedy," All for 
Money\ the catastrophe represents Judas "like a damned soul in 
black, painted with flames of fire and a fearful visard, followed by 
Dives, 'with such like apparel as Judas hath,' while Damnation 
(another of the dramatis persona) , pursuing them, drives them before 
him, and they pass away, 'making a pitiful noise,' into perdition." 

The mouth of hell, painted to represent flames of fire, was a very 
common scene at the back of the stage. 

Birch says: 

What a transition to the Plays of Shakespeare, while these miracle and moral 
plays were fresh in the recollection of the people, and might still be seen. These 
supernatural, historical and allegorical personages superseded by a material and 
philosophical explanation of things / 6 

VI. The Causes of Infidelity in that Age. 

The "malignity of sects" drove many men to infidelity. They 
saw in religion only monstrous and cruel forces, which lighted hor- 
rible fires in the midst of great cities, and filled the air with the 
stench of burning flesh and the shrieks of the dying victims. They 

1 Othello, v, 2. 3 Tempest, iv, 3. 3 Othello, iii, 3. 

• Hamlet, iii, 2. 4 Richard III., iv, 4 * Birch, Philosophy and Religion of Shah., p. 11. 


held religion to account for those excesses of fanaticism in a semi- 
barbarous age, and they doubted the existence of a God who could 
permit such horrors. They were ready to exclaim with Macduff, 
when told that "the hell-kite," Macbeth, had killed all his family, 
"all his pretty ones," at one fell swoop: 

Did heaven look on, 
And would not take their part? 

They came to conceive of God as a cruel monster who relished 

the sufferings of his creatures. Shakespeare puts this thought into 

the mouth of Lear: 

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods: 
They kill us for their sport. 1 

Mankind could only endure this divine injustice: 

Arming myself with patience, 
To stay the providence of some high powers 
That govern us below. 2 

But, whatever conclusions men might reach on these questions, 
it was perilous to express them. The stake and the scaffold 
awaited the skeptical. If their thoughts were to reach the light 
it must be through the mouths of madmen, like Lear or Hamlet; 
and to fall, as Bacon said, like seeds, that, by their growth in the 
minds of generations to come, would mitigate the wrath of sects 
and prepare the way for an age of toleration. 

Birch says: 

The spectacle of Brownists, among the Protestants, and of Papists, suffering 
capital punishment for opinion's sake, alternately presented to the eyes of the pub- 
lic, would create a party hostile to all religion; whilst an occasional atheist burnt 
would teach the irreligious to keep their opinions to themselves, or caution them in 
administering infidelity as " medicinable." 3 

However strongly we may be convinced of the great and funda- 
mental truths of religion, it must be conceded that freedom of con- 
science and governmental toleration are largely the outgrowth of 
unbelief and indifference. 

In an age that realized, without doubt or question, that life was 
but a tortured hour between two eternities; a thread of time across 
a boundless abyss; that hell and heaven lay so close up to this 
breathing world that a step would, in an instant, carry us over the 
shadowy line into an ocean of flame or a paradise of endless de- 

1 Lear iv, i 2 Julius Cwsar, V, t. > Birch, Philosophy and Religion of Shak., p. 8. 


lights, it followed, as a logical sequence, that it was an act of the 
greatest kindness and humanity to force the skeptical, by any tor- 
ture inflicted upon them during this temporary and wretched exist- 
ence, to avoid an eternal hell and obtain an eternal heaven. But 
so soon as doubt began to enter the minds of men; so soon as they 
said to one another, "Perchance these things may not be exactly 
as we have been taught; perchance the other world may be but a 
dream of hope; perchance this existence is all there is of it," the 
fervor of fanaticism commenced to abate. Not absolutely positive 
in their own minds as to spiritual things, they were ready to make 
some allowance for the doubts of others. Thus unbelief tamed the 
fervor even of those who still believed, and modified, in time, public 
opinion and public law. 

But in Bacon's era every thoughtful soul that loved his fellow- 
man, and sought to advance his material welfare, would instinct- 
ively turn away from a system of belief which produced such holo- 
causts of martyrs, and covered the face of the earth with such cruel 
and bloody wars. 

I have no doubt that Bacon in his youth was a total disbeliever 
in Christianity. He himself said: 

A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy 
bringeth men's minds about to religion. 

There was found among his writings a curious essay, called 
The Characters of a Believing Christian, in Paradoxes and Seeming Con- 
tradictions. It is a wholesale burlesque of Christianity, so cunningly 
put together that it may be read as a commendation of Christians. 

I give a few extracts: 

1. A Christian is one that believes things his reason cannot comprehend; he 
hopes for things which neither he nor any man alive ever saw; he labors for that 
which he knoweth he shall never obtain; yet, in the issue, his belief appears not to 
be false; his hopes make him not ashamed; his labor is not in vain. 

2. He believes three to be one and one to be three; a father not to be elder 
than his son; a son to be equal with his father, and one proceeding from both to 
be equal with both; he believing three persons in one nature and two natures in 
one person. . . . 

ii. ... He knoweth if he please men he cannot be the servant of Christ, yet 
for Christ's sake he pleaseth all men in all things. He is a peace-maker, yet is a 
continual fighter, and an irreconcilable enemy. 

18. . . . He professeth he can do nothing, yet as truly professeth he can do 
all things; he knoweth that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, yet 
belie veth he shall go to heaven, both body and soul. 


1Q>. ... He knovveth he shall not be saved by or for his good works, yet he 
doth all the good works he can. 

21. ... He believes beforehand that God hath purposed what he shall be 
and that nothing can make him alter his purpose; yet prays and endeavors as if 
he would force God to save him forever. 

24. ... He is often tossed and shaken, yet is as Mount Zion; he is a serpent 
and a dove, a lamb and a lion, a reed and a cedar. He is sometimes so troubled 
that he thinks nothing to be true in religion, yet if he did think so he could not at 
all be troubled. 

We turn to Shakespeare and we find in Richard II. a similar 
unbelieving playing upon seeming contradictions in Christianity. 
It reads like a continuation of the foregoing put into blank verse- 
Richard is in prison. He says: 

I have been studying how to compare 

This prison, where I live, unto the world: 

And, for because the world is populous, 

And here is not a creature but myself 

I cannot do it: yet I'll hammer 't out. 

My braine, I'll prove the female to my soul, 

My soul, the Father: and these two beget 

A generation of still breeding thoughts; 

And these same thoughts people this little world, 

In humors, like the people of this world, 

For no thought is contented. The better sort, 

As thoughts of things divine, are intermixt 

With scruples, and do set the Faith itself 

Against the Faith: 

As thus — "Come, little ones;" and then again, 

" It is as hard to come as for a camel 

To thread the postern of a needle's eye." 

No one can doubt that these thoughts, showing the same irre- 
ligious belief, and the same subtle way of propounding it, came 
from the same mind. And observe the covert sarcasm of this, 
among many similar utterances of Bacon: 

For those bloody quarrels for religion were unknown to the ancients, the 
heathen gods not having so much as a touch of that jealousy which is an attribute 
of the true God. 2 

Through all the Shakespeare Plays we find the poet, by the 

mouths of all sorts of people, representing death as the end of alL 

things. Macbeth says: 

Duncan is in his grave; 
After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well; 
Treason has done his worst; nor steel, nor poison, 
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing 
Can touch him further. 

1 Richard //., v, 5. - // 'isdom of the A ncients — Diomedes. 



Titus Andronicus thus speaks of the grave: 

Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells; 
Here grow no damned grudges, here no storms; 
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep. 

In the sonnets, Shakespeare speaks of 
Death's dateless night. 

We are also told in the sonnets that we leave "this vile world" 
"with vilest worms to dwell." In The Tempest we are reminded 
that "our little life is rounded by a sleep"; that is to say, we are 
surrounded on all sides by total oblivion and nothingness. Iachimo 
sees in sleep only "the ape of death." 

The Duke says, in Measure for Measure: 

Thy best of rest is sleep, 
And that thou oft provok'st, yet grossly fear'st 
Thy death, which is no more. 

Dr. Johnson says: 

I cannot, without indignation, find Shakespeare saying that death is only 
sleep, lengthening out his exhortation by a sentence which in the friar is impious, in 
the reasoner is foolish, and in the poet trite and vulgar. 

In the same play the writer mocks at the idea of an immortal 


But man, proud man ! 
Drest in a little brief authority, 
Most ignorant of what he s most assured. 
His glassy essence, like an angry ape, 
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, 
As make the angels weep. 1 

In this same play of Measure for Measure, while he gives us the 
pagan conception of the future of the soul, he directly slaps in the 
face the Christian belief in hell. Speaking of death, he says: 

The delighted spirit 
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside 
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice; 
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds, 
And blown with restless violence round above 
The pendant world; or to be worse than worst 
Of those, that lawless and incertain thoughts 
Imagine howling/' 2 

This is not the language of one who believed that God had said: 
"Depart from me, ye accursed, into everlasting fire ! " 

1 Measure for Measure, ii, 2. 2 Ibid., iii, 1. 


And, we find the mocking Falstaff talking, in a jesting fashion, 
about the "primrose way to the everlasting bonfire !" 

No wonder Birch says, speaking of Measure for Measure : 

There are passages of infidelity in this play that staggered Warburton, made 
Johnson indignant, and confounded Coleridge and Knight. 1 

VII. Conclusions. 

Thus, then, I decipher the religion of the Plays: 

i. They were written by a man of Protestant training, who 

believed in the political changes brought about by Cranmer and 

the Reformation. Such a man was Bacon. 

2. They were written by one who was opposed to the temporal 
power of the Pope in England. As I have shown, this was Bacon's 

3. They were written by one who, while a Protestant in poli- 
tics, did not feel bitterly toward the Catholics, and had no desire 
to mock or persecute them. We have seen that Bacon advocated 
the most liberal treatment of the followers of the old faith; he was 
opposed to the marriage of the clergy; he labored for the unity of 
all Christians. 

4. They were written by one whom the world in that age would 
have called "an infidel." Such a man, we have reason to believe, 
was Bacon. 

I shall not say that as he advanced in life his views did not 

change, and that depth of philosophy did not, to use his own 

phrase, "bring his mind about to religion," even to the belief 

in the great tenets of Christianity. Certain it is that no man ever 

possessed a profounder realization of the existence of God in the 

universe. How sublime, how unanswerable is his expression: 

I would rather believe all the fables in the Ta Imud and the Koran than that 
this universal frame is without a mind ! 

Being himself a mighty spirit, he saw through " the muddy 
vesture of decay " which darkly hems in ruder minds, and beheld 
the shadowy outlines of that tremendous Spirit of which he was 
himself, with all created things, but an expression. 

He believed that God not only was, but was all-powerful, and 
all -merciful; and that he had it in his everlasting purposes to 

Philosophy and Religion 0/ Shah., p. 353. 


lift up man to a state of perfection and happiness on earth; and (as 
I have shown) he believed that he had created him — even him, 
Francis Bacon — as an instrument to that end; and to accomplish 
that end he toiled and labored almost from the cradle to the grave. 

He was — in the great sense of the words — a priest and 
prophet of God, filled with the divine impulses of good. If he 
erred in his conceptions of truth, who shall stand between the 
Maker and his great child, and take either to account ? 

We breathe an air rendered sweeter by his genius; we live in a 
world made brighter by his philosophy; his contributions to the 
mental as well as to the material happiness of mankind have been 
simply incalculable. Let us, then, thank God that he sent him to 
us on this earth; let. us draw tenderly the mantle of charity over his 
weaknesses, if any such are disclosed by the unpitying hand of his- 
tory; let us exult that one has been born among the children of 
men who has removed, on every side for a thousand miles, the 
posts that experience had set up as the limitations of human 



i have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men. 


THE first question asked by every thoughtful mind, touching 
the things of sense, is: Who made this marvelous world? 
The second is: Why did He make it ? 

The purpose of the thing must always be greater than the thing 
itself : it encloses, permeates and maintains it. The result is but 
a small part of the preexistent intention. All things must stand or 
fall by their purposes, and every great work must necessarily be 
the outgrowth of a great purpose. 

Were these wonderful, these oceanic Shakespeare Plays the 
unconscious outpourings of an untutored genius, uttered with no- 
more method than the song of a bird; or were they the production 
of a wise, thoughtful and profound man, who wrote them with 
certain well-defined objects in view? 

I. Bacon's Aims and Objects. 

We are first to ask ourselves, If Francis Bacon wrote the Plays,, 
what were the purposes of his life ? For, as the Plays constitute a 
great part of his life-work, the purposes of his life must envelop 
and pervade them. 

No man ever lived upon earth who possessed nobler aims than 
Francis Bacon. He stands at the portal of the opening civilization 
of modern times, a sublime figure — his heart full of love for man, 
his busy brain teeming with devices for the benefit of man; with 
uplifted hands praying God to bless his work, the most far-extend- 
ing human work ever set afoot on the planet. 

He says: 

I am a servant of posterity; for these things require some ages for the ripen- 
ing of them. 1 

1 Letter to Father Fulgentio, the Venetian. 



Again he says, speaking of himself: 

Always desiring, with extreme fervency (such as we are confident God puts into 
the minds of men), to have that which was never yet attempted, now to be not 
attempted in vain, to-wit: to release men out of their necessities and miseries. 1 

Again he says: 

This work [the Novum Organuni] is for the bettering of men's bread and wine, 
which are the characters of temporal blessings and sacraments of eternal. 2 

Macaulay says: 

The end which Bacon purposed to himself was the multiplying of human 
enjoyments and the mitigating of human sufferings. . . . This was the object of 
his speculations in every department of science — in natural philosophy, in legisla- 
tion, in politics, in morals. 3 

And, knowing the greatness of God and the littleness of man, 

he prays the source of all goodness for aid: 

God, the maker, preserver and renewer of the universe, guide and protect this 
work, both in its ascent to his own glory, and in its descent to the good of man, 
through his good will toward man, by his only begotten son, God with us. 4 

And, speaking of his own philosophy, he says: 

I am thus persuaded because of its infinite usefulness ; for which reason it may 
be ascribed to divine encouragement. 5 

He speaks of himself as "a servant of God." He seems to have 
had some thought of founding, not a new religion, but a new sys- 
tem of philosophy, which should do for the improvement of man's 
condition in this world what religion strove to do for the improve- 
ment of his condition in the next world. 

And Birch says of Shakespeare: 

He had a system, which may be drawn from his works, which he contrasts 
with the notions of mankind taken from Revelation, and which he represents as 
doing what revelation and a future state purpose to do for the benefit of mankind, 
and which he thinks sufficient to supply its place. 6 

In his prayer, written at the time of his downfall, Bacon says: 

Remember, O Lord, how thy servant hath walked before thee, remember what 
I have first sought, and what hath been principal in mine intentions. . . . The 
state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes: I have 
hated all cruelty and hardness of heart; I have, though in a despistd weed, procured 
the good of all men. 7 

How did he "at first" (that is to say in his youth) seek and pro- 
cure the good of all men? And what was the "despised weed" ? 

1 Exper. History. * Exper. History. 

2 Letter to King James, October 19, 1620. 5 Letter to Father Fulgentio. 

* Essays, Bacon, p. 370. • Philosophy and Religion of Shak., p. 10. 

7 Life and Works, Spedding, etc., vol. vii, p. 229. 


II. Did he Regard the Drama as a Possible Instrumental- 
ity eor Good? 

Do we find any indications that Bacon, with this intent in 
his heart to benefit mankind, regarded the stage as a possible 
instrumentality to that end ? That it was capable of being so 
used — in fact was so used — there can be no doubt. Simpson 

During its palmy days the English stage was the most important instrument 
for making opinions heard, its literature the most popular literature of the age, and 
on that account it was used by the greatest writers for making their comments on 
public doings and public persons. As an American critic says, "it was news- 
paper, magazine, novel — all in one." 1 

A recent English writer, W. F. C. Wigston, says: 

Sir Philip Sidney, in his Defense of Poesy, maintains that the old philosophers 
disguised or embodied their entire cosmogonies in their poetry, as, for example, 
Thales, Empedocles, Parmenides, Pythagoras, and Phocyclides, who were poets and 
Philosophers at once." 1 

But did Bacon entertain any such views ? Unquestionably. He 

Dramatic Poesy is as History made visible ; for it represents actions as if they 
were present, whereas History represents them as past. Parabolical Poesy is 
typical History, by which ideas that are objects of the intellect are represented in 
forms that are objects of the sense. . . . 

Dramatic Poesy, which has the theater for its world, would be of excellent use 
if well directed. For the stage is capable of no small influence, both of discipline 
and of corruption. Now, of corruptions in this kind we have enough; but the dis- 
cipline has, in our times, been plainly neglected. And though in modern states 
play-acting is esteemed but as a toy, except when it is too satirical and biting; yet 
among the ancients it was used as a means of educating mens minds to virtue. 
Nay, it has been regarded by learned men and great philosophers as a kind of 
musician's bow by which mens minds may be played upon. And certainly it is 
true, and one of the great secrets of nature, that the minds of men are more 
open to impressions and affections when many are gathered together than when 
they are alone. 3 

The reader will note some suggestive phrases in the above: 

"dramatic poesy, which has the theater for its world." We are 

reminded of Shakespeare's " All the world's a stage." "A kind of 

musician's bow, by which men's minds may be played upon." 

This recalls to us Hamlet's : 

Why, do you think that I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what 
instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon »ie. A 

1 School of Shak., vol. i, p. xviii. 8 De Augment is, book ii, chap. 13. 

a A New Study of Shak., p. 42. * Hamtet, iii, 2. 


III. Was he Associated with Plays and Players? 

But it may be said: These are the utterances of a philosopher 
who contemplates these things with an aloofness, and Bacon may 
have taken no interest in play-houses or plays. 

Let us see. 

His loving and religious mother, writing of her sons, Anthony 
and Francis, in 1594, says: 

I trust they will not mum, nor mask, nor sinfully revel. 1 

In 1594 his brother Anthony had removed from Gray's Inn to a 
house in Bishopsgate Street, "much to his mother's distress," says 
Spedding, "who feared the neighborhood of the Bull Inn, where 
plays and interludes were acted."' 

Bacon took part in the preparation of many plays and masks, 
for the -entertainment of the court, some of which were acted by 
Shakspere s company of players. 

The Queen seemed to have some suspicion of Bacon being a 
poet or writer of plays. The Earl of Essex writes him, May 18, 
1594 — the Earl then urging Bacon for some law office in the gift of 
the crown: 

And she did acknowledge you had a great wit, and an excellent gift of speech, 
and much other good learning. But in law she rather thought you could make 
show to the uttermost of your knowledge, than that you were deep. 3 

And Bacon himself acknowledges that his mind is diverted 
from his legal studies to some contemplations of a different sort, 
and more agreeable to his nature. He says, in a letter to Essex: 

Your Lordship shall in this beg my life of the Queen; for I see well the bar will 
be my bier. 

And he writes to his uncle, Lord Burleigh, in 1594: 

To speak plainly, though perhaps vainly, I do not think that the ordinary 
practice of the law will be admitted for a good account of the poor talent that God 
hath given me. 4 

Montagu says: 

Forced by the narrowness of his fortune into business, conscious of his own 
powers, aware of the peculiar quality of his mind, and disliking his pursuits, his 
heart was often in his study, while he lent his person to the robes of office. 5 

1 Spedding's Life and Letters, vol. i, p. 326. * Letter to Burleigh, 1594. 

% Life and Works, vol. i, p. 314. 6 Montagu, Life and Works, vol. i, p. 117. 

3 Life and Works, Spedding, vol. i, p. 297. 


If, then, it is conceded that Bacon had great purposes for the 
benefit of mankind, purposes to be achieved by him, not by the 
sword or by the powers which flow from high positions, but by 
the pen, by working on "the minds of men;" and if it is con- 
ceded, as it must be, that he recognized the stage as an instru- 
mentality that could be made of great force for that end, by 
which the minds of men could "be played upon;" and if it is con- 
ceded that he was the author of masks and the getter-up of 
other dramatic representations; and that his mind was not de- 
voted to the dry details of his profession; and if it is conceded, 
as I think it must be, that he had the genius, the imagination, 
the wit and the industry to have prepared the Shakespeare Plays, 
what is there to negative the conclusion that he did so prepare 
them ? 

And does he not seem to be pointing at the stage, in these 
words, when, speaking of the obstructions to the reception of truth 
caused by the ignorance and bigotry of the age, he says, in The 
Masculine Birth of Time: 

"And what," you will say, "is this legitimate method? Have done with 
artifice and circumlocution; show me the naked truth of your design, that I may 
be able to form a judgment for myself." I would, my dearest son, that matters 
were in such a state with you as to render this possible. Do you suppose that, 
when all the entrances and passages to the mind of all men are infested and 
obstructed with the darkest idols, and these seated and burned in, as it were, into 
their substance, that clear and smooth places can be found for receiving the true 
and natural rays of objects? A new process must be instituted by which to insinu- 
ate ourselves into minds so entirely obstructed. For, as the delusions of the insane 
are removed by art and ingenuity, but aggravated by opposition, so must we adapt 
ourselves to the universal insanity. 

And again he says: 

So men generally taste well knowledges that are drenched in flesh and blood, 
civil history, morality, policy about which men's affections, praises, fortunes do 
turn and are conversant. 1 

He not only discusses in his philosophical works dramatic litera- 
ture and the influence of the stage, but he urges in the translation of 
the second book of the Advancement of Learning (but not in the 
English copy), "that the art of acting (actio theatralis) should be 
made a part of the education of youth." 2 "The Jesuits," he says, 
"do not despise it; " and he thinks they are right, for, "though it 

1 Advancement of Learning, book li. 9 Works of Bacon, vol. vi, p. 307. 


be of ill repute as a profession, yet as a part of discipline it is of 
excellent use." 
Spedding adds: 

In Bacon's time, when masks acted by young gentlemen of the universities 
or inns of court were the favorite entertainment of princes, these things were 
probably better attended to than they are now. 

And Bacon seemed to feel that there ought to be some great 
writings to show the affections and passions of mankind. He says: 

And here again I find it strange that Aristotle should have written divers 
volumes of ethics and never handled the affections, which is the principal subject 
thereof. . . . But the poets and writers of histories are the best doctors of this 
knowledge: where we may find painted forth, with great life, how affections are 
kindled and incited, and how pacified and refrained; and how again contained 
from act and further degree; how they disclose themselves; how they work; how 
they vary; how they gather and fortify; how they are inwrapped, one within 
another, and how they do fight and encounter one with another, and other like 
particulars. 1 

And Barry Cornwall says, as if in echo of these sentiments: 

If Bacon educated the reason, Shakespeare educated the heart. 

The one work was the complement of the other, and both came 
out of the same great mind. They were flowers growing from the 
stalk of the same tremendous purpose. 

IV. His Poverty. 

But the reader may be fencing the truth out of his mind with 
the thought that BacOn was a rich man's son, and had not the in- 
centive to literary labor. Richard Grant White puts this argument 
in the following form. Speaking of the humble, not to say vile, 
circumstances which surrounded Shakspere in his youth, he says: 

If Shakespeare had been born at Charlecote, he would probably have had a 
seat in Parliament, not improbably a peerage; but we should have had no plays, 
only a few formal poems and sonnets, most likely, and possibly some essays, with 
all of Bacon's wisdom, set forth in a style more splendid than Bacon's, but hardly 
-so incisive. 

It is curious how the critical mind can hardly think of Shake- 
speare without being reminded of Bacon. 

But was Bacon above the reach of poverty? Was he above the 
necessity of striving to eke out his income with his pen ? No. 
Hepworth Dixon says: 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 


Lady Anne and her sons are poor. Anthony, the loving and beloved, with 
whom Francis had been bred at Cambridge and in France, has now come home. 
. . . The two young fellows have little money and expensive ways. . . . Lady 
Anne starves herself at Gorhambury that she may send to Gray's Inn ale from the 
cellar, pigeons from her dove-cote, fowls from her farm-yard — gifts which she sea- 
sons with a good deal of motherly love, and not a little of her best motherly 
advice. 1 

In 1612 Bacon writes King James: 

My good old mistress [Queen Elizabeth] was wont to call me her watch-candle, 
because it pleased her to say I did continually burn (and yet she suffered me to 
ivciste almost to nothing), so I much more owe like duty to your Majesty. 2 

In a letter to Villiers, Bacon says: 

Countenance, encourage and advance able men. For in the time of the Cecils, 
the father and son, able men were by design and of purpose suppressed. 

The same story runs through all the years during which the 
Shakespeare Plays were written. Spedding says: 

Michaelmas term [1593] passed, and still no solicitor appointed. Meanwhile, 
the burden of debt and the difficulty of obtaining necessary supplies was daily 
increasing. Anthony's correspondence during this autumn is full of urgent appli- 
cations to various friends for loans of money, and the following memorandum 
shows that much of his own necessity arose from his anxiety to supply the necessi- 
ties of his brother. 3 

Here Mr. Spedding inserts the memorandum, showing ^5 
loaned Francis September 12, 1593; £1 loaned him October 23, 
1593; £$ loaned him November 19, 1593, with other loans of ;£io, 
^20 and ;£ioo. 

Falstaff expressed Bacon's own experience when he said: 

I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse: borrowing only 
lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable. 4 

In the year 1594 Bacon describes himself, in a letter, as "poor 
and sick , working for bread." 

In 1597 it is the same story. Spedding says: 

Bacon's fortunes are still as they were, only with this difference: that as the 
calls on his income are increasing, in the shape of interest for borrowed money, the 
income itself is diminishing through the sale of lands and leases. 5 

His grief and perplexity are so great that he cries out in a letter 

to his uncle, the Lord Treasurer, written in that year: 

I stand indifferent whether God call me or her Majesty. 

1 Personal History of Lord Bacon, p. 32. 4 2d Henry IV. , i, 2. 

2 Letter to King James, May 31, 1612. » Spedding, Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 53. 

3 Spedding, Life and Works, vol. i, p. 321. 


In 1598 he is arrested for debt by Sympson, the goldsmith; in 
1603 he is again in trouble and petitions the Secretary, Cecil, to- 
intercede and prevent his creditors taking more than the principal 
of his bond, for, he adds, "a Jew can take no more." 

He was constantly annoyed and pestered by his creditors. He 
writes Mr. Michael Hicks, January 21, 1600, that he proposes to 
clear himself from "the discontent, speech or danger of others" of 
his creditors. "Some of my debts, of most clamor and importunity, 
I have paid." 

Again he says: "I do use to pay my debts in time" — not in 

July 3, 1603, he writes his cousin Robert, Lord Cecil: 

I shall not be able to pay the money within the time by your Lordship under- 
taken, which was a fortnight. Nay, money I find so hard to come by at this time, 
as I thought to have become an humble suitor to your Honor to have sustained me, 
. . . with taking up three hundred pounds till I can put away some land. 

He hopes, by selling off "the skirts of my living in Hertford- 
shire," to have enough left to yield him three hundred pounds per 
annum income. 

V. The Profit of Play-writing. 

The price paid for a new play was from ^5 to ,£20. This, 
reduced to dollars, is $25 to $100. But money, it is agreed, pos- 
sessed a purchasing power then equal to twelve times what it 
has now; so that Bacon, for writing a new play, would receive 
what would be the equivalent of from $300 to $1,200 to-day. But 
in addition to this the author was entitled to all the receipts taken 
in, above expenses, on the second or third day of the play, 1 and 
this, in -the case of a successful play, might be a considerable sum. 
And probably in the case of plays as popular as were the Shake- 
speare Plays, special arrangements were made as to the division of 
the profits. It was doubtless from dividing with Bacon these sums 
that Shakspere acquired his large fortune. 

Such sums as these to a man who was borrowing one pound at 
a time from his necessitous brother, Anthony, and who was more 
than once arrested and put in sponging-houses for debt, were a 
matter of no small moment. 

' See Collier's Annah of the Stage, vol. iii, pp. 224, 229, 230, etc. 


He seems, from a letter to Essex, to have had some secret means 

of making money. He says: 

For means I value that most: and the rather because I am purposed not to fol- 
low the practice of the law; . . . and my reason is only because it drinketh too 
much time, which I have dedicated to better purposes. But, even for that point of 
estate and means, I partly lean to Thales' opinion, " that a philosopher may be rich 
if he will" 

This is very significant. Even Spedding perceives the traces of 

a mystery. He says: 

So enormous were the results which Bacon anticipated from such a renovation 
of philosophy as he had conceived the possibility of, that the reluctance which he 
felt to devote his life to the ordinary practice of a lawyer cannot be wondered at. 
It is easier to understand why he was resolved not to do that, than what other plan 
he had to clear himself of the difficulties which were accumulating upon him, and to 
obtain means of living and -working. . . . What course he betook himself to at the 
crisis at which he had now arrived, I cannot positively say. I do not find any 
letter of his which can be probably assigned to the winter of 1596; nor have I met 
among his brother's papers anything which indicates what he zvas about. . . . 
I presume, however, that he betook himself to his studies. 1 

In the last years of the sixteenth century and the first of the 
seventeenth Bacon seems to have given up all hope of rising to 
office in the state. He was under some cloud. He says: 

My ambition is quenched. . . . My ambition now I shall only put upon my pen, 
whereby I shall be able to maintain memory and merit of the times succeeding.' 2 

He was hopeless; he was powerless; he was poor. He had felt 

The whips and scorns of time, 
The oppressor's wrong, the poor man's contumely, 

. . . the law's delay, 
The insolence of office, and the spurns 
That patient merit of the unworthy takes. 

He wrote to the Queen that he had suffered 
The contempt of the contemptible, that measure a man by his estate. 3 
What could he make money at ? There was no great novel- 
reading public, as at present. There were no newspapers to 
employ ready and able pens. There was little sale for the weight- 
ier works of literature. There was but one avenue open to him — 
the play-house. 

Did he combine the more sordid and pressing necessity for 
money with those great, kindly, benevolent purposes toward man- 

1 Spedding, Works of Bacon — Letters and Life, vol. ii, p. 1. 

2 Letter to R. Cecil, July 3, 1603. 

3 Letter to the Queen, 1 599-1 600 — Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 166. 


kind which filled his heart ? Did he try to use the play-house as a 
school of virtue and ethics ? Let us see. 

VI. Great Moral Lessons. 

In the first place, the Plays are great sermons against great 
evils. They are moral epics. 

What lesson does Macbeth leave upon the mind ? It teaches 
every man who reads it, or sees it acted, the horrors of an unscru- 
pulous ambition. It depicts, in the first place, a brave soldier and 
patriot, defending his country at the risk of his life. Then it shows 
the agents of evil approaching and suggesting dark thoughts to 
his brain. Then if shows us, as Bacon says, speaking of the passions 
as delineated by the poets and writers of histories: 

Painted forth, with great life, how affections (passions) are kindled and incited; 
and how pacified and refrained; and how again contained from act and further 
degree; how they disclose themselves; how they work; how they vary; how they 
gather and fortify; how they are inwrapped one within another; and how they do 
fight and encounter one with another. 

All this is revealed in Macbeth. We see the seed of ambition 

taking root; we see it "disclosed;" we see self-love and the sense 

of right warring with each other. We see his fiendish wife driving 

him forward to crime against the promptings of his better nature. 

It depicts, with unexampled dramatic power, a cruel and treacherous 

murder. Then it shows how crime begets the necessity for crime: 

To be thus is nothing, 
But to be safely thus. 

It shows one horror treading fast upon another's heels: the 
usurper troubled with the horrible dreams that " shake him 
nightly;" the mind of the ambitious woman giving way under the 
strain her terrible will had put upon it, until we see her seeking peace 
in suicide; while Macbeth falls at last, overthrown and slaughtered. 

Have all the pulpits of all the preachers given out a more ter- 
rible exposition and arraignment of ambition ? Think of the 
uncountable millions who, in the past three hundred years, have 
witnessed this play ! Think of the illimitable numbers who will 
behold it during the next thousand years ! 

What an awful picture of the workings of a guilty conscience is 
that exhibited when Macbeth sees, even at the festal board, the 
blood-boltered Banquo rising up and regarding him with glaring 


and soulless eyes. And how like the pitiful cry of a lost soul is this 

utterance ? 

I have lived long enough: my way of life 

Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf: 

And that which should accompany old age, 

As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, 

I must not look to have; but, in their stead, 

Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath 

Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not. 

Call the roll of all your pulpit orators ! Where is there one 
that has ever preached such a sermon as that ? Where is there one 
that has ever had such an audience — such an unending succession 
of. million-large audiences — as this man, who, in a " despised 
weed, sought the good of all men"? 

And, remember, that it was not the virtuous alone, the church- 
goers, the elect, who came to hear this marvelous sermon, but the 
high, the low; the educated, the ignorant; the young, the old; the 
good, the vicious; the titled lord, the poor 'prentice; the high-born 
dame, the wretched waste and wreck of womankind. 

A sermon preached almost nightly for nigh three hundred 
years ! Not preached with robe or gown, or any pretense of vir- 
tue, but in those living pictures, "that history made visible," of the 
mighty philanthropist. Not coming with the ostentation and 
parade of holiness, with swinging censer and rolling organ, but 
conveyed into the minds of the audience insensibly, insinuated 
into them, through the instrumentality of a lot of poor players. 
Precisely as we have seen Bacon suggesting that, by " a new process," 
truth should be insinuated into minds obstructed and infested — a 
process " drenched in flesh and blood" as surely Macbeth is; a process 
that the ancients used to "educate men's minds to virtue;" by which 
the minds of men might be "played upon," as if with a "musician's 
bow," with the greater force because (as he had observed a thou- 
sand times in the Curtain Theater) the minds of men are more acted 
upon when they are gathered in numbers than when alone. 

VII. Ingratitude. 

Turn to Lear. What is its text? Ingratitude. Another mighty 

The grand old man who gave all, with his heart in it. The 
viciousness of two women; the nobleness of a third — for the gentle 


heart of the poet would not allow him to paint mankind altogether 
bad; he saw always 'the soul of goodness in things evil." And 
mark the moral of the story. The overthrow of the wicked, who 
yet drag down the good and noble in their downfall. 

VIII. Jealousy and Intemperance. 

Turn to Othello. What is the text here? The evils of jealousy 
and the power for wrong of one altogether iniquitous. The 
overthrow of a noble nature by falsehood; the destruction of 
a pure and gentle woman to satisfy the motiveless hate of a 
villain. And there is within this another moral. The play is 
a grand plea for temperance, expressed with jewels of thought 
set in arabesques of speech. Can all the reformers match that 
expression : 

thou invisible spirit of wine ! If thou hast no name to be known by, let us 
call thee devil ! 

The plot of the play turns largely on Cassio's drunkenness; for 
it is Desdemona's intercession for poor Cassio that arouses Othel- 
lo's suspicions. And how pitiful are Cassio's exclamations: 

Oh, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains ! 
that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel and applause, transform ourselves into 
beasts. . . . To be now a sensible man, by and by a fool, and presently a beast ! 
O strange '. Every inordinate cup is unblessed, and the ingredient is a devil. 

It is impossible to sum up a stronger appeal in behalf of a tem- 
perate use of the good things of this world than these words con- 
tain. And, remember, they were written, not in the nineteenth 
century, but in an age of universal drunkenness, practiced by both 
men and women; and uttered at first to audiences nine-tenths of 
whom probably had more ale and sack in them than was good for 
them, even while they witnessed the play. 

And we find the great teacher always preaching the same lesson 
of temperance to the people, and in much the same phrases. He 
says : 

When he is best, he is little worse than a man; and when he is worst he is 
little better than a beast. 1 

And again he says: 

A howling monster; a drunken monster. 2 

1 Merry Wives of Windsor, i, 2. ' Tempest, iii, 2. 


And in the introduction to The Taming of the Shrew, his Lord- 
ship, looking at the drunken Christopher Sly, says: 
Oh, monstrous beast! how like a swine he lies. 

IX. Timon of Athens. 

In this play, the moral is the baseness of sycophants and mam- 
mon-worshipers. Its bitterness and wrath came from Bacon's 
own oppressed heart, in the day of his calamities; when he had felt 
all "the contempt of the contemptible, who measure a man by his 

Mr. Hallam says: 

There seems to have been a period of Shakespeare's life when his heart was ill 
at ease, and ill content with the world or his own conscience; the memory of hours 
mis-spent, the pang of affection misplaced or unrequited, the experience of man's 
worser nature, which intercourse with ill-chosen associates by choice or circum- 
stance peculiarly teaches; — these, as they sank down into the depths of his great 
mind, seem not only to have inspired into it the conception of Lear and Timon, 
but that of one primary character, the censurer of mankind. 1 

X. Shylock the Usurer. 

In 1594 Bacon was the victim of a Jew money-lender. In 1595 

appeared The Merchant of Venice, in which, says Mrs. Pott: 

Shylock immortalizes the hard Jew who persecuted Bacon; and Antonius the 
generous brother Anthony who sacrificed himself and taxed his credit in order to 
relieve Francis. Antonio in Twelfth Night is of the same generous character. 

And it will be observed that both Bacon and the writer of the 
Plays were opposed to usury. 

Says Bacon: 

It is against nature for money to breed money. 2 

And again he speaks of 

The devouring trade of usury. 3 

While in Shakespeare we have the conversation between 
Shylock and Antonio, the former justifying the taking of interest 
on money by the case of Jacob, who "grazed his uncle Laban's 
sheep" and took "all the yearlings which were streaked and pied." 
Says Antonio: 

Was this inserted to make interest good ? 
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams? 
Shylock. I cannot tell. I make it breed as fast. 

1 Literature of Europe, vol. iii, p. 508. 2 Essay Of Usury. 3 Essay Of Seditions. 


And again we have the same idea of money breeding money, 

used by Bacon, repeated in this conversation. Antonio says: 

I am as like to call thee so again. 

To spit on thee again, to spurn thee, too. 

If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not 

As to thy friends; for when did friendship take 

A breed of barren metal from his friend? 

And it will be remembered that the whole play turns on the sub- 
ject of usury. The provocation which Antonio first gave Shylock 

was that 

He lends out money gratis, and brings down 
The rate of usance here with us in Venice. 

And again: 

Signior Antonio, many a time and oft 
In the Rialto you have rated me 
About my monies and my usances. 

The purpose of the play was to stigmatize the selfishness mani- 
fested in the taking of excessive interest; which is, indeed, to the 
poor debtor, many a time the cutting-out of the very heart. And 
hence the mighty genius has, in the name of Shylock, created a 
synonym for usurer, and has made in the Jew money-lender the 
most terrible picture of greed, inhumanity and wickedness in all 

Bacon saw the necessity for borrowing and lending, and hence of 
moderate compensation for the use of money. But he pointed out, 
in his essay Of Usury, the great evils which resulted from the prac- 
tice. He contended that if the owners of money could not lend it 
out, they would have to employ it themselves in business; and hence, 
instead of the "lazy trade of usury," there would be enterprises of 
all kinds, and employment for labor, and increased revenues to the 
kingdom. And his profound wisdom was shown in this utterance: 

It [usury] bringeth the treasures of a realm or state into a few hands; for the 
usurer being at certainties, and others at uncertainties, at the end of the game 
most of the money will be in his box; and ever a state flourisheth most when 
wealth is more equally spread. 

The moral of Coriolanus is that the untutored multitude, as it 
existed in Bacon's day, the mere mob, was not capable of self-gov- 
ernment. The play was written, probably, because of the many 
indications which Bacon saw that "the foot of the peasant was 


treading close on the kibe of the courtier," as Hamlet says; and 
that a religious war, accompanied by an uprising of the lower 
classes, was at hand, which would, as he feared, sweep away all 
learning and civility in a deluge of blood. The deluge came 
shortly after his death, but the greatness and self-control of the 
English race saved it from ultimate anarchy. At the same time 
Bacon, in his delineation of the patriot Brutus, showed that he was 
not adverse to a republican government of intelligent citizens. 

XII. The Deficiencies of the Man of Thought. 

Hamlet is autobiographical. It is Bacon himself. It is the man 
of thought, the philosopher, the poet, placed in the midst of the 
necessities of a rude age. 

Bacon said: 

I am better fitted to hold a book than to play a part. 

He is overweighted with the thought-producing faculty: in his 
case the cerebrum overbalances the cerebellum. He laments in his 
old age that, being adapted to contemplation and study, his for- 
tune forced him into parts for which he was not fitted. He makes 
this his apology to posterity: 

This I speak to posterity, not out of ostentation, but because I judge it may 
somewhat import the dignity of learning, to have a man born for letters rather than 
anything else, who should, by a certain fatality, and against the bent of his own 
genius, be compelled into active life} 

This is Hamlet. He comes in with book in hand, speculating 
where he should act. He is " holding a book " where he should 
" play a part." 

Schlegel says of Hamlet ; 

The whole is intended to show that a calculating consideration, which exhausts 
all the relations and possible consequences of a deed, must cripple the power of 

Coleridge says of Hamlet : 

We see a great, an enormous intellectual activity, and a proportionate aver- 
sion to real action consequent upon it. 

Dowden says: 

When the play opens he has reached the age of thirty years — the age, it has 
been said, when the ideality of youth ought to become one with and inform the 
practical tendencies of manhood — and he has received culture of every kind 

1 Advancement of Learning, book viii, p. 3. 


U "'^*8/T, 


except the culture of active life. He has slipped on into years of full manhood still a 
haunter of the university, a student of philosophies, an amateur in art, a ponderer on 
the things of life and death, who has never formed a resolution or executed a deed. 

These descriptions fit Bacon's case precisely. His ambition 
drags him into the midst of the activities of the court; his natural 
predisposition carries him away to St. Albans or Twickenham 
Park, to indulge in his secret " contemplations; " and to compose 
the "works of his recreation" and "the works of the alphabet." 
He was, as it were, two men bound in one. He aspired to rule 
England and to give' a new philosophy to mankind. He would 
rival Cecil and Aristotle at the same time. 

And this play seems to be autobiographical in another sense. 

Hamlet was robbed of his rights by a relative — his uncle. He 

" lacked advancement." Bacon, who might naturally hope to rise to 

a place in Elizabeth's court similar to that held by his father, "lacks 

advancement;" and it is his uncle Burleigh and his uncle's son who 

hold him down. Hamlet is a philosopher. So is Bacon. Hamlet 

writes verses to Ophelia. Bacon is a poet. Hamlet writes a play, 

or part of one, for the stage. So, we assert, did Bacon. Hamlet 

puts forth the play as the work of another. So, we think, did 

Bacon. Hamlet cries out: 

The play's the thing 
Wherewith I'll catch the conscience of the King. 

And it is our theory that Bacon sought with his plays to 
catch the conscience of mankind. Hamlet has one true, trusted 
friend, Horatio, to whom he opens the secrets of his heart, and to 
whom he utters a magnificent essay on friendship. Bacon has an- 
other such trusted friend, Sir Tobie Matthew, to whom he opened 
his heart, and for whom, we are told, he wrote his prose essay Of 
Friendship. Hamlet is supposed to be crazy. Bacon is charged 
by his enemies with being a little daft — with having "a bee in his 
head " — and each herein, perhaps, illustrates the old truth, that 

Great minds to madness are quite close allied, 
And thin partitions do the bounds divide. 

XIII. The Tempest. 

The great drama of The Tempest contains another personal story. 

This has, in part, been perceived by others. Mr. Campbell says: 

The Tempest has a sort of sacredness as the last work of a mighty workman. 
Shakespeare, as if conscious that it would be his last, and as if inspired to typify 


himself, has made his hero a natural, a dignified and benevolent magician, who' 
could conjure up spirits from the vasty deep, and command supernatural agency 
by the most seemingly natural and simple means. . . . Here Shakespeare himself 
is Prospero, or rather the superior genius who commands both Prospero and Ariel, 
But the time was approaching when the potent sorcerer was to break his staff, and 
bury it fathoms in the ocean, 

Deeper than did ever plummet sound. 1 

What is the plot of the play ? 

Prospero was born to greatness, was a "prince of power." 

Bacon was born in the royal palace of York Place, and expected 
to inherit the greatness of his father, Elizabeth's Lord Chancellor. 
"Bacon," says Hepworth Dixon, 2 "seemed born to power." 

Prospero was cast down from his high place. So was Bacon. 

Who did it? His uncle Burleigh. And in The Tempest, as in 

Hamlet, an uncle is the evil genius of the play. Prospero says to 

his daughter Miranda: 

Thy false uncle ■ — ... 
Being once perfected how to grant suits, 
How to deny them; whom to advance, and whom 
To trash for over-topping — new created 
The creatures that were mine, I say, or changed them, 
Or else new formed them; having both the key 
Of officer and office, set all hearts i' th' state 
To what tune pleased his ear. 

This might be taken to describe, very aptly, the kind of arts by 
which Bacon's uncle, Burleigh, reached and held power. Bacon 
wrote to King James: 

In the time of Elizabeth the Cecils purposely oppressed all men of ability. 

And why did Prospero lose power ? Because he was a student. 
He neglected the arts of statecraft and politics, and devoted him- 
self to nobler pursuits. He says: 

I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated 
To closeness and the bettering of my mind. 
.... me, poor man ! my library 
Was dukedom large enough ! 

"The bettering of my mind" is very Baconian. But where 
have we the slightest evidence that the man of Stratford ever 
strove to improve his mind ? 

And the labors of Prospero were devoted to the liberal arts and 
to secret studies. So were Bacon's. Prospero says: 

1 Knight's Shakespeare, introductory notice to Tempest. 
8 Personal History of Lor J Bacon, p. 7. 


And Prospero, the prime duke, being so reputed 

In dignity; and for the liberal arts 

Without a parallel; those being all my study, 

The government I cast upon my brother, 

And to my state grew stranger, being transported 

And rapt in secret studies. 

What happened ? Prospero was dethroned, and with his little 
daughter, Miranda, was seized upon: 

In few, they hurried us aboard a bark; 

Bore us some leagues to sea, where they prepared 

A rotten carcase of a butt, not rigged, 

Nor tackle, sail, nor mast; the very rats 

Instinctively had quit it. 

This was the rotten butt of Bacon's fortunes, when they were 

at their lowest; when his friends deserted him, like the rats, and 

when he wrote Timon of Athens. 

Miranda asks: 

How came we ashore? 
Prospero replies: 

By Providence divine 

Some food we had, and some fresh water, that 

A noble Neapolitan, Gonzalo, 

Out of his charity, (who being then appointed 

Master of this design), did give us, with 

Rich garments, linens, stuffs and necessaries 

Which since have steaded much; so of his gentleness, 

Knowing I loved my books, he furnished me, 

From mine own library, with volumes that 

I prize above my dukedom. 

How fully is all this in accord with the character of Francis 
Bacon: — the man who had " taken all knowledge for his province; " 
the "concealed poet;" the philanthropist; the student; the lover 
of books ! How little is it in accordance with what we know of 
Shakspere, who does not seem to have possessed a library, or a 
single book — not even a quarto copy of one of the Plays. 

But who was Miranda? 

The name signifies wonderful tilings. Does it mean these won- 
derful Plays? She was Bacon's child — the offspring of his brain. 
And we find, as I have shown, in sonnet lxxvii these lines, evidently 
written in the front of a commonplace-book: 

Look what thy memory cannot contain, 
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find 
Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain. 
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind. 


Was Miranda the wonderful product of Bacon's brain — the 

child of the concealed poet ? 

When Ferdinand sees Miranda, he plays upon the name: 

My prime request, 
Which I do last pronounce, is, O! you wonder ! 
If you be maid or no ? 

And it will be noted that Miranda was in existence before Pros- 
pero's downfall; and the Plays had begun to appear in Bacon's 
youth and before his reverses. 

And we are further told that when Prospero and his daughter 
were carried to the island, the love he bore Miranda was the one 
thing that preserved him from destruction: 

Miranda. Alack! what trouble 

Was I then to you ? 

Prospero. O! a cherubin 

Thou wast that did preserve me ! Thou didst smile, 

Infused with a fortitude from heaven, 

When I have decked the sea with drops full salt, 

Under my burthen groaned; which raised in me 

An undergoing stomach, to bear up 

Against what should ensue. 

That is to say, in the days of Bacon's miseries, his love for divine 
poetry saved him from utter dejection and wretchedness. And in 
some large sense, therefore, his troubles were well for him; and for 
ourselves, for without them we should not have the Plays. And hence 

we read: 

Miranda. O, the Heavens ! 

What foul play had we, that we came from thence ? 

Or blessed was't we did ? 

Prospero. Both, both, my girl; 

By foul play, as thou sayst, were we heaved thence; 

But blessedly holp hither. 

And the leisure of the retirement to which Bacon was driven 
enabled him to perfect the Plays, whereas success would have ab- 
sorbed him in the trivialities of court life. And so Prospero says to 


Sit still, and hear the last of our sea-sorrow. 
Here in this island we arrived; and here 
Have I, thy schoolmaster, made thee more profit 
Than other princes can, that have more time 
For vainer hours, and tutors not so careful. 

And on the island is Ariel. Who is Ariel ? It is a tricksy 
spirit, a singer of sweet songs, "which give delight and hurt not; " 


a maker of delicious music; a secretive spirit, given much to hiding 
in invisibility while it achieves wondrous external results. It is 
Prospero's instrumentality in his magic; his servant. And withal it 
is humane, gentle and loving, like the soul of the benevolent philos- 
opher himself. If Pro-sper-o is Shake-^r, or, as Campbell says, 
" the superior genius who commands both Prospero and Ariel," then 
Ariel is the genius of poetry, the constructive intellectual power of 
the drama-maker, which he found pegged in the knotty entrails of 
an oak, uttering the harsh, discordant sounds of the old moralities, 
until he released it and gave it wings and power. And, like the 
maker of the Plays, it sings sweet songs, of which Ferdinand says: 

This is no mortal business, nor no sound 
That the earth owns. 

And, like the poet, it creates masks to work upon the senses of 
its audience — it is a play-maker. 

And there is one other inhabitant of the island — Caliban — 
A freckled whelp, hag-born. 

Who is Caliban ? Is he the real Shakspere ? He claims the 
ownership of the island. Was the island the stage, — the play- 
house, — to which Bacon had recourse for the means of life, when 
his fortune failed him; to which he came in the rotten butt of his 
fortunes, with his child Miranda, — the early plays? 

Shakspere, be it remembered, was at the play-house before 

Bacon came to it. Prospero found Caliban on the island. Caliban 

claimed the ownership of it. He says, "This island's mine." 

When thou earnest first, 
Thou strok'dst me, and made much of me; 
Would give me water with berries in't; and teach me how 
To name the bigger light, and how the less, 
That burn by day and night; and then I loved thee, 
And showed thee all the qualities of the isle, 
The fresh springs, brine springs, barren place and fertile. 

That is to say, Shakspere gave Bacon the use of his knowledge 
of the stage and play-acting, and showed him the fertile places 
from which money could be extracted. 

And do these lines represent Bacon's opinion of Shakspere? 

Abhorred slave, 
Which any print of goodness will not take, 
Being capable of all ill ! I pitied thee, 
Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour 


One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage, 
Know thine own meaning, but would gabble like 
A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes 
With words that made them known. 

And again he says — and it will be remembered Shakspere was 

alive when The Tempest was written : 

A devil, a born devil, on whose nature 
Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains, 
Humanly taken, all, all lost, quite lost; 
And as, with age, his body uglier grows, 
So his mind cankers. 

Prospero has lost his kingdom. He has had the leisure in the 
solitude of his "full poor cell" to bring Mira?ida to the perfection 
of mature beauty. The Plays are finished. 

[Bacon, after his downfall, in 1623, applied for the place of Pro- 
vost of Eaton; he says, " it was a pretty cell for my fortune."] 

When Miranda was grown to womanhood an accident threw 
Prospero's enemies in his power. A most propitious star shone 
upon his fortunes. His enemies were upon the sea near him. 
With the help of Ariel he raised a mighty tempest and shipwrecked 
those who had deprived him of his kingdom, and brought them 
wretched and half-drowned to his feet. He had always wished to 
leave the island and recover his kingdom; and, his enemies being 
in his power, he forced them to restore him to his rights. 

Is there anything in Bacon's life which parallels this story? 
There is. 

Bacon, like Prospero, had been cast- down. He desired to rise 
again in the state. And there came a time when he brought his 
enemies to his feet, in the midst of a tempest of the state, which he 
probably helped to create. And this very word tempest, so applied, 
is a favorite one with Bacon. He said, at the time of his downfall: 

When I enter into myself, I find not the materials for such a tempest as is now 
come upon me. 

In June, 1606, Francis Bacon was out of place and without in- 
fluence with the court, but he wielded great power in Parliament, 
of which he was a member, as a noble orator and born ruler of men. 
He had hoped that this influence would have secured him prefer- 
ment in the state. He was disappointed. Hepworth Dixon shows 
that, upon the death of Sir Francis Gawdy and Coke's promotion 


to the bench, Bacon expected to be made Attorney-General. But 
his malign cousin, Cecil, again defeated his just and reasonable 
hopes; and the great man, after all his years of patient waiting, 
had to step aside once more to make place for some small creature. 

But there is trouble in the land. King James of Scotland came 
down to rule England, and hordes of his countrymen came with, or 
followed after him, to improve their fortunes in the fat land of 
which their countryman was monarch. King James desired Parlia- 
ment to pass the bill of Union, to unite the Scots and English on 
terms of equality. His heart was set on this measure. But the 
English disliked the Scots. 

Hepworth Dixon says: 

Under such crosses the bill on Union fares but ill. Fuller, the bilious repre- 
sentative of London, flies at the Scots. The Scots in London are in the highest 
degree unpopular. Lax in morals and in taste, they will take the highest place at 
table, they will drink out of anybody's can, they will kiss the hostess, or her 
buxom maid, without saying "by your leave." ' 

We have reason to think that Ariel is at work, invisibly, behind 
the scenes raising the Tempest. Dixon continues: 

Brawls fret the taverns which they haunt; pasqnins hiss against them from the 
stage. . . . Three great poets, Jonson, Chapman and Jfarston, go to jail for a harmless 
jest against these Scots. Such acts of rigor make the name of Union hateful to the 
public ear. 

Let Hepworth Dixon tell the rest of the story: 

When Parliament meets in November to discuss the bill on Union, Bacon 
stands back. The King has chosen his attorney; let the new attorney fight the 
King's battle. The adversaries to be met are bold and many. . . . Beyond the 
Tweed, too, people are mutinous to the point of ivar % for the countrymen of 
Andrew Melville begin to suspect the King of a design against the Kirk. . . . 
Melville is clapped into the Tower. . . . Hobart (the new Attorney-General) goes 
to the wall. James now sees that the battle is not to the weak, nor the race to the 
slow. Bacon has only to hold his tongue and make his terms. 2 

Prospero has only to wait for the Tempest to wash his enemies 
to his feet. 

Alarmed lest the bill of Union may be rejected by an overwhelming vote, 
Cecil suddenly adjourns the House. He must get strength. . . . Pressed on all 
sides, here by the Lord Chancellor, there by a mutinous House of Commons, 
Cecil at length yields to his cousin's claim; Sir John Doderidge bows his neck, and 
when Parliament meets, after the Christmas holidays, Bacon holds in his pocket 
a written engagement for the Solicitor's place. 

1 Personal History 9/ Lord Bacon, p. 184. 2 Ibid., p. 1S3. 


The Tempest is past; the Duke of Milan has recovered hts 
kingdom; the poor scholar leaves his cell, at forty-six years of age, 
and steps into a place worth ^6,000 a year, or $30,000 of our 
money, equal to probably $300,000 per annum to-day. There is no 
longer any necessity for the magician to remain upon his poor 
desert island, with Caliban, and write plays for a living. He dis- 
misses Ariel. The Plays cease to appear. 

But Prospero, when he leaves the island, takes Miranda with 
him. She will be well cared for. We will see hereafter that " the 
works of the alphabet " will be "set in a frame," at heavy cost,, 
and wedded to immortality. 

The triumphant statesman leaves Caliban in possession of the 
island! He has crawled out from his temporary shelter: 

I hid me under the dead moon-calf's gaberdine, for fear of the storm. 

He will devote the remainder of his life to statecraft and phil- 
osophy. He will write no more poetry, 

For at his age 
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble 
And waits upon the judgment. 

But Prospero will not be idle. Like Bacon, he has great 

projects in his head. He says: 

Welcome, sir; 
This cell's my court; here have I few attendants 
And subjects none abroad: pray you, look in. 
My dukedom since you have given me again, 
I will requite you with as good a thing; 
At least bring forth a wonder to content ye, 
As much as me my dukedom. 

That is to say, relieved of the necessities of life, possessed of 
power and fortune he will give the world the Novum Organum, the 
new philosophy, which is to revolutionize the earth and lift up 

And yet, turning, as he does, to these mighty works of his 

mature years, he cannot part, without a sigh, from the labors of 

his youth; from the sweet and gentle spirit of the imagination — his 

"chick," his genius, his "delicate Ariel ": 

Why, that's my dainty Ariel: I shall miss thee ; 
But yet thou shalt have freedom. 

And then, casting his eyes backward, he exults over his mighty 


Graves, at my command, 
Have waked their sleepers; op'd, and let them forth 
By my so potent art. 

Indeed, a long and mighty procession ! Lear, Titus Andronicus, 
Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Marc Antony, Cleo- 
patra, Augustus Csesar, Timon of Athens, Cymbeline, Alcibiades. 
Pericles, Macbeth, Duncan, Hamlet, King John, Arthur, Richard II., 
John of Gaunt, Henry IV., Hotspur, Henry V., Henry VI., Richard 
III., Clarence, Henry VIII., Wolsey, Cranmer, Queen Katharine, 

and Anne Boleyn. 

But this rough magic 
I here abjure: and, when I have required 
Some heavenly music (which even now I do) — 

[that is to say, he retains his magic power a little longer to write 
one more play, this farewell drama, The Tempest] — 

To work mine end upon their senses that 
This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff, 
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, 
And, deeper than did ever plummet sound 
I'll drown my book. 

What does this mean ? Certainly that the magician had ended 
his work; that his rough magic was no longer necessary; that he 
would no longer call up the mighty dead from their graves. And 
he dismisses even the poor players through whom he has wrought 
his charm; they also are but spirits, to do his bidding: 

Our revels new are ended: these our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and 
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces. 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve; 
And like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on, and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep. 

And this play of The Tempest is placed at the very beginning 
of the great Folio of 1623, as an introduction to the other mighty 

And if this be not the true explanation of this play, where are 
we to find it? If Prosper is Shake-sper (as seems to be conceded), 
or the one for (pro) whom Shake-sper stood, what is the meaning 


of his "abjuring his magic," giving up his work and "drowning 
his book?" And what is that "wonder" he — the man of Strat- 
ford — is to bring forth after he has drowned his book: — some- 
thing more wonderful than Miranda — (the wonderful things) — and 
with which the dismissed Ariel is to have nothing to do ? And 
why should Shakspere drown his book and retire to Stratford, and 
write no more plays, thus abjuring his magic? Do you imagine 
that the man who would sue a neighbor for two shillings loaned; 
or who would sell a load of stone to the town for ten pence; or 
who would charge his guest's wine-bill to the parish, would, if he 
had the capacity to produce an unlimited succession of Hamlets, 
Lears and Macbeths, worth thousands of pounds, have drowned his 
book, and gone home and brewed beer and sucked his thumbs for 
several years, until drunkenness and death came to his relief? 

And is there any likeness between the princely, benevolent and 
magnanimous character of Prospero and that of the man of Strat- 
ford ? 

XIV. Kingcraft. 

Bacon believed in a monarchy, but in a constitutional mon- 
archy, restrained by a liberty-loving aristocracy, with justice and 
fair play for the humbler classes. 

He, however, was utterly opposed to all royal despotism. He 
showed, as the leader of the people in the House of Commons, 
that he was ready to use the power of Parliament to restrain the 
unlimited arrogance of the crown. He saw that one great obsta- 
cle to liberty was the popular idea of the divine right of kings. 
We can hardly appreciate to-day the full force of that sentiment 
as it then existed. Hence, in the Plays, he labors to reduce the 
king to the level of other men, or below it. He represents John as a 
cowardly knave, a truckler to a foreign power, a would-be murderer, 
and an altogether worthless creature. Richard II. is little better — 
a frivolous, weak-witted, corrupt, sordid, dishonest fool. 

He puts into his mouth the old-time opinion of the heaven-dele- 
gated powers of a king: 

Not all the water of the rough, rude sea 
Can wash the balm from an anointed king: 
The breath of worldly men cannot depose 
The deputy elected by the Lord: 


For every man that Bolingbroke hath press'd, 

To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown, 

Heaven for his Richard hath in heavenly pay 

A glorious angel ! then, if angels fight. 

Weak men must fall, for Heaven still guards the right ! 

And then the poet proceeds to show that this is all nonsense: 
that the " breath of worldly men " can, and that it in fact does 
depose him; and that not an angel stirs in all the vasty courts of 
heaven to defend his cause. 

And then he perforates the whole theory still further by making 
the King himself exclaim: 

Let's choose executors and talk of wills; 

And yet not so; for what can we bequeath 

Save our deposed bodies to the ground? 

Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's, 

And nothing can we call our own but death; 

And that small model of the barren earth, 

Which serves as paste and cover to our bones. 

For Heaven's sake let us sit upon the ground, 

And tell sad stories of the death of kings: 

How some have been depos'd, some slain in war, 

Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos'd; 

Some poison'd by their wives, some sleeping killed, 

All murder'd. For within the hollow crown 

That rounds the mortal temples of a king, 

Death keeps his court; and there the antic sits, 

Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp; 

Allowing him a breath, a little scene, 

To monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks; 

Infusing him with self and vain conceit; 

As if this flesh, which walls about our life, 

Were brass impregnable: and humored thus, 

Comes at the last, and, with a little pin, 

Bores through his castle walls, and, — farewell, king! 

Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood 

With solemn reverence; throw away respect, 

Tradition, form and ceremonious duty, 

For you have but mistook me all this while: 

I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief, 

Need friends. Subjected thus, 

How can you say to me — I am a king ! 

Surely this must have sounded strangely in the ears of a Lon- 
don audience of the sixteenth century, who had been taught to 
regard the king as anointed of Heaven and the actual viceregent of 
God on earth, whose very touch was capable of working miracles 
in the cure of disease, possessing therein a power exercised on 


earth aforetime only by the Savior and his saints. And the play 
concludes with the murder of Richard. 

And then comes Henry IV., usurper, murderer; and the poet 
makes him frankly confess his villainy: 

Come hither, Harry, sit thou by my bed; 

And hear, I think, the very latest counsel 

That ever I shall breathe. Heaven knows, my son, 

By what by-paths and indirect, crooked ways 

I met this crown. 

And yet he lives to a ripe old age, and establishes a dynasty on 
the corner-stone of the murder of Richard II. 

And we have the same lesson of contempt for kings taught in 

They told me I was everything. But when the rain came to wet me once, and 
the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, 
there I found them, there I smelt them out. 1 

And in The Tempest we have this expression: 

What care these roarers for the name of king?' 

Is not the moral plain: — that kings are nothing more than men; 
that Heaven did not ordain them, and does not protect them; and 
that a king has no right to hold his place any longer than he 
behaves himself? 

His son, Henry V., is the best of the lot — he is the hero-king; 
but even he rises out of a shameful youth; he is the associate of 
the most degraded; the companion of profligate men and women, 
of highwaymen and pick-pockets. And even in his mouth the 
poet puts the same declaration of the hollowness of royal preten- 
sions. King Henry V. says, while in disguise: 

I think the King is but a man as I am; the violet smells to him as it 
doth to me; the element shews to him as it doth to me; all his senses have 
but human conditions; his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears 
but a man/' 

We turn to Henry VI., and we find him a shallow, empty imbe- 
cile, below the measure even of contempt. 

In Richard III. we have a horrible monster; a wild beast; a liar, 
perjurer, murderer; a remorseless, bloody, man-eating tiger of the 

1 Lear, iv, 6. s Tempest, i, i. 3 Henry V., iv. i. 


In Henry VIII. we have a king divorcing a sainted angel, 
as we are told, under the plea of conscience, to marry a 
frivolous woman, in obedience to the incitements of sensual 

And this is the whole catalogue of royal representatives 
brought on the stage by Shakespeare ! 

And these Plays educated the English people, and prepared the 
way for the day when Charles I. was brought to trial and the 

If Bacon intended to strike deadly blows at the idea of divine 
right, and irresponsible royal authority, in England, certainly he 
accomplished his object in these "Histories" of English kings. It 
may be that the Reform he had intended graduated into the Revo- 
lution which he had not intended. He could not foresee Cromwell 
and the Independents; and yet, that storm being past, England is 
enjoying the results of his purposes, in its wise constitutional mon- 
archy: — the spirit of liberty wedded to the conservative forms of 

XV. Teaching History. 

But there is another motive in these Plays. They are teachers 
of history. It is probable that the series of historical dramas 
began with William the Conqueror, for we find Shakspere, in an 
obscene anecdote, which tradition records, referring to himself as 
William the Conqueror, and to Burbadge as Richard III. Then we 
have Shakespeare's King John. In Marlowe we have the play of 
Edward II Among the doubtful plays ascribed to the pen of 
Shakespeare is the play of 'Edward III. Then follows Richard II.; 
then, in due and consecutive order, Henry IV., first and second 
parts; then Henry V; then Henry VI, first, second and third parts; 
then Richard III; there is no play of Henry VII. {but Bacon writes 
a history of He?iry VII, taking up the story just where the play 
of Richard III leaves it); then the series of plays ends with 
Henry VIII,; and the cipher narrative probably gives us the whole 
history of the reign of Elizabeth. 

All these plays tended to make history familiar to the common 
people, and we find testimony to that effect in the writings of the 

X. *>- Or 


XVI. Patriotism. 

But there is another purpose transparently revealed in the Plays. 

It was to infuse the people with a sense of devotion to their native 

land. Speaking of national patriotism, Swinburne says: 

Assuredly, no poet ever had more than he (Shakespeare); not even the king of 
men and poets who fought at Marathon and sang at Salamis; much less had any 
or has any one of our own, from Milton on to Campbell and from Campbell to 
Tennyson. In the mightiest chorus of King Henry V. we hear the pealing ring of 
the same great English trumpet that was yet to sound over the battle of the Baltic. 1 

And the same writer speaks of 

The national side of Shakespeare's genius, the heroic vein of patriotism that runs, 
like a thread of living fire, through the world-wide range of his omnipresent spirit. J 

We turn to Bacon, and we find the same great patriotic inspira- 
tions. His mind took in all mankind, but the love of his heart 
centered on England. His thoughts were bent to increase her 
glory and add to her security from foreign foes. To do this he 
saw that it was necessary to keep up the military spirit of the 
people. He says: 

But above all, for empire and greatness, it importeth most that a nation do 
profess arms as their principal honor, study and occupation. ... No nation which 
doth not directly profess arms may look to have greatness fall into their mouths; 
and, on the other side, it is a most certain oracle of time that those nations that 
continue long in that profession (as the Romans and Turks principally have done) 
do wonders; and those that have professed arms but for an age have, notwith- 
standing, commonly attained that greatness in that age which maintaineth them 
long after, when the profession and exercise of arms hath grown to decay. 3 

And again he says: 

Walled towns, stored arsenals and armories, goodly races of horse, chariots of 
war, elephants, ordnance, artillery and the like; all this but a sheep in a lion's 
skin, except the dreed and disposition of the people be stout and war-like. 4 

We turn to Shakespeare, and we find him referring to English- 
men as 

Feared for their breed and famous by their birth. 

Here is the whole sentence. How exultantly does he depict his 

own country — " that little body with a mighty heart," as he calls 

it elsewhere: 

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle, 
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, 
This other Eden, demi-paradise, 
This fortress built by Nature for herself 

1 Swinburne, Study of Shak., p. 113. 3 Essay xxix, The True Greatness of Kingdoms. 

'Ibid., p. 73- "Ibid. 


Against infection and the hand of war; 

This happy breed of men, this little world, 

This precious stone set in the silver sea, 

Which serves it in the office of a wall, 

Or as a moat defensive to a house, 

Against the envy of less happier lands; 

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, 

This teeming womb of royal kings, 

Fear'd for their breed and famous by their birth, 

Renowned for their deeds as far from home 

(For Christian service and true chivalry), 

As is the sepulcher in stubborn Jewry 

Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's son; 

This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land, 

Dear for her reputation through the world. 1 

And again he speaks of England as 

Hedged in with the main, 
That water-walled bulwark, still secure 
And confident from foreign purposes.' 2 

And again he says: 

Let us be back'd with God, and with the seas, 
Which he has given for fence impregnable. 3 

And again he says: 

Which stands 
As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in 
With rocks unscalable and roaring waters, 4 


And again: 
And again: 

Britain is 
A world by itself. 5 

I' the w r orld's volume, 
Our Britain is as of it, but not in it; 
In a great pool, a swan's nest. 6 

And, while Shakespeare alludes to the sea as England's " water- 
walled bulwark," Bacon speaks of ships as the "walls" of Eng- 
land. And he says: 

To be master of the sea is an abridgment of a monarchy. 7 

And he further says: 

No man can by care-taking (as the Scripture saith) " add a cubit to his stature " 
in this little model of a man's body, but in the great fame of kingdoms and com- 
monwealths it is in the power of princes, or estates, to add amplitude and great- 
ness to their kingdoms; for by introducing such ordinances, constitutions and 
customs as we have now touched, they may sow greatness to their posterity and suc- 
cession; but these things are commonly not observed, but left to take their chance. s 

1 Richard II., ii, 1. 

4 Cymbeline, iii, 1. 

7 Essay, True Greatness 0/ Kingdoms. 

- King John, ii, 1. 

6 Ibid., iii, 1. 

8 Ibid. 

s jd Henry VI. , iv, 1. 

8 Ibid., iii, 4. 



And was he not, in these appeals to national heroism, "sowing 
greatness to posterity" and helping to create, or maintain, that warlike 
"breed" which has since carried the banners of conquest over a 
great part of the earth's surface? One can imagine how the eyes 
of those swarming audiences at the Fortune and the Curtain must 
have snapped with delight at the pictures of English valor on the 
field of Agincourt, as depicted in Henry V.; or at the representation 
of that tremendous soldier Talbot, in Henry VI. , dying like a lion 
at bay, with his noble boy by his side. How the 'prentices must 
have roared ! How the mob must have raved ! How even the 
gentlemen must have drawn deep breaths of patriotic inspiration 
from such scenes ! Imagine the London of to-day going wild over 
the work of some great genius, depicting, in the midst of splendid 
poetry, Wellington and Nelson ! 

But there are many other purposes revealed in these Plays. 

XVII. Dueling. 

The writer of the Plays was opposed to the practice of dueling. 

One commentator (H. T.), in a note to the play of Twelfth 

Night, says: 

It was the plainly evident intention of Shakespeare, in this play, to place the 
practice of dueling in a ridiculous light. Dueling was in high fashion at this 
period — a perfect rage for it existed, and a man was distinguished or valued in 
the select circles of society in proportion to his skill and courage in this savage 
and murderous practice. Our poet well knew the power of ridicule often exceeded 
that of the law, and in the combat between the valiant Sir Andrew Aguecheek and 
the disguised Viola, he has placed the custom in an eminently absurd situation. 
Mr. Chalmers supposes that his attention was drawn to it by an edict of James I., 
issued in the year 1613. From his remarks we quote the following: 

In Twelfth Night Shakespeare tried to effect by ridicule what the state was 
unable to perform by legislation. The duels which were so incorrigibly frequent 
in that age were thrown into a ridiculous light by the affair between Viola and 
Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Sir Francis Bacon had lamented, in the House of Com- 
mons, on the 3d of March, 1609-10, the great difficulty of redressing the evil of 
duels, owing to the corruption of man's nature. King James tried to effect what 
the Parliament had despaired of effecting, and in 1613 he issued "An edict and 
censure against private combats," which was conceived with great vigor, and 
expressed with decisive force; but whether with the help of Bacon or not I am 
unable to ascertain. 

There can be no question that the Proposition for the Repressing 
of Singular Co?nbats or Duels, in 1613, came from the hand of Bacon. 
We find it given as his in Spedding's Life and Works. 1 He pro- 
posed to exclude all duelists from the King's presence, because 

1 Vol. iv., p. 397. 


"there is no good spirit but will think himself in darkness, if he be 
debarred ... of access and approach to the sovereign." He also 
proposed a prosecution in the Star Chamber, and a heavy, irremiss- 
ible fine. A proclamation to this effect was issued by the King. 
We also have the "charge of Sir Francis Bacon, Knight, His Maj- 
esty's Attorney-General, touching duels, upon an information in 
the Star Chamber against Priest and Wright." After commenting 
on his regret that the offenders were not greater personages, Bacon 

Nay, I should think, my lords, that men of birth and quality will leave the 
practice, when it begins to be vilified, and come so low as to barbers, surgeons 
and butchers, and such base mechanical persons. 

In the course of the charge he says: 

It is a miserable effect when young men, full of towardness and hope, such as 
the poefs call aurora filii, sons of the morning, in whom the comfort and expecta- 
tions of their friends consisteth, shall be cast away and destroyed in such a vain 
manner. ... So as your lordships see what a desperate evil this is; it troubleth 
peace, it disfurnisheth war, it bringeth calamity upon private men, peril upon the 
state, and contempt upon the law. 

And in this charge we find Bacon using the same sort of argu- 
ment used by Shakespeare in Othello. 
Bacon says: 

There was a combat of this kind performed by two persons of quality of the 
Turks, wherein one of them was slain; the other party was convented before the 
council of Bassaes. The manner of the reprehension was in these words: 

How durst you undertake to fight one with the other? Are there not Chris- 
tians enough to kill? Did you not know that whether of you should be slain, the 
Joss would be the great Seigneour's? 

The writer of Shakespeare evidently had this incident in his 

mind, and had also knowledge of the fact that the Turks did not 

permit duels, when he put into the mouth of Othello these words: 

Why, how now, ho ! from whence ariseth this ? 
Are we turned Turks, and to ourselves do that 
Which Heaven hath forbid the Ottomites? 
For Christian shame ! put by this barbarous brawl ! ' 

Bacon secured the conviction of Priest and Wright, and pre- 
pared a decree of the Star Chamber, which was ordered read in 
every shire in the kingdom. 

And we find the same idea and beliefs in Shakespeare which 
are contained in this decree. He says: 

1 Othello, ii, 3- 


If wrongs be evil, and enforce us kill, 
What folly 'tis to hazard life for ill ! ' 
And again: 

Your words have took such pains, as if they labored 
To bring manslaughter into form, set quarreling 
Upon the head of valor; which, indeed, 
Is valor misbegot, and came into the world 
When sects and factions were but newly born. 2 

XVIII. Other Purposes. 

I might go on and give many other instances to show that the 
purposes revealed in the Plays are the same which governed Fran- 
cis Bacon. I might point to Bacon's disapprobation of supersti- 
tion, his essay on the subject, and the very effective way in which 
one kind of superstition is ridiculed in the case of the pretended 
blind man at St. Albans, in the play of Henry VI., exposed by the 
shrewdness of the Duke Humphrey. 

I might further note that Bacon wrote an essay against popular 

prophecies; and Knight notes 3 that the Fool in Lear ridicules these 

things, as in: 

Then comes the time, who lives to see 't, 
When going shall be used with feet. 4 

Says Knight: 

Nor was the introduction of such a mock prophecy mere idle buffoonery. 
There can be no question, from the statutes that were directed against these stimu- 
lants to popular credulity, that they were considered of importance in Shake- 
speare's day. Bacon's essay Of Prophecies shows that the philosopher gravely 
denounced what our poet pleasantly ridiculed. 

I might show how, in Love's Labor Lost, the absurd fashions of 
language then prevalent among the fastidious at court were mocked 
at and ridiculed in the very spirit of Bacon. I might note the fact 
that Bacon expressed his disapprobation of tobacco, and that no 
reference is had to it in all the Plays, although it is abundantly 
referred to in the writings of Ben Jonson and other dramatists 
of the period. I might refer to Bacon's disapprobation of the 
superstition connected with wedding-rings, and to the fact that 
no wedding-ring is ever referred to in the Plays. These are 
little things in themselves, but they are cumulative as matters of 

1 Titus Andronicus, iii, 5. 2 Ibid. 3 Notes of act iii of Lear, p. 440. 4 Act iii, scene 2. 


In conclusion, I would call attention to the fact that nowhere 
in the Plays is vice or wickedness made admirable. Even in the 
case of old Sir John Falstaff, whose wit was as keen, sententious 
and profound as Bacon's own Essays; even in his case we see him, 
in the close of 2d Henry IV., humiliated, disgraced and sent to 
prison; while the Chief Justice, representing the majesty of law and 
civilization, is lifted up from fear and danger to the greatest heights 
of dignity and honor. The old knight " dies of a sweat," and 
every one of his associates comes to a dishonored and shameful 

Lamartine says: 

It is as a moralist that Shakespeare excels. . . . His works cannot fail to ele- 
vate the mind by the purity of the morals they inculcate. They breathe so strong 
a belief in virtue, so steady an adherence to good principles, united to such a vig- 
orous tone of honor as testifies to the author's excellence as a moralist; nay, as a 

And everywhere in the Plays we see the cultured citizen of the 
schools and colleges striving to elevate and civilize a rude and 
barbarous age. The heart of the philosopher and philanthropist 
penetrates through wit and poetry and dramatic incident, in every 
.act and scene from The Tempest to Cymbeline. 



Some dear cause 
Will in concealment wrap me up awhile. 
When I am known aright, you shall not grieve 
Lending me this acquaintance. 

Lear, /V,j>. 

F Bacon wrote the Plays, why did he not acknowledge them ? 
This is the question that will be asked by many. 

I. Bacon's Social Position. 

What was Francis Bacon in social position ? He was an aristo- 
crat of the aristocrats. His grandfather had been the tutor of the 
King. His father had been for twenty years Lord Keeper of the 
Seal under Elizabeth. His uncle Burleigh was Lord Treasurer of 
the kingdom. His cousin Robert was Lord Secretary, and after- 
ward became the Earl of Salisbury. He also " claims close cousinry 
with Elizabeth and Anne Russell (daughters of Lord John Russell) 
and with the witty and licentious race of Killigrews, and with the 
future statesman and diplomatist Sir Edward Hoby." 1 

Francis aspired to be, like his father, Lord Chancellor of the 
kingdom. Says Hepworth Dixon: 

Bacon seemed born to power. His kinsmen filled the highest posts. The 
sovereign liked him, for he had the bloom of cheek, the flame of wit, the weight or 
sense, which the great Queen sought in men who stood about her throne. His 
powers were ever ready, ever equal. Masters of eloquence and epigram praised 
him as one of them, or one above them, in their peculiar arts. Jonson tells us he 
commanded when he spoke, and had his judges pleased or angry at his will. 
Raleigh tells us he combined the most rare of gifts, for while Cecil could talk 
and not write, Howard write and not talk, he alone could both talk and write. 
Nor were these gifts all flash and foam. If no one at the court could match his 
tongue of fire, so no one in the House of Commons could breast him in the race of 
work. He put the dunce to flight, the drudge to shame. If he soared high above 
rivals in his most passionate play of speech, he never met a rival in the dull, dry 
task of ordinary toil. Raleigh, Hyde and Cecil had small chance against him in 
debate; in committee Yelverton and Coke had none. . . . 

1 Hepworth Dixon, Personal History of Lord Bacon, p. 16. 



He sought place, never man with more persistent haste; for his big brain beat 
with a victorious consciousness of parts; he hungered, as for food, to rule and 
bless mankind. . . . While men of far lower birth and claims got posts and 
honors, solicitorships, judgeships, embassies, portfolios, how came this strong 
man to pass the age of forty-six without gaining power or place? 1 

And remember, good reader, that it is precisely during this 
period, before Bacon was forty-six, and while, as I have shown, he 
was " poor and working for bread," that the Shakespeare Plays were 
produced; and that after he obtained place and wealth they ceased 
to appear; although Shakspere was still living in Stratford and con- 
tinued to live there for ten years to come. Why was it that the fount- 
ain of Shakespeare's song closed as soon as Bacon's necessities ended? 
II. The Lawyers then the Play-Writers. 

Bacon took to the law. He was born to it. It was the only 

avenue open to him. Richard Grant White says — and, remember, 

he is no " Baconian " : 

There was no regular army in Elizabeth's time; and the younger sons of gen- 
tlemen not rich, and of well-to-do yeomen, flocked to the church and to the bar; 
and as the former had ceased to be a stepping-stone to power and wealth, while the 
latter was gaining in that regard, most of these young men became attorneys or 
barristers. But then, as now, the early years of professional life were seasons of 
sharp trial and bitter disappointment. Necessity pressed sorely or pleasure wooed 
resistlessly; and the slender purse wasted rapidly away while the young lawyer 
awaited the employment that did not come. He knew then, as now he knows, the 
heart-sickness that waits on hope deferred; nay, he felt, as now he sometimes feels, 
the tooth of hunger gnawing through the principles and firm resolves that partition 
a life of honor and self-respect from one darkened by conscious loss of rectitude, 
if not by open shame. Happy (yet, it may be, O unhappy) he who now in such 
a strait can wield the pen of a ready writer ! For the press, perchance, may afford 
him a support which, though temporary and precarious, will hold him up until he 
can stand upon more stable ground. But in the reigns of Good Queen Bess and 
Gentle Jamie there was no press. There was, however, an incessant demand for 
new plays. Play-going was the chief intellectual recreation of that day for all 
classes, high and low. It is not extravagant to say that there were then more new 
plays produced in London in one month than there are now in both Great Britain 
and Ireland in a whole year. To play-writing, therefore, the needy and gifted 
young lawyer turned his hand at that day as he does now to journalism. 

III. The Law-Courts and the Plays. "The Misfortunes of 

And the connection between the lawyers and the players was, 
in some sense, a close one. It was the custom for the great law- 
schools to furnish dramatic representations for the entertainment 

1 Hepworth Dixon, Personal History of Lord Bacon: 


of the court and the nobility. Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, as I 
have shown, made its first appearance, not on the stage of the 
Curtain or the Fortune theater, but in an entertainment given 
by the students of Gray's Inn (Bacon's law-school); and Shake- 
speare's comedy of Twelfth Night was first acted before the 
"benchers" of the Middle Temple, who employed professional 
players to act before them every year. We know these facts, as 
to the two plays named, almost by accident. How many more of 
the so-called Shakespeare Plays first saw the light on the boards 
of those law students, at their great entertainments, we do not 
know. 1 

We find in Dodslefs Old Plays a play called The Misfortunes of 
Arthur. The title-leaf says: 

Certaine Devises and Shews presented to her Majestie by the Gentlemen of 
Grave's-Inne, at her Highnesse Court in Greenewich, the twenty-eighth day of 
February, in the thirtieth year of her Majestie's most happy Raigne. At London. 
Printed by Robert Robinson. 1587.' 2 

Mr. Collier wrote a preface to it, in which he says: 

It appears that eight persons, members of the Society of Gray's Inn, were 
engaged in the production of The Misfortunes of Arthur, for the entertainment of 
Queen Elizabeth, at Greenwich, on the 28th day of February, 1587-8, viz.: 
Thomas Hughes, the author of the whole body of the tragedy; William Fullbecke, 
who wrote two speeches substituted on the representation and appended to the old 
printed copy; Nicholas Trotte, who furnished the introduction; Francis Flower, 
who penned choruses for the first and second acts; Christopher Yelverton, Francis 
Bacon, and John Lancaster, who devised the dumb-show, then usually accompany- 
ing such performances; and a person of the name of Penruddock, who, assisted 
by Flower and Lancaster, directed the proceedings at court. Regarding Hughes 
and Trotte no information has survived. . . . The " Maister Francis Bacon" 
spoken of at the conclusion of the piece was, of course, no other than (the great) 
Bacon; and it is a new feature in his biography, though not, perhaps, very promi- 
nent nor important, that he was so nearly concerned in the preparation of a play at 
court. In February, 1587-8, he had just commenced his twenty-eighth year. . . . 

The Misfortunes of Arthur is a dramatic composition only known to exist in 
the Garrick Collection. Judging from internal evidence, it seems to have been 
printed with unusual care, tinder the superintendence of the principal author. . . . 
The mere rarity of this unique drama would not have recommended it to our 
notice; but it is not likely that such a man as Bacon would have lent 'his aid 
to the production of a piece which was not intrinsically good; and, unless we 
much mistake, there is a richer and nobler vein of poetry running through it 
than is to be found in any previous work of the kind. ... It forms a sort of 
connecting link between such pieces of unimpassioned formality as Ferrex and 
Porrex, and rule-rejecting historical plays, as Shakespeare found them and left 

» Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Li/e 0/ Shak.. p. 128. 9 Hazlitt, vol. iv, p. 249. 


I will discuss this play and its merits at more length hereafter, 
and will make but one or two observations upon it at this time. 

1. It does not seem to me probable, if eight young lawyers 
were preparing a play for the court, and one of them was Francis 
Bacon, with his ready pen and unlimited command of language, 
that he would confine himself to "the dumb-show." It will be 
remembered that he wrote the words of certain masks that were 
acted before the court. 

And if it be true that this youthful performance reveals poetry 
of a higher order than anything that had preceded, is it more 
natural to suppose it the product of the mightiest genius of his 
age, who was, by his own confession, "a concealed poet," or the 
work of one Thomas Hughes, who never, in the remainder of his life, 
produced anything worth remembering? And we will see, here- 
after, that the poetry of this play is most strikingly Shakespearean. 

2. Collier says he knows nothing of Thomas Hughes and Nich- 
olas Trotte. Can Thomas Hughes, the companion of Bacon in 
Gray's Inn, and his co-laborer in preparing this play, be the same 
Hughes referred to in that line in one of the Shakespeare sonnets 
which has so perplexed the commentators — 

A man in hue, all hues in his controlling; — 

and which has been supposed by many to refer to some man of 
the name of Hughes? 

3. As to the identity of Nicholas Trotte there can be no ques- 
tion. He is the same Nicholas Trotte with whom Bacon carried 
on a long correspondence on the subject of money loaned by him 
to Bacon at divers and sundry times. 

But this is not the place to discuss the play of The Misfortunes 
of Arthur. I refer to it now only to show how naturally Bacon 
might drift into writing for the stage. As: 

1. Bacon is poor and in need of money. 

2. Bacon assists in getting up a play for his law-school, Gray's 
Inn, if he does not write the greater part of it. 

3. The Comedy of Errors appears at Gray's Inn for the first time, 
acted by Shakspere's company. 

4. It was customary for impecunious lawyers in that age to turn 
an honest penny by writing for the stage. 


Here, then, we have the man, the ability, the necessity, the cus- 
tom, the opportunity. Bacon and Shakspere both on the boards 
of Gray's Inn at the same time — one directing, the other acting. 

If The Misfortunes of Art Jutr was really Bacon's work, and if it 
was a success on the stage, how natural that he should go farther 
in the same direction. Poetry is, as Bacon tells us, a "lust of the 
earth" — a something that springs up from the mind like the rank 
growths of vegetation from the ground; it is, as Shakespeare says: 

A gum which oozes 
From whence 'tis nourished. 

We see a picture of the poet at this age in the description of 
Hepworth Dixon; it is not a description of a philosopher: 

Like the ways of all deep dreamers, his habits are odd, and vex Lady Anne's 
affectionate and methodical heart. The boy sits up late at night, drinks his ale- 
posset to make him sleep, starts out of bed ere it is light, or, may be, as the 
whimsy takes him, lolls and dreams till noon, musing, says the good lady, with 
loving pity, on — she knows not what! 1 

IV. Why he Seeks a Disguise. 

But if the poetical, the dramatical, the creative instinct is upon 
him, shall he venture to put forth the plays he produces in his own 
name ? No: there are many reasons say him nay. In the first place, 
he knows they are youthful and immature performances. In the 
second place, it will grieve his good, pious mother to know that he 
doth "mum and mask and sinfully revel." In the third place, the 
reputation of a poet will not materially assist him up those long, 
steep stairs that lead to the seat his great father occupied. And, 
therefore, so he says, "I profess not to be a poet." Therefore will he 
put forth his attempts in the name of Thomas Hughes, or any 
other friend; or of Marlowe, or of Shakspere, or of any other con- 
venient mask. Hath he it not in his mind to be a great reformer; 
to reconstruct the laws of the kingdom, and to recast the philoso- 
phy of mankind, hurling down Aristotle and the schoolmen from 
their disputatious pedestals, and erecting a system that shall make 
men better because happier, and happier because wiser in the 
knowledge of the nature which surrounds them ? Poetry is but a 
"work of his recreation" — a something he cannot help but yield to, 

1 Personal History 0/ Lord Bacon, p. 35. 


but of which he is half-ashamed. He will write it because he is 
forced to sing, as the bird sings; because his soul is full; because 
he is obeying the purpose for which he was created. But publish his 
productions? No. And therefore he "professes" not to be a poet. 
And, moreover, he is naturally given to secretiveness. There- 
was a strong tendency in the man to subterranean methods. We 
find him writing letters in the name of Essex and in the name of 
his brother Anthony. He went so far, in a letter written by him. 
in the name of his brother, to Essex, to refer back to himself as 
follow r s (the letter and Essex's reply, also written by hi?n, being 
intended for the Queen's eye): 

And to this purpose I do assure your Lordship that my brother, Francis Bacon, 
who is too wise (I think) to be abused, and too honest to abuse, though he be more 
reserved in all particulars than is needful, yet, etc.- 

And we positively know, from his letter to Sir John Davies, in 
which he speaks of himself as "a concealed poet," that he was the 
author of poetical compositions, of some kind, which he did not 
acknowledge, and which must certainly have gone about in the 
names of other men. And he says himself that, with a purpose to 
help Essex regain the good graces of the Queen, he wrote a sonnet 
which he passed off upon the Queen as the work of Essex. 

We remember that Walter Scott resorted to a similar system of 
secretiveness. After he had established for himself a reputation as 
a successful poet, he made up his mind to venture upon the com- 
position of prose romances; and fearing that a failure in the new 
field of effort might compromise his character as a man of genius, 
already established by his poems, he put forth his first novel, 
Waverly, without any name on the title-page; and then issued a 
series of novels as by "the author of Waverly." And in his day 
there were books written to show by parallel thoughts and expres- 
sions that Scott was really the author of those romances, just as 
books are now written on the Bacon-Shakespeare question. 

And who does not remember that the author of The Letters of 
Junius died and made no sign of confession ? 

Bacon doubtless found a great advantage in writing thus under 
a mask. The man who sets forth his thoughts in his own name 
knows that the public will constantly strive to connect his utter- 
ances with his personal character; to trace home his opinions to 



his personal history and circumstances; and he is therefore neces- 
sarily always on his guard not to say anything, even in a work of 
fiction, that he would not be willing to father as part of his own 
natural reflections. 

Richard Grant White says: 

Shakespeare's freedom in the use of words was but a part of that conscious 
irresponsibility to critical rule which had such an important influence upon the 
development of his whole dramatic style. To the workings of his genius under 
this entire unconsciousness of restraint we owe the grandest and the most delicate 
beauties of his poetry, his poignant expressions of emotion, and his richest and 
subtlest passages of humor. For the superiority of his work is just in proportion 
to his carelessness of literary criticism. . . . His plays were mere entertainments 
for the general public, written not to be read, but to be spoken; written as busi- 
ness, just as Rogers wrote money circulars, or as Bryant writes leading articles. 
This freedom was suited to the unparalleled richness and spontaneousness of his 
thought, of which it was, in fact, partly the result, and itself partly the condition. 1 

The Anatomy of Melancholy was first published, not in the name 
of the alleged author, Robert Burton, but under the nom de plume of 
"Democritus, Junior," and in the address to the reader the author 

Gentle reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know wh? 4 ar***c ,r 
personate actor this is that so insolently intrudes upon this common theater, to the 
world's view, arrogating another man's name. ... I would not willingly be 
known. . . . 'Tis for no such respect I shroud myself under his name; but in an 
unknown habit to assume a little more liberty and freedom of speech. 

We will see hereafter that there are strong reasons for believing 
that Francis Bacon wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy, and that in 
these words we have his own explanation of one of the many rea- 
sons for his many disguises. 

V. Low State of the Dramatic Art. 

But there was another reason why an ambitious young aristo- 
crat, and lawyer, and would-be Lord-Chancellor, should hesitate to 
avow that he was a writer of plays. 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

It must be borne in mind that actors occupied an inferior position in society, 
and that even the vocation of a dramatic writer was considered scarcely respectable} 

The first theater ever erected in England, or, so far as I am 
aware, in any country, in modern times, was built in London in 

1 Life and Genius of Shak., p. 220. » Halliwell-Phillipps. Outlines Life of Shak., p. 6. 


1575 — five years before Bacon returned from the court of France, 
and six years before he reached the age of twenty-one years. The 
man and the instrumentality came together. A writer upon the 
subject says: 

The public authorities, more especially those who were inclined to Puritanism., 
exerted themselves in every possible way to repress the performance of plays and 
interludes. They fined and imprisoned the players, even stocked them, and har- 
assed and restrained them to the utmost of their ability. ... In 1575 the players 
were interdicted from the practice of their art (or rather their calling, for it was not 
yet an art), within the limits of the city. 

The legal status of actors was the lowest in the country. 

The act of 14th Elizabeth, "for the punishment of vagabonds," 
included under that name "all fencers, bearwards, common players in 
interludes, and minstrels, not belonging to any baron of this realm." 

They traveled the country on foot, with packs on their backs, 
and were fed in the "buttery " of the great houses they visited. 

I quote: 

Thus in Greene's Never Too Late, in the interview between the player and 
Robert {i.e., Greene), on the latter asking how the player proposed to mend Rob- 
ert's fortune: 

" Why, easily," quoth he, "and greatly to your benefit; for men of my profes- 
sion get by scholars their whole living." 

" What is your profession?" said Roberto. 

" Truly, sir," said he, " I am a player." 

"A player!" quoth Roberto; "I took you rather for a gentleman of great 
living; for if by outward habit men should be answered [judged], I tell you, you 
would be taken for a substantial man." 

"So am I, where I dwell," quoth the player, "reported able at my proper 
cost to build a wind-mill. " 

He then proceeds to say that at his outset in life he was fain to carry his 
" playing fardel," that is, his bundle of stage properties, " a foot back; " but now 
his show of "playing apparel" would sell for more than ^200. In the end he 
offers to engage Greene to write plays for him, "for which you will be well paid r 
if you will take the pains." 

If the actors did not engage themselves as the servants of some 

great man, as "the Lord Chamberlain's servants," or "the Lord 

Admiral's servants," or " the Earl of Worcester's servants," they 

were liable under the law, as Edgar says in Lear, 1 to be "whipped 

from tything to tything, and stocked, punished and imprisoned; " 

for by the statute of 39 Elizabeth (1597) and 1st of James I. (1604), 

as I have shown, the vagabond's punishment was to be "stripped 

naked from the middle upward, and to be whipped until his body 

1 Act lii, scene 4. 


was bloody, and to be sent from parish to parish the next straight 
way to the place of his birth." 
Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

Actors were regarded at court in the light of menials, and classed by the pub- 
lic with jugglers and buffoons.' 

The play-houses were inconceivably low and rude. The Lord 
Mayor of London, in 1597, describes the theaters as : 

Ordinary places for vagrant persons, maisterless men, thieves, horse-stealers, 
whoremongers, cozeners, cony-catchers, contrivers of treason, and other idele and 
dangerous persons. - 

Taine says of Shakspere: 

He was a comedian, one of "His Majesty's poor players" — a sad trade, 
degraded in all ages by the contrasts and the falsehoods which it allows: still more 
degraded then by the brutalities of the crowd, who not seldom would stone the 
actors; and by the severities of the magistrates, who would sometimes condemn 
them to lose their ears. 3 

Edmund Gayton says, describing the play-houses: 

If it be on a holiday, when sailors, watermen, shoemakers, butchers and 
apprentices are at leisure, then it is good policy to amaze those violent spirits with 
some tearing tragedy, full of fights and skirmishes, as The Guelphs and Ghibelines, 
Greeks and Trojans, or The Three London Apprentices, which commonly ends in six 
acts, the spectators frequently mounting the stage and making a more bloody 
catastrophe among themselves than the players did. I have known, upon one of 
these festivals, . . . where the players have been appointed, notwithstanding their 
bills to the contrary, to act what the major part of the company had a mind to; 
sometimes Tamburlanc, sometimes Jugurth, sometimes The Jeiu of Malta, and 
sometimes parts of all these; and at last, none of the three taking, they were 
forced to undress, and put off their tragic habits, and conclude the day with 
The Merry Milkmaid. And unless this were done, and the popular humor 
satisfied, as sometimes it so fortuned that the players were refractory, the benches, 
the tiles, the laths, the stones, oranges, apples, nuts flew about most liberally; 
and as there were mechanics of all professions, who fell every one to his own 
trade, and dissolved an house in an instant and made a ruin of a stately 
fabric. 4 

Taine thus describes the play-houses of Shakspere's time: 

Great and rude contrivances, awkward in their construction, barbarous in their 
appointments; but a fervid imagination supplied all that they lacked, and hardy 
bodies endured all inconveniences without difficulty. On a "dirty site, on the banks 
of the Thames, rose the principal theater, the Globe, a sort of hexagonal tower, 
surrounded by a muddy ditch, on which was hoisted a red flag. The common 
people could enter as well as the rich; there were six-penny, two-penny, even 

1 Outlines Life of Shaft., p. 256. a City 0/ London MS. Outlines, p. 214. 

3 History of English Literature, book ii, chap, iv, p. 205. 
* Festivous Notes on Don Quixote, 1654, p. 271. 


penny seats; but they could not see it without money. If it rained, and it often 
rains in London, the people in the pit — butchers, mercers, bakers, sailors, appren- 
tices — received the streaming rain upon their heads. I suppose they did not trouble 
themselves about it; it was not so long since they began to pave the streets of 
London, and when men, like these, have had experience of sewers and puddles, 
they are not afraid of catching cold. 

While waiting for the piece, they amuse themselves after their fashion, drink 
beer, crack nuts, eat fruits, howl, and now and then resort to their fists; they have 
been known to fall upon the actors, and turn the theater upside down. At other 
times, when they were dissatisfied, they went to the tavern, to give the poet a hid- 
ing, or toss him in a blanket. . . . When the beer took effect, there was a great 
upturned barrel in the pit, a peculiar receptacle for general use. The smell rises, 
and then comes the cry, " Burn the juniper !" They burn some in a plate on the 
stage, and the heavy smoke fills the air. Certainly the folk there assembled could 
scarcely get disgusted at anything, and cannot have had sensitive noses. In the 
time of Rabelais there was not much cleanliness to speak of. Remember that 
they were hardly out of the Middle Ages, and that in the Middle Ages man lived 
on a dung-hill. 

Above them, on the stage, were the spectators able to pay a shilling, the ele- 
gant people, the gentlefolk. These were sheltered from the rain, and, if they 
chose to pay an extra shilling, could have a stool. To this were reduced the pre- 
rogatives of rank and the devices of comfort; it often happened that there were 
not stools enough; then they lie down on the ground; this was not a time to be 
dainty. They play cards, smoke, insult the pit, who give it them back without 
stinting, and throw apples at them into the bargain. 

The reader can readily conceive that the man must indeed have 
been exceedingly ambitious of fame who would have insisted on 
asserting his title to the authorship of plays acted in such theaters 
before such audiences. Imagine that aristocratic young gentle- 
man, Francis Bacon, born in the royal palace of York Place; an ex- 
attache of the English legation at the French court ; the son of a 
Lord Chancellor; the nephew of a Lord Treasurer; the offspring of 
the virtuous, pious and learned Lady Anne Bacon; with his head 
full of great plans for the reformation of philosophy, law and 
government; and with his eye fixed on the chair his father had 
occupied for twenty years: — imagine him, I say, insisting that 
his name should appear on the play-bills as the poet who wrote 
Mucedorus, Tamburlaiie, The Jew of Malta, Titus Andronicus. Fair 
Em, Sir John Oldcastle, or The Merry Devil of Edmonton! Imagine 
the drunken, howling mob of Calibans hunting through Gray's 
Inn to find the son of the Lord Chancellor, in the midst 
of his noble friends, to whip him, or toss him in a blanket, 
because, forsooth, his last play had not pleased their royal 


VI. Sharing in the Profits of the Play-House. 

But suppose behind all this there was another and a more ter- 
rible consideration. 

Suppose this young nobleman had eked out his miserable 
income by writing plays to sell to the theaters. Suppose it was known 
that he had his " second " and ii third nights; " that he put into his 
pocket the sweaty pennies of that stinking mob of hoodlums, 
sailors, 'prentices, thieves, rowdies and prostitutes; and that 
he had used the funds so obtained to enable him to keep up his 
standing with my Lord of Southampton, and my Earl of Essex, and 
their associates, as a gentleman among gentlemen. Think of it ! 

And this in England, three hundred years ago, when the line of 
caste was almost as deep and black between the gentlemen and 
" the mutable, rank-scented many," as it is to-day in India between 
the Brahmin and the Pariah. Why, to this hour, I am told, there is 
an almost impassable gulf between the nobleman and the trades- 
man of great Britain. Then, as Burton says in The Anatomy of 
Melancholy, " idleness was the mark of nobility." To earn money 
in any kind of trade was despicable. To have earned it by sharing 
in the pennies and shillings taken in at the door, or on the stage of 
the play-house, would have been utterly damnable in any gentle- 
man. It would have involved a loss of social position worse than 
death. One will have to read Thackeray's story of Miss Shunt's 
Husband to find a parallel for it. 

VII. Political Considerations. 

But we have seen that the hiring of actors of Shakspere's com- 
pany to perform the play of Richard II. , by the followers of the 
Earl of Essex, the day before the attempt to " rase the city " and 
seize the person of the Queen (even as Monmouth seized the person 
of Richard II.), and compel a deposition by like means, was one of 
the counts in the indictment against Essex, which cost him his 
head. In other words, the intent of the play was treasonable, and 
was so understood at the time. " Know you not," said Queen 
Elizabeth, "that/ am Richard II.?" And I have shown good 
reason to believe that all the historical Plays, to say nothing of 
Julius Ccesar, were written with intent to popularize rebellion 
against tyrants. 


"The poor player," Will Shakspere, might have written such 
plays solely for the pence and shillings there were in them, for he had 
nothing to do with politics: — he was a legal vagabond, a "vassal 
actor," a social outcast; but if Francis Bacon, the able and ambitious 
Francis Bacon, the rival of Cecil, the friend of Southampton and 
Essex; the lawyer, politician, member of Parliament, courtier, be- 
longing to the party that desired to bring in the Scotch King and 
drive the aged Queen from the throne — if he had acknowledged the 
authorship of the Plays, the inference would have been irresistible in 
the mind of the court, that these horrible burlesques and travesties 
of royalty were written with malice and settled intent to bring mon- 
archy into contempt and justify the aristocracy in revolution. 

VIII. Another Reason. 

But it must be further remembered that while Bacon lived the 
Shakespeare Plays were not esteemed as they are now. Then they 
were simply successful dramas; they drew great audiences; they 
filled the pockets of manager and actors. Leonard Digges, in the 
verses prefixed to the edition of 1640, says that when Jonson's 
"Fox and Subtle Alchymist" 

Have scarce defrayed the sea-coal fire 
And door-keepers: when, let but Falstaff come, 
Hal, Poins, the rest — you scarce shall have room, 
All is so pestered: let but Beatrice 
And Benedick be seen, lo ! in a trice 
The cock-pit, galleries, boxes, all are full, 
To hear Malvolio, that cross-gartered gull. 

There was no man in that age, except the author of them, who 

rated the Shakespeare Plays at their true value. They were admired 

for "the facetious grace of the writing," but the world had not yet 

advanced far enough in culture and civilization to recognize them 

as the great store-houses of the world's thought. Hence there was 

not then the same incentive to acknowledge them that there would 

be to-day. 

IX. Still Another Reason. 

If Francis Bacon had died full of years and honors, I can con- 
ceive how, from the height of preeminent success, he might have 
fronted the prejudices of the age, and acknowledged these children 
of his brain. 


But the last years of his life were years of dishonor. He had 
been cast down from the place of Lord Chancellor for bribery, for 
selling justice for money. He had been sentenced to prison; he 
held his liberty by the King's grace. He was denied access to the 
•court. He was a ruined man, " a very subject of pity," as he says 

For a man thus living under a cloud to have said, " In my 
youth I wrote plays for the stage; I wrote them for money; I used 
Shakspere as a mask; I divided with him the money taken in at 
the gate of the play-houses from the scum and refuse of London," 
would only have invited upon his head greater ignominy and dis- 
grace. He had a wife; he had relatives, a proud and aristocratic 
breed. He sought to be the Aristotle of a new philosophy. Such 
an avowal would have smirched the Novum Organum and the Ad- 
vancement of Learning; it would have blotted and blurred the bright 
and dancing light of that torch which he had kindled for posterity. 
He would have had to explain his, no doubt countless, denials 
made years before, that he had had anything to do with the Plays. 

And why should he acknowledge them? He left his fame and 
good name to his "own countrymen after some time be past ;" he 
believed the cipher, which he had so laboriously inserted in the 
Plays, would be found out. He would obtain all the glory for his 
name in that distant future when he would not hear the re- 
proaches of caste; when, as pure spirit, he might look down from 
space, and see the winged-goodness which he had created, passing, 
on pinions of persistent purpose, through all the world, from gener- 
ation to generation. In that age, when his body was dust; when 
cousins and kin were ashes; when Shakspere had moldered into 
nothingness, beneath the protection of his own barbarous curse; 
when not a trace could be found of the bones of Elizabeth or 
James, or even of the stones of the Curtain or the Blackfriars: 
then, in a new world, a brighter world, a greater world, a better 
world, — to which his own age would be but as a faint and per- 
turbed remembrance, — he would be married anew to his immortal 
works. He would live again, triumphant, over Burleigh and Cecil, 
over Coke and Buckingham; over parasites and courtiers, over 
tricksters and panderers: — the magnificent victory of genius over 
power; of mind over time. And so living, he would live forever. 


Lapped in proof, 
Confronted him with self-comparisons. 

Macbeth, f, 2. 

WE sometimes call, in law, an instrument between two parties 
an indenture. Why ? Because it was once the custom to 
write a deed or contract in duplicate, on a long sheet of paper or 
parchment, and then cut them apart upon an irregular or indented 
line. If, thereafter, any dispute arose as to whether one was the 
equivalent of the other, the edges, where they were divided, were 
put together to see if they precisely matched. If they did not, it 
followed that some fraud had somewhere been practiced. 

Truth, in like manner, is serrated, and its indentations fit into 
all other truth. If two alleged truths do not thus dovetail into 
each other, along the line where they approximate, then one of 
them is not the truth, but an error or a fraud. 

Let us see, therefore, if, upon a multitude of minor points, the 
allegation that Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespeare Plays fits its 
indentations — its teeth — precisely into what we know of Bacon 
and Shakspere. 

In treating these questions, I shall necessarily have to be as 
brief as possible. 

I. The Question of Time. 

Does the biography of Bacon accord with the chronology of 
the Plays? 

Bacon was born in York House, or Palace, on the Strand, Janu- 
ary 22, 1 56 1. William Shakspere was born at Stratford-on-Avon, 
April 23, 1564. Bacon died in the spring of 1626. Shakspere in the 
spring of 16 16. The lives of the two men were therefore parallel; but 
Bacon was three years the elder, and survived Shakspere ten years. 

Bacon's mental activity began at an early age. He was study- 
ing the nature of echoes at a time when other children are playing. 



At twelve he outstripped his home tutors and was sent to join his 
brother Anthony, two years his senior, at Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge. At eighteen Hilliard paints his portrait and inscribes 
upon it, "if one could but paint his mind." We will hereafter see 
reasons to believe that there is extant a whole body of compositions 
written before he was twenty-one years of age. At about twenty 
he summarizes the political condition of Europe with the hand of 
a statesman. 

II. Plays before Shakspere Comes to London. 

The Plays antedate the time of the coming of Shakspere to 
London, which it is generally agreed was in 1587. 

That high authority, Richard Simpson, in his School of Shake- 
speare? in his article, " The Early Authorship of Shakespeare 2 " and 
in Notes and Queries? shows that the Shakespeare Plays commenced 
to appear in iffy ! That is to say, while Shakspere was still living in 
Stratford — in the year the twins were born ! We are therefore to 
believe that in that "bookless neighborhood" the butcher's ap- 
prentice was, between his whippings, writing plays for the stage ! 
Here are miracles indeed. 

In 1585 Robert Greene both registered and published his Plane- 
tomachia, and in this work he denounces M some avaricious player, 
. . . who, not content with his own province [of acting], should 
dare to intrude into the field of authorship, which ought to belong 
solely to the professed scholars" — like Greene himself. And from 
that time forward Greene continued to gibe at this same some- 
body, who was writing plays for the stage. He speaks of "gentle- 
men poets" in 1588, who set "the end of scholarism in an English 
blank verse; ... it is the humor of a novice that tickles them with 

Thomas Nash says, in an epistle prefixed to Greene's Arcadia, 

published, according to Mr. Dyce, in 1587: 

It is a common practice, now-a-days, amongst a sort of shifting companions, 
that run through every art and thrive at none, to leave the trade of noverint [lawyer], 
whereto they were born, and busy themselves with the endeavors of art, that could 
scarcely Latinize their neck-verse, if they should have need. Yet English Seneca, 
read by candle-light, yields many good sentences, as "blood is a beggar," and 
so forth; and if you entreat him fair, in a frosty morning, he will afford you whole 
Hamlets, I should say handfuls, of tragical speeches. 

1 Vol. ii, p. 342. " North British Review, vol. lii. '•' 4th scries, vol. viii. 


Here it appears that in 1587, the very year when Shakspere 
came to London, and while he was probably holding horses at the 
front door of the theater, the play of Hamlet, Shakespeare's own 
play of Hamlet^ was being acted; and was believed by other play- 
wrights to have been composed by some lawyer, who was born a 

And did not Nash's words, "if you entreat him fair of a frosty 
morning," allude to that early morning scene "of a frosty morning," 
where Hamlet meets the Ghost, for the first time, on the platform 
of the castle: 

Hamlet. The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold. 
Horatio. It is a nipping and an eager air. 

But this lawyer, who was born a lawyer, to whom allusion is 
made by Nash, so far from being a mere-horse-holder, was some- 
thing of a scholar, for Nash continues: 

But . . . what's that will last always ? Seneca let blood line by line and 
page by page, at length must die to our stage, which makes his [Seneca's] fam- 
ished followers . . . leap into a new occupation and translate two-penny pamphlets 
from the Italian without any knowledge even of its articles. 1 

We have seen that several of the so-called Shakespeare comedies 
were founded on untranslated Italian novels. Will the men who 
argue that Shakspere stood at the door of the play-house and held 
horses, and at the same time wrote the magnificent and scholarly 
periods of Hamlet, go farther and ask us to believe that the 
butcher's apprentice, the deer-stealer, the beer-guzzler, " oft- 
whipped and imprisoned," had, in the filthy, bookless village of 
Stratford, acquired even an imperfect knowledge of the Italian ? 

But Nash goes farther. He says: 

Sundry other sweet gentlemen I do know, that we [sic] have vaunted their pens 
in private-devices and tricked tip a company of taffaty fools with their feathers, whose 
beauty, if our poets had not pecked, with the supply of their perriwigs, they might 
have anticked it until this time, up and down the country with The King of 
Fairies and dined every day at the pease-poridge ordinary with Delfrigius. 

What does all this mean ? Why, that there were poets who 
were not actors, "sweet gentlemen*'' (and that word meant a good 
deal in 1587), who had written "private devices," as we know- 
Bacon to have written "masks" for private entertainments; and 
these gentlemen were rich enough to have furnished out a company' 

1 School of SJiak., vol. ii. p. 35S. 


of actors with feathers and periwigs, to take part in these private 
theatricals; and if the " gentlemen " had not pecked (objected?) 
the players would have anticked it, that is, played in this finery, all 
over the country. 

Hamlet says to Horatio, after he has written the play and had 
it acted and thereby "touched the conscience of the King: " 

Would not this, sir, and a f orest of feathers (if the rest of my fortunes turn 
Turk with me), with two provincial roses on my ragged shoes, get me a fellowship 
in a cry of players ? 

And three years after Nash wrote the above, Robert Greene 

refers to Shakspere as the only " Shake-scene in the country," and as 

"an upstart crow beautified with our feathers." 

III. A Pretended Play-Writer who Cannot Write 


Simpson believes that Fair Em was written by Shakspere in 


In 1587 Greene wrote his Farewell to Folly, published in 1591, in 
which he criticises the play of Fair Em and positively states that it 
was written by some gentleman of position, who put it forth in the 
name of a play-actor who was almost wholly uneducated. He 

Others will flout and over-read every line with a frump, and say 'tis scurvy, 
when they themselves are such scabbed lads that they are like to die of the fazion;* 
but if they come to write or publish anything in print, it is either distilled out of 
ballads, or borrowed of theological poets, which, for their calling and gravity 
being loth to have any profane pamphlets pass tinder their hand, get some other Batil- 
lus to set his name to their verses. Thus is the ass made proud by this underhand 
brokery. And he that cannot ivrile true English without the help of clerks of parish 
churches, will needs make himself the father of interludes. O, 'tis a jolly matter 
when a man hath a familiar style, and can endite a whole year and not be behold- 
ing to art ! But to bring Scripture to prove anything he says, and kill it dead with 
the text in a trifling subject of love, I tell you is no small piece of cunning. As, 
for example, two lovers on the stage arguing one another of unkindness, his mis- 
tress runs over him with this canonical sentence, "A man's conscience is a thou- 
sand witnesses;" and her knight again excuseth himself with that saying of the 
apostle, " Love covereth a multitude of sins." 2 

The two lines here quoted are from Fair Em: 

Thy conscience is a thousand witnesses. 3 

Yet love, that covers multitude of sins. 4 

1 A disease of horses, like glanders. 3 Sc. xvii, 1. 1308. 

■ School of Shak., chap, xi, p. 377. 4 Ibid., 1. 1271. 


What does this prove ? That it was the belief of Greene, who 
was himself a playwright, that Fair Em was not written by the 
man in whose name it was put forth, but by some one of " calling 
and gravity," who had made use of another as a mask. And that 
this latter person was an ignorant man, who could not write true 
English without the help of the clerks of parish churches. But 
Simpson and many others are satisfied that Fair Em was written 
by the same mind which produced the Shakespeare Plays ! But 
as the Farewell to Folly was written in 1587, and it is generally con- 
ceded that Shakspere did not commence to write until 1592, live 
years afterward, and as Shakspere w T as in 1587 hanging about the 
play-house either as a horse-holder or a " servitor," these words 
could not apply to him. We will see reason hereafter to conclude 
that they applied to Marlowe. But if they did apply to Shakspere, 
then we have the significant fact, as Simpson says, 

That Greene here pretends that Shakespeare could not have written the play 
himself; it was written by some theological poet, and fathered by him. 

And Simpson, be it remembered, is no Baconian. It has been 
urged, as a strong point in favor of William Shakspere's author- 
ship of the Plays, that his right to them was never questioned 
during his lifetime. If he wrote plays in 1587, then Greene did 
question the reality of his authorship, and boldly charged that he 
was an ignorant man, and the cover for some one else. If he did 
not write plays before 1592, — and a series of plays appeared between 
1585 and 1592 which the highest critics contend were produced by 
the same mind which created the Shakespeare Plays, — then the 
whole series could not have been produced by the man of Stratford- 
on-Avon; and if the first of the series of identical works was not 
written by him, the last of the series could not have been. The advo- 
cates of Shakspere can take either horn of the dilemma they please. 

Simpson thus sums up Greene's conclusions about Shakspere: 

That he appropriated and refurbished other men's plays; that he was a lack- 
latin, who had no acquaintance with any foreign language, except, perhaps, 
French, and lived from the translator's trencher, and such like. Throughout we 
see Greene s determination not to recognize Shakspere as a man capable of doing any- 
thing by himself. At first, Greene simply fathers some composition of his upon 
"two gentlemen poets," because he, in Greene's opinion, was incapable of writing 
anything. Then as to Fair Em, it is either distilled out of ballads, or it is written 
by some theological poet, who is ashamed to set his own name to it. It could not 
have been written by one who cannot -write English without the aid of a parish 


clerk. Then, at last, Greene owns that his rival might have written a speech or 
two, might have interpreted for the puppets, have indited a moral, or might be 
-yen capable of penning The Windmill — The Millers Daughter — without help, 
for so I interpret the words before quoted, "reputed able at my proper cost to 
build a windmill," but Greene will not own that the man is capable of having really 
done that which passes for his. 

And it seems to me the words, ''reputed able at my proper cost 
to build a windmill," do not refer to the play, but to the wealth of 
the player. 

IV. He Writes for Other Companies besides Shakspere's. 

We turn now to another curious fact, quite incompatible with 
the theory that the man of Stratford wrote the Plays. 

What do we know of him ? That when he fled to London he 
acted at first, as tradition tells us, as a horse-holder, and was then 
admitted to the play-house as a servant. And the tradition of his 
being a horse-holder is curiously confirmed by the fact that when 
Greene alludes to him as "the only Shake-scene in the country," he 
advises his fellow-playwrights to prepare no more dramas for the 
actors, because of the predominance of that "Johannes-factotum," 
Shake-scene, and adds: 

Seek you better masters; for it is a pity men of such rare wits should be sub- 
ject to the pleasure of such rude grooms. 

Certainly the man who had been recently taking charge of 
horses might very properly be referred to as a groom. 

But here we stumble upon another difficulty. Not only did 
plays which are now attributed to Shakspere make their appearance 
on the London stage while he was still living in Stratford, whipped 
and persecuted by Sir Thomas Lucy, and subsequently, while 
he was acting as groom for the visitors to the play-house, but at this 
very time, we are told, he not only supplied his own theater with 
plays, but, with extraordinary fecundity, he furnished plays to every 
company of actors in London! Tradition tells us that during his early 
years in the great city he was " received into the play-house as a 
serviture." Is it possible that while so employed — a servant, a 
menial, a call-boy — in one company, he could furnish plays to 
other and rival companies? Would his profits not have lifted 
him above the necessity of acting as groom or call-boy ? Simpson 



Other prominent companies were those of the Earl of Sussex (1589), the Earl 
of Worcester (1590), and the Earl of Pembroke (1592). For all these Shakspere can 
be shown to have written during the first part of his career. According to the well- 
known epistle annexed to Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, Shakspere, by 1592, had 
become so absolute a Johannes factotum, for the actors of the day generally, that 
the man who considered himself the chief of the scholastic school of dramatists 
not only determined for his own part to abandon play-writing, but urged his com- 
panions to do the same. ... It is clear that before ijq3 Shakspere must have 
been prodigiously active, and that plays wholly or partly from his pen must have 
been in the possession of many of the actors and companies. For the fruits of 
this activity we are not to look in his recognized works. Those, with few exceptions, 
are the plays he wrote for the Lord Chamberlain s men. . . . There are two kinds of 
Shaksperean remains which may be recorded, or rather assigned, to their real 
original author, by the critic and historian. First, the dramas prior to 1592, 
which are not included in his works; and secondly, the dramas over the production 
of which he presided, or with which he was connected as editor, reviser or 
adviser. 1 

And again Simpson says: 

The recognized works of Shakspere contain scarcely any plays bat those 
which he produced for the Lord Chamberlain's or King's company of actors. But 
in 1592 Greene tells us he had almost a monopoly of dramatic production, and had 
made himself necessary, not to one company, but to the players in general. It may 
be proved that he wrote for the Lord Strange's men, and for those of the Earl of 
Pembroke and the Earl of Sussex. - 

But while this distinguished scholar tells us that Shakspere was 
" prodigiously active prior to 1592," and supplied all the different 
companies with plays, we turn to the other commentators and 
biographers, and they unite in assuring us that Shakspere did not 
appear as an author until 1592 ! Halliwell-Phillipps fixes the exact 
date as March 3d, 1592, when a new drama was brought out by 
Lord Strange's servants, to-wit, Henry Vf. t "in all probability his 
earliest complete dramatic work." 

Here, then, is our dilemma: 

1. It is proved that Shakespeare did not begin to write until 

*59 2 - 

2. It is proved that there is a whole body of compositions 
written by the mind which we call Shakespeare, and which were 
acted on the stage before 1592. 

3. It is proved that Shakspere was a servant in or about one 

4. It is proved that while so engaged he furnished plays to rival 

1 School of Shak. % vol. i, p. 20— Introduction. 2 Ibid., vol. i, p. S. 


Is all this conceivable ? Would the proprietor of one theater per- 
mit his servant to give to other theaters the means of drawing the 
crowd from his own doors and the shillings from his own pocket? 

V. The Plays Cease to Appear Long before Shakspere's 


The poet Dryden stated, in 1680, that Othello was Shakespeare's 
last play. 

Dryden was born only fifteen years after Shakspere's death. 
He was himself a play-writer; a frequenter of play-houses; the 
associate of actors; he wrote the statement quoted only sixty- 
four years after Shakspere died; he doubtless spoke the tradition 
common among the actors of London. 

Now, it is well known that Othello was in existence in 1605, 
eleven years before Shakspere's death. Malone says, " We know it 
was acted in 1604." 

Knight says: 

Mr. Peter Cunningham confirms this, by having found an entry in the Revels 
at Court of a performance of Othello in 1604. ' 

We can conceive that it may have been the last of the great 
Shakespearean tragedies, The TemJ>estbeing the last of the comedies. 

Certain it is, however, that the Plays ceased to appear about 
the time Bacon rose to high and lucrative employment in the state, 
and several years before the death of their putative author. 

All the Plays seem to have originated in that period of time 
during which Bacon was poor and unemployed. Take even those 
which are conceded to belong to Shakespeare's "later period." 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

Macbeth, in some form, had been introduced on the English stage as early as 
1600, for Kempe, the actor, in his " Nine Daies' Wonder performed in a Daunce 
from London to Norwich," alludes to a play of Macdoel, or Macdobeth, or Afac- 
somewhaty for I am sure a Mac it was, though I never had the maw to see it. 2 

Hamlet, we have seen, first appeared, probably in some imperfect 
form, in 1585. Lear was acted before King James at Whitehall in 
the year 1606. 

Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

The four years and a half that intervened between the performance of The 
Tempest in 161 1, and the author's death, could not have been one of his periods of 

' Knight, introd. notice Othello. 2 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life of Shak., p. 291. 

CO Kit OB OKA TIA r G C 'lit C CMS TA A r CE S. 


great literary activity. So many of his plays are known to have been in existence 
at the former date, it follows that there are only six which could by any possi- 
bility have been written after that time; and it is not likely that the whole of 
those belong to so late an era. These facts lead irresistibly to the conclusion 
that the post abandoned literary occupation a considerable period before his 
decease. 1 

Knight says: 

But when the days of pleasure arrived, is it reasonable to believe that the 
greatest of intellects would suddenly sink to the condition of an every -day man — 
cherishing no high plans for the future, looking back with no desire to equal and 
excel the work of the past? At the period of life when Chaucer began to write the 
Canterbury Tales, Shakspere, according to his biographers, was suddenly and 
utterly to cease to write. We cannot believe it. Is there a parallel case in the 
career of any great artist who had won for himself competence and fame?' 2 

Here, therefore, is another inexplicable fact: Not only did 
Shakspere, as we are told, write plays for the London stage 
before he went to London; but after he had returned to Stratford, 
with ample leisure and the incentive to make money, the man who 
sued his neighbor for a few shillings, for malt sold, and who was, 
we are asked to believe, the most fecund of human intelligences, 
remained idly in his native village, writing nothing, doing nothing. 
Was there ever heard, before or since, of such a vast and laborious 
and creative mind, retiring thus into itself, into nothingness, — and 
locking the door and throwing away the key, — and vegetating, for 
from five to ten years, amid muck-heaps and filthy ditches ? Would 
the author of Lear and Hamlet — the profound, the scholarly phil- 
osopher — be capable of such mental suicide; such death in life; 
such absorption of brain in flesh; such crawling into the innermost 
recesses of self-oblivion ? Five or ten years of nothingness ! Not a 
play; not a letter; not a syllable; nothing but three ignorant-look- 
ing signatures to a will, which appears to have been drawn by a 
lawyer who thought the testator could not write his name. 

VI. The Sonnets. 

And in the so-called " Shakespeare Sonnets " we find a whole 
congeries of mysteries. The critical world has racked all its brains 
to determine who W. H. was — "the onlie begetter of these insuing 
sonnets;" and how any other man could "beget" them if they 
were Shakespeare's. Some one speaks of that collection of sonnets, 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines Life of Shak., p. 155. 2 Knight's Shak. Biography, p. 525. 


published in 1609, as "one of the most singular volumes ever 
issued from the press." Let us point at a few of its singu- 

Sonnet lxxvi says: 

Why is my verse so barren of new pride ? 

So far from variation or quick change ? 
Why, with the time, do I not glance aside 

To new-found methods and to compounds strange ? 
Why write I still all one, ever the same, 

And keep invention in a noted weed; 
That every word doth almost tell my name, 

Showing their birth and where they did proceed ? 

What is the meaning of this ? Clearly that the writer was 
hidden in a weed, a disguise; and we have already seen that Bacon 
employed the word weed to signify a disguise. But it is more than 
a disguise — it is a noted disguise. Surely the name Shakespeare was 
noted enough. And the writer, covered by this disguise, fears that 
every word he writes doth betray him; — doth " almost tell his 
name," their birth and where they came from. This is all very 
remarkable if Shakspere was Shakespeare. Then there was no 
weed, no disguise and no danger of the secret authorship being 

But we find Francis Bacon, as I have shown, also referring to a 

The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine 
eyes. I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart. I have, though in a despised 
weed, procured the good of all men. 

Marvelous, indeed, is it to find Shakespeare's sonnets referring 
to "a noted weed," and Bacon referring to "a despised weed" ! — 
that is to say, Shakespeare admits that the writer has kept inven- 
tion in a disguise; and Bacon claims that he himself, under a dis- 
guise, has procured the good of all men; and that this disguise was 
a despised one, as the name of a play-actor like Shakspere would 
necessarily be. 

But there is another incompatibility in these sonnets with 

the belief that William Shakspere wrote them. In Sonnet ex 

we read: 

Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, 

And made myself a motley to the view, 
Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear. 


And in the next sonnet we have: 

Oh, for my sake do you with fortune chide, 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, 
. That did not better for my life provide 

Than public means, which public manners breeds. 
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, 

And almost thence my nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand. 

These lines have been interpreted to "refer to the bitter feeling 
of personal degradation allowed by Shakespeare to result from his 
connection with the stage." 

But Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

Is it conceivable that a man who encouraged a sentiment of this nature, one 
which must have been accompanied with a distaste and contempt for his profession, 
would have remained an actor years and years after any real necessity for such a 
course had expired ? By the spring of 1602 at the latest, if not previously, he had 
acquired a secure and definite competence, independently of his emoluments as a 
dramatist, and yet eight years afterward, in 1610, he is discovered playing in com- 
pany with Burbadge and Heminge at the Blackfriars Theater. 1 

It is impossible that so transcendent a genius — a statesman, a 
historian, a lawyer, a philosopher, a linguist, a courtier, a natural 
aristocrat; holding the " many-headed mob " and " the base mechan- 
ical fellows" in absolute contempt; with wealth enough to free 
him from the pinch of poverty — should have remained, almost 
to the very last, a "vassal actor," liable to be pelted with decayed 
vegetables, or tossed in a blanket, and ranked in legal estimation 
with vagabonds and prostitutes. It is impossible that he should 
have continued for so many years to have acted subordinate parts 
of ghosts and old men, in unroofed enclosures, amid the foul 
exhalations of a mob, which could onlv be covered by the burning 
of juniper branches. 'Surely such a man, in such an age of unrest, 
when humble but ambitious adventurers rose to high places, would 
have carved out for himself some nobler position in life; or would, 
at least, have left behind him some evidence that he tried to do so. 

Neither can we conceive how one who commenced life as a 
peasant, and worked at the trade of a butcher, and who had fled 
to London to escape public whipping and imprisonment, could 
feel that his name " received a brand " by associating with Bur- 
badge and Nathaniel Field and the other actors. Was it not, in 

1 Outlines Life of Sfrak., p. no. 


every sense, an elevation for him ? And if he felt ashamed of his 
connection with the stage, why did he, in his last act on earth, the 
drawing of his will, refer to his "fellows," Heminge and Condell, 
and leave them presents of rings ? 

But all this feeling of humiliation here pictured would be 
most natural to Francis Bacon. The guilty goddess of his 
harmful deeds had, indeed, not provided him the necessaries 
of life, and he had been forced to have recourse to " public 
means," to-wit, play-writing; and thereby his name had been 
" branded," and his nature had been degraded to the level of 
the actors. 

We turn now to another point. 

VII. The Early Marks of Age. 

There are many evidences that the person who wrote the son- 
nets began to show the marks of age at an early period. The 
138th sonnet was published in 1599, in The Passionate Pilgrim, 
when William Shakspere was thirty-five years of age; and yet in it 
the writer speaks of himself as old: 

Although she knows my days are past the best . . . 

And wherefore say not I, that I am old? 
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust, 

And age in love loves not to have years told. 

And again he says in the 22d sonnet: 

My glass shall not persuade me I am old, 
So long as youth and thou are of one date. 

Again, in the 62d sonnet, he speaks of himself as 

Bated and chopped with tanned antiquity. 

And in the 73d sonnet he says: 

That time of year thou may'st in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 

Now, all this would be unusual language for a man of thirty- 
five to apply to himself; but it agrees well with what we know of 
Francis Bacon in this respect. 

John Campbell says: 

The marks of age were prematurely impressed upon him. 


He writes to his uncle Burleigh in 1591: 

I am now somewhat ancient; one and thirty years is a great deal of sand in 
the hour-glass. 1 

And again he says, about the same time: 

I would be sorry she [the Queen] should estrange in my last years, for so I 
account them reckoning by health, not by age.-' 

VIII. The Writer's Life Threatened. 

Then there is another passage in the sonnets which does not, so 
far as we know, fit into the career of the wealthy burgher of Strat- 
ford, but accords admirably with an incident in the life of Bacon. 
In the 74th sonnet we read: 

But be contented: when that fell arrest 

Without all bail shall carry me away, 
My life hath in this line some interest, 

Which for memorial still with thee shall stay. . . . 
The earth can have but earth, which is his due; 

My spirit is thine, the better part of me: 
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life, 

The prey of worms, my body being dea '»; 
The coward conquest of a wretch's knife, 

Too base of thee to be remembered. 

And again in the 90th sonnet we read: 

Then hate me if thou wilt, if ever now; 

■ while the world is bent my deeds to cross, 
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow 
And do not drop in for an after-loss: 

Ah ! do not, when my heart hath scaped this sorrow. 
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe. 

It seems to me the explanation of these lines is to be found in 
the fact that, after the downfall of Essex, Bacon was bitterly hated 
and denounced by the adherents of the Earl, and his life was even 
in danger from their rage. He writes to Queen Elizabeth in 1599: 

My life has been threatened and my name libeled, which I count an honor. 3 

Again he says to Cecil: 

As for any violence to be offered to me, wherewith my friends tell me I am 
threatened, I thank God I have the privy coat of a good conscience. 

He also wrote to Lord Howard: 

For my part I have deserved better than to have my name objected to envy or 
my life to a ruffian's violence. 

1 Letter to Burleigh. * Letter to Sir Robert Cecil. 

3 Letter to Queen Elizabeth, 1599 — Lift and Works, vol. ii, p. 160. 


IX. A Period of Gloom. 

We find, too, in the sonnets, reference to a period of gloom in 
the life of the writer that is not to be explained by anything we 
know of in the history of William Shakspere. He had all the world 
could give him; he had wealth, the finest house in Stratford, lands, 
tithes, and malt to sell; to say nothing of that bogus coat-of-arms 
which assured him gentility. But the writer of the sonnets (see 
sonnet xxxvii) speaks of himself as unfortunate, as " made lame by 
fortune's dearest spite," as "lame, poor and despised. " He is 
overwhelmed with some great shame: 

When in disgrace urith fortune and wen's eyes, 

I all alone beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries, 
And look upon myself and curse my fate. } 

And the writer had experienced some great disappointment. 

He says: 

Full many a glorious morning have I seen 

Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye, 
Kissing with golden face the meadows green, 

Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy; 
Anon permit the basest cloud to ride, 

With ugly rack on his celestial face, 
And from the forlorn world his visage hide, 

Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace; 
Even so my sun one early morn did shine, 

With all triumphant splendor on my brow; 
But out ! alack ! he was but one hour mine, 

The region cloud hath masked him from me now* 

And the writer is utterly cast down with his disappointment 
He cries out in sonnet lxvi: 

Tired of all these, for restful death I cry, 

As to behold desert a beggar born, 
And needy nothing trimmed in jollity, 

And purest faith unhappily forsworn, 
And gilded honor shamefully misplaced, 

And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted, 
And right perfection wrongfully- disgraced, 

And strength by limping sway disabled, 
And art made tongue-tied by authority, 

And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill, 
And simple truth miscalled simplicity, 

And capli?'e Good attending captain III — 

Tired with all these, from these I would be gone, 
Save that to die I leave my love alone. 

1 Sonnet xxix. 2 Sonnet xxxiii. 


All these words seem to me to fit into Bacon's case. He was in 

disgrace with fortune and men's eyes. He writes to Essex in 


And I must confess this very delay has gone so near me as it hath almost 
overthrown my health. ... I cannot but conclude that no man ever read a more 
exquisite disgrace. 1 

He proposed to travel abroad; he hopes her Majesty will not 

force him 

To pine here with melancholy, for though mine heart be good, yet mine eyes 
will be sore. ... I am not an impudent man that would face out a disgrace. 2 

The bright morning sun of hope had ceased to shine upon his 
brow. He "lacked advancement," like Hamlet; he had been over- 
ridden by the Queen. He despaired. He writes: "I care not 
whether God or her Majesty call me." In the sonnet he says: 

Tired of all these, for restful death I cry. 
And the grounds of his lamentation are those a courtier might 
entertain, but scarcely a play-actor. He beholds " desert " a beggar. 
Surely this was not Shakspere's case. He sees nothingness elevated 
to power; strength swayed by limping weakness; himself with all 
his greatness overruled by the cripple Cecil. He sees the state 
and religion tying the tongue of art and shutting the mouth of free 
thought. He sees evil triumphant in the world; " captive Good 
attending captain 111." And may not the " maiden virtue rudely 
strumpeted " be a reflection on her of whom so many scandals 
were whispered; who, it was said, had kept Leicester's bed- 
chamber next to her own; who had for so many years suppressed 
Bacon, and for whom, on her death, "the honey-tongued Melicert '* 
dropped not one pitying tear? 

X. An Incomprehensible Fact. 

Francis Bacon was greedy for knowledge. He ranged the 
whole amphitheater of human learning. From Greece, from Rome, 
from Italy, from France, from Spain, from the early English 
writers, he gathered facts and thoughts. He had his Promus, his 
commonplace-book, so to speak, of "formularies and elegancies" of 
speech. His acknowledged writings teem with quotations from the 
poets. And yet not once does he refer to William Shakspere or 

1 Letter to Essex, March 30, 1594. ' 2 Letter to Essex. 



the Shakespeare writings ! The man of Stratford acted in one of 
the Plays which go by his name, and on the same night, in the 
same place, was presented a " mask " written by Bacon. We 
thus have the two men under the same roof, at the same time, 
engaged in the same kind of work. Shakespeare, the play-writer, 
and Bacon, the mask-Writer, thus rub elbows; but neither seems 
to have known the other. 
Landor says: 

Bacon little knew or suspected that there was then existing (the only one that 
ever did exist) his superior in intellectual power. 

Bacon was ravaging all time and searching the face of the 
whole earth for gems of thought and expression, and here in these 
Plays was a veritable Golconda of jewels, under his very nose, and 
he seems not to have known it. 

XI. Bacon's Love of Plays. 

But it may be said that Shakspere moved in a lower sphere 
of thought, beneath the notice of the great philosopher. This 
cannot be true; for we have seen that Bacon certainly wrote 
" masks," which were a kind of smaller plays, and that he united 
with seven other young lawyers of Gray's Inn to prepare a veritable 
stage-play, The Misfortwies of Arthur; but, more than that, he was 
very fond of theatricals. 

Mrs. Pott says, speaking of the year 1594: 

The Calvinistic strictness of Lady Anne Bacon's principles receive a severe 
shock from the repeated and open proofs which Francis gives of his taste for stage 
performances. Anthony, about this time, leaves his brother and goes to live in 
Bishopsgate Street, near "Bull" Inn, where ten or twelve of the "Shakespeare" 
Plays were acted. Lady Anne "trusts that they will not mum, nor mask, nor 
sinfully revel at Gray's Inn." 

*Bacon's acknowledged writings overflow with expressions show- 
ing how much his thoughts ran on play-houses and stage-plays. I 
quote a few expressions, at random, to prove this: 

Therefore we see that there be certain " pantomimi " that will represent the 
voices of players of interludes so to life, as if you see them not you would think 
they were those players themselves. 1 

Alluding to "the prompter," or "book-holder," as he was then 
called, Bacon says of himself: 

1 Natural History ', §240. 


Knowing myself to be fitter to hold a book than to play a part.' 

Speaking of Essex' successes, he says: 

Neither do I judge the whole play by the first act. 9 

He writes Lord Burleigh that 

There are a dozen young gentlemen of Gray's Inn, that . . . will be ready to 
furnish a mask, wishing it were in their power to perform it according to their minds. 

In the De Aug mentis he speaks of " the play-books of philosophical 
systems" and "the play-books of this philosophical theater."'* 
He calls the world of art "a universe or theater of things." 4 
Speaking of the priest Simonds instructing Simnell to per- 
sonate Lord Edward Plantagenet, Bacon says: 

This priest, being utterly unacquainted with the true person, should think it pos- 
sible to instruct his player either in gesture or fashions. . . . None could hold the 
book so well to prompt and instruct this stage play as he could. . . . He thought 
good, after the manner of scenes in stage plays and masks, to show it afar off. 5 

Referring to the degradation of the royal pretender, Lambert 

Simnell, to a position in the kitchen of the King, Bacon says: 

So that in a kind of " matticina" of human force, he turned a broach who had 
worn a crown; whereas fortune does not commonly bring in a comedy or farce 
after a tragedy. 6 

Speaking of Warbeck's conspiracy, Bacon says: 

It was one of the longest plays of that kind that hath been in memory. 7 

And here I group together several similar expressions: 

Therefore, now, like the end of a play, a great many came upon the stage at once.'* 

He [Perkin Warbeck] had contrived with himself a vast and tragical plot. 9 

I have given the rule where a man cannot fitly play his own part, if he have 
not a friend he may quit the stage.™ 

But men must know that in this theater of man s life, it is reserved only for 
God and the angels to be lookers-on. 11 

As if they would make you like a king in a play, who, when one would think 
he standeth in great majesty and felicity, is troubled to say his part. ) % 

With which speech he put the army into an infinite fury and uproar, whereas 
trutli was he had no brother; neither was there any such matter, but he played it 
merely as if he had been upon the staged 3 

Those friends whom I accounted no stage friends, but private friends. 14 

1 Letter to Sir Thomas Bodley. 8 Ibid. 

2 Letter to Essex, Oct. 4, 1596. » Ibid. 

3 lxi, lxii. 1° Essay Of Friendship. 

4 History of Henry VII. M Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

5 Ibid. ,a Gesta Grayorum — Life and Works, vol. i, p. 339. 
* Ibid. 18 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

7 Ibid. l * Letter to Tobie Matthew. 


All that would be but a play upon the stage, if justice went not on in the right 
course. 1 

Zeno and Socrates . . . placed felicity in virtue; . . . the Cyrenaics and Epi- 
curians placed it in pleasure, and made virtue (as it is used in some comedies of 
errors, wherein the mistress and maid change habits) to be but as a servant.' 2 

We regard all the systems of philosophy hitherto received or imagined as so- 
many plays brought out and performed, creating fictitious and theatrical worlds? 

The plot of this our theater resembles those of the poetical, where the plots 
which are invented for the stage are more consistent, elegant and pleasurable than 
those taken from real history. 4 

I might continue these examples indefinitely, for Bacon's whole 
writings bubble and sparkle with comparisons drawn from plays, 
play-houses and actors; and yet, marvelous to relate, he never 
notices the existence of the greatest dramatic writings the world 
had ever known, which he must have witnessed on the stage a 
thousand times. He takes Ben Jonson into his house as an amanu- 
ensis, but the mightiest mind of all time, if Shakspere was Shake- 
speare, he never notices, even when he is uttering thoughts and 
preaching a philosophy identical with his own ! How can all this- 
be explained ? 

Mrs. Pott calls attention to the following: 

Beaumont and Fletcher dedicated to Bacon the mask which was designed to* 
celebrate the marriage of the Count Palatine with the Princess Elizabeth, February 
14, 1612-13. The dedication of this mask begins with an acknowledgment that 
Bacon, with the gentlemen of Gray's Inn, and the Inner Temple, had "spared no 
pains nor travail in the setting forth, ordering and furnishing of this mask . . . 
and you, Sir Francis Bacon, especially, as you did then by your countenance and 
loving affection advance it, so let your good word grace it, which is able to add 
value to the greatest and least matters." "On Tuesday," says Chamberlain, writ- 
ing on the i8thof February, 1612-13," it came to Gray's Inn and the Inner Temple's 
turn to come with their mask, %v hereof Sir Francis Bacon was the chief contriver." 
{Court and Times of James I., vol. i, p. 227; see Spedding, vol. iv, p. 344.) 5 

And we find Bacon writing an essay on Masques, in which he 
gave directions as to scenery, music, colors and trappings, and even 
speaks of the necessity of sweet odors " to drown the steam and 
heat " of the audience ! 

And he philosophizes, as I have shown, upon the drama, its 
usefulness, its purposes for good, its characteristics; and describes 
how, in a play, the different passions may be represented, and how 

1 Letter to Buckingham, 1619. 3 Novum Organum. 

a Advancement of Learning, book ii. 4 Ibid. 

5 Did J •')■ a nc is Bacon Write" Shakespeare" 7 part i, p. 8. 


the growth and development of any special feeling or passion may 
be shown; and Macaulay writes (as if it were a foot-note to the 
passage) this in reference to the Shakespeare Plays: 

In a piece which may be read in three hours, we see a character gradually 
unfold all its recesses to us; we see it change with the change of circum- 
stances. The petulant youth rises into the politic and war-like sovereign. 
The profuse and courteous philanthropist soars into a hater and scorner of his 
kind. The tyrant is altered by the chastisement of affliction into a pensive 

And this student of the drama, this frequenter of the play- 
houses, this writer of plays and masks, this sovereign and pene- 
trating intellect could not perceive that there stood at his elbow 
(the associate, " the fellow of his clerk, Jonson) the vastest genius 
the human race had ever produced ! This philosopher of prose 
could not recognize the philosopher of poetry; this writer of prose 
histories did not know the writer of dramatical histories; this 
writer of sonnets, this "concealed poet," this "greatest wit" of 
the world (although known by another name), took no notice of 
that other mighty intellect, splendid wit and sweet poet, who acted 
on the boards of his own law school of Gray's Inn ! It is incom- 
prehensible. It is incredible. 

And, be it further remembered, Shakespeare dedicated both the 
/ r enus and Adonis and The Rape of Luercce to the Earl of South- 
ampton, and the Earl was Bacon's particular friend and associate, 
and a member of his law school of Grays Inn ; and yet, while Shake- 
speare dedicates his poems to the Earl, he seems not to have 
known his friend and fellow, Francis Bacon. On the other hand, 
in the fact that Southampton was a student in Gray's Inn, we see 
the reason why the Shakespeare poems were inscribed to him, 
under the cover of the play-actor's name. 

I have faith enough in the magnanimity of mind of Francis 
Bacon to believe that if he had really found, in humble life, a man 
•of the extraordinary genius revealed in the Shakespeare Plays (sup- 
posing for an instant that they were not Bacon's work), he would have 
stooped down and taken him by the hand; he would have intro- 
duced him to his friends; he would have quoted from him in his 
writings, and we should have found among his papers numbers of 
letters to and from him. Their lives would have impinged on each 
other; they would have discussed poetry and philosophy in speech 


and in correspondence. Bacon would have visited Stratford, and 
Shakspere St. Albans. " Poets," said Ben Jonson, "are rarer births 
than kings;" and the man who wrote the Plays was the king of 
poets. Was Francis Bacon — "the wisest of mankind" — so blind 
or so shallow as to be unaware tff the greatness of the Shakespeare 
Plays? Who will believe it? 

XII. Certain Incompatibilities with Shakspere. 

Let me touch passingly on some passages in the Plays which 
it would seem that the man of Stratford could not have written. 

Who can believe that William Shakspere, whose father followed 

the trade of a butcher, and who was himself, as tradition assures us, 

apprenticed to the same humble calling, could have written these 

lines in speaking of Wolsey? 

This butcher' s cur is venom-mouthed, and I 
Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best 
Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar's book 
Outworths a noble's blood. 1 

Richard Grant White says: 

Shakespeare's works are full of passages, to write which, if he had loved his 
wife and honored her, would have been gall and wormwood to his soul; nay, 
which, if he had loved and honored her, he could not have written. The nature of 
the subject forbids the marshaling of this terrible array; but did the "flax-wench" 
whom he uses for the most degrading of comparisons ( Winter s Tale, i, 2) do 
more, "before her troth-plight," than the woman who bore his name and whom 
his children called mother? 2 

But Grant White fails to see that it is not a question as to- 
whether Shakspere loved and honored his wife or not. Even if he 
had not loved and honored her, he would, if a sensitive and high- 
spirited man, for his own sake and the sake of his family, have 
avoided the subject as if it carried the contagion of a pestilence. 

Again we are told, in all the biographies, that Shakspere was 
cruelly persecuted and punished by Sir Thomas Lucy, and "forced 
to fly the country," and that for revenge he wrote a bitter ballad 
against the Knight; and that subsequently, in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor, he made Sir Thomas the object of his ridicule in the 
character of Justice Shallow. But if this be true, why did the 
writer of the Plays in the 1st Henry VI. bring upon the stage the 
ancestor of this same Sir Thomas Lucy, Sir William Lucy, and 

1 Henry 1 '///., i. 1. * Life ami Genius of Shak., p. 51. 


paint him in honorable colors as a brave soldier and true patriot 
for the admiration of the public and posterity? But the son of 
Shakspere's Lucy, Sir Thomas Lucy, was the intimate friend and 
correspondent of Francis Bacon. 


XIII. Shakspere was Falstaff. 

But there follows another question. It is evident that Justice 
Shallow was intended to personate Sir Thomas Lucy, and the play 
of The Merry Wives of Windsor opens with an allusion to the steal- 
ing of his deer. I quote the beginning of the act: 

Shallow. Sir Hugh, persuade me not; I will make a Star Chamber matter of 
it; if he were twenty Sir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, 
Esquire. . . . 

Slender. . . . They may give the dozen white luces in their coat. 

The coat-of-arms of the Lucy family was three luces, and from this 
the name was derived. So that herein it is placed beyond question 
that Justice Shallow is intended to represent Sir Thomas Lucy. 
This is conceded by all the commentators. It is also conceded 
that the deer which in this scene Sir John Falstaff is alleged to have 
killed were the same deer which Shakspere had slain in his youth. 

Shallow. It is a riot. . . . 

Page. I am glad to see your worships well; I thank you for my venison, 
Master Shallow. 

Shallow. Master Page, I am glad to see you; much good do it your good 
heart. I wished your venison better; it was ill killed. . . . 

Enter Falstaff. 
Falstaff. Now, Master Shallow; you'll complain of me to the King? 
Shallow. Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer and broken open 
my lodge. 

Falstaff. Rut not kissed your keeper's daughter. 

Therefore it follows that if Shallow was Sir Thomas Lucy, and 
if the deer that were killed were the deer Shakspere killed, then 
Shakspere was Falstaff ! 

And if Shakspere wrote the Plays, he deliberately represented 
himself in the character of Falstaff. And what was the character 
of Falstaff as delineated in that very play ? It was that of a gross, 
sensual, sordid old liar and thief. The whole play turns on his 
sensuality united to sordidness. He makes love to Page's wife 
because "the report goes she has all the rule of her husband's 
purse; he hath a legion of angels." And Falstaff is also represented 

S*\\ BRA 47 
or THE 



as sharing in the thefts of his followers, as witness the following 

Falstaff. I will not lend thee a penny. 

Pistol. Why, then, the world's mine oyster, 
Which I with sword will open. 

Falstaff. Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you should lay my counte- 
nance to pawn: I have grated upon my good friends for three reprieves for you 
and your coach-fellow, Nym; or else you had looked through the grate like a 
geminy of baboons. I am damned in hell for swearing to gentlemen, my friends, 
you were good soldiers and tall fellows: and when Mistress Bridget lost the handle 
of her fan, I took 't upon mine honor thou hadst it not. 

Pistol. Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen pence? 

Falstaff. Reason, you rogue, reason: think'st thou I'll endanger my soul gratis ? 

Is it conceivable that the great man, the scholar, the philosopher, 
the tender-souled, ambitious, sensitive man who wrote the sonnets 
would deliberately represent himself as Falstaff? 

But if some one else wrote the Plays, then this whole scene con- 
cerning the deer-stealing contains, probably, a cipher narrative of 
the early life of Shakspere; for it is in the same play, as we shall 
see hereafter, that we find the cipher words William, Shakes, 
peere, and Francisco Bacon. And when we read the obscene anec- 
dotes which tradition has delivered down to us, touching Shak- 
spere's sensuality and mother-wit, and then look at the gross face 
represented in the monument in the Stratford church, we can 
realize that William Shakspere may have been the original of Fal- 
staff, and that it was not by accident he was represented as having 
killed the deer of that Justice Shallow who had the twelve white 
luces on his coat-of-arms. 

Richard Grant White, earnest anti-Baconian as he is, says of 
that bust: 

The monument is ugly; the staring, painted, figure-head-like bust hideous. 1 

It is the face of Falstaff. 

XIV. A Curious Fact. 

I proceed now to call the attention of the reader to a curious 
fact, revealed by a study of the copies of legal documents found in 
Halliwell-Phillipps' Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare. 

Shakspere purchased a house and lot in London, on the ioth 
day of March, 1612, "within the precinct of the late Black Fryers." 

1 England Without and Within, p. 521. 


It has puzzled his biographers to tell what he wanted this property 
for. All his other purchases were in Stratford or vicinity. He did 
not need it for a home, for before this time he had retired to Strat- 
ford to live in his great house, New Place; and in the deed of pur- 
chase of the Blackfriars property he is described as " of Stratford-on- 
Avon, gentleman." The house and lot were close to the Blackfriars 
Theater, and property was falling in the neighborhood because of 
that proximity. Shakspere rented it to one John Robinson. 

But there are three curious features in connection with this 

1. Shakspere, although very rich at the time, did not pay down 
all the purchase-money, but left ^60 standing upon mortgage, 
which was not extinguished until after his death. 

2. Shakspere bought the property from Henry Walker, minstrel, 
for ^140, while Walker in 1604 had bought it for ^£"100. This repre- 
sented an increase equal to §2,400 to-day. And yet we find the peo- 
ple of that vicinity petitioning in 1618-19 to have the theater closed, 
because of the great injury it did to property-holders around it. 

3. Walker's grantor was Matthew Bacon, of Grays Inn, in the 

county of Middlesex, gentleman, and included in the purchase was 

the following: 

And also all that plott of ground on the west side of the same tenement, which 
was lately inclosed with boordes, on two sides thereof, by Anne Bacon, widow, so 
farre and in such sorte as the same was inclosed by the said Anne Bacon and not 

Was this "Anne Bacon, widow," the mother of Francis Bacon? 
Her name w r as Anne. And who was Matthew Bacon, of Gray's 
Inn? Was he one of Francis Bacon's family? And is it not 
strange to find the names of Bacon and Shakspere coming together 
thus in a business transaction ? And does it not look as if Shak- 
spere had paid a debt to some one by buying a piece of property 
for $2,400 more than it was worth, and giving a mortgage for £60, 
equal to $3,600 of our money at the present time? 

XV. The Northumberland House Manuscript. 

There is one other instance where the name of Shakspere is 
found associated with that of Francis Bacon. 

In 1867 there was discovered in the library of Northumberland 
House, in London, a remarkable MS., containing copies of several 


papers written by Francis Bacon. It was found in a box of old 
papers which had long remained undisturbed. There is a title- 
page, which embraces a table of contents of the volume, and this 
contains not only the names of writings unquestionably Bacon's, 
but also the names of plays which are supposed to have been 
written by Shakespeare. But only part of the manuscript volume 
remains, and the portions lost embrace the following pieces enu- 
merated on the title-leaf: 

Orations at Graie's Inns revells 
.... Queen's Mats .... 

By Mr. Frauncis Bacon 
Essaies by the same author. 
Richard the Second. 
Richard the Third. 
Asmund and Cornelia. 
Isle of Dogs frmnt. 

By Thomas Nashe, inferior places. x 

How comes it that the Shakespeare plays, RicJuird J I. and 
Richard III., should be mixed up in a volume of Bacon's manu- 
scripts with his own letters and essays and a mask written by him 
in 1592 ? Judge Holmes says : 

And then, the blank space at the side and between the titles is scribbled all 
over with various words, letters, phrases and scraps of verse in English and Latin, 
as if the copyist were merely trying his pen, and writing down whatever first came 
into his head. Among these scribblings, beside the name of Francis Bacon 
several times, the name of William Shakespeare is written eight or nine times over. 
A line from The Rape of Lucrece is written thus: "Revealing day through every 
crannie peeps and," the writer taking peeps from the next couplet instead of 
spies. Three others are Anthony comfrt. and consort and honorificabilitudino 
and plaies [plays]. . . . The word konorificabilitudino is not found in any dic- 
tionary that I know of, but in Love's Labor s Lost} 

Costard, the clown, bandying Latin with the tall schoolmaster 
and curate (who "had been at a great feast of languages and 
stolen the scraps"), exclaims: 

Oh ! they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master 
hath not eaten thee for a word, for thou art not so long by the head as honorifca- 

Let those who are disposed to study this discovery turn to 
Judge Holmes' work. It is sufficient for me to note here, that 
in a collection of Bacon's papers, made undoubtedly by his aman- 

1 Holmes' Authorship of Shakcsfieare, vol. ii, p. 658, ed. 1886. s Ibid., 658-682. 

2 Act v, scene 1. 


uensis, plays that are recognized to be Shakespeare's are em- 
braced; and the name of Francis Bacon and the name of William 
Shakespeare (spelled as it was spelled in the published quartos, 
but not as the man himself spelled it) are scribbled all over 
this manuscript collection, and at the same time sentences and 
words are quoted from the Shakespeare Plays and Poems. 

And, while we find this association of the two names in Bacon's 
library and private papers, there is not one word in his published 
writings or his correspondence to show that he knew that such a 
being as William Shakspere ever existed. 

" Tis strange ; 'tis passing strange." 

XVI. Another Singular Fact. 

Edmund Spenser visited London in 1590, and in 1591 he pub- 
lished his poem, The Tears of the Muses, in which Thalia, the 
muse of poetry, laments that a change has come over the play- 
houses ; that 

The sweet delights of learning* s treasure ^ 

That wont with comic sock to beautify 
The painted theaters, and fill with pleasure 

The listeners' eyes and ears with melody, 

are " all gone." 

And all that goodly glee 
Which wont to be the glory of gay wits, 
Is laid a-bed; 

and in lieu thereof " ugly barbarism and brutish ignorance " fill 

the stage, 

And with vain joys the vulgar entertain. 

Instead thereof scoffing Scurrility 

And scornful Folly with Contempt is crept, 

Rolling in rhymes of shameless ribaldry 
Without regard or due decorum kept. 

And Spenser laments that the author, who formerly delighted with 
" goodly glee" and "learning's treasure," has withdrawn — is tempo- 
rarily dead. 

And he, the man whom Nature's self had made 

To mock herself and Truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter under mimic shade, 
Our pleasant Willy, ah ! is dead of late; 
With whom all joy and jolly merriment 
Is also deaded and in dolor drent. 


But that this was not an actual death, but simply a retirement 
from the degenerate stage, is shown in the next verse but one: 

But that same gentle spirit from whose pen 

Large streams of honey and sweet nectar flow, 
Scorning the boldness of such base-born men 
Which dare their follies forth so rashly throw, 
Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell 
Than so himself to mockery to sell. 

It is conceded by all the commentators that these lines refer 
to the writer of the Shakespeare Plays: there was no one else to 
whom they could refer. But there are many points in which 
they are incompatible with the young man William Shakspere, of 

In the first place, they throw back the date of his labors, as I 

have shown in a former instance, long anterior to the year 1592, at 

which time it is conceded Shakespeare first began to write for the 

stage. In 1590, the writer referred to by Spenser had not only 

written one, but many plays; and had had possession of the stage 

long enough to give it a cast and character, until driven out by 

the rage for vulgar satires and personal abuse. White says: 

The Tears of the Muses had certainly been written before 1590, when Shake- 
speare could not have risen to the position assigned by the first poet of the age to 
the subject of this passage; and probably in 1580, when Shakespeare was a boy of 
sixteen, in Stratford. 

In the next place, the man referred to by Spenser was a gentle- 
man. The word gentle in these lines is clearly contradistin- 
guished from base-born. 

That same gentle spirit . . . 
Scorning the folly of such base-born men. 

No one will pretend that the Stratford fugitive was in 1590 "a 

Shakspere, we are told, produced his dramas to make money; 

"for gain, not glory, he winged his roving flight. 1 ' Young, poor, 

just risen from the rank of horse-holder or call-boy, if not actually 

occupying it, it is not likely he could have resisted the clamors of 

his fellows for productions suitable to the degraded taste of the 

hour. But the man referred to by Spenser was a gentleman, a man 

of " learning," a man of refinement, and he 

Rather chose to sit in idle cell 
Than so himself to mockery to sell. 


The comparison of the poet to the refined student in his "cell " 
is a very inapplicable one to apply to an actor, be he Marlowe or 
Shakspere, daily appearing on the boards in humble characters, 
and helping to present to vulgar audiences the very obscenities and 
scurrilities of which Spenser complained. 

Again, if we examine that often-quoted verse: 

And he, the man whom Nature's self had made 

To mock herself and Truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter, under mimic shade, 

Our pleasant Willy, ah ! is dead of late. 

The word counter is not known to our dictionaries in any sense 
that is consonant with the meaning of these lines. I take it to be a 
poetical abbreviation of " counterfeit," and this view is confirmed 
by the further statement that this gentle-born playwright, who 
despised the base-born play-makers, imitated truth under a shade 
or disguise; and this disguise was a mimic one, to-wit, that of a 
mime — an actor. 

The name Willy in that day, as I have shown heretofore, was 
generally applied to all poets. 

XVII. Another Extraordinary Fact. 

It is sometimes said: How can you undertake to deny Shak- 
spere the honor of his own writings, when the Plays were printed 
during his life-time with his name on the title-page of each and 
every one of them ? 

This is a mistake. According to the list of editions printed in 
Halliwell-Phillipps' Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, p. 533 (and 
there is no better authority), it seems that the name of Shakespeare 
did not appear upon the title-page of any of the Plays until 1598. 
The Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece contained, it is true, 
dedicatory letters signed by Shakespeare; but the first play, Titus 
Andronicus, published in 1594, was without his name; the First Part 
of the Contention of the two Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, published 
in 1594; the Tragedy of Richard, Duke of Yorke, published in 1595; 
Romeo and Juliet, published in 1597; Richard LL., published in 1597, 
and Richard LLL., printed in 1597, were all without the name of 
Shakspere or any one else upon the title-page. It was not until the 
publication of Love's Labor Lost, in 1598, that we find him set forth. 


as having any connection with the play; and he does not then 
claim to be the author of it. The title-page reads: 

As it was presented before her Highness this last Christmas. Newly corrected 
and augmented by IV. Shakespere. 

In the same year the tragedy of Richard II. is published, and 
the name of "William Shake-speare " appears as the author. 

It thus appears that during the six years from 1592 to 1598 eight 
editions of plays which now go by the name of Shakespeare were 
published without his name or any other name upon the title-page. 

In other words, not only did the Shakespeare Plays commence 
to appear while Shakspere was still in Stratford, and were captiva- 
ting the town while the author was holding horses or acting as call- 
boy; but for six years after the Plays which are distinctively 
known as his, and which are embraced in the Folio of 1623, had 
won great fame and profit on the stage, they were published in 
numerous quarto editions without his name or any other name 
on the title-page. This is mystery on mystery's head accumulate. 

XVIII. When were the Plays Written ? 

But it will be argued by some that Francis Bacon had not the 
time to write the Shakespeare Plays; that he was too busy with 
politics, philosophy, law and statesmanship; that there was no time 
in his life when these productions could have been produced; and 
that it is absurd to think that he could act as Lord Chancellor and 
write plays for the stage at the same time. 

In the first place, it must be remembered that Francis Bacon 
was a man of extraordinary and phenomenal industry. One has 
but to look at the twenty volumes of his acknowledged writings to 
concede this. In illustration of his industry, we are told that he 
re-wrote his Essays thirty times ! His chaplain and biographer, Dr. 
Rawley, says: 

I myself have seen at the least twelve copies of the Instauration [meaning, says 
Spedding, 1 the Novum Qrganuni\, revised year by year, one after another, and 
every year altered and amended in the frame thereof, till at last it came to that 
model in which it was committed to the press; as many living creatures do lick 
their young ones, till they bring them to the strength of their limbs. . . . He 
would suffer no moment of time to slip from him without some present improve- 

1 JVorks, vol. i, p. 47, Boston ed. 



As the Novum Organum embraces about three hundred and fifty 
octavo pages of the Boston edition, the reader can conceive the 
labor required to re-write this twelve times. Let these things be 
remembered when we come to consider the vastly laborious cipher- 
story written into the Plays. 

But an examination of Bacon's biography will show that he 
had ample leisure to have written the Plays. 

In the spring of 1579, Bacon, then eighteen years of age, returned 
from Paris, in consequence of the death of his father. He resided 
for a year or more at St. Albans. In 1581, then twenty years old, 
he ''begins to keep terms at Gray's Inn." In 1582 he is called to 
the bar. For three years we know nothing of what he is doing. 
In 1585 he writes a sketch of his philosophy, entitled The Greatest 
Birth of Time, which, it is supposed, was afterwards broadened out 
into The Advancement of Learning. In 1585 the Contention between the 
two Houses of York and Lancaster is supposed to have appeared. In 
1586 he is made a bencher. He is "/// umbra and not in public or 
frequent action." "His seclusion is commented on." In this year, 
according to Malone, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen 
of Verona and Love 's Labor Lost appear, probably in imperfect forms, 
like the first of those thirty copies of the Essays. In 1587 (the 
year Shakspere is supposed to have come to London), Bacon helps 
in getting up a play, for the Gray's Inn revels, called The Misfor- 
tunes of Arthur. He also assists in some masks to be played before 
Elizabeth. Here certainly we have the leisure, the disposition and 
the kindred employment. In 1588 he becomes a member of Par- 
liament for Liverpool. He writes a short paper called an Adver- 
tisement Touching the Controversies of the Church. To this year 
Dr. Delius attributes Venus and Adonis and Mr. Furnival Love's L^abor 
Lost. Shakspere is, at this time, either holding horses at the door 
of the play-house or acting as call-boy, or in some other subordinate 
capacity about the play-house. In 1589-90 Bacon puts forth a letter 
to Walsingham, on The Government and the Papists. No one can 
tell what he is working at; and yet, knowing his industry and 
energy, we may be sure he is not idle; for in the next year he 
writes to his uncle Burleigh: 

I account my ordinary course of study and meditation to be more painful than 
most parts of action are. 


And again he says in the same letter: 

If your Lordship will not carry me on, ... I will sell the inheritance I have 
and purchase some lease of quick revenue, or some office of gain, that shall be 
executed by deputy, and so give over all care of service and become some sorry 
book-maker, or a true pioneer in that mine of truth which, Anaxagoras said, lay so 

In 1591 the Queen visits him at his brother's place at Twicken- 
ham, and he writes a sonnet in her honor. 
Mrs. Pott says: 

To 1 591 is attributed 1st Henry VI., of which the scene is laid in the same 
provinces of France which formed Bacon's sole experience of that country. Also 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (probably in its present form), which reflects 
Anthony's sojourn in Italy. Henceforth the "Shakespeare" Comedies continue 
to exhibit the combined influence of Anthony's letters from abroad, with Francis' 
studies in Gray's Inn. 1 

This 1st Henry VI. is the play referred to by Halliwell-Phillipps, 
as acted for the first time March 3, 1592, and as the first of the 
Shakespeare Plays. 

In 1592 Francis is in debt, borrowing one pound at a time, and cast 
into a sponging-house by a "hard " Jew or Lombard on account of 
a bond. His brother, Anthony, comes to his relief. Soon after 
appears The Merchant of Venice, in which Antonio relieves Bas- 
sanio. Does this last name contain a hint of Bacon, after the ana- 
grammatic fashion of the times? 

Dr. Delius attributes Romeo and Juliet to this date. 

In 1593 Bacon composes for some festive occasion a device, or 
mask, called A Conference of Pleasure. 

During all these years Bacon lives very much retired. He says, 
in 1594, he is "poor and sick and working for bread." What at ? 
He says, at another time, " The bar will be my bier." He writes his 
uncle Burleigh in 1595: 

It is true, my life hath been so private as I have no means to do your Lordship 

The Venus and Adonis appears in 1593, with a dedication from 
William Shakespeare to the Earl of Southampton, Bacon's fellow 
in Gray's Inn. When the fortunes of Bacon and Southampton 
afterward separate, because of Southampton's connection with the 
Essex treason, the poem is re-published without the dedication. 

1 Did Francis Bacon Write Shakespeare ? p. 14. 


In 1594 Lady Anne, Bacon's mother, is distressed about his de- 
votion to plays and play-houses. In 1590 she had written to Anthony, 
complaining of his brother's irregular hours and poet-like habits: 

I verily think your brother's weak stomach to digest hath been much caused 
and confirmed by untimely going to bed. and then musing nescio quid when he 
should sleep, and then, in consequence, by late rising and long lying in bed, 
whereby his men are made slothful and himself sickly. 1 

In 1594 Bacon begins his P ramus of Formularies and Elegancies, 
which has been so ably edited by Mrs. Pott, of London, 2 which 
fairly bristles with thoughts, expressions and quotations found in 
the Shakespeare Plays. It is clearly the work of a poet who is 
studying the elegancies of speech, with a view to increase his capac- 
ity for the expression of beautiful thoughts. It is not the kind of 
work in which a mere philosopher would engage. 

In this year 1594 "Shakespeare's" Comedy of Errors appears 
(for the first time), at Bacon's law school, Gray's Inn. In the same 
year Lucrece is published. In the same year Bacon writes a Device, 
or mask, which Essex presents to her Majesty on the "Queen's 
Day/' called The Device of an Indian Prince. In this year, also, 
Bacon is defeated by Cecil for the place of Attorney or Solicitor- 
General, and, as Dr. Delius thinks, the play of Richard III., in 
which the hump-backed tyrant is held up to the detestation of 
mankind, appears the same year ! 

In 1604 Bacon writes to Sir Tobie Matthew, speaking of some 
important matter, that he cannot recall what passed, "my head 
being then wholly employed upon invention" a word which he uses 
for works of the imagination. 

Here, then, we have the proof that the Plays appeared during 
Bacon's unemployed youth. No one pretends that he wrote plays 
while he was holding great and lucrative offices in the state. 

XIX. Some Secret Means of Income. 

And we have evidences in Bacon's letters — although they seem 
to have been gone over carefully and excised and garbled — that 
he had some secret means of support. 

In 1595 he writes Essex: 

I am purposed not to follow the practice of the law, and my reason is only 
because it drinketh too much time, which I have dedicated to better purposes. 

1 Lady Bacon to Anthony Bacon, May 24, 1590 — Li'fe and Works, vol. 1, p. 114. 
■ Bacon's Promns, by Mrs. Henry Pott. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 


Mr. Spedding says: 

It is easier to understand why Bacon was resolved not to devote his life to the 
ordinary practice of a lawyer, than what plan he had to clear himself of the diffi- 
culties which were now accumulating upon him, and to obtain means of living and 
working. What course he betook himself to at the crisis which had now arrived, 
I cannot possibly say. I do not find any letter of his which can possibly be assigned 
to the winter of 1596, nor have I met among his brother's papers with any tiling 
which indicates tvhat he was about. 

And two years before, in April, 1593, we find Bacon writing to 
the Earl of Essex thus: 

I did almost conjecture, by your silence and countenance, a distaste in the 
course I imparted to your Lordship touching mine own fortune. . . . And for the 
free and loving advice your Lordship hath given me, I cannot correspond to the 
same with greater duty than by assuring your Lordship that I will not dispose of 
myself without your allowance. . . . But notwithstanding I know it will be pleas- 
ing to your good Lordship that I use my liberty of replying, and I do almost 
assure myself that your Lordship will rest persuaded by the answer of those rea- 
sons which your Lordship vouchsafed to open. They were two; the one that I 
should include. . . . 

Mr. Spedding says: 

Here our light goes suddenly out, just as we are going to see how Bacon had 
resolved to dispose of himself at this juncture. 1 

Is it not very remarkable that this letter should be clipped off 
just at this point ? We are forced to ask, first, what was the course 
which he intended to take " touching mine own fortune ; " and 
secondly, if there was no mystery behind his life, why was this 
letter so emasculated ? 

And it seems he intimated to his mother that he had some 
secret means of obtaining money. Lady Bacon writes to Anthony 
at the same time, and in the same month and year: 

Besides, your brother told me before you twice, then, that he intended not to 
part with Markes [an estate], and the rather because Mr. Mylls would lend him 
^900; and, as I remember, I asked him how he was to come out of debt. His 
answer was that means would be made without that? 

Remember that it was not until January, 1598, that Bacon pub- 
lished the first of his acknowledged formal works, his Essays. And 
these were not the forty long essays we now have, but ten short, 
condensed compositions, which occupied but thirteen double pages 
of the original quarto edition. These, with a few brief papers, are 
the only acknowledged fruits we have to represent the nineteen years 

1 Life and Works, vol. i, p. 235. 'Ibid., p. 244. 


between the date of his return from Paris, in IS7<?, a?id the publication 
of his ten brief essays in January, Jjp<¥. 

What was that most fecund, prolific, laborious writer doing 
during these nearly twenty years? He was brimful of energy, 
industry, genius, mirth and humor: how did he expend it? What 
was that painful course of study and meditation which he under- 
went daily, as he told his uncle Burleigh ? 

Read what Hepworth Dixon says of him at the age of twenty-four: 

How he appears in outward grace and aspect among these courtly and martial 
contemporaries, the miniature by Hilyard helps us to conceive. Slight in build, 
rosy and round in flesh, dight in sumptuous suit; the head well set, erect, and 
framed in a thick, starched fence of frill; a bloom of study and of travel on the fat. 
girlish face, which looks far younger than his years; the hat and feather tossed aside 
from the broad, white brow, over which crisps and curls a mane of dark, soft hair; 
an English nose — firm, open, straight; mouth delicate and small — a lady's or a 
jester's mouth — a thousand pranks and humors, quibbles, ivhims and laughters lurking 
in its twinkling, tremulous lines. Such is Francis Bacon at the age of twenty-four. 1 

Is this the description of a dry-as-dust philosopher ? Is it not 
rather the picture of the youthful scholar, the gentleman, the wit, 
the poet, " fresh from academic studies." who wrote The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona and Lore's Labor Lost I 

In brief, the Shakespeare Plays are the fruits of Bacon's youth; 
for it is in youth he tells us that the imagination streams with 
divine felicity into the mind; while his philosophical works are the 
product of middle life. It is not until 1603, when Bacon was forty- 
two years of age, that he published the first of his scientific works, 
entitled Valerius Terminus; or, the Interpretation of Nature : with the 
Annotations of Hermes Stella. And who, we ask passingly, was 
"Hermes Stella"? Was Bacon, with his usual secretiveness, seek- 
ing another weed — another Shakspere ? Mrs. Pott says: 

There is something so mysterious about this strange title, and in the obscurity of 
the text itself as well as in the meaning of the astronomical and astrological sym- 
bols written on the blank outside of the volume, that Mr. Ellis and Mr. f Spedding 
comment upon them, but can throw no real light upon them. 

XX. Another Mystery. 

W. A. A. Watts, in a paper read before the Bacon Society of 
London while this work is going through the press, 2 calls attention 
to the striking fact that Ben Jonson, besides stating that Bacon 

1 Dixon's Personal History of Lord Bacon, p. 25. 

3 Journal 0/ the Baconian Society, Aug., 1887, p. 130. 


had "filled all numbers' and was "the mark and acme of our lan- 
guage," in a poem entitled "Underwoods," addressed to Bacon on 

his birthday, says: 

In the midst, 
Thou stand'st as though a mystery thou didst. 

This is certainly extraordinary. What was the mystery? Was 
it in connection with those "numbers" which excelled anything in 
Greek or Roman dramatic literature, and which were "the mark 
and acme of our language"? If not, what did Ben mean? 

XXI. Coke's Insults. 

We find all through that period of Bacon's life, between 1597 

and his accession to the place of Lord Chancellor, that he was the 

subject of a great many slanders. But while he alludes to the 

slanders, he is careful not to tell us what they were. Did they refer 

to the Shakespeare Plays ? Did they charge that he paid his debts 

with money taken in at the door of the play-house ? For we may 

be sure that among the actors there were whisperings which it 

would be difficult to keep from spreading abroad; and 

Thus comes it that my name receives a brand, 

And almost thus my nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand. 

But there has come down to us a letter of Bacon which gives 

us some account of the insults he was subjected to. In it Bacon 

complains, in 1601, to his cousin, Lord Secretary Cecil, that his 

arch-enemy, Mr. Attorney-General Coke, had publicly insulted him 

in the Exchequer. He tells that he moved for the reseizure of the 

lands of one George Moore, a relapsed recusant, fugitive and traitor 

He says: 

Mr. Attorney kindled at it and said: " Mr. Bacon, if you have any tooth against 
me pluck it out, for it will do you more hurt than all the teeth in your head will do 
you good." I answered coldly, in these very words: "Mr. Attorney, I respect 
you; I fear you not; and the less you speak of your own greatness the more will I 
think of it." 

He replied: " I think scorn to stand upon terms of greatness toward you, who 
are less than little; less than the least;" and other such strange light terms he gave 
me, with such insulting which cannot be expressed. Herewith I stirred, yet I said 
no more but this: " Mr. Attorney, do not depress me so far; for I have been your 
better, and may be again, when it please the Queen." With this he spake, neither 
I nor himself could tell what, as if he had been born Attorney-General; and in the 
end bade me not meddle with the Queen's business, but mine own. . . . Then he 
said it were good to clap a capias utlegatum upon my back ! To which I only said he 
could not, and that he was at fault; for he hunted upon an old sent. 


2 93 

He gave me a number of disgraceful words besides, which I answered with 
silence. 1 

And Bacon writes Cecil, evidently with intent to have him 
silence Coke. 

I will ask the reader to remember this letter when we come to 
the Cipher Narrative. It shows, it seems to me, that Cecil knew 
of something to Bacon's discredit, and that Coke, Cecil's follower, 
had heard of it and blurted it out in his rage in open court, and 
threatened Bacon with arrest; and Bacon writes to his cousin for 
protection against Coke's tongue. Spedding says the threat of the 
capias utlegatum may possibly have referred to a debt that Bacon 
owed in 1598; but what right would Coke have to arrest Bacon for 
a debt due to a third party, and which must have been paid three 
years before? And why should Bacon say "he was at fault." If 
Coke referred to the debt he was not " at fault," for Bacon cer- 
tainly had owed it. 

XXII. Conclusion. 

In conclusion I would say that I have in the foregoing pages 
shown that, if we treat the real author of the Plays, and Francis 
Bacon, as two men, they belonged to the same station in society, 
to the same profession — -the law; to the same political party and 
to the same faction in the state; that they held the same religious 
views, the same philosophical tenets and the same purposes in life. 
That each was a poet and a philosopher, a writer of dramatic com- 
positions, and a play-goer. That Bacon had the genius, the oppor- 
tunity, the time and the necessity to write the Plays, and ample 
reasons to conceal his authorship. 

I proceed now to another branch of my argument. I shall 
attempt to show that these two men, if we may still call them such, 
pursued the same studies, read the same books, possessed the same 
tastes, enjoyed the same opinions, used the same expressions, em- 
ployed the same unusual words, cited the same quotations and fell 
into the same errors. 

If all this does not bring the brain of the poet under the hat of 
the philosopher, what will you have? 

1 Spedding, Life and W'erks, vol. iii. p. 2. London : Longmans. 




As near as the extremest ends 
Of parallels. 

Troilus and Cressida, /, J. 

^I^HO does not remember that curious word used by Hamlet, 

» » to describe the coldness of the air, upon the platform where 

he awaits the Ghost: 

It is very cold. 
It is a nipping and an eager air. 1 

We turn to Bacon, and we find this very word used in the same 


Whereby the cold becomes more eager.' 1 

There is another strange word used by Shakespeare: 

Light thickens, 
And the crow makes wing to the rocky wood." 5 

We turn again to Bacon, and we find the origin of this singular 

For the over-moisture of the brain doth thicken the spirits visual. 4 

In the same connection we have in Bacon this expression: 
The cause of dimness of sight is the expense of spirits. 1 ' 

We turn to Shakespeare's sonnets, and we find precisely the 
same arrangement of words: 

Tti expense of spirit in a waste of shame. 

1 Hamlet, i, 4. " Macbeth, iii, 2. 5 Ibid. 

2 Natural History, § 688. 4 Natural History, § 693. 



One of the most striking parallelisms of thought and expression 
occurs in the following. Bacon says: 

Some noises help sleep, as . . . soft singing. The cause is, for that they 
move in the spirits a gentle attention.* 

In Shakespeare we have: 

I am never merry when I hear sweet music, 
The reason is, your spirits are attentive? 

Here we have the same words applied in the same sense to the same 
thing, the effect of music; and in each case the philosopher stops to 
give the reason — "the cause is," "the reason is." 

Both are very fond of the expressions, "parts inward" and 

" parts outward," to describe the interior and exterior of the body. 

Bacon says: 

Mineral medicines have been extolled that they are safer for the outward than 
the inward parts. % 

And again: 

While the life- 
nbers trembled 

Shakespeare has it 

While the life-blood of Spain went inward to the heart, the outward limbs and 
members trembled and could not resist. 4 

I see men's judgments are 
A parcel of their fortunes; and things outward 
Do draw the inward quality after them, 
To suffer all alike. 5 

Falstaff tells us: 

But the sherris warms it and makes it course from the inwards to the parts 

Bacon says: 

Infinite variations. ' 
Shakespeare says: 

Nor custom stale 

Her infinite variety* 

The word infinite is a favorite with both writers. 

Bacon has: 

Occasions are infinite? 

Infinite honor. 10 

The infinite flight of birds. 11 

1 Natural History, § 745. * 2d Henry IV., iv, 3. 

2 Merchant 0/ Venice, v, 1. 7 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

3 Advancement of Learning, book \\. 8 Antony and Cleopatra, ii, 2. 

4 Speech in Parliment, 39 Elizabeth (1597-8) ■ Wisdom of the Ancients — Achelous . 

— Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 80. 10 Speech. 

• A ntony and Cleopatra, iii, 2. ' ' New . I tlantis. 


Shakespeare has: 

Conclusion infinite of easy ways to die. 1 

Fellows of infinite tongue. - 

A fellow of infinite jest. 8 

Infinite in faculties. 4 

Nature's infinite book of secrecy. 5 

Bacon says: * 

Man in his mansion, sleep, exercise, passions, hath infinite variations; . . . 
the facilities of the soul. 6 

Shakespeare says: 

How infinite in faculties? 

Bacon speaks of 

That gigantic state of mind which possesseth the troublers of the -world, such as 
was Lucius Sylla. 8 

This is a very peculiar and unusual expression; we turn to 

Shakespeare, and we find Queen Margaret cursing the bloody 

Duke of Gloster, in the play of Richard f II., in these words: 

If heaven have any grievous plague in store, 
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee. 
Oh, let them keep it, till thy sins be ripe, 
And then hurl down their indignation 
On thee, the troubler of tJie poor world's peace. 9 

In Shakespeare we find: 

Which is to bring Signor Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of 
-affection, the one with the other. 1 " 

This was regarded as such a strange and unusual comparison 
that some of the commentators proposed to change it into " a moot- 
ing of affection." But we turn to Bacon and we find the same 

Perkin sought to corrupt the servants of the lieutenant of the Tower by moun- 
tains of prom ises. ! ' 

Bacon says: 

To fall from a discord, or harsh accord, upon a concord of sweet accord. '- 

1 Antony and Cleopatra, v, 2. ''Hamlet, ii, 2. 

2 Henry V., v, 2. 8 Advancement 0/ Learning. 

3 Hamlet, v, 1. 9 Richard III., i, 3. 

4 Ibid., ii, 2. I0 Much Ado about Nothing, ii, 2. 

5 A ntony a nd Cleopatra , i , 2 . ' 1 History of Hen ry I VI. 

8 Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. l * Advancement 0/ Learning. 



Shakespeare says: 

That is not moved with concord of siveet sounds. 1 

Here we have three words used in the same order and sense by 

both writers. 

We find in Shakespeare this well-known but curious expression:. 

There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will. 2 

This word occurs only once in the Plays. George Stevens says: 

Dr. Farmer informs me that these words are merely technical. A woolman, 
butcher and dealer in skewers lately observed to him that his nephew (an idle lad) 
could only assist him in making them. "He could rough-hew them, but I was 
obliged to shape their ends." Whoever recollects the profession of Shakspere's 
father will admit that his son might be no stranger to such terms. / have fre- 
quently seen packages of wool pinri d up xvith sketvers. 

This is the sort of proof we have had that Shakspere wrote the 

Plays. It is very evident that the sentence means, that while we 

may hew out roughly the outlines of our careers, the ends we reach 

are shaped by some all-controlling Providence. And when we turn 

to Bacon we find the very word used by him, to indicate carved 

out roughly: 

A nmgh-hewn seaman. 3 

And we find again in Shakespeare the same idea, that while we 
may shape our careers in part, the results to be attained are beyond 
our Control: 

Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own. 4 

Bacon says: 

Instruct yourself in all things between heaven and earth which may tend to 
virtue, wisdom and honor. 5 

Shakespeare has: 

Crawling between heaven and earth.* 

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 1 

Bacon refers to 

The particular remedies which learning doth minister to all the diseases of the 

Shakespeare says: 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased ?* 

1 Merchant of Venice, v, 1, a Hamlet, v, 2. ■ Apophthegms. * Hamlet, iii, 2. 

5 Bacon's Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written in the name of the Earl of Essex— Life and 
Works, vol. ii, p. 18. '''Hamlet, iii, 1. 7 Hamlet, i, 5. * Macbeth, V, 3. 



Here the parallelism is complete. In each case it refers to 
remedies for mental disease, and in each case the word minister is 
used, and the " diseases of the mind" of the one finds its counter- 
part in u mind diseased" of the other, a change made necessary by 
the rhythm. 

Surely the doctrine of accidental coincidences will not explain 

Bacon says: 

Men have their time, and die many times, in desire of some things which they 
principally take to heart. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

Cowards die many times before their deaths.* 

Bacon says: 

The even carriage between two factions proceedeth not always of moderation, 
but of a tracness to a man s self, with end to make use of both.* 

And again he says: 

Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others* 

Shakespeare says: 

To thine own self be true, 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man. 5 

Bacon says: 

The ripeness or unripeness of the occasion must ever be well weighed. * 

Shakespeare says: 

Ripeness is all. 7 

In Shakespeare we have this singular expression: 

O Heaven ! a beast, that wants discourse of reason > 

Would have mourned longer. 8 

This expression "discourse of reason" is a very unusual one. 

Massinger has: 

It adds to my calamity that I have 
Discourse and reason. 

Gifford thought that Shakespeare had written "discourse and 

reason," and that the of was a typographical error; but Knight, in 

discussing the question, refers to the lines in Hamlet: 

'Essay O/Fr tends hi '/>. 3 Essay Of Fact ion. ■ Hamlet, i, 3. 7 Lear, v, 2. 

"Julius Ctrsar, ii, 2. * Essay Of Wisdom. 'Essay Of Delays. '•Hamlet, i, 2. 


Sure he that made us with such large discourse, 
Looking before and after, gave us not 
That capability and god-like reason 
To fust in us unused. 1 

But when we turn to Bacon we find this expression, which has 
puzzled the commentators, repeatedly used. For instance: 
Martin Luther but in discourse of reason, finding, etc/ 2 

God hath done great things by her [Queen Elizabeth] past discourse of reason. 3 
And again: 

True fortitude is not given to man by nature, but must grow out of discourse of 


Bacon has: 

But men ... if they be not carried away with a whirlwind or tempest of 
ambition. 5 

Shakespeare has: 

For in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of your 
passion. 6 

Here we have not only the figure of a wind-storm used to repre- 
sent great mental emotions, but the same word, nay, the same 
words, tempest and whirlwind, used in the same metaphorical sense 
by both. 

Mr. James T. Cobb calls my attention, while this work is going 
through the press, to the following parallelism. 
Macbeth says: 

Life's but a walking shadow? 

Bacon writes to King James: 

Let me live <.o serve you, else life is but the shadow of death to your Majesty's 
most devoted servant. 

And, again, Mr. Cobb notes this. 
Bacon says: 

It is nothing else but words, which rather sound than signify anything. 

1 Act iv, scene 4. ^Advancement of Learning, book i. 

3 History of Squires' Conspiracy — Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 116. 

4 Bacon's Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written in the name of the Earl of Essex— L ife and 
Works, vol. ii, p. 12. • Advancement of Learning, book ii. 6 Hamlet, iii, 2. ''Macbeth, v, 5. 


Shakespeare makes Macbeth say of human life: 

'Tis a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fiery, 
Signifying nothing} 

A. J. Duffield, of Delaware Mine, Michigan, calls my attention 
to the following parallelism. 

What a piece of work is man ! . . . The paragon of animals; the beauty of 
the world? 

While Bacon has: 

The souls of the living are the beauty of the world. 3 

Both writers use the physical eye as a type or symbol of the^ 
intellectual faculty of perception. 
Bacon says: 

The eyes of his understanding? 

For everything depends on fixing the mind's eye steadily. 6 

Illuminate the eyes of our mind.''' 

While in Shakespeare we have: 

Hamlet. My father,— methinks I see my father. 
Horatio. Oh, where, my lord? 
Hamlet. In my mind's eye, Horatio. 

And again: 

Mine eye is my mind. T 

Bacon says: 

Pirates and impostors . . . are. the common enemies of mankind.* 

Shakespeare says: 

And mine eternal jewel 
Given to the common enemy of man 
To make them kings. 9 

Shakespeare also says: 

Consider, he's an enemy to mankind.™ 

Thou common whore of man kind. " 

Mrs. Pott 12 points out a very striking parallelism. 

1 Act v, scene 5. ' Sonnet. 

2 Hamlet, ii, 2. 8 History of Henry VIT. 

3 Essay Pan. * Macbeth, iii, 1. 

4 History of Squires' Conspiracy — Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 113. 10 Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 

5 Introduction to Novum Organum. n Timon of Athens, iv, 3 

6 Prayer. ia Prom its, p. 24. 


In Bacon's letter to King James, which accompanied the sending 
of a portion of The History of Great Britain, he says: 

This being but a leaf or two, I pray your pardon if I send it for your recrea- 
tion, considering that love must creep wh ere it cannot go. 

We have the same thought in the same words in TJie Two Gen- 
tlemen of Verona, in this manner: 

Ay, gentle Thurio; for you know that love 
Must creep in service ivhere it cannot go. ] 

We have in Bacon the word varnish used as a synonym for adorn, 
precisely as in Shakespeare. 

But my intent is, without varnish or amplification, justly to weigh the dignity 
of knowledge. 2 

Shakespeare has: 

I will a round, unvarnished tale deliver. 3 

And set a double varnish on the fame. 4 

Beauty doth varnish age. 5 

J. T. Cobb calls attention to the following parallelism. Bacon, 

in his letter of expostulation to Coke, says: 

The arising to honor is arduous, the standing slippery, the descent headlong. 

Shakespeare says: 

Which, when they fall, as being slippery standers, 
The love that leaned on them as slippery, too, 
Do one pluck down another, and together 
Die in the fall. 6 

The image of passion devouring the body of the man is common 
to both. 

Bacon says: 

It causeth the spirit to feed upon the juices of the body. 1 

Envy f 'cede th upon the spirits. 8 
Shakespeare says: 

If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. 9 

The thing that feeds their fury.' 

1 Act iv, scene 2. 6 Troitus and Cressida, iii, 3. 

2 Advancement of Learning, book i. 7 History 0/ Life and Death. 

3 Othetto, i, 3. 8j bid. 

4 //amtet, iv, 7. " Merchant of Venice, iii, 1. 

•"' Love's Labor Lost, iv, 3. ,0 Taming of the Shrew, ii, 1. 


Feed ivA. the ancient grudge. 1 

Advantage feeds him fat.'- 

To feed contention in a lingering act. 3 

J. T. Cobb points out this parallelism. 


Assume a virtue if you have it not. 4 
Bacon says: 

All wise men, to decline the envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to 
Providence and Fortune; for so they may the better assume them. 5 

Bacon speaks of 

The accidents of life. 6 

The accidents of time. 7 
Shakespeare says: 

As place, riches, favor, 
Prizes of accident as oft as merits 

With mortal accidents opprest. q 

The shot of accident, the dart of chance. 1 " 

Bacon says: 

And I do extremely desire there may be a full cry from all sorts of people. n 

Macbeth says: 

And I have bought 
Golden opinions from all sorts of peopled 

Here we have the same collocation of words. 

Bacon says: 

Not only that it may be done, but that it may be well done. 13 

If that be done which I hope by this time is done, and that other matter shall 
be done which we wish may be done. 14 

Shakespeare says: 

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well 
It were done quickly. 15 

What's done cannot be undone. 1 * 

1 Merchant of Venice, i, 3. ,0 Othello, iv, 1. 

* 1st Henry IV., iii, 2. " Letter to Villiers, June 12, 1616. 

3 2d Henry IV., i, i. 12 Macbeth, i, 7. 

4 flamlet, iii, 4. 13 Letter to Lord Chancellor. 

5 Essay Of Fortune. 14 Letter to Sir John Stanhope — Life and 

6 Letter to Sir R. Cecil. Works, vol. ii, p. 50. 

7 Letter to Villiers, June 3, 1616. ,s Macbeth, i, 7. 

8 Troilus and Cressida, iii, 3. 16 Ibid., v, I. 

9 Cymbeline, v, 4. 

°r rue r\. 


Bacon says: 

Hut I will pray for you to the last gasp. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

I will follow thee 
To the last gasp} 

Fight till the last gasp} 
Here is another identical collocation of words. 

Bacon says: 

The new company and the old company are but the sons of Adam to rae.- 

Shakespeare says: 

Adam's sons are my brethren. 5 

Bacon says: 

The common lot of mankind. 6 

Shakespeare has: 

The common curse of mankind. 7 


The infirmity of the human understanding. 8 


The infirmity of sense. 9 

A friend should bear his friend's infirmities. 

And Mr. J. T. Cobb has called my attention to this parallelism. 

Bacon says: 

All those who have in some measure committed themselves to the waters of 
experience, seeing they were infirm of purpose, etc. 11 

While in Shakespeare we have: 

Infirm of purpose. Give me the daggers. 12 


Every tangible body contains an invisible and intangible spirit.™ 


O, thou invisible spirit of wine. 14 

1 Letter to King James, 1621. 9 Measure for Measure, v, 1. 

2 As You Like It, li, 3. 10 Julius Ceesar, iv, 3. 

3 /st Henry VI., i, 1. u The Interpretation of Nature, Montagu 

4 Letter to Villiers. ed., vol. ii, p. 550. 
* Much Ado about Nothing, ii, 1. 1S Macbeth* ii,2. 

6 Introduction to Great Instauration. 13 Novum Organum, book ii. 

7 Troilus and Cressida, ii, 3. 14 Othello, ii, 3. 

8 Novum Organum, book ii. 



Flame, at the moment of its generation, is mild and gentle } 


As mild and gentle as the cradled babe. 5 

He was gentle, mild and virtuous. 3 

I will be mild and gentle in my words. 4 


Custom . . . an ape of nature} 

This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice. 6 

O sleep, thou ape of death." 

Bacon says: 

Another precept of this knowledge is to imitate nature, which doth nothing in 
vain. 8 

In artificial works we should certainly prefer those which approach the nearest 
to an imitation of nature* 

We find the same expression in Shakespeare: 

I have thought some of Nature's journeymen had made men, and not made 
them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. 10 

And in the preface to the Folio of 1623, which was probably- 
written by the author of the Plays, we read: 

He was a happy imitator of nature. 

Bacon speaks of a 

Medicine . . . of secret malignity and disagreement toward man's body ; . . . 
it worketh either by corrosion or by a secret malignity and enmity to nature. 11 

Shakespeare describes the drug which Hamlet's uncle poured 

into his father's ear as 

Holding such enmity with blood of man. 

And again we have: 

A lingering dram, that should not work 
MaliHously like poison. 12 

Though parting be a fretful corrosive, 
It is applied to a deathful wound. 13 

1 Novum Organum, book ii. 8 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

2 Henry VI., iii, 2. 9 Novum Organum, book ii. 

3 Richard III., i, 2. 10 Hamlet, iii, 2. 

* Ibid., iv, 4. u Natural History, cent, i, §36. 
8 Advancement of Learning, book ii. I2 Winter's Tale, i, 2. 

• Love's Labor Lost, v, 2. ,s 2d Henry VI., iii, 2. 
7 Cymbeline, ii, 2. 



Bacon says: 

Of all substances which nature has produced, man's body is the most extremely 
compounded, 1 

Shakespeare says: 

The brain of this foolish compounded clay, man. 2 " 

And Bacon, speaking of man, says: 

Certain particles were taken from divers living creatures, and mixed and tem- 
pered with that clayic mass. 3 

Bacon says: 

The heavens turn about and . . . make an excellent music* 

Shakespeare says, in Hamlet: 

And there is much music, excellent voice in this little organ; yet cannot you 
make it speak. 

Bacon says: 

The nature of sounds in general hath been superficially observed. It is one of 
the subtilest pieces of nature. 1 ' 

Shakespeare has this precise collocation of words: 

A ruined piece of nature} 

We also find: 

When nature framed this piece} 

Thy mother was a piece of virtue} 

As pretty a piece of flesh} 

Oh, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth} 

Bacon also says: 

The noblest piece of justice. 11 

While Shakespeare says: 

What a piece of work is man ; 
How noble in reason. 12 

Bacon says: 

A miracle of time. 13 
Shakespeare says: 

O miracle of men. 14 

1 Wisdom of the Ancients— Prometheus. 8 Tempest, i, 2. 

2 2d Henry IV., i, 2. 9 Much Ado about Nothings iv, 2. 

3 Natural History, cent. ii. 10 Julius Ccesar, Hi, 1. 

* Ibid. n Charge against St. John, 

s Ibid. 12 Hamlet, ii, 2. 

6 Lear, iv, 6. 13 Of a War with Spain. 

7 Pericles, iv, 3. 14 2d Henry IV., ii, 3. 



The fire maketh them soft and tender} 


The soft and tender fork of a poor worm.' 

Beneath your soft and tender breeding. 3 

As soft and tender flattery. 4 

Here again it is identity not alone of a word, but of a phrase. 

Bacon says: 

Where a rainbow seemeth to hang over or to touch, there breatheth forth a 
sweet smell. 5 

Shakespeare says: 

Breathing to his breathless excellence 
The incense of a vow. 6 

'Tis her breathing 
That perfumes the chamber thus." 

We find both Shakespeare and Bacon using the unusual word 

disclose for hatch. 
Bacon says: 

The ostrich layeth her eggs under the sand, where the heat of the sun discloseth 
them. 8 


Anon, as patient as the female dove, 
When that her golden couplets are disclosed, 
His silence will sit brooding. 9 

Bacon speaks of 

The elements and their conjugations, the influences of heaven. 10 

While Shakespeare speaks of 

All the skiey influences} 1 

Bacon says: 

For those smells do . . . rather 7000 the sense than satiate it. 12 

While Shakespeare says: 

The air smells wooingly here. 13 

* Natural History, § 630. 6 King J oh «, i v, 3. 10 Natural History, § 835. 

* Measure for Measure, iii, 1. 7 Cymbeline, ii, 2. n Measure for Measure, iii, 1. 

3 Twelfth Night, v, 1. 8 Natural History, §856. ia Natural History, §833. , 

4 Pericles, iv, 4. 9 Hamlet, v, 1. 13 Macbeth, i, 6. 

5 Natural History, § 832. 

3 o8 


Speaking of the smell where the rainbow rests, Bacon says: 
But none are so delicate as the dew of the rainbow. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

I have observed the air is delicate* 
We also have: 

A delicate odor. 8 

Delicate Ariel. 4 

The gentle dew. h 
The gentle rain."'' 

Bacon speaks of 
Shakespeare, of 

The word fantastical is a favorite with both. 
Bacon says: 

Shakespeare says: 

Bacon says: 
Shakespeare says: 

Which showeth a fantastical spirit. 1 

Fantastical learning/ 

High fantastical. '•' 
A mad, fantastical trick. 10 
A fantastical knave. • ' 
Telling her fantastical lies. 1 

A malign aspect and influence. 13 
Malevolent to you in all aspects. 1 * 

Bacon says: 

So as your wit 
11 have the crea 

Shakespeare says: 

So as your wit shall be whetted with conversing with many great wits, and you 
shall have the cream and quintessence of every one of theirs. 15 

What is this quintessence of dust ? 16 
The quintessence of every sprite. 17 

1 Natural History , § 832. 

* Macbeth, i, 6. 

* Pericles, iii, 2. 
4 Tempest, i, 2. 

6 Natural History, § 832. 

* Merchant of Venice, iv, 1. 

7 Civil Conv. 

8 Advancement of Learning, book i. 

9 Twelfth Night, i, 1. 

10 Measure for Measure, iii, 2. 

11 As You Like It, iii, 3. 

™ Othello, ii, 1. 

13 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

14 1st Henry IV., i, 2. 

15 Bacon's Letter to the Earl of Rutland, 

written in the name of the Earl of Essex. 

Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 13. 
18 Hamlet, ii, 2. 
17 As You Like It, iii, 2. 


Bacon says: 

I find envy beating so strongly upon me. 1 

This public envy seemeth to beat chiefly upon principal officers or ministers. 1 * 

Shakespeare says: 

Nor the tide of pomp 
That beats upon the high shore of this world. :! 

Bacon says: 

To choose time is to save time; and an unseasonable motion is but beating the 
tir. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Didst thou beat heaven with blessings. 5 

Speaking of witchcrafts, dreams and divinations, Bacon says: 

Your Majesty hath . . . with the two clear eyes of religion and natural phil- 
>sophy looked deeply and wisely into these shadows* 

And again he says: 

All whatsoever you have or can say in answer hereof are but shadows.' 1 

' While Shakespeare has: 

A dream itself is but a shadow. 4 

To worship shadows and adore false shapes. 9 

Shadows to-night have struck more terror to the soul of Richard. 10 

Hence, horrible shadow.™ 

Life's but a walking shadow.™ 

Bacon enters in his commonplace-book: 

The Mineral wytts, strong poison yf they be not corrected. 13 

Shakespeare has: 

The thought doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards. 14 

Bacon says: 

Fullness and swellings of the heart. 15 

Bacon to Queen Elizabeth — Life 8 Hamlet, \\, 2. 

and Works, vol. ii, p. 160. 9 Two Gentlemen 0/ Verona, iv, 2, 

2 Essay Of Envy. 10 Richard III. , v, 3. 

3 Henry V.,'\\,\. u Macbeth, iii, 4. 

4 Essay Of Despatch. 12 Ibid., v, 5. 

5 2d Henry IV., i, 3. ls Promus, § 1403, p. 454. 
* Advancement of Learning, book ii. I4 Othello, ii, 1. 

7 Speech at Trial of Essex. 10 Essay Of Friendship. 


Shakespeare says: 

Malice of thy swelling heart. ' 

Their swelling griefs. 2 

The swelling act of the imperial scene. 3 

Bacon says: 

The most base, bloody and envious persons. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Of base and bloody insurrection. 5 


Matters of no use or moment.* 

Enterprises of great pith and moment.' 1 

In both we have the word sovereign applied to medicines. 


Sovereign medicines for the mind. 8 

The sovereign' st thing on earth 

Was parmaceti for an inward bruise. 9 

In his letter of submission to Parliament, Bacon says: 

This is the beginning of -a golden world. 
Shakespeare, in The Tempest, says: 

I would with such perfection govern, sir, 
To excel the golden age. 10 
In former golden days." 
Golden times. 12 

Bacon says: 

This passion [love], which loseth not only other things, but itself 1 * 
Shakespeare says: 

A loan oft loseth both itself and friend. 14 


A kindly and pleasant sleep. 15 

Frosty but kindly. xi 

1 jst Henry VI. % Hi, i. 9 ist Henry IV., i, 3. 

?■ 3d Henry VI., iv, 8. 10 Act ii, scene 1. 

3 Macbeth, i, 3. n 3d Henry VI., iii, 3. 

4 Advancement of Learning, book i. ,2 2d Henry IV., v, 3. 
: ' id Henry IV., iv, 1. ,3 Essay Of Love. 

6 Advancement of Learning, book i. 14 Hamlet, i, 3. 

''Hamlet, iii, 1. 15 Adz'ancement of Learning, book ii. 

8 Advancement of Learning, book i. 16 As You Like It, ii, 3. 


Bacon says: 

The quality of health and strength. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

The quality of mercy is not strained. 2 
The quality of the flesh."' 
The quality of her passion. 4 

Bacon says: 

The states of Italy be like little quillets of freehold. 5 
And he speaks of 

A quiddity of the common law. 6 
Hamlet says: 

Where be his quiddcts now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures.' 

Bacon speaks of having one's mind 

Concentric with the orb of the universe. 
Shakespeare says: 

His fame folds in this orb o' the earth. 8 

Bacon refers to 

The top of . . . workmanship. 9 

The top of human desires. 10 

The top of all worldly bliss. 11 
Shakespeare refers to 

The top of sovereignty. 12 

The top of judgment. 13 

The top of all design. 14 

On the other hand, Bacon says: 

He might have known the bottom of his danger}* 
Shakespeare says: 

The bottom of my place.™ 

1 Bacon's Letter to the Earl of Rutland, 8 Coriolanus, v, 5. 

written in the name of the Earl of 9 Prayer. 

Essex — Life and Works, vol. it, p. 16. •• Advancement of Learning. 

2 Merchant of Venice, iv, 1. ll History of Henry I'll. 

3 Timon of Athens, iv, 3. ^Macbeth, iv, 1. 

4 A ntony and Cleopatra, v. 1. 13 Measure for Measure, ii, 2. 

5 Discourse in Praise of the Queen— " Antony and Cleopatra, v, 1. 

Life and Works. I5 History of Henry VII. 

* Arraignment. ,6 Measure for Measure y \. y 1. 

''Hamlet, v, 1. 


The bottom of your purpose} 
The very bottom of my soul."- 
Searches to the bottom of the worst. 3 

Bacon has: 

Actions of great peril and motion. 4 

Shakespeare has: 

Enterprises of great pith and moment. 5 

Bacon speaks of 

The abuses of the times.* 
Shakespeare speaks of 

The poor abuses of the times." 1 
Here the identity is not in a word, but in a series of words. 

Bacon says: 

I will shoot my fool's bolt since you will have it so. 8 
Shakespeare says: 

A fool's bolt is soon shot. 9 

According to the fool's bolt, sir. 10 

Bacon expresses the idea of the mind being in a state of rest or 
peace by the words, " The mind is free" as contradistinguished 
from "the mind is agitated." 11 

Shakespeare uses the same expression: 

When the mind's free 
The body's delicate. 1 ' 2 

The doctor refers to Lady Macbeth's mental agony, expressed 
even in sleep, as "this slumbery agitation." 

Bacon says: 

In the midst of the greatest wilderness of waters. n 
Shakespeare has: 

Environed with a wilderness of sea.* 4 

1 Air s Well that Ends Well, iii, 7. 8 Letter to the Earl of Essex, 1598. 

2 Henry V., ii, 2. 9 Henry V., iii, 7. 

3 Troilus and Cress/da, ii, 2. 10 As You Like It, v, 4. 

4 Speech in Parliament, 39 Elizabeth. ll Novum Organum. 
6 Hamlet, iii, 1. 12 Lear, iii, 4. 

• Letter to the King. 1 3 New A tlantis. 

7 1st Henry IV., 1, 2. 14 Titus Andronicus, iii, 1. 


And again: 

A ^wilderness of monkeys. 1 

A wilderness of tigers* 

Bacon says, in a speech in Parliament: 

This cloud still hangs over the House* 

Shakespeare has: 

And all the clouds that lowered upon our House. 

Bacon speaks of 

Any expert minister of nature. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Angels and ministers of grace. 5 

That familiar but curious expression used by Mark Antony in 

his speech over the dead body of Caesar can also be traced back to 


Lend me your ears. 6 

Bacon, describing Orpheus' power over the wild beasts, paints 

them as 

Standing all at a gaze about him, and lend their ears to his music. 7 

Again Bacon says, referring to the power of music: 

Orpheus drew the woods and moved the very stones to come. 8 

Shakespeare, referring to the power of eloquence, says that it 

Should move 
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny. 9 

Bacon says: 

The nature of the vulgar is always swollen and malignant} 9 
Shakespeare speaks of 

The malice of my swelling heart. 11 

Bacon says: 

With an undaunted and bold spirit}' 1 
Shakespeare speaks of an 

Undaunted spirit in a dying breast. " 

1 Merchant of I 'enice, iii, i. 8 Ibid. 

- Titus Andronicus, iii, i. 9 Julius Cczsar, iii, 2. 

3 Speech about Undertakers. 10 Wisdom of the A ncients. 

4 Wisdom of the Ancients— Proteus. n Titus Andronicus, v, 3. 

5 Hamlet : , 1, 4. IS Wisdom of the A ncients — Sphynx, 
B Julius Ccesar, iii, 2. 13 1st Henry IT., iii, 2. 

7 Wisdom of the Ancients. 

3 1 4 PA A' A LLELIS. M S. 

The phrase " mortal men" is a favorite with both. Bacon says: 

Ravish and rap mortal men} 
Shakespeare says: 

Tush, man, mortal men, mortal men} 
O momentary grace of mortal men* 

Bacon says: 

The state of man. 4, 

Shakespeare says: 

The state of matt} 

Bacon speaks of 

The vapors of ambition. 6 

Shakespeare speaks of 

The vapor of our valor. 7 
The vapor of my glory. 8 

Bacon says: 

She was most affectionate of her kindred, even unto faction* 
Shakespeare says: 

And drove great Mars to faction } {) 

We find Bacon using the word engine for a device, a stratagem. 
Speaking of the Lambert Simnell conspiracy to dethrone King 
Henry VII., he says: 

And. thus delivered of this so strange an engine, and new invention of fortune. 1 J 

Iago says to Roderigo: 

Take me from this world with treachery and devise engines for my life. 12 

Bacon says: 

Whereupon the meaner sort routed together. 13 

Shakespeare says: 

Choked with ambition of the meaner sort}* 

Cheering a rout of rebels. 15 

All is on the rout}' 1 ' 

1 Wisdom of the A ncients — Sfihynx. 9 History of Henry VII. 

2 ist Henry IF., iv. 2. 10 Troilus and Cressida, Hi, 3. 

3 Richard III., Hi, 4. ' l History of Henry VII. 

4 Wisdom of the Ancients — Prom. ,a Othello, iv, 2. 
h fulius Casar, ii, 1. 13 History of Henry VII. 
* History of Henry VII. 14 ist Henry VI., ii, 5. 
''Henry V., iv, 2. 16 2d Henry IV., iv, 2. 

6 Richard III. , i i i , 7 . • 6 2d Henry VI., v , 2. 



Bacon says: 

And such superficial speculations they have; like prospectives \ that show things 
inward, when they are but paintings. x 

The same figure occurs in Shakespeare: 

Divides one thing entire to twenty objects, 
Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon 
Show nothing but confusion ; eyed awry 
Distinguish form. -2 

And Bacon, in describing a rebellion in Scotland against King 

James III., tells that the rebels captured the King's son — Prince 

James — and used him 

To shadow their rebellion, and to be the titular and painted head of those 
arms. 3 

This is a very peculiar expression, and reminds us of Lady Mac- 

beth's words: 

'Tis the eye of childhood 
That fears a, painted devil. 4 

And again Shakespeare says: 

Men are but gilded loam or painted clay. s 

Than is the deed to my most painted word. 6 

Bacon says: 

He raised up the ghost of Richard . . . to walk and vex the King. 7 
Shakespeare says: 

Thy father's spirit, 
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night. 8 

Spirits oft walk in death. 9 

Bacon says; 

The news the 
ce of York was 

Shakespeare says: 

The news thereof came blazing and thundering over into England, that the 
Duke of York was sure alive. 10 

What act 
That roars so loud and thunders in the index? 11 

He came in thunder; his celestial breath 
Was sulphurous to smell. 1 ' 2 
Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side? 13 

» Sylva Sylvarum. " Hamlet, iii, 1. 10 History of Henry VII. 

2 Richard II., ii, 2. ' History 0/ Henry I 71. ' l Hamlet, iii, 4. 

3 History of Henry 1 77. B Hamlet, i, 5. 12 Cymbelinc, v, 4. 
4 Macbeth, ii, 2. 9 Ibid., i, 1. 13 Kingfohn, iii, 1. 
5 Richard II., i, 1. 


The fierce blaze of riot. 1 
The blaze of youth. 2 
Every blazing star. 3 

Bacon says: 

A spice of madness. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

This spice of your hypocrisy. 5 

Bacon speaks of 

Our sea-walls and good shipping.* 

Shakespeare describes England as 
Our sea-walled garden. 7 

The word pregna?it, signifying full of consequence or meaning, 
l is a common one with both writers. Bacon says: 

Many circumstances did feed the ambition of Charles with pregnant and appar- 
ent hopes of success. 8 

Shakespeare says: 

Crook the pregnant hinges of the knee. 9 

Pregnant instruments of wealth. 10 

Were very pregnant and potential spurs. 11 

Bacon says: 

His people were hot upon the business. x% 

Shakespeare says: 

It is a business of some heat. ]S 

Bacon says, speaking of old age: 

He promised himself money, honor, friends and peace in the end.' 4 

Shakespeare says: 

And that which should accompany old age, 
As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, 
I must not look to have. 15 

1 Richard 1 'I., ii, i. 6 Speech on Subsidy. 11 Lear, ii, i. 

» All's Well that Etuis Well, v, 3. 7 Richard 17., iii, 4. 12 History of Henry VII. 

3 Ibid., i. 3. 8 History of Henry VII. 13 Othello, i, 2. 

* Of War with Spain. » Hamlet, iii, 2. 14 History of Henry VII. 

* Henry VIII. , ii, 3. ,0 Pericles, iv, Gower. 15 Macbeth, v, 3. 



Bacon says: 

This bred a decay of people. 1 

Shakespeare speaks of 

Decayed men.' 

Bacon says: 

Divers things that were predominant in the King's nature? 
Macbeth says to the murderers: 

Do you find 
Your patience so predominant in your nature?* 

Bacon says: 

As if he had heard the news of some strange and fearful prodigy*" 

Shakespeare says: 

A prodigy of fear and a portent 
Of broached mischief to the unborn times. 6 

Now hath my soul brought forth her prodigy.' 1 

Bacon says: 

Turned law and justice into wormwood* 
Shakespeare says: 

Weed this tvornnvood irom your fruitful brain.* 

Bacon says: 

His ambition was so exorbitant and unbounded.™ 

And again: 

Being a man of stomach, and hardened by his former troubles, he refused to 
pay a mite. 11 

God seeth that we have unbridled stomachs.™ 

While in Shakespeare we have the vastly ambitious Wolsey 

referred to as 

A man of unbounded stomach. u 

Bacon says: 

As for her memory, it hath gotten such life, in the mouths and hearts of men. 
as that envy, being put out by her death, etc. 14 

1 History of Henry VII. 6 ist Henry IV., V, i. J1 Ibid. 

2 Comedy of Errors, iv, 3. 7 Richard II., ii, 2. 12 Letter to Lord Coke. 

3 History of Henry VII. % History of Henry VII. 33 Henry VIII., iv, 2. 

4 Macbeth, iii, 1. 9 Love's Labor Lost, v, 2. 14 Felic. Queen Rlizabetrk. 
6 History of Henry VII. 10 History of Henry VII. 



Shakespeare says: 

So shalt thou live — such power hath my pen — 

Where breath most breathes, even in the months of men. 1 

Bacon says: 

Vain pomp and outward shows of power. - 

Shakespeare says: 

Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye.* 

In both the thought of retirement is expressed in the word cell 
— referring to the monastic cells. 

Bacon says: 

The cells of gross and solitary monks. 4 

For it was time for me to go to a cell.* 

It were a pretty cell for my fortune. 6 

In Shakespeare we have: 

Nor that I am much better 
Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell, 
And thy no greater father. 7 

O proud death! 
What feast is forward in thine eternal cell} 

Bacon says: 

The spark that first kindled such fire and combustion? 

And again he says: 

The King chose rather not to satisfy than to kindle coals. 10 

Shakespeare has: 

Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars. 11 

Constance would not cease 
Till she had kindled France and all the world.' 2 

For kindling such combustion in the state. 18 

As dry combustions matter is to fire. 14 

Bacon says: 

If the rules and maxims of law, in the first raising of tenures in capite, be 
weakened, this nips the flower in the bud. n 

1 Sonnet. » History of Henry VII. 

2 Char. Julius Ca-sar. 1° Ibid. 

3 Henry VIII.. iii, 2. n King John, v, 2. 

4 Advancement 0/ Learning. ,2 Ibid., i, 1. 

5 Letter. ™ Henry VIII., v, 3. 
8 Ibid. 14 Venus and Adonis. 

7 Tempest, i, 2. 15 Argument, Law's Case of Tenures. 

8 Hamlet, v, 2. 


Shakespeare says: 

Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love. 1 
Nips his root.'-' 

Bacon, after his downfall, speaks of 

This base court of adversity, where scarce any will be seen stirring. 

Shakespeare puts the same expression into the mouth of Rich- 
ard II. after his downfall: 

In the base court? Base court, where kings grow base, 
To come at traitors' calls and do them grace. 
In the base court, come down. 3 

Bacon says: 

He strikes terror.* 

Shakespeare says: 

And strike such terror to his enemies. 5 , 
Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard. 6 

Bacon says: 

It is greatness in a man to be the care of the higher powers. } 

In Shakespeare we have: 

Arming myself with patience 
To stay the providence of some high powers 
That govern us below. 8 

In his letter to Sir Humphrey May, 1625, speaking of his not 
having received his pardon, Bacon says: 

I deserve not to be the only outcast. 
While Shakespeare has: 

I all alone bewail my outcast state. 9 
Bacon says: 

And successions to great place will wax vile; and then his Majesty's preroga- 
tive goeth down the -wind.™ 

1 Love's Labor Lost, v, 2. 6 Richard III., v, 2. 

2 Henry VIII., iii, 2. 7 Essay Of Fortune. 

3 Richard II., iii, 3. 8 Julius Casar, v, 1. 

4 Bacon's Letter to Sir Foulke Greville 9 Sonnet. 

— Life and Works, vol. ii, p. 24. I0 Letter relating to Lord Coke. 

5 1st Henry VI., ii, 3. 


Othello says: 

If I do prove her haggard, 
Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings, 
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind, 
To prey at fortune. 1 

And here we have a singular parallelism occurring in connection 

with the same sentence. 

Bacon says: 

For in consent, where tongue-strings and not heart-strings make the music that 
harmony may end in discord. 

Shakespeare has: 

Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings* 

He grieves my very heart-strings. % 

Shakespeare says: 

My love 
Was builded far from accident* 

Mr. J. T. Cobb points a similar expression in Bacon: 

Another precept of this knowledge is not to engage a man's self too peremp- 
torily in anything, though it seem not liable to accident* 

The wheel was, curiously enough, a favorite image with both. 
Bacon says: 

My mind doth not move on the wheels of profit. 6 

The wheels of his mind keep away with the wheels of his fortune. 7 

Shakespeare says: 

Then can I set the world on 7vheels. s 

Let go thy hold, when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck 
with following it; but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after. 9 

Bacon says: 

It is a rule, that whatsoever science is not consonant to presuppositions, must 
pray in aid of similitudes. 10 

Shakespeare says: 

A conqueror that will pray in aid for kindness, 
Where he for grace is kneeled to. 11 

1 Othello, iii, 3, 7 Essay Of Fortune. 

3 Ibid., iii, 2. 8 Two Gentlemen of Verona, iii, 1. 

3 Two Gentlenten of Verona, iv, 2. 9 Lear, ii, 4. 

4 Sonnet cxxiv. ' ° A dvancement of Learning. 

5 Advancement of Learning. ' 1 A ntony and Cleopatra, v, 2. 

6 Letter. 



Franklin Fiske Heard says: 

Praying in aid is a law term, used for a petition made in a court of justice for 
the calling in of help from another, that hath an interest in the cause in question. 1 

How came the non-lawyer, Shakspere, to put this English law 
phrase into a Roman play ? 

J. T. Cobb draws attention to this parallelism. 

Bacon says: 

For the poets feigned that Orpheus . . . did call and assemble the beasts and 
birds ... to stand about him, as in a theater; and soon after called likewise the 
stones and woods to remove. 2 

Shakespeare says: 

Therefore the poet 
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods. 3 

Bacon says: 

Let him commend his inventions, not ambitiously or spitefully, but first in a 
manner most vivid and fresh, that is most fortified against the injuries of time. , 4 

Shakespeare says, in one of the sonnets: 

Injurious time, blunt thou the lion's paws. 

Bacon says: 

A man that hath no virtue in himself. 5 

Shakespeare says: 

The man that hath no music in his soul. 6 

Here the resemblance is not in the words, but in the rhythm 

and balance of the sentence. 

Bacon speaks of 

Justice mixed with mercy? 
Says Shakespeare: 

Let mercy season justice. 9. 

Bacon says: 

These winds of rumors could not be commanded down. 9 

Shakespeare says: 

Thou god of this great vast, rebuke these surges, 
Which wash both heaven and hell; and thou that hast 
Upon the winds command, bind them in brass. 10 

1 Shakespeare as a Lawyer, p. 82. 6 Merchant of Venice, V, 1. 

a The Plantation of Ireland. 7 Proceedings York House. 

3 Merchant 0/ Venice, v, 1. 8 Merchant 0/ Venice. 

4 Interpretation of Nature. 9 Letter in name of Anthony Bacon to Essex, i6cc 
6 Essay Of Envy. 10 Pericles, iii, 1. 



But it may be urged, by the unbeliever, that there is a vast body 
of the Shakespearean writings, and a still vaster body of Bacon's 
productions; and that it is easy for an ingenious mind, having 
these ample fields to range over, to find a multitude of similarities. 
In reply to this, I will cite a number of quotations from Bacon's 
essay Of Death, the shorter essay on that subject, not published 
until after his death, and which is found in the first volume of Basil 
Montagu's edition of Bacon s Works, on pages 131, 132 and 133. It 
is a small essay, comprising about two pages of large type, and does 
not exceed in all fifteen hundred words. And yet I find hundreds 
of instances, in this short space, where the expressions in this essay 
are paralleled in the Plays. Let me give you a few of the most 
striking examples. 

Bacon, arguing that men should be content to die, says: 

And as others have given place to us, so we must in the end give place to 

Shakespeare says, speaking of death: 

Since I nor wax nor honey can bring home, 
I quickly were dissolved from my hive, 
To give some laborers room} 

We find a kindred thought in Hamlet: 

But, you must know, your father lost a father, 
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound, 
In filial obligation, for some term 
To do obsequious sorrow. 2 

Bacon says: 

God sends men into this wretched theater, where being arrived, their first lan- 
guage is that of mourning. 

This comparison of life and the world to a theater, and a 
melancholy theater, runs all through Shakespeare: 

This wide and universal theater 
Presents more woeful pageants. 3 

I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; 
A stage where every man must play his part, 
And mine a sad one. 4 

All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players. 5 

1 All 's Well that Ends Welt, i, a. 3 As You Like It, ii, 7. 6 A s You Like It, i:, 7. 

9 Hamlet, i, 2. * Merchant of Venice, \, 1. 


But let us look a little farther into this expression of Bacon. 

God sends men headlong into this wretched theater, where being arrived, their 
Jirst language is that of mourning. 

In Shakespeare we have precisely the same thought: 

When we are born we cry that we are come 
To this great stage of fools. 1 

Thou knowest the first time that we smell the air 
We wawl and cry. 2 

We came crying hither. 3 

The word wretched, here applied by Bacon to the theater, is a 

favorite one with Shakespeare: 

A -wretched soul bruised with adversity. 4 

Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness, 
And fear'st to die ? 5 

To see wretchedness o'ercharged." 

Bacon says: 

I compare men to the Indian fig-tree, which, being ripened to his full height, is 
said to decline his branches down to the earth. 

Says Shakespeare: 

They are not kind; 
And nature, as it grows again towards earth, 
Is fashioned for the journey, dull and heavy. 1 

Bacon says: 

Man is made ripe for death. 

We turn to Shakespeare and we have: 

So from hour to hour we ripe and ripe, 

And then from hour to hour we rot and rot. 8 

Men must endure 
Their going hence, even as their coming hither; 
Ripeness is all. 9 

Bacon continues: 

He is sowed again in his mother the earth. 
Shakespeare says: 
Where is this young gallant that is so desirous to lie with his mother earth ? xo 

1 Lear, iv, 6. 5 Romeo and Juliet, v, i. * As You Like It, ii, 7. 

2 Ibid. 6 Midsummer Night's Dream, v, 1. 9 Lear, v, 2. 

3 Ibid. 7 Titus Andronicus, ii, 2. 10 As You Like It, 1, 2. 

4 Comedy 0/ Errors, ii, 1. 


Bacon says: 

So man, having derived his being from the earth, first lives the life of a tree, 
drawing his nourishment as a plant. 

We have a kindred, but not identical, thought in Shakespeare: 

Pericles. How durst thy tongue move anger to our face ? 
Helicanus. How dare the plants look up to heaven, from whence 
They have their nourishment? 

The eighth paragraph of the essay Of Death is so beautiful,, 
pathetic and poetical, and has withal so much of the true Shake- 
spearean ring about it, that I quote it entire, notwithstanding the 
fact that I have made use of part of it heretofore: 

Death arrives gracious only to such as sit in darkness, or lie heavy-burdened 
with grief and irons; to the poor Christian that sits bound in the galley; to de- 
spairful widows, pensive prisoners and deposed kings; to them whose fortunes run 
back and whose spirits mutiny: unto such death is a redeemer, and the grave a 
place for retiredness and rest. 

These wait upon the shore of Death and waft unto him to draw near, wishing 
above all others to see his star, that they might be led to his place, wooing the 
remorseless sisters to wind down the watch of their life, and to break them off 
before the hour. 

What a mass of metaphors is here ! Fortune running backward, 
spirits mutinying; despairful widows and deposed kings waiting on 
the shores of death, beckoning to him, watching for his star, wooing 
the remorseless sisters to wind down the watch of their life, and 
break them off before the hour ? And how many suggestions are in 
all this of Shakespeare ? In the word gracious we are reminded of: 

There was not such a gracious creature born. 1 

So hallowed and so gracious is the time.' 2 
The association of sitting with sorrow is common in Shake- 

Wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss, 

But cheerly seek how to redress their harms. 3 

Sitting on a bank, 
Weeping against the king, my father's, loss. 4 

Here can I sit alone, unseen of any, 

And to the nightingale's complaining notes 

Tune my distresses, and record my woes. 5 

Let us sit upon the ground 
And tell sad stories of the death of kings — 
How some have been deposed, some slain in war. 6 

1 King John, iii, 4. 3 jd Henry VI., v, 4. 6 Two Gentlemen 0/ Verona, V, 4. 

3 Hamlet, i, 1. 4 Tempest, i, 2. « Richard //., iii, 2. 


AW thee down, sorrow^ 

Woe doth the heavier sit 
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne. 2 

And when we find Queen Constance, in King John, 

Oppressed with wrongs, and therefore full of fears; 
A widow, husbandless, subject to fears; 
A woman naturally born to fears, 3 

crying out in her despair: 

Here I and sorrows sit; 
Here is my throne, let kings come bow to it, 

we seem to read again the words of Bacon: 

Death arrives gracious only to such as sit in darkness, ... to despairful 
widows, pensive prisoners and deposed kings. 

And in Shakespeare we have another deposed king saying: 

Let's talk of graves, of worms and epitaphs, 
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes, 
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth. 4 

And another, a deposed queen, wafts to Death to come and take 

.her away, and cries out: 

Where art thou, Death? 

Come hither, come ! come, come, and take a queen 

Worth many babes and beggars. 5 

Says Bacon: 

To them whose fortunes run back. 

Shakespeare says: 

The fated sky 
Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull 
Our slow designs, when we ourselves are dull.' 

My fortune runs against the bias. 7 

Says Bacon: 

Whose spirits mutiny. 

This peculiar metaphor is common in Shakespeare: 

Where w r ill doth mutiny with wit's regard. 8 

There is a mutiny in his mind. 9 

That should move 
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny. 10 

My very hairs do mutiny. , n 

1 Love's Labor Lost, i, i. 5 A ntony and Cleopatra, v, 2. 9 Henry I 'III.., iii, 2. 

' 2 Richard II., i, 3. ■ Julius Ca-sar, i, 2. 10 Julius Ca-sar, iii, 2. 

3 King John, iii, 1. 7 Richard II., iii, 4. ' ■ A ntony and Cleopatra, iii, a. 

* Richard II., iii. 2. - Ibid., II, t. 


Bacon says: 

Unto such death is a redeemer. 

The sick King Edward IV., nigh unto death, says: 

I every day expect an embassage 

From my Redeemer to redeem me hence.' 

Bacon says: 

And the grave a place of re tiredness and rest. 

Shakespeare says: 

That their souls 

May make a peaceful and a sweet retire.* 

His new kingdom of perpetual rest. 3 

Oh, here 
Will I set up my everlasting rest. 4 

Says Bacon: 

Wooing the remorseless sisters to wind down the watch of their life, and to 
break them off before the hour. 

Wooing is a favorite word with Shakespeare, and applied, as 

here, in a peculiar sense. 

That wodd the slimy bottom of the deep, 

And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by. 5 

More inconstant than the wind which woos 
Even now the frozen bosom of the north. 6 

The heavens' breath 
Smells wooingly here. 7 

Says Bacon: 

To wind down the watch of their life. 

Says Shakespeare: 

He is winding up the watch of his wit. 8 

This is indeed an odd comparison — the watch of his life, the 

watch of his wit. 

Bacon says: 

But death is a doleful messenger to a usurer, and fate untimely cuts their 

Shakespeare has: 

Let not Bardolph's vital thread be cut} 

1 Richard II 'I., ii, 1. 4 Romeo and Juliet, v, 3. ''Macbeth, i, 6. 

9 Henry V., iv, 3. * Ibid., i, 4. 8 Tempest, ii, 1. 

3 Richard III., ii, 2. 8 Romeo and Juliet, i, 4. ! ' Henry V., iii, 6. 


Had not churchmen prayed, 
His thread of life had not so soon decayed. 1 

Till the destinies do cut his thread of life. 
In the same paragraph Bacon alludes to the remorseless sisters, 

and here we have: 

O fates ! come, come, 
Cut thread and thrum . . . 
Oh, sisters three, 
Come, come, to me, 
With hands as pale as milk; 
Lay them in gore, 
Since you have shore, 
With shears, his thread oi silk. 3 

Here we not only have the three weird sisters of destiny alluded 
to by both writers, but in connection therewith the same expres- 
sion, of cutting the thread of life. 

Bacon says, speaking of death: 

But I consent with Caesar, that the suddenest passage is easiest. 

We are reminded of Cleopatra's studies: 

She hath pursued conclusions infinite 
Of easy ways to die. 4 

Says Bacon: 

Nothing more 

We are reminded of Wolsey: 

Nothing more awakens our resolve and readiness to die than the quieted con- 

And again: 

I feel within me 
A peace above all earthly dignities, 
A still and quiet conscience . 5 

O my Wolsey, 

The quiet of my wounded conscience. 6 

Says Bacon: 

Our readiness to die. 

Hamlet associates the same word readiness with death: 
If it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. 1 

Says Bacon: 

My ambition is not to fore flow the tide. 

1 1st Henry VI., i, i. 4 A ntony and Cleopatra, v, 2. • Ibid., ii, 2. 

3 Pericles, i, 2. 5 Henry VIII., iii, 2. 7 Hamlet, v, 2. 

4 Midsummer Night 's Dream, v, 1. 


Shakespeare says: 

For we must take the current when it serves, 
Or lose our ventures. 1 

Bacon says: 

So much of our life as we have already discovered is already dead, ... for 
we die daily. 

In Shakespeare we have: 

The Queen that bore thee, 
Oftener upon her knees than on her feet, 
Died every day she lived? 

Bacon says: 

Until we return to our grandmother \ the earth. 

Shakespeare speaks of the earth in the same way: 

At your birth 
Our grandam, earth, having this distemperature, 
In passion shook. 3 

Bacon says: 

Art thou drotvned in security ? 
Shakespeare says: 

He hath a sin that often drowns him. 4 

Bacon says: 

There is nothing under heaven, saving a true friend, who cannot be counted 
within the number of moveables. 

This is a'strange phrase. We turn to Shakespeare, and we find 
a similar thought: 

Katharine. I knew you at the first. 

You were a moveable. 

Petruchio. Why, what's a movable? 

Katharine. A joint stool. 6 

And again: 

Love is not love 
Which alters where it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove* 

Bacon says: 

They desired to be excused from Death's banquet. 

^Julius Ccesar, iv, 3. 3 1st Henry IV., iii, 1. 5 Taming 0/ the Shrew, ii,i. 

a Macbeth, iv, 3. * Timon of Athens, til, 5. « Sonnet cxvi. 


Shakespeare says: 

O proud death, 
What feast is forward in thine eternal cell ? l 

And again: 

O malignant and ill-boding stars ! 

Now thou art come unto a feast of death.' 1 

This is certainly an extraordinary thought — that Death devours 

and feasts upon the living. 

Speaking of death, Bacon further says: 

Looking at the blessings, not the hand that enlarged them. 

This is a peculiar expression — that death enlarges and liber- 
ates. We find precisely the same thought in Shakespeare: 

Just death, kind umpire of men's miseries, 
With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence. 3 

Bacon says: 

The soul having shaken off her flesh. 

Shakespeare has it: 

O you mighty gods ! 

This world I do renounce; and in your sights 

Shake patiently my great affliction off} 

And again: 

What dreams may come, 
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil. 5 

Bacon continues: 

The soul . . . shows what finger hath enforced her. 

Here is a strange and unusual expression as applied to God. 
We turn to Shakespeare and we find it repeated: 

The fingers of the powers above do tune 
The harmony of this peace. 6 

And we find the word finger repeatedly used by Shakespeare in 

a figurative sense: 

How the devil luxury, with his potato finger, tickles these two together. 7 

No man's pie is freed 
From his ambitious finger.* 

1 Hamlet, V, 2. 4 Lear, iv, 6. 7 Trotlus and Cressida. v, -, , 

12 1st Henry VI., iv, 5. 5 Hamlet, iii, 1. 8 Henry I'll!., i, 1. « 

3 Ibid., ii, 5. 6 Cymbeline, v, 5. 


They are not as a pipe for fortune's finger, 
To sound what stop she please. 1 

He shall not knit a knot in his fortunes with the finger of my substance. 2 

And the word utter^ as applied to the putting out of music, is 

also found in the same scene: 

These cannot I command to any utterance of harmony: 
I have not the skill. 3 

Bacon says that the soul 

Sometimes takes soil in an imperfect body, and so is slackened from showing 
her wonders; like an excellent musician which cannot titter himself upon a defective 

This thought is very poetical. Shakespeare has a similar con- 

How sour sweet music is 
When time is broke, and no proportion kept ! 
So is it in the music of our lives.* 

The comparison of a man to a musical instrument lies at the 

base of the great scene in Hamlet : 

Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play 
upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of 
my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; 
and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make 
it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played upon than a pipe ? 5 

Says Bacon: 

Nor desire any greater place than the front of good opinion. 

Shakespeare has: 

The very head and front of my offending 
Hath this extent, no more. 6 

Says Bacon: 

I should not be earnest to see the evening of my age; that extremity of itself 
being a disease, and a mere return unto infancy. 

Speaking in sonnet lxxiii of his own age, Shakespeare says: 

In me thou seest the twilight of such day, 

As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by and by black night doth take away. 

Bacon says: 

The extremity of age. 

1 Hamlet, iii, 2. * Hamlet, iii, 2. * Hamlet, iii, 2. 

9 Merry Wives 0/ Windsor, ii, 1. * Richard II., v, 5. fi Othello, i, 3. 


Shakespeare has it, speaking of old age: 

Oh! time's extremity, 
Hast thou so cracked and splitted my poor tongue. 1 

And again he says: 

The middle of youth thou never knowest, but the extremity of both ends. -2 

Says Bacon: 

A mere return unto infancy. 

Shakespeare says: 

Last scene of all, 
That ends this strange, eventful history, 
Is second childishness and mere oblivion. 3 

Says Bacon: 

Mine eyes begin to discharge their watch. 

Shakespeare says: 

Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye. 4 

Says Bacon: 

For a time of perpetual rest. 

Says Shakespeare: 

Like obedient subjects, follow him 
To his new kingdom of perpetual rest} 

I. Conclusions. 

This is certainly a most remarkable series of coincidences of 
thought and expressions; and, as I said before, they occur not in 
the ordinary words of our language, the common bases of speech, 
without which we cannot construct sentences or communicate with 
each other, but in unusual, metaphorical, poetical thoughts; or in 
ordinary words employed in extraordinary and figurative senses. 

Thus it is nothing to find Bacon and Shakespeare using such 
words as day and dead, but it is very significant when we find both 
writers using them in connection with the same curious and 
abstruse thought, to-wit: that individuals metaphorically die daily. 
So the use of the word blood by both proves nothing, for they could 
scarcely have written for any length of time without employing it; 
but when we find it used by both authors in the sense of the 

1 Comedy of Errors, v, i. 4 Romeo and Juliet, ii, 3. 

8 Timoti 0/ Athens, iv, 3. s Richard III. % ii, 2. 

8 A s You Like It, ii, 7. 



essential principle of a thing, as the blood of virtue, the blood of 
malice, it is more than a verbal coincidence: it proves an identity 
in the mode of thinking. So the occurrence in both of the words 
death and banquet means nothing; but the expression, a banquet of 
death, a feast of death, is a poetical conception of an unusual char- 
acter. The words soul and shake, and even shuffle, might be found 
in the writings of all Bacon's contemporaries, but we will look in 
vain in any of them, except Shakespeare, for a description of death 
as the shaking off of the flesh, or the shuffling off of the mortal coil, 
to-wit, the flesh. 

To my mind there is even more in these resemblances of modes 
of thought, which indicate the same construction and constitution 
of the mind, and the same way of receiving and digesting and put- 
ting forth a fact, not as a mere bare, dead fact, but enrobed and 
enfleshed in a vital metaphor, than in the similarity of thoughts, 
such as our crying when we come into the world, and the return of 
man in old age to mere infancy and second childishness; for these 
are things which, if once heard from the stage, might have been 
perpetuated in such a mind as that of Bacon. 

This essay Of Death is entirely Shakespearean. There is the 
same interfusing of original and profound thought with fancy; the 
same welding together of the thing itself and the metaphor for it; 
the same affluence and crowding of ideas; the same compactness and 
condensation of expression; the same forcing of common words into 
new meanings; and above all, the same sense of beauty and poetry. 

Observe, for instance, that comparison of the soul shut up in an 
imperfect body, trying, like an excellent musician, to utter itself 
upon a defective instrument. What could be more beautiful ? See 
the picture of the despairful widows, deposed kings and pensive 
prisoners, who sit in darkness, burdened with grief and irons, on 
the shore of Death, waving their hands to the grim tyrant to draw 
near, watching for the coming of his star, as the wise men looked for 
the coming of the star of Bethlehem, and wooing the remorseless 
sisters three to break them off before the hour. Or note the pathos 
of that comparison (bearing most melancholy application to Bacon's 
own fate) where he says: 

Who can see worse days than he that, while yet living, doth follow at the 
funeral of his own reputation? 


And in the craving for a period of ik perpetual rest," which 
shows itself all through this essay, we catch a glimpse of the 
melancholy which overwhelmed the soul of him who cried out r , 
through the mouth of Hamlet: 

Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt, 
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew ! 
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed 
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter. 

All through the essay it seems to be more than prose. From 
beginning to end it is a mass of imagery: it is poetry without 
rhythm. Like a great bird which as it starts to fly runs for a space 
along the ground, beating the air with its wings and the earth with 
its feet, so in this essay we seem to see the pinions of the poet 
constantly striving to lift him above the barren limitations of 
prose into the blue ether of untrammeled expression. It comes to 
us like the rude block out of which he had carved an exquisite 
statue full of life and grace, to be inserted perchance in some 
drama, even as we find another marvelous essay on death inter- 
jected into Measure for Measure. 1 

II. The Style of a Barren Mind. 

As a means of comparison and as an illustration of the wide 
difference between human brains, I insert the following letter from 
Lord Coke, who lived in the same age as Bacon, and was, like him, 
a lawyer, a statesman, a courtier and a politician. 

Bacon's language overruns with flowers and verdure: it is liter- 
ally buried, obscured and darkened by the very efflorescence of 
his fancy and his imagination. Coke speaks the same English 
tongue in the same period of development, but his thoughts are as 
bare, as hard, as soulless and as homely as an English work-house, 
in the midst of a squalid village-common, a mile distant from a 
flower or a blade of grass. When we read the utterances of the 
two men we are' reminded of that amusing scene, depicted by the 
humorous pen of Mark Twain, where Scotty Briggs and the village 
parson carry on a conversation in which neither can understand 
a word the other says, though both speak the same tongue; illus- 
trating that in the same language there may be many dialects 

1 Act iii, scene 1. 


separated as widely from each other as French from German, and 
depending for their character on the mental constitution of the 
men who use them. The speech of an English "navvy" does not 
differ more from the language of Tennyson's Morte d 1 Arthur than 
do the writings of Coke from those of Bacon. It will puzzle our 
readers to find a single Shakespeareanism of thought or expression 
in a whole volume of Coke's productions. 

The Humble and Direct Answer to the Last Question Arising upon Bagg's 


It was resolved, that to this court of the King's bench belongeth authority not 
only to correct errors in judicial proceedings, but other errors and misdemeanors 
tending to the breach of the peace, or oppression of the subjects, or to the raising 
of faction or other misgovernment: so that no wrong or injury, either public or 
private, can be done, but it shall be reformed and punished by law. 

Being commanded to explain myself concerning these words, and principally 
concerning this word, "misgovernment," — 

I answer that the subject-matter of that case concerned the misgovernment of 
the mayors and other the magistrates of Plymouth. 

And I intended for the persons the misgovernment of such inferior magistrates 
for the matters in committing wrong or injury, either public or private, punishable 
bylaw, and therefore the last clause was added, "and so no wrong or injury, 
either public or private, can be dene, but it shall be reformed and punished by 
law;" and the rule is: " verba inteliigenda sunt secundum subjectam materiam." 

And that they and other corporations might know, that factions and other mis- 
governments amongst them, either by oppression, bribery, unjust disfranchise- 
ments, or other wrong or injury, public or private, are to be redressed and punished 
by law, it was so reported. 

But if any scruple remains to clear it, these words may be added, " by inferior 
magistrates," and so the sense shall be by faction or misgovernment of inferior 
magistrates, so as no wrong or injury, etc. 

All which I most humbly submit to your Majesty's princely judgment. 

Edw. Coke. 

Now it may be objected that this paper is upon a dry and grave 
subject, and that Bacon would have written it in much the same 
style. But if the reader will look back at the quotations I have 
made from Bacon, in the foregoing pages, he will find that many 
of them are taken from his law papers and court charges, and his 
weighty philosophical writings, and yet they are fairly alive with 
fancy, metaphor and poetry. 


Touchstone. For ail your writers do consent, that ipse is he; 

Now you are not ipse, for I am he. 

William. Which he, sir? A* You Like ft, v, I. 

BOTH Bacon and Shakespeare reasoned by analogy. When- 
ever their thoughts encountered an abstruse subject, they 
compared it with one plain and familiar; whenever they sought to 
explain mental and spiritual phenomena, they paralleled them with 
physical phenomena; whenever they would render clear the lofty 
and great, they called up before the mind's vision the humble and 
the insignificant. All thoughts ran in parallel lines; no thought 
stood alone. Hence the writings of both are a mass of similes and 

I. Humble and Base Things Used as Comparisons. 

We have seen that Bacon and his double were both philoso- 
phers, and especially natural philosophers, whose observation took 
in " the hyssop on the wall, as well as the cedar of Libanus; " and 
when we come to consider their identity of comparisons, we shall 
find in both a tendency to use humble and even disgusting things 
as a basis of metaphor. 

We shall see that Bacon was always " puttering in physic," and 
we find Shakespeare constantly using medical terms and facts in 
his poetry. 

We find, for instance, that both compared the driving-out of 
evil influences, in the state or mind, to the effect of purgative medi- 

Bacon says: 

The King . . . thought ... to proceed with severity against some of the 
principal conspirators here within the realm; thereby to purge the ill humors in 
Flngland. 1 

And again: 

Some of the garrison observing this, and having not their minds purged of the 
late ill blood of hostility. 2 

tory of Henry VII. ' 2 Ibid. 



And again: 

But as in bodies very corrupt the medicine rather stirreth and exasperateth 
the humor than pitrgeth it, so some turbulent spirits laid hold of this proceeding 
toward my lord, etc. 1 

While Shakespeare says: 

Do come with words as medicinal as true; 
Honest as either; to purge him of that humor 
That presses him from sleep. 2 

And again: 

And again: 
And again: 

Bacon says: 

Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time, 
Ere human statute pureed the gentle weal. 3 

Would purge the land of these drones. 4 

And, for the day, confined to fast in fires, 

Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature, 

Are burnt and purged away. 5 

Sometimes opening the obstructions* 
Shakespeare says: 

Purge the obstructions." 1 

And the same thought occurs in different language. 

Bacon says: 

And so this traitor Essex made his color the scouring of some noblemen and 
counselors from her Majesty's favor. 

In Shakespeare we have: 

What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug 
Will scour these English hence? 8 

The comparison of men and things to bodily sores is common 
in both — an unusual trait of expression in an elevated mind and a 
poet; but it was part of Bacon's philosophy " that most poor things 
point to rich ends." 

Bacon says: 

Augustus Csesar, out of great indignation against his two daughters and Posthu- 
mus Agrippa, his grandchild, whereof the first two were infamous, and the last 

'Report of Judicial Proceed- 3 Macbeth, iv, 3. * History of Henry I'll. 

ings at York House. 4 Pericles, ii, 1. 7 zd Henry IV. , iv, 1. 

2 Winter's Tale, ii, 3. 6 Hamlet, i, 5. 8 Macbeth, v, 3. 


otherwise unworthy, would say " that they were not his seed, but some imposthumes 
that had broken from him." 1 

And again he says: 

Should a man have them to be slain by his vassals, as the posthumus of Alex- 
ander the Great was ? Or to call them his imposlhumes, as Augustus Caesar called 
his?' 2 

While in Shakespeare we have: 

This is the impost hume of much wealth and peace, 
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without 
Why the man dies. 5 

And we find precisely the same thought in Bacon: 

He that turneth the humors back and maketh the wound bleed inwards, ingen- 
dereth malign ulcers and pernicious i mposthumations . x 

We have a whole body of comparisons of things governmental 

to these ulcers, in their different stages of healing. 

Bacon says: 

We are here to search the wounds of the realm, not to skin them over. 5 

Spain having lately, with much difficulty, rather smoothed and skinned over 
than healed and extinguished the commotion of Aragon. 6 

Shakespeare says: 

A kind of medicine in itself 
That skins the vice o' the top. 1 

Mother, for love of grace, 
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul, 
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks: 
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place ; 
While rank corruption, mining all within, 
Infects unseen. 8 

And even this curious word mining we find in Bacon used in the 

same figurative sense: 

To search and mint into that which is not revealed. 9 

And we find this same inward infection referred to in Bacon: 

A profound kind of fallacies, ... the force whereof is such as it . . . doth 
more generally and inwardly infect and corrupt. 10 

And then we have in both the use of the word canker or cancer 
as a source of comparison: 

1 Apophthegms. « Observations on a Libel — Life and 

2 Discourse in Praise of the Queen — Life Works, vol. i, p. 162. 

and Works, vol. i, p. 140. 7 Measure for Measure, ii, 2. 

3 Hamlet, iv, 4. e Hamlet, iii, 4. 

4 Essay Of Sedition. 9 Advancement of Learning, book i. 
6 Speech in Parliament. 10 Ibid., book ii. 




The canker of epitomes. 1 

The cankers of a calm world and a long peace. 2 
Banish the canker of ambitious thoughts. :! 
This canker of our nature. 4 
This canker, Bolingbroke. 5 

Out of this tendency to dwell upon physical ills, and the cure of 
them, we find both coining a new verb, medicining, or to medicine. 


The medicining of the mind. 6 
Again : 

Let the balm distill everywhere, from your sovereign hands to the medicining 
of any part that complaineth. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

Great griefs, I see, medicine the less. 8 

Not poppy, nor mandragora, 
Nor all the drowsy sirups of the world, 
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep, 
Which thou owedst yesterday. 9 

We find the same tendency in both to compare physical ills 
with mental ills, the thing tangible with the thing intangible. 

We know diseases of stoppings and suffocations are the most dangerous in the 
body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind: you may take sarsa to open the 
liver, steel to open the spleen, flour of sulphur for the lungs, castareum for the 
brain; but no receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart 
griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels and whatsoever lieth upon the heart 
to oppress it. 10 

You shall know what disease your mind is aptest to fall into. 11 
Good Lord, Madam, how wisely and aptly you can speak and discern of physic 
ministered to the body, and consider not that there is the like occasion of physic 
ministered to the mind. n 

We turn to Shakespeare, and we find him indulging in the same 
kind of comparisons. In Macbeth we have: 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 8 Cymbeline, iv, 2. 

2 ist Henry IV., iv, 2. 9 Othelto, Hi, 3. 

3 2d Henry VI., i, 2. • 10 Essay Of Friendship. 

* Hamlet, v, 2. IJ Bacon's Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written 

3 ist Henry IV., i, 3. in the name of the Earl of Essex — Life and 

6 Advancement of Learning, book ii. Works, vol. ii, p. 9. 

7 Gesta Grayorum — Life and 12 Apology. 

Works, vol. i, p. 339. 


Macbeth. How does your patient, doctor? 
Doctor. Not so sick, my lord. 
As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies 
That keep her from her rest. 

Macbeth. Cure her of that: 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased. 
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow. 
Raze out the written troubles of the brain; 
And, with some sweet oblivious antidote, 
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff 
Which weighs upon the heart f 

Doctor. Therein the patient 

Must minister to himself. 1 

In both these extracts the stoppages and "suffocations" of the 
body are compared to the stuffed condition of the mind and heart; 
in both the heart is thus oppressed by that which lies upon it; in both 
we are told that there is no medicine that can relieve the over- 
charged spirit. 

Malcolm says: 

Be comforted. 
Let's make us tued'eines of our great revenge, 
To cure this deadly grief.' 2 

II. The Organs of the Body Used as a Basis of Com- 

We turn to another class of comparisons. In both writers we find 
the organs of the body used as a basis of metaphor, just as we have 
seen the " medicining" of the body applied to the state of the 

Every reader of Shakespeare remembers that strange expression 

in Richard III.: 

Thus far into the bowels of the land 
Have we marched without impediment/ 1 

We find the same comparison often repeated: 

Into the bowels of the battle. 4 

The bowels of ungrateful Rome. 5 

The fatal bowels of the deep. 6 
And we find Bacon employing the same strange metaphor: 
This fable is wise and seems to be taken out of the bowels of morality." 

1 Macbeth, V, 3. 3 Richard III., v, 2. 5 Coriolanns, iv, 5. 

2 Ibid., iv, 3. */st Henry VI. y i, 1. 6 Richard III., iii, 4. 

7 Wisdom of the Ancients — Juno's Suitor. 



If any state be yet free from his factions, erected in the bowels thereof. 1 
Speaking of the fact that earthquakes affecting a small area 

reach but a short distance into the earth. Bacon observes that, 

where they agitate a wider area, 

We are to suppose that their bases and primitive seats enter deeper into the 
bowels of the earth} 

This is precisely the expression used by Hotspur: 

Villainous saltpeter dug out of the bowels of the harmless earth} 

And this comparison of the earth to the stomach, and of an 

earthquake to something which disturbs it, we find in Shakespeare: 

Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth 
In strange eruptions: oft the teeming earth 
Is with a kind of colic pinched and vexed 
By the imprisoning of unruly wind 
Within her womb. 4 

And we find the processes of the stomach, in both sets of 
writings, applied to mental operations: 
Shakespeare says: 

How shall we stretch our eye 
When capital crimes, chewed, swallowed and digested, 
Appear before us? 5 

Bacon says: 

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be 
chewed and digested} 

In both we find the human body compared to a musical instru- 

Bacon says: 

The office of medicine is to tune this curious harp of man's body and reduce it 
to harmony. 7 

In Shakespeare, Pericles tells the Princess: 

You're a fair viol, and your sense the strings, 
Who, fingered to make man his lawful music, 
Would draw heaven down and all the gods to hearken. * 

And the strings of the harp furnish another series of compari- 
sons to both. Bacon says: 

They did strike upon a string that was more dangerous. 9 

1 Discourse in Praise of the Queen — Life 5 Henry V„ ii, 2. 

and Works, vol. i, p. 137. « Essay Of Studies. 

2 Nature of Things. 7 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 
3 1st Henry IV., i, 3. ° Pericles, i, 1. 

4 Ibid., iii, 1. ^History of Henry I 'II. 


And again 

The King was much moved, . . . because it struck upon that string which even 
he most feared. 1 

And Shakespeare says: 

Harp not on that string, madam.' 2 

And again: 

I would 'twere something that would fret the string, 
The master-cord on 's heart. 3 

And the word harping is a favorite with both. Bacon says: 

This string you cannot harp upon too much. 4 

And again: 

Harping upon that which should follow." 1 

And in Shakespeare we have: 

Still harping on my daughter. 6 

Harping on what I am, 
Not what he knew I was. 7 

Thou hast harped my fear aright." 

We have the disorders of the body of man also made a source 
of comparison for the disorders of the mind, in the following 


High conceits do sometimes come streaming into the minds and imaginations 
of base persons, especially when they are drunk with news, and talk of the people. 9 


Was the hope drunk 
Wherein you dressed yourself? 1 " 

What ! drunk with choler? 11 

Hath our intelligence been drunk? 1 * 
Here we have drunkenness applied to the affections and emo- 
tions — to the mind in the one case, to the intelligence in the other; 
to the imagination in the first instance, to the hope and the temper 
in the last. 

We have the joints of the body used by both to express the con- 
dition of public affairs. 

1 History of Henry VII. 7 A ntony and Cleopatra, Hi, 3. 

3 Richard III., iv, 4. ■ Macbeth, iv, 1. 

3 Henry I'll I. , iii, 2. 9 History of Henry I 'II. 

4 Letter to Essex, Oct. 4, 1596. I0 Macbeth, i, 7. 

5 Civil Con?: u 1st Henry IV., i, 3. 
■ Hamlet, ii. 2. 12 King John, iv, 2. 



Bacon says: 

We do plainly see in the most countries of Christendom so unsound and 
shaken an estate, as desireth the help of some great person, to set together and 
join again the pieces asunder and out of joint} 

In Shakespeare we have Hamlet's exclamation, also applied to 
the condition of the country: 

The time is out of joint — Oh, cursed spite, 
That ever I was born to set it right. 2 

We have the body of man made the basis of another compari- 

Bacon says: 

The very springs and sinews of industry. 3 

We should intercept his [the King of Spain's] treasure, whereby we shall cut 
his sinews* 

While Shakespeare says: 

The portion and sinew of her fortune. 5 

Nay, patience, or we break the sinews of our plot. 6 

The noble sinews of our power, 7 

We have the same comparison applied to the blood-vessels of 

the body. 


He could not endure to have trade sick, nor any obstruction to continue in the 
gate-vein which disperseth that blood. 8 


The natural gates and alleys of the body. 9 

We have in both the comparison of the body of man to a taber- 
nacle or temple in which the soul or mind dwells. 
Bacon says: 

Thus much for the body, which is but the tabernacle of the mind. 10 
Shakespeare says: 

Nothing vile can dwell in such a temple. n 

1 Of the State of Europe. 7 Henry /"., i, 2. 

8 Hamlet, i, 5. 8 History 0/ Henry I 'II. 

8 Novum Organum , book i. ' Hamlet, i, 5. 

* Letter to Essex, June, 1596. 10 Advancement of Learning book ii. 
6 Measure for Measure, iii, j. n Tempest, i, 2. 

• Twelfth Night, il, 5. 


And again: 

For nature, crescent, does not grow alone 
In thews and bulk; but, as this temple waxes, 
The inward service of the mind and soul 
Grows wide withal. 1 

Oh, that deceit should dwell 
In such a gorgeous palace} 

Even the clothing which covers the body becomes a medium of 
comparison in both. 


Behavior seemeth to me as a garment of the mind.* 

This curious idea, of robing the mind in something which shall 

cover or adorn it, is used by Shakespeare: 

With purpose to be dressed in an opinion 
Of wisdom. 4 

And dressed myself in such humility* 

Was the hope drunk wherein you dressed yourself? 6 

And the same thought occurs in the following: 

The garment of rebellion. 7 
Dashing the garment of this peace. 8 

Part of the raiment of the body is used by both as a comparison 
for great things. 

The motion of the air in great circles, such as are under the girdle of the 7vorld.* 

Shakespeare says: 

Puck. I'll put a girdle round about the earth 
In forty minutes. 10 

We have said that both writers were prone to use humble and 
familiar things as a basis of comparison for immaterial and great 
things. We find some instances in the following extracts. 

The blacksmith's shop was well known to both. Bacon says: 
There is shaped a tale in London's forge that beateth apace at this time.' 1 

1 Hamlet, i, 3. • Macbeth, i, 7. 

2 Romeo and Juliet, iii, 2. 7 1st Henry IV., v, 1. 
8 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 8 Henry VIII, i, 1. 

4 Merchant of Venice, i, 1. 9 Natural History, § 398. 

6 1st Henry IV., iii, 2. 10 Midsummer Night's Drcavi, ii, 2. 

11 Letter to Lord Howard. 




Mrs. Page. Come, to the forge with it, then; shape it. I would not have 
things cool. 1 

Here we have in the one case a tale shaped in the forge ; in the 

other a plan is to be shaped in the forge. 

And again we have in Shakespeare: 

In the quick forge and working-house of thought* 

I should make very forges of my cheeks, 
That would to cinders burn up modesty. 3 

Again we find in Bacon: 

Though it be my fortune to be the anvil upon which these good effects are 
beaten and wrought. 4 

Speaking of Robert Cecil, Bacon says: 

He loved to have all business under the hammer* 

And this: 

He stayed for a better hour till the hammer had wrought and beat the party 
of Britain more pliant. 6 

While in Shakespeare we have: 

I cannot do it, yet I'll hammer it out 
Of my brain. 7 

Whereupon this month I have been hammering* 

The refuse left at the bottom of a wine-cask is used by both 


That the [Scotch] King, being in amity with him, and noways provoked, should 
so burn in hatred towards him as to drink the lees and dregs of Perkin's intoxication, 
who was everywhere else detected and discarded. 9 

And again Bacon says: 

The memory of King Richard lay like lees in the bottom of men's hearts; and if 
the vessel was but stirred it would come up. 10 

And Bacon speaks of 

The dregs of this age. 11 

We turn to Shakespeare and we find: 

He, like a puling cuckold, would drink up 
The lees and dregs of a flat, tamed piece. 12 

1 Merry Wives of Windsor, iv, 2. 7 Richard II., v, 5. 

2 Henry V., v, cho. 8 Two Gentlemen of Verona, i, 3. 

3 Othello, iv, 2. » History of Henry VII. 

4 Letter to the Lords. 10 Ibid. 

5 Letter to King James, 1612. n Bacon to Queen Elizabeth — Life and 
6 History of Henry I'll. Works, vol, ii, p. 160. 

12 Troilus and Cress i da. iv, 1. 




All is but toys; renown and grace is dead; 
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees 
Is left this vault to brag of. 1 

Some certain dregs of conscience.'' 

The dregs of the storm be past.' 


And the floating refuse which rises to the top of a vessel is also 
used in the same sense by both. 
Bacon speaks of 

The scum of the people. 4 
Again : 

A rabble and scum of desperate people. 5 
While Shakespeare says : 

A scum of Bretagnes and base knaves. 6 


The tilth and scum ot Kent. 7 


Froth and scum, thou liest. 8 

Another instance of the use of humble and physical things as a 
basis of comparison in the treatment of things intellectual is found 
in the following curious metaphor: 


He that seeketh victory over his nature, let him not set himself too great or too 
small tasks, . . . and at the first let him practice with helps, as swimmers do with 
bladders. 9 ' 

While Shakespeare has: 

I have ventured, 
Like little wanton boys, that swim on bladders, 
This many summers in a sea of glory. 10 

The people are compared by both to mastiffs. 

Bacon : 

The blood of so many innocents slain within their own harbors and nests by 
the scum of the people, who, like so many mastiffs, were let loose, and heartened 
and even set upon them by the state. 11 

1 Macbeth, ii, 3. 5 History 0/ Henry VII. 9 Essay Of Nature in Men. 

2 Richard III, i, 4. 8 Richard III., v, 2. »° Henry VIII., iii, 2. 

3 Tempest, ii, 2. 7 2d Henry VI., iv, 2. " Felic. Queen Elisabeth. 

4 Felic. Queen Elizabeth. 8 Merry Wives of Windsor , i, 1. 


While Shakespeare says: 

The men do sympathize with their mastiffs, in robustious and rough coming-on. F 

We will see hereafter how much Bacon loved the pursuit of 


He says: 

He entered into due consideration how to weed out the partakers of the former 
rebellion. 2 


A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably 
water the one and destroy the other. 3 

While Shakespeare has: 

So one by one we'll weed them all at last. 4 

And again: 

The caterpillars of the commonwealth. 
Which I have sworn to weed and pluck away. 5 

The mirror is a favorite comparison in both sets of writings, as 
usual the thing familiar and physical illustrating the thing 
abstruse and intellectual. 

Bacon says: 

God hath framed the mind of man as a mirror or glass capable of the image of 
the universal world. 6 


Now all the youth of England are on fire, . . 
Following the mirror of all Christian kings. 7 


That which I have propounded to myself is ... to shoiu you your true shape 
in a glass. 9, 

Shakespeare says of play-acting: 

Whose end both at the first, and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror 
up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very 
age and body of the time his form and pressure. 9 

Bacon says: 

If there be a mirror in the world worthy to hold men's eyes, it is that country." 

1 Henry V., iii, 7. * Advancement 0/ Learning, book i. 

3 History 0/ Henry VII. » Henry V., ii. cho. 

3 Essay Of Nature in Men, 6 Letter to Coke. 

* 2d Henry VI., i, 3. 9 Hamlet, iii , 2. 

• Richard II., ii, 3. J0 New Atlantis. 


try J 


Shakespeare says: 

The mirror of all courtesy. 1 

He was, indeed, the glass 
Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves. 2 

Here is another humble comparison. 


He thought it [the outbreak] but a rag or remnant of Bosworth-field. 3 

Shakespeare says: 

Away ! thou rag; thou quantity, thou remnant.* 
Here we have both words, rag and remnant, used figuratively,, 
and used in the same order. 


Thou rag of honor. 5 

Not a rag of money. 6 

Both writers use the humble habitation of the hog as a medium 

of comparison. 

Bacon: • 

Styed up in the schools and scholastic cells. 7 


And here you sty me 
On this hard rock. 8 

Here is a comparison based on the same familiar 'facts. 

Bacon speaks of 

The wisdom of rats that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall . * 

Shakespeare says: 

A rotten carcass of a butt, not rigged, 
Nor tackle, sail, nor mast ; the very rats 
Instinctively have quit it. 10 

The habits of birds are called into requisition by both writers. 

Bacon says: 

In her withdrawing-chamber the conspiracy against King Richard the Third 
had been hatched.™ 

Shakespeare says: 

Dire combustion and confused events 
New hatched to the woeful time. 1 ' 2 

1 Henry VIII., ii, 1. • Richard Iff, i, 3. 9 Essay Of Wisdom. 

1 2d Henry IV., ii, 3. K Comedy 0/ Errors, iv, 4. ,0 Tempest, i, 2. 

3 History of Henry VII. 7 Xatural History. u History of Henry VII- 

4 Taming of the Shrew, iv, 3. " Tempest, i, 2. ,a Macbeth, ii, 3. 


And again 

Such things become the hatch and brood of time. 1 

Bacon says: 

Will you be as a standing pool, that spendeth and choketh his spring within 
itself? 2 

Shakespeare says: 

There are a sort of men whose visages 

Do cream and mantle like a standing pond." 

Even the humble wagon forms a basis of comparison. 

Bacon says: 

This is the axle-tree whereupon I have turned and shall turn. 4 

And again Bacon says: 

The poles or axle-tree of heaven, upon which the conversion is accomplished. 5 

Shakespeare has: 

A bond of air strong as the axle-tree 
On which heaven rides. 6 

In the following another comparison is drawn from an humble 
source; and here, as in rag and remnant, not only is the same word 
used in both, but the same combination of words occurs. 

Bacon says: 

To reduce learning to certain empty and barren generalities; being but the 
very husks and shells of sciences. 7 

Shakespeare says: 

But the shales and husks of men. 8 

Strewed with the husks 
And formless ruin of oblivion. 9 

Who can forget Hamlet's exquisite description of the heavens: 
This majestic roof fretted with golden fire. 10 

Few have stopped to ask themselves the meaning of the word 
fretted. We turn to the dictionary and we find no explanation that 
satisfies us. We go to Bacon, to the mind that conceived the 
thought, and we find that it means ornamented by fret-work. 

1 2ci Henry IV., iii, i. 6 Troilus and Cress/da, i, 3. 

,J Gesta Grayomm — Life and II 'or As, vol. i, p. 339. 7 . idvancement of Learning, book ii. 

3 Merchant of J'enice, i, 1. s Henry I'., iv, 2. 

4 Letter to Earl of Essex, 1600. '•' Troilus and Cressida, iv, 5. 
* Advancement of Learning, book ii. ,8 Hamlet, ii, :;. 



For if that great Work-master had been of a human disposition, he would have 
cast the stars into some pleasant and beautiful works and orders, like the frets in 
the roofs of houses. 1 

Here we have a double identity: first, the heavens are compared 
to the roof of a house, or, more properly, the ceiling of a room; and 
secondly, the stars are compared to the fret-work which adorns 
such a ceiling. 

It would be very surprising if all this came out of two separate 

In the following we have another instance of two words used 

together in the same comparison. 
- Bacon: 

We set j/aot/j and seals of our own images upon God's creatures and works. - 
Shakespeare makes the nurse say to the black Aaron, bringing 

him his child: 

The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal, 
And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point. 3 

And again: 

Nay, he is your brother by the surer side, 
Although my seal he. stamped upon his face. 4 

Here we have precisely the same thought: Aaron had set "the 
stamp and seal of his own image " on his offspring. 

We find in both the mind of man compared to a fountain. 
Bacon says: 

When the books of hearts shall be opened, I hope I shall not be found to have 
the troubled fountain of a corrupt heart* 

Again : 

He [the King of Spain] hath by all means projected to trouble the waters here/' 

And again: 

One judicial and exemplar iniquity doth trouble the fountains of justice more 
than many particular injuries passed over by connivance. 7 

Pope Alexander . . . was desirous to trouble the waters in Italy. 8 
Shakespeare says: 

A woman moved is like a fountain troubled* 

» Advancement of Learning, book ii. * Report on Dr. Lopez' Treason— Li/i 
* Exfier. History. and Works, vol. i, p. 275. 

3 Titus A ndronictis, iv, 2. 7 Advancement of Learnings book ii.. 

4 Ibid. 8 History of Henry I r ff. 

6 Letter to the King. • Taming of the Skrew, \\ 2. 


My mind is troubled like a fountain stirred.' 

But if he start, 
It is the flesh of a corrupted heart. 1 ' 1 

In both we find the thoughts and emotions of a man compared 
to the coals which continue to live, although overwhelmed by mis- 
fortunes which cover them like ashes. 

Bacon says: 

Whilst I live my affection to do you service shall remain quick under the ashes 
of my fortune. 3 

And again: 

So that the sparks of my affection shall ever rest quick, under the ashes of my 
fortune, to do you service. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Pr'ythee go hence, 
Or I shall show the cinders of my spirits, 
Through the ashes of my chance. 5 

Again : 
Again : 

The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out, 
And strew'd repentant ashes on his head. 6 

This late dissension, grown betwixt the peers, 
Burns under feigned ashes of forged love, 
And will at last break out into aflame." 1 

And the expression in the above quotation from Bacon: 

The sparks of my affection, 

is paralleled in Shakespeare: 

Sparks of honor. 8 

Sparks of life. 9 

Sparks of nature. 10 

We find in both the state or kingdom compared to a ship, and 
the king or ruler to a steersman. 

Bacon says: 

Statesmen and such as sit at the helms of great kingdoms." 

In Shakespeare we find Suffolk promising Queen Margaret the 
control of the kingdom in these words: 

1 Troilus and Cressida, iii, 3. 6 King John, iv, 1. 

5 Merry Wives of Windsor, v, 5. 7 1st Henry VI., iii, 1. 

1 Letter to the Earl of Bristol. e Richard II., v x 6. 

4 Letter to Lord Viscount Falkland. ' Julius Cczsar, i, 3. 

* Antony and Cleopatra, v, 2. 10 Cymbeline, iii, 3; Lear, iii, 7. 

n /'/7/r. Queen Elizabeth, 

And again: 
And again : 


So, one by one, we'll weed them all at last, 
And you yourself shall steer the happy helm} 

God and King Henry govern England's helm.' 1 

A rarer spirit never 
Did steer humanitv. 3 


We have seen Bacon speaking, in a speech in Parliament, of 
those "viperous natures " that would drive out the people from the 
lands and leave " nothing but a shepherd and his dog." 

We find the same comparison, used in the same sense, in Shake- 

Where is this viper ' 
That would depopulate the city, 
And be every man himself? 4 

The overwhelming influence of music on the soul is compared 

by both to a rape or ravishment. 

Bacon says: 

Melodious tunes, so fitting and delighting the ears that heard them, as that it 
ravished and betrayed all passengers. . . . Winged enticements to ravish and 
rape mortal men. 5 

While Shakespeare says: 

Bv this divine air, now is his soul ravished.* 

And again; 

And again: 

When we, 
Almost with ravished listening, could not find 
His hour of speech a minute. 7 

One whom the music of his own vain tongue 
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony. 8 

We have in both the great power of circumstances compared to 
the rush of a flood of water. 


In this great deluge of danger. 9 


Thy deed inhuman and unnatural 
Provokes this deluge most unnatural. 1 " 

1 2d Henry VI., i, 3. " Much Ado about Nothing, ii, 5. 

^ Ibid., ii, 3. ''Henry VIII., i, 2. 

3 Antony and Cleopatra, v, 1. H Love's Labor Lost, i, 1. 

4 Coriolanus, iii, 1. 9 Felic. Queen Elizabeth. 
8 Wisdom 0/ the Ancients — The Sirens. 10 Richard ///., i, 2. 

35 2 




Thisy5W/of fortune. 1 

And such a flood of greatness fell. 2 

This great flood of visitors." 

In their effort to express great quantity we have both refer- 
ring to the ocean for their metaphors. 

Bacon has: 

He came with such a sea of multitude upon Italy. 4 

A sea of air. 5 
Shakespeare has precisely the same curious expression: 

A sea of air.* 

Bacon also has: 

Vast seas of time.' 

A sea of quicksilver. 8 
Again Bacon says: 

Will turn a sea of baser metal into gold. 9 
In Shakespeare the same "large composition" of the mind 
drives him to seek in the greatest of terrestrial objects a means of 
comparison with the huge subjects which fill his thoughts: 

A sea of joys. 10 

A sea of care. 11 

Shed seas of tears. 12 

A sea of glory. 13 

That sea of blood. 14 

A sea of woes. 15 

We also find in Hamlet : 

A sea of troubles. 16 

This word, thus employed, has been regarded as so peculiar and 
unusual that the commentators for a long time insisted that it was 
a misprint. Even Pope, himself a poet, altered it to read " a siege 
of troubles;" others would have it "assail of troubles." But we 

1 Twelfth Night, iv, 3. 6 Timon of Athens, iv, 2. n Henry VIII., iii, 2. 

2 1st Henry IV., v, 1. 7 Advancement of Learn- 12 Rape of Lucrece. 

8 Timon of Athens, i, 1. ing, book i. 1S 1st Henry VI., iv, 7. 

* Apophthegms. 8 Ibid., book ii. 14 3d Henry VI., ii, 5. 

6 Advancement of Learn- 9 Natural History, § 326. " Timon of Athens, i, 1. 

ing, book ii. 10 Pericles, v, 1. 1B Hamlet, iii, 1. 


see that it was a common expression with both Bacon and 

Bacon has also: 

The ocean of philosophy. 1 

The ocean of history. 2 
Shakespeare has: 

An ocean of his tears. 3 

An ocean of salt tears. 4 

In the same way the tides of the ocean became the source of 
numerous comparisons. 

The most striking was pointed out some time since by Montagu 
and Judge Holmes. Not only is the tide used as a metaphor, but 
it enforces precisely the same idea. 


In the third place, I set down reputation, because of the peremptory tides 
and currents it hath; which, if they be not taken in their due time, are seldom 
recovered. 5 

Shakespeare says: 

There is a tide in the affairs of men, 

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 

Omitted, all the voyage of their life 

Is bound in shallows and in miseries. 

On such a full sea are we now afloat; 

And we must take the current when it serves, 

Or lose our ventures. 6 

Bacon and Shakespeare recur very often to this image of the 


My Lord Coke floweth according to his own tides, and not according to the 
tides of business. 7 

Here "tides of business" is the same thought as "tides of 

affairs " in the foregoing quotation from Shakespeare. 

Bacon again says: 

The tide of any opportunity, . . . the periods and tides of estates. 8 
And again: 

Besides the open aids from the Duchess of Burgundy, there wanted not some 
secret tides from Maximilian and Charles. 9 

1 Exper. History. s Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 

2 Great Instauration. 6 Julius Ccesar, iv, 3. 

3 Two Gentlemen 0/ Verona, ii, 7. 7 Letter to the King, February 25, 1615. 

* 3d Henry VI., iii, 2. 8 Letter to Sir Robert Cecil. I 

9 History 0/ Henry I 'II. 


And again: 

The tides and currents of received errors. 1 
■ • 
Shakespeare says: 

The tide of blood in me 
Hath proudly flowed in vanity till now; 
Now doth it turn and ebb back to the sea; 
Where it shall mingle with the state of floods, 
And flow henceforth in formal majesty. 2 

And it will be observed that the curious fact is not that both 
should employ the word "tide" for that was of course a common 
word in the daily speech of all men, but that they should both 
employ it in a metaphorical sense; as the "tide of affairs," "the 
tide of business," "the tide of errors," "the tide of blood," etc. 

And not only the ocean itself and the tides, but the swelling of 
the waters by distant storms is an image constantly in the minds of 

Bacon says: 

There was an unusual swelling in the state, the forerunner of greater troubles. 8 

And again: 

Likewise it is everywhere taken notice of that waters do somewhat S7vell and 
rise before tempests,* 

While in Shakespeare we have the same comparison applied in 

the same way: 

Before the days of change, still is it so; 
By a divine instinct, men's minds mistrust 
Ensuing danger; as, by proof, we see 
The waters swell before a boisterous storm. 5 

And here we have this precise thought in Bacon: 

As there are certain hollow blasts of wind and secret swelling of seas before a 
tempest, so are there in stales/' 

Can any man believe this exact repetition, not only of thought, 
but of the mode of representing it by a figure of speech, was acci- 
dental ? 

And from this rising of the water both coin an adjective. 

Bacon says: 

Such a swelling season, 1 

meaning thereby one full of events and dangers. 

1 Statutes of Uses. 3 Fclic. Queen Elizabeth. " Richard 11/., ii, 3. 

8 2d Henry II'., V, 2. * Natural History of Winds. 8 Kssay Of Sedition. 

'' History of Henry VII, 

I DEN TIC A L ME 7 'A P HOR S. , - - 

While Shakespeare uses the adjective in the same peculiar 


As happy prologues to the swelling act 
Of the imperial theme. 1 


The swelling difference. - 

Again : 

Behold the swelling scene. 3 
Again : 

Noble, swelling spirits. 4 

The clouds, in both writers, furnish similes for overhanging 


Bacon says: 

Xevertheless, since 1 do perceive that this cloud hangs over the House. 1 

And again Bacon says: 

The King, . . . willing to leave a cloud upon him, . . . produced him 
openly to plead his pardon / ; 

Shakespeare says: 

And all the clouds that lowered upon our house 
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. 7 

And again Bacon says : 

But the cloud of so great a rebellion hanging over his head, made him work 
sure. 8 , 

Shakespeare says : 

How is it that the clouds still hang on you ?' 

Bacon says: 

The King had a careful eye where this wandering cloud would break. 10 


Can such things be, 
And overcome us like a summer's cloud, 
Without our special wonder? 11 

Bacon says: 

He had the image and superscription upon him of the Pope, in his honor of Car- 
dinal. 1 ' 

This thought is developed in Shakespeare into the well known 


A fellow by the hand of nature marked, 
Quoted and signed to do a deed of shame. 13 

1 Macbeth, i, 3. 5 Speech. s Hamlet, i, 2. 

2 Richard II., i, 1. • History of Henry VII. 10 History of Henry III. 

3 Henry V., i, cho. » Richard III., i, 1. » Macbeth, iii, 4. 

4 Othello, ii, 3. 8 History of Henry VII. l8 History of Henry VII. 

13 King John, iv, 2. 



In the one case the superscription of the Pope marks the Cardinal 
for honor; in the other the hand of nature has signed its signature 
upon the man to show that he is fit for a deed of shame. 

And Bacon uses the word signature in the following: 

Some immortal monument bearing a character and signature both of the 
power, etc. 1 

Bacon says: 

Meaning thereby to harrow his people. 2 

Shakespeare says: 

Let the Volsces 
Plow Rome and harrow Italy. 3 

And again: 

Whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul. 4 

Bacon says: 

Intending the discretion of behavior is a great thief of meditation* 

Shakespeare says: 

You thief of love * 

And again: 

A very little thief of occasion.' 

Bacon says: 

It was not long but Perkin, who was make of quicksilver, which is hard to hold 
or imprison, began to stir. 8 

While Shakespeare says: 

The rogue fled from me like quicksilver* 

And again: 

That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through 
The natural gates and alleys of the body. 10 

Here Perkin is compared to quicksilver by Bacon; and the 
volatile Pistol is compared to quicksilver by Shakespeare. 

Bacon says: 

They were executed ... at divers places upon the sea-coast of Kent, Sussex 
and Norfolk, for sea-marks or light-houses, to teach Perkin's people to avoid the 
coast. 11 

1 Advancement of Learning, book i. * Midsummer Night's Dream, iii, 2. 

2 History of Henry VII. 7 Coriolanus, ii, 1. 

8 Coriolanus, v, 3. * History of Henry I'll. 

* Hamlet, i, 5. 9 Hamlet, i, 5. 

6 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 10 2/ Henry II '., ii, 4- 

11 History of Henry I'll. 


Shakespeare uses the same comparison: 

The very sea-mark of my utmost sail. 1 

In both cases the words are used in a figurative sense. 

Bacon says: 

The King being lost in a 7vood of suspicion, and not knowing whom to trust.* 


And I — like one lost in a thorny wood, 

That rents the thorns, and is rent with the thorns, 

Seeking a way, and straying from the way; 

Not knowing how to find the open air, 

But toiling desperately to find it out. 3 

Speaking of the Perkin Warbeck conspiracy, Bacon says: 

This was a finer counterfeit stone than Lambert Simnel; being better done and 
worn upon greater hands; being graced after with the wearing of a King of 
France. 4 

And again: 

Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set} 

In Shakespeare, Richmond describes Richard III. as 

A base, foul stone, made precious by the foil 
Of England's chair, where he is falsely set.* 

Here Bacon represents Warbeck as a "counterfeit stone;" 
Shakespeare represents Richard III. as "a foul stone." One is 
graced by a King's wearing; the other is made precious by being 
"set" in the royal chair of England. 

Bacon says: 

Neither the excellence of wit, however great, nor the die of experience, how- 
ever frequently east, can overcome such disadvantages. 7 

And again Bacon says: 

Determined to put it to the hazard. % 

Shakespeare says: 

I have set my life upon a cast, 

And I will stand the hazard of the die. 9 

The singular thought that ships are walls to the land occurs in 

1 Othello, v, 2. 6 Essay Of Beauty. 

2 History of Henry I 'II. 8 Richard III., v, 3. 

3 3d Henry VI., iii, 2. 7 Preface to Great Instantiation. 

4 History of Henry I'll. s Wisdom of the A ncients — Sphynx. 

» Richard III., v, 4. 


And for the timber of this realm ... it is the matter for our walls, walls nor 
only for our houses, but for our island} 

Shakespeare speaks of the sea itself as a wall: 

This precious stone set in a silver sea, 
Which serves it in the office of a wall} 

Here again we see Bacon's "Virtue is like a rich slone,best plain 


And again Shakespeare says: 

When our sea-walled garden, the whole land, 
Is full of weeds. 3 

Bacon says; 

To speak and to trumpet out your commendations. 4 
Shakespeare says: 

Will plead like angels, ^r#w/><?/-tongued. 5 

Bacon says: 

This lure she cast abroad, thinking that this fame and belief . . . would draw 
at one time or other some birds to strike upon it. 6 

Shakespeare employs the same comparison. 

Petruchio says of Katharine: 

My falcon now is sharp and passing empty: 
And, till she stoop, she must not be full-gorged, 
For then she never looks upon her lure. 1 

Bacon has: 

W'hose leisurely and snail-like pace* 

Shakespeare has: 

Snail-paced beggary. 9 

Bacon says: 

But touching the reannexing of the duchy of Britain, . . . the embassador 
bare aloof from it as if it 7vas a rock} 

In the play of Henry VIII., Norfolk sees Wolsey coming, and 

says to Buckingham : 

Lo, where comes that rock 
That I advise your shunning." 

1 Case of Impeachment of Waste. 6 History of Henry I'll. 

8 Richard II., ii, i. 7 Faming of the Shrew, iv, 

8 Ibid., iii, 4. B History of Henry VII. 

4 Letter to Villiers, June 12, 1616. ■ Richard III., iv, 3. 

6 Macbeth, \, 7. 10 History of Henry VII. 

"Henry VIII., i, 1. 


Both use the tempering of wax as a metaphor. 

Bacon : 

The King would not take his [Lambert's] life, taking him but as an image of 
wax that others had tempered and molded. 1 

Falstaff says : 

There I will visit Master Robert Shallow, Esquire. I have him already temper- 
ing between my finger and my thumb, and shortly I will seal with him. 2 

Bacon says : 

With long and continual counterfeiting, and with oft telling a lie, he was 
turned by habit almost into the thing he seemed to be; and from a liar to a 

Shakespeare says: 

Like one 
Who having unto truth, by telling of it, 
Made such a sinner of his memory 
To credit his own lie. 4 

Bacon says: 

Fortune is of a woman's nature, and will sooner follow by slighting than by 
too much wooing. 5 

Shakespeare : 

Well, if fortune be a woman, she's a good wench for this gear. 6 


The Queen had endured a strange eclipse by the King's flight. 7 


I take my leave of thee, fair son, 
Born to eclipse thy life this afternoon. 8 

Bacon says: 

The King saw plainly that the kingdom must again be put to the stake, and that 
he must Jight for it. 9 

Shakespeare says: 

They have tied me to the stake ; I cannot fly, 
But, bear-like, I must fight the course. 10 

And again: 

Have you not set mine honor at the stake? " 

I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course. 18 

1 History of Henry VII. 5 Letter to Vilhers, 1616. 9 History of Henry VII. 

2 2d Henry IV, iv, 3. * Merchant of Venice, ii, 2. 10 Twelfth Night, iii, 1. 

3 History of Henry VII. 7 History of Henry VII. ' ' Macbeth, v, 7. 
* Tempest, i, 2. 8 1st Henry VI., iv, 5. I2 Lear, iii, 7. 


Speaking of the rebellion of Lambert Simnell, Bacon says: 

But their snow-ball did not gather as it went. 

Shakespeare says: 

If but a dozen French 
Were there in arms, they would be as a call 
To train ten thousand English to their side; 
Or, as a little snow, tumbled about, 
Anon becomes a mountain. 1 

Both conceive of truth as something buried deep and only to be 
gotten out by digging. 
Bacon says: 

As we can dig truth out of the mine. 2 

Shakespeare says: 

I will find 
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed 
Within the center. 3 

Both compare human life to a pilgrimage. 

In this progress and pilgrimage of human life. 4 

How brief the life of man 
Runs his erring pilgrimage ; 

That the stretching of a span 
Buckles in his sum of age. 5 

Both use the comparison of drowning to express overwhelmed 
or lost. 


Truth drowned in the depths of obscurity. 6 
Shakespeare says: 

While heart is drowned in cares. 1 

I drowned these news in tears. 8 

Bacon says: 

But men are wanting to themselves in laying this gift of the gods upon the 
back of a silly, slow-paced ass. 9 

1 King John, iv, 4. 6 As You Like It, iii, 2. 

* History 0/ Henry VII. « Wisdom of the A ncients — Prometheus. 

8 Hamlet, i, 2. 7 2( i Henry VI., iii, 1. 

4 Wisdom of the A ncients — Sfhynx. 8 3d Henry VI., ii, 1. 

9 Wisdom of the A ncients Prometheus. 



If thou art rich thou art poor, 
For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows. 
Thou bear' st thy heavy riches but a journey, 
And death unloads thee. 1 

In both we find the strange and unchristian thought that the 
heavenly powers use men as a means of amusement; and both 
express it with the same word, sport. 

Bacon says: 

As if it were a custom that no mortal man should be admitted to the table of 
the gods, but for sport.* 

Shakespeare says: 

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods: 
They kill us for their sport. 1 

Bacon says: 

Your life is nothing but a continual acting on the stage* 

While Shakespeare has: 

All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players. 5 

We find Bacon making this comparison in the address of the 

Sixth Counselor to the Prince: 

I assure your Excellency, their lessons were so cumbersome, as if they would 
make you a king in a play, who, when one would think he standeth in great 
majesty and felicity, is troubled to say his part. 6 

And we find Shakespeare making use of the same comparison 

in sonnet xxiii: 

As an imperfect actor on the stage, 
Who with his fear is put beside his part. 

Bacon says: 

The maintaining of the laws, which is the hedge and fence about the liberty of 
the subject. 7 

* Shakespeare uses the same comparison: 

There's such divinity doth hedge a king. 8 

Bacon says: 

The place I have in reversion, as it standeth now unto me. is like another 

1 Measure/or Measure, iii, i. % As You Like It, ii, 7. 

'- 1 Wisdom of the A ncients — Nemesis. * Gesta Grayorum — Life and M 'orks, vol. i, p. 

3 Lear, iv, 1. 7 Charge against St. John. 

4 Mask for Essex. ' ffam/et, iv, 5. 


man's ground reaching upon my house, which may mend my prospect, but doth; 
not fill my barn. 1 

While Shakespeare indulges in a parallel thought: 

Falstaff. Of what quality was your love, then? 

Ford. Like a fair house built on another man's ground; so that I have lost 
my edifice by mistaking the place where I erected it. 2 

Bacon says: 

Duty, though my state lie buried in the sands, and my favors be cast upon the 
waters, and my honors be committed to the wind, yet standeth surely built upon 
the rock, and hath been and ever shall be unforced and unattempted. 3 

And Shakespeare says: 

Yet my duty, 
As does a rock against the chiding flood, 
Should the approach of this wild river break 
And stand unshaken yours. 4 

Bacon, speaking of popular prophecies, says: 

My judgment is that 1 
ter talk by the fireside} 

Shakespeare says; 

My judgment is that they ought all to be despised and ought but to serve for 
winter talk by the fireside} 

Oh, these flaws and starts 
(Impostors to true fear) would well become 
A woman's story by a winter- s fire, 
Authorized by her grandam. 6 

In the Advertisement Touching an Holy War, Bacon uses the com- 
parison of a fan, separating the good from the bad by the wind 
thereof. Speaking of the extirpation of the Moors of Valencia, one 
of the parties to the dialogue, Zebedous, says: 

Make not hasty judgment, Gamaliel, of that great action, which was as 
Christ's fan in those countries. 

And in Troilus and Cressida we have the same comparison: 

Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan, 
Puffing at all, winnows the light away. 7 

Bacon says: 

Though the deaf adder will not hear, yet is he charmed that he doth not hiss. 

Shakespeare says in the sonnets: 

My adder sense 
To critic and to flatterer stopped is. 

1 Letter to the Lord Keeper. 4 Henry Fill., iii, 2. 

2 Merry Wives of Windsor, ii, 2. 5 Essay Of Prophecies, 

3 Letter written for Essex. • Macbeth, iii, 4. 

7 Troilus and Cressida i. 3. 

IDE. Y TIC A L ME 7V / / flOR S. 


Another very odd and unusual comparison is used by both: 

Bacon, referring to the rebellion of Cornwall and the pretensions 

of Perkin Warbeck to the crown, says: 

But now these bubbles began to meet as they use to do upon the top of the 
water.* * 

And again: 

The action in Ireland was but a bubble? 

Shakespeare says, speaking of the witches in Macbeth : 

The earth hath bubbles as the water has, 
And these are of them. 3 

And again: 

Seeking the bubble, reputation, 
Even in the cannon's mouth. 4 

And do but blow them to their trials, the bubbles are out. 

Bacon says: 

But it was ord; 
itself. 6 

Shakespeare says: 

But it was ordained that this winding-/^ of a Plantagenet should kill the true 
tree itself. 6 

That now he was 
The ivy which had hid my princely trunk 
And suck'd my virtue out on 't. 7 

Here it is not a reference merely to the ivy, but to the ivy as the 
destroyer of the tree, and in both cases applied metaphorically. 

Bacon says: 

Upon the first 
oign, Perkin w; 


Upon the first grain of incense that was sacrificed upon the altar of peace at 
Boloign, Perkin was smoked away. 8 

Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, 
The gods themselves throw incense} 

Here is a curious parallelism: 


The last words of those that suffer death for religion, like the songs of dying 
swans, do wonderfully work upon the minds of men, and strike and remain a long 
time in their senses and memories. 10 

1 History of Henry VII. * As You Like It, ii, 7. 7 Tempest, i, 2. 

* Ibid. 5 Hamlet, v, 2. 8 History of Henry VII. 

3 Macbeth* i, 3. 6 History of Henry I'll. 9 Lear, v, 3. 

10 Wisdom of the Ancients — Diomedes. 


Shakespeare says: 

And again: 
And again: 

The tongues of dying men 
Enforce attention like deep harmony. 1 

Then if he lose, he makes a swan-like end, 
Fading in music. 2 

'Tis strange that death should sing. 
I am the cygnet to this pale, faint swan, 
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death? 

Here we have in both not only the comparison of the words 
of dying men to the song of dying swans; but the fact is noted 
that the words of such men " enforce attention " and " strike and 
remain a long time " in the minds and memories of men. 

In both, the liming of bushes to catch birds is used as a meta- 
phor. Bacon says: 

Whatever service I do to her Majesty, it shall be thought to be but servitium 
viscatum, lime-twigs and fetches to place myself. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

They are limed with the twigs} 

Myself have limed a. bush for her. 6 

O limed soul, that, struggling to be free.' 

Like lime- twigs set. 8 

Mere fetches, the images of revolt. 9 

In both, sickness and death are compared to an arrest by an 


Bacon says, alluding to his sickness at Huntingdon: 

This present arrest of me by his Divine Majesty. 

Shakespeare says: 

This fell sergeant, Death, 
Is strict in his arrest.™ 

And in sonnet lxxiv Shakespeare says, speaking of his death: 

But be contented; when that fell arrest, 
Without all bail, shall carry me away. 

» Richard II. , ii, 1. 5 AlTs Well that Ends Well, iii, 5. 

5 Merchant of Venice, iii, 2. * 2d Henry VI., i, 3. 

3 King John, v, 7. 7 Hamlet, iii, 3. 

4 Letter to F. Greville — Life and Works, 8 2d Henry VI., iii, 3. 

vol. i, p. 359. 9 Lear, ii, 4. 
'• Hamlet, v, 2. 


Bacon speaks of 

The hour-glass of one man's life? 

Shakespeare says: 

Turning the accomplishment of many years 
Into an hour-glass.' 2 

In Bacon we have the odor of flowers compared to music: 

The breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where it comes and goes liks 
the warbling of music) than in the hand. 3 

Shakespeare reverses the figure, and compares the sounds of 

music to the odor of flowers: 

That strain again; — it had a dying fall; 
Oh, it came o'er my soul like the sweet south, 
That breathes upon a bank of violets, 
Stealing and giving odor. 4 

Bacon says: 

That repose of the mind which only rides at anchor upon hope.* 

Shakespeare says: 

See, Posthumus anchors upon Imogen/ 

Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue, 
Anchors on Isabel. 7 

Bacon says: 

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall* 

Shakespeare says: 

I charge thee fling away ambition: 
By that sin fell the angels? 

We have in Bacon the following curious expression: 

These things did he [King Henry] wisely foresee, . . . whereby all things fe/J 
into his lap as he desired. 10 

Shakespeare says: 

Now the time is come 
That France must veil her lofty plumed crest, 

And let her head fall into England's lap? 1 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 6 Cymbeline, v. 5. 

2 Henry V., prologue. 7 Measure for Measure, ii, 4^ 

3 Essay 0/ Gardens. 6 Essay Of Goodness. 
« Twelfth Night, i, 1. ■ Henry I III., iii, 2. 

5 Med. Sacra— Of Earthly Hope. 10 History of Henry I '//. 

11 Henry 7 Y., v, 2. 

°r I'M r ^V 

3 66 


We all remember Keats' touching epitaph: 

Here lies one whose name was writ in water. 

We find the original of this thought in Shakespeare: 

Noble madam, 
Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues 
We write in water. 1 

And if we follow back the pedigree of the thought we find it in 


High treason is not "written in ice.' 1 

And this reappears in Shakespeare thus: 

This weak impress of love is as a figure 
TrencJid in ice, which with an hour's heat 
Dissolves to water, and does lose his form. 3 


Your beadsman therefore addresseth himself to your Majesty. 4 


Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers, 
For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine. 5 

In the following we have a striking parallelism. Bacon says: 

In this theater of man's life it is reserved, etc. fi 

Shakespeare says: 

This wide and universal theater 

Presents more woeful pageants than the scene 

Wherein we play. 1 

And we have the same thought presented in another form. 

Bacon says: 

Your life is nothing but a continual acting upon a stage. 9, 

Shakespeare says: 

All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players.'' 

Bacon says: 

For this giant bestrideth the sea; and I would take and snare him by the foot on 
this side.' 

1 Henry VIII. , IT, 2. • Advancement of Learning. 

* Coll. Sent. 7 As You Like It, ii, 6. 
8 Two Gentlemen of Verona, iii, 2. 8 Mask. 

4 Letter to the King. 9 As You Like It. ii, 7 . 

* Two Gentlemen of Verona, i, i. l0 Duels. 


3 6 7 

Shakespeare says: 

His legs bestrid the ocean} 
And again : 

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world 
Like a Colossus. - 

Bacon says 

Many were glad that these fears and uncertainties were overblown, and that the 
die was cast. 3 

Shakespeare says: 

The ague-tit of fear is overblown* 


At 'scapes and perils overblown* 

Bacon says: 

Religion, justice, counsel and treasure are the four pillars of government* 

Shakespeare says: 

Brave peers of England, pillars of the state." 

The triple pillar of the world. 5 

These shoulders, these ruined///. 'ars. * 

I charge you by the law, 
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar}" 

The seeds of plants furnish a favorite subject of comparison 
with both writers. 

Bacon speaks of ideas that 

Cast their seeds in the minds of others. 11 
He also refers to 

The secret seeds of diseases. 1 - 

Again he says: 

There has been covered in my mind a long time a seed of affection and zeal 
loward your Lordship. 13 

Shakespeare says: 

There is a history in all men's lives 
Figuring the nature of the times deceased; 

1 Antony and Cleopatra, v, ». 7 2d Henry I'/., i, i. 

2 Julius Ccesar, i, 2. 8 Antony and Cleopatra, i, 1. 

3 Begin. History 0/ Great Britain. 9 Henry I'll I., iii, 2. 

4 Richard II., iii, 2. 10 Merchant of J'enice, iv, 1. 

5 Taming- of the Shrew, v. . ' l Advancement of Learning, book i. 
* Essay Of Seditions. » 2 Essay Of Despatch . 

12 Letter to Carl of Northumberland. 



The which observed, a man may prophesy, 
With a near aim, of the main chance of things 
As yet to come to life; which in their seeds 
And weak beginnings lie intreasured. 1 

He also speaks of 

The seed of honor. 2 

The seeds of time. 

Bacon compares himself to a torch: 

I shall, perhaps, before my death have rendered the age a light unto posterity, 
by kindling this new torch amid the darkness of philosophy. 4 

Again he says: 

Matters should receive success by combat and emulation, and not hang upon 
any one mans sparkling and shaking torch. h 

Shakespeare says: 

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. 6 

Speaking of Fortune, Shakespeare says: 

The wise and fool, the artist and unread, 
The hard and soft, seem all affin'd and kin: 
But fn the wind and tempest of her frown, 
Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan, 
Puffing at all, winnows the light away; 
And what hath mass or matter, by itself 
Lies, rich in virtue and unmingled? 

And in Bacon we have the same comparison of the winnowing 

fan separating the light from the heavy. He says, speaking of 

church matters: 

And what are mingled but as the chaff and the corn, which need but a fan to 
sift and sever them. 8 

Shakespeare says: 

Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France. 9 

Bacon, describing Essex' expedition against Cadiz, said: 

This journey was like lightning. For in the space of fourteen hours the King 
of Spain's navy was destroyed and the town of Cales taken. 10 

1 2d Henry 1 V. , iii , i . 5 Wisdom of the A ncieuts — Prometheus. 

2 Merchant of Venice \ ii, 9. 8 Measure for Measure, i, 1. 

3 Macbeth, i, 3. 7 Troilus and Cress ida, i, 3. 

4 Letter to King James, prefaced to Great 8 The Pacification of the Church. 

Jnstauration. ° Kingfohn, i, 1. 

10 Consid. touching War with Spain. 


Bacon called one of his great philosophical works 

The scaling-ladder of the intelligence. 

Shakespeare has: 

Northumberland, thou ladder, wherewithal 
The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne. 1 

Bacon says: 

It is the wisdom of crocodiles that shed tears when they would devour.' 2 

Shakespeare says: 

Gloster's show 
Beguiles him, as the mournful crocodile 
With sorrow snares relenting passengers. 3 

Says Bacon: 

The axe should be put to the root of the tree. 4 

Says Shakespeare: 

We set the axe to thy usurping root. 5 

But the field of labor in this direction is simply boundless. 
One whose memory is stored with the expressions found in the two 
sets of writings cannot open either one without being vividly 
reminded of the other. Both writers, if we are to consider them, 
for the sake of argument, as two persons, thought in the same way: 
the cast of mind in each was figurative and metaphorical; both 
vivified the driest details with the electricity of the imagination, 
weaving it through them like lightning among the clouds; and 
each, as I have shown, was very much in the habit of repeating 
himself, and thus reiterated the same figures of speech time and 

1 Richard II., v, i. 3 2d Henry VI., Hi, 1. 

a Essay Of Wisdom for a Man's Self. 4 Proceedings at York House. 

6 3d Henry VI., ii, 2. 



A plague of opinion ! A man may wear it on both sides like a leather jerkin. 

Troilus and Cressida, Hi, 3. 

WE come now to another group of parallelisms — those of 
thoughts, opinions or beliefs, where the identity is not in 
the expression, but in the underlying conception. 

We find that both writers had great purposes or intentions of 
working for immortality; the one figuring his works as "banks or 
mounts," great earthworks, as it were; the other as great 
foundations or "bases" on which the future might build. 
Bacon says: 

I resolved to spend my time wholly in writing, and to put forth that poor 
talent or half talent, or what it is, that God hath given me, not, as hereto- 
fore, to particular exchanges, but to banks or mounts of perpetuity, which will not 
break. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

Were it aught to me I bore the canopy, 

With my extern the outward honoring, 
Or laid great bases for eternity, 

Which prove more short than waste or ruining. 2 

Here the same idea runs through both expressions — "banks of 
perpetuity" and "bases for eternity." 

Both believed that a wise government should be omniscient. 
Bacon says: 

So unto princes and states, especially towards wise senators and councils, the 
natures and dispositions of the people, their conditions and necessities, their fac- 
tions and combinations, their animosities and discontents, ought to be, in regard 
to the variety of their intelligence, the wisdom of their observations and the height 
of their station where they keep sentinel, in great part clear and transparent. 3 

Shakespeare says: 

The providence that's in a watchful state 
Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold; 
Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps; 

1 Touching a Holy War, 2 Sonnet cxxv. 3 Advancement 0/ Learning, bookii. 



Keeps place with thought, and, almost like the gods, 

Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles. 

There is a mystery (with whom relation 

Durst never meddle) in the soul of state; 

Which hath an operation more divine 

Than breath, or pen, can give expression to. 1 

Both had noted that envy eats into the spirits and the very body 
of a man. 

Bacon says: 

Love and envy do make a man pine, which other affections do not, because 
they are not so continual.' 

Such men in other men's calamities are, as it were, in season, and are ever on 
the loading part. 3 

Envy is the worst of all passions, and feedeth upon the spirits, and they again 
upon the body. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look: . . . 
Such men as he be never at heart's ease 
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves. 5 

Both speak of hope as a medicine of the mind. Bacon says: 

To make hope the antidote of human diseases." 5 
And again: 

And as Aristotle saith, "That young men may be happy, but not otherwise 

but by hope.'" " 

Shakespeare says: 

The miserable have no other medicine 
But only hope.* 

Both had observed the shriveling of parchment in heat. Bacon 

The parts of wood split and contract, shins become shriveled, and not only 
that, but if the spirit be emitted suddenly by the heat of the fire, become so hastily 
contracted as to twist and roll themselves up. 9 

Shakespeare uses the same fact as the basis of a striking com- 
parison, as to King John, dying of poison: 

There is so hot a summer in my bosom, 
That all my bowels crumble up to dust: 
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen 
Upon a parchment; and against this fire 
Do I shrink up. 10 

1 Troilus and Cressida, iii, 3. 4 History o/Life and Death. 7 Advancement 0/ Learning. 

8 Essay Of Envy . * Julius Caesar, i, 2. B Measure for Measure, iii, 1. , 

3 Essay Of Goodness. • Med. Sacra. • Novum Organunt, book ii. 

•• King John, v, 7. 



We find both dwelling upon the fact that a shrewd mind will 

turn even disadvantages to use. Bacon says: 

Excellent wits will make use of every little thing} 

Falstaff says: 

It is no matter if I do halt; I have the wars for my color, and my pension 
shall seem the more reasonable. A good wit will make use of anything. I will 
turn diseases to commodity.' 2 

Both had observed that sounds are heard better at night than 

by day. Bacon says: 

Sounds are better heard, and farther off, in the evening or in the night, than at 
the noon or in the day. . . . But when the air is more thick, as in the night, the 
sound spendeth and spreadeth. As for the night, it is true also that the general 
silence helpeth. 3 

Shakespeare says: 

Soft stillness and the night 
Become the touches of sweet harmony. 4 

And again: 

Nerissa. It is your music, madam, of the house. 
Portia. Nothing is good, I see, without respect; 
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day. 5 

In the following it appears that the same observation had 

occurred to both in another instance. 

Bacon says: 

Anger suppressed is also a kind of vexation, and causeth the spirit to feed 
upon the juices of the body; but let loose and breaking forth it helpeth. 6 

Shakespeare says: 
And again: 

The grief that will not speak 
Whispers the o'erfraught heart and bids it break. ' 

The heart hath treble wrong 
When it is barred the aidance of the tongue. 8 

Both allude to the same curious belief. Bacon says: 

The heavens turn about in a most rapid motion, without noise to us perceived; 
though in some dreams they have been said to make an excellent music. 9 

1 Bacon's letter to Sir Foulke Greville, written in the name of the Earl of Essex — Life and' 
Works, vol. ii, p. 23. 

2 2d Henry IV., i, 2. 8 History of Life and Death. 

3 Natural History, cent, ii, §143. 7 Macbeth, iv, 3. 

4 Merchant of Venice, v, t. * Poems. 

6 Ibid. • Natural History cent. ii. 


Shakespeare idealizes dreams thus: 

There's not the smallest orb which thou beholdest 
But in his motion like an angel sings, 
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims. 1 

And here we find both drawing the same distinction between 

the approbation of the wise and the foolish. 

Hamlet says to the players: 

Now this, overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, 
cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must, in your 
allowance, o'er-weigh a whole theater of others." 

Bacon says: 

So it may be said of ostentation, " Boldly sound your own praises, and some of 
it will stick." It will stick in the more ignorant and the populace, though men of 
wisdom may smile at it; and the reputation won with many will amply countervail 
the disdain of a few. 3 

This conclusion is, of course, ironical. 

Bacon compares the earth to an ant-hill, with the men. 

Like ants, crawKug up and down. Some carry corn and some carry their 
young, and some go empty, and all — to and fro — a little heap of dust* 

And we find the same thought in Hamlet: 

What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven. 5 

Here the word crawling expresses the thought of something 

vermin-like, insect-like, and the comparison of the whole ant-hill of 

the crawling world to "a little heap of dust" was in Bacon's mind 

when he wrote: 

What a piece of work is man! . . . And yet to me what is this quintessence of 
dust ? 

Both had noticed the servility of the creatures that fawn on 
power. Bacon says: 

Such instruments as are never failing about princes, which spy into their 
humors and conceits and second them; and not only second them, but in second- 
ing increase them; yea, and many times without their knowledge pursue them 
farther than themselves would. 6 

Shakespeare puts these words into the mouth of King John: 
It is the curse of kings to be attended 
By slaves that take their humor for a warrant 
To break within the bloody house of life; 

1 Merchant of Venice, v, i. 4 Advancement of Learning, book i. 

* Hamlet, iii, 2. 5 Hamlet, iii. 1. 

3 De Attgrneniis, book \ iii, p. 281. 6 Letter to Essex, Oct. 4, 1596. 


And, on the winking of authority, 

To understand a law; to know the meaning 

Of dangerous majesty, when, perchance, it frowns 

More upon humor than advised respect. 1 

Here the same thought is followed out to the same after- 
thought: that the creature exceeds the purpose of the king, in his 
superserviceable zeal. 

Bacon says: 

He prays and labors for that which he knows he shall be no less happy with- 
out; ... he believes his prayers are heard, even when they are denied, and gives 
thanks for that which he prays against. - 

Shakespeare says: 

We, ignorant of ourselves, 
Beg often our own harm, which the wise powers 
Deny us for our good; so find we profit 
. By losing of our prayers. 3 

The Rev. H. L. Singleton, of Maryland, calls my attention to 

the following parallelism. 

Bacon says: 

And, therefore, it is no wonder that art hath not the power to conquer nature, 
and by pact or law of conquest to kill her; but on the contrary, it turns out that art 
becomes subject to nature, and yields obedience as wife to husband. 4 

And we find in Shakespeare the same philosophy that nature is 

superior to the very art which seeks to change her. He says: 

Perdita. For I have heard it said, 

There is an art which, in their piedness, shares 

With great creating nature. 

Polixenes. Say there be; 

Yet nature is made better by no mean 

But nature makes that mean; so, over that art 

Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art 

That nature makes. 5 

Again Shakespeare says: 

Nature's above art. 6 
Compare this with Bacon's expression, above: 

Art becomes subject to nature. 

And Bacon says in The New Atlantis : 

We make by art, in the same orchards and gardens, trees and flowers to come 

1 King John, iv, 2. 4 Atalanta or Gain, 

2 Character of a Believing Christian, § 22. ; ' Winter's Tale, iv, 3. 
» A ntony and Cleopatra. * Lear, iv, 6. 


earlier or later than their seasons, and to come up and bear more speedily than by 
their natural course they do. We make them also by their art greater than their 
nature. 1 

This is the same thought that we find in the verses above 


That art 
Which, you say, adds to nature. 

Mr. J. T. Cobb calls attention to the following parallelism of 

thought. In book ii, Advancement of Learning, Bacon says: 

These three, as in the body so in the mind, seldom meet and commonly sever; 
. . . and sometimes two of them meet, and rarely all three. -' 

While in the Shakespeare sonnets we have: 

Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords, 
Fair, kind and true, have often lived alone, 
Which three, till now, never did meet in one. :; 

Both regarded rather the fact than the expression of it. 

Bacon says: 

Here, therefore, is the first distemper of learning, when men study words, and 
not matter. 4 

We seem to hear Hamlet's mocking utterance 

What read you, my lord ? 
Words, words, words. 5 

Miss Delia Bacon notea that both held the same view as to the 

dependence of men on events. 

Shakespeare says: 

So our virtues 
Lie in the interpretation of the times. 6 

While Bacon says: 

The times, in many cases, give great light to true interpretations. 

Mrs. Pott calls attention to the following parallelism. In 
Bacon's Promus, No. 972, we have : 

Always let losers have their words. 
And Shakespeare echoes this as follows: 

Losers will have leave 
To ease their stomachs with their bitter words." 1 

1 New Atlantis. 4 Advancement of Learning, book i. 

* 1 Montagu, p. 228. ~° Hamlet, ii, 2. 

8 Sonnet cv. , * Coriolanus, iv, 7. 

7 Titus Andronicus. iii, 1. 



And well such losers may have leave to speak. 1 

Bacon says: 

For protestations, and professions, and apologies, I never found them very 
fortunate; but they rather increase suspicion than clear it.. 8 

In Shakespeare we have: 

Hamlet. Madam, how like you this play? 
Queen. The lady protests too much, methinks. 3 

Both even used and believed in the same drug. 

Bacon says: 

For opening, I commend beads or pieces of carduus benedictus. 4 

In Much Ado about Nothing we have : 

Get you some of this distilled carduus benedictus and lay it to your heart; it is 
the only thing for a qualm. 5 

Both believed that murders were brought to light by the opera- 
tion of God. Bacon speaks of the belief in the wounds of the mur- 
dered man bleeding afresh at the approach of the murderer, and 

It may be that this participateth of a miracle, by God's judgment, zvho usually 
bringeth murders to light. 

Macbeth says : 

It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood;. 
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak 
Augurs, and understood relations have 
By magot-spies, and choughs and rooks, brought forth 
The secretest man of blood. 6 

Bacon speaks of 

The instant occasion flying away irreconcilably.' 1 

Shakespeare says: 

The. flighty purpose never is d ertook 
Unless the act go with it. 8 

Church speaks of Bacon's 

Great idea of the reality and boundless worth of knowledge . . . which 
had taken possession of his whole nature. 9 

1 2d Henry VI., iii, i. 5 Much Ado about Nothings iii, 4. 

2 Speech about Undertakers. 6 Macbeth, iii, 4. 

3 Hamlet, iii, 2. " Speech as Lord Chancellor. 
* Natural History, cent, x, §963. 8 Macbeth, iv, 1. 


Shakespeare says: 

There is no darkness but ignorance.' 
Oh, thou monster, ignorance ! - 

Bacon says: 

There is no prison to the prison of the thoughts." 

Shakespeare has the same thought: 

Hamlet. Denmark's a prison. 

Rosencrantz. Then is the world one. 

Hani. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons; 
Denmark being one of the worst. 

Ros. We think not so, my lord. ^ 

Ham. Why, then./tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but 
thinking makes it so; to me it is a prison. 4 

As this book is going through the press Mr. James T. Cobb calls 
my attention to the following parallelism. 

Bacon, in the Novum Organum, referring to the effect of opiates, 

says : 

The same opiates, when taken in moderation, do strengthen the spirits, render 
them more robust, and check the useless and inflammatory motion. 5 

Falstaff, describing the effect of wine on the system, says, speak- 
ing of the "demure boys," like Prince John: 

They are generally fools and cowards; which some of us should be, too, but 
f o r infla m m at ion} 

This word inflammation is uncommon: this is the only occasion 
on which it appears in the Plays. 

Shakespeare speaks of 

Sermons in stones and good in everything. 
Bacon says: 

There is found in every thing a. double nature oi good? 

And here we have a curious parallelism. Bacon says: 

It is more than a philosopher morally can digest; but, without any such high 
conceit, I esteem it like the pulling out of an aching tooth, which I remember, 
when I was a child and had little philosophy, I was glad of when it was done.® 

1 Twelfth Night, iv, 2. 4 Hamlet, ii, 2. ' Advancement of Learning 

2 Lozie's Labor Lost, iv, 2. 5 Novum Organum, book ii. book ii. 

3 Mask for Earl of Essex. 6 id Henry I\\, iv. •. * Letter to Essex. 



While Shakespeare links the philosopher and the tooth-ache 
together thus: 

For there was never yet philosopher 
That could endure the tooth-ache patiently; 
However, they have writ the style of gods, 
And made a pish at chance and sufferance. 1 

The various modes in which fortunes are obtained had occurred 
to both writers. Bacon says: 

Fortunes are not obtained without all this ado; for I know they come tumbling 
into some men's laps; and a number obtain good fortunes by diligence in a plain 
way. 2 

Shakespeare says: 

Some men are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness 
thrust upon them. 3 

That is to say, greatness " tumbles into their laps." 

And to both had come the thought that while fortune gave with 

one hand she stinted with the other. 

Bacon says: 

It is easy to observe that many have strength of wit and courage, but have 
neither help from perturbations, nor any beauty or decency in their doings; some 
again have an elegancy and fineness of carriage, which have neither soundness of 
honesty nor substance of sufficiency; and some, again, have honest and reformed 
minds and can neither become themselves or manage business; and sometimes 
two of them meet, and rarely all three. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Will fortune never come with both hands full ? . . . 
She either gives a stomach and no food — 
Such are the poor in health; or else a feast, 
And takes away the stomach — such are the rich 
That have abundance and enjoy it not. 5 

Bacon says: 

It is not good to look too long upon these turning wheels of vicissitude, lest 
we become giddy. 6 

Shakespeare has: 

Fortune, good-night; smile again, 
Turn thy wheel? 


Giddy Fortune 's furious fickle wheel.* 

1 Much Ado about Nothing, v. i. B 2d Henry J I '., iv. 4,. 

2 Advancement of Learning, book ii. fi History 0/ Life and Death. 
* Twelfth Night, iii, 5. • Lear, ii, 2. 

4 Advancement of L earning, book ii. 8 Henry /". iii, 6. 



Consider it not so deeply, 
That way madness lies. 1 

We find that both writers realized the wonderfully complex 

character of the human creature. 

Bacon says: 

Of all things comprehended within the compass of the universe, man is a thing 
most mixed and compounded, insomuch that he was well termed by the ancients 
a little world. ... It is furnished with most admirable virtues and faculties. % 

And again: 

Of all the substances which nature hath produced, man's body is most extremely 
compounded: ... in his mansion, sleep, exercise, passions, man hath infinite 

The Plays were written, in part, to illustrate the characteristics 

of that wonderfully compounded creature, man. And in them we 


What a piece of work is man ! How noble in reason ! How infinite in faculty! 
In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel ! In 
apprehension how like a god ! The beauty of the world ! The paragon of animals ! 4 

These are the admirable faculties referred to by Bacon; and 
" the little world " of the ancients, the microcosm, reappears in Shake- 

If you see this in the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well 
enough too? 5 

And in the play of Richard II. we find the very expression. 

"little world," applied to the human being: 

My brain 1*11 prove the female to my soul; 

My soul the father: and these two beget 

A generation of still-breeding thoughts, 

And these same thoughts people this little world; 

In humors like the people of this world/' 

Bacon has the following thought : 

Xo doubt in him, as in all men, and most of all in kings, his fortune wrought 
upon his nature, and his nature upon his fortune. 7 

The same thought occurs in Shakespeare: 
I grow to what I work in. 
Like the dver's hand. 8 

1 Macbeth, ii, 2. 5 Coriolanus, ii, t. 

2 Wisdom of the A ncients — Prometheus. 8 Richard II., v, 4. 

3 Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 7 History 0/ Henry VII. 
* Hamlet, ii. 2. a Sonnet. 

°r rut + 


And both concurred in another curious belief. 

Bacon says: 

And therefore whatsoever want a man hath, he must see that he pretend the 
virtue that shadoweth it. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

Assume a virtue if you have it not. 2 

Bacon says: 

Envy makes greatness the mark and accusation the game. 

Shakespeare says: 

That thou art blarhed shall not be thy defect, 

For slander's mark was ever yet the fair; 
The ornament of beauty is suspect, 

A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air. ;; 

Something of the same thought is found in Bacon's Promus, 
No. 41: 

Dat veniam corvis vexat censura columbas. (Censure pardons crows, but bears 
hard on doves.) 

" Slander's mark was ever yet the fair." The beautiful dove falls 

readily under suspicion; but censure pardons " the crow that flies 

in heaven's sweetest air." 

Bacon says: 

Health consisteth in an unmovable constancy and a freedom from passions, 
which are indeed the sicknesses of the mind* 

Macbeth asks the physician: 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased? 1 

Bacon says: 

For reverence is that wherewith princes are girt from God. 6 

And again: 

For God hath imprinted such a majesty in the face of a prince that no private 
man dare approach the person of his sovereign with a traitorous intent. 7 ■ 

Shakespeare surrounds the king with a hedge — a divine hedge 
— which girts him: 

There's such divinity doth hedge a king, 
That treason can but peep to what it would, 
Acts little of his will. 8 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 
^ Hamlet, iii, 4. 

3 Sonnet lxx. 

4 Letter to Earl of Rutland, written 

in the name of the Earl of Essex. 

6 Macbeth, v, 3. 

6 Essay Of Seditions. 

" Speech on the Trial of Essex. 

h Hamlet, iv, 5. 



Says Bacon: 

This princess having the spirit of a man and malice of a woman. 1 
Shakespeare has a similar antithesis: 

I have a man's mind, but a woman's might. 2 

The indestructibility of thought as compared with the tempo- 
rary nature of material things had occurred to both. Bacon says: 

For have not the verses of Homer continued twenty-five hundred years, with- 
out the loss of a syllable or a letter, during which time infinite palaces, temples, 
castles, cities have been decayed and demolished. 3 

And Shakespeare, in a magnificent burst of egotism, possible 

only under a mask, cries out: 

Xot marble, 
Nor the gilded monuments of princes, 
Shall outlive this powerful rhyme. 4 

Bacon has this thought: 

For opportunity makes the thief. 5 

Shakespeare says: 

And even thence thou wilt be stolen, 1 fear, 
For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear. 6 

And again: 

Rich preys make true men thieves. 7 

And again: 

How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds 
Makes ill deeds done. 8 

Bacon tells us that King Henry VII. sent his commissioners to 

inspect the Queen of Naples with a view to matrimony, and desired 


To report as to her " complexion, favor, feature, stature, health, age, customs, 
behavior, condition and estate," as if he meant to find all things in one woman.* 

And in Shakespeare we find Benedick soliloquizing: 

One woman is fair; yet I am well: another is wise; yet I am well: another vir- 
tuous; yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come 
in mv grace. 10 

1 History of Henry I'/t. 6 Sonnet xlviii. 

' Julius Ccesar, ii, 4. 7 Venus and Adonis. 

3 Advancement of Learning, book i. 8 King John, iv, 2. 

4 Sonnet. 9 History of Henry 17/. 

5 Letter to Essex, 1598. 10 Much Ado about Nothing, ii, 2, 


Bacon says: 

The corruption of the best things is the worst. 1 
Shakespeare has the same thought: 

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.* 2 

Bacon speaks of 

The mind of man drawn over and clouded with the sable pavilion of the body. 1 

And Bacon also says: 

So differing a harmony there is between the spirit of man and the spirit of 
nature. 4 

While Shakespeare says: 

Such harmony is in mortal souls; 

But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay 

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. 5 

Bacon says: 

A king is a mortal god on earth* 

Shakespeare says: 

True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings, 
Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings. 1 


Kipgs are earth's gods; in vice their law's their will. 8 


He is their god; he leads them like a thing 
Made by some other deity than Nature. 9 

Bacon says: 

A beautiful face is a silent commendation.™ 

Shakespeare says: 

The beauty that is borne here in the face 
The bearer knows not, but commends itseif 
To others' eyes. 11 

We find a curious parallelism in the following. Bacon says: 

For we die daily; and as others have given place to us, so we must in the end 
give way to others. 12 

1 History of Henry VII. * New Atlantis. 8 Pericles, i, i. 

' 2 Sonnet. 6 Merchant of Venice, v, i. 9 Coriolanus, iv, 6. 

3 Advancement of Learn- *TL8&a.yOfaKing: 10 Orna. Rati. 

ing, book ii. 7 Richard III., v, 2. n Troilits and Cressida, iii, 3. 

"Essay Of Death. 


Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Orlando these words; 


Only in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have 
made it empty. 1 

Bacon says: 

The expectation [of death] brings terror, and that exceeds the evil. 2 

Shakespeare says: 

Dost thou fear to die ? 
The sense of death is most in apprehension/ 1 

Bacon says: 

Art thou drowned in security ? Then say thou art perfectly dead. 

Shakespeare says: 

You all know, security 
Is mortal's chiefest enemy. 4 

Hamlet discusses the length of time a body will last in the 

earth. And Bacon had studied the same curious subject, and he 

notes the fact that 

In churchyards where they bury much, the earth will consume the corpse in far 
shorter time than other earth will. 8 

Bacon says: 

The green caterpillar breedeth in the inward parts of roses, especially not 
blown, where the dew sticketh. 6 

Shakespeare says: 

But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, 
Feed on her damask cheek. 7 

H. L. Haydel, of St. Louis, calls my attention to the following 
parallelism noted by Rev. Henry N. Hudson, in his note upon a 
passage in Hamlet, i, 4. 

Mr. Hudson gives the passage, in his edition of the Plays, as fol- 

Their virtues else — be they as pure as grace, 

As infinite as man may undergo — 

Shall in the general censure take corruption 

From that particular fault; the dram of leaven 

Doth all the noble substance of 'em sour 

To his own scandal. 

Hudson says in his foot-note: 

The meaning is that the dram of leaven sours all the noble substance of their 

1 As ] 'on Like It, i, 2. * Macbeth, iii, 5. • Ibid, § 728. 

2 Essay Of Death. 3 Natural History, § 330. 7 Twelfth Night, ii, 4. ' 
:i Measure for Measure, iii, 1. 


virtues. . . . And so in Bacon's History of Henry I'll.: "And as a little leaven of 
new distaste doth commonly sour the whole lump of former merits." 

Here again we find the critics reading the obscure passages in 
Shakespeare by the light of Bacon's utterances. 

Both writers felt a profound contempt for the authority of books 
alone. In Shakespeare this was most remarkable. A mere poet, 
with no new philosophy to introduce, seeking in the writings of 
preceding ages only for the beautiful, could have had no motive 
for thus attacking existing opinions. And yet we find him 

Study is like the heavens' glorious sun, 

That will not be deep-searched with saucy looks; 

Small have continual plodders ever won, 
Save base authority, from others' books. 1 

In Bacon we find the same opinion and the reason for it. His 
whole life was a protest against the accepted conclusions of his 
age; his system could only rise upon the overthrow of that of Aris- 
totle. He protested against 

The first distemper of learning, when men study words and not matter. 2 

Again he says: 

In the universities of Europe men learn nothing but to believe; first to believe 
that others know that which they know not; and after, themselves to believe that 
they know that which they know not. 3 

And again: 

Are we richer by one poor invention by reason of all the learning that hath 
been these many hundred years. 4 

And again he says: 

Neither let him embrace the license of contradicting or the servitude of 

This is the very expression of Shakespeare: 

Small have continual plodders ever won, 
Save base authority. 

And again Bacon says: 

To make judgment wholly by their rules [studies] is the humor of a scholar. 
Crafty men contemn them, simple men admire them, and wise men use them. 

1 Love's Labor Lost, i, 1. 4 Ibid. 

2 Advancement of Learning, book i. 5 Interpretation 0/ Nature. 

3 In Praise 0/ Knowledge. 6 Essay Of Studies. 


And Shakespeare says: 

Why universal plodding prisons up 
The nimble spirits in the arteries. 1 

And in this connection we have the following opinion of Bacon: 

It seems to me that Pygmalion's frenzy is a good emblem or portraiture of this 
vanity, for words are but the images of matter; and, except they have life of 
reason and invention, to fall in love with them is all one to fall in love with a 

We hear the echo of this thought in Hamlet's contemptuous 

Words, 7cords, ivords. 

And Bacon's very thought is found again in the following: 

Idle words, servants to shallow fools. 

Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators ! 
Busy yourselves in skull-contending schools; 

Debate, where leisure serves, with dull debaters. 2 

Both writers regarded the lusts or passions of the mind with 
contempt, and perceived their unsatisfying nature. Bacon says: 

And they all know, who have paid dear for serving and obeying their lusts, 
that whether it be honor, or riches, or delight, or glory, or knowledge, or anything 
else which they seek after, yet are they but things cast off, and by divers men in 
all ages, after experience had utterly rejected and loathed. 3 

And we find the same thought in Shakespeare: 

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame 

Is lust in action; and till action, lust 
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame, 

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust; 
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight; 

Past reason hunted; and no sooner had, 
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait, 

On purpose laid to make the taker mad: 
Mad in pursuit and in possession so; 

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme; 
A bliss in proof — and proved a very woe; 

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream. 4 

And again: 

If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of 
sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most pre- 
posterous conclusions. 5 

Both believed that the influences of evil were more persistent in 
the world than those of goodness. 

1 Love 's Labor Lost '; iv, 3. -Poems. 3 Wisdojn of the Ancients — Dionysius.i 

4 Sonnet exxix. h Othello, i. %. 


Bacon says: 

Those that bring honor into their family are commonly more worthy than most 
that succeed; . . . for ill to man's nature (as it stands perverted) hath a natural 
motion strongest in continuance; but good, as a forced motion, strongest at first. 1 

Shakespeare says: 

The evil that men do lives after them, 
The good is oft interred with their bones.' 2 

And again: 

Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues 
We write in water. 3 

Neither writer assented to the belief of the age (since by scien- 
tific tests made a verity) that the condition of the patient's health 
was shown by the appearance of his urine. 

Bacon says: 

Those advertisements which your Lordship imputed to me I hold to be no 
more certain to make judgment upon than a patient's water to a physician. 4 

In Shakespeare we find the following: 
Falstaff. Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water? 
Page. He said, sir, the water itself was a good, healthy water; but for the 
party that owned it, he might have more diseases than he knew for. 

Both believed that too long a continuance of peace caused the 

people to degenerate. Bacon argued that, as the body of man 

could not remain in health without exercise, the body of a state 

needed exercise also in the shape of foreign wars. He says: 

If it seem strange that I account no state flourishing but that which hath 
neither civil wars nor too long peace, I answer that politic bodies are like our natur- 
al bodies, and must as well have some natural exercise to spend their humors, as 
to be kept from too violent or continual outrages which spend their best spirits. 5 

And we find the same thought, of the necessity of expelling the 

humors of the body by the exercise of war, in Shakespeare: 

This is the impost hume of much wealth and peace, 
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without 
Why the man dies. 6 

Again Bacon says: 

This want of learning hath been in good countries ruined by civil wars, or in 
states corrupted through wealth or too great length of peace. 1, 

1 Essay. the name of the Earl of Essex — Life 

2 Julius Ccesar, iii, 2. and Works, vol. ii, p. 12. 

3 Henry VIII., iv, 2. B Ilam/et, iv, 4. 

4 Letter to Essex concerning Earl of 7 Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written in 

Tyrone. the name of the Earl of Essex — Life 

6 Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written in and Works, vol. ii, p. 12. 



And in the foregoing we have the very collocation of wealth and 
peace used by Hamlet, and the same thought of corruption at work 
in both cases. 

Shakespeare says: 

This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors and breed ballad- 
makers. 1 

And again: 

Discarded, unjust servingmen, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted 
tapsters, and ostlers trade-fallen; the cankers of a calm world and a long peace} 

Both writers regarded the period of youth as one of great 

Bacon says: 

For. those persons which are of a turbulent nature or appetite do commonly 
pass their youth in many errors; and about their middle, and then and not before, 
they show forth their perfections. 3 

And again: 

He passed that dangerous time of his youth in the highest fortune, and in a 
vigorous state of health. 4 

Shakespeare makes the same observation: 

Thou hast passed by the ambush of young days. 
Either not assailed, or victor, being charged. 5 

And this word ambush, then an unusual one, is also found in 
Bacon's writings: he speaks 6 of the Sphynx "lying in ambush for 

We find a group of identities in reference to the use of intoxi- 
cating drinks. These I have already given in the chapter on "The 
Purposes of the Plays." 

But while both condemned drunkenness they agreed in believ- 
ing that, within reasonable limits, the use of intoxicating liquors 
strengthened and elevated the race. 

Bacon says: 

• The use of wine in dry and consumed bodies is hurtful: in moist and full bodies 
it is good. The cause is, for that the spirits of the wine do prey upon the dew or 
radical moisture, as they call it, of the body, and so deceive the animal spirits. 
But where there is moisture enough or superfluous, there wine helpeth to digest, and 
desiccate the moisture." 

1 Coriolamts, iv, 5. * In Praise 0/ Henry Prince of Wales. 

2 rst Henry IV. , iv. 2. 5 Sonnet lxx. 

3 Civil Character of A ugustus Ccesar. 6 Wisdom of the A ncients — Sphynx. < 

1 Natural History \ § 727. 


And again: 

I see France, Italy or Spain have not taken into use beer or ale; which, per- 
haps if they did, would better both their healths and their complexions} 

And Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Falstaff, who was 
" moist and full" enough, in a state of ''constant dissolution and 
thaw," as he said himself, the same opinion: 

A good sherris-sack hath a two-fold operation in it. It ascends me into the 
brain; dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapors which environ it. . . . 
It illuminateth the face; which, as a beacon, gives warning to all the rest of this 
little kingdom, man, to arm; and then the vital commoners, the inland petty spirits, 
muster me all to their captain, the heart, who, great and puffed up with this reti- 
nue, doth any deed of courage. 2 

Here we have the same belief as to the virtues of wine, and the 
same reason, the drying or desiccating of the superfluous humors; 
and in both cases we have the belief that the spirits of the man are 
acted upon by the wine — a belief we shall touch upon hereafter. 
And in Bacon we will find another reference to this ascending of 
the spirits into the head. .He says: 

The vapors which were gathered by sitting fly more up into the head. 3 

But the identity of belief upon this point goes still farther. 

Each writer held to the opinion that the children of drunken men 

were more likely to be females than males. Bacon says: 

It hath been observed by the ancients, and is yet believed, that the sperm of 
drunken men is unfruitful. The cause is, for that it is over-moistened and 
wanteth spissitude; and we have a merry saying, that they that go drunk to bed 
get daughters . 4 

Shakespeare says: 

There's never any of these demure boys come to any proof; for their drink 
doth so overcool their blood, and making many fish-meals, that they fall into a 
kind of male green-sickness; and then, when they marry, they get wenches. . . . 
If I had a thousand sons, the first principle I would teach them should be, to for- 
swear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack. 5 

And again: 

He was gotten in drink. Is not the humor conceited ? 
His mind is not heroic, and there's the humor of it. 6 

And we find the same thought, that great vigor and vitality 
causes the offspring to be masculine in gender, in Macbeth's 
exclamation to Lady Macbeth: 

1 Natural History, % 705. 3 Natural History, % 734. 6 2d Henry IV., iv, 3. 

2 2d Henry IV. , iv, 3. 4 Ibid., § 723. fi Merry Wives of H'indsor, i, 2.. 


Bring forth men-children only, 
For thy undaunted mettle should compose 
Nothing but males. 1 

Both writers recognize the vast superiority of the intellectual 
forces over the bodily. 
Bacon says: 

The mind is the man. ... A man is but what he knoweth. 2 
Shakespeare has the same thought: 

In nature there's no blemish, but the mind,* 
'Tis the mind that makes the body rich. 4 
I saw Othello's visage in his mind, 1 

Bacon says: 

Pain and danger be great only by opinion. 6 
Shakespeare says: 

For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. 7 

The discrimination which we find in Shakespeare between appe- 
tite and digestion, and their relations one to another, reappears in 

Macbeth says: 

Now good digestion wait on appetite, 
And health on both. 8 

Bacon speaks of 

Appetite, which is the spur of digestion. 9 

Both writers believed that the strict course of justice should be 
moderated by mercy. 
Bacon says: 

He [the King] must always resemble Him whose great name he beareth . . . 
in manifesting the sweet influence of his mercy on the severe stroke of his justice. 10 

And again: 

In causes of life and death, judges ought (as far as the law permitteth) in justice 
to remember mercy, and to cast a severe eye upon the example, but a merciful eye 
upon the person. 11 

1 Macbeth, i, 7. 8 Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written in 
a Praise of Knoiuledge. the name of the Earl of Essex. 

3 Twelfth Night, iii, 4. 7 Hamlet, ii, 2. 

4 Taming of the Shrew, iv, 3. ■ Macbeth, iii, 4. 

* Othello, i, 3. » History of Life and Death. 

10 Essay Of a King. 
11 Essay Of fudicature. 



The same humane spirit is manifested in the Shakespeare 


It is an attribute to God himself; 

And earthly power doth then show likest God's 

When mercy seasons justice. 1 

And again: 

Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods ? 
Draw near them, then, in being merciful. - 

And again: 

Alas, alas ! 
Why, all the souls that are were forfeit once; 
And He that might the vantage best have took 
Found out the remedy: How would you be, 
If He, which is the top of judgment, should 
But judge you as you are? Oh, think on that; 
And mercy then will breathe within your lips 
Like man new made. 3 

Both were keenly alive to the purity and sweetness of the 

In his History of Life and Death 4 Bacon discusses " the healthful- 
ness of the air" and the modes of testing its purity, as by exposing 
a lock of wool or a piece of flesh, etc. 

He says in another place: 

At Gorhambury there is sweet air if any is. 5 

And again: 

The discovery of the disposition of the air is good . . . for the choice of 
places to dwell in; at the least for lodges and retiring-places for health. 6 

And in the same chapter in which he discusses the purity of the 

air in dwelling-houses and the mode of ascertaining- it, he refers to 


Which use to change countries at certain seasons, if they come earlier, do show 
the temperature of weather according to that country whence they came. 7 

For prognostics of weather from living creatures, it is to be noted, that 
creatures that live in the open air, sub dio, must needs have a quicker impression 
from the air than men that live most within doors; and especially birds, that live 
in the air freest and clearest. 8 

And again he notes that 

Kites flying aloft show fair and dry weather, . . . for that they mount most 
into the air of that temper wherein they delight. 9 

1 Merchant of I 'cuke, iv, i. 4 §29, etc. 7 Ibid., §816. 

2 Titus Andronicus, i, 2. 5 Letter to Buckingham, 1619. 8 Ibid., §822. 
* Measure for Measure, ii, 2. • Natural History, §808. 9 Ibid., §824. 


And we have the same set of thoughts — the sweetness of the 
air in special places, and the delight of birds in pure air — in the 
famous words uttered by Duncan and Banquo: 

Daman. This castle hath a pleasant seat: the air 

Nimbly and gently recommends itself 

Unto our senses. 

Banquo. This guest of summer, 

The temple-haunting martlet, does approve, 

By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath 

Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, 

Buttress, nor coigne of vantage, but this bird 

Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle: 

Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed 

The air is delicate. 1 

Both refer to the effect of terror upon the rising of the hair. 

Bacon says: 

The passions of the mind work upon the body the impressions following: fear 
causeth paleness, trembling, the standing of the hair upright, starting and shriek- 
ing.' 1 

Shakespeare says: 

The time has been, my senses would have cooled 
To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair 
Would at a dismal treatise rouse, and stir 
As life were in 't. 3 

Both, while to some extent fatalists, believed that a man pos- 
sesses to a large extent the control over his own fortune. 
Bacon says: 

Chiefly the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. 4 
And again: 

It is not good to fetch fortune from the stars.' 

While Shakespeare says: 

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, 
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. 6 

And curiously enough, both drew the same conclusions as to 

reading character by personal appearance, while they held that, 

as Shakespeare says: 

There's no art 
To read the mind's construction in the face. 7 

1 Macbeth, i, 6. s Macbeth, v, 5. 5 History of Henry I II. 

2 Natural History, § 713. 4 Essay Of Fortune. 6 Julius Ccesar, i, 2. 

7 Macbeth, i, 1. 



And again : 

No more can you distinguish of a man 

Than of his outward show, which, God he knows, 

Seldom, or never, jumpeth with the heart. 1 

And Bacon argued : 

Neither let that be feared which is said, Fronti nulla fides: which is meant of 
a general outward behavior, and not of the private and subtle motions and labors 
of the countenance and gesture. '- 

And this distinction, between the revelations made by the mere 
cast or shape or controlled attitudes of the face, and the expres- 
sions of the face or motions of the body, appears in Shakespeare: 
There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gestures. 3 

Again we find it in Ulysses' wonderful description of Cressida: 

Fie, fie upon her ! 
There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip, 
Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out 
At every joint and motive [motion ?] of her body. 4 

And we find Bacon observing: 

For every passion doth cause, in the eyes, face and gesture, certain indecent 
and ill-seeming, apish and deformed motions. 5 

And again he says: 

So in all physiognomy the lineaments of the body will discover those natural 
inclinations of the mind which dissimulation will conceal or discipline will 
suppress. 6 

And we find Shakespeare putting into the mouth of King John 

these words, descriptive of Hubert: 

Hadst thou not been by, 
A fellow by the hand of nature marked, 
Quoted and signed to do a deed of shame. 7 

And Bacon says: 

For Aristotle hath very ingeniously and diligently handled the features of the 
body, but not the gestures of the body, which are no less comprehensible by art, 
and of greater use and advantage. For the lineaments of the body do disclose the 
disposition and inclination of the mind in general, but the motions of the counte- 
nance and parts do not only so, but do further disclose the present humor and state 
of the mind and will. 8 

And in this connection we find another parallelism. Bacon 

It is necessary to use a steadfast countenance, not wavering with action, as in 

1 Richard III., iii, I, 5 Wisdom of the Ancients — Dionysiiis. 

2 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 6 Natural History, cent. ix. 

3 Winter's Tale, v, 2. 7 Kingfohn, iv, 2. 

4 Troilus and Cressida, iv, 5. 8 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 


moving the head or hand too much, which showeth a fantastical, light and fickle 
spirit. 1 • 

And Hamlet, in his instructions to the players, says: 
Nor do not saw the air too much — your hand thus; but use all gently. 2 

Both had the same high admiration for the capacity to bear 

misfortunes with patience and self-control. 

Bacon says: 

Yet it is a greater dignity of mind to bear evils by fortitude and judgment than 
by a kind of absenting and alienation of the mind from things present to things 
future, for that it is to hope. ... I do judge a state of mind which in all doubtful 
expectations is settled and fioateth not, and doth this out of good government 
and composition of the affections, to be one of the principal supporters of man's 
life; but that assurance and repose of the mind which only rides at anchor itpori 
hope, I do reject as wavering and weak. 3 

Shakespeare says: 

For thou hast been 
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing; 
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards 
Has ta'en with equal thanks; and blessed are those 
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled 
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger 
To sound what stop she please. 4 

And the expression of Bacon quoted above, " the mind which 

only rides at anchor upon hope," is paralleled in Shakespeare: 

If eyes, corrupt by over-partial looks, 

Be anchored in the bay where all men ride. 5 

Both believed in the universal presence and power of goodness. 

Ba-on said: 

The inclination to goodness is deeply implanted in the nature of man; inso- 
much, that if it issue not toward man it will take unto other living creatures. 6 

And again: 

There is formed in everything a double nature of good. 7 

And again: 

For the affections themselves carry ever an appetite to good, as reason doth.- 

Shakespeare has: 

There is some soul of goodness in things evil 
Would men observingly distill it out. 9 

1 Civil Conversations. 5 Sonnet cxxxvii. 

5 Hamlet, iii, 2. 6 Essay 0/ Goodness. 

3 Med. SacrcB — Of Earthly Hope. ''Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 

-* Hamlet, iii, 2. 8 Ibid. » 

9 Henry J'., iv, 1. 


And again: 

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.^ 

Bacon says: 

And we willingly place the history of arts among the species of natural history, 
because there have obtained a now inveterate mode of speaking and notion, as if 
art were something different from nature, so that things artificial ought to be dis- 
criminated from things natural, as if wholly and generically distinct. . . . And 
there has insinuated into men's minds a still subtler error, namely this, that art is 
conceived to be a sort of addition to nature, the proper effect of which is mere words 
and rhetorical ornament. 2 

Shakespeare has the following: 

Perdita. For I have heard it said, 

There is an art which in their piedness shares 

With great creating nature. 

Polixenes. Say there be; 

Yet nature is made better by no mean, 

But nature makes that mean; so o'er that art, 

Which you say adds to nature, is an art that nature makes. 

Here we have, in the same words, a reference to an opinion, 
held by others, that art is an addition to nature, and a dissent from it 
by the writer, in each case. 

And that other thought, that man's art shares with God the 

creative force and faculty, Judge Holmes shows had also occurred 

to Bacon: 

Art or man is added to the universe; and it must almost necessarily be con- 
cluded that the human soul is endowed with providence, not without the example, 
intention and authority of the greater providence. 3 

That is to say, that man is a sort of a deputy of God to carry 
forward the work of creation. 

And we find Shakespeare alluding, in the same spirit, to "the 
providence that's in a watchful state," 4 as if "the human soul," gov- 
erning the state, "was endowed with providence." 

And we find the same thought, that man is a species of lesser 

God, to whom the creative force has been delegated, expressed 

again in these lines: 

We, Hermia, like two artificial gods, 

Have with our needles created both one flower, 

Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion. 5 

1 As You Like It, ii, i. 3 Authorship of Shak., p. 5x2^ 

2 Intell. Globe, chapter iii. 4 Troilus ami Cressida, iii, 3. 

8 Midsummer Night's Dream, i, 2. 


Both believed that sickness or weakness left the mind open 

to the influence of external spirits. Bacon says: 

So much more in impressions from mind to mind, or from spirit to spirit, the 
impression taketh, but is encountered and overcome by the mind and spirit. 
. . . And, therefore, they work most upon weak minds and spirits, as those of 
women, sick persons, superstitious and fearful persons. 1 

Shakespeare makes Hamlet say: 

The spirit that I have seen 
May be the devil; and the devil hath power 
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and, perhaps, 
Out of my weakness and my melancholy, 
(As he is very potent with such spirits), 
Abuses me to damn me. 2 

Here we have precisely the same idea. 

The author of A New Study of Shakespeare •, Mr. W. F. C. Wigston, 

calls attention to the following parallelism. 

Bacon says: 

It is evident that the dullness of men is such, and so infelicitous, that when 
things are put before their feet, they do not see them, unless admonished, but 
pass on. 

Shakespeare says: 

The jewel that we find we stoop and take it, 
Because we see it; but what we do not see 
We tread upon, and never think of it. 3 

Both had observed the fear that men have of making their wills 
until the last moment. 
Bacon says: 
When their will is made they think themselves nearer the grave than before. 4 

In Shakespeare we find the following: 

Slender. Now, good Mistress Anne. 

Anne. What is your will ? 

Slender. My will? Ods-hart-lings, that's a pretty jest indeed. I ne'er made 
my will yet, I thank Heaven: I am not such a sickly creature, I give Heaven 
praise. 5 

Mrs. Pott calls attention to the following parallelism. 

Bacon has in his Protnus this note: 

It is in action as it is in ways; commonly the nearest is the foulest. 6 

1 Xatural History, §901. * Essay Of Death. 

2 Hamlet, ii, 2. . 5 Merry Wives of Windsor, iii, 4. 

3 Measure for Measure, ii, 1. * Protnus, No. 532. 

39 6 


Shakespeare has it: 

[Your heart] is too full of the milk of human kindness 
To catch the nearest way. 1 

That is, the foul way of murder, which was the nearest way to 

the crown. 

I might continue this chapter to greater length; but I think I 
have given enough to show that the same wonderful parallelism 
which exists between the forms of expression in the two sets of 
writings extends also to the opinions and beliefs set forth therein. 

It will, of course, be easy for a dishonest mind to treat these 
parallelisms as Richard Grant White did those in Mrs. Pott's 
Promus — that is, ignore the strongest ones, and select the least 
striking and put them forth as the strongest. But in the long run 
truth is not to be arrested by such tricks, nor can a great argument 
be conducted by men who are mean enough to resort to them. 

1 Macbeth, i, 2. 



And these same thoughts people this little world. 

Richard II., v,j. 

IF the two minds were one, if they thought the same thoughts,, 
and employed the same comparisons and expressions, it might 
be that we would find them quoting the same things from the 
same books. 

I remember a few instances of this kind, and many more might 
be found by a diligent examination of the two sets of writings. 
Bacon says: 

In this they fall into the error described in the ancient fable, in which the 
other parts of the body did suppose the stomach had been idle, because it neither 
performed the office of motion, as the limbs do, nor of sense, as the head doth; but 
yet, notwithstanding, it is the stomach that digesteth and distributeth to all the 
rest. 1 

In Shakespeare we have the following: 

There was a time when all the body's members 

Rebelled against the belly; thus accused it: 

That only like a gulf it did remain 

I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive, 

Still cupboarding the viands, never bearing 

Like labor with the rest; where the other instruments 

Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, 

And mutually participate; did minister 

Unto the appetite and affection common 

Of the whole body. The belly answered, . . . 

"' True it is, my incorporate friends," quoth he, 

" That I receive the general food at first, 

Which you do live upon: and fit it is; 

Because I am the storehouse and the shop 

Of the whole body. But, if you do remember, 

I send it through the rivers of your blood 

Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain,. 

And through the cranks and offices of man : 

The strongest nerves, and small inferior veins, 

From me receive that natural competency 

Whereby they live." 2 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 2 Coriolanus, i, i. 



And here I would refer to the anecdote which Bacon tells in his 

Apophthegms : 

Sir Nicholas Bacon, being appointed a judge for the northern circuit, . . . was, 
by one of the malefactors, mightily importuned to save his life, which, when nothing 
that he had said did avail, at length desired his mercy on the account of kindred. 
" Prythee," said my lord Judge, " how came that in ?" " Why, if it please you, my 
lord, your name is Bacon »and mine is Hog, and in all ages hog and bacon have 
been so near kindred that they are not to be separated." " Ay, but," replied Judge 
Bacon, " you and I cannot be kindred except you be hanged, for hog is not bacon 
until it be well hanged." 

Shakespeare has this: 

Evans. I pray you, have remembrance, child: Accusativo, hung, hang, hog. 
Quickly. Hang hog is Latin for Bacon, I warrant you. 1 

Bacon says: 

Such men in other men's calamities are, as it were, in season, and are ever on 
the loading part; not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus' sores, but like flies 
that are still buzzing. 2 

Shakespeare says: 

Ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth; where the glutton's dogs licked his 
sores. 3 

Bacon says: 

Philo Judaeus saith that the sense is like the sun; for the sun seals up the 
globe of heaven [the stars] and opens the globe of earth; so the sense doth obscure 
heavenly things and reveals earthly things. 4 

When Lorenzo contemplates the heavens by night, thick ''inlaid 

with patines of bright gold," he speaks of the music of the spheres, 

and adds: 

Such harmony is in immortal souls, 
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. 5 

Bacon says: 

For of lions it is a received belief that their fury and fierceness ceaseth toward 
anything that yieldeth and prostrateth itself. 6 

Shakespeare has the following: 

Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you, 

And again 

Which better fits a lion than a man. 7 

For 'tis the nature of that noble beast 

To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead. 

1 Merry Wives of Windsor, iv, 1. •' Merchant of Venice, v, 1. 

3 Essay Of Goodness. 6 Med. Sacra— Exaltation of Charity. 

3 1st Henry IV., iv, 2. » Troilus and Cressida, v, 3. 

4 Apophthegms. 'As You Like It, iv, 3. 


Bacon says: 

But these three are the true stages of knowledge, which, to those that are puffed 
up with their own knowledge and rebellious against God, are indeed no better than 
the giant's three hills: 

" Ter sunt coiiatl imponere Pelio Ossatn, 

Scilicet atque Ossce frondosum involvere Olympum." 

[Mountain on mountain thrice they strove to heap: 

Olympus, Ossa, piled on Pclioii s steep.] l 

And we find Shakespeare employing the same quotation: 

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead; 
Till of this flat a mountain you have made, 
To o'ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head 
Of old Olympus, . . . 

Till our ground, 
Singeing his pate against the burning zone, 
Make Ossa like a wart.' 2 

Here we have the three mountains named in the quotation — 
Olympus, Pelion, Ossa — and the comparison in both cases is that 
of piling one on top of the other. 

Describing the chameleon, Bacon says: 

He feedeth not only upon the air, though that be his principal sustenance. 3 


And so feed her [the Queen] with expectation. 4 

We turn to Shakespeare, and we find the following: 

King. How fares our cousin Hamlet? 

Ham. Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon s dish: I eat the air, promise- 
crammed. You cannot feed capons so. 5 

Bacon says: 

And therefore 
fess their secre 

Shakespeare says: 

And therefore the poet doth elegantly call passions tortures, that urge men to 
confess their secrets. 

Better be with the dead, 
Whom we. to gain our peace, have sent to peace, 
Than on the torture of the mind to lie 
In restless ecstacy. 6 

Bacon has the following: 

It was both pleasantly and wiSely said ... by a Pope's nuncio, returning 
from a certain nation where he served as lieger; whose opinion being asked touch- 

1 De A ugmentis, book iii. * Letter to Essex, October 4, 1596. 

2 Hamtet, v, 1. 5 Hamlet, iii, 2. 

3 Natural History, % 360. 6 Macbeth, iii, 2. 


ing the appointment of one to go in his place, he wished that in any case they did 
not send one that was too wise; because no very wise man would even imagine 
what they in that country were like to do. 1 

While Shakespeare puts the same quotation thus: 

Hamlet. Ay, many, why was he sent into England ? 

jst Clown. Why, because he was mad; he shall recover his wits there; or, if 
he do not, it is no great matter there. 
Hamlet. Why ? 
ist Clown. 'Twill not be seen in him; there the men are as mad as he. 5 

In The Wisdom of the Ancietits Bacon quotes the fable of Orpheus, 
and says: 

So great was the power and alluring force of this harmony, that he drew the 
woods and moved the very stones to come and place themselves in an orderly and 
decent fashion about him. 

Shakespeare says: 

Therefore, the poet 
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods; 
Since nought so stockish, hard and full of rage 
But music for a time doth change his nature. 3 

For Orpheus' lute was strung with poets' sinews, 
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones. 4 

Judge Holmes calls attention to the following instance. 

In Plutarch's Life of Antony is told the story of Timon's tree. 

North's translation reads as follows: 

Ye men of Athens, in a court-yard belonging to my house grows a large 
fig-tree, on which many an honest citizen has been pleased to hang himself: now, 
as I have thought of building upon that spot, I could not omit giving you this pub- 
lic notice, to the end that if any more among you have a mind to make the same 
use of my tree, they may do it speedily before it is destroyed. 

Bacon alludes to this story as follows, in his essay Of Goodness ; 

Misanthropi that make it their practice to bring men to the bough, and yet 
have never a tree for the purpose in their gardens, as Timon had. 

While Shakespeare, in the play of Timon of Athens? says: 

Timon. I have a tree which grows here in my close, 

That mine own use invites me to cut down, 

And shortly must I sell it. Tell my friends, 

Tell Athens, in the sequence of degree, 

From high to low throughout, that whoso please 

To stop affliction, let him take his haste, 

Come hither, ere my tree hath felt the axe, 

And hang himself. 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 3 Merchant of Venice, v, i. 

2 Hamlet, v, i. 4 Two Gentlemen of Verona, iii, -z. 

6 Act iv, scene i. 


Henry Lewis, in his Essays of Bacon, points out an instance 

where the two writers refer to the same incident. Bacon, in his 

essay Of Prophecies, says: 

Henry VI. of England said of Henry VII., when he was a lad, and gave him 
water, " This is the lad shall enjoy the crown for which we strive." 

In Shakespeare we find the same event thus alluded to: 

Come hither, England's hope. If secret powers 
Suggest but truth to my divining thoughts, 
This pretty lad will prove our country's bliss, . . . 
Likely, in time, to bless a regal throne. 1 

The same author also calls attention to this parallelism. In the 
same essay Of Prophecies Bacon refers to 

A phantasm that appeared to M. Brutus in his tent, and said to him, Philippus 
interum vie videbis — (Thou shalt see me again at Philippi). 

Shakespeare, in Julius Casar, has: 

Brutus. Speak to me what thou art. 

Ghost. Thy evil spirit, Brutus. 

Brutus. Why comest thou ? 

Ghost. To tell thee, thou shalt see me at Philippi.' 2 

Aristotle says : 

Usury is merely money bom of money; so that of all means of money-making 
this is the most contrary to nature. 

Bacon quotes this; he says: 

It is against nature for money to beget money. 3 

Shakespeare also quotes it : 

When did friendship take 
A breed of barren metal of his friend? 4 

Bacon says: 

There is an observation among country people, that years of store of haws 
and hips do commonly portend cold winters; and they ascribe it to God's provi- 
dence, that, as the Scripture saith, reacheth even to the falling of a sparroiv. h 

Shakespeare says: 

There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow* 

And again: 

He that doth the ravens feed, ' 
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow. 7 

Bacon says: 

The wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. 8 

1 3d Henry VI., iv, 6. 3 Essay Of Usury. 5 Natural History, §737. 

8 Julius Ccesar, iv, 3. 4 Merchant 0/ Venice, i, 3. 6 Hamlet, v, 2. , 

7 As You Like It, ii, 3. 8 Essay Of Wisdom. 


Shakespeare says: 

As the mournful crocodile 
With sorrow snares relenting passengers. 1 

Bacon, referring to a popular belief, says: 

This was the end of this little cockatrice of a king [Perkin Warbeck], that was 
able to destroy those that did not espy him first. 2 

Shakespeare alludes to the same superstition: 

They will kill one another by the look, like cockatrices? 

Shall poison more 
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice \ 4 

A cockatrice hast thou hatched to the world, 
Whose unavoided eye is murtherous? 5 

Bacon says: 

The parable of Pythagoras is dark but true. Cor ue edito — (eat not tne 
heart). 6 

Shakespeare says: 

/ sup upon myself, 
And so shall starve with feeding? 

The canker gnaw thy heart} 

Bacon says: 

Princes many times make themselves desires and set their hearts upon a toy, 
... as Nero for playing on the harp. 9 

Shakespeare says: 

Plantagenet, I will; and like thee, Nero, 
Play on the lute, beholding the towns burn. 10 

Bacon tells this story: 

Periander, being consulted with how to preserve a tyranny newly usurped, bid 
the messenger attend and report what he saw him do; and went into his garden 
and topped all the highest flowers, signifying that it consisted in the cutting off and 
keeping low of the nobility and grandees. 11 

Shakespeare plainly alludes to the same story in the following: 

Go thou, and, like an executioner, 
Cut off the head of too-fast-growing sprays, 
That look too lofty in our commonwealth: 
All must be even in our government. 12 

l 2d Henry VI.,'\\\,\. • Richard ///., iv, i. 9 Essay Of Empire. 

2 History of Henry VII. 8 Essay Of Friendship. 10 ist Henry VI., i, 4. 

8 Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 7 Coriolanus, iv, 2. u Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

4 Romeo and Juliet, iii, 2. 8 Timon of Athens, iv, 3. 12 Richard II., iii, 4. 


Bacon quotes: 

It is not granted to man to love and be wise. 1 
And again: 

Therefore it was well said " that it is impossible to love and be wise. 2 
Shakespeare says: 

To be wise and love, exceeds man's might. :{ 

Bacon says: 

For, aspiring to be like God in power, the angels transgressed and fell. 4 

And again: 

For from the desire of power the angels fell.* 
Shakespeare says: 

By that sin fell the angels. 6 

Bacon uses this quotation: 

Cardinal Wolsey said that if he had pleased God as he pleased the King, he 
had not been ruined. 7 

Shakespeare puts into the mouth of the same Cardinal Wolsey 
these words: 

O Cromwell, Cromwell, 
Had I but served my God with half the zeal 
I served my King, he would not in mine age 
Have left me naked to mine enemies. 8 

Mr. R. M. Theobald, in the August, 1887, number of the. Journal 
of the Bacon Society of London, page 157, gives us the following 
extraordinary parallelism, where both writers clearly refer to the 
same terrible story 

Bacon, in the De Augmentis, says : 

What a proof of patience is displayed in the story told of Anaxarchus, who, 
when questioned under torture, bit out his own tongue (the only hope of informa- 
tion), and spat it into the face of the tyrant. 

While in Shakespeare we find the same story alluded to. In 
Richard II., i, 1, Bolingbroke, being invited by the King to recon- 
cile himself to Mowbray, and throw down Mowbray's gage of bat- 
tle which he had picked up, replies : 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 5 Preface to Great Instauration. 

2 Essay Of Love. • Henry VIII., iii, 2. 

* Troilus and Cressida, iii, 2. 7 Letter to King James, September 5, 1621. 

4 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 8 Henry Fill., iii, 4. 


O God, defend my soul from such foul sin ! 

. . . Ere my tongue 
Shall wound mine honor with such feeble wrong, 
Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear 
The slavish motive of recanting fear, 
And spit it bleeding, in his high disgrace, 
Where shame doth harbor, even in Mowbray s face. 

The play of Richard II was published in 1597, and Bacon's Der 

Augme?itis in 1623; consequently Shakespeare did not borrow from 

Bacon. Mr. Theobald says: 

The story is derived from Diogenes Laertius; Bacon's version is taken from 
Pliny or Valerius Maximus. . . . Where did Shakspere pick up the allusion? 
Perhaps Pliny and Valerius Maximus and Diogenes Laertius were text-books at 
the grammar school of Stratford-on-Avon ! 

Bacon, in his Natural History, says: 

There was an Egyptian soothsayer that made Antonius believe that his genius, 
which otherwise was brave and confident, was, in the presence of Octavius Caesar, 
poor and cowardly; and therefore he advised him to absent himself as much as 
he could, and remove far from him. This soothsayer was thought to be suborned 
by Cleopatra, to make him live in Egypt and other remote places from home. 1 

And the same fact is referred to in Shakespeare. Macbeth says, 

speaking of Banquo: 

There is none but he 
Whose being I do fear: and under him 
My genius is rebuked; as, it is said, 
Mark Antony's was by Caesar. 

And in Antony and Cleopatra we have the very Egyptian sooth- 
sayer referred to : 

Antony. Say to me, 

Whose fortune shall rise higher, Caesar's or mine? 
Soothsayer. Caesar's. 

Therefore, O Antony, stay not by his side: 
Thy daemon (that's thy spirit which keeps thee) is 
Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable, 
Where Caesar's is not; but near him thy angel 
Becomes a Fear, as being overpowered; therefore 
Make space enough between you. 2 

Bacon says: 

What new hope hath made them return to their Sinon's note, in teaching Troy 
how to save itself. 3 

Shakespeare alludes to the same fact, thus: 

And, like a Sinon, take another Troy. 4 

1 Natural History, cent, x, §940. s Speech in Parliament. 

2 Antony and CIeoj>atra, ii, 3. 4 3d Henry /'/., iii, 2. 


Bacon says: 

Aristotle dogmatically assigned the cause of generation to the sun. 

Shakespeare has it: 

If the sun breed maggots out of a dead dog. Have you a daughter? . . . Let 
her not walk in the sun. Conception is a blessing. Etc. 1 

Bacon speaks of 

The ancient opinion that man was a microcosmns, an abstract or model of the 
world. 2 

And Shakespeare alludes to the same thing: 

You will see it in the map of my microcosm* 

Bacon says: 

Report has much prevailed of a stone bred in the head of an old and great 
toad. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Like the toad, ugly and venomous, 
Bears yet a precious jewel in its head. 5 

Bacon speaks of taking the advantage of opportunity in the fol- 
lowing words: 

For occasion (as it is in the common verse) turneth a bald noddle after she has 
presented her locks in front, and no hold taken. 6 

Shakespeare says: 

Let's take the instant by the forward top — for we are old. 1 

Bacon says: 

For although Aristotle, as though he had been of the race of the Ottomans, 
thought he could not reign unless he killed off all his brethren* 

Shakespeare puts into the mouth of King Henry V. this address 

to his brothers : 

This is the English, not the Turkish court; 
Not Amurah an Amurah succeeds, 
But Harry, Harry. 9 

Bacon in his Apophthegms tells this story: 

The Queen of Henry IV. of France was great with child; Count Soissons, that 

1 Hamlet, ii, 2. 5 As Vote Like It, ii, 1. 

"■ Advancement of Learning, book ii. * Essay Of Delays. 

3 Coriolanus, ii, 1. ' All's Well that Ends Well, v. 3. 

4 Inquisition of the Conversion of Bodies. 8 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

9 3d Henry II., v, 2. 


had his expectation upon the crown, when it was twice or thrice thought that the 
Queen was with child before, said to some of his friends "that it was but with a 
pillow," etc. 

Shakespeare must have had this story in his mind when, in 

describing Doll Tearsheet being taken to be whipped, he speaks as 


Hostess. Oh that Sir John were come, he would make this a bloody day to 
somebody. But I would the fruit of her womb might miscarry. 

Officer. If it do, you shall have a dozen cushions; you have but eleven now. 1 

Bacon says: 

Question was asked of Demosthenes what was the chief part of an orator? He 
answered, Action. What next? Action. What next, again? Action. A strange 
thing that that part of an orator which is but superficial, and rather the virtue of a 
player, should be placed so high above those other noble parts of invention, elocu- 
tion, and the rest; nay, almost alone, as if it were all in all. But the reason is 
plain. There is in human nature, generally, more of the fool than the wise; and 
therefore those faculties by which the foolish part of men's minds is taken are 
most potent. 2 

Shakespeare refers to the same story and gives the same ex- 
planation in the following: 

For in such business 
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant 
More learned than their ears. 8 

In Henry V. the Bishop of Exeter makes a comparison of gov- 
ernment to the subordination and harmony of parts in music: 

For government, though high and low and lower, 
Put into parts, doth keep in one consent, 
Congruing in a full and natural close 
Like music. 

Some have sought to find the origin of this simile in Cicero, 
De Republica, but that book was lost to literature and unknown, 
except by name, until Angelo Mai discovered it upon a palimpsest 
in the Vatican in 1822. 

Its real source is in the apophthegm repeatedly quoted by 

Bacon as to Nero: 

Vespasian asked of Apollonius what was the cause of Nero's ruin. Who 
answered: " Nero could tune the harp well, but in government he did always 
wind up the strings too high or let them down too low." 4 

1 2d Henry IV., v, 4. s Coriolanus, iii, 2. 

a Essay Of Boldness. 4 Apophthegm 51. 


Bacon has this story: 

Queen Isabella of Spain used to say: "Whosoever hath a good presence and a 
good fashion carries letters of 'recommendation." x 

Shakespeare says: 

The beauty that is borne here in the face 
The bearer knows not, but commends itself 
To others' eyes} 

Bacon has two anecdotes about the Salic law of France. 3 He 
says in one of .them: 

There was a French gentleman, speaking with an English of the law Salique : 
that women were excluded from inheriting the crown of France. The English 
said: "Yes; but that was meant of the women themselves, not of such males as 
claimed by women," etc. 

And in the play of Henry V. we find Shakespeare discussing the 

same Salic law, at great length, and giving many instances to 

show that it did not exclude those who "claimed by women," one 

of which instances is: 

Besides their writers say 
King Pepin, which deposed Childerike, 
Did as their general, being descended 
Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair, 
Make claim and title to the crown of France. 4 

The writer of the Plays had evidently studied the history of this 
law of another country in all its details; — a thing natural enough 
in a lawyer, extraordinary in a play-actor or stage manager. 

Bacon refers to the story of Ulysses' wife thus : 

Aristippus said : That those who studied particular sciences and neglected 
philosophy, were like Penelope's wooers, that made love to the waiting- women. 5 

Shakespeare also refers to Penelope : 

You would be another Penelope; yet they say all the yarn she spun in Ulysses' 
absence did but fill Ithaca with moths. 6 

Bacon quotes the story of Icarus: 

I was ever sorry that your Lordship should fly with waxen wings, doubting 
Icarus' fortune. 7 

Shakespeare has the following allusion to the same story: 
Then follow thou thy desperate sire of Crete, 
Thou Icarus. 8 

1 Apophthegm 99. 5 Apophthegm 189. 

* Troilus and Cressi'da, iii, 3. 8 Corz'o/anus, i, 3. 

8 Apophthegms 184 and 185. 7 Letter to Essex, 1600. 

4 Henry \\ i, 1. B 1st Henry VI., iv, 6. 



And again: 

And in that sea of blood my boy did drench 
His over-mounting spirit; and there died 
My Icarus, my blossom, in his pride. 1 

And again: 

I, Daedalus; my poor boy, Icarus; 

Thy father Minos, that denied our course; 

The sun that seared the wings of my sweet boy. 2 

Bacon says: 

Frascatorius invented a remedy for apoplectic fits, by placing a heated pan at 
some distance around the head, for by this means the spirits that were suffocated 
and congealed in the cells of the brain, and oppressed by the humors, were dilated, 
excited and revived. 3 

And Falstaff seemed to hold the same view, that the disease was 
a torpidity that needed to be roused. He says : 

This apoplexie is, as I take it, a kind of lethargy, a sleeping of the blood. 4 

And Bacon, in a letter to the King, at the time of his downfall, 
after describing a violent pain in the back of his head, says : 

And then the little physic [medical learning] I had told me that it must either 
grow to a congelation, and so to a lethargy, and break, and so to a mortal fever or 
sudden death. 

Bacon and Shakespeare both refer to the same fact in connec- 
tion with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Bacon says: 

With Julius Caesar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that interest, as he set him 
down in his testament for heir in remainder after his nephew; and this was the 
man that had power with him to draw him forth to his death: for when Caesar 
would have discharged the Senate, in regard of some ill presages, and specially a 
dream of Calpurnia, this man lifted him gently by the arm out of his chair, telling 
him he hoped he would not dismiss the Senate till his wife had dreamed a better 

In Shakespeare we have Decimus Brutus saying to Caesar: 

Besides, it were a mock 
Apt to be rendered, for some one to say: 
Break up the Senate, till another time, 
When Caesar's wife shall meet with better dreams. 

And is it not to the soldier Decimus Junius Brutus, and not to 
the great Marcus Junius Brutus, that the poet makes Mark Antony 

1 1st Henry VI., iv, 7. 3 Historia Dens, ct Rari. 

* 3d Henry I V., v, 6. * 2d Henry II ' i, 3. 


allude (echoing Bacon's astonishment that the heir of Coesar could 
have participated in his murder) in the following? 

Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed, 

And as he plucked his cursed steel away, 

Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it; 

As rushing out of doors, to be resolved 

If Brutus so unkindly knocked or no: 

For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel. 

Judge, O ye gods, how dearly Caesar loved him. 

And we find in another historical instance the minds of both 
writers, if I may use the expression, dwelling on the same fact. 
Bacon says, in a letter to King James, February 11, 1614: 

And I put the case of the Duke of Buckingham, who said that if the King 
caused him to be arrested of treason he would stab him. 

The King here alluded to was Henry VIII., and we find the 
incident thus described in Shakespeare's play of that name. Buck- 
ingham's surveyor is giving testimony against his master. He 


//"(quoth he) I for this had been committed, 

As to the Tower, I thought, I would have played 

The part my father meant to act upon 

The usurper Richard; who, being at Salisbury, 

Made suit to come in 's presence, which if granted, 

(As he made semblance of his duty), would 

Have put his knife into him} 

Bacon makes this quotation: 

The kingdom of France ... is now fallen into those calamities, that, as the 
prophet saith, From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot there is no whole 
place. - 

Shakespeare uses the same quotation: 

Don Pedro. I will only be bold with Benedick for his company; for from the 
crown of his head to the sole of his foot he is all mirth. 3 

I feel confident that, had I the time and did space permit, I 
could increase this list of identical quotations many-fold. 

It is certain that these two writers not only held the same 
views, employed the same comparisons, used the same expressions, 

• Henry VIII., i, 2. 

a Observations on a Libel — Life and Works, vol. i, p. 160. 

3 Much Ado about Nothing, iii, 2. 


pursued the same studies and read the same books, but that their 
minds were constructed so exactly alike that the same things, out 
of their reading, lodged in them, and were reproduced for the same 

And these mental twins — these intellectual identities — did not 
seem to know, or even to have ever heard of each other ! 



Biron. What is the end of study ? 

King. Why, that to know, which else we should not know. 
Biron. Things hid and barred, you mean, from common sense ? 
King. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense. 

Love's Labor Lost, i, /. 

MANY men study nothing. They are content with the stock of 
ideas, right or wrong, borrowed from others, with which 
they start into manhood. But of those who seek to penetrate 
beyond their preconceptions into knowledge, no two follow the 
same path and pursue the same subjects. The themes of study 
are as infinitely varied as the construction of human intellects. 
And herein, as in everything else, is manifested the wisdom of the 
great architect, who for every space in the edifice of life has carved 
a stone which fits it precisely. Many, it is true, are the mere rubble 
that fills up the interspaces; others are parts of the frieze orna- 
mented with bass-reliefs of gnomes or angels; others, again, are the 
massive, hidden, humble foundation-blocks on which rests the 
weight of the whole structure. But in God's edifice nothing is 
little, and little can be said to be great. 

And so in life: one man will devote his existence to a study of 
the motions of the heavenly bodies through their incalculable 
spaces; another will give up his whole life to a microscopic investi- 
gation of the wings and limbs of insects. One will soar, on golden 
pinions through the magical realms of music; another will pursue 
the dry details of mathematics into their ultimate possibilities: 
a third will sail gloriously, like a painted nautilus, over the liquid 
and shining bosom of poetry: while still another will study 

The doubtful balance of rights and wrongs, 
With weary lawyers of endless tongues. 

The purpose of life seems to be put upon the creature even 
before creation, and 

Necessity sits on humanity 
Like to the world on Atlas' neck. 



And when we turn to consider what subjects were studied, at. 
the same time, by the writer of the Shakespeare Plays and Francis 
Bacon, we shall find that identity which could not exist between 
two really distinct intellects. 

In the first place, we are struck with the universality of thought, 
observation and study discoverable in both. Bacon " took all 
knowledge for his province," and the Shakespeare Plays embrace 
every theme of reflection possible to man: — religion, philosophy, 
science, history, human character, human passions and affections, 
music, poetry, medicine, law, statecraft, politics, worldly wisdom, 
wit, humor — everything. They are oceanic. Every year some 
new explorer drops his dredge a thousand fathoms deep into their 
unconsidered depths, and brings up strange and marvelous forms 
of life where we had looked only for silence and death. 

And when we descend to particulars we find precise identity in 
almost everything. 

I. Music. 

Take the subject of music. This is a theme which compara- 
tively few study, even to-day; and in that almost rude age of Eliz- 
abeth the number must have been greatly less. Neither does it 
necessarily follow that all great men love music and investigate it. 
In fact, the opinion of Shakespeare, that the man who "had no 
music in his soul" was not to be trusted, has provoked a perfect 
storm of adverse criticism. 1 

But Bacon's love of music was great. Sir John Hawkins says: 

Lord Bacon, in his Natural History, has given a great variety of experiments 
touching music, that show him to have not been barely a philosopher, an inquirer 
into the phenomena of sound, but a master of the science of harmony, and very 
intimately acquainted with the precepts of musical education. 2 

And Sir John quotes the following from Bacon: 

The sweetest and best harmony is when every part or instrument is not heard 
by itself, but a conflation of them all, which requireth to stand some distance off, 
even as it is in the mixtures of perfumes, or the taking of the smells of several 
flowers in the air. 

On the other hand Richard Grant White says: 
Shakespeare seems to have been a proficient in the art of music. 3 

1 Knight's Shal:., note 7, act v, Merchant of Venice. 

2 History of Music. 3 Life and Genius of Shah., p. 259. 


The commentators say that Balthazar, a musician in the service 
of Prince John, in Much Ado about Nothing? was probably thus 
named from the celebrated Balthazarini, an Italian performer on 
the violin, who was in great favor at the court of Henry II., of 
France, in 1577. In 1577 William Shakspere was probably going 
to the grammar school in Stratford, aged thirteen years. How 
could he know anything about a distinguished musician at the 
court of France, between which and Stratford there was then less 
intercourse than there is now between Moscow and Australia. But 
Francis Bacon was sent to Paris in 1576, and remained there for 
three years; and doubtless, for he was a lover of music, knew Bal- 
thazarini well, and sought in this way to perpetuate his memory. 
Or it may be that the cipher narrative in Much Ado about Nothing 
tells some story in which Balthazarini is referred to. 

Bacon devoted many pages in his Natura/ History' 2 to experi- 
ments in music. He noted that a musical note "falling from one 
tone to another" is "delightful," reminding us of 
That strain again ! it hath a dying fall.* 

And he further notes that " the division and quavering, which 
please so much in music, have an agreement with the glittering of 
light, as the moonbeams playing on a wave." 4 

Who can fail to believe that the same mind which originated 

this poetical image wrote the following ? 

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank ! 
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music 
Creep in our ears; soft stillness and the night 
Become the touches of sweet harmony. 5 

And the following lines — giving the reason of things as a 

philosopher and scholar — are in the very vein of Bacon: 

The cause why music was ordained; 

Was it not to refresh the mind of man, 

After his studies, or his usual pain ? 

Then give me leave to read philosophy, 

And, while I pause, serve in your harmony. 6 

Bacon says: 

Voices or consorts of music do make a harmony by mixture. . . . The sweetest 

1 Act ii, scene 3. 3 Twelfth Night, i, 1. 3 Merchant 0/ Venice, v, 1. 

3 Century ii. 4 Natural History, cent, ii, §113. * Taming 0/ the Shrew, iii, 1.- 



and best harmony is, when every part or instrument is not heard by itself, but a 
conflation of them all. . . . But sounds do disturb and alter the one the other; 
sometimes the one drowning the other and making it not heard; sometimes the 
one jarring with the other and making a confusion ; sometimes the one mingling 
with the other and making a harmony. . . . Where echoes come from several 
parts at the same distance, they must needs make, as it were, a choir of echoes. . . . 
There be many places where you shall hear a number of echoes one after another: 
and it is where there is a variety of kills and ivoods, some nearer, some farther off. 1 

Now turn to the following magnificent specimen of word-paint- 
ing, from the Midsummer Night's Dream: 

We will, fair Queen, up to the mountain's top, 
And mark the musical confusion 
Of hounds and echo in conjunction. 
I was with Hercules and Cadmus once, 
When in a wood of Crete they bayed the bear, 
With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear 
Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves, 
The skies, the fountains, every region near 
Seemed all one mutual cry. I never heard 
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder. 2 

It may, of course, be said that Bacon's statement of fact in the 
above is bare and barren, compared with the exquisite melody of 
the description given us in the play; but it must be remembered 
that the one is prose and the other poetry; and that the prose of 
the Plays is as much prose as is the prose of the Natural History. 
But no man, however perfect his perception of beauty may have 
been, could have given us the description in the Midsummer Night's 
Dream unless he had the analytic power to see that the delightful 
effects which his ear realized were caused by a " musical confu- 
sion " of the hounds and the echoes; the groves, skies, fountains 
and everything around flinging back echo upon echo, until the 
whole scene "seemed all one mutual cry," until, in fact, there was 
produced, as Bacon says, "a choir of echoes." And the very words, 
"a choir of echoes," are poetical; they picture the harmonious ming- 
ling of echoes, like the voices of singers, and remind us of the son- 
net, where the poet speaks of the trees, deadened by the winter, as 

Bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 

It seems to me we have here the evidence not only that both 
writers loved music and had studied it, but that they had noted the 
same effects from the same cause; for surely Bacon's description of 

1 Natural History, cent. iii. ' 2 Midsummer Nighfs Dream, iv, r. 


the "choir of echoes" from "a variety of hills and woods" must 
have been based on some such hunting scene as the poet gives us 
with such melodious detail. 

II. Gardening. 

Francis Bacon and the writer of the Plays both were filled with 
a great love for gardening. 

Bacon calls it " the purest of all human pleasures." 
Shakespeare, as Mrs. Pott has shown, refers to thirty-live dif- 
ferent flowers: 

Anemone, carnation, columbine, cornflower, cowslip, crown-imperial, crow- 
rlower, daffodil, daisy, eglantine, flower-de-luce, fumitory, gilly-flower, hare-bell, 
honeysuckle, ladies' smocks, lavender, lilies, long purples, marigold, marjorum, 
myrtle, oxlips, pansies or love in idleness, peony, pimpernal, pink, primrose, rose 
"may," rose "must," rose "damask," rosemary, thyme, violet, woodbine. 1 

Mrs. Pott says: 

These thirty-five flowers are all noted or studied by Bacon, with the exception 
of the columbine, pansy and long-purples. The hare-bell may be considered as 
included in the "bell-flowers," which he describes. Twenty-one of these same 
thirty-five Shakespearean flowers are enumerated by Bacon in his essay Of Gardens. 

And this coincidence is the more remarkable when it is remem- 
bered that these flowers were but a small part of those well-known 
in the days of Shakespeare and Bacon. In all the notes on garden- 
ing, in Bacon's writings, there are only five flowers which are not 
named by Shakespeare, while of Ben Jonson's list of flowers only 
half are ever alluded to by Bacon. 

Mrs. Pott points out that Bacon was the first writer that ever 
distinguished flowers by the season of their blooming; and Shake- 
speare follows this order precisely and never brings the flowers of 
one season into another, as Jonson and other poets do. In the 
midst of exquisite poetry he accurately associates the flower with 
the month to which it belongs. He says: 

Daffodils that come before the swallow dares 
And take the winds of March with beauty. - 

Says Bacon: 

For March there come violets, especially the single blue, which are the earliest. 3 

» Shakespeariana. May, 1885, p. 241. 2 Winter s Tale, iv. 3. 3 Essay Of Gardens. 


And again: 

Thy banks with peonies and lilies brims, 
Which spongy April at thy hest betrims. 1 

And again the poet says: 

O rose of May, dear maid, kind sister. 

In all this the poet shows the precision of the natural philos- 

The whole article here quoted, from the pen of Mrs. Pott, can 
be read with advantage and pleasure. 

Bacon studied gardening in all its details. His love for flowers 
was great. Even in his old age, when, broken in health and fortune, 
and oppressed with cares and debts, we find him writing the Lord 
Treasurer Cranfield that he proposes to visit him at Chiswick, 
he adds: 

I hope to wait on your Lordship and gather some violets in your garden. 

He says in The New Atlantis : 

In these we practice likewise all conclusions of grafting and inoculating, as 
well of wild trees as fruit trees, which produceth many effects. 

While Shakespeare says: 

You see, sweet maid, 
We tfiarry a gentle scion to the wildest stock, 
And make conceive a bark of baser kind 
By bud of nobler race. This is an art 
Which does mend nature, change it rather; but 
The art itself is nature. 2 

And we find the same thought again: 

Our scions, put in wild and savage stocks, 
Spirt up so suddenly into the clouds. 3 

Shakespeare has that curious and strange comparison: 

If you can look into the seeds of time 

And say which grain will grow and which will not. 4 

And, in the same vein, we find Bacon devoting pages to the 

study of the nature of seeds, and of the mode of testing them, to 

see whether they wi41 grow or not. He says: 

And therefore skillful gardeners make trial of the seeds before they buy them, 
whether they be good or no, by putting them into water gently boiled; and if they 
be good they will sprout within half an hour. 5 

1 Tempest, iv, i. 2 Winter's Tale, iv, 3. 3 Henry V., iii, 5. 

4 Macbeth, i, 3. s Natural History, § 520. 


And again: 

If any one investigate the vegetation of plants he should observe from the first 
sowing of any seed how and when the seed begins to swell and break, and be filled, 
as it were, with spirit. 1 

And here is a curious parallelism. Bacon says: 

There be certain corn-flotuers, which come seldom or never in other places 
unless they be set, but only amongst corny as the blue-bottle, a kind of yellow 
marigold, wild poppy and fumitory. ... So it would seem that it is the corn that 
qualifieth the earth and prepareth it for their growth.' 2 

Shakespeare's attention had also been drawn to these humble 

corn-flowers, and he had reached the same conclusion, that the 

earth was prepared to' receive these flowers by the presence of the 

corn. He describes Lear: 

Crowned with rank fumitor, and furrow weeds, 
With hardock, hemlocks, nettles, cuckoo-flowers, 
Darnel and all the idle weeds that grow- 
In our sustaining corn. 3 

Bacon writes an essay Of Gardens, and Shakespeare is full of 

comparisons and reflections based upon gardens. For instance: 

Virtue? a fig ! 'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our 
gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles or 
sow lettuce; set hyssop, and weed up thyme; supply it with one gender of herbs or 
distract it with many; either to have it sterile with idleness, or manured with indus- 
try: why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our own wills. 4 

And again: 

Our sea-walled garden, the whole land, 

Is full of weeds, her fairest flowers choked up. 5 

And again: 

What rub, or what impediment there is, 
Why that the naked, poor and mangled peace, 
Dear nurse of arts, plenties and joyful births, 
Should not, in this best garden of the world, 
Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage? . . , 
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth 
The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover, 
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank, 
Conceives by idleness; and nothing teems 
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burrs. 

And the closeness with which both studied the nature of plants 

1 Novum Organum, book ii. 3 Lear, iv, 4. 5 Richard II., iii, 4. 

2 Natural History, § 482. 4 Othello, i, 3. 6 Henry I'., v, 2. 


and their modes of growth is shown in the following remarkable 


In that most curious and philosophical of the Plays, Troilus and 

Cressida, we find this singular comparison: 

Checks and disasters 
Grow in the veins of actions highest reared; 
As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap, 
Infect the sound pine, and divert his grain, 
Tortive and errant from his course of growth. 1 

And we find that Bacon had, in like manner, studied the effect 
of sap upon the growth of the tree: 

The cause whereof is, for that the sap ascendeth unequally, and doth, as it 
were, tire and stop by the way. And it seemeth they have some closeness and 
hardness in their stalk, which hindereth the sap from going up, until it hath gath- 
ered into a knot, and so is more urged to put forth. 2 

Here we find the poet setting forth that the knots are caused 

by " the conflux of the meeting sap," while the philosopher tells us 

that when the sap is arrested it " gathereth into a knot." And so 

it seems that both were studying the same subject and arriving at 

the same conclusions; and both thought that not only were the 

knots caused by the stoppage of the ascending sap, but that the 

knots produced the new branches: " so," says Bacon, "it is more 

urged to put forth." The knots, says Shakespeare, divert the 

grain from the straight, upright course of growth, to-wit, by 

making it put forth new branches. Can any man believe that 

Bacon and Shakspere were engaged at the same time in this same 

curious study, and reached independently these same remarkable 

conclusions ? 

And we see the gardener again in Richard II.: 

All superfluous branches 
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live. 3 

A violet in the youth of primy Nature. 4 

The thoughts of both ran upon flowers. Bacon says: 
We commend the odor of plants growing, and not plucked, taken in the open 
air; the principal of that kind are violets, gilliflowers, pinks, bean-flowers, lime- 
tree blossoms, vine buds, honeysuckles, yellow wall-flowers, musk roses, straw- 
berry leaves, etc. . . . Therefore to walk or sit near the breath of these plants 
should not be neglected. 5 

' Troilus and Cressida, i, 3. 2 Natural History, % 589. 3 Richard II., iii, 4. 

4 Hamlet, i, 3. 5 History 0/ Life and Death. 


And again he says: 

The daintiest smells of flowers are out of those plants whose leaves smell not, 
as violets, roses, wall-flowers, gilliflowers, pinks, woodbines, vine-flowers, apple- 
blooms, bean-blossoms, etc. 1 

The same admiration for flowers is shown by Shakespeare. He 

speaks of 

That come before the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of March with beauty; violets, dim, 
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, 
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses, 
That die unmarried, ere they can behold 
Bright Phcebus in his strength, a malady 
Most incident to maids; bold oxlips, and 
The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds, 
The flower-de-luce being one.' 2 

I might fill pages with further evidence that both Bacon and 
the writer of the Plays loved flowers and practiced gardening. 

III. Thk Study of Medicine. 

Bacon says of himself: 

I have been puddering in physic all my life. 

Shakespeare says: 

'Tis known I ever 
Have studied physic' 

Bacon writes to Sir Robert Cecil: 

I ever liked the Galenists, that deal with good compositions, and not the Para- 
celsians, that deal with these fine separations. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

Lafeau. To be relinquished of the artists. 
Parolles. So I say, both of Galen and Paracelsus. 
Lafeau. Of all the learned and authentic fellows. 5 

Macaulay says, speaking of Bacon: 

Of all the sciences, that which he regarded with the greatest interest was the 
science which, in Plato's opinion, would not be tolerated in a well-regulated com- 
munity. To make men perfect was no part of Bacon's plan. His humble aim 
was to make imperfect men comfortable. ... He appealed to the example of 
Christ, and reminded his readers that the great Physician of the soul did not dis- 
dain to be also the physician of the body. 6 

1 Natural History, §389. ''Pericles, iii, 2. 5 All's Well that Ends Well, ii, 3. 

2 Winter's Tale, iv, 3. 4 Letter to Sir Robert Cecil. * Essay Bacon, p. 276. 



On the other hand, the celebrated surgeon Bell says: 

My readers will smile, perhaps, lo see me quoting Shakespeare among physi- 
cians and theologians, but not one of all their tribe, populous though it be, could 
describe so exquisitely the marks of apoplexy, conspiring with the struggles for 
life, and the agonies of suffocation, to deform the countenance of the dead; so 
curiously does our poet present to our conception all the signs from which it might 
be inferred that the good Duke Humphrey had died a violent death. 1 

Dr. O. A. Kellogg, Assistant Professor of the State Lunatic 

Asylum at Utica, N. Y., says: 

The extent and accuracy of the medical, physiological and psychological 
knowledge displayed in the dramas of William Shakespeare, like the knowledge that 
is manifested on all matters upon which the rays of his mighty genius fell, have 
excited the wonder and astonishment of all men, who, since his time, have investi- 
gated those subjects upon which so much light is shed by the researches of modern 

Speaking of Bacon, Osborne, his contemporary, said: 

I have heard him outcant a London chirurgeon, — 

meaning thereby, excel him in the technical knowledge of his own 


His marvelous delineations of the different shades of insanity in 
Lear, Ophelia, Hamlet, etc., are to be read in the light of the fact 
that Francis Bacon's mother died of insanity; and Bacon, with his 
knowledge of the hereditary transmissibility of disease, must have 
made the subject one of close and thorough study. There are 
instances in his biography which show that he was himself the 
victim of melancholy; and there are reasons to think, as will be 
shown hereafter, that he is the real author of a great medical work 
on that subject which passes now in the name of another. 

He seems to have anticipated Harvey's discovery of the circula- 
tion of the blood. Harvey, in 1628, demonstrated that "the blood 
which passed out from the heart, by the arteries, returned to the 
heart by the veins." 

But Shakespeare, long before that time, had said: 

As dear to me as are the ruddy drops 
That visit my sad heart,- — 

indicating that he knew that the blood returned to the heart. 

I find the following interesting passage in Disraeli's Curiosities 
of Literature : 

l Bell'« Principles of Surgery ', 1815, vol. ii, p. 557. "Julius Casar, ii, t. 


Dr. William Hunter has said that after the discovery of the valves in the veins, 
which Harvey learned while in Italy from his master, Fabricius ab Aquapendente, 
the remaining step might easily have been made by any person of common 
abilities. " This discovery," he observes, " set Harvey to work upon the use of 
the heart and vascular system in animals; and in the course of some years he was 
so happy as to discover, and to prove beyond all possibility of doubt, the circulation 
of the blood." He afterwards expresses his astonishment that this discovery 
should have been left for Harvey, though he acknowledges it occupied "a course 
of years ;"' adding that " Providence meant to reserve it for him, and would not let 
men see zvhat was before them nor understand what they read. It is remarkable that 
when great discoveries are effected, their simplicity always seems to detract from 
their originality; on these occasions we are reminded of the egg of Columbus. 1 

But it seems that the author of the Shakespeare Plays, years 
before Harvey made his discovery, had also read of the observations 
•of Fabricius ab Aquapendente, and understood that there were 
valves in the veins and arteries. And this he could only have done 
in the original Italian — certainly not in English. And he refers to 
these valves as " gates " in the following lines: 

And in the porches of mine ears did pour 
The leperous distilment; whose effect 
Holds such an enmity with blood of man, 
That swift as quicksilver it courses through 
The natural gates and alleys of the body: 
And with a sudden vigor it doth posset 
And curd, like aigre droppings into milk, 
The thin and wholesome blood. 2 

IV. Shakespeare's Physicians. 

And it is a remarkable fact that, while the art of medicine was 
in that age at a very low ebb, and doctors were little better than 
quacks, Shakespeare represents, on two occasions, the physician in 
a light that would do no discredit to the profession in this advanced 
age. Let me give a few facts to show how reasonable and civilized 
was the medical treatment of the physicians in Lear and Macbeth, 
compared with that of the highest in skill in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. 

Sir Theodore Mayern, Baron Aulbone, was born in France in 
1573. He was the great doctor of his day. Among his patients 
were Henry IV. and Louis XIII., of France, and James I., Charles I. 
and Charles II., of England. 

He administered calomel in scruple doses; he mixed sugar of 

1 Disraeli, Curiosities 0/ Literature, p. 4T2. 2 Hamlet, i. 5. 


lead in his conserves; but his principal reliance was in pulverized 
human bones and " raspings of a human skull unburied." His 
sweetest compound was his balsam of bats, strongly recommended 
for hypochondriacal persons, into which entered adders, bats, 
sucking whelps, earth-worms, hogs' grease, the marrow of a stag 
and the thigh-bone of an ox ! He died in 1655. He ought to 
have died earlier. 

Another of these learned physicians of Elizabeth's time was 
Doctor William Bulleyn, who was of kin to the Queen. He died in 
1576. His prescription for a child suffering from nervousness was 
" a smal yonge mouse, rosted." 

And this state of ignorance continued for more than a century 
after Bacon's death. In 1739 the English Parliament passed an act 
to pay Joanna Stephens, a vulgar adventuress, ,£5,000, to induce 
her to make public her great remedy for all diseases. The medi- 
cines turned out to be, when revealed, a powder, a decoction and 
pills, made up principally of egg-shells, snails, soap, honey and 
swine-cresses ! 

Now, bearing all this mountebank business in mind, let us turn 
to the scene where the Doctor appears in Macbeth. We read: 

Doctor. I have two nights watched with you, but can perceive no truth in 
your reports. When was it she last walked? 

Gentlewoman. Since his Majesty went into the field, I have seen her rise from 
her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold 
it, write upon 't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this 
while in a most fast sleep. 

Doctor. A great perturbation in nature ! to receive at once the benefit of sleep 
and do the effects of watching. In this slumbery agitation, besides her walking 
and other actual performances, what, at any time, have you heard her say ? 

Gentlewoman. That which I will not report after her. 

Doctor. You may, to me; and 'tis most meet you should. 

Gentlewoman, Neither to you nor any one; having no witness to confirm my 

Enter Lady Macbeth with taper. 

Lady Macbeth. Wash your hands, put on your night-gown; look not so pale 
— I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on 's grave. 
Doctor. Even. so. . . . Will she go now to bed ? 
Gentlewoman. Directly. 

Doctor. Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deeds 

Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds 

To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. 

More needs she the divine than the physician. 

God, God, forgive us all ! Look after her; 


Remove from her the means of all annoyance, 
And still keep eyes upon her: So, good night; 
My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight: 
I think, but dare not speak. 

And farther on in the tragedy we have: 

Macbeth. How does your patient, doctor? 

Doctor. Not so sick, my lord, 

As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies, 

That keep her from her rest. 

Macbeth. Cure her of that. 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, 

Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; 

Raze out the written troubles of the brain; 

And, with some sweet oblivious antidote 

Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff 

Which weighs upon the heart? 

Doctor. Therein the patient 

Must minister to himself. 

Macbeth. Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of it. 

How courteous and dignified and altogether modern is this 
physician ? There is here nothing of the quack, the pretender, or 
the impostor. We hear nothing about recipes of human bones, or 
small roast mice, or snails, or swine-cresses. 

And this declaration, of the inadequacy of drugs to relieve the 
heart, reminds us of what Bacon says: 

You may take sarsa to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower of sul- 
phur for the lungs, castareum for the brain, but no receipt openeth the heart but a 
true friend. 1 

In Lear we have another doctor. He is called in to care for the 
poor insane King, and we have the following conversation: 

Cordelia. What can man's wisdom do 

In the restoring of his bereaved sense? 

He that helps him, take all my outward worth. 

Physician. There is means, madam; 

Our foster-nurse of nature is repose, 

The which he lacks; that to provoke in him, 

Are many simples operative, whose power 

Will close the eyes of anguish. 

Cord. All bless'd secrets, 

All you unpublished virtues of the earth, 

Spring with my tears ! be aidant and remediate 

In the good man's distress.' 2 

And how Baconian is this reference to the " unpublished virtues 


1 Essay Of Friendship. * Lear iv, 4. 

4 2 4 


of the earth " ? It was the very essence of Bacon's philosophy to 

make those virtues known as "aidant and remediate" of the good 

of man. He sought, by a knowledge of the secrets of nature, to 

lift men out of their miseries and necessities. 

And again, after the Doctor has, by his simples operative, produced 

sleep, and Lear is about to waken, we have the following: 

Cordelia. How does the King? 
Physician. Madam, he sleeps still. 

... So please your Majesty, 
That we may wake the King? He hath slept long. « 
Cord. Be governed by your knowledge and proceed, 
F the sway of your own will. 

Phys. Be by, good madam, when we do awake him; 
I doubt not of his temperance. 
Cord. Very well. 

• Phys. Please you, draw near. — Louder the music there. . . . 
Cord. He wakes; speak to him. 
Phys. Madam, do you; 'tis fittest. 

Cord. How does my royal Lord? How fares your Majesty? 
Lear. You do me wrong to take me out o' the grave. , . . 
Cord. Sir, do you know me ? 

Lear. You are a spirit, I know. When did you die ? 
Cord. Still, still, far wide. 
Phys. He's scarce awake: let him alone a while. 1 

Surely there is nothing here, either in the mode of treatment or 
the manner of speech, that the modern physician could improve 
upon. The passage contains Bacon's forecasting of what the doc- 
tor should be — of what he has come to be in these latter times. 

V. The Medicinal Virtues of Sleep. 

And how well did both Bacon and the writer of the Plays know 
the virtue of those 

Simples operative, whose power 
Will close the eyes of anguish. 

Bacon in his Natural History, §738, discussing all the drugs that 
"inebriate and provoke sleep," speaks of "the tear of poppy" of 
u henbane-seed" and of "mandrake." 

While Shakespeare is familiar with the same medicines. He 

Not poppy, nor mandragora, 
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, 
Shall ever minister thee to that sweet sleep 
Which thou ow'dst once. 2 

1 Lear, iv, 4. * Othello, iii, 3. 


And again: 

With juice of cursed kebenon in a vial. 1 

And when the doctor in Lear says that "the foster-nurse of 
nature is repose," he speaks a great truth, but faintly recognized in 
that age, and not even fully understood in this. And yet in that 
unscientific, crude era both Bacon and the writer of the Plays 
clearly perceived the curative power of sleep. 

Shakespeare calls it 

Great nature's second course, 
Chief nourisher in life's feast. - 

And this curious idea of the nourishing power of sleep is often 

found in Bacon. He says: 

Sleep doth supply somewhat to nourishment.* 

Sleep nourishethy or, at least, preserveth bodies a long time without other 


Sleep doth nourish much, for the spirits do less spend the nourishment in 
sleep than when living creatures are awake.' 1 

And Shakespeare says: 

The innocent sleep: 
Sleep, that knits up the ravel'd sleeve of care; 
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, 
Balm of hurt minds. 

And again: 

sleep, O gentle sleep, 
Nature's soft nurse. 7 

And Bacon has something of that same idea of knitting up 
the raveled sleeve of care. He says: 

I have compounded an ointment: . . . the use of it should be between sleeps, 
for in the latter sleep the parts assimilate chiefly* 

That is, they become knitted together. Bacon and the writer of 
the Plays seem both to have perceived that the wear of life frayed 
the nervous fiber, 

Shakespeare says of sleep: 

Please you, sir, 
Do not omit the heavy offer of it: 
It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth 
It is a comforter. 9 

1 Hamlet, i, 5. * Natural History, § 746. 7 2d Henry II'., iii, 1. 

■ Macleth, ii,2. 5 Ibid., cent, i, § 57. * Xatural History, cent, i, § 59. I 

3 History of Life and Death. ''Macbeth, ii, 2. 9 Tempest, ii, 1. 


Bacon says: 

Such is the force of sleep to restrain all vital consumption.' 

And again: 

Sleep is nothing else but a reception and retirement of the living spirit into 
itself." 2 

It would almost seem as if spirit was so incompatible with its 
enfoldment of matter that the union could only continue at the 
price of periods of oblivion, or semi-death; during which the con- 
scious spirit, half-parted from its tenement, sinks back into the 
abyss of God, and returns rejuvenated, and freshly charged with 
vital force for the duties of life. But for centuries after Bacon's 
time there were thousands, even among the most enlightened of 
their age, who regarded sleep as the enemy of man, to be curtailed 
by all possible means. It is therefore a striking proof of identity 
when two writers, of that period, are found united in anticipating 
the conclusions of modern thought on this important subject. In 
the medicinal science of to-day sleep is indeed " sore labor's bath," 
and above all " the balm of hurt minds." 

VI. Use of Medical Terms. 
But the Shakespeare writings bubble over with evidences that 
the writer was, like Bacon, a student of medicine. 
Bacon says: 

For opening, I commend beads or pieces of the roots of carduus benedictus? 
And Shakespeare says: 

Get you some of this distilled carduus bmtdiclus; ... it is the only thing for 
a qualm. 4 

It would be extraordinary indeed if two distinct men not only 
used the same expressions, thought the same thoughts, cited the 
same quotations and pursued the same studies, but even recom- 
mended the same medicines ! 

Bacon says: 

Extreme hitter as in coloq uinti\..< . 

Shakespeare says: 

The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as- 
bitter as coloquintida* 

' History of Life and Death. « Much Ado about Nothing; iii. 4. 

2 Ibid. 5 Natural History, cent, i, § 36. 

3 Natural History, % 963. " Othello, i. 3. 


Here we have the writer of the Plays and Francis Bacon dwell- 
ing upon another medicine, and describing it in the same terms. 

Shakespeare speaks in Lear of " the hysterica passio." He also 

knew about the vascular membrane lining the brain: 

These are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pin 
mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion. 1 

He also says: 

What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug 
Will scour these English hence.?' 2 


Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons, 
Which at first are scarce found to distaste; 
But with a little act upon the blood, 
Burn like the mines of sulphur. 3 

And again: 

And nothing is at a like goodness still; 

For goodness, growing to a pleurisy, 

Dies in his own too-much. 4 
And again: 

And I will through and through 

Cleanse the foul body of the infected world, 

If they will patiently receive my medicine.-' 

No wonder some have argued that the writer of the Plays was 
a physician. 

In 1st Henry IV. " he refers to the midriff ; in 2d Henry IV. and 
Othello and Macbeth he describes accurately the effect of intoxicat- 
ing liquor on the system; in 2d Henry IV' he refers to aconite : 
in The Merry Wives of Windsor he drags in the name of Esculapius. 
In King John he says: 

Before the curing of a strong disease, 
Even in the instant of repair and health. 
The fit is strongest; evils that take leave. 
On their departure most of all show evil. 8 

In Coriolanus he says: 

Sir, these cold ways, 
That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous 
Where the disease is violent. 9 

In Lear he says: 

Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once 
That make ungrateful man. 10 

1 Loves Labor Lost, iv, 2. h As Von Like It. 8 King John, iii, 4. 

2 Macbeth, v, 3. 8 Act iii, scene 3. 9 Coriolanus iii, 1. 

3 Othello, iii, 3. T Act iv, scene 4. 10 Lear, iii. 2, 

4 Hamlet, iv, 7. 


In Julius Ccesar 1 he describes correctly the symptoms of epi- 
lepsy. In Timon of Athens" he gives us the mode of treatment of a 
still more formidable disease. 

In Henry V. he furnishes us with a minute description of Fal- 

staff's death: 

A' parted even just between twelve and one, e'en at the turning of the tide, 
for after I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers, and smile upon 
his finger-ends, I knew there was but one way, for his nose was as sharp as a pen, 
and a' babbled of green fields. ... So he bade me lay more clothes on his feet. 
I put my hand into the bed, and felt them, and they were as cold as any stone. 3 

And it is a curious fact that Francis Bacon studied the signs of 

death, as he studied everything else, with the utmost particularity 

and minuteness, and he has put them on record. He says: 

The immediate preceding signs of death are, great unquietness and tossing in 
the bed, fumbling with the hands [" I saw him fumble with the sheets," says Dame 
Quickly], catching and grasping hard, gnashing with the teeth, speaking hollow, 
trembling of the nether lip, paleness of the face, the memory confused ["a' babbled 
-of green fields," says Dame Quickly], speechless, cold sweats, the body shooting 
in length, lifting up the white of the eye, changing of the whole visage, as the nose 
sharp ["his nose was as sharp as a pen," says Dame Quickly], eyes hollow, cheeks 
fallen, contraction and doubling of the coldness in the extreme parts of the body 
["his feet were as cold as any stone," says Dame Quickly]. 4 

Here we have the same symptoms, and in the same order. Who 
is there can believe that these descriptions of death came out of 
two different minds ? 

VII. The Same Historical Studies. 
Shakespeare wrote a group of historical plays extending from 
Richard II. to Henry VIII., with a single break — the reign of 
Henry VII. And Bacon completed the series by writing a history of 
Henry VII. .' 

Shakespeare wrote a play turning upon Scotch history — Mac- 
beth. Bacon had studied the history of Scotland. He says: 

The kingdom of Scotland hath passed through no small troubles, and remain- 
eth full of boiling and swelling tumors/' 

Shakespeare wrote a play concerning Danish history — Hamlet. 
Bacon had carefuMy studied Scandinavian history. He says: 

1 Act i, scene z. 4 History of Life and Death, div. x, § 30. 

2 Act iv, scene 3. B Observations on a Libel — Life and 

3 Henry /'., ii, 3. Works, vol. i, p. 161. 


The kingdom of Swedeland, besides their foreign wars upon their confines, 
the Muscovites and the Danes, hath also been subject to divers intestine tumults 
and mutations, as their stories do record} 

Shakespeare wrote a play of Julius Ccesar; Bacon wrote a biog- 
raphy or character of Julius Casar. 

Shakespeare wrote a play, Antony and Cleopatra, in which Augus- 
tus Caesar is a principal character. Bacon wrote a biography of 
Augustus Ccesar. And he discusses, in his essay Of Love, Mark 
Antony, " the half-partner of the empire of Rome, a voluptuous 
man and inordinate, whose great business did not keep out love." 
And this is the very element of the great Roman's character on 
which the play of Antony and Cleopatra turns. 

Shakespeare wrote a play of Timon of Athens, the misanthrope- 
Bacon speaks of " misanthropi, that make it their practice to bring 
men to the bough, and yet have never a tree in their garden for the 
purpose, as Timon had." 2 

VIII. Julius CiESAR in the Plays. 

Shakespeare manifests the highest admiration for Julius Caesar. 
He calls him " the foremost man of all this world." 
In Cytnbcline he says: 

There is no more such Caesars; other of them may have crooked noses; but to 
own such straight arms, none. 3 

In Hamlet he refers to him as "the mighty Julius." He says: 

A little ere the mighty Julius fell, 

The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead 

Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets. 4 

In 2d Henry VI. he says: 

For Brutus' bastard hand stabbed Julius Caesar. 5 

On the other hand, Bacon shows a like admiration for Caesar. 

He says: 

Machiavel says if Caesar had been overthrown "he would have been more 
odlbus than ever was Catiline ;" as if there had been no difference, but in fortune, 
between a very fury of lust and blood and the most excellent spirit (his ambitiorn 
reserved) of the world.' 1 ' 

1 Observations on a Libel — Life and 4 Hamlet, i, i. 

Works, vol. i, p. 162. 5 2d Henry IV. t iv, 1. 

2 Essay Of Goodness. 6 Advancement of Learning, book ii.. 

3 Cymbeline, iii, 1. 


This is but another way of saying: " The foremost man of all 
this world." He also refers to Caesar's letters and apophthegms, 
" which excel all men's else." ' 

Shakespeare says: 

Kent, in the commentaries Caesar writ, 
Is termed the civil'st place of all this isle.'-' 

Bacon refers to Caesar's Commentaries, and pronounces them 
"the best history of the world." 3 

In the play of Julius Ccesar we see the conspirators coming to- 
gether at the house of Brutus. In The Advancement of Learning, 
book ii, we find Bacon describing the supper given by M. Brutus 
and Cassius to "certain whose opinions they meant to feci whether 
they were fit to be made their associates " in the killing of Caesar. 

Bacon says of Julius Caesar: 

He referred all things to himself, and was the true and perfect center of all his 
actions. By which means, being so fast tied to his ends, he was still prosperous 
and prevailed in his purposes, insomuch that neither country, nor religion, nor 
good turns done him, nor kindred, nor friendship diverted his appetite nor bridled 
him from pursuing his own ends. 4 

In the play we find the same characteristic brought into view. 

Just before the assassination Cassius falls at Caesar's feet to beg 

the enfranchisement of Publius Cimber. Caesar replies: 

I could be well moved if I were as you; 
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me. 
But I am constant as the northern star 
Of whose true-fixed and resting quality 
There is no fellow in the firmament. 
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks, 
They are all fire, and every one doth shine; 
But there is one in all doth hold his place: 
So, in the world: 'tis furnished well with men, 
And men are flesh and blood and apprehensive; 
Yet, in the number, I do know but one 
That unassailable holds on his rank, 
Unshaked of motion, and that I am he- 
Let me a little show it. 5 

Here we see the same man described by Bacon, whom " neither 

country, nor good turns done him, nor kindred, nor friendship 

diverted . . . from pursuing his own ends." 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. 4 Character of Julius Ccesar. 

* ad Henry VI., iv, 7. ■ Julius Ccesar, iii, 1. 

• Advancement of Learning, book ii. 


43 ^ 

In Julius Ccesar we find Shakespeare suggesting the different 
temperaments and mental states that accompany particular con- 
ditions of the body: 

Let me have men about me that are fat; 
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights. 
Yond' Cassius hath a lean and hungry look; 
He thinks too much : such men are dangerous. 1 

And in Bacon's Catalogue of Particular Histories , to be studied, 

we find this: 

52. A history of different habits of body, of fat and lean, of complexions (as they 
are called), etc. 

IX. Studies of Mortality. 

Shakespeare tells us that Cleopatra had pursued 

Conclusions infinite 
Of easy ways to die. 

And she speaks of the asp as the " baby at my breast that sucks 

the nurse to sleep." 

Bacon had made the same subject a matter of study. He says: 

The death that is most without pain hath been noted to be upon the taking of 
the potion of hemlock, which in humanity was the form of execution of capital 
offenders in Athens. The poison of the asp, that Cleopatra used, hath some affinity 
-with it* 

Marvelous! marvelous! how the heads of these two men — if 
you will insist on calling them such — were stored with the same 
facts and gave birth to the same thoughts ! 

Both had studied the condition of the human body after death. 

Bacon says: 

I find in Plutarch and others that when Augustus Caesar visited the sepulcher 
of Alexander the Great in Alexandria, he found the body to keep its dimensions, 
but withal, that notwithstanding all the embalming, which no doubt was the best, 
the body was so tender, as Caesar touching but the nose defaced it. 3 

And, on the other hand, we find Shakespeare's mind dwelling 
upon the dust of this same Alexander, and tracing it, in his imagin- 
ation, through many transmutations, until he finds it "stopping the 
bung-hole of a beer-barrel." 4 

We observe the mind of the poet pursuing some very curious 
and ghastly, not to say unpoetical, inquiries. In Hamlet we have: 

1 Julius Ccesar, i, 2. 2 Natural History, % 643. 3 Ibid., § 771. * Hamlet, v, 1. 



Hamlet. How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot? 

Clown. Faith, if he be not rotten before he die '(as we have many pocky corses 
now-a-days, that will scarce hold the laying in), he will last you some eight year, 
or nine year: a tanner will last you nine year. 

Hamlet. Why he more than another? 

Clown. Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade that he will keep out 
water a great while; and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead 
body. 1 

And Bacon's mind had turned to similar studies. He says: 

It is strange, and well to be noted, how long carcasses have continued uncor- 
rupt, and in their former dimensions, as appeareth in the mummies of Egypt; 
having lasted, as is conceived, some of them three thousand years. - 

X. Oratory. 

Both Bacon and the writer of the Shakespeare Plays were prac- 
tical orators and students of oratory. 

As to the first, we have Ben Jonson's testimony: 

There happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his 
speaking. His language, where he could spare or pass by a jest, was nobly cen- 
sorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suf- 
fered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech 
but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough or look aside from 
him without loss. He commanded where he spoke and had his judges angry and 
pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear 
of every man who heard him was lest he should make an end. 

Howell, another contemporary, says of him : " He was the elo- 
quentest man that was born in this island." 3 

Let us turn now to the great oration which Shakespeare puts 
into the mouth of Mark Antony, as delivered over the dead body of 
Julius Caesar. 

Well did Archbishop Whately say of Shakespeare: 

The first of dramatists, he might easily have been the first of orators. 

Only an orator, accustomed to public speech, and holding " the 

affections of his hearers in his power," and capable of working upon 

the passions of men, and making them " angry or pleased " as he 

chose, could have conceived that great oration. It is climactic in 

its construction. Mark Antony begins in all humility and deep 

sorrow, asking only pity and sympathy for the poor bleeding 

corpse : 

I come to bury Csesar, not to praise him. 

1 Hamlet, v, i. 2 Natural History, § 771. s Holmes, A uthorship o/Shak., vol. ii, p. 600. 


He is most deferential to "the honorable men" who had assas- 
sinated Caesar: 

Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest, 
(For Brutus is an honorable man, — 
So are they all, all honorable men), 
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral. 

And he gives the humble reason: 

He was my friend, faithful and just to me. 
And then how cunningly he interjects appeals to the feelings of 

the mob: 

He hath brought many captives home to Rome, 
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill. 

And how adroitly, and with an ad captandum vulgus argument^ 
he answers the charge that Caesar was ambitious: 

You all did see that on the Lupercal 

I thrice presented him a kingly crown, 

Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition? 

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: 
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. 

And then, protesting that he will not read Caesar's will, he per- 
mits the multitude to know that they are his heirs. 

And what a world of admiration, in the writer, for Caesar him- 
self, lies behind these words: 

Let but the commons hear this testament, 
(Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read), 
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds, 
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood; 
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory, 
And dying, mention it within their wills, 
Bequeathing it, as a rich legacy, 
Unto their issue. 

Then he pretends to draw back. 

Citizens. Read the will; we'll hear it, Antony; you shall read us the will — 
Caesar's will. 

Antony. Will you be patient? Will you stay a while? I have o'ershot myself 
to tell you of it. 

And then, at last, encouraged by the voices and cries of the 

multitude, he snarls out: 

I fear I wrong the honorable men 



But before reading the will he descends to uncover the dead 
body of the great commander; the multitude pressing, with fiery 
Italian eyes, around him, and glaring over each others' shoulders 
at the corpse. 

But first he brings back the memory of Caesar's magnificent 


You all do know this mantle: I remember 
The first time ever Caesar put it on; 
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent, 
That day he overcame the A r ervii. 

Then he plucks away the garment and reveals the hacked and 

mangled corpse, 

Marred, as you see, by traitors. 

And thereupon he gives the details of the assassination, points 
out and identifies each wound, "poor, poor dumb mouths;" and 
at last reads the will, and sends the mob forth, raging for 
revenge, to let slip the dogs of war. 

Beside this funeral oration all other efforts of human speech are 
weak, feeble, poverty-stricken and commonplace. Call up your 
Demosthenes, your Cicero, your Burke, your Chatham, your Grat- 
tan, your Webster, — and what are their noblest and loftiest utter- 
ances compared with this magnificent production ? It is the most 
consummate eloquence, wedded to the highest poetry, breathing the 
profoundest philosophy, and sweeping the whole register of the 
human heart, as if it were the strings of some grand musical instru- 
ment, capable of giving forth all forms of sound, from the sob of 
pity to the howl of fury. It lifts the head of human possibility a 
whole shoulder-height above the range of ordinary human achieve- 

We find Bacon writing a letter, in 1608-9, *° Sir Tobie Matthew, 
in which he refers back to the time of the death of Elizabeth (1603), 
and, alluding to a rough draft of his essay, The Felicity of Quee?i 
Elizabeth, which Bacon had shown to Sir Tobie, he says : 

At that time methought you were more willing to hear Julius Ccesar than 
Elizabeth commended. 

Bacon, it is known, submitted his acknowledged writings to the 
criticism of his friend, Sir Tobie ; and we can imagine him reading 
to Sir Tobie, in secret, this grand oration, with all the heat and fer- 
vor with which it came from his own mind. And we can imagine 


Sir Tobie's delight, touched upon and referred to cunningly in the 
foregoing playful allusion. 

What a picture for a great artist that would make : Bacon and 
Sir Tobie alone in the chamber of Gray's Inn, with the door 
locked ; and Bacon reading, with flashing eyes, to his enraptured 
auditor, Mark Antony's oration over the dead body of Julius Caesar. 

XI. Other Studies. 

But, in whatever direction we turn, we find the writer of the 
Plays and Francis Bacon devoting themselves to the same pursuits. 

Bacon in The New Atlantis discusses the possibility of there 
being discovered in the future "some perpetual motions" — a curi- 
ous thought and a curious study for that age. 

Shakespeare makes Falstaff say to the Chief Justice: 

I were better to be eaten to death with rust, than to be scoured to nothing 
with perpetual motion} 

Bacon says: 

Snow-water is held unwholesome; inasmuch as the people that dwell at the 
foot of the snow mountains, or otherwise upon the ascent, especially the women, 
by drinking snow-water have great bags hanging under their throats. '- 

Shakespeare says: 

When we were boys, 
Who would believe that there were mountaineers 
Dew-lapped like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them 
Wallets of flesh? 3 

Shakespeare was familiar with the works of Machiavel, and 
alludes to him in The Merry Wives of Windsor, in 1st Henry Vl. 
and in 3d Henry VI. 

Bacon had studied his writings, and refers to him in The 
Advancement of Learning, book ii, and in many other places. 

Shakespeare was a great observer of the purity of the air. He 

says in Macbeth : 

This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air 
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself 
Unto our gentle senses. 

And Bacon says: 

I would wish you to observe the climate and the temperature of the air ; for so 
you shall judge of the healthfulness of the place. 4 

1 2d Henry IJ\, i, 2. 2 Natural History, § 396. 3 Tempest, iii, 3. 

4 Letter to the Earl of Rutland, written in the name of the Earl of Essex — Life ami Works, 
vol. ii, p. ig. 


Bacon also says: 

The heart receiveth benefit or harm most from the air we breathe, from vapors 
and from the affections. 1 

One has only to read the works of Francis Bacon to see that 
they abound in quotations from and references to the Bible. He 
had evidently made the Scriptures the subject of close and thor- 
ough study. 

On the other hand, the Rev. Charles Wordsworth says: 

Take the entire range of English literature, put together our best authors who 
have written upon subjects professedly not religious or theological, and we shall 
not find, I believe, in all united, so much evidence of the Bible having been read 
and used as we have found in Shakespeare alone. 

We have already seen that both the author of the Plays and 
Francis Bacon had studied law, and had read even the obscure 
law-reports of Plowden, printed in the still more obscure black- 
letter and Norman French. 

In fact, I might swell this chapter beyond all reasonable bounds 
by citing instance after instance, to show that the writer of the 
Plays studied precisely the same books that Francis Bacon did; 
and, in the chapter on Identical Quotations, I have shown that he 
took out of those books exactly the same particular facts and 
thoughts which had adhered to the memory of Francis Bacon. It 
is difficult in this world to find two men who agree in devoting 
themselves not to one, but to a multitude of the same studies; and 
rarer still to find two men who will be impressed alike with the 
same particulars in those studies. 

But let us move forward a step farther in the argument. 

1 History of Life and Death. 



Lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold. 

Hamlet, i,j. 

THE list of coincident errors must necessarily be brief. We 
can not include the errors common to all men in that age, 
for those would prove nothing. And the mistakes of so accurate 
and profound a man as Francis Bacon are necessarily few in 
number. But if we find any errors peculiar to Francis Bacon 
repeated in Shakespeare, it will go far to settle the question of 
identity. For different men may read the same books and think 
the same thoughts, but it is unusual, in fact, extraordinary, if they 
fall into the same mistakes. 

I. Both Misquote Aristotle. 

Mr. Spedding noticed the fact that Bacon in The Advancement of 
Learning had erroneously quoted Aristotle as saying " that young 
men are no fit auditors of moral philosophy," because "they are 
not settled from the boiling heat of their affections, nor attem- 
pered with time and experience"; while, in truth, Aristotle speaks, 
in the passage referred to by Bacon, of "political philosophy." 

Mr. Spedding further noted that this precise error of confound- 
ing moral with political philosophy had been followed by Shakespeare. 
In Troilus and Cressida the two "young men," Paris and Troilus, 
had given their opinion that the Trojans should keep possession of 
the fair Helen. To which Hector replies: 

Paris and Troilus, you have both said well; 
And on the cause and question now in hand 
Have glozed — but superficially; not much 
Unlike young men whom Aristotle thought 
Unfit to hear moral philosophy.' 

And what reason did Bacon give why young men were not fit 
to hear moral philosophy ? Because " they are not settled from the 

' Troilus and Cressida, ii, 2. 



boiling heat of their affections, nor attempered with time and 
experience." And why does Hector think young men are " unfit 
to hear moral philosophy" ? Because : 

The reasons you allege do more conduce 

To the hot passions of distempered blood, 

Than to make up a free determination 

'Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge 

Have ears more deaf than adders, to the voice 

Of any true decision. 

II. An Error in Natural Philosophy. 

Shakespeare had a curious theory about fire: it was that each 
fire was an entity, as much so as a stick of wood; and that one 
flame could push aside or drive out another flame, just as one stick 
might push aside or expel another. This of course was an error. 
He says: 

Even as one heat another heat expels, 
Or as one nail by strength drives out another, 
So the remembrance of my former love 
Is by a newer object quite forgotten. 1 

And the same thought is repeated in Coriolanus : 

One fire drives out another ; one nail, one nail.' 2 

We turn to Bacon's Promus of Formularies and Elegancies, now 
preserved in the British Museum, and, in his own handwriting, we 
have, as one of the entries: 

Clavum clavo pellere — (To drive out a nail with a nail). 

This is precisely the expression given above: 

One nail by strength drives out another. 

One fire drives out another; one nail, one nail. 

But behind this was a peculiar and erroneous theory held by 
Bacon, concerning heat, which he records in the Sylva Sylvarum? 
He held that heat was a substance; some of his favorite fallacies 
were that "one flame within another quencheth not," and that 
"flame doth not mingle with flame, but remaineth contiguous." 
He speaks of one heat being "mixed with another," of its being 
"pushed farther," — as if so much matter. This is precisely the 
erroneous theory which was held by the writer of the Plays. 

1 Two Gentlemen of Verona, ii, 4. 2 Coriolanus, iv, 7. 3 Vol. i, p. 32. 



Mrs. Pott says: 

Knowing, as we now do, that these theories were as mistaken as they appear 
to have been original, it seems almost past belief that any two men should, at pre- 
cisely the same period, have independently conceived the same theories and made 
the same mistakes. 1 

III. Spirits of Animate and Inanimate Nature. 

Bacon had another peculiar theory which the world has refused 
to accept, at least in its broad significance. 

He believed that there is a living spirit, or life principle, in 
every thing in the created universe, which conserves its substance 
and holds it together, and thus that, in some sense, the stones and 
the clods of the earth possess souls; that without some such spirit- 
ual force, differing in kinds, there could be no difference in sub- 
stances. For why should the arrangement of the molecules of 
foam, for instance, differ from that of the molecules of iron, if some 
external force has not been imposed upon them to hold them in 
their peculiar relation to each other, and thus constitute the differ- 
ence between the light froth and the dense metal ? 

This theory is akin to the expression which Shakespeare puts 

into the mouth of the Duke, in As You Like It: 

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks. 

Sermons in stones, and good in everything. 2 

And Prince Arthur says: 

My uncle's spirit is in these stones. 3 

Bacon says: 

All tangible bodies contain a spirit enveloped with the grosser body. There is 
no known body in the upper part of the earth without its spirit. The spirit which 
exists in all living bodies keeps all the parts in due subjection; when it escapes the 
body decomposes, or the similar parts unite — as metals rust, fluids turn sour. 

And Bacon sees a relationship between the spirit within the ani- 
mal and the spirit of the objects, even inanimate, which act upon 
the senses of the animal; and he strikes out the curious thought 

There might be as many senses in animals as there are points of agreement 
with inanimate bodies if the animated body were perforated, so as to allow the spirit 
to have access to the limb properly disposed for action, as a fit organ. 4 

That is to say, the spirit of the universe pervades all created 


1 Promus, p. 33. *As You Like It, ii, 1. 3 King John, iv. 3. 4 Novum Organum, book ii. 


things, animate and inanimate, but the intelligence of man and ani- 
mal only takes cognizance of the spirits of other things around them 
through the perforations of the senses; the eyes, ears, touch, taste 
and smell being, as it were, holes, through which the external uni- 
versal vitality reaches into our vitality and stirs it to recognition. 
A solemn thought, doubtless true, and which should teach us mod- 
esty; for it would follow that we see not all God's works, but only 
those limited areas which come within the range of the peep-holes 
of our few senses. In other words, the space around us may be 
filled with forms, animate and inanimate, which hold "no points of 
agreement " with our senses, and of which, therefore, we can have 
no knowledge. And thus the dream of the schoolman of old may 
be true, that the space around us is filled as thick with spirits as the 
snow-storm is filled with snow-flakes. 

This doctrine of spirits runs through all Bacon's writings. He 
says in one place: 

All bodies have spirits and pneumatical parts within them. . . . But the 
spirits of things inanimate are shut in and cut off by the tangible parts. 1 

That is to say, they have no holes of the senses, through which 
the spirit of the inanimate object can communicate with us; any 
more than we could communicate with a human spirit, locked up 
in a body devoid of all the senses. 

Again he says: 

Spirits are nothing else but a natural body rarified to a proportion, and 
included in the tangible parts of bodies as in an integument ; . . . and they are in 
all tangible bodies whatsoever, more or less. 2 

And again speaking of the superstition of '' the evil eye," he 


Besides, at such times [times of glory and triumph], the spirits of the persons 
envied do come forth most into the outward parts, and so meet the blow. 3 

Bacon does not speak, as we would, of the spirit in a man, but of 

the spirits, as if there were a multitude of them in each individual, 

occupying every part of the body. For instance: 

Great joys attenuate the spirits; familiar cheerfulness strengthens the spirits 
by calling them forth. 4 


In bashfulness the spirits do a little go and come. 5 

1 Natural History, § 601. 3 Essay Of R>i7>y. ■ Essay Of Goodness y 

2 I bid ., § 92. 4 History of L ife and Death . 


And again: 

The spirits of the wine oppress the spirits animal. ' 
And in Shakespeare we find this same theory of the spirits. He 


Fair daughter ! you do draw my spirits from me, 
With new lamenting ancient oversights. 2 

And again: 

Forth at jour eyes your spirits wildly peep. 3 
And again: 

I am never merry when I hear sweet music. 
The reason is, your spirits are attentive. 4 
And again: 

Your spirits shine through you. 5 

Young gentleman, your spirits are too bold for your years. 6 

My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up. 7 

My spirits are nimble. 8 

Heaven give your spirits comfort. 9 

Summon up your dearest spirits. 10 

The nimble spirits in the arteries. 11 

Their great guilt, 
Like poison given to work a great time after, 
Now 'gins to bite the spirits.*- 

Spirits are not finely touched but to fine issues. 13 

Thus in the Shakespeare Plays we find the reflection of one of 

Bacon's most peculiar philosophical beliefs. 

IV. Spontaneous Generation. 

Bacon fell into another error in natural philosophy which reap- 
pears in the Plays. This was a belief, which continued down to 
our own times, in spontaneous generation ; that is to say, that life 
could come out of non-life. We now realize that that marvelous 
and inexplicable thing we call life ascends by an unbroken pedi- 
gree, through all time, back to the central Source of Force in the 
universe, by whatever name we may call it. But Bacon believed 
that life could come out of conditions of inorganic matter. He 
says : 

1 Xatural History, §726. 6 As You Like It, i, 2. ,0 Love's Labor Lost, ii, 1. 

*2d Henry IV., ii, 3. 7 Tempest, i, 2. " Ibid., iv, 3. 

3 Hamlet, iii, 4. ■ Ibid., ii, 1. ^Tempest, iii, 3. 

* Merchant of Venice, v. \. 9 Measure for Measure, iv, 2. ■• Measure for Measure, 1, 1. 

-"' Macbeth, iii, 1. 


The first beginnings and rudiments or effects of life in animalculae spring from 
putrefaction, as in the eggs of ants, worms, mosses, frogs after rain, etc. 1 

Again he says. 

The excrements of living creatures do not only heed insecta when they are 
exerned, but also while they are in the body. 2 

We find that the poet Shakespeare had thought much upon this 
same very unpoetical subject. He says: 

And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm, 
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements. 
Starts up and stands on end. 3 

Bacon says: 

For all putrefaction, if it dissolve not in arefaction, will in the end issue into 
plants, or living creatures bred of putrefaction. 4 

And again he speaks of 

Living creatures bred of putrefaction. ft 

And in Shakespeare we have Hamlet saying: 

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion. 6 

And in all this we see, also, the natural philosopher, who 
believed that " most base things tend to rich ends." 

V. Other Errors. 

Both believed that there was a precious stone in the head of a 
toad. Bacon says: 

Query. If the stone taken out of a toad's head be not of the like virtue; for 
the toad loveth shade and coolness. 7 

Shakespeare says : 

Sweet are the uses of adversity, 

Which, like the toad, ugly und venomous, 

Wears yet a piecious jewel in his head. 8 

Both thought the liver was the seat of sensuality. Bacon in 
The Advancement of Learning, book ii, refers to Plato's opinion to> 
that effect. And in Shakespeare we have: 

This is the liver vein, which makes flesh a deity; 
A green goose, a goddess. 9 

1 Novum Organum, book ii. * Natural History, § 605. 7 Natural History, cent, x, § 967. 

5 Natural History, % 696. 6 Ibid., § 328. 8 A s You Like It, ii, 1. 

3 Hamlet, iii, 4. 8 Hamlet, ii, 2. * Love's Labor Lost, iv, 3. 



Both believed, despite the discoveries of Galileo, that the earth 
was the center of the universe, and that the heavens revolved 
around it. Later in his life Bacon seemed to accept the new theo- 
ries, but at the time the Plays were written he repudiated them. 
He says: 

Who would not smile at the astronomers, I mean not these new carmen which 
drive the earth about. 1 

Again he says: 

It is a poor center of a man's actions, himself. It is right earth, for that only- 
stands fast upon his own center; whereas all things that have affinity with the 
heavens move upon the center of another, which they benefit. - 

While Shakespeare also rejected the new theories. He says in 

Hamlet : 

Doubt thou the stars are lire. 
Doubt that the sun doth move? 

Again he says: 

The heavens themselves, the planets ana this center, 
Observe degree, priority and place. 4 

And in the same play he says: 

But the strong base and building of ray love 
Is as the very center of the earth. 
Drawing all things to it. 5 

1 Essay In Praise of Knowledge, 1590 3 Hamlet, ii, 2. 

— Life and Works, vol. i, p. 124. * Troilus and Cressida, i, 3. 

3 Essay Of Wisdom. * Ibid., iv, 2. 



Letter for letter ! Why, this is the very same : the very hand : the very words. 

Merry Wives of Windsor \ ii, i. 

I HAVE already shown, in the first chapter of Book I., the 
tendency manifested in the Plays to use unusual words, 
especially those derived from or constructed out of the Latin. I 
may add to the list already given the following instances: 

And all things rare 
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.' 

Cowards and men cautelous } 
No soil or cautel." 
Through all the world's vastidity* 
Such cxsufflicate and blown surmises. 5 
His pendant bed and procreant cradle. 6 
Thou vinew'dst leaven. 7 
Rend and deracinate* 
Thou cacadamon} 
We have a very crowding of words, unusual in poetry, into the 
following lines : 

As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap, 
Infect the sound pine and divert his grain 
Tortive and errant from his course of growth. 1 " 

All these things bespeak the scholar, overflowing with Roman 
learning and eager to enrich his mother-tongue by the coinage of 
new words. It is not too much to say that Bacon has doubled the 
capacity of the English language. He was aware of this fact him- 
self, and in his Discourse in Praise of Queen Elizabeth he says that 
the tongue of England " has been infinitely polished since her 
happy times." 

' Sonnet xxi. 5 Othello, iii, 3. "Ibid., i, 3. 

2 Julius Caesar, ii, 1. * Macbeth, i, 6. 9 Richard III., i, 3. 

3 Hamlet, i, 3. 7 Troilus and Cressida, ii, 1. 10 Troilus and Cressida, i, 3. 

4 Measure for Measure, iii, 1. 




We find in Bacon's prose works the same tendency to coin or 
transfer words bodily from the Latin. I give a few examples: 

"Coarctation," " percutient," " mordication," " carnosities," " the ingurgita- 
tion of wine," "incomprehensions," " arefaction," " flexuous courses of nature," 
" exulcerations," " reluctation," "embarred," "digladiation," " vermiculate ques- 
tions," " morigeration," " redargution," "maniable," " ventosity." 

But we will also find, in both sets of writings, a disposition to 
use quaint, odd and unusual words, borrowed, many of them, from 
that part of common speech which rarely finds its way into print, — 
the colloquialisms of the shop and the street, — and we will find 
many of them that are used in the same sense by both Bacon and 

Macbeth says : 

I pull in resolution, and begin 

To doubt the equivocation of the fiend, 

That lies like truth. 1 

The commentators have been puzzled with this word, but we: 

have it also in Bacon : 

Those smells are all strong, and do /////and vellicate the sense. 2 

To vellicate is to twitch convulsively. 

We find in Hamlet the strange word pall ; 

Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well 
When our dear plots do pall. ■ 

We turn to Bacon and we find him using the same word: 
The beer or wine hath not been palled or deaded at all. 4 

And again: 

The refreshing or quickening of drink palled or dead. 5 

In Bacon we have : 

For if they go forth right to a place, they must needs have sight. 6 
Shakespeare says : 

Step aside from the direct forth right.' 

Through forth rights and meanders. 8 

Bacon says: 

I have been juddering in physic all my life. 

' Macbeth, v, 4. 4 Xatural History \ §385. 7 Troilus and Cress/Wa, iii, 3;. 

2 Natural History ,§835. * Ibid., §314. • Ttm&est, iii, 3. 

* Hamlet, v, 1. « Ibid. , 1 698. 


Shakespeare says : 

The gods that keep such a pudder o'er our heads. 1 

This word occurs but on this occasion in the Plays. It means 


There is a word in Henry F. 2 — imbar — which has excited con- 
siderable controversy among the commentators. It occurs in the 
discussion of the Salic law of France: 

So that as clear as is the summer's sun, 
King Pepin's title, and Hugh Capet's claim, 
King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear 
To hold in right and title of the female; 
So do the kings of France unto this day: 
Howbeit they would hold up this Salic law, 
To bar your Highness claiming from the female; 
And rather choose to hide them in a net, 
Than amply to imbar their crooked titles 
Usurped from you and your progenitors. 

I quote Knight's foot-note upon this word: 

Imbar. The Folio gives this word imbarre, which modern editors, upon the 
authority of Theobald, have changed into imbare. Rowe, somewhat more boldly, 
reads make bare. There can be no doubt, we think, that imbar is the right word. 
It might be taken as placed in opposition to bar. To bar is to obstruct; to imbar 
is to bar in, to secure. They would hold up the Salic law "to bar your High- 
ness," hiding "their crooked titles" in a net rather than amply defending them. 
But it has been suggested to us that imbar is here used for " to set at the bar " — to 
place their crooked titles before a proper tribunal. This is ingenious and plausible. 

I quote these comments to show that the word is a rare and 
obscure one. The two words, bar and imbar, seem to me to mean 
substantially the same thing; as we find plead and implead, personate 
and impersonate, plant and implant. If there is any difference, it con- 
sists in :he fact that bar means, as suggested by Knight, to shut 
out, and imbar to shut in. In the sentence under consideration it 
seems that both the title of the reigning French King and the 
claim of King Henry V. came through the female line, and the 
Archbishop of Canterbury shows that the French, while their King 
holds in contravention of the Salic law, yet set it up as a bar to 
the claim of the English King, also holding through the female 
line, and thus involve themselves in a net or tangle of contradic- 
tions, instead of amply, fully, and on other and substantial grounds, 

1 Lear, iii, a. 2 Act i, scene 2. 


imbarring their titles, inclosing them and defending them from the 

And here again, where we would find the explanation of obscure 
words in Shakespeare, we are driven to Bacon. 

Tn his History of Henry VII. he says: 

The King forthwith banished all Flemings . . . out of his kingdom; com- 
manding his subjects likewise, and by name his merchants adventurers, which had 
a reisance in Antwerp, to return; translating the mart, which commonly followed 
the English cloth, unto Calais; and emban-ed also all further trade for the future. 

Here we get at the meaning of the word. He not only drove 
the Flemish merchants out of his country and recalled his own 
merchants resident in Flanders, and changed the foreign mart, but 
he also embarred all further trade — that is, denied the Flemish 
commerce access to his people. 

And it is a curious fact that in our great American dictionary 
( Webster s Unabridged} the two words, embarred and i/nbare, are 
given — the first with the above quotation from Bacon, and the 
other with the example of the word from Henry V., with a meaning 
attached, created to suit the emergency, 4k to lay bare, to uncover, 
to expose." So that, to attempt to read Shakespeare without 
Bacon, the commentators are driven to coin new words "which 
never were, and no man ever saw." 

We read in Shakespeare: 

How cam'st thou to be the siege of this mooncalf .' ' 

J. O. Halliwell says in a foot-note upon this passage: 

A mooncalf is an imperfectly-developed foetus, here metaphorically applied to a 
misshapen monster. 

But we turn to Bacon, and there we find the real explanation: 

It may be that children and young cattle that are brought forth in the full of the 
moon are stronger and laigcr than those which are brought forth in the wane; and 
those, also, which are begotten in the full of the moon [are stronger and larger]. 2 

So that the term was applied to Caliban with reference to his 
gross proportions. 

The curious word startitig-hole occurs but once in the 
Plays, in Falstaff's interview with the Prince, 3 after the robbery on 
Gads-hill; and it is so rare that it is made the foundation of a foot- 

I Tempest, ii, 2. 2 Natural ///story § 897. 3 rst Henry //'., ii, 4. 


note. We turn to Bacon, and we find it used by him in the same 

He [Lopez] thought to provide himself with as many starting-holes and eva- 
sions as he could devise. 1 

Bacon says: 

So with marvelous consent and applause.' 2 
Shakespeare says: 

The rogues are marvelous poor. 3 

Marvelous foul linen. 4 

Bacon speaks of 

Incredible affection. 5 

This word is found but once in the Plays: 

I tell you, 'tis incredible to believe 
How much she loves me. 6 

Bacon says: 

The people entertained this airy body ox phantasm." 

Shakespeare says: 

A fanatical phantasm/ 

This is a rare word; it occurs but twice in the Plays; the word 
phantasma once. 

Bacon says: 

It [Ireland] was a ticklish and unsettled state. 9 

Shakespeare says: 

And wide unclasp the tables of their thoughts 
To every ticklish reader. 10 

This word occurs but once in the Plays, the instance given. 

Bacon says: 

The embassador did so magnify the King and Queen, as was enough to glut the 
hearers. 11 

This odd word occurs only once in the Plays, in The Tempest, 
and is considered so unusual as to be the subject of a foot-note: 

1 The Lopez Conspiracy — Life and Works, • Taming of the Shrew, ii, i. 

vol. i, p. 283. 7 History of Henry VII. 

2 History of Henry VII. 8 Love's Labor Lost, v, t. 
8 AWs Well that Ends Well, iv, 3. » History of Henry II. 

*2d Henry IV., v, 1. 10 Troilus and Cressida, iv, 5. 

6 History of Henry VII. ll History of Henry VII. 


Though every drop of water swear against it 
And gape at widest to glut him. 1 

We find the word inoculate but once in the Plays: 

For virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. 5 
Bacon uses the same rare word: 

Grafting and *" noculating wild trees. 3 

Imogen says to the entranced Ioachimo: 

What, dear sir, 
Thus raps you ? Are you well ? 4 

And Knight has a foot-note: 

Raps you — transports you. We are familiar with the participle rapt, but this 
form of the verb is uncommon. 

We turn to Bacon and we find him using the same uncommon 

form : 

Winged enticements that ravish and rap mortal men. 5 

We find in the Plays a very curious expression. Ajax calls 

A vinew'dst leaven} 
We turn to Bacon and we find him applying the same word to 
human beings : 

A leaven of men. 7 

A core of people. 8 
Thou core of envy. 9 

Dregs of the northern people. 10 

Dregs of the storm. 11 
Dregs of conscience. Ia 

Bacon says: 
Shakespeare : 

Shakespeare : 

Bacon says: 

I doubt not but in the university you shall find choice of many excellent wits, 
and in things wherein they have waded, many of good understanding. 13 

1 Tempest, i, i. 8 Ibid. 

2 Hamlet, iii, i. 9 Troilus and Cressida, v, i. 

3 New A tlantis. ' ° History of Henry VII. 

* Cymbeline, i, 7. u Tempest, ii, 2. 

6 Wisdom 0/ the A ncients — Sphynx, 12 Richard III., i, 4. 

* Troilus and Cressida, ii, 1. 13 Letter to Sir Foulke Greville — Life and 
1 History of Henry VII. Works, vol. ii, p. 25. 



And again: 

But if I should wade further into this Queen's praises. 1 
Shakespeare says: 

For their joy waded in tears. 2 

I am in blood 
Stepped in so far, that should I zvade no more, 
Returning were as tedious as go o'er. 3 

Bacon says: 

He was wholly compounded of frauds and deceits. 4 
Shakespeare says: 

This foolish compounded clay, man. 5 

In the large composition of this man. 6 

We might compound & boy, half French, half English. 7 

And she, of all compounded, 
Outsells them all. 8 

The word slobber is referred to by the commentators as a strange 
and unusual word. It is probably the same word as slubber? It is 
used in The Merchant of Venice, ii, 8: 

Slubber not on the business for my sake, Bassanio. 
Bacon 10 speaks of "slubbering on the lute," to illustrate his "cau- 
tioning exercise, as to beware lest by evil doing, as all beginners do 
weakly, a man grow to be inveterate in a bad habit." Slubbering on 
the lute means, therefore, practicing in a slovenly manner. 
And this word inveterate is a favorite one with Shakespeare: 
The inveterate canker. 11 
Inveterate malice. 19 
Inveterate hate. 13 

In Shakespeare we find: 

Tea, all which it inherit shall dissolve; 
And, like this unsubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. 

1 Felic. Queen Elizabeth. 

2 Winter's Tale, v. 2. 

3 Macbeth, iii, 4. 

4 Character of Julius Ccesar. 
3 2d Henry IV., i, 2. 

8 King John, i, 1. 

7 Henry V., v, 2. 

8 Cymbeline, iii, 5. 

9 Shakespeariana, May, 1884, p. 185 — Article 
by J. Lauglin. 

10 Discourse Concerning Help for the Intellect- 

ual Powers. 

11 King John, v, 2. 
> 2 Richard II., i, 1. 
18 Corioianus, ii, 3. 


This word rack has led to great controversy, and as an emenda- 
tion the word wreck was suggested, but the true explanation was 
found in Bacon. 1 He says: 

The winds in the upper regions, which move the clouds above, which we call 
the rack, and are not perceived below, pass without noise. - 

Hence the rack evidently means the light, fleecy, upper clouds, a 
tine image for unsubstantiality. 

And we have another curious instance wherein Shakespeare is 
only to be explained by Bacon. In 2d Henry IF., ii, 2, Poins says 
of Falstaff, speaking to Bardolph: 

And how doth the Martlemas, your master. 

The commentators explain this as meaning the feast of St. Mar- 
tin, the nth of November. 

Poins calls Falstaff the Martlemas because his year of life is running out. : 

But we turn to Bacon's Natural History. We find 

That that is dry is unapt to putrefy; and therefore smoke preserveth flesh, as 
we see in bacon, and neat's tongues and Martlemas beef, etc. 4 

This is a much more natural explanation. Poins refers to the 
aged but gross Falstaff as a beef, dried and smoked by time. 

Bacon says: 

The breath in man's microcosmos and in other animals do very well agree. 5 

Shakespeare says : 

If you see this in the map of my microcosm, follows it 1 am known well 
enough too. 6 

Bacon says: 

But sure it could not be that pelting matter. 1 
Shakespeare says: 

Every pelting, petty officer. 8 

Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes. 9 

Shakespeare says: 

Do cream and mantle like a standing pool. 10 

1 Knight's Shak., note B, vol. ii, p. 429. * Coriolanus, ii, 1. 

2 Natural History, cent, ii, § 115. ' Letter to Buckingham. 

3 Knight. 8 Measure for Measure, ii, 2. 

4 Natural History, cent. iv. 9 Lear, ii, 3. 

5 Xatur at History of Winds. 10 Merchant of Venice, i, 1. 


Their rising senses 
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle 
Their clearer reason. 1 

Bacon says: 

It [the beer] drinketh fresh, flowereth and mantleth exceedingly. 2 ' 

Bacon says: 

If there be any biting or nibbling at my name. 3 

Shakespeare says: 

And as pigeons bill, so wedlock would be nibbling.*' 

Bacon says: 

I have lived hitherto upon the scraps of my former fortunes. 5 

Shakespeare says: 

He hath been at a feast of languages 
And stolen the scraps* 

Those scraps are good deeds past. 7 

We find the rare word graveled in both sets of writings. I can- 
recall only one other instance, in all our literature, where this 
strange word has been employed; that is in John Hay's Banty Tim. 

Bacon says : 

Her Majesty was somewhat graveled upon the offense she took at my speech 
in Parliament. 8 

Shakespeare says : 

O gravel heart. 9 

And when you were graveled for lack of matter, you might take occasion to 
kiss. 10 

The word perturbation was a favorite with both. 

Bacon has: 

The Epicureans placed felicity in serenity of mind and freedom from per- 
turbation } x 

And they be the clouds of error which descend in the storms of passions and 
perturbations } % 

Is it not knowledge that doth alone clear the mind of all perturbations? . . . 
These be the clouds of error that turn into the storms of perturbation.™ 

1 Tempest, v, i. 8 Letter to Lord Burleigh, June, 1595. 

2 Natural History, cent, i, § 46. 9 Measure for Measure, iv, 3. 

3 Letter to Mr. Davis. l0 As You Like It, iv, 1. 

* As You Like It, iii, 2. ll Advancement of Learning, book ii. 

'Letter to Buckingham, Sept. 5, 1621. 12 Ibid., book 1. 

« Love's Labor Lost, v, 1 . ' 3 In Praise ,f Knowledge. 

7 Troilus and Cressida, iii, 3. 


Shakespeare has: 

O polished perturbation ! golden care. 1 
A great perturbation in nature.' 1 
From much grief, from study and perturbation of the brain. 3 

Bacon says : 

She had no props, or supports of her government, but those that were of her own 
making. 4 

Shakespeare says : 

The boy was the very staff of my age, my very prop. 5 

See where his Grace stands 'tween two clergymen. 
Two props of virtue for a Christian prince. 6 

Bacon also says: 

There was also made a shoaring or underpropping act for the benevolence. 7 

Shakespeare says: 

What penny hath Rome borne, 
What men provided, what munition sent, 
To underprop this action ? 8 

Here am I left to underprop his land. 9 

Extirpate occurs but once in the Plays. Prosper says his 
brother proposed " to extirpate me and mine." Bacon uses this then 
unusual word in the same sense: 

But for extirpating of the roots and cause of the like commotions. 10 

Bacon says: 

This depressing of the house of York did rankle and fester the affections of 
his people. 11 

Shakespeare says: 

His venom tooth will rankle to the death. '- 

They fester 'gainst ingratitude. 13 

Bacon says: 

He saith that towards his latter time that closeness did impair and a little 
perish his understanding. 14 

1 2d Henry IV. , iv, 5. 8 Richard III. , iii, 7. ll Ibid . 

" Macbeth, v, 1. 7 History of Henry VII. l2 Richard III., i, 3. 

3 2d Henry IV., i, 2. 8 King John, v, 2. l3 Coriolanus, i, 9. I 

* Felic. Queen Elizabeth. 9 Richard II, ii, 2. 14 Essay Of Friendship. 

5 Merchant 0/ Venice, ii, 2. 10 History of Henry VI F. 


Henry Lewis says: 

The use of the verb thus as transitive is rare. 1 

But rare as it is, we find it in Shakespeare: 

Because thy flinty heart, more hard than they, 
Might in thy palace perish Margaret. 2 

Bacon says: 

I do esteem whatsoever I have or may have in this world but as trash in com- 
parison. 3 

And again: 

It shows he weighs men's minds and not their trash. A 

Shakespeare says: 

Who steals my purse steals trash} 

From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash} 

Bacon speaks of 

A shrunken and wooden posture.' 
Shakespeare speaks of 

The wooden dialogue. 8 

Bacon says: 

Young men puffed up with the glittering show of vanity. 9 

Shakespeare says: 

The sea. puffed up with winds. 10 

The heart, puffed up with-this retinue, doth any deed of courage. 11 

Led by a delicate and tender prince, 
Whose spirit, by divine ambition puffed, 
Makes mouths at the invisible event w 

Bacon says: 

To make hope the antidote of human diseases. 13 

Shakespeare says: 

And with some sweet oblivious antidote 
Cleanse the stuffed bosom. 14 

1 Essay, Bacon, p. 161. " Troilus and Cressida, i, 3. 

2 2d Henry VI., iii, 2. 9 Wisdom of the Ancients — Memnon.. 

3 Letter to the Earl of Salisbury. l0 Taming of the Shrew, i, 2. 

4 Essay Of Goodness. ' 1 2d Henry IV., iv, 3. 

6 Othello, iii, 2. ia Hamlet, iv, 4. 
"fulius Ccesar, iv, 3. 13 Med. Sacra. 

7 Essay Of Boldness. u Macbeth, v, 3. 



Trust not the physician: his antidotes are poisons. 1 

The word was an unusual one, and occurs but twice in the Plays. 

Bacon, in his essay Of Masks, speaking of the decorations of the 
stage, refers to "oes or spangs," meaning, as I should take it, round, 
shining spots or spangles, like eyes, which, " as they are of no great 
cost, so are they of most glory." And in Shakespeare this figure 
repeatedly appears: 

All you fiery oes and eyes of light.' 2 

And he speaks in the prologue to Henry V. of the play-house as 
" this wooden O." 

And he uses the same root in another odd word, ceiliads — 
glances of the eye: 

Judicious ceiliads. 3 

She gave strange ceiliads. 4 

Bacon says: 

Pyonner in the myne of truth." 
A picneer in the mine of truth/ 

Shakespeare says: 

Canst work in the earth so fast; 
A worthy pioneer." 1 

The general camp, pioneers and all. 8 

This rare word occurs but three times in the Plays. 

And in Shakespeare we have, as a parallel to Bacon's " mine of 

truth ": 

O, Antony, thou mine of bounty? 

Bacon speaks of 

Such natural philosophy as shall not vanish in the fume of subtle and delecta- 
ble speculation. 10 

While in Shakespeare we have: 

Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs." 

Bacon says: 

Neither did they observe so much as the half-face of justice, in proceeding by 
indictment. 12 

1 Timon of Athens, iv, 3. 7 Hamlet, i, 5. 

2 Midsummer Nighfs Dream, iii, 2. 8 Othello, iii, 3. 

3 Merry Wives 0/ Windsor, i, 3. 9 A ntony and Cleopatra, iv, 6. 

* Lear, iv, 5. '• Advancement 0/ Learning, book ii. 
5 Prom us, §1395, p. 451. n Borneo and Juliet, i, 1. 

* Letter to Burleigh. ] 2 History 0/ Henry I 'If. 


Shakespeare says: 

Out upon this half-faced fellowship. ' 

This same half-faced fellow, Shadow. 2 

Because he hath a half-face, like my father, 
With that half -face would he have all my land. 3 

They both use another very rare word. 

Bacon says: 

Seditions and wars arise: in the midst of which hurly -bur lies laws are silent. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

When the hurly-burly 's done. 5 
The news of hurly-burly innovation. 6 
This word occurs but twice in the Plays. We will see hereafter 
that the last syllable is the cipher synonym for Burleigh, — the 
Lord Treasurer, — Bacon's uncle. 

Bacon speaks of 

This jumping or flying to generalities. 7 
Shakespeare says: 

We'd jump the life to come. 8 

In some sort it jumps with my humor. 9 

Jumping o'er times, 
Turning the accomplishment of many years 
Into an hour-glass. 10 

We remember the use of a peculiar word in the mouth of 
Othello, when he makes his confession to the Venetian senate: 
Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice. 
We find the same word in Bacon : 

Disgracing your actions, extenuating and blasting of your merit." 

Also : 

How far a defense might extenuate the offense. 15 


In excusing, extenuating or ingenious confession.^ 
It is a favorite word with both; it occurs eight times in the Plays. 

' ist Henry IV., i, 3. 8 Macbeth, i, 7. 

2 2d Henry IV, iii, 2. 9 ist Henry IV., i, 2. 

3 King John, i, 1. ™ Henry /'., i, cho. 

4 Wisdom of the A ncients— Orpheus. u Letter to Essex, Oct. 4, 1596. 
« Macbeth, i, 1. 12 Letter to the Lords. 

6 ist Henry IV., v, 1 . 13 Letter to the King. 

7 Novum Organum. 


We recall another very peculiar word in Lear: 

Oh, how this mother swells up toward my heart. 1 
We turn to Bacon and we read: 
The stench of feathers, or the like, they cure the rising of the mother.* 

In Bacon we find : 

The skirts of my living in Hertfordshire. 3 
In Shakespeare: 

Here, in the skirts of the forest. 4 

The skirts of this wild wood. 5 

Young Fortinbras 
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there, 
Sharked up a list of landless resolutes. 6 

Bacon says: 

Folds and knots of nature. 7 

Shakespeare says : 

This knot intrinsicate of life untie. 8 
Motives, those strong knots of love. 9 
This knot of amity. 10 

Bacon says: 

Then there budded forth some probable hopes of succession. 11 

Shakespeare says: 

This is the state of man : to-day he puts forth 
The tender leaves of hope; to-morrow blossoms. 12 


And again: 


Buckingham. Every man, 

. . . Not consulting, broke 

Into a general prophecy, that this tempest, 

Dashing the garment of this peace, aboded 

The sudden breach on't. 

Norfolk. Which is budded out. Vi 

And after he had not a little bemoaned himself. 1 

1 Lear, ii, 4. 8 A ntony and Cleopatra, v, 2. 

■2 Natural History, cent, i, § 63. » Macbeth, iv, 3. 

3 Letter to Robert Cecil, 1603. 10 1st Henry VI. 

4 As You Like It, iii, 2. u Felic. Queen Elizabeth. 

5 Ibid., v, 4. 12 Henry VIII., iii, 2. 
•HamletiUx. 13 Ibid., i, 1. 

7 Preface to Great Instauration. 14 History of Henry VII. 



I all alone bemoan my outcast state. 1 

He so bemoaned his son. 2 

This word occurs only twice in the Plays. 

Bacon speaks of 

The meeting-point and rendezvous of all my thoughts. 3 

Shakespeare has: 

A comfort of retirement lives in this, 
A rendezvous, a home to fly unto. 4 
And again: 

And when I cannot live any longer I will do as I may; that is my rest, that is 
the rendezvous of it. 5 

Bacon speaks of 

A compacted strength. 6 
Shakespeare says: 

Of imagination all compact? 

My heart is now compact of flint. 8 

Bacon says: 

Suspicions that the mind itself gathers are but buzzes? 

Shakespeare says: 

Each buz, each fancy, each complaint. 10 

I hear a buzzing of a separation. 11 


There is a lively, jocund, and, as I may say, a dancing age. 12 

The jocund day 
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain top. 13 

The quotation from Bacon gives us the complete image that 
was in the mind of the poet: — the dawn was dancing on the moun- 
tain top. 

Bacon says: 

For it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say, to jade anything too far, 14 

1 Sonnet, 8 Titus A ndronicus, v, 3. 

2 3d Henry VI., ii, 5. 9 Essay Of Suspicion. 

3 Letter to Lord Burleigh, 1580. ™ Lear, i, 4. 

* 1st Henry IV., iv, 1. •' Henry VIII., ii, 1. 

6 Henry V., ii, 1. 12 Wisdom of the A ncients — Pan. 

* Advancement of Learning, book ii. >• Romeo and Juliet, iii, 5. 

7 Midsummer Nighfs Dream, v, 1. ' 4 Essay Of Discourse. 


Shakespeare says: 

To let imagination jade me. 1 

Speaking of a young man overthrown and dying, Bacon says: 
The flower of virtue cropped with sudden chance.'- 2 

Shakespeare speaks of 

A fresh, xxneropped flower? 

Comparing her son to the violets that "strew the green lap of 
the spring," the Duchess says to him: 

Well, bear you well in this new spring of time, 
Lest you be cropped before you come to prime. 4 

Speaking of the history of an event, Bacon says: 

The King hath so muffled it." 
Shakespeare says: 

Muffle your false love. 6 

Love whose view is muffled still. 1 

Bacon says: 

The King resolved to make this business of Naples as a wrench and means of 
peace. 8 

Shakespeare says: 

A noble nature 
May catch a wrench. 91 

Wrenching the true cause the false way. 10 

Bacon says: 

The corruption and ambition of the times d'\d prick him forward. 11 
Our fear of Spain, which hath been the spur to this rigor. 1 ' 2 
Shakespeare says: 

I have no spur 
To prick the sides of my intent. 1 " 

My duty pricks me on. 14 

Honor pricks me on. Yea. but how if honor prick me off when I come on. 15 

1 Twelfth Night, ii, 5. ft Timon of Athens, ii, 2. 

2 Wisdotn of the Ancients — Memnon. 10 2d Henry II'., ii, 1. 

3 A Ws U 'ell that Ends Well, v, 3. il Character offulins Cetsar. 

4 Richard II., v, 1. 12 Felic. Queen Elizabeth. 

5 History of Henry VII. ■ 3 Macbeth, i, 7. 

6 Comedy of Errors, ii, 2. 14 Two Gentlemen of Verona, iii, 1. 

7 Romeo andfuliet, i, 1. 15 1st Henry IV., v, 1. 

8 History of Henry VII, 

4 6o PA RA L LEU SMS. 

Falstaff complains on the battle-field that his bowels are "as 
hot as molten lead." Bacon, speaking of the horror of Essex when 
he found that the city would not sustain his attempted insurrec- 
tion, graphically says: 

So, as being extremely appalled, as divers that happened to see him then 
might visibly perceive in his face and countenance, and almost molten with sweat, 
though without any cause of bodily labor, but only by the perplexity and horror of 
his mind. 1 

What a dramatical command of language does this sentence 


While my book is being printed, Mr. J. G. Bronson, of Chicago, 
calls my attention to the following parallelism. 

In a letter of "Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary, to Monsieur 

Critoy, Secretary of France," said by Mr. Spedding to have been 

written by Bacon, we find: 

But contrariwise her Majesty, not liking to make windows into men s hearts and 
secret thoughts, except the abundance of them did overflow into overt and express 
acts or affirmations, etc. 

While in the Shakespeare sonnets we have this precisely parallel 


For through the painter must you see his skill, 
To find where your true image pictur'd lies, 
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still, 

That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes. 
Now, see what good turns eyes for eyes have done: 

Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me 
Are windows to my breast, wherethrough the sun 
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee: 

Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art; 
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.'- 

Here we have not only the same thought, but the same conclu- 
sion: that the heart can only be read by its acts. 

Bacon says: 

And there used to shuffle up a summary proceeding, by examination. 3 

Whatsoever singularity, chance and the shuffle of things has produced. 4 

Shakespeare says: 

I am fain to shuffle, to hedge and to lurch. 5 

'Tis not so above: 
There is no shuffling.''' 

1 A Declaration of the Treasons. ' Gesta Grayorum — Life and Works, vol. i, p. 335. 

2 Sonnet xxiv. * Merry Wives 0/ Windsor, ii, 2. 
:i History of Henry VII. ,! Hamlet, iii, 3. 


Your life, good master, 
Must shuffle for itself. 1 

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil. 2 

Shuffle her away. 3 

And here, as illustrating the scholarly acquirements of the 
writer of the Plays, and his tendency to enrich the English language 
by the creation of new words> I would refer to two instances, 
which, — although I have observed no parallels for them in Bacon's 
writings, — are curious enough to be noted here: 

Dost thou infamonize me among potentates. 4 
As he had been incorpscd and demi-natured* 

And here we have a very unusual word used by both — used 

only once, I think, by either of them. 


To win fame and to eternize your name. 6 


Eternized in all ages. 7 


The vain and indign comprehensions of heresy. 8 


All indign and base adversities. 9 

I could give many more instances of this use in the two bodies 
of writings of the same quaint and unusual words, did I not fear to 
offend the patience of the reader and extend this book beyond all 
reasonable proportions. 

I regret that I am not where I could have access to authorities 
which would show how many of these strange words appeared for 
the first time, in the history of our language, in the Bacon and 
Shakespeare writings. But this will constitute a work for scholars 

1 Cymbeline, v, 5. 8 Gesta Grayorunt — Life and Works, vol. i, 

2 Hamlet, iii, 1. p. 336. 

3 Merry Wives of Windsor, ii, 2. T 2d Henry VI., v, 3. 

4 Love's Labor Lost, v, 2. 8 Letter to the King, 1612. 
6 Hamlet, iv, 7. * Othello, i, 3. 

wo. Of 



I saw Othello's visage in his mind. 

Othello, /, .?. 

CHARACTER, after all, constitutes the man. I do not mean 
thereby reputation, — for that concerns the opinions of others, 
and they may or may not be deserved; but those infinite shades of 
disposition which separate one man from all other men. And as 
there were never in the world two men who possessed heads of 
precisely the same shape, so there cannot be two men having pre- 
cisely the same character. The Creator has a thousand elements 
which go to make man, and he never puts all of them in any one 
man; nor does he ever mix a part of them, in his alembic, in the 
same proportions, for any two men. " In the catalogue we all go 
for men." Anything, with the human osseous system and flesh on 
it, is, perforce, a man; but the difference between one man and 
another may be as wide as that between the primordial cell and 
the regenerated soul. 

The writer of the Plays had thought this thought, as he seems 
to have thought all other thoughts, and he exclaims: 
Oh, the difference of man and man ! ' 

When we seek, however, to institute a comparison between 
Francis Bacon and the writer of the Plays, we are met by this 
difficulty: We know, accurately enough, what was the character 
of Francis Bacon — his life reveals it; — but if we turn to the author 
of certain dramatic compositions, we are at a loss to know when 
the man himself speaks and when the character he has created 
speaks. We are more apt to see the inner nature of the writer in 
the general frame, moral and purpose of the piece, and in those 
utterances which burst from him unawares, and which have no 
necessary connection with the plot or the characters of the play, 
than in the acts performed in the course of the drama, or in the 

1 Lear, iv, 2. 



sentiments put into the mouths of the men who perform them, and 
which are parts of the acts and parcel of the plots. 

But, notwithstanding these difficulties, we can perceive clearly 
enough that the writer of the Plays possessed essentially the same 
traits of character which we know to have belonged to Francis 

The reader has seen already that both personages, if we may 
call them such, possessed the philosophical and poetical cast of 
mind; that they were persons of unequaled genius, command of 
language, elevation of mind and loftiness of moral purpose. Let 
us go a step farther. 

I. Industry. 

I have shown on page 92, ante, that the writer of the Plays was 
a man of vast industry, and that he elaborated his work with the 
utmost skill and pains. Knight says: 

The whole of this scene, 1 in the Folio, exhibits the greatest care in remodeling 
the text of the quarto. 

But let us turn to another play. 

A comparison of that part of the text of The Merry Wives of 
Windsor which embraces the scene at Hemes' oak, in the edition of 
1602, with the text of the Folio of 1623, will show how elaborately 
the writer revised and improved his text. I place the new parts of 
the Folio in italics, and where it repeats the words of the edition 
of 1602 they are given in quotation marks. In this way the changes 
are made more conspicuous. 

In the edition of 1602 we have: 

Quickly. You fairies that do haunt these shady groves, 
Look round about the woods if you espy 
A mortal that doth haunt our sacred round: 
If such a one you can espy, give him his due, 
And leave not till you pinch him black and blue. 
Give them their charge, Puck, ere they part away. 

In the Folio of 1623 we have this thus amplified: 

Quickly. " Fairies," black, gray, green and white ; 
You moonshine revelers and shades of night, 
You orphan heirs of fixed destiny, 
Attend your office and your quality. 
Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes. 

1 Henry V., ii, 1. 


Here there is only one word — fairies — repeated from the par- 
allel passage in the edition of 1602. 
The 1602 version continues: 

Sir Hugh. Come hither, Pead, go to the country houses, 
And when you find a slut that lies asleep, 
And all her dishes foul and room unswept, 
" With your long nails pinch her till she cry 
And swear to mend her sluttish housewifery. 

In the Folio this speech is put in the mouth of Pistol, but 

greatly changed in language: 

Pistol. Elves, list your names; silence, you airy toys. 

Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap: 

Where fires thou find' st utiraked, and hearths "unswept," 

There " pinch " the maids as blue as bilberry: 

Our radiant queen hates "sluts " and sluttery. 

Here there are but three words that occur in the edition of 1602. 

In the 1602 copy there is added after this speech: 

Fairy. I warrant you I will perform your will. 

This line is lacking in the Folio, and instead of it Falstaff says:. 

They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die: 
I'll wink and couch: no man their works must eye. 

The 1602 edition gives the next speech as follows: 

Sir Hugh. Where is Pead ? Go you and see where brokers sleep, 

And fox-eyed Serjeants, with their mace, 

Go lay the proctors in the street, 

And pinch the lousy Serjeant's face: 

Spare none of these when they are a-bed, 

But such whose nose looks plue and red. 

In the Folio we have this speech rendered as follows: 

Evans. " Where's Bead ? Go you, and " where you find a maid, 

That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayer's said, 

Rein up the organs of her fantasy, 

Sleep she as sound as careless infancy; 

But those as " sleep " and think not on their sins, 

" Pinch" them, arms, leks, backs, shoulders, sides and shins. 

But I have given enough to prove that the play, as it appears in 

the Folio of 1623, was practically re-written, and I might add that 

in every case the changes were for the better. For instance, in the 

1602 edition we have: 

Go straight, and do as I command, 
And take a taper in your hand, 
And set it to his finger ends, 
And if you see it him offends, 


And that he starteth at the flame, 
Then he is mortal, know his name; 
If with an F it doth begin, 
Why, then, be sure, he's full of sin. 

This doggerel is transformed in the Folio into the following: 

With trial-fire touch me his finger end: 
If he be chaste, the flame will back descend 
And turn him to no pain; but if he start, 
It is the flesh of a corrupted heart. 

Speaking of King Henry V. } Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives 

of Windsor and Hamlet, Swinburne says: 

Of these four plays the two tragedies at least were thoroughly re-cast and re- 
written from end to end. the pirated editions giving us a transcript, more or less per- 
fect or imperfect, accurate or corrupt, of the text as it first came from the poet's 
hand, a text to be afterwards indefinitely modified and incalculably improved. . . . But 
Xing Henry V., we may fairly say, is hardly less than transformed. Not that ithas 
been re-cast after the fashion of Hamlet, or even re-written after the fashion of 
Romeo and Juliet; but the corruptions and imperfections of the pirated text are 
here more flagrant than in any other instance, while the general revision of style, 
by which it is at once purified and fortified, extends to every nook and corner of 
the restored and renovated building. Even had we, however, a perfect and trust- 
worthy transcript of Shakespeare's original sketch for this play, there can be little 
doubt that the rough draft would still prove almost as different from the final 
masterpiece as is the soiled and ragged canvas now before us, on which we trace 
the outline of figures so strangely disfigured, made subject to such rude extremities 
of defacement and defeature. 1 

Is it reasonable to suppose that the author who took such pains to 
perfect his work would have made no provision for its preservation, 
but would die and leave one-half of the great Plays in manuscript ? 

He knew that the work of his youth was not equal to the work 

of his manhood, and he labored conscientiously to improve his 

crude designs. Dowden says: 

It is the opinion of Dyce, of Grant White and of others that Shakespeare began 
to work upon Romeo and Juliet not later than about 1591, that is, almost at the 
moment when he began to write for the stage, and, that having occupied him for 
a series of years, the tragedy assumed its present form about 1595-7. If this be the 
case, and if, as there is reason to believe, Shakespeare was also during many years 
interested in the subject of Hamlet, we discover that he accepted the knowledge 
that his powers were undeveloped and acted upon it, and waited until he believed 
himself competent to do justice to his conceptions. 2 

De Quincey says of the Plays: 

The further on we press in our discoveries, the more we shall see proofs of 
design and self-supporting arrangement, where the careless eye has seen nothing 
but accident. 

1 A Study of Shak., p. 104. 2 Dowden, Shak. Mind and Art, p. 51. 


Swinburne illustrates this question of the industry of Shake- 
speare by the following excellent remarks: 

That priceless waif of piratical salvage, which we owe to the happy rapacity of 
a hungry publisher, is, of course, more accurately definable as the first play of 
Hamlet than as the first edition of the play. . . . The deeper complexities of the 
subject are merely indicated; simple and trenchant outlines of character are yet to 
be supplanted by features of subtler suggestion and infinite interfusion. Hamlet 
himself is almost more of a satirist than a philosopher. . . . The Queen, whose 
finished figure is now something of a riddle, stands out simply enough in the first 
sketch as confidant of Horatio, if not as accomplice of Hamlet. . . . This minor 
transformation of style in the inner play, made solely with the evident view of 
marking the distinction between its duly artificial forms of speech and the natural 
forms of speech passing between the spectators, is but one among innumerable 
indications, which only a purblind perversity of prepossession can overlook, of the 
especial store set by Shakespeare himself on this favorite work; and the excep- 
tional pains taken by him to preserve it for aftertime in such fullness of finished 
form as might make it worthiest of profound and perpetual study by the light of far 
other lamps than illuminate the stage. 

Of all vulgar errors, the most wanton, the most willful, and the most resolutely 
tenacious of life, is that belief bequeathed from the days of Pope, in which it was 
pardonable, to the days of Mr. Carlyle, in which it is not excusable, to the effect 
that Shakespeare threw off Hamlet as an eagle may moult a feather or a fool may 
break a jest; that he dropped his work as a bird may drop an egg, or a sophist a 
fallacy; that he wrote "for gain, not glory," or that, having written Hamlet, he 
thought it nothing very wonderful to have written. For himself to have written, 
he possibly, nay, probably, did not think it anything miraculous; but that he was 
in the fullest degree conscious of its wonderful positive worth to all men for all 
time, we have the best evidence possible — his own; and that not by mere word of 
mouth, but by actual stroke of hand. . . . Scene by scene, line for line, stroke 
upon stroke and touch after touch, he went over all the old labored ground again; 
and not only to insure success in his own day, and fill his pockets with contem- 
porary pence, but merely and wholly with a purpose to make it worthy of himself 
and his future students. . . . 

Every change in the text of Hamlet has impaired its fitness for the stage, and 
increased its value for the closet, in exact and perfect proportion. . . . Even in 
Shakespeare's time the actors threw out his additions; they throw out these very 
same additions in our time. The one especial speech, if any one such 
especial speech there be, in which the personal genius of Shakespeare soars 
up to the very highest of its height, and strikes down to the very deepest of 
its depth, is passed over by modern actors; it was cut away by Heminge and 
Condell. 1 

It seems to me that in the face of these facts there can be no 
question that the writer of the Plays was a man of intense and 
enormous industry. 

We turn to Francis Bacon, and we find, as I have suggested 
heretofore, that he was, perhaps, the most laborious man that ever 
lived on the planet. Church says of him: 

1 Swinburne-, . / Study of Shak., p. 164. 


In all these things he was as industrious, as laborious, as calmly per- 
severing and tenacious as he was in his pursuit of his philosophical specula- 
tions. 1 

He re-wrote the Essays, we are told, thirty times. His chaplain 
tells us that he had " twelve times transcribed the Novum Organum 
with his own hand." 

Bacon himself says: 

My great work goeth forward, and, after my manner, I alter even when I add, 
so that nothing is finished until all is finished. 2 

Bacon's P ramus of Formularies and Elegancies takes us into the 
workshop of the great artist. There we see him with his blouse on, 
among his pots and brushes. We see him studying the quality of 
his canvas and grinding his own paints. These daubs upon the 
wall are part of his experiments in the contrasts of colors; these 
rude lines, traced here and there, with charcoal or chalk, are his 
tirst crude conceptions of figures and faces and attitudes which are 
to reappear hereafter, perfected in his immortal works. 

Here we can trace the genesis of thought, the pedigree of ideas, 
the ancestry of expressions. We look around us and realize that 
genius is neither more nor less than great powers conjoined with 
extraordinary industry. 

It is better, for humanity's future, that the statue at Stratford- 
upon-Avon should be taken down from its pedestal. It represents a 
fraud and a delusion: — a fraud in authorship, and a delusion in 
philosophy, still more destructive, to-wit: that ignorance, idleness 
and dissipation can achieve results which mankind will worship 
through all ages; that anything worth having can come out of 

For, in truth, the universe is industry. We are appalled when 
we think of the intense, persistent, laborious, incalculable, awful 
force, constantly exerted, to keep the vast whole in motion — 
from the suns to the bacilli. God might be fitly described as the 
Great Worker: — a worker without a task-master — who never 
pauses, never wearies, and never sleeps. 

No man should shrink from labor. Energy is God's glorious 
stamp set on his creatures. He who has it not is a drone in the 
hive, and unworthy the notice of his Great Master. And it has 

3 Bacon, p. 57. 2 Letter to Tobie Matthew, 1610. 


been a shameful and poisonous thing, to the human mind, that all 
these hundreds of years the world has been taught that the most 
marvelous of human works were produced by accident, without 
effort, by a slouching, shiftless, lazy, indifferent creature, who had 
not even force enough to provide for their perpetuation. 

Let it be known hereafter, and for all time to come, that the 
greatest of men was the most industrious of men. 

The notes in the Promus show that Bacon was studying the 
elegancies, the niceties of language, especially of colloquial expres- 
sion, noting down not only thoughts, but peculiar and strong 
phrases and odd and forcible words. And surely there was no 
necessity for all this in his philosophical works. He makes a study 
not only of courteous salutations, but of the continuances of speech. 
Take, for instance: 

It is like, sir, etc., (putting a man agayne into his tale interrupted). 1 


The rather bycause (contynuing another's speech).' 2 


To the end, saving that, whereas, yet, (contynuances of all kynds). 3 

Would one who contemplated works of philosophy alone, which 
were to be translated into the Latin language, for the use of pos- 
terity, devote such study to the refinements of dialogue ? And 
where do we find any of these elegancies of speech in Bacon's 
acknowledged writings ? 


Both writers possessed that characteristic habit of studious and 
industrious men, the noting down of thoughts and quotations in 
commonplace-books. The Promus is one of these. Bacon repeat- 
edly recommends the use of such helps to composition. He says: 

I hold the entry of commonplaces to be a matter of great use and essence in 
studying, as that which assureth " copia " of invention and contracteth judgment 
to a strength. 4 

And again — discussing how to "procure the ready use of 
knowledge" — he says: 

1 Promus, § 1385, p. 449. 8 Ibid., § 1379, p. 447. 

2 Ibid., § 1378, p. 447. * Advancement of Learning, book ii. 


The other part of invention, which I term suggestion, doth assign and direct 
us to certain marks or places, which may excite our mind to return and pro- 
duce such knowledge as it hath formerly collected, to the end we may make 
use thereof. 1 

And again he says: 

It is of great service in studies to bestow diligence in setting down common- 
places. 2 

On the other hand, we turn to the writer of the Plays, and we 
find him, as I have shown on page 78, ante, recommending the use 
of commonplace-books in very much the same language. He says, 
in the 76th sonnet: 

Look, what thy memory cannot contain 
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find 
These children nursed, delivered of thy brain, 
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind. 

This is in the very spirit of Bacon's 

Certain marks or places, which may excite our mind to return and produce 
such knowledge as it hath formerly collected. 

And we think we can see the personal habits of the writer of 
the Plays reflected in the words of his alter ego, Hamlet: 

My tables: — meet it is I set it down, 

That one may smile and smile and be a villain. 3 

And again, in The Merry Wives : 

I will make a brief of it in my note-book. 4 

III. A Thorough Student. 

Not only was the writer of the Plays, like Francis Bacon, vastly 
industrious, but it was the industry of a scholar: he was a student. 
He combined a life of retirement and contemplation with knowl- 
edge of affairs, as Bacon did. He realized Goethe's axiom : 

Es bildet ein 'Talent sic// in der Slille, 
Sick ein Ckarakter in dent Strom der Welt. 

The early plays all bespeak the student; they breathe the atmos- 
phere of the university. 
Proteus complains: 

Thou, Julia, hast metamorphosed me; 
Made me neglect my studies, lose my time. 

1 Advancement of Learning, book ii. * Hamlet, i, 5. 

2 Ibid. ' Merry Wi^es of Windsor, i, 1. 


Love's Labor Lost is full of allusions to studies: 

Biron. What is the end of study ? 

King. Why, that to know which else we should not know. 

Biron. Things hid and barred, you mean, from common sense? 

King. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense. 1 

And, like Bacon, the writer of the Plays believed that books 
were a means, not an end; and that original thought was a thou- 
sand times to be preferred to the repetition of the ideas of other 
men. He says: 

Study is like the heavens' glorious sun, 

That will not be deep-searched with saucy looks; 

Small have continual plodders ever won, 
Save base authority, from others' books. 2 

We seem to hear in this the voice of Bacon. In his essay Of 
Studies he says: 

To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for orna- 
ment, is affectation; to make judgment zvholly by their rules, is the humor of a 

And how Baconian are these utterances: 

Mi perdonate, gentle master mine, 

lam in all affected as yourself; 

Glad that you thus continue your resolve, 

To suck the S7veels of sweet philosophy. 

Only, good master, while we do admire 

This virtue, and this moral discipline, 

Let's be no stoicks, nor no stocks, I pray. 

Or so devote to Aristotle' s checks, 

As Ovid be an outcast quite abjured: 

Balk logic with acquaintance that you have, 

And practice rhetoric with your common talk: 

Music and poetry use to quicken you; 

The mathematics, and the metaphysics, 

Fall to them, as you find your stomach serves you: 

No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en; 

In short, sir, study what you most affect. 3 

Here we find allusions to Bacon's love of philosophy, his dis- 
like for Aristotle, his contempt for logic, and his studies of music 
and poetry. And we note, also, the didactic and educational tone 
of the essay, natural to the man who was always laboring to 
instruct and improve his fellow-men. 

1 Love's Labor Lost. i. i . 2 Ibid. s Tamingof the Shrew, i, i. 



IV. His Wisdom. 

We know it is conceded that Bacon was the wisest man of his 

time, or of all time. And wisdom is not knowledge merely of 

things. It means an accurate acquaintance with the springs of 

human nature, and a capacity to adapt actions to events. And the 

same trait has been many times noted in the writer of the Plays. 

Henry Hallam says: 

The philosophy of Shakespeare — his intimate searching out of the human 
heart, whether in the gnomic form of sentence or in the dramatic exhibition of 
character — is a gift peculiarly his own. 

Henry Giles says of Shakespeare's genius: 

It has the power of practical intellect. Under a careless guise it implies 
serious judgment, and in the vesture of motley it pronounces many a recondite 
decision. . . . Out from its mockeries and waggeries there could be collected a 
philosophy of common sense by which the gravest might be instructed. 

I have already quoted (page 150, ante) the expression of Emer- 
son, applied to Shakespeare: 

He was inconceivably wise; the others conceivably. 
And of Landor: 

The wisest of men, as well as the greatest of poets. 

V. The Universality of his Mind. 

We know that Bacon's mind ranged through all created nature, 
and his learning levied tribute on everything underneath the sun. 
He had "taken all knowledge for his province." 

Osborne, a contemporary, called Bacon 

The most universal genius I have ever seen or was like to sec 

While, on the other hand, De Quincey says : 

Shakespeare thought more finely and more extensively than all the other poets 

Professor Dowden says of Shakespeare : 

This vast and varied mass of information he assimilated and made his own. 
... He was a center for the drifting capital of knowledge. His whole power of 
thought increased steadily as the years went by, both in sure grasp of the known 
and in brooding intensity of gaze upon the unknown. 1 

And the same writer continues: 

Now, what does extraordinary growth imply ? It implies capacity for obtain- 
ing the materials of growth; in this case materials for the growth of intellect, of 
imagination, of the will, of the emotions. It means, therefore, capacity for seeing 

1 Shak. Mind and Art, p. 39. 


many facts, of meditating, of feeling deeply, and of controlling such feeling. . . . 
It implies a power in the organism to fit its movements to meet numerous external 
coexistences and sequences. In a word, it brings us back once again to Shake- 
speare's resolute fidelity to the fact} 

And surely "resolute fidelity to the fact" was the distinguishing 
trait of Bacon's philosophy. 

VI. Powers of Observation. 
Macaulay says of Bacon : 


In keenness of observation he has been equaled, though perhaps never sur- 
passed. But the largeness of his mind was all his own.' 2 

And the great Scotsman makes this fine comparison touching 
Bacon's mind: 

With great minuteness of observation he had an amplitude of comprehension, 
such as has never yet been vouchsafed to any other person. The small, fine mind 
of Labruyere had not a more delicate tact than the large intellect of Bacon. . . . 
His understanding resembled the tent which the fairy Parabanon gave to Prince 
Ahmed. Fold it, and it seemed a toy for the hand of a lady; spread it, and the 
armies of powerful sultans might repose beneath its shade. 3 

While, on the other hand, Sir William Hamilton calls Shake- 

The greatest known observer of human nature. 

And Richard Grant White calls him 

The most observant of men. 

VII. His Secretiveness. 

We have seen Bacon admitting that he was "a concealed poet." 

Spedding concedes that a letter written in the name of the Earl 
of Essex to Sir Foulke Greville, about the year 1596, was written 
by Bacon.' 

There has been attributed to Bacon a work called An Historical 
Account of the Alienation Office, published in 1590, in the name of 
William Lambarde. 

Spedding finds 5 that the letters which purported to have been 
written by the Earl of Essex to the Earl of Rutland, who was about 
to travel on the continent, containing advice as to his course of 
studies, were unquestionably the work of Bacon. 

1 Shak. Mind and Art, p. 41. * See vol. 2, Life and Works, p. 21. 

2 Macaulay's Essays Bacon, \ ■> Letters and Life of Bacon, vol. ii, p. 5. 

3 Ibid. 


Mr. Spedding says: 

At another time he [Bacon] tries to disguise himself under a style of 
assumed superiority, quite unlike his natural style; as in the Tetnporis Partus 
Mas cuius, where again the very same argument is set forth in a spirit of scornful 
invective, poured out upon all the popular reputations in the annals of philosophy. 1 

We have seen him writing letters to Essex as from his brother 
Anthony, in which Anthony is made to refer back to himself, and 
then writing a reply from Essex, the whole to be shown to the 

We have seen Ben Jonson alluding to him in some birthday 


As if a mystery thou didst. 

And in all this we see the man who under a mask could put forth 
the Plays to the world; and who, inside the Plays, could, in turn, 
conceal a cipher. 

VIII. Splendid Tastes. 
Emerson says of Shakespeare: 

What trait of his private mind has he hidden in his dramas ? One can discern 
in his ample pictures of the gentleman and the king what forms and humanities 
pleased him; his delight in troops of friends, in large hospitality, in cheerful 
giving. Let Timon, let Warwick, let Antonio the merchant, answer for his great 

When we read this the magnificence of Bacon occurs to our 
remembrance — his splendid marriage, his princely residence at 
St. Albans, his noble presents. 

Hepworth Dixon thus describes his wedding: 

Feathers and lace light up the rooms in the Strand. Cecil has been warmly 
urged to come over from Salisbury House. Three of his gentlemen, Sir Walter 
Cope, Sir Baptist Hicks and Sir Hugh Beeston, hard drinkers and men about 
town, strut over in his stead, flaunting in their swords and plumes; yet the prodigal 
bridegroom, sumptuous in his tastes as in his genius, clad in a suit of Genoese 
velvet, purple from cap to shoe, outbraves them all. The bride, too, is richly 
dight, her whole dowry seeming to be piled up on her in cloth of silver and orna- 
ments of gold. 2 

The author of Aulicus Coquinaria, speaking of Bacon after his 

downfall, says: 

And let me give this light to his better character, from an observation of the 
late King, then Prince. Returning from hunting, he espied a coach attended with 
a goodly troop of horsemen, who, it seems, were gathered together to wait upon 
the Chancellor to his house at Gorhambury, at the time of his declension. At 

1 Preface- t!> part i:i. vol. iii. Works, p. 171. ' 2 Personal History 0/ Lord Bacon, p. 181. 


which the Prince smiled: "Well, do we what we can,'' said he, "this man scorns 
to go out like a snuff." 

Nay, master King! And he will not go out like a snuff; — not 
till the civilization of the world is snuffed out. And the time will 
come when even thou, — O King, — wilt be remembered simply 
because thou didst live in the same age with him. 

IX. His Splendid Egotism. 

There was about Bacon a magnificent self-assertion. 
Dean Church says: 

He [Bacon] never affected to conceal from himself his superiority to o