Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Essays - Bacon-Shakespeare

"THERE are certain traditions," says the redoubtable critic, John Churton Collins, one of the most violent we may say virulent of the orthodox Shakespeareans, "there are certain traditions which the world appears to have made up its mind to accept without inquiry. Their source or sources may be suspicious, their intrinsic improbability may be great, but no one dreams of seriously questioning them. Whatever else becomes the subject of dispute, of doubt, or of dissent, a strange superstition seems to exempt them even from debate."

We agree most fully with this statement of our modern Aristarchus, only we would apply it differently. He applies it to the traditional belief in Shakespeare's lack of classical culture, while in our opinion it applies much more reasonably, we submit, to the traditional belief in Shakespeare's authorship of the Plays that pass under his name.

Mr. Collins exerts himself through three elaborate essays (just published in book form, 1904), to prove Shakespeare's perfect literary command of the Latin classics, with more than a probability that he also read Greek at first hand; not a pedant, like Ben Jonson, but read them with ease, as a gentleman should, with his feet on the fender. Yet this is the same Mr. Collins who, in his review of "Lee's Life of Shakespeare," published a few years ago, could deliver himself in the following terms:

"Shakespeare's life between birth, 1564, and the publication of Venus and Adonis (1593) is an absolute blank. That he was educated at Stratford grammar school is pure assumption. We know nothing of his life in London or of the date of his arrival there, of the date of his return to Stratford, of his habits, of his last days, of the cause of his death. Not a single letter of his (assuming he could write a letter) has been preserved; not a single sentence that ever fell from his lips has been authentically recorded. At least one-half of the alleged facts of his most conservative biography (Lee's) is as purely apocryphal as the Life of Homer, attributed to Herodotus."

Verily, we may say with Professor Brandes, "When we pass to the consideration of Shakespeare all our ordinary critical methods leave us in the lurch."

Doubt as to the identity of the author of the Shakespeare Plays is by no means of so recent origin as commonly supposed. With many the controversy is supposed to have begun* so late as January, 1856, by the publication in Putnam's Magazine of the memorable article by Miss Delia Bacon; but as matter of fact Prior's "Life of Malone," page 48, shows that the "anti-Shakespearean authorship theory" was strictly maintained in and about the year 1780.

We propose to throw together by way of introduction a few data selected from the huge mass that makes up the general literary or historical argument going to show the improbability of the Stratford Player's authorship and the probability of the Baconian authorship of the immortal Plays. The authorities selected from are chiefly the works of Sidney Laz-Levi Lee, George Brandes, W. H. Edwards, Hallowell Phillipps, and especially Judge Webb, Professor of Laws, Dublin University, and Mr. Edwin Reed, Andover, Massachusetts.

The author of the Shakespeare Plays was a linguist, a classical scholar, a jurist with a fondness for legal and technical terms and phrases, a philosopher, a scientist, a naturalist, and of course a poet. Bacon was a master of all these subjects.

Shelley: "Lord Bacon was a poet."

Macaulay: "The poetic faculty was powerful in Bacon's mind."

Blackie: "Another virtue of the Essays: poetical imagination.

His similes are of a kind of which Shakespeare, Goethe and Richter might have been proud."

Compare Milton's translation of Psalm vii:

"Lord, my God, to Thee I fly;
Save me and secure me under
Thy protection while I cry,
Lest as the Lion (and no wonder)
He haste to tear my soul asunder
Fearing, and no rescue nigh.

His armies purposely made he
For them that persecute. Behold,
He travails big with vanity:
Trouble he hath conceived of old
As in a womb, and from that womb
Hath at length brought forth a lie."

With Bacon's translation of a verse from Psalm xc:

"Teach us, 0 Lord, to number well our days,
Thereby our hearts to wisdom to apply;
For that which guides man best in all his ways
Is meditation of mortality.
This bubble light this vapor of our breath,
Teach us to consecrate to hour of Death."

His prose betrays a cast of mind distinctly and powerfully poetic. To cite a few judges:

Charles Knight: "That high poetical spirit which gleams out at every page of his philosophy."

Spedding: "The truth is that Bacon was not without the fine frenzy of the poet. Had his genius taken the ordinary direction, I have no doubt that it would have carried him to a place among the great poets."

Shakespeare was the uneducated son of parents who could not write their own names, a man who married an illiterate woman, a man who never taught his own children how to write, a man who lived in a squalid town where there were no books and where half the aldermen and burgesses had to make a cross for their signatures, a man whose own handwriting was illegible, the only five known signatures showing that he spelt his name five different ways, including two different ways in the course of one day.

Shakespeare lived in London about twenty-five years, returned to Stratford with a fortune in the prime of life, never wrote another line, never referred to his literary works, was unknown among his townsmen as a scholar or author, engaged in money-lending and harsh litigation, possessed no library whatever, was noted for being against the people in their desires to obtain con-cessions of pasture-land from the authorities; married one daughter to a quack doctor who was expelled from the corporation, and who prescribed worms and snails and goose-excrements for various diseases; married his second daughter (without a license) to a liquor dealer who was fined for profanity and tippling.

Shakespeare died, and gave not the slightest hint of the existence of literary works in his will, though he bequeathed 215. 8d. each to Heminge and Condell, whose names appear as Editors in the 1623 Edition of the Plays.

Mr. Reed enumerates one hundred and twenty-seven contemporary references to Shakespeare. Of these one hundred and twenty are to the author, seven only to the man, the Stratford Player. Of these seven, one calls him an idiot, another an ape, another a Jack of all trades, another a sensualist, another refers to his wealth, another calls him a pirate, and the last an impostor.

Bacon dared not reveal himself as a playwright, even if he was one for social and professional reasons. Why should he make a mystery of or conceal his authorship of the plays, if really the author? A valid answer would be, because it would have been at once and immediately destructive of his aim to rise high in the legal profession and at court.

In this connection it is interesting to read in Lockhart's "Life of Scott," * a letter to J. B. S. Morritt, July 24, 1814:

"I shall not own Waverly; my chief reason is that it would deprive me of the pleasure of writing again. I am not sure it would be considered quite decorous for me as a Clerk of Sessions to write novels. Judges being monks, clerks are a sort of lay brethren from whom some solemnity of walk and conduct may be expected. So whatever I may do of this kind, `I shall whistle it down the wind and let it prey at fortune." ("Othello," Act 3, Scene 3.)

I shall point later to a far more serious reason, if the typo-graphical cipher can be accepted.

Bacon's love for the stage was well known. Ben Jonson, who called Shakespeare an ape, makes half a dozen allusions to a "mystery" in Bacon's life which would be a "brave cause for joy" if known to the public. Jonson lived with Bacon at Twickenham, and was his confidant. Bacon's "Promus" (published in 1882) contains 1655 words and phrases which are used in various ways 4,404 times in the Shakespeare Plays, but only to a limited extent in Bacon's prose. These include new and carefully manufactured words unknown in English before. In the "Northumberland Papers," a manuscript in Bacon's own writing, appear the names "Francis Bacon" and "William Shakespeare," written alternately six or eight times, as if written by one who was trying his pen at writing both names.

In Bacon's list of authors for the period the only name omitted is the greatest, William Shakespeare. In Ben Jonson's list of authors for the period Bacon is put first, and described as "the mark and acme of our language." Shakespeare is not mentioned. In Jonson's poem on Shakespeare the poet is pronounced superior "to all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome sent forth." Jonson was not given to repeating himself, but a few years later he omitted Shakespeare from his list of authors and declared that Bacon's works were to be "preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome."

Bacon was the historian of the period; so was Shakespeare. The only omission in the Shakespeare series of histories is "Henry VII," and it is supplied by Bacon's prose history. This prose history begins at the exact place at which Shakespeare's drama of "Richard III" leaves off, and ends at the exact place where Shakespeare's drama of "Henry VIII" begins.

Shakespeare died in 1616, seven years before the first folio of the Plays was published. That edition contained additions, alterations, excisions, etc. who made them? These revisions continued until the year of Bacon's death, 1626. Bacon's prose works were reissued and revised in the same style.

The Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, the incomparable pair of brethren, to whom the first folio is dedicated, were Bacon's private friends and partners in various enterprises.

Even in their blunders the two authors were not divided, says Mr. Reed, and gives many instances. The curious and erroneous theory of heat taught in the "Promus" and in the "Advancement of Learning" is repeated in the "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and again in "Coriolanus." Bacon in his "Sylva Sylvarum" quotes facts from six books; exactly the same six books are quoted and passages taken from them by Shakespeare. Bacon knew nothing of animals, except from books, and makes at least half a dozen glaring errors as to their habits. The same errors are repeated in the Plays.

The books from which the plots for the Shakespeare Plays were drawn were part of Bacon's library. The untranslated works which helped the dramatist were in Bacon's possession. The foreign countries minutely described in the Plays are the countries Bacon visited or resided in. The usury laws ridiculed and condemned in the "Merchant of Venice" (1595) are the laws under which Bacon suffered the year previous (1594) at the hands of a Jewish money-lender. The college referred to in college terms in the Plays, e. g., "Titus Andronicus," was Bacon's college, Cambridge. (Knock at his study, where they say he keeps." Titus Andronicus.)

The periods of Shakespeare's activity coincide with the periods of Bacon's leisure; the periods of Bacon's public activity coincide with the periods of Shakespeare's silence. The politics of Bacon's writings are the politics of the Plays. The contempt for the common people and tradesmen, the "mob," the "unmasked multitude," the "swinish rabble," occurring over and over in the Plays, is an echo of the words used again and again by Bacon as the expression of the intensely undemocratic spirit that was his, and seems very unfitting in Shakespeare. A technical knowledge of printing is displayed in the dramas was Shakespeare a printer? Bacon was a master of the printer's art. A remarkably exact knowledge of navigation is displayed in the Plays. Bacon, as is well known, wrote a special treatise on the subject of navigation. Shakespeare's exceptional and accurate knowledge and portrayal of the peculiarities of the insane has frequently been commented upon. Professor Elze, in his "William Shakespeare," quotes Professor Newman and Doctor Bucknill as maintaining " that watching the insane must have been a favorite study of Shakespeare." Well, from 1601 to 1610, we know that Bacon lived with and had under his unremitting care an insane person, viz., his own reputed mother, Mrs. Nicholas Bacon. It may be worth while noting here also one coincidence, that whereas Mrs. Bacon went insane in 1601, the passage in Hamlet where he says

"It is not madness
That I have uttered bring me to the test
And I the matter will re-word, which madness
Would gambol from"

was first inserted and first appeared in the revised Edition of the Play published in 1604. Bacon had by that time served three years' apprenticeship in observing the ways of the insane.

For details of heraldry and witchcraft both authors went to the same books for information and used the same facts and names. The last drama was "Timon of Athens," in which the author bitterly railed against the world which had treated him badly. At this time Shakespeare was living at ease on an ample fortune; but Bacon had been deserted by friends and flatterers, and had been unjustly compelled to retire from public life.

Particular significance, we believe, attaches to the discussion and evidence relating to the lost part of Bacon's system of universal philosophy.

Bacon died April 9, 1626. In his last will he disposed of his unpublished writings as follows:

"I desire my executors, especially my brother constable, as also Mr. Bosvile (Boswell), preferably after my decease, to take into their hands all my papers, which are either in cabinets, boxes or presses, and them to seal up till they may at their leisure peruse them."

About a year after Bacon's death, probably 1627, the above mentioned Bosvile, having been appointed British Minister to Holland, carried the manuscripts to The Hague, and committed them to his learned friend, Isaac Ginter, for publication. During a series of eighteen years, from 1633 to 1652, Ginter reissued for Continental readers the works already printed in England. Finally, in 1653, Ginter gave to the world nineteen of the unpublished manuscripts in a work entitled, "Francis Baconi de Verdanio Soupla in Naturali et Universali Philosophia." In an address prefixed to the reader Ginter tells us that he and Boswell had many long and confidential interviews concerning the publication of the papers and that in consequence some of the papers, for reasons not given, were withheld from the public. That Ginter regarded these reserved papers (whatever they were) of great importance, and that against his will he was compelled to keep them back, we know, for on March 20, 1655, he wrote to Sir William Rawley, Bacon's old chaplain and amanuensis in London, expressing great impatience because he was not permitted to publish them, saying in that letter: "At present I will restrain my impatient desires in hope of seeing some day these things which are now committed to faithful privacy, await the time when they may safely see the light and not be stifled in their birth."

What was the nature of that secret which the unpublished papers would have revealed? The terms in which Ginter refers to the secret effectually preclude the supposition that it had to do with personal criticism of his contemporaries.

That a secret of some kind did exist in Bacon's literary works admits of no doubt. "The great secret which he had, or thought he had, in his keeping." * Ellis, the co-editor, discusses the value of it, e. g., the new philosophical method, in the preface to "Novum Organum." Spedding (after his, Ellis', withdrawal) later on in the work repudiates Ellis' interpretation, but admits that after thirty years' study he can supply no satisfactory solution.

Bacon, we know, had a scheme of universal philosophy. He tells us, in "De Augmentis," that he had two methods of communicating his philosophy to the world; one, exoteric, open to all; the other, esoteric, enigmatic, designed to exclude the vulgar and to admit only those who have wits of such sharpness to pierce the veil. Bacon divided his great work on philosophy, the "Instauratio Magna," into six books, viz.:

Part First: Gives a survey or inventory of knowledge as then existing in the world, with a statement of deficiencies found in it: "Advancement of Learning," "De Augmentis."

Part Second: Treats of human understanding, the rules and principles of research after truth: "Novum Organum."

Part Third: Seeks to bring together out of every department of nature, but one the ardent collection of facts, "arranged for the work of the understanding": "Sylva Sylvarum," "History of the Winds," "History of Life and Death," and some others.

Part Fifth: Miscellaneous in character, including essays: "History of Henry VII," "Apothegms," "De Sapentia Velerium," "Legal Arguments," etc.

Part Sixth: This was never perhaps even attempted. He states distinctly, "we entertain no hope of our life being prolonged to the completion of the sixth part."

Part Fourth: Was it also unattempted, or was it completed and concealed? Bacon tells us distinctly that Part Fourth, like Part Third, was designed for an inquisition only facts, but facts of a mental and moral nature. Strange as it may seem, not a single line except a brief preface entitled "Scala Intellectus," is to be found in Bacon's acknowledged works under this head. Spedding says:* "Of the Fourth Part not even a fragment has come down to us."

Now from Bacon's words we infer that he considered the Fourth Part an integral and important part of his system "Novum Organum": "I am forming a history and tabulae inveniendi for anger, fear, shame, and the like."

Again, in "Filum Labyrinthi," in referring to these tabulae, he instances, "tabulae concerning animal passions, tabulae concerning sense and objects of sense, tabulae concerning the affections of the mind, tabulae concerning the mind itself and its faculties."

Where now are these writings that deal with the passions and affections of the human heart? They are missing; but that they were actually composed and were designed to form the Fourth Part (which also is missing) seems at least a most reasonable inference, from what Bacon says of the Fourth Part in "Distribuo Operis":

"I set forth examples according to my method, choosing such subjects as are most noble in themselves among those under inquiry. By examples I mean actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind, from the beginning to the end, in certain subjects and those various and remarkable, should be set, as it were, before the eyes. For I remember that in the mathematics it is easy to follow the demonstration when you have a machine beside you. To examples of this kind the Fourth Part is devoted."

It seems then, as we have said, that it is a reasonable inference, to say the least, that Bacon left behind him for the Fourth Part of his system writings which would accomplish in the interpretation of human nature what he sought to accomplish in the Third Part for the interpretation of physical nature. But have we any hint as to the nature or form such writings would take?

Further, he tells us, in the "Advancement of Learning," that "historians and poets" are the best instructors in this branch of knowledge, "for in them," he says, "we may find painted forth with great life how affections are kindled and in-cited, how they disclose themselves, how they work, how they vary, how they gather and fortify, and how they are enwrapped one with another."

Again, in "De Augmentis": "Historians and poets are best qualified to treat of human nature, because man's character can be more powerfully delineated in action than in formal criticism."

How significant in this connection the remark of Gervinus in his Commentary on Shakespeare: "If Bacon felt the want of a science of human nature, he rightly thought that historians and poets are the ones to supply it; and he well might have searched for it before all in the writings of his neighbor Shakespeare, for no other poetry has taught us as his has done that the taming of the passions is the aim of civilization."

Such was the state of the argument up to a few years ago. About fifty years ago a document was discovered which, though not appreciated at the time by the discoverer (Mr. Spedding), would seem strongly to confirm the belief that the lost part had been actually composed in part, if not completed, by 1608, and that it was in dramatic form.

Among the manuscript papers published for the first time by Ginter in 1653, not until twenty-seven years after the death of Bacon, and standing first in the volume, is one entitled, " Cogitata et Visa." It was written in or about the year 1607. It contains a rapid sketch of Bacon's system of philosophy and especially, in the last paragraph (occupying a page and a quarter in the Spedding edition), a summary of the secret or enigmatical kind of writing in which an important part of his system was to be embodied. The text of Ginter's was the only copy known to exist for more than two hundred years, and this copy is the only one Miss Delia Bacon could have seen or used.

Some short time before 1857 Mr. Spedding found another manuscript copy of the " Cogitata et Visa," in the Library of Queen's College at Oxford. It was undoubtedly genuine for, according to Mr. Spedding, "it is carefully corrected in Bacon's own hand." And this he prints instead of following Ginter. A comparison showed that for some unknown reason Ginter had omitted in one place thirteen lines, in another eleven lines. The omissions seemed to Mr. Spedding to be "immaterial," and he makes no further comment upon the fact. Within the last three years, Mr. Edwin Reed, of Andover, Massachusetts, profoundest Shakespearean scholar in this country, carefully comparing the two, has reached the conclusion that Ginter omitted the above mentioned passages deliberately, as coming too near revealing the secret to be allowed to see the light at that time. For the first time these passages are presented by Mr. Reed in English dress. We will quote a few sentences from the "paragraph" before we come to the omitted passages, giving the latter in full:

"Bacon observes, 'some men minister to their love of fame and profit sometimes by publishing and sometimes by concealing the knowledge of things they have acquired. We must remember that moderate errors, like the ravings of lunatics, are overcome by ingenuity and tact, but aggravated by violence and opposition; therefore we must use prudence and humour people, to get a hearing.' So he determined to prepare 'Tabulae Inveniendi,' i. e., 'examples of invention,' or 'forms of inquiry,' to serve as almost visible representation of the matter. ('Bacon calls the Dialogues of Plato 'Tabulae.')"

Now for the omitted passages:

"But when these 'Tabulae Inveniendi' have been published and seen, he does not doubt that the more timid wits will shrink, almost in despair, from imitating them with similar productions with other materials and on other subjects. They will take so much delight in the specimen given that they will miss the precepts, or lessons, in it. Still, many persons will be led to inquire into the real meaning and highest use of these writings, and to find the key to their interpretation.

But he intends yielding neither to his own personal aspirations nor to the wishes of others, but keeping steadily in view the success of his undertaking, having shared these writings with some, to withhold the rest until the treatise intended for the people shall be published."

"He anticipates that some persons of higher and more exalted genius taking a hint from what they observe, will without more aid apprehend and master the others themselves. For he is almost of the opinion that this will be enough for the wise, while more will not be enough for the dull. (Omitted: He therefore will intermit no part of his undertaking so far as these writings are concerned). (Omitted: Be-sides, he does not wish to impose any rigid forms of inquiry upon men; but he is assured that when these productions have all been tested after long use and with some judgment, this form of investigation thus proved and exhibited by him will be found the truest and most useful. Still, he would not hinder those who have more leisure and who are free from the special difficulties which always beset the pioneer or who are of a more powerful or sublime genius, from improving on it; for he finds in his own experience that the art of inventing grows by invention itself.)"

What, then, was the character of these writings? Mr. Spedding says that at one period it would seem that Bacon thought of throwing the exposition of his argument into a dramatic form. Would it not be admissible to argue from the facts and hints pointed out, that he actually did so, and that the pictorial allegory which Ginter inserted in his edition of "De Augmentis" was intended to symbolize that fact? The original edition of "De Augmentis" was published the same year as the Shakespeare Plays antedating them only a few weeks, in 1623. Was not this, then, the work concerning which he said, as quoted above, "I will withhold the rest until the treatise intended for the public shall be published?"

The picture: Bacon seated with a large open volume before him (his acknowledged writings), the index finger of his right hand pointing to it. With his left arm extended he is restraining a female figure intent upon carrying a clasped book to a Temple, evidently the Temple of Fame. This figure is clad in a beast's skin. Does not this symbolize the Muse of Tragedy? Tragedy is literally, as we all know, "goat-song." In ancient Greece the goat was sacred to the drama; in every performance in the theatre actors and even members of the chorus wore goat skins. Bacon, then, is the author of two works: one, open and acknowledged; the other, enigmatical, dramatic and unacknowledged.

The restraint exercised upon Ginter as to publishing is typified by the figure struggling to bear the closed volume aloft to the Temple of Fame.

Professor Mendenhall (Superintendent of Coast Survey) suggested the scheme of depicting graphically the unconscious peculiarities of style in any given author by use of the familiar device of rectangular co-ordinates. This method, of course, may be applied to show graphically quite a number of idiosyncrasies of style in composition; but the easiest and most readily appreciated application is to determine graphically the prevailing use of longer or shorter words by any two or more authors compared-that is, the relative number of letters in the words most used. Mr. Herninray, of Boston, a few years ago became interested in the scheme and proposed to Professor Mendenhall to defray the expenses for a trial on a grand scale. By aid of a simple recording machine which greatly simplified the labor, several young ladies were able, in a few weeks, to count and classify about three million words in the works of Elizabethan authors alone, besides several authors in foreign languages. The results were plotted graphically, the outcome being that Shakespeare had for his characteristic difference the use of "four-letter" words, Bacon "three-letter" words. Only one author beside Shakespeare of the same period had the same characteristic, the predominant use of "four-letter" words, and that was Marlowe a most interesting coincidence, some may be inclined to think. In fact, Shakespeare's curve and Marlowe's are indistinguishable practically identical.

This seemed to settle the Baconian claims for good and all, leaving Marlowe an open question.

For the method, as Professor Mendenhall points out, while perfectly valid for excluding an author whose curve differs from a given arc, only affords a probability or strong presumption of identity in the case of one whose curve coincides with a given one, e. g., blue eyes and red hair versus black eyes and black hair. On later consideration, reflecting that in the case of Shakespeare only poetry was counted and in the case of Bacon only prose, it seemed to me a question whether Professor Mendenhall had made sufficient allowance for the difference that might naturally be expected in employing the two divine forms of expression poetry and prose. A number of experiments as to the difference of curves to be found in the same author when using now prose exclusively, now poetry exclusively, convinced me that Professor Mendenhall had not proved his case as between Bacon and Shakespeare so completely as at first seemed.

I give the curves of Milton and Scott respectively, both in prose and poetry.

The typographical argument in the controversy is based upon the Baconian cipher. About eight years ago, the widow of a well-to-do Detroit (Michigan) doctor, working on some matters connected with the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy in the British Museum, came upon the pages in Gilbert Watts' translation of "De Augmentis," 1640, where Bacon gives a full account, accompanied with elaborate illustrations, of the celebrated cipher which he had invented and used for many years.

Dropping her immediate work, she determined to seek whether in Bacon's acknowledged works published under his own direction he had anywhere used the cipher which he commends so highly. She claims to have found it in the italicized words and passages of the "Advancement of Learning" (English, 1605), of the "Novum Organum" (Latin, 1620), of the "Life of Henry VII" (1622), and in others of his works.

Taking up the Folio (1623) Edition of Shakespeare's Plays, she discovered the cipher running through all the Plays wherever italicized passages and words were found. The same in the Quarto Edition of the Plays, published before Shakespeare's death but without his name.

The effect of this professed discovery was immediate and tremendous. All the literati on both sides of the controversy were up in arms; the rage of the Pro-Baconians, with few exceptions, fully equalled that of the Pro-Shakespeareans. Judge Webb, of Dublin University; Begley, the Cambridge critic; Messrs. Reed and Keefer, of our country, not to mention others, joined voices of more or less contemptuous condemnation with Sidney Lee, George Brandes, Leslie Stephens and John Collins. The reason for this unanimity of condemnation is plain. If Mrs. Gallup's claim be good, then the whole literary and historical argument, built up on both sides with such infinite toil and pains, is, for the moment at least, brushed aside and relegated to an altogether secondary place. The august order of scholars and Shakespearean critics, and with them the general experts in Elizabethan literature authorities all who have ruled unquestioned so long —these, one and several, are invited to vacate their thrones on the stage, step down, at least temporarily, and take seats in the pit or in the gallery, as suits their humor. Their office now is no longer to impose as of yore oracular utterances, ex cathedra decisions pro and con, but simply to look and listen while the practical printer speaks; or indeed while any one speaks who, with good eyes, great patience and a hand glass, has honestly applied himself to the problem of decipherment. For the proof, if proof there be, is pure typography.

Bacon himself gives a clear account of his cipher or secret writing,* closing with this significant sentence: "These arts (cipher-writing) placed here with the principal and supreme sciences seem petty things; yet to such as have chosen them to spend their labors and studies in them, they seem great matters."

In "De Augmentis" Bacon gives an elaborate account of his own great cipher and illustrates its use by printing into a letter of Cicero's without alteration of a word, simply by the use of two slightly different fonts of italic type, the secret Spartan message (given in Plutarch).

We remark, first, that it seems passing strange that, so far as record goes, from Bacon's day to this it never occurred to any one to take up and examine carefully the original Editions of Bacon's acknowledged works to see if he had anywhere made use in them of his favorite cipher. No one, it seems, had the wit or patience to make the experiment until the matter was accident-ally suggested to Mrs. Gallup eight years ago by coming upon the cipher passage and explanation in Watts' translation of the "De Augmentis."

Second, if the decipherment is valid, we are furnished with the best of all reasons for Bacon's not acknowledging the Plays, namely, the danger by so doing of leading to the discovery of the great secrets imbedded therein, secrets whose discovery would have cost him his head: his claim to be the lawful son of Queen Elizabeth, and therefore to be the lawful heir to the throne of England.

According to the cipher, Queen Elizabeth was married to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, when they both were prisoners in the Tower, and Bacon was the first-born; the Earl of Essex the second.

Mallock's test: The keen and accomplished scholar and writer, Mr. Mallock, asked Mrs. Gallup to mark each letter of Macbeth's letter to his wife according to her interpretation of the cipher. Then, having enlarged photographic copies made of the letter from the Cambridge Folio (1623), he examined with great care 328 letters in all, with the following result: Comparing his marking with hers, he found that in 277 cases, he agreed perfectly; 43 cases, thinks her marking inconsistent; 8 cases, the comparison left him in doubt.

To sum up, he says:

"Taking the passage (Macbeth's letter) as typical of Mrs. Gallup's interpretation, her rendering will be found to be demonstrably in accordance with a systematic use of two italic alphabets, as laid down by Bacon in his 'De Augmentis.' "

( Originally Published 1914 )

The Heritage of the Commonwealth:
Essays - Bacon—shakespeare

Essays - 'the Lords Of Creation'

Essays - Japan

Essays - 'koheleth,' Or 'ecclesiastes'

Sermons - Baccalaureate Sermon


Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse Part 2

Read More Articles About: The Heritage of the Commonwealth

Home | More Articles | Email: