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Mr. Rushton, in his work upon the one isolated moment of his life to the legal acquirements of Shakspere, after study of law, that Lord Campbell expressnoticing the usually received theory that es his astonishment and marvels that, the poet's knowledge of law was more in- "while novelists and dramatists are contuitive than acquired, observes that even stantly making mistakes as to the law of if that master-mind could possibly have marriage, of wills, and of inheritance, to possessed double the unequalled genius Shakespeare's law, lavishly as he prowhich exalted him so far above the gen-pounds it, there can neither be demurrer, erality of his fellow-creatures, he would nor bill of exceptions, nor writ of error." not have been able to use and apply law- In mentioning the contemporaneousterms of a purely technical nature in the ness of Shakspere and Bacon, manner appearing in his compositions author notes that in 1587, when the forwithout considerable knowledge of that mer is supposed to have come up to Lonmighty and abstruse science — the law of don, Bacon has already been called to England.*
the Utter Bar, has become a bencher, Mr. Grant White exclaims :
and sits at the Reader's Table in Gray's To what, then, must we attribute the fact, Inn. At the Christmas Revels of that that of all the plays that have survived of year he assists the gentlemen of the Inn those written between 1580 and 1620, Shake-in getting up the tragedy of the Misforspeare's are the most noteworthy in this re- tunes of Arthur, and certain masques for spect ? And the significance of this fact is which he writes some additional speeches, heightened by another — that it is only to the while Shakspere is yet but a mere “serlanguage of the law that he exhibits this in- viture” at the Blackfriars Theatre, and clination. . . . Legal phrases flow from his still unsuspected of being the author of pen as a part of his vocabulary, and parcel of anything. Thus runs the story of Francis his thought.
Bacon - in 1589 a Member of ParliaAs the courts of law in Shakspere's ment, and making the acquaintance of time occupied much more attention than the theatre-going young lords, Essex, they do now, it has been suggested that Southampton, Rutland, Montgomery, and it was in attendance upon them that he the rest; in 1593, still pursuing his picked up his legal vocabulary. But this studies in his retreats ; now presenting same able commentator considers this the Queen with a sonnet composed by supposition as not only failing to account himself, though professing," as he says for the poet's peculiar freedom and ex- in parenthesis, " not to be a poet ;” and actness in the use of the phraseology - it then, by reason of expensive habits, comdoes not even place him in the way of pelled to obtain help from the Lombards learning those terms his use of which is and Jews. In 1592, writing to Lord most remarkable, which are not such as Burghley, Bacon says : he would have heard at ordinary proceed
Again the meanness of my estate doth some. ings at nisi prius, but such as refer to what move me : for though I cannot accuse the tenure or transfer of real property : myself that I am either prodigal or slothful, “fine and recovery," "statutes mer- yet my health is not to spend nor my course to chant,” “purchase," "indenture," " ten- get. . . . And if your Lordship wiil not carry ure,' “ double voucher," "fee simple,” me on I will not do as Anaxagoras did, who "fee farm,” “remainder," " reversion," reduced himself with contemplation unto vol. * forfeiture," and the like.
untary poverty; but this I will do; I will sell
the inheritance that I have, and purchase This conveyancer's jargon (concludes Mr. some lease of quick revenue, or some office of White) could not have been picked up by I gain that shall be executed by deputy and so hanging round the courts of law in London give over all care of service, and become some two hundred and fifty years ago, when suits as sorry book-maker. to the title of real property were comparatively so rare. And beside, Shakespeare uses
In that very year Robert Greene his law just as freely in his early plays, written (Groat's Worth of Wit) discovers that a in his first London years, as in those pro- new poet has arisen, who is becoming duced at a later period.t
“the only Shakescene in a countrey.
Meanwhile Bacon is embarrassed with Finally, so accurate and precise is the duns and Jews' bonds, and is “poor and use of legal parlance by this man, who is sickly, working for bread." not authentically known to have devoted
The good Lady Ann, his mother, a pious Shakespeare a Lawyer. W.L. Rushton. Lon- Campbell, P. 108. don, 1858. P. 4.
† Spedding's Letters and Life of Bacon. Vol. I. p. t'white's Memoir. Pp. 46–7.
soul, in creed a Calvinist and in morals; never writer,” notes our author, “must a Puritan, begins to observe that Francis have meant one never known to the pub“is continually sickly ... by untimely lic as a writer of plays, and could not going to bed and then musing nescio quid well be William Shakespeare himself, when he should sleep.” “We only get,” who was writing so much for the everobserves our author, “an occasional reading public.” This play contains glimpse of his private and secret studies, one of those numerous instances of or of the ex gency that made them pri- similarity not to say identity of thought vate."
(between the works of Shakspere and In 1594, some eight or ten of the Bacon) which, though not absolutely conearlier plays were already upon the stage, clusive in themselves, are nevertheless, and were generally taken to be the work scarcely less convincive than the most of Shakspere, “though none of them had direct evidence when considered with all as yet been printed under his name." It the rest." In the Advancement, treating is assumed as a remarkable fact, that of moral culture, Bacon quotes Aristotle prior to the year 1598 Shakspere's name as saying that "young men are no fit had not appeared on the title-page of auditors of moral philosophy," because any printed play, and that it was only they are not settled from the boiling in that year that the quartos bore the heat of their affections, nor attempered titles of the plays as “written,” “newly with time and experience.” In the Troiaugmented and corrected,” or “ newly lus and Cressida we have the same thing set-forth and over-seen,” by W. Shaks in these words :spere. Our author observes that down to the year 1598 nothing definite any
Not so much
Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought where appears, except the dedications to
Unfit to hear moral philosophy. Southampton and the allusions which
The reasons you allege do more conduce followed, on which to base the claim of
To the hot passion of distempered blood, the authorship of the plays for Shak- Than to make up a free determination spere, beyond the bare fact that the
'Twixt right and wrong. plays were upon the stage in the theatres which he was connected with, and were
Mr. Spedding remarks that Aristotle generally attributed to him ; nor does he speaks only of “political philosophy," appear to have declined the honour of and that the error of Bacon is followed their paternity. The fact is by no means by Shakspere. This instance may have to be ignored that several of the plays author urges that the whole tenor of the
been the fruit of plagiarism, but our attributed to the poet during his life are now indisputably proved not to be the argument in the play is so exactly in product of his pen.
keeping with Bacon's manner of dealing Hereupon our author hints at the pith with the subject, that it is hard to believe of his theory and offers the view that, on
a mere plagiarist would have followed the supposition that these plays came
him so profoundly. At a later stage of from Gray's Inn, and were the early at- the work are given many hundred paraltempts of a briefless young barrister who
lelisms of word and thought between the did not desire to be known as a writer works of these great contemporaries, who for the stage, and who meant to “profess never, by briefest hint, gave indication not to be a poet,” but to whom any that either was cognisant of the exist“lease of quick revenue ” might not be ence of the other, which singularity unacceptable and cover some practical urged the writer in the Athenæum, quoted necessity - it is not difficult to imagine above, to remark: that this “ absolute Johannes Factotum"
Bacon was rather fond of speaking of his would be just the man to suit his pur- great contemporaries, of quoting their wit and pose; nor is it necessary to suppose that I recording their sayings. In his Apophthegms an express bargain would be struck in we find nearly all that is known about Raterms between them in the first instance, leigh's power of repartee. How came such but rather that the arrangement came a gatherer of wit, humours, and characters to about gradually in the course of time. ignore the greatest man living? Had he a
The circumstance is mentioned under reason for his omission? It were idle to aswhich the Troilus and Cressida made its sume that Bacon failed to see the greatness of
Lear and Macbeth. There must have been first appearance, 1609, as worthy of
some reason for this silence. special note in this connection. The · preface announces it thus: “A never- One singular instance of parallelism writer to an ever-reader. Newes." "A occurs in Bacon's Essay on Gardens, and the Winter's Tale. Bacon maintained probable that Bacon would have anything that "there ought to be gardens for all to learn of William Shakespeare concernthe months of the year; in which sever. ing the science of gardening:" Dr. ally things of beauty may be in their Bucknill
, betrayed into a rhapsody upon season ; " and he proceeds to name the the genius of Shakspere, exclaims :flowers proper to each month and season.
Had he not been a poet, might he not have “Now,” remarks our author,“ the flowers been a philosopher? Some American writer named in the Cottage Scene of the fourth has lately started the idea that the plays of act of the Winter's Tale appear to have Shakespeare were written by Bacon! Verily been drawn from one and the same cal- were it not for the want of power of imagina. endar, and in about the same order as tion and verbal euphony which is displayed in those of the essay.” As thus, in the Bacon's Essays, one might rather think that essay :
they were some of Shakespeare's own rough
memoranda on men and motives, which had For December and January, and the latter strayed from his desk. part of November, you must take such things as are green all winter
But Bacon's admirable biographer, lavender ... marjoram.
Mr. Spedding, maintains that the philosoPerdita (in the play): –
pher was not without the fine phrensy of
the poet, and that, if it had taken the ordiReverend sirs,
nary direction, it would have carried him For you there's rosemary and rue ; these keep to a place among the great poets. George Seeming and savour all the winter long.
Darley selected Bacon as a biographical The Essay: –
land-mark, “because he is a poetical imPrimroses ; for March, there come violets, aginator ; because dramatic poets are (or especially the single blue — the yellow daffo (ought to be) philosophers ; and because dil; in April follow the double white violet
his influence upon our Human Literature the cowslip; flower-de-luces, and lilies of all has been, through the direction he gave natures the pale daffodil.
to the world of Thought, far more con
siderable than palpable.". Perdita :
Even Macaulay admitted that the
Daffodils, poetical faculty was powerful in Bacon's That come before the swallow dares, and take mind; but, not like his wit, so powerful The winds of March with beauty ; violets as occasionally to usurp the place of his dim, ...
reason. Our author makes strong bis . . . pale primroses ; . . . bold oxlips, and
view of Bacon's talent for poetry by quoThe crown-imperial ; lilies of all kinds,
tations from various masques and sonThe flower-de-luce being one!
nets now well authenticated as the work The essay :
of the philosopher. In May and June come pinks of all sorts ;
Concerning Lord Verulam's Metrical the French marigold; lavender in flowers; in Version of the Psalms, which was dedi. July come gilliflowers of all varieties. cated to his friend the learned and pious Perdita :
poet, George Herbert, as “the best
judge of Divinity and Poesy met," it is Sir, the year growing ancient, - very justly observed that it was the so. Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth lace of his idle hours during a time of Of trembling winter, — the fairest flowers o'simpaired health, about a year before his th' season
death. In idea and sentiment he was Are our carnations and streaked gilliflowers ; absolutely limited to the original Psalm ; Hot lavendar, mint, savory, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed with th' sun :
nevertheless, in elegance, ease of rhythmic .. these are flowers
flow, and pathetic sweetness, many pasOf middle summer.
sages are not unworthy of Herbert him.
self. Mr. Spedding notices these resem
The researches of Messrs. Spedding blances, and observes that if this essay and Dixon have brought to light, from had been contained in the earlier edition the same bundle of the Lambeth MSS. of Bacon's works, some expressions in which were found the speeches for the would have made him suspect that Shak- Essex Masque, arranged by Bacon, a paspere had been reading it. But this par per without date, title, or heading, but ticular essay was not printed until 1625, which is thought to be of the date of nine years after the death of Shakspere, which precludes the possibility of the * Works of Beaumont and Fletcher. Darley. Loo poet having plagiarized. “Nor is it'don, 1839. P. 17.
Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Spedding evi- Jobserves, Francis takes a leading part in dently believes the piece to have been the preparations, writing a masque for written by Bacon, of which indeed there one thing. From this date until 1600 the is scarcely any room for doubt. The im- plays are rapidly appearing; while Bacon portant thing to be noted here is, that in is still trammelled by pecuniary, strinit the Baconian prose actually runs into gency. At an intermediate period, writShaksperian rhymed verse under our ing to Essex, he observes : " But even very eyes, thus: -“And at last, this for that point of estate and means, I present year, out of one of the holiest partly lean to Thales' opinion, that a vaults, was delivered to him an oracle in philosopher may be rich if he will.". these words : "
This must refer to some new source of Seated between the Old World and the New, revenue, as Bacon had not humbled him. A land there is no other land may touch,
self to the level of “ a sorry book-maker." Where reigns a queen in peace and honour
In 1607-8 Bacon is engaged upon his true;
Characters of Julius and Augustus Stories or fables do describe no such. Cæsar, and by some marvellous accident Never did Atlas such a burden bear,
the tragedy of Julius Casar comes from As she, in holding up the world opprest; the hand of Shakspere very soon after, Supplying with her virtue everywhere
“as if there were at least a semblable Weakness of friends, errors of servants best.
coherence' between the two men's No nation breeds a warmer blood for war, And yet she calms them by her majesty :
spirits." Writing to Sir Tobie Matthew No age hath ever wits refined so far,
about this time concerning his Happy And yet she calms them by her policy:
Memory of the late Queen, Bacon says: To her thy son must make his sacrifice,
." I showed you some model, though at If he will have the morning of his eyes.* the time me-thought you were as willing Bacon was earnestly engaged in dra- beth commended." *
to hear Julius Cæsar as Queen Elizamatic entertainments in the same year in which Shakspere is said to have arrived
In the October of 1613 Bacon becomes in London to join the Blackfriars Com- Attorney-General and the plays cease to pany, as yet wholly unknown to fame. appear. Granting Lord Verulam to be Our author mentions the fact, that even ficient reason for his cessation of literary
the author of the plays, there appears sufas late as December 9, 1613, the philoso- exertions when the duties of state were pher of his own motion prepares a masque for his Majesty's entertainment, was no longer vexed with the considera
beginning to crowd upon him, when he which, an account says, “ will stand him tion of a livelihood, and when the amin 2,000l." It'is argued that Bacon's course of life, the eve of realization. But how Shak;
bitious dreams of his youth were upon his years of retirement, under the displeasure of Elizabeth, either in the re- the zenith of his renown, could have laid
spere, then in his forty-ninth year and treats at Gorhambury and at Twickenham Park, or in town at Gray's Inn and and never have employed it again save
down his pen with the last great drama, Anthony Bacon's house, was in exact for traditional “doggerel,” is an Eleuaccordance with the chronology of the sinian mystery! plays, and might reasonably have af
There is a circumstance of great sinforded the opportunity and incentive for their production. The fond mother, gularity which has occasioned much comLady Ann Bacon, on one occasion states ment, and has been remarked by a comthat her sons Anthony and Francis are
mentator upon the life and writings of
Bacon. having plays at Anthony's house, “very much to the delight of Essex and his jo- tion, it had best be given in the full fila
As the note is well worthy of attenvial crew," but, as the pious lady fears, “to the peril of her sons' souls ;" since
vour of verbal quotation :plays and novels are burned privately by In Shakespeare's plays there is a dramatic the bishops, and publicly by the Puritans. series of historical events from the deposition
At the time of the Christmas Revels, of Richard II. to the birth of Elizabeth. But 1594, Lady Ann writes to Anthony that in this series there is one curious unaccounted. she “trusts they will not mum, nor mask, for hiatus. . “The poet,” says Charles Knight, nor sinfully revel ; " but, as our author has not chosen to exhibit the establishment
of law and order in the astute government of Masque. Spedding's Life and Letters. Vol. I. Henry VII.” In Bacon's works there are p. 388. f Dixon's Personal History. P. 68.
Bacon's Works. Montagu. Vol. XII. p. 93.
sundry fragments of a history of England. his plan for introducing to a place in his They are but mere hints, at once the token great Instauration the poetry of the drathat the idea of a history had been present in ma as “a means of development of men's Lord Bacon's mind, and the evidence that it
minds." had not been worked out upon paper It is now well established that Ben Jonle ist in this way. But one reign is not a fragment, it is a history - the History of llenry tions of Shakspere, nor was he as envious
son was not severely critical of the producseries; and the exhibition of the “establish- of his superiority and fame as early trament of law and order,” which the genial dition teaches.' Indeed, the poet's aceditor of Shakespeare sees to be wanting to quaintance with Jonson began with a recomplete the unity of the dramatic series, is markable piece of humanity and goodwrought out in Lord Bacon's book. The nature. Jonson, who was at that time History of Henry VII., by Bacon, completes wholly unknown to the world, had offered the series of Shakespeare histories from one of his plays to the players, in order to Richard II. to Henry VIII. It takes the have it acted, and they having turned it story up, too, from the very place where, in Shakespeare, it is dropped. Richard 111. carelessly and superciliously over, were ends with Bosworth Field, with the coronation just upon rejecting it, when Shakspere of Richmond, and the order for the decent in- luckily cast his eye upon it. Perceiving terment of the dead. Bacon's history begins its merit, he at once engaged to read it with an “ After,” as if it was a continuation. through, and was afterwards pleased to And so it is - a continuation of the drama, recommend Jonson and his writings to the taking up the history.“ immediately after the public.* Mr. Grant White is of opinion victory," as Bacon writes in his second sen; that Jonson's honest love for Shakspere tence." Not a word about Henry VII. as Earl of Richmond, nothing about the events which for this great service ; while Rowe avers
may well have had its spring in gratitude preceded the battle of Bosworth - a story " After this they were professed friends." without a beginning : the beginning of it is found in the drama." *
Such evidence may in part explain the oft
expressed query concerning the improbaOur author theorizes at great length bility of Jonson's relish for the society upon the “reasons for concealment,” and of Shakspere, who was so far inferior decides that with Bacon a desire to rise to him as a scholar and man of letters. in the profession of the law or his ambi- According to our author, Ben Jonson tion for high place in the state, the low must have been aware of the secret unreputation of the playwright, and the derstanding between his mutual friends ; mean estate of all poor poets in that age, while much significance is attached to and the need of a larger liberty, are of his advice in the folio : -“Reader, themselves a sufficient explanation of his looke, not on his picture, but his booke.” wish to cover this authorship and to re- Unfortunately for the cause of history, main a concealed poet in his own time. Sir Tobie Matthew became a "pervert” The expression concealed poet is borrowed and was banished the country; it has from a letter of Bacon to Master Davis, been suggested with much reason that the distinguished statesman, upon his he would doubtless have been to Bacon going to be presented at Court, in which what Boswell was to Jonson. They were Bacon begs to be recommended to his much attached, and during his stay in Majesty, and closes with the remarkable England Sir Tobie was continually with line : —- “So desiring you to be good to Bacon. It is recorded as the habit of concealed poets, I continue, etc.” †
Bacon to send Sir Tobie his various Bacon's rival, Lord Coke, was not works as they appeared, and on one or alone among those in high places at that more occasions the philosopher enclosed day whose opinion was that play-writers “a recreation” with the particular work, and stage-players were fit subjects for the though what the subjects of these recregrand jury as "vagrants,” and that “the ations might have been does not appear. fatal end of these five is beggary – the Sir Tobie generally acknowledged the alchemyst, the monopotext, the concealer, 'receipt of such presents, and in one of the informer, and the poetaster.". The his letters without date or address ocpretext, then, our author urges, for being curs the following mysterious phrase : à playwright in early life would seem to “ I will not promise to return you weight · have been for the bettering of his estate, for weight, but measure for measure.” | which was indeed meagre; together with Hereupon comes up the celebrated
* Bacon and Shakespeare. W. H. Smith. Lon- * Shakespeare's Works. Johnson, Steevens, Reed. don, 1857. P. 108.
Vol. I. p. 67. t Bacon's Works. Montagu. Vol. XII. p. 114. | Letters. Sir Tobie Matthew. London, 1660,