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Title: Shakespeare, Bacon, and the Great Unknown
Author: Lang, Andrew
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1912 Longmans, Green and Co. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

   [Picture: Shakespeare’s Monument at Stratford-on-Avon (1616–1623?)]

                          AND THE GREAT UNKNOWN

                                * * * * *

                               ANDREW LANG

                                * * * * *

                         WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS

                                * * * * *

                         LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
                       39, PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
                      NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

                           All rights reserved

                                * * * * *

                          HORACE HOWARD FURNESS
                             IN MEMORY OF AN
                               OLD PROMISE

                                * * * * *


IT is with some hesitation that I give my husband’s last book to the
world.  It was in type when he died, but he had no time to correct even
the first proofs, and doubtless he would have made many changes, if not
in his views at least in his expression of them.  Mr. Bartram has
verified the quotations and dates with infinite care, and for this he has
my warmest thanks.  For the rest I can but ask those who differ from the
author to remember the circumstances in which the work has been

                                                                  L. B. L.


           INTRODUCTION                                           xiii
       I.  THE BACONIAN AND ANTI-WILLIAN POSITIONS                   1
      II.  THE “SILENCE” ABOUT SHAKESPEARE                          25
      IV.  MR. COLLINS ON SHAKESPEARE’S LEARNING                    65
       V.  SHAKESPEARE, GENIUS, AND SOCIETY                         83
      VI.  THE COURTLY PLAYS: “LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST”               119
    VIII.  “THE SILENCE OF PHILIP HENSLOWE”                        153
       X.  “THE TRADITIONAL SHAKSPERE”                             193
      XI.  THE FIRST FOLIO                                         205
     XII.  BEN JONSON AND SHAKESPEARE                              235
    XIII.  THE PREOCCUPATIONS OF BACON                             271
           APPENDIX I.—“TROILUS AND CRESSIDA”                      293


1598.  The earliest title-page in which
Shakespeare’s name is given as the author of the

 _From_ J. O. HALLIWELL-PHILLIPPS’ _Outlines of the
                Life of Shakespeare_
SHAKSPEARE.”  From one of the Three Sheets of his
Will, dated _March_ 25, 1616.

  _From_ SIR SIDNEY LEE’S _Shakespeare’s Life and
 Work_.  _By permission of_ Messrs. SMITH, ELDER &

THE POET’S FATHER.  From a Deed of Conveyance,
dated _January_ 26, 1596

 _From_ J. O. HALLIWELL-PHILLIPPS’ _Outlines of the
                Life of Shakespeare_


_From_ J. O. HALLIWELL-PHILLIPPS’ _Outlines of the
Life of Shakespeare_
THE MONUMENT IN DUGDALE’S “HISTORY OF THE                          178

       _With permission of_ JOHN MURRAY, Esq.
THE CAREW MONUMENT IN STRATFORD CHURCH                        180, 181

FROM VERTUE’S ENGRAVING OF THE MONUMENT (1725)                     185

       _With permission of_ JOHN MURRAY, ESQ.

 _From_ J. O. HALLIWELL-PHILLIPPS’ _Outlines of the
                Life of Shakespeare_


THE theory that Francis Bacon was, in the main, the author of
“Shakespeare’s plays,” has now been for fifty years before the learned
world.  Its advocates have met with less support than they had reason to
expect.  Their methods, their logic, and their hypotheses closely
resemble those applied by many British and foreign scholars to Homer; and
by critics of the very Highest School to Holy Writ.  Yet the Baconian
theory is universally rejected in England by the professors and
historians of English literature; and generally by students who have no
profession save that of Letters.  The Baconians, however, do not lack the
countenance and assistance of highly distinguished persons, whose names
are famous where those of mere men of letters are unknown; and in circles
where the title of “Professor” is not duly respected.

The partisans of Bacon aver (or one of them avers) that “Lord Penzance,
Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Palmerston, Judge Webb, Judge Holmes (of
Kentucky, U.S.), Prince Bismarck, John Bright, and innumerable most
_thoughtful scholars eminent in many walks of life_, _and especially in
__the legal profession_ . . . ” have been Baconians, or, at least,
opposed to Will Shakspere’s authorship.  To these names of scholars I
must add that of my late friend, Samuel Clemens, D.Litt. of Oxford;
better known to many as Mark Twain.  Dr. Clemens was, indeed, no mean
literary critic; witness his epoch-making study of Prof. Dowden’s _Life
of Shelley_, while his researches into the biography of Jeanne d’Arc were
most conscientious.

With the deepest respect for the political wisdom and literary taste of
Lord Palmerston, Prince Bismarck, Lord Beaconsfield, and the late Mr.
John Bright; and with every desire to humble myself before the judicial
verdicts of Judges Holmes, Webb, and Lord Penzance; with sincere
admiration of my late friend, Dr. Clemens, I cannot regard them as, in
the first place and professionally, trained students of literary history.

They were no more specially trained students of Elizabethan literature
than myself; they were amateurs in this province, as I am an amateur, who
differ from all of them in opinion.  Difference of opinion concerning
points of literary history ought not to make “our angry passions rise.”
Yet this controversy has been extremely bitter.

I abstain from quoting the “sweetmeats,” in Captain MacTurk’s phrase,
which have been exchanged by the combatants.  Charges of ignorance and
monomania have been answered by charges of forgery, lying, “scandalous
literary dishonesty,” and even inaccuracy.  Now no mortal is infallibly
accurate, but we are all sane and “indifferent honest.”  There have been
forgeries in matters Shakespearean, alas, but not in connection with the
Baconian controversy.

It is an argument of the Baconians, and generally of the impugners of
good Will’s authorship of the plays vulgarly attributed to him, that the
advocates of William Shakspere, Gent, as author of the plays, differ like
the Kilkenny cats among themselves on many points.  All do not believe,
with Mr. J. C. Collins, that Will knew Sophocles, Euripides, and Æschylus
(but not Aristophanes) as well as Mr. Swinburne did, or knew them at
all—for that matter.  Mr. Pollard differs very widely from Sir Sidney Lee
on points concerning the First Folio and the Quartos: my sympathies are
with Mr. Pollard.  Few, if any, partisans of Will agree with Mrs. Stopes
(herself no Baconian) about the history of the Stratford monument of the
poet.  About Will’s authorship of _Titus Andronicus_, and _Henry VI_,
Part I, the friends of Will, like the friends of Bacon, are at odds among
themselves.  These and other divergencies of opinion cause the Baconians
to laugh, as if _they_ were a harmonious circle . . . !  For the Baconian
camp is not less divided against itself than the camp of the
“Stratfordians.”  Not all Baconians hold that Bacon was the legitimate
son of “that Imperial votaress” Queen Elizabeth.  Not all believe in the
Cryptogram of Mr. Ignatius Donnelly, or in any other cryptograms.  Not
all maintain that Bacon, in the Sonnets, was inspired by a passion for
the Earl of Essex, for Queen Elizabeth, or for an early miniature of
himself.  Not all regard him as the author of the plays of Kit Marlowe.
Not all suppose him to be a Rosicrucian, who possibly died at the age of
a hundred and six, or, perhaps, may be “still running.”  Not all aver
that he wrote thirteen plays before 1593.  But one party holds that, in
the main, Will was the author of the plays, while the other party votes
for Bacon—or for Bungay, a Great Unknown.  I use Bungay as an endearing
term for the mysterious being who was the Author if Francis Bacon was
not.  Friar Bungay was the rival of Friar Bacon, as the Unknown (if he
was not Francis Bacon) is the rival of “the inventor of Inductive

I could never have expected that I should take a part in this
controversy; but acquaintance with _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_
(503 pp.), (1908), and later works of Mr. G. G. Greenwood, M.P., has
tempted me to enter the lists.

Mr. Greenwood is worth fighting; he is cunning of fence, is learned (and
I cannot conceal my opinion that Mr. Donnelly and Judge Holmes were
rather ignorant).  He is not over “the threshold of Eld” (as were Judge
Webb and Lord Penzance when they took up Shakespearean criticism).  His
knowledge of Elizabethan literature is vastly superior to mine, for I
speak merely, in Matthew Arnold’s words, as “a belletristic trifler.”

Moreover, Mr. Greenwood, as a practising barrister, is a judge of legal
evidence; and, being a man of sense, does not “hold a brief for Bacon” as
the author of the Shakespearean plays and poems, and does not value
Baconian cryptograms.  In the following chapters I make endeavours,
conscientious if fallible, to state the theory of Mr. Greenwood.  It is a
negative theory.  He denies that Will Shakspere (or Shaxbere, or
Shagspur, and so on) was the author of the plays and poems.  Some other
party was, _in the main_, with other hands, the author.  Mr. Greenwood
cannot, or does not, offer a guess as to who this ingenious Somebody was.
He does not affirm, and he does not deny, that Bacon had a share, greater
or less, in the undertaking.

In my brief tractate I have not room to consider every argument; to
traverse every field.  In philology I am all unlearned, and cannot
pretend to discuss the language of Shakespeare, any more than I can
analyse the language of Homer into proto-Arcadian and Cyprian, and so on.
Again, I cannot pretend to have an opinion, based on internal evidence,
about the genuine Shakespearean character of such plays as _Titus
Andronicus_, _Henry VI_, Part I, and _Troilus and Cressida_.  About them
different views are held _within_ both camps.

I am no lawyer or naturalist (as Partridge said, _Non omnia possumus
omnes_), and cannot imagine why our Author is so accurate in his frequent
use of terms of law—if he be Will; and so totally at sea in natural
history—if he be Francis, who “took all knowledge for his province.”

How can a layman pretend to deal with Shakespeare’s legal attainments,
after he has read the work of the learned Recorder of Bristol, Mr.
Castle, K.C.?  To his legal mind it seems that in some of Will’s plays he
had the aid of an expert in law, and then his technicalities were
correct.  In other plays he had no such tutor, and then he was sadly to
seek in his legal jargon.  I understand Mr. Greenwood to disagree on this
point.  Mr. Castle says, “I think Shakespeare would have had no
difficulty in getting aid from several sources.  There is therefore no
_prima facie_ reason why we should suppose the information was supplied
by Bacon.”

Of course there is not!

“In fact, there are some reasons why one should attribute the legal
assistance, say, to Coke, rather than to Bacon.”

The truth is, that Bacon seems not to have been lawyer enough for Will’s
purposes.  “We have no reason to believe that Bacon was particularly well
read in the technicalities of our law; he never seems to have seriously
followed his profession.” {0a}

Now we have Mr. Greenwood’s testimonial in favour of Mr. Castle, “Who
really does know something about law.” {0b}  Mr. Castle thinks that Bacon
really did not know enough about law, and suggests Sir Edward Coke, of
all human beings, as conceivably Will’s “coach” on legal technicalities.
Perhaps Will consulted the Archbishop of Canterbury on theological

_Que sçais je_?  In some plays, says Mr. Castle, Will’s law is all right,
in other plays it is all wrong.  As to Will’s law, when Mr. Greenwood and
Mr. Castle differ, a layman dare not intervene.

Concerning legend and tradition about our Will, it seems that, in each
case, we should do our best to trace the _Quellen_, to discover the
original sources, and the steps by which the tale arrived at its late
recorders in print; and then each man’s view as to the veracity of the
story will rest on his sense of probability; and on his bias, his wish to
believe or to disbelieve.

There exists, I believe, only one personal anecdote of Will, the actor,
and on it the Baconians base an argument against the contemporary
recognition of him as a dramatic author.  I take the criticism of Mr.
Greenwood (who is not a Baconian).  One John Manningham,
Barrister-at-Law, “a well-educated and cultured man,” notes in his Diary
(February 2, 1601) that “at our feast we had a play called Twelve Night
or What you Will, much like the Comedy of Errors, or Menæchmi in Plautus,
but most like and near to that in Italian called _Inganni_.”  He confides
to his Diary the tricks played on Malvolio as “a good practice.” {0c}
That is all.

About the authorship he says nothing: perhaps he neither knew nor cared
who the author was.  In our day the majority of people who tell me about
a play which they have seen, cannot tell me the name of the author.  Yet
it is usually printed on the playbill, though in modest type.  The public
does not care a straw about the author’s name, unless he be deservedly
famous for writing letters to the newspapers on things in general; for
his genius as an orator; his enthusiasm as a moralist, or in any other
extraneous way.  Dr. Forman in his queer account of the plot of “Mack
Beth” does not allude to the name of the author (April 20, 1610).
_Twelfth Night_ was not published till 1623, in the Folio: there was no
quarto to enlighten Manningham about the author’s name.  We do not hear
of printed playbills, with author’s names inserted, at that period.  It
seems probable that occasional playgoers knew and cared no more about
authors than they do at present.  The world of the wits, the critics
(such as Francis Meres), poets, playwrights, and players, did know and
care about the authors; apparently Manningham did not.  But he heard a
piquant anecdote of two players and (March 13, 1601) inserted it in his

Shakespeare once anticipated Richard Burbage at an amorous tryst with a
citizen’s wife.  Burbage had, by the way, been playing the part of
Richard III.  While Will was engaged in illicit dalliance, the message
was brought (what a moment for bringing messages!) that Richard III was
at the door, and Will “caused return to be made that William the
Conqueror was before Richard III.  _Shakespeare’s name William_.”  (My
italics.)  Mr. Greenwood argues that if “Shakspere the player was known
to the world as the author of the plays of Shakespeare, it does seem
extremely remarkable” that Manningham should have thought it needful to
add “Shakespeare’s name William.” {0d}

But _was_ “Shakspere,” or any man, “known to the world as the author of
the plays of Shakespeare”?  No! for Mr. Greenwood writes, “nobody,
outside a very small circle, troubled his head as to who the dramatist or
dramatists might be.” {0e}  To that “very small circle” we have no reason
to suppose that Manningham belonged, despite his remarkable opinion that
_Twelfth Night_ resembles the _Menæchmi_.  Consequently, it is _not_
“extremely remarkable” that Manningham wrote “Shakespeare’s name
William,” to explain to posterity the joke about “William the Conqueror,”
instead of saying, “the brilliant author of the Twelfth Night play which
so much amused me at our feast a few weeks ago.” {0f}  “Remarkable” out
of all hooping it would have been had Manningham written in the style of
Mr. Greenwood.  But Manningham apparently did not “trouble his head as to
who the dramatist or dramatists might be.”  “Nobody, outside a very small
circle,” _did_ trouble his poor head about that point.  Yet Mr. Greenwood
thinks “it does seem extremely remarkable” that Manningham did not
mention the author.

Later, on the publication of the Folio (1623), the world seems to have
taken more interest in literary matters.  Mr. Greenwood says that then
while “the multitude” would take Ben Jonson’s noble panegyric on
Shakespeare as a poet “_au pied de la lettre_,” “the enlightened few
would recognise that it had an esoteric meaning.” {0g}  Then, it seems,
“the world”—the “multitude”—regarded the actor as the author.  Only “the
enlightened few” were aware that when Ben _said_ “Shakespeare,” and “Swan
of Avon,” he _meant_—somebody else.

Quite different inferences are drawn from the same facts by persons of
different mental conditions.  For example, in 1635 or 1636, Cuthbert
Burbage, brother of Richard, the famous actor, Will’s comrade, petitioned
Lord Pembroke, then Lord Chamberlain, for consideration in a quarrel
about certain theatres.  Telling the history of the houses, he mentions
that the Burbages “to ourselves joined those deserving men, Shakspere,
Heminge, Condell, Phillips and others.”  Cuthbert is arguing his case
solely from the point of the original owners or lease-holders of the
houses, and of the well-known actors to whom they joined themselves.
Judge Webb and Mr. Greenwood think that “it does indeed seem strange . . .
that the proprietor[s] of the playhouses which had been made famous by
the production of the Shakespearean plays, should, in 1635—twelve years
after the publication of the great Folio—describe their reputed author to
the survivor of the Incomparable Pair, as merely a ‘man-player’ and ‘a
deserving man.’”  Why did he not remind the Lord Chamberlain that this
“deserving man” was the author of all these famous dramas?  Was it
because he was aware that the Earl of Pembroke “knew better than that”?

These arguments are regarded by some Baconians as proof positive of their

Cuthbert Burbage, in 1635 or 1636, did not remind the Earl of what the
Earl knew very well, that the Folio had been dedicated, in 1623, to him
and his brother, by Will’s friends, Heminge and Condell, as they had been
patrons of the late William Shakspere and admirers of his plays.  The
terms of this dedication are to be cited in the text, later.  _We_ all
_now_ would have reminded the Earl of what he very well knew.  Cuthbert
did not.

The intelligence of Cuthbert Burbage may be gauged by anyone who will
read pp. 481–484 in _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, by
the late Mr. Charles Elton, Q.C., of White Staunton.  Cuthbert was a
puzzle-pated old boy.  The silence as to Will’s authorship on the part of
this muddle-headed old Cuthbert, in 1635–36, cannot outweigh the explicit
and positive public testimony to his authorship, signed by his friends
and fellow-actors in 1623.

Men believe what they may; but I prefer positive evidence for the
affirmative to negative evidence from silence, the silence of Cuthbert

One may read through Mr. Greenwood’s three books and note the engaging
varieties of his views; they vary as suits his argument; but he is
unaware of it, or can justify his varyings.  Thus, in 1610, one John
Davies wrote rhymes in which he speaks of “our English Terence, Mr. Will
Shakespeare”; “good Will.”  In his period patriotic English critics
called a comic dramatist “the English Terence,” or “the English Plautus,”
precisely as American critics used to call Mr. Bryant “the American
Wordsworth,” or Cooper “the American Scott”; and as Scots called the Rev.
Mr. Thomson “the Scottish Turner.”  Somewhere, I believe, exists “the
Belgian Shakespeare.”

Following this practice, Davies had to call Will either “our English
Terence,” or “our English Plautus.”  Aristophanes would not have been
generally recognised; and Will was no more like one of these ancient
authors than another.  Thus Davies was apt to choose either Plautus or
Terence; it was even betting which he selected.  But he chanced to choose
Terence; and this is “curious,” and suggests suspicions to Mr.
Greenwood—and the Baconians.  They are so very full of suspicions!

It does not suit the Baconians, or Mr. Greenwood, to find contemporary
recognition of Will as an author. {0i}  Consequently, Mr. Greenwood finds
Davies’s “curious, and at first sight, inappropriate comparison of
‘Shake-speare’ to Terence worthy of remark, for Terence is the very
author whose name is alleged to have been used as a mask-name, or _nom de
plume_, for the writings of great men who wished to keep the fact of
their authorship concealed.”

Now Davies felt bound to bring in _some_ Roman parallel to Shakespeare;
and had only the choice of Terence or Plautus.  Meres (1598) used
Plautus; Davies used Terence.  Mr. Greenwood {0j} shows us that Plautus
would not do.  “Could _he_” (Shakespeare) “write only of courtesans and
_cocottes_, and not of ladies highly born, cultured, and refined? . . . ”

“The supposed parallel” (Plautus and Shakespeare) “breaks down at every
point.”  Thus, on Mr. Greenwood’s showing, Plautus could not serve
Davies, or should not serve him, in his search for a Roman parallel to
“good Will.”  But Mr. Greenwood also writes, “if he” (Shakespeare) “was
to be likened to a Latin comedian, surely Plautus is the writer with whom
he should have been compared.” {0k}  Yet Plautus was the very man who
cannot be used as a parallel to Shakespeare.  Of course no Roman nor any
other comic dramatist closely resembles the _author_ of _As You Like It_.
They who selected either Plautus or Terence meant no more than that both
were celebrated comic dramatists.  Plautus was no parallel to Will.  Yet
“surely Plautus is the author to whom he should have been compared” by
Davies, says Mr. Greenwood.  If Davies tried Plautus, the comparison was
bad; if Terence, it was “curious,” as Terence was absurdly accused of
being the “_nom de plume_” of some great “concealed poets” of Rome.
“From all the known facts about Terence,” says a Baconian critic (who has
consulted Smith’s _Biographical Dictionary_), “it is an almost
unavoidable inference that John Davies made the comparison to Shakspere
because he knew of the point common to both cases.”  The common point is
taken to be, not that both men were famous comic dramatists, but that
Roman literary gossips said, and that Baconians and Mr. Greenwood say,
that “Terence” was said to be a “mask-name,” and that “Shakespeare” is a
mask-name.  Of the second opinion there is not a hint in literature of
the time of good Will.

What surprises one most in this controversy is that men eminent in the
legal profession should be “anti-Shakesperean,” if not overtly Baconian.
For the evidence for the contemporary faith in Will’s authorship is all
positive; from his own age comes not a whisper of doubt, not even a
murmur of surprise.  It is incredible to me that his fellow-actors and
fellow-playwrights should have been deceived, especially when they were
such men as Ben Jonson and Tom Heywood.  One would expect lawyers, of all
people, to have been most impatient of the surprising attempts made to
explain away Ben Jonson’s testimony, by aid, first, of quite a false
analogy (Scott’s denial of his own authorship of his novels), and,
secondly, by the suppression of such a familiar fact as the constant
inconsistency of Ben’s judgments of his contemporaries in literature.
Mr. Greenwood must have forgotten the many examples of this
inconsistency; but I have met a Baconian author who knew nothing of the
fact.  Mr. Greenwood, it is proper to say, does not seem to be satisfied
that he has solved what he calls “the Jonsonian riddle.”  Really, there
is no riddle.  About Will, as about other authors, his contemporaries and
even his friends, on occasion, Ben “spoke with two voices,” now in terms
of hyperbolical praise, now in carping tones of censure.  That is the
obvious solution of “the Jonsonian riddle.”

I must apologise if I have in places spelled the name of the Swan of Avon
“Shakespeare” where Mr. Greenwood would write “Shakspere,” and _vice
versa_.  He uses “Shakespeare” where he means the Author; “Shakspere”
where he means Will; and is vexed with some people who write the name of
Will as “Shakespeare.”  As Will, in the opinion of a considerable portion
of the human race, and of myself, _was_ the Author, one is apt to write
his name as “Shakespeare” in the usual way.  But difficult cases occur,
as in quotations, and in conditional sentences.  By any spelling of the
name I always mean the undivided personality of “Him who sleeps by Avon.”


TILL the years 1856–7 no voice was raised against the current belief
about Shakespeare (1564–1616).  He was the author in the main of the
plays usually printed as his.  In some cases other authors, one or more,
may have had fingers in his dramas; in other cases, Shakespeare may have
“written over” and transfigured earlier plays, of himself and of others;
he may have contributed, more or less, to several plays mainly by other
men.  Separately printed dramas published during his time carry his name
on their title-pages, but are not included in the first collected edition
of his dramas, “The First Folio,” put forth by two of his friends and
fellow-actors, in 1623, seven years after his death.

On all these matters did commentators, critics, and antiquarians for long
dispute; but none denied that the actor, Will Shakspere (spelled as
heaven pleased), was in the main the author of most of the plays of 1623,
and the sole author of _Venus and Adonis_, _Lucrece_, and the Sonnets.

Even now, in England at least, it would be perhaps impossible to find one
special and professed student of Elizabethan literature, and of the
classical and European literatures, who does not hold by the ancient
belief, the belief of Shakespeare’s contemporaries and intimates, the
belief that he was, in the sense explained above, the author of the

But ours is not a generation to be overawed by “Authority” (as it is
called).  A small but eager company of scholars have convinced themselves
that Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespearean plays.  That is the point of
agreement among these enthusiasts: points of difference are numerous:
some very wild little sects exist.  Meanwhile multitudes of earnest and
intelligent men and women, having read notices in newspapers of the
Baconian books, or heard of them at lectures and tea-parties, disbelieve
in the authorship of “the Stratford rustic,” and look down on the
faithful of Will Shakespere with extreme contempt.

From the Baconians we receive a plain straightforward theory, “Bacon
wrote Shakespeare,” as one of their own prophets has said. {4a}  Since we
have plenty of evidence for Bacon’s life and occupations during the
period of Shakespearean poetic activity, we can compare what he was doing
as a man, a student, a Crown lawyer, a pleader in the Courts, a political
pamphleteer, essayist, courtier, active member of Parliament, and so on,
with what he is said to have been doing—by the Baconians; namely, writing
two dramas yearly.

But there is another “Anti-Willian” theory, which would dethrone Will
Shakspere, and put but a Shadow in his place.  Conceive a “concealed
poet,” of high social position, contemporary with Bacon and Shakespeare.
Let him be so fond of the Law that he cannot keep legal “shop” out of his
love Sonnets even.  Make him a courtier; a statesman; a philosopher; a
scholar who does not blench even from the difficult Latin of Ovid and
Plautus.  Let this almost omniscient being possess supreme poetic genius,
extensive classical attainments, and a tendency to make false quantities.
Then conceive him to live through the reigns of “Eliza and our James,”
without leaving in history, in science, in society, in law, in politics
or scholarship, a single trace of his existence.  He left nothing but the
poems and plays usually attributed to Will.  As to the date of his
decease, we only know that it must necessarily have been later than the
composition of the last genuine Shakespearean play—for this paragon wrote

Such is the Being who occupies, in the theory of the non-Baconian, _but
not Anti-Baconian_, Anti-Willians, the intellectual throne filled, in the
Will Shakespeare theory, by Will; and in the Baconian, by Bacon—two kings
of Brentford on one throne.

We are to be much engaged by the form of this theory which is held by Mr.
G. G. Greenwood in his _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_.  In attempting
to explain what he means I feel that I am skating on very thin ice.
Already, in two volumes (_In Re Shakespeare_, 1909, and _The Vindicators
of Shakespeare_), Mr. Greenwood has accused his critics of frequently
misconceiving and misrepresenting his ideas: wherefore I also tremble.  I
am perfectly confident in saying that he “holds no brief for the
Baconians.”  He is _not_ a Baconian.  His position is negative merely:
Will of Stratford is _not_ the author of the Shakespearean plays and
poems.  Then who is?  Mr. Greenwood believes that work by an unknown
number of hands exists in the plays first published all together in 1623.
Here few will differ from him.  But, setting aside this aspect of the
case, Mr. Greenwood appears to me to believe in an entity named
“Shakespeare,” or “the Author,” who is the predominating partner; though
Mr. Greenwood does not credit him with all the plays in the Folio of 1623
(nor, perhaps, with the absolute entirety of any given play).  “The
Author” or “Shakespeare” is not a syndicate (like the Homer of many
critics), but an individual human being, apparently of the male sex.  As
to the name by which he was called on earth, Mr. Greenwood is “agnostic.”
He himself is not Anti-Baconian.  He does not oust Bacon and put the
Unknown in his place.  He neither affirms nor denies that Bacon may have
contributed, more or less, to the bulk of Shakespearean work.  To put it
briefly: Mr. Greenwood backs the field against the favourite (our Will),
and Bacon _may_ be in the field.  If he has any part in the whole I
suspect that it is “the lion’s part,” but Mr. Greenwood does not commit
himself to anything positive.  We shall find (if I am not mistaken) that
Mr. Greenwood regards the hypothesis of the Baconians as “an extremely
reasonable one,” {7a} and that for his purposes it would be an extremely
serviceable one, if not even essential.  For as Bacon was a genius to
whose potentialities one can set no limit, he is something to stand by,
whereas we cannot easily believe—I cannot believe—that the actual
“Author,” the “Shakespeare” lived and died and left no trace of his
existence except his share in the works called Shakespearean.

However, the idea of the Great Unknown has, for its partisans, this
advantage, that as the life of the august Shade is wholly unknown, we
cannot, as in Bacon’s case, show how he was occupied while the plays were
being composed.  He _must_, however, have been much at Court, we learn,
and deep in the mysteries of legal terminology.  Was he Sir Edward Coke?
Was he James VI and I?

It is hard, indeed, to set forth the views of the Baconians and of the
“Anti-Willians” in a shape which will satisfy them.  The task, especially
when undertaken by an unsympathetic person, is perhaps impossible.  I can
only summarise their views in my own words as far as I presume to
understand them.  I conceive the Baconians to cry that “the world
possesses a mass of transcendent literature, attributed to a man named
William _Shakespeare_.”  Of a man named William _Shakspere_ (there are
many varieties of spelling) we certainly know that he was born (1564) and
bred in Stratford-on-Avon, a peculiarly dirty, stagnant, and ignorant
country town.  There is absolutely no evidence that he (or any Stratford
boy of his standing) ever went to Stratford school.  His father, his
mother, and his daughter could not write, but, in signing, made their
marks; and if he could write, which some of us deny, he wrote a terribly
bad hand.  As far as late traditions of seventy or eighty years after his
death inform us, he was a butcher’s apprentice; and also a schoolmaster
“who knew Latin pretty well”; and a poacher.  He made, before he was
nineteen, a marriage tainted with what Meg Dods calls “ante-nup.”  He
early had three children, whom he deserted, as he deserted his wife.  He
came to London, we do not know when (about 1582, according to the “guess”
of an antiquary of 1680); held horses at the door of a theatre (so
tradition says), was promoted to the rank of “servitor” (whatever that
may mean), became an actor (a vagabond under the Act), and by 1594 played
before Queen Elizabeth.  He put money in his pocket (heaven knows how),
for by 1597 he was bargaining for the best house in his native
_bourgade_.  He obtained, by nefarious genealogical falsehoods (too
common, alas, in heraldry), the right to bear arms; and went on acting.
In 1610–11 (?) he retired to his native place.  He never took any
interest in his unprinted manuscript plays; though rapacious, he never
troubled himself about his valuable copyrights; never dreamed of making a
collected edition of his works.  He died in 1616, probably of drink
taken.  Legal documents prove him to have been a lender of small sums, an
avid creditor, a would-be encloser of commons.  In his will he does not
bequeath or mention any books, manuscripts, copyrights, and so forth.  It
is utterly incredible, then, that this man wrote the poems and plays, so
rich in poetry, thought, scholarship, and knowledge, which are attributed
to “William Shakespeare.”  These must be the works of “a concealed poet,”
a philosopher, a courtier moving in the highest circles, a supreme
legist, and, necessarily, a great poet, and student of the classics.

No known person of the age but one, Bacon, was a genius, a legist, a
scholar, a great poet, and brilliant courtier, with all the other
qualifications so the author of the plays either was Francis Bacon—or
some person unknown, who was in all respects equally distinguished, but
kept his light under a bushel.  Consequently the name “William
Shakespeare” is a pseudonym or “pen-name” wisely adopted by Bacon (or the
other man) as early as 1593, at a time when William Shakspere was
notoriously an actor in the company which produced the plays of the
genius styling himself “William Shakespeare.”

Let me repeat that, to the best of my powers of understanding and of
expression, and in my own words, so as to misquote nobody, I have now
summarised the views of the Baconians _sans phrase_, and of the more
cautious or more credulous “Anti-Willians,” as I may style the party who
deny to Will the actor any share in the authorship of the plays, but do
not overtly assign it to Francis Bacon.

Beyond all comparison the best work on the Anti-Willian side of the
controversy is _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, by Mr. G. G. Greenwood
(see my Introduction).  To this volume I turn for the exposition of the
theory that “Will Shakspere” (with many other spellings) is an actor from
the country—a man of very scanty education, in all probability, and
wholly destitute of books; while “William Shakespeare,” or with the
hyphen, “Shake-speare,” is a “_nom de plume_” adopted by the Great
Unknown “concealed poet.”

When I use the word “author” here, I understand Mr. Greenwood to mean
that in the plays called “Shakespearean” there exists work from many
pens: owing to the curious literary manners, methods, and ethics of
dramatic writing in, say, 1589–1611.  In my own poor opinion this is
certainly true of several plays in the first collected edition, “The
Folio,” produced seven years after Will’s death, namely in 1623.  These
curious “collective” methods of play-writing are to be considered later.

Matters become much more perplexing when we examine the theory that
“William Shake-speare” (with or without the hyphen), on the title-pages
of plays, or when signed to the dedications of poems, is the chosen
pen-name, or “_nom de plume_,” of Bacon or of the Unknown.

Here I must endeavour to summarise what Mr. Greenwood has written {11a}
on the name of the actor, and the “_nom de plume_” of the unknown author
who, by the theory, was not the actor.  Let me first confess my firm
belief that there is no cause for all the copious writing about the
spellings “Shakespeare” or “Shake-speare”—as indicating the true but
“concealed poet”—and “Shakspere” (&c.), as indicating the Warwickshire
rustic.  At Stratford and in Warwickshire the clan-name was spelled in
scores of ways, was spelled in different ways within a single document.
If the actor himself uniformly wrote “Shakspere” (it seems that we have
but five signatures), he was accustomed to seeing the name spelled
variously in documents concerning him and his affairs.  In London the
printers aimed at a kind of uniformity, “Shakespeare” or “Shake-speare”:
and even if he wrote his own name otherwise, to him it was indifferent.
Lawyers and printers might choose their own mode of spelling—and there is
no more in the matter.

I must now summarise briefly, in my own words, save where quotations are
indicated in the usual way, the results of Mr. Greenwood’s researches.
“The family of William Shakspere of Stratford” (perhaps it were safer to
say “the members of his name”) “wrote their name in many different
ways—some sixty, I believe, have been noted . . . but the form
‘Shakespeare’ seems never to have been employed by them”; and, according
to Mr. Spedding, “Shakspere of Stratford never so wrote his name ‘in any
known case.’”  (According to many Baconians he never wrote his name in
his life.)  On the other hand, the dedications of _Venus and Adonis_
(1593) and of _Lucrece_ (1594) are inscribed “William Shakespeare”
(without the hyphen).  In 1598, the title-page of _Love’s Labour’s Lost_
“bore the name W. Shakespere,” while in the same year _Richard II_ and
_Richard III_ bear “William Shake-speare,” with the hyphen (not without
it, as in the two dedications by the Author).  “The name which appears in
the body of the conveyance and of the mortgage bearing” (the actor’s)
“signature is ‘Shakespeare,’ while ‘Shackspeare’ appears in the will,
prepared, as we must presume, by or under the directions of Francis
Collyns, the Stratford solicitor, who was one of the witnesses thereto”
(and received a legacy of £13, 6_s._ 8_d._).

  [Picture: Copy of the title-page of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” 1598.  The
earliest title-page in which Shakespeare’s name is given as the author of
    the work.  From J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps’ Outlines of the Life of

Thus, at Stratford even, the name was spelled, in legal papers, as it is
spelled in the two dedications, and in most of the title-pages—and also
is spelled otherwise, as “Shackspeare.”  In March 1594 the actor’s name
is spelled “Shakespeare” in Treasury accounts.  The legal and the
literary and Treasury spellings (and conveyances and mortgages and wills
are _not_ literature) are Shakespeare, Shackspeare, Shake-speare,
Shakespere—all four are used, but we must regard the actor as never
signing “Shakespeare” in any of these varieties of spelling—if sign he
ever did; at all events he is not known to have used the _a_ in the last

I now give the essence of Mr. Greenwood’s words {13a} concerning the _nom
de plume_ of the “concealed poet,” whoever he was.

“And now a word upon the name ‘Shakespeare.’  That in this form, and more
especially with a hyphen, Shake-speare, the word makes an excellent _nom
de plume_ is obvious.  As old Thomas Fuller remarks, the name suggests
_Martial_ in its warlike sound, ‘Hasti-vibrans or Shake-speare.’  It is
of course further suggestive of Pallas Minerva, the goddess of Wisdom,
for Pallas also was a spear-shaker (Pallas ὰπὸ του πάλλειν τὸ δόρυ); and
all will remember Ben Jonson’s verses . . . ” on Shakespeare’s
“true-filed lines”—

    “In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
    As brandished at the eyes of ignorance.”

There is more about Pallas in book-titles (to which additions can easily
be made), and about “Jonson’s Cri-spinus or Cri-spinas,” but perhaps we
have now the gist of Mr. Greenwood’s remarks on the “excellent _nom de
plume_” (_cf._ pp. 31–37.  On the whole of this, _cf. The Shakespeare
Problem Restated_, pp. 293–295; a _nom de plume_ called a “pseudonym,”
pp. 307, 312; Shakespeare “a mask name,” p. 328; a “pseudonym,” p. 330;
“_nom de plume_,” p. 335).

Now why was the “_nom de plume_” or “pseudonym” “William Shakespeare” “an
excellent _nom de plume_” for a concealed author, courtier, lawyer,
scholar, and so forth?  If “Shakespeare” suggested Pallas Athene, goddess
of wisdom and of many other things, and so was appropriate, why add

In 1593, when the “pseudonym” first appears in _Venus and Adonis_, a
country actor whose name, in legal documents—presumably drawn up by or
for his friend, Francis Collyns at Stratford—is written “William
Shakespeare,” was before the town as an actor in the leading company,
that of the Lord Chamberlain.  This company produced the plays some of
which, by 1598, bear “W. Shakespere,” or “William Shakespeare” on their
title-pages.  Thus, even if the actor habitually spelled his name
“Shakspere,” “William Shakespeare” was, practically (on the Baconian
theory), not only a pseudonym of one man, a poet, but also the real name
of another man, a well-known actor, who was _not_ the “concealed poet.”

“William Shakespeare” or “Shakespere” was thus, in my view, the ideally
worst pseudonym which a poet who wished to be “concealed” could possibly
have had the fatuity to select.  His plays and poems would be, as they
were, universally attributed to the actor, who is represented as a person
conspicuously incapable of writing them.  With Mr. Greenwood’s arguments
against the certainty of this attribution I deal later.

Had the actor been a man of rare wit, and of good education and wide
reading, the choice of name might have been judicious.  A “concealed
poet” of high social standing, with a strange fancy for rewriting the
plays of contemporary playwrights, might obtain the manuscript copies
from their owners, the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, through that
knowledgeable, witty, and venal member of the company, Will Shakspere.
He might then rewrite and improve them, more or less, as it was his whim
to do.  The actor might make fair copies in his own hand, give them to
his company, and say that the improved works were from his own pen and
genius.  The lie might pass, but only if the actor, in his life and witty
talk, seemed very capable of doing what he pretended to have done.  But
if the actor, according to some Baconians, could not write even his own
name, he was impossible as a mask for the poet.  He was also impossible,
I think, if he were what Mr. Greenwood describes him to be.

Mr. Greenwood, in his view of the actor as he was when he came to London,
does not deny to him the gift of being able to sign his name.  But, if he
were educated at Stratford Free School (of which there is no documentary
record), according to Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps “he was removed from school
long before the usual age,” “in all probability” when “he was about
thirteen” (an age at which some boys, later well known, went up to their
universities).  If we send him to school at seven or so, “it appears that
he could only have enjoyed such advantages as it may be supposed to have
provided for a period of five or six years at the outside.  He was then
withdrawn, and, as it seems, put to calf-slaughtering.” {16a}

What the advantages may have been we try to estimate later.

Mr. Greenwood, with Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, thinks that Will “could have
learned but little there.  No doubt boys at Elizabethan grammar schools,
if they remained long enough, had a good deal of Latin driven into them.
Latin, indeed, was the one subject that was taught; and an industrious
boy who had gone through the course and attained to the higher classes
would generally be able to write fair Latin prose.  But he would learn
very little else” (except to write fair Latin prose?).  “What we now call
‘culture’ certainly did not enter into the ‘curriculum,’ nor ‘English,’
nor modern languages, nor ‘literature.’” {17a}  Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps
says that “removed prematurely from school, residing with illiterate
relatives in a bookless neighbourhood, thrown into the midst of
occupations adverse to scholastic progress—it is difficult to believe
that when he first left Stratford he was not all but destitute of
polished accomplishments.” {17b}  Mr. Greenwood adds the apprenticeship
to a butcher or draper, but doubts the poaching, and the frequent
whippings and imprisonments, as in the story told by the Rev. R. Davies
in 1708. {17c}

That this promising young man, “when he came to London, spoke the
Warwickshire dialect or _patois_ is, then, as certain as anything can be
that is incapable of mathematical proof.” {17d}  “Here is the young
Warwickshire provincial . . . ” {17e} producing, apparently five or six
years after his arrival in town, _Venus and Adonis_ . . . “Is it
conceivable that this was the work of the Stratford Player of whom we
know so little, but of whom we know so much too much?  If so we have here
a veritable sixteenth-century miracle.” {17f}  Moreover, “our great
supposed poet and dramatist had at his death neither book nor manuscript
in his possession, or to which he was legally entitled, or in which he
had any interest whatever.” {17g}

If it be not conceivable now that the rustic speaking in a _patois_ could
write _Venus and Adonis_, manifestly it was inconceivable in 1593, when
_Venus and Adonis_ was signed “William Shakespeare.”  No man who knew the
actor (as described) could believe that he was the author, but there does
not exist the most shadowy hint proving that the faintest doubt was
thrown on the actor’s authorship; ignorant as he was, bookless, and rude
of speech.  For such a Will as Mr. Greenwood describes to persuade the
literary and dramatic world of his age that he _did_ write the plays,
would have been a miracle.  Consequently Mr. Greenwood has to try to
persuade us that there is no sufficient evidence that Will _did_
persuade, say Ben Jonson, of his authorship and we shall see whether or
not he works this twentieth-century miracle of persuasion.

Of course if Will were unable to write even his name, as an enthusiastic
Baconian asserts, Mr. Greenwood sees that Will could not easily pass for
the Author. {18a}  But his own bookless actor with a _patois_ seems to
him, as author of _Venus and Adonis_, almost inconceivable.  Yet, despite
Will’s bookless rusticity, this poem with _Lucrece_, which displays
knowledge of a work of Ovid not translated into English by 1593, was
regarded as his own.  I must suppose, therefore, that Will was _not_
manifestly so ignorant of Latin as Mr. Greenwood thinks.  “I think it
highly probable,” says this critic, “that he attended the Grammar School
at Stratford” (where nothing but Latin was taught) “for four or five
years, and that, later in life, after some years in London, he was
probably able to ‘bumbast out a line,’ and perhaps to pose as ‘Poet-Ape
that would be thought our chief.’  Nay, I am not at all sure that he
would not have been capable of collaborating with such a man as George
Wilkins, and perhaps of writing quite as well as he, if not even better.
But it does not follow from this that he was the author either of _Venus
and Adonis_ or of _Hamlet_.” {19a}

Nothing follows from all this: we merely see that, in Mr. Greenwood’s
private opinion, the actor might write even better than George Wilkins,
but could not write _Venus and Adonis_.  Will, therefore, though
bookless, is not debarred here from the pursuits of literature, in
partnership with Wilkins.  We have merely the critic’s opinion that Will
could not write _Hamlet_, even if, like Wordsworth, “he had the mind,”
even if the gods had made him more poetical than Wilkins.

Again, “he had had but little schooling; he had ‘small Latin and less
Greek’” (as Ben Jonson truly says), “but he was a good _Johannes
Factotum_; he could arrange a scene, and, when necessary, ‘bumbast out a
blank verse.’” {19b}

The “_Johannes Factotum_,” who could “bumbast out a blank verse,” is
taken from Robert Greene’s hackneyed attack on an actor-poet,
“Shake-scene,” published in 1592.  “Poet-Ape that would be thought our
chief,” is from an epigram on an actor-poet by Ben Jonson (1601–16?).  If
the allusions by Greene and Jonson are to our Will, he, by 1592, had a
literary ambition so towering that he thought his own work in the new art
of dramatic blank verse was equal to that of Marlowe (not to speak of
Wilkins), and Greene reckoned him a dangerous rival to three of his
playwright friends, of whom Marlowe is one, apparently.

If Jonson’s “Poet-Ape” be meant for Will, by 1601 Will would fain “be
thought the chief” of contemporary dramatists.  His vanity soared far
above George Wilkins!  Greene’s phrases and Jonson’s are dictated by
spite, jealousy, and envy; and from them a true view of the work of the
man whom they envy, the actor-poet, cannot be obtained.  We might as well
judge Molière in the spirit of the author of _Elomire Hypocondre_, and of
de Visé!  The Anti-Willian arguments keep on appearing, going behind the
scenes, and reappearing, like a stage army.  To avoid this phenomenon I
reserve what is to be said about “Shake-scene” and “Poet-Ape” for another
place (pp. 138–145 _infra_).  But I must give the reader a warning.
Concerning “William Shakespeare” as a “_nom de plume_,” or pseudonym, Mr.
Greenwood says, “Some, indeed, would see through it, and roundly accuse
the player of putting forth the works of others as his own.  To such he
would be a ‘Poet-Ape,’ or ‘an upstart crow’ (Shake-scene) ‘beautified
with the feathers of other writers.’” {21a}

If this be true, if “some would see through” (Mr. Greenwood, apparently,
means _did_ “see through”) the “_nom de plume_,” the case of the
Anti-Willians is promising.  But, in this matter, Mr. Greenwood _se
trompe_.  Neither Greene nor Jonson accused “Shake-scene” or “Poet-Ape”
of “putting forth the works of others as his own.”  That is quite
certain, as far as the scorns of Jonson and Greene have reached us.  (See
pp. 141–145 _infra_.)

If an actor, obviously incapable of wit and poetry, were credited with
the plays, the keenest curiosity would arise in “the profession,” and
among rival playwrights who envied the wealth and “glory” of the actors.
This curiosity, prompting the wits and players to watch and “shadow”
Will, would, to put it mildly, most seriously imperil the secret of the
concealed author who had the folly to sign himself “William Shakespeare.”
Human nature could not rest under such a provocation as the “concealed
poet” offered.

This is so obvious that had one desired to prove Bacon or the Unknown to
be the concealed author, one must have credited his mask, Will, with
abundance of wit and fancy, and, as for learning—with about as much as he
probably possessed.  But the Baconians make him an illiterate yokel, and
we have quoted Mr. Greenwood’s estimate of the young Warwickshire

We all have our personal equations in the way of belief.  That the plot
of the “_nom de plume_” should have evaded discovery for a week, if the
actor were the untutored countryman of the hypotheses, is to me, for one,
absolutely incredible.  A “concealed poet” looking about for a “_nom de
plume_” and a mask behind which he could be hidden, would not have
selected the name, or the nearest possible approach to the name, of an
ignorant unread actor.  As he was never suspected of not being the author
of the plays and poems, Will cannot have been a country ignoramus,
manifestly incapable of poetry, wit, and such learning as the plays
exhibit.  Every one must judge for himself.  Mr. Greenwood fervently
believes in what I disbelieve. {22a}

“Very few Englishmen . . . in Elizabethan times, concerned themselves at
all, or cared one brass farthing, about the authorship of plays . . . ”
says Mr. Greenwood.

Very few care now.  They know the actors’ names: in vain, as a rule, do I
ask playgoers for the name of the author of their entertainment.  But in
Elizabeth’s time the few who cared were apt to care very much, and they
would inquire intensely when the Stratford actor, a bookless, untaught
man, was announced as the author of plays which were among the most
popular of their day.  The seekers never found any other author.  They
left no hint that they suspected the existence of any other author.
Hence I venture to infer that Will seemed to them no unread rustic, but a
fellow of infinite fancy,—no scholar to be sure, but very capable of
writing the pieces which he fathered.

They may all have been mistaken.  Nobody can prove that Heywood and Ben
Jonson, and the actors of the Company, were not mistaken.  But certain it
is that they thought the Will whom they knew capable of the works which
were attributed to him.  Therefore he cannot possibly have been the man
who could not write, of the more impulsive Baconians; or the bookless,
and probably all but Latinless, man of Mr. Greenwood’s theory.  The
positions already seem to me to be untenable.


BEFORE proceeding further to examine Mr. Greenwood’s book, and the
Baconian theories, with the careful attention which they deserve, we must
clear the ground by explaining two points which appear to puzzle
Baconians, though, to be sure, they have their own solutions of the

The first question is: Why, considering that Shakespeare, by the consent
of the learned of most of the polite foreign nations, was one of the
world’s very greatest poets, have we received so few and such brief
notices of him from the pens of his contemporaries?

“It is wonderful,” exclaims Mr. Crouch-Batchelor, “that hundreds of
persons should not have left records of him. {27a}  We know nearly as
much about the most insignificant writer of the period as we know of him,
but fifty times more about most of his contemporaries.  It is senseless
to try to account for this otherwise than by recognising that the man was
not the author.”

Mr. Crouch-Batchelor is too innocent.  He sees the sixteenth century in
the colours of the twentieth.  We know nothing, except a few dates of
birth, death, entrance at school, College, the Inns of Court, and so
forth, concerning several of Shakespeare’s illustrious contemporaries and
successors in the art of dramatic poetry.  The Baconians do not quite
understand, or, at least, keep steadily before their minds, one immense
difference between the Elizabethan age and later times.  In 1590–1630,
there was no public excitement about the characters, personalities, and
anecdotage of merely literary men, poets, and playwrights, who held no
position in public affairs, as Spenser did; or in Court, Society, and
War, as Sidney did; who did not write about their own feuds and
friendships, like Greene and Nash; who did not expand into prefaces and
reminiscences, and satires, like Ben Jonson; who never killed anybody, as
Ben did; nor were killed, like Marlowe; nor were involved, like him, in
charges of atheism, and so forth; nor imprisoned with every chance of
having their ears and noses slit, like Marston.  Consequently, silence
and night obscure the lives and personalities of Kyd, Chapman, Beaumont,
Fletcher, Dekker, Webster, and several others, as night and silence hide
Shakespeare from our view.

He was popular on the stage; some of his plays were circulated separately
in cheap and very perishable quartos.  No collected edition of his plays
appeared during his life; without that he could not be studied, and
recognised in his greatness.  He withdrew to the country and died.  There
was no enthusiastic curiosity about him; nobody Boswellised any
playwright of his time.  The Folio of 1623 gave the first opportunity of
studying him as alone he can be studied.  The Civil Wars and the Reign of
the Saints distracted men’s minds and depressed or destroyed the Stage.

Sir William Davenant, a boy when Shakespeare died, used to see the actor
at his father’s inn at Oxford, was interested in him, and cherished the
embers of the drama, which were fading before the theatres were closed.
Davenant collected what he could in the way of information from old
people of the stage; he told Shakespearean anecdotes in conversation; a
few reached the late day when uncritical inquiries began, say 1680–90 at
earliest.  The memories of ancient people of the theatre and clerks and
sextons at Stratford were ransacked, to very little purpose.

As these things were so, how can we expect biographical materials about
Shakespeare?  As to the man, as to how his character impressed
contemporaries, we have but the current epithets: “friendly,” “gentle,”
and “sweet,” the praise of his worth by two of the actors in his company
(published in 1623), and the brief prose note of Ben Jonson,—this is more
than we have for the then so widely admired Beaumont, Ben Jonson’s
friend, or Chapman, or the adored Fletcher.  “Into the dark go one and
all,” Shakespeare and the others.  To be puzzled by and found theories on
the silence about Shakespeare is to show an innocence very odd in learned

The Baconians, as usual, make a puzzle and a mystery out of their own
misappreciation of the literary and social conditions of Shakespeare’s
time.  That world could not possibly appreciate his works as we do; the
world, till 1623, possessed only a portion of his plays in cheap
pamphlets, in several of these his text was mangled and in places
unintelligible.  And in not a single instance were anecdotes and
biographical traits of playwrights recorded, except when the men
published matter about themselves, or when they became notorious in some
way unconnected with their literary works.  Drummond, in Scotland, made
brief notes of Ben Jonson’s talk; Shakespeare he never met.

That age was not widely and enthusiastically appreciative of literary
merit in playwrights who were merely dramatists, and in no other way
notorious or eminent.  Mr. Greenwood justly says “the contemporary
eulogies of the poet afford proof that there were some cultured critics
of that day of sufficient taste and acumen to recognise, or partly
recognise, his excellence . . . ” {30a}  (Here I omit some words,
presently to be restored to the text.)  From such critics the poet
received such applause as has reached us. We also know that the plays
were popular; but the audiences have not rushed to pen and ink to record
their satisfaction.  With them, as with all audiences, the actors and the
_spectacle_, much more than the “cackle,” were the attractions.  When Dr.
Ingleby says that “the bard of our admiration was unknown to the men of
that age,” he uses hyperbole, and means, I presume, that he was unknown,
as all authors are, to the great majority; and that those who knew him in
part made no modern fuss about him. {31a}

The second puzzle is,—Why did Shakespeare, conscious of his great powers,
never secure for his collected plays the permanence of print and
publication?  We cannot be sure that he and his company, in fact, did not
provide publishers with the copy for the better Quartos or pamphlets of
separate plays, as Mr. Pollard argues on good grounds that they sometimes
did. {31b}  For the rest, no dramatic author edited a complete edition of
his works before Ben Jonson, a scholarly man, set the example in the year
of Shakespeare’s, and of Beaumont’s death (1616).  Neither Beaumont nor
Fletcher collected and published their works for the Stage.  The idea was
unheard of before Jonson set the example, and much of his work lay
unprinted till years after his death. We must remember the conditions of
play-writing in Shakespeare’s time.

There were then many poets of no mean merit, all capable of admirable
verse on occasion; and in various degrees possessed of the lofty,
vigorous, and vivid style of that great age.  The theatre, and writing
for the theatre, afforded to many men of talent a means of livelihood
analogous to that offered by journalism among ourselves.  They were apt
to work collectively, several hands hurrying out a single play; and in
twos or threes, or fours or fives, they often collaborated.

As a general rule a play when finished was sold by the author or authors
to a company of players, or to a speculator like the notorious Philip
Henslowe, and the new owners, “the grand possessors,” were usually averse
to the publication of the work, lest other companies might act it.  The
plays were primarily written to be acted.  The company in possession
could have the play altered as they pleased by a literary man in their

To follow Mr. Greenwood’s summary of the situation “it would seem that an
author could restrain any person from publishing his manuscript, or could
bring an action against him for so doing, so long as he had not disposed
of his right to it; and that the publisher could prevent any other
publisher from issuing the work.  At the same time it is clear that the
law was frequently violated . . . whether because of the difficulty of
enforcing it, or through the supineness of authors; and that in
consequence authors were frequently defrauded by surreptitious copies of
their works being issued by piratical publishers.” {33a}

It may appear that to “authors” we should, in the case of plays, add
“owners,” such as theatrical companies, for no case is cited in which
such a company brings an action against the publisher of a play which
they own.  The two players of Shakespeare’s company who sign the preface
to the first edition of his collected plays (1623, “The First Folio”)
complain that “divers stolen and surreptitious copies” of single plays
have been put forth, “maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of
injurious impostors.”  They speak as if they were unable to prevent, or
had not the energy to prevent, these frauds.  In the accounts of the
aforesaid Henslowe, we find him paying forty shillings to a printer to
stop or “stay” the printing of a play, _Patient Grizel_, by three of his

We perhaps come across an effort of the company to prevent or delay the
publication of _The Merchant of Venice_, on July 17, 1598, in the
_Stationers’ Register_.  James Robertes, and all other printers, are
forbidden to print the book without previous permission from the Lord
Chamberlain, the protector of Will Shakespeare’s company.  Two years
passed before Robertes issued the book. {34a}  As is well known, Heywood,
a most prolific playwright, boasts that he never made a double sale of
his pieces to the players and the press.  Others occasionally did, which
Heywood clearly thought less than honest.

As an author who was also an actor, and a shareholder in his company,
Will’s interests were the same as theirs.  It is therefore curious that
some of his pieces were early printed, in quartos, from very good copies;
while others appeared in very bad copies, clearly surreptitious.
Probably the company gave a good MS. copy, sometimes, to a printer who
offered satisfactory terms, after the gloss of novelty was off the acted
play. {34b}  In any case, we see that the custom and interests of the
owners of manuscript plays ran contrary to their early publication.  In
1619 even Ben Jonson, who loved publication, told Drummond that half of
his comedies were still unprinted.

These times were not as our own, and must not be judged by ours.  Whoever
wrote the plays, the actor, or Bacon, or the Man in the Moon; whoever
legally owned the manuscripts, was equally incurious and negligent about
the preservation of a correct text.  As we shall see later, while
Baconians urge without any evidence that Bacon himself edited, or gave to
Ben Jonson the duty of editing, the first collected edition (1623), the
work has been done in an indescribably negligent and reckless manner,
and, as Mr. Greenwood repeatedly states, the edition, in his opinion,
contains at least two plays not by his “Shakespeare”—that “concealed
poet”—and masses of “non-Shakespearean” work.

How this could happen, if Bacon (as on one hypothesis) either revised the
plays himself, or entrusted the task to so strict an Editor as Ben
Jonson, I cannot imagine.  This is also one of the difficulties in Mr.
Greenwood’s theory.  Thus we cannot argue, “if the actor were the author,
he must have been conscious of his great powers.  Therefore the actor
cannot have been the author, for the actor wholly neglected to collect
his printed and to print his manuscript works.”

This argument is equally potent against the authorship of the plays by
Bacon.  He, too, left the manuscripts unpublished till 1623.  “But he
could not avow his authorship,” cry Baconians, giving various exquisite
reasons.  Indeed, if Bacon were the author, he might not care to divulge
his long association with “a cry of players,” and a man like Will of
Stratford.  But he had no occasion to avow it.  He had merely to suggest
to the players, through any safe channel, that they should collect and
publish the works of their old friend Will Shakspere.

Thus indifferent was the main author of the plays, whether he were actor
or statesman; and the actor, at least, is not to blame for the chaos of
the first collected edition, made while he was in his grave, and while
Bacon was busy in revising and superintending Latin translations of his
works on scientific subjects.

We now understand why there are so few contemporary records of Shakspere
the man; and see that the neglect of his texts was extreme, whether or
not he were the author.  The neglect was characteristic of the
playwrights of his own and the next generation.  In those days it was no
marvel; few cared.  Nine years passed before a second edition of the
collected plays appeared: thirty-two years went by before a third edition
was issued—years of war and tumult, yet they saw the posthumous
publication of the collected plays of Beaumont and Fletcher.

There remains one more mystery connected with publication.  When the
first collected edition of the plays appeared, it purported to contain
“All His Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.”  According to the postulate
of the Baconians it was edited by the Author, or by Jonson acting for
him.  It contains several plays which, according to many critics, are not
the author’s.  This, if true, is mysterious, and so is the fact that a
few plays were published, as by Shakespeare, in the lifetime both of the
actor and of Bacon; plays which neither acknowledged for his own, for we
hear of no remonstrance from—whoever “William Shakespeare” was.  It is
impossible for me to say why there was no remonstrance.

Suppose that Will merely supplied Bacon’s plays, under his own name, with
a slight difference in spelling, to his company.  It was as much his
interest, in that case, to protest when Bacon’s pen-name was taken in
vain, as if he had spelled his own surname with an _a_ in the second

There is another instance which Mr. Greenwood discusses twice. {37a}  In
1599 Jaggard published “_The Passionate Pilgrim_; W. Shakespeare.”  Out
of twenty poems, five only were by W. S.  In 1612, Jaggard added two
poems by Tom Heywood, retaining W. Shakespeare’s name as sole author.
“Heywood protested” in print, “and stated that _Shakespeare_ was
offended, and,” says Mr. Greenwood, “very probably he was so; but as he
was, so I conceive, ‘a concealed poet,’ writing under a _nom de plume_,
he seems to have only made known his annoyance through the medium of

If so, Heywood knew who the concealed poet was.  Turning to pp. 348, 349,
we find Mr. Greenwood repeating the same story, with this addition, that
the author of the poems published by Jaggard, “to do himself right, hath
since published them in his own name.”  That is, W. Shakespeare has since
published under his own name such pieces of _The Passionate Pilgrim_ as
are his own.  “The author, I know,” adds Heywood, “was much offended with
Mr. Jaggard that (altogether unknown to him) presumed to make so bold
with his name.”

Why was the author so slack when Jaggard, in 1599, published W. S.’s
poems with others _not_ by W. S.?

How can anyone explain, by any theory?  It was as open to him in 1599 as
in 1612 to publish his own pieces under his own name, or pen-name.

“Here we observe,” says Mr. Greenwood, {38a} “that Heywood does nothing
to identify ‘the author with the player.’”  This is, we shall see, the
eternal argument.  Why should Heywood, speaking of W. Shakespeare,
explain what all the world knew?  There was no other W. Shakespeare (with
or without the _e_ and _a_) but one, the actor, in the world of letters
of Elizabeth and James.  Who the author was Heywood himself has told us,
elsewhere: the author was—Will!

But why Shakespeare was so indifferent to the use of his name, or, when
he was moved, acted so mildly, it is not for me or anyone to explain.  We
do not know the nature of the circumstances in detail; we do not know
that the poet saw hopes of stopping the sale of the works falsely
attributed to him.  I do not even feel certain that he had not a finger
in some of them.  Knowing so little, a more soaring wit than mine might
fly to the explanation that “Shakespeare” was the “_nom de plume_” of
Bacon or his unknown equivalent, and that he preferred to “let sleeping
dogs lie,” or, as Mr. Greenwood might quote the Latin tag, said _ne
moveas Camarinam_.


THE banner-cry of the Baconians is the word “Impossible!”  It is
impossible that the actor from Stratford (as they think of him, a
bookless, untutored lad, speaking in _patois_) should have possessed the
wide, deep, and accurate scholarship displayed by the author of the plays
and poems.  It is impossible that at the little Free School of Stratford
(if he attended it), he should have gained his wide knowledge of the
literatures of Greece and Rome.  To these arguments, the orthodox
Stratfordian is apt to reply, that he finds in the plays and poems plenty
of inaccurate general information on classical subjects, information in
which the whole literature of England then abounded.  He also finds in
the plays some knowledge of certain Latin authors, which cannot be proved
to have been translated at the date when Shakespeare drew on them.  How
much Latin Shakespeare knew, in our opinion, will presently be explained.

But, in reply to the Baconians and the Anti-Willians, we must say that
while the author of the plays had some lore which scholars also
possessed, he did not use his knowledge like a scholar.  We do not see
how a scholar could make, as the scansion of his blank verse proves that
the author did make, the second syllable of the name of Posthumus, in
_Cymbeline_, _long_.  He must have read a famous line in Horace thus,

    “_Eheu fugaces Posthoome_, _Posthoome_!”

which could scarce ’scape whipping, even at Stratford Free School.  In
the same way he makes the penultimate syllable of Andronicus short,
equally impossible.

Mr. Greenwood, we shall see, denies to him _Titus Andronicus_, but also
appears to credit it to him, as one of the older plays which he “revised,
improved, and dressed,” {44a} and _that_ is taken to have been all his
“authorship” in several cases.  A scholar would have corrected, not
accepted, false quantities.  In other cases, as when Greeks and Trojans
cite Plato and Aristotle in _Troilus and Cressida_, while Plato and
Aristotle lived more than a thousand years after the latest conceivable
date of the siege of Troy, I cannot possibly suppose that a scholar would
have permitted to himself the freak, any more than that in _The Winter’s
Tale_ he should have borrowed from an earlier novel the absurdity of
calling Delphi “Delphos” (a non-existent word), of confusing “Delphos”
with Delos, and placing the Delphian Oracle in an island.  In the same
play the author, quite needlessly, makes the artist Giulio Romano
(1492–1546) contemporary with the flourishing age of the oracle of the
Pythian Apollo.  This, at least, would not be ignorance.

We have, I think, sufficient testimony to Ben’s inability to refrain from
gibes at Shakspere’s want of scholarship.  Rowe, who had traditions of
Davenant’s, tells how, in conversation with Suckling, Davenant, Endymion
Porter, and Hales of Eton, Ben harped on Will’s want of learning; and how
Hales snubbed him.  Indeed, Ben could have made mirth enough out of _The
Winter’s Tale_.  For, granting to Mr. Greenwood {45a} that “the mention
of Delphos suggests the Bohemia of a much earlier date, and under the
reign of Ottocar (1255–78) Bohemia extended from the Adriatic to the
shores of the Baltic,” that only makes matters far worse.  “Delphos”
never was a place-name; there was no oracle on the isle of “Delphos”;
there were no Oracles in 1255–78 (A.D.); and Perdita, who could have sat
for her portrait to Giulio Romano, was contemporary with an Oracle at
_Delphos_, but not with Ottocar.

There never was so mad a mixture, not even in _Ivanhoe_; not even in
_Kenilworth_.  Scott erred deliberately, as he says in his prefaces; but
Will took the insular oracle of Delphos from Greene, inserted Giulio
Romano “for his personal diversion,” never heard of Ottocar (no more than
I), and made a delightful congeries of errors in gaiety of heart.  Nobody
shall convince me that Francis Bacon was so charmingly irresponsible; but
I cannot speak so confidently of Mr. Greenwood’s Great Unknown, a severe
scholar, but perhaps a frisky soul.  There was no region called Bohemia
when the Delphic oracle was in vigour;—this apology (apparently contrived
by Sir Edward Sullivan) is the most comic of erudite reflections.

Some cruel critic has censured the lovely speech of Perdita, concerning
the flowers which Proserpine let fall, when she was carried off by Dis.
How could she, brought up in the hut of a Bohemian shepherd, know
anything of the Rape of Proserpine?  Why not, as she lived in the days of
the Delphic Oracle—and Giulio Romano, and of printed ballads.

It is impossible, Baconians cry, that the rabbit-stealer, brought up
among the Audreys and Jaquenettas of Warwickshire, should have created
the noble and witty ladies of the Court; and known the style of his
Armado; and understood how dukes and kings talk among themselves—usually
in blank verse, it appears.

It is impossible that the home-keeping yokel should have heard of the
“obscure” (_sic_!) Court of Navarre; and known that at Venice there was a
place called the Rialto, and a “common ferry” called “the tranect.”  It
is impossible that he should have had “an intimate knowledge of the
castle of Elsinore,” though an English _troupe_ of actors visited Denmark
in 1587.  To Will all this knowledge was _impossible_; for these and many
more exquisite reasons the yokel’s authorship of the plays is a physical
impossibility.  But scholars neither invent nor tolerate such strange
liberties with time and place, with history, geography, and common sense.
Will Shakspere either did not know what was right, or, more probably, did
not care, and supposed, like Fielding in the old anecdote, that the
audience “would not find it out.”  How could a scholar do any of these
things?  He was as incapable of them as Ben Jonson.  Such sins no scholar
is inclined to; they have, for him, no temptations.

      [Picture: Facsimile of the Autograph Signature “By me William
 Shakspeare.”  From one of the Three Sheets of his Will, dated March 25,
1616.  (From Sir Sidney Lee’s Shakespeare’s Life and Work.  By permission
                     of Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co.)]

  [Picture: Facsimile of Mark-Signature of John Shakespeare, the Poet’s
       Father.  From a Deed of Conveyance, dated January 26, 1596]

 [Picture: Facsimile of Mark-Signature of Judith Shakespeare, the Poet’s
             Second Daughter, afterwards Mrs. Thomas Quiney]

As to Shakspere’s schooling, the Baconians point at the current ignorance
of Stratford-on-Avon, where many topping burgesses, even aldermen, “made
their marks,” in place of signing their names to documents.
Shakespeare’s father, wife, and daughter “made their marks,” in place of
signing.  So did Lady Jane Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly, when
she married the cultivated Earl of Bothwell (1566).

There is no evidence, from a roll of schoolboys at Stratford Free Grammar
School, about 1564–77, that any given boy attended it; for no roll
exists.  Consequently there is no evidence that Will was a pupil.

“In the Appendix to Malone’s _Life of Shakespeare_ will be found two
Latin letters, written by alumni of Stratford School contemporary with
Shakespeare,” says Mr. Collins. {48a}  But though the writers were
Stratford boys contemporary with Shakespeare, in later life his
associates, as there is no roll of pupils’ names how do we know, the
Baconians may ask, that these men were educated at Stratford School?  Why
not at Winchester, Eton, St. Paul’s, or anywhere?  Need one reply?

Mr. Collins goes on, in his simple confiding way, to state that “one
letter is by Abraham Sturley, afterwards an alderman of Stratford . . . ”
Pursuing the facts, we find that Sturley wrote in Latin to “Richard
Quiney, Shakespeare’s friend,” who, if he could read Sturley’s letter,
could read Latin.  Then _young_ Richard Quiney, apparently aged eleven,
wrote in Latin to his father.  If young Richard Quiney be the son of
Shakespeare’s friend, Richard Quiney, then, of course, his Latin at the
age of eleven would only prove that, if he were a schoolboy at Stratford,
_one_ Stratford boy could write Latin in the generation following that of
Shakespeare.  Thus may reason the Baconians.

Perhaps, however, we may say that if Stratford boys contemporary with
Shakspere, in his own rank and known to him, learned Latin, which they
retained in manhood, Shakspere, if he went to school with them, may have
done as much.

Concerning the school, a Free Grammar School, we know that during
Shakespeare’s boyhood the Mastership was not disdained by Walter Roche,
perhaps a Fellow of what was then the most progressive College in
learning of those at Oxford, namely, Corpus Christi.  That Shakespeare
could have been his pupil is uncertain; the dates are rather difficult.
I think it probable that he was not, and we do not know the
qualifications of the two or three succeeding Masters.

As to the methods of teaching and the books read at Grammar Schools,
abundance of information has been collected.  We know what the use was in
one very good school, Ipswich, from 1528; in another in 1611; but as we
do not possess any special information about Stratford School, Mr.
Greenwood opposes the admission of evidence from other academies.  A man
might think that, however much the quality of the teaching varied in
various free schools, the nominal curriculum would be fairly uniform.

As to the teacher, a good endowment would be apt to attract a capable
man.  What was the endowment of Stratford School?  It was derived from
the bequest of Thomas Jolyffe (died 1482), a bequest of lands in
Stratford and Dodwell, and before the Reformation the Brethren of the
Guild were “to find a priest fit and able in knowledge to teach grammar
freely to all scholars coming to him, taking nothing for their teaching
. . . ”  “The Founder’s liberal endowment made it possible to secure an
income for the Master by deed.  Under the Reformation, Somerset’s
Commission found that the School Master had £10 yearly by patent; the
school was well conducted, and was not confiscated.” {50a}

Baconians can compare the yearly £20 (the salary in 1570–6, which then
went much further than it does now) with the incomes of other masters of
Grammar Schools, and thereby find out if the Head-Master was very cheap.
Mr. Elton (who knew his subject intimately) calls the provision
“liberal.”  The Head-Master of Westminster had £20 and a house.

As to the method of teaching, it was colloquial; questions were asked and
answered in Latin.  This method, according to Dr. Rouse of Perse School,
brings boys on much more rapidly than does our current fashion, as may
readily be imagined; but experts vary in opinion.  The method, I
conceive, should give a pupil a vocabulary.  Lilly’s Latin Grammar was
universally used, and was learned by rote, as by George Borrow, in the
last century.  See _Lavengro_ for details.  Conversation books,
_Sententiæ Pueriles_, were in use; with easy books, such as Corderius’s
_Colloquia_, and so on, for boys were taught to _speak_ Latin, the common
language of the educated in Europe.  Waifs of the Armada, Spaniards
wrecked on the Irish coast, met “a savage who knew Latin,” and thus could
converse with him.  The Eclogues of Mantuanus, a Latin poet of the
Renaissance (the “Old Mantuan” of _Love’s Labour’s Lost_), were used,
with Erasmus’s _Colloquia_, and, says Mr. Collins, “such books as Ovid’s
Metamorphoses” (and other works of his), “the Æneid, selected comedies of
Terence and Plautus, and portions of Cæsar, Sallust, Cicero, and Livy.”

“Pro-di-gi-ous!” exclaims Mr. Greenwood, {51a} referring to what Mr.
Collins says Will had read at school.  But precocious Latinity was not
thought “prodigious” in an age when nothing but Latin was taught to
boys—not even cricket.  Nor is it to be supposed that every boy read in
all of these authors, still less read all of their works, but these were
the works of which portions were read.  It is not prodigious.  I myself,
according to my class-master, was “a bad and careless little boy” at
thirteen, incurably idle, but I well remember reading in Ovid and Cæsar,
and Sallust, while the rest of my time was devoted to the total neglect
of the mathematics, English “as she was taught,” History, and whatsoever
else was expected from me.  Shakespeare’s time was not thus frittered
away; Latin was all he learned (if he went to school), and, as he was (on
my theory) a very clever, imaginative kind of boy, I can conceive that he
was intensely interested in the stories told by Ovid, and in Catiline’s
Conspiracy (thrilling, if you know your Sallust); and if his interest
were once aroused, he would make rapid progress.  My own early hatred of
Greek was hissing and malignant, but as soon as I opened Homer, all was
changed.  One was intensely interested!

Mr. Greenwood will not, in the matter of books, go beyond Mr.
Halliwell-Phillipps, {52a} “Lilly’s Grammar, and a few classical works
chained to the desks of the free schools.”  Mr. Collins himself gives but
“a few classical books,” of which _portions_ were read.  The chains were
in all the free schools, if Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps is right.  The
chains, if authentic, do not count as objections.

Here it must be noted that Mr. Greenwood’s opinion of Will’s knowledge
and attainments is not easily to be ascertained with precision.  He sees,
of course, that the pretension of the extreme Baconians—Will could not
even write his name—is absurd.  If he could not write, he could not pass
as the author.  Mr. Greenwood “fears that the arguments” (of a most
extreme Baconian) “would drive many wandering sheep back to the
Stratfordian fold.” {52b}

He has therefore to find a _via media_, to present, as the pseudo-author,
a Will who possessed neither books nor manuscripts when he made his
Testament; a rustic, bookless Will, speaking a patois, who could none the
less pass himself off as the author.  So “I think it highly probable,”
says Mr. Greenwood, “that he attended the Grammar School at Stratford for
four or five years, and that, later in life, after some years in London,
he was probably able to ‘bumbast out a line,’ and perhaps to pose as
‘Poet-Ape who would be thought our chief.’” {53a}  Again, “He had had but
little schooling; he had ‘small Latin and less Greek’; but he was a good
_Johannes Factotum_, he could arrange a scene, and, when necessary,
‘bumbast out a blank verse.’” {53b}

But this is almost to abandon Mr. Greenwood’s case.  Will appears to me
to be now perilously near acceptance as Greene’s “Shake-scene,” who was a
formidable rival to Greene’s three professional playwrights: and quite as
near to Ben’s Poet-Ape “that would be thought our chief,” who began by
re-making old plays; then won “some little wealth and credit on the
scene,” who had his “works” printed (for Ben expects them to reach
posterity), and whom Ben accused of plagiarism from himself and his
contemporaries.  But this Shake-scene, this Poet-Ape, is merely our Will
Shakespeare as described by bitterly jealous and envious rivals.  Where
are now the “works” of “Poet-Ape” if they are not the works of
Shakespeare which Ben so nobly applauded later, if they are not in the
blank verse of Greene’s Shake-scene?  “Shakespeare’s plays” we call them.

_When_ was it “necessary” for the “Stratford rustic” to “bumbast out a
blank verse”?  Where are the blank verses which he bumbasted out?  For
what purposes were they bumbasted?  By 1592 “Shake-scene” was ambitious,
and thought his blank verse as good as the best that Greene’s friends,
including Marlowe, could write.  He had plenty of time to practise before
the date when, as Ben wrote, “he would be thought our chief.”  He would
not cease to do that in which he conceived himself to excel; to write for
the stage.

When once Mr. Greenwood deems it “highly probable” that Will had four or
five years of education at a Latin school, Will has as much of
“grounding” in Latin, I think, as would account for all the knowledge of
the Roman tongue which he displays.  His amount of teaching at school
would carry and tempt even a boy who was merely clever, and loved to read
romantic tales and comic plays, into Ovid and Plautus—English books being
to him not very accessible.

Here I may speak from my own memories, for though utterly idle where set
school tasks were concerned, I tried very early to worry the sense out of
Aristophanes—because he was said to contain good reading.

To this amount of taste and curiosity, nowise unexampled in an ordinary
clever boy, add _Genius_, and I feel no difficulty as to Will’s
“learning,” such as, at best, it was.  “The Stratfordian,” says Mr.
Greenwood, “will ingeminate ‘Genius!  Genius!’” {55a}  I _do_ say
“Genius,” and stand by it.  The ordinary clever boy, in the supposed
circumstances, could read and admire his Ovid (though Shakespeare used
cribs also), the man of genius could write _Venus and Adonis_.

Had I to maintain the Baconian hypothesis, I would not weigh heavily on
bookless Will’s rusticity and patois.  Accepting Ben Jonson’s account of
his “excellent phantasy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein
he flowed with that facility . . . ,” accepting the tradition of his
lively wit; admitting that he had some Latin and literature, I would find
in him a sufficiently plausible mask for that immense Unknown with a
strange taste for furbishing up older plays.  I would merely deny to Will
his _genius_, and hand _that_ over to Bacon—or Bungay.  Believe me, Mr.
Greenwood, this is your easiest way!—perhaps this _is_ your way?—the plot
of the unscrupulous Will, and of your astute Bungay, might thus more
conceivably escape detection from the pack of envious playwrights.

According to “all tradition,” says Mr. Greenwood, Shakespeare was taken
from school at the age of thirteen.  Those late long-descended traditions
of Shakespeare’s youth are of little value as evidence; but, if it
pleases Mr. Greenwood, I will, for the sake of argument, accept the whole
of them.  Assuredly I shall not arbitrarily choose among the traditions:
all depends on the genealogical steps by which they reach us, as far as
these can be discovered. {56a}

According to the tattle of Aubrey the antiquary, publishing in 1680, an
opinion concerning Shakspere’s education reached him.  It came thus;
there had been an actor in Shakspere’s company, one Phillips, who, dying
in 1605, left to Shakspere the usual thirty-shilling piece of gold; and
the same “to my servant, Christopher Beeston.”  Christopher’s son,
William, in 1640, became deputy to Davenant in the management of “the
King’s and Queen’s Young Company”, and through Beeston, according to
Aubrey, Davenant learned; through Beeston Aubrey learned, that
Shakespeare “understood Latin pretty well, for he had been in his younger
days a school-master in the country.”  Aubrey writes that “old Mr.
Beeston, whom Mr. Dryden calls ‘the chronicle of the stage,’” died in
1682. {56b}

This is a fair example of the genealogy of the traditions.  Phillips, a
friend of Shakspere, dies in 1605, leaving a servant, Christopher Beeston
(he, too, was a versifier), whose son, William, dies in 1682; he is “the
chronicle of the stage.”  Through him Davenant gets the story, through
him Aubrey gets the story, that Shakspere “knew Latin pretty well,” and
had been a rural dominie.  Mr. Greenwood {57a} devotes much space to
disparaging Aubrey (and I do not think him a scientific authority, _moult
s’en faut_), but Mr. Greenwood here says not a word as to the steps in
the descent of the tradition.  He frequently repeats himself, thereby
forcing me to more iteration than I like.  He had already disparaged
Aubrey in note I to p. 105, but there he approached so closely to
historical method as to say that “Aubrey quotes Beeston, a
seventeenth-century actor, as his authority.”  On p. 209 he dismisses the
anecdote (which does not suit his book) as “a mere myth.”  “_He_ knows,
_he_ knows” which traditions are mythical, and which possess a certain
historical value.

My own opinion is that Shakspere did “know Latin pretty well,” and was no
_scholar_, as his contemporaries reckoned scholarship.  He left school,
if tradition speak true, by a year later than the age, twelve, when Bacon
went to Cambridge.  Will, a clever kind of lad (on my theory), left
school at an age when some other clever lads became freshmen.  Why not?
Gilbert Burnet (of whom you may have heard as Bishop of Salisbury under
William III) took his degree at the age of fourteen.

Taking Shakspere as an extremely quick, imaginative boy, with nothing to
learn but Latin, and by the readiest road, the colloquial, I conceive him
to have discovered that, in Ovid especially, were to be found the most
wonderful and delightful stories, and poetry which could not but please
his “green unknowing youth.”  In the years before he left Stratford, and
after he left school (1577–87?), I can easily suppose that he was not
_always_ butchering calves, poaching, and making love; and that, if he
could get books in no other way, this graceless fellow might be detected
on a summer evening, knitting his brows over the stories and jests of the
chained Ovid and Plautus on his old schoolroom desk.  _Moi qui parle_, I
am no genius; but stories, romance, and humour would certainly have
dragged me back to the old desks—if better might not be, and why not
Shakspere?  Put yourself in his place, if you have ever been a lad, and
if, as a lad, you liked to steal away into the world of romance, into

If Will wrote the plays, he (and indeed whoever wrote the plays) was a
marvel of genius.  But I am not here claiming for him genius, but merely
stating my opinion that if he were fond of stories and romance, had no
English books of poetry and romance, and had acquired as much power of
reading Latin as a lively, curious boy could easily gain in four years of
exclusively Latin education, he might continue his studies as he pleased,
yet be, so far, no prodigy.

I am contemplating Will in the conditions on which the Baconians insist;
if they will indeed let us assume that for a few years he was at a Latin
school.  I credit the graceless loon with the curiosity, the prompt
acquisitiveness, the love of poetry and romance, which the author of the
plays must have possessed in youth.  “Tradition says nothing of all
that,” the Baconian answers, and he may now, if he likes, turn to my
reply in _The Traditional Shakespeare_. {59a}  Meanwhile, how can you
expect old clerks and sextons, a century after date, in a place where
literature was _not_ of supreme interest, to retain a tradition that Will
used to read sometimes (if he did), in circumstances of privacy?  As far
as I am able to judge, had I been a boy at Stratford school for four
years, had been taught nothing but Latin, and had little or no access to
English books of poetry and romance, I should have acquired about the
same amount of Latin as I suppose Shakspere to have possessed.  Yet I
could scarcely, like him, have made the second syllable in “Posthumus”
long!  Sir Walter Scott, however, was guilty of similar false quantities:
he and Shakspere were about equally scholarly.

I suppose, then, that Shakspere’s “small Latin” (as Jonson called it)
enabled him to read in the works of the Roman clerks; to read sufficient
for his uses.  As a fact, he made use of English translations, and also
of Latin texts.  Scholars like Bacon do not use bad translations of easy
Latin authors.  If Bacon wanted Plutarch, he went to Plutarch in Greek,
not to an English translation of a French translation of a Latin

Some works of Shakespeare, the _Lucrece_, for example, and _The Comedy of
Errors_ (if he were not working over an earlier canvas from a more
learned hand), and other passages, show knowledge of Latin texts which in
his day had not appeared in published translations, or had not been
translated at all as far as we know.  In my opinion Will had Latin enough
to puzzle out the sense of the Latin, never difficult, for himself.  He
could also “get a construe,” when in London, or help in reading, from a
more academic acquaintance: or buy a construe at no high ransom from some
poor scholar.  No contemporary calls him scholarly; the generation of men
who were small boys when he died held him for no scholar.  The current
English literature of his day was saturated with every kind of classical
information; its readers, even if Latinless, knew, or might know a world
of lore with which the modern man is seldom acquainted.  The ignorant
Baconian marvels: the classically educated Baconian who is not familiar
with Elizabethan literature is amazed.  Really there is nothing worthy of
their wonder.

Does any contemporary literary allusion to Shakespeare call him
“_learned_”?  He is “sweet,” “honey-tongued,” “mellifluous,” and so
forth, but I ask for any contemporary who flattered him with the
compliment of “learned.”  What Ben Jonson thought of his learning (but
Ben’s standard was very high), what Milton and Fuller, boys of eight when
he died, thought of his learning, we know.  They thought him “Fancy’s
child” (Milton) and with no claims to scholarship (Fuller), with “small
Latin and less Greek” (Jonson).  They speak of Shakespeare the author and
actor; not yet had any man divided the persons.

Elizabethan and Jacobean scholarly poets were widely read in the
classics.  They were not usually, however, scholars in the same sense as
our modern scholarly poets and men of letters; such as Mr. Swinburne
among the dead, and Mr. Mackail and Sir Gilbert Murray—if I may be
pardoned for mentioning contemporary names.  But Elizabethan scholarly
poets, and Milton, never regarded Shakespeare as learned.  Perhaps few
modern men of letters who are scholars differ from them.  The opinion of
Mr. Collins is to be discussed presently, but even he thought
Shakespeare’s scholarship “inexact,” as we shall see.

I conceive that Shakspere “knew Latin pretty well,” and, on Ben Jonson’s
evidence, he knew “less Greek.”  That he knew _any_ Greek is surprising.
Apparently he did, to judge from Ben’s words.  My attitude must, to the
Baconians, seem frivolous, vexatious, and evasive.  I cannot pretend to
know what was Shakspere’s precise amount of proficiency in Latin when he
was writing the plays.  That between his own knowledge, and construes
given to him, he might easily get at the meaning of all the Latin, not
yet translated, which he certainly knew, I believe.

Mr. Greenwood says “the amount of reading which the lad Shakspere must
have done, and assimilated, during his brief sojourn at the Free School
is positively amazing.” {62a}  But I have shown how an imaginative boy,
with little or no access to English poetry and romances, might continue
to read Latin “for human pleasure” after he left school.  As a
professional writer, in a London where Latinists were as common as now
they are rare in literary society, he might read more, and be helped in
his reading.  Any clever man might do as much, not to speak of a man of
genius.  “And yet, alas, there is no record or tradition of all this
prodigious industry. . . . ”  I am not speaking of “prodigious industry,”
and of that—at school.  In a region so non-literary as, by his account,
was Stratford, Mr. Greenwood ought not to expect traditions of Will’s
early reading (even if he studied much more deeply than I have supposed)
to exist, from fifty to seventy years after Will was dead, in the
memories of the sons and grandsons of country people who cared for none
of these things.  The thing is not reasonable. {62b}

Let me take one example {62c} of what Mr. E. A. Sonnenschein is quoted as
saying (somewhere) about Shakespeare’s debt to Seneca’s then untranslated
paper _De Clementia_ (1, 3, 3; I, 7, 2; I, 6, I).  It inspires Portia’s
speech about Mercy.  Here I give a version of the Latin.

“Clemency becometh, of all men, none more than the King or chief
magistrate (_principem_) . . . No one can think of anything more becoming
to a ruler than clemency . . . which will be confessed the fairer and
more goodly in proportion as it is exhibited in the higher office . . .
But if the placable and just gods punish not instantly with their
thunderbolts the sins of the powerful, how much more just it is that a
man set over men should gently exercise his power.  What?  Holds not he
the place nearest to the gods, who, bearing himself like the gods, is
kind, and generous, and uses his power for the better? . . .  Think . . .
what a lone desert and waste Rome would be, were nothing left, and none,
save such as a severe judge would absolve.”

The last sentence is fitted with this parallel in Portia’s speech:

          “Consider this
    That in the course of Justice none of us
    Should see salvation.”

Here, at least, Protestant theology, not Seneca, inspires Portia’s

Now take Portia:

    “The quality of Mercy is not strain’d;
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes;”

(Not much Seneca, so far!)

    “’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
    The thronèd monarch better than his crown;
    His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty,
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
    But Mercy is above this sceptred sway,
    It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
    It is an attribute to God himself;
    And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
    When mercy seasons justice . . . ”

There follows the passage about none of us seeing salvation, already
cited, and theological in origin.

Whether Shakespeare could or could not have written these reflections,
without having read Seneca’s _De Clementia_, whether, if he could not
conceive the ideas “out of his own head,” he might not hear Seneca’s
words translated in a sermon, or in conversation, or read them cited in
an English book, each reader must decide for himself.  Nor do I doubt
that Shakespeare could pick out what he wanted from the Latin if he cast
his eye over the essay of the tutor of Nero.

My view of Shakespeare’s Latinity is much like that of Sir Walter
Raleigh. {64a}  As far as I am aware, it is the opinion usually held by
people who approach the subject, and who have had a classical education.
An exception was the late Mr. Churton Collins, whose ideas are discussed
in the following chapter.

In his youth, and in the country, Will could do what Hogg and Burns did
(and Hogg had no education at all; he was self-taught, even in writing).
Will could pick up traditional, oral, popular literature.  “His plays,”
says Sir Walter Raleigh, “are extraordinarily rich in the floating debris
of popular literature,—scraps and tags and broken ends of songs and
ballads and romances and proverbs.  In this respect he is notable even
among his contemporaries. . . .  Edgar and Iago, Petruchio and Benedick,
Sir Toby and Pistol, the Fool in _Lear_ and the Grave-digger in _Hamlet_,
even Ophelia and Desdemona, are all alike singers of old songs. . . . ”
{65a}  He is rich in rural proverbs _not_ recorded in Bacon’s _Promus_.

Shakespeare in the country, like Scott in Liddesdale, “was making himself
all the time.”

The Baconian will exclaim that Bacon was familiar with many now obsolete
rural words.  Bacon, too, may have had a memory rich in all the tags of
song, ballad, story, and _dicton_.  But so may Shakespeare.


THAT Shakspere, whether “scholar” or not, had a very wide and deep
knowledge both of Roman literature and, still more, of the whole field of
the tragic literature of Athens, is a theory which Mr. Greenwood seems to
admire in that “violent Stratfordian,” Mr. Churton Collins. {69a}  I
think that Mr. Collins did not persuade classical scholars who have never
given a thought to the Baconian belief, but who consider on their merits
the questions: Does Shakespeare show wide classical knowledge?  Does he
use his knowledge as a scholar would use it?

My friend, Mr. Collins, as I may have to say again, was a very wide
reader of poetry, with a memory like Macaulay’s.  It was his native
tendency to find coincidences in poetic passages (which, to some, to me
for example, did not often seem coincidental); and to explain
coincidences by conscious or subconscious borrowing.  One remarked in him
these tendencies long before he wrote on the classical acquirements of

While Mr. Collins tended to account for similarities in the work of
authors by borrowing, my tendency was to explain them as undesigned
coincidences.  The question is of the widest range.  Some inquirers
explain the often minute coincidences in myths, popular tales, proverbs,
and riddles, found all over the world, by diffusion from a single centre
(usually India).  Others, like myself, do not deny cases of transmission,
but in other cases see spontaneous and independent, though coincident
invention.  I do not believe that the Arunta of Central Australia
borrowed from Plutarch the central feature of the myth of Isis and

It is not on Shakespeare’s use, now and then, of Greek and Latin models
and sources, but on coincidences detected by Mr. Collins himself, and not
earlier remarked, that he bases his belief in the saturation of
Shakespeare’s mind with Roman and Athenian literature.  Consequently we
can only do justice to Mr. Collins’s system, if we compare example after
example of his supposed instances of Shakespeare’s borrowing.  This is a
long and irksome task; and the only fair plan is for the reader to peruse
Mr. Collins’s _Studies in Shakespeare_, compare the Greek and Roman
texts, and weigh each example of supposed borrowing for himself.
Baconians must delight in this labour.

I shall waive the question whether it were not possible for Shakespeare
to obtain a view of the manuscript translation of plays of Plautus made
by Warner for his unlearned friends, and so to use the _Menæchmi_ as the
model of _The Comedy of Errors_.  He does not borrow phrases from it, as
he does from North’s _Plutarch_.

_Venus and Adonis_ owes to Ovid, at most, but ideas for three purple
patches, scattered in different parts of the _Metamorphoses_.  _Lucrece_
is based on the then untranslated _Fasti_ of Ovid.  I do not think
Shakespeare incapable of reading such easy Latin for himself; or too
proud to ask help from a friend, or buy it from some poor young
University man in London.  That is a simple and natural means by which he
could help himself when in search of a subject for a play or poem; and
ought not to be overlooked.

Mr. Collins, in his rapturous account of Shakespeare’s wide and profound
knowledge of the classics, opens with the remark: “Nothing which
Shakespeare has left us warrants us in pronouncing with certainty that he
read the Greek classics in the original, or even that he possessed enough
Greek to follow the Latin versions of those classics in the Greek text.”
{71a}  In that case, how did Shakespeare’s English become contaminated,
as Mr. Collins says it did, with Greek _idioms_, while he only knew the
Greek plays through Latin translations?

However this is to be answered, Mr. Collins proceeds to prove
Shakespeare’s close familiarity with Latin and with Greek dramatic
literature by a method of which he knows the perils—“it is always
perilous to infer direct imitation from parallel passages which may be
mere coincidences.” {72a}  Yet this method is what he practises
throughout; with what amount of success every reader must judge for

He thinks it “surely not unlikely” that Polonius’s

    “Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,”

may be a terse reminiscence of seven lines in Plautus (_Trinummus_, iv.
3).  Why, Polonius is a coiner of commonplaces, and if ever there were a
well-known reflection from experience it is this of the borrowers and

Next, take this of Plautus (_Pseudolus_, I, iv. 7–10), “But just as the
poet when he has taken up his tablets seeks what exists nowhere among
men, and yet finds it, and makes that like truth which is mere fiction.”
We are to take this as the possible germ of Theseus’s theory of the
origin of the belief in fairies:

    “And as imagination bodies forth
    The _forms_ of things unknown, the poet’s pen
    Turns them to _shapes_, and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name.”

The reasoning is odd; imagination bodies forth _forms_, and the poet’s
pen turns them to _shapes_.  But to suppose that Shakespeare here
borrowed from Plautus appears highly superfluous.

These are samples of Mr. Collins’s methods throughout.

Of Terence there were translations—first in part; later, in 1598, of the
whole.  Of Seneca there was an English version (1581).  Mr. Collins
labours to show that one passage “almost certainly” implies Shakespeare’s
use of the Latin; but it was used “by an inexact scholar,”—a terribly
inexact scholar, if he thought that “_alienus_” (“what belongs to
another”) meant “slippery”!

Most of the passages are from plays (_Titus Andronicus_ and _Henry VI_,
i., ii., iii.), which Mr. Greenwood denies (usually) to _his_ author, the
Great Unknown.  Throughout these early plays Mr. Collins takes
Shakespeare’s to resemble Seneca’s _Latin_ style: Shakespeare, then, took
up Greek tragedy in later life; after the early period when he dealt with
Seneca.  Here is a sample of borrowing from Horace, “_Persicos odi puer
apparatus_” (_Odes_. I, xxxviii. I).  Mr. Collins quotes _Lear_ (III, vi.
85) thus, “You will say they are _Persian attire_.”  Really, Lear in his
wild way says to Edgar, “I do not like the fashion of your garments: you
will say they are Persian; but let them be changed.”  Mr. Collins changes
this into “you will say they are _Persian attire_,” a phrase “which could
only have occurred to a classical scholar.”  The phrase is not in
Shakespeare, and Lear’s wandering mind might as easily select “Persian”
as any other absurdity.

So it is throughout.  Two great poets write on the fear of death, on the
cries of new-born children, on dissolution and recombination in nature,
on old age; they have ideas in common, obvious ideas, glorified by
poetry,—and Shakespeare, we are told, is borrowing from Lucretius or
Juvenal; while the critic leaves his reader to find out and study the
Latin passages which he does not quote.  So arbitrary is taste in these
matters that Mr. Collins, like Mr. Grant White, but independently, finds
Shakespeare putting a thought from the _Alcibiades I_ of Plato into the
mouth of Achilles in _Troilus and Cressida_, while Mr. J. M. Robertson
suggests that the borrowing is from Seneca—where Mr. Collins does not
find “the smallest parallel.”  Mr. Collins is certainly right; the author
of _Troilus_ makes Ulysses quote Plato as “the author” of a remark, and
makes Achilles take up the quotation, which Ulysses goes on to criticise.

Thus, in this play, not only Aristotle (as Hector says) but Plato are
taken to have lived before the Trojan war, and to have been read by the

There were Latin translations of Plato; the _Alcibiades I_ was published
apart, from Ficinus’ version, in 1560, with the sub-title, _Concerning
the Nature of Man_.  Who had read it?—Shakespeare, or one of the two
authors (Dekker and Chettle) of another _Troilus and Cressida_ (now
lost), or Bacon, or Mr. Greenwood’s Unknown?  Which of these Platonists
chose to say that Plato and Aristotle lived long before Homer?  Which of
them followed the Ionic and mediæval anti-Achæan view of Homer’s heroes,
as given in the Troy Books of the Middle Ages, and yet knew Iliad, Book
VII, and admired Odysseus, whom the Ionian tradition abhors?  _Troilus
and Cressida_ is indeed a mystery, but Somebody concerned in it had read
Ficinus’ version of the _Alcibiades_; {75a} and yet made the monstrous
anachronism of dating Aristotle and Plato before the Trojan war.  “That
was his fun,” as Charles Lamb said in another connection.

Mr. Collins, it is plain, goes much further than the “small Latin” with
which his age (like myself) credited Shakespeare.  He could read Latin,
Mr. Collins thinks, as easily as an educated Briton reads French—that is,
as easily as he reads English.  Still further, Shakespeare, through Latin
translations, was so saturated with the Greek drama “that the
characteristics which differentiate his work from the work of his
contemporaries and recall in essentials the work of the Greek dramatists
are actually attributable to these dramatists.”

Ben Jonson, and all the more or less well-taught University wits, as far
as I remember, like Greene, Marlowe, and Lyly, do not show much
acquaintance with Euripides, Æschylus, Sophocles, and do not often remind
us of these masters.  Shakespeare does remind us of them—the only
question is, do the resemblances arise from his possession of a genius
akin to that of Greece, or was his memory so stored with all the
treasures of their art that the waters of Helicon kept bubbling up
through the wells of Avon?

But does Mr. Collins prove (what, as he admits, _cannot_ be demonstrated)
that Shakespeare was familiar with the Attic tragedians?  He begins by
saying that he will not bottom his case “on the ground of parallels in
sentiment and reflection, which, as they express commonplaces, are likely
to be” (fortuitous) “coincidences.”  Three pages of such parallels, all
from Sophocles, therefore follow.  “Curiously close similarities of
expression” are also barred.  Four pages of examples therefore follow,
from Sophocles and Æschylus, plays and fragments, Euripides, and Homer
too (once!).  Again, “identities of sentiment under similar
circumstances” are not to be cited; two pages _are_ cited; and
“similarities, however striking they may be in metaphorical expression,”
cannot safely be used; several pages of them follow.

Finally, Mr. Collins chooses a single play, the _Aias_ of Sophocles, and
tests Shakespeare by that, unluckily in part from _Titus Andronicus_,
which Mr. Greenwood regards (usually) as non-Shakespearean, or not by his
unknown great author.  _Troilus and Cressida_, whatever part Shakespeare
may have had in it, does suggest to me that the author or authors knew of
Homer no more than the few books of the Iliad, first translated by
Chapman and published in 1598.  But he or they did know the _Aias_ of
Sophocles, according to Mr. Collins: so did the author of _Romeo and

Now all these sorts of parallels between Shakespeare and the Greeks are,
Mr. Collins tells us, not to count as proofs that Shakespeare knew the
Greek tragedians.  “We have obviously to be on our guard” {77a} against
three kinds of such parallels, which “may be mere coincidences,” {77b}
fortuitous coincidences.  But these coincidences against which “we must
be on our guard” fill sixteen pages (pp. 46–63).  These pages must
necessarily produce a considerable effect in the way of persuading the
reader that Shakespeare knew the Greek tragedians as intimately as Mr.
Collins did.  Mr. Greenwood is obliged to leave these parallels to
readers of Mr. Collins’s essay.  Indeed, what more can we do?  Who would
read through a criticism of each instance?  Two or three may be given.
The Queen in _Hamlet_ reminds that prince, grieving for his father’s
death, that “all that live must die”:

    “That loss is common to the race,
    And common is the common-place.”

The Greek Chorus offers the commonplace to Electra,—and here is a
parallel!  Again, two Greeks agree with Shakespeare that anxious
expectation of evil is worse than actual experience thereof.  Greece
agrees with Shakespeare that ill-gotten gains do not thrive, or that it
is not lucky to be “a corby messenger” of bad news; or that all goes ill
when a man acts against his better nature; or that we suffer most from
the harm which we bring on ourselves; or that there is strength in a
righteous cause; or that blood calls for blood (an idea common to
Semites, Greeks, and English readers of the Bible); or that, having lost
a very good man, you will not soon see his like again,—and so on as long
as you please.  Of such wisdom are proverbs made, and savages and
Europeans have many parallel proverbs.  _Vestigia nulla retrorsum_ is as
well known to Bushmen as to Latinists.  Manifestly nothing in this kind
proves, or even suggests, that Shakespeare was saturated in Greek
tragedy.  But page on page of such facts as that both Shakespeare and
Sophocles talk, one of “the belly-pinched wolf,” the other of “the
empty-bellied wolf,” are apt to impress the reader—and verily both
Shakespeare and Æschylus talk of “the heart dancing for joy.”  Mr.
Collins repeats that such things are no proof, but he keeps on piling
them up.  It was a theory of Shakespeare’s time that the apparent ghost
of a dead man might be an impersonation of him by the devil.  Hamlet
knows this—

    “The spirit that I have seen may be the devil.”

Orestes (_Electra_, Euripides) asks whether it may not be an avenging
dæmon (_alastor_) in the shape of a god, that bids him avenge his father.
Is Shakespeare borrowing from Euripides, or from a sermon, or any
contemporary work on ghosts, such as that of Lavater?

A girl dies or is sacrificed before her marriage, and characters in
_Romeo and Juliet_, and in Euripides, both say that Death is her
bridegroom.  Anyone might say that, anywhere, as in the Greek Anthology—

    “For Death not for Love hast thou loosened thy zone.”

One needs the space of a book wherein to consider such parallels.  But
confessedly, though a parade is made of them, they do not prove that
Shakespeare constantly read Greek tragedies in Latin translations.

To let the truth out, the resemblances are mainly found in such
commonplaces: as when both Aias and Antony address the Sun of their
latest day in life; or when John of Gaunt and Aias both pun on their own

The situations, in _Hamlet_ and the _Choephoræ_ and _Electra_, are so
close that resemblances in some passages must and do occur, and Mr.
Collins does not comment specially upon the closest resemblance of all:
the English case is here the murder of Duncan, the Greek is the murder of

Now it would be easy for me to bring forward many close parallels between
Homer and the old Irish epic story of Cuchulainn, between Homer and
_Beowulf_ and the Njal’s saga, yet Norsemen and the early Irish were not
students of Homer!  The parallel passages in Homer, on one side, and the
Old Irish _Tain Bo Cualgne_, and the Anglo-Saxon epics, are so numerous
and close that the theory of borrowing from Homer has actually occurred
to a distinguished Greek scholar.  But no student of Irish and
Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry has been found, I think, to suggest that Early
Irish and Anglo-Saxon Court minstrels knew Greek.  The curious may
consult Mr. Munro Chadwick’s _The Heroic Age_ (1912), especially Chapter
XV, “The Common Characteristics of Teutonic and Greek Heroic Poetry,” and
to what Mr. Chadwick says much might be added.

But, to be short, Mr. Collins’s case can only be judged by readers of his
most interesting _Studies in Shakespeare_.  To me, Hamlet’s soliloquy on
death resembles a fragment from the _Phœnix_ of Euripides no more closely
than two sets of reflections by great poets on the text that “of death we
know nothing” are bound to do,—though Shakespeare’s are infinitely the
richer.  For Shakespeare’s reflections on death, save where Christians
die in a Christian spirit, are as agnostic as those of the post-Æschylean
Greek and early Anglo-Saxon poets.  In many respects, as Mr. Collins
proves, Shakespeare’s highest and deepest musings are Greek in tone.  But
of all English poets he who came nearest to Greece in his art was Keats,
who of Greek knew nothing.  In the same way, a peculiar vein of
Anglo-Saxon thought, in relation to Destiny and Death, is purely Homeric,
though necessarily unborrowed; nor were a native Fijian poet’s lines on
old age, _sine amore jocisque_, borrowed from Mimnermus!  There is such a
thing as congruity of genius.  Mr. Collins states the hypothesis—not his
own—“that _by a certain natural affinity_ Shakespeare caught also the
accent and tone as well as some of the most striking characteristics of
Greek tragedy.”

Though far from accepting most of Mr. Collins’s long array of Greek
parallels, I do hold that by “natural affinity,” by congruity of genius,
Shakespeare approached and resembled the great Athenians.

One thing seems certain to me.  If Shakspere read and borrowed from Greek
poetry, he knew it as well (except Homer) as Mr. Collins knew it; and
remembered what he knew with Mr. Collins’s extraordinary tenacity of

Now if “Shakespeare” did all that, he was not the actor.  The author, on
Mr. Collins’s showing, must have been a very sedulous and diligent
student of Greek poetry, above all of the drama, down to its fragments.
The Baconians assuredly ought to try to prove, from Bacon’s works, that
he was such a student.

Mr. Collins, “a violent Stratfordian,” overproved his case.  If his
proofs be accepted, Shakspere the actor knew the Greek tragedians as well
as did Mr. Swinburne.  If the author of the plays were so learned, the
actor was not the author, in my opinion—he _was_, in the opinion of Mr.

If Shakespeare’s spirit and those of Sophocles and Æschylus meet, it is
because they move on the same heights, and thence survey with “the poet’s
sad lucidity” the same “pageant of men’s miseries.”  But how dissimilar
in expression Shakespeare can be, how luxuriant and apart from the
austerity of Greece, we observe in one of Mr. Collins’s parallels.

Polynices, in the _Phœnissæ_ of Euripides (504–506), exclaims:

    “To the stars’ risings, and the sun’s I’d go,
    And dive ’neath earth,—if I could do this thing,—
    Possess Heaven’s highest boon of sovereignty.”

Then compare Hotspur:

    “By Heaven, methinks it were an easy leap
    To pluck bright honour from the pale faced moon,
    Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
    Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
    And pluck up drownèd honour by the locks,
    So he that doth redeem her thence, might wear
    Without corrival all her dignities.”

What a hurrying crowd of pictures rush through Hotspur’s mind!  Is
Shakespeare thinking of the _Phœnissæ_, or is he speaking only on the
promptings of his genius?


A PHRASE has been used to explain the Greek element in Shakespeare’s
work, namely, “congruity of genius,” which is apt to be resented by
Baconians.  Perhaps they have a right to resent it, for “genius” is hard
to define, and genius is invoked by some wild wits to explain feats of
Shakespeare’s which (to Baconians) appear “miracles.”  A “miracle” also
is notoriously hard to define; but we may take it (“under all reserves”)
to stand for the occurrence of an event, or the performance of an action
which, to the speaker who applies the word “miracle,” seems “impossible.”
The speaker therefore says, “The event is impossible; miracles do not
happen: therefore the reported event never occurred.  The alleged
performance, the writing of the plays by the actor, was impossible, was a
miracle, therefore was done by some person or persons other than the
actor.”  This idea of the _impossibility_ of the player’s authorship is
the foundation of the Baconian edifice.

I have, to the best of my ability, tried to describe Mr. Greenwood’s view
of the young provincial from Warwickshire, Will Shakspere.  If Will were
what Mr. Greenwood thinks he was, then Will’s authorship of the plays
seems to me, “humanly speaking,” impossible.  But then Mr. Greenwood
appeared to omit from his calculations the circumstance that Will _may_
have been, not merely “a sharp boy” but a boy of great parts; and not
without a love of stories and poetry: a passion which, in a bookless
region, could only be gratified through folk-song, folk-tale, and such
easy Latin as he might take the trouble to read.  If we add to these very
unusual but not wholly impossible tastes and abilities, that Will _may_
have been a lad of genius, there is no more “miracle” in his case than in
other supreme examples of genius.  “But genius cannot work miracles,
cannot do what is impossible.”  Do what is impossible to whom?  To the
critics, the men of common sense.

Alas, all this way of talking about “miracles,” and “the impossible,” and
“genius” is quite vague and popular.  What do we mean by “genius”?  The
Latin term originally designates, not a man’s everyday intellect, but a
spirit from without which inspires him, like the “Dæmon,” or, in Latin,
“Genius” of Socrates, or the _lutin_ which rode the pen of Molière.
“Genius” is claimed for Shakespeare in an inscription on his Stratford
monument, erected at latest some six years after his death.  Following
this path of thought we come to “inspiration”: the notion of it, as
familiar to Australian savages as to any modern minds, is that, to the
poet, what he produces is _given_ by some power greater than himself, by
the _Boilyas_ (spirits) or Pundjel, the Father of all.  This palæolithic
psychology, of course, is now quite discredited, yet the term “genius” is
still (perhaps superstitiously) applied to the rare persons whose
intellectual faculties lightly outrun those of ordinary mortals, and who
do marvels with means apparently inadequate.

In recent times some philosophers, like Mr. F. W. H. Myers, put—in place
of the Muses or the _Boilyas_, or the Genius—what they call the
“Subliminal Self,” something “far more deeply interfused than the
everyday intellect.”  This subconscious self, capable of far more than
the conscious intelligence, is genius.

On the other side, genius may fairly be regarded as faculty, only higher
in degree, and not at all different in kind, from the everyday intellect
which, for example, pens this page.

Thus as soon as we begin to speak of “genius,” we are involved in
speculations, psychological, psychical, physical, and metaphysical; in
difficulties of all sorts not at present to be solved either by
physiological science or experimental psychology, or by psychical
research, or by the study of heredity.  When I speak of “the genius of
Shakespeare,” of Jeanne d’Arc, of Bacon, even of Wellington, I possibly
have a meaning which is not in all respects the meaning of Mr. Greenwood,
when he uses the term “genius”; so we are apt to misunderstand each
other.  Yet we all glibly use the term “genius,” without definition and
without discussion.

At once, too, in this quest, we jostle against “that fool of a word,” as
Napoleon said, “impossible.”  At once, on either side, we assume that we
know what is possible and what is impossible,—and so pretend to

Thus some “Stratfordians,” or defenders of the actor’s authorship,
profess to know—from all the signed work of Bacon, and from all that has
reached us about Bacon’s occupations and preoccupations, from 1590 to
1605—that the theory of Bacon’s authorship of the plays is “impossible.”
I, however, do not profess this omniscience.

On the other side the Baconian, arguing from all that _he_ knows, or
thinks he knows, or can imagine, of the actor’s education, conditions of
life, and opportunities, argues that the authorship of the actor is

Both sides assume to be omniscient, but we incontestably know much more
about Bacon, in his works, his aims, his inclinations, and in his life,
than we know about the actor; while about “the potentialities of genius,”
we know—very little.

Thus, with all Bacon’s occupations and preoccupations, he had, the
Baconians will allow, _genius_.  By the miracle of genius he _may_ have
found time and developed inclination, to begin by furbishing up older
plays for a company of actors: he did it extremely well, but what a
quaint taste for a courtier and scholar!  The eccentricities of genius
_may_ account for his choice of a “_nom de plume_,” which, if he desired
concealment, was the last that was likely to serve his turn.  He may also
have divined all the Doll Tearsheets and Mrs. Quicklys and Pistols, whom,
conceivably, he did not much frequent.

I am not one of those who deny that Bacon might have written _Hamlet_ “if
he had the mind,” as Charles Lamb said of Wordsworth.  Not at all; I am
the last to limit the potentialities of genius.

But suppose, merely for the sake of argument, that Will Shakspere too had
genius in that amazing degree which, in _Henry V_, the Bishop of Ely and
the Archbishop of Canterbury describe and discuss in the case of the
young king.  In this passage we perceive that the poet had brooded over
and been puzzled by the “miracle” (he uses the word) of genius.  Says
Canterbury speaking of the Prince’s wild youth,

    “Never was such a sudden scholar made.”

One Baconian objection to Shakespeare’s authorship is that during his
early years in London (say 1587–92) he was “such a sudden scholar made”
in various things.

The young king’s

       “addiction was to courses vain,
    His companies unletter’d, rude, and shallow,”

precisely like Shakespeare’s courses and companions at Stratford

    “Had never noted in him any study.”

Stratford tradition, a century after Shakespeare left the town, did not
remember “any study” in him; none had been “noted,” nor could have been
remembered.  To return to Henry, he shines in divinity, knowledge of
“commonwealth affairs,”

    “You would say, it hath been all in all his study.”

He is as intimate with the art of war; to him “Gordian knots of policy”
are “familiar as his garter.”  He _must_ have

    “The art and practic part of life,”

as “mistress to this theorie,”

    “Which is a wonder how his Grace should glean it,”

as his youth was riotous, and was lived in all men’s gaze,

    “And never noted in him any study,
    Any retirement, any sequestration
    From open haunts and popularity.”

The Bishop of Ely can only suggest that Henry’s study or “contemplation”

    “Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,

and Canterbury says

    “It must be so, for miracles are ceased.”

And thus the miracle of genius baffles the poet, for Henry’s had been
“noisy nights,” notoriously noisy.

Now, as we shall later show, Bacon’s rapid production of the plays,
considering his other contemporary activities and varied but always
absorbing interests, was as much a miracle as the sudden blossoming of
Henry’s knowledge and accomplishments; for all Bacon’s known exertions
and occupations, and his deepest and most absorbing interest, were remote
from the art of tragedy and comedy.  If we are to admit the marvel of
genius in Bacon, of whose life and pursuits we know much, by parity of
reasoning we may grant that the actor, of whom we know much less, may
have had genius: had powers and could use opportunities in a way for
which Baconians make no allowance.

We now turn to Mr. Greenwood’s chapter, “Shakespeare and ‘Genius.’”  It
opens with the accustomed list of poor Will’s disqualifications, “a boy
born of illiterate parents,” but we need not rehearse the list. {91a}  He
“comes to town” (date unknown) “a needy adventurer”; in 1593 appeared the
poem _Venus and Adonis_, author’s name being printed as “W. Shakespeare.”
Then comes _Lucrece_ (1594).  In 1598 _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, printed as
“corrected and augmented” by “W. Shakespere.”  And so on with all the
rest.  Criticism of the learning and splendour of the two poems follows.
To _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, and the amusing things written about it by
Baconians, I return; and to Shakespeare’s “impossible” knowledge of
courtly society, his “polish and urbanity,” his familiar acquaintance
with contemporary French politics, foreign proverbs, and “the gossip of
the Court” of Elizabeth: these points are made by His Honour Judge Webb.

All this lore to Shakespeare is “impossible”—he could not read, say some
Baconians, or had no Latin, or had next to none; on these points I have
said my say.  The omniscient Baconians know that all the early works
ascribed to the actor were impossible, to a man of, say thirty—who _was_
no more, and _knew_ no more, than they know that the actor was and knew;
and as for “Genius,” it cannot work miracles.  Genius “bestows upon no
one a knowledge of facts,” “Shakespeare, however favoured by nature,
could impart only what he had learned.”

Precisely, but genius as I understand it (and even cleverness) has a way
of acquiring knowledge of facts where the ordinary “dull intelligent man”
gains none.  Keen interest, keen curiosity, swift observation, even the
power of tearing out the things essential from a book, the gift of rapid
reading; the faculty of being alive to the fingertips,—these, with a
tenacious memory, may enable a small boy to know more facts of many sorts
than his elders and betters and all the neighbours.  They are puzzled, if
they make the discovery of his knowledge.  Scott was such a small boy;
whether we think him a man of genius or not.  Shakspere, even the actor,
was, perhaps, a man of genius, and possessed this power of rapid
acquisition and vivid retention of all manner of experience and
information.  To what I suppose to have been his opportunities in London,
I shall return.  Meanwhile, let the doubter take up any popular English
books of Shakespeare’s day: he will find them replete with much knowledge
wholly new to him—which he will also find in Shakespeare.

A good example is this: Judge Webb proclaimed that in points of
scientific lore (the lore of that age) Shakespeare and Bacon were much on
a level.  Professor Tyrrell, in a newspaper, said that the facts
staggered him, as a “Stratfordian.”  A friend told me that he too was
equally moved.  I replied that these pseudoscientific “facts” had long
been commonplaces.  Pliny was a rich source of them.  Professor Dowden
took the matter up, with full knowledge, {93a} and reconverted Mr.
Tyrrell, who wrote: “I am not versed in the literature of the
Shakespearian era, and I assumed that the Baconians who put forward the
parallelisms had satisfied themselves that the coincidences were peculiar
to the writings of the philosopher and the poet.  Professor Dowden has
proved that this is not so.” {93b}

Were I to enter seriously on this point of genius, I should begin by
requesting my adversaries to read Mr. F. W. H. Myers’s papers on “The
Mechanism of Genius” (in his _Human Personality_), and to consider the
humble problem of “Calculating Boys,” which is touched on also by
Cardinal Newman.  How do they, at the age of innocence, arrive at their
amazing results?  How did the child Pascal, ignorant of Euclid, work out
the Euclidean propositions of “bars and rounds,” as he called lines and
circles?  Science has no solution!

Transport the problem into the region of poetry and knowledge of human
nature, take Will in place of Pascal and Gauss, and (in manners and
matter of war) Jeanne d’Arc;—and science, I fancy, is much to seek for a

Mr. Greenwood considers, among others, the case of Robert Burns.  The
parallel is very interesting, and does not, I think, turn so much to Mr.
Greenwood’s advantage as he supposes.  The genius of Burns, of course, is
far indeed below the level of that of the author of the Shakespearean
plays.  But that author and Burns have this in common with each other
(and obviously with Homer), that their work arises from a basis of older
materials, already manipulated by earlier artists.  Burns almost always
has a key-note already touched, as confessedly in the poems of his
predecessor, Fergusson; of Hamilton of Gilbertfield; in songs, popular or
artistic, and so forth.  He “alchemised” his materials, as Mr. Greenwood
says of his author of the plays; turned dross into gold, brick into
marble.  Notoriously much Shakespearean work is of the same nature.

The education of Burns he owed to his peasant father, to his parish
school (in many such schools he might have acquired Latin and Greek; in
fact he did not), to a tutor who read with him some English and French;
and he knew a modernised version of Blind Harry’s _Wallace_; Locke’s
_Essay_; _The Spectator_, novels of the day, and vernacular Scots poets
of his century, with a world of old Scots songs.  These things, and such
as these, were Burns’s given literary materials.  He used them in the
only way open to him, in poems written for a rural audience, and
published for an Edinburgh public.  No classical, no theatrical materials
were given; or, if he read the old drama, he could not, in his rural
conditions, and in a Scotland where the theatre was in a very small way,
venture on producing plays, for which there was no demand, while he had
no knowledge of the Stage.  Burns found and filled the only channels open
to him, in a printed book, and in music books for which he transmuted old

The bookish materials offered to Will, in London, were crammed with
reminiscences from the classics, were mainly romantic and theatrical;
and, from his profession of actor, by far the best channel open to him
was the theatre.  Badly as it paid the outside author, there was nothing
that paid better.  _Venus and Adonis_ brought “more praise than pudding,”
if one may venture a guess.  With the freedom of the theatre Will could
soar to all heights and plumb all depths.  No such opportunity had Burns,
even if he could have used it, and, owing to a variety of causes, his
spirit soon ceased to soar high or wing wide.

I take Shakespeare, in London at least, to have read the current
Elizabethan light literature—_Euphues_, Lyly’s Court comedies, novels
full of the classics and of social life; Spenser, Sidney—his _Defence of
Poesy_, and _Arcadia_ (1590)—with scores of tales translated from the
Italian, French, and Spanish, all full of foreign society, and discourses
of knights and ladies.  He saw the plays of the day, perhaps as one of
“the groundlings.”  He often beheld Society, from without, when acting
before the Queen and at great houses.  He had thus, if I am right,
sufficient examples of style and manner, and knowledge of how the great
were supposed (in books) to comport and conduct themselves.  The books
were cheap, and could be borrowed, and turned over at the booksellers’
stalls. {96a}  The Elizabethan style was omnipresent.  Suppose that
Shakespeare was a clever man, a lover of reading, a rapid reader with an
excellent memory, easily influenced, like Burns, by what he read, and I
really think that my conjectures are not too audacious.  Not only “the
man in the street,” but “the reading public” (so loved by Coleridge),
have not the beginning of a guess as to the way in which a quick man
reads.  Watch them poring for hours over a newspaper!  Let me quote what
Sir Walter Raleigh says: {97a} “Shakespeare was one of those swift and
masterly readers who know what they want of a book; they scorn nothing
that is dressed in print, but turn over the pages with a quick
discernment of all that brings them new information, or jumps with their
thought, or tickles their fancy.  Such a reader will have done with a
volume in a few minutes, yet what he has taken from it he keeps for
years.  He is a live man; and is sometimes judged by slower wits to be a
learned man.”

I am taking Shakespeare to have been a reader of this kind, as was Dr.
Johnson, as are not a few men who have no pretensions to genius.  The
accomplishment is only a marvel to—well, I need not be particular about
the kind of person to whom it is a marvel!

Here, in fairness, the reader should be asked to consider an eloquent
passage of comparison between the knowledge of Burns and of Will, quoted
by Mr. Greenwood {97b} from Mr. Morgan. {97c}

Genius, says Mr. Morgan, “did not guide Burns’s untaught pen to write of
Troy or Egypt, of Athens and Cyprus.”  No! that was not Burns’s lay; nor
would he have found a public had he emulated the contemporary St. Andrews
professor, Mr. Wilkie, who wrote _The Epigoniad_, and sang of Cadmeian
Thebes, to the delight of David Hume, his friend.  The public of 1780–90
did not want new epics of heroic Greece from Mossgiel; nor was the
literature accessible to Burns full of the mediæval legends of Troy and
Athens.  But the popular literature accessible to Will was full of the
_mediæval_ legends of Thebes, Troy, and Athens; and of these, _not_ of
Homer, Will made his market.  Egypt he knew only in the new English
version of Plutarch’s _Lives_; of Homer, he (or the author of _Troilus
and Cressida_) used only Iliad VII., in Chapman’s new translation (1598).
For the rest he had Lydgate (perhaps), and, certainly, Caxton’s
_Destruction of Troy_, still reprinted as a _popular_ book as late as
1713.  Will did not, as Mr. Morgan says, “reproduce the very counterfeit
civilisations and manners of nations born and buried and passed into
history a thousand years before he had been begotten. . . ”  He bestowed
the manners of mediæval chivalrous romance on his Trojans and Greeks.  He
accommodated prehistoric Athens with a Duke.  He gave Scotland cannon
three hundred years too early; and made Cleopatra play at billiards.
Look at his notion of “the very manners” of early post-Roman Britain in
_Cymbeline_ and _King Lear_!  Concerning “the anomalous status of a King
of Scotland under one of its primitive Kings” the author of _Macbeth_
knew no more than what he read in Holinshed; of the actual truth
concerning Duncan (that old prince was, in fact, a young man slain in a
blacksmith’s bothy), and of the whole affair, the author knew nothing but
a tissue of sophisticated legends.  The author of the plays had no
knowledge (as Mr. Morgan inexplicably declares that he had) of “matters
of curious and occult research for antiquaries or dilettanti to dig out
of old romances or treaties or statutes rather than for historians to
treat of or schools to teach!”

_Mon Dieu_! do historians _not_ treat of “matters of curious research”
and of statutes and of treaties?  As for “old romances,” they were
current and popular.  The “occult” sources of _King Lear_ are a popular
tale attached to legendary “history” and a story in Sidney’s _Arcadia_.
Will, whom Mr. Morgan describes as “a letterless peasant lad,” or the
Author, whoever he was, is not “invested with all the love” (_sic_,
_v.1._ “lore”), “which the ages behind him had shut up in clasped books
and buried and forgotten.”

“Our friend’s style has flowery components,” Mr. Greenwood adds to this
deliciously eloquent passage from his American author, “and yet
Shakespeare who did all this,” _et cætera_.  But Shakespeare did _not_ do
“all this”!  We know the sources of the plays well enough: novels in one
of which “Delphos” is the insular seat of an oracle of Apollo; Holinshed,
with his contaminated legends; North’s _Plutarch_, done out of the
French; older plays, and the rest of it.  Shakespeare does not go to
Tighernach and the _Hennskringla_ for Macbeth; or for Hamlet to the saga
which is the source of Saxo; or for his English chronicle-plays to the
State Papers.  Shakespeare did not, like William of Deloraine, dig up
“clasped books, buried and forgotten.”  There is no original research;
the author uses the romances, novels, ballads, and popular books of
uncritical history which were current in his day.  Mr. Greenwood knows
that; Mr. Morgan, perhaps, knew it, but forgot what he knew; hurried away
by the Muse of Eloquence.  And the common Baconian may believe Mr.

But Mr. Greenwood asks “what was the poetic output?” in Burns’s case.
{100a}  It was what we know, and _that_ was what suited his age and his
circumstances.  It was lyric, idyll, song, and satire; it was not drama,
for to the Stage he had no access, he who passed but one winter in
Edinburgh, where the theatre was not the centre of literature.

Shakespeare came, with genius and with such materials as I have
suggested, to an entirely different market, the Elizabethan theatre.  I
have tried to show how easily his mind might be steeped in the
all-pervading classicism and foreign romance of the period, with the
wide, sketchy, general information, the commonly known fragments from the
great banquet of the classics,—with such history, wholly uncritical, as
Holinshed and Stow, and other such English chroniclers, could copiously
provide; with the courtly manners mirrored in scores of romances and
Court plays; and in the current popular _Morte d’Arthur_ and _Destruction
of Troy_.

I can agree with Mr. Greenwood, when he says that “Genius is a
potentiality, and whether it will ever become an actuality, and what it
will produce, depends upon the moral qualities with which it is
associated, and the opportunities that are open to it—in a word, on the
circumstances of its environment.” {101a}

Of course by “moral qualities,” a character without spot or stain is not
intended: we may take that for granted.  Otherwise, I agree; and think
that Shakespeare of Stratford had genius, and that what it produced was
in accordance with the opportunities open to it, and with “the
circumstances of its environment.”  Without the “environment,” no Jeanne
d’Arc,—without the environment, no Shakespeare.

To come to his own, Shakespeare needed the environment of “the light
people,” the crowd of wits living from hand to mouth by literature, like
Greene and Nash; and he needed that pell-mell of the productions of their
pens: the novels, the poems, the pamphlets, and, above all, the plays,
and the wine, the wild talk, the wit, the travellers’ tales, the seamen’s
company, the vision of the Court, the gallants, the beauties; and he
needed the People, of whom he does not speak in the terms of such a
philanthropist as Bacon professedly was.  Not as an aristocrat, a
courtier, but as a simple literary man, William does not like, though he
thoroughly understands, the mob.  Like Alceste (in _Le Misanthrope_ of
Poquelin), he might say,

    “_L’Ami du genre humain n’est point du tout mon fait_.”

In London, not in Stratford, he could and did find his mob.  This reminds
one to ask, how did the Court-haunting, or the study-haunting, or
law-court, and chamber of criminal examination-rooms haunting Bacon make
acquaintance with Mrs. Quickly, and Doll Tearsheet, and drawers, and
carters, and Bardolph, and Pistol, and copper captains, and all
Shakespeare’s crowd of people hanging loose on the town?

It is much easier to discover how Shakespeare found the tone and manners
of courtly society (which, by the way, are purely poetic and
conventional), than to find out where Bacon got his immense knowledge of
what is called “low life.”

If you reply, as regards Bacon, “his genius divined the Costards and
Audreys, the Doll Tearsheets and tapsters, and drawers, and Bardolphs,
and carters, from a hint or two, a glance,” I answer that Will had much
better sources for _them_ in his own experience of life, and had
conventional poetic sources for his courtiers—of whom, in the quick, he
saw quite as much as Molière did of his _Marquis_.

But one Baconian has found out a more excellent way of accounting for
Bacon’s pictures of rude rustic life, and he is backed by Lord Penzance,
that aged Judge.  The way is short.  These pictures of rural life and
character were interpolated into the plays of Bacon by his collaborator,
William Shakspere, actor, “who prepared the plays for the stage.”  This
brilliant suggestion is borrowed from Mr. Appleton Morgan. {103a}

Thus have these two Baconians perceived that it _is_ difficult to see how
Bacon obtained his knowledge of certain worlds and aspects of character
which he could scarcely draw “from the life.”  I am willing to ascribe
miracles to the genius of Bacon; but the Baconians cited give the honour
to the actor, “who prepared the plays for the stage.”

Take it as you please, my Baconian friends who do not believe as I
believe in “Genius.”  Shakespeare and Molière did not live in “Society,”
though both rubbed shoulders with it, or looked at it over the invisible
barrier between the actor and the great people in whose houses or palaces
he takes the part of Entertainer.  The rest they divined, by genius.

Bacon did not, perhaps, study the society of carters, drawers, Mrs.
Quickly, and Doll Tearsheet; of copper captains and their boys; not at
Court, not in the study, did he meet them.  How then did he create his
multitude of very low-lived persons?  Rustics and rural constables he
_may_ have lovingly studied at Gorhambury, but for his collection of
other very loose fish Bacon must have kept queer company.  So you have to
admit “Genius,”—the miracle of “Genius” in your Bacon,—to an even greater
extent than I need it in the case of my Will; or, like Lord Penzance, you
may suggest that Will collaborated with Bacon.

Try to imagine that Will was a born poet, like Burns, but with a very
different genius, education, and environment.  Burns could easily get at
the Press, and be published: that was impossible for Shakespeare at
Stratford, if he had written any lyrics.  Suppose him to be a poet, an
observer, a wit, a humorist.  Tradition at Stratford says something about
the humorist, and tradition, _in similar circumstances_, would have
remembered no more of Burns, after the lapse of seventy years.

Imagine Will, then, to have the nature of a poet (that much I am obliged
to assume), and for nine or ten years, after leaving school at thirteen,
to hang about Stratford, observing nature and man, flowers and foibles,
with thoughts incommunicable to Sturley and Quiney.  Some sorts of
park-palings, as he was married at eighteen, he could not break so
lightly as Burns did,—some outlying deer he could not so readily shoot
at, perhaps, but I am not surprised if he assailed other deer, and was in
troubles many.  Unlike Burns, he had a keen eye for the main chance.
Everything was going to ruin with his father; school-mastering, if he
tried it (I merely follow tradition), was not satisfactory.  His opinion
of dominies, if he wrote the plays, was identical with that frequently
expressed, in fiction and privately, by Sir Walter Scott.

Something must be done!  Perhaps the straitest Baconian will not deny
that companies of players visited Stratford, or even that he may have
seen and talked with them, and been attracted.  He was a practical man,
and he made for London, and, by tradition, we first find him heading
straight for the theatre, holding horses at the door, and organising a
small brigade of boys as his deputies.  According to Ben Jonson he shone
in conversation; he was good company, despite his rustic accent, that
terrible bar!  The actors find that out; he is admitted within the house
as a “servitor”—a call-boy, if you like; an apprentice, if you please.

By 1592, when Greene wrote his _Groatsworth_, “Shakescene” thinks he can
bombast out a blank verse with the best; he is an actor, he is also an
author, or a furbisher of older plays, and, as a member of the company,
is a rival to be dreaded by Greene’s three author friends: whoever they
were, they were professional University playwrights; the critics think
that Marlowe, so near his death, was one of them.

Will, supposing him to come upon the town in 1587, has now had, say, five
years of such opportunities as were open to a man connected with the
stage.  Among these, in that age, we may, perhaps, reckon a good deal of
very mixed society—writing men, bookish young blades, young blades who
haunt the theatre, and sit on the stage, as was the custom of the

What follows?  Chaff follows, a kind of intimacy, a supper, perhaps,
after the play, if an actor seems to be good company.  This is quite
natural; the most modish young gallants are not so very dainty as to
stand aloof from any amusing company.  They found it among
prize-fighters, when Byron was young, and extremely conscious of the fact
that he was a lord.  Moreover there were no women on the stage to
distract the attention of the gallants.  The players, says Asinius Lupus,
in Jonson’s _Poetaster_, “corrupt young gentry very much, I know it.”  I
take the quotation from Mr. Greenwood. {106a}  They could not corrupt the
young gentry, if they were not pretty intimate with them.  From Ben’s
_Poetaster_, which bristles with envy of the players, Mr. Greenwood also
quotes a railing address by a copper captain to Histrio, a poor actor,
“There are some of you players honest, gentlemanlike scoundrels, and
suspected to ha’ some wit, as well as your poets, both at drinking and
breaking of jests; _and are companions for gallants_.  A man may skelder
ye, now and then, of half a dozen shillings or so.” {107a}  We think of
Nigel Olifaunt in _The Fortunes of Nigel_; but better gallants might
choose to have some acquaintance with Shakespeare.

To suppose that young men of position would not form a playhouse
acquaintanceship with an amusing and interesting actor seems to me to
show misunderstanding of human nature.  The players were, when
unprotected by men of rank, “vagabonds.”  The citizens of London, mainly
Puritans, hated them mortally, but the young gallants were not Puritans.
The Court patronised the actors who performed Masques in palaces and
great houses.  The wealth and splendid attire of the actors, their
acquisition of land and of coats of arms infuriated the sweated
playwrights.  Envy of the actors appears in the Cambridge “Parnassus”
plays of _c._ 1600–2.  In the mouth of Will Kempe, who acted Dogberry in
Shakespeare’s company, and was in favour, says Heywood, with Queen
Elizabeth, the Cambridge authors put this brag: “For Londoners, who of
more report than Dick Burbage and Will Kempe?  He is not counted a
gentleman that knows not Dick Burbage and Will Kempe.”  It is not my
opinion that Shakespeare was, as Ben Jonson came to be, as much “in
Society” as is possible for a mere literary man.  I do not, in fancy, see
him wooing a Maid of Honour.  He was a man’s man, a peer might be
interested in him as easily as in a jockey, a fencer, a tennis-player, a
musician, _que sçais-je_?  Southampton, discovering his qualities, may
have been more interested, interested in a better way.

In such circumstances which are certainly in accordance with human
nature, I suppose the actor to have been noticed by the young, handsome,
popular Earl of Southampton; who found him interesting, and interested
himself in the poet.  There followed the dedication to the Earl of _Venus
and Adonis_; a poem likely to please any young amorist (1693).

Mr. Greenwood cries out at the audacity of a player dedicating to an
Earl, without even saying that he has asked leave to dedicate.  The mere
fact that the dedication was accepted, and followed by that of _Lucrece_,
proves that the Earl did not share the surprise of Mr. Greenwood.  He,
conceivably, will argue that the Earl knew the real concealed author, and
the secret of the pseudonym.  But of the hypothesis of such a choice of a
pseudonym, enough has been said.  Whatever happened, whatever the Earl
knew, if it were discreditable to be dedicated to by an actor,
Southampton was discredited; for we are to prove that all in the world of
letters and theatre who have left any notice of Shakespeare identified
the actor with the poet.

This appears to me to be the natural way of looking at the affair.  But,
says Mr. Greenwood, of this intimacy or “patronage” of Southampton “not a
scrap of evidence exists.” {109a}  Where would Mr. Greenwood expect to
find a scrap of evidence?  In literary anecdote?  Of contemporary
literary anecdote about Shakespeare, as about Beaumont, Dekker, Chapman,
Heywood, and Fletcher, there is none, or next to none.  There is the
tradition that Southampton gave the poet £1000 towards a purchase to
which he had a mind.  (Rowe seems to have got this from Davenant,—through
Betterton.)  In what documents would the critic expect to find a scrap of
evidence?  Perhaps in Southampton’s book of his expenditure, and that
does not exist.  It is in the accounts of Prince Charlie that I find him,
poor as he was, giving money to Jean Jacques Rousseau.

As to the chances of an actor’s knowing “smart people,” Heywood, who knew
all that world, tells us {109b} that “Tarleton, in his time, was gracious
with the Queen, his sovereign,” Queen Elizabeth.  “Will Kempe was in the
favour of his sovereign.”

_They_ had advantages, they were not literary men, but low comedians.  I
am not pretending that, though his

       “flights upon the banks of Thames
    So did take Eliza and our James,”

Will Shakspere “was gracious with the Queen.”

We may compare the dedication of the Folio of 1623; here two players
address the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery.  They have the audacity to
say nothing about having asked and received permission to dedicate.  They
say that the Earls “have prosecuted both the plays and their authour
living” (while in life) “with much favour.”  They “have collected and
published the works of ‘the dead’ . . . only to keep alive the memory of
so worthy a Friend, and Fellow” (associate) “as was our Shakespeare,
‘your servant Shakespeare.’”

Nothing can possibly be more explicit, both as to the actor’s authorship
of the plays, and as to the favour in which the two Earls held him.  Mr.
Greenwood {110a} supposes that Jonson wrote the Preface, which contains
an allusion to a well-known ode of Horace, and to a phrase of Pliny.  Be
that as it may, the Preface signed by the two players speaks to Pembroke
and Montgomery.  To _them_ it cannot lie; _they_ know whether they
patronised the actor or not; whether they believed, or not, that the
plays were their “servant’s.”  How is Mr. Greenwood to overcome this
certain testimony of the Actors, to the identity of their late “Fellow”
the player, with the author; and to the patronage which the Earls
bestowed on him and his compositions?  Mr. Greenwood says nothing except
that we may reasonably suppose Ben to have written the dedication which
the players signed. {111a}

Whether or not the two Earls had a personal knowledge of Shakespeare, the
dedication does not say in so many words.  They had seen his plays and
had “favoured” both him and them, with so much favour, had “used
indulgence” to the author.  That is not nearly explicit enough for the
precise Baconians.  But the Earls knew whether what was said were true or
false.  I am not sure whether the Baconians regard them as having been
duped as to the authorship, or as fellow-conspirators with Ben in the
great Baconian joke and mystery—that “William Shakespeare” the author is
not the actor whose Stratford friend, Collyns, has his name written in
legal documents as “William Shakespeare.”

Anyone, however, may prefer to believe that, while William Shakspere was
acting in a company (1592–3), Bacon, or who you please, wrote _Venus and
Adonis_, and, signing “W. Shakspeare,” dedicated it to his young friend,
the Earl, promising to add “some graver labour,” a promise fulfilled in
_Lucrece_.  In 1593, Bacon was chiefly occupied, we shall see, with the
affairs of a young and beautiful Earl—the Earl of Essex, not of
Southampton: to Essex he did not dedicate his two poems (if _Venus_ and
_Lucrece_ were his).  He “did nothing but ruminate” (he tells the world)
on Essex.  How Mr. Greenwood’s Unknown was occupied in 1593–4, of course
we cannot possibly be aware.

I have thus tried to show that Will Shakspere, if he had as much
schooling as I suggest; and if he had four or five years of life in
London, about the theatre, and, above all, had genius, might, by 1592, be
the rising player-author alluded to as “Shakescene.”  There remains a
difficulty.  By 1592 Will had not time to be guilty of _thirteen_ plays,
or even of six.  But I have not credited him with the authorship,
between, say, 1587 and 1593, of eleven plays, namely, _Hamlet_, _Romeo
and Juliet_, _Midsummer Night’s Dream_, _Titus Andronicus_, _Comedy of
Errors_, _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, _King John_, the three plays of _Henry
VI_, and _The Taming of the Shrew_.  Mr. Greenwood {112a} cites Judge
Webb for the fact that between the end of 1587 and the end of 1592 “some
half-dozen Shakespearean dramas had been written,” and for Dr.
Furnivall’s opinion that eleven had been composed.

If I believed that half a dozen, or eleven Shakespearean plays, as we
have them, had been written or composed, between 1587 and 1592, I should
be obliged to say that, in my opinion, they were not composed, in these
five years, by Will.  Mr. Greenwood writes, “Some of the dates are
disputable”; and, for himself, would omit “_Titus Andronicus_, the three
plays of _Henry VI_, and possibly also _The Taming of the Shrew_, while
the reference to _Hamlet_ also is, as I have elsewhere shown, of very
doubtful force.” {113a}  This leaves us with six of Dr. Furnivall’s list
of earliest plays put out of action.  The miracle is decomposing, but
plays numerous enough to stagger my credulity remain.

I cannot believe that the author even of the five plays before 1592–3 was
the ex-butcher’s boy.  Meanwhile these five plays, written by somebody
before 1593, meet the reader on the threshold of Mr. Greenwood’s book
{113b} with Dr. Furnivall’s eleven; and they fairly frighten him, if he
be a “Stratfordian.”  “Will, even Will,” says the Stratfordian, “could
not have composed the five, much less the eleven, much less Mr. Edwin
Reed’s thirteen ‘before 1592.’” {113c}  But, at the close of his work
{113d} Mr. Greenwood reviews and disbands that unlucky troop of thirteen
Shakespearean plays “before 1592” as mustered by Mr. Reed, a Baconian of
whom Mr. Collins wrote in terms worthy of _feu_ Mr. Bludyer of _The

From the five plays left to Shakespeare’s account in p. 51, _King John_
(as we know it) is now eliminated.  “I find it impossible to believe that
the same man was the author of the drama” (_The Troublesome Reign of King
John_) “published in 1591, and that which, so far as we know, first saw
the light in the Folio of 1623 . . .  Hardly a single line of the
original version reappears in the _King John_ of Shakespeare.” {114a}  “I
think it is a mistake to endeavour to fortify the argument against him”
(my Will, _toi que j’aime_), “by ascribing to Shakespeare such old plays
as the _King John_ of 1591 or the primitive _Hamlet_.” {114b}

I thought so too, when I read p. 51, and saw _King John_ apparently still
“coloured on the card” among “Shakespeare’s lot.”  We are now left with
_Love’s Labour’s Lost_, _Midsummer Night’s Dream_, _Comedy of Errors_,
and _Romeo and Juliet_, out of Dr. Furnivall’s list of plays up to 1593.
The phantom force of miraculously early plays is “following darkness like
a dream.”  We do not know the date of _A Midsummer Night’s Dream_, we do
not know the date of _Romeo and Juliet_.  Mr. Gollancz dates the former
“about 1592,” and the latter “at 1591.” {114c}  This is a mere personal
speculation.  Of _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, we only know that our version is
one “corrected and augmented” by William Shakespeare in 1598.  I dare say
it is as early as 1591–2, in its older form.  Of _The Comedy of Errors_,
Mr. Collins wrote, “It is all but certain that it was written between
1589 and 1592, and it is quite certain that it was written before the end
of 1594.” {114d}

The legion of Shakespearean plays of date before 1593 has vanished.  The
miracle is very considerably abated.  In place of introducing the airy
hosts of plays before 1592, in p. 51, it would have been, perhaps, more
instructive to write that, as far as we can calculate, Shakespeare’s
earliest trials of his pinions as a dramatist may be placed about 1591–3.
There would then have been no specious appearance of miracles to be
credited by Stratfordians to Will.  But even so, we have sufficient to
“give us pause,” says Mr. Greenwood, with justice.  It gives _me_
“pause,” if I am to believe that, between 1587 and 1592, Will wrote
_Love’s Labour’s Lost_, _The Comedy of Errors_, _A Midsummer Night’s
Dream_, and _Romeo and Juliet_.  There is a limit even to my gullibility,
and if anyone wrote all these plays, as we now possess them, before 1593,
I do not suppose that Will was the man.  But the dates, in fact, are
unknown: the miracle is apocryphal.


WE now come to consider another “miracle” discovered in the plays,—a
miracle if the actor be the author.  The new portent is the courtliness
and refinement (too often, alas! the noblest ladies make the coarsest
jokes) and wit of the speeches of the noble gentlemen and ladies in the
plays.  To be sure the refinement in the jests is often conspicuously
absent.  How could the rude actor learn his quips and pretty phrases, and
farfetched conceits?  This question I have tried to answer already,—the
whole of these fashions abound in the literature of the day.

Here let us get rid of the assumption that a poet could not make the
ladies and gentlemen of his plays converse as they do converse, whether
in quips and airs and graces, or in loftier style, unless he himself
frequented their society.  Marlowe did not frequent the best society;
_he_ was no courtier, but there is the high courtly style in the speeches
of the great and noble in _Edward II_.  Courtiers and kings never did
speak in this manner, any more than they spoke in blank verse.  The style
is a poetical convention, while the quips and conceits, the airs and
graces, ran riot through the literature of the age of Lyly and his
_Euphues_ and his comedies, the age of the _Arcadia_.

A cheap and probable source of Will’s courtliness is to be found in the
courtly comedies of John Lyly, five of which were separately printed
between 1584 and 1592.  Lyly’s “real significance is that he was the
first to bring together on the English stage the elements of high comedy,
thereby preparing the way for Shakespeare’s _Much Ado about Nothing_ and
_As You Like It_” (and _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, one may add).  “Whoever
knows his Shakespeare and his Lyly well can hardly miss the many
evidences that Shakespeare had read Lyly’s plays almost as closely as
Lyly had read Pliny’s _Natural History_. . . .  One could hardly imagine
_Love’s Labour’s Lost_ as existent in the period from 1590 to 1600, had
not Lyly’s work just preceded it.” {120a}

“It is to Lyly’s plays,” writes Dr. Landmann, “that Shakespeare owes so
much in the liveliness of his dialogues, in smartness of expression, and
especially in that predilection for witticisms, quibbles, and playing
upon words which he shows in his comedies as well as in his tragedies.”
There follows a dissertation on the affected styles of Guevara and
Gongora, of the _Pléiade_ in France, and generally of the artificial
manner in Europe, till in England we reach Lyly, “in whose comedies,”
says Dr. Furness, “I think we should look for motives which appeared
later in Shakespeare.” {121a}

The Baconians who think that a poet could not derive from books and court
plays his knowledge of fashions far more prevalent in literature than at
Court, decide that the poet of _Love’s Labour’s Lost_ was not Will, but
the courtly “concealed poet.”  No doubt Baconians may argue with Mr. R.
M. Theobald {121b} that “Bacon wrote Marlowe,” and, by parity of
reasoning many urge, though Mr. Theobald does not, that Bacon wrote Lyly,
pouring into Lyly’s comedies the grace and wit, the quips and conceits of
his own courtly youth.  “What for no?”  The hypothesis is as good as the
other hypotheses, “Bacon wrote Marlowe,” “Bacon wrote Shakespeare.”

The less impulsive Baconians and the Anti-Willians appear to ignore the
well-known affected novels which were open to all the world, and are
noted even in short educational histories of English literature.
Shakespeare, in London, had only to look at the books on the stalls, to
read or, if he had the chance, to see Lyly’s plays, and read the poems of
the time.  I am taking him not to be a dullard but a poet.  It was not
hard for him, if he were a poet of genius, not only to catch the manner
of Lyly’s Court comedies, and “Marlowe’s mighty line” (Marlowe was not
“brought up on the knees of Marchionesses”!), but to improve on them.
People did not commonly talk in the poetical way, heaven knows; people
did not write in the poetic convention.  Certainly Queen Mary and Queen
Elizabeth talked and wrote, as a rule (we have abundance of their
letters), like women of this world.  There is a curious exception in
Letter VIII of the Casket Letters from Mary to Bothwell.  In this (we
have a copy of the original French), Mary plunges into the affected and
figured style already practised by _Les Précieuses_ of her day; and
expands into symbolisms in a fantastic jargon.  If courtiers of both
sexes conversed in the style of _Euphues_ (which is improbable), they
learned the trick of it from _Euphues_; not the author of _Euphues_ from
them.  Lyly’s most popular prose was accessible to Shakespeare.  The
whole convention as to how the great should speak and bear themselves was
accessible in poetry and the drama.  A man of genius naturally made his
ladies and courtiers more witty, more “conceited,” more eloquent, more
gracious than any human beings ever were anywhere, in daily life.

It seems scarcely credible that one should be obliged to urge facts so
obvious against the Baconian argument that only a Bacon, intimately
familiar with the society of the great, could make the great speak as, in
the plays, they do—and as in real life they probably did _not_!

We now look at _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, published in quarto, in 1598, as
“corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere.”  The date of composition is
unknown, but the many varieties of versification, with some allusions,
mark it as among the earliest of the dramas.  Supposing that Shakespeare
obtained his knowledge of fine manners and speech, and of the tedious
quips and conceits which he satirises, from the contemporary poems,
plays, and novels which abounded in them, and from _précieux_ and
_précieuses_ who imitated them, as I suggest, even then _Love’s Labour’s
Lost_ is an extremely eccentric piece.  I cannot imagine how a man who
knew the foreign politics of his age as Bacon did, could have dreamed of
writing anything so eccentric, that is, if it has any connection with
foreign politics of the time.

The scene is the Court of _Ferdinand_, King of Navarre.  In 1589–93, the
eyes of England were fixed on the Court of her ally, _Henri_ of Navarre,
in his struggle with the League and the Guises; the War of Religion.  But
the poet calls the King “Ferdinand,” taking perhaps from some story this
non-existent son of Charles III of Navarre (died 1425): to whom,
according to Monstrelet, the Burgundian chronicler of that time, the
French king owed 200,000 ducats of gold.  This is a transaction of the
early fifteenth century, and leads to the presence of the princess of
France as an envoy at the Court of Navarre in the play; the whole thing
is quite unhistorical, and has the air of being borrowed from some lost
story or brief novel.  Bacon’s brother, Anthony, was English minister at
the Court of Navarre.  What could tempt Bacon to pick out a
non-historical King Ferdinand of Navarre, plant him in the distant days
of Jeanne d’Arc, and make him, at that period, found an Academe for three
years of austere study and absence of women?  But, if Bacon did this,
what could induce him to give to the non-existent Ferdinand, as
companions, the Maréchal de Biron with de Longueville (both of them, in
1589–93, the chief adherents of Henri of Navarre), and add to them
“Dumain,” that is, the Duc de Mayenne, one of the Guises, the deadly foes
of Henri and of the Huguenots?  Even in the unhistorically minded
Shakespeare, the freak is of the most eccentric,—but in Bacon this
friskiness is indeed strange.  I cannot, like Mr. Greenwood, {124a} find
any “allusions to the Civil War of France.”  France and Navarre, in the
play, are in full peace.

The actual date of the fabulous King Ferdinand would have been about
1430.  By introducing Biron, Longueville, and the Duc de Mayenne, and
Bankes’s celebrated educated horse, the author shifts the date to 1591.
But the Navarre of the play is a region “out of space, out of time,” a
fairy world of projected Academes (like that of the four young men in de
la Primaudaye’s _L’Académie Française_, Englished in 1586) and of peace,
while the actual King of Navarre of 1591 was engaged in a struggle for
life and faith; and in his ceaseless amours.

Many of Shakespeare’s anachronisms are easily intelligible.  He takes a
novel or story about any remote period, or he chooses, as for the
_Midsummer Night’s Dream_, a period earlier than that of the Trojan war.
He gives to the Athens contemporary with the “Late Minoan III” period
(1600 B.C.?) a Duke, and his personages live like English nobles and
rustics of his own day, among the fairies of English folk-lore.  It is
the manner of Chaucer and of the poets and painters of any age before the
end of the eighteenth century.  The resulting anachronisms are natural
and intelligible.  We do not expect war-chariots in _Troilus and
Cressida_; it is when the author makes the bronze-clad Achæans familiar
with Plato and Aristotle that we are surprised.  In _Love’s Labour’s
Lost_ we do not expect the author to introduce the manners of the early
fifteenth century, the date of the affair of the 200,000 ducats.  Let the
play reflect the men and manners of 1589–93,—but why place Mayenne, a
fanatical Catholic foe of Navarre, among the courtiers of the Huguenot
King of Navarre?

As for de Mayenne (under the English spelling of the day Dumain)
appearing as a courtier of his hated adversary Henri, Bacon, of all men,
could not have made that absurd error.  It was Shakespeare who took but
an absent-minded interest in foreign politics.  If Bacon is building his
play on an affair, the ducats, of 1425–35 (roughly speaking), he should
not bring in a performing horse, trained by Bankes, a Staffordshire man,
which was performing its tricks at Shrewsbury—in 1591. {126a}  Thus early
we find that great scholar mixing up chronology in a way which, in
Shakespeare even, surprises; but, in Bacon, seems quite out of keeping.

Shakespeare, as Sir Sidney Lee says, gives Mayenne as “Dumain,”—Mayenne,
“whose name was so frequently mentioned in popular accounts of French
affairs in connection with Navarre’s movements that Shakespeare was led
to number him also among his supporters.”  Bacon would not have been so
led!  As Mayenne and Henri fought against each other at Ivry, in 1590,
this was carrying nonsense far, even for Will, but for the earnestly
instructive Bacon!

“The habits of the author could not have been more scholastic,” so Judge
Webb is quoted, “if he had, like Bacon, spent three years in the
University of Cambridge . . . ”  Bacon, or whoever corrected the play in
1598, might have corrected “primater” into “pia mater,” unless Bacon
intended the blunder for a malapropism of “Nathaniel, a Curate.”  Either
Will or Bacon, either in fun or ignorance, makes Nathaniel turn a common
Italian proverb on Venice into gibberish.  It was familiar in Florio’s
_Second __Frutes_ (1591), and _First Frutes_ (1578), with the English
translation.  The books were as accessible to Shakspere as to Bacon.
Either author might also draw from James Sandford’s _Garden of Pleasure_,
done out of the Italian in 1573–6.

Where the scholastic habits of Bacon at Cambridge are to be discovered in
this play, I know not, unless it be in Biron’s witty speech against
study.  If the wit implies in the author a Cambridge education, Costard
and Dull and Holofernes imply familiarity with rustics and country
schoolmasters.  Where the author proves that he “could not have been more
familiar with French politics if, like Bacon, he had spent three years in
the train of an Ambassador to France,” I cannot conjecture.  _There are
no French politics in the piece_, any more than there are “mysteries of
fashionable life,” such as Bacon might have heard of from Essex and
Southampton.  There is no “familiarity with all the gossip of the Court”;
there is no greater knowledge of foreign proverbs than could be got from
common English books.  There is abundance, indeed overabundance of
ridicule of affected styles, and quips, with which the literature of the
day was crammed: call it Gongorism, Euphuism, or what you please.  One
does not understand how or where Judge Webb (in extreme old age) made all
these discoveries, sympathetically quoted by Mr. Greenwood. {127a}  “Like
Bacon, the author of the play must have had a large command of books; he
must have had his “Horace,” his “Ovidius Naso,” and his “good old
‘Mantuan.’”  What a prodigious “command of books”!  Country schoolmasters
confessedly had these books on the school desks.  It was not even
necessary for the author to “have access to the _Chronicles_ of
Monstrelet.”  It is not known, we have said, whether or not such plot as
the play possesses, with King Ferdinand and the 100,000 ducats, or
200,000 ducats (needed to bring the Princess and the mythical King
Ferdinand of Navarre together), were not adapted by the poet from an
undiscovered _conte_, partly based on a passage in Monstrelet.

Perhaps it will be conceded that _Love’s Labour’s Lost_ is not a play
which can easily be attributed to Bacon.  We do not know how much of the
play existed before Shakespeare “augmented” it in 1598.  We do not know
whether what he then corrected and augmented was an early work of his own
or from another hand, though probably it was his own.  Molière certainly
corrected and augmented and transfigured, in his illustrious career in
Paris, several of the brief early sketches which he had written when he
was the chief of a strolling _troupe_ in Southern France.

Mr. Greenwood does not attribute the wit (such as it is), the quips, the
conceits, the affectations satirised in _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, to Will’s
knowledge of the artificial style then prevalent in all the literatures
of Western Europe, and in England most pleasingly used in Lyly’s
comedies.  No, “the author must have been not only a man of high
intellectual culture, but one who was intimately acquainted with the ways
of the Court, and the fashionable society of his time, as also with
contemporary foreign politics.” {129a}

I search the play once more for the faintest hint of knowledge of foreign
politics.  The embassy of the daughter of the King of France (who, by the
date of the affair of the ducats, should be Charles VII) has been
compared to a diplomatic sally of the mother of the childless actual King
of France (Henri III), in 1586, when Catherine de Medici was no chicken.
I do not see in the embassy of the Princess of the story any “intimate
acquaintance with contemporary foreign politics” about 1591–3.  The
introduction of Mayenne as an adherent of the King of Navarre, shows
either a most confused ignorance of foreign politics on the part of the
author, or a freakish contempt for his public.  I am not aware that the
author shows any “intimate acquaintance with the ways” of Elizabeth’s
Court, or of any other fashionable society, except the Courts which Fancy
held in plays.

Mr. Greenwood {129b} appears to be repeating “the case as to this very
remarkable play” as “well summed up by the late Judge Webb in his
_Mystery of William Shakespeare_” (p. 44).  In that paralysing judicial
summary, as we have seen, “the author could not have been more familiar
with French politics if, like Bacon, he had spent three years in the
train of an Ambassador to France.”  The French politics, in the play, are
to send the daughter of a King of France (the contemporary King Henri III
was childless) to conduct a negotiation about 200,000 ducats, at the
Court, steeped in peace, of a King of Navarre, a scholar who would fain
be a recluse from women, in an Academe of his own device.  Such was not
the Navarre of Henri in his war with the Guises, and Henri did not shun
the sex!

Such are the “contemporary foreign politics,” the “French politics” which
the author knows—as intimately as Bacon might have known them.  They are
not foreign politics, they are not French politics, they are politics of
fairy-land: with which Will was at least as familiar as Bacon.

These, then, are the arguments in favour of Bacon, or the Great Unknown,
which are offered with perfect solemnity of assurance: and the Baconians
repeat them in their little books of popularisation and propaganda.
_Quantula sapientia_!


IT is absolutely impossible to prove that Will, or Bacon, or the Man in
the Moon, was the author of the Shakespearean plays and poems.  But it is
easy to prove that Will was recognised as the author, by Ben Jonson,
Heywood, and Heminge and Condell the actors, to take the best witnesses.
Meanwhile we have received no hint that any man except Will was ever
suspected of being the author till 1856, when the twin stars of Miss
Delia Bacon and Mr. Smith arose.  The evidence of Ben Jonson and the rest
can only prove that professed playwrights and actors, who knew Will both
on and off the stage, saw nothing in him not compatible with his work.
Had he been the kind of letterless country fellow, or bookless fellow
whom the Baconians and Mr. Greenwood describe, the contemporary witnesses
cited must have detected Will in a day; and the story of the “Concealed
Poet” who really, at first, did the additions and changes in the
Company’s older manuscript plays, and of the inconceivably impudent
pretences of Will of Stratford, would have kept the town merry for a
month.  Five or six threadbare scholars would have sat down at a long
table in a tavern room, and, after their manner, dashed off a Comedy of
Errors on the real and the false playwright.

Baconians never seem to think of the mechanical difficulties in their
assumed literary hoax.  If Will, like the old Hermit of Prague who never
saw pen and ink, could not even write, the hoax was a physical
impossibility.  If he could write, but was a rough bookless man, his
condition would be scarcely the more gracious, even if he were able to
copy in his scrawl the fine Roman hand of the concealed poet.  I am
surprised that the Baconians have never made that point.  Will’s “copy”
was almost without blot or erasion, the other actors were wont to boast.
Really the absence of erasions and corrections is too easily explained on
the theory that Will was _not_ the author.  Will merely copied the fair
copies handed to him by the concealed poet.  The farce was played for
some twenty years, and was either undetected or all concerned kept the
dread secret—and all the other companies and rival authors were concerned
in exposing the imposture.

The whole story is like the dream of a child.  We therefore expect the
Anti-Willians to endeavour to disable the evidence of Jonson, Heywood,
Heminge, and Condell.  Their attempts take the shape of the most
extravagant and complex conjectures; with certain petty objections to
Ben’s various estimates of the _merits_ of the plays.  He is constant in
his witness to the authorship.  To these efforts of despair we return
later, when we hope to justify what is here deliberately advanced.

Meanwhile we study Mr. Greenwood’s attempts to destroy or weaken the
testimony of contemporary literary allusions, in prose or verse, to the
plays as the work of the actor.  Mr. Greenwood rests on an argument which
perhaps could only have occurred to legal minds, originally, perhaps to
the mind of Judge Webb, not in the prime vigour of his faculties.  Not
very many literary allusions remain, made during Will’s life-time, to the
plays of Shakespeare.  The writers, usually, speak of “Shakespeare,” or
“W. Shakespeare,” or “Will Shakespeare,” and leave it there.  In the same
way, when they speak of other contemporaries, they name them,—and leave
it there, without telling us “who” (Frank) Beaumont, or (Kit) Marlowe, or
(Robin) Greene, or (Jack) Fletcher, or any of the others “were.”  All
interested readers knew who they were: and also knew who “Shakespeare” or
“Will Shakespeare” was.  No other Will Shak(&c.) was prominently before
the literary and dramatic world, in 1592–1616, except the Warwickshire
provincial who played with Burbage.

But though the mere names of the poets, Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe, Frank
Beaumont, Harry Chettle, and so forth, are accepted as indicating the
well-known men whom they designate, this evidence to identity does not
satisfy Mr. Greenwood, and the Baconians, where Will is concerned.  “We
should expect to find allusions to dramatic and poetical works published
under the name of ‘Shakespeare’; we should expect to find Shakespeare
spoken of as a poet and a dramatist; we should expect, further, to find
some few allusions to Shakespeare or Shakspere the player.  And these, of
course, we do find; but these are not the objects of our quest.  What we
require is evidence to establish the identity of the player with the poet
and dramatist; to prove that the player was the author of the _Plays_ and
_Poems_.  _That_ is the proposition to be established, and _that_ the
allusions fail, as it appears to me, to prove,” says Mr. Greenwood.  He
adds, “At any rate they do not disprove the theory that the true
authorship was hidden under a pseudonym” {136a}—which raises an entirely
different question.

Makers of allusions to the plays must identify Shakespeare with the
actor, explicitly; must tell us who this Shakespeare was, though they
need not, and usually do not, tell us who the other authors mentioned
were; and though the world of letters and the Stage knew but one William
Shakspere or Shakespeare, who was far too familiar to them to require
further identification.  But even if the makers of allusions did all
this, and said, “by W. Shakespeare the poet, we mean W. Shakespeare the
actor”—_that_ is not enough.  For they may all be deceived, may all
believe that a bookless, untutored man is the author.  So we cannot get
evidence correct enough for Mr. Greenwood.

Destitute as I am of legal training, I leave this notable way of
disposing of the evidence to the judgement of the Bench and the Bar, a
layman intermeddleth not with it.  Still, I am, like other readers, on
the Jury addressed,—I do not accept the arguments.  _Miror magis_, as Mr.
Greenwood might quote Latin.  We have already seen one example of this
argument, when Heywood speaks of the author of poems by Shakespeare,
published in _The Passionate Pilgrim_.  Heywood does nothing to identify
the actor Shakspere with the author Shakespeare, says Mr. Greenwood.  I
shall prove that, elsewhere, Heywood does identify them, and no man knew
more of the world of playwrights and actors than Heywood.  I add that in
his remarks on _The Passionate Pilgrim_, Heywood had no need to say “by
W. Shakespeare I mean the well-known actor in the King’s Company.”  There
was no other William Shakspere or Shakespeare known to his public.

It is to no purpose that Mr. Greenwood denies, as we have seen above,
that the allusions “disprove the theory that the true authorship was
hidden under a pseudonym.”  That is an entirely different question.  He
is now starting quite another hare.  Men of letters who alluded to the
plays and poems of William Shakespeare, meant the actor; that is my
position.  That they may all have been mistaken: that “William
Shakespeare” was Bacon’s, or any one’s pseudonym, is, I repeat, a wholly
different question; and we must not allow the critic to glide away into
it through an “at any rate”; as he does three or four times.  So far,
then, Mr. Greenwood’s theory that it was impossible for the actor
Shakspere to have been the author of the plays, encounters the difficulty
that no contemporary attributed them to any other hand: that none is
known to have said, “This Warwickshire man cannot be the author.”

“Let us, however, examine some of these allusions to Shakspere, real or
supposed,” says the critic. {138a}  He begins with the hackneyed words of
the dying man of letters, Robert Greene, in _A Groatsworth of Wit_
(1592).  The pamphlet is addressed to Gentlemen of his acquaintance “that
spend their wits in making plays”; he “wisheth them a better exercise,”
and better fortunes than his own.  (Marlowe is supposed to be one of the
three Gentlemen playwrights, but such suppositions do not here concern
us.)  Greene’s is the ancient feud between the players and the authors,
between capital and labour.  The players are the capitalists, and buy the
plays out and out,—cheap.  The author has no royalties; and no control
over the future of his work, which a Shakspere or a Bacon, a Jonson or a
Chettle, or any handyman of the company owning the play, may alter as he
pleases.  It is highly probable that the actors also acquired most of the
popular renown, for, even now, playgoers have much to say about the
players in a piece, while they seldom know the name of the playwright.
Women fall in love with the actors, not with the authors; but with “those
puppets,” as Greene says, “that speake from our mouths, these anticks,
garnished in our colours.”  Ben Jonson, we shall see, makes some of the
same complaints,—most natural in the circumstances: though he managed to
retain the control of his dramas; how, I do not know.  Greene adds that
in his misfortunes, illness, and poverty, he is ungratefully “forsaken,”
by the players, and warns his friends that such may be _their_ lot;
advising them to seek “some better exercise.”  He then writes—and his
meaning cannot easily be misunderstood, I think, but misunderstood it has
been—“Yes, trust them not” (trust not the players), “FOR there is an
upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his _Tyger’s heart
wrapt in a Player’s hide_” (“Player’s” in place of “woman’s,” in an old
play, _The Tragedy of Richard_, _Duke of York_, &c.), “supposes he is as
well able to bumbast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an
absolute _Johannes Factotum_, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene
in a country.”

The meaning is pellucid.  “Do not trust the players, my fellow
playwrights, for the reasons already given, for they, in addition to
their glory gained by mouthing _our_ words, and their ingratitude, may
now forsake you for one of themselves, a player, who thinks his blank
verse as good as the best of yours” (including Marlowe’s, probably).
“The man is ready at their call” (“an absolute _Johannes Factotum_”).
“In his own conceit” he is “the only Shake-scene in a country.”  “Seek
you better masters,” than these players, who have now an author among
themselves, “the only Shake-scene,” where the pun on Shakespeare does not
look like a fortuitous coincidence.  But it may be, anything may happen.

The sense, I repeat, is pellucid.  But Mr. Greenwood writes that if
Shake-scene be an allusion to Shakespeare “it seems clear that it is as
an actor rather than as an author he is attacked.” {140a}  As an _actor_
the person alluded to is merely assailed with the other actors, his
“fellows.”  But he is picked out as presenting another and a new reason
why authors should distrust the players, “_for_ there is” among
themselves, “in a player’s hide,” “an upstart crow”—who thinks his blank
verse as good as the best of theirs.  He is, therefore, necessarily a
playwright, and being a _factotum_, can readily be employed by the
players to the prejudice of Greene’s three friends, who are professed

Mr. Greenwood says that “we do not know why Greene should have been so
particularly bitter against the players, and why he should have thought
it necessary so seriously to warn his fellow playwrights against them.”
{141a}  But we cannot help knowing; for Greene has told us.  In addition
to gaining renown solely through mouthing “_our_” words, wearing “_our_
feathers,” they have been bitterly ungrateful to Greene in his poverty
and sickness; they will, in the same circumstances, as cruelly forsake
his friends; “yes, for they now have” an author, and to the playwrights a
dangerous rival, in their own fellowship.  Thus we know with absolute
certainty why Greene wrote as he did.  He says nothing about the superior
financial gains of the players, which Mr. Greenwood suspects to have been
the “only” cause of his bitterness.  Greene gives its causes in the
plainest possible terms, as did Ben Jonson later, in his verses
“Poet-Ape” (Playwright-Actor).  Moreover, Mr. Greenwood gives Greene’s
obvious motives on the very page where he says that we do not know them.

Even Mr. Greenwood, {141b} anxious as he is to prove Shake-scene to be
attacked as an actor, admits that the words “supposes himself as well
able to bumbast out a blank verse as the best of you,” “do seem to have
that implication,” {141c} namely, that “Shake-scene” is a dramatic
author: what else can the words mean; why, if not for the Stage, should
Shake-scene write blank verse?

Finally Mr. Greenwood, after saying “it is clear that it is as an actor
rather than as an author that ‘Shake-scene’ is attacked,” {142a} concedes
{142b} that it “certainly looks as if he” (Greene) “meant to suggest that
this Shake-scene supposed himself able to compose, as well as to mouth
verses.”  Nothing else can possibly be meant.  “The rest of you” were
authors, not actors.

If not, why, in a whole company of actors, should “Shake-scene” alone be
selected for a special victim?  Shake-scene is chosen out because, as an
author, a factotum always ready at need, he is more apt than the
professed playwrights to be employed as author by his company: this is a
new reason for not trusting the players.

I am not going to take the trouble to argue as to whether, in the
circumstances of the case, “Shake-scene” is meant by Greene for a pun on
“Shake-speare,” or not.  If he had some other rising player-author, the
Factotum of a cry of players, in his mind, Baconians may search for that
personage in the records of the stage.  That other player-author may have
died young, or faded into obscurity.  The term “the only Shake-scene” may
be one of those curious coincidences which do occur.  The presumption
lies rather on the other side.  I demur, when Mr. Greenwood courageously
struggling for his case says that, even assuming the validity of the
surmise that there is an allusion to Shakspere, {143a} “the utmost that
we should be entitled to say is that Greene here accuses Player Shakspere
of putting forward, as his own, some work, or perhaps some parts of a
work, for which he was really indebted to another” (the Great Unknown?).
I do more than demur, I defy any man to exhibit that sense in Greene’s

“The utmost that we should be entitled to say,” is, in my opinion, what
we have no shadow of a title to say.  Look at the poor hackneyed,
tortured words of Greene again.  “Yes, trust them not; for there is an
upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his _Tyger’s heart
wrapped in a player’s hide_, supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a
blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute _Johannes
Factotum_, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.”

How can mortal man squeeze from these words the charge that “Player
Shakspere” is “putting forward, as his own, some work, or perhaps some
parts of a work, for which he was really indebted to another”?  It is as
an actor, with other actors, that the player is “beautified with _our_
feathers,”—not with the feathers of some one _not_ ourselves, Bacon or
Mr. Greenwood’s Unknown.  Mr. Greenwood even says that Shake-scene is
referred to “as beautified with the feathers _which he has stolen_ from
the dramatic writers” (“our feathers”).

Greene says absolutely nothing about feathers “_which he has stolen_.”
The “feathers,” the words of the plays, were bought, not stolen, by the
actors, “anticks garnished in our colours.”

Tedious it is to write many words about words so few and simple as those
of Greene; meaning “do not trust the players, for one of them writes
blank verse which he thinks as good as the best of yours, and fancies
himself the only Shake-scene in a country.”

But “Greene here accuses Player Shakspere of putting forward, as his own,
some work, or perhaps some parts of a work, for which he was really
indebted to another,” this is “the utmost we should be entitled to say,”
even if the allusion be to Shakspere.  How does Mr. Greenwood get the
Anti-Willian hypothesis out of Greene’s few and plain words?

It is much safer for him to say that “Shake-scene” is not meant for
Shakespeare.  Nobody can prove that it _is_; the pun _may_ be a strange
coincidence,—or any one may say that he thinks it nothing more; if he

Greene nowhere “refers to this Shake-scene as being an impostor, an
upstart crow beautified with the feathers _which he has stolen from the
__dramatic writers_ (“our feathers”)” {145a}—that is, Greene makes no
such reference to Shake-scene in his capacity of writer of blank verse.
Like all players, who are all “anticks garnisht in our colours,”
Shake-scene, _as player_, is “beautified with our feathers.”  It is Mr.
Greenwood who adds “beautified with the feathers which he has _stolen_
from the dramatic writers.”  Greene does not even remotely hint at
plagiarism on the part of Shake-scene: and the feathers, the plays of
Greene and his friends, were not stolen but bought.  We must take
Greene’s evidence as we find it,—it proves that by “Shake-scene” he means
a “poet-ape,” a playwright-actor; for Greene, like Jonson, speaks of
actors as “apes.”  Both men saw in a certain actor and dramatist a
suspected rival.  Only one such successful practising actor-playwright is
known to us at this date (1592–1601),—and he is Shakespeare.  Unless
another such existed, Greene, in 1592, alludes to William Shak(&c.) as a
player and playwright.  This proves that the actor from Stratford was
accepted in Greene’s world as an author of plays in blank verse.  He
cannot, therefore, have seemed incapable of his poetry.

Let us now briefly consider other contemporary allusions to Shakespeare
selected by Mr. Greenwood himself.  No allusion can prove that
Shakespeare was the author of the work attributed to him in the
allusions.  The plays and poems _may_ have been by James VI and I, “a
parcel-poet.”  The allusions can prove no more than that, by his
contemporaries, Shakespeare was believed to be the poet, which is
impossible if he were a mere rustic ignoramus, as the Baconians aver.
Omitting some remarks by Chettle on Greene’s _Groatsworth of Wit_, {146a}
as, if grammar goes for all, they do not refer to Shakespeare, we have
the Cambridge farce or comedy on contemporary literature, the _Return
from Parnassus_ (1602?).  The University wits laugh at Shakespeare,—not
an university man, as the favourite poet, in his _Venus and Adonis_, of a
silly braggart pretender to literature, Gullio.

They also introduce Kempe, the low comedy man of Shakespeare’s company,
speaking to Burbage, the chief tragic actor, of Shakespeare as a member
of their company, who, _as an author of plays_, “puts down” the
University wits “and Ben Jonson too.”  The date is not earlier than that
of Ben’s satiric play on the poets, _The Poetaster_ (1601), to which
reference is made.  Since Kempe is to be represented as wholly ignorant,
his opinion of Shakespeare’s pre-eminent merit only proves, as in the
case of Gullio, that the University wits decried the excellences of
Shakespeare.  In him they saw no scholar.

The point is that Kempe recognises Shakespeare as both actor and author.

All this “is quite consistent with the theory that Shake-speare was a
pseudonym,” {147a} says Mr. Greenwood.  Of course it is, but it is _not_
consistent with the theory that Shakespeare was an uneducated, bookless
rustic, for, in that case, his mask would have fallen off in a day, in an
hour.  Of course the Cambridge author only proves, if you will, that _he_
thought that _Kempe_ thought, that his fellow player was the author.  But
we have better evidence of what the actors thought than in the Cambridge

In 1598, as we saw, Francis Meres in _Palladis Tamia_ credits Shakespeare
with _Venus and Adonis_, with privately circulated sonnets, and with a
number of the comedies and tragedies.  How the allusions “negative the
hypothesis that Shakespeare was a _nom de plume_ is not apparent,” says
Mr. Greenwood, always constant to his method.  I repeat that he wanders
from the point, which is, here, that the only William Shak(&c.) known to
us at the time, in London, was credited with the plays and poems on all
sides, which proves that no incompatibility between the man and the works
was recognised.

Then Weaver (1599) alludes to him as author of _Venus_, _Lucrece_,
_Romeo_, _Richard_, “more whose names I know not.”  Davies (1610) calls
him “our English Terence” (the famous comedian), and mentions him as
having “played some Kingly parts in sport.”  Freeman (1614) credits him
with _Venus_ and _Lucrece_.  “Besides in plays thy wit winds like
Meander.”  I repeat Heywood’s evidence.  Thomas Heywood, author of that
remarkable domestic play, _A Woman Killed with Kindness_, was, from the
old days of Henslowe, in the fifteen-nineties, a playwright and an actor;
he survived into the reign of Charles I.  Writing on the familiar names
of the poets, “Jack Fletcher,” “Frank Beaumont,” “Kit Marlowe,” “Tom
Nash,” he says,

    “Mellifluous Shakespeare whose enchanting quill
    Commanded mirth and passion, was but ‘Will.’”

Does Heywood not identify the actor with the author?  No quibbles serve
against the evidence.

We need not pursue the allusions later than Shakespeare’s death, or
invoke, at present, Ben Jonson’s panegyric of 1623.  As to Davies, his
dull and obscure epigram is addressed “To our English Terence, Mr. Will
Shake-speare.”  He accosts Shakespeare as “Good Will.”  He remarks that,
“as some say,” if Will “had not played some Kingly parts in sport,” he
had been “a companion for a _King_,” and “been a King among the meaner
sort.”  Nobody, now, can see the allusion and the joke.  Shakespeare’s
company, in 1604, acted a play on the Gowrie Conspiracy of 1600.  King
James suppressed the play after the second night, as, of course, he was
brought on the stage throughout the action: and in very droll and
dreadful situations.  Did Will take the King’s part, and annoy gentle
King Jamie, “as some say”?  Nobody knows.  But Mr. Greenwood, to disable
Davies’s recognition of Mr. Will as a playwright, “Our English Terence,”
quotes, from Florio’s _Montaigne_, a silly old piece of Roman literary
gossip, Terence’s plays were written by Scipio and Laelius.  In fact,
Terence alludes in his prologue to the _Adelphi_, to a spiteful report
that he was aided by great persons.  The prologue may be the source of
the fable—that does not matter.  Davies might get the fable in Montaigne,
and, knowing that some Great One wrote Will’s plays, might therefore, in
irony, address him as “Our English Terence.”  This is a pretty free
conjecture!  In Roman comedy he had only two names known to him to choose
from; he took Terence, not Plautus.  But if Davies was in the great
Secret, a world of others must have shared _le Secret de Polichinelle_.
Yet none hints at it, and only a very weak cause could catch at so tiny a
straw as the off-chance that Davies _knew_, and used “Terence” as a gibe.

The allusions, even the few selected, cannot prove that the actor wrote
the plays, but do prove that he was believed to have done so, and
therefore that he was not so ignorant and bookless as to demonstrate that
he was incapable of the poetry and the knowledge displayed in his works.
Mr. Greenwood himself observes that a Baconian critic goes too far when
he makes Will incapable of writing.  Such a Will could deceive no mortal.
{150a}  But does Mr. Greenwood, who finds in the Author of the plays
“much learning, and remarkable classical attainments,” or “a wide
familiarity with the classics,” {150b} suppose that his absolutely
bookless Will could have persuaded his intimates that he was the author
of plays exhibiting “a wide familiarity with the classics,” or
“remarkable classical attainments.”  The thing is wholly impossible.

I do not remember that a single contemporary allusion to Shakespeare
speaks of him as “learned,” erudite, scholarly, and so forth.  The
epithets for him are “sweet,” “gentle,” “honeyed,” “sugared,”
“honey-tongued”—this is the convention.  The tradition followed by
Milton, who was eight years of age when Shakespeare died, and who wrote
_L’Allegro_ just after leaving Cambridge, makes Shakespeare “sweetest
Shakespeare, Fancy’s child,” with “native wood-notes wild”; and gives to
Jonson “the _learned_ sock.”  Fuller, like Milton, was born eight years
before the death of Shakespeare, namely, in 1608.  Like Milton he was a
Cambridge man.  The First Folio of Shakespeare’s works appeared when each
of these two bookish men was aged fifteen.  It would necessarily revive
interest in Shakespeare, now first known as far as about half of his
plays went: he would be discussed among lovers of literature at
Cambridge.  Mr. Greenwood quotes Fuller’s remark that Shakespeare’s
“learning was very little,” that, if alive, he would confess himself “to
be never any scholar.” {151a}  I cannot grant that Fuller is dividing the
persons of actor and author.  Men of Shakespeare’s generation, such as
Jonson, did not think him learned; nor did men of the next generation.
If Mr. Collins’s view be correct, the men of Shakespeare’s and of
Milton’s generations were too ignorant to perceive that Shakespeare was
deeply learned in the literature of Rome, and in the literature of
Greece.  Every one was too ignorant, till Mr. Collins came.


WHEN Shakespeare is mentioned as an author by contemporary writers, the
Baconian stratagem, we have seen, is to cry, “Ah, but you cannot prove
the author mentioned to be the actor.”  We have seen that Meres (1598)
speaks of Shakespeare as the leading tragic and comic poet (“Poor
poet-ape that would be thought our chief,” quoth Jonson), as author of
_Venus and Adonis_, and as a sonneteer.  “All this does nothing whatever
to support the idea that the Stratford player was the author of the plays
and poems alluded to,” says Mr. Greenwood, playing that card again.

The allusions, I repeat, _do_ prove that Shak(&c.), the actor, was
believed to be the author, till any other noted William Shak(&c.) is
found to have been conspicuously before the town.  “There is nothing at
all to prove that Meres, native of Lincolnshire, had any personal
knowledge of Shakespeare.”  There is nothing at all to prove that Meres,
native of Lincolnshire, had any personal knowledge of nine-tenths of the
English authors, famous or forgotten, whom he mentions.  “On the
question—who was Shakespeare?—he throws no light.”  He “throws no light
on the question” “who was?” any of the poets mentioned by him, except
one, quite forgotten, whose College he names . . . To myself this “sad
repeated air,”—“critics who praise Shakespeare do not say _who
Shakespeare_ was,”—would appear to be, not an argument, but a subterfuge:
though Mr. Greenwood honestly believes it to be an argument,—otherwise he
would not use it: much less would he repeat it with frequent iteration.
The more a man was notorious, as was Will Shakspere the actor, the less
the need for any critic to tell his public “who Shakespeare was.”

As Mr. Greenwood tries to disable the evidence when Shakespeare is
alluded to as an author, so he tries to better his case when, in the
account-book of Philip Henslowe, an owner of theatres, money-lender,
pawn-broker, purchaser of plays from authors, and so forth, Shakespeare
is _not_ mentioned at all.  Here is a mystery which, properly handled,
may advance the great cause.  Henslowe has notes of loans of money to
several actors, some of them of Shakespeare’s company, “The Lord
Chamberlain’s.”  There is no such note of a loan to Shakespeare.  Does
this prove that he was not an actor?  If so, Burbage was not an actor;
Henslowe never names him.

There are notes of payments of money to Henslowe after each performance
of any play in one of his theatres.  In these notes _the name of
Shakespeare __is never once mentioned as the author of any play_.  How
weird!  But in _these_ notes the names of the authors of the plays acted
are never mentioned.  Does this suggest that Bacon wrote all these plays?

On the other hand, there are frequent mentions of advances of money to
authors who were working at plays for Henslowe, singly, or in pairs,
threes, fours, or fives.  We find Drayton, Dekker, Chapman, and nine
authors now forgotten by all but antiquarians.  We have also Ben Jonson
(1597), Marston, Munday, Middleton, Webster, and others, authors in
Henslowe’s pay.  _But the same of Shakespeare never appears_.
Mysterious!  The other men’s names, writes Dr. Furness, occur “because
they were all writers for Henslowe’s theatre, but we must wait at all
events for the discovery of some other similar record, before we can
produce corresponding memoranda regarding Shaksper” (_sic_) “and his
productions.” {157a}

The natural mind of the ordinary man explains all by saying, “Henslowe
records no loans of money to Shakspere the actor, because he lent him no
money.  He records no payments for plays to Shakespeare the author-actor,
because to Henslowe the actor sold no plays.”  That is the whole
explanation of the Silence of Philip Henslowe.  If Shakspere did sell a
play to Henslowe, why should that financier omit the fact from his
accounts?  Suppose that the actor was illiterate as Baconians fervently
believe, and sold Bacon’s plays, what prevented him from selling a play
of Bacon’s (under his own name, as usual) to Henslowe?  To obtain a
Baconian reply you must wander into conjecture, and imagine that Bacon
forbade the transaction.  Then _why_ did he forbid it?  Because he could
get a better price from Shakspere’s company?  The same cause would
produce the same effect on Shakspere himself; whether he were the author,
or were Bacon’s, or any man’s go-between.  On any score but that of
money, why was Henslowe good enough for Ben Jonson, Dekker, Heywood,
Middleton, and Webster, and not good enough for Bacon, who did not appear
in the matter at all, but was represented in it by the actor, Will?  As a
gentleman and a man of the Court, Bacon would be as much discredited if
he were known to sell (for £6 on an average) his noble works to the Lord
Chamberlain’s Company, as if he sold them to Henslowe.

I know not whether the great lawyer, courtier, scholar, and philosopher
is supposed by Baconians to have given Will Shakspere a commission on his
sales of plays; or to have let him keep the whole sum in each case.  I
know not whether the players paid Shakspere a sum down for his (or
Bacon’s) plays, or whether Will received a double share, or other, or any
share of the profits on them, as Henslowe did when he let a house to the
players.  Nobody knows any of these things.

“If Shakspere the player had been a dramatist, surely Henslowe would have
employed him also, like the others, in that behalf.” {159a}  Henslowe
would, if he could have got the “copy” cheap enough.  Was any one of “the
others,” the playwrights, a player, holding a share in his company?  If
not, the fact makes an essential difference, for Shakspere _was_ a
shareholder.  Collier, in his preface to Henslowe’s so-called “Diary,”
mentions a playwright who was bound to scribble for Henslowe only (Henry
Porter), and another, Chettle, who was bound to write only for the
company protected by the Earl of Nottingham. {159b}  Modern publishers
and managers sometimes make the same terms with novelists and

It appears to me that Shakspere’s company would be likely, as his plays
were very popular, to make the same sort of agreement with him, and to
give him such terms as he would be glad to accept,—whether the wares were
his own—or Bacon’s.  He was a keen man of business.  In such a case, he
would not write for Henslowe’s pittance.  He had a better market.  The
plays, whether written by himself, or Bacon, or the Man in the Moon, were
at his disposal, and he did not dispose of them to Henslowe, wherefore
Henslowe cannot mention him in his accounts.  That is all.

Quoting an American Judge (Dr. Stotsenburg, apparently), Mr. Greenwood
cites the circumstance that, in two volumes of Alleyn’s papers “there is
not one mention of such a poet as William Shaksper in his list of actors,
poets, and theatrical comrades.” {160a}  If this means that Shakspere is
not mentioned by Alleyn among actors, are we to infer that William was
not an actor?  Even Baconians insist that he was an actor.  “How strange,
how more than strange,” cries Mr. Greenwood, “that Henslowe should make
no mention in all this long diary, embracing all the time from 1591 to
1609, of the actor-author . . . No matter.  _Credo quia impossibile_!”
{160b}  _Credo_ what? and what is _impossible_?  Henslowe’s volume is no
Diary; he does not tell a single anecdote of any description; he merely
enters loans, gains, payments.  Does Henslowe mention, say, Ben Jonson,
_when he is not doing business with Ben_?  Does he mention any actor or
author except in connection with money matters?  Then, if he did no
business with Shakspere the actor, in borrowing or lending, and did no
business with Shakespeare the author, in borrowing, lending, buying or
selling, “How strange, how more than strange” it would be if Henslowe
_did_ mention Shakespeare!  He was not keeping a journal of literary and
dramatic jottings.  He was keeping an account of his expenses and
receipts.  He never names Richard Burbage any more than he mentions

Mr. Greenwood again expresses his views about this dark suspicious
mystery, the absence of Shakespeare or Shakspere (or Shak, as you like
it), from Henslowe’s accounts, if Shak(&c.) wrote plays.  But the
mystery, if mystery there be, is just as obscure if the actor were the
channel through which Bacon’s plays reached the stage, for the pretended
author of these masterpieces.  Shak—was not the man to do all the
troking, bargaining, lying, going here and there, and making himself a
motley to the view for £0, 0_s._ 0_d._  If he were a sham, a figure-head,
a liar, a fetcher-and-carrier of manuscripts, _he would be paid for it_.
But he did not deal with Henslowe in his bargainings, and _that_ is why
Henslowe does not mention him.  Mr. Greenwood, in one place, {161a}
agrees, so far, with me.  “Why did Henslowe not mention Shakespeare as
the writer of other plays” (than _Titus Andronicus_ and _Henry VI_)?  “I
think the answer is simple enough.”  (So do I.)  “Neither Shakspere nor
‘Shakespeare’ ever wrote for Henslowe!”  The obvious is perceived at
last; and the reason given is “that he was above Henslowe’s ‘skyline,’”
“he” being the Author.  We only differ as to _why_ the author was above
Henslowe’s “sky-line.”  I say, because good Will had a better market,
that of his Company.  I understand Mr. Greenwood to think,—because the
Great Unknown was too great a man to deal with Henslowe.  If to write for
the stage were discreditable, to deal (unknown) with Henslowe was no more
disgraceful than to deal with “a cry of players”; and as (unknown) Will
did the bargaining, the Great Unknown was as safe with Will in one case
as in the other.  If Will did not receive anything for the plays from his
own company (who firmly believed in his authorship), they must have said,
“Will! dost thou serve the Muses and thy obliged fellows for naught?
Dost thou give us two popular plays yearly,—gratis?”

Do you not see that, in the interests of the Great Secret itself, Will
_had_ to take the pay for the plays (pretended his) from somebody.  Will
Shakspere making his dear fellows and friends a present of two
masterpieces yearly was too incredible.  So I suppose he did have
royalties on the receipts, or otherwise got his money; and, as he
certainly did not get them from Henslowe, Henslowe had no conceivable
reason for entering Will’s name in his accounts.

Such are the reflections of a plain man, but to an imaginative soul there
seems to be a brooding mist, with a heart of fire, which half conceals
and half reveals the darkened chamber wherein abides “The Silence of
Philip Henslowe.”  “The Silence of Philip Henslowe,” Mr. Greenwood
writes, “is a very remarkable phenomenon . . . ”  It is a phenomenon
precisely as remarkable as the absence of Mr. Greenwood’s name from the
accounts of a boot-maker with whom he has never had any dealings.

“If, however, there was a man in high position, ‘a concealed poet,’” who
“took the works of others and rewrote and transformed them, besides
bringing out original plays of his own . . . then it is natural enough
that his name should not appear among those [of the] for the most part
impecunious dramatists to whom Henslowe paid money for playwriting.”
{163a}  Nothing can be more natural, and, in fact, the name of Bacon, or
Southampton, or James VI, or Sir John Ramsay, or Sir Walter Raleigh, or
Sir Fulke Greville, or any other “man in high position,” does _not_
appear in Henslowe’s accounts.  Nor does the name of William Shak(&c.).
But why should it not appear if Will sold either his own plays, or those
of the noble friend to whom he lent his name and personality—to Henslowe?
Why not?

Then consider the figure, to my mind impossible, of the great “concealed
poet” “of high position,” who can “bring out original plays of his own,”
and yet “takes the works of others,” say of “sporting Kyd,” or of Dekker
and Chettle, and such poor devils,—_takes_ them as a Yankee
pirate-publisher takes my rhymes,—and “rewrites and transforms them.”

Bacon (or Bungay) _cannot_ “take” them without permission of their legal
owners,—Shakspere’s or any other company;—of any one, in short, who, as
Ben Jonson says, “buys up reversions of old plays.”  How is he to manage
these shabby dealings?  Apparently he employs Will Shakspere, spells his
own “_nom de plume_” “Shakespeare,” and has his rewritings and
transformations of the destitute author’s work acted by Will’s company.
What a situation for Bacon, or Sir Fulke Greville, or James VI, or any
“man in high position” whom fancy can suggest!  The plays by the original
authors, whoever they were, could only be obtained by the “concealed
poet” and “man in high position” from the legal owners, Shakspere’s
company, usually.  The concealed poet had to negotiate with the owners,
and Bacon (or whoever he was) employed that scamp Will Shakspere, first,
I think, to extract the plays from the owners, and then to pretend that
he himself, even Will, had “rewritten and transformed them.”

What an associate was our Will for the concealed poet; how certain it was
that Will would blackmail the “man in high position”!  “Doubtless” he
did: we find Bacon arrested for debt, more than once, while Will buys New
Place, in Stratford, with the money extorted from the concealed poet of
high position. {164a}  Bacon did associate with that serpent Phillips, a
reptile of Walsingham, who forged a postscript to Mary Stuart’s letter to
Babington.  But now, if not Bacon, then some other concealed poet of high
position, with a mysterious passion for rewriting and transforming plays
by sad, needy authors, is in close contact with Will Shakspere, the
Warwickshire poacher and ignorant butcher’s boy, country schoolmaster,
draper’s apprentice, _enfin_, _tout le tremblement_.

“How strange, how more than strange!”

The sum of the matter seems to me to be that from as early as March 3,
1591, we find Henslowe receiving small sums of money for the performances
of many plays.  He was paid as owner or lessee of the House used by this
or that company.  On March 3, 1591, the play acted by “Lord Strange’s
(Derby’s) men” was _Henry VI_.  Several other plays with names familiar
in Shakespeare’s Works, such as _Titus Andronicus_, all the three parts
of _Henry VI_, _King Leare_ (April 6, 1593), _Henry V_ (May 14, 1592),
_The Taming of a Shrew_ (June 11, 1594), and _Hamlet_, paid toll to
Henslowe.  He “received” so much, on each occasion, when they were acted
in a theatre of his.  But he never records his purchase of these plays;
and it is not generally believed that Shakespeare was the author of all
these plays, in the form which they bore in 1591–4: though there is much
difference of opinion.

There is one rather interesting case.  On August 25, 1594, Henslowe
enters “_ne_” (that is, “a new play”) “Received at the Venesyon Comodey,
eighteen pence.”  That was his share of the receipts.  The Lord
Chamberlain’s Company, that of Shakespeare, was playing in Henslowe’s
theatre at Newington Butts.  If the “Venesyon Comodey” (Venetian Comedy)
were _The Merchant of Venice_, this is the first mention of it.  But
nobody knows what Henslowe meant by “the Venesyon Comodey.”  He does not
mention the author’s name, because, in this part of his accounts he never
does mention the author or authors.  He only names them when he buys
from, or lends to, or has other money dealings with the authors.  He had
none with Shakespeare, hence the Silence of Philip Henslowe.


IN the chapter on the Preoccupations of Bacon the reader may find help in
making up his mind as to whether Bacon, with his many and onerous duties
and occupations, his scientific studies, and his absorbing scientific
preoccupation, is a probable author of the Shakespearean plays.  Mr.
Greenwood finds the young Shakspere impossible—because of his
ignorance—which made him such a really good pseudo-author, and such a
successful mask for Bacon, or Bacon’s unknown equivalent.  The Shakspere
of later life, the well-to-do Shakspere, the purchaser of the right to
bear arms; so bad at paying one debt at least; so eager a creditor; a
would-be encloser of a common; a man totally bookless, is, to Mr.
Greenwood’s mind, an impossible author of the later plays.

Here, first, are moral objections on the ground of character as revealed
in some legal documents concerning business.  Now, I am very ready to
confess that William’s dealings with his debtors, and with one creditor,
are wholly unlike what I should expect from the author of the plays.
Moreover, the conduct of Shelley in regard to his wife was, in my
opinion, very mean and cruel, and the last thing that we could have
expected from one who, in verse, was such a tender philanthropist, and in
life was—women apart—the best-hearted of men.  The conduct of Robert
Burns, alas, too often disappoints the lover of his _Cottar’s Saturday
Night_ and other moral pieces.  He was an inconsistent walker.

I sincerely wish that Shakespeare had been less hard in money matters,
just as I wish that in financial matters Scott had been more like
himself, that he had not done the last things that we should have
expected him to do.  As a member of the Scottish Bar it was inconsistent
with his honour to be the secret proprietor of a publishing and a
printing business.  This is the unexplained moral paradox in the career
of a man of chivalrous honour and strict probity: but the fault did not
prevent Scott from writing his novels and poems.  Why, then, should the
few bare records of Shakspere’s monetary transactions make _his_
authorship impossible?  The objection seems weakly sentimental.

Macaulay scolds Scott as fiercely as Mr. Greenwood scolds Shakspere,—for
the more part, ignorantly and unjustly.  Still, there is matter to cause
surprise and regret.  Both Scott and Shakspere are accused of writing for
gain, and of spending money on lands and houses with the desire to found
families.  But in the mysterious mixture of each human personality, any
sober soul who reflects on his own sins and failings will not think other
men’s failings incompatible with intellectual excellence.  Bacon’s own
conduct in money matters was that of a man equally grasping and
extravagant.  Ben Jonson thus describes Shakespeare as a social
character: “He was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature . . . I
loved the man and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as
any.”  Perhaps Ben never owed money to Shakspere and refused to pay!

We must not judge a man’s whole intellectual character, and declare him
to be incapable of poetry, on the score of a few legal papers about
matters of business.  Apparently Shakspere helped that Elizabethan Mr.
Micawber, his father, out of a pecuniary slough of despond, in which the
ex-High Bailiff of the town was floundering,—pursued by the distraint of
one of the friendly family of Quiney—Adrian Quiney.  They were neighbours
and made a common dunghill in Henley Street. {171a}  I do not, like Mr.
Greenwood, see anything “at all out of the way” in the circumstance “that
a man should be writing _Hamlet_, and at the same time bringing actions
for petty sums lent on loan at some unspecified interest.” {171b}  Nor do
I see anything at all out of the way in Bacon’s prosecution of his friend
and benefactor, Essex (1601), while Bacon was writing _Hamlet_.  Indeed,
Shakspere’s case is the less “out of the way” of the two.  He wanted his
loan to be repaid, and told his lawyer to bring an action.  Bacon wanted
to keep his head (of inestimable value) on his shoulders; or to keep his
body out of the Tower; or he merely, as he declares, wanted to do his
duty as a lawyer of the Crown.  In any case, Bacon was in a tragic
position almost unexampled; and was at once overwhelmed by work, and, one
must suppose, by acute distress of mind, in the case of Essex.  He must
have felt this the more keenly, if, as some Baconians vow, _he wrote the
Sonnets to Essex_.  Whether he were writing his _Hamlet_ when engaged in
Essex’s case (1601), or any other of his dramatic masterpieces, even this
astonishing man must have been sorely bestead to combine so many branches
of business.

Thus I would reply to Mr. Greenwood’s amazement that Shakspere, a hard
creditor, and so forth, should none the less have been able to write his
plays.  But if it is meant that a few business transactions must have
absorbed the whole consciousness of Shakespeare, and left him neither
time nor inclination for poetry, consider the scientific preoccupation of
Bacon, his parliamentary duties, his ceaseless activity as “one of the
legal body-guard of the Queen” at a time when he had often to be
examining persons accused of conspiracy,—and do not forget his long and
poignant anxiety about Essex, his constant efforts to reconcile him with
Elizabeth, and to advocate his cause without losing her favour; and,
finally, the anguish of prosecuting his friend, and of knowing how hardly
the world judged his own conduct.  Follow him into his relations with
James I; his eager pursuit of favour, the multiplicity of his affairs,
his pecuniary distresses, and the profound study and severe labour
entailed by the preparation for and the composition of _The Advancement
of Learning_ (1603–5).  He must be a stout-hearted Baconian who can
believe that, between 1599 and 1605, Bacon was writing _Hamlet_, and
other masterpieces of tragedy or comedy.  But all is possible to genius.
What Mr. Greenwood’s Great Unknown was doing at this period, “neither
does he know, nor do I know, but he only.”  He, no doubt, had abundance
of leisure.

At last Shakspere died (1616), and had not the mead of one melodious
tear, as far as we know, from the London wits, in the shape of obituary
verses.  This fills Mr. Greenwood with amazement.  “Was it because ‘the
friends of the Muses’ were for the most part aware that Shakespeare had
not died with Shakspere?”  Did Jonson perchance think that his idea might
be realised when he wrote,

       “What a sight it were,
    To see thee in our waters yet appear”?

and so on.  Did Jonson expect and hope to see the genuine “Shakespeare”
return to the stage, seven years after the death of Shakspere the actor,
the Swan of Avon?  As Jonson was fairly sane, we can no more suspect him
of having hoped for this miracle than believe that most of the poets knew
the actor not to be the author.  Moreover Jonson, while desiring that
Shakespeare might “shine forth” again and cheer the drooping stage,

    “Which since thy flight from hence hath mourned like Night,
    And despairs day, but for thy volume’s light,”

that is—the Folio of 1623.  Ben did not weave the amazing tissue of
involved and contradictory falsities attributed to him by Baconians.
Beaumont died in the same year as Shakspere, who died in the depths of
the country, weary of London.  Has Mr. Greenwood found obituary poems
dropped on the grave of the famous Beaumont?  Did Fletcher, did Jonson,
produce one melodious tear for the loss of their friend; in Fletcher’s
case his constant partner?  No?  Were the poets, then, aware that
Beaumont was a humbug, whose poems and plays were written by Bacon?

I am not to discuss Shakespeare’s Will, the “second-best bed,” and so
forth.  But as Shakespeare’s Will says not a word about his books, it is
decided by Mr. Greenwood that he had no books.  Mr. Greenwood is a
lawyer; so was my late friend Mr. Charles Elton, Q.C., of White Staunton,
who remarks that Shakespeare bequeathed “all the rest of my goods,
chattels, leases, &c., to my son-in-law, John Hall, gent.”  (He really
_was_ a “gent.” with authentic coat-armour.)

It is with Mr. Elton’s opinion, not with my ignorance, that Mr. Greenwood
must argue in proof of the view that “goods” are necessarily exclusive of
books, for Mr. Elton takes it as a quite natural fact that Shakespeare’s
books passed, with his other goods, to Mr. Hall, and thence to a Mr.
Nash, to whom Mr. Hall left “my study of books” {175a} (library).  I only
give this as a lawyer’s opinion.

There is in the Bodleian an Aldine Ovid, “with Shakespeare’s” signature
(merely Wm. She.), and a note, “This little volume of Ovid was given to
me by W. Hall, who sayd it was once Will Shakespeare’s.”  I do not know
that the signature (like that on Florio’s _Montaigne_, in the British
Museum) has been detected as a forgery; nor do I know that Shakespeare’s
not specially mentioning his books proves that he had none.  Lawyers
appear to differ as to this inference: both Mr. Elton and Mr. Greenwood
seem equally confident. {175b}  But if it were perfectly natural that the
actor, Shakspere, should have no books, then he certainly made no effort,
by the local colour of owning a few volumes, to persuade mankind that he
_was_ the author.  Yet they believed that he was—really there is no
wriggling out of it.  As regards any of his own MSS. which Shakespeare
may have had (one would expect them to be at his theatre), and their
monetary value, if they were not, as usual, the property of his company,
and of him as a member thereof, we can discuss that question in the
section headed “The First Folio.”

It appears that Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith, could write no more than
her grandfather. {176a}  Nor, I repeat, could the Lady Jane Gordon,
daughter of the great Earl of Huntly, when she was married to the Earl of
Bothwell in 1566.  At all events, Lady Jane “made her mark.”  It may be
feared that Judith, brought up in that very illiterate town of Stratford,
under an illiterate mother, was neglected in her education.  Sad, but
very common in women of her rank, and scarcely a proof that her father
did not write the plays.

As “nothing is known of the disposition and character” {176b} of
Shakespeare’s grand-daughter, Lady Barnard, who died in 1670, it is not
so paralysingly strange that nothing is known of any relics or anecdotes
of Shakespeare which she may have possessed.  Mr. Greenwood “would have
supposed that she would have had much to say about the great poet,”
exhibited his books (if any), and so forth.  Perhaps she did,—but how, if
we “know nothing about her disposition and character,” can we tell?  No
interviewers rushed to her house (Abington Hall, Northampton-shire) with
pencils and notebooks to record her utterances; no reporter interviewed
her for the press.  It is surprising, is it not?

The inference might be drawn, in the Baconian manner, that, during the
Commonwealth and Restoration, “the friends of the Muses” knew that the
actor was _not_ the author, and therefore did not interview his
granddaughter in the country.

“But, at any rate, we have the Stratford monument,” says Mr. Greenwood,
and delves into this problem.  Even the Stratford monument of Shakespeare
in the parish church is haunted by Baconian mysteries.  If the gentle
reader will throw his eye over the photograph {177a} of the monument as
it now exists, he may not be able to say to the face of the poet—

    “Thou wast that all to me, Will,
    For which my soul did pine.”

But if he has any knowledge of Jacobean busts on monuments, he will
probably agree with me in saying, “This effigy, though executed by
somebody who was not a Pheidias, and who perhaps worked merely from
descriptions, is, at all events, Jacobean.”  The same may assuredly be
said of the monument; it is in good Jacobean style: the pillars with
their capitals are graceful: all the rest is in keeping; and the two
inscriptions are in the square capital letters of inscriptions of the
period; not in italic characters.  Distrusting my own _expertise_, I have
consulted Sir Sidney Colvin, and Mr. Holmes of the National Portrait
Gallery.  They, with Mr. Spielmann, think the work to be of the early
seventeenth century.

Next, glance at the figure opposite.  This is a reproduction of “the
earliest representation of the Bust” (and monument) in Dugdale’s
_Antiquities of Warwickshire_ (1656).  Compare the two objects, point by
point, from the potato on top with holes in it, of Dugdale, which is
meant for a skull, through all the details,—bust and all.  Does Dugdale’s
print, whether engraved by Hollar or not, represent a Jacobean work?
Look at the two ludicrous children, their legs dangling in air; at the
lions’ heads above the capitals of the pillars; at the lettering of the
two visible words of the inscription, and at the gloomy hypochondriac or
lunatic, clasping a cushion to his abdomen.  That hideous design was not
executed by an artist who “had his eye on the object,” if the object were
a Jacobean monument: while the actual monument was fashioned in no period
of art but the Jacobean.  From Digges’ rhymes in the Folio of 1623, we
know that Shakespeare already had his “Stratford monument.”  _The
existing object is what he had_; the monument in Dugdale is what, I hope,
no architect of 1616–23 could have imagined or designed.

    [Picture: The Monument in Dugdale’s “History of the Antiquities of
       Warwickshire” (1656)  (By permission of John Murray, Esq.)]

Dugdale’s engraving is not a correct copy of any genuine Jacobean work of
art.  Is Dugdale accurate in his reproductions of other monuments in
Stratford Church?  To satisfy himself on this point, Sir George
Trevelyan, as he wrote to me (June 13, 1912), “made a sketch of the Carew
Renaissance monument in Stratford Church, and found that the
discrepancies between the original tomb and the representation in
Dugdale’s _Warwickshire_ are far and away greater than in the monument to
William Shakespeare.”

Mr. Greenwood, {179a} while justly observing that “the little sitting
figures . . . are placed as no monumental sculptor would place them,” “on
the whole sees no reason at all why we should doubt the substantial
accuracy of Dugdale’s figure . . .  It is impossible to suppose that
Hollar would have drawn and that Dugdale would have published a mere
travesty of the Stratford Monument.”

I do not know who drew the design, but a travesty of Jacobean work it is
in every detail of the monument.  A travesty is what Dugdale gives as a
representation of the Carew monument.  Mr. Greenwood, elsewhere,
repeating his criticism of the impossible figures of children, says:
“This is certainly mere matter of detail, and, in the absence of other
evidence, would give us no warrant for doubting the substantial accuracy
of Dugdale’s presentment of the ‘Shakespeare’ bust.” {180a}

Why are we to believe that Dugdale’s artist was merely fantastic in his
design of the children (and also remote from Jacobean taste in every
detail), and yet to credit him with “substantial accuracy” in his
half-length of a gloomy creature clutching a cushion to his stomach?
With his inaccuracies as to the Carew monument, why are we to accept him
as accurate in his representation of the bust?  Moreover, other evidence
is not wanting.  It is positively certain that the monument existing in
1748, was then known as “the original monument,” and that no other
monument was put in its place, at that date or later.

            [Picture: The Carew Monument in Stratford Church]

 [Picture: The Carew Monument as Represented in Dugdale’s “History of the
                   Antiquities of Warwickshire” (1656)]

Now Mrs. Stopes {180b} argues that in 1748 the monument was “entirely
reconstructed,” and so must have become no longer what Dugdale’s man
drew, but what we see to-day.  It is positively certain that her opinion
is erroneous.

If ever what we see to-day was substituted for anything like what
Dugdale’s man drew, the date of the substitution is unknown.

Mrs. Stopes herself discovered the documents which disprove her theory.
They were known to Halliwell-Phillipps, who quotes an unnamed
“contemporary account.” {181a}  This account Mrs. Stopes, with her
tireless industry, found in the Wheler manuscripts, among papers of the
Rev. Joseph Greene, in 1746 Head Master of the Grammar School.  In one
paper of September 1740 “the original monument” is said to be “much
impaired and decayed.”  There was a scheme for making “a new monument” in
Westminster Abbey.  _That_, I venture to think, would have been in
Hanoverian, not in Jacobean taste and style.  But there was no money for
a new monument.  Mrs. Stopes also found a paper of November 20, 1748,
showing that in September 1746, Mr. Ward (grandfather of Mrs. Siddons)
was at Stratford with “a cry of players.”  He devoted the proceeds of a
performance of _Othello_ to the reparation of the then existing monument.
The amount was twelve pounds ten shillings.  The affair dragged on, one
of the Church-wardens, a blacksmith, held the £12, 10_s._, and was
troublesome.  The document of November 20, 1748, was drawn up to be
signed, but was not signed, by the persons who appear to be chiefly
concerned in the matter.  It directed that Mr. Hall, a local limner or
painter, is to “take care, according to his ability, that the monument
shall become as like as possible to what it was when first erected.”
This appears to have been the idea of Mr. Greene.  Another form of words
was later adopted, directing Mr. Hall, the painter, “to repair and
beautify, or to have the direction of repairing and beautifying, _the
original monument_ of Shakespeare the poet.”  Mrs. Stopes infers, justly
in my opinion, that Hall “would fill up the gaps, restore what was
amissing as he thought it ought to be, and finally repaint it according
to the original colours, traces of which he might still be able to see.”
In his _History and Antiquities of Stratford-on-Avon_, {182a} Mr. Wheler
tells us that this was what Hall did.  “In the year 1748 the monument was
carefully repaired, and the original colours of the bust, &c., as much as
possible preserved by Mr. John Hall, limner, of Stratford.”

It follows that we see the original monument and bust, but the painting
is of 1861, for the bust, says Wheler, was in 1793 “painted in white,” to
please Malone.  It was repainted in 1861.

Mrs. Stopes, unluckily, is not content with what Hall was told to do, and
what, according to Wheler, he did.  She writes: “It would only be giving
good value for his money” (£12, 10_s._) “to his churchwardens if Hall
added (_sic_) a cloak, a pen, and manuscript.”  He “could not help
changing” the face, and so on.

Now it was physically impossible to _add_ a cloak, a pen, and manuscript
to such a stone bust as Dugdale’s man shows; to take away the cushion
pressed to the stomach, and to alter the head.  Mr. Hall, if he was to
give us the present bust, had to make an entirely new bust, and, to give
us the present monument in place of that shown in Dugdale’s print, had to
construct an entirely new monument.  Now Hall was a painter, not (like
Giulio Romano) also an architect and sculptor.  _Pour tout potage_ he had
but £12, 10_s._  He could not do, and he did not do these things! he did
not destroy “the original monument” and make a new monument in Jacobean
style.  He was straitly ordered to “repair and beautify the original
monument”; he did repair it, and repainted the colours.  That is all.  I
do not quote what Halliwell-Phillipps tells us {183a} about the repairing
of the forefinger and thumb of the right hand, and the pen; work which,
he says, had to be renewed by William Roberts of Oxford in 1790.  He
gives no authority, and Baconians may say that he was hoaxed, or “lied
with circumstance.”

Mr. Greenwood {183b} quotes Halliwell-Phillipps’s _Works of Shakespeare_
(1853), in which he says that the design in Dugdale’s book “is evidently
too inaccurate to be of any authority; the probability being that it was
not taken from the monument itself.”  Indeed the designer is so
inaccurate that he gives the first word of the Latin inscription as
“Judicyo,” just as Oudry blunders in the Latin inscription of a portrait
of Mary Stuart which he copied badly.  Mr. Greenwood proceeds: “In his
_Outlines_ Halliwell simply ignores Dugdale.  His engraving was doubtless
too inconvenient to be brought to public notice!”  Here Halliwell is
accused of suppressing the truth; if he invented his minute details about
the repeated reparation of the writing hand,—not represented in Dugdale’s
design,—he also lied with circumstance.  But he certainly quoted a
genuine “contemporary account” of the orders for repairing and
beautifying the original monument in 1748, and I presume that he also had
records for what he says about reparations of the hand and pen.  He
speaks, too, of substitutions for decayed alabaster parts of the
monument, though not in his _Outlines_; and I observe that, in Mrs.
Stopes’s papers, there is record of a meeting on December 20, 1748, at
which mention was made of “the materials” which Hall was to use for

To me the evidence of the style as to the date of both monument and bust
speaks so loudly for their accepted date (1616–23) and against the
Georgian date of 1748, that I need no other evidence; nor do I suppose
that any one familiar with the monumental style of 1590–1620 can be of a
different opinion.  In the same way I do not expect any artist or
engraver to take the engraving of the monument in Rowe’s _Shakespeare_
(1709), and that by Grignion so late as 1786, for anything but copies of
the design in Dugdale, with modifications made _à plaisir_.  In Pope’s
edition (1725) Vertue gives the monument with some approach to accuracy,
but for the bald plump face of the bust presents a top-heavy and
sculpturally impossible face borrowed from “the Chandos portrait,” which,
in my opinion, is of no more authority than any other portrait of
Shakespeare.  None of them, I conceive, was painted from the life.

The Baconians show a wistful longing to suppose the original bust, copied
in Dugdale, to have been meant for Bacon; but we need not waste words
over this speculation.  Mr. Greenwood writes that “if I should be told
that Dugdale’s effigy represented an elderly farmer deploring an
exceptionally bad harvest, ‘I should not feel it to be strange!’  Neither
should I feel it at all strange if I were told that it was the
presentment of a philosopher and Lord Chancellor, who had fallen from
high estate and recognised that all things are but vanity.”

 [Picture: From Vertue’s Engraving of the Monument (1725)  (By permission
                          of John Murray, Esq.)]

“_I_ should not feel it to be strange” if a Baconian told me that the
effigy of a living ex-Chancellor were placed in the monument of the dead
Will Shakspere, and if, on asking why the alteration was made, I were
asked in reply, in Mr. Greenwood’s words, “Was Dugdale’s bust thought to
bear too much resemblance to one who was not Shakspere of Stratford?  Or
was it thought that the presence of a woolsack” (the cushion) “might be
taken as indicating that Shakspere of Stratford was indebted for support
to a certain Lord Chancellor?” {186a}  Such, indeed, are the things that
Baconians might readily say: do say, I believe.

Dugdale’s engraving reproduces the first words of a Latin inscription,
still on the monument:

    _Judicio Pylium_, _genio Socratem_, _arte Maronem_
       _Terra tegit_, _populus mæret_, _Olympus habet_:

“Earth covers, Olympus” (heaven? or the Muses’ Hill?) “holds him who was
a Nestor in counsel; in poetic art, a Virgil; a Socrates for his Dæmon”
(“Genius”).  As for the “Genius,” or dæmon of Socrates, and the permitted
false quantity in making the first syllable of Socrates short; and the
use of _Olympus_ for heaven in epitaphs, it is sufficient to consult the
learning of Mr. Elton. {186b}  The poet who made such notable false
quantities in his plays had no cause to object to another on his
monument.  We do not know who erected the monument, and paid for it, or
who wrote or adapted the epitaph; but it was somebody who thought
Shakespeare (or Bacon?) “a clayver man.”  The monument (if a trembling
conjecture may be humbly put forth) was conceivably erected by the piety
of Shakespeare’s daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Hall.  They
exhibit a taste for the mortuary memorial and the queer Latin
inscription.  Mrs. Hall gratified the Manes of her poor mother, Mrs.
Shakespeare, with one of the oddest of Latin epitaphs. {187a}  It opens
like an epigram in the Greek Anthology, and ends in an unusual strain of
Christian mysticism.  Mr. Hall possesses, perhaps arranged for himself, a
few Latin elegiacs as an epitaph.

The famous “Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,” and so on, on the stone
in the chancel, beneath which the sacred dust of Shakespeare lies, or
lay, is the first of “the last lines written, we are told,” {187b} “by
the author of _Hamlet_.”  Who tells us that Shakespeare wrote the four
lines of doggerel?  Is it conceivable that the authority for
Shakespeare’s authorship of the doggerel is a tradition gleaned by Mr.
Dowdall of Queen’s in 1693, from a parish clerk, aged over eighty, he
says,—criticism makes the clerk twenty years younger. {187c}  For
Baconians the lines are bad enough to be the work of William Shakspere of

Meanwhile, in 1649, when Will’s daughter, Mrs. Hall, died, her epitaph
spoke quite respectfully of her father’s intelligence.

    “Witty above her sex, but that’s not all,
    Wise to salvation was good Mistris Hall,
    Something of Shakespeare was in _that_, but _this_
    Wholly of Him with whom she’s now in bliss.” {187d}

Thirty-three years after Shakespeare’s death he was still thought “witty”
in Stratford.  But what could Stratford know?  Milton and Charles I were
of the same opinion; so was Suckling, and the rest of the generation
after Shakespeare.  But they did not know, how should they, that Bacon
(or his equivalent) was the genuine author of the plays and poems.  The
secret, perhaps, so widely spread among “the friends of the Muses” in
1616, was singularly well kept by a set of men rather given to blab as a
general rule.

I confess to be passing weary of the Baconian hatred of Will, which
pursues him beyond his death with sneers and fantastic suspicions about
his monument and his grave, and asks if he “died with a curse upon his
lips, an imprecation against any man who might _move his bones_?  A mean
and vulgar curse indeed!” {188a}  And the authority for the circumstance
that he died with a mean and vulgar curse upon his lips?

About 1694, a year after Mr. Dowdall in 1693, and eighty years almost
after Shakespeare’s death, W. Hall, a Queen’s man, Oxford (the W. Hall,
perhaps, who gave the Bodleian Aldine Ovid, with Shakespeare’s signature,
true or forged, to its unknown owner), went to Stratford, and wrote about
his pilgrimage to his friend Mr. Thwaites, a Fellow of Queen’s.  Mr. Hall
heard the story that Shakespeare was the author of the mean and vulgar
curse.  He adds that there was a great ossuary or bone-house in the
church, where all the bones dug up were piled, “they would load a great
number of waggons.”  Not desiring this promiscuity, Shakespeare wrote the
Curse in a style intelligible to clerks and sextons, “for the most part a
very ignorant sort of people.”

If Shakespeare _did_, that accommodation of himself to his audience was
the last stroke of his wisdom, or his wit. {189a}  Of course there is no
evidence that he wrote the mean and vulgar curse: that he did is only the
pious hope of the Baconians and Anti-Willians.

Into the question of the alleged portraits of Shakespeare I cannot enter.
Ben spoke well of the engraving prefixed to the First Folio, but Ben, as
Mr. Greenwood says, was anxious to give the Folio “a good send-off.”  The
engraving is choicely bad; we do not know from what actual portrait, if
from any, it was executed.  Richard Burbage is known to have amused
himself with the art of design; possibly he tried his hand on a likeness
of his old friend and fellow-actor.  If so, he may have succeeded no
better than Mary Stuart’s embroiderer, Oudry, in his copy of the portrait
of her Majesty.

That Ben Jonson was painted by Honthorst and others, while Shakespeare,
as far as we know, was not, has nothing to do with the authorship of the
plays.  Ben was a scholar, the darling of both Universities; constantly
employed about the Court in arranging Masques; his learning and his
Scottish blood may have led James I to notice him.  Ben, in his later
years, was much in society; fashionable and literary.  He was the father
of the literary “tribe of Ben.”  Thus he naturally sat for his portrait.
In the same way George Buchanan has, and had, nothing like the fame of
Knox.  But as a scholar he was of European reputation; haunted the Court
as tutor of his King, and was the “good pen” of the anti-Marian nobles,
Murray, Morton, and the rest.  Therefore Buchanan’s portrait was painted,
while of Knox we have only a woodcut, done, apparently, after his death,
from descriptions, for Beza’s _Icones_.  The Folio engraving may have no
better source.  Without much minute research it is hard to find authentic
portraits of Mary Stuart, and, just as in Shakespeare’s case, {190a} the
market, in her own day and in the eighteenth century, was flooded with
“mock-originals,” not even derived (in any case known to me) from genuine
and authentic contemporary works.

One thing is certain about the Stratford bust.  Baconians will believe
that Dugdale’s man correctly represented the bust as it was in his time;
and that the actual bust is of 1748, in spite of proofs of Dugdale’s
man’s fantastic inaccuracy; in spite of the evidence of style; and in
spite of documentary evidence that “the original monument” was not to be
destroyed and replaced by the actual monument, but was merely “repaired
and beautified” (painted afresh) by a local painter.


IN perusing the copious arguments of the Anti-Shakesperean but
Non-Baconian Mr. Greenwood, I am often tempted, in Socratic phrase, to
address him thus: Best of men, let me implore you, first, to keep in
memory these statements on which you have most eloquently and abundantly
insisted, namely, that society in Stratford was not only not literary,
but was illiterate.  Next pardon me for asking you to remember that the
late sixteenth and the early seventeenth century did not resemble our
fortunate age.  Some people read Shakespeare’s, Beaumont’s, and
Fletcher’s plays.  This exercise is now very rarely practised.  But
nobody cared to chronicle literary gossip about the private lives and
personal traits of these and several other Elizabethan and Jacobean
playwrights, in the modern manner.  Of Shakespeare (pardon, I mean
Shakspere), the actor, there is one contemporary anecdote, in my poor
opinion a baseless waggery.  Of Beaumont there is none.  Of a hand-maid
of Fletcher, who drank sack in a tumbler, one anecdote appears at the end
of the seventeenth century,—nothing better.  Meanwhile of Shakspere the
“traditions” must be sought either at Stratford or in connection with the
London Stage; and in both cases the traditions began to be in demand very

As Stratford was not literary, indeed was terribly illiterate, any
traditions that survived cannot conceivably have been literary.  That is
absolutely certain.  Natives at Stratford had, by your own hypothesis,
scant interest in literary anecdote.  Fifty years after Shakespeare’s
death, no native was likely to cherish tales of any sprouts of wit
(though it was remembered in 1649, that he was “witty”), or any
“wood-notes wild,” which he may have displayed or chirped at an early

Such things were of no interest to Stratford.  If he made a speech when
he killed a calf, or poached, or ran away to town, the circumstance might
descend from one gaffer to another; he might even be remembered as “the
best of his family,”—the least inefficient.  Given your non-literary and
illiterate Stratford, and you can expect nothing more, and nothing
better, than we receive.

Let me illustrate by a modern example.  In 1866 I was an undergraduate of
a year’s standing at Balliol College, Oxford, certainly not an unlettered
academy.  In that year, the early and the best poems of a considerable
Balliol poet were published: he had “gone down” some eight years before.
Being young and green I eagerly sought for traditions about Mr.
Swinburne.  One of his contemporaries, who took a First in the final
Classical Schools, told me that “he was a smug.”  Another, that, as Mr.
Swinburne and his friend (later a Scotch professor) were not cricketers,
they proposed that they should combine to pay but a single subscription
to the Cricket Club.  A third, a tutor of the highest reputation as a
moralist and metaphysician, merely smiled at my early enthusiasm,—and
told me nothing.  A white-haired College servant said that “Mr. Swinburne
was a very quiet gentleman.”

Then you take us to dirty illiterate Stratford, from fifty to eighty
years after Shakspere’s death,—a Civil War and the Reign of the Saints, a
Restoration and a Revolution having intervened,—and ask us to be
surprised that no anecdotes of Shakspere’s early brilliance, a century
before, survived at Stratford.

A very humble parallel may follow.  Some foolish person went seeking
early anecdotes of myself at my native town, Selkirk on the Ettrick.
From an intelligent townsman he gathered much that was true and
interesting about my younger brothers, who delighted in horses and dogs,
hunted, shot, and fished, and played cricket; one of them bowled for
Gloucestershire and Oxford.  But about me the inquiring literary snipe
only heard that “Andra was aye the stupid ane o’ the fam’ly.”  Yet, I,
too, had bowled for the local club, _non sine gloria_!  Even _that_ was

Try to remember, best of men, that literary anecdotes of a fellow
townsman’s youth do not dwell in the memories of his neighbours from
sixty to a hundred years after date.  It is not in human nature that what
was incomprehensible to the grandsire should be remembered by the
grandson.  Go to “Thrums” and ask for literary memories of the youth of
Mr. Barrie.

Yet {198a} the learned Malone seems to have been sorry that little of
Shakespeare but the calf-killing and the poaching, and the dying of a
fever after drink taken (_where_, I ask you?), with Ben and Drayton, was
remembered, so long after date, at Stratford, of all dirty ignorant
places.  Bah! how could these people have heard of Drayton and Ben?
Remember that we are dealing with human nature, in a peculiarly
malodorous and densely ignorant _bourgade_, where, however, the “wit” of
Shakespeare was not forgotten (in the family) in 1649.  See the epithet
on the tomb of his daughter, Mrs. Hall.

You give us the Rev. John Ward, vicar of Stratford (1661–3), who has
heard that the actor was “a natural wit,” and contracted and died of a
fever, after a bout with Drayton and Ben.  I can scarcely believe that
_these_ were local traditions.  How could these _rustauds_ have an
opinion about “natural wit,” how could they have known the names of Ben
and Drayton?

When you come to Aubrey, publishing in 1680, sixty years after
Shakespeare’s death, you neglect to trace the steps in the descent of his
tradition.  As has been stated, Beeston, “the chronicle of the Stage”
(died 1682), gave him the story of the school-mastering; Beeston being
the son of a servitor of Phillips, an actor and friend of Shakespeare,
who died eleven years before that player.  The story of the
school-mastering and of Shakespeare “knowing Latin pretty well,” is of no
value to me.  I think that he had some knowledge of Latin, as he must
have had, if he were what I fancy him to have been, and if (which is mere
hypothesis) he went for four years to a Latin School.  But the story does
not suit you, and you call it “a mere myth,” which, “of course, will be
believed by those who wish to believe it.”  But, most excellent of
mortals, will it not, by parity of reasoning, “of course be disbelieved
by those who do _not_ wish to believe it”?

And do you want to believe it?

To several stage anecdotes of the actor as an excellent instructor of
younger players, you refer slightingly.  They do not weigh with me:
still, the Stage would remember Shakspere (or Shakespeare) best in stage
affairs.  In reference to a very elliptic statement that, “in _Hamlet_
Betterton benefited by Shakespeare’s coaching,” you write, “This is
astonishing, seeing that Shakspere had been in his grave nearly twenty
years when Betterton was born.  The explanation is that Taylor, of the
Black Fryars Company, was, according to Sir William Davenant, instructed
by Shakspere, and Davenant, who had seen Taylor act, according to Downes,
instructed Betterton.  There is a similar story about Betterton playing
King Henry VIII.  Betterton was said to have been instructed by Sir
William, who was instructed by Lowen, who was instructed by Shakspere!”

Why a note of exclamation?  Who was Downes, and what were his
opportunities of acquiring information?  He “was for many years
book-keeper in the Duke’s Company, first under Davenant in the old house
. . . ”  Davenant was notoriously the main link between “the first and
second Temple,” the theatre of Shakespeare whom, as a boy, he knew, and
the Restoration theatre.  Devoted to the traditions of the stage, he
collected Shakespearean and other anecdotes; he revived the theatre,
cautiously, during the last years of Puritan rule, and told his stories
to the players of the early Restoration.  As his Book-keeper with the
Duke of York’s Company, Downes heard what Davenant had to tell; he also,
for his _Roscius Anglicanus_, had notes from Charles Booth, prompter at
Drury Lane.  On May 28, 1663, Davenant reproduced _Hamlet_, with young
Betterton as the Prince of Denmark.  Davenant, says Charles Booth, “had
seen the part taken by Taylor, of the Black Fryars Company, and Taylor
had been instructed by the author,” (not Bacon but) “Mr. William
Shakespeare,” and Davenant “taught Mr. Betterton in every particle of
it.”  Mr. Elton adds, “We cannot be sure that Taylor was taught by
Shakespeare himself.  He is believed to have been a member of the King’s
Company before 1613, and to have left it for a time before Shakespeare’s
death.” {201a}  His name is in the list in the Folio of “the principall
Actors in all these plays,” but I cannot pretend to be certain that he
played in them in Will’s time.

It is Mr. Pepys (December 30, 1668) who chronicles Davenant’s splendid
revival of _Henry VIII_, in which Betterton, as the King, was instructed
by Sir William Davenant, who had it from old Mr. Lowen, that had his
instruction “from Mr. Shakespear himself.”  Lowin, or Lowen, joined
Shakespeare’s Company in 1604, being then a man of twenty-eight.  Burbage
was the natural man for Hamlet and Henry VIII; but it is not unusual for
actors to have “understudies.”

The stage is notoriously tenacious of such traditions.

When we come with you to Mr. W. Fulman, about 1688, and the additions to
his notes made about 1690–1708, we are concerned with evidence much too
remote, and, in your own classical style, “all this is just a little
mixed.” {201b}  With what Mr. Dowdall heard in 1693, and Mr. William Hall
(1694) heard from a clerk or sexton, or other illiterate dotard at
Stratford, I have already dealt.  I do not habitually believe in what I
hear from “the oldest aunt telling the saddest tale,”—no, not even if she
tells a ghost story, or an anecdote about the presentation by Queen Mary
of her portrait to the ancestor of the Laird,—the portrait being dated
1768, and representing her Majesty in the bloom of girlhood.  Nor do I
care for what Rowe said (on Betterton’s information), in 1709, about
Shakespeare’s schooling; nor for what Dr. Furnivall said that Plume
wrote; nor for what anybody said that Sir John Mennes (Menzies?) said.
But I do care for what Ben Jonson and Shakespeare’s fellow-actors said;
and for what his literary contemporaries have left on record.  But this
evidence you explain away by ætiological guesses, absolutely modern, and,
I conceive, to anyone familiar with historical inquiry, not more valuable
as history than other explanatory myths.

What Will Shakspere had to his literary credit when he died, was men’s
impressions of the seeing of his acted plays; with their knowledge, if
they had any, of fugitive, cheap, perishable, and often bad reprints, in
quartos, of about half of the plays.  Men also had _Venus and Adonis_,
_Lucrece_, and the Sonnets, which sold very poorly, and I do not wonder
at it.  Of the genius of Shakespeare England could form no conception,
till the publication of the Folio (1623), not in a large edition; it
struggled into a Third Edition in 1664.  The _engouement_ about the poet,
the search for personal details, did not manifest itself with any vigour
till nearly thirty years after 1664—and we are to wonder that the
gleanings, at illiterate Stratford, and in Stage tradition, are so scanty
and so valueless.  What could have been picked up, by 1680–90, about
Bacon at Gorhambury, or in the Courts of Law, I wonder.


“THE First Folio” is the name commonly given to the first collected
edition of Shakespeare’s plays.  The volume includes a Preface signed by
two of the actors, Heminge and Condell, panegyrical verses by Ben Jonson
and others, and a bad engraved portrait.  The book has been
microscopically examined by Baconians, hunting for cyphered messages from
their idol in italics, capital letters, misprints, and everywhere.  Their
various discoveries do not win the assent of writers like the late Lord
Penzance and Mr. Greenwood.

The mystery as to the sources, editing, and selection of plays in the
Folio (1623) appears to be impenetrable.  The title-page says that _all_
the contents are published “according to the true original copies.”  If
_only_ MS. copies are meant, this is untrue; in some cases the best
quartos were the chief source, supplemented by MSS.  The Baconians,
following Malone, think that Ben Jonson wrote the Preface (and certainly
it looks like his work), {207a} speaking in the name of the two actors
who sign it.  They say that Shakespeare’s friends “have collected and
published” the plays, have so published them “that whereas you were
abus’d with divers stolne and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed
by the frauds and stealthes of injurious impostors that exposed them:
_even those_” (namely, the pieces previously ill-produced by pirates)
“are now offered to your view cur’d, and perfect of their limbes; and
_all the rest_” (that is, all the plays which had not been piratically
debased), “absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them.”  So obscure
is the Preface that not _all_ previously published separate plays are
explicitly said to be stolen and deformed, but “_divers_ stolen copies”
are denounced.  Mr. Pollard makes the same point in _Shakespeare Folios
and Quartos_, p. 2 (1909).

Now, as a matter of fact, while some of the quarto editions of separate
plays are very bad texts, others are so good that the Folio sometimes
practically reprints them, with some tinkerings, from manuscripts.  Some
quartos, like that of _Hamlet_ of 1604, are excellent, and how they came
to be printed from good texts, and whether or not the texts were given to
the press by Shakespeare’s Company, or were sold, or stolen, is the
question.  Mr. Pollard argues, on grounds almost certain, that “we have
strong _prima facie_ evidence that the sale to publishers of plays
afterwards duly entered on the Stationers’ Registers was regulated by
their lawful owners.” {208a}

The Preface does not explicitly deny that some of the separately printed
texts were good, but says that “divers” of them were stolen and deformed.
My view of the meaning of the Preface is not generally held.  Dr. H. H.
Furness, in his preface to _Much Ado about Nothing_ (p. vi), says, “We
all know that these two friends of Shakespeare assert in their Preface to
the Folio that they had used the Author’s manuscripts, and in the same
breath denounce the Quartos as stolen and surreptitious.”  I cannot see,
I repeat, that the Preface denounces _all_ the Quartos.  It could be
truly said that _divers_ stolen and maimed copies had been foisted on
“abused” purchasers, and really no more _is_ said.  Dr. Furness writes,
“When we now find them using as ‘copy’ one of these very Quartos” (_Much
Ado about Nothing_, 1600), “we need not impute to them a wilful falsehood
if we suppose that in using what they knew had been printed from the
original text, howsoever obtained, they held it to be the same as the
manuscript itself . . . ”  That _was_ their meaning, I think, the Quarto
of _Much Ado_ had _not_ been “maimed” and “deformed,” as divers other
quartos, stolen and surreptitious, had been.

Shakspere, unlike most of the other playwrights, was a member of his
Company.  I presume that his play was thus the common good of his Company
and himself.  If they sold a copy to the press, the price would go into
their common stock; unless they, in good will, allowed the author to
pocket the money.

It will be observed that I understand the words of the Preface otherwise
than do the distinguished Editors of the Cambridge edition.  They write,
“The natural inference to be drawn from this statement” (in the Preface)
“is that _all_ the separate editions of Shakespeare’s plays were
‘stolen,’ ‘surreptitious’ and imperfect, _and that all those published in
the Folio were printed from the author’s own manuscripts_” (my italics).
The Editors agree with Dr. Furness, not with Mr. Pollard, whose learned
opinion coincides with my own.

Perhaps it should be said that I reached my own construction of the sense
of this passage in the Preface by the light of nature, before Mr.
Pollard’s valuable book, based on the widest and most minute research,
came into my hands.  By the results of that research he backs his opinion
(and mine), that some of the quartos are surreptitious and bad, while
others are good “and were honestly obtained.” {210a}  The Preface never
denies this; never says that all the quartos contain maimed and
disfigured texts.  The Preface draws a distinction to this effect, “even
those” (even the stolen and deformed copies) “are now cured and perfect
in their limbs,”—that is, have been carefully edited, while “_all the
rest_” are “absolute in their numbers as he conceived them.”  This does
not allege that all the rest are printed from Shakespeare’s own holograph

Among the plays spoken of as “all the rest,” namely, those not hitherto
published and not deformed by the fraudulent, are, _Tempest_, _Two
Gentlemen_, _Measure for Measure_, _Comedy of Errors_, _As You Like It_,
_All’s Well_, _Twelfth Night_, _Winter’s Tale_, _Henry VI_, iii., _Henry
VIII_, _Coriolanus_, _Timon_, _Julius Cæsar_, _Macbeth_, _Antony and
Cleopatra_, and _Cymbeline_.  Also _Henry VI_, i., ii., _King John_, and
_Taming of the Shrew_, appeared now in other form than in the hitherto
published Quartos bearing these or closely similar names.  We have,
moreover, no previous information as to _The Shrew_, _Timon_, _Julius
Cæsar_, _All’s Well_, and _Henry VIII_.  The Preface adds the remarkable
statement that, whatever Shakespeare thought, “he uttered with that
easinesse, that wee have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.”

It is plain that the many dramas previously unpublished could only be
recovered from manuscripts of one sort or another, because they existed
in no other form.  The Preface takes it for granted that the selected
manuscripts contain the plays “absolute in their numbers as he conceived
them.”  But the Preface does not commit itself, I repeat, to the
statement that all of these many plays are printed from Shakespeare’s own
handwriting.  After “as he conceived them,” it goes on, “Who, as he was a
most happy imitator of nature, was a most gentle expresser of it.  His
mind and hand went together: and what he thought he uttered with that
easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.”

This may be meant to _suggest_, but does not _affirm_, that the actors
_have_ “all the rest” of the plays in Shakespeare’s own handwriting.
They may have, or may have had, some of his manuscripts, and believed
that other manuscripts accessible to them, and used by them, contain his
very words.  Whether from cunning or design, or from the Elizabethan
inability to tell a plain tale plainly, the authors or author of the
Preface have everywhere left themselves loopholes and ways of evasion and
escape.  It is not possible to pin them down to any plain statement of
facts concerning the sources for the hitherto unpublished plays, “the
rest” of the plays.

These, at least, were from manuscript sources which the actors thought
accurate, and some may have been “fair copies” in Shakespeare’s own hand.
(Scott, as regards his novels, sent his _prima cura_, his first writing
down, to the press, and his pages are nearly free from blot or erasion.
In one case at least, Shelley’s first draft of a poem is described as
like a marsh of reeds in water, with wild ducks, but he made very elegant
fair copies for the press.)  Let it be supposed that Ben Jonson wrote all
this Preface, in accordance with the wishes and instructions of the two
actors who sign it.  He took their word for the almost blotless MSS.
which they received from Shakespeare.  He remarks, in his posthumously
published _Discoveries_ (notes, memories, brief essays), “I remember the
players have _often_ mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in
his writing (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a line.”  And Ben
gives, we shall later see, his habitual reply to this habitual boast.

As to the sources of such plays as had been “maimed and deformed by
injurious impostors,” and are now “offered cur’d and perfect of their
limbs,” “it can be proved to demonstration,” say the Cambridge Editors,
“that several plays in the Folio were printed from earlier quarto
editions” (but the players secured a retreat on this point), “and that in
other cases the quarto is more correctly printed, or from a better
manuscript than the Folio text, and therefore of higher authority.”
_Hamlet_, in the Folio of 1623, when it differs from the quarto of 1604,
“differs for the worse in forty-seven places, while it differs for the
better in twenty places.”

Can the wit of man suggest any other explanation than that the editing of
the Folio was carelessly done; out of the best quartos and MSS. in the
theatre for acting purposes, and,—if the players did not lie in what they
“often said,” and if they kept the originals,—out of some MSS. received
from Shakspere?  Whether the two players themselves threw into the press,
after some hasty botchings, whatever materials they had, or whether they
employed an Editor, a very wretched Editor, or Editors, or whether the
great Author, Bacon, himself was his own Editor, the preparation of a
text was infamously done.  The two actors, probably, I think, never read
through the proof-sheets, and took the word of the man whom they employed
to edit their materials, for gospel.  The editing of the Folio is so
exquisitely careless that twelve printer’s errors in a quarto of 1622, of
_Richard III_, appear in the Folio of 1623.  Again, the _Merry Wives_ of
the Folio, is nearly twice as long as the quarto of 1619, yet keeps old

How can we explain the reckless retention of errors, and also the large
additions and improvements?  Did the true author (Bacon or Bungay) now
edit his work, add much matter, and go wrong forty-seven times where the
quarto was right, and go right twenty times when the quarto was wrong?
Did he, for the Folio of 1623, nearly double _The Merry Wives_ in extent,
and also leave all the errors of the fourth quarto uncorrected?

In that case how negligent was Bacon of his immortal works!  Now Bacon
was a scholar, and this absurd conduct cannot be imputed, I hope, to him.

Mr. Pollard is much more lenient than his fellow-scholars towards the
Editor or Editors of the Folio.  He concludes that “manuscript copies of
the plays were easily procurable.”  Sixteen out of the thirty-six plays
existed in quartos.  Eight of the sixteen were not used for the Folio;
five were used, “with additions, corrections, or alterations” (which must
have been made from manuscripts).  Three quartos only were reprinted as
they stood.  The Editors greatly preferred to use manuscript copies; and
showed this, Mr. Pollard thinks, by placing plays, never before printed,
in the most salient parts of the three sets of dramas in their book.
{215a}  They did make an attempt to divide their plays into Acts and
Scenes, whereas the quartos, as a general rule, had been undivided.  But
the Editors, I must say, had not the energy to carry out their good
intentions fully—or Bacon or Bungay, if the author, wearied in
well-doing.  The work is least ill done in the Comedies, and grows worse
and worse as the Editor, or Bacon, or Bungay becomes intolerably slack.

A great living author, who had a decent regard for his own works, could
never have made or passed this slovenly Folio.  Yet Mr. Greenwood argues
that probably Bungay was still alive and active, after Shakspere was dead
and buried.  (Mr. Greenwood, of course, does not speak of Bungay, which I
use as short for his Great Unknown.)  Thus, _Richard III_ from 1597 to
1622 appeared in six quartos.  It is immensely improved in the Folio, and
so are several other plays.  Who made the improvements, which the Editors
could only obtain in manuscripts?  If we say that Shakespeare made them
in MS., Mr. Greenwood asks, “What had he to work upon, since, after
selling his plays to his company, he did not preserve his manuscript?”
{216a}  Now I do not know that he did sell his plays to his company.  We
are sure that Will got money for them, but we do not know what
arrangement he made with his company.  He may have had an author’s rights
in addition to a sum down, as later was customary, and he had his regular
share in the profits.  Nor am I possessed of information that “he did not
preserve his manuscript.”  How can we know that?  He may have kept his
first draft, he may have made a fair copy for himself, as well as for the
players, or may have had one made.  He may have worked on a copy
possessed by the players; and the publisher of the quartos of 1605, 1612,
1622, may not have been allowed to use, or may not have asked for the
latest manuscript revised copy.  The _Richard III_ of the Folio contains,
with much new matter, the printer’s errors of the quarto of 1622.  I
would account for this by supposing that the casual Editor had just sense
enough to add the new parts in a revised manuscript to the quarto, and
was far too lazy to correct the printer’s errors in the quarto.  But Mr.
Greenwood asks whether “the natural conclusion is not that ‘some person
unknown’ took the Quarto of 1622, revised it, added the new passages, and
thus put it into the form in which it appeared in 1623.”  This natural
conclusion means that the author, Bungay, was alive in 1622, and put his
additions and improvements of recent date into the quarto of 1622, but
never took the trouble to correct the errors in the quarto.  And so on in
other plays similarly treated.  “Is it not a more natural conclusion that
‘Shakespeare’” (Bungay) “himself revised its publication, and that some
part of this revision, at any rate, was done after 1616 and before 1623.”

Mr. Greenwood, after criticising other systems, writes, {217b} “There is,
of course, another hypothesis.  It is that Shakespeare” (meaning the real
author) “did not die in 1616,” and here follows the usual notion that
“Shakespeare” was the “_nom de plume_” of that transcendent genius,
“moving in Court circles among the highest of his day (as assuredly
Shakespeare must have moved)—who wished to conceal his identity.”

I have not the shadow of assurance that the Author “moved in Court
circles,” though Will would see a good deal when he played at Court, and
in the houses of nobles, before “Eliza and our James.”  I never moved in
Court circles: Mr. Greenwood must know them better than I do, and I have
explained (see _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, and _Shakespeare_, _Genius_, _and
Society_) how Will picked up his notions of courtly ways.

“Another hypothesis,” the Baconian hypothesis,—“_nom de plume_” and
all,—Mr. Greenwood thinks “an extremely reasonable one”: I cannot easily
conceive of one more unreasonable.

“Supposing that there was such an author as I have suggested, he may well
have conceived the idea of publishing a collected edition of the plays
which had been written under the name of Shakespeare, and being himself
busy with other matters, he may have entrusted the business to some
‘literary man,’ to some ‘good pen,’ who was at the time doing work for
him; and why not to the man who wrote the commendatory verses, the ‘Lines
to the Reader’” (opposite to the engraving), “and, as seems certain, the
Preface, ‘to the great variety of Readers’?” {218a}

That man, that “good pen,” was Ben Jonson.  On the “supposing” of Mr.
Greenwood, Ben is “doing work for” the Great Unknown at the time when
“the business” following on the “idea of publishing a collected edition
of the plays which had been written under the name of Shakespeare”
occurred to the illustrious but unknown owner of that “_nom de plume_.”
In plain words of my own,—the Author may have entrusted “the business,”
and what was that business if not the editing of the Folio?—to Ben
Jonson—“who was at the time doing work for him”—for the Author.

Here is a clue!  We only need to know for what man of “transcendent
genius, universal culture, world-wide philosophy . . . moving in Court
circles,” and so on, Ben “was working” about 1621–3, the Folio appearing
in 1623.

The heart beats with anticipation of a discovery!  “On January 22, 1621,
Bacon celebrated his sixtieth birthday with great state at York House.
Jonson was present,” and wrote an ode, with something about the Genius of
the House (_Lar_ or Brownie),

    “Thou stand’st as if some mystery thou didst.”

Mr. Greenwood does not know what this can mean; nor do I. {219a}

“Jonson, it appears” (on what authority?), “was Bacon’s guest at
Gorhambury, and was one of those good ‘pens,’” of whom Bacon speaks as
assisting him in the translation of some of his books into Latin.

Bacon, writing to Toby Mathew, June 26, 1623, mentions the help of “some
good pens,” Ben Jonson he does not mention.  But Judge Webb does.  “It is
an undoubted fact,” says Judge Webb, “that the Latin of the _De
Augmentis_, which was published in 1623, was the work of Jonson.” {219b}
To whom Mr. Collins replies, “There is not a particle of evidence that
Jonson gave to Bacon the smallest assistance in translating any of his
works into Latin.” {219c}

_Très bien_, on Judge Webb’s assurance the person for whom Ben was
working, in 1623, was Bacon.  Meanwhile, Mr. Greenwood’s “supposing” is
“that there was such an author” (of transcendent genius, and so on), who
“may have entrusted the editing of his collected plays” to some “good
pen,” who was at the time “doing work for him,” and “why not to”—Ben
Jonson. {220a}  Now the man for whom Ben, in 1623, was “doing work”—was
BACON,—so Judge Webb says. {220b}

Therefore, by this hypothesis of Mr. Greenwood, {220c} the Great Unknown
was Bacon,—just the hypothesis of the common Baconian.

Is my reasoning erroneous?  Is the “supposing” suggested by Mr. Greenwood
{220d} any other than that of Miss Delia Bacon, and Judge Webb?  True,
Mr. Greenwood’s Baconian “supposing” is only a working hypothesis: not a
confirmed belief.  But it is useful to his argument (see “Ben Jonson and
Shakespeare”) when he wants to explain away Ben’s evidence, in his verses
in the Folio, to the Stratford actor as the Author.

Mr. Greenwood writes, in the first page of his Preface: “It is no part of
my plan or intention to defend that theory,” “the Baconian theory.”
Apparently it pops out contrary to the intention of Mr. Greenwood.  But
pop out it does: at least I can find no flaw in the reasoning of my
detection of Bacon: I see no way out of it except this: after
recapitulating what is said about Ben as one of Bacon’s “good pens” with
other details, Mr. Greenwood says, “But no doubt that way madness lies!”
{221a}  Ah no! not madness, no, but Baconism “lies that way.”  However,
“let it be granted” (as Euclid says in his sportsmanlike way) that Mr.
Greenwood by no means thinks that his “concealed poet” is Bacon—only some
one similar and similarly situated and still active in 1623, and occupied
with other business than supervising a collected edition of plays written
under his “_nom de plume_” of Shakespeare.  Bacon, too, was busy, with
supervising, or toiling at the Latin translation of his scientific works,
and Ben (according to Judge Webb) was busy in turning the _Advancement of
Learning_ into Latin prose.  Mr. Greenwood quotes, without reference,
Archbishop Tenison as saying that Ben helped Bacon in doing his works
into Latin. {221b}  Tenison is a very late witness.  The prophetic soul
of Bacon did not quite trust English to last as long as Latin, or he
thought Latin, the _lingua franca_ of Europe in his day, more easily
accessible to foreign students, as, of course, it was.  Thus Bacon was
very busy; so was Ben.  The sad consequence of Ben’s business, perhaps,
is that the editing of the Folio is notoriously bad; whether Ben were the
Editor or not, it is infamously bad.

Conceivably Mr. Greenwood is of the same opinion.  He says, “It stands
admitted that a very large part of that volume” (the Folio) “consists of
work that is not ‘Shakespeare’s’ at all.”

How strange, if Ben edited it for the Great Unknown—who knew, if any
human being knew, what work was “Shakespeare’s”!  On Mr. Greenwood’s
hypothesis, {222a} or “supposing,” the Unknown Author “may well have
conceived the idea of publishing a collected edition of the plays which
had been written” (not “published,” _written_) “under the name of
Shakespeare, and, being himself busy with other matters, he may have
entrusted the business to” some “good pen,” “and why not to”—Ben.
Nevertheless “a very large part of that volume consists of work that is
not ‘Shakespeare’s’ at all.” {222b}  How did this occur?  The book {222c}
is “that very doubtful ‘canon.’”  How, if “Shakespeare’s” man edited it
for “Shakespeare”?  Did “Shakespeare” not care what stuff was placed
under his immortal “_nom de plume_”?

It is not my fault if I think that Mr. Greenwood’s hypotheses {222d}—the
genuine “Shakespeare” either revised his own works, or put Ben on the
editorial task—are absolutely contradicted by his statements in another
part of his book. {222e}  For the genuine “Shakespeare” knew what plays
he had written, knew what he could honestly put forth as his own, as
“Shakespeare’s.”  Or, if he placed the task of editing in Ben’s hands, he
must have told Ben what plays were of his own making.  In either case the
Folio would contain these, and no others.  But—“the _plat
contraire_,”—the very reverse,—is stated by Mr. Greenwood.  “It stands
admitted that a very large portion of that volume” (the Folio) “consists
of work that is not ‘Shakespeare’s’” (is not Bacon’s, or the other man’s)
“at all.” {223a}  Then away fly the hypotheses {223b} that the
auto-Shakespeare, or that Ben, employed by the auto-Shakespeare
(apparently Bacon) revised, edited, and prepared for publication the
auto-Shakespearean plays.  For Mr. Greenwood “has already dealt with
_Titus_ (_Andronicus_) and _Henry VI_,” {223c} and proved them not to be
auto-Shakespearean—and he adds “there are many other plays in that very
doubtful ‘canon’” (the Folio) “which, by universal admission, contain
much non-Shakespearean composition.” {223d}  Perhaps! but if so the two
hypotheses, {223e} that either the genuine Shakespeare {223f} revised
(“is it not a more natural solution that ‘Shakespeare’ himself revised
his works for publication, and that some part, at any rate, of this
revision {223g} was done after 1616 and before 1623?”), or {223h} that he
gave Ben (who was working, by the conjecture, for Bacon) the task of
editing the Folio,—are annihilated.  For neither the auto-Shakespeare (if
honest), nor Ben (if sober), could have stuffed the Folio full of
non-Shakespearean work,—including four “non-Shakespearean” plays,—nor
could the Folio be “that very doubtful canon.” {224a}  Again, if either
the auto-Shakespeare or Ben following his instructions, were Editor,
neither could have, as the Folio Editor had “evidently no little doubt
about” _Troilus and Cressida_. {224b}

Neither Ben, nor the actual Simon Pure, the author, the auto-Shakespeare,
could fail to know the truth about _Trodus and Cressida_.  But the Editor
{224c} did _not_ know the truth, the whole canon is “doubtful.”
Therefore the hypothesis, the “supposing,” that the actual author did the
revising, {224d} and the other hypothesis that he gave Ben the work,
{224e} seem to me wholly impossible.  But Mr. Greenwood needs the
“supposings” of pp. 290, 293; and as he rejects _Titus Andronicus_ and
_Henry VI_ (both in the Folio), he also needs the contradictory views of
pp. 351, 358.  On which set of supposings and averments does he stand to

Perhaps he thinks to find a way out of what appears to me to be a dilemma
in the following fashion: He will not accept _Titus Andronicus_ and
_Henry VI_, though both are in the Folio, as the work of _his_
“Shakespeare,” his Unknown, the Bacon of the Baconians.  Well, we ask, if
your Unknown, or Bacon, or Ben,—instructed by Bacon, or by the
Unknown,—edited the Folio, how could any one of the three insert _Titus_,
and _Henry VI_, and be “in no little doubt about” _Troilus and Cressida_?
Bacon, or the Unknown, or the Editor employed by either, knew perfectly
well which plays either man could honestly claim as his own work, done
under the “_nom de plume_” of “William Shakespeare” (with or without the
hyphen).  Yet the Editor of the Folio does not know—and Mr. Greenwood
does know—_Henry VI_ and _Titus_ are “wrong ones.”

Mr. Greenwood’s way out, if I follow him, is this: {225a} “Judge
Stotsenburg asks, ‘Who wrote _The Taming of a Shrew_ printed in 1594, and
who wrote _Titus Andronicus_, _Henry VI_, or _King Lear_ referred to in
the Diary?’” (Henslowe’s).  The Judge continues: “Neither Collier nor any
of the Shaxper commentators make (_sic_) any claim to their authorship in
behalf of William Shaxper.  Since these plays have the same names as
those included in the Folio of 1623 the presumption is that they are the
same plays until the contrary is shown.  Of course it may be shown,
either that those in the Folio are entirely different except in name, or
that these plays were revised, improved, and dressed by some one whom
they” (who?) “called Shakespeare.”

Mr. Greenwood says, “My own conviction is that . . . these plays were
‘revised, improved, and dressed by some one whom they called
Shakespeare.’” {226a}  (Whom _who_ called Shakespeare?)  In that case
these plays,—say _Titus Andronicus_ and _Henry VI_, Part 1,—which Mr.
Greenwood denies to _his_ “Shakespeare” were just as much _his_
Shakespeare’s plays as any other plays (and there are several), which
_his_ Shakespeare “revised, improved, and dressed.”  Yet _his_
Shakespeare is _not_ author of _Henry VI_, {226b} not the author of
_Titus Andronicus_. {226c}  “Mr. Anders,” writes Mr. Greenwood, “makes
what I think to be a great error in citing _Henry VI_ and _Titus_ as
genuine plays of Shakespeare.” {226d}

He hammers at this denial in nineteen references in his Index to _Titus
Andronicus_.  Yet Ben, or Bacon, or the Unknown thought that these plays
_were_ “genuine plays” of “Shakespeare,” the concealed author—Bacon or
Mr. Greenwood’s man.  It appears that the immense poet who used the “_nom
de plume_” of “Shakespeare” did not know the plays of which he could
rightfully call himself the author; that (not foreseeing Mr. Greenwood’s
constantly repeated objections) he boldly annexed four plays, or two
certainly, which Mr. Greenwood denies to him, and another about which
“the Folio Editor was in no little doubt.”

Finally, {227a} Mr. Greenwood is “convinced,” “it is my conviction” that
some plays which he often denies to his “Shakespeare” were “revised,
improved, and dressed by some one whom they called Shakespeare.”  That
some one, if he edited or caused to be edited the Folio, thought that his
revision, improvement, and dressing up of the plays gave him a right to
claim their authorship—and Mr. Greenwood, a dozen times and more, denies
to him their authorship.

One is seriously puzzled to discover the critic’s meaning.  _The Taming
of a Shrew_, _Titus_, _Henry VI_, and _King Lear_, referred to in
Henslowe’s “Diary,” are not “Shakespearean,” we are repeatedly told.  But
“my own conviction is that . . . ” these plays were “revised, improved,
and dressed by some one whom they called Shakespeare.”  But to be
revised, improved, and dressed by some one whom they called Shakespeare,
is to be as truly “Shakespearean” work as is any play so handled “by
Shakespeare.”  Thus the plays mentioned are as truly “Shakespearean” as
any others in which “Shakespeare” worked on an earlier canvas, and also
_Titus_ “is not _Shakespearean_ at all.”  Mr. Greenwood, I repeat,
constantly denies the “Shakespearean” character to _Titus_ and _Henry
VI_.  “The conclusion of the whole matter is that _Titus_ and _The
Trilogy of Henry VI_ are not the work of Shakespeare: that his hand is
probably not to be found at all in _Titus_, and only once or twice, if at
all, in _Henry VI_, Part I, but that he it probably was who altered and
remodelled the two parts of the old _Contention of the Houses of York and
Lancaster_, thereby producing _Henry VI_, Parts II and III.” {228a}

Yet {228b} _Titus_ and _Henry VI_ appear as “revised, improved, and
dressed” by the mysterious “some one whom they called Shakespeare.”  If
Mr. Greenwood’s conclusion {228c} be correct, “Shakespeare” had no right
to place _Henry VI_, Part I, and _Titus_ in his Folio.  If his
“conviction” {228d} be correct, Shakespeare had as good a right to them
as to any of the plays which he revised, and improved, and dressed.  They
_must_ be “Shakespearean” if Mr. Greenwood is right {228e} in his
suggestion that “Shakespeare” either revised his works for publication
between 1616 and 1623, or set his man, Ben Jonson, upon that business.
Yet neither one nor the other knew what to make of _Troilus and
Cressida_.  “The Folio Editor had, evidently, no little doubt about that
play.” {228f}

So neither “Shakespeare” nor Ben, instructed by him, can have been “the
Folio Editor.”  Consequently Mr. Greenwood must abandon his suggestion
that either man was the Editor, and may return to his rejection of
_Titus_ and _Henry VI_, Part I.  But he clings to it.  He finds in
Henslowe’s Diary “references to, and records of the writing of, such
plays” as, among others, _Titus Andronicus_, and _Henry VI_. {229a}

Mr. Greenwood, after rejecting a theory of some one, says, “Far more
likely does it appear that there was a great man of the time whose genius
was capable of ‘transforming dross into gold,’ who took these plays, and,
in great part, rewrote and revised them, leaving sometimes more, and
sometimes less of the original work; and that so rewritten, revised, and
transformed they appeared as the plays of ‘Shake-speare.’” {229b}

This statement is made {229c} about “these plays,” including _Titus
Andronicus_ and _Henry VI_, while {229d} “_Titus_ and the _Trilogy of
Henry VI_ are not the work of Shakespeare . . . his hand is probably not
to be found at all in _Titus_, and only once or twice in _Henry VI_, Part
I,” though he probably made Parts II and III out of older plays.

I do not know where to have the critic.  If _Henry VI_, Part I, and
_Titus_ are in no sense by “Shakespeare,” then neither “Shakespeare” nor
Ben for him edited or had anything to do with the editing of the Folio.
If either or both had to do with the editing, as the critic suggests,
then he is wrong in denying Shakespearean origin to _Titus_ and _Henry
VI_, Part I.

Of course one sees a way out of the dilemma for the great
auto-Shakespeare himself, who, by one hypothesis, handed over the editing
of his plays to Ben (_he_, by Mr. Greenwood’s “supposing,” was deviling
at literary jobs for Bacon).  The auto-Shakespeare merely tells Ben to
edit his plays, and never even gives him a list of them.  Then Ben brings
him the Folio, and the author looks at the list of Plays.

“Mr. Jonson,” he says, “I have hitherto held thee for an honest scholar
and a deserving man in the quality thou dost profess.  But thou hast
brought me a maimed and deformed printed copy of that which I did write
for my own recreation, not wishful to be known for so light a thing as a
poet.  Moreover, thou hast placed among these my trifles, four plays to
which I never put a finger, and others in which I had no more than a
thumb.  The Seneschal, Mr. Jonson, will pay thee what is due to thee; thy
fardels shall be sent whithersoever thou wilt, and, Mary!  Mr. Jonson, I
bid thee never more be officer of mine.”

This painful discourse must have been held at Gorhambury,—if Ben edited
the Folio—for Francis.

It is manifest, I hope, that about the Folio Mr. Greenwood speaks with
two voices, and these very discordant.  It is also manifest that, whoever
wrote the plays left his materials in deep neglect, and that, when they
were collected, some one gathered them up in extreme disorder.  It is
extraordinary that the Baconians and Mr. Greenwood do not see the fallacy
of their own reasoning in this matter of the Folio.  They constantly
ridicule the old view that the actor, Will Shakspere (if, by miracle, he
were the author of the plays), could have left them to take their
fortunes.  They are asked, what did other playwrights do in that age?
They often parted with their whole copyright to the actors of this or
that company, or to Henslowe.  The new owners could alter the plays at
will, and were notoriously anxious to keep them out of print, lest other
companies should act them.  As Mr. Greenwood writes, {231a} “Such, we are
told, was the universal custom with dramatists of the day; they ‘kept no
copies’ of their plays, and thought no more about them.  It will, I
suppose, be set down to fanaticism that I should doubt the truth of this
proposition, that I doubt if it be consonant with the known facts of
human nature.”  But whom, except Jonson, does Mr. Greenwood find editing
and publishing his plays?  Beaumont, Fletcher, Heywood?  No!

If the Great Unknown were dead in 1623, his negligence was as bad as
Will’s.  If he were alive and revised his own work for publication,
{231b} he did it as the office cat might have done it in hours of play.
If, on the other side, he handed the editorial task over to Ben, {232a}
then he did not even give Ben a list of his genuine works.  Mr. Greenwood
cites the case of Ben Jonson, a notorious and, I think, solitary
exception.  Ben was and often proclaimed himself to be essentially a
scholar.  He took as much pains in prefacing, editing, and annotating his
plays, as he would have taken had the texts been those of Greek

Finally, all Baconians cry out against the sottish behaviour of the
actor, Will, if being really the author of the plays, he did not bestir
himself, and bring them out in a collected edition.  Yet no English
dramatist ventured on doing such a thing, till Ben thus collected his
“works” (and was laughed at) in 1616.  The example might have encouraged
Will to be up and doing, but he died early in 1616.  If Will were _not_
the author, what care was Bacon, or the Unknown, taking of his many
manuscript plays, and for the proper editing of those which had appeared
separately in pamphlets?  As indolent and casual as Will, the great
Author, Bacon or another, left the plays to take their chances.  Mr.
Greenwood says that “_if the author_” (Bacon or somebody very like him)
“_had been careless about keeping copies of his manuscripts_ . . . ”
{232b}  What an “if” in the case of the great Author!  This gross
neglect, infamous in Will, may thus have been practised by the Great
Unknown himself.

In 1911 Mr. Greenwood writes, “There is overwhelming authority for the
view that _Titus Andronicus_ is not _Shakespearean_ at all.” {233a}  In
that case, neither Bacon, nor the Unknown, nor Ben, acting for either,
can have been the person who put _Titus_ into the Folio.


THE evidence of Ben Jonson to the identity of Shakespeare the author with
Shakspere the actor, is “the strength of the Stratfordian faith,” says
Mr. Greenwood.  “But I think it will be admitted that the various
Jonsonian utterances with regard to ‘Shakespeare’ are by no means easy to
reconcile one with the other.” {237a}

It is difficult to reply briefly to Mr. Greenwood’s forty-seven pages
about the evidence of Jonson.  But, first, whenever in written words or
in reported conversation, Ben speaks of Shakespeare by name, he speaks of
his _works_: in 1619 to Drummond of Hawthornden; in 1623 in commendatory
verses to the Folio; while, about 1630, probably, in his posthumously
published _Discourses_, he writes on Shakespeare as the friend and
“fellow” of the players, on Shakespeare as his own friend, and as a
dramatist.  On each of these three occasions, Ben’s _tone_ varies.  In
1619 he said no more to Drummond of Hawthornden (apparently on two
separate occasions) than that Shakespeare “lacked art,” and made the
mistake about a wreck on the sea-coast of Bohemia.

In 1619, Ben spoke gruffly and briefly of Shakespeare, as to Drummond he
also spoke disparagingly of Beaumont, whom he had panegyrised in an
epigram in his own folio of 1616, and was again to praise in the
commendatory verses in the Folio.  He spoke still more harshly of
Drayton, whom in 1616 he had compared to Homer, Virgil, Theocritus, and
Tyræus!  He told an unkind anecdote of Marston, with whom he had first
quarrelled and then made friends, collaborating with him in a play; and
very generously and to his great peril, sharing his imprisonment.  To
Drummond, Jonson merely said that he “beat Marston and took away his
pistol.”  Of Sir John Beaumont, brother of the dramatist, Ben had written
a most hyperbolical eulogy in verse; luckily for Sir John, to Drummond
Ben did not speak of him.  Such was Ben, in panegyric verse hyperbolical;
in conversation “a despiser of others, and praiser of himself.”  Compare
Ben’s three remarks about Donne, all made to Drummond.  Donne deserved
hanging for breaking metre; Donne would perish for not being understood:
and Donne was in some points the first of living poets.

Mr. Greenwood’s effort to disable Jonson’s evidence rests on the
contradictions in his estimates of Shakespeare’s poetry, in notices
scattered through some thirty years.  Jonson, it is argued, cannot on
each occasion mean Will.  He must now mean Will, now the Great Unknown,
and now—both at once.  Yet I have proved that Ben was the least
consistent of critics, all depended on the occasion, and on his humour at
the moment.  This is a commonplace of literary history.  The Baconians do
not know it; Mr. Greenwood, if he knows it, ignores it, and bases his
argument on facts which may be unknown to his readers.  We have noted
Ben’s words of 1619, and touched on his panegyric of 1623.  Thirdly,
about 1630 probably, Ben wrote in his manuscript book _Discourses_ an
affectionate but critical page on Shakespeare as a man and an author.
Always, in prose, and in verse, and in recorded conversation, Ben
explicitly identified Shakspere (William, of Stratford) with the author
of the plays usually ascribed to him.  But the Baconian Judge Webb (in
extreme old age), and the anti-Shakespearean Mr. Greenwood and others,
choose to interpret Ben’s words on the theory that, in 1623, he “had his
tongue in his cheek”; that, like Odysseus, he “mingled things false with
true,” that _they_ know what is true from what is false, and can undo the
many knots which Ben tied in his tongue.  How they succeed we shall see.

In addition to his three known mentions of Shakespeare by name (1619,
1623, 1630?), Ben certainly appears to satirise his rival at a much
earlier date; especially as Pantalabus, a playwright in _The Poetaster_
(1601), and as actor, poet, and plagiarist in an epigram, _Poet-Ape_,
published in his collected works of 1616; but probably written as early
as 1602.  It is well known that in 1598 Shakespeare’s company acted Ben’s
_Every Man in His Humour_.  It appears that he conceived some grudge
against the actors, and apparently against Shakespeare and other
playwrights, for, in 1601, his _Poetaster_ is a satire both on
playwrights and on actors, whom he calls “apes.”  The apparent attacks on
Shakespeare are just such as Ben, if angry and envious, would direct
against him; while we know of no other poet-player of the period to whom
they could apply.  For example, in _The Poetaster_, Histrio, the actor,
is advised to ingratiate himself with _Pantalabus_, “gent’man
parcel-poet, his father was a man of worship, I tell thee.”  This is
perhaps unmistakably a blow at Shakespeare, who had recently acquired for
his father and himself arms, and the pleasure of writing himself
“gentleman.”  This “parcel-poet gent’man” “pens lofty, in a new stalking
style,”—he is thus an author, he “pens,” and in a high style.  He is
called _Pantalabus_, from the Greek words for “to _take up all_,” which
means that, as poet, he is a plagiarist.  Jonson repeats this charge in
his verses called _Poet-Ape_—

    “_He takes up all_, makes each man’s wit his own,
    And told of this, he slights it.”

In a scene added to _The Poetaster_ in 1616, the author (Ben) is advised

    “With a sad and serious verse to wound
    Pantalabus, railing in his saucy jests,”

and obviously slighting the charges of plagiarism.  Perhaps Ben is
glancing at Shakespeare, who, if accused of plagiary by an angry rival,
would merely laugh.

A reply to the _Poetaster_, namely _Satiromastix_ (by Dekker and
Marston?), introduces Jonson himself as babbling darkly about “Mr.
Justice Shallow,” and “an Innocent Moor” (Othello?).  Here is question of
“administering strong pills” to Jonson; _then_,

    “What lumps of hard and indigested stuff,
    Of bitter _Satirism_, of _Arrogance_,
    Of _Self-love_, of _Detraction_, of a black
    And stinking _Insolence_ should we fetch up!”

This “pill” is a reply to Ben’s “purge” for the poets in his _Poetaster_.
Oh, the sad old stuff!

Referring to Jonson’s _Poetaster_, and to _Satiromastix_, the
counter-attack, we find a passage in the Cambridge play, _The Return from
Parnassus_ (about 1602).  Burbage, the tragic actor, and Kempe, the
low-comedy man of Shakespeare’s company, are introduced, discussing the
possible merits of Cambridge wits as playwrights.  Kempe rejects them as
they “smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis
. . . ”  The purpose, of course, is to laugh at the ignorance of the
low-comedy man, who thinks “Metamorphosis” a writer, and does not
suspect—how should he?—that Shakespeare “smells of Ovid.”  Kempe
innocently goes on, “Why, here’s our fellow” (comrade) “Shakespeare puts
them all down” (all the University playwrights), “aye, and Ben Jonson
too.  O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow, he brought up Horace” (in
_The Poetaster_) “giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare
hath given him a purge . . . ”

The Cambridge author, perhaps, is thinking of the pill (not purge) which,
in _Satiromastix_, might be administered to Jonson.  The Cambridge author
may have thought that Shakespeare wrote the passage on the pill which was
to “fetch up” masses of Ben’s insolence, self-love, arrogance, and
detraction.  If this be not the sequence of ideas, it is not easy to
understand how or why Kempe is made to say that Shakespeare has given
Jonson a purge.  Stupid old nonsense!  There are other more or less
obscure indications of Jonson’s spite, during the stage-quarrel, against
Shakespeare, but the most unmistakable proof lies in his verses in
“Poet-Ape.”  I am aware that Ben’s intention here to hit at Shakespeare
has been denied, for example by Mr. Collins with his usual vigour of
language.  But though I would fain agree with him, the object of attack
can be no known person save Will.  Jonson was already, in _The
Poetaster_, using the term “_Poet-Ape_,” for he calls the actors at large

Jonson thought so well of his rhymes that he included them in the
Epigrams of his first Folio (1616).  By that date, the year of
Shakespeare’s death, if he really loved Shakespeare, as he says, in verse
and prose, Ben might have suppressed the verses.  But (as Drummond noted)
he preferred his jest, such as it was, to his friend; who was not, as
usually understood, a man apt to resent a very blunt shaft of very
obsolete wit.  Like Molière, Shakespeare had outlived the charge of
plagiarism, made long ago by the jealous Ben.

Poet-Ape is an actor-playwright “_that would be thought our chief_”—words
which, by 1601, could only apply to Shakespeare; there was no rival, save
Ben, near his throne.  The playwright-actor, too, has now confessedly

    To a little wealth and credit in the scene,”

of no other actor-playwright could this be said.

He is the author of “works” (Jonson was laughed at for calling his own
plays “works”), but these works are “the frippery of wit,” that is, a
tissue of plagiarisms, as in the case of _Pantalabus_.  But “told of this
he slights it,” as most successful authors, when accused, as they often
are, of plagiarism by jealous rivals, wisely do;—so did Molière.  This
Poet-Ape began his career by “picking and gleaning” and “buying
reversions of old plays.”  This means that Shakespeare _did_ work over
earlier plays which his company had acquired; or, if Shakespeare did
not,—then, I presume,—Bacon did!

_That_, with much bad humour, is the gist of the rhymes on Poet-Ape.  Ben
thinks Shakespeare’s “works” very larcenous, but still, the “works,” as
such, are those of the poet-actor.  I hope it is now clear that Poet-Ape,
who, like _Pantalabus_, “takes up all”; who has “grown to a little wealth
and credit in the scene,” and who “thinks himself the chief” of
contemporary dramatists, can be nobody but Shakespeare.  Hence it follows
that the “works” of Poet-Ape, are the works of Shakespeare.  Ben admits,
nay, asserts the existence of the works, says that they may reach “the
after-time,” but he calls them a mass of plagiarisms,—because he is in a
jealous rage.

But this view does not at all suit Mr. Greenwood, for it shows Ben
regarding Shakespeare as the “Ape,” or Actor, and also as the “Poet” and
author of the “works.”  Yet Ben’s words mean nothing if not that an actor
is the author of works which Ben accuses of plagiarism.  Mr. Greenwood
thinks that the epigram proves merely that “Jonson looked upon Shakspere
(if, indeed, he refers to him) as one who put forward the writings of
others as his own, or, in plain English, an impostor.”  “The work which
goes in his name is, in truth, the work of somebody else.” {244a}  Mr.
Greenwood put the same interpretation on Greene’s words about
“Shakescene,” and we showed that the interpretation was impossible.  “The
utmost we should be entitled to say” (if Shake-scene be meant for
Shakspere) “is that Greene accuses Player Shakspere of putting forward,
as his own, some work or perhaps some parts of a work, for which he was
really indebted to another.” {245a}  We proved, by quoting Greene’s
words, that he said nothing which could be tortured into this sense.
{245b}  In the same way Ben’s words cannot be tortured into the sense
that “the work which goes in his” (Poet-Ape’s) “name is, in truth, the
work of somebody else.” {245c}  Mr. Greenwood tries to find the
Anti-Willian hypothesis in Greene’s _Groatsworth of Wit_ and in Ben’s
epigram.  It is in neither.

Jonson is not accusing Shakespeare of pretending to be the author of
plays written by somebody else, but of “making _each man’s_ wit his own,”
and the _men_ are the other dramatists of the day.  Thus the future “may
judge” Shakespeare’s work “to be his as well as _ours_.”

It is “we,” the living and recognised dramatists, whom Shakespeare is
said to plagiarise from; so boldly that

    “_We_, _the robbed_, leave rage, and pity it.”

Ben does not mean that Shakespeare is publishing, as his own, whole plays
by some other author, but that his works are tissues of scraps stolen
from his contemporaries, from “us, the robbed.”  Where are to be found or
heard of any works by a player-poet of 1601, the would-be chief dramatist
of the day, except those signed William Shak(&c.).  There are none, and
thus Ben, at this date, is identifying Will Shakspere, the actor, with
the author of the Shakespearean plays, which he expects to reach
posterity; “after times may judge them to be his,” as after times do to
this hour.

Thus Ben expresses, in accordance with his humour on each occasion, most
discrepant opinions of Will’s works, but he never varies from his
identification of Will with the author of the plays.

The “works” of which Ben wrote so splenetically in _Poet-Ape_, were the
works of a Playwright-Actor, who could be nobody but the actor
Shakespeare, as far as Ben then knew.  If later, and in altered
circumstances, he wrote of the very same works in very different terms,
his “utterances” are “not easily reconcilable” with each other,—_whoever_
the real author of the works may be.  If Bacon, or Mr. Greenwood’s
anonymous equivalent for Bacon, were the author, and if Ben came to know
it, his attitudes towards the _works_ are still as irreconcilable as

Perhaps Baconians and Mr. Greenwood might say, “as long as Ben believed
that the works were those of an Actor-Playwright, he thought them
execrable.  But when he learned that they were the works of Bacon (or of
some Great One), he declared them to be more than excellent”—_but not to
Drummond_.  I am reluctant to think that Jonson was the falsest and
meanest of snobs.  I think that when his old rival, by his own account
his dear friend, was dead, and when (1623) Ben was writing panegyric
verses about the first collected edition of his plays (the Folio), then
between generosity and his habitual hyperbolical manner when he was
composing commendatory verses, he said,—not too much in the way of
praise,—but a good deal more than he later said (1630?), in prose, and in
cold blood.  I am only taking Ben as I find him and as I understand him.
Every step in my argument rests on well-known facts.  Ben notoriously, in
his many panegyric verses, wrote in a style of inflated praise.  In
conversation with Drummond he censured, in brief blunt phrases, the men
whom, in verse, he had extolled.  The Baconian who has not read all Ben’s
panegyrics in verse, and the whole of his conversations with Drummond,
argues in ignorance.

We now come to Ben’s panegyrics in the Folio of 1623.  Ben heads the

                         “TO THE MEMORY OF MY BELOVED
                                  THE AUTHOR
                           MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
                            WHAT HE HATH LEFT US.”

Words cannot be more explicit.  Bacon was alive (I do not know when Mr.
Greenwood’s hidden genius died), and Ben goes on to speak of the Author,
Shakespeare, as dead, and buried.  He calls on him thus:

       “Soul of the Age!
    The applause! delight! the wonder of our Stage!
    My Shakespear rise: I will not lodge thee by
    Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
    A little further, to make thee a room:
    Thou art a monument, without a tomb,
    And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
    And we have wits to read, and praise to give.”

Beaumont, by the way, died in the same year as Shakespeare, 1616, and,
while Ben here names him with Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare, his
contemporaries have left no anecdotes, no biographical hints.  In the
panegyric follow the lines:

    “And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,
    From thence to honour thee I would not seek
    For names, but call forth thund’ring Æschylus,”

and the other glories of the Roman and Attic stage, to see and hear how
Shakespeare bore comparison with all that the classic dramatists did, or
that “did from their ashes come.”

Jonson means, “despite your lack of Greek and Latin I would not shrink
from challenging the greatest Greek and Roman tragedians to see how you
bear comparison with themselves”?

Mr. Greenwood and the Baconians believe that the author of the plays
abounded in Latin and Greek.  In my opinion his classical scholarship
must have seemed slight indeed to Ben, so learned and so vain of his
learning: but this is part of a vexed question, already examined.  So
far, Ben’s verses have brought not a hint to suggest that he does not
identify the actor, his Beloved, with the author.  Nothing is gained when
Ben, in commendatory verses, praises “Thy Art,” whereas, speaking to
Drummond of Hawthornden (1619), he said that Shakespeare “wanted art.”
Ben is not now growling to Drummond of Hawthornden: he is writing a
panegyric, and applauds Shakespeare’s “well-turned and true-filed lines,”
adding that, “to write a living line” a man “must sweat,” and “strike the
second heat upon the Muses’ anvil.”

To produce such lines requires labour, requires conscious “art.”  So
Shakespeare _had_ “art,” after all, despite what Ben had said to
Drummond: “Shakespeare lacked art.”  There is no more in the matter; the
“inconsistency” is that of Ben’s humours on two perfectly different
occasions, now grumbling to Drummond; and now writing hyperbolically in
commendatory verses.  But the contrast makes Mr. Greenwood exclaim, “Can
anything be more astonishing and at the same time more unsatisfactory
than this?” {249a}

Can anything be more like Ben Jonson?

Did he know the secret of the authorship in 1619?  If so, why did he say
nothing about the plays of the Great Unknown (whom he called
Shakespeare), save what Drummond reports, “want of art,” ignorance of
Bohemian geography.  Or did Ben _not_ know the secret till, say, 1623,
and then heap on the very works which he had previously scouted praise
for the very quality which he had said they lacked?  If so, Ben was as
absolutely inconsistent, as before.  There is no way out of this dilemma.
On neither choice are Ben’s utterances “easy to reconcile one with the
other,” except on the ground that Ben was—Ben, and his comments varied
with his varying humours and occasions.  I believe that, in the
commendatory verses, Ben allowed his Muse to carry him up to heights of
hyperbolical praise which he never came near in cold blood.  He was
warmed with the heat of poetic composition and wound up to heights of
eulogy, though even _now_ he could not forget the small Latin and less

We now turn to Mr. Greenwood’s views about the commendatory verses.  On
mature consideration I say nothing of his remarks on Ben’s couplets about
the bad engraved portrait. {250a}  They are concerned with the supposed
“_original_ bust,” as represented in Dugdale’s engraving of 1656.  What
the Baconians hope to make out of “the _original_ bust” I am quite unable
to understand. {250b}  Again, I leave untouched some witticisms {250c} on
Jonson’s lines about Spenser, Chaucer, and Beaumont in their tombs—lines
either suggested by, or suggestive of others by an uncertain W. Basse,
“but the evidence of authorship seems somewhat doubtful.  How the date is
determined I do not know . . . ” {251a}  As Mr. Greenwood knows so
little, and as the discussion merely adds dust to the dust, and fog to
the mist of his attempt to disable Ben’s evidence, I glance and pass by.

“Then follow these memorable words, which I have already discussed:

    “‘And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek . . . ’” {251b}

In “these memorable words,” every non-Baconian sees Ben’s opinion about
his friend’s lack of scholarship.  According to his own excellent Index,
Mr. Greenwood has already adverted often to “these memorable words.”

(1)  P. 40.  “ . . . if this testimony is to be explained away as not
seriously written, then are we justified in applying the same methods of
interpretation to Jonson’s other utterances as published in the Folio of
1623.  But I shall have more to say as to that further on.”

(2)  P. 88.  Nothing of importance.

(3)  P. 220.  Quotation from Dr. Johnson.  Ben, “who had no imaginable
temptation to falsehood,” wrote the memorable words.  But Mr. Greenwood
has to imagine a “temptation to falsehood,”—and he does.

(4)  P. 222.  “And we have recognised that Jonson’s ‘small Latin and less
Greek’ must be explained away” (a quotation from somebody).

(5)  P. 225.  Allusion to anecdote of “Latin (latten) spoons.”

(6)  Pp. 382, 383.  “Some of us” (some of whom?) “have long looked upon
it as axiomatic . . . that Jonson’s ‘small Latin and less Greek,’ if
meant to be taken seriously, can only be applicable to Shakspere of
Stratford and not to Shakespeare,” that is, not to the Unknown author.
Unluckily Ben, in 1623, is addressing the shade of the “sweet Swan of
Avon,” meaning Stratford-on-Avon.

(7)  The next references in the laudable Index are to pp. 474, 475.
“Then follow these memorable words, which I have already discussed:

    “‘And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,’

words which those who see how singularly inappropriate they are to the
author of the _Plays_ and _Poems_ of Shakespeare have been at such
infinite pains to explain away without impeaching the credit of the
author, or assuming that he is here indulging in a little Socratic

_I_ do not want to “explain” Ben’s words “away”: I want to know how on
earth Mr. Greenwood explains them away.  My view is that Ben meant what
he said, that Will, whose shade he is addressing, was no scholar (which
he assuredly was not).  I diligently search Mr. Greenwood’s scriptures,
asking How does he explain Ben’s “memorable words” away?  On p. 106 of
_The Shakespeare Problem Restated_ I seem to catch a glimmer of his
method.  “Once let the Stratfordians” (every human and non-Baconian
person of education) “admit that Jonson when he penned the words ‘small
Latin and less Greek’ was really writing ‘with his tongue in his cheek.’
. . . ”

Once admit that vulgarism concerning a great English poet engaged on a
poem of Pindaric flight, and of prophetic vision!  No, we leave the
admission to Mr. Greenwood and his allies.

To consider thus is to consider too seriously.  The Baconians and
Anti-Willians have ceased to deserve serious attention (if ever they did
deserve it), and virtuous indignation, and all that kind of thing, when
they ask people who care for poetry to “admit” that Ben wrote his verses
“with his tongue in his cheek.”  Elsewhere, {253a} in place of Ben’s
“tongue in his cheek,” Mr. Greenwood prefers to suggest that Ben “is here
indulging in a little Socratic irony.”  Socrates “with his tongue in his
cheek”!  Say “talking through his throat,” if one may accept the evidence
of the author of _Raffles_, as to the idioms of burglars.

To return to criticism, we are to admit that Jonson was really writing
“with his tongue in his cheek,” knowing that, as a fact, “_Shakespeare_”
(the Great Unknown, the Bacon of the Baconians) “had remarkable classical
attainments, and they, of course, open the door to the suggestion that
the entire poem is capable of an ironical construction and esoteric
interpretation.” {254a}

So this is Mr. Greenwood’s method of “explaining away” the memorable
words.  He seems to conjecture that Will was not _Shakespeare_, not the
author of the plays; that Jonson knew it; that his poem is, as a whole,
addressed to Bacon, or to the Great Unknown, under his “_nom de plume_”
of “William Shakespeare”; that the address to the “Swan of Avon” is a
mere blind; and that Ben only alludes to his “Beloved,” the Stratford
actor, when he tells his Beloved that his Beloved has “small Latin and
less Greek.”  All the praise is for Bacon, or the Great Unknown (Mr.
Harris), the jeer is for “his Beloved, the Author, Mr. William
Shakespeare, And what he hath left Us.”

As far as I presume to understand this theory of the “tongue in the
cheek,” of the “Socratic irony,” this is what Mr. Greenwood has to
propose towards “explaining away” the evidence of Ben Jonson, in his
famous commendatory verses.  When we can see through the dust of words we
find that the “esoteric interpretation” of the commendatory verses is
merely a reassertion of the general theory: a man with small Latin and
less Greek could not have written the plays and poems.  Therefore when
Ben explicitly states that his Beloved, Mr. Shakespeare of Stratford, the
Swan of Avon _did_ write the plays, and had small Latin and less Greek,
Ben meant that he did _not_ write them, that they were written by
somebody else who had plenty of Greek and Latin.  It is a strange logical
method!  Mr. Greenwood merely reasserts his paradox, and proves it, like
certain Biblical critics of more orthodoxy than sense, by aid of his
private “esoteric method of interpretation.”  Ben, we say, about 1630, in
prose and in cold blood, and in a humour of criticism without the old
rancour and envy, or the transitory poetic enthusiasm, pens a note on
Shakespeare in a volume styled “Timber, or Discoveries, made upon men and
Matter, as they have flowed out of his daily Readings; or had their
reflux to his peculiar Notion of the Times.”  Ben died in 1637; his MS.
collection of notes and brief essays, and reflections, was published in
1641.  Bacon, of whom he wrote his impressions in this manuscript, had
died in 1626.  Ben was no longer young: he says, among these notes, that
his memory, once unusually strong, after he was past forty “is much
decayed in me . . .  It was wont to be faithful to me, but shaken with
age now . . .”  (I copy the extract as given by Mr. Greenwood. {255a})
He spoke sooth: he attributes to Orpheus, in “Timber,” a line from Homer,
and quotes from Homer what is not in that poet’s “works.”

In this manuscript occurs, then, a brief prose note, headed, _De
Shakespeare nostrati_, on our countryman Shakespeare.  It is an anecdote
of the Players and their ignorance, with a few critical and personal
remarks on Shakespeare.  “I remember the players have often mentioned it
as an honour to Shakespeare that (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted
out a line.  My answer hath been, ‘Would he had blotted a thousand,’
which they thought a malevolent speech.  I had not told posterity this
but for their ignorance who chose that circumstance to commend their
friend by (that) wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own
candour, for I loved the man, and do honour his memory on this side
idolatry as much as any.  He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free
nature; had an excellent phantasy, brave notions and gentle expressions,
wherein he flowed with that facility that sometimes it was necessary he
should be stopped.  ‘_Sufflaminandus erat_,’ as Augustus said of
Haterius.  His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so
too!  Many times he fell into those things could not escape laughter, as
when he said in the person of Cæsar, one speaking to him, ‘Cæsar, thou
dost me wrong.’  He replied, ‘Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause’;
and such like, which were ridiculous.  But he redeemed his vices with his
virtues.  There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned.”
Baconians actually maintain that Ben is here speaking of Bacon.

Of whom is Ben writing?  Of the author of _Julius Cæsar_,—certainly, from
which, his memory failing, he misquotes a line.  If Ben be in the great
secret—that the author was Bacon, or Mr. Greenwood’s Great Unknown, he is
here no more enthusiastic about the Shadow or the Statesman, than about
Shakespeare; no less cool and critical, whoever may be the subject of his
comments.  Whether, in the commendatory verses, he referred to the
Actor-Author, or Bacon, or the Shining Shadow, or all of them at once, he
is now in a mood very much more cool and critical.  If to be so cool and
critical is violently inconsistent in the case of the Stratford actor, it
is not less so if Ben has Bacon or the Shadow in his mind.  Meanwhile the
person of whom he speaks _is here the actor-author_, whom the players,
his friends, commended “wherein he faulted,” namely, in not “blotting”
where, in a thousand cases, Ben wishes that he _had_ blotted.  Can the
most enthusiastic Baconian believe that when Ben wrote about the players’
ignorant applause of Shakespeare’s, of their friend’s lack of care in
correction, Ben had Bacon in his mind?

As for Mr. Greenwood, he says that in Ben’s sentence about the players
and their ignorant commendation, “we have it on Jonson’s testimony that
the players looked upon William Shakspere the actor as the author of the
plays and praised him for never blotting out a line.”  We have it, and
how is the critic to get over or round the fact?  Thus, “We know that
this statement” (about the almost blotless lines) “is ridiculous; that if
the players had any unblotted manuscripts in their hands (which is by no
means probable) they were merely fair copies . . . ”

Perhaps, but the Baconians appear to assume that a “fair copy” is not,
and cannot be, a copy in the handwriting of the author.

As I have said before, the Players knew Will’s handwriting, if he could
write.  If they received his copy in a hand not his own, and were not
idiots, they could not praise him and his unerring speed and accuracy in
penning his thoughts.  If, on the other hand, Will could not write, in
their long friendship with Will, the Players must have known the fact,
and could not possibly believe, as they certainly did, “on Jonson’s
testimony” in his authorship.

To finish Mr. Greenwood’s observations, “if they” (the players) “really
thought that the author of the plays wrote them off _currente calamo_,
and never” (or “hardly ever”) “blotted a line, never revised, never made
any alterations, they knew nothing whatever concerning the real
Shakespeare.” {258a}

Nothing whatever?  What they did not know was merely that Will gave them
fair copies in his own hand, as, before the typewriting machine was
invented, authors were wont to do.  Within the last fortnight I heard the
error attributed to the players made by an English scholar who is
foremost in his own field of learning.  He and I were looking at some of
Dickens’s MSS.  They were full of erasions and corrections.  I said, “How
unlike Scott!” whose first draft of his novels exactly answered to the
players’ description of Will’s “copy.”  My friend said, “Browning
scarcely made an erasion or change in writing his poems,” and referred to
Mr. Browning’s MSS. for the press, of which examples were lying near us.
“But Browning must have made clean copies for the press,” I said: which
was as new an idea to my learned friend as it was undreamed of by the
Players:—if what they received from him were his clean copies.

The Players’ testimony, through Jonson, cannot be destroyed by the “easy
stratagem” of Mr. Greenwood.

Mr. Greenwood now nearly falls back on Bacon, though he constantly
professes that he “is not the advocate of Bacon’s authorship.”  The
author was some great man, as like Bacon as one pea to another.  Mr.
Greenwood says that Jonson looked on the issue of the First Folio {259a}
“as a very special occasion.”  Well, it _was_ a very special occasion; no
literary occasion could be more “special.”  Without the Folio, badly as
it is executed, we should perhaps never have had many of Shakespeare’s
plays.  The occasion was special in the highest degree.

But, says Mr. Greenwood, “if we could only get to the back of Jonson’s
mind, we should find that there was some efficient cause operating to
induce him to give the best possible send-off to that celebrated
venture.” {260a}

Ben was much in the habit of giving “sendoffs” of great eloquence to
poetic “ventures” now forgotten.  What could “the efficient cause” be in
the case of the Folio?  At once Mr. Greenwood has recourse to Bacon; he
cannot, do what he will, keep Bacon “out of the Memorial.”  Ben was with
Bacon at Gorhambury, on Bacon’s sixtieth birthday (January 22, 1621).
Ben wrote verses about the Genius of the old house,

    “Thou stand’st as if some mystery thou didst.”

“What was that ‘mystery’?” asks Mr. Greenwood. {260b}  What indeed?  And
what has all this to do with Ben’s commendatory verses for the Folio, two
years later?  Mr. Greenwood also surmises, as we have seen, {260c} that
Jonson was with Bacon, helping to translate _The Advancement of Learning_
in June, 1623.

Let us suppose that he was: what has that to do with Ben’s verses for the
Folio?  Does Mr. Greenwood mean to hint that _Bacon_ was the “efficient
cause operating to induce” Ben “to give the best possible send-off” to
the Folio?  One does not see what interest Bacon had in stimulating the
enthusiasm of Ben, unless we accept Bacon as author of the plays, which
Mr. Greenwood does not.  If Mr. Greenwood thinks that Bacon was the
author of the plays, then the facts are suitable to his belief.  But if
he does not,—“I hold no brief for the Baconians,” he says,—how is all
this passage on Ben’s visits to Bacon concerned with the subject in hand?

Between the passage on some “efficient cause” “at the back of Ben’s
mind,” {261a} and the passage on Ben’s visits to Bacon in 1621–3, {261b}
six pages intervene, and blur the supposed connection between the
“efficient cause” of Ben’s verses of 1623, and his visits to Bacon in
1621–3.  These intercalary pages are concerned with Ben’s laudations of
Bacon, by name, in his _Discoveries_.  The first is entirely confined to
praise of Bacon as an orator.  Bacon is next mentioned in a Catalogue of
Writers as “_he who hath filled up all numbers_, and performed that in
our tongue which may be preferred or compared either to _insolent Greece
or haughty Rome_,” words used of Shakespeare by Jonson in the Folio

Mr. Greenwood remarks that Jonson’s Catalogue, to judge by the names he
cites (More, Chaloner, Smith, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Sidney, Hooker, Essex,
Raleigh, Savile, Sandys, and so on), suggests that “he is thinking mainly
of wits and orators of his own and the preceding generation,” not of
poets specially.  This is obvious; why should Ben name Shakespeare with
More, Smith, Chaloner, Eliot, Bishop Gardiner, Egerton, Sandys, and
Savile?  Yet “it is remarkable that no mention should be made of the
great dramatist.”  Where is Spenser named, or Beaumont, or Chaucer, with
whom Ben ranked Shakespeare?  Ben quoted of Bacon the line he wrote long
before of Shakespeare as a poet, about “insolent Greece,” and all this is
“remarkable,” and Mr. Greenwood finds it “not surprising” {262a} that the
Baconians dwell on the “extraordinary coincidence of expression,” as if
Ben were incapable of repeating a happy phrase from himself, and as if we
should wonder at anything the Baconians may say or do.

Another startling coincidence is that, in _Discoveries_, Ben said of
Shakespeare “his wit was in his own power,” and wished that “the rule of
it had been so too.”  Of Bacon, Ben wrote, “his language, where he could
spare or pass by a jest, was nobly censorious.”  Thus Bacon _had_ “the
rule of his own wit,” Bacon “_could_ spare or pass by a jest,” whereas
Shakespeare apparently could not—so like were the two Dromios in this
particular!  Strong in these convincing arguments, the Baconians ask (not
so Mr. Greenwood, he is no Baconian), “were there then _two_ writers of
whom this description was appropriate . . . ?”  Was there only one, and
was it of Bacon, under the name of “Shakespeare,” that Ben wrote _De
Shakespeare nostrati_?

Read it again, substituting “Bacon” for “Shakespeare.”  “I remember the
players,” and so on, and what has Bacon to do here?  “Sometimes it was
necessary that _Bacon_ should be stopped.”  “Many times _Bacon_ fell into
those things could not escape laughter,” such as Cæsar’s supposed line,
“and such like, which were ridiculous.”  “_Bacon_ redeemed his vices with
his virtues.  There was ever more in _Bacon_ to be praised than to be

Thus freely, according to the Baconians, speaks Ben of Bacon, whom he
here styles “Shakespeare,”—Heaven knows why! while crediting him with the
players as his friends.  Ben could not think or speak thus of Bacon.  Mr.
Greenwood occupies his space with these sagacities of the Baconians; one
marvels why he takes the trouble.  We are asked why Ben wrote so little
and that so cool (“I loved him on this side idolatry as much as any”)
about Shakespeare.  Read through Ben’s _Discoveries_: what has he to say
about any one of his great contemporary dramatists, from Marlowe to
Beaumont?  He says nothing about any of them; though he had panegyrised
them, as he panegyrised Beaumont, in verse.  In his prose _Discoveries_
he speaks, among English dramatists, of Shakespeare alone.

We are also asked by the Baconians to believe that his remarks on Bacon
under the name of Shakespeare are really an addition to his more copious
and infinitely more reverential observations on Bacon, named by his own
name; “I have and do reverence him for the greatness that was only proper
to himself.”  Also (where Bacon is spoken of as Shakespeare) “He redeemed
his vices by his virtues.  There was ever more in him to be praised than
to be pardoned . . . Sometimes it was necessary that he should be stopped
. . . Many times he fell into those things that could not escape

These two views of Bacon are, if you like, incongruous.  The person
spoken of is in both cases Bacon, say the Baconians, and Mr. Greenwood
sympathetically alludes to their ideas, {264a} which I cannot qualify in
courteous terms.  Baconians “would, of course, explain the difficulty by
saying that however sphinx-like were Jonson’s utterances, he had clearly
distinct in his own mind two different personages, viz. Shakspere the
player, and Shakespeare the real author of the plays and poems, and that
if in the perplexing passage quoted from the _Discoveries_ he appears to
confound one with the other, it is because the solemn seal of secrecy had
been imposed on him.”  They _would_ say, they _do_ say all that.  Ben is
not to let out that Bacon is the author.  So he tells us of Bacon that he
often made himself ridiculous, and so forth,—but he _pretends_ that he is
speaking of Shakespeare.

All this wedge of wisdom, remember, is inserted between the search for
“the efficient cause” of Ben’s panegyric (1623), in the Folio, on his
Beloved Mr. William Shakespeare, and the discovery of Ben’s visits to
Bacon in 1621–3.

Does Mr. Greenwood mean that Ben, in 1623 (or earlier), knew the secret
of Bacon’s authorship, and, stimulated by his hospitality, applauded his
works in the Folio, while, as he must not disclose the secret, he
throughout speaks of Bacon as Shakespeare, puns on that name in the line
about seeming “to shake a lance,” and salutes the Lord of Gorhambury as
“Sweet Swan of Avon”?  Mr. Greenwood cannot mean that; for he is not a
Baconian.  What _does_ he mean?

Put together his pages 483, 489–491.  On the former we find how “it would
appear” that Jonson thought the issue of the Folio (1623) “a very special
occasion,” and that perhaps if we could only “get to the back of his
mind, we should find that there was some efficient cause operating to
induce him to give the best possible send-off to that celebrated
venture.”  Then skip to pp. 489–491, and you find very special occasions:
Bacon’s birthday feast with its “mystery”; Ben as one of Bacon’s “good
pens,” in 1623.  “The best of these good pens, it seems, was Jonson.”
{266a}  On what evidence does it “seem”?  The opinion of Judge Webb.

Is this supposed collaboration with Bacon in 1623, “the efficient cause
operating to induce” Ben “to give the best possible send-off” to the
Folio?  How could this be the “efficient cause” if Bacon were not the
author of the plays?

Mr. Greenwood, like the Genius at the birthday supper,

    “Stands as if some mystery he did.”

On a trifling point of honour, namely, as to whether Ben were a man
likely to lie, tortuously, hypocritically, to be elaborately false about
the authorship of the Shakespearean plays, it is hopelessly impossible to
bring the Baconians and Mr. Greenwood (who “holds no brief for the
Baconians”) to my point of view.  Mr. Greenwood rides off thus—what the
Baconians do is unimportant.

“There are, as everybody knows, many falsehoods that are justifiable,
some that it is actually a duty to tell.”  It may be so; I pray that I
may never tell any of them (or any more of them).

Among justifiable lies I do not reckon that of Scott if ever he plumply
denied that he wrote the _Waverley_ novels.  I do not judge Sir Walter.
Heaven forbid!  But if, in Mr. Greenwood’s words, he, “we are told,
thought it perfectly justifiable for a writer who wished to preserve his
anonymity, to deny, when questioned, the authorship of a work, since the
interrogator had no right to put such a question to him,” {267a} I
disagree with Sir Walter.  Many other measures, in accordance with the
conditions of each case, were open to him.  Some are formulated by his
own Bucklaw, in _The Bride of Lammermoor_, as regards questions about
what occurred on his bridal night.  Bucklaw would challenge the man, and
cut the lady, who asked questions.  But Scott’s case, as cited, applies
only to Bacon (or Mr. Greenwood’s Unknown), if _he_ were asked whether or
not he were the author of the plays.  No idiot, at that date, was likely
to put the question!  But, if anyone did ask, Bacon must either evade, or
deny, or tell the truth.

On the parallel of Scott, Bacon could thus deny, evade, or tell the
truth.  But the parallel of Scott is not applicable to any other person
except to the author who wishes to preserve his anonymity, and is
questioned.  The parallel does not apply to Ben.  _He_ had not written
the Shakespearean plays.  Nobody was asking _him_ if he had written them.
If he knew that the author was Bacon, and knew it under pledge of
secrecy, and was asked (_per impossibile_) “Who wrote these plays?” he
had only to say, “Look at the title-page.”  But no mortal was asking Ben
the question.  But we are to suppose that, in the panegyric and in
_Discoveries_, Ben chooses to assert, first, that Shakespeare was his
Beloved, his Sweet Swan of Avon; and that he “loved him, on this side
idolatry, as much as any.”  There is no evidence that he did love
Shakespeare, except his own statement, when, according to the Baconians,
he is really speaking of Bacon, and, according to Mr. Greenwood, of an
unknown person, singularly like Bacon.  Consequently, unless we can prove
that Ben really loved the actor, he is telling a disgustingly
hypocritical and wholly needless falsehood, both before and after the
death of Bacon.  To be silent about the authorship of a book, an
authorship which is the secret of your friend and patron, is one thing
and a blameless thing.  All the friends, some twenty, to whom Scott
confided the secret of his authorship were silent.  But not one of them
publicly averred that the author was their very dear friend, So-and-so,
who was not Scott, and perhaps not their friend at all.  That was Ben’s
line.  Thus the parallel with Scott drawn by Mr. Greenwood, twice, {268a}
is no parallel.  It has no kind of analogy with Ben’s alleged falsehoods,
so elaborate, so incomprehensible except by Baconians, and, if he did not
love the actor Shakspere dearly, so detestably hypocritical, and open to
instant detection.

It is not easy to find a parallel to the conduct with which Ben is
charged.  But suppose that Scott lived unsuspected of writing his novels,
which, let us say, he signed “James Hogg,” and died without confessing
his secret, and without taking his elaborate precautions for its
preservation on record.

Next, imagine that Lockhart knew Scott’s secret, under vow of silence,
and was determined to keep it at any cost.  He therefore, writing after
the death of Hogg of Ettrick, and in Scott’s lifetime, publishes verses
declaring that Hogg was his “beloved” (an enormous fib), and that Hogg,
“Sweet Swan of Ettrick,” was the author of the _Waverley_ novels.

To complete the parallels, Lockhart, after Scott’s death, leaves a note
in prose to the effect that, while he loved Hogg on this side idolatry
(again, a monstrous fable), he must confess that Hogg, author of the
_Waverley_ novels, often fell into things that were ridiculous; and often
needed to have a stopper put on him for all these remarks.  Lockhart,
while speaking of Hogg, is thinking of Scott—and he makes the remarks
solely to conceal Scott’s authorship of the novels—of which, on the
hypothesis, nobody suspected Scott to be the author.  Lockhart must then
have been what the Baconian Mr. Theobald calls Mr. Churton Collins, “a
measureless liar,”—all for no reason.

Mr. Greenwood, starting as usual from the case, which is no parallel, of
Scott’s denying his own authorship, goes on, “for all we know, Jonson
might have seen nothing in the least objectionable in the publication by
some great personage of his dramatic works under a pseudonym” (under
another man’s name really), “even though that pseudonym led to a wrong
conception as to the authorship; and that, if, being a friend of that
great personage, and working in his service” (Ben worked, by the theory,
in Bacon’s), “he had solemnly engaged to preserve the secret inviolate,
and not to reveal it even to posterity, then _doubtless_ (‘I thank thee,
Jew’ (meaning Sir Sidney Lee), ‘for teaching me that word’!) he would
have remained true to that solemn pledge.” {270a}

To remain “true,” Ben had only to hold his peace.  But he lied up and
down, and right and left, and even declared that Bacon was a friend of
the players, and needed to be shut up, and made himself a laughing-stock
in his plays,—styling Bacon “Shakespeare.”  All this, and much more of
the same sort, we must steadfastly believe before we can be Baconians,
for only by believing these doctrines can we get rid of Ben Jonson’s
testimony to the authorship of Will Shakspere, Gent.


LET us now examine a miracle and mystery in which the Baconians find
nothing strange; nothing that is not perfectly normal.  Bacon was the
author of the Shakespearean plays, they tell us.  Let us look rapidly at
his biography, after which we may ask, does not his poetic supremacy, and
imaginative fertility, border on the miraculous, when we consider his
occupations and his ruling passion?

Bacon, born in 1561, had a prodigious genius, was well aware of it, and
had his own ideal as to the task which he was born to do.  While still at
Cambridge, and therefore before he was fifteen, he was utterly
dissatisfied, as he himself informed Dr. Rawley, with the scientific
doctrines of the Schools.  In the study of nature they reasoned from
certain accepted ideas, _a priori_ principles, not from what he came to
call “interrogation of Nature.”  There were, indeed, and had long been
experimental philosophers, but the school doctors went not beyond
Aristotle; and discovered nothing.  As Mr. Spedding puts it, the boy
Bacon asked himself, “If our study of nature be thus barren, our method
of study must be wrong; might not a better method be found? . . .  Upon
the conviction ‘This may be done,’ followed at once the question, _How_
may it be done?  Upon that question answered followed the resolution to
try and do it.”

This was, in religious phrase, the Conversion of Bacon, “the event which
had a greater influence than any other upon his character and future
course.  From that moment he had a vocation which employed and stimulated
him . . . an object to live for as wide as humanity, as immortal as the
human race; an idea to live in vast and lofty enough to fill the soul for
ever with religious and heroic aspirations.” {274a}  The vocation, the
idea, the object, were not poetical.

In addition to this ceaseless scientific preoccupation, Bacon was much
concerned with the cause of reformed religion (then at stake in France,
and supposed to be in danger at home), and with the good government of
his native country.  He could only aid that cause by the favour of
Elizabeth and James; by his services in Parliament, where, despite his
desire for advancement, he conscientiously opposed the Queen.  He was
obliged to work at such tasks of various sorts, legal and polemical
literature, as were set him by people in power.  With these three great
objects filling his heart, inspiring his ambition, and occupying his
energies and time, we cannot easily believe, without direct external
evidence, that he, or any mortal, could have leisure and detachment from
his main objects (to which we may add his own advancement) sufficient to
enable him to compose the works ascribed to Shakespeare.

Thus, at the age of twenty-two (1583), when, if ever, he might have
penned sonnets to his mistress’s eyebrow, he reports that he wrote “his
first essay on the Instauration of Philosophy, which he called _Temporis
Partus Maximus_, ‘The Greatest Birth of Time,’” and “we need not doubt
that between Law and Philosophy he found enough to do.” {275a}  For the
Baconians take Bacon to have been a very great lawyer (of which I am no
judge), and Law is a hard mistress, rapacious of a man’s hours.  In 1584
he entered Parliament, but we do not hear anything very important of his
occupations before 1589, when he wrote a long pamphlet, “Touching the
Controversies of the Church of England.” {275b}  He had then leisure
enough; that he was not anonymously supplying the stage with plays I can
neither prove nor disprove: but there is no proof that he wrote _Love’s
Labour’s Lost_!  By 1591–2, we learn much of him from his letter to
Cecil, who never would give him a place wherein he could meditate his
philosophy.  He was apparently hard at scientific work.  “I account my
ordinary course of study and meditation to be more painful than most
parts of action are.”  He adds, “The contemplative planet carries me away
wholly,” and by contemplation I conceive him to mean what he calls “vast
contemplative ends.”  These he proceeds to describe: he does _not_ mean
the writing of _Venus and Adonis_ (1593), nor of _Lucrece_ (1594), nor of
comedies!  “I have taken all knowledge to be my province,” and he recurs
to his protest against the pseudo-science of his period.  “If I could
purge knowledge of two sorts of rovers whereof the one, with frivolous
disputations, confutations, and verbosities; the other with blind
experiments, and auricular traditions and impostures, hath committed so
many spoils, I hope I should bring in industrious observations, grounded
conclusions, and profitable inventions and discoveries . . . This,
whether it be curiosity, or vainglory, or nature, or (if one take it
favourably) philanthropy, is so fixed in my mind that it cannot be
removed.”  If Cecil cannot help him to a post, if he cannot serve the
truth, he will reduce himself, like Anaxagoras, to voluntary poverty, “ . . .
and become some sorry bookmaker, or a true pioneer in that mine of
truth . . . ” {276a}  Really, from first to last he was the prince of
begging-letter writers, endlessly asking for place, pensions, reversions,
money, and more money.

Though his years were thirty-one, Bacon was as young at heart as Shelley
at eighteen, when he wrote thus to Cecil, “my Lord Treasurer Burghley.”
What did Cecil care for his youngish kinsman’s philanthropy, and “vast
speculative ends” (how _modern_ it all is!), and the rest of it?  But
just because Bacon, at thirty-one, _is_ so extremely “green,” going to
“take all knowledge for his province” (if some one will only subsidise
him, and endow his research), I conceive that he was in earnest about his
reformation of science.  Surely no Baconian will deny it!  Being so
deeply in earnest, taking his “study and meditation” so hard, I cannot
see him as the author of _Venus and Adonis_, and whatever plays of the
period,—say, _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, _The Two Gentlemen of Verona_,
_Henry VI_, Part I,—are attributed to him, about this time, by Baconians.
Of course my view is merely personal or “subjective.”  The Baconians’
view is also “subjective.”  I regard Bacon, in 1591, and later, as
intellectually preoccupied by his vast speculative aims:—what he says
that he desires to do, in science, is what he _did_, as far as he was
able.  His other desires, his personal advancement, money, a share in the
conduct of affairs, he also hotly pursued, not much to his own or the
public profit.  There seems to be no room left, no inclination left, for
competition in their own line with Marlowe, Greene, Nash, and half a
dozen other professed playwrights: no room for plays done under the
absurd pseudonym of an ignorant actor.

You see these things as the Baconians do, or as I do.  Argument is
unavailing.  I take Bacon to have been sincere in his effusive letter to
Cecil.  Not so the Baconians; he concealed, they think, a vast _literary_
aim.  They must take his alternative—to be “some sorry bookmaker, _or_ a
pioneer in that mine of truth,” as meaning that he would either be the
literary hack of a company of players, _or_ the founder of a regenerating
philosophy.  But, at that date, playwrights could not well be called
“bookmakers,” for the owners of the plays did their best to keep them
from appearing as printed books.  If Bacon by “bookmaker” meant
“playwright,” he put a modest value on his poetical work!

Meanwhile (1591–2), Bacon attached himself to the young, beautiful, and
famous Essex, on the way to be a Favourite, and gave him much excellent
advice, as he always did, and, as always, his advice was not taken.  It
is not a novel suggestion, that Essex is the young man to whom Bacon is
so passionately attached in the Sonnets traditionally attributed to
Shakespeare.  “I applied myself to him” (that is, to Essex), says Bacon,
“in a manner which, I think, happeneth rarely among men.”  The poet of
the Sonnets applies himself to the Beloved Youth, in a manner which
(luckily) “happeneth rarely among men.”

It is difficult to fit the Sonnets into Bacon’s life.  But, if you pursue
the context of what Bacon says concerning Essex, you find that he does
not speak _openly_ of a tenderly passionate attachment to that young man;
not more than _this_, “I did nothing but advise and ruminate with myself,
to the best of my understanding, propositions and memorials of anything
that might concern his Lordship’s honour, fortune, or service.” {279a}
As Bacon did nothing but these things (1591–2), he had no great leisure
for writing poetry and plays.  Moreover, speaking as a poet, in the
Sonnets, he might poetically exaggerate his intense amatory devotion to
Essex into the symbolism of his passionate verse.  _Was Essex then a
married man_?  If so, the Sonneteer’s insistence on his marrying must be
symbolical of—anything else you please.

We know that Bacon, at this period, “did nothing” but “ruminate” about
Essex.  The words are his own! (1604).  No plays, no _Venus and Adonis_,
nothing but enthusiastic service of Essex and the Sonnets.  Mr. Spedding,
indeed, thinks that, to adorn some pageant of Essex (November 17, 1592),
Bacon kindly contributed such matter as “Mr. Bacon in Praise of
Knowledge” (containing his usual views about regenerating science), and
“Mr. Bacon’s Discourse in Praise of his Sovereign.” {279b}  Both are
excellent, though, for a Court festival, not very gay.

He also, very early in 1593, wrote an answer to Father Parson’s (?)
famous indictment of Elizabeth’s Government, in _Observations on a
Libel_. {280a}  What with ruminating on Essex, and this essay, he was not
solely devoted to _Venus and Adonis_ and to furbishing-up old plays,
though, no doubt, he _may_ have unpacked his bosom in the Sonnets, and
indulged his luscious imaginations in _Venus and Adonis_.  I would not
limit the potentialities of his genius.  But, certainly, this amazing man
was busy in quite other matters than poetry; not to mention his severe
“study and meditation” on science.

All these activities of Bacon, in the year of _Venus and Adonis_, do not
exhaust his exercises.  Bacon, living laborious days, plunged into the
debate in the Commons on Supply and fell into Elizabeth’s disgrace, and
vainly competed with Coke for the Attorney-Generalship, and went on to
write a pamphlet on the conspiracy of Lopez, and to try to gain the
office of Solicitor-General, to manage Essex’s affairs, to plead at the
Bar, to do Crown work as a lawyer, to urge his suit for the
Solicitorship; to trifle with the composition of “Formularies and
Elegancies” (January 1595), to write his Essays, to try for the
Mastership of the Rolls, to struggle with the affairs of the doomed Essex
(1600–1), while always “labouring in secret” at that vast aim of the
reorganisation of natural science, which ever preoccupied him, he says,
and distracted his attention from his practice and from affairs of State.
{281a}  Of these State affairs the projected Union with Scotland was the
most onerous.  He was also writing _The Advancement of Learning_ (1605).
“I do confess,” he wrote to Sir Thomas Bodley, “since I was of any
understanding, my mind hath in effect been absent from that I have done.”
{281b}  His mind was with his beloved Reformation of Learning: this came
between him and his legal, his political labours, his pamphlet-writing,
and his private schemes and suits.  To this burden of Atlas the Baconians
add the vamping-up of old plays for Shakespeare’s company, and the
inditing of new plays, poems, and the Sonnets.  Even without this
considerable addition to his tasks, Bacon is wonderful enough, but with
it—he needs the sturdy faith of the Rationalist to accept him and his
plot—to write plays under the pseudonym of “William Shakespeare.”

Talk of miracles as things which do not happen!  The activities of Bacon
from 1591 to 1605; the strain on that man’s mind and heart,—especially
his heart, when we remember that he had to prosecute his passionately
adored Essex to the death; all this makes it seem, to me, improbable
that, as Mrs. Pott and her school of Baconians hold, he lived to be at
least a hundred and six, if not much older.  No wonder that he turned to
tragedy, _Lear_, _Macbeth_, _Othello_, and saw life _en noir_: man
delighted him not, nor woman either.

The occupations, and, even more, the scientific preoccupation of Bacon,
do not make his authorship of the plays a physical impossibility.  But
they make it an intellectual miracle.  Perhaps I may be allowed to set
off this marvel against that other portent, Will Shakspere’s knowledge
and frequent use of terms of Law. {282a}  I do not pretend to understand
how Will came to have them at the tip of his pen.  Thus it may be argued
that the Sonnets are by Bacon and no other man, because the Law is so
familiar to the author, and his legal terms are always used with so nice
an accuracy, that only Bacon can have been capable of these mysterious
productions.  (But why was Bacon so wofully inaccurate in points of
scholarship and history?)

By precisely the same argument Lord Penzance proves that Bacon (not Ben,
as Mr. Greenwood holds) wrote for the players the Dedication of the
Folio. {282b}  “If it should be the case that Francis Bacon wrote the
plays, he would, probably, afterwards have written the Dedication of the
Folio, and the style of it” (stuffed with terms of law) “would be
accounted for.”  Mr. Greenwood thinks that Jonson wrote the Dedication;
so Ben, too, was fond of using legal terms in literature.  “Legal terms
abounded in all plays and poems of the period,” says Sir Sidney Lee, and
Mr. Greenwood pounces on the word “all.” {283a}  However he says, “We
must admit that this use of legal jargon is frequently found in
lay-writers, poets, and others of the Elizabethan period—in sonnets for
example, where it seems to us intolerable.”  Examples are given from
Barnabe Barnes. {283b}  The lawyers all agree, however, that Shakespeare
does the legal style “more natural,” and more accurately than the rest.
And yet I cannot even argue that, if he did use legal terms at all, he
would be sure to do it pretty well.

For on this point of Will’s use of legal phraseology I frankly profess
myself entirely at a loss.  To use it in poetry was part of the worse
side of taste at that period.  The lawyers with one voice declare that
Will’s use of it is copious and correct, and that their “mystery” is
difficult, their jargon hard to master; “there is nothing so dangerous,”
wrote Lord Campbell, “as for one not of the craft to tamper with our
freemasonry.”  I have not tampered with it.  Perhaps a man of genius who
found it interesting might have learned the technical terms more readily
than lawyers deem possible.  But Will, so accurate in his legal terms, is
so inaccurate on many other points; for example, in civil and natural
history, and in classic lore.  Mr. Greenwood proves him to be totally at
sea as a naturalist.  On the habits of bees, for example, “his natural
history of the insect is as limited as it is inaccurate.” {284a}  Virgil,
though not a Lord Avebury, was a great entomologist, compared with Will.
About the cuckoo Will was recklessly misinformed.  His Natural History
was folklore, or was taken from that great mediæval storehouse of
absurdities, the popular work of Pliny.  “He went to contemporary error
or antiquated fancy for his facts, not to nature,” says a critic quoted
by Mr. Greenwood. {284b}  Was that worthy of Bacon?

All these charges against _le vieux Williams_ (as Théophile Gautier calls
our Will) I admit.  But Will was no Bacon; Will had not “taken all
knowledge for his province.”  Bacon, I hope, had not neglected Bees!
Thus the problem, why is Will accurate in his legal terminology, and
reckless of accuracy in quantity, in history, in classic matters, is not
by me to be solved.  I can only surmise that from curiosity, or for some
other unknown reason, he had read law-books, or drawn information from
Templars about the meaning of their jargon, and that, for once, he was
technically accurate.

                                * * * * *

We have now passed in review the chief Baconian and Anti-Willian
arguments against Will Shakespeare’s authorship of the plays and poems.
Their chief argument for Bacon is _aut Diabolus_, _aut Franciscus_,
which, freely interpreted, means, “If Bacon is not the author, who the
devil is?”

We reply, that man is the author (in the main) to whom the works are
attributed by every voice of his own generation which mentions them,
namely, the only William Shakespeare that, from 1593 to the early years
of the second decade of the following century, held a prominent place in
the world of the drama.  His authorship is explicitly vouched for by his
fellow-players, Heminge and Condell, to whom he left bequests in his
will; and by his sometime rival, later friend, and always critic, Ben
Jonson; Heywood, player and playwright and pamphleteer, who had been one
of Henslowe’s “hands,” and lived into the Great Rebellion, knew the stage
and authors for the stage from within, and _his_ “mellifluous
Shakespeare” is “Will,” as his Beaumont was “Frank,” his Marlowe “Kit,”
his Fletcher, “Jack.”  The author of _Daiphantus_ (1604), mentioning the
popularity of _Hamlet_, styles it “one of friendly Shakespeare’s
tragedies.”  Shakespeare, to him, was our Will clearly, a man of known
and friendly character.  The other authors of allusions did not need to
say _who_ their “Shakespeare” was, any more than they needed to say _who_
Marlowe or any other poet was.  We have examined the possibly
unprecedented argument which demands that they who mention Shakespeare as
the poet must, if they would enlighten us, add explicitly that he is also
the actor.

“But all may have been deceived” by the long conspiracy of the astute
Bacon, or the Nameless One.  To believe this possible, considering the
eager and suspicious jealousy and volubility of rival playwrights, is to
be credulous indeed.  The Baconians, representing Will almost as
incapable of the use of pen and ink as “the old hermit of Prague,”
destroy their own case.  A Will who had to make his mark, like his
father, could not pose as an author even to the call-boy of his company.
Mr. Greenwood’s bookless Will, with some crumbs of Latin, and some power
of “bumbasting out a blank verse,” is a rather less impossible pretender,
indeed; but why and when did the speaker of patois, the bookless one,
write blank verse, from 1592 onwards, and where are his blank verses?
Where are the “works” of Poet-Ape?  As to the man, even Will by
tradition, whatever it may be worth, he was “a handsome, well-shaped man;
very good company, and of a very ready and pleasant, smooth wit.”  To his
fellow-actors he was “so worthy a friend and fellow” (associate).  To
Jonson, “he was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature; had an
excellent phantasy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein he
flowed so freely that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped.”
If Jonson here refers, as I suppose he does, to his conversation, it had
that extraordinary affluence of thoughts, each mating itself with as
remarkable originality of richly figured expressions, which is so
characteristic of the style of Shakespeare’s plays.  In this prodigality
he was remote indeed from the style of the Greeks; “panting Time toils
after him in vain,” and even the reader, much more the listener, might
say, _sufflaminandus est_; “he needs to have the brake put on.” {287a}

Such, according to unimpeachable evidence, was Will.  Only despair can
venture the sad suggestion that, under the name of Shakespeare, Ben is
here speaking of Bacon, as “falling into those things which could not
escape laughter . . . which were ridiculous.”  But to this last poor
shift and fantastic guess were the Anti-Willians and Baconians reduced.

Such was Shakespeare, according to a rival.

But it is “impossible” that a man should have known so much, especially
of classical literature and courtly ways, and foreign manners and
phrases, if he had no more, at most, than four or five years at a Latin
school, and five or six years in that forcing-house of faculty, the
London of the stage, in the flush of the triumph over the Armada.

“With innumerable sorts of English books and infinite fardles of printed
pamphlets this country is pestered, all shops stuffed, and every study
furnished,” says a contemporary. {288a}  If a doubter will look at the
cheap and common books of that day (a play in quarto, and the Sonnets of
Shakespeare, when new, were sold for fippence) in any great collection;
he will not marvel that to a lover of books, poor as he might be, many
were accessible.  Such a man cannot be kept from books.

If the reader will look into “the translations and imitations of the
classics which poured from the press . . . the poems and love-pamphlets
and plays of the University wits” (when these chanced to be printed),
“the tracts and dialogues in the prevailing taste,” {288b} he will
understand the literary soil in which the genius of Shakespeare blossomed
as rapidly as the flowers in “Adonis’ garden.”  The whole literature was,
to an extent which we find tedious, saturated with classical myths,
anecdotes, philosophic _dicta_—a world of knowledge of a kind then “in
widest commonalty spread,” but now so much forgotten that, to Baconians
and the public, such lore seems recondite learning.

The gallants who haunted the stage, and such University wits as could get
the money, or had talent (like Crichton) to “dispute their way through
Europe,” made the Italian tour, and, notoriously, were “Italianate.”
They would not be chary of reminiscences of Florence, Venice, and Rome.
Actors visited Denmark and Germany.  No man at home was far to seek for
knowledge of Elsinore, the mysterious Venetian “tranect or common ferry,”
the gondolas, and the Rialto.  There was no lack of soldiers fresh and
voluble from the foreign wars.  Only dullards, or the unthinking, can be
surprised by the ease with which a quick-witted man, having some
knowledge of Latin, can learn to read a novel in French, Italian, or
Spanish.  That Shakespeare was the very reverse of a dullard, of the clod
of Baconian fancy, is proved by the fact that he was thought capable of
his works.  For courtly manners he had the literary convention and Lyly’s
Court Comedies, with what he saw when playing at the Court and in the
houses of the great.  As to untaught nobility of manners, there came to
the Court of France in 1429, from a small pig-breeding village on the
marches of Lorraine, one whose manners were deemed of exquisite grace,
propriety, and charm, by all who saw and heard her: of her manners and
swift wit and repartee, the official record of her trial bears concordant
evidence.  Other untaught gifts she possessed, and the historic record is
unimpeached as regards that child of genius, Jeanne d’Arc.

“_Ne me dites jamais cette bête de mot_, _impossible_,” said Napoleon: it
is indeed a stupid word where genius is concerned.

If intellectual “miracles” were impossible to genius, even Bacon could
not have been and done all that he was and did, and also the author of
the Shakespearean plays and poems; even Ben could not have been the
scholar that he was.  For the rest, I need not return on my tracks and
explain once more such shallow mysteries as the “Silence of Philip
Henslowe,” and the lack of literary anecdotage about Shakespeare in a
stupendously illiterate country town.  Had Will, not Ben, visited
Drummond of Hawthornden, we should have matter enough of the kind

“We have the epics of Homer,” people say, “what matters it whether they
be by a Man, or by a Syndicate that was in business through seven
centuries?  We have the plays of Shakespeare, what matters it whether he,
or Bacon, or X. were, in the main, the author?”

It matters to us, if we hold such doubts to be fantastic pedantries, such
guesses contrary to the nature of things; while we wish to give love and
praise and gratitude where they are due; to that Achæan “Father of the
rest”; and to “friendly Shakespeare.”



TO myself _Troilus and Cressida_ is, with _Henry VI_, Part I, the most
mysterious among the Shakespearean plays.  Here we find, if Will wrote
it, or had any hand in it, the greatest poet of the modern world in touch
with the heroes of the greatest poet of the ancient world; but the
English author’s eyes are dimmed by the mists and dust of post-Homeric
perversions of the Tale of Troy.  The work of perversion began, we know,
in the eighth century before our era, when, by the author of the
_Cypria_, these favourite heroes of Homer, Odysseus and Diomede, were
represented as scoundrels, assassins, and cowards.

In the Prologue to the play (whosoever wrote it) we see that the writer
is no scholar.  He makes the Achæan fleet muster in “the port of
_Athens_,” of all places.  Even Ovid gave the Homeric trysting-place,
Aulis, in Bœotia.  (This Prologue is not in the Folio of 1623.)  Six
gates hath the Englishman’s Troy, and the Scæan is not one of them.

The loves of Troilus and Cressida, with Pandarus as go-between, are from
the mediæval Troy books, and were wholly unknown to Homer, whose Pandarus
is only notable for loosing a traitor’s shaft at Menelaus, in time of
truce, and for his death at the hand of Diomede.  The play begins after
the duel (Iliad, III) between Paris and Menelaus: in the play, not in
Homer, Paris “retires hurt,” as is at first reported.  Hector has a
special grudge against the Telamonian Aias.  As in the Iliad there is a
view of the Achæans, taken from the walls by Priam and Helen; so, in the
play, Pandarus and Cressida review the Trojans re-entering the city.
Paris turns out not to be hurt after all.

In Act i. Scene 3, the Achæans hold council, and regret the disaffection
of Achilles.  Here comes Ulysses’ great speech on discipline, in armies,
and in states, the gradations of rank and duty; commonly thought to be a
leaf in Shakespeare’s crown of bays.  The speeches of Agamemnon and
Nestor are dignified; indeed the poet treats Agamemnon much more kindly
than Homer is wont to do.  But the poet represents Achilles as laughing
in his quarters at Patroclus’s imitation of the cough and other
infirmities of old Nestor, to which Homer, naturally, never alludes.
Throughout, the English poet regards Achilles with the eyes of his most
infamous late Greek and ignorant mediæval detractors.  The Homeric
sequence of events is so far preserved that, on the day of the duel
between Paris and Menelaus, comes (through Æneas) the challenge by Hector
to fight any Greek in “gentle and joyous passage of arms” (Iliad, VII).
As in the Iliad, the Greeks decide by lot who is to oppose Hector; but by
the contrivance of Odysseus (not by chance, as in Homer) the lot falls on
Aias.  In the Iliad Aias is as strong and sympathetic as Porthos in _Les
Trois Mousquetaires_.  The play makes him as great an eater of beef, and
as stupid as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.  Achilles, save in a passage quite out
of accord with the rest of the piece, is nearly as dull as Aias, is
discourteous, and is cowardly!  No poet and no scholar who knew Homer’s
heroes in Homer’s Greek, could thus degrade them; and the whole of the
revilings of Thersites are loathsome in their profusion of filthy
thoughts.  It does not follow that Will did not write the part of
Thersites.  Some of the most beautiful and Shakespearean pieces of verse
adorn the play; one would say that no man but Will could have written
them.  Troilus and Cressida, at first, appear “to dally with the
innocence of love”; and nothing can be nobler and more dramatic than the
lines in which Cressida, compelled to go to her father, Calchas, in the
Greek camp, in exchange for Antenor, professes her loyalty in love.  But
the Homeric and the alien later elements,—the story of false love,—cannot
be successfully combined.  The poet, whoever he was, appears to weary and
to break down.  He ends, indeed, as the Iliad ends, with the death of
Hector, but Hector, in the play, is murdered, while resting unarmed,
without shield and helmet, after stripping a suit of sumptuous mail from
a nameless runaway.  In the play he has slain Patroclus, but has not
stripped him of the armour of Achilles, which, in Homer, he is wearing.
Achilles then meets Hector, but far from rushing to avenge on him
Patroclus, he retires like a coward, musters his men, and makes them
surround and slay the defenceless Hector.

Cressida, who is sent to her father Calchas, in the Greek camp, in a day
becomes “the sluttish spoil of opportunity,” and of Diomede, and the
comedy praised by the preface-writer of a quarto of 1609, is a squalid
tragedy reeking of Thersites and Pandarus, of a light o’ love, and the
base victory of cruel cowardice over knightly Hector.  Yet there seemed
to be muffled notes from the music, and broken lights from the splendour
of Homer.  When Achilles eyes Hector all over, during a truce, and
insultingly says that he is thinking in what part of his body he shall
drive the spear, we are reminded of Iliad, XXII, 320–326, where Achilles
searches his own armour, worn by Patroclus, stripped by Hector from him,
and worn by Hector, for a chink in the mail.  Yet, after all, these
points are taken, not from the Iliad, but from Caxton’s popular Troy

Once more, when Hector is dead, and Achilles bids his men to

       “cry amain,
    Achilles hath the mighty Hector slain,”

we think of Iliad, XXII, 390–393, where Achilles commands the Myrmidons
to go singing the pæan

    “Glory have we won, we have slain great Hector!”

The sumptuous armour stripped by Hector from a nameless man, recalls his
winning of the arms of Achilles from Patroclus.  But, in fact, this
passage is also borrowed, with the murder of Hector, from Caxton, except
as regards the pæan.

It may be worth noting that Chapman’s first instalment of his translation
of the Iliad, containing Books I, II, and VII–XI, appeared in 1598, and
thence the author could adapt the passages from Iliad, Book VII.  In or
about 1598–9 occurred, in _Histriomastix_, by Marston and others, a
burlesque speech in which Troilus, addressing Cressida, speaks of “thy
knight,” who “_Shakes_ his furious _Speare_,” while in April 1599,
Henslowe’s account-book contains entries of money paid to Dekker and
Chettle for a play on Troilus and Cressida, for the Earl of Nottingham’s
Company. {297a}  Of this play no more is known, nor can we be sure that
Chapman’s seven Books of the Iliad (I, II, VII–XI) of 1598 attracted the
attention of playwrights, from Shakespeare to Chettle and Dekker, to
Trojan affairs.  The coincidences at least are curious.  If “_Shakes_ his
furious _Speare_” in _Histriomastix_ refers to Shakespeare in connection
with Cressida, while, in 1599, Dekker and Chettle were doing a _Troilus
and Cressida_ for a company not Shakespeare’s, then there were _two
Troilus and Cressida_ in the field.  A licence to print a _Troilus and
Cressida_ was obtained in 1602–3, but the quarto of our play, the
Shakespearean play, is of 1609, “as it is acted by my Lord Chamberlain’s
men,” that is, by Shakespeare’s Company.  Now Dekker and Chettle wrote,
apparently, for Lord Nottingham’s Company.  One quarto of 1609 declares,
in a Preface, that the play has “never been staled with the stage”;
another edition of the same year, from the same publishers, has not the
Preface, but declares that the piece “was acted by the King’s Majesty’s
servants _at the Globe_.” {298a}  The author of the Preface (Ben Jonson,
Mr. Greenwood thinks, {298b}) speaks only of a single author, who has
written other admirable comedies.  “When he is gone, and his comedies out
of sale, you will scramble for them, and set up a new English
Inquisition.”  Why?  The whole affair is a puzzle.  But if the author of
the Preface is right about the single author of _Troilus and Cressida_,
and if Shakespeare is alluded to in connection with Cressida, in
_Histriomastix_ (1599), then it appears to me that Shakespeare, in
1598–9, after Chapman’s portion of the Iliad appeared, was author of one
_Troilus and Cressida_, extant in 1602–3 (when its publication was barred
till the publisher “got authority”), while Chettle and Dekker, in April
1599, were busy with another _Troilus and Cressida_, as why should they
not be?  In an age so lax about copyright, if their play was of their own
original making, are we to suppose that there was copyright in the names
of the leading persons of the piece, Troilus and Cressida?

   [Picture: London in the year 1610, showing the Globe Theatre in the

Perhaps not: but meanwhile Mr. Greenwood cites Judge Stotsenburg’s
opinion {298c} that Henslowe’s entries of April 1599 “refute the
Shakespearean claim to the authorship of _Troilus and Cressida_,” which
exhibits “the collaboration of two men,” as “leading commentators” hold
that it does.  But the learned Judge mentions as a conceivable
alternative that “there were two plays on the subject with the same
name,” and, really, it looks as if there were!  The Judge does not agree
“with Webb and other gifted writers that Bacon wrote this play.”  So far
the Court is quite with him.  He goes on however, “It was, in my opinion,
based on the foregoing facts, originally the production of Dekker and
Chettle, added to and philosophically dressed by Francis Bacon.”  But,
according to Mr. Greenwood, “it is admitted not only that the different
writing of two authors is apparent in the Folio play, but also that
‘Shakespeare’ must have had at least some share in a play of _Troilus and
Cressida_ as early as the very year 1599, in the spring of which Dekker
and Chettle are found engaged in writing their play of that name,” on the
evidence of _Histriomastix_. {299a}  How that evidence proves that “a
play of _Troilus and Cressida_ had been _published_ as by ‘Shakespeare’
about 1599,” I know not.  Perhaps “published” means “acted”?  “And it is
not unreasonable to suppose that this play” (“published as by
Shakespeare”) “was the one to which Henslowe alludes”—as being written in
April 1599, by Dekker and Chettle.

If so, the play must show the hands of three, not two, men, Dekker,
Chettle, and “Shakespeare,” the Great Unknown, or Bacon.  He collaborates
with Dekker and Chettle, in a play for Lord Nottingham’s men (according
to Sir Sidney Lee), {300a} but it is, later at least, played by
Shakespeare’s company; and perhaps Bacon gets none of the £4 paid {300b}
to Dekker and Chettle.  Henslowe does not record his sale of the Dekker
and Chettle play to Shakespeare’s or to any company or purchaser.
Without an entry of the careful Henslowe recording his receipts for the
sale of the Dekker and Chettle play to any purchaser, it is not easy to
see how Shakespeare’s company procured the manuscript, and thus enabled
him to refashion it.  Perhaps no reader will fail to recognise his hand
in the beautiful blank verse of many passages.  I am not familiar enough
with the works of Dekker and Chettle to assign to them the less desirable
passages.  Thersites is beastly: a Yahoo of Swift’s might poison with
such phrases as his the name and nature of love, loyalty, and military
courage.  But whatsoever Shakespeare did, he did thoroughly, and if he
were weary, if man delighted him not, nor woman either, he may have
written the whole piece, in which love perishes for the whim of “a
daughter of the game,” and the knightly Hector is butchered to sate the
vanity of his cowardly Achilles.  If Shakespeare read the books
translated by Chapman, he must have read them in the same spirit as
Keats, and was likely to find that the poetry of the Achæan could not be
combined with the Ionian, Athenian, and Roman perversions, as he knew
them in the mediæval books of Troy, in the English of Lydgate and Caxton.
The chivalrous example of Chaucer he did not follow.  Probably Will
looked on the play as one of his failures.  The Editor, if we can speak
of an Editor, of the Folio clearly thrust the play in late, so confusedly
that it is not paged, and is not mentioned in the table of the contents.

“The Grand Possessors” of the play referred to in the Preface to one of
the two quartos of 1609 we may suppose to be Shakespeare’s Company.  In
this case the owners would not permit the publication of the play if they
could prevent it.  The title provokes Mr. Greenwood to say, “Why these
worthies should be so styled is not apparent; indeed the supposition
seems not a little ridiculous.” {301a}  Of course, if the players were
the possessors, “grand” is merely a jeer, by a person advertising a
successful piracy.  And in regard to Tieck’s conjecture that James I is
alluded to as “the grand possessor, for whom the play was expressly
written,” {301b} the autocratic James was very capable of protecting
himself against larcenous publishers.


IN discussing contemporary allusions to William Shakspere or Shakespeare
(or however you spell the name), I have not relied on Chettle’s remarks
(in _Kind-Hart’s Dreame_, 1592) concerning Greene’s _Groatsworth of Wit_.
Chettle speaks of it, saying, “in which a letter, written to divers
play-makers, is offensively by one or two of them taken.”  It appears
that by “one or two” Chettle means _two_.  “With _neither_ of them that
take offence was I acquainted” (at the time when he edited the
_Groatsworth_), “and with one of them I care not if I never be.”  We do
not know who “the Gentlemen his Quondam acquaintance,” addressed by
Greene, were.  They are usually supposed to have been Marlowe, Peele, and
Lodge, or Nash.  We do not know which of the two who take offence is the
man with whom Chettle did not care to be acquainted.  Of “the other,”
according to Chettle, “myself have seen his demeanour no less civil than
he is excellent in the quality he professes” (that is, “in his
profession,” as we say), “besides divers of worship have reported his
uprightness of dealing, which argues his honesty; and his facetious grace
in writing that approves his art.”

Speaking from his own observation, Chettle avers that the person of whom
he speaks is civil in his demeanour, and (_apparently_) that he is
“excellent in the quality he professes”—in his profession.  Speaking on
the evidence of “divers of worship,” the same man is said to possess
“facetious grace in writing.”  Had his writings been then published,
Chettle, a bookish man, would have read them and formed his own opinion.
Works of Lodge, Peele, and Marlowe had been published.  Writing is _not_
“the quality he professes,” is not the “profession” of the man to whom
Chettle refers.  On the other hand, the profession of Greene’s “Quondam
acquaintance” _was_ writing, “they spend their wits in making Plays.”
Thus the man who wrote, but whose profession was not that of writing,
does not, so far, appear to have been one of those addressed by Greene.
It seems undeniable that Greene addresses gentlemen who are “playmakers,”
who “spend their wits in making Plays,” and who are _not_ actors; for
Greene’s purpose is to warn them against the rich, ungrateful actors.  If
Greene’s friends, at the moment when he wrote, were, or if any one of
them then was, by profession an actor, Greene’s warning to him against
actors, directed to an actor, is not, to me, intelligible.  But Mr.
Greenwood writes, “As I have shown, George Peele was one of the
playwrights addressed by Greene, and Peele was a successful player as
well as playwright, and might quite truly have been alluded to both as
having ‘facetious grace in writing,’ and being ‘excellent in the quality
he professed,’ that is, as a professional actor.” {304a}

I confess that I did not know that George Peele, M.A., of Oxford, had
ever been a player, and a successful player.  But one may ask,—in 1592
did George Peele “profess the quality” of an actor; was he then a
professional actor, and only an occasional playwright?  If so, I am not
apt to believe that Greene seriously advised him not to put faith in the
members of his own profession.  From them, as a successful member of
their profession (a profession which, as Greene complains, “exploited”
dramatic authors), Peele stood in no danger.  Thus I do not see how
Chettle’s professional actor, reported to have facetious grace in
writing, can be identified with Peele.  The identification seems to me
impossible.  Peele and Marlowe, in 1592, were literary gentlemen; Lodge,
in 1592, was filibustering, though a literary man; he had not yet become
a physician.  In 1592, none of the three had any profession but that of
literature, so far as I am aware.  The man who had a special profession,
and also wrote, was not one of these three; nor was he Tom Nash, a mere
literary gentleman, pamphleteer and playwright.

I do not know the name of any one of the three to whom Greene addressed
the _Groatsworth_, though the atheistic writer of tragedies seems meant,
and disgracefully meant, for Marlowe.  I only know that Chettle is
expressing his regrets for Greene’s language to some one whom he
applauded as to his exercise of his profession; and who, according to
“divers of worship,” had also “facetious grace in writing.”  “Myself have
seen him no less civil than he is excellent in the quality he professes”;
whether or not this means that Chettle has _seen_ his excellence in his
profession, I cannot tell for certain; but Chettle’s remark is, at least,
contrasted with what he gives merely from report—“the facetious grace in
writing” of the man in question.  _His_ writing is not part of his
profession, so he is not, in 1592 (I conceive), Lodge, Peele, Marlowe, or

Who, then, is this mysterious personage?  Malone, Dyce, Steevens,
Collier, Halliwell-Phillipps, Knight, Sir Sidney Lee, Messrs. Gosse and
Garnett, and Mr. J. C. Collins say that he is Will Shakspere.  But Mr.
Fleay and Mr. Castle, whose “mind” is “legal,” have pointed out that this
weird being cannot be Shake-scene (or Shakspere, if Greene meant
Shakspere), attacked by Greene.  For Chettle says that in the
_Groatsworth of Wit_ “a letter, written to divers play-makers, is
offensively by one or two of them taken.”  The mysterious one is,
therefore, one of the playwrights addressed by Greene.  Consequently all
the followers of Malone, who wrote before Messrs. Fleay and Castle, are
mistaken; and what Mr. Greenwood has to say about Sir Sidney Lee, J. C.
Collins, and Dr. Garnett, and Mr. Gosse, in the way of moral reprobation,
may be read by the curious in his pages. {305a}

Meanwhile, if we take Chettle to have been a strict grammarian, by his
words—“a letter, written to divers play-makers, is offensively by one or
two of them taken,” Will is excluded; the letter was most assuredly not
written to _him_.  But I, whose mind is not legal, am not certain that
Chettle does not mean that the letter, written to divers play-makers, was
by one or two makers of plays offensively taken.

This opinion seems the less improbable, as the person to whom Chettle is
most apologetic excels in a quality or profession, which is contrasted
with, and is not identical with, “his facetious grace in writing”—a
_parergon_, or “ bye-work,” in his case.  Whoever this person was, he
certainly was not Marlowe, Peele, Lodge, or Nash.  We must look for some
other person who had a profession, and also was reported to have
facetious grace in writing.

If Chettle is to be held tight to grammar, Greene referred to some one
unknown, some one who wrote for the stage, but had another profession.
If Chettle is not to be thus tautly construed, I confess that to myself
he seems to have had Shakspere, even Will, in his mind.  For Will in 1592
had “a quality which he professed,” that of an actor; and also (I
conceive) was reported to have “ facetious grace in writing.”  But other
gentlemen may have combined these attributes; wherefore I lay no stress
on the statements of Chettle, as if they referred to our Will Shakspere.


{0a}  E. J. Castle, _Shakespeare_, _Bacon_, _Jonson_, _and Greene_, pp.

{0b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 145.

{0c}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 340.

{0d}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 340, 341.

{0e}  _In Re Shakespeare_, p. 54.

{0f}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 341.

{0g}  _Ibid._, p. 470.

{0h}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 339.

{0i}  _The Vindicators of Shakespeare_, pp. 115–116.

{0j}  _Ibid._, p. 49.

{0k}  _The Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 14.

{4a}  _Francis Bacon Wrote Shakespeare_.  By H. Crouch-Batchelor, 1912.

{7a}  _The Shakespere Problem Restated_, p. 293.

{11a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 31–37.

{13a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 36–37.

{16a}  _Tue Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 20.

{17a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 47–48.

{17b}  _Ibid._, pp. 54–55.

{17c}  _Ibid._, p. 54.

{17d}  _Ibid._, p. 56.

{17e}  _Ibid._, p. 59.

{17f}  _Ibid._, p. 62.

{17g}  _Ibid._, p. 193.

{18a}  See his _Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 210.

{19a}  _Vindicators_, p. 187.

{19b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 223.

{21a}  _In Re Shakespeare_, p. 54.

{22a}  In a brief note of two pages (_Cornhill Magazine_, November 1911)
he makes such reply as the space permits to a paper of my own,
“Shakespeare or X?” in the September number.  With my goodwill he might
have written thirty-two pages to my sixteen, but I am not the Editor, and
never heard of Mr. Greenwood’s note till May 1912.

He says that I had represented him as stating that the Unknown genius
adopted the name of William Shake-speare or Shakespeare “as a good _nom
de guerre_, without any reference to the fact that there was an actor in
existence of the name of William Shakspere, whose name was sometimes
written Shakespeare, and without the least idea that the works he
published under this pseudonym would be fathered upon the actor . . . ”
(My meaning has obviously been too obscurely stated by me.)

Mr. Greenwood next writes that the confusion between the actor, and the
unknown taking the name William Shakespeare, “did happen and was intended
to happen.”

_C’est là le miracle_!

How could it happen if the actor were the bookless, ignorant man whom Mr.
Greenwood describes?  It could not happen: Will must have been unmasked
in a day.  The fact that a strange plot existed was only too obvious.
The Unknown’s secret must have been tracked by the hounds of keenest nose
in the packs of rival and jealous authors and of actors.  None gives

{27a}  _Francis Bacon Wrote Shakespeare_, p. 37.

{30a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 333.

{31a}  In the passage which I quoted, with notes of omission, from Mr.
Greenwood (p. 333), he went on to say that the eulogies of the poet by
“some cultured critics of that day,” “afford no proof that the author who
published under the name of Shakespeare was in reality Shakspere the
Stratford player.”  That position I later contest.

{31b}  See chap. XI, _The First Folio_.

{33a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 305, 306.

{34a}  Furness, _Merchant of Venice_, pp. 271, 272.

{34b}  On this see Mr. Pollard’s _Shakespeare Folios and Quartos_, pp.

{37a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 202, 348, 349.

{38a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 349.

{44a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 356.

{45a}  _In Re Shakespeare_, p. 88, note I.

{48a}  _Studies in Shakespeare_, p. 15; _Life of Shakespeare_, by Malone,
pp. 561–2, 564; Appendix, XI, xvi.

{50a}  C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, pp.
97, 98.

{51a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 44.

{52a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 39.

{52b}  _Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 210.

{53a}  _Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 187.

{53b}  _Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 223.

{55a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 69.

{56a}  See chapter X, _The Traditional Shakespeare_.

{56b}  See C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_,
pp. 48, 343–8.

{57a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 207–9.

{59a}  Chapter X, _infra._

{62a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 96.

{62b}  See chapter X, _The Traditional Shakespeare_.

{62c}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 94–96.

{64a}  _Shakespeare_, pp. 38–40.

{65a}  Raleigh, _Shakespeare_, pp. 77, 78.

{69a}  So he seems to me to do; but in _Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p.
135, he shows great caution: “I refer the reader to Mr. Collin’s essay,
and ask him to judge for himself.”

{71a}  _Studies in Shakespeare_, p. 15.

{72a}  _Studies in Shakespeare_, p. 21.

{75a}  _Alcibiades_, I, pp. 132, 133; _Troilus_, III, scene 3.

{77a}  _Studies in Shakespeare_, p. 46.

{77b}  _Iliad_, p. 63.

{91a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 54, 55.

{93a}  _National Review_, vol. xxxix., 1902.

{93b}  _The Pilot_, Aug. 30, 1902, p. 220.

{96a}  The oldest mention of a _circulating_ library known to me is in
Hull, in 1650, when Sir James Turner found it excellent.

{97a}  In his _Shakespeare_ (_English Men of Letters_), pp. 66, 67.

{97b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 77, 78.

{97c}  _The Shakespearean Myth_, p. 162.

{100a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 76.

{101a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 81, note I.

{103a}  Penzance, _The Bacon-Shakespeare Controversy_, pp. 150, 151.
Citing Appleton Morgan’s _Shakespearean Myth_, pp. 248, 298.

{106a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 175.

{107a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 457.

{109a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 58.

{109b}  _Apology the Actors_, 1612.

{110a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 267.

{111a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 267, 268.

{112a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 50–52.

{113a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 51.

{113b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 51.

{113c}  _Ibid._, p. 500, citing Mr. Reed’s _Francis Bacon our
Shake-speare_, chap. ii. pp. 62, 63.

{113d}  _Ibid._, pp. 500–520, chap xvi.

{114a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 512.

{114b}  _Ibid._, p. 514.

{114c}  _Ibid._, p. 386, note I.

{114d}  _Ibid._, p. 93.

{120a}  _Cambridge History of English Literature_, vol. v. p. 126.  Prof.
G. P. Baker.

{121a}  Furness, _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, pp. xiii., 348–350: _cf._ pp.
348, 349, for the four distinct styles of linguistic affectation of the
period, at least as they are represented in literature.

{121b}  _Shakespeare Studies in Baconian Light_, Appendix on Marlowe.

{124a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 516.

{126a}  Act i.  Scene 2.  Furness, _Love’s Labour’s Lost_, p. 45, note.

{127a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 67, 68.

{129a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 66.

{129b}  _Ibid._, p. 67.

{136a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 307.

{138a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 308.

{140a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 309.

{141a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 310.

{141b}  _Ibid._, pp. 310, 311.

{141c}  _Ibid._, p. 311.

{142a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 309.

{142b}  _Ibid._, pp. 311, 312.

{143a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 312, 313.

{145a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 313.

{146a}  See Appendix II, “_Chettle’s supposed allusion to Will

{147a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 330.

{149a}  _The Vindicators of Shakespeare_, pp. 115, 116, 211.  _See_ my
Introduction, p. xxii.

{150a}  _The Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 210.

{150b}  _Ibid._, p. 136.

{151a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 338.

{155a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 346.

{157a}  Cited in _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 353.

{159a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 353.

{159b}  _Diary_, pp. xxvii, xxviii.

{160a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 367.

{160b}  _Ibid._, pp. 368, 369.

{161a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 354.

{163a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 366.

{164a}  Some Baconians say so!

{171a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 181, 397.

{171b}  _Ibid._, p. 186.

{174a}  Some verses of Fletcher’s may, perhaps, refer to Beaumont’s

{175a}  C. I. Elton, _Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, pp. 246,

{175b}  As to the Aldine Ovid in the Bodleian, see Mr. Greenwood in _The
Vindicators of Shakespeare_, pp. 191, 192.  Of course he raises every
objection, but I do not feel sure that either an affirmative or negative
result can be attained by _expertise_.  We are not told when or where the
Bodleian obtained the book; nor what is the date of the handwriting of
the inscription about W. Hall, a personage whom we are to meet later.  A
good deal of business is done in forging names in books.

{176a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 196.

{176b}  _Ibid._, p. 197.

{177a}  See _Frontispiece_.

{179a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 247, 248, note I.

{180a}  _National Review_, June 1912, p. 903.

{180b}  _Pall Mall Gazette_, November 1910.

{181a}  _Outlines_, vol. i. p. 283.

{182a}  P. 73, 1806.

{183a}  _Outlines_, vol. i. p. 283.

{183b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 247.

{186a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 248–249.

{186b}  C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, pp.

{187a}  C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, p.

{187b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 199.

{187c}  C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, pp.

{187d}  _Ibid._, p. 250.

{188a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 199, note 1.

{189a}  C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, pp.
339, 342.

{190a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 238.

{198a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 214.

{200a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 214, note 2.

{201a}  C. I. Elton, _William Shakespeare_, _His Family and Friends_, p.

{201b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 28, 29.

{207a}  Like Mr. Greenwood, I think that Ben was the penman.

{208a}  Pollard, _ut supra_, p. 10.

{210a}  Pollard, _ut supra_, pp. 64–80.

{215a}  Pollard, _ut supra_, pp. 121–124.

{216a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 287–288.

{217a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 290–291.

{217b}  _Ibid._, pp. 292, 293.

{218a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 293.

{219a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 489, 490.

{219b}  _Ibid._, p. 491.

{219c}  _Studies in Shakespeare_, p. 352.

{220a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 293.

{220b}  _Ibid._, p. 491.

{220c}  _Ibid._, p. 293.

{220d}  _Ibid._, p. 293.

{221a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 297.

{221b}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 297.

{222a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 293.

{222b}  _Ibid._, p. 351.

{222c}  _Ibid._, p. 351.

{222d}  _Ibid._, pp. 290, 293.

{222e}  _Ibid._, pp. 351, 358.

{223a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 351.

{223b}  _Ibid._, pp. 290, 293.

{223c}  _Ibid._, p. 351.

{223d}  _Ibid._, p. 351.

{223e}  _Ibid._, pp. 290, 293.

{223f}  _Ibid._, p. 290.

{223g}  _Ibid._, pp. 290, 291.

{223h}  _Ibid._, p. 293.

{224a} _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 351.

{224b}  _Ibid._, p. 358.

{224c}  _Ibid._, pp. 351, 358.

{224d}  _Ibid._, p. 290.

{224e}  _Ibid._, p. 293.

{225a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 355, 356.

{226a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 355, 356.

{226b}  _Ibid._, pp. 158, 160, 162 (“not the original author”), 170.

{226c}  _Ibid._, pp. 130–151, 160, 168.

{226d}  _Ibid._, p., 123, note 2.

{227a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 356.

{228a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 160.

{228b}  _Ibid._, p. 356.

{228c}  _Ibid._, p. 160.

{228d}  _Ibid._, p. 356.

{228e}  _Ibid._, pp. 290, 293.

{228f}  _Ibid._, p. 358.

{229a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 365.  I will bet Mr.
Greenwood any sum not exceeding half a crown that he cannot find any
“records of the writing of” either of these plays in Henslowe’s
“Diary,”—his account book of expenses and receipts.

{229b}  _Ibid._, p. 365.

{229c}  _Ibid._, p. 365.

{229d}  _Ibid._, p. 160.

{231a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 276.

{231b}  _Ibid._, p. 290.

{232a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 293.

{232b}  _Ibid._, p. 294.

{233a}  _The Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 57 (1911).

{237a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 453.

{244a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 466.

{245a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 313.

{245b}  _Supra_, p. 143.

{245c}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 466.

{249a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 482.

{250a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 467, 471.

{250b}  See chapter IX on _The Later Life of Shakespeare_.

{250c}  _Ibid._, pp. 472, 474.

{251a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 473.

{251b}  _Ibid._, p. 474.

{253a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 475.

{254a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 106.

{255a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 478.

{258a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 480.

{259a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 483.

{260a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 483.

{260b}  _Ibid._, pp. 489–490.

{260c}  See chapter XI, _The First Folio_.

{261a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 483.

{261b}  _Ibid._, pp. 489–491.

{262a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 486.

{264a} _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 488.

{266a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 491.

{267a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 295, _cf._ p. 499.

{268a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 295, 499.

{270a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 499.

{274a}  _Letters and Life of Francis Bacon_, edited by James Spedding,
vol. i. p. 4 (1861).

{275a}  _Letters and Life of Francis Bacon_, edited by James Spedding,
vol. i. p. 31.

{275b}  _Ibid._, vol. i. pp. 74–95.

{276a}  _Letters and Life of Francis Bacon_, edited by James Spedding,
vol. i. pp. 108–109.

{279a}  _Letters and Life of Francis Bacon_, edited by James Spedding,
vol. i. p. 106.

{279b}  _Ibid._, vol. i. pp. 121–143.

{280a}  Sixty pages in Spedding’s _Letters and Life of Francis Bacon_,
vol. i. pp. 146–208.

{281a}  See his statement (1603), Spedding, iii. pp. 84–87.

{281b}  _Ibid._, iii. p. 253.

{282a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 371–406.

{282b}  _The Bacon-Shakespeare Controversy_, p. 198.

{283a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 391.

{283b}  _Ibid._, pp. 408–410.

{284a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 425.

{284b}  _Ibid._, p. 431.

{287a}  _Sufflamen_ is the “drag” or “brake.”  Ben’s, “it was necessary
he should be _stopped_,” is an incorrect translation.

{288a}  Quoted by Sir Walter Raleigh, _Shakespeare_, p. 65.

{288b}  _Ibid._, p. 65.

{297a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 358–362.

{298a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 491–494.

{298b}  _Ibid._, p. 495.

{298c}  _Ibid._, pp. 358–360.

{299a} _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 361.

{300a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 360.

{300b}  _Ibid._, p. 358.

{301a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, p. 495, note I.

{301b}  _Ibid._, p. 494.

{304a}  _Vindicators of Shakespeare_, p. 69.

{305a}  _The Shakespeare Problem Restated_, pp. 317–319.

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