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Truth is like a Torch : The more it 's Shook, it Shines.




Author of "A New View of the Temperance Question"


Copyrighted, 1890 and 1891, by Edwin Reed.


2Ct)r l^onorable HtcljarD Cutts &t)annon










In the following Brief for the Plaintiff, Bacon 7's. Shake-
speare, in an action of ejectment, now on trial, it is intended
to cite such facts only as are generally agreed upon by both
parties or can be easily verified, and in the main to let
those facts, trumpet-tongued, speak for themselves. Like
the hnes that mark the sea-coast on our maps, each sepa-
rate proof shades off in a thousand fine corroborating cir-
cumstances, which are often very interesting, as well as
important for a full knowledge of the subject. Mr. Don-
nelly's cipher is, for the present purpose at least, clearly
beyond soundings. For further information, the reader is
respectfully referred to the works of Delia Bacon, Mrs.
Pott, Richard Grant White, Dr. Rolfe, Judge Holmes,
Appleton Morgan, and last, but not least, Ignatius Don-
nelly ; not to mention numerous others which the world, it
is to be feared, will soon be too small to contain.


We may say of improbabilities, as we do of evils, choose
the least.

It is antecedently improbable that the Shakespeare Plays,
for which the whole domain of human knowledge was laid
under contribution, were written by William Shakespeare,
for he was uneducated.

It is also antecedently improbable that Francis Bacon,
whose name for nearly three hundred years has been
a synonym for all that is philosophical and profound,
who was so great in another and widely different field
of labor that he gave a new direction for all future
time to the course of human thought, was the author of

And yet, to one or the other of these two men we must
give our suffrage for the crowning honors of humanity.

In the claim for Shakespeare, the improbability is so
overwhelming that it involves very nearly a violation of the


laws of nature. No man ever did, and, it is safe to say,
no man ever can, acquire knowledge intuitively. One may
be a genius like Burns, and the world be hushed to silence
while he sings; but the injunction, " In the sweat of thy
face' shalt thou eat thy bread," is as true of intellectual
as it is of physical life, everywhere. The fruit of the
tree of knowledge can be reached only by hard climb-
ing, the sole instance on record in which it was plucked
and handed down to the waiting recipient having proved
a failure.

In the case of Bacon, however, the improbability is one
of degree only. It is, in fact, not entirely without prece-
dent. Fortune has more than once emptied a whole cor-
nucopia of gifts at a single birth. What diversity, what
beauty, what grandeur in the personahty of Leonardo da
Vinci ! He was author, painter, sculptor, architect, musi-
cian, civil engineer, inventor — and in each capacity, almost
without exception, eminent above his contemporaries. His
great painting, the Last Supper, ranks the third among the
products in this branch of modern art, Raphael's Madonna
di San Sisto and Michael Angelo's Last Judgment being
respectively, perhaps, first and second. At the same time,
he was the pioneer in the study of the anatomy and struct-
iu"al classification of plants ; he founded the science of
hydraulics ; he invented the camera obscura ; he proclaimed


the undulatory theory of hght and heat ; he investigated the
properties of steam, and anticipated by four centuries its
use in the propulsion of boats ; and he barely missed the
great discovery which immortalized Newton. Indeed, we
see in Leonardo da Vinci, not a mountain only, but a
whole range of sky-piercing peaks !

Another illustrious example is Goethe, scarcely inferior
to Bacon, whatever the claims made for the latter, in the
brilliancy and scope of his powers. As a poet, Goethe was
a star of the first magnitude, a blaze of light in the literarj-
heavens. His Faust is one of the six great epic poems
of the world. As a writer of prose tiction he stands in
the front rank, his " Wilhelm Meister " a classic side by
side with " Ivanhoe," " Middlemarch," and " The Scarlet
Letter." By a singular coincidence, also, as compared with
Bacon, he was one of the master spirits of his age in the
sphere of the sciences. An evolutionist before Darwin, he
beheld, as in a vision, what is now becoming clear, the
application of law to all the phenomena of nature and hfe.
In botany, he made notable additions to the then existing
stock of knowledge ; and throughout the vast realm of biol-
ogy he not only developed new methods of inquiry, but
he spread over it the glow of imagination, without which
the path of discovery is always doubly difificult to tread.
In the light of precedents, therefore, the claim made in


behalf of Bacon to the authorship of the Plays cannot be

The reader is now asked to measure the relative improba-
bilities in question for himself.

E. R.
A.NDOVER, Mass., September i, 1890.


Nothing is more tenacious of life than an old popular
belief. It has the force of habit which the pressure of
enlightened opinion through successive generations alone
can overcome. " O Lord, thou hast taught us," once
prayed a good deacon, " that as the twig is bent, the tree's
inclined " — a truth drawn from the Book of Nature, and as
indubitable as though the writings of Pope were a part of
the sacred canon. Trees that have unnatural and
uncomely twists in their branches, even if growing on
Mount Zion, must die of old age, or be cut down, before
the errors of arboriculture will cease to torment us. In-
telligent and conscientious scholars among us are still
defending the historical accuracy of the first chapter of
Genesis. A personal devil is almost as potent in the minds
of men to-day as he was when Martin Luther hurled the ink-
stand at his head. In Germany, how often one hears the
polite ejaculation Gesuiidheit, uttered when a person sneezes !


Who does not turn, almost instinctively, to see in which
part of the heavens the moon quarters, for a forecast of the
weather, though that luminary is as innocent of any inter-
meddling with that branch of our local affairs as is the
most distant star whicli the Lick telescope has revealed to

And the worst of it is, these old beliefs linger in the noblest
minds to the last. The shadow of a solar eclipse, sweep-
ing over the earth, lets the just and the unjust, the wise
and the foolish, emerge into the light behind it indiscrimi-
nately. E^vil spirits do not always beg the privilege, when
they find themselves about to be exorcised, of taking refuge
in a herd of swine and leaping over a precipice into the sea.
The horrible butcheries of the Salem Witchcraft, marking
the close of that delusion, were perpetrated by those to
whom the love of God was the chief end of man. One of
the last judges in England to send a witch to the gallows
was Time's noblest offspring, Sir Matthew Hale. The last
in that country to manumit their slaves were the clergy.
The Garrison mob in Boston wore broadcloth on their backs
and all the current virtues in their hearts. It is, therefore,
no criterion of a good cause that men of acknowledged
abilities and culture support it, nor of a bad cause that
such men denounce it.

Indeed, truth has a modest wav of entering; the world


like a mendicant, at the back door. Such a guest is sel-
dom admitted, on his first arrival, at the other end of the
house. Poor Copernicus stood there shivering in the cold
thirteen years before he dared even to lift the knocker.
Every great rehgion has sprung up among the poor. Every
great reform owes its origin to the oppressed. Every great
invention has had, like the founders of Rome, a wolf for
a nurse. It is not to be expected that rebeUion against a
king of poets will find favor among the nobility that sur-
round his throne. The high-priests who, with unsandaled
feet, minister in a sacred temple will not be the first to
despoil the idol they worship. No captain in that " fleet
of traffickers and assiduous pearl-fishers " to which Carlyle,
in the most eloquent sentence he ever wrote, refers, will
strike his colors or change his outfit so long as the products
of his industry under the old regime are bringing him
wealth. And what to him are winds and waves, or any
storm of criticism, whose barque is anchored to the
theory of Inspiration ! Showers of verbal aerolites on the
mimic stage, only a product of untaught Nature !

Amid the turmoil of our daily life, if we listen reverently,
we may hear voices crying in the wilderness, perhaps the
voice of a woman, alone and forsaken, in a strange city.

" No accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless wodd hath ever lost."


From the banks of the Missouri, from the wheat-fields
of Minnesota, from far-off Melbourne at the antipodes,
out of the heart of humanity somewhere, a response in due
time is sure to come.

K. R.

Anuuver, M.vss., January i, 1S9:.


The Author of the Shakespeare Plays.

It is conceded by all that the author of the Shakespeare
Plays was the greatest genius of his age, perhaps of any
age, and, with nearly equal unanimity, that he was a man
of profound and varied scholarship.

I. He was a Hnguist, many of the Plays being based on
Greek, Spanish, and Italian productions which had not then
been translated into English. Latin and French were
seemingly as famiUar to him as a mother tongue. It is
thus apparent that not less than five foreign languages,
living and dead, were included in his repertory.

Latin. — The Comedy of Errors yNZ.^ founded \xi^ox\.\\iQ Menachnii
of Plautus, a comic poet, who wrote about 200 B.C. The first
translation of the Latin work into English, so far as known,
was made in 1595, subsequently to the appearance of the Shake-


spearc play, and wiiliout any resemblance to it "in any peculiar-
ity of language, of namcs.'or of any other matter, however slight."

— I 'erplanck.

"His frequent use of Latin derivatives in their radical sense
shows a somewhat thoughtful and observant study of that lan-
guage." — Richard Grant White.

Greek. — Union of Atheiisw3.s drawn partly from Plutarch and
partly from Lucian, the latter author not having been translated
into English earlier than 1638 (White), fifteen years after the pub-
lication of the play.

Helena's pathetic lament over a lost friendship in Midsummer-
Xight's Dream (HI., 2j had its prototype in an untranslated Greek
poem by St. Gregory of Nazianzus, published at Venice in 1504.

— Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Chap, xxvii.

Italian. — An Italian novel, written by Giraldi Cinthio and first
printed in 1565, furnished the incidents for the stor)' of Othello.
The author of the play " read it probably in the original, for no
English translation of his time is known.'" — Geninus.

" He was, without doubt, quite able to read Italian." — Richard
Grant Jf'hit:\

French. — One entire scene and parts of others in Heni-y V. are
in French.

Plovvden's French Commentaries, containing the celebrated case
of Hales vs. Petit, which was satirized by the grave-diggers, were
translated into English for the first time more than half a century
after Hamlet was written.

Spanish. — The poet drew some of his materials for the Tzvo Gen-
tlemen of Verona from the Spanish romance of Montema)-or, en-


titled the Diana, which was translated into English in 1582, the
translation, however, not being printed till 1598. " The resem-
blances are too minute to be accidental." (Halliwell-Phillipps.)
As the play was produced previously to 1593, it follows that the
author read either the translation in manuscript or the Spanish
original. The latter supposition, particularly in view of his other
linguistic acquirements, is more probable.

An unknown play, based on the same story and played before
the Queen in 1585, was doubtless the T'vo Gentlemen of Verona in
an earlier form.

The Merchant of Venice and Cymbeline were also indebted, not
only for much of their respective plots, but, in some instances, for
identical passages, to works not then in English dress.

Gervinus, one of the ablest of the Shakespearean critics, calls
attention to two of the Comedies in which Latin, French, Spanish,
and Italian words and sentences abound, and ventures to suggest
a desire, on the part of the author, to exhibit in them his knoioledge
of foreign languages.

2. He had intimate acquaintance with ancient and
modem Hterature, numerous authors, from the age of Plato
down to his own, being drawn upon for illustration and
imagery in the composition of these works.

" The writer was a classical scholar. Rowe found traces in him
of the Electra of Sophocles ; Colman, of Ovid ; Pope, of Dares
PhrA'gius and other Greek authors ; Farmer, of Horace and Virgil ;
Malone, of Lucretius, Statius, Catullus, Seneca, Sophocles, and


Euripides ; Stecvens.of Plautus ; Kniglit, of the Antigone o{ Sopho-
cles ; White, of the Akestis of Euripides." — N^athaniel Holmes.

" The early plays exhibit the poet not far removed from school
and its pursuits ; in none of his later dramas docs he plunge so
deeply into the remembrances of antiquity, his head overflowing
with its images, legends, and characters. The Taming of the Shrew,
especially, may be compared with the First Fiirt of Henry I'l. ' in
the manifold ostentation of book-learning.'" — Get-iniis.

Stapfer, a distinguished French critic, intimates that in his
judgment, some of the plays are " over-cumbered with learning,
not to say pedantic." *

3. He was a jurist, with

"a deep technical knowledge of the law,"

and an easy familiarity with

"some of the most abstruse proceedings in English jurispru-
dence." — Lord Chief Jitstiee Campbell.

His fondness for legal phrases is remarkable, but it is
still more reinarkable that,

"whenever he indulges this propensity, he uniformly lays down
good law." — Idevi.

* It may be well to remark that Stapfer and White are unfriendly witnesses,
and that Gervinus and Verplanck wrote before this controversy began. Judge
Holmes is our senior counsel, but wc claim the right at this hearing to put him
also on the witness stand. His work on the .-) uthorship of Shakespeare fs as tem-
perate in its judgments as it is philosophical and profound in general treatment
of the subject.


One of the sonnets (46) is so intensely technical in its
phraseology that,

"without a considerable knowledge of English forensic procedure,
it cannot be fully understood." — Idem.

"Among these [legal terms], there are some which few but a
lawyer would, and some even which none but a lawyer could, have
written." — Franklin Fiske Heard.

4. He was a philosopher.

" In the constructing of Shakespeare's Dramas, there is an un-
derstanding manifested equal to that in Bacon's Xovuin Or^anum."
— Carlyle.

" He is inconceivably wise; the others conceivably." — Emerson.

" From his works may be collected a system of civil and eco-
nomical prudence." — Dr. Johnson.

" He was not only a great poet, but a great philosopher." —

Thus was the author's mind not only a fountain of
inspiration from its own inimitable depths, but enriched in
large measure with the stores of knowledge which the
world had then accumulated.

" An amazing genius which could pervade all nature at a glance,
and to whom nothing within the limits of the universe appeared
to be unknown." — IV/ialley.



1 . The family of William Shakespeare was grossly illiter-
ate. His father and mother made their signatures with a
cross. His daughter Judith, also, at the age of twenty-
seven, could not write her name. The little we know of
his own youth and early manhood affords presumptive
proof of the strongest kind that he was uneducated.

" His learning was very little." — Thomas Fuller s Worthies, 1662.

"In him we find all arts and sciences, all moral and natural
philosophy, without knowing that he ever studied them." —

2. The Shakespeare family had no settled or uniform
method of spelling their name. More than thirty different
forms have been found among their papers, on their tomb-
stones, and in contemporaneous public records. William
wrote it Shakspere; his brother Gilbert, Shakespeir. In a
mortgage deed given by the corporation of London, it is
Shakspcr The indorsement on an indenture between
Shakespeare a'nd two of his neighbors in Stratford spells it


Shackspeare. Among other forms discovered in the records
of the family are the following : S/iaxpu?; C/iacksper,
Schakespeire, Shagspere, Shakaspeare, Shaykspere, and
Schakespayr. Patronymics often varied at that time, as
they do now, in different families and in different sections
of the country, but here the variations in the same house-
hold were numerous and, apparently, at hap-hazard.
Nevertheless, it is a singular circumstance, that in all the
forms tabulated by Wise, nineteen hundred and six in
number, the one appearing on the title-pages of the Plays
and Poems, Shakespeare, is unique. No member of the
family in any part of the kingdom wrote the name in that
way. Literature had an absolute monopoly of it.*

3. Shakespeare's handwriting, of which we have live
specimens in his signatures to legal documents, was not
only almost illegible, but singularly uncultivated and gro-
tesque, wholly at variance with the description given of the
manuscripts of the Plays in the preface to the folio edition
of 1623. The editorial encomium was in these words:

" 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."

*It is significant, also, that in some of the quartos first published the
name appears with a hyphen, thus, Shakespeare^ as though to distinguish it
in another slight respect from that of the actor.


In this connection, we reproduce the five autographs of
Shakespeare, the only acknowledged specimens of his pen-
manship in existence, in facsimile:


^^^^'Utx^* c^L r ,*. Z/T. . ^s^i^^


4. Shakespeare made no mention of any literary property
in his will. He was careful to specify, among other
bequests, his " second-best bed," but not a book, not a copy
of one of his own books, not even a manuscript, though
such immortal dramas as Macbeth, Tempest, and Julius
Caesar were unpublished at the time of his death.*

* Counsel on the other side attempt to meet this point by saying- tiiat
Shakespeare had sold his manuscripts to the theatre company before leaving
London. They have so long assumed this to be true that they now state it
unqualifiedly, though without proof. They should issue instructions, however,
to the cicerone at Stratford, who informs visitors that the wicked manuscripts
were destroyed, after Shakespeare's death, by his puritanical children !


5. No letter written by him has come down to us, and
but two addressed to him, and those make no reference to
hterature. An inspection of his autograph is alone suffi-
cient to explain the paucity of his correspondence, if not
its absolute non-existence.

6. In the dedication of the Venus and Adonis, published
in 1593, Shakespeare calls that poem the first heir of his
invention. This makes it ante-date the Plays. Accord-
ingly, Richard Grant White sets it down as written in
1584-5, before Shakespeare left Stratford. Furnivall,
also, assigns it to the same early date.

The Venus and Adonis is a product of the highest cul-
ture. It is prefixed with a Latin quotation from Ovid, and
is written throughout in the purest, most elegant and
scholarly English of that day. Hazlitt compares it to an
ice-house, "almost as hard, as glittering, and as cold." Is
it possible that in a town where seven only of the nineteen
aldermen could write their names, where the habits of the
people were so inconceivably filthy that John Shakespeare,
father of William, was publicly prosecuted on two occa-
sions for defiling the street in front of his house, where the
common speech was a pafois rude to the verge of barba-
rism, and where, probably, outside of the schools and
churches, not a half dozen books, as White admits, were
to be found among the whole population, — is it possible


that in sucli a town a lad of twenty compo.sed this beauti-
ful epic ?

7. It is believed that Shakespeare left his home in Strat-
ford and went to London some time between 1585 and
1587. He was then twenty-one to twenty-three years of
age. One of the first of the Shakespeare Plays to be pro-
duced on the stage was Hamlet, and the date not later than
1589. It was founded on a foreign tragedy of which no
translation then existed in English. As first presented, it
was probably in an imperfect form, having been subse-
quently rewritten and enlarged into what is now, perhaps,
the greatest individual work of genius the human mind has
produced. To assume that Shakespeare, under the circum-
stances in which he was then placed,* at so early an age,
fresh from a country town where there were few or no
books, and from a family circle whose members could not
read or write, was the author of this play, would seem to
involve a miracle as great as that imputed to Joshua — in
other words, a suspension of the laws of cause and effect.*

* It has been suggested that the original Hamlet was by another author.
This supposition, however, encounters an improbability of its own, not so
great as the one mentioned in the text, but still fatal, viz. : that a playwright
would adopt for the title of his masterpiece a name already familiar to the
public, and identified in the same age with the same subject. No absurd
hypothesis stands in Bacon's way, for he was nearly thirty years of age when
Hamlet was first played, had been highly educated at home and abroad, and
was then a briefless barrister at Gray's Inn.


8. The end of his career was as remarkable as the begin-
ning. His residence in London extended over a period of
twenty-five years, during which time, according to popular
belief, he wrote thirty-seven dramas, one hundred and fifty-
four sonnets, and two or three minor poems, besides accu-
mulating a fortune the income of which has been estimated
at £1,000 (equivalent in our time and in our money to
$25,000) per annum. Such an instance of mental fecundity
the world has never seen, before or since.

In 161 o or thereabouts, while he was still comparatively
young (at the age of forty-six), he retired from London
and passed the remainder of his days among his old neigh-
bors in Stratford, loaning money and brewing beer for sale.
His intellectual life seems to have terminated as abruptly
as it had begun. The most careful scrutiny fails to show
that he took the slightest interest in the fate of the plays
left behind him, or in his own reputation as the author of
them. Some of these productions were still in manuscript,
unknown even to the stage, and not given to the pubhc,
either for fame or profit, till thirteen years after his retire-
ment. Such indifference to the children of his brain and
such utter seclusion in the prime of his manhood from the
refinements of hfe present to us a picture, not only pain-
ful to contemplate, but one that stultifies human nature


9. Our surprises do not cease at his death. On the heavy
stone slab that marks his grave in tlie old church at .Strat-
ford, visitors read the following inscription :

" Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here :
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."

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Online LibraryEdwin ReedBrief for plaintiff: Bacon vs. Shakespeare → online text (page 1 of 6)