Cherubim Spearing Serpents

Manes Verulamiani

Introduction by W. G. C. Gundry

"The raven has ascended to the nest of the nightingale"
-- Persian Proverb

  THE thirty two elegies to the memory of Francis Bacon which were printed a few months after his death in April, 1626 by John Haviland, have not received the attention from scholars which they merit.... This immunity from orthodox scholarly attention is unfortunate as it has had the effect of preventing the investigation of his claims, as voiced in these elegies, to recognition as a poet and other preeminence. Our particular concern with the Manes is the light which they throw on Bacon's reputation as being:

    1. A supreme poet, second to none.
    2. The writer of unacknowledged literary work.
    3. Associated with the theatre.
    4. The centre of a mystery which it was reserved for posterity to unravel.

    There is such unanimity in the claims made by the writers of these verses that it will be hard for any unbiased reader of them to resist the conclusion that they are based on truth. There may be some divergence of opinion on the part of scholars as to the translation of them, but there can be no real difference as to their general import. Sometimes the statements made in them are direct, and in other cases the contributors attempt to convey their meaning by innuendo, allegory or acroamatic allusion. It is submitted that it is impossible to escape from the conclusions which have been enumerated above. ...

      It is thought well to begin with Dr. William Rawley's Introduction to the Manes as published in the collection of 1626. In the course of this address to the reader Bacon's chaplain writes that he has withheld very many poems, "and the best too", from publication. It is an interesting speculation why he deemed this necessary; was it that these revealed more about Bacon than he considered desirable, or which he thought it would be contrary to the wishes of his late master to publish? The conclusion of the verse, however, contains the most significant statement:
  Moreover let it suffice to have laid, as it were, these foundations in the name of the present age; this fabric (I think) every age will embellish and enlarge; but to what age it is given to put the last touch, that is known to God only and the fates.   
    This is paralleled by the concluding lines of the verses prefixed to the selection from the Manes Verulamiani which appear in The Advancement of Learning (1640 and 1674 editions).... It is probably also from Rawley's pen, as it echoes the foregoing; the concluding sentence reads: "Quis supremam suis laudibus manum imponet, novit tantum Fundator ille, ac simul eversor Seculorum." The translation runs: "Who will be the last to put his hand to these praises, only He knows who is at once the Founder and Demolisher of the centuries."
      Thus, at the very beginning of these remarkable tributes we have a mystery hinted at, and this atmosphere of crypticism is continued and perpetuated throughout the whole series. No amount of casuistry can divest these verses of their implied meaning.


    Elegy IV contains a most significant reference to the theatre, where Bacon is stated to have renovated philosophy by means of Comedy and Tragedy. Bacon restored philosophy and rebuilt it from its foundations, brick by brick, stone by stone, being willing to become a "hodman" in this work. "Our hope is to begin the whole labour of the mind again", he says. One of the chief methods he employed was that noted in Elegy IV, where he is described as renovating philosophy in the shoes of comedy. In this elegy there is a significant reference to the lyre of Orpheus. Bacon, by his dramatic art, effected for philosophy what the King of Thebes is reputed to have done for that city when he rebuilt it: "Did not Amphion's lyre the deaf stones call When they came dancing to the Theban wall?" (Campion's Mask in honour of the Lord Hayes, 1607). "So too, Verulam restored, boasts new walls, and thence hopes for its ancient renown" (Elegy XXXII).
    It may be asked what is known of Bacon's connection with the theatre? It is, of course, well known that he was a great organizer of masques at Gray's Inn. For instance, in 1588 he collaborated with Sir Christopher Yelverton in producing The Misfortunes of Arthur, and in 1594 at the Christmas Revels at Gray's Inn he was the principal organizer of the merrymakings. One of the masques, the mimic Prince of Purpoole, represented a mock meeting of the Privy Council. In 1613-1614 he was responsible for a masque given jointly by Gray's Inn and the Inner Temple to celebrate the marriage of the King's daughter, Elizabeth (the Winter Queen), to Frederick V, the Count Palatine. In the following winter he is said to have spent upwards of 2,000 pounds in organizing a Masque of Flower. A few years afterwards, when he was Lord Chancellor, he dined at Gray's Inn "to give countenance to" the Christmas Revels of 1617-1618, in the course of which a Masque was played by Members of the Inn before the King.
    How could Bacon renovate philosophy by means of the theatre? Here we impinge on the heart of this aspect of the Baconian case, and it will be necessary to explain the hypothesis on which this stands, which is that Bacon wrote the plays known as Shakespeare's, though probably with the assistance of other writers who did some of the hack work. The opinion held by Baconians is that Bacon wished to insinuate his philosophic teaching by means of the Drama.

      In The Advancement of Learning (Book II) he says:
  And as Alexander Borgia was wont to say of the expedition of the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark up their lodgings, and not with weapons to fight; so I like better that entry of truth which cometh peaceably with chalk to mark up their minds which are capable to lodge and harbour it, than that which cometh with pugnacity and contention.   
    In 1607, Bacon wrote a tract in Latin called Cogitata et Visa which was the forerunner of the Novum Organum. It was not printed until twenty-seven years after his death. In 1857, Spedding discovered a manuscript of this work in the Library of Queen's College, which contained passages concerning the representations of the human passions that had been suppressed in the printed edition. Bacon says [passions should be described] by means of "visible representation" and observes: "Nothing else can be devised that would place in a clearer light what is true and what is false, or show more plainly that what is presented is more than words." He goes on to say that,
  when these writings have been put forth and seen I do not doubt that more timid wits will shrink almost in despair from imitating them with similar productions, with other materials or on other subjects, and they will take so much delight in the specimens given that they will miss the precepts in them. Still, many persons will be led to inquire into the real meaning and highest use of these writings, and to find the key to their interpretation and thus more ardently desire, in some degree at least, to acquire the new aspect of nature which such a key will reveal. But I intend yielding neither to my own aspirations nor to the wishes of others, but keeping steadily in view the success of my undertaking, having shared these writings with some, to withhold the rest until the treatise intended for the people shall be published.   
    To effect this teaching it was necessary to suppress his name, as has been noted by Mr. Parker Woodward writing on Bacon's New Method. He writes:
  Directly men were aware that the main purpose of the published plays was not so much to entertain them as to put them to school, the New Method was certain to become a failure. Long and patient trial of the system could alone attain success. To disclose the author was to reveal the schoolmaster, whose work would be resented as an impertinence by those for whom it was most fit.   
    Nor must we forget the important place and function assigned to William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon in the subtly conceived and elaborately planned New Method of Francis Bacon, in which the actor was an essential component. Indeed, without a mask, Bacon's plan for his Instauratio Magna would not have been possible. William Shakspere was a necessary feature in the vast scheme of Bacon's philosophic experiment which had the world for its theatre, ages for its accomplishment, and posterity for its beneficiaries. Shakspere appears to have faithfully carried out his difficult task.
      In Book II of De Augmentis Scientiarium Bacon says:
  Dramatic poesy, which has the theatre for its world, would be of excellent use if well directed. For the stage is capable of no small influence both of discipline and of corruption. Now of corruption in this kind we have enough; but the discipline has in our times been plainly neglected.   
Was it to supply this deficiency that "the treatise intended for the people" was to be published?
    In his Distributio Operis, Bacon tells us that examples are to be presented "by actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind, and the whole fabric and order of invention from beginning to end in certain subjects, and those various and remarkable, should be set as it were before the eyes." The stage appears the only medium for this method of presentation. It has been wisely written: "Le vice radical de la philosophie c'est de ne pouvoir parler au coeur," and this saying aptly sums up Bacon's reason for using the stage as a means of popularizing his philosophy. He could not expect the majority to read or understand his philosophic writings, but he could appeal to the multitude by means of the stage. Being a moral philosopher, he understood well enough that "the pen of the tongue should be dipped in the ink of the heart." Bacon, who is fond of using the stage as an illustration, says in the Novum Organum (Aphorism LXII):
  And in the plays of this philosophical theatre you may observe the same thing which is found in the theatre of the poets, that stories invented for the stage are more compact and elegant, and more as one would wish them to be, than true stories out of history.   
    Many men eminent in Literature have testified to similarities between Bacon's philosophy and Shakespeare's drama as the following quotations will show:
      The wisdom displayed in Shakespeare is equal in profoundness to the great Lord Bacon's Novum Organum. (Hazlitt)

    He seems to have written his Essays with the pen of Shakespeare. (Alexander Smith)

    There is an understanding manifested in the construction of Shakespeare's plays equal to that in Bacon's Novum Organum. (Carlyle)

    The philosophical writings of Bacon are suffused and saturated with Shakespeare's thought. (Gerald Massey)

Other quotations supporting this view could be given but these will suffice to indicate that men, whose reputations entitle their opinions to respect, perceived likeness if not identity between the writings of the Philosopher and the Dramatist.
      It has been asserted that the Comedies, Histories and Tragedies form the fourth, fifth and sixth parts of the Instauratio Magna, the Great Restoration of Learning. In England, Germany, and America, students have independently come to this conclusion; and, like all truth, the more it is examined the more it becomes established. That such a contention is not popular among the majority of scholars does not make it any less true. There is nothing new in this emotional reaction of ignorance to truth: it took the world many years to abandon the Ptolemaic conception of the Earth's relation to its neighbours, and to accept the doctrine of Copernicus.
    There are great difficulties in accepting the orthodox view of authorship. The chief one, perhaps, is the improbability that the plays, replete as they are with learning, should have as author a man who is not proved to have had even a grammar school education. Schlegel, the German critic, amazed at the extent of the knowledge and depth of philosophy contained in the plays of Shakespeare, did not hesitate to declare the generally received account of his life to be "a mere fabulous story, a blind extravagant error." On the other hand Leigh Hunt delivers himself thus: "Shakespeare, though he had not a College education was learned as any man, in the highest sense of the word by a scholarly intuition; he had the spirit of learning." If learning can be obtained on such cheap terms many harassed parents would doubtless be glad of the recipe: "So may long use with studious thought combined, The scholar and the critic both make blind."
    Critics of this sort suffocate research in order that everything shall accord with the traditional belief in Shakespeare's authorship and come within the orbit of Stratford-on-Avon. They drag Truth captive at the wheels of their chariots and constrain her to accommodate herself to their views; they have locked up the temple of real knowledge of the Plays and their Author and thrown away the key. Some of them are like the travelers of Edward Lear's verses who have gone for a long voyage in "a beautiful peagreen boat." When they accept and utilize the doubtful traditions which infect Shakespearean criticism, Shakespeare becomes to these wise owls the beautiful "pussycat" of their imagination. But even the owl and the pussycat had to borrow a ring from a pig before they could get married!


    Let us leave the theatre and turn to the claims made in these elegies that Bacon was a great poet. Elegy V contains a reference to Pegasus, the winged steed of the Muses, and is similar to most of the other poems in its poetic imagery and symbolism: the references to Bacon's poetic supremacy are constantly recurring in them. Bacon is hailed as "the day star of the Muses" in XVIII. Elegy XXIII claims Bacon as "the leader of the choir of the Muses and of Phoebus". In XX he is apostrophized as "The Tenth Muse and glory of the choir." Surely no greater tribute could have been paid to any poet, including Shakespeare himself, to whom the following verse was addressed:

  Thou wert truly priest elect Chosen darling of the Nine,
Such a trophy to erect By thy wit and skill divine,
That were all their other glories, Thine excepted, torn away,
By thy admirable stories Their garments ever would be gay.
It is unnecessary to enumerate further these tributes to Bacon's poetic genius which are scattered so lavishly throughout the Manes, for they are there for those who run to read.
      It may be objected by some readers that among the few known specimens of Bacon's poetry, his versification of "Certain Psalms" do not suggest the qualities of a supreme poet. But in this connection it should be remembered, firstly, that the medium in which he worked put considerable restraint on his genius; and, secondly, that his verses have been preferred to those of Milton when he attempted a similar feat. It should be noted that Bacon versified these psalms from a sick bed in his declining years.
    With the exception of this example of Bacon's poetic powers, we seem to have little or nothing of his acknowledged poetry except his Farewell to Fortune, which has also been attributed to George Peele. But must it not be admitted that Bacon's prose is in many places extremely poetic in form?
    It is not only the contributors to the Manes Verulamiani among Bacon's contemporaries who acclaim him as a poet. Thomas Campion, a physician who is better known for his exquisite songs and lyrics, addressed an epigram to Bacon, who was then (1619) Lord Chancellor:
Ad Ampliss. Totius Angliae Cancellarium. FR. BA.

    Quantus ades, seu te spinosa Volumina juris Seu schola, seu dulcis Musa (Bacone) vocat! Quam super ingenti tua re Prudentia regnat! Et tota aethereo nectare lingua madens! Quam bene cum tacita nectis gravitate lepores! Quam semel admissis stat tuus almus amor. (Tho. Campiani, Epigrammatum. Lib II.)

    How great stand'st thou before us, whether the thorny volumes of the Law Or the Academy, or the sweet Muses call thee, O Bacon! How thy prudence rules over great affairs! And thy whole tongue is moist with celestial nectar! How well combinest thou merry wit with silent gravity! How firmly thy love stands by those once admitted to it.

    Another tribute in a similar vein was addressed to Bacon by John Davies of Hereford (not to be confused with Sir John Davies) in 1610:

To the royall, ingenious, and all learned Knight,
Sir Francis Bacon.

Thy bounty and the Beauty of thy Witt
Comprisd in Lists of Law and learned Arts,
Each making thee for great Imployment fitt
Which now thou hast (though short of thy deserts)
Compells my pen to let fall shining Inke
And to bedew the Baies that deck thy Front;
And to thy health in Helicon to drinke
As to her Bellamour the Muse is wont:
For thou dost her embozon; and dost use
Her company for sport twixt grave affaires:
So utterst Law the livelyer through thy Muse.
And for that all thy Notes are sweetest Aires;
   My Muse thus notes thy worth in ev'ry Line,
   With yncke which thus she sugers; so to shine.

    In 1645 there was printed The Great Assises Holden in Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours. Bacon, Lord Verulam, is named as "Chancellor of Parnassus". This satirical poem, which was printed in pamphlet form, is generally attributed to George Withers (1588-1667).
      There is no need to quote further from Bacon's friends and contemporaries, but reference may be made to Bacon's own admissions, which were not intended for other eyes than the addressees. In 1603, Sir John Davies set out to meet James VI of Scotland, to accompany him on his journey to London on his accession to the Crown of England as James I. Bacon wrote a letter sending his commendations to the King, which Davies was asked to deliver. The letter concludes, "so desiring you to be good to concealed poets". About 1595 (the letter is undated), he wrote to the Earl of Essex: "I am neither much in appetite (for office) nor much in hope; for, as for appetite, the Waters of Parnassus are not like the Waters of the Spaw that give a stomach, but rather they quench appetite and desires." It appears from this letter that Bacon was much occupied with the Muses: at the time of writing this letter he does not seem to have had much hope of advancement in his profession. In a letter to the courtier-poet, Lord Henry Howard, written about 1601, Bacon reminded him: "We have both tasted of the best waters, in my account to knit minds together."
    Lord Henry Howard, second son of the poetical Earl of Surrey, went to Trinity College in Cambridge (Bacon's College), and became Chancellor of the University in 1612. He built Northumberland House in the Strand, where the Northumberland Manuscript was discovered in 1867. In it, Bacon's and Shakespeare's names and writings are found in close association.
      But it was not Bacon's contemporaries alone who have hailed him as a poet, as the following selection of quotations will show:
      The poetic faculty was powerful in Bacon's mind. (Macaulay)

    Bacon was a poet. His language has a sweet and majestic rhythm, which satisfies the sense, no less than the almost superhuman wisdom of his philosophy satisfies the intellect. It is a strain which distends and then bursts the circumference of the reader's mind and pours itself forth together with it into the universal element with which it has perpetual sympathy. (Shelly)

    We have only to open The Advancement of Learning to see how the Attic bees clustered above the cradle of the new philosophy. Poetry pervaded the thoughts, it inspired the similes, it hymned in the majestic sentences of the wisest of mankind. (Bulwer Lytton)

    The truth is that Bacon was not without the fine frenzy of a poet.... Had his genius taken the ordinary direction, I have little doubt that it would have carried him to a place among the great poets. (Spedding)

Other testimonies to the same effect could be cited, but these must suffice as evidence of his poetical gifts in the estimation of those qualified to express opinions.


    Elegy XXIV says: "You have filled the world with your writings, and the ages with your fame." Elegy XV makes the claim that a portion of Bacon's writings lie buried (pars sepulta jacet) and IX refers to "the precious gem of concealed literature" (reconditarum et gemma pretiosa literarum). These references, or at least the first two, make Archbishop Tenison's remark in Baconiana (1679) significant, where he writes that "those who have true skill in the works of Lord Verulam, like great masters of painting, can tell by the design, the way of colouring, whether he was the author of this or the other piece, though his name be not on it." Tenison gives point to Bacon's dedication to King James of the De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623) where he addresses the King as follows:
  To speak truth of myself, I have often wittingly and willingly neglected the glory of my own name and learning (if such thing be) both in the works I now publish, and those I contrive for hereafter, whilst I study to advance the good and profit of mankind.   
    We are told (XXII), Dum scripturivit multum Verulamius Heros, imbuit et Crebris saecla Voluminibus, that the Verulam Sage was filled with desire of writing and enriched the ages with crowds of books. It may be objected that Bacon's acknowledged works are referred to and that those were sufficient to account for the reference. If anyone will examine this contention, he will find that, excluding Variorum editions and the comments of Editors, the whole of Bacon's acknowledged works would fill only four good sized octavo volumes. Where then are the crowds of books to which allusion is made?

      Another objection likely to be raised is that Bacon was far too busy a man to have the necessary time for writing many more books than those he acknowledged. The reply to this is that in his earlier days he was often at leisure through lack of employment. Spedding notes there were periods when he remained secluded in his chambers in Gray's Inn.
    With regard to the first objection we would instance the literary fecundity of Lopez Felix de Vega who, it is stated, often wrote a play in the course of a single day. He sometimes wrote a comedy in the course of five hours and his compositions comprise upwards of seventy volumes! In addition to this, he was admitted to Orders by Pope Urban VIII, who bestowed upon him the degree of D.D. How was this vast productiveness which is claimed for Bacon achieved? How and by whom was the cost of production defrayed?
    Not one person in a hundred could read, or write his or her name (this illiteracy even extended to Shakspere's family): there was only a small reading public. There are a large number of books of this period which are of doubtful authorship or which bear initials that cannot be identified. Sometimes names of actual individuals were placed on books, but research has proved conclusively that some of these reputed authors had nothing to do with them beyond lending their names. The Anatomy of Melancholy, an "Anthology of Depression" as it has been called, appeared under the pseudonym of "Democritus Junior." It was only at the conclusion of the work that the author cut the strings of his visor and revealed himself as Rupert Burton. Anonymity, pseudonymity and cryptonymity was common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Burton writes: "I intended at first to conceal myself, but second thoughts etc." Many books which appeared during this period could not have realized by sale one tenth of their cost: they were produced with the object, it is submitted, of furthering the advance of knowledge in all sorts of subjects.
    Bacon was constantly in the habit of borrowing money, even in the time of his prosperity, as may be seen by an examination of his accounts published by Spedding. He was imprisoned for debt in 1597, the same year the first edition of his Essays appeared -- was there any connection between these two events? It may be that his expenditure was largely concerned with the cost of printing books of various sorts, either written by him or by some of his "good pens".
    He knew that he was peculiarly fitted to do for English the work which Ronsard and his associates, known as the Pleiade, had accomplished for the French language. Was Bacon engaged in the same task here? In a letter to his uncle, Lord Burleigh, he writes: "I have taken all knowledge for my province." In a prayer written towards the close of his life he stated: "I have though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men."
    Bacon could not have performed the colossal task of creating a language and literature of such scope and beauty without assistance and organization. Who composed the "choir" (mentioned in three of the Elegies) which sang under the direction of the master musician?
      As early as 1594, there is a reference to the existence of a scrivenery and staff of skilled penmen maintained by Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony, at Twickenham. This house was presented to Francis by the Earl of Essex. It is believed that this scriptorium was originally at Gray's Inn, but was moved to Twickenham to ensure privacy and to escape the London plague. A "Richard Field" is named among those who fled with Bacon to Twickenham at the outbreak of plague in 1594. Was he the same Richard Field who printed Venus and Adonis in 1595 and the Rape of Lucrece in 1594? Another reason why Twickenham was superior to Gray's Inn was that it was away from the meddlesome attentions of the Scrivener's Company, which held a rigorous monopoly within the jurisdiction of the City of London.
    The scrivenery of the two Bacons was used not only for literary work and copying, but also for ciphering and deciphering letters and political dispatches. Both brothers organized an intelligence service on behalf of the Earl of Essex in opposition to the Cecils -- Lord Burleigh and his son Robert, afterwards Earl of Salisbury, who were largely responsible for keeping Francis Bacon from the preferment which his abilities so notably merited. This intelligence service was responsible for the conviction and execution of Dr. Lopez, the Queen's physician, for High Treason in an alleged attempt to poison her. The Queen appears to have been sceptical as to the truth of the charge, but this did not prevent the unfortunate man from being tried at the Guildhall in February, 1594, and being executed at Tyburn on 7th June following.
    An extant letter of Bacon's is addressed to Thomas Phillips, who may be represented by the initials T.P., which sign Elegy XI. This Phillips is described as "the decipherer" and Bacon's letter which is dated 14th February, 1592 begs him to come to Twickenham on a visit: "the longer the more welcome, otia colligunt mentem.... In sadness come as you are an honest man." Perhaps there was work for the decipherer?
    Allusions to both forms of activity are fairly frequent in the correspondence of the brothers. On 25th January, 1594/5, Francis writes to Anthony:
  I have here an idle pen or two, especially one that was cozened, thinking to have got some money this term. I pray you send me somewhat else for them to write out beside your Irish collection which is almost done.   
    There are references to this scriptorium in 1596 and 1601. In 1623 Francis Bacon wrote to Sir Tobie Mathew: "My labours are now most set to have those works, which I had formerly published, well translated into Latin by the help of some good pens which forsake me not." The letter was apparently sent from Gorhambury. We have little information about these "good pens". According to Archbishop Tenison, Ben Jonson was one of them; others were Thomas Hobbes the philosopher, Thomas Bushell, perhaps Thomas Phillips referred to above, and also apparently William Atkins (His Lordship's Domestic Attendant) who wrote Elegy XXXI. John Florio may also have been of their number.
      John Aubrey records that on the grounds of Gorhambury, Bacon "dictated to Mr. Bushell, or some other of his gentlemen that attended him with ink and paper, ready to set down presently his thoughts". Peter Boener, another household retainer and Bacon's private apothecary, says of his master that he
  seldom saw him take up a book: he only ordered his chaplain (Dr. Rawley, who collected the Manes ) and me to look in such and such an author for a certain place and then he dictated to us early in the morning what he had invented and composed during the night.   
    The same authority tells us that such was the exuberance of Bacon's imagination, "His Lordship would often drinke a good draught of strong beer (March beer) to bedwards, to lay his working fancy asleep: which otherwise would keepe him from sleeping great part of the night". And further: "His Lordship would many time have musique in the next roome where he meditated." It may well have been under the inspiration of music that Bacon composed some of his greatest work. The inspirational power of music is well known to writers, and it is believed that Milton made use of it to aid composition.
    Bacon's relations with his literary assistants were of a most intimate and affectionate nature. This is not only apparent from the Manes, but Spedding states that several of Bacon's manuscripts are endorsed "ad Filios," those "Aurorae Filii," as Bacon called them. The "sons" who wrote the Manes were nearly all young scholars through whom Bacon hoped to hand on the lamp to the next generation, and so to posterity. Some light is thrown by an entry in Bacon's memoranda book, Transportata:
  Layeing for a place to command wits and pennes, Westminster, Eton, Wynchester; Specially Trinity Coll., Cam., St. John's, Cam., Maudlin. Oxford. Qu. Of young scholars in ye Universities. It must be post nati: Giving pensions to four, to compile two histories ut supra. Foundac: Of a college for inventors, Library, Inginary. Qu. Of the order and discipline, the rules and praescripts touching secrecy, traditions, and publication.   
    Some Baconians have claimed a large portion of the best literature of the period for Bacon and they have been singled out for ridicule by the orthodox. But these claims do not appear extravagant in view of the evidence supporting that conclusion which is supplied by the Manes. A new approach to Elizabethan and Jacobean literature should be made.
      In spite of Bacon's plans, preparations, and hopes for the continuation of his work, a rapid decline set in immediately after his death in 1626. There was nobody to take his place: "The daystar of the Muses has set before his hour" (XVIII). "The Verulamian star now glitters in ruddy Olympus" (XXIII). Or, to express the idea of a transfer of literary honours from Shakspere (or Shakespeare as popularly supposed) to Bacon: "The star of Shakespeare pales, but brighter far Burns through the dusk, an ampler star." Ben Jonson noted this with grief in his Discoveries. He wrote of Bacon as:
  He who hath filled up all numbers and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits born that could honour a language or help study. Now things daily fall; wits grow downward and eloquence grows backward, so that he may be named and stand as the mark and acme of our language.   


    Having discussed the means by which Bacon could have justified the claim made on his behalf to have filled the world with his writings (XXIV), let us turn to a consideration of the air of secrecy which is everywhere apparent in the Manes. This has already been touched upon in a previous reference to Dr. Rawley's introductory verses to the Manes and The Advancement of Learning (1640 and 1674 editions). The whole collection of these elegies is pervaded with veiled allusions and acroamatic hints that excite curiosity and stimulate research, which was probably partly their object.
    The writers appear to be anxious to give information and yet are at the same time under some powerful restraint -- perhaps a promise, made during the life of the man whose death they lament in such lavish terms? This atmosphere of secrecy makes the whole of the Manes Verulamiani a veritable whispering gallery where, one feels, Fame has her trumpet to her lips and would fain sound a fanfare and announce a name, but is held back from making any proclamation by a conspiracy of silence. One is reminded of the stained glass window in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, which depicts Bacon and Newton before George III with a symbolic figure of Fame sounding her trumpet in the background. When Shakspere died in 1616, no poet or writer lifted pen or voice to sound his praise: he was, as Dr. Ingleby long since observed, "unknown to the men of his age". If elegies similar to the Manes Verulamiani had appeared on the death of the Actor, they would have been accepted as proof of his identity with the great poet and would have constituted a formidable obstacle to any who would have sought to remove the bays from his brow. They would have been reprinted many times and no Baconian theory would have raised its head to trouble the slumbers of orthodox scholars, or bewilder the literary reviewer, however wakeful and learned!
    In 1630, Thomas Powell wrote in The Attorney's Academy, under a portrait of Bacon:

O, give me leave to pull the curtain bye,
That clouds thy worth in such obscurity;
Good Seneca, stay but awhile thy bleeding,
T'accept what I received at thy reading.
Here I present it in a solemn strain:
And thus I pluck the curtain back again.

Was he the author, the T. P., of Elegy XI?
      After a selection of Elegies reprinted from the Manes Verulamiani in the 1640 Advancement of Learning, we find the following (translated from the Latin):
  In proper order would follow a description of the tomb of Verulam,the monument of the most noble Meautys, constructed in honour of his Lord by which act of piety (dutiful regard) he at once fittingly celebrated the dignity of his patron, whom after the fashion of but few, he honoured even after death. He thus wiped away the contumely of his country, and built a name for himself. These tombs have not yet been inspected, but an Interpreter will come. Meanwhile, reader, make thine own arrangements and go about thy business.

    Spreads like a tree in hidden growth the
    Fame of Bacon.

    It should be noted that the tombstone of Sir Thomas Meautys on the floor immediately in front of the chancel rail and facing Bacon's monument in St. Michael's Church, St. Albans, is only identifiable by the name at the head of what was apparently once a lengthy inscription, which has been deliberately chiseled and disfigured so as to be indecipherable. Perhaps the Latin inscription just quoted gives a clue to the reason for this mutilation!
    Thus there appears to be a mystery surrounding Bacon's place of sepulture! Elegy XIII contains the following intriguing passage:
  Something there is, which the next age will glory in; something there is, which is fit should be known to me alone: let it be your commendation to have outlined the frame with fair limbs, for which no one can wholly perfect the members: thus his unfinished work commends the artist Apelles, since no hand can finish the rest of his Venus. Nature having thus spoken and yielding to her blind frenzy cut short together the thread of his life and work. But you, who dare to finish the weaving of this hanging web, will alone know whom these memorials hide.   
    No one can read the above in conjunction with the mysterious inscription regarding Bacon's tomb and other cryptic references in the Manes, particularly that by Rawley in his introduction to the collection and that attributed to him in The Advancement of Learning, without recognizing that there is a mystery about Bacon which remains to be solved. Take the last sentence of XIII: the verse ostensibly concerns Bacon, and yet it is suggested that some other personality is hidden therein. Could it be his Alter Ego who "shook a lance at ignorance" -- Shakespeare?
      Disguise and secrecy appear to have been second nature to Bacon: he says of himself, "Mihi silentio" (of myself I am silent). Yet if Bacon was silent about himself, he did not lack admirers who appear wishful to inform posterity about his merits, as the following verse from The Mirror of State and Eloquence (1656) will show. The lines were inscribed under a portrait of Bacon:
  Grace, Honour, Vertue, Learning, Witt,
Are all within this porture Knitt;
And left to time that it may tell
What worth within this Peere did dwell.
    Bacon constantly quotes a passage from Proverbs in his works: "The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the King is to find it out" (25.2). In his Essay Of Simulation and Dissimulation, Bacon writes "that a Habit of Secrecy is both Politic and Moral". Further in the same essay we read:
  It followeth many times upon secrecy,
By a necessity:
So that he
That will be
Secret must be
A dissembler in some degree.
The lines have been set out in order to reveal the interior cryptic rhymes.
    Dr. Rawley, in his life of Bacon prefixed to Resuscitatio (1671), says of his master:
  The last five years of his life being withdrawn from Civil Affairs, and from an active life, he employ'd wholly in Contemplation and studies. A thing whereof his Lordship would often speak during his active life, as if he affected to die in the shadow and not in the light; which also may be found in several passages of his Works.   
    In a letter to Count Gondomar, Ambassador from the Court of Spain (dated 6th June, 1621), Bacon writes:
  Now that at once my age, my fortunes, and my genius, to which I have hitherto done but scanty justice, call me from the stage of active life, I shall devote myself to letters, instruct the actors on it, and serve posterity. In such a course, I shall, perhaps find honour. And I shall thus pass my life as within the verge of a better.   
    Dean Church in his Life of Bacon states that Bacon lived in the constant and almost unaccountable faith that his life would be understood and greatly honoured by posterity. This ambiguity in Bacon's life is further emphasized by a postscript written by Sir Tobie Mathew to Bacon around 1621: "The most prodigious wit that ever I knew of my nation, and of this side of the sea, is of your Lordship's name, though he be known by another." Is there no mystery about Bacon?
      He described himself as buccinator novi temporis (the herald of a new age), and further writes: "And since I have lost much time with this age, I would be glad, as God shall give me leave, to recover it with posterity." Bacon frequently appeals to Posterity; in his will he writes: "My name and memory I leave to foreign nations, and to mine own countrymen after some time be passed over."
    The title page of Bacon's New Atlantis (First Edition) shows Old Father Time with his scythe bringing his daughter to light out of a dark cave. Around the figures are the lines: "Occulta veritas tempore patet " (Hidden truth comes to light by time). The Fourth Edition has the following on the title page: "Veritas filia temporis " (Truth is the daughter of time). This reminds one of what Bacon writes concerning authors: "But so let great authors have their due, as time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is, farther and farther to discover truth."


    Great as Bacon was when considered by himself as a philosopher, statesman, and lawyer, if to this formidable list of accomplishments be added the immeasurable creations of the author of the Shakespeare plays, then a truly colossal figure emerges, one of whom Sir Tobie Mathew wrote the postscript to which we have already referred. Well might either Shakespeare the dramatist, or Bacon the philosopher, say in the former's words, though in a limited sense:

  No, no, I am but shadow of myself:
You are deceiv'd, my substance is not here
For what you see, is but the smallest part
And least proportion of humanity.
I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here
It is of such a spacious lofty pitch
Your roof were not sufficient to contain it.
(King Henry VI, I.ii.3)
    It is the contention of Baconians that Bacon's Instauratio Magna is composed of two parts. He wrote one part in the form of scientific prose and under his own name; he wrote the other, the parabolical part which was intended for the future of Humanity, in the form of dramas under the pseudonym William Shakespeare. It has been frequently noted that Shakespeare, as indicated by his works, and Bacon, as represented by his biographer and chaplain Dr. Rawley, shared a capacity for transmuting other men's ideas into something better than the originals. Mr. G. B. Harrison says of Shakespeare: "He had the alchemist's power of converting other men's copper into the finest gold." Dr. Rawley says of his master:
  I have often observed, and so have other men of great account, that if he had occasion to repeat another man's words after him, he had an use and faculty to dress them in better vestments and apparel than they had before; so that the author should find his own speech much amended, and yet the substance of it still retained; as if it had been natural to him to use good forms, as Ovid spake of his faculty of versifying:

    Et quod tentabam scribere, versus erat.
    (And what I was attempting to write, became verse.)

    It is not only in this particular that an identity is observable between Bacon and the author of the Shakespeare Plays. The late Dr. Melsome, in a recently published book, has demonstrated this in regard to similarity of views expressed and other parallels. These two supposedly distinct individuals exhibit the same characteristics in their writings, as testified by not one, but many eminent writers who possessed the necessary qualifications to express opinions which must carry weight. They thus raise a strong prima facie case for the assumption that the philosophic works of Bacon and the Plays known as Shakespeare's proceeded from one hand, one brain, one heart -- a case of literary integration!
      To give a further quotation in which Bacon appeals to posterity, we cite: "And whether I shall have accomplished all this I appeal to future time." Isaac D'Israeli describes Bacon in these words: "This servant of Posterity, as he prophetically called himself, sustained his mighty spirit with the confidence of his posthumous greatness. Ever were the times succeeding in his mind." He was, indeed, one of those men who "build great mornings for the world."
    It is obvious that the contributors to the Manes looked to Posterity to discover a secret about Bacon which they were not themselves in a position to reveal. It is clear also that they held him in the deepest veneration, so much so that mere words were scarcely adequate to express not only their admiration, but, one might add, their affection. These expressions receive additional proof from what Sir Tobie Mathew writes of Bacon in a dedicatory letter prefixed to an Italian translation of the Essays and Wisdom of the Ancients, addressed to the Grand Duke of Tuscany:
  It is not his greatness that I admire, but his virtues; it is not the favours I have received from him (infinite though they be) that have thus enthralled and enchained my heart, but his whole life and character; which are such, that were he an inferior condition I could not honour him less, and were he mine enemy, I should not the less love and endeavour to serve him.   
    It is not Macaulay's Bacon whom his friend is extolling, for such a man never existed, except in that Historian's exuberant and rhetorical imagination. Dr. Rawley writes of Bacon: "I have been induced to think, that if there were a Beam of Knowledge derived from God upon any Man in these Modern Times it was upon him."
    If, therefore, we substitute Francis Bacon for William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon and place the former in the Temple of Fame instead, we are exalting no Idol of the Theatre or Market Place, but a figure which admirably fits the niche hitherto occupied by one with whom we find it impossible to marry the Plays, which are the glory of the English language. That a perusal of the Manes Verulamiani in a judicial frame of mind, untrammelled by tradition and received opinion, will at least raise doubts as to the authorship of the Shakespeare Plays and at the same time inspire a reconsideration of the popular opinion of Bacon's character, we cannot doubt. To some readers these elegies may be entirely new, and therefore a revelation. As George L. Craik says of Bacon: "There is something about him not fully understood or discerned which, in spite of all curtailments of his claims in regard to one special kind of eminence or another, still leaves the sense of his eminence as strong as ever."
    We end as we began this Introduction, in announcing our object of producing this volume in facsimile to be inspired by a desire to draw renewed attention to the Manes VerulamianI, to the end that these tributes to Bacon's genius may not pass into oblivion. In particular, we wish that the claims made on his behalf in them, where he is hailed as a great poet, may receive the consideration that the contributors intended they should obtain. We ask that the case here presented may be examined in an unprejudiced spirit, not only by qualified scholars, but also by that larger educated public which is, and always must be, the chief support of Literature. If our contention is investigated in the spirit which we expect from impartial readers, we can await their verdict with the same confidence that our conclusions are as well grounded as that which inspired Francis Bacon when he addressed himself to Posterity: "I have raised up a light in the obscurity of Philosophy which will be seen centuries after I am dead."
    And so to the empanelled jury of our readers we confidently leave our case and cause, with Truth in the seat of judgment -- that same Truth which was the subject of Bacon's first Essay, which begins with the pregnant question: "What is Truth?"

    W. G. C. Gundry, 1950

    (Copies of this book and other Baconian publications by the English Journal Baconiana may be obtained from T. D. Bokenham, Chairman, the Francis Bacon Society, 56 Westbury Rd., New Malden, Surrey KT3 5AX, England.)