« السابقةمتابعة »
at variance with the truth, as any person who has perused the “ Venus and Adonis,” Lucrece,” and the Sonnets, will at once admit. It is equally false to assert that Shakespeare did not claim the authorship of these dramas. He allowed them to be published with his name affixed to them, not denying his right to be regarded as their author, although he condemned the illegal manner in which copies had been obtained by greedy publishers ; he received and accepted various and numerous tributes of commendation, not only from friends and associates, but even from statesmen and rulers; and he permitted bis contemporaries to give him the credit of having penned these inimitable productions without offering a remonstrance.
If these do not constitute a claim to their authorship, and one that cannot be upset, save by unimpeachable evidence, we should be glad to know upon what grounds we can attribute any works we may possess to any particular writer. If the summary of Mr. William Henry Smith's arguments is to be enshrined in “Notes and Queries,” or any other periodical published in the United Kingdom, let the refutation, which is simple enough, be placed at its side, that the younger wayfarers on the great highroads of learning may not be led astray, even for a moment, by what we cannot honour with a better term than the flimsiest productions of a disordered brain.
Mr. William Henry Smith quotes wbat he calls " these remarkable words," from Lord Bacon's will : “My name and memory I leave to foreign nations; and to my own countrymen, after some time be passed over.” That this passage contains no secret allusion to the authorship of Shakespeare's plays must be evident to any one acquainted with Lord Bacon's history. He merely expressed a hope that the lapse of time might set him right with posterity, and that the conduct which led to his dismissal from office, degradation, and amercement, might at some future day be regarded in a more favourable light. He trusted that the stain that blotted his lofty repu
tation, and somewhat tarnished the splendour of his deeds, might, after a short interval, be removed, and that his countrymen would some day consider him great in the true acceptation of the term. Moreover, Lord Bacon needed not the credit of having written the dramas of Shakespeare : his renown is colossal ; and of all Englishmen he has the least to gain by filching from the reputations of others.
Mr. William Henry Smith brings his pamphlet to a close with the following letter.
“ To the Lord Viscount St. Alban. “ MOST HONOURED LORD.-I have received your great and noble token and favour of the 9th of April, and can but return the bumblest of my thanks for your Lordship’s vouchsafing so to visit this poorest and unworthiest of your servants.
It doth me good at heart, that, although I be not where I was in place, yet I am in the fortune of your Lordship's favour, if I may call that fortune, which Í observe to be so unchangeable. I pray hard, that it may once come in my power to serve you for it; and who can tell, but that, as fortis imaginatio generat casum, so strange desires
as much ? Sure I am, that mine are ever waiting on your Lordship ; and wishing as much happiness, as is due to your incomparable virtue, I humbly do your Lordship reverence. “Your Lordship’s most obliged and humble servant,
“ TOBIE MATTHEW. “Postc.— 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.”
The Italics in the last line are Mr. William Henry Smith's; and although that gentleman does not condescend to offer note, comment, or explanation, either upon the epistle itself or its author, he evidently wishes his
readers to draw the conclusion, from the words which he has underlined, that Lord Bacon wrote the dramas of Shakespeare, and that to Sir Tobie Matthew the secret of their authorship was intrusted.
The epistle is inserted by Dr. Thomas Birch, among Letters, Speeches, Charges, Advices, &c. of Francis Bacon,
;"* and may be found, with some others, at the end of the volume. Dr. Birch says of them :-“The following letters, wanting both dates and circumstances to determine such dates, are placed together.” The communication is not of the slightest consequence, nor does it contain one tittle of evidence in support of Mr. William Henry Smith's theory. But its author played a rather prominent part in his day and generation, was very intimate with Lord Bacon; therefore some account of him may be acceptable to many readers, and will also serve to convince them, that had he possessed such information as that to which Mr. William Henry Smith alludes, it would long since have been given to the world.
Tobie Matthew, the son of Dr. Tobie Matthew, bishop of Durham, and afterwards archbishop of York, was born at Oxford, in 1578, his father being at that time dean of Christchurch. In a letter to Sir Thomas Chaloner, Bacon styles him “my very good friend," and "a very worthy young gentleman;" and Anthony Wood (Athena Oxonienses, vol. iii. p. 403) says that he had all his father's name, and many of his natural parts; was also one of considerable learning, good memory, and sharp wit, mixed with a pleasant affability in behaviour, and a seeming sweetness of mind, though sometimes, according to the company he was in, pragmatical, and a little too forward.”
Whilst travelling upon the continent, Mr. Matthew was induced, by the influence, it is said, of the Jesuit Father Parsons, to abandon the religion of his family and country, and to become a Roman Catholic. This did not diminish
* London, 1763, p. 392.
the friendship between him and Bacon, although it is probably in reference to this perversion that the latter wrote the following touching epistle, which has been published, but without date :*
“Do not think me forgetfull or altered towards you. But if I should say I could do you any good, I should make my power more then it is. I do fear that which I am right sorry for,—that you grow more impatient and busie then at first ; which makes me exceedingly fear the issue of that which seemeth not to stand at a stay. I myself am out of doubt that you have been miserably abused when you were first seduced ; and that which I take in compassion, others may take in severity. I pray God, that understands us all better then we understand one another, continue you, as I hope he will, at least, within the bounds of loyalty to his Majesty, and natural piety to your Country. And I intreat you much to meditate sometimes upon the effect of Superstition in this last Powder-Treason; fit to be tabled and pictured in the Chambers of Meditation, as another Hell above the ground ; and well justifying the censure of the Heathen ; that Superstition is far worse than Atheism ; by how much it is less evil to have no opinion of God at all, then such as are impious towards his divine Majesty and good
Good Mr. Matthews receive your self back from these courses of Perdition. Willing to have written a great deal more, I continue, &c."
Controversy in those times ran high, and as Tobie Matthew was unwilling to take the oath of allegiance, he quitted England in 1609. In July, 1617, he obtained permission to return, but was again compelled to depart in October, 1618. In a letter written at Brussels, during this second exile, he thus addresses Lord Bacon :
* Scrinia Sacra : Secrets of Empire, in Letters of Illustrious Persons; a Supplement to the Cabala, 1654, p. 67.
“Most Honoured Lord, I am here at good leisure to look back upon your Lordship’s great and noble goodness towards me,
which may go for a great example in this age; and so it doth. That, which I am sure of, is, that my poor heart, such as it is, doth not only beat, but even boil in the desires it hath to do your Lordship all humble service.” *
He was recalled in 1622 to lend his assistance in forwarding the match with Spain; and for his exertions in furtherance of the same, was knighted by James I., at Royston, on the 10th of October, 1623. He died in a Jesuit College at Ghent, in Flanders, October 13, 1655. Tobie Matthew is said to have been a man of “
very good parts and literature, but of an active and restless temper." His change of religion seems to have deeply affected Lord Bacon, who with reference to that subject in another of his letters, thus addresses him :
“For in good faith, I do conceive hope, that you will so govern your self, as we may take you as assuredly for a good Subject, and Patriot, as you take your self for a good Christian. And so we may again enjoy your company,
and you your conscience, if it may no other ways be. For my part, assure your self (as we say in the law), mutatis mutandis, my love, and good wishes to you, are not diminished.”+
Whilst upon the continent, Tobie Matthew translated his friend's essays into the Italian language, and in his epistle to the duke of Florence, prefixed to that translation, refers to Lord Bacon in these terms :
“St. Austin said of his illegitimate son, Horrori mihi erat illud ingenium, and truly I have known a great
* Birch, Letters, &c., p. 225. + Letters of Sir Francis Bacon, collected by R. Stephens, 1702,