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in the Folio of 1623, in relation to Edgar's letter to Edmund, in Lear. Edmund says,
I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or task of my nature.
I have not included the example furnished by your correspondent. The allusion to perspectives in Richard II., and the simile of Actæon in Twelfth Night, are worthy of remark.
I send these in the hope that your correspondents will add to them.*
The learned and obliging correspondents of “Notes and Queries” may save themselves the trouble ; for innupierable instances of this description would not, more particularly in the teeth of the actual evidence we possess of Shakespeare's right to be regarded as the author of these plays, prop up the Baconian theory,
Anxious to meet Mr. William Henry Smith upon his own favourite and peculiar ground, we would ask, how is it possible that the slightest importance can be attached to these passages, paraded with so much satisfaction ? Were they word for word and line for line alike, they would not be sufficient to prove, nor could a hundred such coincidences be regarded as a proof, that Lord Bacon wrote the dramas of Shakespeare. The majority have not sufficient in common to be called parallel passages; and if we select those most entitled to the appellation, what do they establish ? Nothing more nor less than that Bacon did not hesitate to borrow an idea from his mighty contemporary. With views too exalted for the comprehension of the smaller fry of critics, the founder of the new philosophy was not afraid of showing that great
* Notes and Queries, Second Series, No. 52, p. 503. The punctuation in these quotations is wretched ; and why should the reference to particular acts and scenes be given in some instances and not in others ?
minds may put forth similar ideas and sentiments without dread of incurring a charge of plagiarism.
We cannot admit that these are parallel passages : were we willing to do so, the admission would be of no advantage to Mr. William Henry Smith. His quotations might show that Bacon had borrowed from Shakespeare: this is their only moral. With one exception, which shall be noticed in due course, their testimony is to this effect. Nos. 2 and 10 contain passages from essays written by Lord Bacon, which were not published until some years after Shakespeare's death, and the appearance of the first folio. The essays on Buildings and on Adversity are not found in any edition of Bacon's Essays previous to 1625. A pretty fact this to bring forward in favour of a theory that Lord Bacon wrote the dramas of Shakespeare. He might have seen them acted, and conned them over in his library hundreds of times, before he put forth a composition tinged with the magic hues of some of their richest thoughts. In the quotations given under No. 1, a certain degree of similarity will be found to exist between a passage in the “ Advancement of Learning," and the comedy of “ Twelfth Night.” Bacon's treatise was first published in 1605, whereas “Twelfth Night” had been acted as early as 1602, if not before. In No. 6 on the list, we find a sentiment in Bacon's Apophthegms, first published in 1625, which resembles a passage in the
Merry Wives of Windsor,” which was printed in 1602. Again, in No. 11, passages in “Richard II.," printed in 1597, and “Hamlet,” in 1603, are similar to a sentence in Bacon's “ Life of Henry the Seventh,” which was written in 1616, and published in 1622. These facts, if they prove anything at all, would, like those to which we have already alluded in Nos. 2 and 10, show that Lord Bacon had studied Shakespeare to some purpose.
“But,” Mr. William Henry Smith will probably exclaim, with an air of aggravated triumph,“you have not referred to the fifth instance in the list, in which a clear case of similarity is etablished between a passage Lord Bacon's
'Advancement of Learning,'first published in 1605, and one in 'Troilus and Cressida,' which did not appear till 1609!” Supposing—for we are willing to concede as much as possible, especially in a case in which all our concessions will not be of much advantage to our opponent-we attribute to this fact its highest importance, and grant that it clearly shows that Shakespeare borrowed that particular idea, or error, from Bacon, what can that possibly matter? We will, however, repeat the passage, in case any created being besides Mr. William Henry Smith should be foolish enough to imagine that it is worthy even of consideration.
In the “Advancement of Learning," first published, as we said before, in 1605, Bacon commits a strange blunder, in confounding the terms political and moral philosophy. Mr. William Henry Smith quotes it thus :—“Is not the opinion of Aristotle worthy to be regarded, where he saith that young men are not fit auditors of moral philosophy, because they are not settled from the boiling heat of their affections, nor attempered by time and experience.
Shakespeare, in the comedy of “ Troilus and Cressida,” which was not printed until 1609, though it had been previously acted, falls into precisely the same
* It is a well-known fact, that the “ Advancement of Learning" was first published in English, in two books. Bacon afterwards enlarged this work, divided it into nine books, and caused it to be translated into Latin. It was re-translated into English by Gilbert Wats, and published in 1640. There is a remarkable difference in the wording of this passage in the two treatises. Editions of 1605,1629, and 1633. Gilbert Wat's edition, 1640.
“Is not the opinion of Aris “It is not a wise opinion of totle worthy to be regarded, Aristotle, and worthy to be rewherein he saith, that young garded : That young men are no men are no fitte auditors of Mo fit auditors of Morall Philosophy, ral Philosophy, because they are because the boyling heat of their not setled from the boyling affections is not yet setled, nor atheate of their affections, nor at temperd with Time and Expetempered with Time and Expe rience.”-Book vii. rience?”-Book ii.
mistake. It occurs in Act ii. Scene 2, where he says,
Unfit to hear moral philosophy.” Aristotle, it appears, uses the term “political," not moral," as in these extracts. Therefore,” says Mr. William Henry Smith, “as both Bacon and Shakespeare misquote him, the plays of Shakespeare were written by Francis Bacon.” “O most lame and impotent conclusion !” Why a thousand such instances would not prove that Bacon was the author of Shakespeare. They might indeed convince some minds that the latter was a plagiarist, but could not be received as evidence that he did not write those wonderful dramas, the glory of our literature, and one of the wonders of the world.
Moreover, the similarity between many passages in the poems and plays of Shakespeare is much more striking than that pointed out in any of the afore-mentioned instances. In order to give our readers an idea of the manner in which Mr. William Henry Sinith may be worsted by his own weapons, we append thirteen illustrations, as a set-off against the same number which that sagacious Shakespearian critic communicated to "Notes and Queries."
We may as well remark that we have confined ourselves to this number, merely because we are unwilling to occupy more space with a theory that can lead to no positive results.
1. The use of the word “vail,” in the sense of " to lower.”
“Then like a melancholy malcontent,
He vailes his taile.”- Venus and Adonis.
The Merchant of Venice, i. 1.*
* These passages are taken verbatim from the first editions of
2. Employment of the term “ Eysell," or " Esile," which has raised such discussion amongst the commentators, and which Halliwell states to be an Anglo-Saxon word, meaning “ vinegar.”
“Whilst like a willing pacient I will drinke,
Sonnet cxi. “Woo't drinke up Esile, eate a Crocodile ?”
Hamlet, Act v. 2. 3. Peculiar use of the adjective "obsequious."
“How many a boly and obsequious teare
To do obsequious Sorrow.”—Hamlet, i. 2. 4. Use of the word “rack," vapour.
“Anon permit the basest cloudes to ride,
Leave not a racke behinde.”—Tempest, iv. 1. 5. Employment of the term “ rigoll” to denote “a circle, or wreath.”
“ About the mourning and congealed face
the “Lucrece" and the Sonnets, the second edition of the “ Venus and Adonis," and the folio edition, of 1623, of the Dramas.