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course of study (actually pursued by Bacon) in Henry IV. It is not surprising, therefore, that, on the supposition of Bacon's authorship, we should discover in two of the plays unmistakable marks of a great crisis in his life. These two are Timon of Athens and Henry VIII. They seemed to be filled, like ocean shells, with the dash and roar of waves. They were both printed for the first time in the Folio of 1623, the Timon never having been heard of before, and the other also, almost as certainly, a new production. An older play, entitled All is True, based on unknown incidents of the same reign, was on the boards of the Globe Theatre on the night of the fire in 1613, but we have no reason to believe that it was the magnificent Shakespearean drama of Henry VIII., at least in the form in which it was printed in the Folio ten years later.

The catastrophe that overwhelmed Bacon in 1621 was one of the saddest in the annals of our race. No wonder Timon hurls invectives at his false friends, and Cardinal Wolsey utters his grand, but pathetic, lament over fallen greatness! Such storms of feeling, sweeping over a human soul, must have gathered their force among the mountains and valleys of a mighty personal experience.

The most astonishing feature of this controversy is the light it has thrown on the literature of the Elizabethan age.

Among the great men who made that age famous, no one, with the exception of Jonson, seems to have taken any notice either of Shakespeare or of the sublime creations which bear his name. Bacon's silence, itself very significant, and Jonson's doubtful panegyrics are explained; but what shall we say of Raleigh, Drake, Herbert, Pym, and the rest? Imagine the inhabitants of Lilliput paying no attention to Gulliver!

"Since the constellation of great men who appeared in Greece in the time of Pericles, there was never any such society; yet their genius failed them to find out the best head in the universe." -Emerson.

The popular prejudice against the drama, behind which, as an almost impenetrable veil, the Shakespeare Plays were once hid, is only now passing away. Josiah Quincy tells us that, as late as in 1820, as whispered among the boys fitting for college at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., a professor in the neighboring theological seminary had among his books, to the evident jeopardy of his soul, the works of a playwright, named Shakespeare!

If Bacon was the author of the Shakespeare Plays, as it now appears probable that he was, it is difficult to exaggerate, in a literary point of view, the importance of the discovery. To our own countrywoman, Delia Bacon, belongs the everlasting honor, and also, alas! in the long line of the world's benefactors, the crown of martyrdom.



As counsel for defendant may be disposed at this point to demur to the evidence and thus take the case from the jury, we feel obliged to file a statement of facts and objections on the other side, arranged seriatim in the inverse. order of their importance, as follows:

1. From 1598, when the publication of the Plays ceased to be anonymous, to 1848, when Joseph C. Hart, an American, publicly initiated the doubt concerning their authorship, a period of two hundred and fifty years, the whole world, nem. con., attributed them to William Shakespeare.

No person

The Plays came into existence in obscurity. appears to have taken the slightest interest in their putative author. His very insignificance saved him from prosecution when the play of Richard II. was used by Essex for

treasonable ends.

And the same indifference to him con-
The critics were as

tinued for a long time after his death.
blind to the character of these great works as they were,
in the early part of the present century, to the merits of
Wordsworth, whom the most eminent of them at one time
flatly denounced as little better than an idiot. Wordsworth
now ranks as third in the list of British poets.

Mr. Appleton Morgan, in his brilliant contribution to the literature of this subject, reminds us of the general contempt in which the Plays were buried for about two hundred years. In 1661, Evelyn reports that they "begin to disgust this refined age." Pepys preferred Hudibras to Shakespeare, pronouncing Midsummer Night's Dream "the most insipid, ridiculous play" he had ever seen. In 1681, Tate, a poet who afterward wore the laurel, could find no epithet sufficiently opprobrious to express his opinion of "King Lear," and so he called it simply "a thing." In Hume's condemnation, Shakespeare and Bacon were yoked together as wanting in "simplicity and purity of diction." Addison styled the Plays "very faulty," and Johnson asserted, with his usual emphasis, that Shakespeare never wrote six consecutive lines without making an ass of himself." Dryden, though not without lucid intervals of high appreciation, still regarded Shakespeare and Fletcher as "below the dullest writers of our own or any preceding

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age," full of "solecisms of speech," "flaws of sense," and "ridiculous and incoherent stories meanly written." He disapproved altogether of Shakespeare's style, describing it as "pestered with figurative expressions," "affected" and "obscure." John Dennis thought himself competent to rewrite the Plays, and he actually put one or two of them, "revised and improved," on the boards in London, apparently without the least suspicion, on the part of the audiences that witnessed them, of any sacrilege. Another astonishing critic was Rymer, who comes to us indorsed by Pope as "learned and strict." He says of Desdemona: "There is nothing in her which is not below any country kitchenmaid; no woman, bred out of a pig-sty, could talk so meanly." The "Troilus and Cressida " he called a "heap of rubbish."

On the other side, we have a stock quotation from Milton, as follows:

"Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,

Warble his native wood-notes wild,"

requiring a considerable stretch of the imagination to apply to the Plays. Milton was a Puritan, and probably never soiled his fingers with a copy of them. He had some knowledge of their character, to be sure, for he accused Charles I. of making them and "other stuff of this sort his daily reading. Evidently, in Milton's opinion, a king

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