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362


NOTES AND QUERIES. [9 th s. ix. MAY 10, 1902.


creature in 'Edwin Drood' we heard her croon, as we leaned over the tattered bed on which she was lying."

JAS. PL ATT, Jun.


THE BACON SHAKESPEARE QUESTION.

(Continued from p. 303.)

SINCE I commenced this series of papers a copy of Dr. R. M. Theobald's recent book, 'Shakespeare Studies in Baconian Light,' has come into my hands, and I have been invited to notice and reply to it. I accept the invitation.

From a literary point of view Dr. Theo- bald's book is a piece of good work, and he has made the best of a very bad case. His parallels from Bacon and Shakespeare are at times striking and interesting almost as striking and interesting as those which I have been able to find in several other authors whose works I have compared with Bacon. If they are not so valuable as those which can be picked out of the work of other con- temporary authors, the fault is solely, or almost solely, to be attributed to the fact that Shakespeare did not trouble himself to make an acquaintance with what Bacon had written ; or that he was not conversant with the Latin, Greek, and other foreign authors with whom Bacon was familiar. As Ben Jonson has said, Shakespeare's knowledge of Latin was " small," and his acquaintance with Greek " less." His learn- ing was derived mostly from translations or was cribbed from English writers.

Dr. Theobald's work displays an intimate knowledge of the writings of Bacon and Shakespeare, as was to be expected ; but the fault of his whole argument is that he ignores the writings of other authors of the period. Shakespeare and Bacon occupy the whole of his mental vision, and beyond them he can see nothing. Hence we find him adducing a long list of words, phrases, and even common English proverbs to show that the dramatist must have had an intimate ac- quaintance with Latin and Greek authors in the original. If Dr. Theobald had taken the trouble to compare Shakespeare as closely with other writers of his time or previously as he has done with Bacon, he would have discovered that his book is a waste of good paper. The vocabulary of Shakespeare, which has called forth such a learned treatise as that of Dr. Theobald, was the vocabulary of the time ; and the learning in the plays and poems, which startles the Baconians to-day, is that of the period also. All that need excite wonder in Shakespeare is the consummate art of the


craftsman ; and if we find him using strange words or phrases which cannot be found in other and earlier writers, we may assume, for the want of a better explanation, that he coined them.

I will now show that Dr. Theobald's re- searches have not extended far enough, and that he has credited Shakespeare with an amount of erudition to which the poet could lay no claim. Shakespeare was merely a scholar well versed in the commonplaces of his time, and he could get all, or nearly all, his knowledge of Latin and Greek authors from works written by English writers.

Many times in Shakespeare we find him making use of the proverb that companion- ship in misery eases grief. In ' Lucrece ' the sentiment is expressed thus :

It easeth some, though none it ever cured, To think their dolour others have endured. Stanza 226, 11. 1581-2.

These lines, according to Dr. Theobald, are evidently a translation of a Latin motto in ' Faustus,' published in 1604, ten years after the appearance of 'Lucrece.' Here it is necessary to observe that Dr. Theobald claims the whole of Marlowe's work for Bacon, in addition to that of Shakespeare, consequently he makes a point of emphasizing the asser- tion that the ' Lucrece ' lines are merely the translation of the Latin proverb, which was probably invented by Bacon :

Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris. Dr. Theobald argues that as Bacon probably invented the ' Faustus ' motto, which has not been traced to a Latin author, he translated his own saying in ' Lucrece.' The argument assumes not only that Bacon wrote 'Lucrece' arid ' Faustus,' but that the proverb was new when it appeared in the poem. "How it came to appear in * Lucrece,' " he says, " is an enigma which awaits its solution." Pro- digious !

Now this proverb, in precisely the same Latin form, occurs in Greene's 'Menaphon,' 1589, and in Lodge's ' Kqsalind,' 1590 ; and its equivalent in English is thus expressed in John Lyly's 'Euphues,' 1579: "In misery, Euphues, it is a great comfort to have a com- panion " (Arber, p. 96). ' Euphues ' was one of Shakespeare's favourite books, and he borrows from it in several of his plays, especially in 'Love's Labour's Lost' and in ' Henry IV.' But the proverb itself was musty with age when ' Lucrece ' was written, and it had become hackneyed by common usage.

" One of Bacon's frequently recurring apho- risms is that sunshine penetrates even dung- hills and cloacae^ and yet is not thereby defiled."