Shakespeare Authorship: Bacon vs DeVere
Since de Vere is easily dismissed as the author of the Shakespearean works due to the timeline and sheer lack of evidence, why do die-hard Oxfordians persist in foisting their allegations onto a largely unsuspecting public?
The answer lies with the fact that the Oxfordians, like their Stratfordian counterparts, have blindly and passionately painted themselves to an impossible corner.
Furthermore, many Oxfordians who haven't bothered to examine all of the data pertaining to the Shakespeare authorship issue remain ignorant of a multitude of cold, hard facts and unanswered questions regarding Francis Bacon.
For example, if de Vere had been Shakespeare why would he insert a reference to an anecdote from Francis Bacon's Apothegms paraphrasing Bacon's foster father Sir Nicholas Bacon: "Hang hog is latten for bacon I warrant you" into Act 4, Scene 1 of The Merry Wives of Windsor?
And why would de Vere write the name "Francis" (instead of Edward) 39 times on one single page in Act 4, Scene 2 of First Part King Henry IV ?
There is absolutely no evidence of de Vere having been a Freemason or a Rosicrucian.
Instead, the record shows de Vere to have had a strong leaning toward Catholicism. His sympathy for the Catholic Church demanded antipathy toward such anti Catholic ideologies such as Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. If de Vere had been Shakespeare, why are the Shakespearean works so heavily endowed with both Masonic and Rosicrucian ideals and symbology? In Bacon's case, his connection and influence with both the Masonic and Rosicrucian ideologies are a slam dunk.
Love's Labours Lost is one of the most crucial Shakespearean works that lavishes the reader with layers of astonishing clues pointing to the identity of its writer.
The author of the play was clearly associated with the French region of Navarre and the court of its King, Henri III. There is no tangible evidence that de Vere ever visited Navarre or knew its King. Instead, the Oxfordians, particularly Mark Anderson, concocted a false connection between de Vere and the King of Navarre by inventing an imaginary scenario: "During the celebrations surrounding the coronation and wedding, de Vere must have met Henri of Navarre… De Vere probably also met the fifty-one year old Pierre de Ronsard" (Mark Anderson, Shakespeare By Another Name, p.76).
Notice how Anderson's words are carefully crafted: "must have", "probably also met", etc. His deceptive language is the hallmark of all Oxfordian writers. Their pages overflow with "would have", "could have", "might have", "must have", "probably would have", "probably met", "might have met", "might have known", "most likely would have", etc. Such illusory wording is the device that Oxfordian writers such as Anderson and Charles Beauclerk (president of the Oxfordian Society) use to trick their readers into assuming (through the sheer power of extrapolation) that imaginary connections between various people, places and events are actually real in the absence of any tangible evidence to support such claims.
With regard to the primary characters of Love's Labours Lost, the Oxfordians are at a total loss to explain how the names of the plays' essential players (i.e. Biron, Longaville, Dumain, and Boyet) just happen to match four signatures in Anthony Bacon's passport. Anthony Bacon was Francis Bacon's foster brother and chief collaborator. He also spent eleven years touring and residing in virtually all of the locales in which the Shakespearean plays are set, including eight years at Navarre.
Furthermore, the appearance of the word honorificabilitudinitatibus in Love's Labour's Lost (Act 5, Scene 1) presents another vexing problem for the Oxfordian's.
There is absolutely no evidence that de Vere ever devised this unique word, or ever made use of any of its previous existing derivations. On the other hand, Francis Bacon’s notes clearly demonstrate his persistent tinkering with the word honorificabilitudinitatibus, i.e. the word honorificabo in his notebook Promus of Formularies and Elegancies and the word honorificabilitudini in his manuscript folder known as the Northumberland Manuscript.
Another of the most compelling artifacts revealing the true identity of the author of the Shakespearean works is the Northumberland Manuscript.
The Northumberland Manuscript is a parchment folder that belonged to Francis Bacon. The folder enveloped various manuscripts or copies of certain writings which included two of the Shakespeare plays and other works that were significant to Bacon. On the folder's front cover, the names Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare (spelled in a variety of ways) are written over and over and over. Just below the center of the page the following heading is written: "By Mr. FFrauncis William Shakespeare". Directly beneath this heading, the titles Rychard the second and Rychard the third are inscribed. Nowhere on the document are the names Edward de Vere or Oxford to be found. And yet, Mark Anderson had the audacity to write (in his book Shakespeare By Another Name, p. 305) the following:
"A tantalizing cover page for a circa-1597 manuscript of Richard III—and a number of other controversial works—has survived the centuries and now sits in the archives of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland… On this single surviving sheet, a scrivener, whose handwriting has never been identified, scratched out two words that would henceforth be seared into the flesh of every mature play from de Vere's pen. There on a single page, scattered amid sundry sentence fragments, quotes, and titles, are written the words "Willi…Sh…Sh…Shak…will Shak…Shakespe…Shakspeare…Shakespeare…William…william Shakespeare…William Shakespeare".
Front Cover of the Northumberland Manuscript
Here, Anderson shrewdly attempts to beguile his readers into believing that de Vere is somehow connected to the Northumberland Manuscript without ever mentioning that the document was the property of Francis Bacon. And, for good reason, he avoids showing his readers the above picture of the Manuscript's cover. To this day, the manuscript resides at Northumberland's Alnwick Castle.
The Oxfordians insist that Shakespeare's Sonnets provide "proof" That Edward de Vere was the author of the Shakespeare works.
They are convinced that many of the sonnets are addressed to a "fair youth" who is believed to have been Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. However, the problem with the "fair youth" hypothesis is that there is NO FAIR YOUTH in Shakespeare's Sonnets. In the 154 sonnets, the word "fair" appears 49 times—and the word "youth" appears a total of 13 times. Nowhere in the sonnets do the words "fair" and "youth" appear together as "fair youth".
Moreover, the Oxfordians insist that the three sonnets dubbed the "lame sonnets" (i.e. sonnets 37, 66 and 89) refer to de Vere's supposed lameness. The problem with this theory is that no evidence exists to substantiate the claim that de Vere was ever lame in the literal sense. It seems the Oxfordians have made much ado about a certain phrase written by de Vere in a letter (dated 1601) to his brother-in-law Robert Cecil. De Vere writes "bear with the weakness of my lame hand". Nowhere else in de Vere's writings are we to find any reference to "lameness".
On the other hand, Francis Bacon writes about the metaphor of "lameness" in his Apothegms and in his Essay on Envy. In reading the three sonnets in question, it is clear that the words "lame", "limping" and "lameness" are used metaphorically.
The Oxfordians further claim that words "Were't aught to me I bore the canopy" in the so-called "canopy sonnet" (i.e. sonnet 125) is a reference to de Vere bearing Queen Elizabeth's canopy during some affair of state. But alas, poor Oxfordians, there is absolutely no record of de Vere ever bearing the Queen's canopy.
Another great problem with the Oxfordian thesis lies with the utter vacuum of evidence that de Vere ever wrote anonymously.
With Bacon, however, just the opposite is true. In a letter to his close friend John Davies of Hereford, Bacon concludes: "So desiring you to be good to concealed poets, I continue your very assured, FR. Bacon". Tobie Matthew, another of Bacon's closest confidants wrote of his master: "The most prodigious wit that ever I knew though he be known by another". Other writings that testify to Bacon's concealed literary genius include: "The jewel most precious of letters concealed"—R.C. of Trinity College (Manes Verulamiani), and: "Part of thy works lie truly buried"—Robert Ashley (Manes Verulamiani).
Without question, Ben Jonson had a close relationship with the author of the Shakespearean works who he referred to (in the 1623 Folio) as "My Beloved".
However, there is no evidence that Jonson ever collaborated with or worked for Edward de Vere, nor did Jonson ever write any form of praise or tribute to Oxford's memory.
The scenario posed by Roland Emmerich's movie Anonymous would have us believe that de Vere committed the Shakespeare manuscripts to Jonson's care, only to have him sit on them for 19 years before their publication in the Folio. Why would Jonson do such a thing? And how did so many of the original Shakespeare plays undergo such significant revisions that show up in their Folio counterparts? Who, other than the actual author, had both the authority and the ability to make such revisions?
Thus, the Oxfordian hypothesis is not only messy and disjointed, it's downright ludicrous!
Interestingly, at the time the 1623 Folio was being published, Jonson (who Bacon referred to as "My man John") just happened to be living with Francis Bacon at the Bacon family home at Gorhambury. There, Jonson (who referred to Bacon as "The Chief") worked as Bacon's secretary.
Jonson's praise of Bacon bears an uncanny resemblance to his praise of Shakespeare, the "Soule of the Age". In his Folio eulogy of Shakespeare, Jonson writes: "Leave thee alone for the comparison Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughtie Rome sent forth".
Years later, Jonson's eulogy of Bacon reads: "He who hath filled up all the numbers and performed that in our tongue which may be compared to insolent Greece and haughtie Rome… so that he may be named as the mark and acme of our language"—who, other than Shakespeare, would these words apply?
Jonson further wrote of Bacon: "I have and do reverence him for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever, by his works, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration that has ever been in many ages".
All of this is only the tip of the iceberg! There's a great deal more!
Read other articles written by Richard Wagner:
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