Wednesday, March 31, 2004

"Neither is certainly that other merit of learning, in repressing the inconveniences which grow from man to man, much inferior to the former, of relieving the necessities which arise from nature; which merit was lively set forth by ancients in that feigned relation of Orpheus' theatre, where all beasts and birds assembled; and forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together listening unto the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature: wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed desires, of profit, of lust, of revenge; which as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace mantained; but if these instruments be silent, or that sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion."
from The Advancement of Learning

Monday, March 29, 2004

"Wherefore to conclude this part, let it be observed, that there be two principal duties and services, besides ornament and illustration, which philosophy and human learning do perform to faith and religion. The one, because they are an effectual inducement to the exaltation of the glory of God. For as the Psalms and other scriptures do often invite us to consider and magnify the great and wonderful works of God, so if we should rest only in the contemplation of the exterior of them as they first offer themselves to our senses, we should do a like injury unto the majesty of God, as if we should judge or construe of the store of some excellent jeweller, by that only which is set out the street in his shop. The other, because they minister a singular help and preservative against unbelief and error. For our Saviour saith, 'You err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God'; laying before us two books or volumes to study, if we will be secured from error; first the scriptures, revealing the will of God, and then the creatures expressing his power; whereof the latter is a key unto the former: not only opening our understanding to conceive the true sense of the scriptures, by the general notions of reason and rules of speech; but chiefly opening our belief, in drawing us into a due meditation of the omnipotency of God, which is chiefly signed and engraven upon his works. Thus much therefore for divine testimony and evidence concerning the true dignity and value of learning."
From The Advancement of Learning

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The difficulty with the case of Francis Bacon as Shakespeare is not so much in establishing that it is true. That part is relatively straightforward: the Northumberland manuscript, the Promus notebook, Ben Jonson's testimony, the Hall/Marston satires, the parallels between Bacons work and Shakespeares, the evidence from contemporary letters, his involvement in theatre at Gray's Inn and elsewhere, the tributes paid to him afer death in the Manes Verulamium, the evidence from with the Plays themselves, including plotlines, characters and signatures. No, this is not the problem. The problem is knowing when to stop. For example, by equally compelling evidence he can just as readily be shown to be the author of Don Quixote, writing under the mask of Miguel Cervantes. He was also Edmund Spenser. And Robert Greene and George Peele. Christopher Marlowe. Nashe. Montaigne. Sir Philip Sidney. Not to mention, he was also Francis Bacon, himself, let us not forget.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

In 1867, twenty-two old manuscript sheets, folded in half for binding and enclosed by another sheet to provide a cover was discovered in the London house of the Duke of Northumberland. It was easily determined that the manuscript has belonged to Francis Bacon since most of the enclosed writings were his, and the cover listed a number of his writings. However, the cover also listed writings published under the name of William Shakespeare, as well as phrases scrawled where his name was mingled with the name of William Shakespeare:

By mr ffrauncis Bacon
Essaies by the same author
William Shakespeare
Rychard the second
Rychard the third
Asmund and Cornelia
Ille of dogs frmnt
by Thomas Nashe
William Shakespeare

Monday, March 15, 2004

"Good to be mery and wise."

Bacon's Promus Notebook, Folio 92

Thursday, March 11, 2004

"For of the knowledges which contemplate the works of Nature, the holy Philosopher hath said expressly; that the glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the King is to find it out: as if the Divine Nature, according to the innocent and sweet play of children, which hide themselves to the end they may be found; took delight to hide his works, to the end they might be found out; and of his indulgence and goodness to mankind, had chosen the Soule of man to be his play-fellow in this game."

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Nay, stage-playing has been regarded even by wise men and great philosophers as a kind of Plectrum of the Soul. And it is certainly right, and at the same time one of the great secrets of nature, that the minds of men when many are assembled together are much more open to influence and impression than when they are alone.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

In the Advancement of Learning, Bacon writes:

"Another diversity of method there is [he is speaking of the different methods of communicating and transmitting knowledge] which hath some affinity with the former, used in some cases by the discretion of the ancients, but disgraced since by the impostures of many vain persons, who have made it as a false light for their counterfeit merchandises; and that is enigmatical and disclosed. The pretence whereof [that is, of the enigmatical method] is to remove the vulgar capacities from being admitted to the secrets of knowledge, and to reserve them to selected auditors, or wits of such sharpness as can pierce the veil."

From Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians. W.F.C. Wigston

Friday, March 05, 2004

In "An Unrecorded Elizabethan Performance of Titus Andronicus" (Shakespeare Review 14, 1961), Gustav Ungerer finds the evidence for the "only private performance [of a Shakespeare play] that is known to us to have taken place in Elizabethan times". Not only that, it is "also the sole record to prove that the tragedy was put on in the provinces as well as in London". The performance took place in January 1596, as part of the Christmas Festivities held in "grand scale" at Burley-on-the-Hill, estate of Sir John Harington.

The evidence is contained in a letter written to Anthony Bacon, found amongst his papers at Lambeth Palace Library. It was written by one Jacques Petit, a servant of Bacon's on secondment to Harington's household as tutor to his son, and briefly mentions a performance of the play by a professional company of actors from London, most likely the Chamberlain's Men. This would have involved a period of 9 days absence from London, at the height of the theatrical season, which would have been "surprisingly inconsistent with known Elizabethan practice", according to Ungerer.

Harington's translation of Orlando Furioso was published in 1591 with Francis Bacon's AA device appearing no less than 96 times in the book.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling of a man's self: the first, closeness, reservation and secrecy; when a man leaveth himself without observation, or without hold to be taken, what he is; the second, dissimulation in the negative; when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not what he is; and the third, simulation in the affirmative; when a man industriously and expressly feigns and pretends to be that he is not.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Antisthenes being asked of one, what learning was most necessary for man's life? Answered, 'To unlearn that which is nought."