Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Northumberland Manuscript is in fact the one and only document from the entire Elizabethan era on which the names of Bacon and Shakespeare both appear. It is a remarkable fact that nowhere, for example, in Bacon's voluminous writings or correspondence does he ever mention Shakespeare's name. James Spedding, Bacon's indefatigable nineteenth century biographer concludes from this that Bacon never met, or was even aware of, Shakespeare's existence. However, Spedding himself was unaware of the existence of the Northumberland Manuscript, which casts the problem in an entirely different light. It is impossible to conceive that Bacon could not have been aware of Shakespeare's existence. Here were the two outstanding geniuses of the day, both living and working in a city of 250,000 people during the same period of time. The plays of Shakespeare were the talk of the town, and performed frequently at court, where Bacon was a constant presence. Moreover, Ben Johnson was a concrete link between the two. Johnson was a close friend of Bacon's, even living in his house for five years. He was also intimately involved with the production of the First Folio, as his poems in tribute included in the prefatory material attest. Therefore, given the mutual connection of Ben Johnson, and given the existence of the Northumberland Manuscript which puts the two names together, it is obvious that there must be another reason for Bacon's silence in regard to Shakespeare's name, and that Spedding's contention that they were mutually unaware of each other is impossible to sustain. The only possible conclusion which takes into account these facts is that it was an intentional silence. And here now we step across the threshold of the solution to the mystery.