Sunday, February 10, 2008

I've recently found this book review in the Spectator magazine from last year, of a recent book on the works of Shakespeare. The review is entitled "The Divine Pork Butcher". Keen students of divine synchronicity will be sniffing the bacon already. Comments on the review to follow...

Friday, February 08, 2008

My daughter started Grade Six this year. Each week they have a new quotation. This week it is from Francis Bacon! The quote is:

All rising to a high place is by a winding stair.

What a wonderful thought to inculcate in the young minds!

The teacher explained that this Bacon fellow lived at the same time as the great William Shakespeare. Try as I might I cannot get my daughter to put up her hand and explain to the class what she already knows even at her tender age: "please, Miss: according to my crazy father: Bacon actually IS Shakespeare!!!". I forgive her. I told her I would help work it all out at parent-teacher night. Great, she said, she can hardly wait. :-)
I heard on the radio the other day that Britain has recently voted January 22 as the "most miserable day of the year". Presumably they were referring to the weather at that time of the year, rather than the fact that it is the birthday of the great man himself, Francis Bacon. But I cannot help thinking that there is an underlying subconscious reason at play here for the result of this vote: Britain secretly knows in it's heart that it has denied recognition to FB for his achievements, and that this is a miserable thing to do to the man who has probably given more pleasure to Britons over the years than any other. One day, let us hope, January 22 will be celebrated as the most wonderful day of the year for Britain, and everyone will stay indoors ignoring the lousy weather and recite the works of the Bard.
Parallels. Baconians have them in spades, folks. Take Nigel Cockburn's exemplary "The Bacon-Shakespeare Question: The Baconian Case Made Sane". The chapter on parallels takes up 140 pages. Even then he restricts himself to the "best" 100 parallels which come from Bacon's writings outside his "Promus" notebook, and then there are another 40-odd pages on parallels purely from the "Promus". The chapter is a revelation, a delight, a wonderful thing. Sigh: but no one reads it or will read it, because, well, if you're a Stratfordian or Oxfordian you already KNOW that your man is the man, and the rest, well, everyone is too busy with iPod or whatever. But just to give a taste, here is one example, a single parallel from Cockburn's book. The reason I like this one is because only by knowing that Bacon is Shakespeare can one explain the textual riddle here, in this case a word in the First Folio which is rendered by - - - -. None of the orthodox editors can explain what might be meant; Cockburn nails it. Read on: first comes the Shakespeare verse in question, then a series of quotes from Bacon, then Cockburn's comment.

1 Henry VI 1.1. 55-8

Bedford: A far more glorious star thy soul will make
Than Julius Caesar or bright ____

Enter a messenger

Messenger: My honourable lords, health fo you all
Sad tidings bring I to you out of France


Both in persons and in times there hath been a meeting and concurrence in Learning and Arms, flourishing and excelling in the same men and the same ages. For, as for men, there cannot be a better nor the like instance, as that of the pair, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar the Dictator, whereof the one was Aristotle's scholar in philosophy and the other was Cicero's rival in eloquence.
The Advancement of Learning (Spedding 3.269)

Alexander was bred and taught under Aristotle, the great philosopher, who dedicated divers of his books of philosophy to unto him...(Alexander) gave him(Aristotle) to understand that himself esteemed it more to excel other men in learning and knowledge than in power and empire. And what use he (Alexander) had of learning doth appear, or rather shine, in all his speeches and answers, being full of science, and use of science, and that in all variety...I am as willing to flatter, if they will so call it, an Alexander or a Caesar or an Antonimus that are dead many hundred years since, as any that now liveth; for it is the displaying of the glory of learning in sovereignty that I propound to myself, and not an humour of declaiming in any man's praises...there are prints and footsteps of learning in those few speeches which are reported of this prince: the admiration of whom, when I consider him not as Alexander the Great but as Aristotle's scholar, hath carried me too far. As for Julius Caesar, the excellency of his learning needeth not to be argued.
The Advancement of Learning (Spedding 3.307-11)

It is not possible to have the true pictures or statues of Cyrus, Alexander, Caesar....but the images of men's wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted from the wrong of time.
The Advancement of Learning (Spedding 3.318)

In which point I promise to myself a like future to that of Alexander the Great. (For it was said of Alexander that he) had done no more that to take courage to despise vain apprehensions. And a like judgement I suppose may be passed on myself in future ages.
Novum Organon (Spedding 4.93)

Alexander did not think his fame so engraven in his conquests but that he thought it further shined in the buildings of Alexandria.
Speech at Gray's Inn Revels (Spedding 8.336)

Cockburn comments:

The reader sees that in the Shake-Speare text the second line ends with a blank. The editors of William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion opine that "despite numerous conjectures about the intended completion of this sentence, a dramatic interruption is almost certainly intended". But Shake-Speare would hardly have broken a sentence off between an adjective and its noun. The Arden editor and most other scholars make the far more plausible suggestion that Shake-Speare wrote a second name which the compositor could not decipher; a long name with many minims may have baffled him. Names suggested havs included Sir Francis Drake, Berenice and Cassiopey. But the Bacon texts almost certainly provide the answer. They show that he greatly admired both Caesar and Alexander. Alexander fits the metre and would have to be prefaced by an adjective to fill the gap before his name since, unlike Julius Caesar, he was not known by any prenomen. Above all, he would be a natural partner for Caesar, and comparison for Henry V. "Bright" rather than "great" is an unexpected adjective for Alexander and has put editors off the scent, but Bacon's shine, used twice (my italics) explains it - he thought Alexander bright by reason of his intellectual qualities. As for flattering Caesar and Alexander, that is exactly what Shake-Speare does in line 56, if Alexander is the missing name. (Footnote: In addition to the texts noted, Bacon mentions Alexander another 32 times according to Spedding.)
Arguing with Oxfordians is a silly thing to do, a waste of time and a guaranteed way to ruin your day. But here I go again. I can't resist. But that's it, I swear, no more comebacks. That's why I made this blog, so I could talk to myself about it. It's not that I haven't tried: I'm proud to say I've done my time and been thoroughly beaten up on the Oxfordian boards. Been there, done that. It is totally unproductive and a waste of everybody's time. Fun though! Still, we will have the last laugh! Labeo is deVere?: getthefuckouttahere.