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making him speak of “moral philosophy," had been followed by Shakespeare. The “Advancement was published in 1605, and this appears to have been a new play in 1608, (if, indeed, that older play of 1602 were not a first sketch of the same piece,) and so, it is barely possible that William Shakespeare may have seen the “ Advancement” before those lines were written. But the whole tenor of the argument in the play is so exactly in keeping with Bacon's manner and mode of dealing with the subject, that it is hard to believe a mere plagiarist would have followed him so profoundly. Bacon expresses the same opinions somewhat more fully in the De Augmentis, (published in 1623,) that “young men are less fit auditors of policy than of morals, until they have been thoroughly seasoned in religion and the doctrine of morals and duties; for, otherwise, the judgment is so depraved and corrupted that they are apt to think there are no true and solid moral differences of things, and they measure everything according to utility or success, as the poet says:
“Prosperum et fælix scelus virtus vocatur.” 1 Now, this is precisely the depraved judgment of young Paris, according to his speech in the play.
He argued that it would be disgraceful to the Trojan leaders to give up Helen, “on terms of base compulsion ": he
" would have the soil of her fair rape
Wip'd off in honorable keeping her." To which Hector replies altogether too much in Bacon's own style, not to have participated in his studies :
“ Hect. Paris and Troilus, you have both said well;
'Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge
But makes it much more heavy." — Act II. Sc. 2. In addition to the similarity of idea in respect of the errors of young men as to the doctrine and foundation of morals, there is an outcropping of identical expression in such phrases as these : “not settled from the boiling heat of their affections, nor attempered with time and experience," and “ to the hot passion of distemper'd blood"; "the judgment is so depraved and corrupted,” and “if this law of nature be corrupted through affection”; “no true and solid moral differences of things," and "these moral laws of nature and of nations”; “ the soil of her fair rape wip'd off in honorable keeping her,” and “ scelus virtus vocatur"; which are altogether too special, palpable, and peculiar, to be accidental, or to be due to any common usage of that or any age ; and there would seem to be no room left for the possibility of a doubt as to the identity of the authorship.
§ 7. DOUBTFUL PLAYS. Not only these plays and poems, but six other plays, which did not appear in that Folio, and which have never been received into the genuine canon, were likewise published, in Shakespeare's lifetime, under his name, or initials, viz: the “ Sir John Oldcastle” in 1600, the “ London
Prodigal” in 1605, the “ Yorkshire Tragedy" in 1608, (and the “ Pericles” in 1609,) under his name in full ; and the “ Locrine” in 1595, the “ Thomas Lord Cromwell” in 1602, and the “Puritan, or Widow of Watling Street” in 1607, under the initials “ W. S.,” which some critics have taken to mean William Shakespeare, while others, with Malone, have agreed that they meant William Smith, and, with Pope, that Shakespeare never wrote a single line of them. These plays were in the possession of his theatre, and doubtless came into the hands of the printers in like manner with many of the others, which were in like manner reputed to be his. And not only these, but still another list was imputed to him, in his own time and afterwards, viz: the “ Arraignment of Paris," the “Arden of Feversham,” the “ Edward III.,” the “ Birth of Merlin,” the “ Fair Em ; the Miller's Daughter," and the “ Mucedorus," as well as the “Merry Devil of Edmonton,” acted at the Globe, and printed, in 1608, under the names of Shakespeare and Rowley, and the “Two Noble Kinsmen," printed after the death of Shakespeare under his name and that of Fletcher; most of which have been rejected by nearly all critics as not Shakespeare's.
Of the three that were published under his name in full, in his lifetime, there is scarcely any room to doubt that they were written by other authors. According to Malone, the “ Sir John Oldcastle” was written by Munday, Drayton, Wilson, and Hathwaye. The first and second parts of it were entered in the books of the Stationers' Company, in 1600 ; the first part was printed in the name of William Shakespeare, in that year, as performed at Henslowe's theatre; and an entry in Henslowe's diary shows that, in 1599, he paid those authors for both parts; but the second part was never printed. Mr. Knight and other later critics concur in the judgment of Malone, that it is clearly not a play of Shakespeare.
The “ Yorkshire Tragedy” was entered and printed in
1608; the event on which the story is founded did not happen until 1604; and although there may be no decisive reasons, grounded on internal evidence merely, why it may not have been a careless and hasty production of this author, it is difficult to believe that he could have produced such a play at about the same time that he was writing the “ Hamlet,” the “ Lear,” the “ Macbeth,” and the “ Julius Cæsar.” The best judges concur in rejecting it as not written by him.
The - London Prodigal” was published in 1605, as played by the "King's Majesty's Servants" of the Globe, and as written by William Shakespeare; but Malone, Knight, and White reject it altogether. And of the other three, while it appears that one of them, the “ Lord Cromwell," was performed by his company, the evidence is still more satisfactory, that they were all written by some other person, and probably by William Smith. Concerning the other list, the evidence is more uncertain; but while some critics have believed that Shakespeare might have written at least some of them, the weight of fact and opinion is pretty decidedly against them all.
On the whole, it would seem to be very certain that plays were published in his pame, in his own time, of which he was not the author. Nor does it appear that he ever took the least trouble to prevent this unwarrantable use of his name: no denial, or other vindication of his reputation, has come down to us. We know that it was not an unusual thing, in those days, for “sharking booksellers ” to set a great name to a book " for sale-sake.” The name of Sir Philip Sidney was used in this manner, and even that of Shakespeare was set to Heywood's translation of Ovid, by Jaggard, in 1612; but Mr. Halliwell finds some intimation, coming from Heywood himself, that Shakespeare was “ much offended” with Jaggard for this liberty with his name: it is more probable, in this instance, that Heywood would be the most offended man of the two. It may be
taken as sufficiently established, that this good-natured actor and manager was in the habit of publishing, or suffering to be published, in his name or initials, the plays which were owned by his theatre, as they were produced on the stage, of some of which it is well ascertained that he was not the author ; that he was not particular about shining thus in borrowed feathers; that he never took the least care of his reputation as an author, either before or after his retiring from the stage; and so, that the simple fact, that the plays and poems appeared under his name, and being reputed to be his, in his own time, so passed into the traditional myth, must lose nearly all force of evidence as touching the question of the real authorship. In a word, he was just such a character as would naturally be hit upon as a convenient and necessary cover for an aspiring and prolific genius, an irrepressible wit, a poetic imaginator, a man of all knowledge, classical learning, and a world-wide soul, who was at the same time ambitious of promotion in the state, in which direction lay the plan of his life, though never basely obsequious to power withal (as some have imagined), still suffering by neglect and “ the meanness of his estate,” soliciting in vain, lacking advancement, and “eating the air, promise-crammed”; and who had determined to “profess not to be a poet,” but felt that he had a mission beyond the exigencies of the hour, and what is more, that his light must shine, though he should conceal his name in a cloud, "And keep invention in a noted weed.”
Sonnet lxxvi. But if any one shall deem it necessary to assign some of these doubtful plays to this author, he will consider that this argument loses nothing in strength or force on that account. Between the time of Bacon's becoming an utter barrister of Gray's Inn, in 1582, and the publication of the " Venus and Adonis,” there was a period of ten years, in which a number of such plays may much better have been written by him than by William Shakespeare. They were not admitted