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In presenting this volume to the public it was the author's intention to supply all lovers of the (socalled) Shake-speare plays with an edition of the "Tempest,” corrected and annotated from the viewpoint of Francis Bacon as its author. Mr. Reed's knowledge of the classics and his years of deep and exhaustless research into those wells whence the "greatest poet of any day" drew his inspiration are here proven. Had he lived, this eminent Baconian proposed to edit all the plays in a similar manner. His death unhappily devolves this duty upon other shoulders, which, let it be hoped, will bend to the labors speedily and with joy.
So far as Mr. Reed or any fair-minded judge is concerned, all controversy over the authorship of the “Tempest” is already closed. The time-worn belief that Wm. Shakspere wrote the plays has led commentators and editors into mistakes such as always result from a wrong premise. Unable to account for certain words, they have either changed them to accord with their own sense of the meaning, or pointed out in foot-notes that the author was astray. Whoever compares the later editions of Shake-speare to the first folio can see at once how the commentators wilfully or through ignorance here put us at the mercy of twisted phrases and false derivations. This is still further illustrated in Mr. Reed's edition of "Julius Cæsar" (yet unpublished.) That any careful poet or compiler—and the folio shows a rigid care for details-should allow not one but a score of errors to go down to posterity, is absurd. That subsequent editors let these stand without a question is incredible! However,
the truth will out. Starting with the correct belief that “though this be madness, yet there is method in 't,” Mr. Reed has unearthed the gold and displaced the accumulated dross. The value of the "Tempest” thus restored will be obvious to the reader. Nor could there be a more fitting climax to the life-work of a great scholar.
Francis Bacon, the son of Lord Chancellor Bacon, was born on the 22d day of Jan. 1561 at York Place in London, his mother being one of the famous daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, the birth-place being twice mentioned in the play of “Henry the Eighth." His father was born in Chiselhurst, County of Kent, the localities of which are frequently referred to in “King Lear” and “Henry VI."
At the age of twelve he entered Cambridge, but his dislike of the system of philosophy taught there induced him to leave before the course was finished, claiming that they taught him nothing but "words.”
He then spent three years on the continent, chiefly in France, visiting particular places mentioned in the early plays.
In the spring of 1579 he returned to England on account of the death of his father, and resided for a year or more at St. Alban’s, where so many of the scenes of the historical plays are laid, as they contain between twenty and twenty-five references to the town and its neighborhood.
In 1581, then 20 years old, he begins to “keep terms” at Gray's Inn, and the following year he is called to the bar. For the three following years, we know but little of what he is doing, but in 1585 he writes a sketch of his philosophy, which he calls the “Greatest Birth of Time," which it is supposed was afterwards broadened out into the “Advancement of Learning"
In 1585 the “Contention between the two houses of York and Lancaster” appeared, and in 1586 he is made a bencher. ` During this year, while he is leading a somewhat secluded life, according to Malone,
the “Taming of the Shrew," "Love's Labor Lost," and the “Two Gentlemen of Verona," appear, probably in imperfect form.
In 1586 the eariier form of “Hamlet” is mentioned, and in 1587 he assists in getting up a play for the Gray's Inn Revels, known as the “Misfortunes of Arthur.” He also assists in some masks to be played before the Queen, and in 1588 he became a member of parliament.
In 1591 the Queen visits him at his brother Anthony's at Twickenham, and he writes a sonnet in her honor. According to Mrs. Pott., to this year is attributed "Henry VI.," the scene being laid in the Provinces of France visited by Bacon, also the “Two Gentlemen of Verona," which reflects his brother's visit to Italy. Hence the Shake-speare comedies exhibit the combined influence of Anthony's letters from abroad, and Francis' studies at Gray's Inn.
In 1592 Francis is in trouble and is thrown in prison by a London Jew named Simpson on account of a debt, his brother Anthony coming to his relief and pledging his estates as surety, followed appropriately enough by the "Merchant of Venice.'
In 1593 Bacon composes for some festive occasion a device or mask called the “Conference of Pleasure," and the “Venus and Adonis" also appears with a dedication from Wm. Shakespeare to the Earl of Southampton, Bacon's fellow in Gray's Inn. It is mentioned in the “Polimanteia” an anonymous work published in 1595 as having been written by a Cambridge undergraduate who afterwards entered Gray's Inn. When the fortunes of Bacon and Southampton separate, because of Southampton's connection with the Essex treason, it is republished without the dedication.
In 1594 Lady Anne Bacon appears to be distressed about her son's devotion to plays and play-houses,
begging him in her letters not to “mum nor mask nor sinfully revel.” In this year he also begins his “Promus of Formularies and Elegancies,” so ably edited by Mrs. Pott of London, which fairly bristles with thoughts, expressions and quotations found in the Shake-speare plays.
In the same year the “Comedy of Errors" appears for the first time at Gray's Inn, also the Poem of “Lucrece," and a masque which Essex presents to her Majesty, called the "Device of an Indian Prince." In 1597 the first edition of the famous essays, ten in number, is published, being much enlarged in subsequent editions.
About 1601, seems to be noticed what is known as the dark period in Bacon's life, evidently caused by the Essex trouble, which is also alleged to have hastened the death of his brother Anthony, and the insanity of his mother, and which appears to be reflected in the “Sonnets” and “Hamlet,” published about this time.
In 1605 the "Advancement of Learning" appears, and also, on account of his great familiarity with the Bible, which is shown in the plays and various other works, he is selected to direct the revision of the King James version.
In 1607 Bacon became Solicitor General, Attorney General in 1613, Privy Councillor in 1616, followed by Lord High Chancellor in 1618, and Viscount St. Albans in 1620. During this period few literary productions appeared, but after his downfall in 1621, until his death, with the assistance of Ben Jonson, who resided with him at Gorhambnry, all of the plays and many other works were revised and published, fourteen plays never before printed, being added to the First Folio of 1623.
To the question so often asked as to why Bacon did not openly admit his authorship of the plays, the answer is that he described his philosophy as