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TOPIC: Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon

Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 10 months 3 days ago #7158

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Henry VIII – the Case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 1

Here will follow a series of posts examining the case for Francis Bacon’s authorship involvement with Shakespeare’s The Life of King the Eighth. There is no issue taken here with whether or not John Fletcher was a co-author. And it won’t be a complete case since there’s much more that could be covered. But it’s at least a basic case from the evidence.

Stage oddity

This is taken from an online article from some years back:

Professor Ioppolo, who saw Henry VIII when it was staged by the RSC in the 1990s, compares the play to a painting.

"You have all these processions - highly-visualised staged scenes which were very much the vogue in 1613."

She points out that most of Shakespeare's history plays were written at the beginning of his career.

"The vogue for them was the 1590s. We don't know why in 1613 they are suddenly writing a history play. The other plays being done in the period are all tragedies or city comedies.

"It's really an elusive little play because we don't know what it represents. It's wonderful, it's an oddity."
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8679613.stm
The following is from the sirbacon.org/evidence webpage:

Letter from Bacon to King James, November, 1622:

"...for my pen, if contemplative, going on with The Historie of Henry the Eighth."

In January, 1623, Bacon applied to the proper authorities for the loan of such documents as might be in the public archives relating to the reign of Henry VIII.

On February 21st, 1623, Bacon wrote to Buckingham, who had gone to Spain with Prince Charles, asking to be remembered to the Prince:

"Who, I hope ere long, will make me leave King Henry VIII and set me on work in relation to His Majesty's heroical adventures."

On June 26th, 1623, Bacon wrote to his friend Sir Tobie Matthew:

"Since you say the Prince hath not forgot his commandment touching my history of Henry VIII."

However, no history of Henry VIII by Bacon was ever published. Only a brief, 30-line summary of Henry's reign was printed after Bacon's death under his own name.

Since Bacon was known to always be writing for eventual publication, then what reasonable explanation can account for him not publishing a history on Henry VIII after all the research he had been doing on this topic? Baconian Theory accounts for it through the writing of the Shakespeare play. Though it was performed as early as 1613, it was not published until the First Folio, 1623. And Bacon, like Shakespeare, was constantly revising his works, so that events in his life just prior to the publishing of the First Folio could have been added into the revised play. Also, if he had an early version of the play already being staged, then his ‘continuing research’ may have been his way of endlessly forestalling the need to produce such a genuine history. It certainly seems like he had no real intention to write such a plain history or else he wouldn’t have hoped that the Prince would, as he said, “make me leave King Henry VIII”. So it seems to have been pretense all along, which is very odd by itself since he had been one with the strongest interest in history, England’s and all others.
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 10 months 2 days ago #7159

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 2

Francis Bacon’s interest in history, and how this interest can be viewed relative to the Shakespeare history plays has been examined closely by Barry R. Clarke in his The Shakespeare Puzzle, 2009. Following in this and the next post are several extracts from his work especially relating to the play of Henry VIII.
[Following Bacon’s fall from power in 1621] For the first time since 1613, Sir Francis Bacon had the leisure time to resume his work and by October 1621 he had finished a History of the Reign of Henry VII. Bacon had compiled a list of 100 history titles, the third part of his Great Instauration, and had decided to write up these two examples himself. In was in this leisure period that Shake-speare’s First Folio (1623) collection of 36 plays was published with its many amendments to the earlier published quartos.

Bacon had a passionate interest in political history and expressed an interest in writing a history of Britain from Henry VII to James I. His Memorial of Elizabeth and History of Henry the VII amply demonstrate this interest and we examine the testimony that they were written in the style of a dramatist.

Shake-speare’s Henry VIII is an interesting case as far as the authorship question is concerned. Bacon and Shake-speare somehow managed to avoid covering each other’s historical ground while between them spanning the period from 1377-1603. The wide range of political ideas constituting his political systems explored by Shake-speare suggest a motive of completeness consistent with Bacon’s intention of having a complete survey of political ideas constituting his political Histories to which his inductive method could be applied.

By 1605, the date of publication of The Advancement of Learning, Shake-speare’s history plays had already covered the period 1377-1485 involving Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV (in Henry VI), Edward V (in Richard III), and Richard III. Henry, Earl of Richmond, later to become Henry VII, appears only at the start of his reign at the end of Richard III. Eight years later, Shake-speare’s Henry VIII appeared at the Globe theatre.

On 2 April 1605, Sir Francis Bacon wrote to King James from Gray’s Inn suggesting that:

… it would be an honour for his Majesty, and a work very memorable, if this island of Great Britain, as it is now joined in monarchy for the ages to come, so were joined in History for the times past, and that one just and complete History were compiled of both nations [England and Scotland].

When The Advancement of Learning was published that year dedicated to King James, it became clear that the period of history Bacon had in mind was 1485AD to the reign of King James, a period not yet covered by the Shake-speare plays.

[after a lengthy quote from Bacon, Clarke continues]: We note that Bacon proposed to begin his treatise at the very point in history that Shake-speare had reached by 1605 and that a history of the reign of Henry VIII evidently was part of his project. It is clear that Bacon was hoping to get financial support for this work and later evidence shows that he intended to write it himself.

[quoting Bacon again]: … the reason why I presumed to think of the oblation was because, whatsoever my disability be, yet I shall have that advantage which almost no writer of history hath had, in that I shall write of times not only since I could remember, but since I could observe.

It was a clear statement that he intended to write these civil histories. Sir Walter Raleigh thought that Sir Francis Bacon also understood their nature. In his History of the World (which excluded contemporary history) complied while in the Tower (1603-1618) he wrote in his Preface that the laws and kinds of history:

“… had been taught by many, but by no man better and with greater brevity than by that learned gentleman Sir Francis Bacon.”
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 10 months 1 day ago #7160

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 3

Extracts from Clarke’s The Shake-speare Puzzle continued:

The last two Shake-speare plays, King Henry VIII and the Two Noble Kinsmen, have been dated to 1613, and in October of that year, Bacon became Attorney General, a position that subsequently absorbed all his free time. Around the period, Shake-speare’s output ceased. When in May 1621, as Lord Chancellor, Bacon was stripped of his office by proceeding for corruption, his leisure time returned and by October he had finished his book History of the Reign of Henry VII. Leonard Dean states that Bacon seasoned his narrative with the aid of documented counsels and speeches from Sir Robert Cotton’s depository, and relied on well-known literary chronicles for the main structure such as Polydore Vergil’s Anglicae Historiae (1570), Edward Hall’s Chronicle (1550), Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587), and John Stow’s Annals (1580). He also informs us that:

Henry VII … was the last reign for which documentary evidence was readily available, all later reigns depending on State Papers which were closely guarded.”

While the life of Henry VIII could be found in the above chronicles (particularly Stow’s), one wonders how far Shake-speare’s play went beyond them and made use of these secret State Papers. Shakspere [the man from Stratford] would certainly have been in difficulty here but Sir Francis Bacon in his position of Solicitor General and with his contacts in court would have found far easier entry.

According to Leonard Dean, Bacon’s method of writing histories shares certain features with the craft of a dramatist:

“ … he is like his Italian counterparts. For Machiavelli whatever is instructive is contemporary, and Patrizzi is concerned only with such details as how to narrate two or more groups of actions that take place at the same time. … Bacon explains events almost wholly by an interpretation of personal motives, and neglects social and economic causes.”

This emphasis on character is the essence of drama and appears to liberate Bacon from the charge that his sensibility was too limited to have penned the Shake-speare work.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles, later to become Charles I, had been pressing Sir Francis Bacon for a history of Henry VIII. [note the earlier quotes on this from the first post]. On 10 February 1622, the King authorized the Paper Office Keeper, Sir Thomas Wilson, to provide Sir Francis Bacon, who had been denied access to library resources by his sentence for corruption, with any papers he might require to research the project. [evidence of his still active historical research].

Then once Prince Charles had returned from Spain, Bacon sent a copy of his De Augmentis Scientiarum with a different excuse for not beginning the requested history [of King Henry VIII]:

“For Henry the Eighth, to deal truly with your Highness, I did so despair of my health this summer as I was glad to choose some such work as I might compass within days; so far was I from entering into a work of length."

In the end, Prince Charles was sent a mere two pages of an outline of the history which Dr. Rawley published in 1629. Evidently, Bacon was avoiding the project.

As we have seen in 1610-, in his The Beginning of the History of Great Britain, Sir Francis Bacon was still interested in writing about Henry VIII. From 1622 onwards, despite the Prince’s repeated requests and King James making available the necessary research materials, he attempted to avoid doing so. Was it because the history had already been completed in the Shake-speare play in 1613 nine years earlier? In 1621, why did Bacon choose to compose a book on Henry VII? Was it because he was the only monarch Shake-speare had omitted in the period 1377-1547? If Bacon and Shake-speare were different men then it is remarkable how each managed to avoid duplicating the other’s projects. However, if Bacon was writing under the pseudonym of Shake-speare it suddenly makes sense.

Leonard Dean observes that:

"Bacon believed that the chief functions of history are to provide the materials for a realistic treatment of psychology and ethics, and to give instruction by means of example and analysis in practical politics."

He further summarizes Bacon’s scheme as an:

"...approach to the good life through the realistic analysis of human nature by historians."

[now a couple more quotes from Clarke’s book, again, of which I’ve only supplied a portion of extracts]

[Hadfield in Shakespeare and Rennaissance Politics, writes of Shake-speare] “No other contemporary dramatist explored the meaning and significance of such a wide variety of political and social systems, or established such a carefully nuanced relationship between examining alternative constitutions in their own right, and reading them in terms of English or British politics.”

Also “His [Shake-speare’s] works appear to be indebted to the numerous attempts made in that decade [1590s] to study history, politics and society in the relatively detached and relatively objective manner pioneered by thinkers such as Lispius, Montaigne, Livy and Tacitus, as well as their English disciples such as Francis Bacon and Sir John Haywood.”
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 10 months 11 hours ago #7161

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 4

The next set of posts will cover a number of parallel passages in the works of Shakespeare’s King Henry VIII and from works of Sir Francis Bacon, all taken from The Bacon-Shakespeare Anatomy by W. S. Melsome, M.A., M.D. 1945.

The Bacon passages come from Spedding, Ellis and Heath comprising the The Works of Francis Bacon (seven volumes, 1857-1859, and the Life and Letters (seven volumes, 1861-1874).

Note: The comparisons are sometimes with the language, and often it is with the philosophical or political idea being expressed. This is essentially the same method used for inferring the authorship of scenes or parts by John Fletcher. Color coding will often be used to help readers in identifying the passages to compare.

Shakespeare:

Act 1, Sc 1
NORFOLK:
“Stay my lord,
And let your REASON with your choler question
What ‘tis you go about …
“Anger is like a full hot horse….
Be advised:
…..
I say again, there is no English soul
More stronger to direct you than yourself,
If with the sap of REASON you would QUENCH,
Or but allay, the fire of PASSION.”
Act 1, Sc 1, 132-149

Bacon:
“Passions which are indeed the sicknesses of the mind.” (Life ii, p. 7)
“Physic hath no more medicine against the disease of the body than REASON hath preservatives against the PASSIONS of the mind.” [Life, ii. p. 8]

Note: Shakespeare also used these terms in Measure for Measure, Act 3, Sc 1:
“His unjust unkindness that in all REASON should have QUENCHED her (Mariana’s) love hath, like an impediment in a current, made it more violent and unruly.”
This parallels Bacon’s “Every PASSION grows fresh, strong and vigorous by opposition or prohibition as it were by reaction or antiperistasis (reaction).” (De Augmentis, ii, xiii.)

Shakespeare:

Act 1, Sc 2 17-~96
KATHERINE:
I am solicited – not by a few,
And those of true condition – that your subjects
Are in great grievance
.There have been commissions
Sent down among ‘em
which hath flawed the heart
Of all their loyalties; wherein although,
My good lord Cardinal, they vent reproaches
Most bitterly on you as putter—on
Of these exactions, yet the King our master
Whose honour heaven shield from soil – even he
escapes not

Language unmannerly, yea, such which breaks
The sides of loyalty and almost appears
In loud rebellion.
[Arden note on ‘commissions’ above: “Hamilton suggests that this scene
may also refer to topical taxation demands in 1612-1613”]

Bacon:
“It is affirmed unto me by divers gentlemen of good regard.”: (Life, iii. P. 185) Bacon was solicited by members of parliament to petition King James concerning a great grievance of the common people. “Concerning the great grievance arising by the manifold abuses of purveyors.” (Life, iii p. 182)
[Bacon’s petition to James was not published until 1657]

The commissions they bring down are against the law. “ (Life, iii. P. 185). “They take in kind what they ought not to take . . . instead of takers they become taxers.” (Life, iii, p. 184)
“All these great misdemeanors are committed in and under your Majesty’s name” (Life, iii ,p. 186)
Bacon’s speech of 1593 against the Queen’s wish for the granting of three subsidies, payable in four years: “The danger is this: we (shall thus) breed discontentment in the people. And in the cause of jeopardy, her Majesty’s safety must consist more in the love of her people than in their wealth. And therefore (we should beware) not to give them cause of discontentment.” (Life, i. p. 223). [Note—Queen Elizabeth barred Bacon from her presence for some time afterward.]
Last Edit: 10 months 11 hours ago by Unfoldyourself. Reason: formatting
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 9 months 4 weeks ago #7163

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 5

Shakespeare:
Act 1, Sc2 17-~96 (continued) [this segment from the play is the most important for the many parallels/echoes to Bacon’s writings in one continuous scene]
[next are lines begging at about line 30]

NORFOLK: Not almost appears,
It doth appear; for, upon these taxations,
The clothiers all, not able to maintain
The many to them longing, have put off
The spinsters carders, fullers, weavers, who,
Unfit for other life, compelled by hunger
And lack of other means, in desperate manner,
Daring th’ event to th’ teeth, are all in uproar,
And danger serves among them.

KING: Taxation?
Wherein, and what taxation? My lord Cardinal,
Know you of this taxation?

WOLSEY: Please you sir,
I know but of a single part in aught
Pertains to th’ state, and front but in that file
Where others tell steps with me

Bacon:
Bacon’s warning of “Danger and discontentment” to Elizabeth from excessive taxation of “the general commonalty.”
(Life, i. p. 223)
And Bacon warns Parliament of discontentment caused by the oppression of the poor people and the consequent danger to the queen.
These earlier warnings would be followed later by similar ones in the time of King James:

“They tax your people ad redimendam vexationem imposing upon them and extorting from them divers sums of money.”
(Life, iii. p. 184)


Shakespeare:
Act 1, Sc2 17-~96 (continued)

KATHERNE: No, my lord,
You know no more than others, but you frame
Things that are known alike, which are not wholesome

To those which would not know them and yet must
Perforce be their acquaintance. These exactions
Whereof my sovereign would have note, they are
Most pestilent to th’ hearing, and to bear ‘em
The back is sacrifice to th’ load
. They say
They are devised by you, or else you suffer
Too hard an exclamation.
KING: Still ‘exaction’!
The nature of it? In what kind, let’s know,
Is this exaction?
KATHERINE: I am much too venturous
In tempting of your patience, but am boldened
Under your promised pardon. The subjects’ grief
Comes through commissions which compels from
each
The sixth part of his substance, to be levied
Without delay; and the pretence for this
Is named your wars in France
.
This makes bold mouths:
Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze
Allegiance in them Their curses now
Live where their prayers did, and it’s come to pass
This tractable obedience is a slave
To each incensed will. I would your highness
Would give it quick consideration, for
There is no primer baseness.

Bacon:
“Look into the state of your laws and justice of your land; purge out multiplicity of laws, clear the incertainty of them, repeal those that are snaring, and press the execution of those that are wholesome and necessary.” (Life, i. p. 339)
“Again they use a strange and most unjust exaction.” (Life, iii, p. 184)
“….that there is no pound profit which redoundeth to your Majesty in this course, but induceth and begetteth three pound damage upon your subjects, besides the discontentment.” (Life, iii. P. 185)
War was made but a pretence to poll and pill the people.” (Bacon’s History of Henry VII)
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 9 months 3 weeks ago #7164

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 6

Shakespeare:

Act 1, Sc2 (continued)
KING: By my life,
This is against our pleasure.
WOLSEY: And for me,
I have no further gone in this than by
A single voice, and that not passed me but
By learned approbation of the judges. If I am
Traduced by ignorant tongues, which neither know
My faculties nor person yet will be
The chronicles of my doing, let me say
‘Tis but the fate of place and the rough brake
That virtue must go through.
We must not stint
Our necessary actions in the fear
To cope malicious censurers, which ever,
As ravenous fishes, do a vessel follow
That is new-trimmed, but benefit no further
Than vainly longing. What we oft do best,
By sick interpreters, or weak ones, is
Not ours or not allowed; what worst, as oft,
Hitting a grosser quality, is cried up
For our best act.


[Wolsey continues:]
“ If we shall stand still
In fear our motion will be mocked or carped at
We should take root here where we sit,
Or sit state-statues only.

Bacon:
“All these great misdemeanors are committed in and under your Majesty’s name.” (Life, iii, p. 186)
“We hope your Majesty will hold them twice guilty that commit these offences, once for the oppressing of the people …” (p. 160)
“. . .he complained to my Lord Chancellor of the troublesomeness of his PLACE;” (Works 7.p.170, Spedding et al.)
“The condition of men eminent for virtue is, as this parable well observes, exceeding hard and miserable, because their errors, though ever so small, are not overlooked.” (De Aug., viii. ii., parabola xi, 1623)


‘as ravenous’ = envious
The Arden edition paraphrases this ‘as ravenous fishes etc.’ as: “Just as our best efforts are often rejected or maligned by the envious and disbelieving, so our least impressive performance, catching on at a much more mundane level (or with coarser people), is made out to be our greatest achievement.” - Now read Bacon: “ Envy is a disease in a state like to infection, . . . for infection spreadeth upon that which is sound and tainteth it, so when envy (discontentment) is gotten once into a state it traduceth even the best actions thereof.” (Essay 9– Of Envy, 1625—too late for Shaksper as Shakespeare to have read it).


Also “The lowest virtues gain the praise of the common people, middle ones astonish them, but of the highest they have no sense.” (De Aug., vi. Iii., Exempla Antithetorum.)

Bacon continues: “Which hurteth so much the more, as it is likewise usual in infections, which, if you fear them, you call them upon you.” (Essay 9 – Of Envy, 1625)
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 9 months 3 weeks ago #7165

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 7

Shakespeare:

Act 1, Sc 2 88-102
KING:
“Things done well
And with a care exempt themselves from fear.

Things done without example in their issue
Are to be feared. Have you a precedent
Of this commission?
I believe not any.

We must not rend our subjects from our laws [p. 76]
And stick them in our will.
Sixth part of each?
A trembling contribution
! Why, we take
From every tree lop, bark and part o’th’ timber
,
And though we leave it with a root thus hacked
The air will drink the sap. To every county
Where this is questioned send our letters with
Free pardon to each man
that has denied
The force of this commission.
Pray look to ’t:
I put it to your care.”

[These letters were to be sent to the discontented counties of England where ”bold mouths,” “all in uproar” traduced and censured Wolsey on account of his exactions. Thus Henry ended the rebellion not as Menenius Agrippa did, by a fable, but by cancelling Wolsey’s commission, and so removing the cause, as Bacon advises.]

Bacon:

“The judge as long as his judgment was contained within the compass of the law was excused; the subject knew by what law he was to govern himself and his actions; nothing was left to the judge’s discretion;” (Life, iii. Pp. 331-2)
“…unjust sentences, such as we spoke of, which are afterwards drawn into precedents infect and defile the very fountain of justice.” (De Aug., viii. ii., parabola xxv)
“No court of equity should have the right to decree contrary to a statute under any pretext of equity whatever, otherwise the judge would become a legislator, and have all things dependent upon his will.” (De Aug., viii, iii. 44. – Aphorism XLIV)
“ . . . and (for discontent’s sake) mought not be levied upon the poorer sort.” (Letter to Lord Burghley).
They take trees which by law they cannot do” (Life, iii. P. 184)
The first remedy, or prevention, is to remove by all means possible, that material cause of sedition whereof we spake, which is want and poverty in the estate.” (Essay 15, Of Seditions and Troubles, written 1607-12, printed 1625)
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 9 months 3 weeks ago #7166

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 8

Shakespeare:

Act 2.Sc 4.13
KATHERINE:
“Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;
And
to bestow your pity on me,
…… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . having here
No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
Of equal friendship and proceeding.”


Queen Katherine defends herself against two powerful and cunning cardinals (Wolsey and Campeius).
“I am a simple woman, much too weak
To oppose your cunning.”
2.4.107


Katherine to Wolsey:
“You have by fortune and his highness’ favours
Gone slightly o’er low steps.”
Act 2. Sc 4.109


Wolsey (near to death):
“I know myself now, and I feel within me
A peace above all earthly dignities,
A still and quiet conscience.” 3.2.378


[Arden notes: “Cavendish, EETS, is the ultimate, though indirect, source for this exchange, channeled via Stow 1592. Cavendish’s Life of Wolsey was not published until 1641 (and then in a partial version as The Negotiations of Thomas Wolsey), and there is no reason to presume that the playwrights had access to a manuscript” From Arden p. 169. Therefore, it is assumed that, as a source, it must have been indirect.]

Bacon:

Katherine appeals to a supreme equity judge, because the author of their speeches knew as well as Bacon, that the office of a common law judge is to interpret the law, and that the supreme equity judge alone can bestow pity. Francis Bacon was a specialist in Equity and became Head of Equity as Lord Chancellor.
“Take care and provide that our subjects have equal and indifferent justice.” (Life, v, p. 395)
“…equal and indifferent terms and motives of affection.”
(Life, iii, p. 205)


“ . . . so when there appeareth on either side a high hand, violent prosecution, cunning advantages taken, combination, power, great counsel, then is the virtue of the judge seen to make inequality equal; that he may plant his judgment as upon an even ground.” (Essay 56- Of Judicature, 1612)

“ . . . those that are advanced by degrees are less envied than those that are advanced suddenly.” (Essay 9– Of Envy, 1625)

“There is nothing more awakens our resolve and readiness to die than the quieted conscience.”
(Essay 2– Of Death, 1612)


However, a direct source is easily possible. Bacon, as a later Lord Chancellor, presumably, would have had easy access to Cavendish’s unpublished manuscript Life of Wolsey, as one of Wolsey’s successors in office.
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Henry VIII - The Case for Francis Bacon 9 months 2 weeks ago #7167

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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 9

Shakespeare:

Act 4. Sc 2. 37
Katherine:
“. . . He [Wolsey] was a man
of an unbounded stomach …
. . .
his own opinion was his law.”

Act 5, Sc.1. 52
GARDINER:
“…. He’s a rank weed, Sir Thomas,
And we must root him out.”


Act 5, Sc. 2, 58 [Also in Coriolanus 3, 1, ~295]
GARDINER:
“If we suffer,
Out of our easiness and childish pity
To one man’s honour, this contagious sickness,
Farewell, all physic. And what follows then?
Commotions, uproars, with a general taint
Of the whole state, … “


Act 5. Sc 2.138.
SUFFOLK:
“ . . . I told ye all
When we first put this dangerous stone a-rolling
‘Twould fall upon ourselves.”


Bacon:

As mentioned before: “To leave the letter of the law makes the judge a legislator.” (Exempla Antithetorum.) p 75
“ . . . no court of equity should have the right to decree contrary to a statute under any pretext of equity whatever, otherwise the judge would become a legislator, and have all things dependent upon his will.” (De Aug., viii. iii. 44)

Bacon, in the Star Chamber, addressing Judges:
“…. They are like the roots of nettles, which themselves sting not, but yet they bear all the stinging leaves. Let me know of such roots and I will root them out of the country”.
(Life, VI, p. 213)


Infection spreadeth upon that which is sound and tainteth it.
“ (Essay 9 Of Envy, 1625)


“The more laws we make the more snares we lay to entrap ourselves.” (Life, iii. P. 19.)

End of Melsome’s parallels. Melsome shows that the themes expressed in many of these parallel passages are often found throughout both Shakespeare works and Bacon’s writings.
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Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon (as primary author) - 10

Act 3, Sc. 2, 227.2

Enter to Wolsey, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, and the Lord Chamberlain.

This is historically inaccurate according to Holinshed as only the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk entered to Wolsey to take his Great Seal.

NORFOLK: Hear the King’s pleasure, Cardinal, who commands you
To render up the great seal presently Into our hands ….”

The Arden (2000) edition has these notes:

227.2 “Holinshed describes an encounter between Wolsey and the two Dukes only.”
228-32 “The scene now returns to Holinshed, extrapolating from the chronicle account of the confrontation of Wolsey and the Dukes, and incorporating from slightly later in Holinshed the list of charges brought against the Cardinal. Norfolk’s opening speech is almost verbatim Holinshed: ‘the seventeenth of November the king sent the two dukes of Norfolke and Suffolke to the cardinals place at Westminster, who went as they were commanded and finding the cardinall there, they declared that the kings pleasure was that he should surrender up the great seale into their hands….”.
232-5 “This exchange closely parallels Holinshed….”
236-50 “Holinshed’s account is the basis for Wolsey’s defiance here…”

So by these notes it appears that Shakespeare followed Holinshed quite closely from the beginning of this scene. So what reason would he have to significantly change the historical record he was closely following and add in the Earl of Surrey and the Lord Chamberlain? And if he was going to add anyone, why them in particular?

Probably the Baconian Authorship Theory can best provide the most reasonable solution. Here is the comment by Howard Bridgewater (Barrister-at-Law):

“ The extraordinary point about this is that while the writer adheres, with historical accuracy, to the names of two of the peers who were sent to relieve Cardinal Wolsey of the great seal, on the occasion of his downfall, he adds two more to the number of them. And it is remarkable that the titles (though not their only titles) of these other peers are those of two of the four Peers who, upon the occasion of the downfall of Lord Verulam, waited upon him for this same purpose!

While it would be natural enough for Francis Bacon (at this time Lord Verulam) thus to bring the circumstances of Wolsey's fall into line with his own, the chance that anyone else would do so is so remote that, expressed in figures, it could scarcely be greater than as one is to a million. For firstly, what are the chances that anyone at all, other than a man who had suffered the same experience, would, in such a matter, depart at all from the historical requirements of the case? Is it not entirely improbable that the thought of so doing would ever cross the mind of any other person? And if by chance it had done so, what are the chances that he would then have selected, as the other two peers to be sent to relieve Wolsey of his seal, two of those four who actually were sent to do that office in the case of Verulam?”

*Note. - “Surrey” was the second title of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, while the Lord Chamberlain, in Verulam's [Bacon’s] time, was the Earl of Pembroke.
Others have also noted the following famous speech of the same scene as above and it’s relation to Bacon:

Also, in the play Henry VIII its principal character Cardinal Wolsey says a speech in which he’s fallen from greatness. The following lines:

"O Cromwell, Cromwell!
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies."
Act 3, Sc. 2, 454

In 1621 Bacon fell from power, a few months afterward he wrote a letter to King James in which he says "Cardinal Wolsey said that if he had pleased God as he had pleased the King he had not been ruined." Is it a coincidence that Cardinal Wolsey’s fallen greatness exactly fits Francis Bacon’s? And who other than Bacon and major historians such as Holinshed would likely be so interested and familiar with Wolsey’s personality and career?
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