Sunday, November 29, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 4 Passions Commissions Taxation

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. 

Act 1, Sc 1
“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

“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.)

Act 1, Sc 2 17-~96
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”]

“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.]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 3 - British Politics History

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.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 2 - Shakespeare Puzzle

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.”