Shakespeare-Bacon Controversy Solved
by Ellis Parker Butler
By Professor Ellis Parker Butler, LL.G.; O.U.K.I.D, etc., University of Camford.
Did Bacon write Shakespeare?
This question, which has so long vexed the literary world, I can now answer with a positive affirmation. Bacon did write Shakespeare. I have the proofs.
My attention was first called to this controversy in the summer of 1902. I had up to that time given it no thought, but happening to spend a few days at Stratford (On-Avon) I visited the Shakespearean birthplace, and upon returning to my inn one evening I asked the waitress to fetch me a light repast of ham, cut from the joint, and eggs.
"The 'am is hall 'et, sir," she assured me, "but I could give you some 'am omelette, sir. Or some bacon, sir."
This remark, from this guileless maid, attracted my attention, and the more I studied it the more I became convinced it contained a hidden meaning, which she was seeking to convey to me. In short, by considering the words carefully, I discovered they were a cryptogrammatical phonorythm. If the utterly useless syllable "om" be dropped from "ham omlette" we have "hamlette" or Hamlet. No one but a fool can deny this. That was what I first discovered. But why did the serving maid utter the word "sir" three times? Evidently but to emphasise it. "Sir -- sir -- sir!" Sir what? Sir Bacon! In other words, she was telling me that Sir Bacon was the author of Hamlet. I was immediately convinced. She was a very, very pretty girl. Truth and beauty are one.
Following this discovery, I wrote my essay entitled "Shakespeare or Bacon; Positive Proof That Bacon Wrote Shakespeare," which was refused by eighteen magazines and reviews. It was evident the public was still unconvinced, and I set about securing more positive proof -- or rather, proof that would convince the multitude. The thought immediately came to me that the best method would be to find something -- as a box or coffer -- hidden in the bottom of some river or brook.
Upon consideration I decided to find something buried in the river Zee, and proceeded by tram to Haddonsfield, Berks, through which the Zee winds its way. Here I secured the services of a surveyor, Mr. Henry Wiggins, Esq., and a navvy, Bill Dykes, and began operations. Setting up his stethoscope at the corner of the third house from the left as you go up the hill from the right hand turn, Mr. Wiggins triangulated his quadrant against the perhelion and subtracted the square root, thus giving the bicuspid parallel, which was what we wished to secure. Keeping his eye on this spot Bill Dykes walked into the river and felt along the bottom with his hand.
"I feels summat 'ard, zir," he cried in a moment, and even he, stupid fellow as he was, expressed his exultation by a tremor of the voice.
"Bring it here," I cried. My pulse was rapid, and my temperature about 101 1/2. The good fellow bent down, grasped the hard object and brought it to the surface of the water, and in a moment he had it lying on the bank of the river. Imagine our chagrin when we discovered he had pulled up the mouth of the Haddonsfield sewer and had brought it to shore. On account of this misfortune we were compelled to lose a week before we could get bail. We discovered later that our error was in subtracting fourteen from seven in our computations with the stethoscope. As a matter of fact, fourteen from seven can't be done; you have to borrow ten. But such slight errors are apt to creep in. It is not always easy to borrow ten.
Our next attempt was better rewarded. Upon wading into the river Bill Dykes stubbed his toe against a hard object, which, upon raising it -- and this required our united efforts -- we found to be a well-preserved Chippendale highboy of the Elizabethan period. Opening the lid we peered in and discovered a talcum tin sealed in rubber sheeting, which I tore open with trembling hands. In a moment I had the talcum tin open, and found in my hands a leather-bound memorandum book about eight and one-half by five and one-half inches in size in perfect preservation. Upon the cover of this book was stamped in gilt "Bacon, Hys Booke. Kepe Out. Thyss Means You!" I immediately opened the book.
I need not say here that what I saw in that book will, for the most part, be withheld for publication in my forthcoming volume (Doublepage, Scribbler and Company, 8vo. $5.00. Postage, 28 cents), entitled Shake or Bake, Who Done It?, but I give here one page reproduced by photography from the memorandum book found in the Chippendale high-boy. A very cursory examination of this page is alone sufficient to convince the most sceptical that Bacon did indeed write Shakespeare. Compare the signature of Sir Roger Bacon at the bottom of the page with that of William Shakespeare at the top. Evidently Bacon was trying to create a "fake" signature to affix to the plays to hide his identity, but the resemblance between the two signatures is at once apparent.
But even more important is the evidence elsewhere on this page. "Write Novum Organum by June 10th," assures us beyond a doubt that Roger Bacon himself penned the page. "Began Hamlet June 9th, 8 A. M., completed same June 9th, noon," leaves no doubt that the Norum Organum and Hamlet were written by the same hand. Indeed, the page seems to have been a sort of commonplace page on which Bacon scribbled, and this was the more likely, as the rest of the book is composed of laundry lists, "income and expense" accounts, and so forth, on which pages he would not be likely to scribble at random. Observe the manner in which, when seeking a nom de plume, he tried one name and then another -- "Shakebeer," "Shakehalberd," "Breakspear," "Shakespear," and so forth. And also how he arrives at the final name as we know it after trying "Tommy Shakespear," "Jimmy Shakespear," and so forth. This is all very interesting. Also interesting is his attempt to delineate the man he has created, and the rough notes for titles for plays he no doubt had in mind at that time, as Omlette, Prince of Eggsylvania. This can be nothing but our beloved Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, in embryo. "Mike Booth"; what but Macbeth? And "Welsh Rabbit Dream?" Is this not the first hint of the comedy we all love?
To the student of Shakespeare this page found by me in the Zee will be a source of endless study. As for myself, I am convinced the matter of who wrote Shakespeare's plays is settled forever. But one thing troubles me now. When will the Aldermen of the city of New York grant me the freedom of the city?
- Possibly an error. There seems to be no such river. (Editor.)
- There seems to be no Haddonsfield in Berks: Does the author mean Haddonfield, New Jersey? (Editor.)
- In America the stethoscope is not used by surveyors. Probably an error of the typist. (Editor.)
- No doubt a typographical error. Except for the facts that Chippendale made no high-boys, and lived long after the Elizabethan era the statement seems plausible. (Editor.)
- High-boys have no lids. (Editor.)
- Nonsense! There were no talcum tins until the nineteenth century. (Editor.)
- This is utter poppycock. Rubber is a much later discovery. (Editor.)
- We are inclined to doubt this. How could a book of this size be forced into a talcum tin? (Editor.)
- This is important if true. Heretofore the controversy has been that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare, and it was not known that Roger Bacon was a knight. This seems a most important contribution to the history of petrified English literature. (Editor.)
- Strikingly so! (Editor.)
- Roger (?) Bacon? (Editor.)
- Indeed it is! (Editor.)