Baconian Theory - Alleged Coded References To Bacon's Authorship

Alleged Coded References To Bacon's Authorship

Baconians have claimed that some contemporaries of Bacon and Shakespeare were in on the secret of Bacon's authorship, and have left hints of this in their writings. "There can be no doubt," said Caldecott, "that Ben Jonson was in possession of the secret composition of Shakespeare's works." An intimate of both Bacon and Shakespeare – he was for a time the former's stenographer and Latin interpreter, and had his debut as a playwright produced by the latter – he was placed perfectly to be in the know. He did not name Shakespeare among the sixteen greatest cards of the epoch but wrote of Bacon that he "hath filled up all the numbers and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece and haughty Rome so that he may be named, and stand as the mark and acme of our language." Jonson's First-Folio tribute to "The Author Mr William Shakespeare", contains the same words, stating that Shakespeare is as good as "all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome" produced. According to Caldecott, "If Ben Jonson knew that the name 'Shakespeare' was a mere cloak for Bacon, it is easy enough to reconcile the application of the same language indifferently to one and the other. Otherwise," declared Caldecott, "it is not easily explicable.".

Baconians Walter Begley and Bertram G. Theobald claimed that Elizabethan satirists Joseph Hall and John Marston alluded to Francis Bacon as the true author of Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece by using the sobriquet "Labeo" in a series of poems published in 1597-8. They take this to be a coded reference to Bacon on the grounds that the name derives from Rome's most famous legal scholar, Marcus Labeo, with Bacon holding an equivalent position in Elizabethan England. Hall denigrates several poems by Labeo and states that he passes off criticism to "shift it to another's name". This is taken to imply that he published under a pseudonym. In the following year Marston used Bacon's Latin motto in a poem and seems to quote from Venus and Adonis, which he attributes to Labeo. Theobald argued that this confirmed that Hall's Labeo was known to be Bacon and that he wrote Venus and Adonis. Critics of this view argue that the name Labeo derives from Attius Labeo, a notoriously bad poet, and that Hall's Labeo could refer to one of many poets of the time, or even be a composite figure, standing for the triumph of bad verse. Also, Marston's use of the Latin motto is a different poem from the one which alludes to Venus and Adonis. Only the latter uses the name Labeo, so there is no link between Labeo and Bacon.

In 1645 a satirical poem was published entitled The Great Assizes Holden in Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours. This describes an imaginary trial of recent writers for crimes against literature. Apollo presides at a trial. Bacon ("The Lord Verulam, Chancellor of Parnassus") heads a group of scholars who act as the judges. The jury comprises poets and playwrights, including "William Shakespere". One of the convicted "criminals" challenges the court, attacking the credentials of the jury, including Shakespeare, who is called a mere "mimic". Despite the fact that Bacon and Shakespeare appear as different individuals, Baconians have argued that this is a coded assertion of Bacon's authorship of the canon.

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