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Is Shakespeare Dead? by Mark Twain

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Scattered here and there through the stacks of unpublished
manuscript which constitute this formidable Autobiography and Diary
of mine, certain chapters will in some distant future be found
which deal with "Claimants"--claimants historically notorious:
Satan, Claimant; the Golden Calf, Claimant; the Veiled Prophet of
Khorassan, Claimant; Louis XVII., Claimant; William Shakespeare,
Claimant; Arthur Orton, Claimant; Mary Baker G. Eddy, Claimant--and
the rest of them. Eminent Claimants, successful Claimants,
defeated Claimants, royal Claimants, pleb Claimants, showy
Claimants, shabby Claimants, revered Claimants, despised Claimants,
twinkle starlike here and there and yonder through the mists of
history and legend and tradition--and oh, all the darling tribe are
clothed in mystery and romance, and we read about them with deep
interest and discuss them with loving sympathy or with rancorous
resentment, according to which side we hitch ourselves to. It has
always been so with the human race. There was never a Claimant
that couldn't get a hearing, nor one that couldn't accumulate a
rapturous following, no matter how flimsy and apparently
unauthentic his claim might be. Arthur Orton's claim that he was
the lost Tichborne baronet come to life again was as flimsy as Mrs.
Eddy's that she wrote Science and Health from the direct dictation
of the Deity; yet in England near forty years ago Orton had a huge
army of devotees and incorrigible adherents, many of whom remained
stubbornly unconvinced after their fat god had been proven an
impostor and jailed as a perjurer, and to-day Mrs. Eddy's following
is not only immense, but is daily augmenting in numbers and
enthusiasm. Orton had many fine and educated minds among his
adherents, Mrs. Eddy has had the like among hers from the
beginning. Her church is as well equipped in those particulars as
is any other church. Claimants can always count upon a following,
it doesn't matter who they are, nor what they claim, nor whether
they come with documents or without. It was always so. Down out
of the long-vanished past, across the abyss of the ages, if you
listen you can still hear the believing multitudes shouting for
Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel.

A friend has sent me a new book, from England--The Shakespeare
Problem Restated--well restated and closely reasoned; and my fifty
years' interest in that matter--asleep for the last three years--is
excited once more. It is an interest which was born of Delia
Bacon's book--away back in that ancient day--1857, or maybe 1856.
About a year later my pilot-master, Bixby, transferred me from his
own steamboat to the Pennsylvania, and placed me under the orders
and instructions of George Ealer--dead now, these many, many years.
I steered for him a good many months--as was the humble duty of the
pilot-apprentice: stood a daylight watch and spun the wheel under
the severe superintendence and correction of the master. He was a
prime chess player and an idolater of Shakespeare. He would play
chess with anybody; even with me, and it cost his official dignity
something to do that. Also--quite uninvited--he would read
Shakespeare to me; not just casually, but by the hour, when it was
his watch, and I was steering. He read well, but not profitably
for me, because he constantly injected commands into the text.
That broke it all up, mixed it all up, tangled it all up--to that
degree, in fact, that if we were in a risky and difficult piece of
river an ignorant person couldn't have told, sometimes, which
observations were Shakespeare's and which were Ealer's. For

What man dare, _I_ dare!

Approach thou WHAT are you laying in the leads for? what a hell of
an idea! like the rugged ease her off a little, ease her off!
rugged Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros or the THERE she goes!
meet her, meet her! didn't you KNOW she'd smell the reef if you
crowded it like that? Hyrcan tiger; take any shape but that and my
firm nerves she'll be in the WOODS the first you know! stop the
starboard! come ahead strong on the larboard! back the starboard! .
. . NOW then, you're all right; come ahead on the starboard;
straighten up and go 'long, never tremble: or be alive again, and
dare me to the desert damnation can't you keep away from that
greasy water? pull her down! snatch her! snatch her baldheaded!
with thy sword; if trembling I inhabit then, lay in the leads!--no,
only the starboard one, leave the other alone, protest me the baby
of a girl. Hence horrible shadow! eight bells--that watchman's
asleep again, I reckon, go down and call Brown yourself, unreal
mockery, hence!"

He certainly was a good reader, and splendidly thrilling and stormy
and tragic, but it was a damage to me, because I have never since
been able to read Shakespeare in a calm and sane way. I cannot rid
it of his explosive interlardings, they break in everywhere with
their irrelevant "What in hell are you up to NOW! pull her down!
more! MORE!--there now, steady as you go," and the other
disorganizing interruptions that were always leaping from his
mouth. When I read Shakespeare now, I can hear them as plainly as
I did in that long-departed time--fifty-one years ago. I never
regarded Ealer's readings as educational. Indeed they were a
detriment to me.

His contributions to the text seldom improved it, but barring that
detail he was a good reader, I can say that much for him. He did
not use the book, and did not need to; he knew his Shakespeare as
well as Euclid ever knew his multiplication table.

Did he have something to say--this Shakespeare-adoring Mississippi
pilot--anent Delia Bacon's book? Yes. And he said it; said it all
the time, for months--in the morning watch, the middle watch, the
dog watch; and probably kept it going in his sleep. He bought the
literature of the dispute as fast as it appeared, and we discussed
it all through thirteen hundred miles of river four times traversed
in every thirty-five days--the time required by that swift boat to
achieve two round trips. We discussed, and discussed, and
discussed, and disputed and disputed and disputed; at any rate he
did, and I got in a word now and then when he slipped a cog and
there was a vacancy. He did his arguing with heat, with energy,
with violence; and I did mine with the reserve and moderation of a
subordinate who does not like to be flung out of a pilot-house that
is perched forty feet above the water. He was fiercely loyal to
Shakespeare and cordially scornful of Bacon and of all the
pretensions of the Baconians. So was I--at first. And at first he
was glad that that was my attitude. There were even indications
that he admired it; indications dimmed, it is true, by the distance
that lay between the lofty boss-pilotical altitude and my lowly
one, yet perceptible to me; perceptible, and translatable into a
compliment--compliment coming down from above the snow-line and not
well thawed in the transit, and not likely to set anything afire,
not even a cub-pilot's self-conceit; still a detectable compliment,
and precious.

Naturally it flattered me into being more loyal to Shakespeare--if
possible--than I was before, and more prejudiced against Bacon--if
possible than I was before. And so we discussed and discussed,
both on the same side, and were happy. For a while. Only for a
while. Only for a very little while, a very, very, very little
while. Then the atmosphere began to change; began to cool off.

A brighter person would have seen what the trouble was, earlier
than I did, perhaps, but I saw it early enough for all practical
purposes. You see, he was of an argumentative disposition.
Therefore it took him but a little time to get tired of arguing
with a person who agreed with everything he said and consequently
never furnished him a provocative to flare up and show what he
could do when it came to clear, cold, hard, rose-cut, hundred-
faceted, diamond-flashing reasoning. That was his name for it. It
has been applied since, with complacency, as many as several times,
in the Bacon-Shakespeare scuffle. On the Shakespeare side.

Then the thing happened which has happened to more persons than to
me when principle and personal interest found themselves in
opposition to each other and a choice had to be made: I let
principle go, and went over to the other side. Not the entire way,
but far enough to answer the requirements of the case. That is to
say, I took this attitude, to wit: I only BELIEVED Bacon wrote
Shakespeare, whereas I KNEW Shakespeare didn't. Ealer was
satisfied with that, and the war broke loose. Study, practice,
experience in handling my end of the matter presently enabled me to
take my new position almost seriously; a little bit later, utterly
seriously; a little later still, lovingly, gratefully, devotedly;
finally: fiercely, rabidly, uncompromisingly. After that, I was
welded to my faith, I was theoretically ready to die for it, and I
looked down with compassion not unmixed with scorn, upon everybody
else's faith that didn't tally with mine. That faith, imposed upon
me by self-interest in that ancient day, remains my faith to-day,
and in it I find comfort, solace, peace, and never-failing joy.
You see how curiously theological it is. The "rice Christian" of
the Orient goes through the very same steps, when he is after rice
and the missionary is after HIM; he goes for rice, and remains to

Ealer did a lot of our "reasoning"--not to say substantially all of
it. The slaves of his cult have a passion for calling it by that
large name. We others do not call our inductions and deductions
and reductions by any name at all. They show for themselves, what
they are, and we can with tranquil confidence leave the world to
ennoble them with a title of its own choosing.

Now and then when Ealer had to stop to cough, I pulled my
induction-talents together and hove the controversial lead myself:
always getting eight feet, eight-and-a-half, often nine, sometimes
even quarter-less-twain--as _I_ believed; but always "no bottom,"
as HE said.

I got the best of him only once. I prepared myself. I wrote out a
passage from Shakespeare--it may have been the very one I quoted a
while ago, I don't remember--and riddled it with his wild
steamboatful interlardings. When an unrisky opportunity offered,
one lovely summer day, when we had sounded and buoyed a tangled
patch of crossings known as Hell's Half Acre, and were aboard again
and he had sneaked the Pennsylvania triumphantly through it without
once scraping sand, and the A. T. Lacey had followed in our wake
and got stuck, and he was feeling good, I showed it to him. It
amused him. I asked him to fire it off: read it; read it, I
diplomatically added, as only he could read dramatic poetry. The
compliment touched him where he lived. He did read it; read it
with surpassing fire and spirit; read it as it will never be read
again; for HE knew how to put the right music into those thunderous
interlardings and make them seem a part of the text, make them
sound as if they were bursting from Shakespeare's own soul, each
one of them a golden inspiration and not to be left out without
damage to the massed and magnificent whole.

I waited a week, to let the incident fade; waited longer; waited
until he brought up for reasonings and vituperation my pet
position, my pet argument, the one which I was fondest of, the one
which I prized far above all others in my ammunition-wagon, to wit:
that Shakespeare couldn't have written Shakespeare's works, for the
reason that the man who wrote them was limitlessly familiar with
the laws, and the law-courts, and law-proceedings, and lawyer-talk,
and lawyer-ways--and if Shakespeare was possessed of the
infinitely-divided star-dust that constituted this vast wealth, how
did he get it, and WHERE, and WHEN?

"From books."

From books! That was always the idea. I answered as my readings
of the champions of my side of the great controversy had taught me
to answer: that a man can't handle glibly and easily and
comfortably and successfully the argot of a trade at which he has
not personally served. He will make mistakes; he will not, and
cannot, get the trade-phrasings precisely and exactly right; and
the moment he departs, by even a shade, from a common trade-form,
the reader who has served that trade will know the writer HASN'T.
Ealer would not be convinced; he said a man could learn how to
correctly handle the subtleties and mysteries and free-masonries of
any trade by careful reading and studying. But when I got him to
read again the passage from Shakespeare with the interlardings, he
perceived, himself, that books couldn't teach a student a
bewildering multitude of pilot-phrases so thoroughly and perfectly
that he could talk them off in book and play or conversation and
make no mistake that a pilot would not immediately discover. It
was a triumph for me. He was silent awhile, and I knew what was
happening: he was losing his temper. And I knew he would
presently close the session with the same old argument that was
always his stay and his support in time of need; the same old
argument, the one I couldn't answer--because I dasn't: the
argument that I was an ass, and better shut up. He delivered it,
and I obeyed.

Oh, dear, how long ago it was--how pathetically long ago! And here
am I, old, forsaken, forlorn and alone, arranging to get that
argument out of somebody again.

When a man has a passion for Shakespeare, it goes without saying
that he keeps company with other standard authors. Ealer always
had several high-class books in the pilot-house, and he read the
same ones over and over again, and did not care to change to newer
and fresher ones. He played well on the flute, and greatly enjoyed
hearing himself play. So did I. He had a notion that a flute
would keep its health better if you took it apart when it was not
standing a watch; and so, when it was not on duty it took its rest,
disjointed, on the compass-shelf under the breast-board. When the
Pennsylvania blew up and became a drifting rack-heap freighted with
wounded and dying poor souls (my young brother Henry among them),
pilot Brown had the watch below, and was probably asleep and never
knew what killed him; but Ealer escaped unhurt. He and his pilot-
house were shot up into the air; then they fell, and Ealer sank
through the ragged cavern where the hurricane deck and the boiler
deck had been, and landed in a nest of ruins on the main deck, on
top of one of the unexploded boilers, where he lay prone in a fog
of scalding and deadly steam. But not for long. He did not lose
his head: long familiarity with danger had taught him to keep it,
in any and all emergencies. He held his coat-lappels to his nose
with one hand, to keep out the steam, and scrabbled around with the
other till he found the joints of his flute, then he is took
measures to save himself alive, and was successful. I was not on
board. I had been put ashore in New Orleans by Captain
Klinefelter. The reason--however, I have told all about it in the
book called Old Times on the Mississippi, and it isn't important
anyway, it is so long ago.


When I was a Sunday-school scholar something more than sixty years
ago, I became interested in Satan, and wanted to find out all I
could about him. I began to ask questions, but my class-teacher,
Mr. Barclay the stone-mason, was reluctant about answering them, it
seemed to me. I was anxious to be praised for turning my thoughts
to serious subjects when there wasn't another boy in the village
who could be hired to do such a thing. I was greatly interested in
the incident of Eve and the serpent, and thought Eve's calmness was
perfectly noble. I asked Mr. Barclay if he had ever heard of
another woman who, being approached by a serpent, would not excuse
herself and break for the nearest timber. He did not answer my
question, but rebuked me for inquiring into matters above my age
and comprehension. I will say for Mr. Barclay that he was willing
to tell me the facts of Satan's history, but he stopped there: he
wouldn't allow any discussion of them.

In the course of time we exhausted the facts. There were only five
or six of them, you could set them all down on a visiting-card. I
was disappointed. I had been meditating a biography, and was
grieved to find that there were no materials. I said as much, with
the tears running down. Mr. Barclay's sympathy and compassion were
aroused, for he was a most kind and gentle-spirited man, and he
patted me on the head and cheered me up by saying there was a whole
vast ocean of materials! I can still feel the happy thrill which
these blessed words shot through me.

Then he began to bail out that ocean's riches for my encouragement
and joy. Like this: it was "conjectured"--though not established-
-that Satan was originally an angel in heaven; that he fell; that
he rebelled, and brought on a war; that he was defeated, and
banished to perdition. Also, "we have reason to believe" that
later he did so-and-so; that "we are warranted in supposing" that
at a subsequent time he travelled extensively, seeking whom he
might devour; that a couple of centuries afterward, "as tradition
instructs us," he took up the cruel trade of tempting people to
their ruin, with vast and fearful results; that by-and-by, "as the
probabilities seem to indicate," he may have done certain things,
he might have done certain other things, he must have done still
other things.

And so on and so on. We set down the five known facts by
themselves, on a piece of paper, and numbered it "page 1"; then on
fifteen hundred other pieces of paper we set down the
"conjectures," and "suppositions," and "maybes," and "perhapses,"
and "doubtlesses," and "rumors," and "guesses," and
"probabilities," and "likelihoods," and "we are permitted to
thinks," and "we are warranted in believings," and "might have
beens," and "could have beens," and "must have beens," and
"unquestionablys," and "without a shadow of doubts"--and behold!

MATERIALS? Why, we had enough to build a biography of Shakespeare!

Yet he made me put away my pen; he would not let me write the
history of Satan. Why? Because, as he said, he had suspicions;
suspicions that my attitude in this matter was not reverent; and
that a person must be reverent when writing about the sacred
characters. He said any one who spoke flippantly of Satan would be
frowned upon by the religious world and also be brought to account.

I assured him, in earnest and sincere words, that he had wholly
misconceived my attitude; that I had the highest respect for Satan,
and that my reverence for him equalled, and possibly even exceeded,
that of any member of any church. I said it wounded me deeply to
perceive by his words that he thought I would make fun of Satan,
and deride him, laugh at him, scoff at him: whereas in truth I had
never thought of such a thing, but had only a warm desire to make
fun of those others and laugh at THEM. "What others?" "Why, the
Supposers, the Perhapsers, the Might-Have-Beeners, the Could-Have-
Beeners, the Must-Have-Beeners, the Without-a-Shadow-of-Doubters,
the We-are-Warranted-in-Believingers, and all that funny crop of
solemn architects who have taken a good solid foundation of five
indisputable and unimportant facts and built upon it a Conjectural
Satan thirty miles high."

What did Mr. Barclay do then? Was he disarmed? Was he silenced?
No. He was shocked. He was so shocked that he visibly shuddered.
He said the Satanic Traditioners and Perhapsers and Conjecturers
were THEMSELVES sacred! As sacred as their work. So sacred that
whoso ventured to mock them or make fun of their work, could not
afterward enter any respectable house, even by the back door.

How true were his words, and how wise! How fortunate it would have
been for me if I had heeded them. But I was young, I was but seven
years of age, and vain, foolish, and anxious to attract attention.
I wrote the biography, and have never been in a respectable house


How curious and interesting is the parallel--as far as poverty of
biographical details is concerned--between Satan and Shakespeare.
It is wonderful, it is unique, it stands quite alone, there is
nothing resembling it in history, nothing resembling it in romance,
nothing approaching it even in tradition. How sublime is their
position, and how over-topping, how sky-reaching, how supreme--the
two Great Unknowns, the two Illustrious Conjecturabilities! They
are the best-known unknown persons that have ever drawn breath upon
the planet.

For the instruction of the ignorant I will make a list, now, of
those details of Shakespeare's history which are FACTS--verified
facts, established facts, undisputed facts.


He was born on the 23d of April, 1564.

Of good farmer-class parents who could not read, could not write,
could not sign their names.

At Stratford, a small back settlement which in that day was shabby
and unclean, and densely illiterate. Of the nineteen important men
charged with the government of the town, thirteen had to "make
their mark" in attesting important documents, because they could
not write their names.

Of the first eighteen years of his life NOTHING is known. They are
a blank.

On the 27th of November (1582) William Shakespeare took out a
license to marry Anne Whateley.

Next day William Shakespeare took out a license to marry Anne
Hathaway. She was eight years his senior.

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. In a hurry. By grace
of a reluctantly-granted dispensation there was but one publication
of the banns.

Within six months the first child was born.

About two (blank) years followed, during which period NOTHING AT
ALL HAPPENED TO SHAKESPEARE, so far as anybody knows.

Then came twins--1585. February.

Two blank years follow.

Then--1587--he makes a ten-year visit to London, leaving the family

Five blank years follow. During this period NOTHING HAPPENED TO
HIM, as far as anybody actually knows.

Then--1592--there is mention of him as an actor.

Next year--1593--his name appears in the official list of players.

Next year--1594--he played before the queen. A detail of no
consequence: other obscurities did it every year of the forty-five
of her reign. And remained obscure.

Three pretty full years follow. Full of play-acting. Then

In 1597 he bought New Place, Stratford.

Thirteen or fourteen busy years follow; years in which he
accumulated money, and also reputation as actor and manager.

Meantime his name, liberally and variously spelt, had become
associated with a number of great plays and poems, as (ostensibly)
author of the same.

Some of these, in these years and later, were pirated, but he made
no protest. Then--1610-11--he returned to Stratford and settled
down for good and all, and busied himself in lending money, trading
in tithes, trading in land and houses; shirking a debt of forty-one
shillings, borrowed by his wife during his long desertion of his
family; suing debtors for shillings and coppers; being sued himself
for shillings and coppers; and acting as confederate to a neighbor
who tried to rob the town of its rights in a certain common, and
did not succeed.

He lived five or six years--till 1616--in the joy of these elevated
pursuits. Then he made a will, and signed each of its three pages
with his name.

A thoroughgoing business man's will. It named in minute detail
every item of property he owned in the world--houses, lands, sword,
silver-gilt bowl, and so on--all the way down to his "second-best
bed" and its furniture.

It carefully and calculatingly distributed his riches among the
members of his family, overlooking no individual of it. Not even
his wife: the wife he had been enabled to marry in a hurry by
urgent grace of a special dispensation before he was nineteen; the
wife whom he had left husbandless so many years; the wife who had
had to borrow forty-one shillings in her need, and which the lender
was never able to collect of the prosperous husband, but died at
last with the money still lacking. No, even this wife was
remembered in Shakespeare's will.

He left her that "second-best bed."

And NOT ANOTHER THING; not even a penny to bless her lucky
widowhood with.

It was eminently and conspicuously a business man's will, not a

It mentioned NOT A SINGLE BOOK.

Books were much more precious than swords and silver-gilt bowls and
second-best beds in those days, and when a departing person owned
one he gave it a high place in his will.


Many poets have died poor, but this is the only one in history that
has died THIS poor; the others all left literary remains behind.
Also a book. Maybe two.

If Shakespeare had owned a dog--but we need not go into that: we
know he would have mentioned it in his will. If a good dog,
Susanna would have got it; if an inferior one his wife would have
got a dower interest in it. I wish he had had a dog, just so we
could see how painstakingly he would have divided that dog among
the family, in his careful business way.

He signed the will in three places.

In earlier years he signed two other official documents.

These five signatures still exist.


Was he prejudiced against the art? His granddaughter, whom he
loved, was eight years old when he died, yet she had had no
teaching, he left no provision for her education although he was
rich, and in her mature womanhood she couldn't write and couldn't
tell her husband's manuscript from anybody else's--she thought it
was Shakespeare's.

When Shakespeare died in Stratford IT WAS NOT AN EVENT. It made no
more stir in England than the death of any other forgotten theatre-
actor would have made. Nobody came down from London; there were no
lamenting poems, no eulogies, no national tears--there was merely
silence, and nothing more. A striking contrast with what happened
when Ben Jonson, and Francis Bacon, and Spenser, and Raleigh and
the other distinguished literary folk of Shakespeare's time passed
from life! No praiseful voice was lifted for the lost Bard of
Avon; even Ben Jonson waited seven years before he lifted his.

Stratford-on-Avon never wrote a play in his life.

SO FAR AS ANYBODY KNOWS AND CAN PROVE, he never wrote a letter to
anybody in his life.


So far as any one KNOWS AND CAN PROVE, Shakespeare of Stratford
wrote only one poem during his life. This one is authentic. He
did write that one--a fact which stands undisputed; he wrote the
whole of it; he wrote the whole of it out of his own head. He
commanded that this work of art be engraved upon his tomb, and he
was obeyed. There it abides to this day. This is it:

Good friend for Iesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare:
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones
And curst be he yt moves my bones.

In the list as above set down, will be found EVERY POSITIVELY KNOWN
fact of Shakespeare's life, lean and meagre as the invoice is.
Beyond these details we know NOT A THING about him. All the rest
of his vast history, as furnished by the biographers, is built up,
course upon course, of guesses, inferences, theories, conjectures--
an Eiffel Tower of artificialities rising sky-high from a very flat
and very thin foundation of inconsequential facts.



The historians "suppose" that Shakespeare attended the Free School
in Stratford from the time he was seven years old till he was
thirteen. There is no EVIDENCE in existence that he ever went to
school at all.

The historians "infer" that he got his Latin in that school--the
school which they "suppose" he attended.

They "suppose" his father's declining fortunes made it necessary
for him to leave the school they supposed he attended, and get to
work and help support his parents and their ten children. But
there is no evidence that he ever entered or retired from the
school they suppose he attended.

They "suppose" he assisted his father in the butchering business;
and that, being only a boy, he didn't have to do full-grown
butchering, but only slaughtered calves. Also, that whenever he
killed a calf he made a high-flown speech over it. This
supposition rests upon the testimony of a man who wasn't there at
the time; a man who got it from a man who could have been there,
but did not say whether he was or not; and neither of them thought
to mention it for decades, and decades, and decades, and two more
decades after Shakespeare's death (until old age and mental decay
had refreshed and vivified their memories). They hadn't two facts
in stock about the long-dead distinguished citizen, but only just
the one: he slaughtered calves and broke into oratory while he was
at it. Curious. They had only one fact, yet the distinguished
citizen had spent twenty-six years in that little town--just half
his lifetime. However, rightly viewed, it was the most important
fact, indeed almost the only important fact, of Shakespeare's life
in Stratford. Rightly viewed. For experience is an author's most
valuable asset; experience is the thing that puts the muscle and
the breath and the warm blood into the book he writes. Rightly
viewed, calf-butchering accounts for Titus Andronicus, the only
play--ain't it?--that the Stratford Shakespeare ever wrote; and yet
it is the only one everybody tries to chouse him out of, the
Baconians included.

The historians find themselves "justified in believing" that the
young Shakespeare poached upon Sir Thomas Lucy's deer preserves and
got haled before that magistrate for it. But there is no shred of
respectworthy evidence that anything of the kind happened.

The historians, having argued the thing that MIGHT have happened
into the thing that DID happen, found no trouble in turning Sir
Thomas Lucy into Mr. Justice Shallow. They have long ago convinced
the world--on surmise and without trustworthy evidence--that
Shallow IS Sir Thomas.

The next addition to the young Shakespeare's Stratford history
comes easy. The historian builds it out of the surmised deer-
stealing, and the surmised trial before the magistrate, and the
surmised vengeance-prompted satire upon the magistrate in the play:
result, the young Shakespeare was a wild, wild, wild, oh SUCH a
wild young scamp, and that gratuitous slander is established for
all time! It is the very way Professor Osborn and I built the
colossal skeleton brontosaur that stands fifty-seven feet long and
sixteen feet high in the Natural History Museum, the awe and
admiration of all the world, the stateliest skeleton that exists on
the planet. We had nine bones, and we built the rest of him out of
plaster of paris. We ran short of plaster of paris, or we'd have
built a brontosaur that could sit down beside the Stratford
Shakespeare and none but an expert could tell which was biggest or
contained the most plaster.

Shakespeare pronounced Venus and Adonis "the first heir of his
invention," apparently implying that it was his first effort at
literary composition. He should not have said it. It has been an
embarrassment to his historians these many, many years. They have
to make him write that graceful and polished and flawless and
beautiful poem before he escaped from Stratford and his family--
1586 or '87--age, twenty-two, or along there; because within the
next five years he wrote five great plays, and could not have found
time to write another line.

It is sorely embarrassing. If he began to slaughter calves, and
poach deer, and rollick around, and learn English, at the earliest
likely moment--say at thirteen, when he was supposably wrenched
from that school where he was supposably storing up Latin for
future literary use--he had his youthful hands full, and much more
than full. He must have had to put aside his Warwickshire dialect,
which wouldn't be understood in London, and study English very
hard. Very hard indeed; incredibly hard, almost, if the result of
that labor was to be the smooth and rounded and flexible and
letter-perfect English of the Venus and Adonis in the space of ten
years; and at the same time learn great and fine and unsurpassable
literary form.

However, it is "conjectured" that he accomplished all this and
more, much more: learned law and its intricacies; and the complex
procedure of the law courts; and all about soldiering, and
sailoring, and the manners and customs and ways of royal courts and
aristocratic society; and likewise accumulated in his one head
every kind of knowledge the learned then possessed, and every kind
of humble knowledge possessed by the lowly and the ignorant; and
added thereto a wider and more intimate knowledge of the world's
great literatures, ancient and modern, than was possessed by any
other man of his time--for he was going to make brilliant and easy
and admiration-compelling use of these splendid treasures the
moment he got to London. And according to the surmisers, that is
what he did. Yes, although there was no one in Stratford able to
teach him these things, and no library in the little village to dig
them out of. His father could not read, and even the surmisers
surmise that he did not keep a library.

It is surmised by the biographers that the young Shakespeare got
his vast knowledge of the law and his familiar and accurate
acquaintance with the manners and customs and shop-talk of lawyers
through being for a time the CLERK OF A STRATFORD COURT; just as a
bright lad like me, reared in a village on the banks of the
Mississippi, might become perfect in knowledge of the Behring
Strait whale-fishery and the shop-talk of the veteran exercisers of
that adventure-bristling trade through catching catfish with a
"trot-line" Sundays. But the surmise is damaged by the fact that
there is no evidence--and not even tradition--that the young
Shakespeare was ever clerk of a law court.

It is further surmised that the young Shakespeare accumulated his
law-treasures in the first years of his sojourn in London, through
"amusing himself" by learning book-law in his garret and by picking
up lawyer-talk and the rest of it through loitering about the law-
courts and listening. But it is only surmise; there is no EVIDENCE
that he ever did either of those things. They are merely a couple
of chunks of plaster of paris.

There is a legend that he got his bread and butter by holding
horses in front of the London theatres, mornings and afternoons.
Maybe he did. If he did, it seriously shortened his law-study
hours and his recreation-time in the courts. In those very days he
was writing great plays, and needed all the time he could get. The
horse-holding legend ought to be strangled; it too formidably
increases the historian's difficulty in accounting for the young
Shakespeare's erudition--an erudition which he was acquiring, hunk
by hunk and chunk by chunk every day in those strenuous times, and
emptying each day's catch into next day's imperishable drama.

He had to acquire a knowledge of war at the same time; and a
knowledge of soldier-people and sailor-people and their ways and
talk; also a knowledge of some foreign lands and their languages:
for he was daily emptying fluent streams of these various
knowledges, too, into his dramas. How did he acquire these rich

In the usual way: by surmise. It is SURMISED that he travelled in
Italy and Germany and around, and qualified himself to put their
scenic and social aspects upon paper; that he perfected himself in
French, Italian and Spanish on the road; that he went in
Leicester's expedition to the Low Countries, as soldier or sutler
or something, for several months or years--or whatever length of
time a surmiser needs in his business--and thus became familiar
with soldiership and soldier-ways and soldier-talk, and generalship
and general-ways and general-talk, and seamanship and sailor-ways
and sailor-talk.

Maybe he did all these things, but I would like to know who held
the horses in the meantime; and who studied the books in the
garret; and who frollicked in the law-courts for recreation. Also,
who did the call-boying and the play-acting.

For he became a call-boy; and as early as '93 he became a
"vagabond"--the law's ungentle term for an unlisted actor; and in
'94 a "regular" and properly and officially listed member of that
(in those days) lightly-valued and not much respected profession.

Right soon thereafter he became a stockholder in two theatres, and
manager of them. Thenceforward he was a busy and flourishing
business man, and was raking in money with both hands for twenty
years. Then in a noble frenzy of poetic inspiration he wrote his
one poem--his only poem, his darling--and laid him down and died:

Good friend for Iesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare:
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones
And curst be he yt moves my bones.

He was probably dead when he wrote it. Still, this is only
conjecture. We have only circumstantial evidence. Internal

Shall I set down the rest of the Conjectures which constitute the
giant Biography of William Shakespeare? It would strain the
Unabridged Dictionary to hold them. He is a Brontosaur: nine
bones and six hundred barrels of plaster of paris.


"We May Assume"

In the Assuming trade three separate and independent cults are
transacting business. Two of these cults are known as the
Shakespearites and the Baconians, and I am the other one--the

The Shakespearite knows that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's Works;
the Baconian knows that Francis Bacon wrote them; the Brontosaurian
doesn't really know which of them did it, but is quite composedly
and contentedly sure that Shakespeare DIDN'T, and strongly suspects
that Bacon DID. We all have to do a good deal of assuming, but I
am fairly certain that in every case I can call to mind the
Baconian assumers have come out ahead of the Shakespearites. Both
parties handle the same materials, but the Baconians seem to me to
get much more reasonable and rational and persuasive results out of
them than is the case with the Shakespearites. The Shakespearite
conducts his assuming upon a definite principle, an unchanging and
immutable law--which is: 2 and 8 and 7 and 14, added together,
make 165. I believe this to be an error. No matter, you cannot
get a habit-sodden Shakespearite to cipher-up his materials upon
any other basis. With the Baconian it is different. If you place
before him the above figures and set him to adding them up, he will
never in any case get more than 45 out of them, and in nine cases
out of ten he will get just the proper 31.

Let me try to illustrate the two systems in a simple and homely way
calculated to bring the idea within the grasp of the ignorant and
unintelligent. We will suppose a case: take a lap-bred, house-
fed, uneducated, inexperienced kitten; take a rugged old Tom that's
scarred from stem to rudder-post with the memorials of strenuous
experience, and is so cultured, so educated, so limitlessly erudite
that one may say of him "all cat-knowledge is his province"; also,
take a mouse. Lock the three up in a holeless, crackless, exitless
prison-cell. Wait half an hour, then open the cell, introduce a
Shakespearite and a Baconian, and let them cipher and assume. The
mouse is missing: the question to be decided is, where is it? You
can guess both verdicts beforehand. One verdict will say the
kitten contains the mouse; the other will as certainly say the
mouse is in the tomcat.

The Shakespearite will Reason like this--(that is not my word, it
is his). He will say the kitten MAY HAVE BEEN attending school
when nobody was noticing; therefore WE ARE WARRANTED IN ASSUMING
that it did so; also, it COULD HAVE BEEN training in a court-
clerk's office when no one was noticing; since that could have
happened, WE ARE JUSTIFIED IN ASSUMING that it did happen; it COULD
HAVE STUDIED CATOLOGY IN A GARRET when no one was noticing--
therefore it DID; it COULD HAVE attended cat-assizes on the shed-
roof nights, for recreation, when no one was noticing, and
harvested a knowledge of cat court-forms and cat lawyer-talk in
that way: it COULD have done it, therefore without a doubt it did;
it could have gone soldiering with a war-tribe when no one was
noticing, and learned soldier-wiles and soldier-ways, and what to
do with a mouse when opportunity offers; the plain inference,
therefore is, that that is what it DID. Since all these manifold
things COULD have occurred, we have EVERY RIGHT TO BELIEVE they did
occur. These patiently and painstakingly accumulated vast
acquirements and competences needed but one thing more--
opportunity--to convert themselves into triumphant action. The
opportunity came, we have the result; BEYOND SHADOW OF QUESTION the
mouse is in the kitten.

It is proper to remark that when we of the three cults plant a "WE
THINK WE MAY ASSUME," we expect it, under careful watering and
fertilizing and tending, to grow up into a strong and hardy and
weather-defying "THERE ISN'T A SHADOW OF A DOUBT" at last--and it
usually happens.

We know what the Baconian's verdict would be: "THERE IS NOT A RAG


When Shakespeare died, in 1616, great literary productions
attributed to him as author had been before the London world and in
high favor for twenty-four years. Yet his death was not an event.
It made no stir, it attracted no attention. Apparently his eminent
literary contemporaries did not realize that a celebrated poet had
passed from their midst. Perhaps they knew a play-actor of minor
rank had disappeared, but did not regard him as the author of his
Works. "We are justified in assuming" this.

His death was not even an event in the little town of Stratford.
Does this mean that in Stratford he was not regarded as a celebrity
of ANY kind?

"We are privileged to assume"--no, we are indeed OBLIGED to assume-
-that such was the case. He had spent the first twenty-two or
twenty-three years of his life there, and of course knew everybody
and was known by everybody of that day in the town, including the
dogs and the cats and the horses. He had spent the last five or
six years of his life there, diligently trading in every big and
little thing that had money in it; so we are compelled to assume
that many of the folk there in those said latter days knew him
personally, and the rest by sight and hearsay. But not as a
CELEBRITY? Apparently not. For everybody soon forgot to remember
any contact with him or any incident connected with him. The
dozens of townspeople, still alive, who had known of him or known
about him in the first twenty-three years of his life were in the
same unremembering condition: if they knew of any incident
connected with that period of his life they didn't tell about it.
Would they if they had been asked? It is most likely. Were they
asked? It is pretty apparent that they were not. Why weren't
they? It is a very plausible guess that nobody there or elsewhere
was interested to know.

For seven years after Shakespeare's death nobody seems to have been
interested in him. Then the quarto was published, and Ben Jonson
awoke out of his long indifference and sang a song of praise and
put it in the front of the book. Then silence fell AGAIN.

For sixty years. Then inquiries into Shakespeare's Stratford life
began to be made, of Stratfordians. Of Stratfordians who had known
Shakespeare or had seen him? No. Then of Stratfordians who had
seen people who had known or seen people who had seen Shakespeare?
No. Apparently the inquiries were only made of Stratfordians who
were not Stratfordians of Shakespeare's day, but later comers; and
what they had learned had come to them from persons who had not
seen Shakespeare; and what they had learned was not claimed as
FACT, but only as legend--dim and fading and indefinite legend;
legend of the calf-slaughtering rank, and not worth remembering
either as history or fiction.

Has it ever happened before--or since--that a celebrated person who
had spent exactly half of a fairly long life in the village where
he was born and reared, was able to slip out of this world and
leave that village voiceless and gossipless behind him--utterly
voiceless, utterly gossipless? And permanently so? I don't
believe it has happened in any case except Shakespeare's. And
couldn't and wouldn't have happened in his case if he had been
regarded as a celebrity at the time of his death.

When I examine my own case--but let us do that, and see if it will
not be recognizable as exhibiting a condition of things quite
likely to result, most likely to result, indeed substantially SURE
to result in the case of a celebrated person, a benefactor of the
human race. Like me.

My parents brought me to the village of Hannibal, Missouri, on the
banks of the Mississippi, when I was two and a half years old. I
entered school at five years of age, and drifted from one school to
another in the village during nine and a half years. Then my
father died, leaving his family in exceedingly straitened
circumstances; wherefore my book-education came to a standstill
forever, and I became a printer's apprentice, on board and clothes,
and when the clothes failed I got a hymn-book in place of them.
This for summer wear, probably. I lived in Hannibal fifteen and a
half years, altogether, then ran away, according to the custom of
persons who are intending to become celebrated. I never lived
there afterward. Four years later I became a "cub" on a
Mississippi steamboat in the St. Louis and New Orleans trade, and
after a year and a half of hard study and hard work the U. S.
inspectors rigorously examined me through a couple of long sittings
and decided that I knew every inch of the Mississippi--thirteen
hundred miles--in the dark and in the day--as well as a baby knows
the way to its mother's paps day or night. So they licensed me as
a pilot--knighted me, so to speak--and I rose up clothed with
authority, a responsible servant of the United States government.

Now then. Shakespeare died young--he was only fifty-two. He had
lived in his native village twenty-six years, or about that. He
died celebrated (if you believe everything you read in the books).
Yet when he died nobody there or elsewhere took any notice of it;
and for sixty years afterward no townsman remembered to say
anything about him or about his life in Stratford. When the
inquirer came at last he got but one fact--no, LEGEND--and got that
one at second hand, from a person who had only heard it as a rumor,
and didn't claim copyright in it as a production of his own. He
couldn't, very well, for its date antedated his own birth-date.
But necessarily a number of persons were still alive in Stratford
who, in the days of their youth, had seen Shakespeare nearly every
day in the last five years of his life, and they would have been
able to tell that inquirer some first-hand things about him if he
had in those last days been a celebrity and therefore a person of
interest to the villagers. Why did not the inquirer hunt them up
and interview them? Wasn't it worth while? Wasn't the matter of
sufficient consequence? Had the inquirer an engagement to see a
dog-fight and couldn't spare the time?

It all seems to mean that he never had any literary celebrity,
there or elsewhere, and no considerable repute as actor and

Now then, I am away along in life--my seventy-third year being
already well behind me--yet SIXTEEN of my Hannibal schoolmates are
still alive to-day, and can tell--and do tell--inquirers dozens and
dozens of incidents of their young lives and mine together; things
that happened to us in the morning of life, in the blossom of our
youth, in the good days, the dear days, "the days when we went
gipsying, a long time ago." Most of them creditable to me, too.
One child to whom I paid court when she was five years old and I
eight still lives in Hannibal, and she visited me last summer,
traversing the necessary ten or twelve hundred miles of railroad
without damage to her patience or to her old-young vigor. Another
little lassie to whom I paid attention in Hannibal when she was
nine years old and I the same, is still alive--in London--and hale
and hearty, just as I am. And on the few surviving steamboats--
those lingering ghosts and remembrancers of great fleets that plied
the big river in the beginning of my water-career--which is exactly
as long ago as the whole invoice of the life-years of Shakespeare
number--there are still findable two or three river-pilots who saw
me do creditable things in those ancient days; and several white-
headed engineers; and several roustabouts and mates; and several
deck-hands who used to heave the lead for me and send up on the
still night air the "six--feet--SCANT!" that made me shudder, and
the "M-a-r-k--twain!" that took the shudder away, and presently the
darling "By the d-e-e-p--four!" that lifted me to heaven for joy.
{1} They know about me, and can tell. And so do printers, from
St. Louis to New York; and so do newspaper reporters, from Nevada
to San Francisco. And so do the police. If Shakespeare had really
been celebrated, like me, Stratford could have told things about
him; and if my experience goes for anything, they'd have done it.


If I had under my superintendence a controversy appointed to decide
whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare or not, I believe I would
place before the debaters only the one question, WAS SHAKESPEARE
EVER A PRACTICING LAWYER? and leave everything else out.

It is maintained that the man who wrote the plays was not merely
myriad-minded, but also myriad-accomplished: that he not only knew
some thousands of things about human life in all its shades and
grades, and about the hundred arts and trades and crafts and
professions which men busy themselves in, but that he could TALK
about the men and their grades and trades accurately, making no
mistakes. Maybe it is so, but have the experts spoken, or is it
only Tom, Dick, and Harry? Does the exhibit stand upon wide, and
loose, and eloquent generalizing--which is not evidence, and not
proof--or upon details, particulars, statistics, illustrations,

Experts of unchallengeable authority have testified definitely as
to only one of Shakespeare's multifarious craft-equipments, so far
as my recollections of Shakespeare-Bacon talk abide with me--his
law-equipment. I do not remember that Wellington or Napoleon ever
examined Shakespeare's battles and sieges and strategies, and then
decided and established for good and all, that they were militarily
flawless; I do not remember that any Nelson, or Drake or Cook ever
examined his seamanship and said it showed profound and accurate
familiarity with that art; I don't remember that any king or prince
or duke has ever testified that Shakespeare was letter-perfect in
his handling of royal court-manners and the talk and manners of
aristocracies; I don't remember that any illustrious Latinist or
Grecian or Frenchman or Spaniard or Italian has proclaimed him a
past-master in those languages; I don't remember--well, I don't
remember that there is TESTIMONY--great testimony--imposing
testimony--unanswerable and unattackable testimony as to any of
Shakespeare's hundred specialties, except one--the law.

Other things change, with time, and the student cannot trace back
with certainty the changes that various trades and their processes
and technicalities have undergone in the long stretch of a century
or two and find out what their processes and technicalities were in
those early days, but with the law it is different: it is mile-
stoned and documented all the way back, and the master of that
wonderful trade, that complex and intricate trade, that awe-
compelling trade, has competent ways of knowing whether
Shakespeare-law is good law or not; and whether his law-court
procedure is correct or not, and whether his legal shop-talk is the
shop-talk of a veteran practitioner or only a machine-made
counterfeit of it gathered from books and from occasional
loiterings in Westminster.

Richard H. Dana served two years before the mast, and had every
experience that falls to the lot of the sailor before the mast of
our day. His sailor-talk flows from his pen with the sure touch
and the ease and confidence of a person who has LIVED what he is
talking about, not gathered it from books and random listenings.
Hear him:

Having hove short, cast off the gaskets, and made the bunt of each
sail fast by the jigger, with a man on each yard, at the word the
whole canvas of the ship was loosed, and with the greatest rapidity
possible everything was sheeted home and hoisted up, the anchor
tripped and cat-headed, and the ship under headway.


The royal yards were all crossed at once, and royals and sky-sails
set, and, as we had the wind free, the booms were run out, and all
were aloft, active as cats, laying out on the yards and booms,
reeving the studding-sail gear; and sail after sail the captain
piled upon her, until she was covered with canvas, her sails
looking like a great white cloud resting upon a black speck.

Once more. A race in the Pacific:

Our antagonist was in her best trim. Being clear of the point, the
breeze became stiff, and the royal-masts bent under our sails, but
we would not take them in until we saw three boys spring into the
rigging of the California; then they were all furled at once, but
with orders to our boys to stay aloft at the top-gallant mast-heads
and loose them again at the word. It was my duty to furl the fore-
royal; and while standing by to loose it again, I had a fine view
of the scene. From where I stood, the two vessels seemed nothing
but spars and sails, while their narrow decks, far below, slanting
over by the force of the wind aloft, appeared hardly capable of
supporting the great fabrics raised upon them. The California was
to windward of us, and had every advantage; yet, while the breeze
was stiff we held our own. As soon as it began to slacken she
ranged a little ahead, and the order was given to loose the royals.
In an instant the gaskets were off and the bunt dropped. "Sheet
home the fore-royal!"--"Weather sheet's home!"--"Lee sheet's
home!"--"Hoist away, sir!" is bawled from aloft. "Overhaul your
clewlines!" shouts the mate. "Aye-aye, sir, all clear!"--"Taut
leech! belay! Well the lee brace; haul taut to windward!" and the
royals are set.

What would the captain of any sailing-vessel of our time say to
that? He would say, "The man that wrote that didn't learn his
trade out of a book, he has BEEN there!" But would this same
captain be competent to sit in judgment upon Shakespeare's
seamanship--considering the changes in ships and ship-talk that
have necessarily taken place, unrecorded, unremembered, and lost to
history in the last three hundred years? It is my conviction that
Shakespeare's sailor-talk would be Choctaw to him. For instance--
from The Tempest:

Master. Boatswain!

Boatswain. Here, master; what cheer?

Master. Good, speak to the mariners: fall to't, yarely, or we run
ourselves to ground; bestir, bestir!

(Enter mariners.)

Boatswain. Heigh, my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts! yare,
yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to the master's whistle . . .
Down with the topmast! yare! lower, lower! Bring her to try wi'
the main course . . . Lay her a-hold, a-hold! Set her two courses.
Off to sea again; lay her off.

That will do, for the present; let us yare a little, now, for a

If a man should write a book and in it make one of his characters
say, "Here, devil, empty the quoins into the standing galley and
the imposing stone into the hell-box; assemble the comps around the
frisket and let them jeff for takes and be quick about it," I
should recognize a mistake or two in the phrasing, and would know
that the writer was only a printer theoretically, not practically.

I have been a quartz miner in the silver regions--a pretty hard
life; I know all the palaver of that business: I know all about
discovery claims and the subordinate claims; I know all about
lodes, ledges, outcroppings, dips, spurs, angles, shafts, drifts,
inclines, levels, tunnels, air-shafts, "horses," clay casings,
granite casings; quartz mills and their batteries; arastras, and
how to charge them with quicksilver and sulphate of copper; and how
to clean them up, and how to reduce the resulting amalgam in the
retorts, and how to cast the bullion into pigs; and finally I know
how to screen tailings, and also how to hunt for something less
robust to do, and find it. I know the argot of the quartz-mining
and milling industry familiarly; and so whenever Bret Harte
introduces that industry into a story, the first time one of his
miners opens his mouth I recognize from his phrasing that Harte got
the phrasing by listening--like Shakespeare--I mean the Stratford
one--not by experience. No one can talk the quartz dialect
correctly without learning it with pick and shovel and drill and

I have been a surface-miner--gold--and I know all its mysteries,
and the dialect that belongs with them; and whenever Harte
introduces that industry into a story I know by the phrasing of his
characters that neither he nor they have ever served that trade.

I have been a "pocket" miner--a sort of gold mining not findable in
any but one little spot in the world, so far as I know. I know
how, with horn and water, to find the trail of a pocket and trace
it step by step and stage by stage up the mountain to its source,
and find the compact little nest of yellow metal reposing in its
secret home under the ground. I know the language of that trade,
that capricious trade, that fascinating buried-treasure trade, and
can catch any writer who tries to use it without having learned it
by the sweat of his brow and the labor of his hands.

I know several other trades and the argot that goes with them; and
whenever a person tries to talk the talk peculiar to any of them
without having learned it at its source I can trap him always
before he gets far on his road.

And so, as I have already remarked, if I were required to
superintend a Bacon-Shakespeare controversy, I would narrow the
matter down to a single question--the only one, so far as the
previous controversies have informed me, concerning which
illustrious experts of unimpeachable competency have testified:
read and of limitless experience? I would put aside the guesses,
and surmises, and perhapses, and might-have-beens, and could-have
beens, and must-have-beens, and we-are justified-in-presumings, and
the rest of those vague spectres and shadows and indefinitenesses,
and stand or fall, win or lose, by the verdict rendered by the jury
upon that single question. If the verdict was Yes, I should feel
quite convinced that the Stratford Shakespeare, the actor, manager,
and trader who died so obscure, so forgotten, so destitute of even
village consequence that sixty years afterward no fellow-citizen
and friend of his later days remembered to tell anything about him,
did not write the Works.

Chapter XIII of The Shakespeare Problem Restated bears the heading
"Shakespeare as a Lawyer," and comprises some fifty pages of expert
testimony, with comments thereon, and I will copy the first nine,
as being sufficient all by themselves, as it seems to me, to settle
the question which I have conceived to be the master-key to the
Shakespeare-Bacon puzzle.


Shakespeare as a Lawyer {2}

The Plays and Poems of Shakespeare supply ample evidence that their
author not only had a very extensive and accurate knowledge of law,
but that he was well acquainted with the manners and customs of
members of the Inns of Court and with legal life generally.

"While novelists and dramatists are constantly making mistakes as
to the laws of marriage, of wills, and inheritance, to
Shakespeare's law, lavishly as he expounds it, there can neither be
demurrer, nor bill of exceptions, nor writ of error." Such was the
testimony borne by one of the most distinguished lawyers of the
nineteenth century who was raised to the high office of Lord Chief
Justice in 1850, and subsequently became Lord Chancellor. Its
weight will, doubtless, be more appreciated by lawyers than by
laymen, for only lawyers know how impossible it is for those who
have not served an apprenticeship to the law to avoid displaying
their ignorance if they venture to employ legal terms and to
discuss legal doctrines. "There is nothing so dangerous," wrote
Lord Campbell, "as for one not of the craft to tamper with our
freemasonry." A layman is certain to betray himself by using some
expression which a lawyer would never employ. Mr. Sidney Lee
himself supplies us with an example of this. He writes (p. 164):
"On February 15, 1609, Shakespeare . . . obtained judgment from a
jury against Addenbroke for the payment of No. 6, and No. 1. 5s.
0d. costs." Now a lawyer would never have spoken of obtaining
"judgment from a jury," for it is the function of a jury not to
deliver judgment (which is the prerogative of the court), but to
find a verdict on the facts. The error is, indeed, a venial one,
but it is just one of those little things which at once enable a
lawyer to know if the writer is a layman or "one of the craft."

But when a layman ventures to plunge deeply into legal subjects, he
is naturally apt to make an exhibition of his incompetence. "Let a
non-professional man, however acute," writes Lord Campbell again,
"presume to talk law, or to draw illustrations from legal science
in discussing other subjects, and he will speedily fall into
laughable absurdity."

And what does the same high authority say about Shakespeare? He
had "a deep technical knowledge of the law," and an easy
familiarity with "some of the most abstruse proceedings in English
jurisprudence." And again: "Whenever he indulges this propensity
he uniformly lays down good law." Of Henry IV., Part 2, he says:
"If Lord Eldon could be supposed to have written the play, I do not
see how he could be chargeable with having forgotten any of his law
while writing it." Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke speak of "the
marvelous intimacy which he displays with legal terms, his frequent
adoption of them in illustration, and his curiously technical
knowledge of their form and force." Malone, himself a lawyer,
wrote: "His knowledge of legal terms is not merely such as might
be acquired by the casual observation of even his all-comprehending
mind; it has the appearance of technical skill." Another lawyer
and well-known Shakespearean, Richard Grant White, says: "No
dramatist of the time, not even Beaumont, who was the younger son
of a judge of the Common Pleas, and who after studying in the Inns
of Court abandoned law for the drama, used legal phrases with
Shakespeare's readiness and exactness. And the significance of
this fact is heightened by another, that it is only to the language
of the law that he exhibits this inclination. The phrases peculiar
to other occupations serve him on rare occasions by way of
description, comparison or illustration, generally when something
in the scene suggests them, but legal phrases flow from his pen as
part of his vocabulary, and parcel of his thought. Take the word
'purchase' for instance, which, in ordinary use, means to acquire
by giving value, but applies in law to all legal modes of obtaining
property except by inheritance or descent, and in this peculiar
sense the word occurs five times in Shakespeare's thirty-four
plays, and only in one single instance in the fifty-four plays of
Beaumont and Fletcher. It has been suggested that it was in
attendance upon the courts in London that he picked up his legal
vocabulary. But this supposition not only fails to account for
Shakespeare's peculiar freedom and exactness in the use of that
phraseology, it does not even place him in the way of learning
those terms his use of which is most remarkable, which are not such
as he would have heard at ordinary proceedings at nisi prius, but
such as refer to the tenure or transfer of real property, 'fine and
recovery,' 'statutes merchant,' 'purchase,' 'indenture,' 'tenure,'
'double voucher,' 'fee simple,' 'fee farm,' 'remainder,'
'reversion,' 'forfeiture,' etc. This conveyancer's jargon could
not have been picked up by hanging round the courts of law in
London two hundred and fifty years ago, when suits as to the title
of real property were comparatively rare. And beside, Shakespeare
uses his law just as freely in his first plays, written in his
first London years, as in those produced at a later period. Just
as exactly, too; for the correctness and propriety with which these
terms are introduced have compelled the admiration of a Chief
Justice and a Lord Chancellor."

Senator Davis wrote: "We seem to have something more than a
sciolist's temerity of indulgence in the terms of an unfamiliar
art. No legal solecisms will be found. The abstrusest elements of
the common law are impressed into a disciplined service. Over and
over again, where such knowledge is unexampled in writers unlearned
in the law, Shakespeare appears in perfect possession of it. In
the law of real property, its rules of tenure and descents, its
entails, its fines and recoveries, their vouchers and double
vouchers, in the procedure of the Courts, the method of bringing
writs and arrests, the nature of actions, the rules of pleading,
the law of escapes and of contempt of court, in the principles of
evidence, both technical and philosophical, in the distinction
between the temporal and spiritual tribunals, in the law of
attainder and forfeiture, in the requisites of a valid marriage, in
the presumption of legitimacy, in the learning of the law of
prerogative, in the inalienable character of the Crown, this
mastership appears with surprising authority."

To all this testimony (and there is much more which I have not
cited) may now be added that of a great lawyer of our own times,
viz.: Sir James Plaisted Wilde, Q.C. created a Baron of the
Exchequer in 1860, promoted to the post of Judge-Ordinary and Judge
of the Courts of Probate and Divorce in 1863, and better known to
the world as Lord Penzance, to which dignity he was raised in 1869.
Lord Penzance, as all lawyers know, and as the late Mr. Inderwick,
K.C., has testified, was one of the first legal authorities of his
day, famous for his "remarkable grasp of legal principles," and
"endowed by nature with a remarkable facility for marshalling
facts, and for a clear expression of his views."

Lord Penzance speaks of Shakespeare's "perfect familiarity with not
only the principles, axioms, and maxims, but the technicalities of
English law, a knowledge so perfect and intimate that he was never
incorrect and never at fault . . . The mode in which this knowledge
was pressed into service on all occasions to express his meaning
and illustrate his thoughts, was quite unexampled. He seems to
have had a special pleasure in his complete and ready mastership of
it in all its branches. As manifested in the plays, this legal
knowledge and learning had therefore a special character which
places it on a wholly different footing from the rest of the
multifarious knowledge which is exhibited in page after page of the
plays. At every turn and point at which the author required a
metaphor, simile, or illustration, his mind ever turned FIRST to
the law. He seems almost to have THOUGHT in legal phrases, the
commonest of legal expressions were ever at the end of his pen in
description or illustration. That he should have descanted in
lawyer language when he had a forensic subject in hand, such as
Shylock's bond, was to be expected, but the knowledge of law in
'Shakespeare' was exhibited in a far different manner: it
protruded itself on all occasions, appropriate or inappropriate,
and mingled itself with strains of thought widely divergent from
forensic subjects." Again: "To acquire a perfect familiarity with
legal principles, and an accurate and ready use of the technical
terms and phrases not only of the conveyancer's office but of the
pleader's chambers and the Courts at Westminster, nothing short of
employment in some career involving constant contact with legal
questions and general legal work would be requisite. But a
continuous employment involves the element of time, and time was
just what the manager of two theatres had not at his disposal. In
what portion of Shakespeare's (i.e. Shakspere's) career would it be
possible to point out that time could be found for the
interposition of a legal employment in the chambers or offices of
practising lawyers?"

Stratfordians, as is well known, casting about for some possible
explanation of Shakespeare's extraordinary knowledge of law, have
made the suggestion that Shakespeare might, conceivably, have been
a clerk in an attorney's office before he came to London. Mr.
Collier wrote to Lord Campbell to ask his opinion as to the
probability of this being true. His answer was as follows: "You
require us to believe implicitly a fact, of which, if true,
positive and irrefragable evidence in his own handwriting might
have been forthcoming to establish it. Not having been actually
enrolled as an attorney, neither the records of the local court at
Stratford nor of the superior Courts at Westminster would present
his name as being concerned in any suit as an attorney, but it
might reasonably have been expected that there would be deeds or
wills witnessed by him still extant, and after a very diligent
search none such can be discovered."

Upon this Lord Penzance comments: "It cannot be doubted that Lord
Campbell was right in this. No young man could have been at work
in an attorney's office without being called upon continually to
act as a witness, and in many other ways leaving traces of his work
and name." There is not a single fact or incident in all that is
known of Shakespeare, even by rumor or tradition, which supports
this notion of a clerkship. And after much argument and surmise
which has been indulged in on this subject, we may, I think, safely
put the notion on one side, for no less an authority than Mr. Grant
White says finally that the idea of his having been clerk to an
attorney has been "blown to pieces."

It is altogether characteristic of Mr. Churton Collins that he,
nevertheless, adopts this exploded myth. "That Shakespeare was in
early life employed as a clerk in an attorney's office, may be
correct. At Stratford there was by royal charter a Court of Record
sitting every fortnight, with six attorneys, beside the town clerk,
belonging to it, and it is certainly not straining probability to
suppose that the young Shakespeare may have had employment in one
of them. There is, it is true, no tradition to this effect, but
such traditions as we have about Shakespeare's occupation between
the time of leaving school and going to London are so loose and
baseless that no confidence can be placed in them. It is, to say
the least, more probable that he was in an attorney's office than
that he was a butcher killing calves 'in a high style,' and making
speeches over them."

This is a charming specimen of Stratfordian argument. There is, as
we have seen, a very old tradition that Shakespeare was a butcher's
apprentice. John Dowdall, who made a tour in Warwickshire in 1693,
testifies to it as coming from the old clerk who showed him over
the church, and it is unhesitatingly accepted as true by Mr.
Halliwell-Phillipps. (Vol I, p. 11, and see Vol. II, p. 71, 72.)
Mr. Sidney Lee sees nothing improbable in it, and it is supported
by Aubrey, who must have written his account some time before 1680,
when his manuscript was completed. Of the attorney's clerk
hypothesis, on the other hand, there is not the faintest vestige of
a tradition. It has been evolved out of the fertile imaginations
of embarrassed Stratfordians, seeking for some explanation of the
Stratford rustic's marvellous acquaintance with law and legal terms
and legal life. But Mr. Churton Collins has not the least
hesitation in throwing over the tradition which has the warrant of
antiquity and setting up in its stead this ridiculous invention,
for which not only is there no shred of positive evidence, but
which, as Lord Campbell and Lord Penzance point out, is really put
out of court by the negative evidence, since "no young man could
have been at work in an attorney's office without being called upon
continually to act as a witness, and in many other ways leaving
traces of his work and name." And as Mr. Edwards further points
out, since the day when Lord Campbell's book was published (between
forty and fifty years ago), "every old deed or will, to say nothing
of other legal papers, dated during the period of William
Shakespeare's youth, has been scrutinized over half a dozen shires,
and not one signature of the young man has been found."

Moreover, if Shakespeare had served as clerk in an attorney's
office it is clear that he must have so served for a considerable
period in order to have gained (if indeed it is credible that he
could have so gained) his remarkable knowledge of law. Can we then
for a moment believe that, if this had been so, tradition would
have been absolutely silent on the matter? That Dowdall's old
clerk, over eighty years of age, should have never heard of it
(though he was sure enough about the butcher's apprentice), and
that all the other ancient witnesses should be in similar

But such are the methods of Stratfordian controversy. Tradition is
to be scouted when it is found inconvenient, but cited as
irrefragable truth when it suits the case. Shakespeare of
Stratford was the author of the Plays and Poems, but the author of
the Plays and Poems could not have been a butcher's apprentice.
Away, therefore, with tradition. But the author of the Plays and
Poems must have had a very large and a very accurate knowledge of
the law. Therefore, Shakespeare of Stratford must have been an
attorney's clerk! The method is simplicity itself. By similar
reasoning Shakespeare has been made a country schoolmaster, a
soldier, a physician, a printer, and a good many other things
beside, according to the inclination and the exigencies of the
commentator. It would not be in the least surprising to find that
he was studying Latin as a schoolmaster and law in an attorney's
office at the same time.

However, we must do Mr. Collins the justice of saying that he has
fully recognized, what is indeed tolerably obvious, that
Shakespeare must have had a sound legal training. "It may, of
course, be urged," he writes, "that Shakespeare's knowledge of
medicine, and particularly that branch of it which related to
morbid psychology, is equally remarkable, and that no one has ever
contended that he was a physician. (Here Mr. Collins is wrong;
that contention also has been put forward.) It may be urged that
his acquaintance with the technicalities of other crafts and
callings, notably of marine and military affairs, was also
extraordinary, and yet no one has suspected him of being a sailor
or a soldier. (Wrong again. Why even Messrs. Garnett and Gosse
'suspect' that he was a soldier!) This may be conceded, but the
concession hardly furnishes an analogy. To these and all other
subjects he recurs occasionally, and in season, but with
reminiscences of the law his memory, as is abundantly clear, was
simply saturated. In season and out of season now in manifest, now
in recondite application, he presses it into the service of
expression and illustration. At least a third of his myriad
metaphors are derived from it. It would indeed be difficult to
find a single act in any of his dramas, nay, in some of them, a
single scene, the diction and imagery of which is not colored by
it. Much of his law may have been acquired from three books easily
accessible to him, namely Tottell's Precedents (1572), Pulton's
Statutes (1578), and Fraunce's Lawier's Logike (1588), works with
which he certainly seems to have been familiar; but much of it
could only have come from one who had an intimate acquaintance with
legal proceedings. We quite agree with Mr. Castle that
Shakespeare's legal knowledge is not what could have been picked up
in an attorney's office, but could only have been learned by an
actual attendance at the Courts, at a Pleader's Chambers, and on
circuit, or by associating intimately with members of the Bench and

This is excellent. But what is Mr. Collins' explanation. "Perhaps
the simplest solution of the problem is to accept the hypothesis
that in early life he was in an attorney's office (!), that he
there contracted a love for the law which never left him, that as a
young man in London, he continued to study or dabble in it for his
amusement, to stroll in leisure hours into the Courts, and to
frequent the society of lawyers. On no other supposition is it
possible to explain the attraction which the law evidently had for
him, and his minute and undeviating accuracy in a subject where no
layman who has indulged in such copious and ostentatious display of
legal technicalities has ever yet succeeded in keeping himself from

A lame conclusion. "No other supposition" indeed! Yes, there is
another, and a very obvious supposition, namely, that Shakespeare
was himself a lawyer, well versed in his trade, versed in all the
ways of the courts, and living in close intimacy with judges and
members of the Inns of Court.

One is, of course, thankful that Mr. Collins has appreciated the
fact that Shakespeare must have had a sound legal training, but I
may be forgiven if I do not attach quite so much importance to his
pronouncements on this branch of the subject as to those of Malone,
Lord Campbell, Judge Holmes, Mr. Castle, K.C., Lord Penzance, Mr.
Grant White, and other lawyers, who have expressed their opinion on
the matter of Shakespeare's legal acquirements.

Here it may, perhaps, be worth while to quote again from Lord
Penzance's book as to the suggestion that Shakespeare had somehow
or other managed "to acquire a perfect familiarity with legal
principles, and an accurate and ready use of the technical terms
and phrases, not only of the conveyancer's office, but of the
pleader's chambers and the courts at Westminster." This, as Lord
Penzance points out, "would require nothing short of employment in
some career involving CONSTANT CONTACT with legal questions and
general legal work." But "in what portion of Shakespeare's career
would it be possible to point out that time could be found for the
interposition of a legal employment in the chambers or offices of
practising lawyers? . . . It is beyond doubt that at an early
period he was called upon to abandon his attendance at school and
assist his father, and was soon after, at the age of sixteen, bound
apprentice to a trade. While under the obligation of this bond he
could not have pursued any other employment. Then he leaves
Stratford and comes to London. He has to provide himself with the
means of a livelihood, and this he did in some capacity at the
theatre. No one doubts that. The holding of horses is scouted by
many, and perhaps with justice, as being unlikely and certainly
unproved; but whatever the nature of his employment was at the
theatre, there is hardly room for the belief that it could have
been other than continuous, for his progress there was so rapid.
Ere long he had been taken into the company as an actor, and was
soon spoken of as a 'Johannes Factotum.' His rapid accumulation of
wealth speaks volumes for the constancy and activity of his
services. One fails to see when there could be a break in the
current of his life at this period of it, giving room or
opportunity for legal or indeed any other employment. 'In 1589,'
says Knight, 'we have undeniable evidence that he had not only a
casual engagement, was not only a salaried servant, as many players
were, but was a shareholder in the company of the Queen's players
with other shareholders below him on the list.' This (1589) would
be within two years after his arrival in London, which is placed by
White and Halliwell-Phillipps about the year 1587. The difficulty
in supposing that, starting with a state of ignorance in 1587, when
he is supposed to have come to London, he was induced to enter upon
a course of most extended study and mental culture, is almost
insuperable. Still it was physically possible, provided always
that he could have had access to the needful books. But this legal
training seems to me to stand on a different footing. It is not
only unaccountable and incredible, but it is actually negatived by
the known facts of his career." Lord Penzance then refers to the
fact that "by 1592 (according to the best authority, Mr. Grant
White) several of the plays had been written. The Comedy of Errors
in 1589, Love's Labour's Lost in 1589, Two Gentlemen of Verona in
1589 or 1590, and so forth, and then asks, "with this catalogue of
dramatic work on hand . . . was it possible that he could have
taken a leading part in the management and conduct of two theatres,
and if Mr. Phillipps is to be relied upon, taken his share in the
performances of the provincial tours of his company--and at the
same time devoted himself to the study of the law in all its
branches so efficiently as to make himself complete master of its
principles and practice, and saturate his mind with all its most
technical terms?"

I have cited this passage from Lord Penzance's book, because it lay
before me, and I had already quoted from it on the matter of
Shakespeare's legal knowledge; but other writers have still better
set forth the insuperable difficulties, as they seem to me, which
beset the idea that Shakespeare might have found time in some
unknown period of early life, amid multifarious other occupations,
for the study of classics, literature and law, to say nothing of
languages and a few other matters. Lord Penzance further asks his
readers: "Did you ever meet with or hear of an instance in which a
young man in this country gave himself up to legal studies and
engaged in legal employments, which is the only way of becoming
familiar with the technicalities of practice, unless with the view
of practicing in that profession? I do not believe that it would
be easy, or indeed possible, to produce an instance in which the
law has been seriously studied in all its branches, except as a
qualification for practice in the legal profession."

This testimony is so strong, so direct, so authoritative; and so
uncheapened, unwatered by guesses, and surmises, and maybe-so's,
and might-have-beens, and could-have-beens, and must-have-beens,
and the rest of that ton of plaster of paris out of which the
biographers have built the colossal brontosaur which goes by the
Stratford actor's name, that it quite convinces me that the man who
wrote Shakespeare's Works knew all about law and lawyers. Also,
that that man could not have been the Stratford Shakespeare--and

Who did write these Works, then?

I wish I knew.


Did Francis Bacon write Shakespeare's Works?

Nobody knows.

We cannot say we KNOW a thing when that thing has not been proved.
KNOW is too strong a word to use when the evidence is not final and
absolutely conclusive. We can infer, if we want to, like those
slaves . . . No, I will not write that word, it is not kind, it is
not courteous. The upholders of the Stratford-Shakespeare
superstition call US the hardest names they can think of, and they
keep doing it all the time; very well, if they like to descend to
that level, let them do it, but I will not so undignify myself as
to follow them. I cannot call them harsh names; the most I can do
is to indicate them by terms reflecting my disapproval; and this
without malice, without venom.

To resume. What I was about to say, was, those thugs have built
their entire superstition upon INFERENCES, not upon known and
established facts. It is a weak method, and poor, and I am glad to
be able to say our side never resorts to it while there is anything
else to resort to.

But when we must, we must; and we have now arrived at a place of
that sort.

Since the Stratford Shakespeare couldn't have written the Works, we
infer that somebody did. Who was it, then? This requires some
more inferring.

Ordinarily when an unsigned poem sweeps across the continent like a
tidal wave, whose roar and boom and thunder are made up of
admiration, delight and applause, a dozen obscure people rise up
and claim the authorship. Why a dozen, instead of only one or two?
One reason is, because there's a dozen that are recognizably
competent to do that poem. Do you remember "Beautiful Snow"? Do
you remember "Rock Me to Sleep, Mother, Rock Me to Sleep"? Do you
remember "Backward, turn backward, O Time, in thy flight! Make me
a child again just for to-night"? I remember them very well.
Their authorship was claimed by most of the grown-up people who
were alive at the time, and every claimant had one plausible
argument in his favor, at least: to wit, he could have done the
authoring; he was competent.

Have the Works been claimed by a dozen? They haven't. There was
good reason. The world knows there was but one man on the planet
at the time who was competent--not a dozen, and not two. A long
time ago the dwellers in a far country used now and then to find a
procession of prodigious footprints stretching across the plain--
footprints that were three miles apart, each footprint a third of a
mile long and a furlong deep, and with forests and villages mashed
to mush in it. Was there any doubt as to who had made that mighty
trail? Were there a dozen claimants? Were there two? No--the
people knew who it was that had been along there: there was only
one Hercules.

There has been only one Shakespeare. There couldn't be two;
certainly there couldn't be two at the same time. It takes ages to
bring forth a Shakespeare, and some more ages to match him. This
one was not matched before his time; nor during his time; and
hasn't been matched since. The prospect of matching him in our
time is not bright.

The Baconians claim that the Stratford Shakespeare was not
qualified to write the Works, and that Francis Bacon was. They
claim that Bacon possessed the stupendous equipment--both natural
and acquired--for the miracle; and that no other Englishman of his
day possessed the like; or, indeed, anything closely approaching

Macaulay, in his Essay, has much to say about the splendor and
horizonless magnitude of that equipment. Also, he has synopsized
Bacon's history: a thing which cannot be done for the Stratford
Shakespeare, for he hasn't any history to synopsize. Bacon's
history is open to the world, from his boyhood to his death in old
age--a history consisting of known facts, displayed in minute and
multitudinous detail; FACTS, not guesses and conjectures and might-

Whereby it appears that he was born of a race of statesmen, and had
a Lord Chancellor for his father, and a mother who was
"distinguished both as a linguist and a theologian: she
corresponded in Greek with Bishop Jewell, and translated his
Apologia from the Latin so correctly that neither he nor Archbishop
Parker could suggest a single alteration." It is the atmosphere we
are reared in that determines how our inclinations and aspirations
shall tend. The atmosphere furnished by the parents to the son in
this present case was an atmosphere saturated with learning; with
thinkings and ponderings upon deep subjects; and with polite
culture. It had its natural effect. Shakespeare of Stratford was
reared in a house which had no use for books, since its owners, his
parents, were without education. This may have had an effect upon
the son, but we do not know, because we have no history of him of
an informing sort. There were but few books anywhere, in that day,
and only the well-to-do and highly educated possessed them, they
being almost confined to the dead languages. "All the valuable
books then extant in all the vernacular dialects of Europe would
hardly have filled a single shelf"--imagine it! The few existing
books were in the Latin tongue mainly. "A person who was ignorant
of it was shut out from all acquaintance--not merely with Cicero
and Virgil, but with the most interesting memoirs, state papers,
and pamphlets of his own time"--a literature necessary to the
Stratford lad, for his fictitious reputation's sake, since the
writer of his Works would begin to use it wholesale and in a most
masterly way before the lad was hardly more than out of his teens
and into his twenties.

At fifteen Bacon was sent to the university, and he spent three
years there. Thence he went to Paris in the train of the English
Ambassador, and there he mingled daily with the wise, the cultured,
the great, and the aristocracy of fashion, during another three
years. A total of six years spent at the sources of knowledge;
knowledge both of books and of men. The three spent at the
university were coeval with the second and last three spent by the
little Stratford lad at Stratford school supposedly, and
perhapsedly, and maybe, and by inference--with nothing to infer
from. The second three of the Baconian six were "presumably" spent
by the Stratford lad as apprentice to a butcher. That is, the
thugs presume it--on no evidence of any kind. Which is their way,
when they want a historical fact. Fact and presumption are, for
business purposes, all the same to them. They know the difference,
but they also know how to blink it. They know, too, that while in
history-building a fact is better than a presumption, it doesn't
take a presumption long to bloom into a fact when THEY have the
handling of it. They know by old experience that when they get
hold of a presumption-tadpole he is not going to STAY tadpole in
their history-tank; no, they know how to develop him into the giant
four-legged bullfrog of FACT, and make him sit up on his hams, and
puff out his chin, and look important and insolent and come-to-
stay; and assert his genuine simon-pure authenticity with a
thundering bellow that will convince everybody because it is so
loud. The thug is aware that loudness convinces sixty persons
where reasoning convinces but one. I wouldn't be a thug, not even
if--but never mind about that, it has nothing to do with the
argument, and it is not noble in spirit besides. If I am better
than a thug, is the merit mine? No, it is His. Then to Him be the
praise. That is the right spirit.

They "presume" the lad severed his "presumed" connection with the
Stratford school to become apprentice to a butcher. They also
"presume" that the butcher was his father. They don't know. There
is no written record of it, nor any other actual evidence. If it
would have helped their case any, they would have apprenticed him
to thirty butchers, to fifty butchers, to a wilderness of butchers-
-all by their patented method "presumption." If it will help their
case they will do it yet; and if it will further help it, they will
"presume" that all those butchers were his father. And the week
after, they will SAY it. Why, it is just like being the past tense
of the compound reflexive adverbial incandescent hypodermic
irregular accusative Noun of Multitude; which is father to the
expression which the grammarians call Verb. It is like a whole
ancestry, with only one posterity.

To resume. Next, the young Bacon took up the study of law, and
mastered that abstruse science. From that day to the end of his
life he was daily in close contact with lawyers and judges; not as
a casual onlooker in intervals between holding horses in front of a
theatre, but as a practicing lawyer--a great and successful one, a
renowned one, a Launcelot of the bar, the most formidable lance in
the high brotherhood of the legal Table Round; he lived in the
law's atmosphere thenceforth, all his years, and by sheer ability
forced his way up its difficult steeps to its supremest summit, the
Lord Chancellorship, leaving behind him no fellow craftsman
qualified to challenge his divine right to that majestic place.

When we read the praises bestowed by Lord Penzance and the other
illustrious experts upon the legal condition and legal aptnesses,
brilliances, profundities and felicities so prodigally displayed in
the Plays, and try to fit them to the history-less Stratford stage-
manager, they sound wild, strange, incredible, ludicrous; but when
we put them in the mouth of Bacon they do not sound strange, they
seem in their natural and rightful place, they seem at home there.
Please turn back and read them again. Attributed to Shakespeare of
Stratford they are meaningless, they are inebriate extravagancies--
intemperate admirations of the dark side of the moon, so to speak;
attributed to Bacon, they are admirations of the golden glories of
the moon's front side, the moon at the full--and not intemperate,
not overwrought, but sane and right, and justified. "At every turn
and point at which the author required a metaphor, simile or
illustration, his mind ever turned FIRST to the law; he seems
almost to have THOUGHT in legal phrases; the commonest legal
phrases, the commonest of legal expressions were ever at the end of
his pen." That could happen to no one but a person whose TRADE was
the law; it could not happen to a dabbler in it. Veteran mariners
fill their conversation with sailor-phrases and draw all their
similes from the ship and the sea and the storm, but no mere
PASSENGER ever does it, be he of Stratford or elsewhere; or could
do it with anything resembling accuracy, if he were hardy enough to
try. Please read again what Lord Campbell and the other great
authorities have said about Bacon when they thought they were
saying it about Shakespeare of Stratford.


The Rest of the Equipment

The author of the Plays was equipped, beyond every other man of his
time, with wisdom, erudition, imagination, capaciousness of mind,
grace and majesty of expression. Every one has said it, no one
doubts it. Also, he had humor, humor in rich abundance, and always
wanting to break out. We have no evidence of any kind that
Shakespeare of Stratford possessed any of these gifts or any of
these acquirements. The only lines he ever wrote, so far as we
know, are substantially barren of them--barren of all of them.

Good friend for Iesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare:
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones
And curst be he yt moves my bones.

Ben Jonson says of Bacon, as orator:

His language, WHERE HE COULD SPARE AND PASS BY A JEST, was nobly
censorious. No man ever spoke more neatly, more pressly, more
weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he
uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his (its) own
graces . . . The fear of every man that heard him was lest he
should make an end.

From Macaulay:

He continued to distinguish himself in Parliament, particularly by
his exertions in favor of one excellent measure on which the King's
heart was set--the union of England and Scotland. It was not
difficult for such an intellect to discover many irresistible
arguments in favor of such a scheme. He conducted the great case
of the Post Nati in the Exchequer Chamber; and the decision of the
judges--a decision the legality of which may be questioned, but the
beneficial effect of which must be acknowledged--was in a great
measure attributed to his dexterous management.


While actively engaged in the House of Commons and in the courts of
law, he still found leisure for letters and philosophy. The noble
treatise on the Advancement of Learning, which at a later period
was expanded into the De Augmentis, appeared in 1605

The Wisdom of the Ancients, a work which if it had proceeded from
any other writer would have been considered as a masterpiece of wit
and learning, was printed in 1609.

In the meantime the Novum Organum was slowly proceeding. Several
distinguished men of learning had been permitted to see portions of
that extraordinary book, and they spoke with the greatest
admiration of his genius.

Even Sir Thomas Bodley, after perusing the Cogitata et Visa, one of
the most precious of those scattered leaves out of which the great
oracular volume was afterward made up, acknowledged that "in all
proposals and plots in that book, Bacon showed himself a master
workman"; and that "it could not be gainsaid but all the treatise
over did abound with choice conceits of the present state of
learning, and with worthy contemplations of the means to procure

In 1612 a new edition of the Essays appeared, with additions
surpassing the original collection both in bulk and quality.

Nor did these pursuits distract Bacon's attention from a work the
most arduous, the most glorious, and the most useful that even his
mighty powers could have achieved, "the reducing and recompiling,"
to use his own phrase, "of the laws of England."

To serve the exacting and laborious offices of Attorney General and
Solicitor General would have satisfied the appetite of any other
man for hard work, but Bacon had to add the vast literary
industries just described, to satisfy his. He was a born worker.

The service which he rendered to letters during the last five years
of his life, amid ten thousand distractions and vexations, increase
the regret with which we think on the many years which he had
wasted, to use the words of Sir Thomas Bodley, "on such study as
was not worthy such a student."

He commenced a digest of the laws of England, a History of England
under the Princes of the House of Tudor, a body of National
History, a Philosophical Romance. He made extensive and valuable
additions to his Essays. He published the inestimable Treatise De
Argumentis Scientiarum.

Did these labors of Hercules fill up his time to his contentment,
and quiet his appetite for work? Not entirely:

The trifles with which he amused himself in hours of pain and
languor bore the mark of his mind. THE BEST JESTBOOK IN THE WORLD
is that which he dictated from memory, without referring to any
book, on a day on which illness had rendered him incapable of
serious study.

Here are some scattered remarks (from Macaulay) which throw light
upon Bacon, and seem to indicate--and maybe demonstrate--that he
was competent to write the Plays and Poems:

With great minuteness of observation he had an amplitude of
comprehension such as has never yet been vouchsafed to any other
human being.

The "Essays" contain abundant proofs that no nice feature of
character, no peculiarity in the ordering of a house, a garden or a
court-masque, could escape the notice of one whose mind was capable
of taking in the whole world of knowledge.

His understanding resembled the tent which the fairy Paribanou gave
to Prince Ahmed: fold it, and it seemed a toy for the hand of a
lady; spread it, and the armies of powerful Sultans might repose
beneath its shade.

The knowledge in which Bacon excelled all men was a knowledge of
the mutual relations of all departments of knowledge.

In a letter written when he was only thirty-one, to his uncle, Lord
Burleigh, he said, "I have taken all knowledge to be my province."

Though Bacon did not arm his philosophy with the weapons of logic,
he adorned her profusely with all the richest decorations of

The practical faculty was powerful in Bacon; but not, like his wit,
so powerful as occasionally to usurp the place of his reason, and
to tyrannize over the whole man.

There are too many places in the Plays where this happens. Poor
old dying John of Gaunt volleying second-rate puns at his own name,
is a pathetic instance of it. "We may assume" that it is Bacon's
fault, but the Stratford Shakespeare has to bear the blame.

No imagination was ever at once so strong and so thoroughly
subjugated. It stopped at the first check from good sense.

In truth much of Bacon's life was passed in a visionary world--amid
things as strange as any that are described in the "Arabian Tales"
. . . amid buildings more sumptuous than the palace of Aladdin,
fountains more wonderful than the golden water of Parizade,
conveyances more rapid than the hippogryph of Ruggiero, arms more
formidable than the lance of Astolfo, remedies more efficacious
than the balsam of Fierabras. Yet in his magnificent day-dreams
there was nothing wild--nothing but what sober reason sanctioned.

Bacon's greatest performance is the first book of the Novum Organum
. . . Every part of it blazes with wit, but with wit which is
employed only to illustrate and decorate truth. No book ever made
so great a revolution in the mode of thinking, overthrew so many
prejudices, introduced so many new opinions.

But what we most admire is the vast capacity of that intellect
which, without effort, takes in at once all the domains of science-
-all the past, the present and the future, all the errors of two
thousand years, all the encouraging signs of the passing times, all
the bright hopes of the coming age.

He had a wonderful talent for packing thought close and rendering
it portable.

His eloquence would alone have entitled him to a high rank in

It is evident that he had each and every one of the mental gifts
and each and every one of the acquirements that are so prodigally
displayed in the Plays and Poems, and in much higher and richer
degree than any other man of his time or of any previous time. He
was a genius without a mate, a prodigy not matable. There was only
one of him; the planet could not produce two of him at one birth,
nor in one age. He could have written anything that is in the
Plays and Poems. He could have written this:

The cloud-cap'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like an insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Also, he could have written this, but he refrained:

Good friend for Iesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare:
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones
And curst be ye yt moves my bones.

When a person reads the noble verses about the cloud-cap'd towers,
he ought not to follow it immediately with Good friend for Iesus
sake forbeare, because he will find the transition from great
poetry to poor prose too violent for comfort. It will give him a
shock. You never notice how commonplace and unpoetic gravel is,
until you bite into a layer of it in a pie.


Am I trying to convince anybody that Shakespeare did not write
Shakespeare's Works? Ah, now, what do you take me for? Would I be
so soft as that, after having known the human race familiarly for
nearly seventy-four years? It would grieve me to know that any one
could think so injuriously of me, so uncomplimentarily, so
unadmiringly of me. No-no, I am aware that when even the brightest
mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a
superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind,
in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and
conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem
to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if
I could do it myself. We always get at second hand our notions
about systems of government; and high-tariff and low-tariff; and
prohibition and anti-prohibition; and the holiness of peace and the
glories of war; and codes of honor and codes of morals; and
approval of the duel and disapproval of it; and our beliefs
concerning the nature of cats; and our ideas as to whether the
murder of helpless wild animals is base or is heroic; and our
preferences in the matter of religious and political parties; and
our acceptance or rejection of the Shakespeares and the Arthur
Ortons and the Mrs. Eddys. We get them all at second-hand, we
reason none of them out for ourselves. It is the way we are made.
It is the way we are all made, and we can't help it, we can't
change it. And whenever we have been furnished a fetish, and have
been taught to believe in it, and love it and worship it, and
refrain from examining it, there is no evidence, howsoever clear
and strong, that can persuade us to withdraw from it our loyalty
and our devotion. In morals, conduct, and beliefs we take the
color of our environment and associations, and it is a color that
can safely be warranted to wash. Whenever we have been furnished
with a tar baby ostensibly stuffed with jewels, and warned that it
will be dishonorable and irreverent to disembowel it and test the
jewels, we keep our sacrilegious hands off it. We submit, not
reluctantly, but rather gladly, for we are privately afraid we
should find, upon examination, that the jewels are of the sort that
are manufactured at North Adams, Mass.

I haven't any idea that Shakespeare will have to vacate his
pedestal this side of the year 2209. Disbelief in him cannot come
swiftly, disbelief in a healthy and deeply-loved tar baby has never
been known to disintegrate swiftly, it is a very slow process. It
took several thousand years to convince our fine race--including
every splendid intellect in it--that there is no such thing as a
witch; it has taken several thousand years to convince that same
fine race--including every splendid intellect in it--that there is
no such person as Satan; it has taken several centuries to remove
perdition from the Protestant Church's program of postmortem
entertainments; it has taken a weary long time to persuade American
Presbyterians to give up infant damnation and try to bear it the
best they can; and it looks as if their Scotch brethren will still
be burning babies in the everlasting fires when Shakespeare comes
down from his perch.

We are The Reasoning Race. We can't prove it by the above
examples, and we can't prove it by the miraculous "histories" built
by those Stratfordolaters out of a hatful of rags and a barrel of
sawdust, but there is a plenty of other things we can prove it by,
if I could think of them. We are The Reasoning Race, and when we
find a vague file of chipmunk-tracks stringing through the dust of
Stratford village, we know by our reasoning powers that Hercules
has been along there. I feel that our fetish is safe for three
centuries yet. The bust, too--there in the Stratford Church. The
precious bust, the priceless bust, the calm bust, the serene bust,
the emotionless bust, with the dandy moustache, and the putty face,
unseamed of care--that face which has looked passionlessly down
upon the awed pilgrim for a hundred and fifty years and will still
look down upon the awed pilgrim three hundred more, with the deep,
deep, deep, subtle, subtle, subtle, expression of a bladder.



One of the most trying defects which I find in these--these--what
shall I call them? for I will not apply injurious epithets to them,
the way they do to us, such violations of courtesy being repugnant
to my nature and my dignity. The furthest I can go in that
direction is to call them by names of limited reverence--names
merely descriptive, never unkind, never offensive, never tainted by
harsh feeling. If THEY would do like this, they would feel better
in their hearts. Very well, then--to proceed. One of the most
trying defects which I find in these Stratfordolaters, these
Shakesperoids, these thugs, these bangalores, these troglodytes,
these herumfrodites, these blatherskites, these buccaneers, these
bandoleers, is their spirit of irreverence. It is detectable in
every utterance of theirs when they are talking about us. I am
thankful that in me there is nothing of that spirit. When a thing
is sacred to me it is impossible for me to be irreverent toward it.
I cannot call to mind a single instance where I have ever been
irreverent, except toward the things which were sacred to other
people. Am I in the right? I think so. But I ask no one to take
my unsupported word; no, look at the dictionary; let the dictionary
decide. Here is the definition:

Irreverence. The quality or condition of irreverence toward God
and sacred things.

What does the Hindu say? He says it is correct. He says
irreverence is lack of respect for Vishnu, and Brahma, and
Chrishna, and his other gods, and for his sacred cattle, and for
his temples and the things within them. He endorses the
definition, you see; and there are 300,000,000 Hindus or their
equivalents back of him.

The dictionary had the acute idea that by using the capital G it
could restrict irreverence to lack of reverence for OUR Deity and
our sacred things, but that ingenious and rather sly idea
miscarried: for by the simple process of spelling HIS deities with
capitals the Hindu confiscates the definition and restricts it to
his own sects, thus making it clearly compulsory upon us to revere
HIS gods and HIS sacred things, and nobody's else. We can't say a
word, for he has our own dictionary at his back, and its decision
is final.

This law, reduced to its simplest terms, is this: 1. Whatever is
sacred to the Christian must be held in reverence by everybody
else; 2, whatever is sacred to the Hindu must be held in reverence
by everybody else; 3, therefore, by consequence, logically, and
indisputably, whatever is sacred to ME must be held in reverence by
everybody else.

Now then, what aggravates me is, that these troglodytes and
muscovites and bandoleers and buccaneers are ALSO trying to crowd
in and share the benefit of the law, and compel everybody to revere
their Shakespeare and hold him sacred. We can't have that:
there's enough of us already. If you go on widening and spreading
and inflating the privilege, it will presently come to be conceded
that each man's sacred things are the ONLY ones, and the rest of
the human race will have to be humbly reverent toward them or
suffer for it. That can surely happen, and when it happens, the
word Irreverence will be regarded as the most meaningless, and
foolish, and self-conceited, and insolent, and impudent and
dictatorial word in the language. And people will say, "Whose
business is it, what gods I worship and what things hold sacred?
Who has the right to dictate to my conscience, and where did he get
that right?"

We cannot afford to let that calamity come upon us. We must save
the word from this destruction. There is but one way to do it, and
that is, to stop the spread of the privilege, and strictly confine
it to its present limits: that is, to all the Christian sects, to
all the Hindu sects, and me. We do not need any more, the stock is
watered enough, just as it is.

It would be better if the privilege were limited to me alone. I
think so because I am the only sect that knows how to employ it
gently, kindly, charitably, dispassionately. The other sects lack
the quality of self-restraint. The Catholic Church says the most
irreverent things about matters which are sacred to the
Protestants, and the Protestant Church retorts in kind about the
confessional and other matters which Catholics hold sacred; then
both of these irreverencers turn upon Thomas Paine and charge HIM
with irreverence. This is all unfortunate, because it makes it
difficult for students equipped with only a low grade of mentality
to find out what Irreverence really IS.

It will surely be much better all around if the privilege of
regulating the irreverent and keeping them in order shall
eventually be withdrawn from all the sects but me. Then there will
be no more quarrelling, no more bandying of disrespectful epithets,
no more heart burnings.

There will then be nothing sacred involved in this Bacon-
Shakespeare controversy except what is sacred to me. That will
simplify the whole matter, and trouble will cease. There will be
irreverence no longer, because I will not allow it. The first time
those criminals charge me with irreverence for calling their
Stratford myth an Arthur-Orton-Mary-Baker-Thompson-Eddy-Louis-the-
Seventeenth-Veiled-Prophet-of-Khorassan will be the last. Taught
by the methods found effective in extinguishing earlier offenders
by the Inquisition, of holy memory, I shall know how to quiet them.


Isn't it odd, when you think of it: that you may list all the
celebrated Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen of modern times,
clear back to the first Tudors--a list containing five hundred
names, shall we say?--and you can go to the histories, biographies
and cyclopedias and learn the particulars of the lives of every one
of them. Every one of them except one--the most famous, the most
renowned--by far the most illustrious of them all--Shakespeare!
You can get the details of the lives of all the celebrated
ecclesiastics in the list; all the celebrated tragedians,
comedians, singers, dancers, orators, judges, lawyers, poets,
dramatists, historians, biographers, editors, inventors, reformers,
statesmen, generals, admirals, discoverers, prize-fighters,
murderers, pirates, conspirators, horse-jockeys, bunco-steerers,
misers, swindlers, explorers, adventurers by land and sea, bankers,
financiers, astronomers, naturalists, Claimants, impostors,
chemists, biologists, geologists, philologists, college presidents
and professors, architects, engineers, painters, sculptors,
politicians, agitators, rebels, revolutionists, patriots,
demagogues, clowns, cooks, freaks, philosophers, burglars,
highwaymen, journalists, physicians, surgeons--you can get the
life-histories of all of them but ONE. Just one--the most
extraordinary and the most celebrated of them all--Shakespeare!

You may add to the list the thousand celebrated persons furnished
by the rest of Christendom in the past four centuries, and you can
find out the life-histories of all those people, too. You will
then have listed 1500 celebrities, and you can trace the authentic
life-histories of the whole of them. Save one--far and away the
most colossal prodigy of the entire accumulation--Shakespeare!
About him you can find out NOTHING. Nothing of even the slightest
importance. Nothing worth the trouble of stowing away in your
memory. Nothing that even remotely indicates that he was ever
anything more than a distinctly common-place person--a manager, an
actor of inferior grade, a small trader in a small village that did
not regard him as a person of any consequence, and had forgotten
all about him before he was fairly cold in his grave. We can go to
the records and find out the life-history of every renowned RACE-
HORSE of modern times--but not Shakespeare's! There are many
reasons why, and they have been furnished in cartloads (of guess
and conjecture) by those troglodytes; but there is one that is
worth all the rest of the reasons put together, and is abundantly
sufficient all by itself--HE HADN'T ANY HISTORY TO RECORD. There
is no way of getting around that deadly fact. And no sane way has
yet been discovered of getting around its formidable significance.

Its quite plain significance--to any but those thugs (I do not use
the term unkindly) is, that Shakespeare had no prominence while he
lived, and none until he had been dead two or three generations.
The Plays enjoyed high fame from the beginning; and if he wrote
them it seems a pity the world did not find it out. He ought to
have explained that he was the author, and not merely a nom de
plume for another man to hide behind. If he had been less
intemperately solicitous about his bones, and more solicitous about
his Works, it would have been better for his good name, and a
kindness to us. The bones were not important. They will moulder
away, they will turn to dust, but the Works will endure until the
last sun goes down.


P.S. March 25. About two months ago I was illuminating this
Autobiography with some notions of mine concerning the Bacon-
Shakespeare controversy, and I then took occasion to air the
opinion that the Stratford Shakespeare was a person of no public
consequence or celebrity during his lifetime, but was utterly
obscure and unimportant. And not only in great London, but also in
the little village where he was born, where he lived a quarter of a
century, and where he died and was buried. I argued that if he had
been a person of any note at all, aged villagers would have had
much to tell about him many and many a year after his death,
instead of being unable to furnish inquirers a single fact
connected with him. I believed, and I still believe, that if he
had been famous, his notoriety would have lasted as long as mine
has lasted in my native village out in Missouri. It is a good
argument, a prodigiously strong one, and a most formidable one for
even the most gifted, and ingenious, and plausible Stratfordolater
to get around or explain away. To-day a Hannibal Courier-Post of
recent date has reached me, with an article in it which reinforces
my contention that a really celebrated person cannot be forgotten
in his village in the short space of sixty years. I will make an
extract from it:

Hannibal, as a city, may have many sins to answer for, but
ingratitude is not one of them, or reverence for the great men she
has produced, and as the years go by her greatest son Mark Twain,
or S. L. Clemens as a few of the unlettered call him, grows in the
estimation and regard of the residents of the town he made famous
and the town that made him famous. His name is associated with
every old building that is torn down to make way for the modern
structures demanded by a rapidly growing city, and with every hill
or cave over or through which he might by any possibility have
roamed, while the many points of interest which he wove into his
stories, such as Holiday Hill, Jackson's Island, or Mark Twain
Cave, are now monuments to his genius. Hannibal is glad of any
opportunity to do him honor as he has honored her.

So it has happened that the "old timers" who went to school with
Mark or were with him on some of his usual escapades have been
honored with large audiences whenever they were in a reminiscent
mood and condescended to tell of their intimacy with the ordinary
boy who came to be a very extraordinary humorist and whose every
boyish act is now seen to have been indicative of what was to come.
Like Aunt Beckey and Mrs. Clemens, they can now see that Mark was
hardly appreciated when he lived here and that the things he did as
a boy and was whipped for doing were not all bad after all. So
they have been in no hesitancy about drawing out the bad things he
did as well as the good in their efforts to get a "Mark Twain
story," all incidents being viewed in the light of his present
fame, until the volume of "Twainiana" is already considerable and
growing in proportion as the "old timers" drop away and the stories
are retold second and third hand by their descendants. With some
seventy-three years young and living in a villa instead of a house
he is a fair target, and let him incorporate, copyright, or patent
himself as he will, there are some of his "works" that will go
swooping up Hannibal chimneys as long as gray-beards gather about
the fires and begin with "I've heard father tell" or possibly "Once
when I."

The Mrs. Clemens referred to is my mother--WAS my mother.

And here is another extract from a Hannibal paper. Of date twenty
days ago:

Miss Becca Blankenship died at the home of William Dickason, 408
Rock Street, at 2.30 o'clock yesterday afternoon, aged 72 years.
The deceased was a sister of "Huckleberry Finn," one of the famous
characters in Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. She had been a member of
the Dickason family--the housekeeper--for nearly forty-five years,
and was a highly respected lady. For the past eight years she had
been an invalid, but was as well cared for by Mr. Dickason and his
family as if she had been a near relative. She was a member of the
Park Methodist Church and a Christian woman.

I remember her well. I have a picture of her in my mind which was
graven there, clear and sharp and vivid, sixty-three years ago.
She was at that time nine years old, and I was about eleven. I
remember where she stood, and how she looked; and I can still see
her bare feet, her bare head, her brown face, and her short tow-
linen frock. She was crying. What it was about, I have long ago
forgotten. But it was the tears that preserved the picture for me,
no doubt. She was a good child, I can say that for her. She knew
me nearly seventy years ago. Did she forget me, in the course of
time? I think not. If she had lived in Stratford in Shakespeare's
time, would she have forgotten him? Yes. For he was never famous
during his lifetime, he was utterly obscure in Stratford, and there
wouldn't be any occasion to remember him after he had been dead a

"Injun Joe," "Jimmy Finn," and "General Gaines" were prominent and
very intemperate ne'er-do-weels in Hannibal two generations ago.
Plenty of gray-heads there remember them to this day, and can tell
you about them. Isn't it curious that two "town-drunkards" and one
half-breed loafer should leave behind them, in a remote Missourian
village, a fame a hundred times greater and several hundred times
more particularized in the matter of definite facts than
Shakespeare left behind him in the village where he had lived the
half of his lifetime?



{1} Four fathoms--twenty-four feet.

{2} From chapter XIII of "The Shakespeare Problem Restated."

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