Welcome to the Members’ Area of the Francis Bacon Society website. Here you will find announcements about upcoming Society events and interesting information shared with the Society by members, as well as quick access to videos of our Society talks.
Received via email:
I forwarded ” Of Discourse ” to a long time friend in England who is very interested in FB. He wrote back to say there is a stately home he visited where there is a portrait of FB flanked on one side by The Virgin Queen and on the other side a portrait of Leicester. He hopes to let me know where these portraits can be seen. Then his information could be included your next “Of Discourse”.
The Society has been unable to locate this particular ‘triptych’, but perhaps Society members might like to take it upon themselves to hunt it out! Please send any leads or clues to firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcomed a new member to the Society from Nashville, Tennessee in July, who is working on some interesting writing projects:
I’m primarily a music producer/songwriter here in the US, but I also do some novel writing. My first two published books were historically-based thrillers (think Dan Brown) about rare books and the mysteries they held. I’m now working on a thriller centering on the Shakespeare authorship question, and Francis Bacon is very much at the heart of my research. I’m also planning to write a thriller about the King James Bible that would also contain a link to Bacon. (And maybe there would be a third book? A Bacon trilogy??)
I do believe that a few of the books and pamphlets in my possession were printed by the Francis Bacon Society… I’ll have to take a closer look and see which ones! And yes, let me know about any Baconian institutions here in the US, that would be helpful!
As for whether I consider myself a Baconian – in the Shakespeare sense – I suppose my best answer is that I feel much closer to being a Baconian than an Oxfordian or a Stratfordian!
Thanks for the invitation to the society, I’m excited to learn more!
A contribution from Society Chairman Susan McIlroy with a few of her favourites – let us know yours for the next issue.
What is an Apophthegm?
“Jests of the pointed and witty kind, dignified by attachment to famous historical figures.”
– F.P.Wilson in Shakespearean And Other Studies.
Collections were very popular at the time; editors included Erasmus and the historian William Camden. In his own editing Bacon shows to great effect his genius to heighten drama and to sharpen and simplify the original. Bacon said he recorded them, “for my recreation, in my sickness”. But the Oxford Francis Bacon Volume VIII editor, Michael Kiernan, says Bacon took them very seriously; Apophthegms are included in the Advancement of Learning, titled: Brief Speeches or Sayings, in appendices to History.
Bacon refers to Cicero’s description of apophthegms as ‘salt pits’ and says, “They are of excellent use… you may extract the salt out of it, and sprinkle it, where you will.” Bacon states within his own criteria, “Not omitting any, because they are vulgar; (for many vulgar ones are excellent good;) Nor for the meanness of the Person”, c.f. the plays of Shakespeare.
No. 43 Mendoza, that was Vice-Roy of Peru, was wont to say; That the Gouernment of Peru, was the best place that the King of Spaine gaue, saue that it was too neere Madrid.
No.55 Queene Elizabeth was wont to say of her instructions to great officers; That they were like to garments, straight at the first putting on, but did by and by weare loose enough .
No.58 The Booke of Deposing Richard the second, and the coming in of Henrie the fourth, supposed to be written by Dr Hayward, who was committed to the Tower for it, had much incensed Q. Elizabeth. And she asked MT. Bacon, being then her learned Counsell; Whether there were no treason contained in it? MT. Bacon intending to doe him a pleasure, and to take off the Queenes bitterness with a jest, answered; No Madam, for treason, I cannot deliver opinion, that there is any, but verie much felonie. The Queen apprehending it gladly, asked: How and wherein? MT. Bacon answered: Because he had stollen many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus.
No.59 MT. Popham, when hee was Speaker, and the Lower House had sate long, and done in effect nothing; coming one day to Queene Elizabeth, she said to him; Now, Mr. Speaker, what hath passed in the Lower House? He answered: If it please your Maiestie, seuern weekes.
No. 126 Antigonus, when it was told him, that the enemie had such volleyes of arrows,that they did hide the Sunne, said; That falls out well, for it is hot weather, and we shall fight in the shade.
No. 254 There was a Painter, became a Physician. Whereupon, one said to him; You haue done well; For before, the faults of your work were seene, but now they are unseen.
One member sent us this interesting list of parallels between Bacon’s writing and Shakespeare’s works, from Mrs Henry Potts’ MSS
“A little kingdom is as a great household, and a great household as a little kingdom.”
Advice to Villiers
“The state of man like to a little kingdom”
Julius Caesar, II.1
“Things will have their first or second agitation… and be full of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man.”
Essay ‘Of Counsel’
“It is a reeling world indeed, my Lord.”
Richard III, III.2.5
“No flourishing and painted words but such words as are fit to go before deeds.”
Speech in Chancery, L.L., vi.183
“As is my deed to my most painted word.”
“The greater navies look like walking woods.”
The wood began to move.”
“The difference is good which was made between orators and sophisters, that the one is as the greyhound… and the other as the hare.”
“Thy wit is as quick as the hound’s mouth – it catches.”
Much Ado About Nothing, V.2
“The girdle of the Earth.”
Nat. Hist., vi.
“Great breezes which the motion of the air in great circles, such as are under the girdle of the world, produceth.”
Nat. Hist., iv
“I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, II.2
“To stumble at the threshold.”
“They that stumble at the threshold.”
1 Henry VI, IV.2
“That frank and clear confession might open the gate of mercy.
We wished him not to shut the gate of your Majesty’s mercy against yourself.”
To the King of Somerset, May 1616
“Open thy gate of mercy, gracious Lord.”
3 Henry VI, I.4
“Windows in men’s hearts and secret thought.”
Letter written for Walsingham
“This window of a man’s heart.”
De Aug., VIII
“Mistress look on me
Behold the window of my heart.”
Love’s Labour’s Lost, V.2
“To trip up his heels.”
Hist. Hen. VII
“The tongue trips upon teeth.”
“Speak the speech… trippingly upon the tongue.”
“This King… ready in the twinkling of an eye.”
Charge against Talbot, Jany. 31, 1613-14
“Performed suddenly, and, as we say, in the twinkling of an eye.”
Nov. Org., ii.46
“Time runneth in the twinkling of an eye.”
“I’ll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling of an eye.”
Merchant of Venice, II.2
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition
Anti-Stratfordians galvanised in April amid the 400th anniversary celebrations, releasing several press releases reaffirming their cause.
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition released this press release, summarising the main points of their argument and reissuing their challenge to the Stratfordian camp to participate in a ‘mock trial’ on the subject of the authorship: https://doubtaboutwill.org/press/04_24_2016
Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi appeared on an American talk show to discuss the ongoing anti-Stratfordian efforts; this press release details the conversation:
And you can listen to the recording here:
In July we sent the following email to members:
We received some thoughtful and interesting responses:
“Wonderful…Yes, technology and even education does not guarantee ethical and moral advancement. Technology even magnifies the ability of deranged people to do damage to innocents… as in every age, the biggest barrier to peace is the inner darkness of people, and their unwillingness to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.”
“I hope Lord Bacon would enjoy early morning swims in The Serpentine. A simple pleasure that leads to others and settles those knots, leaving the mind clear for everything else…”
Oak Island and the Lost Colony
One member wrote to us about an Oak Island blog:
Any member who is interested in news about the Oak Island Mystery having possible connection to Francis Bacon, should follow this link ~ referring to Daniel Ronnstrom from Sweden, for a recent update: https://at37.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/37-reasons-wherefore-we-now-do-make-known-the-fraternity/
Society member Mark Finnan also sent us a link to a documentary about Oak Island:
This youtube video from a documentary made some years ago may be of interest. I was consulted on the making of this documentary and interviewed for it. Of course I mention the Bacon/Shakespeare theory in relation to the mystery.
And we received this link to an article containing new archaeological evidence concerning the Lost Colony, who were sent into North Carolina in the 1580s and were never found.
Recommended Reading List
We are compiling a reading list for Baconians. Please send in any recommendations, or even your ‘do not read’s!
Elizabeth The Forgotten Years by John Guy, a world leading authority on Tudor history, Fellow of Claire College Cambridge.
Penguin Viking, £25
Recently nominated for the Costa biography prize
The book focuses on the later years, from 1584 when Queen Elizabeth reached 50 years of age. Guy writes that most biographers tend to flag once the Queen passed the age of 50. It is meticulously researched, using overlooked archives and an excellent book, revealing the innermost thoughts of Elizabeth during a time when she was able to wield power and assert her authority.
I had hoped that there would be new information or comment on Francis Bacon, but the Bacon family feature very little in the book; the following are virtually the only references made to them. But anyone who is interested in the history of these years will be rewarded. What is significant for Baconians is that the author links what Anthony and Francis say to excerpts from Shakespeare. Could the author, a highly esteemed academic, be a closet Baconian?
Italics denote excerpts from state papers and other documents.
The author reports:
‘Shortly before Christmas 1596, Anne Bacon, the mother of Francis and Anthony, upbraided him (Essex) in a blistering broadside, on account of his alleged flagrant backsliding. The source was her friend Dorothy Stafford, now the longest serving of Elizabeth’s Bedchamber women, who had informed her that Essex had embarked on an adulterous liaison with Elizabeth Stanley […] Robert Cecil’s favourite niece’.
For Baconians the friendship between the two ladies and the proximity to the Queen shows the intimacy of the Bacon family with the Royal household of which Anne had formerly been a principle member.
The author describes Anthony:
‘Burghley’s invalid nephew and a brilliant linguist […] Essex’s chief spin doctor and intelligencer’ […] Ancient friend of James V’s envoy, Scotsman, David Foulis […] (they wrote in French in code) […] Lampooning Robert Cecil as ‘a little pot soon hot’, just like Petruchio’s manservant Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew’.
The author comments:
‘The brilliant forensic lawyer and polymath […] cruelly mocked (Robert) Cecil’s puny physique, making him appear as the living embodiment of Caliban in The Tempest […] devised a glittering pageant on the theme of Essex’s undying passion for the Queen…’
Guy praises Bacon’s letter to Essex:
‘Bacon’s penetrating letter of advice written on 4 October 1596 to Essex […] Bacon says Essex could only appear to her (the Queen) to be ‘an unbridled horse’ – the very phrase she used of Essex on the eve of the Rouen campaign, ‘a man of nature not to be ruled’ […] I doubt whether there can be a more dangerous image than this represented to any monarch living […] It was a brilliant vignette […] And of all the dangers he enumerated, the greatest and most threatening to Essex was his quest for fame or popularity. Bacon said he must learn quickly to loose his appetite […] ‘take all occasions’, he cautioned, ‘to speak against popularity and popular courses vehemently’.
Here Guy adds, ’The Earl had to learn – Bacon might have added like Coriolanus in Shakespeare’s eponymous play, had the play yet been written – to know the distinction between civilian and military conduct, and to act appropriately in each of those spheres. This was the sagest council Essex would ever receive.’
Baconians might counter, but the play was already in Bacon’s mind! Praise indeed from this award winning author and highly esteemed academic.
One member brought our attention to the issue of the Bard’s beard!
“The face of William Shakespeare could finally be revealed, as the National Portrait Gallery considers cleaning one of its most famous works for the first time.”
Those who subscribe to The Times online can read the full article online via this link: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/shakespeare-restoration-may-cost-the-bard-his-beard-j2vvkh2jh
Clues at the National Portrait Gallery
Received via email
“Thank you for your information on the National Portrait Gallery.
“When I lived in London I was a regular visitor to the National Portrait Gallery,
“I recall one visit, about thirty years ago, before the gallery was reorganized when I noticed two paintings in the corner of the Tudor Gallery.
“My interest in Francis Bacon goes back to the mid 1960’s.It was not long afterwards that I was told of his close family connections to Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. So I was surprised to see a painting of Queen Elizabeth 1 right in the corner of the gallery and on the adjacent wall, in the same corner, was a portrait of Robert Dudley. The Queen’s eyes were looking straight ahead and so were those of the Earl. At what were they both looking?
“Several feet in front of both paintings was a life size bronze statue of Sir Francis Bacon. The perfect trio. Had this triangle of objects been deliberately placed to tell a message or was it Divine Intervention?
“Today, with the modernization of the Gallery, The Queen and Leicester are parted and the magnificent statue of Francis Bacon rests in the basement of the NPG. Banished from any Regal hopes.
“I have often wondered if anyone else had made the same observation as I had done.”
Spirituality in Healthcare lectures
Received via email
Thought you might find the item (below) interesting reading. It is part of a series of lectures/talks sponsored by an organisation in Toronto.
I look forward to attending and getting her book on Shakespeare and the stars.
Spirituality in Healthcare Network: Is Our Health Truly “Written in the Stars”?
An enquiry about Alfred Dodd from across the Pond
Received via email
Greetings! Francis Bacon Society!
THANK YOU for all you are and do.
I am an American writer interested in Francis Bacon.
I would be so grateful for your assistance!
I have in my possession an illustrated hardcover book called “The Martyrdom of Francis Bacon” by Alfred Dodd.
I see that Rider published it – 68 Fleet Street, London is the address given.
Interestingly, there is no copyright or publishing date that I can find.
I assume this book is now in the public domain(?) and is not under a Trust of any kind(?) and does not require permissions to use its contents. (?) Alfred Dodd has passed though I have yet to find the date of his passing.
I believe the book is part of your Collection now under the care of the Senate House Libraries, University of London.
Please advise if my assumptions are correct and if not, details of whom I should approach and how to obtain the rights and permissions required to reference material contained therein.
I thank you for your time and consideration of this matter and await your earliest response!
God Bless and protect your efforts to bring Truth to Life about Sir Francis Bacon.
And two more emails regarding Alfred Dodd from the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London:
Do you have a record of the date of death of the author Alfred Dodd, whose step daughter Irene Rowland left a legacy to the Society? We have several works by Dodd who was a founder member of Runcorn Lodge, No. 4214, Cheshire. Usually or membership records carry a date of death but the lodge made him an honorary member in 1938, which meant he stopped paying fees to Grand Lodge, so they ceased to record him on the registers. A reader has asked us to find out his dates (we know he was born in 1879) and it would be nice to complete our library catalogue records.
Martin Cherry – Librarian
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I had seen that you had some books that had been presented to Pallas Athene Lodge of Research no. 987 by Alfred and Florrie Dodd and Helen on the Senate House Library catalogue. The name and number of the lodge had thrown me because it wasn’t a United Grand Lodge of England Lodge but I did think it may have been co-masons. It would be interesting to know if any of the Dodd’s were members of the Co-masons (I am guessing that Helen is a daughter) because I have since found out that Dodd regarded Pallas Athena as his muse. As a member of the UGLE, Dodd shouldn’t have been getting involved in Co-masonry but the Pallas Athene Lodge didn’t come along until after he had stopped paying dues to Runcorn Lodge. It would be interesting if he moved over to Co-masonry late in life and was involved in the formation of a new lodge. He was certainly very generous towards them. I will email our colleagues in co-masonry and see what they can find out and get back to you.
Martin Cherry – Librarian
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Thoughts and comments on recent publications, contributed by a society member
Shakespeare in Court by Alexander Waugh
Divided into two sections, the first gives reasons why the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust cannot be taken seriously on the subject of the Shakespeare. And this is followed by an entertaining and revealing fictional courtroom drama. A fast and enjoyable read. At the end of the book Mr Waugh invites all who doubt the authorship of Shakespeare to sign the online ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare’ at https://doubtaboutwill.org/declaration.
Ed.: This eBook largely resurrects, and excellently brings to life in a modern setting, the work of Sir George Greenwood MP, barrister, who wrote 12 books and lead pubic debates on the authorship question in the early 20th century. His books were distributed at the time and sold by the Society.
The Age of Genius The Seventeenth Century & The Birth Of The Modern Mind by A.C.Grayling
I was going to buy this book until I read a couple of devastating reviews:
“It’s really unforgivable flaw is that the author is just not interested in science.”
“On the whole it is overwritten, under-sourced and inexhaustively pompous.”
“A. C. Grayling’s intellectual heroes would despise this study of them.”
“Grayling is clear that religion and reason are mutually exclusive.”
Bacon is quoted by one reviewer:
“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”
And so, in a few words, Bacon disproves the Grayling’s thesis and leaves him with his idols in his cave and his day job to go back to!
Shakespeare’s Gardens by Jackie Bennett
Published this year to coincide with the 400 year anniversary. The Authorship Trust looms large…
When I visited the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon I realised that here were five gardens here that could tell us something about Shakespeare’s life that perhaps hadn’t been said before.
Shakespeare’s Gardens is a journey through his life, using the houses and gardens that he lived in (including his years in London and those he visited) as source material. I spent time in the countryside where he grew up, thinking about the plants that would be grown in his childhood gardens, right through to when he bought his own house and made a garden as an adult.
As luck would have it the only review I saw in the national papers was not written by a Stratfordian but possibly by a Baconian. He begins with a lengthy quotation from Bacon’s Essay Of Gardens, his weakness for topiary: ‘little low hedges, round, like welts, with some pretty pyramids, I like well.’ and then comments that Jackie Bennett writes ‘more in Bacon’s spirit than the playwright’s’.
Bennett admits the well-tended gardens at Stratford-upon-Avon look nothing like the dung heaps with the odd daisy that Shakespeare would have known.
The reviewer continues that any claims to authenticity are specious and, ‘worse, they feed the idea that Shakespeare was a jolly National Trust-going fellow – more like Bacon, in fact, than the son of a glove-maker’. He continues in this gloriously irreverent way and poses that when Shakespeare retired to New Place he may have been a craft beer enthusiast and that we do not know if he grew a mulberry tree as is claimed. The reviewer’s final reference to Bacon: ‘Bacon was sniffy about ‘‘the making of knots or figures’’ in gardens, claiming that ‘‘you may see as good sights, many times, in tarts’’.
We regularly receive requests from authors asking us to help promote their books. Some even take the trouble to become members for a few years. As a serious Literary Society it is right that we review academic books only, not fiction, even where part of the content is factual: those where fact is combined with fiction, aka ‘faction’.
We find that the authors are generally very respectful and sincere in their admiration for Bacon and the books submitted well written. The connection to Francis Bacon varies from the tenuous to the well researched. The difficulty for the reader, and especially for those not too familiar with Bacon’s works and life, is knowing what is fact and what is fiction. Sometimes these books contain terrible howlers. However, if any of them were to have a Dan Brown effect or bring to the public domain the work and importance of Bacon, we’d probably be awfully pleased. Bearing this in mind, and with no recommendation from the Society, here are three books that some members have enjoyed reading.
Prince of our Dreams: Young Shakespeare Deslie McClellan, Playhouse Books
(We have copies available, sent to us by the author)
Well reviewed by Lawrence Gerald of www.sirbacon.org
The Way of the Quest by Dr George Blair-West
A young Shakespeare’s search for life’s purpose and meaning.
The Royal Secret byJohn Bentley
Well reviewed by Kirkus Reviews USA and the London Review. Available on Kindle.
John Bentley has asked that we inform him if we spot any factual errors; we have spotted one or two, so let us know if you do and we’ll pass it on.
A member sent this amusing clipping following our visit to Middle Temple Hall. Perhaps next time we visit we will find the hall with lights dimmed and covered in yoga mats…?