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THE writer of the “Advertisement of the American Publishers” of the Works of Francis Bacon, as the highest eulogy that could be pronounced upon the merits of the illustrious author, writes:
“In many respects Bacon resembles his immortal contemporary, Shakespeare. Like Shakespeare, he enjoyed the most splendid reputation for genius and ability in his lifetime; like him, he was comparatively undervalued and neglected for ages after his death; and like him, in the present refined and severely scrutinizing era, he has been tried in the hottest furnace of criticism, and has come forth pure gold, whose weight, solidity, and brilliancy can never hereafter be for a moment doubted. It is said of Shakespeare that his fertile genius exhausted the whole world of nature. As a poet, he has undoubtedly done this; and Lord Bacon, as a philosopher, has done the same."
The similarity in the writings which are given to us as the works of Bacon and Shakespeare has received the notice of critics and scholars of every generation since their first appearance,
nearly three centuries ago; but a lady of our own country was the first to intimate that the dramas attributed to Shakespeare were written by Lord Bacon. Much controversy among writers has since occurred, and the investigations incident thereto have involved the question in so much doubt, that the interest in its solution will exhaust all conflicting resources before it will be satisfied. As a practical question it may prove of little benefit to the world to know whether Bacon was or was not the author; but if this form of judgment were applied to all the questions of the day, how many would exceed this one in importance? There is certainly an opportunity here for doing a longdelayed act of justice to the memory of one of the greatest benefactors of our race, or of silencing the doubts and suspicions which are gathering around the venerated name of another. If the evidence should irrefutably destroy the idol we have so long worshipped, would the satisfaction be less complete in acknowledging Bacon than Shakespeare ? Shall the sentiment which so long has hallowed the shrine of Shakespeare be protected, and the world remain disabused, or the memory of Bacon be rescued, and truth be established ?
I ask for a careful perusal of the interpretation of the Sonnets. Undoubtedly the poem will be found to contain many facts in the lives of both Bacon and Shakespeare that have escaped my notice. If those which I have discovered cannot be refuted, or if the Sonnets themselves are not capable of a more reasonable interpretation, then enough has been told to put the supporters of Shakespeare upon their defense.
The Sonnets were undoubtedly written for the purpose of conveying to future ages the true his. tory of the dramas. The Key, and the seemingly surreptitious publication and inexplicable dedication of them, were ingeniously devised to conceal their meaning from contemporary readers. Th:t they have remained so long, and been subjected to so many variant criticisms without comprehensible interpretation, is chargeable to the fact that every writer accepted them and criticised them as the history of the loves of Shakespeare.
For a further and fuller explanation of the reasons governing their publication, I refer the reader to the interpretations themselves. The most I have aspired to accomplish is to aid in discovering the truth.
H. L. H. SAN FRANCISCO, October, 1887.