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A too vivid realization of the fact, with all that it implies, is herein an obvious fault; one only to be forgiven when, in after years, this realization shall have become a part of the consciousness of the people.

TO GET AT THE BEING OF A GREAT AUTHOR, TO COME INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS ABSOLUTE PERSONALITY, IS THE HIGHEST RESULT OF THE STUDY OF HIS WORKS.

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PROFESSOR HIRAM CORSON.

H

!

!

PROLOGUE.

The Tribunal of History is always open. Its session is one continuous term; and therefore, its judgments are ever subject to review. Nor is attendance at its bar limited to a privileged class : any one may at any time move a rehearing; and not even a "retainer" is required, as authority for his appearance. Nevertheless, and justly, there is no court in which it is so difficult to win a case. Old Father Time is almost always of the opposing counsel: and his wisdom, age, and experience have great weight in a tribunal where humanity sits in judgment upon itself ; whose probity is the integrity of the race, and whose records are of the issues of its life. And, especially when its adjudication has been entered of record for three hundred years, it is not only apparently, but actually, the height of presumption, for one utterly unknown within its precincts to enter his appearance and deliberately ask for its reversal,

unless he succeeds. And as with the Sphinx and its riddles, whose solution was open to all, the penalty of his failure is in effect death, or at least banishment. Nevermore can he gain the ear of the court.

Dropping this pleasant fancy, for I would not have this book regarded as fiction (though were it false, it might perhaps be humorously termed a work of imagination ; and if it be true, its truth is stranger than fiction), I would state, as the warrant for its appearance, that there are here presented data which have convinced me, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespearian Plays. It may be that my judgment is at fault, that I am the victim of illusion ; but if so, as these data are here placed before the reader in just the light in which they appeal to my understanding, this fault must soon become glaringly apparent. But on the contrary, if I am right, and the data, in and of themselves, are really convincing, then I shall have good company.

Whatever be the event, I have already received an ample reward, in the acquirement of a better acquaintance with him of whom I write. This I would share with the reader: and I am confident that he will gain from the perusal of this book, if nothing else, at least additional knowledge of Francis Bacon,

The greatest, the brightest, the least understood
Of mankind.

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