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THE BACON-SHAKESPEARE CONTROVERSY.

HISTORY OF THE VAGARY.

Cause and Basis The claims of those who contend that of the Fallacy. Lord Francis Bacon was the author of

the plays of the immortal Shakespeare, when a reason for the existence of such a doctrine is looked for, is to be found in the fact that the hero worshipers of the Eighteenth Century had created an impossible character in the person of Shakespeare, by attributing to him superhuman knowledge. These extreme claims are responsible for the conclusion that no one person could have accomplished such miracles of knowledge as have been attributed to him. It was then but another step from the conclusion that he did not possess the literary omniscience attributed to him, to the discovery of one capable of such accomplishments.

The fond Shakespearian Commentators, therefore, with their absurd claims for the great Bard, are responsible for the refutation of such claims and the next unreasonable claim of title, in another than Shakespeare. These literary hero worshipers, not only in England and America but in Germany, as well, in accordance with the natural German tendency to discover profound significance in the most trifling things, found that Shakespeare knew

*Mr. John Fiske states that the key note of the Baconian theory was first sounded by August von Schlegel, who claimed that Shakespeare had “mastered all things and relations of this world," and treated his life as a mere fable. Fiske's "Forty Years of Bacon-Shakespeare Folly," in Atlantic Monthly for November, 1897, page 652.

* Lowell, Literary Essays, 11, 163.

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What folly I commit, I dedicate to you.”

Troilus and Cressida, Act III., Scene II.

TO MARY A. WADSWORTH,

of Columbia, Missouri, a most profound student of Shakespeare, Shakespearian lecturer and author of "Shakespeare and Prayer," whose friendship and encouragement prompted the collaboration of these Commentaries, the work is respectfully inscribed, with the Author's admiration and

regard.

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