Thursday, May 13, 2004

Francis Bacon's Steganography

Complete TragediesThe whole world is still buzzing over the controversy: was Francis Bacon really the author of Shakespeare's works? Uhm, well, perhaps that's an overstatement. Anyhow, came across a very intriguing series of articles on Bacon's supposed use of steganography (hiding an encrypted message within another message). It begins with Mark Twain's description of a barely literate Shakespeare.

There is also considerable doubt about the facts of Shakespeare's own life. Let us read what Mark Twain had to say about that (From Is Shakespeare Dead?, 1909):

He was born on the 23rd 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 behind.
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 a 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. . .
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 to 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.
So far as anybody actually knows and can prove, Shakespeare of 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, he received only one letter during his life.
So far as anyone can know 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 frend 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.

Who wrote the Works?

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