The Greatest of Literary Problems: The Authorship of the Shakespeare Works; an Exposition of All the Points at Issue, from Their Inception to the Present Moment

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Houghton Mifflin, 1915 - Drama - 685 pages
Excerpt from The Greatest of Literary Problems: The Authorship of the Shakespeare Works; An Exposition of All Points at Issue, From Their Inception to the Present Moment

God does not ordain the vilest among men to be his messen gers of peace and enlightenment to mankind - and, certainly, the men to whom our pretentious guides have introduced us were among the vilest of their kind. No wonder the world is awakening to the necessity of a higher criticism than that with which it has hitherto been cloyed, and turning to one incomparable genius, who, voicing the primal strains of the Renaissance in Tudor England, bore them on with ever swelling majesty to the close of the grand symphony which ended with his life. This great genius I hope to Show was Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans. Time was when I should have dismissed this thesis with impatience, but I am hoping that my readers will weigh the evidence I adduce before condemning me as a mere theorist.

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Baxter's book is a wonderful analysis of the need for secrecy in Elizabethan England. He touches on symbolism, watermarks, cryptography, and the known history of Rosicrucianism (especially as related to Francis Bacon) up to the time of his publication in 1917. His explanations and illustrations go far to enlighten us about the milieu in which the plays and poetry of Shakespeare were written. He particularly explores the theory that William Shakespeare was a pen name, and he objectively explores the claims of Baconians that the author might have well been Bacon.
This book was published just three years before the publication of J. Thomas Looney's groundbreaking revelations in his book "Shakespeare Identified as Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford".
Readers interested in the authorship question will definitely find this book helpful and well written. The scholarly objectivity as Baxter examines the evidence is a refreshing alternative to the shrill debates occurring in the 21st century.
 

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Page 349 - Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment? Sure something holy lodges in that breast, And with these raptures moves the vocal air To testify his hidden residence. How sweetly did they float upon the wings Of silence through the empty-vaulted night, At every fall smoothing the raven down Of Darkness till it smiled...
Page 378 - Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen...
Page 377 - Who will believe my verse in time to come, If it were fill'd with your most high deserts? Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
Page vii - I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill ; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Page 380 - Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme; But you shall shine more bright in these contents Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time. When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils root out the work of masonry, Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn The living record of your memory.
Page 43 - And though this, probably the first essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire, for some time, and shelter himself in London.
Page 296 - Wisdom for a man's self is in many branches thereof a depraved thing ; it is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall; it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger who digged and made room for him; it is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour ; but that which is specially to be noted is that those which, as Cicero says of Pompey, are sui amantes sine rivali...
Page 72 - This Figure, that thou here seest put, It was for gentle Shakespeare cut ; Wherein the Graver had a strife With Nature, to out-doo the life: O, could he but have drawne his wit As well in brasse, as he hath hit His face ; the print would then surpasse All that was ever writ in brasse. But, since he cannot, Reader, looke Not on his Picture, but his Booke.
Page 379 - Had my friend's Muse grown with this growing age, A dearer birth than this his love had brought, To march in ranks of better equipage; But since he died, and poets better prove. Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love.
Page 321 - I hope I shall not be found to have the troubled fountain of a corrupt heart, in a depraved habit of taking rewards to pervert justice ; howsoever I may be frail, and partake of the abuses of the times.

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