Shakespeare Cross-Examination: A Compilation of Articles First Appearing in the American Bar Association Journal

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Francis Bacon and the Knights of the Helmet

by Commander Martin R. N. Pares

A LEARNED AND distinguished American judge, who is of opinion that the case of Francis Bacon deserves more careful consideration than was possible in Richard Bentley "Elizabethan Whodunit", has invited me to bring forward further evidence. The jury is undecided, and so perhaps, with the Editor's permission, the Baconian case may be put by someone who is more convinced of its justice and therefore more aware of the full sweep of its implications. There will be no need to go over old ground. The case against Stratfordian orthodoxy has been so ably handled by Richard Bentley as to need no restatement. Tradition and credulity have been challenged on evidence and can no longer take shelter as an article of faith. John N. Hauser's clever citation of legal jargon in Ben Jonson's plays, though a fine piece of advocacy, will not bear examination. Ben Jonson uses legal terms in mere buffoonery and satire, and these do not stand up to the examples of Shakespearean legal profundity, noticed by Lord Chief Justice Campbell and cited by Charlton Ogburn. Let us banish the Idols of the Theatre (so significantly defined in the Novum Organum) and consider the evidence for Francis Bacon. Let us forget the odor of that famous "second-best bed", and take our tone from a sentence in a very different Testament:

For my name and memory I leave it to foreign nations, and to mine own countrymen after some time be passed over.

These words in Francis Bacon's draft will--expressly withholding from his

-79-

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