« PoprzedniaDalej »
Though our faith is sincere, we feel that it wants confirmation, and that we are constitutionally more
fit to form one of a congregation of old believers,
than to become the preacher of a new creed.
What Bacon says of his book on the Advance
ment of Learning, we may say of our humble pro
duction—"In which if I have in any point receded
from that which is commonly received, it hath been with a purpose of proceeding in melius, and not in aliud ; a mind of amendment and proficiency, and
not of change and difference.
For I could not be
true and constant to the argument I handle, if I were not willing to go beyond others, but yet not
more willing than to have others go beyond me
again: which may the better appear by this, that I
have propounded my opinions naked and unarmed, not seeking to preoccupate the liberty of men's judgments by confutations."
And we will conclude by quoting his paper on
the Pacification of the Church, where he says“Knowing in my conscience, whereto God beareth
witness, that the things which I shall speak spring out of no vein of popularity, ostentation, desire of novelty, partiality to either side, disposition to intermeddle, or any such leaven: I may conceive
hope, that what I want in depth of judgment may be countervailed in simplicity and sincerity of
BACON AND SHAKESPEARE.
THE AUTHOR has been advised to
PREFACE the reissue of his Book with the following Letters:
Mr. Smith to Mr. Hawthorne. SIR, My attention has been called to the following statement in the Literary Gazette of the 9th of Мау.
“Miss Bacon's book, a volume of imposing dimensions, is introduced by a preface from Mr. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who thus alludes to Mr. Smith's appropriation of his countrywoman's labours :—'An English writer (in a letter to the Earl of Ellesmere, published within a few months back) has thought it not inconsistent with the fair play upon which his country prides itself, to take to himself this lady's theory, and favour the public with it as his own original conception, without allusion to the author's prior claim.''
I beg to assure you that I had never heard the name of Miss Bacon until it was mentioned in the review of my pamphlet in the Literary Gazette, Sept. 1856. I had then great difficulty. in ascertaining where Miss Bacon had written any thing respecting the Shakespeare Plays. Having done SO, and read the article on “William Shakespeare and his Plays,” it seemed to me so preposterous for any one to conclude that I had derived my theory from thence, that I did not think the insinuation worthy of notice. The association of your name, however, gives the statement an importance and respectability which the former insinuation in the Literary Gazette did not possess, and therefore, although
“ writer” indifferent to fame, as a cannot allow such a calumny to pass unnoticed.
If it were necessary I could show, that for upwards of twenty years I have held the opinion that Bacon was the author of the Shakespeare Plays, but I trust that what I have written will be sufficient to induce you to withdraw the offensive imputation.
Waiting your reply,
I remain Sir, your obedient Servant,
WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
Mr. Hawthorne's Reply.
Liverpool, June 5th, 1857. In response to your note of 2nd instant, I beg leave to say that I entirely accept your statement as to the originality and early date of your own convictions regarding the authorship of the Shakespeare Plays, and likewise as to your ignorance of Miss Bacon's prior publication on the subject. Of course, my imputation of unfairness or discourtesy on your part falls at once to the ground, and I regret that it was ever made.
My mistake was perhaps a natural one, although unquestionably the treatment of the subject in your Letter to the Earl of Ellesmere differs widely from that adopted by Miss Bacon. But as I knew that a rumour of her theory had been widely, though vaguely circulated, for some years past, on both sides of the Atlantic, and also that she had preceded you in publication, it really never occurred to me to doubt that, at least, some wandering seed had alighted in your mind, and germinated into your pamphlet. Under urgent circumstances, I had taken upon myself to write a few prefatory and explanatory words for my countrywoman's book. It was impossible to avoid some allusion to your