Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Promus of Formularies and Elegancies by Francis Bacon

The Promus of Formularies and Elegancies is a personal and private notebook containing a collection of phrases and terms written in Francis Bacon's own handwriting. "Promus" means larder or storehouse and this notebook seems to have been a collection of words to be used at a later time in some other literary work. Bacon wrote his notes in several different languages throughout his notebook. The original manuscript of Bacon's Promus is at the British Museum in the Harleian Collection (No. 7,017). We deduce that it was written about 1594-6, because folio 85 is dated December 5, 1594 and folio 114 is dated January 27, 1595. Pictured here is folio 85 showing Bacon's handwriting, its date, and the translation. This notebook was unknown to the public for about two hundred years, until Mrs. Henry Pott reproduced and published it for the first time in 1883. 
Mrs. Henry Pott

What is so significant about Francis Bacon's notebook is that the terms and phases in his notebook appear in the plays attributed to William Shakespeare and additionally in the known, acknowledged works of Bacon. 

Edward D. Johnson, from his book, The Shaksper Illusion, says, "Francis Bacon's Promus is by itself sufficient evidence to show that the man who wrote the Promus also wrote the "Shakespeare" Plays. The most important evidence in the Promus is the word ALBADA, Spanish for good dawning (Folio 112).  This expression good dawning' only appears once in English print, namely, in the play of King Lear where we find "Good dawning to thee friend," Act 2, Scene 2. This word ALBADA is in the Promus 1594-96 and King Lear was not published until the 1600's. If Will Shaksper had not seen the Promus, and as he could not read Spanish, it would mean that some friend had found this word ALBADA, meaning good dawning and told Shaksper about it, and that Shaksper then put the word into King Lear, which sounds highly improbable. A part of one of the folios in the Promus is devoted by Bacon to the subject of salutations such as good morrow, good soir, good matin, bon jour, good day. From this it would appear that Bacon wished to introduce these salutations into English speech. These notes were made in the Promus in 1596 and it is a remarkable coincidence that in the following year 1597 the play of Romeo and Juliet was published containing some of these salutations, and they afterwards appeared in other "Shakespeare" plays, good morrow being used 115 times; good day, 15 times; and good soir (even), 12 times. These words are found in the ''Shakespeare'' plays and nowhere else."

The following are just a few examples of the many parallelisms between Bacon's notes in the Promus and lines from the Shakespeare plays: 

Bacon                    A fool's bolt is soon shot          Promus 106
Shakespeare        A fool's bolt is soon shot          Henry V, 3/7

Bacon                    Seldome cometh the better        Promus 472
Shakespeare        Seldome comes the better          Richard III, 2/3

Bacon                    All is not gold that glisters        Promus 477
Shakespeare        All that glisters is not gold        Merchant of Venice, 2/7

Bacon                    All is well that ends well        Promus 949
Shakespeare        All's well that ends well         All's Well That Ends Well

Bacon                    Good wine needs no bush        Promus 517
Shakespeare        Good wine needs no bush        As You Like It, Epilogue

Bacon                    Happy man, happy dole        Promus 940
Shakespeare        Happy man be his dole          Merry Wives of Windsor

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