Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians
Chapter II. Notes on Rosicrucian Literature
I wish to point out how remarkable a thing it is to find the
Rosicrucians and their literature appearing on the stage of Europe,
and making themselves first known on and about the date of
Shakespeare's death, 1616.
"The whole Rosicrucian controversy," writes Arthur Waite (in his fifth chapter of the "Real History of the Rosicrucians"), "centres in a publication entitled "The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz." It was first published at Strasbourg in the year 1616. Two editions of the German original are to be found in the British Museum (In the Harleian MSS., from 6481 to 6486, are several Rosicrucian writings, some translated from the Latin by one Peter Smart, and others by a Dr. Rudd, who appears to have been a profound adept.) both bearing the date 1616 'Chymishe Hochzeit : Christiani Rosencreutz. Anno 1459.' 'Erstlick Gedructzor Strasbourg. Anno MDCXVI.'" It appears from Mr. Waite that this romance "is supposed to have existed in manuscript as early as 1601-2, thus ante-dating by a long period the other Rosicrucian books" (p.99). If this is a fact, which we see no reason to doubt, it seems to us very curious it was not published before, and it is possible its publication depended upon some event. We are bound to consider our evidence altogether, and we must call attention again to the suspicious hint given in the "Confessio Fraternitatis" of 1615, where we read of imposters,
"One of the greatest being a STAGE PLAYER, a man with sufficient ingenuity for imposition."*
* Footnote: [We take the following from the "Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, " published 1615 : "For conclusion of our Confession we must earnestly admonish you, cast away, if not at all, yet most of the worthless books of pseudo chymists, to whom it is a jest to apply the Most Holy Trinity to vain things, or to deceive men with monstrous symbols and enigmas, or to profit by the curiosity of the credulous; our age doth produce many such, one of the greatest being a STAGE PLAYER, a man with sufficient ingenuity for imposition" (chapter xii., "History of the Rosicrucians")].
Shakespeare, as we know by the list of actors given in the 1623 Folio, was an actor, his name figuring first out of twenty-six. And though we are quite alive to the fact that at this date 1615 Shakespeare had retired, some years back, to Stratford, all these Rosicrucian manifestoes seem to have been existing in manuscript some years before they were published. This is no ingenious theory of ours, as Mr. Waite's pages will testify. For example, he writes :
" The original edition of the 'Universal Reformation' contains the manifesto bearing the above title ('Fama Fraternitatis') , but which the notary Haselmeyer declares to have existed in manuscript as early as the year 1610, as would also appear from a passage in the Cassel edition of 1614, the earliest which I have been able to trace" (p. 64, "Real History of the Rosicrucians").
It is a remarkable fact that the three publications which made, as it were, the mysterious fraternity known to the world, follow the dates 1614, 1615, 1616, that is the two years preceding and the year Shakespeare died. The uproar resulting from these publications amongst the learned and even unlearned of Europe, reaches its climax in 1617, when Robert Fludd, the apologist for the order, replies to the attacks of Libavius. This is the year following Shakespeare's death. In 1623, the date of the publicaton of the first Folio edition of the plays, we read of a meeting in Paris of thirty-six Rosicrucians, and the uproar recommences, and Gabriel Naude writes, like Mersenne and Gassendi, to expose the pretensions of the society. Fludd's "Tractatus Apologetici integritatem societatis de Rosea Cruce defendens Leiden," 1617, proves that the year following Shakespeare's death the battle of the critics was at its height. I cannot believe this coincidence accidental. Nothing is heard of the Rosicrucians before 1614, when their manifestoes and confessions appear yearly for three years, up to Shakespeare's death, 1616. We hear no more (directly) of them till 1623. Bacon dies 1626, and De Quincey points out that with the "Summun Bonum," 1629, they vanish from literature. The dates are as follows of the three great manifestoes :
"Fama Fraternitatis," 1614.
"Confessio Fraternitatis," 1615.
"Chemical Marriage of C.R.C." 1616.
BACON'S "HOLY WAR"
One of the titles by which the Rosicrucian Fraternity was known was the "Valley of Peace."* In the 1614 "Fama Fraternitatis" we read : "Truth is peaceable, brief, and always like herself in all things." Eugenius Philalethes attaches the following address to the Rosicrucians to the first chapter of his "Anthroposophia Theomagica" :
"To the Most Illustrious and truly regenerated brethren R. C., to the peace-loving apostles of the church in this contentious age, salutation from the centre of peace" (Waites edition, "Magical Writings of Thomas Vaugham," Eugenius Philalethes).
Bacon is fond of several times introducing in his writings the following :
" And as Alexander Borgia was wont to say of the expedition of the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark up their lodgings, and not with weapons to fight; so I like better that entry of truth which cometh peaceably with chalk to mark up those minds which are capable to lodge and harbour it, than that which cometh with pugnacity and contention" (Redarguito).
Very curiously this forms again the thirty-fifth aphorism of the first book of the "Novum Organum," and this is the number of the plays in the 1623 Folio Catalogue. In a letter to Sir Thomas Bodley he writes : If you be not of the lodgings chalked up." The connection of peace and war that is, soldiers who do not actually fight except with chalk in their hands is eminently suggestive of a peaceable crusade, or reformation, and as it appears one of the titles of the Rosicrucians was Militia Crucifera Evangelica.
Footnote * There is a somewhat remarkable document in the Latin language professing to be the record of a masonic meeting of the period, but discovered recently in Germany, along with Lodge minutes of the Hague, dated 1637, and styled 'Lodge of the Vallye of Peace.' This document is called the 'Charter of Cologne'. It has been printed in English, and is to be found in Dr. Burne's "History of the Templars" The Freemasons' Quarterly (1840), The Freemason's Magazine (1859)m &c,)
In 1598 there was a meeting of them at Lunenburg (vide De Quincey's Essay). We have the authority of John Val. Andreas that the society was formed "out of the ruins of the Knight Templars." Like the latter, they aimed at rebuilding the Temple. "Ascendamus ad montem rationabilem oedificemus domum Sapientiae" ("Summum Bonum," Fludd, 1629). If the student will read Bacon's "Holy War" with this in mind, he will see that Bacon's idea of a crusade carries out this idea. And he will, I think,easily perceive Bacon does not seriously propose a real war with swords, but rather one with pens."
"For I am of opinion, that except you could bray Christendom in a mortar, and mould it into a new part, there is no possibility of a Holy War."
The possible and the impossible are wonderfully discussed in this tract. Bacon gives a sort of hint when he says :
"Except they had the gift of Navius that they could, hew stones with pen-knives."
Martius one of the six characters of the dialogue is introduced thus :
"But let us, if you think good , give Martius leave to proceed in his discourse; for methought he spake like a Divine in Armour."
The reader may perceive by the title (Holy War) and a number of such hints that, Bacon is thinking of the Crusades and the Templars. The great motto of Constantine, who gave the order the red cross, is introduced thus :
"Yet our Lord that said on earth, tot he Diciplines, Ite et proedicate, said from Heaven to Constantine, In hoc signo vinces. What Christian soldier is there that will not be touched with a Religious emulation, to see an order of Jesus, or of Saint Francis, or of Saint Augustine do such service, for enlarging the Christian borders; and an order of Saint Iago, or Saint Michael, or Saint George, only to robe and feast and perform rites and observances?"
Mark how all these Orders are introduced in context with Christian soldiers! The motto, " In hoc signo vinces," may be refound in the "Marriage of Christian Rosy Cross," 1616. This motto went with the sign seen by Constantine in the heavens, the fiery Cross. And in Bacon's "New Atlantis," we read :
"The morrow after our three days were passed, there came to us a new man that we had not seen before, clothed in blue as the former was, save that his turban was white, with a small red cross on the top." *
* Footnote "We were all distributed amongst the Lords, but our old Lord and I, most unworthy were to ride even with the king, each of us bearing a snow white ensign with a Red Cross" (Marriage of Christian Rosenkreutz," 1616)
"Having replied that I was a Brother of the Red Rosie Cross, & c. (Ibid., p.111).
"The Templars were the famous Red Cross Knights whom Spenser has taken in his Faery Queen to typify perfect holiness or the Church."
This "New Atlantis," John Heydon identifies line for line, word for word, with the "Land of the Rosicrucians!" In my opinion Bacon's "Holy War," written in 1622, and placed at Paris, is a profound hint for the Militia Evangelica Crucifera, or Rosicrucians, whom we hear of at Paris, next year (1623), at a meeting, the numbers being curiosly thirty-six, or the number of the plays in the 1623 Folio. All this, if coincidence only, is very curious. Why does Bacon lay this dialogue at Paris? The style of the writing is at the commencement Alchemical a profound hint worthy note.
"Here be four of you, I think were able to make a good world; for you are as differing as the four elements, and yet you are friends. As for Eupolis, because he is temperate, and without passion, he may be the fifth Essence. If we five (Polio) make the Great World, you alone may make the Little "(page1).
The reader perceives the references here to the Macrocosmos and Microcosmos the Great and Little Worlds which was one of the Rosicrucian tenets (see Fludd's works passim). This tract is full of Masonic allegory and hints from beginning to end. And here let us remark, it is not a satire. Bacon writes in the letter to Lancelot Andrews, Bishop of Winchester, prefixed to it :
"But revolving with myself my writings, as well those I have published as those which I had in hand, methought they went all into the City, and none into the Temple; where because I have found so great consolation, I desire likewise to maks some poor oblation. Therefore I have chosen an argument, mixed of Religious and Civil considerations, and likewise mixed between Contemplative and Active. For who can tell whether there may not be an Exoriere Aliquis? Great matters (especially if they be Religious)have (many times) small beginnings, and the Platform may draw on the building" (Dedicatory Epistle).
The reader may see by the allusion to the Temple and its building, that Bacon is referring to the House of Wisdom the Temple of Solomon! He writes of the Princes of the World :
"For they have made a great path in the seas, unto the ends of the world; and set forth ships and forces of Spanish, English, and Dutch enough to make China tremble. And all this for pearl, or stone, or spices; but for the pearl of the Kingdom of Heaven, or the stones of the heavenly Jerusalem, or the spices of the Spouse's Garden, not a mart hath been set up."
It may be perceived by this hint of Contemplative and Active arguments what he really means. Upon page 38 he writes :
"I was ever of opinion that the Philosopher's Stone and an Holy War were but the rendez-vous of cracked brains."
By Bacon's saying that he comes "with
chalk in his hands to mark up lodgings peaceably," he shows how
adverse he was to any forcible entry of Truth, by means of pugnacity
or contention. It is therefore necessary to examine this tract apart
from the serious or surface proposition for a new crusade. It seems
to us that in this Advertisement is hidden some society of a
reforming or religious character.
The first striking thing that calls our attention is the marked way Bacon , in this "Holy War," preserves the true anti-infidel spirit, in his denouncement of the Ottomans or Turks, which we shall show is also a Rosicrucian feature.
"But let me recall myself; I must acknowledge that within the space of fifty years (whereof I spake) there have been three noble and memorable actions upon the infidels, wherein the Christian hath been the invader. For where it is upon the defensive, I reckon it a war of nature, and not of piety. The first was that famous and fortunate war by sea, that ended in the Victory of Lepanto; which hath put a book into the nostrils of the Ottomans to this day" (p.34)
This battle, which decided the fate of Europe, was fought in 1572, the same year as the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, and it was this year the star or comet appeared in Cassiopea which has been by some supposed to be the star of Bethlehem. Bacon again writes of the Turks (in this "Holy War:") :
"So that things be rightly weighed, the Empire of the Turks maybe truly affirmed, to be more barbarous than any of these. A cruel tyranny, bathed in the blood of their Emperors, upon every succession: a heap of vassals and slaves: no nobles, no gentlemen: no free-men, no inheritance of land, no stirp or ancient families: a people that is without natural affection, and as the Scripture saith, that regardeth not the desires of women: and without piety or care towards their children: a nation without morality, without letters, arts, or sciences; that can scarce measure an acre of land, or an hour of the day: base and sluttish in buildings, diets, and the like: and in a word, a very reproach of human society: and yet this nation hath made the garden of the world a wilderness; for that as it is truly said, concerning the Turks : Where Ottoman's horse sets his foot, people will come up very thin" (p.37). " I confess that it is my opinion that a war upon the Turks is more worthy than upon any other gentiles, infidels, or savages, that either have been, or now are, both in point of religion and in point of honour."
Directly we turn to the Rosicrucian "Confession" of 1615, we find the same anti-papal and anti-Mohomet spirit displayed as by Bacon ,
" Although we believe ourselves to have sufficiently unfolded to you in the Fama, the nature of our order, wherein we follow the will of our most excellent father , nor can by any be suspected of heresy, nor of any attempt against the commonwealth, we hereby do condemn the East and the West (meaning the Pope and Mohomet) for their blasphemies against our Lord Jesus Christ (chapter i., "Confessio Fraternitatis R. C., ad. Eruditos Europae")
Again, in he "Advertisement" we read :
"And as we do securely call the Pope Antichrist, which was formerly a capial offence in every place, so we know certainly that what we here keep secret, we shall in the future thunder forth with uplifted voice, the which, reader, with us desire with all thy heart that it may happen most speedily."
"What think you, therefore, O Mortals, seeing that we sincerely confess Christ, execrate the pope," &c. (chap. xiii., "Confessio," 1615).
Bacon shows throughout his writings the most intense anti-papal spirit. Dr. Abbot writes :
"The Essay on Religion in 1612 is nothing but a protest against the crimes perpetuated in the name of Roman superstition; and even in the ampler and graver Essay of 1625, on the Unity of Religion, Bacon can suggest no means for procuring Unity, except the damning and sending to Hell for ever those facts and opinions that tend to the support of such crimes as Rome had encouraged" (Bacon as a Theologian, p. exi., "Essays").
"The genuine and intense hatred felt by Bacon for Romanians is even illustrated by the letter he wrote to Toby Matthew on hearing that the latter had been converted to the Church of Rome:
'And I entreat you much sometimes to meditate upon the extreme effects of superstition in this last Powder Treason, fit to be tabled and pictured in the chambers of meditation as another Hell above ground, and well justifying the censure of the heathen that superstition is worse than atheism; by how much it is less evil to have no opinion of God at all than such as is impious towards His Divine Majesty and Goodness.' Good Mr. Matthew receive yourself from these courses of perditon" (Introduction, p. cxii. Ibid).
"What Duessa is in the Faery Queen, that is Rome in Bacon's policy. Wherever in the Essays he writes the word 'superstition,' we may take it for granted that he is thinking of Rome" (ibid., cxiii.)
Bacon writes in the"Advertisement for a Holy War":
"This Pope is decrepit, and the bell goeth for him. Take order, that when he is dead there be chosen a Pope of fresh years, between fifty and threescore; and see that he take the name of Urban, because a Pope of that name did first institute the Cruzada, adn(as with an holy trumpet) did stir up the voyage for the Holy Land."
This is a reference to the Crusades, and no doubt a key to the entire ""Advertisement for a Holy War." "The Rosicrucians," according to Valentine Andreas,
"were formed out of the ruins of the Knight Templars by one faithful brother."
It seems to us the style of Bacon's "Holy War" is written full of hints, half cabbalistical and half hermetic, the general spirit being anti-papal against the Turks.
There is little doubt the Rosicrucian idea of a General Reformation of Society, was a secret or underground movement to carry on the work of the Great Reformation (begun by Luther and Melanchthon), by means of a secret brotherhood or fraternity, in the same way that Free Masonry aims at the purification of society by means of private appeal to all that is best, noblest, and most unselfish in man, stimulating the interest by a certain amount of mystery, secrecy, and symbolism. Not only this title "Reformation of the whole Wide World" recalls the Great Reformation, but their emblem, a cross surmounted by a rose, was the heraldic device of Luther.* And to strengthen this evidence, we find their secret crusade or Reformation was also (like Luther's)anti-papal. Amongst their priviliges, powers, and declarations, Naude enumerates :
"That by their means the triple crown of Peter will be ground into the dust.
"That they confess freely and publicly, with no fear of repression, that the Pope is Anti-Christ.
"That they denounce the blasphemies of East and West, meaning Mahomet and the Pope, and recognise but two sacraments, with the ceremonies of the early Church, renewed by their congregation" (Waite's Real History of the Rosicrucians," p. 399).
* Footnote- "They bore the Rose and Cross as their badge, not because they were Brethren of the Concocted and Exalted Dew, not because they had studied the book Zohar, not because they were successors and initiates of hte ancient Wisdom-Religion and the sublime hierarchies of ELD, but because they were a narrow sect of theosophical dissidents, because the monk Martin Luther was their idol, prophet, and master, because they were rabidly and extravagantly Protestant, with an ultra-legitimate violence of abusive Protestantism, because, in a single word, the device on the seal of Martin Luther was a Cross crowned heart rising from the centre of a Rose" (p. 242, Waite's "Real History of the Rosicrucians")
Germany and England were the two countries in Europe where the Reformation first took hold, and it is not suprising if the visit of the Rosicrucian Michael Maier to England should have had results. The Rosicrucians were a protestant, religious society, thoroughly in harmony with Christian doctrines, which is further proved by Robert Fludd's explanation of their emblem, the Rose mounted on a Cross:
"In England the pseudonymous author of the "Summum Bonum,' who is supposed to be Robert Fludd, gives a purely religious explanation of the Rose Cross symbol, asserting it to mean 'the Cross sprinkled with the rosy blood of Christ.' All authorities are agreed upon one important point in the character of Andreas, and that is his predilection in favour of secret societies as instruments in the reformation of his age and country. According to Buhle, he had a profound and painful sense of the gross evils and innumerable abuses which afflicted the German fatherland, and which were revealed, not eradicated, by the lurid fire-brand of Luther's reformation. These abuses he sought to redress by means of 'secret societies' " (Waite's "Real History of the Rosicrucians").
I have assumed Bacon's mind was bent upon self-sacrifice. It is certaintly a most remarkable thing, both the "Advancement of Learning," in Two Books (first published 1605), and the more stately "De Augmentis" of 1623, commence and end with the idea and allusion of Sacrifice.
"There were under the law (excellent King) both daily sacrifices and free-will offerings" (opening of First Book, both 1605 and 1623). "But the errors I claim and challenge to myself as mine own. The good, if any be, is due Tanquam, adeps sacrificii to be incensed to the honour, first of the divine Majesty, and next of your Majesty, to whom on earth I am most bounden."
These are the actual words concluding the work of the "Proficience and Advancement of Learning," 1605. Now it is very striking that the "De Augmentis" of 1623 (which constitutes an enlargement of the Second Book of the "Proficience" into eight books) terminates with the same allusion, though the context is dissimilar.
" Notwithstanding, seeing the greatest matters are owing unto their principles, it is enough to me that I have sown unto Posterity and the immortal God, whose divine Majesty I humbly implore through his son and Saviour, that he would vouchsafe graciously to accept these and such like sacrifices of humane understanding, seasoned with religion as with salt, and incensed to his glory * (Book IX., the end, p. 477, 1640 "Advancement").
*Footnote- "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm cxxvi. 5, 6).Who sows in tears shall reap joy,
The Lord doth so ordain;
So that his seed be pure and good,
His harvest shall be gain.(Bacon's translation.)
These final words are placed in italics. There was evidently some particular association in Bacon's mind between the "De Augmentis" and Sacrifice. For in a letter to Sir Thomas Bodley upon sending this book, he writes :
"My labours I have dedicated to the King; desirious if there may be any good in them, it may be as the fat of a sacrifice."
This idea of sacrifice is closely connected with the simile of sowing seed. In a letter to Dr. Playfer, requesting him to translate the book of the "Advancement of Learning" into Latin :
"I have this opinion, that if I had sought mine own commendation, it had been a much fitter course for me, to have don as gardners used to do, by taking their seeds and slips, and rearing them first into plants, and so uttering them in pots when they are in flower, and in their best state. But for as much as my end was merit of the state of learning and not glory; and because my purpose was to excite other men's wit than magnify my own; I was desirious to prevent the uncertainness of my own life and times by uttering rather seeds than plants: nay, and further (as the proverb is) by sowing with the basket rather than with the hand."
This passage refers entirely to the "Advancement of Learning" or De Augmentis." It is remarkable to find the Sixth Book treating of Secret Ciphers and Delivery, opening again this simile of sowing and harvest.
For there a book is found entitled FORMUCARIUM ARTIUM; w have indeed accumulated a little heap of small dust, and laid up many Grains of Arts and Sciences therein, whereto ants my creep and ther repose a while, and so betake themselves to new labours. Nay, the wisest of the kings sends the slothful, of what rank or quality soever, unto the ants; and those we define to be slothful, whose only care is to live upon the main stock , but not to improve it by sowing the ground of sciences over again and reaping a new harvest* (Book VIl., 258, 1640).
The impression this opening passage leaves upon our minds is that this Art of Tradition or Delivery Bacon thus introduces has something in common with the simile of the ants,seeds, and underground store Bacon propounds. It seems to us Bacon has presented us this simile to suggest not only resurrection of his own art, or of his name, but that it is for us to develop these underground seeds, to till the garden of his Theatre, and make a proper use of the hints and directions contained and obscured purposely in this work. The aforesaid passage quoted from this letter to Dr Playfer is pregnant with self-suppression and not self "glory," as he writes of his style of delivering the "Advancement." And we must take the hint he gives us ofhis "purpose to excite other men's wits," which is evidently part of the object he has in view connected with this particular work "sowing with the basket rather than with the hand,"as if to say this work was pregnant with the sowings for posterity he concludes it with.
*Footnote This emblem of seed and sowing is typical of the Rosicrucian Fraternity. Fludd : "Nos docet Apostolus ad mysterii perfectionem vel sub Agricoloe vel Architecti typo pertingere"either under the image of a husbandman who cultivates a field, or of an architect who builds a house. Bacon adopted both types, for his Advancement of Learning," 1640, he styles himself Architectura Scientiarum.
Upon page 96 (Book II.) he writes in context with the subject of Lost Names :
"But such swans are rare in our age; and although many men more mortal in their vigilancies and studies than in their bodies despise the memory of their names as if it were fume or air , animae nil magnae laudis egentes: namely, whose philosophy and severity spring from that root, Non prius laudes contempsimus quam laudanda facere descivimus."
We cannot doubt that this is written in application to himself. (There are ninety-five words upon this page in italics; and the ninety-fifth word all counted from the top of the page is "Poets"). In the above passage quoted we find the self-confession of a great mind despising praise, and again the suggestion of effacement and self-sacrifice with regard to name. * That Bacon held the ends he proposed to himself, and their results before all things first and himself as nothing as certain. Francis Verulam consulted thus, and thus concluded with himself; the publication whereof he conceived did concern the present and future age.
*Footnote- The Rosicrucian doctrines were closely connected with sacrifice, Christ being their divine pattern, and their jewel a crucifex and rose. Robert Fludd in his "Summum Bonum and "Sophioe cum Moria certamen" explained the symbols of the Rose and the Cross as meaning "the Cross sprinkled with the rosy blood of Christ." Again Fludd writes " May the same mind dwell in you as in Jesus." We find throughout the Rosicrucian writings, and particularly Fludd's, Christ identified as the Corner Stone of the invisible Temple of Wisdom
The conclusion of these motives of Bacon's to his Instauration of sciences, concludes :
"Truly he estimated other ambition whatsover, inferior to the business he had in hand; for either the matter in consultation, and thus far prosecuted, is nothing; or so much aas the conscience of the merit itself ought to give him contentment without seeking a recompense from abroad."
Belief in this theory of sacrifice can only be accepted from the grounds that Bacon was throughout actuated by deep religious feelings of extraordinary character. Nobody acquainted with his works will doubt that. And as far as is permitted for human art to parallel Divine Art, I believe Bacon has approximated creation. We have the parallel of he six days and the six divisions of the "Instauration," terminating (in the Distribution Preface) with a prayer:
"Wherefore if we labour with diligence and vigilance in thy works, thou wilt make us participants of thy vision and of thy sabbath." * The inspired character of Bacon's Advancement" is a particular feature of its own, and should be duly remarked. This work contains one hundred and fifty quotations or allusions to Sacred Scripture, and this is sufficiently curious in itself.
*Footnote -See Preface, "Instauration": "And by the protection and assistance of the Divine Power have borne up an encouraged ourselves" (p.15).
Another important point to register upon
this subject, is Bacon's repeated appeal to posterity and far off
ages. It cannot be explained upon the accepted understanding he
refers to his Inductive System of Philosophy only. For during Bacon's
life-time Galileo, Harvey, Gilbert, and others were successfully
applying experiment and induction to Nature, and nobody knew that
better than Bacon. Let those who wonder at this assertion read the
dialogue carried on between Spedding and Ellis in the preface t the
Parasceve. They will find Ellis declaring the Baconian
Philosophy "has yet to come," and that Bacon's extravagant
claims for his peculiar system cannot be explained upon any as yet
received hypothesis. One of Bacon's promises were Examples to
illustrate his system in practice. The second part of the
"Instauration" was to be applied to the fourth, which was to
exemplify the method of the mind in the comprehension of things upon
models as by a scale or ladder. Bacon writes in the most confident
terms upon these examples which were apparently never completed, or
if completed, withheld. This fourth part of the "Instauration" (as
likewise the fifth and sixth) is missing. Yet in some posthumous
writings published at Amsterdam by Gruter, 1653, he speaks of two of
the parts as if they existed, and in none of his writings explains or
apologies for their absence. The entire Baconian Philosophy is bound
up with these missing parts, or second half of the "Instauraton." The
fact that there is no sketch, no hint of what these platforms, types,
and models were to be, or are ( beyond what we adduce as to the
paging 35,36, and the 71 capital words on these pages; in my last
work, Hermes Stella, pages 103-5) in his Preface yet
confidently alluded to as completed, requires some explanation and is
sufficiently suspicious. I adhere to Delia Bacon's intuitive theory
that the plays belong to this series.
"Our Lord at His solemn manifestation to the Gentiles when the inquiry of the Greeks who came saying, 'We would see Jesus,' was answered by the voice from heaven, spoke of himself as the CORN (or SEED) of wheat which dying should arise, and bring much fruit." The Hebrew New Testament translating "corn" by the same word used as "seed" in Genesis iii. 13. I am convinced the sacrifice implied in Bacon's authorship of the plays, and his constant comparison of Poetry to Seed, andhis conclusion of the "De Augmentis" with the words, " I have sowen unto posterity and the immortal God," have a profounder relationship to the founder of Christianity than we can at present form any idea of. It is striking that almost the last words in the Folio, 1623the last act of Cymbelinerefer to Christ and the Church. For the "Lion's Whelp" is "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," the Messiah (Rev. v. 5). It is noteworthy the Rosicrucians entirely based their doctrines upon the Bible. Their advent upon the stage of Europe is connected with the star of Bethlehem, 1572, and the spirit of their writings is anti-papal. In the description of the vault of Christian Rosy Cross, given in the "Fama Fraternitatis," we find this description :
" In the midst, instead of a tombstone was around altar covered with a plate of brass, and thereon this engraven :A.C.R. C. Hoc universi compendium unius mihi sepulchrum feci.
Round about the first circle or brim stoodJesus mihi omnia."
All this should be compared with Bacon's
extraordinary knowledge of Scripture, which is reflected in the plays
known as Shakespeare's.
The type of "Agrioloe," or husbandmen, which Robert Fludd ascribed for the Rosicrucian Fraternity, is a strong parallel pointing to this parable of self-sacrifice and seed. The Rosicrucians evidently took Christ's sacrifice in the sense of buried seed or corn, promising future harvest, and it is striking Bacon joins hands with them in this point. I am convinced the sacrifice of name, with respect to the authorship of the plays known as Shakespeare's is closely connected with all this, being part of their self-renunciative doctrines reflected by their head and founder, Francis Bacon, the King Solomon of their House of Wisdom.
De Quincey writes :
"I shall now sum up the results of my inquiry into the origin and nature of Free-masonry, and shall then conclude with a brief notice of one or two collateral questions growing out of popular errors on the main one.
"1. The original Free-masons were a society that arose out of the Rosicrucian mania, certainly within the thirteen years from 1633 to 1646, and probably between 1633 and 1640. Their object was magic in the cabbalistic sense, i.e., the occult wisdom transmitted from the beginning of the world, and matured by Christ; to communicate this when they had it, to search for it when they had it not; and both under an oath of secrecy.
II. This object of Free-masonry was represented under the form of Solomon's Temple as a type of Church, whose corner-stone is Christ. This temple is to be built of men, or living stones; and the true method and art of building with men it is the province of magic to teach. Hence it is that all the masonic symbols either refer to Solomon's Temple, or are figurative modes of expressing the ideas and doctrines of magic in the sense of the Rosicrucians, and their mystical predecessors in general."
I consider, if this last conclusion of De Quincey's as to Solomon's Temple is to be accepted as true, then it is certain Bacon's New Atlantis is in connection with Free-masonry through Rosicrucianism. Bacon calls his "College of the Six Days" Solomon's House, and Tenison, in his "Baconiana," terms the entire "Instauration" "Domus Sapientiae", or the House of Wisdom.* My theory is Lord Bacon was the representative Solomon of the Society, and anyone reflecting upon the repeated introductions by Bacon of this writer's name and his works, must see that Bacon had a special object in repeating so often,
"' The Glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the King is to find it out;"'as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide His works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God's playfellow's in that game."
This is the chief text and keynote of Bacon's mind,concealment and reserve. It quite falls in with his other observations.
"Let great authors so have their due, as we do not derogate from Time, which is the Author of Authors and Parent of Truth" (p. 35, "Advancement," 1640)
Or this :
"Another error induced by the former is, a suspicion and diffidence, that anything should now to be found out, which the world should have missed and passed over so long time" (p. 36, "Advancement," 1640)
Both these passages are upon pages numbered 35 and 36, which agree with the thirty-five plays in the 1623 Folio Catalgue, and if we add "Troilus and Cressida" (omitted from the Catalgue expressly, probably to give two play numbers), the thirty-six plays known as Shakespeare's.
*Footnote- The London Free-masons also borrowed much of their phraseology from Lord Bacon's Essay, yet fresh in men's minds, in which , adopting the idea of the 'House of Wisdom', a technical term with the Arab astrologers, he proposed the foundation of a 'Solomon's Hose,' or a learned community dedicated to experimental philosophy and the advancement of science. An important point is the fact that the Rosicrucians are acknowleged even now amongst the Free-masons as a degree or class, although disclaimed with the fraternity's claim to immemorial antiquity" (The Gnostics and their Remains," King,pp.178-9)
"'Do any of you know that the Ashmolean Masonry is altogether ignored on the Continent of Europe?' the Surgeon inquired.
"' Brother Frederick Nicolai has given it a decided contradiction,' the Skipper replied. 'He says tht the object of themeeting at Warrington, so far from being Masonic, was simply for the purpose of carrying out a philosophical idea which had been promulgated by Lord Bacon in his "New Atlantis' of the model of a perfect society, instituted for the secret purpose of interpreting nature, and of producing new arts and marvellous inventions for the benefit of mankind, under the name of Solomon's House, or the College of the Six Days' Work, which, in plain language, was intended to be an ideal society for the study of natural philosophy. The persons present at these meetings are said by Nicolai to have been Rosicrucians, and we know this to be true of Ashmole himself. He asserts, further, that these men erected , in their Lodge, two Great Pillars, which they used a chequered pavement, a ladder of seven staves or rounds, and many other secret symbols'' ("Discrepancies of Freemasonry," Oliver).
Professor Buhle affirms as the "main thesis"
of his concluding chapter, that "Freemasony is neithermore or less
than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplated it into
England." This is De Quincey's opinion also : "For i affirm, as the
main thesis of my concluding labours
THAT FREEMASONRY IS NEITHER MORE NOR LESS THAN ROSICRUCIANISM AS MODIFIED
BY THOSE WHO TRANSPLANTED IT UNTO ENGLAND" (History Critico-Inquiry," chapter v., De Quincey).
Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians