Disclaimer: It should be clearly understood that Baconiana is a medium for the discussion of subjects connected with the Objects of the Society, but the Council does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed by contributors or correspondents.


Welcome to the first electronic edition of Baconiana! This is in fact the 197th issue of The Francis Bacon Society’s (FBS) journal, but it marks a new beginning: henceforth, Baconiana will no longer be printed in hard-copy.

The FBS is one of the oldest literary societies in Great Britain. The extraordinary work its pioneers accomplished, without mainstream support or recognition, was inspired by the spirit of fraternal cooperation, and a firm belief in the human value of great literature.

Many Baconians feel strongly that information should be available to the public via the Internet. However, the opportunity to combine vast amounts of information from online searches is no substitute for intimate familiarity with relevant sources, deep thought, and dialogue with colleagues.

A society is different from an aggregate of isolated researchers and merely to publish a writer’s thoughts without acknowledging their context and intent would be a kind of theft. Shakespearean literature, like all great art, comes alive in gatherings of people in a way impossible when sitting at a computer terminal or researching in a library. The Information Revolution is no substitute for humanities in the true sense, and we believe that literary societies like the FBS still warrant the loyal support they have traditionally received.

The current issue’s authors take Bacon’s involvement in the Shakespeare Plays for granted – a very cogent conclusion for the few who take the time to read Bacon’s matchless prose and absorb his thought. But this perception is only the beginning. Despite 150 years of dispute often characterized by disgraceful ad hominem polemics, ignorance and the fear of studying contrary evidence, the mystery remains. Was Shakespeare one author or several? Was Shakespeare of Stratford on Avon definitely the same man as the London actor? And so on. Once we have the honesty to accept that the traditional biographies of Shakespeare are mostly sheer nonsense and invention, where do we go? Yet the marvel of the Plays remains, and our authors each, in their different ways, address the question “why were they written?” Once Bacon’s philosophy and its esoteric affiliates are absorbed, the likelihood of Bacon’s involvement casts a keen light on the purpose of these dramas. The ancient Greeks saw poetry as akin to magic – the musician Orpheus was said to have made stones move through his song. Drama, in particular tragedy, as Aristotle noted, can cause Catharsis, through the fear and pity evoked, and Catharsis itself is the first stage in the Mysteries. Drama, combined with the incantatory power of word and music, can enlighten us and stir our psyche to its depths. Clearly, psychology, The Mysteries and magical drama are all connected, and our authors offer fresh approaches rather than definitive, conversation-stopping discourses.

Michael Buhagiar’s article approaches Shakespeare from the perspective of depth psychology in a startling article that offers a totally original view of the connection between Bacon and Shakespeare. Whether or not they agree with the conclusions, most readers will surely want to investigate Buhagiar’s book, from which this article is culled. Michael Taylor’s contribution combines psychology and esoteric philosophy to posit the continuity between Bacon’s philosophy and the work of Carl Jung.

Bacon’s Special Use of Drama is the transcript of a beautiful lecture given by a long-standing member of the Bacon Society at a Society meeting some years ago. It exemplifies the light afforded by conscientious reading of Bacon, and shows sensitive appreciation of the purpose and effect of drama. Those readers wishing to gain a flavour of traditional Baconianism should start here, as the points discussed form a useful foundation for the other, more exploratory articles.

Andrew Lyell’s article is an edited extract from a manuscript encompassing the author’s lengthy researches as an Oxfordian and Baconian. Lyell reminds us of the tenuous nature of the Shakespeare Myth. Not all Baconians agree that this proves the actor Shakespeare wasn’t the author, but Lyell rejects the man of Stratford. However he accepts the Oxfordian and Baconian cases on the strength of their key arguments and then demonstrates how one can begin to identify the probable author of particular passages in Shakespeare, with novel conclusions. “GC” by contrast sees no need to argue with Shakespeare’s possible authorship, correctly pointing out that Baconians are those that perceive in the literature of Bacon and Shakespeare two expressions of the same mind. As Bacon is coming back into fashion, there will surely be an increasing number who see the connection, (however, and by whom, the Shakespeare plays were written). Some may argue that Lyell’s approach is overly subjective. However, a large proportion of orthodox literary criticism is no less subjective, and for the same reason: the judgment of a well-read expert is more valuable than that of a beginner, their guesses more ‘educated’. In recent years, interdisciplinary studies have found a home in the academic mainstream, and questions too hard for small independent researchers will surely be solved with the help of the resources and tools of academic scholarship. But the science of literary forensics is in its infancy, despite the hopes for computer-assisted textual analysis. Research into the dynamics of collective authorship and the practice of literary artifice are still lacking. There is no doubt that the materials collected by Baconians and Oxfordians are essential to the development of these future disciplines in literary studies.

Bacon lived in a well-read and ‘interdisciplinary’ age, hence the cliché of the renaissance man which he actually merited. Regrettably or not, renaissance men have been thin on the ground in the intervening centuries, especially among professional scholars: it has often been women rather than men who had the imagination and humility to see beyond the tunnel of their own specialty, within the Bacon Society and outside. It must be recognized that the Oxfordians deserve much of the credit for strengthening the connection between the ‘heretics’ and the mainstream, but also that all the main approaches to the Authorship Question were pioneered by Baconians. In his article, Andrew Lyell calls for increased collaboration between the Oxford and Bacon Societies. Many other people will second his call.

Francis Carr’s lucid and concise piece Was Mozart a Baconian? is essential reading for those who wish to understand the role of Bacon’s philosophy in the enlightenment project and the connection of both with Freemasonry. In view of the triviality of our contemporary arts, ‘classical’ no less than ‘pop’, it is important to be reminded that Opera was once seen as transformative, educational entertainment in a similar sense to the magical drama of The Tempest. John Michell’s review of Joy Hancox’ Kingdom for a Stage introduces a recent fascinating study of the possible use of hermetic philosophy in theatre construction, specifically that of the original Globe Theatre. Readers who haven’t studied the work of Dame Frances Yates such as The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age and The Theatre of the World will find these an essential introduction to these pieces.

The editor’s selected book is The Shakespeare Code by Virginia Fellows. This introduces the most exciting, or bizarre, incident in the history of Baconianism. At the end of the nineteenth century, American authors Dr. Orville Owen and Elizabeth Wells Gallup published lengthy tomes, claiming to have uncovered cryptic material encoded in Bacon, Shakespeare and other Elizabethan writings telling Bacon’s secret history. The Shakespeare Code recounts this story in vivd and entertaining fashion. Controversial and fascinating, this book will appeal to believers and skeptics alike.

Future issues will be devoted to the history of cryptography, court life during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, literary forensics, and the current state of factual scholarship concerning William Shakespeare and the other actors in the Authorship drama. The editor is accepting submissions at present.

James North

Back to top

The Shakespeare Pesher

by Michael Buhagiar


Amongst the toilers in the Baconist vineyard there are many more or less accomplished scholars, but very few philosophers, and even fewer poets. Although not a Baconist, the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes was all three; and his book Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being (faber, 1992) was an epochal breakthrough, with its demonstration of the psycho-allegorical dimension of the tragedies, and the ground for a proper understanding of the First Folio as a whole.

Should the reader bear an antipathy toward depth psychology – and an adherence to Sir Francis Bacon is not necessarily a preventative against such a view – then he may find what is to come distasteful. For I will argue here that Sir Francis Bacon was the first to study the psyche in the way of Freud and Jung, and to apply his knowledge to a therapeutic end, namely the healing of Will Shakspere; and that the First Folio as allegory forms the hitherto presumed lost or abandoned Part Four of Instauratio Magna, in which he intended to apply his scientific method to the human mind.

Hughes showed the tragedies to be, beyond all doubt, allegories of a colossal nervous breakdown which befell Will Shakspere after he had been in thrall for some time to Puritanism. The chief culprit is the libido which, anathematised by the Puritan, returns to savage him and plunge him into psychic turmoil, in a typically Freudian way. The libido, or will-to-eros, is represented by the boar, which plays a central role in Venus and Adonis, and will charge many times throughout the plays, to plunge the hero into crisis; or the disease process will be studied elsewhere with clinical detachment, from the point of view of the theorist. Sometimes the boar is named implicitly, as in Troilus and Cressida in the name of Diomed, who is closely associated with the Calydonian boar in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde; at other times explicitly, as here, near the crisis of Richard the Third (III.ii):

Hastings: Come on, come on, where is your boar-spear man?Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?

This illustrates another point: that the ‘Speare’ in ‘Shakespeare’ refers to the spear of Athena, certainly, but specifically in the plays to her boar spear, the weapon provided by Bacon to his patient Shakspere to overcome his nemesis.

The tragic heroes then are all Puritan analogues. Hughes also isolates the Queen of Hell (Venus, Cordelia, Ophelia, and their kin), who represents the unseen world of nature, specifically here the unconscious, which is denied by the Puritan. Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece represent the two halves of the ‘tragic equation’, and illustrate Freud’s theory of repression: the first portraying the subject’s psychological wounding by knowledge of the libido, its sequel the libido’s resurgence, having been suppressed by the subject in his defensive assumption of Puritanism, to precipitate the breakdown.
I spent the year of 1995 absorbing Hughes’ work, and closely reading the tragedies. Looking for something new to read, I picked up a cheap edition of King John; and it seemed to me that the character of Phillip the Bastard was behaving as the boar, and that the same allegorical process as Hughes had described was at work. Fascinated, I then examined Richard the Third, and formed the same suspicion. This was the genesis of my book Ugly Dick and the Goddess of Complete Being: The Death and Resurrection of William Shakespeare, in which I extend Hughes’ approach to every play in the corpus, and find the First Folio to obey a strict pesher, in the way of Wolfram’s Parzival, one of Bacon’s key sources and inspirations; of the New Testament, as so memorably explicated by Barbara Thiering in her Jesus series; and of the rituals of the thirty-three degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (of Freemasonry)(footnote 1).

Cipher theories of course abound in Bacon studies. The categorical refutation of some of them by orthodox analysis has done enormous harm to the studies of real weight and value, and has made the Baconists’ task that much harder. Only one approach was possible for my work: to examine in detail every significant episode in every play of the corpus without exception, and to demonstrate the pesher to work, strictly and invariably, throughout all. I indeed find each and every character to be yoked to his pesher value at his every appearance without exception, and similarly every place and thing, both within the same play and between the different plays in which they may appear, to provide an utterly consistent and relevant story. I could have done little more: the pesher has been demonstrated.

The challenge for Bacon was to portray the aetiology, pathogenesis, crisis and his successful treatment of Shakspere’s psychiatric illness as allegory, on the stage. He presents his strategy in Richard’s great speech in Richard the Second (V.i):

Richard: I have been studying how I may compareThis prison where I live unto the world;And, for because the world is populous,And here is not a creature but myself,I cannot do it. Yet I’ll hammer it out.My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,My soul the father; and these two begetA generation of still-breeding thoughts;And these same thoughts people this little world,In humors like the people of this world…

Here, ‘little world’ refers on the literal plane to the prison cell, but on the allegorical to the microcosm, the inner world of Man.
Before giving an overview (necessarily superficial within the limits of this forum) of the pesher itself, and then looking in more detail at arguably the greatest of the tragedies, let us first answer the question of why it was necessary to go through the colossal labour of encrypting the argument as allegory. The villain of the first Folio is Puritanism, with its denial of the unseen world of nature, and to have denounced the ascendant Puritan world-view in explicit terms as vehemently and thoroughly as Bacon does, would have been to risk, in the prevailing political climate, the suppression and destruction of the plays, and quite possibly the exposure and execution of their author, who, from the very inception of his writing career, had gone to such immense pains to keep his identity secret. A general failing of the Stratfordian camp, and occasionally the Baconian, is a lack of real appreciation of the philosophical climate of the age. Bacon and his circle feared nothing less of Puritanism than the destruction of Western civilization, and he alluded to this implicitly in On the Interpretation of Nature:
Nor is my resolution diminished by foreseeing the state of these times, a sort of declination and ruin of the learning which is now in use… [And] from civil wars, which, on account of certain manners not long ago introduced, seem to me about to visit many countries, and the malignity of sects, and these compendiary artifices and cautions which have crept into the place of learning, no less a tempest seems to impend over letters and science.

Bacon himself had personal experience of the Puritanism-mental illness nexus in the person of his mother (or foster-mother) Lady Anne Bacon; and, further, he may have sensed something like this process at work behind the far less severe infirmity that struck his own mind from time to time.

Bacon identifies the suppression of the visual imagination as the defining pathogenetic trait of the Puritan. Certain Stratfordians interpret him as decrying the imagination as a source of error, but they confuse imagination and fancy, the former of which recreates the outer world in the inner, as the basis of dealing with nature and bending her to Man’s will; while the latter rather is the true potential problem, with its de novo creation of forms and relations. The reading and writing of the written word as acted upon by the reasoning imagination was in truth the principal plank of Bacon’s treatment of Will Shakspere, who had fled to London in 1587 after suffering his breakdown; and the imagination is represented in the plays by the many torches, flares, and Watches. This is the point, for example, of the entry of the Watch late in Act V of Romeo and Juliet, after Romeo’s death in the tomb, which represents the ‘charge of the boar’, the catalyst to Shakspere’s transformation through the magic of the written word.

Let us look briefly at a beautiful example of the pesher at work. The written word itself is betokened by the innumerable letters and parchments, and woods, groves, forests, and even single trees throughout the plays, the source most plausibly being the Druid grove, on the barks of which were nicked their sacred texts. (Antony and Cleopatra especially shows the author’s familiarity with the Druidic tree alphabets.) Thus, Ariel’s birth from the tree in The Tempest portrays the generation of Gnostic wisdom by the reasoning imagination out of the written word. Prospero is Bacon only in so far as one becomes like the god one worships; but he is principally Shakspere, now armed with the psychological weaponry, given him by Bacon, to ward off the boar. (I produce compelling evidence, based on an invariable nexus of style and allegorical content in the plays, to support the contention of Rev. Walter Begley in his Is It Shakespeare? (1903) that Shakespeare made a significant contribution to the writing of them, albeit in a low-grade way). The isle is Shakspere’s Gnostically-informed ego; the ship, the complex of his breakdown; Ariel’s bringing of it ashore, the action of wisdom in lifting the elements of the complex into the conscious ego where they can be dealt with. Amongst the ship’s passengers, Alonso, King of Naples, is the boar: for in the geographico-symbolic language of the plays, Milan (a northern city) is related to Naples (southern) as mind is to body, or idea to will, or virtue to the boar. Here, he is the blind will-to-eros hastening to wound the ego. We have met Sebastian before, in Twelfth Night, where he bears precisely the same allegoric value, of the ego tormented by knowledge of the libido, the reference being to the martyrdom of St. Sebastian, a common theme of Renaissance artists, who depicted him lashed to a crucifix and transfixed by arrows, the phallic symbolism of which is clear. Most fascinatingly, Francisco is Francis Bacon himself, now reduced to a bit part, for his job has been long since done. That this is so is confirmed by his little gem of a speech in the otherwise pedestrian II.i. There can be absolutely no doubt as to the authorship of the following:
Francisco I saw him beat the surges under him,And ride upon their backs: he trod the water,Whose enmity he flung aside, and breastedThe surge most swoln that met him: his bold head’Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar’dHimself with his good arms in lusty stroke To the shore, that o’er his wave-worn basis bow’d,As stooping to relieve him…

Just so did he add his signature – as a master will to the productions of his atelier – to the largely Marlovian Henry the Sixth I, a play otherwise totally lacking the famed high style, with Exeter’s marvelous cameo to close III.i. The histories in fact describe in chronological order Shakspere’s own case history, in a way familiar to us from the works of Freud and Jung, with the beheading of Hastings in Richard the Third (Richard is the boar, the ‘Ugly Dick’ of the title of my book) representing the moment of the breakdown. Mistress Shore in the same play is a Venus figure who, recreated in the imagination of the Puritan subject (a Tarquin analogue) will precipitate the coup. She is among the first of her kind, which will come to include Portia, Helen, Helena, Desdemona, Ophelia, Cordelia, and so on: all Queens of Hell, and also Grail queens, for the realm they guard is the source of the Holy Grail of the hero’s questing, which Bacon defines throughout as the wisdom to be gained from the action of the gnostically reasoning imagination upon the unseen world as described in the written word.

Henry the Eighth (1613) is a retrospective of Shakspere’s creative life in London, and is thus a companion piece to The Tempest (1611). Remarkably, the characters that reappear here after a lapse of a decade and a half (Henry the Fifth dates to 1598-9) are found to bear exactly the same pesher values as they do in the earlier histories. Thus Norfolk (‘north-folk’) is, like Milan, mind/idea/virtue, while Suffolk (‘south-folk’) is, like Naples, body/will/boar, and Buckingham is the unconscious. Hence the subject’s rebirth into Gnostic nobility in Richard the Third (death of Richard–>ascendancy of Richmond) is predicated on Buckingham’s execution; while Buckingham’s imprisonment in Henry the Eighth I.i, when ‘Those suns of glory, those two lights of men,/ Met in the vale of Andren’, bears precisely the same meaning: for Shakspere’s creativity and mental stability in his London phase has been predicated on the victory over the unconscious, as imparted to him by Bacon.

Let us look very briefly then at the historical cycle, in chronological order. Richard the Second records the defensive espousal, by the pubertal Will Shakspere, of the shield of the ascetic heresy against the shower of arrows from his newly-surgent libido, as cast in negative aspect by Roman Catholicism, the source of which was most plausibly the fervent faith of his mother. One of the great philosophic achievements of the First Folio is Bacon’s location of the source of the Puritan error in the Roman Catholic world-view. In this play, the moribund John of Gaunt represents the Roman Catholic aspect of the young Shakspere’s ego; while Richard is that ego under sway of the troublesome libido. In Henry the Fourth I & II, Bolingbroke is Shakspere in his new phase of bookish asceticism when, although erotically continent in the ascetic way, he fell into company with a rough crowd. Finally the libido became too much for him, and he succumbed, to plunge him again into crisis. The last defense mechanism available to him was the Puritan world-view, with its suppression of the imagination and of the libido; and HVI 1-3 and RIII (in which Richard is the boar) record the progress and collapse of that phase, which lasted for approximately eight years aet. 15-23. Every one of the remaining plays will deal in some way with this theme.

This necessarily superficial summary of course begs many questions. Let us now then examine in a little more detail King Lear, which I have always felt to be the most powerful and successful of the tragedies, in an attempt to illustrate more clearly the pesher at work.

King Lear is, like almost all the other tragedies, an allegory of psychic collapse and rebirth (the sole exception being Hamlet, in which there is no resurrection for the subject), the final reference being to Will Shakspere’s case history. Lear is another in the line of doomed Puritan heroes, of which Adonis was the first. Gloucester is, on the other hand, a representation of the Gnostic ideal, a kind of Solomon/Alexander/Gnostic Christ, and his blinding will further serve to identify him as a Teiresias type, a master of the inward vision, that faculty which, as we have seen, the Puritan suppresses to his ruin. Gloucester is, in this phase, an aspect of Lear – his true and noble self which is struggling to be reborn. Ted Hughes brilliantly analyses ‘Cordelia’ to the ‘heart of Lear’ (Cor-de-lia [Lear]). One thinks also of Portia’s identification with Antony’s heart in The Merchant of Venice; and both Portia and Cordelia are Queens of Hell-Grail Queens. Lear’s banishment of Cordelia portrays the Puritan’s denial of the unseen world, finally his own deepest self. Regan and Goneril represent the Puritan’s vision of nature, which is inadequate, as not predicated, as it must be, on the dimension which lies in beneath it. The ‘charge of the boar’ can be precisely located in Lear’s moment of madness when he discovers Goneril’s disloyalty to him. This corresponds, like all the other ‘charges of the boar’ throughout the plays, to the moment in 1587 when Shakspere succumbed, after some eight years enthrallment by Puritanism, to an act of auto-erotism upon reading, as seems likely (there is strong evidence for it), the vividly described seduction of Fotis by Lucius in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass.
Do I sense some raised eyebrows? A too fantastical scenario perhaps, product of the fevered imagination of the author? The centrality of eros to so many cases of psychosis is of course a commonplace of psychoanalytical theory – let the sceptic only read Freud, Jung, or R.D. Laing, for example; and to find it occupying centre stage in a work of Bacon’s should not surprise us in the least, so unflinching and startlingly modern an innovator was he. He surely would have endorsed Rev. Walter Begley’s spirited comment in Bacon’s Nova Resuscitatio (1905), that, ‘There seems no reason why this subject should not be discussed scientifically as well as other sexual subjects of a so-called “abnormal” nature.’ (III.141)
Ted Hughes interpreted Cordelia’s silence throughout much of King Lear in a positive way, as signifying her status as the eternal principle lying beneath all speech and forms. This was a misjudgment, however; for I show her silence, as well as that of Hero and Hippolyta, to signify that the unseen world is not speaking to the Puritan; or, more precisely, that she is screaming at him to listen, but he closed his ears to her. Hughes was also mistaken in supposing that there is in King Lear no redemption for the subject. On the contrary, his resurrection is figured in the final Act in the ascendancy of Edgar, son of Gloucester, as the Gnostic ideal reborn. Bacon employs the familiar ‘rival brothers’ theme (Jacob and Esau is the best known example) to intensify and elaborate the allegory; and the pesher value of Edmund, usurping brother of Edgar, is of the subject possessed by blind and physical knowledge of the libido, which torments him, as cast in negative aspect by Puritanism. He is, that is to say, the subject possessed by the boar.

The storm in The Tempest represents, as I have hinted at above, the ‘brainstorm’ of Gnostic reason by which the empowered subject (finally, London-phase Shakspere, now possessed of the boar spear) can arrest the boar in its charge. And so here, where Lear on the heath portrays the ego in the process of transformation. It is remarkable that Lear is accompanied by the Fool, for the Fool card of the Tarot Major Arcana, a Templar psycho-transformative innovation, betokens the first stage of the transformation of the initiate into Gnostic nobility. Freemasonry was born from the ashes of the Knights Templar, and the fact of Bacon’s Freemasonry is not in doubt.

Let us examine more closely the central sequence of events. Edgar’s appearance from the hollow of a tree late in Act Two depicts (likes Ariel’s birth from a tree: see above) the elicitation of Gnostic wisdom from the written word. This should mark the beginning of the ego’s rebirth; and, sure enough, Lear departs soon after for the heath. The name ‘Kent’ is one of the less spectacular examples of Bacon’s nomenclaturic technique, which often betrays his wide reading and mastery of many foreign languages, but it is valid nonetheless. As a near homophone of a colloquialism for the female pudenda, it represents the Goddess; and Kent’s volubility on the heath means that nature is now beginning to speak to the subject. Kent’s gift of a ring – yet another in the plays – to Cordelia reminds us that the First Folio is of the nature of a Grail saga, for the Ring and Grail traditions are essentially the same (footnote 2).
The hovel on the heath, as occupied by Lear, Kent, the fool, and Edgar in disguise (for the rebirth has not yet been effected) betokens the ego-in-transformation. Gloucester’s entry into it with a torch is wholly consistent with the pesher values of the torch as the visual imagination, and of Gloucester himself, although not yet blinded, as master of the inward vision. The location of the hovel near Gloucester’s castle, and his prospering of their journey to Dover, the scene of the typical death-and-rebirth episode to come, need no further comment.

Gloucester being guided to Dover by the Old Man portrays the Gnostic ideal following the spoor of the truths of nature: for the Old Man is a reference here, like all the other Adams and old men in the plays, to the ‘Knight of the Sun’ degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry, which features ‘Thrice Perfect Father Adam’, and whose purpose is the indoctrination of truth (footnote 3). That Dover itself represents the unseen world through which the subject will be reborn is confirmed by yet another instance of a peculiar allegorical technique of Bacon’s, of which I have detailed innumerable instances in the First Folio (and one must go to the Folio itself to find them). This is the substitution of ‘I’ for the expected ‘Ay’, as in the following (IV.i.73):
Gloucester: Dost thou know Dover?Edgar: I Master.
- Where ‘I’ is symbolic as always, like the blade, of the phallos, an expression of the unseen world in the seen. Bacon never fails to employ this technique with great precision and power. Gloucester’s ‘fall’ from the cliff, from which he of course emerges unscathed, is a vivid portrayal of the Gnostic ideal’s delving into the unseen world of nature. As the ego-in-healing (Edgar) follows him through the written word, he too makes this journey. Gloucester’s insistence that Edgar is ‘better spoken’ as they reach Dover indicates the word as descriptive of the unseen world of nature as the medium and expression of the subject’s nascent nobility.

An apparent objection to this interpretation of King Lear is Cordelia’s death by hanging. If she is the subject’s self renewed, and the ascendant Edgar represents himself reborn, then how is her death not a logical inconsistency? Let us see. The Captain bears here, as always, the value of the faculty of reason; and Edmund’s sending of him to hang Cordelia portrays the potential denial of the unseen world by the Puritan, in his fear of the boar. Lear’s dagger-wounding of the Captain signifies, however, that reason is now being informed by knowledge of the unseen world (the pesher value of the innumerable blades throughout the plays). Juliet’s blade-wounding means that the subject’s old world-view is similarly being transformed; and her death represents the death of the old, flawed world-view, only to be reborn: and so here. Edmund finally sends his sword to vouch for her reprieve, but too late. Had she lived, that is to say, she would have remained identified with the old unseen world as cast in negative aspect by the Puritan. The Captain’s promised high advancement would represent, in that case, the re-ascendancy of Puritanism (for Edmund at no stage orders the death of Lear). So that Bacon has found here a typically adroit solution to a potential technical problem. The Puritan tyranny is overthrown, just as it was in the life of Will Shakspere, never to return.

The dagger or sword or other blade bears then the value of the unseen world. Let us see how this knowledge can help solve perhaps the most famous conundrum in Shakespearean scholarship, namely Hamlet’s procrastination of the murder of King Claudius. Hamlet is, as I have shown, a clinical treatise, as art, of the disease which is now called paranoid schizophrenia, that most tragic and destructive of psychiatric illnesses; and it is the one tragedy in which there is no rebirth of the psyche. The name ‘Claudius’ means ‘the limper’(< Latin claudeo); and the reference here is to the mythic birth of Dionysius from the thigh of Zeus, which Bacon discusses at some length in The Wisdom of the Ancients (cf. also the thigh wound of Adonis). Dionysius represents here of course, as does his incarnation Falstaff, the libido; and Claudius is the subject, with his pathological superego, tormented by the will-to-eros. The location of the pain in the thigh is of course highly allegorically significant. Hamlet himself is that same subject – he and Claudius are two aspects of him – now hardening in his Puritanism, assumed as a defense against the libido. We have seen that the stabbing of Juliet represents her activation as the properly Gnostic conception of nature, as centred on the unseen world. Claudius moans as he kneels, ‘My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;/Words without thoughts, never to heaven go’. This is an expression of the Puritan’s suppression of the imagination, and therefore of a sense of beauty, to remove sensuality as a temptation. Hamlet does not stab him, for the subject can never again allow himself to be penetrated by knowledge of the blind libido; and his means of achieving this is by suppression of the imagination.

One further episode in Hamlet begs to be examined, namely Hamlet’s stabbing of Polonius through the arras. Polonius bears the value of the libido (yet another identification regrettably unsupportable in this forum). The arras betokens the psychological defense mechanism of repression; and this is, remarkably, the first isolation of this mechanism in Western literature, to anticipate Freud by three centuries. The self-concealments behind an arras of Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the Executioner in King John, are to be interpreted in the same way. (Bacon derived the name ‘Borachio’, for example, from the Spanish boracho, ‘drunk’, ‘inflamed by passion’, and drunkenness betokens always in the First Folio the state of possession by the libido.) The Puritan anathematises Woman (Hamlet damning Gertrude as a whore), and keeps his own libido firmly locked away in the unconscious (Polonius hiding behind the arras). The basic pathological mechanism described in the play is the continual breaking through, time and time again, of the libido into the Puritan’s conscious ego, to drive him clinically insane. And this is the event portrayed here, where the blade is the phallos resurgent against the subject’s will, to activate (cf. the stabbing of Juliet) the blind libido, and drive it into consciousness. The upstairs ‘lobby’ where Polonius’ body is stowed represents – a typical instance of Bacon’s refined topographical symbology – the conscious mind.

A brief final point with regard to the historical plays. I often take pains to identify Bacon’s variations from the sources – principally Plutarch or Holinshed – to show precisely how the changes were made to benefit the allegory. This is most thoroughly so in Julius Caesar, where I examine in detail each and every variation, which are shown thereby to be not at all indications of Shakespeare’s negligence (as argued especially by John Julius Norwich in his Shakespeare’s Kings), but of Bacon’s genius. I call them ‘scepticides’, because no sceptic could possibly withstand their collective withering blast. To take just one brief example: In Julius Caesar IV.ii, one Lucius Pella is charged with taking a bribe from the Sardians. Yet Plutarch in his Life of Marcus Brutus states explicitly that Lucius Pella was guilty of ‘robbery, and pilfery in his office’. Bacon has it as bribery though, as initiated by the other side, for the process being described here is the elicitation of the Goddess, and consequently the will-to-eros, by the reader from the written word.

This piece must finish here, at about 1.5 percent the length of the book; and it may have been for some of you, I fear, about the same percentage as convincing. Yet I hope it may have been stimulating and provocative nonetheless, and have given an inkling at least of the rigour and unimpeachable internal consistency of Ugly Dick and the Goddess of Complete Being. It was equally tremendous a privilege as a challenge to engage with a mind of the extreme sophistication of Bacon’s over the three-and-a-half years of its writing. The reader of my work can expect it also to be challenging; and yet, its argument will prove not really so hard to follow, once the elements of the pesher language be learnt. The Bacon-Shakspere story is a wonderful one, of a hero’s journey from debasement to glory, and surely worth the expense of time and effort – not crippling, after all – to come to grips with.

Footnotes1. Knight C. and Lomas R., The Second Messiah, Arrow Books, 1998.2. Laurence Gardner, Realm of the Ring Lords, Viking, 2000.3. Knight C. and Lomas R., ibid, 285-6.

Editor’s note: Pesher is a Hebrew word meaning, (approximately), interpretation or exegesis.

Back to top

Master of the Rose New Chapters

by Michael Taylor


A key element of the Master’s philosophy is expressed in Jung’s work The Seven Sermons to the Dead, produced in three days from an episode of automatic writing in 1916. The key is that this text was not produced solely by the Number 1 personality of Jung, but produced through Jung, and analysis of this text provides key insights into fundamental truths of creation.


In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (MDR) Jung put into words his inner life, a stark contrast to normal autobiographies that deal with people’s outer lives. But such was the importance Jung attached to understanding one’s own psyche, he devoted his entire life to understanding his own inner life. There are several passages in MDR, and other works, that deserve analysis. But first, to MDR itself. MDR is not a true autobiography – it is a compilation of writings by Aniela Jaffe and Jung himself. Some are critical even of this collaboration. Richard Noll wrote a book critical of Jung in 1997 entitled The Aryan Christ. Yet even he was in awe of MDR as a tale of the myth that was Jung’s life.

MDR, rightly or wrongly, has become one of the primary spiritual documents of the twentieth century. As the story of Jung’s spiritual rebirth, it has inspired awe and hope in its readers, re-enchanting their worlds. It is a powerful book, and I recall my bewildered reaction to it at age seventeen after the first of what was to become many readings.” [Emphasis added.]

Noll seems to take issue with the way MDR was written.

“The Jung portrayed in MDR is a clairvoyant sage, a miracle worker, a god-man who earns his apotheosis through his encounter with the Dead and with God. His is a morality tale of mystical evolution, as his life becomes the exemplum of his theories, the heroic saga of an “individuated” man who survived a terrifying encounter with extramundane beings (the archetypes) from a transcendent reality (the collective unconscious).”

Yet even this critic effectively summarized Jung’s key life event.


Jung identified a duality in all people, a duality of personality that is ever present, but which the individual is usually not conscious of. The Number 1 personality is you, the conscious ego, with memory of your actions this lifetime. The Number 1 personality is your face to the world.

The Number 2 Personality, in contrast, is the immortal inner Self – the soul if you will. The Number 2 Personality can make its appearance in dreams and waking fantasies, but most people spend their lives ignoring their inner Self, partly from their belief that it simply does not exist. The Christian will readily say that we all HAVE souls, but it is more accurate to state that we ARE Soul, the Being, whose quality is manifested in the Number 2 Personality.

In the context of Jung’s life, the Number 1 Personality is Carl Jung the psychologist. The Number 2 Personality is Jung’s immortal soul, his inner Self. Jung was driven by the Number 2, which I believe to be the Master of the Rose.


Jung empirically proved the existence of a personal unconscious in the psyche of individuals – whether they believe it or not. The aim of individuals is to make the contents of the personal and non-personal (collective) unconscious, conscious – in other words to bring light to the darkness in our unconscious, and in so doing integrate the conscious and unconscious contents in a process called Individuation. This is the basis of Jungian Psychology.

Our personal unconscious is the gateway to what Jung referred to as the Land of our Ancestors, of the land of the dead – the collective unconscious.

“The collective unconsciousness is the sediment of all the experience of the universe of all time, and is also the image of the universe that has been in process of formation from untold ages.” [Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology, ‘The Psychology
of Unconscious Processes,’ p. 432]

The collective unconscious contains the memories of everything that has ever been, and everything that has ever been thought, stretching back to the beginning of time. We are all connected to the collective unconscious, and we can all receive images and fantasies, which have their own life, from the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is the wellspring of all creativity. Jung puts it another way:

“The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.” [‘The Structure of the Psyche,’ Collected Works, Volume 8, par. 342.]

Jung is saying that we all carry within us a connection to the common spiritual heritage of mankind.

From 1909 Jung felt an inner urge to confront this infinite inner world and bring into consciousness its contents in a way meaningful for people of the modern age. This experiment Jung called the confrontation with the unconscious, and lasted from 1912 when Jung had his first visions, until the end of World War I. This “exploration” was actually epic in scope and nearly flung Jung into insanity. He used the historical parallel of Odysseus’ journey to the Sojourn of the Dead to describe the journey, for he was truly visiting the land of the past, a land which contains the memories of all time, for all time. The images and emotions that swamped him were initially unfathomable.

It is during this period Jung made his most insightful discoveries, as he wrote in MDR:

“All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost fifty years ago. Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images.” [MDR: p 217]


The most important archetype Jung encountered in his exploration of his unconscious was a symbol of Jung’s inner Self. It appeared to Jung in a dream, as an old man with the horns of a bull and the wings of a kingfisher. The old man held in his hands a bunch of 4 keys, one held ready to open a lock. Initially Jung did not understand the dream, so he began to paint it. As he was painting he spotted a Kingfisher dead on the lakeshore. He was amazed because Kingfishers are rare where Jung lived, and for 50 years thereafter he has never found another dead kingfisher. This is a classic example of inner meaning finding expression in the physical world, and was experienced by Jung many times throughout his life. Jung named the old man Philemon, and had many conversations with him. He stated that Philemon was his “spirit guide” who came to Jung to assist him on his spiritual evolution.

From a psychological perspective Jung was talking to a personality split from himself, and Jung was suffering from delusions. But Jung saw the experiences as utterly real and without any trace of mental illness. The experiences were so powerful they frequently threatened to overwhelm his sanity. Jung writes in MDR:

“Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru.” [MDR, p 183]

Jung claimed Philemon was an entity outside his conscious control, in other words outside the control of his Number 1 Personality. It had a life of its own, and spoke of things that Jung did not consciously know about. It is probable Philemon was another less advanced “Master” spirit sent to assist the Master R in the next stage of his spiritual evolution. Which “Master” he was, is entirely open to conjecture. After this period of Jung’s life, Jung came to regard Philemon as an archetype of the inner self – in this case, his inner self. This does not mean however, that Philemon was the Master R, merely an eternal symbol of all our inner selves.

Others have been down the path Jung took in the confrontation with the unconscious, but most were destroyed by the unfathomable images that welled up from the deep, or went insane. The ones who survived became the great prophets, seers and artists of our history. Nietzsche was one who went down the path, and eventually succumbed to insanity. Jung specifically wrote in MDR he did not want to go the same way as Nietzsche, and gave an idea of the immense difficulties he faced.

“I stood helpless before an alien world: everything in it seemed difficult and incomprehensible. I was living in a constant state of tension; often I felt as if gigantic blocks of stone were tumbling down upon me. One thunderstorm followed another. My enduring these storms was a question of brute strength. Others have been shattered by them – Nietzsche and Holderlin, and many others. But there was a demonic strength in me, and from the beginning there was no doubt in my mind that I must find the meaning of what I was experiencing in these fantasies…” [MDR, p 201.]

Nietzsche’s short poem Sils Maria touches on the inner duality we all possess, yet without which we would be mere physical shells.

“Here I sat, waiting – not for anything -
Beyond Good and Evil, fancying
Now light, now shadows, all a game,
All lake, all noon, all time without all aim.
Then, suddenly, friends, one turned into two -
And Zarathustra walked in view.”

Zarathustra was Nietzsche’s Philemon.

In 1916, during his confrontation with the unconscious, Jung was overtaken by the urge to put on paper what he was experiencing. Over a three day period Jung was overtaken by an episode of automatic writing and produced what was known as Septem Sermones ad Mortuos or The Seven Sermons to the Dead.

Jung attributed the text to the spirit of Basilides, who lived around 130 AD in Alexandria, Egypt and led a Gnostic Christian Sect. His followers were known as the Basilideans. Who exactly “wrote” the Seven Sermons is not clear. Jung clearly stated the text was dictated to him by Basilides, but the source is evidently Philemon. As Jung states in MDR (pp 214-215):

“Very gradually the outlines of an inner change began making their appearance within me. In 1916 I felt an urge to give shape to something.
I was compelled from within, as it were, to formulate and express what might have been said by Philemon.
This is how the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos with its peculiar language came into being.”

The text is remarkable because of its spiritual insight – some have described it as Jung’s most important writing. The Seven Sermons to the Dead has also been labelled “a core text in depth psychology” – in other words vitally important for the development of Jungian psychology.

From the Seven Sermons:
“Harken: I begin with nothingness. Nothingness is the same as fullness. In infinity full is no better than empty.
Nothingness is both empty and full. As well might ye say anything else of nothingness, as for instance, white is it, or black, or again, it is not, or it is. A thing that is infinite and eternal hath no qualities, since it hath all qualities.
This nothingness or fullness we name the Pleroma.”

The merging of the soul with the Pleroma seems to be the ultimate goal of Gnostic Christianity. In contrast, it is not the goal of Jungian psychology, or of the Master.
His goal was the attainment of individuation within the Oneness of God. It appears then, to be two paths a soul can follow: the merging with Oneness, or the attainment
of individuation within the Oneness of God.

Jung/Philemon continues:
“If we do not distinguish, we get beyond our own nature, away from creatura. We fall into indistinctiveness, which is the other quality of the pleroma.
We fall into the pleroma itself and cease to be creatures.

We are given over to dissolution in nothingness. This is the death of the creature. Therefore we die in such measure as we do not distinguish. Hence the natural
striving of the creature goeth towards distinctiveness, fighteth against primeval, perilous sameness.


This principle is the essence of the creature. From this you can see why indistinctiveness and non-distinction are a great danger for the creature.”

This excerpt is stating why Individuation is the same as the survival instinct on a spiritual level. The Master has described the path to the obliteration of the individual soul (the merging with the pleroma) – the word the Master used to describe it to me is simply – oblivion.

What does the Seven Sermons have to say about God?
“In the night the dead stood along the wall and cried:
We would have knowledge of god.
Where is god? Is god dead?
God is not dead.
Now, as ever, he liveth. God is creatura, for he is something definite, and therefore distinct from the pleroma.
God is quality of the pleroma, and everything I said of creatura also is true concerning him. He is distinguished, however, from created beings through this, that he is more indefinite and indeterminable than they. He is less distinct than created beings, since the ground of his being is effective fullness. Only in so far as he is definite and distinct is he creatura, and in like measure is he the manifestation of the effective fullness of the pleroma.”

So the Master is saying that God is NOT the pleroma, not an indefinable nothingness/fullness, but exhibits qualities of the pleroma nevertheless. God is however less definable than other spiritual Beings, and thus much closer to the pleroma than we are.

The Jung/Philemon writing complex continues with the definition of the devil:
“Everything that discrimination taketh out of the pleroma is a pair of opposites. To god, therefore, always belongeth the devil. This inseparability is as close and, as your own life hath made you see, as indissoluble as the pleroma itself. Thus it is that both stand very close to the pleroma, in which all opposites are extinguished and joined.”
You cannot have light without darkness, and vice versa. Modern masculine-based Christianity and its suppression of its dark feminine quality is the best example of hobbling a powerful truth by ignoring the essential qualities of the archetypal opposites. Suppress the dark side of Christianity, instead of embracing it, and evil flares into life in unexpected and horrifying ways in the conscious life of humanity. The integration of light and darkness (the conscious and unconscious) is an essential alchemical act for spiritual growth.

So what distinguishes God and the Devil from other Beings?
“God and devil are distinguished by the qualities of fullness and emptiness, generation and destruction. EFFECTIVENESS is common to both. Effectiveness joineth them. Effectiveness, therefore, standeth above both; is a god above god, since in its effect it uniteth fullness and emptiness.”
The God of light obviously symbolises generation (or creation), while the Devil symbolises destruction. Effectiveness can also be defined as Cause over the Universe, the ability to create effects on elements of the Universe. All Beings have, to varying degrees, Cause over their environment. It makes sense that God and the Devil are Beings who have taken the act of Effectiveness to a level far beyond other Beings. And being ultimately Effective over the Universe is “a god above god”, and evidently the ultimate reward for reaching the highest level of Individuation.

The Seven Sermons define not just the Earthly conception of God, but a God above the Christian God. Jung/Philemon names these Gods, and relates their qualities.

“This is a god whom ye knew not, for mankind forgot it. We name it by its name ABRAXAS. It is more indefinite still than god and devil. That god may be distinguished from it, we name god HELIOS or sun. Abraxas is effect. Nothing standeth opposed to it but the ineffective; hence its effective nature freely unfoldeth itself.

The ineffective is not, therefore resisteth not. Abraxas standeth above the sun and above the devil. It is improbable probability, unreal reality. Had the pleroma a being, Abraxas would be its manifestation. It is the effective itself, nor any particular effect, but effect in general.” [Emphasis added]

So Abraxas stands above the Christian God of the highest good, Helios. And while the quality of our known God Helios is the finest good, the quality of Abraxas is EFFECT, the creation of Effect in the Universe. This reinforces the view that ultimate effectiveness is the ultimate goal. And that ultimate effectiveness, or cause over the Universe, is above, or senior to considerations of light and darkness, or good and evil. For good and evil are tools to reach the attainment of ultimate effectiveness, or Cause over the universe.

No wonder Jung/Philemon wrote in the Seven Sermons: “The dead now raised a great tumult, for they were Christians.” It is almost impossible for the Christian world to posit a God above the Christian God of light and good, one with a completely different quality to it.

What sprang from Abraxas? ALL LIFE.

“Like mists arising from a marsh, the dead came near and cried: Speak further unto us concerning the supreme god.

Hard to know is the deity of Abraxas. Its power is the greatest, because man perceiveth it not. From the sun he draweth the summum bonum; from the devil the infimum malum: but from Abraxas LIFE, altogether indefinite, the mother of good and evil.”

So Abraxas is the cradle of all Beings, and the mother of God and the Devil.

The Jung/Philemon complex further posited this indefinable Being:

“What the god-sun speaketh is life.
What the devil speaketh is death.
But Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time.
Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act.
Wherefore is Abraxas terrible.
It is splendid as the lion in the instant he striketh down his victim.
It is beautiful as a day in spring.
It is the great Pan himself and also the small one.
It is Priapos.”

“It is holy begetting.
It is love and love`s murder.
It is the saint and his betrayer.
It is the brightest light of day and the darkest night of madness.
To look upon it, is blindness.
To know it, is sickness.
To worship it, is death.
To fear it, is wisdom.
To resist it not, is redemption.”

It is truly staggering to suggest that beyond the Master – and beyond even his power at the time, lies a trinity where the Sun-God of Goodness, and the God of Darkness (the Devil) have a power above their own – Abraxas, one that has been forgotten by mankind.

The Gnostic Basilideans in the 2nd Century AD worshipped Abraxas as the Supreme Being. They believed Jesus emanated from, and was an emissary of Abraxas. If this is true, The Master may also be an emissary of Abraxas. The name contains mysteries because the numerical sum of the numbers in the Greek alphabet is 365, the number of days in the year. It was believed Abraxas commanded 365 gods, each possessing a virtue – a virtue for each day of the year.

Some mythologists identify Abraxas among the Egyptian gods, while Christians identify – and naturally vilify – him as a demon. The mystical word abracadabra is derived from his name. He is depicted with a lion’s head surrounded by rays during Gnostic ceremonies. Images of Abraxas were used as recently as the 13th Century by the Knights Templar, before the Church relegated Abraxas to the lowly position of a demon.


Jung identifies a three stage development in the human perception of God. The first stage is where God appears as one Supreme Being. The second stage is the perception of a benevolent sun-God (also known as Apollo, which Francis Bacon was known as in his lifetime) and the Devil. They are separated to the point where the Devil is finally banished by God. The final stage is the integration of the Sun-God and the Devil, and coming to consciousness of the purveyor of the highest God Abraxas and its quality – ultimate effectiveness.

The Seven Sermons, as quoted above, state that Abraxas is also known by another name – Pan. The word Pan means “All or “Universal”, a name aptly suited to the Creator of all. The centre of Pan’s worship is traditionally the land of Arcadia – where path to perfection takes place. The brotherhood of souls who, knowingly or unknowingly put into operation the plan for the uplifting of human consciousness, used to be known as the Brotherhood of Pan. Bacon pointed this out in his own writings. From Bacon’s time this brotherhood has been known as the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross, or Rosicrucians.

That Francis Bacon knew the ultimate quality of Abraxas/Pan is demonstrated in Novum Organum:
“Human knowledge and power coincide, because ignorance of the cause hinders the production of the effect. For Nature is not conquered save by obedience : and what in contemplation stands as a cause, the same in operation stands as a rule.” [Novum Organum, I. Aph. 3]

In other words, understanding of the causes of effects, brings one closer to ultimate understanding – symbolized by Abraxas. It is Abraxas who CAUSED the creation of the universe and all its qualities and principles (the first, greatest effect, an act of ultimate effectiveness). Understanding of ALL the causes of all effects of everything that has ever happened, is the ultimate goal of proper science, science that includes all realms both spiritual and temporal. This is also the goal of the Master in all his incarnations, including that of Francis Bacon.


Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious also demonstrated other points. First, before the confrontation with the unconscious Jung only had glimpses of the insights of his Number 2 Personality, the immortal Master of the Rose. These glimpses were in the form of dreams and waking fantasies, although they were numerous in number. After the period of the confrontation with the unconscious, Jung had the benefit of greater communication and integration with his inner Number 2, and continued this inner dialogue throughout the rest of his life.

The second point is that if Jung’s experiences are a guide for the rest of us, they are also a guide for how the Master communicated with the ego-consciousnesses of his past incarnations – St Germain, Francis Bacon and others. We are aware that Bacon claimed he was divinely inspired at a young age to lay out his Great Instauration of all Arts and Sciences. One could easily imagine his visitations from beyond being similar to Philemon’s appearances to Jung. And if there is disparity between Jung’s apparent “lack” of insight before 1912 compared to his period of greatest output and insight (1918-1961), it is only because the communication between the Master and the ego-consciousness of Jung did not start in earnest for Jung until he reached middle age – it was in fact Jung’s mid-life crisis.

The final point is about the nature of the communication between the Master and the Number 1 Personalities of Jung and Bacon. Bacon was compelled by his own Being and possibly other Masters to expand in the intellectual realm, and the result was the plan for the organization of all Arts and Sciences. These activities were real, quantifiable acts required in the physical and intellectual spheres. In the same way, Columbus claimed God showed him the way to the New World, a physical challenge. The blueprints laid down by Columbus, Bacon and other early incarnations of the Master were necessary foundation-stones for pulling western civilisation into the Golden Age. But Jung’s experiences were different. No instructions were laid down to Jung for a blueprint of expansion in the physical or intellectual realms. Instead, Philemon seemed to instruct Jung on the truth and dynamics of the spiritual realm and the hidden realm of the unconscious, and Jung attempted to put into words this essential nature, most notably in the Seven Sermons to the Dead.

Although the essence of Jung’s experiences is unknown to us, I would like to suggest the spiritual aims of the Master. Simply put, the goal of the Master, as well as all Beings, is the attainment of perfection and the restoration of all that we have lost over the eons in terms of awareness of our true nature and causality over the universe. Not even the Master had achieved the ability to be at ultimate Cause over the universe in the 1913-1918 period – otherwise there would have been no need for Philemon’s intervention.

But this goal is not the attainment of Oneness with God, or the Pleroma in Gnostic teachings, for this extinguishes the individual soul. It is the ultimate perfection of the individual soul that is the goal. Jung stated that his goal was individuation, the attainment of individuality within the One. The reward is the attainment of the ability of ultimate effectiveness, or Cause over the Universe. For it is not enough to attain the highest Good. The highest point – the quality embodied by Abraxas of ultimate effectiveness – must be sought. I believe this was the spiritual goal of the Master, and we are compelled to accept that this is our spiritual destiny as well.

“[mandalas] … are all based on the squaring of a circle. Their basic motif is the premonition of a centre of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy. The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances.

This centre is not felt or thought of as the ego but, if one may so express it, as the self. Although the centre is represented by an innermost point, it is surrounded by a periphery containing everything that belongs to the self — the paired opposites that make up the total personality. This totality comprises consciousness first of all, then the personal unconscious, and finally an indefinitely large segment of the collective unconscious whose archetypes are common to all mankind.”

C. G. Jung, Concerning Mandala Symbolism, p73.

Left: A Mandala painted by Jung and produced in The Red Book. He called this painting “Window on Eternity”. From Word and Image, p91.

“If the human soul is anything, it must be of unimaginable complexity and diversity, so that it cannot possibly be approached through a mere psychology of instinct.

I can only gaze in wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature.

Its non-spatial universe conceals an untold abundance of images which have accumulated over millions of years of living development and become fixed in the organism…

Besides this picture I would like to place the spectacle of the starry heavens at night, for the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without; and just as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.”

C.G. Jung, Freud and Psychoanalysis, (Collected Works,
pp. 331)

“….the unconscious has no time. There is no trouble about time in the unconscious. Part of our psyche is not in time and not in space. They are only an illusion, time and space, and so in a certain part of our psyche time does not exist at all.”

C G Jung, Collected Works, vol 18, para. 68.



Penetrating the erudite teachings of the Master, separated by centuries and sometimes obscure language, is a difficult task, but I believe the essence of his message can be discerned. The core of the Master’s message tells us who we are as spiritual Beings, and our place in Creation. It is a message that is somewhat at odds with many “New Age” principles, but I believe the Master’s message is closer to the ageless Truth of our origin as any that has been conceived. In the Keys below, the term Being is defined as the real You, the Self, the core of your awareness; not your body, and not your mind.

Key 1: The Law of Cause and Effect operates at all times, even in the realm of the spirit, or quintessence. Because the creation of the universe was an effect, that effect had to have a cause. If we cannot deduce a cause, that does not mean it does not exist, it just means we do not currently have the ability to deduce it.

Key 2: The only objects in all Creation that can Cause or create effects in the universe, are the creators of effects, ie: you the Being. The Creation (the universe) cannot create, it can only operate according to its innate laws. Therefore, a Being had to be the Creator of the universe.

Key 3: The Being had the original quality of being able to cause effects. The universe had the original quality of being the effect. The law of cause and effect now operates in the universe without our intervention, but the original cause was us.

Key 4: The creation of Effects, or effectiveness, is the defining
quality of the first Being, known as Abraxas. The first Being is
so named because it created the universe, and existed before
that moment of creation.

Jung/Philemon clearly stated this in the Seven Sermons to the Dead.

Key 5: Because every Effect has a Cause, our own creation as Beings had to have a Cause.

Key 6: The Bible states man was created in the Image of God. We were created as images – as duplicates – of the first Being, Abraxas.

Key 7: Because we are duplicates of the Creator (Abraxas), we have the same potential power to create as the Creator of the universe.

Key 8: Therefore, we are the creators, we are NOT the creation, or part of the creation. Being duplicates, we have all the qualities of the creator, and therefore do not have the
qualities of the creation (the universe). We are separate from the creation.

Key 9: Because we as Beings are not part of this universe, we
are not composed of matter, we are not composed of energy,
occupy no space and exist outside of time.

While we are not composed of the stuff of the universe, we still exist – but our true nature remains a mystery. We Beings are immortal and indestructible. We Beings are IN this Universe, but we are not OF this universe. However we Beings are able to postulate and perceive the universe. Jung clearly concluded that the core of our nature – the Self, exists outside of time and space.

Key 10: We as Beings have the same potential as Abraxas
- the potential to create effects in the universe. Therefore we
have the potential to create any effect in the universe that we

Key 11: Because we have the potential to be CAUSE over the universe, (to be able to create Effects), we are senior to the universe. The universe is junior to us.

We are the source, we are the wellspring of all the positive and negative Effects in the universe, and in our own lives. There is no such thing as fate, or destiny. We make our own future, be it consciously or unconsciously. We are the Masters of our own destiny, whether we are aware of it or not. We are not helpless humans who are the Effect of God’s will, or the Effect of random events forced upon us by Nature. We are the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the Cause and the Creation of all. We are the reason for the existence of the universe. The universe was created for us, not the other way around.

This is what Francis Bacon expounded in his writings – that greater understanding of the physical universe – the nature of Causes – was key to harnessing the fruits of the universe. The universe is here for our utility. But Bacon never advocated the exploitation of the universe, rather a respectful tending to, and harvesting of its fruits, or products for the benefit of all.

Key 12: The first Being, Abraxas – the Creator, is primarily an observer. The Creator has a medium for recording all that has ever happened – the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious records everything that has ever been thought, felt or done.

The collective unconscious is also known in some philosophies as the Akashic Records.

Key 13: After we were created we fell from Grace, because we did not understand the effects of our actions. We were created with all the potential to create (and destroy) as the Creator.

We were powerful but exercised our power without responsibility, or awareness of the effects of exercising our power. As a result, we have lost most of our power and awareness. Our primary task is to recover our former power and awareness, for the betterment of both ourselves and all other Beings.

Key 14: We record everything we have ever postulated, thought, felt or done. These memories are stored in our personal unconscious.

Our personal unconscious includes the record of the moment of our Creation, and all events during our countless embodiments, and all events between embodiments. Given where we are currently at in terms of misunderstandings about our true nature and the past, we have to raise ourselves up and start making our past conscious, so we can confront and understand it.

Key 15: The key to attaining greater understanding of our Selves, and our place in existence, is to make the contents of one’s personal unconscious and collective unconscious known, or conscious. When these past images start to be made conscious, they can be confronted, and understood, enabling the Being to reach towards ultimate understanding of one’s Self, the past, and our creation.

This is also the primary goal of Jungian psychology. Jung called this process individuation. Because the personal and collective unconscious is the recording of everything that has ever eventuated, both for one’s Self and for all Beings, the answer to all questions can be found there, the key to understanding is to be found there.

Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious was his own personal journey into his past, and the collective past of us all. He confonted and attempted to understand the personal and collective unconscious, in all its alien wonder. Such a process is difficult, but this is part of our purpose and we must start this process in order to regain ultimate awareness and understanding. The key is that there is hope, a path through all the confusion and betrayals and misunderstandings of the past, a path lit by the Master in his various guises.

The answers to all questions do not lie in the light – they lie in the unfathomable darkness of the unconscious – the Mind of God. One must turn the light on the darkness, and in so doing obliterate the darkness forever.

“The end of our foundation is the
knowledge of causes, and secret
motions of things; and the enlarging
of the bounds of human empire, to the
effecting of all things possible.”

Francis Bacon – The New Atlantis.

[Editor's note: Adherents of Theosophy and of Alice Bailey believe that one of the great guides of humanity is known as the Master R. According to this belief, the Master R. has reincarnated as a number of historically-famous individuals including Francis Bacon and the Comte de Saint-Germain].

Back to top

Francis Bacon’s Special Use of Drama

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was a time when men wrote Chronicles and Histories. Two names come to mind in this connection – Raleigh with his History of the World and Francis Bacon with no fewer than four. These he called History of Henry VII, A Natural History, A History of the Winds and A History of Life and Death. In the latter he discussed the workings of the human body in life and health and in sickness and death, noting the sequence of various processes.

I suggest that he wrote yet another History through the medium of plays by using the pseudonym of Shake-speare, and that these famous plays, although not often thought of as such, are really a history of the Microcosm or evolution of Man’s nature, mind and soul. Each play emphasises a different aspect of this History: nevertheless, we are shown the inner workings of humanity’s thoughts and feelings. Through the course of the play, in the guise of various characters, we are shown how they can be changed, developed and cultivated, and the effects of this metamorphosis. Certain Cosmic laws and principles which affect man’s destiny and evolution are also woven into the fabric of each play.

Nowadays people go to the theatre for the sole purpose of being entertained, but in previous centuries this was not always the case. The ancient concept of the use of drama was that it should ‘instruct the minds of men unto virtue’ in order to develop the mind and raise the level of consciousness, rather than merely gratify the lower senses. They maintained that knowledge of cosmic principles and divine laws would help to combat humanity’s prejudices, ignorant superstitions, sin, the weakness of man, and lift him gradually from the lower level of a brute towards the attainment of an angelic nature. Francis Bacon, writing in the 17th century, observed that in his day stage plays were mostly used as a pastime, but that the ancient philosophers regarded drama as an opportunity to teach and uplift people.

Drammaticall or Representative Poesy which brings the world upon the stage, is of excellent use if it were not abused. For the instructions and Corruptions of the stage may be great; but the corruptions in this kind abound, the Discipline is altogether neglected in our times. For although in modern Commonwealths, Stage-plaies be but estimed a sport or pastime….. the care of the Ancients was that it should instruct the minds of men unto virtue. Nay, wise men and great Philosophers have accounted it as the Archet or musical bow of the mind.

The Advancement and Proficience of Learning Bk II Ch 13
Bacon also maintained that before improvement could be affected in any person, situation, or policy, the individual components within that whole must be carefully analysed before it could be altered for the better. Therefore if a man wanted to change certain characteristics within his nature which were troublesome, he would need to know which of his emotions, habitual thoughts or prejudices it was necessary to alter in order to bring about the required improvement. Drama could be used as a useful and yet enjoyable means of helping people to analyse the different types of nature and the various characteristics – good and bad – which exist in mankind at large. I think it is just this type of analysis which has been carefully woven into the Shakespeare plays.

Probably the most outstanding feature of these dramas is the way in which soliloquies form such an integral part of their structure. What is the main function of these soliloquies? Surely to enable the audience to see at work the entire process of the minds of the principal characters from the beginning to the end. In addition, woven into the fabric of these comedies, tragedies, histories, we have painted forth ‘with great life and dissected, how affections are kindled and excited, and how pacified and restrained.’ Bacon writes:
Let a full and careful treatise be constructed. Not, however, that I would have their characters presented in ethics (as we find them in history, or poetry, or even in common discourse) in the shape of complete individual portraits, but rather the several features and simple lineaments of which they are composed, and by the various combinations and arrangements of which all characters whatever are made up, showing how many, and of what nature these are, and how connected and subordinated one to another; that so we may have a scientific and accurate dissection of minds and characters, and the secret dispositions of particular men may be revealed; and that from a knowledge thereof better rules may be framed for the treatment of the mind. And not only should the characters of dispositions of which are impressed by nature be received into this treatise, but those also which are imposed upon the mind by sex, by age, by region, by health and sickness, by beauty and deformity, and the like; and again, those which are caused by fortune, as sovereignty, nobility, obscure birth, riches, want, magistracy, privateness, prosperity, adversity and the like…….
But to speak the truth the poets and writers of history are the best doctors of this knowledge, where we may find painted forth with great life and dissected, how affections are kindled and excited, and how pacified and restrained, and how again contained from act and further degree; and how they disclose themselves, though repressed and concealed; how they work; how they vary; how they are enwrapped one within another; and how they fight and encounter one with another; and many more particulars of this kind; amongst which this last is of special use in moral and civil matters…………De Augmentis Ch 3 Bk VII

Being a lawyer and a philosopher it was a habit of Francis Bacon to observe and consider a man’s character, noting the varying qualities inherent in the personality, or to analyse the various circumstances of life, pinpointing the deficiencies as well as the good points. Nevertheless being at heart a philanthropist with a desire to help mankind at large and not just his friends or colleagues, he always strove to ameliorate social wrongs or prejudices by supplying that which he considered to be deficient. Therefore if he said, ‘Let a full and careful treatise be constructed’, we know full well that he would have made the effort to produce such a treatise. He did it is true, write at large on the cultivation of the mind which he regarded as an important requisite towards the evolution of each soul, but he specified that it should be ‘shown forth’ visibly and actually. ‘I do not speak of these precepts and rules by way of illustration…..but I mean actual types and models…..should be set before the eyes’. He must, without a shadow of doubt, have been talking about plays or masques, for there was no other way in his day in which such a treatise could have been made into a visible representation and this treatise being so large in scope could not have been accomplished in one or two masques, but needed a series of plays incorporating comedy, tragedy and history, and in the ‘Shakespeare’ plays we have this vast scheme realised.

On reflection we can see that in these passages Bacon must have been following a characteristic policy of concealing and revealing his ideas and intentions concurrently. The first passage is a most comprehensive analysis, and in this sense he was revealing much. Yet, on the other hand, he must also have been concealing quite a lot but at the same time giving us a broad hint writing in open argument as Francis Bacon, he states that in his opinion such a treatise should be constructed, and yet he must have known that many years earlier than the publication of the De Augmentis Scientiarum he had in fact supplied the deficiency which he noted, not only by constructing the treatise but by seeing to it that it could be ‘set before the eyes’ which he advocated. This he accomplished by using the pseudonym of Shake-speare. It could be said that he, himself, was acting as a dissimulator, which he wrote about in his well-known essay ‘Of Simulation and Dissimulation’. ‘There be three degrees of this hiding or veiling of a man’s self,’ he tells us. The first is ‘Secrecy’, the second ‘Dissimulation in the Negative’ and the third ‘Simulation in the Affirmative’. He is fully aware that there are times when he must resort to this practice of secrecy for the sake of self-protection and of safeguarding a difficult project. As he said in his essay: ‘He that would be secret must be a dissembler in some degree.’

In the passage from his De Augmentis concerning the treatise, by pretending that it had not yet been written he was dissembling to his contemporaries. By so doing he must have felt fairly confident that the majority of people would not guess that the project he was describing so carefully had already been set in motion. Calling it a treatise and writing of it in a philosophical book would be likely to provide a sufficient smokescreen. And this it did do both in his day and in later centuries. Nevertheless, the more cleverly he hid the secret, the more difficult would it be to ensure that men in later generations would get the full impact of his message. This, surely, must have been one of his dilemmas he could do no more than rely on our willingness to play the game of hide-and-seek with him; he had done the hiding, we must do the seeking.

Not only does this quotation lead us to realise that in the ‘Shakespeare’ Plays we really do have this treatise ‘set forth before the eyes’, but it also indicates his intention of supplying a History of the Microcosm, and of showing us the possible metamorphosis to higher levels of expression of the mind and emotions of humanity. I suggest this was part of the motive and plan for writing the plays, and from the descriptive analysis of the ‘various combinations and arrangements’ of which human nature is composed, discussed in the Bacon quotation, we are intended to recognise the educative function of this scheme at one level, although, at another level, it is purely for pleasure and entertainment.

Francis made another very penetrating observation which has a close bearing on our present theme when he wrote in his book The Proficience and Advancement of Learning:

…….learning ministreth in every one of them greater strength of medicine or remedy than it offereth cause of indisposition or infirmity……. And these medicines it conveyeth into men’s minds much more forcibly by the quickness and penetration of examples.’

It is clear to see that here, too, he is intimating that a particular kind of learning can be analogous to medicine. He also tells us that ‘the poets and writers of history are the best doctors of this knowledge.’ In a speech in As You Like It Jacques mentions the medicine which he could offer to mankind. He also recognises the infection and disease from which the world is suffering.
Invest me in my motley, give me leave to speak my mind, and I will through and through cleanse the foul body of the infected world if they will patiently receive my medicine.

By showing men a visible representation of the various foibles, prejudices, emotional and mental weaknesses which are present within human nature, each one having a collection of faults and virtues which are individual to that person alone, each member of the audience can become aware of their existence in a general way first. Then he can follow on, if he has the will and inclination so to do, to decide which errors and virtues lie buried within his own nature, and set about making the effort to maintain the virtues, nourishing them like rare and beautiful plants, and trying to change the weaknesses. When, ultimately, everyone has been able to get changes in his personality which will bring harmony our of discord in his inner world of feelings and thoughts, he will have administered his own medicine.

The precept ‘Life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together’ applies to man’s nature as well as to the circumstances of his life, and if he can constantly aspire to overcome the difficulties with patience, fortitude and forgiveness, he will gradually transform the shadows into light, ignorance into knowledge, by increasing the ratio of light, goodness, truth and wisdom until ultimately they become the dominant aspects in his nature. At that point he will have become wiser and happier because he will have come through the ‘woods of experience’, as Francis Bacon puts it, and reached ‘the open ground of axioms’. In other words, he will have arrived at the stage when he can draw helpful conclusions from his experiences and tests, within himself as well as in his life.

This concept of knowledge of an educative, cultural, moral and spiritual nature serving as medicine which could raise men to a better state of consciousness, leading them to wider and higher vistas of thought and understanding, was the new philosophy which attracted men like Francis and Anthony Bacon, Heinrich Julius, Duke of Brunswick, and others. It is obvious that the author of the Shakespeare plays held the same view concerning the new medicine, but realising that many people might resent such a motive, the suggestion of moral and educative intentions seeming distasteful to them, he knew that the best way of getting men to swallow the medicine was by first sugaring the pill to make it more palatable. The poetry, wit, humour and beauty introduced into the plays achieves this end, does it not!

Thus we realise that these dramas fulfil two functions simultaneously – that of entertainment and that of instruction. For those who seek no more, these can remain at the level of pleasure and entertainment and fulfil all requirements sought, men’s eyes, ears and senses being fully satisfied. But for those wishing to delve into the sacred arts and sciences they will also find that for which they seek, for these deeper levels of thought are also present, and they may be perceived in performance and even more through careful study of the Folio itself. Its author, Francis Bacon, was indeed a man with great vision and depth of understanding covering a wide variety of subjects, including the Christian Mystery Teachings although these are not often detected by the majority of readers.

With the religious intolerance which still prevailed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it was highly dangerous for any author to air his religions views unless they were strictly in accord with the orthodox views of the Church. Any aspects of spiritual truths which were embraced by the ancient mystery Schools, if they were openly discussed, would promptly be termed heretical and the author would be most severely punished – even killed. Therefore any writer with such beliefs would be forced to conceal them by employing one of the various modes of concealment used at that time thus, he could either write his text ambiguously, using the veil of enigma, or he could use a cipher system – a method of obscuration much in use in Tudor and Jacobean days: or he could choose the specialised art of symbolism. This could be expressed in the text either in the form of a parable, allegory or fable, or it could appear in certain passages where special key words would serve as ideographs. Symbolism was also much employed in the figurative title-pages, headlines and tail-pieces. Here, it could act as a silent language to the trained eye and mind of the initiated. To the uninitiated, general reader, however, the symbolism would not be recognised and the emblems would seem to be mere decorations of no special significance.
Much insight into ‘Shakespeare’s’ characters can be gleaned from reading Bacon’s Moral Essays. That he was thinking of the stage we can see in the opening statement of his essay Of Love, and it is a good example of a cross reference.

The stage is more beholding to love that the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies; but in life it doth much mischief – sometimes like a siren, sometimes like a fury…… It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature and value of things; by this that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love ……They do best whom, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter, and sever it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life………Essays of Love

Reflecting on the ‘Shakespeare’ plays we can recognise that the passion of love its varying degrees, and the way it affects different people in different ways, commented upon in the Bacon essay, are shown forth in visible representation in the plays of Shakespeare; mostly in the comedies but also in two of the tragedies, as Bacon himself points out. Hotspur, Brutus, Julius Caesar and Coriolanus keep down this passion, and “sever it wholly from their serious affairs”. Troilus and Romeo, the King of Navarre and his courtiers, exhibit the hyperbole of love. Valentine and Proteus admit that the weak passion has befooled them. The siren power of love is demonstrated by Cleopatra, while Othello and Hamlet show its fury when it is “transported to the mad degree”.

People of today might think it rather strange of Bacon to have chosen the subject of simulation and dissimulation on which to write an essay, but remembering the dangerous times in which he lived, some of the unorthodox views which he held, and that dramatists were held in contempt, it is not surprising to find that he was acquainted with the need for and the various modes of secrecy. Furthermore, the fact that there are innumerable parallels between his essay and the tragedy of Hamlet again suggests the use of cross references. Edwin Bormann in his book, ‘Francis Bacon’s Cryptic Rhymes’ discusses this point well:

“Viewed from the manner in which each person in ‘Hamlet’ behaves towards the other, that play might straightway be called the tragedy of ‘closeness, dissimulation and simulation’. With the exception of Laertes and Ophelia they each have some secret to keep, i.e., the first act is simply one succession of admonitions from the prince to his friends how each is to behave if the secret is to be guarded. King Claudius (the close, the reserved one), is a dissimulator, he dissembles in a negative sense, he has committed fratricide, which crime he conceals by his words and whole demeanour. Prince Hamlet himself is the greatest simulator the stage has ever witnessed, he pretends to be what he is not, mad. He practises the art of dissembling in a positive sense. Ophelia is the chaste one, reserved in all she does and says. Thus we see the three grades of ‘Hiding’ and their extreme opposites in ‘Hamlet’ and in the Essay.

Bacon goes on to discuss three advantages afforded by simulation and dissimulation, and three disadvantages. All these three advantages, and these three disadvantages are represented in ‘Hamlet’ in the same order of succession as in the Essay.”
That Bacon was well acquainted with Roman history is apparent in the relationship of the Royal Family shown in the play of Hamlet and referred to in the Essay. The essay names the Roman Emperor, Augustus, and his step-son, Tiberius, and points out that although the one was a dissimulator and the other a simulator the wife of the Emperor and mother of Tiberius did not object to the cunning practised by her husband and son. The same occurs in Hamlet. We note that King Claudius and his step-son, Hamlet, practise dissimulation and simulation respectively, and Queen Gertrude, the wife of the one and mother of the other, loves them both. Similarly in Hamlet, King Claudius had murdered her first husband in order to marry her, just as the Emperor Augustus had done to his wife’s first husband. Finally, two of the names coincide for Tiberius’ full name was Tiberius Claudius. Thus a Claudius family is named in the Shakespeare play and in Bacon’s essay though in a remarkably subtle way, and each of the three people is related to each other in exactly the same manner.

Peter Dawkins, in his book Building Paradise reminds us that Richard III was written in 1591 and first performed in 1592. he then adds some valuable remarks and insights. He says:

“One of Francis’ main endeavours in his work was not only to study human nature and raise the level of people’s consciousness, but to improve people’s moral behaviour and purge corruption in high places. His ideal was to discover truth and practise philanthropy; and like the Ancients, to teach wisdom through entertainment. One of the main points about the Shakespeare plays is that they hold a mirror up to human nature, so that both good and bad might be seen for what they are and what they do. Each character in the play embodies qualities and characteristics drawn from real life. …it was Essex’s character that was used as the model for the fiery, gallant Hotspur in Henry IV about which Essex complained to the Queen, saying that Francis and Anthony Bacon ‘print me and make me speak to the world, and shortly they will play me in whatever form they list upon the stage’. Chapter 1: ‘Building Paradise’ – Peter Dawkins

There is a passage in Bacon’s De Augmentis which refers to the faculties of Will and Reason and the important function of imagination and divine illumination. Bacon tells us that ‘the understanding of man and his will are twins by birth, for purity of illumination and his will began and fell together’.

It has bee suggested that Bacon may have been hinting at this idea by bringing twins into the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night and that in Viola we may see a representation of Will, goodwill, liberty of the Will, and in Sebastian that of reason who is attracted to Order, wisdom, beauty, or Olivia as she is called in the play.

In his book, The Wisdom of Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, Peter Dawkins describes Sebastian as a saviour who protects his sister from harm. He is of the opinion that
Wisdom and Intelligence are the polarities of Power: they are the divine twins…Sebastian demonstrates in particular the wisdom and will aspect of life, and she (Viola) the intelligence and understanding.

P 175 ‘The Wisdom of Shakespeare in Twelfth Night’ Peter Dawkins
Those of you who are acquainted with Bacon’s writings will know how often he refers to opposites or contraries. So if one character personifies the epitome of good will then there is likely to be a reference to ill will, and sure enough in the play there is a character called Malvolio, ill will. Peter Dawkins points out the ill will and self-love go hand in hand with the opposite of goodwill and universal love. Bacon and Shakespeare took great pains to choose appropriate names and Malvolio and Olivia are examples of this care, ingenuity and specialised knowledge.

I think these examples point to the fact that Bacon recognised that in the Shakespeare plays he had the opportunity to show in various ways that there was a reflection of ideas discussed in quite a number of his Essays which are shown forth in the plays.
If he did want to do this then no wonder he chose to write Civil and Moral Essays, for this category could include aspects of character delineation. Both the essays of Bacon and the plays of Shakespeare show that the author was a keen observer of human nature and human affairs as well as a disguised poet.

It is interesting to note that a series of plays reflecting the history of human nature would quite naturally be divided into history, comedy, tragedy, for such is the weft and warp of the life of Everyman and Woman. I think it is not by chance that the plays do indeed fall into these categories for they were, without doubt, conceived as a comprehensive whole. Only if the entire collection of plays were printed all together would this all-embracing theme be highlighted, for the benefit of posterity, allowing Bacon to use drama in this special way.

Back to top

Was Mozart a Baconian?

by Francis Carr

The central meeting place of the Viennese intelligentsia in the 1780′s was the Freemasonic lodge, Zur wahren Eintracht: the True Concord, or Harmony. Haydn was a member of this lodge and Mozart attended their meetings frequently. In 1781 the distinguished matallurgist, Ignaz von Born, became the Master of this lodge. He was Emanuel Schickaneder’s guide in his libretto of The Magic Flute and the model for Sarastro, the Grand Priest.
As Nicholas Till points out in Mozart and the Enlightenment, England was the crucible of the Enlightenment.

Born had been a member of the English Lodge in Prague, where Mozart felt just as much at home as he did in Vienna – more so, perhaps, as his music was more highly esteemed there. These Viennese lodges had a predominantly Rosicrucian membership. Born’s lodge was in fact an academy of intellectual and scientific enquiry, a gathering which was modeled on the Royal Society in London, where Masonic and Rosicruician doctrines were discussed.

So we can trace a clear link between the Royal Society and Mozart. Founded in 1660, the Royal Society was the new name for The Invisible College, which was founded by the English antiquary, Elias Ashmole, in 1645. He was the founder of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, an astrologer, and the editor of the works of John Dee, from whom Francis Bacon learnt so much. The main inspiration for the Invisible College was Rosicrucianism, with Bacon as its chief guide.

In Thomas Sprat’s striking illustration of the founding of the Royal Society, a bust of King Charles II rests on a column which is flanked by Ashmole and Bacon. Ashmole is shown pointing to the name of Charles, Carolus, on the column, and Bacon points to a set of Masonic instruments, hanging on a wall. Prominent among these instruments is a pair of compasses, which is similar to the letter A, the prominent letter in the headpieces of some of the Shakespeare plays. In Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco stresses the point that Freemasonary was the link between the revolutionary thinkers of the late eighteenth century in France and Austria and Bacon’s followers in the Royal Society and the Invisible College.
In spite of Catholic suppression in Spain, Italy and France, Rosicrucian philosophy was kept alive in the seventeenth century mainly by Francis Bacon and Michael Maier, the personal physician to the Emperor, Rudolph II, in Prague. It is possible that Rudolph was a model for Prospero in The Tempest. And it is reasonable to see a link between Prospero and Sarastro in The Magic Flute. Another important Rosicrucian at this time was Frederick William, King of Prussia.

What exactly were the main principles of Rosicrucianism? What traditions did it seek to instil into intellectual life in England, France, Germany, Austria and Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? The main elements in the teaching were the Hermetic, Cabbalistic and Neoplatonic ideas of the Renaissance, with the additional elements of alchemy and the Greek and Christian doctrines of toleration, reconciliation and compassion.
The Hermetic teaching was that of Hermes Trismegisthos, thrice-greatest, the Greek name of the Egyptian God, Thoth, the divine source of mysticism, magic and alchemy. A leading exponent of this philosophy was Marsilio Ficino in the 15th century. The Cabbala was an ancient Jewish occult science, which put forward a mystical interpretation, not a literal belief, in the Scriptures. The Neoplatonic doctrine combined the teachings of Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle. This dominated European thought until the 13th century, and it re-emerged in the 16th century, thanks largely to Cornelius Agrippa in Germany and John Dee in England. Much of the philosophy of Rosicrucianism came from Agrippa.

It is interesting to note that in a portrait of Lady Anne Clifford at the Age of 15, by Jan van Belcamp, painted in 1646, we see on the floor beside Lady Anne, a large book which has a piece of paper issuing from its pages telling us that it is Quixote, which was first published in 1605, the year in which Lady Anne was 15. The book on top of Don Quixote is The Vanity of the Sciences by Cornelius Agrippa. Lady Anne’s tutor was Samuel Daniel, who earlier was tutor to William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, to whom the First Folio of the Shakespeare plays was dedicated. The Rosicrucians combined all these doctrines to form a non-sectarian, mainly Protestant, ecumenical programme. Bacon, Ashmole, Newton and Leibnitz all promulgated these ideas. We can find them in As you Like It, The Tempest, Love’s Labour’s Lost, the Sonnets and Venus and Adonis.

Many of the Shakespeare plays were seen in Vienna by Mozart. In one of his letters he refers to the appearance of the Ghost in Hamlet, and he points out how important it is that on stage such a frightening manifestation must not be prolonged. In Vienna Shickaneder presented Hamlet, with himself in the lead. Mozart’s operas share many common themes and preoccupations with the Shakespeare plays. Both were written during the transition from closed, religious moulds of society to more open, individualistic and secular systems. It was a period of doubts, alienation, wars and reconciliation.

Like Bacon, Mozart was interested in symbolic codes and the symbolic use of numbers. The 18th Degree in Masonry was named the degree of the Sovereign Rose Cross. In The Magic Flute. Act One, Scene 18, Sarastro – the name is derived from Zarathustra, the 6th Century BC Persian prophet – makes his dramatic appearance. There are 18 priests in the opera, members of Sarastro’s council in the Temple of lsis and Osiris; and Papagena, the ideal wife for Papegeno, is 18 years of age. The 30th Degree is the Degree of Revenge, and in Act 2, Scene 30 of The Magic Flute, the Queen of the Night is banished. Two of the most important arias in this opera are those of the Queen of the Night in which she declares her programme of revenge and her order to her daughter to kill Sarastro. Shortly after this dramatic aria, Sarastro gives his reply:

Within this holy templeRevenge is quite unknown.And those who stray from virtueBy love their path are shown.Then gently led by friendly handThey find with joy a better land.

Within our holy Masonry (In diesen heiligen Mauern)By ties of love we’re bound;No traitor can be foundAs we forgive our foes -Those who do not accept this teachingDo not deserve the name of man.
In other words, only those who comply sincerely with Sarastro’s rule, acknowledging their guilt, are forgiven.The Magic Flute, as Nicholas Till points out, is a Rosicrucian programme. When Tamino reaches Sarastro’s temple, he reads out the three words which are inscribed over the three main doors: NATURE, REASON and WISDOM. These three entities are the three main pillars of Baconian philosophy. Wisdom, Bacon maintained, can only be achieved by the application of reason to nature. Knowledge, or Science, is Power, he declared in his Meditationes Sacrae – Scientia potestas est. A frequent plea of Tamino, in his ordeal of fire and water, is to gain the strength to endure the impenetrable darkness:
O endless night, when will you vanish?When will my eyes find the light?

This is the aim of the Enlightenment, the banishment of ignorance, the relief of man’s estate. On the title page of Don Quixote, when it first appeared in Madrid in 1605, we could easily read in block capitals, this inscription:-
“POST TENEBRAS SPERO LUCEMAfter darkness I hope for light.”

This is exactly what Don Quixote says in the Second Part, when he and his squire find themselves having to sleep the night out in the open, before the splendid country wedding of Camacho and Quiteria. The opera ends with Sarastro proclaiming that
“The rays of the sun have vanquished the night;The power of the hypocrite has been destroyed.”

In Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, Blonde, Constanze’s maid, who gives her so much encouragement in her ordeals, is English, and the man whom Constanze loves is named Belmont, the name of Portia’s country house in The Merchant of Venice. This female lawyer has a counterpart in Cosi fan tutte. with Despina appearing wigged and gowned. In this opera, Fiordeligi prepares to join her lover Fernando, in the army and puts on soldier’s clothes, as Helena does in All’s Well That Ends Well when she joins her beloved Bertrand. The lovers’ confusion in Midsummer Night’s Dream is repeated in Act 2 of Cosi fan tutte, and in Hamlet and Don Giovanni we have a ghost, the spirit of Hamlet’s father and that of Donna Anna’s father.

In his operas, Mozart displays his unerring insight into human nature, with characters on the stage the equal of Shakespere’s, as Michael Kennedy has stated in the Oxford Dictionary of Music. Bacon, in his Sylva Sylvarum wrote at length on music, noting the way it moves us emotionally.

“There be in music, certain figures almost agreeing with the figures of rhetoricand with the affections of the mind. The division and quavering,which please so much in music, have an agreement withthe glittering of light, as the moon-beams playing on a wave.
It hath been anciently held and observed that the sense of hearing and the kinds ofmusic have most operation upon manners; as to encourage men and make themwarlike; to make them soft and effeminate; to make them grave; to make them light; tomake them gentle and inclined to pity. The sense of hearing striketh the spirits moreimmediately than the other senses. Generally, music feedeth that disposition of thespirits which it findeth.”

Bacon and Mozart talked the same language, the language of toleration, individualism, humour, compassion, liberation and the equality of the sexes – Rosalind and Fiordeligi are good examples – and the educative, healing and stimulating effect on everyone watching a play or an opera.

About the Author:

Francis Carr runs the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre http://www.shakespeareauthorship.org.uk

He is the author of various works including the biography Mozart and Constanze John Murray 1983 et sub.
For further reading:

Francis Carr – Who Wrote Don Quixote Xlibris 2004

Nicholas Till – Mozart and the Enlightenment Faber 1991

Frances Yates – The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Routledge 1972

Brigid Brophy – Mozart. The Dramatist Faber 1964


Back to top

Who Were “Shakespeare”?

By Andrew Lyell

The contemporary references to Shakespeare as a poet or dramatist never connected him with Stratford on Avon or said that he was an actor. The life of the Stratford corn merchant, or of the London actor, simply cannot, as Emerson said, “be married to Shakespeare’s works”1 .

The life of the 17th Earl of Oxford could certainly be “married” to some of Shakespeare’s works. He was born in 1550 and on his father’s death in 1562 he became the Queen’s ward under the tutelage of Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley. While at Cambridge the young Earl began to write poems, as his uncle the Earl of Surrey had done. Later he married Burghley’s daughter Anne Cecil just after her 15th birthday. He soon left her and went on an extended tour of the Continent, travelling in great style and with a considerable retinue. This tour was so expensive that he had to sell six of his estates.

After his return from the Continent in 1576, he financed and managed his own company of actors, and he continued to do so for twenty-eight years. He had to sell another thirteen of his estates to provide for this company. In 1580 he leased the Blackfriars Theatre. More than once he appeared in Shakespearean plays privately performed before the Queen. Gabriel Harvey (a contemporary) referred to him as standing “supreme among his contemporary poets and dramatists.” There exists an imagined portrait of “William Shakespeare” which was found to have been painted over a portrait of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.
Francis Meres in Palladis Tamia, wrote, “The best for comedy among us be Edward Earl of Oxford.” This suggests that Oxford was merely one of several authors of the works of Shakespeare 2 . Prior to the First Folio of 1623, twenty of the Shakespeare plays including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Anthony and Cleopatra and Henry VIII had never been published, but this does not necessarily mean that none of them were in manuscript.
It is argued that Oxford must have written Romeo and Juliet because in about 1581 he became infatuated with one of the Queen’s Maids of Honour, Anne Vavaseur, a cousin of the Howards. A report by Walsingham indicated that Oxford was the father of her son, born in 1581. Oxford fought a duel with her uncle Sir Thomas Knyvet and was wounded. Street fighting between the servants and followers of the two factions took place, after the manner of the Montagu and Capulet families, and one of Oxford’s men was killed. Just after the birth of Anne Vavasour’s illegitimate son the Queen had her incarcerated m the Tower. The scandal affected Oxford, as the reputed father, and the Queen banished him from the Court.
The Oxfordians also say that Oxford must have written Othello as on his return from the Continent in 1576 lies told to him by an agent of members of the Catholic faction, who were trying to persuade him to join them by breaking up his marriage to Burghley’s daughter, led him to believe that she had been unfaithful to him while he was abroad.

For five years after his return he refused to see her although she wrote him many tearful letters pleading her innocence. These letters still exist. It should be observed that the author of Othello was writing more or less a true story about de Moro the Venetian governor of Cyprus. Oxford had in fact visited Venice and might have heard the Othello story there. De Moro was in fact a white man, but Shakespeare translated his name “the Moor”. I think it too late to correct this now! The story still told in Othello’s Tower in Famagusta is that de Moro strangled his wife in a wild fit of jealously.

I find that few people today can believe or understand that “Shakespeare” could have wished to remain anonymous. He says clearly in the 72nd, 76th and the 81st sonnets as well as in some of the plays that he must remain anonymous. There was a rigid convention which mad it ‘infra dig’ for a nobleman to write dramas for public presentation. Many of the characters in the plays could be recognized as the author’s friends or enemies at Court, and many of the plays and sonnets were to some extent autobiographical. For example the longwinded wise old Lord Burghley was probably Polonius. Wolsey spoke with the voice of Francis Bacon. One could give many examples of this.

The immortal bard was clearly no single man. Shakespeare the Lawyer and Shakespeare the Philosopher were undoubtedly Francis Bacon. The Romantic Shakespeare was probably Oxford, and the Comedies were certainly written by him. There were almost certainly other Shakespeares. As Emerson said “Marry the man to his Works.” The Oxfordians point out that there was a spear in the Earl of Oxford’s coat of arms. The Baconians contend that the Spearshake was Pallas Athene the Goddess of Wisdom who was said to war with the spear of knowledge against the serpent of ignorance. Any dictionary of quotations will record the most famous of the sayings of Francis Bacon. One should study these and search for their like in the works of Shakespeare. I will mention here only a few of them:

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
“They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea”.
“I have often thought upon death, and I find it the least of all evils.”
“Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.”
“Be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others”.
“He that commands the sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little of the war as he will.”
“I have taken all knowledge to be my province.”

At the Court of Elizabeth I, knowledge was far more important than martial prowess. Every courtier was expected to be able to write a sonnet inspired by his thoughts at the time. Sonnets and plays were not written for money but for the consolation of the author or of others, or to influence or instruct others, or to pay a compliment to the Queen, or just for the fun of writing them. The Sonnet form was a product of the Italian Renaissance. It was introduced into England by the Earl of Surrey during the reign of Henry VIII. Surrey was beheaded in 1546. His Sonnets were first published posthumously in 1557. After Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 sonnet writing became very fashionable at Court.

In 1598 two plays, Richard II and Richard III, were published in London with the author’s name given for the first time as “William Shakespeare.” They had first been produced anonymously some years before then. The followers of Essex bribed the manager of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company of Actors to produced Richard II shortly before Essex’s rebellion. This play portrayed the deposition of Richard by Bolingbroke. The manager was, therefore, promptly arrested for treason, and the author was obviously in great danger. Some Baconians say that Essex had found either the Stratford man or the London actor and bribed him to claim the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. This I doubt. Certainly no contemporary would have been fooled. Both these men were incapable of writing anything, and were therefore quite safe from any charge of treason.
Before setting out Francis Bacon’s story I will pause to emphasize that I am not in this thesis seeking to prove anything. The case for the Oxfordians has been set out very fully indeed in the two volumes of “Shakespeare Identified” by Thomas Looney, edited by Ruth Loyd Miller, and also by many other scholars. The case for the Baconians has been set out every bit as fully in Beaumont’s Shakespear’s Sonnet Diary and by Alfred Dodd’s many learned works on this subject, and also by many other scholars. I accept both schools of thought, and I merely wish to add that neither appears to have accepted that several authors may have written the works of Shakespeare. My purpose in writing this is simply to assist in some small way anyone who may be searching for the truth with a completely open mind.

One of the sayings of Francis Bacon was: “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.”


In this play there is an intentional historical mistake. According to history, Henry sent two peers only, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to demand the Great Seal from Wolsey and break it. James sent four to Francis Bacon The Lord Treasurer, the Duke of Lennox, and the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel. In Henry VIII the “author” makes four peers wait upon Wolsey instead of two. The presence of Surrey and the Lord Chamberlain is historically incorrect. Contemporaries would be aware that the Earl of Pembroke was the Lord Chamberlain, and the Earl of Arundel was also the Earl of Surrey.

Francis Bacon ended his will with these words, ”For my name and memory I leave to men’s charitable speeches, to foreign nations, and the next ages, and to mine own countrymen after some time be past”.This was surely intended to make it quite clear to his contemporaries that he, Francis Bacon, was in fact the author and was referring to his own fall.

King James directed Sir Thomas Wilson on 10th February 1621 to supply Francis Bacon with any papers relating to Henry VIII that he might require. On the 21st February 1622 Francis Bacon wrote to Buckingham a letter which contains the following passage: “I beseech your Lordship to present my most humble duty to His Highness who will make me leave King Henry VIII and set me on etc.” So before that date Bacon had already begun to prepare or write this play. It should be noted that the attack on Francis Bacon, mounted largely by Sir Edward Coke, began on the 1st March 1621, that on the 16th April 1621 the King commanded Francis Bacon to “desert his defence”, making him certain promises, “so that the Throne may not be endangered or the Favourite imperilled,” and that on the following day Bacon made a note of this interview with the King as follows: “I am to make an oblation of myself into His Majesty’s hands .. and to submit wholly to his direction… ” On the 1st May 1621 the four peers waited upon him to receive the Great Seal of England as he was “too ill to go to the Bar of the House of Lords to surrender it.” This play was first published in March 1622. In 1623 the Great Folio, edited by Ben Jonson (who was at that time living with Bacon at Gorhambury), was published consisting of 36 plays many of which had never been heard of before.
Shaksper of Stratford died in 1616. It could scarcely be argued that he made a historical mistake which coincided exactly with what happened to Francis Bacon five years after his death.
Certain passages in this play were obviously taken from Cavendish’s “Life of Wolsey” which was not published until 1641. Shakespeare must therefore, have seen the manuscript. Cavendish was one of Frances Bacon’s literary friends and may have assisted him in assembling the facts before writing the play.
In September 1621 Bacon wrote to the King “If I had pleased God as 1 had pleased you, it would have been better with me. ” The following year Bacon wrote to Buckingham “Your Lordship knoweth as well as 1 what promises you made me… The pardon of my whole sentence, some help for my debts, and an annual pension.” On the 1st December 1621 he appealed to the House of Lords: “I am old, weak, ruined, in want, a very subject of pity … My only suit to your Lordships is… release me from my confinement in Gorhambury so that I may have conferences with my friends and creditors about my debts.” Remember these facts while you are reading the play. Consider carefully the following passage from Act 3 Scene 2:
“Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness! This is the state of man: today he puts forthThe tender leaves of hope; tomorrow blossoms,And bears his blushing honours thick upon him:The third day comes a frost, a killing frost;And when he thinks, good easy man, full surelyHis greatness is a ripening nips his root,And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,This many summers in a sea of glory;But far beyond my depth: my highblown prideAt length broke under me; and now has left meWeary and old with service, to the mercyOf a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.Vein pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:I feel my heart new opened. 0, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on Princes ‘favours:There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,More pangs and fears that wars or women have;And when befalls he falls like LuciferNever to hope again. “And at the end of that scene:”There take an inventory of all I have,To the last penny: ’tis the King’s : my robeAnd my integrity to heaven is allI dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, CromwellHad I but serv ‘d my God with half the zealI served my king, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies. ”

Can one any longer doubt that these lines were written by Francis Bacon and addressed to the King? The play was entitled The Life of King Henry VIII. It was in fact only about the fall of Cardinal Wolsey. It begins shortly before his fall and ends with a detailed description of the christening of Princess Elizabeth the author’s real mother. Bacon obviously decided that he had criticized King James enough when referring to the wretchedness of “That poor man that hangs on Princes’ favours,” and so he wrote Cranmer’s speech at the christening in which he prophesised that Elizabeth would remain a virgin all her life and would be succeeded by someone as great in fame as she had been. Surely no author other than Francis Bacon would have thought it desirable or necessary to include such an absurd speech at the christening. At the beginning of Act 2 Scene IV Shakespeare described with complete accuracy the procedure at the very rare ceremony of the opening of a Legatine Ecclesiastical Court. This reveals knowledge which probably only a Lord Chancellor would have had. (See The Martyrdom of Francis Bacon p. 153) The following words of Griffith in Act 4 Scene 2 are food for thought:

“Men ‘s evil manners live in brass; their virtuesWe write in water.”
This makes one think not only of Keats but also of Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 2:

“The evil that men do lives after them;The good is oft interred with their bones;So let it be with Caesar. ”
Griffith also said of Wolsey:

“His overthrow heaped happiness upon him,For then, and not till then, he felt himself,And found the blessedness of being little.”
This may have been true of the philosopher Francis Bacon, but certainly was not true of Cardinal Wolsey. There is a delightful song at the beginning of Act 3 which can be used to assist in the identification of the Sonnets written by Francis Bacon.

I do not intend to say much more about the life of Francis Bacon, or this essay would become a book. All books which have challenged the orthodox story of William Shakespeare of Stratford on Avon have run into a wall of silence by the critics and the Press. They just do not want to know the truth. As I have said, my aim is merely to point the way to those people who have open minds and do wish to find the truth.

As all the plays of “Shakespeare” had been written anonymously, there was no reason why Francis Bacon should not have amended or enlarged any of them before their publication in the First Folio on 1623. We know that after his fall he was obsessed with his “wounded name”. For example, Oxford may have written both Hamlet and Othello, and Bacon may have enlarged both of them to express his own thoughts.

Just as an art expert has no need of a signature to enable him to identify a great work of art, surely one should be able to identify the author of, for example, the following: ”Who steals my purse, steals trash; tis something, nothing; T’was mine, Tis his, and has been slave to thousands: But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed. ” ….. Othello.

“Oh good Horatio, what a wounded name shall live behind me. If thou did’st ever hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story. ” ….Hamlet.
“Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my King, He would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies. …..Henry VIII.

”Naked” surely means not permitted to defend himself. This happened to Francis Bacon: it was entirely inappropriate to the fall of Cardinal Wolsey who fell because he opposed the King’s divorce.


I personally think that most of the Sonnets were written by that romantic philanderer Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Sonnet 125 certainly was, as it was he, as the then premier Earl, who “bore the canopy” on State occasions.

But turn to Sonnet 74: “The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife” was surely a reference to Lord Chief Justice Coke who through jealousy and malice contributed largely to Bacon’s downfall. Or was Oxford referring to Sir Thomas Knyvet?

Then read Sonnets 18, 22, 25, 29, 37, 73, 74, 116, 121 and 146. Remember Bacon’s advice that one should read “not to contradict and confute” but to “weigh and consider”. Who but a lawyer would have written the fourth line of Sonnet 18:

“Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?Thou art more lovely and more temperate:Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,And often is his gold complexion dimmed;And every fair from fair sometime declines,By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm ‘d;But they eternal Summer shall not fade,Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;Nor shall Death brag thou wander ‘st in his shade,When in eternal lines to time thou growest:So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.Sonnet 18
And consider also Sonnet 116:

“Let me not to the marriage of true mindsAdmit impediments. Love is not loveWhich alters when it alteration finds,Or bends with the remover to remove:O, no! it is an everfixed mark,That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;It is the star to every wandering bark,Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.Love’s not time ‘s fool, though rosy lips and cheeksWithin his bending sickle’s compass come;Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,But bears it out even to the edge of doom.If this be error, and upon me proved,I never writ, nor no man ever loved”.
And after reading Sonnets 18 and 116 ask yourself whether you really think they were written either by the illiterate Will Shaksper of Stratford on Avon, or by the semi-literate Will Shaksper of Blackfriars, or by the romantic philanderer the Earl of Oxford to Anne Vavaseur or another of his girlfriends, or by the greatest of all philosophers Francis Bacon who was devoted to his beautiful young wife? Compare them with the Sonnets which were obviously written by Oxford before you come to any conclusion.

If you do not accept that Oxford was a philanderer, read Sonnet 142 which was, I think, written by him:

“Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate,Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving;O, but with mine compare thou thine own state,And thou shaft find it merits not reproving;Or, if it do, not from those lips of thine, That have profan ‘d their scarlet ornaments,And seal ‘d false bonds of love as oft as mine,Robbed others’ beds’ revenues of their rents.”Sonnet 142
Note particularly the seventh line.

Then turn to Sonnet 138 which, I think, was written by the elderly Francis Bacon to, or of, his young wife:

“When my love swears that she is made of truth,I do believe her, though I know she lies,That she might think me some untutor ‘d youth,Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,Although she knows my days are past the best,Simply I credit her falsespeaking truth supprest.And wherefore say not I that I am old?O, life’s best habit is in seeming trust,And age in love loves not to have years told:Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be”.Sonnet 138

Oxford was only 54 when he died in 1604, and to me 54 is mature youth. Bacon attained the age of 65. But quite apart from this, surely these two Sonnets, 142 and 138, were written by different people? The former is in my view typical of Oxford’s romantic style, whereas the latter speaks with the voice of a philosopher.
Construe the Sonnets as a lawyer would construe a legal document. Do not assume that any part of them makes nonsense. They were written with great care and skill. Because they were works of art they were preserved so that they were ultimately collected and assembled by “Mr W.H.” Free your mind of all prejudices and long-held opinions and seek the truth for yourself. Because the truth will turn apparent nonsense into music. As Bacon said in an essay on “Truth”, “No pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth.”

Polonius says in Hamlet, “This above all, to thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Do you still believe that these immortal words were written by one of the two Will Shakspers found by Betterton? 3.

“Orthodox” Shakespearean historians never attempt to support by facts or arguments the claims on behalf of Will Shaksper of Stratford on Avon and/or Blackfriars, but content themselves by seeking errors in the cases of the Oxfordian and Baconian Societies. I suggest that these two Societies should collaborate or amalgamate. Only then can the case for Will Shaksper be utterly demolished in the minds of all thinking people. Scholars would surely occupy their time more profitably by researching who wrote which of Shakespeare’s Works. They should cease to be partisan, and they should never ignore any facts just because those facts do not fit in with their existing ideas.

A few years ago I corresponded with an American who told me that he was founder and president of the Shakespeare Marlowe Society and was then on a lecture tour of Europe. I believe his name was Calvin and that he has since died. His contention was that he was himself a poet and that he was therefore able and qualified to identify Marlowe as the author of all Shakespeare’s works. I formed the opinion that his mind was quite closed on the subject, and I was unable to agree with him. I might have said to him that I was a barrister and was therefore qualified to say that only a trained and brilliant advocate could have written the speech of Anthony which begins:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears:I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.The evil that men do lives after them;The good is oft interred with their bones;So let it be with Caesar.”Julius Caesar Act III Scene 2

This speech is today still a model for a banister’s speech to a jury, winning them over bit by bit. But I did not say this to Mr. Calvin as this would have led to interminable argument until the inevitable, and perhaps unpopular, conclusion might have been reached that there must have been more than one Shakespeare.
It would seem incredible that any one man should have found time to write all the Works of Shakespeare. But one man could perhaps have supervised the writing of all these works, though this I personally doubt.

I will end this Essay by inviting the reader to embark on the new line of research which I have suggested by deciding for himself who wrote Sonnet 81 and whether he thinks it was written to the Queen. The Baconians naturally say that it was written by Francis Bacon to his mother the Queen. This seems to fit, though the line “You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)” seems a bit presumptuous. The Oxfordians say that it was written by the Earl of Oxford to the Earl of Southampton, and that it was referring to the long poems Venus and Adonis and Lucrece which had been written by Oxford and dedicated to the Earl of Southampton.

“Or I shall live your epitaph to make,Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;From hence your memory death cannot take,Although in me each part will be forgotten,Your name from hence immortal life shall have,Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:The earth can yield me but a common graveWhen you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.Your monument shall be my gentle verse,Which eyes not yet created shall o ‘erread;And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,When all the breathers of this world are dead;You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men. “Sonnet 81
Remember that in 1593 the Earl of Oxford was aged 43 and was the Premier Earl of England. Do you think he would have written this Sonnet to the Earl of Southampton? Why the emphasis on a “common grave”? Before you make up your mind turn to Venus and Adonis to see if it sounds like the work of Oxford. You will note the extreme modesty exhibited in the following passage in the dedication thereof:

“I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burden… But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather….” Can one believe that Oxford wrote that very humble dedication to Southampton? And even though Francis Bacon was then aged only 32, it is surely hard to believe that he would have written so humbly.

What about that mural found at St. Albans? 4 . Remember that Ben Jonson went to live with Francis Bacon at Gorhambury in 1621 and remained with him for three or four years during the time of the compilation of the Great Folio : Ben Jonson was the Editor.
Is it possible that Ben Jonson (1574-1637) was the author of both the long poems of Shakespeare, and that he at some earlier date visited Francis Bacon at Gorhambury and stayed at the White Hart in St. Albans and there inspired that mural? He would have been only 19 years of age in 1593 : this would fit in with the words, “The first heir of my invention”, and young men may have been modest in those days. The reason why he did not claim them as his own work may have been that in 1623 he wished to become part of Shakespeare.

Compare these poems with lines known to have been written by Ben Jonson: “Give me a look, give me a face, That makes simplicity a grace. Robes loosly flowing, hair as free; Such sweet neglect more taketh me, Than all the adulteries of art; They strike mine eyes, but not my heart. ” The Silent Woman Act 1 Scene 1. “Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup, And I’ll not look for wine – To Celia. “Underneath this stone doth lie As much beauty as could die; Which in life did harbour give To more virtue than doth live – Epitaph on Elizabeth.
I do not presume to give the answer to this question. I leave further research to scholars wiser than I.

Perhaps I should add that Ben Jonson is believed to have begun his literary career in 1595 by writing for the stage. He became the Poet Laureate in 1623. He showed his contempt for the actor Shaksper but he showed profound love and respect for “Shakespeare” the author. He wrote somewhere of the “Swan of Avon” : orthodox Shakespearian scholars regard this as a reference to Shaksper of Stratford on Avon. But why call him a swan when a swan is mute? This suggests to me that the “Swan of Avon” was not going to say who he was or who they were. I regard Lord Oxford as the first, and perhaps the foremost, of the Shakespeares, and he certainly held property on the Warwickshire Avon. Wilton House stands on a tributary of the Wiltshire Avon. The 1623 Shakespeare Folio was dedicated to William Herbert Earl of Pembroke and to the Earl of Montgomery. But I now think the Oxfordian explanation is the correct one 5 .
1. Editor’s note: the author refers to Charlton Ogburn’s conclusion that the historical records show evidence of a Shakspere of Stratford on Avon who was a prosperous corn merchant, and a London actor called Shakspere. The argument is that there is no proof these were even the same man, nor that either was the poet William Shakespeare. The situation is more complex than Stratfordians or anti-Stratfordians normally allow, and will form the theme of a future edition of Baconiana.
2. (See Shakespeare Identified Vol. 1 page 559)The Arte of English Poesie, 1589, by Lord Lumley. “Now also of such among the Nobility or Gentry… in the making of Poesie, it is come to pass that they have no courage to write and, if they have, yet are they loath to be known of their skill. I know very many notable Gentlemen of the Court that have written commendably and suppressed it or else suffered it to be published without their own names to it: as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman to seem learned and to show himself amorous of any good Arte.”
“And in Her Majesty’s time that now is are sprung up another crew of Courtly Noblemen and Gentlemen who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and make public with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earl of Oxford.”
Lord Lumley was himself a victim of this social prohibition: the Arte of English Poesie was printed by Richard Field without an author’s name. This leads me to regard Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford as the first and foremost of all the authors who together were Shakespeare.
3. Editor’s note: i.e. the corn merchant of Stratford upon Avon and/or the London actor.
4. The London Standard of the 6th November 1985 reported that Benskins Brewery, when extending the White Hart Hotel at Holywell Hill, St. Albans, parts of which, painted on a wall behind some panelling which had been taken down. This mural was identified by Dr. Rouse (Consultant to the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments) as portraying the death of Adonis and was dated as having been painted no later than 1600. In 1593 a poem had been published. ‘Venus and Adonis’ by Shakespeare.
5. The De Vere Society Newsletter of April 1988 presented a strong case for seeing Mary Sidney Herbert, The Countess of Pembroke, as the Sweet Swan of Avon referred to by Ben Jonson in the First Folio. She was the premier patron of Elizabethan poets, including Jonson, lived on the Avon, and her sons the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery and chief dedicatees of Jonson’s dedication.

Back to top

On the Occasion of the Quatrocento of the Advancement of Learning

By “G.C.”

On the occasion of Lord Francis Bacon’s Birthday and the quatrocentenary of the publication of the earth-shattering The Proficience and Advancement of Learning,[editor's note: these words were written in 2005], I would like to take this opportunity for self-examination and explore what it means to me to be a Baconian. Few Stratfordians have read and understood the works of Francis Bacon, and increasingly it becomes true that fewer and fewer Baconians read and understand the works of Shakespeare, analysis of text replacing understanding of the matter. What makes us Baconians is an understanding of both men, their thoughts and their writings.

This dedicatory letter examines two concepts, first, that the core of Baconian belief is that the works of Bacon and Shakespeare exhibit the workings of a single mind. Second, that the Stratfordians are not in truth our enemies, but our allies in the search for truth, as their interest, respect and admiration of Bacon’s hidden works gives them renewed life and substance, a man of great fame, and a great name “though he be known by another”.

As a youth, I enjoyed the study of great contributors to human thought, reading everything in the library on Copernicus, Galileo, Tycho Brahe, Newton, and even the darker side of kings, rulers and dictators. By age 12 1 had read everything available on William Shakespeare, my parents being very enamored of his plays, but I cannot count a single book in our local library that served as a major biography of Lord Francis Bacon. Even in the books on great men of science. Bacon was nothing more than a footnote.

As a youth I both studied and acted Shakespeare’s works, Macbeth of course being the favorite of so many of my gender, while the girls were wild about Romeo and Juliet. The advantage of this training was that it was impossible to memorize the difficult lines of a forgotten language without pondering their purpose and meaning from time to time, and I always pictured these divine words being written by candle light in a dark cupboard overlooking the Globe Theatre or some such place, a pen in the right hand, a cup of ale sitting by the left, as befitted the known history of my dear Will Shakespeare. My first school project was a model of the globe theatre, a labor of love that suited my imagination of the times and the actor Shakespeare. I never once doubted the authenticity of such a great man as was William Shakespeare, and when whisper came to my ears in later years that there were those who questioned, I considered them at best to be heretics, at worst conspiracy theorists.

The indomitable scrutiny of scientific method became my adult life, the precision of mathematics my eye toward the world, with Shakespeare and the arts reserved for leisure. That there was mathematical precision in the complex plots and wording posed by Shakespeare was not wasted on me. A harmony of the spheres, both heavenly and learned, to be discovered in spending an evening at the theatre watching a Shakespeare production. Richard Burton in turtleneck was my highest pleasure, seeing these plays carry themselves to the hearer without costume, set or scenery. What heretic-dolt would question the worth of such a man as Shakespeare?

Years fell away, and with them many of the heroes of my boyhood. Daniel Boorstein permanently dislodged Isaac Newton from his pedestal in The Discoverers, while Copernicus, Galileo, and even Tycho Brahe were lowered a notch by careful reading of their history and works. History draws the best of men to place on the pedestal, and discards the essence which made them men. The progression of science was then the act of several in succession, with no great thinker to point the way. Yet there were always these short footnotes about a man named Bacon, who influenced a great man this way or that in his work. It was only by fortune that while researching an old manuscript, I stumbled upon private writings of a group of Masons long dead that revered Lord Verulam more than any other man, and I set out to discover the quick of the matter, not knowing where it would lead. Montague’s volumes on Bacon were the first available for purchase, and my first personal introduction to Francis Bacon. I discovered in Bacon the essence of scientific thought, the matter of which confined him to footnotes, and gained no high esteem among historians. It was surprising to find in the reading that this was the position that comforted Bacon most, to be in the shadows, behind the curtain, an incredible influence on the minds of his readers, but only a footnote in history. History and humility had never before seen his kind.

As I read The Proficience and Advancement of Learning, I not only understood Bacon’s profound influence on the course of science and education, I saw in the lines the serious and conservative side of William Shakespeare. The words were different, the style more careful and corrected, but the thoughts, concepts and conclusions varied little from those of the great Poet/Actor, the plays a great quantity of speech, the other of quality and brevity of speech, but the same speech nonetheless. One could remove the antagonist of a play, reading only the protagonist, and find himself reading Francis Bacon in vernacular. On occasion the antagonist would reveal the controversial side of Bacon’s own argument, as a dialogue of the ancients. A standard technique, but why would the arguments be so like those of Bacon to seem to have been written by the same hand?
The list of authors and great men that have understood both Bacon and Shakespeare and reached the same conclusion as I, is a long and worthy list, where I humbly add my name to the bottom. The list of phrases, discussions and common errors of ommission or admission examined and evident in the two works is impressive on the Baconian side, but I would not ask any person to take a side based only on such extracted and isolated evidence. One must not only read, but reach an understanding through reading, of what the author is attempting to accomplish in the writing.

A true Baconian has read and understands the writings of both William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon, and holds as a core the certainty that these writings are of the same mind, the same wit, and the same pen. Stratfordians search for the source documents used or mimicked by Shakespeare, while Baconians search for the influences that charted the direction of Bacon’s thoughts and realizations. These are not mutually exclusive exercises, and Baconians could do more to absorb the reasonable and learned scholarship of Stratfordians into their philosophy, rather than exploit those tidbits that make for good argument.

Where a Stratfordian indicates source material as Greek in origin, the translation being directly from the Greek, we pounce, while we should pause and source the library that held the book. Each of us has a scientific obligation, set forth by Francis Bacon himself, to examine the facts with the utmost of wit and ability, and not to attack our adversary, rather educate him as the need arises. I read wild accounts of the secret letter that instigated The Tempest, and how Shakespeare could not have had access to this information, yet I hold in my digital library a book entitled A Discovery of the Bermvdas, otherwise called the Ille of Devils, by Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Sommers, and Captayne Newport, “with diverse others”, published in 1610, within three months of the arrival of the crew of that ill-fated adventure. I don’t even see this book referenced by Stratfordians, yet it is without a doubt the kernel around which The Tempest was constructed.

I have a few problems with Stratfordian scholarship, to be certain, but no more than I experience with Baconian scholarship, and have always attempted to extract the pertinent from the biased. The education of Shakespeare is only one of several points in which I believe the Stratfordians to have done the superior work. This work tends to focus on the Middle School at Stratford, and demonstrates quite adequately that it was one of the best in England, though fails to demonstrate that Shakespeare could have learned enough Greek to have written direct translations from Greek authors, as is sourced by some Stratfordians. Ben Jonson himself makes the admission that Shakespeare’s learning equated to “little Latin and lesse Greeke”. This is not a problem in my mind, as Ben Jonson also had little formal education, but had the advantage of private tutelage under the learned Camden.

We know from exhaustive Stratfordian scholarship that an Oxford scholar was employed at the Stratford Middle School for the sum of 20 pounds per annum, the repair for the school and the hiring of an assistant being taken from that salary. In contrast, the same wage could be gained by presenting one English translation of a Latin work for publication, or 10-12 pounds for one foul play transcribed through the new art of short-hand, as most certainly was done with the foul plays of William Shakespeare.

We have no record that William Shakespeare attended Stratford Middle School, though this is widely assumed. We also have no evidence that William’s father, mayor of the town and successful businessman, though presumed illiterate, did or did not follow the convention of the time for a man of his position and hire a servant (usually one with religious training) whose duties were private masses as befit the law, education of the children, evening readings, and the drafting of official documents in Latin. If indeed William’s father was illiterate, someone most certainly served in this capacity, and this servant would be of such need as to be indisposable in the intercourse of business and public affairs. We do know that such a servant would have drawn 8-10 pounds per annum, plus room and board, possibly higher as the duties and usefulness increased. Compare this to the average wage of a worker, a mere 4 pounds per annum.

Why Stratfordians have not focused on this possibility is beyond me, as this a person who would normally be employed by a successful businessman and politician of the time. This being the reality of the time, the controversy over the education of William Shakespeare and the quality of teaching at the Stratford Middle School would be moot, while the identification of this unknown servant and his training would be paramount to the Stratfordian cause. In a small town, the Mayor’s servant could well be the same individual who teaches in the Stratford Middle School, but no name has yet to be uncovered, and no records leading to solution of this problem. I bring this example to mind only to demonstrate that many Stratfordians, as do Baconians, exhibit the fault of misunderstanding and misinterpreting this period of English history, and any argument not built on a solid foundation will not survive the tides of time.

The core of Baconian belief is that the works of Bacon and Shakespeare exhibit the workings of a single mind. This connection can only be made by studying and understanding the works of the two men. Most recently I deduced through investigation that the “To the Reader” poem in the First Folio was written by the same author who penned the “Epistle Dedicatorie”, and reached the conclusion that these were both the work of Ben Jonson, even though the latter was signed by John Heminge and Henry Condell. A great amount of study went into this identification, which could have been saved by a small amount of research on the web, where it is revealed that Stratfordians have been aware of this connection for quite some time. Stratfordians did not follow up with the observation that this reduces the number of letters in favor of Shakespearean authorship to the tenuous number of three, with Ben Jonson’s letters remaining highly suspect to Baconian readers, Ben being a fellow and “good pen” of Francis Bacon, and the coincidence of his reversal of heart toward the author Shakespeare once he began in Bacon’s employ. The need for careful (and less critical) study of scholarly research on both sides of the fence is in order if a balance is to be reached, as we find ourselves reinventing points of argument already conceded by past scholarship.
On the Baconian side of the argument, we need to understand the influences on the life of Bacon, the persons and the circumstances, that form conjunctions in his work and the works of William< Shakespeare. Some Baconians simply do not understand, that the mind of Bacon was such that he would rather direct men’s genius than his own. The old and tired argument that Bacon wrote this and that, aside from Shakespeare, is to ignore the innate genius of the man himself. Many others gathered facts, performed histories, wrote plays, that were proofed and polished by Francis Bacon. This does not make them his work, rather the father of the work, first for enticing the young man into the study, and second, for the polish of the work that grew to the benefit of the young man who did the work. In no other case than Shakespeare, is the author of the suspected work other than a young man of college standing. Logic of pattern dictates that there are other influences in the Shakespearean plays apart from Bacon, friends and colleagues.
If one absorbs the letters of Anthony Bacon and understands the genius of his humor, it becomesvery easy to see his influence in the early Shakespearean works, and how this influence is so absent in works after the death of Anthony. Francis reverts to his serious side in his own works, a labor of years, polished and perfected, unlike the early plays by Shakespeare, waiting for the right time to release these to the world. That time was not the reign of Elizabeth, but that of James. Later plays by Shakespeare fall in place with events in the life of Francis, and have a much more polished surface than the fool-heartiness of Anthony’s influence. In my mind Bacon replaces Anthony with Tobie Matthew as his wit’s interpreter, though this does not happen for a period of time. Baconians often speak as if Bacon’s works somehow spring from his own well of genius, ignoring the fact that Bacon himself makes it a point to indicate that his true genius is in absorbing the best of others and forming it into something of use, and his ability lies in the fact that he is able to get others to do the work his mind sets forth. Again, a shadow figure, overwhelming in idea and direction, an astute manipulator of his position and capacity to accomplish this goal. Even in death. Bacon demanded a secrecy and silence surrounding his work, a natural extension of the identical roll he performed in life. Admiration of his humility and lack of malice are recorded by his survivors, and comments gathered from among his admirers, as well as those made by Bacon himself, support this view.

I joined the Baconian Heresy by understanding, not by revulsion to orthodox teaching or my dislike of the current position. As a convert from the “old religion”, I am not willing to shuck the corn with the silk, for true Stratfordians admire the same man as I, but call him by the name William Shakespeare, “though he be known by another.” They know nothing of Bacon and would not soil themselves with our cause, yet they hold in reverence the same man, the same being, as we revere. I for one understand the depths of Stratfordian reverence, and I applaud it. I am their brother, sharing what they perceive as a man who “knew the world”. I am also a Baconian, a step higher in the evolution of thought, now knowing what once I only dimly perceived, the works of Bacon andShakespeare exhibit the workings of a single mind, a mind inseparable.

My birthday wish on this occasion is that others may see as I see.


Back to top

Book Review by John Mitchell

John Michell is the author of several books on esoteric science, cosmography, number and measure, including ‘The Dimensions of Paradise’. He has also written ‘Eccentric Lives’, with a chapter on Baconians explorations in the river Wye, and ‘Who Wrote Shakespeare?’, an overview of the Authorship question.

A new light on Bacon and Baconism – John Mitchell

Kingdom for a Stage: Magicians and Aristocrats in the Elizabethan Theater

Joy Hancox.

Sutton Publishing, h.b.270 pp £20 or $29.95

Joy Hancox’s previous book, The Byrom Collection, was about her mysterious introduction to a private collection of papers with diagrams and schemes of geometry, some of which seemed to relate to Shakespeare’s Globe and other theatre buildings of this time. Kingdom for a Stage describes her further studies of this material and the remarkable discoveries she made about their origin and meaning. In the Science Museum she found a hoard of brass plates, prototypes of the Byrom figures and of other esoteric drawings in the Museum’s Library.

The brass plates were reckoned to be about 400 years old, and the next stage was to investigate where they had come from. Joy Hancox is a thorough detective. She narrowed her search to an area of south Wales, one of the earliest centres of metal- working, and to a particular spot, the romantic ruins of Tintern Abbey, next to which a brass workshop had been established in the Middle Ages.

This is where the story becomes exciting. Francis Bacon enters the scene, and with him are the leading characters and families in the esoteric, philosophical movement that gave birth to the writings of Shakespeare. Bacon had shares in the Tintern brassworks, and he was reputed to have owned the nearby estate, Mount St Albans. Also involved were the Herbert family, headed by the third Earl of Pembroke, together with the poets and idealists whose presiding genius at Wilton House was Pembroke’s mother, Mary, sister of Sir Philip Sidney. Near Tintern, according to our author-detective, they founded a secret college for educating students in the mystical science professed by John Dee, Giordano Bruno and a chain of initiates culminating in Francis Bacon.

The “brotherhood to whom instruction was offered was a small, exclusive group, men not simply of intelligence and learning but of wisdom and imagination. The wisdom it imparted was in turn shared by Dr Dee, Sir William Herbert, Sir Francis Bacon and William, third Earl of Pembroke. All were, for want of a better word, ‘adepts’. This brotherhood was foreshadowed in an embryonic form by Bacon’s group, ‘The Knights of the Helmet’ – a group that took its name from the helmet of the goddess of wisdom.”

Joy Hancox had no interest in the Authorship question until it was forced upon her by her researches. So she knew nothing about the Baconian significance of that stretch of the river Wye that flows by Tintern, or of the searches in that area previously conducted by Dr Orville Owen of Detroit. For fifteen years after 1909 Owen and his followers probed the bed and the banks of the Wye, looking for papers and relics of Bacon which they believed he had hidden there. Owen’s clues, obtained through his own deciphering system, indicated a spot some miles down-river, at Chepstow. There he found nothing, but he might have done better had he followed the Hancox line of research. Perhaps she or someone else will one day find what he missed.

This is a rich book, with more highlights and insights that I can mention here. One of its themes is the Globe theatre and its dimensions, clearly displayed in the Byrom papers. Before its recent replication, Hancox did her best to interest the promoters in her evidence of the Globe’s original plan. But the experts persisted in their own opinions, and the project went ahead regardless. The result is a theatre wrongly proportioned and orientated, with practical drawbacks that could have been avoided by reference to the Byrom plans.

Behind the planning of the Globe, and in its dimensions, Hancox sees a cosmological pattern, expressing the esoteric ideals of Dee and his circle The same ideals are displayed in Shakespeare, implying that the theatres and the plays were designed in harmony with each other and in accordance with the traditional world-image on which Solomon’s Temple was built. By the use of numbers and ratios which are common to music, geometry, astronomy and the other natural sciences, the masonic architects of the Globe allowed Prospero’s musing on the transient nature of ‘the whole globe itself’ to apply equally well to the theatre, its audience and the material universe.

Like the rest of us today. Joy Hancox is not deeply versed in the esoteric science. But she knows enough to understand how radically the revival of that science in England influenced the culture of Shakespeare’s age. Like Frances Yates before her, she avoids the Authorship question (and who can blame them?) at the same time as she substantiates it. She looks again at the main characters in the Shakespeare mystery, the scholars, poets, philosophers, statesmen and noblemen who were both on stage and behind the scenes at the time. And she sees the connection between all these people – their common devotion to an ideal view of the world, based on a universal science, recently rediscovered and with the potential of transforming the world into a mythological paradise.

Beginning with Delia Bacon in 1857, many of the most fruitful approaches to the Shakespeare mystery have been made by woman scholars. Joy Hancox is a worthy addition to their ranks. As I implied at the beginning, she is not a great writer, but she is perceptive and persistent and, best of all, she is still actively pursuing the interesting lines of inquiry she has opened. I look forward keenly to her future discoveries, and I hope that one day she will confront the Authorship question head on.

Back to top