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.


Taboo and Scholarship

Francis Bacon’s philosophy is rightly associated with the concept of progress. From the Age of Enlightenment until the mid 20th Century, it was often taken for granted that the pre-modern past was the age of superstition, and the future would witness the triumph of reason. But following two World Wars, and the increasing globalisation of our culture, many have come to feel that progress is a myth, a modernist European blind spot produced by that culture’s belief in its own supremacy. Bacon certainly believed that progress was possible: his Novum Organum (New Method) presents a way to steady progress in knowledge, and his New Atlantis sketched the ideal of a progressive society. But that does not mean history or the individual sciences necessarily follow a steady, unbroken improvement in the real world. The reverse is often true: progress has to be worked for, and this usually involves challenging deep rooted prejudices.

Likewise, the Bacon Society has made remarkable discoveries and also followed blind alleys, following fashions that were setbacks rather than breakthroughs. Paradoxically, progress often entails returning to neglected ideas, revisiting past achievements, challenging commonplaces. The Society has always endeavoured to investigate the nature of Bacon’s connection with the Shakespeare Plays, in an openminded way, and present its findings to the wider public. One relevant trail was the search for ciphers and cryptic communications in Shakespeare, Bacon and other Elizabethan books. Between 1880 and 1940 many Baconians became convinced they had ‘cracked the code’, publishing vast tomes with extraordinary revelations about Bacon’s life and works. Very few of these attempts created conviction among disinterested parties, and in truth, most of them were concocted from not-quite-understood use of gematria and renaissance cryptography, endless persistance and wishful thinking. But there may have been gold buried amidst the dross. The first of Michael Buhagiar’s two contributions to this issue is a rehabilitation of one of the most rigorous and interesting attempted decryptions, William Moore’s “Shakespeare”. This is a challenging piece: the reader will want to obtain an edition of Love’s Labour’s Lost (preferably a facsimile of the First Folio) and consider the text and Moore’s argument carefully. Whatever conclusion the reader forms, Moore’s work and Buhagiar’s presentation set the standard for those who feel called to revisit this controversial subject.

It is with great sadness that the Society has to announce the death of one of its most distinguished members, Nigel Cockbun Q.C., author of “The Bacon Shakespeare Question“. A full obituary and tribute to Mr Cockburn will be appearing in the next issue of Baconiana, but his lasting legacy to scholarship is certainly his book, by far the best ever written on the Baconian case in the Authorship Question. Every Stratfordian and non-Stratfordian will want to read this great legal presentation of the arguments for and against Bacon, Shakespeare and other candidates as authors of the plays. Cockburn passionately and totally rejected all cipher hunts, for very good reasons. He felt that cryptograms were a disastrous error in Baconian history, saying

“If Baconians had shown restraint and confined themselves to their valid arguments, of which there are many, their case would have had far wider appeal. As it is, the Baconian theory has come to be regarded, not just as an illustration of human folly, but as a symbol of it. This has led to an unparalleled and discreditable taboo which resents any questioning of Shakespere’s authorship. One may tilt at the basic tenets of anything else, even of deeply felt religious belief. But the authorship of the Stratford actor is sacrosanct.”

Cockburn’s use of the word taboo is perfectly judged. In theory, science is totally objective, devoted only to the truth. But in practice, academic culture is filled with taboos, or Idols as Bacon called them. These are only slowly eliminated from academic consensus, through the work of pioneers. One such taboo area has been astrology. Many Elizabethan intellectuals, including Shakespeare, were steeped in astrology, along with the other hermetic sciences of alchemy, magic and Kabbalah. These were regarded as ‘science’ or valid philosophy at the time, and since the work of Frances Yates and others, the history of ideas has grown to acknowledge this. Few academics feel the old religious fear of the ‘occult sciences’ as witchcraft, nor is interest in such subjects illegal. But many are still uncomfortable at the idea that universally admired cultural figures like Shakespeare may have been steeped in these philosophies.

Michael Buhagiar’s second contribution to this issue contains a sentence that aptly defines the best work done by Baconians: “The true history of Elizabethan literature is being written, then, not in the groves of academe, but in the homes and offices of private scholars”. This article is a warm and detailed review of Francis Carr’s book “Who Wrote Don Quixote?” Carr is one of the Society’s most ardent and longstanding proponents of Bacon as the author of Shakespeare, and his clear and concise presentation argument will be enjoyed even by those who find his conclusions deeply shocking. Buhagiar has recently finished a book on this subject, Don Quixote and the Brilliant Name of Fire: Qabalah, Tarot and Shakespeare in the Greatest Novel, which will be reviewed in full in the next issue. Carr’s book argues, in potentially incendiary fashion, that Bacon actually wrote the original of Don Quixote in English – his work being known to history as Thomas Shelton’s translation – and that Cervantes’ famous novel is in fact a translation into Spanish of the English original. Needless to some, some will treat the very suggestion as laughable, or typical of the glorious imprudence of radical Baconianism. It is dangerous enough for English speaking authors to tilt at their own idols like William Shakespeare; is it not sheer folly to attempt to rob other nations literary heroes of their crowns? But Carr gives arguments for seeing the influence of English on Don Quixote, and Buhagiar goes further to see Sufism and Kabbalah in this work, as in Shakespeare. If these books do no more than to awaken readers to the depths of supposedly well-known texts like Don Quixoteand the Shakespeare Plays, they will have done much.

The Society is fortunate to contain several well-known actors, proving that a love of Shakespearean drama and professional involvement in theatre is no barrier to passionate interest in the Authorship Question. Deslie McClellan, one of our newest members, has a lifetime’s experience of acting and teaching. Her beautifully written article is timely: it is not always appreciated that Francis Bacon had a great interest in (and deep knowledge of) theatre and the art of acting. As well as actors, various members take a keen interest in literature. Another new member, Rod Treseder, has submitted some poems which we will be publishing over the coming issues. His poem Sprite of the Avon is included.

The editor received an invitation to address the Baconian Club of St. Albans in March about the Authorship Question. This society, founded by a member of the Royal Society early in the 20th century, takes a special interest in Bacon as a philosopher, so it was a pleasure to address its intelligent and quick-witted membership on the less orthodox view of their ‘patron’! Any members living in St. Albans should certainly apply for membership of this fascinating and hospitable organisation.

Baconiana has a long tradition of reviving old articles and matters of historic interest to Baconians, even including articles that travel quite far from the confines of Bacon, Shakespeare and Elizabethan literature. Duchaussoy’s article is an essay in esoteric speculation that will be of interest to those readers who believe in Bacon’s possible affiliation with the esoteric philosophies of Rosicrucianism.

The next issue will appear in Autumn 2008 and will be devoted to full appreciations and obituries of two great Baconians: Nigel Cockburn and the former President of the Francis Bacon Society, Thomas Bokenham – respectively the greatest opponent and advocate of cipher studies in Baconian theory. Therefore we will welcome contributions on this subject.

The Editor, April 2008

Back to top

William Moore’s Shakespeare

A masterpiece of Baconian cryptanalysis

by Michael Buhagiar

“Shakespeare” (sic) was published in 1934, in the autumn of the great year of Baconian cryptanalytical enquiry. Yet autumn is symbolically the season of wisdom, equivalent to the time of three p.m., when Christ died on the Cross; and William Moore’s landmark work, with the revelations and equally great disasters of the Golden Age behind him, indeed is a work of the highest understanding and wisdom. It is arguably the most compelling and convincing book of its genre; and this is because of Moore’s own patience and application, and also the fact that he was studying the one work of the Shakespeare corpus whose superficial peculiarities positively scream to the cryptanalyst to notice them: namely, Love’s Labour’s Lost, with its plethora of ‘nonsense’ lines, of which no orthodox critic has been able to make any sense whatever. So that the declension of “Shakespeare”beneath the waves of history – it is rarely mentioned in contemporary discussions, and was dealt with by the Friedmans in theirThe Shakespeare Ciphers Examined (1957) in a seemingly wilfully negligent way – is all the more deplorable and puzzling.

Love’s Labour’s Lost first appeared in 1598 in Quarto, and then again in the First Folio of 1623. A comparison of the two versions shows numerous small alterations and some extra lines (these are all of cryptographic significance) in the latter, which was more carefully set up and printed. Yet the two are substantially the same, with the bulk of the so-called nonsense words, lines and passages preserved intact in the Folio. This alone should serve to exculpate the poor compositor, the favourite scapegoat and whipping boy of the critics; and Moore’s great work is an extended defense of and paean to his expertise, as an instrument of the cipher strategy of Sir Francis Bacon. If the present piece could do something of the same for William Moore I would be well satisfied.

“Shakespeare” extends over 324 pages of demonstration and close reasoning, yet without at all considering Act IV, with its substantial quota of encryptions. My approach here will be to deal with it chapter by chapter, giving generally an overview and summary of Moore’s methods and discoveries, while dwelling a little longer here and there on some of the more spectacular and rigorous examples of his work. This may be thought a somewhat unimaginative approach, but it is a fine way of giving a sense of the thoroughness and integrity of “Shakespeare” as a work of sustained scholarship.

Moore’s thoroughness is indeed a crucial aspect of his work. For this was equally the sine qua non of Bacon’s approach – the Qabalistic-Rosicrucian gematric techniques he employed being somewhat imprecise and non-specific in isolation, yet gathering in strength when considered in context. For example, the Cross of Rosicrucianism is composed of six squares of equal dimensions (think of it as a cube opened out and flattened on the page). Its perimeter is therefore fourteen units in extent, and 14 is also the number of the Hebrew noun ZHB, Zahab, ‘gold’: for gematria yokes each letter of the Hebrew, Greek and Arabic alphabets, as well as the Elizabethan and Trithemian, with which Bacon worked in Love’s Labour’s Lost, with a numerical value. For the Rosicrucians, then, the Cross symbolises the ‘gold’ of the sages, as so memorably described by Eliphas Levi: “The gold of the philosophers is, in religion, the absolute and supreme reason; in philosophy it is truth; in visible nature it is the sun, which is the emblem of the sun of truth… ; in the subterranean and mineral world it is the purest and most perfect gold.” This is all perfectly valid in the religious context, but of little value in the cryptographic, for the number 14 is clearly yoked to many words, and cannot be used with any specificity in isolation. Bacon understood this perfectly; and this was his reason for cramming Love’s Labour’s Lost with instance upon instance of ciphers indicating his authorship of the works of Shakespeare. For with each further instance within the pages of the same play, each discernable behind words or passages that can make no sense at all other than as ciphers, then the probability of the discovered messages being associated with them by chance more closely approaches zero. Needless to say, this crucial point went unremarked by the Friedmans. It would be most interesting to see the results of a full statistical analysis of the play. Perhaps, when the true New Age dawns, and universities discover the funds and the will to pursue this ultimate prize in the humanities, then such an analysis may come to pass.

Inevitably, it will be possible to give in this forum only a small sample of the vast infrastructure of Moore’s edifice.“Shakespeare” is a labour of love in itself, and it would be fascinating to learn a little more about this unknown great man, who was evidently associated with Birminghan University (UK). He begins, in the ideal way for a work of this kind, with the very simplest of the encryptions, before progressing on to more sophisticated. So, the Friedmans’ decision to examine only the first ninety pages of the work is colossally unjust in itself. One can only speculate on their reasons for so doing.

Chapter 1
Act V in the Folio is headed Actus Quartus. This apparent blunder is of significance, as we shall see in a later chapter. Moore quotes in full the dialogue beginning V.i. It is worth repeating a section of it here, to give an idea of the ‘nonsensicality’ with which we are dealing:

Curate: Laus deo, bene intelligo.
Pedant: Bome boon for boon prescian
, a little scratcht, ‘twil serve.
Enter Bragart, Boy
C. Vides ne quis venit?
P. Video, & gaudio.
P. Quari Chirra, not Sirra?
B. Men of peace well incountred.
P. Most millitarie sir salutation.
Boy They have beene at a great feast of Languages, and stolne the scraps.
Clowne O they have liv’d long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy M. hat not eaten thee for a word, for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: Thou art easier swallowed then a slapdragon.
Page Peace, the peale begins.
B. Mounsier, are you not lettered?
Page Yes, yes, he teaches boyes the horne-booke: What is Ab speld backward with horn on his head?
Pedant Ba, puericia with a horne added.
Page Ba most seely sheepe, with a horne: you hear his learning.
Ped Quis quis, thou Consonant?
Page The last of the five Vowels if you Repeat them, or the fift if I.
Ped I will repeat them: a e I.
Page The Sheepe, the other two concludes it o u.
B Now by the salt wave of the mediteranium, a sweet tutch, a quicke vene we of wit, snip snap, quick and home, it reioyceth my intellect, true wit.
Page Offered by a childe to an olde man: which is wit-old.
Ped What is the figure, what is the figure?
Page Hornes.
Ped Thou disputes like an Infant: goe whip thy Gigge.
Page Lend me your Horne to make one, and I will whip about your Infamie unum cita a gigge of a Cuckold’s horne.

Moore makes some general points about the LLL cipher, which we will come to anon. Let us take the opportunity here to deal with the famous ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus’. Sir Edwin Durning-Laurence was of course the first to point out its nature as an anagram of hi ludi, F. Baconis nati, tuiti orbi, ‘These plays, F. Bacon’s offspring, are preserved for the world’. To reiterate: fascinating though this may be, it is worthless in isolation as cryptographic evidence. And Bacon knew this, and knew also that it would be of the highest possible worth in the context of a work that repeated that same message over and over again ad nauseam, so that it would seem to have been conceived for the primary reason of adding Bacon’s signature to the corpus of plays.

Chapter 2
Unum cita in the above dialogue is an example of the simplest kind of cipher, where a single missing vowel is supplied. Here it is ‘o’, to give the Italian Un uomo cita, ‘Name a man’. Baby steps. Yet they can take us far.
Puericia is an Italian word one of whose meanings is ‘simplicity’. So that the Pedant’s answer to the Page’s question can be arranged as: ‘Simplicity, Ba with a horne added’. The Italian for ‘horn’ is corno, to give: ‘Ba-corno’. The ‘Consonant’ so puzzlingly referred to by the pedant in his reply can only refer to this ‘r’, which vitiates the perfect result of ‘Bacono’, i.e. Bacon. So far so good.

Chapter 3
The line-famous for its impenetrability-’Bome boon for boon prescian, a little scratcht, ‘twil serve’ is in fact an example of a Substitutional-Transpositional cipher, using the Trithemian alphabet of twenty-two letters:


Of itself, the cipher result to follow cannot prove anything. It is the context in which it occurs that gives it validity. A high temperature can mean anything. But when combined with a productive cough, solidification of the lung, and debility of the patient, then the diagnosis of pneumonia must be made. Each further instance of a cipher within the confines of the single work of LLL, and associated with words, lines and passages which can have no meaning other than that supplied to them by the cipher, and perhaps pointed to by commentary elsewhere in the text, reduces the probability that the result can be accounted for by chance.
The steps of substitution and transposition give the result:

e.g., BACONO pro BACON
F. B*c*nu * fe

A Latin sentence is clearly implied, and it can only read: ‘F. Baconus fe’ Here, ‘fe’ is the customary abbreviation offecit, ‘made’. The ‘e.g.’ Implies that it must carry on from something preceding it. The missing letters justify and explain the comment ‘a little scratcht, ‘twil serve’. We will see a little later how those letters are supplied. The number of letters in the original sentence is twenty-three, which gives the group number-12-of the letters to be substituted, and the key number-11-or number of places those letters have to be moved to the right in the Trithemian alphabet. The sentence has therefore been ‘a little scratcht’ to provide the group and key numbers of its decipherment.

Chapter 4
The name ‘Don Adriano de Armado’ appears in Act V as ‘Don Adriano de Armatho’.This chapter gives an extended analysis of this variation as a cipher. A stretch of dialogue in I.ii actually concludes with the Boy saying to Don Adriano ‘To prove you a Cypher’.
The name is another example of a Substitutional-Transpositional cipher, in which the two halves ‘Don Adriano’ and ‘de Armatho’ have their own key systems. When substituted and transposed we obtain:

Master VVilliam Sh***spear* Q. Ch.

This is obviously extremely suggestive. But what of ‘Q. Ch’? This is the point of the following, which occurs shortly after the mention of ‘Armatho’:

Curate Vides ne quis venit?
Pedant Video, & gaudio.
Braggart Chirra.
Pedant Quari Chirra, not Sirra?

This last line is asking us to query (Quari) the ‘Ch’ in Chirra, where the word should be the customary ‘Sirra’. The ‘Q. Ch’ in the above is a reference to this. ‘Ch’ is to be queried numerically. By the well-known ‘seal’ system using the Elizabethan alphabet of twenty-four letters (Trithemian plus Y and W), the reverse Digit Seal of ‘Ch’ is 12. This is also the Simple Digit Deal of A K E E which, being substituted for ‘Ch’ in the above, gives:

Master VVilliam Shakespeare

The Don is therefore a portrayal of Will Shakspere (Shakespeare) of Stratford.

Chapter 5
The italicised words in the dialogue quoted above are:

Satis quod sufficit
Don Adriano de Armatho
Novi hominem tanquam te
ne intelligis domine?
Laus deo, bene intelligo
Bome boon for boon prescian
Vides ne quis venit?
Video, & gaudio
Quis quis?
unum cita

Translated and rearranged they become:

Seest thou not who comes?
I see, and rejoice.
Dost thou not understand, sir?
Praise to God! I well understand. I know the man as much as I know thee.
Name a man!
Master William Shakespeare, formerly called BACORNO.
Who? Who? Why BACORNO? Simplicity! That which sufficeth is enough: e.g., BACONO for BACON.
F. Bacon fecit

Chapter 6
Bacon also secreted within the text the keys to unlock the ciphers, so that they remain marginally less deeply hidden than the ciphers themselves. An example is the dialogue in I.ii beginning ‘I have promis’d to study iij. yeres with the Duke’ (Braggart) and ending ‘To prove you a cipher’ (Boy). The Quarto has ‘to study three yeres’; while in the Folio ‘three’ is represented by ‘iij’, with its odd ‘j’, which in print has been edited to appear as ii7. When taken as 117, and combined as 1,11,17, and 7, this in fact gives the four key numbers required for the decipherment of ‘Don Adriano de Armatho’. Whenever the name ‘Don Adriano de Armado’ is varied, it is of cipher significance.
The remarkable line ‘Armathor ath to the side, O a most dainty man’ is a Substitutional-Transpositional cipher which decodes to:

de Armatho is a cipher: 5, 11 to the r
F. Bacon

Bacon is telling us here that 5 of the letters must be moved 11 places to the right. Moore shows in detail how the alterations to the Quarto line ‘Armatho ath toothen side, o a most daintie man’ to give the line examined above, were introduced to improve the cipher.

The key numbers for ‘Don Adriano’ are found by finding the several seal values of two variations of the surname given by the King viz. Armathoes [and] Armadoes Page. The decipherment then stands as:

Don Adriano de Armatho is a Cypher.
Key items: 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 17, 19
F. Bacon

This is reinforced by Costard’s extraordinary phrase ‘And his Page atother side’.

Chapter 7
Page Peace, the peale begins.
B. Mounsier, are you not lettered?
Page Yes, yes, he teaches boyes the horne-booke: What is Ab speld backward with horn on his head?
Pedant Ba, puericia with a horne added.
Page Ba most seely sheepe, with a horne: you hear his learning.
Ped Quis quis, thou Consonant?
Page The last of the five Vowels if you Repeat them, or the fift if I.
Ped I will repeat them: a e I.
Page The Sheepe, the other two concludes it o u.

We have seen in Chapter 2 how the answer to the Page’s question gives the name ‘Bacorno’. The ‘r’ could hardly be avoided, since the Italian word in question is ‘corno’. In an extraordinary piece of cryptanalysis, Moore now shows how Bacon corrected this flaw, to give ‘I, Fr. Bacono’. Other lines in the passage give: ‘”Master William Shakespeare-I, Fr Bacono”‘.
The line ‘Lend me your Horne to make one, and I will whip about your Infamie unum citaa gigge of a Cuckold’s horne’ gives by seal value analysis, astonishingly:

Lend me your BACORNO to make I, Fr. BACONO, and I will alter about your Infamie [I'm in a e. F.] and form, of a e I, a FI. I then of a Cuckold’s BACORNO a man name-FR. BACONO.
Francis Bacon

Moore then speaks for us all in concluding:

He [the reader] will perhaps endeavour to find words, if words there be, that shall adequately describe the man who conceived those lines; which possess a subtlety so extraordinary that it is almost incredible.

Chapter 8
Boy Then I am sure you know how much the gross summe of deus-ace amounts to.
Braggart It doth amount to one more then two.
Boy Which the base vulgar call three.
Braggart True.
Boy Why sir is this such a peece of study? Now here’s three studied, ere you’ll thrice wink, & how easie it is to put yeres to the word three, and study three yeeres in two words, the dancing horse will tell you.

By a complex seal analysis, the following extraordinary result is obtained:

“Mr. W. Shakespeare”

I, F. Bacon F. Baco F. Bacono F. Baconus
I, Fr. Bacon Fr. Baco Fr. Bacono Fr. Baconus
I, Fra. Bacon Fra. Baco Fra. Bacono Fra. Baconus
I, Fran. Bacon Fran. Baco Fran. Bacono Fran. Baconus
I, Franc. Bacon Franc. Baco Franc. Bacono Franc. Baconus
I, Francis Bacon Francis Baco Francesco Bacono Francescus Baconus
I, F. Bacon rosa F. Baco rosa F. Bacono rosa F. Baconus rosa
I, Fr. Bacon rosa Fr. Baco rosa Fr. Bacono rosa Fr. Baconus rosa
I, Fra. Bacon rosa Fra. Baco rosa Fra. Bacono rosa Fra. Baconus rosa
I, Fran. Bacon rosa Fran. Baco rosa Fran. Bacono rosa Fran. Baconus rosa
I, Franc. Bacon rosa Franc. Baco rosa Franc. Bacono rosa Franc. Baconus rosa
I, Francis Bacon rosa Francis Baco rosa Francesco Bacono rosa Francescus Baconus rosa


Here ‘rosa’ refers to the Rosicrucian phrase sub rosa, meaning ‘in secret’. A similar result obtains for the phrases ‘but it is vara fine’ and ‘For euerie one pursents three’ in the following, from V.ii:

Berowne Welcome pure wit, thou part’st a faire fray.
Clowne O Lord sir, they would kno,
Whether the three worthies shall come in, or no.
B. What, are there but three?
C. No sir, but it is vara fine,
For euerie one pursents three.

Chapter 9
The Pedant is severely critical of the Braggart’s (Don Adriano’s) speech. He gives the following litany of errors:

1. speake dout fine, say doubt
2. abhominable, call abominable
3. pronounce debt, not det
4. neighbour vocatur nebour
5. clepeth a halfe, haufe
6. clepeth a Calf, Caufe
7. neigh abreuiated ne

When subjected to seal value analysis, these all give a result similar to the above in Chapter 8.

Chapter 10
In the dialogue from V.i quoted above, the Pedant uses seven Latin words which are misspelled in the text. Bacon later has him say the following, which draws attention to the ‘errors’, and indicates to the decipherer how they should be prepared for analysis:

Pedant Oh I smell false Latine, dunghel for unguem.

These then are the groups to be subjected to seal value analysis:

1. Quari for Quare?
2. ortagriphie for orthographie?
3. inteligis for intelligis?
4. quid for quod?
5. gaudio for gaudeo?
6. puericia for pueritia?
7. hominum for hominem?

These all give a result identical to the grid (lower) portion of the example in Ch.8 above, yet differing in the header, which forms the remarkable sequence: ‘W. Shakespeare’, ‘Will Shakespeare’, ‘William Shakespeare’, ‘Mr. W. Shakespeare’, ‘Mr. Will Shakespeare’, Mr. William Shakespeare’, and ‘Master William Shakespeare’.

Chapter 11
Analysis of the Constable’s ‘Signeor Arme, Arme commends you’ in I,i, and Costard’s ‘Of Dun Adramadio, Dun Adramadio’ in IV.iii (why do they say the names-more variants of Don Adriano de Armado-twice, if not to serve the cipher?) yields a grid and header similar to that found in the examples above.

Jacquenetta says in IV.ii: ‘Good Master Parson be so good as reade mee this letter, it was given me by Costard, and sent me from Don Armatho…’ This is yet another variant of the name. But why does she say ‘from’, when she later states that it was from Berowne? It can only to be to serve the cipher. ‘Don Armatho’ yields an incomplete grid-an insufficiency which is rectified by the addition of the word ‘from’.

Yet another variant-’Don Adriana de Armatho’-is given in IV.i, and this too yields a full grid: an outcome made possible by Bacon’s substitution of ‘a’ for ‘o’ in ‘Adriano’ which lacks, as it stands, a full complement of the necessary seal values. Moore as always demonstrates in detail the mechanism of this emendation.

Chapter 12
Here is another piece of ‘nonsensical’ dialogue, from III.i:

Page A wonder Master, here’s a Costard broken in a shin.
Armado Some enigma, some riddle, come, thy Lenuoybegin.
Clowne No egma, no riddle, no lenuoy, no salue, in thee male sir.

Exhaustive analysis of ‘no egma, ‘ no riddle’, no lenuoy‘, and ‘no salue’, yields complete grids for all.

Chapter 13
-In which more complete grids are demonstrated.

Chapter 14
Let us examine these lines from III.i:

Armado Sirra Costard, I will enfranchise thee.
Clowne O, marrie me to one Francis, I smell some Lenuoy, some Goose in this.

Here ‘O’ bears its customary Elizabethan esoteric meaning of ‘cipher’. Most editors amend ‘Francis’ to ‘Frances’, yet there is no such character in the play. The words should be arranged thus:

CIPHER, marrie me to one.

The cipher is asking us to join ‘Francis’ to ‘one’ to form ‘Francis-one’. Seal value analyses of ‘Lenuoy’ and ‘Goose’ provide the key values for the decipherment of ‘Francis-one’. This is a Substitutional-Transpositional cipher, the first round of analysis of which gives:

VV. S**k*****re-F. Bacon incog***o. Q. c.

We remember that ‘Q’ means in this context ‘query’; and ‘querying’ of the seal values of the letter ‘c’ provides the missing letters of the above, to give:

VV. Shakespeare-F. Bacon incognito.

Further, analyses of ‘I smell some Lenuoy’ and ‘some goose in this’ yield complete grids.

Chapter XV
In III.i the Boy uses the odd word ‘Concolinel’. The Braggart gives us some help in the following lines:

Braggart Sweete Ayer, go tendernesse of years: take this Key, give enlargement to the swaine, bring him festinantly hither…

Seal value analysis of the word ‘Key’ gives us the key numbers required for the decipherment of ‘Concolinel’, to yield:

I, CL : O : Francesco Bacono L.

Replacing ‘C’ and ‘L’ by their Roman numerical values, ‘I’ by its Reverse Digit Seal of 16, and ‘O’ by its Simple Digit Seal of 14, and proceeding then by seal value analysis, we obtain:

‘Master Wm. Shakespeare’
I, Francis Bacon Francis Baco Francesco Bacono Franciscus Baconus
I, Francis Bacon rosa Francis Baco rosa Francesco Bacono rosa Franciscus Baconus rosa

A deficiency in the sue of the word ‘Key’ as an aid to the decipherer is that it is perfectly appropriate in its literal context, and so likely to be overlooked. Bacon therefore, for the Folio version, decided to insert a further help. At the head of this dialogue, the Quarto reads: ‘EnterBraggart and his Boy‘. However, the Folio reads ‘Enter Broggart and Boy‘; and analysis of ‘Broggart’ gives the same key numbers as above.

William Moore’s remarks at this point are worth repeating:

‘Looked upon as a whole-”Concolinel” and its Ciphers within a Cipher; the use of “Key” for providing the essential decipherment data, and the subsequent introduction of “Broggart” for the same purpose-this cryptographic achievement is worthy of special notice. We do not wish to institute comparisons between one example and another of Francis Bacon’s astounding efforts, nor to maintain that any particular Cipher is better than the rest, for they all bear the impress of his wonderful mind; but we may venture to say that, on its general merits, “Concolinel” is one of the cleverest pieces of cryptographic work Francis Bacon ever accomplished’.

Finally, the words ‘Sweet Ayer’, which immediately follow ‘Concolinel’, give precisely the same result, albeit it is a simpler cipher. This was Bacon’s way of affirming the solution of the more complex cipher above.

Chapter 16
Costard the clown is an ideal vehicle for the nonsense words in Love’s Labour’s Lost. It may be objected that these words serve this function, and not that of any postulated cipher. However, this is contradicted by the internal evidence. For example, in V.ii he refers to Pompey as ‘Pompion’: consistently with his role, you might think. Yet in the same stretch of dialogue he refers to him correctly as ‘Pompey’. When analyzing the name, Bacon found ‘Pompey’ to lack the set of numbers for a complete Shakespearean Seal. ‘Pompion’, on the other hand, does contain those numbers, and in addition, the numbers for several Baconian Seals. The creation of a complete grid required the addition of extra words; and the analysis of the phrase ‘Pompion the great sir’ indeed provides the ideal result.

In III.i Costard says: ‘What’s the price of this yncle? i. d. no…’ Analysis of ‘this yncle i. d. no’ (which, as a cipher, the previous four words indicate) yields a complete grid.

Chapter 17
Moore demonstrates five more instances of grids, each complete with a Shakespearean Seal and a full set of Baconian Seals. Included is the phrase ‘Quartus for Quintus’, to give an explanation for the title ‘Actus Quartus’ at the head of Act V.

Chapter 18
There are no less than eleven complete grids secreted in the stretch of dialogue in V.ii that begins with the Queen’s ‘Well bandied both, a set of Wit well played.’

Chapter 19
Moore examines the concluding lines of the play: ‘The Words of Mercurie/are harsh after the songes of Apollo’. There appeared in 1641 an important treatise on cryptography, which includes inter alia a discussion of Bacon’s biliteral cipher. The title page does not bear the author’s name, but the dedication and the address ‘To The Reader’ are both subscribed ‘I.W.’. This is usually taken to stand for the cleric John Wilkins, and the book was reprinted in his collected mathematical and philosophical works some years later. However, doubt has been expressed as to whether he was in truth the author. Its title is Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger. And so here we have a treatise on cryptography which is linked explicitly to Mercury, messenger of the Gods, and mediator between the lower and upper worlds. In one of the commendatory poems which follow the title page, by Sir Francis Kinaston, Mercury is referred to as the god who taught men hieroglyphics, and how to unfold ‘hidden Characters’. Bacon is expressing, in these final two lines of the play (Quarto version-they are followed in the Folio by the single line ‘You that way; we this way’), his opinion of the words he was compelled to introduce in his role as cryptographer-the numerous mutilated words such as ‘ortagriphie’, ‘nebour’, and ‘pursents’-and verbal monstrosities such as ‘Armatho ath toothen side’, which must have jarred on his Apollonian ear.

Chapter 20
The Quarto title of the play is ‘Love’s Labor’s lost’, the Folio title ‘Love’s Labor’s lost’: acronymically, LLl for both. Why exactly is it not ‘Love’s Labour is lost?’ First let us examine this stanza of alliterative verse given by Holofernes in IV.ii:

If Sore be sore, then ell to Sore,
makes fiftie sores O sorell:
Of one sore I an hundred make
by adding but one more L.

Every line is in the third person except the last, where ‘I’ appears. We remember from the decipherment of the word ‘Concolinel’ that the significance of the letters ‘C’ and ‘L’ lies in their Roman numerical values, and that 100 is the Simple Seal value of ‘Francis Bacon’. This is the point of ‘I an hundred make’, where Bacon is speaking through Holofernes. The verse indicates that ‘L’ is 50, and ‘LL’ 100′. This is also the meaning of the title, which divides into LL and L (small letter). 100 is also the Simple Digit Seal Value of ‘Master Wm. Shakespeare’, while 50 is the Simple Seal of ‘Rosa’. Hence the title the play encrypts the message: ‘Master Wm. Shakespeare-Francis Bacon in secret’.

Finally, the title itself bears absolutely no relation to the play, which ends in happy marriages. Its significance lies in the colossal labour Bacon must have expended to check the numerical seal values of his cipher words. It was a ‘labour of love’ which was ‘lost’ beneath the literal surface of the play. Moore does not mention Sufism, and only briefly Rosicrucianism, but love is absolutely central to both of them, and so the play’s title has a very deep resonance indeed.


The story of the Sufi influence on Sir Francis Bacon remains to be told. Mather Walker in his articles on the sirbacon.org site, and Idries Shah have both given tantalising glimpses of it. Let us approach the close of this piece with a passage from Shah’s The Sufis (Anchor, 1971, pp. 203-4). Gematria and hidden meanings are central to Sufi literature; and the following passage could almost have been written, mutatis mutandis, by William Moore in “Shakespeare”: so germane are Bacon’s cryptographic techniques to the Sufi precedents. The word ‘China’ in Sufi literature is a code word for mind concentration, a prerequisite for proper psychic development:

CHINA. In Persian CHYN (letters Che, Ya, Nun). Equivalent numbers: 3, 10, 50. Before translating numbers, the Persian letter Che (CH) is first exchanged for its nearest equivalent in the Abjad scheme, which is J. The three sums totaled: 3 + 10 + 50 = 63. Separated into tens and units: 60 + 3. These numbers retranslated into letters: 60 = SIN; 3 = JIM. The word we now have to determine is a combination of S and J. SJ (pronounced SaJJ) means “to plaster or coat, as with clay”. Reverse the order of the letters (a permissible change, one of very few allowed by the rules) and we have the word JS. The word is pronounced JaSS. This means “to inquire after a thing; to scrutinize (hidden things); to ascertain (news).” This is the root of the word for “espionage”, and hence the Sufi is called the Spy of the Heart. To the Sufi the scrutinization for the purpose of ascertaining hidden things is an equivalent, poetically speaking, with the motive for concentrating the mind.


It comes a something of a surprise to the reader to find, at the completion of his seemingly exhaustive analysis, that Moore has barely scratched the surface of Act IV. There remains a quantity of ‘nonsense’ lines with which he failed to engage, undoubtedly because of their close similarity in nature those he has already examined. He simply did not need them to make his point. And so here is an opportunity for a research Masters at least, if only a candidate could be found. For Bacon’s time has not yet arrived. When it does, a new wave of seekers will thunder irresistibly into shore to shatter the feeble tumbledowns of Stratfordian orthodoxy, and reveal, Mercury-like, the secrets of the deeper sands beneath. Come the day.

Back to top

Revealing the Art of Acting

Francis Bacon: Revealing the Art of Acting

Deslie McClellan

Email: familyplayhouse@rcn.com
Website: http://www.familyplayhouse.com

I was seven years old when my dramatics teacher introduced me to the character of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was my first acquaintance with William Shakespeare. Playing the part of this magical sprite opened up a whole new world to me—a theatrical life full of fancy and laughter, high passion and chivalry, truth and grave wisdom. As I progressed in my acting studies, nothing held more power over my heart than the characters of William Shakespeare and the poetic spirit that brought them so vividly alive in my imagination. To a romantic young girl, who couldn’t make up her mind whether she wanted to be an actress or a saint, the works of Shakespeare offered a path to both.

When I was twelve years old and preparing for a grade examination in speech and drama, my teacher handed me a sheet of paper with information on William Shakespeare. A week later, after I had memorized the meager facts about his life, she told me that the man from the village with the pretty name of Stratford-Upon-Avon was not, in fact, the author of the Plays. William Shakespeare, she said, was merely a pen name, just as Mark Twain was a pen name for Samuel Clemens. The person who really wrote the Plays was Francis Bacon. There was, it seems, a great mystery surrounding Francis Bacon.

I didn’t know at the time why I felt excited; I just knew Iwas excited. I had been disappointed with the Stratford man. For someone who wrote so eloquently and understood exactly what people think and feel, especially when they fall in love, I expected William Shakespeare to be at least a nobleman or a knight, not a butcher’s apprentice who got drunk on his days off. The revelation that he was not the author of the Plays restored my innocent faith. As I think back now on the scene, it did more than that: it kindled a fire in my heart—a kind of dawning light upon a future quest. That fire grew as the years went by. Its clear, bright flame acted as a searchlight to penetrate that ‘great mystery’ hinted at by my teacher—a mystery not only of a mistaken identity but also of a man’s secret life. It was a quest that I was very motivated to undertake, for nothing less than a grand love affair had grown up between William Shakespeare and myself through the enchanted medium of his plays.

In discovering Francis Bacon, I also discovered why the Shakespeare plays so overmastered my heart, for the man is his art; his soul and spirit embody it. To know Francis Bacon is to love, nay, fall in love, with the art of acting. It was enough, of course, that the Plays were wonderful to read–and millions attest to this–but to act in them became a singular, transforming joy for me. And I was not the only actor so affected. To act Shakespeare, and act it well, is a thrilling experience. It is also the highest recommendation of an actor’s art. Playing Shakespeare is pure self-enlightened interest.

Why does Shakespeare generate such a special excitement among actors and all those who love the theater? There is a simple answer: the Plays possess greatness as actable works of art. The elements that make them so supremely theatrical are the very same elements that make them unforgettable literature. These elements are as follows: noble vision (or intention), high theme, unity of story action, richly wrought characterizations, and dramatic dialogue that expresses the most exquisite pathos and sweetness. The wonder of the Plays is that all these elements are bound together by an unprejudiced and altruistic love for humanity—in other words, by Francis Bacon’s mysterious spirit.

In this article, I wish to discuss the first of these elements:


Bacon’s noble vision (or intention)

Francis Bacon saw his fellow man through the lens of a practical idealism. It was a vision of man not as he actually was, but as he could be (or could be again, as in a ‘new’ Atlantis). This “mountaintop of the Ideal[1]” was the vantage point from which Bacon conceived his colossus of works. Among his masterpieces, it is the Plays that provide the practical means of bringing his vision near to the soul of man, since drama is the most human of the arts. He understood that belief in the ideal was man’s dearest possession; that the pure instincts born of idealism, allied to reason, are what make life noble and beautiful. He kept tryst with the ideal, suffusing his art with it. It is why the Shakespeare plays and sonnets possess a spiritual light and loveliness that never fails to touch the beauty in our hearts.

It is Art that can most expressly communicate idealism, for Art, or true Art, enhances everyday life to give it a divine glow and heroism. (Bacon used the words “rareness” and “magnaminity.”) It is the purpose and duty of art and the artist (and specifically dramatic art and the dramatic artist) to “instruct the minds of men unto virtue[2]”—in other words, to bring alive to our memories the virtuous (or divine) life. Bacon believed, as he quoted Plato, “that virtue if she could be seen would move great love and affection”[3]. Virtue isseen and represented in a lively and compelling way in drama for the very reason that it is “drenched in flesh and blood[4]” rather than merely preached about philosophically.

Drama “paints our virtue and goodness to the life [of the imaginative characters] and makes them in a sort conspicuous[5]”. Honor, courage, fidelity, modesty, temperance, trueheartedness—these are the virtues worth believing in. They are the virtues the Plays teach. And though “the course of true love never did run smooth[6]” true love never dies as long as we hold the vision of the ideal.

By perfecting and exalting nature, by distilling and contriving the particulars of nature’s virtues, to paraphrase Bacon, “Poesy conduces not only to delight but also to magnanimity and morality. Whence it may be fairly thought to partake somewhat of a divine nature; because it raises the mind and carries it aloft, accommodating the shows of things to the desires of the mind, not (like reason and history) buckling and bowing down the mind to the nature of things[7]”.

“Wise men and great philosophers,” he wrote, “account it [dramatical poesy] as a musical bow by which men’s minds may be played upon[8]”. This metaphor suggests that drama has the power to incline the mind upon which it plays to yield its consent, much as a magician would, with the subtlest movement of his staff, charm the spectator into coming under submission of his magic spell. “Poesy is as a dream of learning, a thing sweet and varied, and that would be thought to have in it something divine, a character which dreams likewise affect[9]”. If Bacon believed that art should contain in it the magic of “something divine”—that is, the concentrate of divinity, or virtue, then he certainly understood the high-minded significance of the theater and of its potent effect on men’s behavior.


Recalling Colin Clout’s words in The Shepherd’s Calendar,by “peerless Poesie’s aspiring wit[10]” we are given wings to fly heavenward and draw down the subtle fire that can transform our lives and our creative labor into something that is fine and beautiful. For this is exactly what Francis Bacon accomplished with the Shakespeare plays. Bacon wanted the Plays to speak to the best in us—of hope, courage, persistence in adversity, and generosity in triumph. He saw drama as a mirror of life, but a mirror titled upward in reflecting that life—“toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging[11]” – to quote actress Greer Garson, and not tilted down into the troubled vistas of conflict and despair. For without reference to humor, to hope, to faith, or to some rainbow hue of promise, we destroy the possibility of transcendence, which is what life (and therefore theater) is all about.

Russian director Constantin Stanislavski believed that “every human being deep down within himself possesses a natural longing to bring out all that is best within him[12]”. Hamlet spoke of that ‘best’ with unforgettable eloquence: “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals![13]” Our best is all we can be. All we can be is God, or at least God in the making.

Stanislavski also stated that art should lend beauty and nobility to life, and “whatever is beautiful and noble has the power to attract[14]”. The Plays contain what is ‘beautiful and noble.’ It is why their appeal is irresistible. By bringing us in touch with the highest and best in ourselves, Bacon is really bringing us in touch with our original (though long-since forgotten) divinity—our true nature. The drama of the Plays “raises the mind and carries it aloft” to the beauty of the divine, not just the divine in a heaven far away, but also the divine that lives in each of us as that Spirit of God within.

Bacon created the Plays as the alchemical fourth part of his Great Instauration for the purpose of advancing a higher learning among mankind. The end of that learning, or true knowledge, is the discovery of the mystery of divine love. He set forth “actual types and models” of man’s nature in the form of imaginatively drawn characters whether from history, fable, or fiction, “choosing such subjects as are at once the most noble in themselves and the most different one from another, that there may be an example in every kind.” In this way, “the entire process of the mind, and the whole fabric and order of invention, from the beginning to the end in certain subjects and those various and remarkable should be set, as it were, before the eyes[15]”.

By these theatrical “inventions,” Bacon is able to enter quietly, but deeply, into the hearts of men–even the hardest of hearts–with vivid and living examples of and love for the eternal ideals of beauty, truth, and wisdom—beauty as a moral principle, truth as ‘true knowledge’ of oneself in the image of God, and wisdom as the ‘wise dominion’ over the self. Exhibited with a poetic form both fitting and rare in its sweetness, his comedies, tragedies, and histories powerfully communicate Bacon’s noble vision, and not merely to those who are open to his illuminating rays, but also to minds “choked and overgrown[16]” with ignorance.

“The entry of truth depends on the mind capable to lodge and harbor it[17]” wrote Bacon. This is an important point. The Plays have such a panoramic diversity and depth of incident and character that they are universal in their appeal. Much like the King James Version of the Bible, the Plays are layered in their meaning and potency to communicate the divine mysteries of the soul. There is something in them for everyone, from the littlest child to the aged philosopher. As Bacon told us in The Advancement of Learning, God finds many ways to reveal and conceal His secrets according to our individual capacity, “expressing and unfolding the mysteries as they may be best comprehended by us[18]”. He uses ingenious means to open up our understandings, “as the form of the key is fitted to the ward of the lock[19]”.

Bacon saw life—all of life—as a crucible, wherein the base elements of our human nature could be transmuted into the gold of our angel or divine nature. Thus the Plays are a kind of spiritual map that leads us through the labyrinth of man’s psyche, with an eye—always an inner eye—to the eternal. In the Plays “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; how they disclose themselves, though repressed and concealed; how they work; how they vary; how they are enwrapped one within another; how they fight and encounter one with another; and many more particulars of this kind[20]…” (How the characters of Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello come vividly to mind!)

The Shakespeare plays, in this sense, provide our best instruction for playing (and playing well) the game of life, for in them we become intimately acquainted with the inner psychology of man, and thus our own personal psychology. We learn how to recognize the true from the false, how to correct the diseased “affections and perturbations of the mind,” and how to face injustice, betrayal, hardship, and suffering with courage and hope. Thus, Francis Bacon acts as our “Captain strategematic,” to borrow from The Art of Poesie. He is our navigator, physician, and spiritual mentor. Indeed, “poets and writers of history are the best doctors of this knowledge touching…the internal government of the mind[21]”. The Plays are a corrective medicine that has just enough sugar and spice mixed in to make it palatable to the soul.

Bacon never failed to apply eternal principles to life’s realities. It was his way of making sure that we see beyond the mere pageant of life, and, in the spirit of Aesop, do not take ourselves too seriously. As Bacon tells us in the words of Jaques: “All the world’s a stage, /And all the men and women merely players:/ They have their exits and their entrances[22]”. Life is a play, and we are all players. What matter the part one is assigned? What matter the misery and suffering? To play the part well, with joy and courage, humility and faith—that is the essential thing, whether the player wear a crown or motley. We play our role upon the stage of life to learn the lessons of right action, purifying our heart in the process so it can love more purely. At the proper time we make our exit, only to return again upon that stage in a new role and garment of consciousness, carrying with us the momentum of the virtue we internalized “by an inward assent and belief,” from our former roles.

With the backdrop of the eternal before our eyes, our souls have true co-measurement of who and what we are,and of God’s dreams for us. Through the right use of God’s law, ultimately the law of love, we make those heaven-inspired dreams come true. Bacon counted on the fact that when we look at life through such a pristine mirror of faith, hope, and charity, we experience something of the divine, and that ‘something of the divine’ is transforming.

Bacon wrote of Dramatical Poesy: “For the stage is capable of no small influence both of discipline and of corruption. Now of corruptions in this kind we have enough; but the discipline has in our times been plainly neglected[23]”. Used for the purpose of discipline—that is, training the soul to exercise sounder and truer judgment, drama is a compelling tool, for it coaxes the spirit of man toward “a more ample greatness, a more perfect order, and a more beautiful variety than it can anywhere (since the Fall) find in nature. And…since the successes and issues of actions as related in true history are far from being agreeable to the merits of virtue and vice, Poesy corrects it, exhibiting events and fortunes as according to merit and the law of providence[24]”. Bacon is here commenting not merely upon the makeover that Art performs on the long grey line of everyday existence, but also on the fundamental concept of the duality of role-playing in real life and on the stage. In simple terms, he saw drama as a means to teach us how to act better in real life. Without soiling our garments (of consciousness) we may learn the consequences of the free will choice of life—that which is the reward of virtue, and that which is the consequence, or wages, of sin, “according to merit and the law of Providence.”

Clearly, Bacon believed that this is how God, in his divine mercy, intended life to be: that we need not descend into utter darkness and despair to learn the fruit of right action, that we need not live out a life where “sorrows are our schoolmasters[25]” because we did not wisely rule our passions. The great drama of life is to realize our soul’s potential. As it’s true in life, so it’s true in drama—only through the climbing, not the leveling, can our best selves be realized.

As he tells us in The Art of English Poesie, Poesy acts as a crystal glass through which men can see their own image in the likeness of God’s—“all that [is] exceeding fair and comely…a representer of the best, most comely and beautiful images or appearances of things to the soul and according to their very truth [as heaven hath revealed that truth to man]. If otherwise, then doth it breed Chimeras and monsters in man’s imaginations, and not only in his imaginations, but also in all his ordinary actions and life which ensues[26]”. In other words, if the poet’s inventions do not resemble man in the image of God, then theater is full of corruption, serving as a false glass that does then breed unlawful sensual pleasures and monsters in man’s imagination, and not only in his imagination, but also in the actions of his life. We might then conclude that Bacon sees the true poet as a practical magician of Light, a Prospero, teaching the power of true knowledge to free the soul, while the poet who corrupts the conscience of man is a sorcerer, a Sycorax, who would snuff out that lamp of God within and breed the beast of ignorance, a Caliban.

The temple of man is sacred unto the Almighty. Nothing should be mirrored in man that is not first correspondent in the crystalline globe of God’s mind. To paraphrase Bacon in The Advancement of Learning: God has truly framed the mind of man as of a glass, capable of receiving the light of His perfection, in order that man may desire that perfection as much as he desires his own eyes to receive the light of the sun.

Theater is the most powerful way to coax the divine spirit of man “as it were through a veil…to enable each one to receive and draw in such holy mysteries [of the ideal of the divine self][27]”. Why? Because theater is life (both the inner and outer life of man) heightened and held captive inside a make-believe frame that is outside time and space. The movement of life inside that frame, whether proscenium stage or celluloid film, is dynamic. It is made real, energizing, and forceful by the living imagination of the actors and the audience. When we watch a play, what we see and feel is larger than life—more vibrant and often more persuasive in its intensity than real life. This is so because within that magical frame the essence of life has been concentrated. Even while representing the full spectrum of good and evil in his characters, Bacon made sure that the concentrated essence he set before the eyes of the audience in “lively representation” was of the noblest and purest substance. He himself referred to it as “celestial dew” or “the excellent dew of knowledge[28]”.

The true magic of the Plays is that they address not only the mind and emotions of the audience, but also the inner world of the spirit, for Bacon understood that only at the level of the spirit—one with the divine spirit—can the soul receive that “excellent dew of knowledge,” and experience self-transcendence. He knew that he could not teach wisdom if he could not reach the spirit of man. The mind and emotions are easily manipulated into worshipping idols, but the inner spirit, where ideals live as fiery coals, is aligned to God. There alone is the altar of communion between divinity and humanity. The mind may create its own spirit idol, but not the inner spirit, which is copyrighted Imprimatur: God.

Because Bacon brought this noble intention to his art, the Plays provide the most poignant, the most perceptive, and the most penetrating energy of life to compel a soul higher. This then is the reason for drama. This is the reason for the enactment of sequences and slices of life: not to downgrade and depress the mind and heart, nor to titillate the senses, but to give a slice of infinity in time and space so that the souls who look through the proscenium wall may capture a vision and rise one step higher. The more engaging and entertaining the drama, the more effectively will that vision be felt and understood. The benefits for the actor playing the roles on the stage are even more profound: To walk in the shoes of different men and women, to enter into the spiral and the coil of their consciousness, is to increase one’s own understanding of self, while adding to that self successive layers of the nobler consciousness of the many ‘others’ he has the privilege to play on the stage. It is like trying on Joseph’s coat of many colors.

Though actors were not thought highly of in Bacon’s time, he doubtless understood, as did the playwrights of ancient Attica, that the actor can have a powerful influence for good when he unites art and life to the glory of God. Bacon would have agreed with Stanislavski: “The actor is the standard bearer of what is fine. Unless the theater can ennoble you, make you a better person, you should flee from it. Remember this from the very beginning of your term of service to art and prepare yourselves for this mission. Develop in yourselves the necessary self-control, the ethics, and discipline of a public servant destined to carry out into the world a message that is fine, elevating, and noble[29]”.

The actor’s task is to illuminate man’s spirit by revealing the startling beauty behind life’s masks of comedy and tragedy. “It is the faith of the actor, holding the torch handed him by the poet, that illumines every mind, every soul, and every sensibility[30]” wrote Sarah Bernhardt. She herself played only those roles that she felt possessed the “boldness, penetration, and luminosity” that could move and uplift the audience “toward the conquest of the beautiful.” That is what all the great actors of the past believed and expressed in their memoirs, especially those whose fame was wrought from their Shakespearean performances—actors such as David Garrick, Sarah Siddons, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Italian Tommaso Salvini and Eleanora Duse, American actors Edmund Kean and Edwin Booth, as well as the brilliant Sarah Bernhardt.

In speaking of how theater could be an influence for corruption, Bacon was a prophet, for there are few playwrights, directors, or actors today who cherish the high faith of these elder actors, or bring to their art the same noble intention. It is a fact that much of what we see in movies and on television is corrupt. Actors compete in prime time for roles that are lascivious, sleazy, and degrading (none more craven than those exhibited on the Reality TV shows). If we want to experience simple dignity and spiritual purity in acting roles, we have to watch the movies of the classically trained actors of a more romantic era—those of the distinguished repertory tradition, such as Laurence Olivier, Ronald Colman, Greer Garson, Leslie Howard, John Gielgud, Dame Edith Anderson, Dame May Whitty, Robert Donat, Gladys Cooper, Alex Guinness, Irene Dunne, and the ever gallant C. Aubrey Smith. These artists contributed a polish and elegance to the art of acting, personifying Hamlet’s prototype actor in every way. Their presence, whether on the stage or screen, was lucid and exalting.

No matter the madness or sanity, the humility or haughtiness, the innocence or immodesty, the gentleness or cruelty of the roles portrayed, these actors had a high sense of theater. They brought to every line of dialogue and every subtle gesture the command and integrity of their own hearts. They understood that theater is all about expressing the hope of something purer and better than what man lives and experiences in the real world. That was the noble intention and ‘grace’ they brought to their characters—a grace that American author Peggy Noonan describes as “a sensitivity, mercy, generosity of spirit, and a courtesy so deep it amounts to beauty[31]”. In my bookActing Magic, I analyze the various dramatic performances of many of these golden-age acting greats and compare them to those of our modern-day actors. Though I do not have space here to repeat everything I have written, suffice to say that we cannot have meaningful drama if actors do not found their art on moral and ethical moorings, for these are the “great bases for eternity[32]” that have long proven the making of the true hero and the true heroine, both on the stage and in real life.

It all goes back to Bacon’s vision. Whenever the ideal is appealed to in art, we have noble intention. By it, the actor lets his audience see the struggle of the soul to be true, not false; to strive after good, not evil (or suffer the consequences of that evil and grow as a result); and to have faith, not despair. Why do these intangibles matter? Because life is all about striving toward what is free and pure and good, no matter the personal price to be paid. In life, the ideal is greater than the reality because the ideal is what endures and gives life its meaning, romance, and preciousness. Imbued with noble intention, acting can be beautiful and complete in its magic. Bacon appealed to the best in us in the Plays because he knew that it is to the authentic light that the spectators bring the candles of their own hopes and dreams to be lit. His Plays are revisited time and time again in our hearts and imaginations because they fulfill the soul’s universal yearning for the divine ideal, for completeness, for wholeness.

If the task of the actor is to inspire others to live their lives more beautifully, this task is thwarted today by two present obstacles: firstly, the cynical vision of most of our entertainment makers as expressed through their “realist” subject matter, and secondly, the prevalence among our popular actors of “method acting”—an introspective approach to characterization that places far too much emphasis on the actor and his own reflected glory.

Of the first obstacle, we have a long history of realist drama with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and John Galsworthy, to mention a few. These writers asserted that imitation was the first aim of art and that the stage picture needed to be a photograph and not a painter’s ideal conception; however, their photograph of reality was explicit and selective. They chose only slices of human existence that fit their idea of life in its anguished state, and they found it necessary to pry into dark and hidden motives of abnormal behavior. Consequently, the drama of realism was characterized by pathological, criminal, or sexual-psychoanalytical components—with an obsessive amount of shocking or sensational revealment.

Multiply these same components ten times over, remove all moral guidelines, add in new genres of horror, dark fantasy, and pornography, insinuate a progressive social or political agenda, and we have a fair description of a good portion of today’s dramatic fare. Gone is the idealism. Gone is the love of military virtue. Gone is that subtler motive of self-sacrifice clothed with nobility, and that rare sweetness in the depiction of young love that we have grown to love so well in Shakespeare’s portraits. Much of our modern drama is as unlike Shakespearean drama in its vision as night is from day. It is, like our culture, careless, even derisive, of what is pure in heart, high in faith, and perfect in intention. It is neither instructive of a higher way, nor vibrantly theatrical.

Like the earlier social dramatists, Hollywood writers focus on hard-core realism. They have sacrificed the ideal of the divine self upon the altar of their idol, the corrupted human self. To paraphrase Bacon, we cannot fit the macro divine image (the mystical and sacred) into the puny micro frame (of the profane and human). Yet this is exactly what many of our industry artists are trying to do. They delight in the exploration of man’s perverted passions and conflicted emotions at the expense of the cultivation of his true nature. Though our humanity is the “rich effluvium…the waste and the manure and the soil,” to quote Ezra Pound, from which our Tree of Life grows, it is no more than that. If the purpose of art is to advance man toward self-knowledge, focusing almost exclusively on the corrupted ‘waste’ of human nature, though a valid subject for anatomy, will not lead us heavenward. If Bacon has taught us anything it is that “our humanity is a poor thing, except for the divinity that stirs within us[33]”.

Celebrities preach to us that society needs correcting, while promoting themselves as the priests and mentors of that correction. Though they congratulate themselves (at the Academy Awards and Emmy presentations) that they are exposing society’s ills, while freeing men from a confining, puritanical morality, they are merely trying to promote and give legitimacy to their own muddied fiction of life. To view life through the meaner and coarser lens of cynicism reflects a jaded perception of man and of the higher good. Too many of our celebrity actors display the ‘fallen man’ syndrome, or what Bacon described as “that proud and imperative appetite of Moral knowledge, defining the laws and limits of Good and Evil, with an intent…to revolt from God and to give laws unto himself[34]”. According to Bacon, those who have not the single eye on the enduring ideal or do not “have wits of such sharpness and discernment that they can of themselves pierce the veil [between the human and the eternal[35]]” are neither good teachers nor good [dramatic] poets. Only those with “a purified intellect, purged from fancies and vanity, and yet yielded and absolutely rendered up to Divine Oracles [that is, capable of receiving the impulses of the spirit], can render to Faith [our divinely invested hopes] “the tributes of Faith[36]”.

Bottom line: Great artists, like great art, make a martyrdom of the things of the divine, not of corruptible man.

When Bacon is talking about art, he is referring to true art—that is, art that is a reflection of God’s original artwork, which is Nature. God’s nature is clearly evident in what we refer to as ‘mother nature.’ But the ancient truths, which we call the mysteries of gnosis, refer to the nature of man, which is equally, in its pristine and original state, made perfect in God’s image. So Shakespeare uses art to show us the gold of that divine nature, while encouraging us to strive toward it. Human nature that is less than the gold is dealt with mercifully, but at no time given moral equivalence with the divine nature. As Bacon instructs, Nature is as God made us and as He beholds us. Art should be the mirror of this and not of man-made reality, which is, after all, nothing more than passing illusion.

Indeed, reality has precious little to do with art at all, especially reality that is a clinical slice of disillusioned living or heightened sexualized fantasy. In a 1983 BBC television interview, Bette Davis said: “The terrible thing about acting today is that it’s all so real. You can sit on a street corner and see real people…Acting is larger than life.” Theatrical life must be larger than life—brighter and more glorious. We go to the theater not to experience actuality but to transcend it. That is the true magic of theater.

Of the second obstacle—the cult-like popularity of method acting, much has been written. ‘Method’ puts the spotlight on the actor as he surgically dissects his role, searching out its organic truth by discovering that truth in himself. As a result, the actor “becomes” his role: The life of the character and the life of the actor are one. It is not possible for a character role to breathe with spirit when the actor fills up that role with his ego. The intrusion of the egoic mind with its obsessive emotion always cancels out that luminous space of clarity and creative stillness, wherein all magic is possible. The role inevitably becomes an inflated image of the actor himself rather than a theatrical life that can be transcendent and meaningful to the audience.

Stanislavski told actors to “love art in yourself and not yourself in art.”[37] This is a difficult thing to do when the actor has no distance from the character he creates on the stage or screen. He also wrote that narcissism, or the exploitation of art for personal celebrity, is the poison (“corrupting bacilli)[38]” that cripples the actor as a human being and destroys him as an artist in the theater.

Self-love in art as in life is the antithesis of altruistic love, which is ever pure and unfolds gently within the heart, like the petals of a rose. It is hard to imagine how far the celebrity star system has departed both from Stanislavski’s ideal and from Bacon’s noble vision. If young actors see their profession merely as a ticket to stardom and wealth and life on the fast track, without obligation to the profession they serve or to its aesthetic and altruistic purposes, then dignity and high-mindedness, no less than the good and the beautiful they impart, become things of the past.

Where there is a lack of high conception in the creation of character or a desire to tear down all that is beautiful and true, the actor is nothing more than a stand-in for a photographic recording of life in its temporal and corrupted state. Actors fail themselves and their profession when they espouse lewdness and condemn purity, when they scorn life’s opportunities and embrace cynicism, when they mock love’s ideal and forget the beauty of the divine. Unfortunately, in their feverish attempts to suit the play to the age, many theater companies have coarsened the rendering of even the great classic works—sweeping away all things of grace and noble intention. This is no more apparent than in the staging of the Shakespeare plays. I have written about this extensively in my book Acting Magic, and include here an excerpt:

“It is rather the exception today to experience ‘Shakespeare’ as it was originally conceived. Actors often lack the careful and polished stage technique and poetic spirit to perform it fittingly…The spiritual vibrancy of the Plays is often diminished in favor of a more sensually edgy composition that sacrifices poetic cadence to dull, prosaic rhythms that grind out a sexual subtext that was not there in the original writing. Even renowned English troupes prevent the audience from reaching the loftier heights that the verse inspires by grounding the Plays in a dense sexual magnetism, framed by dissonant music and anachronistic costuming and sets.

“The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Stratford-Upon-Avon during the 1999 season exemplified this trend…Titania paraded before us as ‘The Great Whore.’ Her fairies, one of whom bawdily seduced Puck in the opening scene, were sluts of differing preferences. Oberon, his bald head and naked breast marked with cultist symbols, wove a dark, satanic presence as he performed mudras over the players and the audience—all this to a voodoo music score that throbbed out its frenzied beat while spotlights crisscrossed the room, casting a luminescence that simulated a speakeasy or a red light district.

“Oberon and Puck both made their entrances from beneath the stage floor, emerging out of a red smoke that reminded one of the “mist and murk” of Hell’s maw from which the conjuring Lemurs rose in Goethe’s Faust.Hermia and Helena, with their shortened hems and high heeled shoes, made their respective appearances as ladies of the night, while their lovers, Lysander and Demetrius, wore gangster trench coats and carried machine guns. The spectacle of scantily clad Bottom and Titania in her fairy bower (a double bed lowered from the ceiling) fit an R-rated category of public exhibitionism. In the scenes featuring the rustic actors, every conceivable sexual and homosexual meaning was insinuated into the verse…

“The director and cast used their exceptional talents and most privileged reputation to hoodwink their audience, duping them into believing that this was “enlightened” Shakespeare, or Shakespeare as it should be performed in these progressive days. In fact, the audience experienced nothing that spoke to the heart at all, nothing that brought the beauty of the verse into the soul’s keeping[39]”.

With the hope of drawing in a younger audience during their 2006 Complete Works Festival, the RSC continued the trend of giving the Plays a modern face-lift. Romeo and Juliet portrayed “erotically charged” encounters of cartel-crossed lovers in Mafia Sicily. Instead of the innocence and spiritual beauty that we have long associated with Juliet’s character, and of whom Bacon wrote with such tender care, we were shown a slip of a girl for whom, as one reviewer wrote, “sex and death became inseparable.”

The Tempest was even more radical. The setting of the Bermudas (intended to conjure the magic of a golden-age Atlantis) was changed to the icy and barren wastes of Antarctica. This transplant of the story ruptured the play’s coherence and the emotional life of the characters. The play opened with a large screen movie of a modern-day shipwreck. Once the ship sank, Prospero appeared center stage in a gruesome animal skin. Miranda, dressed like a 7th grader in a school tunic, Eskimo coat, short sox, and rock-climbing boots, was a cipher-like presence of utter stupidity from the first scene to the last. Patrick Stewart, in the role of the visionary Prospero, diminished the noble mien of his character by making him cower before Ariel.

Though Ariel is androgynous, Shakespeare addresses her as “delicate Ariel.” We therefore imagine a feminine sylph of the air, who embodies the grace and enchantment of nature’s elemental kingdom The Ariel of this production was a disembodied male spirit. He wore a black robe, set off by white face and greasy, slicked-back hair to enhance his spectral, ghostlike appearance. It created a nightmarish effect, best described by Gordon Parsons in his August 9th, 2006 review for the Morning Star daily: “With a chainsaw voice [Ariel] rises like a death’s head from a burning brazier and later from a ghastly cannibalized hamper as a blood-soaked skeleton.” Apparently, the director intended to showcase the principal influence of this “enlightened” dark spirit (an oxymoron in itself) over Prospero—thus ignoring Shakespeare’s conception of Prospero as a masterful and divinely inspired alchemist, endowed with a mysterious wisdom.

When you diminish or make obscure Shakespeare’s original intention by superimposing your own audacious intention (often in the name of originality), there can be no true pathos, and thus no transcendence. “The ends of knowledge,” Bacon wrote in the Preface to the Great Instauration, “are not for any selfish purposes, whether for pleasure, fame, power, but for the benefit and use of Life; and that they perfect and govern it in charity[40]”. The purpose of theatric art is to present to man his higher reality, to show him a form of deeper, finer living that is movingly expressive and alive to his spirit. For only in the spirit can the art of acting perform its magic—its power to transmute and transform the soul. As Bacon explains it, “art is [not] merely an assistant to nature, having the power indeed to finish what nature has begun, but it also has the power to “change…or fundamentally alter nature[41]”.The actor’s job, then, is to remain true to the divine ideal and lead the spectator by the grace and genius of his art to that higher revelation of life.

As a practical idealist Bacon saw with the eyes of the eternal. He believed in a paradise for men and sought to build that paradise on earth. The Shakespeare Plays were part of his great plan to fashion the architecture of the soul and spirit of man according to divine principles. The Plays, like the gospels of Christ, also represent their author’s personal life history. As Bacon himself used the dramatic arts to lift the hearts and minds of the people out of ignorance and moral turpitude, and toward the magic of divine love, or Charity, the Plays became the process by which his own soul could articulate his noble vision and thereby distill the essence, the “spiritus vitae,” of his own ideal of self. And thus the works of Shakespeare are his personal mirror, reflecting the depths of his near divine nature, while passing the torch to us to forge a new renaissance—even the revelation of a New Atlantis of divine artistry that can discover and recover the magic presence of God in man, and restore heaven on earth.




[1] Ince, Richard. England’s High Chancellor. Page 153. London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1935

[2] Bacon, Francis. Of the Advancement and Proficience of Learning (1640), Book II, Ch. XIII. Trans. Gilbert Wats

[3] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning (1605), Book II, Ch. XIII. The Works of Francis Bacon. Collected

and edited by James Spedding, Robert Ellis and James Heath. London: Longmans & Co., 1870

[4] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning (1605), Book II, Ch. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed)

[5] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning (1605), Book II, Ch. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed)

[6] Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act 1, Scene 1.

[7] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book II, Chap. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[8] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book II, Chap. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[9] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book II, Chap. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[10] Spenser, Edmund. The Shepherds Calendar, October Eclogue. The Works of Mr. Edmund Spenser. Vol. IV.

Jacob Tonson, London, MDCCXV

[11] Garson, Greer. A Rose for Mrs. Miniver. Michael Troyan. University Press of Kentucky. 1998

[12] Stanislavski, Constantin. Building a Character. New York: Theater Arts Books, 1962

[13] Shakespeare, William. Tragedy of Hamlet. Act 2, Scene 2.

[14] Stanislavski, Constantin. An Actor Prepares. New York: Theater Arts Books, 1961

[15] Bacon, Francis. Instauratio Magna: Distributio Operis.Works…(Spedding, ed 1863)

[16] Bacon, Francis. The Masculine Birth of Time.

[17] Bacon, Francis. Novum Organum (1620), Book I, Aph XXXV. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1863)

[18] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning (1605), Book II, Ch. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1870)

[19] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning (1605), Book II, Ch. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1870)

[20] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623). Book VII, Ch III. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[21] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623). Book VII, Ch III. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[22] Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Act 2, Scene 7.

[23] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book II, Chap. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[24] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book II, Chap. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[25] Bacon, Francis. Promus. The Promus of Formularies and Elegances. Mrs. Henry Potts. London: 1883

[26] [Anonymous]. The Arte of English Poesie. London: Richard Field, 1589

[27] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning (1605), Book II, Ch. XIII. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1870)

[28] Bacon, Francis. Advancement of Learning Book II, Ch XIII, 3. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1863)

[29] Stanislavski, Constantin. My Life in Art. New York: Theater Arts Books, 1948

[30] Bernhardt, Sarah. The Art of Theatre. New York: Dial Press, 1925

[31] Noonan, Peggy, Wall Street Journal, Opinion Editorial. December, 2006

[32] Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 23

[33] Reference: http://english-renaissance.net/baconquotes.html

[34] Bacon, Francis. Of the Advancement and Proficience of Learning (1640), The Preface. Trans. Gilbert Wats.

[35] Bacon, Francis. Of the Advancement and Proficience of Learning (1640), The Preface. Trans. Gilbert Wats.

[36] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book VI. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

[37] Stanislavski, Constantin. Building a Character. New York: Theater Arts Books, 1962

[38] Stanislavski, Constantin. Building a Character. New York: Theater Arts Books, 1962

[39] McClellan, Deslie, Acting Magic: The Complete Guide to the Art of Acting. Honolulu: Playhouse Books, 2007

[40] Bacon, Francis. The Great Instauration. (1620). The Preface.

[41] Bacon, Francis. De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), Book II, Chap. II. Works…(Spedding, ed. 1858)

Back to top

The Baconian Club of St Albans

Meeting on March 15th 2008

James North represented the Francis Bacon Society at this meeting of the Club held at the Church of St. Michael, St. Albans, which is the burial place of Francis Bacon. This was one of the regular meetings held throughout the year by the Club.  Previous topics included: The European Union, Metaphysical Poets of the 17th Century, Terrorism and Civil Liberties and The Serious Organised Crime Agency.

The meeting was entitled “A Symposium on Francis Bacon” and the speakers were drawn from the membership of the Club.

The symposium was opened by the Chairman, Mr. James Evans CBE, who introduced the speakers.

Ms. Joanne Laws spoke on Francis Bacon and his gardens, describing the many changes and improvements he made on the Gorhambury estate and at Grey’s Inn. She also spoke on his “ideal” garden designs, including a water garden modelled on one newly built at Hatfield by the Cecils, and which they corresponded about. One grand design covered 30 acres and included a summer dining house in the middle of an artificial lake.

Mr. Gerald Bevan spoke about the Baconian Club and about the biography of Francis Bacon, asking whether the Club would admit him as a member were he alive today. In particular, he sketched the personality of Bacon – something which is missed out in strictly historical biography.  Bacon’s ideologies were also touched on, and with reference to his life and works: he was a metaphysician but also a realist, though seemingly very private, he spent most of his life in the public realm. He gave much sound advice to others but seemed incapable of following it himself. After a brief discussion on the merits of Lord Verulam as a candidate for membership of the Baconian Club – the “yea”  faction were in the ascendant!

Mr. Mike Cooper spoke about the legacy of Francis Bacon in the philosophical, scientific, and academic areas. He reiterated Bacon’s call for a renewal of knowledge, also touching on the Baconian method of induction as opposed to deduction. His philosophical contribution is underacknowledged, but the Royal Society owes a great debt to him. The work of Robert Hooke in particular shows strong Baconian influence through his use of imagination, experiment and observation.

Mr. James North introduced the Francis Bacon Society and its history to a very receptive audience. He described the authorship question in a very even-handed way and sketched some of the early Baconians and their theories. He also outlined the methodological approaches to the authorship question, starting with hidden messages and ciphers and finished with the future possibilities of quantatitive linguistics and the Labbé method.

The Chairman of the Club, Mr. James Evans wound up the proceedings, expressing a wish that some closer connection might be made between the two organisations in the future.

Back to top

Francis Carr’s “Who Wrote Don Quixote”

Book review: Francis Carr’s Who Wrote Don Quixote

Xlibris Press, 2004, ISBN: 1413448119

Michael Buhagiar www.thegreatpesher.com

The great Sufi author Saadi of Shiraz wrote, with typical deceptive simplicity: ‘I fear that you will not reach Mecca, O Nomad! For the road which you are following leads to Turkestan!’ Francis Carr, who is surely on the road to Mecca, has produced a thoroughly researched, impeccably argued, and beautifully written work which, in a world where objectivity and enthusiasm for the truth ruled research in the humanities, would cause proponents of Miguel de Cervantes as the sole or even main author of Don Quixote to reconsider. The stakes are high here, as high as in the Shakespeare authorship debate; for in a survey by the Nobel Prize committee of one hundred of the world’s foremost writers, Don Quixote was named as the greatest novel ever written. And let it never be thought that the identity of the true author is of academic interest only, affecting not one jot our response to the work at hand: for it is a portal into the vast store of the Ageless Wisdom underlying the great works of that era, a philosophical goldmine of which the modern interpreter remains largely and tragically ignorant.

A trained historian, Francis Carr worked as a private secretary to a member of Parliament, and edited for seven years the history magazine Past and Future, after which he became director of Residence Recitals, presenting monthly readings and music recitals in houses where great writers and composers once lived. His previous books are European Erotic ArtIvan the Terrible, and Mozart and Constanze. He is, that is to say, a man of accomplishments and class, who may readily be sorted in this way with others such as Judge Nathaniel Holmes, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, and Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence, all of whom promoted Sir Francis Bacon as the true author of the Shakespeare works, just as Carr argues for his presence behind Don Quixote. One could prolong this list of luminaries considerably. The quality that links them all is that of nobility, in its truest sense, as derived from the Greek gignoskein, ‘to know’, and related to the words ‘gnomic’ and ‘gnosis’. Yet, such is the mire into which modern scholarship has fallen, that to profess a belief in nobility now is routinely to be accused of snobbery.

Carr has chosen, to use a current metaphor, the ‘red ocean’ strategy of engaging with orthodox academe on its own territory, of the bloodstained sea of scholarly debate, rather than a ‘blue ocean’ strategy of arguing in terms of esoteric philosophy, in which the enemy has little expertise or interest. And yet, perhaps not: for the hostile navy is in truth a sham, as enfeebled by years of protection in an artificial harbour, without ever having hazarded the Sea of Truth. For, since its publication in 2004, Who Wrote Don Quixote? with its impressive weight of evidence, has met with, not impassioned rebuttals and lively debate from the Cervantian camp, but a deafening silence. It is surely just to assert that, had this been a scientific issue, it would have had a far different reception. For science used so be called, justifiably, ‘natural philosophy’, and closely to study the natural world is inevitably to acquire wisdom and a hunger for the truth. And philosophy is, despite his/her pretensions to the contrary, a terra incognita to the average literary academic, as it certainly was not to the quintessential Renaissance man that was Sir Francis Bacon.

A brief tour through Who Wrote Don Quixote? will give a sense of the range and depth of Carr’s investigations. The publication dates of the Spanish Don Quixote and the English ‘translation’ by Thomas Shelton, as well as the complete lack of any anti-English sentiment, in the immediate aftermath of the humiliating defeats of the Spanish armadas, are suggestive that the novel was originally an English work, which was subsequently translated into Spanish. The literary career of Cervantes himself was, apart from Don Quixote, which shines like gold in silt, undistinguished in the extreme. There is as little contemporary documentation of his connection with his supposedly ‘major’ work as there is in the case of Shakespeare. Almost nothing is known of Thomas Shelton, and yet his ‘translation’ has received ringing endorsements as one of the greatest of all time.

There is much textual evidence to suggest that Cervantes was not the true author. In the Preface, ‘Cervantes’ mentions that he is ‘Though in shew a Father, yet in truth but a stepfather to Don Quixote.’ Then there is the repeated mentioning of an ‘Arabicall Historiographer’ Cid Hamete Benengeli—a name unknown in Arabic literature—as its true author. Cid means ‘Lord’ in Spanish, whileBenengeli most plausibly means ‘son of the English’, which is suggestive enough in itself. The design on the title page of the first edition of 1605 shows a hooded falcon resting on the gloved hand of a man who is hidden from view. Around the arm and the bird is the inscription Post tenebras spero lucem, ‘After darkness I hope for light’, a phrase from Job which was adopted as the motto of Calvinism, and later of the entire Protestant Reformation—an incongruous wording to have on a work issuing from a supposedly Catholic country.

It is in Introductory sonnets that the first firm evidence appears to indicate the nature of Don Quixote as a translation from English into Spanish—the verses in Shelton’s version being more strongly written and readily understood, while in the Spanish they are generally flabby and at times incomprehensible, so that they indeed read, in fact, like poor translations. Carr might profitably have pursued the Sufi origins of the famous Windmill episode; but this topic deserves a book of its own, and he was surely right to keep his focus. Fascinatingly, this episode is thick with English references, which Carr has assiduously discovered, so that the author appears to have been thinking in writing it of an English rather than Spanish landscape. The many learned references to English history suggest that the author had a deep interest in and sympathy for that country; yet there is not the slightest similar evidence in any of Cervantes’ other works.

Here is a fine example, from many, of Carr’s rigour. In Shelton’s text he uses a mispronounced word to denote the rustic ignorance of Grisostome, the scholar turned shepherd  who dies of unrequited love after his spurning by the shepherdess Marcela:

It was reported of him that he was skillfull in Astronomie, and all that which passed above in heaven, in the Sunne and the Moone; for he would tell us most punctually the clips of the Sunne and the Moone.

All Cervantes could produce was the following:

They said he knew the science of the stars and that which happens in the sky, the sun and moon, because punctually he told us the cris of the sun and moon.

There is no such Spanish word as cris; and the inference that must be drawn is that the Spanish translator failed to find an equivalent for ‘clips’, and so substituted a nonsense word. No other conclusion is possible. In another erotic passage in Shelton there is clear evidence of bowdlerization in the Spanish. The placement and frequency of the word ‘bacon’ suggests that Sir Francis Bacon was making his role explicit. Carr provides a table of no less than sixty-nine phrases which are common toDon Quixote, the works of Bacon, and the works of Shakepseare: a nice example being ‘All is not gold that glisters’. In the novel of The Curious-lmpertinent in Part 1, Camilla’s maid Leonela tells her not to worry about her affair with Lothario, saying he has many good qualities, ‘the whole A.B.C.’ There follows in Shelton a list of adjectives, ‘amiable, bountiful, courteous &c’ each one exquisitely chosen for its role. Here then would be a supreme challenge for the translator—and the only possible conclusion again would be that Cervantes, or whoever performed the service, notably failed it.

Carr rightly highlights the Wagon of the Parliament of Death as an episode of interest. Quixote and Sancho come upon a wagon containing a fantastic group of personages—Death, a devil, Cupid, an angel, an emperor, a fool, a knight—who, it emerges, are a company of travelling players. Carr draws some fascinating parallels with the Shakespeare plays, which again suggest that they issued from the same atelier; yet he fails to pinpoint the episode’s raison d’etre, which resides in the company’s nature as a spectacular portrayal of cards of the Marseilles Tarot deck. This opens up a fascinating line of enquiry: for, when we consider the significant Qabalistic element inDon Quixote, and the similar importance of the Qabalah-Tarot in the Shakespeare works, then it becomes clear that the two works— the greatest body of plays in the Western tradition, and its greatest novel—were products of the Rosicrucian enlightenment, which was driven pre-eminently by Bacon. Is there any evidence that Cervantes had Rosicrucian connections? This is a question which the orthodox camp should answer.

One would have wished for a little more on the esoteric significance of the talking head of bronze in Part 2, as a reference to the golden or brazen head as a Sufi symbol of the enlightened man; and also the placement of this scene within the larger episode of the printing house: all of which forms a single, unified allegory of the true nature of Don Quixote as a product of the pen of Sir Francis Bacon, who was ‘talking through the head’ of another, just as he did in the works of Shakespeare.

Carr draws many other notable historical and literary parallels. Finally, he demonstrates his objectivity by citing the work of James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, a Cervantian who has taken Shelton to task for shoddy translations. Carr nicely skewers him, while admitting that one or two of his points may indeed have some validity. There is a suggestion here, therefore, that Don Quixote may be yet another example in the works of Sir Francis Bacon of the Master involving his front man in the writing of the project, albeit in a low level way. I have argued this position, following the work of Rev. Walter Begley in Bacon’s Nova Resuscitatio and Is It Shakespeare?, in the case of the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare. It is difficult to imagine how the ruse could have been carried off had this not been the case.

The true history of Elizabethan literature is being written, then, not in the groves of academe, but in the homes and offices of private scholars. I am sure I can speak for Francis Carr in thanking the literary establishment for giving us the privilege of doing such important and satisfying research, which will survive, like Timon’s tomb, long after the cleansing waves of history have shattered their castles in the sand.

Michael Buhagiar’s new book Don Quixote and the Brilliant Name of Fire: Qabalah, Tarot and Shakespeare in the Greatest Novel will appear from Xlibris Press in April 2008.


Back to top

The Cycle of One Hundred and Eight Years

Chapter Nine, Bacon, Shakespeare ou Saint-Germain?
La Colombe: Editions du Vieux Colombier, Paris, 1962
Jacques Duchaussoy
Translated by Christine Rhone 2008

“Numbers are but the abridged translation or concise language of the Truths and Laws whose writings and ideas are in God, Humanity, and Nature.”

Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin

We have just seen that, for long centuries, the life and activity of the Rosicrucian Orders obeyed a law requiring alternate periods of public life and sleep, recalling the natural or cosmic rhythms. The Rosicrucians, who were aware of this rule, knew that to bear fruit their creations had to agree with the great divine and cosmic laws. Microcosmic, they had to respect the demiurgic laws of the macrocosm. “That which is above is like that which is below … for the greater glory of the One”, as the Emerald Tablet already said.

No human organization can be valid if people think it created for an indefinite period or forever. Respecting the divine laws, it must follow the evolutionary spiral and, arrived at a point fixed mathematically in time and space, prepare for a later rebirth in another place, in a new form adapted to the evolution followed simultaneously by humanity. The neglect of this divine law by some of the great Eastern religions in their exoteric or physical forms, which they thought extensible for millennia, has given rise to all sorts of divisions and schisms. However, only their esoteric spirit endured, not limited to the literal or the formal. Even in the ancient religious Egypt that we are beginning to discover, important variations took place during the thirty dynasties in the official and popular form of the cults.

The Rosicrucians, these liberated adepts, conscious in the Nirvanic world, the domain of the Word where activity is the most intense and where thought has the most creative power, know the law naturally.

“God used numbers to create the world”, as all the Church Fathers after Pythagoras and Plato have repeated, not to mention the archaic philosophers. It was therefore necessary to find the number that would best express the creation to effect on a determined plane. At the same time, this would enable disinterested researchers to understand the reason for and the aim of the Rosicrucians, as well as their true hierarchical organization, amidst the inextricable jumble built up for centuries by authors often motivated by the best intentions.

Those who have told the truth, like Bacon, have done so in a veiled form because meant for the public in general, and it remained unrecognized; the others have always confused the letter and the spirit. Nevertheless, three great basic principles exist, which no one seems to want to consider, even those who speak of them:

1. The Rosy-Cross is discreet.

2. The true Grand Master is always secret.

3. Minor initiations must not be confused with major initiations.

Given all this, readers may think, we will never have any explanations! Yet, how many sages for millennia, not to mention the Kaballists or the Church Fathers, have spoken of the value and the significance of numbers. However, each one has done it on his side for the subject that interested him and in the context of the philosophical or religious concepts of his time. People of today, despite the burning of Ptolemy’s Library, have a great deal of important written documentation available to them. They also possess a brain with very refined cells and networks that is only awaiting a deep desire and a firm will from its owner to function in one of the few areas where the electronic brain would prove incompetent, because it is that of pure spirit, of Numbers, and not that of letters and digits.

Thus, let us together try to find among the clues left by ancient wisdom the reason for choosing the Number 108 to mark the rhythm of the existence of the Rosicrucian orders. Let us first say that, under the circumstances, we must consider this Number not only in isolation, but also in its relationships with its close neighbours 72 and 36.

Since we are following the development of a principle, we will start by examining that which represents the guiding idea whose manifestation we are seeking.

The number 36, sacred to Pythagoras, is the square of 6, which like 2 is both the number of Life and the harmony, beauty and perfection with which the world was made. It is also Created Nature by the development of 3: the Creative Nature of the Gnostics. We can take the number 6 as the ratio of the geometrical progressions whose respective bases 1-2-3-5 represent the creative principle, the doubling essential for manifestation, the divine creative Trinity, and the number of humanity or human knowledge. We thus obtain the following series in which the second line gives what Pascal called the Natural numbers or the second order, and the third line those he qualified as “triangular” or the third order.

1 2 3 5

6 12 18 30

36 72 108 180

216 432 648 1080 etc.

We observe that all the members that interest us are exactly on the third line. This name “triangular” given by Pascal shows that these specifically are creative numbers. The Church Fathers made 6, formerly attributed to Venus, the number of Christ or of the second principle, mediator between the Father and the Holy Spirit, between the divine archetypal spirit and its fulfilling idea.

In the Tree of Life, the sixth sephirah is Tipheret, Beauty, solar sephirah whose symbol is the Rosy-Cross and magical image a child or a sacrificed God, or else a majestic king. In Tipheret, we find the true Great White Lodge, its spirit and its soul. We can thus consider 6 as a symbol of individual Karma, leading the human soul towards the harmonious beauty of perfection. Pythagoras called its square, the number 36, the “Major Quaternary”, or the root of Eternal Nature, as the development of the sacred or minor Quaternary. The latter, which is the number 4, contains all manifestation, organizes the World (Jupiter), and as the source of the Beautiful and the Good is the essence of Harmony.

In his study of the arithmetical Triangle, Pascal extended the concept of the Tetractys to various numbers. In the Tetractys, Pythagoras showed that the total contained in a triangle of four units per side is equal to ten. Such a triangle constructed with thirty-six units per side would appear to mark the limit of the human condition. The sum of the three sides is 108 and the total contained is the secret value of the Number 666, the number of the Beast, according to Saint John’s Apocalypse. Those who do not want to remain conditioned by the world must cross this limit imposed by Nature. The 36, composed of 30 and 6, would therefore be the relationship of individual Karma with the organization of the Universe represented by 30 (3 x 10) and hence the cosmic solidarity that results from it. Considering it as 4 x 9, we could say that it expresses this solidarity in the cycles of Nature. For Jacob Boehme, 36 represented the world of the angels or that of the great initiated adepts. If its square root is obtainable either by adding or by multiplying the first three Numbers, 36 itself is the sum of the eight first numbers, four even and four odd. Basilides expressed the same idea as Boehme when he said that the intermediary world between the hypercosmic archetype and our Earth included 36 levels, each governed by an Archon. We therefore find ourselves with this number on the elevated plane which these elder brothers attain to and operate from, freed from karmic ties, but working through love or cosmic and human solidarity to hasten the liberation of other human beings.

It therefore seems perfectly logical that these adepts, known as Heroes or demi-gods by ancient civilizations when they intervened personally in human affairs, should remain “discreet” in their relationships with our modern humanity. It also seems logical that their chief, the best of all, always remains hidden and neither comes to preside officially in human Counsels, however Supreme they may be, nor asks us for honours, titles, and distinctions.

The doubling of 36 leads us to the number 72. The mathematics of Numbers, contrary to that of digits, considers multiplication in fact as division, because it increases the number of fractions or subdivisions of the divine primordial Unity. Descending a little into manifested multiplicity, let us decompose this number 72 to try to bring out the various ideas that it contains. In fact, the greater a number is, and therefore the further it is from the first fundamentals of the simple idea, the more combinations exist among its constituents. Since 2 is already familiar to us, let us consider quickly 7, 10, and 70 to get an idea of 72. If the Trinity represents the development of the single principle, 7 represents this principle twice developed, thus objectively realized. This double development becomes clear by writing the number 7

according to the Pythagorean method:


The 7 thus expresses a progressive chronological graduation, evolution in Space-Time, which the Atharva Veda expressed by saying that time moves on 7 wheels and has 7 naves. Only the odd numbers are creative, because they provide movement by interrupting the equilibrium of the principles contained in the preceding even number, just as the walking of human beings is just a constant and rhythmic breaking of the unstable balance that they have at rest on two legs. The individual and providential karmic laws contained in the number 6 can thus enter into action only by means of 7. We therefore find the expression of their utilization in this active number symbolizing our ascent of the evolutionary spiral under the direction of the Creator.

As for 10, the number expresses the total development of the principles in action in the Universe or, for Pythagoras, the sum of all knowledge. God, who was One before the creation, will become 10 when at the end of creation, enriched with experiences, he will return, as the Psalmist says, to sit on the throne of his Father and no longer at his side [1]. We can therefore consider this number in synthesis as representing the Cosmos, the Universe.

Uniting the activities of these two numbers, we can say that 70 indicates the total evolution of the Universe, its complete evolutionary cycle, but arrived at its term or end because, through the Hebrew letters, this number is related to the sixteenth Arcanum of the Tarot: the Tower.

With the number 72, we find the idea of differentiation contained in 2 acting in the evolved Cosmos represented by 70. From there is born an extreme multiplicity of aspects, but these remain integral with one another, because 7 + 2 = 9. We find this same idea again if we consider 72 as the development of the novenary by eight. Considering it as the product of 12 by 6, we further discover the harmony and reciprocity in the interrelationships of all parts of the manifested world. Let us also note that the number 72 divides the circle into five parts, allowing us to construct the pentagon, the image of the human being, whose number is 5. Considering these various combinations, we think that in the present situation the number 72 symbolizes the activities of the White Brotherhood, aiming to maintain the harmony of the integral action of the Rosicrucians with the many different organizations on the next, strictly human plane.

The sphere of Tipheret or the number 6 was a centre of transmission or transmutation between the forces of the higher planes and the forms of the subsequent planes of creation. The number 72 shows the 6 multiplied by 12, the complete and concrete realization, and can thus symbolize the physical existence of this great Brotherhood, whose spirit, we have seen, presides in Tipheret. Various religious traditions have noted this number because of its importance. We find, for example, the 72 zodiacal intelligences, the 72 rungs of Jacob’s ladder, the 72 attributes of God, and the 72 confused languages of the Tower of Babel.

We have seen above that the three numbers 36 – 72 – 108 indicated relationships between the Cosmos and humanity. Thus, by multiplying the 72nd part of a day by the 360 degrees of the zodiac, the Aztecs and the Egyptians obtained the five days necessary to reconcile the theoretical year with the real year of 365 days. The sun takes 72 years to cross a degree of the zodiac, which gives us the 25,920 years of the Great Platonic Year resulting from the precession of the equinoxes. On the microcosmic plane, we see that the human heart maintains life at the rate of 72 beats per minute.

With the number 108 finally, we find even greater emphasis on the relationships between the life of the Cosmos, especially that of the two luminaries, and that of humanity. We can say that 108 is the basis of the cosmic revolutions. Seen from the solar side, for example, this number, with its principle 36 and its multiples 216, 432, and 864, gives us the number of seconds contained in an hour: 3,600. In three hours or a quarter of the microcosmic zodiac, it gives 108,000. In twelve hours, it gives the equinoctial rhythm of day and night: 432,000. And in twenty-four hours, it gives the total of the period of activity and rest: 864,000 seconds. The Chaldaeans had learned that universal cataclysms occurred when certain planetary conjunctions took place in Capricorn at the equinox (flood) or in Cancer (by fire), and that their rhythm was 432,000 years. The Vedas said also that the duration of the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age of the Earth that we are living in now, is 432,000 years.

Let us now consider the Moon, the second luminary that has so much influence on physiological and psychic life on earth. We observe that in establishing the relationship between the synodic lunar revolution (calculated in relation to the Sun), which is 29,530 days, and the sidereal lunar revolution (in relation to the distant stars), which is 27,321 days, we find again our fateful number in the quotient 1.08.

This number, universally known from antiquity, was fixed in stone or in popular rituals everywhere to ensure its conservation. Thus, in archaic India, a little wall of 108 stones or bricks ritually surrounded the sacrificial fire offered to Agni, solar God of fire. Later, in the first millennium B.C., sacred texts would name this number the lunar Lotus. In Tibet, we find 108 sacred books, 108 points of holiness on the body of Buddha, and 108 beads in the Buddhist prayer beads. Closer to us, Nostradamus refers to this number in various predictions. Rabelais, in the sixth book of Gargantua andPantagruel, mentions this fateful number as that of the steps in the staircase by which Lady Lantern leads us to the door of the Temple of Knowledge.

In Brittany, the Druids had great respect for the number 27, the inverse of 72. They used it to remind us of 108. The 27, or the triple novenary, indicated the progressive integration of the opposite polarities of the universal manifestation. At Kerham, on the coast of Morbihan, a rectangular field of 100 by 200 meters (the sacred double square of the Egyptians) contains a certain number of megaliths and tumuli. One of them, circular, measures 27 meters in diameter, and the distances separating it from similar constructions are multiples of 27. Two others, whose elliptical form recalls the astronomical teachings that they contain, are spaced by 4 x 27 = 108 meters. Let us note that the measures employed at the time were the megalithic cord or the ancient cubit with their subdivisions. However, the arrangement was in the mysterious double square, in such a way as to give the hidden numbers in “exact meters”, a proportion conserved in the secrets of the Great Pyramid. Other interesting details appear in the magazine Atlantis on sacred Numbers in Brittany, but these take us away from our subject.

By addition, the 108 gives us 9, the number of action in the Universe through Love and Solidarity. The number 100 marking a part of the part, we can say that 108 acts like 18, but with the difference of two degrees between the two units considered. We have seen above the significance of 10 as synthetically representing the whole Cosmos. We can consider the number 8 from two different angles. First is the most ordinary materialistic sense, where we consider it as the double quaternary. It is then the double development of 2, as 7 was that of the principle 1. On the other hand, considered as following 6 and 7, it takes a more mystical meaning. The 8 then evokes the state of liberation from Karma, having accomplished its salvation, and whose consciousness is henceforth active in the world of Nirvana. The 18 would thus rule the relationships of the Nirvanic world, that of the adepts, with the entire Cosmos. However, in 108, this relationship is at a distance of two degrees and shows us that the elevated World of the Rosy-Cross where major initiations occur is two degrees away from the orders of humanity at its service. These orders can assist in the spiritual progress of humanity and disciples, and even provide them with minor initiations.

Similarly, if we consider 108 as a multiple of 6, we see Providence in action through the love of Humanity. However, as an even number and a multiple of 18 by the Christic number, it indicates the reciprocity and solidarity of these relationships established between the Masters of the Nirvanic world and the disciples working on the material plane.

The number 108 also possesses many other uses in the most various relationships between everything that exists, turns, and crystallizes in the world – from the spiral of the cosmic nebula to the tiny snowflake. To readers who want to know more about this subject, we recommend a book by a Polytechnician friend, which provides mathematical support for all the traditional deductions by the present author [2]. We learn there, notably, that the ideal length of human life in relation to that of the universe and the Earth is 108 years, and that premature deaths cause changes in the harmony of the cycles of our individual lives. Lovers of astronomy will appreciate that the clock of time, viewed from our planet, marks the beat of the dance of the stars. This is the dance of not only the Moon and Sun, but also the Dragon, the black Sun and Lilith, whose rhythm is identical to the one that, unbeknown to us, directs our little human lives [3].

The enigma of humanity thus contains that of the World and vice-versa. The enigma of the number 108 therefore leads us back to the eternal prescription of Thales and Socrates, “Know yourself and you shall know the Universe and the gods”. The latter were the powers of the Numbers.

1. Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (A.M.O.R.C).

2. J. Legrand, Méditations cabalistiques.

3. The key numbers 6-12-18, developed by the number of harmony of Love and Wisdom of the second principle, give us the three numbers that rule celestial and human mechanics. Thus, we see that all have as their initial principle the number of the creative Word, that of theChristus Rosae Crucis.

Back to top

Sprite of the Avon

Sweet vocal swan, spirit of the evening river

Scrying with your spear-like eye the sullen flow,

Now on sable bank you rear, your pinnions shake

Now cast a spray of jewels, sparkling at my feet.

What is this tribute from a royal personage?

Am I a knight at nightfall, you my Queen?

Do you thus in honour dub me, raise me up

And quill my life in white, Queen of the Night?


Rod Treseder, April 2006

Back to top