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This work follows close upon the heels of Mrs. Henry Pott's remarkable work, Francis Bacon and His Secret Society. I venture to cherish the hope, some of the chapters in this work of mine, may throw further light upon her theories, and prove a humble corollary to her book. The arrangement of my chapters, it must be confessed, are somewhat erratic, but not without design and method. The first chapter is intended to point out the fact, that there are Rosicrucian affinities and parallels in The Tempest, showing the author of the plays was well acquainted with the Utopian literature, which finds its reflection in the New Atlantis. In the fact, Bacon corresponded with the martyr, Father Fulgentio, we obtain a powerful hint as to his sympathies with the Reformation, and a proof he was secretly in communication with a wide movement abroad, which could at that period only be furthered by means of a secret society or brotherhood. I am in hopes my notes upon the water-marks in some of Bacon's works may throw a further light upon Mrs. Pott's plates in her learned work.
This work has been written to stimulate curiosity, and excite interest, in just those works of Bacon's, which are hardly known at all. I refer to the Advancement of Learning of 1640, which is the first English edition of the De Augmentis of 1623. This valuable and rare book is difficult to obtain, and has never been reprinted. It is really the only work of Bacon's which contains the ground plan, method and proportions of the Instauration as a whole. It was written for the “better opening up,” or unlocking of the Instauration, which latter was, I maintain, a perfectly complete and developed scheme in Bacon's mind, connected with the second half of his works missing, and which latter are described as examples of inquisition and invention. It is, indeed, a most remarkable thing, that no one, with the exception of Delia Bacon, has pointed out, or recognized the fact, the Instauration is not merely a design widely directed toward inductive research in science and nature generally, but also a purely creative scheme, perfect in its apprehension, and borrowed from the six days of Genesis, as a god in art might be humbly imitating creation. All Bacon's works massed together, are as nothing to this one work I refer to, in the Distribution Preface of which, he unlocks his intentions, in guarded language, but, nevertheless, with assured confidence of his designs.
This book is founded upon three great principles, - History, Poetry, Philosophy, which he respectively terms Memory, Imagination, Reason. And on a table or platform of the design of the work, we find the entire structure of the third principle, Reason or Philosophy, emanating and affiliated upon the former two, bracketed together as History and Poesy, or Memory and Imagination. When we further examine his treatment of the philosophy, we find it has nothing whatever to do with metaphysics, or philosophy in its generally accepted sense, but find it a strictly inductive method of discovery, by means of parallels, analogy, logic, and a great method of ciphers, which are to deliver the things invented, whatever they may be,— by means of memory or recollection. All this is involved in the subtlest possible language, and has been written with two distinct objects,– reserve and secrecy,- discovery and penetration of his design. His own words to Doctor Playfer establishes this fact, and the critic who questions my theory, must explain why Bacon wrote this work first in English, and had it translated into Latin, reserving the English version for a posthumous publication ? Was he afraid of a premature discovery of its real character? Why should he write a work of this sort in obscure language? Why, was it to “ choose its reader?” Why was it to “fly too high over men's heads?” What is the design hidden behind the fourth, fifth and şixth parts of the Instauration It is quite impossible to convey to the reader any idea of this work, unless he has it by his side to collate my statements and study them further. The curious part of all this is, even Englishmen well acquainted with the Two Books of the Advancement of Learning of 1605, know nothing, or next to nothing, of the De Augmentis, (Bacon's chief work,) which embraces the Instauration, as a whole with parts, and with a distinct end or aim (by discovery) hidden under its mispaging, its strange italicizing, its dark language and its inspired character. Critics who deny any poetic inclinations to Bacon's mind, seem oblivious of the astonishing fact this work is mainly based upon poetry, although entitled the Partitions of the Sciences. Did Bacon consider poetry a science? Yet he distinctly states poetry,“ to be a play of wit,” and not a science, in this self-same work! It is not as the imagination of the scientific
mind he introduces poetry, but as stage-plays, and dramatical or representative poetry upon pages 106, 107, corresponding to the numbers of the columns of the comedies and histories upon which we find the word Bacon, and Francis, twenty-one times !
Another great mystery pertaining to the Instauration is its perfectly divided character; that is, it consists of two globes or hemispheres, compared to the old and new worlds. This book of the · Advancement of Learning I refer to, deals entirely with the Intellectual Globe or New World of Sciences, of which we absolutely know nothing, being concerned entirely with the three missing parts of the Instauration, generally supposed to have never been completed by Bacon. What object had Bacon to veil his language with regard to these Prætermitted Parts, which he states he “only coasts along”? What part has Bacon's Wisdom of the Ancients to play in the Instauration as a whole? And here, let me remark, those critics who question Bacon's poetic predilections receive another rebuff; for Bacon terms this collection, examples of parabolical poesy, and the pieces consist of just those classic subjects which the Latin poets,— like Ovid, for example,- selected for their poems. Whyembrace this collection in his New World of Sciences ? My object is to point out, these Deficients are always introduced in cautious, guarded language, behind which some profound design lies obscured. The human · mind is so framed that, unless attention is directed and questions asked upon certain points, it blanches and passes over everything difficult, as if it did not exist. The difference between perception and sense (one of Bacon's Deficients) is immense. All art is an appeal to sense, and the highest art is to cheat sense at the expense of perception. Bacon presents us, at the commencement of his Distribution Preface, just the sort of hint we should take in studying his works and his designs. He writes: "For the nakedness of the mind, as once of the body, is the companion of innocence and simplicity” (p. 22). This follows on the heels of the statement" that everything be delivered with all possible plainness · and perspicuity." How are we to reconcile these paradoxes, which run through the entire work? They will easily be understood directly the world recognizes the fact Bacon intended to come down invisible to posterity as a god in art. Directly the literary world seriously apprehends the nature of this, the greatest literary problem the world has ever seen, as the spiritual hidden behind art, waiting for us to interpret it and to understand nature by its light, a thousand unheeded facts, a thousand hints by parallel, by cipher and analogy, will be discovered. For nothing is spiritually discerned without faith and toil, and a text may be studied a thousand times ere it yields up its secret. Just consider for a moment how, only a few years ago, Mr. Smith first started the theory of the Bacon authorship of the plays with about a dozen parallels. This was deemed too extravagant a theory to obtain decent hearing, but was relegated to that class of insanity, allied to circle-squaring. Since then hundreds of works have appeared, each contributing some new parallel.— some fresh indication in the same direction. “ The cry is, still they come,” and they will soon arrive so quickly, that the world will rub its eyes and wonder it was never discovered before. That is the nature of the spiritual in the world, that we cannot apprehend it, unless directed by others to do so, or accustomed by education and discipline to search for it. I take it, one of Bacon's complete objects was to bring this lesson directly home to our minds, that we are most assured of what we are most ignorant of, and that nature is infinitely more subtle than the senses of man. His doctrine of the four idols of the mind, which obstruct and confuse the intellect, is all part and parcel of this, my theory. It was only by examples of art, and discovery by posterity, he could illustrate in full force his teaching. One of the idols of men's minds has been Shakespeare, and I think it highly probable, from the character of Bacon's mind, he foresaw such a lesson could be taught on those points by self-sacrifice, as would effect a revolution in men's ways of hastily judging and accepting conclusions upon insufficient grounds. The probability Shakespeare wrote the plays, does not fulfill the terms of a true induction. Men have before, like the author of Junius, denied and obscured their authorship; tradition, like authority, is a mere idol of the understanding, which has enslaved men's minds for hundreds of years in every department of thought, in religion, government, society, science, and still rules the intellect as a form shapes a soft substance. It has been said " Give a lie a quarter of an hour's start and who shall overtake it?” But what of those lies branded in for centuries from father to son, from generation to generation! Prejudice in everything, that is the nature of human thought. There is only one education worthy of the namo, and that is allied to independence and freedom of the intellect. Shelley rightly declared half his life had been spent in unlearning what he had been taught. There is only one word for all this, it is slavery of the intellect summed up in the old proverb, “ To cure the ears is most difficult !" Bacon, I submit, knew very well, that all the writing in the world would not cure this ingrained evil, nor could it be cured by any persuasions. Examples, by means of art, are quite on a different platform - and that is what he intended to illustrate by.
With regard to the Comedy of Errors, and Midsummer Night's Dream, it is just here the critic will fall upon me. But I beg to state, my chapters on those two plays are merely written in a spirit of humble suggestion, and require each a volume to themselves instead of a few brief pages. Because I have not made out my case with regard to my theories, in a complete or satisfatory fashion, it does not follow somebody else may not better my instructions. The Dream is the profoundest play ever penned, and is as philosophical as nature itself, and I am convinced that the fairy element has been intended to represent the occult, invisible spiritual powers behind the curtain of nature's theatre,-in short, the magical, or rather the intellectual in nature.
With regard to the Rosicrucians, I wish to say I do not introduce this subject from a vulgar desire to appear to know more than I do know, or from the impostor's standpoint of mysticism. Thére is excellent evidence of various kinds, some published already, some unpublished and most important, that Bacon was the head of the brotherhood. And I am advancing and pushing a theory that admits the approval of such authorities as Mrs. Henry Pott, the Hon. Ignatius Donnelly, and even criticism has gone so far as to allow, the cipher problem stands or falls with the allied theory of the Rosicrucian source of the plays. [“ Notes and Queries," on“ Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians.”] I held the intention of publishing in this work certain evidence, which would, I am convinced, establish the theory on firm ground once and forever. But as I am running great risk of losing whatever is of importance in this work by piracy, or clever forestatement by theft, I shall wait before I place all my eggs in one basket. It is the interest of all literary people taking some intellectual pleasure in this problem, to see justice is done to an author's claims whilst going through the press. These sort of things cannot be kept quiet, and everybody knows, when two claims to the same discovery, upon such a recondite problem, spring up together, at the same moment (though it be even in distant places), some sort of direct or indirect plagiarism, or,