Alicia A. Leith
"A pretty plot, well chosen, to build upon." --Henry VI part 2
Architecture gives form to the invisible pulses and rhythms of life. It gives pattern to structure and structure to pattern. It is an elemental mystic power that is innate to all things. The physical manifestation of this power is a consequence of the desire for the invisible to be made visible. This desire, this great motivating force is essential to the life of a thing. It is a process which organizes and composes various interrelated forces into a unified whole. Architecture is the comprehensive expression of all science and art--the wellspring of interconnectedness and functional art. -Eugene Tsui
"Buildings of Temples, Theatres and the like are honorable things and look big upon posterity."-Francis Bacon
Professor Dowden credits Shakespeare with knowledge of all Religious Foundations. Certaintly the new theatres that sprang up round and about London in his time were mostly if not all built on monastic or religious foundations. And we are of Professor Dowden's belief-- only we substitute the name of Bacon for the nom de plume "Shakespeare." To prove our point we shall confine our discussion to the Globe Theatre, Bankside, as that will provide enough matter and more for the space at our disposal. The Globe in every way fulfilled the conception set down in black and white by Bacon of the
"Radius Reflexus whereby Man beholdeth and contemplateth himself," (Advancement of Learning)
"The Mirror of polished surface he asked for, capable of reflecting the state of the world wherein we live," the mirror held up to Nature (Hamlet , Act III., Sc. ii) "to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure," the "Globe of crystal or Form" into which he drew and collected, for contemplation and doctrine, every thing in Being and Action in the larger Globe of Matter."
Here, as in every other way, we see how Hamlet and Bacon thought alike even to the aims and ideals of the Stage. The "Inquiry of Truth" was ever what Bacon was after, and the Globe was built and carried on in accordance with its "perfect law."
Ben Jonson calls it the "Glory of the Bank," by which, of course, we understand that it illuminated the audiences assembled in it with its light-giving properties, Glory being only another word for light. But Ben has another title for the Globe, he calls it, "The Fort of the whole Parish." In other words the Elephant and Castle. From behind the shelter of the wooden Tower or Fort on the Elephant's back in the ancient days of war, Archers bent their bows and shot their arrows home. Bacon himself tells us that the Elephant and the pig are allied by Nature , and the modern teacher calls the Elephant a "gigantic Pig." So in the manner of ancient warfare our gigantic "Bacon" sheltered his Archers behind his wooden Fort, and armed them with arrows sharp and tempered by his own unerring hand, while he supported the fortunes of his Fort upon his own somewhat narrow shoulders. Within the Hall of the Globe stood a figure of Atlas
bearing the Sphere on his back, a further emblem, or speaking picture, proclaiming the same truth. Hieroglyphics and cyphers in many forms were much in vogue in Bacon's day.
Now for the Monastic Foundation of the Globe. The Knights of the Cross, the Templars, owned much ground on Bankside. There once stood their Fort or Commandery, a place of spears and shields; there, too, they raised with pious hands their round Church or Temple. Round? Nay, octagon. It was no more round than their Temple in Fleet Street was round ; that too is eight-sided. Bacon built the Globe eight sided for he was an expert in "numbers," Ben tells us ; and was as fully possessed of the knowledge of the powers of the octagon as was the Monastic Order of the Temple.
"...the Temple and its mystical brethren are ever near unto the wise man, who discovers them only by perceiving inwardly the mysteries of the spirit. The Temple is on wheels to signify that it can go to any place, and it is suspended from Heaven by a rope because it is moved by the Will of God. The rose is over one of it's windows and the cross is over the other."--Fama Fraternitatis, or a Discovery of the Fraternity of the Most Noble Order of the Rosy Cross translated from German by Thomas Vaughan in 1652
The Temple of Peace of that Order was the Ideal City of God, as it is that of Rosicrucian and Free Mason. "Salem a place of Peace, a Vision of Peace,.... and yet therein a Fort, and an armoury for shields and bucklers."
So writes old Dr. John Spencer in his Old and New, p.364, adding we
"must all of us be like Nehemiah's builders,with a trowell in one hand and a spear in the other."
Significant words, as likely or more to have been used by Bacon in a Charge to his Craft. The Globe had a Monastic foundation, and a very religious foundation, and the aims and the ideals of its builders were as high or even higher than his predecessors in the flowery fields of Bankside. While he shook his spear held in one hand, he dug with his trowel in the other foudations of as great moment as even did the Templars. His connection with them may be traced through Sir Nicholas Bacon, the descendant, according to Baring Gould, of Jacques Bascoin de Molay, of Bensancon, martyred by Philip of France for his faith, 1314. While Bacon was building up a spiritual Temple, and fitting polished stones into the walls of the new Jerusalem, he built a Temple of Piece on old Foundations on the Banks of Father Thames.
Assonance is not the sole possession of the Ancients to juggle with, Hide and seek is played by its aid still, and Francis Bacon is as good a hand at it as any old Greek. Witty camouflage with words is really one his many arts, and he has taught it to his disciplines who still carry on their Master's traditions and bamboozle us dreadfully when they like! Assonance is not a lost Art, one must be on the look out for it wherever Bacon is concerned!
It is interesting to know that the science of
mystical numbers formed part of the Christian mysteries, and were
communicated by the monks.
The ancient Mason's method of setting out an Octagon Temple starts with the recognition of the eight points. "What seest thou?" "I see eight points, as it were, the corners, of an octagon," says the Ritual; "and the Templars' eight pointed Cross is older than the form with square ends. It seems from A. Bothwell-Gosse's instructive book The Knight Templars, from which I have obtained much of what I have written here, says that this eight pointed Cross, known as the Conventual Cross, provided the Cypher used by the Order, which made it easy for the Knights to work with as they wore the key upon their breast.
Anyone desirous of knowing more on this subject cannot do better than study the book mentioned. The History of the Knights, graphically and well written there, was briefly related in Fly Leaves, edited by the Hon. Secretary of the Ladies' Guild of Francis St. Alban (No. 2, August, 1914), in a paper copied, by permission, by the "Red Cross," Organ of the St. John's Red Cross Society. It is interesting to know that St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, is said to be connected by secret passage with Canonbury Tower. Canonbury in ancient times was the property of the Knight's of St. John and it stretched to Clerkenwell. Shake-speare Plays were rehearsed at St. John's Gate there in the presence of Tylney, the Master of the Revels, whose Headquarters they were. Tylney kept the accounts for candles and carpentry used for the purpose, which accounts have come down (happily) to us.
Francis Bacon was a secret man, and put his
finger, like Hamlet, on his lip about himself ; and by him and his
secret Brethren of the Cross and the Rose, the descendants of Knights
of the Cross , of High Degree, he has brought a mundane world into
touch with the Beau Ideal. The "Rose Croix" and "Kadish
Degree" are now part of the A.A. Masonry under the Supreme Grand
Council 33 degree. These grades formed part of the Templar
Initiation. All honor to our Master Builder who took "All Knowledge
Providence" and has built up a structure which will last till the
great Globe itself shall dissolve.
Mr. Bernard Springer in his Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon (Allen and Unwin) remarks that "much of what we now look upon almost entirely as Freemasonry has been practised as part and parcel of the Religions of the Middle East for thousands of years. The Knight Templars in the Crusades found themselves in touch with the ancient beliefs and traditions of Arabs and Syrians. And Mr. Springer assures us that Masonry (whose modern reformation, reviviscence, is due absolutely to great Verulam) goes back to an antiquity far exceeding that of any religion in the world known to Mankind. Its archaic source is the same from which the British Druids drew their inspirations--the Deluge. Bacon followed his Master Plato in believing in the great submerged Island of Atlantis, only he maintained it was caused by a great Deluge, not a whirlpool. A. Bothwell-Gosse says the fact of the Churches of the Templars being called Temples and being always circular or Octagonal, indicates a use of symbolism suggestive of ancient religions. Also that many members of the Order were men of great learning, with wider ideas and deeper knowledge than it was safe to make public within the jurisdiction of the Holy see ; men who in their times of leisure became acquainted with the learning of the wise men of Arabia. Mrs. Henry Pott frequently quoted these words of Bacon :
"I have spent two years in the East,"
explaining that he studied Eastern thought and symbolism to improve men's minds and widen their limited outlook--and to teach them to know, and appreciate, Eastern art, science and philosophy.
It is worth noting that a portrait of young Bacon painted by Tintoretto Ibitune is hidden away in the right Gallery of the Church of St. Mark's, Venice. He stands by the side of an ancient Arabian Sage, who is dictating to him. The boy holds a stilus and tables, and turns a listening ear to a bearded teacher who bears the Cross, and the Lamb and Flag, the Templar's insignia, on his priestly robe. A symbolic picture called in Vencie and her Treasures, by H. A. Douglas, the most interesting mosaic in the Church. For its title we have :
Cosma and Dansien are the names above the two figures, representations of two of the most mystic of Arabian Physicians. That Francis Bacon had a very earnest meaning in establishing his Globe of Form on the site of the round Church of the Templars we may be sure, and when we know that the Gate of St. John's Priory in Clerkenwell was used for the rehearsals of the Shakespeare Plays and the Master of the Revels lived there it all points to the fact that Dramatic Representation came originally from East, and grafted on to the European nations as an exotic, it anciently formed part of the Rites and ceremonies of archaic religion.
The Order of the Temple was ever proud of its beautiful buildings. Lombardy churches built by the Templars bore the epithet de la Mason and when brave Jacques Bascoin de Molay was martyred in Paris his five knights and two commanders under the protection of the Grand Master of Auvergne escaped to Mull disguised as operative masons. The Order was continued under the title of Free Masons who adopted the symbolism of Architecture (p. 106, Bothwell-Goss).
Canonbury Tower whose lands stretched down to St. John's Priory, Clerkenwell, has Templarism for its foundations, and a cell in Hertfordshire, on or near, the old Estate of Robert de Gorham, was connected with the Order of St. John established in Islington. Old Aberdeen was a headquarters of the Templars escaped from Paris, and King James the First is reported to have been received there into the more modern rite of the old Order. It is indeed true what Lord Tennyson said with deep meaning
The "Clachan" or The Stones, was the open air meeting place for the Aberdeen Brethren, who preserved this interesting remnant of the old druidical cult. Francis Bacon, true to his vows and ideals, carried on the torch lit by more ancient hands, and was the great assertor of human liberty, taught men to love the Brotherhood and honour the King, and followed the example of his Divine Master, sacrificed his all, honour and good name, " the immediate jewel of his soul," with St. Paul's perfection "Content to be anathema" for the salvation of Justice in England, therein showing "much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ Himself." (Essay of Goodness-F.Bacon)
In conclusion, he was as great a Master of Medicine as any of the Arabian Physicians, also as great a lover of Architecture as any other Grand Master of the Cross and Circle. Little wonder that he built his Theatres on religious foundations when he said to King James :
"Buildings of Temples, Theatres and the like are honorable things and look upon posterity."