Remember those old ads?: "Chock Full of Nuts is that heavenly coffee heavenly coffee better coffee a millionaires money can't buy." Joy Hancox's new book is like the coffee in those ads, chock full of nuts,- packed like closets in situation comedies, where opening the door allows a hodgepodge of items of all shapes and sizes to flood over you. Critical readers may think it's chock full of nuts in another sense. Sometimes questionable references are cited; sometimes important references are not cited; and sometimes Hancox's deductions from her evidence has a Rorschach ink blot quality that says more about the content of her mind than the content of her evidence. Nevertheless, whether it be hard work, or intuition, or the gods of Serendipidity smiling down upon her, Hancox makes one important discovery after another, and her book is a heavenly concoction, chock full of fascinating information. If this sort of thing is your cup of coffee, and you don't mind a little caveat emptor in the brew, Hancox's latest offering will definitely come under the category of "better coffee a millionaires money can't buy!" Best of all, in her wanderings this time ("even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea") she finds her way home to Francis Bacon. Only the future will tell whether she is capable of swimming in that sea. But she will make the attempt. She ends her book with these words:
" there are a number of questions about his [Bacon's] life that remain unanswered.
.addressing these has now become something of a personal odyssey."
Hancox knows all about odysseys. She has just completed one. "Kingdom" is the second, and presumably last, book in the series that began with "The Byrom Collection." For those who have not read her first book, you should know that at one time Hancox researched a biography, which she later published, of John Byrom (1691-1763). Byrom was a Freemason, early member of the Royal Society, and generally enigmatic in character. As a result of the contacts she made in doing her research, one day in the summer of 1984, Hancox received a large envelope in the mail.
The envelope contained 516 pieces of card, each about the size of a coaster, densely covered, with crisscrossing lines and patterns of mysterious, geometric drawings that showed amazing technical skill. The 516 pieces of card were composed of 176 cards with drawings on one side only, 210 cards with drawings on both sides, and 130 prints. There were actually only 90 individual prints, since many were repeats. Thus there were 596 drawings altogether which, added to the 90 prints, gave a total of 686 drawings.
This collection had belonged to John Byrom. It came from a donor who still insists on remaining anonymous. Ordinary mortals, such as you or I, might have been overwhelmed by the cryptic collection. But Hancox is made of sterner stuff. She was fascinated. She embarked on an odyssey, almost as lengthy as Homer's, in search of the meaning of the collection . Odysseus, was away from home for 20 years - 10 years fighting in the Trojan War and 10 years wandering. Hancox has racked up 17 years. The initial 8 year period was spent in her war to garner information and see in print her initial discoveries that appeared in her earlier book, "THE BYROM COLLECTION" (1992). Her current book, "KINGDOM FOR A STAGE" (2001), represents the results of an additional 9 year period in search of a more complete understanding of the collection.
Many drawings in the "Byrom Collection" dated back to the Elizabethan period. Only 51 out of the 686 appeared to be plans for the various Elizabethan theaters including The Rose, and the Globe. However, as Hancox continued to study the drawings she became convinced the larger part of them were concerned with the Elizabethan theatres. She found evidence of an esoteric, "sacred geometry" in the plans of the theaters, and evidence of a connection with a group that included John Dee, Robert Dudley, Philip Sidney and other prominent personalities from that period. She says, "The use of the dimension of 72 in each of the theatres appeared to be part of the overall structural constraints", and notes that there were biblical, cabalistic and astronomical associations with the number 72. She covered much of this in her first book, but has gone further in her second book, as well as bringing Francis Bacon into the mix.
Her second book deals for the most part with the genesis of the Elizabethan theatre. She is, "firmly convinced of John Dee's role in the original design of the playhouses", stating specifically he was behind the design of the Globe theatre. Her main foundation on which she bases this conviction is the sequences of playhouse drawings in the Byrom Collection. Each was differentiated by a unique color coding. The color coding for the Globe theatre sequence was the same as the color coding for the two drawings of Dee's Monad. How's that for evidence? If that doesn't chime your clock, Hancox adds that the texture of the cards used for the Monad drawings, was the same as the texture of the cards used for the Globe sequence. Moreover (she triumphantly slams down her last devastating piece of evidence) when Dee was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, he used his mathematical and engineering skills to invent (for the production of Aristophanes Pax) a Scarabeus that flew up to Jupiter's palace with a man carrying a basket of food on its back. As Mrs. Robinson remarked in the movie, The Graduate, when reassuring the callow youth who suspected she was trying to seduce him,- if you don't believe me, then I don't know what. I don't know what either.
The Globe theatre was a wooden replica of the Intellectual Globe, the metaphoric idea that was central to all of Bacon's works. There is stronger evidence in Hancox's book to tie Francis Bacon to the Globe theatre, than there is for Dee. According to Hancox, Bacon was the owner of the brass plates from which the Globe theatre drawings were printed, and was joint owner of the brass-works where the brass for the plates were produced, although Hancox refrains from considering the authorship question in "KINGDOM", since this would have digressed from the material she was trying to cover, she was well aware of the evidence supporting Bacon as author of the Shakespeare plays. And she was aware that the Globe theatre was the major staging theatre for most of these plays. She really should re-evaluate her premise. But it would be futile to try to change her mind, Hancox has the bit in her teeth and is as unstoppable as an avalanche rushing downhill.
Hancox covers three main areas in her book: (1) the personalities and ideas behind the Elizabethan theatres; (2) The investigation of the brass plates she discovered in the Science Museum that turned out to be the prototypes for many of the drawings in the Byrom Collections; and (3) The Schweighardt Scrapbook that was connected with the drawings. In her researches she established that originally the Byrom Collection, the brass plates, and the Schweighardt Scrapbook were all part of one collection and needed to be studied together. Through her investigations of the brass plates and the Schweighardt scrapbook Hancox was led to realize the important role Francis Bacon played in the whole scenario. I will identify the Schweighardt Scrapbook later, but although I searched through "Kingdom For a Stage" and dipped into "The Byrom Collection" before I finally got tired of looking, I couldn't identify the "Science Museum". Perhaps it was part of the British Museum, but you probably won't find out from Hancox..
This is one of Hancox's little quirks, designed, no doubt, to drive the reader out of his or her gourd. As she proceeds juggernaut-like on her chosen path, Hancox plows right through significant information and leaves you blocked in and cursing in your attempt to follow her. An ancient Chinese proverb proclaims,
"It is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness."
However, for the sake of venting pent-up frustrations, you might want to hold onto your options in reading "Kingdom". A curse trumps a candle anytime when dealing with Hancox's irritating omissions. Since her war with the builders of the new Globe Theater is a distraction from the flow of the remainder of her book I will glance at that before looking at the main body of her work.
In the movie "War Games" a computer nerd connects to something called, "Total Global Thermonuclear Warfare". He thinks it is a game, but it turns out to be all too real. In their cavalier and condescending attitude toward the attempts of Hancox to give them the benefit of the knowledge contained in the Byrom Collection, the academics, connected with building the new Globe theatre, gave the impression that they considered her efforts no more than a game. But to Hancox it was a war - a war to make the blind see the light. And these people knew not with whom they dealt. This lady is to persistence what the hydrogen bomb is to explosives. There are signs the tides of that war are beginning to turn in her favor. In her years immersed in the subject Hancox has learned to "walk the walk, and talk the talk" and she is now fully capable of meeting the academics on their own turf and duking it out mano a mano.
"The new Globe suffers from sight-line and acoustic problems", she says, tossing off the line effortlessly, and adds pontifically, that the dimensions of a 100-foot structure, instead of the 72-foot delineated in the Byrom drawings, resulted in over large dimensions that have a damaging effect on the ability of the actors to communicate with the audience.
"The acoustics are wrong, and the sight lines are wrong." she announces, and describes her experience viewing a performance in the theatre:
" their voices become unnaturally stretched, the timing of lines and the rhythm of speeches seemed difficult for most of the performers."
Actors and audience members alike are beginning to make similar complaints about the theater. Hancox takes no prisoners, and states categorically that the construction of the new globe has been bungled and the structure will have to be torn down so another Globe closer to the plan of the original can be built. Could this actually happen? Don't count Hancox out. After all, David slew Goliath, didn't he?
The three-storied, open-air structures of the Elizabethan theatres were constructed on a circular internal design, and a polygonal external design. Hancox traces the origin of this 'round' structure to the Knights Templar and the ideas they brought back with them from the wisdom of Islam. She notes the geometry employed in building the mosques, was adopted by the Templars, and was used in turn in the design of the Elizabethan theatres. And she notes similarities between design features in the Temple of Solomon and design features in the theatres.
The Templar buildings were 'round' structures akin to the pattern of The Temple Church in London which Hancox shows in illustration 34 of her book. The Elizabethan theatres with their 'round' structures, flourished for over seventy years and was the birthplace of the world's greatest dramas. There were nine in all. The first, the 'Theatre', was built north of the Thames in 1576. Two more, the Curtain and the Fortune, were also built north of the Thames, while the remaining six were built south of the river. The Rose, built in 1587, staged most of Marlowe's plays, while the Globe, built first in 1599 and rebuilt in 1614 after it was destroyed by fire, was home to the Shakespeare plays. The Swan was built in 1595-6. The Fortune, built in 1600, was deliberately constructed as a square version of The Globe.
Hancox says the Elizabethan theatre did not evolve simply by accident. She says the place to look for the genesis of the theatre is Queen Elizabeth and her political agenda, and the select circle of aristocratic courtiers and servants who acted as patrons to the theatre companies as part of that agenda. She tumbles almost immediately to the realization that John Dee and his close associates, who were connected with the genesis of the Elizabethan theatre, "were part of a network concerned with codes and espionage." But either she fails to perceive, or else fails to mention, the broad canvas on which most of the events connected with the early Elizabethan theatre took place, i.e. - the war with Spain. In my opinion, she could have benefited from Ida Sedgwick Proper's 1953 book, "Our Elusive Willy". As nutty as Proper's book was, she realized the theatre and the actors played an important role in Walsingham's Secret Service covert operations in the war effort.
Hancox also alludes throughout her book to the presence of a secret brotherhood with which these people were connected, and repeatedly hints that this brotherhood was the Freemasons. But she spoils her insight by her omissions in presenting the proper source references. Lyrics from the song by Country Music singer, Lee Ann Womack, proclaim,
"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance - I hope you dance - I hope you dance."
Hancox has her sense of wonder intact, and instead of sitting it out, she chose to dance. She dances all over the place, and many times, throughout her book, she dances right to the edge of proclaiming that the people from the Elizabethan ruling class, who were connected with the origin of the Elizabethan theatres were Freemasons,- something I found quite interesting.
For example, she begins chapter 2 of her book by glancing at the mansion built at Gorhambury, Hertfordshire, between 1563 and 1568 by Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and father (some Baconians would say foster-father) of Francis Bacon. She notes the site Sir Nicholas chose was near St. Albans, where a Benedictine abbey, built by the Hond Operative Masons, had once flourished, and adds that since the Templars had modeled their order on the Benedictine rule, there was an additional and appropriate resonance to the name, 'The Temple', by which Gorhambury became known. She says,
"An interesting feature of the layout was the orientation of the chapel, where the altar was set at the west end instead of the east. In doing this Sir Nicholas had a deliberate intention :
"The whole layout, orientation and progression of this part of the house carefully echoes that of Solomon's Temple: moving from east to west, one entered the hall (or Holy Place) via the porch, then one passed through the hallway (the Veil) to gain entrance to the chapel (or Holy of Holies) with the altar (Ark of the Covenant) in the west.(3)"
It would have been a nice touch if Hancox had mentioned at this point that in 1567, while construction of the chapel was in process, Francis Russell and Sir Thomas Greham were joint Grandmasters of the Freemasons in England, and both had close ties to Sir Nicholas Bacon. Francis Russell was a close family friend, and Sir Nicholas arranged a marriage of one of his sons to the daughter of Sir Thomas in 1569. Although the temple of the Freemasons is modeled after the Temple of Solomon, the orientation is reversed. The entrance is at the West end, and moves from West to East In view of the fact that many people have sought to connect Francis Bacon to the Freemasons, and that the quote Hancox gives above would tend to indicate Bacon's connection with the Freemasons, and moreover, would support the supposition that the orientation of the Freemason lodge had been east to west up until Francis Bacon reversed it for purposes of his own symbolism, this was "An interesting feature" indeed, and I hurriedly turned to her notes at the back of the book to look at the reference under chapter 2, item 3. (Be still my beating heart!). But what did I find when I got there?:
"3. Peter Dawkins, 'Dedication to the Light', The Francis Bacon Research Trust Journal, series 1, vol. 3, 1984, p. 72."
Bottom line: based on Dawkins word alone, without proper substantiation by citing the source from which it came, this bit of information is essentially worthless. Yet Hancox, while giving no indication whether the source from which it came was cited by Dawkins, proceeds to use the information in support of her arguments as if it is established fact set in concrete. Okay, I confess. I'm upset because Hancox did not give the proper reference. This information could have been very useful, but as it is, it is of doubtful value. As a responsible journalist it is incumbent on her to adopt a more circumspect attitude toward the information.
In her demonstration of the connection of John Dee with the Elizabethan theatre, Hancox traces out his connections with Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester); and with the Earls of Derby (the Stanleys); and the Earls of Pembroke (the Herberts). She demonstrates an exceptionally close connection between Dee and Dudley, and says Dudley (who, in turn, had an exceptionally close connection with Queen Elizabeth) was Dee's conduit to court. .
THE EARLS OF DERBY
She notes Dee was appointed to Wardenship at Manchester College in April of 1595, a position which he kept for ten years. His predecessor in the position had been Dr. William Chadderton who was chaplain to Leicester when Leicester became patron of Burbage's company of actors prior to the building of the Theater in 1576. And Chadderton had decided to live in Manchester, close to another member of the Commission, Henry Stanley, fourth Earl of Derby. Chadderton had carried out his duties in close association with Lord Derby who, from 1579 frequently stayed in Manchester at Alport Lodge, a 95 acre estate near the college.And Chadderton was a frequent visitor to the magnificent Derby country houses at Lathom and Knowsley.
The Stanleys were among the aristocratic families who had long been associated with playwrights and actors. Hancox cites Dee's association with the Derby's as one of the numerous instances of evidence of his association with the theatre. She also brings out an interesting association with the theatre in her description of the lost screen of Lathom. In 1576 Henry Parker designed a magnificent screen for the great hall at Lathom which was painted by Thomas Chaloner of Chester, a herald painter and genealogist by profession, and also one of the players in the Chester cycle of secular plays. Hancox says the screen provided a richly symbolic background for the visiting companies of players to perform against, and describes the screen as follows:
"It showed a picture of the universe with the planets in their settled order and degree, the procession of the twelve signs of the zodiac, 'how therwith the dozen signs are led and brought about', the passing of time from day to night and on again to day. For educated spectators of tragic or comic events unfolding in front of it, it provided resonances which today we can only guess at. The screen was, I believe, the equivalent of, perhaps an inspiration for, the design of the 'Heavens' which decorated the roof overhanging the open stage of the playhouse. We know this roof was called the 'Heavens' from the contract for the Hope theatre (built 1614), which stipulates that the builder, Gilbert Katherens, 'shall builde the Heavens all over the saide stage'. That this was decorated with stars and signs of the zodiac is clear from textual references in plays of the time."
Hancox had previously pointed out that Dee's Monad was designed to replicate the pattern of the universe. She points out that the screen at Lathom is clear evidence of the design in the Elizabethan theatres of a "Theatre of the World" in which Man the Microcosm was to play his part within the Macrocosm. She says the "Starrs mall" in the Elizabethan theatres, where the groundlings stood, which was open to the sky so if a spectator looked up he would see above him the pathway of the stars, was a deliberate design to reflect the relation of the microcosm to the macrocosm. This seems to be part of her intuitive aptitude for making fortunate discoveries. Although she is not aware of it, the design of the entire First Folio of Shakespeare's Collected plays has many features in common with the screen at Lathom. She goes on to point out that cosmography became a highly developed science at the time, and ideas from this science were reflected in the great households. For example, William Cecil's mansion at Theobalds had a ceiling that contained the signs of the zodiac with the stars proper to each, where by some ingenious mechanism the Sun was made to pursue its course across them. Then she says, referring to the Temple of Solomon, "the dimensions of the tiring house at the first Globe theatre reflected those of the Holy of Holies."
THE EARLS OF PEMBROKE
Hancox says the earliest earls of Pembroke, the FitzGilberts, had close connections with the Templar knights and their properties in London. They also maintained the tradition in their family of supporting the strict branch of the Benedictine order, the Cistercians, who settled sometime around 1150 at Tintern Abbey. This continued for almost a 100 years until this Earldom reverted to the Crown in 1245. In 1339 Edward III created Laurence Hastinges Earl of Pembroke, choosing to affirm the renewal of the Pembroke earldom on October 13th, the anniversary of the day when, in 1307, King Philip the Fair of France launched his attack on the Knights Templar. Hancox theorizes that by renewing the earldom while the memory of the suppression of the Templars was still fresh, on the anniversary of the date of the beginning of their suppression, Edward III was expressing a hope for a return to Templar chivalry and ideals.
The Earls of Pembroke of Bacon's era, another family of theatre patrons, were the Herberts. This creation began in the reign of Henry VIII with Sir William Herbert, who became the brother-in-law of the king when Henry VIII married Katherine Parr. John Dee entered his service in February of 1553. This William Herbert was succeeded by the second Earl of Pembroke, Henry Herbert, who took for his third wife, Mary Sidney, young daughter of Sir Henry Sidney, and sister of Philip Sidney. Henry maintained a company of actors. He was succeeded by his two sons the third and fourths earls, William and Philip. These were the 'most noble and incomparable paire of brethren' to whom the First Folio of Shakespeare's works were dedicated in 1623. Hancox notes that
"According to one source, William became Grandmaster of the Freemasons in 1618, succeeding Inigo Jones of whom he had been a patron."
During her visits to the Science Museum Hancox was shown, "a series of three-dimensional copies in brass of platonic solids and with them some engraved brass plates of various shapes and sizes". In the Globe sequence of drawings in the "Byrom Collection" there was a circular card on which was thewords, "Underneath is the sets of the brass patterns for the larger and lesser Starrs mall". When Hancox superimposed one of the small round brass plates upon an exact copy of a Byrom card there was an exact fit. To rule out coincidence she did the same with a number of other cards from the Byrom Collections. The results were all the same. When she examined the pattern of the Byrom drawings against the patterns on the brass plates she found that the patterns matched in every way, except the cards were a reverse, mirror image of the plates. That is, the brass plates had been used to print the cards. Having established this Hancox embarked on a search to determine the origin of the brass plates.
She began to study the history of brass-making in England. As her research continued she zeroed in on Tintern in the Wye Valley. In 1565 "The Company of the Mineral and Battery Works" set up its operations within the precincsts of the former Tintern Abbey. A plaque on the abbey wall states, 'in 1568 brass was first made by alloying copper with zinc'. In May 1568 the company was granted a royal charter and among the list of shareholders were Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Earls of Pembroke, Leicester, and other highly places members of the ruling class. At this point brass making was in an experimental stage and took years to perfect. Flash forward to the year 1611. Hidden away in the Calendar of State Paper Domestic, Hancox found the following entry for May 7, 1611:
"Robert Lord Lisele [Robert Sidney, brother of Philip Sidney], Sir Francis Bacon and others of the Company of Wireworkers (to Salibury). Ask for preference as purchasers of the King's wood to be sold in the Forest of Dean for the use of their works at Tintern and Whitbrook."
In the records of the Acts of the Privy Council of England for November 22, 1613, she came across a warrant to the Constable of the Forrest of Dean that included the following passage:
"Whereas upon information of much abuse and disorder in the felling and cutting of wood and tymber trees within the Forrest of Dean, as well by reason of a contracte lately made on his Majestie's behalfe with the Earl of Pembroke, touching the delivery of certen cordes of wood "
So now she had information that established Francis Bacon as joint owner of the Works along with William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke, who a few year later became Grandmaster of the Freemasons in England, and a few years after that was one of the "Incomparable Brethren" to whom the First Folio of the collection works of Shakespeare was dedicated.. To put things in context, at this particular time Inigo Jones (patron of Ben Jonson) was Grandmaster of the Freemasons in England, however William Herbert assumed the role in 1618 and was Grandmaster until 1630 (source - Anderson's Constitutions).
One of the people Hancox discussed the plates with was Leon Crickmore who had been head of the department of applied philosophy at a London polytechnic. Crickmore suggested Hancox read John Michell's, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?" When Hancox began to flip through the pages of Michell's book they fell open at an illustration in the section dealing with Bacon, and the illustration mentioned Chepstow.
Chepstow was a small Welsh town barely 5 miles from Tintern, linked to Tintern by the River Wye. The illustration caption read,
"From his Wheel of Fortune Owen learnt that Bacon's manuscripts were hidden beneath the River Wye at Chepstow, and spent several seasons in search of them, hiring workmen for underwater excavations."
Dr. Owens is a questionable information source, nevertheless, Hancox found Owens believed Bacon had a residence at "Mount St. Alban's" near the Tintern Brass works. Following this lead she was led to an article about Owen's theories in the March 11, 1911 Illustrated London News. The reported listed six 'facts' in support of Owen's theories:
1. A picture of Bacon hangs in Chepstow Castle.
2. Bacon was the Owner of the wireworks at Tintern Abbey a few miles away.
3. He lived at Mount St. Alban's, near Newport.
4. There is a petition extant in which Bacon begs from Robert Cecil the right to take wood for the Forest of Dean.
5. Bacon's father-in-law lived at Beachly, near at hand, and Bacon often visited him on his way to the wireworks.
6. He was a great friend of the Earl of Worcester, who was Lord of Chepstow.
Hancox began a search for Mount St Alban's. She says:
"In none of the books I had read about Bacon was there any mention of a house near Tintern, but I was able to piece together anecdotal evidence from local libraries of an old Elizabethan property once belonging to Francis Bacon 'up in the hills', 'off the beaten track'. Everyone agrees that it was call Mount St Alban's, a name full of Baconian resonances."
I think everyone would agree also, that it would have been nice of Hancox if she had listed her references for this statement. In any event, she eventually draws all of the strands of her investigation together to conclude that Francis Bacon was the owner of the brass plates.
While studying the handwritten catalogue that accompanied the brass plates in the Science Museum Hancox became intrigued by references to a manuscript that had been part of the original collection along with the brass plates. As she continued her research she identified this as the manuscript in the British Library catalogued under 'Theophilus Schweighardt', a work containing drawings similar to those in the Byrom Collection. The work was titled, "Speculum Sophicum Rhodo-Stauroticum" which translates as 'A Wise Man's Mirror into the Institution of the Rose'. On the front of the work was an annotation in English, 'An account of the Rosicruc: Fraternity by Theophilus Schweighardt with the addition of several prints and miniature paintings by Mr. Rose'.
Hancox notes that, allowing for variables in early German spelling, Schweighardt could be translated as 'one who is good at keeping quiet'. She also says the name 'Mr. Rose' at the front of a book containing a Rosicrucian pamphlet is more than a coincidence, 'it is a convenient nom de plume'. She could have added that with Bacon's known custom of wearing a large rose on the instep of each of his shoes would have been a nom de plume that would have very aptly applied to him. Be that as it may, she was forced to consider Bacon soon enough.
One of the first things Hancox noticed in the book was a verse that contained a references to a tennis match:
Reader this book to thee doth yeild
As Judg, who sittest allone sunk into this Sheild
The Eagle's turnd to a Lyon first to dance
wth Sor. Jove & next his pike to advance
In coat of Steel & 3dly having wonn
The field on Vulcan how unto ye sonn
he is Extoll'd, where being spy'd at Game
of Tennis with faire Venus, he for shame
doth Blush & foame wth Aphrodite art
The Heavenly Urne to joy ye Dumpish
Another page in the book had the words 'Dedicated to Q. Elizabeth'. Hancox thought the tennis match may have referred to some actual event that occurred in connection with Queen Elizabeth. An event immediately came to her mind. She remembered an incident recounted by Edith Sitwell in the The Queens and the Hive:
"At this time, when she was pretending to arrange his marriage with the Queen of Scots, the Scottish Ambassador Randolph had been scandalized by the report in the Scottish Court that while Leycester and the Duke of Norfold were playing tennis in the presence of the Queen 'Lord Robert being very hot and sweating, took the Queen's napkin out of her hand and wiped his face,' that the outraged Norfold had threatened to break the racket over his head."
This part seemed easy enough to interpret, however the remainder of the book was much more obscure. The book was addressed both to the individual reader and to 'ye brotherhood', which Hancox interpreted as a challenge to interpret the heraldic symbolism which would reveal its meaning to those with 'the understanding'. Hancox decided to bring in one of the heavy guns. She consulted Reverend Neville Barker Cryer, senior Freemason, and former secretary and editor of the leading Freemasonry research lodge, Quatuor Coronati. Cryer was an expert in the field of symbolism, and allegorical meanings. He took to the obscure 'cartoon-like' symbols of the Schweighardt Scrapbook like a duck to water, and what he found was very strange, indeed.
The indication was of some sort of 'brotherhood' with the insinuation that the information conveyed in the verse was in some way important to the group. There was an alchemistic allegory referring to a transformation in five stages, tantamount to a rebirth, by which a new form of life was created. The being was 'natural' in origin became he came from Nature, but knowledge and wisdom (Art) transmuted him into something higher. The allegory suggested the being was the child of Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, but in the context of a new order of things replacing the old. Leicester was the 'crooked God' whom, we are told, the 'loving dame' married, and the 'impe of Saturn's race' was a metaphor for a child with the noblest pedigree. The poet was saying that Elizabeth's marriage with Leicester has produced a child who constituted a new order of human being. 'Widomes lore' acts to bring things to pass. This was recapitulated on a page which was noticeably different from the rest of Schweighardt Scrapbook in that it consisted of eight separate symbols neatly arranged, but without any written commentary at all.
Inside a circle at the top was depicted a flower only half above ground with a tuber shaped root beneath it. Cryer observed,
"The overall implication of the first of the figures, coloured in red and grey, is that here we are looking at the flowering of the fruit of the ground, and, that, what appears below the line separating it from the rest has to do with the origin and flowering of whoever is referred to in the remaining symbols."
The first row of symbols beneath consisted of three symbolic illustrations. On the left was a crowned nude figure of a man reclining on his right elbow, with a child with a strangely adult face sitting upright, and appearing to have grown from his breast. In the center of this row of symbols was a peacock. And on far right on the row was a sketch of an altar with a cross above it and bones beneath it. The gist these symbols was a child emblematic of the man, in a context dealing with the rich and powerful, with the suggestion of the miraculous, and of life after death.
The next row of symbols, immediately below the first row, was made up of a pair of animals, a unicorn on the left and a stag on the right. Placed beneath the picture of the regal nude and child with the horn of the unicorn pointing in that direction, this suggested a virgin queen was involved in the conception. According to legend the way to capture a unicorn was to place a virgin in a field where the fierce and fleet-footed animal would quietly approach her and lie down with its head in her lap. The unicorn symbolized sublimated sex or courtly love, and, in Christian symbolism, was associated with the Virgin Mary and her immaculate conception. The stag was often linked with the Tree of Life because of the resemblance of its antlers to branches.
Cryer commented on the last two emblems at the bottom of the page as follows:
"And finally we have two symbols linked with a ring which no doubt signifies their union if nothing else. And this strangely shows a phoenix about to rise in flight, but attached to a naked revealed child holding a dagger and mounted on small porcus or pig, from which we get bacon."
By this time in her investigation Hancox was well aware of the theory, entertained among the Baconians, that Elizabeth and Leicester were the actual parents of Francis Bacon. She was also aware that there were, "a series of puzzling facts surrounding the orthodox account of Bacon's demise." She notes:
"We have no records of his funeral. The burial registers of St. Michael's Church, Gorhambury, St. Albans, where he was supposed to have been buried, do not include him. No funeral expenses were claimed by the administrators of his estate. According to different accounts, he died in four different houses: at Lord Arundel's; at the house of a friend, Dr Perry; at his cousin's, Sir Julius Caesar, and at his physician's Dr.Witherborne. Finally no sign of his remains was ever found in his supposed tomb."
And she ends the book confronted by the specter of a gigantic mystery. Is she dismayed, intimidated, appalled? Not Hancox. She is already champing at the bit again. Her final words in the book are:
" there are a number of questions about his [Bacon's] life that remain unanswered.
.addressing these has now become something of a personal odyssey."
So we may surmise that in another 8, or 9, or 10 years, Hancox will publish another book., and that this one will deal with Francis Bacon, and the authorship question. With her aptitude for making fortunate discoveries we may surmise that it will be chock full of fascinating information. The very idea makes me wish life had a fast-forward button so I wouldn't have to wait to take a look at that book. I anticipate that instead of a war with the builders of the new Globe theatre this time, her next war will be with the Stratfordians. Compared to the centuries long sleep of the Stratfordians, Rip Van Winkle was merely taking a cat-nap, but, who knows, maybe Hancox is just the lady who can cause some of them to wake up and smell the coffee.
Comments for Mather Walker
see The Bacon-Shakespeare Essays of Mather Walker