Dr. Spurgeon’s flawed research on Shakespeare and Bacon images – cont. (5)
(5) Dr. Spurgeon wrote that "Astronomical images reveal very definite differences between Bacon and Shakespeare, yet both hold by the old Ptolomaic system." This statement is also entirely unsupported except by one example - Shakespeare never mentions the primum mobile. Against this we will record three very striking identities between Bacon and Shakespeare’s astronomical images.
First, to both the stars are fires; Shakespeare "The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks; They are all fire." (Julius Caesar, Act III, 1); Bacon “The stars are true fires:. (Descriptio Globi Intellectualis).
Second, both Bacon and Shakespeare think of the stars as like the frets in the roofs of houses; a very unusual comparison and we think a highly individual one.
Shakespeare: “This majestical roof, the sky, fretted with golden fire,: (Hamlet)
Bacon: "For if that great Workmaster had been of a human disposition, he would have cast the stars into some pleasant and beautiful works and orders, like the frets in the roofs of houses." (Advancement of Learning).
Third, and a singular conception, is of God arranging the stars as a show and this is common to both Bacon and Shakespeare and seems to have been derived from Cicero's; De Natura Deorum. This identity is very remarkable.
Shakespeare: "This huge stage presenteth nought but shows whereon the stars in secret influence comment." (Sonnet 15).
Bacon: "Velleius, the Epicurean, needed not to have asked why God should have adorned the heavens with stars, as if he had been an AEdilis, one that should have set forth some magnificent shows or plays." (Advancement of Learning).
Deep in the consciousness of Bacon and Shakespeare lay the idea which so frequently finds expression in the works of both, that of the world as a theatre; this image is indeed a dominant one and is identical with both writers even in minor details; to enumerate these would lead us, however, too far from Dr. Spurgeon whom we will pursue on this ground only so far as to remind her that not only did Bacon and Shakespeare adhere to the old, Ptolomaic system to the end after the entire scientific world had rejected it, but they were also agreed in rejecting the Copernican theory long after the entire scientific world had accepted it. We except, of course, the opinions of the churchmen and those astronomers writing under the influence of the church.
The astronomical images, as far as these are lunar, instead of revealing very definite differences, as Dr. Spurgeon states, reveal the most startling similarity in the work of Bacon and Shakespeare. For both writers the Moon is cold and fruitless; both record her influence operating upon the earth in exactly the same way (a) By, the drawing forth of heat, (b) By the inducing of putrefaction, (c) By the increase of moisture and (d) By the exciting of the motions of spirits as in lunacies. These are set out by Bacon in Sylva Sylvarum; the first two by Shakespeare in exactly the same order in Timon of Athens, Act IV, 3; the third in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, 2, and Act III, 1; and Richard III, Act II, 2, and the fourth in Othello, Act V, 2.