Hamlet’s Universe Part 7 of 9
Sixth/Seventh is Leonard Digges and son Thomas Digges.
A book by Leonard Digges was published by his son Thomas and dedicated to Sir Nicholar Bacon, father of Francis:
A geometrical practise, named Pantometria”, by Digges, Leonard, d. 1571? Imprinted at London : By Henrie Bynneman, 1571. Dedicated to Nicholas Bacon
The dedication reads in part:
“To the right honorable my singular good Lord Sir Nicholas Bacon Knight, Lord Keeper of the great Seal of England. Calling to memory Right Honourable, and my singular good Lord, the great favor your lordship bare my father in his lifetime, and the conference it pleased your honor to use with him touching the sciences mathematical, especially in geometrical mesurations, perusing also of late certain volumes that he in his youth time long sithens had compiled in the English tongue, among others I found this geometrical practice, which my father (if God had spared him life) minded to have presented your honor withal.”
Francis Bacon recalled his father and Leonard Digges discussing geometry. So it appears that Sir Nicholas and Leonard were close enough that Leonard had been in the Bacon household. At least, Sir Nicholas should have received a copy of the book Pantometria that was dedicated to him. Then, Francis, who read pretty much everything, would very likely have read it. He may even, as a youngster, have received his distaste of Aristotle from this book and learned of the scientific attitude of thought that the Digges’ developed.
Yet, I haven’t found Bacon mentioning Thomas in his writings, though I can’t say I’ve done an exhaustive search. Prof. Usher said that even William Gilbert, who was pretty well versed in astronomy was not familiar with the works of Thomas Digges. It seems doubly surprising since Bacon is known to have visited John Dee who tutored and was like a father to the younger Digges.
Eighth is Thomas Harriot, and I’ll include with him Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy, since all three are lumped together in Prof. Usher’s book.
Though Bacon may not have referred to Harriot in his books, we know that Harriot, Raleigh and Bacon were all connected to the Virginia company and its explorations. Thomas Harriot was on Sir Walter Raleigh’s first expedition of 1594. Bacon was one of the Council members from the Second Virginia Charter. When Raleigh was in the tower he was visited by his friends “Here Bacon, Ben Jonson, Sedden, Hariot, Allen, Walter Warner and Robert Huer, to name but a few, would come and discourse with Sir Walter on mathematics, astronomy, anatomy, theology, and a hundred other “obscure parts of learning.” At times Raleigh would step over to the Martin Tower to have a chat with the “wizard-Earl” of Northumberland. Ben Jonson wrote a ‘brilliant preface’ to Raleigh’s History of the World, and Hariot is said to have written the scientific section. (See Tower of London by Richard Davey for these references). And Harriot said that he corresponded with Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician and astronomer who had assisted Tycho Brahe.
One Baconian writer (Mather Walker I think) researched and wrote that: After the Gunpowder Treason of the papists, Guy Fawkes and his fellows, was uncovered on November 5, 1605, the little monster, Robert Cecil, seized upon the occasion to realize his ambition of destroying Henry Percy. Even though evidence was lacking Cecil managed to get the Earl convicted on several counts, and have him confined to the Tower for life. Percy drew his scientific retainers - Harriot, (Walter) Warner, (Robert) Hues, (Nathanael) Torporley, and (Thomas) Allen into the Tower, and Raleigh (who had already been cast into the Tower) was there along with the rest of them. Percy had all of his scientific equipment set up in the tower, and there is a record from personal notes Bacon made in 1608 that refers to: "The setting on work, my Lord of Northumberland, and Raleigh, and therefore Harriot, themselves being already inclined to experiments." The importance of this is that not only was Bacon active in staying up on the latest experiments and observations in astronomy in England and elsewhere but he appears to have been actively involved in directing some of this work, maybe even influencing some of the work of Galileo to have some questions of his answered.
Though Bacon isn’t mentioned, this is referred to in the Wikipedia article on Henry Percy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Percy,_9th_Earl_of_Northumberland
It seems they had at least one telescope in the Tower with them and together may have contributed to the title of ‘School of Night’ (since they were studying the night sky, among many other matters) mentioned in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Prof. Usher mentions this possibility in his second book on page 60.
The above has been to show that Bacon was close enough to these individuals having an interest in science and astronomy that he could easily have written about them while masking their actual identities.
Next we will look at more direct links of Bacon’s writing and that in Hamlet.