Hamlet’s Universe Part 8 of 9
I’ve previously posted here, by my rough count, over 30 Hamlet parallels, possibly unique, between Shakespeare and Bacon. In all, I’d guess, there have been posted here over 150 parallels and these are only among the best of the ‘parallels’ evidence, that has been said to exceed 1000. And I’ve also posted previously the evidence that Bacon had read the main source for Hamlet -- Saxo Grammaticus, and he’s probably the only authorship candidate known to have done so. Here are some additional parallels I discovered while researching for these posts, at least some of which I got from previous Baconians. Most relate to Hamlet.
Jupiter’s Moons: Prof. Usher writes “Textual evidence supports the proposition that Shakespeare, or his editors or collaborators, reported Galileo’s discovery in Cymbeline. The character Posthumus is sleeping fitfully the night before his scheduled execution and has a vivid dream in which ghosts of his immediate family summon the Olympian lawgiver, Jupiter, to save him. Three coincidences are noteworthy. First, the number of ghosts circling the stage and appealing to the god Jupiter happens to equal the number of bright moons that Galileo discovered orbiting the planet, Jupiter. Second, independent estimates put the date of Cymbeline as 1610, the same year as Galileo announced his discovery in “The Starry Messenger.” Third, the god Jupiter is effectively a “starry messenger” when he descends from the heaven.
Cymbeline Act 5, Scene 4, about line 30
Now Bacon’s connection is this reference to Jupiter’s moons:
“With this instrument we can descry those small stars wheeling as in a dance round the planet Jupiter;” [the four moons were called, or thought to be, stars at first].
Bacon also wrote: “because Galileo has discovered certain small wandering stars attendant upon Jupiter.”
Curiously, from the book “Francis Bacon, poet, prophet, philosopher, versus phantom Captain” by William Wignston, there is discussed a treatise dated 1640, called “Posthumus, or the Survivour” and at the end of this treatise is affixed the seal of Bacon’s close friend Sir Tobie Matthew.
Sol as a throne: Prof. Usher notes that there is an ‘uncanny resemblance between the words of Shakespeare, Copernicus, and Digges” in that they all refer to the sun as a ruler or enthroned.
“The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre
Observe degree, priority, and place…
And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
Amidst the other….”
Troilus and Cressida 1.3.90
Then Thomas Digges: “thus doth the Sun like a king sitting in his throne govern his courts of inferious powers,”
Copernicus: “In the center of all rests the sun…And so the sun, as if resting on a kingly throne, governs the family of stars which wheel around.”
Bacon also liked this metaphor: “In the region of the Sun, flame is as it were on its throne,”
First Player: Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
And passion in the gods. Hamlet 2.2.515
He’s reciting a poem of savagery which would even elicit the sympathy of the gods. Polonious then comments that the actor even has tears in his own eyes and so he becomes ‘bleary eyed’ causing a loss of ‘resolution’, astronomically speaking. The word ‘milch’ means milky, moist, or tearful. The Milky Way appears milky because the naked eye can’t resolve the individual stars that make it up.
Bacon writes of the Milky Way often. He says that with the aid of the telescope “a nearer intercourse with the heavenly bodies can be opened and carried on. For these show us that the milky way is a group or cluster of small stars entirely separate and distinct”. And he has used the word milch, though in another context: “Experiment solitary touching increasing of milk in milch beasts.” Natural History.
Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a
king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
Bacon writes: “For when a man desires to recall anything into his memory, if he have no prenotion or perception of that he seeks, he seeks and strives and beats about hither and thither as if in infinite space”.
Too much in the sun
Hamlet: Not so, my lord. I am too much in the sun. 1.2.67
Bacon: “…and that I hoped her Majesty would not be offended, that 'not able to endure the sun, I fled into the shade!'"
Wittenberg and ‘Discourse of Reason’
Hamlet: ‘O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason’
Act 1. Sce 2. 150
‘Wittenberg is then mentioned just 15 lines later’.
(This is also found in Troilus and Cressida :”Or is your blood So madly hot, that no discourse of reason…” 2.2.117
Bacon: “Martin Luther, conducted (no doubt) by an higher providence, but in discourse of reason,…” (Advancement of Learning, book I., iv. 2). This connects to Wittenberg because Martin Luther began the Reformation when he nailed the 95 theses to the Church in Wittenberg. Though Prof. Usher argues that Wittenberg is used as it was the main center for the Heliocentric model, Bacon, as the author, by association with Luther (who he seemed to have in mind – hence the quote) and the Reformation, had an additional reason to use it.
Amber and tree gum
Hamlet: “Their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum.” 2.2.200
Bacon: “It is manifest that flies, spiders, ants, or the like small creatures falling by chance into amber or the gum of trees: “ (Life and Death)
Decomposition and water
First Clown. “Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade, that he will keep out water a great while; and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body.” Hamlet 5.1.169
Bacon: “The means to induce and accelerate putrefaction are first by adding some crude or watery moisture”. Natural History
Providence in the fall of a sparrow
Hamlet: Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” Hamlet 5.2.213-215
Bacon: “It is an observation amongst country people, that years of store of Haws and Hips do commonly portend cold winters, and they ascribe it to God’s Providence, that (as the Scripture saith) reacheth even to the falling of a sparrow” (Sylva Sylvarum, EXP 737)
World’s a prison
“Guildenstern: Prison, my Lord!
Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison.
Rosincrantz: Then is the world one.” Hamlet 2.2.242-244
Bacon: “My letters out of the Tower were De Profundis; and the world is a prison” (Letter to Buckingham, 1621)
“Contagious blastments are most imminent.” Hamlet 1.3.42
Usher sees this (in its whole context) as a description of explosions as kinds of lesions and that with them Shakespeare is describing the moon’s craters. This is the first known use of the word ‘blastment’. We know that Shakespeare coined many new words, and this is something that Bacon was known for also. Bacon had used the word blast in this way: “Flame simply compressed (though it be without a blast, as in gunpowder) is yet made more furious;” He had also written: “… is conspicuous in mining with gunpowder; where vast masses of earth, buildings, and the like are upset and thrown into the air by a very small quantity of powder….”. In addition he used the word ‘contagion’ “…the passage of contagion from body to body,…”.