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Ron Heisler - Two Worlds that Converged: Shakespeare and the Ethos of the Rosicrucians

Article originally published in The Hermetic Journal, 1990.

Two Worlds that Converged:
Shakespeare and the Ethos of the Rosicrucians

Ron Heisler ©

In a 1986 article on "Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians", I dissected a late play that Shakespeare wrote jointly with John Fletcher, The Two Noble Kinsmen. Relying mainly on internal evidence, I found some very strong Rosicrucian affinities, particularly the striking scene in which a quasi-religious ceremony takes place in the temple of Diana, at which a rose plays a crucial role. Emilia declares that "a rose is best" and then explains:

"It is the very emblem of a maid:
For when the west wind courts her gently
How modestly she blows and paints the sun
With her chaste blushes! When the north comes near her,
Rude and impatient, then, like chastity,
She locks her beauties in her bud again
And leaves him to base briars." 1 (II. ii.)

The play as we know it probably was premiered in early 1613 and I felt it somewhat of a coincidence that at Christmas 1611 the great Rosicrucian Michael Maier sent a "greetings card" to James I, which expressed the cryptic hope "May the Rose not be gnawed by the Canker of the North Wind…"

Since 1986 I have had some leisure to explore Shakespeare's friends and acquaintances in depth, seeking for Rosicrucian clues - and hoping against hope that for once literature's greatest, most opaque and most secretive figure will have relaxed his guard. Readers must judge the results for themselves.

Richard Field

Born at Stratford-on-Avon on November 16th 1561, Richard Field is presumed to have attended the local grammar school. This probably accounted for his becoming England's outstanding printer-linguist. In 1579 he came to London to be bound to the printer George Bishop; it was agreed, however, that he should serve the first six of the seven years apprenticeship with the great Huguenot printer, Thomas Vautrollier, a decision which coloured his future career greatly. In 1587 he married Vautrollier's widow, Jacqueline, acquiring a backlist of titles of considerable quality, with an evident Protestant emphasis. He prospered: not the richest of the London printer-booksellers, he was one of the more successful by the time he died in December 1624. His status is underlined by the fact that he served as Master of the Stationers' Company in 1619 and again in 1622.2

Field's relationship with Shakespeare is illuminated, alas, by a sparsity of hard facts. His father Henry died at Stratford-on-Avon in 1592; John Shakespeare, the Bard's father, helped to value Henry's goods and chattels on the 25th August.3 On the 18th April 1592 Field entered Venus and Adonis on the Stationers' Register, which he printed in a fine first edition. In 1594 he printed the first edition of The Rape of Lucrece, which was published, however, by John Harrison the elder. The quality of both first editions has been usually attributed to Field's personal interest in doing justice to the poetry of his friend. The last "hard fact" in our litany concerns Love's Martyr, or Rosalin's Complaint… by Robert Chester; published in 1601, it has appended poems by Marston, Chapman, Ben Jonson and "Ignoto" - and Shakespeare's most mysterious poem, The Phoenix and the Turtle. Sold by Edward Blount, the frontispiece shows Fields's printing device. Strangely, he was not called upon to print the Sonnets.

Cymbeline was probably written in early 1610 and Shakespeare includes an allusion, which is perceived as referring to Field - a very private joke indeed. When Imogene discovers the headless corpse of what she believes to be her beloved Posthumous (IV. ii.), Caius Lucius asks her, "…say his name, good friend." She replies, "Richard du Champ" - Richard of the Field.4

The extent of the influence of Giordano Bruno on Shakespeare's thought has been debated for over a century now, principally occasioned by Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. Unquestionably the phrases "the whips and scorns of time, the proud man's contumely" are distilled from Bruno's Oratio valedictoria on leaving Wittenberg university, where he complains of "the whips and scorns of vile and foolish men who, although they are really beasts in the likeness of men, in the pride of their good fortune, are full of evil arrogance." But many other parallels - to Bruno's general philosophical weltanschauung - have been detected in Hamlet.5

Field's apprenticeship to Vautrollier is important here, although mystery swathes the whole issue like Scotch mist. Bruno published at least four tracts in England in 1584/5, and his attack on the reactionaries of Oxford, although probably printed abroad, was surely aimed at an English market. But none of the tracts came off Vautrollier's printing presses. However, early in the 18th century Thomas Baker wrote to the great bibliographer Ames that Vautrollier "was the printer of Jordanus Brunus in the year 1584, for which he fled, and the next year being at Edinburgh in Scotland, he first taught that nation the way of good printing, and there staid until such time as by the intercession of friends he had got his pardon…" Alas, most of the papers of the Star Chamber have been destroyed for this period, and Vautrollier's actual offense is impossible to determine, although, according to the records of the Stationers' Company, Vautrollier "at the time of his decease was noe printer", and they link the matter to a Star Chamber decree. Vautrollier's offense must have been very great, since he had acquired over the years patrons of the greatest influence at court, including Lord Burghley. From the press of John Charlewood came the "English" tracts of Bruno - but perhaps to the commission of Vautrollier.6 Yet Vautrollier it was who printed the work on the "Art of Memory" by Bruno's Scottish friend, Alexander Dicson, in 1585 and who probably published Thomas Watson's tract on the same subject in the same year. Moreover, again in the same year, he published a work by yet another friend of Bruno's, the great jurist, Alberigo Gentile.

I am totally sceptical towards any argument of mere coincidence as an explanation of the fact that Hamlet's great "To be or not to be" soliloquy is clearly based not merely on writings of Bruno subsequently associated with Vautrollier, but also upon a text indisputably printed by him, Dr Timothy Bright's Treatise on Melancholy (1586) which eventually inspired Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. Bright is notable for more that one reason. In 1590 Rudolf Goclenius published at Marburg University, which later became a spawning ground for Rosicrucians, a compilation with a contribution by Bright. And a generation later the Yorkshireman Dr Edmund Deane published Spadacrene Anglica. Or the English Spaw-Fountaine (1626), in which he reminisced about "Doctor Timothy Bright of happy memory a learned Physitian (while he lived, my very kind friend, and familiar acquaintance)…"7 Deane was probably a Rosicrucian and almost certainly Robert Fludd's friend. He edited eight tracts by the alchemist Samuel Norton, which were published at Frankfurt on Main by Fludd's friend, William Fitzer. A letter survives in which Deane addresses Theodorus Gravius, chemical assistant to Dr Richard Napier of Lynford, the magician, as his "loveing brother".

Of all Field's later publications, the most intriguing is the Janua Linguarum Quadrilinguis. Or a Messe of Tongues, which his friend Matthew Lownes printed in 1617. A polyglot dictionary of phrases, originating from the Irish college at Salamanca, it was dedicated to Prince Charles and signed "Io. Barbier Parifiensis". Behind the French pseudonym stood an Alsatian, his identity revealed only in the introduction to the Janua Linguarum Silinguis, published at Strasbourg in 1629 by Eberhard Zetzner. Isaac Habrecht lets on in his 1629 preface that he himself had contributed sections to the 1617 London version.

Habrecht is an important figure in our ongoing discussion of international Rosicrucian cross-currents. A physician and mathematician, he died in 1633. Like the main author of the Rosicrucian manifestos, J.V. Andreae, he became vehemently anti-Rosicrucian, conducting attacks under the sobriquet of Hisiam sub Cruce Atheniensem. But his Eines Newen ungewohnlichen Sterns, oder Cometen… in 1618, one of a flood of works on the significance of comets, suggests to me that we should qualify our general impression of his attitude. The tract refers to the cometary observations of John Dee and Thomas Digges in 1572 and to the fall of the Earl of Somerset in the Overbury affair; it also includes three references to the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, including a comment on their interpretation of cometary phenomena of 1600 and 1604.8 The neutral tone of these suggests to me that Habrecht at the time of writing had not quite given up on the Rosicrucians. It was he who, in VIII Miraculum Artis, claimed that Robert Fludd was the model for the brother in the Fama who had cured a Duke of Norfolk of leprosy.

On the 24th June 1623 Matthias Bernegger, a member of Andreae's Societas Christiana in 1620, who, like Habrecht, worked in Strasbourg, informed Zincgref that Habrecht had obtained the poems of Georg Rudolff Weckherlin.9 Weckherlin's diary of the 1630's suggests that he may have been a Rosicrucian. An Anglophile, he spent three consecutive years in England between 1607 and 1614, probably in the service of the Wurtemberg ambassador. In 1616 he again visited England, marrying an English bride; in 1624 he became an under-secretary of state at Whitehall.10 Even if Habrecht had never visited England, it is conceivable that Weckherlin may have acted as his intermediary.

Field had a zest for the occasional medical book. In 1594 he published John Hester the Paracelsian's The pearl of practice… for phisicke and chirurgerie, which had been expended by John Fourestier. Hester had been Gabriel Harvey's friend. The book was dedicated to Sir George Carey, Sir Walter Ralegh's friend. Hester's Hundred and Fourteen Experiments was actually dedicated to Ralegh. In 1605 Field published Christopher Wirsung's The general practice of physicke, translated and augmented in the English by Dr James Mosan. Mosan was to become a personal physician to Moritz, the Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel; it is inconceivable that the first editions of the Rosicrucian manifestos could have been published in Kassel without Moritz's express approval, who was later rumoured to be a Rosicrucian.

That Field and Dr Matthew Gwinne were friends is highly probable. Gwinne was the associate of John Florio, Giordano Bruno and Robert Fludd. In 1605 Field published Gwinne's two Gresham College lectures and in 1612 he brought out Gwinne's devastating dissection of Francis Anthony's aurum potabile, In assertorem…, done at the behest of the College of Physicians. Fludd's friend, Dr William Paddy, was one of two censors approving the book. Gwinne, incidentally, was a minor playwright. On the 27th August 1605 James I was greeted at Oxford by a Gwinne playlet in which three sibyls prophesied that the descendants of Banquo - among whom James was numbered - would reign for ever ("imperium sine fine"). Kenneth Muir accepts that this was the probable model for the prophesies of the witches in Shakespeare's Scottish play, Macbeth.11

Two other authors in Field's list cry out for special mention. In 1604 he printed a work by Robert Fludd's patron, Dr John Thornborough, lauding the union of England and Scotland under James I. But of far greater significance is his close association with William Bedwell, a fine mathematician and pioneer Arabist. Between 1612 and 1615 Field published four of Bedwell's books, three being of a mathematical nature. Bedwell is an important link with the Rosicrucian world. Of Robert Fludd, Thomas Hearne observed in 1709 that "he was much admir'd by the famous Mr [John] Selden, chiefly, I think for this reason, because he was of the Rosa-Crucian sect, and addicted himself to Chymistry, of wch Mr Selden himself was an admirer…" Now Bedwell was in the habit of borrowing books from John Selden and vice-versa. And in 1612 Bedwell lodged at Leiden at the house of Thomas and Govaert Basson, the publishers.12 It was from the Basson press that Fludd's first two tracts defending the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross poured forth.

Edward Alleyn

One of the two great tragedians of his age, Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College, led the Lord Admiral's Men for many years. Between 1590 and 1593, when that troupe seems either to have merged - or gone into partnership - with Shakespeare's company, Lord Strange's Men, he played the title-role in the Bard's Titus Andronicus. It was the Admiral's Men who performed Palamon and Arcite several times in 1594, of which no text survives and for which the author is unknown, and which I strongly suspect (a) was by Shakespeare and (b) was the original script from which The Two Noble Kinsmen arose. Whatever the truth, Alleyn almost certainly played one of the leads in 1594. There is a mysterious Hamlet - possibly by the Bard - being played in that year also. Alleyn probably bagged the part.

An alchemist, Alleyn provided medical potions for friends. His diary record the purchase of a pewter limbeck on the 29th June 1621. He was a patient of Robert Fludd's friend, William Harvey. He bought pills made to Harvey's prescriptions in 1619 and 1620. He even dined with Harvey on the 30th May 1619. In 1619 he took a lotion prescribed by another of Fludd's close friends, Dr Gulston. On the 6th August 1620 he dined with Dr Matthew Gwinne. It is not surprising, in the light of these connections, that we find him dining on the 7th April 1620 with "doc: Fludd". Alleyn's father-in-law, again of the Lord Admiral's Men, Philip Henslowe, was paying rent to Fludd's father, Sir Thomas Fludd, on the 27th April 1599. That Alleyn was a keen Palatinist is not unexpected. His wife subscribed to the Queen of Bohemia's fund on the 8th August 1620.13 When fifty seven years of age, Alleyn shocked the social world by marrying the twenty year old daughter of a keen Palatinist, who had come under Rosicrucian influence, John Donne.

The Digges Family, Thomas Russell and Sir Robert Killigrew

In 1590 Richard Field produced an edition of Leonard Digges's An arithmetical warlike treatise named Stratioticos "revised, corrected and augmented" by Leonard's son, the great mathematician Thomas Digges.The Digges family were connected with the Bard over many years, it would seem. It has often been wondered where he got the obscure Danish names of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, those famous characters in Hamlet. They were in fact ancestors of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. In 1590 Brahe sent a letter to Thomas Savile, in which he desired to be remembered to John Dee and Thomas Digges. With the letter went four copies of an engraving done of his portrait - a portrait on which was to be found his ancestors' names.14

Thomas Digges died and his widow, Anne, married Thomas Russell, who acquired property near Stratford-on-Avon. Shakespeare named him as an overseer of his will. For some years Russell lived at Hartlebury, a close neighbour of the occupant of Hartlebury Castle, Dr John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester. The bishop's daughter, Jane, married one Francis Finch - and Russell planned to make the young man his heir. Thornborough, and alchemical writer, was also a patient of Dr John Hall, the Bard's son-in-law. He was Robert Fludd's patron, Fludd visiting him at Hartlebury. A work Thornborough published is replete with references to Fludd's writings. Simon Forman, the magician-physician, had been Thornborough's servant at Oxford.15 Richard Field the printer - like members of Shakespeare's troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men - was a patient of Forman's incidentally. On the 30th August 1596 a "Richard Field", described as being 37 (actually, he was born in 1561), visited the physician: he had swallowed a gold coin which "lies in the pit of the mouth of the stomach".16

But we have digressed from the Digges family. Thomas Digges's son, Leonard, achieved immortality by contributing a good poem to the first Folio of Shakespeare's works, whilst his other son, Dudley, is of distinct Rosicrucian interest. He was a close friend of the radical Sir John Eliot, whom Charles I had goaled for his oppositional activities in parliament, and in whose handwriting there exists apparently a manuscript in English of the Rosicrucian manifesto, the Fama. When Eliot languished in the Tower, Sir Dudley Digges wrote him a letter that began with the words, "Deere Brother…" What would we not give to know for sure in what sense Eliot was Dudley's "Brother"!17

Thomas Russell's family connections were extensive, to say the least. His half-brother was the minor radical parliamentarian Sir Maurice Berkeley. Berkeley married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Killigrew, thus acquiring as brother-in-law Sir Robert Killigrew (1579-1633). Sir Robert leads right to the heart of English Rosicrucian activity. Given to making potions and cordials, Sir Robert had a strong scientific bent. Constantine Huygens, the Dutch savant and collector of Rosicrucian books, was frequently at Killigrew's home in 1622 and 1623, where he met the brilliant Rosicrucian inventor Cornelius Drebbel, the widow of Sir Walter Ralegh and John Donne.18 It is worth noting, in passing, that Killigrew had his youngest boy, Henry, educated in "grammar learning" by Thomas Farnaby;19 Richard Field published Lucan's Pharsalia in 1618 - and Farnaby had annotated it for him.

I have recounted in some detail elsewhere the squalid scandal of Sir Thomas Overbury's murder and how Michael Maier was drawn into the affair. Sir Robert Killigrew features in the scenario. In May 1613, after visiting Ralegh in the Tower, he was hailed by the incarcerated Overbury - an old friend - from a window. James I had Killigrew committed to the Fleet prison for about a month for this illicit communication. When the scandal eventually broke into the public arena, it transpired that the principal accused, the Earl of Somerset, had obtained white powders from Killigrew for Overbury's use - and claimed that one of these had effected the murderous deed. The charge did not stand up, however.20 Some of the pathetic letters the desperate, dying Overbury had smuggled out of the Tower have survived; several reveal that Michael Maier was ministering to him. At the end of one of the latter, Overbury has forged the signature of "Robert Killigrew" - obviously a ploy to fool his captors, probably done with Killigrew's foreknowledge.21 That Killigrew knew Maier is most likely.

When the storm broke in 1615 and the murder trials began, Sir Dudley Digges was ready to give evidence. Overbury had been sent to the Tower originally by James I for refusing to accept an embassy to Russia. Overbury's friends maintained that the refusal had been contrived by Somerset in order to get Overbury into James's bad books. Digges "voluntarily at the arraignment in open Court upon his oath witnessed how Sir Thomas had imparted to him his readinesse to be imployed in an Ambassage."

A "Robert Killigrew" turns up in yet another Rosicrucian context. One of the more important verse compilations of the 1620's in the British Library is Sloane MS 1792. It includes many poems by John Donne, Dr Richard Corbett, Ben Jonson and others - and a good copy of the second of Shakespeare's Sonnets, which is markedly different from that published in the 1609 edition, but which is, nevertheless, wholly the Bard's composition.22 On a covering leaf is inscribed "Robert Killigrew his booke witnes by his maiesties ape George Harifon." Following the Martin Marprelate furore at the end of the 1580's a "martin" became synonymous in popular parlance with an "ape". On the same page we find an inscription in a different hand: "JA Christchurch". James Martin, who contributed verses lauding Robert Fludd to Sophia Cum Moria Certamen (1629), was wont to use the pen-name of "Jacobus Aretius" - and certainly had matriculated at Christchurch, Oxford, in 1604. I am sure that the phrase "his maiesties ape" was a pun intended at his expense. Whether the "Robert Killigrew" mentioned was Sir Robert Killigrew the potion maker, or his son, Robert Killigrew, who matriculated at Christchurch in 1630, I cannot say.

The Salusbury Family

Over the life of Sir John Salusbury of Llewenni lay the shadow of the execution of his brother for complicity in the 1586 Babington plot. The same year, Sir John married Ursula Stanley, natural daughter of Henry Stanley, fourth Earl of Derby. The Earl's son was Ferdinando Lord Strange, with whose theatrical troupe Shakespeare was closely associated for a time. Sir John was admitted a student of the Middle Temple in London in March 1595, and it is probably from this period that we should date his acquaintanceship with Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and other poets who contributed to the book largely written by the deservedly obscure Robert Chester, Love's Martyr (1601). Professor Honigmann persuasively argues that Shakespeare's offering to the work, The Phoenix and the Turtle, is probably of rather earlier provenance and goes back to the 1580's, for the poem is written as if Shakespeare was ignorant of the fact that Sir John had fathered children.23 Various academic fantasies have inevitably been concocted over the years, including the notion that the poem is an allegory on Elizabeth and Essex. The truth is wrapped up in a letter which escaped Professor Honigmann's net. On the 12th November 1632 William Wynne wrote to Sir Thomas Salusbury, pleading to hear of his matching with some worthy virgin, lest he should die without issue, seeing that all his estate relied on "one branch or Phoenix,… your worthy self."24 Clearly, it was the custom of the Llewenni Salusburies to think of the head of their branch as a "Phoenix". Love's Martyr, we know from its printing device, was printed by Richard Field.

I have given a description of the Rosicrucian Sir William Vaughan and his Rosicrucian tract, The Golden Fleece, elsewhere.25 What needs to be added to our account is his relationship with the Salusburies. Sir John died in 1612 and was succeeded by his son, Sir Henry, the first Baronet. At some time between 1614 and 1617 Sir Henry remarried: his bride, Elizabeth, was Sir William Vaughan's sister. The Salusburies have left posterity a marvellous manuscript collection, consisting mainly of poetry, which amply testifies to the friendship between the Vaughans and the Salusburies. It also contains a poem written by Sir Henry "To my good freandes mr John Hemings & Henry Condall".26 John Heminges and Henry Condell were senior members of Shakespeare's acting company, the King's Men; it was they who edited the great 1623 first Folio of the Bard's works.

The commitment of the Salusburies to the Palatinate cause - with which the Rosicrucian movement was originally inextricably bound up - is evidences in the tragic history of Sir Henry's brother, Captain John Salusbury. The Captain led a troop of horse in the service of Frederick, the Elector Palatine, and died at Prague in 1620.27

Llewenni is situated in Denbighshire, and the gentry of that county were among the clientele of one of the most effective surgeons in the land, the Scot, Alexander Read. Brother of Thomas Read (known as Rhaedus), Latin secretary to James I and close friend of the Rosicrucians Joachim Morsius and Daniel Cramer, Alexander himself donated a work by Michael Maier to Aberdeen University. There is a surviving letter of William Wynne to Sir Thomas Salusbury (31st October 1632) in which Wynnes reminds Sir Thomas of his promise to "Mr Rede, the chirurgeon" made at Llewenni, of two lancets "for a memoriall of his office done there." Chester was the most fashionable centre in the region in this period, patronised by the Stanleys and Salusburies; and we know that Alexander Read was already active at Chester by January 1612, an intimate, valued friend there, it would appear, of Matthias de Lobel and his son, the apothecary Paul, who was attending Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower about the time of his murder.28

Sir William Vaughan

It was in 1597 that the Rosicrucian Sir William Vaughan published Erotopaignion pium, the first hard evidence we have of his interaction with Shakespeare's coterie - for the book's title-page features Richard Field's printing device. Vaughan could not help being drawn towards the charismatic figure of the Earl of Essex, for his sister-in-law was the daughter of the dangerous political adventurer, Sir Gelly Meyrick, the steward of Essex's household. Vaughan dedicated Speculum humane condicionis… (1598) to Meyrick and Poematum Libellus continens (1598) to the Earl of Essex. Meyrick played a key role in the Essex rebellion of 1601 against Elizabeth; we have on record the story of how he paid forty shillings extra to Augustine Phillips of Shakespeare's acting company, the Lord Chamberlain's; Men, for a performance of Richard II - presumably with the notorious abdication scene included, which was censored from the published editions - on the eve of the Essex uprising.29

Vaughan's theatrical connections, although he was soon to profess his contempt for stage-players (The Golden Grove chapter 66), are not exhausted by the Meyrick avenue. Canticum canticorum Salomonis has an elegy by Vaughan dedicated to the patron of the Lord Admiral's Men, Charles Howard, Lord Effingham. But this may have arisen as a consequence of Matthew Gwinne, a close friend, having a brother, Roger, who served as Howard's apothecary. Gwinne, with his intimate friend, John Florio, provided commendatory verses to Sir William's The Golden Grove of 1600. The traces of Florio's various writings have been convincingly detected in several of Shakespeare's works. Gonzalo's speech portraying a communist utopia in The Tempest was largely lifted from Florio's marvellous translation of Montaigne. Florio served the young Earl of Southampton at a time when the Earl and Shakespeare appear to have been close acquaintances: the legend goes that Southampton lent the Bard £1,000. Beyond dispute is the fact that Shakespeare dedicated both Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece to Southampton.

The murder of Christopher Marlowe in 1593 remains an enthralling mystery to this very day. Strangely, for several years no accurate descriptions of the death saw print. The notion widely circulated, in fact, that Marlowe died of the plague. Then in 1600, in As You Like It (III. iii. 9-12), Shakespeare makes an allusion to the murder which betrays, we know now, an insider's knowledge of the circumstances. By a startling coincidence, in the same year, in The Golden Grove (Chapter 3 First Book), Sir William Vaughan provided a detailed description of the deed, which is accurate in most respects. Did he and the Bard have a common source, who was at last spilling the beans? This must remain an open question.

One thing is indisputable, however: Sir William, in Carmarthen, was part of a circle of gentlemen that were very familiar with the "atheist" ideas of Giordano Bruno, which had so taken the Marlowe-Ralegh set by storm. Astronomy was a favourite pastime amongst the gentry in the district; and we have even a letter from Sir William Lower of Trefenty - about ten miles from Carmarthen - to Thomas Hariot, the great mathematician who was alleged to be the prime "atheist" in the society of Sir Walter Ralegh, discussing Bruno's ideas. Frances Yates wonders inconclusively if Sir William Vaughan was connected with Sir William Lower.30 They certainly knew each other! Lower's wife was Penelope Perrot, daughter of Sir Thomas Perrot. Lower's father-in-law was the son of Sir John Perrot. Sir William Vaughan step-mother, Lettice, was the daughter of the same Sir John Perrot. And The Golden Grove includes a commendatory verse by James Perrot, an illegitimate son of Sir John.

Among Sir William Vaughan's friends must be counted Gabriel Powel, a Denbighshire man, who had commendatory verses in three of Vaughan's tracts. Power became chaplain to Richard Vaughan, Bishop of London, and acted as Licenser of the Press on a few occasions. A manuscript title-page has survived for the 7th September 1609, inscribed with Powel's signature and the signatures, on behalf of the Stationers' Company, of Humphrey Lownes and Richard Field.31

The Stanleys

Shakespeare had intensely close connection, we suspect, with the Stanleys - the clan of the Earls of Derby - in the early 1590's, when he worked with the company of the Derby heir, Lord Strange's Men. Professor Honigmann, in Shakespeare: the 'lost years', argues convincingly that Sir William Dugdale was correct in noting down the inscription on a tomb at Tonge, Shropshire, in 1664 and remarking, " These following verses were made by William Shakespeare, the late famous tragedian." The tomb was built for Thomas Stanley, second son of Edward, Earl of Derby, and his son, Sir Edward Stanley (1562-1632). 32 The fact that Sir Edward died sixteen years after Shakespeare is neither here nor there. It was commonplace at that time for people to commission their own epitaphs whilst still living, and in any case Sir Edward may have commissioned it originally simply in memory of his father, it being carried over by natural extension to himself.

Sir Edward had a famous daughter, Venetia (born 1600), a great beauty and a bit of a tart, who finally married, in 1625, Sir Kenelm Digby.33 Digby and she had been childhood playmates. Digby, a friend of "Sandy" Napier - Dr Richard Napier of Lynford, who was given to invoking favourable spirits by the practice of angel magic on a daily basis - was a Rosicrucian, who managed to oscillate between Protestantism and Catholicism with disconcerting frequency. His Rosicrucian jewel was exhibited on occasion at meetings of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia in the early years of this century.34 His close friends included John Selden, Ben Jonson and, if we are to go by various references in letters addressed to Father Mersenne, James Martin, the eccentric eulogist of Robert Fludd.35 Venetia died unexpectedly in 1633. Sir Anthony Vandyck painted a most moving death-bed portrait of her, which now hangs in the Dulwich Gallery. On her pillow lie faded rose petals.

Ferdinando Lord Strange died in mysterious circumstances in 1594 and was succeeded by William Stanley, the sixth Earl of Derby, a man even more enthusiastic about the theatre than Ferdinando. It was stated on June 30th 1599 that "Therle of Darby is busyed only in penning comedies for the common players."36 William Stanley had a daughter, Anne, who in 1621 married Sir Robert Ker, who eventually was created Earl of Ancram. Apart from being the correspondent of William Drummond of Hawthornden and John Donne's closest friend, Ker has left us an insight into his mind in the shape of a small group of medical recipes and alchemical manuscripts, of which the outstanding example is a copy of the great Rosicrucian classic, Theophilus Schweighardt's Speculum Sophicum Rhodo-Stauroticum.37


1. The Hermetic Journal 33 (Autumn 1986). Willliam Drummond of Hawthorndon's poem on the death of W. Ramsay in 1649 was possibly inspired by the quoted lines from Two Noble Kinsmen. Drummond writes "so falls by northern blast a virgin rose…" W.C. Ward ed. Poems of William Drummond vol. II pp.175-6.
2. Dictionary of National Biography. A.E.M. Kirwood "Richard Field…" The Library 4th ser. XII (1932).
3. Mark Eccles Shakespeare in Warwickshire, section on the Fields.
4. See Robert J. Kane's note in Shakespeare Quarterly IV (1953) p. 206.
5. Hilary Gatti The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge p. 180.
6. Dic. of Nat. Biog. Annals of Scottish Printing pp. 377-93 by R. Dickson and J.P. Edmond (Ames' letter on p. 381). G. Aquilecchia is sceptical in the standard survey "Lo stampatore londinese di Giordano Bruno" Studi di Filologia Italiana XVIII (1960) pp. 101 ff.
7. A. Gentilis De Legationibus, Libri Tres. R. Goclenius… hoc est, De Hominis Perfectione… W.J. Carlton Timothie Bright… (1911) p. 151.
8. I. Habrecht Eines Newen ungewohnlichen Sterns… pp. 39,93. Rosicrucian references pp. 58, 65, 66.
9. Marian Szyrocki Martin Opitz p.146 f. 2.
10. Dic. of Nat. Biog.
11. P.H. Kocher "John Hester, Paracelsian" in John Quincey Adams Memorial Studies ed. J.G. McManaway, G.E. Dawson and E.E. Willoughby. K. Muir The Sources of Shakespeare's Plays (1977) p.208.
12. J. Thornborough A discourse plainely proving the … necessitie of the union of England and Scotland, sold by T. Chard. Remarks and Collections of Thomas Hearne vol. II (1707-1710) p. 277. A. Hamilton William Bedwell the Arabist pp. 52, 38.
13. E.K. Chambers A Short Life of Shakespeare abr. C. Williams pp. 34, 37. R.A. Foakes and R.T. Rickert Henslowe's Diary pp. 24-5. Wm. Young ed. History of Dulwick College vol. II p. 210. G.L. Hosking Life and Times of Edward Alleyn p. 190. Young op. cit. pp. 136, 186, 174 (Fludd). On Thomas Fludd, see Foakes and Rickert op.cit. p.83.
14. Leslie Hotson I, William Shakespeare pp. 123-4. One of the best works of fresh Shakespeare biography ever written.
15. Ibid. p. 273. J. Thornborough …Antiquorum Sapientum Viris coloribus depicta (1621) pp.60,68,126,127 according to W.H. Huffman Robert Fludd and the End of the Renaissance p. 189.
16. A.L. Rowse The Case Books of Simon Forman (Picador) p. 211, 90.
17. R. Heisler "Rosicrucianism: The First Blooming in Britain" The Hermetic Journal 1989 p. 50.
18. Dic. of Nat. Biog. J.A. Worp ed. De Briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens (1608-1687) Vol. I has many references to Killigrew, Donne and Drebbel, who apparently was accused of sorcery. De Jengal van Constantijn Huygens trans. A. H. Kau (1946) has much on Drebbel.
19. Athenae Oxonienses à Wood vol. IV. 621.
20. Dic. of Nat. Biog.
21. All the Maier references are given in my article on "Michael Maier and England" in The Hermetic Journal, 1989 p.122.
22. A True and Historical Relation of the Poysoning of Sir Thomas Overbury (1651) p. 22. See Gary Taylor "Some Manuscripts of Shakespeare's Sonnets" Bulletin of John Rylands Library vol. 68 (1985-6).
23. E.A.J. Honigmann Shakespeare: the 'lost years' pp. 90-113. Also Carleton Brown ed. Poems by Sir John Salusbury and Robert Chester (1914).
24. Parallels with Bruno's thought in the poem are given in Roy T. Eriksen "Un certo amoroso martine…" Spenser Studies II (1981]. W.J. Smith Calendar of Salusbury Correspondence p.81.
25. The Hermetic Journal 1989 pp. 43-5.
26. National Library of Wales MS. 5390D. Calendared in printed catalogue. John Salusbury has poems, etc. in MSS 183, 184 at Christ Church Library,Oxford.
27. National Library of Wales MS. 5390D in printed catalogue.
28. W.J. Smith op. cit. pp. 80-1. Ecclesiae Londino-Batavae Archivum vol. I ed. J.H. Hessels pp. 838-9 in particular.
29. Hotson op. cit. pp. 163-5. On Meyrick see Dic. of Nat. Biog. Edward Edwards Life of Sir Walter Ralegh II pp. 164, 166.
30. The Vaughan quote given in F.S. Boas Christopher Marlowe p. 281; Shakespeare's on p. 283. F.A. Yates A Study of Love's Labour's Lost. p. 93. Lower, in a further letter to Hariot, mentions that its "bearer" was a "Mr Vaughan" British Library MS 6789 f.427. Alas, there are many Welsh Vaughans! The play was probably premiered in the Autumn of 1599, it is generally thought.
31. Calendar of State Papers (Dom.) 1603-10 p. 542. Powell apparently only approved eight books between 1605 and 1611.
32. Honigmann op. cit. pp. 78-81.
33. Dic. of Nat. Biog. on both Kenelm and Venetia.
34. A.E . Waite The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (1961) p. 308.
35. On Martin see my article op. cit. pp. 40-42.
36. On Ferdinando see Dic. of Nat. Biog.; Honigmann op. cit. pp. 150-4. Frances Yates, in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, pp. 66-7, discusses the transmission of Edmund Spenser's Red Cross Knight from The Fairie Queene to J. V. Andreae's Chemical Wedding, which has the Rose Cross Brother. R. Johnson's Tom a Lincolne (1607) has the Red Cross Knight. Thomas Nashe, in The Supplication of Pierce Penniless, curiously addresses Amyntis (Ferdinando Lord Strange) thus: "none but thou, most curteous Amyntas, be the second mistical argument of the Knight of the Red-Crosse: Oh deus atque oeri gloria Summa tui." Quoted in The Stanley Papers. vol. I. p. 33 (Chetham Society 29). Quoted in J. Greenstreet "A hitherto unknown noble writer of Elizabethan comedies" The Genealogist (April 1891).
37. Dic. of Nat. Biog. National Library of Scotland Newbattle Collection MS 5774. He also owned MSS of works by Ripley and Isaac Hollander.