Ben Jonson and Lovecraft:
There is a trifling hint from Elizabethan times.  Ben Jonson, a playwright and a friend of William Shakespeare, like Newton had an unfortunate habit of killing people.  Newton with his impeccable style always did it by legal means.  Jonson was less fussy.  Jonson’s best play was “The Alchemist,” and it contains a remarkable scene in which Doll Common, a lady of the night and the most intelligent of the gang of swindlers whose adventures the play follows, is pretending to be a noble lady driven insane by her intense and profound studies.  I give the scene in part, including only Ms Common’s words: 

SCENE 4.3.
DOL. "For after Alexander's death" -- That Perdiccas and Antigonus, were slain, 
The two that stood, Seleuc', and Ptolomee" -- Made up the two legs, and the fourth beast, 
That was Gog-north, and Egypt-south: which after Was call'd Gog-iron-leg and 
South-iron-leg" -- And then Gog-horned. So was Egypt, too: Then Egypt-clay-leg, and 
Gog-clay-leg" -- And last Gog-dust, and Egypt-dust, which fall In the last link of the 
fourth chain. And these Be stars in story, which none see, or look at" -- For," as he 
says, "except We call the rabbins, and the heathen Greeks To come from Salem, and from 
Athens, And teach the people of Great Britain To speak the tongue of Eber, and Javan We 
shall know nothing Where then a learned linguist Shall see the ancient used communion Of 
vowels and consonants A wisdom, which Pythagoras held most high To comprise All sounds of 
voices, in few marks of letters" -- And so we may arrive by Talmud skill, And profane 
Greek, to raise the building up Of Helen's house against the Ismaelite, King of Thogarma, 
and his habergions Brimstony, blue, and fiery; and the force Of king Abaddon, and the 
beast of Cittim: Which rabbi David Kimchi, Onkelos, And Aben Ezra do interpret Rome."

This is a remarkable accomplishment.  It always seems that she is just about to make sense and then suddenly she doesn’t.  It is not only quite a feat for an uneducated woman, it is quite a feat for Ben Jonson.  Let’s see.  She starts with the quarrels that followed the death of Alexander the Great.  Gog is a frost giant, so that is right, and Egypt is in the south.  There is a reference to an idol made of different materials but with clay feet.  That’s biblical.  Then she remarks that this is occult material that none study.  Salem is Jerusalem.  Then she wanders off into linguistics.  Then something about rebuilding the ancient wisdom.  Then she is off into Revelation

In clinical medicine we call the “word salad.”  It is the speech of someone whose mental processes are very disordered.  The scene continues:

And Aben Ezra do interpret Rome."
FACE. How did you put her into't?
MAM. Alas, I talk'd
Of a fifth monarchy I would erect,
With the philosopher's stone, by chance, and she
Falls on the other four straight.(From Project Gutenberg, Ben Johnson, “The Alchemist”)  


That is right, too.  A person subject to word salad expression can be clued into it by raising the subject about which the monologue tends to run.  The rest of the play is considered excellent, but this scene is just too perceptive.  Perhaps Jonson had a sudden fit of genius.  Or maybe Shakespeare helped him with the scene; it is quite within Shakespeare’s performance envelope. 

Or just maybe Jonson had encountered someone giving this very speech, listened to it a number of times and remember enough of it to make use of it.  Obviously the condition he is exploiting is very distressing, but typically it is not distressing to the speaker.  Doll carries on enthusiastically, as if she is happy to be telling you really important stuff.  And at least in my experience, the verbal torrent is accompanied by a contrasting physical torpor.  The words are animated but the body is not.  Bystanders may act is if the person is not actually there.  So just maybe there was some person who acted as the model for Doll Common, someone Doll is imitating. 

So could this be somebody who had studied the ancient Mid East, found the secret of history and was driven mad by it?  It does not seem likely.  This was the Renaissance.  The new wisdom that everyone was excited about was fresh from the Islamic sources that had kept it for centuries.  There was just not so very much that was not ancient Greek, Roman, biblical or Islamic to rave about in those days.

However, there does seem to be a thread, a spider web connecting Doll common with Newton and Poe, centuries apart though they were.  Three elements, ancient history, deep study and madness, go together.  In another century, H. P. Lovecraft, also a man of highly analytic mind, if a horror story writer, would pick up on the same pattern.  His imaginary magical book the Necronomicon, was written by an imaginary mad Arab.

Even taking all four together, there is no real evidence.  There is just enough to tease us.

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