… My lord, your quicksilver has made all your more solid gold and silver fly in fume."
With all these attacks on a subject held in such popular esteem, with the mildest satire of Lyly's Galathea, with the more serious exposure contained in Jonson's Alchemist—with all these facts in mind, is one not likely to ask oneself, What did the master writer think of it all? As I have already pointed out, Shakespeare's writings, more than those of any contemporary dramatist, abound in allusions that show his familiarity with all the varied mass of superstition. Yet, throughout these plays Shakespeare has artfully concealed the feelings of his own heart. The only inferences that can be drawn are due to the fact that he sometimes presents one side of a case with more apparent sympathy than the other. Shakespeare's serious allusions to the subject are not infrequent. Thus, in Julius Cæsar,
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings."
And in King Lear,
"It is the stars,
The stars above us govern our conditions."
And in Pericles,
"Bring in thy daughter, clothed like a bride,
For the embracement even of Jove himself: