PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me

TOPIC: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida

Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #4996

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Note. This section of evidence, like much of the rest I’ve presented comes from N.B.Cockburn’s book “The Bacon Shakespeare Question” (1998). It gets into more detailed analysis and arguments and so if you’re new to this authorship evidence I’d recommend you read other forum postings first, (other than the ones on The Tempest which is similar to this in the type of evidence presented).


Troilus and Cressida 1 of 9

BACKGROUND

Troilus And Cressida was first entered in the S.R. (Stationers’ Register) on 7 February 1603, as follows:

Mr. Roberts Entered for his copy in Full Court holden this day. To print when he hath gotten sufficient authority for it. The book of Troilus and Cressida as it is acted by my Lord Chamberlain’s Men.”

So the play (in the entry called a “book”, a common synonym for “play”) had been acted by Shakspere’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, but the entry does not say whether in the public Theatre or before a private audience such as at an Inn of Court. The full authority not yet obtained would have been either that of the play’s owner or of the bishops who acted as censors. In the event, Roberts never published the play, perhaps because he could not get authority.

6 years later on 28 January 1609 the play was entered in the S.R. again. This time the entry was unconditional but in the names of Richard Bonian and Henry Walley. The play was then printed. This Quarto exists in two states. The first has a title page which claims that the play had been acted by the King’s Men (the new name of Shakspere’s company) at the Globe. The second substitutes a title page which makes no mention of the King’s Men or the Globe; but an Epistle to the Reader is added. Presumably it was discovered in the course of the printing that the play had not been acted at the Globe, so this was omitted from the rest of the print run. The initial reference to the Globe may have been mere assumption from the fact that the play had been acted by Shakspere’s company.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #4997

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 2 of 3

The Epistle
Let us look at the Epistle, which is most important:

A never writer, to an ever reader. News.
Eternal reader, you have here a new play, never staled with the Stage,
never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar, and yet passing full of
the palm comical; for it is a birth of your brain, that never undertook
anything comical, vainly: And were but the vain names of comedies L4
changed for the titles of commodities, or of Plays for Pleas; you should
see all those grand censors, that now style them such vanities, flock to
them for the main grace of their gravities: especially this author’s comedies,
that are so framed to the life, that they serve for the most common L8
Commentaries of all the actions of our lives, showing such a dexterity and
power of wit, that the most displeased with plays are pleased with his
Comedies. And all such dull and heavy-witted worldlings, as were never
capable of the wit of a Comedy, coming by report of them to his representations, L12
have found that wit there that they never found in themselves,
and have parted better witted than they came: feeling an edge of wit set
upon them, more than ever they dreamed they had brain to grind it on.
So much and such savoured salt of wit is in his Comedies that they seem L16
(for their height of pleasure) to be born in that sea that brought forth
Venus. Amongst all there is none more witty than this: And had I time I
would comment upon it, though I know it needs not (for so much as will
make you think your testern well bestowed) but for so much worth as L20
even poor I know to be stuffed in it. It deserves such a labour, as well
as the best comedy in Terence or Plautus. And believe this, that when he
is gone, and his Comedies out of sale, you will scramble for them, and
set up a new English Inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at the peril L24
of your pleasure’s loss, and judgments, refuse not, nor like this the less,
for not being sullied with the smoky breath of the multitude; but thank
fortune for the scape it hath made amongst you. Since by the grand
possessors’ wills
I believe you should have prayed for them rather than L28
been prayed. And so I leave all such to be prayed for (for the states of
their wits’ healths) that will not praise it. Vale [Farewell].
Last Edit: 6 years 4 months ago by Unfoldyourself.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5001

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 3 of 9


“A never writer” must mean someone who had not written before.

“Never staled with the Stage, never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar” means “never acted and applauded in the public Theatre”.

There is no strong reason to doubt this assertion since it was against the publisher’s interest to admit it - a play never publicly acted might be thought to be of inferior quality. The Epistle shows some awareness of this danger and attempts to make a virtue of necessity by treating the play’s virginity as a commendation. Since it had been acted somewhere before the S.R. entry of 1603, it can only have been “new” in 1609 in the sense of being new to the general public.

It is described as a comedy, but it is in fact a tragedy with comic interludes. No doubt the Epistle calls it a comedy to make it easier to sell.

“Your brain” in L.3 is odd - it was the birth of the author’s brain, not of the reader’s. More will be said of this later.

L4-7 take a swipe at all those grand and censorious people who disapproved of comedy plays, and in particular at the City (hence “commodities”) who had long been enemies of the public theatres, and at the Inns of Court, or rather their Benchers (hence “plays for pleas”). In 1611, two years after the publication of Troilus And Cressida the Inner Temple for a period banned all plays within its walls “for that great disorder and scurrility is brought into this House by lewd and lascivious plays”. And perhaps Benchers of the other Inns voiced similar disapproval from time to time.

In L17 “born in that sea that brought forth Venus” means “about Love”. A testern was a sixpence, the price of a copy of the play. “A new English Inquisition” is probably a jibe at Archbishop Whitgift’s bonfire in 1599 in which he had books he disapproved of burnt. The “new English Inquisition” would either be a more liberal censorship regime or else a repetition of the old.

The most important lines in the Epistle are L.26-9. As Stratfordians accept, they seem to mean:

Thank fortune that this play has escaped for publication, since ‘the grand possessors’ of the Shake-Speare comedies (i.e, Shakspere’s company, the King’s Men) seem to want you to beg the company to release the comedies for publication, rather than their begging you to buy copies”. “Them” refers back: to “them” (i.e, the comedies) in L.23.

So, in this case, Shakspere’s company was unable to prevent the publication of Troilus and Cressida as they had been able to do with the publication of other plays. They were reluctant to release plays for publication, either because readers are less likely to be spectators or to prevent rival companies staging them. It did not authorise the printing of any Shake-Speare play from the Hamlet of 1604-5 till Othello in 1622. Bonian and Walley, knowing the company’s general policy in this matter, may not even have asked them to release Troilus And Cressida. To complete the interpretation of the Epistle, “prayed” in L.29 is used in its religious sense.

There is general agreement that this Epistle is very likely to have been written by a young lawyer from an Inn of Court. It has a facetious air; and a number of words with legal overtones, namely: (a) “titles”. Law suits have titles; (b) “commentaries”. A number of legal text books were called Commentaries; (c) “actions”. Law suits are called actions; (d) “judgments” and (e) “pleas”. A legal submission is a plea. Not only are there these words, but “plays for pleas” looks like a hit at the Benchers. This taunt would be likely to be made by an Inn Member since outsiders would have less interest in the Benchers’ attitude to comedies. The Arden editor, p. 309 concludes: “Whoever wrote the Epistle was in some sense connected with lawyers”; and W.W. Greg in his The Shakespeare First Folio (1955), p. 349, “The epistle is just what a young wit of the Inns of Court might be expected to throw off”.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5002

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 4 of 9

The Inns of Court Theory

In 1928-9 Peter Alexander propounded the theory that Troilus And Cressida was written for performance at an Inn of Court, and this has received cautious acceptance from many (and probably most) scholars. The evidence for it is:

1. We know from the S.R. entry of 1603 that the play had been acted somewhere; but the 1609 Epistle tells us not in a public theatre.

2. The play is Shake-Speare at his most intellectual. Though much of it would be acceptable on the public stage, it has two lengthy debates (1.3.1-137 and 2.2.114-207) and a shorter one (3.3.95-123); an academic discussion on love (3.2.61-97); a good deal of other philosophising, some of it rather difficult; and an unusual number of long or rare words. The play would be suitable for an Inn of Court but parts of it would precipitate coughing in the public Theatre. Hence it has been called caviar to the general public.

3. The play has a number of legal allusions. There are 9 of them that are moderately striking, and most of them have the appearance of being dragged in to amuse a legal audience.


For more on the Inns of Court:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inns_of_Court

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray%27s_Inn
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5003

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 5 of 9

THE BACONIAN ARGUMENTS

Point 1
It would not have been economic for a professional author to write a play solely for performance at an Inn of Court, for the reasons we’ve also made when making the same point in relation to The Comedy Of Errors and Love’s Labour’s Lost (see posts in the “Baconian Misc. forum”). Indeed the point has even more force here because Troilus And Cressida is a long play and a great deal of thought has obviously gone into it. The Arden editor, showing some awareness of this difficulty, comments at p. 309: “Such a play must have been written with the expectation that it would serve subsequently (perhaps slightly cut) at the Globe”. But could there have been this expectation if the play was unsuitable for the public Theatre? Though it was first entered in the S.R. in 1603, we know from the Epistle of 1609 that it had not been publicly performed by then. Surely it would have been in those 6 years, if considered suitable for the public stage.


Point 2
Quite apart from the economic consideration, it seems to have been a tradition of Gray’s Inn to write its own plays – (this was mentioned in the post on The Comedy of Errors, but the lengthy and detailed evidence has not been presented here, at least not yet). So if Troilus and Cressida was performed at that Inn, that fact by itself would cast grave doubt on whether Shakspere can be the author.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5004

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 6 of 9

Point 3
If Shakspere had written the play, why did not his company prevent its publication against their wishes? Even if they had no prior knowledge of the publication, they could have asked the Stationers’ Company to cancel the registration which had been made in favour of Bonian and Walley, and pull in any copies still unsold. And as the King’s own acting company, their request would have carried some clout.

The Stratfordians are at a loss to answer this point, except by suggesting that perhaps the King’s Men did not bother to stop the play’s publication because it was no longer in their current repertoire. But this is equally true for other Shake-Speare plays which they seem nevertheless to have hoarded. A simple explanation would be that they did not own this play because Will Shakspere had not written it; they merely possessed a copy, having been engaged to perform it at an Inn of Court before the 1603 S.R. entry and perhaps again nearer to 1609. If they had owned it, would the author of the Epistle have taunted them so cheekily, knowing that might provoke them into action? If they had performed the play on the public stage, the true author (even if an amateur like Bacon) might have parted with his ownership to them. But if they had merely performed the play at an Inn for a fee, he would have been likely to retain the ownership.


Point 4
The Epistle lavishes praise on the play’s author, but castigates “the grand possessors”, Shakspere’s company, for holding on to the play. Yet Shakspere himself was one of “the grand possessors”, being a shareholder in the company. And if he wrote the play, he would surely have had a predominant say as to whether the play should be released for publication. It is hard to think that his fellow shareholders would have overruled him. Ben Jonson seemed able to get his plays published, if he wanted to, even though they formed part of the repertoire of the Lord Admiral’s Men for whom he worked.

Thus the Epistle’s attack on “the grand possessors” seems hard to reconcile with its eulogy of the play’s author, if he was one of them. It surely treats the author as someone independent of the company. This important point seems to have escaped notice.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5005

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 7 of 9

Point 5
First, the Quarto text is a good one. This suggests that the play was printed from the author’s original draft or a copy of it. But if Shakspere wrote the play, how could Bonian and Walley have obtained that draft or a copy, in view of the company’s unwillingness to release the play, as shown by the Epistle’s reference to the play having escaped from them? Secondly, though the text is good, the stage directions are wholly inadequate for performance. In particular, 30 entrances and a like number of exits are unmarked. This points to an amateur author.

To meet the first of these two points, W.W. Greg in The Shakespeare First Folio (1955), p. 347, suggested, on the assumption that Shakspere wrote the play for performance at an Inn of Court, that his company may have presented the Inn with a copy of it, which was later obtained from the Inn by Bonian and Walley. But I have pointed out that Will Shakspere would only have written the play for performance at an Inn of Court if he retained the ownership with a view to using the play later on the public Stage. But if he retained the ownership, he had no need, in the absence of special agreement, to supply the Inn with a copy for the Inn’s permanent retention. It would have been expensive to make one, and his company would have been reluctant to let a copy out of its possession. Even when a play was presented at Court, there seems no reason to think that the company in question would leave a copy with Court officers after the play’s performance. See E.K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 1. 223-4.


Point 6
Elizabethan publishers usually wrote their own advertising blurbs. So why get a young lawyer to write the Epistle, especially one who had never written before? And what was his interest in the matter? A feasible answer is that the play was the Inn’s own work - a member of the Inn had written it. Perhaps members of the Inn approached Bonian and Walley to publish it, or the approach may have come from them. Whichever, it seems likely that Bonian and Walley obtained the play either directly from the author who was an Inn member or, more probably, from other members of the Inn interested in dramatics. In the latter event, the author may or may not have approved of the play’s release. If he disapproved there may have been little he could do about it without disclosing his authorship.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5006

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 8 of 9

Point 7 Bacon the likely author
Gray’s is most likely to be the Inn envisaged in Points 5 and 6 because it was the largest and because it had staged a performance of The Comedy Of Errors, which in my (Cockburn’s) view was also a first performance of a Shake-Speare play written specially for the Inn. Can one go further and identify the Inn member who wrote Troilus And Cressida? Two points, and perhaps a third suggest Bacon:

(a) He had done much at least of the writing for the Gray’s Inn Revels of Christmas 1594-5, including, if I am right, The Masque of Proteus and The Comedy Of Errors performed as part of them.

(b) This intellectual play with its philosophical debates is redolent of Bacon in every way. In (an earlier post, see “Baconian Evidence: misc.”) I give one example of his (Shake-Speare’s) philosophizing in which he quotes Aristotle (2.2.164-172) just as Bacon does. From a biographical point of view, Love’s Labour’s Lost is the play most easily identifiable as Bacon’s. But for affinity of thought and language, Troilus And Cressida is Bacon pure and simple - or rather pure and complex. (note: the parallels in the “misc.” forum posts for this play were presented as one of the stand-alone proofs of Bacon’s authorship, aside from this additional evidence).

(c) We have seen that the Epistle to “Eternal reader” oddly describes the play as “a birth of your brain”.

Still, the general public, reading the Epistle, would have blinked at “your”, as we do. It is a little strained to use it of someone else’s brain, and one wonders if it was done for a purpose. I make the tentative suggestion that “your” may have been addressed simultaneously to three different classes of reader: (1) to the general public as a product of their country and culture; (2) to an Inn of Court who would either read it as “your collective brain which fathered the play,”;

(3) to the Inn member who wrote it, to whom “your” would bear its natural meaning. On this last point the word “reader” in “Eternal reader” might conceivably help in identification. Bacon was a Reader of his Inn. True, “reader” in the Epistle lacks a capital “R”, which it would normally have, even without intended double meaning, in an Address to the Reader. But Elizabethans were unpredictable in their use of capitals. True also that the construction changes from “your” to “this author’s comedies”. But it would have to do this to be intelligible to the general public. There might be a similar double meaning in the heading. “an ever readersuggests one particular reader, though “an ever” might have been used only for the antithesis and word play with “A never”. My suggestion is obviously rather a long shot, but it is not impossibly fanciful. And at least it would fit the facetious tone of the Epistle which has other double meanings, namely in the words with legal overtones and in L1.28-9 which use “prayed” in different senses. A double meaning in “reader” would have amused the Epistle’s author and other members of the Inn. And Bacon would have been quite flattered to be addressed as “Eternal” - unless that was a reference to the length of his readings!

[A Reader was a person literally elected to read — he would be elected to the Pension (council) of Gray's Inn, and would take his place by giving a "reading", or lecture, on a particular legal topic.]

Ignoring “reader” completely, the other circumstances surrounding Troilus And Cressida suggest an Inn play, with Bacon as the likely author.
Last Edit: 6 years 4 months ago by Unfoldyourself.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: Some Baconian Evidence - Troilus and Cressida 6 years 4 months ago #5007

  • Unfoldyourself
  • Unfoldyourself's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Scholar
  • Posts: 406
  • Thank you received: 5
Troilus and Cressida 9 of 9

This post is a follow-up on the subject of the Shake-speare author being an amateur playwright as opposed to a professional.


Shake-Speare’s Stagecraft

It is sometimes claimed that the Shake-Speare plays exhibit an exceptional knowledge of stagecraft such as an actor, but not Bacon, would be likely to possess.

Even Hamlet’s address to the players has been prayed in aid. Thus Richard Garnett and Edmund Gosse in their History of English Literature (Vol. 2.201) say: “No one, surely, can doubt that the writer of this scene had been in the constant habit of giving instructions to performers”. Yet the address says nothing about acting which is not obvious to anyone. The short answer to this claim is that most great playwrights have mastered stagecraft without being actors.

The British novelist and playwright Arnold Bennet (1867-1931) injected a breath of fresh air into this topic when he wrote in English Review (July 1913): “An enormous amount of reverential nonsense is talked about the technique of the stage, the assumption being that in difficulty it far surpasses any other literary technique, and that until it is acquired a respectable play cannot be written… The truth is that no technique is so crude and so simple as the technique of the stage, and that the proper place to learn it is not behind the scenes but in the pit”.

Another truth is that the pre-eminence of Shake-speare’s plays is due to their qualities of mind and language, not to any special wizardry in their stagecraft which in two respects at least is sometimes defective. One is that the stage directions are sometimes inadequate for performance. One excellent example mentioned was in post # 7 on the unmarked 30 entrances and exits in Troilus and Cressida.

At the other extreme they are occasionally perhaps overfull, literary rather than practical. For example, a Stage Direction in Timon Of Athens 1.2 says: “Then comes, dropping after all, Apemantus, discontentedly, like himself”.

Secondly, several of the plays, certainly Hamlet, Lear, and Antony And Cleopatra (line lengths of 3929, 3328, and 3059 respectively), are too long for performance in the public Theatre. An Elizabethan play ran for between two and three hours. Hamlet uncut runs for four hours.

One would expect a playwright who was an actor manager to have been more alive to theatre practicalities, and so to have avoided these mistakes. But Bacon as an amateur would have been more prone to them.

It’s also been argued that only an in-house playwright could write parts that fit some of the actors peculiarities in Will Shakspeare’s company. But since Bacon was known as one of the most astute observers of human nature (see his essays), it would not be difficult for him to have tailored some of the parts in some plays to the actors he had seen, and perhaps studied, that were in the company.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
Moderators: William Shakespeare
 

Log in or Register

Register
Forgot username  Forgot password
Get the Shakespeare Pro app