Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Measure for Measure 22

Some Shake-Speare / Bacon parallels in Measure for Measure (22)
“But instruments of some more mightier member that sets them on”.
Measure for Measure, 5.1.235

“What poor an instrument may do a noble deed”.
Antony and Cleopatra 5.2.236

“Call me what instrument you will”.
Hamlet 3.2.378

“The king had gotten for his purpose two instruments, Empsom and Dudley”.
Works, 6. P. 217
And as posted elsewhere:
“In choice of instruments, it is better to choose men of a plainer sort,. . .”
 Essay Of Negotiating

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The above parallels that Melsome cited are what may be just a small subset of those that actually exist between this play and those thoughts found in Bacon’s writings. Melsome said that he actually counted over 200 remembrances or echoes between the two. Unfortunately, he was writing for a Baconian audience and not trying to make a full case for the curious but uncommitted reader on the authorship question.

Final commentary on this play from an author of some time ago:

Measure for Measure – from Bertram Theobald’s “Enter Francis Bacon”
Mr. E. J. Castle, Q.C., considered this play to be one of those which display the most legal knowledge. It turns on the technicalities of pre-contract.
               "Throughout the whole play we find traces of its being the work of one thoroughly acquainted with legal proceedings."
(Shakespeare, Bacon, Jonson and Greene London : Sampson Low, 1897, p.41)

Speaking of Act II, Scene i., he says :
"If any lawyer reads this scene, every line of which requires, I think, careful study, he must admit it has been written either by one who has drawn the scene from life, or has been assisted by one well versed in the everyday life of the English law courts." (Ibid p.50)

And again, when speaking of what he calls "the legal plays" he says:
"In Shakespeare's works we have not only the mere legal acquirements...... but we have pictures drawn of the different members of the legal profession. We have, as a photographer would say, in 'Measure for Measure' the English judge taken in four positions; the stern hanging judge, the kindly humane Escalus, inclined to trifle a bit on the bench, yet doing justice after all. We have Escalus, prejudiced and misled, doing injustice on the bench, and we have him shamed and repentant. We have the argumentative barrister in the Temple, a sketch of life in Parliament, and a knowledge of its procedures........"

This testimony from a practicing barrister, a member of the Inner Temple, is extremely valuable, because it gives us the considered opinion of a professional lawyer, not merely that these Shakespeare plays contain an abundance of legal knowledge--which is always admitted--but that they also contain  ". . . pictures drawn of the different members of the legal profession."

In other words, these plays could by no possibility have been written by any layman, however gifted. They give as studies taken from the life of a practicing lawyer. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this fact in its bearing on our problem. Taken in conjunction with all the evidence from other sides of the question, it virtually fixes the authorship on Francis Bacon, and on no one else.

It is worth noting that this play was first performed before the King and his Court at Wilton, the residence of Bacon's life-long friend, the Earl of Pembroke. At this time, Raleigh and others were being tried at Winchester, and it has been suggested, with some show of reason, that the speech on mercy, put into the mouth of Isabella, may have been purposely contrived in order to incline the King towards leniency with Raleigh and his associates. Another and a stronger point is that this play emphasizes the line of argument in Bacon's speech on the enforcement of obsolete laws, and likewise in his Essay Of Judicature.

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