Sunday, May 1, 2011

Promus - 19 Romeo and Juliet - bonjouir Romeo

Part 2 - Parallels between Bacon's Promus and Romeo and Juliet
(with special emphasis on Promus Folio 112)

Part 2M

Note to readers:  This is a very technical post (and there will be a few more in the 'Was Shake-Speare a Lawyer' posts). Plus it will be another long one and I'm not even going to try to abridge or break it up or even simplify it for anyone, except a little. But I hope there are a few readers at least that will work it through to understanding and become part of a very small group of people in the world to know it - considering how difficult it is to obtain a copy of Cockburn's book and then having the interest and motivation to plow through a great deal of difficult scholarly material in it.

Keep in mind that in Elizabethan spelling the letters i and j were sometimes interchangeable and so an 'i' then is now often a 'j'; and that a 'y' could substitute for an 'i'. Also, know that there were 4 main quartos for Romeo And Juliet (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4) prior to the First Folio.


R&J  Act 2.4.37-57

(Romeo, from his meeting with Friar Lawrence, comes across Benvolio and Mercutio who believe him to have spent the night with Rosaline, they being ignorant of his switch to Juliet):

 Ben.  Here comes Romeo! here comes Romeo!
 Mer.  Without his roe, like a dried herring. O flesh, flesh, how art
          thou fishified! Now is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed
          in. Laura, to his lady, was but a kitchen wench (marry, she had a
          better love to berhyme her), Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy,
          Helen and Hero hildings and harlots, This be a gray eye or so,
          but not to the purpose. Signior Romeo, bonjour! There's a French
          salutation to your French slop. You gave us the counterfeit
          fairly last night.
  Rom. Good morrow to you both. What counterfeit did I give you?
  Mer.  The slip, sir, the slip. Can you not conceive?
  Rom. Pardon, good Mercutio. My business was great, and in such a
           case as mine a man may strain courtesy.
  Mer.  That's as much as to say, such a case as yours constrains a
           man to bow in the hams.
  Rom. Meaning, to curtsy.
  Mer.  Thou hast most kindly hit it.

Bacon's Promus entry 1195 (Folio 112):

"bon iouyr. Bon iour; (bridgrome)"          [or with modern spelling "bonjouir. Bonjour: (bridegroom)"]

Comment:  "your French slop" means "your baggy French style trousers". The Shake-Speare lines are full of sexual puns which are explained in the Arden edition. To give one example, the editor notes on "bow in the hams": "The ham is the back of the thigh, bent in curtsying; but there is also the bawdy innuendo that Romeo's sexual exertions make him unable to stand up straight".

The important words for our purposes are those in Promus entry 1195. Why should Bacon regard "bonjour" as a suitable salutation for a bridegroom?  The explanation lies in "bon iouyr", i.e. "bonjouir". The reason Bacon repeats "bonjouir" and "bonjour" in different spellings is to indicate a bawdy pun. The French noun "jeu" means "play", and the verb  form "jouir" means "to enjoy". A special meaning of "jouir" is "to have an orgasm" -- see the Robert Collins French Dictionary 1987. So "bonjouir" to a bridegroom means "good fornication".

Now, Q.1 of 1597 spells the word "bon iour". But that was a pirated Quarto with a corrupt text. Q.2 of 1599, a good text, substitutes "Bonieur". The Arden editor, puzzled, notes (p. 20): "Q.2's Bonieur is italic, has a capital, is undivided and misreads / misprints e for o; this seems such a complex deviation from Q.1 that a manuscript form is a preferable explanation".

Be that as it may, the substitution of e for o was probably deliberate, to indicate the pun which Q.1 had ignored, and the italics may have been used for the same purpose--to emphasize the pun. Shake-Speare may have decided that "bonjeur" would sound the same on the stage as "bon jeu" - "good play". And French speaking members of the audience who understood the pun would know from the context what sort of play was meant. Q.3 (1609), a reprint of Q.2, has "Bon ieur", both words in italics. Q.4 (1622) which is mostly a reprint of Q.3, has "Bonieur" in italics. The First Folio (1623) has "bonjour". But by then the pun may have been lost sight of.

One need have little doubt that Shake-Speare intended this pun in the play. As noted, the whole passage is alive with sexual puns, laughing at Romeo over his supposed night of passion with Rosaline. True, a French salutation to Italian Romeo could be explained by his French trousers. He may have worn them as his masking dress at the Capulet Ball the previous night and he had not been home since. But there was little point in Shake-Speare alluding to them except as an excuse for a bawdy "bonjouir" type greeting.

The presence of "bonjour" on Folio 112 and in the play is something of a coincidence by itself. But the aptness of the bawdy pun to Romeo's situation makes the parallel very telling indeed.

Shake-Speare uses "bonjour" on only two other occasions, and each time in the context of play, in one case sexual play. In Titus Andronicus (c.1593) 1.1.486-93 the Roman Emperor Saturninus is about to marry Tamora, Queen of the Goths, and Bassianus is to marry Titus's daughter Lavinia. One part reads:

Sat:   Come, if the emperor's court can feast two brides
         You are my guest Lavinia, and your friends.
         This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.
Tit:     To-morrow, and it please your majesty,
         To hunt the panther and the hart with me,
         With horn and hound we'll give your grace bonjour.

"Bonjour" in ancient Rome was an utter anachronism, and the word has obviously been dragged in for a purpose. Again it may be taken as a pun on "bonjouir" or "bon jeu", wishing the imperial bridegroom good sex play in his marriage, though the word is spelt in the ordinary way in every edition. Even if Shake-Speare did not intend his audience to understand a pun here, it seems that in his mind he associated "bonjour" with sex play, even in ancient Rome.

Then, in As You Like It (c.1599) 1.2.84-92 Rosaline and Celia make fun of Le Beau, a courtier attending on Duke Frederick:

Celia:      Bon jour Monsieur Le Beau. What's the news?
Le Beau:  Fair Princess, you have lost much good sport.
Celia:      Sport? Of what colour?

The sport in question was a wrestling match. To greet Le Beau with "bon jour" was natural since he was a Frenchman and the play is set in France. So "bonjour" is probably not intended as a pun here, but at least Shake-Speare uses it in the context of sport.

The "bonjouir" or "bonjeu" pun is unlikely to have been a familiar one in English literature since no commentator seems to have spotted it. But Bacon may have heard it during his time in France. It seems ironic that a smutty pun in the "Great Philosopher"s private notebook should provide an insight into the authorship of the Shake-Speare works. Folio 112 may have a number of other bawdy puns, most of which probably won't be discussed and which have been overlooked even by Bacon's main biographer--Spedding.

No comments:

Post a Comment