Sunday, May 1, 2011

Promus - 33 Romeo and Juliet Conclusion

Conclusion on Folio 112 Parallels with Romeo And Juliet

(Note: this is going to be an abridged conclusion from Cockburn's. He goes into further detail to consider some few objections to common authorship and refutes them.)

As I said earlier, the parallels between Romeo And Juliet and the Promus, other than Folio 112, are mostly slight and/or commonplace, more or less. But I have noted 46 of them (in addition to 19 Folio 112 parallels) [note: I actually count 21 but we'll stay with his number of 19]; so they probably score by their cumulative weight. Would one find 65, or even 46, parallels between the Promus and any non-Shakespearian play?

The 19 Folio 112 parallels (out of 40 entries on that sheet) are a very different kettle of fish. The most telling of them are three entries written together at the foot of the Folio which parallel, and in the right order, the "goodnight" scene in Act 2.2; four entries which parallel the meeting with Friar Lawrence in Act 2.3, including the words "lodged next" which look suspiciously like a fragment of a line which Bacon was mulling over for that scene; the "bonjouir" or "bonjeur" pun; "the wings of the morning" which match "the wings of night"; and five entries, relating to block heads and clock heads, albada, and late rising, which parallel the end of Act 4.4 and the beginning of Act 4.5, two of them following those events in the right order.

What, then, is the explanation of these curious parallels with a single play based on a single Folio of the Promus? Mere coincidence? Mutual borrowing? One Stratfordian mentions only 6 of the Folio 112 parallels and calls them a coincidence. But all 19 (or 21) parallels together could not be. At least, the odds against it would be astronomical.

The only other Stratfordian that we know of to discuss it, E.A. Abbott, examined the Folio 112 entries from Mrs. Pott's book and concluded that there must have been either mutual borrowing or that they both borrowed from another source and couldn't be by accident. He thought that "Bacon in the year 1594 had either heard or read...Romeo And Juliet". But the play is usually thought to have been written in 1595, and was not published till 1597 and not in a good Quarto till 1599. The Promus was compiled probably in a period of little more than a year from December 1594 till about January 1596.

Further, the relevant entries on the Folio are mixed up with other entries which are not paralleled in the play. And they're mostly in a different form from their counterparts in the play. For instance, if Bacon had heard or read in the play "Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye, / And where care lodges, sleep shall never lie", he would hardly have written that down as "Qui a bon voisin a bon matin. Lodged next".

Finally, the entries on Folio 112 are so variegated and jumbled that one cannot imagine them being derived from one source.

The only tenable explanation of the Folio 112 parallels is surely common authorship. The evidence suggests that when Bacon was planning or already writing Romeo And Juliet, he read through Folio 112 to see if he could use any of its material. Indeed, it seems that mulling over the play in his head prompted some of the entries. We thus have, I believe, a fascinating glimpse of Shake-Speare in the throes of creation. Not rattling off lines with divine ease, but laboriously thinking up ideas and phrases, and ultimately fitting some of them together. That surely is how most poets work.

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