The Hall and Marston Satires, Part 1
One of the arguments used by Stratfordians is that there were no “intelligent and knowledgeable bibliophile” contemporaries of Shake-Speare that ever questioned the authorship of William of Stratford, or ever suggested that someone other than him wrote the poems and plays. And that it wasn’t until the middle of the 18th century at the earliest that someone thought the works may have been written by someone else.
This is another myth that was falsified beginning over a 100 years ago with Walter Begley’s book Is It Shakespeare? (1903). He suggested that there’s evidence from 1597-8 that Joseph Hall and John Marston identified the author of Shake-Speare’s Venus and Adonis to be Francis Bacon. Several other Baconians have more thoroughly studied and written about this evidence. These include:
Basil E. Lawrence, Notes on the Authorship of the Shakespeare Plays and Poems (1925).
Nigel Cockburn, The Bacon Shakespeare Question (Private publication: 1998).
Peter Dawkins, The Shakespeare Enigma (2004).
Barry R. Clarke, The Shakespeare Puzzle (2008).
Cockburn and Clarke have done the most in-depth analysis and any challengers to this argument will have to work through their chapters on this topic. But for the purposes of this forum I think that Dawkins’ shorter summary is more suitable, though I will add summary parts of Dawkins and Clarke too in order to give readers extra help in absorbing the ideas and evidence.
Dawkins’ first part of his summary:
Did any contemporary of Shakespeare strongly hint at or name the real author Shakespeare?
The answer is yes.
John Marston and Joseph Hall, in an exchange of satires that continued for two years, gave the game away. All copies of their books were subsequently ordered to be burnt. In his first book of Satires (1597) Hall criticises a poet he calls ‘Labeo’ (the name of a famous Roman lawyer), who has written erotic poetry anonymously. In Pygmalion’s Image (1598) Marston refers to Labeo as the writer of Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis. In his second book of Satires (1598) Hall infers that Labeo has used another person’s name to hide his authorship and thus be immune to satire. In Certain Satires Bk 1 (1598) Marston identifies Labeo with the motto, Mediocra firma, and in context with the Shakespeare poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.
The motto (Mediocra firma) was Francis Bacon’s heraldic motto, used only by himself and his brother, Anthony Bacon.
To identify someone by means of heraldry is an ancient and fairly exact method of identification. The additional labelling of the author Shakespeare as ‘Labeo’ completes the identification as being Francis Bacon, since of the two brothers it was Francis who was a qualified lawyer who lost favour with the Queen just as Antistus Labeo lost favour with the Roman Emperor.
Since it was on the poem Venus and Adonis that the signature of ‘William Shakespeare’ was first placed as the author, the Hall and Marston satires imply categorically that this signature was the literary pseudonym of Francis Bacon with respect to this and the following poem, Lucrece, and hence all subsequent Shakespeare works if indeed they were all written by one man.
© Peter Dawkins, 2006