Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Hall and Marston Satires, Part 4

The Hall and Marston Satires, Part 4

And now here is Barry R. Clarke’s summary. Some of the references can only be fully understood from having read the full piece, which is included in his book’s appendix, pages 226-232.


E5 A summary
We now have possession of the following facts. In the Virgidemiarum, we can identify a reasonable association between Labeo the Cynick —Hall’s main target — and Shake-speare’s Venus and Adonis. With far less certainty, we can claim a connection between Labeo and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Joseph Hall claims that Labeo the Cynic is a “fool” to have given up “his handsome drinking bole” to a “swaine” who nourishes himself from it. However, in doing so, Labeo has become immune from criticism because he “shifts it to another’s name”, presumably the same low-ranking “swaine”.

Labeo first makes his entrance in Hall’s Virgidemiarum, Book 2,Satire 1:

For shame write better Labeo, or write none
Or better write, or Labeo write alone.
Nay, call the Cynick but a wittie fool,
Thence to objure(a) his handsome drinking bole:
Because the thirstie swaine(b) with hollow hand
Conveyed the streame to wet his dry weasand(c)…
Key : (a) renounce, (b) country person — see below , (c) throat

In Marston’s The Authour in prayse of his precedent Poem there is a strong connection between Labeo and Venus and Adonis. Marston also introduces Lynceus, a boar hunter who, since a boar features on Francis Bacon’s coat of arms, might represent Hall the Bacon hunter. The piece suggests that Lynceus (Hall) knows of a metamorphosis other than the one in Venus and Adonis, perhaps one that has transformed Labeo into another person. Labeo does not appear in Reactio, however, in the course of Marston’s defence of ‘mirror’ poetry, we find good allusions to Venus and Adonis around Bacon’s family motto.

So it is a reasonable interpretation that between them, Hall and Marston intended Labeo the Cynic to be Francis Bacon, who had renounced his possessions (particularly, Venus and Adonis) to a man of humble origins (“thirsty swaine”) who was both profiting from the work (“wet his dry weasand”) and acting as a mask (“shift it to another’s name”). This could only have been Shakspere.

“Who list complaine of wronged faith or fame
When hee may shift it on to anothers name?”

In 1599, in light of the Hall–Marston controversy, the Archbishop of Winchester and the Bishop of London banned satires and epigrams, confiscating all copies of the Virgidemiae and publically burning the works of Marston.

Clarke’s online book can be found here:     (note: you may need to copy and paste this into a browser. It will automatically download the full book).
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Finally, another writer, Ross Jackson, summarized it like this:

“An interesting tale identifying Bacon as the concealed author of the two poems, Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece, and the play, Henry IV, is found in the writings of two well-known satirists, Joseph Hall and John Marston in 1597-98. The information is not provided in so many words, but must be dug out by sophisticated literary analysis, which has been done by various scholars. The conclusion is not disputed by Stratfordians who have studied the writings, but their reaction is: so what if two people claimed that Bacon was the concealed author of the three works. That is not proof.”

Jackson continues: “The evidence is, of course, circumstantial, but I happen to think it is very relevant because it is consistent with other evidence. Two people in the heart of the London literary scene both told the world in no uncertain terms that Bacon was the real author of these works. And this was at a time when these were the only works published in William Shakespeare’s name. It is especially interesting because Marston was not only a lawyer from Cambridge, and therefore very likely knew Bacon personally, but he was also a close friend of Thomas Greene, who in turn was a cousin of Will Shaksper, came from the same area, rented rooms from him at one time, and even named his children after Will and his wife Anne. So Marston was one of the few people with close links to both Shaksper and Bacon. This suggests why he knew and adds a good deal of credibility to the story. It is also relevant that Bacon’s good friend and former tutor, John Whitgift, at this time Archbishop of Canterbury, ordered Hall’s and Marston’s satires to be burned, probably to protect Francis Bacon from unwanted publicity”.

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