Monday, October 31, 2011

Marlowe and Bacon and Shakespeare

Marlowe and Bacon and Shakespeare

Here are some quotes that support the connection between Marlowe and Shakespeare:

What Shakespeare scholars say about Marlowe:

“For nearly two centuries, the closeness of the work of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare has been an accepted fact of Shakespearean scholarship.”

“Shakespeare seems to be very much aware of what Marlowe is up to and chooses to plot a parallel course, virtually stalking his rival’
Shapiro, James. 1991. Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, p.103

“The two men may have been acquainted; certainly Shakespeare knew Marlowe’s work and responded to it in his own first efforts.”
Schoenbaum, Samuel. 1977. William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p.166

It’s acknowledged observations like this that support the Marlowe as the real Shakespeare theory. There are many more quotes like these here:

Now, let’s look at some other very interesting findings from a book and an article on Marlowe (links will follow):

As you probably all know, Christopher Marlowe worked as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham. Marlowe for a time was receiving funds from one or more patrons. But that money dried up. Walsingham died on 6 April 1590 and with this “the state’s funding all but dried up, and payment to Marlowe ….would have ended in April or May.” No one was appointed to replace Walsingham. His spies, and maybe some of Lord Burghley’s (William Cecil) “were defecting to serve the young earl of Essex.”  Francis Bacon, in his own words, had “knitted” his brother Anthony to Essex after Anthony returned from the continent, and had not received government support after working for 10 years as one of its agents.  “Individual councilors paid out of pocket for intelligence-gathering operations while Burghley fretted over costs.”

[An aside: Anthony Bacon, older brother to Francis, was responsible for receiving and sending intelligence reports over much of Europe through a network of spies that he established during his ten years abroad. Indeed, Anthony in the few short years since his arrival back in England in 1592 had managed to set up and operate one of the most sophisticated spy networks. It was at this point that the Earl began to climb the stairway to power. Their rivals couldn't match them in their ability to seek and find valuable information which Essex presented to Elizabeth and her council. As a result Essex was offered a seat in the Privy Council. ]   

“He [Marlowe] had been drawn into the group of men working for Essex via Anthony Bacon.”  So he joins Anthony and Francis Bacon, the Earl of Southampton, along with Walter Raleigh and Thomas Hariot (mentioned in the Shakespeare’s Hamlet posts) and other intellectuals.

“Marlowe was probably an atheist”.  Marlowe was said to have discussed atheist literature and arguments with Raleigh. One of Marlowe’s accusers, Baines, (another former agent of Walsingham)  “claimed that Marlowe had once said  ‘Moses was a juggler and that one Hariot being Sir Walter Raleigh’s man can do more than he.’ Thomas Hariot (again one of Francis Bacon’s fellow intellectuals) “was a Renaissance intellect, interested in plants, agriculture, the anthropology of newly discovered countries, navigation, mathematics, optics, weather, astronomy, astrology, religion. He gave great offence with his views on Genesis and his saying thatex nihilo nihil fit’ --Nothing will come of nothing’, is repeated in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, “Cast as a secular play there could be no retribution in the plot, since Faustus’s agenda is the secret secular agenda of Raleigh, Hariot, Bacon and I suspect Marlowe himself. As a play about the new science it would have cast a further shadow of suspicion over Raleigh and others. Marlowe anticipates an atheistic, scientific, imperialist age. It is already around him in the freethinking Raleigh, in the efforts of Raleigh’s friend Hariot, in Dee, Hakluyt, Gilbert. Hariot corresponded with Kepler and knew Galileo’s findings. Descartes later read Hariot’s work. Raleigh sponsors, and Bacon consolidates, the message. It is experimental science as its own authority, leading to ‘new inventions and powers’.”   

[a note here that Francis Bacon did try to get support from King James, and maybe Queen Elizabeth before him,  for his vision of government supported scientific research, like what the Royal Society later became.]

Dr Faustus is another Marlowe text that Shakespeare used as source. Prospero is just such a magician whose book teaches him like Faustus ‘the framing of this circle on the ground’ that ‘brings whirlwinds, tempests, thunder and lightning.’ Prospero gives up his art, understanding the religious message of Marlowe’s play, to end in Protestant, almost Puritan orthodoxy. ‘Oh, something soundeth in mine ears, ‘Abjure this magic, turn to God again!’’ says Faustus;  ‘this rough magic I here abjure’ says Prospero. Faustus is warned that his sins ‘no comiseration may expel, but mercy, Faustus.....Then call for mercy, and avoid despair.’ And Prospero does just that in his final speech. ‘And my ending is despair unless I be reliev’d by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults mercy itself and frees all faults.’ Prospero takes Faustus’s fate seriously, and in doing so tries to redeem the spirit of the new learning, hallow the hidden agenda of Marlowe’s play, the illicit magic of the scientific project.”  

“In short, Marlowe’s historic achievement was to marry great poetry to the drama; his was the originating genius. William Shakespeare never forgot him: in his penultimate, valedictory play, The Tempest, he is still echoing Marlowe’s phrases.”
Rowse, A. L. 1973. Shakespeare: The Man. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press. (1988 reprinting) p.43

So, we have:

Marlowe connected with Francis Bacon and the Essex group along with the side group of Bacon’s science circle of Raleigh, Hariot, Warner, and others. With this being the case, and with all the evidence for Bacon as Shakespeare presented here, it’s not hard to see the mutual influences between them. Bacon would have easy access to Marlowe’s poetry and plays and may have influenced them as well as having improved his own literary skill from discussing these topics with Marlowe. [I’ve posted here earlier where Bacon described the experience of someone coming for advice on their poetry.] Bacon would be exposed to Marlowe’s style and as Bacon was known to imitate and improve on others language, he could do this with Marlowe too.  

There are play sources that Marlowe had access to that ‘Shakespeare’ also used. For example, Hecatommithi was a book listed by Anthony Bacon as belonging to a spy named or code-named Le Doux, whom the Marlovians say could have been Marlowe. This book “contains tales that anticipate the plots of Measure for Measure and Othello. They were translated from Italian into French and Spanish by Shakespeare's time, but not into English. That raises the question of how William Shakespeare of Stratford could have accessed them.Francis Bacon may have just borrowed the book and others from Marlowe, though he might as easily got them elsewhere . [Note: see the many parallels between Bacon and Shakespeare on Measure for Measure in another Baconian topic here.]

Now, in the letters of Anthony Bacon it is said that “The earl of Essex having engag’d Monsieur Le Doux, a French gentleman, who had come to England to serve him as an intelligencer from abroad, …”. So the argument, apparently, is that Marlowe, after having a falsified death in May of 1593, was given (in Anthony Bacon’s private intelligence letters) a false name and nationality, and now began to write the Shakespeare plays from the continent and send them to England. Except that in 1595 he was back in England and staying with some of Bacon’s friends for a time, before heading back overseas. (The Marlovians aren’t entirely sure about this so there are a couple other hypothesized new identities that they think he may have taken.) If “Le Doux” wasn’t Marlowe then he may at least have been a good source of knowledge and maybe books for Francis Bacon. Essex also had asked Le Doux that if he had the opportunity to travel to Italy, that, among other things, he should “take a little pains to draw up particular descriptions of every principality of Italy, specifying in each of them the following points, ….the grandeur and extent of them: The revenues, and whence they arise; the strong places, with their garrisons; what number of soldiers are maintain’d by each state; the sea ports; the great rivers and famous cities in each principality; the commodities  produc’d by each country, and whither they are exported; what merchandises they import from abroad, and from whence; what laws or customs each state is governed by, and what counselors and officers the prince most employs.

[Another aside:  various people mentioned in intelligence correspondence had code names, as shown in the correspondence of Anthony Bacon with his network. So ‘Le Doux’ is thought (in Marlovian theory) to have been the code name for Marlowe. ‘Achates’ was a regular contact named Mr. David Foulis, James VI ambassador to Elizabeth. King James was in regular correspondence with Anthony Bacon and Essex. ‘Tacitus’ was, according to Anthony’s decipherment, ‘the king of Scots’ [James VI]. ‘Plato’ was the code name for the Earl of Essex. ‘Solon’ was one of Queen Elizabeth’s ambassadors.  This is taken from: 
Memoirs of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, from the year 1581 till her death. In which the secret intrigues of her court, and the conduct of her favourite, Robert earl of Essex, both at home and abroad, are particularly illustrated. From the original papers of... Anthony Bacon, esquire, and other manuscripts never before published. By Thomas Birch, 1754.]

As mentioned previously, parallels between Marlowe and Shakespeare’s The Tempest have also been shown. Some parallels between Bacon and Shakespeare’s The Tempest are so striking that by themselves have been offered as one proof of common authorship. You can see these under the Baconian Evidence topic of ‘Parallels’.

What is, then, the explanation for the reference to Marlowe’s death in Shakespeare’s As You  Like It?:  “For example, how can Touchstone's words 'When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room' (As You Like It, 3.3.9-12) be a tribute to Marlowe, as commentators suggest? As Agnes Latham wonders in the Arden (second series) edition of the play, 'nobody explains why Shakespeare should think that Marlowe's death by violence was material for a stage Jester.'”

The answer to this may be that, assuming Bacon wrote the play, that he was, as usual, using a jester character to speak some truth. And that truth is that when a wise person tries to impart some of his wisdom, as in a philosophical observation, and the listeners don’t understand it, then that is a loss. And though the loss is non-physical, it is somewhat parallel to one’s physical death. This would be because, philosophically, good ideas that can advance society are as or more important than a physical life.

Bacon can be seen, in the play reference, as recognizing his literary peer and free-thinking associate or friend. In contrast, there is no known connection between William of Stratford and Christopher Marlowe.

I hope to have more time to read more of the Marlovian literature. It may show many more connections to Bacon and his circle.

Here are other links I used:

Christopher Marlowe: poet & spy by Park Honan

A last thought. One of the theories of Marlowes ‘supposed’ death is that he was murdered through the orders of the Cecil group. Well, after Walsingham died, Marlowe seems to have rejected the Cecil circle to join with Essex, whose star was then rising. Anthony Bacon had joined with Essex partly for the same reason. Part of the reason Anthony couldn’t make his fortunes at court after returning from the continent as an intelligencer was that “he met with a still more considerable obstruction from the jealousy of his own uncle, [William Cecil] the lord treasurer, and his cousin Sir Robert Cecil, who resented his early attachment, as well as that of his brother [Francis], to the earl of Essex, between whom and the Cecil’s there was an irreconcilable opposition.” Cecil, in 1592, had some kind of talk and probably admonishment for Marlowe for his alleged involvement in counterfeiting. And now Marlowe had associated with the Cecil’s political opposition, as one more agent for Essex. And, in addition, involved himself in irreligious activities and propangda, at least of the kind that the Cecil’s didn’t approve. If Marlowe was assassinated, it’s not hard to see why.

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