KING DAVID’S JOYOUS ENTRY

A JOYOUS ENTRY

The following paper is about King David. Not about the biblical king of Israel but about King David Kathman during his short interregnum at the 4-weeks course about the Shakespeare authorship debate organized by the Goldsmith college of the London University from 19 February 2018 on.

To dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s

 David Kathman is kind of editor-in-chief of the catechism of the orthodox Shakespeare authorship theory. Understandably, his intervention on the question whether Shakespeare was an actor takes on a ring of the solemnity of the Joyous Entry, the medieval but still existing (for instance in the Belgian province Brabant) ceremony on occasion of the first visit of a new monarch to a city. Does it not sound like a sonnet when Kathman opens: “I am here”, – but to what effect is he here? First of all to the effect of he “being there”– yeah, he. Doubtlessly to dot the i’s and to cross the t’s, otherwise put “to explain why there are not, in fact, any serious questions about this, and why it's only possible to deny it if you deny the significance of all documentary evidence.” We should be cautious, however: the “significant documentary evidence” of a particular author is often nothing more than the evidence he himself has retained as evidence; reciprocally, the evidence he has not noticed or retained himself is ex definitione “insignificant” or “irrelevant”. Hence Kathman’s “royal” voice is comprehensible as the authority of which he himself deems to be the foremost carrier. But is the “supreme sovereignty” he implicitly seems to claim or to usurp itself sufficiently evidenced?

The answer is I think both positive and negative. His intervention on the one hand clears the forest; on the other hand it is, precisely because it is partly correct, noxious: some paths, partly guiding routes, having been obstructed.

But herein Kathman is absolutely correct: there were indeed two kinds of shareholders: those who held shares in the real properties, the so-called “housekeepers” and the players. The latter were called “fellows”, but fellows and housekeepers were both shareholders, a distinction Bentley points out several times, but that seems to have escaped Kathman.

The interests of the two groups collided in 1635. Gerald Eades Bentley has carefully described the situation.

Dr Kathman, so it seems to me, has transmitted it less carefully.

I hope Dr Kathman will not be offended if I compare GE Bentley’s findings with his own. GE Bentley has probably not written as much on the subject as Dr Kathman in the recent decades, only 8 pieces or volumes, in absolute numbers a ludicrously small number not anywhere near to the mighty steady stream of Kathman’s appearances on the Internet, though in number of pages Bentley’s output consist of three substantial works (I don’t want to insinuate thereby that Kathman’s contributions would have been insubstantial!): The Jacobean and Caroline Stage, 6 volumes, Oxford: at The Clarendon Press, 1941; The Profession of Dramatist In Shakespeare’s Time, Princeton, N.J. 1971; The Profession of Player In Shakespeare’s Time, Princeton, N.J. 1984.

The shareholding issue has been satisfactorily (IMHO) dealt with by GE Bentley in the first volume, pp. 43-45, of The Jacobean and Caroline Stage. In this paper I’ll proceed as follows:

Kathman’s reply to the contents of the Goldsmith course will be printed in red color (as already done in one instance above for his sonnet-like announcement) and confronted with the findings, either directly expressed by or as inferences from GE Bentley. The two great (or maybe one and a half) authorities, such is my own conclusion, are at variance — pretty clearly so. In order to enable readers to draw their own conclusions, the full passage from Bentley is reproduced hereafter:

{Gerald Eades Bentley, Jacobean and Caroline Stage, vol. I, pp. 43-45

Just how profitable it was at this time, we learn from a statement of the income of three of the King’s players in the year 1634-5. John Shank and Cuthbert Burbage agree in separate statements that between Whitsun 1634 and Whitsun 1635 Robert Benfield, Eyllardt Swanston and Thomas Pollard each received £180 as members of the company; this sum was exclusive of housekeepers’ shares. As Burbage pointed out, such an income would very well keep an actor from starving,

         The record of the emolument of members of the King’s company is derived from a set of papers which reveal serious dissensions in the organization in 1635, dissensions which led to aggrieved petitions, and both, with subsequent decisions, were copied into the Lord Chamberlain’s book.

         These interesting and important documents, generally called the Sharers’ Papers, reveal the sad fact that at least three of the players had discovered that they were the slaves of the capitalists. The three were simply asking that more of the profits of the company should go to the workers and less to the investors. The sharers could not see the justice of this request. From the appeals in the resulting dispute we get a great deal of information about the King’s company.

         The papers consist of: (1) A petition of three of the players, Robert Benfield, ‘Heliard’ Swanston, and Thomas Pollard, to the Lord Chamberlain; undated, (2) Their further petition; undated, (3) The answer of John Shank, another player, but also a chief housekeeper at both the Blackfriars and the Globe; undated. (4) The joint answer of Cuthbert Burbage, his son William, and his sister-in-law Winifred Robinson, formerly wife of Richard Burbage, all sharers in the two theatres; undated. (5) The decision of the Lord Chamberlain on the petitions and answers, dated at Theobalds, 12 July 1635. (6) The summary of a petition of John Shank concerning the enforcement of this decision; undated, but attached to (7) The appointment by the Lord Chamberlain of three arbiters for a final settlement, dated 1 August 1635. I think the facts we learn from this controversy can be best set forth by a summary of the documents,

1)    And (2) The three players say that the petitioners have a long time with much patience expected to bee admitted Sharers in the Play houses of the Globe and the Blackfriers; wherby they might reape some better fruit of their labours then hitherto they have done, & bee incouraged to proceed therein with cheerfulnes. However, they have been disappointed. The actors get only the receipts at the outer doors and half the receipts from the galleries and the boxes. From this sum they must pay the wages of the hired men and boys, the cost of lights, music, and other theatre expenses. They say this outlay amounts to about three pounds a day or £900 or £1,000 a year, exclusive of charges for poets and costumes. In contrast to the actors. The housekeepers get half the takings from the galleries and boxes and all the receipts from the tiring-house door at the Globe. From their share the housekeepers must pay only repairs and rent (the actors say the rent for both theatres is not above £65; Shank says £100). Even this charge is partially met by subletting the taphouse, tenement, and garden adjoining the Globe at twenty or thirty pounds a year. Moreover, the actors’share must be divided among nine men and that of the houskeepers among only six, so that ‘when some of the Housekeepers share the 12s a day at the Globe the Actors share not above 3s. The players explain that the division of the sixteen Globe shares and the eight Blackfriars shares is as follows:

                                                             Globe                   Blackfriars

Cuthbert Burbage                                  3 ½                       1

Mrs. Burbage(Robinson)                      3 ½                      1

Mrs. Condell                                              2                          1

John Shank                                                2                          1

Joseph Taylor                                            3                          2

John Lowin                                                2                          1

 Underwood                                               2                          1

They admit that Lowin and Taylor deserve their shares, but contend that Shank got his three Globe shares by puchasing them ‘surreptitiously’ from William Heminges. In conclusion, the actors request that the Lord Chamberlain order Shank, Cuthbert Burbage, and the Robinsons each to sell them one share in the Globe and order Shank to sell them one in the Blackfriars to be divided among the three. This alllotment they think only just, so that others should not ‘reape most or the chiefest benefitt of the sweat of their browes, & live upon the bread of their Labours’.

(3) In his answer, John Shank, ‘an old man in this quality’, Says that he got his shares by purchasing them from William Heminges, as anyone else migh have done. He says that two years before, he paid £156 for one share in the Blackfriars with six years to run and one share in the Globe with two years to run. The former was subject to a rent of 6.5s. per year. Eleven months before, he paid William Heminges £350 for one more share for five years in the Blackfiars and two more shares in the Blackfriars and two more shares for one year in the Globe. William Heminges has held the shares without molestation for four years after his father’s death. The term of the Globe leases was later extended to nine years because of the company’s charge of £1,400 in bui lding the second Globe. The petitioners, according to Shank, have each received £180 for their efforts in the company in the last year, besides £34 which Swanston had for one-third share in the Blackfriars (the petitioners did not memtion this fact.) The yearly rent by the lessees of the Globe and Blackfriars is £100 besides repairs. Shank recounts that he has supplied the company with apprentices – Thomas Pollard and John Thompson, deceased (who cost him £40); that since coming to the company he has paid his part of £200 for other boys – John Honyman, Thomas Holcomb, and others; and that he now maintains three boys for the company’s service}

DOTTING THE “t”s AND CROSSING THE “i”s

Kathman’s argumentation is partly a little sleazy. And occasionally queasy; he explains: “The other major problem here is Ros's claim that even if Shakespeare was a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, he wasn't necessarily an actor, because some sharers "were more involved in a business capacity". This is false, and it betrays a basic misunderstanding about how early modern English theater companies worked. Only actors (players) were ever sharers in a playing company, meaning they collectively owned the company's scripts, costumes, and props, shared the expenses and profits from playing, and made decisions like whether to buy a new script). If a sharer left or died, the other sharers would proportionally buy out his share, so that only active members of a company could be sharers… ” and he goes on: “I assume Ros is thinking of people like Cuthbert Burbage, who was part-owner of the Globe and Blackfriars playhouses along with his brother Richard (and other actors including Shakespeare), but who was never an actor himself. But Cuthbert was never a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's or King's Men; he was only a householder, a shareholder in the two playhouses, whose ownership was organized under an entirely different legal structure. Playhouse shares could be bequeathed to heirs, bought, and sold, unlike a share in a playing company. Cuthbert Burbage was ineligible to be a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and I am unaware of any non-actor who was a sharer in any other playing company. Conversely, if William Shakespeare was a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, it necessarily means he was an actor.”

Those are Kathman’s explanations. Both are also false or at least inaccurate. We’ll later see that if the self-proclaimed expert Kathman holds that he’s unaware of any other non-actor than Cuthbert Burbage, it only proves that the self-proclaimed “expert” has simply not done his homework. Already at this juncture it should be clear by looking at the above list that a non-actor could be a shareholder. John Underwood had died in 1624, the shareholders mentioned must have been his children, who were non-actors. In the next section we’ll meet one other case (and as Andrew Gurr has shown in The Shakespearian playing companies,Oxford 1996, there were even some more). So that we can repeat for Kathman’s assessment Kathman’s own assessment pronounced on Ros Barber: “It betrays a basic misunderstanding about how early modern English theater companies worked.”

Despite all this, Kathman seems very self-confident: “Cuthbert Burbage was ineligible to be a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and I am unaware of any non-actor who was a sharer in any other playing company.”

Should the reader have become befuddled, it’s not necessarily my or his own fault, it could be due to Dr Kathman’s confusion, for he seems to have lost Bentley’ thread. But his deficiency is made goo by bombast: “I, Dave Kathman am not aware of any other person than Cuthbert Burby who was a non-actor and shareholder”. The reader cannot but conclude that if the immensely widely read Master Kathman with his never failing scholarly perfection never came across of any other person than Cuthbert Burby, there is almost certainly no other and to no use to seek for them. The more correct conclusion, however, is: Master Kathman is not so comprehensively read as his bombastic self-advertisement seems to impress on the reader, surprisingly for a scholar who, though elsewhere he gentlemanlike concedes dissidents might hav a decent level of intelligence but by contrast to himself attest them a quasi total “lack of training in Elizabethan literary history (“Why I am not an Oxfordian”). Surprisingly self-confident, truly.

Again, Kathman’s fundamental error is not to distinguish between two kinds of shareholders: housekeepers and actors, the latter were most often referred to as “fellows”, however, both were shareholders (see Bentley above: housekeepers even shared in some of the receipts from performances).

Kathman wants to contradict what he thinks, rightly or wrongly, was Dr. Barber’s erroneous premise, that namely Shakspere was but an investor and took no active part as an actor. But Shakespeare too was listed as a housekeeper (as were the actors Burbage, Heminge and Condell). This he could easily have done by pointing out that William Shakespeare was several times referred to as “fellow” (in Augustin Phillips’s last will, in the Parnassus play, in his own last will) Indeed, as Bentley makes abundantly clear, there were two categories of shareholders; both categories are clearly mentioned in the last will of the actor John Shank in 1635:

“And I doe desire my fellowes his Maiesties servantes the players that they d o not abridge my said wife and Executrix in the receiving of what is due unto me and my estate amongst them as namely ffity poundes for my share as I am a player and Sixteene poundes and Twelve shillinges which they owe me for Two gownes and Twwoe and Twenty shillinges for Trigg and my share in the Court monyes behind. And that they will no goe about to hinder my wife in haveinge her assurance amongst them for my partes in the Globe playhowse according to a decree in the Court of Requestes in that behalfe obteined against Sir Matthew Brende knight.”

The term “shareholder” was used for both housekeepers and actors, the term “fellow” for shareholder cum actor (in his last will in 1627 Henry Condell, who must have transferred the kind of shares here mentioned by Shank, does not use the word “fellow” for John Heminges (d. 1630); and of course this too creates a problem with regard to Shakspere’s last will. The problem: what happened with Shakspere’s shares? for even the “fellows-shares” were inheritable, at least temporarily; Shanks’s wife could not have been virtually defrauded of them, had she not legally possessed them; as non-actor she would have been obliged to sell them. We almost certainly are faced with a similar situation as in the Stationers’ Company. The widow of an admitted printer (only approx. 24 London printers enjoyed this privilege) could inherit this privilege and continue printing in her own name. This was for instance the case for Jacqueline Vautrollier, widow of Thomas, who afterwards married Richard Field, printer of Venus and Adonis. But on principle such shares too – which I here term “fellows-shares” (it might not be amiss to use the term “chattle-shares” as contrasted to “real estate shares” were inheritable. The use of “fellow” in Shakspere’s will, however, suggests he still possessed such “fellows-shares”, but no shares are mentioned – and this may create another anomaly in Shakspere’s last will, suggesting the insertion of the bequest to Burbage. Heminge, and Condell might have been hastily and inaccurately done (though it certainly was no forgery, as some doubters have been all too keen on doing). Similarly for the housekeeper-shares. In Condell’s will they are mentioned, in Shakspere’s will none are mentioned.

Because Kathman seems to have missed the basic difference between “housekeepers” and “fellows”, he was missing (and eschewing) some possible problems. As often some lesser or bigger annoying problem comes out of the woodwork when dealing with Shakespere’s dealings. Though no serious problems exist, King David assures us. But can we be sure whether King David himself is serious?

 VON WEGEN GERINGER DINGE VERSTIMMT…

Von wegen geringer Dinge verstimmt/Wie vom Schnee war die Glocke, womit man läutet/Zum Abendessen“

These known lines from the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin come to mind while musing about the Shakespeare authorship question. In prosaic translation: “disturb’d by little things/Like by snow was the bell ringed for supper”. The parallelism with the Shakespeare authorship issue? Often a little thing intervenes, a splitter that troubles the bright light and smooth truth prepared for undisturbed, unquestionable supper.

Take the shareholder question. There seems to be no question at all, no splitter here. No?

Yet there is one. Surely, King David has not seen it, but King David is often as blinded by his self-complacency as king Oedipus in the process of knowing himself.

Indeed, there is a document raising doubts as to whether Shakespear was a shareholder or so was at any time within the alleged span of his career. The document in question, whose game-changing power as far as I know only Benjamin Roland Lewis in The Shakespeare Documents, Stanford 1941, seems to have perceived, is Robert Keysar’s Bill of Complaint of 8 February 1610.

In 1600 Henry Evans, a theater manager who in the 1580s had been working with the Earl of Oxford at the Blackfriars theatre (yes, yes, but no, no, King David decrees, “there is no documentary evidence to connect the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford with any of Shakespeare's plays or poems” (“Why I am not an Oxfordian”) leased that playhouse from the Burbages. The poet John Marston had a 1/6 share in it. In 1606 Marston sold his share to Robert Keysar, a London goldsmith who had engaged in the theatre business. Keysar was an insider of the theatre world; Keysar was also a friend and promoter of the playwright Francis Beaumont (esdpecially of his comedy The Knight of the Burning Pestle). But in 1608 Evans re-transferred the lease to the Burbage brothers Richard and Cuthbert (no, no, King David decrees,” Cuthbert Burbage was ineligible as shareholder”) and Keysar was sidestepped. In 1610 Keysar formed a new company at the Whitefriars playhouse. Keysar seems to have been the driving force behind the undertaking but his name does not appear among the shareholders, one of whom was a certain John Tarbock. In his work The Shakespearian playing companies (Oxford 1996) Andrew Gurr writes, “Tarbock is otherwise unknown. He may have been a front for Keysar, whose name is rather strangely omitted given his control of the enterprise” (p. 357). Thus this John Tarbock would have been a non-actor and shareholder, Keysar claimed that the stake in the Blackfriars he bought from Marston gave him the right to a share in the earnings of the newly created Blackfriars Company in 1608, and took action. His bill of complaint was directed against the main shareholders of the new Blackfriars Company, Shakespeare’s company. In the bill of complaint the shareholders are listed as “Richard Burbage, Cuthbert Burbage, John Heminges, Henry Condell and others.” Number and names of the nameless “others” are known. There were only two, one named Thomas Evans. As stated, of him nothing is known; EK Chambers conjectures, probably correctly, that he was a relative and front for Henry Evans. “As part of his consideration, Evans, through a nominee, was admitted by Burbadge into a new syndicate, of which the other members were Burbadge himself and his brother Cuthbert, and some of the leading players of the King's company, by whom it was intended that the Blackfriars should now be used." (E.K. Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, I. 509, 1923). Henry Evans was of course known to Keysar, but either the nondescript/ evasive Thomas Evans was not known to Keysar or considered by him as an unimportant figure without operative function. The only other shareholder at the time Keysar sued the members of Shakespeare’s company was the evasive William Shakespeare. If William Shakespeare actually was a leading shareholder to the same degree as the four men Keysar named, his omission is incomprehensible. If, however, he was just a front man as John Tarbock and Thomas Evans seem to have been, it is no great surprise Keysar did not mention his name. Roland B. Lewis could not suppress a certain amazement at the “leading shareholder” William Shakespeare not being explicitly mentioned alongside Richard and Cuthbert Burbage, John Heminges and Henry Condell. We should note that if Shakspere was a mere trustee, he was not exactly a “front” or “strawman” but according to old English law since the Statute Quia Emptores (also called Statute of Westminster of 1290) the “lawful owner”, that is the owner at common law — from whence it does not follow that the owner at equity, the “cestuy que use” or what in modern parlance would be called the “benefecial” owner, would have been an “unlawful” owner)

In 1600 Henry Evans, a theater manager who in the 1580s had been working with Oxford at the Blackfriars theatre, leased that playhouse from the Burbages. The poet John Marston had an 1/6 share in it. In 1606 Marston sold his share to Robert Keysar, a London goldsmith who had engaged in the theatre business. Keysar was an insider of the theatre world; Keysar was also a friend of the playwright Francis Beaumont. But in 1608 Evans re-transferred the lease to the Burbage brothers Richard and Cuthbert and Keysar was sidestepped. In 1610 Keysar formed a new company at the Whitefriars playhouse. Keysar seems to have been the driving force behind the undertaking but his name does not appear among the shareholders, one of whom was a certain John Tarbock evidenciary In his work The Shakespearian playing companies (Oxford 1996) Andrew Gurr writes, “Tarbock is otherwise unknown. He may have been a front for Keysar, whose name is rather strangely omitted given his control of the enterprise.” (p. 357) Thus this John Tarbock would have been a non-actor and shareholder, David Kathman is unaware of (Gurr, p. 348) mentions another case, the son-in-law of Henry Evans) few other cases). Keysar claimed that the stake in the Blackfriars he bought from Marston gave him the right to a share in the earnings of the newly created Blackfriars ompany in 1608, and took action. His bill of complaint was directed against the main shareholders of the new Blackfriars Company, Shakespeare’s company. In the bill of complaint the shareholders are listed as “Richard Burbage, Cuthbert Burbage, John Heminges, Henry Condell and others.” Number and names of the nameless “others” are known. There were only two, one named Thomas Evans. Of him nothing is known; EK Chambers conjectures, probably correctly, that he was a relative and front for Henry Evans, who had run into legal troubles following certain sharp hiring practices. “As part of his consideration, Evans, through a nominee, was admitted by Burbadge into a new syndicate, of which the other members were Burbadge himself and his brother Cuthbert, and some of the leading players of the King's company, by whom it was intended that the Blackfriars should now be used." (E.K. Chambers, Elizabethan Stage, I. 509, 1923). Henry Evans was of course known to Keysar, but either the evasive Thomas Evans was not known to Keysar or considered by him as an unimportant figure. The only other shareholder at the time Keysar sued as “other” members of Shakespeare’s company was the evasive William Shakespeare himself. If William Shakespeare actually was a leading shareholder to the same degree as the four men Keysar named, his omission is incomprehensible. If, however, he was just a front man as John Tarbock and Thomas Evans seem to have been, it is no great surprise Keysar did not mention his name. Roland B. Lewis could not suppress a certain amazement at the “leading shareholder” William Shakespeare not being explicitly mentioned alongside Richard and Cuthbert Burbage, John Heminges and Henry Condell.

Kathman’s contention is also proved inaccurate by the so-called “sharer papers” of 1635. Among the SHAREHOLDERS of the Globe and Blackfriars listed by Bentley for 1635 we find besides Cuthbert Burbage Mrs (Burbage) Robinson and Mrs. Condell (and the children of John Underwood). Mrs Burbage was the widow of Richard Burbage; she remarried with Richard Robinson, an actor in the company. But before her remarriage she held a share in her own name… and she was then certainly no actor. One could consider her situation a “border-line” case. However, the case of Mrs. Condell, Henry Condell’s widow (Condell had died in December 1627 ) no longer offers a loophole. And once more: it is inaccurate that the housekeepers were not eligible as shareholders. Shakespeare himself is listed as housekeeper-shareholder and actor-shareholder. And the housekeepers did have a share in the receipts from stage performances (“half the takings from the galleries and boxes and all the receipts from the tiring-house door at the Globe”).

If Kathman wanted to prove that Shakespeare was an actor, he could have stopped at underscoring the references to him as a fellow. Possibly he was longing for a more crushing argument. And found one, thereby incurring the fate of his fellow-king, the legendary Lydian king Croesus – an early example of confirmatory bias as it were – whom the oracle told that if he attacked Persia, he would destroy a great empire. Croesus did attack Persia, and thereby destroyed his own empire.

Other mistake: “The cast lists in Jonson's works, a large folio edition which he carefully edited and published in the year of Shakespeare's death, list William Shakespeare as a principal actor in two of his plays. One should recognize that even from the perspective of orthodox scholars these cast lists are not exactly truthful. We have no evidence to corroborate that Shakespeare was ever the principal actor in anything. Then as now principal actors were noticeable and remarked upon. No one ever remarked on Shakespeare's acting and scholars generally concur that if he took on acting roles they were very small ones. So why would Jonson list him as a principal actor with his name along with that of Richard Burbage topping these lists.”

“But what about Ros's claim that "we have no evidence to corroborate that Shakespeare was ever the principal actor in anything", that "no one ever remarked on Shakespeare's acting" even though then as now principal actors were noticeable and remarked upon”?

And once more: Ben Jonson does not list Will. Shakespeare as “a principal actor”. What, then, about what seems to be Kathman’s claim that given the appearance of Shakespeare’s name appears on top of lists of shareholders having performed in plays it is not serious to assume he was no actor? Kathman’s argument looks reasonable, but it only so “looks”; the aplomb with which it is advanced is unjustified. In 1942 Felix Schelling had remarked: “But it is a mistake to infer, because Shakespeare’s name stands first in the list of actors and the elder Kno’well first in the dramatis personae, that Shakespeare took that particular part. The order of a list of Elizabethan players was generally that of their importance or priority as shareholders in the company and seldom if ever corresponded to the list of characters.” https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/jonson/ben/schelling/

So Ros Barber may be basically right: No evidence exists for any concrete role Shakspere might have performed, only that he did perform some unspecified role in one or two plays of Jonson’s.

One or two? I’ll return to this question soon.

A word about “cast lists”: The statement contains another error, surprising for one who has recommended himself as somebody living up to the standards of serious scholarship. “Cast lists” is a misleading term for the lists of shareholders in Jonson’s folio of 1616. Cast lists were not already being printed in 1616. See GE Bentley, The Profession of player in Shakespeare’s time, p. 247

To set the record straight about the use of cast lists, below the two relevant passages from

Gerald Eades Bentley, The Profession of player in Shakespeare’s time, p.247

“PRINCE CHARLES’S (I) COMPANY

The first cast to be printed in a quarto, that for the Inner Temple Masque, Or Masque of Heroes, 1619, is, of course an abnormal piece for professional players since, as a masque it required far fewer spoken lines then plays and fewer characters. As the title shows, the masque was put on by the lawyers of the Inner Temple, and the dancers, always conspicuous in a masque, were members of the Inner Temple. The hired professional players to speak Middleton’s lines were:

 The Parts                          The Speakers
D’Almanack                    Joseph Taylor                       

Etc."

And

"THE KING’S COMPANY

The next cast to be printed was that for the 1623 quarto of John Websters’ Duchess of Mallfi as acted by the King’s Company in 1613 or 1614 with certain cast changes indicated for a revival after 1619.”

 Excursion:

Two objections were brought forth against my presentation of the Keysar bill of complaint on Facebook.

I.

I think it was Ros Barber who contested I had enough evidence for claiming that one of the two unnamed “others” in the bill of complaint could be identified as Shakespeare, the other being the nondescript Thomas Evans.

However, it is pretty clear from the suit of Thomasine Ostler against her father John Heminges that only Thomas Evans and William Shakespeare, the alleged principal shareholder, qualify for “others”. Extract from suit: “ per & a predicto Ricardo Burbadge preato Johanni Hemynges & quibusdam Willelmo Shakespeare, Cuthberto Burbadge, Henrico Condell, Thome Evans, de Londonia predicta generosis… (Chambers, Shakespeare II.63)

 II.

Then Richard Malim supported a claim apparently made by Nina Greene that Shakespeare was not intended by Keysar, an insider of the London theatrical world, for, not being explicitly named, the bill could not be serviced (notified) to him. About 16 years ago (I left Phaeton by my own decision in 2004) Nina Greene imagined that Shakspere was something of the loyal adlatus of Oxford, a concept she seemed to have partly taken over from Diana Price and Alden Brooks. In that sense we possibly still are all (including Roland Emmerich) hostages of Alden Brooks.

 By contrast, my own assumption is that the partners of the company of the King’s men were jointly and severally liable so that there was no need of separate notification (as would have been in the case of separate co-contractors.)

This issue should be deepened for if I am right this would be crucial for understanding the true role od the man of Stratford. The fulfillment of this “empty” mission would be in accord with the Aubrey crap: keeping a low profile among the players (“not a company keeper” and avoiding to have to write whatever was asked from him, be it his signature (it is hilarious how Hilary Mantel in her Guardian review of Shapiro’s Contested Will ( but rather a review of Shapiro’s 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare) tries to sneak around this Aubrey crap (which Shapiro comments on but briefly in the preface of 1599 (p. xxiii).

WAS SHAKSPERE EVER AN ACTOR?

In the light of his poor acting record even some orthodox scholars have presumed Shakespeare never was a prominent actor. In 1709 Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare’s first biographer wrote: “It is at this Time… tht he said to have made his first Acquaintance in the Play-house. He was receiv’d into the Company then in being, at first in a very mean Rank; but his admirable Wit, and the natural Turn of it to the Stage, soon distinguish’d him, if not as an extraordinary Actor, yet as an excellent Writer. His Name is Printed, as the Custom was in those Times, amongst those of other Players, before some old Plays, but without any particular Account of what sort of Parts he us’d to play; and tho’ I have inquir’d, I could never meet with any further Account of him this way, than that the top of his Performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet…” (Chambers, Shakespeare, II.265).

            Some doubters set a step further and denied Ben Jonson’s list could be trusted. After all, they argue, the lists were set up nearly twenty years after the fact, and Ben Jonson’s phrasing so slippery. However, as already pointed out and despite the lack of any record of his actual acting, there are sufficient references to him as “fellow” — actually Kathman spoiled his most powerful argument — to acknowledge he was an actor.

Case closed? Yes, but only to reopen it from the scratch. For Jonson was “slippery” in as far as he let slip something,

If you look at the time span Shakespere is generally thought to have been acting in London, 1598-1610/11, we have in Jonson’s lists only two occurrences for Will. Shakespeare: 1598 and 1603. We have in Jonson’s lists 6 occurrences for Richard Burbadge: 1598, 1599, 1603, 1605, 1610, 1611; but we have many more references to Burbadge’s acting from other sources. The comparison is unfavourable for Shakespeare. We have within this time span 6 occurrences for Henry Condell and 5 for John Heminges; and there are more, but not many. The comparison with Shakespeare is less favourable, but not really “dramatically”.

Let us now look neither too absent-mindedly nor too close-eyedly at the two lists in which Shakespeare occurs (see Chambers, Shakespeare II.71-72)

[1598, before 20 Sept. Note after text of Every Man in His Humour in First Folio of Ben Jonson’s Workes (1616). A contemporary letter shows that E.M.I. was ‘a new play shortly before 20 Sept. (Eliz. Stage, iii.359). ]

This Comoedie was first Acted, in the yeere 1598. By the then L. Chamberlayne his Servants. The principall Comœdians were.

            Will. Shakespeare,                                         Ric. Burbadge.

            Aug. Philips                                                   Ioh. Hemings.

            Hen. Condel.                                                 Tho. Pope.

            Will Slye.                                                       Chr. Beeston.

            Will. Kempe.                                                  Ioh. Duke.

[1603, c. Christmas. Note after text of Sejanus in First Folio of Ben Jonson’s Workes (1616). On the date, cf. Eliz. Stage, iii.367.]

            Ric. Burbadge .                                             Will. Shake-Speare.

            Aug. Philips.                                                  Ioh. Hemings.

            Will. Sly.                                                        Hen. Condel.

            Ioh. Lowin                                                     Alex. Cooke.

             Jonson’s spelling of names is IMO remarkably consistent. “Burbage” is always spelled “Burbadge” as in every other of his lists. “Heminge” is always spelled “Hemings”. “Condell” is always spelled “Condel”, never “Cundall” or “Condall”. “Philips” always “Philips”, never “Philllips”. Only in the name “Slye” the terminal “e” is once dropped, as in the name “Tooley^” in later lists (1x Tooley, 1x Tooly). Only the name Shakespeare is conspicuously spelled differently: with hyphen and a capital letter for each of the components, thereby restoring the components to their original semantic status.

By the way, as did Thomas Fuller in his comments: “Martial in the Warlike sound of his Sur-name (whence some may conjecture him of Military extraction,) Hasta-vibrans, or Shake-speare.” (Chambers, Shakespeare, II. 245). Chambers date Fuller’s comment between 1643 and 1661). But Fuller, as well as undefined “some” considered him of “military extraction” — which to my humble judgement must mean “armigerens”, “arms carrying”, of knightly descent, an aristocrat. We don’t know who associated the name Shakespeare with “military extraction”, but some clues can be gleaned from the documentary record.

Jonson’s different spelling indicates a double entendre. It is plausible to assume that we here have Shakspere and Shake-speare, the same Will. Shake-speare John Davies of Hereford had in mind when addressing him as “English Terence”, a courtier who took a role in Jonson’s tragedy Sejanus. But could a courtier afford such a performance on stage? However, “stage” was not always equal to “stage”. The conditio sine qua non for a courtier to maintain his social status was not to totally abstain from playing; after all playing at court, be it as play or as mask, was fully fashionable at court. But not at all outside the court, before the ”vulgar multitude”, the broad public, “the view”, as Shakespeare expresses it in sonnet 110. Jonson gives as year of performance 1603. In 1603, the time of a severe plague epidemic, the public theatres were closed. The performance must have taken in a private house or at Court. The most likely performance was that at Whitehall on 26 December by the Chamberlain’s Men for which John Heminges acted as payee.

                May Thomas Vicars have one of “the some” Fuller had in mind? At any rate, “some” implies that more contemporaries were thinking of Shakespeare as being “of military extraction. ”In 1620 Thomas Vicars (1589-1638) publishes a rhetorical manual; in a subsequent edition of 1624 he adds the names of four poets: Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, and George Withers. He does not mention “William Shakespeare” In a third edition, then, he adds Shakespeare, but not under his name, as periphrasis “that famous poet who takes his name from “shaking” and “spear” (Fred Schurink in Notes & Queries, 2006).

And who was the anonymous M.L. and in which relation stood he to Shakespeare? He was probably an admirer of Edmund Spenser and wrote certainly S: “let worthless lines be scattered here and there,
but verses live supported by a speare. (Envies Scourge and Vertues Honour by M. L.)

( http://www.anonymous-shakespeare-ebook.com/questions/questions/Shakespeare%20a%20pseudonym.html )

Anyway, what immediately matters in the present context is that someone with at least a propensity to literature referred to him not explicitly but again in a periphrasis built on an association with the military profession.

We could add the permanent hyphenating of the name by the stationers until Francis Meres publicized the unhyphenated name William Shakespeare in connection with the plays (and in a few cases even after Meres).

            We could also add a number of other cases. We can leave it here and turn to the question how some contemporaries perceived “mystifications” in early modern times. And for that we are taking a look in France, which had its own poetical mystery; we are looking to Mireille Huchon and her book on Louise Labé, Une Créature de Papier (Louise Labé, A Creature of Paper), Genève 2006.

            But what has King David to tell us? Not much. Just Queasiness as usual.

            Hyphens meant nothing, he writes. “The Spelling and Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s name”. http://shakespeareauthorship.com/name1.html

He does not address the question whether the hyphen did not restore a semantic content which the family name had lost. He cannot address the question, he can only overlook it, for this one of his examples proves exactly that. “When Anthony Munday wrote a pageant in honor of Sir Thomas Campbell's installation as Lord Mayor of London in 1609, the title of the printed version was "Camp-bell, or, The ironmonger's faire field." Thomas Campbell was a member of the company of ironmongers; the “ironmonger’s faire field” is the battlefield, the “camp(us) bell(um)”.

            Enough of that. Let us go to France and give King David:

“A joyous exit”.

 ADDITIONS FOM MIREILLE HUCHON, LOUISE LABÉ – UNE CRÉATURE DE PAPIER, GENÈVE 2006

            Mireille Huchon is a prestigious figure in the matter of literary history of France. She was (or still is) professor at the Sorbonne, an expert for François Rabelais, the 16th-century French literature, and director of the UFR de la langue française (Unité de formation et de recherche – Education and research unit of the Franch language Formation . So seemed to assemble all possible credentials to tackle the mystery of Louise Labé, the famous French poetesse (1524-1566), apostrophed “the French Sappho”). Her book on Louise Labé bears an ominous subtitle: Louise Labé – Une Créature de Papier, Genève 2006. It opens: “Louise Labé is a mystery. Appeared as a comet at the firmament of Lyon in 1555, followed by a troopt of poets some of whom were going to become stars of the Pléiade, she suddenly disappears from the poetic sky, to make her re-appearance some centuries later as the greatest-ever French poetesse.” So to speak an equivalent of the Greek Sappho.

She received hate-mail. A sample: http://lesaventuresdeuterpe.blogspot.de/2010/07/mireille-huchon-une-universitaire-de.html “Mireille Huchon, an academician of paper.

Mireille Huchon does not exist. She is sort of puppet invented by a group of males fiercely resolved on eradicating the name of Louise Labé who for the first time made her entry, four centuries after apparition of her work, in a program of the competion for Agrégation de Lettres Moderne (admission as high school teacher) in 2005. It was the highest elevation of the poetesse on the literary altar at the same level of the most distinguished names, practically all of them males.

But this ascendance wouldn’t last long. A single , oh, that was already too much, would suffice to one Mireille Huchon to issue an essay spreading a theory in Genève that Louise Labé had never existed!

Louise Labé, une créature de papier" she is not ashamed to call it an ovni (objet volant non identifié – undefined flying object) and argues, flying in the face of all evidence. .

Who is the publisher so keen to produce a book in form of the burial of a poetesse whose existence up to now was never called in question by anybody? posed a problem? “

Impudent Huchon! How can she dare marring a budding academic project!

            Etc. Sounds familiar, no? Depriving a poor courtesan of her merited praise. Even Michael Shermer, a sceptic himself according to his own visiting card, couldn’t find a better argument for the defence of the Stratford man: it would be an intellectual regression behind Aristotle: a vacuum would be created. Snobbery, to deprive a man of low birth from his genius and hard work!

            Mireille Huchon has by no means pretended that Louise Labé never existed. She even gives some details of her family and her life as a courtesan in Lyon. Only, nothing his heard anymore of her after the publication of “Oeuvres de Louize Labé, Lionnoize” (Works of Louise Labé, Lyonese”), consisting of a “Debate between Folly and Love” in prose, which Robert Greene freely translated into English and appended to Gwydonius. A Card of Fancy in 1584, and 24 sonnets allegedly by herself and about the same number of poems of different genre in honour of her by divers poets. Not the slightest connection of the courtesan Louise Labé with any other poet or literary activity was traceable. Moreover, Huchon minutiously traces “repetitions”, partly verbatim, in the works of those poets who contributed poems in her honour. She concludes that Louise Labé was a literary “supercherie” (hoax or fake) perpetrated by poets around Maurice Scève (c. 1501-c. 1564).

Particularly interesting IMO are the passages where Huchon addresses the question whether readers would have been duped by the fake.

“The poetsof Louise Labé have created the image of a new Sappho,an exceptional woman that is dazzling modern readers. But it is not certain that the contemporaneous readers fell victim to the same illusion; those close to these poets must have been amused by this disport; the more remoted readers would have had reasons to stay perplexed about the statute of those texts, especially those accustomed to the procedures of the then fashionable paradoxical literature, and those who could discover behind the texts ascribed to Louise Labé the manipulations of texts, parodies which the modern reader, incited since the romantic literature to be excited at the authentic expression of a forceful passion could only ignore. When Pierre de Saint Julien about The Debate between Folly and Love speaks of the “hoaxing erudition” of Maurice Scève to whom this text must be attributed, this comment was certainly no revelation for his contemporaries and the reader of the 16th century who had in mind those texts to be read in the background of the “poetry of Louise Labé (texts obfuscated for the modern reader) and couldn’t but discover in them the hand of Maurice Scève. For the sonnets and the elegies, even if no text of the 16th century explicitly attributed it to other authors than Louise Labé, reiterations and coincidences must have given rise to doubt “(p. 228).

That is, contemporaries more or less close to or familiar with the works of Maurice Scève and his circle are unlikely to have been deceived, but modern readers missing this information would be easily misled. “The contemporaneous readers must have been able to operate this paradoxical reading, especially those having had the opportunity to read the editions of La Pazzia (published in 1540, 1541, 1543, 1550).Indeed, the “Debate between Folly and Love” owes less to Erasmus’ Praise of Folly” than to the “Eulogy of Folly”of Ortensio Lando [an Augustinian monk, translator of Cicero and Thomas More, residing in Lyon around 1543] which is rerun in “Debate”. For instance, the remarkable passage about the literary activities of women moved by passion of which “Debate” is reminiscent, owes nothing to Erasmus” (p.241) “In 1546 a book is published in Lyon under the name of a woman, but is actually written by Ortensio Lando.” (p. 267)

“Also, independently of any intention of mystification, it is a Lyonese tradition that men make audible the female voice” (p. 267). In my view Huchon suggests that often the contemporaries new more than modern readers. Maybe men are always colonisators: to other people, to the own past, collectively and even individually. The modern reader, and this is particularly true for “human sciences”, will generally think he is so much better informed – which Herbert Butterfield has underscored to be often a fatal error. Huchon seems to advocate a concept of “open secret”.

It was a tradition inaugurated by Italian authors at the beginning of the 16th century, though real courtesans did exist, for instance Veronica Franco (1546-1591) in Venice whom Montaigne encountered.

There are palpable differences with the case for Shakespear; there are also some palpable parallels, especially with regard to “open secrecy”.

We could start with the letter in Groatsworth of Wit. Three playwrights were targeted. There is still disagreement about whom they were. Almost unanimity obtained from the start regarding the first: Christopher Marlowe. It is now agreed that Thomas Nashe was the second (young Juvenal). But Nashe had for a long time to compete with Lodge. The third was at first thought to be Shakespeare, then George Peele. But neither is that certain. And EK Chambers never understood (or did not want to understand) what the term “honesty” implied and was compelled to brige the gap in his knowledge by ascribing to Chettle “some looseness in his language” (Shakespeare I.59). Sabrina Feldman’s explanation as the plant “lunaria” is even more preposterous.

But nowhere is it documented in writing who the three playwrights were. None the less the involved persons, including the “divers of worship”, seem to have very well known which persons were meant. And other persons from literary circles as well, for otherwise there wouldn’t have been a scandal. So the same situation as alluded to by Mireille Huchon in the case of Louise Labé.

And then we can begin the chain: Thomas Vicars, M.L., the author of the preface to Sir Thomas Smith’s Voyages to Russia and the “late English Ovid” – I only cite those coming immediately to mind.