Did Hamlet Suggest There Was an Authorship Question in 1603 and Its Solution?
I noticed recently that Shakespeare, or rather, Hamlet appears to weigh in on the authorship question (II,ii,320-368). Worse for Stratfordians, who routinely claim there was no authorship question at the time, he concludes, in front of God and everybody, "there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could [only] find it out."
I wondered if the editors [of Notes and Quires] or anyone else has noticed this background? These allusions, though obscure now, would have been obvious to period audiences. They allude, as we shall see, to the Essex Rebellion and to the turmoil that followed. Namely the execution of Essex and several of his retainers, including Sir Gelley Mericke, and the incarceration or exiling of many of Essex's supporters, including Southampton, Wotton and Dr John Hayward, the author of The Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII, a work then believed closely connected to Shakespeare's plays Richard II and Henry IV. (Hayward, Essex, Southampton, Cecil and Marlowe had, the record proves, all overlapped at Cambridge.)
In the text, Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern discuss why the "tragedians of the city," i.e., the Globe players, were forced to travel to their own determent? Rosencrantz tells Hamlet the believes "their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation." Meaning the presentation of Richard II for the purpose of fomenting the Essex Rebellion. Or so Editors have suggested for centuries. Indeed the Crystals, in their highly acclaimed study, Shakespeare's Words A Glossary & Language Companion, define "innovation" as "revolution, disturbance, commotion...or insurrection." They then tersely remark, "the insurrection of the Earl of Essex." (240/1)
Indeed this period of travel seems be have been reflected in the title page of Hamlet's Q1 which stipulates it was presented at "the two Vnivuersities Cambridge and Oxford, and elsewhere." (1603) Though long debated, Professors Hardin Craig and Albert B. Weiner proved this edition not to have been a memorial account or a pirated text, but a version used by a road troop, as one sees in their study, William Shakespeare Hamlet The First Quarto 1603. (1962) These two able scholars were able to prove this by a simple historical analysis, followed by a line count, which proved how precisely the play had been cut. So this title page evidence, which did not continue over into Q2, must be regarded as trustworthy. (Craig wrote in his introduction that his empirical view placed him in "danger" with the theories of great scholars whom he much respected. He was right. Craig and Weiner have been ostracized for their efforts and their work ignored by Stratfordians who continue to believe Q1 was a memorial reconstruction. )
Hamlet, after finding out they have been replaced by the Children's Troop, then asks the pivotal question. He asks, why don't they just say, "their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession?" ( 350-51) Punning on "succession," since the Essex rebellion was designed to cause the succession of Elizabeth I. with James VI., later James I. In the Riverside Edition, the Editors suggest a new view on these lines is that Shakespeare must have been alluding to the Privy Council Order of 1600, which restricted the number of playhouses to two and the number of weekly performances to that same number. (1156D) However this explanation would not explain either the references to "an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically capp' for't" or what Hamlet says about their "writers" making "them exclaim against their own succession". Nor could it explain the even more certain allusion to the rebellion contained in Rosencrantz's lines, "Faith, there has been much to do on both sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy. There was for a while no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question." (352-356) Indeed Rosencrantz's phrase, "unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question," openly suggests they were two different persons. So this new "explanation" must fail, therefore, as a result.
All things considered, Hamlet raises the primary questions of the authorship debate in 1603 or two centuries before Stratfordians claim anyone noticed a problem. Namely why wasn't Shakespeare fingered, as we Yanks say, for his role as the author of Richard II by the players? Why was troop replaced by the Children's Troop and forced to travel to their detriment? Hamlet asking, "How changes it they travel? There residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways." Meaning in the city, when they were not traveling. A traveling forced upon them because of their late "innovation." Hamlet continues, "Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they followed?" To which Rosencrantz answers, "No, indeed are they not." So their travels were not beneficial for them. Rosencrantz suggests the troop fell out of "fashion," but more ominously tells Hamlet, "many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare scarce come thither." (358-60) This observation cuts to the chase. Armed men, meaning gentlemen of rank, such as those who might have followed Essex or even protected the Queen, are "afraid of goose quills" meaning, plays. So much so they "dare scarce come thither," meaning to the playhouses. This line simply has to be an allusion to the jittery political milieu in London following the Essex coup. Armed men were afraid of attending a public theater. And how could the player and the poet go to cuffs unless they were two different persons? Why didn't the actors just make it clear to the Crown that it was the Poet, and not the player, who was responsible for Richard II's deposition? Why wasn't their author punished and not them?
Are these not good questions? Why has scholarship avoided facing these allusions or this allegory for four centuries? Isn't "there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could [only] find it out" ? I may need to make it more obvious these allusions cannot refer to either the famous "war of the theaters" (which many scholars now believe never took place) or to some problem the Children's Troop might have been having with their writers. There is some textual reason for this confusion. Indeed it is only the First Folio text (1623) which gives this paragraph of dialogue:
|Hamlet: What, are they children? Who maintains 'em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterward, if they should grown themselves to common players---as it is most like if their means are no better--their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim against their own succession? (361-68)|
Neither Q2 or Q3 mention the Children's Troop. However Q1 does:
|novelty carries it away; for the principal public audience that came to them are turned to private plays and to the humor of children.|
So there can be no question that the "original" text of Hamlet, the one which was cut to provide us with Q1, contained something very much akin to what the FF now contains. An exchange that mentioned the replacement of the tragedians with "the humor of children." Thus the notion that it was a revision inserted c. 1608 must fail, as a result. (See Shakespeare Quarterly, "Falconer to Little Eyases") As textual scholars of these matters know, the various texts of Hamlet pose great problems for a modern editor. And we can be sure the same was true for period printers, none of whom seems to have been working from "fair copy."
The First Folio text actually leaves out quite a bit of material that is now included in most versions of the text, proving, if nothing else, that Shakespeare's own troop appears to have cut Hamlet when and where they pleased for dramatic or commercial reasons. Considerable editorial liberties have been taken with the modern text, which we might best describe as a "compilation" of the extant early versions. I have all four of them before me. Indeed we may profit by reproducing the FF's reading:
|Hamlet: What are they children? Who maintains 'em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the Quality no longer then they can sing? Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common Players (as it is most like if their means are no better) their Writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own Succession.|
Here's the problem. This last sentence does not appear to apply to the Children's Troop. The first part does. Indeed Hamlet is making a nice jest about what will happen to the lads when they can no longer sing, meaning, when their voices change with the onset of puberty. However these thoughts "Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common Players (as it is most like if their means are no better) their Writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own Succession.", simply do not apply to the children. They seem to, since Hamlet is talking about them maturing, but this suggestion fails, when we realize that the rest of the expression is senseless if it pertains to the children. It isn't their writers that are doing them injustice, it is their raging hormones. Puberty, which will take away their lovely falsetto voices.
So, I suggest, this sentence has been misplaced. It simply has to allude or refer to the great "tragedians of the city" who were forced to travel due to their "late innovation." So it seems likely it originally appeared here:
|Rosencrantz. I think
their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.
Hamlet. Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common Players (as it is most like if their means are no better) their Writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own Succession. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they followed?
Rosencrantz. No, indeed are they not. (II. ii.350)
Surely this is a better placement for this line. In any case, Hamlet and his friends are fairly straightforward about all this. It was the "great tragedians" of the city who were in Dutch. Shakespeare's troop. Not the Children's Troop. They were, we've learned, forced to travel against their interests, professional and monetary. This was odd, because, there seemed to Hamlet, to have been a way to avoid this, simply by making it clear that it was their "authors" who had made them to "exclaim against their own succession." Why they didn't try this gambit cannot be understood inside the Stratfordian paradigm, where the Actor and the Author are one and the same person. It can only be understood as Shakespeare saw it, under the paradigm that their author wasn't the actor. Indeed this is the only way the line about "the poet and the player" going to "cuffs" could have made sense.
So this and only this explains how these events could have happened. And we know they happened, from ample outside testimony. His audience knew it too and most of them must have been wondering much the same thing. Why didn't the troop just point their finger at the Author? If the actor and the author had been the same person, it would have been Shakespeare and not Augustine Phillips who would have been called in to answer questions about the presentation of Richard II, preceding the Essex Rebellion. I should say widespread use of Richard II, since the Queen was under the impression that it was played "40tie times in open streets and houses." (Short Life, 177) Rather than just once, as Stratfordians believe. I might ask why Stratfordians persist in this belief when the Queen, who was there at the time and much better informed about these matters than they are, is on record stipulating otherwise? Schoenbaum attempts to sweep all this under the door by claiming that a playwright was so low on the social order in that age that they simply escaped notice. (Documentary Life) But this will not wash, since we all know what happened to Jonson, Marston and Chapman over Eastward Ho! (1605) Not to mention the authors of Isle of Dogs in 1597. They were all promptly jailed.
Ok, if this is the case, who does Shakespeare, Hamlet and his two "friends" suggest as the de facto Author of Richard II, the play known to have caused the "late innovation" or insurrection and the forced travel of the great tradgeans of the city?
The obvious answer is Marlowe. He's the poet who allegedly had his brains dashed about or as Guildenstern put it, "Oh, there has been much throwing-about of brains." Earlier Hamlet has asked Polonius if he was a "fishmonger," recalling that Burghley, said the model of Polonius, had a safe-house on the river in Deptford, Kent, where Marlowe was allegedly slain. Indeed Marlowe is quoted by Hamlet in this same scene, when he gushes about "Aeneas' tale to Dido" (465-519) made famous by Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage. Oddly G. B. Harrison suggests in his note here that Hamlet may have been alluding to the original, forgetting, evidently, that Shakespeare's access to this story would have been through Marlowe, because unlike Hamlet and Marlowe, Shakespeare wasn't a Greek or Latin scholar. (To give him his full due and credit, Harrison eventually mentions Marlowe and his play of this title.)
Additionally scholars know that the Queen considered Marlowe the author of Richard II, as we can see from her remarks first quoted by William Lambarde on 4 August 1601, who wrote:
|"her Majestie fell upon the reign of King Richard II saying, 'I am Richard II. know ye not that?...He that will forget God, will also forget his benefactors; this tragedy was played 40tie times in open streets and houses." Sir E.K. Chambers, Short Life, 176/7|
The identification of Marlowe, is not obvious, but upon inspetion stands as exclusive because Marlowe was the only playwright of the period who had been accused of forgetting God. Moreover he was the only playwright of the period who on the 18th of May 1593 was suspected of being about to "forget his benefactors." Some Stratfordians have clung to the hope that the Queen had Essex in mind, as Lambarde himself seems to have thought. But this assumption proves impossible since Essex wasn't merely suspected of be about to "forget his benefactors," he had forgotten them. And he was never accused of forgetting God. So it was exclusively Marlowe who fitted this description.
Importantly his benefactors included the Queen and the Cecils. Indeed the Queen's personal interest in Marlowe is indicated early on, as evidenced in the Privy Council's conciliar to Cambridge in 1587 demanding Marlowe's MA,
|"it was not Her Majesty's pleasure that anyone employed as he had been in matters touching the benefit of his Country should be defamed by those that are ignorant in the affairs he went about." The Death of Christopher Marlowe, 59|
It remains the highest public accommodation ever paid to an English intelligencer. And scholars now know why his cover was breached. Cecil and the Queen had public plans for Marlowe, he was to become the tutor to Lady Arbella Stuart. A position he held for "a space of three years and a half," as the Countess of Shrewsbury reminded Burghley on the 23 of September 1592. (Notes and Queries, September 1997)
The Queen's and Cecil's continued interest in Marlowe is proven both by the fact that she (or they) dispatched Sir William Danby, who was the Coroner of Her Majesty's Household, to preside over Marlowe's alleged inquest and by an extant intelligence dispatch to her, that was delivered on "Whitsun Eve" (2 June, or four days after the fact). This dispatch holds an official account of the circumstances at odds with the extant inquest. (The Reckoning, 312) Changes to this dispatch, evidently in Cecil's hand, sanitized it and stipulated that Marlowe survived his wounds by several days, whereas the official inquest states he died "then & there instantly died." (TDCM,33) The two official reports cannot both be correct, but both could easily be wrong, as Marlovians suggest.
The fact that Marlowe's Edward II ,Hamlet and Midsummer Night's Dream are all three oblique studies of James VI and are known to contain diplomatic intelligence about James and Scotland, along with the now fairly well established fact that Marlowe was about to be dispatched to the Court of James VI on the issue of the so called "Spanish Blanks," contrive to suggest that he not only survived Deptford, but completed his mission to Scotland, as had been planned. For this important chapter of English diplomatic history, constantly overlooked by Stratfordian literary scholars, one should start with Professor Lawrence Normand's informative essay, " 'What passions call you these?': Edward II and James VI," in Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture (2000) For the presence of similar diplomatic materials in Hamlet and MND see Professor Lillian Winstanley's much earlier landmark study, Hamlet and the Scottish Succession. (1921) For Marlowe's selection as the Cecils agent to James VI, see Alan Haynes, The Gunpowder Plot. Haynes wrote "just before Marlowe's sudden death in May 1593 [Lord Burghley] may have been considering using him again. (26) Interestingly both Read and Nicholl concur with this suggestion. Marlowe was, as Kyd himself said, poised for Scotland and was persuading men of "quality", including Roydon and Wotton, to do likewise.
Which means they were dabbling in dynastic affairs that were set to effect the history of Occidental civilization until the end of the millennium. Read actually cites a letter written between the Cecils, father and son, on the 21 May 1593 or the day after Lord Burghley (William Cecil) unexpectedly released Marlowe from his deadly summons before the Privy Council. (The letter deals with this covert mission to Scotland, but, of course, does not name Marlowe in the clear.) It proves the third time Burghley had saved Marlowe's bacon. The first being at Cambridge and the second a year earlier when Marlowe was deported under the ruse of "counterfeiting" a Dutch shilling from Flushing. It was a capital offence, but Marlowe was quickly released by his master, Lord Burghley, suggesting the entire episode was an elaborate charade or machination, as Nicholl has now conceded it to have been. "I began this essay with a discussion of the Flushing episode...his suppose 'intent to go to the enemy' was actually an attempt to infiltrate Catholic exile circles in Brussels; and that this was the reason he escaped any punishment after his arrest and deportation by Sir Robert Sidney." (CMERC, 46) This thoughtful reversal by Nicholl proves not every scholar is incapable of adapting himself to new evidence. It reminds one of Sir E. K. Chamber's similar reversal as to the identity of "Mr. W. H." who Chambers came to suppose after a lifetime of thought, had been William Herbert. Herbert, I have suggested, was Marlowe's illicit son, just as the sonnets describe him to have been. Venus and Adonis, the Kentish set poem, which casts as his mother as Venus and cites his birth and pledges his future patronage of the poet in line, entered history on his 13th birthday, Herbert having been born on the 8/18 April 1580:
|"Oh thou clear god,
and patron of all light,
From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow
The beauteous influence that makes him bright,
There lives a son that sucked an earthly mother,
May lend thee light, as thou dost lend to other."
Venus cannot be addressing either the sun or Adonis, since the sun does not need to be lent light and Adonis shortly dies. So the address is cleverly sent off to the Poet, who will be lent light by the earthy son born on the 8/18 April 1593, but estranged from his natural father by Lord Henry Herbert. Is this not the sentiment of these two sonnets:
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my Sun one early morn did shine
With all-triumphant splendor on my brow,
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath masked him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth:
Suns of the world may stain, when heaven's sun staineth.
|Let me confess that we two must be
Although our undivided loves are one:
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in our lives a separable spite,
Which though it alter not love's sole effect,
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honor me,
Unless thou take that honor from thy name.
But do not so, I love thee in such sort,
As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
Stratfordians would rather postulate that the Poet had a homosexual relationship with young "W. H.", said the "only begetter" of the Sonnets and to whom the First Folio was dedicated, rather than see him as his father. Though some have conceded the point, which I have maintained is not only made perfectly obvious in the Sonnets, but is the only viable explanation, since no homosexual lover warmly recalls their young lover's mother or urges him to wed, as we see him doing here:
|Thou art thy mother's glass, and
she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime,
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live remembered not to be,
Die single, and thine Image dies with thee.
Surely these are the normal sentiments of a natural father estranged through illegitimacy from his customary contact with his offspring. Shakespeare, of course, could not have known Mary Sidney Herbert during "the lovely April of her prime," but scholars know Marlowe could and did. Not only do they appear to overlap in Canterbury during the year of Herbert's conception, 12 years later Marlowe will dedicate amorous Latin love poems to her, which he will attribute to his old friend Thomas Watson, who had been his mentor at Cambridge and later saved his life in the now famous Bradley duel in Hogs Lane in 1589. Indeed Watson is, almost certain, recalled in a long ignored acrostic in sonnet 76:
Why is my verse so barren of new pride?
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the Sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.
"And" has a sound value of "n" as does "know" (~"O, no, sweet love" and the acrostic is begun with two lines beginning with "W" and "T," it being something a rule in these matters that the letters may be manipulated to read in either direction," forwards and backwards amgramistically" as Marlowe put it in Dr Faustus. So reading those two initial lines as "To TW" would be permissible. There is no know relationship between the actor William Shakespeare and Thomas Watson and no reason why he should have been called "Watson's heyre." Unless of course Elizabethans were better at spotting acrostics than are Stratfordians. The quote is from Polimanteia first published in 1595 or at the same time the Sonnets are supposed to have been written and circulating, according to Francis Meres, in manuscript among Shakespeare's "private friends," evidently Cambridge men like Meres.
Returning to Lord Burghley, scholars now know that the scene of Marlowe's alleged death was a Burghley safe-house in Deptford, Strand, which was, according to Tucker Brooke, "a common port of departure for Scotland." (The Life of Christopher Marlowe, 71) Brooke was among the first to suggest that Marlowe had relatives in Deptford (70) a suspicion which has become nearly a certainty with the discovery of Anthony Marlowe's connection to the Muscovy Company and, thus to Tamburlaine. (CMERC, Robert Wilson's "Vissible Bullets: Tamburlaine the Great and Ivan the Terrible," 51-69) In addition to this important diplomatic background, my own discovery of Nicholas Faunt, Marlowe's precursor, government analog and Canterbury friend, who was in Dover on the night of 30 May 1593. Faunt, whose father taught Marlowe to sing, was preparing to send English agents to Calais to meet with Anthony Standen, Elizabeth's and Cecil's agent. Standen was then returning from Spain. Since Marlowe mission to Scotland involved Spanish affairs, he would have required first hand intelligence to complete his mission, intelligence that could only have come directly from Standen. Along with it would have been important information about the missing 200,000 Spanish Crows headed for Scotland, which Haynes mentions in his earlier study Invisible Power: The Elizabethan Secret Service. (96)
All this diplomatic background, severs to complete our picture. Faunt's and Standen's dispatches are extant in the Bacon Papers in the Lambeth Palace Library, with Standen writing on the 3 of June that Faunt's agent(s) had arrived safely. Scot's biography of James confirms that his hold over Scotland was solidified by English agent(s) in the year following Marlowe's alleged death, 1594, the same year that Prince Henry was born.
Shakespeare, we should all recall, stopped writing with the death of Prince Henry, a death his mother, Queen Anne, and Lord Coke, attributed to James I, who was the only Scottish king to die a natural death in more than a century. (The Overbury Affair, .. ) MND remains an oblique look at the consolidation of James' power, while ostensively, it was of Theseus' reign and the consolidation of his powers. (A nice touch.) Indeed scholars including Harrison, have long conceded that the subplot of Dream ,which cumulated in Bottom's speech during the festival, is lifted from the baptismal celebrations held in far away Scotland for Prince Henry in mid summer 1594. (Complete Works) Harrison assumes Shakespeare knew of this from a contemporary report, which he fails to footnote, but it is even more likely that he knew of it first hand, as Winstanley and others have argued. In summary, the diplomatic and literary background proves that Marlowe was headed for Scotland in 1593 and that his works team with diplomatic intelligence about James VI and Scotland, particularly, Edward II. This same stream of intelligence, then quite secret, is to be found in Hamlet and in Midsummer Night's Dream, suggesting the author of both visited Scotland and knew James VI. No one can explain how the actor could have managed this, but it is fairly clear how Marlowe might have.
This behind the scenes connection is strengthened when notice is taken of the registration dates for these three important works. Edward II entered history on the same day its action opens on, thus memorializing the death of Edward I and the ascension of Edward II, and, I would argue, proving authorial intention to do so. MND, which entered history on 8 October 1600, entered on the same day that North claims the Greeks set aside to mark the foundation of their Republic, the day they honored Theseus' return on, and the only date cited by North in his translation of Pultarch's Lives, the known source of Dream. It's section had to be intentional. Hamlet, the record shows, entered history on St James' day (26th of July) in 1602. As an infant, James VI had been crowned on the 27 of July 1567, in Scotland, and would be crowned on the 25th of July the following year (1603), as King of England and Scotland, all the same week days. Proof James and his Master of Ceremonies, the mysterious Sir Lewis Lewknor, could follow the succession of important dates on a calendar. And equal proof that Stratfordians cannot.
Indeed Marlowe's survival is alluded to both in canonical works of Shakespeare, namely Henry IV, Measure for Measure, As You Like It and Twelfth Night, and in period works now residing outside Shakespeare's canon, as evidenced by the remarkable allusions in The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth and The Shoemaker's Holiday. The former is a juvenile Kentish version of the mature Henriad, which was taken over scene for scene by "Shakespeare," and is built upon Marlovian domesticity for its sub plots. Ule and I have established it as the work of a adolescent, based on its absence of sexual humor and depressed vocabulary. It refers not only to the town "Deptford, Kent," where Marlowe was allegedly slain on the 30th of May 1593, but to that same day as well. It achieved this by making its first appearance in May of 1594 and then reading "May last" as the erroneous date of the infamous Gads Hill robbery, which actually took place late in June and not on the 20 or 30 "of May last" as the court clerk is made to say. Earlier the action, which contrives to have the prince refer to his "spy" of "our booties," or cobbler spy, as Marlowe was, then contrives to have him condemned to death, freed outside of the court, resurface alive in the home of John Cobbler (Marlowe's father having been John, the cobbler of Canterbury) and then sent off to France on a mission for his Prince. Or the precise circumstances surrounding Marlowe. Shakespeare incorporates these allusions into 2 Henry IV, and likewise contrives to mention the precise day, i.e., "upon Wednesday in Wheeson week," (2H4, II.1.96-96) as the time Falstaff was bashed in the head and left for dead. Marlowe's alleged death had fallen on Wit's Wednesday, the same day. Indeed it is this day Falstaff has in mind when he faked his death during the battle of Shrewsbury, asking if "he who died a Wednesday" had any honor? In Twelfth Night, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is also bashed in the head and left for dead. He is know to be based on Cambridge's famous scholar, Sir John Cheek. Claudio, in Measure for Measure, is saved from an unjust execution by the substitution of a fresh cadaver. So the case is quite clear that period writers strongly signaled their audiences of Marlowe's survival, particularly Shakespeare. And, worse, for Stratfordians, that he contrived to do so, in Henry IV, even more methodically than his sources, converting the Deptford date "20/30 May last past" given in the clear in Famous Victories, to "upon Wednesday in Wheeson week". This clever conversion proves, I submit, beyond any doubt that "Shakespeare" was aware of these allusions to Marlowe, to Deptford, Kent and to Marlowe's escape and flight to France. The conversion proves he continued it intentionally, but cloaked it, evidently fearing it would be too obvious if left as an actual day.
There was another reason why Marlowe was thought to have been the author of Richard II, namely his likely authorship of the so called Woodstock, ms., which is actually Part One of Richard II and has long been called that by an earlier and more knowledgeable generation of scholars. I need not argue the case here, since I have done so elsewhere, but assuming that many then believed Marlowe the author of Part One of Richard II, (Woodstock, ms.) a proposition that can and has been proven, his alleged authorship of Part Two seems more reasonable. Certainly more likely. The players had labeled it "so old & so long out of use" that "they would should have small on no Company" when it was ordered played by Essex's men. (Short Life, 175) Most scholars suggest it dates to c. 1594 or just a year after Marlowe's alleged demise. They could easily be off a year, which would have given Marlowe time to have written the bulk of it himself. It is true Shakespeare's name appeared on a later title page (Q3, 1598) but this is the whole point. No one associated with the Queen, or with Essex, seems to have thought the player was the author. As this is the only reasonable explanation for Augustine Phillips and not William Shakespeare being called to answer questions in this matter. If Shakespeare had simply been absent, say in Stratford, the long arm of the law would certainly have fetched him back to London for an issue of this magnitude.
Bottom line: Hamlet evidences that Shakespeare and his audience understood there was an authorship question. All were asking themselves why hadn't the finger pointed at the actor when Richard II was used to foment the Essex Rebellion? Shakespeare suggests that the only solution would have been for the actor and the poet to have gone to cuffs over the issue. Rather than do this, the troop was forced to travel. No where does Hamlet suggest that the troop contained the Poet. The Queen and her junta did not call him in for interrogation during the aftermath of the coup and her remarks suggest they didn't because they believed Marlowe was the author of Richard II. Shakespeare too contrives to suggest Marlowe the author by Hamlet's sustained allusions to him. Much of this seems backed up by the title page of Hamlet (Q1) which recalls this period of travel and by other historical accounts of the period signaling, as Shakespeare does, that the Children's Troop replaced the great tragedians of the city in their own theater, which is the meaning of Rosencrantz's line, "Aye, that they do, my lord, Hercules and his load too." According to Harrison the Globe Playhouse was adorned with a marquee of Hercules with the globe or Earth on his shoulders. Thus the meaning of this line was that the Children's Troop was holding forth on that stage. The stage formerly occupied by the great tragedians of the city, Shakespeare's troop. The text itself specifically alludes to the "humor of children," clear proof the original version of Hamlet must have included similar language concerning the Children's Troop, language that is now found only in the First Folio. Theories to the contrary are ignoring the printed record.
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