Sh, Earl, Jesuit


Oxquarry Books


Acknowledgments Introduction








Bibliography  Index   


  John Klause  




Biographical Heresy


Much of the writing about Shakespeare is protective, to save him from superfluous, tendentious, inane, or simply “old-fashioned” commentary. No matter that scholarly magistrates, if they may be compared to the different rulers of state in Measure for Measure, are as willing to play the overly precise Angelo as to act the moderately tolerant Escalus or the radically lenient Duke; analytical rigor may do Shakespeare, as Othello did the state, “some service.” [1]

In the view of many, one of the most serious crimes against the bard is biographical speculation. Samuel Schoenbaum, himself a biographer of Shakespeare (though a self-consciously agnostic one), wrote a history of attempts through the centuries to discover something of the life and mind of the playwright. [2] To hardly anyone’s surprise, the historian found in most of the “Lives” of Shakespeare only drams of truth for every pound of gratuitous or erroneous opinion. We can appreciate Schoenbaum’s corrections of the biographical record and his rebukes of overzealous and under informed hypothesizers when the reproaches seem legitimate. We can also wonder whether flagrant abuses of biography should warrant attempts to discourage its practice by making it the object of professional scorn. The appetite for knowledge about Shakespeare “the man” can no more be suppressed by “strict . . . and most biting laws” than libidinous desires were quenched by the statutes of Measure for Measure’s Vienna. Biographers continue to write and be read. Like his predecessors, Park Honan, in Shakespeare: A Life,  not only searches Shakespeare’s milieu for information that might help to explain his subject’s developing mentality, he moves in and out of Shakespeare’s texts to retrieve biographical evidence and to deposit contributions made by the “life” to criticism. Katherine Duncan-Jones, another assiduous scholar, sometimes takes “novelistic” liberties in fashioning her portrait of “Ungentle Shakespeare.” [3] Only recently a biographer of “Will in the World,” Stephen Greenblatt has for some time desired and even dared in some of his writing “to speak with the dead.”[4] Richard Wilson, showing the most temerity among critics in trying to penetrate the walls that surround Shakespeare’s well-defended privacy in matters of religious faith, has attempted to uncover a “Secret Shakespeare,” Catholic in upbringing and sympathies but too much of a “politique” to rest in straightforward allegiances.[5]  In such projects, methods and conclusions will always be liable to complaint;[6] but there is something brave in the foolish attempt to comprehend the life of another in the imperfect evidence of opaque remains, and something sadly timid in the principled refusal to condone any daring speculation about the secrets of an extraordinary mind. Risks may lead to discoveries when caution leaves us reconciled to ignorance.

There are reasons why an anonymous William Shakespeare may seem preferable to one who can be known. Because a dead and absent author cannot “tyrannize” over a text, its meanings can become open and pliable, even tantalizingly evasive in the postmodern way. Anonymity blocks resort to “personal heresy” or “intentional fallacy” in literary criticism, practices which seem to elevate the author above his creation as an object of concern and can lead to critical propositions that from many perspectives are unacceptable. To dwell on an author’s personal history or perceived intention might unduly delimit the implications of a work or align it with an unacceptable ideology. To suggest that a writer’s reliance on personal “experience” is essential to his creations can be an insult to his imaginative genius. These are longstanding assumptions, but this book is not a philosophical study in which they must be challenged. It will proceed against their grain, but only according to the axiom that more truth is preferable to less, and in the belief that an impure method, by which Shakespeare is sought beyond and within his writing, may yield results that are conspicuously valuable. To those who assume that an author is a mere “construct,” or “site,” or “function,” such an undertaking can of course mean little; but for those more flexible in their critical convictions it may provoke and help to satisfy a reasonable curiosity.

In a recent essay in defense of responsible biographical speculation about Shakespeare, Richard P. Wheeler notes a burgeoning sense among critics that the “author” might be allowed “back into interpretation” after a long period in which investigation of Shakespeare’s life has been respectable as a project off to itself but in which “efforts to connect [the] life with the work” have not seemed “legitimate.” Wheeler follows others in asking why, after all the strenuous and imaginative attempts to read Shakespeare in the light of “history,” biographical information should be the only kind of history that is not recognized as available to the interpreter. He proceeds to suggest how Shakespeare’s reaction to his son Hamnet’s death might have “had effects on the plays he wrote in its aftermath.” Making use of psychological conjecture, he renounces other “traditional” types of biographical interpretation: the kind that would identify the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, or link “Shakespearean mood shifts to the fortunes of the Earl of Essex,” or establish Shakespeare “as a firm Protestant or resolute Catholic.”[7] Wheeler’s admirable tolerance thus has its limits, and he fails to say why. Does it not matter who the Dark Lady was (if she was), or is it just impossible to know? Shakespeare’s imagined reaction to “Essex” is a psychological one; what makes it different in the critic’s point of view from the response to Hamnet Shakespeare? Only the magnitude of speculation, or the lack of evidence about a relationship between the earl and the playwright?  Is Shakespeare so obviously neither Protestant nor Catholic that questions about his religious views need not be asked? Or is his belief so deliberately private that it leaves no mark on his writing and can never be determined? These last questions are of the kind that has brought this book into being, and can lead one to ask, might traditional biographical inquiry into Shakespeare’s acquaintances and his faith be more worthy of the contemporary critic’s respect if more factual evidence were developed upon which to base conjecture?

It is the premise of this study that such evidence can be produced, leading to fresh speculation about Shakespeare’s personal connections and his attitudes toward religion and religious politics. Indeed, for Shakespeare religion was not merely abstract dogma but a set of personal conditions and transactions. To understand, however imperfectly, what he believed we must consider whom he knew (whether proximately or remotely), how his belief was affected through relationships, and why he came to express it as reticently and covertly as, one may claim, he did in his poems and plays.

To some extent E. A. J. Honigmann has taken this approach in his attempt to shed light on Shakespeare’s “lost years,” the extended period  of his absence from the historical record after the birth of his twin son and daughter (1585) and before Robert Greene’s disparaging reference to the newly successful playwright as an “upstart crow” (1592). Building on earlier research and theories, Honigmann ascribes to the young Shakespeare a Catholicism by association. Shakespeare was reared in a Catholic family. He may have known in Stratford the Catholic schoolmaster John Cottam, brother of an executed Jesuit priest. Shortly before the execution, Cottam left Stratford for the safer remoteness of Lancashire, where, not by coincidence, “William Shakeshafte” appeared in the employment of Cottam’s neighbors, Catholic gentry who kept actors and perhaps needed a reliably Catholic tutor in their household. Honigmann then draws for Shakespeare a trail from this locale to Lord Strange’s Lancashire estate and his entourage of actors, to the world of the professional theater in London, where early works (especially King John, to which Honigmann assigns a date of about 1590) reveal that the playwright has abjured the Catholicism of his youth.[8] The evidence and the arguments are intriguing, and recent biographers of Shakespeare have with varying degrees of credence felt compelled to take them into account. It should be noted, however, that Honigmann attributes to Shakespeare a Catholicism without content, a mere badge of identification that seems to change shape when the writer of history plays shows signs of anti-clericalism and unhappiness with ultramontane papal politics. In The Lost Years, little recognition is given to the fact that Elizabethan Catholicism was hardly monolithic, and that it managed to survive only in an atmosphere of conflict, confusion, dissimulation, and doubt, so that signs of religious allegiance were often uncertain. If Shakespeare were in the early 1590’s entirely responsible for the three parts of Henry VI (a matter still in dispute among scholars), would his chauvinistic treatment of Joan of Arc, his somewhat calumnious depiction of the Cardinal of Winchester, his clinically objective presentation of priests involved in conjuring, or his uncovering of Sander Simpcox’s false miracle reveal anything significant about the substance of a faith he may or may not have possessed?  An Erasmian Shakespeare might have had Catholic sympathies of some kind and could have harbored in himself a whole range of critical, skeptical, and religious principles.[9] Honigmann offers little to suggest what effect Catholic “minds” and personalities may have had on Shakespeare’s young consciousness, or to indicate that a more mature Shakespeare may have had significant relationships with Catholics and Catholic thought long after the time of his supposed disaffection.

Richard Wilson in his recent attempt to uncover Shakespeare’s religious “secrets,” has allowed himself to range freely across Shakespeare’s life and professional career, assuming that Honigmann is correct about the “Lancashire connection,” magnifying its significance, and taking it as the starting point for adventurous and often extravagant conjectures about his subject’s relationship to the complex phenomenon that was Counter-Reformation Catholicism. Wilson places the young Shakespeare under the tutelage of the Jesuit “captain” Edmund Campion at the Lancashire Hoghton estate, and the older dramatist in the orbit of the politique Catholic earls of Northampton and Suffolk at the court of King James. The personal move from religious militancy to a belief in religious accommodation and détente signaled by this change of masters was, Wilson alleges, a logical one, initially made not long after Campion’s capture and execution and confirmed by the alarming spectacle of tragedies precipitated and suffered by Shakespeare’s family and acquaintances over many years. Wilson’s “secret Shakespeare” was an anonymous author by choice and by historical conditioning, retaining (as revealed in his works) an attachment to apolitical Catholic culture and belief, appalled by a persecuting state-church, but resistant to Catholic political “resistance” that he associated with the “fanatical” Jesuits whose claims on him could not finally take hold of his Montaignean spirit. Shakespeare’s “silence,” of which Wilson professes to speak, is not taciturnity but evasion, that makes the author’s purposes known through a complex set of codes readily apprehended by those whose faith and experience fitted them for understanding.

Perhaps the glass through which Shakespeare’s secrets may be seen is too dark to justify such enthusiastic certainty about them. Wilson is right, however, to strain his eyes to see, to turn attention to facts ignored or misinterpreted, even if we suspect that he produces in turn some mirages of his own. In order to learn more about Shakespeare’s disposition toward Catholicism, we must indeed look in places other than Lancashire, at characters other than devout country squires, and--alert to new possibilities of meaning--at works that Shakespeare read as well as wrote. Focusing attention narrowly so that scholarship may take wing later only after being more sure of its ground, we must reconsider Shakespeare’s affiliation with the only patron that he ever publicly acknowledged: Henry Wriothesley, the third earl of Southampton; and we must examine in detail Shakespeare’s hidden preoccupation with the works and perhaps the person of a Jesuit: the poet, controversialist, and martyr, Robert Southwell.

The linkage of these three men, so different in their backgrounds and vocations, is not arbitrary. Whatever the exact nature of the relationship between Southampton and Shakespeare, and aside from what may or may not be inferred about it from the Sonnets, they may have known one another in ways that the superficial patron-client relationship rarely countenanced. The poet and playwright, it will be argued, spoke not only to his benefactor’s vanity and pleasure, but to his moral sense; spoke not as a preacher (which he lacked standing to do), but as someone who shared with him certain quandaries of conscience. Some of these were dilemmas posed by the Jesuit. Southwell was kin to Southampton and stood as a Catholic authority whom this scion of a most Catholic family could not ignore; Southwell was a more distant kinsman of Shakespeare, and the Catholic voice to which Shakespeare seemed to pay the most serious and sustained attention.[10] The voice was heeded; the prophet was not without honor in his own country. It was also resisted--though not with the simple anger and disdain of one who believed in the propaganda that reduced every Jesuit to a caricature. The purpose of this study is to provide evidence for all of these assertions and to unfold their implications.

Our procedure will be to search for what these three men may have shared--beyond the family ties that could have brought them into common if secret circles of association--and to consider how and why they may have become involved in surreptitious dialogue. The possibility of a conversation among them must be gauged from the brief but not unimportant biographical record that points to it, and a careful inspection of signs that Southwell occupied Shakespeare’s mind and imagination in a most remarkable way, providing him (sometimes in writings accessible only in manuscript) with language that would not only become a significant part of the poet and playwright’s literary achievement as such, but would communicate to Southampton premises and arguments of religious polemic to which the earl seems to have devoted serious reflection. We shall confine our attention to the crucial decade of, roughly, 1593-1604. The period begins just after the imprisoned Southwell had completed his oeuvre, and just before Southampton would come into his majority, precisely when Shakespeare sought patronage from the earl by dedicating to him Venus and Adonis. It ends with the composition of Measure for Measure, a work that speaks (as will be shown) through Southwell to Southampton as Henry Writohesley began a new life, a new “majority” in a sense, after being rescued by King James from the consequences of his participation in the Essex Rebellion. In this period, it will be proposed, Shakespeare wrote for his patron more than the narrative poems Venus and Lucrece, that were explicitly dedicated to him. Lucrece appeared in 1594, the very year in which Southampton came of age; but also published then was a quarto edition of Titus Andronicus, and also performed, The Comedy of Errors. These plays held a special interest for the earl in 1594. Their relevance to his concerns may be understood after a reading of Venus according to its subtext rooted in Southwell’s writings, and after a similar analysis of A Midsummer Night’s Dream--a play that if not written in 1594 alluded importantly to the marriage in that year of Southampton’s widowed mother to the court official Sir Thomas Heneage. At another point of crisis in Southampton’s life, he would have much to meditate upon in Hamlet, a play whose echoes of Southwell are in fact startling. And as Writohesely emerged from prison in 1603, his treason pardoned, Shakespeare offered him two plays, All’s Well that Ends Well and Measure for Measure, both written with reminiscences of Southwell, both nostalgic and forward-looking about the religious and political issues that Southwell had long ago raised and that, in radically changed circumstances, seemed just as significant as ever.

These are the book’s essential affirmations, but they are not all of the same type or force. In a study such as this, clarity about the hierarchy of conclusions should emerge neither as a gradual surprise nor in a sudden insight near the end. Lest the book at any point seem to promise too much or too little, some of its fundamental distinctions should now be emphasized. Southwell’s influence on Shakespeare will be argued for and offered as a fact. This fact as a critical given will open poems and plays to readings that must rely on interpretative reason to be persuasive. As a matter of history, this fact will lead to surmises that are less certain than itself, but probable in ways that a judiciously tolerant and enterprisingly curious mind can appreciate, concerning a connection (whether personal or in the realm of ideas, or both) among Shakespeare, the earl, and the Jesuit.




A Brief Discourse on Method


The claim that Shakespeare was deeply and widely familiar with the writings of Robert Southwell rests on evidence of extensive verbal and conceptual parallels found in the works of the two authors. Some critics have cautioned against a ready belief in the value of such correspondences, often finding their use no more than a species of “Fluellenism,” a malady of scholarship named after the character in Henry V who found a significant connection between Henry’s Monmouth and Alexander’s Macedon (and thus between the two warriors themselves) since there was a river in each territory and “salmons in both.” Because source study, as well as topical analysis to which it is sometimes wed, may be but are not inevitably liable to such travesty, it would be well to define, apart from the running arguments of this study, the character of different kinds of evidence that will be adduced; to indicate what the identification of parallels may be said to prove, or to make probable, or plausible; and to suggest how the procedures here relied on relate to the traditional practices of source study that may seem in some cases to be modified.

Most of the expressions that occur in the work of two authors require no explanation of their mutual presence. In Jonathan Swift’s Grand Academy of Lagado, the students could have produced such parallels in two separate frames of their infamous machine by randomly turning small dice-like blocks of wood that had on their surfaces collectively all the words of the native language. We know with certainty, however, why parts of Holinshed’s Chronicles and North’s Plutarch and Brooke’s Romeus and Juliet appear in Shakespeare’s plays: the evidence is overwhelming that the playwright read, remembered, and consciously took into account the content, form, and verbal texture of these texts, relying heavily on them for details of plot and character, appropriating their words even as he transformed their meaning. Yet it is much more difficult, and often impossible, to identify most of Shakespeare’s reading. Certain verses or phrases from the Bible, for example, he may have recalled from hearing rather than reading, or seen quoted or alluded to anywhere in a sea of writing. Apparently distinctive ideas, expressions, images, and tropes that can be found both in Shakespeare and in other writers before and of his time may be part of a common literary currency or derive from sources known by each author independently. Furthermore, like the recollections of most of us, Shakespeare’s are often unconscious. They appear in fragments, brought to his mind by a myriad of associations, or inexplicably. Units of evidence for his traces of memory can be quite small and scattered, unable to stand alone if they are to win conviction that they are remembered, requiring their linkage with a host of other units through a logic of convergence.

That such a logic based on fragments can compellingly demonstrate the “influence” of a text on Shakespeare may be illustrated by the example of King Lear’s obligation (as is now universally acknowledged) to Samuel Harsnett’s A Declaration of Egregious Popishe Impostures, a book heaping scorn on Catholic exorcisms that had been conducted in the mid-1580’s. In the most detailed comparison of the language of the two works, Kenneth Muir points out, following Lewis Theobald, that the names of the devils whom Edgar mentions--Flibbertigibbet, Frateretto, Hoppedance or Hobbididence, Smulkin, and  Modo or Mahu, and Obidicut--appear at various places in Harsnett (and, it might be added, have not been found together elsewhere). Beyond this conspicuous coincidence lies a large store of parallels in vocabulary and phrasing that make it certain that the echoes cannot be accidental.[11] Among the most striking of these are the following (in which the page numbers of the Declaration are given by Muir as in the original edition):
                         A Declaration                                                             Lear
            18:                                                                3.2.1-5:
            he will . . . blow downe steeples                     Blow . . .                
                                                                                    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
                                                                                Till you have drench’d our steeples . . .
            12:                                                                   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
            vauntcourier                                                  Vaunt-couriers [only instance in Ss]

            23:                                                                3.7.29:
            an old corkie woman                                     [Gloucester’s] corky [only instance in Ss] arms

            25:                                                                2.4.57:
            Hysterica passio                                           Hysterica passio [only instance in Ss]
            38:                                                                4.1.61-62:
            mop, mow                                                     mopping and mowing

            41-42:                                                           2.3.15-16:
            mortified . . . there were two needles              Strike into their numb’d and mortified arms
            thrust into her legge. . . and she wist it not       Pins, wooden pricks, nails

            having so many fiery needles in his skin at
            did thrust a pinne into her shoulder

            47:                                                                   3.6.78-79:
            Trayfords devill was a Centurion . . .                 You, sir, I entertain for one of my hundred
             and had a hundred under his charge                  4.4.6:
                                                                                   A century send forth

            52:                                                                   4.1.62-63:
            Sara Williams was furnished with all the            [a devil] who . . . possesses
            devils in hell, at a clap                                       chambermaids and waiting-women
                                                                                    1.4.294: at a clap [only instance in Ss of this

            54:                                                                   3.4.85-86:
            with his haire curled up . . . here comes             proud in heart and mind;  that curl’d my hair                                           up the spirit of pride                                         
            61:                                                                   1.4.177:
            to play bo-peepe                                              should play bo-peep [only instance in Ss]

            61-68:                                                              4.6.125-29:
            the bottomless pit of hell . . . unsavorie              Though women all above . . .
            smels . . . in a peculiar part of the body,             .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
            but onely in the wenches . . . lodging the            Beneath is all the fiends’: there’s hell . . . , 
            devil . . .  in the inferiour parts . . . scalded        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
                                                                                   There is the sulphurous pit . . . , scalding,
                                                                                    Stench . . . .

            77:                                                                   3.4.55, 3.6.37-38:
            pue-fellow                                                        pew . . . yoke-fellow . . . , / Bench by his                                                                                                                                 side
            97:                                                                   5.3.23:
            fire him out of his hold, as men smoake              fire us hence like foxes
            out a Foxe

            100:                                                                 2.4.11:
            neather-stockes                                                nether-stocks

            141:                                                                 3.4.93-94:
            his devils went out in the forme of those             hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness,
            creatures, that have neerest resemblance           dog in madness, lion in prey.
            unto those sinnes: . . . Pride . . . in the
            forme of a Peacocke; . . . Sloth in the
            likeness of an Asse; . . . Envy in the
            similitude of a Dog; . . . Gluttony in
            the forme of a Woolfe . . . .
            159:                                                                 3.4.67:
            made pendulous in the ayre                               in the pendulous air

            168:                                                                 3.4.143:
            Prince of darkness                                           The prince of darkness

            195:                                                                 3.6.29-31
            the said croaking in her belly . . . , they              The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice
            said it was the devill . . . , that spake with           of a nightingale. Hoppedance cries in Tom’s
            the voyce of a Toade                                        belly . . . Croak not, black angel
            225: Nightingale

            219:                                                                 3.4.54-55:
            having brought with him . . . a new                    laid knives under his pillow, and halters
            halter, and two blades of knives, did leave          in his pew
            the same upon the gallerie floare. . . .

What in this set of correspondences demonstrates that Shakespeare read Harsnett? It would be difficult to explain the large-scale identity and similarity of wording except on the assumption that one author was familiar with the work of the other; and it must be inferred that Shakespeare was influenced by Harsnett, and not the clergyman (who was in fact quite familiar with the theater and licensed plays for the press) by the playwright, given the publication date of the Declaration (1603), some time before Lear is generally thought to have been written, and more especially given the fact that Harsnett was given his material by “history,”  the narrative of which determined much of his language. The fellow with his hair “curled,” the “possessed” chambermaids, the pins in the arm, the “croaking” devils lodged in the “inferior parts” all predated by quite a while Shakespeare’s references to them. Harsnett knew of them through government records to which Shakespeare could hardly have had access.

The proof of influence is multifaceted. We look immediately at the unusual names of the devils in King Lear, and, since we know of no other source extant in Shakespeare’s time (or ours) that contains them all, we may be reasonably confident that Shakespeare borrowed them from A Declaration. A lost and never published work, the Elizabethan Catholic Miracle Book (a treatise on exorcism often referred to and quoted by Harsnett) was said by an exorcized young woman, in a court interview, to have contained them; but she may have invented them herself or recalled some names from a folklorish tradition.[12] At any rate, Harsnett’s prose contains too much that is idiosyncratic to his own argument and that appears in Lear to render doubtful Shakespeare’s reliance on the book. Proof, then, actually rests not on a single set of homogeneous parallels (such as a collection of names that might have once existed elsewhere) or on additional verbal echoes taken individually, or on a congruence of subject matter, but on the probability, growing  through convergence unto a certainty with the increase of samples, that the co-presence of all such facts could not be explained by chance or by a common debt to another exemplar.

Scholars looking for sources are understandably concerned about the “quality” of the parallels that they seek; and the “best” quality is often taken to lie in identity, or near-identity, of words or phrases that can be found in contexts common to an original text and a derived one. The most readily persuasive evidence of direct influence is parallelism of thought coupled with or couched in the iteration of rare or unusual words, expressions “striking” in themselves, which are sufficiently proximate in the evocative and the evoked texts to suggest that they might easily have been held in and transported by memory. Once the fact of influence is demonstrated by such probative parallels, a study of sources may then provide other coincident wording in the texts to illustrate the extent of borrowing, on the assumption that one recalls much more than what can be proved to be remembered, and that once a text is known to have been recollected, parallels less than the “best” may become “better,” more plausible as indicators of memory.[13]

Applying these principles to the synoptic table from Shakespeare and Harsnett presented above, we may wish to qualify them in some ways. In an argument that relies on convergence of probabilities,[14] it is not clear that rare or unusual words (though clearly significant) always constitute better evidence than less exotic ones. In their context, the “pins” stuck into the “mortified” limbs of the “possessed” servants are as important in establishing influence as “Vaunt-couriers,” “corky,” or “Hysterica passio.” By itself, the phrase “that curl’d my hair” cannot strictly speaking be said to echo “with his haire curled up”; but placed in a line of more certain borrowings, and with the curled hair associated (perhaps proverbially) in both texts with “pride,” the words truly function as part of a proof of recollection and not merely as an illustration of possible debt. It may be somewhat more likely that a reference to a proud man’s curled up hair would occur by chance in conjunction with “Frateretto” than would “play bo-peepe”; but the odds against chance are at least marginally greater in the parallel appearance of curled hair, playing bo-peepe, and Frateretto, along with vaunt-couriers, a corky body, and Hysterica passio, than if curled hair were absent from the list. The best evidence of influence in this case is the conjunction of elements, common and uncommon expressions together, and not in the lexical rarity of each taken singly. Similarly, synonyms, if the larger environment is right, may have almost or as much evidentiary force as words that are identical: “hell . . . unsavorie smells . . . in the inferiour parts” being echoed in “Beneath is . . . hell . . . , Stench”; and this force may reside in common or proverbial expressions (like “the prince of darkness,” referring to a devil whom Edgar calls “a gentleman” for reasons suggested by Harsnett).[15] Often, parallelism in rhetorical form (again, as part of a convergence of signs) suggests influence even when verbal correspondence is not exact (cf. A Declaration, 141 and Lear 3.4.93-94).

The example of Harsnett’s and Shakespeare’s texts suggests that the principle of proximity also needs to be flexibly interpreted. The playwright’s recollections of his source were clearly sporadic, and sometimes ranged over several pages for piecemeal adoption of expressions that were to be consolidated in a single passage of his own: eight pages of A Declaration furnish matter for Lear’s 4.6.125-29; the nightingale of 3.6.30 appears in Harsnett thirty pages after mention of the toadlike “croaking in the belly” that inspired Edgar’s linking of the two creatures (cf. A Declaration, 195, 225 and Lear 3.6.29-31). On the other hand, a single sentence in Harsnett (52) offers material for passages in the play as far apart as Acts One and Four (4.1.62-63; 1.4.294). Indeed, looking farther afield than Harsnett, we can see that in a profession that placed a premium on memory, it is not unusual to find a playwright combining fragments from different works of another author into a single passage of his own. In Edward II, for example, Marlowe recalled lines from two of Shakespeare’s plays--

I see no reason why a king of years
Should be to be protected like a child
                                                                                                (2 Henry VI 2.3.28-29)
Whom like a schoolboy you may overawe
                                                                                                (1 Henry VI 1.1.36);


and he melded them into a sentence of his own:


As though your highness were a schoolboy still,
And must be awed and governed like a child.

                                                                                                (Edward II 2.2.30-31)[16]

Returning to Shakespeare’s borrowing, we discern a complex web of reminiscences contributing to Edgar’s words in Lear 3.6: “Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness” (6-7). As F. E. Budd has shown, Nero the “angler” derives from Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale via Suetonius. The rest of the line stems from Harsnett, who on the same page (49) names Frateretto as a devil and describes a “Fidler” (like Nero, of course) leading the “musicke” in hell, which is notorious for its “stygian lake” (45).[17]

Such tricks has strong memory (to paraphrase Duke Theseus), that the fact of it must be demonstrated with scrupulous care, while paradoxically possibilities that might seem far-fetched must be left open--like the lines of affiliation that Shakespeare might have simultaneously with Geoffrey Chaucer and Samuel Harsnett. The primary work of source study is to draw connections that cannot be traced more plausibly in any other way, however implausible they may seem initially, and to extend them if possible to the point that they cannot reasonably be educed except by assuming recollection. An instance of how this process might work is furnished by a poem of Robert Southwell, which would never be considered as a source for anything in Shakespeare unless we are willing to admit into evidence the scantest of parallels, that in their accumulation become less and less easy to dismiss.

A number of considerations suggest themselves about Southwell’s “Scorne not the least” and the manner and extent of its presence in Shakespeare’s work:


            Where wards are weake, and foes encountring strong:
            Where mightier doe assault, then doe defend:
            The feebler part puts up enforced wrong,
            And silent sees, the speech could not amend.
            Yet higher powers must thinke, though they repine,
            When sunne is set: the little starres will shine.
            While Pike doth range, the silly Tench doth flie
            And crouch in privie creekes, with smaller fish:
            Yet Pikes are caught when little fish goe bie:
            These, fleet aflote; while those, doe fill the dish.
            There is a time even for the worme to creepe:
            And sucke the dew while all her foes doe sleepe.
            The Marlyne cannot ever sore on high,
            Nor greedie greyhound still pursue the chase:
            The tender Larke will find a time to flie,
            And fearefull Hare to runne a quiet race.
            He that high growth on Ceders did bestow:
            Gave also lowly mushrumpes leave to grow.
            In Hamans pompe poore Mardocheus wept;
            Yet God did turne his fate upon his foe.
            The Lazar pinde, while DIVES feast was kept,
            Yet he, to heaven; to hell, did Dives goe.
            We trample grasse, and prize the flowers of May:
            Yet grasse is greene when flowers doe fade away.[18]


At first reading, there seems nothing in this blithely didactic verse to remind us of Shakespeare, except perhaps its moralistic debt to natural history, the euphuistic version of which Falstaff parodies in 1 Henry IV (“though the camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears” [2.4.400-402]). It is curious, however, that all of the animals named in the poem appear in some way or another in the second Henriad: the pike (2H4 3.2.331) and the tench (1H4 2.1.15-16) are mentioned only there in all of Shakespeare’s works; the merlin (a falcon or pigeon hawk) has its parallels in the name of the Arthurian magician of 1H4 (3.1.148) and the “hawk” of H5 (3.7.15); the greyhound finds its way into three of the plays (1H4 1.3.252; 2H4 2.4.98; H5 3.1.31); the lark (H5 3.7.32), the hare (1H4 1.2.77; 1.3.198; 2.4.437), and the generic worm and fish (1H4 5.4.87; 2H4 4.5.116; H5 2.4.86; and 1H4 3.1.147; 3.3.127) are referred to as well. If this menagerie by itself makes no special claims on our attention, its combination, both in the poem and in the drama, with the biblical characters of Lazarus and Dives (Luke 16:19-31) is indeed noteworthy. Only in the two parts of Henry IV does Shakespeare make explicit reference to the parable of the beggar and the rich man. In the first play Falstaff recalls it twice--when contemplating Bardolph’s flaming nose: “I never see thy face but I think upon hell-fire and Dives that liv’d in purple” (3.3.31-2); and when describing the sorry group of conscripts that he will lead to war: “slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth, where the glutton’s dogs lick’d his sores” (4.2.25-6). In the second, Falstaff curses an uncooperative merchant: “Let him be damn’d like the glutton! Pray God his tongue be hotter” (1.2.34-5). In Henry V, “Arthur’s bosom” (2.3.9-10) is perhaps recalled from “Abraham’s bosom” as mentioned in the parable. The odds that two writers would independently bring the pike, the tench, the greyhound, and their fellows together with Lazarus and Dives must be extremely small. 
A search of the Chadwyck-Healey data bases Literature Online and Early English Books Online shows that the animals and the characters appear together only in “Scorne not the least” and in Shakespeare’s plays.

Odds become smaller still when we note other traces of the poem elsewhere in Shakespeare’s works. The verb “puts up” (3), which Southwell uses without a preposition to mean “endures” or “tolerates,” was of recent vintage (the OED’s first citation is from 1573); it appears in Titus (1.1.433) and in Othello (4.2.179). “Enforced wrong” (3) is found in the canon only in The Merchant of Venice (5.1.240), and “higher powers” (5) only in The Winter’s Tale (3.2.202). In the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew, Christopher Sly is offered “hawks” that will “soar” above the “lark,” as well as “greyhounds” (Ind.2.43-47), creatures whom Southwell links together (13-15). We remember the “little stars” (6) from Romeo and Juliet (3.2.22), but they are in Lucrece as well (1008, 1525), the first time soon after an implicit (and anachronistic) allusion to Lazarus and Dives: “Let him have time a beggar’s orts to crave, / And time to see one that by alms doth live / Disdain to him disdained scraps to give” (985-7). In Julius Caesar, Brutus is said to “suck up the humors of the dank morning,” walking about in matutinal darkness before the rest of Rome is awake (2.1.262); it is also during the night that Southwell’s worm finds a time to “sucke the dewe while all her foes doe sleepe” (12). Lucrece includes “the little worms that creep” (1248), reminiscent of Southwell’s “even for the worme to creepe” (11), and the “cedar” (664), proverbial for its loftiness, and comparable to the “high . . . Ceders” of “Scorne not the least” (17). The “cedar tops” of Venus and Adonis (858) are found in the forest with “the gentle lark” (853), cousin to Southwell’s “tender Larke” (15), and with “the timorous flying hare” (674), who runs like Southwell’s “fearefull Hare” (16). Venus flies like a “falcon” (1027; compare “The Marlyne” [13]), so that “the grass stoops not, she treads on it so light” (1028; compare Southwell’s “We trample grasse” without damaging it [23-24]).  Even as late a work as The Tempest (5.1.48, 39) locates the “pine and cedar” near “mushrumps” (which grow nowhere else in Shakespeare); “Scorne not the least” contrasts its cedars with “lowly mushrumpes” (18) not long before observing that Lazarus “pinde” (21).

Finally, and more complicatedly, an adventurous scholar may suspect that in Southwell’s reference to the biblical story of Esther lies a hint for a famous line in King Lear. The classically educated Jesuit seems to have had more than Scripture in mind when he wrote:


            In Hamans pompe poore Mardocheus wept;
            Yet God did turne his fate upon his foe.


The word “pompe” is an English equivalent of the Latin “apparatus,” which appears in Horace’s famous Ode, “Persicos odi, puer, apparatus” (“I detest, my boy, the pomp of Persia”; 1.38). The biblical tale is of course set in Persia, and involves a stunning reversal of fortune for the Jew Mordecai. He had become, through his niece Queen Esther, a prosperous favorite of King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes), but was betrayed by his jealous fellow courtier Haman, who attempted to have Mordecai hanged. Mordecai then stripped himself of his Persian garments, dressed himself in sackcloth, refused to accept new raiment, and exiled himself from the King’s palace. When Esther heard of her uncle’s plight, she cunningly rescued him in a way that, as Southwell puts it, turned “his fate upon his foe,” Haman being hanged upon the very gibbet he had prepared for Mordecai. If, as seems likely, Southwell’s reading of Scripture brought the poetry of Horace to his mind through the “Persian connection,” we might imagine that Shakespeare had a similar experience when he made Lear speak to Edgar, “I do not like the fashion of your garments. You will say they are Persian, but let them be chang’d” (3.6.80-81). There is an allusion here to the Horatian ode, but in a context that reaches beyond that single classical text. Edgar’s nakedness covered by a blanket rather than sackcloth (this “garb” is Persian only in the mad imagination of the King and not a feature of Leonatus in Shakespeare’s source, the Arcadia); his treacherous treatment by his brother Edmund, who wishes him killed and falsely accuses him of crime; the turning, as Southwell puts it, of Edgar’s fate upon the liar who had sought to inflict it--these aspects of Edgar’s case have precedents in the Book of Esther, to which Southwell had subtly added a hint of Horatian poetry before Shakespeare did something of the same by making the allusion to Horace more conspicuous but relying to some extent on the biblical resonance.

All of these parallels, atomistic in themselves, in the aggregate require explanation. While they are not as obviously indicative of influence as the morsels of Harsnett’s book that can be collected from King Lear, their character and quantity indicate that they are unlikely to be coincidental. They do not prove (like passages in Holinshed or Plutarch) that an author relied straightforwardly on a consciously chosen “source.” They do, however, suggest an effect of some kind by one writer on another, and we must ask how it might have come to be. Might both poets have drawn from a common source? This is as unlikely as that they created the common features by sheer accident. No such source is known. And what is concentrated in Southwell (whose poem antedates all of Shakespeare’s works cited above) is dispersed in Shakespeare, suggesting that the latter absorbed the former’s work in such a way that it became perennially and subconsciously accessible to him. The association in the playwright’s mind, for example, of Falstaff with the biblical “glutton” (an irony to which the character himself is oblivious), could have reminded Shakespeare of a poem in which Dives figured, so that the memory of it would summon up as well, at any time, the poem’s collateral images from natural history that appear in the “Falstaff” plays written over a period of two to three years. The other, more desultory parallels, appearing in works widely separated in time, can be explained (if we assume influence) only by appeal to the mysteries of human memory, or of Shakespeare’s in particular, which as the scholarship of ages has shown was as astonishingly retentive as his imagination was creative. Such a rationale may be elementary, but it will not by the end of this study seem naive. If other tests, more like Muir’s, can establish that Shakespeare was familiar with other poems of Southwell, would not the conclusion that Shakespeare knew and made use of this one, on the basis of the unusual evidence just presented, seem inescapable?

Another unconventional kind of parallelism that will be made use of in this study contains a multitude of “ordinary” words (alongside less common vocabulary) from a Southwellian text. Although these are dispersed over a number of pages in the “source,” they can be joined to create virtually entire passages in Shakespeare. An example is the dominant presence in Portia’s speech on the “quality of mercy” of language from Southwell’s Epistle of Comfort:

                 MV 4.1.182-205                                                       EC


Por.     Then must the Jew be merciful.            61v: Jewes; 55r: mercifull
Shy.     On what compulsion must I?               61v: compulsion
                tell me that?
Por.      The quality of mercy is not                 60r: qualitye . . . mercye;
                strain’d,                                         45v: constrayned; 30r: strayne;
            It droppeth as the gentle rain from       48v: dropp [of grace]; 69v: gentle;
                heaven                                           65r: rayne; 61r: heaven
            Upon the place beneath. It is                62r: place; 58v: underneth            
                twice blest:                                     37r: twise; 55v: blessed
            It blesseth him that gives and him        36r: take . . . and geve
                that takes.
            ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest,              51r: Mightye
                it becomes
            The throned monarch better than his   31v: throne; 38r: Prince . . . crowne
            His sceptre shows the force of             58r: forcible . . . shewed
                temporal power,                             59r: temporall; 56r: power
            The attribute to awe and majesty,         58v: majestye
            Wherein doth sit the dread and             57v: dreadfull
                fear of kings;                                   59r: feares; 50r: Emperour
            But mercy is above this sceptred           60r: mercye
                sway,                                               51v: swaye
            It is enthroned in the hearts                 31v: in a . . . throne; 51v: hartes
                of kings,                                          50r: Emperour
            It is an attribute to God                         58 r-v: God . . . shewed himself of
                himself ;                                           infinite mercye
            And earthly power doth then                51v: power . . . earthlye
                show likest God’s                             58r: Gods . . . shewed
            When mercy seasons justice.               58v: mercye; 30r: seasoned
                Therefore, Jew,                                58r: justice; 61v: Jewes
            Though justice be thy plea,                   58r: justice; 48r: pleadeth at the barr
                consider this,                                   59v: consider
            That, in the course of justice,                41v: course . . . justice
                none of us                                      
            Should see salvation. We do                 49r: salvation
                pray for mercy                                 40 r-v: prayinge . . . mercye
            And that same prayer doth teach us      40r: prayinge; 53v: teach
                all to render                                      33r: render
            The deeds of mercy. I have spoke         36r: deeds; 40v: mercye; 45v: speake;
                 thus much
            To mitigate the justice of thy                 48v: mitigate; 40v: justice
                 plea,                                                48r: pleadeth at the barr
            Which if thou follow, this strict               39v: followinge; 49r: strayte . . .
                 court of Venice                                 Judge . . . verdict . . . rigorous;
            Must needs give sentence . . . .               48r: sentence

The biblical and classical resonances in Shakespeare’s text cannot be denied.[19] Yet its individual words are mostly Southwell’s. That their culling and arrangement are not like Malvolio’s “crushing” and redistribution of recalcitrant letters to form his own name can be appreciated from a number of considerations. Southwell’s language is found on a rather compact set of small quarto pages that conclude, aptly enough for Shakespeare, with Southwell’s discussion of God’s “bond of justice” and his “mercy”-- pages that had already left a significant residue of language in earlier scenes of The Merchant of Venice.[20] Most of the play’s verbal precedents in The Epistle of Comfort congregate around the single recto containing “quality” and “mercy,” with the following leaf furnishing the highly significant “Jews” and “compulsion.” It is possible that a text other than Southwell’s might contain the same words in about the same proximity; but how probable would the existence of another set of such parallels be when the vocabulary cannot be found to anything like the same extent even in the biblical works that provide the themes of Portia’s disquisition?[21] And how less probable when the same pages from Southwell’s Epistle furnish similar and in some cases even more striking parallels with passages from Measure for Measure,[22] and from Julius Caesar?


            JC3.1.256-75                                                              EC
 Thou art the ruins of the noblest man . . .                 51r: ruines . . . of . . .  nobilitye;
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!               53v: Woe be unto you; 61v: shedding of
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .                               their bloode
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy                           55r: woundes; 61r: Prophett
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;                  60r: light upon; 59v: mans . . . lymmes
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife                            62v: such civil mutinies, such
                                                                                  domescitcall uprores; 61r: furye
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;                               59r: incombrances; 67r: Italye
Blood and destruction shall be so in
,                                                             61v: bloode . . . destruction; 56r: use

And dreadful objects so familiar,                                 57v: dreadfull
That mothers shall but smile when they behold             62r: mother; 53v: laugh; 61r: beholding
Their infants quartered with the hands of war;             [cf. 123v: quartered . . . smiling; 146r
                                                                                   (for 138r):
smile when they are dismembred]
                                                                                   47v: her little childe should be parted
                                                                                   into two peeces, . . . that her bowels were
 All pity chok’d with custom of fell                              moved for pitye; 69r: choaked; 68v:
              deeds:                                                           pitye; 56r: deedes; 44r: evill custome
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for                                 67v: Iulius; 69r: spiritus; 62r: ranged;
    revenge,                                                                 64r: revenged
With Ate by his side come hot from hell                       64: warr . . . having in it no smale
Shall . . .                                                                     resemblance of the . . . horrour of hell;
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .                         67v: [from] hell mouth . . . excessive
CryHavoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war,                  52r: cryed; 51v: warr . . . havocke; 46v:
                                                                                  slipperye; 54v: dogges
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth                                   
With carrion men, groaning for burial.                        54v: carren and dead carcases;
                                                                                  65v: burye the dead . . . stenche
                                                                                  of the dead carcases . . .  [23]

Echoes from Southwell, supplementing those from Harsnett, continue in lines from King Lear:


Lear 4.6.126-30:                                              EC
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,                48v: vncertayne it is, whether he will geue      
Beneath is all the fiends'; There's hell,            not onlye a parte, but the whole to the foule  
  there's darkness,                                          fiend; 44v: gyrdle; 42r: beneath; 49v:
There's the sulphurous pit, burning             darcknesse. . .; 50v: the . . . pitt of hell;    
60v: brimstone; 46v: burning;
Stench, consumption;                                    64v: stench; 51v,67v: Consumption

Still, if there are probabilities here, they are not certainties. Fashioning the passages from Shakespeare out of a part of Southwell’s Epistle produces, then, only a single element--but a legitimate one--in a sequence of probabilities of different kinds that must be combined to clinch the argument that Shakespeare remembered Southwell’s work in composing his own.

It is of course far more difficult to determine why Shakespeare might have read a particular work than to establish that he did so. Biographical speculation will never produce utter assurance. Muir’s study of Shakespeare and Harsnett avoids historical questions almost entirely. Yet history may serve a confirmatory role in source study if it can offer a plausible reason outside of the texts why they have been brought together. What, for example, could have made A Declaration of Popish Impostures of interest to Shakespeare? Perhaps he was intrigued by the subject matter, which some commentators have judged, in conflicting interpretations, to be relevant to the “meaning” of King Lear.[24] Perhaps as well, and antecedently, the playwright’s interest in Harsnett’s book derived from the prominence it gave to one of the exorcists, Richard Dibdale. The family of this Seminary priest from Stratford had connections with Shakespeare’s in-laws, the Hathaways, and Dibdale may have been a Shakespeare cousin. Once a student at Stratford’s Grammar School, Dibdale was a friend of one schoolmaster of Shakespeare’s youth, Simon Hunt, and of Thomas Cottam, brother of one of Hunt’s successors. Additionally, Harsnett at one point derides Shakespeare’s kinsman Edward Arden of Park Hall, who was a casualty of the so-called “Somerville Plot” in 1583.[25] The study of an author’s reading, then, may benefit from historical investigation or lead to historical or critical suppositions, which unlike the “fact” of influence may be incapable of “proof” but may be “true” nonetheless, awaiting firmer substantiation. This book relies on such a premise.



To Introduction


[1]. Unless otherwise noted, quotations from the poems and plays of Shakespeare are taken from The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd ed.

[2]. Shakespeare’s Lives.

[3]. See Stanley Wells’ review of Ungentle Shakespeare: Scenes from His Life, in the Times Literary Supplement, 20 April 2001: 25.

[4]. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, and Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England, 1.

[5]. Secret Shakespeare: Studies in Theatre, Religion, and Resistance. Cf. Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, Die verborgene Existenz des William Shakespeare, and Wood, In Search of Shakespeare. More recently still, see Clare Asquith, Shadowplay: the Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare.

Among previous proponents of the notion that Shakespeare harbored at least a covert sympathy for the “Old Faith” have been: Henry Sebastian Bowden, ed. and comp., The Religion of Shakespeare, Chiefly from the Writings of the Late Mr. Richard Simpson; John Henry de Groot, The Shakespeares and “The Old Faith”; Heinrich Mutschmann and Karl Wentersdorf, Shakespeare and Catholicism; Peter Milward, S. J., Shakespeare’s Religious Background; Gary Taylor, “The Fortunes of Oldcastle,” “Frms of Opposition: Shakespeare and Middleton,” “Divine [ ]sences.” See also Thomas Rist, Shakespeare’s Romances and the Politics of Counter-Reformation and Velma Bourgeois Richmond, Shakespeare, Catholicism, and Romance. Maurice Hunt argues for a “syncretic” Shakespeare, Catholic and Protestant, in Shakespeare’s Religious Allusiveness. Two recent collections of essays that deal mainly with Shakespeare’s relationship to Catholicism are Theatre and Religion: Lancastrian Shakespeare, edited by Richard Dutton, Alison, Findlay, and Richard Wilson, and Shakespeare and the Culture of Christianity in Early Modern England, edited by Dennis Taylor and David N. Beauregard. See also Peter Holland, ed. Shakespeare and Religions, vol. 54 of Shakespeare Survey.

[6]. Blair Worden seems utterly certain that Shakespeare is “unknowable.” Acknowledging that there is “nothing intrinsically wrong with speculation, which has its place in most enterprises of historical recovery,” he finds in Shakespeare’s case that a “framework of established fact,” on which speculation might lean, is “wanting.” The historian may know the qualities and habits of Shakespeare’s mind, but not its “opinions” (“Shakespeare in Life and Art,” in Kozuka and Mulryne, eds., New Directions in Biography, 23-24, 29). This is, of course, only Worden’s opinion, which many others share, but is not always recognized as “opinion,” even by historians themselves.

Alison Shell (also contributing to New Directions) notes that “in recent years, many people seem to have wanted Shakespeare to be a Catholic”; and she warns that “wanting is a dangerous thing to do” (“Why Didn’t Shakespeare Write Religious Verse?” 87). It is of course just as “dangerous” to “want” Shakespeare not to have been a Catholic, or anything else.

[7]. “Death in the Family: The Loss of a Son and the Rise of Shakespearean Comedy”: 127-153, especially 130-34. More recently still, Takashi Kozuka and J. R. Mulryne have edited an anthology of critical essays that speak in various ways to their premise that literary biography has won a new esteem, even as it employs a “liberty in interpreting” the “mind and art” of early modern poets and dramatists: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson: New Directions in Biography. See in particular Mulryne’s introductory chapter, “Where We are Now: New Directions and Biographical Methods.” “New” directions, however, are not specifically compared with old ones.

[8]. Shakespeare: The “Lost Years.” Reasons for doubting that Shakespeare was “Shakeshafte,” once offered by Douglas Hamer and countered by Honigmann, have been presented with renewed energy by Robert Bearman (“‘Was William Shakespeare William Shakeshafte?’ Revisited”: 83-94). Bearman’s essay makes clear that the identification is a hypothesis, but does not disprove it. See Honigmann’s response, “The Shakespeare/Shakeshafte Question, Continued,” 83-86. Wilson contests Bearman’s arguments with new evidence (Secret Shakespare, 60), to which Bearman has responded briefly and inadequately (“John Shakespeare: A Papist or Just Penniless,” 412n2).

[9]. Jeffrey Knapp’s argument that Shakespeare’s Erasmian religion was reducible to a belief in charity, good fellowship, and tolerance makes the poet attractive to modern sensibilities but ignores what else an Erasmian Christian of the Renaissance might be. See Shakespeare’s Tribe: Church, Nation, and Theater in Renaissance England.

[10]. I have begun to make a case for this claim in several essays: “Politics, Heresy, and Martyrdom in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 124 and Titus Andronicus”; “New Sources of Shakespeare’s King John: The Writings of Robert Southwell”; “The Phoenix and Turtle in Its Time”; “Catholic and Protestant, Jesuit and Jew: Historical Religion in The Merchant of Venice.”

[11]. A full list is given in Muir’s Arden edtion of King Lear, 253-56. See also Muir’s essay, “Samuel Harsnett and King Lear,” 11-21; and Brownlow, ed., Shakespeare, Harsnett, and the Devils of Denham, 110-131--with the references cited there.

[12]. Brownlow, ed., Harsnett, 172.

[13]. See Brooks, “Two Principles in Source-Study,” 25.

[14]. For a classic discussion of the convergence of probabilities as productive of certainty see John Henry Newman’s An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.

[15]. See Muir, “Harsnett and King Lear,” 15.

[16]. See Cairncross, ed., King Henry VI, Part I, xxxii-xxxviii.

[17]. See Budd, “Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Harsnett”: 421-29; and Muir, “Harsnett and King Lear,” 18-19.

[18]. Southwell’s poetry is quoted here and throughout from the edition of James H. McDonald and Nancy Pollard Brown. His other writings are cited from the editions listed in the Bibliography. Prose works and poems are abbreviated as indicated in Notes on the Text.

[19]. See Shaheen, Biblical References in Shakespeare’s Plays, 180-82, and Seneca’s De clementia 1.19, as suggested by John Russell Brown and others (Brown, ed., The Merchant of Venice, 111 n.; Furness, ed., Variorum Merchant of Venice, 211-12). One of the most important of the biblical analogues is Deuteronomy 32:2, which Southwell quotes in the Epistle of Comfort, 157r.

[20]. See Klause, “Historical Religion in The Merchant of Venice.”

[21]. A search of the Chadwyck-Healey electronic database Literature Online (in this case, of works antedating 1600, when the first Quarto of Merchant was published) shows that most of the significant words that are parallel in Southwell’s Epistle and Portia’s speech can indeed be found in Matthew Parker’s Psalms of David (1567?). Parker’s vocabulary, however, is spread across pages that contain about 87,000 words (compared with the approximately 14,000 words on Southwell’s folios), and with nothing approaching the concentration of samples found in the Epistle, fols. 45-61 (containing only 6000 words), and of these leaves, on the later ones especially. Other translations of the Psalms furnish fewer parallels than does Parker’s and no version provides the host of other elements that are common to the play and to Southwell’s work (see Klause, “Historical Religion in The Merchant of Venice”). Early English Books Online contains much larger works (like Calvin’s Institutes, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Holinshed’s Chronicles) in which the shared words are widely dispersed.

[22]. See below, Chapter 6.

[23]. The same group of Southwell’s pages can also “reconstruct” Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65. See also the parallels between Measure for Measure 3.1.6-41 and this part of the Epistle (infra, Chapter 6).

[24]. See Murphy, Darkness and Devils: Exorcism and King Lear; Greenblatt, “Shakespeare and the Exorcists,” in Shakespearean Negotiations; Brownlow, ed., Harsnett.

[25]. See Brownlow, ed., Harsnett, 108-109, 268-69.

Copyright © John Klause 2013.