Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why I will not be signing the "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt"

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition recently announced that two US Supreme Court judges have added their names to the list of signatories to the "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt". This brings to 1,664 the number of people who have signed the on-line petition since its inception in 2007. The aims of the Coalition and its Declaration seem modest and reasonable enough; they simply seek to have the question of the authorship of the plays opened up to legitimate discussion.
"Our goal is to legitimize the issue in academia so students, teachers and professors can feel free to pursue it."
- from the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition website
The SAC claims to be agnostic in regards to who the real author might be. They just want, they seem t be saying, to open the door to the possibility of doubting that William Shaxper of Stratford was the author.

On the surface, this all seems inoffensive enough, but I have not and will not be signing the Declaration. I regard it as a step in the direction away from the truth. The Declaration seeks as a first step in the process of legitimate discussion to dethrone William Shaxper from his position as the pre-eminent writer in the english language. But is this justified?

"Oliver Lector" was the pseudonymous author of "Letters from the Dead to the Dead"(1909). Although his words were first published exactly 100 years ago, he has something remarkably apt to say on the topic:
"William Shakespeare is the possessor of the proudest lit-
erary title in history. Whosoever shall oust him from that
possession must do so by the strength of his own para-
mount rights, and not by the weakness of the title of the
" Bard of Avon," so called. It may be argued that the pro-
duction of a book with William Shakespeare's name printed
thereon as the author is not legal evidence of his author-
ship, because there exists no writing, letter, or manuscript
to support that title, and because his name was printed on
other books to the authorship of which no claim on his be-
half is now made ; nevertheless, I should suppose his title
to all his works is prima facie good."
Precisely, I say.

William Shakespeare has his name on the title page and it did not get there by accident. The true author of the works clearly consented to this situation. He therefore has pre-eminent claim to the authorship until such time as it is definitely proven that another man was the author. In no way therefore should William Shaxper be obliged to surrender his claim to an agnostic mob.

This is the simple reason why I cannot support the aims of the Declaration, or the SAC. If William is to cede his right it can only be to one man, the true author. Now who could that be? And can we know for certain?

The crux of the position taken by the SAC is summarised in bold type at the end of the Declaration. Here it is:
"Reasonable people may differ about whether a preponderance of the evidence supports Mr. Shakspere, but it is simply not credible for anyone to claim, in 2007, that there is no room for doubt about the author."
This statement is simply and hilariously false. While it may be true enough that reasonable people might differ about Mr Shakspere's role, there was no room for doubt in 2007 and there is no room for doubt in 2009 as to the real identity of the true author of the "Shakespeare" works. That man is Francis Bacon and the case is proven. The evidence is overwhelming.

And so the true motives of the SAC stand revealed. This is not an organisation with any interest in the true author. It is interested in the claims of the false candidates, primarily Oxford. It is part of the game. Having failed to find their "smoking gun", to prove that Oxford wrote Shakespeare, attention has now turned to the only part of their argument with any merit, the observation that, indeed, William Shaxper did not write the plays. But you can't stop there. How did it come about that his name appears on the title page? The answer is because he had entered into an agreement with Francis Bacon for his name to be so used.

So the notion that William Shakespeare should cede his title to the authorship for it to be argued back and forth in the marketplace, as if it is an open question, as if any claim other than Bacon's has even remotely comparable merit, is just another delaying tactic in the inevitable rendering of just due to the true author.

As a Baconian, I do not subscribe to the suggestion that there ought to be a kind of rapprochement between the different candidates' supporters, that the "anti-Stratfordian" forces ought to band together to overthrow the false notion that William Shaxper was part of the greatest literary production of all time. He was part of it. He was an integral part of it, and he played his part to perfection. So well, in fact, that the coverstory so carefully put in place by Bacon has survived and thrived to this day.

There is no reason to dethrone William. He has kept his side of the bargain admirably. He cedes his right to no man, except the true author, with whom he made the original arrangement. That man is Francis Bacon, and to him alone is due the honour that goes with the authorship of the works which the world knows under the name of Shakespeare.

So I won't be signing, and I urge you not to either.

Monday, April 06, 2009

So the deal at the Marlowe-Shakespeare blog apparently (see following entry) is that pro-Marlovian comments get posted without fuss, but comments correcting errors of fact, or providing other useful information which does not support the Marlowe position, don't get past the moderator. My first two comments only appeared there after the moderator was prodded. My third comment hasn't shown up, which is my cue to give up. 

It's been instructive though. I was contacted by several of the contributors to the blog privately, eager that I should help them with information. Which I did. Which they then promptly turned inside out and upside down to see how it could be used to bolster the Marlowe theory.  It's all so predictable. Here's how it works. First you decide that Marlowe, or Oxford, or whoever, was Shakespeare. Before anything else, you commit to that position, as if you are supporting your local football team. Then, you trawl the material to find things that back up the position you've already decided is the correct one.

Recipe for disaster.

What they never do is check to see whether the other candidates, like, ahem, Francis Bacon, might have a plausible case. No one does due diligence. When I say no one, I mean no one. I've made it a point over the years, when corresponding with Oxfordians, Stratfordians and Marlovians, to ask them: have you ever read, for example, Francis Bacon's Personal LifeStory by Alfred Dodd? Or The Bacon-Shakespeare Anatomy by W.S. Melsome? Or Tudor Problems by Parker Woodward? Or The Mystery of Francis Bacon by Smedley. Or, indeed, ANY BOOK WHATSOEVER laying out the Bacon case competently. I have yet to receive a single positive reply, ever, to this generic enquiry.

Not one person interested in the authorship debate, who is not a Baconian, has ever read a single Baconian book. Haha. Hilarious isn't it. Tragic is another word. If you are reading this, and you're a non-Baconian, and you have read even one Baconian book, please, get in touch with me. I am fascinated by how and why the Bacon position fails to convince sane humans, but so far, the answer is simple: because everyone refuses to read the material.

By the way, the John Michell book doesn't count, as the chapter on Bacon contains a number of errors which render it useless as an accurate summary of the Bacon case. 

Here is the problem with the Marlovian theory: it starts well enough, with the observation, after Medenhall, that the works of Shakespeare and Marlowe were written by the same person. Fair enough. But in order to proceed competently to conclude that this person was Christopher Marlowe/Marley, the Cambridge graduate, spy and coin-forger, it is first necessary to prove that he himself was the author of the works posthumously attributed to him. Otherwise, and unless this is done, the possibility remains that SOME THIRD PARTY was responsible for the works of both Shakespeare and Marlowe. I mean, if the name of Shakespeare could have been a mask, the possibility exists that other names, including Marlowe, were also masks. This possibility needs to be positively eliminated to render the case for Marlowe water-tight. Why is this so hard for Marlovians to understand? Well, read their blog and you will see. It's the football team syndrome.  This is not an attempt to get at the truth; it's an attempt to get our team to the top of the table. 

So ignore, overlook, don't acknowledge the difficulties; just keep banging away at the goal hoping, one day, someone manages to get a ball in the back of the net. And give the opposition hell. 

Reality check. There's not a shred of evidence that Marlowe survived the events of May 30 1593. Not a shred. His body was laid out at the coroner's inquest in front of the jury and witnesses, with the bloody hole in his eye.  A substitute? Riiiiiiiiiight, as the kids say. Not so much as the merest shred of evidence, even after 50 years of assiduous searching, has turned up which would prove that he survived the events of Deptford. You might think it was time to rethink the basic premise. But apparently not. All it needs is some fancy new graphics and a whole new generation is ready to go down the wrong path.

There's also not a shred of evidence during Marlowe's life that links his name to writing for the theatre or poetry in any format whatsoever. But what happens when you bring this up? Attitude, that's what happens. Instead of standing back and seriously considering the possible consequences of this, the Marlovians just get all bent out of shape. Like you've dissed their football team. 

Sometimes I think it must all be a joke, that these people know exactly what they are doing. How else to explain an article which calls Bacon a misogynist, and cites this as the reason why he could not be Shakespeare, which is then followed by another article by the same author waxing lyrical about The Taming of the Shrew as the key to understanding Marlowe's authorship of this and the other Shakespeare Plays.  I mean, if "New Atlantis" is a misogynist tract, then one would expect that Shrew ought to give a feminist kittens.  Ah, but that would be expecting consistency, and perspicacity, and insight, and that's something in short supply over in the House of the Marlovians. 

My name, said Bacon, I leave to foreign nations, and my own countrymen, after some time be passed. Clearly, "some time" is yet to fully elapse. Hasten the day.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A new blog on the Marlovian theory is now on-line here. A recent post there attempts to prove that Francis Bacon could not be Shakespeare. It's a mess, but it's intructive. Please do visit their site, scroll down, read the post, and then read the comments. I'll be making some more comments about that post on this blog here over the next few days. For now, let me just note the small picture that has been posted in the margin of the blog, labelled "Marlowe, Our Guy". Nothing could summarise the Marlovian theory more aptly. It is pure fantasy that this can be identified as a painting of Marlowe, just as it is pure fantasy that Marlowe survived his death in 1593, (which is the essence of their hypothesis). Pure fantasy. By which I mean: completely unsupported by the merest shred of evidence. The painting is from Corpus Christi college, and dates to the years when Marlowe was in attendance there. However, there is not the slightest indication on the painting, or associated with it in any format whatsoever that tells us it is of Christopher Marlowe, or Christoper Marley as he was actually known, the scholar, spy and coin-forger (a man. let it be noted, who was never identified even once during his lifetime as a writer for the theatre). Let me repeat: there is no reason whatsoever to suggest that the painting is of Marlowe. And let me repeat that other remarkable fact: not once during his lifetime was this Marley, or Marlowe, identified as a writer connected with the theatre in any format whatsoever. But back to that painting: at least A.D.Wraight's book, which uses the image on it's cover, has the honesty to label it a "putative" portrait, but this new Marlowe blog has no such compunction. Let's not confuse the newbies. There's enough to wrap one's head around without making it too complicated, or worrying about subtleties, or fantasies. It's "our guy". Er, no it's not. It could be anyone. Maybe Marlowe, maybe just some punter. There's no way of telling. Still, whoever it is, it's a handsome portrait. The surmise that it is a portrait of Marlowe is nothing but a wish, a guess, a hope: just like the idea that Marlowe somehow faked his death. On the other hand, the Marlovians have one part of the equation correct: the same man wrote the works of both Marlowe and Shakespeare.