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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: April ::
*R&J* Poison; Hamlett Sadler?
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 248.  Tuesday, 20 April 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 1993 11:35:00 -0300
        Subj:   Poison in R&J
 
(2)     From:   John Mucci <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 93 21:44:00 UT
        Subj:   Hamlett Sadler?
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 1993 11:35:00 -0300
Subject:        Poison in R&J
 
Hi,
 
About the potion in *Romeo and Juliet*:  I understand that puffer
fish poison drops one into a deep comatose, with no signs of
life.  In some parts of Japan, the dead are traditionally laid in
state for several days as a result.  Puffer fish is an important
ingredient in zombification.
 
A fellow called Praz, in Machiavelli and the Elizabethans (I'm
sorry, I don't have a citation, but it was written sometime in
the 1930s) gave several other examples of exaggerated poisons in
Elizabethan drama, such as one that lay dormant in the blood for
48 hours and then killed the bearer instantly.  Looking for a
specific ingredient may be a little misguided, therefore, since
whatever had originally inspired a poison to feign death, had
probably been alterred by previous literary uses to the point of
being unrecognizable.
 
Anyway, good luck!
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Mucci <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 93 21:44:00 UT
Subject:        Hamlett Sadler?
 
Hamnet Sadler did not sign his name Hamlett as a witness on the will,
as can be seen very plainly on any facsimilie. There is a possibility
that he spelled it Hanmet, as N's and M's have a way of looking like
one another, but there is definitely no "l" in the signature.
 
So far as the interlineations in the will go, the two most striking lines
of the will--the infamous second-best bed, and the rings given to the
theatre colleagues,  Heminges/Condell--seem to be afterthoughts, which
may mean nothing at all, or may have been written by another hand at a
later time.  Also, many lesser dramatists than Shakespeare left wills
which had voluminous enumerations of the books they were proud to own
and bequeath: either the second best bed was more important than the
books, or, as Schoenbaum puts it, they were part of the possessions
which naturally would fall to the heirs, or he didn't own any.
 

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