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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: *Cardenio*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0285.  Friday, 28 February 1997.

[1]     From:   John King <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 09:04:27 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0279  Re: *Cardenio*

[2]     From:   Timothy Reed <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 13:23:17 -0700
        Subj:   *Cardenio*

[3]     From:   David J. Kathman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 15:12:38 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0279  Re: *Cardenio*

[4]     From:   John Mucci <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 12:10:50 -0500
        Subj:   Cardenio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John King <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 09:04:27 -0600
Subject: 8.0279  Re: *Cardenio*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0279  Re: *Cardenio*

>Nice try.  But just because no one has a better theory does not mean we
>have to accept a crazy one.  It seems to me that Mr Hamilton has made
>other questionable statements in the past. I believe he  has written
>that all of Shakespeare's will is in Shakespeare's hand; I also believe
>he contends that Shakespeare ghost wrote all-are most of-Sir Francis
>Bacon's works. He is not a reliable source of info. But sure, he might
>be right-it's just not likely.

I have read CARDENIO, and also I have read Hamilton's book IN SEARCH OF
SHAKESPEARE, in which he expounds his theories.  Almost all of them stem
from his contention that the will is actually in Shakespeare's hand.  As
for ghost-writing for Bacon, what Hamilton actually says is that
Shakespeare's alleged handwriting appears in several Bacon manuscripts,
leading to the conclusion that he may have worked as a scribe- possibly
even being asked to doctor some material, but that (even Hamilton
admits) can never be more than speculation.  My question is this:  why
must Hamilton's theories be dismissed so completely without any serious
consideration?  I am not convinced that SECOND MAYDENS TRAGEDY is
actually CARDENIO, but I must say that the arguments Hamilton has put
forth in support of many of his ideas are reasonable to me.  This, after
all, is one of the most respected men in his field, who has spent most
of his life exploring and solving mysteries through handwriting, and his
opinion has been considered reliable enough in countless courts of law.
Now, when he applies his expertise to a new area, bringing his own
knowledge and sensibilities to the study of Shakespeare, he is met with
a barrage of skepticism (understandable) and ridicule (inexcusable).
Why?  Is it so impossible that Shakespeare could have handwritten his
own will?  People do it, even today.  Is it so impossible that he could
have picked up some extra money working for Sir Francis Bacon when the
theatres were closed by the plague?  I think not, especially since we
know he at least had connections in the right circles.  Perhaps I am
naive, and I certainly don't claim to be an expert on all the facts
surrounding Shakespeare and his life... However, I DO know enough about
those facts to know that NOBODY can claim to be an "expert" about it,
really; and until someone discovers something that fills in all the
numerous blanks, we should all be open to the possibilities of any
theory that comes along, no matter how "crazy" it may seem.

John King.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Reed <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 13:23:17 -0700
Subject:        *Cardenio*

As alluring as it is for many to believe that *The Second Maiden's
Tragedy* is the unearthed *Cardenio*, the evidence simply does not bear
it out. Hamilton's arguments based on the similarities of the characters
in *2MT* and the original Cervantes are nothing more than wishful
thinking; his handwriting analysis calls on methods reminiscent of the
worst excesses of self-deluded Baconians like Elizabeth Wells Gallup;
and his analysis of the sublime and exquisite nature of the language of
the play is laughable.

There is no solid evidence that Shakespeare penned the manuscript,
especially since his whole thesis on this point is predicated by his
earlier "proof" that Shakespeare penned the entirety of his will.

The language of the play is simply not consistent with the works of the
mature Shakespeare that is postulated by the dates in the Stationer's
Register. Having recently performed the role of The Tyrant, I can claim
an intimate familiarity with the play from the seldom heard actor's
point of view and make the completely subjective and easily debatable
point that "It just doesn't sound the same and play the same as
Shakespeare." Flame away if you must, but I've got to go on gut instinct
on this one. I will concede that there are one or two scenes that
Shakespeare *might* have had a hand in; but half the play? No.

Timothy Reed
The Upstart Crow Theatre Company, Boulder, CO

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David J. Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 15:12:38 +0100
Subject: 8.0279  Re: *Cardenio*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0279  Re: *Cardenio*

Regarding *Cardenio*, *The Second Maiden's Tragedy*, and *Double
Falsehood* (Lewis Theobald's supposed adaptation of *Cardenio*),
Jonathan Hope wrote:

>> Has anyone suggested anything besides SMT (Don't tell me about
>> <italic>Double Falsehood<italic>)?  If not, we'll have to stick with
>> Hamilton's theory, crazy as it may sound.
>
>Sorry to puff myself for the second time in two weeks, and to mention
>the DF play, but on pages 89-100 of *The Authorship of Shakespeare's
>Plays* I give evidence that shows that *DF* doesn't look linguistically
>like Theobald's other plays, and is consistent with it being an
>adaptation of a text which contained two divergent idiolects - one
>looking like Shakespeare's, the other looking like Fletcher's.

For what it's worth, Don Foster's SHAXICON points to a similar
conclusion - the sections of *Double Falsehood* which are though to be
based on Shakespeare's portion show a rare-word distribution which is
extremely consistent with Shakespeare's work from around 1612.

Also, somebody recently posted a query on the
humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare newsgroup asking about Hamilton's
claim that *The Second Maiden's Tragedy* is *Cardenio*, and I append my
response below.

Dave Kathman

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**********************************

The book you're talking about was written by Charles Hamilton, an
authograph expert with an amateur interest in Shakespeare.  The short
answer to your questions is that no Shakespeare scholar I'm aware of
takes Hamilton or his conclusions seriously.  The scholarly consensus,
on the basis of internal evidence, is that *The Second Maiden's Tragedy*
was written by Thomas Middleton, though a few years ago Eric Rasmussen
wrote an article in Shakespeare Quarterly arguing that a few lines of
manuscript additions may be in Shakespeare's hand.  (Rasmussen's
arguments have been disputed.)

The main problem I have with Hamilton's methodology is that it's so
incredibly subjective.  The only undisputed examples of Shakespeare's
handwriting are six signatures plus two words, "By me" (though even some
of these have been questioned); it is also widely accepted that
Shakespeare wrote three pages of the manuscript play *Sir Thomas More*.
In his 1985 book *In Search of Shakespeare*, Hamilton looked at these
six signatures, compared them to the body of the will, and decided that
they were in the same handwriting, despite the fact that this conclusion
had been rejected many times over the years by dozens of prominent
paleographers.  He then looked at a bunch of other documents and
declared that dozens of them are also in Shakespeare's handwriting,
including some legal documents from the files of Francis Bacon.
Hamilton does provide some letter-by-letter comparisons, but he brushes
aside any differences, relying primarily on the "feel" of a document; he
claims to be able to tell if a document is in Shakespeare's handwriting
without even reading it or looking at the individual letters.  This is a
pretty subjective way of doing things, and if other people don't share
Hamilton's "feel" for a document, why that just shows how closed-minded
they are, according to Hamilton.

For the specific example of *The Second Maiden's Tragedy*, there's an
additional complication.  Shakespeare's signatures, plus the additon to
*Sir Thomas More*, are all written in secretary hand, an older form of
cursive which is all but indecipherable to a twentieth-century reader.
Modern English handwriting is descended from italic script, which in
Shakespeare's day was mainly used by the upper classes; however, it was
starting to gain a foothold, and within a few decades would completely
supplant secretary hand.  The two types of writing are extremely
different in appearance; it takes special training for a modern reader
to be able to read secretary hand (and even then it can be a pain), but
modern readers have no trouble reading italic hand.  Now, as I said, all
the examples we have of Shakespeare's handwriting are in secretary hand,
and they're rather messy, as though he was writing in a hurry.  The
manuscript of *The Second Maiden's Tragedy* is written in a very neat
italic hand, generally agreed to be that of a playhouse scribe.  But
Hamilton insists that the play is in Shakespeare's handwriting, and in
fact the handwriting is his main argument; his attempts to use internal
evidence are weak and unconvincing.  But how can you compare a messy
secretary hand to a neat italic hand?  Well, here Hamilton resorts again
to "feel"; he can just tell that this italic hand is the way Shakespeare
would have written in italic, if we had any examples of italic
handwriting by Shakespeare to compare it to.  I, personally, don't buy
it.  The one feature of the Cardenio book that I found most interesting
was the facsimiles of the handwriting of a few dozen of Shakespeare's
contemporaries.  I guess it's also worth having as an edition of *The
Second Maiden's Tragedy*, though I think Hamilton changed the
characters' names to fit his Cardenio claim.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Mucci <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 12:10:50 -0500
Subject:        Cardenio

John Robinson is a little off the beam when he says Charles Hamilton
contends that Shakespeare ghost wrote all-are most of-Sir Francis
Bacon's works." - he uses such an example in his book IN SEARCH OF
SHAKESPEARE to demonstrate the lengths others will go to convince him of
paranormal activities.  What is extraordinary about Hamilton is that if
you believe Cardenio is by WS, you have to believe the whole linkage
that Hamilton has set up: namely, that Shakespeare wrote the last will
and testament himself; that he suffered a stroke as he was writing it,
and that many other documents exist in Shakespeare's hand, such as all
the application drafts for John Shakespeare's coat of arms, and the
scene from Thomas More.  His analysis of the Cardenio manuscript (or the
SMT, as you like it), concludes that it is one in the same person who
penned it as the will.  I suppose the only optional belief Hamilton has
with no real proof, is that WS's son in law Quiny poisoned him, thus
accounting for the erratic script on the last page of the will.

JMucci
 

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