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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: God Save the Queen
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0632  Wednesday, 2 April 2003

[1]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 12:25:10 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0616 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

[2]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 08:32:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

[3]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 13:54:40 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

[4]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 18:05:50 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

[5]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 12:10:17 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

[6]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 12:10:42 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 14.0616 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

[7]     From:   Daphne Pearson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 18:26:03 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 12:25:10 +0000
Subject: 14.0616 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0616 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

Martin Steward?s memory is at fault. My wife would never agree to such a
proposal.

She prefers the theme to the Archers.

Yours,
Graham Hall

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 08:32:58 -0500
Subject: 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

Don Bloom <
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 > wrotes,

>This matter of England and its anthem puzzles me.

>What should we call that part of the British Isles that isn't Scotland,
>Wales, Ireland or Ulster? East Manxia?

Oh, England still exists.  But, starting with the first Act of Union
(1707), which transformed Great Britain from two kingdoms that just
happened to have a king in common (as had been the case since James VI/I
succeeded Elizabeth I, except, de facto, under the Commonwealth) into a
single United Kingdom, a great many English institutions have been
transformed into British institutions.  For example, the old English
Parliament became the British Parliament, and it is now in rather poor
taste to call it the English Parliament, as though Scotland and Northern
Ireland were merely annexed territories.  (Yes, some would argue that
they are, but that's not the issue in question.)  Wales is in a somewhat
different position, since it _was_ conquered territory annexed to
England long before the Act of Union, but it is slowly being moved up in
status to be parallel with Scotland.

Shakespeare's feelings on the subject, at any rate, are neither here nor
there, since the United Kingdom did not exist in his day.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 13:54:40 GMT0BST
Subject: 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

>This has relevance to our (ostensible) topic since WS seems to have had
>a very urgent sense of its existence and a lot of patriotic pride. Even
>if England is an illusion, it's an illusion that he believed in.

Before 1603 it was, at least in part, something felt to have a reality
defined by not-being-Scotland.  That's one reason why there was so much
opposition to James VI and I's project of uniting the kingdoms, and why
eminent figures such as Savile wrote learnedly to try to persuade him
not to adopt the title 'King of Great Britain'.  He did so, of course,
by royal proclamation, in 1604.  Hence the strongly 'British' themes of
Jonson's early masques - and perhaps of  Lear and Cymbeline.

David Lindley

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 18:05:50 +0100
Subject: Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

Don Bloom suggests that "Even if England is an illusion, it's an
illusion that he [Shakespeare] believed in. Whatever constitutional
adaptations that have come along since don't affect that fact."

But of course England was not a constitutional "illusion" during
Shakespeare's lifetime. It had a King (James I, who was James VI of
Scotland, effectively a different King altogether, in the "two bodies"
formulation); it had a Parliament (and so did Scotland). Wales was
governed by the Council of the Marches. The issue of sovereignty is a
moot one at this point, because it is arguable that no one in England
really understood what it was, or would have thought it a good idea if
they did.

This was a fairly live issue for Shakespeare, if not as live as it was
for people like Francis Bacon or other lawyer-parliamentarians. It was a
live issue for everyone living in Jacobean England, because James was
attached to the idea of uniting the Parliaments of the two nations into
a Parliament of Great Britain (such as we got - roughly - in 1707). Just
about every Parliamentary session from 1604 through 1610 had heated
debates on the subject. There was a great deal of resistance from the
House of Commons, not least because quite a few of them were
common-lawyers who were concerned that this union would result in a
radical change in English law to bring it into agreement with the
Scottish civil law (which James freely admitted to liking and
understanding better). The rhetoric of the thing gets mixed up with the
anti-Scots satire that gets flung around so much in the early 1600s
(q.v. Eastward Hoe).

How might we interpret some of Shakespeare's plays with this lot in
mind?  Obviously it has a huge impact on the meaning of Macbeth. But
what about plays like King Lear, or especially Cymbeline, which are set
in a mythical Britain which would seem to gesture towards the political
entity idealized by James (the "second Brutus" etc.)? Think about all
that guff Cymbeline comes out with about Mulmutius! The sort of thing
Sir Thomas Craig, in his Jus Feudale (dedicated to James), demolishes so
utterly and scornfully. And that's not even getting into George
Saltern's Of the Ancient Lawes of Great Britaine...

Back to Don's message: "What should we call that part of the British
Isles that isn't Scotland, Wales, Ireland or Ulster? East Manxia?"

You sound perturbed by this, Don. We can call it England - that's what
it is (geographically, culturally, imaginatively, etymologically,
ethnically, whatever). But in constitutional terms, England does not
exist. That bothers me no more than it would to acknowledge that Wessex
or Mercia no longer exist - constitutionally, governmentally,
administratively... Mind you, I do know someone from Rutland, so I guess
there's hope for us all.

martin

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 12:10:17 -0500
Subject: Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

Don Bloom asserts, "Even if England is an illusion, it's an illusion
that [Shakespeare] believed in. Whatever constitutional adaptations that
have come along since don't affect that fact".

They certainly affect what he wrote.

T. Hawkes

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Apr 2003 12:10:42 -0500
Subject: Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        SHK 14.0616 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

Martin Steward tells us that

"There is a sovereign Parliament located in the region of the United
Kingdom known as England".

It is certainly not 'sovereign'. All of its legislation requires the
assent of a higher body -the monarch- before it becomes law. This can
be, and has been, witheld or delayed. At the opening of each parliament,
the monarch publicly outlines the forthcoming legislative programme of
what he or she calls  'my government'.

T. Hawkes

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daphne Pearson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 18:26:03 +0100
Subject: 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0622 Re: God Save the Queen in British Theaters

I was very glad to read Don Bloom's comments on England.

There are still some who call themselves English and I'm one of them.

What is the language we speak but English? It is certainly not British.

If England is a myth it is a very potent one.

Regarding 'Here's a health' etc. I always thought it was a drinking
song, but the origin may be as you say.

Daphne

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