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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Richard and Bolingbroke
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1378  Monday, 7 July 2003

[1]     From:   Edward Brown <
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        Date:   Thursday, 03 Jul 2003 13:01:15 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1356 Re: Richard and Bolingbroke

[2]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Jul 2003 21:14:22 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1367 Re: Richard and Bolingbroke

From:           Edward Brown <
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Date:           Thursday, 03 Jul 2003 13:01:15 -0400
Subject: 14.1356 Re: Richard and Bolingbroke
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1356 Re: Richard and Bolingbroke

Bill Lloyd's points about distinguishing the historical Bolingbroke from
the Shakespearean and the ambiguity of the latter's intentions are
excellent. I believe that the historic B. knew his premature return from
exile was treasonous and his only chance of survival lay in seizing the
crown; what tips the scales for me as to Shakespeare's B. is his
execution of Bushy and Green at Bristol, a presumption of the royal
prerogative belying his protest of loyalty, as well as his threat in
III.3 to "...take advantage of my power/And lay the sumnmer's dust with
showers of blood" if his demands are not met.

From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Jul 2003 21:14:22 EDT
Subject: 14.1367 Re: Richard and Bolingbroke
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1367 Re: Richard and Bolingbroke

First let me say that I found Michael Egan's reconstructed final scene
for Woodstock to be well done. As of this writing it was still available
at the 'papers seeking advice' URL on the Main SHAKSPER page.

For the full text of Michael Egan's objections to my post on Thomas of
Woodstock, see SHK 14.1356, 2 July 2003, Re: Richard and Bolingbroke. I
admit that Michael [if I may] has caught me out in several places, but I
think most of what I said can be defended.

I emphasized that the date of 1592-3 for Woodstock was hypothetical
because I was afraid that like many widely accepted hypotheses [e.g.,
the apparently incorrect assignment of 2 Seven Deadly Sins to Strange's
Men c1590<>.93] it had hardened into a sort of 'fact' in people's
minds.  Michael says that the date is not as hypothetical as I think.
But if it's not a provable fact, it's still a hypothesis, isn't it? He
feels it's a strong hypothesis and finds the topical references and
stylistic features that support it to be credible. But since there is no
clear external evidence as to provenance of Woodstock, the dating of
1592-3 is still a hypothesis, as is the post-1600 dating for revision or

It is my fault for not using my favorite word, 'seems', when I stated
that Woodstock "was in use in the theatre as late as the 1630s". Yes,
that description of its provenance is hypothetical, but it is not, as
Michael later said when I made the related claim that that 1630s acting
company was in part descended from the Admiral's men, a "hypothesis
without a shred of evidence".  Without a shred is putting it too
strongly, but it is true I should have said something more like "the
company that may have revived it in the 1630s" [and I should have said
1620s or 1630s]. The reason for suspecting this later revival is the
character of the ms. collection in which Woodstock is found [MS Egerton
1994], and some actors' names that occur in the Woodstock ms.  Briefly,
most of the 14 other plays in the collection either date from the 1620s
or 30s, or give evidence of having been revived then, and a number of
them include actor's names, several of them seeming to recur from play
to play. The ms. annotation of Woodstock includes three actors' names:
George, Toby, and G[]ad, the latter of which is usually interpreted as
'Grad.", but which may perhaps be read Goad. A summary of the web of
coincidence that make some scholars suspect late revival:

-- 1619<>1623?  The Two Noble Ladies [a MS Egerton 1994 play] acted by
the Red Bull Revels company. The ms. gives the in the margins actors'
names including Bond, Stutf. and Geo Stut.  The 1619<>.23 Red Bull
Revels company is also known to have included William Browne, Ellis
Worth and Richard Baxter. Although the play is usually assigned to this
Red Bull Revels company, it's not inconceivable that it may have been
performed by one of the successor Red Bull Revels companies, that of
1624-5 or that of 1625-7.

-- 1624  William Perry's successor Red Bull Revel''s company then
included Edward Toby, Thomas Bond, James Sneller [aka Kneller] and
Richard Baxter.

-- 1631  Prince Charles II company [formed from the remnants of the Red
Bull and the Fortune companies] acted Marmion's Holland's Leaguer. The
cast included Ellis Worth, William Browne, James Sneller, Henry
Gradwell, Thomas Bond and Edward May, and the company was managed by
Richard Gunnell.

-- 1632  Gunnell's Prince Charles II men who were sworn grooms of the
chamber included Worth, Browne, Sneller, Gradwell, Bond and George
Stutville [aka Stutfield].

-- n.d.   Edmund Ironside [a MS Egerton 1994 play] gives four marginal
actors' names including Mr. Gradell, Stutf, and May. This has been taken
as suggesting that Edmund Ironside was revived by Prince Charles II
company. It is not unlikely that Ironside can be identified with the
Admiral's play Knewtus [1597].

-- n.d.   Woodstock [a MS Egerton 1994 play] gives the names George
[Stutville?], [Edward?] Toby, and G[]ad [?=Grad.]. There is some
evidence that this play was revised [if not written] by Samuel Rowley,
actor/playwright with the Admiral's and their successors, c1595<>1623.

-- n.d.  It has been suggested that the MS Egerton 1994 play The Fatal
Marriage is a revision of the Admiral's play Galiaso [1595].

-- MS Egerton 1994 apparently was compiled by William Cartwright Jr, son
of Admiral's actor William Cartwright Sr [fl. 1598-1640?]; Young
Cartwright is first heard of as an actor in a company that included his
father, George Stutville and Edward May, managed by Richard Gunnell.

Needless to say this is all necessarily very tentative if only because
the evidence is fragmentary. Nevertheless, I think it can be seen from
the convergence of names, companies and theatres why some theatre
historians suspect that Woodstock's George may well be Stutville and
G[]ad may be Gradwell.  It may also be taken to suggest a Fortune
connection for Woodstock, which sorts well with Rowley's hypothetical
involvement. Michael is surely aware of this reconstruction of the
Egerton evidence, enshrined as it is in Bentely, JCS [with appropriate
caveats]. Is he being a little disingenuous when he seems to be puzzled
by my references to this hypothesis, asking "Evidence, please?"  As to
Prince Charles II company's descent from the Admiral's, presumably it
was not this part of my sentence for which he said there was not a shred
of evidence. PC2 included Andrew Cane, Richard Fowler and Matt Smith,
and was managed by Richard Gunnell. Fowler and Gunnell had been in the
Palsgraves at the Fortune by 1618, Cane joined them in 1622, and Smith
joined them by 1627 in the Fortune successor company the K & Q of
Bohemia's men.

Another fault of mine is that I sometimes write off the top of my head.
I did not specifically accuse Michael Egan of dating Woodstock on the
basis of a passage in Richard II. I did recall seeing that dating in a
previous Richard and Bolingbroke post, but not who said it. I also
recalled having seen the dating argument in more than one place over the
years, not just in A. P. Rossiter's edition. Peter Corbin and Douglas
Sedge's recent Revels edition of Thomas of Woodstock [2002] rehearses
Rossiter's argument and states "... it seems most likely that
[Woodstock's] composition is earlier than that of Richard II. It is
certainly the case that modern audiences find the basis of the quarrel
between Mowbray and Bolingbroke ... less than obvious... It is likely
that Shakespeare depended upon his audience's knowledge of Richard's
plot against Woodstock... probably from a familiarity with Thomas of
Woodstock on the stage." [p.6]. Lake also cites this argument from
Rossiter. Incidentally, Corbin and Sedge accept the probability of a
Jacobean revival of Woodstock.

Again writing off the top of my head I confused the strict substance of
David J. Lake's NQ article with my own reading of his evidence. He does
refer to Woodstock as a "revision" in the title of his note, and he says
of the early dating that "there may be some substance in it". But he
ultimately seems agnostic as to whether Rowley might be the author or
reviser. I think Lake's evidence is so strong as to suggest not just
revision, but composition on Rowely's part. He points out that the
censor's hand in the ms. appears to be that of Sir George Buc who began
licensing in 1603, and presents copious evidence for a pervasive
Rowleian texture in the play. Rowley's preferences in oaths, assurances,
contractions, connectives, and for ye, has and does over you, hath and
doth appear in significant numbers in every part of the play. It's not
just a question of the imposition of spelling preferences, or of
repunctuating, as might occur with a mere copyist. If Rowley is not the
author, he seems to have [to an undetermined extent] essentially
rewritten the play, and done so no earlier than 1600<>03.  So, if the
play has been so thoroughly rewritten, how can any particular feature be
safely assigned to the unknowable Ur-Woodstock?  Rowley probably knew of
or had seen Shakespeare's Richard II and any similarity might possibly
derive from the revision.

I haven't yet seen MacDonald Jackson's article on Woodstock, though I
will soon-- how did I miss it?! My opinion is formed only on the
evidence that Lake offers. Michael says, "Both [Lake and Jackson] are
demonstrably wrong, in part for the reasons indicated above". but no
reasons are detailed 'above', just a general assertion that "a series of
early-1590s topical references... [and] many stylistic features, both
verbal and formal, dat[e] the play from about this time. The textual and
other evidence is that the existing MS. is a copy of the original 1592-3
text made c1605."  If it's accepted that the 'Rowelian' features date
from the 1605 'copy', then much more than just copying seems to have
been done. I'll be interested to see how Lake's [and Jackson's] evidence
is dealt with, and just what Michael's evidence consists of.

Among the arguments I've seen for the early dating is that Woodstock
seems to be influenced by Shakespeare's Contention plays [c1591-2] and
Marlowe's Edward II [c1592-3], and that the style seems to be of that
period, when there was a 'fad' for history plays; that is too
end-stopped and has too many rhymes to be much later. One of the main
influences cited is that the character of Woodstock is reminiscent of
and is probably derived from Humphrey Duke of Gloucester in 2HenIV; but
then it is argued further that the character of Woodstock influenced
that of Gaunt in Richard II. Well, the direction of influence,
especially within such a relatively short span of years is notoriously
difficult to determine without more evidence than we have here. Why may
not Duke Humphrey [1592] have influenced the portrayal of Gaunt [1595]
and both of them inspired Rowley's Woodstock [1604]?  And history plays
continued to be popular past the early 1590s.  Aside from Shakespeare,
Henslowe's Diary lists many lost histories in the years just before and
after 1600. One of the Admiral's popular plays was Samuel Rowley's When
You See Me, You Know Me, a history play about Henry VIII written
1603<>05. After citing his linguistic evidence for Woodstock and When
You See Me, Lake says. "There are other similarities between the two
plays. Both are historical and somewhat sentimental plays, and both give
characterizing oaths to their leading characters... Both plays make
copious use of phrases of assurance such as I Warrant You and I Assure
You."  [He also notes some dissimilarities, such as the spelling of
'swounds and the low incidence of one of Rowley's favorite
phrase-forms.] As to the crudity of the versification, we must remember
that not everyone after 1596 wrote like Shakespeare, Chapman, Jonson,
Marston and other relatively sophisticated versifiers. We tend to read
more of the 'better' plays, and more of the cruder plays have perished.
But plenty of rougher more populist plays continued to be written for
decades for the down-market audiences-- plays such as ?Heywood's
histories 1 & 2 Edward IV [c1598-9] and, yes, around 1604, Rowley's When
You See Me.

The Revels editors list a number of 'similarities' between Woodstock and
the work of Shakespeare. However, these are rather nebulous and hardly
exclusive to Shakespeare: the humorous characters use malapropisms, the
chronicle material is used in a sophisticated manner, there is a "sure
handling of dramatic technique ... [and] the careful drawing of female
figures", and a successful mixture of court and lowlife scenes. This
kind of thing may inspire one to further investigate, but is worthless
as evidence [vide Schoenbaum].  The use of malapropisms by humorous
characters is both very widespread in the drama and pre-dates
Shakespeare. I think Woodstock is a very good play, but many good plays
were written by writers other than Shakespeare.

When is a play's author it's author? There is apparently undigested
material originally composed by Thomas Dekker to be found in Thomas
Heywood's Love's Mistress and in Aphra Behn's Abdelazer. If Woodstock
was written by, say, Shakespeare c1593 but then digested and essentially
rewritten by Rowley c1604, where then is Shakespeare's play? The
language of the play does not sound very Shakespearean to me. The Revels
editors make only a vague claim that they admit is "highly speculative".
I look forward to seeing Michael Egan's evidence and arguments for
Shakespeare's authorship of Woodstock. Perhaps the authorship argument
will appear in an article somewhere, since it must be a work of many
months or even years to produce a variorum edition?

I cannot say that I am =certain= that Woodstock was not written c1592-3,
nor that it was written c1604 by Samuel Rowley [though if not, it seems
highly likely to have been thoroughly revised by him then].  But I think
the evidence for a later origin is strong enough to throw into doubt any
certainty or assumption that it was written a decade earlier.  And so I
think care should be taken when discussing Richard II in relation to
Thomas of Woodstock.

Bill Lloyd

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