A Study of Shakespeare eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about A Study of Shakespeare.
may be sure of having the secular arm of the law on his side, implies a bitter sarcasm on the intruding official of state then established by law as occupant of a see divorced from its connection with that of the apostle.  The sense of instability natural to an institution which is compelled to rely for support on ministers who are themselves dependent on the state whose pay they draw for power to strike a blow in self-defence could hardly be better expressed than by the solemn and piteous, almost agonised asseveration; “Now, afore God, I am so vexed, that every part about me quivers.”  To Shakespeare, it cannot be doubted, the impending dissolution or dislocation of the Anglican system in “every part” by civil war and religious discord must even then have been but too ominously evident.

If further confirmation could be needed of the underlying significance of allusion traceable throughout this play, it might amply be supplied by fresh reference to the first scene in which the Nurse makes her appearance on the stage, and is checked by Lady Capulet in the full tide of affectionate regret for her lost husband.  We can well imagine Anne Boleyn cutting short the regrets of some indiscreet courtier for Sir Thomas More in the very words of the text;

   Enough of this; I pray thee, hold thy peace.

The “parlous knock” which left so big a lump upon the brow of the infant Juliet is evidently an allusion to the declaration of Elizabeth’s illegitimacy while yet in her cradle.  The seal of bastardy set upon the baby brow of

Anne Boleyn’s daughter may well be said to have “broken” it.

The counsel of the Nurse to Juliet in Act iii.  Scene 5 to forsake Romeo for Paris indicates the bias of the hierarchy in favour of Essex—­“a lovely gentleman”—­rather than of the ultra-Protestant policy of Burghley, who doubtless in the eyes of courtiers and churchmen was “a dish-clout to him.”

These were a few of the points, set down at random, which he had been enabled to verify within the limits of a single play.  They would suffice to give an idea of the process by which, when applied in detail to every one of Shakespeare’s plays, he trusted to establish the secret history and import of each, not less than the general sequence and significance of all.  Further instalments of this work would probably be issued in the forthcoming or future Transactions of the Newest Shakespeare Society; and it was confidently expected that the final monument of his research when thoroughly completed and illustrated by copious appendices, would prove as worthy as any work of mere English scholarship could hope to be of a place beside the inestimable commentaries of Gervinus, Ulrici, and the Polypseudocriticopantodapomorosophisticometricoglossematogra
phicomaniacal Company for the Confusion of Shakespeare and Diffusion of Verbiage (Unlimited).



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A Study of Shakespeare from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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