A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
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Ben Says, “Hi!”

In The Gentleman Usher, prior to the Duke staging his “amorous device,”  Medice argues that he is capable of playing the part in that device even though he is, in Vincentio’s words, “untaught…to make a speech as a pretended actor.”

Medice. My lord, away with these scholastic wits,
Lay the invention of your speech on me,
And the performance too;I’ll play my part
That you shall say, Nature yields more than Art.

Alphonso. Be’t so resolved; unartificial truth
An unfeigned passion can decipher best.

Vincentio. But ’twill be hard, my lord, for one unlearn’d.

Medice. Unlearn’d? I cry you mercy, sir; unlearn’d ?

Vincentio. I mean untaught, my lord, to make a speech
As a pretended actor, without clothes
More gracious than your doublet and your hose.
(I, i, 228-238)

For the Elizabethans, “Art” were learned skills, education if you will, as opposed to Nature, which were what you are born with.  To pursue an education to its conclusion is to become acquire a “Masters of Art” degree. Medice is all nature, and no art. Chapman’s words are echoed about twenty-one years later by Ben Jonson in the preface of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

“Yet must I not give Nature all: Thy Art,
My gentle
 Shakespeare, must enjoy a part;
For though the
 Poets matter, Nature be,
His Art doth give the fashion. And, that he,
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses anvile : turne the same,
(And himselfe with it) that he thinkes to frame;
Or for the lawrell, he may gaine a scorne,
For a good
 Poet’s made, as well as borne.”

Jonson tells us that Shake-speare was made, i.e. taught,  as well as born.  Medice specifically notes that his talent is all nature and no art.  The striking point here is Jonson is seemingly referencing Chapman.  Jonson is telling us the man who wrote the plays IS NOT the man Chapman satirized as Medice in The Gentleman Usher. Jonson is telling us that William Shakespere of Stratford is not the author of the works. It’s right there in the First Folio!

These two pieces of evidence act in support of each other. That Jonson chose to echo this passage of The Gentleman Usher provides confirmation that Rambler’s original identification of Medice as Shakespere of Stratford is likely correct. Moreover, that the Shakespere satirization is echoed by Jonson is additional evidence that Jonson’s writings in the First Folio are a carefully worded set of clues telling us who the author of the works was, and was not.

October 18, 2013   1 Comment