A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
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Posts from — May 2014

Shaksper Iscariot

Returning to Ben Jonson’s A Tale of A Tub for a post. Rambler has demonstrated over and over the use of M-B-L as a Vere marker, including various characters in plays of the day. In Tub, there’s Justice Preamble, who’s known as Bramble. Jonsons giving him two M-B-L names to make sure we don’t miss it. This lawyer/judge figure has a clerk, Miles Metaphor.  And again, Jonson is ready to hit us over the head with the obvious. In case anyone doubts that Metaphor is a metaphor for a real person, he names him Metaphor to be sure we get it. Thanks Ben, we get it! Miles Metaphor is William Shaksper of Stratford.

The following is from Act IV, sc iii, 42-51.  Basket Hilts,  Squire Tubs man is confronting Miles Metaphor. He has some unkind things to say about Miles, “thou skum of man.”

Jack of Lent

“Uncivil, orange-tawny-coated clerk”   “Uncivil orange” is a pun on Seville oranges. It’s also a reference to Shakespeare, who uses the same pun in Much Ado when Beatrice tells Claudio you’re as “civil as an orange.”  The color orange-tawny has multiple meanings here I think.  The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable saysThe ancient colour appropriated to clerks and persons of inferior condition. It was also the colour worn by the Jews. Hence Lord Bacon says, “Usurers should have orange-tawny bonnets, because they do Judaise””   The Bacon reference is from 1625.  We know Shaksper was a money-lender. But it’s not Metaphor’s hat nor beard that’s orange-tawny, it’s his coat, his livery.  Orange-tawny was the livery color of the Earls of Oxford. (See Hank Whittmore’s Reason 52) Metaphor is clerk to the earl of Oxford, Preamble, and wears his livery coat. 

“And was made of of patches, parings, shreds:” evokes Hamlet’s remark about his father “a king of shreds and patches.”  (III,iv) Perhaps Shaksper really did play Hamlet’s ghost!

“Thou, that when last thou wert put out of service,”

i,e, When you were fired from your job….

“thou didst stand six week the Jack of Lent,
for boys to hurl, three throws a penny, at thee,
To make thee a purse;”

The Jack of Lent is an effigy of Judas Iscariot that was erected at the beginning of lent, abused, and then burned before Easter, in 15th, 16th, and 17th century England.  Miles Metaphor made his purse by betraying his master after he was firedThe wiki entry for Jack O Lent is here.

 In A Tale of A Tub, Jonson is telling us exactly what happened between Shaksper and his master, the earl of Oxford. William Shaksper, like Judas before him, betrayed his lord for big sack of money.  As we shall later see, Metaphor does betray Bramble/Preamble and he does get the sack of silver in return.

“Thou skum of man,” in deed, indeed.

May 4, 2014   No Comments