Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, April 01, 1879, Page 74, Image 1

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ly Infer tlmt lie received what wo nuiy
cull u fair common school education ;
tlmt after leaving Stratford, ho passed
several years in humble circumstances,
rising at length to the position of a sue.
cessful stage manager. Hut to maintain
that the shrewd man of business who con.
trolled the Globe theatre, was the sole au
thor of the Shakespearian plays, is a t'isk
that presents many difficulties.
Can we assume that Shakespeare had
sufficient qualifications for the work of
writing these plays? That he received
more than the rudiments of an education
at the Stratford school rests on insufilc
ent grounds. A third of England's pop
illation is to-day illiterate, and at that
time the proportion was doubtless much
larger. Public libraries were then scarce,
and circulating libraries quite unknown.
And, further, boys did not commence to
attend school so soon as Ihey do now, and
Shakespeare, as we have already seen,
married at an early age. It is probable
therefore, that the facilities of the Strat
ford school were very ordinary, oven for
the sixteenth century, and that Shake
speare's school days were few in number
and soon ended. It is, moreover, under
the circumstances we have just mentioned,
a rather far-fetched argument which
would assume, that in a small village
like Stratford, there was any noteworthy
degree of culture to encourage the literary
ambition that Shakespeare is assumed to
have had.
We have said that the author of the
plays was noccssaril a man of varied and
profound acquirements; but where is the
positive proof that Shakespeare was an
accomplished scholar? If we freely ad-
mil that he was by nature a great genius,
be diillculty will not all be removed.
His portraiture ofscencs in ancient Greece
and Rome would then have been ideal
and not true to nature. Without the aid
of a vast fund of information, no one,
despite the character of his native abtlitlosi
could have entertained such broad and
comprehensive views of humaiiitv, appli.
cable to all ages, and, wo might add, to
all people, as arc embodied in the Shake
spearian plays.
IJul , it may well bo asked, why should
one try to disturb the presumptive evi
dence in favor of Shakespeare's claim?
Until within the last Ihirly years, but few
doubts were advanced. Let us illusli ate.
When a drama is acted nowadays, play
bills c distributed among the audience.
Sometimes, but not always, the author's
name is seen on them. We are often in
complete ignorance, therefore, as to what
person wrote the play wo are about to see
acted. In Shakespeare's time still less
was known. It does not appear that
playbills were circulated in the Globe
theatre, and daily newspapers, with their
dramatic columns, did not exist. If
Shakespeare wished to have the writings
considered his own, there were few. who
could question his claim.
Who then, wrote these plays if Shake
spearo did not? It is doubtful if this
question can ever bo answered. Perhaps
Bacon wrote them ; perhaps Raleigh : or,
again, they may have been the work of
several persons. Most of those who
doubt Shakespeare's claim, lean to the
opinion that Sir Francis Uacon was the
rual author. His writings teem with
thought ; so do the Shakespearian plays,
especially those of a later date. If, in
other respects, a dissimilarity of stylo Is
noticeable, the objection may be met by
the reasonable assumption that the plays
were altered to adapt them to the stage.
If Uacon wrote thoni, he eared litilu, we
may presume, as to their disposition. It
was not his forte to clothe philosophy in
the garb of fiction. II- wrote for pay,
and the prosperous stage manager would
have been a ready purchaser of his writ
ings. One more question arises; what was
Shakespeare's relation to these works if
he was not the author? He was a stage
manager merely, like those of to.day. It
was his business to find plays that would
prove popular to those who frequented