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10/30/2008 

Baldwin T. W. Shakespeare’s Small Latine And Lesse Greeke

My ultimate objective is to write on 'The Evolution of William Shakespeare' in the sense of how under the existing circumstances he worked himself out. For such an undertaking, it is necessary to know as much as possible of the formal education to which he was subjected, not only directly, but also indirectly through absorption from others. Whether or not Shakspere ever spent a single day in petty or grammar school, nonetheless petty and grammar school were a powerful shaping influence upon him, as they were, and were planned to be, upon the whole society of his day. Directly and through others these instruments would help to mould Shakspere. How much of himself did Shakspere realize from them?

This matter of Shakspere's formal training has insisted upon be-coming the theme of a series of volumes. My conscious interest in the general theme naturally goes back to at least graduate days in Princeton. When in 1931–32 a Guggenheim Fellowship, combined with sabbatical leave from the University of Illinois, enabled me to spend a year in England, I managed to complete tentatively a work upon five-act structure, which hinged upon the teaching of Terence in the grammar school. I had also by that time the necessary clues to school organization to enable me to gather materials for the whole grammar school curriculum, of which Terence was a part. This body of materials I attempted to summarize as background for that work, but the whole inevitably insisted upon being larger than that particular part. I consequently have held the five-act work until the basic one could be completed to precede and explain it. A joint grant from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Re-search Board of the University of Illinois enabled me to spend a lengthy summer in England in 1936, making a final purvey of materials for that basic work. By special action, the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois followed the unanimous recommendation of my executive superiors in granting me sabbatical leave with special conditions for 1938–39, so that I was enabled to complete the work except for final polishing barely before Hitler moved.

I had originally sketched the prerequisite petty school in a few pages of the larger work, but decided in the spring of 1941 that materials at hand warranted separate treatment. The resultant volume has now been published as William Shakspere's Petty School, preliminary to this. The work upon five-act structure (Terence) is ready to follow the present one when circumstances permit. Shakspere's use of Ovid also demands further treatment, in a work which is now in rough form. I see little prospect that I shall have time and especially opportunity in this life to pursue much further the whole question of Shakspere's rhetoric, though I hope others will do so. For this is only one series of studies; others need not be mentioned here, since they may never come to print, even though some of them have long been approximately ready.

Besides the obligations already mentioned above to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, to the American Council of Learned Societies, and to my own University of Illinois as a whole, I owe a special debt to the far-sighted policy of the Research Board of the University of Illinois under the leadership of Dean Robert D. Carmichael. It has procured funds and has taken the leadership in procuring concessions which have enabled me to carry my work thus far toward completion, some of it already into print. The Director of the University of Illinois Press, Mr. Harrison E. Cunningham, has taken a personal interest in getting these volumes decently and expertly into print, under most trying conditions. By way of explanation but not excuse, the reader is asked to remember that this work was done by men, short-handed, and under extreme tension; but they have still tried to hold to the standards of eternity. In the words of Abraham Fleming, «Other errors which remgine behind (Gentle Reader) & haue escaped the translators [author's] penile, the Compositors hand, the Correctors eye, and the Printers presse we desire thee courteously to marke and amend».

The staff of the Library of the University of Illinois, from janitors to director, have also been my generous coworkers in research through now many a year. The policy of the retired former director, Professor Phineas L. Windsor, in matching the efforts of the Re-search Board in the provision of materials has enabled me to gather for the Library such works, and thousands more, as will be found mentioned in this study. The actual burden of procuring these materials has fallen heavily upon the Librarian in Charge of Orders, my long-time faithful friend, Miss Willia K. Garver. To name all my aiders and abetters would be to list most of the senior staff since I came to live in the Library in 1925. In this connection, it is fitting that I acknowledge my debt to those colleagues who by building up the resources of the Library have provided materials for me to work upon, especially Professors William A. Oldfather, Robert F. Seybolt, and Harris F. Fletcher. In addition, Professor Fletcher has suffered a fool more or less gladly for many years as we discussed together our common background problems for Shakspere and Milton.

For two separate years on end and an enlarged summer, the British Museum was my dwelling place (even though during part of that time it searched me daily for bombs!), with intermissions at boarding house, bookshops, and Oxford, and Cambridge. The Bodleian has taken my oath of allegiance and has been a most beneficent master to me. Cambridge University Library has checked me through its turnstile with anylegitimate information I cared to take away. The American University Union (London) regularly procured access for me to various repositories of materials. For several summers I have encamped round about Huntington Library. I regret that circumstances prevented my doing the same at the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library.

Nor am I to forget the booksellers of England, among whom I must single out my particular good friend, Francis Norman, Esquire, bookseller most extraordinary, for his personal and unremunerated aid on many a problem for more than a decade, amounting to a form of collaboration. By their scars he has recognized infallibly the veterans of schoolboy wars, frequently before I had located their service records, and together we have tried to give them an understanding sympathy and permanent protection. Himself a battle-scarred veteran, may he yet find many customers far more wealthy than I!

It hardly needs to be said that my family is the chief martyr in this cause. But what can a Professor's family expect!!!

It may now be well to state here as forcibly as I can that in this particular series I have in no sense whatever written or attempted to write a history of the Petty School and of the Grammar School in the Sixteenth Century. Such history as there is forms a purely necessary background and has been selected and shaped to that function only. I have in no sense whatever written or attempted to write a book or books on Shakspere's education. I have attempted merely to present in as orderly fashion as my own nature and that of the materials would permit all the facts so far as I now know them which appear to me to have a bearing upon the question of Shakspere's formal education, and to present my own conclusions upon those facts. I have in the present work attempted to discover exactly the what, how, and why of the grammar school curriculum of Shakspere's day, and to evaluate as exactly the reflections of that curriculum in the work of Shakspere, whether he came into contact with it directly in grammar school or only indirectly from his environment as it were. It may be possible some centuries hence to write a nice little book on Shakspere's education, but such a book would be mere worthless dabble now.

Where the facts appear to me to be conclusive, I have said so; but that does not make my conclusion worth anything unless the facts justify it, and I would not consciously exert any extrinsic and dictatorial power upon any reader, if I had it. Truth is the sole and only possible objective of such work as this. And I face the judgment bar of the present and the future, exactly as I have called even the greatest of the past to the judgment bar of the present. No one of them has been wholly without the honest original sin of occasional wrong judgment, usually because of inadequate or mistaken facts. Being human (I hope!), I can myself expect no more. I trust the reader will not trouble about me anyway, either to be nasty or nice. Shakspere is the important object here, and I have only collected and arranged from the stores assembled by the great tradition what I considered to have a bearing upon a better understanding of him. If the reader prefers it some other way, that is his privilege.

Nor have I wasted any time, I hope, upon the sadistic diversion of pillorying errors, either directly or by supercilious applause. Even the greatest have been so frequently in error that it behooves none of us to gloat. I have had frequent occasion to disagree with the glorious dead. I trust they will agree that I have done so like a gentleman. If not, I beg their pardon for my manner, but not for my matter until the error be upon me proved. For that, I believe the subject is of sufficient interest to permit me to hope that I shall have the aid both of the living and of the great succession yet to come. I have tried, therefore, as much as possible to refrain also from lecturing my ancestors. They have a great deal to learn no doubt, but they are probably too old to begin now. After all, they produced among other things the Renaissance, and while we are confident that we could show them how to improve upon that a great deal, yet we have not so far found anything else in which we can approach them. So after all we had best be respectful and perhaps even a little admiring.

In my treatment of the various schools, I pray that I have not placed unholy hands upon anyone's ark-a blessing on all your houses!

Some possible phases of Shakspere's training in grammar school, such as geography, I have not examined directly, since that would have carried me still further afield, and I fear the reader is likely to agree that I have gone at least far enough already. After all, the present work is only a sketch of a few main roads; the by-paths have not even been sketched.

Perhaps a word should be said on one point of method. Since the question of parallels is certain to arise in connection with the evidence upon Shakspere's ultimate Latin and Greek sources, I wish to point out specifically that I have not consciously based any conclusion on mere parallels as such. Instead, I have first attempted to put Shakspere's statement into its total pertinent contemporary back-ground, in order to determine the focus of infection.

Once we know that, it is then possible to get some judgment as to whether the focus is proximate to Shakspere or merely ultimate. The difficulty here is that Elizabethans cut so closely over the patterns of each other in their imitations of the classics that frequently they did not realize Brinsley's hope that there would be no apparent stealing. But at least we can eventually locate in this way the major foci of infection, as Professor Root has done for Shakspere's mythology. Then we can bring our microscopes to bear. Once the ultimate source of infection is determined, the problem then becomes one simply of relationships, as in manuscripts. The chief difficulty will be to determine whether there is a missing step or steps in our progression. But where Shakspere repeatedly approaches the original, as in the case of Ovid, or Virgil, it becomes certain that he has used the original in several cases, even though we could not be certain about any one of the individual cases. For our present purpose, the ultimate sources are the important ones anyway, since they show the chief incidences of effect from the Renaissance system upon Shakspere, whether he came directly in contact in grammar school or indirectly through imbibing from his contemporaries. If, therefore, anyone criticizes from the point of view of mere parallels, he has simply failed to grasp the argument. I may add that since imperfect summary and inadequate quotation have caused many, perhaps most errors in the past, I have ordinarily permitted even John Brinsley to end his part in peace, though my fingers frequently itch to throttle him; consequently, I shall take it 'll if I am blamed for his inability to come to the point. There is, of course, nothing new or particularly difficult about this general method of procedure. The astronomers are patiently succeeding in the numbering and the description of the stars in the heavens. It would be no great undertaking to number the hairs on the most well-furnished head. The sands of the seashore could be catalogued if the human race wished it so. After all, results obtained are always relatively unimportant; the really important thing is the human satisfaction from the results obtained. So long as man is man, the universe can never be centered elsewhere than in him. That, Shakspere and his humanistic contemporaries knew; that some of our «scientific» contemporaries appear frequently not to realize.

In the matter of references, I have done as I would be done by. At the first reference to a work, I have given fairly full, though not necessarily complete, information, my purpose being identification only. Thereafter I have abbreviated to significant words. If the reader does not understand the abbreviated form, he may turn to the proper place of author or title in the Bibliographical Index and be referred to the first occurrence, where I have given the fuller information. Since the chief processes of school work head up into chapters so that they can easily be located and many of them are connected with names besides, I have thought that the best index would be a complete concordance of all names of persons, and of all significant places in the text, with some additions from the notes. I have ordinarily kept the Latin form of names of persons, since that is the form by which these men were universally known, unless the name has been anglicized. Very few will need any other form, and those who do ought already to know what it is. Usually, but not always, all titles of books have been normalized and placed under authors. Shakspere, of course, demands separate sections for his plays and characters. The index has been carried out by Mrs. Helen Davis, of the University of Illinois Press, on my foundations and under my direction.

For old and rare books, I have frequently indicated at the first reference what copy I have used, since such copies may vary and are likely also to be difficult to locate. Where I have not given location for the copy, it will be found usually in the British Museum, the Huntington Library, or the Library of the University of Illinois, if it is not merely personal. Ordinarily, however, I shall have checked my quotations from important rare books against more than one copy, where more than one exists. It has not been possible to check in print quite all my materials to originals or facsimiles; but since it was evident by the summer of 1936 that war was only a question of no long time, I checked my manuscript itself with considerable care, so that I hope errors are mostly merely literal. I can make no pretence to accuracy; but I have expended a great deal of labor in being as accurate as my nature and the conditioning circumstances have permitted. I have not spared myself; I see no reason, therefore, why I should spare the reader, for after all there is no law compelling him to read this. There is no royal road to learning; neither a democratic one; merely one long, hard, grinding way for king and commoner alike. But it is for the individual to decide whether he will walk patiently therein.

And now that my acknowledgments are at least partially made, I wonder what is left for me! Mostly the errors, I fear. Whether those be of omission or of commission, of judgment or of fact, I must acknowledge them as ill-favored things but mine own.

The evidence appears to be conclusive that Shakspere had such knowledge and techniques as grammar school was calculated to give. We have no direct evidence that he ever attended any grammar school a single day. Rowe was probably merely reporting an inference when in i7og he said, «His Father…, had bred him, 'tis true, for some time at a Free-School [1]«. But the inference is an inevitable one, amounting almost to certainty. Those nearest the time either knew or assumed that Shakspere had attended the grammar school at Stratford. It is reasonably certain that he did attend school there for some period of time. The internal evidence and such external evidence as survives conspire together to indicate that Shakspere pretty certainly had at Stratford the benefits of the complete grammar school curriculum. Nor do we know on direct evidence what the grammar school curriculum at Stratford was. But since there were certain standard requirements for schools of the type, we do know with sufficient ac-curacy for our purposes what was taught these and how it was taught, even though we do not know on direct evidence who taught Shakspere there or by what pedagogical methods. And we do know that Shakspere exhibits in his work such knowledge and techniques as he was supposed to acquire in a standard grammar school of his day, such as was that at Stratford. Most important of all, if Shakspere had this grammar school training, he had the only formal literary training provided by society in his day. University training was professional, with literary training only incidental and subsidiary. For instance, Ascham proposed in his program of studies for grammar school not to leave the boy vntill I haue brought him a per6te Scholer out of the Schole, and placed him in the Uniuersitie, to becum a fitte student, for Logicke and Rhetoricke: and so after to Phisicke, Law, or Diuinitie, as aptnes of nature, aduise of frendes, and Gods disposition shall lead him[2]. He was, therefore, concerned because Learning is, both hindred and iniured to, by the ill choice of them, that send young scholers to the vniuersities. Of whom must nedes cum 0 oure Diuines, Lawyers, and Physicions[3].

The reader well remember how Marlowe's Faustus as a Doctor of Theology surveys knowledge, first considering logic, the basis of all knowledge, then the consequent professions of physic, law, and divinity; and after the survey decides for magic. Mulcaster sums up the underlying philosophy of the system thus.

As for the qualities of the minde, whether theie tech vertewousnesse in lining, or skilfulnesse in learning, as arts, sciences, professions, or whatsoeuer else, by whatsoever term or title else, do theie not euerie one most apparentlie procede from reading and writing, as from their naturall principles, the one for deliuerie, the other for receit? whether theie trauell in language for it self, wherein grammer, rhetorik, logik, and their deriuatiues clame interest, or shew knowledge by language in anie other facultie. Where vnder be contained in generall terms, all the parts ofphilosophie both morall and naturall, the thre professions diuinitie, law, physik, all the branches of them all, all the ofsprings of ech, whose instrument speche is[4].

The grammar school gave the linguistic basis of grammar, rhetoric, and logic, The university perfected the logic, together with some rhetoric and made the application to the professions of physic, law, and divinity. The universities were professional schools.

If William Shakspere had the grammar school training of his day-or its equivalent he had as good a formal literary training as had any of his contemporaries. At least, no miracles are required to ac-count for such knowledge and techniques from the classics as he exhibits. Stratford grammar school will furnish all that is required. The miracle lies elsewhere; it is the world-old miracle of genius.

By this time the reader should see that it is of no importance at all whether Shakspere did or did not complete grammar school. Erasmus and men of his mind planned a Reformation-Renaissance. Grammar school to them was only one instrument toward this end, not an end in itself. This instrument was to aid in shaping society in certain ways. We have been checking the degree to which Shakspere could and did use this instrument. It snakes no difference whatever whether he learned to use it in grammar school or out. It is this fact which we so frequently overlook in connection with «self-made» men. They have simply had less formal guidance than usual in ac-cumulating the accrued background of the race in their particular field of endeavor. The important thing is that the background is there and that they have managed to assimilate such part of it as they could use.

For one who is dead and done for, it is also idle to argue whether he would have been greater if he had assimilated more of some particular matter which the given critic happens to think is the greatest thing on earth. Nothing can be done about that now. And if the critic «knows a better hole», let him use it himself.

The important thing is that grammar school was calculated as a chief instrument in helping to produce and shape a Reformation-Renaissance, and in connection with other instruments did produce one, though not quite the one which was planned. This particular instrument supplied many things which Shakspere has woven into beautiful fabric. It is relatively unimportant whether Shakspere became acquainted with these materials through formal drill in grammar school or whether he merely absorbed them from the air. It would have been infinitely easier for him to get them by systematic drill in grammar school, even though he was there forced to acquire also a great deal-a vastly greater deal — for which he never found use. Who of us could predict anyway for what we shall find use? Our best guess goes no further than classes of material which accumulated experience shows on the average to have been most useful. It is the individual himself who out of past accumulation and the present situation must create that unceasing future which even at creation becomes a part of the seamless past.

I believe the accumulated evidence indicates that Shakspere did have a complete grammar school training. But I do not believe that this fact is in itself of any importance. It is of importance, however, to see how such materials and especially such methods as the boy should have acquired did finally play their part in enabling the man to realize himself. From the combined labors of the great tradition of Shaksperean scholars, we have assembled a great many instances of the ways in which Shakspere has transmuted into something new and strange materials which he should have acquired in grammar school, and that by methods which he should there have learned. And in the light of what we have learned from the past, it is to be hoped that the future will greatly enlarge our knowledge.

For the present work makes only a beginning. It gathers the fossil remains, and shows that they conform to the pattern of a skeleton. But it may not even give a sufficiently complete idea of the skeleton itself. Much less of the flesh and blood which clothed the skeleton. Less still of the soul which once was all in all and all in every part. Yet it does throw some fight upon the soul itself of the man Shakspere. We of the present peer into the glass darkly in the hope and belief that the future may see somewhat more nearly face to face.

But our facts will not yet permit sweeping generalizations about influences. Here we can at most establish tendencies. We can see the tendencies of the system as a whole. We can see Shakspere reacting with and against some of those tendencies. But most other institutions of the time were shaped in accordance with the same social view and so would reinforce the tendencies of the grammar school program. It is thus frequently, if not usually, impossible to know how to apportion the praise or blame to each of these institutions. In this study, we have placed Shakspere against the background of grammar school teaching. In some instances, it is certain that Shakspere had his information or his point of view from grammar school. In the vast majority of cases, we know only that he was sup-posed to get it there. This is true even of the tangible facts and methods. Even less certain can we be of the intangibles, which are really the important things. But from the tangible fossils we can get a fair idea of the tangible skeleton, less indeed of the flesh and blood, yet even sorne insight of the soul itself. And whether we like it or not, we have not yet devised any other method of approach-for intuition, whatever its form and whatever its efficacy, is not a method.

Our tangible question thus becomes, «What did Shakspere find useful in grammar school knowledge, whether he acquired that knowledge in grammar school or out?» But before we begin to answer that question one fallacy of the ages should be cleared away at once. It is really pathetic to see how the Pseudo-Classic apologists for lack-Latin Shakspere in the eighteenth century assumed that Shakspere could not possibly have had any less abject regard for the so-called classical rules than they, had he only known them. Ignorance was the only tolerable excuse of which they could conceive. But such an excuse cannot possibly be accepted, for Shakspere certainly knew many of these dicta and wilfully refused to observe them save when it pleased him so to do. The freshly canonized unities of Shakspere's day will serve as well for illustration as anything else, since they came to be worshipped almost, if not quite, as the supreme deity in the dramatic heaven. As early as The Comedy of Errors Shakspere observes these unities consciously[5]. He was adapting Latin plays, and I under the circumstances it was the easiest thing for him to do. -But had he been ignorant of them he could neither have recognized the rudimentary form of them nor have developed them into his own exceedingly complicated adaptation. As early as The Comedy of Errors Shakspere knew the unities, and so far as I know, handled them at least as skillfully as any of his contemporaries.

Nor had Shakspere forgotten his skill when he came to write his last complete play, The Tempest. There again, for some reason, he chose to use and to emphasize the unities in such a way as to show that he is fully conscious of what he is doing. And we approve whole-heartedly of what he has done as right. But in the intervening years between The Comedy and The Tempest he has only occasionally approached the unities. Whatever his reason for using the unities or not using them, certainly ignorance is not that reason.

And the unities are merely one illustration. The reader will re-member other instances, covering perhaps A the other fundamental neo-classical positions in so far as they had been attained in Shakspere's day. Shakspere's failure to make more use of these is not due to ignorance of the law, but to wilful disobedience. Nor was he unadmonished as to his sins. Robert Greene had in 1592 called the public attention to some of the willful misdeeds of this scene-shaking Johannes Factotum. And the chief result was that Shakescene boasted of his unrepentance. He appealed to Nature wholly, not to Art at all. For this apposition, Shakspere was himself chiefly responsible; Janson and his predecessors and followers merely accepted and emphasized it. Had Shakspere really wanted greater classical scholarship, he was not too old in 1592 at twenty-eight to have improved his technical knowledge greatly. At least, there were the translations into English which by diligent search he might have found and purchased.

But we have no absolutely conclusive external proof, so far as I know, that he ever owned a book of any kind[6]. It is easy enough to find books once owned by Ben Jonson. Had Shakspere purchased books as ardently as he did certain other forms of real property, we should certainly have more trace of his activities in that way. But we do not need to put the case on externalities. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And scholars have been unanimous, I believe, that Shakspere used his classics more in early years, but progressively less with time. While I doubt that so broad a statement is quite accurate, yet the statement may stand till some study has been made which is competent to show in what respects and directions Shakspere did evolve. But granting that it was Shakspere's first period before 1595 in which he makes greatest use of his gram-mar school classics, that is quite the expected thing. For it is also to the same period that the greater number of his revised or collaborated plays belongs. Further, the ideals of the earlier dramatists who originally wrote or collaborated on these plays were also more strongly classical than those of later dramatists. The atmosphere in which Shakspere wrote his earlier plays would tend to elicit more of such classical knowledge as he had than was true later. As a matter of fact, however, it can be shown that Shakspere did continue upon occasion to improve his knowledge of some things classical, Ovid, for instance, though there is no trace of systematic study. But whether Shakspere improved his knowledge of the classics in any respect or not, at least by common consent he made progressively less use of them. Not only did he not strive to improve his knowledge generally, but much of the knowledge which he is known to have had was permitted to «fast unused». Ignorance was no excuse; and there was no excuse for ignorance. Wilfully, Shakspere «sought his own salvation». He made no excuse; no one should be permitted to make excuse for him.

Instead of arguing about what Shakspere ought to have found useful in the classics, we shall doubtless be better employed in attempting to find out what Shakspere did find useful in them. Nor will it do any good to try to orient him on some modern scholar's idea of what Aristotle thought. If Shakspere ever heard of Aristotle, it was the Aristotle of his own age, not that of Greece, still Iess that of the latest expert. We must find out what Shakspere's age thought the classics were and then attempt to find out what use Shakspere found for the classics as he knew them.

At present, we can do no more than sketch-in a few points and hope that the future will find the sketch worth completing. We have seen that lower grammar school aimed to teach the boy grammatical Latin and that upper grammar school aimed to use the classics so to teach rhetoric (including Iogic) and poetic as to increase morality. The moral view we need not emphasize here; of it, we have no doubt seen instances enough. But we may notice briefly some facts concerning the grammar and rhetoric.

As to the efficacy of the grammar, I know nothing directly or in-directly to indicate any outstanding proficiency which Shakspere may have attained in the writing of grammatical Latin. If he had the ability, he appears to have found little or no use for it. Yet even so, love's labor was not lost. For we must never forget Dr. Samuel Johnson's fundamental remark, «I always said Shakspeare had Latin enough to grammaticise his English[7]. It was through his Latin that Shakspere learned to grammaticize his English — so did I. This fundamental observation of Dr. Johnson's has implications which need no summary here, if the reader has followed the chapters on lower grammar school. The Latin grammar and vocabulary have given firmness to Shakspere's English style, but have not warped it into a pedantic Latin mould. They furnished materials and methods; they did not make it. Nor can the story be fully presented by tables of statistics as to the percentage of Latin words in Shakspere's vocabulary, Latin constructions, etc. The best method is to read the English and Latin of his time till one has a feeling for these shades of difference-provided one has the ability to distinguish in the first place. For one may be better employed than in attempting to train a cripple to win a race, or a blind man to distinguish colors.

As to Shakspere's rhetoric, a fundamental fact to remember here is that, he was already a competent rhetorician when he began writing plays. It is a matter of common knowledge and common consent that these early plays show a striving for rhetorical effect. As a matter of fact, however, Shakspere's last plays are even more artful rhetorically than his first. But he has finally so harmonized form and content that we no longer notice the rhetoric, so natural and inevitable does it seem. The total effect of Shakspere's rhetoric thus forms an exact parallel to his use of mythology. As Professor -Root shows, Shakspere's earlier use of mythological details is predominantly serious. Then it shades off through jocularity to a less frequent use. That is, all these items of Shakspere's learning become progressively with maturity a means to an end, not an end in themselves. This is merely another sign of progressive mastery.

It is clear also that while Shakspere was already a competent rhetorician when he began writing, yet he continued a vivid interest in the technical art of his profession. When Lazarus Pyott's translation, The Orator, was published in 1396, a copy came to Shakspere's hands almost immediately. Such a straw indicates the wind of Shakspere's rhetorical interests. Shakspere has also been suspected of having a knowledge of the two rhetorical works of Fraunce published in 1588, as well as of Puttenham's, 1589, but the evidence does not seem to me conclusive. No sufficient study has yet been made of those rhetorical works which were newly published in Latin to indicate whether Shakspere had or had not also used them. There would have been no real reason for his interest in them, since they merely re-presented in variant pedagogical methods the old materials, and Shakspere obviously had no overwhelming interest in pedagogical methods as such. For the English works, his interest was in suggestions to be derived from the illustrations. These works had to trans-pose the illustrations into English and so might make original suggestions, while the illustrations in the Latin works had long been stereotyped and traditional.

Thus it is at least clear that after he began writing, Shakspere retained an interest in technical rhetoric and at least to some slight degree sought further to perfect himself in knowledge and practice of it. It would have been possible for him to take tutoring in rhetoric as Jonson did under Hoskins[8], but we have no indication that Shakspere did anything so strenuous. While, therefore, Shakspere did continue interest in the technicalities of rhetoric, and while he might very readily have tutored in the subject, yet the obvious and admitted fact remains that Shakspere was already a competent rhetorician when he began to write plays. At latest, this was 1591, when he was twenty-seven. I believe the evidence is now clear that Shakspere began to write by 1588, when he was twenty-four. Whence had Shakspere acquired this previous competence?

Another important fact to notice is that Shakspere's rhetorical knowledge is not a matter of chips and whetstones, fragments from non-descript sources. Such fragments Shakspere does pick up, but he uses them in the light of a knowledge of the rhetorical system to which they belong. This is the kind of evidence Dr. Farmer had in mind when he argued that Shakspere was not a learned man and compared him with Locke who was and Taylor, the water-poet, who was not. Obviously Shakspere was not a learned man in the sense that Locke was. That, however, would not mean that Shakspere did not have considerable learning. Just as obviously Shakspere was much more learned rhetorically than Taylor. For I have read Taylor (I have somewhere detailed notes to prove it), and while he does flourish an occasional rhetorical trick his borrowed feathers are only stuck on. I daresay that one would not be able to piece together from him the fundamentals of the current rhetorical system, with masterly criticism thereof, as we have done for Shakspere. Shakspere knew not merely rhetorical details; he already had a very competent grasp upon the rhetorical system when he came to write.

Further, the rhetorical system is that of the grammar schools, and as a system, stops there. Not only is it the grammar school system, but it is frequently given consciously the proper grammar school setting. An important illustration here is in Love's Labor's Lost. The young men are going to found an academy, a university course, but from their antics we get no feet of what university was like. Shakspere did not know. The same is true of the university background in The Shrew, though Shakspere may not originally have been responsible for these scenes. As a matter of fact, the young men are really acting as tutors, while one of them is supposed to be attending university. But for petty and grammar school we have found a different story. In Love's Labor's Lost, Holofernes is labeled as a schoolmaster and acts the part in realistic detail. Seeing or reading a presentation of a pedant--Italian, English, or what not — could have given Shakspere some suggestions for, and the desire to present, such a figure; but it could not have enabled him to put it into the concrete. Only an intimate knowledge of schoolways could have enabled Shakspere to present such a living pedant as is Holofernes. Similarly, Moth is labeled as a schoolboy, and though he is also one of Lyly's pert pages, he nevertheless displays grammar school routines far more concretely than Lyly's pages ever do. Armada is a braggart it is true, but he. is labeled as a thrasonical braggart-from Terence, a basic grammar school author. And when Armada's rhetorical tricks have eventually been worked out they will be found to be only grammar school tricks. It is not necessary here to go on summarizing these facts, since our whole picture of Shakspere's training has been de-rived from them.

We ought, however, to notice incidentally the nature of the evidence we have used. For the most part it has been jocular, since Shakspere seldom points out when he is making serious use of these devices. But it happens that we can now balance Hamlet against Love's Labor's Lost. For Shakspere consciously presents Hamlet as a scholar from Wittenberg. Hamlet turns to a book to enable him to give some voice to the corruptions of this world, and the book proves to be juvenal. Again Hamlet turns to a book as he meditates escape from it all, and this time the book is Cicero's Tusculan Disputations. As he meditates upon his own lack of ability to give vent to his grief when every actor can do so, he is echoing Quintilian. He engages in a long and rather abstruse rhetorical bout with Osric, etc. Consciously, Shakspere has presented Hamlet as a university student. But each time, it is the knowledge of a learned grammarian which is displayed. The same is true of the artful Polonius in his meticulous use of the rules he had learned from 4d Herenniurn in grammar school. Shakspere has exerted his grammar school training in rhetoric and poetic to its fullest in his presentation of the university and court background for Hamlet. And Gabriel Harvey, one of the greatest of contemporary pedants certainly, but also one of the most skilled rhetoricians, has this to say, «his Lucrece, & his tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, haue it in them, to please the wiser sort.» On the two works where he has most exerted it, Shakspere's training passed the test. And now we hope it was not the Player King's opening speech which Harvey so much admired!

It is also pertinent to ask ourselves from what other dramatist we could have procured so full a reflection of the English grammar school as we have found in Shakspere. A few surviving plays of those written between the beginning of Tudor times and 1642 may have escaped my attention, but most of them I have read and many of these have examined classes upon repeatedly for a longer time than I like to realize. And among all these dramatists I do not know one who in this respect could equal Shakspere; certainly not Shirley, who was a known schoolm aster[9]. As Redford presents Ignorancy trying to learn to spell his name, we know that somewhere behind that portrait is ruefully humorous experience. Lyly's pages occasionally indulge in a school technicality, but not more than is necessary for characterization and for an outlet to Lyly's ornate style. Lyly's interest in and knowledge of them as schoolboys is quite superficial, even though these pages evidently suggested Shakspere's schoolfolk. Jonson is a pedantic scholar, but he is not interested in school as such. Only occasionally do we get some glimpse of what happened when he was studying Terence in the third form at Westminster. And so we might go on. In fact, then, Shakspere is in this sense the schoolmaster among dramatists, whether he ever attended or taught school or not.

When we put all these facts together, we have a significant chain. Shakspere was already a competent rhetorician when he began writing plays about twenty-four, certainly by twenty-seven. He displays a grasp upon a rhetorical system, not merely upon chance rhetorical details. The ultimate origins and sometimes the proximate origins for items in his system are from the group of textbooks used to inculcate the rhetorical system in grammar schools. And these items are frequently presented in their proper school back-ground with living realism. Shakspere in fact knew how rhetoric and other subjects were taught in grammar school, whether or not he himself had ever studied or taught these subjects there. Since Stratford had a standard grammar school, which it is usually admitted that Shakspere attended at least for a time, there should be no mystery here. It ought to be obvious that Shakspere was taught the conventional grammar school subjects, including rhetoric, in grammar school.' His knowledge of the complete system of rhetoric should mean that he had completed grammar school.

If in addition, we permit Shakspere to teach for a time before he began writing plays, as one who certainly should have known is alleged to have said that he did, then all mystery concerning the considerable rhetorical stock in trade with which Shakspere begins writing is removed. And some such explanation of Shakspere's technical information is obligatory. One does not acquire such knowledge and proficiency by inheritance, inspiration, transcendentalism, etc., etc. This is Art, not Nature. Critics may conceivably be forgiven for overlooking this fundamental fact, but schoolmasters cannot, for their very excuse for existence depends upon it.

When we have made a sufficient study of the technicalities of Shakspere's poetics, doubtless we shall have similar conclusions to draw there as for the rhetoric. The technical mechanics, however, are not the heart of the mystery here, but the whole question of what constituted William Shakspere a poet-what ever constitutes anyone a poet. This question we must also lay aside, but before we do so we can already point out some conclusions of importance. The influence of Ovid has been so patent that few have been sufficiently blind not to see it. The general ways and means by which Ovid was first brought to bear on Shakspere are now clear. Also it is possible to show in considerable detail, though there is not room for it here, how Shakspere used this technical training upon Ovid to acquire some-thing far higher than technicalities-something of his inmost self which be found in Ovid's inmost self. Such a description we can give. But description is not explanation, as unfortunately most people seem to assume. We can describe many things exceedingly well; but so far as I know we can explain nothing. We can, however, accumulate our descriptive instances and hope that eventually we may find the explanation of something, even though it be but the «flower in the crannied wall». We have in this study been able to describe many instances of the workings of a poetic mind upon classical materials. It is relatively unimportant, after all whose mind; it is the golden transmutation which counts. But what other poetic mind would or could have worked in exactly this way?

As we turn to the mechanics of grammar school, one very significant fact is now clear. The authors from whom Shakspere's knowledge of classical matters derives are grammar school authors. Whether Shakspere got the knowledge of them in school or out, whether in original or in translation, that fact must remain significant.

It is significant also that Shakspere's knowledge of these Latin authors is so frequently colored by the commentaries in current editions; the Plautus and Horace of Lambinus, probably the Terence and Virgil of Willichius, the Pliny of Dalecampius, etc. He does not weigh all the abstruse commentaries and then decide upon the most difficult and erudite interpretation. He simply uses the most readily accessible standard summary of his day. Certainly he is no pedant; certainly in the usual sense he is no scholar. If this knowledge was thrust upon him in grammar school, it would be collected from such editions. If it was achieved from others, then again the majority of them would have had most of their knowledge thrust upon them from such editions. Certainly he was not born with such knowledge. Shakspere was not in any usual sense a scholar. Whether acquired directly or by absorption, from the air, Shakspere's knowledge of the Latin background reflects clearly the grammar school level of his day. The classical reading displayed in his work is that of a grammar school boy, wherever and however it was acquired. For most purposes, it is of no importance whether it was acquired in or out of school. This is one place where almost any parallel is of some value. Grammar school parallels ought, therefore, to be fully gathered. But it is now reasonably clear, I believe, that a good part of Shakspere's grammar school reading was acquired in grammar school. Nor is there any good reason to believe that all of his grammar school reading was not acquired where it should have been-in grammar school. Before we can claim full certainty, however, on many points we need to study more fully the contemporary grammar school, with the texts and methods used therein. Here I have attempted merely to indicate the most satisfactory method of approach; not at all to present such a definitive study.

The now apparent fact that the knowledge of the classics displayed in the plays attributed to Shakspere is that of a «Iearned grammarian» has an important bearing in other respects. It very effectually rules out any candidate for authorship who was technically much more learned than that. The knowledge displayed in the plays corresponds too well to the knowledge tradition has assigned Shakspere to permit of doubt about that. For it should be noticed that this conception of Shakspere's education is only the time-honored one. It is only what Sir Philip Sidney expects the man to keep of what the boy took away from grammar school; who is it that ever was a scholler, that doth not carry away some verses of Virgill, Horace, or Cato, which in his youth he learned, and even to his old age serve him for howrely lessons[10]?

It has always been admitted by competent opinion that Shakspere's education was a «trivial» one. But exactly because it was a trivial one it was perhaps best adapted to the doing of trivial things---such as writing immortal plays.

It may not be amiss here also to emphasize the fact that it was the business of grammar school to furnish the fundamental literary training of the day, not that of university. University training was then professional training, and only incidentally continued liberal or literary training. Sir Francis Bacon complained amongst so many great foundations of colleges in Europe, I find it strange that they are all dedicated to professions, and none left free to arts and sciences at large[11].

There was not at that time even an alleged College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The nearest thing to it was the upper half of grammar school, with its emphasis upon literature. If Shakspere had a grammar school education, he had the nearest thing to a liberal education then available. So if Shakspere found even grammar school thus bad, what would he have thought of university[12]! Not merely the actual one, but especially the ideal university of Bacon's dreams!

Thus we may economize on Shakspere's time and our own imaginations by permitting him to get his smattering of all these things at Stratford grammar school, where he ought to have had them. It is not only not necessary, but also absurd to have Shakspere pick up this information from a multitude of sources scattered all over Europe. For this process would assume exactly what its proponents would deny; namely, that Shakspere was a bookish reader in many languages. It is much more sensible to let Shakspere acquire in gram-mar school the «small Latine, and lesse Greene» with which Ben Jonson endowed him. It accounts quite satisfactorily for Shakspere's scholarly acquirements. Nothing which has been observed so far would indicate that these acquirements were anything more than the smattering supposed to be absorbed by the ordinary «well-beaten, learned-grammarian.» I know of no evidence to justify the conviction of Collins that Shakspere's «knowledge of the classics both of Greece and Rome was remarkably extensive»[13]. Remarkably extensive it may appear to us, but so far as I can find it was only that of a grammar school graduate who had an interest in the literary side of certain Latin classics. He might indeed through Latin translation have known some Greek literature; but I know of no evidence that he did. When I see what those of his time who did know Greek literature usually thought it was, I rather suspect we may be thankful that Shakspere escaped.

As we take the broader view upon these authors, certain facts are significant. No writer of Latin prose left any notable impress on Shakspere. Tully himself seems hardly to have left a trace. At least scholars have not yet found any conclusive instance of influence. The hook-nosed fellow of Rome made some impression as a man rather than as a stylist, and finally procured for himself part of a play-in which Cicero is merely reported to have spoken Greek and consequently no one understood him. Latin as Latin had no appeal for Shakspere.

The poets had somewhat better luck with him. But here a significant division also appears. The «scholarly» poets impressed him for the most part only in the well worn commonplaces upon which society insisted with damnable iteration. These «flowers» were excerpted and drilled in by the masters so that «polite» society might not be disappointed in their product, and their product became «polite» society, in its turn to insist. That vicious circle still exists. For grammar school, Lambinus gives us an excellent list of the «scholarly» poets, together with the clue as to why they were considered scholarly.

Non improbat Horatius imitationem, neque simpliciter reprehendit irnitatotes. Nam M. Tullius Demosthenem, & Isocratem imitatus est: Virgilius Homerum, Theocrituln, Hesiodum: ipse Horatius Alcaeum, Pindarum, Sapphonem, Archilocum, Simonidem, Stesichorum, Anacreotem, ceteros. sed cos imitatores insectatur, atque exagitat, qui nimis seruiunt imitationi, nec quicquam audent ab co, quern sibi proposuerunt imitadum, discedere, &, quod deterrimum est, vitiosissima quaeq; aemulantur. duo sunt igitur peccata stultoru imitatorum, quae his duobus nominibus, seruum pecans, vt opinor, signiflcantur: vnurn, quod nimis religiose, &, paene dicam, seruiliter imitantur: alterum, quod ita tardi sunt, & hebetes, & peruersi, vt eorum, quorum similes esse, aut haberi volunt, vitia pro virtutibus imitentur: in quo pecudum similes esse, id est, communi sensu, & iudicio carere videntur[14].

Tully, Virgil, and Horace enabled scholars to parade their Greek in the service of the fundamental doctrine of imitation. In their imitations Shakspere had no interest. He did not care greatly for their Latin, and he cared less that they were said to have procured it by imitation from the Greek. So the long and loving notes which commentators lavished upon this phase of the poets find no echo in Shakspere. It was not the scholarly Virgil and Horace who appealed to Shakspere, nor Virgil and Horace in their scholarly phases, but the unscholarly and original Ovid, and Virgil and Horace in their unscholarly moments.

This noble Virgile / like to a good norise / giueth to a childe / if he wyll take it / euery thinge apte for his witte and capacitie. wherfore he is in the ordre of lernyng to be preferred before any other autor latine said Sir Thomas Elyot[15].

For the elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of poesy, caret. Ovidius Naso was the man: and why, indeed, Naso, but for smelling out the odoriferous flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention? Imitari is nothing, said Shakspere through Holofernes[16].

Latin and Greek as such had no appeal to Shakspere; clearly, they were thrust upon him. He had indeed but small Latin and less Greek, and even that small was no great fault of his own.

And yet through his small Latin and less Greek Shakspere grasped some things which were vital to him and which in his day were not available in any other way. Here he procured his fundamental knowledge of rhetoric; literary construction and literary criticism. Much of this rhetoric he found pedantic, «scholarly,» and useless except for comic purposes. But he was forced to learn how the best preceding masters were said to have constructed their masterpieces, and by trial and error he found which of these devices were of use to him. The useful he used, not according to the rules, but according to his own pragmatic habit. If it proved useful, well; if not, why trouble? And he found one practitioner after his own heart, Ovid. Ovid Shakspere absorbed, and imitated, not by rule, but by exudation. Yet a knowledge of the rules had itself enabled him to absorb Ovid so thoroughly and in this peculiar way. Shakspere himself would have minimized the influence of the rules, would probably have denied that there was any influence. And yet it must be clear that this formal training did play a vital role in the genesis of his literary ability. It was only a part of the meat indeed upon which our Shakspere fed that he did grow so great but it was meat.

Shakspere shows that he had mastered, and could and did use all the fundamental grammar school techniques. These tools were his to use. Whatever they could enable him to do, that was possible for him. As a matter of fact, he was remarkable in his ability to use some of these tools. The grammar school at least put them into his hands and taught him the elementary use of them. That was a service of fundamental importance. If, therefore, we are to understand Shakspere's processes of work, we must investigate these grammar school methods much more fully than yet we have done.

But apart from and above all the technicalities, the grammar school gave Shakspere at least an elementary grasp upon the fundamental doctrine and method of literary composition in his day, the theory and practice of imitation. Whatever the sixteenth century was, intentionally original it was never. Its avowed philosophy and conscious practice was through imitation so to analyze the old that by imitative synthesis the old might be reincarnated in the new. It was truly the Renaissance. But so wide was the gap between the new and the old that seldom did the new wine remain long in the old bottles. Indeed, we looking back upon the process frequently deny that the new wine ever came near the old bottles at all; but the sixteenth century thought so at least, and only by retracing the stages of their thought and work can we understand why and how they believed they had succeeded. Their actual originality was thus an undesired accident, and they would hardly take kindly to our praise of them for that quality. An original was, «God bless us, a thing of naught[« Their originality they obtained through adaptation by imitation. With our romantic theories of originality by transcendental inspiration, have we yet succeeded nearly so well?

We have seen that Shakspere knows this doctrine of his age, and upon occasion uses it. But here one interesting and fundamentally important observation should be made. One feels as he reads that Shakspere has usually taken from these authors things which are inevitably characteristic of himself, rather than of them. If one looks for more of the same kind of material, he does not find it. One can demonstrate this fact only by reading for himself in detail. But having read he will know that Shakspere did not borrow from these authors; he found bits of himself there and claimed them. Whatever materials may have been drilled into the boy, the man used only his own.

And here is the paradox, which Shakspere shares with his age. Shakspere never originated anything; literary types, verse forms, plots, etc., etc. And yet he is one of the most original authors who has ever lived. It is time that we quit befuddling ourselves with the abstract terminology of literary criticism, and think only in terms of the actualities which these terms when correctly applied shadow forth. Here in training, sources, influences, etc. is merely the meat on which our Caesar fed that he did grow so great. But how came he to be Caesar that he might feed thus and only so? Shakspere borrowed nothing; he found only himself. But how did he know him-self when found? How did he come to be himself? His contemporaries said Nature. But what — ?

We have seen numerous instances where Shakspere has adapted some detail from others. In fact, as we have seen, many if not most of his most famous speeches are adapted and imitated from other speeches considered famous in his day. It is possible to show that in his earliest plays Shakspere had proceeded by the same process of imitative adaptation from one to another. The framework of Love's Labor's Lost he took from two plays of John Lyly's, Endimion, and Gallathea; that of The Comedy of Errors by the same process from Menaechmi and Amphilryo; that of Two Gentlemen by the same process from two of his own plays, The Comedy of Errors, and Love's Labor's Lost, and so on[17].

Here grammar school has furnished a basic principle in Shakspere's growth by having taught him from other things to imitate something new for himself. And yet the new thing and not the imitation is the thing of importance. Shakspere has proceeded from one to another of his early plays by the same process of imitation. Each time, however, he imitates not only the new, but also the winnowing of his past work, which in turn was the result of imitation. His method is the pragmatic one of trial and error. Self-criticism is at the basis of his growth. We see that he recognized usually, though not infallibly, what we have usually considered to be right. What was his standard of judgment? There lies one half the secret-perhaps the greater half, if one may put it so. The other half was the lavish ability to do. That lavish ability many of Shakspere's contemporaries also had. But they had not the power of selection and improved imitation which Shakspere had, by which he consolidated his gains of the past each time, and added to them from others something more. The secret of his growth lies here. But where lies the secret of his ability to grow? It is the old problem of evolution. One might assume infinite variations, on which the trial and error of the survival of the fittest produces growth by selecting those things which have the power of growth. But the difficulty is that such a theory and its analogues assume what they set out to prove. We have assumed a motive force which it was our problem to discover. At most, we only describe a process; we give no clue to the motive forces which make the process not only possible but necessary. Shakspere had marvelous skill. But whence? He had an equally marvelous power of self-criticism. But whence? He used his self-criticism to direct his skill. But. how did he know to do it? The process, the interacting stages of what he did, those things we can see and describe. But why did he so? That I do not profess to know; that I see no way of finding out; that I see no sign that anyone knows or is finding out about anything. Yet that is what the human race needs to find out consciously about itself if it is to evolve to its fullest capabilities. On the effective first causes, the human race no longer has even belief; its belief has been transferred to the process itself, and from the motive force behind the process.

Ostrich like, it thrusts its supposedly intellectual head into the sand, and feels secure. It believes in movement, in change, in the process; and calls it progress. Motion is not progress, unless there is an objective; it is merely motion. And motion, not to say commotion, has become a religion; we believe in progress. A main factor in Shakspere's growth was his constantly and consciously applied method of imitation--imitation of others, imitation in himself of what he had previously best imitated from others. This was a chief instrument of his growth, constantly and consciously used. It was a chief instrument in the growth of the Renaissance, consciously, constantly, systematically used. In this, Shakspere was of his age. He could not have been otherwise; there was nothing else to be. To be at all was to be that; but there were different degrees of being. Some learned the lesson effectively, others did not. Where did Shakspere get the method? He would have got it from the very air, unless he had been immune. Where he got it is relatively unimportant after all. But grammar school was planned as a hothouse of infection, and it is safe to assume that Shakspere was sufficiently susceptible to catch it there, We know that part of it, at least, he did catch there, because we find him imitating the authors he should have studied there, by methods he should there have been taught. The degree of infection depended partly on the source, but also partly on the subject himself.

And here for the present the case must rest. As thus we strive to pluck the heart from the mystery of existence methinks I hear the ruefully sardonic sanity of Shakspere saying perhaps, «Lord, what fools these mortals be!», and certainly, «I wish you all joy of the 12 worm».



[1] Rowe, Shakespear (i7o9), Vol. I, p. II.

[2] Ascham, Scholemaster (1570), P. 30v.

[3] IbU, p. 6v.

[4] Mulcaster, Elementarie (1925), PP. 39-40.

[5] See my edition among others.

[6] The British Museum Montaigne was probably his. The Bodleian Ovid has probably the next best claim, but is exceedingly doubtful. The Folger Archaionomia has just proffered a rcspectable claim to attention. But «after that the dark».

[7] Malone, PariorUM (1821), Vol. I, p. 368n.

[8] Hudson, Hoskins, p. xii.

[9] See Vol. I, p. 267, and the biographies of Shirley. Some reflections of schoolwork in the drama may be found collected in a Master's Thesis in the Graduate School of the University of Illinois on Sehools and Schoolmasters in the Elizabethan Drama, r558 r594 (1914), by Mss Beatrice Lucile Scotland.

[10] Shuekburgh, E. S., Sidney's Apologie, p. 37-12.

[11] Spedding, Works of Francis Bacon (tgoo), Vol. VI, p. 174.

[12] One should remember the reactions of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.

[13] Collins, Studies, pp. v-vi.

[14] Lambinus, Horace (1567), Pt. II, p. 295.

[15] Elyot, Gomwnour (1531), fol. 39.r; Croft, Vol. T, p. 66.

[16] Love's Labor's Lost, IV, 2y I26r131.

[17] This process for the early plays I have described in some detail in a work on Shakespeare’s Five Act Structure.

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