The Holder of this blog uses no cookies and collects no data whatsoever. He is only a guest on the Blogger platform. He has made no agreements concerning third party data collection and is not provided the opportunity to know the data collection policies of any of the standard blogging applications associated with the host platform. For information regarding the data collection policies of Facebook applications used on this blog contact Facebook. For information about the practices regarding data collection on the part of the owner of the Blogger platform contact Google Blogger.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Brooke-Camden Feud and a Presentation Copy of the First Folio.

William Camden.
Sidney Lee published an exciting discovery in the April 1899 number of the Cornhill Magazine.  Truly, it was a remarkable find.  “I have lately met with a copy of the First Folio which is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of the very first that came from the press of the printer William Jaggard. The copy has, as far as I can learn, hitherto escaped the notice of bibliographers, although it presents features of interest superior to any other.”[1]

The copy was a presentation copy.  It was presented to a young friend of William Camden, the great English antiquarian and author of Britannia, sive florentissimorvm regnorvm, Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, etc.[2]  The provenance of the relationship is well worth investigating.  Especially for the misconceptions it has encouraged for well over 100 years.

Camden — the premiere English antiquarian of his time — published a fifth and much expanded edition of his Britannia in 1594.  It was published in Latin as was expected of a true intellectual.  The first English translation would be published in 1610.[3]

In respect of his great accomplishment, he was appointed Clarenceux King of Arms in 1597.  Longtime officer of the College of Heralds, Ralph Brooke, who had been appointed York Herald in 1593, was much offended by an outsider being appointed to what amounted to the vice-presidency of the College south of the river Trent.  As York Herald, he felt much better qualified.  He had much more seniority and might have expected to receive the appointment himself.

Brooke had probably already noted a number of errors in the Britannia prior to Camden’s appointment.  After his appointment, the York Herald, wrote a long open letter enumerating those errors.  Camden replied in a long Latin letter conceding some of the errors.

Brooke quickly published a long pamphlet containing the letters and a much more public reply: A Discoverie of Certaine Errours Published in Print in the Much Commended 'Britannia' To which are added the Learned Mr. Camden's Answer... AND Mr. BROOKE's REPLY (1597).  Camden remained silent until the 1600 sixth edition of his Britannia.  Another Latin letter was appended to the end of that edition which replied to Brooke’s 1597 volume.  These Latin replies infuriated Brooke both because it kept the matter from being tried in the court of public opinion, where he felt he had the advantage, and likely because he was not able to write pamphlet-length works in Latin.  Camden, he felt, was unfairly managing to keep the upper hand.  He angrily responded with A SECOND DISCOVERIE OF ERROURS Published in the Much-Commended Britannia, I594. (1600), in which Camden’s Latin was translated into English, so all could understand, interleaved with Brooke’s refutations.

There was a pause at this point as Brooke filed an official complaint, in 1602, against longtime member of the College of Heralds, William Dethick.  Dethick had been the Garter King of Arms since 1586 (the equivalent of the president of all the College of Heralds throughout England, Ireland and Wales).

Brooke was on stronger ground here.  While Dethick knew the business well, he was not averse to taking or offering bribes in the various affairs of his life.  This had resulted in irregularities.

It is here that the Stratford man John Shaksper comes in. While in London, John’s son William managed to revive an old application his father had made for a Coat of Arms.  A wily presence in the capitol city did the trick and Dethick issued the now famous Shaksper family Coat of Arms.  Those arms were among the 23 cited as faulty by Brooke.[4]

In the words of Sidney Lee, whose Cornhill Magazine article gives a version of these events, “he insisted that a grave error had been committed. Shakespeare's heraldic shield, he said, did not of right belong to him because it was identical with one already borne by a noble family— that of Lord Mauley.”[5]

Brooke had not complained about the family receiving the arms in itself.  He complained that the design broke the rules of the College.  Dethick replied effectively.  While the official outcome of the dispute has not survived, it has long been believed that Dethick’s defense was successful and the design of the arms approved.

Page -1- -2- Next

[1] Lee, Sidney. “The Shakespeare First Folio.”  Cornhill Magazine, New Series VI. January to June 1899.  449-458 @ 454.
[2] Britannia, sive florentissimorvm regnorvm, Angliæ, Scotiæ, Hiberniæ, etc. (1580)
[3] Camden’s Britannia. (1610)  Tr. Philemon Holland.
[4] “Shakespeare's arms challenged by Ralph Brooke, as presented to Queen Elizabeth.”  Citing: Tucker, Stephen. The Assignment of Arms to Shakespeare and Arden, 1596-99 (1884), p. 13 Shakespeare Documented.  “Dethick defended Shakespeare’s coat of arms by pointing out their unique features and John Shakespeare’s civic career and marriage into the Arden family. The outcome is not recorded, but the dispute appears to have been resolved in favor of Dethick.”
[5] Lee, 456.

  • Thomas Churchyard in The Merry Wives of Windsor. June 04, 2018. “The idea of this stratagem, &c. might have been adopted from part of the entertainment prepared by Thomas Churchyard for Queen Elizabeth at Norwich:…”
  • Dating Edward de Vere's Sonnet 110. May 21, 2018. “Shake-speare the poet was now Shake-speare writer for the common stage.  Those who knew he was The Bard, but only knew him as the poet, now knew that he was the person who had written the plays,…”
  • Let the sky rain potatoes! December 16, 2017. "In fact, the sweet potato had only just begun to be a delicacy within the reach of splurging poets and playwrights and members of the middle classes at the time that The Merry Wives of Windsor (the play from which Falstaff is quoted) was written.  The old soldier liked to keep abreast of the new fads."
  • Shakespeare's Apricocks.  February 21, 2017.  "While he may never have been a gardener, he does seem more than superficially knowledgeable about the gardens of his day.  One detail of such matters that he got wrong, however, is as much to the point as any."
  • Check out the English Renaissance Article Index for many more articles and reviews about this fascinating time and about the Shakespeare Authorship Question.

No comments: