What if Shakespeare…were a FRAUD?

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[The Tudors’ secret police court, the Star Chamber. Enter JUDGE, PROSECUTOR, and QUEEN ELiZABETH I; SHAKESPEARE sits in chains in the centre of the room.]

Judge:
Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. (1)

Shakespeare:
An’t shall please your majesty, I never said nor
thought any such matter: God is my witness, I am
falsely accused by the villain. (2)

Queen:
Ah, what’s more dangerous than this fond affiance!
Seems he a dove? his feathers are but borrowed,
For he’s disposed as the hateful raven:
Is he a lamb? his skin is surely lent him,
For he’s inclined as is the ravenous wolf.
Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all
Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man. (3)

Shakespeare:
Madam, I was thinking with what manners I might
safely be admitted. (4)

Prosecutor:
I will not excuse you; you shall not be excus’d;
shall not be admitted; there is no excuse shall serve; you
not be excus’d. (5)

Shakespeare
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you, (6)
I am alone the villain of the earth,
And feel I am so most. (7)
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever, (8)
The fraud of England, not the force of France,
Hath now entrapp’d the noble-minded[.] (9)
Shame hath a bastard fame, well managed;
Ill deeds are doubled with an evil word. (10)
It shall be fickle, false and full of fraud, (11)
Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish. (12)
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: (13)
And that the Earl of Surrey, with the rod. (14)
I told him what I thought, and told no more
Than what he found himself was apt and true. (15)

Judge:
He said the truth: and what said Surrey then? (16)

Shakespeare:
To tell you true, I counterfeit him. (17)

Queen:
Thou liest:
Within these forty hours Surrey durst better
Have burnt that tongue than said so. (18)

Shakespeare:
Alas!
I am as true as truth’s simplicity
And simpler than the infancy of truth. (19)
The base
Shall top th’ legitimate. I grow; I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards! (20)

Judge:
Will Fortune never come with both hands full,
But write her fair words still in foulest letters? (21)
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? (22)

Shakespeare:
Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
From this time forth I never will speak word. (23)

Queen:
What, will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you! (24)

Shakespeare:
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more. (25)

Queen:
Lo, here, the hopeless merchant of this loss,
With head declined, and voice damm’d up with woe, (26)
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh; (27)
Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell; (28)
Take hence this jack, and whip him. (29)
Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!
Thou’rt poison to my blood. (30)

Shakespeare:
All my merry jigs are quite forgot,
All my lady’s love is lost, God wot:
Where her faith was firmly fix’d in love,
There a nay is placed without remove. (31)

The rest is silence. (32)

—————————————————————————-

All words Shakespeare’s own, assembled by David Windrim.

Original Quotations:
(1) Menenius Agrippa, Coriolanus
(2) Thomas Horner, Henry VI Part 3
(3) Queen Margaret, Henry VI Part 3
(4) Lafeu, All’s Well That Ends Well
(5) Robert Shallow, Henry IV Part 2
(6) Domitius Enobarus, Antony and Cleopatra
(7) Helena, All’s Well That Ends Well
(8) Balthasar, Much Ado About Nothing
(9) Sir William Lucy, Henry VI, Part 1
(10) Luciana, The Comedy of Errors
(11) Venus and Adonis
(12) Duke of Clarence, Richard III
(13) Iago, Othello
(14) First Gentleman, Henry VIII
(15) Iago, Othello
(16) Richard III, Richard III
(17) Antonio, The Merchant Of Venice
(18) Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII
(19) Troilus, Troilus and Cressida
(20) Edmund, King Lear
(21) Henry IV, Henry IV Part 2
(22) Brutus, Julius Caesar
(23) Iago, Othello
(24) Helena, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
(25) Aaron, Titus Andronicus
(26) The Rape of Lucrece
(27) Ophelia, Hamlet
(28) Lady Anne, Richard III
(29) Antony, Antony and Cleopatra.
(30) Cymbeline, Cymbeline
(31) The Passionate Pilgrim

(32) Hamlet, Hamlet

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