Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hunter on response to 1839 review of "Disquisition on . . . Shakespeare's Tempest"

Yesterday Oberon Chairperson R. Thomas Hunter, PhD, commented on Nina Green's Phaeton e-mail list on the topic of Stratfordian intransigence toward honest inquiry on the Shakespeare authorship question: 
The following is a remarkable piece of early Stratfordiana which I found today while looking for something else. I believe that you will agree that the sentiment is quite remarkable in contrast to the unyielding, uniform Hardy Cook pap we have been used to. It was a Google scan of a review in The Gentleman's Magazine of A Disquisition on the Scene, Origin, Date etc. of Shakespeare's Tempest by Rev. Joseph Hunter [in which Rev. Hunter argues for an early dating of The Tempest].
No publishing information for the Gentleman's Magazine appears per se, although a detached reference to "Vol XIII" probably refers to that specific issue. The article must have appeared somewhere in the vicinity of 1839, since that is the date Hunter's book was published.
So imagine how, having just read Elizabeth Imlay's powerful statement [on the Phaeton email list] of the intransigence of the Shakespeare deity, this sentence stood out: "The name of Shakespeare is so justly and deeply loved by Englishmen, that it only stops at this side of idolatry."  Here is, 171 years ago, the very thing Elizabeth described. It is stated as a given, and it appears within a lifetime of the Stratford Exposition!
But here is the surprise. Immediately following are these words: "and the minutest inquiries are not discouraged, and mention of the most trifling circumstances is endured, which tend in any way to cast a glimmer of light on the obscurity of his history, or the interpretation of his thoughts."
In other words, long before these current times requiring declarations of reasonable doubt to penetrate the Stratfordian fog, at least some Stratfordians came dangerously close to open-mindedness. Perhaps Hardy Cook might some day himself read about those days in which the minutest inquiries were not discouraged which tended in any way to cast a glimmer of light on the history of Shakespeare.