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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

And Donnelly are leaders who deny Shakespeare's identity

a target for the iconoclast.

It seems but a stone's-cast from our time to the reign of Elizabeth and the day of the English drama. The time was one of action in every department of society. Conquest, colonization, literature, were beginning to render the Saxon name illustrious. It was the epoch of chivalry and chivalrous procedure, such as to create a species of literature and bring it to a perfection which half-wrested the scepter of supremacy from the hand of the Attic tragedy. In this literature there is a name which dwarfs all others. Otway, Ford, Massinger, Webster, Ben Jonson, Green, and Marlowe (some of these men of surprising genius) must take a lower place, for the master of revels is come. William Shakespeare is here. His life is not lengthily but plainly writ. He might have said, as did Tennyson's Ulysses, "I am become a name." It would seem that a man at such a time, with such a reputation, would have naught to fear from iconoclasm, however fierce. He, in a sense, was known as Raleigh or Essex were not. He has put himself into human history, and made the world his debtor. The existence of a man whose personality was admitted by his contemporaries must be believed in. Stories concerning him haunted the byways of London and literature. Ben Jonson paid him a tardy tribute. Men received him as they received Chaucer. But the spirit of the age finds him vulnerable. Delia Bacon, Smith, O'Connor, Holmes, and Donnelly are leaders who deny Shakespeare's identity. I may note Donnelly,
an American gentleman of research and painstaking which would be creditable to a German scholar. He must be allowed to be a man of ingenuity. His method of discovering that Shakespeare was not himself has all the flavor of an invention. It glitters, not with generalities, but ingenuities. A sample page of his folio, covered with hieroglyphics which mark the progress of finding the cipher which he thinks the plays contain--such sample page is certainly a marvel, even to the generation which has read with avidity "Robert Elsmere" and "Looking Backward." A peculiarity in it all is, that his explanation makes marvelous doubly so. To believe that a man should have hidden his authorship of such works as the plays of Shakespeare makes a draft on the credulity of men too great to be borne. Why Junius should not have revealed himself is not difficult to discover. His life was at stake. But why the author of "The Tempest," or "King Lear," or "The Merchant of Venice," should have concealed his personality so carefully that three centuries have elapsed before men could discover it--this is an enigma no man can solve. In general, it is objected by non-believers in Shakespeare that it is impossible to conceive of a man whose rearing possessed so few advantages as did that of Shakespeare, having written the plays attributed to him. This is really the strong point in the whole discussion. All other arguments are subordinate. It is admitted that it does seem impossible for the poacher and wild country lad to become the poet pre-eminent in English literature. But this question is not to be decided by _a priori_ reasoning. The genius displayed in the dramatic works under consideration is little less than miraculous. This all concede. Now, history has shown that to genius there is a sense in which "all things are possible." Genius can cross the Alps, can conquer Europe, can dumfound the world. Genius knows no rules. Once allow genius, and the problem is solved. It is conceded that for a common man, or even for one of exceptional ability, to have acquired without help the learning which characterizes

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