Richard II

 

When the play of "Richard II" appeared in 1598 Queen Elizabeth was furious, because she thought it was part of a plot to teach her subjects how to murder kings.

"I am Richard,"she said, "Know you not that?"

She was even more angry when immediately afterwards John Hayward, a young doctor of civil law, published a pamphlet which, taking as its basis the story of the play, drew from it morals that the Queen considered to be seditious. The fat was in the fire, and the Queen sent for Francis Bacon and instructed him to draw up articles against the author. Francis Bacon reported to the Queen that in his opinion there was no treason in the play, but that the author was a thief because he had lifted most of the sentences of Cornelius Tacitus, translated them into English, and put them into the text of the play. Bacon reports this incident in his Apologia concerning Essex.

How is it that Bacon knew the sources which some of the chief passages in "Richard II" were derived, whereas modern commentators on "Shakespeare" have never been able to tell us what these passages are?

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