Here’s a fascinating new blog that describes itself as “a post Stratfordian Shake-speare blog.” The official name of the blog is “The Festival Robe.” Someone named Chris is the brains behind the blog. Chris seems to be an admirer of “Rambler” (www.lookingforshakespeare.blogspot.com) and this blog is a self-described spinoff of the Rambler blog — which I also recommend highly.
Here’s a link to a new post on Chris’s The Festival Robe blog:
There are only five posts so far so it’s easy to get caught up. The title of this blog post is “a kind of tumbling boy” — which is a quote from a Burghley letter to Hatton in March 1983. Chris suggests that William Shakspere of Stratford could have been that ‘tumbling boy” — although he would have been almost 19 years old at the time. When does a boy become a man? Perhaps young Will had been a tumbling boy for a few years and the term had stuck with him even though he was getting older by 1583?
In any case … here’s an excerpt from this particular post by Chris. Just click on the link above or search for www.TheFestivalRobe.com to read his interesting posts.
Note that Chris suggests that the character named Medice (or Mendice) in Chapman’s play The Gentleman Usher represents Will Shakspere of Stratford and that he was a “tumbling boy” perhaps with Lord Strange’s troop and then with Oxford’s troop. You’ll have to read the other posts to get the full story here … along with Rambler’s posts.
a kind of tumbling boy
The finale of The Gentleman Usher has Medice reveal his life’s story, depicting his rise from low birth to the company of nobility. Here’s the entire relevant section.
“Strozza. …Is thy name Medice ?
Medice. No, my noble lord.
My true name is Mendice.
Strozza. Mendice ? See,
it ﬁrst a mighty scandal done to honour.
Of what country art thou?
Medice. Of no country I,
But born upon the seas, my mother passing
’Twixt Zant and Venice.
Strozza. Where wert thou christen’d
Medice. I was never christen’d,
But, being brought up with beggars, called Mendice,
Alphonso. Strange and unspeakable!
Strozza. How cam’st thou then
To bear that port thou didst, ent’ring this Court?
Medice. My lord, when I was young, being able-limb’d,
A captain of the gipsies entertain’d me,
And many years I liv’d a loose life with them;
At last I was so favour’d that they made me
The King of Gipsies; and being told my fortune
By an old sorceress that I should be great
In some great prince’s love, I took the treasure
Which all our company of gipsies had
In many years by several stealths collected;
And leaving them in wars, I liv’d abroad
With no less show than now; and my last wrong
I did to noblesse was in this high Court.
Alphonso. Never was heard so strange a counterfeit.
Strozza. Didst thou not cause me to be shot in hunting ?
Medice.. I did, my lord; for which, for heaven’s love, pardon.
Strozza. Now let him live, my lord ; his blood’s least drop
Would stain your Court more than the sea could cleanse ;
His soul’s too foul to expiate with death.
Alphonso. Hence then; be ever banish’d from my rule,
And live a monster, loath’d of all the world.
Poggio. I’ll get boys and bait him out 0’ th’ Court, my lord
Alphonso. Do so, I pray thee; rid me of his sight.
Poggio. Come on, my lord Stinkard, I’ll play ‘Fox, Fox,
come out of thy hole ’ with you, i’faith.
Medice. I’ll run and hide me from the sight of heaven.
Poggio. Fox, fox, go out of thy hole! A two-legged fox,
‘a two-legged fox! Exit with Pages beating Medice.
Benevemus. Never was such an accident disclos’d.”
Alphonso. Let us forget it, honourable friends,
(V, iv, 245-284)
Mendicus is latin for beggar. Rambler’s July 13 post demonstrates the link between beggars and actors. His more recent posts on this play note the repeated use of ‘strange’ in Act I, and notes it was the name of Lord Strange (pronounced strang) prior to becoming the 5th earl of Derby. The word strange being adjacent to Mendice here may reference Lord Strange’s troupe of actors (or tumblers.)