2020-07-23 10:21:08 UTC
Gunpowder Plot in Macbeth, I search Google for a past reference I
remember posting, and found
Robert Southwell, who was reportedly being tortured in confinement
after being seized in illegal hiding, perhaps suspected of being
implicated in the Gunpowder plot, perhaps revealed by Sir Thomas Lucy?
1) Southwell was a published poet, whose poem "The Burning Babe" was
popular just before Macbeth.
The Burning Babe
AS I in hoary winter's night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
Did in the air appear;
Who, scorchèd with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,
Which with His tears were bred:
'Alas!' quoth He, 'but newly born
In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
Or feel my fire but I!
'My faultless breast the furnace is;
The fuel, wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke;
The ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men's defilèd souls:
For which, as now on fire I am
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in my blood.'
With this He vanish'd out of sight
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callèd unto mind
That it was Christmas Day.
2) In "St Peter's Complaint," Southwell published a critical essay
with references to Shakespeare.
3) Southwell may have been related to Shakespeare as a second cousin
In Shakespeare's biography, we may suspect that his family's
antagonism with Sir Thomas Lucy wasn't only about Will's deer
poaching, but Lucy's Puritain sympathies with anti-Catholics.
Now I see many studies of how Stratman's family was not only strongly
sympathetic to Catholic causes, but that they were involved in the
Gunpowder Plot episode, in some way, plus "the poet Southwelll," a
captured priest, is also "related" in some ways to the Shakespeares.
Then there is the theory that Shakespeare was using "Macbeth" as a
scheme to 1) allow the King some defenses, and 2) a ruse to indicate
personal innocence. Not sure if the King's defense of "divine right
of kings" is at play in Macbeth, which I suppose was part of Gunpowder
Plot motives; can make out how the play shows kings getting tragic
justice; do get it that the play performance was a welcome diversion
for James at the time.
That Shakespeare would refer, if somewhat obliquely, to the Southwell
capture and torture of a Catholic priest and reputable poet does seem
to support his family biases, though.
To me, it seems rather significant that Shakespeare would allude to
Southwell in that way, at that time, and does seem germane to other
questions pertaining to the question of authorship attribution. Seems
possible to connect the dots between Catholic conspiracy machinations
and trying to see Stratman the spy, double-spy, or something he's
playing at subconsciously.
Here's the lines in question, so see if you find them strangely apt to
the play and the Gunpowder Plot.
Shakespeare refers to this poem in Macbeth. In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth
is persuading himself not to murder the virtuous Duncan. He speaks
about how Pity, in the form of a baby, would condemn the deed:
And Pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heavenS Cherub ins, horsd
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.
Macbeth was written in 1605-6; Southwell died 1605.