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Lord Campbell's Case – Part 2
The adherents of the lawyer theory should further note, what Mr. Greenwood omits to mention, that Campbell "entered" the following caveat:
In THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, TWELFTH NIGHT, JULIUS CAESAR, CYMBELINE, TIMON OF ATHENS, THE TEMPEST, KING RICHARD II, KING HENRY V, KING HENRY VI, Part I; KING HENRY VI, Part II; KING RICHARD III, KING HENRY VIII, PERICLES OF TYRE, and TITUS ANDRONICUS—fourteen of the thirty-seven dramas generally attributed to Shakespeare—I find nothing that fairly bears upon this controversy. Of course I had only to look for expressions and allusions that must be supposed to come from one who has been a professional lawyer. Amidst the seducing beauties of sentiment and language through which I had to pick my way, I may have overlooked various specimens of the article of which I was in quest, which would have been accidentally valuable, although intrinsically worthless.
In this connection it should be noted (a) that the late Professor Churton Collins found a long series of "unquestionable" legal allusions in Titus Andronicus—where it can hardly have been "seducing beauties of sentiment" that prevented Campbell from seeing them; (b) that Mr. Greenwood in turn finds these allusions to be "very ordinary expressions," which it is "ridiculous" to ascribe to a trained lawyer, though they are just such expressions as Campbell cites from other plays; and (c) that while the Lord Chancellor finds only one passage "with the juridical mark" upon it in Macbeth, Mr. Castle, K.C., goes further, and denies that there is any sign of legal knowledge in that play at all. Thus in both early and late plays, in genuine and ungenuine alike, the experts themselves confess to lack of evidence over nearly forty per cent of the area involved. 
Let us now take Lord Campbell’s evidential passages in detail. The mere presentment will probably suffice to dispose of them for most readers, so utterly void are they of justification for the thesis built upon them. Comment is often entirely needless; the one constant difficulty is to believe that the judge is serious.
1. In The Merry Wives (ii, 2) Ford says his love was
Like a fair house built upon another man’s ground; so that I have lost my edifice by mistaking the place where I erected it.
Upon which Lord Campbell pronounces that "this shows in Shakespeare a knowledge of the law of real property, not generally possessed." It might suffice to answer that such knowledge is today possessed by millions of laymen: and that in the litigious days of Elizabeth it must have been at least as common. But let the lawyer be answered in legal form. In Dekker’s Shoemaker’s Holiday, published in 1597, Hodge says (v, 2): "The law’s on our side; he that sows on another man’s ground forfeits his harvest." Hodge is a foreman shoemaker. Was Dekker an attorney’s clerk, or was Hodge talking in character and saying what any shoemaker might? Or was it a lawyer who penned in Heywood’s English Traveller (iv, 1) the lines:
Was not the money
Or is Chapman to be credited with a legal training because, he cites the legal maxim, Aedificium cedit solo in Mayday (iii, 3)? According to Mr. Rushton, this* is the legal maxim underlying the words of Ford, and not the formula, Cujus est solum, ejus est usque ad cœlum,** cited by Campbell.
2. In Act IV of the same play, says Campbell, "Shakespeare’s head was so full of the recondite terms of the law  that he makes a lady . . . pour them out in a confidential tête-à-tête conversation with another lady. The passages thus characterised are:
May we, with the warrant of womanhood and the witness of a good conscience pursue him? ... If the devil have him not in fee simple, with fine and recovery, he will never, &c.
On Lord Campbell’s principles, then, what inference shall we draw from this piece of dialogue between wooer and lady in one of Greene’s stories?
Yet Madame (quoth he) when the debt is confest there remaineth some hope of recovery. ... The debt being due, he shall by constraint of law and his own confession (maugre his face) be forced to make restitution.
Truth, Garydonius (quoth she), if he commence his action in a right case, and the plea he puts in prove not imperfect. But yet take this by the way, it is hard for that plaintiff to recover his costs where the defendant, being judge, sets down the sentence. The Card of Fancy, 1587: Works, ed. Grosart, iv, 108.
The "debt" in question is one of unrequited love. Shall we then pronounce that Greene wrote as he did because "his head was full of the recondite terms of the law"?
And what, again, shall we say of the passage in Dekker’s Honest Whore (Pt. I, iv, 1) in which Hippolito points to the portrait of Infelice as
The copy of that obligation
and Bellafront replies:
Must Dekker too be a lawyer? The reader has already begun, perhaps, to realise that lawyership is out of the question. Greene was no lawyer. He wrote legalisms as he wrote Euphuism, because it was a fashion of the time; and he did it, as we shall see later, to a far greater extent, in the way of elaboration, than Shakespeare ever did. Dekker and the other dramatists in general did the same thing as Shakespeare. 
Lord Campbell is here imputing lawyership on the score of terms far less technical than many which occur in a multitude of non-Shakespearean plays of the period. When such expressions as "warrant" and "witness" and "fee simple" are seriously asserted to come from a head "full of recondite terms," it seems necessary to explain that "warrant" was long before Shakespeare’s day a term in constant non-legal use (as in the colloquial phrase, "I’ll warrant you that the word occurs many hundreds of times, alike in the literal and in the metaphorical sense, in non-Shakespearean plays; and that "witness" was in the same case, being habitually used in theological speech and in the common phrase "God is my witness," to say nothing of plays. If the use of such terms is proof of legal knowledge on the playwright’s part, then such knowledge is clearly possessed by Webster, who in Appius and Virginia has:
Show’d him his hand a witness ‘gainst himself. (iii, i.)
By what command?
By warrant of our favour. (iii, 2.)
Clown. . . . Though she have borrow’d no money, yet she is enter’d into bonds; and though you may think her a woman not sufficient, yet ‘tis very like her bond will be taken.
First Servant. . . . What witness have they?
Clown. Witness these fountains. . . . The Lord Appius hath committed her to ward. His warrant is out for her. (iv, i.)
Here’s witness; most sufficient witness. (iv, 2.)
So we must infer a legal training on the playwright’s part when, in Dekker’s Shoemaker’s Holiday (iv, 4), Rose says to her lover
as also when her father uses the same phrase in the next scene; again in Heywood’s Woman Killed With Kindness (iv, 3) when Mistress Frankford says to her lover,  "You plead custom"; again in The Witch of Edmonton (by Dekker, Rowley, and Ford) when Winnifred (i, 2) speaks of her lover’s promise
and yet again when Massinger, in The Fatal Dowry, makes Beaumelle (iii, i) speak of "sufficient warrant" in love-making, and Romont (ib.) deliver the line "Will warrant and give privilege to his counsels"; to say nothing of a judge’s "You had not warrant for it" (v, end). In the same play, as it happens, Romont says "Bear witness" (iii, near end) Beaumelle says "To witness my repentance" (iv, 3) and Charalois, "I ask him for a witness" (iv, 2). All three are non-legal characters, one a woman. Again in A New Way to Pay Old Debts (iv, 2) we have Margaret’s lines:
So, on Lord Campbell’s principle, Massinger must have been giving reckless rein to his legal knowledge.
Ben Jonson is similarly certificated, for in Every Man in His Humour (i, 1) we have:
And though Justice Clement there talks of warrants by professional right, the lay folk in the play say "I warrant you" without scruple; while Bobadill pleads that he had a "warrant of the peace-served" on him; and Matthew intimates that "we determine to make our amends by law," and asks "the favour to procure a warrant." "Warrants," in fact, swarm through the play. Which clearly proves that Jonson must have been an attorney’s clerk! And between "warrant" and "witness" every other Elizabethan dramatist would be in the same list.
As to the "fee simple" passage, we have first to put  the queries: (1) Was Shakespeare, or was he not, aiming at a realistic effect in the play before us? (2) Is it not one of the most realistic of all he has written? (3) Would he then be likely to put in the mouth of one of his "merry wives" language which to his audience would seem utterly out of character, and fit only for an attorney? To answer in the affirmative is at once to accuse the playwright of utterly bad art, and to ignore the testimony of the great mass of Elizabethan literature, summed up in Mr. Hubert Hall’s generalization that "every man in these days was up to a certain point his own lawyer; that is, he was well versed in all the technical forms and procedure."*** But let us waive authority, here as elsewhere, and note decisive data. Out of a score of parallels to such phrases as "fee simple" and "fine and recovery" in other dramatists and writers, it may here suffice to note (1) in Lilly’s Mother Bombie (i, 2):
(2) in the old dialogue or quasi-interlude, Roye’s Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe (1528), one speaker’s description of the friars as
and (3) Thomas Nashe’s second prefatory epistle to his Strange News of the Intercepting Certain Letters (1592), where Gabriel Harvey is told that he is "here indited for an encroacher upon the fee simple of the Latin." Are we to pronounce all three writers lawyers?
3. In Measure for Measure (i, 2) when Mrs. Overdone laments that places such as hers are to be put down, Pompey says: "Fear not you, good counsellors lack no clients." Whereupon Lord Chancellor Campbell writes:  "This comparison is not very flattering to the bar, but it seems to show a familiarity with both the professions alluded to." Upon these principles, what would his lordship not have made of the remark of Justiniano in Westward Ho (ii, 1): "Like country attorneys, we are to shuffle up many matters in a forenoon"? Dekker and Webster, surely, must have been country attorneys! And what depths of legal experience must he not have divined behind the suggestion of Webster and Rowley, in A Cure for a Cuckold (iv, 3), that "long vacations may make lawyers hungry"! Or behind Jonson’s lines:
Or in Dekker’s passage about
the shaving of poor clients, especially by the attorneys’
clerks of your courts, and that’s done by writing
their bills of costs upon cheverel.
Or in the page on lawyers in Stubbes’ Anatomie of Abuses. But we waste illustration over a contention which belongs to the plane of farce.
The only other items offered from Measure for Measure are (1) Elbow’s clownism, "I’ll have mine action of battery on thee" (ii, 1); (2) the ironical reply of Escalus suggesting an action for slander for a box on the ear; and (3) Escalus’ phrases: "my brother Angelo," "my brother," "my brother justice" (iii, 2). This, says the Lord Chancellor, "is so like the manner in which one English judge designates and talks of another that it countenances the supposition that Shakespeare may often, as an attorney’s clerk, have been in the presence  of English judges"—as ten thousand laymen had been. After this, there is an air of great self-restraint about the suggestion that there is a "tinge" of legal terminology in Isabella’s speech to Angelo on the theme that
4. "Fine and recovery" occurs again in the Comedy of Errors (ii, 2); and this time we are told that the puns extracted from the terms "show the author to be very familiar with some of the most abstruse proceedings in English jurisprudence." The same deep knowledge is doubtless to be credited to Nashe, who writes of "suing the least action of recovery" and "a writ of Ejectione firma." And as "fine and recovery" is not ostensibly a more abstruse conception than "livery and seisin," which is mentioned by both Jonson and Webster, we are once more led to extend to them the diploma of attorney-ship so liberally bestowed on Shakespeare. "Fine," as it happens, is a common figure in the drama of Shakespeare’s day. Bellafront in Dekker’s Honest Whore (Part II, iv, 1) speaks of
From Mall, in Porter’s Two Angry Women of Abington (iii, 2), we have:
There is nothing more technical in the Comedy of Errors.
* More strictly, Aedificatum solo solo cedit. back
** Shakespeare's Legal Maxims, 1907, pp. 24-25. back
*** Society in the Elizabethan Age, by Hubert Hall, of H.M. Public Record Office, 2nd ed. 1887, p. 141. back
It may be worth noting that the word "client" occurs only thrice in all Shakespeare's plays, an odd fact if he were so obsessed by lawyer-reminiscences as the legalists allege. back
Collier's Rep p. 116. back
The Praise of the Red Herring, Works, iii, 157. back
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