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Dr. Larry Arnn And Stephen Smith Give An Overview Into A Study On Shakespeare

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HH: We took a week off, but we are back with the Hillsdale Dialogues. We are back after vacation. The last one, we were together to do the Hillsdale Dialogue, Thomas More lost his head. And we need to pick up from there and press on into August. And what better time than to get you launched on the study of Shakespeare with the same guest I left you with last time. Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, and his colleague, Dr. Stephen Smith, who is the Temple Family Chair of English at Hillsdale, 14 years he’s been teaching at Hillsdale. He’s a Thomas More scholar, but he is no lightweight when it comes to Shakespeare, either. How many years have you been teaching Shakespeare, Professor Smith?

SS: As long as I can remember.

HH: You see, that is, did you teach Shakespeare as a graduate student?

SS: You know, I didn’t. I taught him, though, I was a high school teacher in New York City, in a volunteer program in between college and graduate school. That was the first time I taught him.

HH: Pause there. Pause there. You can teach Shakespeare to urban kids in a volunteer program?

SS: Absolutely. It’s a funny story. I was teaching, and I was given a bunch of literature to teach, and I thought they should really try Shakespeare instead. And of course, all of these kids can’t handle Shakespeare, or you know, it’s too much, and lo and behold, a few weeks later, that was my first teaching success, we did Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet, and these kids just gobbled it up.

HH: How did you do that?

SS: Well, love goes a long way, and Shakespeare’s wit is the ultimate help. So you know, Much Ado About Nothing features all these great back and forth insults and battles of wit, and my students just loved it. And so I hooked them on it, and started there.

HH: And you are an addict, correct?

SS: I suppose so.

HH: And Dr. Arnn, are you an addict?

LA: Oh, yeah. You know, what, how can you…so one night, I went to see King John with my family when they were younger, and we’d been at the Chicago Institute of Art. And I didn’t know the play King John, and it’s not one of the foremost, or reputed, anyway, and I can remember sitting transfixed for three hours. And at the end of the exhibit about Rembrandt, there was a statement that there would, there had to be a painter with the art of Shakespeare written on the wall. And so then we go to this play, and in a little microcosm, forget what the play’s about, because his plots are simply astonishing, dazzling, heart-wrenching. The mother of young Arthur, who’s been killed because, or died in an accident, one of the two, both coming from the fact that he’s an heir to the throne, is with the king of France, and she says, he says to her, Madame, I believe you wear your grief. You love your grief as much as you love your son. And the words are roughly like this, and it’s like the best expression of a mother’s love I’ve ever seen. She says I do. My grief sleeps in his bed and wears his clothes. And you just go…

HH: Wow.

LA: And you just hear that, and you say how can, you know, it’s just beautiful.

SS: Behold the master.

LA: Yeah.

HH: But I’m always curious, because when last we spoke, I had been teaching 120 young conservatives, and I urged on them if you think it’s too thick, go read Charles and Mary Lamb, get the story outline down, and then start reading it aloud. And hopefully, they’ll catch what you call the bug, Stephen Smith. What is that bug? How did you catch it?

SS: Two things. I’m profoundly indebted to great teachers, and in high school, I was assigned Macbeth first instead of Julius Caesar. And I remember reading it for the first time, and all those great lines striking me for the first time, you know, double double, toil and trouble, and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, you know, all these great lines. And I used to study with the Boston Red Sox playing on the radio, and I knew something serious was going on when I had to turn the Red Sox down and off because I was finding Shakespeare so interesting. So…

HH: Well, to some of us, that’s actually not much of a requirement.

SS: (laughing)

HH: To those of us from Cleveland…

LA: We’re not talking about a Steelers fan here, are we?

HH: No, we’re talking about the baseball equivalent of a Steelers fan, though, a Red Sox win.

SS: Well, we used to have tragic dignity, but now…

HH: (laughing) Okay, that is, though, serious if you’re turning down your beloved sports team in order to concentrate more completely. You are caught. You are caught.

SS: Yeah, and then a funny story from when I was at Notre Dame. I was actually in a way compelled to go to Chicago to see a production of King Lear, and I was literally dragged to the production. The door closed, three hours later, I couldn’t believe what I had just seen and heard. And I remember getting back to Notre Dame at about 2 in the morning and sprinting over to the library and wondering if they had a copy of King Lear in the library.

HH (laughing)

LA: (laughing)

SS: (laughing) And the lady just stared at me and said yes, there are quite a few copies of Shakespeare up there, so…

HH: You know, I saw Sir Ian McKellen play Lear in Los Angeles two years ago, and it is pretty astonishing when it’s done well, isn’t it?

SS: Oh, it’s awesome.

LA: Yeah. He’s one of the most important figures in Shakespeare, of course, and he represents certain things that are fundamental, in my opinion, but we’ll talk about that if we do King Lear.

HH: Oh, if we do. We don’t know, yet. We’re going to spend four weeks beyond this on Lear, so we don’t know quite yet where we’re going, nor can we tell you that. But what’s the best way to approach him, Dr. Smith?

SS: Well, the one way I like and think is quite good is to go back to the sources, you know, especially what a couple of his contemporaries thought about him. And many of your listeners may have visited Stratford, England. And I’ve become quite interested in the Shakespeare monument, not because I think the Earle of Oxford wrote Shakespeare or any of that stuff, but the Shakespeare monument is this famous image of Shakespeare sitting with a quill in his hand writing. And I used to just visit that church with student groups and go, oh, there it is, okay, it’s really not that great a work of art. But then I started to study it, and I realized a bunch of really interesting things. One, whoever made that monument put Shakespeare in the posture of a teacher. And some people find that really perplexing, because there’s no record that Shakespeare was a teacher. But the most interesting thing is the little Latin poem beneath the monument, and it reads like this. In Judgment of Nestor, In Genius of Socrates, In Art of Virgil: The Earth Buries Him, The People Mourn Him, Olympus Possesses Him, so a noble poem. But that that first line, praising this teacher for judgment, genius and art, as soon as I realized this, my eyes lit right up, because I realized how significant this praise was. He was praising, whoever made the monument was praising Shakespeare for prudence, for Socratic genius, and then for his art. That art is probably the obvious to most, but those first two are really interesting. Who would think of Shakespeare as the great poet of prudence? But I think that’s what he is. And then Shakespeare as another Socrates, so a kind of Platonic author. And I really you can really go far with that. You know, Socrates was associated with self-examination, self-knowledge, the question about what is the best way to live, and those of, of course, the bread and butter philosophical questions of Shakespeare’s own plays. So I like to put that in front of the students and say here’s something to think about – a poet of prudence, a poet of self-knowledge, a poet of art.

HH: That’s a big claim. This audience knows this. This is, we began our 15th year last month, and for all those years, David Allen White has joined us to talk about this and that in Shakespeare. And two things I remember always, he said look, if you’re going to study English, study the greatest practitioner of the English language ever. And that’s a big claim. I mean, that’s a huge claim. There are not a few English speakers around in the history of our people, Larry Arnn. Would you agree with that, though?

LA: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, we have the testimony of Lincoln and Churchill about the prudence point, right? Both of them were, had a deep, and in Churchill’s case, he had Macbeth memorized. And Lincoln was a critic of productions of the play, line by line. And they’ve changed…

HH: You see, that is the second thing I know, is that Lincoln said he had no formal education, only Scripture and Shakespeare, right?

LA: Yeah, aw shucks.

HH: Aw shucks.

SS: That’s not exactly making lemonade out of lemons.

HH: No, it’s not, but it is vast. What a claim to say that all I’ve got is the Bible and Shakespeare, and that makes me Lincoln. That’s a pretty big claim for Shakespeare. And so that’s what your, do we know who composed the poem, by the way, underneath his mortuary?

SS: Yeah, we think it’s his friend, Ben Jonson, who is quite a judge, quite an astute writer and poet himself. We’re not sure, though. But I think it’s one of the most interesting pieces of praise that are out there on Shakespeare. You know, another way to put it is he’s a statesman, he’s a philosopher and he’s a poet all rolled into one, is what that little poem is saying.

HH: And I hope that you do not spend much time in your Hillsdale College debating whether or not he existed.

SS: No, we usually just move past that one pretty quickly.

HH: Because you don’t credit it, correct?

SS: No, I don’t, and I think he, William Shakespeare, wrote the plays attributed to him.

HH: That’s what I believe. I have been persuaded of this. So this little cottage industry that exists, Dr. Arnn, it really wastes a lot of time when people ought to be reading the plays.

LA: In Claremont, there was a library devoted to the study of whether Bacon wrote the plays or not, and I studied Shakespeare in graduate school with Harry Jaffa, who had an undergraduate degree in literature as written. And he used to say you know, it doesn’t matter who wrote them. He was pretty good.

HH: We’ll be right back, America.

— – – – –

HH: Let’s go to the setup for people to get out. We talked a little bit about the joys in the first segment. How are they organized? How are these writings brought to us, Stephen Smith?

SS: Well, yeah, I mentioned before the break that I really have found the testimony of his contemporaries particularly valuable. And the other big source is the First Folio, which was the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s writings published in 1623. You know, if you have a cool 5 million pounds or so available, you can get one of these at auction nowadays. They’re very valuable. But they are organized into tragedies, histories and comedies, and very interestingly edited by two men he worked with, named in his will, friends of his. And these two men write a letter called To The Great Variety Of Readers, and it gives them advice about approaching Shakespeare that I think it quite good.

HH: Okay, review it.

SS: Yeah, here it is. They say he was a happy imitator of nature, he was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind and his hand went together, and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers. And then they urge the readers to read, and this is what I think is the best.

HH: What do we mean that easiness? What do you think that is? That we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers?

SS: Oh, that’s the old playhouse rumor that Shakespeare barely made any revisions.

HH: Wow. That’s what I thought it meant, that he didn’t make any mistakes.

SS: Yeah. Now the funny thing is Ben Jonson, his friend, says no, he did, he revised, and interesting Thomas More connection, Shakespeare collaborated on a play that was never produced called the Book of Sir Thomas More. In a scene in that play is in Shakespeare’s own had the only surviving example of literary writing we have from Shakespeare. And it’s quite interesting to look at, because it’s got cross outs, it’s got carets, you know, it’s got squiggles, stuff like this. So it makes you feel closer to the man. But here’s what the rest of their advice is. They say we’re not going to praise him. That’s your job. There, we hope to your diverse capacities you will find enough both to draw and to hold you. For his wit can no more lie hid than it could be lost. Read him therefore, and again and again, and then if you do not understand, if you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger. So that advice, read him again and again is really the best advice. There’s definitely a little bit of, you know, some bumps at the beginning of encountering him and reading him. He can be very difficult. But if you don’t like him after reading him again and again, these guys say, you’re in some manifest danger. So I’ve always loved that line.

HH: And they also say lead yourselves, right?

SS: Yeah, they end with this. Now we leave you to other of his friends, whom if you need can be your guides. If you need them not, you can lead yourself and others, and such readers we wish him. Now I used to just read over that and move right along, but the more I studied the plays, especially the tragedies and the histories, I discovered that this little line actually reveals one of the big themes in all of Shakespeare, which is soul leading. You know, how do we lead our souls?

HH: And I want that understood by the audience who may not have, soul leading.

SS: Yeah.

HH: How to lead a soul, a good-souled life.

SS: Yeah, and he’s preoccupied with how does Hamlet lead his life? How does Lear lead his life? How does Macbeth, how does Caesar, how does Cassius? It goes on and on. You know, when he looks at the human being, he sees, willy-nilly, a kind of leader making decisions that bring happiness or misery. That’s why prudence is so important to him. But really, that last bit, the wished-for reader of Shakespearian drama, according to these guys, those who can lead themselves and others, and I found over the years it’s precisely that art that the plays are teaching, I think, is the art of soul leading.

HH: You know, I have never considered this, and I have been talking on this show for years. As I’ve said, I’ve probably done more Shakespeare than any other single subject other than politics, and I’ve always thought of him as an observer, not an instructor, that that was his job, that he intended to observe everything and write it down so others could learn from him, but he didn’t have a point of view.

SS: I know just what you mean, Hugh. That’s why you know, with that Shakespeare monument, the whole business that he’s in the posture of the teacher, that’s why it surprised me so much when I first discovered it, because we don’t tend to think of him that way. And yet whoever made the monument did, and then his friends who worked with him in the playhouse put it this way.

HH: Well, what do you make of that argument, Larry Arnn?

LA: Well, I love the movie Shakespeare In Love, but the picture of him is so, in there, is so completely opposite from the posture in that monument, right? He’s a man driven by his passions, and impulsive, and you know, he has this genius that comes out which is sparked by love. But what these people see Shakespeare as, has a greatness that’s also a symbol of rectitude, not just far-seeing and not just beautiful, but also proper, in some way, correcting the soul. And those are the people who knew him the best. And that’s, you know, so that’s, what was he really like? Well, he lived a long time ago, and we don’t have the stories of him that we would have of somebody in the 18th, 19th or 20th Centuries. But we have that, and that’s how they chose to memorialize him.

HH: And so Stephen Smith, what do we learn about ruling from all these various characters? If it’s not merely observing and writing down so that others can study later, what’s he want you to learn?

SS: Well, I think he wants you to learn the cardinal importance of prudence. I mean, he’s one of the few artists in the world who can make prudence a completely captivating subject of study. I’ve taught for many years now, and sometimes you say the word prudence, and the folks go oh, what is that about, you know?

LA: Explain that. What is prudence?

SS: Well, that faculty of, for Shakespeare, that key faculty of decision making, you know, reason applied to, right reason applied to human action. And the more you study Shakespeare with this in mind, it becomes an urgent need. And so one of the great things about Shakespearian drama is you can actually feel the need for prudence, and you just have to observe, watch what happens when you don’t have it.

HH: How interesting.

SS: Here’s a line from King Lear. Cordelia says of her father, his life is dissolving because he lacks the means to lead it well.

HH: Wow.

SS: And that’s so, that line is so at the heart of Shakespeare.

LA: See, add this about prudence, because it’s a parallel to something that goes on in Shakespeare. The decisions we make are always made in and amidst pressures. And usually,the decisions we make are compromises of some kind. And some ill is suffered, but lesser, and some good is got, but greater. And so it’s one thing to write an essay about what the right thing to do it, but to do it when things are at stake, and when perfection is not possible? That’s what’s hard, and that involves keeping something eternal in mind while you deal with these circumstances.

HH: Didn’t bet, I’ll bet you did not think we were going there with our Shakespeare intro, but we went there. We’ll be back there when we return.

— – – —

HH: What is prudence? Well, if it is the art of right decision making, I don’t think that George W. Bush and Shakespeare have often been discussed much together, but he called himself the decider-in-chief, and that’s what presidents do, and that’s what leaders do. They decide things. And our guest, Dr. Stephen Smith, the Temple Family Chair of English at Hillsdale College, and Dr. Larry Arnn, the president of that august institution, are here talking about introductory, beginning August with Shakespeare. We’ll be spending all of August with Shakespeare – four plays in four weeks. But Dr. Smith, it wasn’t just moderns like you and Dr. Arnn who are praiseworthy of Shakespeare’s prudence and of his treatment. There are lots of other people, his contemporaries. They knew what they had in him.

SS: Yeah, I mean, he was wildly successfully commercially, but what I found interesting, you know, the monument we’ve discussed, The First Folio, these folks who are close to him, and I think in these memorials, they’re communicating something vital and revealing the heart of Shakespeare. That’s very important, because it’s so hard to see him, you know, He doesn’t speak in his own voice, we don’t have a letter from him. I edited Thomas More’s letters. We’ve got you know, 400, 500 pages of those. We don’t have a single one from William Shakespeare.

HH: That is wild.

SS: Yeah, so there’s a kind of hiddenness, and a kind of mystery to Shakespeare that can be really difficult to peer into. And I think these are some ways that are very helpful.

HH: Why do you think we don’t have any letters?

SS: I don’t know. I wonder if, you know, he and his associates in the playwright, there was such a charged atmosphere of surveillance from the government, religious controversy, I think he had a gift for not getting in trouble with the authorities.

HH: He was one of the translators of the King James Bible, correct?

SS: That’s a theory that’s out there.

HH: Okay.

SS: But not one that’s, I don’t think, widely accepted. But there are some arguments about hidden communications in the Psalms and stuff like that.

HH: Yes.

SS: It fits the profile. I mean, the King James Bible is probably the only book more successful than the First Folio of Shakespeare.

HH: But his friends, they admire him, Ben Jonson, they all admire him?

SS: Yeah, well Ben Jonson criticized him really severely during their life, but they were friends. You know, they drank together at the Mermaid Tavern. We have some surviving testimony that if you could have seen this, you know, Ben Jonson was this huge guy, and he was like the Spanish armada. If he could just get the guns of his wit trained on you, you are dead in the water. But Shakespeare was like a nimble English vessel, you know, in and out and scoring hits before Jonson could get turned around on him. So they were friends, and Jonson was a critic of Shakespeare’s, but after his death, Jonson came forward and said one of the greats lived among us. England, you know, you’ve got one to equal Greece and Rome.

HH: Wow.

SS: Yeah, so they knew.

HH: You hope people say that about your work when you’re done, it’s your friend, especially someone that you’ve been competitive with at the box office, right, someone with whom you’ve had to duel.

SS: That’s right. Yeah, I mean, he said listen, he made mistakes, the playhouse rumor about not revising is untrue, would that he had blotted out a thousand of his lines. He had all these cranky pronouncements. But he also said I loved him this side of idolatry. I just love that guy.

HH: You know, Dr. Arnn, you have to work with some pretty bright people who have to both admire, and at the same time, be urged on by the gifts of others, right? So it’s rare to find a Ben Jonson who is so generous of the other’s gifts.

LA: But that friendship began, see, that very important thing, right, because…and friendship turns into a competition to build each other up, and to give each other benefits. And that’s why it thrives and why it can abide. That’s why the longest lasting kind of friendship is love of something above the friends. And so you know, anybody whose character was not worthy would give in to resentment of Shakespeare’s beauty. You know, that very good movie, Amadeus, I don’t think that movie’s true, either, but there’s this composer, Salieri, and he’s very effective in the movie, because he translates the genius of Mozart for us to understand. On the other hand, he hated that, right?

HH: Yeah.

LA: And that means he was unworthy to be a friend.

HH: Yeah, now John Milton comes along? What’s he say?

SS: Oh, well, he, the young Milton, his first published English poem was published anonymously in the Third Folio of Shakespeare. It’s about William Shakespeare. And he makes the Socratic connection as well. He says Shakespeare’s lines are Delphic. I’ve always thought of that as, you know, to read Shakespeare, to encounter a play of Shakespeare, is like encountering the Delphic oracle. And on that oracle, we read know thyself. And so Hamlet said a play is like a mirror, and then Milton suggests it’s like encountering the oracle at Delphi.

—- – — – –

HH: Let’s go for the quick overview if we can, Dr. Smith, of the prodigious amount of work that he did.

SS: Yeah, I mean, he’s the author of 38 remarkable, astonishing, beautiful plays. That doesn’t even include two long poems and all the sonnets he wrote. And he did this in between 1590 and about 1613 or so. So in about 23 years, say, maybe, 25 years, 38 plays, two long poems, and 150-something sonnets, so a remarkably fruitful career. And some of the seasons at the Globe were just astonishing. You know, all theatres have seasons, but imagine the debut of three great Shakespeare plays in one season. It must have been thrilling. And in the First Folio I mentioned before, the plays are divided into comedies, histories and tragedies. The first play in the First Folio is The Tempest. I think that’s quite deliberate from his friends, too. They put that up front for a very…

HH: Why? Why do you think they put it there?

SS: I think they put it there because the lead character of that play leads his soul in one of the most impressive fashions in all of Shakespeare. And when you put that up front, you have a way of judging all of these other souls and all of the other plays. So if you put Prospero from the Tempest up front, you have a way of comparing him to, say, Hamlet or to King Lear or to Macbeth, or to Othello. How does each major character lead his soul?

LA: Isn’t Prospero one of the three called a philosopher?

SS: Yeah. Well, yeah, he’s the wise man as hero, as one person put it.

LA: And in the play, there’s a kind of an aerial being, kind of almost disembodied, and there’s a kind of bestial being, and so you get a sort of order of nature, and Prospero deals with that order as a human would fully.

HH: But now organization of the Folio is a very important thing to me, which I haven’t spent much time thinking about. And now you’ve given me a reason to think about it, so I want to pause there for a moment. Ought then not to read them in the order in which his friends, if he himself might have organized it, do you think?

SS: Well, that’s what we don’t know. I mean, the friends say in the opening letter don’t grudge us the office of a friend. We’re taking care of his orphans after his death. So they say he did not live to set it into the form, to publish a folio. We’re doing it for him.

HH: So we have to trust their judgment that they knew his children as well as he did, and would order them as he might have?

SS: Yeah, and you know, Ben Jonson said, when he looked at the plays of Shakespeare, he used that father-child image, too. He said he could see the father’s face in all the children. So when Ben Jonson looked at all these plays, he saw Shakespeare’s face looking back at him. But the order of the plays, the first play is the Tempest, and the last play si a very great play that’s not as well-known as it should be, Cymbeline, one of his last plays, in which Rome and England make peace together. And so the structure of the Folio is really neat. It begins with the Tempest, and then literally the last word of the First Folio is peace. So it goes from the storm to peace. It’s a neat book.

HH: Interesting. Interesting. Now Dr. Arnn, do you attach much significance to the ordering of them?

LA: Well, I don’t know as much as Steve about that, but the thing that we have, first of all, the order in which he wrote them is itself controversial. And so we don’t, that’s right, we don’t know what he thought. But these people who salute him as a teacher, they regarded themselves, therefore, as his students, and they were paying attention. And so their testimony is powerful.

HH: And so we ought to then maybe read it, I’m thinking ahead to our project here about what to pick, what to read. And I’m thinking well, maybe we ought to start with the Tempest if they did. So how do you teach it, Dr. Smith, when you sit down to do the survey course on Shakespeare? What do you begin with?

SS: I’ve tried everything, Hugh. I love to start with the Tempest, but my favorite one is from the Prince to Prospero. So from Hamlet to Prospero with this subject of soul leading right in mind.

HH: And so what’s the order you use in that course, if you begin with Hamlet and you end with the Tempest?

SS: I actually follow more or less what we think is the chronology of the plays. Now there are other ways to do it. Let me give an example. A full third of the plays are history plays.

HH: Right.

SS: And a third of them are about England. And if you take the plays, and not the order in which they were written, but in the chronological order, you discover something pretty neat, which is that Shakespeare wrote a complete history of England from pre-Christian times to Henry VIII and the book of Sir Thomas More. And so this playwright, you know, made a pretty serious, even comprehensive study of his own country over the course of his working life. And so you can study him that way. You can go from Cymbeline to Henry VIII and really discover what he thought about his own native land, its strength, its weaknesses, what it needs to prosper.

LA: And see, let me add a point about that, because that’s wonderful. That’s Steve Smith’s insight, as far as I know. If politics are natural, and Shakespeare is a student of nature, then what you can do in a play, which is fictional, is you can turn things that really happened into abstractions. You can extract what they mean by the combination of the words and the action. Well, Shakespeare did that for his whole, his own country, which would have been familiar to his audience, right?

HH: Right.

LA: And he’s teaching them, and because he has the license like you know, you get your head chopped off, as we know from Thomas More, for writing the wrong thing about the English monarchy, even in the past, then he has a license to take what happened and show what it means more safely than if he was writing a history.

HH: But with a concern not to offend the authorities.

LA: Oh, yeah.

SS: Oh, very much so. I mean, I mentioned that he had a gift for not getting into trouble. His fellow playwrights did not have that gift. So a lot of them end up in the slammer or fined and penalized, but not Shakespeare.

HH: We’ll be back. One more segment, America.

— – – – –

HH: So what is that connection, Stephen Smith?

SS: Two things. First, Thomas More was the author of the History of Richard III, and that prose, history, was the major source of William Shakespeare’s kind of breakthrough tragedy, the tragedy of Richard III. So I’ve always seen more as a teacher of Shakespeare’s wit, actually, very interesting two thinkers to compare. Secondly, Shakespeare collaborated on this play never produced called The Book of Sir Thomas More, and it’s fascinating, because it’s a positive depiction of Thomas More. It was never allowed to be produced, as far as we know. And in my opinion, Shakespeare has clear admiration for the figure of Thomas More, and wrote about him. It’s kind of a remarkable manuscript. In fact, you know, you can read on it notes from the censor, one of which reads, you know, produce the scene of the insurrection at your peril, from the censor. So that was, those were the conditions under which Shakespeare was writing.

HH: Well, my friend, David Allen White, firmly convinced that he’s a Catholic in Elizabethan England, and obliged to conduct himself as a Catholic. Do you have an opinion on that, Stephen Smith?

SS: My august conclusion at this point is that William Shakespeare was either a pagan, an atheist or a Catholic.

HH: That’s very good. That’s very interesting. We were in trouble two weeks ago when we did Luther. Now we’re going to be in trouble again.

SS: But you know, on that point, I mentioned that last play, Cymbeline, let me just tell you how it ends. These are the last lines. A letter Roman and a British flag waive friendly together. You can imagine how that would have struck people at the time, you know, to end with peace between Rome and England.

HH: How interesting.

SS: Yeah, so that’s a really great play.

HH: Wrap up for us by reminding people what Eliot said about Shakespeare.

SS: Well, he said a lot of things, but to link back to our shows on Dante, he put it this way. Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them. There is no third. So give a chance to study them together.

HH: Let’s read them together indeed. There is no third. Dr. Arnn, there is no third, but you have to come up with the list. You guys have to tell me, and where we begin next week for four weeks. And so you can send it to me, and I will tweet it out to people so that they can get going and get on with it. But it’s going to be a wonderful four weeks in Shakespeare, a wonderful August. And it’s also the year in which we found, Stephen Smith, the bones of Richard III.

SS: That’s right, and it looks like he was in fact hunchbacked.

HH: Yes, it does. It does.

SS: So hey, Thomas More has been accused of slandering him for centuries. But apparently, he had that hunchback.

HH: Dr. Larry Arnn, Stephen Smith, have a great first day of August. We’re going to have a wonderful August together.

End of interview.

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Friends and Allies of Rome