“The Living Record” – 7

In 1859, some four decades after Nathan Drake had made the first suggestion of Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of  Southampton as the fair youth of the Sonnets, a researcher identifying himself in The Athenaeum as “W. C. J.” noted that suggestions of Southampton’s motto ONE for ALL, ALL for ONE appear throughout.  The author adapted this motto “in different ways with considerable poetic and idiomatic license,” he added, citing three examples:

Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing,
Whose speechless song, being many seeming one.       Sonnet 8

And thou, all they, hast all the all of me.                          Sonnet 31

Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.                                Sonnet 105

Charlotte Stopes wrote of the Sonnets in 1922: “The twined threads of biography and autobiography are there on which to string the pearls of Shakespeare’s thought; and these twined threads can only be woven to fit Henry the third Earl of Southampton.  Shakespeare had no second dream; all his songs and praises were addressed ‘to one, of one, still such, and ever so.’ This was but a variant of Southampton’s motto.”

(The word “all” is used 118 times in the Sonnets; “one” appears thirty-nine times; and “alone” (combining ‘all’ and ‘one’) is used seventeen times.  Echoes of “one” are in “none” and  “won” and “wondrous.”)

Sonnet 105 is one of the two “instructional” verses cited in Chapter 5; and it’s loaded with further echoes of Southampton’s motto:

One thing expressing leaves out difference…
Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument…
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
Fair, kind, and true, have often lived alone,
Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.

The other “instructional” verse, 76, contains the most important line of the entire sequence:   “Why write I still all one, ever the same.”

By inserting the earl’s motto, the poet was stating in both 76 and 105 that Southampton is the “one” subject of the Sonnets.

(The phrasing of “all one, ever the same” also incorporates Queen Elizabeth’s motto “Semper Eadem,” which she translated as EVER THE SAME.)

FOOTNOTE: Why did it take more than two centuries after the 1609 printing of the Sonnets for someone to suggest Southampton as the fair youth?

*  The  quarto of the Sonnets was suppressed and copies went underground until 1711; then it was not until 1780 when Edmund Malone observed that 1-126 must be to/about a male, not a female.

*  Scholars recognized that William of Stratford, a commoner, could not have had an intimate association with the Earl of Southampton.  Neither a friendship nor a love affair was possible.

* Therefore, given the assumption that Stratford Will was “Shakespeare,”  scholars had to rule out  Southampton as the “fair youth.”

Yet in 1817 Nathan Drake followed his own common sense and identified Southampton as the younger man. But this tended to rule out the Stratford man as the poet, leading to the “authorship question” that continues today.

Meanwhile the use of the mottos is evidence of a possible “special language” at work in the Sonnets…

Published in: Uncategorized on December 16, 2008 at 5:13 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Very interesting, Hank. I believe ONE for ALL, ALL for ONE later became the motto of the Three Musketeers.

    • Thank you for reminding me, Mouse. Yes, the three inseparable buddies of the Alexandre Dumas novel of 1844 used the motto One for All, and All for One.

      By the way, W.C.J. reported in 1859 that he learned of that motto used by Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton from a portrait painting of him (circa 1619, I believe) and Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford (son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who had used the pen name “Shakespeare”). He reported that “over each of their heads their shield of arms and mottoes are placed,” Southampton’s being Ung par Tout, Tout par Ung or One for All, All for One. That’s how he found out about the motto.

      He also noticed that The Rape of Lucrece, dedicated to Southampton in 1594, contains in its 21st stanza the line “That one for all, or all for one we gage.”

      And, too, he speculated, “I have little doubt Lord Southampton took his motto in compliment to the Queen from one of her own choice, Semper Eadem (Ever the Same) — he well knowing there is no flattery so sincere as that of imitation.” Given this statement, I find it curious that he failed to notice the line in Sonnet 76: “Why write I still all one, ever the same.” Maybe he did but had no idea what to make of it!

  2. Hank,

    any way you look at it Shakespeare had a relationship with Southampton as the Dedicatee of the two poems. Both those poems came into being through the help of Richard Field.

    Furthermore if we look at the family tree of Shakespeare we find his mother was a member of the Arden family distantly related to Southampton’s prominently Catholic family.

    As for a sexual relationship, since when has station in life ever stopped a pair of determined lovers? I believe the nomenclature nowadays is rough trade!

    yours,
    W.


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