Oh, Now I Get It — Sonnet 46 is not just a cute little poem…

I was just about to move on from Sonnet 46 when something struck me in the category of, “Why hadn’t I thought of that before?”

Westminster Hall,  a sketch circa 1620

Westminster Hall, a sketch circa 1620

Here I’d been talking about how Sonnets 37-46 are focused on the treason trial of Essex and Southampton on 19 Feb 1601 at Westminster Hall, ending with a metaphorical trial in Sonnet 46; but suddenly I realized that Oxford was mirroring his own divided self as a judge who’d been forced to render a guilty verdict against Southampton.

“Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war,” he begins Sonnet 46, summing up the torturous inner conflict he must have endured — having to condemn Southampton to death (on Robert Cecil’s instructions) precisely to gain the possibility of saving him!

Interior of Westminster Hall

Interior of Westminster Hall

“Thy adverse party is thy Advocate,” he’d told Southampton  in Sonnet 35, expressing a form of the same conflict.   “Such civil war is in my love and hate.”

In Sonnet 46 the civil war between “eye” and “heart” is between his rational and emotional sides.  His eye (rational) claims “the outward part,” but his heart (emotional) holds the “inward love of heart.”

Translation:  “I did my outward duty to the state by finding you guilty of high treason, but my heart contradicted that by continuing to love you.”

I wrote in THE MONUMENT that Oxford “recreates his entire experience of the trial” in Sonnet 46, but I hadn’t recognized the verse as such an accurate, specific, deeply personal expression of his own divided self on the tribunal at Westminster Hall.   Surely it was one of the worst moments of his life.

Westminster Hall - another view

Westminster Hall - another view

On the surface Sonnet 46 seems to be merely clever,  a sustained conventional metaphor in the form of a legal dispute between eye and heart.  Only when these lines are placed within the framework of Oxford’s painful inner conflict, at the trial, do they acquire their real power.

Here again is Sonnet 46, with some of the legal terms emphasized:

Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye, my heart thy picture’s sight would bar

Oxford was highest-ranking earl on the tribunal of 25 peers at Westminster Hall, where they were duty bound to find both Essex and Southampton guilty of high treason

Oxford was highest-ranking earl on the tribunal of 25 peers at Westminster Hall, where they were duty bound to find both Essex and Southampton guilty of high treason

My heart, mine eye the freedom of that right;
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie
(A closet never pierced with crystal eyes),
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To ‘cide this title is impanelled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart,*
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eyes’ moiety, and thy dear heart’s part:
As thus, mine eyes’ due is thy outward part,
And my heart’s right, their inward love of heart.

* Quest = Jury

Published in: Uncategorized on September 29, 2009 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  

How Did Oxford Build His Monument for Southampton? “The Living Record” – Chapter 42

More than a few readers have asked how Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford would have built the “monument” of the Sonnets in terms of its numerical structure.  If this was a kind of diary, wouldn’t real-life events dictate the design for him?  My answer  is that he built the structure by creating “fixed yardsticks or units” of measurement.

For example, the first seventeen sonnets (1-17) numerically match the first seventeen years in the life of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton up to 1591 — a yardstick or unit measuring one sonnet for each year.

In 1591 William Cecil Lord Burghley was pressuring seventeen-year-old Southampton to marry his granddaughter; and Oxford was using the seventeen sonnets to increase the pressure on him. (Behind the marriage proposal was the prospect of gaining Burghley’s crucial support for Southampton to succeed Elizabeth I on the throne.)  But in August 1591, when the Queen and Lord Burghley visited Southampton, he rejected any Cecil alliance in favor of one with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and the whole project blew apart — severely limiting if not obliterating his chances to become King Henry IX.

When Southampton was imprisoned on 8 February 1601 for the Essex Rebellion and faced death for high treason, Oxford strung together nine more sonnets (18-26) to cover the nine years from 1592 to 1600.  As a result, Sonnets 1-26 represented Southampton’s first twenty-six years of life up to the year before the Rebellion.

Using that fixed measurement of twenty-six sonnets, Oxford would later insert twenty-six sonnets to create the Dark Lady series (127-152) on the other side of the 100-sonnet center:

1———26   27————————-126  127———152
(26 sonnets)     (100 sonnets)                 (26 sonnets)

Upon the tragedy of the Rebellion Oxford began writing the equivalent of one sonnet per day, starting with Sonnet 27 and continuing until either Southampton’s life was spared or he was executed.  (Oxford would have written them in clusters of two or three or several at a time, then arranged them accordingly.)  His new yardstick measured one sonnet for each day.

The tension kept building until the third week of March 1601, when, without any public notice, Southampton was reprieved.  Oxford marked the event with Sonnet 66 on 19 March 1601, the very day after the final executions of other conspirators were carried out.  So the first “fixed element” of the central sequence was a string of forty sonnets (27-66) covering forty days:

Sonnets 27 – 36 = 10       (Feb 8 to Feb 17)
Sonnets 37 – 46 = 10       (Feb 18 to Feb 27)
Sonnets 47 – 56 = 10       (Feb 28 to March 9)
Sonnets 57 – 66 = 10       (March 10 to March 19)
40 sonnets = 40 days

The Queen kept her son in the Tower facing permanent confinement; but now, regardless of whatever else occurred, Oxford could write forty more verses (67-106) to create a central sequence of eighty sonnets, with 66-67 as the midpoint:

27——————–66 67———————106
(40 sonnets)          (40 sonnets)

Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that to die, I leave my love alone.

Sonnet 66, lines 13-14

(He will not kill himself and leave his son “alone” in the Tower.)

Ah wherefore with infection should he live,
And with his presence grace impiety…?

Sonnet 67, lines 1-2

(Why should Southampton live in prison with criminals, lending them the “grace” of his royal “presence” in the Tower?)

[ADDED NOTE: Once Oxford has established forty sonnets for the forty days from the Rebellion of 8 Feb 1601 to 19 March 1601, he does NOT need to continue representing one sonnet per day; the key is that he now has the first forty sonnets as a fixed number, so from here on all he needs to do is include forty more, regardless of the time period they may represent. And at that point Oxford will have an initial “monument” of 40 + 40 sonnets.]

Later Oxford will add twenty more verses (107-126) to create the 100-sonnet central sequence of Sonnets 27-126, with a new midpoint of Sonnets 76-77:

27—————————-76 77—————————-126
(50 sonnets)                  (50 sonnets)

All along the way, Oxford created simple measuring formulas that dictated aspects of his structure but also gave him flexibility in the completion of his final numerical arrangements.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 at 3:48 am  Comments (3)  

A Reply to Critics of Those Who Study the Shakespeare Authorship — and a Challenge

It’s tiresome to read the negative remarks about those of us who doubt the traditional view of Shakespeare authorship and who have concluded that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford wrote the great works.   For example, the latest one [from Alex Beam of the Boston Globe] asserts:

“The search for the ‘real’ Shakespeare is a collective madness … The case for de Vere seems modest at best.  He wasn’t much of a poet, and his greatest champion is a now-forgotten author named Looney [cheap shot!].  Two of his main fans are the superannuated [low blow!] Supreme Court justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia … ”

Most of the critics who calls us “snobs” or “conspiracy nuts” [gimme a break] have no real interest in Shakespeare, much less do they care about the history of Elizabethan England, nor do they feel any need to learn about Oxford’s tumultuous life – despite the fact that he was at the center of the “renaissance” of English literature and drama in the 1570’s and 1580’s leading to (and making possible) the sudden appearance of “Shakespeare” in 1593.

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Arthur Golding, whose translation of Ovid in the 1560’s became the English source used throughout the Shakespeare works, was Oxford’s uncle who lived under the same roof at Cecil House while producing that translation.

John Lyly and Anthony Munday, whose literary and dramatic works were used as contemporary sources for the Shakespeare works, were both employed by Oxford.

Edward de Vere and “William Shakespeare” had a lot in common.  If they were separate individuals, they certainly should have known each other!  Here’s just a small sampling of some of the statements that contemporaries of Edward de Vere made to and/or about him:

“Hereon when your honour shall be at leisure to look, bestowing such regard as you are accustomed to do on books of Geography, Histories, and other good learning…” – Thomas Twyne, 1573

“For a long time past Phoebus Apollo has cultivated thy mind in the arts.  English poetical measures have been sung by thee long enough.  Let that courtly epistle, more polished even than the writings of Castiglione himself, witness how greatly thou dost excel in letters; I have seen many Latin verses of thine, yea even more English verses are extant.” – Gabriel Harvey, scholar, 1578

J. Thomas Looney

J. Thomas Looney

“Mark him well; he is but a little fellow, but he hath one of the best wits in England.  Should he take thee in hand … I prophesy there would be more gentle readers die of a merry mortality engendered by the eternal jests he would maul thee with..” – Thomas Nashe, pamphlet writer, to Gabriel Harvey, 1580, referring to Harvey having “incensed the Earl of Oxford against you.”

“Where it hath pleased your Honour to commend unto me and the heads of [Cambridge University] my Lord of Oxford his players, that they might show their cunning in certain plays already practiced by them before the Queen’s Majesty…” – John Hatcher, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, 1580, to William Cecil Lord Burghley

“Since the world hath understood – I know not how – that your Honour had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favourably perused it, being as yet but in written hand, many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press, that for their money they might but see what your Lordship, with some liking, had already perused.” – Thomas Watson, poet, 1582

“Your Honour being a worthy favourer and fosterer of learning hath forced many through your excellent virtue to offer the first-fruits of their study at the shrine of your Lordship’s courtesy.” – Robert Greene, writer, poet, dramatist, 1584

“I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honourable and noble Lords and Gentlemen in Her Majesty’s Court, which, in the rare devices of poetry, have been and yet are most skillful; among whom the right honourable Earl of Oxford may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest.” – William Webbe, 1586

“Your Lordship, whose infancy from the beginning was ever sacred to the Muses” – Angel Day, author, 1586

“The Earl of Oxford and Master Edwards of Her Majesty’s Chapel [do deserve the highest praise] for Comedy and Enterlude … And in Her Majesty’s time that now is are sprung up another crew of Courtly makers [poets] … who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble gentleman Edward Earl of Oxford.” – anonymous, The Arte of English Poesie, 1589

“And also for the love which thou dost bear/ To the Heliconian imps [the Muses of poetry and drama] and they to thee,/ They unto thee, and thou to them most dear” – Edmund Spenser, poet, 1590, in a dedicatory sonnet to Oxford

“The best for Comedy among us be Edward Earl of Oxford…” – Francis Meres, author, 1598

“For without flattery be it spoke, those that know your Lordship know this, that using this science [music] as a recreation, your Lordship have overgone most of them that make it a profession.” – John Farmer, composer, 1599

“Your wit, learning and authority hath great force and strength in repressing the curious crakes of the envious.” – Dr. George Baker, medical expert, 1599

“Most, most, of me beloved, whose silent name/ One letter bounds” — John Marston, dramatist, 1599, apparently referring to the name “Edward de VerE,” which is bounded by the single letter E.

“He was beside of spirit passing great,/ Valiant and learned and liberal as the sun,/ Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects, / … And ’twas the Earl of Oxford.” – George Chapman, poet and dramatist, after 1600

Not a bad set of references!

Imagine Hamlet greeting the players … writing a dozen or so lines to insert in one of their speeches … having them put on a play for the monarch and the Court … and you might as well be imagining Edward de Vere bringing his players to perform for Queen Elizabeth and her Court.

I challenge anyone who criticizes those of us who study the authorship question to investigate contemporary England during the lifetime [1564-1616] of the man traditionally perceived as the author and follow the contemporary evidence to discover Will of Stratford-upon-Avon as the writer.  I challenge current Stratfordian believers such as Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro to try finding him this way.

They can’t find him.

I challenge them to list five contemporary English sources for the Shakespeare works and see if they find Edward Earl of Oxford.

They can’t avoid him.

“And By Their Verdict” – The Living Record – Chapter 41

Excerpts from The Monument for Sonnets 43-44-45-46

Waiting for the execution of Essex and attempting to save Southampton’s life, the Earl of Oxford returns to the theme of the first of the prison verses, Sonnet 27, when his royal son appeared to him as “a jewel hung in ghastly night.”  In the daytime, he sees Southampton as “un-respected” (a convicted traitor in disgrace); at night, during sleep, he sees him in dreams as the true royal prince.  The “Summer’s Day” of Southampton’s royal blood has turned to darkness, shadow, and night; reality itself has been turned inside out.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Sonnet 43 – “In Dead Night” – 24 Feb 1601

When I most wink, then do mine eyes best see;
For all the day they view things un-respected,
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Execution of Essex – 25 Feb 1601

“The death of Essex left Sir Robert Cecil without a rival in the Court or cabinet, and he soon established himself as the all-powerful ruler of the realm.”  – Agnes Strickland, Elizabeth, 1906, p. 675

“The fall of Essex may be said to date the end of the reign of Elizabeth in regard to her activities and glories.  After that she was Queen only in name.  She listened to her councilors, signed her papers, and tried to retrench in expenditure; but her policy was dependent on the decisions of Sir Robert Cecil.”- Charlotte Stopes, The Life of Henry, Third Earl of Southampton, 1922, p. 243

Sonnet 44 – “Heavy Tears” – 25 Feb 1601

Essex is executed by beheading at the Tower of London.  Robert Cecil has gained all power to engineer the succession upon Elizabeth’s death; and Oxford will be forced to go through Cecil, his brother-in-law, to save Southampton’s life.  In the eighth line he makes an unmistakable reference to the Tower as “the place” – a common euphemism for the monarch’s fortress-like prison.  Alluding indirectly to the death of Essex’s mortal body (“the dull substance of my flesh”), Oxford refers to the first two of the four “elements” (earth, water, air, and fire) of life.  He writes of having to attend “time’s leisure” (the Queen’s pleasure or royal will) that will likely lead to Southampton’s death, and he records his funereal “moan” over this impending loss.  Oxford and Southampton share “heavy tears” and “woe” over the tragedy of this wrongful execution.

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then, despite of space, I would be brought
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay;
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee,
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah, thought kills me, that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan;
Receiving naughts by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.

“You both shall be led from hence to the place from whence you came” – the Lord High Steward, speaking to Southampton and Essex at the end of the trial on 19 Feb 1601

Robert Cecil

Robert Cecil

Sonnet 45 – “Thy Fair Health … Swift Messengers” – 26 Feb 1601

The Privy Council takes note of Southampton’s “long sickness, which he hath had before his trouble.”  His health is poor and he’s being treated both for a quartain ague and a swelling in his legs and other parts of his body. Messengers on horseback bring word to Oxford from the Tower that Southampton’s health has been stabilized.  Oxford rejoices, but then, sadly, sends them back to the Tower with more correspondence (perhaps some of these sonnets) for his imprisoned son.  (His “fair” health = his “royal” health.)

The other two, slight air, and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide:
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These, present absent, with swift motion slide;
For when these quicker Elements are gone
In tender Embassy of love to thee,
My life being made of four, with two alone
Sinks down to death, oppressed with melancholy,
Until life’s composition be re-cured
By those swift messengers returned from thee
Who even but now come back again assured
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me.
This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
I send them back again and straight grow sad.

Sonnet 46 – “By Their Verdict” – 27 Feb 1601

Oxford continues his daily sonnets by again pledging his devotion to Southampton, addressing him as his royal son.  In this verse, he recreates the entire experience on the “quest” (jury) at the trial, leading to the “verdict” of guilt by which Southampton continues to face execution.

Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye, my heart thy picture’s sight would bar
My heart, mine eye the freedom of that right;
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie
(A closet never pierced with crystal eyes),
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To ‘cide this title is impanelled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart,
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eyes’ moiety, and thy dear heart’s part:
As thus, mine eyes’ due is thy outward part,
And my heart’s right, their inward love of heart.

Execution on Tower Hill

Execution on Tower Hill

So ends the second chapter:

CHAPTER ONE: THE CRIME: Sonnets 27-36    8 Feb – 17 Feb 1601

CHAPTER TWo: THE TRIAL: Sonnets 37-46   18 Feb – 27 Feb 1601

The sequence of 100 sonnets at the center of the monument is structured as a book of 10 chapters, each containing ten sonnets. Chapter Two – The Trial concludes, appropriately, with a trial whose jury members render “their verdict” as Oxford and the other peers on the tribunal had been forced to issue a guilty verdict against Essex and Southampton.

Pleading for Mercy – “The Living Record” – Chapter 40 – Southampton Writes to the Privy Council to Save His Life

Twenty-seven-year-old Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton wrote several letters to the Privy Council from the Tower of London soon after his trial of Feb. 19, 1601, when he was condemned to death as a traitor.

Southampton in the Tower, reduced from Lord to Commoner as "Mr. Henry Wriothesley" or in legal terms "the late earl"...

Southampton in the Tower, reduced from Lord to Commoner as "Mr. Henry Wriothesley" or in legal terms "the late earl"...

According to the Monument theory, Sonnets 27-66 cover this crucial time when fifty-year-old Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, after being forced to act as his son’s “adverse party” on the tribunal of peers sitting in judgment, was now acting behind the scenes as Southampton’s “advocate” or legal counsel trying to save his life.

“Thy adverse party is thy Advocate,” Oxford tells him in Sonnet 35, and Southampton is following his advice by saying he had not intended any treason and by begging for Her Majesty’s mercy.

There’s a remarkable correspondence between the legal terminology in Southampton’s letters to the Council and the words that Oxford uses in his private sonnets to Southampton:

“I beseech your Lordships be pleased to receive the petition of a poor condemned man,” Southampton writes, “who doth, with a lowly and penitent heart, confess his faults and acknowledge his offences to her Majesty.”

“Let me confess that we two must be twain” – Sonnet 36

“All men make faults” – Sonnet 35

“Th’offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.” – Sonnet 34

Hank performing "Shake-Speare's Treason"

Hank performing "Shake-Speare's Treason"

“What my fault hath been your Lordships know to the uttermost, wherein, howsoever I have offended in the letter of the law, your Lordships I think cannot but find, by the proceedings at my trial, that my heart was free from any premeditate treason against my sovereign, though my reason was corrupted by affection to my friend [Essex] (whom I thought honest) and I by that carried headlong to my ruin, without power to prevent it, who otherwise could never have been induced for any cause of mine own to have hazarded her Majesty’s displeasure but in a trifle: yet I can not despair of her favor, neither will it enter into my thought that she who hath been ever so renowned for her virtues, and especially for clemency, will not extend it to me, that do with so humble and grieved a spirit prostrate myself at her royal feet and crave her pardon.”

“To you it doth belong
Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime” – Sonnet 58
(Southampton has it in his power to agree to the bargain Oxford has made with Robert Cecil, requiring him to renounce any claim to the throne so he can gain a royal pardon)

“O let her never suffer to be spilled the blood of him that desires to live but to do her service, nor lose the glory she shall gain in the world by pardoning one whose heart is without spot, though his cursed destiny hath made his acts to be condemned, and whose life, if it please her to grant it, shall be eternally ready to be sacrificed to accomplish her least commandment.”

“When hours have drained his blood” – Sonnet 63

“My lords, there are divers amongst you to whom I owe particular obligation for your favors past, and to all I have ever performed that respect which was fit, which makes me bold in this manner to importune you, and let not my faults now make me seem more unworthy than I have been, but rather let the misery of my distressed estate move you to be a mean to her Majesty, to turn away her heavy indignation from me.  O let not her anger continue towards an humble and sorrowful man, for that alone hath more power to dead my spirits than any iron hath to kill my flesh.”

Kill me with spites” – Sonnet 40

“Ah, but thought kills me” – Sonnet 44

“My soul is heavy and troubled for my offences, and I shall soon grow to detest myself if her Majesty refuse to have compassion of me.

“But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe” – Sonnet 44

“The law hath hitherto had his proceedings, whereby her justice and my shame is sufficiently published; now is the time that mercy is to be showed.  O pray her then, I beseech your lordships, in my behalf to stay her hand, and stop the rigorous course of the law, and remember, as I know she will never forget, that it is more honor to a prince to pardon one penitent offender than with severity to punish many.

“Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief” – Sonnet 34

“Loving offenders, thus I will excuse thee” – Sonnet 42

“To conclude, I do humbly entreat your Lordships to sound mercy in her ears, that thereby her heart, which I know is apt to receive any impression of good, may be moved to pity me, that I may live to lose my life (as I have been ever willing and forward to venture it) in her service, as your lordships herein shall effect a work of charity, which is pleasing to God; preserve an honest man (howsoever now his faults have made him seem otherwise) to his country; win honor to yourselves, by favoring the distressed; and save the blood of one who will live and die her Majesty’s faithful and loyal subject.”

“But weep to have that which it fears to lose” – Sonnet 64

“Thus, recommending my self and my suit to your Lordships’ honorable considerations; beseeching God to move you to deal effectually for me, and to inspire her Majesty’s royal heart with the spirit of mercy and compassion towards me, I end, remaining,

“Your Lordships’ most humbly, of late Southampton, but now of all men most unhappy,

H. Wriothesley

(Charlotte Stopes, The Life of Henry, Third Earl of Southampton, 1922, pp 225-226; Salisbury Papers, vol. XI, p. 72; “after Feb. 19, 1601”)

“Julia and Paul” – My Lunch With Julia Child and her husband Paul

JULIA AND PAUL — That was the title of a story I wrote for PARADE magazine in 1982, back in the days when I was blissfully unaware of any question about the authorship of the Shakespeare works.   I was sent by editor Walter Anderson to interview Julia as she was about to become food editor of the magazine; and to my surprise I was invited into her home in Santa Barbara, CA, to have lunch with her and her husband Paul.   What a treat!

I was busily writing books, articles and TV documentaries, never thinking that five years later my life would undergo a sea change as a result of being introduced to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), whose life seemed too similar to that of Prince Hamlet to be coincidental.   Ah, but enough of that for now.  The beautiful new movie Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (and Stanley Tucci as Paul) has inspired me to recover a copy of the story from my musty files…

I hope you like my one-page portrait, which I’ve reproduced below in addition to including an image of it:

PARADE - Feb 28, 1982

PARADE - Feb 28, 1982

Julia Child stands in her kitchen in Santa Barbara, CA, a dish towel hooked around her apron string, vigorously chopping vegetables and grinding herbs as her husband, Paul, looks on fondly. A Sunday-afternoon meal of soupe au pistou becomes a celebration of their life together — a love story that would be difficult to make more perfect.

They and their guests move out to the dining room table by a window overlooking the ocean.  The Mediterranean vegetable soup is served with hot French bread and white wine.  Glasses are held by the stems so that when they are clinked together in a toast, they sound like musical chimes.

“Le carillon de l’amitié,” Julia exclaims.

“The bells of friendship,” Paul echoes.

There is warmth and camaraderie and exuberance in the air. It comes from Julia’s spontaneous merriment, from Paul’s quiet appreciation, from their shared passion for fine food and for each other. On this day, Paul is moved to express his deep feelings about the famous woman to whom he has been married for 35 years.

“We met in Ceylon during World War II,” he begins, explaining that they both had been sent to the China-Burma-India theater as members of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.  He was a painter making maps for the OSS.  A confirmed bachelor of 41, he had lived in Paris during the expatriate era of the 1920s, learning to love the French language and cuisine.

“I wasn’t going to marry anybody.” Paul says, “but when we met, I liked her right away.”

At that time,  she was Julia McWilliams, 31, originally from Pasadena, CA.  She had joined the OSS hoping to become a spy, winding up instead as a tile clerk. At Smith College, she had majored in history and earned a reputation as a prankster.  Now she was an aspiring novelist who had made her living as a public-relations writer. And so far, she had never tasted French food or done any serious cooking.

“She had certain qualities that appealed to me very much,” Paul continues.

“Brains, that’s one. And crazy humor, a lot of it. Guts. Ability. And she was interested in food, as I was.”

“Food didn’t bring us together,” Julia interrupts with a laugh. “I liked you.”

“I loved to look at her. I thought she was beautiful.”

“Eye of the beholder,” Julia quips.

“I liked the way she talks, and—”

“We thought the same way—”

“—and the sound of her voice. I liked that she was tough and worked like mad and never gave upon things. And I was automatically drawn to her outgoingness and sympathy for human beings. I could live in a cave, but she likes people, and I respond to that.”

“I wasn’t ready to marry anyone until I met Paul,” says Julia. “He brought out my nesting instincts. He was interested in food and—”

“She’s a wolf, by nature. Always hungry.”

“—and he was sophisticated. I wouldn’t have done nuttin’ without him.”

“It was a kind of human chemistry.” Paul continues. “We met and started a new fizzz going off. When we were sent to China, we told each other:  ‘If we can get through this war and survive, we must get married. And then we must do everything together that we possibly can.’”

Julia nods at him across the table.  “That’s the nice thing about a good marriage,” she says.

“And we’ve done it.”

A few years after their marriage in 1946, Paul was assigned to the American Embassy in Paris. With her first taste of French food, Julia was hooked. It was an “intoxicating revelation,” which made her plunge with fervor into the art of French cooking. And she has never looked back.

As a coauthor of the two volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child helped to create the most thorough teaching books on the subject in English and her television appearances have done much to make French cooking a part of our culture.

Paul, who calls her “Julie” once in a while, says that the public and private “Julies” are the same. “She speaks the truth,” he says. “She’s not showing off. No phoniness.  She’s just her self.  And this is so when she’s writing or talking. Julie is always Julia.”

“It’s a great deal of fun as a career,” she says, adding that the “profession of
gastronomy” should not be disparaged.  “I think a country is only really civilized when it can take food as an art form. A meal doesn’t have to be like a painting by Raphael, but it should be a serious and beautiful thing, no matter how simple. And it’s a wonderful time to talk, the way we are now. What nicer way for a family to get together and communicate?

Which is what life is all about, really.”

Paul and Julia Child have been breaking bread together for a long time, and yet their enthusiasm for that communication has never dwindled. After Paul resigned from foreign service in 1961, they settled in Cambridge, MA.  A third home is in the south of France.

While his wife has continued to expand her involvement in cooking and teaching, he has produced exquisite works as a painter, sculptor, photographer and cabinet-maker.

“We both need long, quiet, agonizing periods by ourselves,” Julia says, “so it works out very nicely. We always have something to do. So I think we are very fortunate in having interests that coincided. If we’d had children, we wouldn’t have had the life we have. They just never came. By now, we’d be grandparents, and that would be nice, but we’re not unfulfilled.”

Paul gazes at her and smiles. No more words are needed.

By Hank Whittemore

“Lay On Me This Cross” – The Living Record – Chapter 39

Traditionally Sonnets 40, 41 & 42 have been viewed as the poet’s reaction to the youth’s betrayal of him by stealing his mistress.  The point  here, however, is that this perception represents only the surface, just one side of the “double image” created by Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, who, in his real-life record running in parallel, is actually referring to Queen Elizabeth.  The time is February 1601 and she (because of the now all-powerful Secretary Robert Cecil) has  imprisoned their son, Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton, who has been convicted of high treason and sentenced to die.

At the high point of this sequence, near the end of Sonnet 42, he presents a vision of himself as Jesus bearing the Cross on Calvary — or perhaps as Simon of Cyrene being made to carry it for Him.

Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross…

The traditional view inevitably leads to the question whether “Shakespeare” is really serious about this biblical image of himself and his suffering.  Given the imagined context (his young male lover in bed with his mistress), it seems way over the top.  Moreover the lines are followed by this couplet:

But here’s the joy, my friend and I are one;
Sweet flattery!  Then she loves but me alone.

Sounds like a joke, eh?  Katherine Duncan-Jones deserves credit for commenting candidly:

“The claim that the woman, in loving the youth, actually loves only the poet, is both logically and emotionally weak. First, the argument that love for one person is really love for another is inherently implausible; and secondly, the poet has made it quite clear in preceding lines of the sonnet that what he cares about is the young man’s defection, not the woman’s.”

Two of those preceding lines to Southampton, are:

That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,
As loss in love that touches me more nearly.

Within the real-life context that this is Southampton’s father writing of his son’s imprisonment and death sentence, the same words of suffering no longer appear “logically and emotionally weak,” but finally do make logical and emotional sense.

The actuality, I argue, is that this is Oxford’s record for posterity of how he chose to save Southampton’s life by (1) persuading him to give up any claim of succession and (2) sacrificing his own identity as the father of Southampton and as author of the immortal works printed under the “Shakespeare” pen name.

In Sonnet 44 he will refer to “heavy tears, badges of either’s woe” (yours and mine), more directly reflecting the context of Southampton’s imprisonment and the verdict of guilt.

In Sonnet 46 he will wrap up this “chapter” (37-46) with a stream of words reflecting the recent treason trial [at which Oxford served as highest-ranking earl on the tribunal and was forced to join the unanimous verdict of guilt for both Essex and Southampton:  (“plead … defendant … plea deny … impanelled … quest [jury] … verdict”).

Traditionally these words create a sustained metaphor.  Well, yes, but here again that’s just one half of the double image. The other half is a sustained personal and political reality.

The Living Record Resumes – and a word about the Rival Poet

Our chronicle of the Sonnets as “the living record” of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (and his royal claim as the son of Oxford and Elizabeth) will resume in place of my “critique of the critique” of the Monument theory by Lynne Kositsky and Roger Stritmatter — two leading members of the current Oxfordian movement and the Shakespeare Fellowship.  It’s all the same subject, anyway — the Sonnets! — and I’ve realized that attempting to write two narratives at once is, frankly, not a good idea.

Having said that, I’d like to use this space (as this Labor Day Weekend begins) to state or re-state plainly and simply that the so-called Rival Poet of Sonnets 77-86 is NOT any real individual of flesh and blood but, rather, the PEN NAME that Oxford adopted in 1593 and 1594 on the dedications of Venus and Adonis and Lucrece. I know, it’s difficult to wipe away a preconceived notion or idea to make room for a wholly different one; but, folks, this is actually the crux of the matter:

Edward de Vere wrote the Sonnets to leave behind him a “monument” of verse to preserve “the living record” of Southampton up to the moment of the royal succession in 1603; and in the process, he recorded why and how he had to bury his name or identity behind the mask of Shakespeare.

J. Thomas Looney wrote in 1920:  “The identity of the young man of the sonnets with the one to whom the long poems were dedicated is further attested by sonnets 81 and 82.”

He first cited these lines from Sonnet 81:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die…

Your monument shall be my gentle verse…

Looney continued:  “As, then, the name of Southampton is the only one which the poet has associated with his verse, not even excepting his own, it is difficult to see how the young man addressed could be any other than he; especially as the companion sonnet [82] proceeds,

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
And therefore may’st without attaint o’erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.

Sonnets 81 and 82 are within the so-called Rival Poet series, wherein Oxford gives us a clear signal that the “rival” he’s talking about is the pen name “Shakespeare,” behind which he must die to “all the world.”

The printed name “Shakespeare” is the “better spirit” that can praise Southampton publicly while Oxford can’t speak:

Sonnet 80:

O how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might
To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame!

Sonnet 86:

Was it his spirit [“Shakespeare’s”]
taught to write above a mortal pitch
That struck me dead?
When your countenance filled up his line,
Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

Oxford’s sacrifice is part of the bargain to save his son (Southampton) from execution and gain the promise of his release from the Tower.  The terrible irony is that he makes this bargain with the enemy, Secretary Robert Cecil, whom he must help to bring James of Scotland to the throne instead of his own royal son.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Critiquing the Critique – 9

Arguing that most of Sonnets 27-126 contain “no evident connection” to the events of the Essex Rebellion of February 8, 1601 and, too, that some of the sonnets “manifestly cannot be about either,” Kositsky and Stritmatter continue:

“For example, Sonnets 71-74 are all meditations on the poet’s imminent death.  In these and other sonnets, the poet repeatedly emphasizes the fair youth’s surviving him, a curious emphasis indeed if the youth is living in the Tower  under a death sentence.”

A little earlier, in Sonnet 66, Oxford recorded his reaction to the decision in March 1601 to spare Southampton’s life, the price being his loss of any hope for the crown.  Now, however, the younger earl faces the prospect of spending his life in the Tower; and Sonnets 71-74 are arranged AFTER this reprieve, when Oxford’s fear that he might outlive his own son is replaced by the reality that he, a generation older, will most likely die first.  He also uses these same sonnets to record the necessary sacrifice his own identity, both as Southampton’s father and as author of the magnificent “Shakespeare” works, which he had dedicated to Southampton:

When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse.
Sonnet 71, lines 10-11

My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
Sonnet 72, lines 11-12

Right here we have incontrovertible evidence that the poet of the Sonnets is deliberately predicting, and recording, his own obliteration upon his death.

“Furthermore, many sonnets in the hundred-sonnet sequence [27-126] address the youth as an object of consolation to whom the poet turns when distressed by other circumstances:

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
Sonnet 30, lines 13-14

“Why would the poet be consoled by, or find joy in, the idea of his beloved if that beloved is incarcerated?”

Would a suffering father not turn to his own son for consolation?  Regardless of the tragic situation for Southampton, he finds joy in the truth of him as a prince.

“This couplet and many others make no sense of the context as defined by Whittemore and Boyle.”

I say it’s the other way around: the context of THE MONUMENT allows that couplet and all the others to make sense for the first time!

“Both writers create the illusion of such a connection only through the adroit selection of certain words and phrases with no regard for their immediate or larger context as parts of sonnets or sonnet sequences.”

THE MONUMENT demonstrates in every line that the sonnets are written simultaneously on two entirely different levels of meaning, one fictional and universal or timeless, the other nonfictional and specific:

And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name
Sonnet 76, lines 7-8

The first level is that of the “noted weed” or familiar costume of love poems; the second level is the true story being recorded.  Therefore he is ALMOST — i.e., not quite directly — revealing his own “name” or identity as well as the story.

“We have already considered Sonnet 27.  Let us now examine the evidence Whittemore presents for linking subsequent sonnets to Southampton’s imprisonment.  He states:

“Identifying with the younger earl’s plight, [the poet] records in 29 that he himself is ‘in disgrace with fortune (the Queen) and men’s eyes’ in the same way Southampton is suffering in the Tower.”

“However, a close reading of the sonnet shows that the poet is not in any way identifying with ‘the plight’ of the addressee, but talking of his own disgrace, which is again compensated for by his pleasant thoughts of the youth”:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising)
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Sonnet 29, lines 9-14

But when these sonnets are viewed as chronological entries of a diary, they can be read IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER; and then it becomes obvious that Oxford is expressing a range of different and even contradictory emotions WITHIN THAT CONTEXT OR FRAMEWORK.

Yes, in Sonnet 29 he finally thinks of Southampton and gains comfort. He continues this theme until, in Sonnet 34, he turns to the matter of Southampton’s own guilt and disgrace as the ‘offender’ whose crime has affected Oxford’s own life; and here he makes it plain that it’s the son’s offense that produces his own wretchedness:

Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief’
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss;
Th’offender’s sorry lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s loss.
Sonnet 34, lines 9-12

And in the couplet that follows, Oxford once again finds comfort in his thoughts of Southampton:

Ah, but those tears are pearl which thy love sheeds,
And they are rich, and ransom all ill deeds.
Sonnet 34, lines 13-14

The basic situation is a familiar one: the father is made angry and distraught (and finds himself disgraced) by the “ill deeds” of his son, but he simultaneously still values the son and their relationship above all else.

This emotional conflict is expressed fully in the next verse, in which Oxford quite plainly identifies with Southampton’s plight:

Sonnet 35

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both Moone and Sunne,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.

All men make faults, and even I, in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing their [thy] sins more than their [thy] sins are:

For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense;
Thy adverse party is thy Advocate,
And ‘gainst my self a lawful plea commence;
Such civil war is in my love and hate

That I an accessory needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

So the comment about Sonnet 29 (“the poet is not in any way identifying with ‘the plight’ of the addressee, but talking of his own disgrace”) must be seen in relationship to the other “entries” of this diary; and in this case, just five sonnets later we come to Sonnet 35 and Oxford’s virtually total identification with Southampton’s plight.

“Whittemore’s evidence connecting Sonnet 30 to the Privy Council trial of Essex and Southampton is even less credible:

‘Oxford records in 30 that the Privy Council will summon him to the Sessions or Treason Trial of Essex and Southampton to sit as the highest ranking earl on the tribunal of peers who will judge them.’

“Here Whittemore mistakes a metaphorical use of the words sessions and summon for a literal one. The ‘sessions’ to which the poem refers are the poet’s own imaginative sessions of ‘sweet silent thought’ and the ‘summoning’ is not of the session, but of a ‘remembrance of things past.’ Although legal metaphors do permeate this sonnet (and many others), there is no mention here of a trial, except perhaps in the most oblique Proustian sense (i.e. a psychological ‘trial’ at which the writer is defendant, advocate, and judge).   Moreover, even if one understood ‘sessions’ and ‘summon’ to be literal rather than metaphorical, the direct link to the Southampton trial would still be un-established.  Although Whittemore does not acknowledge the fact, these terms apply to many different kinds of trials, not just capital crimes such as treason.”

On the most immediate level the legal terms “sessions” and “summon” in this sonnet are metaphorical – of course!   But when the same sonnet is viewed within the context that Oxford knows he will be summoned to the treason trial or “sessions” of Southampton as a peer sitting in judgment, the same words leap from the page with additional meaning and specific reference.

(“This sessions,” begins King Leontes in act 3, scene 2 of THE WINTER’S TALE, and he’s referring specifically to a treason trial.)

THE MONUMENT places Shakespeare’s Sonnets within a new context that yields a new perception of their meaning.  In 400 years no other suggested context has been able to make sense of the form and content of the entirety of the 154 sonnets; but it’s only by such means that these verses can begin to be understood.

“Compounding these implausibilities, Whittemore attempts to identify Southampton as one of the ‘precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.’ (30.6) As the ‘friends’ are described in the third person and the youth in the second person, this is clearly not a viable reading.”

Oxford uses the third person for Southampton (and his friends, if you will) in the main body of Sonnet 30 and then, only in the ending couplet, turns to address Southampton in the second person:

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend…

If the word “friends” is in the third person, can the poet be identifying Southampton?  Take the opening line of the Sonnets:

From fairest creatures we desire increase
Sonnet 1, line 1

The poet can be viewed as referring to all the fairest creatures of the world, but more specifically ALSO to the singular Fair Youth of the Sonnets as one of them.   (He’s the “fairest creature” or “most royal child.”)  This is the third person but, as the critique writers themselves know, Oxford is addressing just one person, Southampton — a point generally accepted.

“Additionally, the youth cannot be one of the ‘precious friends,’ as they are already dead.”

The opening lines of Sonnet 30 are:

When to the Sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste.

Then can I drown an eye (un-used to flow)
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night…

Viewing Southampton as an accused traitor who will probably be executed, it would be difficult to describe him with more lyrical tenderness and sadness than to place him among “precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.”

Essex and Southampton are facing a joint trial — the two friends who, on instructions of Secretary Robert Cecil, will be found guilty by unanimous verdict and sentence to death.

“He [Southampton] is, instead, exactly as in Sonnet 29, providing solace for the poet’s ‘losses…and sorrows’ — acting, in other words, as a replacement for those already gone. When the poet calls the addressee ‘the grave where buried love doth live’ in Sonnet 31, his meaning is transparent and has nothing to do with the imprisonment or imminent execution of the addressee; rather, the youth has become the repository for the poet’s lost loves.  This reading is without ambiguity, for the poet continues:

THEIR images I loved I view in THEE,
And thou, ALL they, hast ALL the ALL of me.

Sonnet 31, lines 13-14 (emphases in first line added by the critique; in the second line by me)

In the final line of Sonnet 31, quoted above, Oxford is simply saying that his love for Southampton covers all those he has loved in his life and whom he carries within him.  (As Hamlet says to his friends, “Your loves, as mine to you.” – 1.2.273)  ALL his loves (and those he has loved) are within himself’; and, because Southampton claims ALL of Oxford’s love, Oxford and his loves are ALL within his son, echoing Southampton’s own motto “One for All, All for One”.

This meaning is somewhat similar to that of Oxford’s dedication of LUCRECE to Southampton:  “What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in ALL I have, devoted yours.”  (emphasis added)

Legal Support for Elizabeth as Dark Lady

The Monument theory proposes that the so-called Dark Lady is none other than Queen Elizabeth, who kept the Earl of Southampton in the Tower for more than two years until she died on March 24, 1603 and King James set him free a few weeks later; and I’d like to share some new corroboration that I’ve recently found.

In August I obtained a rare book entitled Commentaries on the Law in Shakespeare: With Explanations of the Legal Terms Used in the Plays, Poems and Sonnets; and Discussions of the Criminal Types Presented, written by Edward Joseph White and published in 1911.   The entire text of the book is presented online by Google Books!

It’s a fascinating book in which White shares his massive, detailed evidence that Shakespeare was not only a legal expert but knew “more about criminology and criminal motives and instincts than any other known writer on the subject.”

On page 511 he takes up Sonnet 107 as corresponding to Southampton’s release from prison in the spring of 1603:

Sonnet 107, lines 1-4:

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.

He comments:  “These lines clearly refer to a conditional or determinate lease of realty, which is a contract between the lessor and the lessee, for the possession of land, for a fixed or determinate period, for a certain consideration, to be void, or forfeited, on the breach of some certain condition. The Poet had considered his love, formerly possessed, forfeited and ended by Southampton’s confinement in the Tower, but on the death of Elizabeth, the supposedly forfeited lease or tenancy of his friend’s love becomes again a vitalized, live estate, subject to no limitations or forfeiture in law. (Emphasis added)


Then he moves to Sonnet 134 of the Dark Lady series:

Sonnet 134, lines 1-4

So, now I have confess’d that he is thine
And I am mortgaged to thy will,
Myself I’ll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore to be my comfort still.

He comments: “This verse clearly refers to the confinement of Southampton in the Tower.” (Emphasis added)

Whether White realized it or not, his statement leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Poet is speaking to Queen Elizabeth, his sovereign Mistress, who is confining Southampton in her prison fortress, the Tower.

He continues:  “And the former verse [Sonnet 133] expresses the Poet’s desire to be permitted to go his bail, by substituting his own person for that of his friend, in jail.”

Sonnet 133, lines 9-12:

Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,
But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe’er keeps me, let my heart be his guard:
Thou canst not then use rigor in my jail.

Again it follows of necessity that the Poet is addressing the Queen, who is a “dark” lady only because of her negative attitude and actions toward Southampton.  The poet (whom I believe to be Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford) tells Elizabeth in Sonnet 131, line 13 that her darkness has nothing to do with physical appearance:

In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds

I hope to add White’s commentary in future editions of The Monument, which continues to draw new evidence in its support.

His rather complicated remarks (for a layman) on Sonnet 134 conclude:

“A mortgage is the temporary pledging of land in security for a debt due the mortgagee, by the mortgagor. The land itself, not being susceptible of a manual delivery, the mortgagee holds the mortgage as an evidence of his right to the land as security for his debt until it is paid. The only way to create a mortgage in early times was to give livery of seisin of the freehold estate, thus passing the estate to the mortgagee. On breach of the condition of the mortgage, to pay the debt the estate was forfeited and became the absolute property of the mortgagee. And the Poet here proffers to forfeit himself as security for his friend, recognizing that the condition of the obligation is broken.”

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