“I, My Sovereign, Watch the Clock for You” – The Living Record – Chapter 52 – The Execution of Southampton Draws Near

DAY THIRTY-ONE FOR SOUTHAMPTON IN THE TOWER
THE TIME OF HIS EXECUTION IS ALMOST UPON US
Sonnet 57
I, My Sovereign, Watch the Clock for You
10 March 1601

Crowds of London citizens have been gathering in the mornings for the expected execution of Southampton.  Meanwhile Oxford addresses his royal son directly as “my sovereign” and states his duty as his “slave” or “servant” (vassal in service to his Majesty the Prince) to “watch the clock for you.”  In the ending couplet, Oxford records the fact that the bargain for his son’s life will include his own obliteration from the official record as the author of the works attributed to Will Shakespeare.  Oxford’s popular pen name is his gift to Southampton, who therefore has both a “Will” and a royal will.

A beheading on Tower Hill

This sonnet begins the fourth chapter of ten sonnets apiece, a chapter ending with Sonnet 66, the fortieth sonnet on the fortieth day after the night of the Rebellion when Southampton was imprisoned.

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I (my sovereign) watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu.

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But like a sad slave stay and think of nought
Save where you are how happy you make those.

So true a fool is love that in your Will
(Though you do any thing) he thinks no ill.

The Tower

1 BEING YOUR SLAVE, WHAT SHOULD I DO BUT TEND

SLAVE = servant to a prince or king, as in “your servant” in line 8 below; same as one who serves “in vassalage” as in “Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage/ Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit” – Sonnet 26, line 1; “Thou factious Duke of York, descend my throne, and kneel for grace and mercy at my feet: I am thy sovereign.” – 3 Henry VI, 1.1.74-76; “Be humble to us, call my sovereign yours, and do him homage as obedient subjects” – 1 Henry VI, 4.2.6-7; “Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot.  My life thou shalt command” – Richard II, 1.1.165-166

It is the curse of kings to be attended
By slaves that take their humours for a warrant
King John, 4.2.208-209

That God forbid, that made me first your slave
Sonnet 58, line 1

TEND = “That millions of strange shadows on you tend” – Sonnet 53, line 2; “Who didst thou leave to tend his Majesty?” – King John, 5.6.32; “The summer still doth tend upon my state” – Queen Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 3.1.147; “Where twice so many have a command to tend you” – to the King in King Lear, 2.2.453-454; “Tend me tonight” – Antony & Cleopatra, 4.2.24); “The which attending from the Court, I will take my leave of your Lordship” – Oxford to Burghley, July 1581

Dedication of "Lucrece" in 1594 to Southampton

2 UPON THE HOURS AND TIMES OF YOUR DESIRE?

HOURS AND TIMES = the time being reflected in these sonnets, related to the ever-waning life of Elizabeth; UPON THE HOURS AND TIMES OF YOUR DESIRE = the times chosen by your royal will; “When was the hour I ever contradicted your desire, or made it not mine too?” – Queen Katharine pleads with the king for mercy, Henry VIII, 2.4.26-27

3 I HAVE NO PRECIOUS TIME AT ALL TO SPEND,

PRECIOUS = royal; “Tend’ring the precious safety of my prince” – Richard II, 1.1.32; “Then can I drown an eye (unused to flow)/ For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night” – Sonnet 30, lines 5-6; TIME = repeated from the previous line, emphasizing the importance of this ongoing time, now leading to the possible execution of Southampton; ALL = Southampton, his motto One for All, All for One

4 NOR SERVICES TO DO TILL YOU REQUIRE.

SERVICES = duties in service to him as prince; (“my duteous service” – Richard III, 2.1.64; “A boon, my sovereign, for my service done” – Richard III, 2.1.96; “Commend my service to my sovereign” – Henry V, 4.6.23; “My gracious lord, I tender you my service” – Richard II, 2.3.41; “To faithful service of your Majesty” – Richard II, 3.3.118; “Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers that owe yourselves, your lives and services, to this imperial throne” – Henry V, 1.2.33-35; “So service shall with steeled sinews toil, and labour shall refresh itself with hope to do Your Grace incessant services – Henry V, 2.2.36-39; “We shall present our services to a fine new prince” – The Winter’s Tale, 2.117; “Beseech your Highness, give us better credit; we have always truly served you, and beseech you so to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg, as recompense of our dear services” – The Winter’s Tale, 2.3.146-149, i.e., in service or slavery

And happily may your sweet self put on
The lineal state and glory of the land!
To whom, with all submission, on my knee
I do bequeath my faithful services
And true subjection everlastingly
King John, 5.7.101-105
(The Bastard to Prince Henry, son of now-deceased King John)

The White Tower - where Southampton is confined

“I serve Her Majesty” – Oxford to Burghley, October 30, 1584

TILL YOU REQUIRE = until you, my sovereign, command me; “The gods require our thanks” – Timon of Athens, 3.6.67-68

5 NOR DARE I CHIDE THE WORLD WITHOUT END HOUR

CHIDE = rebuke, scold, quarrel with; “A thing like death to chide away this shame” – Romeo and Juliet, 4.1.74; THE WORLD WITHOUT END HOUR = eternity; (“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end” – Morning Prayer Service); END HOUR = perhaps a play on “endower” – i.e., Henry Wriothesley, if he is not the King, can no longer “endow” the Tudor dynasty; he was “the world’s fresh ornament” in Sonnet 1, line 9, but now “the world” will be “without” him as its “endower.”

6 WHILST I (MY SOVEREIGN) WATCH THE CLOCK FOR YOU.

MY SOVEREIGN = Oxford speaking to his royal son as his prince or king; “The purest spring is not so free from mud as I am clear from treason to my sovereign” – 2 Henry VI, 3.2; “Comfort, my sovereign!  Gracious Henry, comfort!” – 2 Henry VI, 3.2.37; “Good morrow to my sovereign King and Queen!” – Richard III, 2.1.47; “A boon, my sovereign, for my service done” – to the King in Richard III, 2.1.96; “My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege” – Richard II, 1.1.21; “The King, thy sovereign” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1.25; “Be humble to us, call my sovereign yours and do him homage as obedient subjects” – 1 Henry VI, 4.2.6-7

WATCH THE CLOCK FOR YOU = Remain vigilant while the time leads to the hour when you may be executed; keep recording this time in these verses; wait with mounting anxiety over your impending execution; “To play the watchman ever for thy sake” – Sonnet 61, line 12; “so vexed with watching and with tears” – Sonnet 148, line 10; “The special watchmen of our
English weal” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1.66; “For sleeping England long time have I watched” – Richard II, 2.1.77; “What watchful cares do interpose themselves betwixt your eyes and night?” – Julius Caesar, 2.1.98-99; stand guard for you and your blood; “To guard a title that was rich before” – King John, 4.2.10

7 NOR THINK THE BITTERNESS OF ABSENCE SOUR,

BITTERNESS OF ABSENCE = the pain of your absence of liberty, of your absence from me, of your absence from the rest of England, being in the Tower; “Th’imprisoned absence of your liberty” – Sonnet 58, line 6; “O absence, what a torment” – Sonnet 39, line 9; “From you have I been absent” – Sonnet 98, line 1; “I will acquaintance strangle and look strange,/ Be absent from thy walks” – Sonnet 89, lines 8-9, referring to the “walks” he shared with
Southampton on the roof of his prison quarters within the Tower fortress; SOUR = hurtful

Dedication of "Venus and Adonis" in 1593 to Southampton, who is "the world's hopeful expectation," just as he is "the world's fresh ornament" in Sonnet 1

8 WHEN YOU HAVE BID YOUR SERVANT ONCE ADIEU.

YOUR SERVANT = your Majesty’s loyal and faithful servant; “Servant in arms to Harry King of England” – 1 Henry VI, 4.2.4; “Fit counselor and servant for a prince” – Pericles, 1.2.63; “The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever” – Horatio to the Prince in Hamlet, 1.2.162

9 NOR DARE I QUESTION WITH MY JEALOUS THOUGHT

DARE = Oxford speaking of his need to remain silent or be charged with treason for proclaiming his son’s right to the throne; “Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee,/ Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me” – Sonnet 26, lines 13-14; JEALOUS = (“Vehement in feeling, as in wrath, desire, or devotion … Zealous or solicitous for the preservation or well-being of something possessed or esteemed; vigilant or careful in guarding” – OED); “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Host” – Geneva Bible, 1560, 1 Kings 19.10

10 WHERE YOU MAY BE, OR YOUR AFFAIRS SUPPOSE,

WHERE YOU MAY BE = within the Tower; YOUR AFFAIRS = you affairs of state; “What one has to do … business” – OED; “But what is your affair in Elsinore?” – Hamlet, 1.2.174; “So I thrive in my dangerous affairs” – the King in Richard III, 4.4.398; “To treat of high affairs touching that time” – King John, 1.1.101; to Queen Elizabeth: “To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side” – Sonnet 151, line 12

11 BUT LIKE A SAD SLAVE STAY AND THINK OF NOUGHT

SAD SLAVE = unhappy servant; SLAVE = “a person who is absolutely subject to the will of another” – Schmidt; repeated from line 1; NOUGHT = nothing; an image of Southampton as “none” (the opposite of “one”) and “nothing” or a “nobody” in the prison; Oxford must think of “nothing” and so he may think of his son, who is “nothing” in the eyes of authority

12 SAVE WHERE YOU ARE HOW HAPPY YOU MAKE THOSE.

Except how happy you make those who are in your royal presence, i.e., those other criminals or traitors in the Tower; SAVE = except; WHERE YOU ARE = in the Tower; HAPPY = (“Health to my sovereign, and new happiness” – 2 Henry IV, 4.4.); THOSE = the other prisoners (and even the guards) in the Tower

Elizabeth

13  SO TRUE A FOOL IS LOVE THAT IN YOUR WILL

TRUE = Oxford, his motto Nothing Truer than Truth; FOOL = Oxford had pictured himself as a Jester or “allowed fool” at Court (allowed by the Queen), who wrote “comedies” laced with political satire and appeared to make a fool of himself; IN LOVE = in service of the royal blood; YOUR WILL = your royal will, with a play on “Will” Shakespeare, the pseudonym Oxford created in order to publicly support his son

14 (THOUGH YOU DO ANY THING) HE THINKS NO ILL.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

HE = love, i.e., royal blood can do no ill; also Oxford, as loving father; NO ILL = as opposed to the “ill deeds” of the Rebellion, i.e., Southampton must repent (and forfeit the crown) and this act, with Oxford’s sacrifice of his own identity, will “ransom all ill deeds” – Sonnet 34, line 14; perhaps a play on “illegitimate”, i.e., Oxford still “thinks no ill” or thinks his son is not illegitimate; “If some suspect of ill masked not thy show” – Sonnet 70, line 13, referring to Southampton as a “suspect traitor” who has been convicted
and is now in the Tower facing execution

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, in the Tower (8 Feb 1601 - 10 April 1603) - being held here until Robert Cecil engineers the succession of King James

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Hank,

    Are you aware that Edward de Vere quite probably left a remarkable clue to his identity as the author of both Venus & Adonis and Lucrece, hidden in their dedications? One that lies in plain sight once you know where to look?

    In V & A his name appears in lower case but in Lucrece, as if to re-assert his authorship he has shown his name beginning with a capital V. The two dedication references (in the bodies of text) are in the 2nd last line in V & A and the 4th last line in Lucrece. In fact, this latter reference could even plausibly be read as a mission statement…’Vere my worth greater, my duty would show greater’,…

    Knowing de Vere’s fascination with punning on his name, could this not be a valid reading of the text? It is unprovable of course, but it would amount to two more pieces of circumstantial evidence for de Vere.
    I cannot find any references to this interpretation anywhere on the web, but I’m sure someone must have noticed it before.
    Your thoughts on this theory are appreciated.

    Regards, Lee

    • Lee, that’s a good one and soon I’ll put up the dedications on the main blog page, so we can all look at the two dedications. I think we tend as part of human nature, and as part of conditioning, to miss what’s right in front of us. Thanks. Hank

  2. Hi Hank,
    Thanks for your comment. I believe that this is the first direct evidence (to an Oxfordian) that de Vere wished his name to be associated with the first two works published, in quick succession, under his pseudonym “William Shakespeare”.

    I understand that you are advising Robert Emmerich in some way with ‘Anonymous’. If this is so, are you able to tell me what you think of the storyline, that is if you are aux fait with it? I gather it will be based around the PT theory, because it seems as though it will feature Southampton and the Essex uprising. Wouldn’t this scenario be too much for the general public to accept at one go? Better To reveal the man behind the pseudonym first and then perhaps the PT theory as a sequel, once the de Vere role becomes widely discussed and hopefully accepted?
    You thoughts on this are appreciated.
    Lee


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