More on this Exciting Year for Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford…

There’s much excitement in the “Oxfordian” community these days, with blogs and books and films — not to mention a new online “gallery” devoted to Oxford — pouring forth.  Much of this activity, intentional or otherwise, appears to be in anticipation of Anonymous, the first feature film about Edward de Vere as Shakespeare, with which I begin this partial listing:

ANONYMOUS – the movie from producer-director Roland Emmerich and SONY Pictures to be launched in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2011 (unless the date changes again).  The cast includes Rhys ifans as Edward de Vere, Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I, Derek Jacobi as Prologue, Mark Rylance as Gloucester and Edward Hogg as Robert Cecil.

Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I in "Anonymous"

The trailer is exciting!  In my view any publicity about the Shakespeare authorship question is good publicity, simply because those who control this issue within the academic world have ensured that the subject has been virtually unknown to the majority of teachers, professors and students – or else it has been ridiculed and ignored.

Now there will be questions, more and more of them.   Now the effort to intimidate questioners will not be so successful.  Now, at last, the investigations and the debates will begin on a wide scale.

What I know, also, is that Anonymous will be much closer to the truth than Shakespeare In Love, which, nonetheless, in my view, is a wonderful movie — which depicts the general truth that “Shakespeare” must have been motivated to write his plays by much more important personal matters than the box office.

Charles Beauclerk, author of "Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom"

THE EDWARD OXENFORD REVIEW: Notes Towards the Next Biography of Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford – the blog from Marie Merkel, who is serving up some of the best current writing on the subject. See Marie’s thoughtful and challenging review of SHAKESPEARE’S LOST KINGDOM: The True History of Shakespeare and Elizabeth by Charles Beauclerk, issued this year by Grove Press.

WILLIAM NIEDERKORN’s reviews of Shakespeare-related books in THE BROOKLYN RAIL – the latest a terrific critique of DATING SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS: A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE, edited by Kevin Gilvary with contributions of other members of the De Vere Society in England.

"Dating Shakespeare's Plays"

SHAKE-SPEARE’S BIBLE.COM – the blog from Roger Stritmatter, Ph.D., featuring, among many other fine essays, the series from an indomitable Stratfordian-minded fellow named Mr. Tom Weedy, who has been listing “Reasons Shakespeare was Shakespeare” – perhaps, if I may be so bold, in an attempt to frighten me into abandoning my “100 Reasons” for believing that Shakespeare was Oxford.  Well, we shall see!

THE SHAKESPEARE GUIDE TO ITALY: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels, by Richard Paul Roe – due from Harper Perennial on November 8, 2011.  This book from the late Dick Roe is a ticking time bomb (or a “sleeping smoking gun,” if you prefer) that may well take the Stratfordian world by surprise.

"The Shakespeare Guide to Italy" by Richard Paul Roe

A privately printed edition was issued last year, shortly before the author’s death, and much of it reads like a good-old-fashioned detective story, with Roe tracking down gem after gem of discoveries about the personal experience of Italy that “Shakespeare” needed in order to write Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale and, yes, The  Tempest.

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT – a documentary film on the Shakespeare authorship question, from producers Laura Matthias and Lisa Wilson.  It will take a look at the issue and the “Shakespeare” claimants with focus on Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, providing additional information and insights to complement the film Anonymous by Roland Emmerich.

New Bust of the True Shakespeare

THE VERILY SHAKESPEARE GALLERYa new online store from Ben August of Houston, who commissioned a bust of Edward de Vere to replace the old (and incorrect) icons.

When I first jumped into this arena in 1987, it occurred to me that inevitably over the next two or three generations there will be more writings, more video and film, more books and other kinds of communication on this subject than on nearly every other topic.  Why?  Because once the true authorship and meaning of “Shakespeare” are generally accepted as fit for investigation and study, there will be the need for a massive revision of history and biography – on a scale that can hardly be measured at this point.

The biographies of William and Robert Cecil, of Queen Elizabeth and King James, of Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson – etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! – will have to be rewritten in order to perceive these individuals within a wholly different relationship to Edward de Vere.

Rather than depicting them as superior to the madcap, eccentric, scandal-plagued earl, they will be viewed when placed beside the genius who led the renaissance of English literature and drama (and thereby helped to rouse support for unity against Spain) before going on to revise his works into the masterpieces of “Shakespeare” that have filled our shelves and stages from then to now.

It’s quite a privilege — and lots of fun — to be around for this critical stage of the revolution.

Reason No. 9 Why “Shakespeare” was Edward de Vere seventeenth Earl of Oxford: “I AM THAT I AM”:

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM’: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” — Exodus, 3.14

To my knowledge only two individuals during the Elizabethan age declared in writing, “I AM THAT I AM,” and apparently they did so within identical contexts: the author of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford.

William Cecil Lord Burghley & His Mule

After composing a letter to his father-in-law William Cecil Lord Burghley on 30 October 1584, Edward de Vere signed off in his own hand.  Then he added a postscript bitterly protesting the chief minister’s attempts to use his own servants to spy on him.   He set forth the facts and continued (with my emphases):

“But I pray, my Lord, leave that course, for I mean not to be your ward nor your child.  I serve her Majesty, and I AM THAT I AM, and by alliance near to your Lordship, but free, and scorn to be offered that injury to think I am so weak of government as to be ruled by servants, or not able to govern myself.  If your Lordship take and follow this course, you deceive yourself, and make me take another course than yet I have not thought of.  Wherefore these shall be to desire your Lordship, if that I may make account of your friendship, that you will leave that course as hurtful to us both.”

(When Oxford warns, “If your Lordship take and follow this course, you … make me take another course than yet I have not thought of,” it appears that he anticipates King Lear’s outburst against his two selfish daughters, “I will do such things – what they are yet I know not; but they shall be the terrors of the earth.” – 2.4.280)

The other personal use of I AM THAT I AM occurs in Sonnet 121, which follows here with my emphases on SPIES as well as I AM THAT I AM; and can’t you feel the same mind at work?  The same protest … the same angry, accusing voice?

Sonnet 121

Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,

When not to be receives reproach of being,

And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed,

Not by our feeling, but by others’ seeing.

For why should others’ false adulterate eyes

Give salutation to my sportive blood?

Or on my frailties why are frailer SPIES,

Which in their wills count bad what I think good?

No, I AM THAT I AM, and they that level

At my abuses reckon up their own.

I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;

By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;

Unless this general evil they maintain:

All men are bad and in their badness reign

Dissertation on Oxford’s Geneva Bible by Dr. Roger Stritmatter

God’s words to Moses “I AM THAT I AM” are in the Geneva Bible, a gilt-edged copy of which Edward de Vere had purchased in 1569/70 from William Seres, stationer; and thanks to the landmark studies by Dr. Roger Stritmatter of that same copy, held by the Folger Library in Washington, D.C., we can be sure that the earl was intimately acquainted with its passages.  To put it bluntly, both Oxford and “Shakespeare” were biblical experts – one more reason why, in our view, they were one and the same.

Referring to the likelihood that Oxford’s postscript and Sonnet 121 were written virtually at the same time in response to the same situation, Percy Allen wrote in 1930: “So forcible, individual, and wholly characteristic an expression … is a very strong piece of corroborative evidence.” *

Sonnet 121 is positioned within Sonnets 107 to 126 — a sequence which, as expressed in The Monument, uses one sonnet per day from Sonnet 107 (Southampton’s release from the Tower on 10 April 1603) to Sonnet 125 (Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on 28 April 1603) and Sonnet 126 (the “envoy” of farewell).  This sequence is a thundering “movement” concluding the fair youth series to/about Southampton, but in no way does it preclude Oxford having originally written Sonnet 121 at the time he wrote the 1584 postscript; the likelihood is that he pulled out this old verse to use in the final construction of his “monument” for Southampton.

Here is my take on Sonnet 121 as it appears in The Monument:

THE FINAL DAYS

FOUR DAYS TO THE QUEEN’S FUNERAL
Sonnet 121
24 April 1603

Oxford records his commitment to the truth rather than to false appearances.  He repeats the words of God to Moses in the Bible – I AM THAT I AM – in echo of a postscript to Lord
Burghley in 1584, when Southampton was ten years old:  “I serve her Majesty, and
I am that I am.”  In reality, as father to a rightful king, he should be Elizabeth’s consort on the throne and, therefore, a king or god on earth entitled to use God’s words of self-description. Oxford here recalls his own postscript, related to “spies” working for Burghley and poking into his personal affairs.  Nearing the end of his diary, he also sums up his own life to be preserved in this monument.

1 ‘TIS BETTER TO BE VILE THAN VILE ESTEEMED,

“It’s better to be vicious that to be thought vicious” – Tucker; VILE = wicked; criminal; in this case, treasonous; “That I was of a strange and vile nature” – Oxford, in a memo circa 1601-1602, Cecil Papers 146.19; Chiljan, 72; quoting false charges against him; ‘TIS BETTER, etc. = Oxford would rather have the genuine guilt for his son’s crime than merely to be deemed guilty without making any sacrifice for him; “This vile traitor, Somerset” – 1 Henry IV, 4.3.33; TO BE = echoing Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, with “not to be” in line 2 below; indicating that he is undoubtedly revising Hamlet (Q2 of 1604) by now; ESTEEMED = deemed in the eyes of others, recalling the theme of Sonnet 29, line 14:  “Then I scorn to change my state with kings”

2 WHEN NOT TO BE RECEIVES REPROACH OF BEING,

WHEN NOT TO BE, etc. = when not actually wicked but blamed for being such; NOT TO BE = the other half of “To be or not to be,” the soliloquy of Hamlet, its full version to be published in the next year, 1604.

3 AND THE JUST PLEASURE LOST, WHICH IS SO DEEMED,

JUST = legal; the word “just” is on Oxford’s mind in this final Fair Youth sequence: “Just to the time, not with the time exchanged” – Sonnet 109, line 7; “And on the just proof surmise accumulate” – Sonnet 117, line 10; and it was on his mind near the end of the Dark Lady series, when Elizabeth was in her final eclipse: “Who taught me how to make me love thee more,/ The more I hear and see just cause of hate?” – Sonnet 150, lines 9-10; JUST PLEASURE = the happiness Oxford derives from having made a legal bargain for his son; also, for Southampton’s  “royal pleasure”; DEEMED = judged; “The Rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem/ For that sweet odor which doth in it live” – Sonnet 54, lines 3-4

4 NOT BY FEELING BUT BY OTHERS’ SEEING.

NOT, etc. = “Not in our opinion, but in the view of others” – Booth; Oxford and Southampton
do not agree with the loss of the throne, but that was arranged by others, i.e., Cecil and James; and the truth is that Southampton should have succeeded; OTHERS’ SEEING = the “others” see only the dark guilt of Southampton, and are unaware of or refuse to see (or take into account) his royal blood; in effect, they are blind and see only “darkness which the blind do see” – Sonnet 27, line 8

5 FOR WHY SHOULD OTHERS’ FALSE ADULTERATE EYES

FALSE = opposite of True, related to Oxford; also “false” related to treason as in “false traitor”; ADULTERATE = counterfeit; not truthful or real; FALSE ADULTERATE EYES = the false view of others that Southampton is a traitor; “I am thy King, and thou a false-heart traitor” – 2 Henry VI, 5.1.143; also, the false view that he is not a king by blood; “Why should false painting
imitate his cheek” – Sonnet 67, line 5; “Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue” – Sonnet 138, line 7, referring to Elizabeth; 6 GIVE SALUTATION TO MY SPORTIVE BLOOD?

SALUTATION = (“And in his private plot be we the first to salute our rightful sovereign with honor of his birthright to the crown” – 2 Henry VI, 2.2.5961; “Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths, even in the presence of the crowned king” – 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-54); Oxford giving salutation to Southampton as a king; MY SPORTIVE BLOOD = i.e., Oxford’s reckless blood that is also part of Southampton’s reckless blood; echoing the royal blood of his son; “And that fresh
blood
which youngly thou bestow’st” – Sonnet 11, line 3

7 OR ON MY FRAILTIES WHY ARE FRAILER SPIES,

OR ON MY FRAILTIES, etc. = why do weaker people look on my weaknesses; “Frailty, thy  name is woman!” – Hamlet, 1.2.152, another indication that Oxford is revising that play at this time (see lines 1-2 and 8); FRAILER = lack of royal blood, i.e., less royal than my son, i.e., Robert Cecil, but even King James is less royal by blood than Southampton; SPIES = William and Robert Cecil both relied heavily on spies to assist them in running the government; recalling the spies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, hired by Polonius-Burghley.

William Cecil Lord Burghley with his son and successor Robert Cecil, who both used networks of spies and informants

8 WHICH IN THEIR WILLS COUNT BAD WHAT I THINK GOOD?

WILLS = royal wills; the royal will of James; a play on “Will” Shakespeare; COUNT BAD WHAT I THINK GOOD = add up his royalty as nothing good or genuine = “To leave for nothing all thy sum of good” – Sonnet 109, line 12; “For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking
makes it so” – Hamlet, 2.2.250-251; COUNT = as in praying upon the Rosary beads: “Nothing, sweet boy, but yet like prayers divine,/ I must each day say o’er the very same,/ Counting no
old thing old, thou mine, I thine” – Sonnet 108, lines 5-7; referring to the accounting of Southampton’s royal blood; “What acceptable Audit can’st thou leave?” – Sonnet 4, line 12; “Her Audit (though delayed) answered must be,/ And her Quietus is to render thee” – Sonnet 126

9 NO, I AM THAT I AM, AND THEY THAT LEVEL

I AM THAT I AM = “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM” – Exodus, 3.14; I am myself alone – Richard in 3 Henry VI, 5.6.83; “you alone are you” and “you are you
– Oxford to Southampton, speaking to his royal son as king or god on earth, in Sonnet 84

"I serve her Majesty..."

“I serve Her Majesty, and I am that I am, and by alliance near to your Lordship, but free, and scorn to be offered that injury to think I am so weak of government as to be ruled by servants, or not able to govern myself.  If your Lordship take and follow this course, you deceive yourself, and make me take another course than yet I have not thought of.”

– Oxford writing to his father-in-law William Cecil Lord Burghley, the most powerful man in England, on October 30, 1584 – in a postscript in his own hand, when Southampton was ten years old and a ward of the Queen in Burghley’s custody.  Oxford was complaining about Burghley planting servants to spy on him (see “spies” in line 7 above); and in passing he angrily (and indirectly) reminded him that he, Oxford, was the father of a royal son and virtually a king entitled to be Elizabeth’s king-consort.

“Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him I follow but myself: Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty but seeming so, for my peculiar end, for when my outward action doth demonstrate the native act and figure of my heart in complement extern, ‘tis not long after but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at: I am not what I am” – Othello, 1.1.56-64

I am not as I seem to be,

For when I smile I am not glad:

A thrall although you count me free,

I, most in mirth, most pensive sad.

I smile to shade my bitter spite…

– Oxford poem, signed E. O. The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576

O that you were yourself, but love you are

No longer yours than you yourself here live

Sonnet 13, lines 1-2

(In the above lines, Oxford is reminding Southampton that he is no longer what he appears to be; i.e., he is a royal prince who cannot be himself in public)

This is I, Hamlet the Dane!

Hamlet, 5.2.255, the prince asserting his identity and independence

LEVEL = aim; “the direction in which a missive weapon is aimed” – Dowden; “The harlot king
is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank and level of my brain” – The Winter’s Tale, 2.3.6

10 AT MY ABUSES RECKON UP THEIR OWN:

AT MY ABUSES, etc. = at my deceptions; “Is it some abuse?”– Hamlet, 4.7.49; RECKON UP THEIR OWN = add up their own lies; recalling “reckoning time” of Sonnet 115, line 5

11 I MAY BE STRAIGHT THOUGH THEY THEMSELVES BE
BEVEL.

BEVEL = heraldic for crooked; alluding to Oxford’s brother-in-law, the hunchbacked Robert Cecil, and his crooked physical figure

12 BY THEIR RANK THOUGHTS MY DEEDS MUST NOT BE
SHOWN,

RANK = despicable, foul, festering, large, grievous, bloated, serious, growing ever worse; “O, my offense is rank” – Hamlet, 3.3.36, King Claudius to himself; “Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” – Hamlet, 1.2.136, the Prince, speaking of the world and specifically the state of
Denmark; the terrible, sinful thoughts of others who have deprived Southampton of his claim; but Oxford must stay silent; suggesting high rank or office; ranked in battle order

13 UNLESS THIS GENERAL EVIL THEY MAINTAIN:

UNLESS, etc. = unless they admit their evil openly and generally; unless they want to make the
following general argument:

14 ALL MEN ARE BAD AND IN THEIR BADNESS REIGN.

ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for OneALL MEN ARE BAD = Southampton is as “bad” or guilty as all men; but this is ironic, sarcastic; earlier, in the Dark Lady series, Oxford wrote to the still-living Elizabeth in desperate anger: “Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad,/ Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be” – Sonnet 140, lines 11-12

Southampton commissioned this portrait of himself in the Tower after his release by King James in April 1603.

“Why, then, ‘tis none to you; for there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so” – Hamlet, 2.2.250

AND IN THEIR BADNESS REIGN = and he “reigns” as King; (i.e., Oxford standing the whole
picture on its head, reverting back to line 1; so it’s better to be a real king, i.e., one with true rights, than just to be esteemed as one; and if his son is regarded as un-royal, then he should “reign” as king anyway); the new ruler is King James, along with Robert Cecil; and they are reigning over England in all their evil or badness; REIGN = the final word of the sonnet, emphasizing the true nature of the verse as political and related to the issue of whose reign  it should be.

“Save her alone, who yet on th’earth doth reign …” – Oxford poem, The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576, referring to Queen Elizabeth

* The Case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare” by Percy Allen, 1930

“Anonymous” the Movie to Focus on the End Game of Elizabethan Politics, the Essex Rebellion and the Succession to Queen Elizabeth

Well, it’s good to see the trailer for Anonymous, due in September from Roland Emmerich, about Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as Shakespeare; and in the view from this corner, it’s great to see that the film will apparently focus on the “end game” of political power struggles leading to the Essex Rebellion in February of 1601, the imprisonment of co-leaders Essex and Southampton, the execution of Essex and the succession to Elizabeth in March of 1603.

These, after all, were not only the Earl of Oxford’s concerns but those dramatized by “Shakespeare” in his plays of English royal history, which mirrored contemporary issues and helped to prepare citizens for the inevitable changes that would follow the Queen’s death.  Such is the concern of the Sonnets, as expressed in The Monument, which sets forth the political “story” recorded by Oxford using the language and form of the poetry of love.

Because of a single movie, this generation of students will be the first to learn there’s even a question about the authorship of the Shakespeare works – a fact which, I’d say, boggles the mind.

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