Reason No. 11 (Part Two): Oxford’s Dedicatory Letter is Filled with Words, Thoughts and Expressions to be Used by “Shakespeare”

The Oxford Universal Dictionary cites “Shakespeare” as the first person to write “persuade” and “murdered” as he used those words here:

“… your king … sends me a paper to persuade me patience?” – 3 Henry VI

“’Glamis hath murdered sleep…’” – Macbeth  

But Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford had used “persuade” and “murdered” in those same ways much earlier, when he was twenty-three, within his dedicatory letter to the translator of Cardanus Comfortein 1573:

“And because next to the sacred letters of divinity, nothing doth persuade the same more than philosophy, of which your book is plentifully stored, I thought myself to commit an unpardonable error to have murdered the same in the waste bottoms of my chests.”

"The Mysterious William Shakespeare" (1984, 1992) by Charlton Ogburn Jr.

Charlton Ogburn Jr. reported these findings in The Mysterious William Shakespeare (1984), supporting the theory that Oxford himself was the author of 3 Henry VI and Macbeth, in which case he was simply using “persuade” and “murdered” as he had done years before.   Centuries later “Shakespeare” would be credited with creating those word usages without anyone noticing that in fact it was Edward de Vere who had created them.

The above is just a tiny example of what the world will discover once Oxford and “Shakespeare” are recognized as one and the same man.

William Plumer Fowler’s magnum opus,  Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford’s Letters (1986), will one day be recognized as a major contribution to studies of Shakespearean authorship; and most of the examples cited below are taken from that important work of 872 pages.

Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford's Letters (1986) by William Plumer Fowler

Following is the first paragraph of Oxford’s prefatory dedication addressed “To my loving friend Thomas Bedingfield Esquire, one of Her Majesty’s gentlemen pensioners.”   I have underlined words and phrases that will appear in the plays, poems and sonnets to be published under the “Shakespeare” name two or three decades after 1573:

After I had perused your letters, good Master Bedingfield, finding in them your request far differing from the desert of your labor, I could not choose but greatly doubt whether it were better for me to yield you your desire, or execute mine own intention towards the publishing of your book. For I do confess the affections that I have always borne towards you could move me not a little. But when I had thoroughly considered in my mind of sundry and divers arguments, whether it were best to obey mine affections or the merits of your studies, at the length I determined it better to deny your unlawful request than to grant or condescend to the concealment of so worthy a work. Whereby as you have been profited in the translating, so many may reap knowledge by the reading of the same, that shall comfort the afflicted, confirm the doubtful, encourage the coward, and lift up the base-minded man, to achieve to any true sum or grade of virtue, whereto ought only the noble thoughts of men to be inclined.

Oxford: “After I had perused your letters, good Master Bedingfield…”

Shakespeare: “Have you perused the letters from the pope” – 1 Henry VI, 5.1.1

Oxford: “…finding in them your request far differing from the desert of your labor, I could not choose but greatly doubt…”

Shakespeare: “I cannot choose but pity her” – The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 4.4.77

Oxford: “… whether it were better for me to yield you your desire, or execute mine own intention towards the publishing of your book.”

Shakespeare: “I’ll force thee to yield to my desire” – The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 5.4.59

Shakespeare: “We’ll execute your purpose” – Troilus and Cressida, 3.3.50

Shakespeare (Following the same sentence construction used above by Oxford): “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles” – Hamlet, 3.1.55

Oxford: “For I do confess the affections that I have always borne towards you could move me not a little.”

Shakespeare: “For Polixenes, with who I am accused, I do confess” – The Winter’s Tale, 3.2.62

Shakespeare: “You … have misdemeaned yourself, and not a little” – Henry VIII, 5.3.14

Oxford: “But when I had thoroughly considered in my mind…”

Shakespeare: “My lord, I have considered in my mind” – Richard III, 4.2.83

Oxford: “… of sundry and divers arguments, whether it were best to obey mine affections or the merits of your studies, at the length I determined it better to deny your unlawful request than to grant or condescend to the concealment of so worthy a work.”

Shakespeare: “So you do condescend to help me now” – 1 Henry IV, 5.3.17

Shakespeare: “In strange concealments, valiant as a lion” – 1 Henry IV, 3.1.166

Shakespeare: “A little of that worthy work performed” – Coriolanus, 2.2.45

Oxford: “Whereby as you have been profited in the translating, so many may reap knowledge by the reading of the same…”

Shakespeare: “I profit in the knowledge of myself” – Twelfth Night, 5.1.25

(In the above lines, within a single paragraph, Oxford uses concealment, worthy and profited; and all three are echoed in a single passage of 1 Henry IV, 3.1.164-166: “In faith he is a worthy gentleman, exceedingly well read, and profited in strange concealments”)

Oxford: “…that shall comfort the afflicted …”

Shakespeare: “For this affliction has a taste as sweet as any cordial comfort” – The Winter’s Tale, 5.3.76

Oxford:  “… confirm the doubtful …”

Shakespeare: “As doubtful whether what I see be true, until confirmed” – The Merchant of Venice, 3.2.148

Oxford: “… encourage the coward, and lift up the base-minded man…”

Shakespeare: “Faith, I’ll bear no base mind” – 2 Henry IV, 3.2.240

Oxford: “… to achieve to any true sum or grade of virtue…”

Shakespeare: “To leave for nothing all thy sum of good” – Sonnet 109, line 12

Oxford: “… whereto ought only the noble thoughts of men to be inclined.”

Shakespeare: “The Doll and Helen of thy noble thoughts is in base durance” – 2 Henry IV, 5.5.36

I don’t know about you, but I find this stuff impressive.  Of course it’s not proof that Oxford later became “Shakespeare,” although it might come close to proof if studies found that no other writers of the time had such a frequency of what William Plumer Fowler called “arresting parallelisms, both in thought and expression, to Shakespeare’s poetry and drama.”

Fowler (1900-1993) lived most of his life in the Little Boar’s Head District of North Hampton, New Hampshire.  An alumnus of Roxbury Latin School, Dartmouth College, and Harvard Law School, he practiced law in Boston until he was 72.  For many years he was president of the Shakespeare Club of Boston — before he became an Oxfordian.  His diverse interests included publishing several books of poetry in addition to his work on Oxford’s letters.

There’s even more to include as part of Reason No. 11, so we’ll continue next time with Part Three…

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reading “Measure for Measure,” I found these words from Duke Vincentio to Angelo not to keep his ideas to himself, but to share them with others, just what de Vere says to Bedingfield (I,i, 25-35):

    Angelo,
    There is a kind of character in thy life,
    That to the observer doth thy history
    Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
    Are not thine own so proper as to waste
    Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
    Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
    Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
    Did not go forth of us, ’twere all alike
    As if we had them not.

    Question: I am finishing my book and the Spencer hypothesis
    is getting firmer and firmer. I have shared some of my evidences
    with Stritmatter and Anderson: both denied it right away. Now,
    do you want me to put your name in my book as the first discoverer of the
    hypothesis; that you have even made a speech about it to some
    oxfordians in petit comité and they denied the question right away…?

    Regards…,

    Ricardo.

    • Wonderful find, Richardo. Thanks for sharing it here. On the Spenser matter, yes, of course — with the added information that the late Michael Brame and his wife Galina Popova also got onto the Spenser trail and printed as much in “Shakespeare’s Fingerprints” (2002). We did not know of each other’s simultaneous thinking until later. In their view, as in mine, Oxford wrote the works attributed to Spenser. They felt the real-life Spenser was an agent for Walsingham and hence for Burghley, informing on officials in Ireland, in particular on Lord Grey. “We are emphatically claiming that it was de Vere who wrote such masterpieces as The Faerie Queene and the Shepherd’s Calendar,” they write on page 455.” My own take on it, occurring at the same time if not earlier, was that the “biography” of “Immerito” who became “Spenser” was similar in some respects to that of “Shakespeare” — in each case the grafting of a real contemporary individual onto a history of publication to produce a life story, one that falls apart as soon as one looks at it with open eyes.

      I gave my speech at the Shakespeare Authorship Conference at Concordia University in 2002 and was met with mostly silence and objection along with some genuine questioning. Oxfordians can be followers just as Stratfordians are. But I still hold with the view that Oxford wrote the works attributed to Spenser and you may report such as you wish.

      Best
      Hank

  2. Glad you find that quote from “Measure…” correct.

    I will put your statement as to Spencer in a full quote at the preface of the book.

    Moving on…,

    Ricardo.

  3. Also,

    there is another Vincentio in “The Revenger’s Tragedy” that I will include as the Ur-Hamlet together with “The Spanish Tragedy” (not by Kyd for sure).

    Middleton “never wrote such a powerful drama in his career,” says the editor from the Revel Student Edition. In other words: IT IS AN EXCEPTION in his ouvre, like Metamorphosis was in Golding.

    There is incest, murder, a despiteful mother, and it is dark, “verie” much so.

    Moving on…

  4. Hank,

    Very glad to see these articles on Bedingfield letter. Years ago I began a search on the figurative use of “murder” which the OED attributes to Shakespeare in V&A in 1593, 20 years after Devere’s extremely sophisticated usage. I challenged the crowd at HLAS to find another author with an earlier modern usage and they couldn’t. I then looked at several major authors, just a beginning. Jonson never used it. Marlowe had one usage, very primitive, in all his works. Nothing in Daniel. Only Drayton in 1593 did use it sparingly.

    Percentage wise, Shakespeare uses it about 8% of the times he uses the word murder. Apparently he was quite fond of this literary device.

    Given all that comes out of Bedingfield, not only linguistically but in relationship to Hamlet and other works, at the very least there is too much coincidence to not believe a strong Oxford affiliation with Shakespeare. Orthodoxy denies it, will not look at it but if Oxford did not write Shakespeare, he apparently strongly influenced Shakespeare. But on this slippery slope they will not enter. Hypocrites.

    “Falling out at tennis” indeed.

    • Thanks for the comment, Ken, and it’s good to hear from you. Yes, what you say is “right on.” The Bedingfield letter and the other “reasons” are like old friends to me. Writing ’em up this way is a chance to re-visit them and to recall my initial wonderment over the richness of the history and of these connections that, as you say, involve “too much coincidence” to be ignored. Best to you – Hank

  5. I couldnt think you are more right!

    • I appreciate the comment. It’s amazing when you look into the evidence even a little. What a new world opens up!

  6. “He maynteniþ his men to murþre myne hynen.” Langland, Piers Plowman c1376

    Thoffice of an oratour that he owith to do be Rethorik is to say wele..that is to say suche thynges þe whiche bien convenient and sufficient to persuade. Seven Liberal Arts c1484

    Neologisms attributed by OED to De Vere in the OED = 0

    Neologisms attributed by OED to Shakespeare = c 2,000 though neither ‘murdered’ or ‘persuade’ are on the list

    And do you ever stop to wonder why somebody who thinks publication ‘a virtuous action[]’ might be bothered by the ‘stigma of print’.


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