Reason No. 11 (Part Three of Three) of 100 Reasons Why I Believe Oxford was “Shakespeare” — More on Oxford’s Public Letter for “Hamlet’s Book”

“I thought myself to commit an unpardonable error, to have murdered the same in the waste bottoms of my chests … further considering so little a trifle cannot procure so great a breach of our amity … and when you examine yourself what doth avail a mass of gold to be continually imprisoned in your bags, and never to be employed to your use … What do they avail, if you do not participate them to others … So you being sick of too much doubt in your own proceedings, through which infirmity you are desirous to bury and insevill your works in the grave of oblivion … “ – Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, in his prefatory letter to Thomas Bedingfield’s translation of Cardanus Comforte in 1573 from Italian into English.

Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576) the Italian philosopher and author of "Cardanus Comforte," was still alive when Oxford was in Italy during 1575-1576

The 23-year-old earl created an elaborate “excuse” for publishing the work despite his friend’s wish that he refrain from doing so.  This apology or justification was not meant to be taken seriously by the readers; rather it was a literary device that Oxford used to create an elaborate, lofty, amusing piece of writing while introducing Cardano’s work that has come to be known as the book Hamlet carries with him and reads on stage.

What Oxford produced was a piece of Elizabethan prose that Percy Allen described in the 1930’s as “one of the most gracious that even those days of exquisite writing have bequeathed to us, from the hand of a great nobleman … with its friendship that never condescends, its intimacy that is never familiar, its persuasive logic, its harmonious rhythms, its gentle and compelling charm.”  [The Life Story of Edward de Vere as “William Shakespeare” – 1932]

Here is surely the same voice we hear in the Prince of Denmark’s words, Allen noted.  Here is prose that sounds like Hamlet’s speech to the common players who arrive at the palace.  As Delia Bacon had put it in the 19th century, the author of the play must have been quite like “the subtle Hamlet of the university, the courtly Hamlet, ‘the glass of fashion and the mold of form’” – a description that perfectly fits Lord Oxford in the early 1570’s, when he was in the highest royal favor at the Court of Elizabeth.  [The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded – 1857]

Oxford and “Shakespeare” both argue that the possessor of a talent has a duty to use it, that anyone with a virtue has a responsibility to share it with others rather than hoard it for himself alone.  The earl writes that if he had failed to publish Bedingfield’s translation he would have murdered the same in the waste bottoms of my chests.”  By contrast his act of causing the work to be published is but a “trifle” to be overcome; and from “Shakespeare” we shall hear the same words within the context of the same theme in the sonnets to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton:

So the time that keeps you as my chest – Sonnet 52

Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid? – Sonnet 65

But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are – Sonnet 48

But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,

And kept unused the user so destroys it;

No love toward others in that bosom sits

That on himself such murderous shame commits.  – Sonnet 9

Oxford rhetorically asks his friend to consider how it avails “a mass of gold to be continually imprisoned in your bags and never to be employed to your use?”  What good are Bedingfield’s studies if he chooses to “not participate them to others”?  Why would he want to “bury” his works “in the grave of oblivion?”

By new unfolding his imprisoned pride – Sonnet 52

Th’imprisoned absence of your liberty – Sonnet 58

Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament [“time’s best jewel”]

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.

Pity the world!  Or else this glutton be:

To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee – Sonnet 1

In Venus and Adonis of 1593, the goddess Venus lectures young Adonis on the same theme using the same words:

What is thy body but a swallowing grave,

Seeming to bury that posterity

Which by the rights of time thou needs must have,

If thou destroy them not in dark obscurityVenus and Adonis, lines 757-762

Thou art the grave where buried love doth live – Sonnet 31

The Tudor Rose - "That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet" - Juliet

Oxford enlarges upon his theme:

“What doth avail the tree unless it yield fruit to another … What doth avail the Rose unless another took pleasure in the smell … Why should this Rose be better esteemed than that Rose, unless in pleasantness of smell it far surpassed the other Rose?  And so it is in all other things as well as in man.  Why should this man be more esteemed than that man, but for his virtue through which every man desireth to be accounted of?  Then you amongst men I do not doubt but will aspire to follow that virtuous path, to illuster yourself with the ornaments of virtue…” 

And Shakespeare more than two decades later:

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet

Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.

But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,

Lose but their show; their substance still smells sweet.

– Sonnet 5

O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem

By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!

The Rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem

For that sweet odor which doth in it live.

The Canker-blooms have full as deep a dye

As the perfumed tincture of the Roses

But for their virtue only is their show,

They live unwoo’d, and unrespected fade,

Die to themselves.  Sweet Roses do not so:

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odors made.  – Sonnet 54

Oxford writes:

“ … wherein I may seem to you to play the part of the cunning and expert mediciner or Physician, who, though his patient in the extremity of his burning Fever, is desirous of cold liquor or drink to qualify his sore thirst, or rather kill his languishing body …”

And Shakespeare uses the same image:

My love is as a fever longing still

For that which longer nurseth the disease,

Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,

The uncertain sickly appetite to please:

My reason, the Physician to my love…” – Sonnet 147

And finally, to choose among many such examples, Oxford anticipates one of Shakespeare’s major themes in the Sonnets printed in 1609, the power of his pen to create a “monument” for posterity:

“Again we see if our friends be dead, we cannot show or declare our affection more then by erecting them of Tombs: Whereby when they be dead in deed, yet make we them live as it were again through their monument, but with me behold it happeneth far better, for in your life time I shall erect you such a monument, that as I say in your lifetime you shall see how noble a shadow of your virtuous life shall hereafter remain when you are dead and gone.  And in your life time again I say, I shall give you that monument and remembrance of your life…”

Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of Princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall Statues overturn

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn

The living record of your memory.  

‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth!  – Sonnet 55

Oxford and Elizabeth -- the Lord Great Chamberlain of England, carrying the Sword of State, with Queen Elizabeth the First

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read,

And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,

When all the breathers of this world are dead.

You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)

Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

– Sonnet 81

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent – Sonnet 107

So that’s it for No. 11 of 100 reasons why I believe Oxford wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare.

But I’m just warming up, so stay tuned!

(Significant work on Oxford’s public letter to Bedingfield has been done by many Oxfordians including, for example, Gwynneth Bowen in the Shakespearean Authorship Review [England] of spring 1967, reprinted online in Mark Alexander’s Shakespeare Authorship Sourcebook and also in So Richly Spun: Volume 5 of Building the Case for Edward de Vere as Shakespeare , edited by Dr. Paul Altrocchi and yours truly.  Also, as mentioned previously, Joseph Sobran included an essay on the letter in an appendix to his book Alias Shakespeare in 1997.)

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This will appear at the end of the preamble of my book, and it is a find I got days ago. Samuel Johnson talks about the writers that hide behind masks and points to Baltasar Castiglione’s “Il Cortesano”, a book translated with the auspices of our poet.

    Johnson says in The Rambler (nº 208) in March, 14th, 1572:

    “A mask,” says Castiglione, “confers a right of acting and with less restraint even when the happens to be known.” He that is dis without his own consent may claim indulgence and cannot be rigorously called to justify those saJies or frolics which his disguise must prove him desirous to conceal

    But I have been cautious lest this offence should be frequently or grossly committed for as one of the philosophers directs us to live with a friend as with one that is some time to become an enemy I have always thought it the duty an anonymous author to write as if he expected to be hereafter known .

    Link: http://books.google.es/books?id=jUcVAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA308&ots=0SR3c95kZ8&dq=castiglione%20and%20Samuel%20Johnson&pg=PA308#v=onepage&q=Castiglione&f=false

    How ironic; for Castiglione’s “Il Cortesano” was the book Edward de Vere financed and wrote an introductory latin letter with it in 1572. Johnson was near, but could not see it…

    Moving on…

  2. I have written an essay as an introductory material on my forthcoming book.

    Could you, please, have a look and tell me what you think of it?

    The essay is at http://www.shakespearemelodijo.blogspot.com

    Moving on…,

    Ricardo.

    • Yes, of course. Need about twenty-four hours. Do I have your email to reply privately? Or would you rather I respond to it publicly?

  3. Well, my e-mail is ricardomenabogados@gmail.com

    Thanks.

    Moving on…

  4. Thank you for your words: they made my day.

    Now, I have one evidence for you about the Spencer hypothesis that is now, already, included in my book. It concerns the copy of “Beowulf.”

    We know that it was rescued from the library of a monastery in fire because of the revolts of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and that, finally, it was bought by Nowell with the resources and help of Cecil. The manuscript was held in Cecil House and “was as inaccesible as the Crown jewels,” Anderson tell us.

    Our poet read the manuscript, we know that because he was the pupil of Nowell at that time and was living in Cecil House then, and Beowulf and Amleth stories are the basis of part of “Hamlet”. Anderson says “Shakspere” could not have access to it; and I agree; but Spencer, who was, apparently in the North of Ireland, neither have an acces to it.

    So, what do we find in “The Faerie Queene (Book I, Canto VIII, 5-12) concerning the story of a hero that rescued the geats and deprived the dragon of an arm whose mother came to his rescue? We find this:

    The same before the Geants gate he blew,
    That all the castle quaked from the ground,
    (…)
    The Gyant selfe dismaied with that sownd,
    (…)
    In hast came rushing forth from inner bowre,
    (…)
    And euery head with fyrie tongue did flame,
    And euery head was crowned on his creast,
    And bloudie mouthed with late cruell feast.
    That when the knight beheld, his mighty shild,
    Vpon his manly arme he soone addrest,
    And at him fiercely flew, with courage fild,
    And eger greedinesse through euery member thrild.
    (…)
    Out of the earth, with blade all burning bright
    He smote off his left arme, which like a blocke
    Did fall to ground, depriu’d of natiue might;
    Large streams of bloud out of the truncked stocke
    Forth gushed, like fresh water streame from riuen rocke.

    Dismaied with so desperate deadly wound,
    And eke impatient of vnwonted paine,
    He loudly brayd with beastly yelling sound,
    (…)
    As great a noyse, as when in Cymbrian plaine
    An heard of Bulles, whom kindly rage doth sting,
    Do for the milkie mothers want complaine,
    (…)
    That when his deare Duessa heard, and saw,
    The euill stownd, that daungerd her state,
    Vnto his aide she hastily did draw. (…)

    Hope you like it.

    Moving on…


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