A New Book of Essays — “Hamlet Made Simple” — and Praise for “The Monument”

I received the new book Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays by David P. Gontar and began thumbing through its 428 pages when, on the heels of a discussion of Sonnet 116, I found some very kind words about The Monument, my edition of the Sonnets as by the Earl of Oxford.

Hamlet-Made-Simple-and-Other-EssaysI certainly intend to read Mr. Gontar’s entire book and review it here, in addition to submitting a customer review at its Amazon location; meanwhile, I hereby surrender to the urge to shamelessly share some of his praise for my work, and hope to be forgiven for it:

“On the basis of reason alone, our appreciation [of Sonnet 116] can only advance so far.  Miraculously, in the case of the Sonnets that revelation is at hand.  We now have Mr. Hank Whittemore’s historical study, The Monument , which painstakingly sets out the long sought-after autobiographical significance of the Sonnets.  To be adequately assimilated, Sonnet 116 must be set in the context of English history, with special attention paid to the careers and conflicts of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, and Queen Elizabeth I.  Against all odds, Mr. Whittemore accomplishes that end.  As a result, the ‘tempests’ mentioned in line six [of Sonnet 116] are successfully identified.  To attempt in this place a summary of his magisterial argument would be impractical and inappropriate.  Some related ideas are taken up in the chapter on Lucrece, ‘Wanton Modesty.’  But it is best to let Mr. Whittemore speak for himself, and then re-visit some of these issues.  One simple caveat must suffice: any attempt to come to terms with the Sonnets of Shakespeare  (or the present essays) which neglects The Monument cannot be taken seriously, and is doomed to failure.  Readers are encouraged to seek out this indispensable resource.  They will be amply rewarded.”

There are eighteen essays in Hamlet Made Simple, preceded by a substantial introduction and followed by a final section in conclusion.  I look forward to delving into it.

And thanks to David Gontar for his kind remarks.

David P. Gontar, Ph.D., J.D., served as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Southern University from 1975 to 1982.  Thereafter he was engaged in the practice of law in New Orleans, Louisiana and southern California.  He is currently Adjunct Professor of English and Philosophy at Inner Mongolia University in China.  In 2010 he was the English editor of China’s application to UNESCO for World Heritage Status of the Xanadu site in Inner Mongolia, granted by UNESCO in June of 2012.  Professor Gonatar’s writings have appeared in Southwestern Journal of Philosophy, Tulane Studies in Philosophy, Plantation Society in the Americas, Loyola Law Review and New English Review. 

Hamlet Made Simple is published by New English Review Press.

“Ever or Never” = “To Be or Not To Be”

I think we’ve established that Oxford used the pen name “Ever or Never” from at least 1573 onward.  It is certain that he played upon “ever” in his “echo” poem:  “Who was the first that gave the wound whose fear I wear for ever?  Vere.”

The phrase “ever or never” is not just wordplay, however; it also expresses a deep Shakespearean theme — to act or not to act, recalling Hamlet; to speak truth or to lie, recalling the poet’s final words in the Sonnets to the dark lady (Queen Elizabeth), accusing her of forcing him to undermine his own identity and being:  “To swear against the truth so foul a lie.”  If the character of Hamlet speaks with his creator’s voice, he is expressing that author’s own predicament; and if it’s Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, then he was expressing a certain bitter contempt for himself, a loathing of himself for failing to speak the truth of his relationship with Queen Elizabeth and then of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton as their son and heir to her throne.  The theme of “never” involves the need to keep silent (or tell lies) and stay hidden, as in the following (with my emphases):

Hamlet:  “But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue!”

Sonnet 72:  “My name be buried where my body is”

Hamlet:  “Yet I, a dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, and can say nothing.”

Sonnet 147:  “My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,/ At random from the truth, vainly expressed.”

Oxford:  “So long to fight with secret sore,/ And find no secret salve therefore.”

Oxford:  “The trickling tears, that fall along my cheeks,/ The secret sighs, that show my inward grief.”

Hamlet’s predicament is perhaps the ultimate expression of this terrible inner conflict — to live or to die, to speak truth or not to speak truth, to act or not to act, to seize the day and determine the course of his nation’s future or do nothing and, instead, fall into eternal darkness and silence so that “enterprises of great pith and moment/ With this regard their currents turn awry/ And lose the name of action.”

There is a gigantic story beneath the surface of the Sonnets and of Hamlet and of the life of Edward de Vere …

The story began early in his life, expressed as “Ever or Never,” and reached its most universal expression in “To Be or Not To Be.”

More on Edward de Vere as “Ever or Never”: Part Two of Reason No. 63 Why the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

Continuing our discussion of A Never Writer to an Ever Reader, the following post merely touches upon a tremendous amount of evidence that can be pulled together to form a complete picture…

Let us begin by recalling that a translation of Cardanus Comforte  was published in 1573 according to the “commandment” of twenty-three-year-old Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who contributed an eloquent prefatory letter and also a poem of several stanzas.  In the latter, Oxford defied his own social class by complaining that “the laboring man” does all the painful work while “the lord” gets all the benefits of it:

The laboring man that tills the fertile soil,

And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not indeed

The gain, but pain; but if for all his toil

He gets the straw, the lord will have the seed…

For he that beats the bush the bird not gets…

a hundredth - smaller

In the same year appeared what has been called the first English poetry anthology, entitled A Hundredth Sundrie Flowres, with verses attributed to various pen names (such as Ever or Never) plus the real name of Oxford’s friend George Gascoigne.  In one verse are these lines:

Thy brother Troilus eke, that gem of gentle deeds,

To think how abused he was, alas my heart it bleeds:

He beat about the bush, while others caught the birds,

Whom crafty Cresside mocked too much, yet fed him still with words…

Two years later the volume was drastically altered under the title The Posies of George Gascoigne, and to this day most scholars attribute both versions to Gascoigne.  It was not until Edward de Vere was identified as “Shakespeare” in 1920 that it became possible to see that Queen Elizabeth’s government saw fit to have Flowres censored, mangled and republished.

In 1926 B.M. Ward identified Oxford as the editor of Flowres and as the contributor of some sixteen of its poems; but in succeeding years, much more of the anthology has been seen as from his pen – including the eight poems attributed to Ever or Never.  Such insights, in turn, have revealed a great deal of evidence that Flowres was the creation of the young man whose genius would give the world the great works attributed to William Shakespeare.

Most of the early signed poetry of Edward de Vere and also in A Hundredth Sundry Flowres of 1573 was about his relationship to the Queen, with whom he had become passionately and intimately involved.  This was the highly sensitive part – that Oxford and Elizabeth were lovers; and her fickleness and lies had devastated him.  [The same theme is in the Dark Lady sonnets to Elizabeth, deepened by the bitterness and pain that grew within him over the years until her death in 1603, not to mention expressed by the same man in the fullness of his maturity as a writer.]

In “nearly all” the poems in Flowres, the late Charlton Ogburn Jr. wrote, “we read of the ups and downs of the fortunes of love.  In them the lover is paired with a gentlewoman explicitly or implicitly of high degree … I’d settle for most of its being addressed by Oxford to Elizabeth.  One is written to a ‘Gentlewoman’ for whom the poet has been unable to show his affection … Other verses reflect bitterly on the poet’s treatment at the hands of his lady.”

The poems by Ever or Never include lines such as:

My secret parts are so with secret sorrow soken,

As for the secret shame thereof, deserves not to be spoken…

My lord (quod I) this lady here,

Whom I esteem above the rest

[Oxford’s signed sonnet to Elizabeth, written about this time, asked rhetorically:  “Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace?”]

Down fell I then upon my knee,

All flat before dame beauty’s face,

And cried, Good Lady, pardon me,

Which here appeal unto your grace,

You know if I have been untrue,

It was in too much praising you…

[In the Shakespeare sonnets Oxford would continue to use “beauty” for Elizabeth  and/or her Tudor blood.]

Yet let your pity first be placed,

To save the man that meant you good,

So shall you show yourself a Queen,

And I may be your servant seen…

Thus am I Beauty’s bounden thrall,

At her command when she doth call…

[In a signed poem Oxford wrote, “And shall I live on th’earth to be her thrall?/ And shall I sue and serve her all in vain?/ And kiss the steps that she lets fall…”]

There is no cloud that can eclipse so bright a sunne as she…

I smile sometimes although my grief be great…

[In another of his early poems Oxford writes, “I am not as I seem to be,/ Nor when I smile I am not glad:/ A thrall although you count me free,/ I, most in mirth, most pensive sad.”]

In one line by Ever or Never, he writes:  “My muse is tied in chains” and in another verse of Flowres he writes, “My tongue is tied by one constraint” – just as “Shakespeare” will write in Sonnet 85 of “My tongue-tied Muse” and in Sonnet 66 about his art made “tongue-tied by authority.”

We can now draw a line spanning more than three decades connecting Flowres (1573), when the young Oxford who is Ever or Never is already likening himself and Elizabeth to Troilus and Cressida; to Ever or Never writing of himself as Troilus and the Queen as Cressida in Willobie his Avisa (1594); to the Never Writer addressing the Ever Reader of Troilus and Cressida (in the epistle written in 1603, the year before Oxford’s own death, and published in 1609 as by Shakespeare), in which Troilus declares:

True swains in love shall in the world to come

Approve their truths by Troilus: when their rhymes,

Full of protest, of oath and big compare,

Want similes, truth tired with iteration,

As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,

As sun to day, as turtle to her mate,

As iron to adamant, as earth to the centre,

Yet, after all comparisons of truth,

As truth’s authentic author to be cited,

‘As true as Troilus’ shall crown up the verse,

And sanctify the numbers.

A Hundredth Sundrie Flowres

“A NEVER WRITER TO AN EVER READER: NEWS!” — No. 63 of 100 Reasons Why Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

In 1603 the play Troilus and Cressida was mysteriously “blocked” from publication by James Roberts, who had issued a number of other Shakespeare quartos.   And after the publication of Hamlet in 1604, no more yet-unpublished Shakespeare plays came into print (until the First Folio in 1623 added eighteen more plays), at least not from the hands of those who possessed most of them.  It was as if the author had died.

The Historie of Troylus and Cressida finally appeared in quarto six years later, in 1609.  Midway through its printing, however, the cover page was altered; and also, the book now contained a sharp, angry warning that other yet-unpublished Shakespeare works were in danger of being suppressed by “the grand possessors” of them.  The remarkable epistle began with this heading: A NEVER WRITER TO AN EVER READER – NEWS

"Troilus and Cressida"(2nd Title Page 1609)

“Troilus and Cressida”
(2nd Title Page 1609)

"Troilus and Cressida" (first title page 1609)

“Troilus and Cressida” (first title page 1609)

====================

In the same year Pericles was issued, again in defiance of the unnamed “grand possessors.”  Also SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS Never before Imprinted was published in 1609, only to disappear for more than a century until 1711.  Inside was a strange dedication referring to the author as:

OUR EVER-LIVING POET

Calling someone “ever-living” meant the person was no longer walking around on Earth.  This was 1609 and the poet of the Sonnets was “ever-living” or dead (although the Stratford man, who would get credit for the works in the future, remained alive until 1616).

You might say these uses of NEVER and EVER are, at the least, intriguing … no orthodox scholar has been able to explain them … but surely the two words were inserted consciously and deliberately:

NEVER WRITER … EVER READER … EVER-LIVING POET … [And maybe should throw in NEVER BEFORE IMPRINTED]

SonnetsDedicationSonnets title page

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, had died at fifty-four on June 24, 1604.  In his body of youthful, signed poetry that he left behind, there is an “echo” poem in which the “fair young lady … clad all in color of a nun, and covered with a veil,” cries out her questions and receives answers from the echo.  She plays upon “ever” for E. Ver and as an anagram of Vere; and the Echo replies with that name (my emphases added):

Oh heavens!  Who was the first that bred in me this feverVere.

Who was the first that gave the wound whose fear I wear for ever?  Vere.

What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm usurps thy golden quiver?  Vere.

What wight first caught this heart and can from bondage it deliver?  Vere.

So it’s beyond doubt that Edward de Vere used “ever” and variations of it in relation to his own name.  In 1575 he inscribed a Latin poem on a blank page of a Greek New Testament sent to his wife, Anne Cecil, while he was away in Europe; and in one line, translated into English, he wrote that he hoped her motto would be EVER LOVER OF THE TRUTH/VERE. 

In 1598 the satirist and playwright John Marston wrote the following lines (with my emphases added):

Fly far thy fame,

Most, most of me beloved!  whose silent name

One letter bounds.  Thy TRUE judicial style

I EVER honour; and if my love beguile

Not much my hopes, then thy unvalued worth

Shall mount fair place when Apes are turned forth.

If Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare,” it follows that his own name was “silent”; and, of course, “Edward de Vere” is bounded by one letter … E.

Also in 1598 the poet Richard Barnfield wrote a verse in which he speaks directly to “Shakespeare thou, whose honey-flowing vein (pleasing the world) thy praises doth obtaine” (again with my emphases):

Live EVER you, at least in Fame live EVER:

Well may the Body die, but Fame dies NEVER.

Clearly for certain members of society, notably writers, the issue of the great author’s actual “name” was already in play; and it appears that these folks already knew that EVER and NEVER could be used to identify him (silently) as Edward de Vere.  Wits Recreation of 1640 contained an anonymous epigram that began:

To Mr. William Shake-spear   

Shake-speare, we must be silent in thy praise…

Venus and Adonis appeared in 1593 with the name “William Shakespeare” printed for the first time (on the dedication to the Earl of Southampton); and Lucrece was published in 1594 with another dedication by Shakespeare to the young earl.  Also in that same year, the poetical work Willobie His Avisa was published.  This enigmatic work has been attributed to Edward de Vere by the highly respected Oxfordian researcher Barb Flues, through stylistic tests; and in fact it contained the first reference to “Shakespeare” other than his printed signature:

Yet Tarquyne pluckt his glistering grape,

And Shake-speare, paints poore Lucrece rape.

[I would note first the hyphenation “Shake-speare,” indicating the likelihood of a pen name.  Also I would note the mention of Shakespeare in connection with his Lucrece, which was being issued simultaneously.  Who else, at that time, would know about the second Shakespeare poem but the author himself?]

Willobie His Avisa winds up with a long poem The Praise of a Contented Mind, containing a passage about the historical Troilus and Cressida; and at the end of the poem, concluding Willobie itself, is the author’s printed signature in large italicized typeface:

Ever or Never

In Hamlet it seems we can hear the author’s own voice in many of the Prince’s speeches; and at the end of the first act are these famous lines with “ever” and “I” spoken together (with my emphases):

The time is out of joint.  O cursed spite

That EVER I was born to set it right!

In two scenes of the play the Prince uses “ever” in connection with his “name.”  Both involve Horatio, the character that Oxfordians feel is based on Edward de Vere’s cousin Horatio Vere:

Hamlet: I am glad to see you well.  Horatio – or I do forget myself!

Horatio: The same, my lord, and your poor servant EVER.

Hamlet: Sir, my good friend – I’ll change THAT NAME with you.  (1.2.168-70)

At the end of the full text of the play, printed in 1604 after Oxford’s death that year, the words “ever” and “name” again appear with Horatio involved, as the dying Hamlet tells him:

O good Horatio, what a WOUNDED NAME!

(Things standing thus unknown) shall live behind me!

If thou didst EVER hold me in thy heart,

Absent thee from felicity awhile,

And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain

To tell my story.  (5.2.367-71)

It’s in the Sonnets where, in my view, Oxford speaks not through a character but, rather, in his own words; and here the signature words EVER and NEVER are difficult to avoid (with my emphases):

Why write I still all one, EVER the same,

And keep invention in a noted weed,

That EVERY WORD doth ALMOST TELL MY NAME ,

Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?  (76)

And in Sonnet 116 the words appear to be an insistent identification; first, speaking of love:

O no, it is an EVER-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is NEVER shaken…

And in the concluding couplet:

If this be error and upon me proved,

I NEVER writ, nor no man EVER loved.

Once again, of course, none of this proves that Oxford was OUR EVER-LIVING POET, but it certainly adds to the evidence.  And I offer it here as No. 63 of 100 reasons to believe he was the NEVER WRITER (never acknowledged as the great author) addressing the EVER READER (those of us who have been thrilled and moved, to hilarity and tears, by his words).

TO BE CONTINUED — With a post about Oxford as “Ever or Never” in A Hundredth Sundry Flowres of 1573.

The Bard’s Use of Heraldry: No. 62 of 100 Reasons Why Edward de Vere was “William Shakespeare”

A coat-of arms used by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford

A coat-of arms used by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford – with his motto “Vero Nihil Verius” or Nothing Truer than Truth

At least three books are devoted entirely to Shakespeare’s knowledge and treatment of heraldry.  Two of them are The Heraldry of Shakespeare: A Commentary with Annotations (1930) by Guy Cadogan Rothery and Shakespeare’s Heraldry (1950) by Charles Wilfred Scott-Giles; and on this basis alone, the bard must know a great deal about coats of arms, blazons, charges, fields, escutcheons (shields), crests, badges, hatchments (panels), gules (red markings or tinctures) and much more.

But it’s not simply that Shakespeare has considerable knowledge about heraldry; in fact, it’s part of his thought process.   He uses heraldic terms in spontaneous, natural, unforced ways, often metaphorically, making his descriptions more vivid while stirring and enriching our emotions.

Take, for example, the word badge, which in heraldry is an emblem indicating allegiance to some family or property.  Shakespeare uses it  literally, of course, but also metaphorically:  Falstaff in Henry IV Part Two speaks of “the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice”; Ferdinand in Love’s Labour’s Lost cries out, “Black is the badge of hell”; Lysander in in A Midsummer Night’s Dream talks about “bearing the badge of faith”; Tamora in Titus Andronicus declares, “Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge”;  and, using his own voice, the poet refers in Sonnet 44 to “heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.”

Tomb of Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford, 1417

Tomb of Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford, 1417

Surely this great author was “one of the wolfish earls,” as Walt Whitman so readily perceived – a proud nobleman for whom hereditary titles, shields and symbols were everyday aspects of his environment.  From early boyhood, Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford had been steeped in the history of his line dating back five hundred years to William the Conqueror; the heraldry of his ancestors, as well as that of other noble families, became interwoven with his vocabulary.

[Need I add that this is not reported out of snobbery or some kind of preference for the upper class?  Having begun my professional life as a journalist, I can state that everything in this blog comes from an attempt to look at the evidence — as opposed to the myth — and to write what I see.]

Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream extends the metaphor of two bodies sharing the same heart by presenting the image of a husband-and-wife’s impaled arms:  “So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart; two of the first, like coats in heraldry, due but to one and crowned with one crest.”

Royal arms used by Henry IV to Elizabeth I - English lions quartered with French fleur-de-lis

Royal arms used by Henry IV to Elizabeth I – English lions quartered with French fleur-de-lis

An example of “Shakespeare” thinking and writing in heraldic terms occurs in the opening scene of Henry VI Part Two, upon the funeral of Henry the Fifth at Westminster Abbey.  A messenger warns the English against taking recent victories for granted by describing setbacks in France as the cropping (cutting-out) of the French quarters in the royal arms of England:  “Awake, awake, English nobility!  Let not sloth dim your honors new-begot:  cropped are the flower-de-luces in your arms!  Of England’s coat one half is cut away!

(England’s coat of arms presented flower-de-luces or fleur-de-lis, the emblem of French royalty, quartered with Britain’s symbolic lions.  Cropping the two French quarters would cut away half the English arms – a vivid description of England’s losses in France.)

“The Vere arms changed repeatedly over many generations,” the late Oxfordian researcher Robert Brazil noted, adding that details of Edward de Vere’s arms had “numerous documented precedents.”

Such documentation consisted not only of drawings but also the “blazonry” or descriptions of shields in precise heraldic language, using only words.  “Through the science of blazon,” Brazil wrote, “infinitely complex visual material is described in such a precise way that one can accurately reproduce full color arms with dozens of complex coats, based on the words of the blazon alone.”

At the Vere seat of Castle Hedingham in Essex, the young Earl of Oxford necessarily studied the seals and tombs of his ancestors.  He, after all, was a member of the old feudal aristocracy; he would inherit the title of Lord Great Chamberlain of England, raising him to become the highest-ranking earl of the realm.  To assert the rights and rankings of his Vere identity, he needed exact knowledge of his family’s heraldry and to “blazon” or describe it in words through the five centuries of its history.

St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle, where each Knight is allotted an "installment" or stall

St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle, where each Knight is allotted an “installment” or stall

“Shakespeare” uses “blazon” just as we might expect it to be employed by Edward de Vere, that is, as a natural enrichment of language.  Mistress Quickly in The Merry Wives of Windsor, near the end of the play, employs the word in a burst of heraldic imagery:  “About, about; search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out … Each fair installment, coat, and several crest, with loyal blazon, evermore be blest!”

[Oxford knew Windsor Castle well; he is recorded as staying there several times; and at age nineteen, he lodged in a hired room in the town of Windsor while recovering from illness.]

Mistress Quickly refers to each “installment” in the castle, that is, each place where an individual knight is installed; the knight’s “coat” was on a stall-plate nailed to the back of the stall; and the “crest” was a figure or device originally borne by a knight on his helmet.

deverearms

From the same pen we find “blazon” in a variety of metaphorical contexts:  “I’faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true”Much Ado About Nothing; “Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit do give thee five-fold blazonTwelfth Night; “But this eternal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood”Hamlet; and in Sonnet 106 to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton he uses “blazon” in the context of accounts of medieval chivalry, writing of “beauty making beautiful old rhyme / In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,” followed by: “Then in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,/ Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,/ I see their antique pen would have expressed/ Even such a beauty as you master now.”

In Hamlet the prince tells the players that a speech he “chiefly loved” was the one that Virgil’s Aeneas delivers to Dido, Queen of Carthage, about the fall of Troy.  Before the first player can begin to recite it, however, Hamlet delivers thirteen lines from memory.   In these lines he describes how Pyrrhus, son of the Greek hero Achilles, had black arms while hiding inside the Trojan horse; but then his arms became drenched in the red blood of whole families that were slaughtered.  (Such was the origin of “Pyrrhic victory” to describe a success at too great a cost. – NOT!  SEE CORRECTION IN COMMENTS SECTION FROM EARL SHOWERMAN.)

But the story had even greater impact upon members of the audience who knew that the bloody tale was being told in the context of heraldic terms – such as sable arms (the black device displayed on Pyrrhus’ shield); gules (red); and tricked (decorated), not to mention that Pryrrhus’ arms covered with red blood are “smeared with heraldry”:

The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,

Black as his purpose, did the night resemble

When he lay couched in the ominous horse,

Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared

With heraldry more dismal.   Head to foot

Now is he total gules, horridly tricked

With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons…

Even the narrative poem Lucrece (1594), the second publication as by “Shakespeare,” is filled with heraldic imagery:

But Beauty, in that white entitled

From Venus’ doves, doth challenge that fair field…

This heraldry in Lucrece’s face was seen (Stanzas 9 & 10)

(Challenge: lay claim to; field: the surface of a heraldic shield on which figures or colors are displayed, but also evoking a battlefield; from world’s minority: from the beginning of time)

book of shakespeare's heraldryRobert Brazil noted that previous earls of Oxford had employed a special greyhound as a heraldic symbol, but that Edward, the seventeenth earl, had stopped using it; and that in the opening scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor (which begins and ends with humorous dialogue involving heraldry) there’s a line, unrelated to anything else, about a “fallow” or no-longer-used greyhound:

PAGE:  I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.

SLENDER: How does your fallow greyhound, sir?

In this otherwise meaningless “throwaway” exchange, is there a little wink from Edward de Vere, pointing to his own heraldic history?

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