Re-posting No. 4 of 100 Reasons “Shake-speare” was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford: From the Royal Court He Proclaimed a “New Glory of Language”

This reason for concluding that Oxford was “Shakespeare” involves the actual language and contents of the eloquent Latin preface he contributed to Bartholomew Clerke’s 1572 Latin translation of The Courtier by the Italian statesman Baldassare Castiglione, published at Venice in 1528.  (Note: This essay, posted in 2011, is now Reason 24 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford)

Baldesar Castiglione (1478-1529), author of “Il Cortegiano” – “The Courtier”

Imagine looking through records from the sixteenth century and suddenly coming upon an essay written by William Shakespeare when he was twenty-one years old.  Think of the exhilaration upon discovering that the great poet-dramatist of Elizabethan England had crafted this early piece of writing (in Latin, no less) to proclaim “a new glory of language” while championing “all the glory of literature” — that is, a document in which the young Shakespeare predicts the marvelous works of language and literature that he himself was destined to produce.

If we believe “Shakespeare” to have been William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon, we might well rush to claim a Nobel Prize for digging up this amazing contribution to literary history and biography!

Well, some of us believe that in fact we do have such an essay written by “Shakespeare” as a young man, although at twenty-one he was still using his real name, Edward de Vere the earl of Oxford.  In effect this was his “manifesto” as a young writer, publicly championing the humanistic side of the Renaissance with its medieval traditions of chivalry and, too, expressing values and intentions regarding literature that he would carry with him throughout his life.  He presented his 1,100-word preface under the full panoply of his titles:

“Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England, Viscount Bulbeck and Baron Scales and Badlesmere to the Reader – Greeting.”

“The English reader had never before been addressed in even terms by such a lord,” Charlton Ogburn Jr. noted, “and the subscription to the preface could well have been intended to make doubly plain the standing the lord was claiming for letters — ‘Given at the Royal Court.’

“It is not only remarkable as an eloquent piece of Latin prose,” B. M. Ward wrote in 1928. “It seems to indicate a determination on the part of its author to do something more for literature than merely to accept dedications from authors.  For the first time in our annals we find a nobleman taking immense trouble to recommend a book in which he is interested.”

A Scene at the Palace of Urbino, where the conversations recalled in “The Courtier” (1528) had taken place in 1507

[Ward also noted that the preface was later reprinted in all subsequent editions of Clerke’s translation; and that it must have been read by most educated Elizabethans, to whom Latin was a “perfectly familiar language.”]

Six years later, in 1578, Oxford’s former Cambridge friend Gabriel Harvey would allude to the preface as a well-known example of the earl’s literary eminence:   “Let that courtly epistle, more polished even than the writings of Castiglione himself, witness how greatly thou dost excel in letters!”

In Oxford’s preface, translated into English by Ward, we find him praising the author of The Courtier:

An Elizabethan in Fashion

“For what more difficult, more noble, or more magnificent task has anyone ever undertaken than our author Castiglione, who has drawn for us the figure and model of a courtier, a work to which nothing can be added, in which there is no redundant word, a portrait which we shall recognize as that of the highest and most perfect type of man.  And so, although nature herself has made nothing perfect in every detail, yet the manners of men exceed in dignity that with which nature has endowed them; and he who surpasses others has here surpassed himself, and has even outdone nature which by no one has ever been surpassed.” (My emphasis)

Whoa!  Look at that part about “nature” and see how it foreshadows the following lines of  The Winter’s Tale (4.4) to be written by “Shakespeare” later on:

Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean: so, over that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes.

Oxford goes on to say of Castiglione that “however elaborate the ceremonial, whatever the magnificence of the Court, the splendor of the Courtiers, and the multitude of spectators, he has been able to lay down principles for the guidance of the very Monarch himself.”

He takes the time to focus on the art of writing:

“For who has spoken of Princes with greater gravity?  Who has discoursed of illustrious women with a more ample dignity?  No one has written of military affairs more eloquently, more aptly about horse-racing, and more clearly and admirably about encounters under arms on the field of battle.  I will say nothing of the fitness and the excellence with which he has depicted the beauty of chivalry in the noblest persons … Whatever is heard in the mouths of men in casual talk and in society, whether apt and candid, or villainous and shameful, that he has set down in so natural a manner that it seems to be acted before our very eyes.” (My emphases)

Whoa again!  Now he seems to anticipate “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 81:

You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

And in Hamlet’s advice (3.3) to the players:

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance,that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as’twere, the mirror up to nature…”

Queen Elizabeth and her Royal Court

“Again to the credit of the translator of so great a work,” Oxford states, “a writer too who is no mean orator, must be added a new glory of language … For who is clearer in his use of words?  Or richer in the dignity of his sentences?  Or who can conform to the variety of circumstances with greater art?  If weighty matters are under consideration, he unfolds his theme in a solemn and majestic rhythm; if the subject is familiar and facetious, he makes use of words that are witty and amusing.  When therefore he writes with precise and well-chosen words, with skilfully constructed and crystal-clear sentences, and with every art of dignified rhetoric, it cannot be but that some noble quality should be felt to proceed from his work …”

He praises Clerke for dedicating the translation “to our most illustrious and noble Queen, in whom all courtly qualities are personalized, together with those diviner and truly celestial virtues.  For there is no pen so skillful or powerful, no kind of speech so clear, that is not left behind by her own surpassing virtue.” Elizabeth is “of wisest mind, of soundest religion, and cultivated in the highest degree in learning and in literary studies.”

In these closing words of praise for his own prince, Oxford left little doubt that her Majesty had encouraged him in this extraordinary literary adventure openly issued from the Court:

Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603)

“Lastly, if the noblest attributes of the wisest Princes, the safest protection of a flourishing commonwealth, the greatest qualities of the best citizens, by her own merit, and in the opinion of all, continually encompass her around; surely to obtain the protection of that authority, to strengthen it with gifts, and to mark it with the superscription of her name, is a work which, while worthy of all Monarchs, is most worthy of our own Queen, to whom alone is due all the praise of all the Muses and all the glory of literatureGiven at the Royal Court 5 January 1571 (1572 – new style).”

When Oxford wrote that Castiglione had laid down “principles for the guidance of the very Monarch himself,” he was undoubtedly thinking of his own responsibility to try to guide his Queen, as Castiglione recorded in the dialogue at the Palace of Urbino:

“‘I think then that the aim of the perfect Courtier … is so to win for himself … the favor and mind of the prince whom he serves, that he may be able to say, and always shall say, the truth about everything which it is fitting for the prince to know, without fear or risk of giving offense thereby” [Oxford’s motto was Nothing Truer than Truth] and that when he sees his prince’s mind inclined to do something wrong, he may be quick to oppose, and gently to make use of the favor acquired by his good accomplishments, so as to banish every bad intent and lead his prince into the path of virtue … justice, liberality, magnanimity, gentleness, and the other virtues that become a good prince, and on the other hand how much infamy and loss proceed from the vices opposed to them…'”

I believe this is what Oxford tried to accomplish by means of the plays he brought to Court (from the 1570’s onward) for Queen Elizabeth.  Over and over the advice of Castiglione’s characters drawn from real life is to “tell the truth” to one’s prince.  Oxford also heeded The Courtier about literature:

The De Vere Coat of Arms

I would have him [the courtier] more than passably accomplished in letters, at least in those studies that are called the humanities, and conversant not only with the Latin language but with the Greek, for the sake of the many different things that have been admirably written therein. Let him be well versed in the poets, and not less in the orators and historians, and also proficient in writing verse and prose…”

Oxford also followed Castiglione’s view that a man of high birth (as Oxford was) needed to earn his exalted status by means of genuine accomplishment:

“For indeed if by being nobly born, graceful, agreeable, and expert in so many exercises, the Courtier brought forth no other fruit than merely being what he is, I should not deem it right for a man to devote so much study and pains to acquiring this perfection of Courtiership …”

This is a basic ideas with which “Shakespeare” would grapple in his plays of English royal history, that is:  Do we evaluate a monarch’s right to the throne solely on the basis of his blood right or, rather, on the basis of his actions that do or do not bring forth “other fruit than merely being what he is”?

Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn in This Star of England (1952) observe that Oxford subsequently “adopted and developed the method Castiglione had taken from earlier writers, dramatizing the personages of Elizabeth Tudor’s court and those of foreign princes as well, to the degree that his plays presently became ‘the abstract and brief chronicles of the time'” [according to Hamlet, an exemplar of the perfect courtier].

“The young idealist who wrote this beautiful Latin prose did not perhaps suspect that he himself was to surpass Castiglione before many years had gone by,” the Ogburns note, “by writing as forcefully and engagingly in English as he was now able to do in Latin, because through his own genius the English language would be made richer and more flexible, would be given ‘majesty and light.'”

Is this “proof” that a little more than two decades later  (in 1593) Oxford would adopt “Shakespeare” as a pen name?  Of course not.   But in fact it’s just one more piece of “the preponderance of the evidence” leading to that conclusion.

Hank’s 100 Reasons Why Oxford was “Shakespeare” — The List To Date

THE LIST TO DATE:

Reason No. 1: Oxford, like Hamlet, brought plays to Court

Reason No. 2: Golding, Translator of Ovid, was Oxford’s Uncle

Reason No. 3: Oxford Promoted The Courtier, Model for Hamlet

Reason No. 4: Oxford Hailed “New Glory of Language” in Courtier Preface

Reason No. 5: Hamlet’s Brush with Pirates Reflects Oxford’s Encounter

Reason No. 6: Lyly Taught Shakespeare, but Oxford Taught Lyly

Reason No. 7: Oxford Wrote the First “Shakespearean” Sonnet of the Elizabethan Reign

Reason No. 8: Gabriel Harvey’s address to Oxford in 1578: “Thy Countenance Shakes a Spear!”

Reason No. 9: Oxford to Burghley: “I AM THAT I AM”; Shakespeare Sonnet 121: “I AM THAT I AM”

Reason No. 10: Oxford Commanded the English Publication of “Hamlet’s Book”

Reason No. 11 – Part One: The Earl’s Preface to “Cardanus Comforte” is Shakespearean!

Reason No. 11 – Part Two: His Words, Thoughts & Phrases Anticipate Shakespeare’s

Reason No. 11 – Part Three: And Here’s Some of the Extraordinary Evidence

Reason No. 12 – Part One: “Shakespeare” & Queen Elizabeth’s Men

Reason No. 12 – Part Two: Lord Oxford & the Queen’s Men

Reason No. 13 – “Shakespeare” Describes a Titian Painting of “Venus and Adonis” that Oxford, not Shakspere, would have seen in Venice

Reason No. 14 – The Famous “Precepts” of Lord Polonius & Lord Burghley

Reason No. 15 – Oxford’s Prominence in “The Arte of English Poesie” of 1589

Reason No. 16: Bertram in “All’s Well” is a Portrait of Young Oxford

Reason No 17: Oxford at Age 14 Witnessed an Event like the Pivotal Scene in “Hamlet”

Reason No. 18: Henry Peacham and the Hand of an Unseen Author Identified as De Vere

Reason No. 19: The Families of Oxford and Hamlet as Mirror Reflections 

Reason No. 20: Part One: The Nearly 30 Dedications of Books to Oxford 

Reason No. 20: Part Two – The Dedications Show Oxford’s Personal Involvement with the Writers

Reason No. 21: Jealousies and Suspicions Regarding His Wife: Anne Cecil in Desdemona and Ophelia 

Reason No. 22: Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible and its Annotations in His Own Hand

Reason No. 23: Those “Haggards” That Fly From Man to Man

Reason No. 24: Shakespeare’s Deep Knowledge of Italy & Oxford’s Italian Travels

Reason No. 25: Oxford’s Grant of a Thousand Pounds Per Year in Wartime 

Reason No. 26: “L’Envoy to ‘Narcissus'” in 1595 and “One whose power floweth far … Tilting under Frieries”

Reason No. 27: Anthony Munday and his Long Association with Oxford and “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 28: Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton and his links to both “Shakespeasre” and Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Reason No. 29: The Fabric of Oxford’s Life is Woven into the Autobiographical Sonnets

Reason No. 30: Part One – Oxford’s Letters are Filled Throughout with Thoughts and Phrases Used in the Shakespeare Works 

Reason No. 30 – Part Two – His Response in “Shakespearean” Style to the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in August 1572

Reason No. 31: “Timon of Athens” Mirrors Oxford’s Own Character, Life Experiences and Emotional Responses

Reason No. 32: “The Quality of Mercy” and Oxford’s view that “Nothing Adorns a King more than Justice.”

Reason No. 33:  The Earl of Oxford, like Shakespeare, had deep knowledge of France and of the French Language

Reason No. 34: The College of Writers at Fisher’s Folly, Oxford’s House, and the Book of Verses by Oxford and Shakespeare Transcribed by Anne Cornwallis, Daughter of the New Owner 

Reason No. 35 (Part One): The poet Thomas Watson and his Links between Edward de Vere and “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 35 (Part Two): The structure of Watson’s 1582 sonnet “century,” dedicated to Oxford, is duplicated in SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS of 1609 

Reason No. 36: The “Bed-Trick” in Edward de Vere’s Life Story, whether Fact or Legend, and its Appearance in Four of Shakespeare’s Plays 

Reason No. 37 (Part One): Oxford’s Life in Music Explains the Enormous Breadth and Depth of Shakespeare’s Love & Knowledge of It – “Mark the Music!” 

Reason No. 37 (Part Two): Oxford Worked With and Patronized the Composer William Byrd 

Reason No. 37 (Part Three): Oxford Patronized the Composer John Farmer, Who Dedicated His Works to the Earl

Reason No. 38: Henry Peacham in “The Compleat Gentleman” of 1622 Lists Oxford at the Top of Elizabethan Poets but Neglects “Shakespeare” 

Reason No. 39 (Part One): Shakespeare’s Vast Medical Knowledge and Oxford’s Interest in Medicine and Access to Medical Information  

Reason No. 39 (Part Two): More of the Medical Mind of “Shakespeare” and Why Oxford, not Shakspere of Stratford,  is the Author

Reason No. 40: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Its Origins in the Early 1580’s as a Comic Skit about Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Alencon 

Reason No. 41: The Deep Familiarity of “Shakespeare” and Oxford with the Italian Commedia Dell’Arte

Reason No. 42: “Truth is Truth” — Oxford and “Shakespeare” Share the Same Commitment to Truth in the Same Words

Reason No. 43: Oxford and the Law: He had the Experience to Develop and Use the Legal Mind of “Shakespeare” 

Reason No. 44 (Part One):https://hankwhittemore.wordpress.com/?s=reason+44&submit=Search (Scroll down to the Post)

Reason No. 44 (Part Two): Oxford’s Poetry and “Shakespeare’s” Poetry Suggest a Common Source

Reason No. 45: Oxford’s Echo Poem and the Echo Verse in William Shake-speare’s “A Lover’s Complaint”

Reason No. 46: Edmund Spenser’s Lament in 1590 for “Our Pleasant Willy” Who Was “Dead of Late”

Reason No. 46 (Part Two): Additional Thoughts about “Our Pleasant Willy”

Reaspm No. 47: Spenser’s Rhyming Match in 1579 between “Willie” (Oxford) and “Perigot” (Philip Sidney)

Reason No. 48: The Many Characters Reflecting Queen Elizabeth in the Shakespeare Poems and Plays

Reason No. 49: The Many Characters Reflecting Edward de Vere in the Shakespeare Plays

Reason No. 50: Oxford was Court Impressario and Master Showman: The Mock Military Battle for the Queen in 1572

Reason No. 51: Oxford Had Gained All the Military Knowledge Exhibited by the “Shakespeare” Works  

Reason No. 52 (Part One): Oxford Stages a Dramatic Show for the Queen, Playing the Lead Role as “The Knight of the Tree of the Sunne”

Reason No. 52 (Part Two): Oxford’s Page Delivers a Shakespearean Oration to Elizabeth, Professing His Master’s Loyalty

Reason No. 53 (Part One): “The Phoenix and Turtle” of 1601 is Explained by Oxford’s Role as “Knight of the Tree of the Sunne” in 1581

Reason No. 53 (Part Two): The Royal Family Triangle at the Tiltyard (1581), in “The Phoenix and Turtle” (1601) and “Shake-speares Sonnets” (1609)

Reason No. 54: The Author as Gardener: Oxford Grew up in one of the World’s Most Famous Gardens

Reason No. 55: The Earl of Surrey, who introduced the Shakespearean sonnet form in England, was Oxford’s uncle

Reason No. 56: Richard Edwards, Master of the Children of the Royal Chapel, and links with the Young Edward de Vere in the 1560’s

Reason No. 57: Each of the Three Dedicatees of Shakespeare Works was Engaged to One of Oxford’s Three Daughters

Reason No. 58: Touchstone to William in “As You Like It” act one scene five: “You are not ‘ipse,’ for I am he!”

Reason No. 59: Prospero in “The Tempest” based on Dr. John Dee, the Conjurer, and also a self-portrait of Edward de Vere

Reason No. 60: If “Shakespeare” wrote the early play “Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth,” it must have been the young Edward de Vere

Reason No. 60 (Part Two): The Prince Tudor Aspect of “Famous Victories” and the Henry plays of Shakespeare

Reason No. 61: The Sea & Seamanship: Edward de Vere’s Life Explains Shakespeare’s Knowledge

Reason No. 62: Shakespeare’s Use of Heraldry and Heraldic Terms as an Inextricable Part of His Language

Reason No. 63: “A Never Writer to an Ever Reader”

Reason No. 63 (Part Two): Edward de Vere as “Ever or Never”

Reason No. 64: The Year of Oxford’s Recorded Death – 1604 – is a Pivotal Year in the “Shakespeare” Story

Reason No. 65: The Shakespeare Plays were Revised to Become Dramatic Literature

Reason No. 66 (Part One): Oxford was a Complete Man of the Theater – On the Record!

Reason No. 66 (Part Two): Oxford’s Life in the Theater

Reason No. 66 (Part Three): Connecting the Dots of Oxford’s Theatrical Life

Reason No. 67: John Bale’s Early Play of King John and the Earls of Oxford; also, the anonymous “Troublesome Reign” of King John

Reason No. 68 (Part One): “A Pleasant Conceit of Vere Earl of Oxford, Discontented at the Rising of a Mean Gentleman” etc. = Oxford and Christopher Hatton

Reason No. 68 (Part Two): Christopher Hatton and Malvolio of “Twelfth Night”

Reason No. 69: “Cymbeline” from an Oxfordian viewpoint, as an early work, finally makes sense

Reason No. 70: The Duke of Alencon in the Shakespeare plays

Reason No. 71: Alencon and Simier in The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Reason No. 72: Oxford and the Northwest Passage … the bond … the 3,000 pounds and the 3,000 ducats … Lock and Shylock

Reason No. 73 (Part One): “The Merchant of Venice” – Portia as Queen Elizabeth

Reason No. 73 (Part Two): Portia’s Belmont is a Real Place — the Villa Foscari

Reason No. 74: Oxford’s brother-in-law Lord Willoughby brought back report on “Hamlet’s Castle” in Denmark

Reason No. 75: The New Sophisticated Clown Robert Armin was a “servant” of Oxford when he was a “servant” of Shakespeare’s Company

Reason No. 76: Oxford, like Hamlet at the Court of Denmark, was the Most Amazing Jester at the Court of Elizabethan England

Reason No. 77: The Poet-Playwright George Chapman Knew that Oxford = Hamlet = Shakespeare

Reason No. 78: “A King of Infinite Space” – Oxford and Hamlet have the same point of view

Reason No. 79: Shakespearean “history” plays as mirrors (and instruments) of Elizabethan Tudor policy

Reason No. 80: A 1595 Reference to “Sweet Shakespeare” linked to “Our DeVere … A Secret” Discovered by Alexander Waugh

Reason No. 81: Allusions in “Twelfth Night” to the 1581 Interrogation and Torture of Jesuit priest Edmund Campion

Reason No. 82: Both “Shakespeare” and Oxford were Highly Educated in Greek – Demonstrated in the work of Dr. Earl Showerman

Reason No. 83: “Romeus and Juliet” of 1562, when Edward de Vere was Twelve, and Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juiliet”

Reason No. 84: Oxford was Involved in the Revolutionary Expanding Universe of Astronomy as Indicated by “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 85: The Gad’s Hill Robbery: an Episode of Oxford’s Life Shows Up in “Henry the Fourth Part One”

Reason No. 86: The Darnley Murder of 1567, the Assassination of Coligny in 1572, and more — The Likelihood of Contemporary Sources of “Macbeth” in Oxford’s Experience between 1567 and 1589

Reason No. 87: Horses and Horsemanship: An Integral Part of “Shakespeare’s” Work and of Oxford’s Life Experience

Reason No. 88: Oxford’s Links to the Bard’s Printers and Publishers

Reason No. 89: “The Two Most Noble Henries” – Henry Wriothesley and Henry De Vere

Reason No. 90: Oxford’s Tutor Had the Only Manuscript of “Beowulf,” an Influence Upon “Hamlet”

Reason No. 91 (Part One): “The Winter’s Tale”

Reason No. 91 (Part Two): The Trial of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Trial of Queen Hermione

Reason No. 91 (Part Three): “The Stubborn Bear of Authority”

Reason No. 92: Given his anonymity, Oxford had “The Record of a Wasted Genius”

Reason No. 93: Oxford had “Knowledge of Power” that is exhibited in the Shakespeare works

Reason No. 94: Shakespeare’s “immediate predecessors” worked under Oxford’s patronage and guidance

Reason No. 95 (Part One): The Shadowy Figure of Christopher Marlowe

Reason No. 95 (Part Two): Christopher Marlowe, continued

Reason No. 95 (Part Three): Christopher Marlowe, continued

Reason No. 95 (Part Four): Christopher Marlowe, continued to conclusion

Reason No. 96: “Oxford was with Elizabeth before her Speech to the Troops at Tilbury on August 8, 1588”

Reason No. 97: A 1584 Play at Court Performed by Oxford’s Boys was the Early Version of “Troilus and Cressida”

Reason No. 98: Oxford is the Only One on Francis Meres’ List with No Surviving Plays

Reason No. 99 (Part One): The “Taming” Plays in which Oxford Reveals his Identity

Reason No. 99 (Part Two): The Tale of Two Shrews and How it Reveals the Dramatist’s Method

Reason No. 100: How the Oxfordian movement began by looking for a special kind of genius and finding the conditions fulfilled

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