Re-Posting Reason 14 Why Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford: “These Few Precepts”

William Cecil
Lord Treasurer Burghley
1520-1598

Mention “precepts” to an Oxfordian and you will undoubtedly hear about Polonius delivering “these few precepts” to Laertes in Hamlet. Then you’ll hear how Edward de Vere, as a royal ward living at Cecil House, would have known Burghley’s real-life Certain Precepts, which were not printed until 1616, the year that Shakespeare died, and long after the play had been written.

In 1869 the scholar George French observed in Shakspeareana Genealogica that Lord Chamberlain Polonius, his son Laertes and his daughter Ophelia are supposed to stand for Queen Elizabeth’s celebrated Lord High Treasurer Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, his second son Robert Cecil and his daughter Anne Cecil.”  In other words, long before the “authorship debate” it was hardly controversial to suggest that Polonius was modeled after Burghley and that Laertes and Ophelia were “supposed” to be modeled after Burghley and that Laertes and Ophelia were “supposed” to be modeled after Robert (and/or Thomas) Cecil and their sister Anne.

William Cecil was elevated in 1571 to the peerage as Lord Burghley so that Oxford could enter an arranged marriage with his fifteen-year-old daughter, who would then become a member of the nobility. When Burghley’s younger son, Robert, was setting forth on his travels in 1584 (the year when many Oxfordians believe the earl created the first draft of Hamlet), Burghley wrote out “certain precepts” for him as guides to behavior – “and in some of these,” French notes, “the identity of language with that of Polonius is so close that SHAKSPEARE [sic] could not have hit upon it unless he had been acquainted with Burghley’s parental advice to Robert Cecil.”

The first quarto of “Hamlet” appeared in 1603; this is the second one, the “authentic” version, twice as long, published in 1604, the year of Oxford’s death.

In the decades after J. Thomas Looney proposed Oxford as the author in 1920, orthodox scholars began to back away from seeing Polonius as Lord Burghley.  They even tried to suggest that the two sets of precepts are not necessarily similar; but here are some comparisons:

BURGLEY:

Be not scurrilous in conversation, or satirical in thy jests

POLONIUS:

Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportion’d thought his act … be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

///

BURGHLEY:

Let thy kindred and allies be welcome to thy house and table.  Grace them with thy countenance … But shake off those glow-worms, I mean parasites and sycophants, who will feed and fawn upon thee in the summer of prosperity…

POLONIUS:

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; but do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new hatch’d unfledged comrade.

 

///

BURGHLEY:

Neither borrow of a neighbor or of a friend, but of a stranger, whose paying for it thou shalt hear no more of it … Trust not any man with thy life credit, or estate.

POLONIUS:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

///

It is evident that the author of Hamlet needed to be – and was – familiar with Burghley’s maxims, the better to mirror them and simultaneously satirize them. He had heard them firsthand (probably on numerous occasions) at Cecil House, where he had lived until age twenty-one. In fact, such is the argument made by none other than Michael Cecil, the 18th Baron Burghley and a direct descendent of the first baron, William Cecil.

[Note: this post, now arranged as No. 10 of 100 Reasons Shakes-speare was the Earl of Oxford, is the beneficiary of editorial skills used upon it by Alex McNeil, editor of the book published in October 2016.]

Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612)

Here is the speech of Polonius followed by the full text of Burghley’s ten precepts:

Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3

Polonius:

And these few precepts in thy memory

See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,

Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;

For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all: to thine ownself be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Polonius and Laertes

CERTAIN PRECEPTE FOR THE WELL ORDERING OF A MAN’S LIFE

Son Robert:

The virtuous inclinations of thy matchless mother, by whose tender and godly care thy infancy was governed, together with thy education under so zealous and excellent a tutor, puts me rather in assurance of the hope that thou are not ignorant of that summary bond which is only able to make thee happy as well in thy death as life–I mean the true knowledge and worship of thy Creator and Redeemer, without which all other things are vain and miserable. So that, thy youth being guided by so all sufficient a teacher, I make no doubt but he will furnish thy life both with divine and moral documents; yet that I may not cast off the care beseeming a parent towards his child, or that thou shouldst have cause to drive thy whole felicity and welfare rather from others than from whence thou receivedst thy birth and being, I think it fit and agreeable to the affection I bear to help thee with such advertisements and rules for the squaring of thy life as are gained rather by much experience than long reading, to the end that thou, entering into this exorbitant age, mayest be the better prepared to shun those cautelous courses whereinto this world and thy lack of experience may easily draw thee. And because I will not confound thy memory, I have reduced them into ten precepts and, next unto Moses’ tables, if thou do imprint them in thy mind, then shalt thou reap the benefit and I the contentment. And these are they.

1. When it shall please God to bring thee to man’s estate, use great providence and circumspection in the choice of thy wife, for from thence may spring all thy future good or ill; and it is an action like a strategem in war where man can err but once. If thy estate be good, match near home and at leisure; if weak, then far off and quickly. Inquire diligently of her disposition and how her parents have been inclined in their youth. Let her not be poor how generous soever, for a man can buy nothing in the market with gentility. Neither choose a base and uncomely creature altogether for wealth, for it will cause contempt in others and loathing in thee. Make not choice of a dwarf or a fool, for from the one thou mayest beget a race of pygmies, the other may be thy daily disgrace; for it will irk thee to have her talk, for then thou shalt find to thy great grief that there is nothing more fulsome than a she-fool. Touching the government of thy house, let thy hospitality be moderate and according to the measure of thine own estate, rather plentiful than sparing–but not too costly–for I never knew any grow poor by keeping an orderly table. But some consume themselves through secret vices and their hospitality must bear the blame. Banish swinish drunkards out of thy house, which is a vice that impairs health, consumes much, and makes no show, for I never knew any praise ascribed to a drunkard but the well-bearing of drink, which is a better commendation for a brewer’s horse or a drayman than for either gentleman or serving man. Beware that thou spend not above three of the four parts of thy revenue, nor about one-third part of that in thine house, for the other two parts will do no more than defray thy extraordinaries, which will always surmount thy ordinaries by much. For otherwise shalt thou live like a rich beggar in a continual want, and the needy man can never live happily nor contented, for then every least disaster makes him ready either to mortgage or to sell, and that gentleman which then sells an acre of land loses an ounce of credit, for gentility is nothing but ancient riches. So that if the foundations sink, the building must needs consequently fail.

2. Bring thy children up in learning and obedience yet without austerity; praise them openly; reprehend them secretly; give them good countenance and convenient maintenance according to thy ability; for otherwise thy life will seem their bondage, and then what portion thou shalt leave them at thy death they may thank death for it and not thee. And I am verily persuaded that the foolish cockering of some parents and the overstern carriage of others causeth more men and women to take evil courses than naturally their own vicious inclinations. Marry thy daughters in time, lest they marry themselves. Suffer not thy sons to pass the Alps, for they shall learn nothing but pride, blasphemy, and atheism. And if by travel they attain to some few broken languages, they will profit them no more than to have one meat served in divers dishes. Neither by my advice shalt thou train them up to wars, for he that eats up his rest only to live by that profession can hardly be an honest man or good Christian, for war is of itself unjust unless the good cause may make it just. Besides it is a science no longer in request than use, for “soldiers in peace are like chimneys in summer.”

3. Live not in the country without corn and cattle about thee, for he that must present his hand to the purse for every expense of household may be likened to him that keeps water in a sieve. And for that provision thou shalt need lay for to buy it at the best hand, for there may be a penny in four saved betwixt buying at thy need or when the market and seasons serve fittest for it. And be not willingly attended or served by kinsmen, friends, or men entreated to stay, for they will expect much and do little, neither by such as are amorous, for their heads are commonly intoxicated; keep rather too few than one too many; feed them well and pay them with the most, and then mayest thou boldly require service at their hands.

4. Let thy kindred and allies be welcome to thy table, grace them with thy countenance, and ever further them in all honest actions, for by that means thou shalt so double the bond of nature as thou shalt find them so many advocates to plead an apology for thee behind my back. But shake off these glowworms–I mean parasites and sycophants–who will feed and fawn upon thee in the summer of prosperity, but in any adverse storm they will shelter thee no more than an arbor in winter.

5. Beware of suretyship for thy best friend, for he which payeth another man’s debts seeks his own decay; but if thou canst not otherwise choose, then rather lend that money from thyself upon good bond though thou borrow it, so mayest thou pleasure thy friend and happily also secure thyself. Neither borrow money of a neighbor or friend but rather from a mere stranger, where paying for it thou mayest hear no more of it, for otherwise thou shalt eclipse thy credit, lose thy freedom, and yet pay to him as dear as to the other. In borrowing of money be ever precious of thy word, for he that cares to keep day of payment is lord commander many times in another man’s goods.

6. Undertake no suit against a poor man without receiving much wrong for therein making him thy competitor. Besides it is a base conquest to triumph where there is small resistance. Neither attempt law against any man before thou be fully resolved that thou hast the right on thy side, and then spare not for money nor pains, for a cause or two so being well followed and obtained may after free thee from suits a great part of thy life.

7. Be sure ever to keep some great man thy friend, but trouble him not for trifles, compliment him often, present him with many yet small gifts and of little charge, and if thou have cause to bestow any great gratuity let it then be some such thing as may be daily in sight, for otherwise in this ambitious age thou mayest remain like a hop without a pole, live in obscurity, and be made a football for every insulting companion to spurn at.

8. Towards thy superiors be humble yet generous; with thy equals familiar yet respective; towards inferiors show much humility and some familiarity, as to bow thy body, stretch forth thy hand, and to uncover thy head, and suchlike popular compliments. The first prepares a way to advancement; the second makes thee known for a man well-bred; the third gains a good report which once gotten may be safely kept, for high humilities take such root in the minds of the multitude as they are more easilier won by unprofitable courtesies than churlish benefits. Yet do I advise thee not to affect nor neglect popularity too much. Seek not to be E. and shun to be R. [Essex and Raleigh? -SFR]

9. Trust not any man too far with thy credit or estate, for it is a mere folly for a man to enthrall himself to his friend further than if just cause be offered he should not dare to become otherwise his enemy.

10. Be not scurrilous in conversation nor stoical in thy jests; the one may make thee unwelcome to all companies, the other pull on quarrels and yet the hatred of thy best friends. Jests when they savor too much of truth leave a bitterness in the mind of those that are touched. And although I have already pointed all this inclusive, yet I think it necessary to leave it thee as a caution, because I have seen many so prone to quip and gird as they would rather lose their friend than their jests, and if by chance their boiling brain yield a quaint scoff they will travail to be delivered of it as a woman with child. Those nimble apprehensions are but the froth of wit.

I have reprinted the above precepts from:

http://princehamlet.com/burghley.html

… “The World’s Hopeful Expectation” … “The Hope and Expectation of Thy Time” … “The Expectation of the World”

“When Parliament convened in February 1593, the queen was fifty-nine years old, her age intensifying public concern over that ‘uncertain certainty,’ the as-yet-unsettled succession on her death … Despite, or rather because of, the decisive importance of this question, it remained largely invisible on the landscape of public discourse. Elizabeth’s government was determined to see that this preoccupation had no outlet. Public discussion of the succession was forbidden, declared treason by parliamentary statute … The aim of the Crown’s policy was wholly to remove the question of royal lineage from discussion by subjects…” – Robert Lane, The University of North Carolina Press *

Henry Wriothesley
3rd Earl of Southampton

Such was the situation in 1593 when “William Shakespeare” appeared for the first time as the printed signature on the dedication of Venus and Adonis to Henry Wriothesely, Earl of Southampton, to whom he wrote:

“I leave it to your Honourable survey, and your Honour to your heart’s content, which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world’s hopeful expectation.” **

The same poet would use a variation of “the world’s hopeful expectation” in his play of royal history Henry IV, Part 1, when the King chastises his wayward son, Prince Hal, for wasting his gift of blood and failing to prepare for his kingship:

The hope and expectation of thy time is ruined, and the soul of every man prophetically do forethink thy fall.” (3.2.36-38]

By pointing to “the world’s hopeful expectation” for Henry Wriothesley, the poet was consciously and deliberately proclaiming him as the long-hoped-for successor to Elizabeth, who was adamant in refusing to name anyone to follow her on the throne. “Shakespeare” had carefully selected those words, both to address the young earl directly and to publicly advertise this solution to the nation’s crisis. He was voicing his own hope for Southampton to be named the future Henry IX of England.

Robert Lane observes that a major weapon against the Crown’s suppression of public discussion was the power wielded by Elizabethan writers. Plays, for example, “provided a forum for examination of the issue in a manner sufficiently oblique to avoid government retaliation.” Lane then proceeds to focus on how Shakespeare in his history play King John “thoroughly, almost systematically” engages “the specific issues entailed in the succession crisis of the 1590s.”

Yes — and this same “Shakespeare” – Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford – was so concerned about the crisis that he used the launch of his new pen name to voice his own “hopeful expectation” for Southampton as a prince. Here was Oxford’s answer to avoiding civil war over the crown; to preventing a foreigner from gaining the throne; and to finally ending the inherent danger to England caused by the Virgin Queen’s silence.

In Part 2 of Henry IV, after Prince Hal becomes King Henry V, he admits the public had viewed him as a wastrel unworthy of the Crown; but now he vows to wipe away that negative “expectation of the world” and fulfill his destiny as a great monarch:

My father is gone wild into his grave,

For in his tomb lie my affections,

And with his spirit sadly I survive

To mock the expectation of the world,

To frustrate prophecies and to raze out

Rotten opinion, who hath writ me down

After my seeming. The tide of blood in me

Hath proudly flowed in vanity till now.

Now doth it turn and ebb back to the sea,

Where it shall mingle with the state of floods

And flow henceforth in formal majesty. (5.2.123-133)

In my view, Oxford dearly hoped that in the future Henry Wriothesley would use similar words, expressing similar sentiments, about “the tide of blood” that flowed in him.

///

x “‘The sequence of posterity’: Shakespeare’s King John and the Succession Controversy” by Robert Lane, The University of North Carolina Press, 1995

xx My emphases

Re-Posting No. 13 of 100 Reasons Why Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford: Titian’s Painting of Adonis Wearing a Hat

“Venus and Adonis” by Titian, the painting that “Shakespeare” must have seen in Venice

He sees her coming and begins to glow…

And with his bonnet hides his angry brow…

For all askance he holds her in his eye …

Now was she just before him as he sat,

And like a lowly lover down she kneels…

O what a war of looks was then between them!

“Great Oxford,” the collection of essays from the De Vere Society, with its cover in reference to Dr. Noemi Magri’s article about the Titian painting

Her eyes petitioners to his eyes suing,

His eyes saw her eyes as they had not seen them;

Her eyes wooed still, his eyes disdained the wooing;

And all this dumb play had his acts made plain…

Some time her arms infold him like a band.

She would, he will not in her arms be bound…

For shame, he cries, let go and let me go.

Venus and Adonis, 337-342; 225-6; 349-350; 355-360; 379

Venus and Adonis by “William Shakespeare” in 1593 describes a painting by Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian, in which Adonis wears a bonnet or cap.  Although several copies of the Titian painting existed, the only one depicting a bonneted Adonis that could have been seen during Shakespeare’s time was at Titian’s home in Venice. William of Stratford never left England, but Edward de Vere had traveled throughout Italy during 1575-1576, making his home base in Venice, where Titian worked until his death on 27 August 1576.

Another by Titian — without the hat

This piece of factual evidence was presented by Dr. Noemi Magri in Great Oxford: Essays on the Life and Works of Edward de Vere (2004), a collection of papers from the De Vere Society in England:

Tizanio Vecellio, known as Titian (1488?-1576), whose home in Venice was a mecca for princes, ambassadors, cardinals, artists and literary men

“Titian’s painting was his source of inspiration, the thing that stimulated him to write a poem about this subject though he also had a thorough knowledge of Ovid … Shakespeare describes the painting in detail: he portrays the painting in words and the description is too faithful to ascribe it to mere coincidence…

“It is evident that Shakespeare’s Adonis is wearing a hat, a bonnet.  The mention of the bonnet is not coincidental.  This is the detail here taken as evidence of the pictorial source.”

With one fair hand she heaveth up his hat – 351

Bonnet nor veil henceforth no creature wear – 1081

And therefore would he put his bonnet on – 1087

Princes, cardinals, ambassadors and top literary figures “never failed to pay Titian a visit” when they came to Venice, Magri notes. His home was a kind of cultural center and such notables felt they could not leave without going to see the greatest painter of sixteenth-century Venice, the first to have a mainly international clientele.  To be received into his house was an honor that brought high prestige.

“Considering de Vere’s desire for learning and his love for Italian culture, he must have felt the wish to meet him and admire his collection,” writes Magri, who provides evidence to confirm that the autographed copy with Adonis wearing a hat, now held in the National Gallery of Palazzo Barberini in Rome, was in fact at Titian’s house when Oxford lived in Venice. Anyone who studies even a little of the earl’s life will conclude that he could not have failed to pay such a visit.

Shakespeare writes that Adonis looks at Venus “all askance,” which, Magri observes, “is a faithful and precise description of Adonis’ posture in the painting.”  Moreover, the two figures’ glances are “the central motif of the painting” and Shakespeare “has retained the dramatic pictorial element” in his description of their eyes as in, “Her eyes petitioners to his eyes suing.” Also Shakespeare’s reference to “this dumb play” is an accurate description: the play they have performed “is a dumb one since their words are not to be heard.”  The two protagonists, Venus and Adonis, “are not acting on a stage: they are painted on the canvas.”

Magri even notes how Venus, reacting angrily to Adonis’s resistance, bursts out a clear reference to the painted image of him:

Fie, lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone

Well-painted idol… (211-212)

Note: This reason is now No. 47 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford

See also Such Fruits Out of Italy – The Italian Renaissance in Shakespeare’s Plays and Poems by Noemi Magri.

 

 

Ernest Hemingway Doubted that Will Shakspere of Stratford was “William Shakespeare”

Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald

We now have new research and discovery by Nina Green, with follow-up by Linda Theil, whose report to the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group is posted here below:

Ernest Hemingway may be added to the list of Shakespeare authorship skeptics thanks to Nina Green finding a Hemingway letter to Scribner editor Maxwell Perkins. Hemingway opens the letter datelined August 27, 1942 “La Finca Vigia” with praise for Alden Brooks’ Will Shakespeare and the Dyer’s Hand (Scribners, 1943) wherein Brooks proposes Sir Edward Dyer as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays.

Hemingway said:

Dear Max: Thank you very much for sending me the galleys from Alden Brooks’s Shakespeare book. I think it is very possible, as he told me last fall in Tucson, that he has really nailed the man at last. He is so enthusiastic and follows so like a bloodhound and a district attorney with a record for convictions, on the trail of poor Will that he will alienate many people, but as you say he piles up a terrific amount of evidence. Anyway, it is a marvelous job and it would be a crime for it not to be published. He is a good man too and was a fine soldier. . . .

Max Perkins had been shepherding the authorship book through the editorial process at Scribner’s, and had shared his enthusiasm for the work with Hemingway. Perkins biographer, A. Scott Berg, reported in Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (NAL 1979):

In 1942 Perkins was reading proofs of a book that did get published only because of his obstinacy. It was Alden Brooks’s Will Shakespeare and the Dyer’s Hand. For some time the book had been a mania with him. At every editorial conference Perkins brought it up and the board unanimously voted it down. “So, being a man of infinite patience,” one Scribners employee recalled, “he would introduce his suggestion at the next conference, with the same result.” What charmed Perkins about the work was that it credited Sir Edward Dyer, an editor with Shakespeare’s success. Indeed, the book had convinced Perkins that “the man Shakespeare was not the author of what we consider Shakespeare’s works.” Eventually the board gave in, to please Perkins. Max sent copies to many critics, hoping to rouse support. Nearly every one dismissed the work as mere speculation. Still Perkins retained his faith in the book and his respect for it. It made him aware, he told Hemingway, “how frightfully ignorant I am in literature, where a publishing man ought not to be.”  (pp 398-9)

Perkins’ devotion to Brooks’ heretical Shakespeare authorship work is well-known to longtime authorship researchers. In a July 26, 2016 post on Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog, Whittemore detailed the topic in a post titled “Max Perkins to Ernest Hemingway: “That Stratford Man Ain’t No Shakespeare!”

In the article, Whittemore quotes an August 13, 1942 letter from Perkins to Hemingway published in From Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins (Scribners, 1950) by J.H. Wheelock. The entire letter is quoted in Editor to Author. . .; Whittemore focussed on the final paragraph that reads: 

I am trying to read proofs on Alden’s book, and it is most interesting. It is certain, to my mind, that the man Shakespeare was not the author of what we consider Shakespeare’s works.

Until last week when the question came up on Nina Green’s Phaeton email list, no Hemingway response on the topic of Shakespeare authorship was generally known; but, on October 29, 2017 Nina Green wrote on Phaeton:

I’ve received a reply to the e-mail I sent to the Hemingway Letters Project advising that Hemingway did mention Alden Brooks’s book on the authorship issue in a letter to Maxwell Perkins dated 27 August 1942. The letter is on p. 539 of Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: Selected Letters (Scribner’s, 1981).  It appears Perkins had sent Hemingway galley proofs of [Will] Shakespeare and the Dyer’s Hand, and in his letter to Perkins, Hemingway apparently says Brooks did “a marvelous job”.

I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of Carlos Baker’s book containing that letter at the university library later today, and will post more once I have it.

Hemingway refers to Alden Brooks’s book on the Shakespeare

authorship in a letter to Maxwell Perkins dated 27 August 1942.

Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: Selected Letters (Scribner’s, 1981), p. 539.

The result of Green’s efforts is the August 27, 1942 Hemingway quotation posted at the top of this article and the photos shown above. Hemingway letters after 1931 are not yet available on the Hemingway Letters Project site.

Resources

Hank Whittemore, https://hankwhittemore.com/2016/07/26/max-perkins-to-ernest-hemingway-that-stratford-man-aint-no-shakespeare/ 

Hemingway Letters Project, https://www.hemingwaysociety.org/hemingway-letters-project 

Nina Green’s The Oxford Authorship Site, http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/documents.html

Below is a copy of most of my original posting on this blog site:

“It is certain, to my mind, that the man Shakespeare [i.e., Shakspere] was not the author of what we consider Shakespeare’s works.”

— Maxwell Perkins, writing to Ernest Hemingway on August 13, 1942. (From Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins, Scribners, 1950)

Perkins and Hemingway in Key West, Florida in January 1935

Perkins and Hemingway in Key West, Florida in January 1935

Max Perkins was the editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons for some of the greatest novelists of his time, including not only Hemingway but also Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among many others.  Given that the works of these three writers so closely reflected their individual lives and perspectives, this devoted editor (who got so thoroughly involved in his authors’ joys and sorrows) was in the perfect position to see that the soaring, universal works of Shakespeare utterly fail to reflect the life and perspective of William Shakspere.

To Perkins, given what he knew firsthand, the traditional belief that the Stratford man could have written those works was absurd.

At the time he wrote that letter to Hemingway, the editor was reading the proofs of Will Shakspere and the Dyer’s Hand (1943) by Alden Brooks, who had put forth the candidacy of Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607), the English courtier and poet.  In his biography Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (1978), A. Scott Berg reports that Perkins was able to get the Dyer book published “only because of his obstinacy.”

“For some time the book had been a mania with him,” Berg writes.  “At every editorial conference Perkins brought it up and the board unanimously voted it down. ‘So, being a man of infinite patience,’ one Scribners employee recalled, ‘he would reintroduce his suggestion at the next conference, with the same result.’ What charmed Perkins about the work was that it credited Sir Edward Dyer, an editor, with Shakespeare’s success.”

[Note: I am not sure what Berg means by saying Dyer was an “editor,” but he appears to suggest that Perkins was rejecting the Stratford myth at least partially because of some kind of narcissistic bias or vanity.  If so, I disagree.]

Eventually the board agreed to publish the book “to please Perkins,” Berg reports. “Max sent copies to many critics, hoping to rouse support.  Nearly every one dismissed the work as mere speculation.  Still Perkins retained his faith in the book and his respect for it.”

The reason for this tenacity, I suggest, is that he had come to realize the unbridgeable gap between the literary and dramatic works of Shakespeare and the personal experience of the Stratford man.  It must have come as a profound shock. Max Perkins, who was so attuned to his writers and how their lives affected whatever they wrote, could feel that gap in his bones.

////

 

Re-Posting Number 12 of 100 Reasons Why Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford: The Queen’s Men

PART ONE

In 1583, as Philip of Spain prepared to invade and conquer England, the British government created a new acting company as part of secret service activities, which included wartime propaganda to promote patriotic loyalty and unity.  This new troupe, the Queen Majesty’s Players or Queen Elizabeth’s Men, was formed at the express command of the monarch.  Drawing the best actors from existing companies, it became the dominant theatrical group in the crucial years leading to England’s victory in 1588 over the Spanish Armada.

Although printed in 1594, “The True Tragedy of Richard the Third” was performed by the Queen’s Men in the 1580’s. Did “Shakespeare” steal it for his play “Richard III”? Or was the real author, Edward de Vere, building upon his own previous work?

The Queen’s Men performed what were, by all appearances, early versions of royal history plays published later as by Shakespeare.  “The plots of no fewer than six of Shakespeare’s known plays are closely related to the plots of plays performed by the Queen’s Men,” Scott McMillin and Sally-Beth MacLean write inThe Queen’s Men and their Plays (1998).

Did “Shakespeare” use this early anonymous play for “1 Henry IV,” “2 Henry IV” and “Henry V” Or was “The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth” his own youthful play?

These histories include The Troublesome Reign of King John (repeated by Shakespeare “virtually scene for scene” in the Shakespeare play King John)The True Tragedy of Richard III and King Leir (fully covered by Shakespeare in his Richard III and King Lear); and also The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, which forms the entire foundation for the material in 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V.

There is no evidence that Shakspere of Stratford was a member of this prestigious acting company.  The likelihood is that he was still in Warwickshire for the birth of his twins in February 1585, when he was twenty years old. By tradition, the “Lost Years” of that man begin in 1585 and continue until Robert Greene supposedly alludes to him in September 1592.  By then, for the legendary story to be plausible, he has somehow firmly established himself in London as an actor and as a promising, even prominent playwright able to provoke Greene’s jealousy.

None of this has any factual basis.

“Documentary evidence as to Shakespeare’s whereabouts and activities from 1585 to 1592 is totally lacking,” Oscar Campbell writes in The Reader’s Encyclopedia of Shakespeare (1966), adding that “nothing can be confirmed” about the Stratford man’s life in that period. Traditional biographers cannot plausibly explain how “Shakespeare” was anonymously writing early versions of his plays for Her Majesty’s company in the 1580’s. Therefore, some suggest he must have joined the Queen’s Men as an actor and memorized the anonymous plays, which were written by others; then, they propose, he drew upon his prodigious memory to plunder their plots, characters, scenes and even lines, which would mean the greatest writer of the English language was also the most successful plagiarist in history.

“The True Chronicle History of King Leir” was performed by the Queen’s Men in the 1580’s (but published in 1605) and transformed by “Shakespeare” into “King Lear”

As a mature dramatist in the 1590s, McMillin and MacLean declare, Shakespeare set about “rewriting a sizeable portion” of the repertory of the Queen’s Men.   “Four of nine extant plays were turned into six Shakespeare plays, in an act of appropriation extensive enough to make us think it could have occurred from the inside.” Such is the kind of deduction that can come from an incorrect premise. “Shakespeare knew the plays of this company better than those of any company but his own, and the long-standing speculation that he may have begun his career with the Queen’s Men seems to us the most likely possibility.”

“The Case for Shakespeare’s Authorship of ‘The Famous Victories'” by Dr. Seymour M. Pitcher, 1961

A few scholars have bravely stated the more realistic conclusion that Shakespeare himself must have written those earlier versions of his own plays, despite the fact that such a claim would rule out the Stratford man.  It requires Shakspere to have joined the Crown’s prestigious acting company too early to fit his biographical time frame. Fresh from life in the market town ninety miles from London, only twenty years old in 1584, he turns out plays of English royal history about monarchs such as King John, Richard III, Henry IV and Henry V — a miraculous example of pulling one self up by the bootstraps if there ever was one.

(In 1961, for example, Dr. Seymour M. Pitcher at Harpur College in New York published an impressively argued book The Case for Shakespeare’s Authorship of “The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth” — referring to an early play that’s a veritable blueprint for Shakespeare’s later trilogy about Prince Hal becoming Henry the Fifth.   Every scene of Famous Victories is repeated (and in the same order) by Shakespeare, who, Pitcher argued, must have written it when just “a spirited and genial apprentice dramatist.”)

Evidence within The True Tragedy of Richard the Third “reveals the high probability that it was Shakespeare himself who wrote that anonymous play,” argues Ramon Jimenez, “and that his Richard III was his major revision of one of his earliest attempts at playwriting.” There are also “significant links” between the anonymous play and de Vere that “add to the evidence that he was the actual author of the Shakespeare canon.” Furthermore, Jimenez states, the evidence suggests that the anonymous play “was performed for an aristocratic audience, possibly including Queen Elizabeth herself, in the early 1560’s, when de Vere was between thirteen and fifteen years old.”

The scholar Ramon Jimenez, speaking at an authorship conference on the Campus of Concordia University in Portland OR

PART TWO

Oxford was thirty-three in 1583, when Elizabeth’s company was formed by the direct order of Walsingham, head of the government’s intelligence operations, just as the war between England and Spain was becoming official.  During the next crucial years, leading up to the victory over Philip’s Armada in 1588, the new company would perform at court in winter and divide into two traveling troupes in summer.  With its actors wearing the queen’s livery, the wartime company staged dozens of anonymous plays of English royal history throughout the country to promote patriotic loyalty and unity.

During the 1580s, the Queen’s Men performed  works that “Shakespeare” would later turn into mature plays. Moreover, the record shows that Oxford his secretary Lyly were connected to Elizabeth’s  from the outset.   These two facts provide strong evidence that the author of the earlier works performed by the Queen’s Men was Oxford himself, and that it was he who revised his own previous plays for which”Shakespeare” would get the credit.

“The True Chronicle History of King Leir” — acted by the Queen’s Men in the 1580’s, published in 1605, and the principal source of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”

Oxford had returned from  Italy in 1576 and it appears he proceeded to write plays brought to the royal court by the Children of St. Paul’s and by his great friend and supporter Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex.  Oxford had served with him in the military campaign of 1570, against the northern Catholic earls in rebellion against the Protestant rule of Elizabeth.  Sussex was now Lord Chamberlain of the Queen’s Household and patron of the first Lord  Chamberlain’s acting company.  Two examples:

* On New Year’s Day 1577 at Hampton Court the Paul’s Boys performed “The historie of Error,” which may well be an early version of The Comedy of Errors. 

* in Febrary 1577 at Whitehall Palace the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed “The Historie of the Solitarie Knight,” likely an early version of Timon of Athens.

In addition to his patronage of writers, Lord Oxford now had charge of two acting companies, one (Oxford’s Men) of adults and the other (Oxford’s Boys) of choir boys from both Her Majesty’s Children and Paul’s Boys. He had the full sanction of the government; in the mid-1580s, for example, Burghley and Sussex recommended to Cambridge University that Oxford’s Men be allowed to “show their cunning in several plays already practiced by them before the Queen’s Majesty.”

Moreover, Oxford saved the private Blackfriars playhouse from extinction by paying for the lease.  This venue was frequented by aristocrats and students, its performances functioning as rehearsals for appearances in front of Elizabeth at court. Then he passed the lease on to Lyly, who acted as director-manager.  So Oxford was now at the center — he was the center — of the new awakening of English drama leading to “Shakespeare” in the next decade.

Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex (1526-1583), Oxford’s friend and surrogate father, whose Lord Chamberlain’s Men brought plays to Court until his death

Sussex was near death when the order came down on 10 March 1583 to Edmund Tilney, Master of the Revels, that her Majesty’s new acting company be formed.  In effect the Queen’s Men would replace the Chamberlain’s Men. Assigned to assemble the personnel was Walsingham, who had no personal interest in the theatre, but was nonetheless quite aware of its persuasive power.

The formation of the Queen’s Men signaled a new awareness by the Privy Council of the potential for combining theatrical activity and espionage, since players frequently traveled, nationally and internationally. This new adult company could serve the Crown in multiple ways, such as collecting information useful to Walsingham’s intelligence network.

The spymaster assembled the Queen’s Men by enlisting the dozen best performers from all the existing companies.  These included the Dutton brothers, leading players of Oxford’s Men; and the popular clown Richard Tarlton, taken from Sussex’s troupe, who quickly became the star of Elizabeth’s Men.

“The new Queen’s Company made its first appearance at the beginning of the Court season on December 26, 1583,” Ward reports in The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford from Contemporary Documents (1928).  “On Jan. 1, 1584 a performance was given  by Oxford’s Men; and as John Lyly appears in the Chamber Accounts as payee for the company on that date, there is every reason to believe that the play acted was Lyly’s Campaspe.  On March 8, 1584 both Oxford’s and the Queen’s Men performed; once again Lyly was payee for Oxford’s Men …

“Now, it seems unreasonable to suppose that two plays were presented on this day; the most likely solution, therefore, would be that the two companies [Oxford’s and the Queen’s] were amalgamated and rehearsed by Lord Oxford’s private secretary John Lyly, the author of the play.  No other adult companies besides these two appeared at Court during this season.”

Oxford was positioned to respond to the Crown’s need for patriotic plays of English royal history, and, too, he was involved in the creation and operation of the Queen’s Men, whose adult professional actors performed anonymous plays that “Shakespeare” would transform into masterpieces.

Note: This post is now No. 42 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford.  

“Shakespeare Confidential” — The New Book by C.V. “Chuck” Berney

This is a gem of a book filled with sparkling jewels of new insight and new information — for Shakespeare lovers of any kind.  Chuck Berney has been a leader in the field of Shakespearean authorship and of the Oxfordian movement for many years, but he is also, by nature and experience, beyond and above such labels or definitions.  A veteran of the U.S. Army and a Doctor of Physical Chemistry, here is a man of scientific background and large, intuitive vision, one who writes much in the way he speaks — directly, personally, honestly, amusingly, as he continually surprises.

Shakespeare Confidential brings together Berney’s many pieces of writing over the years, starting with ten short essays on film versions of various Shakespeare plays, immediately followed by wonderful pieces such as “Legend of the Round-Earthers” and “Six Reasons Why Stratfordian ‘Scholarship’ is Bad.”  And there’s much, much more — from Walter Scott to “The Spanish Tragedy” to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (“Portrait of a Serial Killer?”) to other topics including one on “Billy Budd and The Monument,” referring to a relationship between Herman Melville’s nineteenth-century novel and my book about Shakespeare’s sonnets. Berney makes a strong and perceptive case that Melville was depicting Edward de Vere the seventeenth earl of Oxford as “Captain Edward Vere” and Henry Wriothesley the third earl of Southampton as the young, handsome sailor Billy Budd, who is accused of helping to lead a mutinous plot, much as Southampton was accused of co-leading the Essex Rebellion of 1601 against the government.

Highly recommended!

 

Re-Posting Reason 11: Oxford’s Prefatory Letter for “Cardanus Comforte” of 1573

(Note: Below is a re-posting of all three parts of Reason 11 much as they originally appeared on this blog site. The combination of all three parts accounts for the length of this single post.  The same entry, reduced in length, now appears as Reason 25 in 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford.

When J. Thomas Looney hypothesized that Edward de Vere earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare,” he came upon his prefatory letter for Thomas Beddingfield’s translation of Cardanus Comforte published in 1573, when Oxford was twenty-three, and one can only imagine Looney’s amazement upon finding such self-evident support for his thesis.  After all, here was a letter we might well have expected to find from “Shakespeare” as a young man.

“CARDANUS Comforte, translated And Published by commaundement of the right Honourable the Earle of Oxenforde.” This is the 1576 edition; the first was in 1573.

Looney wrote in “Shakespeare” Identified (1920) that Oxford’s letter “gives us a glimpse into the nature of the man himself as he was in these early years.  Whatever may have been the pose he thought fit to adopt in dealing with some of the men about Elizabeth’s court, this letter bears ample testimony to the generosity and largeness of his disposition, the clearness and sobriety of his judgment, and the essential manliness of his actions and bearing towards literary men whom he considered worthy of encouragement…

“As a letter it is, of course, prose, but it is the prose of a genuine poet: its terse ingenuity, wealth of figurative speech, and even its musical quality…”

Oxford had taken the court by storm; an expert in horsemanship, he was the new champion of the Whitehall tiltyard; and already he had risen to the heights of the royal favor, amid gossip that he and the queen were lovers despite his marriage to the daughter of chief minister William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the most powerful man in England. In addition, breaking with tradition as he had done with sponsorship of The Courtier by Castiglione, the young earl was clearly England’s great champion of literature and the Italian renaissance.

John Thomas Looney (1870-1944)

Looney’s parting word on the Cardanus preface was a plea to his readers to “familiarize themselves thoroughly with the diction of this letter” and then “read the dedication of Venus and Adonis” to Southampton printed in 1593: “So similar is the style that it is hardly necessary to make any allowance for the [twenty] intervening years.”

An Oxfordian who picked up on the latter theme was Joseph Sobran (1946-2010), who, in the appendix section of Alias Shakespeare (1997), offered perceptive observations such as:

“This document unmistakably prefigures the Southampton poems of Shakespeare: the Sonnets, Venus and Adonis, and The Rape of Lucrece. Written when Oxford was only twenty-three, the letter anticipates these poems in spirit, theme, image, and other details. Like those poems, it borrows, for figurative use, the languages of law, commerce, horticulture, and medicine. It speaks of publication as a duty and of literary works as tombs and monuments to their authors. It has echoes in the plays, and the points of resemblance to the Southampton poems are especially notable…

“Alias, Shakespeare” (1997) by Joseph Sobran

“Oxford’s letter is Shakespearean in a wider respect too: in its overwhelming warmth and generosity, verging on excess, yet controlled by a pleasant irony. He loves to praise, but he avoids the risk of fulsomeness by disguising praise as admiring accusation. ‘For shame!’ he says: ‘You want to hoard your own excellence, deny your virtue to the world!’  This is exactly the rhetorical strategy of Sonnets 1 through 17, using much the same language and many of the same images…”

Here is Oxford’s public letter in 1573 to Bedingfield in full, followed by the dedication of Venus and Adonis in 1593 to Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton:

“To my loving friend Thomas Bedingfield Esquire, one of Her Majesty’s gentlemen pensioners.

“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.

“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 and better I thought it were to displease one than to displease many: further considering so little a trifle cannot procure so great a breach of our amity, as may not with a little persuasion of reason be repaired again. And herein I am forced like a good and politic captain oftentimes to spoil and burn the corn of his own country lest his enemies thereof do take advantage. For rather than so many of your countrymen should be deluded through my sinister means of your industry in studies (whereof you are bound in conscience to yield them an account) I am content to make spoil and havoc of your request, and that, that might have wrought greatly in me in this former respect, utterly to be of no effect or operation: 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? I do not doubt even so you think of your studies and delightful Muses. What do they avail, if you do not participate them to others? Wherefore we have this Latin proverb: Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter. What doth avail the tree unless it yield fruit unto another? What doth avail the vine unless another delighteth in the grape? What doth avail the rose unless another took pleasure in the smell?  Why should this tree be accounted better than that tree, but for the goodness of his fruit? Why should this vine be better than that vine, unless it brought forth a better grape than the other? 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 ornament of virtue.  And in mine opinion as it beautifieth a fair woman to be decked with pearls and precious stones, so much more it ornifieth a gentleman to be furnished in mind with glittering virtues.

“Wherefore considering the small harm I do to you, the great good I do to others, I prefer mine own intention to discover your volume before your request to secret the same; wherein I may seem to you to play the part of the cunning and expert mediciner or physician, who, although 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, yet for the danger he doth evidently know by his science to ensue, denieth him the same. 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, yet I, knowing the discommodities that shall redound to yourself thereby (and which is more, unto your countrymen) as one that is willing to salve so great an inconvenience, am nothing dainty to deny your request.

“Again, we see if our friends be dead, we cannot show or declare our affection more than by erecting them of tombs; whereby when they be dead indeed, yet make we them live as it were again through their monument; but with me, behold, it happeneth far better, for in your lifetime 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 lifetime, again I say, I shall give you that monument and remembrance of your life, whereby I may declare my good will, though with your ill will as yet that I do bear you in your life.

“Thus earnestly desiring you in this one request of mine (as I would yield to you in a great many) not to repugn the setting-forth of your own proper studies, I bid you farewell. From my new country muses at Wivenghole, wishing you as you have begun, to proceed in these virtuous actions. For when all things shall else forsake us, virtue yet will ever abide with us, and when our bodies fall into the bowels of the earth, yet that shall mount with our minds into the highest heavens.

“By your loving and assured friend, E. Oxenford”

DEDICATION OF “VENUS AND ADONIS” – 1593:

“TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE Henry Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton, And Baron of Tichfield

“Right Honourable,

“I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burden.  Only, if your Honour seem but pleased, I account my self highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour.  But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather: and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest.  I leave it to your Honourable survey, and your Honour to your heart’s content, which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world’s hopeful expectation.

“Your Honors in all duty, William 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 Comforte:

“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 de Vere.

The above is just one small example of what will be discovered (and re-discovered) 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

Here is another section of Oxford’s letter:

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, in his prefatory letter to Bedingfield’s translation of Cardanus Comforte 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 a 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…”

Sonnet 81:

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

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 107, the couplet at the end:

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.

 

 

New Edition of “An Index to Oxfordian Publications” – More than 9,000 Entries

An Index to Oxfordian Publications – 4th Edition 2017 – Editor, James Warren

James Warren has done an amazing job as sole author and editor of the 4th Edition of An Index to Oxfordian Publications. The 2017 edition is nearly twice the size of the 2015 version, — not to mention its new sections that expand its already extensive coverage of all Oxfordian publications over the past 95 years.

James Warren

By way of example of its coverage, the new INDEX includes more than 2600 articles from nearly 500 non-Oxfordian publications that have reviewed or commented on the Oxfordian theory since its beginning in 1920.  Another example is that the work has been expanded to include an extensive bibliography of every Oxfordian book published to date, along with selected non-Oxfordian books on the Shakespeare authorship question in general. There are separate sections on the books themselves — and much more.

When the Great Paradigm Shift takes place, with Stratford-upon-Avon replaced by Castle Hedingham, childhood home of Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford as author of the Shakespeare works, you can bet that libraries in every town, city, school and college will need copies of this invaluable index!

 

Re-posting No. 10 of “100 Reasons” for Oxford’s Authorship of the Shakespeare Works – “Hamlet’s Book”

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?

Hamlet: Words, words, words.

The book Hamlet carries on stage and reads during the play has been identified by scholars as De Consolatione, by the Italian mathematician and physician Girolamo Cardano a.k.a. Jerome Cardan (1501-1576), and its English translation was published for the first time upon the orders of the passionate, enthusiastic, 23-year-old Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, who financed the printing as well.

Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576)

The first London edition appeared under the heading Cardanus Comforte translated into English and published by commandment of the right honorable the Earl of Oxenford, Anno Domini 1573. Signaling his intention henceforth to devote himself primarily to literature, Edward de Vere also contributed a prefatory letter and poem in honor of the translator, his friend Thomas Bedingfield.

The earliest identification of Cardanus’ Comforte with Hamlet apparently came from Francis Douce in 1839, writing, “Whoever will take the trouble of reading the whole of Cardanus as translated by Bedingfield will soon be convinced that it had been perused by Shakspeare.”  [Yep, back then they often spelled the name as it generally appeared in Stratford.]

“This seems to be the book which Shakespeare placed in the hands of Hamlet,” Joseph Hunter wrote of Cardanus Comforte in 1845, citing passages that “seem to approach so near to the thoughts of Hamlet that we can hardly doubt that they were in the Poet’s mind when he put [certain speeches] into the mouth of his hero.”

In the first quarto of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in 1603, just before the prince launches into “To be or not to be,” the king sees him “poring upon a book” — suggesting that originally Hamlet was to be holding the book while delivering that famous soliloquy, which is virtually a poetical paraphrase of it.  Examples (with my emphases) follow.

CARDAN: “In holy scripture, death is not accounted other than sleep, and to die is said to sleep … better to follow the counsel of Agathius, who right well commended death, saying that it did not only remove sickness and all other grief, but also, when all other discommodities of life did happen to man often, it never would come more than once … Seeing, therefore, with such ease men die, what should we account of death to be resembled to anything better than sleep … Most assured it is that such sleep be most sweet as be most sound, for those are the best wherein like unto dead men we dream nothing.  The broken sleeps, the slumber, the dreams full of visions, are commonly in them that have weak and sickly bodies.”

HAMLET:To die, to sleep – no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to: ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.  To die, to sleep — to sleep, perchance to dream; ay, there’s the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause.”

Hardin Craig (1897-1968)

The resemblances, Hardin Craig wrote in 1934, are in fact “more numerous and of a more fundamental character than even Hunter seems to have realized.”  Indeed it may be said “without exaggeration,” he continued, “that Cardanus Comfort “is pre-eminently ‘Hamlet’s book,’ since the philosophy of Hamlet agrees to a remarkable degree with that of Cardano.”

Craig cited “a number of even more striking agreements” between Hamlet and Cardan, for example:

CARDAN: “For there is nothing that doth better or more truly prophecy the end of life, than when a man dreams that he doth travel and wander into far countries … and that he travels in countries unknown without hope of return…”

HAMLET: “But that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns…”

Hardin Craig found not only parallels to Hamlet’s speeches but clarifications of their meaning; for example:

CARDAN: “Only honesty and virtue of mind doth make a man happy, and only a coward and corrupt conscience do cause thine unhappiness.”

HAMLET: “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.”

Previously most scholars had interpreted Hamlet’s use of “conscience” as a “sense of right and wrong,” but Hardin Craig’s reading of Cardanus’ Comfort in Bedingfield’s 1573 translation revealed that Hamlet is referring not to moral scruples about suicide, but, rather, to lack of virtue.  In speaking of “virtue” both Cardano and Hamlet mean the power to find remedies for our ills within ourselves; our innate capacity to exercise fortitude and control our minds; and both also use “virtue” to mean our ability to act in response to the calamities of life.

CARDAN: “The life of man must not be accounted long or short in respect of his years.  The life of all mortal men is but short, because with death it shall be most certainly ended.  It is virtue and worthy acts that make the life long, and idleness that shortens thy days.”

HAMLET: (Taking the above thought and rendering it anew in his words): “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.  If it be now, ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.”

“Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is steeped in the philosophy of Cardanus’ Comforte,” Charles Beauclerk writes in his current book Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom, “and shot through with quotations and reminiscences from the work … [Hamlet’s] praise of Horatio’s ability to accept triumph and adversity with equal indifference (‘Give me that man that is not passion’s slave…’) is a masterful summation of Cardan’s recipe for a contented life.  Hamlet gives the speech just before he puts on The Mousetrap in front of the king and queen, highlighting the fact that through theater he achieves dispassion, which is, in Cardan’s view, essential to the clear and contented mind.  In other words, by choosing the appropriate role and playing it with understanding, we make peace with our lot.  Thus Cardanus’ Comforte gives us an insight into the way Shakespeare used theater as a means of coming to terms with his fate.”

Here are some of the comments made by Charles Wisner Barrell in The Shakespeare Fellowship Quarterly of July 1946:

“AMONG THE MANY revealing circumstances that identify the poet-dramatist Earl of Oxford as the personality behind the pen-name of ‘William Shakespeare’ none is more telling than the fact that books which are intimately associated with Oxford’s intellectual development are clearly traceable in the great plays and poems. There are more than a dozen such books—amply certified as unquestionable Shakespearean source material—which contemporary records show the Earl owned, or which were publicly dedicated to him. Many others were written by his personal friends, relatives or known proteges.

“One of these key exhibits which Lord Oxford took a personal hand in bringing to the attention of Elizabethan readers in the year 1573 is a small blackletter translation from the Latin which bears the title of ‘Cardanus Comforte’….

“The human sympathy which Cardan expresses in this one passage is typical of his general out look. By the same token, it is also typical of Shakespeare who rarely fails to give even his deepest-dyed villains opportunity to air their grievances against fate.  Comfort, consolation and their derivatives are words for which the Bard displays a significant partiality….

“Cardan’s philosophy of consolation which made such a deep impression upon Shakespeare owes, in turn, a joint debt to Socrates. Plato, Catullus and Marcus Aurelius, but is shot through with the lively and realistic questioning of an active participant in the Revival of Learning. Wisdom and Wit go forward hand in hand. Neither does Cardan scorn to pause by the broad highway every now and then to chant a snatch of poetry appropriate to some phase of his commentary on the human journey…

“It speaks well for the character and mental proclivities of the young Earl of Oxford that he had encouraged or ‘commanded’ Bedingfield to the accomplishment of this work of permanent, cosmopolitan interest. The situation, however, is all of a piece with Oxford’s recorded career as an inspiring leader and generous, supporter of so many of the scholars and literary innovators whose works are clearly reflected in the deep well of Shakespeare’s knowledge.”

Oxford’s connection to the language and themes of Cardanus’ Comforte ran deep in his veins, as they did in Shakespeare’s — adding one more link in the chain of evidence that the two were one and the same.

This “reason” is now No. 8 in 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford.

(See this essay by William Ray)

Many Oxfordians over the past near-century have made enormous contributions to the scholarship related to Oxford’s sponsorship of Bedingfield’s translation of Cardanus’ Comforte – among them J. Thomas Looney, B. M. Ward, Percy Allen, Ruth Miller, Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn, Charlton Ogburn Jr., Roger Stritmatter and Joseph Sobran.

Here are some other links relevant to Reason No. 10:

FRANCIS DOUCE – Illustrations of Shakespeare and Ancient Manners, 1839

JOSEPH HUNTER – New Illustrations of Shakespeare, 1845

LILY B. CAMPBELL – Hamlet, A Tragedy of Grief, Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes, 1930

HARDIN CRAIG – Hamlet’s Book, 1934

CHARLES BEAUCLERK – Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom, 2010

“I AM THAT I AM” – Re-posting No. 9 of 100 Reasons Oxford was the Great Author

“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

As far as we know, only two individuals during the Elizabethan age used the biblical phrase “I AM THAT I AM” to describe themselves, and they did so within identical contexts: the author of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Edward de Vere, 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, 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 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. Is it the same mind at work … same protest … 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

Dr. Roger Stritmatter’s Dissertation on Oxford’s Geneva Bible: a Landmark in Oxford-Shakespeare Scholarship

God’s words to Moses “I AM THAT I AM” are in the Geneva Bible, a gilt-edged copy of which de Vere had purchased in 1569/70 from William Seres, stationer; and thanks to the landmark studies of that same copy by Dr. Roger Stritmatter, we can be sure the earl was intimately acquainted with its passages.  Both Oxford and “Shakespeare” were biblical experts – one more reason why, in the view here, 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.” (The Case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare” by Percy Allen, 1930)

This reason is now No. 86 in Chapter 15 (“Fingerprints”) of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford.

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