Some Reactions to the Debate in London

A couple of early reactions to the Debate in London yesterday:


And this one is from THE AUSTRALIAN – Full Story at This Link

Oldest literary conspiracy theory trotted out again

A HOLLYWOOD film that claims William Shakespeare was an illiterate buffoon who passed off a nobleman’s plays as his own got off to a wobbly start at the Hay Festival in Wales when actor Ralph Fiennes described the premise as a “dead-end argument”.

Roland Emmerich, one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, presented clips of his film Anonymous to the public for the first time at the festival and answered questions about why he chose to portray the Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford as the true author of the plays.

But Fiennes, who has not seen the film, says he is puzzled by the obsession with giving credit to other authors. “Instinctively, I don’t buy it,” he says.

Fiennes, who was at the festival to talk about his forthcoming film adaptation of Coriolanus, says: “People say, ‘How could he have known about Italy and how could he have so much [knowledge],’ and I’m puzzled because he went to a grammar school, which were very good schools, and why couldn’t a unique individual be able to imagine and encompass a massive range of linguistic expression?  (Full Story at Link Above)


I remember having the same reaction that Fiennes expresses.  I put a lot of stock on good ol’ imagination, and still do — but when I dug a little deeper and discovered how much knowledge — and specific knowledge — gets into the plays, poems and sonnets, well, it boggles the mind and calls for some reassessment.  If you go to a good library and find the Shakespeare section, my goodness it seems there’s an entire book (or two or more) devoted exclusively to Shakespeare’s handling of every single subject such as law, heraldry, music, kingship, flowers, hunting, war, ships, Italy, France, the classics, astronomy, horsemanship, fashions, the bible — I mean, we are not talking just about some “good” or even “great” author but about some kind of amazing giant of whom there may have been no equal in all the rest of history before or since.

Investigation is required — or the result, which I have seen over and over, is what you might call “the dumbing down” of Shakespeare; that is, attempts to reduce him down to more normal size, so he can fit the framework of traditional biography.  I am not speaking of him as a god or a miracle, but, rather, a rare human being who must have had not only “nature” on his side but “nurture” as well — and this is also not about snobbery, please, and not even about who “could” have written these masterpieces but who “did” write them.

Reassessment … Investigation!

Those “Precepts” of Polonius and Burghley: Reason No. 14 Why the Earl of Oxford was the Man Who Wrote “Hamlet”

William Cecil Lord Burghley (1520-1598)

The way I see it, this one is a piece-a-cake.  Holler the word “precepts” to an Oxfordian and the odds, ten to one, are that you’ll get a quick reply about Polonius delivering “these few precepts” in Hamlet and how Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford would have known Lord Burghley’s real-life Certain Precepts, which were not printed until 1616, the year that William of Stratford died, and long after the play had been written.  Well, no, of course this is not proof that Oxford was “Shakespeare,” but, hey, it’s pretty cool…don’t’cha think?

Back in 1869, the scholar George French wrote Shakspeareana Genealogica in which he observed that in Hamlet the three characters of 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, in the days before the “authorship debate” got rolling, there wasn’t any question in people’s minds that Polonius = Burghley; those three characters were “supposed” or generally thought to be modeled on Burghley, Robert Cecil and Anne Cecil.

Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford became a royal ward of Elizabeth at age twelve in 1562, in the custody of her chief minister William Cecil, Lord Burghley; and in 1571, at twenty-one, he entered an arranged marriage with his guardian’s fifteen-year-old daughter Anne Cecil.

When Burghley knew that his son Robert Cecil was about to set out on his travels in 1584, the year when most Oxfordians believe Oxford wrote the first draft of Hamlet, he wrote out “certain precepts” for him as guides to behavior – “and in some of these,” French noted in the nineteenth century, “the identity of language with that of Polonius is so close that SHAKSPEARE [yes, spelled this way, and in caps] could not have hit upon it unless he had been acquainted with Burghley’s parental advice to Robert Cecil.”  

My reason number 14 for contending that Oxford was “Shakespeare” focuses on those “precepts” by Polonius and Burghley.   It would seem evident that the author of Hamlet needed to be familiar with Burghley’s maxims, the better to mirror them and satirize them at the same time!  He had to have heard them “firsthand” – at Cecil House, for example, where Edward de Vere had lived from age twelve to twenty-one.

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.

[Such was the argument made in 2007 during the annual Shakespeare Authorship Conference at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon by Michael Cecil, the eighteenth Baron Burghley, who is directly descended from William Cecil, the first Baron Burghley.]

In the decades after J. Thomas Looney put forth Oxford as “Shakespeare” in 1920, orthodox scholars began to back away from Polonius = Burghley.  They’ve even tried to suggest that the two sets of precepts are not necessarily very similar.   Humbug!!!

The best online analysis of the Polonius-Burghley link is from Mark Alexander in his Sourcetext site at:

Following are some comparisons, with the line breaks removed from Polonius’ speech [which is printed below in full, as it appears in the play].   Not only are these specific pieces of advice very similar; also, there is an overall resemblance of tone.


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


Be not scurrilous in conversation, or satirical in thy jests


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.


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…


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


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.

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


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


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:

Reason No. 9 Why “Shakespeare” was Edward de Vere seventeenth Earl of Oxford: “I AM THAT I AM”:

“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

To my knowledge only two individuals during the Elizabethan age declared in writing, “I AM THAT I AM,” and apparently they did so within identical contexts: the author of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Edward de Vere, the seventeenth 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, Edward 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 that 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; and can’t you feel the same mind at work?  The same protest … the 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

Dissertation on Oxford’s Geneva Bible by Dr. Roger Stritmatter

God’s words to Moses “I AM THAT I AM” are in the Geneva Bible, a gilt-edged copy of which Edward de Vere had purchased in 1569/70 from William Seres, stationer; and thanks to the landmark studies by Dr. Roger Stritmatter of that same copy, held by the Folger Library in Washington, D.C., we can be sure that the earl was intimately acquainted with its passages.  To put it bluntly, both Oxford and “Shakespeare” were biblical experts – one more reason why, in our view, 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.” *

Sonnet 121 is positioned within Sonnets 107 to 126 — a sequence which, as expressed in The Monument, uses one sonnet per day from Sonnet 107 (Southampton’s release from the Tower on 10 April 1603) to Sonnet 125 (Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on 28 April 1603) and Sonnet 126 (the “envoy” of farewell).  This sequence is a thundering “movement” concluding the fair youth series to/about Southampton, but in no way does it preclude Oxford having originally written Sonnet 121 at the time he wrote the 1584 postscript; the likelihood is that he pulled out this old verse to use in the final construction of his “monument” for Southampton.

Here is my take on Sonnet 121 as it appears in The Monument:


Sonnet 121
24 April 1603

Oxford records his commitment to the truth rather than to false appearances.  He repeats the words of God to Moses in the Bible – I AM THAT I AM – in echo of a postscript to Lord
Burghley in 1584, when Southampton was ten years old:  “I serve her Majesty, and
I am that I am.”  In reality, as father to a rightful king, he should be Elizabeth’s consort on the throne and, therefore, a king or god on earth entitled to use God’s words of self-description. Oxford here recalls his own postscript, related to “spies” working for Burghley and poking into his personal affairs.  Nearing the end of his diary, he also sums up his own life to be preserved in this monument.


“It’s better to be vicious that to be thought vicious” – Tucker; VILE = wicked; criminal; in this case, treasonous; “That I was of a strange and vile nature” – Oxford, in a memo circa 1601-1602, Cecil Papers 146.19; Chiljan, 72; quoting false charges against him; ‘TIS BETTER, etc. = Oxford would rather have the genuine guilt for his son’s crime than merely to be deemed guilty without making any sacrifice for him; “This vile traitor, Somerset” – 1 Henry IV, 4.3.33; TO BE = echoing Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, with “not to be” in line 2 below; indicating that he is undoubtedly revising Hamlet (Q2 of 1604) by now; ESTEEMED = deemed in the eyes of others, recalling the theme of Sonnet 29, line 14:  “Then I scorn to change my state with kings”


WHEN NOT TO BE, etc. = when not actually wicked but blamed for being such; NOT TO BE = the other half of “To be or not to be,” the soliloquy of Hamlet, its full version to be published in the next year, 1604.


JUST = legal; the word “just” is on Oxford’s mind in this final Fair Youth sequence: “Just to the time, not with the time exchanged” – Sonnet 109, line 7; “And on the just proof surmise accumulate” – Sonnet 117, line 10; and it was on his mind near the end of the Dark Lady series, when Elizabeth was in her final eclipse: “Who taught me how to make me love thee more,/ The more I hear and see just cause of hate?” – Sonnet 150, lines 9-10; JUST PLEASURE = the happiness Oxford derives from having made a legal bargain for his son; also, for Southampton’s  “royal pleasure”; DEEMED = judged; “The Rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem/ For that sweet odor which doth in it live” – Sonnet 54, lines 3-4


NOT, etc. = “Not in our opinion, but in the view of others” – Booth; Oxford and Southampton
do not agree with the loss of the throne, but that was arranged by others, i.e., Cecil and James; and the truth is that Southampton should have succeeded; OTHERS’ SEEING = the “others” see only the dark guilt of Southampton, and are unaware of or refuse to see (or take into account) his royal blood; in effect, they are blind and see only “darkness which the blind do see” – Sonnet 27, line 8


FALSE = opposite of True, related to Oxford; also “false” related to treason as in “false traitor”; ADULTERATE = counterfeit; not truthful or real; FALSE ADULTERATE EYES = the false view of others that Southampton is a traitor; “I am thy King, and thou a false-heart traitor” – 2 Henry VI, 5.1.143; also, the false view that he is not a king by blood; “Why should false painting
imitate his cheek” – Sonnet 67, line 5; “Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue” – Sonnet 138, line 7, referring to Elizabeth; 6 GIVE SALUTATION TO MY SPORTIVE BLOOD?

SALUTATION = (“And in his private plot be we the first to salute our rightful sovereign with honor of his birthright to the crown” – 2 Henry VI, 2.2.5961; “Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths, even in the presence of the crowned king” – 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-54); Oxford giving salutation to Southampton as a king; MY SPORTIVE BLOOD = i.e., Oxford’s reckless blood that is also part of Southampton’s reckless blood; echoing the royal blood of his son; “And that fresh
which youngly thou bestow’st” – Sonnet 11, line 3


OR ON MY FRAILTIES, etc. = why do weaker people look on my weaknesses; “Frailty, thy  name is woman!” – Hamlet, 1.2.152, another indication that Oxford is revising that play at this time (see lines 1-2 and 8); FRAILER = lack of royal blood, i.e., less royal than my son, i.e., Robert Cecil, but even King James is less royal by blood than Southampton; SPIES = William and Robert Cecil both relied heavily on spies to assist them in running the government; recalling the spies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, hired by Polonius-Burghley.

William Cecil Lord Burghley with his son and successor Robert Cecil, who both used networks of spies and informants


WILLS = royal wills; the royal will of James; a play on “Will” Shakespeare; COUNT BAD WHAT I THINK GOOD = add up his royalty as nothing good or genuine = “To leave for nothing all thy sum of good” – Sonnet 109, line 12; “For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking
makes it so” – Hamlet, 2.2.250-251; COUNT = as in praying upon the Rosary beads: “Nothing, sweet boy, but yet like prayers divine,/ I must each day say o’er the very same,/ Counting no
old thing old, thou mine, I thine” – Sonnet 108, lines 5-7; referring to the accounting of Southampton’s royal blood; “What acceptable Audit can’st thou leave?” – Sonnet 4, line 12; “Her Audit (though delayed) answered must be,/ And her Quietus is to render thee” – Sonnet 126


I AM THAT I AM = “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM” – Exodus, 3.14; I am myself alone – Richard in 3 Henry VI, 5.6.83; “you alone are you” and “you are you
– Oxford to Southampton, speaking to his royal son as king or god on earth, in Sonnet 84

"I serve her Majesty..."

“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.”

– Oxford writing to his father-in-law William Cecil Lord Burghley, the most powerful man in England, on October 30, 1584 – in a postscript in his own hand, when Southampton was ten years old and a ward of the Queen in Burghley’s custody.  Oxford was complaining about Burghley planting servants to spy on him (see “spies” in line 7 above); and in passing he angrily (and indirectly) reminded him that he, Oxford, was the father of a royal son and virtually a king entitled to be Elizabeth’s king-consort.

“Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him I follow but myself: Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty but seeming so, for my peculiar end, for when my outward action doth demonstrate the native act and figure of my heart in complement extern, ‘tis not long after but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at: I am not what I am” – Othello, 1.1.56-64

I am not as I seem to be,

For when I smile I am not glad:

A thrall although you count me free,

I, most in mirth, most pensive sad.

I smile to shade my bitter spite…

– Oxford poem, signed E. O. The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576

O that you were yourself, but love you are

No longer yours than you yourself here live

Sonnet 13, lines 1-2

(In the above lines, Oxford is reminding Southampton that he is no longer what he appears to be; i.e., he is a royal prince who cannot be himself in public)

This is I, Hamlet the Dane!

Hamlet, 5.2.255, the prince asserting his identity and independence

LEVEL = aim; “the direction in which a missive weapon is aimed” – Dowden; “The harlot king
is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank and level of my brain” – The Winter’s Tale, 2.3.6


AT MY ABUSES, etc. = at my deceptions; “Is it some abuse?”– Hamlet, 4.7.49; RECKON UP THEIR OWN = add up their own lies; recalling “reckoning time” of Sonnet 115, line 5


BEVEL = heraldic for crooked; alluding to Oxford’s brother-in-law, the hunchbacked Robert Cecil, and his crooked physical figure


RANK = despicable, foul, festering, large, grievous, bloated, serious, growing ever worse; “O, my offense is rank” – Hamlet, 3.3.36, King Claudius to himself; “Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” – Hamlet, 1.2.136, the Prince, speaking of the world and specifically the state of
Denmark; the terrible, sinful thoughts of others who have deprived Southampton of his claim; but Oxford must stay silent; suggesting high rank or office; ranked in battle order


UNLESS, etc. = unless they admit their evil openly and generally; unless they want to make the
following general argument:


ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for OneALL MEN ARE BAD = Southampton is as “bad” or guilty as all men; but this is ironic, sarcastic; earlier, in the Dark Lady series, Oxford wrote to the still-living Elizabeth in desperate anger: “Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad,/ Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be” – Sonnet 140, lines 11-12

Southampton commissioned this portrait of himself in the Tower after his release by King James in April 1603.

“Why, then, ‘tis none to you; for there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so” – Hamlet, 2.2.250

AND IN THEIR BADNESS REIGN = and he “reigns” as King; (i.e., Oxford standing the whole
picture on its head, reverting back to line 1; so it’s better to be a real king, i.e., one with true rights, than just to be esteemed as one; and if his son is regarded as un-royal, then he should “reign” as king anyway); the new ruler is King James, along with Robert Cecil; and they are reigning over England in all their evil or badness; REIGN = the final word of the sonnet, emphasizing the true nature of the verse as political and related to the issue of whose reign  it should be.

“Save her alone, who yet on th’earth doth reign …” – Oxford poem, The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576, referring to Queen Elizabeth

* The Case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare” by Percy Allen, 1930

Two Short Video Clips of “Shakespeare’s Treason”

(Performance at Flathead Community College in Kalispell, Montana, arranged by Professor Brian Bechtold.)


Towering Defiance of Time and the Official Record: “Thy Registers and Thee I Both Defy!”

The real story of the Shakespeare sonnets is that of one man howling in defiance of obliteration — the burial of his truth, the blotting out of his identity.  The man is Edward, Earl of Oxford, raging against the agents of his destruction and promising to overcome them by preserving the truth in this “monument” of verse for posterity.

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 – 81

Speaking of defiance -- Oxford used this "crown signature" from 1569 until the Queen died in 1603 and James succeeded her, when he ceased to use it.

In a real way Oxford becomes a Christ figure who, in the course of the sequence, undergoes death and resurrection:

The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s loss [cross] – 34

[Henry, Earl of Southampton’s sorrow for his role in the Essex Rebellion offers little relief to Oxford, who has agreed to suffer the consequences for him.]

And both for my sake lay on me this cross – 42

[Both Southampton and Queen Elizabeth, who holds him in her Tower prison, are causing Oxford to suffer]

Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken,
A torment thrice threefold thus to be crossed – 133

[They comprise a royal, dynastic family triangle; because Southampton has committed treason, all three of them are doomed.]

The 1609 dedication of the Sonnets (the inscription on the Monument) to "Mr. W. H." - a reversal of Lord Henry Wriothesley, reflecting his lowly status as "Mr." while in the Tower - from "our ever-living (deceased) poet" -

Oxford is volunteering to take on the burden of the guilt:

So shall those blots that do with me remain
Without thy help be borne by me alone – 36

If my slight Muse do please these curious days,
The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise – 38

[All praise will go to Southampton while Oxford disappears from view.]

To play the watchman ever for thy sake – 61

[He will save Southampton’s life and secure his freedom.]

And art made tongue-tied by authority – 66

[Oxford’s ability to speak directly through these private sonnets has been nullified by official decree; his art has been “tongue-tied” or silenced by the crown, in the person of Sir Robert Cecil, who now runs the Elizabethan government in its final years heading to an uncertain succession.

[He is using a special language, however, allowing him to speak here indirectly.  (“That every word doth almost tell my name” – 76) In effect, his words carry a double image, simultaneously conveying two (or more) meanings.]

He is fading away:

When I, perhaps, compounded am with clay,
Do not such much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay – 71

After my death, love, forget me quite…
My name be buried where my body is – 72

My spirit is thine, the better part of me – 74

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die – 81

The 1594 dedication of "Lucrece" to Southampton -- by "Shakespeare" the pen name and so-called rival poet of the sonnets...

The agent of Oxford’s obliteration is his own pen name, “William Shakespeare,” which he had used to dedicate his first works, Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, to Southampton [the only one to whom “Shakespeare” dedicated anything]; and now that mask is being glued to Oxford’s face:

Was it his [“Shakespeare’s”] spirit by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch that struck me [Oxford] dead? – 86

The more that “Shakespeare” is seen to be praising Southampton, the less visible Oxford becomes:

When your [Southampton’s] countenance filled up his line,
Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine – 86

After Southampton’s liberation by King James on April 10, 1603, a climactic event celebrated by Sonnet 107, his defiance grows into a roar by an amazing compression of words, a literary feat that may well have no equal.  I would urge all to read over the final Sonnets of the “fair youth” sequence from 107 to 126.  Let’s just close with Sonnet 123, in which Edward de Vere tells Time itself, “Thy registers and thee I both defy!” — that is, he defies the official history to be written by the winners [Cecil]; he defies it and will be “true” [indicating his own identity, through his motto Nothing Truer Than Truth] despite all that has crushed him:

No!  Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change,
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange,
They are but dressings of a former sight:
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them borne to our desire
Then think that we before have heard them told:
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond’ring at the present, nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.

The day is coming sooner than later when students will be given the opportunity to appreciate the greatness of these sonnets.  Within the traditional paradigm there has been no possibility for such appreciation; the best that can be taught is the value of the poet’s rhetorical skills, as he puts forth his universal themes, while the severe limitations of Stratfordian authorship dictate that the genuine human drama remains unseen.

Well, it will be seen!  And then there will be new life in the classroom, new excitement in the lecture hall, and a kind of Shakespearean renaissance — as we crawl out of the long dark tunnel of tradition into the bright light of truth.

The Royal Imagery of the Sonnets – And the Genius of the Double Image

In 1964 the Shakespeare scholar Leslie Hotson went out on a limb in his book Mr. W.H. by declaring that the younger man addressed in the Sonnets was royal.  Hotson meant this literally.

“By direct address, by varied metaphor and by miltifarious allusion, the description of the Friend communicated is always one: monarch, sovereign prince, king.  The poet’s harping on the same string is so insistent as to make one ask why it has not arrested attention.  No doubt everyone has regarded this ‘king sense’ as formal hyperbole and nothing more.  Any literal meaning looks quite incredible, a rank impossibility.”

The main reason readers could not take this ‘king sense’ seriously was, simply enough, that William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon (1564-1616) could not have been writing the private sonnets to someone he regarded as a prince or king.  That possibility does exist, however, when Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) is viewed as the author; and the likelihood of it is strengthened when Oxford is viewed as writing to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573?-1624), as a father to his son.

The young Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

Given that Oxford and the Queen had been viewed as lovers circa 1572-1574, during which time Southampton was born, it becomes even more plausible that he wrote the sonnets to Southampton as a father writing to royal son:

I (my sovereign) watch the clock for you – Sonnet 57

Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter:
In sleep a King, but waking no such matter – Sonnet 87

Directly royal words such as  “sovereign” and “king” might be dismissed as metaphorical, but other echoes of kingship are virtually impossible to dismiss.  Among my favorites is an example from Sonnet 96:

How many gazers might’st thou lead away,
If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!

Have you ever heard one man speak to another man and refer to “all thy state”?  Those who are unable to view the obvious royal imagery are at sea.  Editors Ingram and Redpath gloss “the strength of all thy state” as “all the glamour at thy command.”  Yikes!  Dowden sees the line as, “If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy strength,” which must deserve some kind of award for contortion.  Other attempts have included “the full force of your status” or simply “all your power,” and so on.

Katherine Duncan-Jones says the line suggests both “the power that comes from your condition of youthful beauty” and “the force of your high rank” — the latter coming close to what it actually means.

When we consult “Shakespeare” himself on the matter, the phrase “thy state” refers more often than not to the authority and power of a king or queen:

“Fair Queen of England, worthy Margaret, sit down with us: it ill befits thy state and birth that thou should’st stand while Lewis doth sit.” – 3 Henry VI, 3.3

“Today, today, unhappy day, too late, o’erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune and thy state” – to the king in Richard II, 3.2

“The resignation of thy state and crown” – Richard II, 4.1

(“If my dear love were but the child of state” – Sonnet 124, indicating either a ward of the crown or state, which Southampton was, and/or a prince born into royalty and the state of kingship by birth.   And when Oxford writes in Sonnet 64 about the time he will see an “interchange of state,” he had to be anticipating the end of Elizabeth’s reign and the succession to her on the throne.)

The Sonnets of Shakespeare are written on two levels, one more readily grasped as the poetry of love, and the other, just below the surface, carrying Oxford’s intended subject matter and story.  By the power of his own genius, he was able to create these little poems the way an artist draws a double-image picture: whichever image is seen depends entirely upon the perception of any given viewer.

A famous double image - Old Hag & Young Woman - Every Line in service of both images at once

When the Sonnets are viewed strictly as love poems, words such as “beauty” and “fortune” take on their most literal meanings, while words such as “sovereign” and “state” are seen as metaphorical.  In the other view, wherein we perceive Oxford’s intended meaning, “beauty” refers metaphorically to Queen Elizabeth and her Tudor blood and “fortune” is another word for her, while “sovereign” and “king” and “state” can be taken literally!

One picture, simultaneously containing two entirely different images!

Another favorite line of mine in this regard is from Sonnet 10:

Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind

Could this line be written to anyone but a prince, that is, to a king or queen or heir apparent to the crown?  Both “presence” and “gracious” are associated by “Shakespeare” with kingship, as the works themselves testify:


“What’s he approacheth boldly to our presence?” – King Lewis in 3 Henry VI, 3.3

“Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths, even in the presence of the crowned King, thus did I keep my person fresh and new, my presence, like a robe pontifical, ne’er seen but wondered at” – spoken by the King in 1 Henry IV, 3.2

“And sent to warn them to his royal presence” – Richard III, 1.3


“Accept this scroll, most gracious sovereign” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1

“Great King of England, and my gracious lord” – 2 Henry VI, 1.1

“I hold my duty as I hold my soul, both to my God and to my gracious king” – Hamlet, 2.2

The Earl of Oxford — the man who was “Shakespeare” — wrote to Robert Cecil on May 7, 1603 and referred to King James as “so gracious and virtuous a sovereign.”

Meanwhile the word “kind” is often used by “Shakespeare” as meaning related by nature and blood, that is, belonging to someone by birth; and even used in the sense of lawful or rightful.  Once Oxford is viewed as writing to Southampton as his royal son by Queen Elizabeth, the word “kind” takes on enormous power with these meanings.

“A little more than kin, and less than kind” – Hamlet, 1.2

“Shall kin with kin, and kind with kind, confound” – Richard II, 4.1

As Leslie Hotson observed, this “sustained and unmistakable” language of kingship in the Sonnets even “lends no support to the common theory that his youthful Friend might be some nobleman or other, for it is obvious that his chosen terms point not to nobility but to royalty.”

Well, that would seem to eliminate Southampton — until we perceive him as an unacknowledged prince who was raised as a nobleman!

“Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets” – An Amazon Review

I’d like to share an Amazon customer review of Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets by my friend and colleague Peter Rush, as a way of publicly thanking him for the rave, which now follows:

In 2005 the author, Hank Whittemore, published his “monumental”, and I would say definitive, study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, entitled The Monument.  Its 900+ pages is an extended tour de force, and represents, in my opinion, and the opinion of a growing number of others, scholars and “lay” persons alike, the heretofore missing “smoking gun” that not only explains, fully and totally, the entire cycle of 154 sonnets, down to every word in every line in every sonnet, but resolves, definitively, with no room for an alternate explanation, the “Shakespeare authorship” debate, in favor of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

The present volume is the author’s teaser, intended to reveal the core of his analysis and argument, in a very readable, relatively abbreviated format, that will by virtue of a more affordable price and much shorter format, reach a much broader and more general audience.

It is to be hoped that, teased by this volume, many will recognize the need to acquire The Monument itself in order to fully appreciate, at a much deeper, far more satisfying level, dozens and dozens of sonnets they have probably never read before, and which, had they read them, they would have found them incomprehensible, but which they will now find become transparent as to meaning, which will open up the ability to appreciate the astounding poetry, rich beyond compare.

I could attempt to provide some of the actual evidence for Whittemore’s thesis in this review, but I could only begin to scratch the surface, and I couldn’t do it as well as it is done in this volume. This volume can be read in one sitting, and does the job extremely well.  I do commend people to read my review of The Monument in Aug. 2005,  the first review that comes up, for some more information on Whittemore’s revolutionary discovery.

What I do want to say is that Whittemore has identified that not only a few sonnets, as some others have correctly determined, but every single sonnet, is about the 3rd Earl of Southampton, Queen Elizabeth, and/or Oxford himself, which has importance for one reason only — that Southampton was Oxford’s unacknowledged son by Elizabeth, thus of royal blood, a potential successor to Elizabeth, requiring only that she recognize him as her bastard
son for him to become king on her death. Don’t freak out, if this is the first time you’ve heard this thesis. Trust me, when you read this book, you will see hundreds of references in the sonnets that only make sense if this hypothesis is correct. Please don’t prejudge the argument without reading the evidence for yourself.

What I can confirm is that no other attempt to explain the entire sonnet cycle by any other researcher (and only a few have even attempted to analyze all 154 in detail and as a unified corpus), comes remotely close to explaining every sonnet, much less every word and every line in every sonnet. Absent Whittemore’s brilliant analysis, the sonnets at best remain an enigmatic exercise by an acknowledged genius that continues to elude intelligible explication. Anyone with any interest in Shakespeare, the sonnets, and/or the authorship debate, must read this book.

What you will find here is a wealth of different types of evidence that matches the sonnets, one by one, to historical events in Southampton’s life through his release from imprisonment in 1603. The first 17 are entreaties to marry (anyone) in order to procreate, in order to carry on the royal line. Sonnets 27-106 start on the day Southampton was arrested for teason on Feb. 8, 1601, and end the day before he was released. 107-126 cover the days to the burial of Queen Elizabeth. 127-152 are a reprise of the imprisonment period, more briefly, focusing more on Oxford’s anger at Queen Elizabeth, the “dark lady.”

Whittemore convincingly shows who the “rival poet” is, and by establishing that Southampton was his own son, obviously solves the riddle of how/why these poems could be putative love poems to–another man!

What distinguishes The Monument from this volume is that, in addition to providing even more detail along the lines of what this book contains, The Monument provides 14-line translations of every sonnet, rendering the underlying meaning clear, and then providing, in 1-3 pages each, detailed analysis of every line, and many words and phrases, for every sonnet, and showing how the same words or concepts also have appeared in one or more plays.  One needs to read The Monument to really appreciate every sonnet. But the present volume is a wonderful introduction to the thesis, and permits understanding many of the more crucial sonnets.

The Shakespeare authorship debate is in as full a swing as it has ever been. Finally, a number of leading Stratfordians have realized that ignoring the Oxfordian argument wasn’t working for them, and they have decided they need to fight back with books of their own on the authorship debate, websites, etc.

James Shapiro signs my copy of "Contested Will" for me after giving a talk in New York City.

James Shapiro’s “Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare” is just the latest book I believe to be entered in the lists (a wretched, pathetic attempt, in my opinion), and there are a number of extensive websites. In several of these, the Stratfordian side has finally attempted (I think futilely) to actually mention the arguments from the Oxfordian side, and attempt to refute them.  I mention this because, despite being available for the past five years, I have been unable to track down a single attempt by any Stratfordian to tackle Whittemore’s thesis.

I believe this fact (unless I’ve missed some analysis somewhere) is extremely telling.  Given the slowly gathering recognition by more and more people that Whittemore has found the key to both the sonnets and to the authorship issue, it seems pretty certain that had the Stratfordian side any serious argument with which to debunk Whittemore’s thesis (other than prima facie “the thesis that Southampton is QE’s son is impossible”), we would have seen it by now. Their silence speaks volumes in favor of the power of his thesis and
likelihood that Whittemore has, indeed, solved this mystery. I can only imagine that they pray every night that most people will never be able to “get over” their aversion to believing that Southampton could be QE’s bastard son by Oxford, and hence never have to confront Whittemore’s thesis on the evidence itself. If so, I believe they will find themselves sadly mistaken.

In the interests of full disclosure, I want to make known that I have become a personal friend of the author, having read an early draft of his thesis in 2000 on a listserve, when I first contacted him, and have followed his progress from tantalizing hypothesis to confirmed theory ever since. I don’t believe this taints my review. I was intrigued by his early hypothesis, and totally convinced by The Monument, his completed thesis. The present volume is wholly derivative from that 2005 book.

I also want to note a criticism of the way the book was put together, which doesn’t negatively impact the thesis, but does cry out for improvement in a second edition.  The volume reads like a compilation of three or four essays that might have been written separately and then just published together (but I don’t believet his was the case).  Transitions between some of these sections are lacking, and the effect leads to occasional repetition of points already made in an earlier section, and some jumping around of the subject matter.

Thanks to Peter Rush — and Cheers from Hank

“This Sad Interim” – Sonnet 56 – The Living Record of Southampton as His Execution Nears

Southampton, a Convicted Traitor in the Tower of London, held hostage untill after the death of Queen Elizabeth on March 24, 1603 and the official proclamation by the English nobility of James of Scotland as King of England

Sonnet 56
This Sad Interim
9 March 1601

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) records his deep sadness after meeting with Henry Wriothseley, Earl of Southampton in the Tower, when he had to inform his royal son of the bittersweet bargain with Robert Cecil (1663-1612) as the only way to gain a reprieve from his execution.  His reference to the Ocean (the sea of royal blood) is an overt homage to Southampton (1573-1624)*  as a prince or king.  He urges Henry Wriothesley to go along with the bargain to save his life.
(* Officially his birth date is October 6, 1573, but the Sonnets indicate he was born in May or early June 1574.)

Sonnet 56

Sweet love, renew thy force!  Be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but today by feeding is allayed,
Tomorrow sharpened in his former might.

So love be thou, although today thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fullness,
Tomorrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of Love with a perpetual dullness.

Let this sad Interim like the Ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;

As call it winter, which being full of care,
Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wished, more rare.

I have thought to include my “translation” of this sonnet from THE MONUMENT.   Call it a paraphrase, if you want.  The point is not at all to take away from the many other meanings, reverberations, allusions and uses of rhetoric.  The translation represents an attempt to suggest one side of a double image — the important side, which has been overlooked for centuries, because we have been directed (programmed, accustomed) to seeing only the side that appears to be strictly the poetry of love and no more.

Translation – Sonnet 56

Royal son, regain your power!  Be it not said
That you should be less strong than my purpose,
Which is but allayed today by my will
But tomorrow return to your former strength!

So, royal son, be the same.  While today you
Bring yourself back to physical health,
Tomorrow be a royal prince again.  Do not kill
The essence of your blood with imprisonment.

Let this sad time [in prison] be like royal waters
Separating a king from his subjects, but
Brings them together again, so when all see
The return of royal blood, it will be seen freshly.

Call this a dark time, which filled with royalty,
Makes your golden time thrice more desired and rare.

SWEET LOVE = royal prince; royal son; “Good night, sweet prince” – Hamlet, 5.2.366; THY FORCE = your royal power and strength; validity, as in “our late edict shall strongly stand in force” – Love’s Labour’s Lost, 1.1.11; your will to live

EDGE = the cutting side of a blade, echoing the “edge” of the executioner’s axe; “But bears it out even to the edge of doom” – Sonnet 116, line 12; keenness, desire, royal will; “with spirit of honor edged more sharper than your swords” – Henry V, 3.5.38; APPETITE = your desire to live; i.e., Oxford is urging his son to go along with the bargain being made for his life, appealing to his desire to live and eventually be freed from prison

BY FEEDING = by being put out to pasture, so to speak; “Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep in the affliction of these terrible dreams that shake us nightly” – Macbeth, 3.2.18-19; ALLAYED = postponed (with ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for One)

TOMORROW = “Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind” – Sonnet 105, line 5; FORMER MIGHT = former royal power; “O’er-charged with burden of mine own love’s might” – Sonnet 23, line 8; “Thy pyramids built up with newer might” – Sonnet 123, line 2; “England shall give him office, honour, might” – 2 Henry IV, 4.5.129; “the might of it” – i.e., the might and power of the crown, 2 Henry IV, 4.5.173

Secretary Robert Cecil is holding Southampton, the rightful Prince and Heir, in the Tower -- while he carries on a dangerous correspondence with King James of Scotland, secretly engineering his succession behind Elizabeth's back

SO LOVE BE THOU = so, royal son, be your royal self, since you are you; “This is I, Hamlet the Dane!” – Hamlet, 5.1.255; “But he that writes of you, if he can tell/ That you are you, so dignifies his story” – Sonnet 84, lines 7-8; act like the king you are, and go along with this decision to save your life; in giving up the throne, you help England avoid civil war, and you will gain your life and freedom

HUNGRY EYES = royal eyes wanting to be who he is; WINK WITH FULLNESS = close or shut because of the power of the sun or royal light; echoing the “winking” of Southampton’s royal eyes or stars or suns;

TOMORROW SEE AGAIN = stay alive and use your kingly eyes once more; KILL = destroy; echoing the execution of Southampton, still a possibility, with Oxford urging his son to accept the terms of the “ransom” and, thereby, to save himself from being killed.

THE SPIRIT OF LOVE = the sacredness of your royal blood (which is the essential and vital part of you); “Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame” – Sonnet 128, line 1, to Elizabeth, referring to her waste of Southampton’s “spirit of love” or royal blood; Essex in 1597 wrote to Elizabeth thanking her for her “sweet letters, indited by the Spirit of spirits”; PERPETUAL DULLNESS = eternal shame; perpetual confinement in the Tower; eternal death

THIS SAD INTERIM = this sorrowful time of your imprisonment (which hopefully is only temporary); OCEAN = kingly; royal blood

“Here, then, we have Shakespeare typifying his Friend variously as a sun, a god, an ocean or a sea: three familiar metaphors which he and his contemporaries use to represent a sovereign prince or king” – Leslie Hotson, Mr. W. H., 1965

“Even to our Ocean, to our great King John” – King John, 5.4.57; “The tide of blood in me … shall mingle with the state of floods and flow henceforth in formal majesty” – 2 Henry IV, 5.2.129; “A substitute shines brightly as a king, until a king be by, and then his state empties itself, as doth an inland brook into the main of waters” – Merchant of Venice, 5.1.94-97; poets alluded to Elizabeth as “Cynthia, Queen of Seas and Lands” – Roy Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth, 52; “Thou art, quoth she, a sea, a sovereign king;/ And lo, there falls into thy boundless flood/ Black lust, dishonour, shame” – Lucrece, line 652

King James I of England

CONTRACTED NEW = come together again; “But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes” – Sonnet 1, line 5; Oxford and his royal son, envisioned as newly contracted

COME DAILY = like these verses written daily; echoing the day-by-day experience of his son in prison; like the tide coming daily to the banks of these “pyramids” or sonnets, as in “No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!  Thy pyramids built up with newer might/ To me are nothing novel, nothing strange” – Sonnet 123, lines 1-3; “Thus they do, sir; they take the flow of the Nile by certain scales in the pyramid” – Antony and Cleopatra, 2.7.17-18

RETURN OF LOVE = return of royal blood; i.e., when Southampton finally emerges from the Tower, he will be alive and so will his “love” or royal blood still live; BLEST = full of Southampton’s royal and divine blessings; “the blessed sun of heaven” – Falstaff of Prince Hal in 1 Henry IV, 2.4.403

WINTER = the present time, early March of 1601; this miserable time of your imprisonment and possible death; “How like a Winter hath my absence been/ From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year” – Sonnet 97, lines 1-2, corresponding with February 8, 1602; “Three winters cold … /Since first I saw you fresh” – Sonnet 104, lines 3-8, corresponding to February 8, 1603, the third winter of Southampton’s confinement; i.e., this entire time of your confinement is a winter; FULL OF CARE = full of Oxford’s care for him, to save his life; “Thou best of dearest, and mine only care” – Sonnet 48, line 7

SUMMER’S WELCOME = the welcoming of the golden time of the king, of Southampton as prince, his return to freedom; “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day … And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date … But thy eternal Summer shall not fade” – Sonnet 18, lines 1, 4, 9; THRICE = related to the Trinity and also to the previously potential royal family (which is no longer possible) of Elizabeth and Oxford and Southampton; MORE RARE = more royal; “Beauty, Truth, and Rarity,/ Grace in all simplicity” – the royal family of Elizabeth, Oxford and Southampton in The Phoenix and Turtle, by “William Shake-speare,” 1601, 53-5

The Oxford Movie is on its way…

Here is my response to some great comments by Lee Crammond:

Hi Lee — First, again, congratulations on your findings about the two public dedications to Southampton, the means by which Oxford brought “Shakespeare” onto the printed page and into the world’s history.


When the paradigm of authorship finally shifts, your unique observations will be acknowledged by all — in the category of “Why didn’t I see (or say) that?”

On the movie “Anonymous” [see the Shakespeare Oxford Society – SOS – Blog for updated casting news] —

I know that Roland Emmerich had a copy of The Monument early on, in the fall of 2005, the year it was published; and that fall I did have a lunch meeting with him in London.  We did not discuss any details of his then-developing script, other than the context of the Rebellion of 1601 and Southampton’s confinement in the Tower for 26 months until the Queen’s death and the proclamation of James of Scotland as King James I of England.  And Robert Cecil’s key role in this history, which began with a performance of “Richard II” at the Globe, showing an English monarch handing over his crown — something being suggested for Elizabeth, who would say, it is reported, “I am Richard II, know ye not that!”

I expect in most movies to find some major distortions of history.  I don’t know how it will turn out but I am hoping nonetheless that the movie calls attention to the topic itself.  I’m hoping it will help open up the authorship topic for discussion.  I’m hoping for a lot — Emmerich’s intentions are good — but it’s not up to me.

There is great irony in the practical suggestion that Edward de Vere is recognized as Shakespeare and then the PT (Prince Tudor) theory (of Southampton as son of Oxford and Elizabeth) brought in as sequel.  The irony in my view is that it’s precisely the lack of Oxfordian acknowledgment of PT — or of Oxford’s political motives, even — that is preventing more swift acceptance of Oxford’s authorship.  He had the means, he had the opportunity — but what’s the MOTIVE for adopting such a warrior-like pen name and then allowing his identity to be obliterated.  The jury needs a motive to convict him not only of writing the works but of disappearing so completely.

The sonnets as a whole, as a sequence that was constructed at the far end of the story, supply the motive.  The subject matter is the author’s disappearance — “My name be buried where my body is.” (71)  The subject is also the pen name — the name “Shakespeare” was the force that rendered him speechless — “Was it his spirit by spirits taught to wright above a mortal pitch that struck me dead?” (86)

If there was a Prince Tudor who deserved the throne, and Robert Cecil was guiding James to the throne knowing that success made the difference for himself of life and death, and James knew the truth would destroy his peaceful succession and throw the country into the very civil war that it feared — would this not be a motive for silence?

The Oxfordian movement has been in existence for 90 years.  It’s growing and I do hope the paradigm can change under any circumstances.  I do think that it’s the History department where the change will occur more readily, since those folks have far less to lose.  It’s the English department that has rolled out miles and miles of sheer baloney and whole careers and reputations have been built on it.  What a mountain of b.s. will come tumbling down!

Ask those who profess to love Will of Stratford if they are at all interested in the two or three decades that led up to his entrance in 1593 and 1594 via those dedications.  Ask if they are eager to learn about Shakespeare’s predecessors, nearly all of whom worked directly with Edward de Vere, dedicating their efforts to him and testifying that he was not only their patron but their leader.  Ask if they are interested in the foreground of Shakespeare.  One in ten might have studied this history.  The others, who profess to have such love for Stratford Will, have no real interest whatsoever.  I believe this is another strong route to the paradigm change — studying, for example, how the Queen’s Men of the 1580’s produced no less than six plays that “Shakespeare” had either written himself or [not!] stole from later.  Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth – The Troublesome Reign of King John — and so on! — all written by the true “Shakespeare” in those years before he adopted that warrior-like pen name for reasons in the 1590’s that were, yes — political — that is, here was Oxford’s way of supporting Southampton in the power struggle against William and Robert Cecil to determine who would control the succession upon Elizabeth’s death.

That’s what any movie about Oxford as “Shakespeare” might be called – A MATTER OF SUCCESSION

All best,

On Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 9:36 am Lee Cramond Said:

Hi Hank,

Are you aware that Edward de Vere quite probably left a remarkable clue to his identity as the author of both Venus & Adonis and Lucrece, hidden in their dedications? One that lies in plain sight once you know where to look?

In V & A his name appears in lower case but in Lucrece, as if to re-assert his authorship he has shown his name beginning with a capital V. The two dedication references (in the bodies of text) are in the 2nd last line in V & A and the 4th last line in Lucrece. In fact, this latter reference could even plausibly be read as a mission statement…’Vere my worth greater, my duty would show greater’,…

Dedication of "Venus and Adonis" to Southampton - 1593

Knowing de Vere’s fascination with punning on his name, could this not be a valid reading of the text? It is unprovable of course, but it would amount to two more pieces of circumstantial evidence for de Vere.
I cannot find any references to this interpretation anywhere on the web, but I’m sure someone must have noticed it before.
Your thoughts on this theory are appreciated.

Regards, Lee

Dedication of "Lucrece" to Southampton - 1594

“I, My Sovereign, Watch the Clock for You” – The Living Record – Chapter 52 – The Execution of Southampton Draws Near

Sonnet 57
I, My Sovereign, Watch the Clock for You
10 March 1601

Crowds of London citizens have been gathering in the mornings for the expected execution of Southampton.  Meanwhile Oxford addresses his royal son directly as “my sovereign” and states his duty as his “slave” or “servant” (vassal in service to his Majesty the Prince) to “watch the clock for you.”  In the ending couplet, Oxford records the fact that the bargain for his son’s life will include his own obliteration from the official record as the author of the works attributed to Will Shakespeare.  Oxford’s popular pen name is his gift to Southampton, who therefore has both a “Will” and a royal will.

A beheading on Tower Hill

This sonnet begins the fourth chapter of ten sonnets apiece, a chapter ending with Sonnet 66, the fortieth sonnet on the fortieth day after the night of the Rebellion when Southampton was imprisoned.

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I (my sovereign) watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu.

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But like a sad slave stay and think of nought
Save where you are how happy you make those.

So true a fool is love that in your Will
(Though you do any thing) he thinks no ill.

The Tower


SLAVE = servant to a prince or king, as in “your servant” in line 8 below; same as one who serves “in vassalage” as in “Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage/ Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit” – Sonnet 26, line 1; “Thou factious Duke of York, descend my throne, and kneel for grace and mercy at my feet: I am thy sovereign.” – 3 Henry VI, 1.1.74-76; “Be humble to us, call my sovereign yours, and do him homage as obedient subjects” – 1 Henry VI, 4.2.6-7; “Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot.  My life thou shalt command” – Richard II, 1.1.165-166

It is the curse of kings to be attended
By slaves that take their humours for a warrant
King John, 4.2.208-209

That God forbid, that made me first your slave
Sonnet 58, line 1

TEND = “That millions of strange shadows on you tend” – Sonnet 53, line 2; “Who didst thou leave to tend his Majesty?” – King John, 5.6.32; “The summer still doth tend upon my state” – Queen Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 3.1.147; “Where twice so many have a command to tend you” – to the King in King Lear, 2.2.453-454; “Tend me tonight” – Antony & Cleopatra, 4.2.24); “The which attending from the Court, I will take my leave of your Lordship” – Oxford to Burghley, July 1581

Dedication of "Lucrece" in 1594 to Southampton


HOURS AND TIMES = the time being reflected in these sonnets, related to the ever-waning life of Elizabeth; UPON THE HOURS AND TIMES OF YOUR DESIRE = the times chosen by your royal will; “When was the hour I ever contradicted your desire, or made it not mine too?” – Queen Katharine pleads with the king for mercy, Henry VIII, 2.4.26-27


PRECIOUS = royal; “Tend’ring the precious safety of my prince” – Richard II, 1.1.32; “Then can I drown an eye (unused to flow)/ For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night” – Sonnet 30, lines 5-6; TIME = repeated from the previous line, emphasizing the importance of this ongoing time, now leading to the possible execution of Southampton; ALL = Southampton, his motto One for All, All for One


SERVICES = duties in service to him as prince; (“my duteous service” – Richard III, 2.1.64; “A boon, my sovereign, for my service done” – Richard III, 2.1.96; “Commend my service to my sovereign” – Henry V, 4.6.23; “My gracious lord, I tender you my service” – Richard II, 2.3.41; “To faithful service of your Majesty” – Richard II, 3.3.118; “Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers that owe yourselves, your lives and services, to this imperial throne” – Henry V, 1.2.33-35; “So service shall with steeled sinews toil, and labour shall refresh itself with hope to do Your Grace incessant services – Henry V, 2.2.36-39; “We shall present our services to a fine new prince” – The Winter’s Tale, 2.117; “Beseech your Highness, give us better credit; we have always truly served you, and beseech you so to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg, as recompense of our dear services” – The Winter’s Tale, 2.3.146-149, i.e., in service or slavery

And happily may your sweet self put on
The lineal state and glory of the land!
To whom, with all submission, on my knee
I do bequeath my faithful services
And true subjection everlastingly
King John, 5.7.101-105
(The Bastard to Prince Henry, son of now-deceased King John)

The White Tower - where Southampton is confined

“I serve Her Majesty” – Oxford to Burghley, October 30, 1584

TILL YOU REQUIRE = until you, my sovereign, command me; “The gods require our thanks” – Timon of Athens, 3.6.67-68


CHIDE = rebuke, scold, quarrel with; “A thing like death to chide away this shame” – Romeo and Juliet, 4.1.74; THE WORLD WITHOUT END HOUR = eternity; (“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end” – Morning Prayer Service); END HOUR = perhaps a play on “endower” – i.e., Henry Wriothesley, if he is not the King, can no longer “endow” the Tudor dynasty; he was “the world’s fresh ornament” in Sonnet 1, line 9, but now “the world” will be “without” him as its “endower.”


MY SOVEREIGN = Oxford speaking to his royal son as his prince or king; “The purest spring is not so free from mud as I am clear from treason to my sovereign” – 2 Henry VI, 3.2; “Comfort, my sovereign!  Gracious Henry, comfort!” – 2 Henry VI, 3.2.37; “Good morrow to my sovereign King and Queen!” – Richard III, 2.1.47; “A boon, my sovereign, for my service done” – to the King in Richard III, 2.1.96; “My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege” – Richard II, 1.1.21; “The King, thy sovereign” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1.25; “Be humble to us, call my sovereign yours and do him homage as obedient subjects” – 1 Henry VI, 4.2.6-7

WATCH THE CLOCK FOR YOU = Remain vigilant while the time leads to the hour when you may be executed; keep recording this time in these verses; wait with mounting anxiety over your impending execution; “To play the watchman ever for thy sake” – Sonnet 61, line 12; “so vexed with watching and with tears” – Sonnet 148, line 10; “The special watchmen of our
English weal” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1.66; “For sleeping England long time have I watched” – Richard II, 2.1.77; “What watchful cares do interpose themselves betwixt your eyes and night?” – Julius Caesar, 2.1.98-99; stand guard for you and your blood; “To guard a title that was rich before” – King John, 4.2.10


BITTERNESS OF ABSENCE = the pain of your absence of liberty, of your absence from me, of your absence from the rest of England, being in the Tower; “Th’imprisoned absence of your liberty” – Sonnet 58, line 6; “O absence, what a torment” – Sonnet 39, line 9; “From you have I been absent” – Sonnet 98, line 1; “I will acquaintance strangle and look strange,/ Be absent from thy walks” – Sonnet 89, lines 8-9, referring to the “walks” he shared with
Southampton on the roof of his prison quarters within the Tower fortress; SOUR = hurtful

Dedication of "Venus and Adonis" in 1593 to Southampton, who is "the world's hopeful expectation," just as he is "the world's fresh ornament" in Sonnet 1


YOUR SERVANT = your Majesty’s loyal and faithful servant; “Servant in arms to Harry King of England” – 1 Henry VI, 4.2.4; “Fit counselor and servant for a prince” – Pericles, 1.2.63; “The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever” – Horatio to the Prince in Hamlet, 1.2.162


DARE = Oxford speaking of his need to remain silent or be charged with treason for proclaiming his son’s right to the throne; “Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee,/ Till then, not show my head where thou mayst prove me” – Sonnet 26, lines 13-14; JEALOUS = (“Vehement in feeling, as in wrath, desire, or devotion … Zealous or solicitous for the preservation or well-being of something possessed or esteemed; vigilant or careful in guarding” – OED); “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Host” – Geneva Bible, 1560, 1 Kings 19.10


WHERE YOU MAY BE = within the Tower; YOUR AFFAIRS = you affairs of state; “What one has to do … business” – OED; “But what is your affair in Elsinore?” – Hamlet, 1.2.174; “So I thrive in my dangerous affairs” – the King in Richard III, 4.4.398; “To treat of high affairs touching that time” – King John, 1.1.101; to Queen Elizabeth: “To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side” – Sonnet 151, line 12


SAD SLAVE = unhappy servant; SLAVE = “a person who is absolutely subject to the will of another” – Schmidt; repeated from line 1; NOUGHT = nothing; an image of Southampton as “none” (the opposite of “one”) and “nothing” or a “nobody” in the prison; Oxford must think of “nothing” and so he may think of his son, who is “nothing” in the eyes of authority


Except how happy you make those who are in your royal presence, i.e., those other criminals or traitors in the Tower; SAVE = except; WHERE YOU ARE = in the Tower; HAPPY = (“Health to my sovereign, and new happiness” – 2 Henry IV, 4.4.); THOSE = the other prisoners (and even the guards) in the Tower



TRUE = Oxford, his motto Nothing Truer than Truth; FOOL = Oxford had pictured himself as a Jester or “allowed fool” at Court (allowed by the Queen), who wrote “comedies” laced with political satire and appeared to make a fool of himself; IN LOVE = in service of the royal blood; YOUR WILL = your royal will, with a play on “Will” Shakespeare, the pseudonym Oxford created in order to publicly support his son


Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

HE = love, i.e., royal blood can do no ill; also Oxford, as loving father; NO ILL = as opposed to the “ill deeds” of the Rebellion, i.e., Southampton must repent (and forfeit the crown) and this act, with Oxford’s sacrifice of his own identity, will “ransom all ill deeds” – Sonnet 34, line 14; perhaps a play on “illegitimate”, i.e., Oxford still “thinks no ill” or thinks his son is not illegitimate; “If some suspect of ill masked not thy show” – Sonnet 70, line 13, referring to Southampton as a “suspect traitor” who has been convicted
and is now in the Tower facing execution

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, in the Tower (8 Feb 1601 - 10 April 1603) - being held here until Robert Cecil engineers the succession of King James

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