Re-Posting Reason 7: Oxford Wrote One of the First “Shakespearean” Sonnets of the Elizabethan Reign

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547) – Beheaded a few years before Oxford, his nephew, was born; as a poet he introduced the “Shakespearean” sonnet into England and Oxford followed suit soon after becoming a courtier at twenty-one in 157

Poetry was part of Edward de Vere’s family heritage.  He was a boy when the lyrical verses of his late uncle the Earl of Surrey were published, and among them were the first English sonnets in the form to become known much later as the “Shakespearean” form.

Soon after Oxford turned twenty-one in 1571 and began his steep rise in the royal favor, he himself composed one of the first sonnets in that form during the Elizabethan reign.

Oxford’s sonnet consisted of a series of questions to himself about the one who was the center of his universe. The answer to each rhetorical question was Elizabeth, who — “above the rest in Court” — was the one who gave him royal “grace.”   (Only a monarch could give grace.)  All his loyal devotion was directed to his sovereign mistress.

The words and themes of this early work will reappear in the more mature verses published in 1609, five years after Oxford’s death, entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.

We’ll take a look at a few of these parallels, but, first, his Shakespearean sonnet:

Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart?

Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint?

Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart?

Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint?

Who first did paint with colors pale thy face?

Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?

Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace?

Who made thee strive in honor to be best?

In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,

To scorn the world regarding but thy friends?

With patient mind each passion to endure,

In one desire to settle to the end?

Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,

As nought but death may ever change thy mind.

The Shakespearean sonnet form using Sonnet 129 as an example

The opening line – “Who taught thee first to sigh alas, my heart” – will be echoed decades later by “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 150: “Who taught thee how to make me love thee more.”

Oxford’s phrase “Above the rest” in the second quatrain will be repeated in Sonnet 91: “Wherein it finds a joy above the rest.”

His theme in the first line of the third quatrain – “In constant truth to bide so firm and sure” – will find similar expression by “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 152:

“Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy.”

Queen Elizabeth I circa 1565-1570, when she was age 32-37

It’s fitting that Oxford’s sonnet to and about Elizabeth is echoed so strongly in the later Dark Lady Series of the Shakespeare sonnets (127-152), given the premise of The Monument that the “dark lady” is the Queen herself – not, I should add, because of any dark physical coloring but because of her “dark” or negative attitude and actions toward the “fair youth,” Henry Wriothesley third earl of Southampton.

[This circumstantial evidence was originally posted here more than six years ago; now a slightly expanded and edited version appears as No. 22 in 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford (October 2016)].

O Thou My Lovely Boy, Who in Thy Power…

Lo thus by day my limbs, by night my mind,

For thee, and for my self, no quiet find – Sonnet 27

Let me confess that we two must be twain,

Although our undivided loves are one:

So shall those blots that do with me remain,

Without thy help be borne by me alone – Sonnet 36

As a decrepit father takes delight

To see his active child do deeds of youth,

So I, made lame by Fortune’s dearest spite,

Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth – Sonnet 37

What can mine own praise to mine own self bring,

And what is’t but mine own when I praise thee? – 39

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you – Sonnet 57

And all those beauties whereof now he’s King

Are vanishing, or vanished out of sight – Sonnet 63

Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter,

In sleep a King, but waking no such matter – Sonnet 87

Yet this abundant issue seemed to me

But hope of Orphans, and un-fathered fruit – Sonnet 97

What’s in the brain that ink may character,

Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?

What’s new to speak, what now to register,

That may express my love, or thy dear merit?

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,

Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name – Sonnet 108

For nothing in this wide Universe I call,

Save thou, my Rose, in it thou art my all – Sonnet 109

Now all is done, have what shall have no end – Sonnet 110

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments.  Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no, it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown although his height be taken – Sonnet 116

But that your trespass now becomes a fee;

Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me – Sonnet 120

If my dear love were but the child of state,

It might for fortune’s bastard be un-fathered – Sonnet 124

And take thou my oblation, poor but free,

Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art

But mutual render, only me for thee – Sonnet 125

O Thou my lovely Boy, who in thy power

Dost hold time’s fickle glass, his sick hour,

Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st

Thy lovers withering, as they sweet self grow’st:

If Nature (sovereign mistress over wrack)

As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,

She keeps thee to this purpose: that her skill

May time disgrace and wretched minute kill.

Yet fear her O thou minion of her pleasure,

She may detain but not sill keep her treasure!

Her Audit (though delayed) answered must be,

And her Quietus is to render thee.

(                                                                                 )

(                                                                                 )

A Guest Post on Shake-Speares-Bible.com … About the Sonnets

Dr. Roger Stritmatter has graciously published a guest post of mine, entitled The “Second Intention” of the Sonnets, on his website Shake-Speare’s Bible.Com.  (The actual web address is shake-speares-bible.com).

Dr. Roger Stritmatter

I wrote the post in response to some recent statements by Dr. Richard Waugaman, whose own website The Oxfreudian has become an important resource for anyone interested in Shakespeare authorship studies.

I have great respect for Dr. Waugaman and often agree with his views; we are colleagues on friendly terms and I’m sure we’ll remain so.

Dr. Richard Waugaman

In regard to Shakespeare’s sonnets, however, we have found ourselves on opposite sides of an issue that has divided Oxfordians for many years: the question of the relationship between the true author (Edward de Vere the seventeenth earl of Oxford) and the fair youth (Henry Wriotheseley the third earl of Southampton).  My approach in the guest post is perhaps different than usual — suggesting that we put that question aside (for the moment, anyway) and look instead for where and how the basic “story line” of the Sonnets fits together with the historical-biographical record.

I urge my readers to take a look at the guest post and join any of the give-and-take commentary that might develop.

Meanwhile many thanks to Dr. Stritmatter, whose own breadth and depth of knowledge about Shakespeare and the Earl of Oxford are, in two words, without equal.

Thomas Watson, Poet: He’s a Link of Many Facets between Edward de Vere and “Shakespeare” – Part One of Reason No. 35 to believe Oxford became the Bard

AUTHORSHIP QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“In our conclusion that these Sonnets were addressed to Southampton, we have the full support of the great majority of authorities on the subject.” –  J. Thomas Looney, 1920

The lyrical poet Thomas Watson (1556?-1592) has the honor of being “one of the direct forerunners of Shakespeare (in Venus and Adonis and in the Sonnets) and of being the leader in the long procession of Elizabethan sonnet-cycle writers.”  [NNDB] And Watson is linked to “Shakespeare” through Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) in some startling ways:

Watson's Sequence of 100 Sonnets Dedicated to Edward de Vere (1582) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW

In 1582, Watson published his most celebrated work The Hekotompathia or Passionate Century of Love, a sequence of 100 or a “century” of numbered eighteen-line sonnets [“passions”], with “prose headers” demonstrating his knowledge of works by some fifty classical or renaissance authors in their original languages; and he dedicated it to Edward de Vere, testifying that the earl “had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand.”

[We may not be wrong in suggesting that Oxford himself contributed the “prose headers” accompanying each Watson sonnet, commenting on their contents and sources.]

In 1589, the year after Oxford sold his London mansion Fisher’s Folly to William Cornwallis (whose daughter Anne apparently found some verses written by De Vere and others, including a poem to appear in 1599 as by Shakespeare), Watson became employed in the Cornwallis household.  [That September, when playwright Christopher Marlowe was attacked by an innkeeper’s son named William Bradley for failure to pay a debt, Watson came to his aid and killed Bradley, for which he spent six months in prison – See Marlowe Society.]

Francis Walsingham, the spymaster (1530?-1590)

(Marlowe acted as a spy for the English government and it seems that Watson did, too.  His association with Francis Walsingham, head of the growing secret service during wartime buildup in the 1580’s, brings him into probable contact with Oxford from this direction as well.   On June 21, 1586, William Cecil Lord Burghley urged Walsingham to confront the Queen about financial assistance to Oxford; and on June 26 Elizabeth awarded Oxford his annual grant of 1,000 pounds that would be continued even by King James in 1603 until Oxford’s death in 1604.)

In 1590, Watson published Italian Madrigals –most of them composed by Luca Marenzio, while Marenzio was staying in Mantua with the Gonzaga family from 1568 to 1574 – which Watson put into English and composer William Byrd set to music. Yet Watson had never traveled to Italy, while Oxford had apparently stayed with the Gonzaga family while visiting Mantua in 1575!  [See the work of Dr. Michael Delahoyde of Washington State University, discussing “Oxford and Music” – a topic to be reserved for another “reason” in this series.]

In 1593, the year after Watson died, his collection of sixty numbered fourteen-line sonnets [in the later-known “Shakespearean” form] was published as The Tears of Fancie, or Love Disdained (but with no name on the title page and only “Finis T.W.” after the final sonnet, No. 60, which was a slightly different version of Oxford’s early sonnet Love Thy Choice, which he had written back in the 1570’s [if not earlier] to express his devotion to Queen Elizabeth.)

In 1609, when the sequence of numbered verses SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS was printed, one sonnet in the Dark Lady series (no. 130) was quite clearly a takeoff, satiric or otherwise, on one of the sonnets printed under Watson’s name (no. 7) in the Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love of 1582.  [For example, whereas Watson’s sonnet had “Her lips more red than any Coral stone,” Shakespeare wrote, “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red,” and so on.]

Also in Shakespeare’s sonnets there is a string of 100 verses or a “century” of them (nos. 27 to 126) between two equal segments of twenty-six sonnets apiece (nos. 1-26 and 127-152); and this central Shakespeare sequence is divided into two parts, of eighty and twenty sonnets, exactly as the Watson’s century had been divided.  [I’ll treat this link between Watson and Edward de Vere separately, as part two of “Reason No. 35” to believe Oxford was “Shakespeare.”]

And those who like acrostics or hidden messages (on which I take no position), here are six lines (5 to 10) in the exact center of Sonnet 76, which itself is the key to unlocking the entire sequence:

Why write I still all one, ever the same,

And keep invention in a noted weed,

That every word doth almost tell my name,

Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?

O know sweet love I always write of you,

ANd you and love are still my argument

Well, I know … it would be better to find an “N” as the last letter of “WATSON,” but I just figured to pass on what came from the Marlovian researcher John Baker and later from Oxfordian researchers Dr. Eric Altschuler and Dr. William Jansen, who suspect that “Thomas Watson” may have been “the primary pseudonym [of Edward de Vere] immediately preceding the use of ‘Shakespeare’ [in 1593].”

[My take would be that Oxford would have used Watson’s name in order to publish certain works.  Watson’s death was recorded as September 26, 1592; his Tears of Fancy was published the following year, 1593, when the name “Shakespeare” made its first appearance in print [on Venus and Adonis].

Here is the Watson dedication to Oxford in Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love in 1582:

To the Right Honorable my
very good Lord Edward de Vere, Earle
of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbecke, Lord
of Escales, and Badlesmere, and Lord High
Chamberlain of England, all
happinesse.

Alexander the Great, passing on a time by the workshop of Apelles, curiously surveyed some of his doings, whose long stay in viewing them brought all the people into so great a good liking of the painter’s workmanship, that immediately after they bought up all his pictures, what price soever he set them at.  And the like good hap (Right Honorable) befell unto me lately concerning these my Love Passions, which then chanced to Apelles for his Portraits.  For since the world hath understood (I know not how) that your Honor had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand, many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press, that for their money they might but see what your Lordship with some liking had already perused.

And therewithal some of them said (either to yield your Honor his due praise, for soundness of judgment; or to please me, of whom long since they had conceived well) that Alexander would like of no lines, but such as were drawn by the cunning hand, and with the curious pencil, of Apelles.  Which I set not down here to that end, that I would confer my Poems with Apelle’s Portraits for worthiness; albeit I fitly compare your Honor’s person with Alexander’s for excellence.  But how bold soever I have been in turning out this my petty poor flock upon the open Common of the wide world, where every man may behold their nakedness, I humbly make request that if any storm fall unlooked-for (by the fault of malicious high foreheads or the poison of evil-edged tongues) these my little ones may shroud themselves under the broad-leafed Platane [plant] of your Honor’s patronage.

And thus at this present, I humbly take my leave; but first wishing the continual increase of your Lordship’s honor, with abundance of true Friends, reconciliation of all Foes, and what good soever tendeth unto perfect happiness.

Your Lordship’s humbly at command

Thomas VVatson

Here is Watson’s Sonnet No. 7:

Hark you that list to hear what saint I serve:
Her yellow locks exceed the beaten gold;
Her sparkling eyes in heav’n a place deserve;
Her forehead high and fair of comely mold;
Her words are music all of silver sound;
Her wit so sharp as like can scarce be found;
Each eyebrow hangs like Iris in the skies;
Her Eagle’s nose is straight of stately frame;
On either cheek a Rose and Lily lies;
Her breath is sweet perfume, or holy flame;
Her lips more red than any Coral stone;
Her neck more white than aged Swans that moan;
Her breast transparent is, like Crystal rock;
Her fingers long, fit for Apollo’s Lute;
Her slipper such as Momus dare not mock;
Her virtues all so great as make me mute:
What other parts she hath I need not say,
Whose face alone is cause of my decay.

And here is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, (satirizing?) the lines above:

My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the Sunne;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen Roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such Roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my Mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My Mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Here is Oxford’s sonnet Love Thy Choice (circa early 1570’s):

Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart ?
Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint ?
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart ?
Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint ?
Who first did paint with colours pale thy face ?
Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest ?
Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace ?
Who made thee strive in honour to be best ?
In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
To scorn the world regarding but thy friends ?
With patient mind each passion to endure,
In one desire to settle to the end ?
Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,
As nought but death may ever change thy mind.

And here is No. 60 of Tears of Fancy attributed to Watson, 1593:

Who taught thee first to sigh Alasse sweet heart? love
Who taught thy tongue to marshall words of plaint? love
Who fild thine eies with teares of bitter smart? love
Who gave thee griefe and made thy joyes so faint? love
Who first did paint with coullers pale thy face? love
Who first did breake thy sleepes of quiet rest? love
Who forst thee unto wanton love give place? love
Who thrald thy thoughts in fancie so distrest? love
Who made thee bide both constant firme and sure? love
Who made thee scorne the world and love thy friend? love
Who made thy minde with patience paines indure? love
Who made thee settle stedfast to the end? love
Then love thy choice though love be never gained,
Still live in love, dispaire not though disdained.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Reason No. 35 — How Oxford borrowed the Watson “century” structure for the “century” within the Shakespeare sonnets.

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.

[SEE BELOW]

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,
Hank

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

“Do Not So Much as My Poor Name Rehearse … My Name Be Buried” — An Answer to “Why” the Earl of Oxford Used the “Shakespeare” Pen Name

On one of our Internet-based forums discussing the theory that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the “Shakespeare” poems and plays, I recently found my thoughts pouring onto the paper about Oxford’s use of the pen name.  Here’s an edited version:

In my view we Oxfordians make a big mistake by trying to explain “Shakespeare” in conventional authorship terms, that is, by saying Oxford  used the pen name “because he was a nobleman who loved to write poems and plays, but, because it was a disgrace for a noble to take credit for such writing, he adopted a pen name.”

A Portrait of "The Two Henries" circa 1619 -- demonstrating the close tie between Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, and Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford, son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

I think we Oxfordians also make a mistake saying Oxford used the pen name “because he had lampooned highly placed figures such as William Cecil, Lord Burghley, chief minister to Queen Elizabeth, and exposing his own identity meant exposing them as well.”

The story is much bigger than that.

The fact is Oxford had published songs or poems under his own name, publicly, in the collection Paradyse of Dainty Devices of 1576; and he had advertised his writing earlier in his prefaces to The Courtier of 1572 and Cardanus Comforte of 1573. He had used names of living or deceased persons and fictional names.  He had written anonymously, too.

He had done this through his most productive years in his twenties and thirties, and not until age forty-three in 1593 did he adopt the Shakespeare pen name.

I say we Oxfordians might acknowledge the obvious, that Edward de Vere’s s adoption of “Shakespeare” on Venus and Adonis in 1593 and Lucrece in 1594 was different than all the other cases.  In this instance he linked the pen name by dedication to a person, that is, to Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton.  It’s clear that in this case Oxford’s motive in using the pen name  “Shakespeare” was TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE EARL OF  SOUTHAMPTON PUBLICLY, which he did with dedications to him on those two sure-fire bestsellers.

The Earl of Oxford's initials E.O. are on the cover page of The Paradyse of Dainty Devices, 1576, with Edward de Vere's early poems and songs among the collection

We Oxfordians would do well to acknowledge that the case for Venus and Adonis and Lucrece as somehow “anti”-Southampton has NOT been made.  Those who have claimed that either the dedications or the poems carried negative intentions toward Southampton have FAILED TO MAKE THEIR CASE.  There is no evidence for that claim and all the evidence we do have is on the positive side.

Oxford used “Shakespeare” and the dedictions and the narrative poems to call attention to Southampton in a POSITIVE way.

After Burghley’s death in 1598, Oxford’s revisions of his own plays began to have the Shakespeare name on them as well; and there is some evidence that he used these plays to call positive attention to the Essex faction, of which Southampton was a leader.   On its face the conspirators of the 1601 Essex rebellion (and Southampton as leader of its planning) used Richard II by Shakespeare in a positively intentioned way against the power of Secretary Robert Cecil to control the coming succession.

It emerges, therefore, that Oxford’s writing life had two phases:

(1) during the 1560’s, 1570’s and 1580’s, he wrote under various names or anonymously in the service of England under Elizabeth, as court play producer and writer, as head of a team of writers, developing an English cultural identity, rousing unity in the face of threats from within and without; and

(2) from 1593, after Southampton had rejected a Cecil alliance through marriage, when Oxford supported him as “Shakespeare” and, therefore, TURNED AGAINST the Cecil-run government … and after Burghley’s death, with escalation of this struggle culminating in the utterly failed rebellion.

After the abortive revolt and during 1601-1603, it was Robert’s Cecil’s single minded, nerve-wracking task to engineer the succession of James without Elizabeth learning of the secret correspondence with that monarch.  Cecil could not afford any opposition, much less civil war.  If he failed in this endeavor he was a dead man.  He needed all the help and support he could get.

He killed Essex quickly, as his father had killed the Duke of Norfolk in 1572 and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots in 1587, because these Catholic figures had stood in the way of the continuing Protestant reformation.  Cecil wrote a letter saying he probably could not avoid the Southampton execution — and I think this was part of his own setup for taking credit later on, as the man who got the Queen to spare Southampton’s life.  (In fact it was Cecil himself who decided Southampton should be spared, not because of affection or pity but so he could hold him hostage in the Tower until after King James was safely and securely on the throne.)

As the Oxfordian researcher Nina Green has suggested, Oxford may well have been “40” in the secret correspondence with James; and I recommend G. P. V. Akrigg’s book of James’ letters* including the one to “40”, promising to deal with him “secretly” and “honsestly” and only through Cecil.

*(The Letters of King James VI and I)

King James VI of Scotland & King James I of England

Both Cecil and James needed Oxford’s support, on various levels, and the perpetual confinement of Southampton — as the base commoner “Mr. Henry Wriothesley,” or “the late earl” in legal terms — was a way of securing Oxford’s agreement to help.

If we believe Oxford was Shakespeare, and if we believe he had told the truth publicly to Southampton that “the love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end,” and that “what I have to do is yours,” then we must conclude that Oxford did whatever he could do to ensure that, if he did help James become king and helped Cecil to regain his power, then Southampton would be released with a royal pardon and all his lands and titles restored.

Sir Robert Cecil, Principal Secretary to Elizabeth

These things did result and they have not been explained by conventional history.

But it’s explainable if all those remarkable rewards were in return for Southampton’s pledge to cause no trouble for a peaceful succession.  Oxford and Southampton both had potential disruptive moves to make, moves they did not make.  And they did not make such moves despite the fact that in no way did any of these English nobles really want James on their throne.   And in any case, legally he had no claim because he’d been born on foreign soil.

And it’s here that we have the Sonnets with Oxford’s expressions of fear for Southampton’s life, and his pledge that “my name be BURIED,” not just hidden behind a pen name, but really buried and that he would “die” not onlyphysically, which was a given, but die “to all the world,” that is, his identity would die and be buried.

In his place would be “Shakespeare” the pen name (the so-called Rival Poet) which was the “better spirit” that “doth use your name, and in the praise thereof makes me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.”

This is no routine anonymity as before, but, now, obliteration to “all the world” in terms of his writing and his positive intentions toward Southampton.  And in the sonnets he tells Southampton, “When I perhaps compounded am with clay, do not so much as my poor name rehearse.”

So if we choose to take him seriously as speaking to Southampton under these conditions, then here is the correct answer to the authorship question in terms of “why” — why his name was buried: because he had promised this self-obliteration in order to avoid another civil war in England, to bring about a peaceful succession, and to save the life and future of  Southampton.

All of which was accomplished.

“To all the world” meant to contemporary generations and the next two or three as well.  The sonnets become a “monument” for posterity.  All we need to do is read sonnets 55 and 81 for that theme.  And in 107, the climax of the story, he celebrates all these bittersweet results at once, ending with yet another pledge that this will be Southampton’s monument that will outlast all other kinds of tombs.  And even he, Oxford, “will live in this poor
rhyme,” that is, he will cheat death in the end through these sonnets.

So the Sonnets were not published to be sold, and not printed for commercial reasons.  They were printed in hopes that they would survive until some future time when “all the breathers of this world are dead.”  (81)

The Sonnets are nonfiction dressed as fiction — a statement I make for the Sonnets, uniquely so, NOT for all the other Shakespeare works — and I believe we Oxfordians would do well to emphasize that we do NOT contend that the plays are autobiographical in the strictest sense.  They are works of the imagination, fiction, with many autobiographical elements and, since this is a case of hidden authorship, Oxford undoubtedly inserted clues to his presence.

But as Scott Fitzgerald wrote that the rich are different than you and me, so we can say that the Sonnets are different than the poems and plays.  The Sonnets, unlike the plays of Hamlet and Othello, are written with the personal pronoun “I” in reference to the author himself.

Oxford’s agreement to bury his name and identity was different after the rebellion of 1601 than it had been in 1593 when he first used the Shakespeare pen name.   After 1601, he was pledging to take another huge step, not one he had committed to before:

“Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write above a mortal pitch,” he asks about “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 86, “that struck me dead?”

He had agreed to be “tongue-tied” by “authority” or officialdom.  The government which he had worked so hard to help, even to the point of testifying against his Catholic cousins — that same government was the cause of his demise.  A terribly sad, ironic story — but a much more dynamic one, and a more accurate one, I contend, than the one we Oxfordians have been trying to communicate over the past ninety years.

I say it’s time to move the authorship debate forward by putting forth the far more powerful, and human, story that is both personal and political — necessarily political, given that our candidate for “Shakespeare” was in fact the Lord Great Chamberlain of England, highest-ranking earl of the realm and — despite his Hamlet-like eccentricities, his Shakespeare-like multiple personalities — an extraordinary figure at the very center of the Elizabethan royal court, within the context of the Anglo-Spanish War that officially spanned the two decades from 1584 to 1604, when England was always a nation struggling to survive as well as grow.

“Strange Shadows on You Tend” – Sonnet 53 – The Living Record – Chapter 48

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: SOUTHAMPTON IN THE TOWER
Sonnet 53
Strange Shadows On You Tend
6 March 1601

Now, with Essex dead and the other conspirators also condemned, time grows short for Southampton’s fate to be decided.  The great shadow of Elizabeth Regina’s imperial frown, the “region cloud” of Sonnet 33, spreads over Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton in the Tower.  The tone of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford is of increasing worry even as he writes in praise of his son, whom he likens to Adonis of “Venus and Adonis,” the 1593 poem dedicated to him by “Shakespeare.”

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,

And you, but one, can every shadow lend.
Describe Adonis and the counterfeit
Is poorly imitated after you;
On Helen’s cheek all art of beauty set,
And you in Grecian tires are painted new.

Speak of the spring and foison of the year,
The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
The other as your bounty doth appear,
And you in every blessed shape we know.

In all external grace you have some part,
But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

(Following is an edited “short” version of the treatment of Sonnet 53 in my edition THE MONUMENT):

The Tower of London, where Southampton was held captive until James of Scotland became King James I of England

1 WHAT IS YOUR SUBSTANCE, WHEREOF ARE YOU MADE,
YOUR SUBSTANCE = your inner reality, i.e., your royal blood; “No, no, I am but a shadow of myself: you are deceived, my substance is not here” – 1 Henry VI, 2.3.49-50;

2 THAT MILLIONS OF STRANGE SHADOWS ON YOU TEND?
MILLIONS = countless; expressing, by exaggeration, the outrageousness of the “stain” or “disgrace” that has covered his royal son; SHADOWS = the darkness cast by the Queen’s dark cloud or negative view; (“But the world is so cunning, as of a shadow they can make a substance, and of a likelihood a truth” – Oxford to Burghley, July 1581); “Which, being but the shadow of your son, becomes a sun and makes your son a shadow” – King John, 2.1.499-500; TEND = “attend” or wait upon him as those who attend upon a king; “They ‘tend the crown” – Richard II, 4.1.199; echoing the “tender” (or offer) for acceptance by which Oxford has offered to pay “ransom” for his son’s life.

Title Page of "Venus and Adonis" (1593), by which "Shakespeare" entered the stage of history by his dedication to Southampton inside the book

3 SINCE EVERY ONE HATH, EVERY ONE, ONE SHADE,
EVERY = E. Ver, Edward de Vere; ONE = Southampton, his motto One for All, All for One; EVERY ONE = father and son together; EVERY ONE, ONE SHADE = you and I suffer together under the shadow that is cast over you; Note: “one” occurs six times in this sonnet, “every” occurs three times, “none” twice.

4 AND YOU, BUT ONE, CAN EVERY SHADOW LEND.
AND YOU, BUT ONE = and you, Southampton; ““Since all alike my songs and praises be/ To one, of one, still such, and ever so” – Sonnet 105, lines 3-4; EVERY = E. Ver; “But Henry now shall wear the English crown and be true King indeed; thou but the shadow” – 3 Henry VI, 4.3.49-50

5 DESCRIBE ADONIS AND THE COUNTERFEIT
ADONIS: the young god of Venus and Adonis, i.e., Oxford is referring to his own narrative poem  that he dedicated (as “William Shakespeare”) to Southampton in 1593; Adonis (symbol of male beauty) was once Oxford’s self-portrait (based on the Queen’s attempts to seduce him as a young man in 1571-73, if not earlier); but now Henry Wriothesley is the young Adonis in relation to his mother, Elizabeth, who remains Venus, goddess of Love and Beauty; COUNTERFEIT = likeness; that which is made in imitation of him; portrait of him; “But who can leave to look on Venus’ face … These virtues rare, eche gods did yield a mate./ Save her alone, who yet on th’earth doth reign,/ Whose beauty’s string no god can well distrain” – Oxford poem, published in 1576, writing of Elizabeth, who “doth reign” on earth as Beauty

6 IS POORLY IMITATED AFTER YOU:
POORLY IMITATED = inadequately portraying you

7 ON HELEN’S CHEEK ALL ART OF BEAUTY SET,

Southampton in the Tower (with his cat)

HELEN’S CHEEK = Elizabeth, pictured as Helen of Troy, most beautiful of women; “Within this there is a red/ Exceeds the damask rose;/ Which in her cheeks is spread,/ Whence every favor grows” – Oxford poem in The Phoenix Nest, 1593, writing of Elizabeth; ALL = Southampton; OF BEAUTY SET = expressing your “beauty” or blood from Elizabeth;“What thing doth please thee most?/ To gaze on beauty still” – Oxford poem, part of which appeared in The Arte of English Poesie, 1589

8 AND YOU IN GRECIAN TIRES ARE PAINTED NEW:
GRECIAN TIRES = Greek headdresses or attire; PAINTED NEW = recreated (given new birth) in these private sonnets

9 SPEAK OF THE SPRING AND FOISON OF THE YEAR,
SPRING = time of royal hope; Ver; FOISON = abundant royal blood, kingly bounty

10 THE ONE DOTH SHADOW OF YOUR BEAUTY SHOW,
ONE = Southampton, his motto; SHADOW OF YOUR BEAUTY = the ghostlike appearance of your royal blood from the Queen

11 THE OTHER AS YOUR BOUNTY DOTH APPEAR,
YOUR BOUNTY = your royal bounty; “I thank thee, King, for thy great bounty” – Richard II, 4.1.300; “

12 AND YOU IN EVERY BLESSED SHAPE WE KNOW.
EVERY = E. Ver, Edward de Vere; BLESSED = divine, sacred, godlike, royal; “Look down, you gods, and on this couple drop a blessed crown” – The Tempest, 5.1.201-202;  “A God in love” – Sonnet 110, line 12; “Likely in time to bless a regal throne” – 3 Henry VI, 4.6.74;

Secretary Robert Cecil, who agreed to spare Southampton and release him with a royal pardon -- once James was securely on the throne and he, Cecil, retained his power; the price, for Oxford, was loss of his son's crown and loss of his identity as "Shakespeare"

13 IN ALL EXTERNAL GRACE YOU HAVE SOME PART,
ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for One; EXTERNAL GRACE = show of royalty; “The king is full of grace and fair regard … this grace of kings” – Henry V, 1.1.22, 2 Prologue. 28;

14 BUT YOU LIKE NONE, NONE YOU, FOR CONSTANT HEART.
NONE = opposite of “one” for Southampton; LIKE NONE = like no other; NONE YOU = none like you; also, you are now a nobody; CONSTANT HEART = eternal royal power, with a heart that pumps your royal blood; always noble and royal; “our friends are true and constant” – 1 Henry IV, 2.3.17; “Crowned with faith and constant loyalty … constant in spirit, not swerving with the blood” – Henry V, 2.2., 5, 133; “Therefore my verse to constancy confined,/ One thing expressing, leaves out difference” – Sonnet 105, lines 5-8; “In constant truth to bide so firm and sure” – Oxford’s sonnet in “Shakespearean” form, to Queen Elizabeth, early 1570s

As you can see, Oxford does not use a “code” or any other kind of obscure language.  The words related to royalty and kingship are drawn from his own plays of English royal history, plays issued under the “Shakespeare” name; seeing them clearly in these lines is a matter of perception; and once you see them, you know that their presence in the Sonnets cannot be accidental.

“My Grief Lies Onward … From Where Thou Art … Up-Locked … Imprisoned” – Sonnets 51, 52, 53 – The Living Record, Chapter 47

I include Shakespeare’s Sonnets 50-51-52 all at once because of their obvious relationship to each other, like successive chapters of a novel — as set forth in my edition of the sonnets THE MONUMENT and dramatized in the 90-minute solo show SHAKE-SPEARE’S TREASON.

THE PRISON YEARS
OXFORD VISITS SOUTHAMPTON IN PRISON
DAY TWENTY-FOUR IN THE TOWER

141-tower-of-london

Southampton was lodged in the White Tower (1601-1603)

Sonnet 50
My Grief Lies Onward
3 March 1601

Oxford rides away from the Tower of London and back to his home in Hackney, knowing he will grieve over Southampton’s execution or, even if he lives, over his loss of the throne.  His joy lies behind him, in past times, and literally in the prison.  In this sonnet Oxford describes his five-mile journey on horseback from the Tower and from a crucial visit with Southampton, to whom he would have explained the “league” or agreement to spare him from execution, requiring a forfeiture of any claim as King Henry IX.

How heavy do I journey on the way
When what I seek (my weary travel’s end)
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
“Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend.”

The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods duly on to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider loved not speed being made from thee:

The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;

For that same groan doth put this in my mind:
My grief lies onward and my joy behind.

Heavy … Woe … Bloody … Groan … Groan … Grief – Anticipating the death of Southampton, his royal son, by bloody execution.  (Meanwhile the young earl is “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” – Sonnet 107)

OXFORD RETURNS FROM THE PRISON
DAY TWENTY-FIVE IN THE TOWER

illus-323favoritetower

Oxford, as Lord Great Chamberlain, would have had access to Southampton in the Tower

Sonnet 51
From Where Thou Art
4 March 1601

Oxford again describes his return home, to King’s Place in Hackney, after visiting with Southampton in the Tower – undoubtedly to discuss details of the bargain he has been making for him, involving the “excuse” for his “offence” being argued on his behalf.

Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed:
From where thou art, why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.

O what excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In winged speed no motion shall I know;

Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
Therefore desire (of perfect’st love being made)
Shall neigh no dull flesh in his fiery race,
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade:

Since from thee going he went willful slow,
Towards thee I’ll run, and give him leave to go.

Offence … Excuse … Excuse – legal terms echoing Oxford’s attempts behind the scenes to act as Southampton’s legal counsel

TRIAL OF OTHER CONSPIRATORS
DAY TWENTY-SIX IN THE TOWER

Cecil,Robert(1ESalisbury)01

Robert Cecil would have wanted Oxford to visit Southampton, to persuade him to give up any royal claim in return for the promise of freedom once James of Scotland became King of England

Sonnet 52
“Up-Locked … Imprisoned”
5 March 1601

Oxford recalls his visit to Southampton in the Tower.

An Elizabethan Chronicle, March 5, 1601“Today Sir Christopher Blount, Sir Charles Danvers, Sir John Davis, Sir Gelly Merrick and Henry Cuffe were arraigned at Westminster for high treason before the commissioners … They pleaded not guilty to the indictment as a whole, and a substantial jury was impanelled which consisted of aldermen of London and other gentlemen of good credit.  They confessed indeed that it was their design to come to the Queen with so strong a force that they might not be resisted, and to require of her divers conditions and alterations of government; nevertheless they intended no personal harm to the Queen herself … When all the evidence was done, the jury went out to agree upon their verdict, which after half an hour’s time and more they brought in and found every man of the five prisoners severally guilty of high treason.”

The “up-locked” treasure is his son’s royal blood, imprisoned.

So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
The which he will not every hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure;

Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
Since seldom coming in the long year set,
Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
Or captain Jewels in the carcanet.

So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special blest
By new unfolding his imprisoned pride.

Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope,
Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.

“Thus did I keep my person fresh and new,
My presence, like a robe pontifical,
Ne’er seen but wondered at, and so my state,
Seldom, but sumptuous, show’d like a feast,
And wan by rareness such solemnity
– The King in 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-59

“Shake-Speare’s Treason” at Shakespeare Authorship Conference in Houston

We look forward to presenting the one-man show SHAKE-SPEARE’S TREASON during the Joint Conference of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society to be held November 5-8 in Houston, Texas. The 90-minute solo show is performed by Hank Whittemore, co-writer with Ted Story, who directed it.

Picture 17.jpg - Cover from Lori

“Riveting, inspiring, entertaining … amazing and thought-provoking … The words of the Sonnets finally make sense and the story is more personal and exciting than I ever imagined!”

– Students of Flathead Valley Community College, Montana, in a letter following Hank’s performance in March 2008.  (We look forward to returning for two more performances in March 2010!)

“A ripping tale of murder, treason, hangings, bastardy, love, betrayal and danger … and one of those Big Thoughts that, if you embrace it, seems to clear up a lot of mystery.”

– Bill Varble, Medford Mail Tribune, Oregon

We also look forward to experiencing two different solo performances by Keir Cutler of MontrealTeaching Shakespeare and Is Shakespeare Dead?

keir cutler

"Shakespeare" and Keir Cutler

Teaching Shakespeare is a parody of a college Shakespeare class, and a portrait of a frustrated actor turned frustrated professor struggling to keep his teaching position, despite terrible student evaluations.

twain3Is Shakespeare Dead? is a monologue adaptation of Mark Twain’s hilarious 1909 debunking of the myth that William Shakespeare wrote the works of Shakespeare. Listing the handful of established facts of Shakespeare’s life, Twain ridicules the fantasy that an uneducated youth could have wandered into London and, with virtually none of the necessary skills, became the greatest author in English literature.

Current details of the conference are posted at the Shakespeare Oxford Society blog hosted by Linda Theil.


“Locked Up” – Southampton in the Tower – “The Living Record” – Chapter 45

Here is my entry for Sonnet 48 in THE MONUMENT:

DAY TWENTY-TWO IN THE TOWER
“Locked Up”
1 March 1601

THE MONUMENT by Hank Whittemore

THE MONUMENT by Hank Whittemore

While working to save his son’s life, Oxford is concerned that other conspirators inside the prison are urging his royal son (Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton) to further revolt before the Crown has a chance to execute him.

Sonnet 48

How careful was I, when I took my way,
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
That to my use it might unused stay
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust?
But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
Most worthy comfort, now my greatest grief,
Thou best of dearest, and mine only care,
Art left the prey of every vulgar thief.
Thee have I not locked up in any chest,
Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art
Within the gentle closure of my breast,
From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;
And even thence thou wilt be stol’n, I fear;
For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.

1 HOW CAREFUL WAS I WHEN I TOOK MY WAY,

CAREFUL = echoed by “care” in line 7; TOOK MY WAY = set out on the journey of my life; also, set out to write these sonnets to record my son’s royal progress in relation to the dwindling time of Elizabeth’s life; MY WAY =  “Were I a man, a duke, and next of blood, I would remove these tedious stumbling-blocks and smooth my way upon their headless necks” – 2 Henry VI, 1.2.63-65; “Torment myself to catch the English crown: And from that torment I will free myself, or hew my way out with a bloody axe” – 3 Henry VI, 3.2.179-181; “I am amazed, methinks, and lose my way among the thorns and dangers of this world” – King John, 4.3.140-141

2 EACH TRIFLE UNDER TRUEST BARS TO THRUST,

EACH TRIFLE = each piece of writing (precious jewels or rings or tokens of bond: “And sweetest, fairest, as I my poor self did exchange for you to your so infinite loss; so in our trifles I still win of you” – Cymbeline, 1.2.49-52); TRUEST = Oxford’s motto  (Nothing Truer than Truth); TRUEST BARS = (“most reliable locks or barricades” – Duncan-Jones); also, the image of the BARS or locks and barricades of the Tower, where Southampton is a prisoner; “Through a secret grate of iron bars in yonder Tower” – 1 Henry VI, 1.4.10-11; TO THRUST = the image of Oxford hiding his written work; also in these lines, Oxford may be referring to the care he took to keep his royal son hidden from view, protected from plots and so on.

3 THAT TO MY USE IT MIGHT UN-USED STAY

STAY = remain under lock and key; be kept away from; “where thou dost stay” – Sonnet 44, line 4; also suggesting the hope for a “stay of execution”; “Retreat is made and execution stay’d” – 2 Henry IV, 4.3.72

4 FROM HANDS OF FALSEHOOD, IN SURE WARDS OF TRUST?

FROM HANDS OF FALSEHOOD = away from those who are “untrue” or who do not wish the truth ever to be written; from thieves or other conspirators; also the hands or hand of Elizabeth, who is also Time; “And by their hands this grace of kings must die, if hell and treason hold their promises” – Henry V, 2.0.Chorus.28-29; “With time’s injurious hand crushed and o’erworn” – Sonnet 63, line 2; “When I have seen by time’s fell hand defaced” – Sonnet 64, line 1; “Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?” – Sonnet 65, line 11; “And almost thence my nature is subdued,/ To what it works in, like the Dyer’s hand” – Sonnet 111, lines 6-7; “For since each hand hath put on Nature’s power” – Sonnet 127, line 5; “Was sleeping by a Virgin hand disarmed” – Sonnet 154, line 8, the latter in reference to Elizabeth, the so-called Virgin Queen, refusing to acknowledge her newborn son in 1574; FALSEHOOD = “The usual adverbs in legal records alongside the descriptions of particular treasons are ‘falsely’ and ‘traitorously’” – Bellamy, Tudor Law of Treason, p. 33; hands of falsehood = hands of traitors; WARDS = “Meaning ‘guards’ and used to describe places that can be locked for safekeeping; the range of its applications includes chests and prison cells” – Booth; “I am come to survey the Tower this day … where be these warders … Open the gates” – 1 Henry VI, 1.3.1-3; “prison … in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons” – Hamlet, 2.2.260,262-263; prison guards; the “wards” of a lock; OF TRUST = of those who can be trusted

5 BUT THOU, TO WHOM MY JEWELS TRIFLES ARE,

BUT THOU = but you; TO WHOM = compared to whom; MY JEWELS = my writings, i.e., these private verses, which all involve Southampton, a prince who was “the world’s fresh ornament” in Sonnet 1 or the “jewel” whose life is being recorded here; “As for my sons, say I account of them as jewels” – Titus Andronicus, 3.1.198-199; “Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,/ Which like a jewel hung in ghastly night” – Sonnet 27, lines 10-11; “As on the finger of a throned Queen,/ The basest Jewel will be well esteemed” – Sonnet 96, lines 5-6

6 MOST WORTHY COMFORT, NOW MY GREATEST GRIEF,

MOST WORTHY = most royal or kingly; “a king of so much worth” – 1 Henry VI, 1.1. 7; “Most worthy brother England” – the King of France addressing Henry V of England, Henry V, 5.2.10; “That were I crown’d the most imperial monarch, thereof most worthy” – The Winter’s Tale, 4.4.374-375; “Most worthy prince” – Cymbeline, 5.5.359; COMFORT = “Warwick, my son, the comfort of my age” – 2 Henry VI, 1.1.189; “O my good lord, that comfort comes too late; ‘tis like a pardon after execution” – Henry VIII, 4.2.120-121; “As a decrepit father takes delight/ To see his active child do deeds of youth,/ So I, made lame by Fortune’s dearest spite,/ Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth” – Sonnet 37, lines 1-4; NOW MY GREATEST GRIEF = now you are the cause of the greatest grief in my life; “To me and to the state of my great grief let kings assemble; for my grief’s so great” – King John, 2.2.70-71; “Let every word weigh heavy of her worth that he does weigh too light: my greatest grief, though little do he feel it, set down sharply” – All’s Well That Ends Well, 3.4.31-33

This Sessions, to our great grief we pronounce     The Winter’s Tale, 3.2.
(The king opens the Sessions or Treason Trial)

7 THOU BEST OF DEAREST, AND MINE ONLY CARE,

THOU BEST OF DEAREST = you, most royal of most royal, dear son; “My dear dear lord … dear my liege” – Richard II, 1.1.176, 184); BEST = “Richard hath best deserv’d of all my sons” – 3 Henry VI, 1.1.18; DEAREST = “Thou would’st have left thy dearest heart-blood there, rather than made that savage duke thine heir, and disinherited thine only son” – 3 Henry VI, 1.1.229-231; “And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends” – Richard III, 1.3.224

Too familiar is my dear son with such sour company

Romeo and Juliet, 3.3.7-8

ONLY = the “one” of Southampton’s motto; supreme; he is the “onlie begetter” of the 1609 dedication of the Sonnets; he was the “only herald to the gaudy spring” of Sonnet 1

MINE ONLY = “Ah, no, no, no, it is mine only son!” – 3 Henry VI, 2.5.83; “His name is Lucentio and he is mine only son” – The Taming of the Shrew, 5.1.77-78

O me, O me!  My child, my only life

Romeo and Juliet, 4.5.19

MINE ONLY CARE = Southampton, my only concern; CARE = Bolinbroke: “Part of your cares you give me with your crown”; King Richard: “Your cares set up do not puck my cares down.  My care is loss of care, by old care done; your care is gain of care, by new care won.  The cares I give, I have, though given away, they ‘tend the crown, yet still with me they stay” – Richard II, 4.1.194-199

8 ART LEFT THE PREY OF EVERY VULGAR THIEF.

Are left in the Tower for every common thief to harm or steal; EVERY VULGAR THIEF = a passing glance at himself as E. Ver, Edward de Vere, who tries to steal looks at his son; every common or base criminal in the Tower with you, urging you to further rebellion

Southampton in the Tower

Southampton in the Tower

9 THEE I HAVE NOT LOCKED UP IN ANY CHEST,

LOCKED UP = It is not I who have locked you up in the Tower or anywhere else; “Lock up my doors” – The Merchant of Venice, 2.5.29; “You’re my prisoner, but your gaoler shall deliver the keys that lock up your restraint” – Cymbeline, 1.2.3-5

For treason is but trusted like the fox,
Who, never so tame, so cherished and locked up 1 Henry IV, 5.2.9-10

So am I as the rich whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure     Sonnet 52, lines 1-2

CHEST = coffer for valuables or jewels; IN ANY CHEST = in any prison; “A jewel in a ten-times-barr’d-up chest is a bold spirit in a loyal breast” – Richard II, 1.1.180-181; (to Southampton in the Sonnets as “ornament” or “jewel” or royal prince who is imprisoned and whose truth is hidden: “So is the time that keeps you as my chest” – Sonnet 52, line 9; “Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?” – Sonnet 65, line 10); “I thought myself to commit an unpardonable error to have murdered the same in waste-bottoms of my chests” – Oxford’s Prefatory Letter to Cardanus’ Comfort, 1573

10 SAVE WHERE THOU ART NOT, THOUGH I FEEL THOU ART

Except where you are not, i.e., except outside the high fortress walls, where you are free (in my mind and heart, within my breast)

11 WITHIN THE GENTLE CLOSURE OF MY BREAST,

GENTLE = suited for royalty; tender; CLOSURE = enclosure; the only place I keep you; i.e., the more loving “closure” of his breast or heart, as opposed to the fortress walls of the Tower prison where Southampton is confined:

O Pomfret, Pomfret!  O thou bloody prison,
Fatal and ominous to noble peers!
Within the guilty closure of thy walls
Richard the Second here was hack’d to death!    Richard III, 3.3.9-12

To Elizabeth about their son, contrasting the gentleness of his “jail” with the harshness or rigor of her Tower: “Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,/ But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;/ Who ere keeps me, let my heart be his guard,/ Thou canst not then use rigor in my jail” – Sonnet 133, lines 9-12

Queen Elizabeth I never lifted a finger to help Southampton, who remained in the Tower until she died and King James succeeded her

Queen Elizabeth I never lifted a finger to help Southampton, who remained in the Tower until she died and King James succeeded her

12 FROM WHENCE AT PLEASURE THOU MAYST COME AND PART.

AT PLEASURE = at Your Majesty’s pleasure; at his royal son’s command; “She flatly said whether it were mine or hers she would bestow it at her pleasure” – Oxford to Robert Cecil, October 20, 1595, in reference to the Queen; THOU MAYST COME AND PART = you may come and go

13 AND EVEN THENCE THOU WILT BE STOL’N, I FEAR,

Even then I fear you will be stolen from me; THOU WILT BE STOL’N, I FEAR = “Thou hast stol’n that which after some few hours were thine without offence” – the king to his royal son, referring to the crown, in 1 Henry IV, 4.5.101-102; “And buds of marjoram had stol’n thy hair” – Sonnet 99, line 7, playing on “heir”

14  FOR TRUTH PROVES THIEVISH FOR A PRIZE SO DEAR.

TRUTH = Oxford, Nothing Truer than Truth; “your true rights” – Sonnet 17, line 11; FOR TRUTH PROVES THIEVISH FOR A PRIZE SO DEAR = because the truth, that you are a prince, proves a prize for those “thieves” who want to rebel against the Crown and put you on the throne; for even I, Oxford, might become a thief to steal you, my dear son, who are so royal a prize; (“The prey entices the thief” – Tilley, P570, adapted in Venus and Adonis: “Rich preys make true men thieves” – line 724); Southampton, having a claim to the throne, is indeed “a prize so dear” or so royal, with “dear” as in “my dear royal son”; “If my dear love were but the child of state,/ It might for fortune’s bastard be un-fathered” – Sonnet 124, lines 1-2

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