Southampton to the Council, written from the Tower: “…my harte was free from any premeditate treason against my souerayne”

[Note: See Bill Boyle’s blog post on the Southampton Tower Poem at his Shakespeare Adventure site]

Below is one of the two letters that Henry Wriothesley the third Earl of Southampton wrote to the Privy Council soon after his trial on 19 February 1601, while in the Tower of London awaiting execution.

Inside Traitors Gate at the Tower of London

My view is that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford revealed his role behind the scenes in Sonnet 35, writing to Southampton: “Thy adverse party is thy Advocate” or “I was your ‘adverse party’ at the trial, being forced to vote with all the other peers on the tribunal to condemn you to death; but I am also your Advocate, your legal defender, trying to save you.”  [See Sonnet 35 below]

Oxford’s help behind the scenes appears to have included advising Southampton on what to write to the Council and Robert Cecil.  Possibly the individual sonnets were one means by which he conveyed information to him in the Tower.  And quite possibly he helped him with the recently discovered poem entitled The Earle of Southampton prisoner, and condemned. to Queen Elizabeth. 

In her article on Wriothesley’s poem in the 2011 English Literary Renaissance, Lara M. Crowley recalls that while awaiting execution Southampton wrote at least two letters to the Council as well as a separate confession and a letter to Robert Cecil.  His writings from this period “reflect a desperate and (quite rightly) frightened penitent.  Surely these anxious outpourings were fueled by the executions of Essex and fellow conspirators and by the persistent whispers surrounding Southampton’s impending doom.”  And she notes the “cumulative connections” between the earl’s prison writings and his poem to the Queen.

HENRY EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON TO THE COUNCIL:

“My Lordes,

“I beseech your Lordships bee pleased to receaue the petition of a poore condemned man, who doth, with a lowly and penitent hart, confess his faults and acknoledge his offences to her Maiestie.  Remember, I pray your Lordships, that the longest lyuer amongest men hath but a short time of continewance, and that there is none so iust vppon earth but hath a greater account to make to our creator for his sinnes then any offender haue in this world.  Beleeue that God is better pleased with those that are the instrumentes of mercy then with such as are the persuaders of severe iustice, and forgett not that hee hath promised mercy to the mercifull.” 

Another view inside Traitors Gate

Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss – Sonnet 34

The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief

To him that bears the strong offence’s cross – Sonnet 34

Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are – Sonnet 35

“What my fawte [fault] hath been your Lordships know to the vttermost, wherein, howsoeuer I have offended in the letter of the law, your Lordships I thinke cannot but find, by the proceedings att my triall, that my harte was free from any premeditate treason against my souerayne…”

[We pause here to consider that Southampton, writing to the Council, refers to the Queen as “my sovereign.”  Oxford uses the phrase “my sovereign” in the plays of Shakespeare thirty-four times, in each case when a character is speaking to or about a monarch.  The phrase occurs in the plays of English history 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Henry V, 1 Henry VI, 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI, Henry VIII, Richard II and Richard III.  It also occurs in The Winter’s Tale as “my sovereign mistress.”

[Oxford-Shakespeare uses it elsewhere just once, in Sonnet 57:  “I (my sovereign) watch the clock for you.”

Heads of Traitors on Pikes at London Bridge by the Tower

[With Southampton referring to the Queen as “my sovereign” and Oxford using that phrase consistently in the history plays in reference to a King, without ever using it within any other context, is there any possibility that he or any other poet could call the Earl of Southampton “my sovereign” within a romantic context?  I think not!  But if Oxford is writing this sonnet to Southampton, he would call him “my sovereign” only if he really believes him to be his prince.]

“…though my reason was corrupted by affection to my friend [Essex] (whom I thought honest) and I by that caried headlonge to my mine, without power to preuent it, who otherwise could neuer haue been induced for any cawse of mine owne to haue hazarded her Maiesties displeasure but in a trifle : yet can I not dispayre of her fauor, nether will it enter into my thought that shee who hath been euer so renowned for her uertues, and especially for clemency, will not extend it to mee, that doe with so humble and greeued [grieved] a spirit prostrate my self att her pardoninge one whose harte is without spott, though his cursed destiny hath made his actes to bee condemned, and whose life, if it please her to graunte it, shallbe eternally redy to bee royall feete and craue her pardon. O lett her neuer sufer to bee spiled the bloud of him that desiers to live but to doe her sendee [service?] , nor loose the glory shee shall gaine in the world bysacrifised to accomplish her least comandement.”

The Gate

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done – Sonnet 35

To you it doth belong/ Your self to pardon of self-doing crime – Sonnet 58

“My lords, there are diuers amongest you to whom I owe particular obligation for your fauors past, and to all I haue euer performed that respect which was fitt, which makes me bould in this manner to importune you, and lett not my faultes now make me seem more vnworthy then I haue been, but rather lett the misery of my distressed estate moue you to bee a mean to her Maiestie, to turne away her heauy indignation from mee. O lett not her anger continew towardes an humble and sorrowfull man, for that alone hath more power to dead my spirites [spirits] then any iron hath to kill my flesh.

The Tower & Gate from the Thames

“My sowle is heauy and trobled for my offences, and I shall soon grow to detest my self if her Maiestie refuse to haue compassion of mee.  The law hath hetherto had his proceedinge, wherby her Justice and my shame is sufficiently published; now is the time that mercy is to be shewed.  O pray her then, I beseech your lordships, in my behalf to stay her hand, and stopp the rigorus course of the law, and remember, as I know shee will neuer forgett, that it is more honor to a prince to pardon one penitent offender, then with severity to punish mayny.”

Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief – Sonnet 34

Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,

But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;

Whoe’er keeps me, let my heart be his guard,

Thou canst not then use rigor in my jail — Oxford to the Queen in Sonnet 133

“To conclude, I doe humbly entreate your Lordships to sound mercy in her eares, that therby her harte, which I know is apt to receaue any impression of good, may be moued to pity mee, that I may Hue to loose my life (as I have been euer willing and forward to venture it) in her service, as yourlordships herein shall effect a worke of charity, which is pleasinge to God; preserue an honest-harted man (howsoeuer now his fautes haue made him seem otherwise) to his contry; winn honor to yourselues, by fauoringe the distressed; and saue the bloud of one who will live and dy her Maiesties faythfull and loyall subiect.

“Thus, recommendinge my self and my sute to your Lordships’ honorable considerations; beseechinge God to moue you to deale effectually for mee, and to inspire her Maiesties royall harte with the spirite of mercy and compassion towardes mee, I end, remayninge, Your Lordships most humbly, of late Southampton, but now of all men most vnhappy,

“H. WRIOTHESLEY.”

Sonnet 35

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:

Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,

Clouds and eclipses stain both Moon and Sunne,

And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.

All men make faults, and even I in this,

Authorizing thy trespass with compare,

My self corrupting salving thy amiss,

Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:

For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,

Thy adverse party is thy Advocate,

And ‘gainst my self a lawful plea commence.

Such civil war is in my love and hate,

That I an accessory needs must be

To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

From THE MONUMENT:

THY ADVERSE PARTY IS THY ADVOCATE

THY ADVERSE PARTY = Oxford, who will sit on the tribunal at the trial and be forced to render a guilty verdict against his son; “He speaks against me on the adverse side” – Measure for Measure, 4.6.6; PARTY = side in a legal case; -plaintiff or defendant; “But dare maintain the party of the truth” – 1 Henry VI, 2.4.32; “To fight on Edward’s party for the crown” – Richard III, 1.3.138 (on his side); “My prayers on the adverse party fight” – Richard III, 4.4.191; “Thy son is banished upon good advice, whereto thy tongue a party-verdict gave: why at our justice seem’st thou then to lour?” – Richard II, 1.3.233-235 (part of the verdict); “Upon the right and party of her son” – King John, 1.1.34 (on his behalf); to Elizabeth: “And play the mother’s part” – Sonnet 143, line 12

My prayers on the adverse party fight – Richard III, 4.4.191

Besides, the King’s name is a tower of strength,

Which they upon the adverse faction want – Richard III, 5.3.12-13

“I have hitherto passed the pikes of so many adversaries” -Oxford to Robert Cecil,Oct 7, 1601

 “I am very glad if it so prove, for I have need of so many good friends as I can get, and if I could I would seek all the adversaries I have in this cause to make them my friends” – Oxford to Robert Cecil, December 4, 1601

THY ADVOCATE = your defender.  (“Your legal opponent is also your legal defender” – Duncan-Jones); Oxford is telling his son that, at the trial, he will have no choice but to render a vote of guilty; he is therefore an adverse party, but in his heart and behind the scenes he is acting as his son’s advocate; ADVOCATE = “One whose profession it is to plead the cause of any one in a court of justice; a counsellor or counsel … One who pleads, intercedes, or speaks for, or in behalf of, another; a pleader, intercessor, defender … Specially, applied to Christ as the Intercessor for sinners” – OED, the latter adding to suggestions in the Sonnets that Oxford is acting as a Christ figure, sacrificing himself in order to redeem the sins of Southampton

You’re my prisoner, but

Your gaoler shall deliver the keys

That lock up your restraint.  For you, Posthumous,

So soon as I can win th’offended king,

I will be known your advocate – Cymbeline, 1.2.3-7

If she dares trust me with her little babe,

I’ll show’t the King, and undertake to be

Her advocate to th’ loud’st – Winter’s Tale, 2.237-39

I never did incense his Majesty

Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been

An earnest advocate to plead for him  – Richard III, 1.3.85-87

“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” – Biblical

King’s Advocate: “The principal law-officer of the Crown inScotland, answering to the Attorney-General in England” – OED


Post No. 2 on the Southampton Tower Poem and How It Sheds Light on the Double Image of the Sonnets

The discovery that the Earl of Southampton wrote a “verse letter” to Queen Elizabeth from the Tower, after being convicted of treason on 19 February 1601 and sentenced to death, sheds light on various aspects of the Monument theory of Shakespeare’s sonnets — perhaps the most important aspect being a view of the Sonnets as a genuine historical document in the same way that the Southampton Tower Poem is not only a literary work, but, simultaneously, part of the contemporary biographical record.

A Famous Double-Image: every line drawn in service of both the Old Hag and the Young Woman

Within this view is the idea that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford created the Sonnets to contain a DOUBLE IMAGE: on the one hand, the individual sonnets are romantic love poems; on the other hand, Oxford was recording high-stakes events (for posterity) by means of addressing Southampton (the fair youth) and Elizabeth (the dark lady) in a series of thinly disguised “verse-letters” such as the one Southampton wrote to the Queen.  Equally important is that both Oxford and Southampton were writing within the same real-life context of time and circumstance: the plight of the younger earl in the Tower, where he suffered the “disgrace” and “shame” of a traitor who initially faced execution and then lifelong imprisonment as a dead man in the eyes of the law.

[The Shakespeare verses arranged to correspond with the 1601-1603 context are the Fair Youth Sonnets 27-126 and the Dark Lady Sonnets 127-152]

A Woman's Face - or Flowers & Butterfly

This method of writing on two levels at once is similar to the art of double-image drawing.  Take, for example, the familiar picture that depicts both an Old Hag and a Young Woman.  Whether we see one or the other image depends on our prior assumptions — basically, what we’ve been told about the picture before viewing it.  If we’ve been told it’s a picture of the Old Hag, that is the image we’ll see; and we’ll go right on seeing her forever, unless our perspective changes.  Meanwhile, of course, the Young Woman is also right there in front of us.

The picture itself never changes; that always stays the same.  What can change, however, is the perspective of an individual viewer.  When we look at the drawing from a different angle, based on new information, the Old Hag suddenly disappears and the Young Woman replaces her — as if by magic.

The trick of double-image drawing is that the artist uses every line in service of both images at once; and Oxford reveals in Sonnet 76 that he’s doing the same thing, except that instead of every line he’s using “every word” to create his double image:

Why write I still all one, ever the same,

And keep invention in a noted weed,   

That every word doth almost tell my name…

A Sax Player & a Woman's Face

A major difference between the Southampton Tower Poem and the Shakespeare sonnets is that we already know the real-life “context” of the former.  We know a lot about who, where, what, when and even how and why.  In the case of the Sonnets, however, we were never given the real-life context; in fact, scholars have been saddled with the wrong author!   Therefore the very same words (related to the law, crime, prison, etc.) in the lines of the Sonnets have been overlooked or dismissed as metaphorical and no more.

Some significant words in the Southampton poem that are also used in the Sonnets include: Blood, Buried, Cancel, Condemned, Crimes, Dead, Die, Faults, Favor, Grave, Grief, Ill, Liberty, Loss, Mercy, Offenses, Pardon, Power, Princes, Prison, Sorrow, Stain, Tears, Tombs. In Southampton’s poem these words fit snugly into the real-life context of his death sentence and, therefore, their meaning is literal and even obvious to us.  But the very same words in the Sonnets, viewed within the context of romantic love poems, tend to be ignored:

Sonnet 63: When hours have drained his blood

Sonnet 31: Thou art the grave where buried love doth live

Sonnet 30: And weep afresh love’s long-since cancelled woe

Sonnet 99: The Lily I condemned for thy hand

Sonnet 120: To weigh how once I suffered in your crime

Sonnet 68: Before the golden tresses of the dead

Sonnet 68: When beauty lived and died as flowers do now

Sonnet 35: All men make faults

Queen Elizabeth suffering her Final Torments

Sonnet 28: And night doth nightly make grief’s length seem stronger

Sonnet 34: And they are rich, and ransom all ill deeds

Sonnet 58: The imprisoned absence of your liberty

Sonnet 34: Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss

Sonnet 145: Straight in her heart did mercy come

Sonnet 34: The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief/ to him that bears the strong offense’s cross.

Sonnet 58: To you it doth belong/ yourself to pardon of self-doing crime

Sonnet 94: They that have power to hurt, and will do none

Sonnet 133: Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward/ but then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail

Sonnet 28: But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer

Sonnet 33: Clouds and eclipses stain both Moon and Sunne

Sonnet 34: Ah, but those tears are pearl which thy love sheeds

Sonnet 83: When others would give life and bring a tomb

To repeat my view as expressed in The Monument: Oxford’s writing of the Sonnets uses a double image, which, on a level that usually goes uncrecognized, is equivalent to Southampton’s use of poetry for political pleading.

Try this one!

The Sonnets also contain a “double image” in terms of authorship.  On the one hand, Oxford himself is the speaker; on the other hand, readers holding the traditional or orthodox viewpoint are under the impression that “Shakespeare” is the speaker.  Oxford reveals this double-image of authorship, speaking of both himself and his pen name in Sonnet 83:

There lives more life in one of your fair eyes

Than both your poets can in praise devise.

(In the traditional view, the two poets must be Shakespeare and some “rival” such as Raleigh or Chapman or Essex.  I must report that even most Oxfordians remain trapped within this context of the double-image of authorship; that is, they view the speaker as Oxford in relation to a real-life “rival poet” rather than to his pen name “Shakespeare.”  The actual double-image of authorship, with Oxford-“Shakespeare” as the two poets, is still difficult for many Oxfordians to see.  In my opinion, of course!)

I’ll be following up with more posts covering other aspects of this remarkable discovery, including the overwhelming evidence that the attribution to Southampton is correct.  As stated in the first blog post on the Southampton Tower Poem, it was found by Lara Crowley, assistant professor of English at Texas Tech University, and reported (with text of the poem) in the Winter 2011 edition of English Literary Renaissance.  Professor Crowley’s article includes her transcription of the text discovered in the miscellany Manuscript Stowe 962 in the British Library.  The poem is not in Southampton’s handwriting, but apparently it was copied from the original or as he dictated it in his Tower prison room.

New Support for the Monument Theory of the Sonnets: Discovery of a Poem Begging Queen Elizabeth for Mercy: by the Earl of Southampton, while in the Tower during February-March 1601, when Facing Execution

New support for the Monument theory of the Sonnets has come from the discovery in the British Library of a 74-line poem by Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, written in the Tower of London while he awaited execution for his role in the Essex rising of 8 February 1601.   In this unique scribal copy of a “verse letter,” Southampton pleads with Queen Elizabeth for mercy.

My thanks to the scholar Ricardo Mena for passing on this discovery, reported by Lara Crowley, Assistant Professor of English at Texas Tech University, in the winter 2011 edition of English Literary Renaissance.  The poem, entitled “The Earle of Southampton prisoner, and condemned. To Queen Elizabeth,” was found in BL Manuscript Stowe 962, which contains 254 miscellaneous folios prepared mainly in the 1620’s and 1630’s.

The “high level of accuracy” of attributions in the manuscript “enhances the likelihood” that the  ascription to Southampton “proves accurate as well,” Professor Crowley writes, adding that this “heartfelt” plea to Elizabeth points to a familiarity with “specific, intimate details” of the earl’s career and health and even writing style.  “Multiple references” identify Southampton as appealing to the Queen for a pardon.

The Monument theory holds that Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford arranged the Sonnets to record that he worked behind the scenes to save Southampton’s life and gain his freedom with a royal pardon.  The theory claims that part of the price Oxford paid, forced upon him by Secretary Robert Cecil, was the permanent destruction of his identity as author of the “Shakespeare” works (“My name be buried where my body is” – Sonnet 72).

Professor Crowley offers some speculations which, when viewing Oxford-Shakespeare as helping Southampton, are striking:

“It seems possible, even likely, that someone or something else influenced Elizabeth’s decision, making one wonder if, at his time of greatest need, Southampton – a ‘dere lover and cherisher’ of poets * – composed what could be his lone surviving poem … One possibility is that the poem was composed in 1601 to mollify the Queen, but by a more practiced poet who composed the verses for Southampton to offer Elizabeth as his own … Yet the notion that Shakespeare, or any other poet, provided Southampton with the poem proves improbable.  Access to the earl early in his imprisonment was restricted …”

[*Thomas Nashe, in his dedication of The Unfortunate Traveler, 1594, to Southampton]

The Monument theory is supported in a number of other ways; for one, we may now claim that all three earls – Oxford, Essex and Southampton – wrote verse in relation to this same situation of English political history:

Oxford: If he was the author of the Sonnets, then at the very least he wrote Sonnet 107 celebrating Southampton’s liberation by King James in April 1603, after the death of the Queen as “the mortal Moon” a few weeks earlier.

Essex: During his final four days in the Tower before he was executed on 25 February 1601, he wrote a 384-line poem to Elizabeth entitled The Passion of a Discontented Mind.

Southampton: Here we have Southampton, the fair youth of the Sonnets, also in the Tower with expectation of execution, writing a 74-line poem to the Queen in February or March 1601, pleading for her mercy and a pardon.

A remarkable aspect of Southampton’s verse epistle is how close he comes to a theme Oxford expressed in a letter to Cecil on 7 May 1603, alluding to a monarch’s ability to offer Christ-like mercy and forgiveness: “Nothing adorns a king more than justice, nor in anything doth a king more resemble God than in justice, which is the head of all virtue, and he that is endued therewith hath all the rest.”

More than two years earlier, Southampton wrote in his poem to Elizabeth from the Tower:

If faults were not, how could great Princes then

Approach so near God, in pardoning men?

Wisdom and valor, common men have known,

But only mercy is the Prince’s own.

Mercy’s an antidote to justice…

Southampton had been “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom,” as Oxford writes in Sonnet 107 of the Fair Youth Series; and in Sonnet 145 of the Dark Lady Series, as I see it, he describes Elizabeth’s decision to spare Southampton this way:

Straight in her heart did mercy come,

Chiding that tongue that ever sweet

Was used in giving gentle doom…

The phrase “Great Princes” used by Southampton also appears in Sonnet 25: “Great Princes’ favorites their fair leaves spread…”

At one point Southampton writes that “prisons are living men’s tombs” and that “there I am buried quick” – recalling Sonnet 31, which in the Monument theory corresponds to 12 February 1601:  “Thou art the grave where buried love doth live…”

He refers to himself as “dead in law,” reflecting his status in the Tower as “the late earl,” who has become legally dead.

He mentions his “legs’ strength decayed,” reflecting the fact that, while in the Tower at this early stage, he was suffering from a “quartern ague” that caused a dangerous “swelling in his legs and other parts,” as the Council reported to Sir John Peyton, Lieutenant of the Tower.

At one point near the end of the poem, he reveals his terror and dwindling hope for mercy:

Horror and fear, like cold in ice, dwell here;

And hope (like lightning) gone ere it appear…

Southampton uses many words in his poem that also appear in the Sonnets, among them the following forty-seven words:  Blood, Buried, Cancel, Cheeks, Chest, Condemned, Countenance, Crimes, Dear, Dead, Die, Eyes, Faults, Favor, Furrows, Grace, Grave, Grief, Groans, Ill, Lamed, Liberty, Light, Loss, Mercy, Offend, Offenses, Pardon, Parts, Power, Princes, Prison, Prisoners, Proceed, Rain, Religious, Sacred, Sorrow, Stain, Stone, Tears, Tombs, True, Vial, Worm, Worthy, Wrinkles.

A number of these words are related literally to Southampton’s situation: Condemned, Crimes, Faults, Liberty, Mercy, Offend, Offenses, Pardon, Prison, Prisoners – more evidence, in my view, that Oxford uses the same words in the Sonnets to refer to Southampton’s plight in the same circumstances.

There is much more about this discovery to be examined here, in future posts; but meanwhile, here is the text of Southampton’s poem, based on Professor Crowley’s transcription from secretary hand and put into (mostly) modern spelling/punctuation for readers of this blog:

The Earl of Southampton Prisoner, and Condemned, to Queen Elizabeth:

Not to live more at ease (Dear Prince) of thee

But with new merits, I beg liberty

To cancel old offenses; let grace so

(As oil all liquor else will overflow)

Swim above all my crimes.  In lawn, a stain

Well taken forth may be made serve again.

Perseverance in ill is all the ill.  The horses may,

That stumbled in the morn, go well all day.

If faults were not, how could great Princes then

Approach so near God, in pardoning me?

Wisdom and valor, common men have known,

But only mercy is the Prince’s own.

Mercy’s an antidote to justice, and will,

Like a true blood-stone, keep their bleeding still.

Where faults weigh down the scale, one grain of this

Will make it wise, until the beam it kiss.

Had I the leprosy of Naaman,

Your mercy hath the same effects as [the river] Jordan.

As surgeons cut and take from the sound part

That which is rotten, and beyond all art

Of healing, see (which time hath since revealed),

Limbs have been cut which might else have been healed.

While I yet breathe, and sense and motion have

(For this a prison differs from a grave),

Prisons are living men’s tombs, who there go

As one may, sith say the dead walk so.

There I am buried quick: hence one may draw

I am religious because dead in law.

One of the old Anchorites, by me may be expressed:

A vial hath more room laid in a chest:

Prisoners condemned, like fish within shells lie

Cleaving to walls, which when they’re opened, die:

So they, when taken forth, unless a pardon

(As a worm takes a bullet from a gun)

Take them from thence, and so deceive the sprights [spirits]

Of people, curious after rueful sights.

Sorrow, such ruins, as where a flood hath been

On all my parts afflicted, hath been seen:

My face which grief plowed, and mine eyes when they

Stand full like two nine-holes, where at boys play

And so their fires went out like Iron hot

And put into the forge, and then is not

And in the wrinkles of my cheeks, tears lie

Like furrows filled with rain, and no more dry:

Mine arms like hammers to an anvil go

Upon my breast: now lamed with beating so

Stand as clock-hammers, which strike once an hour

Without such intermission they want power.

I’ve left my going since my legs’ strength decayed

Like one, whose stock being spent give over trade.

And I with eating do no more ingross

Than one that plays small game after great loss

Is like to get his own: or then a pit

With shovels emptied, and hath spoons to fill it.

And so sleep visits me, when night’s half spent

As one, that means nothing but complement.

Horror and fear, like cold in ice, dwell here;

And hope (like lightning) gone ere it appear:

With less than half these miseries, a man

Might have twice shot the Straits of Magellan

Better go ten such voyages than once offend

The Majesty of a Prince, where all things end

And begin: why whose sacred prerogative

He as he list, we as we ought live.

All mankind lives to serve a few: the throne

(To which all bow) is sewed to by each one.

Life, which I now beg, wer’t to proceed

From else whoso’er, I’d first choose to bleed

But now, the cause, why life I do Implore

Is that I think you [Elizabeth] worthy to give more.

The light of your countenance, and that same

Morning of the Court favor, where at all aim,

Vouchsafe unto me, and be moved by my groans,

For my tears have already worn these stones.

[As mentioned, there’s more commentary on this to be posted here in the future.]

Part Two of Reason No. 35: The Unique “Centuries” of Sonnets by Watson (with Oxford’s help) and “Shakespeare”

(Click on for Larger View)

On the title page of Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love by Thomas Watson (1582), dedicated to Edward Earl of Oxford, the reader is informed about the architecture of the “century” of one-hundred sonnets:  “Divided into two parts: whereof, the first expresseth the Authours sufferance in Love: the latter, his long farewell to Love and all his tyrannie.”

The two parts have eighty and twenty sonnets respectively.  Part One comprises Sonnets 1 – 80 and Part Two comprises Sonnets 81 – 100:

1————————-80 81———100

When we get to Sonnet 80 at the end of the first part, we are told that the next verse, Sonnet 81, beginning the second part, is shaped “in the form of a pillar” that quite obviously makes it unique and gives it considerable importance:

Sonnet 81 of Watson's sequence, in the form of a pillar, starting Part Two (81-100); and Shakespeare's Sonnet 107 is also the eighty-first verse of his "century," starting Part Two (107-126)

“All such as are but of indifferent capacity, and have some skill in Arithmetic, by viewing this Sonnet following compiled by rule and number, into the form of a pillar, may soon judge how much art and study the Author hath bestowed in the same.”

While working on The Monument it became apparent that the one hundred and fifty-four verses of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (1609) contain the same architecture.  The first step is to remove the epilogue of the Bath sonnets, 153-154; and then separate the main body of one hundred and fifty-two sonnets by means of the two envoys, Sonnets 26 and 126.

The result is a central sequence of a hundred sonnets between two series of twenty-six:

1—–26 27—————————-126 127—–152

It came as a surprise to me, after completing The Monument, to find that Edgar I. Fripp in Shakespeare, Man and Artist of 1938 had already discovered the same hundred-sonnet sequence and even related it to Watson’s earlier sequence:

“Centuries or ‘hundreds’ of literary pieces were in fashion,” Fripp wrote, citing “hundreds” of songs, sonnets, prayers, sermons, hymns, flowers, emblems, medical facts and so on.  “The Hekotompathia or Passionate Century of Love by Thomas Watson, otherwise a century of passions, may have served as a model for Shakespeare’s century of sonnets,” he continued, adding, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets 27-126 are a century.”

But Fripp had seen no significance in Watson’s dedication to Oxford, who had helped with the manuscript; nor had he realized that Shakespeare’s century is itself divided into two parts, exactly as Watson’s century is divided, that is, Part One with eighty sonnets and Part Two with twenty:

Thomas Watson: 1———————————-80 81————-100

Shake-speare’s: 27——————————–106 107————126

Sonnet 107 is the eighty-first verse and the “pillar” that begins Part Two. 

And of course Sonnet 107 is both unique and important as the so-called “dating sonnet,” viewed by most critics as celebrating the release on April 10, 1603 of Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton after being “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” in the Tower.  Sonnet 107 also refers to the death of Queen Elizabeth, the “mortal Moon,” a few weeks earlier on March 24, 1603, when King James VI of Scotland was quickly proclaimed King James I of England – without the civil war around succession that had been both predicted and feared.

As shown in The Monument, the eighty sonnets of Part One begin with Sonnet 27 upon Southampton’s arrest on the night of February 8, 1601 and continue until Sonnet 106 upon his final night in the Tower on April 9, 1603; and the twenty sonnets of Part Two begin with his liberation on April 10, 1603 and continue with one sonnet per day until Sonnet 125 upon the Queen’s funeral on April 28, 1603 followed by Sonnet 126, the envoy of farewell.

So it appears that Watson’s century of 1582 had “served as a model” for Shakespeare’s century even more closely than Edgar Fripp had known.  And given that Oxford had been so intimately involved in the Watson sequence, we might logically conclude that he repeated its structure in the Shakespeare sequence.

In other words, if “Shakespeare” was borrowing from Watson, as now seems clear, then the view here is that he was borrowing from himself!

One Reason Why Henry Lord Southampton is Prince Tudor, the Unacknowledged King Henry IX of England

AUTHORSHIP QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“But it is in the sonnets that we must look for the true key to the Shakespeare mystery.” 

— Louis P. Benezet, Shakspere, Shakespeare and De Vere, 1937

The idea that an ordinary Elizabethan poet, much less William Shakspere of Stratford, could promise “immortal life” to Henry Wriothesley the third earl of Southampton, is absurd.  Nor could Shakspere demand of the young but already powerful peer, “Make thee another self for love of me.”  The idea that he could have written those words is ridiculous.  For starters, Southampton would have run his sword through the author’s guts.

Henry, Lord Southampton, the Prince Tudor (1573-1624)

Of course, many traditional (Stratfordian) commentators have seen and accepted the decisive evidence of Southampton as the so-called Fair Youth of the Sonnets; and that acceptance, in turn, should have led them to the obvious conclusion that the author could not have been the Stratford man and must have been someone else. 

Nothing of the sort happened, however, and the reason has to do with the power of unquestioned assumptions to force rational men and women into holding irrational conclusions.   Ah, but such is also the case for perhaps the majority of Oxfordians, many of whom have been overwhelmed by vicious taunts and jeers against the so-called Prince Tudor theory that Southampton was the natural son of Oxford and Queen Elizabeth.  When these same Oxfordians are so self-righteously censoring Stratfordians such as Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro for their emotionally unbalanced attacks on anti-Stratfordians, they fail to notice their own emotionally unbalanced attacks on Oxfordians who are Prince Tudor theorists.

Let us assume for the moment that we agree about Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford writing in the Fair Youth series of Sonnets 1-126 to Southampton, to whom he promises:  “Your praise shall still find room/ Even in the eyes of all posterity/ That wear this world out to the ending doom” (55) and also, “Your name from hence immortal life shall have” (81).

Southampton in the Tower (1601-1603)

What does he mean by this?

Many or even most Oxfordians will tell you he simply means that Southampton’s name, on the dedications to him of Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, will live forever because of its unique association with “Shakespeare,” who never dedicated anything to anyone else.  But I disagree with this conclusion, for reasons that follow.

In the first place, we are looking at the matter from the vantage point of more than 400 years later, when we can testify to the observable fact that anything connected to “Shakespeare” is immortal; and therefore we think, “Oh, well, he made that promise to Southampton because he knew his written words would live forever.”

I say no — no, that is not what’s going on here.  The great author is not merely boasting about his own literary and dramatic works, immortal though they surely are.  He’s not just thumping his chest about the projected ability of his poems, plays and sonnets to keep Southampton’s name/life alive in the mouths of men.   Whenever the young earl would have read those private promises made to him in the Sonnets, he would not have given a fig for such reasons; that is not the kind of fame he or any nobleman of that time would have valued.

He also would not have valued being immortal because he was physically “fair” or beautiful.  Forget about it!  And he certainly would not have wanted eternal memory in the eyes of posterity because of any love affairs he had had with either women or men, Oxford included.  Forget about it!

What Oxford was promising Southampton in terms of immortality is made absolutely clear in the Sonnets themselves – when he addresses him over and over as a prince or king of royal blood.  The matter is secret; it must be buried; but if these private sonnets do manage to survive in the distant future, it will then be known to all that Southampton deserved by blood to be King Henry IX.

This, I submit, is the only possible reason for Oxford’s promise to him of eternal life.  I have filled The Monument and also Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets with how Oxford unequivocally and explicitly addresses Southampton as a prince, so here I’ll offer just example with Sonnet 10, Line 11: “Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind” –– which, I contend, can only be addressed to a prince or king.

Here is some of its treatment in The Monument:

Sonnet 10, Line 11:

BE AS THY PRESENCE IS, GRACIOUS AND KIND  

“Act according to your stature as a Prince, full of royal grace as the natural son of the Queen.”

PRESENCE = Kingly presence; (“Come I appellant to this princely presence” – Richard II, 1.1. 34; “And sent to warn them to his royal presence” – Richard III, 1.3.39; “Worst in this royal presence may I speak” – Richard II, 4.1.115; “I will avouch’t in presence of the King” – Richard III, 1.3.115; “The tender love I bear your Grace, my lord, makes me most forward in this princely presence” – Richard III, 3.4.63-64; “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” – the King in 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-57; “What’s he approacheth boldly to our presence?” – King Lewis in 3 Henry VI, 3.3.44)

GRACIOUS = Filled with royal (divine) grace, as in “your Grace” above; “Accept this scroll, most gracious sovereign” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1.149; “Great King of England, and my gracious lord” – 2 Henry VI, 1.1.24; “I come with gracious offers from the King” – 1 Henry IV, 4.3.30; “My gracious sovereign” – Richard II, 1.1.21; “I hold my duty as I hold my soul, both to my God and to my gracious King” – Hamlet, 2.2.44-45; “You have a daughter called Elizabeth, virtuous and fair, royal and gracious” – Richard III, 4.4.204-205

“So gracious and virtuous a sovereign” –Oxford to Robert Cecil,May 7, 1603

My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,

But now my gracious numbers are decayed                 Sonnet 79, lines 2-3

KIND = Natural, related by nature, as a child of Elizabeth and the bearer of her blood; (“Belonging to one by birth: lawful, rightful – 1570 … of persons: rightful heir, etc., 1589 – OED); “There she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward her ever most kind and natural” – Measure for Measure, 3.1.218-220; “A little more than kin, and less than kind” – Hamlet, 1.2.65; “Shall kin with kin, and kind with kind, confound” – Richard II, 4.1.141; “Disclaiming here the kindred of the king, and lay aside my high blood’s royalty” – Richard II, 1.1.70-71; “The King is kind” – 1 Henry IV, 4.3.52; “My lord and sovereign, and thy vowed friend, I come, in kindness and unfeigned love, first, to do greetings to thy royal person” – 3 Henry VI, 3.3.50-52

“In all kindness and kindred” –Oxford to Robert Cecil, May 1601

Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind…

Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,

Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words                    Sonnet 105, lines 5, 9-10

(Fair= royal son; Kind = natural child of the Queen; True = rightful heir & related to Oxford, who is Nothing Truer than Truth)


No. 30 of 100 Reasons why Oxford was “Shakespeare” — His Letters Contain Thousands of Correspondences to Thoughts and Phrases in the Poems and Plays Part One

William Plumer Fowler was president of the solidly orthodox Shakespeare Club of Boston in 1960 when it “came as a shock to me, after over half a century spent in the mistaken traditional belief, to at last realize that the true author was not the Stratfordian William Shakespeare, but someone else.”

After assuming the presidency of the Club for the second time in 1972, he spent an additional year of investigation before finally becoming “convinced beyond any doubt” that Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford had written the great works.

Another dozen years later, on Christmas eve of 1984 at his home in New Hampshire, he completed the preface for his 900-page masterwork Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford’s Letters.   Fowler had chosen thirty-seven of some fifty letters, written by the earl between 1563 and 1603, to demonstrate how they contain “consistent correspondences (averaging over two to a line) in nearly every phrase to the thought and phraseology of Shakespeare’s plays and poems.”

Part of an autograph letter from Oxford to Robert Cecil (his "Brother" or former brother-in-law) in July 1600

“The letters “speak for themselves,” Fowler writes, adding they “offer convincing documentary evidence of their being those of the true poet Shakespeare, as distinct from the Stratford William Shaksper of similar name.  They are far more than just Oxford’s letters,” he concluded. “They are Shakespeare’s.”

Among the thousands of correspondences is a statement from Oxford to William Cecil Lord Burghley in July 1581, after his release from the Tower following some dramatic events: after accusing his Catholic cousins Henry Howard and Charles Arundel of engaging in treasonable correspondence with Spain, they retaliated with vicious counter-charges.  They also revealed his affair with Anne Vavasour, a Queen’s Maid of Honor, who gave birth to his illegitimate infant son (Edward Vere).  She and the baby, as well as Oxford, were summarily committed to the Tower for two months.

“But the world is so cunning,” he wrote to Burghley, “as of a shadow they can make a substance, and of a likelihood a truth.”

Plato's Cave - where shadows, projected on a wall, are mistaken for substance and truth

“This shadow-substance antithesis harks back to Plato’s Socratic dialogue in the Seventh book of The Republic,” Fowler writes, “about the shadows cast by a candle in a cave, and is a favorite of Shakespeare’s, unfolded again and again, in the repeated portrayal of what Dr. Herbert R. Coursen Jr. terms ‘Shakespeare’s great theme – the discrepancy between appearance and reality’.”

In Richard II, for example, Bushy tries to calm the Queen’s anxiety over Richard’s departure for Ireland: “Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows, which show like grief itself, but are not so … So your sweet Majesty, looking awry upon your lord’s departure, finds shapes of grief more than himself to wail, which, look’d on as it is, is naught but shadows of what it is not.” (2.2.14-23)

The metaphor is intensified after Richard surrenders his crown to Bolingbroke:

Bolingbroke: “The shadow of your sorrow hath destroyed the shadow of your face.”
King Richard: “Say that again. The shadow of my sorrow! Ha! Let’s see. ‘Tis very true, my grief lies all within. And these external manners of laments are merely shadows to the unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul. There lies the substance…

“So then I am not lame, poor, nor despised/ Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give,” the author writes in Sonnet 37, and he begins number 53: “What is your substance, whereof are you made,/ That millions of strange shadows on you tend?”

Oxford’s statement that “the world is so cunning as of a shadow they can make a substance and of a likelihood a truth” appears in reverse order in The Merchant of Venice when Bassanio talks about “the seeming truth which cunning times put on to entrap the wisest” (3.2.100) — and in The Phoenix and Turtle, simply put: “Truth may seem, but cannot be.”

Oxford wrote to Robert Cecil on May 7, 1603, some six weeks after the death of Queen Elizabeth, and at one point he echoed his motto Vero Nihil Verius (“Nothing Truer than Truth”) in this striking passage:  “But I hope truth is subject to no prescription, for truth is truth though never so old, and time cannot make that false which was once true.

These ringing words “are mirrored many times by the dramatist Shakespeare,” Fowler writes, “most notably in Measure for Measure (5.1.45) where the entire thought is duplicated by Isabella: “For truth is truth to the end of reckoning.” And in Troilus and Cressida (3.2.106), to name just one other example: “What truth can speak truest, not truer than Troilus.”

He wrote in that same letter to Cecil, “Nothing adorns a king more than Justice, nor in anything doth a king more resemble God than in justice,” and Fowler observes: “Here we have a fine variant of Portia’s immortal words in The Merchant of Venice (4.1.188-196) but with the emphasis placed on ‘Justice’ itself,” rather than on Mercy, of which Portia states: ‘It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,/ It is an attribute to God himself,/ And earthly power doth then show likest God’s/ When mercy seasons justice.'”

Oxford's father-in-law William Cecil Lord Burghley, the most powerful man in England, on his mule

Edward de Vere was only twenty-two in 1572 when the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in France shocked the Elizabethan Court as tens of thousands of Huguenots (Protestants) were slain.  In an emotional letter he told Burghley:

“This estate hath depended on you a great while as all the world doth judge” – a statement, Fowler notes, “anticipating with arresting closeness both Shakespeare’s words and thought” in two scenes of Hamlet:

(1) Laertes, warning his sister Ophelia against getting too involved with Prince Hamlet because of his high position, tells her: “He may not, as unvalued persons do, carve for himself, for on his choice depends the safety and health of this whole state.” (1.3.20)

(2) King Claudius gives Rosencrantz and Guildenstern their commission to escort Hamlet to England, telling them, “The terms of our estate may not endure hazard so near us,” and Rosencrantz remarks: “The single and peculiar life is bound … to keep itself from noyance; but much more that spirit upon whose weal depends and rests and lives of many.”

We’ll continue later with Part Two of Reason No. 30…

On “Anonymous” Panel with Roland Emmerich

Hank on the Panel with Roland Emmerich (to our left) after the “Anonymous” advance premier in Portland, Oregon:

 

“Shakespeare-Oxford” Books by Whittemore now on Kindle

I’m pleased to announce that the following books are now available on the KINDLE format — and  can be viewed for free at KINDLE FOR PC — a service from Amazon that I hadn’t known about until recently: THE MONUMENT ... SHAKESPEARE’S SON AND HIS SONNETS

… and SHAKE-SPEARE’S TREASON [script of the one-man show by me and Ted Story] …

A Flyer for the Show

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:

THE FINAL DAYS

FOUR DAYS TO THE QUEEN’S FUNERAL
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.

1 ‘TIS BETTER TO BE VILE THAN VILE ESTEEMED,

“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”

2 WHEN NOT TO BE RECEIVES REPROACH OF BEING,

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.

3 AND THE JUST PLEASURE LOST, WHICH IS SO DEEMED,

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

4 NOT BY FEELING BUT BY OTHERS’ SEEING.

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

5 FOR WHY SHOULD OTHERS’ FALSE ADULTERATE EYES

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
blood
which youngly thou bestow’st” – Sonnet 11, line 3

7 OR ON MY FRAILTIES WHY ARE FRAILER SPIES,

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

8 WHICH IN THEIR WILLS COUNT BAD WHAT I THINK GOOD?

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

9 NO, I AM THAT I AM, AND THEY THAT LEVEL

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

10 AT MY ABUSES RECKON UP THEIR OWN:

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

11 I MAY BE STRAIGHT THOUGH THEY THEMSELVES BE
BEVEL.

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

12 BY THEIR RANK THOUGHTS MY DEEDS MUST NOT BE
SHOWN,

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

13 UNLESS THIS GENERAL EVIL THEY MAINTAIN:

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

14 ALL MEN ARE BAD AND IN THEIR BADNESS REIGN.

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

“Anonymous” the Movie to Focus on the End Game of Elizabethan Politics, the Essex Rebellion and the Succession to Queen Elizabeth

Well, it’s good to see the trailer for Anonymous, due in September from Roland Emmerich, about Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as Shakespeare; and in the view from this corner, it’s great to see that the film will apparently focus on the “end game” of political power struggles leading to the Essex Rebellion in February of 1601, the imprisonment of co-leaders Essex and Southampton, the execution of Essex and the succession to Elizabeth in March of 1603.

These, after all, were not only the Earl of Oxford’s concerns but those dramatized by “Shakespeare” in his plays of English royal history, which mirrored contemporary issues and helped to prepare citizens for the inevitable changes that would follow the Queen’s death.  Such is the concern of the Sonnets, as expressed in The Monument, which sets forth the political “story” recorded by Oxford using the language and form of the poetry of love.

Because of a single movie, this generation of students will be the first to learn there’s even a question about the authorship of the Shakespeare works – a fact which, I’d say, boggles the mind.

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