CHAPTER 29

CRITICISMS

PART 5

WHAT DID GEORGE PUTTENHAM REALLY SAY ABOUT OXFORD AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

This article is by A2. We've already looked at a previous article with a section on Puttenham, also by A2 (chapter 28). Here he's saying (I'm quoting excerpts only)

One seeming problem with the Oxfordian story is that his name was never attached to any of the works of Shakespeare. Oxfordians reply that he was a courtier, and he therefore had to conceal his authorship.

My comment is that I don't agree with this alleged Oxfordian claim; for example, Thomas Sackville at least co-wrote the published play Gorboduc, and wrote the published Induction to A Mirror for Magistrates (2nd edition) (Chapter 22). He was a cousin to Queen Elizabeth, and later became Lord Buckhurst and the Earl of Dorset. For de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, poems published as by E. O. were not exactly anonymous. However, A2 continues

They cite the 1589 work The Arte of English Poesie (generally and hereafter attributed to George Puttenham):

I know very many notable gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably and suppressed it agayne, or else sufred it to be publisht without their own names to it of which number the first is that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford.

A2 continues

This is the way Puttenham is quoted in some of the most prominent Oxfordian sources, including the sometimes droll but generally unreliable Frontline show, "The Shakespeare Mystery." The problem with it is that it's a fake. ... The first part of the quotation is taken from chapter 8 of the first book of The Arte of English Poesie ...

A2 quotes sufficiently to put the quotation into context

Now also of such among the nobilitie or gentrie as be very well seen in many laudable sciences, and especially in making or Poesie, it is so come to passe that they have no courage to write and if they have, yet are they loath to be known of their skill. So as I know very many notable gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably and suppressed it agayne, or els sufred it to be publisht without their own names to it as it were a discredit for a gentleman, to seeme learned, and to show himselfe amorous of any good Art.

A2 then continues

The second part of the passage occurs in chapter 31 of the first book of The Arte of English Poesie:

And in her Majesties [i.e., Queen Elizabeth's] time that now is are sprong up an other crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her Majesties owne servauntes, who have written excellently well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of oxford, Thomas Lord of Bukhurst, when he was young, Henry Lord Paget, Sir Philip Sydney, Sir Walter Rawleigh, Master Edward Dyar, Maister Fulke Grevell, Gascon, Britton, Turberville and a great many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for envie, but to avoyde tediousnesse, and who have deserved no little commendation.

My comment, I've put a space between the two parts of the 'fake' quotation first given above, so that you can see how they've been put together.

A2 then continues

The falsified sentence that Frontline has created from different chapters of Puttenham is meant to persuade us that Puttenham knew that Oxford had secretly written great literature but had had it published under another name. Frontline also ignores the rest of the names after Oxford, thereby giving the impression that Puttenham thought Oxford was unique in this respect. Had the Frontline people actually read Puttenham, they would have seen that he says something very different. Oxford's name and verse are known to Puttenham, and he is first on the list of "the rest" - that is, of those whose poetry is known to him under their own names. That Oxford is first on the list does not even mean that Puttenham thought his verse was the finest among "the rest", he names poets in order of social rank...

However, A2 does not have it all his own way. On the Web I found:

FRONTLINE'S Response

Your criticism derives from an apparent misinterpretation of the three words - with the rest. You are saying these words are referring to the list of "learned Gentlemen" which immediately follows these three words. Whereas we believe the words with the rest means "the rest" [of those who are publicly acknowledged poets/writers.]

And therefore, we do not believe the compression of the two excerpts cited changes the meaning of what was written in Puttenham's (actually Sir John Lumley's) "Arte of English Poesie." Both say the same thing: there are noblemen writing good works who don't dare put their names to it.

Frontline quoted the two excerpts, with the words used in the Frontline documentary in italics, then continued:

Frontline considered using both excerpts but didn't because they are redundant. To have included both would, if anything, have strengthened the evidence that Lumley thought DeVere's name as poet and author was being suppressed.

I have quoted this controversy at some length because it seems to me to be a good example of what I've called the literary minefield. This is what can happen when one strays into what I would call hearsay type of evidence. I suggest the small enclave of the Court, not the relatively ignorant general public, was the arbiter for the poetry of the nobility.

All this seems to me to have little or no relevancy as to whether de Vere was Shakespeare, and why he was, if he was.



SHAKESPEARE, OXFORD AND VERBAL PARALLELS

This is a diatribe by A1 against an article by Joseph Sobran 'Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford's Poetry.' A1 says in part:

Sobran's astonishing naivete and ignorance of both Elizabethan poetry and attribution studies would be amusing, were it not for the fact that many people are likely to take this article seriously.... lists of parallels such as he provides have long been looked at very skeptically in attribution studies, since writers in any era consciously or unconsciously influence each other and draw on common sources... Elizabethan...writers freely borrowed from each other... it is particularly easy to find parallels in Shakespeare, simply because his canon is so enormous and varied...

A1 then chooses a poem by Sir Edward Dyer, 'one of Oxford's fellow court poets' and proceeds to select parallels using a Shakespeare concordance. The poem has 80 lines but A1 stopped at 12, having found so many parallels (more than a dozen) ... 'which share at least one word'

e.g.:

Dyer: whose hope is vayne (2)

Shakespeare: so that all hope is vain (Cor.5.1.70)

Dyer: whose trust is all betrayed (20

Shakespeare: Trust nobody, for fear you be betrayed. (2Hy6.4.4.58)

My comment at this point is that I have picked these two examples from A1 as those seeming (to me) the closest matches. Personally, I found them all rather poor matches, and more mere generalizations of common speech in both cases rather than parallels with each other. But A1 continues:

In fact I found Sobran's triumphant pronouncements about the amazing parallels between Oxford and Shakespeare eerily familiar, because I had read almost the same words before - in the writings of those who claim that Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare's plays.

A1 then has a paragraph citing evidence from Ward Elliott and Robert Valenza, Donald Foster, and Alan Nelson all indicating Oxford's writings or vocabulary are poor or no matches for those of Shakespeare.

The Elliott-Valenza evidence will be discussed later as there is an article by them on their computer study results included as part of this Criticism series. Donald Foster we have already met with SHAXICON (Chapter 27). This leaves Professor Alan Nelson of Berkeley. He is a dedicated Anti Oxfordian with a substantial web site presence. I found him quick to respond to emails with helpful information. Search engines generally refer to his having on his site "all of Oxford's letters." A1 here says

Alan Nelson has examined and transcribed all of Oxford's surviving letters and memoranda, and he has found that Oxford's ideosyncracies of spelling and usage bear no resemblance to the ideosyncracies which can be tentatively reconstructed from the earliest texts of Shakespeare's works.

But Alan Nelson himself on the Net has posted a caveat saying specifically that he does not promote the claim by some search engines that his web site contains "all the letters" of Oxford.

Since there are apparently no manuscript copies of any of the works attributed to Shakespeare, scholars are relying on printed versions, and these are variously thought to have been prepared from 'foul copies' or actors recollections of the parts they played, or scribes writing down what they could as the plays were being performed, or at best, from manuscript copies of transcribed parts given to actors to learn, which were then obtained by printers, and possibly in rare cases from the author's original manuscripts. Knowing as we do that printers even varied spelling to fit lines of print, and that there were many revisions to plays, sometimes to refresh their topicality, and that various playwrights might have had a hand in these revisions, I suggest it is a bold assertion indeed to say that

Oxford's idiosyncracies of spelling and usage bear no resemblance to the idiosyncracies which can be tentatively reconstructed from the earliest texts of Shakespeare's works.

There is a further problem with this line of research. Apparently no other dramatist has left a voluminous record of private correspondence as has de Vere - not because de Vere kept it, none of his exists either, but because he was the son-in-law of Burghley, who caused to be built for himself a mansion large enough to house the Queen's entire entourage when she visited him, plus Burghley had at least a 2 room library for records as well as his personal quarters and those for his own staff. We only have, it seems, de Vere's correspondence to Burghley. As a result, there is no other dramatist for whom we can test the accuracy of personal correspondence against printed works that have come down to us. Ben Jonson's work is in a far inferior category, he is different from de Vere in every conceivable way. But the likes of Greene, Marlowe, and Beaumont have not apparently provided us with a comparable set of materials.

To return to A1's conclusion about Sobran's article:

Sobran provocatively writes "I challenge anyone to find so many close parallels of phrase, image, rhythm. and thought between two poets in all literature."

A1 continues, in part,

Samuel Daniel has been recognized for the last 200 years as one of the most pervasive influences on Shakespeare's writing, particularly in the Sonnets... Shakespeare repeatedly appropriated Daniel's vocabulary, images, themes (compare Shakespeare's Sonnets 1-18 with sonnets 33-40 of Daniel's Delia) and even unusual grammatical constructions... (-uncommon outside Shakespeare and Daniel). The parallels between ...Daniel and Shakespeare are much more extensive than those Sobran notes between Oxford and Shakespeare and extend far deeper than superficial verbal parallels.... All in all, Sobran's attempt to use verbal parallels to 'prove' that Oxford was Shakespeare is an ill-conceived failure, one which reveals more about Sobran's ignorance of Elizabethan poetry and attribution methods than it does about Oxford or Shakespeare. Sobran's seriously defective methodology could be used to 'prove' that virtually any Elizabethan poet wrote Shakespeare's work. ...

My comment:

On the face of it this damaging criticism seems to destroy Sobran's case. But does it? To reduce A1's case to a bare minimum, what he says is that this method could be used to 'prove' that virtually any Elizabethan poet wrote Shakespeare. So now we have a situation that virtually any Elizabethan poet could have been Shakespeare. Does this disprove de Vere as Shakespeare? Of course not. It merely admits many more candidates. And these other candidates have then to be eliminated one by one because they don't fit the profile of Shakespeare for other reasons.

My conclusion: this does nothing to disprove de Vere as Shakespeare.



WAS THE EARL OF OXFORD THE TRUE SHAKESPEARE?

A COMPUTER AIDED ANALYSIS BY WARD ELLIOTT AND ROBERT VALENZA.

We'll call them E & V for brevity. They begin their article by saying:

For 3 years a Shakespeare Clinic of Claremont Colleges undergraduates has been using computers to see which of 58 claimed 'true authors' of Shakespeare's poems and plays actually matched Shakespeare's style. The focus in the Clinic's final year was on 27 poet-claimants, [note 1] using both a new, modal test and a battery of more conventional tests. None of the poets tested matched Shakespeare. Walter Raleigh, the closest to Shakespeare by modal test, was 2.4 standard errors distant from Shakespeare's mean modal score, with not much better than a two percent chance of common authorship... John Donne, the most distant claimant, was 36.6 standard errors distant from Shakespeare. None of the three 'leading' candidates with organised followings today - Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, came out anywhere near Shakespeare. This paper concentrates on Oxford, the candidate with the largest following, and the largest body of recent supporting literature...

Modal testing divides a text into blocks, counts for 52 keywords in each block (middling common words such as 'about,' 'again,' 'ways,' and 'words', and measures and ranks eigenvalues, or modes. Modes do not directly represent keyword occurrences, instead they measure complex patterns of deviation from a writer's normal rates of word frequency. They measure the way an author uses, or avoids using, words together. In Shakespeare's poems, modal analysis has revealed a few very strong, characteristic modes, quickly tailing off into many weak modes. All 90 blocks of Shakespeare's poems, and a block or two of sonnets taken from his plays, show the same characteristic pattern, while many blocks of other authors do not. Thus, Shakespeare's lowest and 'best' modal score is minus 25.36; his highest and worst score is 187.65; his mean score is 56.23; his standard deviation 40.09. Oxford's best, mean, and worst scores were 233.81; 356.94; and 490.47, respectively, all worse than Shakespeare's worst. Overall, Oxford tested 18.37 standard errors distant from Shakespeare's mean, very distant indeed...

The Clinic also performed five more conventional tests on Oxford and 19 other Elizabethan poets. These tests were hyphenated compound words (HCWs) and relative clauses per thousand, grade-level of writing, as measured by word- and sentence-length, and percentage of open- and feminine-ended lines.(In the phrase 'the evil that men do', that men do is a relative clause. An open line is a line not ended by a piece of punctuation. A feminine ending ends a line on an unstressed syllable, with a word such as 'gotten'.) In general, Shakespeare used compound words and open and feminine endings more frequently than his contemporaries, and relative clauses less frequently. We found Shakespeare's patterns to be strikingly consistent, and often strikingly at variance with those of other Elizabethan poets. Only two of our 75 conventional tests on (roughly) 3,000-word blocks of Shakespeare fell outside Shakespeare's profile, while almost half of our 170 conventional tests on other poets fell outside the profile.

My comment here is why 75 conventional tests on Shakespeare and 170 on other poets? How can the results be compared if the parameters are not the same?

There follows a series of relative numbers, and then this plain language text:

Oxford's poems have many more total relative clauses (TRCs) than Shakespeare's, and many fewer HCWs and feminine endings. Shakespeare wrote at the 11th grade level (GRL), Oxford at the 7th. Even ignoring feminine endings tests as dubious, Oxford's poems fall outside Shakespeare's profile by four of the six tests.

None of the tests in Table 1 is perfect. Some tests have commonisation problems. Texts vary, and many spelling and punctuation peculiarities are supplied by editors, not authors. ... four tests - relative clauses, HCWs, grade-level and modal tests - do not seem to suffer greatly either from time problems or from commonisation problems. Oxford's poems fall outside the profile on all four.

Moreover, the line-ending trends in Shakespeare's plays, which make Oxford's early poems only a dubious mismatch, still hurt his candidacy because, as the plays are conventionally dated, the trends continued for years after Oxford's death in 1604.

Our conclusion from the Clinic was that Shakespeare fit within a fairly narrow, distinctive profile under our best tests. If his poems were written by a committee, it was a remarkably consistent committee. ... If they were written by the Earl of Oxford, he must, after taking the name of Shakespeare, have undergone several stylistic changes of a type and magnitude unknown in Shakespeare's accepted works. And, for both feminine endings and open lines, he must have somehow found a way to carry on trends which are well known in Shakespeare's plays for almost a decade after his own death. These are not easy assumptions to make. We do not claim to have said the last word on this subject, nor to have solved the Shakespeare authorship mystery. But, if it strains credulity to suppose that Will Shakspere, the Stratford grain dealer, could have written Shakespeare's poems and plays, it also strains credulity to suppose that people like Oxford, with entirely different stylistic idiosyncracies from Shakespeare, could have been the true authors of his poems and plays.

E & V's Note 1 lists the names of those tested. For some authors the selected works tested are given. The names are Bacon, Barnes, Burton, Donne,Dyer, Oxford, Queen Elizabeth, Marlowe, Daniel, Drayton, Griffin, Jonson, Lodge, Sackville, Spenser, Mary Sidney, Alexander, Philip Sidney, Warner, Heywood, Middleton, Barnefield, Essex, Greene, Nashe, Raleigh and Webster plus 8 non-claimants: Chapman, Fletcher, Herbert, Fulke Greville, Markham, Milton, Mary Wroth, Willobie. This totals 35 of those they tested.

As to Spenser, E & V have this to say:

Spenser's Epigrams and Sonnets (1569) and his Amoretti (1595) match his Shepherd's Calendar (1579) closely - though, for some reason, his Faerie Queene tests very distant from the other four works mentioned.

My comments are :

1. Strangely, E & V do not mention the dates for the Faerie Queene, Spenser's major work, by which he is remembered. His books 1-3 of that work were published in 1590, which falls squarely within the other dates given for his work. But yet it tests very distantly from his other work. How can this be? There is surely no doubt in anyone's mind that Spenser himself wrote all these works. Was this distance about the same as that between Oxford's (early) poems, and Shakespeare's work? I think we have to conclude that the tests are themselves inaccurate and their design needs substantial revision. Alternatively, it tells us that such testing of distinguished authors' works is valueless.

2. I have no problem with the conventional dating for Shakespeare's work. This only tells us when it is first known to have been acted or published, not when it was written. If it was anything like Beethoven's work, (and Beethoven has been called the Shakespeare of music), it was constantly revised and improved over many years, and most of it probably originated much earlier. None of this can be proved, but older plays with similar names are likely indications of the growth and development of 'Shakespeare's ' work.

3. I would like to have seen the known poets/dramatists surrounding de Vere during his lifetime included in the tests vs. Shakespeare's works. Why are there no results for Thomas Churchyard, Anthony Munday, and John Lyly?

4. Although Jonson is poles apart from Shakespeare, as he had a controlling influence over the 1623 First Folio, I believe the tests should not have included only Jonson's Epigrams and The Forest. Surely Jonson's plays should have been tested against his own poems, and against Oxford's poems and Shakespeare's poems and plays. A great opportunity was, I believe, lost here, or if this was done, the results should have been reported.

5. It was said Ralegh was the closest match to Shakespeare by modal test, being 2.4 standard errors distant, - with not much better than a 2% chance of common authorship.. If the closest match had only a 2+% relationship then I think there is something wrong with either the testing parameters or procedures. Shakespeare in one form or another undoubtedly existed, we have the works handed down to us to prove it, and for all their efforts, whoever he was, he has slipped through their computer screens undetected.

When E & V have designed or utilized computer tests that identify all of Spenser's works as by Spenser and no one else, and all of Jonson's work as by Jonson and no one else, then I think we will have tests that will tell us more accurately whether de Vere was Shakespeare. Even then there is a problem because all de Vere's poems are early works and all Shakespeare's by a mature writer. As it is at present, I think we have to say nothing here by E & V proves de Vere was not Shakespeare because the tests are not sufficiently discriminating if they distance Spenser's greatest work from Spenser's other works.



BARKSTED AND SHAKESPEARE

This article is by A2 and A1. Here's what they say, in part:

Oxfordians... argue that there is evidence that the author who wrote under the name "William Shakespeare" died before the Shakespeare of Stratford. A key piece of Oxfordian "evidence" is William Berksted's 1607 poem Mirrha, the Mother of Adonis, in which Shakespeare is referred to in the past tense.

Sobran and other Oxfordians are making the simple but wrong assumption that anyone who referred to Shakespeare in the past tense must have thought that Shakespeare had already died. If it were true that Barksted had referred to Shakespeare as being dead in 1607, this might be a point for Oxfordians, but it is false. Indeed, Barksted's Mirrha is evidence not that Shakespeare had died, but that some of his work had achieved the status of a classic even while he was alive.

A2 and A1 (hereafter, A) give a brief sketch of what is known of Barksted's life, which is further condensed here. Born about 1589, a boy actor, he was only 18 when this poem was published. Barksted's poetry is heavily influenced by Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis. He may have finished an incomplete play by John Marston. He was arrested for being in 'a notorious bawdy house' in 1610. He became an adult actor, in 1612 was sued by a former manager of the Whitefriars theatre over some bonds he had signed, was arrested in 1617 for abusing a constable and in 1638 was referred to as 'a late well known fine comedian.'

Of the 120 or so eight-line stanzas in Barksted's 'lengthy' poem only the last stanza refers to Shakespeare. A says:

The poem may well seem confusing, especially since Barksted constantly switches tenses and the original quarto lacks quotation marks or other means of indicating when different characters are speaking.

Here's the last stanza in full, as quoted by A:

But stay my Muse in thine owne confines keepe,

& wage not warre with so deere lov'd a neighbor

But having sung thy day song, rest & sleepe

preserve thy small fame and his greater favor:

His song was worthie merrit (Shakespeare hee)

sung the faire blossome, thou the withered tree

Laurell is due to him, his art and wit

hath purchast it, Cypres thy brow will fit.

A then quotes Richard Barnfield, Thomas Nashe, Gabriel Harvey and Thomas Edwards to show that contemporary references in the past tense exist for still living poets. A then repeats the last six lines of Barksted's poem, inserting explanatory references giving the full names as to which poet is meant by Barksted. For our purposes B = Barksted and S = Shakespeare:

But having sung thy (B's muse's) day song,...

preserve thy (B's muse's) small fame and his (S's) greater favor;

His (S's) song (Venus and Adonis) ...

...thou (B's muse) the withered tree

Laurell is due to him (S), his(S's) art and wit

hath purchast it, Cypres thy (B's muse's) brow will fit.

A continues

The second point Sobran makes is that 'the cypress was a symbol of mourning; is this stanza a salute to a poet whom Barksted expects his readers to understand is deceased?' ...Sobran has simply misunderstood the lines...

and A impishly continues

Of course Sobran and other Oxfordians should be warned that Barksted's granting the cypress to his own muse should not be taken as evidence that Barksted himself was dead in 1607.

I think A has made his point, and the cypress reference is to Barksted's muse; 'will fit' though, is referring to the future, as he's not dead yet, so their sly point about Barksted not to be taken as dead in 1607 seems to me invalid.

As to A's first point, though they say Barksted constantly switches tenses they don't give examples, and in the last stanza quoted the tenses seem clear enough. The Barksted line

His song was worthie merrit (Shakespeare hee)

leaves open to doubt the question as to whether or not Shakespeare is dead. It seems to me it revolves around the word 'song,' If that means Shakespeare's 'voice' as a poet, then Barksted is telling us he's dead. If 'song' means just the one poem 'Venus and Adonis,' then it refers to that only as his 'song' that was already sung. Therefore in my judgement we have inconclusive evidence here as to whether Shakespeare was thought or known by Barksted to be dead by the time of this 1607 publication. In the circumstances I consider it does not exclude de Vere from being Shakespeare.

THE VERSE FORMS OF SHAKESPEARE AND OXFORD

This is by A2, and discusses the 'Shakespearean sonnet,' the Venus and Adonis stanzas, other verse forms, and provides a conclusion. Here it is in full:

Conclusion

This survey certainly does not exhaust the catalogue of differences between the two poets (for instance, while all of Oxford's poetry is iambic, some of Shakespeare's songs are written in triple meter), but it should be sufficient to retire any Oxfordian claim that the verse forms employed in Oxford's sixteen poems are evidence that their author also wrote the works of Shakespeare. While it is true that some of Oxford's poems are written in forms similar to those used on occasion by Shakespeare, those forms were also used by a great many other poets of the time.

Oxfordians I have cited believe that the coincidence of Oxford's writing a 'Shakespearean' sonnet and four poems in the same stanza Shakespeare used in Venus and Adonis should count as evidence that he was Shakespeare. Surely by this kind of reasoning the fact that not one of Oxford's poems is in blank verse, or in heroic couplets, or in rhyme royal, or in the 7-syllable line should count against the Oxfordians. Indeed, there's little to suggest that Shakespeare was even aware of Oxford's poetry, or that if he had been he would have been influenced by it. Much of Oxford's poetry was written in a form and style that had already become outmoded when Shakespeare wrote; almost all of Shakespeare's verse is in forms unattempted by Oxford; where there is a coincidence of form, it is just that - a coincidence. If he needed models, Shakespeare had available to him a great many other poets whose works he would have found more copious, more modern, and more congenial.

My comment:

Since de Vere's '16 poems' are early works and his comedies have not survived, at least, as generally attributed to him, I suggest this type of evidence is meaningless, as all Shakespeare's work is, commencing with Venus and Adonis published in 1593, the highly refined and polished work of an already mature poet.

OXFORDIAN MYTHS

FIRST HEIR OF MY INVENTION

This article is by A2. He says in part:

Introduction

Shakespeare in his dedication of Venus and Adonis describes the work as the 'first heir of my invention.' Antistratfordians of various stripes have claimed from that the phrase somehow signifies that 'William Shakespeare" is not the actual name of the author of Venus and Adonis but is something that the 'real author' made up or 'invented.'

...the language of Elizabethan dedications is very foreign to modern readers...

Heir

There are many examples of the metaphor of an author's works being referred to as his 'children' especially in Elizabethan dedications.

I'll number A2's quotations for better reference:

1. Edmund Spenser's...The Shepheardes Calendar in 1579... was... prefaced with this poem

Goe little booke thy selfe present,...

As child whose parent is unkent: (unknown)

(Signed) Immerito. (unworthy.)

2. Samuel Daniel in his Delia (1593);

Go, wailing verse! The infant of my love-

3. Barnabe Barnes' ...Parthenophil and Parthenophe (1593) was published without its author's name and Barnes addresses his book thus:

Go bastard orphan! Pack thee hence!

4. The 'Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia'... first appeared in print in 1590, four years after Sidney's death, though the work had circulated in manuscript. All editions contain his dedication of the work to his sister, the Countess of Pembroke ...

For my part ... I could well find it in my heart to cast out in some desert of forgetfulness this child which I am loth to father...

5. The second edition of Arcadia appeared in 1593 bearing an additional note to the reader from Hugh Sanford who had helped edit the revised version

... as being child to such a father...

A2 then quotes

Shakespeare's dedication to Southampton of Venus and Adonis (excerpt only here):

...But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather....

My comments:

Of A2's 5 examples, 3 refer to 'child,' plus 'infant' and 'orphan' these being other forms of child. But Shakespeare refers to 'heir.' There is a difference. A child may or may not be an heir. An heir may or may not be a child. A child is a young human being of either sex, born or unborn, or a son or daughter of any age.

An heir is a person receiving or entitled to receive property or rank as a legal successor of its former owner; or, figuratively, one to whom something is morally due. Its usage includes:

heir apparent

heir at law

heir in tail

heir of the body (direct descendant)

heir presumptive.

I suggest Shakespeare was not on the same track as all the others in using heir instead of their word child,or infant or bastard orphan. Shakespeare, as his comedies were said to prove to us, as one of the best wits in England, whether or not he was de Vere, knew precisely what he was doing, and with his legal expertise therefore qualified 'heir' with 'of my invention.' So what Shakespeare is saying here, I suggest, is that the poem is the first beneficiary or direct descendant, or heir, of his 'invention.' Now we must find out what his 'invention' was.

A2 says

Invention

It is ... easy to understand why people who don't think 'William Shakespeare' was the real name of the author of Venus and Adonis would misinterpret the phrase 'first heir of my invention' to suggest that the real author 'invented' the name William Shakespeare and thus that the poem is the product of the real author under his 'invention': the pseudonym 'William Shakespeare.' This reading, however, cannot stand up under scrutiny. I have looked, and I cannot find any instance where 'invention' means 'pseudonym'; the OED (Oxford English Dictionary in two or more volumes) itself provides no instances. When Shakespeare elsewhere uses 'invention' in connection with literary production, the word generally means 'imagination' or 'creativity' as in these instances:

I will prove those verses to be very unlearned, neither savoring of poetry, wit, nor invention (LLL 4.2 157-59)

I'll give you a verse to this note, that I made yesterday in despite of my invention (AYL 2.5 46-7)

Go, write in a martial hand, be curst and brief. It is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent and full of invention (TN 3.2 42-44)

For who's so dumb that cannot write to thee

When thou thyself dost give invention light (Son 38 7-8)

A2 then quotes George Gascoigne in his 'Certain Notes of Instruction Concerning the Making of Verse or Rhyme in English' (1575):

For it is not enough to roll in pleasant words, nor yet to thunder...by letter..., nor yet to abound in apt vocables or epithets, unless the Invention have in it also aliquid salis. By this aliquid salis, I mean some good and fine device, showing the quick capacity of a writer: and where I say some good and fine invention, I mean that I would have it both fine and good.

My comments:

Gascoigne goes on to give examples of what he does and doesn't mean. This amounts to saying, don't be trite, think of something new to say. I suggest all this and the examples from Shakespeare (Loves Labours Lost, As You Like It, Twelfth Night and the Sonnets) can be summarized by the one word 'creativity.' If you haven't got something new to say, and a new way to say it, don't do it.

It's unfortunate that we have a third class poet chosen to tell us how to write poetry. The Latin translates as 'aliquid' = 'something' and 'salis' = 'salt', so he might have said 'some salt', or 'a pinch of salt' or some similar phrase. This was written a few centuries before refrigeration, so salt as a preservative and flavouring was essential.

A2 next quotes Sidney in his Defense of Poetry:

lifted up with the vigor of his own invention

Then A2 says

Here is the first sonnet of his Astrophil and Stella (excerpt only given here),

...Words come halting forth, wanting Invention's stay,

Invention Nature's child, ...

Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,

"Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart and write."

A2 goes on to quote Puttenham; Spenser; even Alexander Pope, published in 1715; and then returns to his four quotations from Shakespeare and analyzes each one as to context.

I think all this can be reduced to one word; 'originality.' So, 'originality' and 'creativity' seem to me to provide an adequate meaning of 'Invention' in an Elizabethan literary context.

A2, returning to Shakespeare's use of 'first heir of my invention' concludes by quoting more of Shakespeare's dedication to Venus and Adonis:

'if the first heir of my invention should prove deformed, I shall ...never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest.'

In his penultimate paragraph A2 says:

If we try to read the dedication the way some antistratfordians prefer, we end up in further nonsense because we have to consider the 'land' to be the alleged pseudonym. If the antistratfordians were correct, the sense of the metaphor would then be 'if the poem is not very good then I'll have to change my name once again.' This presumes that the alleged real author believed that the quality of a pseudonymous poem depends entirely on the pseudonym itself, and not on some quality in the poet or the poem: that is, the antistratfordians' reading of 'invention' as pseudonym requires them to believe that Shakespeare meant that if instead of being by 'William Shakespeare' the poem had been published under the name 'Osgood Muldoon,' it might have been a much better poem.

This just won't do. First, we need to know what meaning the word 'ear' has in the sentence. Today one might still hear the phrase 'an ear of corn' But in this Elizabethan context we have 'ear' used as a verb - to 'ear' something. Apparently it's the land that was 'eared' in the hope of a plentiful harvest of something. The anticipated harvest would appear to be recognition for the poem, in modern terms, a good approval rating, fame, and many book sales.

The poet has switched metaphors in the sentence; from the possibility of a deformed heir to that of his 'sowing' resulting in a poor harvest. Both are representations of the dread of a literary failure as the future for the poem.

If the heir is deformed it means the poem didn't come out right, like burning bread in an oven. That is an error in production, it doesn't mean the ingredients were no good. If his literary harvest is to be poor he traces it back to a barren land. The barren land is parallel to poor ingredients. In this case it could mean either that the poet would not write again about Venus, or, possibly, it means not write again about classical mythology- a very popular subject among poets at that time.

The sense of the metaphor is that if the poem proves to be not very good the poet will never again try to reap a literary harvest from such poor original material, or weak creativity and lack of originality for fear he will get an equally poor result. It's the original material, creativity and originality that the poet is concerned may be lacking, not the attributable name of the poet.

However, since Shakespeare was an Elizabethan, and one of the best 'wits' of his day, I suggest that, as was often the case then, he intended a double meaning or pun or conceit here. If we pursue our legal metaphor a little further, invention can not only mean something you devise, originate, produce or construct by original thought but at law any new manufacture the subject of letters patent, and in the case of intellectual property (such as a poem) the sole legal right to produce or reproduce a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. Copyright normally belongs to the author of the work, or his HEIR or assignee.

I think we can derive three meanings, and Shakespeare probably intended two of them:

1. In a general sense as A2 indicates, it might be thought to mean the first child of my creativity. Which, however, the length, structure, style, and polish of the poem makes it obvious that it isn't. This is the work of a mature poet, already fully accomplished. Further, the poet avoids 'child' as used by others, and substitutes 'heir' which is a more accurate and technical term. So this first meaning was not intended.

2. The first legally protected intellectual property the poet has created. (Because whoever he was, de Vere or Lord X, his previous anonymous work was unprotected at law.)

3. The first creation using his new pseudonym.

I suggest that Shakespeare with his apparent legal knowledge intended at least both the meanings in 2 & 3 just given.

WAS BURGHLEY CALLED 'POLUS'?

This article is by A2. His second paragraph states

As it happens there is no evidence that 'Polus" was Burghley's nickname ...an Oxfordian myth that has been around for fifty years, and for fifty years Oxfordians have repeated or even embellished this myth without checking its sources. ...This essay will first go where no Oxfordian has gone before, to the actual source material that is the basis for this myth...

The only evidence Oxfordians have ever offered for the existence of this supposed nickname is that "Polus ' was, they say, repeatedly used by Gabriel Harvey in a Latin tribute to Burghley that appeared in his Gratulationes Valdinenses ( we'll use GV for brevity). In fact, however, Harvey NEVER uses the word 'polus' in any poem in the Burghley section of GV, and while the word appears in other poems in the volume, it is never used as Burghley's or anybody else's nickname...

The word 'polus' does appear twice in an epigram on Burghley by Pietro Bizarro (translations are by Thomas Jameson from his 1938 edition of GV; I have put forms of 'polus' and its English equivalents in boldface (here in capitals):

Et locus, st Tempus paret, et ipse POLUS (book 3, p.4. line 22)

And Space and Time, and even HEAVEN obey you

Cui Deus ex alto sic fauet ipse POLO (3.5.6)

Whom God himself thus favors from high HEAVEN

There is one instance where 'Polus' is a name, but it is not a nickname and does not refer to Burghley. In Pietro Bizarro's epigram, Burghley is compared favorably to earlier statesmen:

Cromwellus tibi dat palmam; dat Vintoniensis;

Dat Checus, et Smithus, Vuttoniusque tibi,

Quorsum ego Tomstallum,Morumue,POLUMUE recorder?

CAECILIO primas illeque, et ille refert. (3.4.11-14)

Cromwell cedes you the palm, Winchester cedes it to you,

Cheke cedes it, and Smith and Wooton entirely to you.

Why should I even speak of Tunstall, More, and POLE?

To CECIL one and all agree in giving first place.

A2 tells us that

catholic Cardinal Reginald Pole... had sided with the pope against Henry 8th, and...was Archbishop of Canterbury during Mary's reign.

For more information on Cromwell, see Note 1 at the end of this chapter.

A states:

The word 'polus' also appears in sections of GV that are not devoted to Burghley. Here is a line from an epigram Gabriel Harvey wrote about a portrait of the queen...

Angeli erunt Angli: nostraque terra POLUS (1.12.32)

And English will be angels, our land the POLE!

A2 thinks 'heaven' would be a better translation than POLE here, but says Jameson is 'constrained by his desire to rhyme.' A2 continues:

This is from a poem by Edward Grant on the bear in Leicester's emblem:

At Cynosura POLO splendet contermina summo (2.ii.13)

While Cynosura shines neighborly in the great POLE

Cynosura is the constellation Ursa Minor (which is close to the pole star).

A2 gives two more examples of the use of POLARIS with Cynosura (the Little Bear constellation) for Leicester poems in GV. Then,

Oxfordians seem unaware that Harvey also used 'polus' once in his long poem on Oxford:

Ipse POLUS caeptis aderit, ridebit et Aether (4.7.10)

HEAVEN itself will attend your adventures, and Aether will smile

My comments:

1. The English word 'pole' comes from the Latin 'polus' which comes from the Greek word 'polos' meaning pivot, or axis or sky.

2. Shakespeare generally follows his sources closely. Hamlet is said to first occur in the 12th century Sistoria Danica by the chronicler Saxo Grammaticus. There was a German version by Hans Sachs in 1558. But Shakespeare probably obtained it from the 5th volume of Francis de Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques, a French version, in 1570. This work also includes the history of Romeo and Juliet. If Shakespeare was de Vere he would have had no trouble reading it in French. Apparently there is no Polonius in Belleforest's story, where Hamlet kills an unnamed councillor. If de Vere was Shakespeare he was present when Harvey delivered his address to the Queen and Court. He also probably had a copy, possibly given him by Harvey, of the printed GV. He could not use Polus for the statesman who ran England for the Queen, but he could come close. Polonius is close enough for everyone to know who it was, without breaking the rule against portraying living persons in plays. If this assumption is correct, into the parts of Hamlet and Polonius de Vere poured much of his hate/frustration/respect for Burghley. Since de Vere had Burghley as his Ward Master for 8-9 years and was required to marry his daughter, it's not surprising that Polonius is shown as a garrulous spying old man. It all fits very well, and many lines and innuendoes become understandable. Shakespeare (an aristocrat, whether or not he was de Vere) was devastating in his sketches of his court contemporaries.

3. Roger Manners wrote to (his brother?) the Earl of Rutland in a letter of June 2, 1583 in part...

Her Majesty came yesterday to Greenwich from the Lord Treasurer's ...The day she came away, which was yesterday, the Earl of Oxford came to her presence, and after some bitter words and speeches, in the end all sins are forgiven, and he may repair to the Court at his pleasure. Master Ralegh was a great mean herein, whereat Pondus is angry for that he could not do so much.

It does not take a great stretch of imagination to decide who Pondus probably was. Once you've seen a portrait of the mature Burghley, note the size and weight of the man, and realize how much control he had to govern the country, and his relationship to de Vere as his father in law, one has to wonder who else it could be but Burghley. Our word 'ponderous' today gives us the picture.

4. It appears from A2's data that he is correct in saying that Harvey did not refer to Burghley as 'Polus,' However, in the same volume of the GV devoted to Burghley, another poet does say that Space and Time and even Heaven (Polus) obeyed Burghley.

My conclusion is that none of this proves de Vere was not Shakespeare.

WHY I AM NOT AN OXFORDIAN.

This last article we'll review is by A1. I have included it to round off the Criticisms section of this investigation, although it's not apparently listed as part of the Shakespeare web page we began with. A1 aptly quotes T.S.Eliot:

I admit that my own experience, as a minor poet, may have jaundiced my outlook; that I am used to having cosmic significances, which I never suspected, extracted from my work (such as it is) by enthusiastic persons at a distance, and to being informed that something which I meant seriously is 'vers de société'; and to having my personal biography reconstructed from passages which I got out of books, or which I invented out of nothing because they sounded well, and to having my biography invariably ignored in what I did write from personal experience, so that in consequence I am inclined to believe that people are mistaken about Shakespeare just in proportion to the relative superiority of Shakespeare to myself. (Selected Essays, 1917-1932).

I find it difficult to understand how A1 thinks this sentence from Eliot helps his cause. It seems to me to be somewhat in opposition to it. A1 tells us:

I have tried in this article to explain major ways in which Oxfordian methods differ from those used by literary scholars, using Ogburn's book as a case study. (Charlton Ogburn: The Mysterious William Shakespeare.)... First of all, it may be useful to give a summary of the reasons for the traditional attribution.

My comment: I have numbered these items and added my own evaluation in brackets.

1. All the external evidence says the plays and poems were written by William Shakespeare. (This is an oversimplification. If that were all there was to it, I would not be now writing my 29th chapter in my own investigation. The question is, who was William Shakespeare.)

2. A man named William Shakespeare, from Stratford, was a member of the acting company which put on the plays. (This is another oversimplification. I have shown the evidence to be that the man in question called himself or was called by others in his hometown variations of William Shaxper. The change to Shakespeare only occurred after he had joined the Globe company in London.)

3. Heminges and Condell in the First Folio explicitly say that their 'friend and fellow' Shakespeare was the author of the plays. ( We'll reserve judgement on this pending a separate chapter to come on the First Folio.)

4. A monument to his memory was built in the Stratford church. (A1 means Stratford on Avon church, and with that revision his statement is correct. But there was another Stratford - Stratford atte Bow just north of London, of which Hackney was an adjunct, where de Vere had his house. There is evidence to indicate he was buried in a churchyard at Hackney.)

5.There was no other William Shakespeare living in London at the time. (More precisely, no evidence has yet been found that there was another William Shakespeare living in London at the time.)

6. There is no evidence that anyone else, including Oxford, was ever known as "William Shakespeare." (More precisely, until William Shaxper of Stratford on Avon went to London and changed the pronunciation and spelling of his name there was no William Shakespeare that has been found since to have been living in London or Stratford on Avon at that time and known as "William Shakespeare.")

7. Shakespeare of Stratford was consistently recognized as the author after his death and throughout the seventeenth century. (More precisely, some time after his death and for the rest of the 17th century.)

8. There were abundant resources in Elizabethan London for such a man to absorb the knowledge displayed in the plays. (I disagree. 'For such a man' is incorrect. There were resources if one became attached to a patron in the nobility, as did Ben Jonson who in this way had access to a suitable library. Shakespeare gives evidence of legal training, familiarity with the French language, about half his plays are set in Italy, he has some knowledge of marine terminology and seamanship and a remarkably wide vocabulary. He has knowledge of military matters. He has easy familiarity with the lives, duties and relationships of the ruling class, he has tolerant and amused sufferance of the lower classes, generally objects of kindly derision in his plays. This was not within the reach of the poorly educated Shaxper. 'Such a man" as the lowly Shaxper did not have the necessary educational avenues open to him in Elizabethan England without leaving a trace as to how he entered them.)

9. There is no documentary evidence to connect the seventeenth Earl of Oxford with any of Shakespeare's plays or poems, despite the fact that Oxford's life is quite well documented. (I consider this an incorrect statement. As we found in some detail in Chapter 20, Shakespeare in his sonnets tells us he 'bore the canopy.' His sonnets also tell us he was in disgrace, was homosexual, had a black-haired mistress, became lame, wanted his name to die with his body. None of these six distinguishing identifications are known to apply to Shaxper, who therefore cannot be Shakespeare, and therefore William Shakespeare, with or without the hyphenated form, is a pseudonym. Further, all six identifiers apply to de Vere.)

A1 tells us that

Ogburn asserts that the title "Shake-speares Sonnets" with the writer's name first, is "a plain indication that the author was dead." He cites Greenes Groatsworth of Wit as an example and even invokes the orthodox scholar Sidney Lee in support of his claim...

There are dozens of examples of the name of living authors coming first in Elizabethan titles.

This is A1 with the exaggerated claim that we've come to expect from him. He cites Breton, Churchyard, Coryat and other works by Greene. That's 4 authors and six+ works of the dozens he claims, and he's had to dredge up the obscure author Coryat to provide even 4. But he has a point here, though not as strong in evidence as he suggests. I think it leaves the Shake-speares Sonnets claim inconclusive as to whether Shakespeare was dead when they were published.

A1 next says that

Ogburn makes a similarly false claim when he insists that those who occasionally hyphenate Shakespeare's name in print 'can only have been showing that they recognized Shakespeare as a pseudonym.'

A1 cites 5 examples of hyphenation of real names:

Charles Fitz-geoffrey.

(My comment on this is that 'fitz' is a special case. It meant 'illegitimate son of'' and sometimes indicated royal parentage.)

Old-castle

Camp-bell

All-de

Walde-grave.

These are not exactly famous examples, and it seems A1 probably made an effort to find them. But I think we can agree that hyphenation does not necessarily indicate a pseudonym. William Shakespeare as a pseudonym is for a different reason. It's because, as this investigation has shown, Shaxper could not have been Shakespeare the poet/dramatist, and as A1 himself says, there has not been found a real person with that name other than Shaxper (who adopted it.) Further, there are two special reasons why, if de Vere was Shakespeare, he would have adopted it. First, because as Lord Bolebec his armorial crest showed a lion holding a broken spear in its right paw, (a Stratfordian claims there is evidence this came after Edward de Vere's lifetime, but the evidence for it comes from the Elizabethan Garter King of Arms, according to Ward). Secondly, because in a unique incident in 1578 Gabriel Harvey addressed de Vere in public before the Court in which long Latin poem he says "thy countenance shakes a spear." This being in part a backward reference to his poetic ability which Harvey acknowledges, as Pallas Athene the classical patron goddess of poets, was also known as the spear-shaker: and in part urging de Vere to lead the way in taking up arms to defend his country. No other Elizabethan has this evidence to support adopting the pseudonym Shake-speare, hyphenated or not.

A1 continues:

Another anti-Stratfordian chestnut which Ogburn defends... is the absence of Shakespeare's name from Henslowe's Diary.

A1 quotes Ogburn

The absence of [Shakespeare's] name from the most comprehensive rolls of the players in his day is strong indication that his alleged career on the stage is illusory.

A1 continues

and he(Ogburn) finds it odd "that while producing Shakespeare's plays Henslowe never once mentioned his name." He does not tell the reader that these plays were all performed in 1592-4, before Henslowe began mentioning the names of any playwrights or actors at all in the Diary; by the time Henslowe did start writing down names in 1597, Shakespeare was a member of the rival Chamberlain's Men and had no association with Henslowe.

A1 further points out that the names of Robert Greene and Christopher Marlowe are absent despite the fact that Henslowe performed their plays many times.

Here I think A1 may have tripped himself up, because Henslowe was a busy theatre manager, jotting down dates and payments; but Greene died in 1592, and Marlowe in 1593, so by A1's own dating for Henslowe, we would not expect to find entries for either of these playwrights. A1 goes on to mention Kyd (died 1594), Peele. Nashe, and Lodge as also missing from Henslowe's record. But A1 continues

Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillips, John Hemings, and Henry Condell are among the well known actors not mentioned by Henslowe... because... all these men...were members of the rival Chamberlain's Men."

I think we can grant A1 his point here and Ogburn is wrong. But there's still no evidence that Shaxper was a luminary among actors.

A1 next discusses Ogburn's statement about Shaxper's schooling, for which there is no evidence. A1 says there are other Elizabethan writers with similar lack of evidence. This is irrelevant for us because Shaxper wasn't Shakespeare the poet/dramatist.

Then follows Ogburn's claim that Shaxper's death in 1616 "went entirely unremarked." A1 cites John Taylor's reference in The Praise of Hemp-seed (1620), the William Basse poem (discussed in Chapter 26.5d) and the First Folio (1623, which we'll discuss in a later chapter.) This is not very good evidence for eulogies on Shaxper's death, A1 refutes or minimizes the citing by Ogburn of eulogies for Spenser, Beaumont, Drayton, and Burbage and A1 states that all the Burbage eulogies which Ogburn quotes (from Charlotte Stopes) are in undated manuscripts which he admits is 'just like Basse's elegy to Shakespeare.' A1 continues

...and in fact no eulogy for Burbage was printed during the 50 years after his death...

It is true that Francis Bacon and Ben Jonson were both honored with volumes of tributes soon after their deaths, as Ogburn notes, but they are not comparable. Bacon was a Viscount and thus the type of person who normally received printed elegies, and Jonson died 21 years after Shakespeare, right around the time it was starting to become acceptable to honor poets in this way.

It seems to me irrelevant whether or not Shaxper was eulogized after his death, since he wasn't Shakespeare.

A1 states

...he (Ogburn) recognizes that the "William Shakespeare" who wrote the plays was recognized as an actor, so he tries to deny that the Stratford man was an actor while constructing an acting career for Oxford out of whole cloth.

It seems to me that until the true identity of William Shakespeare the poet/dramatist is finally established and his career examined by established scholars in significant detail, none of us knows what the poet/dramatist's acting career was, if he had one, which in our present state of knowledge seems improbable, certainly in the capacity of a successful professional actor.

Next A1 discusses John Davies of Hereford's epigram "To our English Terence, Mr. Will Shakespeare" published in 1610 in Davies's The Scourge of Folly. We reviewed this poem in chapter 26. A1 continues by referring us to Ogburn's treatment of Henry Chettle's preface to Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, Greene's Groatsworth of Wit was discussed in chapter 9. We've ignored Chettle as no one knows what he meant.

A1 points out various shortcomings in Ogburn's statements and assertions.

A1 then comments on Ogburn's discussion of the 1609 Quarto of Troilus and Cressida (this play was discussed in chapter 9). A1 and Ogburn are at odds on this also.

A1 concludes

Ogburn's book is essentially an elaborately presented rationalization for his fiercely-held ideas about who should have written Shakespeare's works, dressed up in the trappings of scholarship but employing a series of double standards which make it impossible to disprove his basic thesis. This is a harsh assessment, but one which I believe would be shared by any Shakespeare scholar who took the time to work through Ogburn's book. I realize that Oxfordians will disagree with much of what I have written, but I hope that it nevertheless causes them to take a second look at some of their assumptions and methods. The one thing which unites Oxfordians and orthodox Shakespeareans is a love for Shakespeare's works, and even if we disagree about some very basic issues, we can agree that it does matter who wrote those works.



We have to compliment A1 on a noble sentiment to end his article. And this concludes, after 5 chapters and 110 pages, our review of the Criticisms of de Vere as Shakespeare the poet/dramatist.

The results of the items discussed in this chapter are:

1. Puttenham: irrelevant

2. Verbal parallels: this does nothing to disprove de Vere as Shakespeare

3. Computer analysis by Elliott and Valenza: their tests prove insufficiently discriminating to say whether or not de Vere was Shakespeare.

4. Barksted: does not exclude de Vere from being Shakespeare.

5. Verse forms: meaningless evidence. Oxford's known literary work is early. Shakespeare's is mature.

6. First Heir of my Invention: ambiguous.

7. Polus: none of this proves de Vere was not Shakespeare.

8. Why I am not an Oxfordian: Some valid points against the Oxfordian cited. This investigation (by EF) is not relying on Oxfordian arguments, and so is not adversely affected.

It seems to me, with the possible exception of SHAXICON, there is nothing in any of the controversies swirling around the available, mostly hearsay or remote, evidence to disprove de Vere as Shakespeare the poet/dramatist. I'm sorry to have to report that Professor Donald Foster has not yet replied to my email, and several months have elapsed since I wrote. Now that he is apparently a consultant on more important matters to the FBI, his former interest in SHAXICON has probably of necessity had to be shelved. In the circumstances I am not satisfied to accept the SHAXICON evidence which seems to provide the unlikely suggestion that the dramatist's subsequent playwriting was markedly influenced by the 'rare words' used in minor roles then in performance and in which he was probably acting. I fail to see what the logical connection can be between these two presumed activities which would have this effect on a writer with probably the largest vocabulary of anyone in the English language.

We can now leave the literary combatants to their endless contentions and move on in our own investigation. Next, we need to consider the dating of plays conventionally said to be later than 1604. De Vere died in 1604. That's a real challenge to de Vere as Shakespeare.

NOTE 1

CROMWELL

This is Thomas Cromwell. He had been a soldier in Italy, a merchant in Flanders, a lawyer in England. He entered Cardinal Wolsey's service and on the Cardinal's downfall took over most of his power. In 1534 the English parliament, after much debate, passed the First Act of Supremacy. This abolished the authority of the Pope in England and gave Henry 8th the title of Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England. It was still the Catholic Church, only the jurisdiction had shifted to England.

In 1535 Thomas Cromwell, a layman, not a cleric, was made Vicar General of England and began an inquiry into the condition of the monasteries (which were supporting the Pope). Cromwell's report disclosed many grave abuses. The major (and richer) monasteries were dissolved, and the monks pensioned off, in 1539.

Cromwell then brought over from Germany Anne of Cleves, to be Henry 8th's next bride. This was a political marriage to prevent the union of France and Germany. Unfortunately for Cromwell, Henry obviously didn't like what he saw when she arrived. He made some rude remarks, and had the marriage declared void All this was in 1540. Cromwell was beheaded, also in 1540. Henry then married Catherine Howard. She was beheaded in 1542.

About 100 years later Oliver Cromwell was a military leader, a Colonel. He was related to Thomas Cromwell. Owing to his victories Oliver Cromwell rose quickly to power during the then civil wars. He led the ensuing Republican administration and became Protector of England. Civil war had erupted in England partly because King Charles 1st supported Catholicism in the by then largely Protestant England. The Scots defeated King Charles in 1646 and sold him to the English Parliament for £400,000. The King refused terms offered by Parliament, hoping for a better deal. Finally he was tried on a charge of High Treason (for causing a civil war), was convicted and executed in 1649.

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