Literature

Guest Blog: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

By Professor Stanley Wells, CBE

It’s not often, when one publishes a book, that a parody of it appears shortly afterwards – or, indeed, ever – but this has happened with Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, the collection of essays that I edited along with Paul Edmondson and that was published by Cambridge  University Press in  April of this year. Round about the time of publication an article appeared in the Evening Standard saying that Alexander Waugh, grandson and editor of the more famous Evelyn, intended to publish a riposte. It didn’t materialize quite as soon as was threatened but a few days ago there appeared on my desk and on Paul Edmondson’s a volume which clones ours. Entitled Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? – note the question mark – and published by an American press which describes itself as providing ‘self-publishing services’ (which one might think of as a vanity press),  it is co-edited with John M. Shahan, described as ‘Chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’. It has a jacket modelled on ours and uses a similar type face.  And like ours it is made up of a number of contributions discussing various aspects of the topic. Over seventy pages print material which has been available on the internet for well over a year. Very soon after the copies arrived the editor of The Literary Review, formerly edited by Alexander Waugh’s father Auberon, got in touch with me to say – are you listening carefully? – that they were publishing a review of our book written by Alexander Waugh, and inviting me to review his book. And then a few days later my co-editor and I received copies of a letter addressed to Peter Kyle, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, of which I am Honorary President, challenging us to take part in a public debate about the authorship of Shakespeare. The letter replicates a challenge also published in the book, where an extraordinarily elaborate format of debate involving a whole week of events and counter-events is proposed.

Intellectual disagreement is welcome but there are several aspects of the Waugh/Shahan volume that I find unpleasant and indeed offensive. Its editors falsely and repeatedly say that our book is published by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. And the back jacket is headed ‘The book the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Doesn’t Want You to read’. It goes on to claim ‘Never has the case against the Stratford man been made so clear and compelling’, describing itself as a ‘withering reply’ to shakespeareour book. Emphasis on the Trust is part and parcel of a slur campaign, repeating a technique common among the doubters, implying that those who defend Shakespeare’s authorship are influenced by mercenary considerations, fearful that if their case is accepted they will suffer financially. In fact our book is published by Cambridge University Press whose Syndics accepted our proposal after receiving reports from several independent and unidentified readers. Moreover almost all of our contributors, who include well over twenty distinguished English and American scholars, have no connection with the Trust.

The essays in the Waugh/Shahan volume rehearse arguments that will come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the ways in which the controversy has manifested itself, and it is endorsed by the usual supporters such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, and other worthies including a ‘Clinical Professor of Psychiatry: Faculty Expert on Shakespeare for Media Contacts, Georgetown University, Washington D. C.’– how sad it is that great Shakespeare actors such as Rylance and Jacobi (who once supported Marlowe as the author but now roots for the Earl of Oxford) should be so ready to bite the hand that has fed them for so long!

The book repeats arguments made elsewhere such as that Shakespeare couldn’t have written the plays because on the evidence of the surviving signatures he had poor handwriting. If that is a valid argument, perhaps someone will soon dispute my authorship of the books I have written. Waugh in his essay repeats claims, which I dispute, that the plays show a detailed knowledge of Italian topography but doesn’t acknowledge that while there is no evidence that Shakespeare went to Italy, equally there is no evidence that he did not. Much, as so often, is made of the presence or absence of hyphens in printed forms of the author’s name. There is no systematic attempt to controvert the arguments for Shakespeare’s authorship which I advance in my essay in our book. As usual, there is an irrational refusal to accept posthumous evidence however strong it may be.

What a pity that the great comic novelist Evelyn Waugh is not in a position to comment on these two books! I should like to have been able to see what his satiric pen would have made of them.

Stanley Wells CBE is Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies of the University of Birmingham, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and the author of Shakespeare, Sex, and Love (OUP). He is also the co-editor (with Paul Edmondson) of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (CUP) and contributes to the website Blogging Shakespeare.

412 Comments

  1. As a student of literature, I tried to approach the authorship debate with an open mind. What I found was exactly as you describe – well researched writings that treat the authorship question with as much respect as they can muster before concluding the inevitable (that Shakespeare wrote the plays), and a series of books that repeat the same arguments again and again with plenty of finger-pointing and accusations against “academics.”

  2. Dear Professor Wells, I’m afraid all these sad attempts to prove Shakespeare is NOT Shakespeare but some other leave me boiling roiling and fuming. It seems to me remarkable that noe of this started till some several hundred years after his death, that the nay-sayers display class prejudice vis a vis the aristocratic pretenders (or, I shouldn’t really be vilifying de Vere and co, as of course HE did not claim to be Shakespeare, and is probably being as traduced as WS himelf. As for the Marloweians, as friend wittily pointed out why would Marlowe be happy to acknowledge authorship of fine but lesser pieces of work (his own plays) but not wish to be known as the writer of Shakespeare.

    Shakespeare, beyond doubt, without question!

  3. Yes, and isn’t the accusation of mercenary motive interesting and a bit of a giveaway? It is a commonplace to attribute to one’s opponents one’s own besetting sin. In an age where sensation=possible profit there’s really not a lot of money to be made from advancing the amazing revelation that Shakespere was the author of his own work, whereas the claim that someone else was will usually catch a penny or two every time it is revived, which is why it crops up every few years with such tedious predictability. As you say, a pity that the older and wiser Waugh is not around to lacerate his foolish scions.

  4. You neglect to mention whether or not this ‘withering reply’ has left you withered. On the whole I infer not.

  5. I’m bewildered here, and lost. We’ve got the plays…yes ? There was no suggestion during Shakespeare’s lifetime that he didn’t write them. Was Ben Jonson wrong ? He knew Shakespeare. This whole discussion seems to have been brewed up by a crowd of sad obsessives. Why don’t they just sit back and enjoys the plays ?

  6. This pseudo-issue is not in every respect a bad thing – it raises Shakespeare’s name among people who never think or talk about him, much less read his work or watch it performed, so that a few might take a chance. And in principle it keeps the field open to the non-specialist to learn something and actually – perhaps – contribute something in Shakespeare studies in the same way that a Rolling Stones ex-roadie added something to knowledge of Sigmund Freud.

    Yet in other ways it’s a shame. What is genuinely interesting about the Bard, that someone like Alexander Waugh ought to find fascinating (the work itself) gets passed by in a squabble that is founded on nonsense, and allows the specialist to patronise the “lay person”.

  7. Thank you for your efforts, Professor Wells, to engage with the doubters. More reasonable heads will prevail.

  8. I really don’t have much interest in these debates. We have an impressive body of work collectively attributed to a man known as Will shakespeare. Did he write them all? I have no idea and at this late date there is no way – short of kidnapping him in a Tardis, to get to the bottom of the debate. That said, the sniping you describe is… as you imply, it’s vanity publishing. Enough said. Just leave it.

  9. At first I thought that listening is like a comedy of Shakespeare. But when I read the text again, and I have translated it, I regret to say that it’s more of a drama. Too bad that you must employ you with such things! There’s actually a lot better things to do, such as reading a book. Or a cup of tea to drink with a friend. Good luck for you.

  10. The fact that they almost copy your cover and with the exception of one symbol, your title, shows a dire paucity of creative imagination on the part of these “authors”. And if they can’t be bored to get basic facts right such as the publisher, then why do they imagine we would put any faith in what they have to say.

    • Karen, Mr. Shahan has answered the accusation pertaining to the publisher (below) thoroughly and lucidly. May I suggest you read it? As for your comment on faith, none of the authors (NB: sans quotation marks) of SBD? ask you to put your faith in their work because it is not needed. What is required is some very critical thinking on the reader’s part, deductive reasoning and an open mind. Oxfordians don’t need to perpetuate age-old myths in order to sustain belief in a kind of demi-god. They prefer to deal with facts.

  11. I don’t think it much matters who wrote the stuff. It’s around now and should be judged on its merits.

    • While I can comprehend with this view in relation to the plays (though even in this context a biography would illuminate much), the poems are a different matter. The sonnets are direct expressions of ideas and feelings using symbols and references that were personally significant to the writer (and presumably his intended audience). Without a biography we have very little insight into these masterpieces.

    • butimbeautiful, had I a farthing for every uttered/written comment such as yours, I’d have enough to buy perfumed Italian gloves. And if you don’t understand the allusion, then I can readily assume you’re not interested in judging the true merits of the works.

  12. It should not be surprising that many people at the time believed Shakespeare to be the poet – as his name was published on poems from 1593 (plays from 1598 – a couple that were not of the same writer). However, the host of testimonials you cite need to be examined one-by-one. A few seem to support Shakespeare the actor as author. A large proportion are ambivalent if not directly negative. Certainly, Greene (Chettle probably – an instance of a writer using the name of a real person) and Jonson’s comments/characters cast doubt on his authorship. Jonson also seems to have written the First Folio epistles of Heminge and Condell (another instance of a master poet using the names of real people – this time while they’re still alive). We have to ask – why? Certainly, the epistles do cement the First Folio to the otherwise unlikely hand of William Shakespeare the actor. The problem is, they’re fake.

    Setting aside the outlandish claims of particular candidates – many of which must be wishful thinking – as there is (notwithstanding a little collaboration) only one real author – there is real doubt about the litigious man who: never left England; had illiterate daughters, no books, or letters (from, or to); “never blotted a line”; profiteered during grain shortages; is pilloried in Every Man Out of His Humour, Return from Parnassus, and Groatsworth of Wit; associated with crooks – at least one of whom (Wilkins) kicked a pregnant woman in the belly; left a stingy will bereft of cultural objects; and who wrote awful epitaphs for himself, a brewer, and an unscrupulous money lender, but no eulogy for Elizabeth or Prince Henry (a little awkward under a pseudonym).

    In fact, it would seem to be the Stratfordian perspective that diminishes the writer that we all admire – by arc-welding this mean biography to works of consistent generosity.

  13. Evelyn Waugh was a seriously good writer–perhaps even a great writer, though I think he missed that target–but, by all accounts, a deeply unpleasant person. His son, Auberon, dispensed with the writing talent but was otherwise not unlike his father. It’s somehow comforting that the Ima Shit persona continues in a third generation.

  14. Stanley Wells complains that “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? – Exposing an Industry in Denial,” edited by myself and Alexander Waugh, is a parody of “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy,” edited by himself and Paul Edmondson. He is right to be concerned. The title and appearance of our book make it clear that it counters theirs, calling into question whether it is “beyond doubt” that the Stratford man wrote the works of William Shakespeare.

    If he were confident about his claim, he would welcome the competition, invite people to read and compare our books, and accept our challenge to participate in a mock trial of the question. If it were really “beyond doubt,” he would jump at the chance to prove it in a mock trial. Instead, he makes it clear that the last thing he wants is a fair and open head-to-head contest.

    Wells says his book is published by Cambridge University Press, while ours is “published by an American press which describes itself as providing ‘self-publishing services’ (which one might think of as a vanity press).” And this man accuses _us_ of being motivated by snobbery. Does anyone really think that Alexander Waugh couldn’t have found a traditional publisher? We only self-published to get our book out quickly, so people could get both points of view. What really irks Wells is the fact that, despite it being a rush job, our book is better than his. Doubters are much more capable than he would have you think, or we couldn’t have done it.

    Wells claims that we falsely say their book is “published by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.” Not so. We _never_ say their book is “published” by the Birthplace Trust. We do describe them as the “sponsoring organization,” and refer to it as “the Birthplace Trust book.” Is that not an accurate description of a book edited by two leading SBT officials, coming on the heels of the SBT’s “Authorship Campaign,” described in detail in the book as if the book were part of it? If we are mistaken in that assumption, all I can say is that we were not the only ones taken in. Stratfordian Emma Smith, in her review of the SBT book in the “Times Literary Supplement” (July 12, 2013), describes it as a book “by Academics ‘directed from Stratford-upon-Avon.’” If, in fact, the Birthplace Trust has a different position on the issue, we would like to hear it.

    Wells says that our “Emphasis on the Trust is part and parcel of a slur campaign…, implying that those who defend Shakespeare’s authorship are influenced by mercenary considerations …” Wells is a fine one to accuse anyone of waging a “slur campaign,” given his many slurs against doubters, all totally false. Does anyone doubt that the Birthplace Trust, in Stratford-on-Avon – a leading tourist destination – has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to rendering a judgment on the question of doubt about Shakespeare’s identity? Does anyone doubt that Wells and Edmondson have a vested interest in the status quo?

    Ironically, Wells criticizes actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance for supporting our book, saying “how sad [that they] should be so ready to bite the hand that has fed them for so long!” The man who wrote that line will never bite the hand that fed him, regardless of the evidence. He could hardly have made it any clearer that his values differ from ours, and Shakespeare’s. Does he criticize Jacobi and Rylance for expressing doubt contrary to what they think is true? No, of course not; the idea is absurd. He criticizes them for truth-telling against their interest. This is what Wells and the SBT are about – not truth, but loyalty to the entity that feeds you.

    Wells says that “almost all of our contributors, who include well over twenty distinguished English and American scholars, have no connection with the Trust.” That may be true, but they were all selected by the two editors, both officials of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. They are also very uniform in their backgrounds, representing just one academic discipline. The contributors to our book are also distinguished, but ours are from diverse backgrounds. Why is none of their twenty-plus contributors from any other relevant academic discipline?

    Wells has remarkably little to say about the evidence in our book, even though it is extensive and some is quite new. He mischaracterizes the issue of Shakspere’s six signatures as one of mere “bad handwriting.” Assuming they are even his (some experts think they were executed by law clerks), he never spelled his name the same way twice, and not once as “Shakespeare.” Our book compares his six signatures to those of almost 40 contemporary writers and actors. Orthodox scholars have never done this in a systematic way, and the result is very revealing.

    Wells says he disputes Alexander Waugh’s chapter on Shakespeare’s detailed knowledge of Italy, but then hedges his bets, saying that “while there is no evidence that Shakespeare went to Italy, equally there is no evidence that he did not.” The chapter is devastating to orthodoxy. If the plays show firsthand knowledge of Italy, how did Shakespeare scholars get it so wrong? If Shakespeare scholars have been so wrong about that, what else could they be wrong about?

    Wells says “There is no systematic attempt to controvert the arguments for Shakespeare’s authorship which I advance in my essay in our book.” Not so. We address his evidence and arguments in the general introduction and in a chapter on “The Missing Literary Paper Trail.”

    Finally, Wells ridicules the mock trial format proposed in our book, but omits that my letter to Peter Kyle, conveying our challenge to the SBT, says that “everything is negotiable except the subject of the challenge and the need to achieve a fair and valid test of the Birthplace Trust claim that the identity of the author of the works of William Shakespeare is “beyond doubt.” Apparently he is not interested in a “fair and valid test” of his claim on a level playing field. People should ask, if the evidence is as clear as Wells says, why not? What is he afraid of?

    John Shahan, co-editor, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?

  15. I should clarify that “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?” was produced in a flash response to news of Wells’ and Edmondson’s intention to publish their book. We originally hoped to publish ours the same day as theirs, and Lumina was able to expedite publication where a traditional publisher wouldn’t have had the flexibility to rearrange their schedules and to produce a 280 page book with only three months lead-time.

  16. I have nominated you for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award! Check it out here
    http://myotherloves.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/award/

  17. Right now I’m reading the Shahan/Waugh Shakespeare Beyond Doubt????? It’s a page turner. Exciting to read FACT based detective work whereas the Trust version is the same fictional platitudes over and over that I’ve read so many times that fail to satisfy any logic that we know about authors of the period. Shahan/Waugh really deliver an indictment of an industry that would surely suffer if tourists went to Stratford as the 1623 post mortem home of the rigged pretender. The sales in t-shirts and bobbleheads would suffer greatly there.

  18. It appears that Professor Wells is not up to actually responding to the challenge of the book he derides. He does not have sufficient information to do so if he could write: “Waugh in his essay repeats claims, which I dispute, that the plays show a detailed knowledge of Italian topography but doesn’t acknowledge that while there is no evidence that Shakespeare went to Italy, equally there is no evidence that he did not.”
    The Italian and Mediterranean plays consistently portray the station and perspective of courtiers. Courtiers traveled by the most secure routes, which included canals. They could afford the more expensive means of transport. These features, and the many specific touches of city or estate buildings imply a person as author who was welcome in the ruling elite of Italian provinces, who traveled and engaged accordingly. For the sake of argument, let us assume Shakspere of Stratford did go to Italy and somehow lived at that social level, adopting all its forms and chivalry, armed with its decorum, wealth, and education.
    By his own statement, Wells admits this is unlikely, i.e., there is no evidence it happened, which there is not. Then, in the same sentence he turns around and says, but there is no evidence it did not either. No evidence introduces the uncertainty that there might be evidence. Touting lack of evidence (when there is ample evidence but unfavorable) is not an appropriate response to a charge that there is no positive evidence. It is simply a verbal ploy to substitute doubt as a parry instead of facing myriad specifics preserved in amber–in the plays themselves.
    In fact there is a long tradition of scholarship that indicates the true author went to Europe, Italy, and elsewhere, and indications that this excursion occurred in the 1570′s. Richard Roe’s fine book, following Shakespeare through Italy and Greece, is only the most recent addition to that tradition. Wells’s amiable know-nothingism adds nothing. He merely plays for time, relying on authority and the status quo to creep past evidence that may be damaging to the Stratfordian hypothesis. The Cambridge Univ. Press book he edited reads like the Politburo platform of entrenched Shakespeare studies. There is much more to the story, most edifying to enjoying the works, but the establishment essentially doesn’t want to know it. This is a failure of intellectual nerve and honesty.

  19. Mr. Wells – absence of evidence (that Shakespeare went to Italy) is indeed evidence of absence. That is why conjecture and speculation are inadmissible in a court of law. It’s also too bad, Mr. Wells, about Shakespeare’s “bad handwriting” as shown by his barely readable six signatures. Unfortunately, it is the only example we have that he could even write.

  20. Professor Wells has hardly anything to say about the evidence in Shahan’s shameful vat of negligently regurgitated, poisonous spittle. This is because the book doesn’t contain anything you could call evidence. Shahan’s book is a shambles. Everything in it comes with fully worn-out and discredited credentials. There’s no thread or logic to the selection of recycled articles, many of which are snippets from the so-called Shakespeare Authorship Coalition rebuttal to The Birthplace Trust’s 60 minutes. Given that deniers wholly missed the point of that exercise, shorn of their original context, these can be seen for the feeble, pseudo-intellectual graffiti they actually are.

    Oxfordian to its rotten core and at its most ridiculous when Waugh himself is explaining how a tide a can be a flood, it has the brass neck not to name the talentless Earl as its subject.

    Oxfordianism Lite is the new De Verean Pragmatism, liberated from the responsibility to defend the self-evidently ridiculous nonsense we saw in the film Anonymous – the film of the conspiracy theory. In it’s first theatre scene, in 1598, we see a Jonson play on stage before any Shakespeare plays have been performed. Marlowe still alive. Venus and Adonis still unpublished. Richard III still unperformed. In the audience, two bastard sons of Elizabeth 1 and one bastard grandson (only two people, mind). Yes folks, it’s the true story of William Shakespeare.

    Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? is the Compendium of Irrational Thinking that fed Emmerich’s travesty, shorn of its worst excesses. There’s no theory. No consistency. No explanation of how Shakespeare was working with Fletcher on Cardenio and Two Noble Kinsmen almost a decade after the Earl died.

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should anyone, especially Professor Wells, sit in a forum and debate this issue in public with these people. Cutting off their oxygen is the correct tactic at this point, (which is why they have issued this whiny, needy challenge). We do not want these people rolling round the TV studios with their feeble claims when the two big anniversaries click into gear.

    My advice to the Professor would be to stay above it.

    Personally, I would limit my response to getting a copy of each book, then dropping the pair on the desk of a CUP lawyer, fixing him with a steely stare and an archly raised eyebrow, before striding airily out of his office humming the theme tune from Inherit the Wind.

    There’s not much red left in the embers. Don’t fan them.

  21. My feelings exactly. Well, not exactly – I would have more to say. Anyway thanks.

  22. To Alfa: I say it is too late ; even Wells, et al know the Shakespeare authorship problem is a fact of literary life. You need no more proof than the existence of Well’s dubious tome. And all your mouth-foaming cannot change that fact.

    • Alasdair Brown

      To Linda Theil: Shakespeare is not a ‘candidate’. He is the author of the plays. The phrase ‘fact of literary life’ is somewhat vague which allows me to re-construct it as ‘the imagination of a small number of amateur literary detectives’ who are not taken at all seriously ( to put it mildly) by the overwhelming majority of people. There is not a single shred of hard evidence for alternative authorship. There is no point in arguing against it. The issue is just a peculiar cultural phenomenon. I agree that we should try to analyse this phenomenon without being rude to others, however difficult that might be.

  23. Alasdair Brown

    William Ray writes: The Cambridge Univ. Press book (Stanley Wells) edited ‘reads like the Politburo platform of entrenched Shakespeare studies.’ Sigh. William, everything you write reads like a wickedly extravagant parody of a Dan Brown novel. You are a wonderful, living, breathing, free advertisement for Shakespeare Beyond Doubt without the question mark. Stanley Wells is right. Evelyn Waugh would have loved you.

  24. Oxfordians can’t even get their own stories straight, much less Early Modern literary history.

    “I should clarify that ‘Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?’ was produced in a flash response to news of Wells’ and Edmondson’s intention to publish their book.” John Shahan, July 31, 2012 at 3:56 p.m. http://interestingliterature.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/guest-blog-shakespeare-beyond-doubt/comment-page-1/#comment-3048

    “The book was not ‘hastily assembled.’ It was more than two years in the making.” Roger Stritmatter, June 28, 2013 6:39:36 a.m. PDT. http://www.amazon.com/review/R1SKKPLVAX1T5Q/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1625500335&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=#wasThisHelpful

    “The truth, of course, is that the book was in planning for a couple of years in anticipation of the Cambridge volume.” Roger Stritmatter, July 6, 2013 9:22:01 a.m. PDT. http://www.amazon.com/review/R1SKKPLVAX1T5Q/ref=cm_cd_pg_next?ie=UTF8&asin=1625500335&cdForum=Fx1YLZOG889Q81J&cdPage=2&cdThread=Tx1ET850WH933PX&store=books#wasThisHelpful

  25. Oh-Oh! Methinks we Oxfordians have struck a nerve! The Stratfordians (poor souls) are reduced to name-calling and launching ad hominem attacks, rather than addressing the issue head-on and actually DEBATING it – i.e., that there is more than ample room for reasonable doubt about the Stratford fellow, Will Shakspere, being the author of the Shakespeare Canon – a sure sign they have nothing left in their quiver regarding their heroe! But, since I’m a “glass is half-full” kinda guy, I’m issuing the following challenge to any Stratfordian who might wish to prove us wrong and kindly produce ACTUAL, DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE that CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY show that the Stratford fellow had left a LITERARY PAPER TRAIL during his lifetime. To wit: SHOW US: 1. evidence of his receiving an education; 2. record of correspondence, especially regarding literary matters; 3. evidence of having been paid to write; 4. evidence of a direct relationship with a patron; 5. extant original manuscripts; 6. handwritten inscriptions, receipts, letters, etc., regarding literary matters; 7. commendatory verses, epistles, or epigrams contributed or received; 8. miscellaneous records in which Shakspere is referred to as a writer; 9. evidence of books owned, given or received, or written in; 10. notice at death as being a writer. Remember, now, no name calling, casting aspersions, etc., etc…just the clear-cut, unambiguous, documented facts about Mr. Shakspere, please! G. Blomquist, Jr.

    • An ideal opportunity to debate looms… early October in Toronto. Will Stratfordians jump at the chance to once and for all deal the fatal blow to the Oxfordian conspiracy theorists, or will they continue to wring their hands and kvetch about an “extraordinarily elaborate format of debate”? Come, come, now… There must be one Stratfordian out there who’s willing to stand by their man, not merely on a virtual forum and oftentimes in anonymity, but live and in person. What say you, Strats? Eagerly awaiting your response…!!!

    • George: Read Ben Jonson’s dedication in the First Folio. Everything you need is right there.

      Everything else you ask for can actually be provided, as you know. His work is evidence of his receiving an education – a perfect match for a midlander from a grammar school – we have a letter to him by fellow Stratfordian Richard Quiney – do you think that is evidence of an absence of correspondence? – there are receipts for payments to Will and Burbage for the same work in the theatre – no original extant manuscripts but good reasons for their disappearance and plenty of reference to them while they were still around – plenty of hand-written inscriptions referring to Will and his work (though not in HIS hand), the largest quantity of commendatory verse showered on anyone at that time, lots of records in which Will is referred to as a writer, no evidence of books owned (I think) and plenty of eulogistic acknowledgement of his death. John Milton wrote the best one but those written by Digges and Jonson are both explicit and unequivocal.

      8/10’s not bad. It’s really just a question of getting those eyes open and understanding what the word ‘evidence’ means. You have to understand that the Oxfordian definition ‘anything that agrees with me’ is not widely accepted outside Oxfordian circles.

      Now why don’t you explain to us how an Earl, who died in 1604, was collaborating with John Fletcher, a dramatist who didn’t appear on the scene until 1607, using a source that wasn’t available until 1605, writing in a genre that didn’t exist when the Earl was alive, for a theatre he never saw and an audience whose taste had moved on?

      • Your response is ludicrous. Is there a way for you to delete it before it’s read by any of your cohorts? I’m sure they’re in cringe mode.

      • Dear Alfa,

        Thanks so much for your quick response! Allow me to address your points of argument, if I may.

        Your opening statement re. Ben Jonson’s dedication to the 1623 First Folio doesn’t address my asking for DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE DURING HIS LIFETIME…I’d be happy, however, to discuss the significance of the dedication in a separate correspondence, if you’d like, because, upon closer scrutiny, Jonson’s tribute to the “Swan of Avon” isn’t as clear-cut as it is supposed.

        Your second point, “His work is evidence of his receiving an education”, is a fine example of circular (and thus, faulty) reasoning, akin to a dog chasing its tail. No doubt Shakespeare (whoever he was) had been the recipient of a truly superb education – both in terms of its depth and breadth; so it begs the question: when and where did Mr. Shakspere of Stratford-On-Avon obtain this vast education? Your documented school records, please?

        Thirdly, Mr. Quinney’s letter to Mr. Shakspere requesting a loan (a letter that was never delivered, by the way) only proves what the record already shows – i.e., that Mr. Shakspere was (among other things) a money-lender…unfortunately, the letter has nothing to do with Mr. Shakspere’s supposed literary career.

        Fourthly…

        I hope you’ll forgive me if I found much of what you wrote in the second paragraph as being a bit fuzzy; for example, your reference to he and Burbage getting paid for work in the theatre leads one to ask: WHAT WERE THEY PAID FOR? There certainly are some records suggesting Shakspere was a supporter/investor of the theatre, and thus, getting paid his “cut” of the gate receipts, and/or paid for the costumes he rented-out to the theatre troop makes perfect sense. But, is it clear – cut, unambiguous evidence that he was the great writer William Shakespeare? Hardly.

        Fifth: you speak of “plenty of hand-written inscriptions” referring to Will and his works, and the “largest quantity of commendatory verse showered on anyone…”. etc., etc. No one is arguing that “Shakespeare” and his works weren’t the object of much praise and popularity. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll find NO ONE (during his lifetime) PRAISING THE STRATFORD MAN AS BEING THE ONE AND SAME William Shakespeare, and that the praise you refer to was of an IMPERSONAL nature, couched within the context of the works themselves.AND REMEMBER: no records have ever been found indicating that he, himself, ever laid claim to being the great poet-playwright, nor any of his relatives, fellow Stratfordians, or supposed fellow writers acknowledging him as such.

        Sixth: regarding your assertion of “plenty of eulogistic acknowledgement of his death” – presumably at or about the time of his demise? – is not an accurate description of the historical facts. When Will Shakspere died, the silence was deafening. There were no eulogies forthcoming from anyone – not from any of his family members, fellow Stratfordians, nor from any of his presumed fellow-writers. No one. Utter silence. And here’s the kicker: the only mention of his passing is found in the Holy Trinity Church Death Register, which indicated the date of death, followed by this three-word entry: “Will Shakspere, gent.”

        Seventh: When you refer to Jonson’s & Digges’ eulogistic writings, you are, of course, referring to those accompanying the 1623 Folio, some seven years after the Stratford man’s death. As I had alluded in my second paragraph above, I’d be more than happy to discuss the First Folio and its related materials with you in a separate letter; you may be surprised to discover the subject matter is far more complex than it would seem at first blush. But, it’s all part of the learning process.

        Your final paragraph lacks specifics…I’m not quite sure what your referring to vis-à-vis John Fletcher…so, rather than guess, perhaps you could provide the specifics so I could give your argument some serious thought and, hopefully, respond in an intelligent fashion, point-by-point, at a later date.

        Alfa, it’s been a pleasure sharing some thoughts with you…the “authorship question” is truly intriguing, thought-provoking, and fun!

        And Remember: “…the most fruitful lesson is the conquest of one’s own error. Whoever refuses to admit error may be a great scholar, but he is not a great learner.” (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe)

        I get back to you soon.

        Peace!

        GB

        • George: Thanks for further proof of your misunderstanding of the word ‘evidence’. None was needed.

          On scrutiny from any distance, ‘Swan of Avon’ is explicit. And consistent with the other contributions in both First, Second and Third Folios. Hinting that it is not, without an explanation, is pointless. You can’t call it argument and you certainly can’t call it rebuttal evidence. It translates as “someone told me something that I can’t remember but I’m sure it was to do with this and it proves you wrong”. Foolish and self-defeating but par for the Oxfordian course.

          The rest of your post follows the same subterranean level of logic.

          The evidence of Will’s education is in what he wrote and what he left us to read. Your own level of your education is discernible in what you write. Just as the level of Oxford’s education is discernible in his.

          Quiney wrote to Will. have you ever written a letter to someone who can’t read or write? For something as confidential as a loan.

          Fourthly. See! I KNEW you were being disingenuous. You knew all along.

          The rest of your post is the usual solipsistic casuistry, trying to rule large amounts of explicit evidence offside because it doesn’t conform to rules you choose to impose. You’ll have to find and read Digges’ second effort before you dismiss it with the rest, by the way.

          My final paragraph, like Ben’s dedication, is explicit. How can Oxford have been collaborating with Fletcher on Cardenio, Henry VIII and Two Noble Kinsmen almost 10 years after he died?

          • Dear Alfa,

            I sense you’re a bit perturbed…relax, sit back and take some slow, deep breaths – no need to hyperventilate, my friend!

            Let’s see, now…oh, yes, I see that you’re still holding fast to your circular reasoning re. “proof” of Shakspere’s education, which apparently goes something like this: Shakspere wrote Shakespeare; and since the Shakespeare canon clearly shows the author had been the recipient of a marvelous education, it obviously follows that Shakspere must have received a marvelous education [even though there’s no documentation (that’s what I mean by “evidence”, by the way) to prove it]! ‘Round and ’round you go, like the proverbial dog chasing its own tail!

            And your “Fourthly” rejoinder above is a hoot! Talk about setting up a “straw-man”, Alfa! You see, most, if not all Oxfordians (myself, included) are quite aware of Shakspere’s documented involvement in the theatre as a bit actor and as an investor/money lender to the theatre…no disingenuousness, there, my friend! I go where the historical records take me. I just need to point out that NONE of the said records even hint of a supposed career as a poet/playwright!

            Your opening paragraph is another example of the “straw-man” tactic, I’m afraid; I refer you to my second paragraph in which I stated my willingness to discuss the posthumous, First Folio materials in FUTURE LETTERS – so, I wasn’t “hinting” at anything or trying to avoid the subject matter, as you seemed to imply above. I was merely trying to get you back on the original topic at hand – i.e., Will Shakspere’s lack of a literary paper trail during his lifetime.

            As for Quiney’s letter…well, it “proves” only two things: 1. Quiney was certainly literate, and 2. Quiney needed a loan from money-lender Will Shakspere. How it sheds any light on the authorship question, however, escapes me!

            What really disappoints, though, is your failure to address my Fifth and Sixth points, but, hey, maybe you CAN produce the documents of Shakspere claiming to be the great writer, or his friends, relatives and supposed fellow writers acknowledging him as such during his lifetime, right? Or maybe you CAN refer us to the extant letters/correspondence between him and whoever else regarding his literary career? And I’m sure you can explain why his last will and testament was COMPLETELY DEVOID of anything of a literary nature? And, of course, there’s the matter of the curious, three-word entry in the Holy Trinity death register: “Will Shakspere, gent.” ( NOT, “Will Shakespeare, great poet/playwright, who will be sorely missed”, or any other sort of flowery language one would reasonably expect to find), as well as the complete and utter lack of eulogies being offered at the time of his demise?

            But I can understand your reticence in addressing these questions – after all, when one has nothing substantive to offer, it’s probably best to simply ignore them, move on, and/or change the subject.

            And speaking of changing the subject…Alfa, I thought we were discussing the Stratford fellow – you know, Will Shakspere of Stratford-On-Avon – the guy you insist was really William Shakespeare? And then, out of the blue, you attempt to divert the conversation by introducing Edward de Vere into the mix! My, my, you due have a penchant for digressing!

            Let me sum-up, then, by quoting Dianna Price from her book “Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography”…”The biography of William Shakspere is deficient. It cites not one personal literary record to prove that he wrote for a living. Moreover, it cites not one personal record to prove that he was capable of writing the works of William Shakespeare. In the genre of Elizabethan and Jacobean literary biography, that deficiency is unique.” Indeed.

            Well, I’ve got to wrap this up – it’s bed time!

            Take care, Alfa!

            “Study is like the heaven’s glorious sun.” [Love’s Labour’s Lost” (I, i, 8)]

            • >> it’s bed time

              6:30 already? Ask Mommy if she’ll help you with your Internet posts tomorrow.

              • What? Reduced to sarcasm, Alfa?

                FYI, it was approaching midnight when I ended my last correspondence…some of us here in Mass. do sleep, you know.

                Now, if you could drop the Don Rickles routine and actually discuss the issue at hand, kindly respond to my last correspondence. But, if all you have left in your quiver are sarcastic quips, just say so…I understand!

                Sincerely,
                GB

                “Skepticism is the scalpel that frees accessible truth from the dead tissue of unfounded belief and wishful thinking.”
                (Skrabenak and Mc Cormick, from “Follies and Fallacies in Medicine”)

                • You fed me a straight line. St Francis of Assissi may have had the will power to resist, but not I.

                  If you are really struggling with all that SAQ 101 stuff, you should go here http://shakespeareauthorship.com/#how

                  • Gads! It appears the wind has been taken out of your sails – or, is it, perhaps, a case of your oxygen having been shut-off? Indeed, defending the indefensible can be a daunting task…I feel for you, my friend!

                    Well, as you limp-off into the sunset, licking your wounds (talk about “struggling with the SAQ stuff”!), I’ll check-out the above-referenced web site, asap, and who knows? There may actually be some honest-to-goodness thought – provoking material therein, or at the very least, it may afford me a few good chuckles!

                    Cheers!

                    “Time’s glory is to calm contending kings, to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.” (The Merchant of Venice)

                    • Excellent, George, real progress.

                      That’s a proper academic’s site though. They only use real evidence there. It’ll feel very unfamiliar at first but you’ll get used to it.

                  • You replied to George: “That’s a proper academic’s site though. They only use real evidence there. It’ll feel very unfamiliar at first but you’ll get used to it.”

                    From the site:
                    <>

                    I know I speak for all Oxfordians when I extend to you my most heartfelt gratitude for directing us to this web site and particularly this issue, which has plagued Shakespearean scholars as well as aficionados since time immemorial.

                    Well… since the mid-1800s. Close enough.

                    • From the site:
                      The Droeshout Engraving: Why It’s Not Queen Elizabeth
                      Antistratfordians since the mid-1800s have found something fishy about the famous Droeshout engraving that graces the title page of the First Folio. In 1995, Lillian Schwartz tried to put a scientific gloss on such speculations when she wrote an article for Scientific American which used computer modelling to suggest that the Droeshout portrait is actually of Queen Elizabeth. But as Terry Ross shows in this article, Schwartz’s methods left a lot to be desired, and although her very tentative conclusions have been accepted as gospel by eager antistratfordians, a fresh look shows just how different Shakespeare and Elizabeth were.

            • “Shakspere wrote Shakespeare; and since the Shakespeare canon clearly shows the author had been the recipient of a marvelous education, it obviously follows that Shakspere must have received a marvelous education.”

              An Oxfordian double falsehood: you invent a marvelous education that your imaginary Shakespeare “must have had” so you can say the Stratford player never had it; you invent an Oxford who was capable of this astonishing tuition, if it existed. Well, it didn’t. And he wasn’t.

              Centuries of scholarship have shown the author Shakespeare to have been a country boy with a good sound grammar school training—above all in rhetoric—and boundless curiosity. He was an intellectual Autolycus, “a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles.” It drove Ben Jonson crazy.

              Oxford’s writings, on the other hand, reveal him as he was: a privileged lout, a C+ Augustus whose last tutor dismissed him at thirteen, having failed to dent his adamantine self-absorption. (“Don’t have to. I’m an Earl. Nyah.”) His mangled Latin is a testimony to his tutors’ lost battles. He did have good scholars to teach him—no expense spared—but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

              • Dear Nat,

                The depth and scope of the education so manifest in the works of William Shakespeare is self-evident and beyond dispute…unfortunately, no one has ever produced any documentation indicating if, when, or where Mr. Shakespere obtained it.
                Maybe you know something the rest of the world is unaware of (like, documented proof of his education?).

                Edward de Vere’s education, on the other hand, fills the bill to a T…

                As for the QUALITY of de Vere’s writings…well, let’s see how some his CONTEMPORARIES felt about that “privileged lout’s” literary efforts:

                A. In 1586, William Webbe wrote this of de Vere in his “A Discourse of English Poetry”:

                “I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honourable and noble Lords and Gentlemen in Her Majesty’s Court, which, in rare devices of poetry have been and yet are most skillful; among whom THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EARL OF OXFORD MAY CHALLENGE TO HIMSELF THE TITLE MOST EXCELLENT AMONG THE REST.” (from C. Ogburn’s “The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality, 2nd ed., p. 687…emphasis mine).

                B. Or, how about the time (1566 – when de Vere was 16) Gabriel Harvey addressed de Vere at Audley End, in Essex (before Queen Elizabeth and her entire court), opening, thusly:

                “Thy splendid fame, demands even more than in the case of others the services of A POET POSSESSING LOFTY ELOQUENCE. Thy merit doth not creep along the ground, nor can it be confined within the limits of a song. It is a wonder which reaches as far as the heavenly orbs.” (C. Ogburn, p.596-597…emphasis mine)

                C. In “The Art of English Poesie” (1589) – usually attributed to George Puttenham – this is said of de Vere:

                “And in her Majesty’s time that now is are sprung up another crew of Courtly makers [poets], Noblemen and Gentlemen of Her Majesty’s own servants, who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, OF WHICH NUMBER IS FIRST THAT NOBLE GENTLEMAN EDWARD EARL OF OXFORD.” (C. Ogburn, p.687-688…emphasis mine).

                Hmmmm…their assessment of Edward de Vere’s literary skills seems to be a bit at odds with yours, Nat. Makes your “C+” grade look a bit -shall we say- off the mark? Maybe it’s because they didn’t have an ax to grind, and you do?

                Have a great evening!

                GB

                • “The depth and scope of the education so manifest in the works of William Shakespeare is self-evident and beyond dispute.”

                  Only to the self-deluded. His friends and fellows knew better. Francis Beaumont (who was inseparable from Shakespeare’s collaborator John Fletcher) wrote:

                  Here I would let slip
                  (If I had any in me) scholarship,
                  And from all learning keep these lines as clear
                  As Shakespeare’s best are, which our heirs shall hear
                  Preachers apt to their auditors to show
                  How far sometimes a mortal man may go
                  By the dim light of Nature.

                  Do you know any writers at all? Their education mostly takes place out of school, in their conversations and their reading–and for playwrights, in their work with companies. It cannot be documented–not without a videographer intruding.

                  “Edward de Vere’s education, on the other hand, fills the bill to a T…”

                  Oh, really? After thirteen, he had no more lessons. He joined Gray’s Inn, but there is no record that he ever studied there. His mangled attempts at legal Latin bear this out. If a Stratford ten-year-old had written “summum totale” or “in nos,” he would have been birched as a idler and a dunce. There is no learning in his letters, no intellectual interests, no curiosity–and certainly no gift with words.

                  As for your parrot-praises of his genius–oh dear. Do you really not understand what’s going on here? They were praising Oxford’s rank not his poetry. They were looking for patronage. Again, the poetry itself is proof.

                  Oxford write Shakespeare? Hah! I doubt he could have *passed* Shakespeare–not unless he bought his papers from that fellow Munday.

                  C+ was generous. “See me” in circled red.

                  • We can be pretty sure Beaumont knew who the real writer was, but it’s very hard to know what to make of the Beaumont quote you cite. Consistent with all the personal testimony on Shakespeare – it is opaque.

                    Beaumont and Fletcher’s A King and no King is prefaced with a dedication (from the publisher) to Sir Henry Neville, which indicates that Neville had, at the least, an editorial role in its creation:

                    Worthy Knight, Sir Henry Nevill, I present, or rather returne unto your view, that which formerly hath beene received from you, hereby effecting what you did desire.

                  • Nat, Nat, you’ve got to do better than that!

                    You may reject the above-noted accolades as just so much ass-kissing, but that’s merely your less-than-objective take on it – not particularly convincing, my friend, only testimony to your blindness. Forgive me if I put much more weight in the opinions of those who actually knew the guy.

                    By the way, since you’re such a tough grader on literary compositions, perhaps you could share your thoughts on and grade the following two compositions:

                    A.
                    “Let him have time to tear his curled hair. Let him have time against himself to rave,
                    Let him have time of Time’s help to despair, Let him have time to live a loathed slave,
                    Let him have time a beggar’s orts to crave, And time to see one that by alms doth live,
                    Disdain to him, disdained scraps to give.”

                    B.
                    “And let her feel the power of all your might, And let her have her most desire with speed,
                    And let her pine away both day and night, And let her moan none lament her need,
                    And let all those that shall her see Despise her state and pity me.

                    Most people would recognize the uncanny similarities between the above -noted verses… how about you, Nat?

                    And, since you claim Beaumont, Fletcher, and Shakspere were such good buddies, I can only assume you have DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE OF THEIR PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE – as in being “pen-pals” so to speak? And while you’re at it, do expound upon all of the UNAMBIGUOUS, DOCUMENTED, LITERARY PAPER TRAIL Mr. Shakspere left behind during his lifetime, such as:

                    1. Evidence of education (save your breath about citing the Shakespeare canon – since that’s merely an exercise in circular reasoning, and would simply prompt me to ask, again: So SHOW ME YOUR DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE of Mr. Shakspere’s education).

                    2. Evidence of having been paid to write…

                    3. Evidence of a direct relationship with a patron…

                    4. Extant original manuscript(s)…

                    5. Hand written inscriptions, receipts, letters, etc., regarding literary matters…

                    6. Commendatory verses, epistles, or epigrams contributed to or received…

                    7. Miscellaneous records (e.g., referred to personally as a writer)…

                    8. Evidence of books owned, written in, borrowed, or given…

                    9. Notice at death as being a writer (this could be problematical, Nat, since the Death Registry at Holy Trinity Church affords your hero only this terse, mundane entry: “Will Shakspere, Gent”)

                    Well, I’ll not keep you any longer…you’ve got a lot of homework to do!

                    GB

                    • > A.
                      > “Let him have time to tear his curled hair. Let him have time against himself to rave,
                      > Let him have time of Time’s help to despair, Let him have time to live a loathed slave,
                      > Let him have time a beggar’s orts to crave, And time to see one that by alms doth live,
                      > Disdain to him, disdained scraps to give.”

                      > B.
                      > “And let her feel the power of all your might, And let her have her most desire with speed,
                      > And let her pine away both day and night, And let her moan none lament her need,
                      > And let all those that shall her see Despise her state and pity me.

                      The thought struck me that you really and truly cannot see the differences in those excerpts, can you? You think one is just as good as the other, don’t you?

                      You’ll never be anything other than an Oxfordian, and you deserve it.

                    • Dear Tom,

                      Sigh………What’s with the fevered name-calling and vitriolic invective? But, hey, I can understand and, to some extent, sympathize with you…you are (like me) only human, after all!

                      It kinda reminds me what H. L. Mencken once observed: “Human beings never welcome the news that something they have long cherished is untrue. They almost always reply to that news by reviling its promulgator.”

                      I really would like to carry-on a civil discussion with you and Alfa, Ned, et al – the operative word being “civil”, of course. I think it’s safe to say we are all passionate lovers of literature, yes? So what do you say?

                      Oh, by the way, to answer your rhetorical question at the conclusion of your previous letter: Yeah, I really DO see a remarkable similarity in the aforementioned A and B verses…not because I believe de Vere wrote them, but because they’re tantalizingly similar!
                      Your CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, of course is always welcomed!

                      Peace!

                      GB

                    • GB:

                      Look, don’t parrot those Diana Price absurdities at me, and smirk as if you’d just invented them. They’ve all been nuked a thousand times; and like cockroaches, they keep scuttling back. (Price is aristocracy among your cult: she’s sane enough to know she’s gerrymandering the evidence.)

                      Here, start with this:

                      http://stromata.tripod.com/id115.htm

                      Since Tom Reedy was kind enough to comment on your A & B, I’ll comment on your 9.

                      The eulogy attributed to William Basse begins:

                      Renowned Spencer, lye a thought more nye
                      To learned Chaucer, & rare Beaumont lye
                      A little neerer Spenser to make roome
                      For Shakespeare in your threefold fowerfold Tombe

                      It had to have been written after 6 March 1616, when Beaumont died, and before the 1623 First Folio went to press, since Ben Jonson responds to it: “I will not lodge thee by / Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye / A little further, to make thee a roome.” It was clearly well-enough known to be answered in print by a great poet, in his own elegy for Shakespeare: pride of place. Though Basse’s poem wasn’t printed until 1633, it was widely circulated in manuscript. At least 27 copies (I believe a few more have turned up) are known. *Surviving* copies: given how rare it is for any such ephemera to be preserved, there must have been hundreds. That thing went viral. Many of the copies are titled: “On Mr Wm Shakespeare he dyed in Aprill 1616” or “On Willm Shakespear buried att Straford vpon Avon, his Town of Nativity.” You can’t get much clearer than that.

                      Who gave a damn when your Oxford died?

                      Nat

  26. Linda: It’s too late. I couldn’t agree more.

    There’s no way back. Oxfordians were delighted when Emmerich, an egotistical fantasist with a grudge against Britain and John Orloff, a man who still thinks humour is a mediaeval bodily fluid, ransacked the crate of Oxfordian ideas and turned out a major film and got it distributed by Sony Pictures.

    Now the cat is out of the bag and there is no return path to the shores of sanity.

    You theory has been responsible for the presentation of one of Europe’s greatest statesman as a monomaniacal, vindictive, nepotistical, Stalinist philistine and one of history’s greatest, most intelligent and best-educated Heads of State as a crazy, manipulable, nymphomaniac, senile nutter. In its attempt to attach Will’s work to De Vere, Anonymous treated the explosion of art and culture at the height of the Late Rennaisance as if it were taking place in the Dark Ages. It turned the work of the greatest English playwright into failed propaganda.

    And it’s your film.

    There he is in the middle of it.

    The Earl of Oxford, writing play after play in his study while Will is out murdering the competition.

    It’s no good saying “we’re not as ridiculous as that but some of it is right”. Now the cat and the bag are no longer in the same parish.

    Oxfordianism = Anonymous = Offensive Deluded Fantasy

    The only mistake academics have made lay in thinking they had to do anything to counteract the film’s effect on the debate. In fact, if they’d made the themselves, they could not have done a better job in damaging the Oxfordian Fallacy.

    We just need to keep pointing at it.

    • Alfa:I take it you didn’t like the film, Anonymous. For the record, I didn’t have anything to do with its production, nor do I have a favorite Shakespeare authorship candidate. I do tend to think the Stratfordian candidate is not in the running.

  27. Au contraire. I don’t think I could sit all the way through it again but I am delighted it got made.

  28. Ed Boswell

    This “debate” is like a rabbit hole that Wells and others are trying to simply cover up with their “authority”. I’ve never read or heard him address the “coincidences” that align Oxford with the plays and sonnets. He avoids them like the plague. Anyone who thinks someone with little education who spent all of his recorded time dealing in loans, lawsuits and supporting a family in a time without public libraries or an English dictionary (1604) is gullible in my estimation. “Creativity” only accounts for so much, and the ingredients used by the bard match those which entailed the life of Edward de Vere. The study of law, the closeness to Lord Burghley’s personal writings, the love and experiences with Italy by an “Italianate Earl”, the familiarity with Ovid translated by Oxford’s maternal uncle, and the English Sonnet introduced into the language by his paternal uncle clearly point away from Stratford. Throw in the fact that Oxford employed both Anthony Munday and John Lyly as personal secretaries, and we have a plausible scenario whereby the superhuman canon created by a certain “Shake-speare” makes sense. To think a part-time actor whipped them out in his spare time under candlelight with pen and quill by divine wit is pure fantasy, and denotes a lack of experience with the creative process in general. There is a reason why Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance have dismissed the Stratford Myth, just as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain did over a century ago. And to think the Stratford Tourist Trap, from which Wells receives both money and unwarranted prestige, has no dog in this fight shows one to have little insight into human nature in general.

    • Ed. Does it sometimes seem as if the rest of the world is speaking in an entirely foreign language?

    • Alasdair Brown

      ‘To think a part-time actor whipped them out in his spare time under candlelight with pen and quill by divine wit is pure fantasy,’

      Erm, what else do you think he could have written with? And how else could he see? Or do you mean the secret of De Vere’s genius was a computer plus electric light?

      • Ed Boswell

        De Vere had someone on his payroll to write down whatever it was he wanted transcriped, nitwit. He also had Anthony Munday and John Lyly as personal secretaries, and he was the patron of Oxford’s Men. He had a stellar education, he went to law school, he had the main medical source for “Shake-speare” as his personal physician. His maternal uncle translated Ovid. He was tutored by Lawrence Nowell, who had the sole copy of Beowolf. He was brought into the home of Sir Thomas Smith at the age of 7, to be taught latin, with access to a world class library. He had the ways and means to produce expensive plays, and he had the protection of the Queen to lampoon courtiers who would have had Shaksper’s head for doing so. Your wit is dim, Alasdair Brown, which is why you cling to the Stratford Myth that someone as dull as Shaksper had the ingredients at hand to produce the Shake-speare Canon. Oxford was surely an obnoxious and self-satisfied royal who loved exhibiting his superior education and worldliness after his Grand tour of Italy, but you can’t say he was a two-bit actor with a known history devoid of anything literary. By the way, any idea why Oxford’s in-laws received the Dedication to the First Folio? Figure it out with your computer and electric light, hotshot.

        • Ed Boswell

          TRANSCRIBED, typo, sorry about that

        • >>but you can’t say he was a two-bit actor with a known history devoid of anything literary.

          You can, however, say that he was an dull and mediocre poet, with a minute range of interests who couldn’t have produced an adequate e line in iambic pentameter if his life depended on it.

          You can say that his life and profile are a staggering mismatch with that of the Elizabethan professional playwright and that however small you count the actual evidence of Will’s authorship, the amount of evidence supporting the idea that Oxford wrote the work is smaller by at least 10 orders of magnitude.

          • Ed Boswell

            Alfa, the evidence of Will’s authorship is non-existent, in my view. Zero to the tenth power is zero. Have you read Sidney Lee’s biographical profile of the Earl of Oxford? It was before 1920, and should be considered “pure” in that respect. It contradicts your pontifications on the subject. I consider you to be diseased in this debate. I would deal with your cognitive dissonance elsewhere if I were you. Unlike you, I would invite some new information on this fascinating mystery, and would stand corrected should any solid proof emerge that contradicts what I instinctively know to be most likely. I don’t think you could handle anything that shattered the Stratford Myth. You’d go into full denial, which is why I consider your thoughts and words to be worthless to this debate/question/mystery.

            • Yes, Ed. I understand that the evidence for Shakespeare, in your view, non-existent.

              Your view is an extreme, minority view, not given so much as a nanogramme of credence by any reputable academic or scholar from any reputable English faculty anywhere on the planet.

              Unlike you, I do not close my eyes to the manifold reasons why this is so.

              The first is the actual evidence for Shakespeare. The physical bits and pieces. Not a mountain but not a molehilll either.

              The second is the complete and utter absence of any evidence to the contrary. Smoke and mirrors from the small entrenched cohort of people like yourself who cannot argue a case, who do not understand concepts like ‘cognitive dissonance’ bandied about by people on your side who can argue a case (but are just as deluded). But there’s no evidence anywhere. None.

              The third, and most conclusive, and her we do get to mountains and gulfs, anyone who reads the work or understands thing one about Elizabethan poetry and its development in the latter half of the 16c, can see the total impossibility of a connection between the work of Shakespeare and the work of Oxford. The man who wrote ‘Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood,’ never wrote a line of Shakespeare’s. He never even got to the foothills of the same mountain.

              http://bardfilm.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/newly-discovered-shakespeare-poem.html

              There is no debate/question/mystery.

              • Ed Boswell

                The small amount of evidence you refer to points away from Stratford. What have we? A restraining order. Business records with pained signatures. A death notice not listing him as a famous poet or dramatist. A journal by his son in law who gushes over meeting Michael Drayton, and never mentions that he lives in the house of one of England’s most important dramatist and poet. Illiterate parents. No books or bookcases in his 3 page, one sentence will. No executors mentioned to take care over his unpublished work. Being alive during the time of King James’ epic bible project, without being involved in any way. Not having a private scribe to take down his words when imagining scenes for plays. I could go on, but suffice it to say that your “evidence” is damning, and leads an open mind to question the attribution of the works because of cryptic allusions to a “Stratford Moniment”, penned by a “Swan of Avon”. I’ve harbored doubts about Oxford, and have studied up on him as much as possible. I think it is highly relevant that he had eminent members of the Elizabethan stage on his payroll. His elevation of the English language could not have occurred, IMO, with John Lyly, who was employed by Oxford for a long period of time. Assigning the work to a single person is a mistake, and Oxford had employees who could very well have helped to have the work staged. I don’t see Shaksper being able to afford staging these plays, plays which evidence points to being originally staged for the Queen. I’m not one to attack the Stratford Man, as he seems to have been involved, even if obliquely, with the works. I have a feeling it was from dealing with corrupted copies, and claiming authorship which Ben Jonson found to be laughable at the time. Shaksper is crushed by the weight of the Shakespeare Canon, and given a level playing field of having minimal wealth and no assistance from employees, so is Oxford. Oxford had a scribe to write things down, Shaksper didn’t. Oxford had eminent personal secretaries, Shaksper didn’t. Oxford had acting companies under his patronage. Shaksper might have been associated with the Lord Chamberlain’s men, but it is not accurate to call them “his company”, which Stratfordians do with reckless abandon, along with claiming that Southampton was his patron, in spite of ZERO proof that they even knew each other. Remember that we all were raised to believe the Stratford Myth. Some of us had doubts, but let it rest, especially when reading of Baconian ciphers and seances. But the doubts have never left many of us, and the story as told of “Gentle Will” is not unlike the story of the manger, which was staged in a barn, and smells of B.S.

                • Alasdair Brown

                  Thank you Mr Gish. That was very interesting. We’ll let you know. There’s a Kool-Aid dispenser on the corner of the next street, by the way

  29. I’d like to correct something I said in my first comment above (#15). Stanley Wells wrote of SBD?:

    “Its editors falsely and repeatedly say that our book is published by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.”

    I replied:

    Not so. We _never_ say their book is “published” by the Birthplace Trust. We do describe them as the “sponsoring organization,” and refer to it as “the Birthplace Trust book.” Is that not an accurate description of a book edited by two leading SBT officials, coming on the heels of the SBT’s “Authorship Campaign,” described in detail in the book as if the book were part of it? If we are mistaken in that assumption, all I can say is that we were not the only ones taken in. Stratfordian Emma Smith, in her review of the SBT book in the “Times Literary Supplement” (July 12, 2013), describes it as a book “by Academics ‘directed from Stratford-upon-Avon.’” If, in fact, the Birthplace Trust has a different position on the issue, we would like to hear it.

    Before saying that “we _never_ say their book is ‘published’ by the Birthplace Trust,” I searched the interior of our book to verify it. Professor Wells has called to my attention, however, that on the back cover we do say, “‘the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon has published a book insisting….” I didn’t write that blurb, but I’m certainly responsible for it, and I sincerely apologize to Professor Wells and the Birthplace Trust for having overlooked the error. It will be corrected in any future edition. The rest of my reply stands.

    • Alasdair Brown

      I read the free extract from Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? on Amazon. There is something else that John Shahan should retract. He asks the question: ‘Why did (Shakespeare) leave no bequest to…Richard Field, the printer of the poems that made “Shakespeare” famous, and who supposedly also grew up in Stratford.’

      That ‘supposedly’ is a classic ‘weasel word’, subtly inserted to cast doubt on a hard and undisputed fact which Shahan knows is very strong evidence not only for Shakespeare’s link to Stratford but for his friendship with a man who helped to start him on his career as a writer.

      There is absolutely no supposition involved. Richard Field was born in Stratford on November 16th 1561. He lived in Bridge Street, very close to Shakespeare’s family. Field’s father was a tanner and, like Shakespeare, he must have attended the Grammar School.

      ‘Supposedly’ is a little word which blows a little smoke. But enough to blur historical truth.

      How much more smoke is there in this book?

  30. Alasdair Brown

    If there’s anybody reading this blog who loves Shakespeare , knows his plays and sonnets reasonably well and is tempted to take Oxfordian claims seriously, there is a very simple thing you can do which won’t take more than half an hour or so of your life.

    Google De Vere’s letters and read a couple at random: tedious, whining, appallingly written stuff, usually begging for money.

    Is this the man who wrote Hamlet?

    Then Google De Vere’s poetry and read two or three.

    Is this the man who wrote the sonnets?

    Having endured ten minutes or so of this pedestrian clodhopping, can you honestly say you can find the tiniest little spark of linguistic inventiveness , the smallest ability to come up with an interesting metaphor and develop it?

    Are you really prepared to argue for this man being Shakespeare on the basis of such spectacular mediocrity?

    • “Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
      To digg the dvst encloased heare.
      Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
      And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.”

      The Great Author wrote, or allowed these words to be used as his epitaph. Is this the man who wrote Hamlet?

      • It’s a tombstone epitaph. Tell us what’s so bad about it.

        • “Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
          To digg the dvst encloased heare.
          Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
          And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.”

          cf. “Nothing can we call our own but death
          And that small model of the barren earth
          Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.”

          Two views of death, plaited into verse. Which would Shake-speare have preferred?

          One of thousands of incongruities that make you scratch your head and ask, “Stratfordians actually believe this?”

          • Alasdair Brown

            Everything Will wrote had a clear objective including this . It is a functional piece of verse designed to scare away grave robbers, necrophiliacs and desperate Oxfordians with pick axes and shovels . As such, it is punchy, scary, memorable and entirely fit for purpose.

            • There must be many other epitaphs similar to Will’s carved on the headstones of famous literary men and women! I’ll let you know ASAP……. Commencing to Google now!

              • There are these things called books . . . .

                Reader woulds’t thou more have known?
                Aske his story, not his stone.
                That will speake what this can’t tell
                Of his glory. So fare well

                Robert Herrick for Ben Jonson. A whole new authorship quest in that one.

          • Your quotation is irrelevant. Give us a four-line epitaph from the era that you think is worthy of the True Author’s tombstone.

      • So Shakespeare had editorial control over what was written on his tombstone? That’s quite an accomplishment.

  31. Geoffrey Green

    Mr. Alasdair Brown must be secretly hoping that the uninitiated will not take the time to do as he suggests and search out the writings of Edward de Vere. What are we to do when to do when the reader stumbles on this?:

    “The labouring man that tills the fertile soil,
    And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not indeed
    The gain, but pain; and if for all his toil
    He gets the straw, the lord will have the seed.

    The manchet fine falls not unto his share;
    On coarsest cheat his hungry stomach feeds.
    The landlord doth possess the finest fare;
    He pulls the flowers, he plucks but weeds.

    The mason poor that builds the lordly halls,
    Dwells not in them; they are for high degree;
    His cottage is compact in paper walls,
    And not with brick or stone, as others be.

    The idle drone that lahours not at all,
    Sucks up the sweet of honey from the bee;
    Who worketh most to their share least doth fall,
    With due desert reward will never be.

    The swiftest hare unto the mastive slow
    Oft-times doth fall, to him as for a prey;
    The greyhound thereby doth miss his game we know
    For which he made such speedy haste away.

    So he that takes the pain to pen the book,
    Reaps not the gifts of goodly golden muse;
    But those gain that, who on the work shall look,
    And from the sour the sweet by skill doth choose,

    For he that beats the bush the bird not gets,
    But who sits still and holdeth fast the nets.”

    Or this:

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

    After I had perused your letters, good Master Bedingfield, finding in them your request far differing from the desert of your labour, I could not choose but greatly doubt whether it were better for me to yield you your desire, or execute mine own intention towards the publishing of your book. For I do confess the affections that I have always borne towards you could move me not a little. But when I had thoroughly considered in my mind of sundry and divers arguments, whether it were best to obey mine affections or the merits of your studies, at the length I determined it better to deny your unlawful request than to grant or condescend to the concealment of so worthy a work. Whereby as you have been profited in the translating, so many may reap knowledge by the reading of the same, that shall comfort the afflicted, confirm the doubtful, encourage the coward, and lift up the base-minded man, to achieve to any true sum or grade of virtue, whereto ought only the noble thoughts of men to be inclined.…”

    Or this:

    “Fram’d in the front of forlorn hope past all recovery,
    I stayless stand, to abide the shock of shame and infamy.
    My life, through ling’ring long, is lodg’d in lair of loathsome ways;
    My death delay’d to keep from life the harm of hapless days.
    My sprites, my heart, my wit and force, in deep distress are drown’d;
    The only loss of my good name is of these griefs the ground. …”

    Or this:

    “Were I a king I might command content;
    Were I obscure unknown would be my cares,
    And were I dead no thoughts should me torment,
    Nor words, nor wrongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears;
    A doubtful choice of these things which to crave,
    A kingdom or a cottage or a grave.”

    Or this, written at the time of Queen Elizabeth’s death:

    “…I cannot but find a great grief in myself to remember the mistress which we have lost, under whom both you and myself from our greenest years have been in a manner brought up and, although it hath pleased God after an earthly kingdom to take her up into a more permanent and heavenly state wherein I do not doubt but she is crowned with glory, and to give us a prince wise, learned and enriched with all virtues, yet the long time which we spent in her service we cannot look for so much left of our days as to bestow upon another, neither the long acquaintance and kind familiarities wherewith she did use us we are not ever to expect from another prince, as denied by the infirmity of age and common course of reason. In this common shipwreck, mine is above all the rest who, least regarded though often comforted of all her followers, she hath left to try my fortune among the alterations of time and chance, either without sail whereby to take the advantage of any prosperous gale or with anchor to ride till the storm be overpast.”

    • I see, Geoff, that you aimed for the sublime while I proffered the ridiculous. Again. ;-)

    • Alasdair Brown

      I found the De Vere poem Mr. Geoffrey Green chose rather moving because I own about twenty poems very like this written by my great, great grandfather who was a Victorian Sunday School teacher and every Saturday afternoon he would sit down and pen similar tum-ti-tum chunks of pious platitudes and received wisdom for his little charges. I am grateful to Mr. Green for helping me understand exactly who it was that inspired him. I have made a brief list of some of the things that excite me about Will ‘s poetry and have used De Vere’s poem to give a mark out of ten for each feature:

      Ambiguity:0; Wordplay:0; Development of ideas:0;Originality of metaphor:0; Startling imagery:0 Complexity 0; Unpredictability of rhyme:0; Playfulness with metre :0 ; Unpredictability of closure:0; Humour:0; Wit:0;Interest generated in poem’s persona: 0; Sense of person being addressed:0; Ability to resist embarrassing alliteration:0.

      I could go on…

      • Geoffrey Green

        Alasdair Brown, isn’t the point to have other people make their *own* judgment about the quality of de Vere’s writing and any likeness it might or might not have to Shakespeare’s? Or should everyone just accept your expert opinion and save us from all that tedious Googling and thinking?

        • Alasdair Brown

          Geoffrey, isn’t it rather the point that we are having a debate about whether or not De Vere’s poems bear any resemblance at all to Will’s work? And that you’re now not defending the qualities of the poem you posted?

        • “Alasdair Brown, isn’t the point to have other people make their *own* judgment about the quality of de Vere’s writing and any likeness it might or might not have to Shakespeare’s?”

          That’s the exact opposite of the point.

          If you want to believe, like post-modernists do, that the Energizer Bunny commercials and Macbeth are equivalent cultural achievements then go ahead and believe whatever you think you can see. But the study of literature, and the arts generally, involves the process of discrimination.

          You teach people to discriminate by showing them (amongst other things) that there is a difference between a genius who is such a narrow observer of the human condition that his staggeringly brilliant work seems to contain all of it, and a plodding wastrel in search of a sinecure who believes the world owes him a living and occasionally expresses his woes in mediocre verse.

          Once you can discriminate between their verse, you won’t be able to see the Earl in the Bard any more. He’ll vanish like the Cheshire cat.

          So the subject is relevant AND worthwhile.

          • Geoffrey Green

            Alfa, I did not say the subject could not be relevant and worthwhile. I was discussing the point of Alsdair Brown’s suggestion that interested parties Google Edward de Vere’s letters and poems. Try and stay up to speed here.

            • Geoffrey Green

              Sorry, typo, “Alasdair” Brown.

            • I quoted what you said, in case you had forgotten, at the head of my post. Try to keep the sarcasm level below ‘nauseous’.

              • Geoffrey Green

                Yes, you quoted me, but you seemed to have missed the context.

                Were you being sarcastic when you said, “…in case you had forgotten…”?

                • Are you being sarcastic when you claim I seem ‘to have missed the context’? You didn’t answer my point, you hinted that you had said or meant something else, despite the fact that I had quoted the portion of your response that I was specifically replying to. You then made a platitudinous, sarcastic jab at my intelligence.

                  The subject is Oxford’s verse and whether it is comparable to Shakespeare’s.

                  And I am not the one failing to to stick to it.

    • And you really thinks this helps the case for Oxford-as-Shakespeare? It’s more indicative of your literary judgement, or lack of it, I should say.

      • Geoffrey Green

        Mr. Ready, I have no need to help the case for Oxford as Shakespeare. If you and Alfa and Alasdair feel it does not, then good for you. Others may feel differently.

        (Of course your manners, or lack there of, I should say, may indicate the strength of your argument.)

    • > The labouring man that tills the fertile soil,
      > And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not indeed
      > The gain, but pain; and if for all his toil
      > He gets the straw, the lord will have the seed.

      It helps to read this in the voice of Daffy Duck.

  32. Paul Crowley

    Alasdair Brown suggests that De Vere’s letters are tedious, whining, appallingly written stuff, usually begging for money.

    Maybe. The great bulk are written to his father-in-law (Lord Burghley) who would probably not have appreciated a better style. I doubt if roughly equivalent letters from (say) Byron. Shelley, Joyce, Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, etc., were much different.

    As regards De Vere’s poetry — firstly he published none under his own name and the attributions are dubious. Secondly, without a context, criticism is almost necessarily mistaken. Take the sonnet “Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart? . . “. This is truly bad — but it’s meant to be bad. It is a parody of the style of his (poetic et al.) rival at court — Walter Raleigh. The Queen became infatuated with this low-born courtier around 1578. The poem is similar to some of the canonical sonnets, e.g. Sonnet 30: “When to the Sessions of sweet silent thought”. This is likewise an appalling — and deliberately appalling — piece of work. However, look up the ‘official’ commentaries, and you’ll find not a word of criticism. Yet, as poetry, it’s indefensible.

    My point is that you should not be too hasty in judging the quality of any literary (or artistic) work. Your prejudices (and ignorance of context) will determine your initial judgement — and probably your final one.

  33. What are we to make of this?

    Geoffrey and Ankaz extolling Oxford’s work to the skies and Paul claiming Oxford’s poetry is ‘deliberately’ awful or someone else’s.

    Time to make you minds up, boys. Perhaps we could start with Bedingfield’s Introduction to Cardanus’ Comfort. A key piece for Thomas Looney, founder of the clan. He detected the ‘mind of a great poet’ in its ‘terse genius’ and ‘wealth of figurative language’.

    Anybody care to count the figures of speech in the ‘wealth’ and see if they come up with the same number I do?

  34. If dalliance with muses is unchastity, then Oxford died a virgin, slightly snogged.

    Tell me, Oxfordians, have you ever actually *read* the Earl of Oxford? Let’s look at what he wrote, authentically: his letters in his own hand, with his seal and signature. Acknowledge them: this thing of drabness is your own. They’re dated, so you can’t pretend they’re juvenilia. Don’t say that he dared not reveal his genius to his enemies: his letters were meant to persuade. His living, his ambition, and his honour were at stake. He chose the perfume of his gloves for court with most exquisite care — could he not pick his words?

    http://oxfraud.com/node/183

  35. Dr. Wells:

    Denialists adore a public debate. It gives them a stage to strut and fret on, and a chance to overwhelm all reasoned argument with a firestorm of fantasy. The syndrome is well-studied: “The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Sam Harris describes the technique as ‘starting 10 fires in 10 minutes.'” (Rational Wiki)

    I would not engage.

    • Oh, don’t be such a killjoy, Nat. Perhaps Mr Wells is deliberating whether or not to book a flight to Toronto. We’d love to see him “engage” in public, one-on-one.

      • What’s the use? Like the Black Knight in Monty Python, you won’t believe you’ve lost.

        ARTHUR: What are you going to do, bleed on me?
        BLACK KNIGHT [hopping on his last leg, with both arms whopped off]: I’m invincible!
        ARTHUR: You’re a loony.
        BLACK KNIGHT: The Black Knight always triumphs!

    • Alasdair Brown

      Excellent post about the Gish Gallop, Nat. Do you think Ed Boswell might be personal secretary to Duane Gish?

      Oxfordians do get a mention on Rational Wiki, along with spiritualists, crystal healers and vaccine denialists.

      Here’s a rather good quote on RW about anti – Stratfordianism:

      In 1959, Louis B. Wright argued that the phenomenon of anti-Stratfordism was best understood in terms of the sociology of cults:
      ‘Various cults have arisen to advocate the authorship of this or that candidate. These cults have all the fervor of religion, and indeed, the whole movement is permeated with emotion that sweeps aside the intellectual appraisal of facts, chronology, and the laws of evidence. The disciples of the cults, like certain other fanatic sectarians, rail on disbelievers and condemn other cultists as fools and knaves. . .They have discovered “truth” according to their lights, and they are angry and unhappy when the world refuses to embrace it.’

      I now await the predictable Oxfordian post which says: ‘Aha, but what else is Stanley Wells but the leader of a Cult?’ And Ed Boswell will be hastily penning an entry on him for Rational Wiki.

      • Sent from my iPad

      • Thanks, Alasdair. Spot on.

        Oxfordians, like other cultists, tend to have anosognosia: “a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability.” They don’t know what they don’t know.

    • Ward Elliot has a good post in today’s SHAKSPER in which he makes a comment (regarding his bet with Michael Egan) that applies to anti-Strat and Oxfordian arguments also:

      “Most people deal with challenges on one of two ways: sensitive and responsive or not-so-sensitive and not so responsive. There are good arguments for both. Under the sensitive scenario, we would have felt duty-bound to respond challenges seriously, even flat-earth ones, accept whatever transaction costs they entailed, and respond to every point seriously and politely. No one could do this with every flat-earth bright idea on offer; there are far too many of them, some dismissible out of hand, many not.”

      That’s a good description of anti-Strat arguments: “flat-earth challenge”.

  36. No need to quote. I “got” the reference, thank you.

    Large møøse on the left half side of the screen in the third scene from the end, given a thorough grounding in Latin, French and “O” Level Geography… which is more than I can say for Willie Shax.

  37. Who is the Black Knight?

    “What plague is greater than the grief of mind?
    The grief of mind that eats in every vein;
    In every vein that leaves such clots behind;
    Such clots behind as breed such bitter pain;
    So bitter pain that none shall ever find
    What plague is greater than the grief of mind.”
    Edward de Vere

    “She is so hot because the meat is cold;
    The meat is cold because you come not home;
    You come not home because you have no stomach;
    You have no stomach, having broke your fast;
    But we that know what ’tis to fast and pray,
    Are penitent for your default today.”
    Shakespeare

    “I am that I am”
    De Vere (letter to Burghley, blasphemous quote from Genesis)

    “I am that I am”
    Shakespeare (Sonnet 121)

    “Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart?”
    de Vere (the earliest recorded Elizabethan sonnet)

    “Who taught thee how to make me love thee more?”
    Shakespeare (Sonnet 150)

    “In constant truth to bide so firm and sure”
    de Vere (same sonnet)

    “Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy”
    Shakespeare (sonnet 152)

    “Whereby when they be dead indeed, yet make we them live, as it were, again through their monument… And in your lifetime, again I say, I shall give you that monument”
    de Vere (1573)

    “your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read”
    Shakespeare (Sonnet 81)

    “For truth is truth though never so old, and time cannot make that false which once was true”
    de Vere (letter to Robert Cecil, 1603)

    “”Truth is truth To the end of reckoning.”
    Shakespeare

    “Provided that yf such husbond as she shall att thend of the saied three Yeares be marryed vnto or attaine after doe sufficientlie Assure vnto her & thissue of her bodie landes Awnswereable to the porcion by this my will given vnto her & to be adiudged soe by my executours & overseers then my will ys that the said cl li shalbe paied to such husband as shall make such assurance to his own vse.”
    Willm Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon (1616)

  38. Mikael: I could hardly have chosen two better examples than your first selections. Can you see the author of one in the other??

  39. Geoffrey Green

    Sorry, loosing battle, Alfa.

  40. Alasdair Brown

    Mikael, If you and Geoffrey get the same pleasure from reading De Vere as you do from Shakespeare, that’s fine. I am not going to argue with that. But you cannot just bombard a public forum with bits of De Vere’s writing and assume that the Shakespearean qualities you find in them are self- evident.

    Do you take issue with the benchmarks for comparison that I offered? Do you have some of your own that I failed to identify?
    Why will neither of you commit yourself to defending De Vere’s poetry?

    And why on earth have you juxtaposed another bit of Hopalong De Vere containing a single idea, repeated at the end, with an extract from a speech from The Comedy of Errors which is alive with developing thought and full of human interest? They can certainly be contrasted but why are they in any way comparable?

    Didn’t Popeye the Sailorman also say: ‘I yam what I yam’ ?

  41. Alasdair Brown

    And I found a great pub quiz question: ‘Why specifically is one of Gloria Gaynor, Popeye, Iago, Eminem, Dido and God the odd one out and which is it?’

  42. http://harpers.org/blog/2010/09/oxford-my-mind-to-me-a-kingdom-is/

    One of the two or three poems publically acknowledged by de Vere under his own name after his youth. (~1588) There will be some reading this comment blog who are not supercharged with petty venom. They may appreciate it.

    • Alasdair Brown

      My mind to me a tin mine is,
      It’s not a theatre, that’s for sure;
      So now I think I’ll write to Liz
      And give up my search for metaphor.

      • Alasdair Brown wrote:

        My mind to me a tin mine is,
        It’s not a theatre, that’s for sure…

        Oh, brilliant!

    • > One of the two or three poems publically acknowledged by de Vere under his own name after his youth. (~1588)

      Sorry, but once again making things up does not count as evidence. You might try consulting “The Authorship of ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Steven May, RES 26:104 (Nov., 1975), pp. 385-94. May’s suggestion that Oxford wrote the poem is whisper thin, which he acknowledges.

  43. There will also be some who prefer to see it attributed to Edmund Dyer.

    I see how plenty surfeits oft,
    And hasty climbers soon do fall;
    I see that those which are aloft 15
    Mishap doth threaten most of all:
    They get with toil, they keep with fear:
    Such cares my mind could never bear.

    If it’s Oxford, it’s written on his best day ever. Nothing else in the Oxford canon is this metrically agile,

    • If “it’s Oxford, it’s written on his best day ever. Nothing else in the Oxford canon is this metrically agile,”–Alfa@Oxfraud

      It was most likely written as a lyric in the 1580’s, perhaps after his wife died, since it is associated with, even attributed to, Byrd. Oxford was praised by both Byrd and Farmer as a superb musician/composer. He had collaborated with them then. Sonnets to Sundrie Notes of Music contains more examples of musicality. Poetry was almost entirely vocal, and in the atmosphere of Elizabeth’s court and the great houses naturally given to musical formulae. The courtly lyrics are included in the Shakespeare apocrypha because some are too good to say they are not Shakespeare. (cf. Whenas thine eyes hath chose the dame) So they (Feuillerat et al) split the difference and said maybe. Never mind that Shakspere never got close to anything courtly. Considering the charming interludes of the comedies, it is suspicious he was not recorded to have had any musical instruments in his house or mentioned in his will. Making a real problem type-casting a miser to some of the most expansive lyricism in any language–for somebody.

      • Why is that at all suspicious? Lorenzo da Ponte, son of a tanner, penniless for half his life, arguably the greatest librettist of all time, counted Casanova and the Holy Roman Emperor among his friends, yet he never learned, properly, to play the piano or any other musical instrument.

  44. Paul Crowley

    Alasdair Brown suggests that De Vere was a weak poet. Based solely on what little has been attributed to him, and its generally poor quailty, that is not unfair. But that misses the point. In his day, De Vere’s reputation was stellar. “Steven May writes that Oxford was Elizabeth’s “first truly prestigious courtier poet … ”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_de_Vere,_17th_Earl_of_Oxford

    Given his social status, we’d expect much of his work to survive in print. Oxfordians maintain that it has — but under his pseudonym, a much more famous name.

    Alasdair Brown asks
    ” . . Do you take issue with the benchmarks for comparison that I offered? . . ” (These were: Ambiguity:0; Wordplay:0; Development of ideas:0;Originality of metaphor:0; Startling imagery:0 Complexity 0; Unpredictability of rhyme:0; Playfulness with metre :0 ; Unpredictability of closure:0; Humour:0; Wit:0;Interest generated in poem’s persona: 0; Sense of person being addressed:0; Ability to resist embarrassing alliteration:0.)

    These are not benchmarks — but they form a useful start. However, not one of them is any use if you don’t know what the poet was saying, nor whom he was addressing. I have already given the example of Sonnet 30 — a deliberately appalling poem, universally praised by Stratfordian commentators; not because they are necessarily incompetent, but because they wear Stratfordian blinkers.

    I will happily contrast an Oxfordian with Stratfordian readings of many of the canonical Sonnets — using your ‘benchmarks’. Like all Stratfordians, you have not the beginnings of a clue as to what any of them are about. So, for you, your ‘benchmarks’ can have no purchase.

    • Were ‘t aught to me I bore the canopy,
      With my extern the outward honouring,
      Or laid great bases for eternity,
      Which prove more short than waste or ruining?
      Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
      Lose all, and more, by paying too much rent,
      For compound sweet forgoing simple savour,
      Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent?
      No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
      And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
      Which is not mix’d with seconds, knows no art,
      But mutual render, only me for thee.
      Hence, thou suborn’d informer! a true soul
      When most impeach’d stands least in thy control.

      Start with this one.

      • Just curious, Alfa…

        Could you kindly paraphrase this (Sonnet 125) as Stratfordians understand it to mean- i.e., what’s it about/what’s its context?
        Are REAL, FLESH & BLOOD, HISTORICAL people being represented within or, is it merely an isolated “exercise” in toying with random thoughts (and the sonnet form) by the Stratford fellow?

        I’ve just begun studying Hank Whittimore’s tome on the sonnets (entitled “The Monument”)…as you may already know, there’s a subset of Oxfordians who believe in the “Prince Tudor Theory” (PTT) and that the sonnets provide intimate, autobiographical insights into de Vere’s psyche at various times in his life, within the context of the many intrigues swirling about the Elizabethan court (and, in particular, the “Essex Rebellion” is of critical importance).

        I’ll pass along Whittemore’s line-by-line take on this particular sonnet, asap…then, we can compare and contrast interpretations…should provide a lot of grist for discussion!

        Peace!

        • Sonnet 125: The pure love I offer you is more real, valuable, and eternal than anything on this mortal earth, and no one, not even you, can make me not love who I love.

          That’s one Strat’s interpretation.

        • Sorry, George.

          “I will happily contrast an Oxfordian with Stratfordian readings of many of the canonical Sonnets”

          Paul said he was going first. Let’s be quiet and let him think.

  45. Instead of equating Oxfordians to the devil, I think it is time for all Stratfordians to relax and not be afraid of the devil. Oxfordians may seem devilish in refusal of the traditional biography but they have rejected it because it does not match up to the works. Oxfordians also believe the 17th earl of Oxford had a life that more closely emulates the characteristics found in the great dramas. The parallels between the Stratford man’s life and the known canon tend to be less than a handful, whereas Oxford’s life exceeds perhaps a thousand correlations. Too numerous to argue here in comments.

    • We’ll need a list of parallels between the works and lives of Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, Francis Beaumont, Thomas Heywood–but you get the picture–before anybody will take your methodology seriously. At the moment nobody does except a few thousand people out of how many–7 billion now? That’s not likely to change anytime soon, though I’ve been hearing that the new paradigm is just around the corner (and has been since 1850 or so). That’s just the way it is.

    • “devilish in refusal of the traditional biography but they have rejected it because it does not match up to the works.”

      A technique which has absolutely zero validity in attribution technique.

      ZERO. We might look at the Dyer/Oxford poem I quoted above and think ‘hmmmm, this sounds a bit (a lot) too humble and stoic for Oxford’ but you can’t undo a reasoned attribution on that basis. If you would like to cement the attribution to Dyer (and I would) there is a mountain to climb – it can’t be done from a desk with Google.

      ‘Deluded’ is the word, by the way – not ‘devilish’. Pity is the emotion. Not fear.

  46. Alasdair Brown

    Dear Fellow Oxfordians,
    Re: sonnet 125
    Please! On no account should you attempt to think for yourselves!
    Put your trust in my tripe.
    It’s all here.

    Lots of Love

    Hank Whattabore x

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=KAY39S87vpgC&pg=PA650&lpg=PA650&dq=would+it+matter+to+me+if+I+bore+the+canopy+today+Elizabeth&source#v=onepage&q=would%20it%20matter%20to%20me%20if%20I%20bore%20the%20canopy%20today%20Elizabeth&f=false

  47. Paul Crowley

    Sonnet 125 is not one I would have chosen, since it’s such a beast. I have a 3,600 word essay on it, which I could post here. But this is not an appropriate forum for such detailed and complex work. I suggest that we take this discussion to the unmoderated forum:: humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare. This is accessible through Google Groups, but is much more easily managed with a ‘news-reader’ program. such as Thunderbird. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsreader_%28Usenet%29.
    Let me know your views on this.

    In the meantime, let’s consider broad issues. The poet talks of ‘bearing a canopy’. In Elizabethan England this necessarily alluded to that born over the monarch by high-born nobles. The Stratford man would not have come within a social mile of such a role.

    Line 2: ” . . With my extern the outward honoring . .” implies ” With my internal thoughts the inward dis-honoring”. No subject would say (or imply) such a thing publicly — so there is clearly much else going on. This is explicable (just about, and with complexities) with Oxford as the poet, but has no purchase whatever if the Stratford man wrote the line — which is why all the standard Stratfordian commentators simply skip it.

    Line 3 ” . . Or layd great bases for eternity . .”. Here the poet states that (among other things) he is fully aware of the greatmess of his literary achievements. Whereas, according to Stratfordians, he wrote only for the money.

    Line 4 ” . . Which proues more short then wast or ruining . .”. What waste or ruining did the Stratford man ever experience? (There is no need to elaborate on Oxford’s life in this regard).

    The rest of the poem is packed with religious allusions. The poet was clearly very much bound up with religious issues (almost necessarily the case for an active participant in late Tudor political life), and (as most Shakespeare commentators agree) the poet loved Catholic form and ritual. The Stratford man would never have seen a Catholic ceremony. But England was Catholic for the first nine years of Oxford’s life, and he would have seen the religion in full flow in Italy.

    Compare my few brief comments with pointless vapourings you can see in any of the standard Stratfordian commentaries on this Sonnet.

  48. Alasdair Brown

    Line 1: Paul, have you noticed how some sonnets begin in the vernacular , as if responding to something somebody has just said: ‘Oh never say’; ‘Alas ‘tis true’; ‘ ‘tis better to be vile than vile esteemed ‘ and so on?

    ‘Were’t aught to me’ sounds as though he’s just been accused of seeking fame or high position and he’s responding by saying that even if he was offered the chance of bearing the canopy, it would mean nothing to him. ‘Bearing the canopy ‘ doesn’t need to have a literal meaning. It could easily have been a commonly used idiom for achieving celebrity. This is written with a common sense hat on rather than a Stratfordian one.

    • Alasdair: Some of the sonnets were written, perhaps in the evening, in response to something that was said by someone earlier in the day. ‘Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;’ (90), for example, like 125, seems to be a continuation of something. I can’t say it’s proved to be a wildly popular idea, though . .

      • Managed to Cut the words “I have always thought” from the beginning of that post.

      • Alasdair Brown

        Alfa: I think 124 and 125 are sonnets in which he’s brooding on the same conversation. 124: ‘If my dear love were but the the child of state…’

        His love is not influenced by the other person’s position in the social hierarchy any more than he needs to carry the canopy to enhance his self-esteem?

        • I agree.The same things are preying on his mind.

          No, it was builded far from accident;
          It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
          Under the blow of thralled discontent,
          Whereto the inviting time our fashion calls:

  49. How amazing that you should dismiss the critical history of the Sonnets as pointless vapouring. How ironic that in the same post you should also make the same purblind, agenda-centric misreadings as so many of your fellow Oxfordians. Or fail to spot the self-delusion in the claim ‘all the standard Stratfordian commentators simply skip it.’ when this Stratfordian has made it his first choice for discussion.

    Firstly Oxford didn’t bear the canopy. I know you have carefully avoided saying he did but he came no nearer the office than Will did. Oxfordians have now comprehensively lost this historical argument and it appears that some of them now understand the subjunctive mood.

    Hank agrees. The poet did not bear the canopy. The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t. He is addressing himself to someone who did. The fact that ‘The Stratford man would not have come within a social mile of such a role’ is partly the point of the poem, entirely missed in all Oxfordian analysis. I don’t know where you get ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘inward dishonoring’ from ‘extern’ and ‘the outward honouring’. BEING A COMMONER, lines 2-3 are about other things he has NOT done. He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots. These great bases don’t last anyway, he says in line 4.

    5-8 Leading straight on, on the same subject, he says courtiers who depend on favour and flattery waste their lives. In his oxymoronic coupling, pitiful thrivers, Will shows once again, his extraordinary command of economy. He refers to the pitiful state of those whose whole existence is an attempt to thrive by flattering their betters. He needs but two words to do what has taken me sixteen. Whereas there’s hardly a line of Oxford that wouldn’t benefit from cuts. Nothing remotely popish here. It’s clearly someone addressing another person, higher up the social scale complaining about the meaningless superficiality and the emptiness of courtly life.

    9-12 The poet is offering is a true soul, poor but free and not mixed with seconds, polluted by the insincere courtly art of flattery. The word ‘poor’ is here used in its monetary as well as its metaphysical sense. Unmistakably, once again, the work of someone addressing a person higher up the social ladder. Unmistakably the work of someone capable of self-sacrifice, a trait completely absent from Oxford’s nature.

    The final couplet is a metrical tour de force, so far beyond Oxford’s reach and capability it scarcely needs discussing. Someone has clearly been gossiping and Will’s plea to ignore whatever has been said and learn to valuer the true soul is one of the great ornaments of the English language.

    The idea that Strats are afraid to discuss this sonnet is truly laughable.

    It would be hard to find anything LESS likely to have been written by the 17th Earl of Oxford than Sonnet 125.

  50. Paul Crowley

    Alasdair Brown writes ‘Were’t aught to me’ sounds as though he’s just been accused of seeking fame or high position and he’s responding by saying that even if he was offered the chance of bearing the canopy,

    The standard Stratfordian dodge is to change the meaning of the words “We know better than the poet what he intended to say”. Our poet ALWAYS respected grammar. Here he uses the past tense: “[I] bore the canopy . .”. It’s not “Were’t aught to me that I would have born the canopy if I was asked” — or any other abomination of that nature.

    Alasdair: ‘Bearing the canopy ‘ doesn’t need to have a literal meaning. It could easily have been a commonly used idiom for achieving celebrity.

    You’d need good grounds to support such a theory. You have none at all. There were thousands of other roles that could theoretically have worked, e.g. “Were I the Groom of the King’s Close Stool”.

    alfa@oxfraud.com writes: How amazing that you should dismiss the critical history of the Sonnets as pointless vapouring.

    Find one paragraph or even one sentence that isn’t pointless vapourising.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: “Firstly Oxford didn’t bear the canopy”

    The Queen attended numerous events where a canopy was employed, or might have been. There is a picture of one over her at a wedding on June 23rd,1600. The names of those who bore the canopy that day are not recorded. The same would have applied to the great bulk of similar occasions throughout her long reign. Given Oxford’s rank, and his near-constant presence close to her during the first half of her reign, he very likely bore the canopy on numerous occasions. http://beingbess.blogspot.ie/2012/06/on-this-day-in-elizabethan-historyjune.html

    alfa@oxfraud.com: that some of them now understand the subjunctive mood.

    How is “[I] bore the canopy” subjunctive? Is “I kicked the dog” subjunctive as well?

    alfa@oxfraud.com: The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t.

    IF your reading had any basis in reality, you’d be able to find support for the Stratman’s socialist and anti-royalist sentiments elsewhere in the canon. Good luck with your search.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: He is addressing himself to someone who did.

    Yeah, yeah. The yeoman-poet, son of a tanner, is likely to criticise the political and hierarchical views of his noble patron. What kind of historical fantasy-world do you think the Stratman inhabited?

    alfa@oxfraud.com: I don’t know where you get ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘inward dishonoring’ from ‘extern’ and ‘the outward honouring’.

    There would be _no_point_ in telling us about his ‘extern’ unless he was implying that his ‘intern’ was substantially different.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: BEING A COMMONER, lines 2-3 are about other things he has NOT done. He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots.

    What would be the point in telling anyone ANY of that? Would it have been news to his supposed patron? Or to anyone else?

    alfa@oxfraud.com: These great bases don’t last anyway, he says in line 4.

    How can eternity not last? You may be an idiot. The poet certainly wasn’t.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: 5-8 Leading straight on,

    Do you recall the phrase “pointless vapourising”. Were you seeking to prove my argument? The comedy of your ‘reading’ of the first four lines is plenty for the present. Would you please write a paraphrase.

  51. Part of the problem in communicating a thousand corollaries to the great dramas from the earl of Oxford’s life is that Oxfordians do not make their intentions very clear. And, worse, Stratfordians deliberately mask Oxfordian objectives in the hope of making them disappear.

    First, “Stratfordians” exist because “Oxfordians” exist. So let’s review Oxfordian objectives which indeed are overall iconoclastic. I feel I can voice them here because of my early introduction to the leading contributors of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, including youngster, Charles Beauclerk, at the time in his early twenties.

    To be direct, the primary objective hasn’t changed: that is, the goal of toppling the Stratford icon. Quite simply to reject the narrow traditional biography, and deprecate perhaps half the Shakespeare scholarship still circulating that interprets the texts based on the Stratford man. This rejection comes clearly from primarily a few centuries research of matching up the earl of Oxford’s life to the intrinsic characteristics in the known canon of “Shakespeare” dramas and poems. The second objective: moving the national “Birthplace Trust” to its rightful place quite a bit North-East, near Castle Hedingham, Essex.

    Another key objective: the diversion of government funds away from the Royal Shakespeare Company (which currently manages “Shakespeare” projects of L100 million an up) to the development of Shakespeare productions sponsored by leading Oxfordians and their related charities. Hopefully, this becomes a positive influence for productions which enlighten audiences better about the complexities in the sacred works, and especially from understanding the life of the true author.

  52. Alasdair Brown

    Hi there Greg! We were talking about Sonnets 124 and 125. It would be great to hear you explain ( with close reference to the texts of course) why you think De Vere wrote them. Go on- you know want to! You iconoclastic devil, you.

  53. Going back to First Principles? Here’s T J Looney, the great man himself.

    “”our case will either stand or fall” as readers are convinced that De Vere’s poetry does in fact “contain the natural seed and clear promise” of Shakespeare’s verse …”

    Your case didn’t stand. It fell.

      • Alasdair Brown

        Thank you Geoffrey but this contains the same examples as Mikael sent more or less. Without looking at the names of the authors you can tell immediately which is which because De Vere just doesn’t do figurative language, imagery or metaphor well, if at all. And Oxfordians who try to big up De Vere’s poetry never look at these features. Even, if he uses a similar patterning devices like parallelisms, De Vere’s thoughts are simple and ‘in your face’ whereas Shakespeare is always infinitely more complicated , economic, subtle with ideas being developed rather than being re-stated in different ways – which is De Vere’s poetic trademark. I have no idea what you think the single, strongest piece of evidence for authorship is because Oxfordians always seem very reticent to answer this. Whatever it is, De Vere as poet is a complete non-starter.

    • Complete nonsense, as usual, showing how little you know of both Shakespeare and de Vere’s poetry.

  54. Paul Crowley

    2nd attempt to post

    Alasdair Brown writes ‘Were’t aught to me’ sounds as though he’s just been accused of seeking fame or high position and he’s responding by saying that even if he was offered the chance of bearing the canopy,

    The standard Stratfordian dodge is to change the meaning of the words “We know better than the poet what he intended to say”. Our poet ALWAYS respected grammar. Here he uses the past tense: “[I] bore the canopy . .”. It’s not “Were’t aught to me that I would have born the canopy if I was asked” — or any other abomination of that nature.

    Alasdair: ‘Bearing the canopy ‘ doesn’t need to have a literal meaning. It could easily have been a commonly used idiom for achieving celebrity.

    You’d need good grounds to support such a theory. You have none at all. There were thousands of other roles that could theoretically have worked, e.g. “Were I the Groom of the King’s Close Stool”.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com writes: How amazing that you should dismiss the critical history of the Sonnets as pointless vapouring.

    Quote one paragraph or even one sentence that isn’t pointless vapourising.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: “Firstly Oxford didn’t bear the canopy”

    You don’t know this. The Queen attended numerous events where a canopy was employed, or might have been. There is a picture of one over her at a wedding on June 23rd,1600. The names of those who bore the canopy that day are not recorded. The same would have applied to the great bulk of similar occasions throughout her long reign. Given Oxford’s rank, and his near-constant presence close to her during the first half of her reign, he very likely bore the canopy on numerous occasions. http://beingbess.blogspot.ie/2012/06/on-this-day-in-elizabethan-historyjune.html

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: that some of them now understand the subjunctive mood.

    How is “[I] bore the canopy” subjunctive? Is “I kicked the dog” subjunctive as well?

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t.

    IF your reading had any basis in reality, you’d be able to find support for the Stratman’s socialist and anti-royalist sentiments elsewhere in the canon. Good luck with your search.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: He is addressing himself to someone who did.

    Yeah, yeah. The yeoman-poet, son of a tanner, is likely to criticise the political and hierarchical views of his noble patron. What kind of historical fantasy-world do you think the Stratman inhabited?

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: I don’t know where you get ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘inward dishonoring’ from ‘extern’ and ‘the outward honouring’.

    There would be _no_point_ in telling us about his ‘extern’ unless he was implying that his ‘intern’ was substantially different.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: BEING A COMMONER, lines 2-3 are about other things he has NOT done. He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots.

    What would be the point in telling anyone ANY of that? Would it have been news to his supposed patron? Or to anyone else?

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: These great bases don’t last anyway, he says in line 4.

    How can eternity not last? You may be an idiot. The poet certainly wasn’t.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: 5-8 Leading straight on,

    Do you recall the phrase “pointless vapourising”. Were you seeking to prove my argument? The comedy of your ‘reading’ of the first four lines is plenty for the present. Would you please write a paraphrase.

  55. Alasdair Brown

    ‘Wer’t aught to me I kicked a dog ‘ is not past tense. It’s the eliiptical grammar of speech. People don’t use full grammatical form in speech. When Shakespeare chooses to imitate authentic speech or thought patterns, he doesn’t either. What you say about ‘our poet always respecting grammar’ is incorrect.

    If Shakespeare were to use the full grammar he would say: ‘if the act of kicking the dog were to contain any excitement for me, then I would definitely have already kicked a dog. ‘How can you possibly claim that is simple past tense? He uses the elliptical subjunctive which means he omits the conditional ‘if”, one phoneme of the subject ‘it’ and most of the predicate of the full sentence.

  56. Seems I was wrong about Oxfordians understanding subjunctives. My theory about them never looking past the first four lines is holding up pretty well, though. You can’t win ’em all.

  57. Paul Crowley

    Alasdair Brown wrote: Wer’t aught to me I kicked a dog ‘ is not past tense. It’s the eliiptical grammar of speech.

    The relevant clause is simple past tense. Try a modern equivalent on the person nearest to you: “It does not bother me that I kicked a dog”. Ask them if you are admitting to a fact: namely that you kicked a dog, In Sonnet 125 the poet is stating a plain fact: “I bore the canopy”. He says it meant nothing to him.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: ‘How can you possibly claim that is simple past tense? He uses the elliptical subjunctive which means he omits the conditional ‘if”, one phoneme of the subject ‘it’ and most of the predicate of the full sentence.

    The rules of interpretation demand that you take the simplest and most obvious meaning — and NOT read in all manner of supplementary senses and extra grammar.

    • Alasdair Brown

      I am not adding ‘extra grammar’. I am looking at the grammar that is THERE.

      ‘I bore the canopy’ is NOT an independent clause. You CAN’T isolate it from the subjunctive form of the verb on which it’s predicated so you can manipulate it into meaning ‘I bore the canopy’. The simplest way of explaining ‘Wert ought to me’ IS to see it as elliptical speech. At the end off the verse sentence is a question mark which means you HAVE to supply the words which frame the opening of the poem as a QUESTION.

      So it HAS to be something like, ‘ What would it matter to me if I were to bear the canopy? What would I get out of it if I were to bear the canopy? Or you can make it work for the past as: Would it have made any difference to me if had born the canopy? And since this is a QUESTION the rest of the sentence can effectively be seen as an answer. Because I am not interested in making superficial gestures to superficial people. Because I have no interest in reputation or eternal fame- because I know everything wastes away, including me.

      Paul, I don’t know what your politics are but please don’t get paranoid about there being some kind of revolutionary socialist message in the above. It’s all about love.

      • “I am not adding ‘extra grammar’. I am looking at the grammar that is THERE.”

        Thank you. I have yet to encounter an Oxfordian who knows how to read. They just pass text in front of their faces, looking for things they can pretend are clues.

  58. Paul Crowley

    I want to thank alfa_at_oxfraud.com for writing this:
    “The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t.”

    This opinion is, I think, unique. All the commentators read a fawning sentiment into the line But they are wrong and Alfa is right. The line has an ‘edge’ “Were‘t aught to me I bore the canopy” The poet does _not_ think it a big deal. This is so obvious that I cannot understand how I’ve missed it for so long. It’s mainly the fault of the ghastly Stratfordianism in which we all swim. Centuries will be needed to wash it away.

    Before I explain why, let me pose a question. If you had Shake-speare at your beck and call, would you employ him? Let’s say to write your inaugural address? Or to compose commemorative verse on the death of your heir? Or translate and edit a new Bible? Or ghost your autobiography? Of course, you would. So why didn’t it happen? We have a person of the highest literary ability, yet no one (not even the Queen, and then the King, nor any government minister) seems to have felt that they ever had the need.

    The answer is that he was Lord Oxford, the 17th earl. The only person he’d work for was the Queen. While she undoubtedly used him (e.g. for her Tilbury speech) she didn’t want him in any position of responsibility. We can make a fair guess as to her reasons. But he was never put on the Privy Council, nor awarded the Garter, nor given a public office.

    So he was not pleased. His public role was entirely ceremonial. All he was ever known to do was ‘bear the canopy’.

    The edge.is one of bitter sarcasm,

    The phrase has a lot of other senses. I’ll come to them later.

  59. Alasdair Brown

    Shakespeare Denial plus Subjunctive Denial. Does this result in abuse of household pet denial?

  60. Mr. Crowley’s posts are always mildly diverting, like watching a juggler drop everything. Anosognosia: he stands there in a hail of bananas, shoes, and oranges, bowing triumphantly.

    But I so hoped that he’d favour us with one of his coprophiliac turns. His exegesis of Sonnet 103–with Oxford and the Queen as duelling defecators–is legendary.

    Think of her as Ethel Merman:

    Anything you can , I can better
    I can anything better than you.

    What a showstopper!

    • > Mr. Crowley’s posts are always mildly diverting, like watching a juggler drop everything.

      That’s funny, and so apt.

    • > But I so hoped that he’d favour us with one of his coprophiliac turns. His exegesis of Sonnet 103–with Oxford and the Queen as duelling defecators–is legendary.

      > Think of her as Ethel Merman:

      > Anything you can , I can better
      > I can anything better than you.

      > What a showstopper!

      The original Aristocrats.

  61. I’m still reeling a bit from “The rules of interpretation demand that you take the simplest and most obvious meaning — and NOT read in all manner of supplementary senses and extra grammar.” What will he say next?

  62. Alasdair Brown

    So sorry to have missed out on the copraphilia. Which circus or music hall acts are most likely to be performed by the following do you think? Greg Koch, Ed Boswell. William Ray?

  63. Google is your friend:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare/b7H4Vhdcjgg

    Mr. Ray, I think, comes out in a seedy dress suit and recites “Gunga Din” to an untuned orchestra, with an impassioned throb in his voice. He’s billed as Hamlet. He cannot be hooked.

    Your go.

  64. Alasdair Brown

    Fairly obviously, Greg Koch is the Lion Tamer. But with a difference. He comes in dressed as Geoffrey Chaucer because that’s who he thinks was Will’s contemporary. His assistant is The Mayor of Stratford who he tries to feed to the lions. But they just ignore him – even when he gives them a lecture on iconoclasm containing lots of subordinate clauses.

    Somebody else now

  65. “Why is that at all suspicious? Lorenzo da Ponte, son of a tanner, penniless for half his life, arguably the greatest librettist of all time, counted Casanova and the Holy Roman Emperor among his friends, yet he never learned, properly, to play the piano or any other musical instrument.” –alfa@oxfraud.com

    I would check your methodology here. Analogy is the lowest order of proof. The extraordinary quality of the artist you mention does nothing to support the skills and learning of Shakspere of Stratford, for whom there is recorded no quality of any kind.

    Which is the paradox of the Stratfordian hypothesis. Wells and company wish to respond with power to the challenge against the fable, but they are unable to discard their faulty presuppositions. The integrity of truth just isn’t there.

    I see the remainder of this blog discussion has dwindled to a nest of shadows in the cellar where they seem quite comfortable. I will not intrude.

    • William: I did not attempt to prove anything by analogy. Merely illustrate the obvious foolishness of your idea that the absence of musical instruments in a poet’s house are grounds for suspicion that he may not have written the work accredited to him.

      Most sensible people would not require any proof of this. The example of one of the greatest librettists of all time, who came from a similar background to Will, rose to prominence in the Court of The Holy Roman Emperor and yet a a man who was not himself a musician is simply an illustration that you, like many Oxfordians, have not given your premise an ounce of thought beyond its selfish context and that your suspicions are simply part of the same pareidolia which has created your larger illusions.

      The pattern-hunting of a patternless malignity. As Coleridge might have called it.

      • You are fighting fruitbats. Start by acknowledging the rational basis for doubt and seeing if you can paraphrase the position you are contesting. I know, that will take a lot of work and you’re such a busy and important person that you really can’t bothered. Meanwhile, the Oxfordians can’t seem to find anyone in the province of Ontario willing to debate them this fall. All the big names have run for cover. Pathetic.

        • No Shakespeareans at your conference?????

          Do you think it might be because you’ve lost the public argument? Seems the most likely explanation to me.

          • Actually there will be quite a few Shakespeareans. But so far all the leading Stratfordians in Ontario are afraid to debate. You can rationalize their failure any way you like. Having met some of these gents, I will tell you its just cowardice.

    • Alasdair Brown

      William: ‘A nest of shadows in the cellar’ is a really nice piece of poetry. I like it. The trouble is that’s also an analogy – which you claim is ‘the lowest order of proof.’

  66. Ed Boswell

    Does anyone have any idea why Shakespeare would simply ignore the death of his son in regards to sonnets or subject matter? Any idea why he never had a setting of Warwickshire in a play? And why didn’t he stage a single play during his retirement in Stratford? Any idea why his son-in-laws’ journal gushes about meeting Michael Drayton and never mentions a single word about marrying the great Shake-speare’s daughter, and living in his house, the one he inherited without a book case? Any idea why Jonson would parody him as somewhat of a braggart/Buffoon who falsely claimed he was a writer? Any idea why no one in Stratford knew him as a poet or dramatist? Any idea why not a single person ever claimed to have corresponded with him? Any idea why Anne Cecil’s letters to Oxford exist, and all of his to her are destroyed? Perhaps Dr. Wells knows the answers to these questions. (not the last one, because learning too much about Oxford is verboten)

    • Alasdair Brown

      Musical Hall Entertainers No: 3: Ed’s the magician with the Disappearing Act. But he just can’t get that trap door at the bottom of the wardrobe to work.

      • Edward Boswell

        Your humor is stale, Alasdair. Why don’t you can the lifeless jokes and deal with this mystery as a serious subject? You’re coming off as a witless person. There are comedy nights for amateurs you could go to, if you really think you’ve got something to share with the public. I’m sure you’d be well received. In the meantime, when you respond to a comment of mine, (I wish you wouldn’t) kindly deal with the content, funny man. Again, any idea on why Jonson would parody Shaksper as a buffoon who falsely claimed to be a writer of plays?

        • Alasdair Brown

          Assuming you are talking about Poet Ape and assuming it is about Shakespeare, I’m afraid my answer is about Oxfordians again. You have a problem with recognising the complexity of real people just as you have a problem with acknowledging the complexity of Shakespeare’s work .

          You want to simplify the plays by reducing them to the expression of an aristocratic point of view and contempt for commoners, and even the most obvious plot device to an incident from Oxford’s life.

          By the same token, you want to reduce Ben Jonson’s complex, ambivalent, conflicted response to the extraordinary success of his friend to an accusation of fraud. There’s such a thing as duality you know: love and hate, envy and admiration, jealousy and fidelity, spite and generosity.

          Who do you think writes those anonymous, venomous reviews of first novels on Amazon? The jealous friend of the writer? Who goes along and sings their praises at the funeral ? You got in one- the loyal friend of the writer.

          • Alasdair:

            Oh, most excellent post on complexity! A pleasure to read in this howling wasteland.

            Nat

            • Alasdair Brown

              I am glad you likde it Nat. Thanks

              Taking a one dimensional view of Jonson of course comes from the same place as their construction of the malt dealer/ writer dichotomy and other simplistic perceptions. All packets of taxonomy should come with a government health warning.

              Alasdair

  67. Ed Boswell, the answer to many of your questions are unknowable, but some of them are ill-advised and either ignorant or simply wrong. Like others of your ilk what you try to do is ignore the vast amount of evidence that Shakespeare wrote what he wrote, and not someone else. I have been following this blog for some time and there are more comments on this post than any other by a great stretch, but despite the subject matter, nothing new has been added.

    One thing that interests me is that “Oxfordians” such as yourself keep referring to people who say Shakespeare wrote what he wrote – such as the contents of the first folio and the poems associated with him – as “Stratfordians”, though you do not. This seems to me to be a very clever but also very dishonest dodge, as the question is not where Shakespeare was born, but who wrote the material associated with him. That question was never in doubt for more than 200 years, and is actually not in doubt today despite the quavering objections of people such as yourself.

    • Edward Boswell

      There is a vast amount of evidence that Mark Twain, and not Sam Clemens wrote Huckleberry Finn. To claim any mention of the author “Shake-speare” as being proof that the man from Stratford is who they’re talking about is “ill-advised”, “ignorant” and “simply wrong”..

    • Mr. Evans —

      Let’s start with a kind of kindergarten question for you, shall we? Who are the two patrons of the 1623 “Shakespeare” folio — and what is their relationship to Edward de Vere? When you can answer those two questions, and learn to stop using gratuitous insults like “ilk,” then we can have a real conversation. Until then, you may be making yourself feel better, but you aren’t really formulating an argument.

      • I have bowed out of this discussion as if you read properly you will have seen. I do not enter into disagreements with people who use nom de plumes on principle. Asking me questions is silly. Ask yourself a few.

  68. Does anyone have any idea why Oxford, if he was Shakespeare, would simply ignore the death of his first son in regards to sonnets or subject matter? Any idea why he never had a setting ofHedingha m in a play? And why didn’t he stage a single play during his retirement in Hedingham Castle? Any idea why his father-in-laws journal gushes about Oxford’s shortcomings as a husband and father and never mentions a single word about Oxford writing plays and entertainments for the court? Any idea why Gabrial Harvey would satirize him as somewhat of a braggart/Buffoon who thought he was the epitome of Italian fashion? Any idea why several intimates accused him of bestiality, buggery, and treason but said not one word about his play writing? Any idea why no one in the London theatrical scene never mentioned him as a dramatist? Any idea why not a single person ever claimed to have seen an Oxford play at the court or theatre?

    • Paul Crowley

      Tom, I appreciate that you are new to the authorship debate, so let me point out a couple of things. The two sides are not equivalent. It is not appropriate to direct the same questions at them. Stratfordians maintain that all was above board — but unfortunately the records of many things (such as the Stratman’s letters and books) were lost. Oxfordians say that there was a government-sponsored cover-up, and that’s the main reason so much is lost or hidden. So you need to pay attention to what each side says, and then criticise any faults you then find in their argument. You’ll get the hang of it in a few weeks.

      Tom Reedy writes: “Does anyone have any idea why Oxford, if he was Shakespeare, would simply ignore the death of his first son in regards to sonnets” ANSWER: His first son, Edward Vere, was born illegitimately to Anne Vavasour in May 1581. He distinguished himself as a soldier and died in 1629. His first legitimate son (born to Anne Cecil) died at birth. The poet was indeed upset by this and did write at least one sonnet on this death. You can find it easily with a little careful reading among the canonical sonnets — so long as you avoid the nonsense of the Stratfordian commentators.

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why he never had a setting of Hedingham in a play?” ANSWER: Not much happened there. And see below (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “And why didn’t he stage a single play during his retirement in Hedingham Castle?” ANSWER: He ‘retired’ to Hackney, close to Stratford (where the London Olympics were held). And see below (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why his father-in-laws journal gushes about Oxford’s shortcomings as a husband and father and never mentions a single word about Oxford writing plays and entertainments for the court?”
      ANSWER:
      ________Don’t ask me to repeat this__________
      No one in the court wanted the common people (and especially the Puritans) to associate those plays and poems with the monarchy or the aristocracy, They are full of bawdy and scatological comments on, and caricatures of, highly respected courtiers and a highly respected monarch. The (essentially illiterate) common people would have been incapable of understanding the humour and the context, and they would have taken the words in a simple-minded literal manner. They were as humourless as (say) modern Americans or Germans or academics everywhere, and they would have read into the works all manner of nonsense, such as we see today from the likes of Roland Emmerich.
      ________Don’t ask me to repeat this________

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why Gabrial Harvey would satirize him as somewhat of a braggart/Buffoon who thought he was the epitome of Italian fashion?” ANSWER: Why not? Bitchy feelings and expressions were the everyday stuff of life about that court (as about most courts).

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why several intimates accused him of bestiality, buggery, and treason ” ANSWER: Oxford had informed on them (i.e. betrayed them) and they were in prison, doing their best to postpone or avoid a painful execution. (If you had ever studied the issue, you’d have known that).

      Tom Reedy writes: “but said not one word about his play writing? ANSWER: See above. (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why no one in the London theatrical scene never mentioned him as a dramatist?” ANSWER: (a) Was not Meres part of the ‘London theatrical scene’? (b) Oxford wrote for the court in the 1560s, ’70s and early ’80s. The “London theatrical scene” did not get going until the 1590s, and all most of them knew about some complex plays (usually far too highbrow for their clientele) was that they were in print and at least one company could occasionally get permission to put them on. (c) And see above (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why not a single person ever claimed to have seen an Oxford play at the court or theatre?” ANSWER: (a) Oxford was extraordinarily precocious and was compelled to employ anonymity and pseudonymity from his earliest days (for obvious reasons — and the Queen et al. expected him to become a great statesman). The anonymity / pseudonymity gave him the freedom to be licentious in his literary work. So the anonymity / pseudonymity became even more essential;. and circle around again and again. (b) See above. (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      • Edward Boswell

        I’m enjoying your posts~~ thanks for taking the time. Sadly, some of our species lack basic intuition when it comes to mysteries such as these. I’ve been involved in the creative arts my entire adult life, which is dismissed by our Stratfordian friends as being worthless information, but it allows me to think of the possible author in a realistic way, and I’ve always sensed that something was terribly amiss in regards to marrying the Stratford Man to the WS canon. It would be hard to find a worse match, in my opionion, and it’s perplexed thousands of intelligent people for the longest time, and for good reason. I think there is a vested interest by many of our Stratfordians in knowing that a dull person could be the true author, and it gives them solace. Creative people accomplishing anywhere near what “Shakespeare” did don’t fit the biographical profile of Shaksper, plain and simple. Never did, and never will.

      • IOW, conspiracy! A conspiracy so successful that all traces were erased from the historical record, journals, diaries, and letters, including those of the spies of England’s enemies.

        And all this over the authorship of some plays and poems! Would that we had such efficiency in government today!

    • Edward Boswell

      Thanks for the intelligent reply, Tom Reedy. We both know the “intimates” you mention were on trial for their lives based upon the testimony of Edward de Vere. I can’t speak for you, but I’d be willing to say anything to avoid losing my head over testimony by someone such as de Vere. So the Earl of Oxford was lampooned for being enfatuated with Italy. Do you think that actually hurts his case, or helps it? The fact that he pissed people off, do you think that somehow precludes him from consideration? Who said Oxford retired to Hedingham Castle? Are you sure about that? Any idea why Meres would list him as the best at comedies if he’d never ever been to a play, or had never written a comedy? If the Queen insisted that Oxford’s plays were to remain anonymous, why would someone fighting for his life in court bring up such a subject? And if they had, do you think there is any chance that those statements would have been excised from the record of the trial? In spite of our opposing positions in regards to the Authorship Question, I appreciate your comments, as I’ve learned from them. Thank you for that.

  69. I’m still bit taken aback by Paul’s analysis (seen by the cowering denizens of ShakesVere, watching from afar, as an ‘evisceration’ of my own).

    When conspiracy theories bump up against immoveable obstacles one just ‘grinds them till they fit’, like American teenagers in European stick-shifts. But the elimination of not just the perfect subjunctive but the entire subjunctive mood; not just from the poem but from the entire English language was simply breathtaking.

    Apart from the fact he has only read the first four lines (and misunderstood almost every word), there are only a couple of things to be learnt from his ‘reading’. The first is that the credulity of the Oxfordian herd is such that members will swallow canards the size of The Queen Mary if it’s for the cause. The second is that, whatever it says, the text of any of Shakespeare’s work is SO automatically supportive of the Oxfordian case, it’s scarcely worth reading it and pointless citing it in argument.

    Anyway.

    I made the mistake of clicking on Nat’s link and looking at more of Paul’s ANALysis. Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch!

    Now if England don’t avoid the follow-on, this has the makings of a VERY bad weekend.

    • “Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch!”

      Sorry. That should have come with a hazmat warning.

    • Alasdair Brown

      And I am still taken aback by Paul accusing me of inserting into the sonnets, grammar which isn’t there when Oxfordians parachute in a PERSON who isn’t there. Not to mention a steaming pile of ickiness relating to incest and copraphilia.

      I want to stay with the grammar issue though and just make the following observation. The sonnets appear highly complex precisely because the grammar is so compressed. It’s partly a way of reflecting the intensity of thought about extreme emotion. It can take many, many readings before you begin to grasp the nature of the progression between one thought and another.This is too much for our friends who start to panic if an author dares to venture beyond the primary level of
      signification.

      They can’t get no satisfaction so what do they do ?

      1: Learn Oxford’s life story by heart. Must be written by an Oxfordian though.
      2: Go skimming through the sonnets
      3: Find the word ‘canopy’
      4: KERCHUNG!!!!!

  70. Paul Crowley

    Alasdair Brown writes: “And I am still taken aback by Paul accusing me of inserting into the sonnets, grammar which isn’t there”. ANSWER You can’t insert an “IF” into a plain ordinary sentence, just because it takes your fancy. Here you can’t accept the simple plain reading “I bore the canopy, and it meant nothing to me” because you know your man was never near any canopy. So you have to go around the houses, and twist the words into some weird fantasy, producing nonsense: “If someone ever asked me to bear the canopy, I wouldn’t, and the generosity (or whatever) of the request would mean nothing to me” — a “statement” that no Elizabethan (nor anyone else in any generation) would ever articulate. You compound this by claiming that this was some kind of insult directed at his patron — an Elizabethan nobleman, one of whose purposes in life was exactly “to bear the canopy’. And you claim that your reading is ‘grammatical’. What a laugh.

    Alasdair Brown writes: “I want to stay with the grammar issue though and just make the following observation. The sonnets appear highly complex precisely because the grammar is so compressed. ” ANSWER: The meaning is compressed. The poet routinely exploits a common poetic technique — deliberate ambiguity — writing on several quite different themes at the same time. But he ALWAYS respects the grammar. Sometimes, its application to his third or fourth level of meaning gets a little strained, but that’s about it.

    Alasdair Brown writes: “It’s partly a way of reflecting the intensity of thought about extreme emotion. It can take many, many readings before you begin to grasp the nature of the progression between one thought and another” ANSWER: Agreed. The structure and the expression are often extremely complex. But that does not mean that they always are. The poet commonly makes very clear simple statements. If you read complexity into them (as is indeed a temptation) then you get lost. The poet thought very clearly, but he had so much to say, that it can be hard to get all he means. But he would never have expressed (nor tried to express) the empty, banal and tangled tripe you seek to read into Line 1 of Sonnet 125.

    • I suspect Paul dropped out of school before English grammar was covered.

    • Alasdair Brown

      Yes Paul, right. Shakespeare ALWAYS respects the grammar. Perfect, complete, beautiful grammatical construction every time:

      ‘Pish! Noses, ears and lips! Is’t possible? Confess? Handkerchief? O devil!

      • Paul Crowley

        Alasdair Brown writes: “Yes Paul, right. Shakespeare ALWAYS respects the grammar”

        When he puts words into the mouths of illiterates in his plays, or into others under great emotional pressure, grammar will go out the window. I should not have to say that. I meant only when he speaks in his own voice — above all, in the Sonnets. In a few cases there he parodies the style of his rival, but I’d be very interested in any other examples you can find from the Sonnets which you think show bad grammar. I’d bet that in every instance, you are just misreading.

        • Alasdair Brown

          Paul, ignoring the suggestion that Othello was illiterate and your alleged interest in copraphila, may I just say that I appreciate your posts rather more than some other Oxfordians on here. You engage with Shakespeare’s texts; you hammer away at evidence which is actually in front of you and you go away and think about what your opponent has said. You don’t just come charging in with a firestorm of arguments and questions like some hysterical arsonist.

          Can I ask you a question? How do we know that Shakespeare is speaking in his own voice in the sonnets? Biographical facts about the 80 or so ‘candidates’ for their authorship could be a bit confusing. So leaving all that stuff aside, what do you think?

  71. Paul: You don’t recognise the perfect subjunctive. This prevents you from understanding line 1 of Sonnet 125 and helps to account for your misunderstanding of lines 2,3 and 4.

    Apart from an unsupportable claim that the rest of the sonnet is full of religious ideas, I have yet to see any evidence you’ve have read beyond line 4.

    Leaving the subjunctive aside, a very good historian took another approach and proved that Oxford hadn’t ever born the canopy by ruling him out of all the possible occasions when he might have done so. Your comments on this subject and the picture you linked to reveal that you don’t recognise a canopy, increasing your handicap. The picture you link to is of a type of litter. There is a whole chapter on that picture and what it means in Roy Strong’s book but even famous Oxfordian William Leahy doesn’t think it depicts Oxford. There were very few opportunities to bear the canopy in Oxford’s lifetime and there is rather good documentation about all of them. In the reign of Elizabeth I (and II) it was born exclusively by Knights of the Garter.

    I’m not sure how far you can get with Sonnet 125 if you can’t get to grips with line 1. If you have a look at Hank Whittemore’s analysis (yes, this IS still me) it might help you on a stage.

    • Paul Crowley

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “You don’t recognise the perfect subjunctive.” ANSWER: Do you think this kind of pomposity is going to impress anyone? If you don’t like my paraphrase of the line, give us your own. (We all know you never will.)

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “Apart from an unsupportable claim that the rest of the sonnet is full of religious ideas” ANSWER: Have you not read any of the commentators (other than Whittemore)? All of them refer to the multiple allusions to the Book of Common Prayer (except Kerrigan — which is odd, because they all copy each other).

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: ” a very good historian took another approach and proved that Oxford hadn’t ever born the canopy by ruling him out of all the possible occasions when he might have done so. Your comments on this subject and the picture you linked to reveal that you don’t recognise a canopy” ANSWER: The word ‘canopy’ is ancient. It occurs about 20 times in the canon, often as a verb (Shake-speare has the first record of that use). Its meaning has not changed, Everyone knew it then, as they do now. There was no special word for the item used in the coronation.

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “The picture you link to is of a type of litter.” ANSWER: The Queen is seated in a litter. The canopy is a separate construction, borne over her by the usual four canopy-bearers.

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “There were very few opportunities to bear the canopy in Oxford’s lifetime” ANSWER: Only IF you take ‘ . .the canopy . .’ to mean that used for the coronation. That is indeed, a possible sense but (as you say) hardly relevant — neither to Oxford NOR to the Stratman NOR to anyone else ever thought to have written Sonnet 125

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: ” and there is rather good documentation about all of them. In the reign of Elizabeth I (and II) it was born exclusively by Knights of the Garter.” ANSWER: So was the Stratman complaining that he did not have the Garter? Or that did not expect to get it? What wild realm of nonsense are you now getting into? Do you expect to be King of Great Britain? No? How about writing a sonnet the terrible distress this must cause you?

      • Paul: Can you see what is going on here?

        My postings prove you don’t understand Sonnet 125.

        Your postings prove you don’t understand Sonnet 125.

        ” If you don’t like my paraphrase of the line, give us your own. (We all know you never will.)” I went to some trouble to explain line 1, first from a grammatical point of view and then from a literal, historical point of view. You, par contre, have yet to provide any evidence you have read beyond line 4.

        As you are clearly not reading what I write, we are hardly having a discussion, are we?

        You’re just wasting everyone’s time.

  72. You know what you lot hate about Shakespeare? He’s real. A real person with a real life in real Stratford and the real London theatre world. He doesn’t fit your tumescent fantasies of what *your* Shakespeare should have been. So childish: “You’re not my *weal* Shakespeare. My weal Shakespeare has a *canopy*!” So you invent a toy Oxford you can send on thrilling adventures, and a toy Will of Stratford to mock at. Fine. Pretend whatever you like in your secret hideout, but don’t keep bothering the grownups. We want to talk about Shakespeare.

    Go play with your Oxford Barbies.

    • Edward Boswell

      “He’s real”, “in real Stratford” (like the modern day tourist trap?)
      He’s close to 400 years dead now, Nate, without a single letter with which one could know for certain he’s reading the thoughts of the man from Stratford. If his recorded personal history is what we go by, he’s boring, cheap, and potentially dangerous. What bothers me about this particular comment thread is the grammar school humor and insults that are used so clumsily by Stratfordian zealots, as exampled by Nate’s toy de force. They are devoid of any wit. The fact that Oxford spent vast sums of money pulling this off, with the help of renowned literary and dramatic heavyweights from the period seems to be lost on them. Cognitive dissonance abounds, humor suffers, insults ring hollow, Oxford prevails~~~ Nate, answer me this simple question. Why did William Jaggert dedicate a book to Susan de Vere in 1619? Why did he dedicate the First Folio to her husband, Edward de Vere’s son-in-law? Could he have dedicated the book to Susan de Vere with the hope of being able to print the First Folio? Could he have shown his appreciation for that by dedicating the 1st Folio to Montgomery and Pembroke, the “incomparable brethren” aka Oxford’s in-laws? Or should he have dedicated it to Shaksper’s semi-literate daughters, in order to make your imaginary Stratfordian world make sense?

  73. Alasdair Brown

    Nat, that’s the Gish Gallop again. We need to send Ed’s posts to Rational Wiki as brilliant examples. That was one of Nat’s excellent posts and here it is again just in case you missed it Ed. You shouldn’t be the only one to have a monopoly monopoly on repetition:

    Denialists adore a public debate. It gives them a stage to strut and fret on, and a chance to overwhelm all reasoned argument with a firestorm of fantasy. The syndrome is well-studied: “The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Sam Harris describes the technique as ‘starting 10 fires in 10 minutes.’” (Rational Wiki)

    And, by the way, Will had ‘grammar school humour’

    • I think the Gish Gallop would make a terrific ragtime dance.

      Nat

      • Dear Nat, Tom, Alpha, Alasdair, et al…in the immortal words of Austin Powers, “Oh, Behaaaaave!”

        Guys, I know you’re passionate about your man Shakspere – and that’s quite alright – really, it is. After all, everyone is entitled to one’s own opinion without one’s character having to be savaged, and I sincerely hope you concur with that sentiment. Life is too short to carry-on in such a discourteous fashion (I’m talking about folks on BOTH sides of the issue, by the way – not just you…we all seem to get carried away, at times, and I think that’s a pity – not to mention counter-productive).

        So, allow me to tell you a bit about myself and how I became enthralled with this issue…it may resonate with you.

        When I studied Shakespeare in school (back in the ’60’s), we simply dove into the plays – no discussion of the author’s life and times, and certainly, not a peep about any authorship controversy. In other words, I emerged with no particular opinion on the authorship matter, one way or the other, only a deep and abiding love of Shakespeare (parenthetically: it breaks my heart to read about so many school systems in the USA eviscerating their literature studies, especially in the classics – are you witnessing a similar phenomenon in the UK?).

        So when I happened-upon Charlton Ogburn’s “The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and The Reality” in 1992 at a local bookstore, my curiosity was piqued, especially when I read the glowing Foreword by famed American historian David McCullough (on this side of THE POND, when David McCullough speaks, people listen!). I’ve never regretted purchasing and carefully studying Ogburn’s opus, and I’ve been gobbling-up/absorbing all sorts related books and articles (pro and con) to the present time.

        But, enough about me (hope you hadn’t nodded off, guys!)…back to the matter we’re all so passionate about!

        Nat, I don’t mind at all parroting those “Diana Price absurdities”, because it really does go to the heart of the “Shakspere – being – Shakespeare” problem (that is, Shakspere leaving no literary paper trail during his lifetime). Heck, you don’t have to take my word for it. Lots of reputable, intelligent folk have expressed their reservations and doubts about the Stratford man over the years. Among them…

        A. The late (and great) Shakespeare professor/scholar Samuel Schoenbaum (a Stratfordian, through and through) conceding the issue (in one of his weaker moments, I suppose), as follows: “Perhaps we should despair of ever bridging the VERTIGINOUS EXPANSE BETWEEN THE SUBLIMITY OF THE SUBJECT AND THE MUNDANE INCONSEQUENCE OF THE DOCUMENTARY RECORD.” (“Lives”, 568…emphasis mine).

        B. Mark Twain made essentially the same observation – albeit much more bitingly:

        “We are The Reasoning Race. We can’t prove it by the miraculous ‘histories’ built by those Stratfordolaters out of a hatful of rags and a barrel of sawdust…We are The Reasoning Race, and when we find a vague file of chipmunk-tracks stringing through the dust of Stratford village, we know by our reasoning powers that Hercules has been along there. I feel our fetish is safe for three centuries yet.” (from “Is Shakespeare Dead? From My Autobiography”, by Mark Twain, 1909).

        C. Then, there’s the quote by 19th century Stratfordian, William Furness: “I am one of many who is unable to bring the works of William Shakespeare within planetary space of Shaksper of Stratford’s personal life. ARE THERE ANY TWO THINGS IN THE WORLD MORE INCONGRUOUS?” (from p. 285, “Malice Aforethought: The Killing of a Unique Genius”, by Dr. Paul H. Altrocchi…emphasis mine).

        If it weren’t for the aforementioned “…vertiginous expanse between the sublimity of the subject and the mundane inconsequence of the documentary record”, J. Thomas Looney would not have been compelled to seek out an alternative author in the first place. But search he did, ultimately yielding his remarkable “Shakespeare Indentified” in 1920.

        In closing, I’d like to thank Alpha for exchanging his thoughts with me over the past few days…on balance, I’d say our give an take has been both stimulating and reasonably courteous, for which I’m grateful.

        Take care, Guys and God Bless!!

        GB

    • Ed Boswell

      “and by the way, Will had ‘grammar school humour’ ” (is that some sort of correction?) First of all, Mr. Brown, I said that Nat Whilk was exhibiting “grammar school humor”, not “WIll”. You’re not bothering to read what it is I’m posting, which is the sign of laziness or low reading comprehension. “And by the way”, I’m an American, and we spell words differently than the British. Deal with it. But enough of my prattle, let’s see what WALT WHITMAN says about Shakespeare’s History Plays~~ the ones written right around the time QE started secretly giving Oxford 1000 pounds a year. (The plays were very expensive to write and stage)

      “Conceiv’d out of the fullest heat and pulse of European feudalism -personifying in unparalleled ways the medieval aristocracy, its towering spirit of ruthless and gigantic caste, with its own peculiar air and arrogance (no mere imitation) -only one of the “wolfish earls” so plenteous in the plays themselves, or some born descendant and knower, might seem to be the true author of those amazing works -works in some respects greater than anything else in recorded literature.”

      • Alasdair Brown

        Oh blimey, change the Walt Whitman record. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard it. Here’s a tip. A more interesting doubter is Henry James. Read ‘The Birthplace” and sock me with some of that instead.

  74. Ed Boswell

    In fact, Alice-dare, the only “denialists” are those who pretend there’s no reasonable doubt about the Stratford Myth. If your candidate had only taken the time to write a few letters, or have anyone refer to him in clear terms, such as, “I love the Stratford Dramatist William Shakespeare”, or if there were records of him employing people to help him with these complex and expensive to produce plays, there would be no debate. Granted a hundred “coincidences” that link Oxford with the source material used in the plays, and point away from the Stratford man would still linger, but let’s forego that and simply say you are holding a faith based belief with virtually no evidence other than a name close to the pen-name “Shake-speare”. And remember this comment thread revolves around Stanley Wells denying that there is an iota of doubt. Like it or not, the people who have doubted the myth are not crazy, and they comprise an elite group, Walt Whitman, Sir Derek Jacobi, Paul Nitze, Justices Stevens and Scalia, Mark Twain and Sigmund Freud amongst them. Deride all you want, but the facts are such that you’re on the side of flat-earthers and holocaust deniers, because the serious doubts about Will are real, and you deny it. Your sense of humor reeks. The confidence you crudely exhibit in your “cause” is unwarranted. All one has to do is look at the doggerel on your man’s grave to figure out he was a dullard. His will, 3 pages long without a single punctuation mark screams out that it’s not the bard, yet you believe it all, hook, line and sinker. So yuck it up.

    • Ed, we don’t have a candidate, we have an author. In 150 years of effort, deniers haven’t found single item of evidence to cast genuine doubt on what the evidence, the contemporary attribution and the writings of his colleagues and rivals makes obvious to everyone who doesn’t have their eyes wide shut.

      As you do.

      • Messrs. Boswell, Crowley, and Ray are classic studies in the arrogance of ignorance: they don’t know what they don’t know.

        “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes. … ‘Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability.'”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

        • Paul Crowley

          You’re right. We should sit at the feet of Stanley Wells, and absorb his wisdom. Would you mind writing to him, and asking him what the Stratman meant by ” . . I bore the canopy” in Line 1 of Sonnet 125. Being a top expert, he must know, and Strats around here are in desperate need of his scholarship.

          • Mr. Crowley:

            You’re still beheading the sentence, which is “Were‘t aught to me I bore the canopy…?” (Even if I did bear / could have borne / might ever bear the canopy, so what? ) It’s all a big *As if!* “I bore the canopy” has no independent existence: it serves the subjunctive. Just what do you think “Were‘t aught to me” is doing there? What do you think it means? Hey nonny nonny? A sneeze?

            This isn’t string theory, you know: it’s simple arithmetic. It’s -2 + 2 = 0. Every time. And you keep insisting, look, there’s a 2 there! Two is two! Two is two is two! Is too! You remind me of that guy in Oliver Sacks who’d had a stroke, poor fellow, and kept trying to throw his other leg out of bed. He thought it was someone else’s, and was horrified. That “Were‘t aught to me” is an invading leg to you: you called it “extra grammar.” Sorry, it’s attached.

            Nat

            • Alasdair Brown

              Come on Nat, you know perfectly well that when Topol sings ‘If I were a rich man ” he actually means he WAS a rich man. From Yorkshire. ” I were a rich man once, me. Aye. and I bore t’ canopy an’ all. I can see it now. All fulgent it were. “

              • “Canopy? You were lucky! We ‘ad nobbut an awd blanket full of ‘oles that let t’rain through.”

                “Blanket? You were lucky! *We* ‘ad nobbut an awd Oxfordian theory, blown to rags!”

                “Oxfordian theory? Hah! Lucky buggers. There were 29 of us, huddled up under Queen Elizabeth, and ‘er a man.”

                Nat

              • Paul Crowley

                Alasdair Brown writes: “Come on Nat, you know perfectly well that when Topol sings ‘If I were a rich man ” he actually means he WAS a rich man. From Yorkshire”

                There is _no_ “IF”. You have to pay attention to the grammar. If you think that there is an “IF”, then spell it out. IF what? . . . . In fact, in modern idiom the question would be “Does it matter to me that . . . ” This is followed by a statement (or assertion) of fact. “Does it matter to me that you were not a virgin when we married? “Does it matter to me that 200,000 innocent people died when we dropped the Atom bombs in August 1945?”

                Wer’t ought to me I bore the canopy, 125:1
                With my extern the outward honoring, 125:2
                Or layd great bases for eternity, 125:3
                Which proues more short then wast or ruining? 125:4

                The first quatrain asks two (largely rhetorical) questions. “Does it matter to me that I bore the canopy? And “Does it matter to me that I laid great bases for eternity? The second quatrain is grammatically parenthetical — incidental observations. However, the poet is so attached to grammatical form that he answers the questions (In spite of their largely rhetorical nature) in the third quatrain: “Noe, let me be obsequious in thy heart”

                Haue I not seene dwellers on forme and fauor 125:5
                Lose all, and more by paying too much rent 125:6
                For compound sweet; Forgoing simple sauor, 125:7
                Pittifull thriuors in their gazing spent. 125:8

                The poet is lying or being political or being sarcastic, Of course, it bloody matters. But he feels so close, or so attached, to his beloved, that he is prepared to put his (deeply hurt) feelings to one side. (At least, that’s what he says.)

                Noe, let me be obsequious in thy heart, 125:9
                And take thou my oblacion, poore but free, 125:10
                Which is not mixt with seconds, knows no art, 125:11
                But mutuall render, onely me for thee. 125:12
                Hence, thou subbornd Informer, a trew soule 125:13
                When most impeacht, stands least in thy controule. 125:14

                • No. The imaginary poem you’re reading would have said “Is’t aught to me I bore the canopy.” IS’T. And “is’t” isn’t in the text. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put it there. Rain falls downward, fire burns, and “were ‘t” means “if it were.”

                  Since you asked, “if” is implicit in the subjunctive mood, which is “typically used to express various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred.”

                  • Paul Crowley

                    Nat Whilk wrote: No. The imaginary poem you’re reading would have said “Is’t aught to me I bore the canopy.” IS’T. And “is’t” isn’t in the text.

                    That is ridiculous. The poet does not need to pose the question “Is it aught to me”. He knows what’s aught to him — i.e. what matters to him and what doesn’t. In this Sonnet, he is telling us (whether truthfully or not) that it isn’t aught to him — i.e. that the fact he bore the canopy does _not_ matter to him (or so he says). He phrases it as a rhetorical question – with a conditional “Were it . . ” but that should not confuse you. Just remember that he knows perfectly well what he feels about this matter.

                    Try to put the phrase into something you understand. “Were it aught to me that England won the cricket match . . . . I might not be so angry about the fact that cricket takes over the airwaves”. Forget my last bit, and you have the same form of ‘question’. Does it matter to me that England won the cricket match . . . . .NO, it does not.

                    • Paul: So near and yet so far. You last paragraph starts with what looks like a light coming on. ‘Were it aught to me that England won the cricket match . . . . ‘ opens the door to hypothetical possibilities. You could be about to muse. And you do.

                      However, in a perfect synthesis of the Oxfordian Fallacy, you can’t get beyond the unconditional. There IS a difference.

                      ‘Might it matter to the meaning of this poem that I do not understand subjunctives? Yes, in this case, it might.’

                      and

                      ‘Does it really matter that I don’t understand subjunctives? Yes it does.’

                      Can you see the difference yet?

                • Alasdair Brown

                  The point of quoting the Topol line was to show that “If I were a rich man” and “Were I a rich man” mean exactly the same thing. Even though the ‘if’ isn’t there in the second one , it’s still embedded in the verb and you can’t therefore excise the notion of speculation about the future from the meaning. Grammatically, ‘would’ has to accompany either ‘were I ‘ or ‘ if I were’ or ‘were it’. That’s why I said it was elliptical speech. But ‘were’ is the clue to what’s been left out. And that’s ‘If’ and ‘would’ OK?

                  So lets try something using that logic:

                  Would it mean anything at all to me if I were I to bear the canopy and thus only be appearing to honour someone on the basis of their status rather than their true nature?

                  • Paul Crowley

                    Alasdair Brown wrote: Even though the ‘if’ isn’t there in the second one , it’s still embedded in the verb and you can’t therefore excise the notion of speculation about the future from the meaning.

                    This is even more ridiculous than Nat Whilk’s confusion. “Were it aught to me . .” is NOT speculation about the future. The poet is telling us about his own present feelings. He’s saying this issue (this X matter) is of no concern to him. He states this X matter in the _past_ tense. “I bore the canopy”. That fact is not (he says) something that bothers him. End of story.

                    Try a parallel in something you know. Hamlet might say: “Polonius thinks me mad. Were that aught to me, I’d be distressed.” Or to put it in the form of the Sonnet “Were it aught to me Polonius thinks me mad”.

  75. Alasdair Brown

    Rather like De Vere Ed, I employ a worthy scribe to do my posts. He doesn’t think about how he spells ‘humour’ any more than you do. He wouldn’t make a silly, arrogant sneer about a spelling difference. It would be too much like calling Shakespeare ‘Shaksper’.

  76. Paul Crowley

    I’ve been waiting for a Strat here to attempt to provide a remotely sensible Stratfordian reading of “Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy”, but not a chance — as was to be expected. I now want to extend my Oxfordian analysis. Take a look at the famous painting of Queen Elizabeth attending a wedding on 23rd June 1600. This is an absolutely typical use of a canopy, in accordance with an ancient tradition. The monarch (or other personage) needed to be protected from the elements, such as rain and sun, and his or her dignity and special role needed to be emphasised. But look at the courtiers. The major ones are in front, with, or wearing, badges of office, and displaying their garters. They were far too senior and important for routine canopy-bearing. While that role was respected and reserved for courtiers, it was for those of lesser importance. In this painting, they cannot be identified. Here is another picture of a canopy over Francis I of France. All the significant people are on horseback. No one knows, nor cares, who the canopy-bearers were. And this is a general pattern.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taddeo_Zuccari_003.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I,_Procession_Portrait..jpg

    So when Oxford states that he bore the canopy, he is remarking on the way he has been treated by the royal court — never given an office of any kind, let alone a significant one. It was a bit like someone confessing that his best role as an actor was the third-spear-carrier on the left.

    But there is much more to this line. When Elizabeth came to the throne there were three ‘personages’ in her realm who had canopies borne over them. There was (a) the Monarch; (b) the Eucharist, and (c) the Virgin Mary. Within a few months there was only one: the Monarch. She had pushed out the other two. Do a google image search on ‘bearing a canopy’ and you will see numerous eucharistic processions with canopies. That over the Virgin Mary is now less common. However, the poet as a child (i.e altar-boy) very likely bore the canopy over the Host, and possibly the Virgin Mary. As a high-ranking visitor in Italy he was probably honoured with requests to do so when he attended church services, or at public celebrations. He may have done so in Catholic ceremonies in private houses while he was pretending to be an ardent Catholic around 1580 (as part of the government plot to uncover his disloyal Catholic cousins). The Queen (like the court generally) was fully aware of the change in symbolism; she would have known of Oxford’s embarrassment when bearing the canopy in a Catholic ceremony.

    This is how he would justify the apparently-quasi-treasonous implication of Line 2 (“with my intern the inward dis-honouring”). His reader (the Queen) might suspect double-talk — that, in reality, he was full of bitter complaints against her — but he had a good cover-story.

    This Sonnet was written in the wake of the imprisonment of his Catholic cousins, and its religious allusions are largely ironic. They derive from the intense conflict of loyalties he felt during his under-cover role, and the resulting bitterness and anger which then led to the libels his cousins were now laying at his door.

  77. There is safety in numbers as the mob which benefits from blind faith and refusal to see the slightest doubt, until, finally, in a kind of fulgent terror they follow the whitened figure into the New Land.

    That is the elaborate and labored progress of recent traditional scholarship. All the whirlings and flappings to get the Stratford man off his front yard.

    Will doubt settle the account? Perhaps the long march of matching up artifacts from Sotheby’s to the fine arts will reveal their palpable delusiveness. Perhaps when Stanley Wells has a vision, his supernumeraries suddenly change the vulgar chants.

    They go forth and meet Edward de Vere.

    • “There is safety in numbers as the mob which benefits from blind faith and refusal to see the slightest doubt, until, finally, in a kind of fulgent terror they follow the whitened figure into the New Land.” The community of dufflepuds that Greg is describing is called ShakesVere. Go visit.

      We may have trespassed too long on Interesting Literature’s interesting site. Inspired by Nat’s Oxford Barbie post, perhaps we can leave our hosts, English Music Hall style, with a song. It’s a new version of Aqua’s 90’s hit, Barbie Girl.

      I’m a Barbie Earl
      In a Barbie World . . .
      Some with hindsight
      Say I’m a playwright

      You can see my verse
      You won’t read any worse
      In fourteen feet – or
      Iambic Pentameet – or

      Oo O oo

      I’m a blond bimbo Earl in a fantasy whirl
      Pick me up, teach me Greek, I’m a writer
      Dress me up, stroke my arms
      Shake my spear, smell my gloves
      Feel my sword, tie my belt, make it tighter

      You can touch
      You can claim
      You can say I wrote Shakes-peare

      Set the cats
      On the Strats
      Get the doubters out of here

      Oo oooo ooo

      Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please
      I wrote this, I wrote that, I can beg on my knees
      I am John over there in my tabard of yellow
      I am Hamlet, I’m Hal, I’m Othello
      You can laugh, and you will, you can say it’s fantaseeeeeee
      I don’t care, I’m an Earl, Mine is made just to serve meeeee

      Oo oooo oooo

      I’m a Barbie Earl
      In a Barbie World . . .
      Life in plastic
      It’s fantastic etc etc

      OO ooooooo – I’m having so much fun, Orazio
      Well, Barbie, we’re just getting started

  78. Brilliant! Shall I wrap your Internet or will you wear it home?

    Nat

  79. Alasdair Brown

    Eee… that were a reet lovely song that. I met that Earl of Oxford at a cocktail party once. He could tell I weren’t interested. So he went and bored the canapés instead.

  80. Paul Crowley

    Nat Whilk wrote: Would you listen if I boxed your ears? Would anyone cry if you left? Would it matter if Ophelia’s father thought me mad? Speculations about the future do take the past tense.

    Speculations about the future can bring in the past tense — as when Consequence Y could follow from Action X. Action X is (at that point) a past event. But all that is irrelevant. The poet is telling us about his mental state NOW. His current mental state could theoretically be caused by a future possible event (“Were it aught to me if my mother were to die next year”). Yet that expression clearly does not work. In the Sonnet the poet is denying that something is aught to him, in circumstances where the expectation is that he would be concerned about it.

    In any case it’s ludicrous to claim that the poet would express worry about a future possible bearing of the canopy — especially given that the Stratman was never likely to be within a country mile of any canopy. let alone a request to bear one over the monarch.

    Are Strats necessarily insane? Or is that condition forced upon them?

    Remember that I did not bring up this Sonnet. Yet the Strat case does not survive its first line. The Strat theory is so far-fetched that any part of it turns to dust on close examination.

    • “Yet the Strat case does not survive its first line.” This would be first line you have failed to understand despite it being explained to you upwards of 10 times. Because you can’t distinguish between past and present tenses and the indicative and subjunctive moods? We may have stopped teaching the subjunctive mood in Basic Grammar but that doesn’t mean it has gone away. Ask anyone who speaks French or Spanish.

      Your latest example actually underlines your own confusion. “Were it aught to me if my mother were to die next year” This is a mixture of everything and makes no almost no sense whatsoever.

      And we’re the insane ones?

      Your extended analysis, a bit higher up, reveals you don’t really know what rhetorical questions are (ask Ed Boswell – he seems to talk in them exclusively) and you don’t seem to know what sarcasm is, either. “The poet is lying or being political or being sarcastic.” is your assessment of the second quatrain, which is antithetical (not parenthetical) to the first.

      The second quatrain is a commoner’s assessment of worth of courtly behaviour and ambition. Pitiful thriving, he calls it. It’s bitter and resentful, as you might expect from a commoner addressing the issue of aristocratic entitlement. But not sarcastic. If you want to call it political, the politics are distinctly proletarian.

      Was Will a Red? Famous socialists Hazlitt, Marx, Engels and Brecht all thought he was. Where is De Vere’s socialist pedigree?

    • Ed Boswell

      In regards to speculation as to whether Oxford did, or did not “hold the canopy” for the Queen, I remember seeing a detailed sketch of one of her processions placing the Earl of Oxford on one of the four corners around the Queen. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a fact that Oxford held the canopy for the Queen. In a coronation, Oxford would have been holding the ceremonial sword of state, as the Lord Great Chamberlain. I question whether you’ll ever change the intractable and humorless minds of the entrenched. I enjoy reading your comments, thanks~~

      • Whilst I quake at thought of contradicting such convincing evidence as a half-remembered sketch of a fully forgotten procession, I can assure you it is entirely safe say the exact opposite. Until anyone comes up with new contradictory evidence, it’s safe to say it’s a fact Oxford did not bear the canopy.

        I question whether you’ll ever change the intractable and humourless minds that invent this stuff adn toss hearsay round as if it holy writ but there you go.

        • Ed Boswell

          Buzz off, Alpha Creep. I can’t attach the drawing of the procession showing Oxford in position to hold the canopy for the Queen, or I’d show it to you. He was the Great Lord Chamberlain, not a two-bit actor, and was most certainly high enough in rank to warrant holding the canopy for the Queen, so let’s assume the highest ranking Earl in the realm most likely on at least one occasion held the canopy for the Queen. As for “humourless minds” (underlined in red on my computer as a misspelling) scroll back to read the pitiful attempts at “humour” exhibited by your buddies. They sicken me. It makes total sense why you and your pals think someone as dull as Shaksper is the true author. As for me, the fact that Oxford had as fine an education as the Queen herself, and was tutored by eminent scholars, and had access to one of the world’s greatest private libraries at Cecil House is worth knowing. Considering that the 1609 sonnets describe the poet as “ever-living”, as in DEAD, and that the Dedication to the First Folio is given to Oxford’s in-laws, I’m truly baffled why the ridiculous and lout spawning Stratford Myth still exists. Granted, fools whose life work is based upon the myth will fight like badgers, as well as the Stratford Tourist Trap, along with dullard smart-ass jerks such as yourself, but I would think more academics would step forward to end this charade. If they read the mean-spirited tripe you and your comrades produce on comment threads such as this, they might make the effort to erase this example of human stupidity once and for all. In the meantime, without meaning to repeat myself, Buzz off, Alphafraud~~~~

          • Humo-u-r is correct. We can’t answer for what colonials get up to but they should realise that even today, standardised spelling is still not universal.

            Ever-living doesn’t mean dead. Just as likely to mean still-living.

            Post your drawing on the internet. It won’t be of Oxford bearing the canopy.

            Keep taking those tablets.

  81. Alasdair Brown

    Shakespeare as Marxist

    Citizen:
    ‘We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians good. What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is an inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them.–Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we become rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge. ‘

    Coriolanus

  82. He might seem a younger Stratfordian Marxist, but by Sonnet 58 he was pure Leninist. Right after the Players Register negotiated the injury charter which limited exploitation to one’s own self-doing. –

    Sic semper tyrannis:

    That god forbid that made me first your slave,
    I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
    Or at your hand the account of hours to crave,
    Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure!
    O, let me suffer, being at your beck,
    The imprison’d absence of your liberty;
    And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each cheque,
    Without accusing you of injury.
    Be where you list, your charter is so strong
    That you yourself may privilege your time
    To what you will; to you it doth belong
    Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.
    I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;
    Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

    • You may be onto something

      Let the “socialist” snivellers croak, let the
      bourgeoisie rage and fume, but let only
      people who shut tight their eyes not to see,
      and block up their ears that they may not hear,
      will fail to notice now all over the world
      the birth pangs of the old capitalism,
      pregnant with socialism, have begun.

      Lenin writes in blank verse.

      Who knew?

      • Alasdair Brown

        Never mind Marx or Lenin. Shakespeare invented Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in King Lear. Can anyone really imagine Edward De Vere having a fantasy about subjecting an English monarch to ideological rehabilitation by stripping him naked and sending him out on a heath in a raging storm to make him realise this:

        ‘Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
        Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
        And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
        Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw doth pierce it.’

    • Alasdair Brown

      Sorry Greg, you’ll have to explain to me in more detail why this is a Leninist sonnet. Is it something to do with waiting for the train to the Finland Station to arrive?

  83. The Stratfordian commentary on this blog illustrates in quite striking terms the reasons why the orthodox view of Shakespeare is failing. Here we read every logical fallacy in the book, especially those of straw man, ad hominem, argument by innuendo, etc. ad nauseum. It is telling that Professor Wells must depend on such a host of arguments from ignorance in order to sustain the plausibility of his case. Mr. Brown, get a grip on yourself and learn something about Edward de Vere. Then you won’t have to keep asking silly rhetorical questions which are logical red herrings. The first thing you learn about Edward de Vere if you are really serious about this discussion, after the fact that he was a known closeted dramatist who cast a legendary if carefully suppressed shadow of influence over his own day, is that he was one of the most downwardly mobile men in the history of England. The word most commonly written in the margins of his Geneva Bible is “poor.” Nearly every serious admonition to charity in both the old and new testaments is underlined in that book. Therefor we should not be surprised to learn that, according to the testimony of those such as G.M. in *Honour His Perfection* (1624) (among others), among the most generous of Elizabethans.

    Ask your own question about the guy you are defending as the author, a money lender and grain hoarder who prosecuted people for a few shillings and died as one of the wealthiest men in Stratford. Huh? Your sociology leaves a little to be desired, to say the least.

    • You have yet to prove that =any= of your Geneva graffiti are in Oxford’s hand–or even in the same hand. Over three centuries, the book belonged to many readers. As many as willed could have written in it, for disparate and unknowable reasons of their own. It is (barely) possible that at some time someone went from reading Shakespeare to their Bible, to mark his allusions; but the overlap both ways between his scriptural concerns and this marginalia is statistically random.

      The patterns that you think you see in it are pareidolia, canals on Mars.

      As for De Vere, the only “shadow of influence” that he cast was over servant-boys.

    • Alasdair Brown

      Roger:

      My perceptions of the author of the plays and sonnets are fundamentally based on two things:

      1. His writing demonstrates that he was a man who thought completely outside the ideological boxes of his time in a quite astonishing way. Those would be the boxes of class, gender and race.

      2. His plays demonstrate a man for whom theatre was absolutely central to his life – a man who lived and breathed and dreamt theatre constantly.

      With regard to 1

      It may surprise you to know that I do not totally discount the possibility of someone else having written the plays. I believe everyone who cares about the authorship question should have one small door in their mind which is capable of being opened should a convincing piece of evidence present itself. Whether or not you own such a door, I don’t know.

      If somebody could demonstrate to me that Oxford was a very unusual person indeed for an aristocrat of his time and possessed the radical mindset which Shakespeare exhibits, I might be interested. I associate Shakespeare’s mindset with the new, driving energy of the middle- class cultural revolution of which he was part.

      However, the rank and file Oxfordians predicate their case on an aggressive insistence that De Vere was completely TYPICAL – a falcon- flying, silken- gloved , canopy- bearing aristocrat with all the values and attitudes associated with that stereotype.

      And further, that the sensibility of this stereotype permeates the plays. This is the construction of Oxfordians and not mine. If I make silly innuendoes, it’s because I find this construction silly.

      If you are discovering evidence to the contrary, as you suggest, then maybe you are failing to communicate properly with your supporters.

      With regard to 2.

      Please do correct me if I am wrong but I understand Oxford did not become a theatre patron until he was 30. This was not because he was interested in the theatre but because he wished to curry favour at court. I also understand there is not a single reference to the theatre in his letters and minimal, if any, evidence of his interaction with his players. “Best for comedies’ doesn’t convince as anything other than fawning.

      Where is the evidence of the intensely practical ‘shop floor’ involvement he would have needed to develop such a brilliant sense of stagecraft? You have a bit of work to do on that one. Good luck.

      If you really insist, I can respond to those mantras about the grain – hoarding etc with those of my own. Another time maybe?

    • “The Stratfordian commentary on this blog illustrates in quite striking terms the reasons why the orthodox view of Shakespeare is failing. Here we read every logical fallacy in the book, especially those of straw man, ad hominem, argument by innuendo, etc. ad nauseum.”

      Your foolish triumphalism is as hollow as your arguments.

      What we are actually looking at is some concentrated pressure on a central piece of Oxfordian catechism. ‘Why did they (sic) choose sonnet 125?” cries the bemused herd on ShakesVere. The answer, of course, is because it is a keystone in the Oxfordian arch.

      What we have actually seen is a perfect synthesis of what lies right at the heart of The Oxfordian Fallacy. Misunderstanding and misinterpretation of truly great creative work.

      Sonnet 125 is a masterpiece. It is clearly, unequivocally, written by a poet lower in the social scale than its intended recipient, clearly saying that the trappings of wealth and courtly life are nugatory compared to the rewards of true love, ‘not mixed with seconds’. It demonstrates a humility and capability for self-sacrifice which are nowhere evident in the biography of De Vere and a measure of verbal dexterity and metrical agility which come from an entirely different creative universe to the Earl’s plodding, self-pitying threnody.

      In short, The Oxfordian Fallacy can’t contain or explain Sonnet 125.

      Not only does it not fail to correspond with any of the central planks of argument, not only does the author fail to match the profile but the catechistic Oxfordian reading (not Hank’s – bravo Hank!) depends on a misunderstanding of its first line.

      Making too much of a single issue in a wide debate, perhaps?

      No.

      This is the core technique of Oxfordian argument. Grind the evidence till it fits. Put it in the catechism. Learn the responses.

      Your arrogant, totally unsupported, summary of the debate here is just another illustration of the blindness of the cause.

      Largely thanks to Orloff and Emmerich’s exposition, it’s a lost cause, these days.

      That’s why you can’t get anyone to come to your conference. Who, in their right minds, would want to risk giving credence to that nonsense?

  84. Paul Crowley

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: ” . . “Yet the Strat case does not survive its first line.” This would be first line you have failed to understand despite it being explained to you upwards of 10 times. ”

    Actually you ‘explained’ it once, and have been careful to avoid repeating the words. (August 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm ” . . The poet did not bear the canopy. . . . He is addressing himself to someone who did [thought it was a big deal]. The fact that ‘The Stratford man would not have come within a social mile of such a role’ is partly the point of the poem . . BEING A COMMONER, . . He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots. . . )

    So when the poet says “Were it ought to me I bore the canopy” you produce a typical Strat ‘reading” “Were it aught to me that I DID NOT bear the canopy”.

    Of course, you will never make an attempt at a paraphrase. Apparently the Stratman was a socialist yeoman, and was upbraiding his aristocratic patron for wanting to bear the canopy, and for supporting feudal ideas about hierarchy. Putting this nonsense into words only brings out its absurdity.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote “Because you can’t distinguish between past and present tenses and the indicative and subjunctive moods? We may have stopped teaching the subjunctive mood in Basic Grammar but that doesn’t mean it has gone away. Ask anyone who speaks French or Spanish.”

    You can spout empty abuse with words you don’t understand, but you can’t do a paraphrase.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote Your latest example actually underlines your own confusion. “Were it aught to me if my mother were to die next year” This is a mixture of everything and makes no almost no sense whatsoever.

    That’s what I said. I was merely trying to do your job and put your reading into some kind of recognisable parallel fprm. Not a hope, of course, You don’t try because ‘making sense’ has never been your aim, nor within your capacity. The poet was a master at compression, and ambiguity. It’s often not easy to clarify what he is saying. You have to work at it. Avoiding paraphrases and parallels, and mouthing grammatical terms you don’t understand, is not the way to do it.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote Your extended analysis, a bit higher up, reveals you don’t really know what rhetorical questions are

    Rhetorical questions are those which don’t expect answers. Are you reallly claiiming that the poet expected an answer to his “Were it aught to me . . ” ‘question’ . . ?

    alfa at oxfraud wrote ” . . . and you don’t seem to know what sarcasm is, either. “The poet is lying or being political or being sarcastic.”

    People who pose rhetorical questions of the “Would it matter to me , , ” kind, are commonly lying, or being political or being sarcastic — or some mixture of all three. That’s how it is with real people in the real world.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: “is your assessment of the second quatrain”

    I did not assess the second quatrain. I skipped over it (as I said) as being parenthetical to my point about the grammar of the ‘question’ and its ‘answer’.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: “The second quatrain is a commoner’s assessment of worth of courtly behaviour and ambition. Pitiful thriving, he calls it. It’s bitter and resentful, as you might expect from a commoner addressing the issue of aristocratic entitlement. ”

    Courtiers hung around the court day after day, year after year, and saw exactly what that the poet says he saw. A visiting commoner would not have grasped what was going on, let alone been bothered by it.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: Was Will a Red? Famous socialists Hazlitt, Marx, Engels and Brecht all thought he was. Where is De Vere’s socialist pedigree?

    Actually, he was s feminist and campaigned for gay rights (including gay marriage), for racial equality, and for equal pay, for the abolition of capital punishment and every kind of physical punishment. He read the Guardian every day and voted Liberal Democrat. IOW, to be a Strat, you need a really firm grasp of history.

    • Alasdair Brown

      Paul. I have accepted the challenge to do a paraphrase of Sonnet 125

      Note: I have invented the first line because I think you have to do this with a number of the sonnets as they seem to be responses to something just said by the person to whom they are addressed. And picked up a clue from 124 which `i think is part of the same conversation. As we know, speculating about the context of the sonnets is something virtually everybody does. So forgive this invention. I don’t think the rest depends on it.

      Sonnet 125:

      What you say about my secret social aspirations is false . You must know what I would say in the extremely unlikely event of my being ever offered an opportunity to …carry the canopy- for example.

      Do you really think I am the kind of person who wants to show off by poncing down the street in a royal procession? I don’t care about people’s rank and status. I care about who they really are. I’m not worried about doing something which will write my name in history. I am worried about getting ill and dying .

      Everybody knows about those flattering panders at court who go over the top in their fawning and end up in the creek without a paddle. Do you think I want to be one of those pathetic sycophants who salivates at the idea of promotion but can’t tell the difference between a plate of wobbling, pink blancmange and good honest sausage and mash?

      (Sorry! End of rant)

      Look . The only thing I want to be a servant to is my love for you. I have no desire to be at court. The only place I want to be is in your heart. I just ask you to see that my love for you is honest and simple and uncomplicated, and real. That’s all there is to it .

      So away with your doubts about my feelings, my honesty and my motives. They are coming into your head as if they were planted there by one of those creeps at court who are paid to spread false rumours.

      You can’t control the love I have for you. You can doubt me and you can accuse me. But my love is here to stay and just grows deeper and deeper whatever you say to me.

      • Lovely piece of work, Alasdair. I would just draw a bit more attention to the juxtaposition in the last line of ‘most impeach’d’ and ‘least in thy control’. This is clearly a relationship without much of a future.

        How does this sound?

        ‘Your accusations could not have been more painful and so have liberated me from the need to carry on paying attention to what will make you happy”

        or maybe

        “and he’s like ‘Oh give me a break, buy me a coffee’, and I’m like ‘Oww, it’s no good asking me for anything now, you’ve done all you can to hurt me and accuse me of What-ever, so it’s no good expecting to bully me into babysitting your kids any more”

        • Alasdair Brown

          I like the first one . It’s a very difficult last line. An hour’s discussion at least! I went for something a bit too cheesy I think.

          Thinking more about MOST impeached

          ‘Your accusations are like that courtier’s rumours. The greater the number of them ( or the more ridiculous they are) the more my case is proved to be true.’

          Bit like the avalanche of arguments in Ed Boswell’s postings really!

          • The exercise underlines the fact that whilst you can argue forever about appropriate paraphrases, ultimately it’s a pointless exercise.

            You read and recognise Will in the sonnets precisely because, to communicate his meaning, you sometimes need 40 words to explain two of his.

            • Alasdair Brown

              Agree. And we’ve used a thousand words trying to explain to Paul the significance of ‘Were’ plus ‘it’. It’s been emotional. And surreal. I’m outa here.

    • Like so many Oxfordians, you interpret criticism as abuse. For whatever reason.

      Your original boast, let me remind you, was that you could provide an Oxfordian reading of any sonnet which would prove that Strats ‘have not the beginnings of a clue as to what any of them are about.’

      You then treated us to an extended failure to prove that 125’s first sentence, ‘If it meant anything to me to have borne the canopy” – if you must have another paraphrase – was not in the subjunctive mood, coupled to an entirely misguided interpretation of the following three lines accompanied by your laughable impressions of what you claim Stratfordians think:

      >>Line 2: ” . . With my extern the outward honoring . .” implies ” With my internal thoughts the inward dis-honoring”. No subject would say (or imply) such a thing publicly — so there is clearly much else going on. This is explicable (just about, and with complexities) with Oxford as the poet, but has no purchase whatever if the Stratford man wrote the line — which is why all the standard Stratfordian commentators simply skip it.

      You take the liberty of assuming Will means the opposite of what he says (destroying the sense of the rest) for no better reason than that it fits your argument – “just about and with complexities” of course! And then, having irrationally changed the phrase’s meaning to its opposite, you conclude it resembles De Vere’s biography better then Will’s.

      >>Line 3 ” . . Or layd great bases for eternity . .”. Here the poet states that (among other things) he is fully aware of the greatmess of his literary achievements. Whereas, according to Stratfordians, he wrote only for the money.

      The poet is talking about court ceremony, outward show and aristocratic entitlement. However great these are perceived, by courtiers, who he will go on to call ‘pitiful thrivers’ in a few lines, however much they may appear to be eternal, they are transitory.

      Since the opening of the theatres, no playwright has written for anything other than money. But what poet writes sonnets expecting to be paid? Another groundless jibe.

      >>Line 4 ” . . Which proues more short then wast or ruining . .”. What waste or ruining did the Stratford man ever experience? (There is no need to elaborate on Oxford’s life in this regard).

      Your final misunderstanding. Line 4 finishes the conditional statement begun in the first line. Sic transit gloria mundi. ‘Bearing the canopy’, ‘outward honouring’, ‘laying great bases for eternity’ can all be transitory. The line has nothing to do with anything ruined in the poet’s life.

      The rest of your interpretation simply amplifies these mistakes. There is no sarcasm, the poem is not packed with religious allusions and your claim that most commentators agree ” the poet loved Catholic form and ritual.” is another of your wild imaginings.

      You introduced the idea that 125 was political, not me.

      Anyway, I’ve explained the whole sonnet once and its first quatrain three times.

      In direct contradiction of your boast, as you proudly confirm, you haven’t really offered any proof you’ve read beyond the first 8 lines.

  85. (I’m afraid I took the comments too far away from Stanley Wells.) But I can’t resist asking, did the Stratford man bear the canopy before or after his restraining order in Southwark? The poor lad fell in among the gangsters of London. And, that, really is all we know about his career, other than being listed as possessing (someone’s) share of the newly built Globe at the end of the 1600s. Most likely obtaining his share by coercion.

    Our real playwright used the ‘canopy’ often. In Hamlet, the ‘canopy’ contained anxiety. It kept mortality away in Sonnet 12 – the veil between life and death. The same in Julius Caesar, Henry VI, and R & J. In Sonnet 125, it was more the dichotomy of ‘her’ public and private kiss (I believe). Yes? Which was an anxiety; even limbo?

    GUILDENSTERN: My lord, we were sent for.

    HAMLET: I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
    prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king
    and queen moult no feather. I have of late–but
    wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth, forgone all
    custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
    with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
    earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
    excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave ****
    o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
    with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
    me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
    What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
    how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
    express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
    in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
    world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
    what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
    me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
    you seem to say so.

    Sonnet 12
    When I do count the clock that tells the time,
    And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
    When I behold the violet past prime,
    And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
    When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
    Which erst from heat did canopy the herd, ****
    And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
    Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
    Then of thy beauty do I question make,
    That thou among the wastes of time must go,
    Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
    And die as fast as they see others grow;
    And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
    Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

    125
    Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy, ****
    With my extern the outward honouring,
    Or laid great bases for eternity,
    Which proves more short than waste or ruining?
    Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
    Lose all, and more by paying too much rent
    For compound sweet; forgoing simple savour,
    Pitiful thrivers in their gazing spent?
    No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
    And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
    Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art,
    But mutual render, only me for thee.
    Hence, thou suborned informer, a true soul
    When most impeached, stands least in thy control.

  86. Alasdair Brown

    Greg. It’s only you guys who are saying somebody actually the bore the bloody canopy. I think I’ll need a restraining order myself if I see that word again. I mean – were I to see it again. Yes… I know we started it! You still haven’t explained that Leninist sonnet btw.

    • Paul Crowley

      Actually it’s the poet (remember him) who says “I bore the canopy”. You’ll find the words in the first line, and they are preceded by “Were’t aught to me” which in modern idiom would be “Does it matter to me that . . [ I bore the canopy ]”. Note he doesn’t say “Were it aught to me if I might sometime in the future be invited to bear the canopy”. So it’s all the poet’s fault. Why didn’t he say what you want him to say? If you’d been there, you’d have put him right, and made him use the grammar that you think should be in the poem. It would have been a much better sonnet.

      .

      • Well that simplifies everything.

        If the poet bore the canopy, we can rule out Oxford completely.

        • Greetings and Salutations!

          Hey guys (Strats AND Oxfordians), you’re giving me a popsicle headache!

          You’re like a bunch of medieval theologians hacking away at one another, arguing over how many angels can fit on the end of a pin – Jeesh, lighten-up, will ya? Did any of you read my plea for civility in my Aug. 5th, 9:22 PM letter?

          Anyway, sorry I’ve not been able to get back to you sooner, Alfa, but some family matters have tied me up the past few days – such is life…

          Hope you don’t mind if this novice (re. the Sonnets, anyway) joins the fray…I’d like to pass along a couple of paraphrases of Sonnet 125 for your (and anyone else’s) consideration and share some thoughts.

          A. The one from *Sparknotes*’ “No Fear Shakespeare” is as follows:

          “Would it matter at all to me to carry the ceremonial canopy of a monarch in a procession, honoring the display of power with my appearance? Or would I think it worthwhile to lay the foundations of supposedly eternal monuments, which actually last only as long as decay or ruin permit? Haven’t I seen those who focus on appearances and covet the favors of the powerful lose everything, by spending too much on their obsessions? Such pitiful strivers give up simple pleasures for the sake of lavish meals, using up all their resources on their fickle desires. No, I shall be obedient and faithful to you only, and you shall accept my offering. It is simple but freely given, contains nothing second-rate, no unnecessary additions, only mutual surrender: myself for yourself. Get out of here, you paid spy: When a faithful person like I am accused, someone like you has no power over him.” (p. 251)

          B. From Hank Whittimore’s “Monument”…a line-by-line translation (reflecting the Prince Tudor Theory):

          “Would it matter to me if I bore the Canopy today,
          With my outward self honoring Elizabeth in public,
          Or joined great ceremonies for eternal fame
          That will be no match for time’s waste of them?

          Have I not seen poor courtiers seeking favor
          Lose everything by selling their souls
          For Royal gifts; giving up unalloyed pleasure,
          Pathetic aspirers wasting time with adoring looks?

          No, let me honor her funeral with YOUR heart,
          And take now my sacrificial offering, freely given,
          Which is not corrupted and has no contrivance,
          But only mutual sacrifice of me for you, my son.

          From now on, testify falsely! A true prince
          Accused of treason has least in control as king.” (p. 650)

          Some thoughts to share:

          For what it’s worth, it appears to me that the opening line, “Were’t ought to me I bore the canopy” is translated/paraphrased essentially the same in both renditions…so, I don’t understand why everyone has to get their knickers all in a twist over such minutia.

          As to whether or not anyone has ACTUALLY carried a canopy, Whittimore comments, “Oxford may or may not have been one of the noblemen in the procession who ‘bore the canopy’ over the Queen’s coffin; the wording of the opening line can be taken two ways: (1) ‘DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO ME THAT I BORE THE CANOPY?’ (2) ‘WHAT WOULD IT MATTER TO ME IF I HAD BORNE THE CANOPY?’

          He continues, “Whatever the case, he is expressing profound sorrow and even bitterness; the end has finally come and all hope for his son’s succession been lost…Oxford is also summing up his more than forty years of service to the Queen, starting when he became a Royal Ward in 1562; and so his opening line might read: “What does it matter to me if I participated in so many royal ceremonies to support the state?”

          This is just my gut reaction to these two examples-

          A. Seems a bit amorphous to me, kinda like trying to nail Jello to the wall…and the line, “Get out of here, you paid spy” seems very awkward, even incongruous within its given context – can’t figure out who’s being addressed or spoken to.

          B. Whittimore’s take on it at least gives matters flesh and blood, and thus, a more compelling read, whether or not one agrees with the PT theory. – something to hang your hat on, if you will.

          Well, it’s approaching 10 PM, I’ve got to get up at the crack of dawn – so it’s off to bed!

          Take care, Alfa!

          Sincerely,

          GB

        • Still throwing that scary subjunctive leg out of bed. I think the problem’s neurological.

          • Paul Crowley

            Nat Whilk : Still throwing that scary subjunctive leg out of bed. I think the problem’s neurological.

            There is no point in throwing around words you don’t understand. WHAT are you claiming that the poet meant to say? The only ‘reasonable’ Stratfordian reading so far was Alasdair”s suggestion that ‘bearing a canopy’ was a figure of speech for the achievement of a certain social status. But (a) there is not a scrap of evidence for that, and (b) it would still have been far beyond the Stratman’s reach. He didn’t even get a knighthood — not even when James was giving them out for almost nothing.

  87. Elizabeth’s funeral canopy was borne by six Knights of the Garter.

    Hank’s paraphrase is pretty good, until he drags the PTT into it. Paraphrasing great poetry is not the way to go about understanding it. It’s not written in code.

  88. Paul Crowley

    Alasdair Brown wrote: If somebody could demonstrate to me that Oxford was a very unusual person indeed for an aristocrat of his time and possessed the radical mindset which Shakespeare exhibits, I might be interested.

    You’re not interested, of course, in what you can find about “the radical mindset” of the Stratman . . . how he was so desperate to become a ‘gent’; how he brought up his daughters to be illiterate, how – even though rich himself — he pursued trivial debts through the courts, how (almost uniquely for his time) this ‘gentleman’ never learned how to make a presentable signature. However your basic logic is wrong. Which other great author has left non-literary personal letters (or left a non-literary personal reputation) from which you could deduce that he or she possessed the genius (or the enormous talent) we know he or she actually did had? Byron? Shelley? Jane Austen? Tolstoy? James Joyce? Dylan Thomas? Scott Fitzgerald? Hemingway? Evelyn Waugh? Likewise the personal lives of artists in other fields rarely match their work. Nat Whilk would never be able to listen to Mozart if he had read his letters to his sister. Or how about Wagner or Caravaggio?

    Alasdair Brown wrote: I associate Shakespeare’s mindset with the new, driving energy of the middle- class cultural revolution of which he was part.

    Then you demonstrate a profound ignorance of history. The great bulk of the population consisted of rural peasantry; with some rural yeomanry; craftsmen in towns and cities were nearly always illiterate; the gentry consisted of around 2% of the population with a small number of aristocrats. The few professionals (doctors, lawyers, clergy) worked for the gentry. There was simply no room for a ‘middle class’, not then, nor for the next 200 years. When the term came into use around 1770, it had to be explained: 1766 Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark Letter. 25 Dec. in Memoires of an Unfortunate Queen (1776) 21 “There is no such thing here [i.e. in Denmark] as a middle class of people living in affluence and independence.” (From the OED). Even that is far removed from the modern conception of ‘a middle class’. How much of it today ‘lives in affluence and independence’ ?

    The Stratford man came from the yeomanry (the top layer of agricultural manual workers). That class had been illiterate since it was began with the invention of farming some 10.000 years earlier. It remained illiterate until farm machinery drove it out of existence.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: However, the rank and file Oxfordians predicate their case on an aggressive insistence that De Vere was completely TYPICAL – a falcon- flying, silken- gloved ,

    Simply false. He was, of course, an aristocrat, and so was knowledgeable about hawking, hunting, fine gloves and the like (as seen throughout the canon) and he had the opportunity to travel overseas and to learn about politics, history, music, painting, geography, medicine, etc., — all topics inaccessible to the rest of the population, including the Stratman.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: And further, that the sensibility of this stereotype permeates the plays.

    Ludicrous distortion. That ‘stereotype’ (like all other stereotypes) had no sensibility.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: Please do correct me if I am wrong but I understand Oxford did not become a theatre patron until he was 30.

    The Oxfords had their own theatre company in their own house every winter — an ancient family practice. Oxford, as a four-year-old, would have understood more about theatre than all the illiterate inhabitants of Stratford-upon-Avon put together. Hamlet tells us how Yorick ” . . hath borne me on his backe a thousand times”: Yo-Rick was almost certainly Richard Tarleton, buried in 1588 in St. Leonard, Shoreditch. (Oxford lived 2 miles north, and the graveyard was on his way into London). Of course, none of this is forensic proof — nor liable to affect closed minds. But, set against the cultural wasteland (and the theatrical desert) into which the Stratman was born, and where he lived until his mid-twentes (according to Strats) which story is more plausible to open minds?

    Alasdair Brown wrote: Where is the evidence of the intensely practical ‘shop floor’ involvement he would have needed to develop such a brilliant sense of stagecraft?

    Having your own theatre company in your own house for every winter could provide a pretty good start for a trainee playwright, and budding literary genius. Can you think of any other playwright with that advantage? IMO Oxford wrote Gorboduc. The listed authors were Thomas Norton, an intense Calvinist (and Queen Elizabeth’s “Rackmaster-General”), and Thomas Sackville, who produced little or nothing literary in the rest of their lives..