The Dark Side of Shakespeare (A Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)
********** Home **********
Intro to Authorship Question **********
Trilogy's Outline **********
Figures from Vol. II **********
Shakespeare Contacts **********
Article 1 - Rare Dreame **********
Article 2 - Cannibal TEM **********
Article 3 - Signatures **********
Article 4 - Illit Shaxper **********
Article 5 - Munday Press **********
Article 6 - Ziggurat Jig **********
Article 7 - Tree of Sunne **********
Article 8 - Poor DNB Woes **********
Article 9 - Heywood Bard **********
Article 10 - Euphues SONs **********
Article 11 - Sackville &Sh **********
Article 12 - Latin Poems ***********
Article 13 - Bad Ciphers **********
Article 14 - Willobie **********
Article 15 - SacvylesOA **********
Article 16 - Groatsworth **********
Article 17 - Ox's Medicine **********
Article 8 **********

 
Posted May 2005
 
A Critical Review of Two Entries in the 2004 ed. of the DNB [Note: the following has been updated to include correction for each occurrence of mention of "Wolfgang Riehle" to read the correct "Rosalind Smith" that Dr. May had correctly used.  Plus, at the very end is a series of add-on exchanges between Mr. Hess and the DNB editor, Dr. Nelson, Dr. May, and an attempt to politely engage Dr. Smith, after a perfunctory dismissal had been sent out.  As new developments occur, this will be further updated].
 
On Feb 20, 2005 an attachment (at bottom) was sent with the following E-mail to Dr. A. Nelson, Dr. S. May, & the Editorial Staff of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB):
 

-----Original Message-----

From: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT) Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2005 9:52 PMTo: 'OxfordDNB@oup.com'; 'ahnelson'; 'Steven May'Subject: Oxford DNB Editorial Staff: Articles by A. Nelson & S. May

Blindcopied to an e-mail list (please forward); Copied to Dr. May & Dr. Nelson

Ladies & Gentlemen of the DNB Editorial Staff:

I applaud the excellent job that you did overall in updating the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) for its 2004 edition. Naturally there are corrections to be made for many entries, and one can't dismiss the overall effort just because of the errors of individual articles. Therefore, I'd like to focus on just two articles, the ones in Vol. 56, pgs. 286-89 and 277-78 for the articles by Dr. Alan Nelson on "Vere, Edward de" and Dr. Steven May on "Vere, Anne de." I'm openly copying to Dr. Nelson and Dr. May here so that they can give more quality time to the two points I intend to emphasize below.

Because I don't want my emphasis of just one point for each article to be interpretted as acquiescence in the rest of the two articles, I attach an 18-page "rich text" formatted critique which I will also post on my webpage at:

http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html.

The article was largely the work of my associate B.S. Hall, though it draws on my own analysis and citations in my multi-volume book "The Dark Side of Shakespeare" Vols. I & II accessible in their entirety online through instructions on my webpage.

The DNB Editorial Staff isn't being asked to address the entire critique, but rather just concentrate on the two focus points given below (noting that both points need to be accounted for in both Nelson's & May's articles).

Thank you for your attention,

W. Ron Hess

work: 301/402-4443 RH96B@nih.gov

home: 301/630-5577 BeornSHall@earthlink.net

P.S. I remind Dr. May and Dr. Nelson that over the past several years they've both several times agreed to respond to my article "Challenge of 'Another Rare Dreame'" which I attach below again for their benefit. It is currently scheduled for the Oct. 2005 edition of "The Oxfordian" and I'd like to update it to include their comments, as opposed to just notice of their failure to respond as they'd promised at our April 19, 2003 panels debate at the Smithsonian Institute.

<< File: OxDNB-Short.rtf >>

<< File: ARDKey.rtf >>

(A) Focus Point for Dr. Nelson's Article on Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford:

Dr. Nelson passingly noted the praises for Oxford as "the best for comedie" in 1589 and 98 by two different sources, and the praise for Oxford in 1586 as "the best among" courtier poets. Yet, although Nelson abundantly offered his personal opinions in every other sphere of Oxford's life (often based on inferior evidence or analysis), for these important literary praises of Oxford in drama and poetry, Nelson failed to provide the appropriate historical context that biographers owe to their readers. So, specially focusing on the two claims about "comedie," let's ask WHAT body of comedies it is that Dr. Nelson (and Dr. May) believe would be a good match for Oxford's, and if it might be reasonable that when Oxford was twice called "the best for comedie" during the time when Shakespeare's comedies were beginning to appear on stage, it would be natural to credit Oxford with at least some of the 14 comedic masterpieces of "Shake-speare?" If they intend for us to believe that ALL of Oxford's praiseworthy comedies have been "lost," they should provide a reasonable context by naming other greatly-praised playwrights who had all of their comedies lost then too. But, perhaps Oxford's comedies were not "lost." To make this analysis easy for Nelson and May, let's assume that there were several bodies of comedies back in that period from which to choose, and that one of them MUST be Oxford's comedies, and let's list what would be appropriate attributes to identify Oxford's body of comedies. They would have been:

1) actively circulated and acted in the period up to 1598 (otherwise Puttenham and Meres wouldn't have known of them);

2) anonymous prior to 1598 (otherwise we would look for a body of comedies with Oxford's name on them);

3) of sufficiently high quality to be esteemed as "the best" (unless there were comedies better than "the best"); and

4) of like-styled authorship (otherwise we must postulate that Oxford wrote with different styles, a rare trait even today).

And so, after scouring through all Elizabethan comedies, attributed or unattributed, we will find that there is but one body of comedies that fit all four criteria -- at least some of Shakespeare's 14 comedies, which were:

1) MOST of them actively circulated and acted, starting with "Comedy of Errors" by 1592, "Love's Labour's Lost" & "Two Gentlemen" by 1594, and excepting for debatable dating for "Tempest" and "Winter's Tale," all had been acted by 1598 or 99 (per the table used in G.E. Bentley's 1961 Shakespeare, A Biographical Handbook, New Haven, Conn., 1961, Yale U. Press, pp. 230-31);

2) ALL were anonymous until 1598's "Taming of the Shrew," 4 more were anonymous until 1600 or 1602, and 9 more were both anonymous and unpublished until 1623 (see Hess' Vol.II, pp. 213-98);

3) ALL were deemed among the best quality of comedies of that time, in fact of all time (ibid.); and

4) ALL were similar-enough in style that they related well to the authorial style used for the Shakespeare "Histories" and "Tragedies," as identified in the 1623 F1 (ibid.).

Oxford surrounded himself with much of the best literary talent of his time (Lyly, Watson, Munday, Nashe, Greene, Churchyard, Golding, Spenser, Heywood, Raleigh, etc.). And yet the best that Nelson et alia can credit Oxford with in order to explain two contemporary sources praising him as "best for comedie" has been a single wretched play, the 1600 Weakest Goeth... (more often credited to Munday). And that one play is cited only because its title page was marked as acted by Oxford's Men. In summary, Nelson's (and May's) failure to offer rational explanations for these praises of Oxford constitute an abandonment of the responsibility of historians and biographers to provide persuasive context.

 

(B) Focus Point for Dr. May's Article on Anne DeVere, Countess of Oxford:

Dr. May seems to have given a mistaken citation for an important article in his DNB article's bibliography, listing the author-article as "R. Smith, ‛The sonnets of the countess of Oxford and Elizabeth I: translations from Desportes', N&Q, 239 (1994), 446-50." On the service http://Infotrac.galegroup.com, the pertinent article with that title is identified as by W. Riehle at "N&Q, 41, 446-50." [Note: Subsequently it was shown that Dr. May's citation of "Rosalind Smith" was correct].  But there should be no trouble in identifying the true author of "Pandora," satisfying even Dr. May and Dr. Nelson. There are two direct identifications of Oxford as the primary author-translator, somewhat obscured by an inadvertent substitution used by May and Nelson in their articles, both incorrectly referring to "Southern" as the reputed author. Yet, as consistently used by Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith], the author was "Soowthern" on the title page and repeatedly "Soothern" in the text. So, it is more than coincidence that "Sooth" is Middle English for "Truth" (as in "soothsayer" or "for sooth"), and so "Soothern" = "of Truth" = DeVere = Oxford. In other words, "Soothern" was Oxford's pseudonym from the English translation of his French-derived surname! This could have applied to Anne DeVere as well, except that she was convincingly eliminated as author by Riehle. In the process, Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] unknowingly provided further evidence to identify Anne's husband as "Pandora's" author. In his discussion for his notes # 23 & # 24, Riehle stated that there were in 1588-89 some 40 epitaphs referring to Anne DeVere, and none noted her as a poet. Then Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] mentioned the text of an epitaph by "Robert Bibens" (another pseudonym? = tippler, imbiber, guzzler; possibly "Roberto" Greene, as in the 1592 "Groats-worth of Wit"?). Dedicated to Anne, this referred to "Pandora" in a Latin line:

"At comites in laude tua, Pandora, labascunt: Qui doni est author, laudis et ille comes."

Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] translated that Latin as:

"But your companions falter in your praise, Pandora: He who is the author of the gift is also a companion of the praise."

Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] correctly interpreted "the gift" as the text of 'Pandora,' and the masculine "He" as denying Anne as the author. But note that "comes" (= companion) was the Latin root of the French "Comte" = Count or Earl; and the "comites" may be reflective of "comitatus" (= retinue or Court). Thus, an alternative translation and direct identification is:

"But your courtly companions falter in your praise, 'Pandora': He who is the author of the text is also a praiseworthy Earl."

That mention of failed praise was for the book "Pandora," not for Anne (she had 40 epitaphs!). So, note "The Arte of English Poesie" criticized "Pandora's" over-adapting from Ronsard; and "Arte" was long in preparation prior to its 1589 publication (so long that it was insultingly dedicated to Anne's father with his pre-1571 title "Sir William Cecil," rather than to "Lord Burghley"). In summary, since both Dr. Nelson and Dr. May take it upon themselves to discuss "Pandora," they owe it to the historicity of their two subjects to point out that Oxford was the likely author of that 1584 book, even if it was also dedicated effusively to him, and that this is rather solid evidence that Oxford used pseudonyms for his literary works.

A Critical Review of Two Entries (Vol. 56, pp. 286-89) in the 2004 ed. of The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)

for "Vere, Edward de" by Dr. Alan H. Nelson, English Dept. Berkeley and "Vere, Anne de" by Dr. Steven W. May, English Dept. Georgetown College

Transcription & Corrections-Notes-Criticisms by Beorn S. Hall

Primary ref. source: http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html

Preamble by W. Ron Hess: Mr. Hall examined the biography articles by Dr. Nelson and Dr. May used in the updated DNB, and then asked my blessing for him to to map his corrections-notes-criticisms about the articles against citation material from my quadrilogy The Dark Side of Shakespeare (Vols. I & II available, ISBNs # 0-595-24777-6 & 0-595-29390-5, or see the webpage above). I agreed, but before we examine his results, I'd like to comment about Nelson and May, whom I hold in high regard, albeit with some misgivings about different ways we view the same evidence. Both men have rejected the "Oxfordian theory" (i.e., that the 17th Earl of Oxford was a better candidate for having written Shakespeare's works than was the orthodox candidate, Mr. Shakspere of Stratford), yet have been open, sharing, and engaging with it. Dr. Nelson's webpage (http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ahnelson), his book (Monstrous Adversary, 2003, ISBN # 0-85323-688-7), and abundant researches into primary evidence have added greatly to our collective study. And Dr. May has shown a cultured, patient willingness to correct our excesses in the literary analysis arena, while his book (The Elizabethan Courtier Poets (The Poems and their Contexts), Columbia, MO, 1991, U. of Missouri Press) is an excellent resource. Both these scholars deserve our thanks for helping us improve our scholarly standards. But, as you'll see from Mr. Hall's corrections and comments, "the Devil's in the details," and in analysis-context-interpretations-conclusions. Please join me in examining Mr. Hall's results, which are concerned with historical scholarship (balance, fairness, minimization of bias, intellectual honesty, and broader consideration of context). I know of few scholars, myself included, who could completely measure-up to all of Mr. Hall's expectations. By the way, the most revolutionary criticism-comment below is the very last one (# 8 under Dr. May's article)!

Note about Beorn S. Hall's Corrections-Notes-Criticisms of both articles:

Unless otherwise indicated, references are to Volumes I or II & page #s in Hess' quadrilogy, The Dark Side of Shakespeare, accessible online at: http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html

Vere, Edward de, seventeenth earl of Oxford (1550-1604), courtier and poet... Until his father's death he was known as Lord Bulbeck.

[1] The "courtesy title" for an heir presumptive to the earldom of Oxford was "Viscount Bulbeck," named for an Essex village. Elsewhere in the text, we'll see many places where Dr. Nelson has made unnecessary added comments which at their best gave gratuitously misleading impressions. Here, lacking the information in this note, by omission he gave the impression that "Lord Bulbeck" was an abnormal title or even insulting. Yet, the title may have been a factor in the 17th Oxford's later self-perception, and perhaps in a family tradition of great relevance. There was a similarly-pronounced village in Normandy near Harfleur called "Bolebec," a feature in Henry V's siege of that port during his Agincourt campaign. It so happens that Bolebec was the traditional home town of the Arthurian hero "Sir Lancelot." And though it's uncertain when the "Bolebec lion" first appeared on the DeVere crest, if the 17th Oxford used it, the crest displayed a golden lion on a red background, shaking a broken spear (i.e., "Shake-spear"; II, frontis.).

Education and early years Bulbeck matriculated... Queens' College, Cambridge... remaining for one academic year.... seems thereafter... tutored in the household of Sir Thomas Smith by Thomas Fowle.

[2] How long the future 17th Oxford studied at Cambridge U. (and later at Oxford U.) and when he first studied under Sir Thomas Smith are unclear from the evidence available. Other sources indicate he was first placed with Smith circa age 4, was at Cambridge from ages 8 to 12, and was making sufficient visits to Cambridge U. and Oxford U. during ages 12 to 16 to warrant his B.A. and two M.A.'s. In any case, Smith was one of the greatest men of power and learning in that age, with a wonderful library of sources used by Shakespeare (I, 55; II, 33, 49, 364).

Upon his father's death... succeeded to the earldom of Oxford and other hereditary dignities, including the ceremonial office of lord great chamberlain.

[3] The hereditary post of "Lord Great Chamberlain" was important during state ceremonies of pomp, and in authentication of prospective monarchs (I, 259-61). Although it was not to be confused with the Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, both posts were often referred to as simply "Lord Chamberlain." From 1573 to 83 and again from 1594 to 1603, the greatest acting companies in England were called "Lord Chamberlain's Men," and during both periods the patrons of those companies were likely close allies of the 17th Oxford. The earlier period was under Oxford's political mentor the 3rd Earl of Sussex (I, 261-90). The second period began under Oxford's cousin's father-in-law, and another likely ally, the 1st Baron Hunsdon (I, 290-91). From 1596 to 1603 there is uncertainty about whether the "Lord Chamberlains" of record were as actively engaged with affairs of the actors bearing their colors as Sussex or Hunsdon had been (the Lord Mayors and Privy Council could be seen to trample on the Lord Chamberlain's purvey over his troupe). Notably, in 1599 Robert Armin, one of the Lord Chamberlain's Men troupe, wrote that he "serves a master in Hackney" (Lord Great Chamberlain Oxford's residence; II, 226, 263, 508). Then, from 1603 to 41 (except for a brief period in 1614) all Lords Chamberlain of the Household were Oxford's relatives by blood or marriage, having some measure of authority over the Publishing Industry and over London play companies (II, 512, 514-15, 518).

His half-sister... challenged his legitimacy, claiming irregularities in their father's marriage to Margery Golding; Oxford was successfully defended by Arthur Golding, then his receiver.

[4] One of Oxford's poems ("The Honor of My Name xyz") may originate from this challenge to his legitimacy, when he was only 14 years old. Oxford's uncle A. Golding was more likely the "Receiver" of Wm. Cecil, in whose house both Golding and Oxford were residing, and Cecil also actively participated in Oxford's legal defense of his legitimacy (II, 94). Golding was about to engage in several years of translating Ovid's Metamorphoses, the first part published in 1567, and from the imaginative, non-literal style (in contrast to Golding's later Puritan works), some have argued that teenaged Oxford contributed to the effort (II, 116-17). In any case, Golding's Ovid was used by Shakespeare more than any other source except for the Bible (I, 24, 47, 55, 87).

As a royal ward... guardianship of William Cecil... his studies, which were put in the hands of Lawrence Nowell,... he learned French, Latin, penmanship, and dancing.... early taste for literature is evidenced in his purchases of books by Chaucer, Plutarch (in French), Cicero, and Plato (probably in Latin).

[5] Dr. Nelson neglected the likelihood that Oxford learned Italian, which he used in his excursion abroad in 1575-76. Nelson's book disparaged Oxford's Latin for various reasons; yet here he seems to acknowledge Oxford's mastery of it at an early age; and critics of Nelson's arguments about Oxford's Latin have shown that he has only belied his own poor mastery of that language, the "lingua franca" of Oxford's age (I, 87). Also, Nelson failed to note that Oxford in 1565 paid for a Geneva Bible, which is extant at the Folger Library, and Dr. Roger Stritmatter has argued that it has in its margins and underlining Shakespeare-relevant clues. In any case, Oxford owned a Geneva Bible, which was Shakespeare's greatest source of all (I, 87; II, 71)!

Oxford accompanied the queen... to Cambridge... and to Oxford.... Like others... he was granted an unearned MA on each occasion.

[6] There's little doubt Dr. Nelson earned his degrees, so it's amazing he should pretend to question that Oxford earned his. In all likelihood, Oxford frequently visited the campus of his Cambridge U. alma mater, near to his Essex estates and Sir Thomas Smith's home (so at least those 2 degrees seem "earned"); he may have visited Oxford U. en route to his Bilton or Cornish estates and/or was placed there for some time by Cecil (though this degree may have been "unearned"). Nelson has used incomplete evidence to pretend there was evidence of absence, and such false certainty is contradicted by the degrees in fact earned by Oxford (I, 55). Then he minimized Oxford's depth of tutoring from some of the best minds in Europe, book dedications made to Oxford while he was yet a teenager, testimony from one tutor that Oxford had little to be added to his education, etc. Instead, Nelson invidiously presented possibly-false information to support his apparent bias.

In July 1567, while practising the art of fencing... he killed an unarmed and possibly inebriated undercook.... A coroner's jury which was openly influenced by Cecil... spared Oxford, with the grotesque finding that Brinknell had committed suicide by 'running upon a point of a fence sword of the said earl'... Oxford thus learned that he could commit no outrage which Cecil would not forgive and... forget.

[7] Dr. Nelson is nowhere more clearly biased and anti-historical than in his discussion of the unfortunate undercook. All documentary evidence paints a portrait of Oxford as a party to an accident (I, 86; II, 59-63, 314). And yet, Nelson used "red-letter words," and has projected onto Elizabethan times such inappropriate modern opinions as "grotesque," in order to paint an unfairly lurid portrait. His pretense of knowing Oxford's and Cecil's psychiatric records is ridiculous! In particular, there were few instances of Cecil ever "forgiving or forgetting" anything. Nelson's retro-diagnoses were more illustrative of his own psychology than of his subjects' states.

...first of some eighty surviving letters... he begged Cecil to procure him some military duty.... he was sent to Scotland under the command of Thomas Radcliffe, third earl of Sussex, in or about April 1570.

[8] Another "red-letter word," why was "begged" more descriptive than "asked" or "urged?" Cecil was a major mover of Elizabethan politics for most of his adult life, particularly circa 1588 to 95 when he had outlived most of his political enemies (I, 5, 28-29). As Cecil's son-in-law, and with an extraordinary number of surviving letters to him, Oxford can be made to look like a "beggar" if one must take the evidence out of context, or with undue bias. In the 1569 context, Oxford had just recovered from a serious illness, and Nelson failed to note that the letter had a certain measure of boredom from confinement mixed with youthful urgency to see "action" before suppression of the Northern Rebellion and Purging of Scotland was finished. When Oxford served under Sussex, he did so with his cousin Charles Howard (2nd Effingham), Howard's father-in-law Henry Carey (1st Hunsdon), George Carey (2nd Hunsdon), Oxford's brother-in-law Thomas Cecil (2nd Burghley), and others later influential in Sussex's politics opposing the Queen's favorite, the Earl of Leicester (I, 263-64). Moreover, the first 3 and Sussex later held the Lord Chamberlain's post, and were active in the 1570s-90s Shakespeare-relevant London and Court stages (II, 499, 502, 508, 509). These family-political-cultural links were largely ignored by Nelson's biased account of Oxford.

Upon coming of age... engaged in the tilt... at Westminster.

[9] The tournament of 1571 was almost certainly intended to celebrate Oxford's coming of age, he won the event, and was awarded a tablet of diamonds by Q. Elizabeth. On Oxford's "team" in the joust was his cousin and lately a comrade in arms, Howard of Effingham (II, 499). There are many other evidences that Effingham was one of Oxford's best friends, and the two collaborated closely in Sussex's anti-Leicester alliance (I, 277-80). Later, as Lord Admiral, Howard was to be patron of the Admiral's Men actors, sharing with the troupe of Howard's father-in-law Lord Chamberlain Henry Carey (Lord Hunsdon) a "duopoly" over the London and Court stage during the period when Shakespeare's works began to appear (indeed, the Chamberlain's Men today is often called "Shakespeare's Company"). These connections for Oxford are lacking for Mr. Shakspere, for whom nearly all evidence lies in Stratford petty financial records, not in London (I, 1-6, 13-16).

In August he was appointed to attend the French envoy, Paul de Foix, who travelled to England to discuss the queen's projected marriage to the duc d'Anjou.

[10] The Duc d'Anjou in 1571 was the future Henri III (King after 1574). Oxford's appointment to greet the French envoy was important because it showed that: 1) despite Dr. Nelson's inferences in his book and webpage, Oxford was deemed adept in the French language (likely also in Latin, used for treaties); 2) Oxford in 1571 was high in the confidence of his Queen; 3) the "foreign marriage" policy of Oxford's father-in-law Cecil (after 1571 Lord Burghley) and Oxford's mentor Sussex was at that time favored over Leicester's anti-marriage policy (Oxford was identified with the marriage side for the rest of the 1570s); 4) Oxford was already beginning to build a network of foreign acquaintances & likely correspondents; and 5) contrary to Nelson's attempts to paint Oxford as a no-account wastrel, Oxford was occasionally involved in important matters of state, even if (for reasons we can infer) he was forced to do so in a stealthy or restrained fashion (II, 165-75). The 1571-72 French negotiations failed due to Henri's religious scruples, which he underlined during the Aug. 24, 1572 St. Bartholomew's massacre. In 1573-81 the French suggested a switch in negotiations with his less rigid brother Hercule Francois, Duc d'Alencon.

About the same time he declared an interest in Cecil's eldest daughter, Anne... received the queen's consent to a marriage.... The wedding... was attended by the queen.... The marriage was a disaster.

[11] Records of Oxford's betrothal to "Juliet-like" Anne Cecil depend on Burghley's accounts, which were likely biased by what Burghley wished posterity to see. The delay from July to December 1571 for the marriage goes with other evidence showing that Oxford was much-conflicted, and may have even tried to "escape" from the nuptials (II, 130). Why he was constrained to marry a commoner's daughter is much a mystery, but it was followed by an obvious loathing for his wife which haunted his biography and helped inform many Shakespeare plot elements (reasonably assuming that Shakespeare knew Oxford's life well). One possibility is that since Oxford and Anne were raised together in her father's house during the 1560s, they may have had a "heavy petting" episode that Oxford could not deny; yet, since no child was soon forthcoming, it would appear that Anne might have had a "false pregnancy" which ensnared her hero (II, 131-34). Or perhaps a hidden birth ensued, helping to explain the 1587 "Frances Vere" mystery (II, 134-36)? In any case, Nelson's "the marriage was a disaster" would be more accurate as "...began disastrously," since it did later result in at least: 5 pregnancies, 3 daughters, and 1 joint poetic exercise (the 1584 Pandora). Nelson's gratuitous personal opinions were nearly all misleading and unhelpful.

By March 1572 Oxford remonstrated with Burghley over the prosecution of... duke of Norfolk, and was suspected of arranging an abortive plot to rescue Norfolk from the Tower.

[12] Another reason why Oxford married Burghley's daughter may have been as a quid pro quo to save his cousin Norfolk's life. One biographer of Q. Eliz. suggested that Oxford held Burghley responsible when Norfolk was executed, even vowing to "ruin" his own estate in order to hurt Burghley through his daughter (II, 136). The Calendar of State Papers showed Norfolk writing thanks to Burghley for his efforts to free him, so it may be that such a quid pro quo did exist and Burghley was just unable to convince the Queen to pardon Norfolk, whose efforts to marry the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots would always be a threat to her's and Burghley's Protestantism.

On 22 September he entreated Burghley... had to settle for life at court, where he openly flirted with the queen. 'My Lord of Oxford', wrote Gilbert Talbot... on 11 May 1573:

is lately grown into great credit; for the queen's Majesty delighteth more in his personage, and his dancing and valiantness, than any other. I think Sussex doth back him all that he can: if it were not for his fickle head, he would pass any of them shortly. (Lodge, 2.100-01)

Talbot knew his man.

[13] Dr. Nelson's "...openly flirted with the Queen" ignored the age difference (Oxford was 23, Q. Eliz. 40) and the Queen's notorious flirtatiousness. So, it was much more likely that she admired his qualities, and there's little evidence of Oxford reciprocating. This is the likely meaning of the phrase "fickle head," in that Oxford did not appropriately notice or adequately take advantage of his queen's admiration. As usual, Nelson implied the worst about Oxford; his biased opinion "Talbot knew his man" was unqualified (there's no evidence Talbot was close to Oxford!). But Talbot did notice Sussex's involvement in this as a political matter. Had Nelson not curiously truncated his quotation (i.e., anti-historically biased his evidence), it would have continued:

"My Lady Burghley, unwisely, has declared herself, as it were, jealous, which is come to the Queen's ear, whereat she has been not a little offended with her, but now she is reconciled again. At all these love matters my Lord Treasurer winketh and will not meddle in any way."

This made it clear the episode was rooted in Sussex's and Burghley's politics (i.e., using Oxford to lure the Queen's affections from Leicester). They failed, but this simple piece of gossip has been used for poorly-supported theories that a child did result from the "fickle headedness," perhaps H. Wriothesley, 3rd Southampton, later Shakespeare's patron (born 5 months later in Oct. 1573).

Early in July 1574 Oxford departed without license for Flanders, the refuge of northern English Catholic nobility. Enraged, the queen... to fetch him back. ...in August Oxford and Burghley waited on the queen at Bristol with an apology.... she agreed to allow Oxford to travel abroad with licence.

[14] In a biased effort to paint Oxford as a traitor in domestic politics, Dr. Nelson warped his geography and ignored the larger context. Oxford traveled through Flanders only to get to Brussels, seat of the Spanish Governor General of the Netherlands. In the prior January, Oxford was noted as having dealt with Antonio DeGuaras (II, 321), an agent for Don Juan of Austria (illegitimate half-brother of Philip II of Spain and the Vicar-General of Philip's Italian domains: Naples, Sicily, & Milan). Until only a few months earlier, Louis Requesens, the Governor in Brussels, was Governor of Milan and a subordinate of Don Juan's. Also earlier in service to Don Juan was Bernardino Mendoza, a captain under Requesens. When Oxford returned to London, Mendoza arrived there too, and so the two may have traveled together. The whole episode seems rooted in Don Juan's famous "knight-errant" personality, for there was a great tournament planned for August in Piacenza, Italy, and invitations went to many princes across Europe (one went to Henri III, then traveling through Venice en route to Paris from Krakow; II, 324-25). Per reports of the English spy-master F. Walsingham, Oxford's "bolting" to Brussels had nothing to do with English expatriate traitors, and thus we can better understand it as improving English-Spanish relations, and perhaps responding to a heroic challenge from Don Juan. Mendoza negotiated a 3 year-long detente with England, and soon departed, with Oxford not far behind him (II, 324-26).

He left early in February 1575 and visited Paris and Strasbourg... Venice by April.

[15] Exactly when Oxford left for Paris is unclear, though his license to travel may not have been executed until after his departure if he'd already gotten verbal royal permission. Nelson's asserted in his book (120), that Oxford was still in England on Jan. 30, 1574/5 because that was when his book of entayles was dated (dubious, since the book may have been drawn up by Oxford weeks earlier and was thereafter in the hands of his retainer E. Hubbard and Burghley, who thereafter failed to properly register it). One matter pending was his apparent denial before the Queen that his wife was pregnant, and possibly also to his cousin Henry Howard (just when is in doubt, since Burghley's memo-to-self of April 1576 did not specify when Oxford spoke with Howard -- i.e., he may have done so before leaving for Italy -- and with Howard's unsavory record it may have been nothing more than Howard's malicious fictional gossip!). Yet, within a few weeks of Oxford's departure, Anne was examined by the Queen's physician, who reported to Her Majesty with a tale of Anne's moans about her father and husband ordering her to be silent about the pregnancy. On Mar. 17 Oxford wrote to Burghley just before departing Paris, making it clear that he approved of the prospective child (repeatedly calling it his "son"). Plus, he laid-out an ambitious agenda of travel to Greece and the Aegean, possibly to take "service against the Turk," which could only have meant joining Don Juan's anti-Turkish crusade (after Venice & the Empire had made separate peace, only Don Juan remained at war with the Turks; II, 330-36). Since Burghley was in the thick of these matters, it seems clear that he was aware of Oxford's larger mission, its vital importance to England, that the mission would be aborted should the Queen use Anne's condition to recall Oxford, and that the mission related to engaging Don Juan. In any case, in the "1581 Libels" Oxford's enemies reported he'd been recalled prematurely by the Queen before being able to execute a matter apparently related to hoodwinking Don Juan's garrison in Milan into aggressive moves against Genoa that would have touched-off a Spanish-French war much to England's advantage (I, 110)! This was echoed in a 1606 poem by Oxford's traveling companion Nathaniel Baxter (dedicated to Oxford's daughter Susan, by then Countess of Montgomery), which depicted Oxford as a knight-errant adventuring in the "Italian spring" of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (II, 161-64).

Over the next year he visited Padua, Siena, and Milan, among other cities... from Venice on 6 March 1576.

[16] Dr. Nelson said "other cities," likely including Naples, Genoa, Florence, and Rome (II, xlvi, 344-59, 391-94). In 1581 Oxford's enemies accused him of having been promised money from Don Juan (and Philip II) in Naples, and on Sept. 23, 1575 Burghley's banker-informer in Venice informed him Oxford had come "from Genoa" after he had "hurt his knee in one of the Venetian galleys" (I, 110; II, 354). This would have put Oxford in Genoa just when Don Juan, acting on Philip's orders, had sailed 40 galleys up to Genoa to intimidate the French-backed "New Nobility" into reinstalling government by the "Old," and then forgiving Philip the interest on his debts as the Spanish crown entered bankruptcy for the 3rd time in his reign (II, 352-54). In Feb. 1575/6, a convocation in Rome was chaired by Don Juan's assistant, Cardinal Granvella, bringing together 10 leading English expatriate traitors to discuss how best to prepare an invasion by Don Juan into England (II, 357-59, 391-94). Just then, Don Juan disappeared after supposedly passing from Naples to Loreto to visit the shrine of the Virgin (II, 358), and Oxford disappeared after visiting Florence (per Aubrey's report of a century later) and writing to Burghley from Siena, likely heading to Rome (II, 357). Because Don Juan was under orders from the Pope and Philip to prepare such an invasion (I, 123-27), and he desperately needed someone like Oxford to draw-together the fractious expatriate groups (II, 358), it's not too much of a presumption that the two were at the convocation in disguise. The convocation dissolved after 3 distinct groups could not agree, but the Pope sent a half-hearted invasion in 1578 anyway (I, 111, 118; II, 391-94).

He carried with him to Paris... luxurious articles of dress and toilet, a Venetian choirboy named Orazio Cogno, and memories of a Venetian courtesan named Virginia Padoana.

[17] Dr. Noemi Magri (of Mantua, Italy) examined the MSS "Inquisition" of Orazio (translated from Latin in Dr. Nelson's book, 155-57) and found Nelson was wrong about "Cogno" as the boy's surname (see her article in Great Oxford, 45-49, ISBN # 1-898594-79-1). The "Inquisition" was in Latin where the surname is "Coquo" (= "I cook"), but since the 15 year-old boy was Italian his surname was "Cuoco." So, when Oxford's enemies in 1581 libeled him with claims of buggering an "Auracio" and "the cooke" (Nelson, 213), they had expanded one malicious accusation into two perjured ones, illegitimating Nelson's persistent attempts to use them to sully Oxford's reputation! Indeed, Nelson's book abandoned "Cogno" for "Coquo," oblivious to mixing the languages. Again Nelson overstretched by referring salaciously to the cultured Venetian courtesan, V. Padoana, as if Oxford had fond memories of her (is Nelson setting up a school of "Para-psychological mind reading?"). In fact, the source from 1587 reported the retired courtesan "honoreth all our nation for my Lord of Oxfords sake" (138), not that he'd been one of her sex clients. To gain her respect, just an exchange of books or "comedia" scripts may have occurred.

Waylaid by pirates on crossing... bereft of many of his souvenirs... returning to London by river-wherry to avoid meeting Anne -- who in the interim had borne a daughter, Elizabeth -- at Gravesend.

[18] Dr. Nelson's disjointed sentence conveys several mischiefs. The "souvenirs" were likely presents Oxford had brought back for his wife and members of the Court, as per custom (Nelson did mention gloves for the Queen). The pirates were Dutch, and this was the opening salvo in a 7 months' undeclared war between England and the Dutch, not to end until the two parties were driven into each others' arms by the Nov. 1576 "Spanish Fury" that terminated England's detente with Spain (II, 362-63, 395). The "avoid meeting Anne," should read instead "avoid Burghley, Anne, and Thomas Cecil," though Oxford was shortly to show peevishness with Anne. Most likely it was a continuing dispute (over money) begun with Burghley 5 months before, when Oxford wrote him from Padua with complaints of Burghley's failure to send him money as promised, and still referring (favorably) to his newborn "son." The dispute between Oxford and his father-in-law involved L800 that in July 10, 1576 Burghley wrote about having sent him, but which Oxford had still not received even then (II, 79-93). There was also the matter of Anne's (and Burghley's) failure to conceal her pregnancy, such that Oxford's mission had been truncated prematurely. Oxford upped the ante in a note to Burghley stipulating that Anne was not to be at Court at the same time as himself. This did not mean Oxford believed his daughter Elizabeth was not his own, but almost certainly he felt he'd been lied to about the gender of the child (II, 145-51).

The distraught Burghley declared that Oxford had been 'enticed by certain lewd persons to be a stranger to his wife'... unable to conceive that his son-in-law preferred the company of the choirboy... suspicions of pederasty.

[19] Dr. Nelson wished to convey the most salacious meaning about Burghley's reference to Oxford's "lewd friends," but more likely these were the literati whom Oxford had already begun to gather around him in writing projects, which may already have included "origination" of many of the Shakespeare works (II, 298-99). As to Nelson's salacious suggestion that Oxford engaged in "pederasty," the only evidence given was the 1581 Libels (discussed above, and shown to be self-perjured). Nelson's own transcription of the "Inquisition" of Orazio had not a hint of pederasty in it, the boy's discontent having centered on Oxford's failure to be Catholic in his home. Rather than crediting Nelson's guffaw that Oxford brought an Italian choirboy to England for sex, we should examine Oxford's longtime interest and proficiency in music, including Madrigal (I, 320-29).

Oxford made himself fashionable by sporting... ingratiated himself with the queen by presenting her with... roses of coloured silk.

[20] Dr. Nelson's list of Oxford's Italianate fopperies only make Oxford's character more of a match for the exquisite personality pervading Shakespeare's works. The "early" plays exhibit "Euphuism," or a flowery Latinate overindulgent prose originated in the late-1570s and early-80s by Oxford's servants John Lyly and Anthony Munday, arguably intended to reform the English language.

Courtier Oxford's eccentricities and irregularities of temper grew with his years.

[21] More accurate: "Dr. Nelson's anti-historical biases grew with every claim he made!" Look at Oxford among contemporaries (Sidney, Leicester, Coryat, etc.), all of whom were eccentrics when examined; e.g., in 1577 Sidney lectured the Emperor in a long diatribe about how he should join Protestants in an alliance against his cousin Philip of Spain! Nelson pretended Oxford was a "monstrous adversary" in an obvious agenda to present a man too bizarre to have written the works of "gentle Shakespeare." Yet, whoever wrote Titus Andronicus was eccentric indeed!

From 1577 to December 1580 he and his intimate friends Henry Howard and Charles Arundel... Catholicism and sedition, amusing themselves... derided the queen, particularly her singing voice.

[22] Dr. Nelson neglected to mention that also at the table were Francis Earl of Southwell and Oxford's cousin Charles Howard of Effingham, who took much of the gab to be just good fun. There is much reason to believe that Oxford's role in what was described (and exaggerated) in the 1581 Libels was to entrap his conspiratorial "Marianist" friends H. Howard, C. Arundell, and F. Southwell, who wished to displace Q. Eliz. with Mary Stuart on the throne (II, 59-62).

Oxford nevertheless accompanied Elizabeth to Saffron Walden... Gabriel Harvey paid the earl conventional compliments in... his memorial volume, Gratulationes Valdenses.

[23] Dr. Nelson was wrong to call Harvey's 1578 Gratulationes "conventional compliments" of Oxford, and it may be Nelson hasn't bothered to read the text itself. Most Oxfordians are aware of the short passage variously translated from the Latin as "thine eyes darts shoots" or "thy glance spears shakes," but are unaware that the entire section it is found in was a prediction that Oxford was preparing to save England by destroying Don Juan of Austria, "the Hannibal at England's gates." And, scarcely more than 2 months later Don Juan was dead (I, 132-38).

About the same time Harvey composed a satire of Oxford as an Italianated Englishman... describing him as clad in... conceited in all poyntes... a passing singular odde man... Nash's charge that the earl caused his libeller to be imprisoned in the Fleet prison... was denied by Harvey.

[24] Dr. Nelson's "about the same time" was incorrect, since Speculum was more likely written 2 years after the 1578 Gratulationes by most reckoning (it was published among other letters and works in 1580). Since Nelson was concerned with Harvey's denials, he should have mentioned that Harvey later denied Speculum was really about Oxford, though most scholars assume Harvey was only being prudent. In 1578 Harvey had painted Oxford as a super-hero about to save his country, but in 1580 his Speculum caricatured Oxford as an Italianate Machiavel of foppish ways but sinister power (II, xxvi). Harvey's aligning against Oxford's anti-Puritan circle (Lyly, Nashe, Greene, & Munday) in the 1588-92 "Marprelate controversy" should show that Speculum was really part of power-politics by a religious fanatic. Another matter is that Nashe's charge was made about "Apis Lapis" (= "bull stone" = Bulbeck = Oxford's viscount title), but orthodox scholars normally demure (proposing a fictional "Bee stone" instead). Let's welcome Nelson aboard in this matter, for what Nashe says about "Apis Lapis" is at once comical and most sinister, weilding his "dudgeon dagger" against Puritan Harvey, and thus likely a leader of anti-Martinist activities in the "Marprelate" matter that led to several executions (II, 19-20, 48, 505-06).

In August 1579 Oxford insulted Sir Philip Sidney in the tennis court... Sources differ on who initiated the ensuing written challenge, but the queen interposed... ordering Sidney to defer to Oxford's superior rank. ...humiliation, Sidney retired from court. Oxford is reported to have plotted Sidney's murder.

[25] Dr. Nelson's favorite game was to pretend that anything favorable to Oxford was "unearned," "conventional compliments," or due to his social rank; whereas anything negative was "fact," worthy of emphasis no matter what the context was. The 1581 Libels involved 3 men accused by Oxford, whose first act upon discovering that they'd been betrayed was to seek political asylum from Spain, and who were kept in the Tower for months (vs. Oxford's several weeks). They believed their lives were in jeopardy and their best defense was to coordinate attacks on Oxford's personality, depicting him as a "monstrous adversary." They also said many things which actually buttress the case for Oxford having written Shakespeare's works, but you won't find much of those in Nelson's book, webpage, or his DNB entry. Yes, Oxford was accused of having ordered the murders of numerous men, and among them were some of his ex-servants (Raleigh served him circa 1574-79, was close enough to him afterwards to have been his second in a duel, and was reported to have been a member with Oxford in a literary group that also included Oxford's "Fighting Veres" cousins). But from 1579 to 82, Raleigh's career benefitted from his association with Oxford's great enemy, the Earl of Leicester. So, it's not surprising to find both Raleigh's and Leicester's names on the imagined "hit list" Oxford was accused of contracting to his "cutters." Similar accusations were made against Leicester (e.g., Leicester's Commonwealth of circa 1575-77). Even if many charges against Oxford were true, he was aligned against a world-class monster (II, 46-62). Yet, many accusations against Oxford seem to have been merely "warning shots," such as 1573 Deny the Frenchman at "Gads Hill" firing shots in the air or shooting the hat off a man in a later incident, each likely meant to frighten the victims rather than kill them (II, 16-28). Sidney was a nephew of both Sussex (Oxford's mentor) and Leicester (Oxford's & Sussex's enemy), and was often set against Sussex's & Oxford's pro-French marriage position; so Sidney was included in the hit list imagined by Oxford's enemies. Yet, there are clues that after his 1579 tennis court brawl with Sidney, Oxford shortly reconciled with him as ordered by Q.Eliz. This was apparently assisted by Sidney's poetic sister, Mary Countess of Pembroke (mother of Oxford's future son-in-law, Philip Herbert, who with his brother William were "the incomparable paire" to whom Shakespeare's 1623 F1 was dedicated). After Sidney's 1586 death, Oxford's poetry was found in tributes to Sidney, such as the 1591 Astrophil & 1593 Phoenix Nest (II, 286, 458-59).

On 16 December 1580 Oxford denounced Howard and Arundel to the queen... Hoist with his own petard, Oxford spent a few days in the Tower himself, but soon... won the prize in a tilt on 22 January 1581.

[26] Oxford's initial brief incarceration may have been more of a "debriefing" after his confession before the Queen prior to Christmas 1580 that he'd been luring Howard, Arundel, and Southwell into treasonous activities. He was said to have attempted to trap Southwell into trusting Oxford's abilities to smuggle him out of the country. As to the others, they fled to the home of Spanish Ambassador Mendoza and pled for asylum (as in a note to Henri III by the French Ambassador). Oxford had in 1577 urged his servant Anthony Munday to leave off an apprenticeship in John Allde's printing shop, take foreign language lessons from the expensive Thomas Hollyband (who would dedicate 2 poems to Munday as his "scholar" in Munday's 1579 Mirror of Mutabilitie, which Munday would elaborately dedicate to Oxford), and then undertake a hazardous and expensive trip down to Milan, Venice, and Rome, following Oxford's own footsteps into the heart of Catholic Italy. Munday briefly attended a Jesuit academy for English expatriates then returned to England and betrayed many of his fellow students to Burghley. In the 1579-81 timeframe surrounding the 1581 Libels, Munday helped destroy Father Edmund Campion, writing several books crowing about Campion's hanging in 1581. So, are we to assume that Oxford's conduct with Howard et alia was any different? It appears that Oxford was engaged in "trapping traitors" as Munday had been, and this was a life-long pattern (II, 46-74). But what are we to make of the tournament, its honors shared by Oxford and his 2nd cousin Philip Howard Earl of Arundel, nephew of the same Henry Howard Oxford had betrayed only a few weeks before? Mr. Hess' forthcoming Vol. IIIA, Appen. I, argues the jousting had a dark agenda in which Oxford was elaborately luring someone to destruction, fully aware his own disgrace was soon to be born.

On 23 March... queen's maid of honor Anne *Vavasour, who had been Oxford's mistress since 1579, gave birth to a son, whereupon he found himself back in the Tower... and in December was reconciled with his wife.

[27] Per E.K. Chambers, Anne (or Nan) Vavasour may not have been the same young woman who in the 1590s was rented from her husband as a live-in mistress by Sir Henry Lee (II, 252). Oxford's reconciliation with his wife did not stop him from taking some responsibility for raising his illegitimate son, the future Sir Edward Vere, who wrote to his father late in Oxford's life. Dr. Nelson failed to mention that the birth took place in the Queen's chambers at Court, so obviously Anne had been brought to that MOST embarrassing time & place by Oxford's and Sussex's enemies. Thus, it's interesting that in his will, Edward Flowerdew (1534-86, a parliamentary ally of Leicester's) left plate to Leicester & Sir Thomas Knyvet (Anne's uncle and Oxford's 1582 dueling opponent). The point is that as usual Nelson ignored the broader socio-political context to focus on the salacious.

Domestic tranquility was shattered... Oxford fought a duel with Anne Vavasour's uncle Sir Thomas Knyvet. Both men were wounded, the earl more dangerously.... quarrel continued on and off for a year, with deaths and injuries among retainers on both sides. In May 1583, at Ralegh's instigation... achieved a modus vivendi.

[28] Knyvet and Anne Vavasour's brother issued challenges to Oxford and Fencing Master Rocco Bonetti (to whom Oxford subleased a floor under the Blackfriars Theater in 1583-4), and men fell on both sides in a prolonged vendetta reminiscent of the rapier duels in Romeo & Juliet.

In August 1585 he sailed with John Norris to the Netherlands... his sudden return to England on 21 October in a fit of 'humour'. Still in the queen's graces, but impoverished, he petitioned her for a L1000 annuity... in 1586.... commissioner for the trial of Mary, queen of Scots... In 1588, during the Armada battle, Oxford volunteered for service at Tilbury but refused Leicester's request that he serve as governor of Harwich, thinking the position beneath him. When Oxford took his complaint to the queen, Leicester wrote to Walsingham: 'I am glad I am rid of my Lord Oxford, seeing he refuseth this and I pray you let me not be pressed any more for him'... To cover the earl's dereliction of duty Burghley, in a propaganda pamphlet issued the same year, refashioned Oxford along with other non-combatant noblemen, into national heroes.

[29] Harwich was part of the East Anglian region traditionally part of the military perimeter the DeVere's had defended for centuries (I, 254-61), and thus Leicester's suggestion that Oxford defend his own backyard while the Spaniards kicked-in the front door was a transparent insult. Besides, Oxford had a better offer to serve with his cousin and good friend, Lord Admiral Charles Howard. The "propaganda pamphlet" Dr. Nelson mentioned was apparently a 1589 anonymous poem depicting Oxford "in the mind of Pallas" (= Greek "Spear-shaker") as Howard's companion vs. the Armada, of which Nelson's doubts of authenticity were inadequately explained (II, 161). But note how readily Nelson could accuse Burghley of fraud when it suited his own biases.

Since 1569 Oxford had received votes for... the Garter approximately proportional to the esteem in which he was held by the queen. After 1588 he received no more votes while she lived.

[30] Oxford got no more votes after she died too! Dr. Nelson's listing of yearly votes on a tally sheet failed to give adequate, useful context. He neglected to note that Burghley was normally the one who nominated Oxford for the Garter, and so the ceasing of votes for Oxford after Burghley's daughter died in 1588 wasn't really linked to the Queen as much as to his father-in-law. And other factors were at play, such as that Leicester's secretary E. Dyer was an official in the Garter Order. Another context, in 1588 Leicester's son-in-law Essex was voted the garter, and the April 1588 Palladine of England ("Palladine" = "of the Spear-shaker") that in January Munday had promised to dedicate to Oxford was instead dedicated to Essex (possibly in deference to Oxford's wife's illness?; II, 503). Yet it would be wrong to link this to Oxford as hypothetically in disgrace, since Munday later dedicated several works to Oxford and his close relatives (II, 504, 510, 515-16, 519). Likely Oxford's social-political troubles were due more to the Queen's sentimentality for Leicester (the closest she ever had to a husband) and for Anne (among her favorite Maids of Honor), who each died in 1588. Since Oxford had long been one of Leicester's political opponents, Q. Eliz. was disinclined to question Burghley's antipathy for his former son-in-law, whom he'd long disapproved of and disagreed with over financial affairs (where records don't always exonerate Burghley; II, 79-92). Thus, Oxford's hopes for a public military career and preferment at Court were tabled after 1588 in favor of less visible pursuits. His nearly-bankrupt relatives Lord Willoughby and "the Fighting Veres" were supported somehow, possibly with smuggled munitions, since Burghley's cupidity and incompetence often left them at the mercy of swindles by the Treasurer's cronies (II, 93-97, 104-120). The "Marprelate tracts" of 1588-92 involved Oxford's circle and likely Oxford too (II, 20). And then there were the maneuvers of the "Shakespeare Enterprise" and the "Jacobean succession" that soon transpired.

He... a peer in the trials of Philip Howard, earl of Arundel, in 1589, and Essex in 1601. After Anne died of a fever in 1588, Oxford married again about January 1592. His second wife was Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Trentham... giving birth to a son, Henry de *Vere (1593-1625)... Moving from London, first to Stoke Newington and thence to Hackney, Oxford devoted his declining years to the endless pursuit of supplementary income... monopoly on fruit, oils, and wool... gauging of beer... pre-emption of tin in Cornwall and Devon (1595-9)... governorship of Jersey... the presidency of Wales.

[31] Dr. Nelson implied that seeking preferment for service to his country was a demeaning attribute unique to Oxford. Yet, his applications had arguments about how the matters in question were being inefficiently administered for the Queen, and how Oxford proposed to improve them! And Nelson passed by the fact that Oxford's homes seemed to be near to theater districts. Oxford House in central London was near the "Boars Head Eastcheap," Blackfriars, and other London theaters; Fisher's Folly just outside Bishopsgate was near the "Boars Head Aldgate" and the Shoreditch theaters, as were his later domiciles northeast of London in Stoke Newington and Hackney (I, 344). So, if Oxford's abodes indicated his priorities, then ingratiating himself at Court took a decidedly lower priority than being in the thick of the drama world of his time!

His numerous letters... endless disappointments. Bitter... he plotted against the royal succession by a Scot.

[32] Dr. Nelson's imputation that Oxford bore a grudge against the King of Scots is based on the extremely flimsy evidence of the "Lincoln Interview" a few days before Q. Eliz's death in 1603. Once again we see Oxford's life-long pattern of baiting potential traitors, as he had done in 1577-78 with his dispatching of Munday to Italy, in 1579 with his libels of Leicester, in 1580-81 with his exposure of Howard, Arundel, & Southwell, in 1588 with his circle harrying the Martinists, and with his 1603 attempt to get Lincoln to declare against the inevitable succession of James VI and in favor of Lincoln's relative Lord Hastings (II, 72-73). If Oxford opposed James, why did he not instead back the excellent claims of his own son-in-law, the 6th Derby (whose mother was the granddaughter of the sister of Henry VII)? Why would he have advanced James' rights in the Succession Great Council of 1603? Nelson can be very probing and insightful, so why would he advance the groundless claim that Oxford was in "bitter" treason?

His signature... absent from the proclamation of 24 March 1603... though it was added to the second impression. At James I's coronation... Oxford secured fees due to the office of lord great chamberlain; his annuity was subsequently extended.

[33] The extending of Oxford's L250 quarterly annuity in 1603 was evidence against Dr. Nelson's earlier "bitter" treason charge. And it was good evidence against the sometimes-broached notion that the annuity had been granted in 1586 simply to mend a broken patrimony, since James failed to extend it to Oxford's son and widow on Oxford's death. Much more likely, the annuity was connected to some service Oxford had performed, most likely in support of the "Jacobean" alliance that ultimately brought James to the throne (I, 291-300).

Perhaps succumbing to... high-risk behaviour of his youth, and... decade of complaints about his health, he died on 24 June 1604 and was buried on 6 July in the churchyard of... Hackney, without a memorial tomb.

[34] Did Oxford really die just as the Mid-Summer Night's Eve Festival was being held in Havering Forest? In the October 2004 The Oxfordian, Christopher Paul has listed a surprising number of documents that failed to acknowledge Oxford's death until circa 1609-10, and may have indicated Oxford lived on in seclusion at a lodge in Havering. Yet, C. Paul does acknowledge there was an "Inquisition Post Mortem" in Sept. 1604 and legal documents flowing from that inspection of his estates rights which did declare him deceased. This oddity (which Mr. Hess has fondly dubbed "Oxford's Gotterdammerung" = twilight of the gods) was even praised for its thoroughness by Dr. Nelson after C. Paul presented it at the Oct. 2003 Conference of the "Sh. Oxford Soc." Even more important, was Nelson correct about where Oxford was buried? Oxford's first-cousin Percival Golding, in his circa 1619-20 Armes, Honours... family of Veer MSS, reported that Oxford "lieth buried at Westminster," neatly comparing to W. Basse's circa 1622 call for Shakespeare to be put in Westminster Abbey's "Poet's Corner" (in Hess' forthcoming Vol. IIIC, Appen. V). Contrast this with Mr. Shakspere's unnoticed burial in Stratford, only a few weeks after the lesser poet-playwright Francis Beaumont had died in the provinces and been conducted to a Westminster Abbey burial by tens of thousands of mourners (I, 2)!

Oxford was notorious... irregular life... squandering virtually his entire patrimony on personal extravagance.

[35] Another "red-letter word" was Dr. Nelson's "notorious," though Oxford's enemies no doubt pointed to those things among his other peculiarities. Any man who would have brought Italian poetry, song, dress, and other styles back to England and the narrow world of the Court would have been seen as peculiar as long as his new tastes remained unfashionable. So, it's true that geniuses like Oxford-Shakespeare often do have eccentricities that invite scorn. Still, Munday's 1619 dedication of a work to Oxford's son glowingly praised Oxford, as did Baxter's 1606 poem to Oxford's daughter, so he was well-remembered by those who'd served him. The devastation to the finances of many English noblemen of that time has been studied in L. Stone's 1967 The Crisis of the Aristocracy, where Oxford was but one example. Yet Oxford's "notoriety" from the L12,000 in debts he left on his death was small compared to the L20,000 debts of E. Dyer, L40,000 of C. Hatton, L60,000 of Leicester, and ruinous L450,000 of "the Virgin Queen" (II, 119).

Exemplary was his purchase in 1580 of Fisher's Folly... was forced to sell in 1588.... short of funds, he did not scruple to burden lesser men with his debts.

[36] Dr. Nelson never failed to make a sow's ear out of a potential silk purse. When Oxford invested L3,000 on overseas ventures under Frobisher (patriotically trying to expand the "British Empire"), Nelson saw him as naive and wasteful with his money (ignoring the similarities to "Antonio's" venturing 3,000 ducats in Merchant of Venice). Yet, when Oxford was willing to allow speculators to take options on his properties and then maneuvered them into having to pay off some of his debts for him or else lose their investments, instead of a shrewd bargainer astute in the law, Nelson pronounced him unscrupulous.

About 1591 the poet Thomas Churchyard hired lodgings for the earl at the house of Mrs. Julia Penn, giving his own bond.... Oxford neglected to pay the rent, Charchyard, in fear of arrest, sought sanctuary.

[37] Dr. Nelson failed to mention Q. Eliz.'s role in the Churchyard-Penn fiasco, and Mrs. Penn's truculence in the matter. As to Churchyard, the great man of letters was still in the 1590s referring to Oxford as his master, having served the Vere family for five decades, sometimes as his spy abroad.

Oxford's first wife, Anne, died... Numerous elegies are preserved... Though she was well educated... the four epitaphs written after her son died at birth in May 1583, and attributed to Anne by John Southern in his Pandora of 1584, were in fact translations (doubtless by Southern himself) from... Desportes.

[38] Below in the last note for Dr. May's article on Anne DeVere, we'll see that Dr. Nelson's use of "Southern" for the author of Pandora created a masking of the true author. Since we'll see Oxford = "Soothern," Nelson's "doubtless..." effusion accidentally hit near the mark.

Anne's other children were: Elizabeth... Bridget... Frances, who died and was buried at Edmonton on 12 September 1587; and Susan... who married Philip Herbert, earl of Montgomery...

[39] As argued below for Dr. May's article, the identification of "Frances Vere" as a child of Oxford's may be in error. In any case, her hidden existence may relate to a marital mystery that Hess dubs "Oxford & Burghley's girl in the iron mask" (II, 129-36).

Oxford's second wife, Elizabeth, was buried at Hackney on 3 January 1613. The illegitimate son of the earl and Anne Vavasour, Edward Vere, distinguished himself as a soldier and died on 18 August 1629.

Poetry and book dedications Oxford evinced a genuine interest in music... Puttenham, and Meres... reckoned him among 'the best for comedy' in his day... a patron of a company of players from 1580 to 1602, no specimen of his dramtic compositions survives.

[40] Dr. Nelson passingly noted the praises for Oxford as "the best for comedie" in 1589 and 98 by two different sources, and the praise for Oxford in 1586 as "the best among" courtier poets. Yet, although Nelson abundantly offered his personal opinions in every other sphere of Oxford's life (often based on inferior evidence or analysis), for these important literary praises of Oxford in drama and poetry, Nelson failed to provide the appropriate historical context that biographers owe to their readers. So, specially focusing on the two claims about "comedie," let's ask WHAT body of comedies it is that Dr. Nelson (and Dr. May) believe would be a good match for Oxford's, and if it might be reasonable that when Oxford was twice called "the best for comedie" during the time when Shakespeare's comedies were beginning to appear on stage, it would be natural to credit Oxford with at least some of the 14 comedic masterpieces of "Shake-speare?" If they intend for us to believe that ALL of Oxford's praiseworthy comedies have been "lost," they should provide a reasonable context by naming other greatly-praised playwrights who had all of their comedies lost then too. But, perhaps Oxford's comedies were not "lost." To make this analysis easy for Nelson and May, let's assume that there were several bodies of comedies back in that period from which to choose, and that one of them MUST be Oxford's comedies, and let's list what would be appropriate attributes to identify Oxford's body of comedies. They would have been:

1) actively circulated and acted in the period up to 1598 (otherwise Puttenham and Meres wouldn't have known of them);

2) anonymous prior to 1598 (otherwise we would look for a body of comedies with Oxford's name on them);

3) of sufficiently high quality to be esteemed as "the best" (unless there were comedies better than "the best"); and

4) of like-styled authorship (otherwise we must postulate that Oxford wrote with different styles, a rare trait even today).

And so, after scouring through all Elizabethan comedies, attributed or unattributed, we will find that there is but one body of comedies that fit all four criteria -- at least some of Shakespeare's 14 comedies, which were:

1) MOST of them actively circulated and acted, starting with "Comedy of Errors" by 1592, "Love's Labour's Lost" & "Two Gentlemen" by 1594, and excepting for debatable dating for "Tempest" and "Winter's Tale," all had been acted by 1598 or 99 (per the table used in G.E. Bentley's 1961 Shakespeare, A Biographical Handbook, New Haven, Conn., 1961, Yale U. Press, pp. 230-31);

2) ALL were anonymous until 1598's "Taming of the Shrew," 4 more were anonymous until 1600 or 1602, and 9 more were both anonymous and unpublished until 1623 (see Hess' Vol.II, pp. 213-98);

3) ALL were deemed among the best quality of comedies of that time, in fact of all time (ibid.); and

4) ALL were of similar-enough in style that they related well to the authorial style used for the Shakespeare "Histories" and "Tragedies," as identified in the 1623 F1 (ibid.).

Oxford surrounded himself with much of the best literary talent of his time (Lyly, Watson, Munday, Nashe, Greene, Churchyard, Golding, Spenser, Heywood, Raleigh, etc.). And yet the best that Nelson et alia can credit Oxford with in order to explain two contemporary sources praising him as "best for comedie" has been a single wretched play, the 1600 Weakest Goeth... (more often credited to Munday). And that one play is cited only because its title page was marked as acted by Oxford's Men. In summary, Nelson's (and May's) failure to offer rational explanations for these praises of Oxford constitute an abandonment of the responsibility of historians and biographers to provide persuasive context

Sixteen lyrical poems have been authenticated as his work, along with four more doubtful pieces. Most ... signed E.O., or E.of O. Amateurish verses... together with a pompous letter from the earl to the translator, were prefixed to Bedingfield's translation of Cardanus's Comfort (1576) 'published by commandment of the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford'. These verses... were composed about 1 January 1572...

[41] The tally of how many poems should be credited to Oxford varies according to who does the counting, and ultimately according to the taste of the evaluators. Currently Dr. May is the anointed "expert" on Oxford's poetry, adding-in 3 poems missed earlier, and yet dismissing much of the best material Oxford was credited with by earlier analysts (e.g., Puttenham 1589, Grosart 19th cent., Miller & Looney 20th cent.), even dismissing some bearing the "E.O." signature that most have accepted as evidence of Oxford's authorship. Mr. Hess challenged May and Dr. Nelson at the Apr. 19, 2003 Smithsonian debate to review his article, "The Challenge of 'Another Rare Dreame,'" which is scheduled to be in the Oct. 2005 The Oxfordian (the original version is posted on Hess' webpage). If the 1593 ARD is accepted as by Oxford, it will more than double the number of high quality Shakespeare-comparable lines of poetry in his portfolio (and Mr. Hess is building a strong case for adding-in the 1584 Pandora too, as we'll see below). Otherwise, after gutting the best credited to Oxford, May has been able to quite rightly say, "I just don't see any comparison between Oxford's poetry and Shakespeare's." How Dr. Nelson dated composition of the "amateurish verses" to early-1572 is unclear, but since their quality was poor, they logically "originated" earlier than the 7 Oxford poems (signed "E.O.") in Paradyse of Dainty Devices, which were themselves likely written when Oxford was a teenager. This was because even though Paradyse was first published in 1576, it's editor was Richard Edwards (possibly Oxford's Professor at Oxford U.), who died in 1566 when Oxford was 16. One of the silly games Nelson and Dr. May enjoy playing is to arrange to compare Shakespeare's 1593-1609 poems against Oxford's poems originated in the 1560s or 70s (i.e., 20-40 years earlier), when maturity, style, themes, spelling, punctuation, and other conventions were vastly different (I, 41). After this "apples vs. oranges" game, they declare "No match, Mr. Shakspere wins by default!" Yet, since there's no writing at all clearly left by Mr. Shakspere (possibly excluding the doggerel on his tombstone or six sloppy signatures, none matching the others), he's gotten-off scot-free with an illogical presumption of authorship, even as he was most likely illiterate (I, 2-3, 13-15)!

Seven poems, generally more successful, appeared in the Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576), and three more in England's Parnassus (1600); two of the latter... together with 'Faction that ever dwells', appeared in the appendix to the publisher Newman's surreptitious edition of Sidney's Astrophel and Stella (1591).

[42] Dr. Nelson amusingly used "surreptitious" when "pirated" was more accurate. This edition was printed by John Charlewood (founder of the printing house that would print Shakespeare's 1623 F1 and 1632 F2, and very closely linked to Oxford and Munday projects) with much of Sir Philip Sidney's material missing, supplemented by material from T. Nashe, T. Campion, Oxford, and others. A scandal ensued as Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, took umbrage over her brother Sidney's material being pirated. So, she took steps to have the publisher Thomas Newman switch printers to John Danter (also Oxford and Munday linked, but also to become an important Shakespeare printer), and she then applied her own poetic skills to editing her brother's MSS to complete Sidney's Astrophel & Stella the way it deserved. A&S was important for understanding the later Shakespeare publishing chaos, for had it not been pirated, it likely would have remained as intended by Sidney's family: privately circulated, enjoyed only among friends (A&S concealed the secret of Sidney's [= "Astrophel's"] platonic affair with the married Lady Rich [= "Stella"], a secret not revealed until documents & clues were compared in the 20th cent. [as with Oxford = Shakespeare!]; see Peter Moore in the Winter 1993 Sh. Oxford Soc. Newsletter). This insight is important for understanding the Herbert family's involvement in later Shakespeare publications, most importantly the 1623 F1, dedicated to Mary's sons William & Philip as "the incomparable paire," and of course Philip was Oxford's son-in-law (II, 505, 512, 514-17).

Others are found in The Phoenix Nest (1593) and in England's Helicon of 1600... noticed in John Bodenham's Belvedere or, The Garden of the Muses (1600).

[43] The 1593 Phoenix Nest is where a 6-stanza "E.O." poem beginning "What cunning can express" contained within it some eleven themes represented as well in the 60-stanza anonymous poem "Another Rare Dreame" (ARD), as argued in Mr. Hess' article "Challenge of 'Another Rare Dreame.'" And ARD has been previously identified as Shakespeare-quality, published in the same year as Venus & Adonis, thus not the same old "Apples vs. Oranges" game if it can be established as by Oxford. The year 1600 was a glorious year for Oxford, his close associate Munday, and Shakespeare. There were four "good" 1st Quartos (Q1s) of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Much Ado, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Henry IV, Pt. 2, plus a "good" Titus Andronicus 2nd Quarto (Q2); "bad" quartos of Henry V Q1 ("Chronicle History"), Henry VI, Pt. 2 Q2, and Henry VI, Pt. 3 Q2; and Shakespeare was even credited as the author in 3 of the "good" Q1's, all others anonymous. On Jan. 3, 1599/0, was entered in the Stationer's Registry (S.R.) "a book called Amours by J.D. with certen o[th]yr sonnetes by W.S." (as noted by Dr. Nelson at the Oct. 2004 convention of the "Sh. Fellowship"), which Hess' forthcoming Vol. IIIC, Appen. V has identified as the circa 1595 Epigrammes and Elegies by J.D. & C.M. (the future Sir John Davies and the late Christopher Marlowe), with a bit more than 3 sonnets-worth of "Ignoto" (= Oxford-Shakespeare?) couplet material sandwiched in between J.D.'s Epigrammes and C.M.'s Elegies. That is, "Ignoto" = the "W.S." of the registry, and his pieces scolded Q. Eliz. for her "sacred chastity... perfections throane to sit... Intombing Cupid with sad obsequies... that I am thy servile Asse...," perhaps foretelling some themes of the 1609 Sonnets. Munday's Sir John Oldcastle, Pt. 1 (from 1619-85 attributed to Shakespeare) and The Weakest Goeth to the Wall (acted by Oxford's Men) were first published. And John Bodenham, possibly a brother of Oxford's former Gray's Inn classmate Roger B. (as identified by Catherine Chiljan), published the last two of his celebrated four "chapbook" or "miscellany" collections of others' poetry, Bel-vedere (edited by Munday, a perfect anagram of "Bel DeVere" or "good Oxford"; II, 425-69) claiming to have poetry of K. James VI, Oxford, Shakespeare, and a host of others, but few verses were individually linked to authors; and Englands Helicon a 150 poem anthology of 30 poets, including Munday, Henry Chettle, Walter Raleigh, and other poems such as by "Ignoto" (= Oxford?) that had been credited to Shakespeare in Passionate Pilgrim the year before. Then there was the great chapbook Englands Parnassus with 60 poets, including K. James VI, Oxford, Shakespeare, Thomas Kyd, and others, edited by "R.A." who is often identified with Robert Allot (whose likely nephew was a later associate of Munday's and co-publisher of Shakespeare's 1632 F2; II, 510, 518). This long note has pointed to the complex "context" for Oxford, Munday, & Shakespeare; all of it lacking from Nelson's perfunctory recitation, which could not have possibly crammed so much into the limited space available, nor have begun to grasp the true richness of what Hess calls the "Shakespeare Enterprise."

His most attractive poem, a dialogue between the poet and Desire, was first... in Puttenham's Art of Poesy (1589), and then more correctly in Breton's Bower of Delights (1597).

[44] The 1589 Arte was identified in 1614 as "by Puttenham, one of her majesties pensioners," and Charles M. Willis (see ISBN # 1-84375-078-3) has identified George Puttenham as possibly in Oxford's circle as an in-law of Oxford's half-sister Catherine Vere Windsor. Yet, scholars have identified George's brother Richard P. as an equally promising candidate. Nelson earlier only briefly noted that Puttenham's Arte and Meres' 1598 Palladis Tamia both labeled Oxford as "the best for comedy," as if to do so might cause astute readers to ask how many commentators in his home town noted Mr. Shakspere of Stratford as being literate, let alone a man of literary attainments. As to Nicholas Breton, Hess has questioned whether the great number of "N.B." works attributed to him might instead be at least partly due to Oxford's former servant and traveling companion, Nathaniel Baxter, author of the 1606 Sir Philip Sydney's 'Ourania' that had in it the poem to Oxford's daughter Susan Vere Herbert celebrating Oxford as a knight-errant adventuring in Italy (II, 158-164). Should Bower of Delights be settled on Baxter too?

A few others... from the Rawlinson manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. The surviving poems go some way towards validating... William Webbe that among the courtier-poets... 'in the rare devises of poetry [Oxford] may challenge to him selfe the tytle of the most excellent among the rest'...

[45] Apparently Oxford as "the most excellent" among "courtier poets" in Webbe's 1586 discourse holds little weight with those who wish to denigrate Oxford as the best way to protect the orthodox Mr. Shakspere's identification as Shakespeare. Yet such "unearned" honorifics were notably absent from Mr. Shakspere's world as best we can tell, only surfacing some years after his death!

Some twenty-eight printed books were dedicated to Oxford between 1564 and 1599.

[46] More works may be added; e.g., the 1603 Anagrammata broadside was dedicated to Oxford and Lord Admiral Howard among others apparently in the "Jacobean alliance" heralding K. James' accession. As an extension of Hess' "Shakespeare Enterprise" concept, his Vol. IIIC, Appen. V details who wrote what; dedicated to whom; who printed, published, and sold them; and who cleared them for entry into the S.R. The intricate patterns and links most tightly focus on Oxford, Munday, and Shakespeare, plus scores of key Stationers and officials, most of the former linked to Munday or Oxford projects and the latter relatives of Oxford's by blood or marriage. There are even odd linkages between family pedigrees of Oxford & Mr. Shakspere through the Ardens, and Munday's "kinsmen" & Mr. Shakspere's son-in-law through the Halls (I, 7-8, 35-39; II, 501).

Among the more important were Euphues and his England (1580)... John Lyly, and Hekatompathia, or, Passionate Centuries of Love (1582)... Thomas Watson with the report that the earl had perursed the collection before publication; and Edmund Spenser addressed a sonnet to him (among many other worthies) in... Faerie Queene (1590).

[47] Oxford's circle of literati were among the best in England's "Golden Age of Literature." Hess' forthcoming Vol. IIIA, Appen. K addresses the fact that of all the dozens of high courtiers that Spenser wrote dedications to in Fairie Queene (FQ), only Oxford has not been identified as allegorized in the text of the mammoth epic, written to provide England with a rival to Italy's Orlando Furioso, Rome's Aeneid, and Greece's Odyssey. Spenser was first showing drafts of FQ to his friends in 1579-80 before he left for Ireland 1581-90, and Spenser and his friend Gabriel Harvey were among those in circa 1577-79 who were attempting to join Oxford's circle, even "having gold" from him, as Harvey admitted. So Hess ponders, at a time when Harvey was portraying Oxford as the super-hero who would save England by destroying the terrifying Don Juan of Austria, was Spenser portraying Oxford as a heroic knight who came to dominate FQ's story? The focus is on Oxford's 1570s servant, the future Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser's friend and principal dedicatee, portrayed in FQ as the squire to a super-hero knight. Knowing all this, analysis of WHAT Spenser said about Oxford's allegorized character is very revealing.

Books of smaller account include... Arthur Golding (1564, 1571)... Anthony Munday (1579, 1580, 1588, 1595); The English Secretarie by Angel Day (1586); and two songbooks by John Farmer (1591, 1599).

[48] Although articles by Sally Mosher (in the 1998 The Oxfordian) and others have explored Oxford's role in the music of his time, Hess touches on Oxford's likely role in bringing the Madrigal form to England, among other musical topics which show how Shakespeare's Art likely developed in the private salons of the nobility, years before emerging in public venues and print (I, 320-37).

Claims by literary and historical amateurs beginning with J. Thomas Looney in 1920 and embraced by Oxford's otherwise worthy biographer B.M. Ward, that Oxford wrote the poems and plays attributed by comtemporaries to William Shakespeare, are without merit.

ALAN H. NELSON

[49] Dr. Nelson's improper injection of unqualified opinion, that the Oxfordian theory is "without merit," belies his own activities. He and Dr. May have often joined in scholarly debates on the subject, and haven't yet "wiped the floor" with their Oxfordian opponents (though of course there were times when they've done well). For example, in the day-long Apr. 19, 2003 panels debate at the Smithsonian Institution (C. Chiljan, W.R. Hess, & J. Sobran vs. I. Matus, S. May, & A. Nelson, introduced by D. Price and moderated by W. Causey), the proceedings were not at all one-sided, and if a vote of the audience had been taken before and after, any movement in opinion might well have been in favor of the Oxfordian side. So, when a reasonable measure of "merit" is made, the Oxfordian case often acquits itself well, and Nelson's opinion is itself "without merit."

Sources J.T. Looney, Shakespeare identified in Edmund De Vere, seventeenth earl of Oxford, ed. R. Loyd Miller, 3rd edn. with The poems of Edward De Vere [and other essays], 3 vols. (Port Washington, NY 1975) ~ S.W. May, ed., The poems of Edward de Vere, seventeenth earl of Oxford, and of Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex (1980) ~ A.H. Nelson, Monstrous adversary: the life of Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford (2003) ~ B.M. Ward, The seventeenth earl of Oxford, 1550-1604, from contemporary documents (1928) ~ F.B. Williams, Index of dedications and commendatory verses in English books before 1641 (1962) ~ Hatfield House, Burghley papers - PRO, SP 12. SP 15, state papers, Elizabethan ~ A collection of state papers... left by William Cecill, Lord Burghley, ed. S. Haynes and W. Murdin, 2 vols. (1740-59) ~ Hunt, L., Egerton papers ~ The manuscripts of his grace the duke of Rutland, 4 vols., HMC. 24 (1888-1905) ~ E. Lodge, Illustrations of British history, biography, and manners, 3 vols. (1791) ~ E. Spenser, Three proper, and wittie, familiar letters (1580) ~ W. Webbe, A discourse of English poetrie (1586).

[50] Nelson's list of "sources" had a misquoted title for Looney's important book (likely accidental, it might make it difficult to locate). He failed to offer up Oxfordian titles that might be more easily obtained, so in addition to Mr. Hess' work (his webpage lists other titles and webpages), here are two good summaries: 1] Sobran, Joseph, Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time, NY, 1997, Free Press.; and 2] Whalen, Richard, Shakespeare: Who Was He? (The Oxford Challenge to the Bard of Avon), Westport, CT, 1994, Praeger Publishers (Greenwood Press). Both Sobran and Whalen have done quite well in high-profile debates against Nelson and his colleagues, and are certainly "not without merit" (Mr. Shakspere's family motto).

Likenesses oils, 17th cent. (after unknown portrat, 1575), priv. coll., on loan to NPG [see illus.]

[51] About the 1575 "St. Albans" painting of Oxford, Nelson provided no facts to question its authenticity as the 1575 painting Oxford sent to his wife from Paris (except that Geeraerts may not be the painter, as earlier believed). And for the "Welbeck" painting clearly labeled "1575" on its surface and used on Nelson's book's cover & frontispiece, his pg. 124 simply said "thought" to be a copy (perhaps the doubt arises from other lettering on the portrait mentioning Oxford's 1604 death?). In any case, since it would be a 17th century copy, logically it should attest to a high regard for Oxford in that century (vs. Nelson's claims of only "monstrous" infamy for Oxford)!

 

Vere [nee Cecil], Anne de, countess of Oxford (1556-1588), courtier... presumably gained the equivalent of a grammar school education in the cultivated Cecil household... in 1577, the German educator Johannes Sturm (Sturmius) expressed... that Anne 'speaks Latin also'... In 1569 Anne was contracted to marry Philip Sidney, but by July 1571 she was engaged to Burghley's ward, Edward de *Vere... Oxford's biographers have speculated that Burghley engineered the match (despite his protestations to the contrary), yet Anne may have been an attractive as well as accomplished young lady. Her brother, Robert Cecil thought so, at least... in 1587... 'If my lady of Oxford were here, her bewty would quickly be marred'...

[1] Who can know what "inside jokes" lay within such enigmatic statements as, "her bewty would be marred," which Dr. May cited? If the comment had been written about Anne's cousin, mother, or the Queen, it obviously would have been interpreted in vastly different ways. Yet May used this flimsy flippancy to pretend that Oxford's wife was so beautiful that all the questions should be dismissed about why England's ranking Earl should have married a commoner's daughter, and as it turned out to have gotten no net dowry (the Queen "fined" her royal ward Oxford L3,000 for not giving her the royal choice about his marriage, and the dowry exactly equaled that fine; II, 129-36). The usual reason for marrying a rich and powerful man's daughter was either for the dowry or for politics. May avoided such considerations, and to not ask and ponder pertinent questions, to not substitute reasoning for flimsy pseudo-facts, is a hallmark of anti-historical thought. A more likely reason for the match, as mentioned in comments above for Dr. Nelson's article, was that Oxford believed he had a quid pro quo with Cecil, perhaps to save his cousin the Duke of Norfolk from execution. There are more mundane reasons; e.g., Anne may have been thought pregnant (II, 129-136); and as speculative as those might be, they're much more credible than that Anne's "bewty" answered all. One slightly more complex solution might mirror the plot in All's Well (II, 133-34), where a commoner's daughter "Helena" (= Anne?) ingratiated herself with her monarch, was granted a boon, and selected for her mate a proud young nobleman, only to have been met with scorn and avoidance by her hoped-for mate, with an eventual reconciliation only after his adventures in Italy and a bed-trick comeuppance involving a virgin "Diana" (= Q. Eliz.?).

De Vere married Anne... 19 December 1571, with Queen Elizabeth... in attendance. The match, however, proved disastrous; Oxford denied the paternity of his daughter Elizabeth, who was born on 2 July 1575 while he traveled... and he lived apart from his wife until some time in 1582.

[2] Dr. May & Dr. Nelson apparently coordinated their two articles (e.g., they both pronounced as "disastrous" the DeVere-Cecil marriage, overlooking the later pregnancies and daughters as if they were "disasters" too). And yet they conflicted over when Oxford rejoined his wife (Nelson said "in December" 1581 vs. May's "sometime in 1582"). Small point, but for example it would have Oxford living with his wife during Xmas Revels at the end of 1581, and thus could influence the dating of several plays (II, Appen. B for dating each of the Shakespeare works). Regarding May's weak claim, "Oxford denied the paternity of his daughter," let's ask when and to whom? Did he do so before he left for the continent (such as to the Queen and/or his conspiratorial cousin Henry Howard)? And if so, was there a greater context (as was argued above about Dr. Nelson's article, that Oxford and Burghley had a mission for him to perform abroad)? Did he deny the child during his stay on the continent (actually, there are two letters of his to Burghley that show him quite happy to have had a "son," showing the paternity was not in issue, but he was deluded about the gender of the child)? Or did he deny his daughter after his return (there seems little evidence that he did)? May's information on this point is unhelpful and leaves the impression that Oxford sat before the Court, with the child dandling on his knee and denied her paternity in the worst possible way. That was most certainly NOT the case, and most likely Oxford never did publicly deny his daughter; rather he used the unstated implication of infidelity for leverage in his disputes with his corrupt father-in-law (II, 93-97, 145-51).

During the separation Anne maintained cordial relations with the queen... her exchange of new year's gifts with her sovereign every year from 1575 to 1588.

[3] Oxford made over "jointures" of several of his estates to his wife before and after his travels, and logically she made gifts to Q. Eliz. out of those revenues. Still, there was a strange incident in which while Oxford was away from their estate at Wivenhoe (traveling in Italy?), Lady Burghley swooped down on the hapless household, boxed the ears of several Oxford servants, bundling-off her daughter; and another in which Anne complained of being barred by rude servants from seeing her husband in his house. There was also the unregistered "Book of Entayles" that Oxford prepared before he traveled, that apparently Burghley and Oxford's servant Edward Hubbard managed to modify and ignore while Oxford was traveling (he was even briefly taken by pirates). If Oxford's instructions in that book about what to sell, in what order, and how to provide for expenses (such as ransom money) had been ignored, including overly-magnificent gifts to her majesty, failure to send him funds, extravagance at Court, etc., such mischief by his wife and her father would be much better explanations for the later DeVere marital troubles than the poorly-established inferences of doubted paternity (II, 79-93). Dr. May's & Dr. Nelson's lack of reasonable curiosity in these matters is part of their deficient historicity (as soon as they'd found a negative imputation for Oxford, they've promoted it as fact and looked no farther!).

The countess received five book dedications, all between 1575 and 1581.

[4] This ignores the 1584 Pandora Dr. May discussed later, and may dubiously imply that no literati thought to treat with Anne except during the DeVere separation, as if they took her side against her husband. And May possibly missed a sixth book described in a Nov. 21, 1581 letter to Burghley from Thomas Nicholas, who said that either Oxford's servant Anthony Munday or Oxford-linked printer John Charlewood had conveyed "the litle Treatise of Cesar & Pompeyus which I presentid to... Lady Anne Countess of Oxenford" (a book first published in Sep. 1593 as Lucans firste booke of famous Civill warr betwixt Pompey & Cesar "Englished by" the late C. Marlowe). And shortly after Anne's reported receipt of that translation (where "presentid" might have meant "dedicated"), Burghley was helping his daughter to reconcile with her husband. May should consider an alternate reason for the timing of the praises for Anne, that they were sent by Oxford via his literary friends, as his own special way of trying to break through her disapproving parents' fortress of separation.

In his dedication to Anne, Geoffrey Fenton... two dedications are translated expositions of Ephesians... In between are two books by de Vere retainers who had already dedicated work to the earl. George Baker... translation Newe Jewell of Health (1576)... John Brooke's Christian Discourse (1578)... Baker praises her 'wit, learning, and authoritie' (sig. A2v), Fenton her 'learning and judgement' (sig. *2), and Fleming her regard for learning and 'zealous love to religion' (sig. *3).

[5] Must we believe that none of these dedications to Oxford's wife were intended to also honor or ingratiate with Oxford, or were sent to her by him via his literati friends? Tellingly, Baker's New Jewell was in 1599 republished as Practice of the New & Old Physic with a rededication to Oxford, and scholars have suggested the two versions influenced Sonnets # 118 & 119 (Booth-1977, Sh.'s Sonnets, 398-404). But let's get closer to Dr. May's & Dr. Nelson's orthodox credo. How many books were dedicated to Mr. Shakspere's illiterate wife, one of the richest women in Stratford? How many books were included in Mr. Shakspere's will? Was he ever referred to as a literate man in Stratford? Evidence is so much against their man as a credible Shakespeare candidate that they'd rather change the subject to Oxford's inability to love his "Juliet-like," "Ophelia-like," "Shrew-like" wife, a hapless waif wed to a difficult poetic genius.

...copies in Lord Burghley's hand of two letters that the countess sent to her husband in December 1581; in both she professes... her desire for reconciliation. Burghley has corrected several readings in the second letter.

[6] Burghley's having helped to craft his daughter's love letters to Oxford smacks of "Polonius" micro-managing his daughter's affections for "Prince Hamlet." Later there was a rumor of Burghley helping his daughter to "bed-trick" her husband, a device employed some 40 times in Elizabethan-Jacobean literature. Yet, each of the 3 times Shakespeare used it uniquely had women exert power over a man, as opposed to the pattern of that male-chauvinist age, that the husband or a wise servant must control the bed-trick, outwitting a woman. That was Oxford's real-life example, outwitted by his wife (possibly with connivance of the Queen?; II, 137-44, 151-53).

After her reconciliation... Anne gave birth to three more daughter: Bridget (b. 6 April 1584), Susan (b. 26 May 1587), and Frances, who died an infant on 12 September 1587. The couple's only son, styled Lord Bolebec (Bulbeck), died... May 1583. Anne died at Greenwich on 5 June 1588...

[7] As said above for Dr. Nelson's article, the date of birth of Frances Vere (likely named for Oxford's aunt the Countess of Surrey) are unknown, and so the presumption that she was a child may be false. Oxford had a cousin named Frances who might have died in childbirth about this time, and this may be her grave (II, 133-36). There is a letter from Burghley to Walsingham just prior to the May 1587 birth of Susan Vere in which Burghley said Anne had 3 daughters already and one more on the way, but never mentioned Frances, ever (was she "Oxford & Burghley's girl in the iron mask?"). Note the spelling used for Oxford's son, "Bolebec," which matched the French village said to be the home of Sir Lancelot. And note that Anne apparently died at Court in late May 1588, just a few months prior to the visitation of the Spanish Armada, much as "Ophelia" died at Court while "Prince Hamlet" was away on maritime hazards related to England.

In Pandora (1594), John Southern credited Anne with four sonnets and two quatrains memorializing her dead son. All six poems, however, are couched in Southern's uniquely arhythmic meters... all six draw heavily as well on his favorite poet, Desportes. They could perhaps be translations of Anne's elegies in Latin or another language, but are probably prosopopoeias outright.

STEVEN W. MAY

Sources GEC, Peerage, new edn ~ Calendar of the manuscripts of the most hon. the marquis of Salisbury, 5, HMC, 9 (1894) ~ C. Read, Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth (1955) ~ HoP, Commons, 1558-1603 ~ F.B. Williams, Index of dedications and commendatory verses in English books before 1641 (1962) ~ CSP for., 1577-8, no. 469 ~ New year's gift list, 1575, Folger, Folger MS Z.d.14 ~ New year's gift lists, 1576, BL, Add. MS 4827 ~ New year's gift lists, 1577, PRO, C Misc. 3/39 ~ New year's gift lists, 1578, Society of Antiquaries, MS 537 ~ New year's gift list, 1581, Eton, MS 192 ~ New year's gift lists, 1582, BL, Harleian MS 1644 ~ New year's gift lists, 1584, BL, Egerton MS 3052 ~ New year's gift list, 1585, Folger, MS Z.d.16 ~ New year's gift lists, 1588, BL, Add. MS 8159 ~ J. Nichols, The progresses and public processions of Queen Elizabeth, new edn, 2(1823), 249-75 ~ gaps, 1580, BL, Harl. MS 4698 ~ gaps, 1583, BL, Sloane MS 814 ~ S.W. May, "The countess of Oxford's sonnets: a caveat', English Language Notes, 29/3 (1992), 9-19 ~ R. Smith, 'The sonnets of the countess of Oxford and Elizabeth I: translations from Desportes', N&Q, 239 (1994), 446-50 ~ E. Moody, 'Six elegiac poems, possibly by Anne Cecil de Vere', English Literary Renaissance, 19 (1989), 152-70 ~ PRO, SP 84/21, fols. 242-3

Archives BL, Lansdowne MS 104.

[8] The contents of this last note are based on material from Mr. Hess' forthcoming Vol. IIIB, Appen. T, about Pandora, which was partly referenced in his article in the Autumn 2004 edition of The DeVere Society Newsletter. Dr. May is to be congratulated for his article ([Engl. Lit.] Notes & Queries xxix, 1992) questioning Dr. Ellen Moody's feminist interpretation of Pandora (E.L. Reviews, xix, 1989), and in turn May was improved upon by Wolfgang Riehle's [sic, subsequently shown should Dr. May's use of "Roslyn Smith" was correct] pointing to the Desportes' link. Yet, May seems to have given a mistaken citation for Riehle's [sic, should be R. Smith] article in his DNB article's bibliography, listing the author-article as "R. Smith, 'The sonnets of the countess of Oxford and Elizabeth I: translations from Desportes', N&Q, 239 (1994), 446-50." On the service http://Infotrac.galegroup.com, the pertinent article with that title is identified as by W. Riehle at "N&Q, 41, 446-50." Also, about May's quip that Felipe Desportes was the "favorite poet" in Pandora, many direct, open references were made in Pandora to Ovid, Petrarch, Tien, and Pierre Ronsard among others, including a whole page of French verse at the end of Pandora addressing Ronsard (as Riehle noted [sic, should be R. Smith]). Plus, many of the author's boasts project an attempt to emulate for the English language what Ronsard and "the Pleiades" had done in their reforming of the French language (helping it to compete with Greek, Latin, and Italian for love poetry and philosophy). Indeed, since Ronsard had been eclipsed as Royal Poet by Desportes, and until 1585 the self-exiled Ronsard lay dying while still producing doleful masterpieces, there was likely a vengeful motive in Pandora's translating-twisting Desportes' verses, not crediting him at all in the text, yet so often openly praising and borrowing from Ronsard. And Oxford logically would have met Desportes, Ronsard, and/or the few surviving members of the Pleiades in his 1575-76 trips to Paris.

But there should be no trouble in identifying the true author of Pandora, satisfying even Dr. May and Dr. Nelson. There are two direct identifications of Oxford as the primary author-translator, somewhat obscured by an inadvertent substitution used by May and Nelson in their articles, both incorrectly referring to "Southern" as the reputed author. Yet, as consistently used by Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith],  the author was "Soowthern" on the title page and repeatedly "Soothern" in the text. So, it is more than coincidence that "Sooth" is Middle English for "Truth" (as in "soothsayer" or "for sooth"), and so "Soothern" = "of Truth" = DeVere = Oxford. In other words, "Soothern" was Oxford's pseudonym from the English translation of his French-derived surname! This could have applied to Anne DeVere as well, except that she was convincingly eliminated as author by Riehle. In the process, Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] unknowingly provided further evidence to identify Anne's husband as Pandora's author (notably, Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] didn't mention Oxford's literary credentials, though he did note Anne's literary mother and aunt). In his discussion for his notes # 23 & # 24, Riehle stated that there were in 1588-89 some 40 epitaphs referring to Anne DeVere, and none noted her as a poet (although they did say she was a loyal daughter and wife). Then Riehle mentioned the text of an epitaph by "Robert Bibens" (another pseudonym? = tippler, imbiber, guzzler; possibly "Roberto" Greene, as in the 1592 Groats-worth of Wit?). Dedicated to Anne, this referred to "Pandora" in a Latin line:

"At comites in laude tua, Pandora, labascunt: Qui doni est author, laudis et ille comes."

Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] translated that Latin as:

"But your companions falter in your praise, Pandora: He who is the author of the gift is also a companion of the praise."

Riehle [sic, should be R. Smith] correctly interpreted "the gift" as the text of Pandora, and the masculine "He" as denying Anne as the author. But note that "comes" (= companion) was the Latin root of the French "Comte" = Count or Earl; and the "comites" may be reflective of "comitatus" (= retinue or Court). Thus, an alternative translation and direct identification is:

"But your courtly companions falter in your praise, Pandora: He who is the author of the text is also a praiseworthy Earl."

That mention of failed praise was for the book Pandora, not for Anne (she had 40 epitaphs!). So, note The Arte of English Poesie criticized Pandora's over-adapting from Ronsard; and Arte was long in preparation prior to its 1589 publication (so long that it was insultingly dedicated to Anne's father with his pre-1571 title "Sir William Cecil," rather than to "Lord Burghley"). In summary, since both Dr. Nelson and Dr. May take it upon themselves to discuss Pandora, they owe it to the historicity of their two subjects to point out that Oxford is a valid author of that 1584 book, even if it was dedicated effusively to him, and that this is rather solid evidence that Oxford used pseudonyms.

Moreover, when Soothern-DeVere in 1584 crowed: "Soothern will rayse English to the skies!," he apparently visualized the literary reform mission of "Shake-speare," who truly did raise English to great heights. Still, there were two small problems: 1] since Pandora was effusively dedicated to Oxford, it appears Soothern-DeVere dedicated Pandora to himself; and 2] the overall quality of Pandora wasn't worthy of that bragging (it was more the quality of "immature Shakespeare," quickly pitched together as Oxford prepared to participate in a military mission to the Netherlands, though the Queen's delays annoyingly held it off until the following year). The first problem is largely addressed by Dr. May's "prosopopoeias" (= personifications), apparently meaning that May and his source (Riehle or Smith [sic, should be R. Smith]) saw Soothern-DeVere as having "outright" witnessed his wife's agony over the loss of their infant son, and borrowed from Desportes, the Pleiades, and his own skills to "o'er hastily" yield Pandora's lines through associative representation of Anne's grief (i.e., "Soothern" was personification of grief and triumph, the moans of his wife and soul of his son transformed into poetry intended to reform English, as Ronsard had reformed French!). And of course the second problem can be completely addressed if Soothern-DeVere was indeed an "immature Shakespeare" in 1584!

_____________________________

[UPDATED 3/25/2005]

-----Original Message-----

From: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT)
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005 12:35 PM
To: 'cfw@newcastle.edu.au'
Cc: 'Summerson, Henry'; 'rosalind.smith@newcastle.edu.au'
Subject: Contacting Dr. Rosalind Smith

 

University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia

Center for Writing

 

Dear Sir or Madam:

            Please help me to contact Dr. Rosalind Smith, who did such excellent 1996 work in discovering the link between the 1584 “Pandora” by J. Soowthern (Southern) and the poetry of Philippe Desportes.  I believe I’ve discovered a fairly simple pseudonym for “Soothern” (= of Truth = de Vere, where “sooth” is English for truth, as in “for sooth” or “soothsayer”).  This might provisionally link the name/pseudonym (“Soothern”) repeatedly used in the text of “Pandora” to the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward DeVere, the man to whom “Pandora” was dedicated, and husband of Anne DeVere, to whom much of “Pandora’s” poetry was falsely attributed in the text.  I realize it would take quite an ego to package a chapbook with his own and others writings in it (i.e., writings of Desportes, Ronsard, Ovid, etc.), and then effusively dedicate it to himself, which is the chief reason I have for calling this pseudonym “provisional.”  But since the pseudonym is a simple translation of Oxford’s French name into archaic but still-used English, I suggest it would be worth a short mention in Dr. Smith’s biography of Southern-Soowthern in the 2004 edition of the Oxford Dict. of Nat. Biography (DNB), which is still accepting short modifications/corrections of  "ascertainable fact" such as this should be.  It would be a very nice capstone-addition to Dr. Smith’s legacy in her existing contribution.

 

The matter may be of importance in attempting to identify further works authored by Anne DeVere’s husband (or by herself, if she can be shown to have packaged the “Soothern” poetry, though I believe Dr. Smith’s article ruled her out pretty convincingly).  For the most objective biography of DeVere, may I recommend the Dict. of Lit. Biog. (DLB, # 172, 1996)?  The DLB also has biographies for literary men who were former servants or within the literary circle of Oxford (Armin, Churchyard, Greene, Heywood, Lyly, Munday, Raleigh, Watson, etc.).  It may be that the pseudonym “Soothern” was intended to masque Oxford and some number of his close associates, possibly including a servant named John Soowthern (an associate of mine in England, Mr. Derran Charlton, has noted that recently a 16th century house located on the estate of Oxford’s ancestral home of Castle Hedingham, Essex, was up for sale, called “Southern’s House”).  This observation-discovery of the pseudonym may provide a “face” (or a limited set of faces) to the person/persons Dr. Smith has posited was such a brazen translator-adaptor-borrower of the works of Desportes and others.  As I’m sure Dr. Smith is aware, the Elizabethan Age has been called “the golden age for pseudonyms and anonymous writings,” a time when blatant translations-adaptations were done without credit to the original authors by Spenser, Sidney, Gascoigne, Puttenham, etc., and it might be nice for once to come close to solving another of the many mysteries, if only provisionally.

 

            If your staff and/or Dr. Summerson (of the DNB Editorial Committee) would be so kind as to forward this message to Dr. Smith, I would be pleased to receive her thoughts on this matter.  I will not be offended if she prefers to communicate via Dr. Summerson or via the Center for Writing.

  

       http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html

      W. Ron Hess, Adjunct Prof.

      Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Information Technology

      Washington, DC

            work 301/402-4443  RH96B@nih.gov

            home 301/630-5577

            2704 Lime Street, Temple Hills, MD 20748, USA

 

 ________________

From: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT)
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:51 PM
To: 'Steven May'
Cc: 'Summerson, Henry'; 'ahnelson'
Subject: Henry Summerson (3): DNB Baseless Opinions & Blatant Errors

 

Dear Steven (and Dr. Summerson):

    Thank you for taking time from your sabatical in England to weigh-in on this subject.  It's noble of you to wish to spare Oxford the shame of provisional attribution of authorship of "Pandora," but what's at stake here is not nobility; rather it's "academic honesty," which is DNB's principal concern I'm sure.  If transliteration and normalization were the issues here, than "Boowsh" would be President and "Blaayr" Prime Minister.  Instead, "academic honesty" would demand that you and DNB choose either the "Soowthern" on the title page or the "Soothern" that was used repeatedly in the text, and in either case acknowledge that both names could be provisionally identified as a pseudonym of Anne DeVere's husband (where "Soothern" = an obvious translation of "DeVere" into English).  I've suggested in Article # 10 on my webpage (published in the Fall 2004 DeVere Society Newsletter) that "Soowthern" is Dutch-Waloons for "Southerner" (not "Southern"), and so even a direct translation of "Soowthern" from its hypothetical ancestral origins doesn't help you support your misuse of the "Southern" misspelling.

 

    I see that you, like Dr. Nelson, have declined to deny that Soothern = DeVere, at least provisionally an Oxford pseudonym.  And therefore, I trust that Dr. Summerson will advise DNB accordingly (my apologies Dr. Summerson for not noticing your PhD. in my prior responses; that's what I get for not reading your credits on the lines beneath your signature line).

 

    Steven, if you give Oxford the provisional authorship of "Pandora" that "academic honesty" demands, we'll take care of the rest.  Yes, Oxford will have to bear the shame of the peculiar style and sometimes inferior text in that odd book.  But he will at least provisionally be credited with introducing the ode form into English, and writing a few dozen sonnets which have been praised with much enthusiasm by such feminist scholars as Prof. Moody (as long as she and they believed them to have been written by a woman!).  And if "Pandora" is seen as a curious "experimental" exercise by a brilliant "internationalist" a full decade before Shakespeare's works were to begin appearing, there will be valuable comparisons enough. 

 

    First let's deal with that "academic honesty" thing.  And thanks for your acknowledgement that your selection of a misspelling of "Soothern" for the name might affect comparison of Oxford's canon of poetry to Shakespeare's canon of poetry.  Being one of the first to acknowledge this “indisputable & ascertainable fact” will indeed be a feather in your cap, adding to your own reputation for "academic honesty" and fairness.  You've identified several previously unidentified poems as by Oxford, and here's your chance to provisionally add a few dozens more!

 

    I'm sorry that Dr. Nelson reports himself unable to further join our search for "academic honesty."  I trust that Dr. Summerson will interpret that as it should be, that Dr. Nelson sees this as a matter for DNB to decide for itself, based on its own examinations of the text of "Pandora" (which I sent you previously), and that for Dr. Nelson to say any more would be merely to cloud the issue with "resorts to authority," as opposed to first-hand examination of the “indisputable & ascertainable facts” at hand.  By allowing the unqualified use of a deliberate misspelling-transliteration-normalization of the 1584 author, DNB will unfairly quash an important subject far more momentous than the simple biography of Anne DeVere in which this subject resides. 

 

    "Academic honesty" demands that the name used on or in the text ("Soowthern" or "Soothern") be identified as provisionally a pseudonym of Anne's husband, and that the misspelling of "Southern" be either removed or fully qualified as I've suggested.

 

        Sincerely yours,

        http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html

        W. Ron Hess  301/402-4443

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Steven May [mailto:Steven_May@georgetowncollege.edu]
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 1:33 PM
To: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT)
Subject: RE: Henry Summerson (2): DNB Baseless Opinions & Blatant Errors

Dear Ron,

I don't get it. The author of Pandora is spelled "Soowthern" on the book's title page. 'Soowth' is not the same as 'sooth.' The 'w' transliterates to a 'u' for the normalized spelling, 'Southern.' And you certainly don't want to attribute the 'poetry' in Pandora to Oxford in order to move his canon closer to Shakespeare's. Read Pandora aloud (or, at least, as much as you can stand). Does it sound like any poetry you've ever read before? It is technically unlike any poet with whom I'm acquainted, in addition to which it is really bad stuff. If Oxford wrote it, that would be further evidence that his verse bore no resemblance of any kind to Shakespeare's (and as I've shown elsewhere, his verse bears no demonstrable resemblance of any kind to Shakespeare's as is). What's the point of this argument? With Alan and Summerson, I can't see it.

Cheers,

Steve

______________________

From: ahnelson [mailto:ahnelson@socrates.Berkeley.EDU]

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 11:51 AM

To: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT); Summerson, Henry

Cc: Steven_May

Subject: RE: Henry Summerson (2): DNB Baseless Opinions & Blatant Errors

I will not continue this conversation.

Alan

-----Original Message-----

From: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT)

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 11:00 AM

To: 'ahnelson'; Summerson, Henry

Cc: Steven_May

Subject: Henry Summerson (2): DNB Baseless Opinions & Blatant Errors

Thanks Alan (and Mr. Summerson):

All the most pertinent information completely meets Mr. Summerson's criteria of "indisputable errors of ascertainable fact." With all due respect Alan, you can't simply sniff-away the facts, pretending that the case is closed because you wish to put on a pretense of having been insulted. You insult yourself by such insufficient arguments as you and Dr. May have used in this matter!

One must question your use of "proof positive" below, and I suggest your argument is quite beneath the dignity of the Oxford DNB, since you argue separately in your own DNB article that Oxford was a roaring egomaniac (and thus quite capable of dedicating a body of his poetry, or even someone else's poetry [i.e., translations of Desportes' poetry], to himself!). Are you trying to get the DNB to have your cake and eat it too?

Your persistence in deliberately misspelling the "Soothern" name used on and in "Pandora" should be evidence enough to Mr. Summerson that you and Dr. May are trying some obfuscation, since the name "Southern" was not applied to "Pandora's" author until a misspelling of a generation later, after the Countess of Oxford was dead. And why the obfuscation? Because you both wish to hide the fact that "Soothern" is nothing more than the English translation of Oxford's name. This is consistent with the long-term campaign of both Dr. May and you to deprive Oxford of sufficient verses with which to compare him to Shakespeare's verses.

As to your observations that there were many "Southerns" in Elizabethan England, so what of it? Southern is nowhere to be found in or on "Pandora." It is completely immaterial to the fact that in 1584 there was but one name used in print, that was "Soothern," and that name was used in an indiputably Oxford-related book, bearing poetry purporting to be the most intimate thoughts of Oxford's wife and Queen, and where the context for the character "Soothern" was that he was about to "rayse Englishe to the skies." Doesn't that sound like an egomaniac by any definition of the term (unless perhaps he had the sublime quality of a "Shake-speare" to back up his boast)?

As to your "drawing this argument out longer," you've yet to address the key issues, always falling back on "arguments from authority" (conveniently the authority of you and Prof. May). And you've consistently failed to address the most important evidence, which is that "Soothern" is quite obviously a translation of Oxford's own name. Can you, Steven, or Mr. Summerson deny that central "indisputable and ascertainable fact?"

W. Ron Hess

301/402-4443

___________________________

From: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT)
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 5:10 PM
To: 'Summerson, Henry'
Cc: 'ahnelson@socrates.Berkeley.EDU'; Steven_May@georgetowncollege.edu
Subject: Henry Summerson: DNB Baseless Opinions & Blatant Errors
 

Thanks Mr. Summerson: 

Dr. May’s article about Anne DeVere contains an unfortunate misspelling of the author’s name for the 1584 “Pandora” which qualifies under your “correcting indisputable errors of ascertainable fact” (and I note Dr. Nelson’s article on Anne’s husband made the same ascertainable error).  If you or either Prof. can show where “Pandora” contains the name or even word “Southern” in it or on it, I’ll buy us all supper (in fact, “Pandora’s” author was first misspelled as “Southern” a generation later in 1600 when some of its lines were praised, but not within Anne DeVere’s lifetime, making May’s use of “Southern” irrelevant and contradictory to the discussion regarding his subject).  I attach my own transcription of “Pandora” in rich text format (or it can be viewed at http://www.sourcetext.com/sourcebook/index.htm along with images of the actual pages).  A simple search in the attachment file on “Southern” will show no hits whatever, whereas such a search on “Soothern” comes up with at least 6 hits, most of them attributing the authorship to that name (note too that Oxford’s name was prominently mentioned right next to the author’s on the Title Page, and the dedication was to him too).  As I’ve demonstrated, “Soothern” should at least provisionally be regarded as Oxford’s own pseudonym, a simple translation of his name “DeVere” into commonly accepted English (Sooth = truth [as in “for sooth” or “soothsayer”], so Soothern = of Truth = de Vere).  And dedicating the book to himself was something not necessarily disqualifying someone Nelson described as a monumental egoist.  What standards would fail to mention such relevant evidence?  Why would DNB instead perpetrate a false use of a name that is nowhere in or on the book central to the biography at hand (i.e., of Anne Cecil DeVere), but rather reflects a misspelling of a generation later?  In some circles, this could be regarded as “academic dishonesty.”

 

In my previous submission was a note that Dr. Nelson had misquoted the title of a major source in his bibliography.  Does that not qualify as “correcting indisputable errors of ascertainable fact?”  Leaving it uncorrected might (by intent?) make it difficult for scholars to locate the source.

 

And you might consider automatically purging material which is blatantly unsupported opinion on its face, such as where Dr. Nelson’s article ended with the unexplained-undefended-unsupported-unqualified opinion “...without merit.”  That opinion was substantially contradicted by the Dict. of Lit. Biography (1996 Vol. 172); their article about the 17th Oxford listed many positive things about his qualifications and gave favorable consideration to his possible relationship to the Shakespeare authorship question.  If Nelson and DNB wish to be historical and fair concerning the man he was asked to write a biography about, he should mention and give a bibliography citation for that respectable DLB article.  Or, has Oxford U. and the DNB officially declared that DLB is “without merit?”

 

If you need a citation for the “indisputable and ascertainable fact” of the at least provisional pseudonym (“DeVere = Soothern”), may I suggest listing my website (http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html), and noting Article # 8?  It was also noted in my article published in the Fall 2004 “DeVere Society Newsletter,” entitled "When Shakespeare 'originated' his Sonnets, did they have a 'Euphues' meaning?," accessible at my website Article # 10 (see too the DVS website at www.deveresociety.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk).

 

http://home.earthlink.net/~beornshall/index.html

W. Ron Hess

 

 


From: Summerson, Henry [mailto:henry.summerson@oup.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 6:56 AM
To: Hess, Ron (NIH/CIT)
Subject: DNB

 

Dear Mr Hess

I have now forwarded your message of 21 February to Professors Nelson and May and received their replies.  Neither reports himself persuaded by your arguments, and the relevant articles will therefore remain as they are.  I should add that at present, with Oxford DNB only six months old, we are only making changes which involve either correcting indisputable errors of ascertainable fact or eliminating inconsistencies within or between articles.  Issues arising from contested interpretation will not be addressed for some time.  And there, for the foreseeable future, the matter will have to rest.  Thank you for your interest in the Oxford DNB.

Yours sincerely
Henry Summerson

Dr Henry Summerson
Research Editor (pre-1600)

Oxford DNB

OUP, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP

01865 355034

email: henry.summerson@oup.com

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The Dark Side of Shakespeare (a Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)