The Dark Side of Shakespeare (A Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)
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Article 13 - Bad Ciphers **********
Article 14 - Willobie **********
Article 15 - SacvylesOA **********
Article 16 - Groatsworth **********
Article 17 - Ox's Medicine **********
Article 14 **********

In 1594, only a few months after publication of Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece, a long satirical poem called Willobie His Avisa (WHA) scandalized the literary and publishing worlds, obviously composed with a pseudonym (including false biography vaguely pointing to an obscure Oxford U. student), and other key points of disorder and suspicion.  It would later be banned and burned, and yet it would spawn enlargements and copy-cat editions, including Penelope's Complaint some years later (said by many scholars to be by the same author as WHA's).  In the 19th century, scholars would suggest that the "Mr. W.S." in it was the Bard, and some even suggested that the Bard was its true author altogether.  And yet, what this poem says about "Mr. W.S." can be shown to be a very good fit for the 17th Earl of Oxford. 
This article, prepared 2002-2003 while Hess' Vols. I and II were underway, goes beyond the Oxford connection to project an equally intriguing connection -- that the poem's all-important "Henrico Willobego, Italo-Hispalensis" character was just as good of a fit for Don Juan of Austria (DJ), the villainous wooer of Q. Elizabeth 1574-78, after which he quickly dropped from English nightmares as his nephew, the Prince of Parma, proceeded to conquer the Netherlands during the 1580s.  Thus, the "origination" of the WHA poem itself can even be dated -- after 1578 when DJ died, after 1581 when the French marriage contract between Q.Eliz. and the Duke of Anjou-Alencon had expired, but before Alencon's death in 1584 (unlike DJ's character, Alencon's was alive at the end of WHA!).
No serious "stylistics" work has been done on WHA to date, as far as I know.  Perhaps it's because orthodox scholars don't want to "ask a question to which they don't want an answer."  Given it's strong biographical allusions to someone like Oxford, who had wooed Q.Eliz. prior to DJ's commencing his in circa 1574, they are wise to avoid doing so!
Posted Nov 2009

Discussing 1594 Willobie His Avisa

W. Ron Hess (

Prepared 2002-2003 for Hess' Vol. III, Appen. N

(Note: Referals to Appendices or Sections are to Hess' Trilogy, references are to sources listed in Hess' Vol. III, due to be published Spring 2010)


What was Willobie His Avisa "Really" All About?

            Ogburn Jr., 736-40, discussed the anonymous September 1594 Willobie His Avisa, which contained the first outside references to the name "Shake-speare."  Even though it used that name in the context of "Shake-speare paints poor Lucrece rape," meaning to most scholars that it was written after Shakespeare's (Sh.'s) Rape of Lucrece (RofL) was published earlier in 1594, I intend to show that both alluded to a late-1570s to early 80s timeframe in history, with Willobie "originated" 1581-83.  Moreover, I intend to show that this mysterious book of poetry originated as a description of wooers of Q. Elizabeth from prior to 1584, with the theme of Oxford (= "W.S." = "Will Spears-Shake" or "Astolfo" in Appen. G) as the coach of Don Juan of Austria (= "Willobie" = "an unrequited lover"). [1]  I argue it was  revamped circa 1585-86 for presentation to 20-year old James VI of Scots as advice on how to gain the favor of or to romance Q. Elizabeth (= "Avisa") [2] who was already 53 in 1586, and who received sonnets from James in that year.  In the early 1590s, after James had married Anne of Denmark and it was unlikely  Elizabeth would marry, some suitors' initials and traits may have been changed to the interpretation of Ogburn Jr. and orthodox scholars so that the 1594 context of "H.W." meaning Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton, may have applied.  But, Southampton's coming of age after 1593-94 was only a pretext for Oxford and his "Jacobean" allies to begin releasing "Shakespeare" works in public, possibly because of Southampton's love of the theater (as seen above in Sect. J.2), and possibly in anticipation of James VI's accession to the throne in 1603 as James I of England. 


            But, we will also see that there was a sinister, dark, and threatening side to Willobie fully consistent with the theme of our trilogy here.  A very serious demand was being made regarding the English succession issue.  Southampton, rather than being only a dear friend of Sh.'s, was really an example of a class of persons which the Queen and her ministers were being warned to avoid!  So, we will see that texts written a decade earlier were revived and modified in 1593-94 in order to send a political message.  For the record, it seems that V&A was first written after the 1569-74 context of Oxford's romance with the Queen, and RofL and Willobie were both most likely written in the 1578-86 period of the over-reaction to the menace of Don Juan ("DJ" henceforth) by Oxford and his allies, with Willobie having been a description up to 1583, including the death of DJ in 1578, of various of the Queen's suitors.  In perceiving Oxford as "W.S.," RofL then can be seen as a visualization of how the Queen (as the chaste wife of England) morally should commit self-annihilation along the lines of the ancient Roman "Lucrece" if she were to take DJ's "Tarquin" as a mate.   The key, as always, was the Italian locales alluded to.  


            The importance of this obscure Willobie has long been recognized.  Ogburn, 736, said:

"Willobie His Avisa is clearly as significant for our inquiries as it is awkward for orthodoxy, and that is saying a great deal.  The first of the two stanzas sounding the theme of the work speaks of a 'constant dame' in Rome [3] who 'lost the garland of her rarest fame,' [4] though the faith she inspired is matched in England -- by, as it will turn out, the faith investing the lady Avisa, of whom we are told that in virtue 'This Brytan Bird outflies them all.'  The second stanza makes clear that the constant Roman dame was Lucrece, whose husband, Collatine, had found what 'most in vain have sought' -- 'a fair and constant wife' --

'Yet Tarquin plucks his glistering grape, / And Shake-speare paints poor Lucrece rape.'

"In this first surviving reference to Shakespeare, the insertion of the hyphen [underscores] that the name signed to the dedications of Venus and Adonis [1593] and Lucrece [1594] had been recognized as a pseudonym.


"Willobie His Avisa is composed of hundreds of six-line stanzas, fast-paced, smooth, and professional, making up a running dialogue.  The speakers are in turn, five would be seducers of Avisa who are cryptically identified, and Avisa herself, who, as a virtuous wife, repels and rebukes them all. [5] ...G.B. Harrison writes, 'The initials of Avisa's suitors covered, or rather revealed to contemporaries, persons of great importance; so great, in fact, that the scandals about them were still commercially worth retailing forty years later [with] good reason why, in June 1599, Willobie His Avisa should have been included in the category of books to be burned.'


"Who were these V.I.P.s?...When Avisa has occasion to reply in writing to attempts on her virtue, she signs herself Always the same Avisa, and, to call attention to its importance, the subscription is rendered in the largest type in the book.  Professor G.P.V. Akrigg observes that 'Always the same' translated into Latin becomes semper Eadem, the motto of Elizabeth I....[quoting Prof. Barbara N. DeLuna] Elizabeth had declared in 1559, 'I have already joined myself in marriage to an husband, namely the Kingdome of England.'" [bold added]


            Before we press on with Willobie, consider the verse called The Advice, the first stanza of which was listed in Ogburn Jr., 611, which was alleged 80 years later to have been addressed to Anne Vavasour by Raleigh, the future Sir Walter (apparently in the 1578-80 time period when Raleigh was merely one of Oxford's henchmen).  Of course, by 1580 Anne was one of  Oxford's mistresses, and Chambers-1936, 152-54, gives joint verses written by Oxford and Anne together; so, on a hunch that this was really written by Oxford, I'd like to propose that it was really also "advice" for England's "Avisa."  You be the judge:   

"Many desire, but few or none deserve /

To win the Fort of thy most constant will: /

Therefore take heed, let fancy never swerve /

But unto him that will defend thee still.  /

For this be sure, the fort of fame once won, /

Farewell the rest, thy happy days are done. 


            "Many desire, but few or none deserve /

             To pluck the flowers and let the leaves to fall; /

Therefore take heed, let fancy never swerve, /

But unto him that will take leaves and all. /

For this be sure, the flower once pluckt away, /

Farewell the rest, thy happy days decay.


"Many desire, but few or none deserve /

To cut the corn, not subject to the sickle. /

Therefore take heed, let fancy never swerve /

But constant stand, for Mowers mindes are fickle. /

For this be sure, the crop being once obtain'd /

Farewell the rest, the soil will be disdain'd."

                  (151-2, from Le Prine d' Amour of 1660)

My Chapter 5, fn. # 10, noted a similarity to the dying words (regarding "Teresa") of DJ and the above repeated first  refrain.  History showed poor Anne Vavasour to have had anything but a "constant will" (in the 1590s, her husband essentially rented her out to elderly Sir Henry Lee, per Chambers-1936, 162), whereas England's "Avisa" was famous for her constancy!


            But to get to the bottom of the "real" meaning of Willobie, we'll need to describe its 1594 title page, and in particular a certain implied threat it bore. 


Did Willobie His Avisa "Threaten" Queen Elizabeth and Lord Burghley?

            Because of the above motto and demi-oath of perpetual chastity, "Avisa" has universally been recognized as Queen Elizabeth.  So, it is astounding that the ornate Title Page to Willobie seems to have been overlooked (see Fig. N.1 below).  At the top margin hung a stag's head, reminiscent of the stags head and horns hung on "Sir John" Falstaff in Merry Wives by the residents of Windsor (chief among whom of course was the Queen at Whitehall), or "Bottom's" donkey head from the fairies in Midsummer Night's Dream.  The stag was crowned with the crescent symbol of Artemis-Diana, goddess of virginity, the Moon, and the hunt.  And in an oval at the bottom center was depicted the "Herne the hunter" image from Merry Wives, leading two hounds on leashes, sporting a stag's horns and head in substitute for his own, and approaching a sepulcher being used as a bath by Artemis (or Titania?) and two cherubs or fairies (this combined the Celtic god "Herne" with the Greco-Roman myth of Actaeon stumbling upon Artemis in her bath, being changed into a stag by her, and fleeing to be chased and torn apart by his own hunting hounds; Hamilton, 255-56).   Note the left side of the image was dominated by a pregnant Pallas Athena ("the Spear-shaker"; virgin goddess of war, the arts, music, wisdom, and literature) and on the right by a pregnant virgin Artemis.  So, clearly Pallas ("Spear-Shaker" = "Shake-Spear") and Artemis (the virgin goddess or "Virgin Queen") were "pregnant with meaning" for the reader, or there was a secret message enclosed!  In every way this Title Page could illustrate, obviously the author "Shake-speare" was involved in the Willobie project, even using his name in the book's text. 


            What was the "pregnant message" to be told in Willobie?  This wasn't a cryptic "Tudor Rose" symbol about Henry Wriothesley, except as he was included into a more abstract group, even if Southampton's coming of age soon after 1574 was part of the pretext for publication of the book.  The meaning of the book, the subversive message throughout every part of it, was the same message of The Rape of Lucrece (RofL).  And that message was clearly told, although in very fine type, right on Willobie's Title Page [bold emphasis added]:

"Willobie/ His/ Avisa./ Or/ The true Picture of a mo-/ dest Maid, and of a chast and/ constant wife./ ... / Read the preface to the Reader before you enter farther./ A vertuous woman is the crowne of her husband [i.e., = England], but she that maketh him ashamed, is as corruption in his bones.  Proverb 12.4." [5]


            No wonder this book was slated to be burned in 1599!  Its theme was no less than that the "Virgin Queen" should commit suicide should she ever have fornicated with anyone, because she was the virtuous "wife of England" and must therefore have always, under all circumstances, remained chaste, pregnant only with wisdom and bounteousness (represented by the fruits of the hunt and orchard otherwise depicted in the Title Page).  This was very similar to the message of RofL.  So, "Shake-speare" (where "VERtuous woman" targets another "VER" word as in Gray, 394) represented a watching and waiting alliance of "Jacobeans" who were ready to uphold the "myth" of the "Virgin Queen," to maintain Elizabeth and her corrupt ministers in power only so long as she claimed to have remained inviolate and respected the rights of James VI of Scots as her successor.  However, should she have proven to have been "shameful" or "corrupt" herself (that is to be known to have spawned bastards), even unwillingly (as with her having been raped), the author and his allies stood ready to assist her in her duty to follow Lucrece's suicide example (and to undertake the destruction of any bastards or pretenders). 


            Remember, the myth that a raped woman "enjoys" the sexual aspects of being raped was fully discredited only in the last part of the 20th century.  So, for Elizabeth to have claimed that she gave birth to a "Tudor Rose," even through unwilling rape, she would have fallen into "Lucrece's" pattern and owed her husband (= England) her self-destruction as trial of her honesty.  Only through self-destruction could "Lucrece" or Queen Elizabeth have proven her virtue, given the hostile circumstances so ominously hinted at in the title page and margins of Willobie! 


            Sect. 6.B above noted that one of the issues separating the Sussex-Oxford alliance from Leicester's was that the latter argued against foreign marriages for the Queen, whereas the former argued for them until about 1581.  Leicester's side encouraged Elizabeth's "Virgin Queen" cult and public image (to co-opt the "Virgin Madonna" cult from Catholic tradition, but also to continue Leicester in his situation as the Queen's secret sexual partner, or High Priest).  After Sussex-Oxford's alliance migrated to a "Jacobean" (or "Later-day Marianists") position between 1581 to 84, and began to help bring about the 1586 Treaty of Berwick (see Sect. 6.N), they likely used the "Virgin Queen Cult" to their own advantage:  not only a virgin, she was wedded to England and should forfeit her life, if she ever waivered, even if through rape, as Lucrece did! 


            Now of course, Elizabeth flirtatiousness had been repeatedly rumored to have spawned bastards from the late-1540s to the early 1580s, or as Mr. "W.S." said in Willobie Canto XLVII [emphasis added]:

"She is no Saynt, She is no Nonne, / I thinke in tyme she may be wonne:"

Yet no children of Elizabeth's had ever been acknowledged.  Still it was possible for pretenders or impostors to emerge after any monarch died without issue (as happened with the death of Sebastian of Portugal, where false Sebastians, even one linked to the illegitimate daughter of DJ, popped-up periodically all over Europe, taking advantage of the Portuguese misery about being conquered by Philip II).  So, the hidden message of both Willobie and RofL was that no one, not even Elizabeth, should dare promote some pretender to the throne through a claim that Elizabeth had delivered any bastards, even if she had been raped.


            But that message was even more sinisterly extended to her chief Minister, Burghley.  Note the marginalia threats scattered through Willobie (Hamilton, 127, 140, & 143):

      a)   Canto L, "Idlenesse the mother of all foolish wannesse [wantoness or wantons]" (which if applied to Avisa-Elizabeth would mark her for a whore);

      b)   Canto LVI, "Fuggi quel piacer presente, che ti da dolor futuro" = Italian which I take to be "You've escaped that present pleasure when you've [arrived] at future sorrow" (potentially applying to Avisa-Elizabeth the myth that a woman enjoys being raped); and

      c)   Canto LVIII, "Gen. 38.24, Whoremoungers burnt" (potentially applying to Burghley as chief minister should his royal mistress be found to have been an unworthy whore!).  

These were among many examples with "pregnant threats" that the Queen and her ministers must have interpreted, translated, understood, and heeded, even if they did try to burn the book. 


            The most obviously legitimate heir to Elizabeth was to remain he who since 1586 had been the treaty-enforced but unofficial "Crown Prince of England" -- that is James VI of Scotland -- in nine years to become James I of England through one of the most peaceful transitions from one dynasty to another ever to transpire in all of  bloody History.   So, could Willobie's 1594 publication have been in response to a plan mulled-over by Burghley and the Queen that she should "marry" a consort, "adopt" an heir, or even claim to have had a child by rape?  Some might have suggested young Southampton or Essex, but more likely it was William Stanley, who had royal blood out of his mother's descent from Henry VII.  In 1594 Stanley's marriage to Oxford's daughter was temporarily put-off, in part because such a move was afoot to consider him as a consort to the Queen (Evans, 152).  Alternatively, Elizabeth may have been prepared to "adopt" the son of Ferdinando the 5th Earl of Derby, Stanley's recently deceased brother (but the widow Alice Spencer Stanley was left pregnant with what turned-out to be a girl).  Note that Stanley's mother, a descendant of a sister of Henry VII, was inveigled in some Catholic plotting and had spent much of her adult life under confinement by Q. Elizabeth (Hardy, 192), which may explain why Ferdinando was so quick to betray plotters in 1593 and William so quick to secure the protection of the House of Cecil by his Jan. 1595 marriage to Oxford's daughter, Burghley's granddaughter.  One might say that Southampton's rejection of the same marriage in 1591 (due to the advice of "priests") and the Duke of Norfolk's rejection of an earlier marriage to a relative of Burghley's in 1571, were symptoms of their having "flunked the test" that Burghley dangled to try to save their social positions (or life in the case of Norfolk), as well as advance the fortunes of the House of Cecil.


            But, there are other avenues to be explored about why in 1594 Willobie (and RofL) may have been drawn up as a threat to Q. Elizabeth and Burghley.  My thanks to Peter Dickson for pointing me toward the two most likely sources of royal succession tension.  Firstly, it seems that James VI had a rival to both thrones in his 1st cousin, Arbella Stuart (1575-1615), daughter of Bess of Hardwick, who had married Charles Stuart Earl of Lennox, brother of Mary Stuart's husband Henry Stuart Lord Darnley, and thus was a descendant of the same Margaret Tudor (daughter of Henry VII) that James VI got his descent from (though Margaret had married Arbella's ancestor only after her 1st husband James IV had died in 1513).  Arbella was eventually to choose very suspiciously-high when she wed William Seymour (1588-1660) Duke of Somerset, and thus spent the rest of her life from 1609 in house confinement and the Tower.  But in 1591 to 92 she had been readmitted to the English Court largely through the graces of Burghley, and Dickson has even found some rumors by Burghley's enemies that the old man was trying to manufacture a marriage between Arbella and Burghley's son Thomas Cecil's son (or less likely with Burghley's 2nd son, Robert Cecil, a commoner in 1592).  Though such a marriage would obviously have helped ambitions of the House of Cecil, it's most important result would have been to save Arbella's fortunes (by allowing her to pass that test that Southampton and Norfolk "flunked").


            But I've questioned if such a move to have Arbella "marry down" so low had "reality" to it, since there were numerous foreign and domestic "Princes" who were taking interest in Arbella, and one that Burghley and Q. Elizabeth openly urged upon Arbella was a wedding to the son of the Duke of Parma (DJ's nephew, 2nd in command, and successor as Governor General of the Netherlands).  Since Parma had been unfairly blamed by his uncle Philip II for the failure of the 1588 Armada campaign, it may be that England had a "real politique" desire to pry Parma away from Philip's orbit and to have him bring the Netherlands with him.  Indeed, the matter was so seriously entertained that had not Parma died in 1592, he most likely would have seen the marriage accomplished (a portrait of Arbella had been commissioned to be sent to Brussels and it still exists; see Hardy, 57-74 for an exposition of just some of these Arbella-related plots).  So, if the author of Willobie was a "Jacobean," he certainly had reason to suspect that Burghley and Q. Elizabeth were contemplating a double-cross upon the rights of James VI to inherit the English throne.


            Then secondly, also derived from Peter Dickson, there was circa 1593-94 (and actually continuing all the way up to the 1600 "Gowrie Conspiracy" by the Ruthven lords to kill K. James) grounds for a real fear among the "Jacobean" advocate of the succession of James VI that their hero would be overthrown  or even killed in Scotland.  The history of Scots politics all the way back to and before Macbeth seems sort of like the way "Star Trek" describes the "Klingon Empire," in that whoever killed whom and got the upper hand was free to name themselves as King of Scotland.  After 1589 James' Danish marriage might have been expected to protect him for the English succession, in that Elizabeth should have felt less threatened than she did by his Catholic mother Mary Stuart.  But for some reason that was not the case, and by all accounts Elizabeth actually was affronted by the Danish wedding, perhaps because it linked together two of the leading Protestant kingdoms, giving international Protestantism a viable alternative to her politics.  In any case, just under the rules of Machiavellian politics of that day, a "Prince" or Queen was supposed to secretly destabilize all his/her neighbors so that they couldn't join together and surround the principate's territory.  After 1586 James had been very compliant, taking Elizabeth's pension and occasional increased bribes (see Sect. 6.N).  And though he mildly threatened to aid the Spanish Armada, he'd  always been less trouble to England than might have been expected (certainly, his lame protest about the execution of his mother in Jan. 1587 was duly noted).  But by 1593 the English destabilization program, support for the Ruthven lords, and other enterprises began to appear to be genuinely a threat to James.  Most sinister was the extraordinary career of James' uncle James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, particularly when at Falkland Castle after having chased Bothwell's renegade forces across southern Scotland, James entered his private chamber to find Bothwell kneeling with a drawn sword in hand (symbolizing that he was submitting, but could have struck the King had he wished; Watson, 99-108).  Actually, Burghley was in communication with Bothwell and the latter was begging financial support, but so erratically that Burghley pronounced himself to be mystified by the Earl (109-17).  Still, from James VI's London supporters' perspective, there must have been the appearance of an attempt to overthrow or kill James at just about the time that the Willobie and RofL projects were being prepared.


            And of course there was always room following Elizabeth's long-anticipated death for spurious claims to surface about her having delivered bastardy, as might have been falsely applied to Philip Howard (at that time about to expire in the Tower the next year), Essex, Harrington, or even Southampton.  Imagine the esteem that a native Englishman might have had, such as Harrington, the Queen's godson, if a following were to claim that he'd secretly been her son.  That Essex, Harrington, and Southampton were accorded extra favor by their grandmotherly Queen (and Essex and Harrington each took an inordinate interest in the welfare of Arbella Stuart) likely worried those wishing to keep the way smooth for James VI to mount the throne.  They might ask, "Is the Queen trying to double-cross James?"


            Thus, let us logically suggest that from about 1584 onward, "the Sh. Enterprise" (essentially the Sussex-Oxford alliance) and all the participants therein, were among the guardians of the succession for the man they regarded as the rightful heir, James of Scotland.  And no power in England, no bastard's or pretender's claim, was to stand in their way!  Not Leicester, not Burghley, not Robert Cecil (whom they later co-opted), and not Raleigh, Essex, or Southampton  (each of whom they watched destroy himself, perhaps with a little help).  As was the case for James himself, they were prepared to be mild and generous, both before and after James I's succession.  But, they still guarded his sacred flame (see Appens. E & F about James VI, Oxford, and "Sh." all co-authoring poetry collections together)!  And thus, as we examine Willobie in more depth, consider that this epic poem was likely meant to threaten Q. Elizabeth and her ministers.


Who were Avisa's first four suitors?

            To continue searching for its "real" meaning, let's analyze Willobie very closely, starting with the most likely identification for its suitors of "Avisa."  Returning to Ogburn Jr. (737), we find:

 "...As to the lovers, Professor DeLuna argues, ably, that the first four are Thomas Seymour, Philip II, the duke of Alencon, and Christopher Hatton." 

In the poem, the actual identifications of the first four suitors (including Avisa's responses) were:

      a)   Cantos VI to XIII were exchanges with "NOB." (also followed in Canto XII by "Furens" = furiously).  Apparently "NOB." was an abbreviation for "nobleman," but my first impression was that it was short for "nobody!"  The identification with Thomas Seymour was a "best of a bad lot" choice, since Seymour had been Elizabeth's first "suitor" in the sense that while she was a minor and his ward he may have tried to maneuver to wed her himself (such was his choice as guardian, but with a royal princess it was potential treason, for which he paid the price with his neck), and he was rumored to have made her pregnant.  Otherwise, there was little to identify NOB. with anybody, so he might as well have been "nobody," or a composite of English gentlemen who might have wooed her. 


      b)   Cantos XIV to XXII were exchanges with "Ruffians, Roysters, young Gentlemen, and lustie Captaines, which all she quickly cuts off" and these were given the name "Caveileiro" or "Caveleiro," where the word "Cavalier" simply meant "Mr.," "Sir," or "Knight" from the Old Fr. "horseman" and the Latin "caballus" for "horse."  These were simply the plethora of "Princes" international and domestic who had besieged Elizabeth's Court asking for her hand in her first decade or two of her reign.  The identification with Philip II was not readily apparent, and again this might as well have been a composite of various foreign gentlemen, a nice pairing with "NOB." above.  This could have included the son of the King of Sweden or the son of Emperor Maximilian II which Oxford's mentor Sussex had advocated each in his time during the 1560s (Sect. C.2 above suggested 1567-68 Oxford accompanied Sussex's mission to negotiate Archduke Charles' wedding to Q. Elizabeth).


      c)   Cantos XXIII to XXXIII were exchanges with a "D.B. A French man." introduced as a:

"wary sutor, which by signes, by letters, by priuie messengers, by Iewels, Rings, Golde, diuers gifts, and by a long continued course of courtesie, at length preuaileth with many both maides and wiues, if they be not garded wounderfully...". 

In an unusual header just preceding Canto XXXI, the initials "D.B." were misprinted as:

"T.B. [sic] Being somewhat grieued with this aunswere [from Avisa], after long absence and silence, at length writeth, as followeth."

The header addressed him as "D.B. To AVISA more pittie.," and the end of Canto XXXI was signed as "Dudum beatus, D.B." meaning "A short time ago prosperous," as an indication that just previously he had thought he had the bird in his hand. [6]  The identification with the Duke of Alencon need not refer to Alencon's 1579-81 contract to wed Queen Elizabeth and his several visits to London, because there was earlier a strong effort in the mid-1570s on his behalf, and earlier yet there had been an effort to wed his older brother, the future Henri III, to Elizabeth.  Yet, most likely it did reflect the 1583 end to Alencon's contract of marriage with Elizabeth.  Still, the D.B. character was not referred to as dead (Alencon died in 1584);  so, this made one of the best "dating indicators" for this poem's origination: 1581-84. [7]  The description of D.B. as using "signes," "letters," and "priuie messengers" was correct, since Alencon (and his conspiratorial sister Marguerite de Valois) notably used those.  In particular, Alencon's envoy Simier allegedly made such an impression on Q. Elizabeth that rumor had it the messenger sampled her wares before his master had come to do so!  Indeed, of all Elizabeth's foreign suitors, the pockmarked, effeminate, ridiculous Alencon and his Simier were the most likely to have impregnated a "Virgin Queen" (Ogburn Jr., 604-06). [8]


      d)   Cantos XXXIV to XLIII were exchanges with a "Dydimus Harco. Anglo-Germanus" or just "D.H." whose meaning was unclear ("Dydimus" meant twin, and possibly one Germanic suitor of Q. Elizabeth was a twin?  Alternatively, "Diditus" meant "to publicize, hand out," and "hara" meant "pen, coop, stye," whereas "haereo" meant "to cling or stick to").  The identification with Christopher Hatton seems reasonable enough until someone better gets put forward (Hatton, Vice Chancellor and then Chancellor of England at her majesty's pleasure, in the early 1570s was noted more for his dancing than for his intellectual achievements, though he was a generous patron of writers; in the 1570s he was one of Oxford's rival's for Q. Elizabeth's favor, and remained an ally of Leicester).


            So, we've seen that each of the first four suitors for "Avisa's" hand are most logically identified with 1540s to 1570s suitors of Q. Elizabeth, and because the clearest one (i.e., Alencon =  "D.B. A French man") was depicted as still alive at the end of the epic poem, the "origination" date for Willobie would logically be before Alencon's death in 1584 but after his suit for Elizabeth had formally ended in 1581.  Thus, attempts to place other suitors some two decades later, in the 1590s, should be held with skepticism.


Who was Mr. "W.S.," the advising friend of Avisa's Fifth Suitor?

            Cantos XLIV through LXXIV were unique in that they involved a "love triangle," although neither of the two gentlemen suitors, Mr. "H.W." and Mr. "W.S.," reported more success with Avisa than other suitors had, and Mr. H.W. doesn't survive the ordeal, with Canto LXXIV ending:

"H.W. Was now againe striken so dead, that hee hath not yet any farder assaid, not I thinke euer will, and where he be aliue or dead I know not, and therfore I leaue him." [9]

Those 21 Cantos  were also the longest part of the poem by far, taking up nearly half of the book.  So, whoever "Mr. H.W." was, he was depicted as near to death or already dead in the 1581 to 83 time-frame when Alencon's suit had ended yet Alencon was still alive.  We'll get back to "H.W." later.


            The Willobie book would not be so notable if there wasn't a good chance we could identify the W.S. character as "William Sh.," and thereby add to our knowledge of the poet-playwright those additional attributes referred to in Canto XLIV.  Mr. W.S. had a dialogue with H.W. in Cantos XLV and XLVII, providing him advice of "Wicked wiles to deceaue witles [witless] women" and "who not long before had tryed the curtesy of the like passion" in his own wooing of Avisa (i.e., Q. Elizabeth).  Ogburn Jr., 737-38 said:

"Who is W.S.?  Among scholars today I think there is but little question as to that.  'Remembering that Willobie His Avisa treats of important persons,' G.B. Harrison writes, 'there is strong probability that H.W. is to be identified with Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, and W.S. with William Shakespeare.'  Recalling that John Collier had first pointed out this link, Schoenbaum includes the perception among his 'valid contributions to knowledge.'  E.K. Chambers bases on 'the apparent testimony of Willobie His Avisa' his judgement that Shakespeare 'in or shortly before 1594' had 'an unsuccessful love affair.'  Akrigg accepts W.S. as Shakespeare outright.  William Jaggard, the outstanding Shakespearean bibliographer, even calls the depiction of W.S. 'the most convincing version of his [Shakespeare's] personality known throughout all literature.' "


            So, there seems to be unanimous opinion that "W.S." was a representation of Sh.  Preceding Canto XLIV, "H.W.'s" affliction was described as [emphasis added]:

"H.W. being sodenly infected with the contagion of a fantasticall fit, at the first sight of A [10], pyneth a while in secret griefe, at length not able any longer to indure the burning heate of so feruent a humour, bewrayeth the secresy of his disease vnto his familiar frend W.S. who not long before had tryed the curtesy of the like passion, and was now newly recouered of the like infection; yet finding his frend let bloud in the same vaine, he took pleasure for a tyme to see him bleed, & in steed of stopping the issue, he inlargeth the wound, with the sharpe rasor of a willing conceit, perswading him that he thought it a matter very easy to be compassed, & no doubt with payne, diligence & some cost in time to be obtayned.... In all which discourse is liuely represented the vnrewly rage of vnbrydeled fancy, hauing the raines to roue at liberty, with the dyuers & sundry changes of affections & temptations, which Will, set loose from Reason, can deuise. & c.."  

Note that the author inserted "which Will... can devise" concerning an interaction in which "W.S." was supposed to be coaching or "devising" advice for "H.W."  Therefore, "W.S." was "Will."  As we've seen from the Title Page discussion above, clearly this work was intended to be linked with at least two of Sh.'s plays and one of his poems, and therefore I cannot fail to heartily subscribe to the universal interpretation that "Will S." was supposed to represent Sh., whoever he was. 


            Moreover, accepting Mr. "W.S." as Sh. totally exposes the rank absurdity of the entire orthodox Stratfordian myth!  Because Willobie Canto XLIV and elsewhere clearly indicated that Will S. or Sh. had repeatedly wooed Queen Elizabeth, probably in the early 1570s, which Mr. Shakspere of Warwickshire certainly did not do, even if he had improbably cultivated a friendship with the great Earl of Southampton.  For 1594 it's ludicrous to propose 61-year-old Gloriana as fervently assailed with pleas for her to polish the bald pate and other fixtures of one so mean as the tax cheat and grain hoarder of Warwickshire.  Ogburn Jr., 738-39, exclaimed:

"At this juncture in the groves of Academe [orthodox scholarship], I have to say, ultimate bewilderment sets in with me.  Are we actually to believe that Southampton would make a 'familiar friend' of a common player of Shakspere's background and submit to being called 'friend Harry' by him?  That the aristocratic, spoiled young Earl would make a confidant of such a one and seek his advice on how to prevail with the Queen of England, whose hand future kings [of foreign countries] had tried by every means to gain?  Are we to imagine that the untutored commoner -- even supposing that his experience permitted him to expound with self-assurance on the efficacy of gifts of rings and gold in deceiving the wisest -- would presume to declare of the near divinity on the English throne:

‛Well, say no more; I know thy grief, / And face from whence these flames arise, / It is not hard to find relief, / If thou wilt follow good advice: / She is no Saint, She is no Nun, / I think in time she may be won.'?


"All that rules out Shakspere as the W.S. of the poem is to me readily acceptable as applying to Shakespeare-Oxford, if taken as inspired by gossip; and I dare say Charlotte Stopes [a prominent orthodox biographer of Southampton] is right when she comments on Willobie that 'Such a translation of the friendship which resulted in the writing of the Sonnets [the usual orthodox supposition] ...could only have been made by the enemies of both [men].'  ...It seems to me unmistakable from what [was in Canto XLIV and elsewhere] the the lady 'A,' who has awakened 'so fervent a humour' in H.W., is the same with whom W.S. 'like assaults hath often tried.'  I venture to think that even those Stratfordians able to picture the obscure Will Shakspere as moving familiarly in the august company presented in Willobie His Avisa stop short of having him credited with repeated attempts to seduce the Queen of England. [11]   But can it be believed that Southampton had conceived a burning desire for a woman forty years his senior?" [12] 


We've arrived at the crux of the matter: Willobie is tantalizingly close to biographical evidence about Sh. the author, but when orthodox scholars try to use it for Mr. Shakspere's biography it simply blows up in their faces like an overblown balloon!  However, with Oxford, Willobie fits just perfectly, and provides us with very valuable biography indeed.  For one thing, it helps to confirm charges made against Oxford in the 1581 Libels that he had boasted of not only wooing, but maybe even bedding the Queen!  Though that boast was brought to her attention, she did not have Oxford seriously punished until some weeks later when more evidence popped out about Anne Vavasour, that Oxford had not been quite so reliable as he'd claimed; so, we saw no strong indignation on her majesty's part about the alleged impugning of her "virgin" reputation by Oxford (just at his having impregnated her Majesty's handmaiden). 


Most importantly, who was Avisa's Fifth Suitor, Mr. "H.W."?

            When we get to the question of the identity of Mr. H.W., suddenly all brains have previously turned to mush, all awarenesses of suitors from out of the 1570s has been washed clean, and all prior analysts have turned their gazes toward a young man whose 21st birthday had not yet been attained and whose potential romance with a 61-year-old Queen was problematic at best. 


        Yet, in the finest application of "circular reasoning," all analysts have found it essential to their causes that they should completely confuse themselves and their readers by equating Mr. H.W. with the same H.W. referred to in the 1593 V&A and 1594 RofL dedications by Sh. (i.e., with Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton).  Returning to Ogburn Jr., 737, we find the following [bold emphasis added]:

"The fifth, 'H.W.,' is evidently to be identified with the alleged author, 'Henrico Willobego. Italo-Hispalensis.'"

And, like the clues for "a Frenchman" and "an Anglo-German" for other suitors above, we should expect that "Italo-Hispalensis" [13] has been regarded as important by scholars. 


       Yet this is precisely where every scholar, orthodox and unorthodox alike, have gone miserably astray.  Sh.'s 1593 V&A and 1594 RofL were both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley.  Therefore, bent on the notion that, because of those two dedications, the Willobie work also had Southampton in mind, scholars have stopped fruitful analysis of Willobie by jumping on the "H.W." and "Henrico" = "Henry" ideas, while ignoring everything else Willobie said about Mr. "H.W." 


              For instance, scholars have ignored the "Italo-Hispalensis" identification for Mr. H.W.  That phrase hinted in 1594 just as it does now, at "an Hispanic man of Italianate habits or locale," and in this trilogy we've already encountered the quintessential example of that man in each and every one of Sh.'s plays:  Don Juan of Austria!  The author of Willobie went to some lengths to put that obvious identification of Mr. H.W. in there, not only identifying him as "Henrico Willobego Italo-Hispanensis" in Canto XLIV, but also in the "Epistle to the Reader" as [emphasis added]:

"Lastly the Spanyard and Italian, who more furiously inuadeth his loue, & more pathetically indureth then all the rest, from the forty foure Canto to the ende of the booke.  It seemes that in this last example the author names himselfe, and so describeth his owne loue, I know not, and I will not bee curious."

Here the "Spanyard and Italian" almost exclusively identified DJ, since he had been the most prominent exemplar in the 1570s (only Philip II might qualify, and he was already identified earlier).  The "furiously inuadeth" clearly referred to the November 4, 1576 "Spanish Fury" when DJ's troops mutinied because pawning of his jewels to pay their back wages was insufficient to make up for many months of neglect of them by Philip II.  The Spanish mutineers took their fury to Europe's richest city, sacking Antwerp and killing tens of thousands of innocents, the worst single atrocity of the rather bad 16th century. [14]  And, from late 1577 until DJ's death (or assassination by poison) on October 1, 1578, there was universal hysteria that DJ was about to "invade" England with those same "furious" troops.  The last sentence was both informative and misdirecting:

    a)     it correctly identified the series of cantos in which "the author names himselfe, and so describeth his owne loue," because that was where we find the few cantos about or by Mr. "W.S." (or as Gabriel Harvey called Oxford in 1578, "Will Spears-Shakes"); but

    b)     we also find there the cantos by Mr. "H.W.," or as I shall show, cantos put into the mouth of DJ, and he clearly was not the author (in fact, scholars have puzzled about how the author could have named himself, as said, since Mr. H.W. was clearly dead by the end of the series of cantos, and the book's "more pathetically" treated him more seriously afflicted than the rest of the five suitors!).

The "pathetic" treatment of DJ in this selection matched the treatment throughout the rest of the cantos in question, one of a man dying of a fever or poison, allegedly for love of Avisa, but we shall see many particulars matching the actual death symptoms suffered by DJ (and describe for "Falstaff"). 


            Scholars have overlooked DJ because they were trying too hard to shoehorn-in Henry Wriothesley, and they may have been insufficiently aware of DJ's suit for Queen Elizabeth's hand.  Philip II, DJ's half-brother, has already been widely recognized as one of the first four suitors, as we've seen, and Philip's suits for Elizabeth's hand were all prior to the beginning of DJ's motions began, from 1574 until 78 (in which last year he was noted as closely studying her portrait and suggesting she would look even better in "the Spanish style," as we've seen).  Also, like DJ, each of the other named suitors were from before 1584. 


            Above we noted "Willobie" (or "Willobego" [15]) = "an unrequited lover," aptly describing DJ's hapless suit for Elizabeth's hand when looking back from 1583-84.  Note "vili" = hairy.  So, how do we explain the first name "Henrico"?  The author addressed it in Canto XLV:

"Well met, frend Harry, what's the cause / You looke so pale..." [emphasis added]

For as can be seen by Fig. 4 above, depicting DJ, he was certainly notable for his elaborate mustachios and brushed-back blond hair (Clark, 138-9, remarked precisely on his setting of trends in hair styles).  In short, DJ was Oxford's "friend Hairy!"  Even the "Henri-Co" was significant; because in addition to making  "Henri" ( = Fr. for "Henry" or "Harry") sound hispanic (as a school boy might try to transform "the boss" into "el bosso"), in Latin the word "cohaereo" (root of our "cohere") = "to be closely connected, in harmony, or consistent with," thus echoing the "frend-friend" prefixed (where Latin was a lingua-franca for the two friends; though we should note that "vilia" also = worthless, and by 1578 DJ had learned to speak "perfect English").  If I'm right, we have another indication that Oxford and DJ enjoyed a period from 1574 to mid-76 when they were "connected, in harmony, or consistent with" each other's goals and desires; that is they were "friends."  And so we see the character "H.W." didn't originate with someone like Henry Wriothesley in mind, though later a double-meaning may have been deliberately constructed by Oxford-Sh., helping to disguise an attack on Q. Elizabeth and Burghley, where Wriothesley may have been a potential consort of the Queen, as something that under "plausible deniability" could be said to be in praise of Wriothesley.


Was there significance in the deaths of "Sir John" and "Don Juan"?

            The best way to really show that Mr. "H.W." was based on DJ is to simultaneously demonstrate that DJ's death (which may have been of poison, possibly administered by Oxford's agents, but in any case which included recurring fluxes, degenerative fever, hallucinations, and apparently religious exclamations; see Sect. 3.F above) was closely described in both Willobie's treatment of the "affliction" of Mr. "H.W." and in Sh.'s H5, II iii, describing the death of "Sir John" Falstaff (where we should note that "Sir John" translates in Spanish simply to "Don Juan").   My discovery of this must be credited to Prof. Peter Saccio of Dartmouth College, whose lecture # 17 in Pt. II of his course on Sh. was entitled, Henry V: The Death of Falstaff. [16]  For the next few pages I quote extensively from pgs. 15-25 of his study guide, and all quotes from Willobie in my endnotes are from Harrison (115-21):

"This lecture consists of a close reading of the first forty lines of Henry V, 2.3  The lines are explored in detail for their various emotional resonances and for their allusions to the Gospels, the Psalms, the Book of Revelation, and Plato's account of Socrates' death.  The physical and spiritual details of Falstaff's death are noted...Shakespeare imagined a scene of complex and mixed emotions, any one of which may dominate in a particular production or reading, reasonably mixed with and supported by the others.  The complexity and richness of the composition are compared with the complexity of Michelangelo's painting on the Sistine chapel ceiling....I want to show you the abundance of Shakespeare in a short passage.  I will take about forty lines and show you the richness of their texture, share with you the ways in which Shakespeare can provoke us -- readers and playgoers -- a multitude of emotional and intellectual responses....It is a simple passage.  I have deliberately not chosen a stretch of high-flown verse rich in metaphor and mythological allusion. [17]  It is prose, they are down-to-earth characters grieving the death of a dear friend, not rising to royal eulogy but simply talking about what happened at the deathbed.  A youngster could understand the basic sense without explanations.  But it is remarkably rich in its effect upon an attentive audience. 


"The premise of the scene involves some emotional complication.  These are comic characters, but at the moment they are sad.  The audience will be sad too.  The original audience in 1599 [more likely as much as 20 years earlier, but in private performances!] may have been not only sad but also surprised.  They had been promised, in the epilogue to Shakespeare's previous history play, Henry IV Part 2, that the sequel, pursuing Prince Hal as king and his conquest of France, would also contain more adventures of Falstaff.  The character has appeared in two or three plays already. [18]  He was a great public favorite. [19]  A serial character ought not to die....Why Shakespeare decided to kill Falstaff is a matter open to speculation; but since he decided to kill him, he had to give him an appropriate send-off. [20]  Consider who Falstaff was: an embodiment of tremendous vitality, a man who joked and drank and schemed and fornicated and saw through the public pretenses of kings and social order. [21]  A man witty in himself and the cause of wit in other men.  The greatest drinking buddy, the greatest boon companion in English, or any other literature I know.  To say that he is dead is almost to say that life itself [or] all the earthly delight of life is dead.  So there is great reason for sorrow.  But the scene is not wholly sad. 


"...The characters come on as Pistol and the other men are departing [to join] King Henry's war in France.  The Hostess, who has now married Pistol, [22] begs to accompany them a short part of the way. 

'Hostess.  Prithee, honey-sweet husband, let me bring thee to Staines. /

'Pistol.  No, for my manly heart doth yearn. / Bardolph, be blithe; Nym, rouse thy vaunting veins; /

Boy, bristle thy courage up; for Falstaff he is dead, / And we must yearn therefore.'  

That's the only bit of verse in the scene, and it's verse because Pistol likes to talk in the manner of ranting old plays. [23]  He's another imitator of Marlowe's Tamburlaine, like the prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice, fond of big alliterative phrases like 'vaunting veins.' [24]  But the inflated rhetoric merely makes more abrupt what Pistol actually tells us, 'Falstaff he is dead.'  The guy's gone; he's not going to appear in the play.  True, we were told in an earlier scene that he was sick, but throughout the Henry IV plays, Falstaff had been moaning about his diseases and discomforts: they didn't stop him from joking and lying and fornicating, let alone living. [25] 


"Bardolph responds with the direct simplicity of grief and loyalty:

'Bardolf.  Would I were with him, wheresome'er he is, either in heaven or in hell.' [26]

"But that raises a frightful possibility that the Hostess quickly rejects:

'Hostess.  Nay, sure, he's not in hell; he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom.'  [27]

"You must remember that in Shakespeare's day people believed in a literal Hell, that if one died unreconciled with God, one would suffer for all eternity. [28]  This is a prospect too horrible for the Hostess to contemplate about the fate of her dear friend.  He must be in Heaven.  But there's a funny little twist in the line.  Her biblical reference is a little shaky.  She's made a mistake about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, from the Gospel of Luke:

'And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus,...desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table....And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.  The rich man also died...and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off , and Lazarus in his bosom.  (Luke 16.20-23)'

"That parable is very well known, regularly read as a Gospel lesson in church, and Abraham's bosom has thereby become a familiar phrase for Heaven. [29] ...The Hostess goes on:

'Hostess.  'A made a finer end, and went away an it had been any chrissom child.'

"Now a 'chrissom child' is a newly baptized infant.  Cleansed by baptism of Original Sin, too young to commit any sins on its own, such a child, if it died, would go straight to Heaven....The Hostess goes on:

'Hostess.  'A parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning of the tide.'

"We have here two familiar images for death, midnight and the ebb tide.  Midnight and the ebb tide occur regularly, naturally.  They are not things to be feared.  Falstaff's death is made to seem easy and gentle physically as well as spiritually.  We are consoled by such a description. [30]  ...The hostess continues:

'Hostess.  After I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers, and smile upon his fingers' end..."

Falstaff was apparently delirious, hallucinating on his deathbed.  The Elizabethans embroidered their sheets with colored thread.  Evidently Falstaff was plucking at such colored sheet-borders, perhaps imagining he was in a garden...That at least was my thought about that line, until two years ago...I got a message from my doctor, who'd heard [my] lecture.  He told me that plucking at the sheets, or at imaginary things in the air, is a symptom of patients in the later stages of alcoholic liver disease, hepatic encephalopathy.  Shakespeare is clearly drawing on some experience of watching an alcoholic die.  And since Falstaff was indeed a heavy drinker, I'm afraid my doctor's tough interpretation of the lines is far more convincing than my earlier sentimental one.  Even the Hostess knows that these gestures are a sign of the coming end.... [emphasis added]

'... I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and 'a babbled of green fields.'

"She knew that there was but one way, and the sharp nose is another clear medical sign.  Early in the history of medicine, Hippocrates and Galen recorded the apparent sharpening of the nose as a sign of approaching death.  The face seems to lose flesh so that the bone structure stands out, an effect also noticeable in cancer patients, and particularly clear when the person has been fat, as Falstaff was. [31]  As for the green fields, ...she really ought to have recognized what Falstaff was saying when he babbled of green fields:

'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. / He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:' ...

"He was trying to pray, to utter the 23rd Psalm, the great psalm of trust and faith in the Lord even at the point of death.  ...The Hostess continues:

'Hostess.  'How now, Sir John,' quoth I, 'what, man? be o' good cheer.'  So 'a cried out, 'God! God! God!' three or four times.'

"Now that to me is the most mysterious line in the Hostess' narrative.  How did Falstaff cry out 'God! God! God!'?  Was he still humbly praying?  Was it a cry of greeting -- did he imagine he saw God welcoming him into heaven?  Was it a cry of terror, as he saw an angry God, like the Christ of Michelangelo's Last Judgment, hurling the sinners down to hell?  Any of those three is possible, and we just don't know, since we are getting this account second-hand. [32]  Maybe the hostess knew, and her tone of voice [which we can't hear today!] in reporting his cry can be relied on, but we know that she's better at facts than at their implications.  Indeed, the next thing the Hostess says is really ghastly.  In response to Falstaff's cry to God, she says she replied [emphasis added]:

'Hostess.  Now I, to comfort him, bid him a' should not think of God.  I hoped there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet.'

"What terrible advice to give a dying man!  (She "knew there was but one way" [so she should have had him administered his last rites]).  And Elizabethans would recognize it as especially terrible advice.  They were experts on deathbeds....The most important moment of life was the moment of dying, because all eternity depended on it.  Dying was a public act, not conducted behind screens in a hospital, but in the family bed, with the family, the friends, and the neighbors gathered round.  And there was plenty of printed advice available on how to prepare, how to repent, how to pray, what final temptations to ward off....Francis Bacon wrote an essay, 'On Death.'  A man named Lubset wrote A Compendious and Very Fruitful Treatise Teaching the Way of Dying Well.  [Another was published in 1582 by a Marianist international conspirator and probable acquaintance of Oxford's, Robert Parsons, who] was a Jesuit priest, and naturally the advice contains some matters, such as prayer to saints and instruction on purgatory, things that Catholics accepted but Protestants rejected....And of course, contrary to what the Hostess says to Falstaff, what all these books say is that the dying person should be thinking of God, intently, continuously.  When she tells Falstaff not to trouble himself with God, most Elizabethans would be as horrified as we would be if we heard some one advising children to accept rides from strange men.  And yet, we know what the Hostess is doing.  She's a kindly woman, and she wants people to be comfortable and happy, so why trouble yourself with ugly thoughts like divine judgment? [33]  ...There's one more bit of her narrative [emphasis added]. 

'Hostess.  'A bade me lay more clothes on his feet.  I put my hand into the bed and felt them, and they were cold as any stone.  Then I felt to his knees, and so upward and upward, and all was cold...'

"Now when I first read this play in college, I had three responses to those words.  The first was a pure gut response.  I found it spooky.  The idea that the feet can be so cold, that they are dead, while the mind is still working, and the mouth can speak -- the idea that death creeps so slowly up the body, plain frightens me. 


"The second was to think, I've heard something like that before.  And indeed I had.  What I had heard, or rather read, was this:

'The man who gave him the hemlock now and then looked at his feet and legs.  After a while he pressed his foot hard, and asked if he could feel.  He said, 'No.' and then his legs, and so upward and upward, and showed us that he was cold and stiff.'

"That is Plato, in The Phaedo, describing the death of Socrates... Did Shakespeare, as he invented the death of Falstaff, happen to think of Plato's description, remember how effective it is, and just lift it?  Or does he mean something by it?" [34] 


            And Prof. Saccio continued with many more potentially valuable comments, delving into hidden material within the description of Falstaff's death.  All was consistent with Falstaff having been largely or completely based on DJ.  From my endnotes, we determine that Prof. Saccio's observations were readily applicable to the description of the progressive death of Mr. "H.W." in Willobie His Avisa, and that these were probably based on the death of DJ, and that Oxford-Sh. seems to have had a hand in bringing that about (i.e., he directed DJ's assassination), and then ruthlessly crowed about it in play after play thereafter.  So, the key to both Willobie His Avisa and the "Sh. authorship question" is the same -- Oxford's "dancing with Don Juan" which we've explored in this trilogy.    





[1] The O.E.D. defined a meaning for "willow" = "symbol of grief for unrequited love" and gave as its earliest example a 1584 line from Oxford's secretary Lyly's Sappho II iv "Peace miserable wretch, enioy thy care in couert, weare willow in thy hatte, and baies in thy hart."  I interpret this very interesting line as meaning that by covertly caring, showing sorrow in one's outward demeanor, one could still have in one's heart bay-leaves, or sprigs of the Laurel of Lorraine (= the offspring of Mary Stuart!), possibly a reference in that year to the abandonment (under English pressure upon James VI; see Section 6.A) of Mary Stuart's 1581 proposal that she share the Scottish throne with her son; essentially Mary was foredoomed.  Indeed, her 1581 proposal may have been a strategic error which caused many of her English supporters to migrate toward what I've termed "Later-day Marianism" or "Jacobean" support for James, giving-up on Mary completely. 


            Other O.E.D. citations for willow as unrequited love included: a) Merchant of Venice V i 10, "In such a night Stood Dido with a Willow in her hand Vpone the wilde sea bankes"; b) Othello IV iii 51, "Sing all a greene Willough must be my garland"; and c) contemporaries Breton 1597, and Dekker & Chettle 1603.    


[2] Avisa = Latin "a female bird"; or = the French "Avisť" "clear-sighted, shrewd, wary"; or = "a-visa" prefix for "not" before a form of the French verb "vidre" "to see"; or = "a-visa" prefix for "not" before Portuguese "aimed at."  If this book of poetry were to be shown to be by Oxford-Sh., it wouldn't be the first time that multiple meanings, in multiple languages gave a word or name multiple levels of meaning (see the names defined in Appen. H)! 


[3] The "constant dame" in Rome = Lucrece, from Sh.'s 1594 Rape of Lucrece, who was the virtuous wife of Collatinus, in 509 B.C. abducted and raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son of the 7th and last Etruscan king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus (c. 534-510 B.C.); this caused Lucrece to commit suicide rather than to bear the infamy of the crime inflicted upon her.  Lucrece has been normally interpreted as representing Queen Elizabeth, and thus Avisa has been normally interpreted as representing the Queen, the virtuous wife of England itself. 


[4] "Lost the garland of her rarest fame," disgracing or winning the "Virgin Queen" from her marriage to England. 


[5] The International Version of 1984 by the "International Bible Society"cited Proverb 12.4 in modern English as:

"A wife of noble character is her / husband's crown, /

but a disgraceful wife is like decay in / his bones."

The Oxford New English Bible of 1970 read:

"A capable wife is her husband's crown; /

one who disgraces him is like rot in his bones." 

The King James Bible of 1609 read [emphasis not added]:

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband; /

but she that maketh ashamed is a rottenness in his bones." 

And we've seen that Willobie His Avisa published in 1594 used:

"A vertuous woman is the crowne of her husband, but /

she that maketh him ashamed, is as corruption in his bones."


            The 1584 version may have been based on earlier versions such as "the Geneva Bible" or "Tynsdale's Bible."  In any case, it seems that "the crowne" vs. "a crown" was a noteworthy selection, because in 1594 "a crown" would potentially have been one of several (which might have been factual prior to Mary Stuart's execution in 1587), whereas "the crowne" clearly meant "the English Queen!"   Although "vertuous" vs. "virtuous" may seem silly or unimportant, since the suspected author likely was Edward DeVere, in this case it's excusable that it be singled-out and noted.  Though it was far from "proving" that Vere was the author, it didn't help Mr. Shakspere's chances, did it? 


[6] A naughty thought occurs, possible only because of the pattern of Sh.'s sense of humor we find repeatedly in his works, and requiring that we believe the "T.B. misprint " was deliberate.  Instead of "Dudum Beatus" for "D.B.'s" name, suppose this slight of hand was a joke on "Tudum Beatus," possibly meaning "riches of the Tudors!"  It works for me; and it fits the patently obvious courtship by Alencon, repeatedly receiving money from Elizabeth to pursue his ridiculous and ineffective campaigns against the Spanish in the Netherlands while he, in turn, bribed her ministers and much of her Court, probably with her full awareness (it did her relations with the French good to let them think the English Court was as much of a sink-hole of depravity as their own; they could much easier negotiate with that which they could fully understand)!  And we can believe that Oxford and his allies weren't too bashful to take their share.  It saved Elizabeth the trouble of rewarding her courtiers directly, cost her less overall, and she had something to hang over their heads; what a gal! 


[7] The "Epistle to the Reader" did slyly state (Harrison, 8), "...the French man under the shadow of these Letters D.B...." [emphasis added], but this was likely an insertion later than 1584 as part of the 1594 publication.  D.B. was also described as wounded with Love's dart, and "pining grief" for Avisa, but never to the deadly extent portrayed for "H.W."  Note D.B.'s last lines to Avisa (86), "Yet let your prisoner mercy see, / Least you in time a prisoner bee."  Sure it's amorous smaltz, but it does help support Chapter 12's theory that before Alencon's 2nd visit to Elizabeth ended, for his 1580/1 Tournament Oxford may have planned the killing of Leicester and taking prisoner of Queen Elizabeth, perhaps in league with Alencon. 


[8] In my opinion, all the "Prince Tudor" theories are essentially groundless, except for those based on the possibility that Thomas Seymour had made Elizabeth pregnant and she had secretly given birth in about 1549 (such as to Oxford himself, born six months into 1550), or those which suppose that she was made pregnant by Alencon and/or Simier in about 1579 to 81, yielding somebody like William Herbert, one of the two brothers to whom Sh.'s 1623 1st Folio was dedicated (I just made-up this theory myself, so don't look for it elsewhere; unless I just didn't get the word!).  Yes, the most likely person of all her amours to have impregnated her was Leicester, and yes he may have done so ("Arthur Dudley" was possibly telling the truth when he took Philip II and his ministers for a ride with a tall tale along just that theme as the 1588 Armada was about to sail).  But, for that to have happened, the mechanics of shielding the very public Queen from prying eyes and the boy from view for 20 years would have been something which Prince Tudor theorists have simply been unable to demonstrate for any 9-months period, let alone for any 20-years.  Moreover, bastards simply were not supposed to be able to inherit property, let alone crowns, even if legitimated; although they could be granted property (as DJ was granted by Charles V and titles granted by Philip II).  Henry VIII had left plenty of fairly well-known bastard sons and two legitimate daughters he declared to be bastards; but after the death of Edward VI, only the daughters had any claim to the throne, despite the declarations of Henry, because he had been legitimately married to their coronated mothers at the time each daughter was born (assuming we overlook Elizabeth's mother's marriage while Mary's mother yet lived!).  Bastards inherited only through usurpation or if there were no more-legitimate alternatives with strong enough backings to uphold their rights.  But, after 1586, James VI had an impressive following (a pretty well-documented one, in that no scholar can honestly deny it existed) and he had the most legitimate claim to the Tudor throne, from his great-grandmother's Tudor blood.  As to the theories of other bastard claimants (suggestions of Essex or Southampton), consider the chances that:

         a) even if Elizabeth was the promiscuous, incestuous strumpet that Prince Tudor theorists insist she was (1 in 4?),

         b) if any such pregnancy would have been allowed to go to term (let's say 1 in 10 of innumerable pregnancies?),

         c) if any such pregnancy would have yielded a boy (1 in 2),

         d) if any such boy would have survived the birth (about 1 in 2),

         e) if any such boy would have survived infancy (about 2 in 3),

         f) if any such boy would have been healthy and mentally sound (among the Tudors only about 3 in 4),

         g) if any such young potential claimant would have survived military trials and political assassination (1 in 100?),

         h) if any such boy would have been placed in an outstandingly nurturing environment which would have fostered those skills which a nobleman required to be able to impress potential followers (1 in 10,000),

         i) if any such young man had built a strong following without ever leaving us good evidence it existed, etc., etc.,

we're left with an essentially microscopically small improbability (try 1 in a billion!) that any pretender to Elizabeth's throne would have been genuine, even if he were to have been publicly acknowledged just to double-cross the King of Scots (which was never done).  Due to this gross improbability, "Tudor Bastard" theorists actually have had a far weaker case regarding the Sh. authorship question than have the orthodox (after all, the chances that Mr. Shakspere did acquire his education, travel, literacy, and Court contacts in the manner imagined by orthodox scholars was probably only about 1 in ten million, vs. the 1 in a billion of above!).  Only mythologizing romantics have been persuaded that the "Tudor Bastard" approach is worth taking seriously.  Still, that doesn't mean it was a 100% impossibility; miracles have happened! 


[9] Remember: DJ's heart was removed and remained buried in Belgium, while his body was returned for burial in Spain, possibly explaining the facetious ambiguity about H.W.'s death and location. 


[10] The "A." obviously stood for "Avisa," and H.W.'s seeing of her was probably seeing her portrait or "counterfeit."  In Appendix F we saw that knights-errant would swap counterfeits of their respective ladies and then joust with each other to determine through trial-by-combat which was the most beautiful and virtuous, some even switching allegiance based solely on viewing the other knight's lady of honor in her counterfeit and "confessing" that the other was more worthy than his.  As contrived as that sounds, this very activity was likely carried out by Oxford in 1575 upon encountering DJ, probably in Naples or Palermo.  And if Oxford had taken care to bring along a counterfeit of Queen Elizabeth, it would support Appendices C & G's theory that Oxford sought out (or even may have been summons by) DJ with a mission to lure him with an offer of mediating DJ's marriage to either Elizabeth or Mary Stuart (or negotiate with both!). 


[11] The next time I encounter them I really must ask my dear orthodox friends Prof. Alan Nelson, Irvin Matus, and Daphne Pearson if they honestly believe Mr. Shakspere had the permission of Anne Hathaway to repeatedly mount the affections of Queen Elizabeth?  The image of this proposition must be quite dear to their hearts!   Pity it wasn't included by Tom Stopard into his totally fictional screenplay of Shakespeare in Love.  Don't you agree that having Joseph Fiennes' "Shakespeare" do a half dozen courting scenes with Dame Judy Dench's "Queen Elizabeth" would have been grand? 


[12] The Queen's age was important.  Southampton was 20 in 1594 when Sh. dedicated RofL to him, and Queen Elizabeth was 61.  So, if we back this up to a more reasonable pre-menopausal age for the Queen of, let's say 42 in 1575, we end up with the following triangle: Oxford (Mr. W.S.) was 25 and historically had already been noted for half a decade to have been one of the Queen's romantic favorites (she admired his dancing to such an extent that Oxford's mother-in-law became incensed!  See Figure 8 and Ogburn Jr., 511), and DJ at age 28 was just about then beginning to tender his affections to the Queen (as it turned out, under the express orders of Philip II).  This was a completely credible scenario with realistic ages.  In that year Southampton was only 1 year old, but no doubt a lusty lad! 


[13] Astonishingly, "Hispalensis" was probably derived in Latin from "Hispaniensis" (= Spanish) + "lenis" (= gentle, mild) + "leonis" (= the constellation Leo, or a sly reference to DJ's alter ego of "Leo," "Manteleo," or "Lionmane"), all rolled into a rather brilliant clue as to the real identity of Mr. "H.W." 


            When Harrison, 181, naively described Willobie as "mediocre verse," he seemed to have belied his own ignorance of how deeply one must delve to fully appreciate it!  I prefer Ogburn Jr's, 736, much truer appraisal of it as: "...hundreds of six-line stanzas, fast-paced, smooth, and professional...".  I would add: "Written on multiple levels, in multiple languages (French, Latin, Spanish, Italian, as well as English), with biography mixed-in with more sinister messages which the Queen and her ministers were well-advised to heed."  If there's one consistent message to this trilogy of mine, it is that the same phrase could be applied to all of Sh.'s works.  I would argue that few intellects of that time were fully equipped to understand Willobie or Sh.'s other works; but that James of Scotland after 1584 was likely one of them! 


[14] Though Protestants have regarded the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Massacre as the worst atrocity, only about 1,500 persons were killed in Paris that night.  However, the atrocity spread out into the provinces, and despite the King's orders to his provincial officials to stop it, tens of thousands more, perhaps as many as 50,000 all told, were killed in later weeks.  Not that the body count was the whole issue, for in the case of Antwerp, Catholics as well as Protestants were slaughtered as the soldiers raped, pillaged, and killed indiscriminately, with DJ unable to control them, but getting the blame anyway.


[15] An amusing possible interpretation using English + Latin is "Willobego" = "Willow + Bago," having an astonishingly added-depth of meaning -- and a most delicious insult!  For, if "Willow" connoted an unrequited lover (or perhaps the Latin "villius" = hairy), imagine combining that with the Latin "Bagoas," meaning "a eunuch or guard in women's quarters."  If this was the intended joke from circa 1584, the still bitter Oxford was using the name "Willobego" to confine DJ's soul to a Hell where for all eternity he was to be a castrated eunuch standing at the women's quarters, about as unrequited of a "lover" as one could imagine!  What dripping irony; what genius; and how consistent with the later "Don Juan" myth of womanizing fame, even up to last century's Don Juan in Hell by George Bernard Shaw!


            However, a more defensible interpretation from O.E.D. using words still current in Sh's time would be "Wilo-Bego" = "Will-o-whisp + Begone."  This thereby describes "Henrico Willobego" as a "willy" or flighty, unreliable apparition now past tense, or deceased.  Which of course perfectly describes the course of "Avisa's" interaction with the deceptive Mr. H.W., who tried to woo her through flattery and guile only to pine away into death by the end of the long poem!  It should be noted that just the entries in O.E.D. for "will" take several pages, and several possible interpretations are afforded for the allowed truncation of "bego...," which is a similar problem one encounters in translating Latin and other Romance languages (where double entendre is created through subtle misspellings, combinations, and truncations).  Hence, this preferential interpretation is not by any means the only available one.  Yet, it is still the best one for consistency with the interactions of the two major characters in the poem, isn't it?


[16] Prof. Saccio's lectures on tape (see my Bibliography) are well-worth purchasing and listening to; one of the few advantages I have in having to make a two-hour commute to work each day.  However, he began the course with a ten minute diatribe about how Sh. was Mr. Shakspere, unfortunately saying nothing more valuable than "such an ugly name: anti-Stratfordian."  I agree about that phrase, and by and large I try instead to use "unorthodox" in honor of his sensitivities.  It is my fervent hope that a broad-minded, solid intellect such as Prof. Saccio will be able to recognize the errors of his past narrow-mindedness on the Sh. authorship issue and take steps to make amends.  Very few in orthodox circles will be capable of that paradigm shift, but something about the fluidity and freshness in his course tells me he might be one. 


[17] Prof. Saccio's "high-flown verse rich in metaphor and mythological allusion" ably defined the "euphuistic" style with which Oxford and his secretaries were associated, which was popular only in the 1570s and early 80s, and was distinctly out-of-style by the 1590s (Ogburn Jr.,696-98).  The presence of Euphuism throughout Sh.'s works is one of the features which help us to date them much earlier than orthodox scholars would like us to (see Appendix B and Hess-1999). 


[18] The "two or three plays" would be MerryW, 1Hen4, and 2Hen4, although the last two may have been combined up until about 1600.  Arguably, "Sir John Falstaff" was derived from the "Sir John Fastolfe" of 3Hen6.  Counting refs to him in Hen5,"Falstaff" and "Queen Margaret" were the only characters to appear in four Sh. plays. 


[19] Legend has it that Falstaff was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth's too, and that she specifically requested Sh. write for her a play featuring "Sir John in love," allegedly the genesis of Merry Wives.  Chapter 5 introduced the theory that "Sir John" was merely a translation of "Don Juan" and so we may transfer this genesis back to a much earlier age than the 1590s that orthodox scholars pretend it was "written."  In 1575-76 DJ, after four years of largely cooling his heels in Italy, likely had taken on temporary weight and a festive, hedonistic disposition in contrast to his legendary warlike demeanor.  The Falstaff character was modified over several decades to embody elements of Oxford's own personality as well. 


[20] By stating, "a serial character ought not to die," Prof. Saccio unwittingly hit the crux of the matter.  "Sir John" had to die, even after the audience had been promised in 2H4 that he would inhabit H5,  precisely because he was really "Don Juan!"  Indeed, Chap. 5 showed that all of Sh's plays featured DJ's presence to some extent, and some of the greatest plays (Othello, Winter's Tale, Julius Caesar, etc.) got their main thrusts from the moral disintegration and destruction of DJ-like characters, normally by Oxford-like characters.  And H5 showed that "Don Juan" could be divided into multiple characters: the hanging of Bardolph was really a proxy character for a disintegrated "Don Juan," a revenge for "the Spanish Fury," getting the justice which an Oxford/Prince Hal owed to his "old friend!" 


            As to the "appropriate sendoff" for Falstaff, unless we are to take too seriously Prof. Saccio's comparisons of Falstaff's death with that of Socrates (which might be a small part of the whole picture), an extension from which would be that it was merely a rip-off of classical literature, we must admit it was strikingly similar to the death described in Willobie for Mr. "H.W." and to the real-life October 1, 1578 death by fever or poison of DJ. 


[21] DJ couldn't be more succinctly described than Prof. Saccio's "Falstaff ": "tremendous vitality" (after the 1571 Battle of Lepanto, DJ looked like he might conquer the world!), "a man who joked and drank and schemed and fornicated" (there was no better exemplar than DJ!).  But, "saw through the public pretenses of kings and social order" was precisely why DJ had to die!  "The times were out of joint," and the bastard DJ hoped to make himself into an emperor.  "Divert and crack, rend and deracinate / The unity and married calm of states / Quite from their fixture!  O, when degree is shak'd /" (Troilus & Cressida, I iii).  DJ and Falstaff had to be sacrificed to "degree!" 


[22] The hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern, Mistress Quickly, in the two Hen4 plays was little more than a bawd, openly flirtatious with Falstaff, but here she has been given the slight respectability of Pistol's wife.  Chapter 5 proposed that "Don Juan" had been disintegrated into several characters: Falstaff's servants had included Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol, but more likely they were all extensions of DJ.  So, confining one of DJ's aspects to a married life with a bawd likely was a reflection of DJ in a semi-domesticated situation with his mistress Diana Falanga in Naples. 


[23] Again, with "the manner of ranting old plays," Prof. Saccio has hit upon the "euphuistic" style, even to the point of acknowledging that they were only to be found in "old plays" in the 1590s.  So, why was it found so often in Sh.'s plays?  Orthodox scholars pretend that Sh. was spoofing those old plays, and well he may have been.  But, it seems the spoof was likely more subtle than could have been reasonably appreciated by the "clapper-claw" public, and a bit old to be drug out so often in the 1590s and later.  It is more logical that they were written much earlier. 


[24] Again, "big alliterative phrases" and "inflated rhetoric" were hallmarks of Euphuism.  The Prince of Morocco was one of two characters in Merchant based on DJ (the other being the Neapolitan Prince), for Chapter 5 noted that DJ formed the model for all the "black-faced" characters in Sh.'s arsenal when he passed from Spain through France to the Netherlands in September 1576 in the disguise in black-face of a Moorish Slave.  Prof. Saccio could so easily compare Pistol to the Prince of Morocco because both (with Falstaff and others) were based on DJ. 


[25] Like Falstaff, Willobie's Mr. "H.W." was repeatedly described as on death's door, allegedly pining for Avisa; but he didn't stop making assaults upon her virtue and conducting the most "furious" dialogues.  In real-life, DJ was periodically stricken with malaria, and may have died in part from an associated fever.  However, that didn't stop him from simultaneously suing for Elizabeth's hand through diplomatic channels, secretly negotiating his marriage with the imprisoned Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, through his spy de Guaras (and perhaps through Oxford's allies), and very publically having an affair with Marguerite de Valois, estranged Queen of Navarre, sailing down the Meuse with her on a barge like Antony and Cleopatra!  In so many ways the theme of Willobie was repeated in Sh.'s works: "Don't trust that man, most of all don't marry that man!"  Why would that theme be used in the 1590s when the man died in 1578? 


[26] Indeed, as argued in Chapter 5, Bardolph and Falstaff were each derived from DJ, and so in short order we will find that Bardolph will be hung and therefore "with him, wheresome'er he is." 


[27] Chapter 5 noted that as "the last of the knights-errant," as a "Knight of the Golden Fleece," DJ would have dearly wished to rest in King Arthur's bosom (= rest in Avalon) upon his death, be that "either in heaven or in hell!" 


[28] But, did Sh. really believe in burning Hell?  The debate in Prince Hamlet's mind about consigning King Claudius to Heaven by killing him as he prayed was conflicted.  That Hamlet's ghost could wander the world was more pagan than Christian.  Sh. was concerned about how they lived and died more than where they went to. 


[29] Prof. Saccio's interpretation was reasonable on one level, but as we have seen repeatedly, Sh. didn't like to use one-dimensional words or phrases.  Yes, "Abraham's bosom" is a famous phrase now, but there's no mention of it in the O.E.D. which would indicate that it made it into the lay literature of the time of Sh.  Still, the O.E.D. does give us some fascinating potentially relevant information.  A "bosom" was not just somebody's chest or breast, but it was also a "cavity or recess," as in a cave.  The Oxford 1970 New English Bible avoided the issue by just placing Lazarus "with" Abraham, and the 1984 International Version referred to Lazarus at Abraham's "side."  So, it may be that the Greek original was ambiguous, might really have meant "cave," and sure enough there is a cave in Hebron called "Abraham's Tomb" which was recently defiled in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (this would certainly make the Biblical story literal and more easily understood).  In any case, despite actual translations, we're examining what the Elizabethans would have been familiar with.  Sh.'s use of "Arthur's bosom" likely was a double-meant reference to Avalon, where King Arthur was supposed to be sleeping in a cave and waiting to return someday to save England in its most dire need.  In fact, in Appendices F to H we found there was reason to believe that Oxford regarded himself, and was regarded by others, as the embodiment of a pure knight comparable to Arthur.  Then from the O.E.D. we find that the constellation Bootes and the star Arcturus were known at least as early as 1513 as "Arthur's Hufe" meaning "Haunt," and coming back again to Avalon.  Finally, it turns out that in that time, the words "Abraham" or "Abram" could be used to mean a "wandering beggar" and even could be used as corruptions of the word "auburn" or dark brown, with a citation from Coriolanus II iii 21: "Our heads are somewhat browne, some blacke, some Abram, some bald" (with a note that it was altered to "auburn" in the 1685 Folio). 


[30] Are we entirely "consoled" to hear that Falstaff may have died during the "witching hour" between midnight and one?  Of course, he may have died between noon and one in the afternoon, but there was a darker potential here! 


[31] I've worked at the NIH for many years (in computer security), and although I'm not competent to quibble with Prof. Saccio's doctor, we all know that given a number of doctors and a set of symptoms, there will be a range of diagnoses.  For example, I recently attended a lecture retro-diagnosing the death of Edgar Allen Poe as due to a widespread disorder from long inhaling of natural gas fumes, from the house-lighting of that time; earlier I had read that a panel of doctors had retro-diagnosed Poe as expiring two years after he complained of rats in his New York garret -- theoretically he contracted rabies from the rats nipping his toes at night; and of course standard biographies incline toward Poe dying of alcoholism.  The mention of cancer patients (with administered poisons called "chemotherapy") convinces me that Falstaff's diagnosis need not have focused on "alcohol poisoning" so much as on "poisoning" in general. 


            Either way, with the "sharp nose" and "babbled" we arrive at important points shared by the deaths of Falstaff and Mr. "H.W."  In Canto XLV, the first time that the Mr. "W.S." character addressed Mr. "H.W.," he said [emphasis added]:

"Well met, frend Harry, what's the cause / You looke so pale with Lented cheeks? [A] / Your wanny face & sharpened nose / Shew plaine, your mind some thing mislikes, [B]  /...".


        [A]  "Lented cheeks" meant as if he had fasted during Lent, the 40 weekdays between Ash Wednesday and Easter. 


        [B]  "Your mind some thing mislikes" likely meant troubled, feverish, and/or hallucinatory; probably babbling. 


And although we don't have a very exact description of DJ's feverish demise, we do know that he was babbling,  hallucinating, had lost weight, suffered vomiting and "fluxes" (diarrhea), and otherwise had symptoms thought then to be equally compatible with fever or poisoning.  So, Mr. "H.W." and DJ were both dying of similar symptoms described for Falstaff's death by Mr. "W.S." (or Sh.); and those symptoms were compatible with poisoning.  Though quibbles about details may occur, this statement probably can't be significantly disputed! 


[32] Prof. Saccio took a few wild flings at answering why Falstaff would have uttered "God!" three times in succession, so I will too.  The Trinity comes to mind, possibly meaning that Sh. was either a Catholic or an Anglican, but not a Puritan or an Atheist.  Then there were the last words of DJ before he died, beginning with "Teresa," perhaps evocative of Spanish "tercero" (= intermediary, mediator; or = third), "tercio" (= a third; but used in the Spanish military of the time for the army organization), or "terminal" (= terminal, final); although as noted in Chap. 5 DJ was likely acquainted with Teresa de Avila, who died in 1582 and was canonized in the next century.  Or it may be that Falstaff was avoiding the error of St. Peter, who thrice denied Christ (= "God!") before the Romans.  It may reflect Pilate's three attempts to release Christ, each time shouted down by the crowd (undoubtedly made up of Roman clients, not the general populace of "Jews").  And there was the sentencing for capital crimes, when the judge pronounced: "Hang by the neck until dead, dead, dead!"  In short, thrice repeating something significant has always been a superstitious ritual. 


[33] It occurs to me that perhaps Sh. was allowing the Hostess to represent the stereotypical "Sinner's" approach to religion so often celebrated in Morality Plays of the time: "Why think of God?  You're nowhere near to dying now."  Prince Hamlet's dilemma about killing Claudius at his prayers was along those lines: "Don't dispatch him when he's spiritually prepared; rather, catch him unawares, while he's doing something evil, like incest with his brother's wife!"  To avoid being thus tripped-up and pitched into Hell, some neurotics would perpetually chant praise to God, even while sinning. 


[34] Of course Sh. meant something by use of that description -- he wanted the whole world to know that Falstaff had been poisoned to death, just as Socrates had been!  And in Willobie, he wanted everyone to know the same sinister thing about Mr. "H.W.'s" death.  Consider this from the preamble to Canto XLIV [emphases added]:

"H.W. being sodenly infected with the contagion of a fantasticall length not able any longer to indure the burning heate of so feruent a humour...his familiar frend W.S. who not long before had...recouered of the like infection; yet finding his frend let bloud in the same vaine, he took pleasure for a tyme to see him bleed, & in steed of stopping the issue, he inlargeth the wound, with the sharpe length this Comedy was like to have growen to a Tragedy, by the weake & feeble estate that H.W. was brought vnto...brought him a plaster, if not to heale...represented the vnrewly rage...Will, set loose from Reason...".

Later, in Canto XLV, Mr. W.S. continued:

"...that workes thy woe, / And thus thy tickling fancy moue? / Thy drousie eyes, & sighes do shoe, / This new disease...that witch't thee so.../ A heauy burden wearieth one, / ...The smothered flame, too closely pent, / Burnes more extreame for want of vent. /...Attainte the hart with hotter rage, /...And cloud the sence...No reason rules, where sorrowes plant, / And folly feedes, where fury fretes...".

And similar allusions to a wasting, progressive, poisoning affliction continued throughout the dialogue dealing with the triangle of "Avisa" (universally accepted as Queen Elizabeth), Mr. "H.W.," and his advisor/afflicter Mr. "W.S." (universally accepted as Sh.). Yes, all this was couched in a context of amorous malady, but again we should never take anything Sh. has said in a one-dimensional way.  These were also clinically accurate descriptions of a poisoning, medical bleeding with leeches, and subsequent gradual expiration of a "patient" in Sh.'s own care.  Since the victim here was more than likely DJ, Oxford was describing the death (or assassination) of DJ as dispassionately and even ruthlessly as he might have in the autopsy report of an ox slaughtered from a tainted well. 



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