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" Shakespeare " Identified 

in Edward de Vere 
the Seventeenth 
Earl of Oxford 



" What a wounded name, 

"Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me." 

(Hamlet, v. 2 ) 

' Dear son of memory, great heir of fame, 
What need'st thou such weak witness for thy name ? 
Thou in our wonder and astonishment 
Hast built thyself a livelong monument." 

(MILTON, on Shakespeare.) 





THE solution to the Shakespeare problem, which it is 
the purpose of the following pages to unfold, was 
worked out whilst the Great European War was in 
progress ; and my wish was to give the matter full 
publicity immediately upon the cessation of hostilities. 
As this was found to be impracticable, steps had to 
be taken, both to ensure that the results achieved 
should not be lost, and also to safeguard what I believed 
to be my priority of discovery. With these objects, 
an announcement of the mere fact of the discovery, 
omitting all details, was made in November 1918 
to Sir Frederick Kenyon, Librarian of the British 
Museum, and he very readily undertook to receive, 
unofficially, a sealed envelope containing a statement 
on the subject. As more than a year has passed since 
the deposition was made, and as no one else has come 
forward with the same solution, the question of priority 
is not likely now to arise, and therefore, with the publi- 
cation of the present work, the purpose of the 
deposited document naturally lapses. My first duty, 
then, must be to express my deep sense of indebtedness 
to Sir Frederick Kenyon for the freedom from anxiety 
that I have enjoyed whilst further developing the 
argument and carrying through its publication. 

It was to my brother-in-law, Mr. M. Gompertz, B.A., 
Head Master of the County High School, Leytonstone, 
and to my friend Mr. W. T. Thorn that I first sub- 
mitted a statement of evidences ; and their complete 
acceptance of my solution has been the source of 
much confidence and encouragement. To them I am 
also under large obligations for practical assistance ; 
to the former specially for the revision of proofs, and 
to the latter for valuable work on the Index. 

The relationship of Mr. Cecil Palmer to the under- 
taking has been much more than that of publisher. 
When the case was laid before him he adopted its con- 


elusions with enthusiasm and made the cause his own. 
My personal obligations to him are therefore very 

One of the greatest debts I have to acknowledge is 
more impersonal : namely, to the Library of the Literary 
and Philosophical Society, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The 
unique system upon which this institution is conducted 
has rendered possible an ease and rapidity of work that 
would probably have been impossible in any other 
institution in the country. 

I have also gratefully to acknowledge indebtedness 
respecting the portraits it was important the work 
should contain : to His Majesty the King for permis- 
sion to reproduce the miniature of Sir Philip Sidney 
in \Yindsor Castle ; to His Grace the Duke of Portland, 
not only for permission to reproduce, but also for 
facilities, spontaneously and graciously offered, for 
securing a good copy of his portrait of Edward de Vere 
at Welbeck Abbey ; to the Trustees of the National 
Portrait Gallery for similar permission respecting the 
portraits of Lord Burleigh and Sir Horace Vere ; and 
to Mr. Emery Walker, F.S.A., for kindly granting the 
use of several photographs and blocks of these 

I now send forth the results of my investigations 
to face the ordeal of a public examination. Although 
I have tried to regard all schools of thought as so many 
agencies in the one cause of truth, it is too much to 
expect that, in dealing with such controversial matters, 
I have avoided hurting susceptibilities. For any 
shortcomings of this kind I throw myself on the gener- 
osity of my readers. I have no wish, however, to be 
spared fair and helpful criticism ; nor can I hope to 
escape criticism of the less kindly type : but if in the 
end I can see the truth prevail and an act of repara- 
tion done to a great Englishman, I shall be content. 

December i$th, 1919. 



PREFACE . . 5 



THE STRATFORDIAN VIEW . . . . . . . . 23 

Growing scepticism ; Ignatius Donnelly ; Anti- 
Stratfordian authorities ; " Shakespeare " and law ; 
"Shakespeare's" education; Halliwell-Phillipps ; William 
Shakspere's early life ; Shakespeare and Burns ; 
William Shakspere's three periods ; Closing period ; The 
Will ; Ben Jonson ; Hemming and Cpndell ; Penman- 
ship ; The " Shakespeare " manuscripts ; The First 
Folio ; Obituary silence ; William Shakspere's middle 
period ; No participation in publication ; Uncertain 
duration ; Uncertain habitation ; The great alibi ; 
William Shakspere's silence ; Character of contemporary 
notices; The Stratfordian impossibility; Absence of 
incidents ; No letters ; William Shakspere as actor ; 
Municipal records ; As London actor ; Accounts of 
Treasurer of Chamber ; Missing Lord Chamberlain's 
books ; Notable omissions ; Summary. 



Authorship a mystery ; A solution required ; Literary 
authorities ; " Shakespeare's " voluntary self-effacement ; 
Genius ; Maturity and masterpieces ; A modern problem ; 
The method of solution ; Stages outlined. 


Recognized genius and mysterious ; Appearance of 
eccentricity ; A man apart ; Apparent inferiority to 
requirements of the work ; An Englishman of literary 
tastes ; Dramatic interests ; A lyric poet ; Classical 
education ; Summary. 





His feudal partialities ; Aristocratic outlook ; Lan- 
castrian leanings ; Enthusiast for Italy ; Sporting 
tastes ; Music ; Negligent in money matters ; Mixed 
attitude towards woman ; Catholicism and Scepticism ; 


Choice of guide ; Narrowing the operations ; The 
point of contact ; The actual quest ; An important poem ; 
Seeking expert support ; First indications ; Dictionary 
of National Biography ; Selection justified ; Competing 


Personal traits ; Personal circumstances ; Summary 
of points attested ; Remaining points : Sport, 
Lancastrianism, Woman, Religion. 


Expert testimony j Dr. Grosart's collection j Oxford's 
early poetry ; Hidden productions ; The great literary 
transition embodied in De Vere ; Oxford's style and 
Shakespeare's ; His character in his writings. 


Six-lined stanza ; Central theme ; Personality ; 
Haggard hawk ; Lily and damask rose ; Leva's 
difficulties ; Love's penalties ; Mental distraction ; 
Interrogate ves ; Stanzas formed of similar lines ; A 
peculiar literary form ; Loss of good name ; Fortune and 
Nature ; Desire for pity ; Echo poems ; Romeo and 
Juliet ; The Lark ; Tragedy and Comedy. 





Reputation of the Earl of Oxford ; Reasons for con- 
cealment ; The shadow lifting ; Need for reinterpreta- 
tion ; False stories ; Ancestry of Edward de Vere ; 
Shakespeare and Richard II ; Shakespeare and high 
birth ; The Earls of Oxford in the Wars of the Roses ; 
Shakespeare and the Earls of Oxford ; The Great 
Chamberlain ; Father of Edward de Vere ; Shakespeare 
and Father worship ; A royal ward ; " All's well " : a 
remarkable parallel ; Education ; Arthur Golding's 
Ovid ; De Vere and law ; Life and book-learning ; The 
universities ; Relationship with the Cecils ; General 
experiences ; Dancing ; Shooting ; Horsemanship ; 
Early poetry. 


Marriage ; Sordid considerations ; Oxford and 
Burleigh ; Burleigh and literary men ; Burleigh's 
espionage ; Hostility ; Raleigh ; Desire for travel ; 
Unauthorized travel ; Visit to Italy ; Shakespeare and 
travel ; Oxford in Italy ; Domestic rupture ; An Othello 
argument; A sensational discovery; Kicking over the 
traces ; Burleigh's methods of warfare. 



Gabriel Harvey ; Holofernes ; Oxford and Berowne ; 
Philip Sidney ; Boyet j Eccentricity ; Vulgar scandal ; 
Dramatic activities ; Anthony Munday ; Agamemnon 
and Ulysses ; Troilus and Cressida ; Lyly and the Oxford 
Boys ; Shakespeare and Lyly ; Apparent inactivity ; 
Spenser and De Vere ; Spenser's " Willie " ; Shakespeare 
and " Will." 



Execution of Mary Queen of Scots and funeral of 
Philip Sidney ; Oxford and his times ; Shakespeare and 
politicians ; Mary Queen of Scots and Portia ; Spanish 
Armada and Shakespeare ; Death of Lady Oxford. 





Material difficulties ; Second marriage ; An important 
blank ; Shakespeare's method of production ; Dating 
the plays ; Rapid issue ; Dramatic reserves ; Habits 
of revision ; De Vere a precisionist ; Stage plays and 
literature ; Plays as poems ; Henry Wriothesley a 
personal link ; Contemporary parties ; Southampton, 
Bacon and De Vere ; Death of Queen Elizabeth ; The 
Boar's Head Tavern and Gadshill ; Death of De Vere. 


An unfinished task; Death's arrest; "Lear" and 
" Macbeth " ; Three periods of Shakespeare publica- 
tion ; Posthumous publications ; " Pericles " and the 
Sonnets ; " King Lear " and " Troilus " ; " Hamlet " ; 
First Folio ; William Shakspere's purchases ; William 
Shakspere's supposed retirement and Oxford's death ; 
Loyal helpers ; Henry Wriothesley ; The 1602 gap ; 
Horatio de Vere ; The second Lady Oxford ; The 
series of sonnets closes ; Summary ; A conclusive 
combination ; The substitution. 


Resume of points already treated ; Southampton 
the better angel ; W.H. and T.T. ; The poet's age ; 
Southampton and Oxford's daughter Elizabeth ; a 
significant marriage proposal ; Sentiment of the 
sonnets ; The dark lady ; Supplementary details ; The 
inventor of the Shakespearean sonnet ; An early sonnet 
by Edward de Vere ; Romeo and Juliet. 


Shakespeare's contemporaries in his plays ; The 
dramatist in his dramas ; Hamlet and destiny ; Hamlet 
a Shakespeare ; De Vere as Hamlet ; Hamlet'* father 
and mother ; Hamlet and Polonius ; Ophelia ; Horatio ; 
Patron of Drama ; Minor points ; Hamlet and his times ; 
Hamlet's dying appeal. 







A check ; The Tempest and other comedies ; Shake- 
speare's philosophy ; Quality of the play ; Dumb show and 
noise ; Un- Shakespearean details ; Wit ; A play apart ; 
Medievalism ; Woman ; Horsemanship ; Sport ; Human 
nature ; General Vocabulary ; Not " Shakespeare's " 



The " Posthumous " argument ; Oxford's Crest ; Martin 
Droeshout's engraving; The Grafton portrait. 

INDEX .. ..537 


IN discussing the authorship of the Shakespeare 
plays and poems it is necessary to guard against the 
ambiguity attaching to the name " Shakespeare." 

Following the example of the Baconians and 
Sir George Greenwood, I have spelt the word with 
an " e " in the first syllable, and an " a " in the final 
syllable " Shakespeare " when referring to the 
author, whoever he may have been ; and without 
these two letters " Shakspere " when referring to 
the person hitherto credited with the authorship. 
By the addition of the Christian name in the latter 
case, and in other ways, I have tried to accentuate 
the distinction. 

In immaterial connections the former is usually 
employed, and in quotations the spelling of the 
original is generally followed. 



As a much graver responsibility attaches to the 
publication of the following pages than is usual in 
the case of treatises on literary subjects, it is impossible 
to deal with the matter as impersonally as one might 
wish. The transference of the honour of writing 
the immortal Shakespeare dramas from one man to 
another, if definitely effected, becomes not merely 
a national or contemporary event, but a world event 
of permanent importance, destined to leave a mark 
as enduring as human literature and the human race 
itself. No one, therefore, who has a due sense of 
these things is likely to embark upon an enterprise 
of this kind in a spirit of levity or adventure ; nor 
will he feel entitled to urge convictions tending to 
bring about so momentous a change as if he were 
merely proposing some interesting thesis. However 
much the writer of a work like the present might 
wish to keep himself in the background he is bound 
to implicate himself so deeply as to stake publicly his 
reputation for sane and sober judgment, and thus to 
imperil the credit of his opinion on every other subject. 
It would therefore have been more discreet or 
diplomatic to have put forward the present argument 
tentatively at first, as a possible or probable, rather 
than an actual solution of the Shakespeare problem. 
The temptation to do this was strong, but the weight 
of the evidence collected has proved much too great 
and conclusive to permit of this being done with even 
a fair measure of justice either to the case or to my 
own honest convictions. Only one course then was 




open to me. The greater responsibility had to be 
incurred ; and therefore some remark upon the 
circumstances under which the investigations came 
to be undertaken is not only justifiable but necessary. 
For several years in succession I had been called 
upon to go through repeated courses of reading in 
one particular play of Shakespeare's, namely " The 
Merchant of Venice." This long continued familiarity 
with the contents of one play induced a peculiar sense 
of intimacy with the mind and disposition of its 
author and his outlook upon life. The personality 
which seemed to run through the pages of the drama 
I felt to be altogether out of relationship with what 
was taught of the reputed author and the ascertained 
facts of his career. For example, the Stratford 
Shakspere was untravelled, having moved from his 
native place to London when a young man, and then 
as a successful middle-aged man of business he had 
returned to Stratford to attend to his lands and houses. 
This particular play on the contrary bespoke a 
writer who knew Italy at first hand and was touched 
with the life and spirit of the country. Again the 
play suggested an author with no great respect for 
money and business methods, but rather one to whom 
material possessions would be in the nature of an 
encumbrance to be easily and lightly disposed of : 
at any rate one who was by no means of an acquisitive 
disposition. This was hardly the type of man to have 
risen from poverty to affluence by his own efforts 
when but little more than thirty years of age, nor 
was such a man likely to have been responsible for 
some of the petty money transactions recorded of the 
Stratford man. Other anomalies had forced them- 
selves upon my attention and had done much to 


undermine my faith in the orthodox view. The 
call of other interests, however, prevented my follow- 
ing up the question with any seriousness. 

A recurrence of the old doubts under new circum- 
stances led me at length to look more closely into the 
problem and to consult writers who had dealt with 
it. These convinced me that the opponents of the 
orthodox view had made good their case to this extent, 
that there was no sufficient evidence that the man 
William Shakspere had written the works with which 
he was credited, whilst there was a very strong prima 
facie presumption that he had not. Everything 
seemed to point to his being but a mask, behind 
which some great genius, for inscrutable reasons, 
had elected to work out his own destiny. I do not 
maintain that any single objection, to what for con- 
venience sake we must call the Stratfordian view, 
afforded by itself sufficient grounds for regarding it 
as untenable ; for most of these objections have been 
stoutly combated severally, by men whose opinions 
are entitled to respect. It was rather the cumulative 
effect of the many objections which, it appeared to 
me, made it impossible to adhere with any confidence 
to the old view of things, and so gave to the whole 
situation an appearance of inexplicable mystery. 

Here, then, were the greatest literary treasures of 
England, ranked by universal consent amongst the 
highest literary achievements of mankind, to all 
intents and purposes of unknown origin. The 
immediate effect of such a conviction was the sense 
of a painful hiatus in the general outlook upon the 
supreme accomplishments of humanity ; a want 
much more distressing than that which is felt about 
the authorship of writings like the Homeric poems, 


because the matter touches us more directly and 
intimately. It was impossible, I felt, to leave things 
thus, if by any means the problem could be solved 
and the gap filled up. I resolved, therefore, not- 
withstanding the extreme boldness, or rather presump- 
tion, of the undertaking to attempt a solution of the 

At the beginning it was mainly the fascination of 
an interesting enquiry that held me, and the matter 
was pursued in the spirit of simple research. As the 
case has developed, however, it has tended increasingly 
to assume the form of a serious purpose, aiming at 
a long overdue act of justice and reparation to an 
unappreciated genius who, we believe, ought now 
to be put in possession of his rightful honours ; and 
to whose memory should be accorded a gratitude 
proportionate to the benefits he has conferred upon 
mankind in general, and the lustre he has shed upon 
England in particular. 

That one who is not a recognized authority or an 
expert in literature should attempt the solution of 
a problem which has so far baffled specialists must 
doubtless appear to many as a glaring act of over- 
boldness ; whilst to pretend to have actually solved 
this most momentous of literary puzzles will seem 
to some like sheer hallucination. A little reflection 
ought, however, to convince any one that the problem 
is not, at bottom, purely literary. That is to say, 
its solution does not depend wholly upon the extent 
of the investigator's knowledge of literature nor upon 
the soundness of his literary judgment. This is 
probably why the problem has not been solved before 
now. It has been left mainly in the hands of literary 
men. whereas its solution required the application 


of methods of research which are not, strictly speaking, 
literary methods. The imperfection of my own 
literary equipment, of which I was only too conscious, 
was therefore no reason why I should not attempt 
the task ; and if the evidence collected in support of 
any proposed solution should of itself prove satis- 
factory, its validity ought not to be in any way affected 
by considerations purely personal to the investigator. 
I proceeded accordingly to form plans for searching 
for the real author of Shakespeare's plays. These 
plans were outlined before taking any step, and will 
be fully explained in due course. Personally, I have 
not the slightest doubt as to their having succeeded. 
Whether I shall be able to so present the case as to 
establish an equally strong conviction in the minds 
of others, is, of course, a vastly different matter. 
The force of a conviction is frequently due as much 
to the manner in which the evidence presents itself, 
as to the intrinsic value of the evidence. For example, 
when a theory, that we have formed from a considera- 
tion of certain facts, leads us to suppose that certain 
other facts will exist, the later discovery that the 
facts are actually in accordance with our inferences 
becomes a much stronger confirmation of our theory 
than if we had known these additional facts at the 
outset. We state this principle in matters of science 
when we affirm that the supreme test and evidence of 
the soundness of a scientific theory is its power of 
enabling us to foresee some events as a consequence 
of others. The manner, therefore, in which facts 
and ideas have been arrived at becomes itself an 
important element in the evidence ; and it is this 
consideration which has decided for me the method 
most suitable for presenting the case. 


Though it is impossible ever to carry the minds of 
others through precisely the same processes as those 
by which one's own settled beliefs have been reached, 
it has seemed to me that in this instance some attempt 
of the kind should be made in order that the reader, 
in seeing how readily newly discovered particulars 
have arranged themselves in a clear order around an 
original hypothesis, may come to feel something of 
the same certainty which these things have produced 
in my own mind. As a matter of fact, some of the 
most convincing evidence presented itself after my 
theory of the authorship had already assumed the 
form of a settled conviction, and indeed after this 
work was virtuaDy completed ; thus rendering my 
receding from the theory practically impossible. 
To others however, who might only see it in the general 
mass of accumulated evidence, it could not appeal 
with anything like the same compelling force. These 
considerations have decided me to present the case 
as far as possible in the form of a representation of 
the various stages through which the enquiry was 
pursued, the manner in which the evidence was 
collected, and the process by which an accumulating 
corroboration transformed a theory into an irresistible 

What at first blush may appear a pedantic de- 
scription of a method ought, therefore, to be viewed 
as in itself a distinctive form of evidence. I would 
ask, then, that it be regarded as such, and that 
what would otherwise be an unseemly obtrusion of 
personality be excused accordingly. 

The reader's indulgence must also be sought on 
another score. The first steps in an enquiry pursued 
according to the method I had to adopt were in- 


evitably slow, and this may import a measure of 
tediousness into the introductory stages of an exposi- 
tion following on the same lines. Yet without a 
patient attention to the various steps of the enquiry 
the unity and conclusiveness of the argument as a 
whole might be missed. Although these pages are 
addressed to the general reader rather than to literary 
scholars, I am obliged to assume a serious desire to 
discover the truth and a willingness to take some 
trouble to arrive at it. Especially must I ask for 
that concentrated individual reflection by which alone 
the various parts of the argument may be seen as a 
whole : a practice which, we are afraid, is somewhat 
alien to the purely literary mind. 

In one or two instances I have no doubt made 
use of books that are somewhat rare, the most critical 
chapter of the work, in fact, depending wholly upon a 
work, copies of which are not readily accessible to 
every one : nevertheless it will be found that nothing 
important in the argument rests upon newly un- 
earthed data. Everything has been accessible for 
years to any one who might have been on the look- 
out for the facts, and was prepared to take trouble to 
ascertain them. Even where personal judgments 
constitute important elements in the evidence, as is 
natural in enquiries of this nature, the case has been 
made to rest at almost every critical stage, not upon 
my own judgment alone, but upon the statements 
of writers of recognized standing and authority whose 
works have for some time been before the public. 
In most cases it will be found that the authorities 
quoted are writers of the Stratfordian school. Great 
as are my obligations specially to Sir George 
Greenwood's work, I have purposely refrained from 


quoting from it when I might often have done so with 
advantage to my own argument, and preferred resting 
upon the authority of writers of the opposite school. 
How completely these writers support my thesis, 
will I trust be apparent in the sequel. This being so, 
the question might reasonably be asked : how comes 
it that the discovery which is claimed has not been 
made before now ? The answer to this question is to 
be found in the history of almost all the important 
advances that man has made. The basic facts of his 
discoveries have usually been well known for some 
time before. What has been of special consequence 
has been the perception, sometimes purely accidental, 
of a relationship amongst these facts hitherto not 
noticed. Once detected, however, other facts have 
become grouped and co-ordinated by it, and the 
resultant discovery, for which mankind had probably 
waited long, appears at last so natural and obvious, 
that men wonder that it had not been thought of 
before. This may be taken as a compendium of 
human discovery generally. 

In almost every such case there has been a 
preparatory movement towards the discovery ; a 
movement in which many minds have participated ; 
and the one who has been fortunate enough to make 
the discovery has frequently been, in important 
respects, inferior to those into whose labours he has 
entered. Now, I have no doubt that Shakespearean 
study has of late years been making surely towards 
the discovery of the real author of the works. I can 
detect two distinct currents of literary interest, which, 
it seems to me, were bound ultimately to converge, and 
in their converging disclose the authorship. The 
first of these has been the tendency to put aside the 


old conception of a writer creating everything by the 
vigour of his imagination, and to regard the writings 
as reflecting the personality and experiences of their 
author. The result has been the gradual rise of a 
conception of the personality of " Shakespeare," 
differing very widely from the conventional figure : 
an outstanding expression of this tendency being 
Mr. Frank Harris's work on " The Man Shakespeare." 
The second current, only faintly perceptible as 
yet, has been slowly forcing from obscurity, into our 
knowledge of Elizabethan literature and drama, the 
name and figure of one still quite unknown to the vast 
mass of his countrymen. These two movements, 
if continued, had in them the possibility of the dis- 
covery ; though how long that discovery might have 
been deferred, no one can say. 

What I have to propose, however, is not an accidental 
discovery, but one resulting from a systematic search. 
And it is to the nature of the method, combined with 
a happy inspiration and a fortunate chance, that the 
results here described were reached. 

In presenting a thesis the strength of which must 
depend largely upon the convergence of several 
separate lines of argument, a certain amount of 
repetition of particular facts is unavoidable, and in 
this matter I have preferred to risk an unnecessary 
reiteration rather than an incomplete statement of 
any particular argument. The reason for such 
repetition it is hoped will not be overlooked. My 
object being to solve an important problem rather 
than to swell the supply of literature, all merely 
literary considerations have been kept subordinate 
to the central purpose. 

One other matter affecting the general presentation 


of the argument remains to be mentioned. As 
originally written the work contained no special 
examination of Stratfordianism, but merely incidental 
observations scattered throughout the various chapters. 
My feeling was that sufficient had already been written 
by others upon the subject ; that short of absolute 
proof of the negative, the anti-Stratfordians had 
established their case, and that what was wanted 
was not more evidence but a serious attention to what 
had already been written, and above all a reasonable 
positive hypothesis to put in the place of the old one. 
From this point of view it seemed possible to begin 
my argument at the point where others had left off. 
I was, however, advised by friends, more capable than 
myself of judging the needs of readers, to make my 
argument complete in itself, by presenting first of 
all the case for the negative view, and thus clearing the 
way for my own special investigations. This change 
of plan is bound to involve what might appear like 
wanton and pointless repetition in several instances, 
and may interfere with the unity of the constructive 
scheme of exposition. I would, however, urge the 
reader not to linger unduly over the things that are 
destined to pass away, but to press on to a considera- 
tion of those matters which, if there be truth in my 
thesis, will endure, at least so long as the English 
language is understood. 



Ex nihilo nihil fit 


IN spite of the efforts of orthodox Stratfordians to Growing 
belittle the investigations that have been made into sce P tlclsm 
the question of the authorship of the Shakespeare 
dramas ; perhaps indeed because of the very manner 
they have chosen to adopt, the number of Britons 
and Americans, to say nothing of the non-English 
speaking nationalities, who do not believe that 
William Shakspere of Stratford produced the literature 
with which he is credited is steadily on the increase. 
Outside the ranks of those who have deeply committed 
themselves in print it is indeed difficult nowadays 
to find any one in the enjoyment of a full and assured 
faith. At the same time the resort of the faithful few 
to contemptuous expressions in speaking of opponents 
is clearly indicative of uneasiness even amongst the 
most orthodox litterateurs. 

The unfortunate " cryptogram " of Ignatius 
Donnelly, whilst tending to bring the enquiry into 
disrepute with minds disposed to serious research, 
has been unable altogether to nullify the effects of 
the negative criticism with which his work opens. 



The supplementing of this by writers of the calibre 
of Lord Penzance, Judge Webb, Sir George Greenwood, 
and Professor Lefranc has raised the problem to a 
level which will not permit of its being airily dis- 
missed without thereby reflecting adversely on the 
capacity and judgment of the controversialists who 
would thus persist in giving artifice instead of 
argument. That, however, is their concern. The 
common sense of the rank and file of Shakespeare 
students, when unhampered by past committals, leads 
irresistibly towards the rejection of the old idea of 
authorship ; and only the doctors of the ancient 
literary cult hang in the rear. 

Nevertheless, much remains to be done before the 
Stratfordian hypothesis will be sufficiently moribund 
to be neglected. And although this work is addressed 
mainly to those who are either in search of a more 
reasonable hypothesis, or, having become awakened 
to a sense of the existence of the " Shakespeare 
Problem " are willing to take the trouble to examine 
impartially what has already been written by others 
on the subject, the present argument would probably 
be incomplete without a more explicit treatment 
of the Stratfordian point of view than has been given 
in the main body of the treatise. At the same time 
it is impossible to present the anti-Stratfordian 
argument completely without adding enormously 
to the bulk of the work. Moreover, as we have a 
very definite positive argument to unfold we wish to 
avoid the dangers of diverting attention from it by 
giving an unnecessary prominence to the negative 
argument so ably treated by previous writers. That 
negative argument, like its present constructive 
counterpart, is cumulative ; and, like every sound 


cumulative argument, each of these is receiving 
additional corroboration and confirmation with almost 
every new fact brought to light in respect to it. How 
much of this accumulated material it is necessary to 
present before the case can be considered amply and 
adequately stated must needs depend largely upon 
the preparedness and partialities of those addressed. 

Although the thirty years which have passed since Ignatius 
Ignatius Donnelly's work appeared have witnessed Donnell y- 
marked developments of the critical argument, the 
full force of the first hundred pages of his first volume 
has not yet been fully appreciated. To allow a 
justifiable repugnance to his " cryptogram " work 
to stand in the way of a serious examination of the 
material he has brought together from untainted 
sources, like Halliwell-Phillipps and others of 
recognized capacity and integrity, is to fall behind 
the times in the spirit of dispassionate scientific 
research. A few hours spent, therefore, in leisurely 
weighing the material contained in his opening chapters, 
notwithstanding its incompleteness, will probably 
convince most people that the Stratfordian hypothesis 
rests upon the most insecure foundations : differen- 
tiating it entirely from all other outstanding cases of 
English authorship in historic times, as for example, 
Chaucer, Spenser and Milton. The exceptional 
character of many of the facts he has collected, the 
multiplicity of the grounds for rejecting the hypothesis, 
and the general consistency of the various arguments, 
all combine to form a single justification for a negative 
attitude towards the conventional view. A mere 
repetition in these pages of what others have written 
will not add much to its force ; to spend time in 
expounding its unity is to attempt to do for others 


what any reflecting mind pretending to judge the 
case ought to do for itself. 

What is true of the case as presented by Ignatius 
stratfordian Donnelly has probably still greater force as applied 
to the work of men who have treated this problem 
in more recent years. It would be perfectly 
gratuitous to insist upon the analytical acumen of 
Lord Penzance, and therefore scarcely short of an 
impertinence to brush aside lightly his opinions 
in matters involving the weighing of evidence. 
Consequently, when such new arguments as he 
advances, and the new bearings he is able to point 
out in former arguments, are marked by the same 
unity and lead to the same general conclusions as 
those of other capable writers both before and since 
his time, we may claim that a measure of what may 
be called authoritative research has been accomplished, 
liberating subsequent investigators from repeating 
all the particulars by means of which these general 
results have been reached. In other words, a certain 
basis of authority has been established : not, of 
course, an absolute and infallible authority, but a 
relative, practical, working authority such as we are 
obliged to accept in the theoretical no less than in 
the active affairs of life. 

11 Shake- When, for example, three eminent English lawyers 

spare "and tell us that the plays of Shakespeare display an expert 
knowledge of law such as William Shakspere could 
hardly be expected to possess, it would be extreme 
folly on the part of one who is not a lawyer to spend 
himself and use up space in putting together evidence 
to prove the same point. No amount of evidence 
which he might collect would have the same value 
as the authoritative statement of these men. He 


may, if he cares to, claim that the lawyers have not 
made good their point, or he may agree with the 
general conclusion, and dispute the theory that the 
author was an active member of the legal profession. 
But if he agrees with them on the main issue he can- 
not serve his cause in any way by traversing again 
the ground that these experts have already covered. 

Again, when, in addition to these writers we have shake- 
authorities of the opposite school agreeing that the 
author of the plays possessed a first-hand knowledge 
of the classics, including a knowledge of passages 
which would not come into a schoolboy's curriculum, 
it would be affectation upon the part of a writer 
laying no claim to expert knowledge of the classics 
to restate the particulars, or attempt to add to what 
has already been said some little fragment from his 
own scanty stores. In the same way we are now 
entitled to affirm, without adducing all the evidence 
upon which it has been determined, that the author 
of "Shakespeare's" plays and poems possessed a 
knowledge of idiomatic French, and most probably 
a reading familiarity with the Italian language, such 
as William Shakspere could not have learnt at 
Stratford : and, what is perhaps of as great importance 
as anything else, he employed as the habitual vehicle 
of his mind an English of the highest educated type 
completely free from provincialism of any kind. 

The " Shakespeare Problem," we maintain, has now 
reached a stage at which such summarized results 
may be placed before readers with the assurance 
that these conclusions have behind them the sanction 
of men of unquestioned probity and capacity : thus 
relieving the modern investigator from the labour 
of repeating all the particulars from which the 




conclusions are drawn. And although these com- 
pendious dogmatic statements cannot be expected 
to convince the man who claims to have studied the 
writers we have named and yet preserved his orthodoxy 
unshaken, they will probably suffice for the average 
or the generality of mankind. Orthodox faiths, 
however, are usually intrinsically weakest when most 
vehemently asserted ; and the persistence of the 
Stratfordian faith has probably been due much less 
to its own inherent strength than to the want of a 
better to put in its place. 

Those who have had occasion to study Shake- 
spearean problems will, we believe, agree that the 
most trustworthy work for particulars respecting 
the life of William Shakspere of Stratford is Halliwell- 
Phillipps's " Outlines." Writing in 1882, six years 
before the appearance of Donnelly's work, the problem 
of Shakespearean authorship seems never to have 
touched him ; and therefore, undoubting Stratfordian 
though he was, he writes with perfect freedom and 
openness, glozing over nothing, and not shrinking 
from making admissions which some later Baconian 
or sceptic might use against the subject of his 
biography. Without wishing to imply anything 
against subsequent biographies, written in the refract- 
ing atmosphere of controversy, we may describe 
Halliwell-Phillipps's " Outlines " as the most honest 
biography of William Shakspere yet written. 



^ s th en the main root of the Shakespeare problem 
has always been the difficulty of reconciling the 
antecedents of William Shakspere (so far as they are 


known or can be reasonably inferred) with the special 
features of the literary work attributed to him, it 
ought to suffice that the contention from which most 
anti-Stratfordian argument starts is abundantly 
supported by Halliwell-Phillipps. Dirt and ignorance, 
according to this authority, were outstanding features 
of the social life of Stratford in those days and had 
stamped themselves very definitely upon the family 
life under the influence of which William Shakspere 
was reared. Father and mother alike were illiterate, 
placing their marks in lieu of signatures upon important 
legal documents : and his father's first appearance 
in the records of the village is upon the occasion of 
his being fined for having amassed a quantity of 
filth in front of his house, there being " little excuse 
for his negligence." So much for the formative 
conditions of his home life. On the other hand, so 
far as pedagogic education is concerned there is no 
vestige of evidence that William Shakspere was ever 
inside of a school for a single day : and, considering 
the illiteracy of his parents and the fact that ability 
to read and write was a condition of admission to 
the Free School at Stratford, it is obvious that there 
were serious obstacles to his obtaining even such 
inferior education as was offered by schools in small 
provincial places in those days. Respecting this 
difficulty of meeting the minimum requirements for 
admission to the school Halliwell-Phillipps remarks : 
" There were few persons living at Stratford-on-Avon 
capable of initiating him into these preparatory 
accomplishments . . . but it is as likely as not that 
the poet received his first rudiments of education 
from older boys." Later generations of schoolboys 
have preferred more exciting pastimes. 


Shkspere it is impossible to deny that the general educational 

and Burns. 

advantages of Robert Burns, including, as we must, 
the intellectual level of peasant life in Scotland in 
his day, family circumstances and character of 
parents, were altogether superior to what existed at 
Stratford and in the home of William Shakspere two 
centuries before. The following remark of Ruskin's, 
whom it is impossible to suspect of " heterodoxy," 
will therefore not be out of place at this point. 

" There are attractive qualities in Burns and 
attractive qualities in Dickens, which neither of those 
writers would have possessed, if the one had been 
educated and the other had been studying higher 
nature than that of Cockney London ; but those 
attractive qualities are not such as we should seek 
in a school of literature. If we want to teach young 
men a good manner of writing we should teach it 
from Shakespeare, not from Burns ; from Walter Scott 
and not from Dickens." ("The Two Paths.") 

This statement of Ruskin's, made without reference 
to anything controversial, furnishes a special testi- 
mony to the fact that the distinctive literary qualities 
of Shakespeare are the direct antithesis of those 
which belong to a great poetic genius, such as Burns, 
whose genius enables him to attain eminence in spite 
of homely beginnings. It is hardly possible, more- 
over, to pick up the slightest biographical sketch 
of Scotland's poet without meeting testimony to the 
same fact. The following, for example, we take 
from the first such sketch which comes to hand. 

" Burns was essentially ' one of the people ' in 
birth, breeding and instincts ... he has been taken 
more to men's bosoms than any (other) if we except, 
perhaps, the bard of Avon, whose admirers belong 


more exclusively to the educated classes." Spontaneously 
this comparison between the two poets rises in the 
mind of almost any writer who deals specially with 
either one of them, and leads always to a contrast 
upon the particular point with which we are dealing. 
Shakespeare's work if viewed without reference Shakspere 

. . , , , and books. 

to any personality would never have been taken to 
be the work of a genius who had emerged from an 
uncultured milieu. The only conditions which could 
have compensated in any degree for such initial 
disabilities as those from which William Shakspere 
suffered would have been a plentiful supply of books 
and ample facilities for a thorough study of them. 
It is generally agreed, however, that even if he 
attended school he must have had to leave at an early 
age in order to assist his father, whose circumstances 
had become straitened : and that he had to engage 
in occupations of a non-intellectual and most probably 
of a coarsening kind. And, so far from being able 
to compensate for all this by means of books the 
place is spoken of as "a bookless neighbourhood." 
" The copy of the black-letter English History . . . 
in his father's parlour, never existed out of the 
imagination." Even after his London career was 
over, and as the supposed greatest writer in England 
he retired to Stratford, the situation was probably 
no better. " Anything like a private library, even 
of the smallest dimensions, was then of the 
rarest occurrence, and that Shakespeare (William 
Shakspere) ever owned one, at any time of his life, 
is exceedingly improbable." Dr. Hall Shakspere's 
son-in-law however, possessed in 1635 what he 
called his " study of books," " which probably 
included any that had belonged to Shakespeare. If 


the latter were the case, the learned doctor did 
not consider it worth while to mention the fact." 
(Halliwell-Phillipps's " Outlines.) 

Boms and In contrast with all this take the following passages 
from the short biographical sketch already quoted, 
of the poet who, in purely educational matters, is 
placed so much below " Shakespeare." 

" When he was six years of age the poet (Burns) 
was sent to a school at Alloway Mill. . . . (Later, 
his father), in conjunction with several neighbours, 
engaged a young man, John Murdock, agreeing to 
pay him a small quarterly salary, and to lodge him 
alternately in their houses. The boys were taught 
by him reading, writing, arithmetic and grammar 
. . . Mr. Murdock left for another situation (and) 
the father undertook to teach his sons arithmetic 
by candle light in the winter evenings. . . . Burns 
went (to Murdock) one week before harvest and two 
after it to brush up his learning. . . . The first week 
was devoted to English grammar, and the other two 
to a flirtation with French. . . Burns laboured 
at this new study with such eagerness and success 
that he could, according to his brother, translate 
any ordinary prose author ; and we know that to 
the last he loved to interlard his correspondence with 
phrases from that language. And when he bethought 
himself of attempting, in later life, a dramatic com- 
position, among the books he ordered from Edinburgh 
was a copy of Moliere. . . . Besides he had read 
and digested at an early age many valuable and some 
ponderous books. His father had borrowed for his 
reading, in addition to his own scanty stock ; and 
wealthy families in Ayr, as well as humble families 
nearer home, gave him free access to what books of 


theirs he wished to read. (Amongst the books he 
read in this way were) . . . ' The Life of Hannibal,' 
' Salmon's Geographical Grammar/ ' Derham's 
Physico-Theology/ ' The Spectator,' ' Pope's Homer,' 
' Hervey's Meditations,' ' Lock's Essay on the Human 
Understanding,' and several plays of Shakespeare. 

" In his nineteenth summer he was sent to Kirkoswald 
Parish School to learn mensuration, surveying, etc. 
... In these he made good progress. . . . The 
teacher had great local fame as a mathematician . . . 
(The poet's) sojourn at Kirkoswald had much improved 
him. He had considerably extended his reading ; 
he had exercised himself in debate, and laid a firm 
foundation for fluent and correct utterance . . . For 
three or four years after this ... at Lochlea . . . 
he still extended his reading and indulged occasionally 
in verse making." (William Gunnyon : Biographical 
sketch of Robert Burns.) 

Needless to say the particulars given in this sketch The 
are not the generous inferences of modern admirers, 
but are supplied by the properly authenticated 
utterances of Burns himself, his brother, his teachers, 
and other contemporaries. Yet, with such a prepara- 
tion at a time when books had become so accessible ; 
with his quickness of apprehension, his genius, and 
his respect for the good things that books alone could 
give him, Robert Burns remains the type of un- 
cultured genius ; whilst Shakspere, whose supposed 
work has become the fountain head of cultured English, 
fixing and moulding the language more than any 
other single force, emerges from squalor and ignorance 
without leaving a trace of the process or means by 
which he accomplished the extraordinary feat. Burns 
dies at the age of thirty-seven, leaving striking evidence 


of his genius, but no masterpiece of the kind which 
comes from wide experience and matured powers. 
Shakspere, before reaching the age of thirty, is credited 
with the authorship of dramas and great poetic 
classics evincing a wide and prolonged experience 
of life. Even in such a detail as mere penmanship 
the contrast is maintained. Burns leaves us specimens 
of calligraphy which ought to have satisfied the 
exacting demands of Hamlet, and won the praise 
which the first editors of " Shakespeare's " works 
bestowed upon the author of the plays. William 
Shakspere leaves specimens of penmanship so 
malformed that Sir E. Maunde Thompson is obliged 
to suppose that before the writing of his first great 
works and during the whole of his early Stratford 
life he had had but little opportunity for exercising 
his handwriting. 

The exceptional kind of life necessary to have 
evolved a " Shakespeare " under such unhappy 
conditions would most certainly have marked him 
off from his fellows. No single record or even tradition 
of his early life is, however, suggestive of the student, 
or of a youth intellectually distinguished from those 
about him. Traditions of the oratorical flourishes 
with which as a butcher he would kill a sheep, and 
of his poaching exploits and misadventures, survive ; 
definite records of marriage under compulsion at the 
age of eighteen to a woman eight years his senior, 
and grave suggestions that on the birth of twins a 
few years later, he deserted her : these things sum 
up the record of the formative years of his life. 
After narrating the very commonplace traditions and 
records of William Shakspere's early life, Sir Walter 
Raleigh, the eminent professor of literature at Oxford, 


remarks : " It is the very vanity of scepticism to set 
all these aside in favour of a tissue of learned fancies." 
(" Shakespeare " English Men of Letters.) 


The contrast between the coarse and illiterate circum- William 
stances of his early life, and the highly cultured 
character of the work he is supposed to have produced, 
is not, however, the strongest aspect of this particular 
argument : although quite alone it is enough to have 
created serious misgivings. The compelling force 
of this argument from contrast is only fully felt when 
it is clearly realized that the career of William 
Shakspere divides naturally into three periods : not 
two. We have the opening period at Stratford 
just indicated ; we have a middle period during 
which he is supposed to have resided mainly in London 
and produced the remarkable literature to which he 
owes his fame ; and we have a closing period spent, 
like the first, in the unwholesome intellectual 
atmosphere of Stratford. And it is the existence of 
this series of three periods which furnishes the data 
for a sound scientific examination of the problem. 

The fact which, once grasped, will carry us forward The closing 
most quickly to a final settlement of this question P eriod - 
is that the closing period of his life at Stratford stands 
in as marked contrast to the supposed middle period 
in London as does the first, and under precisely the 
same aspect, but very much less explicably. The 
operation of hidden forces and agencies might partly 
account for the obscure youth, blossoming out as the 
most cultured writer of his day. But with the literary 
fame he is supposed to have won, how can we explain 


the reversion to the non-intellectual record of his 
closing Stratford period ? For it is as destitute of an 
aftermath of literary glory as the first period was 
devoid of promise. Having it is supposed by virtue 
of an immeasurable genius forced himself out of an 
unrefined and illiterate milieu into the very forefront 
of the literary and intellectual world, he ret urns whilst 
still in his prime, and probably whilst relatively still 
a young man, to his original surroundings. For the 
last eighteen years of his life he has himself described 
as " William Shakspere, of Stratford-upon-Avon " ; 
yet, with so prolonged a residence there, such 
intellectual gifts as he is supposed to have possessed, 
such force of character as would have been necessary 
to raise him in the first instance, he passes his life 
amongst a mere handful of people without leaving 
the slightest impress of his eminent powers or the 
most trifling fruits of his attainments and educational 
emancipation upon any one or anything in Stratford. 
In the busy crowded life of London it is possible to 
conceal both the defects and qualities of personality, 
and men may easily pass there for what they are not ; 
but one man of exceptional intellectual powers, 
improved by an extraordinary feat of self-culture, 
could hardly fail to leave a very strong impression 
of himself upon a small community of people, mostly 
uneducated, such as then formed the population of 
Stratford. When, then, we are told that that man 
was living at one time at the rate of 1,000 a year 
(8,000 of to-day) and Sir Sidney Lee sees nothing 
improbable in the tradition the idea that such a 
man could live in such a place, in such style, and 
leave no trace of his distinctive powers and interests 
in the records of the community is the kind of story 


which, we are convinced, practical men will refuse to 
believe once they are fairly confronted with it. 

Had he walked out of Stratford an ignorant boor Shakspcre 

. . , . and letters. 

in 1587 and returned ten years later having learnt 
nothing more during his absence than how to get 
hold of money and keep it, there is absolutely nothing 
in the records of all his affairs at Stratford that need 
have been in the slightest degree different from what 
it is. There was at least one man in Stratford who 
could write in a good style of penmanship, and he 
addressed a letter to Shakspere while in London. 
This is the only letter that has been preserved of any 
that may have been addressed to Shakspere in the 
whole course of his life, and the reader may see a 
facsimile of it in the book " Shakespeare's England." 
Its only purpose, however, is to negotiate a loan of 
30 and it contains no suggestion of any intellectual 
community between the two men. This letter re- 
appears under circumstances which would quite 
justify a suspicion that Shakspere himself had been 
unable to read it. No suggestion of its having been 
answered has been discovered, nor is there the 
faintest trace of any letter from his pen to any other 
person in Stratford. We do not mean merely that 
no autograph letter has been preserved, but there 
is no mention of any letter, no trace of a single phrase 
or word reported as having been addressed to any one 
during all these years, as a personal message from 
what we are asked to believe was the most facile pen 
in England. According to every Stratfordian 
authority he lived and worked for many years in 
London whilst directing a mass of important business 
in Stratford. Then he lived for many years in 
retirement in Stratford whilst plays from his pen 


were making their appearance in London. In all, 
he followed this divided plan of life for nearly twenty 
years (1597-1616) > a plan which, if ever in this 
world a man's affairs called for letters, must have 
entailed a large amount of correspondence, had he 
been able to write ; yet not the faintest suggestion 
of his ever having written a letter exists either in 
authentic record or in the most imaginative tradition. 
And the people who believe this still stand out for a 
monopoly of sane judgment. 

Shakspere's He returns to this " bookless neighbourhood " one 
of the most enlightened men in Christendom it 
is supposed, yet even Rumour, whose generous 
invention has created so much " biography " for 
him, has not associated his years of retirement with 
a single suggestion of a book or bookish occupations. 
Possessing, it is presumed, a mind teeming with ideas, 
and coffers overflowing, there is no suggestion of any 
enterprise in which he was interested for dispelling 
the intellectual darkness of the community in which 
he lived. Having, it is supposed, performed a great 
work in refining and elevating the drama in London, 
and having thus ready to his hands a powerful 
instrument for brightening and humanizing the social 
life of the fifteen hundred souls that at the time 
formed the population of Stratford, he is never once 
reported to have filled up his own leisure with so 
congenial an occupation as getting up a play for the 
people of Stratford or in any way interesting himself 
in the dramatic concerns of the little community: 
nor even, when plays were banned, raising his voice 
or using his pen in protest. 

On the other hand there are records of his purchas- 
ing land, houses and tithes : of his carrying on business 


as a maltster : of his money-lending transactions : 
of his prosecution of people for small debts at a time 
when according to Sir Sidney Lee his yearly income 
would be about 600 (or 4,800 in money of to-day) . 
We have particulars of his store of corn ; of his making 
an orchard ; "a well-authenticated tradition that 
he planted a mulberry tree with his own hands " ; 
but not the slightest record of anything suggestive 
of what are supposed to have been his dominating 
interests. On the contrary he appears, even in his 
choice of a home, quite regardless of those things that 
press upon the senses and sensibilities of esthetic 
natures. For in picturing his last moments Halliwell- 
Phillipps refers to " the wretched sanitary conditions 
surrounding his residence," and adds, " If truth and 
not romance is to be invoked, were the woodbine and 
sweet honeysuckle within reach of the poet's death- 
bed, their fragrance would have been neutralized by 
their vicinity to middens, fetid water-courses, mud- 
walls and piggeries." It is to this his biographer 
attributes the last illness of the great dramatist, 
rather than to conviviality. 


No relief from this kind of record is met with through The will, 
all the years of his final residence at Stratford. At 
last the end approaches. The great genius is facing 
death and making arrangements for the direction 
of his affairs when his own hand shall have been 
removed. He is evidently looking anxiously into 
the future, making the most careful provision 
for the transmission of his property through his 


daughter " Susanna Hall . . . and after her decease 
to the first sonne of her bodie . . . and to (his) heires 
males, . . . and for defalt ... to the second sonne 
and (his) heires . . . and the third sonne . . . and 
the fourth sonne . . . and the fifth sonne . . . and 
the sixth sonne . . . and the seaventh sonne . . . 
and for defalt to (his) daughter Judith, and the heires 
males of her bodie . . . and for defalt to the right 
heires of the saied William Shackspeare, for ever." 
Then he carefully disposes of his " second best bed," 
his " broad silver gilt bole," his " goodes chattels, 
leases, plate, jewels and household stuff." 
No provision Here, then, he stands dipping " into the future 

forunpub- ., , , 

Hshed plays, far as human eye can see ( for ever ) : this 
supposed author of England's most valuable spiritual 
treasures. The greater part of the works, to the 
production of which his life and genius had been 
devoted, had never yet appeared in print. According 
to the accepted view these invaluable works, which 
were to secure the fame of " William Shackspeare, 
for ever " were drifting about, scattered amongst 
actors and theatre managers ; in danger therefore 
of being permanently lost. Whilst then he was 
arranging the distribution of his wealth, it was the 
most natural thing in the world that his mind should 
have turned to these important productions and that 
some part of his wealth should have been set aside 
to ensure the publication of his dramas. With his 
name and fame there was little fear but what the 
publishing venture could be made to succeed, and 
that the possible grandchildren, whose interests he 
was considering so carefully, would have gained rather 
than lost by his providing for the publication. From 
the first word of this will to the last, however, there 


is nothing which suggests that the testator ever had 
an interest either in the sixteen plays that had already 
appeared in print or in the twenty that had yet to 
be published or in anything else of a literary nature : 
a perfectly appropriate end to the whole series of 
the Stratford records of him, from the day of his 
baptism to the day of his death, but in flat contradic- 
tion to the supposition that the greatest achievement 
of his life had been the production of those immortal 
dramas beside which his lands and houses become 
of insignificant value. 

Any supposition that he had already provided 
for the publication of the dramas is contradicted by 
the manner in which these works were published in 
the First Folio edition of 1623. Hardly any terms 
of reproof could be too severe for a writer who with 
a knowledge of the introductory pieces of the First 
Folio edition should maintain that that work appeared 
as a result of previous arrangements made by William 
Shakspere of Stratford. And this fact taken along 
with the total absence of any mention in his will of 
the unpublished documents ought many years ago 
to have disposed of the idea that he was their author. 
The disappearance of the manuscripts themselves, 
combined with the absence of any mention of them 
in the will, has given rise to an almost insistent demand 
for a " Shakespeare " manuscript, and of this Sir E. 
Maunde Thompson's book on the subject is but the 
outward and visible sign. For no third rate writer 
passing the closing years of his life in destitution 
could have been more completely dissociated from 
his own literary products than was this the supposed 
greatest writer in England as he passed the last years 
of his life in leisure and affluence. 


Heminge One entry alone in the will connects the testator 

and Condell. ... ,. T , 

with his London career as actor, however, not as 
dramatist. He left to his " fellowes " Heminge, 
Burbage, and Condell i 6s. 8d. each, to buy rings. 
Halliwell-Phillipps in reproducing the will gives in 
italics the parts which had not been in the will at first, 
but which were subsequently interlined : and this 
bequest to his " fellowes " is one of the interlineations. 
Like his wife, to whom he left his " second best bed," 
the actors with whom he had been associated only 
came in as an afterthought, if not as a result of direct 
suggestion from other quarters. This is the connection 
which was put to service in publishing the First Folio 
edition of " Shakespeare's " works, resulting in what 
has been recognized as a purely fictitious claim for 
the responsibility for the publication on the part of 
the two survivors. Albeit no one, not even Ben 
Jonson, whose part in the publication has been made 
so much of, ventured to suggest that he had been 
entrusted by the reputed author with the publication 
of the works. If such a task had been entrusted to 
them it is inconceivable that they should have omitted 
to mention the fact. They assert, however, that out 
of regard for his memory they had, on their own 
initiative, gathered together the manuscripts of the 
plays and published them. They, moreover, so 
bungle their account with inconsistencies that Sir 
Sidney Lee admits the inaccuracy of their story. 
" John Heming and Henry Condell," he says, " were 
nominally responsible for the venture, but it seems 
to have been suggested by (others) . . . the two 
actors made pretensions to a larger responsibility 
than they really incurred, but their motives . . . 
were doubtless irreproachable." To this false 


pretension, be it observed, " honest Ben Jonson " 
was party. The camouflage was, of course, as 
legitimate as any other method of concealing author- 
ship : but when it is urged that Ben was too honest 
deliberately to deceive the public, we can only answer 
that the fact is there and cannot be gainsaid. We 
may also add, what cannot be said of all those who 
would use Ben's name to prop up Stratfordianism, 
that Ben was a humorist. His motives also, like 
Heminge's and Condell's, " were doubtless irreproach- 
able." The point that matters here, however, is 
that the manner of the publication places beyond 
doubt the fact that William Shakspere of Stratford 
had made no arrangement for it. The entire absence 
of any mention either of his executors or a single 
member of his much-cared-for family amongst the ten 
names appearing in connection with the publication, 
reveals the same completely negative relationship of 
everything Stratfordian towards the Shakespearean 

Seeing that mention has been made of Ben Jonson, NO memento 
the forlorn hope of the Stratfordians, it is remarkable, ?? r 

Ben Jonson. 

or rather it would have been astounding, if there had 
been any truth in Stratfordianism, that the only 
literary contemporary of Shakspere's with whom the 
latter is supposed to have been on intimate terms, 
the kindred spirit who, accompanied by Drayton, is 
supposed to have paid the one visit that relieved 
the intellectual isolation of his self-imposed exile 
with fatal results, however, for the tradition is that 
Shakspere drank to excess and died in consequence 
this boon comrade and kindred wit, has no mention 
whatever in a will bequeathing a number of memorial 
rings and other mementos to friends. 


In addition to the bequests to his family and what 
is probably remuneration to the two overseers of 
the will, he leaves his sword to Mr. Thomas Combe, 
and money to buy memorial rings is left to Hamlett 
Sadler, William Raynolds, John Hemynges, Richard 
Burbage and Henry Condell. Every one of these 
bequests of memorial rings appears, however, as an 
interpolation into the will : as an afterthought at 
best. But even in his afterthoughts dear old Ben 
has no place. We are assured that these interlinea- 
tions would be made during his last illness. At any 
rate they must have been made during the last three 
months of his life, for the original document bears 
the date January 25th, 1616. " January " is then 
struck out and " March " substituted, so that altera- 
tions were being made up to within a month of his 
death. Surely, then, if there is any shred of truth 
in these traditions, Ben Jonson would be in his mind 
at the time. 

shakspere Another tradition has it that Shakspere was god- 
reTmed father to Ben's son, and even traditional particulars 
godson. of friendly repartee on the subject have been preserved. 
Amongst the bequests, however, is one of twenty 
shillings to a godson named William Walker, but 
no mention whatever is made of the other godson, 
Ben's boy. Obviously Ben Jonson and his son, the 
reputed literary comrade and godson, respectively, 
of the great poet dramatist, counted for nothing 
in the eyes of William Shakspere ; and the St-rat- 
fordianism that rests upon a belief in the personal 
intimacy of the two men is quite out of touch with 
realities : precisely the same absence of " reality " 
which marks Jonson's facetious tribute to " Shakes- 
peare " in the now famous lines which face the so- 


called portrait of " Shakespeare " in the First Folio 
edition of the plays. 

If, then, there be any truth in the tradition of 
Jonson's visit to William Shakspere just before the 
latter's death, it quite bears the appearance, in view 
of the respective parts which Jonson, Heminge, and 
Condell played in the publication of the First Folio 
edition, of having had something to do with the 
projected publication : the interlineation of the 
actor's names into a will that had already been drawn 
up being possibly one of the results of the visit. The 
non-appearance of Jonson's own name in the will 
was, under this assumption, a serious defect in the 
arrangement : the principals were evidently not 
experts at subterfuge. It was the loss of the last 
chance of bringing into the Stratford records of 
William Shakspere anything or any one connected 
with contemporary literature : a loss which all Jonson's 
efforts years after Shakspere's death could not make 
good. The respective roles which Ben Jonson and 
William Shakspere had to play in this final comedy 
had evidently been badly adjusted. 

The actual part played by Jonson in this business 
hardly comes within the province of the present stage 
of our argument. The important fact is that there 
was subterfuge in the manner of publishing the First 
Folio edition, and to this subterfuge Ben Jonson was 
a party. There are substantial reasons for believing 
that the introduction signed by the actors Heming and 
Condell was Jonson's own composition. The general 
inconsequence of his attitude has been exposed by 
Sir George Greenwood ; and any argument based 
upon an assumed literal historic accuracy and un- 
ambiguity of Jonson's statements has no lows standi; 



A bookless 



the literal applicability to William Shakspere of 
those statements being refuted by Shakspere's own 

The significance of the omission from the will of 
all mention of books, still further strengthened by 
Dr. Hall's silence respecting any books of Shakspere's 
that had passed into his possession, confirms the 
impression that William Shakspere had never owned 
any ; notwithstanding the fact already pointed out 
that only by an unusual resort to books could he 
have made up for his initial disadvantages. 

Turning finally to the actual text of the will as 
a ^ terarv document, the question naturally arises 
as to traces of " Shakespeare's " craftsmanship. 
" Shakespeare's " knowledge of law and interest in 
its subtleties and technique makes it impossible to 
suppose that such a document could have been 
executed on his behalf without his participation in 
its composition. Yet the entire document is just 
such as a lawyer, in the ordinary way of business, 
would have drawn up for any other man. The only 
part in which the personality of the testator might 
have been exposed is the opening passage, which is 
as follows : 

" In the name of God, amen ! I, William 
Shackspeare, of Stratford upon Avon, in the county 
of Warr. gent, in perfect health and memorie, God 
be praysed, doe make and ordayne this my last will 
and testament in manner and forme followeing, that 
ys to saye, First, I comend my soule into the handes 
of God my Creator, hoping and assuredlie beleeving, 
through thonelie merittes of Jesus Christe my Saviour, 
to be made partaker of lyfe everlastinge, and my 
bodie to the earth whereof yt ys made." 


The remainder is purely business. 

From the first word of this document to the last 
there is not the faintest trace either of the intellect 
or of the literary style of the man who wrote the 
great dramas. 

Needless to say the penmanship of the will is the shakspere's 
work of the professional lawyers ; but at the end P enmanshl P- 
we meet the only instance on record of his ever having 
put his pen to paper in Stratford. For all these years 
he had lived in Stratford, buying and selling, lending 
money, prosecuting debtors, dealing in single transac- 
tions involving the turnover of sums of money 
equivalent to thousands of pounds in modern values, 
resulting in the preservation of ,the signatures or 
" marks " of people with whom he dealt, but no 
single signature of Shakspere in connection with 
these Stratford dealings has ever been unearthed. 
Not until we come to the signing of his will, in the 
last year of his life, do we meet with an example of 
his penmanship in his Stratford records. He signed 
his will. There are three signatures, each on a separate 
page of the document ; and, with the exception of 
part of one of them, they constitute probably as 
striking a freak in handwriting as can be found any- 
where. Sir E. Maunde Thompson, whose work on 
" Shakespeare's Penmanship " testifies abundantly 
to his faith in the Stratford man, admits that if 
these three signatures had appeared on separate 
documents we should have been justified in supposing 
that they were written by three different hands. 
With the one exception, of which we shall presently 
treat, the whole of the work is so wretchedly executed 
that it might well be taken for the work of a child 
trying to copy writing of which he had only an im- 


perfect appreciation. It is most like the effort of 
an illiterate man who had attempted to learn how to 
write his own name, and had not wholly succeeded, 
but who was struggling through the process, probably 
with a copy in front of him. 

Writing So outrageous is it to suppose that this is the normal 

experts. handwriting of the great dramatist that recent 
apologists have suggested the explanation that in 
his later years he suffered from paralysis : ignoring 
the fact that the opening words of his will are an 
assertion of his " perfect health and memory," 
and the further fact that though he managed to 
produce some kind of signature whilst afflicted with 
paralysis, he seems to have produced none at all 
without the affliction. Paralysis had evidently been 
good for him. Sir E. Maunde Thompson does not, 
however, propound the paralysis theory ; and with 
very good reason : for the exceptional part, to which 
reference has already been made, could not possibly 
have been done by any one so afflicted. This part 
consists of three words, " By me William," which 
precede the name " Shakspeare " in the principal 
signature to the will. Here we have a single example 
of expert penmanship standing in such overwhelming 
contrast to all the other Shakspere writing as to be 
most perturbing to the orthodox Stratfordian. 

To admit frankly that the words " By me William " 
were not written by the same hand that wrote the 
rest of the signature and signatures would be to send 
the whole structure of Stratfordianism toppling into 
chaos. Sir E. Maunde Thompson's theory is that 
the testator was very ill at the time, that he began 
the writing in a moment of temporary revival and 
fell off when he came to the writing of " Shakspeare." 


Not only is the contrast between the two parts of the 
one signature too great for such an explanation, but 
the contrast is just as great between this particular 
piece of expert penmanship and the whole of the 
remainder. This is a point, however, in which mere 
discussion can do little. Photograph'c reproduc- 
tions of these signatures may be seen in Sir Sidney 
Lee's " Life of William Shakespeare " ; in Sir E. 
Maunde Thompson's " Shakespeare's Penmanship " ; 
in Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence's " Bacon is 
Shakespeare " ; and in " Shakespeare's England " ; 
and the most casual examination of them will convince 
any one, we believe, that the contrast agrees more 
readily with the theory that there were at least two 
hands at work upon these signatures than with any 
other theory. This does not, of course, prove that 
there were actually two hands at work; for the 
writers just named, with one exception, would 
naturally refuse their assent to such an inference, 
notwithstanding the suspicious a] pearances. 

One other point must be mentioned in connection Missing 
with these will signatures. Halliwell-Phillipps indicates S1 g natures - 
that in the first draft of the will, arrangements were 
made only for Shakspere's " seal " : not for his 
signature at all. The word " seal " was afterwards 
struck out and " hand " substituted. By itself this 
might not have counted for much ; but, taken in 
conjunction with the fact that on no previous Stratford 
document had a signature appeared, considerable 
colour is given to the supposition that the lawyers 
who prepared his documents were not accustomed 
to his signing them. Considering, too, the looseness 
of the times with respect to wills a looseness to 
which the various uninitialled erasures and inter- 


lineations of this will bear testimony along with 
the peculiar character of the signatures when at last 
they appeared, the whole of this " signature " work 
might easily have been done after the document had 
passed quite out of the lawyer's hands ; there being 
no witnesses to the signatures. 

" With rsgard to the erasures and interlineations, 
a few may have been the work of the scrivener . . . 
but some are obviously the result of the testator's 
subsequent personal directions. ... In those days 
there was so much laxity in everything connected 
with testamentary formalities that no inconvenience 
would have arisen from such expedients. No one, 
excepting in subsequent litigation, would ever have 
dreamt of asking . . any questions at all. The 
officials thought nothing of admitting to probate a mere 
copy of a will that was destitute of the signatures 
both of testator and witnesses." (Halliwell-Phillipps). 
other Although not actually written at Stratford there 

ijnatures. are three other Shakspere signatures which belong 
to his closing Stratford period. The first of these 
was written in London in 1612, and the other two 
in connection with his purchase of the Blackfriars 
property in 1613 : so that no stroke from his pen has 
been unearthed prior to the close of his supposed 
literary period. Of the first, Sir E. Maunde Thompson 
says that it is clearly the work of an able penman. 
Of the second he says that it might be taken for the 
work of an uncultivated man : this he attributes to 
nervousness. The third is done in a style so entirely 
different from the others that he considers it useless 
for the purpose of expert examination of hand- 
writing : this he seems disposed to attribute to " wilful 
perversity." Although, then, he does not actually 


assert that they might be taken for the work of three 
different writers, his remarks are tantamount to this. 
And so we may sum up the whole of the writing that 
has come to us from the hand of one who is supposed 
to have been the greatest of our English writers. 
All we have are six signatures in no way connected 
with any literary matter. All these were executed in 
the last years of his life, after his great literary tasks 
were finished ; and are so written that, when examined 
by our leading expert on the subject, who is quite 
orthodox in his views of authorship, they look as 
if they might have been the work of six different 
men. At the same time there is amongst this writing 
some that appears like the effort of an uneducated 
person, and only one signature (1612) of any real 
value for the study of penmanship. To this we would 
add as an unshakable personal conviction, supported 
by the opinions of many to whose judgement we have 
appealed, that the signatures bear witness to his having 
had the assistance of others in the act of signing his 
own name. The general conclusion to which these 
signatures point is that William Shakspere was not 
an adept at handling a pen, and that he had the 
help of others in trying to conceal the fact. 

As a last remark on the question of penmanship An important 
we must point out the absence of an important om 
signature. The actual deed of purchase of the Black- 
friars property : a document which was formerly 
in the possession of Halliwell-Phillipps but is now in 
America, although the most important of the three 
documents concerned in the transaction, has only 
Shakspere's " seal," not his " hand." In other words 
his own part was just such as might have been 
performed by a completely illiterate man accustomed 


to place his " mark " on documents ; just as his 
father and mother had done, and as his daughter 
Judith continued to do. It is upon what Halliwell- 
Phillipps calls a duplicate of this document, now in 
the Guildhall Library, that there appears the signature 
which Sir E. Maunde Thompson says might have 
been the work of an uneducated man : a signature 
which looks to the ordinary reader as if it had been 
finished by another hand. The " wilful perversity " 
signature is on the mortgage deed, now in the British 
Museum, and is to any one but a Stratfordian quite 
evidently a connived forgery. 

The Stratford Viewing then the three periods of William 
Shakspere's career in their relation to one another 
we have an opening and a closing period which are 
perfectly homogeneous in the completely negative 
aspect they present to all literary considerations. 
Between them we have an intermediate period by 
which there is attributed to him the greatest works 
in English literature. The two extreme and homo- 
geneous periods belong to his residence in one place, 
quite in keeping with his own non-literary records 
whilst residing there. The intermediate period, with 
which we shall presently deal specially, stands in 
marked and unprecedented contrast to its extremes, 
and was lived in quite another part of the country. 
With our present-day conveniences, news agencies 
and means of communication, it is perhaps impossible 
for us to realize how remote Stratford was from 
London in the days of Queen Elizabeth. We are 
quite entitled to claim, however, that their separateness, 
so far as intercourse is concerned, was in keeping 
with the role that William Shakspere was called upon 
to play. 


So far as the transition from stage to stage is 
concerned, few would deny that if the William 
Shakspere who had been brought up at Stratford, 
who was forced into a marriage at the age of eighteen 
with a woman eight years his senior, and who on the 
birth of twins deserted his wife, produced at the age 
of twenty-nine a lengthy and elaborate poem in the 
most polished English of the period, evincing a large 
and accurate knowledge of the classics, and later the 
superb Shakespearean dramas, he accomplished one 
of the greatest if not actually the greatest work of 
self-development and self-realization that genius has 
ever enabled any man to perform. On the other 
hand, if, after having performed so miraculous a work, 
this same genius retired to Stratford to devote himself 
to houses, lands, orchards, money and malt, leaving 
no traces of a single intellectual or literary interest, 
he achieved without a doubt the greatest work of 
self-stultification in the annals of mankind. It is 
difficult to believe that with such a beginning he 
could have attained to such heights as he is supposed 
to have done ; it is more difficult to believe that with 
such glorious achievements in his middle period he 
could have fallen to the level of his closing period ; 
and in time it will be fully recognized that it is 
impossible to believe that the same man could have 
accomplished two such stupendous and mutually 
nullifying feats. Briefly, the first and last periods 
at Stratford are too much in harmony with one another, 
and too antagonistic to the supposed middle period 
for all three to be credible. The situation represented 
by the whole stands altogether outside general human 
experience. The perfect unity of the two extremes 
justifies the conclusion that the middle period is an 


illusion : in other words William Shakspere did not 
write the plays attributed to him. To parody the 
dictum of Hume in another connection, it is contrary 
to experience that such things should happen, but 
not contrary to experience that testimony, even the 
testimony of rare and honest Ben Jonson, should 
be false. The question of culpability we leave to 
ethical absolutists. 

Obituary The circumstances attending the death of Shakspere 

are quite in keeping with all that is known and un- 
known of his closing period. The supposed poet- 
actor, the greatest of his race, passed away in affluence 
but without any contemporary notice. Spenser, his 
great poet contemporary, "a ruined and broken- 
hearted man," dying, as Jonson said, " for lack of 
bread," was nevertheless " buried in Westminster 
Abbey near the grave of Chaucer, and his funeral 
was at the charge of the Earl of Essex." (Dean Church.) 
Burbage, his great actor contemporary, died about 
the same time as the Queen (wife of James I), March 
1618-9, and " sorrow for his loss seems to have made 
men forget to show the sorrow due to a Queen's death. 
The city and the stage were clothed in gloom . . . 
Men poured forth their mourning . . . (and) a touch- 
ing tribute to his charm came from the pen of 
the great Lord Pembroke himself." (Mrs. Stopes : 
Burbage). The death of William Shakspere passed 
quite unnoticed by the nation. No fellow poet poured 
forth mourning. The Earl of Southampton whom 
he is supposed to have immortalized showed no interest. 
For seven years, except for his mysterious " Stratford 
monument," he remained " unwept, unhonoured and 
unsung." Mrs. Stopes attributes this neglect to his 
retirement : which supports the view we are now urging, 


that his retirement involved a severance of such literary 

and dramatic ties as he might have had. At last the 

silence is broken. The first tribute to his memory 

comes from the pen of Ben Jonson, who many years first tnbut - 

later writes of having " loved the man, on this side 

idolatry as much as any." For seven years, we must 

suppose, had grief for the loss of so matchless a friend 

been hidden in his soul. Then a great occasion 

presents itself. The collected works of his idol are 

to be published and Ben is invited to furnish the 

opening words of the historic volume. Now must 

his long pent-up grief find its fitting expression. Yet 

these are his words : 

" This figure that them here seest put 
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut ; 
Wherein the graver had a strife 
With Nature, to out-do the life : 
O could he but have drawn his wit 
As well in brass, as he hath hit 
His face ; the print would then surpass 
All, that was ever writ in brass. 
But, since he cannot, Reader look 
Not on his picture, but his book." 

These words are addressed " To the Reader " ; 
and the reader who can discover a trace of genuine 
affection, grief, or "idolatry" in these lines possesses 
a faculty to which the present writer lays no claim. 
From such obituary idolatry who would not wish to 
be preserved. Sir George Greenwood's view that 
Jonson had two different people in his mind when he 
spoke of " Shakespeare " seems the most feasible. We 
shall not plunge into the discussion of what Ben may 
or may not have meant by the above lines ; but as the 
first printed reference to a departed genius who was 
also the object of intense personal affection the words 
are a palpable mockery. Yet the later and much 


belated references of Jonson to " Shakespeare " forms 
the last ditch of Stratfordianism. 


duration of 
the period. 

We come now to William Shakspere's middle period. 
Sandwiched in between two inglorious Stratford 
periods, what are the actual facts of his London career 
in reference to the works which have made him 
famous ? It is not as an actor, nor as a stage or 
theatre manager the latter being a purely hypo- 
thetical vocation nor even as a writer of plays for 
the contemporary stage, but as the author of literary 
works that he has won renown. As such, Sir Sidney 
Lee assures us that he had no hand in the publication 
of any of the plays attributed to him, but " un- 
complainingly submitted to the wholesale piracy of 
his plays and the ascription to him of books by other 
hands." The absence of all participation in the 
publication of plays which, as literature, have im- 
mortalized his name, is certainly a huge gap in his 
literary records to begin with. 

Again, although it has been found necessary to 
ascribe the first composition of plays to the years 
1590-1592 otherwise time could not have been 
found for their production the first of the series was 
not published until 1597, nor any with " Shakespeare's " 
name attached until 1598. Before that time, how- 
ever, New Place, Stratford, had become William 
Shakspere's established residence. 

" There is no doubt that New Place (Stratford) 
was henceforward (from 1597) to be accepted as his 
established residence. Early in the following year, 


on February the 4th, 1598, he is returned as the holder 
of ten quarters of corn in the Chapel Street ward, that 
in which the newly-acquired property was situated, 
and in future indentures he is never described as a 
Londoner, but always as William Shakespeare of 
Stratford-on-Avon." (Halliwell-Phillipps.) 

Thenceforward his land, property and tithes 
purchases, along with the fact that in 1604 he takes 
legal action to enforce payment of a debt for malt 
which he had been supplying for some months past, 
are circumstances much more suggestive of permanent 
residence in Stratford, with an occasional visit maybe 
to London, than of permanent residence in London, 
with occasional trips to Stratford. The duration of 
this middle period is therefore most uncertain. Even 
on the assumption that he was the author of the plays, 
authorities differ by at least eight years respecting 
the date at which it closed (1604-1612) ; and when 
the date furnished by that assumption is rejected, as 
it must be in an enquiry like the present, the margin 
of uncertainty becomes considerably enlarged. The 
absence of definite information respecting the limits 
of this London period is certainly another serious 
omission from the records. 

" Of the incidents of his life in London," Professor Absence of 
Sir Walter Raleigh tells us, " nothing is known." incidents. 
He lodged at one time in Bishopsgate and, later on, in 
Southwark. We know this, not because lords and 
ladies in their coaches drove up to the door of the 
famous man, nor because of anything else which 
could be called a personal " incident," but because 
he was a defaultant taxpayer (for two amounts of 
55. and 135. 4d. respectively) for whom the authorities 
were searching in 1598, ignorant of the fact that he 


had moved, some years before, from Bishopsgate to 
Southwark. Evidently, then, he was not at that 
time living in the public eye and mixing freely in 
dramatic and literary circles. Sir Sidney Lee tells 
us that Shakspere " with great magnanimity, ultimately 
paid " the money. If the claimant had been a private 
individual there might have been generosity in paying 
an account which could not legally be enforced ; 
but it is not easy to associate " magnanimity " with 
the paying of taxes. We must suppose then that 
either the money was due or was paid to save trouble. 
If the money were due then William Shakspere had 
been trying to defraud : if the money were not due 
one is a little curious to know what special in- 
conveniences could have arisen from his contesting 
the claim. Every record we have of him proves that 
he was not the kind of man to submit to an illegal 
exaction without very substantial reasons. The 
point is a small one by itself : in connection with the 
general mysteriousness of his London movements, 
however, it has its proper significance. 

The absence of precise information respecting the 
actual location, period and form of his established 
residence in London is yet another of the great gaps 
in the record. 

Chrono- From the time when he was described as William 

ccSfusion Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon (1597) there is no 
proof that he was anywhere domiciled in London, 
whilst the proofs of his domiciliation in Stratford 
from this time forward are irrefutable and continuous. 
Clearly our conceptions of his residency in London 
are in need of complete revision. It would appear 
that an attempt has been made to construct a London 
career for him out of materials furnished by the 


meagre particulars known of his actual life combined 
with the necessities of the assumed authorship, and 
from this material it has not been possible to form a 
consistent picture. In order to bring out this fact 
more clearly we shall place together two sentences 
from Halliwell-Phillipps's " Outlines." 

" It was not till the year 1597 that Shakespeare's 
public reputation as a dramatist was sufficiently 
established for the booksellers to be anxious to secure 
the copyright of his plays." 

" In the spring of this year (1597) the poet made 
his first investment in reality by the purchase of 
New Place . . . (which) was henceforward to be 
accepted as his residence." 

We are consequently faced with this peculiar uncertain 
situation that what has been regarded as the period h a bitati n 
of his highest fame in London, began at the same 
time as his formal retirement to Stratford ; and 
whilst there is undoubted mystery connected with 
his place or places of abode in London-, there is none 
connected with his residence in Stratford. A curious 
fact in this connection is that the only letter that is 
known to have been addressed to him in the whole 
course of his life was one from a native of Stratford 
addressed to him in London, which appears amongst 
the records of the Stratford Corporation, and which 
" was no doubt forwarded by hand (to Shakspere 
whilst in London) otherwise the locality of resi- 
dence would have been added " (Halliwell-Phillipps). 
Evidently his fellow townsmen who wished to com- 
municate with him in London were unaware of his 
residence there ; and the fact that this letter was 
discovered amongst the archives of the Stratford 
Corporation suggests that it had never reached the 


addressee. It also permits of the alternative 
supposition, already mentioned, that having received 
it he was nevertheless unable to read it (notwith- 
standing the superior quality of its penmanship) and 
was obliged to forward it to his lawyer in Stratford, 
who resided in Shakspere's house there. At all events 
the only letter known to have been addressed to him 
in the whole course of his life adds to the mysteriousness 
of his lodging in London, 
shrinkage Altogether our efforts to come to close grips with 
tne P er iod of his greatest fame, on the solid ground 
of authenticated fact, have yielded most unsatis- 
factory results. We have no positive knowledge of 
his being in London before 1592: the year of Greene's 
attack, in which he is accused of beautifying himself 
in the feathers of others, along with an innuendo 
suggesting that he was an uncultivated man, a " rude 
groome " and a " usurer." And we have no record 
of actual residence in London after 1596, when "accord- 
ing to a memorandum by Alleyn he lodged near the 
Bear Garden in Southwark." Tfcis is precisely the 
time at which his father, who resided at Stratford, 
acting, it is generally agreed, upon William Shakspere's 
initiative, made his first attempt to obtain a coat of 
arms on false pretences. The following year saw his 
purchase of New Place, Stratford, and as, in the next 
year, he is returned as one of the largest holders of 
corn in Stratford, everything points to this being 
the actual time at which he established himself in 
his native town if we may so dignify the Stratford 
of that day. The definitely assured London period 
appears then to be shrinking from twenty to a mere 
matter of four years (1592-1596), during which there 
is not a single record of his personal activities beyond 


the appearance of his name in a list of actors, but 
evidently much mystery as to his actual whereabouts. 
The literary references to the poems we shall treat 
separately. It was in this period that " Venus " and 
"Lucrece" appeared (1593 and 1594 respectively), 
and it was in this period that the great man who 
was supposed to have produced these famous poems 
eluded the vigilance of the tax gatherer. 

" The Bishopsgate levy of October 1596 as well 
as that of 1598 is now shown to have been based on 
an assessment made as early as 1593 or 1594. Pay- 
ment was obviously sought at the later dates in 
ignorance of the fact that Shakespeare (i.e. Shakspere) 
had by that time left St. Helens (Bishopsgate) long 
since for South London " (Sir Sidney Lee). Accord- 
ing to modern Stratfordians he lived in London as a 
famous man for sixteen years after this (1596-1612) 
without betraying his settled place of residence. 

In 1597 ^^6 publication of the plays begins in William 
real earnest. In 1598 they begin to appear with 
" Shakespeare's " name attached. From then till 
1604 was the period of full flood of publication during 
William Shakspere's lifetime : and this great period 
of " Shakespearean " publication (1597-1604) corre- 
sponds exactly with William Shakspere's busiest 
period in Stratford. In 1597 he began the business 
connected with the purchase of New Place. Complica- 
tions ensued, and the purchase was not completed 
till 1602. " In 1598 he procured stone for the repair 
of the house, and before 1602 had planted a fruit 
orchard." (S. L.) In 1597 his father and mother, 
"doubtless under their son's guidance " began a law- 
suit " for the recovery of the mortgaged estate of 
Asbies in Wilmcote . . . (which) dragged on for 


some years." (S. L.) " Between 1597 and 1599 
(he was) rebuilding the house, stocking the barns with 
grain, and conducting various legal proceedings." 
(S. L.) In 1601 his father died and he took over his 
father's property. On May i, 1602, he purchased 
107 acres of arable land. On September 1602 " one 
Walter Getley transferred to the poet a cottage and 
garden which were situated at Chapel Lane opposite 
the lower grounds of New Place." " As early as 
1598 Abraham Sturley had suggested that Shakespeare 
(William Shakspere) should purchase the tithes of 
Stratford." In 1605 he completed the purchase of 
" an unexpired term of these tithes." " In July 
1604 in the local court at Stratford he sued Philip 
Rogers whom he had supplied since the preceding 
March malt to the value of i 193. lod. and on June 25 
lent 2s. in cash." 

In a personal record from which so much is missing 
we may justly assume that what we know of his 
dealings in Stratford forms only a small part of his 
activities there. Consequently, to the contention 
that this man was the author and directing genius of 
the magnificent stream of dramatic literature which 
in those very years was bursting upon London, the 
business record we have just presented, would in 
almost any court in the land be deemed to have proved 
an alibi. The general character of these business 
transactions, even to such touches as lending the 
trifling sum of 2s. to a person to whom he was selling 
malt, is all suggestive of his own continuous day to 
day contact with the details of his Stratford business 
affairs : whilst the single money transaction which 
connects him with London during these years, the 
recovery of a debt of 7 from John Clayton in 1600, 


might easily be the result of a short visit to the The actors- 
metropolis, or merely the work of an agent. The 
licenses granted in 1603 to the company of actors in 
which " Shakespeare's " name appears would not 
necessitate his presence ; and the fact that his name 
as it appears in these documents is spelt " S-h-a-k-e- 
s-p-e-a-r-e " (i.e. the same as in the printed editions 
of the plays), whilst this spelling is not that of his own 
signatures, nor of some of the important Stratford 
documents, bears out the suggestion that these matters 
were arranged by the same person as was responsible 
for the publication of the plays ; although, as we 
have already pointed out, William Shakspere had no 
hand in that publication. Moreover, these licenses 
were not for immediate use, but for " when the plague 
shall decrease." As, further, his name occurs second* 
it is clear that he was not the directing head of the 
company of players. 

Whilst, then, everything about William Shakspere's 
records suggests that he was settled permanently 
at Stratford during the important years of the publica- 
tion of the plays, everything about the plays them- 
selves betokens an author living at the time in intimate 
touch with the theatrical and literary life of London. 
So strong is the presumption in favour of this latter 
fact that no writer of any school has yet ventured to 
suggest the contrary. In attributing the authorship 
to William Shakspere it has been imperative to 
assume a settled residence in London during these 
fateful years. The utmost that could be allowed 
was an occasional journey to Stratford ; and this 
notwithstanding the mysteriousness of his where- 
abouts and doings in London, the fact of his always 
being described as " of Stratford," never " of London," 


and the large amount and special character of his 
Stratford business affairs. 

If, then, William Shakspere, the reputed author 
of the works, was not sent oft to Stratford to be out 
of the way at the time when the literary public was 
being interested in the plays, he has certainly 
contrived matters so as to make it appear that such 
was the case, and thus to justify the strongest 
suspicion, on this ground alone, that the famous 
dramas were not of his composing. 

It is from a consideration of the manner of publica- 
tion that Sir Sidney Lee concludes that William 
Shakspere had no part in the work. On the other 
hand we arrive at precisely the same conclusion from 
a consideration of the circumstances of his life : in 
the present instance on the grounds of what we are 
entitled to claim as an alibi. It is certainly interest- 
ing that two totally different sets of considerations 
should lead to precisely the same conclusion, although 
approached from two different standpoints and with 
different intentions; leaving but little room for 
doubt as to the soundness of the common conclusion. 
Whilst then we agree that William Shakspere had no 
hand in the publication of this literature, to maintain 
that its actual author, if living, in no way shared 
in any part of the work, is the kind of belief which 
practical men in touch with life would hardly acknow- 
ledge without serious misgiving. 


Anti- We do not say that the alternative belief, the belief 

di'fficuhies* 11 that is to say in a hidden author, is without difficulties, 
motives. \\ 7 e ma y justly wonder why the author of such 


works should prefer to remain unknown, just as we 
may wonder why " Ignoto," "Shepherd Tony" and 
"A. W.", the writers of some of the best Elizabethan 
poetry have elected to remain unknown. The facts 
are, however, incontestable realities of literary history. 
Moreover, the motives for mysterious and secret 
courses are, no doubt, frequently as mysterious and 
secret as the courses themselves, so that inability to 
fathom motives cannot be put in as an argument 
against the evidence of a fact : though knowledge of 
a motive may be accepted as corroborative of other 
evidence. Difficult as it is to penetrate and appreciate 
the private motives even of people circumstanced like 
ourselves, the difficulty is immeasurably increased 
when the entire social circumstances are different, 
as in the case before us. The man who thinks that 
any one living in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and 
James I would be as proud to acknowledge himself 
the author of "Shakespeare's" plays as any one living 
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries would be, 
has not understood the Shakespeare problem in its 
relationship to the age to which it belongs. He is, 
moreover, judging the question largely from the point 
of view of the professional litterateur as author, and 
overlooking the numerous considerations which may 
arise when an author of a vastly different type is 

" It is difficult to realize," says Halliwell-Phillipps, 
" a period when . . . the great poet, notwithstanding 
the immense popularity of some of his works, was 
held in no general reverence. It must be borne in 
mind that actors then occupied an inferior position 
in society, and that even the vocation of a dramatic 
writer was considered scarcely respectable, The in- 


telligent appreciation of genius by individuals was 
not sufficient to neutralize in these matters the effect 
of public opinion and the animosity of the religious 
world ; all circumstances thus uniting to banish 
general interest in the history of persons connected in 
any way with the stage." 

To have laid claim to the authorship of even 
" Shakespeare's " plays would therefore have been 
of no assistance to any man seeking to obtain, preserve, 
or recover the social dignity and eminence of himself 
and his family. 

Preservation \Ve may wonder that the secret should have been 
incognito. so well kept, and be quite unable to offer a satisfactory 
explanation of the complete success of the " blind," 
just as we may stand puzzled before the other 
mysteries of history. This again is a difficulty which 
is greatly magnified by giving it a modern setting. 
In " Shakespeare's " day, however, according to 
Halliwell-Phillipps " no interest was taken in the 
events of the lives of authors . . . non-political corre- 
spondence was rarely preserved, (and) elaborate diaries 
were not the fashion." 

The lack of interest in the personality of authors 
is borne out by some contemporary records of the 
performance of " Shakespeare's " plays without any 
suggestion of an author's name. The educated 
readers of the printed works, interested mainly in 
these works as literature, might well be content to 
know an author merely by name, especially when 
that author was supposed to be living in what would 
then be a remote village. The contemporary records 
of the " Shakespeare " literature are moreover just 
such as belong to an author whose name is known 
but whose personality is not ; and Shakspere would 


escape personal attention by taking up permanent 
residence in Stratford just at the time when this 
literature began to appear. 

Mystery and concerted secrecy were moreover 
characteristic not only of the literary life of the times, 
but even more so of the general social and political 
life. Plots and counterplots, extreme caution and 
reservation in writing letters men habitually writing 
to friends as if suspicious that their letters would 
be shown to their enemies every here and there 
some cryptic remark which only the addressee would 
be able to understand, such are the things that stand 
out from the mass of contemporary documents 
preserved in the State Papers and the various private 
collections. We can be quite sure that in those times 
no important secret would be imparted to any one 
without first of all receiving the most solemn assur- 
ances that no risk of disclosure should be run. 
Certainly the writer of " Hamlet " was not the man 
to neglect any precaution. The carefully framed 
oaths by which Hamlet binds Horatio and Marcellus 
to secrecy, and the final caution he administers, is 
clearly the work of a man who knew how to ensure 
secrecy so far as it was humanly possible to do so. 
And we do know, as a matter of actual human 
experience, that when a superior intelligence is 
combined with what may be called a faculty for 
secrecy and a sound instinct in judging and choosing 
agents, secret purposes are carried through success- 
fully in a way that is amazing and mystifying to 
simpler minds. 

These, then, are certain difficulties of the anti- Difficulties 
Stratfordian position which it would be folly to ignore. JnoSii- 
Most truths, however, have had to win their way in bilities. 


spite of difficulties. Whilst, then, difficulties do not 
kill truth, incredibilities are fatal to error ; and it 
is the incredible that Stratfordianism has to face. 
The same general human experience that compels 
us to accept facts for which we cannot adequately 
account, compels us also to reject, on pain of 
irrationality, what is inherently self-contradictory, 
or at complete variance with tne otherwise invariable 
course of events. It is thus that the commonsense 
of mankind instinctively repudiates a moral contradic- 
tion as incredible. Such we hold is the belief in the 
Stratford man : the belief that the author of the 
finest literature lets others do just as they please 
during his own lifetime in the matter of publishing 
his works but does nothing himself. " It is question- 
able," says Sir Sidney Lee, " whether any were 
published under his supervision." He is thus 
represented as creating and casting forth his im- 
mortal works with all the indifference of a mere 
spawning process, and turning his attention to houses, 
land, malt and money at the very moment when the 
printed issue of these great triumphs of his own 
creative spirit begins. This is the fundamental 
incredibility which along with the incredible reversion 
represented by Shakspere's second Stratford period, 
and a succession of other incredibilities ought to 
dissolve completely the Stratfordian hypothesis, once 
it has become possible to put a more reasonable 
hypothesis in its place. 


Contem- The only thing that can be described as a re- 

notices, liable personal reference to William Shakspere in 
the whole course of his life was made in 1592 when 


Greene attacked him as an " upstart crow," beautiful 
in the feathers of others. Chettle the publisher's 
subsequent apology is couched in terms which indicate 
the intervention of highly-placed and powerful patrons. 
Clearly Shakspere had behind him some friend that 
writers and publishers could not afford to ignore. 
At that time nothing had been published under his 
name, his London career was just opening, and this 
we repeat, is the only thing that can be called a 
personal incident in the whole of his London record, 
which according to modern Stratfordians continued 
for twenty years after this affair. As a matter of fact 
his own attitude in this so-called incident was purely 
passive, Chettle's apology making no reference to 
any protest or resentment on the part of the man 
attacked, but solely to the " divers of worship " 
who had made representations on his behalf. After 
this it would appear that no one ventured upon 
personal references, good, bad, or indifferent. The 
experience of Chettle was evidently a warning to others. 
Subsequently, " Venus " and " Lucrece " were 
published with " Shakespeare's " name as author, 
and we then get a few references to the poems, such 
as any reader of the works might have penned. 

" Yet Tarquyne pluckt his glistering grape, 
And Shake-speare paints poore Lucrece rape." Only as 

(1594. The year of the publication of " Lucrece.") P et tiu 


" All praise worthy Lucrecia : Sweet Shak-speare." 

" And Shakespeare, thou whose hony flowing vaine 

Whose Venus, and whose Lucrece sweet and chaste, 
Thy name in fames immortall booke have plac't." 


This is all that we have in the period prior to the 
actual publication of the dramas. They are self- 
evidently inspired by the poems, make no reference 
to the plays, and have nothing more to do with the 
man than could be learnt from the works : a fact 
to which the spelling and splitting up of the name 
" Shake-speare " bears witness. Nor have they any- 
As thing to do with him as an actor, 

oni^after" Not till we reach the year 1598, the year in which 
*598. the first of the dramas with " Shakespeare's" name 

were published, do we meet with any contemporary 
reference to '' Shakespeare " as a writer of plays ; 
by this time we are justified in supposing that William 
Shakspere was duly established at Stratford. Here, 
again, there is no personal reference : the name merely 
appearing in long lists of ancient and contemporary 
writers with an occasional remark upon the quality 
or contents of the work published under their names. 
This work of Francis Meres his " Palladis Tamia " 
at the same time bears testimony to what may be 
called the high classic quality of " Shakespeare's " 
English in the eyes of contemporary scholars, and also 
to " Shakespeare's " familiarity with the ancient classics. 

In 1599 we meet with another literary reference 
in which, in addition to " Venus " and " Lucrece," 
the plays of " Romeo " and " Richard " (II or III) 
are referred to. These plays had already been 

In 1600 the name again occurs in a list of over 
twenty poets of Elizabeth's reign. 

In 1604 his name appears along with Jonson's and 
Green's in couplets calling for verses in honour of 

Again in 1604, the year of the revised edition of 


Hamlet, the name occurs in a literary reference to this 
play : and in 1603 or 5 in another list of contemporary 
poets. In the " Returne from Pernassus" (written 
1602, printed 1606) he is first and most particularly 
mentioned as the author of " Venus " and " Lucrece," 
and afterwards as one of those that " pen plaies." 

Such is the character of all the contemporary 
references which the industry of Halliwell-Phillipps 
has brought together : references, that is to say, of 
people who knew " Shakespeare " in print, but who 
have nothing to tell us about William Shakspere in 
the flesh. The single instance of a contemporary 
reference to the man, after the 1592 affair (" The 
sole anecdote of Shakespeare that is positively known 
to have been recorded in his lifetime," S. L.), is a 
wretched immoral story ; evidently the invention 
of some would-be wit : a story which is rightly dis- 
carded, as apocryphal, by most authorities on both 
sides of the question. The magnitude of this omission 
of real contemporary reference to the personality of 
the man can only be appreciated by those who, for 
any special purpose, have had to search into the 
collections of Elizabethan documents that have been 
published, or who know anything of the immense 
amount of personal details, concerning the most 
unimportant of people, preserved in our various 
local histories. Such a silence seems only explicable 
on the assumption that the utmost care was taken 
to keep the man out of sight. 

It has already been pointed out that none of his The silence 
activities in Stratford has left the slightest trace of Shakspere! 
a letter from his pen. The same strange feature marks 
his middle period in London. Again, it is not merely 
preserved autograph letters which are conspicuously 


absent, but there is a total absence of evidence, or 
even rumour, that he ever corresponded with a single 
soul. At the same time literary men of recognized 
inferiority to " Shakespeare " were the regular corre- 
spondents of the aristocratic patrons of literature; 
and even when the actual letters are missing traces 
of such correspondence can be found in the literary 
history of the times. In William Shakspere's case 
there is not the faintest trace. Even Ben Jonson, 
separated by many miles and for many years from 
his idol, makes no suggestion of letters having passed 
between them at any time. Nor during these years 
is there the slightest record of any of those things 
by which a genius impresses his personality upon 
his contemporaries. Outside the printed works 
nothing but blank negation meets us whenever we 
seek to connect this man with any of those things 
by which eminent literary men have left incidental 
impressions of themselves upon contemporary life. 
As then we have the best authority for saying that 
he had nothing to do with the publication of the 
dramas and even the poems which contained" Shake- 
speare's " dedication to the Earl of Southampton 
had no author's name on their title-pages if William 
Shakspere were not a mere mask for another writer, 
perhaps some Stratfordian will tell us what else he 
could have done, or left undone, to make it appear 
that such was the part he was playing. 

Spenser'* i n addition to William Shakspere's own silence 

we must not overlook the complete silence of " Shake- 
speare's " great contemporary Edmund Spenser in 
respect to everything Shakespearean. His reference 
to " Willie" in his poem, the " Teares of the Muses," 
it is very commonly agreed nowadays, could not, 


on account of its date, have any reference to William 
Shakspere. The only possible allusion to Shakespeare 
which he makes is in 1595, in his poem " Colin Clout's 
Come Home Again." That his " Action " has any- 
thing to do with Shakespeare is pure conjecture, based 
upon the assumption that only "Shakespeare " could 
deserve the high praise which Spenser bestows upon 
the poet so designated. When, however, in the 
following lines he places Sir Philip Sidney first amongst 
the poets to whom he is alluding, we cannot accept 
" Action " as Shakespeare that is to say, as a poet 
inferior, in Spenser's judgment, to Sidney without 
discrediting Spenser's judgment. In other words, we 
destroy the very grounds upon which we originally 
suppose that " Action " is Shakespeare. In any 
case, the allusion is only to " Shakespeare " the poet, 
whose poems might have reached Spenser (" Colin 
Clout ") in Ireland prior to his coming home. If, 
however, we accept the date which Spenser himself 
attaches to the dedication of the poem to Sir Walter 
Raleigh, namely 1591, it is evident that " Action " 
could not be "William Shakspere," and could have 
no connection with the great " Shakespeare " poems, 
which were not published until 1593 and 1594. 


So much for William Shakspere the business man William 
and the reputed author : we come now to the question 
of William Shakspere the famous actor and theatre 
shareholder, whose wealth has been partly accounted 
for by reference to the revenues of prominent con- 
temporary actors and actor-shareholders. In this 


connection we shall place together passages from 
his two leading biographers. 

Sir Sidney Lee : 

" It was as an actor that at an early date he 
acquired a genuinely substantial and secure income." 
Meanwhile he " was gaining great personal esteem 
outside the circles of actors and men of letters. His 
genius and ' civil demeanour ' of which Chettle wrote 
arrested the notice not only of Southampton, but 
of other noble patrons of literature and the drama. 
His summons to act at Court with the most famous 
actors of the day at the Christmas of 1594 was possibly 
due in part to personal interest in himself. Elizabeth 
quickly showed him special favour, etc." 

Here, then, was fame of a most exceptional 
character, hardly to be excelled by those who endure 
the " fierce light that beats upon a throne." The 
tax gatherers who could not lay their hands readily 
upon this man were guilty, at best, of culpable in- 
capacity ; and should have been summarily dismissed 
for deliberate connivance. Nevertheless, we shall 
see what Halliwell-Phillipps says : 

" There was not a single company of actors in 
Shakespeare's time which did not make professional 
visits through nearly all the English counties, and 
in the hope of discovering traces of his footsteps 
during his provincial tours I have personally examined 
the records of the following cities and towns Warwick, 
Bewdley, Dover, Shrewsbury, Oxford, Worcester, 
Hereford, Gloucester, etc." And so he proceeds to 
enumerate no less than forty-six important towns 
and cities in all parts of the country, as far north 
as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and including, in addition 
to both the great university cities, Stratford-upon- 


Avon itself, whose fame throughout the world it owes 
to the lustre which " Shakespeare's " name has given 
it, and he concludes : 

"In no single instance have I at present found in The Lord 
any municipal record a notice of the poet himself ; but j^*** 1 " 
curious material of an unsuspected nature respecting company in 
his company and theatrical surroundings has been provinces, 

Thus do the generous surmises of one biographer 
suffer at the hands of the unkindly facts presented 
by another. In the interval between the writing of 
the two biographies the number of " extant archives " 
examined is increased to " some seventy," and al-- 
though Sir Sidney Lee passes over the salient 
fact that the later investigations were equally with- 
out result, so far as discovering traces of Shakespere's 
footsteps are concerned, his faith in the Stratford 
man gives rise to the poetic supposition that " Shake- 
speare may be credited with faithfully fulfilling all 
his professional functions, and some of the references 
to travel in his sonnets were doubtless reminiscences 
of early acting tours." The workers who have 
continued the enquiries begun by Halliwell-Phillipps, 
in their anxiety to find such traces of Shakspere as 
must exist if he were in reality what is claimed for 
him, have pushed their investigations as far north 
as Edinburgh, where the names of Lawrence Fletcher 
and one Martin are found hi the records for 1599. 
Fletcher's name appears first, evidently as manager* 
of a company of actors who were " welcomed with 
enthusiasm by the King," and this Fletcher also 
heads the list of the company of actors licensed in 
London as the King's Players by James on his accession 
to the English throne the list in which the name 


Shakespeare is inserted second. But there is no 
Shakspere in the Edinburgh records, nor in any of 
the other municipal archives that have been examined. 
The name Martin seems otherwise quite unknown. 

The point that concerns us at present, however, 
is the fact that whilst the names of other actors of no 
great repute occur in these municipal records, the 
name of the man who is represented as enjoying almost 
unparalleled fame in his vocation poet, dramatic 
author, actor and actor-shareholder never appears 
once, although a most painstaking and laborious 
search has been made. The inevitable conclusion to 
which we are forced is that either he was not there 
or he was not a famous actor. In short, he was not a 
prominent active member of the Lord Chamberlain's 
Company, but rather a kind of " sleeping partner " 
whose functions were quite consistent with his settled 
residence at Stratford : a situation much more in 
accord with the idea of a man whose name was being 
used as a cloak, but whose personality was being 
carefully kept in the background, than of one enjoying 
in his own person the attentions and social inter- 
course which come to a distinguished man whom 
even royalty delighted to honour. 


Shakspere It remains now only to examine the data upon 
which rests the theory of William Shakspere being an 
eminent London actor. Neither as a writer of plays 
for the stage nor as an author of works for the press 
is it possible to account for his wealth. In the former 
capacity his income would not be a handsome one ; 


and in the latter capacity, seeing that he took no part 
and held no rights, he would depend upon good-will 
gratuities from publishers. As an actor, we have 
seen, no single record of his appearance in the 
provinces has been discovered. It is as a London 
actor, therefore, that he must have made his wealth, 
if that wealth had nothing mysterious about it. Here, 
then, are the records of his career. 

Halliwell-Phillipps " had the pleasure of discover- Treasurer's 
ing some years ago in the accounts of the Treasurer accounts - 
of the Chamber " the following entry : " To William 
Kempe, William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage, 
servants to the Lord Chamberlaine, upon the councelles 
warrant dated at Whitehall Marcij, 1594, for 
twoe several comedies or enterludes showed by them 
before her Majestic in Christmas tyme laste paste 
viz. upon St. Stephens daye and innocentes daye . . . 
in all 20." Mrs. Stopes, however, in her work on 
" Burbage and Shakespeare," furnishes the interesting 
information that this " account (was) drawn up after 
date by Mary Countess of Southampton, after the 
decease of her second husband Sir Thomas Henneage, 
who had left his accounts rather in a muddle." And 
Sir Sidney Lee points out that " neither plays nor 
parts are named." We may also point out that 
whereas according to the last named authority Kemp 
was " the chief comedian of the day and Richard 
Burbage the greatest tragic actor," no record exists 
to tell us and no one has yet ventured to guess what 
William Shakspere was as an actor. Since, then, no 
part is assigned to him in this record, it is possible, 
even accepting it as being in proper order as an 
official document, that he received the money as the 
supposed author of the " comedies or enterludes." 


And this, although occurring three years before the 
opening of the period of his fame (1597) is the only 
thing that can be called an official record of active 
participation in the performances of the Lord 
Chamberlain's Company, afterwards called the King's 
Players, and erroneously spoken of as Shakespeare's 
company : the company of which he is supposed to 
have been one of the leading lights. 

The "orthodoxy" of Mrs. Stopes, like that of 

Halliwell-Phillipps, is beyond suspicion, and she has 

performed in respect to William Shakspere's London 

career something analogous to what Halliwell-Phillipps 

has done for his work in the provinces, and with a not 

altogether dissimilar result. In note xxviii. of the 

book just mentioned she records " The performances 

of the Burbage Company at Court for 80 years " ; the 

record consisting mainly of a catalogue of brief items 

of payments made by the Treasurer of the Chamber 

for actual performances of plays, and occupying 

seventeen pages of her work. Over four pages are 

taken up with entries referring to performances of 

the company from 1597 to the death of William 

Shakspere in 1616. Separate entries occur for the 

years 1597, 1598, 1599, 1600, 1601, 1603, 1604, 1605, 

1606, 1607, 1608, 1609, 1610, 1611, 1612, 1613, 1614, 

1615, and 1616. It will thus be seen that only the 

year 1602 is missing from these records. The names 

of the actors mentioned are Heminge, Burbage, 

Cowley, Bryan and Pope ; elsewhere these official 

accounts mention the actor Augustine Phillipps, 

but not once does the name of William Shakspere occur 

in all these accounts. 

There is a danger that in multiplying evidences 
and opening up discussions on side issues the full 


force of some particular facts may be lost. We would 
urge, therefore, that the reader allow his mind to dwell 
at length on one fact, namely, that the whole of the 
municipal records of the acting companies are silent 
with regard to William Shakspere, and the whole 
of the Treasurer of the Chamber's records, with the 
one irregular exception of an account made up by 
a strange hand after date, are equally silent respecting 
him : even the irregular entry referring to a date 
(1594) several years before the period of his fame ; 
so that both are absolutely silent respecting him 
during his great period. If the reader still persists 
in believing that William Shakspere was a well-known 
figure on the stage, or a prominent member of the 
Lord Chamberlain's company of actors, or in any 
way much in evidence in connection with the doings 
of that company, we would respectfully suggest that 
his time could be more profitably spent than in reading 
the remainder of these pages. 

Following up the investigations by means of the The Lord 

same work, we find that the Lord Chamberlain's Chamber- 
lains books. 

books " supply much information concerning plays 
and players. Unfortunately they are missing for the 
most important years of Shakespearean history." 
Twice in the course of her work does Mrs. Stopes 
refer to the unfortunate disappearance of the Lord 
Chamberlain's books. In the light of all the other 
mysterious silences regarding William Shakspere, 
and the total disappearance of the " Shakespeare " 
manuscripts, so carefully guarded during the years 
preceding the publication of the First Folio, the 
disappearance of the Lord Chamberlain's books, 
recording the transactions of his department for the 
greatest period in its history, hardly looks like pure 


accident. More than one contemporary forgery in 
respect to Shakespeare records is admitted by most 
authorities, a well-known one being the 1611 reference 
to " The Tempest," so that suspicion is quite justifiable. 
The one volume of these records that has been 
preserved records nothing of any acting engagement 
of William Shakspere's, but merely his receiving, 
along with others, a grant of cloth in preparation 
for the coronation procession. Whilst stating that 
"many believe . . . that the players did not go on 
that procession," Mrs. Stopes argues in favour of 
their being there ; but adds : "it is true the grant 
of cloth was not in itself an invitation to the corona- 
tion." It is therefore no evidence that he was present. 
Similarly the appearance of his name in the list of 
members of the company licensed in 1603 for 
prospective activity as the King's players furnishes 
no proof of his recognition as a prominent actor, 
and leaves us ignorant of the plays in which he may 
have participated, the roles which he performed, or 
the manner of his acting. All that we have of an 
official nature during this period are therefore two 
appearances of his name in general non-informative 
lists quite consistent with the theory that during the 
most important years of what is supposed to have 
been his great London period he was not in constant 
personal touch with the business of the company. 
Shakspere Of non-official acting records we again give the 

plays * ^cts in the words of Sir Sidney Lee " Shakespeare's 
name stands first on the list of those who took part 
in the original performance of Ben Jonson's ' Every 
Man in his Humour ' (1598 the year in which 
Jonson, having been imprisoned for killing Gabriel 
Spenser, was liberated, apparently as a result of 


influential intervention). " In the original edition of 
Jonson's 'Sejanus' (1605) the actors' names are 
arranged in two columns, and Shakespeare's name 
heads the second column. . . . But here again the 
part allotted to each actor is not stated." Nor is 
it mentioned that this list was only published two 
years after the performance (1603). 

These two appearances of his name are the only 
things that might be called records of his acting during 
the whole period of his fame ; the first at its beginning, 
and the second, according to several authorities, at 
its close. (" There is no doubt he never meant to 
return to London except for business visits after 1604": 
National Encyclopedia). We know neither what 
parts he played nor how he played them ; but the one 
thing we do know is that they had nothing to do with the 
great " Shakespeare " plays. There is not" a single 
record during the whole of his life of his ever appearing 
in a play of " Shakespeare's " ; whilst the writer 
responsible for the appearance of his name in these 
instances is the same as lent the sanction of his name 
to the deliberate inaccuracies of the First Folio. It 
is worth while noticing that although Jonson gives 
a foremost place to the name of " Shakespeare " in 
these lists, when Jonson's " Every Man out of his 
Humour " was played by the Lord Chamberlain's 
company, the whole of the company, with one notable 
exception, had parts assigned to them. That one 
exception was Shakspere, who does not appear at all 
in the cast. (See the collected works of Jonson.) 

Other striking absences of William Shakspere's Missing 
name in connection with this particular company re crence: 
remain to be noticed. The company became 
implicated in the "Essex Rebellion," and Augustine 


Phillipps, one of the members, had to present himself 
for examination in connection with it. His statement, 
made on oath and formally attested with his signature, 
involves a play of " Shakespeare's " (Richard II). 
William Shakspere himself was, however, quite out 
of the business. He was not called upon, and his 
name was not even mentioned in connection with 
the play, which is spoken of as " so old and so long 
out of use." 

Again in August 1604 the company was appointed 
to attend on the Spanish Ambassador at Somerset 
House and were paid for their services ; " Augustine 
Phillipps and John Hemynges for th' allowance of 
themselves and tenne of their fellows . . . for the 
space of 18 dayes (receiving) 21 125." We again 
notice the absence of the name of one whom we have 
been taught to regard as the chief personality in the 

The modern Stratfordian postpones Shakspere's 
retirement to Stratford to the year 1612 or 1613. 
In 1612 the company was engaged in litigation, and 
the names of " John Hemings, Richard Burbage and 
Henry Condall " appear in connection with it, but 
there is no mention of Shakspere. 

On the installation of Prince Henry as Prince of 
Wales the services of the company were enlisted 
and the names of Antony Munday, Richard Burbage, 
and John Rice occur in the official records, the first as 
writer and the last two as actors ; but no mention 
is made of the great writer-actor William Shakspere. 

In 1613 the Globe Theatre, the supposed scene of 
William Shakspere's great triumphs, was burnt to 
the ground, and a contemporary poet sang of the 
event in verses that commemorate Anthony Munday, 


Richard Burbage, Henry Condell, and the father of 
John Heminge, but without ever a backward glance 
at the retiring or retired William Shakspere whose 
name has immortalized the name of the building. 

After such a contemporary record the appearance Doubtful 
of his name, in the 1623 folio edition, seven years 
after his death, at the head of the list of " theprincipall 
actors in all these plays," confirms the bogus character 
of the whole of the editorial pretensions of that work. 
With such a send-off, it is remarkable that subsequent 
tradition has done so little for him. More than 
eighty years later Rowe in his Life of Shakspere (1709) 
assigns but one role to the " principall actor in all 
these plays " : namely the Ghost in Hamlet. This 
tradition, though quite unreliable seeing that the 
whole body of Shakespearean tradition is mixed with 
much that is now known to be untrue is nevertheless 
interesting : for the role of the Ghost in Hamlet is 
just such as a third rate man about the theatre might 
have been trained to perform upon occasion. The 
discussion of the shifting sands of Shakespearean 
tradition hardly comes within the province of this 
work. It is interesting to note, however, that Mrs 
Stopes flatly refuses to believe the body of Shakespeare 
traditions, for the very substantial reason that they 
arose at too late a period after the events. How 
little of solid biographical fact remains when mere 
tradition is discounted, the general reader, who simply 
interests himself in the plays, is seldom aware. 

It is possible that we may have omitted the dis- 
cussion of some contemporary reference which others 
might consider important. Enough, however, has 
been said to show that William Shakspere's connection 
with the Lord Chamberlain's company was of a 


distinctly anomalous character. On the one hand 
there are distinct traces of an effort to give him a 
marked prominence in respect to the constitution 
and operations of the company, and on the other 
hand a total absence of the inevitable concomitants 
of such a prominence. What others, using him as 
an instrument of their purposes, were able to do with 
his name, is done ; what could only be brought about 
by the force of his own genius is lacking. Outside 
the formal lists of names no single contemporary 
that we know of records an event or impression of 
him as an actor during all the years of his literary 
fame. It may safely be said, therefore, that neither 
in the provinces nor in London did the public who 
were buying and reading " Shakespeare's " plays 
know much about William Shakspere the actor. 
Even the objectionable anecdote which represents 
Burbage in the dramatic role of Richard the Third 
does not imply dramatic functions of any kind for 
Shakspere, but represents him as a silent listener, not 
necessarily one living in the public eye : a person 
whom some one in the outside public might have 
thought of as implicated in the inner workings of the 
company. In the face of so pronounced a silence 
in respect to him, why should there have been these 
two efforts of Jonson's to thrust his name forward 
as an actor in a way which neither the records of the 
Lord Chamberlain's company nor the constitution 
of the cast for his own play " Every Man out of his 
Humour " warranted ? And how does it happen, 
in view of the total silence of the records of the Lord 
Chamberlain's company during all the years, both 
before and after, that his name was inserted twice in 
one year (1603) in the business formalities of the 


company ? In a word, how does it happen that we 
have the name occupying an artificial eminence in two 
connections and nothing else to correspond ? The 
most natural answer is, of course, that false claims 
were being made for him fitting in exactly with the 
admitted false pretensions of the First Folio in which 
the same party, Ben Jonson, was implicated. In 
the matter of motives, however, we again put in a 
plea for Jonson that he is entitled to the same indulgence 
as has been freely accorded to Heminge and Condell, 
although he probably was deeper in the secret than 
they were. 

We may now summarize the results of our examina- 
tion of the middle or London period of William 
Shakspere's career. 

1. He was purely passive in respect to all the 

publication which took place under his name. 

2. There is the greatest uncertainty respecting 

the duration of his sojourn in London and the 
strongest probability that he was actually 
resident at Stratford whilst the plays were 
being published. 

3. Nothing is known of his doings in London, and 

there is much mystery concerning his place 
of residence there. 

4. After Greene's attack and Chettle's apology the 

" man " and the " actor " was ignored by 

5. Before the printing of the dramas began in 

1598 contemporary references were always 
to the poet the author of " Venus " and 
" Lucrece " never to the dramatist, 


6. Only after 1598, the date when plays were 

first printed with " Shakespeare V name, 
are there any contemporary references to him 
as a dramatist. 

7. The public knew " Shakespeare " in print, but 

knew nothing of the personality of William 

8. The sole anecdote recorded of him is rejected 

by the general consensus of authorities, and 
even the contemporary currency of this 
anecdote is consistent with the idea of his 
being personally unknown. 

9. He has left no letter or trace of personal inter- 

course with any London contemporary or 
public man. He received no letter from any 
patron or literary man. The only letter known 
to have been sent to him was concerned solely 
with the borrowing of money. 

10. Edmund Spenser quite ignores him. 

11. Although the company with which his name is 

associated toured frequently and widely in 
the provinces, and much has been recorded 
of their doings, no municipal archive, so far 
as is known, contains a single reference to him. 

12. There is no contemporary record of his ever 

appearing in a " Shakespeare " play. 

13. The only plays with which as an actor his name 

was associated during his lifetime are two 
of Ben Jonson's plays. 

14. The accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber 

show only one irregular reference to him 
three years before the period of his greatest 
fame, and none at all during or after that 


15. The Lord Chamberlain's Books, which would 

have furnished the fullest records of his doings 
during these years, are, like the " Shakespeare " 
manuscripts, missing. 

16. His name is missing from the following records 

of the Lord Chamberlain's company in which 
other actors' names appear : 

(1) The cast of Jonson's " Every Man out of 

his Humour " in which all the other 
members of the company appear. 

(2) The record of proceedings respecting the 

Essex Rebellion and the company. 

(3) The company's attendance on the Spanish 

Ambassador in 1604. 

(4) The company's litigation in 1612. 

(5) The company's participation in the in- 

stallation of the Prince of Wales. 

(6) References to the burning of the Globe 


17. Even rumour assigns him only an insignificant 

role as an actor. 
We must now ask the reader to bring all these shakspere 

various considerations carefully into focus, and see and < : ontem " 

J poranes. 

them in their natural relationship to one another. 
He ought to have no difficulty in realizing that so 
completely negative a record is altogether inconsistent 
with the career William Shakspere is supposed to have 
enjoyed. We place him above Edmund Spenser as 
a poet, yet Spenser's biography is no mere tissue of 
learned fancies and generous conjectures. We place 
him above Jonson as a writer of plays, yet Jonson's 
literary life and social relationships make up a very 
real and tangible biography. We attempt to class 
him with Burbage as an actor, yet Burbage is a very 


living and substantial figure in the history of the 
English stage. But he, the one man who is supposed 
to have combined in a remarkable way the powers 
and vocations of all three ; the contemporary of 
Spenser : the protg6 of the Burbages for we are 
now told it was they who discovered and brought 
out Shakspere the idol of Jonson, and the greatest 
genius that has appeared in English literature, leaves 
behind in all literary and dramatic concerns but 
the elusive and impalpable record we have been 

The genial spirit of Spenser kept pouring itself 
out in verse until crushing disaster came upon him, 
and death approached : his last verses indeed seem 
to have been written with death before his eyes. To 
the end Ben Jonson kept writing and publishing : 
his last and posthumous work being the expression 
of his latest thoughts. The central figure on the 
English stage at the time when Richard Burbage 
died was Burbage himself. But William Shakspere, 
possessed of a genius so compelling as to have raised 
him from a level quite below his literary con- 
temporaries to a height far above them, abandons his 
vocation at the age of forty, retires to the uncultured 
atmosphere of Stratford, devotes his powers to land, 
houses, malt and money, leaving unfinished literary 
masterpieces in the hands of actors and theatre 
managers to be finished by the pens of strangers ; 
ultimately dying in affluence but in total dissociation 
from everything that has made his name famous. 

Had the work attributed to him been merely average 
literature, his record, once grasped in its ensemble, 
would have justified the strongest doubts as to the 
genuineness of his claims. Being what it is, however, 


the unique character of the work, and the record, 
equally unique but opposite in character, justifies 
the complete rejection of his pretensions. To borrow 
Emerson's metaphor on the subject, we " cannot 
marry " the life record to the literature. We are 
compelled, therefore, to make a very clear separation 
between the writer " Shakespeare " and the man 
William Shakspere. As soon as this is done we are 
able to co-ordinate this middle period of the life of 
William Shakspere with the two extremes we have 
previously considered. We thus arrive at the con- 
ception of a man of very ordinary powers and humble 
purposes, the three parts of whose career become 
perfectly homogeneous. In the place of the 
tremendous mass of Stratfordian incongruities and 
impossibilities we get a sane and consistent idea of 
a man in natural relationship with human experience 
and normal probabilities. A man who played a part 
and had his reward. His motives were no doubt like 
those of the average amongst us, a mixture of high 
and low ; and, seeing that no one else was being 
injured by the subterfuge, he might if he were capable 
of apprizing the work justly, have felt honoured in 
being trusted by " Shakespeare " in furthering his 
literary purposes. But that he was himself the author 
of the great poems and dramas stands altogether 
outside the region of natural probabilities, and he 
must now yield for the adornment of a worthier brow 
the laurels he has worn so long. 



Recognized THE three greatest names in the world's literature 
mystery. are tnose o f Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. The 
first belongs to the ancient world and the personality 
behind the name is lost beyond recall in the perished 
records of a remote antiquity. The two last belong 
to the modern world. The former of these belongs 
to Italy ; and Italy is quite certain of the personality 
and cherishes every ascertained detail in the records 
of her most illustrious son. The last of the three 
and who will venture to say it is not the greatest of 
all ? belongs to England, and although nearer to 
us than Dante by three hundred years, the personality 
behind the name is to-day as problematic as that of 
Homer ; his identity being a matter of dispute amongst 
men whose capacity and calmness of judgment are 

The inquiry into the authorship of the Shakespeare 
plays has therefore long since earned a clear title to 
be regarded as something more than a crank problem 
to be classed with such vagaries as the " flat-earth 
theory " or surmises respecting the " inhabitants 
of Mars." It is common in serious works on 
Elizabethan literature to take cognisance of the 

* A'o.'e. The work as originally written begins here. Only a few 
slight verbal adjustments to the preceding pages have been possible. 


problem, thus making the authorship an open question 
still awaiting a decisive answer ; and every theory 
advanced in regard to it either implies or affirms the 
mysteriousness of the whole business. Those who 
maintain the orthodox view, that the plays and poems 
were written by the Stratford citizen, William 
Shakspere, are obliged to recognize the fact that a 
writer, the whole of whose circumstances and antece- 
dents rendered the production of such a work as 
the Shakespeare plays one of the most extraordinary 
feats recorded in history, and who with the intelligence 
attributed to him must have seen that this would 
eventually raise doubts as to the genuineness of his 
claims, deliberately reduced to a minimum all that 
kind of evidence which might have placed his title 
beyond question. For as we have seen, neither that 
part of his life prior to his appearance in the London 
theatre, nor that subsequent to his retirement from 
the stage, nor a single word in his will, shows any 
mark of those dominating literary interests to which 
the writings bear witness. In a word, though willing 
to enjoy the honour, and, maybe, the pecuniary 
advantages of authorship, he must have actually 
gone out of his way to remove the normal traces of 
his literary pursuits ; in this way casting about the 
production of his plays that kind of obscurity which 
belongs to anonymous rather than to acknowledged 

Probably one of the most significant facts connected 
with this paucity of personal literary details, upon 
which we have so much insisted, has been the. issue 
in modern times of literary series without volumes 
on Shakespeare. The original issue of " English 
Men of Letters," including Elizabethan writen, like 


Spenser and Sidney, appeared without a volume 
on the greatest of all. The omission continued through 
later editions, and was only made good at the extreme 
end of the series with the apparent purpose of removing 
an anomaly ; adding to the series thereby, however, a 
most valuable work upon the Shakespeare literature, 
which yet admits frankly the meagreness of the 
material available for a real literary biography. In 
addition to this the long list of the " Great Writer " 
series is still without its volume on England's greatest 
writer. The explanation of all this seems to lie in 
the uncertainty of everything connecting the Shake- 
speare literature with the personality behind it ; 
thus exposing such scholarly works as Sir Sidney Lee's 
" Life of William Shakespeare " to criticism on the 
grounds of the supposititious character of much of 
the biographical details. 

Whilst then the view of authorship hitherto current 
implies its mysteriousness, those who oppose that view 
postulate thereby an uncertain authorship. All there- 
fore must agree that the whole business is a profound 
mystery. Only the Shakespeare tyro believes now- 
adays that William Shakspere's credentials stand on 
the same plane with those of Dante and Milton ; and 
only the too old or too young are disposed to represent 
the sceptics as cranks and fanatics. Our last chapter 
has but outlined the arguments by which we claim 
the incredibility of the old belief has been established ; 
other points will arise in the course of our discussion. 
What we do now is to assume an undecided author- 
ship and attempt to lift the veil from this, the most 
stupendous mystery in the history of the world's 

The objection, though not so frequently raised as 


formerly, is still occasionally met with, that the A solution 
enquiry is unnecessary ; that the great dramatic requu 
masterpieces stand there, that we cannot be deprived 
of them, and that such being the case all we need to 
do is to say that the name " Shakespeare " stands 
for their writer, whoever he may have been, and 
that there the matter may be allowed to rest. Such 
indifference to the personality of the author is usually, 
however, but the counterpart to an indifference to 
the writings themselves. Those who appreciate some 
great good that they have received cannot remain 
indifferent to the personality of the one to whose 
labours they owe it. Such an attitude, moreover, 
would be unjust and ungrateful to the memory of our 
benefactors. And if it be urged that " Shakespeare " 
in leaving things as he did, showed that he wished 
to remain unknown, there is still the possibility that 
arrangements were made for ultimately disclosing 
his identity to posterity, and that these arrangements 
have miscarried. Again, it is one thing for a benefactor 
of mankind to wish to remain unknown, it is quite 
another matter for others to acquiesce in this self- 
effacement. Then there is the possibility that the 
writer's effort to obliterate the memory of himself 
may not have succeeded, and that there may be 
current an incomplete, distorted and unjust con- 
ception of him, which can only be rectified by 
establishing his position as the author of the world's 
greatest dramas. 

The discovery of the author and the establishing 
of his just claims to honour is therefore a duty which 
mankind owes to one of the most illustrious of men ; 
a duty from which Englishmen, at any rate, can never 
be absolved, if by any means the task can be 


accomplished. He is the one Englishman of whom 
it can be most truly said that he belongs to the world ; 
and in any Pantheon of Humanity that may one 
day be set up he is the one of our countrymen who is 
already assured of an eternal place. England's 
negligence to put his identity beyond question would 
therefore be a grave dereliction of national duty if 
by any means his identity could be fully established. 
Problem Accepting the duty thus laid upon us, our first 

task must be to define precisely the character of the 
problem that confronts us. Briefly it is this. We 
have before us a piece of human work of the most 
exceptional character, and the problem is to find 
the man who did it. Thus defined, it is not, as we 
have already remarked, strictly speaking a literary 
problem. Those who enter upon the search must 
obtain much of their data from literary men; they 
must rest a substantial part of their case upon the 
authority of literary men ; and they must, in the long 
run, submit the result of their labours very largely 
to the judgment of literary men. But the most 
expert in literature may be unfitted for prosecuting 
such an investigation, whilst a mind constituted for 
this kind of enquiry may have had only an inferior 
preparation so far as purely literary matters are 

It is the kind of enquiry with which lawyers and 
juries are faced every day. They are called upon to 
examine questions involving highly technical matters 
with which they are not themselves conversant. 
Their method is natnrally to separate what belongs 
to the specialist from what is matter of common sense 
and simple judgment ; to rely upon the expert in 
purely technical matters, and to use their own dis- 


crimination in the sifting of evidence, at the same 
time allowing its full weight to any particular know- 
ledge they may chance to possess in those things 
that pertain specially to the expert's domain. This 
is the course proper to the investigation before us. 
The question, for example, of what is, or is not 
Shakespearean ; what are the distinguishing 
characteristics of Shakespeare's work ; what were 
its relationships to contemporary literature ; between 
what dates the plays appeared ; when the various 
editions were published, are matters which may be 
left, in a general way, to the experts. As, however, 
there is a considerable amount of disagreement amongst 
the specialists (and even a consensus of expert opinion 
may sometimes be at fault) : where it is necessary 
to differ from the experts a thing which is more 
or less inevitable in the breaking of entirely new 
ground, and especially in presenting a new and potent 
factor such differences ought to be clearly indicated 
and adequately discussed. Nevertheless the cumu- 
lative effect of all the evidence gathered together 
ought to be of such convincing weight as to be in a 
measure independent of such personal differences, 
and indeed strong enough to sustain an unavoidable 
admixture of errors and slips in matters of detail. 

Our task being to discover the author of what is " Shake- 
acknowledged generally to be Shakespeare's work, 
the exceptional character of that work ought, under ment 
normal conditions, to facilitate the enquiry. The 
more commonplace a piece of work may be the greater 
must be the proportion of men capable of doing it, 
and the greater the difficulty under ordinary circum- 
stances of placing one's hand on the man who did it. 
The more distinctive the work the more limited 


becomes the number of men capable of performing 
it, and the easier ought it, therefore, to be to discover 
its author. In this case, however, the work is of so 
unusual a character that every competent judge 
would say that the man who actually did it was 
the only man living at the time who was capable of 
doing it. 

Notwithstanding this fact, after three hundred 
years the authorship seems more uncertain to-day 
than at any previous time. The natural inference is 
that special obstacles have intentionally and most 
carefully been laid in the way of the discovery. There 
is no mere accident in the obscurity which hangs 
round the authorship, and the very greatness of the 
work itself is a testimony to the thoroughness of the 
steps taken to avoid disclosure. This fact must be 
borne in mind throughout the enquiry. It is not 
merely a question of finding out the man who did a 
piece of work, but of circumventing a scheme of self- 
concealment devised by one of the most capable 
of intellects. We must not expect, therefore, to find 
that such a man, taking such a course, has somewhere 
or other gone back childishly upon his intentions, 
and purposely placed in his works some indications 
of his identity, in the form of a cryptogram or other 
device. If the concealment were intended to be 
temporary it would hardly be within the works them- 
selves or in any document published at the same 
time that the disclosure would be made. 

Gcnius As it is not from intentional self-disclosure that 

and the we should expect to discover the author, but from 

problem. , . . ,. . , . ., . 

more or less unconscious indications of himself in 
the writings, it is necessary to guard at the outset 
against certain theories as to the possibilities of genius 


which tend to vitiate all reasoning upon the subject. 
Upon hardly any other literary topic has so much 
that is misleading been written. There is a frequent 
assumption that the possession of what we call genius 
renders its owner capable of doing almost anything. 
Now William Shakspere is the one stock illustration of 
this contention. In all other cases, where the whole 
of the circumstances are well known, we may connect 
the achievements of a genius with what may be called 
the external accidents of his life. Though social 
environment is not the source of genius, it certainly 
has always determined the forms in which the faculty 
has clothed itself, and even the particular direction 
which its energies have taken : and in no other class 
of work are the products of genius so moulded by 
social pressure, and even by class relationships, 
as in works involving the artistic use of the mother 
tongue. To what extent the possession of abnormal 
powers may enable a man to triumph over circum- 
stances no one can say ; and if a given mind working 
under specified conditions is actually proved to have 
produced something totally unexpected and at 
variance with the conditions, we can only accept the 
phenomenon, however inexplicable it may appear. 
It is not thus, however, that genius usually manifests 
itself; and, failing conclusive proof, a vast disparity 
or incompatibility between the man and the work 
must always justify a measure of doubt as to the 
genuineness of his pretensions and make us cast 
about for a more likely agent. 

Now no one is likely ever to question the reality 
or the vastness of " Shakespeare's " genius. If he 
had enjoyed every advantage of education, travel, 
leisure, social position and wealth, his plays would 


still remain for all time the testimony to his marvellous 
powers : though naturally not such stupendous 
powers as would have been required to produce the 
same results without the advantages. Consequently, 
if we regard the authorship as an open question we 
shall be much more disposed to look for the author 
amongst those who possessed some or all of those 
advantages than amongst those who possessed none 
of them. That is to say, we must go about the task 
of searching for the author in precisely the same way 
as we should seek for a man who had done some 
ordinary piece of work, and not complicate the problem 
by the introduction of such incommens arables as are 
implied in current theories of genius. 

^ we ^ nc ^ * nat a man ^ nows a thing we must assume 
pieces. that he had it to learn. If he handles his knowledge 

readily and appropriately we must assume an intimacy 
born of an habitual interest, woven into the texture 
of his mind. If he shows himself skilful in doing 
something we must assume that he attained his skill 
by practice. And therefore, if he first comes before 
the world with a masterpiece in any art, exhibiting 
an easy familiarity with the technique of the craft 
and a large fund of precise information in any depart- 
ment, we may conclude that preceding all this there 
must have lain years of secret preparation, during 
which he was accumulating knowledge, and by practice 
in his art, gaining skill and strength for the decisive 
plunge ; storing up, elaborating and perfecting his 
productions so as to make them in some degree worthy 
of that ideal which ever haunts the imagination of 
the supreme artist. 

Most of the other poets differ from Shakespeare in 
that they furnish us with collections of their juvenile 


productions in which, though often enough poor 
stuff, we may trace the promise of their maturer 
genius. Apart from this value, much of it is hardly 
entitled to immortality. Amongst the work of 
Shakespeare the authorities, however, ascribe priority 
in time to " Love's Labour's Lost ; " and what English- 
man that knows his Shakespeare would care to part 
with this work ? We could easily mention quite 
a number of Shakespearean plays of even high rank 
that would more willingly be parted with than this 
one. It would, however, be perfectly gratuitous to 
argue that this work is a masterpiece. 

Masterpieces, however, are the fruits of matured 
powers. Dante was over fifty years of age before 
he finished his immortal work ; Milton about fifty- 
five when he completed " Paradise Lost." Quite a 
long list might be made out illustrating this principle 
in works of even the second order ; Cervantes at 
sixty producing " Don Quixote," Scott at forty-three 
giving us the first of the Waverley Novels, Defoe at 
fifty-eight publishing " Robinson Crusoe " ; Fielding 
at forty-two giving " Tom Jones," and Manzoni at 
forty " I Promessi Sposi." Or, if we turn to Shake- 
speare's own domain, the drama, we find that Moliere, 
after a lifetime of dramatic enthusiasm and production, 
gave forth his masterpieces between the ages of forty 
and fifty, his greatest work "Tartuffe" appearing just 
at the middle of that period (age forty-five), whilst 
Goethe's " Faust " was the outcome of a long 
literary lifetime, its final touches being given only 
a few months before his death at the age of eighty-two. 

Drama, in its supreme manifestation, that is to 
say as a capable and artistic expcsition of our many- 
sided human nature and not mere " inexplicable 


dumb-shows and noise," is an art in which, more 
than in others, mere precocity of talent will not suffice 
for the creation of masterpieces. In this case 
genius must be supplemented by a wide and intense 
experience of life and much practice in the technical 
work of staging plays. Poetic geniuses who have not 
had this experience, and have cast their work in 
dramatic form, may have produced great literature, 
but not great dramas. Yet, with such a general 
experience as these few facts illustrate, we are asked 
to believe that a young man William Shakspere 
was but twenty-six in the year 1590, which marks 
roughly the beginning of the Shakespearean period 
began his career with the composition of masterpieces 
without any apparent preparation, and kept pouring 
out plays spontaneously at a most amazing rate. 
He appears before us at the age of twenty-nine as 
the author of a superb poem of no less than twelve 
hundred lines, and leaves no trace of those slight youth- 
ful effusions by means of which a poet learns his art 
and develops his powers. If, however, we can dis- 
abuse our minds of fantastic notions of genius, regard 
the Shakespearean dramas as anonymous, and look 
at them with the eyes of common sense, we shall be 
inclined rather to view the outpouring of dramas 
from the year 1590 onwards as the work of a more 
matured man, who had had the requisite intellectual 
and dramatic preparation, and who was elaborating, 
finishing off and letting loose a flood of dramas that 
he had been accumulating and working at during 
many preceding years. 

When in 1855 Walt Whitman gave to the world 
his "Leaves of Grass," Emerson greeted the work and 
its writer in these words; " I find it the most extra- 


ordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has 
yet contributed ... I greet you at the beginning 
of a great career, which yet must have had a long fore- 
ground somewhere." This concluding surmise was 
merely common sense, and, as the world now knows, 
perfectly true. What is wanted is to apply the same 
principle and the same common sense to work of a 
higher order, and to recognize that if by the year 
1592, by which time we are assured that the stream of 
Shakespearean drama was in full flood, Shakespeare 
was manifesting an exceptional facility in the 
production of works that were at once great literature 
and great stage plays, there had been " a long fore- 
ground somewhere." 

The considerations we have been urging in this A modern 
chapter are necessary for getting the problem into pro 
its right perspective and on the same plane of vision 
as the other problems and interests of life. We must 
free the problem from illogical entanglements and 
miraculous assumptions, and look for scientific relation- 
ship between cause and effect. This must be the 
first step towards its solution. It may appear, how- 
ever, that if it is simply a question of searching for 
a particular man, according to the same methods 
which we would employ in any other case, that the 
man should have been discovered long before now, 
if the material for his discovery were really available ; 
and that as he has not been discovered after three 
hundred years the necessary data do not exist, and 
his identity must remain for ever a mystery. It 
must not be forgotten, however, that " Shakespeare " 
had to wait until the Nineteenth Century for his full 
literary appreciation ; and this was essential to the 
mere raising of the problem. " Not until two 


centuries had passed after his death," says Emerson, 
" did any criticism which we think adequate begin 
to appear." Recognition he had, no doubt, in 
abundance before that time. But that exact and 
critical appreciation which made it possible to dis- 
tinguish the characteristics of his work ; and begin to 
separate true Shakespearean work from spurious ; 
that enabled a Shakespearean authority to condemn 
" Titus Andronicus " as " repulsive balderdash " ; 
which has enabled us to say of " Timon of Athens" 
that it contains but " a fragment from the master 
hand " ; that " Pericles " is '' mainly from other 
hands " than Shakespeare's ; that " Henry VIII " 
was completed by Fletcher ; all this belongs to the 
last hundred years, and has only been preparing the 
way for raising the question of Shakespeare's identity. 
Even up to the present day the problem has hardly 
passed definitely beyond the negative or sceptical 
stage of doubting what is called the Stratfordian view, 
the work of Sir George Greenwood being the first 
milestone in the process of scientific research. The 
Baconian view, though it has helped to popularize 
the negative side, and to bring into prominence certain 
contents of Shakespeare's works, has done little for 
the positive aspect except to institute a misleading 
method of enquiry : a kind of pick-and-try process, 
leading to quite a number of rival candidates for 
Shakespeare honours, and setting up an inferior form 
of Shakespearean investigation, the " cryptogram." 
Amongst all the literature on the subject, we have 
so far been able to discover no attempt, starting from 
an assumed anonymity of the plays, to institute a 
systematic search for the author. Yet surely this 
is the point towards which the modern movement 


of Shakespearean study has been tending ; and once 
instituted it must continue until either the author is 
discovered or the attempt abandoned as hopeless. 


Failing the discovery of some new and sensational 
documentary evidence, if any headway is to be made 
towards the solution of the problem it must result 
very largely from the inauguration of new methods 
of investigation. Even when these lead to conclusions 
which have ultimately to be abandoned they give 
cohesion and definite direction to the efforts that are 
made, and thus assist in clearing up the situation, 
suggesting new methods, and preparing the way for 
more reliable conclusions. 

The writings in question not having been produced 
in some distant country or in a remote age, but here, 
in England, in an age so near as to have transmitted 
to us masses of details relating to most unimportant 
individuals, and yet so little advance having, as yet, 
been made in the direction of either solving the Shake- 
speare problem or of pronouncing it insoluble, confirms 
the impression that , in addition to the mystery purposely 
thrown over the authorship, the investigation has 
not yet been prosecuted on right lines. Prepossessions 
of one kind or another have stood in the way of 
sounder methods ; for people who spend themselves 
in glorifying every new detail discovered about the 
Stratford man, or who lose themselves in the 
labyrinths of Baconian cryptograms, can hardly be 
expected to assume the impartiality necessary for 
the invention of new and reliable instruments of 


enquiry. The clearing out of all this impedimenta 
is therefore the first essential condition of any real 

Ridding the mind of all such personal pre- 
possessions, we must now make a beginning from some 
hitherto untried standpoint. The standpoint adopted 
at the outset of these researches, and already indicated, 
was to assume the complete anonymity of the writings, 
and to apply to the search for the author just those 
ordinary methods which we should have had to apply 
if it had been some practical question involving 
important issues of life and conduct. 

What then is the usual common-sense method 
of searching for an unknown man who has performed 
some particular piece of work ? It is simply to 
examine closely the work itself, to draw from the 
examination as definite a conception as possible of the 
man who did it, to form some idea of where he would 
be likely to be found, and then to go and look for a 
man who answers to the supposed description. When 
some such man has been found we next proceed to 
gather together all the particulars that might in any 
way connect him with the work in question. We 
rely, in such cases, very largely upon what is called 
circumstantial evidence ; mistakenly supposed by 
some to be evidence of an inferior order, but in practice 
the most reliable form of proof we have. Such 
evidence may at first be of the most shadowy de- 
scription ; but as we proceed in the work of gathering 
together facts and reducing them to order, as we 
hazard our guesses and weigh probabilities, as we 
subject our theories to all available tests, we find that 
the case at last either breaks down or becomes 
confirmed by such an accumulation of support that 


doubt is no longer possible. The predominating 
element in what we call circumstantial evidence is 
that of coincidences. A few coincidences we may 
treat as simply interesting ; a number of coincidences 
we regard as remarkable ; a vast accumulation of 
extraordinary coincidences we accept as conclusive 
proof. And when the case has reached this stage 
we look upon the matter as finally settled, until, as 
may happen, something of a most unusual character 
appears to upset all our reasoning. If nothing of 
this kind ever appears, whilst every newly dis- 
covered fact adds but confirmation to the conclusion, 
that conclusion is accepted as a permanently estab- 
lished truth. 

The above is an epitome of the method of research 
and the line of argument we have followed. In 
reviewing the work done the critic may disagree with 
one or other of the points on which we have insisted ; 
he may regard this or that argument as trifling or 
insufficient in itself, and it is possible we should agree 
with many of the several objections he might raise. 
It may even transpire that, notwithstanding all our 
efforts to ensure accuracy, we have fallen into serious 
mistakes not only in minor details but even upon 
important points : a danger to which the wanderer 
into unwonted fields in specially liable. It is not, 
however, upon any point separately, but upon the 
manner in which all fit in with one another, and 
form a coherent whole, that the case rests ; and it is 
this that we desire should be kept in mind. We 
proceed, therefore, to present a short statement of 
the details of the method of enquiry, outlining its 
several stages as determined prior to entering on the 


1. As a first step it would be necessary to examine 
the works of Shakespeare, almost as though they 
had appeared for the first time, unassociated with 
the name or personality of any writer ; and from 
such an examination draw what inferences we could 
as to his character and circumstances. The various 
features of these would have to be duly tabulated, 
the statement so arrived at forming the groundwork 
of all subsequent investigation. 

2. The second step would be to select from amongst 
the various characteristics some one outstanding 
feature which might serve best as a guide in proceed- 
ing to search for the author, by furnishing some para- 
mount criterion, and at the same time indicating in 
some measure where the author was to be looked for. 

3. With this instrument in our hands the third step 
would be to proceed to the great task of searching 
for the man. 

4. In the event of discovering any man who should 
adequately fulfil the prime condition, the fourth step 
would be to test the selection by reference to the 
various features in the original characterization; 
and, in the event of his failing in a marked degree 
to meet essential conditions, it would be necessary 
to reject this first selection and resume the search. 

5. Supposing the discovery of some man who 
should in a general way have passed successfully 
through this crucial test, the next step would be 
to reverse the whole process. Having worked from 
Shakespeare's writings to the man, we should then 
begin with the man ; taking new and outstanding 
facts about his performances and personality, we 
should have to enquire to what extent these were 
reflected in Shakespeare's works. 


6. Then, in the event of the enquiry yielding satis- 
factory results up to this point we should next have 
to accumulate corroborative evidence and apply 
tests arising out of the course of the investigation. 

.7. The final step would be to develop as far as 
possible any traces of a personal connection between 
the newly accredited and the formerly reputed authors 
of the works. 

This, then, was the method outlined at the start, 
and, in the main, adhered to throughout the investiga- 
tions we are about to describe : one which might be 
justly styled a coldly analytical process, quite at 
variance with literary traditions and the synthetic 
soul of poetry but which, it appeared, was the method 
proper to the case. The danger of the plan was, 
not that we might have too many claimants for the 
honour, but that its severity might cause us to pass 
over the very man for whom we were looking, suppos- 
ing his name and personality were really accessible 
to us. At any rate, it avoided the random picking 
first of one man and then of another in the hope of 
alighting eventually on the right one : after the 
manner of certain other investigations. 

Supposing, and it is a perfectly reasonable 
possibility, that every other trace of the writer has 
been effectually destroyed beyond what we have in 
Shakespeare's work, then, of course, the enquiry 
must in the end prove futile ; for any false selection 
would almost certainly break down under the various 
tests, leaving an altogether negative result for our 
efforts. In the event of anything like a really good 
case being made out for any man there seemed a 
chance that other investigators with more leisure, 
greater resources, and a readier access to necessary 


documents than the present writer possesses, might 
be led to more important discoveries. 

Opinions may differ as to the soundness or 
appropriateness of the course outlined ; but, as it is 
the result of researches pursued in accordance with 
it that we are about to describe, it was necessary to 
lay bare the method at the outset, however crude 
or commonplace it may appear for so lofty a theme. 



THE first task following the course just outlined 
must be to form, from a general survey of the position 
as a whole, and from a review of the contents of the 
writings, some conception of the outstanding charac- 
teristics of the author. This should include some 
legitimate surmises as to what we might expect to be 
the conditions of his life, and the relationship of his 
contemporaries towards him. 
Although we are obliged, from the nature of our Of 

LI j.i u- 11 nized genius, 

problem, to assume that his contemporanes generally and 
were not aware of his producing the great works, it 
is hardly probable that one endowed with so com- 
manding a genius should have been able to conceal 
the greatness of his powers wholly from those with 
whom he habitually associated ; and therefore we may 
reasonably expect to find him a man of recognized and 
recorded genius. At the same time the mysteriousness 
in which he has chosen to involve the production of 
his works ought not to have escaped the observation 
of others . Consequently we may suppose that he would 
appear to many of the people about him something 
of the enigma he has proved to posterity. We must not 
look, however, for an exact representation of actual 
facts in any recorded impressions of the personality 
and actions of the man. Between what contemporary 
records represent him as being, and what he really 
was, we ought, indeed, to be prepared to find some 



striking discrepancies : the important thing is that 
there must be some notable agreement in essentials. 
Certain discordances may, however, become important 
evidence in his favour. For example, a man who has 
produced so large an amount of work of the highest 
quality, and was not seen doing it, must have passed 
a considerable part of his life in what would appear 
to others like doing nothing of any consequence. The 
record of a wasted genius is, therefore, what we might 
reasonably look for in any contemporary account of 

Apparent Again, unless some special reasons should appear 

eccentricity. ^ o accoun t for his self-effacement we are bound to 
recognize that the whole manner of his anonymity 
marks the writer as being, in a manner, something of 
an eccentric : his nature, or his circumstances, or 
probably both, were not normal. And, when the indi- 
cations of his intense impressionability are considered, 
along with his peculiar power of entering into and 
reflecting vividly the varied moods, fierce passions 
and subtle movements of man's mind and heart, when 
the magnitude of his creative efforts is weighed, and 
account taken of the mental exhaustion which fre- 
quently follows from such efforts, we may even suppose 
that he was not altogether immune from the penalties 
that have sometimes accompanied such powers and 
performances. Altogether we may say his poetic 
temperament and the exuberance of his poetic fancy 
mark him as a man much more akin mentally to 
Byron or Shelley than to the placid Shakespeare 
suggested by the Stratford tradition. Add to this his 
marvellous insight into human nature, revealing to 
him, as it must have done, such springs and motives 
of human actions as would be hidden from his asso- 


elates, and we may naturally expect to find him giving 
vent to himself in acts and words which must have 
seemed extraordinary and inexplicable to other men : 
for the man who sees most deeply into the inner 
workings of the human mind must often act upon 
knowledge of which he may not speak. It ought not, 
therefore, to surprise us if his contemporaries found 
him, not merely eccentric in his bearing, as they have 
frequently found the genius whom they could not 
understand, but even on occasion, guilty of what 
seemed to them vagaries of a pronounced type. 

The possession of abnormal powers, and a highly A man 
strung temperament like that of Byron or of Shelley, 

interposes a barrier between a man and his social tlonal - 
environment. The mediocrity, and what seems like 
the insensibility of the average people about him, 
place him in an irritating milieu, against which he 
tends to protect himself by a mannerism, sometimes 
merely cold and aloof, at times even repellent or 
defiant. To be a general social favourite a man needs 
to combine with personal graces a certain average of 
intellect and sensibility, which assimilates him to 
the generality of the people about him. The poetic 
genius has always, therefore, been more or less a 
man apart, whose very aloofness is provocative of hos- 
tility in smaller men. Towards these he tries to assume 
a mask, often most difficult to penetrate but which, 
once pierced, may necessitate a complete reversal of 
former judgments one of the most difficult things 
to accomplish once such judgment has passed beyond 
mere individual opinion, and has taken firm root in 
the social mind. 
We venture to say that, whatever course the dis- Apparent 

.,, . ,. , L e . inferiority. 

cussion may take, either now or m a distant future, 


one of the most serious hindrances to the formation 
of correct views will be the necessity of reversing 
judgments that have had a longstanding social sanction. 
We shall first have to dissociate from the writings the 
conception of such an author as the steady, com- 
placent, business-like man-of-t he-world, suggested by 
the Stratford Shakspere. Then there will be the more 
arduous task of raising to a most exalted position the 
name and personality possibly of some obscure man 
hitherto regarded as quite unequal to the work with 
which he is at last to be credited. And this will further 
compel us to re-read our greatest national classics from 
a totally new personal standpoint . The work in question 
being the highest literary product of the age, it cannot 
be otherwise than that the author, whoever he may 
have been, when he is discovered must seem in some 
measure below the requirements of the situation ; 
unequal, that is, to the production of such work. We 
shall therefore be called upon in his case radically to 
modify and correct a judgment of three hundred 
years' standing. 

An English- Although apparently unequal to the full measure 
literary f Shakespeare's capacity, there is a natural limit to 
tastes - such allowable inferiority in appearance. It might, 

in a given instance, be so great as to make it absurd 
to entertain the thought of connecting the man with 
the work. His writings being masterpieces of English 
literature, and all the world's literary masterpieces 
having been produced by men who wrote in their 
mother-tongue of matters in which they were keenly 
interested, and to whom writing, or more properly 
speaking the mental occupation of composing, has 
been a master passion, we are entitled to require in 
the person put forward as the author a body of 


credentials corresponding to the character of the work. 
That is to say, we are bound to assume that the writer 
was an Englishman with dominating literary tastes, 
to whom the classical literature of the world, the history 
of England during the period of the Lancastrians and 
Yorkists, and Italian literature, which form the staple 
materials of his work, were matters of absorbing 
interest, furnishing the milieu in which his mind 
habitually worked. To think of him as one who 
made an excursion into literature in order to win a 
competency for himself, and who retired from literary 
pursuits when that purpose had been served, is to 
contradict everything that is known of the production 
of such masterpieces. Other interests he may have 
had, just as men who were chiefly occupied with social 
and political affairs, dabbled also in literature, poetry, 
or the drama ; but what to them was a mere hobby 
or pastime would be to him a central and consuming 
purpose. Unless, then, we are to recast all our ideas 
of how the great things of literature have been 
achieved, we cannot think of him otherwise than as 
one who had been swept by the irresistible force of 
his own genius into the strong literary current of his 
times. The fact that he was himself busy producing 
such works, he may have hidden from the men of his 
day, but it is inconceivable that he should have hidden 
from them where his chief interest lay. 

Again, the great mass of the literature he has given Enthusiasm 
to the world being in the form of dramas, we may for drama - 
repeat in relation to this particular class of work what 
has already been said of literature generally : namely, 
that an intense, even passionate devotion to the special 
form of art in which his masterpieces are produced is 
invariably characteristic of a genius. And although, 


again, this writer's absorption may have been partially 
concealed, it is hardly possible that it could have been 
wholly so. We are entitled, therefore, to expect that 
" Shakespeare " appeared to his contemporaries as a 
man over whom the theatre and all that pertained to 
play-acting exercised an irresistible fascination. 

Carlyle treats of this matter as though play-writing 
were but an incidental element in " Shakespeare's " 
work : almost an accident of circumstances, arising 
out of the material necessities of life. He " had to 
write for the Globe Playhouse : his great soul had to 
crush itself, as it could, into that and no other mould " 
the particular mould in which he worked having 
evidently no necessary connection with his distinctive 
genius. For what perversions of fundamental truths 
has not the orthodox view of the authorship been 
responsible ! The world's greatest productions in a 
given art coming from a man to whom the art and its 
essential accessories furnished but an uncongenial 
medium of expression ! His special domain chosen 
for him, not by the force of his peculiar genius, but 
by the need for money ! If this proved true, the plays 
of Shakespeare would, from that point of view alone, 
probably remain for all time unique amongst the 
masterpieces of art. It is much more reasonable, 
however, to suppose that the dramatist was one who 
was prepared to give both himself and his substance 
to the drama, rather than one who was engaged in 
extorting a subsistence from it. 

That he was one over whom the theatre exercised a 
strong attraction is, moreover, borne out by the 
contents of the plays themselves. There is no better 
key to the interests that stir the enthusiasm of poets 
than, on the one hand the imagery they employ, and 


on the other the passages in their works which arrest 
the attention of their readers and fix themselves in 
the popular memory. It hardly needs pointing out 
how frequently in Shakespeare's works, the simile 
of the " stage " recurs, and how commonly the passages 
are quoted. We must expect, therefore, to find the 
author of the writings well known as a literary and 
dramatic enthusiast. 

To represent him as a man who, having made a Contrast to 
snug competency for himself, left dramatic pursuits Shakespeare! 
behind him voluntarily whilst still in the full enjoy- 
ment of his marvellous powers, abandoning some of 
his unfinished manuscripts to be finished by strangers 
and given to the world as his, in order that he might 
be at liberty to devote himself more exclusively to 
houses, lands and business generally, is to suggest a 
miracle of self-stultification in himself and an equal 
miracle of credulity in us. Yet this is the exact position 
into which the orthodox view forces so eminent a 
scholar and literary authority as Sir Sidney Lee. 
" Shakespeare," he says, " in middle life brought to 
practical affairs a singularly sane and sober tempera- 
ment," acting on the following advice, " ' when thou 
feelest thy purse well lined buy thou some piece of 
lordship in the country, that growing weary of playing, 
thy money may bring thee to dignity and reputation.' 
It was this prosaic course that Shakespeare followed. 
... If in 1611 Shakespeare finally abandoned dra- 
matic composition, there seems little doubt that he 
left with the manager of the company more than one 
play that others were summoned at a later date to 
complete." Thus must incongruities be piled in- 
creasingly upon one another if we are to make the man 
who has got himself credited with the authorship 


adjusted to the role that Fate has called upon him 
to play. Once, however, the old theory is repudiated 
we are bound to look for an author who believed with 
his whole soul in the greatness of drama and the high 
humanizing possibilities of the actor's vocation. 
Known as Whether attention be directed to the contents of 
poet t* 16 dramas or to his other writings, no one will question 

his title to a foremost place amongst the lyric poets 
of his time. It is questionable whether any other 
dramatist has enriched his plays with an equal quantity 
to say nothing of the superior quality of lyrical 
verse ; whilst his sonnets, " Venus and Adonis," and 
other lyric poems, place him easily amongst the best 
of the craftsmen in that art. Now, although his 
contemporaries may not have known that he was 
producing masterpieces of drama, it is extremely 
improbable that his production of lyric verse was as 
completely concealed. He may have hidden lengthy 
poems like " Venus and Adonis " or " Lucrece," or 
brought them out under a nom-de-plume. But that no 
fugitive pieces of lyric verse should ever have gained 
currency under his own name is hardly possible. The 
writer with the facile pen for lyrics is only too prone 
to throw out his spontaneous products lavishly, some- 
times in a cruder form than his better judgment would 
approve. Whilst, therefore, he may have concealed 
the actual authorship in the case of works involving 
prolonged and arduous application, we may be sure 
that some of those short lyrics, which are the spon- 
taneous expression of passing moods, would be known 
and appreciated. We may expect, therefore, that he 
was actually known as a writer of lyric verse. 

At the same time it would be unreasonable to look for 
anything like a large volume of such poems in addition 


to the Shakespearean writings. This would have 
necessitated his living an additional lifetime. A few 
scattered fragments of lyric verse, under his own 
name, is all that we should expect to find. Elizabethan 
poetry is, however, characterized by the mass of its 
lyric pieces of unknown or doubtful authorship. The 
mere fact that a person's name or initials are attached 
to a fragment is never a sufficient guarantee that he 
actually wrote it. Tradition alone, or the mere fact 
that it was found among his papers, may be the only 
ground upon which he is credited with the authorship. 
Nevertheless, after full allowance has been made for 
the peculiar conditions under which the writing and 
issuing of poetry was at that time conducted, it remains 
highly probable that the writer of Shakespeare's 
works has left something authentic published under 
his own name amongst the lyric poetry of the days of 
Queen Elizabeth. 

In no matter has the hitherto accepted view of the classical 
authorship of the Shakespearean writings played such 
sad havoc with common sense as in the matter of the 
relationship of genius to learning. Place the documents 
before any mixed jury of educated, semi-educated, and 
ignorant men, men of practical common sense, and 
stupid men, and, unless for some prepossession, they 
would unanimously declare, without hesitation, that 
the writer was one whose education had been of the 
very best that the times could offer. And even a 
moderately educated set of men would assure us that 
it was not the mere bookish learning of the poor, 
plodding student who in loneliness had wrested from 
an adverse fate an education beyond what was enjoyed 
by his class. There is nothing in Shakespeare suggestive 
of the close poring over books by which a man of 


scanty educational advantages might have^embellished 
his pages with learned allusions. Everything indicates 
a man in contact at every point with life itself, and to 
whom books were but the adjunct to an habitual 
intercourse with men of intellectual interests similar 
to his own. His is the learning which belonged to 
a man who added to the advantages of a first class 
education at the start, a continued association with 
the best educated people of his day. No ordinary 
theory of genius would account for the production of 
the plays otherwise ; the intervention of some preter- 
natural agency would be required. 

In respect of the leading feature of his learning 
one would judge it to have lain in the direction of 
classic poetry. There is " law " in his works, but it 
is open to question whether it is the law of a pro- 
fessional lawyer, or that of an intelligent man who had 
had a fair amount of important business to transact 
with lawyers, and was himself interested in the study 
of law as many laymen have been. It may be claimed 
that there is " medicine " in his writings, but it is 
more suggestive of the man accustomed to treat his 
own common ailments, than that of a medical man 
accustomed to handle patients. There are indications 
of the dawning movement of modern science in his 
works, but they are such as suggest a man alive to the 
intellectual currents of his time, but no enthusiast for 
a merely materialistic science. But over all these there 
presides^constantly a dominant interest in classic poetry. 

Summing up the general inferences treated in this 
chapter, supplemented by conclusions drawn from the 
preceding one, we may say of Shakespeare that he 
was : 

i. A matured man of recognized genius. 


2. Apparently eccentric and mysterious. 

3. Of intense sensibility a man apart. 

4. Unconventional. 

5. Not adequately appreciated. 

6. Of pronounced and known literary tastes. 

7. An enthusiast in the world of drama. 

8. A lyric poet of recognized talent. 

9. Of superior education classical the habitual 

associate of educated people. 


OUR object in the last chapter being to form a con- 
ception of some of the broader features of the life and 
character of Shakespeare, our present object must be 
to view the writings at closer quarters and with greater 
attention to details so as to deduce, if possible, some 
of his more distinctive characteristics. 

Feudalism. It is hardly necessary to insist at the present day 
that Shakespeare has preserved for all time, in living 
human characters, much of what was best worth 
remembering and retaining in the social relationship 
of the Feudal order of the Middle Ages. Whatever 
conclusion we may have to come to about his religion, 
it is undeniable that, from the social and political point 
of view, Shakespeare is essentially a medievalist. The 
following sentence from Carlyle may be taken as re- 
presentative of much that might be quoted from 
several writers bearing in the same direction: "As 
Dante the Italian man was sent into our world to 
embody musically the Religion of the Middle Ages, 
the Religion of our Modern Europe, its Inner Life ; 
so Shakespeare we may say embodies for us the 
Outer Life of our Europe as developed then, its 
chivalries, courtesies, humours, ambitions, what prac- 
tical way of thinking, acting, looking at the world, 
men then had." 
When, therefore, we find that the great Shake- 



spearean plays were written at a time when men were 
revelling in what they considered to be a newly-found 
liberation from Medievalism, it is evident that 
Shakespeare was one whose sympathies, and probably 
his antecedents, linked him on more closely to the 
old order than to the new : not the kind of man we 
should expect to rise from the lower middle-class 
population of the towns. Whether as a lord or a 
dependent we should expect to find him one who saw 
life habitually from the standpoint of Feudal relation- 
ships in which he had been born and bred : and in view 
of what has been said of his education it would, of 
course, be as lord rather than as a dependent that we 
should expect to meet him. 
It might be, however, that he was only linked to shakes P eare 


Feudalism by cherished family traditions ; a surviving Aristocrat, 
representative, maybe, of some decayed family. A 
close inspection of his work, however, reveals a more 
intimate personal connection with aristocracy than 
would be furnished by mere family tradition. Kings 
and queens, earls and countesses, knights and ladies 
move on and off his stage " as to the manner born." 
They are no mere tinselled models representing me- 
chanically the class to which they belong, but living 
men and women. It is rather his ordinary " citizens " 
that are the automata walking woodenly on to the 
stage to speak for their class. His " lower-orders " 
never display that virile dignity and largeness of 
character which poets like Burns, who know the class 
from within, portray in their writings. Even Scott 
comes much nearer to truth in this matter than does 
Shakespeare. It is, therefore, not merely his power 
of representing royalty and the nobility in vital, 
passionate characters, but his failure to do the same 


in respect to other classes that marks Shakespeare as 
a member of the higher aristocracy. The defects of 
the playwriter become in this instance more illuminating 
and instructive than do his qualities. Genius may 
undoubtedly enable a man to represent with some 
fidelity classes to which he does not belong ; it will 
hardly at the same time weaken his power of repre- 
senting truly his own class. In a great dramatic artist 
we demand universality of power within his province ; 
but he shows that catholicity, not by representing 
human society in all its forms and phases, but by 
depicting our common human nature in the entire 
range of its multiple and complex forces ; and he does 
this best when he shows us that human nature at work 
in the classes with which he is most intimate. The 
suggestion of an aristocratic author for the plays is, 
therefore, the simple common sense of the situation, 
and is no more in opposition to modern democratic 
tendencies, as one writer loosely hints, than the belief 
that William Shakspere was indebted to aristocratic 
patrons and participated in the enclosure of common 

An aristocratic outlook upon life marks the plays 
of other dramatists of the time besides Shakespeare. 
These were known, however, in most cases to have 
been university men, with a pronounced contempt 
for the particular class to which William Shakspere 
of Stratford belonged. It is a curious fact, however, 
that a writer like Creizenach, who seems never to 
doubt the Stratfordian view, nevertheless recognizes 
that " Shakespeare " was more purely and truly 
aristocratic in his outlook than were the others. In 
a word, the plays which are recognized as having the 
most distinct marks of aristocracy about them, are 


supposed to have been produced by the playwright 
furthest removed from aristocracy in his origin and 

We feel entitled, therefore, to claim for Shakespeare 
high social rank, and even a close proximity to royalty 

Assuming him to have been an Englishman of the Lancastrian 
higher aristocracy, we turn now to these parts of his s y m P athies - 
writings that may be said to deal with his own phase 
of life, namely, his English historical plays, to seek for 
distinctive traces of position and personality. Putting 
aside the greater part of the plays " Henry VI," parts 
i and 2, as not being from Shakespeare's pen, and also 
the first acts of " Henry VI," part 3, for the same 
reason, we may say that he deals mainly with the 
troubled period between the upheaval in the reign of 
Richard II and the ending of the Wars of the Roses 
by the downfall of Richard III at the Battle of Bos- 
worth. The outstanding feature of this work is his 
pronounced sympathy with the Lancastrian cause. 
Even the play of " Richard II," which shows a measure 
of sympathy with the king whom the Lancastrians 
ousted, is full of Lancastrian partialities. " Shake- 
speare " had no sympathy with revolutionary 
movements and the overturning of established govern- 
ments. Usurpation of sovereignty would, therefore, 
be repugnant to him, and his aversion is forcibly 
expressed in the play ; but Henry of Lancaster is 
represented as merely concerned with claiming his 
rights, desiring to uphold the authority of the crown, 
but driven by the injustice and perversity of Richard 
into an antagonism he strove to avoid. Finally, it is 
the erratic wilfulness of the king, coupled with Henry's 
belief that the king had voluntarily abdicated, that 


induces Bolingbroke to accept the throne. In a word, 
the play of " Richard II " is a kind of dramatic 
apologia for the Lancastrians. Then comes the glori- 
fication of Prince Hal, " Shakespeare's " historic hero. 
Henry VI is the victim of misfortunes and machinations, 
and is handled with great tenderness and respect. 
The play of " Richard III " lays bare the internal 
discord of the Yorkist faction, the downfall and de- 
struction of the Yorkist arch-villain, and the triumph 
of Henry of Richmond, the representative of the 
House of Lancaster, who had received the nomination 
and benediction of Henry VI. We might naturally 
expect, therefore, to find Shakespeare a member of 
some family with distinct Lancastrian leanings. 
Italian Having turned our attention to the different classes 

enthusiasm. o j pj a y s we are again faced with the question of his 
Italianism. Not only are we impressed by the large 
number of plays with an Italian setting or derived 
from Italian sources, but we feel that these plays carry 
us to Italy in a way that " Hamlet " never succeeds 
in carrying us to Denmark, nor his French plays in 
carrying us to France. Even in " Hamlet " he seems 
almost to go out of his way to drag in a reference to 
Italy. Those who know Italy and are familiar with 
the " Merchant of Venice " tell us that there are 
clear indications that Shakespeare knew Venice and 
Milan personally. However that may be, it is impos- 
sible for those who have had, at any time, an interest 
in nothing more than the language and literature of 
Italy, to resist the feeling that there is thrown about 
these plays an Italian atmosphere suggestive of one 
who knew and felt attracted towards the country. 
Everything bespeaks an Italian enthusiast. 
Sport. Going still more closely into detail, it has often been 


observed that Shakespeare's interest in animals is 
seldom that of the naturalist, almost invariably that 
of the sportsman ; and some of the supporters of the 
Stratfordian tradition have sought to establish a 
connection between this fact and the poaching of 
William Shakspere. When, however, we look closely 
into the references we are struck with his easy famili- 
arity with all the terms relating to the chase. Take 
Shakespeare's entire sportsman's vocabulary, find out 
the precise significance of each unusual term, and the 
reader will probably get a more distinct vision of the 
sporting pastimes of the aristocracy of that day than 
he would get in any other way. Add to this all the 
varied vocabulary relating to hawks and falconry, 
observe the insistence with which similes, metaphors 
and illustrations drawn from the chase and hawking 
appear throughout his work, and it becomes impossible 
to resist the belief that he was a man who had at one 
time found his recreation and delight in these aristo- 
cratic pastimes. 

His keen susceptibility to the influence of music Music, 
is another characteristic that frequently meets us ; 
and most people will agree that the whole range of 
English literature may be searched in vain for passages 
that more accurately or more fittingly describe the 
charm and power of music than do certain lines in 
the pages of Shakespeare. The entire passage on music 
in the final act of " The Merchant of Venice," be- 
ginning " Look how the floor of heaven," right on to 
the closing words " Let no such man be trusted," is 
itself music, and is probably as grand a paeon in honour 
of music as can be found in any language. 

Nothing could well be clearer in itself, nor more at Money 
variance with what is known of the man William matters - 


Shakspere than the dramatist's attitude towards 
money. It is the man who lends money gratis, and so 
" pulls down the rate of usuance" in Venice, that is 
the hero of the play just mentioned. His friend is the 
incorrigible spendthrift and borrower Bassanio, who 
has " disabled his estate by showing a more swelling 
port than his faint means would grant continuance," 
and who at last repairs his broken fortunes by marriage. 
Almost every reference to money and purses is of the 
loosest description, and, by implication, teach an 
improvidence that would soon involve any man's 
financial affairs in complete chaos. It is the arch- 
villain, lago, who urges " put money in thy purse," 
and the contemptible politician, Polonius, who gives 
the careful advice " neither a borrower nor a lender 
be "; whilst the money-grubbing Shylock, hoist with 
his own petard, is the villain whose circumvention 
seems to fill the writer with an absolute joy. 

It ought not to surprise us if the author himself 
turned out to be one who had felt the grip of the 
money-lender, rather than a man like the Stratford 
Shakspere, who, after he had himself become pros- 
perous, prosecuted others for the recovery of petty sums. 

Of the Stratford man, Pope asserts that " Gain not 
glory winged his roving flight." And Sir Sidney Lee 
amplifies this by saying that " his literary attainments 
and successes were chiefly valued as serving the prosaic 
end of providing permanently for himself and his 
daughters." Yet in one of his early plays ("Henry IV," 
part 2) " Shakespeare " expresses himself thus : 

" How quickly nature falls into revolt 
When gold becomes her object. 
For this the foolish over-careful fathers 
Have broke their sleep with thoughts, their brains with care, 
Their bones with industry ; 
For this they have engrossed and piled up 
The canker 'd heaps of strange achieved gold." 


From its setting the passage is evidently the ex- 
pression of the writer's own thought rather than an 
element of the dramatization. 

Finally we have, again in an early play, his great 
hero of tragic love, Romeo, exclaiming : 

" There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls, 
Doing more murders in this loathsome world 
Than these poor compounds." 

In a word, the Stratfordian view requires us to write 
our great dramatist down as a hypocrite. The attitude 
of William Shakspere to money matters may have 
had about it all the " sobriety of personal aims and 
sanity of mental attitude " claimed for it. In which 
case, the more clearly he had represented his own 
attitude in his works the greater would have been 
their fidelity to objective fact. Money is a social 
institution, created by the genius of the human race 
to facilitate the conduct of life ; and, under normal 
conditions, it is entitled to proper attention and respect. 
Under given conditions, however, it may so imperil 
the highest human interests, as to justify an intense 
reaction against it, and even to call for repudiation 
and contempt from those moral guides, amongst whom 
we include the great poets, who are concerned with 
the higher creations of man's intellectual and moral 
nature. Such, we judge, was the dramatist's attitude 
to money. 

The points treated so far have been somewhat on woman, 
the surface ; and most, if not all, might be found 
adequately supported by other writers. There are, 
however, two other matters on which it would be well 
to have Shakespeare's attitude defined, if such were 
possible, before proceeding to the next stage of the 


enquiry. These are his mental attitude towards 
Woman, and his relation to Catholicism. 

Ruskin's treatment of the former point in " Sesame 
and Lilies " is well known, but not altogether con- 
vincing. He, and others who adopt the same line of 
thought, seem not sufficiently to discriminate between 
what comes as a kind of aura from the medieval 
chivalries and what is distinctly personal. Moreover, 
the business of a dramatist being to represent every 
variety of human character, it must be doubtful 
whether any characterization represents his views as 
a whole, or whether, indeed, it may not only represent 
a kind of Utopian idealism. Some deference, too, 
must be paid by a playwriter to the mind and require- 
ments of his contemporary public ; and the literature 
of the days of Queen Elizabeth does certainly attest 
a respectful treatment of Woman at that period. In 
quotations from Shakespeare on this theme, however, 
one is more frequently met with suggestions of Woman's 
frailty and changeableness. In his greatest play, 
" Hamlet," there are but two women ; one weak in 
character, the other weak in intellect, and Hamlet 
trusts neither. 

Shakespeare, however, is a writer of other things 
besides dramas. He has left us a large number of 
sonnets, and the sonnet, possibly more than any other 
form of composition, has been the vehicle for the 
expression of the most intimate thoughts and feelings 
of poets. Almost infallibly, one might say, do a man's 
sonnets directly reveal his soul. The sonnets of 
" Shakespeare," especially, have a ring of reality about 
them quite inconsistent with the fanciful non-bio- 
graphical interpretation which Stratfordiankm would 
attach to them. Examining, then, these sonnets we 


find that there are, in fact, two sets of them. By 
far the larger and more important set embracing no 
less than one hundred and twenty-six out of a total 
of one hundred and fifty-four, is addressed to a young 
man, and express a tenderness, which is probably 
without parallel in the recorded expressions of emotional 
attachment of one man to another. At the same time 
there occurs in this very set the following reference to 
woman : 

" A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted, Mistrust 

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion ; and 

A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted affection. 

With shifting change, as is false woman's fashion ; 
An eye more bright than theirs, less falseUnJ rolling." 

The second set of sonnets, comprising only twenty- 
eight, as against one hundred and twenty-six in the 
first set, is probably the most painful for Shakespeare 
admirers to read, of all that " Shakespeare " has 
written. It is the expression of an intensely passionate 
love for some woman ; but love of a kind which cannot 
be accurately described otherwise than as morbid 
emotion ; a combination of affection and bitteiness ; 
tenderness, without a touch of faith or of true ad- 

" Two loves I have of comfort and despair, 
Which, like two spirits, do suggest me still. 
The better angel is a man right fair. 
The worser spirit, a woman, coloured ill." 

" In loving thee (the woman) thou knowest I am 


And all my honest faith in thee is lost." 

" I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright, 
Who art as black as bell and dark as night," 


Whether this mistrust was constitutional or the 
outcome of unfortunate experiences is irrelevant to 
our present purpose. The fact of its existence is what 
matters. Whilst, then, we have comparatively so little 
bearing on the subject, and that little of such a 
nature, we shall not be guilty of over-statement if we 
say that though he was capable of great affection, and 
had a high sense of the ideal in womanhood, his faith 
in the women with whom he was directly associated 
was weak, and his relationship towards them far from 

Catholicism. To deduce the dramatist's religious point of view 
from his plays is perhaps the most difficult task of all. 
Taking the general religious conditions of his time into 
consideration there are only two broad currents to be 
reckoned with. Puritanism had no doubt already 
assumed appreciable proportions as a further develop- 
ment of the Protestant idea ; but, for our present 
purpose, the broader currents of Catholicism and 
Protestantism are all that need be considered. In 
view of the fact that Protestantism was at that time 
in the ascendant, whilst Catholicism was under a cloud, 
a writer of plays intended for immediate represen- 
tation whose leanings were Protestant would be quite 
at liberty to expose his personal leanings, whilst a 
pronounced Roman Catholic would need to exercise 
greater personal restraint. Now it is impossible to 
detect in " Shakespeare " any Protestant bias or any 
support of those principles of individualism in which 
Protestantism has its roots. On the other hand, he 
seems as catholic as the circumstances of his times 
and the conditions under which he worked would 
allow him to be. Macaulay has the following interesting 
passage on the point : 


" The partiality of Shakespeare for Friars is well 
known. In ' Hamlet ' the ghost complains that he 
died without extreme unction, and, in defiance of the 
article which condemns the doctrine of purgatory, 
declares that he is 

" Confined to fast in fires, 
Till the foul crimes, done in his days of nature, 
Are burnt and purged away." 

These lines, we suspect, would have raised a tre- 
mendous storm in the theatre at any time during the 
reign of Charles the Second. They were clearly not 
written by a zealous Protestant for zealous Pro- 

We may leave his attitude towards Catholicism at 
that ; except to add that, if he was really a Catholic, 
the higher calls of his religion to devotion and to dis- 
cipline probably met with only an indifferent response. 
It is necessary, moreover, to point out that Auguste 
Comte in his " Positive Polity " refers to " Shake- 
speare " as a sceptic. 

To the nine points enumerated at the end of the last Summary, 
chapter we may therefore add the following : 

1. A man with Feudal connections. 

2. A member of the higher aristocracy. 

3. Connected with Lancastrian supporters. 

4. An enthusiast for Italy. 

5. A follower of sport (including falconry). 

6. A lover of music. 

7. Loose and improvident in money matters. 

8. Doubtful and somewhat conflicting in his 

attitude to woman. 

9. Of probable Catholic leanings, but touched 

with scepticism. 


Such a characterization of Shakespeare as we have 
here presented was, of course, impossible so long as 
the Stratford tradition dominated the question ; for 
there is scarcely a single point that is not more or less 
in contradiction to that tradition. Since, however, 
people have begun to throw off the dominance of the 
old theory in respect to the authorship of the plays, 
the most, if not all of the points we have been urging 
have been pointed out at one time or other by different 
writers ; as well, no doubt, as other important points 
of difference which we have overlooked. If, then, 
it be urged that there is not a single original observation 
in the whole of these two chapters, then so much the 
better for the argument ; for such a criticism would 
but add authority to the delineation and we should, 
moreover, feel that the statement had been kept 
freer from the influence of subsequent discoveries than 
we can hope to be the case. 

Although these subsequent discoveries have doubt- 
less affected in some degree the manner in which the 
present statement is made, the several points, along 
with other minor and more hypothetical matters, 
were roughly outlined before the search was begun ; 
whilst the statement as here presented was written, 
substantially as it stands now, in the first days of the 
investigations : as soon, that is to say, as it seemed 
that the researches were going to prove fruitful. There 
are some of the above points which we should now 
be disposed to modify and others which we should like 
to develop. The appearance of others of them in the 
interpolated anti-Stratfordian chapter would under 
ordinary conditions have required their omission here. 
As, however, one of our objects is to represent some- 
thing of the way in which the argument has developed 


almost spontaneously in some respects one of the 
strongest evidences of its truth we leave the state- 
ment, with what vulnerable points it contains, to 
remain as it is. 

The various points are, indeed, the outcome of the 
labours and criticisms of many minds spread over a 
number of years, and it may be that the only thing 
original about the statement is the gathering together 
and tabulating of the various old points. So collected, 
these seem to demand such an aggregate and unusual 
combination of conditions that it is hardly probable 
that any man other than the actual author of the plays 
himself could possibly fulfil them all. When to this 
we add the further condition that the man answering 
to the description must also be situated, both in time 
and external circumstances, as to be consistent with 
the production of the work, we get the feeling that if 
such a man can be discovered it must be none other 
than the author himself. 

With this we complete the first stage of our task 
which was to characterize the author from a con- 
sideration of the work. 


" Time's glory is to calm contending Kings, 
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light." 

(Lucrece 135) 

AT this point I must ask for the reader's indulgence 
for a change in the method of exposition. What must 
be now stated is so purely a personal experience, that 
it will facilitate matters if, even at the risk of apparent 
egotism, I adopt frankly the First Person Singular. 
Perhaps, in view of certain admissions it will be neces- 
sary to make, it may become evident that there could 
be little ground for any egotism. At all events, the 
mode of presentation seems essential to the argument, 
and that, it appears to me, is all the justification it 

Choice of a I n accordance with the plan upon which the in- 
guide. vestigation had been instituted, the author had been 

characterized from an examination of his works. The 
next step was to proceed to search for him. The 
method of search was to select from the various 
features some one which, by furnishing a crucial test 
and standard of measurement, would afford the surest 
guidance. Now, if there had been any likelihood of 
his having left other dramas under his own name, this 
would certainly have been the best line to follow. A 
little reflection, however, soon convinced me that not 
much was to be hoped for in this direction ; for already 
the experts have been able to discriminate to a very 



large extent between what is really his and what is 
not his, in writings that, for centuries, had been 
regarded as pure Shakespearean work ; and this process 
is going on progressively as the distinctive qualities of 
his work are being more clearly perceived. Con- 
sequently, had whole plays of his existed elsewhere it 
is natural to suppose that they would have been 
recognized before now. 

The point which promised to be most fruitful in 
results, supposing he had left other traces of himself, 
was his lyric poetry. The reasons for this choice have 
already been indicated in the chapter in which the 
lyric powers of Shakespeare are discussed. It was, 
therefore, to the Elizabethan lyric poets that I must 


This decision marked the second stage in the enquiry ; 
I must now proceed to the third and most important, 
namely the actual work of searching for the author. 

Whether the scantiness of my own knowledge of Narrowing 
this department of literature at the time was a operations, 
hindrance or a help it is impossible now to say positively. 
Certainly, it was the very imperfection of my know- 
ledge that decided the method of search, and this, 
along with a fortunate chance, was the immediate 
cause of whatever success has been achieved. In 
addition to " Shakespeare's " works, parts of Edmund 
Spenser's and Philip Sidney's poems were all that I 
could claim to know of Elizabethan poetry at the 
time. Beyond this I had only a dim sense of a vast, 
rich literary region that I had not explored, but in 
which a number of names were indiscriminately 

To plunge headlong into this unexplored domain in 
search of a man, who, on poetic grounds alone for 


that I deemed to be essential might be selected as 
the possible author of the world's greatest dramas, 
seemed, at first, a well-nigh hopeless task. The only 
way was to compensate, if possible, my lack of know- 
ledge by the adoption of some definite system. What 
was possibly a faulty piece of reasoning served at this 
point in good stead. I argued that when he entered 
upon the path of anonymity, wherein he had done his 
real life's work, he had probably ceased altogether to 
publish in his own name ; and that, dividing his work 
into two parts, we should find the natural point of 
contact between the two, the point, therefore, at which 
discovery was most likely to take place, just where his 
anonymous work begins. Now the poet himself comes 
to our aid at this juncture. He calls his " Venus and 
Adonis," published in 1593, under the name of William 
Shakespeare, " the first heir of my invention" (see the 
dedication to the Earl of Southampton) . I must, there- 
fore, try to work from this poem, to the work of some 
lyric writer of the same period. 

The point Turning to this " first heir " I read a number of 
stanzas with a vague idea that the reading might 
suggest some line of action. As I read, with the 
thought uppermost in my mind of it being an early 
work, kept in manuscript for some years and now 
published for the first time, I soon came to feel that 
the expression " first heir " was to be interpreted 
somewhat relatively ; being possibly the first work of 
any considerable size: whereas the writer had as a 
matter of fact already become a practised hand in the 
particular form of stanza he employed. Except for 
the fact that " Shakespeare " has proved too blinding 
a light for most men's eyes we should long ago have 
rejected the idea that he actually " led off " on his 


literary career with so lengthy and finished a work as 
" Venus and Adonis." At any rate the facility with 
which he uses the particular form of stanza employed 
in this poem pointed to his having probably used it 
freely in shorter lyrics. I decided, therefore, to work, 
first of all, on the mere form of the stanza. This may 
appear a crude and mechanical way of setting about 
an enquiry of this kind. It was, at any rate, a simple 
instrument and needed little skill in handling. All 
that was necessary was to observe the number and 
length of the lines six lines, each of ten syllables 
and the order of the rhymes : alternate rhymes for 
the first four lines, the whole finishing with a rhymed 

With this in mind I turned to an anthology of 
sixteenth-century poetry, and went through it, marking quest, 
off each piece written in the form of stanza identical 
with that employed by Shakespeare in his " Venus 
and Adonis." They turned out to be much fewer than 
I had anticipated. These I read through several times, 
familiarizing myself with their style and matter, 
rejecting first one and then another as being unsuitable, 
until at last only two remained. One of these was 
anonymous ; consequently I was left ultimately with 
only one: the following poem on "Women," by 
Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford the only poem by 
this author given in the anthology and also the only 
poem of his, as I afterwards noticed, that Palgrave 
gives in his " Golden Treasury." 

" If women could be fair and yet not fond, AB impor- 

Or that their love were firm not fickle, still, ^tit poem. 

I would not marvel that they make men bond. 
By service long to purchase their good will, 

But when I see how frail those creatures are, 

I muse that men forget themselves so far. 


" To mark the choice they make, and how they change, 

How oft from Phoebus do they flee to Pan, 
Unsettled still like haggards wild they range, 

These gentle birds that fly from man to man, 
Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist 
And let them fly, fair fools, which way they list ? 

" Yet for disport we fawn and flatter both, 

To pass the time when nothing else can please, 
And train them to our lure with subtle oath, 

Till, weary of their wiles, ourselves we ease ; 
And then we say, when we their fancy try, 
To play with fools. Oh what a fool was I." 

I give this poem in full because of its importance 
to the history of English literature if the chief conten- 
tion of this treatise can be established. Had I read it 
singly or with no such special aim as I then had, its 
distinctive qualities might not have impressed me as 
they did. But, reading it in conjunction with a large 
amount of contemporary verse whilst the cadences of 
the " Venus " stanzas were still running in my mind, 
its distinctive qualities were, on the one hand, enhanced 
by the force of contrast with other work of the same 
period, and on the other hand emphasized by a sense 
of its harmony with Shakespeare's work. Having, 
therefore, fixed provisionally on this poem I must 
first of all follow up the enquiry along the line it in- 
dicated until that line should prove untenable. 
Seeking Although the selection had been in a measure a 

eXP port personal exercise of literary judgment, it was part of 
the original plan that I should not, at any critical 
part of the investigation, rest upon my own private 
judgment where the issue was purely literary ; and as 
this was a matter for the expert I must first of all 
seek for some kind of an endorsement of my selection 
from literary authorities. Meanwhile the choice must 
be considered tentative. To those who are specialists 
in the literature of that age it may appear like the 


confession of colossal ignorance when I say that, far 
from having prepossessions in favour of Edward de 
Vere, although I must have come across his name 
before, it had never arrested my attention ; and, so 
far as any knowledge of his personality and history 
is concerned, I had either never possessed it, or had 
quite forgotten everything 1 had ever known. Nor 
was I wishful to know more until the choice had been 
duly tested on purely poetic grounds. The name De 
Vere I knew to be that of an ancient house ; the Earls 
of Oxford I remembered had appeared in English 
history in certain secondary connections ; and the 
dates of the poet's birth and death (1550 and 1604), the 
only piece of information vouchsafed in the anthology, 
accorded sufficiently well, for the time being, with the 
general theory I had formed of the production and the 
issuing of the plays. He would be about forty years 
of age at the time when the plays began to appear, 
and, according to the generally accepted dating of them, 
the most and best of the work would be given to the 
world before his death. Still these considerations might 
apply with equal force to others whose poems appeared 
in the collection, and therefore must not be allowed to 
exercise undue weight at this stage. 

Turning to the literary section of several text books, 
and standard works of English history with varying 
amounts of reference to literature, I found all as silent 
as the grave in reference to the Earl of Oxford. 
Creighton's "Age of Elizabeth" has a special chapter 
on Elizabethan literature, but not a single word on 
this particular poet. Beesly's " Queen Elizabeth " 
barely mentions his name in a footnote of quite insig- 
nificant import that has nothing to do with poetry or 
literature. Altogether, I got the impression at first 


that he was almost an unknown man. So far the result 
was discouraging and I turned again to the anthology 
to try some of the other poems. None of them seemed 
to have the same Shakespearean grip as this one. In 
addition to the identity in the form of the stanza with 
that of " Venus and Adonis," there was the same 
succinctness of expression, the same compactness and 
cohesion of ideas, the same smoothness of diction, the 
same idiomatic wording which we associate with 
" Shakespeare " ; there was the characteristic simile 
of the hawks, and finally that peculiar touch in relation 
to women that I had noted in the sonnets. 

First Again I consulted my books. Although Green, in 

the part of the " Short History " dealing with Eliza- 
bethan literature, makes no mention of the poet, I 
found in another part of his work the following 
sentence. Speaking of the Jesuit mission to England 
under Campion and Parsons, he says, " The list of 
nobles reconciled to the old faith, by these wandering 
apostles was headed by Lord Oxford, Cecil's own 
son-in-law and the proudest among English peers." 
It was impossible to avoid a touch of excitement in 
reading these words ; for the first indications of the 
man justified the selection on two of the points of my 
characterization. Still it was not what I was imme- 
diately in search of ; and until the vital question of 
his acknowledged lyrical eminence was settled it was 
important not to be led away by what might turn out 
to be only a specious coincidence. All the other points 
were to be so many tests held in reserve as it were, to 
be applied only when his lyric credentials had been duly 
presented. For the time being then all available 
resources had been exhausted. The next step must 
be to consult such larger works as might be found in 
a reference library. 

On consulting the Dictionary of National Biography Dictionary 
and turning to the Veres, or more properly the De Biography. 
Veres, I found myself confronted with quite a for- 
midable number of them. By means of the Christian 
name and the dates, the one for whom I was seeking 
was speedily recognized : Edward de Vere, Seventeenth 
Earl of Oxford ; the article being contributed by the 
Editor of the work, Sir Sidney Lee. This is perhaps 
as fitting a point as any at which to remark that, both 
by his biography of Edward de Vere in the article from 
which I am about to quote, as well as by his invaluable 
work, "A Life of William Shakespeare," Sir Sidney 
Lee, convinced Stratfordian though he is, has furnished 
more material in support of my constructive argument 
than any other single modern writer. Although 
differing widely from his general conclusions I do not 
wish therefore in any way to stint my acknowledgment 
of indebtedness to his researches and opinions upon 
important questions of Shakespearean literature. 

Skimming lightly over the article at first, with the 
attention directed towards the one thing for which I 
was searching, I nevertheless felt some elation as I ran 
up against new facts bearing upon other aspects of 
the enquiry. Then came the following sentences, every 
word of which, in view of the conception I had formed 
of " Shakespeare," read like a complete justification 
of the selection I had made. 

" Oxford, despite his violent and perverse temper, 

his eccentric taste in dress, and his reckless waste of justified 

substance, evinced a genuine taste in music and wrote 
verses of much lyric beauty. . . . 

" Puttenham and Meres reckon him among the best 
for comedy in his day ; but though he was a patron 
of players no specimens of his dramatic productions 


" A sufficient number of his poems is extant to cor- 
roborate Webbe's comment, that he was the best of the 
courtier poets of the early days of Queen Elizabeth, and 
that 'in the rare devices of poetry he may challenge to 
himself the title of the most excellent amongst the 
rest.' " 

I venture to say that if only such of those terms as 
are here used to describe the character and quality of 
his work were submitted without name or leading 
epithet to people, who only understood them to apply 
to some Elizabethan poet, it would be assumed imme- 
diately that Shakespeare was meant. We have in 
these words a contemporary opinion that he was the 
best of these poets, and we have a modern authority 
of no less weight than Sir Sidney Lee corroborating 
this judgment from a consideration of the poems 

All that I wanted, for the time being, on the first 
issue, I had found ; and so I was at liberty to go over 
the whole of the article, to see to what extent the Earl 
of Oxford fulfilled the other conditions belonging, as 
I had judged, to the authorship of Shakespeare's works. 
In making the selection the enquiry had passed its 
third stage. The fourth was the testing of the selection 
by reference to the characterization outlined in the 
first stage. 

Competing Although, in the course of subsequent enquiries, 
ins * difficulties have presented themselves, as was inevi- 
table, none of these has ever raised any insurmountable 
objections to the theory of Edward de Vere being the 
author of Shakespeare's works ; whilst as we shall see, 
the evidence in favour of the theory has steadily 
accumulated. Other names, too, have presented them- 
selves or have been suggested by other writers as 


possible alternatives, and I have not hesitated to 
consider such cases most carefully. These, however, 
have always in my own view broken down readily and 
completely, and their very failure has only served to 
add weight to the claims of De Vere. Such cases I 
do not, as a rule, discuss in full, and thus an important 
element of negative evidence will be missed so far as 
the reader is concerned. It is of first importance, 
however, that he should realize the precise extent of 
the evidence upon which the choice was made ; the 
great mass of the evidence we shall have presently to 
submit, coming as it did subsequently to the selection, 
forms such a sequence and accumulation of coinci- 
dences, that if the manner of its discovery is clearly 
apprehended, only one conclusion seems possible. 


As it will be necessary to discuss the life and character 
of Edward de Vere from a totally different standpoint 
from that of Sir Sidney Lee's article in the Dictionary 
of National Biography, and also to add particulars 
derived from other sources, we shall, at present, in 
order to avoid as much unnecessary repetition as 
possible, merely point out the numerous instances in 
which the portraiture answers to the description of 
the man for whom we have been seeking. 

Personal Although we are not given much information as to 

traits what his " eccentricity " consisted in, beyond the 

squandering of his patrimony, the distinctiveness of 
his dress, and his preference for his Bohemian literary 
and play-acting associates, rather than the artificial 
and hypocritical atmosphere of a court frequented by 
ambitious self-seekers, it is clear that in those latter 
circles he had made for himself a reputation as an 
eccentric, and as a man apart. When, therefore, we 
are told that his eccentricities grew with his years, 
we may take it to imply that this preference became 
accentuated as he grew older, that he became less in 
touch with social conventionality, more deeply im- 
mersed in his special interests and in the companionship 
of those who were similarly occupied. 

His impressionability is testified by his quickness to 
detect a slight and his readiness to resent it, whilst 
his evident susceptibility to perfumes and the elegancies 



of dress, involving, no doubt, colour sensitiveness, 
bespeak that keenness of the senses which contributes 
so largely to extreme general sensibility. 

Connected with these traits is his undoubted fondness 
for, and a superior taste in music. The matter is twice 
referred to. The first instance is in connection with 
his education, and from this reference it appears as if 
music had not formed part of the scheme of education 
which others had mapped out for him, and that his 
musical training was therefore the outcome of his own 
natural bent and choice. The second reference is the 
passage quoted in the last chapter, from which it 
appears that his musical taste was of so pronounced 
a character as to secure special mention in the records 
of him that have been handed down, notwithstanding 
their extreme meagreness. 

His looseness in money matters, and what appears 
like a complete indifference to material possessions, is 
undoubtedly one of the most marked features of his 
character. So long as he had money to spend or give 
away, or lands which he could sell to raise money, he 
seems to have squandered lavishly ; much of it, 
evidently, on literary men and on dramatic enterprises. 
Consequently, from being one of the foremost and 
wealthiest of English noblemen he found himself 
ultimately in straitened circumstances. 

His connection with play-actors and the drama was Personal 

not the superficial and evanescent interest of a wealthy circum- 

. . stances* 

patron. It was a matter in which he was actively 

engaged for many years. He had his own company, 
with which he both toured in the provinces, and es- 
tablished himself for some years in London. It was 
quite understood that his company was performing 
plays which he was himself producing. It is evident, 


too, that he made a name for himself in the production 
of comedies and that the celebrity he enjoyed in this 
respect came not merely from the masses, but from 
the literary men of the time. On the other hand, we 
are informed in the article that " no specimens of his 
dramatic productions survive " a most mysterious 
circumstance in view of the vast mass of drama of all 
kinds and qualities that the Elizabethan age has 
bequeathed to us. 

Of his family, we learn from the first series of articles 
on the De Veres, that it traced its descent in a direct 
line from the Norman Conquest and that for five and 
a half centuries the direct line of male descent had 
never once been broken. As a boy, not only had he 
been a prominent figure about Elizabeth's court, but 
from the age of twelve he was a royal ward, and may 
be said to have been actually brought up at court near 
the person of the Queen herself. The irksomeness to 
him of court life seems to have manifested itself quite 
early in manhood and he made several efforts to escape 
from it. 

His education was conducted first of all by private 
tutors among whom were celebrated classical scholars. 
He was a resident at Cambridge University and ulti- 
mately held degrees in both universities. We may add 
here, what is not mentioned in the article, that his 
poems are replete with classical allusions, which come 
to him as spontaneously as the figure of a field mouse, 
a daisy, or a haggis, comes to Burns. 

So keen was his desire for travel that when per- 
mission was refused him he set the authorities at 
defiance and ran away ; only to be intercepted and 
brought back. When at last he obtained permission 
to go abroad he speedily made nis way to Italy ; and 

so permanent upon him was the effect of his stay 
there, that he was lampooned afterwards as an 
" Italionated Englishman." 

The article in the Dictionary of National Biography Summary 
testifies therefore to the following points : attStS? 

1. His high standing as a lyric poet. 

2. His reputation for eccentricity. 

3. His highly strung sensibility. 

4. His being out of sympathetic relationship with 

conventional life. 

5. His maturity (1590) and genius. 

6. His literary tastes. 

7. His practical enthusiasm for drama. 

8. His classic education and association with the 

best educated men of his time. 

9. His belonging to the higher aristocracy. 

10. His feudal ancestry. 

11. His interest in and direct personal knowledge 

of Italy. 

12. His musical tastes. 

13. His looseness in money matters. 

Four points insufficiently supported in the article Re 
are : points. 

1. His interest in sport. 

2. His Lancastrian sympathies. 

3. His distinctive bearing towards woman. 

4. His attitude towards Catholicism. 

The eighteenth point inadequate appreciation 
needs no special treatment, being involved in the 
problem itself and in any proposed solution to it. 

Before proceeding to the next step in the investigation 
we shall finish this section by adducing other evidence 
and authority for the four points mentioned above. 

i. In relation to sport we notice and this is really 


Sport the point that matters that his poems, few as they 

are, bear decided witness to the same interest. The 
haggard hawk, the stricken deer, the hare, the grey- 
hound, the mastiff, the fowling nets and bush-beating 
are all figures that appear in his lyric verses. In ad- 
dition to this we notice that his father, John de Vere, 
i6th Earl of Oxford, who died when Edward was 
twelve years of age, had quite a reputation as a sports- 
man, and until his death Edward was, of course, living 
with him. The article from whicn we first quoted 
mentions nis interest in learning to shoot and to ride, 
so that there is abundant evidence of his familiarity 
with those sporting pastimes which Shakespeare's 
works so amply illustrate. 

Lancastrian- 2. Though no statement of his actual sympathies 
with the Lancastrian cause has been found, we are 
assured by several writers that he was proud of his 
ancient lineage, which, taken along with the following 
passage on the relationship of the De Veres to the 
Lancastrian cause, may be accepted as conclusive on 
the subject : 

" John the I2th Earl (of Oxford) was attainted and 
beheaded in 1461, suffering for his loyalty to the 
Lancastrian line. His son John was restored to the 
dignity in 1464, but was himself attainted in 1474 in 
consequence of the active part he had taken on the 
Lancastrian side during the temporary restoration of 
Henry VI in 1470. . . . (He) distinguished himself 
as the last of the supporters of the cause of the red 
rose, which he maintained in the castle of St. Michael's 
Mount in Cornwall for many months after the rest of 
the kingdom had submitted to Edward IV. . . . 
Having been mainly instrumental in bringing Henry 
(VII) to the throne he was immediately restored to the 


Earldom of Oxford, and also to the office of Lord 
Chamberlain which he enjoyed until his death in 1513." 
("Archaeological Journal," vol. 9, 1852, p. 24.) 

3. So far as his attitude towards woman is con- Woman, 
cerned, the poem already quoted in full is sufficient 
evidence of that deficiency of faith which we have 
pointed out as marking the Shakespeare sonnets ; the 
very terms employed being as nearly identical as 
Shakespeare ever allowed himself in two separate 
utterances on one topic. Then that capacity for intense 
affection combined with weakness of faith which is 
one of the peculiarities of Shakespeare's mind, has not, 
so far as we are aware, so close a parallel anywhere in 
literature as in the poems of Edward de Vere. It is 
not merely in an occasional line, but is the keynote 
of much of his poetry. Indeed we may say that it 
probably lies at the root of a great part of the mis- 
fortune and mystery in which his life was involved, 
and may indeed afford an explanation for the very 
existence of the Shakespeare mystery. 

Only when these poems shall have become as 
accessible as Shakespeare's sonnets will this mental 
correspondence be fully appreciated. Meanwhile we 
give a few lines each from a separate poem : 

" For she thou (himself) lovest is sure thy mortal foe." 

11 cruel hap and hard estate that forceth me to love 
my foe." 

" The more I sought the less I found 
Yet mine she meant to be." 

"That I do waste, with others, love 
That hath myself in hate." 

"Love is worse than hate and eke more harm hath 


With these lines in mind all that is necessary is to 
read the last dozen of Shakespeare's sonnets, in order 
to appreciate the spiritual identity of the author or 
authors in this particular connection. 

Religion. 4. So far as the last point , his attitude to Catholicism, 

is concerned, the quotation we have already given from 
Green's " Short History " is all that is really necessary. 
The fact that his name appears at the head of a list 
of noblemen who professed to be reconciled to the 
old faith shows his leanings sufficiently well for us to 
say of him, as Macaulay says of Shakespeare, that he 
was not a zealous Protestant writing for zealous 
Protestants. When, further, we find that his father 
had professed Catholicism, it is not unlikely that on 
certain sentimental grounds his leaning was that way. 
Roman Catholicism would, moreover, be the openly 
professed religion of his home life during his first eight 
years. There is also evidence in the State Papers of 
the time that the English Catholics abroad were at 
one crisis looking to him and to the Earl of Southampton 
for support. At the same time it is not improbable 
that intellectually he was touched with the scepticism 
which appears to have been current in dramatic circles 
at that time, for amongst the charges made against 
him by one adversary was that of irreligion : the name 
" atheist " being given him by another (State Papers). 
Classic paganism, medievalism and scepticism, in spite 
of the contradiction the combination seems to imply, 
can certainly all be more easily traced in him than 
can Protestantism ; and in this there is a general 
correspondence between his mind and that of 
" Shakespeare." 

On all the points then which we set before ourselves 
in entering upon the search, we find that Edward dc 


Vere fulfils the conditions, and the general feeling with 
which we finish this stage of our enquiry is this, that 
if we have not actually discovered the author of 
Shakespeare's works we have at any rate alighted upon 
a most exceptional set of resemblances. 

We have thus, in a general way, carried the enquiry 
successfully through four of its stages, and completed 
the a posteriori section of our argument. 


In the contemporary State Papers of Rome there 
is a list of English nobility, classified as (i) Catholics, 
(ii) of Catholic leanings, (iii) Protestants. Oxford's 
name appears in the second group. 


IN proceeding from an examination of Shakespeare's 
work to search for the man himself we made lyric 
poetry the starting point, and the crucial consideration 
in attempting to establish his identity. Similarly, in 
reversing the process, that is to say in proceeding 
a priori from Edward de Vere to the work of Shake- 
speare, which must be the longest and most decisive 
section of the argument, we again begin with lyric 
poetry. We take the lyric poetry of Edward de Vere 
and see how far it justifies the theory of his being the 
real "Shakespeare." 

Expert Up to the present we have had before us the single 

poem and a few odd lines of Oxford's supported by 
the testimony of the Dictionary of National Biography. 
It becomes necessary first of all to obtain further 
testimony as to his poetic powers and characteristics, 
and then to see to what extent others of his poems 
warrant his being chosen as the writer of Shakespeare's 

In the " Cambridge History of English Literature " 
(vol. iv, p. 116) the section being written by Harold 
H. Child, sometime scholar of Brasenose, Oxford 
there occurs the following reference to a collection of 
poems called " The Phoenix' Nest." " The Earl of 
Oxford has a charming lyric." Most of the other 
contributors are simply enumerated. Oxford, however, 
it will be noticed, is singled out for a special compliment. 



Again, we would draw special attention to the Professor 
following excerpts from the " History of English ope 

Poetry " (vol. ii, pp. 312-313) by W. J. Courthope, 
C.B., M.A., D.Litt. (Professor of Poetry at the Uni- 
versity of Oxford) : 

" Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, 
. . . a great patron of literature . . . His own 
verses are distinguished for their wit . . . and 
terse ingenuity. . . . His studied concinnity of 
style is remarkable. . . . He was not only witty 
himself but the cause of wit in others. . . Doubtless 
he was proud of his illustrious ancestry. , . He 
was careful in verse at any rate to conform to the 
external requirements of chivalry, but in later years 
his turn for epigram seems to have prevailed over his 
chivalrous sentiments." It is interesting to notice in 
passing that he is described in words that Shakespeare 
puts into the mouth of Falstaff, " I am not only witty 
in myself but the cause that wit is in others " 
(n Henry IV, i, 2). 

In another passage in the same work we are told 
that the court litterateurs were divided into two parties, 
one headed by Philip Sidney, and the other by the 
Earl of Oxford, " a great favourer of theEuphuists and 
himself a poet of some merit in the courtly Italian 
vein." This rivalry between Philip Sidney and the 
Earl of Oxford touches our problem somewhat closely 
and will have to be referred to later. It is important 
at present as affording testimony to Oxford's recog- 
nized poetic eminence and to his Italian affinities. It 
also comes as a reminder that it was to Oxford that 
Lyly dedicated his " Euphues and his England," and 
affords a sufficient explanation of that familiarity with 
Euphuism which is noticed in Shakespeare, if we 


credit Oxford with being Shakespeare, but is very 
difficult to account for in William Shakspere of 

There remains one other striking fact connected with 
these references to the Earl of Oxford in Professor 
Courthope's work. It will be remembered that we 
took the form of the stanza in " Venus and Adonis " 
as our first guide in the search. Now Professor 
Courthope quotes three separate stanzas of Oxford's 
work and all these are identical with that of Shake- 
speare's " Venus " and Oxford's on " Women," which 
gave us our first point of contact. The poem on which 
we had alighted was therefore no isolated effort in that 
particular form of versification. It was a familiar and 
practised form in which he evidently excelled, just as 
had been noticed in the case of Shakespeare. 
Edmund In collecting corroboration of De Vere's poetic 

Spenser. eminence it is specially fitting that the testimony of 
so eminent a poet as Edmund Spenser, second only to 
Shakespeare in that poetic age, should be added. In 
the series of sonnets with which he prefaces the 
"Fairie Queen," there is one addressed to the Earl 
of Oxford, wherein occurs the following passage : 

" The antique glory of thine ancestry. 

* * * * 

And eke thine own long living memory 
Succeeding them in true nobility, 
And also for the love which thou dost bear, 
To the ' Heliconian imps ',* and they to thee. 
They unto thee, and thou to them most dear." 

Dr. Grosart's Valuable as is the testimony which we have adduced 

collection. it cannot absolve us from tne necessity of knowing the 

poems themselves and of subjecting them to a very 

The Muse. 


careful examination, for this must form the crux of 
a very great deal of future investigation. It is greatly 
to be regretted, therefore, that these poems have not 
been readily accessible to every one. For the most 
part they have been scattered amongst various 
anthologies ; a mode of publishing poetry characteristic 
of the Elizabethan age. Dr. Grosart, however, in 1872 
gathered together all the extant recognized poems of 
the Earl of Oxford and published them in the " Fuller 
Worthies' Library. ' ' Some of these poems had appeared 
in old anthologies, others had only existed in manu- 
script, and were published for the first time by 
Dr. Grosart. It is desirable, therefore, that all who 
are interested in English literature may before long 
be in possession of the entire collection. 

There are, in all, only twenty-two short poems 
(Dr. Grosart numbers them up to twenty-three, but 
number eight is omitted) and the biographical intro- 
duction is possibly the shortest with which any similar 
collection was ever presented to the world. It explains 
its own brevity however, and is of great significance 
from the point of view of this enquiry. "An unlifted 
shadow," he remarks, " lies across his memory. Park 
in his edition of ' Royal and Noble Authors ' has done 
his utmost, but that utmost is meagre." " Our col- 
lection of his poems," he concludes, " will prove a 
pleasant surprise, it is believed, to most of our readers. 
They are not without touches of the true Singer and 
there is an atmosphere of graciousness and culture 
about them that is grateful." 

We have already, in the chapter in which we de- 
scribed the search, had to mention the contemporary 
testimonies of Meres, Puttenham, and Webbe, and 
also a modern authority Sir Sidney Lee. Meres and 


Puttenham deal specially with his dramatic pre- 
eminence, mentioning him as amongst the " best for 
comedy." Therefore, leaving this on one side and 
confining ourselves to his lyric credentials, we may 
sum up the matter thus : 
Summary. Contemporary : 

1. Edmund Spenser. 

One most dear to the Muses. 

2. Webbe. 

Best of the courtier poets. In the rare 
devices of poetry the most excellent 
amongst the rest. 
Modern : 

1. Sir Sidney Lee. 

Corroborates Webbe's statement much 
lyric beauty. 

2. Professor W. J. Courthope, C.B., M.A., D.Litt. 

Concinnous, terse, ingenious, epigram- 
matic leader of a party of poets. 

3. " Cambridge History of English Literature " 

(Harold H. Child). 

4. Dr. Grosart. 

Gracious, cultured, true singer. 

Oxford's Looking over the notes appended to the separate 

early poetry, poems o f D r Grosart's collection we find that these 
poems fulfil one very important condition which, at the 
outset, we imagined would belong to the lyric work 
which Shakespeare might have published in his own 
name. Notwithstanding the rare ability they show, 
and several true Shakespearean characteristics, they 
are for the most part early poems. Many of them are 
proved to have been in existence when the writer 


was about twenty-six years of age. How long before 
that time they were in existence, or how many others 
which are not so attested may also have existed then, 
we cannot say. The most of these others, and it is only 
a small collection to begin with, bear unmistakable 
internal evidence of belonging to the same early period. 
Moreover, De Vere is spoken of as " the best of the 
courtier poets of the early part of Queen Elizabeth's 
reign." As, however, he lived right on to the end of 
the reign, and into the reign of James I, it is evident 
that the poetry for which he is celebrated is regarded 
as belonging to his early life. Direct corroboration 
of this theory is found in the following passage from 
Arthur Collins's " Historical Collections of Noble 
Families," published in 1752. " He (Edward de Vere) 
was in his younger days an excellent poet and comedian, 
as several of his compositions, which were made public 
showed ; which I presume are now lost or worn out." 

Now the assumption with which we set out was that Hidden 
if we found writings under the true name of the author P roductions - 
of Shakespeare's works, it would be mainly his early 
works, issued prior to his assuming a disguise. As we 
examine this early poetry of De Vere it becomes 
impossible to believe that a writer possessed of the 
genius that these verses manifest could possibly have 
stopped producing early in his manhood, unless, of 
course, he had suddenly dropped his literary interests 
and directed his energies into another channel. With 
De Vere, however, the continuance, or rather the % 

intensification of his literary interests in later years 
is amply proved. He was sharing the Bohemian life 
of literary men, he was running his own company of 
play-actors, some of the plays which they were staging 
were quite understood to be from his own pen ; and 


although he is spoken of as " the best in comedy " we 
are also told that " none of his plays have survived " : 
that they have become " lost or worn out." 

The actual amount of poetry which is recognized 
as his is such as one with such a faculty might have 
written within a single twelvemonth, although his 
contemporary says that " in the rare devices of poetry 
he may be considered the most excellent amongst the 
rest." It is evident, therefore, that in Edward de 
Vere we have a writer of both drama and lyric poetry 
who published under his own name only a small part 
of what he produced, however he may have disposed 
of the remainder. This point will receive further 
corroboration when we come to deal with the relation- 
ship of the poet Spenser to our problem. Everything 
points to his having, after the first period of poetic 
output, deliberately thrown a veil over his subsequent 
work, whilst in " Shakespeare " we have a writer who, 
we are justified in supposing, assumed anonymity in 
his maturity, leading off with an elaborate and highly 
Two finished poem of about two hundred stanzas. These 

oTone 1 ^ 1118 two ^ acts a l ne m work of such exceptional character, 
career. if not simply the counterparts one of the other, con- 

stitutes alone one of the most remarkable coincidences 
in the history of literature. When to this we add the 
fact that the dates in the respective cases are such as 
to fit in exactly with the theory of one work being but 
the continuation of the other, Oxford being, as has 
been remarked, about forty when the Shakespearean 
dramas began to appear, and having filled in the 
interim with just the kind of experiences necessary to 
enable him to produce the dramas, it is difficult to 
resist the conviction, on this ground alone, that it is 
indeed but one writer with whom we are dealing. 


And, so far as that mysteriousness is concerned which 
we attributed to Shakespeare, it must be admitted 
that the sudden non-appearance of work from such a pen 
as that of De Vere's is as mysterious as the subsequent 
appearance of the " Shakespeare " poems and dramas. 

Now although the authority we have quoted for Literary 
Edward de Vere's poetic eminence may appear ample 
there is nevertheless a special caution to be observed 
in regard to it. Assuming that he is the author of 
Shakespeare's plays it will still be necessary to dis- 
tinguish between his work as Edward de Vere and his 
work as " Shakespeare." The former belonging 
mainly to his early manhood, and the latter to his 
maturity, we must expect to find a corresponding 
difference in the work. How vast may be the difference 
between a man's early and his later literary style can 
be seen by contrasting Carlyle's first literary essays 
with " Sartor " or his " French Revolution." We 
must not, therefore, expect to find Oxford ranked 
spontaneously with Shakespeare ; especially as the 
Shakespearean work is primarily dramatic, whereas 
we have not a scrap of dramatic work published 
under the name of Oxford. All that we are entitled 
to expect is some marked correspondence in the domain 
of lyric poetry, and a reasonable promise of the 
Shakespearean work in general. Of these we have at 
least some evidence, in the verses already quoted, and 
in the testimony that experts have offered as to the 
distinctive qualities of his poetry. 

There is, however, another very important fact to Great 

be taken into consideration. Between the time when literar x 
,_, , . . _, , , . ,. transition. 

Edward de Vere produced his earliest poems and the 

period of the production of the Shakespearean dramas 
(roughly the interval between 1580 and 1590), a very 


marked change had come over the character of English 
literature as a whole. The nature of this change can 
best be gathered from the following passage from 
Dean Church's " Life of Spenser " : " The ten years 
from 1580 to 1590 present ... a picture of 
English poetry of which, though there are gleams of a 
better hope . . . the general character is feeble- 
ness, fantastic absurdity, affectation and bad taste. 
Who could suppose what was preparing under it all ? 
But the dawn was at hand." During the next ten 
years, 1590-1600, " there burst forth suddenly a new 
poetry, which with its reality, depth, sweetness, and 
nobleness took the world captive. The poetical 
aspirations of the Englishmen of the time had found 
at last adequate interpreters, and their own national 
and unrivalled expression." 

This vital change, then, was preparing in England 
between the time when Edward de Vere produced his 
early poetry and the time when the Shakespearean 
dramas appeared. Such a change in the national 
literature we must naturally expect to find reflected 
in some degree in his writings. The roots of the matter 
may, however, be even deeper than this. In making 
the contrast between the two periods Dean Church 
cites Philip Sidney's " Defense of Poesie " as repre- 
senting the earlier and feebler period, and the " rude 
play houses with their troops of actors, most of them 
profligate and disreputable " as being the source of 
the later and more virile movement. 

Transition Now the ten years mentioned by Dean Church 

embodied corresponds generally to what we shall speak of as the 

middle period of the life of Edward de Vere as a 

writer. It is the period immediately following upon 

his first poetic output, and it was during these years 


that he was in active and habitual association with 
these very troupes of play-actors, whilst the third 
period of his life synchronizes exactly with the sudden 
outburst of the great Shakespearean dramas. In his 
first literary period he is the recognized chief of a party 
of court poets, and the rival of Philip Sidney. As to 
who his fellows were, there is very little information to 
be had. If, however, we compare his poetry with the 
work of Sidney we can only account for Sidney's being 
considered in any sense a rival by the fact that the 
feeble affected style of Sidney was in vogue at the time. 
What distinguishes Oxford's work from contemporary 
verse is its strength, reality, and true refinement. 
When Philip Sidney learnt to " look into his heart 
and write," he only showed that he had at last learnt 
a lesson that his rival had been teaching him. The 
reader may or may not be able to agree with the ideas 
and sentiments expressed by Oxford, but he will be 
unable to deny that every line written by the poet is a 
direct and real expression of himself in terms at once 
forceful and choice and no mere reflection of some 
fashionable pose. Even in these early years he was 
the pioneer of realism in English poetry. In his middle 
period he was a leading force in those dramatic circles 
from which was to emerge that realist literature so 
aptly characterized by Dean Church ; so that, whoever 
the real author of Shakespeare's work may have been, 
that work represents the triumph of the De Vere spirit 
in poetry over the movement which claimed Sidney 
as its head. It will also be the triumph of his matured 
conceptions over his youthful compliance with con- 
ventional standards, in so far as he may have complied 
with them ; some measure of such compliance being 
almost inevitable in youth, 


style and 

We have already had to remark his restiveness under 
all kinds of restraints imposed by the artificiality of 
court life and his strong bent towards that Bohemian 
society within which were stirring the energetic forces 
making for reality, mingled with much evil in life and 
literature. Having been pre-eminent amongst the 
lyric poets in his early years, and prominent in the 
dramatic movement of his middle period, he is the 
natural representative and probably even the personal 
embodiment and original source of the transition by 
which the lyric poetry of the early days of Queen 
Elizabeth was merged in the drama of Elizabeth's, 
and his own later years ; and before he died he witnessed 
the beginning of the decline of that great dramatic 
and literary efflorescence. These matters we believe 
to have a profound significance in relation to the 
problem before us. 

When the necessary matter is readily accessible to 
the public it ought to be possible to read these verses 
of De Vere's alongside such contemporary poems as 
appear in Dr. Grosart's volumes. Then their distinctive 
qualities will be more than ever apparent. Poems by 
Sir Edward Dyer, Lord Vaux, The Earl of Essex and 
others, such as may be found in the " Fuller Worthies' 
Library," though by no means mediocre or negligible, 
lack the distinctiveness of De Vere's poetry and fail 
to grip and hold the mind in the same way as do these 
early productions of the Earl of Oxford. That terse 
epigrammatic style, on which all readers comment, is 
the index of a mind that sees things in sharply defined 
outline and fastens itself firmly on to realities, this 
being further assisted by a complete mastery over the 
resources of the language employed, so that ideas do 
not have to force themselves through clouds of words. 


If to these qualities we add an intense sensibility to 
all kinds of external impressions, and a faculty of 
passionate response, brought to the service of clear, 
intellectual perceptions, we shall have seized hold of 
the outstanding features of De Vere's mentality. The 
result is the production of poems which impress the 
mind with a sense of their unity. The ideas cohere, 
following one another in a natural sequence, and leave 
in the reader's mind a sense of completeness and 
artistic finish. 

That this concinnity is characteristic of Shake- 
speare's mind and work needs no insisting on at 
the present day. It is one of the distinctive marks of 
the individual sonnets of Shakespeare and we fear 
a much rarer feature of reflective poems than it ought 
to be ; the lack of it being responsible for that dis- 
tressing feeling of " jumpiness " so frequently ex- 
perienced in reading works of this order. In this 
matter of cohesion and unity we have certainly met 
with no similar correspondence between Shakespeare 
and any other of the many Elizabethan poets whose 
work we have been constrained to read in the course 
of this enquiry, nor any other poet with the same vast 
range of sentiment between charming love lyric and 
violently passionate verses. 

Again, as there are no hazy atmospheres about the Richness of 
images which such a mind employs and no words are imagery, 
wasted in struggling to define, we get quite a wealth 
of images presented to the mind in rapid succession 
In reading the poems of De Vere, as in reading the 
works of Shakespeare, one lives in a world of similes 
and metaphors. In both cases there is a wealth of 
appropriate classical allusions ; but this is mingled 
harmoniously with an equal wealth of illustration 


drawn from the common experiences and what appear 
like the personal pursuits of life. 

Allied possibly to these mental qualities is the colour 
consciousness which is observable in both groups of 
writings. There is also the attendant sensibility to 
flowers, the favourite flowers in both cases being the 
lily, the rose, and the violet. 

Oxford's Turning from these mental indications to the matter 

character in . . 

his writings, of moral dispositions, we find in the poems the impress 

of a character quite above what one would gather 
either from the biography in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, or from the scattered references to him in 
other works. There is, moreover, in addition to the 
poems in Dr. Grosart's collection, a letter written by 
the Earl of Oxford and attached to one of the poems, 
which gives us a glimpse into the nature of the man 
himself as he was in these early years. Whatever may 
have been the pose he thought fit to adopt in dealing 
with some of the men about Elizabeth's court, this 
letter bears ample testimony to the generosity and 
largeness of his disposition, the clearness and sobriety 
of his judgment, and the essential manliness of his 
actions and bearing towards literary men whom he 
considered worthy of encouragement. His poems may 
in a measure reflect the mannerisms of his day, but in 
the letter we get a glimpse of the man himself ; and if 
he comes to be acclaimed as Shakespeare this letter 
will be an invaluable treasure as the first, and it may 
prove the only, Shakespearean letter bearing upon 
literary matters and cast in literary form, if we except 
the dedications of his poems to Southampton. The 
fragments we get of Oxford's letters in the Calendered 
State Papers and other contemporary manuscripts are 
generally in a formal business cast with only occasional 
poetic or literary flashes. 


As a letter it is, of course, prose ; but it is the prose Oxford's 
of a genuine poet : its " terse ingenuity," wealth prose 
of figurative speech, and even its musical quality being 
almost as marked as they are in his verse. We subjoin 
a few passages, asking the reader to consider that the 
writer was but twenty-six years old when the letter 
was published. It has reference to a translation that 
had been submitted to him, though apparently not 
intended for publication, but which was published by 
his orders presumably, therefore, at his expense. 

" After I had perused your letters, good Master The 
Bedingfield, finding in them your request far differing i et ter. 
from the desert of your labour, I could not choose but 
greatly doubt, whether it were better for me to yield 
to your desire or execute mine own intention towards 
the publishing of your book. . . . 

" At length I determined it were better to deny your 
unlawful request, than to grant or condescend to the 
concealment of so worthy a work. Whereby, as you 
have been profitted in the translating, so many may 
reap knowledge by the reading of the same. . . . 
What doth it avail a mass of gold to be continually 
imprisoned in your bags and never to be employed to 
your use : I do not doubt even you so think of your 
studies and delightful Muses. What do they avail if 
you do not participate them to others ? . . . What 
doth avail the vine unless another delighteth in the 
grape ? What doth avail the rose unless another took 
pleasure in the smell ? . . . . 

"Why should this man be esteemed more than 
another but for his virtue, through which every man 
desireth to be accounted of ? . . . 

" And in mine opinion as it beautifyeth a fair woman 
to be decked with pearls and precious stones, so much 


more it ornifyeth a gentleman to be furnished in mind 
with glittering virtues. 

" Wherefore considering the small harm I do to you, 
the great good I do to others I prefer mine own intention 
to discover your volume before your request to secret 
the same. Wherein I may seem to you to play the 
part of the cunning and expert mediciner. . . . 
. . . So you being sick of so much doubt in your 
own proceedings, through which infirmity you are 
desirous to bury your work in the grave of oblivion, 
yet I am nothing dainty to deny your request. 
. . . I shall erect you such a monument that in 
your lifetime you shall see how noble a shadow of your 
virtuous life shall remain when you are dead and gone. 
. . . Thus earnestly desiring you not to repugn 
the setting forth of your own proper studies. 

" From your loving and assured friend, 


We ask our readers to familiarize themselves thoroughly 
with the diction of this letter, and then to read the 
dedication of " Venus and Adonis." So similar is 
the style that it is hardly necessary to make any 
allowance for the seventeen intervening years. 

Wliilst, then, we find him paying high compliments 
to a literary man, from whom he could expect no return, 
at the time when others were penning extravagant 
eulogies to the Queen, we have not a single line of 
poetry from the pen of Oxford, ministering to the royal 
vanity, and this notwithstanding the high place he 
undoubtedly held in the queen's regards and her 
indulgence of what seemed to others like a provocative 
wilfulness in him. This absence of compliments to 
royalty is also characteristic of the Shakespeare work, 
and has been the occasion for much surprised comment. 

Reviewing the present chapter as a whole it will be General 


recognized that to the remarkable set of resemblances 
with which we dealt in the last chapter, must now 
be added an equally remarkable set of correspondences 
in the general literary situation and in the leading 
characteristics of Shakespeare's and De Vere's writings. 
And when the value of the authorities cited is duly 
weighed it will be readily conceded that, whatever 
may be said for the rest of the argument, it cannot 
be urged that in dealing with the question of Shake- 
spearean honours, we are inviting the public to consider 
the claims of one who can be lightly brushed aside, as 
in any way " out of the running." 


UP to this point we have sought to rest our case upon 
the judgment of men of some authority in Elizabethan 
literature. Another step, however, requires to be 
taken in which there is distinctly new ground to be 
broken, and where, therefore, such external support 
can hardly be looked for. This decisive step is to bring 
the writings of Edward de Vere alongside the Shake- 
spearean writings, in order to judge whether or not 
the former contain the natural seeds and clear promise 
of the latter. As this has never been done before, being 
indeed the special outcome of the particular researches 
upon which we are at present engaged, no outside 
authority is available ; and, therefore, all we can hope 
to do is to submit such points for consideration as 
may give a lead in this new line of investigation, by 
which eventually, we believe, our case will either 
stand or fall. 

Six-lined So far as forms of versification are concerned De 

Vere presents just that rich variety which is so notice- 
able in Shakespeare ; and almost all the forms he 
employs we find reproduced in the Shakespeare work. 
When his contemporary spoke of his excellence in 
" the rare devices of poetry " we recognize at once 
his affinity with the master poet, and the distinction 
between him and his rival Sidney, who headed a party 
that brought ridicule upon themselves by attempts 
to set up artificial rules that would have fettered the 

1 63 


development of our national poetry. Towards such 
tongue-tying of art by authority Oxford was instinc- 
tively antagonistic, and the rich variety of poetic 
forms, even in this small collection, is the natural 
result of the free play he allowed to his genius. At 
the same time Oxford had his partialities, and the six- 
lined pentameter stanza, with rhymes as in " Venus 
and Adonis," was undoubtedly a favourite with him ; 
since it appears in seven out of the twenty-two pieces 
that have been preserved. How great a favourite it 
was with " Shakespeare," has perhaps not been pointed 
out before. In addition to its employment for the 
first of the two long poems we find it frequently used 
in his plays. " Romeo and Juliet " has two such 
stanzas : the play, in fact, ending with one of them. 
We find it also in " Love's Labour's Lost," " A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream," " The Taming of the Shrew," 
and " The Comedy of Errors." In " Richard II " it 
occurs worked into the text in such a way as easily 
to escape detection ; the six lines beginning : 

" But now the blood of twenty thousand men." 

(Act III, s. 2.) 

As it is not the only case of this kind it is probable that 
it may be found in other plays not mentioned above. 
These plays, it will be observed, belong mainly to what 
is regarded as Shakespeare's early work. 

This particular form of stanza we were tempted at The poems 
one time to call the De Vere stanza ; for although L* or( j vaux. 
Chaucer has a six-lined stanza it is quite different from 
this. Spenser uses it in the first part of the " Shepherd's 
Calendar " ; but De Vere's work in this form had 
been before the public for some years before the 
" Shepherd's Calendar " appeared. There is, however, 
one possible competitor for the honour ; and the 


mention of his name will introduce an interesting little 
point which may have a bearing upon our argument. 
In Dr. Grosart's collection, the poet whose work im- 
mediately precedes that of De Vere is Thomas Lord 
Vaux, the representative of another old family whose 
ancestor, like De Vere's, had " come over with the 
Conqueror " ; a family interesting to people in the 
North of England as having been lords of Gilsland. 
Some doubt seems to exist as to whether the poet 
was really Thomas Lord Vaux, who was a generation 
older than Edward De Vere and who died in 1562, or 
his son William, who was De Vere's contemporary. 
It is possible that both father's and son's work appear 
mingled together in Dr. Grosart's collection, but the 
collector himself pronounces emphatically and ex- 
clusively in favour of the elder man. In this case the 
honour of inventing this particular stanza must belong 
to Thomas Lord Vaux unless an earlier poet should 
subsequently be found using it. What is of special 
interest is that this particular form of verse is not the 
only thing that De Vere appropriates from Lord 
Vaux. Although his own poetry is of quite a superior 
order to that of his aristocratic forerunner in verse 
making, a close comparison of the two sets of verses 
as they stand together in this important collection 
leaves little room for doubt that, when as a young man 
De Vere began to write poetry he was strongly under 
Shakespeare the influence of Lord Vaux' work, if he did not actually, 
Lord Vaux. as is natural to youth, take Lord Vaux as his model. 
Now, by a curious chance, the last poem in the " Vaux " 
collection, the poem therefore that immediately precedes 
the De Vere collection, is the identical song of Lord 
Vaux' which " Shakespeare " adapts for the use of 
the gravedigger in " Hamlet." This may not have 


much weight as evidence. Nevertheless, if it can be 
maintained, as it reasonably may, that Edward de 
Vere in his earliest poetic efforts built upon foundations 
that Lord Vaux had laid, then the reappearance of an 
old song of Lord Vaux', in Shakespeare's supreme 
masterpiece, forty years after the death of the writer 
of the song, is certainly not without significance as 
part of our general argument. 

Before leaving this question of the six-lined stanza 
we would point out that one feature common to the 
De Vere and the Shakespeare work is the appearance 
of single isolated stanzas. For example, the only 
stanza in " The Taming of the Shrew " is in this form ; 
and no less than three of the poems in De Vere's 
small collection are single stanzas of this kind. A 
fondness for other six-lined stanzas differing in small 
details from this one is also characteristic of both sets 
of work. It is curious, too, how often " Shakespeare," 
even in his blank verse, casts a speech or a thought 
into a set of six lines. 

Turning now to the question of the theme or subject Central 
matter of De Vere's poetry, we find that whatever its 
surface appearance, its underlying interest is always, 
as in Shakespeare, human nature. In handling this 
theme figures of speech borrowed from the classics and 
taken for the most part from Ovid are as copious and 
are introduced as naturally as the ordinary words of 
his mother-tongue, illuminating his thought as aptly 
as any homely simile. At the same time we find the 
same Shakespearean wealth of illustration drawn from 
the common objects about him : ordinary flowers ; 
common materials like glass, crystal, amber, wax, 
sugar, gall and wine, and a host of other things ; the 
deer, hawks, hounds, the mastiff, birds, worms, the 


bee, drone, honey, the stars, streams, hill, tower, 
cannon, and so on. All these images crowd his lines, 
not as themes in themselves, but as similes and meta- 
phors for handling his central theme of human life and 
human nature. 

Personality. go f ar as fh e natural disposition of the writer is 
concerned, it is fortunate for the name of Edward de 
Vere that we have these poems collected by Dr. Grosart 
and the letter included in the collection. The per- 
sonality they reflect is perfectly in harmony with that 
which seems to peer through the writings of Shake- 
speare, though in many ways out of agreement with 
what Oxford is represented as being in several of the 
references to him with which we have met. There 
are traces undoubtedly of those defects which the 
sonnets disclose in " Shakespeare," but through it all 
there shines the spirit of an intensely affectionate 
nature, highly sensitive, and craving for tenderness 
and sympathy. He is a man with faults, but stamped 
with reality and truth ; honest even in his errors, 
making no pretence of being better than he was, and 
recalling frequently to our minds the lines in one of 
Shakespeare's sonnets : 

1 ' I am that I am, and they that level 
At my abuses reckon up their own." 

As one reads the poems and then recalls particular 
references to him one feels that injustice has somehow 
been done, and that a great work of rectification is 
urgently needed, quite apart from the question of 
Shakespearean authorship. 

We shall now proceed to place side by side some 
passages from Edward de Vere's poetry and others 
from " Shakespeare's " writings which illustrate their 
correspondence either in mentality or literary style. 


Beginning with the poem on " Women " already Haggard 
given in full, we note first of all its similarity to hawk - 
Shakespeare's work in the general characteristics of 
diction, succinctness, cohesion and unity ; and also 
in the similes employed. The word " haggard," a 
wild or imperfectly trained hawk, is the word which 
naturally arrests the attention of the modern reader. 
Now " Shakespeare " uses it five times, and out of 
these no less than four are when he uses the word as 
a figure of speech in referring to fickleness or indiscipline 
in women. In " Othello " it is used identically as in the 
poem by De Vere. meaning a woman who " flies from 
man to man." 

"If I do find her haggard, 

Though that her jesses were my dear heart strings, 
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind 
To play at fortune " (III, 3). 

Even the sentiment and idea is exactly the same as 
in De Vere's poem : 

" Like haggards wild they range, 
These gentle birds that fly from man to man. 
Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist 
And let them fly, fair fools, which way they list ? " 

In the same poem he speaks of making a " disport " 
of " training them to our lure," which is quite sugges- 
tive of this from " The Taming of the Shrew " 
(IV. i) : 

" For then she never looks upon her lure. 
Another way I have to man my haggard, 
To make her come and know her keeper's call." 

Again De Vere speaks of the subtle oaths, the 
fawning and flattering by which men " train them to 


their lure " in exactly the same vein as that in which 
Hero in " Much Ado " says (III. i.) : 

" Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing 
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it. 
I know her spirits are as coy and wild 
As haggards of the rock." 

In making this comparison we have not had before 
us a large number of instances out of which it was 
possible to select a few that happened to be similar. 
What we have in this instance is, as a matter of fact, 
a complete accordance at all points in the use of an 
unusual word and figure of speech. Indeed if we make 
a piece of patchwork of all the passages in Shakespeare 
in which the word " haggard " occurs we can virtually 
reconstruct De Vere's single poem on " Women." 
Such an agreement not only supports us in seeking 
to establish the general harmony of De Vere's work 
with Shakespeare's, but carries us beyond the imme- 
diate needs of our argument ; for it constrains us to 
claim that either both sets of expressions are actually 
from the same pen, or " Shakespeare " pressed that 
licence to borrow, which was prevalent in his day, far 
beyond its legitimate limits. In our days we should 
not hesitate to describe such passages as glaring 
plagiarism, unless they happened to come from the 
same pen. 

Lily and We shall take next some verses from a poem already 

referred to in a passage quoted from the " Cambridge 
History of Literature." This is the " charming 
lyric " there mentioned, entitled " What Cunning can 
express ? " and which appeared in " England's 
Helicon " in 1600 as " What Shepherd can express ? " 
How these and others of Oxford's verses have escaped 

for so long the attention of the compilers of anthologies 
is one of the mysteries of literature. 

"The Lily in the field 

That glories in his white, 
For pureness now must yield 

And render up his right. 
Heaven pictured in her face 
Doth promise joy and grace. 

Fair Cynthia's silver light, 

That beats on running streams, 

Compares not with her white, 
Whose hairs are all sun beams. 

So bright my Nymph doth shine, 

As day unto my eyne. 

With this there is a red 

Exceeds the Damaske-Rose, 
Which in her cheeks is spread ; 

Whence every favour grows. 
In sky there is no star 
But she surmounts it far. 

When Phoebus from his bed 

Of Thetis doth arise, 
The morning blushing red 

In fair Carnation wise, 
He shows in my Nymph's face 
As Queen of every grace. 

This pleasant Lily white, 

This taint of roseate red, 
This Cynthia's silver light, 

This sweet fair Dea spred, 
These sunbeams in mine eye, 
These beauties make me die." 

This is the only poem in the De Vere collection in 
which the writer lingers tenderly and seriously on the 
beauty of a woman's face ; and in it, it will be ob- 
served, his whole treatment turns upon the contrast 
of white and red, the lily and the damask rose. 


The beauty It is a striking fact then that the only poem of 
Lucrece. ., Snakespeare ' s in wh i ch he dwells at i eng th in the 

same spirit upon the same theme is dominated by the 
identical contrast. This is the set of stanzas in which 
he deals with the beauty of Lucrece (Stanzas 2, 4, 8, 
9, 10, n). Indeed, there is hardly a term used by 
De Vere in the poem quoted above, which is not 
reproduced in these stanzas. Whilst drawing special 
attention to the red and white contrast, and to the 
general similarity in tone and delicacy of touch, we 
also put in italics a number of the subordinate out- 
standing words that appear in both poems. 

Stanza 2. 

" To praise the clear unmatched red and white 
Which triumph'd in the sky of his delight, 
Where mortal stars as bright as heaven's beauties, 
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties." 

Stanza 4. 

"The morning's silver melting dew 
Against the golden splendour of the sun." 

Stanza 6. 

"So rich a thing braving compare." 

Stanza 8. 

' ' When beauty boasted blushes, in despite 
Virtue would stain that o'er with silver white." 

Stanza 10. 

"This heraldry in Lucrece 's face was seen, 
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white 
Of either colour was the other queen." 

Stanza u. 

" This silent war of lilies and of roses, 
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field." 

Stanza 11 brings to a close this pcem on the beauty 
of Lucrece ; but the conception which dcrninatjes it 


is maintained throughout the work to which it belongs. 
It occurs in stanza 37 : 

"First red as roses that on lawn we lay, 
Then white as lawn the roses took away." 

Stanza 56. 

" Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under." 

Stanza 69. 

"The colour of thy face, 
That even for anger makes the lily pale, 
And the red rose blush at her own disgrace." 

That all this belongs to the personality of " Shake- 
speare " himself will be seen from the following 
quotations from the sonnets : 

"Nor did I wonder at the lily's white, Shakespeare 

Nor praise the deep vermilion of the rose." on the lily 

(Sonnet 98.) and the rose. 
"The lily I condemned for thy hand, 
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair. 
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, 
One blushing shame, another white despair, 
A third, nor red nor white had stol'n of both." 

(Sonnet 99.) 
"I have seen roses damask'd red and white. 

(Sonnet 130.) 

It also appears in the play of " Coriolanus " (II. i) : 

' ' Our veiled dames commit the war of white and 

And in " Love's Labour's Lost " (I. 2) : 

1 ' If she be made of white and red 
Her faults will ne'er be known, etc." 

' ' A dangerous rhyme, my masters, against the reason 
of white and red." 

In " Venus " this red and white contrast is men- 
tioned no less than three times in the first thirteen 



" The Finally we have this from the " Passionate Pilgrim," 

which bears more than one mark of Shakespearean or 
De Vere influence, if not of actual origin : 

"Fair is my love but not so fair as fickle, 
Mild as a dove, but neither true nor trusty, 
Bright as a glass and yet as glass is, brittle. 
Softer than wax, and yet as iron rusty ; 
A lily pale with damask dye to grace her, 
None fairer nor none falser to deface her." 

This is not the place to discuss the mystery of 
Jaggard's piratical publication. We insert this parti- 
cular stanza because, if it was not " Shakespeare's," 
it at any rate shows what was considered at that time 
to be characteristic of Shakespeare's work. It will 
be noticed that it is in the familiar " Venus " stanza ; 
it turns upon the idea of feminine fickleness ; it brings 
in the lily and damask contrast ; at the same time the 
similes of glass and wax are distinctive of De Vere's 
work. Though the stanza contains figures and phrases 
suggestive of De Vere or Shakespeare, as a piece of 
versification it is quite inferior in several points. It 
looks rather like a piece of patchwork from De Vere's 
poems ; and if this is what it really is, to have it put 
forward as Shakespeare's work suggests that Jaggard 
either knew or suspected that De Vere was " Shake- 
speare." In this connection it is interesting to note 
that the folio edition of Shakespeare, which was 
published just a generation later, was printed by 
some one with a different Christian name but with 
the same unusual surname of Jaggard. Sir Sidney Lee 
ascribes the printing to the same man, who had 
associated his son with the issue of the later work. 

Returning to De Vere's verses the outstanding word 
is " damask," associated with the " damask rose." 


In the small collection of his poems this word occurs The damask 

twice, and in Shakespeare the word occurs six times, r 

one of which is of doubtful Shakespearean origin. On 

both of the occasions on which De Vere uses the word 

it has reference to a woman's complexion, and in four 

out of the five times when " Shakespeare " uses the 

word it is used in precisely the same connection. 

Before leaving this matter it will be well at this Poetic unity, 
point to emphasize a principle which is vital to the 
argument contained in this chapter : namely, that 
we are not here primarily concerned with the mere 
piling up of parallel passages. What matters most of 
all is mental correspondence and the general unity of 
treatment which follows from it. Of this, the poem by 
De Vere, and the set of stanzas from " Lucrece," form 
an excellent example to begin with. Here we have 
what are virtually two complete poems upon one 
theme, dominated by an identical conception, per- 
meated by precisely the same spirit, illustrated by the 
same imagery and clothed in a remarkably similar 
vocabulary. Such a comparison, it hardly needs 
pointing out, stands on a totally different plane from 
the Baconian collations of words and phrases. The 
kind of criticicms which have quite justly been levelled 
at these mere text-gathering labours do not, we believe, 
apply to the main body of the comparisons treated in 
this chapter. 

Turning now from such details oi workmanship as Love's 
have governed the above comparison we may now 
consider a more general matter : his treatment of the 
subject of Love. We find first of all in these early 
poems of De Vere's something very far removed from 
the conventional or weakly sentimental expressions of 
affection then in vogue. In some of Philip Sidney's 


early poetry this kind of thing becomes positively 
silly. In De Vere's work on the other hand we have 
a firmly knit personified treatment of Love in the 
abstract, the dominant notes of which are as unaffected 
as they are Shakespearean. There is, in particular, a 
set of lyrics highly praised by more than one writer, 
which are in the form of a dialogue with " Desire." 
The prominence of this word and idea in the work of 
" Shakespeare " and of De Vere will receive special 
attention later : for the present we shall simply take 
a few lines from the latter as bearing upon the theme 
of Love : 

"Is he god of peace or war ? 
What be his arms ? What is his might ? 
His war is peace, his peace is war, 
Each grief of his is but delight ; 
His bitter ball is sugared bliss. 
What be his gifts ? How doth he pay ? 
Sweet dreams in sleep, new thoughts in day. 
Beholding eyes, in mind received. 

* * * 

What labours doth this god allow ? 
Sit still and muse to make a vow. 
Their ladies if they true remain. 

* * * 

Why is he naked painted ? Blind ? 

* * * 

Though living long he is yet a child, 
A god begot beguiled. 

* . * * 

When wert thou born, Desire ? 
In pride and pomp of May. 

* * * 

What was thy meat and daily food ? 
Sad sighs and great annoy. 

* * * 

What hadst thou then to drink ? 
Unfeigned lovers' tears. 


As part of our work is to represent the process of 
investigation, it may be worth while to indicate its 
operation in this instance. When the contents of De 
Vere's poem had become quite familiar as a result of 
repeated reading, the next step was to select the plays 
of " Shakespeare " in which we were most likely to 
find the substance of this poem deposited. Amongst 
these, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" naturally .. A 
occupied a foremost place. After then, the reader has, Midsummer 


in his turn, thoroughly familiarized himself with these Dream." 
lines let him refer to " A Midsummer Night's Dream " 
(I. i) and begin reading from, " The course of true love 
never did run smooth," continuing to the end of the 
scene and noticing specially such expressions as the 
following : 

"True lovers have been ever cross'd." 

* * * 
"It is a customary cross 

As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs, 
Wishes and tears." 

* * * 

1 ' By all the vows that ever men have broke 
In number more than women ever spoke." 

* * * 

" We must starve our sight from lover's food." 

* * * 

" Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind." 

* * * 

"Therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." 
" Therefore is Love said to be a child 
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled." 

As De Vere's lines are from lyrics on Desire it is 
interesting to note that the word " desire " occurs no 
less than three times in the part of the scene that 
precedes the lines we quote from " Shakespeare," 


whilst the idea of Desire presides over the whole scene. 
In both cases we have passing allusions to the skylark 
and the month of May, revealing not only a similar 
concatenation of ideas, but also of their associated 
words and figures of speech. Had the lines been 
culled from different parts of De Vere's work on the 
one hand, or from different parts of Shakespeare's 
on the other, their force would not have been the same. 
It is the unity of treatment in each case and a simi- 
larity extending to identical words and even rhymes 
(" child " with " beguiled ") which is so suggestive 
of a single mind at work in both cases : a theory 
strengthened by the absence of anything analogous 
in the work of contemporary poets. 

Love's This is further supported by the appearance of 

iss ' similar rhetorical forms in dealing with the same 
theme. In " A Midsummer Night's Dream " we have 
the following : 

Hernia. The more I hate the more he follows me. 
Helena. The more I love the more he hateth me. 

In another poem of De Vere's we have the following : 

" The more I followed one the more she fled away 
As Daphne did, full long ago, Apollo's wishful prey. 
The more my plaints I do resound the less she 

pities me." 

This idea of Love's contrariness runs right through 
the poem of De Vere's from which the last lines are 
quoted ; and we might almost describe "A Midsummer 
Night's Dream " as a burlesque on the same idea. With 
the two passages just quoted in mind turn to Act II, 
scene i in the play, and read the encounter between 


Demetrius and Helena, where the former enters with 
the latter following him. 

D. " Get thee gone and follow me no more. Do I not 
in plainest truth tell you I do not nor I cannot love 

H. " And even for that do I love you the more. The 
more you beat me, I will fawn on you : only give me 
leave, unworthy as I am to follow you. Run when 
you will, the story shall be changed ; Apollo runs 
and Daphne holds the chase." 

Here again it will be noticed we have an exact 
correspondence in conception, heightened by the 
introduction of Apollo and Daphne in both cases ; 
and Demetrius's treatment of Helena's " plaints " is 
exactly described in De Vere's line : 

' ' The more my plaints I do resound the less she pities me. ' ' 

A most signal instance of the essential unity of the 
two sets of work we are now comparing, is presented 
in connection with this idea of " Desire." By far the 
longest of De Vere's poems, containing no less than 
nineteen stanzas, and representing nearly a quarter 
of the entire collection of his poetry, is on this theme : 
a theme which frequently reappears in the other three 

As to its position in Shakespeare's works it will 
suffice to quote the following passage from Mr. Frank 
Harris's work on " The Man Shakespeare " : 

" Shakespeare gave immortal expression to desire 
and its offspring, love, jealousy, etc. . . . Desire, 
in especial, has inspired him with phrases more 
magically expressive even than those gasped out by 
panting Sappho." 

In De Vere's work, again, Desire is personified just 


as we find it in stanzas 101 and 102 of Shakespeare's 
" Lucrece " ; and the word " desire " ranks, for 
importance, in the vocabulary of the great dramas, 
with the word " will," to which, as Sir Sidney Lee 
points out, it was closely allied in Shakespeare's day. 
This single word, then, forms an important bridge 
between the two sets of writings ; and, by itself, makes 
quite a significant addition to the evidence in support 
of a common authorship. 

Love's In a somewhat different strain is " Shakespeare's " 

treatment of Love in the dialogue between Valentine 
and Proteus in " The Two Gentlemen of Verona " 
(I. i) : 

"To be in love where scorn is bought with groans, 
Coy looks with heart-sore sighs, one fading moment's 


With twenty watchful weary tedious nights. 
If haply won perhaps a hapless gain ; 
If lost why then a grievous labour won : 
However, but a folly bought with wit 
Of else a wit by folly vanquished. 

As in the sweetest bud 
The eating canker dwells, so eating love 
Inhabits in the finest wits of all. 

By love the young and tender wit 
Is turn'd to folly 
Losing all the fair effects of future hopes. 

* * * * 

But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee 
That art a votary to Fond Desire? 

* * * * 

Made me neglect my studies, lose my time, 
War with good counsel, set the world at nought; 
Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with thought. 

Again we must ask the reader first of all to make 
himself thoroughly familiar with these lines, noticing 
the wit and folly paradoxes, wasted time, defeated 


hopes, and, though last not least, the concluding 
rhyme. Now compare this with the following from 
two of De Vere's poems : 

" My meaning is to work 
What wonders love hath wrought ; 
Wherewith I muse why men of wit 
Have love so dearly bought." 

" It's now a peace and then a sudden war, 
A hope consumed before it is conceived. 
At hand it fears ; it menaceth afar ; 
And he that gains is most of all deceived. 
Love whets the dullest wits, his plagues be such, 
But makes the wise by pleasing dote as much. 

" Love's a desire, which, for to wait a time, 
Doth lose an age of years, and so doth pass 
As doth a shadow sever 'd from his prime, 
Seeming as though it were, yet never was. 
Leaving behind nought but repentent thought 
Of days ill spent on that which profits nought." 

Here again we have an exact correspondence short 
of mere transcription, even to the extent of an identical 
rhyme ; whilst Valentine's raillery of his friend, that 
he had become " a votary to Fond Desire," is redolent 
of De Vere's verses on this theme, which finish with the 
words : 

" Then Fond Desire farewell, 
Thou art no mate for me, 
I should be loath, methinks, to dwell, 
With such a one as thee." 

As a final remark on the question of love, we shall 
merely point out, that, if the reader wishes to have a 
summary of Edward de Vere's treatment of the 
subject, let him turn to Shakespeare's " Venus and 
Adonis " and read the first five of the last ten 
stanzas of the poem, in which Venus is prophesying 
the fate of love. 



Love poems 




When the passages we have quoted are weighed 
carefully side by side, phrase by phrase and word by 
word, hardly any one will question the similarity of 
mind behind them, and most people, we believe, will 
agree that there are striking resemblances of expression. 
Exact repetition, of course, is not to be looked for ; 
for one of the astonishing features of " Shakespeare's " 
work is the freshness and constant variety maintained 
throughout so great a mass of writing. But, to the 
modest contention that one contains the possible 
germs of the other, few readers will have any difficulty 
in acceding. An intensified interest in De Vere's work 
will doubtless cause everything he has written to 
be subjected to a most careful scrutiny, and its com- 
parison specially with the lyric work of Shakespeare 
with appropriate allowances for the differences between 
early and matured work will probably settle con- 
clusively the claims we are now making on his behalf. 

As reflecting the correspondence, alike in mental 
constitution and general literary style in another 
vein, take first of all the following three verses, each of 
which forms the opening stanza of a separate poem of 
De Vere's : 

" Fain would I sing but fury makes me mad, 
And rage hath sworn to seek revenge on wrong. 
My mazed mind in malice is so set 
As death shall daunt my deadly dolours long. 
Patience perforce is such a pinching pain, 
As die I will or suffer wrong again." 

" If care or skill could conquer vain desire, 
Or reason's reins my strong affections stay, 
There should my sighs to quiet breast retire, 
And shun such sights as secret thoughts betray ; 
Uncomely love, which now lurks in my breast 
Should cease, my grief by wisdom's power oppress'd." 


" Love is a discord and a strange divorce 
Betwixt our sense and rest ; by whose power, 
As mad with reason we admit that force 
Which wit or reason never may " (word lost 

through an obvious misprint in Dr. Grosart's 


We would draw attention first to the " double- 
barrelled alliterations " contained especially in the 
first of these stanzas an artifice of Shakespeare's upon 
which writers have commented. 

We have quoted stanzas from three separate poems shake- 
in order to show that the frame of mind they express spea fj s " 
a restlessness of the emotional nature was charac- distraction, 
teristic of the poet. Now take the sentiment and 
manner of expression represented by the three stanzas 
as a whole and compare them with the following 
passages from two of Shakespeare's sonnets (140 and 

147) I- 

1. " For if I should despair I should grow mad, 

And in my madness might speak ill of thee, 
Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad 
Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be." 

2. " My reason, the physician to my love, 

Hath left me, and I desperate now approve ; 
Desire is death, which, physic did except. 
Past cure I am now reason is past care, 
And frantic mad with evermore unrest. 
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are 
At random from the truth, vainly expressed ; 
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright 
Who art as black as hell and dark as night." 

We might safely challenge any one to find in the whole 
range of Elizabethan literature another instance of a 
poet expressing the same kind of thought and feeling 
in lines of the same distinctive quality as is represented 


by the two sets here presented for comparison. Un- 
supported by any other evidence they would justify 
a very strong ground of suspicion that Edward de Vere 
and " Shakespeare " were one and the same man. It 
is of first importance to keep in mind that the lines here 
quoted from " Shakespeare " are not extracted from 
a drama, but are from the most realistic of personal 
poetry. Even those who would deny an autobio- 
graphical significance to many of the sonnets admit 
the intensely realistic character of the particular group 
from which the above are taken. We have therefore, 
in each case, the simple and direct expression of the 
private mind of the poet in a vein so distinctive as to 
leave hardly any room for doubt that both are from 
one pen. 

interroga- Of rhetorical forms common to the two sets of 
writings, a minor point is a fondness for stanzas formed 
of a succession of interrogatives for the expression of 
strong emotion. Indeed, in the De Vere work, we have 
an entire sonnet formed of a series of questions. It 
is the only sonnet in the collection ; and the most 
important point about it is that it is in the form which 
we now call the Shakespearean sonnet. This is an 
important matter and must receive attention in another 
connection. We shall, therefore, give a stanza in the 
interrogative form from another poem. 

" And shall I live on earth to be her thrall ? 
And shall I live and serve her all in vain ? 
And shall I kiss the steps that she lets fall ? 
And shall I pray the gods to keep the pain 
From her that is so cruel still ? 
No, no, on her work all your will." 

Similar series of interrogations occur here and there 
throughout the most impassioned parts of " Lucrece " ; 


and in the Shakespearean part of " Henry VI," part 3 
(III. 3), we have the following : 

" Did I forget that by the house of York 
My father came untimely to his death ? 
Did I let pass the abuse done to my niece ? 
Did I impale him with the regal crown ? 
Did I put Henry from his native right ? 
And am I guerdon 'd at the last with shame ? " 
(A six-lined fragment of blank verse.) 

It is difficult to read these two sets of lines side by 
side without a feeling that both are from the same 
pen, and when, in the same play, we find Queen 
Margaret answering her own question with a repeated 
negative, resembling the last line of Oxford's stanza, 
the resemblance is most striking. 

" What's worse than murderer that I may name it ? 
No, no, my heart will burst an if I speak." 
(3 Henry VI, v. 5.) 

Continuing these comparisons of style we would stanzas 
ask the reader to turn to " Lucrece," and commence 
reading from stanza 122, which begins : 

' ' Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud ? ' ' 
and read on to stanza 141, which begins : 

" Let him have time to tear his curled hair." 

In addition to the two stanzas which illustrate the 
succession of questions just dealt with, he will notice 
quite a number of stanzas in which each line, in its 
opening phrase, is but the repetition of a single form. 
Stanza 127, for example, has lines beginning : 
"Thou makest," "Thou blow'st," "Thou 

smother'st," "Thou foul abettor," "Thou 

plantest," " Thou ravisher." 


Stanza 128 : 

" Thy secret pleasure," " Thy private feasting," etc. 
Stanza 135 : 

' To unmask falsehood," ' To stamp the seal," etc 
Similar stanzas are also found in other parts of the poem. 
Stanza 82 : 

" By knighthood," " By her untimely fears," etc. 
Stanza 95 : 

" Thou nobly base," " Thou their fair life," etc. 
Or, in stanzas 106 and 107, where it takes the form of 
alternate lines : 

" He like a thievish dog," " She like a wearied 
lamb," etc. 

Now De Vere's poem from which we last quoted is 
composed of six six-lined stanzas almost entirely built 
up in this way : the stanza already given and also : 
Stanza i : 

" The trickling tears," " The secret sighs," etc. 
Stanza 3 : 

" The stricken deer," " The haggard hawk," etc. 
Stanza 4 : 

" She is my joy," " She is my pain," etc. 
A dosing Then, as a final comparison of verses so constructed, 

malediction. . , , . , , , , , , 

we shall place side by side the last stanza m the series 
from " Lucrece " (114), with the last stanza in this 
poem of De Vere's : the stanza in which the poet, 
or respective poets, wind up with a closing malediction : 

Shakespeare's " Lucrece " ; stanza 141 : 

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


De Vere's " Rejected Lover " : 

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

Again we repeat, if these are not both from the same 
pen, never were there two poets living at the same 
time whose mentality and workmanship bore so 
striking a resemblance. Traces of this kind of work 
may, no doubt, be found in Chaucer, and there can 
be little doubt that De Vere was under the influence 
of Chaucer's poetry ; it is also one of the literary forms 
he seems to have learnt from Lord Vaux, to which 
reference has already been made, but in De Vere, and 
in Shakespeare's " Lucrece," it assumes a marked 
development, and in the verses just cited, produces a 
startling correspondence quite unparalleled, so far as 
we know, in the poetry of the time. 

So striking is the similarity of the two stanzas 
quoted above tharit hardly seems possible to further 
strengthen the case they represent ; and yet, in the 
stanza immediately preceding that quoted from 
" Lucrece " the following line occurs : 

"To make him moan, but pity not his moans." 

This is almost identical with De Vere's line : 
"And let her moan and none lament her need." 

The former is hardly entitled to be called even a 
paraphrase of the latter, so nearly a copy is it. Again 
we point out that we have not had to search the pages 
of " Shakespeare " to find the selected line, but that 


it stands in immediate juxtaposition to the particular 
stanza under consideration. A comparison of these 
two verses, taken along with the particular line, en- 
titles us to say that " Shakespeare " was either a kind 
of literary understudy of De Vere's, guilty of a most 
unseemly plagiarism from his chief, or he was none 
other than the Earl of Oxford himself. 
A peculiar As an example of a very unusual literary form of 
De Vere's, reproduced in Shakespeare, we give the 
following : 

De Vert: 

1 ' What plague is greater than the grief of mind ? 
The grief of mind that eats in every vein, 
In every vein that leaves such clots behind, 
Such clots behind as breed such bitter pain. 
So bitter pain that none shall ever find 
What plague is greater than the grief of mind? " 

This repetition of the last phrase of each line in the 
succeeding line occurs in " The Comedy of Errors " 
(I. 2) :- 

Shakespeare : 

11 She is so hot because the meat is cold ; 
The meat is cold because you come not home ; 
You come not home because you have no stomach ; 
You have no stomach having broke your fast ; 
But we that know what 'tis to watch and pray 
Are penitent for your default to-day." 

(The reader will notice that this is again one of the 
six-lined passages in which Shakespeare frequently 
indulges, even when he does not work them into finished 

No one will deny that each line in the above stanza 
of De Vere's is eminently Shakespearean in diction, 
whilst the idea and sentiment are quite familiar to 


Shakespeare readers. " The grief of mind," or as we " Grief of 
would say, the distress that has its roots in mental mmd- 
constitution, temperament, or mood, rather than in 
external misfortune, is a thoroughly Shakespearean 
idea. We have it in the opening words of the " Mer- 
chant of Venice " : 

1 ' In sooth I know not why I am so sad, 
It wearies me, you say it wearies you, 
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, 
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born 
I am to learn. 

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me 
That I have much ado to know myself." 

We have it again in " Richard II " in the dialogue 
between the Queen and Bushy (Act II. 2) : 

" I know no cause 

Why I should welcome such a guest as grief. 
My inward soul with nothing trembles. 
Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows 
Which shows like grief itself but is not so. 

Howe'er it be 

I cannot be but sad ; so heavy sad 
As, though on thinking on no thought I think, 
Makes me with heavy nothing faint and shrink. 
For nothing hath begot my something grief, 
Or something hath the nothing that I grieve." 

All this is eminently suggestive of that undercurrent 
of constitutional melancholy which has been remarked 
in " Shakespeare," and is quite a noticeable feature 
of the Earl of Oxford's poetry. 

In Shakespeare's sonnets there occur several references Loss of good 
to the disrepute into which the writer had fallen, along name - 
with an expressed desire that his name should be buried 
with his body a fact quite inconsistent with either 
the Stratfordian or the Baconian theory of authorship, 


but a strong confirmation of the theory that William 
Shakspere was but a mask for some one who desired 
personal effacement. From those expressions we need 
only quote one : 

" When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes, 
I, all alone, beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, 
And look upon myself and curse my fate, . . ." 

(Sonnet 29) 

When the reader has made himself familiar with the 
numerous passages in the sonnets dealing with the 
same theme (sonnets 71, 72, 81, no, in, 112, 121), 
let him compare them, and especially the words 
italicized above, with the following from De Vere's poem 
on the loss of his good name, published between 1576 
and 1578 : 

" Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope past all recovery, 
/ stayless stand to abide the shock of shame and infamy. 

* * * 

My spirtes, my heart, my wit and force in deep distress 

are drown 'd, 
The only loss of my good name is of those griefs the 


* * * 

Help crave I must, and crave I will, with tears upon my 


Of all that may in heaven or hell, in earth or air be found, 
To wail with me this loss of mine, as of those griefs the 


Personally I find it utterly impossible to read this 
poem of Edward De Vere's and the sonnets in which 
" Shakespeare " harps upon the same theme, without 
an overwhelming sense of there being but one mind 
behind the two utterances. Indeed this fact of 
" Shakespeare " being a man who had lost his good 


name ought to have appeared in our original charac- 
terization. Inattention, and some remnants of the 
influence of the Stratfordian tradition, which has 
treated this insistent idea as a mere poetic pose, 
probably accounts for its not appearing there. 

Edward de Vere's poem on the loss of his good name, 
and Shakespeare's sonnets on the same theme, are the 
only poems of their kind with which we have met 
in our reading of Elizabethan poetry the only poems 
of their kind, we believe, to be found in English 
literature. The former, written at the age of twenty- 
six, and whilst still smarting under the sense of im- 
mediate loss, is more intense and passionate in its 
expression, and is full of the unrestrained impetuosity 
of early manhood. The latter is more the restrained 
expression of a matured man who had in some measure 
become accustomed to the loss ; and would as a 
matter of fact, whoever the writer, be written when 
Oxford was forty years of age or over. Even then 
Oxford's words, " I stayless stand " are almost re- 
peated in Shakespeare's "I all alone " ; Oxford's 
" Tears upon my face " seems referred to in Shake- 
speare's " Beweep my outcast state " ; and Shake- 
speare's " Troubling deaf heaven with bootless cries," 
is exactly descriptive of what Oxford did in his early 
poem. Is this all mere chance coincidence ? 

A significant detail in the two poems under review "Othello 
is the proneness to floods of tears which both illustrate. and . 


This involuntary manifestation of a supersensitive 
nature and a highly strung temperament is quite a 
marked feature of De Vere's poetry and is repeated 
more than once in the "Shakespeare" sonnets. It is 
curious, also, that " Shakespeare's " two heroes of 
tragic love, Romeo and Othello, though differing in 


many particulars, are both subject to the same weak- 
ness. The play of " Othello," we shall have to show 
later, deals with events which, as we believe, occurred 
about the time when Oxford's poem was written ; 
and it is a remarkable circumstance that it is this play 
which contains Shakespeare's well-worn lines on the 
loss of good name : 

" Good name in man or woman, dear my lord, 
Is the immediate jewel of their souls. 
Who steals my purse steals trash, .... 
But he who niches from me my good name, 
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor indeed." 

And so, first one thing and then another fits into its 
place with all the unity of an elaborate mosaic the 
moment we introduce Edward de Vere as the author 
of the Shakespeare writings. Is this too the merest 
coincidence ? 
Fortune and Qf works in a totally different vein take now this 


from a poem of De Vere's : 

" Faction that ever dwells 
In court where wit excels 

Hath set defiance. 
Fortune and love have sworn 
That they were never born 

Of one alliance. 

Nature thought good, 
Fortune should ever dwell 
In court where wits excel, 

Love keep the wood. 

So to the wood went I, 
With Love to live and die, 
Fortune's forlorn." 


Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," it will be recog- 
nized, is but a dramatic expansion of this idea, and 
contains such significant touches as the following : 

This from the dialogue between Rosalind and Celia 
(Act I. s. 2) : 

" Let us mock the good housewife Fortune." 

* * * 

" Nay now thou goest from Fortune's office to Nature's : 
Fortune reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments 

of Nature." 

* * * 

" Nature hath given us wit to flout at Fortune." 

* * * 

" Peradventure this is not Fortune's work but Nature's, 
who perceiveth our natural wits too dull." 

Later we have the Duke's remark and the reply of 
Amiens (Act II, s. i) : 

" Are not these woods more free from peril than the 
envious court ? " 

* * * 

" Happy is your grace 

That can translate the stubborness of Fortune 
Into so quiet and so sweet a style ? " 

It is not merely that there appear together the ideas 
of Nature, Fortune, Love, court-life and life in the 
woods, in the two sets of writings under review ideas 
which may possibly be as recurrent in other writings 
of the times as they are in Shakespeare's. It is rather 
the similiarity in the peculiar colligation of ideas, and 
also the correspondence of such chance expressions as 
De Vere's " Fortune's Forlorn" and Shakespeare's 
" Out of suits with Fortune," which give a stamp of 
fundamental unity to the two works. 

There are minor points of similarity, which -though 
insignificant in themselves, help to make up that 


Desire for general impression of common authorship which comes 
only with a close familiarity with the poems as a whole. 
Of these we may specify the recurrence of what seems 
to us a curious appeal for pity. From two separate 
poems of De Vere's we have the following : 

" And let all those that shall her see 
Despise her state and pity me." 

" The more my plaints I do resound 
The less she pities me." 

And from Shakespeare's sonnets we take these : 

" Pity me and wish I were renewed " (in). 
"The manner of my pity wanting pain " (140). 
" Thine eyes I love and they as pitying me " (132). 

" But if thou catch my hope, turn back to me, 
And play the mother's part, kiss me, be kind." (143) 

Shake- In making this parallel between the work of Edward 

. de Vere and Shakespeare we shall turn now to an 
example which carries us back to the beginning of our 
enquiry. Starting with Shakespeare's lyric poetry, 
we fastened upon " Venus and Adonis " as furnishing 
the connecting link between the two sections of work. 
Reverting now to this poem we find, in the first place, 
it contains all the imagery of these early works of De 
Vere's and then one of the most striking parallels we 
have noticed so far. 

In " Venus and Adonis " we have the following 
verses on the " Echo." Venus is bemoaning her troubles 
and the echo is answering her (Stanzas 139-142) : 

" And now she beats her heart whereat it groan*, 
That all the neighbour caves, as seeming troubled, 
Make verbal repetition of her moans ; 
Passion on passion deeply is redoubled : 
' Ay me ! ' she cries, and twenty times ' Woe, woe I ' 
And twenty echoes twenty times cry so. 


" She marking them begins a wailing note, 
And sings extemporally a woeful ditty; 
How love makes young men thrall and old men dote, 
How love is wise in folly, foolish witty : 
Her heavy anthem still concludes in 'Woe.' 
And still the choir of echoes answers ' So.' 
* * * 

" For who hath she to spend the night withal, 
But idle sounds resembling parasites, 
Like shrill-tongued tapsters answering every call, 
Soothing the humour of fantastic wights ? 
She says ' 'Tis so ' ; they answer all, ' 'Tis so ' ; 
And would say after her if she said ' No ! ' " 

(We observe in passing in the second stanza a repetition 
of the wit and folly paradox.) 

We shall now give Edward de Vere's echo poem in oxford's 
full. It is one of the most quaintly conceived and most Echo P 06 - 
skilfully executed pieces of versification, and hardly 
admits of curtailment. To enjoy it fully the reader 
must remember that " Vere," retaining its French 
sound, is pronounced somewhat like the word " bare," 
and the last syllable in words like " ieuer " and 
" quiver " must, in this instance, be given the same 
full sound. Oxford's name, we may remark, frequently 
appears in old records as " Ver." 


Sitting alone upon my thoughts in melancholy mood, 
In sight of sea, and at my back an ancient hoary wood, 
I saw a fair young lady come her secret fears to wail, 
Clad all in colour of a nun, and covered with a veil. 
Yet (for the day was calm and clear) I might discern her face, 
As one might see a damask rose hid under crystal glass. 
Three times with her soft hand full hard on her left side she 


And sighed so sore as might have made some pity in the rocks. 
From sighs and shedding amber tears into sweet song she 

When thus the Echo answer 'd her to every word she spake. 


Oh heavens, who was the first that bred in me this fever ? 

Who was the first that gave the wound, whose fear I wear 

for ever ? Vere. 
What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm, usurps thy golden 

quiver ? Vere. 
What wight first caught this heart, and can from bondage 

it deliver ? Vere. 

Yet who doth most adore this wight, oh hollow caves tell 

true ? You. 
What nymph deserves his liking best yet doth in sorrow 

rue ? You. 
What makes him not reward good will with some reward 

or ruth ? Youth. 
What makes him show besides his birth such pride and 

such untruth ? Youth. 

May I his favour match with love if he my love will try ? Ay. 
May I requite his birth with faith ? Then faithful will 
I die ? Ay. 

And I that knew this lady well, said, Lord, how great a 

To her how Echo told the truth as true as Phoebus oracle. 

Romeo and After studying these two poems carefully and com- 
iet ' paring specially the words in italics, then recalling 

De Vere's poem on " Women " turning upon the simile 
of the haggard hawk and keeping in mind that in 
De Vere's Echo poem we have a young woman making 
the caves re-echo with her lover's name, consider now 
the speech that " Shakespeare " puts into the mouth 
of Juliet : 

" Hist ! Romeo hist 1 Oh for a falconer's voice 
To lure this tassel-gentle back again. 
Bondage is hoarse and may not speak aloud, 
Else would I tear the cave where Echo lies 
And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine 
With repetition of my Romeo's name." (II, 2.) 
(A six-lined fragment of blank verse.) 


In presence of such a correspondence in the work as 
these verses present, it seems almost like a waste of 
effort to add further comparisons ; and yet, so redolent 
of De Vere's work is this particular play of Shake- 
speare's that we feel compelled to draw attention to 
parallel passages like the following : 

De Vere : 

(I) " that with the careful culver, climbs the worn and 

withered tree, 
To entertain my thoughts, and there my hap to moan, 

That never am less idle, lol than when I am alone." 

Shakespeare (" Romeo and Juliet," I. i) : 

" He stole into the covert of the wood 
I, measuring his affections by my own, 

That most are busied when they're most alone." 

De Vere : 

" Patience perforce is such a pinching pain." 

Shakespeare (" Romeo and Juliet," I. 5) : 

" Patience perforce . . . makes my flesh tremble." 

De Vere : 

" His bitter ball is sugared bliss." 

Shakespeare (" Romeo and Juliet," I. i) : 

" A choking gall and a preserving sweet 
Now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall." (I, 5.) 

De Vere : 

' ' O cruel hap and hard estate, 
That forceth me to love my foe." 

Shakespeare (" Romeo and Juliet," I. 2) : 

" Prodigious birth of love it is to me 
That I must love a loathed enemy." 


The morning Returning now to the " Venus " echo verses we find 
that they are immediately followed by this : 

" Lo ! here the lark, weary of nest, 
From his moist cabinet mounts up on high, 
And wakes the morning from whose silver breast 
The sun ariseth in his majesty ; 
Who doth the world so gloriously behold, 
That cedar tops and hills seem burnished gold " (s. 143). 

To this add the following line from " Romeo and 
Juliet " :- 

" It was the lark the herald of the morn." (III. 5). 

Now compare this Shakespearean work with the 
following from De Vere : 

" The lively lark stretched forth her wings 
The messenger of morning bright ; 
And with her cheerful voice did sing 
The Day's approach discharging Night. 
When that Aurora blushing red 
Descried the guilt of Thetis' bed." 

This again suggests the following from " Romeo and 
Juliet " : 

" Many a morning hath he there been seen 
* * * * 

But all too soon as the all-cheering sun 

Should in the furthest east begin to draw 

The shady curtains from Aurora's bed, etc." (I. i.) 

" Romeo and Juliet " also contains two separate 
six-lined stanzas (on the Lord Vaux model), and also 
what are probably the first of the Shakespearean 
sonnets which are, as already mentioned, identical 
in form with the only sonnet that appears in De Vere's 
early poems. 


Another matter, which is not poetical, deserves to Oxford's 
be mentioned here. It must have struck many people c l 
as strange that Juliet at the time of her marriage should 
be represented as a mere child of fourteen. There is 
no special point in the play to necessitate having one 
so young for the tragical part she had to play. Extra- 
ordinarily young as she was, however, she was the 
actual age of De Vere's wife at the time of their mar- 
riage : the ceremony being merely postponed until her 
fifteenth birthday was reached. 

We must now recall the fact that when we selected The poems 
De Vere as the possible author of Shakespeare's plays enquiry, 
and poems, and found that he satisfied the essential 
conditions of our original characterization, we had no 
knowledge whatever of these poems of his, almost 
every line of which we now find paralleled in Shake- 
speare. To discover such a correspondence in the 
poems under such circumstances furnishes, to the 
discoverer at any rate, a much greater weight of 
evidence than if he had been acquainted with the 
writings at the outset. It will be observed that, in 
making these comparisons, the passages quoted from 
Shakespeare which are suggestive of Oxford's early 
poetry belong mainly to what is accepted as Shake- 
speare's early work, such as " Venus," " Lucrece," 
" The Two Gentlemen of Verona," and " Romeo and 
Juliet." On the other hand the traces of the De Vere 
poetry in the later Shakespearean work are very slight. 
This, it will also be remembered, is in precise accordance 
with the principle which guided us in the first stages 
of our search, namely, that it would be the poet's early 
work which would appear under his own name, and 
that it would be found to link itself on to the earliest 
Shakespearean work. Again, as the De Vere collection 


is only a small one, it will be seen, from the number 
of poems quoted, that practically the whole of the De 
Vere work is deposited, as it were, in Shakespeare. 
The evidence furnished by such parallelism must not 
however be viewed alone ; it must be connected 
specially with the testimony which literary authorities 
have given us as to the specific qualities of De Vere's 
poetry adduced in the preceding chapter. It must 
also be connected with these important considerations 
of chronology which allow the early career of Oxford 
to fit in exactly with later production of the " Shake- 
speare " dramas, and to all this must also be added 
the fact of his presenting in his person so many of the 
conditions and attributes which recent Shakespearean 
study has assigned to the great dramatist. The reader 
should then ask himself whether it would be common 
sense to keep on believing that all this is mere accident. 
Tragedy and If from reading the echo poem of De Vere with its 
quaint and delicate humour, the reader will turn to 
such verses as those beginning, 

" Fain would I sing, but fury makes me mad," 

" Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope," 
and then again recall the fact that Edward de Vere, in 
his work for the stage, is reported as being "the best 
in comedy " in his day, he will get an idea of the 
striking combination of humour and tragedy in the 
nature and work of this remarkable man. All the 
startling contrast of high comedy and profound tragedy 
which stands out from the pages of Shakespeare finds 
its counterpart in the work of De Vere, as we shall 
also find it does in his actual life. With this in mind, 
let it be recalled that, at the very moment when 
Shakespeare was writing the sonnets, with all their 


tragic depth, and with hardly a trace of lightheartedness, 
revealing a soul darkened by disappointment, dis- 
illusionment and self-condemnation, he was also 
preparing for the stage plays which, for three hundred 
years have, by their exquisite fun, supplied the world 
with inexhaustible laughter. We read some of the 
sonnets and we feel that the writer musr have been 
the most despairing of pessimists. 

" Give notice to the world that I am gone 
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell." 

We turn to the comedies he wrote for the stage, and 
we think of him as the merriest of men. Which was 
the real Shakespeare ? The Shakespeare revealed in 
the sonnets or the Shakespeare revealed in the 
comedies ? Probably neither by itself. The sonnets 
are, however, direct personal poetry ; the comedies are 
literature and stage plays. The natural assumption, 
therefore, is that in his inmost life he was more the 
Shakespeare of the sonnets than of the comedies. If, 
therefore, we suppose that " Shakespeare " is Edward de 
Vere, we find him expressing himself directly on the 
point in the following lines : 

" I am not as I seem to be, 
For when I smile I am not glad, 
A thrall, although you count me free, 
I, most in mirth, most pensive sad. 
I smile to hide my bitter spite, 
As Hannibal that saw in sight, 
His country's soil with Carthage town, 
By Roman force defaced down." 

We give the entire stanza in order that, in passing, A possible 
its structure may be noted. It will be seen that it pun> 
is identical in metre and rhyme with Shakespeare's 
poem " When daisies pied and violets blue," with which 


" Lore's Labour's Lost " finishes (leaving out, of course, 
the interjected word " cuckoo "). The observant 
reader may notice, too, that the latter poem is pre- 
ceded by the words, " Ver, begin "; and remembering 
that Oxford's name was very frequently spelt " Ver," 
he will be able to imagine the elation which would have 
appeared in certain quarters, if, in this the first Shake- 
spearean play, for such it is considered, there had 
occurred the words, " Bacon, begin." 
Hidden Another stanza in the same poem of De Vere's runs 


thus : 

" I Hannibal that smile for grief 
And let you Ceasar's tears suffice, 
The one that laughs at his mischief 
The other all for joy that cries. 
I smile to see me scorned so, 
You weep for joy to see me woe." 

This is at once suggestive of the lines in "Lear " (1. 4) : 

" Then they for sudden joy did weep 
And I for sorrow sung." 

Returning to our theme, one of the most penetrating 
of observers amongst writers on Shakespeare, Richard 
Bagehot, although believing in the essential gaiety 
of the poet's nature, remarks that "all through his 
works there is a certain tinge of musing sadness per- 
vading, and as it were softening their gaiety," exactly 
as Edward de Vere described himself in the former of 
the above stanzas. This is just what we might expect 
to find in a writer whose life had been saddened, but 
who preserved by a deliberate effort his appreciation 
of fun ; whose self-command enabled him to throw 
aside the burden of melancholy and revel for a while 
in the enjoyment of his own lighter faculties, but who, 
throughout it all, never quite forgot the sadness that 


lay at the bottom of his soul, and who, when the 
special effort was over, would swing back upon himself 
with an intensified sense of his own inner sufferings. 
These are just the conditions to yield that remarkable 
combination of tragedy and comedy which distin- 
guishes Shakespeare, and they are the conditions, too, 
most likely to be furnished by the nature and cir- 
cumstances of Edward de Vere. 

Viewing the lyric work of Edward de Vere as a whole 
we feel justified in claiming that it contains much more 
than a possible promise of the work of Shakespeare. 
What is wanting to it is the vast and varied knowledge 
of human nature depicted in the Shakespearean dramas. 
This demands a wide and intense experience of life ; 
a life involving loss as well as gain ; and the years 
intervening between the two sets of works, years in 
which he was busy with his troupes of play-actors, 
the " Oxford Boys," would certainly be full of such 
experience to him. And if we assume the identity of 
Oxford with " Shakespeare " it must be conceded that 
one misses from the personal poems of Shakespeare, the 
sonnets, certain sweet and " gracious " touches con- 
tained in the early personal poems of De Vere, whilst 
one meets also with some harsher and more defiant 
notes. The iron had evidently entered more deeply 
into his soul, his nature had become in a measure 
" subdued to what it worked in, like the dyer's hand," 
but out of the tragedy of his own life were born the 
imperishable masterpieces in tragic drama that will 
probably remain for all time the supreme glory of 
English literature. 

In working out our investigations we found, first of 
all, a remarkable set of coincidences between the 


General circumstances of Edward de Vere and the conditions 
which we supposed to pertain to the writer of Shake- 
speare's dramas. Our last chapter showed us an 
equally remarkable set of coincidences connected with 
the general literary position and the dominant qualities 
of Oxford's poetry. The chapter we are now finishing, 
the most critical in the piecing together of the case, 
reveals what we claim to be a most extraordinary 
correspondence in the details of the work. 

When, therefore, the poems of De Vere shall have 
become familiar to English readers, it will not be 
surprising if those who are thoroughly intimate with 
Shakespeare's work are able to detect much more 
striking points of similarity than any that are here 
indicated. It must, however, be kept in mind that the 
value of these correspondences depends not so much 
upon the striking character of a few of them, which 
might conceivably be matched elsewhere, but upon 
the cumulative effect of them all. Taken in their 
mass then, we believe that sufficient has already been 
made out, which, supported as it is by the other lines 
of our argument, leaves little room for doubt that the 
problem of the authorship of Shakespeare's works has 
at last been solved. Valuable as is the other evidence 
which we have been able to collect, we might have 
hesitated for a very long while before venturing, on 
the strength of that alone, to assume the responsibility 
of claiming publicly that we had succeeded in identi- 
fying Shakespeare. Now, however, that we have been 
able to examine the early poetry of De Vere, and subject 
it to a careful comparison with the early Shakespearean 
work, it has become impossible to hesitate any longer 
in proclaiming Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of 
Oxford, as the real author of " Shakespeare's " works. 



" Horatio, I am dead ; 

Thou livest ; report me and my cause aright 
To the unsatisfied. 

* * * 

If ever thou didst hold me in thy heart 
Absent thee from felicity awhile, 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain 
To tell my story." 

Hamlet (V. 2). 

' ' An unlifted shadow somehow lies across his 

Dr. Grosart. 

Authorities. The biographical records in the suc- 
ceeding chapters are taken chiefly from the " Dictionary 
of National Biography " ; " Historical Recollections 
of Noble Families," by Arthur Collins ; " The Great 
Lord Burleigh," by Martin Hume ; " The House of 
Cecil," by G. Ravenscroft Dennis ; " Histories of 
Essex," by Morant and Wright ; " The Hatfield 
Manuscripts " ; and " Calendars of State Papers." 



Following the general scheme of the investigation 
as outlined at the beginning of this work, it will be 
14 209 


well to recall at this point the nature of the phase 
with which we are at present occupied, and the exact 
stage of it now reached. The fifth step being to proceed 
from the man chosen to the works of Shakespeare, in 
order to see to what extent the man is reflected in the 
works, the comparison of the two sets of writings just 
concluded forms the natural introduction to this phase 
of the enquiry. Continuing this step our next business 
must be to examine, in whatever detail possible, the 
life and circumstances of the man in order to ascertain 
how far they, too, relate themselves to the contents of, 
and the task of producing, the Shakespearean plays 
and poems. 

In entering upon this series of biographical chapters 
we must remind the reader that the object of this work 
is twofold : to prove our case, and to help towards 
a fuller and more accurate view of the life and per- 
sonality of the Earl of Oxford. Here our task is one of 
special difficulty, for our theory presupposes a man 
who had deliberately planned his self -concealment. Our 
material is bound, therefore, to be as scanty as he could 
make it, and, at the outset, probably misleading. We 
shall, therefore, be under the necessity of reconstructing 
a personality from the most meagre of data, with the 
added disadvantage of a large amount of contemporary 
misrepresentation, which it will be necessary to correct 
Motives for One naturally asks why the author of the great 
nt ' dramas should have wished to throw a veil over his 
identity as he did ; and the strange thing about the 
matter is this, that, with the Shakespeare sonnets 
before us, we should have been so slow in framing this 
question and answering it satisfactorily. For, not 
merely in an odd sentence, but as the burden of some 
of his most powerful sonnets, he tells us in the plainest 


of terms, that he was one whose name had fallen into 
disrepute and who wished that it should perish with 

" No longer mourn for me when I am dead, 
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell ; 
Give warning to the world that I am fled 
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell ; 
Nay, if you read this line, remember not 
The hand that writ it." 

" My name be buried where my body is, 
And live no more to shame nor me nor you." 

" Or I shall live your epitaph to make, 
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten, 
From hence your memory death cannot take, 
Although in me each part will be forgotten. 
Your name from hence immortal life shall have, 
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die." 

" Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, 
And made myself a motley to the view." 

" Thence conies it that my name receives a brand." 

" Your love and pity doth the impression fill, 
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow." 

When to all this we find him adding the fear 
" That every word doth almost tell my name," 

it is made as clear as anything can be that he was 
one who had elected his own self-effacement, and that 
disrepute was one, if not the principal motive. We may, Disrepute, 
if we wish, question the sufficiency or reasonableness 
of the motive. That, however, is his business, not ours. 
The important point for us is that he has by his sonnets 
disclosed the fact that he, " Shakespeare," was one 
who was concealing his real name, and that the motive 


he gives, adequate or not, is one which unmistakably 
would apply to the Earl of Oxford ; and would not 
apply in the same literal manner to any one else to 
whom it has been sought to attribute the Shakespeare 
dramas. If the Earl of Oxford had filled an exalted 
place in general estimation, it ought to have worked 
against the theory of authorship we are advancing. 
That he was one " in disgrace with Fortune and men's 
eyes " is what we should have expected, and is there- 
fore an element of evidence in confirmation of our 

Under the Stratfordian and Baconian views mysti- 
fying interpretations have had to be read into the 
utterances just quoted. In spite of their intense 
reality and genuine autobiographical ring, they have 
been treated as cryptic poetry or mere dramatic pose ; 
and one of our greatest difficulties will be to combat 
the non-literal constructions forced upon these poems. 
In the proper place we shall have to show that their 
contents are as real and literal as the spirit and temper 
of the works suggest. Puzzling, Shakespeare could 
undoubtedly be, as in the " Will " sonnets (135 and 
136) where he is obviously dealing in enigmas. The 
curious thing is that he has been read seriously and 
literally when in a playful mood, by the same people 
who have treated passionate, heart-wrung utterances 
as mere freaks of fancy. When moving on the plane 
Auto- of experience his conceptions attain a definiteness 

unequa^d in poetry, whilst there has probably never 
been a writer capable of securing a more precise 
correspondence between a thought and its expression. 
When, therefore, he tells us, in so many words, that 
" vulgar scandal " had robbed him of his good name, 
and that although he believed his work would be 


immortal he wished his name to be forgotten, we are 
quite entitled to take his own ;word for it, and to 
demand no further motive for the adoption of a 
disguise. No mere nom de plume could have been so 
successful as his adoption of a mask : its success for 
over three hundred years will probably be a matter 
of astonishment for many generations to come. 

Had these sonnets been published by their author 
during his own lifetime they would have been absurd 
from the point of view of the particular contents we 
have just been considering. Imagine any man pub- 
lishing, or allowing the publication under his own 
name, of documents in which he specifically states that 
he wished his name to be buried with his body ! It is 
equally absurd to suppose that their author permitted 
the issue of documents implying that William Shak- 
spere was but a mask. They were, however, published 
during the lifetime of all the men to whom it has been 
sought to attribute their authorship : William Shak- 
spere, Francis Bacon, William Stanley and Roger 
Manners : but after the death of Edward de Vere. 
The particular sonnets seem to belong to a date at 
which Oxford's fortunes were at about their lowest and 
when the motive assigned for hiding his name would 
be most applicable ; the works being published under 
the mask would then be the two long poems published 
in 1593 and 1594. 

We do not maintain that the motive assigned in the social con- 
sonnets was the only one that operated. By the time siderations. 
that the mask was employed again, after an interval 
of four years during which some of the plays had 
appeared anonymously, there are evidences that 
Oxford was making efforts to retrieve his position 
socially as well as financially. When plays were being 


published under Shakespeare's name, Oxford was 
seeking to regain favour with the Queen and setting 
family influences to work to obtain for himself the 
position of governor of Wales. Needless to say to have 
appeared at the time in the role of dramatic author 
would have been completely fatal to any chances he 
may have had : for in those days " dramatic authorship 
was considered hardly respectable." And Oxford 
especially, having incurred his disgrace in the first 
instance by deserting the court for a Bohemian asso- 
ciation with actors and play-writers, could only hope 
to recover his social position and secure an appropriate 
official appointment, by being seen as little as possible 
in such connections. 

Fanuly After Oxford's death his widow, a lady of private 

means, assisted by her brother, continued the struggle 
to recover for her son Henry, the eigtheenth Earl of 
Oxford, the prestige which had been lost to the family 
by the extraordinary career of his father. A legal 
case that arose out of this is a recognized landmark in 
the history of the law, and shows clearly that the 
recovery of what had been lost had become a settled 
object of family policy. Even supposing, then, that 
they may not have considered themselves under a 
moral or contracted obligation to continue the secrecy, 
it would hardly have been in harmony with their 
general policy to have discontinued it. 

Although we have put forward these considerations 
with regard to motives, we must make it clear that no 
obligation to furnish motives rests upon an investi- 
gator in such a case as this. Motives are sometimes 
altogether impenetrable. Objective facts, and the 
evidence for the truth of such facts, form the proper 
material for enquiries like the present. 


From the biographer's point of view, however, all T h ? shadow 
these considerations constitute a double difficulty. We 
have first to surmount the obstacles which an able 
intellect, bent on secrecy, would himself interpose 
between himself and the public ; and then we must 
penetrate the mists of disrepute which he assures us 
had gathered round his name. Before this can be 
properly done many years must elapse, and many 
minds must be interested in it : the correction of an 
erroneous estimate of an historic personality being one 
of the slowest of human processes. We make here only 
a first simple effort in that direction. 

No one, who is able to appreciate humanity's debt 
to " Shakespeare " can, under any circumstances, 
regard him as a man who has merited abiding dis- 
honour. The world has taken to its heart men like 
Robert Burns and Moliere, whose lives have fallen far 
short of the pattern we could have wished for them. 
And if Edward de Vere is, as we have every reason to 
believe, the real " Shakespeare," the world will not be 
slow to allow the great benefits he has conferred upon 
mankind to atone for any shortcomings that may be 
found in him. Our task at the present, however, is to 
see him as he was, in so far as his character and the 
events of his life have a bearing upon our problem. 
Everything that comes before us in the form of mere 
traditional view, inference, or impression must be 
rigidly separated from ascertained facts ; and even 
these will need to be accepted cautiously and re- 
interpreted from the point of view of one great 
dominating possibility that of his being endowed with 
the heart and genius of Shakespeare and of having 
produced the Shakespeare literature. 

If, for example, the Earl of Oxford was only a 


Need for re- son-in-law of Lord Burleigh's, who had achieved 
nothing more noteworthy than the writing of a few 
short lyrics, and had spent the best years of his life in 
fruitless amusement with a company of play-actors, 
then we must judge him mainly by the part he played 
in the life of Burleigh. If, however, the Earl of Oxford 
was Shakespeare, then he towers high above Lord 
Burleigh, and we shall have to judge Burleigh very 
largely by the part he played in the life of Oxford. 
Or if, in the domain of poetry, he is chiefly to be re- 
membered as the man who called his rival, Philip 
Sidney, a " puppy," we shall have to judge him by 
his bearing towards Sidney. If, however, Oxford was 
" Shakespeare," gifted with all Shakespeare's pene- 
tration into human nature, our interest will lie in 
discovering how far Sidney may have merited the 

Unjust Again, if, as we shall see was the case, we find that, 

nt ' as a young man, he begged to join the army ; when that 
was refused him he begged to be allowed to join the 
navy ; when that in turn was refused he begged to 
travel abroad ; and when, though by this time he was 
twenty-four years of age and married, that was also 
refused, so that he seemed condemned to spend his 
life hanging about the court, and finding the court life 
irksome, ran away to the continent, only to be brought 
back before he had had a chance of seeing anything of 
life, we may be able to agree with those who speak of 
him as being wayward, if we suppose him to have been 
incapable and an intellectual mediocrity. But if we 
suppose him possessed of the genius of Shakespeare, 
with Shakespeare's capacity for experiencing life, and 
all that capacity as so much driving force within him, 
urging him to seek experience of life ; indeed, if we 


take into account nothing more than what is positively 
known of his powers as revealed in his poems and 
dramatic record, we shall be much more inclined to 
consider him a badly used man, the victim of most 
unfavourable circumstances and manifest injustice, 
with a very genuine grievance against the guardian 
and father-in-law, Burleigh, who had so persistently 
thwarted him. 

Finally, if, remembering the character borne by the secret 
play-actors of the time, as described in the passage we occu P ations - 
have quoted from Dean Church, we believe him to 
have wasted the best years of his life in ultimate, 
useless association with them, we shall be inclined to 
see in his conduct a manifestation of dissoluteness and 
to acquiesce in Burleigh's statement that he had been 
" enticed away by lewd persons." If, on the other 
hand, we believe that Oxford was Shakespeare, and 
that during these years he was hard at work, seriously, 
but in a measure secretly, engaged in the activities 
that have produced at once the greatest dramas and 
the finest literature that England boasts, then the 
facts have a totally new light thrown upon them, and 
admit of a vastly different interpretation. For, the 
secrecy in which his work as a whole is involved would 
surely be maintained towards those who were out of 
sympathy with him, amongst whom we can certainly 
place his father-in-law and probably his wife ; all of 
which seems clearly alluded to in sonnet 48 : 

" How careful was I, when I took my way, 
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust, 
That to my use it might unused stay, 
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust." 

We shall avoid, therefore, all unauthenticated stories 
which seem to have had their roots in personal 


False stories, animosity. Such particulars as are narrated in the 
Dictionary of National Biography, that a certain 
man's " story that the Earl " did so-and-so, but that 
it " is not confirmed, and was warmly denied by " 
the very man whom he was reported to have injured, 
is not biography. It serves to show, however, that he 
was the victim of false and unscrupulous calumny. 
When, therefore, we find great admirers of Philip 
Sidney, like Fulke Greville, Sidney's biographer, pro- 
mulgating impossible stories about projected assas- 
sinations, and another antagonist making, almost 
in so many words, the same false charges that Oliver 
makes against Orlando in "As You Like It," we begin 
to realize the type of men with whom we are dealing ; 
what freedoms the group of court adventurers, to whom 
Oxford was clearly hostile, had taken with his name 
and reputation ; and how little reliance is to be placed 
generally upon their records either of their friends or 
of their enemies. 

It is unfortunate, then, that the names which pre- 
dominate in the article upon which we are dependent 
for so many of the facts of Oxford's life are those of 
people antagonistic to him, and most of the facts 
bear evidence of having come to us through these 
unfriendly channels. Anything which bears the mark 
of Burleigh, Fulke Greville, or Raleigh, the true type 
of the picturesque but unscrupulous adventurer of 
those days, must be suspect in so far as it touches 
Edward de Vere ; and anything which research may 
be able to recover, that shall furnish us with the names 
and the opinions of his friends about the court, and, 
more important still, his dealings with men of letters, 
and with playwrights and actors, will be invaluable 
as tending to furnish us with a truer view of the man. 


So far as we can make out up to the present, however, 
his friends seem to have respected loyally his desire 
for personal oblivion, and have remained silent about 
him ; thus, of course, allowing free currency to all 
that his enemies have been able to circulate to his 

As this is not intended to be a complete biography, 
facts which do not appear relevant to the argument, 
either for or against it, and which, from some other 
consideration, might necessitate lengthy discussion, 
will, for the most part, be omitted. 


To illustrate again the curious way in which evidence 
has fallen into our hands, we would draw attention to 
the above reference to Oliver in "As You Like It." 
When we came across the murderous charges made 
against Oxford by Charles Arundel, the first thing that 
seemed to stand out was the name " Charles," and an 
evident vulgarity in the man, which brought Charles 
the wrestler, of "As You Like It," to the mind. Being 
somewhat " rusty " at the moment in reference to 
subordinate details in the play, the next thing was to 
look up the parts dealing with Charles the wrestler ; 
only, of course, to find the same charges that Charles 
Arundel made against Oxford being insinuated by 
Oliver into the mind of Charles the wrestler. And so 
the parts of the mosaic keep fitting in. The jesting 
threats of Touchstone in the same play may therefore 
furnish the explanation of the charges made against 
Oxford : for practical joking could hardly be above 
the dignity of the writer of some of " Shakespeare's " 
comedies, who, according to his own confession, had 
made himself "a motley to the view." 




It is waste labour usually to trace the ancestral 
connections of literary men. It is themselves and what 
they accomplished that really matter, and literary 
biographies which go beyond this generally succeed in 
being tedious. In the case before us, however, these 
ancestral connections and the writer's attitude towards 
them, are vital ; so that some brief notice of the family 
of the De Veres is essential to the argument. 
FamUy The founder of the family was one Aubrey de Vere 

(derived, it is supposed, from Ver near Bayeux) who 
came to England with the Conqueror, and was re- 
warded for his support, with extensive estates in Essex, 
Suffolk, Cambridge, Huntingdonshire and Middlesex ; 
and " the continuance of his family in the male line, 
and its possession of an earldom for more than five and 
a half centuries have made its name a household word." 
During these centuries the vast estates of the family, 
as well as its titles and dignities, were further aug- 
mented by marriage or by royal favour. 

In the time of the anarchy which marked the reign 
of the Conqueror's grandson Stephen, the title of Earl 
of Oxford was bestowed by Matilda upon the repre- 
sentative of the family, another Aubrey (1142), whilst 
nine years prior to this a son or grandson of the 
founder, also of the same name, had been created 
Great Chamberlain. On the accession of Henry II 
the title conferred by Matilda was confirmed by the 
new monarch. Amongst the hereditary dignities 
obtained through marriage was that of Chamberlain 
to the Queen, and the titles of Viscount Bolebec, Lord 


Sandford, and Lord Badlemere. Lyly in dedicating 
his " Euphues and his England " to Oxford, whom he 
addresses as his master, takes occasion to string all 
these various titles together. 
All through the long period of the Plantagenet " Shake- 

kings, the lands, titles and dignities of the family were Rard II. 

transmitted through a succession of Aubreys, Johns, 
and Roberts, like so many representatives of a royal 
dynasty ; and, in the reign of the last of the Plan- 
tagenets, Richard II, the Earl of Oxford, who was the 
royal favourite, was created a Marquis, being thus 
raised above all the rest of the nobility and ranked 
next to the King himself. This is the Robert, Earl 
of Oxford, mentioned in ordinary history text books 
as the favourite responsible partly for the troubles 
that befell the King, and who earned for himself a 
reputation of extreme dissoluteness. 

The personal relationship of Richard II to the Earl Earl Robert. 
of Oxford of his day, and the honour he conferred upon 
the family, might account for "Shakespeare's" slight 
partiality to Richard, if we suppose the former to have 
been a later earl of the same family ; whilst the 
unfortunate character borne by Richard's favourite 
would explain the curious fact of his non-appearance in 
a play written by a member of the same house, one 
in whom family pride was a pronounced trait. For the 
character of this Robert, Earl of Oxford, of Richard II's 
reign, made it impossible to introduce him without 
either immortalizing his infamy or of so altering the 
facts as to have betrayed the authorship. The silence 
of the author at this point is therefore even more 
significant than his utterances in the case with which 
we shall presently deal. For be it observed that 
Shakespeare deals with this very question of the per- 


nicious influence of evil associates upon Richard and 
leaves out all mention in this connection of the one 
particular evil counsellor that history has clearly 
recorded for us. Shakespeare, whoever he was, had 
evidently some special reason for screening the Earl 
of Oxford. He had not overlooked him, for at the end 
of the play the Earl is mentioned as having been 
executed for supporting the King* ; possibly the only 
thing in his favour that could be recorded. 

Edward de Vere's pride in his ancient ancestry is 
birth. commented on by more than one writer ; and so 

marked a feature of Shakespeare's is this regard for 
high and honoured birth, that one writer, believing it 
to be written by the Stratford man, does not hesitate 
to speak of it as " snobbery." By whatever name we 
may choose to call it, it is at any rate an outstanding 
mental trait which Edward de Vere and " Shakespeare" 
have in common. To have found it in one situated 
like the Stratford man would, however, have bespoken 
a measure of " snobbery " inconsistent with the 
intellectual largeness of " Shakespeare." In the case 
of Edward de Vere it is merely the spontaneous fruit 
of centuries of family tradition and the social atmo- 
sphere into which he was born, and shows us that even 
the broadest minds remain more or less at the mercy 
of their social milieu. 

We have had occasion already to point out that 
Shakespeare did not understand the "lower orders." 
What is even more striking is the fact that he did not 
understand the middle classes. Mr. Frank Harris, 
who, if our own theory of authorship be accepted, has, 
in many particulars, shown great sureness of psycho- 

* Nott : In the First Folio edition "Spencer" is substituted for 
"Oxford." Such a substitution (not noticed until the 
above was in print) is very striking. 


logical analysis, but who never expresses a single doubt 
as to the truth of the Stratfordian position, asserts, 
in his work on " The Man Shakespeare," that Shake- 
speare did not even know the middle classes. " He 
utterly missed," he says, " what a knowledge of the 
middle classes would have given him," whilst "in all 
his writings he praises lords and gentlemen." And 
again, " Shakespeare, one fancies, was a gentleman by 
nature, and a good deal more." That one, like Shake- 
speare, whose studies of human nature rest so obviously 
upon observation, could both remain ignorant of his 
own class and also assimilate rapidly the characteristics 
and courtesies of another class is neither more nor less 
than a contradiction in terms. The logical conclusion 
is that " Shakespeare " was himself an aristocrat : a 
point on which anti-Stratfordians of all schools agree, 
and on which some Stratfordians, in return, most 
weakly try to make merry. 

It would unnecessarily overload these pages with 
quotations to give all that Shakespeare says on the 
question of high birth, whilst a few selected passages 
would not accurately represent the position. Some 
measure of its importance to him may, however, be 
gathered from the fact that he does honour to the 
idea in more than twenty separate plays. Now, a 
person may happen to be of high birth and yet be able 
to take a true measure of its value. In the case of 
Edward de Vere, however, it would seem that he had 
the same exaggerated idea of its importance that we 
meet with in Shakespeare. And as we have chosen 
the play of " All's Well that Ends Well " to preside 
in great measure over the first part of our biographical 
argument, we would ask the reader to notice as an illus- 
tration of Shakespeare's attitude to this question how 
the idea of high birth dominates the whole of the play. 




When the Wars of the Roses broke out, John de 
Vere, Twelfth Earl of Oxford, became, as we have 
already seen, a staunch supporter of the Lancastrian 
cause. In the early part of Edward IV's reign, whilst 
matters were still unsettled between the two parties, 
he was executed along with his eldest son, Aubrey de 
Vere, for corresponding with the defeated Queen 
Margaret. The title then passed to his second son, 
John, the Thirteenth Earl, who took part in the tem- 
porary restoration of Henry VI. For this he was at- 
tainted in 1474, but restored to his family honours on the 
defeat of the Yorkists and the accession of Henry Tudor. 

In relating these particulars to the plays of Shake- 
speare a strictly chronological parallel between the 
historical events and the plays is not possible. If, 
however, we take the four plays which deal specially 
with these wars, the three parts of " Henry VI," and 
the play of " Richard III," we may say that 
" Henry VI," part i, deals mainly with the years 
prior to the outbreak of civil war, during which England 
was losing power in France through the heroism 
of Joan d'Arc, whilst the first rumblings of the 
coming storm in England were distinctly heard. In 
" Henry VI," part 2, the tension becomes acute, and 
the opening phase of the conflict, that in which the 
Twelfth Earl of Oxford was prominent, forms the 
subject matter of part of the play. " Henry VI," 
part 3, is concerned mainly with the short period of 
Henry's temporary restoration during the reign of 
Edward IV, ending in the overthrow of the Lancas- 


trians and the murder of Henry VI. The play of 
" Richard III " is presented as the final triumph of 
the red rose over the white. 

Now of these plays, " Henry VI," part I, we are Shakespeare 
assured, is probably not from Shakespeare's hand at Oxford^ 
all. The same remark applies to " Henry VI," part 2, 
and to a considerable portion even of " Henry VI," 
part 3. The most Shakespearean work in this trilogy 
is to be found, however, in the latter half of 
"Henry VI," part 3. "Richard III" is wholly 
Shakespearean. Turning then to " Henry VI," parts 
i and 2, the non-Shakespearean plays, we find there 
is no mention made whatever of the I2th Earl of 
Oxford ; whilst, on coming to " Henry VI," part 3, 
we find a very prominent and honoured place given 
to John, the I3th Earl of Oxford, along with the striking 
fact that he does not make his appearance on the 
stage until Act III, Scene 3. That is to say, he is not 
brought into these plays at all until he is brought in 
by " Shakespeare " ; and then, which makes it still 
more striking, we have very particular mention made 
of the father and brother who had laid down their 
lives in the Lancastrian cause, but who are completely 
ignored in the other two plays. In a word, the non- 
Shakespearean work ignores the Earls of Oxford, 
whilst the Shakespearean work gives them a leading 
and distinguished position. 

Oxford speaks : 

" Call him my King, by whose injurious doom 
My elder brother, the Lord Aubrey de Vere, 
Was done to death ? And more than so, my father, 
Even in the downfall of his mellow'd years, 
When nature brought him to the door of death ? 
No, Warwick, no, while life upholds this arm, 
This arm upholds the house of Lancaster." 



Having been thus introduced into the play he is 
hardly mentioned except to be praised : 

" And thou, brave Oxford, wondrous well beloved." 

"Sweet Oxford." 

1 1 Where is the post that came from valiant Oxford ? ' ' 

" O cheerful colours ! see where Oxford comes." 

"Oxford, Oxford, for Lancaster." 

"Ol welcome Oxford, for we want thy help." 

' ' Why, is not Oxford here another anchor ? ' ' 

Then towards the close of the play, when King 
Henry VI blesses Henry of Richmond and names him 
as successor to the throne, it is Oxford who, along 
with Somerset, arranges to send him to Brittany for 
safety, until " the storms be passed of civil enmity." 
And, in the last act, even such a detail as his place of 
imprisonment is remembered and named : 

" Away with Oxford to Hames Castle straight." 

Richard in." Finally, we have the concentration of Shakespeare's 
matured powers in the great tragic drama of 
" Richard III," which sets forth the overthrow of the 
house of York, and the triumph of Henry of Richmond, 
as representative of the house of Lancaster. In this 
play King Edward remembers, in his distress over the 
death of Clarence, that it was he who saved him " in 
the field of Tewkesbury, when Oxford had me down." 
In the last act of all, when the Yorkists are 
overthrown and Henry Tudor appears, it is with 
Oxford by his side ; and it is Oxford who, as premier 
nobleman, replies first to the king's address to his 
followers. Whether, therefore, Shakespeare was an 
actual representative of the family of the De Veres or 


not, we are quite entitled to claim that he shows a 
marked partiality for the family, a careful regard for 
its honour, and a precise acquaintance with details 
pertaining to its several members. 

Such a fact would not have given a justification for A significant 
the selection of Edward de Vere in the first instance ; silence - 
for the family might have had intense admirers outside 
the circle of its own members. When, however, the 
selection has been made on quite other grounds, and 
supported by other lines of argument, the discovery 
that " Shakespeare " displays this special partiality 
has immense value, and hardly leaves room for doubt 
as to the soundness of the choice. The poet and 
dramatist who wrote the passages we have quoted 
from " Henry VI," part 3, could hardly fail to have 
been interested also in the particular representative 
of the family who at that time bore the title, and 
who happened, moreover, to be a poet and dramatist 
quite in " Shakespeare's " line. Yet this particular 
nobleman's name is never once met with in connection 
with the " Shakespeare " dramas, although he was 
living at the time in Hackney, then a London suburb 
immediately adjacent to Shoreditch, where Burbage 
had his theatre, and the Shakespeare dramas were 
being staged. All this is more than suggestive of a 
wish not to be seen in it. 

It is worth remarking, too, that Shakespeare's expres- 
sion of partiality is more guarded in " Richard III " 
than in " Henry VI," part 3. The former play is 
a later and more matured work, belonging to the 
time when the Shakespeare mask had been adopted. 
Great publicity was given to it, and it passed through 
several editions in the lifetime of Edward de Vere. 
The play of " Henry VI," part 3, evidently an earlier 


work, in which he betrays his Oxford partialities more 
freely, was not printed in its present form until it 
appeared in the Folio edition of 1623. That is to say, 
it is really a posthumous publication of a youthful 
production, never having been published with Shake- 
speare's imprimatur, and may, indeed, never have been 
staged during the later years of " Shakespeare's " fame. 
Of the earls who succeeded to the domains and titles 
between John the I3th Earl, who stood by the side 
of Henry VII, and Edward the iyth Earl, little need 
be said. After the death of the I4th Earl the direct 
male line came to an end, and the i5th Earl, the 
grandfather of the poet, succeeded by right of descent 
from Richard de Vere, the nth Earl of Oxford. 
The Great Before leaving the matter of Edward de Vere's 

Chamberlain . r * . 

ancestry, it is necessary to oner a few observations on 
the office of Lord Great Chamberlain, which had been 
hereditary in his family for centuries, and to which 
he succeeded, along with the other dignities, on the 
death of his father. This office must not be confused 
with that of Lord Chamberlain, rendered familiar to 
Shakespeare students by its association with the 
performance and publication of many of Shakespeare's 
plays. " The Merchant of Venice," for example, was 
published "as it hath beene diverse times acted by the 
Lord Chamberlain, his servants." Amongst the 
functions of the Lord Chamberlain are the arrange- 
ments relating to royal patronage of the drama and 
the licensing of plays and theatres. It was the company 
of actors under the special patronage of the Lord 
Chamberlain which in Queen Elizabeth's day per- 
formed many of " Shakespeare's " plays, and has in 
consequence been erroneously styled " Shakespeare's 
Company." The disappearance of the Lord Chamber- 


Iain's books for the " Shakespeare " period is dealt 
with in another chapter. 

The position of the Lord Great Chamberlain, though 
of higher social dignity, appears to have been less 
onerous and its functions more intermittent. These 
had more to do with state functions and the royal 
person, near whom this official was placed on such 
great occasions as coronations and royal funerals. 

It is necessary to point out the distinction, otherwise 
the unwary might be misled into supposing that 
Edward de Vere, by virtue of his office, had something 
to do with the direct management of the company with 
which William Shakspere was connected. The Lord 
Chamberlain during part of the " Shakespeare " 
period was Lord Hunsdon ; and though Edward de 
Vere might possibly have something to do with the 
matter indirectly, through his fellow official, directly 
as Lord Great Chamberlain, it would not come within 
his province. 

As Lord Great Chamberlain he officiated near the 
person of James I at his coronation, just as, doubtless, 
When a boy, he had witnessed his father officiating at 
the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Although his 
officiating at Elizabeth's funeral is not mentioned 
so explicitly as the part he took at the coronation of 
James, it is natural to assume that he would be there. 
It is just possible that this ceremony is directly referred Queen 
to in sonnet 125 : Elizabeth's 


" Were't aught to me I bore the canopy, 
With my extern the outward honouring, 
Or laid great bases for eternity, 
Which prove more short than waste or ruining ? 
* * * * 

No, let me be obsequious in thy heart, 

And take thou my oblation, poor but free." 


If this can be shown to have any direct connection 
with the functions of Lord Great Chamberlain, it 
will be a very valuable direct proof of our thesis. 
The particular sonnet from which we have quoted 
comes at the extreme end of the series to which it 
belongs ; and, as we are assured that the whole series 
was brought to a close shortly after the death of 
Queen Elizabeth, sonnet 125 must have been written 
about the time of that event. It is difficult to imagine 
in what impressive ceremony William Shakspere of 
Stratford could have participated about the same 
time, necessitating his bearing the canopy and laying 
great bases for eternity. On the other hand, the 
reference to " dwellers on form and favour losing all 
by paying too much rent " is strongly suggestive of an 
allusion to royalty, and is exactly descriptive of what 
Oxford represents Elizabeth's treatment of himself to 
have been : that she had encouraged his lavish expen- 
diture with promises of favour that had not been 
fulfilled. His application, in her later years, for the 
presidency of Wales had met with fair words and 
disappointment. Altogether the suggestion of an 
allusion in the sonnet to the hereditary office of the 
Lord Great Chamberlain seems very strong. 



Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was 
born at Earl's Colne in Essex, in the year 1550, being 
the only son of John de Vere, Sixteenth Earl of Oxford. 
His mother was Margaret, daughter of John Golding 
and sister of Arthur Golding, the translator of Ovid. 


His father died at Earl's Colne in the year 1562 and 
was buried at Castle Hedingham, in Essex, and the 
future poet became a royal ward at the age of twelve. 
As this fact of his being a royal ward furnished the 
starting point of an argument with a remarkable 
culmination, we ask for the reader's special attention 
to it now. Earl's Colne and Castle Hedingham in 
Essex we may suppose are probably destined to attain 
an unexpected notoriety when the purpose of this work 
has been achieved. 

As we have every reason to believe that the influence Father- 
and memory of De Vere's father were important factors worshi P- 
in the poet's life, and add an element to our evidences 
of identification, it is necessary to point out certain 
facts concerning him. The article in the Dictionary 
of National Biography dealing with John de Vere, 
Sixteenth Earl of Oxford, mentions him as a man 
greatly honoured in his county and highly respected, 
especially by his tenantry ; from which we may infer 
a habit of direct personal intercourse with them and 
a kindly attention to their interests. He was also a 
keen sportsman, being evidently noted as such. To a 
lad of twelve a father of this kind is an ideal. His 
qualities appeal much more powerfully to the lad's 
admiration than more distinguished or exceptional 
powers would do ; and, especially in the case of an 
intensely affectionate nature like that of Edward de 
Vere's, to which his poetry bears unquestionable 
testimony, one can easily conceive of them forming the 
basis of a genuine comradeship between the two. 
When, therefore, we find that the father, who left large 
estates, nominated the boy in his will as one of his 
executors, it is impossible to doubt that the relationship 
between them was warm and intimate. The loss of 


such a father, with the complete upsetting of his 
young life that it immediately involved, must have 
been a great grief to one so sensitively constituted. 
We may naturally suppose, then, that the figure of 
a hero-father would live in his imagination ; and the 
reader of " Shakespeare " who has missed this note 
of father-worship in the great dramas has been 
found wanting in serious attention to their finer 

The greatest play of Shakespeare's, " Hamlet," has 
father-worship as its prime motive : 

" He was a man, take him for all in all, 
I shall not look upon his like again." 

The Or, what could be more striking than the opening 

passages of " All's Well that Ends Well " : 

Countess : In delivering my son from me I bury a second 

Bertram : And I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's 
death anew ; but I must attend his majesty's command, 
to whom I am now in ward evermore in subjection. 

* * * * 

Countess : Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy 

In manners as in shape ! Thy blood and virtue 
Contend for empire in thee ; and thy goodness 
Share with thy birthright. 

Then in the second scene when Bertram is brought 
before the king, he is addressed thus : 

King : 

Thy father .... did look far 
Into the service of the time and was 
Discipled of the bravest. 

It much repairs me 
To talk of your good father. 


So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness 

Were in his pride, or, if they were, 

His equal had awaked them : who were below him 

He used as creatures of another place, 

And bowed his eminent top to their low ranks, 

Making them proud of his humility. 

In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man 

Might be a copy to these younger times." 

In addition to the special point we are now em- 
phasizing, and the startling correspondence in so many 
details, to the actual circumstances of Edward de 
Vere, especially that of the royal wardship, is it possible 
to conceive of these lines being penned by any one but 
an aristocrat, in close connection with royalty, and 
dominated by the feudal ideals of noblesse oblige P 
The latter part of the quotation, so suggestive of the 
reputation borne by Edward de Vere's father, following 
upon a passage descriptive of the actual position of the 
son, affords a strong presumption that if the writer 
was not Edward de Vere he, at any rate, had that 
nobleman in his mind as the prototype of Bertram. 
The last sentence bespeaks not only the aristocrat but 
also a man who felt out of touch with the new and 
less chivalrous order then emerging from the protestant 
middle classes, where individualism and personal 
ambition were less under the discipline of social prin- 
ciples than in the best manifestations of the departing 
feudal ideals. 

As in dealing with the early life of Oxford we shall " Shake- 
have to notice throughout the remarkable parallelism 
between him and Bertram in " All's Well," it is im- 
portant to bear in mind that very many of the 
personal details are original to " Shakespeare's " play, 
and do not form part of Boccacio'S story upon which 
the central episode is based. " All's Well " might 


indeed be compendiously described as Boccacio's 
story plus the early life of Edward de Vere. 


Owing to his being in his minority at the time of his 
father's death, the latter's nomination of him as one 
of the executors of his will was inoperative, and he 
became, as we have seen, a royal ward. Just at this 
point the records are not so precise as we could wish. 
We learn that, as royal ward, he was brought from his 
home to the court, and as Cecil (not yet Lord Burleigh) 
was master of the court of royal wards, he became an 
inmate of Cecil's house in the Strand. 

Oxford's jjis mother, we also learn, remarried. We have tried 


in vam to discover the exact dates at which he was 
brought to court, and when his mother remarried, 
not as matters of mere curiosity, but because we believe 
these points may have their bearing both on our 
problem and upon questions of Shakespearean inter- 
pretation. The date of his mother's second marriage 
might prove of especial interest. It is to be regretted, 
therefore, that although references to the event appear 
in histories of Essex, no date is given ; thus strength- 
ening our suspicion that not much prominence was 
given to the marriage at the time : the date especially 
being kept in the background. It is a curious fact, 
too, that with the exception of her once interesting 
herself in his financial affairs, of which mention is 
made in the State Papers, we have not been able to 
discover a single reference to his mother in connection 
with any act in his life. 


In this connection his circumstances contrast in a countess of 
marked way with those of Henry Wriothesley, Third Southamp- 
Earl of Southampton, to whom " Shakespeare " 
dedicated his great poems and probably addressed 
many of his sonnets. He, too, just a generation later, 
became a royal ward at an early age and passed under 
the guardianship of Burleigh. In his case, however, 
his mother remained near him, looking after his interests 
and not remarrying until he had reached his majority : 
when she married Sir Thomas Henneage, Treasurer of 
the Chamber, and was herself responsible, as we have 
seen, for the single "official" mention of "Shake- 
speare " in the records of her husband's department. 
We thus get glimpses of her in everything relating to 
her son, either directly or indirectly, in those early 
years. We may remark here that as Oxford's own 
mother was dead at the time of his later domestic 
troubles, in dealing with the domestic troubles of 
Bertram in " All's Well " he may have taken the 
Dowager Countess of Southampton as the prototype 
of Bertram's mother : and certainly the represen- 
tation seems to fit. 

In Oxford's own case everything is different from Oxford at 
Southampton's. His mother does not appear, and one Court - 
gets a sense of there being a complete severance 
between his early childhood with its home associations 
and father's influence, and the remainder of his boyhood 
and youth. Henceforth it is " by public means which 
public manners breeds," that his bringing-up is pro- 
vided for. From the age of twelve true domestic 
influences were lost to him ; he becomes a prominent 
figure about Elizabeth's court, subjected to corrupting 
influences, in which it must be admitted the Queen 
herself was a potent factor. At the same time it is 


quite evident that he was only uncomfortably domiciled 
in Cecil's house. Between the Earl of Oxford and the 
Earl of Southampton there was therefore a striking 
parallel with an important difference. 

Arthur f The only family connection of which there are any 

Ovid!" 8 S traces is that of his uncle, Arthur Golding, the trans- 
lator of Ovid, who entered Cecil's house as Oxford's 
tutor and as receiver of his property. The vital 
significance of the relationship of Arthur Golding to 
the man we are putting forward as the author of 
Shakespeare's plays will be fully appreciated by those 
Shakespearean students who are also students of the 
Latin classics, and who are able to trace in Shake- 
speare passages borrowed from Ovid, which follow 
the original more closely that do the standard trans- 

We shall again quote from Sir Sidney Lee's " Life 
of Shakespeare" on this point: "Although Ovid's 
Latin text was certainly familiar to him (Shakespeare) 
his closest adaptations of Ovid's ' Metamorphoses ' 
often reflect the phraseology of the popular English 
version by Arthur Golding of which some seven editions 
were issued between 1565 and 1597." That is to say, 
these editions of Ovid were being issued by Arthur 
Golding in the very years in which he was Latin tutor 
to the Earl of Oxford, so that special point is given by 
the theory we are now putting forward to the bio- 
grapher's later remark that " Golding's rendering of 
Ovid had been one of Shakespeare's best-loved books 
in youth." 

To this we may add the testimony of Professor 
Sir Walter Raleigh that : "He certainly knew Ovid, 
for he quotes him in the original more than once, and 
chooses a motto for "Venus and Adonis" from the 


Elegies. But his more elaborate borrowings from 
Ovid came, for the most part, by way of Arthur 
Golding's translations." 

To find " Shakespeare " more exact in some instances " Shake- 
than the translator raises an acknowledged difficulty in QvW 6 
connection with the Stratfordian view. It has for a 
long while been one of the vexed questions of Shake- 
spearean authorship, and is discussed at some length 
in Sir George Greenwood's work on the "Shakespearean 
Problem." What is a difficulty with the accepted 
authorship becomes transformed into a substantial 
corroboration of the theory of authorship we are now 
advancing ; and all mystery immediately vanishes 
when we assume that Arthur Golding, the Ovid 
enthusiast and translator, was himself a relative as 
well as a private tutor and Latin teacher to " Shake- 
speare," engaged in the latter capacity in the very 
years in which he was translating and publishing the 
works of this particular poet. 

The importance of this little piece of evidence can 
hardly be over-estimated. By itself it proves nothing, 
but in view of the prominent position which the Ovid 
controversy has taken in the question of Shakespearean 
authorship, and in conjunction with the other lines 
of evidence we are now offering, its value is un- 
questionable. Ovid is the one Latin poet who has 
been specially singled out as having directly left deep 
traces in Shakespeare's work, at the same time that the 
dramatist shows an equal intimacy with the trans- 
lation. This is precisely the result we should expect 
from the Earl of Oxford's relationship to Arthur 
Golding. An intimate acquaintance with one particular 
translation of a classic, and also such an acquaintance 
with the original as to make his own rendering more 



DC Vere and 


Oxford and 

complete and exact in some respects is not a usual 
combination in a student of the classics, and needs 
some such relationship as existed between Edward de 
Vere and Arthur Golding to explain it. The connection 
of Edward de Vere, Arthur Golding, and " Shake- 
speare " with Ovid thus constitutes an important link 
in our chain of evidence. 

In this connection we would, in conclusion, offer a 
suggestion. Arthur Golding was the author of other 
works besides the translation of Ovid. From references 
to these we gather that all are quite inferior to the 
Ovid work : itself only of second rate order. If, then, 
the translation of Ovid formed part of Oxford's latin 
studies as it most assuredly would do under the 
circumstances it may be that what is taken to be the 
influence of Golding 's work in " Shakespeare " is in 
reality due to the influence of the young Earl of Oxford 
upon the work of Arthur Golding. 

Considering the place occupied by the translator of 
Ovid in the early life and education of the Earl of 
Oxford, we would draw particular attention to the fact 
that, in the Inner Temple Records, there appears an 
entry indicating that after finishing his work as tutor 
to his nephew, Arthur Golding was admitted to the 
Bar. Evidently then, pari passu with the work of 
translating classics and instructing the Earl of Oxford, 
there had been proceeding the study of law. Oxford's 
course of reading had been mapped out for him by 
Cecil, and it goes without saying that a plan of studies 
drawn up by Cecil would most certainly embrace legal 
procedure. Oxford's letters of a much later date, 
preserved in the Hatfield Manuscripts, certainly appeal 
to a layman as the work of a man conversant with 
legal forms and terminology, and one' passage of 


special interest we shall presently submit . The question 
of whether his legal knowledge was on the same plane 
with that of " Shakespeare " the experts must decide : 
meanwhile we shall give one or two examples : 

Earl of Oxford to Sir Robert Cecil: 

"It is now a year since Her Majesty granted her 
interest in Danver's escheat. I find that the lands 
will be carried without deed. I have twice moved Her 
Majesty to grant me that ordinary course, whereof 
there are more than one hundred examples. Mine 
answer was that I should receive her pleasure from 
you. But I understand by Cauley that she hath 
never spoken thereof. The matter hath been heard 
twice before the judges but their report hath never 
been made. I challenge that something be done 
whereby I may, upon ground, seek and try Her Majesty's 
right, which cannot be done without this deed afore- 
said. I desire to know Her Majesty's pleasure touching 
her patent (de bene esse) whether she will perform it 
or no." 

Hackney, 22nd March, 1601. 

(Hatfield MSS., Vol. XII.) 

" If Her Majesty's affections be forfeits of men's 
estates we must endure it." (Hatfield MSS., Vol. V.) 

What the lawyers tell us of Shakespeare's use of the 
word " forfeit," coupled with the reference to en- 
durance, makes this sentence eminently Shakespearean. 

More than once we get evidence of his chafing under 
" the law's delays," and of royal promises unsupported 
by performance. 

" I was promised favour that I should have assis- 
tance of Her Majesty's counsel in law, that I should 


have expedition. Her Majesty's counsel hath been 
against me. Her Majesty used me very graciously . . . 
I have written Her Majesty and received a most 
gracious answer to do me good in all that she can." 

December, 1601. 
(Hatfield MSS., XL) 

Her Majesty's promises and gracious answers, 
however, came to nothing in these cases. 

The significance of the following passage (in one of 
Oxford's letters) either from the legal or Shakespearean 
point of view we do not profess to understand. Its 
chief interest lies in the two names it introduces 
together. We shall therefore preface it with two 
passages from Mrs. Stopes's " Burbage and Shake- 
speare's Stage" : 

Sergeant " Qn I3th November, 1590, Mr. Sergeant Harrys 

Bacon. for Burbage prayed consideration of a former order 
made in his behalf in the suit of Burbage v. Braynes " 
(p. 50). Sergeant Harris was evidently then engaged 
in legal business connected with Burbage's theatre. 
On iyth June, '44, Eliz. (1602) " The Court referred 
(another legal case involving theatrical connections) 
to the consideration of the right worshipful Francis 

Bacon, Esq Here at last I have found a real 

association of Francis Bacon with the Theatre .... 
in his legal capacity, not a poetic one at all. ... 
This case was running concurrently with (another 
theatrical legal case brought in in 1601)." 

The Earl of Oxford to Sir Robert Cecil (1601) : 

" I am advised that I may pass my book from Her 
Majesty to my cousin Bacon and to Sergeant Harris 
to perfect it." From Hackney. 


Bacon was a cousin of Robert Cecil's and therefore 
a cousin of Oxford's by marriage ; and the evidence 
here presented of the co-operation of the two men in 
legal matters may go far to explain the many interesting 
similarities of expression brought together by the 
Baconians. These matters take us far beyond the period 
of his history with which we are immediately con- 
cerned : the object of introducing them now is to 
show that both in the education of Oxford, and in his 
subsequent career, there is much to account for the 
prominence of legal terms in any writing which might 
be attributed to him. 

Resuming now the account of his education generally, 
we are told that Cecil had drawn up some scheme of learning and 


instruction ; that he was " thoroughly grounded in 
French and Latin " ; that he " learnt to dance, ride 
and shoot " ; and that he manifested a natural taste 
for music and a marked interest in literature. On the 
other hand, every word of the records we have of him, 
taken along with what he has himself written, represents 
him as one combining with his interest in books a 
more intense interest in life itself. Or, rather, we 
should say he was one in whom life and literature, 
especially classic poetry, seem to have worked them- 
selves into some kind of unity : one who interpreted life 
in terms of classic poetry, carrying into life the con- 
ceptions of classic poetry, and reading classic poetry 
as but the reflection of ordinary practical life. To 
say that all this is characteristic of Shakespeare is as 
banal a remark as could well be made ; and the words 
which the dramatist puts into the mouth of Berowne in 
" Love's Labour's Lost " might quite easily be taken 
as Edward de Vere's expression of personal opinions : 

"Learning is but an adjunct to ourself." 


And this : 

Berowne : 

" That (delight is) most vain 
Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain : 
As painfully to pore upon a book, 
To seek the light of truth ; while truth the while 
Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look : 
Small have continual plodders ever won 
Save base authority from others' books. 
These earthly godfathers of heaven's light 
That give a name to every fixed star, 
Have no more profit of their shining nights 
Than those that walk and wot not what they are. 
Too much to know is to know nought but fame, 
And every godfather can give a name. 

King : 

How well he's read to reason against reading." 

The Shakespeare revealed in the dramas was no 
mere book-worm " falsely blinding the eyesight " of 
his mind in close plodding at academic studies. On 
the other hand it is almost impossible to conceive of 
a man in the position of the Stratford Shakspere rising 
to such a literary level otherwise than by the most 
assiduous and constant application of his mind to 
books. The man " self-educated " in this way has 
invariably to pay a penalty in those sides of his nature 
which relate him to practical life: a penalty which 
" Shakespeare " had not paid, and need not be paid 
by a man living in contact with educated people to 
whom " book-learning " is an " adjunct " to life 
rather than its chief concern. 

Latin and it is interesting to notice, however, that the out- 
standing subjects of De Vere's book-learning are 
French and Latin ; and in this connection we are 
again able to adduce the testimony of Shakespeare's 


leading modern biographer as to the dramatist's 
linguistic attainments : 

" With the Latin and French languages indeed, and 
with many Latin poets of the school curriculum, 
Shakespeare in his writings openly acknowledged his 
acquaintance. In " Henry V " the dialogue in many 
scenes is carried on hi French, which is grammatically 
accurate if not idiomatic " (Sir Sidney Lee, " Life 
of Shakespeare "). 

In other words, Shakespeare's French was not mere 
school-book French, but the living speech of a man 
acquainted with the language in direct relationship 
with thought processes : and this nearly three hundred 
years before the oral method of teaching languages 
was introduced into school curricula. Similarly 
Edward de Vere's facility hi the use of French was 
such that one of the few duties with which he was 
officially entrusted was to meet and conduct an im- 
portant emissary from France. Again, by itself, the 
point might seem unimportant. The reason, however, 
why we dwell upon it, and why we quote Shakespearean 
authorities in the matter, is to show that there is 
probably not a single outstanding fact recorded of 
Edward de Vere, but we have some Shakespearean 
scholar who has asserted it to be also true of the writer 
of the plays. 

In addition to the advantages of the best private The 
tuition he had also a university education ; first at Umversi ties. 
Queens' College, Cambridge, then at St. John's College. 
Subsequently he received degrees from both universities. 
The references to this matter are, however, peculiarly 
slight, and leave the impression of his having been one 
who had merely trifled^for^short time with university 
life, and to whom it did not count for muchT^Everi 


. the dates of his residence are not given, and the 
degrees we judge to have been honorary degrees in 
both cases, given in after years. It is claimed by some 
writers that Shakespeare shows a knowledge of the 
universities. Such contact as Edward de Vere had 
with them would be sufficient to account for that 
knowledge, whilst the apparently small part it played 
in his life would quite agree with the almost negligible 
part that college and university matters occupy in the 
plays. There are only two occasions on which Shake- 
speare mentions the word " university." Hamlet, in 
poking fun at Polonius, draws him out by exciting his 
vanity about what he had done "at the university." 
The other occasion is when another old man, with a 
slight suggestion of Polonius about him, Vincentio, 
in the " Taming of the Shrew," bewails " I am undone ! 
While I play the good husband at home my son and 
my servant spend all at the university." It may be 
that the dramatist had the same personality in his 
mind's eye in both cases. 
Relationship Oxford's life in the Cecil household seems to have 
been far from happy. For it was during these years, 
between the death of his father and his coming of 
age, that he first of all sought relief from it by begging 
for some military occupation. There was probably 
in him, too, some idea of winning military glory quite 
in keeping with the family traditions and the later 
achievements of his cousins the " Fighting Veres." It 
is clear, however, that his relationships with the Cecil 
family were not harmonious. At any rate, the record 
of him, which is evidently originally from Cecilian 
sources, is to the effect that he quarrelled with the 
other members of the household. In view of the fact 
that when Oxford entered the house Anne Cecil was 


a child five years old, Robert Cecil was still unborn 
and Thomas Cecil had already left home, it is not 
easy to see who there would be to quarrel with except 
the irascible Lady Burleigh . The quarrels are mentioned 
with the evident object of proving him quarrelsome. 
What is not mentioned, probably because the modern 
recorder had not observed it, is that three of the 
noblemen most hostile to the Cecils and the Cecil 
faction in Elizabeth's court, had all been royal wards, 
having had the great Lord Burleigh as their guardian 
Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford ; Henry Wriothes- 
ley, Earl of Southampton ; and Robert Devereux, Earl 
of Essex. These noblemen apparently considered it 
no great blessing to have had the paternal attentions 
of the great minister, and cherished no particular 
affection for the family. So far as the Earl of Oxford 
is concerned, whatever disaster may have come into 
his life, we are confident, had its beginning in the 
death of his father, the severance of his home ties, and 
the combined influences of Elizabeth's court and 
Burleigh's household, from which he was anxious to 
escape. The expression of it all is heard in sonnet in : 

" O ! for my sake do you with Fortune chide 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds ; 
That did not better for my life provide 
Than public means that public manners breeds. 
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, 
And almost thence my nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand." 

The attempt to explain this passage as William 
Shakspere's lament over a public career that was raising 
him, in early manhood, from poverty and obscurity 
to wealth and fame, after he had left on the Strat- 
fordian theory a wholesome home-life enlightened by 


a superiorjTeducation, is as grotesque a piece of ex- 
planatory comment as that theory has been responsible 
Oxford and The part which Burleigh took actively in Oxford's 

yUCCIl 1111 1 f y-v 

Elizabeth, troubles belongs to a later stage of our story. Our 
present concern is with the nine years during which 
he was a royal ward (age 12 to 21), the period of bis 
education proper. In these years we find him having 
just those experiences which, taken along with his own 
and his family's antecedents, and the evident bent of 
his genius, were supplying the precise kind of training 
needed for the production of the plays of Shakespeare, 
in several of their prime essentials. Without being 
actually a prince of royal blood he was so near to it, 
in all the points material to our argument, as to be 
regarded in that light. He enjoyed an easy familiarity 
with the Queen ; he accompanied her on her journeys ; 
he seems in his early life to have had a real affection 
for her and she for him ; and, later on, as he developed 
into manhood, received attentions of such a nature 
from the Queen, now middle-aged, as to cause his 
irate mother-in-law to take her royal mistress to task 
about it. An entry appears in the Calendered State 
Papers stating that it was affirmed by one party that 
" the Queen wooed the Earl of Oxford but he would not 
fall in." (Domestic Papers for 1601-3, page 56.) 
Elizabeth indeed showed a marked indulgence to what 
seemed like waywardness in him ; and when, again 
at a later time, the quarrel between him and Sidney 
occurred she took his side and demanded an apology 
from Sidney basing her demand, it is asserted, on 
the grounds of Oxford's superior rank. We have 
already had to draw attention to the startling character 
of the analogy between Oxford and the central character 


in " All's Well," the royal ward, Bertram Count of 
Roussilon, to which must now be added this proximity 
in social rank and intimate intercourse with royalty, 
to which Helena refers in her conversation with the 
King. It will be interesting to notice, too, the em- 
phasis given both in this play and in " Hamlet " to 
the idea that by virtue of their birth the chief characters 
had no personal liberty of choice in the matter of 

Before leaving the consideration of these formative Dancing, 
influences in the early life of Oxford, we return to its 
being specially recorded of him that he learnt to 
" dance, ride and shoot." Oxford's skill in dancing 
and its influence over the Queen is emphasized by one 
contemporary English writer, whilst an interesting 
illustration of it appears in the Spanish Calendered 
State Papers. When the Duke of Anjou visited 
England, Elizabeth sent for Oxford to come and dance 
before the Duke : but this he refused to do though 
repeatedly sent for. So far as dancing is concerned, 
" Shakespeare " was evidently well acquainted with it, 
as shown by the number of references to it and his 
knowledge of the names of different kinds of dances 
and steps. These references do not, however, seem to 
express any enthusiasm for it, or suggest that it 
occupied at all a prominent position amongst Shake- 
speare's interests. Indeed Bertram, in " All's Well," 
seems rather to be expressing the author's own 
attitude when he complains about having to 

' ' Stay here, 

Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, 
Till honour be bought up, and no sword worn 
But one to dance with." 

It is the attitude of a man who danced because he 





was denied a more manly outlet for his energies : 
secretly ashamed possibly of his own accomplishment 
and unwilling to put himself on exhioition. 

Again, in the matter of shooting, if it is shooting 
with firearms that is meant, this is less than anything 
in Shakespeare's line ; but if it be archery to which 
allusion is made, then it is in every way typical of 
" Shakespeare." Shakespeare has, of course, references 
to firearms ; in one or two instances he even uses 
out-of-the-way terms ; but, in the matter of archery his 
vocabulary is almost as rich, and his illustrations 
drawn from it almost as copious, as in the case of 
falconry ; so that, in examining the matter now one 
wonders how it chanced to be overlooked at the 
beginning of our enquiry, when specifying his leading 

Most important of all, however, is this point of De 
Vere's horsemanship. Not only did Oxford learn to 
ride, but, in those days when horsemanship was much 
more in vogue than it will probably ever be again, and 
when great skill was attained in horse-management, he 
was amongst those who excelled, particularly in tilts 
and tourneys, receiving special marks of royal appre- 
ciation of his skill. Horsemanship was, therefore, a 
very pronounced interest of his. His father, too, 
had been the owner of valuable horses, special mention 
of them being made in his will, which Arthur Collins 
quotes in his " Historical Recollections of Noble 

Turning now to Shakespeare's works we feel again 
that it was another grave omission from our original 
statement of Shakespearean interests not to have 
mentioned horses. We find there is more in Shake- 
speare about horses than upon almost any subject 


outside human nature. Indeed we feel tempted to 
say that Shakespeare brings them within the sphere 
of human nature. There is, of course, his intimate 
knowledge of different kinds of horses, their physical 
peculiarities, all the details which go to form a good or 
a bad specimen of a given variety, almost a veterinary's 
knowledge of their diseases and their treatment. But 
over and above all this there is a peculiar handling of 
the theme which raises a horse almost to the level of 
a being with a moral nature. 

In " Venus and Adonis," for example, we have what 
is in reality a poem within the poem, amounting to 
over seventy lines, in which a mere animal instinct is 
raised in horses to the dignity of a complex and exalted 
human passion. 

Or, take the following dialogue from " Richard II ": 

Groom : 

! how it yearn 'd my heart when I beheld 
In London streets that coronation day, 
When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary. 
That horse that thou so oft hast bestrid, 
That horse that I so carefully have dress 'd. 

King Richard : 

Rode he on Barbary ? Tell me, gentle friend, 
How went he under him ? 

Groom : 

So proudly as if he disdain'd the ground. 

King Richard : 

So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back ! 
That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand, 
This hand hath made him proud with clapping him. 
Would he not stumble ? Would he not fall down, 
Since pride must have a fall, and break the neck 
Of that proud man that did usurp his back ? 
Forgiveness, horse ! Why do I rail on thee ? " 


It reads like a real personal experience ; as if the 
man who wrote it knew what it was to own valuable 
horses and to suffer the mortification of seeing the 
animals he loved, passing, as a result of his mis- 
fortunes, into the possession of others : an experience 
which, without any surmising, must have been endured 
by Edward de Vere. 

Early poetry In thus working from the early life of De Vere to 
the works of Shakespeare little remains to be said. 
With the scanty materials before us it is impossible to 
visualise the poet's life during those very early years. 
Whether or not he had begun to write poetry we cannot 
say. The poems before us seem from their contents 
to belong mainly to the early part of the next ten 
years, when he was between the ages of twenty and 
thirty. We wish to throw out a suggestion, however, 
which it may be worth while for literary men to 
examine. In " England's Helicon " there is a set of 
poems of superior merit, which, nevertheless, seem to 
us inferior to the poetry of Edward de Vere already 
examined. They appear over the signature of Shepherd 
Tony and constitute another of the mysteries of 
Elizabethan literature. They do, however, contain 
certain marks of Edward de Vere's work, and it is not 
impossible that they may include his earliest juvenile 
efforts. For notwithstanding the evidence that his 
known work belongs mainly to his early years, it 
seems much too skilfully done to have been his first 
production. Even it seems to demand a " foreground 
somewhere " ; and Shepherd Tony may represent that 
foreground. These particular poems seem to contain 
rather more of the affectation of the early Elizabethan 
poetry than do De Vere's recognized work, and have 
not always the same smoothness of diction. At the 


same time they mark a distinct advance in the direction 
of realism ; and one poem of Shepherd Tony's, " Beauty 
sat bathing by a spring," which has been erroneously 
attributed to Anthony Munday, is a very decided 
break from the weaker work of earlier Elizabethan 

Before leaving this early stage of his career we may Oxford and 
add a somewhat inexplicable memorandum of Cecil's ay * 
which concerns his affairs, dated July loth, 1570, and 
preserved in the Hatfield manuscripts. Rumour was 
evidently rife that Cecil was managing Oxford's 
affairs in the matter of lands, to his own advantage 
and to Oxford's detriment : a matter on which the 
latter attacked him some six or seven years later. 
Cecil emphatically contradicts the allegation, and 
continues : 

" Whosoever saith that I did stay my Lord of Oxford's 
money here so as he had no money in Italy by the space 
of six months they say also untruly." 

We cannot find any other indication of Oxford's 
visiting Italy before his tour in 1575 and 1576. 

This chapter as a whole may be said to be concerned Summary, 
with biographical foundations ; all the particulars of 
which relate themselves directly to the " Shakespeare " 
literature. The reputation which " vulgar scandal " 
had fixed upon him is represented in the sonnets. His 
pride of birth displays itself throughout the dramas, 
and is reflected specially in Shakespeare's partiality to 
the Earls of Oxford. The hereditary office of his 
family is possibly alluded to in the sonnets. His 
orphanhood, royal wardship, and particulars of his 
early life are represented in " All's Well." Details 
of his education, particularly the part taken by his 


uncle, Arthur Golding reproduce themselves in the 
outstanding features of " Shakespeare's " education, 
as given by eminent Stratfordians. The prominence 
of law in " Shakespeare " for the first time finds an 
explanation consistent with all the other requirements 
of the work. We therefore ask again, is all this mere 
accidental coincidence ? 





As Burleigh's papers are the chief original source of 
biographical matter relating to the Earl of Oxford's 
private life, and the writers upon whom we depend 
for most of our details are marked by Cecilian partiali- 
ties, it is necessary to point out that, though we accept 
many of the facts upon their authority, they share in 
no degree the responsibility for the interpretation of 
them. This is entirely our own. 

On coming of age, in April 1571, Oxford took his Marriage, 
seat in the House of Lords, and in the same year 
distinguished himself at a solemn joust which took 
place in the Queen's presence at Westminster. In 
December of the same year he married, with the 
Queen's consent, Anne, daughter of Lord Burleigh. 
The Queen " attended the ceremony which was 
celebrated with great pomp." 

As we have already had occasion to point out the 
remarkable parallelism between the case of the Earl 
of Oxford and Bertram in " All's Well," we must now 
add to it this fact of his marriage with a young woman 
with whom he had been brought up. In Bertram's 
case, however, they had lived together at his own 
home, whereas in Oxford's case they had lived together 
in the home of the lady. If we are to believe con- 
temporary report on the matter the resemblance 
between the two cases extends to even more interesting 
particulars. Helena was socially inferior to Bertram. 



In the early part of the play he shows no inclination 
towards this young woman who is in love with him, 
and it is she who pursues the young man until she 
succeeds in winning him as her husband. 

Helena : 

" 1 am from humble, he from honour 'd name ; 
No note upon my parents, his all noble ; 
My master, my dear lord he is ; and I 
His servant live, and will his vassal die." 

We may remark in passing that it is difficult to 
believe that these words could have been written by 
any one but an aristocrat in whom pride of birth was 
a pronounced feeling. We may also compare the last 
lines of this passage with the concluding part of De 
Vere's Echo poem : 

" May I his favour match with love if he my love will 


May I requite his birth with faith then faithful will I 
die ? " 

Most people will agree that the similarity of these 
two passages is startling. 

Now, not only did Anne Cecil belong to the newly 

emerging middle class, so much held in contempt by 

the few remaining representatives of the ancient 

aristocracy, but we have it reported by a contemporary, 

Lady Lord St. John, that, " the Erie of Oxenforde hath 


gotten himself a wyffe, or, at leste a wyffe hath caught 
him. This is the mistress Anne Cycille, whereunto the 
Queen hath given her consent." One may conclude, 
therefore, that the Earl of Oxford was not supposed 
to have been very active himself in bringing'about the 
marriage. Rightly or wrongly others ^regarded Oxford's 
marriage with Burleigh's daughter in much the same 


light as is represented by the marriage of Bertram with 
Helena. All this reads very strangely in view of the 
age of the bride : for Anne was born on December 5th, 
1556. Like Juliet she was, therefore, but fourteen j u ii et . 
years of age at the time when the courting alluded to 
took place, and when all the wedding arrangements 
were made. The marriage itself seems merely to have 
been delayed until the moment when she could be 
spoken of as being fifteen. 

This combination of extreme youthfulness and the 
bearing and conduct of a matured woman, common to 
Juliet and Anne Cecil, we shall find in a later dramatic 
representation of Lady Oxford. The resemblance to 
Juliet, however, must be viewed in the light of the 
remarkable correspondence in literary particulars 
between the work of De Vere and Shakespeare's play 
of " Romeo and Juliet." This play is recognized as 
one of the early productions of Shakespeare, and it 
is also interesting to notice that Mr. Frank Harris 
selects Romeo as a personal self-representation of 
Shakespeare in his early years. 

The resemblance between Lady Oxford and Helena Helena, 
with which we are particularly concerned at this stage 
is further supported by letters in the Hatfield manu- 
scripts, in which her smallness of stature and sweetness 
of manner are indicated. She is spoken of, on two 
occasions, by different writers, as the " sweet little 
Countess of Oxford," precisely as Helena, in " All's 
Well," is spoken of as "little Helena" (I, i) and 
" sweet Helena " (V, 3) : the latter epithet being 
specially emphasized by repetition. 

What the actual inward relationships of Oxford and 
his wife may have been, is one of the secrets over 
which the grave has closed for ever. We have im- 




A broken 

pressions recorded, however, which are derived 
evidently from hostile Cecil sources. Oxford himself, 
on the other hand, preserves an almost complete 
silence, proof against all provocation ; his enemies 
call it sulkiness. The one thing clear about it is that 
the union was unhappy, and had a marked influence 
upon his career. This being so, the matter concerns 
our present enquiry. 

The antagonism between Oxford and Philip Sidney 
has already been referred to. Now we find that Sidney 
had first of all been proposed as a husband for Anne 
Cecil, and her father's conduct of the negotiations, 
however it may strike an aristocrat, appears to an 
ordinary Englishman as sordid a piece of bargaining 
over the disposal of a daughter as could well be. 
Sidney, notwithstanding his family connections and 
personal prospects, which had evidently been quite 
enough to satisfy the demands of a prospective 
aristocratic father-in-law like Lord Devereux, was 
nevertheless too poor a man to satisfy the cupidity 
of Sir William Cecil, as he then was. He must needs 
procure for his daughter, he says, a richer husband 
than Master Philip Sidney. The difficulty was over- 
come, however, and arrangements were made for the 
marriage of Anne Cecil to Sidney, though both were 
hardly more than children at the time ; for Sidney 
was Oxford's junior by four and a half years, whilst 
Anne was only 12 years old in 1569 when the 
marriage arrangement was made. 

At the time when the marriage between Anne and 
Sidney was arranged the Earl of Oxford was, socially, 
" out of Anne's star." Now Cecil's care for the social 
and material advancement of his own family is one of 
the outstanding features of his policy. From this 


point of view the marriage of his daughter to one of 
the foremost of the ancient nobility, and a man of 
vast possessions, would be a great acquisition and 
the gratification of a high personal ambition. These 
social connections evidently meant much to him, for 
he had tried to make out an aristocratic ancestry for 
himself and had failed. Whether or not Elizabeth 
would sanction such an alliance might, however, 
be considered extremely doubtful ; and if she were 
to consent, such consent would be almost as great a 
concession to Cecil as was that of Denmark's King 
and Queen to the marriage of Hamlet with the daughter 
of Polonius. 

What may have transpired " behind the scenes " 
we shall probably never know ; but we find that early 
in 1571 Cecil was raised to the peerage with the title 
of Lord Burleigh, the marriage arrangement with 
Sidney was cancelled, the Queen gave her consent to 
Oxford's marriage with Burleigh's daughter Anne, 
and in the latter part of the same year the marriage 
took place in the Queen's presence, being " celebrated 
with great pomp ! " It is not improbable, then, that 
Burleigh owed his own peerage to the proposed 

A most curious circumstance, suggestive of more Castle 
sordid bargaining, is what is recorded of Burleigh and Hedm g ham - 
Oxford's estates. Amongst the extensive estates of 
the De Veres, the two most directly associated with 
the family appear to have been those of Earls Colne 
and Hedingham in Essex. Now we find that, shortly 
after his marriage, the Earl of Oxford made over the 
important ancestral domain of Castle Hedingham to 
his father-in-law. What influences may have been at 
work to get him to part with Castle Hedingham to 


Burleigh it is impossible to surmise ; but when we 
find that his father-in-law had been complaining of 
his poverty only a few years before, that he had 
managed to get himself made master of the court of 
royal wards, and that when he died he left three 
hundred landed estates, it needs no stretch of imagina- 
tion to suppose that he had been able to exercise over 
the affairs of other royal wards something of the same 
kind of undue influence which he had evidently been 
able to exert over his youthful son-in-law. 

Burleigh If, therefore, there is any character in Shakespeare's 

works whom we may be able to identify with Burleigh, 
to have had him likened to Jephtha, as Hamlet does 
Polonius, would have been something of a slander upon 
Jephtha. For the conduct of this Old Testament 
character towards his daughter seems quite respectable 
compared with the sordid dealings of the great Lord 
Burleigh ; and the tears which the latter seems osten- 
tatiously to have shed at the death of her whom he 
called his " filia carissima " ought to have sprung 
from the grief of shame and repentance rather than 
the grief of bereavement. In the subsequent troubles 
Burleigh made much of the fault iness of Oxford's 
bearing whilst an inmate of the former's house, and 
if his accusations were found to be well grounded they 
would only render more contemptible the sacrifice he 
made of his " filia carissima " for personal and family 
ambition. He cannot have it both ways. 

Domestic Notwithstanding, therefore, the royal consent, the 

pomp of the ceremony, and the elaborate festivities, it 
is evident that the marriage had not taken place under 
the happiest of auspices for those most immediately 
concerned. To all these initial drawbacks must be 
added the fact that the young couple seem to have 


remained under the eye and direction of the lady's 
father who, we shall presently show, was about as 
incompatible with her husband in disposition, interests 
and circumstances as one man could possibly be with 
another. Oxford's mother-in-law was also an im- 
portant factor to be reckoned with. The stern and 
vigilant Lady Burleigh apparently considered it 
part of her duty to keep a strict watch upon her young 
son-in-law, and was not afraid of rebuking the great 
Queen Elizabeth herself, then forty years of age, for 
attempting to flirt with the young man. The Queen's 
angry retort that " his lordship (Burleigh) winketh at 
these love affairs," is illuminating on more points than 
one, and helps us to envisage the whole moral situation. 
Finally, whatever the actual facts behind Burleigh's 
general accusations against Oxford whilst he was an 
inmate of the Cecil home, it is quite evident that 
Oxford's relationships with the family had not been 
harmonious, and only the best of luck and the utmost 
circumspection all round could have averted disaster. 

As the personality of Elizabeth's great minister oxford and 
looms large in the life of the poet during the years Burlei g h - 
immediately following the marriage, and probably 
exercised an influence over the whole of his career, it 
is necessary that the character of their relationship 
should be duly weighed. It is no part of our business 
to estimate Burleigh's value as a statesman or politician, 
nor even to take his moral measure as a whole. It is 
his dealings with one man that concern us, and how 
these dealings would be likely to impress the man in 
question. In brief, we are concerned principally with 
Burleigh's dealings with Oxford, from Oxford's point 
of view. 

On the one hand we kave a man wh for many 


years had maintained a supreme position in the 
political world at a time when such eminence could 
only be secured and retained by the most shifty oppor- 
tunism. On the other hand we have a very young 
man, hardly more than a boy, with the sensitive and 
idealist temperament of the poet, keenly alive to the 
literary and intellectual movements of his time, and 
with a fervent attachment to the departing feudal 
order, the social and moral principles of which were at 
direct variance with the political opportunism of the 
age in which he lived. To the young man, politics, 
in their contemporary sense, would be as great an 
abomination, as they would be a ruling interest in the 
mind of the elder man. It is difficult, therefore, to 
conceive of two men more thoroughly antipathetical 
or less likely to understand each other. If, then, we 
recollect that the younger one had been subjected to 
the elder one's dominance from childhood, it speaks 
well for the former's strength of character and the 
decided bent of his genius, that his literary and poetic 
inclinations were not crushed by the weight of the 
influences working against them 

Barlwgh and As some of the admirers of Burleigh have tried to 
htwarymen. ma k e ou t that his influence was favourable to the 
literary movement of the times, we can, perhaps, best 
judge him in this respect by indicating his relationship to 
the second genius of that age, the poet Spenser. One or 
two expressions fromChurch's life of the poet will suffice : 

" Burleigh's dislike to Spenser " (p. 47). 

" Burleigh hated him and his verses " (p. 87). 

" Under what was popularly thought the crabbed and 
parsimonious administration of Burleigh .... it 
seemed as if the poetry of the time was passing away in 
chill discouragement " (p. 107). 


No treatment of the question of Burleigh's dealings Burieigh's 
with other men would be adequate which omitted to espl 
mention the system of espionage which he practised. 
Even his eulogists are compelled to admit the far- 
reaching and intricate ramifications of the system he 
set up, the application of it to even those servants of 
the state who had every reason to believe themselves 
most trusted, and the low, unscrupulous character 
of the agents he employed to watch men of high station 
and approved honour. The article on Burleigh in the 
Dictionary of National Biography, which is very 
partial towards its subject, nevertheless admits all this, 
and jit appears occasionally in the "Life of Spenser," 
of which we have made frequent use. Of course his 
admirers find a justification for this in the dangers to 
which his life was exposed. Other men in exalted 
positions have, however, been exposed to similar 
dangers and some of them have had to protect them- 
selves by similar means, but have been able to do it 
without outraging the sense of decency to the same 
extent as was done by Burleigh. It is quite evident, 
moreover, from G. Ravenscroft Dennis's work on 
" The House of Cecil," that when his eldest son, 
Thomas, afterwards Earl of Exeter, was in Paris, 
Burleigh had him watched and secretly reported on, 
quite in the manner of Polonius's employment of the 
spy Reynaldo. In this case no such excuse as that 
proffered would apply. It seems more like the in- 
sensibility of a vulgar nature to the requirements of 
ordinary decency. The man who, having risen to 
eminence through his patron, the Duke of Somerset, 
saved himself when his patron fell by drawing up the 
articles of impeachment against his benefactor, was 
perhaps unable to believe that others could act from 



An early 


higher motives than his own, and was prepared to 
trust nobody. Certainly, no one could feel himself 
free from the attentions of Burleigh's spies, and least 
of all the son-in-law who knew that, beneath any 
external show of amicability, there lay between them 
a natural and rooted antipathy. 

In these spying methods of Burleigh's we may 
possibly find an explanation of a mysterious incident 
recorded as happening prior to Oxford's marriage, 
especially if we suppose Oxford to be " Shakespeare." 
Oxford had inflicted a wound on an under-cook in 
Burleigh's employ, and this wound unfortunately 
proved fatal. None of the circumstances are told, 
possibly because they are unknown, but, like every- 
thing else, the event must needs be set down to Oxford's 
discredit . Now, remembering Burleigh's spying methods 
and the peculiar circumstances under which Polonius 
received his death wound at the hands of Hamlet, we 
may possibly find in the drama a suggestion of some- 
thing that had actually happened in the experience 
of its author ; especially in view of Hamlet's exclama- 
tion : 

' Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell ! 
/ took thee for thy better." 

If, then, in Shakespeare there is any character whom 
we might identify with Burleigh we should expect to 
find a spying craftiness amongst his characteristics. 
This, of course, is the case with Polonius: 

In the thinly-veiled conflict between the two men 
it is evident that Burleigh had not all his own way. 
Accustomed as he had been to the thought of others 
yielding to his domination a domination possibly 
less real than he imagined, as he appears to have been 


more of an instrument in the hands of his capable 
mistress and less a ruling power than he supposed 
treated as he undoubtedly had been with extreme 
deference by one of the most autocratic of a despotic 
dynasty, he nevertheless found himself contradicted, 
remonstrated with, and embarrassed by a son-in-law 
who was little more than a boy, and who undoubtedly 
regarded the great minister as belonging to an inferior 

It is difficult to appreciate the point of view of Burieigh's 
writers who speak of Oxford's " ingratitude " to 
Burleigh, and of his having added to his own eminence 
by marriage. The fact is they merely repeat Burieigh's 
own account as it appears in the documents he has 
left. As master of the court of royal wards, Burleigh 
had had charge of Oxford and had used his position 
both to elevate the social prestige of his own family 
and to add to his own estates. So far as De Vere is 
concerned it is difficult to see that he owed any sub- 
stantial advantage to his connection with Burleigh; 
whilst the latter was undoubtedly the source of a very- 
great deal that acted as a drag upon the life of his 
son-in-law, interfering with the natural expansion of 
his powers, intensifying the chagrins of domestic 
trouble, and fastening a stigma on his reputation. 
We have already referred to Burieigh's repeated 
thwarting of Oxford's desire for a more useful career 
and a more extended experience of life ; and whatever 
reason he may have offered, it is quite clear that 
behind it all there was no real friendliness towards the 
younger man. The pretence of a good motive behind 
the repeated refusal that he hoped the Queen might 
find something better for him is so evidently a subter- 
fuge as to make the real hostility all the more evident. 


Raigh and Nor is it the only instance in which we find Burleigh 
trying to give a gloss of friendliness to his attempts 
to injure his son-in-law. Some years later, when 
Oxford was in trouble with the authorities, we find 
Burleigh appealing to Raleigh and Hatton to use their 
influence with Queen Elizabeth on Oxford's behalf. 
This reads at first like a friendly act. When, however, 
we remember that Raleigh was possibly the one man 
about court whom his royal mistress most delighted 
in teasing ; whose real influence with the Queen was 
practically negligible ; and between whom and Oxford 
there was a long-standing antagonism ; if to all this 
we add the fact that Burleigh, in making the appeal 
to Hatton, uses the occasion to gather together all the 
charges he can formulate against the very man for 
whom he is supposed to be interceding, and pours 
them into unfriendly ears for Hatton also was of 
the hostile party and wrote a letter of complaint to 
Queen Elizabeth speaking of himself as the " sheep " 
and Oxford as the " boar " we can only wonder at the 
clumsiness of a manoeuvre, hardly entitled to rank 
even as low cunning. 

As we have had occasion thus to mention the un- 
friendly relationship of Oxford to Raleigh we may see 
a reflection of it in Shakespeare's allusion to " the 
sanctimonious pirate that went to sea with the Ten 
Commandments, but scraped one out of the table, 
' Thou shalt not steal.' ' (" Measure for Measure.") 
For it is not easy to reconcile the religious pietism of 
Raleigh's poetry with certain of his well-known sea- 
faring episodes. The moral standards of the time are 
sometimes urged in extenuation of Raleigh's doings ; 
but Burleigh himself, to his credit, disapproved of the 
great sailor's buccaneering, although on the other 


hand he saw that the Queen secured some share of the 

We cannot yet piece together with a sense of true Desire for 
sequence the recorded details of the early life of travel - 
Oxford. It is evident, however, that such efforts to 
obtain a relief from court life in a life of wider ex- 
perience and greater usefulness as he had made before 
his marriage, were repeated after his marriage, and 
still without success : presenting a shameful contrast 
to the treatment extended to his rival Sidney. Oxford 
was one of the foremost and wealthiest of the nobility ; 
Sidney at the time was simply Master Philip Sidney : 
for he only rose to the inferior honour of knighthood 
three years before his death. He was considered too 
poor to marry a daughter of Burleigh's, and he was 
more than four and a half years younger than Oxford. 
Yet, at the age of seventeen, Sidney began his travels 
on the Continent, visiting Paris, Frankfort, Vienna 
Hungary and Venice, and having every facility 
afforded him for meeting prominent men. On the other 
hand, Oxford with his superior social position, wealth, 
culture and genius, at the age of twenty-four was still 
to be kept at home in the leading strings of an un- 
congenial father-in-law. It is difficult, even for those 
who are in no way involved, and after a lapse of nearly 
three hundred and fifty years, to contemplate such 
treatment without a feeling of indignation. Certainly 
the man who was responsible for it was no friend to 
the Earl of Oxford. 

At length, finding his entreaties useless, he resolved Bertram's 

,,,, , . " i_j j unauthorized 

to take the law into his own hands, and, in 1574, travel, 
without the consent of the authorities, left the country 
in order to fulfil his purpose of travelling on the 
continent. He had got no further than the Low 


Countries when he was overtaken by Burleigh's 
emissaries and brought back. Again we find the 
extraordinary parallel between the Earl of Oxford and 
Bertram, in " All's Well," maintained. Bertram had 
begged in vain to be allowed to undertake military 
service just as Oxford had done. He had begged to 
travel only to be put off with specious excuses, " ' too 
young ' and ' the next year ' and ' 'tis too early,' ' 
until, yielding to the suggestion of some friend (Act II, 
i) he exclaims, in a passage already quoted : 

" I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock, 
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, 
Till honour be bought up and no sword worn 
But one to dance with. By heavens ! I'll steal away." 

This he did forthwith. 

We venture to say that it would be difficult to 
find in English literature a closer analogy anywhere 
between the particulars narrated of a fictitious per- 
sonage and the detailed records of a living contemporary 
than we have here between Bertram and the Earl of 
Oxford. Shakespeare's partiality for the Earls of 
Oxford has already been pointed out (" Henry VI," 
part 3). His interest in the particular Earl who was 
then living, and who was a poet and dramatist, is the 
most natural assumption. Whether, therefore, the 
Earl of Oxford-was the writer of the play, " All's Well," 
or not, one cannot doubt, in the face of such a continued 
parallelism, that the man who wrote the play had the 
Earl of Oxford in his mind as the prototype of Bertram. 
Amongst the records of royal wards of the time we 
can find no other instance which touches Bertram at 
so many points. Reiterating a principle, therefore, 
upon which we have insisted from the first, we would 
urge that to discover such a parallelism in Shake- 


speare's works at an advanced stage of the investigation 
strengthens our convictions immeasurably more than 
if the case of Bertram and its analogy with Oxford had 
been known before the selection was made. 

The special point with which we are now dealing Shakespeare 
the obstacles thrown in the way of a young man's " 
wish to travel appears again in " Hamlet." Laertes 
applies for the king's permission to go abroad, and the 
king asks, " Have you your father's leave ? What 
says Polonius ? " To which Polonius replies : 

" He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave 
By laboursome petition, and at last 
Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent : 
I do beesech you, give him leave to go." 

Then there is the king and queen's opposition to 
Hamlet's wish to go to Wittenberg, and the false 
reasons assigned : 

King : 

" It is most retrograde to our desire ; 

And we beseech you, bend you to remain 
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye, 
Our chief est courtier, cousin, and our son." 

Again we notice that it is Polonius who is chiefly 
opposed to his son's travelling, exactly as Burleigh 
raised his own opposition into a settled maxim of 
policy : 

' ' Suffer not thy sons to cross the Alps .... and 
if by travel they get a few broken languages they shall 
profit them nothing more than to have one meat served up 
in divers dishes." 

(Burleigh 's maxims Martin A. S. Hume.) 

^Resuming the story of De Vere's early manhood, we 
find that in the year following his abortive attempt 



Visit to 

and travel. 
" Two 

to travel he was at last granted permission to go abroad. 
How important a matter this was to him may be 
judged by the fact that it is spoken of as " the ambition 
of his life " ; yet by this time he was twenty-five and 
a half years old, and inferior men had enjoyed the 
privilege whilst in their teens. Even at this age he 
had only been able to wring the concession from 
Elizabeth by means of entreaties ; and, considering 
the favour and indulgence that the Queen showed to 
him both before and after this, it appears as if the 
concession had at last been gained in spite of the 
covert opposition of his father-in-law. In view of 
all this the speech of Polonius's just quoted is of 
extraordinary significance. In October 1575, then, he 
reached Venice, having travelled by way of Milan. 

Our present business being to trace in the works of 
Shakespeare indications of the life and circumstances 
of the Earl of Oxford we ought not to leave this 
question of foreign travel without drawing attention 
to the play of Shakespeare's in which this subject 
comes in for special treatment, namely, " The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona." The date usually assigned to 
this work is 1590-92 ; that is to say it is recognized as 
being amongst the first of Shakespeare's dramas, 
although it was not published until it appeared in the 
Folio edition of 1623. Now we find that a play whose 
title is suggestive of this one was being acted by the 
company of Antony Munday, who more than ten 
years before the date assigned to this drama, acknow- 
ledged himself the servant of the Earl of Oxford. As 
Munday's play, " The Two Italian Gentlemen," may 
have formed the basis for Shakespeare's work, it is 
not improbable that the latter was, in fact, the first 
play of Shakespeare's and may, if we assume the 


De Vere authorship, have been begun shortly after 
his return from Italy. It is worth remarking, too, 
that in it the scene moves from Verona to Milan, 
a town specially mentioned in the slight record of 
Oxford's travels. We have had occasion, moreover, 
to point out already a very striking parallel between 
the early work of De Vere and the discussion on love 
with which this particular play opens. 

On the subject of travel we have first of all Valentine's 
statement that " Home-keeping youth have ever 
homely wits," followed by his urging Proteus, 


To see the wonders of the world abroad, 
Than, living dully sluggardised at home, 
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness." 

This is followed in Act III by Panthino's taxing the 
father of Proteus with having suffered him, 

' ' to spend his youth at home, 
While other men of slender reputation 
Put forth their sons to seek preferment out." 

He therefore proceeds to " importune " him, 

" To let him spend his time no more at home, 
Which would be great impeachment to his age, 
In having known no travel in his youth." 

To this the father of Proteus replies : 

" I have considered well his loss of time, 
And how he cannot be a perfect man, 
Not being tried and tutor 'd in the world." 

On the one hand we cannot ascribe these lines to 
a man indifferent to foreign travel, and on the other 
hand it is difficult to think of them as being written 
by one who had found the way to foreign travel readily 
open t him; Everything points to the writer being 


one who had chafed at " living dully, sluggardised at 
home," and who had had to fight to get himself " tried 
and tutor'd in the world " ; whilst " men of slender 
reputation " had been freely accorded the advantages 

which had been denied to himself. 
Occupations. Before leaving the play of The Two Gentlemen of 

Verona," we notice that the passage just quoted is 
followed by another which touches a point already 
mentioned elsewhere : 

" 'Twere good, I think, your lordship sent him thither : 

(to the royal court) 

There shall he practise tilts and tournaments, 
Hear sweet discourse, converse with noblemen, 
And be in eye of every exercise 
Worthy his youth and nobleness of birth." 

Associate this with Edward de Vere and again we 
have a case in which comment is superfluous. To 
think of the passage coming from a writer of lower or 
middle class origin demands considerable credulity. 
Every word bespeaks the special interests of De Vere, 
and pulsates with that excessive respect for high birth 
which is common to De Vere and " Shakespeare." 
Oxford -pj^ recor( j s gj ve no indication as to how his time 
was spent in Italy. This could only be learnt accurately 
from himself, and as a large reserve and secretiveness 
in respect to his doings seem to have been characteristic 
of him throughout, we can only surmise what his 
occupation would be during the six months of his 
stay. Considering, however, the literary and dramatic 
movement in Italy at the time, his own particular bent, 
and the course his life took after his return to England, 
there can be little doubt as to his chief interest whilst 
in that country. He would be much more likely to be 
found cultivating the acquaintance of those literary 


and play-acting people of whom his father-in-law 
would disapprove, than mixing in the political and 
diplomatic circles that the great minister would consider 
proper to an eminent English nobleman. 

As an illustration of a principle and method upon Baptista 
which much stress has been laid throughout these 
researches we would draw attention to a detail in 
connection with Oxford's Italian tour which, though 
slight in itself, adds much to that sense of verisimilitude 
that has followed the investigations at each step. 
Whilst looking up references to Oxford in the published 
Hatfield manuscripts we noticed the record of a letter 
he had addressed to Burleigh from Italy. It is but 
a brief note concerned solely with the fact that he had 
borrowed five hundred crowns from some one named 
Baptista Nigrone, and requesting Burleigh to raise 
the money by the sale of some of his lands a method 
of raising money which appears more than once in 
the pages of " Shakespeare." 

As some discussion has taken place over Shakespeare's 
use of the name " Baptista," its presence in this note of 
Oxford's naturally arrested attention, and the thought 
inmediately presented itself that if Oxford were 
actually the writer of the play in which Baptista, the 
rich gentleman of Padua, appears (" The Taming of 
the Shrew ") we should expect to find " crowns " 
introduced into the drama in some marked way, and 
probably in association with Baptista Minola himself. 
And this is so. As a matter of fact these particular 
coins are much more to the front here than in any 
other of Shakespeare's Italian plays. They are 
mentioned no less than six times whilst " ducats " are 
only twice mentioned. On the other hand, in " The 
Comedy of Errors," for example, " ducats " are 


mentioned ten times and " crowns " not at all. " The 
Merchant of Venice," which also contains no mention 
of " crowns " but abundant references to " ducats "is, 
for special reasons, unsuitable for purposes of com- 
parison. What is more to the point than the actual 
number of references in " The Taming of the Shrew," 
is the fact that the crowns of the wealthy Baptista are 
specially in evidence, and enter as an important 
element into the plot. Oxford, it appears from a 
letter sent home by an attendant, spent some time 
in Padua itself, and seems to have been involved in 
riotous proceedings there : not at all unlikely in the 
creator of the character " Petruchio." 

It may be worth while adding that we even find a 
suggestion of Baptist a's surname, " Minola," in another 
Italian, Benedict Spinola, whose name also appears 
in connection with this tour. Burleigh, it seems, 
received from him a notification of Oxford's arrival 
in Italy. Benedick in " Much Ado " is a nobleman, 
also of Padua, and these are the only two gentlemen of 
Padua to be found in Shakespeare's plays. It must 
further be pointed out that the names " Baptista 
Nig rone " and " Benedict Spinola " are not selected 
from amongst a number of others, but are two out of 
the three Italian names with which we have met in 
connection with the Italian tour ; and to find that, in 
combination, they almost furnish the identical name 
of Shakespeare's " Baptista Minola," will be admitted 
by the most sceptical as at any rate interesting. 
Certainly such discoveries as that of the place occupied 
by Baptista's " crowns," agreeing with the conclusions 
of mere a priori reasoning, have added, as can be 
easily imagined, no small spice of excitement to our 


After spending about six months in Italy Oxford Oxford and 
travelled back as far as Paris, and from a letter which 
he wrote there, addressed to Burleigh, it appears that 
he purposed making an extended tour embracing 
Spain on the one hand, and south-eastern Europe, 
Greece and Constantinople, on the other. At this point 
we approach a great crisis in his life which, when his 
biography comes to be written, will require much 
patient research, and the most careful weighing of 
facts, before a straight story can be made of it or the 
events placed in a clear light. From the documents 
preserved in the Hatfield manuscripts, however, 
certain facts specially relevant to our argument already 
stand out boldly and distinctly. The first is that he 
expresses a warm regard for his wife. The second is 
that a responsible servant of his, his receiver, had 
succeeded in insinuating into his mind suspicions of 
some kind respecting Lady Oxford. The third is that 
her father, for some reason or other, recalled Oxford 
to England, thus upsetting his project of extended 
travel. The fourth is that on his return he treated his 
wife in a way quite inexplicable to her, refusing to see 
her ; whilst she, for her part, showed an earnest 
desire to appease him. The fifth is that reports un- 
favourable to Lady Oxford's reputation gained cur- 
rency. And the sixth is that there seems to have been 
no shadow of justification for these reports. 

It hardly needs pointing out that we have here 
a great many of the outstanding external conditions 
of Shakespeare's celebrated tragedy of jealousy in 
connubial life : " Othello." Brabantio, the father-in- 
law of Othello was, like Oxford's father-in-law, the 
chief minister of state and a great potentate, having 
" in his effect a voice potential as double as the duke's." 



Othello himself, like Oxford, was one who took his 
stand firmly and somewhat ostentatiously upon the 
. rights and privileges of high birth : 

" I fetch my life and being 
From men of royal siege, and my demerits 
May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune 
As this that I have reached." 

Desdemona is represented as one who, in the words 
of her father, " was half the wooer," just as Anne 
Cecil is represented in the contemporary letter already 
quoted ; whilst a similar youthfulness combined with a 
premature development along certain lines is expressed 
in the lines : 

" She that so young could give out such a seeming, 
To seal her father's eyes." 

lago, the arch-insinuator of suspicion, is Othello's 
own " ancient," and occupies a position analogous to 
Oxford's " receiver," who had dropped the poison of 
suspicion into his master's mind. lago's reiterated 
advice, " Put money in thy purse," is redolent of the 
special functions of Oxford's receiver : a suggestion 
repeated in lago's well-known speech " Who steals 
my purse steals trash." So the four central figures in 
this connubial tragedy of real life, Burleigh, Oxford, 
Lady Oxford, and Oxford's receiver, are exactly 
represented in Shakespeare's great domestic tragedy by 
Brabantio, Othello, Desdemona, and lago. 

Othello's To this correspondence in personnel must be added 

an even more remarkable correspondence in the two- 
fold character of the cause of rupture. Before alighting 
upon this letter of Oxford's and the memoranda of 
Burleigh's dealing with the crisis, we had supposed that 


the whole ground of the trouble between him and his 
wife was his being recalled to England by her father ; 
she having been a party to the recall. The perception 
that there was yet another cause, suggestive of Othello's 
principal motive, altered the entire aspect of things ; 
and this, along with the presence in both cases of the 
subordinate motive the recall by the lady's father- 
brought the two cases immediately into line with one 
another ; the whole complex situation finding its 
expression in Desdemona's pathetic and puzzled 
appeal to Othello : 

' ' Why do you weep ? 

Am I the motives of these tears, my lord ? 
If haply you my father do suspect, 
An instrument of this your calling back, 
Lay not the blame on me." 

It is worth while remarking that Othello was called 
back from Cyprus : the very part of the world which 
Oxford was prevented from visiting by his recall ; and 
that he was called back to Venice, the city which 
Oxford had just left. 

In the light of what we now know of the trouble A str iki n g 
between Lord and Lady Oxford, let the reader go parallel, 
carefully over the first two scenes of Act IV in 
" Othello," noticing the intermingling of the two 
elements of mistrust insinuated by a subordinate, and 
the " commanding home " of Othello. A sense of 
identity with due allowance for the difference between 
actualities and the poet's dramatization will, we 
believe, be irresistible. We shall, therefore, finish off 
this particular argument by placing together a sentence 
taken from a letter written by Oxford to Burleigh in 
which he virtually closes the discussion of the subject 
and a sentence which " Shakespeare " introduces by 


the mouth of a subordinate character into the closing 
part of this particular episode : 

Oxford : 

"Neither will he (Oxford) trouble his life any more 
with such troubles and molestations as he has endured, 
nor to please his lordship (Burleigh) discontent himself." 

" Shakespeare " (in " Othello ") : 

" I will indeed no longer endure it, nor am I yet per- 
suaded to put up in peace what already I have foolishly 

Parallel passages in published writings may only be 
instances of plagiarism or unconscious memory. In 
this case, however, the passage published reproduces 
a sentence of a private letter not made public until 
centuries had elapsed. This is all that seems necessary 
from the point of view of this particular argument ; 
and so conclusive does it appear that we are almost 
inclined to question the utility of accumulating further 
evidence. The letter from which we have quoted, we 
remark, contains also a familiar Shakespearean innuendo 
respecting parentage. It also expresses a continued 
regard for his wife ; resenting Burleigh's so handling 
the matter as to have made her " the fable of the 
world and raising open suspicions to her disgrace." 

What Burleigh's ubiquitous informers may have 
Domestic reported leading to Oxford's recall does not appear 
to be known. Certain it is that even from Italy 
Burleigh's agents had been forwarding reports the 
truth of which was denied by an Italian attendant on 
Oxford. At any rate Oxford himself on his return 
refused, in a most decided manner, to meet his wife. 
" Until he can better satisfy himself concerning certain 
mislikings," he says, " he is not determined to accom- 


pany her." Whether he suspected her of being a 
party to espio'nage practised upon him or to attempts 
at domination over him, or whether there were indeed 
other hidden matters of a graver nature we cannot say. 
It may not be without significance, however, that 
later on we find one of those spying agents of Burleigh's, 
Geoffrey Pent on, a continental traveller and a linguist, 
dedicating to Lady Oxford a translation he had made. 

The cryptic explanation of his conduct which we 
have just quoted seems to have been the only one 
which Oxford would vouchsafe to Burleigh at any 
rate. Burleigh complains of Oxford's taciturnity in 
the matter: that he would only reply, " / have an- 
swered you " which is strikingly suggestive of Shylock's 
laconic expression "Are you answered ? One account 
suggests that the attitude he assumed on his arrival 
was a sudden and erratic change. If this be correct it 
is certainly suggestive of that lightning-like change 
one notices in Hamlet's bearing towards Ophelia, when 
he detects that she is allowing herself to be made the 
tool of her father in spying upon Hamlet himself 
(Act III, scene i). 

As usual the matter is reported as reflecting discredit 
upon Oxford. It was an instance merely of bad 
behaviour towards his wife. One writer, however, 
states that Oxford had at least offered the explanation 
that his wife was allowing herself to be influenced by 
her parents against himself. And this is a reasonable 
explanation of the only charge that Oxford makes 
against her, at a time when he makes other charges 
against Burleigh's administration of his affairs. Lady 
Oxford's father had undoubtedly treated her husband 
badly, and if she did not hotly resent and repudiate 
her father's actions she must be reckoned as being 


on his side. It was one of those simple cases in which 
there was no midway course possible, and in which it 
was impossible for her husband to mistake the side 
on which she stood. 

Oxford's Oxford had at any rate come home with his mind 

y ' fully made up to have done once and for all with 
Burleigh's domination. That he had borne with it at 
all seems to suggest that there had been about his 
personality something of that mildness of manner 
which dominating men are apt to mistake for weakness, 
a supposition to which the only portrait we have seen 
of him, taken at the age of twenty-five, seems to lend 
support . Certainly his poetry testifies to an affectionate- 
ness that might easily be so misconstructed. When 
such men are at last driven to strike, their blows have 
frequently a fierceness that comes as a surprise and a 
shock to their adversaries : and Oxford's poetry does 
indeed display a capacity for fierce outbursts. We 
suspect that something of this kind happened in the 
present instance. Burleigh had adopted a policy in 
relation to Oxford that the latter was not prepared 
to tolerate any longer. Anne, during the five years of 
married life, had passed from girlhood into womanhood. 
Her father had created a situation in which she must 
choose definitely between father and husband. The 
unravelling of the facts and their proper interpretation 
must, however, form matter for future investigations. 
Most writers agree that much of Oxford's sub- 
sequent conduct was dictated by a determination 
to revenge himself on Burleigh for some reason or 
other ; and that his plans of revenge included the 
squandering of his own estates, and separation from 
his wife. Castle Hedingham in Essex which Oxford 
had made over to Burleigh, we are told in local histories, 


was almost razed completely, by Oxford's orders, as 
part of his plan of revenge. How he could have razed 
a castle which was no longer his own we do not pretend 
to explain : we merely repeat in this matter what is 
recorded. The following two stanzas from one of his 
early poems are, however, of special interest in this 
connection : 

" I am no sot to suffer such abuse, 

As doth bereave my heart of his delight ; 
Nor will I frame myself to such as use, 

With calm consent to suffer such despite. 
No quiet sleep shall once possess mine eye, 
Till wit have wrought his will on injury. 

My heart shall fail and hand shall lose his force, 
But some device shall pay Despite his due ; 

And fury shall consume my careful corse, 
Or raze the ground whereon my sorrow grew. 

Lo, thus in rage of ruthful mind refus'd, 

I rest revenged on whom I am abus'd." 

The old records suggest a political motive the 
imprisonment and execution of his kinsman the Duke 
of Norfolk for Oxford's scheme of revenge. If, 
however, we may connect it with these verses, as we 
reasonably may, it is evident that the motive was much 
more directly personal to himself. If, moreover, we 
connect it with these political matters the time is 
carried back to the year 1572 : the year immediately 
following his marriage. The disentangling of events 
and dates in these matters we do not feel to be suffi- 
ciently pressing to demand the arrest of our present 

Without waiting, therefore, for these obscurities to be 
cleared up, we may introduce now what has been the 
most remarkable piece of evidence met with in the 



A sensa- 

The Climax 
to " All's 

whole course of our investigations : a discovery made 
a considerable time after this work had been virtually 
completed and indeed after it had already passed into 
other hands. This evidence is concerned with the 
play, " All's Well " ; the striking parallelism between 
the principal personage in the drama and the Earl of 
Oxford having led us to adopt it as the chief support 
of our argument at the particular stage with which 
we are now occupied. This argument was carried 
forward to its present stage at the time when our 
discovery was announced to the librarian of the 
British Museum. What we have now to state was not 
discovered until some months later. 

In tracing the parallelism between Bertram and 
Oxford we confined our attention to the incidentals of 
the play, in the belief that the central idea of the 
plot the entrapping of Bertram into marital relation- 
ships with his own wife, in order that she might bear 
him a child unknown to himself was wholly derived 
from Boccaccio's story of Bertram. The discovery, 
therefore, of the following passage in Wright's " History 
of Essex " furnishes a piece of evidence so totally un- 
expected, and forms so sensational a climax to an 
already surprising resemblance that, on first noticing 
it, we had some difficulty in trusting our own eyes. 
We would willingly be spared the penning of 
such matter : its importance as evidence does not, 
however, permit of this. Speaking of the rupture 
between the Earl of Oxford and his wife, Wright tells 
us that, " He (Oxford) forsook his lady's bed, (but) 
the father of Lady Anne by stratagem, contrived that 
her husband should unknowingly sleep with her, 
believing her to be another woman, and she bore a 
son to him in consequence of this meeting " (Wright's 


" History of Essex," vol. I, p. 517). The only son of 
the Lady Anne, we may mention, died in infancy. 

Thus even in the most extraordinary feature of this 
play ; a feature which hardly one person in a million 
would for a moment have suspected of being anything 
else but an extravagant invention, the records of Oxford 
are at one with the representation of Bertram. It is 
not necessary that we should believe the story to be 
true, for no authority for it is vouchsafed. A memoran- 
dum in the Hatfield manuscripts to the effect that 
Burleigh laid before the Master of the Rolls and others 
some private matter respecting this domestic rupture 
may, however, have had reference to this. The point 
which matters is that this extraordinary story should 
be circulated in reference to the Earl of Oxford ; making 
it quite clear that either Oxford was the actual 
prototype of Bertram, in which case false as well as 
true stoiies of the Earl might be worked into the play, 
or he was supposed to be the prototype and was saddled 
with the story in consequence. In any case, the 
connection between the two is now as complete as 
accumulated evidence can make it. We hesitate to 
make reflections upon prospective dissentients; but 
we feel entitled to assert that the man who does not 
now acknowledge a connection of some sort, between 
Edward de Vere and Bertram in "All's Well," has not 
the proper faculty for weighing evidence. 

Having thus raised the peculiar situation, represented 
in the play, in relation to our problem, we notice 
something analogous repeated in the relationship Angeloand 
between Angelo and Mariana in " Measure for Measure " Manana - 
along with the fact that Angelo specifies a period of 
" five years " between the making of the marriage 
arrangement and the special episode (V, i) : the exact 


period between the date of Oxford's marriage and the 
particular time with which we are now dealing (1571- 
1576). Angelo also remarks : 

" I do perceive 

These poor informal women are no more 
But instruments of some more mightier member 
That sets them on. Let me have way, my lord, 
To find this practice out." 

With such possibilities of discovery lying in the play 
of " All's Well," it is not surprising that after having 
first of all appeared under the title of " Love's Labour's 
Won," it should have disappeared for a full generation, 
and then, when the Earl of Oxford had been dead for 
nearly twenty years, reappeared under a new name. 
" Measure for Measure " is also one of the plays not 
published until 1623, although it had been played in 

Burleigh The one thing that stands out clearly from all these 

reputation 18 events * s an unmistakable antagonism between 
Oxford and Burleigh, over which Burleigh especially 
tries to throw a cloak of benevolence. His next move 
is somewhat astute : he seems to have given it out 
that the Earl had been enticed away " by lewd persons." 
There is no suggestion, however, that Anne had left 
Oxford, or that Burleigh had sought to separate them 
because of dissoluteness on the Earl's part. The 
facts all point unquestionably in the opposite direction : 
for it was he who exerted all his influence to bring 
about a rapprochement when the mischief had been 
done. There was, therefore, no question of protecting 
a daughter against a profligate husband ; and if his 
charges against Oxford were well founded it is upon 
the character of Burleigh himself that they react 
most disastrously. For it is hardly possible to conceive 


a more despicable character than that of a father 
exerting himself to throw back his daughter into the 
arms of her dissolute husband when she had been 
delivered from him by his own voluntary act. The 
probability is that Burleigh himself did not believe 
his own accusations, and that they were a mere ruse 
de guerre on the part of an unscrupulous and crafty 
fighter. Had he believed his own story he ought rather 
to have rejoiced at the turn things had taken. 

The real root of much of the trouble, it is easy to 
see, was the control that Burleigh attempted to exercise 
over Oxford's movements ; the purely negative and 
restrictive control of a man whose exercise of power, 
even in the greatest affairs of state, was always governed 
by considerations of himself, his family, his own policy 
and his instruments. To a man of Oxford's spirit the 
position must have been irksome in the extreme ; and 
when we find the fact of his being held in leading 
strings pointedly alluded to in a poem of Edmund 
Spenser's, it must have been specially galling. If, then, 
Oxford succeeded in making himself a thorn in the 
flesh of his dominating relative, we shall probably 
agree that the astute minister had at last met his 
match and got hardly more than he deserved. Lady 
Oxford's fault was probably no worse than that of 
having weakly succumbed to a masterful father, or 
rather two masterful parents. Ophelia's weakness, 
then, in permitting herself to be made her father's 
tool in intruding upon Hamlet, certainly suggests her 
as a possible dramatic analogue to the unfortunate 
Lady Oxford. 

One is always upon uncertain ground in attempting 
to lay bare the facts which have lain behind the 
effusions of poets. A note recurs in more than one 


Oxford's poem of De Vere's which seems to point to this trouble 
I0n8t between himself and his wife. From the dates given 
we judge them to belong to this particular time of 
crisis in his life ; and if the reference is actually to the 
breach between them, it would seem that, notwith- 
standing the course he had been obliged to take, there 
had been awakened in him an intense affection for his 
wife. This is certainly the peculiar situation repre- 
sented in the poems : affection of the poet for one 
who had formerly sought him but who had become 
in some way at variance with him. We give two 
stanzas from separate poems on this theme : 

" O cruel hap and hard estate 

That forceth me to love my foe ; 
Accursed be so foul a fate, 

My choice for to prefix it so. 
So long to fight with secret sore, 
And find no secret salve therefor." 

" Betray thy grief thy woeful heart with speed ; 

Resign thy voice to her that caused thee woe ; 
With irksome cries bewail thy late done deed, 

For she thou lov'st is sure thy mortal foe. 
And help for thee there is none sure, 
But still in pain thou must endure." 

(As we shall have to refer to this stanza in dealing 
with the question of " Spenser's Willie " we ask 
the reader to keep it in mind.) 

These two poems, both published when Oxford was 
but twenty-six years old, are certainly suggestive of 
Bertram's reference to Helena as one " whom since I 
have lost have loved." In the play of "All's Well," 
everything works out to a satisfactory conclusion. In 
real life things do not always so work out, and though 
Oxford and his wife were ultimately, in some sort, 


reconciled, we are assured that henceforth the relation- 
ship between them was not altogether cordial. 

Whatever view may be taken of Burleigh's character, Kicking over 
and of the antagonism between him and Oxford, every the traces - 
record testifies unmistakably to the former's wish to 
exercise an unwarrantable ascendancy over the move- 
ments of the latter. Had Oxford been an adventurer 
and a needy supplicant for court favour like Raleigh, 
or one desirous of political and diplomatic advancement 
like Sidney, Burleigh's methods for holding him in 
subjection might have succeeded permanently. At 
this time, however, there was nothing in the shape of 
wealth or social eminence, which others sought that 
was not already his ; and ambitions after military 
or naval glory, such as could only be realized through 
the co-operation of those in power, he seems definitely 
to have abandoned after his return from Italy. Hence- 
forward his powers and interests seem to have been 
concentrated in literature and drama. Many of the 
poems from which we have quoted seem to have been 
published, and some of them evidently written, just 
about this time. His letter to Bedingfield, so completely 
free from any suggestion of personal unhappiness, was, 
in fact, written just at this time. In view of the whole 
of the circumstances, then, it seems quite safe to say 
that he returned from Italy, being then close on 
twenty-six years of age, with his mind finally deter- 
mined on a literary and dramatic career. In this he was 
in no way dependent upon the authorities, and viewing 
the attitude of his powerful relative as a sheer im- 
pertinence he was at liberty to set him at defiance. 

The path he had chosen was one, however, in which 
he might expect to meet with still greater hostility 
from Burleigh ; though now the hostility would be 


Oxford more or less baffled and impotent. His plans not being 

way."* confided to those with whom he was in direct personal 
contact, would involve a good deal of reserve on his 
side, permit a similar amount of misconstruction on 
theirs, and afford free scope for efforts at working the 
situation to his discredit. This, it appears, is just what 
did happen. 

The reference in Shakespeare's sonnets to a time of 
special crisis when "he took his way" has already 
been mentioned. Amongst the things which he kept 
" to his own use " " under truest bars " we may reckon 
the manuscripts at which he was working.* From a 
remark in one of Oxford's letters (Hatfield MSS.) it 
appears that he was accustomed to take with him, 
when going into the country, important papers secured 
in a small desk. His secret treasures would, no doubt, 
include also those Italian plays and other important 
documents which we now know were freely used by 
the great dramatist in the composition of his works. 
That De Vere would bring back such things from 
Italy it is impossible to doubt. The number and 
expensiveness of the articles he brought home from 
his Italian tour is dwelt upon at length, and in much 
detail, in the account from which many of our facts 
are taken. It is almost absurd to suppose that he 
brought back all these goods and omitted to bring 
with him just those things that touched his own 
keenest interest most directly. And it would be just 
such literary treasures that, as Shakespeare, he would 
guard : 

" That to his use they might unused stay 

From hands of falsehood in sure wards of trust." 

: Amongst complaints formulated against his father-in-law and 
wife. Oxford states that he had been refused possession of 
some of his own writings. (Hat. M.S.S.) 


The fulfilment of the purpose we suppose him to Burieigh's 

have set himself, involved his throwing himself into 3 ( 

those literary and dramatic circles whose character 
has been already described. This is what we suppose 
Burleigh to refer to in speaking of his being enticed 
away by " lewd persons." It is remarkable, however, 
that, although we have an abundance of such general 
accusations against him, we have not been able to 
discover, up to the present, a single authoritative case 
in which his name appears in a discreditable personal 
connection ; notwithstanding the fact that, through 
the records of those times, the evidence of such affairs 
in the lives of eminent people is only too frequent 
and unmistakable. 

Of all the artifices by which an older man may seek 
to maintain an ascendancy over a younger one, there 
is hardly any more contemptible than that of playing 
upon his regard for reputation and good name ; and 
Burleigh, in attempting to apply this method in 
bringing pressure to bear upon Oxford, was only 
employing one of his recognized stratagems. In this 
matter we are again able to present the testimony of 
no less a witness than the poet Edmund Spenser. 
The following passage taken from his poem, " Mother 
Hubbard's Tale," Dean Church assures us, is generally 
accepted as referring to Burleigh : 

' ' No practice sly 

No counterpoint of cunning policy, 
No reach, no breach, that might him profit bring 
But he the same did to his purpose wring. 

* * * 
He no account made of nobility. 

* * * 

All these through feigned crimes he thrust adown 
Or made them dwell in darkness of disgrace." 



Burleigh 's 
" cunning 


The last part of the quotation might almost be 
supposed to have direct reference to Burleigh's special 
treatment of the Earl of Oxford himself; whilst the 
character of trickster, which Spenser fixes upon 
Elizabeth's great minister, certainly meets us at more 
than one point in his dealings with his son-in-law. 
Indeed it appears almost as if it were a character in 
which he himself gloried, as the following story which 
we quote from Macaulay shows : 

" When he (Burleigh) was studying the law at 
Gray's Inn he lost all his furniture and books at the 
gaming table to one of his friends. He accordingly 
bored a hole in the wall which separated his chambers 
from those of his associate, and at midnight bellowed 
through the passage threats of damnation and calls 
to repentance in the ears of the victorious gambler, 
who lay sweating with fear all night, and refunded his 
winnings on his knees next day. ' Many other the 
like merry jests,' says his old biographer, ' I have 
heard him tell.' ' One who thus gloried almost 
childishly in his own low cunning was not the kind 
of man to stick at any " practice sly, or counterpoint 
of cunning policy," that he could " to his own purpose 
wring." Edward de Vere was certainly " made to 
dwell in darkness of disgrace " ; and no sane reading 
of Shakespeare's sonnets can avoid the conclusion that 
" Shakespeare " was one who suffered in the same 
way, whilst no trace of contemporary disrepute has 
been pointed out respecting the Stratford Shakspere. 

Even if Burleigh had good reasons for believing that 
what he was urging against Oxford was true, it seems 
clear that the opportunist minister who " winketh at 
these love affairs " was merely striking at his son-in- 
law's reputation as part of his usual cunning. That the 


attack upon De Vere's good name had not only suc- 
ceeded in injuring him, but had cut him to the quick, 
is evident from the poem on the loss of his good name. 
That the plan did not succeed either in bringing him 
into subjection or in diverting him from his purpose is 
equally clear. Indeed, it looks as if, though at great 
cost to himself, Oxford had in a measure got the 
whip hand over Burleigh : possibly the only man who 
was ever able to do this. From this time forward his 
leading interests were literary and dramatic. He 
became " the best of the courtier poets of the early 
days of Queen Elizabeth," and in drama " amongst 
the best in comedy " ; yet the only surviving poems 
known are a few fragments belonging mainly to his 
youth and early manhood, whilst of the fruits of the 
dramatic activity that filled the period of his life with 
which we are now to deal no single example is supposed 
to be extant- every line is supposed to have perished : 
" lost or worn out." 



BEFORE entering upon a consideration of those dramatic 
enterprises which occupied an important part of the 
middle period of Oxford's life, which we place, in a 
general way, between 1576 and 1590, that is to say from 
the age of twenty-six to forty, we shall dispose first of 
all of some personal matters, which we are able to 
link on to the Italian tour and which furnish corrobora- 
tive evidence of his identity with Shakespeare. His 
stay in Italy, it has already been pointed out, had so 
marked an influence over him as to affect his dress 
and manners and cause him to be lampooned as an 
" Italionated Englishman " ; the same writer holding 
him up to ridicule as " a passing singular odd man." 
Gabriel $& The writer in question was none other than Gabriel 
Harvey, the friend of Edmund Spenser, who, it has 
been affirmed, almost succeeded in leading Spenser's 
genius astray. The Dictionary of National Biography 
gives us a very careful study of this curious and learned 
pedant ; and if we assume that the writer of Shake- 
speare's plays was acquainted with him personally, 
we can quite imagine from this account that the 
dramatist had him in mind in the writing of " Love's 
Labour's Lost." We have first of all Berowne's 



speech on studious plodders (I, i) which is simply 
portraiture of Harvey, even to the touch about 

"These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights." 

For Harvey was, amongst other things, a dabbler in 
astrology. Again in Act IV, 3, we have a return to 
the same antagonism to studious plodding in the 
remark that 

" Universal plodding poisons up 
The nimble spirit in the arteries." 

The whole spirit of the play is hostile to that merely 
bookish learnedness which is typified by scholars like 
Gabriel Harvey. A living specimen of the scholarly 
pedant is presented in the character of Holofernes, 
and so realistic is the representation that it has been 
very naturally supposed that Shakespeare had some 
contemporary in mind as the prototype of this eccentric 
pedant. Had the name and personality of Gabriel 
Harvey been previously associated in any way with 
Shakespeare, the problem of Holofernes' identification 
would not have remained unsolved for any length of 
time. William Shakspere of Stratford could hardly 
be expected to know much of Gabriel Harvey, and 
therefore the prototype of Holofernes has remained 
in doubt, notwithstanding the fact that the resemblance 
was recognized by Dean Church (" Life of Spenser," 
p. 18). There is, of course, no correspondence between 
Holofernes in the play and the scriptural, or rather 
apocryphal character of the same name, who was 
decapitated by Judith. The name is therefore selected 
evidently for some other reason. That reason becomes 
apparent the moment we put side by side with the 
name of Holofernes that of Hobbinol, the name under 
which Gabriel Harvey appears in Spenser's works. 


For Hobbinol, the name used by Spenser, is generally 
recognized as a rough anagram made from the name of 
Gabriel Harvey, whilst Holofernes is but another 
anagram composed of Spenser's Hobbinol further 
strengthened by the characteristic letter " r," taken 
from both Gabriel and Harvey and an " f," suggestive 
of the " v " in Harvey. The choice of an out-of-the-way 
name as an anagram instead of the invention of a 
new one is characteristic of the more subtle genius 
of Shakespeare. 

Harvey**" 1 **' ^ en > we are justified in connecting Holofernes 
with Gabriel Harvey it becomes impossible to avoid 
connecting the writer of the play with the Earl of 
Oxford. For this reason : Oxford, as Harvey admitted, 
had extended his customary munificence to this 
scholar when the latter was a poor student at the 
university ; and Harvey, on an important occasion, 
had addressed complimentary verses to his benefactor. 
Then behind Oxford's back he had circulated privately 
satirical verses, supposed to be ridiculing the man 
whom he had complimented publicly. Now, turning 
to " Love's Labour's Lost," we find, first of all, a 
speech of Holofernes' which bears some resem- 
blance to the verses in which he had ridiculed Oxford 
(the speech introduced by the latin phrase " Novi 
hominem," Act V, i). Then, in the by-play of the 
second scene in the same act and this is really the 
important point Holofernes is assigned the role of 
Judas Maccabaeus, and by a turn that is given to the 
dialogue he is made to appear as " Judas Iscariot," 
the " kissing traitor." On being twitted on the point 
he shows resentment as though there was in it an 
allusion to himself. The ingenious way in which a 
part played by an actor is turned into a personal 


attack upon himself is suggestive of a covert personal 
application ; and therefore, if it is not a direct con- 
firmation of our theory, it certainly constitutes another 
of the series of surprising coincidences which have 
appeared at every stage of our investigation. 

Under the old hypothesis of the authorship of Oxford and 
Shakespeare's works it has been frequently remarked 
that there is no character in the plays that can be 
identified with the author himself. If, however, we 
assume the De Vere authorship we may at once 
identify the author with the character of Berowne 
(Biron, in some editions). For it is he who mocks 
Holof ernes as the " kissing traitor." The play as a 
whole is a satire upon the various affectations of the 
times : Holofernes representing learned affectation, 
Don Armado representing Euphuism, Boyet repre- 
senting the affectations of courtesy. Now the satirist 
in the play is Berowne, so that he personates the spirit 
of the play as a whole, in other words he represents the 
writer, and is indeed the very life and soul of the 
drama, his biting mockery being something of a terror 
to his companions. 

It is interesting to notice, therefore, that Sir Sidney 
Lee connects Rosaline who is loved by Berowne with 
the " dark lady " referred to in the sonnets as being 
loved by Shakespeare ; and Mr. Frank Harris makes 
the same connection, thus identifying Berowne with 
the author of the play. The latter writer, though 
never swerving from the Stratfordian view, has done 
much to destroy the old notion that there is no character 
in the plays who can be identified with Shakespeare. 
He nevertheless asserts that Shakespeare usually 
represents himself as a lord or a king. If, then, we 
can accept Berowne as the dramatist's representation 






Sidney and 

of himself under one aspect, we see at once how much 
more accurately he represents the Earl of Oxford than 
he does the Stratford man. " This mad-cap Lord 
Berowne," " a man replete with mocks, full of 
comparisons and wounding flouts which he on all 
estates will execute," is just what we have in a few of 
the glimpses we get of Oxford's dealings with the people 
about the court. All that merciless mockery, wliich 
Berowne does not hesitate to turn upon himself, mixed 
with depth of feeling and strong intelligence, and his 
irrepressible fun tinged with " musing sadness," marks 
him both as a dramatic representation of the Earl of 
Oxford, and, in part at any rate, a dramatic self- 
revelation of " Shakespeare." 

We take this play to be largely representative of 
himself during the years in which, whilst still to be 
found at court, he was mainly occupied with literature 
and drama, and was earning for himself the title of " the 
best in comedy." Whether he succeeded at last, as 
Rosaline had urged Berowne "To weed this wormwood 
from his fruitful brain," we will not venture to say. 
Certain it is that amongst the courtiers of the time he 
appears to have had a reputation for stinging jibes, 
of which both Sidney and Raleigh seem to have come 
in for their share. 

The quarrel with Sidney, in which he stung his ad- 
versary with the single word " puppy," is one of the 
few details recorded of his life about the court in the 
early years of this period. The story of the quarrel 
is variously told, differing in so much as this, that one 
account speaks of Sidney playing tennis when Oxford 
intruded, whilst another records that Oxford was 
playing when Sidney strolled in. In whichever way 
the story is told it must needs be so as to reflect 



discredit upon Oxford and credit upon his antagonist. 
The chief contemporary authority for the details, 
however, appears to be Fulke Greville, and when it 
is remembered that Greville was the life-long friend 
of Sidney, and that when he died, as Lord Brooke, he 
left instructions that this friendship should be recorded 
upon his tombstone, we can hardly regard him as an 
impartial authority. 

One particular of this antagonism is, however, were I a 
relevant to our present enquiry and must be narrated. kmg> 
Oxford had written some lines (again the familiar six- 
lined stanza) which are spoken of by two writers as 
specially " melancholy." They may be so, but they 
are certainly not more melancholy than many passages 
in " Shakespeare's " sonnets, and are quite in harmony 
with that substratum of melancholy which has been 
traced in the Shakespeare plays. 

Oxford's stanza : 

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

Melancholy or not, the Shakespeare student will 
have no difficulty in recognizing in this single stanza 
several marks of the master craftsman. 

To this Sidney had replied in the following verse 
which the same two writers, curiously enough, refer 
to in identical terms, as being a sensible reply : 

" Wert thou a king, yet not command content, 
Since empire none thy mind could yet suffice, 
Wert thou obscure, still cares would thee torment ; 
But wert thou dead all care and sorrow dies. 
An easy choice of three things one to crave, 
No kingdom nor a cottage but a grave." 


These two stanzas form an important part of another 
argument, to be treated later, and, therefore, should 
be kept in mind. 
The tennis- it will be observed that the " sensible reply " contains 


quarrel. no really inventive composition. It is a mere school- 
boy parody, formed by twisting the words and phrases 
of the original stanza into an affront. Had it been an 
inventive composition it would have contained more 
matter than Sidney ever compressed into an equal 
space. Between two intimate friends it might have 
been tolerated as a harmless piece of banter. Between 
two antagonists it lacked even the justification of 
original wit. And if, as one writer suggests, this 
matter led up to the tennis-court quarrel, considering 
the whole of the circumstances, including age and 
personal relationships, Oxford's retort of " puppy " 
was possibly less outrageous, and certainly more 
original than Sidney's verse had been. Sidney's uncle, 
Leicester, upon whose inflenuce at court the young man 
(then twenty-four years old) largely depended, admits 
having to " bear a hand over him as a forward young 
man," so that one less interested in him might be 
expected to express the same idea more emphatically. 
The personal attack, it must be observed, had, in this 
instance at any rate, come first from Sidney. As in 
other cases one gets the impression of Oxford not 
being a man given to initiating quarrels, but capable 
of being roused, and when attacked, striking back with 
unmistakable vigour. 

The story of the tennis-court quarrel is one of the 
few particulars about Oxford that have become 
current . Indeed, one very interesting history of English 
literature mentions the incident, and ignores the 
fact that the earl was at all concerned with literature. 


Now, considering the prominence given to this story, 
it almost appears as if " Shakespeare," in " Hamlet," 
had intended to furnish a clue to his identity when 
he represents Polonius dragging in a reference to young 
men " falling out at tennis." 

If our identification of Oxford and Harvey with Sidney's 
Berowne and Holofernes be accepted, an interesting affectatlon - 
point for future investigation will be the identification 
of other contemporaries with other characters in the 
play ; and in view of Oxford's relationship with 
Sidney we shall probably be justified in regarding 
Boyet as a satirised representation of Philip Sidney ; 
not, of course, the Philip Sidney that tradition has 
preserved, but Sidney as Oxford saw him. For, com- 
pared with the genius of Shakespeare, no competent 
judge would hesitate to pronounce Sidney a medio- 
crity. If to this we add Dean Church's admission that 
" Sidney was not without his full share of that 
affectation which was then thought refinement," it 
is not difficult to connect him with Boyet, the ladies' 
man, whom Berowne satirizes in Act V, Scene 2 : 

"Why this is he 

That kiss'd away his hand in courtesy ; 
This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice, 
That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice 
In honourable terms ; nay, he can sing 
A mean most meanly ; and, in ushering, 
Mend him who can : the ladies call him sweet. 
The stairs as he treads on them kiss his feet. 
This is the flower that smiles on every one, 
To show his teeth as white as whale's bone ; 
And consciences that will not die in debt, 
Pay him the due of honey-tongued Boyet." 

The last two lines are somewhat puzzling apart from 
any special application. Applied to Sidney, however, 
they become very pointed from the fact that he died 




so deeply in debt as to delay his public funeral ; his 
creditors being unwilling to accept the arrangements 
proposed to them. The difficulties were only over- 
come by his father-in-law Walsingham, who had a 
special political interest in the public funeral, ad- 
vancing 6,000. 

When, moreover, we find Sidney presenting at a 
pastoral show at Wilton a dialogue, which is obvious 
plagiarism from Spenser and De Vere, we can under- 
stand Berowne saying of Boyet, in the lines immediately 
preceding those quoted : 

" This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons pease, 
And utters it again when God doth please." 

We give a sentence or two by way of illustration : 

Spenser (S hep tier d' s Calender August). 

Will : Be thy bagpipes run far out of frame ? 

Or lovest thou, or be thy younglings miswent ? 

Sidney (Dialogue between ttto shepherds). 

Will : What ? Is thy bagpipe broke or are thy lambs 
miswent ? 

De Vere (Dialogue on Desire) : 

What fruits have lovers for their pains ? 

Their ladies, if they true remain, 

A good reward for true desire. 

What was thy meat and daily food ? 

What hadst thou then to drink ? 

Unfeigned lover's tears. 

Sidney (Shepherd's Dialogue) : 

What wages mayest thou have ? 

Her heavenly looks which more and more 

Do give me cause to crave. 

What food is that she gives ? 

Tear's drink, sorrow's meat. 

Sidney's whole poem is, in fact, little more than 
the dishing-up of ideas and expressions from the two 


poems. If, in addition to this, the reader will turn 
back to the stanza of De Vere's beginning " I am not 
as I seem to be," noticing especially the reference in it 
to Hannibal, he will be able to detect more " pigeon's 
pease " in the following verse of Sidney's : 

" As for my mirth, how could I be but glad, 
Whilst that methought I justly made my boast 
That only I the only mistress had ? 
But now, if e'er my face with joy be clad 
Think Hannibal did laugh when Carthage lost." 

A certain degree of rivalry between artists, in any 
department of art, may be quite consistent with mutual 
respect. But when one happens to be "a forward 
young man " guilty of petty pilfering from his rival, 
one can understand the rival's point of view when he 
protests : 

" He is wit's pedlar, and retails his wares 

At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs, 
And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know 
Have not the grace to grace it with such show." 

(L. L. L. Act V, Scene 2.) 

The second line of this quotation is especially in- 
teresting in view of the occasion of Sidney's plagiarism 
mentioned above (The Wilton Show). In support of 
our contention that plagiarism was characteristic of 
Sidney, we are able to offer the testimony of Sir Sidney 
Lee, who remarks that " Petrarch, Ronsard and 
Desportes inspired the majority of Sidney's efforts, and 
his addresses to abstractions like sleep, the moon, his 
muse, grief or lust are almost verbatim translations 
from the French." Altogether, it is evident that Oxford 
was not without some justification for the use of the 
one word of his, " the comparison and wounding flout," 


which has passed into literary history. It would almost 
appear as though " Love's Labour's Lost " contained 
a direct allusion to the incident. For, after a passage 
of arms between Berowne and Boyet we have the 
following : 

Margaret : 

The last is Berowne, the merry mad-cap lord, 
Not a word with him but a jest. 

Boyet : 

And every jest but a word. 

Princess : 

It was well done of you to take him at his word. 

Sir Thomas Before leaving this question of " Boyet " we wish 
to offer an interesting observation upon the name itself. 
We have been unable to discover any other use of the 
word. If, however, we replace " Boy " by its old 
equivalent " Knave " we get the name of one who was 
possibly the most pronounced foe of Edward de Vere, 
namely Sir Thomas Knyvet ; the word is variously 
spelt, like most names in those days, but the etymo- 
logical connection is obvious. The feud between the 
two men and their retainers was of the same bitter 
and persistent character that we have represented in 
" Romeo and Juliet " between the Montagues and the 
Capulets. Fighting took place between them in the 
open streets and lives were lost. A duel was fought 
between Oxford and Sir Thomas Knyvet and 
both were wounded : Oxford seriously. It is possible, 
therefore, that, quite in keeping with dramatic and 
poetic work of the type of " Love's Labour's Lost," 
Boyet is a composite character formed from Oxford's 
outstanding antagonists, Sir Philip Sidney and Sir 
Thomas Knyvet. 


We have been trying to show that the plays of 
Shakespeare contain possible pen portraits of men 
with whom the Earl of Oxford had dealings, repre- 
senting them, not as tradition has preserved them, but 
as they stood in relation to Oxford himself. It is no 
necessary part of our argument that these identifications 
should be fully accepted. They bear rather on a branch 
of Shakespearean study that must receive a special 
development once our main thesis is adopted. Mean- 
while they assist in the work of giving to the plays 
those touches of personality which up to the present 
have been lacking, and which, in the mass, must go 
far to support or break down any attempt at identi- 
fying the author. 

It was during the period of Oxford's life with which Eccentricity, 
we are now dealing that he appears to have made for 
himself a reputation for eccentricity. Such eccentricity 
may have been partly natural. His reputation in this 
particular would, however, most certainly receive 
considerable addition from the mode of life he adopted 
as the necessary means of fulfilling his vocation. It is 
possible, too, that finding it served as a mask to have 
his way of living attributed to eccentricity, and that 
it protected him against annoyance and interference, 
he worked the matter systematically, as Hamlet did. 
The eccentricity and levity which he evidently showed 
in certain court cirlces, including doubtless the members 
of the Burleigh faction, was probably not only a 
disguise, but also an expression of contempt for those 
towards whom he adopted the manner. In those 
literary and dramatic relationships which mattered 
most to him his bearing was evidently of a different 
kind, for there he is spoken of as "a most noble and 
learned gentleman." It is possible, too, that he may 


not have succeeded altogether in throwing dust in 
the eyes of Burleigh ; for we find the latter admitting 
that " his lordship hath more capacity than a stranger 
to him might think." 
., This dual attitude towards others is more than once 

in Shake- 
speare." illustrated in the works of Shakespeare. The most 

prominent illustration is, of course, that of Hamlet. 
We find something, too, of this double personality in 
the character of the " mad-cap Lord Berowne " and 
we have it exactly described in the case of Brutus in 
" Lucrece " : 

" He with the Romans was esteemed so, 
As silly-jeering idiots are with kings, 
For sportive words and uttering foolish things. 
But now he throws that shallow habit by, 
Wherein deep policy did him disguise ; 
And arm'd his long hid wits advisedly." 

The same note appears again in his presentation of 
Prince Hal, or Henry V, whose 

" vanities 

Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus 
Covering discretion with a coat of folly " (II, 4) 

and who " obscured his contemplation under the veil 
of wildness." 

In the case of Edgar in " King Lear " we have the 
most pronounced development of the idea. Here we 
have the carrying out of a definite purpose by means 
of a simulation of complete madness ; a purpose 

" taught him to shift 

Into a madman's rags, to assume a semblance 
That very dogs disdained." 

The conception was evidently quite a dominant one 
in the mind of the dramatist, and that it was charac- 


teristic of himself, whoever he may have been, is made 
quite clear in the oft quoted passage in the Sonnets : 

" Alas 'tis true I have gone here and there 
And made myself a motley to the view, 
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear . ' ' 

There is nothing suggestive of enigma in these lines, 
and therefore, only their obvious meaning should be 
attached to them. " Shakespeare," as the great 
leader of true realism quite a different thing from 
the modern enormity which calls itself by that name 
is entitled to be read literally when he speaks directly 
and seriously of himself ; and therefore, when he tells 
us, in so many words, that he had acted the mounte- 
bank in some form, we may take it that he had actually 
done so. To think of him as a man who " brought to 
the practical affairs of life a wonderfully sane and 
sober judgment," meaning thereby that he was a 
practical steady-headed man of business with a keen 
eye for the " main chance," is to place his personality 
in direct contradiction to all that the sonnets reveal 
of him. Let any one read these sonnets so full of 
personal pain, then turn to " Love's Labour's Lost," 
much of which was evidently being penned at the 
very time when many of the sonnets were being written, 
and he will feel that he is in the presence of an extra- 
ordinary personality, capable of great extremes in 
thought and conduct, the very antithesis of the model 
citizen that " Shakespeare " is supposed to have been. 

How suggestive is all this of De Vere's lines : Duality in 

1. "I most in mirth most pensive sad." Oxford. 

2. " Thus contraries be used, I find, 

Of wise, to cloak the covert mind." 

3. " So I the pleasant grape have pulled from the vine, 

And yet I languish in great thirst while others 
drink the wine." 


Every word of these sentences reveals a man hiding 
the soreness of his own nature under a mask of levity 
whilst adding to the world's store of joy and merri- 

We feel justified in assuming, therefore, that the 
impression of himself which he set up in official circles 
was largely such as he intended to establish, and 
that not the least part of the satisfaction he derived 
from his success in the matter was in the thought of 
fooling Burleigh and others about the court. It 
hardly needs pointing out how true all this is of 
Hamlet, and how Hamlet's attitude towards Polonius, 
Rosencrantz, Guilderstern and the other courtiers 
might be taken as a developed and idealized representa- 
tion of Oxford's dealings with men like Burleigh, 
Raleigh, Greville and Hatton. 

" Shake- As a last remark upon this point we would draw 

J^" attention to the fact that in his work " The Man 

characters. Shakespeare " Mr. Frank Harris rejects entirely the 

idea that Shakespeare cannot be identified with any 

of his characters ; and, though approaching the 

question from a totally different standpoint and with 

other purposes, selects amongst the most outstanding 

examples of self-representation several of the cases 

we have just cited. From this work we quote the 

following passages : 

" In Hamlet Shakespeare has discovered too much of 
himself." He makes " Brutus an idealized portrait 
of himself." " Edgar is peculiarly Shakespeare's 
mouthpiece." " It can hardly be denied that 
Shakespeare identified himself as far as he could with 
Henry V." 

In every one of these cases, as has already been 
remarked, we have men hiding a superior nature 


under a veil of folly. There is probably an element 
of confusion between the two men named "Brutus," 
appearing with an inteival of five hundred years in 
" Lucrece " and " Julius Caesar " respectively. But 
Shakespeare's linking of Prince Hal with the Biutus 
who pretended to be insane and swore to avenge 
the death of Lucrece furnishes all the connection 

It is not our purpose to attempt to refute his reputed " Vulgar 
dissoluteness during those years of active association scandal - 
with dramatic companies. It has already been 
remarked, however, that, had his conduct been quite 
irreproachable in other respects, the absenting of 
himself from his normal social and domestic circles, 
which was partly a necessary condition of the enter- 
prise he had in hand, and the known character of those 
with whom he had to associate, so frankly stated in 
the passage we have quoted from Dean Church, would 
have afforded ample foundations on which antagonists 
might build for him such a reputation. When we 
consider further the special character of Burleigh, so 
aptly described in the passage we have quoted from 
Spenser's " Mother Hubbard's Tale," we may rest 
assured that the most would be made of these things to 
Oxford's discredit. Whatever his private character 
may have been, a reputation for dissoluteness was 
almost inevitable under the circumstances. It will 
be perfectly safe to say, therefore, that he was no 
worse, but probably very much better, than he has 
been portrayed. On the other hand, as the Shake- 
speare sonnets themselves clearly admit departures 
from recognized canons of rectitude, on the part of 
their writer, we are not concerned here to claim for 
De Vere a higher moral elevation than belongs to 



Shakespeare. At the same time, if we regard these 
sonnets as the product of Oxford's pen, we shall be 
able to clear his reputation of much of the slander 
that has hitherto been in undisputed possession. 

Dramatic QUJ- chief concern at this stage is with his dramatic 

activities . 

activities. How soon after his return from Italy these 
were begun we cannot say ; but the fact that he 
appears almost immediately to have adopted the 
practice of absenting himself from domestic and 
court life, and of sharing the Bohemian life of literary 
men and play-actors, suggests that he was not long 
in beginning his dramatic apprenticeship. Then, 
from this time up to about the year 1590, which we 
take as marking in a general way the beginning of 
the Shakespearean output, his life was largely of 
this Bohemian and dramatic character. Future 
research will probably furnish fuller details and dates 
of Edward de Vere's connection with the stage ; 
sufficient has, however, already been established to 
show that by the year 1580 he was already deeply 

From the Calendar of State Papers we learn that 
in 1580 the heads of the Cambridge University wrote 
to Burleigh objecting to the Earl of Oxford's servants 
" showing their cunning " in certain plays which they 
had already performed before the Queen. By 1584 
he had a company of players touring regularly in the 
provinces, and from this year until 1587 his company 
was established in London, occupying a foremost 
place in the dramatic world. 

In connection with his tours in the provinces it 


is worth while remarking that in 1584, that is to say 
just before settling in London, his company paid a 
visit to Stratford-on-Avon. William Shakspere was 
by this time twenty years of age and had been married 
for two years. There has been a great deal of guessing 
respecting the date at which William Shakspere left 
Stratford-on-Avon, and it is not improbable that it 
may have been connected with the visit of the '' Oxford 
Boys." As it is the birth of twins, early in 1585, 
which furnishes the data from which the time of his 
leaving Stratford has been inferred, the latter half of 
1584 may indeed have been the actual time. 

However these things may be, the fact is that, Oxford as 
whether in the country or the metropolis, it appears to ram ' 
have been quite recognized that the Earl of Oxford 
had a hand in the composition of some of the plays 
that his company was staging, whilst others were 
substantially his own. 

The year 1580, which gives us the earliest evidence Anthony 
of his being directly implicated in dramatic work, Munda y 
connects him also with a writer of poetry and drama, 
and the manager of a theatrical company, called 
Anthony Munday ; and as this connection is of a 
most important and interesting character it must 
be treated at some length. 

One peculiar fact about Munday has been the 
attributing to him both of dramatic and poetic 
compositions of a superior order, which competent 
authorities now assert could not have been written 
by him. In order to establish this point we must 
first deal with matters which take us past the" period 
of time with which we are now dealing. In the year 
1600 there was published an important poetical 
anthology called " England's Helicon," containing, 


amongst others, the poems of '' Shepherd Tony," 
whose identity has been one of the much-discussed 
problems of Elizabethan literature. Some writers 
have inclined to the idea that Anthony Munday was 
" Shepherd Tony " ; and in a modern anthology one 
of the best of the poems of Shepherd Tony, " Beauty 
sat bathing by a spring," is ascribed to Anthony 
Munday : as if no doubt existed on the point. Now 
Munday has, as a matter of fact, published a volume 
of his own poetry, " A Banquet of Dainty Conceits " ; 
and of this the modern editor of " England's Helicon," 
Mr. A. H. Bullen (1887), says : 

" Intrinsically the poems have little interest ; but 
the collection is on that account important, as afford- 
ing excellent proof that Anthony Munday was not 
the Shepherd Tony of ' England's Helicon.' Munday 
was an inferior writer." 

He then gives a passage of ten lines from Munday's 
poems and adds : " Very thin gruel this, and there 
are eight more stanzas. After reading these ' Dainty 
Conceits ' I shall stubbornly refuse to believe that 
Munday could have written any of the poems attributed 
in ' England's Helicon' to the Shepherd Tony." 
Munday We now revert to the period proper to this chapter, 

others' work, the years approaching 1580, in which De Vere was 
serving, as it were, the first term of his dramatic 
apprenticeship, and we ask for a very careful attention 
to the following passages taken from the Cambridge 
History of English Literature, vol. 5, chapter 10 : 

" Anthony Munday ... a hewer and trimmer of 

" Of the lesser Elizabethan dramatists Munday is 
the most considerable, interesting and typical." 

" These plays of Munday (have) no genius in them." 

" A translation from the Italian may be given as 
the beginning of Monday's work. (It is) a comedy 
of Two Italian Gentleman . . . Victoria's song at 
her window and Fedele's answer are of real poetic 
charm, and Fedele's denunciation of woman's fickle- 
ness is exactly in the strain as it is in the metre of the 
rhyming rhetoric of " Love's Labour's Lost." . . . 
Rhyming alexandrines and fourteen syllabled lines 
are generally employed, but in Fedele's speech, special 
seriousness and dignity of style are attained by the 
use of rhyming ten-syllabled lines in stanzas of six lines 
(The " Venus " and De Vere's " Of Women" stanza) 
. . . What is unexpected is the idiomatic English 
of the translation ; (for Munday's) prose translations 
do not display any special power in transforming the 
original into native English. . . . 

" Munday in 1580 and in his earliest published works Munday and 
is anxious to proclaim himself ' servant of the Earl Oxford, 
of Oxford' . . . The Earl of Oxford's company of 
players acted in London between 1584 and 1587. . . . 
(In a certain play) ' as it hath been sundry times 
played by the right honourable Earle of Oxenford, 
the Lord Great Chamberlaine of England, his servant,' 
the six-lined stanza occurs. (Much of it) might be 
Munday's work (but) he cannot have written the 
sonorous blank verse of the historic scenes . . . (One 
of) Munday's plays is a humble variation of the Munday and 
dramatic type of ' A Midsummer Night's Dream ' " shak f,- 

J r speare. 

. . . And we find in (another of Munday's plays) 
phrases that may have rested in the mind of Shakespeare." 

We feel entitled to say that the writer of these 
passages, the Rev. Ronald Bayne, M.A., was simply 


trembling on the brink of the discovery we claim to 
have made. The sentences quoted are not to be 
found in the close proximity to one another in which 
we have here placed them. They do, however, occur 
in the same chapter of the same work and are all 
from the same pen. A careful examination of the 
passages in these plays of Munday's, which " could 
not have been written by him," and containing 
passages which might have " rested in the mind of 
Shakespeare," would be necessary to make the present 
statement complete. They will need to be compared 
with Shakespeare's work on the one hand, and with 
the De Vere work on the other. For the present we 
are content to let it rest upon the authority quoted, 
and ask the reader to observe the number and the 
important character of the connecting links which 
Anthony Munday thus establishes for us between 
Shakespeare and Edward de Vere. For, if the 
passages in question fulfil the description given by 
Mr. Bayne, there seems but one explanation possible, 
in view of the whole course our investigations have 
so far taken, and that is that prior to 1580 the Earl 
of Oxford was learning his business as dramatist, 
trying his prentice hand, so to speak, upon inferior 
plays then current; collaborating with inferior writers, 
interpolating passages of his own into plays produced 
by his employee Anthony Munday such passages 
as " might have rested in the mind of Shake- 

Munday, As we are given one example of verse that appears 

" > Siake- and m a Pky * Munday's, we shall reproduce it, along 
speare." with corresponding passages from De Vere and 
Shakespeare, notwithstanding the repetition it in- 
volves : 


1. Munday's play: 

" Lo ! here the common fault of love, to follow her that 

And fly from her that makes pursuit with loud lamenting 


Fedele loves Victoria, and she hath him forgot ; 
Virginia likes Fedele best, and he regards her not." 

2. De Vere's poems : 

" The more I followed one, the more she fled away, 
As Daphne did full long ago, Apollo's wishful prey. 
The more my plaints I do resound the less she pities me. 
The more I sought the less I found, yet mine she meant 
to be." 

As the verse in Munday's play exactly reproduces 
the situation of the lovers in " A Midsummer Night's 
Dream," we quote the lines of the latter play dealing 
with the situation: 

3. Shakespeare, "M.N.D." I. i (Dialogue): 
" I frown upon him, yet he loves me still. 

! that your frowns would teach my smiles such 

1 give him curses, yet he gives me love. 

O ! that my prayers could such affection move. 
The more I hate the more he follows me. 
The more I love the more he hateth me." 

We are content to leave these matters to the reflec- 
tion of the reader ; and, as a last reference to Anthony 
Munday, merely point out the interesting fact that 
the recently discovered manuscript, which forms the 
subject of Sir E. Maunde Thompson's work on the 
penmanship of William Shakspere, is an interpola- 
tion into a play by Anthony Munday. 


It would be of inestimable value if some of Oxford's 
manuscripts or even the titles of his plays could be 






Troilus and 

discovered. We should not, of course, expect to find 
an exact correspondence between these titles and 
those of the Shakespeare plays : but rather some- 
thing furnishing connecting clues. Up to the present 
we have been able to discover only one such title, 
and the result has been by no means disappointing. 
In Mrs. Stopes's work on " Burbage and Shake- 
peare's Stage " we find the following from a con- 
temporary record (1584). 

' The History of Agamemnon and Ulisses presented 
and enacted before her maiestie by the Earle of 
Oxenford his boyes on St. John's daie at night at 

There is, of course, no Shakespeare play entitled 
" Agamemnon and Ulysses " ; but a careful examina- 
tion of Shakespeare's play, " Troilus and Cressida," 
from this point of view will, we think, yield very 
interesting results. Without actually counting words, 
we would be inclined to say, on a general inspection, 
that the speeches of Agamemnon and Ulysses account 
for as large, or maybe a larger, part of the drama, 
than do the words actually spoken by Troilus and 
Cressida themselves. This, however, is not the most 
interesting part of the case. Take the first act, for 
example, and compare carefully the three scenes of 
which it is composed. The first two scenes will be 
found to contain a large proportion of short sentences 
representing free and rapid dialogue, and also a fair 
admixture of prose. In this we have the work of the 
skilled playwriter. Scene three is totally different. 
Here each speaker steps forward in turn and utters a 
lengthy oration all in blank verse ; prose being 
entirely absent. There is in it profound thought and 
skilful expression ; but it is for the most part poetry 


pure and simple rather than drama : intellect and 
poetic skill, but not the proper technique of dialogue. 

This marked difference in point of technique between Evolution of 
the third scene and the first two scenes is just the drama - 
difference between the work of a poet making his 
early essays in drama and the work of the practised 
dramatist. And this apparently early Shakespeare 
drama is what might fittingly be called part of a play 
of " Agamemnon and Ulysses." Agamemnon, as 
the king, holds precedence and leads off with his 
thirty lines of blank verse, and Ulysses has by far the 
lion share of orating throughout the scene. A careful 
study of the two kinds of work in " Troilus and 
Cressida " will perhaps bring home to the reader more 
clearly than anything else could a sense of what took 
place in the development of drama in Queen Elizabeth's 
reign. What we take to be the Earl of Oxford's play 
of "Agamemnon and Ulysses," forming the original 
ground- work for the " Shakespeare " play of "Troilus 
and Cressida," represents the Elizabethan drama in 
an early simple stage of its evolution, with few speakers 
and long speeches, and the finished play of " Troilus 
and Cressida" the work of the same pen when practice 
had matured his command over the resources of true 
dramatic dialogue and a multitude of dramatis personae. 
In the Agamemnon and Ulysses scene, ^Eneas is 
introduced to establish a link with the Troilus and 
Cressida romance ; and then for the first time the 
succession of long speeches is interrupted : and a 
little rapid dialogue takes place. 

An examination of the play as a whole affords a 
very strong presumption that Shakespeare's play of 
" Troilus and Cressida " had for its foundation an 
earlier play of simple structure to which the name of 


" Agamemnon and Ulysses " might very fittingly 
be applied. 
An We would now ask for a careful reading of the whole 

aristocratic , , __, . T , 

composition, of those speeches of Ulysses in Act I, scene 3, of which 
we shall give but one short excerpt : 

" ! when degree is staked, 
Which is the ladder to all high designs, 
The enterprise is sick. How could communities, 
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities, 
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores, 
The primogenitive and due of birth. 
Prerogative of age, croons, sceptres, laurels 
But by degree, stand in authentic place ? 

Great Agamemnon, 
This chaos when degree is suffocate, 
Follows the choking." 

The scene as a whole is a discussion of state policy, 
from the standpoint of one strongly imbued with 
aristocratic conceptions, and conscious of the decline 
of the feudal order upon which social life had hitherto 
rested. Make, then, the Earl of Oxford the writer, 
and Elizabeth's court the audience for " Shakespeare's" 
representation of " Agamemnon and Ulysses," and the 
whole situation becomes much more intelligible than 
if we try to make the Stratford man the writer. 
Dying lovers. As illustrating the correspondence of the mind of 
Oxford, under other aspects, with the mind at work 
in " Troilus and Cressida," we shall first of all recall 
two stanzas in the poem entitled, " What cunning 
can express ? " 

. . . Each throws a dart 
That kindleth soft sweet fire : 
Within my sighing heart 
Possessed by Desire. 


No sweeter life I try 
Than in her love to die." 

" This pleasant lily white, 

This taint of roseate red ; 
This Cynthia's silver light, 

This sweet fair Dea spread ; 
These sunbeams in mine eye, 
These beauties make me die." 

The very extravagance of the terms arrests attention 
and almost provokes criticism. We would therefore 
draw attention to the following expression of sentiment 
on the part of Troilus whilst awaiting the entry of 
Cressida : 

" I am giddy ; expectation whirls me round. 
The imaginary relish is so sweet 
That it enchants my sense: what will it be 
When that the watery palate tastes indeed 
Love's thrice repured nectar ? death, I fear me 
Swooning destruction, or some joy too fine, 
Too subtle-potent, tuned too sharp in sweetness, 
For the capacity of my ruder powers." (III. 2.) 

The previous speech of Troilus's in which occurs oth r 
the line : 

1 ' Where I may wallow in the lily-beds.' ' 

reveals the working of the same imagery as in Oxford's 
poem ; and the song in the immediately preceding 
scene, containing the couplet : 

" These lovers cry, 
Oh ! oh ! they die," 

shows the insistence of the central thought in a 
lighter vein. 

A few lines further on appears that dominant note 
of high birth, followed immediately by the expression : 


" Few words to fair faith," which almost reproduces 
an expression in a letter of Oxford's written at a later 
date and only published in modern times : " Words 
in faithful minds are tedious." 

We have by no means exhausted the connection of 
" Troilus and Cressida " with the plays, poems and 
life of Edward de Vere, the starting point for which 
is furnished by the " Agamemnon and Ulysses " 
play. Enough has been said, however, to establish 
a harmony and to add to the sum of these accordances 
which in their mass and convergence constitute the 
proof of our theory. 


Lyiy and the Mention has been made of his association with and 
Oxford Boys. p a t rcm age of men of letters. One such instance of 
literary patronage carries us to the next landmark in 
tracing out his dramatic activities. The object of 
De Vere's benevolence in this case was Lyly, who 
dedicated the second part of his celebrated work to 
his patron. Shakespeare's intimacy with Euphuism 
is one of the much debated points in connection with 
the authorship problem, the difficulties of which 
disappear almost automatically under our present 
theory. Mr. W. Creizenach, in " English Drama in 
the age of Elizabeth," speaking of Lyly and his 
struggles against poverty, says, " He found more 
effective patronage at the hands of the Earl of Oxford, 
who himself practised the dramatic art. By him 
Lyly was entrusted with the management of the 
troupe known as the ' Oxford Boys,' which was under 
his protection. It is probable that the players who 


had named their company after this nobleman publicly 
acted the plays written by their patron." 

In the same work occurs also the following passage : 
" Side by side with the poets who earned their living 
by composing dramas we may observe a few members 
of the higher aristocracy engaged in the task of writing 
plays for the popular stage, just as they tried their 
hands at other forms of poetry for the pure love of 
writing. But the number of these high-born authors 
is very small and their appearance is evanescent. 
Edward Earl of Oxford, known chiefly as a lyric poet, 
is mentioned in Puttenham's ' Art of English Poesie ' 
as having earned, along with Edwards the choir- 
master, the highest commendation for comedy and 
interlude. Meres also praises him as being one of the 
best poets for comedy." 

The contemporary testimony to his dramatic pre- 
eminence mentioned in the passage quoted is of first 
importance, for, although we have fixed upon his 
lyric work as the key to the solution of the problem, 
it is his position as a writer of drama with which we 
are most directly concerned. 

Slight, then, as are the traces of his literary and The "Oxford 
dramatic activity during the fourteen years following B y s -" 
his visit to Italy, they are of such a character as to 
prove that the greater part of the energy which he 
had sought at one time to devote to military or naval 
enterprises was largely directed to literature and 
the drama, and that he must have been expending 
his substance lavishly upon these intetests. His 
position amongst the aristocratic patrons of drama 
was evidently quite distinctive. We do not find 
that any of the others were literary men of the same 
calibre, that they were associated so directly with the 


plays that were being staged by their companies, or 
that they shared in an equal degree the Bohemian 
life of the players as did the Earl of Oxford. Nor 
are any of the others singled out for the same kind 
of special notice in modern works on the Elizabethan 
drama. Although other companies of actors are 
referred to as " Boys," it is to Oxford's company 
that the name seems to have been most particularly 
attached. This frequent reference to his company as 
" The Oxford Boys," is suggestive, too, of a personal 
familiarity, and the kindly interest of an employer 
in the needs and welfare of the men he employed. 
From every indication we have of his character he 
was not the man to keep his gold " continually 
imprisoned in his bags," to use his own phrase, whilst 
there were playwrights or actors about him whom 
he could benefit. Everything betokens a relation- 
ship similar to that which had existed between Hamlet 
and his players, and which he expresses in his welcome 
to them on renewing his intercourse with them : 

" You are welcome, masters ; welcome all. I am glad 
to see thee well. Welcome good friends. O ! my old 

Hamlet as Then there is Hamlet's admonition to Polonius : 

patron of 

drama. < Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed ? 

Do you hear, let them be well used . . . Use them after 
your own honour and dignity : the less they deserve the 
more merit is in your bounty." 

Seeing, moreover, that Oxford's company has 
passed into the history of English drama as the 
" Oxford Boys," what shall we make of Hamlet speak- 
ing of his company as " the boys " ? 

" Do the boys carry it away ? " 


More important, however, are the instructions and 
criticism which Hamlet as a patron of playactors 
offers to his company. His whole attitude is just such 
as a patron of Oxford's social position, literary taste, 
and dramatic enthusaism, would naturally assume 
towards a company which he was not only patronising 
but directing. In this matter no quotation of passages 
would suffice for our purpose. We can only ask the 
reader, bearing in mind all we have been able to lay 
before him, of Oxford's poetic work, life and character, 
to read through the whole of that part of the play 
which treats of Hamlet's dealings with the players 
(Acts II . and III . s. 2) . If he does not feel that we have 
here an exact representation of what Oxford's handling 
of his own company would be, our own work in these 
pages must have been most imperfectly performed. 

As the management of the Oxford Boys was Lyiy's and 
entrusted to Lyly, it will be seen that the writer in sp eareT" 
most continuous association with the Earl of Oxford dramas, 
during those years in which he was producing the 
plays that are supposed to have perished, was the 
author of " Euphues." Now, it was precisely in 
this period that Lyly was himself giving forth plays ; 
so that some kind of correspondence between his own 
work and his master's was inevitable. It becomes, 
then, a question of some importance, whether these 
plays of Lyiy's link themselves on in any distinctive 
way with the plays of " Shakespeare." We invite, 
therefore, some special attention first of all to what 
Sir Sidney Lee has to say on this point : 

" It was only to two of his (Shakespeare's) fellow 
dramatists that his indebtedness as a writer of either 
comedy or tragedy was material or emphatically 
defined " (Lyly and Marlowe). 


Marlowe was a younger man, and the work from 
his pen (tragedy) which Sir Sidney Lee associates with 
Shakespeare's, belongs to the later or " Shakespearean " 
period proper. Lyly is therefore the only dramatist 
of this earlier or preparatory period (1580-1592) 
whose work, in the opinion of Sir Sidney Lee, fore- 
shadows the work of " Shakespeare." 

"Between 1580 and 1592 he (Lyly) produced eight 
trivial and insubstantial comedies, of which six were 
written in prose, one was in blank verse, and one 
in rhyme. Much of the dialogue in Shakespeare's 
comedies from ' Love's Labour's Lost ' to ' Much 
Ado about Nothing ' consists in thrusting and 
parrying fantastic conceits, puns and antitheses. This 
is the style of the intercourse in which most of Lyly's 
characters exclusively indulge. Three-fourths of 
Lyly's comedies lightly revolve about topics of 
classical and fairy mythology in the very manner 
which Shakespeare first brought to a triumphant 
issue in his ' Midsummer Night's Dream.' Shake- 
speare's treatment of eccentric characters like Don 
Armado in ' Love's Labour's Lost,' and his boy 
Moth reads like a reminiscence of Lyly's portrayal 
of Sir Topas, a fat vainglorious knight, and his boy 
Epiton in the comedy of ' Endymion,' while the 
watchmen in the same play clearly adumbrate 
Shakespeare's Dogberry and Verges. The device of 
masculine disguise for love-sick maidens was 
characteristic of Lyly's method before Shakespeare 
ventured on it for the first of many times in " Two 
Lyly's lyrics. Gentlemen of Verona," and the dispersal through 
Lyly's comedies of songs possessing every lyrical charm 
is not the least interesting of the many striking features 
which Shakespeare's achievements in comedy seem 


to borrow from Lyly's comparatively insignificant 

In the article on Lyly which the same writer 
contributes to the Dictionary of National Biography 
he raises doubts as to Lyly's authorship of certain 
lyrics which appear in his dramas on the grounds 
of their superiority. It cannot be questioned, then, 
that Lyly and his work constitute a most important 
link in the chain of evidence connecting the work of 
" Shakespeare " with the Earl of Oxford ; only, under 
the influence of the Stratfordian theory, cause is 
mistaken for effect. 

Having presented the relationship of Lyly's work Literary men 
to that of " Shakespeare " as stated by an eminent 
Shakespearean, we shall now give it as it appears to 
the leading English authority on the work of John 
Lyly, Mr. R. Warwick Bond, M.A. (" The Complete 
Works of John Lyly, now for the first time collected 
and edited." Clarendon Press, 1902). This is of 
such importance as to deserve a section for itself. 

" Gabriel Harvey (states) that when ' Euphues ' 
was being written, i.e. in 1578, he knew Lyly in the 
Savoy. ... A recommendation from an influential 
friend would procure easy admission (to apartments 
in the Savoy) for some temporary period at least, 
of a needy man of letters or university student . . . 
From details given in Mr. W. J. Lof tie's Memorials 
of the Savoy, it appears that various chambers and 
tenements in the Savoy precinct were customarily 
let to tenants, and in 1573 Edward de Vere, Earl of 



Oxford, is over 10 in arrear of rent to the Savoy for 
two such tenements." 

For what purpose Oxford held these tenements, 
whether for his own literary pui suits, or for the 
accommodation of poor men of letters, is not known. 
So early, however, as 1573, when he was but twenty- 
three years of age, and two years before his Italian 
tour, he was evidently associated with the men ot 
letters in the Savoy, amongst whom were included 
within the next few years, Gabriel Harvey and John 
Lyly. Burleigh's house in the Strand, where Oxford 
had been domiciled, was quite near to the Savoy, 
and Oxford's early and habitual association with 
this particular literary group hardly admits of doubt. 
Lyly receives In 1580 Lyly dedicates his work, " Euphues and 
impulse from his England," to his " very good lord and master, 
Oxford. Edward de Vere Earl of Oxenforde " and (to resume 
our quotation) " here we have the first authentic 
indication of Lyly's connection with Burleigh's son- 
in-law, a connection which may have begun in the 
Savoy, where, as we saw, Oxford rented two tene- 
ments. ... He was engaged as private secretary to 
the Earl and admitted to his confidence. The two men 
were much of an age (Oxford was, in point of fact, 
Lyly's senior by three and a half years a consider- 
able difference in early manhood) and had common 
elements of character and directions of taste. From 
the Earl probably it was that Lyly first received the 
dramatic impulse. None of Oxford's comedies 
survive, but Puttenham, writing in 1589, classes him 
with Richard Edwards as deserving the highest price 
(? praise) for comedy and interlude." . . . (Then 
follow some particulars respecting the activities of 
" Oxford's Boys ") . . . " Suggestion, encouragement 


and apparatus thus lay ready to Lyly's hand." In 
another place, in describing Lyly's educational 
advantages, he mentions specially that of being 
" private secretary to the literaiy Earl of Oxford." 

The work of Oxford in drama is therefore recognized 
as having furnished the generative impulse which 
produced Lyly's work in tnis particular domain. 
As private secietary, in the confidence of Oxford, 
assisting in the actual staging of Oxford's comedies, 
which without appearing in print had made such a 
name that they are spoken of, more than ten years 
after they had ceased to appear on the stage, as 
amongst "the best,"* Lyly would naturally he more 
intimate with these " lost plays " than any other 
man except the author himself. And as it was the 
holding of this office which led him to the composition 
of dramas, we are quite entitled to say that it was the 
plays of Edward de Vere that furnished Lyly's 
dramatic education; whilst contact with his master 
is a recognized force in his personal education. 

As to the relationship of Lyly's dramas to the work connection 

of " Shakespeare," Mr. Bond quotes on his title the *** 

' Shcikc- 

words of M6zieres : " Ceux qui ont 6te* les predecessors speare's" 
des grands esprits ont contribue" en quelque fafon a dramas - 
leur Education, leur doivent d'etre sauve"s de 1'oubli. 
Dante fait vivre Brunetto Latini, Milton du Bartas ; 
Shakespeare fait vivre Lyly " This is the theme which 
runs through Mr. Bond's great work ; the justification 
almost of his immense labours on behalf of Lyly and 
Elizabethan literature generally. The nature and 
value of his researches can only be gathered, however, 
from a study of the work itself, and therefore we 
shall merely submit a few indicative sentences: 
* Meres, 1598. 


" In comedy, Lyly is Shakespeare's only model : 
the evidence of the latter's study and imitation of him 
is abundant, and Lyly's influence is of a far more 
permanent nature than any exercised on the great 
poet by any other writers. It extends beyond the 
boundaries of mechanical style to the more important 
matters of structure and spirit " (Vol. II. p. 243). 

" Shakespeare imitates Lyly's grouping and, like 
him, repeats a relation or situation in successive 
plays" (II. 285). 

" Lyly taught him (Shakespeare) something in 
the matter of unity and coherence of plot-construc- 
tion, in the introduction of songs and fairies" (II. 296). 

This, then, is the situation represented by the 
consenus of opinion of two eminent authorities. The 
dramas of Edward de Vere form the source from 
which sprang Lyly's dramatic conceptions and enter- 
prises, and Lyly's dramas appear as the chief model, 
in comedy the only model, upon which " Shakes- 
peare " worked. We are therefore entitled to claim 
that the highest orthodox authorities, in the particular 
department of literature with which we are dealing, 
support the view that the dramatic activities of 
Edward de Vere stands in almost immediate productive 
or causal relationship of a most distinctive character 
with the dramatic work of " Shakespeare." Even 
if we are unable to extract any further evidence from 
Oxford's relationships with Lyly we shall have added 
another very important link in our chain of evidences. 
Lyly's Take now the following passage from the work we 

fifve^tive- have J ust been quoting : Lyly was " the first regular 
ness English dramatist, the true inventor and introducer of 

dramatic style, conduct and dialogue, and in these 
respects the chief master of Shakespeare. There is 


no play before Lyly. He wrote eight ; and 
immediately thereafter England produced some 
hundreds produced that marvel and pride of the 
greatest literature in the world, the Elizabethan 
Drama. What tne long infancy of her stage had 
lacked was an example of form, of art ; and Lyly 
gave it. . . . Lyly was one whose immense merits and 
originality were obscured by the surface-qualities, the 
artificiality and tedium of his style . . . (There is) 
far more dramatic credit due and far more influence 
on Shakespeare attributable, to him than to Marlowe 
or any other of those with whom he has been 
customarily classed " (Preface vi and vii). 

In the world of drama, then, Lyly appears as a great Lyiy'siack of 

. ..*.... inventive- 

inventive genius, to whose originating impulse is ness . 

due " the greatest literature in the world." Contrast 
now with the above passage the following comment 
upon Lyly's " Euphues," which appears in the same 
work : 

" The book is artificial, divorced from homely 
realities. It is deficient, too, in characterization and 
in pathos ; but undoubtedly its chief defect is its 
want of action, . . . The want of action is probably 
referrable to poverty of invention. . . . Poverty of 
invention is discerned in the parallelism of the two 
parts" (Vol. I. 162). 

In the writing of his novel, then, Lyly shows a 
distinct lack of dramatic power, and a noticeable 
" poverty of invention." When he enters his 
employer's special domain, the drama, he appears as 
" the true inventor and introducer of dramatic style, 
conduct and dialogue." 

Only one conclusion, it would seem, can be drawn 
from these facts, namely that the real inventor of 


Oxford th those things, which " Shakespeare " is supposed to 
innovator. have derived from Lyly, was the Earl of Oxford. 
Whether we examine the lyric poems of the latter, 
the vicissitudes of his career, or the varied and 
disturbing impressions he left in the minds of others, 
with all the mystifying and conflicting personal traits 
that they suggest, we find ourselves in the presence 
of an original and self-dependent intellect ; just the 
kind of mind to possess that dramatic inventiveness 
which is attributed to the plays but which is missing 
from the " Euphues " of Lyly. The inventiveness 
and dramatic form and dialogue in Lyly's plays is 
therefore evidently due to Oxford's participation 
either direct or indirect. The features of Lyly's work 
which relate it so intimately with " Shakespeare's " 
dramas are such as an apt disciple might have learnt 
from a master of forceful and original genius : in 
the intellectual substance of Lyly's dramas, as in his 
other literary work, his biographer and editor freely 
admits superficiality and tediousness. The con- 
ceptions, phrases, and dramatic form of the master's 
work could be appropriated by the pupil ; its genius 
he could not appropriate or imitate. As then Lyly's 
work, apart from what he might have borrowed from 
Oxford, marks him as an early type of that literary 
mind which rapidly catches and reflects the ideas of 
others, it is almost certain that his works will contain 
not only much that was in Oxford's writings, but 
also a great deal of what Oxford thought and said 
without committing it to writing. 

As a kind of unconscious Boswell to the Earl of 
Oxford it is more than probable that even his 
" Euphues," owes much to his intercourse with his 
patron ; for this work consists mainly of such talk 


and reflections as a man of Lyly's type would gather " Euphues," 
together from the conversation of the group of young ?shake* Q 
litterateurs in the Savoy. Scraps of ideas gleaned in speare." 
this way, and dressed up in his own inflated style, 
might easily pass for a time as solid intellectual 
matter ; the deficiency of genuine substance only 
being disclosed through familiarity. It is intetesting 
to notice that Mr. Bond gives us no less than nine 
pages of parallelisms between this early work of 
Lyly's and the plays of Shakespeare. The difference 
between the two is mainly that in " Euphues " the 
passages appear as more or less disjointed and ram- 
bling remarks, whereas in " Shakespeare " they take 
their places as parts of a coherent whole. In a word, 
in Lyly's work they indicate a mind that reflects the 
conceptions and imitates the expressions of others ; 
in " Shakespeare " they are the expression of an 
originating intellect ; and were it not for the difficulty 
presented by the fact that Lyly's work was published 
some years before " Shakespeare's," no competent 
judge would have questioned Lyly's great indebtedness 
to " Shakespeare " even in the writing of his famous 
" Euphues." 

It is no part of our argument, but it is of some 
interest from the point of view of Elizabethan literature, 
that as we get a glimpse of this group of young literary 
men drawn into association in the Savoy, and realize 
something of what their relationships would tend to be 
at the time when " Euphues " was being written, 
one gets a suggestion that, in accordance with their 
literary methods, Edward de Vere and Philip Sidney 
were the chief originals for Lyly's principal characters 
of Euphues and Philautus. For to the names of the 
men already given we are quite entitled to add those of 


both Edmund Spenser and Philip Sidney ; since it was 
Gabriel Harvey under whose influence Spenser had 
come to London about that time, and it was he, too, 
who introduced Spenser to Philip Sidney. Shortly 
afterwards Spencer brought out his first work " The 
Shepherd's Calendar," dedicated to Sidney, and 
containing allusions, as we believe, to both Oxford 
and Sidney. Later, as we have already seen, Spenser 
addressed an important dedicatory sonnet to Oxford 
in first publishing his " Fairie Queen." All the works 
we have just named are representations, in varying 
degrees of disguise, of contemporary life and person- 
alities ; and as the Earl of Oxford and Philip Sidney 
were the outstanding personalities connecting this 
group of litterateurs with the court life it was natural 
that Lyly's two chief characters should assume some 
of their features, even if he had not intended the 
representation at first. Although Harvey, Lyly, 
Oxford and Sidney all seem to have come to cross 
purposes within the next few years, there is no reason 
to suppose that their relations were other than friendly 
at the time when Lyly was penning Euphues. 
" Shake- However these things may be, it is much more 

speare s 

dramas a feasible that the great " Shakespeare " poems and 
product dramas should have owed their rise to the interchange 
of ideas, and the stimulation which mind derives 
from contact with kindred mind, such as would be 
enjoyed by the young wits and savants in the Savoy, 
than to the studies of an isolated youth poring over 
well-thumbed books in an uncongenial social atmo- 
sphere. And if this social intercourse were really the 
source of the Shakespeare literature as we believe 
it to have been directly, and Sir Sidney Lee and 
Mr. Bond imply that it was indirectly, we should 


naturally expect to find, in some outstanding play, such 
a representation of the chief figures of the group as 
Spenser, Lyly and Gabriel Harvey were accustomed 
to make of contemporaries in their own writings. 
" Love's Labour's Lost " is the play that we have 
selected in this connection, and dealt with in the 
opening pages of this chapter. That Lyly is also 
represented in the play is most probable ; we know 
too little, however, of his personality for purposes of 
identification. The fact that the authorship we are 
now urging brings " Shakespeae's " plays into line 
with the literature of the times, as a dramatic 
representation of contemporary events and person- 
alities, and at the same time gives the works a firm 
root, like all the other great achievements of mankind, 
in the direct social intercourse of men possessing 
common tastes and interests, is not the least of the 
arguments in its favour. 

If Lyly's works were produced as we suppose them Lyrics in 
to have been'; produced, that is to say, by a some- L y*y splays, 
what ordinary mind working upon ideas and with 
apparatus furnished by an almost transcendent 
genius, we should naturally expect to find marked 
discordances and inequalities in his work, resulting 
from the imperfect blending of the two elements. 
This is just the feature that Lyly's work does present ; 
and in the matter of the songs interspersed through 
the plays, there is such a superiority to much of the 
other work as to have raised doubts respecting their 
authenticity. The first play written by Lyly was 
" Campaspe," published in 1584 ; and on more than 
one occasion, in speaking of later writings, Mr. Bond 
contrasts them with the superior lyrics in this first play. 
Some work he describes as " a disgrace to the writer 


of 'Cupid and my Campaspe.' " (one of these lyrics). 
Speaking again of a poetical lampoon by Lyly, 
entitled " A Whip for an Ape," he asserts that the 
" authorship is not disputable," though the notion 
that the author of "Cupid and my Campaspe" also 
wrote " A Whip for an Ape " had induced him to regard 
the latter work as doubtful. 

This is not, however, the most interesting or 
significant fact which the writer brings to light in 
respect to the songs in Lyly's plays. In the editions 
of these works published during the authoi's lifetime 
and the lifetime both of Edward de Vere and William 
Shakspere, the songs did not appear ; their positions 
alone being merely indicated in the text. 

" The absence of the whole tnirty-two (except two 
merged in the dialogue of ' The Woman ') from the 
quarto editions (i.e. the originals) has cast some doubt 
upon Lyly's authorship : but some of them seem 
too dainty to be written by an unknown hand, there is a 
uniformity of alternative manners and measures etc." 
The writer then proceeds to offer possible reasons for 
the omission of the songs from the editions of the 
plays as first published. The important fact is that 
these songs are in several cases the best things the 
plays now contain. For nearly fifty years some of 
these works were published and republished without 
the songs (" Campaspe " performed at court in 1582, 
and published first in 1584). Then, in 1632, that is 
to say twenty-six years after Lyly's death, twenty- 
one out of the missing thirty unaccountably re- 
appeared in an edition of Lyly's plays issued by the 
same publishers and in the same year as the Second 
Folio edition of " Shakespeare's " work, and within 
the lifetime of Oxford's cousin, Horatio de Vere, who, 


as we shall have occasion to show, had probably been 
entrusted with the task of preserving and publishing 
Oxford's writings. The remaining nine are still 
missing. The simultaneous reappearance of so many 
of these songs, after so long an interval, would almost 
certainly be the work of some one who had been 
carefully preserving the entire set. The non- 
appearance of the remaining nine suggests that these 
had already appeared elsewhere, probably in the 
pages of " Shakespeare." 

The possible reasons advanced for the omission of 
all these lyrics from the original issue of the plays are 
such as might apply to the work of any other play- 
wright ; yet we can find no other instances of sets of 
superior lyrics being omitted from the original publica- 
tion of the works to which they belong. The simplest 
hypothesis is that these lyrics were not the composi- 
tion nor the property of Lyly, but, like the lyric work 
contributed to Munday's play, had been composed by 
the master of the playwright, the " best of the courtier 
poets " of those days : and although Oxford could not 
prevent Lyly's rushing into print with superficial 
plays, in which he saw his own developments in drama 
being prematurely exploited, he certainly would resent 
his own lyrics appearing in them, and was quite able 
to prevent it if Lyly had been disposed to insert them. 

Mr. Bond's statement respecting the quality of Lyric 
Lyly's own lyric work is therefore of special importance : 3 
" Spite of his authorship of two or three of the most 
graceful songs our drama can boast an authorship 
which if still unsusceptible of positive proof is equally 
so of disproof some of those in his plays, and others 
pretty certainly his, which I have found elsewhere, 
stamp him as negligent, uncritical, or else inadequately 



Oxford the 
author of 

" Shake- 
speare's " 
and Lyly's 

practised in the art ; while he lacked altogether in 
my judgement, ' those brave translunary things ' 
so infinitely beyond technique, so far above mere 
grace or daintiness of fancy, of which the true poet 
is made" (Preface vii). The mere raising of the 
question of the authenticity of these first -class lyrics 
in this way, by one who adds to his fine literary dis- 
crimination an undoubted admiration for Lyly, affords 
strong confirmation of the theory that these superior 
verses were either written by Oxford for Lyly's plays, 
or were modelled by Lyly on songs written by Oxford. 

It is necessary to keep in mind that Oxford was 
primarily a lyric poet ; that during the years in which 
many of Lyly's plays were being written the two men 
were working together, writing plays for the " Oxford 
Boys " ; and that eight of the plays written by Lyly 
have been preserved, whilst the whole of Oxford's 
plays have disappeared. Seeing, then, that Lyly 
displays a marked weakness in lyrical capacity, whilst 
Oxford is specially strong, the most of the songs would 
almost certainly be the exclusive contribution of the 
latter, to plays in which there was more or less collabora- 
tion between the two men. 

We come now to what is perhaps the most vital 
part of this particular argument. In estimating 
" Shakespeare's " indebtedness to Lyly, on what we 
are reluctantly obliged to call the orthodox view, we 
should have to include his indebtedness to this lyric 
work with which Lyly has been only doubtfully 
credited. For a comparison of the two sets of lyrics 
discloses a marked similarity of lyric forms, with 
something of the same rich variety. We have made 
a careful examination of the lyrics that reappeared 
in Lyly's plays in 1632, and although, until supported 


by recognized literary authorities, we may hesitate 
to affirm definitively that they are from the same 
pen as the lyrics of " Shakespeare," no one who 
knows the best of them will hesitate to say that they 
are such as " Shakespeare " might have written. 
Yet some were written, though not published, prior to 
1584, the year in which the play to which they belong 
was published, and before William Shakspere is said 
to have left Stratford. Those, on the other hand, 
who hold that William Shakspere, who came to London 
and began to issue plays about the year 1592, studied 
carefully and modelled his work upon the published 
dramas of John Lyly, will find some difficulty in 
explaining how he could have modelled his work upon 
lyrics which were not published until 1632, or sixteen 
years after his own death. 

In this connection we shall give but one illustration 
of the similarity of " Shakespeare's " lyric work 
to the lyrics attributed to Lyly. 

Fairies sing : 

" Pinch him, fairies, mutually ; 

Pinch him for his villany. 
Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about, 
Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out." 

("Merry Wives," published 1602.) 

Fairies sing : 

" Pinch him, pinch him, black and blue, 
Saucy mortals must not view 
What the Queen of Stars is doing, 
Nor pry into our fairy wooing. 

Pinch him blue 

And pinch him black, 

Let him not lack 


Sharp nails to pinch him blue and red, 
Till sleep has rocked his addle head." 

(" Endymion." Play written 1585. Song first 
published 1632.) 

No one can doubt that these two songs were either 
from the same pen, or the writer of one of them 
was indebted to the other. The connection being 
established, not only for the one song but for the 
lyric work as a whole, a difficult problem, though, of 
course, not altogether insoluble, is presented to those 
who believe that William Shakspere in writing lyrics 
for " A Midsummer Night's Dream," " Love's Labour's 
Lost," and " The Merry Wives," was working from 
a copy of Lyly's Lyrics. 

Anomalies If " Shakespeare " wrote both sets, or if the writer 
disappear. of the lyTics attributed to Ly i y wor ked upon " Shake- 

speare's " model, then " Shakespeare " must have 
been some one who was right in the heart of the literary 
life of London some years before William Shakspere's 
supposed entry upon his career. If, on the other 
hand, " Shakespeare " was working in 1602 on the 
model of Lyly's work, he must have had private access 
to his contemporary's manuscripts, and have not only 
exploited the work to an extraordinary extent, but 
slavishly adopted the lyric forms and mannerisms of 
his fellow poet. That the greatest lyric and dramatic 
genius of the age should have so gone out of his way 
to follow pedantically a single writer of inferior powers 
to his own, even supposing the whole of that writer's 
work had been accessible to him an almost 
extravagant supposition would bespeak a kind of 
infatuation to which geniuses are not usually prone. 

All these contradictory and far-fetched implications 
disappear when the theory of authorship we are now 


advocating is substituted. Under our theory " Shake- 
speare/' in the person of Edward de Vere, furnishes 
the model, and becomes the initiating force and leader 
in the poetic and dramatic movement, and Lyly 
the follower and imitator of " Shakespeare." The 
anomalies and " disgraceful " inequalities of Lyly's 
work receive for the first time a rational explanation, 
and the mystery of " Shakespeare's " apparent depen- 
dence upon Lyly entirely disappears. Lyly's dramas 
are seen to be, for the most part, hasty productions 
intended for immediate performance ; receiving after- 
wards such dressing as a " superficial and tedious " 
writer was able to give them ; but which had been 
modelled upon work of a higher order, and, in their 
first shaping for the stage, had had the advantage 
possibly of being trimmed and enlivened by the same 
hand that afterwards gave forth the supreme master- 

The dramas of " Shakespeare," on the other hand, 
are seen to be the finished literary form of those 
plays by De Vere which Lyly knew in the rough, as 
performed by the Oxford Boys in the days of dramatic 
pioneering, but which their author, with the feeling 
and vision of the true poet, had seen were capable 
of being transformed into something much greater 
and more worthy of an enduring existence. At the 
same time the so-called Lyly's lyrics are seen to have 
been, in the main, a contribution made by Oxford 
to the plays composed by Lyly to be performed by 
the Oxford Boys lyrics which on the one hand he 
had left, maybe, in too crude a form for publication, 
being composed originally just to be sung, and which 
on the other hand he was not willing should be made 
a present to Lyly. 


Composition There is no record of a single play of Oxford's ever 
tion of" " having been published, and the lyrics from his pen 
dramas. published in his lifetime are without doubt the work 
of a man who was most reluctant to commit anything 
to print that had not been very carefully revised and 
if possible perfected. With his artistic striving after 
perfection it was natural that he should work long 
and laboriously at any literary task he undertook, 
and that in the process of transforming his plays 
they should undergo such changes that the original 
work of Oxford should not have been detected in the 
finished plays of " Shakespeare." That writers of 
plays should adopt the practice we have attributed to 
Oxford of deferring publication is no mere hypothesis 
invented to meet a difficulty. Even in the case of 
Lyly, with his evident eagerness for literary fame and 
deficient sense of literary perfection, the intervals 
between the production and publication of plays 
were considerable. " Campaspe," composed about 
1579-80, was first published in 1584. " Gallathea," 
composed in 1584, was first published in 1592 ; whilst 
" Love's Metamorphosis," which in a defective form 
evidently first made its appearance about 1584, was 
not put into its present form and published until 1601. 
Between the actual performance of his plays and 
their ultimate publication there was usually a period 
of three or four years. With the richer, more elaborate, 
more highly finished and much more voluminous 
work of " Shakespeare," a longer interval was naturally 
to be expected ; and it is just in that interval between 
Oxford's composition of his dramas and the appearance 
of the " Shakespeare " work that the dramas of 
Oxford's private secretary and coadjutor make their 
appearance, having so striking a resemblance, in 


everything but genius, to the " Shakespeare " work, 
that the latter is supposed to have been definitely 
modelled upon it to a most unusual extent. 

Somewhere, then, about the year 1592 these plays 
of Oxford's we believe began to appear attributed 
to William Shakspere, and this is the time when 
Lyly's plays cease to appear (" The Woman in the 
Moon," composed 1591-3). In 1598 " Shakespeare's" 
plays are first published with an author's name. Lyly's 
" Woman in the Moon " had been published the 
previous year, and after it he only published a revised 
edition of the old play, " Love's Metamorphosis." 
Both in the matter of presenting and publishing plays, 
the appearance of " Shakespeare's " work put a check 
upon Lyly's. About the same time there appeared 
Meres' account of Elizabethan poetry and drama, 
containing names alike of authors and titles of plays ; 
and, though he gives the titles of " Shakespeare's " 
works, and accords a foremost place to the name of 
Edward de Vere as a playwright, he does not give the 
title of a single play that Oxford had written. 

These are matters which belong more properly to Dramatic 
a later period than the one we are now discussing. con . nect i ns 
In respect to Oxford's early dramatic activities, and 
the connection of his missing comedies with the work 
of " Shakespeare " for it is this early period with 
which we are now concerned we have undoubtedly 
a most extraordinary set of coincidences. Two men, 
and two men only, Anthony Munday and John Lyly, 
are directly and actively associated with him in his 
dramatic enterprises. Both men have work attributed 
to them which is evidently not theirs, and it is this 
work which specially links them on in Lyly's case 
in a remarkable way to the work of " Shakespeare," 





Spenser and 
De Vere. 

thus forming a direct bridge between the " lost or 
worn out " dramas of Edward de Vere and " the 
greatest literature of the world." Surely this, along 
with all the other coincidences, is not merely fortuitous. 
We may B have laboured unduly these connections : 
their immense importance, we hope, is a sufficient 


After the year 1587 we lose distinct traces of Oxford's 
dramatic activity, and, in reference to this, we must 
now draw attention to an important set of considera- 
tions in which the poet Edmund Spenser is implicated. 

In the year 1590, by which time the middle period 
of De Vere's life may be said to have closed, when 
though only forty years of age he seemed to have 
quite dropped from public view, and when William 
Shakspere, then aged twenty-six, was either establish- 
ing himself, or being established by unknown patrons, 
in the dramatic world, Edmund Spenser published 
his "Tears of the Muses." These "are full of 
lamentations over returning barbarism and ignorance, 
and the slight account made by those in power of the 
gifts and the arts of the writer, the poet and the 
dramatist " (Church : Life of Spenser). In this poem 
occur some stanzas which Dryden in his day, and 
Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke in more recent times, 
have appropriated to William Shakspere, but which, 
notwithstanding this, have been more or less a puzzle 
to literary men ever since they were written. Most 
writers on either Spenser or Shakespeare seem to 
feel it a duty to say something about them. The 
matter is therefore of extreme importance as a question 


of Elizabethan literature quite apart from the Shake- 
speare problem, and will necessitate a somewhat 
exhaustive statement. The following are the most 
important stanzas in the set : 

" All these, and all that else the Comic Stage, 
With seasoned wit and goodly pleasance graced, 
By which man's life in his likest image 
Was limned forth, are wholly now defaced ; 
And those sweet wits which wont the like to frame 
Are now despised and made a laughing game. 

" And he the man whom Nature's self had made 
To mock herself and truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter under Mimic shade, 
Our pleasant Willie, ah ! is dead of late. 
With whom all joy and jolly merriment 
Is also deaded and in doleur drent. 

" But that same gentle spirit from whose pen 
Large streams of honey and sweet nectar flow, 
Scorning the boldness of such base-born men, 
Which dare their follies forth so rashly throw, 
Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell, 
Than so himself to mockery to sell." 

First of all the expression " dead of late," it has Spenser's 
been remarked by others, means, " not that he is Willle - 
literally dead but that he is in retirement." This 
reading is not only necessary to make it fit in with 
what follows " to sit in idle cell " but is also 
supported by other passages in the same writer. The 
reference is evidently to some one who, having been 
prominent in the writing of poetry, and in connection 
with dramatic comedy, had lately not been much in 

Whilst therefore the laudatory expressions are such 
as could only be applied appropriately to " Shake- 
speare," the date of publication makes it impossible 


that they should have any reference to the man 
William Shakspere. At the same time, the name 
" Willie " only serves to deepen the mystery. In 
the year 1590 the Stratford man was only twenty-six 
years of age and was just making his appearance in 
the dramatic world. He had therefore no great 
career behind him from which to retire, whereas the 
" Willie " referred to in Spenser's poem had evidently 
already held a prominent position in the world of 
poetry and drama. Dean Church in his Life of Spenser 
proposes a solution the weakness of which he himself 
fully recognizes. He mentions that Sir Philip Sidney 
had somewhere been spoken of as " Willie " and 
thinks that the verses may allude to him. To this 
theory he recognizes two very vital objections. In 
the first place, Sir Philip Sidney had never attempted 
anything in the dramatic line except some " masking 
performances," and to these the laudatory expressions 
would be, he says, " an extravagant compliment." 
They would, however, be much more than this : a 
grotesque distortion of the English language would 
be a more accurate description. 

The second great difficulty of the theory is this. 
Instead of Sir Philip Sidney being in retirement in 
1590 he had already been actually dead for nearly 
four years. This further difficulty, he thinks, might 
be got over by supposing that the work had been 
written some years earlier and had been kept back 
until 1590. To ante-date the work to such an extent 
as to make the stanzas applicable to the events of 
Sidney's life would throw out of gear the whole 
sequence of the production of Spenser's works and 
the personal allusions they contain, as well as the 
relation of his works to the events of his own life. 


Some other solution of the problem must therefore 
be sought. 

The key to this mystery, we believe, is to be found " The 

, , c j , .. , , . ,, . , Shepherd's 

in a work of Spenser s published in the early years of Calender." 

the particular period of De Vere's life with which we 
are at present occupied. In December 1579 Spenser 
issued his first considerable work, " The Shepherd's 
Calender." Now, to those who are not specially 
students of Elizabethan literature, that is to say to 
the great mass of English readers, to say nothing of 
the rest of the world, " The Shepherd's Calender " 
needs some little explanation. This set of poems is 
simply a series of burlesques upon prominent men of 
the day, who appear in the guise of " shepherds," and 
who express themselves under disguises more or less 
penetrable. In some cases the names given to them 
suggest their real names, in other cases there is no 
suggestiveness about them ; in some cases it is quite 
understood whom they represent, in others they 
remain as yet undistinguished. Spenser himself 
appears as " Colin Clout," Gabriel Harvey as 
" Hobbinol," Archbishop Grindal as " Algrind." 
The formation of the last two names from those of 
their prototypes will be readily perceived. 

Looking over the names of the various " shepherds," 
we find that there is indeed one called " Willie." So 
that when in 1590 Spenser speaks of the Willie " from 
whose pen large streams of honey and sweet nectar 
flow," it is natural to suppose that, in accordance with 
his practice in other cases, he was carrying forward 
the same person as the one who had figured in the 
1579 poem under that name, but who, in the mean- 
time, had given such a manifestation of his powers 
that by the year 1590 he was able to speak of him 


in terms which, as Dean ("hurch remarks, "we now- 
a days consider, and as Dryden in his day considered, 
were only applicable to Shakespeare." 

It has therefore been a matter of consideraole 
surprise that notwithstanding the great amount of 
attention that has been paid by writers on Elizabethan 
literature to the question of who it was that Spenser 
meant by " Willie " in the above verses, it never seems 
to have occurred to any one to connect him with the 
" Willie " who appears in Spenser's earlier poems. 
Yet the very manner in which he casually introduces 
the name is suggestive of an allusion to his first 
great work. The question, then, which concerns us 
immediately is this : what are the probabilities that 
the " Willie " in " The Shepherd's Calender " was the 
Earl of Oxford ? And if a strong case can be made 
out for such an identification we shall be entitled also 
to claim for him the allusion in the " Tears of the 
Muses," especially if the later representation of " Willie " 
fits in with the special circumstances of Oxford at the 
later date. We shall also have made an important 
contribution to the evidence that Oxford was " Shake- 
speare." William Shakspere of Stratford, we point 
out in passing, was a mere boy of fourteen at the time 
when Spenser's " Willie " makes his appearance in 
Elizabethan poetry. 

A rhyming On turning to the poems in " The Shepherd's 
match - Calender " we find that " Willie " figures prominently 

in two of them. Under the month of March his role 
is somewhat subordinate ; but under the month of 
August he appears in what is probably the most 
widely known and the best executed of the series ; 
having found its way into modern anthologies: its 
superior quality suggesting its being one of the latest 


composed of the set. This piece is neither more nor 
less than a verse-making contest between two rival 
poets named "Willie " and " Perigot." In view, there- 
fore, of the general character of the work, its deliberate 
representation of eminent contemporaries, taken along 
with the literary situation at that time, the poetic 
rivalry between Philip Sidney and the Earl of Oxford, 
there is, to begin with, something more than a mere 
presumption that the two rival poets, " Willie" and 
" Perigot," were Oxford and Sidney. We therefore 
ask the reader to recall Oxford's verse beginning 
" Were I a king," and Sidney's rejoinder " Wert 
thou a king," already quoted in this chapter : verses 
which, from subsequent developments, must have been 
written shortly before Spenser's poem was published. 
Then let him turn to this poem of Spenser's and read 
it with the other verse -making episode in mind. It 
plunges immediately by its opening lines into the 
cause of their antagonism. " Tell me, Perigot . . . 
wherefore with mine thou dare thy music match ? " 
And this he follows up with a further challenge whether 
" in rhymes with me thou dare strive." Then, as 
if to put the matter of identification beyond doubt, 
a third party called " Cuddy " is introduced as 
arbitrator, and he assumes office with the irrelevant 
remark : " What a judge were Cuddy for a king." 

If any doubt remained as to whether or not the Cuddy's 
two shepherds represented Oxford and Philip Sidney verses -' 
it ought to be quite removed by the closing part of 
the poem. After the competition, Cuddie must needs 
finish up with some " verses " which he claims to 
have got from Colin Clout (Spenser) . These are not 
even doggerel. In the place of rhymes he simply 
repeats the same words over and over again, and 


these, together with other words and phrases that 
make up the " verses," form but a verbal jumble 
composed of characteristic words from the poems of 
the two rival writers. To appreciate all the fun of 
Cuddie's lines one's mind must have been in some 
measure steeped in the two sets of poems. 

If, however, before reading Cuddy's " verses " the 
reader will turn to the last stanza quoted in the 
preceding chapter, and also note the few phrases we 
subjoin here from Oxford's and Sidney's early poems, 
he may be able to enter into the humour of Cuddy's 
" doleful verse." 

Oxford : 

" The more my plaints I do resound 

The less she pities me." 

" The trickling tears that fall adown my cheeks." 
" Help ye that are aye wont to wail, 

Ye howling hounds of hell. 
Help man, help beast, help birds and worms 
That on the earth do toil." 

Sidney : 

" Thus parting thus my chiefest part I part." 
" Alas, sweet brooks do in my tears augment." 
" A simple soul should breed so mixed woe." 
" Love . . . bred my smart." 

" Void," " House," " Bred," " Nature," are all 
words which seem to stand forth in Sidney's somewhat 
limited vocabulary. Even in the competition itself 
there is a frequent suggestion of the distinctive 
expressions of the two men. One example of each 
will suffice. 

From a poem by Sidney : 

" Such are these two, you scarce can tell 
Which is the dainter bonny belle." 


Spenser's poem : 

" I saw the bouncing bellibone 
Hey, ho, the bonnibell." 

From a poem by Oxford : 

" Patience perforce is such a pinching pain." 

Spenser's poem : 

" But whether in painful love I pine 
Hey, ho, the pinching pain." 

A careful weighing of this poem can leave but little An old 
doubt as to the identity of " Willie " and " Perigot " problem 

~ solved. 

with Oxford and Philip Sidney : the only question 
is whether " Willie " is Oxford or Sidney. If we 
associate the contest in Spenser's poem with Sidney's 
" matching " of Oxford's verse, as we may very 
reasonably do, then " Willie " is Oxford ; for it is 
Willie who finds fault with Perigot for matching his 
music and challenges him on that account to another 
matching of rhymes. 

This, then, is the position. The circumstances of 
Oxford fit in with and afford a very strong presump- 
tion of his being the historic prototype of Spenser's 
' Willie " in the early poem, " The Shepherd's 
Calender." Between the writing of this poem and 
the writing of the " Tears of the Muses " Oxford 
had been engaged in just those dramatic activities 
and had made his name in the precise department, 
Comedy, in which Spenser's " Willie " had evidently 
won renown. And at the time when " The Tears of 
the Muses " was written, Oxford had withdrawn 
apparently from dramatic activity and was seemingly 
" sitting in idle cell " precisely as Spenser describes 


" Willie " to be doing. Are we to believe that all 
this is a series of meaningless coincidences ? 

Minor points in corroboration of the theory that 
Oxford and Spenser's " Willie " are one and the same 
person may be noticed. The shepherd, " Willie," 
in the other poem in which he appears, remarks : 

" Alas ! at home I have a sire, 
A step dame eke as hot as fire 
That duly-a-days counts mine " (sheep). 

(Day by day keeps a close watch over me and my 
affairs). The reference to Oxford's domestic position, 
to the surveillance exercised by Burleigh, and to the 
irascible Lady Burleigh is obvious. Then in Spenser's 
sonnet to the Earl of Oxford, which occupies a 
prominent position amongst those with which he 
prefaces the " Fairie Queen," he puts special emphasis 
upon Oxford's ancient and noble lineage. We find 
the same note reflected in the verses in " The Tears 
of the Muses " referring to Willie, whom he represents 
as " scorning the boldness of base-born men." From 
this it is evident that " Willie " was not " base- 
born," but rather a man distinguished for his high 

Spenser's We have every reason to believe, then, that we have 

testimony. no t only solved the long-standing mystery of the 
" Willie " in " The Tears of the Muses," but have 
incidentally secured the testimony of no less an 
authority than the poet Spenser, that the powers of 
Edward de Vere were recognized to be such as to justify 
his being described in terms which are said to be only 
applicable to Shakespeare. The fact that a solution 
proposed for one problem furnishes incidentally a 
reasonable solution to another is additional evidence 
in its favour. The testimony is also valuable as 


showing that, notwithstanding the non-appearance of 
work avowedly from his pen, he had given evidence, 
not of a falling off, but of such a development of his 
powers as to create a marked impression in the mind 
of his great contemporary. It is evidence, too, that 
he had produced much more poetry than we have 
under his own name, for the few short lyrics can 
hardly be described as " large streams." The solution 
of this mystery enables us, moreover, to add another 
link to our chain of interesting evidence ; for we find 
that some important verses which are supposed by 
several writers to have reference to Shakespeare are 
found on examination actually to refer to Edward de 
Vere, Earl of Oxford ; whilst the personal description 
they give is strikingly suggestive of Berowne in "Love's 
Labour's Lost." Finally, the two sets of references, 
the one appearing in 1579 an d the other in 1590, link 
together the opening and the closing phases of this 
middle period of his life. The former presenting him 
as a poet, and the latter as a dramatist, together help 
to make good the claim we have made for him : that 
he is the personal embodiment of the great literary 
transition by which the lyric poetry of the earlier 
days of Queen Elizabeth's reign merged into the 
drama of her later years. Thus we get a sense both 
of the literary unity of the times, and of the great and 
consistent unity of his own career. 

Assuming that we have here the correct interpreta- Shakespeare 
tion of these allusions, there is every reason to believe and " wiu> 
that we have their counterpart in the writings of 
" Shakespeare." The two enigmatical sonnets in 
which he plays upon the word " will " finish with 
striding and emphatic sentence : 

''For my najne is Will," 


Had these words been written by a man whose real 
name was William, like the Stratford man, they would 
have been as puerile as anything in English literature. 
Had they contained a direct reference to his nom- 
de-plume they would have been only slightly better in 
this respect. We have good reasons, moreover, for 
supposing that the particular sonnets were written 
before the " Shakespeare " mask was assumed (1593). 
Whether this is so or not, the particular words quoted 
point, no doubt, to some hidden significance. If, then, 
we are permitted to suppose that Shakespeare was 
alluding to the " Willie " in the poems of the great 
contemporary, we shall have in these words nothing 
less than a direct confession from the great dramatist 
that he was none other than the Earl of Oxford. 
" Willie " Before leaving this point we must not overlook 

and Sidney. the statement made by Dean Church that Sidney had 
elsewhere been referred to as Willie. No reference 
is given, but we take it to be an allusion to a poem 
which appeared in Davison's "Poetical Rhapsody" 
(1602), another of the numerous miscellaneous 
collections of poetry in which much of the Elizabethan 
work has been preserved. There Sidney's death is 
mourned as the death of Willie. It is only in the 
first edition, however, that this appears ; in later 
editions this is altered, as though the writer or editors 
had had their attention drawn to a mistake a possible 
misreading of Spenser's earliest work whilst the 
following footnote by the modern editor appears : 
" I cannot recall any other poem in which the name 
Willie is given to Sidney." Although first appearing 
in 1602 it is mentioned that the poem had been written 
a long while ago. Being an obituary work it is 
natural to suppose that it was written shortly after 


the death of Sidney (1586). Seeing, then, that the 
writer of the poem would at that time have only the 
Shepherd's Calender to go upon, the mistake was 
partly excusable. The publication of " The Tears of 
the Muses " in 1590 would furnish the grounds for 
the subsequent correction of the mistake which had 
evidently been overlooked in the first printing. 

At the time when " The Tears of the Muses " was " in idle 

cell " 
published the Earl of Oxford did certainly appear to 

be sitting " in idle cell." It is not impossible that 
the poem of Spenser's may have revived his literary 
activity, or it may have been that he was even at the 
time deeply immersed in the literary work which was 
soon to burst upon the country. After such a prepara- 
tion as he had undergone, we believe that such freedom 
from practical work, as is implied in the words " to 
sit in idle cell," is just what was needed for the 
production of the Shakespearean dramas ; and places 
that production for the first time on a really rational 
basis. It remains, therefore, to consider the third or 
final stage of his career, that which synchronizes 
generally with the period of the appearance of these 

In bringing this chapter to a close we would urge 
the extreme importance of the matter it contains. 
The chapter in which we deal with the lyric poetry 
of Edward de Vere, and this chapter in which his 
dramatic relationships are examined, must, by the 
nature of the case, form the principal foundations of 
our constructive argument. 



BEFORE entering upon a consideration of the third 
and final period of De Vere's life it is necessary to 
touch upon a few circumstances belonging to the 
closing years of the second period, which form a kind 
of link with the third or last period. 

Queen In 1587 we get the last indications of Oxford's 

execution dramatic activities. Towards the end of the previous 

and sir Philip year Sir Philip Sidney, after enjoying his knighthood 

funeral. 5 for only three years, died four weeks after the battle 

at Zutphen in which he had been injured. At the 

time when Sidney was lying dying the trial of Mary 

Queen of Scots was proceeding in England, and on 

the commission appointed to try her was Edward de 

Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

Certain dates relative to the two events just 
mentioned must first be fixed. Mary appeared before 
the commission on the I4th of October, 1586, and 
received her sentence on October the 25th. Sidney 
died on the iyth of the same month ; that is to say 
a week before Mary received her sentence. Mary was 
executed on the 8th of February, 1587, that is to say 
three and a half months after receiving her sentence, 
and Sidney was buried on February i6th a week after 
Mary's execution. Roughly, Mary's sentence was 
pronounced at the time of Sidney's death and her 
execution took place at the time of Sidney's funeral, 



from three and a half to four months elapsing between 
the two pairs of events. 

It was, of course, an extraordinary length of time 
to keep Sidney's body awaiting interment. It is still 
more extraordinary that this period should exactly 
synchronize with that during which Elizabeth was 
hesitating about, and Burleigh and Walsingham 
were urging, the carrying out of the sentence against 
Mary. To this must be added the fact that the 
most determined and unscrupulous agent in bringing 
about Mary's execution was Sidney's father-in-law, 
Walsingham, and it was he, too, who was most actively 
concerned in arranging for the elaborately organized 
public funeral that was accorded to Sidney ; the 
latter affair entailing a call upon his private purse to 
the extent of no less than six thousand pounds, an 
enormous sum in those days, equivalent to about 
50,000 of our money. All this hardly looks like 
accidental coincidence. 

We draw attention to these facts because an 
appreciation of their bearing will help towards an 
understanding of the times in which Oxford lived, 
and the personalities with whom he had relationships. 

Mary's trial and execution is a reminder of the Thc 
fears entertained by politicians like Walsingham and politicians. 
Burleigh that a Roman Catholic revival might occur 
at any time in England, and that the accession of a 
Roman Catholic sovereign would mean for them ruin 
and possibly loss of life. Mary's execution was 
therefore determined on by them upon political 
grounds. The country generally could not be con- 
sidered wholeheartedly in favour of this step. The 
only people who really wished for Mary's execution 
were the politicians and the extreme Protestants ; 


and therefore much remained to be done after securing 
the sentence before it could safely be carried out. 
Burleigh's association with the puritans, his " brethren 
in Christ," it is quite understood rested on grounds of 
policy. They represented a serviceable force, and 
he was not the man to neglect anything that would 
further his purposes. As the execution of Mary 
had become a set purpose with him and Walsingham, 
the puritans and any party or circumstance, which 
could be used for the fostering of that public opinion 
upon which the most despotic of governments 
ultimately depends, must needs be turned to account. 
Sidney's Now, apart from political considerations, Sidney's 
sudden transformation into a national hero is one of 
the most curious of historical phenomena. We are 
not urging that he was not a worthy young man. 
We are quite willing to rest his case on the best that 
his friends have made out for him. Let us gram 
that he was the perfection of courtesy in his deport- 
ment, and that his conversation was attractive. Let 
us assume that the one chivalrous act recorded of him, 
the foregoing of a drink of water in the interests of a 
dying soldier, is true and was unparallelled in its 
unselfishness. Still, it is not for these things that 
people are accorded elaborate public funerals and 
their deaths lamented as national calamities. When 
it is asked what he actually accomplished in life, we 
begin to wonder at the great demonstration that was 
organized for the reception of his body in England, 
and later on for his interment. Neither in arms nor in 
statesmanship had he attained such a pre-eminence 
as is usual in the recipients of such state distinctions, 
whilst his achievements in literature, had they been 
as noteworthy as those of Spenser, would not have 


secured for him one half the national honour that 
attended his obsequies. We are naturally disposed, 
therefore, to look for some political motive behind the 
public demonstration and all the panegyrics that 
followed on it. 

Now Elizabeth's fear that the execution of Mary 
might result in a revulsion of public feeling against 
herself was so real as to cause her not only to delay 
the carrying out of the sentence but also to provide 
for shuffling the odium on to subordinate agents when 
the execution should have taken place. Burleigh 
and Walsingham were therefore not likely to be less 
sensible of their danger, and they, too, took steps 
to secure themselves against being saddled with the 
chief responsibility. Meanwhile a public opinion 
favourable to their purpose must be fostered by every 
available artifice. In those days " public opinion " 
meant to a great extent " London opinion " and in 
times of crisis this could be systematically stimulated 
and directed by spectacular displays. 

As Sidney had been a staunch supporter of the working 
anti-papal policy of Burleigh and Walsingham, a public 
policy including antagonism to the Guises ; having 
somewhat aggressively made himself the spokesman 
of those who thought they were opposing the Queen 
at the time when she was diplomatically toying with 
the idea of marriage with the Duke of Anjou ; and 
as his life had been lost in an adventure in support of 
the same anti-papal policy, his death, with its power 
of sentimental appeal, was a valuable asset to his 
party which Burleigh and Walsingham could not 
afford to neglect. The projected execution of Mary 
being part of the same policy which had led to the 
affair at Zutphen, Sidney's death was capable of being 


turned to account. His party now had the inestim- 
able good fortune of possessing a martyr, and this 
must needs be worked for all it was worth. 

The elaborately organized obsequies, so out of 
proportion to any recorded achievement of Sidney's, 
bears much more the appearance of political strategy 
than of merited honour : the politicians of any one 
period being strikingly similar to those of any other. 
It is the very excess of the demonstration joined to 
the fact that it did not come spontaneously from 
any public body but was worked up by interested 
individuals that places the whole business under 
suspicion. We cannot recall any other instance in 
which London went into mourning with the same 
6clat as it did for Sidney. The matter was well 
staged and the Sidney-mourning-fashion caught 
on. No blame can attach to the man himself for 
all this, but when we are asked to perpetuate the 
adulation we shall persist in asking, What did he do to 
merit it all ? The fame that he has enjoyed through- 
out history probably owes much to the factitious 
send-off that it got at this time, and to the fact that 
the movement and the party to which he belonged 
was then, and afterwards continued, in the ascendant. 
Oxford and Oxford, on the other hand, with his strong medieval 
affinities, was completely out of touch with the 
ascendant party, and his fame has suffered under a 
corresponding disadvantage. Indeed we may say 
that what he stood for remained under a cloud until 
the middle of the nineteenth century, when, through 
the combined influence of ' Shakespeare,' Scott, and 
Newman, a sense of what was admirable and enduring 
in medievalism began to revive. 
Protestant sectarianism was as contrary to his out- 


look upon life as it is to the wide genius of Shake- 
speare. On the other hand we cannot say confidently 
of Edward de Vere, any more than we can of Shake- 
speare, that he was an orthodox Roman Catholic. 
With the exception of the remark which we have 
quoted from Green we cannot discover any further 
evidence of his connection with the ancient Church. 
It is much more likely that his was the Catholicism 
of a universal Humanity, " with large discourse 
looking before and after," taking into itself the culture 
of Greece and Rome on the one hand, and on the other 
the visions that belong to a " prophetic soul of the 
wide world dreaming on things to come." We find 
no trace of medieval theologism in his poetry, nor 
any religious pietism such as that we have mentioned 
as appearing in the poems of Raleigh. Oxford's 
attachment was probably to the human and social 
sides of Catholicism and Feudalism, which he saw 
crumbling away and being supplanted by an un- 
bridled individualism and egoism. 

We have dwelt at some length upon Sidney's death oxford under 
and Mary's execution not only because Oxford's name a shadow - 
and reputation are mixed up with Sidney's affairs, and 
one of the few recorded acts of his life is connected 
with Mary, but also because the relationship we have 
traced between the celebrity of one and the execution 
of the other helps us to focus Oxford's religious and 
political environment, and to realize something of 
his relationship to contemporary parties. These 
things go a long way towards accounting for the 
obscurity into which the names of Oxford and his 
immediate associates have fallen as compared with 
his antagonists. It also accounts for the peculiar 
fact, which has probably struck most of our readers, 


that we seldom meet with his name except in connec- 
tion with opponents, thus giving the general impression 
of a man at loggerheads with every one excepting 
in certain literary and dramatic contacts. This compels 
us to examine closely the reputations of rivals and 
to modify any artifical advantages that they owe in 
this matter merely to the turns of fortune. Between 
Oxford and Sidney we see that there lay matters 
much deeper than the artistic vanity of rival poets. 
The two men represented opposing social tendencies, 
and to these are largely due the glamour that has 
gathered round one name and the shadow that has 
remained over the other. At the time of the French 
marriage proposal, which Burleigh, Sidney and their 
party opposed, Oxford had been one of those who 
favoured the project. One modern writer sees in this 
nothing more than an attempt on his part to win 
royal favour from all accounts the last thing he 
was likely to go out of his way to do. Only as 
we realize his spontaneous hostility to the social 
and political tendencies represented by Burleigh, 
Walsingham, Sidney, Raleigh and Fulke Greville 
shall we be able to judge him accurately or adjust 
ourselves properly to the Shakespeare problem. 
" Shake- The question which concerns us is whether Shake- 

Fiunce and P eare can De claimed as representing Oxford's attitude 
to contemporary religious and political movements 
or the attitude taken by the group of men we have 
just named. On the religious side we have already 
seen that their ultra-protestant tendencies meet 
with no support in Shakespeare, and in this 
Shakespeare and Oxford are at one. In continental 
policy the aim of Burleigh (and Sidney) was to keep 
open the breach between England and France. 


Oxford, as we have seen, favoured a policy of amity 
and alliance between the two countries. That this 
was " Shakespeare's " view is made quite clear in 
the closing scene of Henry V. where he expresses the 
wish " that the contending kingdoms 

" Of France and England, whose very shores look pale 
With envy of each other's happiness, 
May cease their hatred, and this dear conjunction 
Plant neighbourhood and Christian-like accord 
In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance 
His bleeding sword 'twixt England and fair France. 

" That never may ill office, or fell jealousy 
Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms. 
That English may as French, French Englishmen 
Receive each other." 

In international policy, then, Shakespeare and Oxford 
are again at one. 

How differently might the whole course of European Shakespeare 
history have unfolded itself if the policy of Shake- and 

, , ., , . , , ,, , ,, ,., . . politicians. 

speare had prevailed instead of that of the politicians 
of his time. Oxford's general relationship to those 
politicians, moreover, is most clearly reflected in the 
works of Shakespeare where the very word " politician " 
is a term of derision and contempt. 

" That skull had a tongue in it and could sing once ; 
how the knave jowls it to the ground as if it were Cain's 
jaw-bone that did the first murder I It might be the pate 
of a politician, one that would circumvent God, might it 
not ? " 

("Hamlet," V. i.) 

" Get thee glass eyes ; 
And, like a scurvy politician, seem 
To see the things thou dost not." 

("Lear," IV. 6.) 

We can imagine all his contempt for Burleigh 


running through the above lines, and the minister's 
pretended attachment to the growing force of 
puritanism, his "brethren in Christ," finds a counter- 
blast in the words, 

' ' Policy I hate : I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician ' ' 

("Twelfth Night ") 

an expression of contempt for both politicians and 
puritans. In a word, then, Shakespeare represents 
the Oxford point of view and not that of Oxford's 

Queen Mary There can be little doubt as to which side Oxford's 
sympathies would lean during the trial of Mary ; 
and so, when Burleigh, wishing to furnish himself 
with substantial authority for going forward with the 
execution, called together the ten men upon the 
authority of whose signatures he proceeded, Oxford 
was not one of the number. 

Again, we have nothing to do with the merits of the 
case in the matter of Mary's trial and execution ; 
but, as we read of her wonderfully brave and dignified 
bearing, and of her capable and unaided conduct of 
her own defence, we can quite believe that if the 
dramatist who wrote the " Merchant of Venice " 
was present at the trial of the Scottish Queen, with 

"ringlets, almost grey, once threads of living gold," 
(H. G. Bell" Mary Queen of Scots ") 

he had before him a worthy model for the fair Portia, 


' ' sunny locks 
Hung on her temples like a golden fleece." 

("Merchant of Venice," Act I, sc. i.) 

Of this trial Martin Hume says, " Mary defended 
herself with consummate ability before a tribunal 


almost entirely prejudiced against her. She was Mary's 
deprived of legal aid, without her papers and in ill 9pee 
health. In her argument with Burleigh she reached 
a point of touching eloquence which might have 
moved the hearts, though it did not convince the 
intellects, of her august judges." And, in a footnote, 
he quotes from Burleigh's letter to Davison, " Her 
intention was to move pity by long, artificial speeches." 
With this remark of Burleigh's in mind, let the reader 
weigh carefully the terms of Portia's speech on 
" Mercy," all turning upon conceptions of royal 
power, with its symbols the crown and the sceptre. 

' ' It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown. 
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, 
The attribute to awe and majesty, 
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. 
But mercy is above this sceptred sway ; 
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings ; 
It is an attribute to God Himself ; 
And earthly power doth then show likest God's 
When mercy seasons justice." 

Now let any one judge whether this speech is not 
vastly more appropriate to Mary Queen of Scots 
pleading her own cause before Burleigh, Walsingham, 
and indirectly the English Queen, than to an Italian 
lady pleading to an old Jew for the life of a merchant 
she had never seen before. Who, then, could have 
been better qualified for giving an idealized and 
poetical rendering of Mary's speeches than " the 
best of the courtier poets," who was a sympathetic 
listener to her pathetic and dignified appeals ? 

In February 1587 Mary Queen of Scots was be- 
headed, and this is the year in which we lose traces of 
Edward de Vere's connection with drama. It was 
a time of great stress and excitement in the country. 



and the 


The fear of a Spanish invasion lay heavily on the 
nation and preparations were in full swing to meet 
the expected Armada. Passing, as we of these days 
have done, through times of still greater stress, we 
can now quite see the allusion to England prior to 
the coming of the Armada in the following passage 
from Hamlet : 

"Tell me, he that knows, 

Why this same strict and most observant watch 
So nightly toils the subject of the land ; 
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, 
And foreign mart for implements of war ; 
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task 
Does not divide the Sunday from the week ; 
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste 
Doth make the night joint labourer with the day ? " 

Oxford, like many others who were out of sympathy 
with the policy of the government, nevertheless put 
aside all differences to join in the common cause of 
resisting the invader. As a volunteer he was 
permitted to join the navy, and took part in the 
great sea fight that scattered the Armada and delivered 
England from the fear of subjugation. 

The picture of Spain's immense war vessels sailing 
grandly up the Channel, flying past the English ships, 
many of them but small traders that rose and fell 
with each slight movement of the sea, is familiar now 
to every English boy and girl. It is worth remarking 
then that the same play of Shakespeare's which suggests 
the figure of Mary Queen of Scots contains also a 
picture suggestive of the contrast between the two 

" There where your argosies with portly sail, 
Like signiors and rich burghers of the flood, 
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea, 


Do overpeer the petty traffickers, 

That curtsey to them, do them reverence, 

As they fly by them with their woven wings." 

Then as we remember the disaster that befel some The Spanish 
of these huge vessels through the Spaniards' ignorance dlsaster - 
of the shoals and sandbanks round the English coast, 
we can see the picture of one of them, lying on her 
side with the top of her mast below the level of her 
hull, in the lines : 

" I should not see the sandy hour-glass run, 
But I should think of shallows and of flats, 
And see my wealthy Andrew, dock'd in sand, 
Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs 
To kiss her burial." 

. Quite what position the Earl of Oxford might have 
occupied on board ship it is not easy to imagine ; 
but we can well believe that as an intelligent though 
inexperienced seaman he would find considerable 
interest and occupation, in 

" Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads." 

The Earl was not a seafaring man, nor is there 
anything in the record of his life that suggests a 
special enthusiasm for the sea. The same is true 
of " Shakespeare " as revealed in his works as a whole, 
whilst the passages we have quoted indicate some 
slight but special experiences of a keen observer, who 
humanized everything on which his eye alighted ; not 
only the active vessels but even the battered wrecks 
seeming to him to possess a human personality. 

Associated with Oxford's experience of sea life Death of 
was the death of his wife. During the month preced- 
ing the appearance of the Armada Lady Oxford died, 
June 6th, 1588. What this may have meant to 


De Vere himself is a mystery which will probably 
never be quite solved, and which mankind would 
be content to pass over in silence if the Earl of Oxford 
were to remain for all time no more than what has 
been supposed hitherto. If, however, he comes to 
be universally acknowledged as Shakespeare, interest 
in the matter is certain to be revived, and we may 
find that in his rdle of dramatist he either answers 
our questions on the subject, or suggests some reason- 
able conjectures. 

Hamlet's sea experiences we observe stand in direct 
association with the death of Ophelia. It is whilst 
he is away that she dies. He returns at the time of 
her burial, and after the graveyard scene resumes 
with Horatio the discussion of his sea adventures. 
As, then, the attitude of Hamlet to Ophelia resembles 
in some particular that of Oxford to his wife, we may 
hope, at any rate, that, as " Shakespeare," he gives 
us in the famous graveyard scene a revelation of the 
true state of his affections : a supposition which even 
his conduct at the time of their rupture quite justifies. 

The death of Lady Oxford, and the subsidence of 
the national excitement in relation to the Spanish 
Armada, following, as they do, closely upon the last 
indications we have of his theatrical enterprises, may 
be taken as marking the time at which he began " to 
sit in idle cell," or the beginning of the third period 
of his life. 




" I THINK the best judgment not of this country only, 
but of Europe at large, is slowly pointing to the 
conclusion, that Shakespeare is the chief of all poets 
hitherto ; the greatest intellect who, in our recorded 
world, has left record of himself in the way of literature." 


We have now reached a stage in our argument at Dates, 
which the study of dates becomes of paramount 
importance. Indeed, we are tempted to think that the 
failure to appreciate the precise significance of certain 
dates has gone far towards preventing an earlier 
discovery of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. 
We can quite believe that other investigators have 
actually thought of the Earl of Oxford in connection 
with the problem, and have dismissed the idea because 
of certain chronological considerations, which may 
have been thought to stand in the way, but which, 
if carefully examined, would have actually been 
found to support and confirm the theory. If, there- 
fore, in this and succeeding chapters we dwell at some 
length on the question of dates, it is because what 
at first blush might give rise to doubts, when correctly 
estimated is found to furnish one of the strongest 



links in our chain of argument. When, then, we 
come to these chronological matters we ask for them 
a very close and patient attention. 

Material In entering upon the final and, as we believe, the 

difficulties. most important period in the life of Edward de Vere, 
we must first describe briefly the position in which 
he then found himself in respect to certain matters not 
directly literary. Although we have only the barest 
indications upon which to work, we judge that for 
the first two or three years of this period things were 
not going well with him. It is not improbable that 
the suspension of his dramatic activities was due, in 
part at any rate, to the exhaustion of his material 
resources. His tendency to spend lavishly is un- 
mistakable, and his play-acting and literary associates 
would provide an almost unlimited field for the 
exercise of his generosity. His own absorption in 
these interests must, moreover, have tended to place 
his financial affairs at the mercy of agents, and to 
throw them into confusion. To this must be added 
the almost royal state which he seems to have 
maintained in some respects. For at one point we 
get a glimpse of him travelling en famille with a 
retinue of twenty-eight servants. Suggestions of this 
kind of thing, we note in passing, are found in " The 
Taming of the Shrew," treated much more from the 
point of view of the master than of the servant. 
Land-gelling. The need for ready cash must often have been 
pressing, and this need he seems to have satisfied by 
selling estates " at ruinously low rates." Like the 
man with a " trick of melancholy " mentioned in 
" All's Well," he sold many " a goodly manor for a 
song," and possibly at the same time developed that 
contempt for " land-buyers " expressed by Hamlet 


in the grave-digging scene. It is interesting to notice 
that when lago, who, we have supposed, represented 
Oxford's receiver, urges upon one of his victims : 
" put money in thy purse ; " he meets immediately 
with the response, "I will sell my lands." What Oxford's 
exact financial position may have become we cannot 
say, but it was evidently very low, for we are told 
that, after Lady Oxford's death, Burleigh refused to 
give any further assistance to his son-in-law. The 
implication is, of course, that Burleigh had been 
assisting him before this. No particulars of such 
assistance are given, and we may perhaps be pardoned 
if we are somewhat sceptical upon the matter. In 
any case it must always be borne in mind that we 
depend chiefly upon Burleigh's own account of these 
things. It is clear, at any rate, that although one 
of the foremost of the aristocracy, and originally a 
man of great wealth, he had by the time of which we are 
now treating found himself in reduced circumstances. 

Like Bassanio in " The Merchant of Venice " he Second 
had seriously 

" disabled (his) estate, 

By something showing a more swelling port 
Than (his) . . . means would grant continuance." 

And, like Bassanio, he also, in some measure, repaired 
his fortunes by marriage with " a lady richly left." 
Whether, like Portia, she was " fair, and fairer than 
that word, of wondrous virtues " we are not told ; 
but if our theory of the authorship of the plays of 
Shakespeare is maintained, it is evident that the 
years he spent with her were to himself years of great 
productivity, whilst their importance in the history 
of the world's literature can hardly be overestimated. 
The exact date of this marriage is not given, but 


from the context we judge it to have taken place either 
at the end of 1591 or during 1592. 

As Sir Sidney Lee suggests that it is improbable 
that any of Shakespeare's plays made their appear- 
ance before 1592, we may take the marriage of Edward 
de Vere with Elizabeth Trentham as synchronizing 
with the advent of the Shakespearean dramas. If, 
however, we take 1590 as marking, in a general way, 
their first appearance, he would still have had two 
years of retirement after the events recorded in our 
last chapter by way of special preparation for his 
work; whilst if we take the year of his marriage as 
the real beginning he had the advantage of four years 
of retirement, preceded by a probable ten years, 
and a possible twelve years of active association with 
the drama quite a considerable and appropriate 
preparation for the work upon which he was entering. 
Seclusion. During part of the time immediately preceding 

his second marriage he was living in apartments in 
London ; an arrangement suggestive of that seclusion 
which we deem one of the essentials for the production 
of work of the distinctive character of Shakespeare's 
plays. For we must state here, what must be 
emphasized later, that the Shakespearean dramas, 
as we have them now, are not to be regarded as plays 
written specially to meet the demands of a company 
of actors. They are stage plays that have been converted 
into literature. This we hold to be their distinctive 
character, demanding in their author two distinct 
phases of activity, if not two completely separate 
periods of life for their production. And, for the 
production of such a literature as this, freedom from 
distractions is a most important condition. The 
seclusion of De Vere, which we believe Spenser at 

this very time to have been lamenting in the ' Tears 
of the Muses,' has all the appearance, therefore, of a 
condition imposed upon himself, as necessary to the 
fulfilment of his purpose. 

Now we must draw attention to what is probably An 
as significant a fact as any we have met. From the b 
time of his second marriage till the time of his death 
in 1604, the record we have of him is almost a complete 
blank. In Sir Sidney Lee's account of him one very 
short paragraph covers the whole of these twelve 
years. We are told that he was living in retirement : 
not, however, in the country, but in London or its 
suburb, Hackney, where, therefore, he would be in 
direct contact with the theatre life of Shoreditch and 
that great movement of dramatic and literary rebirth, 
so aptly described by Dean Church : but of which 
Spenser in 1590 had evidently detected no promise. 
Two public appearances alone are recorded of him 
during the whole of this time. But as even these 
were in the last two years of his life we have a period 
of ten years which may be considered void of all 
important record ; and the two events recorded of 
the last two years involve no appreciable encroach- 
ment upon his time and energies. 

This then is the position. In 1592 he is placed in A vital 
comfortable circumstances. He is just forty-two s y nchronism - 
years of age and therefore entering upon the period 
of the true maturity of his powers. He has behind 
him a poetic and a dramatic record of a most 
exceptional character. His poems are by far the 
most Shakespearean in quality and form of any of 
that time. His dramatic record places him in the 
forefront of play writers. Then a silence of an 
additional twelve years succeeds the four years of 


apparent idleness, and this twelve years of comfort and 
seclusion exactly corresponds to the period of the amaz- 
ing outpouring of the great Shakespearean dramas. 
Unless, therefore, we are to imagine the complete 
stultification of every taste and interest he had hither- 
to shown, he must have been, on any theory of Shake- 
spearean authorship, one of the most interested 
spectators of this culmination of Elizabethan literature, 
and he himself the natural connecting link between 
it and the past. Yet never for one moment does 
he appear in it all. His own record for these years 
is a blank, and " no specimens of his dramatic 
productions survive." 

In weighing evidence, in certain cases, what may 
be called negative evidence is frequently of a more 
compelling force than the more positive kind. If 
such a dramatic and literary outburst had had no 
original connection with De Vere it must inevitably 
have swept him within its influence. But the very 
man who had the greatest affinities with this particular 
type of production, and who, up to within a year or 
two of the first appearance of William Shakspere, had 
been amongst the foremost to encourage and patronize 
literary men, is never once heard of either in connec- 
tion with William Shakspere or the Shakespearean 
drama. So far as these momentous happenings in 
his own peculiar domain are concerned, he might 
have been supposed to have been already dead. 

We have, therefore, a most remarkable combination 
of silences ; a silence as to his own occupations during 
these important years, and a silence as to any 
manifestation of interest in a work which, under any 
circumstances, must have touched him deeply. We 
can only suppose that he did not wish be be seen in 


the matter ; and the only feasible explanation of 
such a wish is the theory of authorship we are now 
urging. As a matter of fact the real blank in his 
records, so far as any adequate occupation is concerned, 
is one of sixteen years ; from 1588 to 1604. This 
vast lacuna must now, we believe, be filled in by the 
Shakespearean literature. For he, who was supposed 
to be sitting in " idle cell," had already spoken of 
himself, in an early lyric, as one, 

" That never am less idle, lo ! 
Than when I am alone." 

We would add, at this point, certain particulars Residences 


respecting his domiciliation and life in or near theatres. 
London, that are not without interest in respect to 
our problem. He resided for some years at Canon 
Row, Westminster, and this would put him, by means 
of the ferry, in direct touch with theatrical activities 
on Bankside ; and thence, by an easy walk with 
Newington Butts, the scene of many of the 
dramatic activities of the Lord Admiral's company. 
This company is associated with the performance of 
plays by Marlowe, to whom " Shakespeare " acknow- 
ledges indebtedness. It also performed in the early 
years of this period plays bearing titles afterwards 
borne by " Shakespeare " plays. The following 
passage from a letter by one, Anthony Atkinson, 
showing us the Earl of Oxford in relationship with 
the Lord Admiral (Charles Howard of Emngham, 
Earl of Nottingham : of Spanish Armada fame) has 
some interest for us : 

" The Lord Admiral doth credit Captain Fenner, 
who excuses Elston and . . . the Earl of Oxenford 
sent word by Cawley that Elston was a dangerous 


man." The events do not concern us ; it is the mere 
fact of personal dealings which matters. 

Oxford's residence at Hackney, the London suburb 
immediately adjacent to Shoreditch, then the scene of 
Burbage's theatrical enterprises and the centre of 
the theatrical life of London, has already been 
mentioned. A somewhat more interesting detail 
concerns Bishopsgate : continuous with Shoreditch 
towards the south. Although, so far as we know, 
Oxford never resided in this district, we find him, 
in 1595, addressing a letter to Burleigh from Bishops- 
gate (Hatfield MSS.). Evidence points to William 
Shakspere being resident there at the time, and to 
his having next year removed to Southwark, which 
was soon to take the place of Shoreditch as the 
theatrical centre of London. 

Letters and Thus we see him moving quite close to the " Shake- 
cupations. gpg^^ WO rk, but never in it. Yet, during these 
years, his letters show unmistakably the clearness 
and vigour of his intellect. The published documents 
do not supply the full text in all cases, but little 
Shakespearean touches appear. 

" Words in faithful minds are tedious," is one 
expression, already quoted in our " Troilus " argument. 
" His shifts and jugglings are so gross and palpable," 
is another ; clearly suggestive of " this palpable gross 
play" in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (V. i) or 
" such juggling and such knavery " in Troilus and 
Cressida (II. 3). The letters are, for the most part, 
formal and businesslike ; but the poet's tendency to 
express himself in similes and metaphors is irrepressible. 
Not only is there abundant evidence of unimpaired 
mental power, there is also evidence of his being 
closely occupied with some work. A letter addressed 


to him by a member of another branch of the family, 
apologises, in a way which does not seem conventional, 
for breaking in upon his occupations ; so that, what- 
ever his pursuits may have been, he was not regarded, 
by those who were in a position to know, as a man 
spending his leisure altogether in amusements or 
in idleness. Yet, there is no external evidence, with 
one interesting exception, of his interesting himself in 
dramatic work of any kind during these years ; 
though, curiously enough, Meres as late on as 1598, 
when Oxford had apparently been dead to the 
dramatic world for ten years, places his name at the 
head of those dramatists who were " best for Comedy." 

One of the greatest obstacles to the acceptance of shake- 
our theory of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays spe fJ e 'f 
will be a certain established conception of the mode in production, 
which they were produced and issued ; a conception 
which arose of necessity out of the old theory. 
William Shakspere being but a young man at the 
time when the issue of the poems and plays began, 
and having to write, it is supposed, in order to supply 
the immediate needs of what has been unwarrantably 
called his company of play-actors, it has been necessary 
to assume that each play was begun, finished and 
staged, by itself, in a definite period of time, and 
that no sooner was this done in respect to one play 
than the next must be put in preparation. A man 
with no accumulated reserves, immersed, it is assumed, 
in all the business of directing his company, and 
building up his own private fortune at the same time, 
would be compelled to finish off, and have completely 
done with, each play-writing task just as it presented 
itself. This he is supposed to have accomplished in 
a manner which can only be described as miraculous. 


And, seeing the large number of plays which are 
understood to have existed before a certain date, not 
only could there be no intervals for recuperation and 
the freshening of his conceptions whilst the flood 
of dramas was at its height, but there has been a real 
difficulty in finding reasonable spaces of time for 
them all to be written. Consequently, the supposition 
that these plays were written by William Shakspere 
of Stratford involves the belief in a series of stupendous 
creative efforts within definitely assignable dates, and 
this conception of a fixed order of production, with 
settled dates for the different plays, from 1592 on- 
ward, the rapid succession of which betokened a 
genius of almost superhuman fecundity, is bound to 
follow us into the discussion of a theory of authorship 
to which it does not apply. 

Re-interpre- All the mass of data that has been collected with 
facts! 1 much labour respecting the first appearance of plays 

or the date of their registration or publication, comes 
to have a totally different significance, and indeed 
loses a large part of its value, when severed from 
the supposed miraculous productivity of the Stratford 
man. Perhaps its chief value may now consist in 
illustrating the folly of ever supposing that so 
prodigious an achievement could have taken place. 
Such a change in the personality and antecedents of 
the author as we now propose, alters the significance 
of all that Shakespearean erudition in which mere 
inference has been passed off as established fact, and 
demands a difficult revolution in mental attitude 
towards the question of the manner and times of the 
production of the work. 

What is necessary, in the first place, is to put aside 
all mere inference, to look at the facts that have been 


established respecting the issuing of the plays in the 
light of the quality and contents of the work, and 
to determine whether all these taken together are more 
suggestive of an author working under William Shak- 
spere's or Edward de Vere's conditions ; whether the 
work is suggestive of a hasty enforced production 
amid a multiplicity of other activities, or of pains- 
taking concentration of mind on the part of a writer 
relieved from material and other anxieties ; and 
whether it suggests a writer living as it were ," from hand 
to mouth " in the production of his dramas, or of one 
who began the issue with large reserves already in hand. 

In dealing with the dating of Shakespeare's plays, Dating the 
apart from the system of inferential dates that has P la y s - 
grown up around Shakespearean study, we stand 
on most uncertain ground. We have dates of the 
registration of certain works, dates of printing and 
publication, dates on which it is known that certain 
plays were performed, and we have contemporary 
lists of plays that show us that certain dramas were 
in existence at the time the lists were compiled ; but 
such a thing as an authoritative record of the actual 
writing of a play does not exist so far as is yet known. 
All that the facts bear witness to, is that some of the 
works existed at certain dates ; though whether they 
had existed five, ten, or twenty years before then is 
all a matter of conjecture conjecture which may 
be made very reliable when it concerns William 
Shakspere of Stratford, but which may be entirely 
astray when another author is substituted. Never- 
theless, if we accept in a general way the dates that 
have been assigned, we find that, starting with " Love's 
Labour's Lost " in 1590 or 1592 (the early years of 
Oxford's retirement) and finishing with Othello in 


1604 (the year of Oxford's death), we have in these 
an overwhelming preponderance of the greatest of the 
Shakespearean dramas. This is then succeeded by 
a period in which there is greater uncertainty attached 
to the suggested dates, and a larger admixture of non- 
Shakespearean work. For in these later years we 
are assured that the dramatist had reverted to an 
earlier practice of collaborating with others. 
Rate of What does seem clearly established, however, is 

issue. t j iat Curing the period of what may be called the 

main Shakespearean flood, two and sometimes three 
plays appeared in the course of a single year, at the 
same time that great poems like " Venus " and 
" Lucrece " were also making their appearance. 
Meanwhile revised and enlarged editions were appear- 
ing of plays that had already been issued. Sir Sidney 
Lee's statement that Shakspere had no hand in these 
various publishing operations we accept. The idea 
that the author had no hand in them we reject[entirely, 
as almost an outrage upon common sense. The two 
plays which are assigned to the years immediately 
following the death of Edward de Vere are " King 
Lear " and " Macbeth." If, then, we assume that 
these had not been played before (by no means a 
necessary concession) we may regard them as being 
in the hands of the actors when De Vere died. Includ- 
ing them, therefore, in the main period, we find that 
according to Professor Dowden's list, out of the thirty- 
seven dramas attributed to Shakespeare all but eight 
had already been produced, and even this small 
residue includes such works as " Henry VIII," 
" Timon of Athens " and " Pericles," which, in their 
present state, we might well imagine the author was 
not very eager to send forth. 


Upon the Stratf ordian view it is necessary, of course, The so-called 
to find spaces for the writing of what are called later plays. 
Shakespeare's later plays after the year 1604 ; for 
the whole of William Shakspere's time before that 
was fully, and more than fully occupied, and so we 
have, what must always have appeared something of 
an anomaly, the spectacle of the world's greatest 
dramatist, when but forty years of age, and after 
producing masterpieces like " Hamlet " and " Othello," 
resorting to a practice suited only to his literary 
nonage, that of collaborating with writers inferior 
to himself. No such necessity attaches to the 
supposition of Edward de Vere being the author of 
these later plays. His work during the years 1590- 
1604 would not consist entirely, or even chiefly, in 
the production of new plays for the stage ; and he 
would be under no necessity of working at a break- 
neck pace. In his case works issued after 1604 might 
have been not only begun but actually completed 
many years before ; and when we find that certain 
plays, issued after that date, were completed by 
other writers, the situation involves no such anomaly 
as belongs to the Stratf ordian view : that a living writer 
of first rank could so allow his own creations to be 
marred. The staging of his dramas would be to him 
only a secondary, though doubtless a fascinating 
consideration ; but he must have seen that he was 
doing something much greater than supplying con- 
temporary audiences with a few hours' amusement. 
To William Shakspere on the other hand, the provision 
of plays for his company of actors (assuming that he 
was responsible for its direction) would have made 
it impossible that he should, at any time, be producing 
dramas much in advance of their presentation on the 

Writing and 

Rapid issue. 


stage. In his case, therefore, the date of the actual 
writing of a play might be inferred with considerable 
certainty from the date of its appearing. 

The writer of these dramas must have known that 
what he was giving to the world was destined to live 
primarily as literature, or, more precisely, as poetry. 
He might, therefore, in pursuance of such a purpose 
have chosen, except for material considerations, to 
have had every one of his works published post- 
humously. This hypothesis enables us to see that 
in such work dates of publication have no necessary 
correspondence with dates of writing, and makes us 
realize how completely all inferences with regard to 
the years in which the several plays were written 
may be upset by the substitution of another author 
for William Shakspere of Stratford. In the case of 
Lyly's plays, for example, we have seen that in some 
cases many years, and in all cases a number of years 
intervened between the writing and the publica- 

By way of illustrating the strange but inevitable 
results of attributing the works to the Stratford man, 
we shall take a particular period and consider the 
writings assigned to it. Although the Shakespearean 
dramas had been appearing since 1590 or 1592, it was 
not until the year 1598 that any of them appeared 
with Shakespeare's name attached : in itself a curious 
and suspicious fact. It may have no significance, 
but we mention in passing that this is the year of 
Burleigh's death and also the year following the death 
of James Burbage who had staged the first " Shake- 
speare " plays. Oxford, we have said, died in 1604. 
In the six years intervening between these two dates, 
according to Professor Dowden's classification of 


Shakespeare's plays, William Shakspere wrote all 
the following : 

1. The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

2. Much Ado about Nothing. 

3. As you like it. 

4. Twelfth Night. 

5. All's Well that Ends Well. 

6. Measure for Measure. 

7. Troilus and Cressida. 

8. Henry IV. (part 2). 

9. Henry V. 

10. Julius Caesar. 

11. Hamlet. 

12. Othello. 

Nor had this followed upon a period of rest ; for, 
according to particulars we have compiled from the 
Biographical Notes to the Falstaff Edition of Shake- 
speare, during the preceding year (1597) he had 
written two new plays and published three others that 
had been previously acted. 

In addition to all the new work produced in these 
few years the same Notes represent him as having 
also published for the first time : 

1. The Merchant of Venice. 

2. A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

There was also published a " newly corrected and 
augmented" edition of "Love's Labour's Lost"; at 
least one other edition of " Hamlet " ; (which was 
also revised and augmented) ; two fresh editions of 
" Henry IV," part i ; a second edition of " A 
Midsummer Night's Dream " ; a new edition of 
" Richard II," two new editions of " Richard III " 
and a new edition of " Romeo and Juliet." 


A literary When every allowance has been made for a fair 
proportion of those pirated and surreptitious issues 
which has characterized Shakespearean publication, 
and also for mere reprints, in which the author may 
have had no hand, it will still be admitted that the 
output was enormous. 

If he had done nothing more than write the twelve new 
plays, even supposing they had been mere ephemeral 
things intended only for the stage, the achievement 
would have been extraordinary. When, however, 
we turn from quantity to the consideration of literary 
quality, it is difficult to understand how such an 
accomplishment could ever have been credited. Yet 
all this new creative work is supposed to have been 
produced pari passu with an extraordinary amount 
of other literary labour in the issue of new editions 
of former plays, much administrative work connected 
with the direction of the company, the more material 
occupations of land and property speculations and 
litigation, entailing much mental distraction and the 
consumption of time and energy in journeys between 
London and Stratford. This, we make bold to claim, 
constitutes a complete reductio ad absurdum of the 
Stratfordian theory of authorship. 

A rational It is much more reasonable, then, to suppose that 
performance. w j ia t wa s actually happening in these six years, was 
the speeding up of the finishing-of! process, as though 
the writer were either acting under a premonition that 
his end was approaching, or the time had now arrived 
for giving to the world a literature at which he had 
been working during the whole of his previous life. 
Everything suggests the rushing out of supplies from 
a large accumulated stock ; and, therefore, instead 
of seeing any difficulty in the appearing of other 


Shakespearean plays after the death of De Vere, 
it is a matter of surprise that, according to the dates 
that have been assigned to the plays by the best 
authorities, so small a proportion of the purely 
Shakespearean work remained to be presented. (We 
are not now speaking of its being actually printed : 
this is another matter which must be discussed later.) 
At the same time, we are struck with the amount of 
doubtful and collaborated work which is assigned to 
the period subsequent to De Vere's death. Certainly 
the last seven or eight years of De Vere's life are, 
according to the orthodox dating, marked by an 
extraordinary output of Shakespeare's plays, whilst 
his death marks an equally striking arrest in the 
issuing, printing and reprinting of these dramas. 

The above considerations ought to prepare us for Dramatic 
a complete break-up of the seriatim conception of the Reserves - 
creation of the " Shakespeare " dramas. We have 
laboured the point because of the difficulty of the 
mental revolution involved. If we assume an author 
who for ten or twelve years had been actively occupied 
with theatre work ; whose great wealth had been 
spent ungrudgingly upon it, engaging talented and 
educated men to assist him and to relieve him of much 
of the drudgery of theatre management ; thus leaving 
him free to concentrate his distinctive powers upon 
the literary part of the work ; then, with the literary 
capital he had thus amassed, beginning another period 
of fourteen to sixteen years of comparative quiet and 
seclusion, in which to give a higher finish to plays 
already written, as well, possibly, as to produce new 
works, the whole aspect of the issue of this literature 
becomes changed. To all the advantages of education 
and association with the highest classes of society, 


Edward de Vere was by this time able to bring to 
the task, on the one hand these stores of dramas 
which are supposed to have perished, and on the 
other hand the maturity of his own mental powers, 
as well as poetic gifts of a high order that had been 
amply exercised. Contrasted with the Stratfordian 
view or any other theory of authorship yet pro- 
pounded, the supposition that Edward de Vere is 
" Shakespeare " places the appearance of this literature 
for the first time within the category of natural and 
human achievements. 

That " Shakespeare " had this faculty of secretive- 
ness and reserve in respect to the production of great 
masterpieces holding them back until either they 
were fit or the time opportune for their issue is no 
mere guesswork. He tells us so in the plainest terms. 
For he had already been putting great dramas before 
the public when he published the poetic masterpiece 
which he calls " the first heir of (his) invention." 
Evidently then, according to his own account, it had 
lain in manuscript for years before its appearance. 
William Shakspere is supposed to have produced it 
before he left Stratford, and, as it was not published 
until 1593, even he must be supposed to have it by 
him for a number of years. And as " Lucrece " 
was published the following year, it too, must have 
been well advanced at the time when " Venus " 

Habits of Everything points to " Shakespeare " being given 
to storing, elaborating, and steadily perfecting his 
productions before issuing them, when his mind was 
bent on producing something worthy of his powers. 
" Love's Labour's Lost," which is placed somewhere 
between 1590 and 1592, was not issued in its final 


form until 1598, and every line of it bears marks of 
most careful and exacting revision. " Hamlet," too, 
there is evidence, underwent similiar treatment. 
How it could ever have been believed that the finished 
lines of Shakespeare were the rapid and enforced 
production of a man immersed in many affairs, will 
probably be one of the wonders of the future. Every- 
thing bespeaks the loving and leisurely revision of 
a writer free from all external pressure ; and this, 
combined with the amazing rapidity of issue, confirms 
the impression of " a long foreground somewhere." 

Andrew Lang, in his posthumously published work DC Vere a 
on "Shakespeare and the Great Unknown," finds P r ecisionist. 
an argument in favour of the rapidity of Shake- 
spearean production in a comparison with the literary 
output of Scott. He ought, rather, to have found 
in Scott a warning example of the consequences of 
rapid writing ; and, by contrast with Scott's verbosity, 
have found in Shakespeare's compression a clear 
evidence of the latter's careful and persistent elabora- 
tion of his lines. Now this tendency to revert to 
his work in order to further improve it, is typical of 
Edward de Vere. Variant copies of his small lyrics 
are extant, and these furnish unquestionable proof 
that he was accustomed to turn back to poems, 
even after their publication, in order to enrich and 
perfect them. He was a precisionist the very ease and 
lucidity of whose lines was the consummation of an 
art which hid its own laboriousness. His nicety in 
speech and that careful attention to details of personal 
dress which frequently marks the man who strives 
after exactness, were, indeed, the subject of Gabriel 
Harvey's lampoon. These things may justify us 
in supposing carefulness in a detail like penmanship. 


Penmanship. His handwriting is accessible and this surmise may 
be put to the test. Now we know that Shakespeare's 
MSS. for the use of the printers were clearly written, 
and a passage in " Hamlet " points to its being a 
detail to which the author was attentive. As, there- 
fore, there are some very strange mysteries connected 
with the Shakespearean manuscripts, it is quite 
possible that the dangers of his handwriting being 
recognized may have determined their strict custody 
until everything was printed, and that then the 
writings themselves were deliberately destroyed. We 
shall naturally, therefore, be interested to know 
whether any of the interpolations into Anthony 
Munday's play seem to be in the handwriting of the 
Earl of Oxford. 

Stage plays The question of the relationship of stage plays to 
literature literature is one which touches our problem very 
closely. That the two things are quite distinct in 
themselves from a certain point of view is evident on 
the face of it. When the audience in a theatre wishes 
to see the unravelling of a plot, with all its en- 
tanglements in external circumstances and in the 
complexities of human nature, the elements of novelty, 
suspense and surprise must enter very largely into 
the performance. This need of a continued succession 
of sensations demands a bold and broad treatment ; 
the deeper effects being attained not by the subtleties 
of condensed sentences, which rest but a moment in 
the mind, but by the total and general impression 
conveyed by whole situations. 

It would therefore be an irrational and wasteful 
expenditure of force to put into a play intended 
primarily to meet the theatre-goer's demand for 
recreative novelty and sensation, a large amount 


of carefully elaborated detail and subtlety of thought, 
which could only be appreciated after reflection and 
long continued familiarity. To pack with weighty 
significance each syllable of a work meant only to 
amuse or to supply thrills for two or three hours 
would, moreover, defeat its own ends. On the other 
hand, the amplified form of statement, so necessary 
with spoken words in handling novel situations, 
becomes tedious in printed utterances intended to 
endure and be pondered over. These considerations 
by no means exhaust the question of the distinction 
between mere "stage plays and dramatic literature. 
They are intended merely to emphasize the distinction 
and are sufficient for that purpose. 

When, therefore, familiar dramatic literature is " shake- 
staged, as it may very properly be, it owes its interest 
on the stage to entirely different considerations, and 
makes its appeal, if not to a different set of people, 
at any rate to a different phase of their mental 
activities from what an ordinary stage play does. 
The true purpose of such a stage setting is to offer an 
exposition of the literature, to which it is itself 
subordinate. The frequently repeated remark that 
" Shakespeare does not pay on the stage," instead of 
being taken as a reflection upon the public taste, 
ought to indicate that there is some fundamental 
difference between Shakespeare's and the other plays 
with which they are put into competition ; and that 
these great English dramas are being viewed in a 
wrong light, and sometimes, possibly, put to a use for 
which they are not altogether suited. 

The fact is that his matchless lines, crowded with 
matter and intellectual refinements, demand not only 
maturity of mind in the auditor, but a willingness 





to turn again and again to the same passages, the 
significance of which expands with every enlargement 
of life's experiences. This is one reason why, in order 
to enjoy fully the best contents of a play of Shake- 
speare's on the stage, it is necessary first to have read 
it ; and the more familiar one is with it beforehand the 
greater becomes the intellectual enjoyment, if the 
play is at all capably handled. In this case the acting 
becomes a kind of commentary on the literature ; 
a work of interpretation, bringing to the surface and 
unfolding its deeper significance. On the other hand, 
to have read and become familiar with many an 
ordinary stage play before seeing it would diminish 
interest in the performance. This implies no necessary 
slight upon these productions, but is meant merely 
to draw into clearer light the radical difference between 
those plays and the plays of " Shakespeare." When 
writings have taken the form and won the position of 
the latter, they cease to be the special possession of 
play-goers and actors, and take their place amongst 
the imperishable treasures of literature. 

Notwithstanding this fact, it yet remains true that, 
even as stage-plays, Shakespeare's dramas have been 
made to do yeoman service, and will no doubt continue 
to do so. Superb literature though his masterpieces 
undoubtedly are, they nevertheless rest upon a 
foundation of real stage play. And when this is 
brought into prominence, embellished with touches 
of his literary workmanship, effective results can 
be secured. It is almost absurd to have to emphasize 
the fact that the writing of even a very moderate 
stage play demands something more than literary 
capacity. The production of such work is a highly 
technical matter, requiring an easy familiarity with 

all the mechanism of stage directions, and the adjust- 
ments of " entrances " and " exits " ; and this would 
be specially so in those early days of dramatic pioneering. 
Now, it is the unique combination of this technical 
and spectacular quality with their supreme literary 
position, that gives to Shakespeare's writings, one, 
at least, of their distinctive features. Without unduly 
labouring the point it will be necessary to determine 
the relationship which these two elements bear to 
each other in his most finished productions. Here, 
however, we may say that mankind has already 
settled the question for us. For it is upon their 
merits as literature, that the fame and immortality 
of Shakespeare's dramas rest. Though the writer's 
first aim may have been to produce a perfect drama 
for stage purposes, in the course of his labours, by 
dint of infinite pains and the nature of his own genius, 
he produced a literature which has overshadowed the 
stage-play. It is difficult, therefore, to imagine that 
the relationship of these two elements in the same 
work represents a simultaneous product. And if 
we must choose between the theory of their being 
literature converted into plays, or plays converted 
into literature, on a review of the work no competent 
judge would hesitate to pronounce in favour of the 
latter supposition. 

We feel justified in claiming then that the best of 
the dramas passed through two distinct phases, being 
originally stage-plays doubtless of a high literary 
quality which were subsequently transformed into 
the supreme literature of the nation. We further 
claim that the man who had the capacity to do this 
had the intelligence to know exactly what he was 
doing ; and having created this literature he was not 


likely to have become so indifferent to its fate as he 
is represented by the Stratfordian tradition. 
Plays as Keeping in mind that our chief purpose at present 

is to see to what extent traces of the personality and 
life of Edward de Vere may be detected in the work 
of Shakespeare, we shall first summarize the position 
as it stands from the literary point of view at the 
opening of this third period. Having in his early 
years earned the distinction of being " the best of the 
courtier poets of the early days of Queen Elizabeth's 
reign," and having then passed through a middle 
period occupied largely with work in connection with 
the drama, in which he earned the further distinction 
of being "among the best in comedy" which must 
not be interpreted as meaning that he had confined 
himself to this domain he enters in the maturity 
of his powers upon a third period, the longest of all. 
Of this period little is known : but what we do 
know is that the conditions of his life at the time 
were precisely those which would lead a poet of such 
powers to work upon his stores of incompleted dramas, 
giving them a more poetic form and a higher poetic 
finish. Are, then, the plays of Shakespeare such as to 
warrant the supposition of their having been produced 
in this way ? Do they look like the work of one 
whose chief interest was to keep a theatre business 
going, or of one who was primarily a poet, not only 
in the large and general sense, but in the special and 
technical sense of an artist in words, making music 
out of the vocal qualities and cadences of speech ? 

Again, to ask the question is to answer it. It is 
not only the number and quality of the lyrics scattered 
throughout the dramas that give to Shakespeare his 
high position as a poet ; it is the poetry of the actual 


body of the dramas themselves, blank verse and 
rhyme alike, that determines his position. It is 
here that we have the poetry which raises its author 
to honours which he shares with Homer and Dante 
alone. Several of the plays can hardly be described 
otherwise than as collections of poems ingeniously 
woven together ; and, to conceive of one such play 
being written as a continuous exercise, starting with 
the first scene of the first act, and ending with the 
last " exeunt," is an almost impossible supposition. 
Everything is much more suggestive of a poet creating 
his varied passages out of the multiplicity of his own 
moods and experiences; and incorporating these into 
suitable parts of his different plays : afterwards putting 
them through a final process of adjusting the parts, 
and trimming and enriching the verse. 

Now of all the men we have had occasion to pass The work 
in review in the course of the investigations of which and the man ' 
we are now treating, we have met no one who could 
be considered as in any way fulfilling in his person 
and external circumstances the necessary conditions 
for performing such a work at this particular time 
as does Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

Take the single play of " Love's Labour's Lost," 
examine the exquisite workmanship put into the 
versification alone, and it becomes impossible to 
think of it as coming from " a young man in a hurry " 
to make plays and money. Think of it as coming 
from a man between the ages of forty and fifty-four, 
working in retirement, leisurely, under no sense of 
pressure or material necessities, upon work he had 
held in the rough, more or less, for several years, and 
there immediately arises a sense of correspondence 
between the workman and his work. It is not 


improbable that for the production of such work as 
he aimed at, he felt the necessity of seclusion, and a 
freedom from a sense of working under the public 
eye ; and this may have been not the least of the 
motives that led him to adopt and preserve his mask. 
Whether this was so or not, there can be no doubt 
that during these years in which there was the largest 
outpouring of the great drama-poems, Edward de Vere 
was placed in circumstances more favourable to their 
production than any other man of the period of whom 
we have been able to learn. 

Henry Such, then, are the activities which there is every 

Wnothesiey reason to believe filled up the years which are at once 

a personal . 

link. the years of his maturity and the years of his retire- 

ment. For nine years after his marriage no public 
appearance is recorded of him ; and then the silence 
is broken in a manner as significant to our present 
business as anything with which we have met. As 
far back as 1593, " Shakespeare " had dedicated to 
the Earl of Southampton his first lengthy poem, 
" Venus and Adonis." In the following year he had 
repeated the honour in more affectionate terms in 
issuing his " Lucrece." In the year 1601 there took 
place the ill-fated insurrection under the Earl of 
Essex ; an insurrection which its leaders stoutly 
maintained was aimed, not at the throne, but at the 
politicians, amongst whom Robert Cecil, son of 
Burleigh, was now prominent. Whether Edward de 
Vere approved of the rising or not, it certainly 
represented social and political forces with which 
he was in sympathy. We find, then, that the company 
of actors supposed to be managed by William 
Shakspere, and occupied largely with staging Shake- 
speare's plays, the Lord Chamberlain's company was 





implicated in the rising through the Earl of 
Southampton's agency. 

In order to stir up London and to influence the Helping the 
public mind in a direction favourable to the over- ^Section, 
turning of those in authority, the company gave 
a performance of " Richard II," the Earl of Southamp- 
ton subsidizing the players. In the rising itself 
Southampton took an active part. Upon its collapse 
he was tried for treason along with its leader Essex ; 
and it was then that Edward de Vere emerged from 
his retirement for the first time for nine years to take 
his position amongst the twenty-five peers who 
constituted the tribual before whom Essex and 
Southampton were to be tried. It is certainly a 
most important fact in connection with our argument 
that this outstanding action of Oxford's later years 
should be in connection with the one contemporary 
that " Shakespeare " has immortalized. Considering 
the direction in which his sympathies lay, his coming 
forward at that time only admits of one explanation. 
The forces arrayed against the Earl of Essex were 
much too powerful, and he suffered the extreme 
penalty. Sentence was also passed on Southampton 
but was commuted, and he suffered imprisonment 
until the end of the reign now not far off. It is 
somewhat curious that although "Shakspere's company " 
had been implicated, he was not prosecuted or other- 
wise drawn into the trouble and his fortunes seem 
to have suffered no setback. 

The special interest of this is that it gives us the The first 
first suggestion of a direct personal connection between connecti on. 
Edward de Vere and the performance of Shakespeare's 
plays through Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of 
Southampton ; for it clearly indicates an interest on 


the part of De Vere in the very man to whom " Shake- 
speare " had dedicated important poems. As it 
was only with difficulty that Wriothesley's friends 
were able to save his life, it is possible, therefore, that 
he owed much to Oxford's influence. His liberation 
immediately on the accession of James I may also 
have owed something to Oxford's intervention ; for 
the latter's attitude to Mary Queen of Scots must 
have had some weight with her son, and his position 
as Great Chamberlain, the functions of which he 
exercised at James's coronation, would place him 
immediately into intimate relationship with the king. 
His officiating at this important function is the last 
recorded public appearance of the subject of these 

De Vere's As in investigations of this kind trifles may prove 
son and heir, 51^1^3^ > we mav point out that just at the time 
when " Shakespeare " was dedicating his great poems 
to Henry Wriothesley, and, in the opinion of many, 
addressing to him some of the tenderest sonnets that 
one man ever addressed to another, Edward de Vere's 
only son was born. Now, we have mentioned that 
De Vere was proud of his descent, and also that the 
De Veres had come down in a succession of Aubreys, 
Johns, and Roberts for centuries almost like a royal 
dynasty. We should naturally have expected, there- 
fore, that he would have given to his only son 
one of the great family names. Yet, in all the 
centuries of the De Veres, there is but one " Henry" ; 
Henry, the son of Edward de Vere, born at the very 
time when " Shakespeare " was dedicating great 
poems to Henry Wriothesley. The metaphor of 
" The first heir," which occurs in the short dedication 
of " Venus and Adonis " to Wriothesley, would also 


be specially apposite to the circumstances of the 
time ; and as " Shakespeare " speaks of Southampton 
as the " godfather " of " the first heir of my 
invention," it would certainly be interesting to know 
whether Henry Wriothesley was godfather to Oxford's 
heir, Henry de Vere. It is not necessary to our 
argument that he should have been, but if it be found 
that he actually held that position the inference 
would be obvious and conclusive. We have dis- 
covered a reference to the baptism as having taken 
place at Stoke Newington, so that it ought not to be 
impossible to find out who the sponsors were. 

If the reader will further examine the sonnets 
round about the one which makes reference to the 
" dedication " he will probably be surprised at the 
number of allusions to childbirth. 

As it is part of our task to indicate something of Contem- 


the parties and personal relationships of those days parties and 

we have pointed out the spontaneous affinity of ^ e n msurrec " 

Oxford with the younger Earls of Essex and 

Southampton, all three of whom having being royal 

wards under the guardianship of Burleigh, were 

most hostile to the Cecil influence at Cqurt. On the 

other hand, we have Raleigh along with Robert Cecil 

representing the force which Essex wished to oust. 

Of Raleigh we must point out, in relation to the Essex 

rising, that so malicious had been his attitude, both at 

the time of the Earl's prosecution and even in the 

moment of the latter's execution, that he brought 

upon himself the odium of the populace. It appears 

that when Cecil was disposed to relent in relation to 

Essex, Raleigh was most insistent for his punishment ; 

and when the unfortunate Earl had won the Queen's 

consent to an execution in private, Raleigh made it 


his business ^to be a spectator of his enemy's 

The conduct of Francis Bacon, too, had been even 
more indecent than had been that of his uncle 
Burleigh towards Somerset. It is interesting to note, 
therefore, that the fortunes of the two men whose 
conduct was most open to censure in this matter 
suffered complete collapse in the course of the following 
reign ; the publicity of Raleigh's execution being a 
fitting punishment for his unseemly intrusion upon 
the privacy of the execution of Essex. It is necessary 
to point out these things if we are to have a correct 
judgment of the men with whom the Earl of Oxford 
had to deal, and upon the strength of whose relation- 
ships with Oxford most of the impressions of him 
met with in books have evidently been formed. 
Trial of the Whatever opinions may be held about these things, 

Earl of Essex Qf yiew Q | thfi p ro bl em o f 

Shakespearean authorship, that the famous trial of 
the Earl of Essex assumes quite a thrilling interest. 
Standing before the judges was the only living 
personality that " Shakespeare " has openly connected 
with the issue of his works, and towards whom he 
has publicly expressed affection : Henry Wriothesley. 
The most powerful force at work in seeking to bring 
about the destruction of the accused was the possessor 
of the greatest intellect that has appeared in English 
philosophy : one to whom in modern times has actually 
been attributed the authorship of Shakespeare's plays 
Francis Bacon. And sitting on the benches amongst 
the judges was none other, we believe, than the real 
" Shakespeare " himself, intent on saving, if possible, 
one of the very men whom Bacon was seeking to destroy. 
Some artist of the future surely will find here a theme 


to fire his enthusiasm and furnish scope for his genius 
and ambition. 

Before leaving the question of the rebellion and Bacon, 
trial of the Earl of Essex we shall barely draw attention t " 
to an aspect of it which affects a theory of Shake- xf ord 
pearean authorship that we have not deemed necessary 
to discuss at any length. The conduct of Francis 
Bacon in respect to the trial of Essex has been dis- 
cussed ad nauseam and is therefore too well known 
to need describing. Nor is it our business to enter 
into the ethics of his action. It is wholly incredible, 
however, that he could have been working secretly 
as a playwriter hand in glove with the very dramatic 
company that was implicated in the rising, and that 
one of his plays should have been employed as an 
instrument in the business. Again, something is 
known of the nature of Bacon's previous friendship 
with the Earl of Essex ; but, however cordial it may 
have been, it is quite on a lower plane as compared 
with " Shakespeare's" feelings towards Southampton. 
The terms in which the dramatist addresses the 
nobleman who was being tried along with Essex 
are those of personal endearment, and we must hope, 
for the credit of human nature, that to all the treachery 
implied in the idea of turning upon a friend whose 
insurrection had been assisted by his own drama 
and dramatic associates (according to the Baconian 
theory) it was impossible that he could have added 
the heartlessness of prosecuting one, his love for whom 
he had already immortalized by his poems. 

Nor should we like to think that the very man, 
whom he had immortalized in this way, could in turn 
have so delighted in wounding him and in seeking his 
downfall. For the Earl of Southampton was amongst 


those who sought and ultimately brought about the 
downfall of Lord Bacon. If, to this, we add that the 
most of " Shakespeare's " sonnets are supposed to 
be addressed to the Earl of Southampton, and that 
these were put into circulation without protest 
seven years after the trial, at a time when the feeling 
of Southampton towards Bacon was very bitter, we 
have as tumbled a moral situation as it is possible to 
conceive if we suppose that Bacon was " Shakespeare." 
The decisive answer to the Baconian theory, therefore, 
it seems to us, is Henry Wriothesley. 

Wriothes- Moreover, Southampton's interest in William 

Shakspere and the Shakespearean plays suffered no 
decline as a result of his trial and imprisonment ; 
for we find him immediately upon his liberation 
arranging for a private performance of " Love's 
Labour's Lost " for the entertainment of the new 
Queen ; a most unlikely thing for him to have done 
if its author had been a former friend who had 
treacherously sought to destroy him. On the other 
hand, unless the Lord Great Chamberlain " one of 
the best in comedy " who had recently shown an 
interest both in Southampton and the new occupants 
of the throne was physically incapable of being present, 
it is safe to assume, apart from the special theories 
we are now advancing, that he would be amongst the 
select party of spectators at the performance in 
Wriothesley 's house. A more striking fact connecting 
the Earl of Southampton directly with Edward de 
Vere and the work of " Shakespeare," we reserve 
for the chapter in which we shall have to review 
Shakespeare's Sonnets in relation to our argument. 
The mention of the change that had taken place in 
the occupancy of the English throne suggests a most 


significant fact in connection with our problem. " shake- 
When Queen Elizabeth died, the poets of the day, spf f " 

J and Queen 

who had loaded her with most absurd flattery during Elizabeth's 
her lifetime, naturally vied with one another in doing 
honour to the departed monarch. We have else- 
where remarked that we have no single line of De Vere's 
paying compliments to Elizabeth, either during her 
lifetime or after her death ; a fact which arouses no 
great surprise. A similar absence of any word of 
praise from the pen of Shakespeare has, however, 
always been a matter of considerable surprise. His 
silence upon the subject of the Queen's death provoked 
comment among his contemporaries, and Chettle, 
the personal " friend " of William Shakspere, made 
a direct appeal to him under the name of Melicert to, 

" Drop from his honeyed muse one sable tear 
To mourn her death that graced her desert." 

This personal intimacy of Chettle and Shakspere, 
we remark in passing, is another Stratfordian 
supposition, for which there is no sufficient warrant ; 
and that Chettle's " Melicert " was Shakspere is only 
another surmise. 

The honeyed muse was at any rate unresponsive, 
and no " sable tear " appeared. Considering the 
whole circumstances of William Shakspere's supposed 
rapid rise and early access to royal favour, it is 
difficult to account for his silence at such a time on 
any other supposition than that he did not write 
because he could not : whilst the man whose instrument 
he was, was not disposed to write verses for the mere 
pleasure of adding to the glory of William Shakspere. 

In another connection we have had to point out 
that Shakespeare's sonnet 125 seems to be pointing to 


The sonnets. De Vere's officiating at Queen Elizabeth's funeral. 
This may be taken as his last sonnet ; for 126 is really 
not a sonnet but a stanza composed of six couplets, 
in which he appears to be addressing a parting message 
to his young friend. Sonnet 127 begins the second 
series, the whole of which seems from the contents 
to belong to about the same period as the early sonnets 
of the first series. 

If, then, we may take sonnet 125 as being the 
Earl of Oxford's expression of his private feelings 
relative to Queen Elizabeth's funeral, we can quite 
understand his not troubling to honour her with any 
special verses. The argument does not touch William 
Shakspere in the same way ; for the reasons which 
lead us to suppose that the particular sonnet has 
reference to Elizabeth's funeral, only apply if we 
assume it to be written by the Earl of Oxford. It is 
worth noticing, too, that these last sonnets seem to 
be touched with the thought of approaching death ; 
and when we find that De Vere died on June 24th, 
1604, the year following the death of Queen Elizabeth, 
to which they seem to make reference, the two 
suppositions we have stated in regard to them seem 
to be mutually confirmed. 

Oxford and The special sonnet to which attention has been 
s drawn, if it does actually refer to the part taken by 
the Lord Great Chamberlain at Elizabeth's funeral 
shows clearly that the participation was merely 
formal. It is not necessary to account for Oxford's 
attitude : the point is that the attitude represented 
in the sonnet is precisely the same as that represented 
by the absence of any line from Oxford's pen on the 
subject of Elizabeth's death, and a similar absence 
of any Shakespearean utterance on the same theme. 


In a word, everything becomes " of a piece " as soon 
as the name and person of the Earl of Oxford is 

There can be no doubt that as Oxford was out of 
sympathy with the party in power at the time, the 
success of the Essex rising would, from some points 
of view, have been gratifying to him ; although, as 
a practical thing, he would probably, at his time of 
life, have considered it rash and ill-advised. The 
execution of Essex which had done more than any- 
thing else to injure Elizabeth's popularity in her 
closing years would not leave him unaffected. If, 
further, we suppose that " Shakespeare," whoever 
he may have been, retained in 1603 the feelings he 
had expressed for Southampton in 1593 and 1594, 
it is impossible to think of him writing panegyrics 
on Queen Elizabeth whilst his friend was being kept 
in prison. Cheddle evidently did not consider his 
" friend," William Shakspere, sufficiently interested 
in the Earl of Southampton to withold, on account 
of the imprisoned earl, his " sable tear" from the bier 
of the departed Queen. Oxford's experience as a 
whole, however, would indispose him to join in any 
chorus of lamentation or of praise. 

The Hatfield manuscripts, and the Domestic State 
Papers of the time, represent him as making efforts 
to restore the fortunes of his family by an appeal to 
Elizabeth, on the strength of his youth spent at her 
court, and promises made to him which had encouraged 
his early extravagance. The Queen had replied with 
gracious words, but neither the special office for which 
he was asking, the Presidency of Wales, nor any other 
appointment was granted to him ; and his disappoint- 
ment with the Queen is clearly shown. He certainly 


would be in no mood for lamentations over the departed 

Oxford's We must now go back a year in order to draw 

reappear- attention to another of those particulars which had 
ance. passed unobserved until after the virtual completion 

of our argument. After fourteen years of apparent 
retirement from dramatic activities, Oxford makes his 
appearance once more, and on a single occasion, in the 
capacity of patron of the drama. It is a mere glimpse 
that we are permitted to catch of him, but such as it 
is it has special relevance to our present purpose. 
Halliwell-Phillipps, in discussing the question of 
" Shakespeare's " relation to the Boar's Head Tavern, 
Eastcheap, tells us that " in 1602 the Lords of the 
Council gave permission for the servants of the Earls 
of Oxford and Worcester to play at this tavern." It 
is of some importance, then, that the place which this 
tavern occupies in respect to the Shakespeare dramas 
should first be made clear. 

In current editions of Shakespeare's plays, this 
particular tavern is specified in the stage directions as 
the scene of some of the escapades of Prince Hal and 
Falstaff (Henry IV, parts i and 2). In the Folio 
Editions, however, the name of the tavern is not 
given in the stage directions. The text of the play, 
on the other hand, makes it clear that some tavern in 
Eastcheap is meant : Falstaff remarking " Farewell : 
you shall find me in Eastcheap " (I Henry IV. I. 2) 
and Prince Hal when they meet at the tavern (II. 4) 
adding, " I shall command all the good lads in 
Eastcheap." In reference to this matter Halliwell- 
Phillipps states : 

"It is a singular circumstance that there is no 
mention of this celebrated tavern in any edition 


of Shakespeare previous to the appearance of The 
Theobald's in 1733, but that the locality is there 
accurately given is rendered certain by an allusion 
to ' Sir John of the Boares-Head in Eastcheap ' in 
Gayton's Festivous Notes 1654, p. 277. Shakespeare 
never mentions that tavern at all, and the only 
possible allusion to it is in the Second Part of 
Henry the Fourth, where Prince Hal asks, speaking 
of Falstaff, ' doth the old boar feed in the old frank ' ? 
A suggestion of the locality may also be possibly 
intended in ' Richard II ' where the Prince is 
mentioned as frequenting taverns ' that stand in 
narrow lanes.' . . . There were numerous other 
tenements in London, including five taverns in the 
city known by the name of the Boar's-Head. . . . 
Curiously enough by an accidental coincidence 
Sir John Fastolf devised to Magdalen College, 
Oxford, a house so called in the borough of 

Sir Sidney Lee connects Falstaff chiefly with the 
Boar's Head Tavern in Southwark, relegating the 
Boar's Head, Eastcheap, to a footnote, and ignoring 
the connection of Falstaff with some tavern in East- 
cheap in the actual text of the plays. 

Whatever duplication of associations may have Falstaff. 
arisen from the connection of Falstaff with Sir John 
Fastolf of the Boar's Head, Southwark, it is evident 
from the text of the play, the stage-tradition supported 
by Gayton's Festivous Notes in 1654, and Theobald's 
and all modern editions of " Shakespeare's " works, 
that the " Boar's Head," Eastcheap, is associated 
with Shakespeare's creation of Falstaff. There is 
ample justification, therefore, for Halliwell-Phillipps's 
allusion to Falstaff as " the renowned hero of the 


Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap," and for Sir Walter 
Raleigh's remark that " the Boar's Head in Eastcheap 
has been made famous for ever by the patronage of 
Falstaff and his crew." It is of more than ordinary 
interest, then, to find the Earl of Oxford reappearing 
after an absence of fourteen years from the world 
of drama at the particular tavern associated with 
Falstaff, and in the very year that the representation 
of Falstaff culminated in the " Merry Wives of 
Windsor." For it was on January i8th, 1601-2, 
that " a license for the publication of the play was 
granted " and " an imperfect draft was printed in 1602." 
What would we not give to know the title of the play 
or plays that the servants of the Earls of Oxford and 
Worcester performed at the Boar's Head, Eastcheap, 
in the year 1602 ? It is another of those mysterious 
silences that meet us at every turn of the Shakespeare 

Oxford's Halliwell-Phillipps 's connection of Falstaff with 

Crest the the old boar has alsQ its special interest to those 

who may believe that Falstaff is a work of self- 
caricature on the part of " Shakespeare." For 
Oxford's coat of arms was the boar, and he himself 
is spoken of, in a letter of Hatton's to Queen Elizabeth 
as " the boar." One of his ancestors was killed by 
a wild boar, and this would readily suggest to him the 
theme of his first great poem. It may be worth 
mentioning that the character of Puntarvolo, in 
Ben Jonson's " Every Man out of his Humour," who, 
some Baconians believe, was Jonson's representation 
of Bacon, was also one whose crest was a boar. These 
things are at any rate interesting if not made too 
much of. 

Another interesting fact belonging to a much earlier 


part of Oxford's life connects itself with the particular A wild 
matters under consideration. The escapades of Prince a ven 
Hal and his men, in " Henry IV," part i, involve 
not only the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap, but also 
that part of the road near Rochester which connects 
London with Canterbury. Here the madcap Prince 
and his associates molest travellers. Now in 1573, 
the same year as Hatton writes his complaint to the 
Queen, speaking of Oxford as the " boar," others 
make complaints about being molested by the " Earl 
of Oxford's men " on the identical part of the road 
" between Rochester and Gravesend " where Prince 
Hal had indulged in his pranks. Shooting had taken 
place, and everything is suggestive of a wildness, 
similar to what is represented in " Shakespeare's " 
play respecting the future Henry V. The exact 
correspondence alike of locality and adventure forms 
not the least striking of the many coincidences which 
our researches have disclosed. 

A special significance attaches to the particular year The I602 
in which Oxford makes his reappearance as patron of 8 a P- 
drama after an absence of fourteen years. In 
Chapter I, when dealing with Stratfordianism, we had 
occasion to point out that 1602 is the only year of 
the great Shakespearean period in which the records 
of the Treasurer of the Chamber contain no entry of 
payments made to the Lord Chamberlain's company 
of players. The company, it would appear, had 
temporarily suspended official operations. An 
examination of the records of " Shakespeare " publica- 
tion reveals a similar gap. There was no new play 
published with any appearance of authentication ; 
the 1602 publication of the " Merry Wives of Windsor " 
being, the authorities state, a " pirated " issue. For 


it is curious that, although Stratfordians affirm that 
William Shakspere published none of the plays, they 
nevertheless discriminate between " pirated " and 
authorized issues : the " pirated " being, it is 
presumed, made up by publishers from actors' copies, 
and not from complete versions. 

With the Lord Chamberlain's company apparently 
in a state of suspended animation, we are naturally 
disposed to ask, what company of actors had been 
playing " The Merry Wives of Windsor " ? Certainly 
the probability that this was the play which the 
servants of Oxford and Worcester performed that year 
at the Boar's Head tavern is strengthened. At any 
rate the gap itself is a reality, and not a surmise ; 
and this gap exactly corresponds to the complete 
year that Henry Wriothesley spent in the Tower : a 
very fair evidence that Wriothesley had been acting 
as intermediary between " Shakespeare " and others. 
It is then in the exact year in which " Shakespeare " 
was entirely without assistance from this agent, that 
the Earl of Oxford reappears in connection with the 
performance of some play, at the identical tavern 
associated with Falstaff ; and publishers get hold of 
actors' copies of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." 
Oxford and To the interesting chain of evidence presented by 
the Queen's Oxford's association with the Boar's Head Tavern in 


1602 we have now to add an important link. In the 
following year there occurred the death of Queen 
Elizabeth, and, again quoting from Sir Sidney Lee : 
" On May igth, 1603, James I, very soon after his 
accession, extended to Shakespeare and other members 
of the Lord Chamberlain's company a very marked 
and valuable recognition. To them he granted under 
royal letters patent a license freely to use and exercise 


the art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies 
(etc.) . . . The company was thenceforth styled the 
King's Company." Then in a footnote he adds, 
" At the same time the Earl of Worcester's company 
(that is to say the company associated with Oxford's 
at the Boar's Head Tavern) was taken into the Queen's 
patronage, and its members were known as the Queen's 

It will, we believe, be readily acknowledged that, 
without being actually identified with the company 
that was staging the " Shakespeare " dramas, the 
Earl of Oxford has now been brought, through the 
medium of the Boar's Head Tavern and the Earl of 
Worcester's company, into very close contact with 
what is usually styled Shakespeare's company. It 
is important to emphasize the fact that the special 
reference to these companies in connection with the 
" Boar's Head " is not one selected from a number, 
but is the only reference of its kind in that connection. 
Similarly, it may be worth remarking that the only 
dramatic companies in any way associated with the 
family records of William Shakspere at Stratford 
were " The Queen's Company and the Earl of 
Worcester's Company " of an earlier date. For, in 
the palmier days of Shakspere's father " each (of 
these companies) received from John Shakspere an 
official welcome." This is the single piece of informa- 
tion that research has elicited in any way connecting 
the Shakspere family at Stratford with the drama 
of Queen Elizabeth's day. This last fact, however, in 
the absence of fuller particulars, we are content to 
put in, not as evidence, but as an interesting and 
probably accidental coincidence. 

In 1601, then, Oxford took part in the Essex trial. 





In 1602 he was associated with what was afterwards 
the Queen's Players in the performance of some un- 
known play at the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap. 
In 1603 he officiated at the coronation of James. On 
June 24th, 1604, he died and was buried at Hackney 
Church. Unfortunately the old church was de- 
molished about the year 1790, so that it is improbable 
that the exact spot where his remains lie will ever be 
located. This we feel to be a real national loss. We 
cannot believe, however, that the English nation will 
acquiesce permanently in the neglect of the place 
where " Shakespeare " lies buried. 

The year of Oxford's death (1604), it will be noticed, 
is the year in which the great series of Shakespearean 
dramas culminated. " Hamlet " is assigned to the 
year 1602. It was first published in an incomplete 
form in the year 1603, and in 1604 was issued the 
drama substantially as we now have it. This point 
we shall have to discuss more explicitly in our next 
chapter. The tragedy which is universally accepted 
as the author's supreme achievement belongs, therefore, 
to the year of Edward de Vere's death ; and the last 
words of Hamlet the passage we quote at the opening 
of this series of biographical chapters may almost 
be accepted as Oxford's dying words. " Othello," 
too, has been assigned to 1604 although it was not 
printed until 1622 ; that is to say, six years after the 
death of William Shakspere, the reputed author. 

The actual details so far recorded of Oxford's life 
are of the most meagre description, and hardly furnish 
materials for an adequate biography ; but if what we 
are now contending respecting the authorship of 
Shakespeare's works be finally established we shall 
probably, in the course of time, learn more of him 


than of almost any other man in history. In his 
case we shall have not the mere externals of life, which 
never quite show forth the man, but the infinitely 
varied play of his very soul in the most masterly 
exposition of human nature that exists anywhere in 
the world's literature. Although these things mainly 
concern the future, there is one thing which must be 
said at once, and an important claim that must b 
immediately entered on his behalf. 

Many generous pronouncements on " Shakespeare " 
have already been made in the belief that the Stratford 
man was the actual dramatist. Now, apart from the 
writings practically nothing is known of the personality 
of the one who has hitherto been credited with them. 
These generous estimates of " Shakespeare," being 
almost wholly inferred from the plays he has left us, must 
in all honesty be passed on to Edward de Vere when 
he is accepted as the author. They are his by right. 
We cannot go back upon the judgments that have 
been so passed upon " Shakespeare," simply because 
it transpires that the Stratford man is not he. By 
the adoption of his mask the author of the plays has 
therefore secured for himself a judgment stripped of 
the bias of " vulgar scandal." He has, by revealing 
himself in his plays, trapped the world, as it were, 
into passing a more impartial verdict upon himself 
than would otherwise have been accorded, and given 
a signal check to its tendency to hang the dog with 
a bad name. 

The references to him, which we have come across 
in the course of our investigations, have frequently 
taken the form of condemnatory expressions, altogether 
unsupported, or most inadequately tested by facts. 
All these must now be subjected to a searching re vision. 


Having been for so long the victim of " cunning 
policy," he has, at length, become entitled to such 
personal appreciation as sober judgment has pro- 
nounced upon " Shakespeare " from a consideration 
of the writings. What the world has written in this 
connection it has written, and must be prepared to 
stand by. 



" ALTHOUGH Shakespeare's powers showed no sign 
of exhaustion, he reverted in 1607 to his earlier habit 
of collaboration, and with another's aid composed 
Timon of Athens, etc." 


We have seen that up to the time of the death of An 
Edward de Vere new Shakespearean plays and printed 
issues of plays formerly staged were appearing at a 
phenomenal rate. These we have regarded as literary 
transformations of what had previously existed as 
stage plays. Our next question is whether Shake- 
speare's writings, as we now have them, represent 
a completed or an uncompleted work. Even under 
the old supposition of an author who spent the last 
years of his life in retirement from literary work this 
question has already been answered, and the answer 
given has again constituted one of the paradoxes of 
literature. For we are assured that the greatest 
genius that has appeared in English literature, when 
he had reached his maturity, and when there was no 
sign of failing powers, having lined his pockets well 
with money, retired from his literary labours, leaving 
in the hands of stage managers the manuscripts ot 
incompleted plays, that others, at a later date, were 
called upon to finish. Shakespeare's work is therefore 
admittedly an unfinished performance. 

Unfinished performances of great geniuses are not 


unknown in the world, but when they appear one 
explanation alone accounts for them an utter in- 
ability to proceed : usually death. To neither 
William Shakspere nor to Bacon nor to any one else 
whose name has been raised in this connection does 
such an explanation apply. In all these cases we 
must assume the deliberate abandonment of the work 
for other interests. In the case of Edward de Vere 
alone do we get the natural explanation that the 
writer was cut off in the midst of his work, leaving 
unpublished some plays that he may have considered 
finished, and others published later, either unfinished 
or as they had been finished by other writers. 
Geniuses To suppose that " Shakespeare," having attained 

t* 16 highest rank as a play-writer whilst still in the 
heyday of his powers, should, on approaching his 
zenith, have reverted to his earlier practice of collabora- 
tion with others the master-hand in the craft returning 
to the expedients of his prentice days is to deny 
to him the possession of ordinary common sense. 
And to suppose that he was so indifferent to the fate 
of his own manuscripts as to leave them to drift amongst 
unknown actors, without arrangements for their 
preservation and publication, is to suppose him incap- 
able of measuring their value. Yet all this is implied in 
the Stratfordian view, and much of it in the Baconian. 
Under the De Vere theory the whole situation 
assumes for the first time a rational and common- 
sense appearance. Prevented by death from 
completely finishing his task, he had nevertheless been 
speeding up the issue of his works for some years 
beforehand, and had friends sufficiently in his confidence 
to safeguard his manuscripts and to preserve his 
incognito when he was gone. The admittedly un- 


finished character of Shakespeare's work we maintain, 
then, can only be rationally explained by supposing 
that death, and not retirement, had brought his 
literary activities to a close. This is the first point 
to be fixed in the statement of our argument from 
the posthumous point of view. 

When we turn to examine the issue of Shakespeare's "Fell 
works in relation to Edward de Vere's death, we find 
facts of a specially interesting and illuminating Arrest 
character. We have already indicated the tremendous 
outpouring attributed to the six preceding years. Let 
us now see what happens immediately after his death. 

There are three points of view from which the dating 
of the plays may be regarded. First, we have the 
system of conjectural dating based upon the assump- 
tion that the Stratford man was the author ; secondly, 
there are the ascertained dates of the first known 
publication of the plays ; and thirdly, we have the 
recorded dates of the various early issues, including 
revised editions and mere reprints. 

Beginning with the first, that upon which much of 
the argument in the last chapter is based, we find, in 
spite of the fact that it is largely guesswork, founded 
upon the very views of authorship which we are now 
questioning, it indicates a distinct check in the issues 
at the time ot Oxford's death. Professor Dowden 
attributes but one play, " King Lear," to the year 
1605, and one, " Macbeth," to the year 1606 : and 
even this last is treated both by Sir Sidney Lee and 
by the compiler of the " Falstaff " Notes as very 
doubtful. At the same time, 1607 is chosen by the 
former as the year when plays again began to appear 
in which Shakespeare's work was mixed with that of 
contemporary writers. Even this hypothetical dating 


of the plays indicates, therefore, some radical change 
about the time when Edward de Vere died. 
Lear " and As " King Lear " and " Macbeth " are ascribed to 
Macbeth." ^e two y ears immediately following the death of 
Edward de Vere it has been been necessary to examine 
somewhat closely the data from which such a conclusion 
has been drawn. The most of this has been brought 
together in the appendix to the " Variorum Shake- 
speare," and the point on which much of the argument 
is made to turn is the suggested allusions to the union 
of the English and Scottish crowns, contained in the 
plays. The rest seems determined by the general 
scheme of finding reasonable spaces of time in the 
life of William Shakspere to get the work done. These 
allusions to the union of the crowns would be very 
natural to one who had occupied a foremost position 
at the coronation, if he happened to be trimming 
up these particular plays at the time : on the other 
hand, the general scheme of dating the works does not, 
as we have seen, apply to the Earl of Oxford. 

The most significant fact, however, which the study 
of other authorities brings to light is that, instead 
of fixing a definite year for each of these two plays, 
they assign a period of three years, 1603 to 1606, 
during which they assert these two plays might have 
been written. It will thus be seen that even these two 
may fairly be added to the apparently amazing produc- 
tion of the last six or seven years of De Vere's lifetime. 
Of "King Lear," the"Variorum Shakespeare" remarks 
that " Drake (in ' Shakespeare and his Times ') thinks 
its production is to be attributed to 1604. ... I think 
we must be content with the term of 3 years (1603- 
1606) ; no date more precise than this will probably 
ever gain general acceptance." The case of " Macbeth " 


is even more interesting. Several authorities give 
again the 1603-1606 period, and Grant White affirms, 
" I have little hesitation in referring the production 
to the period 1604-1605." With this in mind, the 
quotations given in the " Variorum Shakespeare " 
from Messrs. Clark and Wright (Clarendon Press 
Series) showing that " Macbeth " was a work of 
collaboration between Shakespeare and another are of 
great importance. The question of an arranged 
collaboration versus interpolation is raised, and the 
following conclusion arrived at : 

" On the whole we incline to think that the play 
was interpolated after Shakespeare's death or, at 
at least, after he had withdrawn from all connection 
with the theatre." 

Had the works been dissociated from the Stratford 
man, or rather, if they had been avowedly anonymous 
from the first, the study of these particular plays 
would have justified a suspicion that their writer had 
died about 1604 : the year of the death of Edward de 
Vere. This furnishes the second stage in the develop- 
ment of our posthumous argument. 

After " King Lear " and " Macbeth " we enter upon The last 
the period which begins with " Timon of Athens " 
and finishes with " Henry VIII " : the former, 
according to the passage we have quoted from 
Sir Sidney Lee, marking the beginning of work in 
which " collaboration " becomes a pronounced feature, 
and the latter, in which " Shakespeare " is supposed 
to lay down his pen, being generally recognized as 
largely the work of Fletcher. In this period we have 
great dramas that are no mere " prentice work," in 
which are passages and dramatic situations revealing 
this great genius at his highest. Yet it is in this work 


that we meet with deficiencies of poetic finish on 
the one hand, and the recognized intervention of 
strange pens on the other : a state of things to which 
we cannot imagine even a third rate writer submitting 

With all deference to Shakespearean scholars, we 
are bound to say that, in respect to the work assigned 
to this period, wonder and praise seem to have got the 
better of discrimination. There is so much here of 
" Shakespeare's " best, that there has been a fatal 
tendency to regard as good what is more than question- 
able. Even the faults of those who have been called 
in to finish the work, or possibly even of the author's 
first rough drafts, have been treated as " Shake- 
speare's " most advanced conceptions, and as marks 
of his poetic development. We would specify, in 
particular, the uneven versification due to additional 
syllables in the lines, faulty rhythm and " weak 
endings," which have made so much of the later so- 
called " blank- verse " hardly distinguishable to the 
ear from honest prose. 

Disguised Our commentators assure us that this " rag-time " 

verse shows us the mighty genius bursting his fetters. 
The real roots of this eulogized emancipation will, 
however, be readily perceived from a consideration 
of the following passages from North's Plutarch and 
Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" (one of these later plays), 
for which we are indebted to Sir Sidney Lee's work : 

North's Plutarch (prose). 

" I am Caius Marcus, who hath done 
to thyself particularly, and to all the Voices 
generally great hurt and mischief ; which 
I cannot deny for my surname of 
Coriolanus that I bear." 


Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" (blank- verse I) 

" My name is Caius Marcus who hath done 
To thee particularly, and to all the Voices 
Great hurt and mischief ; thereto witness may 
My surname Coriolanus." 

At last, then, the secret of this great literary 
emancipation is out. The people who were " finishing 
off " .these later plays took straightforward prose, 
either from the works of others, or from rough notes 
collected by " Shakespeare " in preparing his dramas, 
and chopped it up, along with a little dressing, to make 
it look in print something like blank verse. That 
" Shakespeare," living, could have voluntarily suffered 
such work to go forth as his is inconceivable. The 
result of such a method has been the production of 
faulty rhythm and " weak-endings," and these have 
been hailed by learned Shakespeareans as tokens of 
a great poetic liberation. On this plan even a school- 
boy might conceivably give us an edition of Newton's 
" Principia " in blank- verse. 

" Cymbelline " (another of these later plays) is 
also strongly marked by " weak-endings " and 
interpolations ; and both Professor Dowden and 
Stanton recognize in the play the participation of 
an inferior hand. 

Of " Anthony and Cleopatra," Sir Sidney Lee 
remarks : " The source of the tragedy is the life of 
Antonius in North's Plutarch. Shakespeare followed 
closely the historical narrative, and assimilated not 
merely its temper, but in the first three acts, much 
of its phraseology." The case of "The Tempest" we 
reserve for special examination in the appendix. 

The general stamp, then, of this later work is great- 
ness, suggestive of unfailing powers ; and defects 


suggestive of unfinished workmanship and the inter- 
vention of inferior pens : a combination which we 
claim can only be explained by the death of the 

Dates of With the Earl of Oxford substituted for William 

Shakspere much of the guesswork relating to the 
time when the plays were written ceases to have any 
value : what is of most consequence now is the date 
of actual issue. We have, therefore, compiled a list 
of the dates when the first printed issues of the plays 
appeared ; and although errors may have crept in, 
owing to the relatively subordinate position hitherto 
assigned to this particular group of facts, it will 
presently appear that their general trend is sufficiently 
well marked for our purpose. " Venus " and 
" Lucrece " were published in 1593 and 1594 
respectively : an interval of four years passed before 
the printing of the plays began, and even then the 
first of the series had not Shakespeare's name attached. 
The Sonnets are included in the following list because 
of their special importance. 

Three Periods of Shakespearean Publication after 

"Venus" and "Lucrece." 
Compiled from Notes to "Pocket Falstaff " Edition. 

1st Period (1597-1603). 

1. Richard II. 

2. Richard III. 

3. Romeo and Juliet. 

4. Love's Labour's Lost. 

5. Henry IV, part i. 

6. Henry IV, part 2. 


7. Henry V. 

8. Merchant of Venice. 

9. Midsummer Night's Dream. 

10. Much Ado About Nothing. 

11. Titus Andronicus. 

12. Merry Wives of Windsor (pirated). 

13. Hamlet (pirated) : authentic in 1604. 

Arrested publication (1604-1607 inclusive). 

No new publication. 

2nd Period (1608-9). 

1. King Lear. 

2. Troilus and Cressida. 

3. Pericles. 

4. Sonnets. 

3rd Period (1622-23). 

1622 Othello. 

1623 (Folio Edition). 

All the remainder, twenty plays in all, including 
such well-known names as, 
As You Like It. 
Taming of the Shrew. 
Julius Caesar. 
King John. 
Twelfth Night. 
Measure for Measure. 
Two Gentlemen of Verona. 
All's Well that Ends Well. 


In the six years from 1597 t J 6o3 it will be noticed 
there were no less than thirteen plays of Shakespeare's 
printed and published for the first time. Some of 
these had been staged in previous years, and others 
were then being both staged and printed for the first 
time. This brings us to the year before Oxford's 

The 1604 From 1603 to 1608, according to this record, no 

stoppage. single play was printed and published for the first time. 
Even supposing there are mistakes and oversights 
in these notes, there is still a large enough margin 
for us to affirm confidently that the publication of 
Shakespeare's plays was arrested in a marked degree 
for several years after the death of Edward de Vere. 
We may add that this arrested publication is fully 
borne out by Professor Dowden's table, Sir Sidney 
Lee's account, and every other record we have seen. 
This gives us the third and probably the most telling 
of our arguments from the posthumous standpoint. 
If, again, we turn to the issuing of mere reprints, 
entailing no literary work properly speaking, we 
find that after 1604 there was nothing reprinted until 
1608, except the two popular plays of " Hamlet " 
and " Richard III," for which we might judge there 
would be a considerable demand : and even these 
were only reprinted once, namely in 1605. It would 
therefore seem that all kinds of issues, including even 
pirated and surreptitious editions, as well as mere 
reprints, were definitely checked at the time of Oxford's 
death : a fact which should give Shakespearean 
scholars " furiously to think " respecting much of 
the so-called " pirated " work. So complete an arrest 
of publication at this precise moment is almost start- 
ling in its character ; the slight resumption which took 


place after an interval of four years is not less 

In 1608 and 1609 there was a slight revival of Th( ? 1608-9 
Shakespearean publication involving, however, only 
three plays and the Sonnets. Nothing else was 
newly published until " Othello " in 1622, and the 
Folio edition of Shakespeare "in 1623 ; six and seven 
years respectively after the death of the Stratford 
Shakspere. Even according to the Stratfordian view, 
then, the most of Shakespeare's works were published 
posthumously. In the Folio edition no less than twenty 
out of the thirty-seven, so called, Shakespearean 
plays were printed and published for the first time 
so far as anything has yet been discovered. Of the 
three plays appearing in this temporary revival one 
is " Pericles," which was published in 1609 ; the same 
year as the Sonnets appeared. Now the manner 
of the publication of these two, " Pericles " and the 
" Sonnets," is as strong a confirmation as could be 
wished for that the dramatist himself was by this 
time dead. We shall take " Pericles " first, quoting 
again the " Falstaff " notes. 

" Pericles " is mainly from other hands than Shake- " Pericles." 
speare's, probably those of Wilkins and Rowley. It was 
first printed in quarto in 1609 with the following title : 

" ' Pericles ' ... as it hath been divers times acted 
by his Majesty's servants at the Globe. . . . By 
William Shakspere ..." 

This play was therefore issued with the full imprimatur 
of William Shakspere and the Globe Theatre, although 
it is mainly from other hands than Shakespeare's. 
Contrast this with the plays issued during the life of 
De Vere under the " Shakespeare " nom-de-plume. 
They are ; 


1598 Love's Labour's Lost. 
1600 Henry IV, part a. 

The Merchant of Venice. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Much Ado About Nothing. 

1602 The Merry Wives of Windsor (pirated). 

1603 Hamlet (curtailed and pirated). 

1604 Hamlet : authorized. 

Leaving out of consideration the plays published 
in 1597 and 1598 without any author's name attached, 
the important point to notice is the character of the 
plays which received the Shakespeare imprimatur up 
to the time of the death of De Vere. No one would 
venture to say of any one of these that it was " mainly 
from other hands " than Shakespeare's, whatever 
opinion he might hold as to the quality or complete- 
ness of the play itself. It is of interest, too, that 
although " Titus Andronicus " was published in the 
same period it was without the name of " Shake- 
speare." The natural conclusion is that when in 1609 
" Pericles " was published, with all the e"clat of a 
genuine Shakespearean play, the controlling hand of 
" Shakespeare " himself had been removed. Those 
who were directing matters may have believed it to 
have been his : what is more probable is that it was 
they who had called in assistance to finish a play 
which he had left unfinished. 

The Sonnets. Take now the issue of the Sonnets, a problem that 
has agitated and puzzled the literary world for so long. 
We need not at present discuss the question of who 
W. H. and T. T. may have been, or attempt to clear 
up the mystery of their association with the publication 
of these poems ; but ninety per cent, of the mystery 
of the publication disappears as soon as we suppose a 


posthumous issue. Indeed the dedication to the 
Sonnets has been telling us for three hundred years, 
in the plainest of terms, that the writer was already 
dead. It may be a curiosity of language, but it is 
nevertheless a fact, that we only speak of a man being 
" ever-living " after he is actually dead ; and in the 
dedication of the Sonnets their author is referred to 
as " our ever-living poet." Who then -was this " ever- 
living poet " ? Surely not the man who, to all appear- 
ances, had deserted or was preparing to desert the 
high interests of literature and drama and attend 
to his land and houses at Stratford, and who was 
being completely ignored by those who were issuing 
the full literary text of what were supposed to be his 
great personal poems. Neither is it likely that " our 
ever-living poet " was at that moment discharging 
the functions of solicitor-general with his eye upon 
the woolsack, or planning his " Great Instauration." 

To suppose that a set of no less than one hundred A 
and fifty sonnets,- many of them of exquisite quality, absurdity" 
touching the most private experiences and sentiments 
of a great genius, whose work proclaims an almost 
fastidious regard on his part for his productions, 
could, while he was yet alive, have found their way 
into print, surreptitiously, with strange initials 
attached, without his knowledge, consent, signature, 
or immediate and emphatic protest, is as extravagant 
a supposition as could be imagined. Yet all this is 
implied in the Stratfordian theory of authorship. The 
only hypothesis that adequately explains the situation 
is that the poet himself was dead and his manuscript 
had passed into other hands. The dedication itself 
proclaims the fact, and the simultaneous issue of 
" Pericles " confirms it. 


We shall close the discussion of these two publica- 
tions with a sentence bearing on each from Sir Sidney 
Lee's Life of Shakespeare. 

Pericles : " The bombastic form of title shows that 
Shakespeare had no hand in the publication " (1609). 

Sonnets : "He (Shakespeare) cannot be credited 
with any responsibility for the publication of Thorpe's 
collection of his sonnets in 1609." 

" King In respect to the other two plays published in 

^Troilu^ 1608-9 it will be enough to give the following quota- 
tions from the same work. " King Lear " . . ." was 
defaced by many gross typographical errors. Some 
of the sheets were never subjected to any correction 
of the press. The publisher, Butter, endeavoured to 
make some reparation ... by issuing a second quarto 
which was designed to free the text of the most obvious 
incoherences of the first quarto. But the effort was 
not successful. Uncorrected sheets disfigured the 
second quarto little less conspicuously than the 

" Troilus and Cressida " ..." Exceptional obscurity 
attaches to the circumstances of the publication . . . 
After a pompous title-page there was inserted for the 
first time in the case of a play by Shakespeare that 
was published in his lifetime, an advertisement or 
preface . . . the publishers paid bombastic and high- 
flown compliments to Shakespeare . . . and defiantly 
boasted that the grand possessors of the manuscript 
deprecated its publication." This is the particular 
play which we pointed out in an earlier chapter 
probably contains the matter of Oxford's early play 
of " Agamemnon and Ulysses." 

William Shakspere of Stratford was evidently not 
even the holder of the manuscript in this instance : 

and certainly the expression " grand possessors " is 
worth attention. The point that matters, however, 
is that neither the author himself, nor the owners of 
the authentic manuscript, had anything to do with 
this particular publication. And as the same has been 
shown to be true of the author's relation to the other 
three issues of this period, all four, without excep- 
tion, give unmistakable support to the views we 
are now advocating. This, then, is the position. 
We have a flood of Shakespearean plays being published 
authentically right up to the year before the death 
of Edward de Vere, then a sudden stop, and nothing 
more published with any appearance of proper 
authorization for nearly twenty years, although the 
reputed author was alive and active during twelve 
of these years. We have no hesitation in saying that 
the simple fact we have enunciated in our last sentence 
furnishes an argument it is hardly possible to 
strengthen further. 

Decisive as may appear the fact we have just stated " Hamlet.' 
there remains one other consideration which brings 
us into still closer contact with the actual date of 
Oxford's death. It will be seen that on either the 
Stratfordian or the De Vere theory, the last play 
published with any appearance of proper authoriza- 
tion during Shakespeare's lifetime was " Hamlet." 
An examination of the facts connected with the printing 
of this play is therefore of special importance. We 
have included it in the 1597-1603 period because a 
quarto edition of it appeared in the last year of this 
period. The 1603 quarto edition, however, is described 
by Sir Sidney Lee as "a piratical and carelessly 
transcribed copy of Shakespeare's first draft of the play." 
In 1604 the Second Quarto edition, he tells us, was 


published " from a more complete and accurate 
manuscript." He further adds : 

" The concluding words of the title-page were 
intended to stamp its predecessor as surreptitious 
and unauthentic. But it is clear that the Second 
Quarto was not a perfect version of the play. A third 
version figured in the Folio of 1623. Here many 
passages not to be found in the quartos appeared for 
the first time, but a few others that appear in the 
quartos are omitted. The Folio text probably came 
nearest to the original manuscript." Now, with 
an interval of nearly twenty years between the second 
and third versions of a play which had evidently been 
subjected to constant revision and development, whilst 
simple reprints of the second edition had appeared 
in the interval, what is the natural inference in view 
of the facts already pointed out ? Simply that the 
author was removed by death whilst actually engaged 
upon the particular play, at the time when the Second 
Quarto was published, namely 1604, the exact year 
of the death of Edward de Vere. We feel quite 
justified in claiming that ' Shakespeare,' whoever he 
may have been, died in 1604 almost in the act of 
revising ' Hamlet,' just as at a later day Goethe died 
almost in the act of finishing his greatest work ' Faust.' ' 
First Folio. Of the first Folio edition of " Shakespeare's " plays 
(1623) we shall again quote a passage from Sir Sidney 
Lee, " John Heming and Henry Condell were 
nominally responsible for the venture, but it seems 
to have been suggested by a small syndicate of printers 
and publishers who undertook all pecuniary responsi- 
bility . . . The dedication . . . was signed by 
Heming and Condell. . . . The same signatures were 
appended to a succeeding address ... In both 


addresses the actors made pretension to a larger 
responsibility for the enterprise than they really 

In a word, they were being employed as a blind, 
and their part was overdone. It is evident, at any 
rate, that the initiative did not come from the two 
actors. As, therefore, they formed the only connecting 
link between the Stratford Shakspere and the publica- 
tion of the plays, it is obvious that they had been 
brought into the business in order to throw a veil over 
others who did not wish to appear in it. The silence 
of William Shakspere 's will respecting these important 
manuscripts has already received attention. 

The further fact that the plays now published for 
the first time were not from the curtailed play-actor's 
copies, such as had furnished the text of several pirated 
issues, but the full literary text ; in some instances, 
as we have seen in the case of " Hamlet," even improved 
versions of plays that had already enjoyed a proper 
literary publication, has also been considered and 
ought to dispose completely of the claim that the 
collection had been brought together by actors from 
the stores of unspecified theatre managers, or fished 
up out of the lumber rooms behind the scenes. Such 
a view does not accord with common sense and would 
hardly have been credited in any other connection. 
The only feasible supposition is that the documents 
had been in the safe keeping of responsible people, and 
that the death seven years before of the man who had 
formerly served as a mask rendered necessary the 
" Heming and Condell " subterfuge, if the incognito 
was to be preserved. In a word, the resumption of 
authorized publication after being arrested for eighteen 
or nineteen years is marked by the same elements of 




mysteriousness and secrecy, in which everything 
connecting the man and his work has been involved, 
and furnishes its own quota of evidence that the 
master's hand had been removed for very many years. 

Not only does the time of the death of De Vere 
rnark an arrest in the publication of " Shakespeare's " 
works, it also marks, according to orthodox authorities, 
some kind of a crisis in the affairs of William Shak- 
spere. Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke, in the Life 
of Shakspere published along with their edition of 
the plays, date his retirement to Stratford in the year 
1604 precisely. After pointing out that in 1605 he 
is described as " William Shakspere, Gentleman, of 
Stratford-on-Avon," they continued : " Several things 
conduced to make him resolve upon ceasing to be an 
actor, and 1604 has generally been considered the 
date when he did so." Several other writers, less 
well known, repeat this date ; and works of reference, 
written for the most part some years ago, place his 
retirement in the same year : " There is no doubt 
he never meant to return to London, except for 
business visits after 1604" (National Encyclopedia). 

This is probably the most exact and startling 
synchronism furnished by Stratfordians. We have 
elsewhere given reasons for our belief that his actual 
retirement from London was much earlier than this. 
The fact that this date has been chosen is evidence, 
however, that Shakespearean records are indicative 
of some crisis at this precise time. More recent 
authorities, finding it necessary probably to give a 
date more in accord with accepted ideas as to the 
writing of the plays, and the continuance of William 
Shakspere's material interests in London, have added 
eight or nine years to this, during which time his 


forces are supposed to have been divided between 
Stratford and London, but during which period he 
has left no traces of domiciliation in London, and no 
' ' incidents . " In either case the time of De Vere's death 
corresponds to the time assigned for William Shak- 
spere's retirement, partial or complete. The latter's 
work in London was practically done, and he could 
no longer remain in constant contact with the old 
life without a danger that the part he had played as 
mask to a great genius should be detected. 

It is worth while noticing that William Shakspere's William 
first purchases of property extended from the time 
of the first publication of the plays, in 1597, up to the 
year following De Vere's death, when, in 1605, he 
purchased " for 440 of Ralph Hubbard an unexpired 
term " of the lease of certain tithes ; and another 
important purchase is recorded for 1613, the year 
following the death of the second Lady Oxford. Not 
much of this kind of transaction is recorded of the 
interval between the two events. The only one we 
have found was in 1610, when he purchased some land 
adjacent to his estate. This, it will be observed, was 
in the year following the publication of " Pericles " 
and the Sonnets. His purchase in 1613 of property 
in London for 140 was " his last investment in real 

There is certainly a distinct suggestiveness worth 
considering about this correspondence of dates, 
especially as it is reported that on one occasion he 
received a large sum of money (1000, it is said) from 
the Earl of Southampton for the express purpose of 
buying property. However lucrative theatre share- 
holding may have been, authorship, at any rate, was 
not then the road to affluence ; whilst an actor, who 


seems not to have risen above playing the Ghost in 
" Hamlet," would hardly be in enjoyment of the 
plums of his profession. 

William Whatever opinions may be formed of William 

r aie S] Shakspere on other grounds, we do not wish to suggest 

any reproach for the part he took in assisting Oxford 
to hide his identification with the authorship of the 
plays. The former's role in life was indeed a humble 
one from the standpoint of literature, and, in view 
of the glory he has enjoyed for so long, becomes 
now somewhat ignominious. Nevertheless, whatever 
inducements may have been held out to him he ful- 
filled his part loyally. His task was to assist a remark- 
able but unfortunate man in the performance of a 
work, the value of which he himself could probably 
not have estimated ; and though it will be the duty 
of Englishmen to see that the master is ultimately 
put in possession of the honours that have for so long 
been enjoyed by the man, it will be impossible ever 
totally to dissociate from the work and personality 
of the great one, the figure and name of his helper. 
Such, at any rate, would be the desire of Oxford, if we 
may interpret it in the light of the principle of noblesse 
oblige that shines through the great Shakespearean 
dramas. We may even suppose that Oxford had 
some hand in defending William Shakspere from 
Greene's attack. Chettle's defence of him that he 
was " civil " and that " divers of worship have reported 
his uprightness in dealing, which argues his honesty," 
is distinctly suggestive of some such intervention on 
the part of Oxford. The terms of the defence are 
undoubtedly much more appropriate to a testimonial 
to a faithful servant than a tribute to the supreme 
genius of the age. 


That such a work of secrecy could not have been Loyal 
done without the loyal co-operation of others goes epei 
without saying. In order to maintain our thesis, 
however, it is not necessary that we should solve the 
problem of who his associates were, or of how they 
went about their work. It is reasonable to suppose 
that Henry Wriothesley was one, and it is natural to 
conclude that the wife with whom he was living in 
evident comfort was another. We may venture a 
guess, too, that his cousin, Horatio de Vere, the 
eminent soldier, may have been a third. 

We should imagine that Horatio de Vere was a 
man after Edward's own heart ; and, although the 
former spent much of his life abroad, he was living 
in England in the years when the Shakespearean 
publication was resumed (1608-9) and also when the 
1623 Folio edition was published. The publication 
of the Sonnets in 1609 and the plays in 1623, many 
of which would otherwise have perished precisely as 
Oxford's plays are supposed to have done, may have 
been the final discharge of part of a solemn trust. 
The publication of the plays ought indeed to have 
taken place during the lifetime of William Shakspere, 
whose death probably created a perplexing situation 
for those entrusted with their publication ; a situation 
from which, as we have seen, they tried to escape by 
the " Heming and Condell " device. Horatio de Vere's 
absence from the country during the latter years of 
William Shakspere's life may account for the fatal 
delay. This, however, is merely interesting specula- 
tion and forms no essential part of the argument. 

The part taken by Henry Wriothesley first in 
arranging for a performance of " Richard II " in 
connection with the 1601 insurrection, and then for 


Henry a private performance of " Love's Labour's Lost," 

>ley ' to entertain the new Queen in 1603, has already been 
mentioned. So that, although ten years had elapsed 
since Shakespeare began to dedicate poems to him, 
he was still not only deeply interested in, but actively 
occupied with, the doings of the so-called " Shak- 
spere's company," and the Shakespearean plays. In 
the autumn of 1599, however, his theatrical interests 
were so pronounced as to provoke special remark : 
he is then reported to have been spending much of 
his time every day at the theatres. In view of the 
enterprising temperament he subsequently evinced, 
such a mode of spending his time is not likely to have 
arisen from mere idleness ; it is much more likely to 
have been connected with some definite purpose. 
Now, the following year was the most important year 
in the history of Shakespearean publication during 
the lifetime of either Edward de Vere or William 
Shakspere. For in the one year 1600 there were 
published or reprinted no less than six plays. 

1. Henry IV, part 2. 

2. Henry V (probably pirated, however). 

3. The Merchant of Venice (2 editions). 

4. A Midsummer Night's Dream (2 editions). 

5. Much Ado About Nothing. 

6. Titus Andronicus. 

The 1602 In 1601 Southampton was imprisoned, and all 

suspension, publication of proper literary versions of the plays 
stopped immediately ; only the pirated actor's drafts 
of " Hamlet " and " The Merry Wives of Windsor " 
appearing during his imprisonment. It looks as if, 
at that time, the complete issue of the plays had been 
decided upon and begun, and that Wriothesley's 
imprisonment had interfered with the plans. After 


his liberation it was immediately resumed with an 
authorized version of " Hamlet." Then De Vere's 
death occurred, and all further authorized publication 
was suspended till 1622 and 1623. Meanwhile 
Southampton dropped William Shakspere, and took 
to other pursuits. It cannot be denied, therefore, 
that there is much to support the view that Henry 
Wriothesley acted as intermediary between the Earl 
of Oxford and those who were staging and publishing 
the dramas. The fact that his step-father, Thomas 
Henneage, was Treasurer of the Chamber, and there- 
fore responsible for the financial side of all the business, 
is not without significance. The special relationship 
between Oxford and Southampton, to be considered 
in connection with Shakespeare's Sonnets, gives to 
these matters a position of first importance. 

After the events connected with Southampton's 
liberation, including, we are assured on the best 
authority, a reference in one of Shakespeare's sonnets, 
Sir Sidney Lee informs us that " there is no trace 
of further relations between " Southampton and 
William Shakspere. That is to say, the death of 
Edward de Vere is followed immediately by the loss 
of all traces of a personal connection between William 
Shakspere and the only contemporary whom the poet 
has directly associated with the issue of his works. 

With regard to De Vere's widow, the second The second 
Lady Oxford, we remark that she died in 1612, whilst Oxford 
1613 is the later date assigned by some authorities 
for the final and complete retirement of William 
Shakspere from the scene of London dramatic and 
literary life. The substantial fact upon which this 
conclusion rests is that there is a record of his presence 
in London in that year, attending to business, 


The scries 
of sonnets 

Resume of 

Curiously enough this business had nothing to do 
with either dramatic or literary affairs, but wholly 
with the taking over of property : " his last invest- 
ment in real estate." 

To these general posthumous considerations one 
remains to be added. The particular sonnet which, 
according to Sir Sidney Lee and other authorities, 
welcomed Southampton's liberation from prison in 
1603, is one of the last of the series ; and " Sonnet cvii, 
apparently the last of the series, makes references 
to events that took place in 1603 to Queen Elizabeth's 
death and the accession of James I." In a word, 
the death of Edward de Vere brought to a close the 
series of sonnets that "Shakespeare" had begun 
some twelve or fourteen years before. Then for 
five or six years these sonnets lay, without a single 
one being added to their number, before the complete 
series was mysteriously given to the world by 
strangers (1609). And, although the Stratford man 
lived for yet other seven years, no further sonnets 
appeared from the pen of the greatest sonneteer 
that England has yet produced. 

No amount of harping upon a point like this can 
possibly strengthen its significance ; and the man who, 
viewing it in conjunction with the other points urged 
in this chapter, does not believe that " Shakespeare " 
died at the same time as Edward de Vere would not be 
persuaded though one (and only one) rose from the dead. 

The following is a resume" of the various points 
established in this chapter : 

i. The latest plays of Shakespeare, being finished 
by other hands, indicate that the dramatist had 
already passed away at the time to which they are 


a. The plays usually ascribed to the years 
immediately following Oxford's death, especially 
" Macbeth," furnish additional testimony that he 
was already dead, thus making the death of the 
dramatist synchronize with the death of Oxford. 

3. The printed issue of the plays came to a sudden 
stop at the time of Oxford's death, and the slight 
resumption of issues in 1608 and 1609 furnishes further 
corroboration of the death of the dramatist. 

4. The manner of the publication of the Sonnets in 
1609 is strongly suggestive of the death of their author : 
the dedication seeming to testify directly to the fact. 

5. Nothing of an authentic character was newly 
published from the time of Oxford's death till 1622 
and 1623 ; six and seven years respectively after the 
death of William Shakspere. 

6. The way in which the various issues of " Hamlet " 
appeared affords strong evidence that the author 
passed away in 1604, almost in the act of revising his 
greatest work. 

7. The manner of the publication of the First Folio 
edition suggests that Heming and Condell were being 
used as a blind, by others who had special reasons for 
not being seen in the matter. 

8. The time of Oxford's death marks, according 
to orthodox authorities, a crisis and definite change 
in the circumstances of William Shakspere of Stratford, 
and his partial or complete withdrawal from the 
dramatic life of London. 

9. The time of Oxford's death marks the cessation 
of Henry Wriothesley's dealings with William 
Shakspere, and a pronounced change in his interests 
and pursuits. 


10. Finally, the death of Edward de Vere, Earl of 
Oxford, brings to a sudden and complete close the 
series of sonnets which " Shakespeare " had been 
penning during many preceding years. 

" Every fact in the universe," says one writer, 
" fits in with every other." To suppose that all the 
above considerations are merely fortuitous is to 
suggest that the very gods had conspired to make the 
death of " Shakespeare " seem to synchronize with the 
death of the Earl of Oxford in 1604. In other words 
our theory seems to be supported by nothing less than 
the principle of the universal harmony of truth. By way 
of comparison we therefore subjoin a list of the dates 
of the decease of the men whose names have at one time 
or another been brought into this problem, including the 
special name we have had the honour of introducing. 

Edward de Vere died 1604 

Roger Manners, Earl of Rutland, died 1612 

William Shakspere died 1616 

Francis Bacon died 1626 

Wm. Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby, died 1640. 
On the other hand, we cannot find a record of the 
death of any other literary man occurring about the 
year 1604 : the nearest being that of Lyly which 
occurred in 1606. And of course he is quite out of 
the question in such a connection. We have his own 
plays, and they furnish all the evidence needed. 
Finishing a We thus bring to a close the series of chapters in 
which an approximate biographical sequence has been 
attempted, and thus conclude the longest, most 
difficult, and most decisive part of the investigations 
we have undertaken. The necessities of argumenta- 
tion have frequently involved the sacrifice of chrono- 
logical order, and even the omission of interesting 


details. This must all be remedied when the biography 
of the real " Shakespeare " comes to be written. For 
the present our purpose has been, in accordance with 
the general plan of research, to proceed from the 
work, the personality, and the career of Edward de 
Vere, to the work of " Shakespeare " ; and, reviewing 
the chapters as a whole, we make bold to claim that 
the mass and character of the evidence they contain 
will, when duly weighed, ensure the universal recogni- 
tion of the authorship we would now substitute for 
the old Stratfordian tradition. 

In displacing the Stratford Shakspere by the 
substitution of Edward de Vere we, no doubt, deprive 
the thought of " Shakespeare " of one element of 
attractiveness. It has been pleasant to think of the 
great dramatist, after all his labours, enjoying the 
rest and quietness of his retirement in a countryside 
to which his heart had ever reverted amidst the glory 
and excitement of his London career. If we lose this 
suggestion of the idyllic in the close of a great career, 
we replace it, at any rate, by a vigorous conception of 
tragic and poetic realism. The picture of a great 
soul, misunderstood, almost an outcast from his own 
social sphere, with defects of nature, to all appearances 
one of life's colossal failures, toiling on incessantly 
at his great tasks, yet willing to pass from life's stage 
leaving no name behind him but a discredited one : 
at last dying, as it would seem, almost with the pen 
between his fingers, immense things accomplished, 
but not all he had set out to do : this, it seems, will 
have for the manhood of the England that " Shake- 
speare " most certainly loved, a power of inspiration 
far beyond anything contained in the conception we 
have displaced. 


" SHAKESPEARE is the only biographer of Shakespeare, 
and even he can tell nothing except to the Shake- 
peare in us." EMERSON. 

Autobio- The line of investigation pursued throughout the 

nn f ets. greater part of these pages has been to search for 
indirect and unconscious self-expression on the part 
of " Shakespeare." Anything like deliberate and 
complete direct self-disclosure is not to be expected : 
otherwise there would have been no problem for us 
to solve. There is, however, between the two a 
form of what may be called an intentional self- 
expression and self-revelation, which the writer might, 
or might not, hope would lead at last to definite self -dis- 
closure. Seeing, then, that we have insisted throughout 
on the distinction between the poet and the dramatist, 
and that Edward de Vere began and ended as a poet ; 
a lyric poet at the outset, and in his last years, as we 
believe, converting his dramas into poems : our first 
task must be to take whatever poetic self-revelation 
" Shakespeare " may have given of himself, and see 
to what extent it may be regarded as a work of self- 
disclosure on the part of Edward de Vere. Shake- 
speare's work of poetic self-expression is, of course, 
the Sonnets. The idea that these poems are fantastic 
dramatic inventions with mystic meanings we feel 



to be a violation of all normal probabilities and 
precedents. Accepting them, therefore, as auto- 
biographical, our next step must be to see how these 
poems, as a whole, stand related to the authorship 
theory we are now advancing. 

Several points of accord between Edward de Vere 
and the " Shakespeare " disclosed in the Sonnets 
have already received attention in the course of our 
argument ; these we shall now recapitulate. 

1. It was from the Sonnets that we first of all Former 


deduced Shakespeare's personal attitude towards summarized, 
women : that curious combination of intense 
affectionateness with want of faith. All the passionate 
tenderness of his nature combined with mistrust 
runs through the set of sonnets addressed to the 
'' dark lady " ; whilst his lack of faith finds an additional 
expression in the sonnets addressed to the young 

man, who is 

' ' not acquainted 
With shifting change as is false woman's fashion." 

The same passionate affectionateness finds expression 
in Oxford's verse, whilst the passage just quoted from 
the Sonnets is the particular theme of the whole of 
the first poem of Oxford's we met with : that on 
" Women." 

2. The writer of the Sonnets, notwithstanding the 
philosophic vigour of the poems, confesses to having 
" gone here and there and made himself a motley 
to the view " ; which is strictly in accord with the 
" lightheadedness " and " eccentricity " that are 
attributed to Oxford, along with the high testimony 
that has been borne to the superiority of his powers 
both by contemporaries and modern writers thus 
affording a contrast between his actual capacity and 


his external bearing which had not escaped the observa- 
tion of Burleigh himself. 

3. The Sonnets bear unmistakable testimony to 
the fact that the writer was one whose brow was 
stamped with " vulgar scandal " ; whose good name 
had been lost, and who, at the time of writing the 
sonnets dealing with this theme, wished that his 
name should be buried with his body. That Edward 
de Vere was a man fallen into disrepute is the one fact 
about him that seems to have been grasped by those 
who are at all acquainted with him. That it was a 
matter upon which he felt sore, as Shakespeare did, is 
shown by what is probably one of the most powerful 
of his poems ; one on " The Loss of his Good Name." 

4. Edward de Vere's loss, early in life, of home 
influences, and his being brought up at court : possibly, 
too, the Bohemian life necessary to the fulfilment of 
his purposes as a dramatist, all contributed to produce 
the conditions under which his " name received a 

This finds its expression in Sonnet in, 

1 ' O ! for my sake do you with fortune chide, 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, 
That did not better for my life provide 
Than public means uhich public manners breeds." 

5. That Shakespeare was one who was pursuing 
a vocation involving, at the outset, concealment of 
materials from those with whom he was in direct 
social relationship is evident from Sonnet 48. 

" How careful was I when I took my way 
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust." 

This exactly fits in with the bearing of Oxford's 
early domestic relationships upon his dramatic and 
literary enterprises. 


6. An allusion to Oxford's functions as Lord Great 
Chamberlain is probably contained in Sonnet 125 

" Were't aught to me I bore the canopy ? " 

7. As there is strong evidence to support our theory 
that Oxford was the man referred to by Spenser as 
" our pleasant Willie," we are able to connect with this 
theory the cryptic utterance of " Shakespeare " in the 
"Will" Sonnets: 

" For my name is Will." 

8. In our chapter on Posthumous Considerations 
we have shown that there is good ground for believing 
that " our ever-living poet " was dead when the 
Sonnets were published in 1609 ; and the fact that, 
after being penned during many years, the series 
was brought to an abrupt close, as near as can be 
judged just before the death of Edward de Vere, supports 
the contention that the writer of the Sonnets, who- 
ever he was, died at the same time as Edward de Vere. 

Starting with these several points of accord, which 
in their combination certainly represent a remarkable 
set of coincidences, our next task must be to examine 
the general situation represented in the Sonnets, and 
see to what extent this, along with the details just 
enumerated, combine and form a consistent unity, 
applicable to the person and circumstances of Edward 
de Vere. 

The first and most important set of sonnets is itself South- 
divisible into sections, the opening section being a ^n^' 
set of seventeen, the main burden of which is to urge an gi-" 
the young man to whom they are addressed, to marry, 
in order to secure the continuance of his own 


aristocratic family and the rebirth of his own attractive 
personality in his posterity. 

' ' Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart, 
Leaving thee living in posterity ? " 

"Thou stick'st not to conspire, 
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate 
Which to repair should be thy chief desire." 

' ' Who lets so fair a house fall to decay, 
Which husbandry in honour might uphold 
Against the stormy gusts of winter's day ? 

You had a father : let your son say so." 

We are not told who the particular young man was ; 
but the general assumption is that it was Henry 
Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. This is not only 
a reasonable supposition, but it would be unreasonable 
to suppose that it was any one else ; for the following 
reasons : 

1. The personal description exactly fits. 

2. The personal situation also fits, for his father 
was dead, his mother was living, he was the only 
surviving representative of his family, and efforts were 
being made to get him to marry : efforts which he was 

3. The poet addresses him in the same terms of 
strong affection as in the dedication to " Lucrece." 

4. Direct reference is made to the dedications. 
The fact of the young man's father being dead 

and his mother being still alive is made clear by the 
separate references to them : 

1 ' You had a father : let your son say so ' ' 


" Thou art thy mother's glass and she, in thee, 
Calls back the lovely April of her prime." 


Such references to Southamption's father and mother The 

are quite befitting a writer who was old enough to 

have been the father of the youth, and who had been ampton. 
on intimate terms with both parents ; for Oxford's 
former close association with the late Earl is made 
quite clear in the State Papers dealing with the catholic 
troubles some ten years before. The reference to 
" the lovely April " of the Countess's " prime " was 
natural to one who remembered her in her early years ; 
so that the youth, the deceased father, the Dowager 
Countess, and the writer, all assume a very intelligible 
relation to one another and to the poems, as soon 
as we assume the Earl of Oxford to have been the writer. 

On the other hand it is well-nigh impossible to fit 
William Shakspere of Stratford into the picture, and 
to think of him at the age of twenty-six, speaking 
with such assurance of intimate knowlege of the 
Countess's " lovely prime." We may perhaps be 
excused for reminding the reader again that it 
was the Countess of Southampton who made the 
entry after date into the accounts of the Treasurer of 
the Chamber, of the only reference to Shakespeare 
that these accounts contain. In a letter written later 
to her son she makes what has always been regarded 
as a mysterious allusion to some one whom she speaks 
of as " Falstaff." This, again, will be interesting to 
those who may think with Mr. Frank Harris that 
Falstaff is " Shakespeare's " caricature of himself 
under particular aspects. We need not pretend, 
however, to explain Lady Southampton's part in 
these matters. 

The identity of the young man of the sonnets with 
the one to whom the long poems were dedicated, is 
further attested by sonnets 81 and 82. 


Dedication ' ' Your name from hence immortal life shall have, 

of Though I, once dead, to all the world must die. 

" Lucrece." * * * * 

Your monument shall be my gentle verse." 

As, then, the name of Southampton is the only one 
which the poet has associated with his verse, not 
even excepting his own, it is difficult to see how the 
young man addressed could be any other than he ; 
especially as the companion sonnet proceeds, 

" I grant thou wert not married to my Muse, 
And therefore may'st, without attaint, o'erlook 
The dedicated words, which writers use 
Of their fair subject, blessing every book." 

In our conclusion that these Sonnets were addressed 
to Southampton, we have the full support of the 
great majority of authorities on the subject. 
w. H. and We desire to avoid as far as possible being drawn 
Dedication. 6 m * tne entanglements of discussing the dedication 
prefaced to Thorpe's edition of the Sonnets. Whether 
the letters W. H are the transposed initials of Henry 
Wriothesley or not, there are no traces of " our ever- 
living poet " attempting to give " immortality " 
to any other contemporary ; and the man to whom 
the first of the Sonnets are addressed was certainly the 
" begetter " of the first section in the sense of being 
their theme and inspiration. It is natural to suppose, 
therefore, that the " begetter " referred to in the 
dedication means the person to whom the particular 
sonnets are addressed. At the same time he was not 
the " only begetter " in this sense, since others of these 
poems are just as certainly addressed to a " dark 
lady." As, however, this dedication is without any 
" Shakespeare " authority it may have been penned 
by T. T. before he had read the whole series. At any 


rate, no conclusive argument can be drawn from a 
study of the initials alone. 

The only argument that really needs attention 
is to the effect that the use of the letters W. H. shows 
that, in the opinion of the writer of the dedication, 
Wriothesley was not the person to whom the Sonnets 
were addressed ; that, if concealment was aimed at, 
the transposed initials device was too transparent to 
have been used : whilst if concealment was not aimed 
at, the initials would have appeared in their right order. 
Decisive as this argument may appear, facts are 
unfortunately against it ; for, in the publication of 
an important anthology of the time, " England's 
Helicon," which contains matter relevant to our 
present enquiry, though put aside for the time being, 
the editor appears as L. N., the transposed initials of 
Nicholas Ling, the publisher of " Hamlet." W. H. 
may or may not therefore, have referred to Henry 
Wriothesley ; and, as we know nothing of the writer's 
authority, it evidently does not matter whether they 
do or do not. In a word, the discussion is perfectly 
useless, but will probably for that reason continue 
to exercise a strong fascination for " intellectuals." 

So much printer's ink has already been wasted over 
these initials that a little more will hardly matter. 
Seeing, then, that others have indulged in guesses 
about T. T., the favourite theory being that they refer 
to Thorpe the publisher, we may perhaps be permitted 
to point out that the name of the father of Oxford's 
widow was Thomas Trentham, and that if he were 
alive at the time when Oxford died, he would be the 
one to whom the widow would naturally turn 
for assistance in straightening out the affairs. 
Certainly her brother's name appears more than once 


in connection with the management of her son's 
estate. Fortunately the question is not likely to arise 
as to whether these initials are in their original or 
transposed order. 

Quite apart, however, from this discussion of the 

dedication, there is ample justification for the belief 

that the " better-angel " of the Sonnets was Henry 

Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton. 

The age of Now, as to the man who wrote the sonnets : for 

" our ever- . . . 

living poet." this is really the most important point. Throughout 
the whole series he assumes the attitude of a matured 
man addressing a youth. Indeed, in one of the other 
series he speaks of himself as being no " untutor'd 
youth," but that his " days are past the best." The 
following, from Sonnet 63 is unmistakable : 

" Against my love shall be, as I am now, 
With Time's injurious hand crush 'd and o'erworn ; 
When hours have drain'd his blood and fill'd his brow 
With lines and wrinkles, etc." 

We may even detect an indication of his approximate 
age in the lines : 

' ' When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, 
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field." 

The next point is the date at which these particular 
sonnets were written. We find that the first sonnets 
of the first set are assigned generally to about the 
year 1590, when Oxford was just forty years of age. 
The dedication of " Venus " to Wriothesley is dated 
1593; and as the sonnet which seems to refer to it 
is number 83, 1590 may be accepted as a reasonable 
date for these seventeen opening sonnets. This, then, 
is the situation represented by the poems. About 
the year 1590 a matured man " With Time's injurious 


hand crush'd and o'erworn," addressed to the youthful 
Earl of Southampton, then only about seventeen 
years of age, a number of sonnets urging upon him 
the question of matrimony, and putting in the specially 
aristocratic plea of maintaining the continuance of his 
family's succession. 

In respect to these facts we shall first consider the A 
Stratfordian position. In the year 1590, William 
Shakspere, the son of a Stratford citizen, having become 
interested in theatres, and thereby acquainted with 
a young man just home from the university, and 
having himself by that time attained the patriarchal 
age of twenty-six, suddenly becomes greatly concerned 
about the continuance of the youth's aristocratic 
family, and writes a set of exquisite sonnets urging 
him to marry. He also assumes the bearing and tone 
of a man of large and even painful experience, " past 
his best," with chilled blood and wrinkled brow. 
We doubt whether a more ridiculous position ever 
provoked the hilarity of mankind. The position of 
Bacon in respect to this matter is only slightly better ; 
for he, at that time, was still under thirty years of 
age, though, as one about the court, his acquaintance 
with Wriothesley would have been of longer duration 
and probably more intimate. 

Most amusing in connection with the question of 
the age of the poet is the theory that Roger Manners, 
Fifth Earl of Rutland, was the author of the sonnets. 
For in 1590 Roger Manners was only fourteen years 
of age, and the entire series of Shakespeare's Sonnets 
was brought to a close before he had reached the age 
of twenty-seven. 

To get over the inherent absurdity of William 
Shakspere being the author of these poems, far fetched 


South- explanations of his attitude have had to be invented, 

Oxford" * an< ^ tne personal contents of the sonnets either passed 
over as pure enigma, or interpreted in some extravagant 
metaphorical sense. The substitution of De Vere 
for the Stratford man alters all this, and makes these 
verses really intelligible and rational for the first time 
since they appeared over three hundred years ago. 
In the year 1590 Edward de Vere was forty years of 
age. Behind him there lay a life marked by vicissitudes 
in every way calculated to have given him a sense 
of age even beyond his forty years. He was a noble- 
man of the same high rank as Southampton and just 
a generation older. The question of the perpetuation 
of ancient aristocratic families was to him a matter of 
paramount interest ; an interest intensified by dis- 
appointment, for although he had several daughters, 
that dominant desire of feudal aristocrats, a son, had 
been denied him.* His only son had died in infancy 
and he was at this time a widower. The peculiar 
circumstances of the youth to whom the Sonnets were 
addressed were strikingly analogous to his own. 
Both had been left orphans and royal wards at an 
early age, both had been brought up under the same 
guardian, both had the same kind of literary tastes 
and interests, and later the young man followed 
exactly the same course as the elder had done as a 
patron of literature and the drama. 

Then just at the time when these sonnets were 
being written urging Southampton to marry, he was 
actually being urged into a marriage with a daughter 
of the Earl of Oxford; and this proposed marriage 
he was resisting, although his mother had sanc- 
tioned it, and the parties on the other side were 

* Nott : One authority says two sons. 




anxious to bring it about. This furnishes the vital 
connection between the Earl of Southampton and 
the Earl of Oxford, to which allusion has been made 
in previous chapters. We shall therefore state the 
fact in the words of the eminent Stratfordian authority 
to whom we are under such large obligations. 

" When he was seventeen Burleigh offered him a 
wife in the person of his granddaughter, Lady 
Elizabeth Vere, eldest daughter of his daughter Anne 
and of the Earl of Oxford. The Countess Southampton 
approved the match. . . . Southampton declined to 
marry" (Life of Shakespeare Sir Sidney Lee). 

Now with this fact in mind, and with a sense of all 
we have represented of the Earl of Oxford in these 
pages, let the reader turn again to the Sonnets, 
especially the first seventeen, and ponder them care- 
fully. To have urged marriage as a general and 
indefinite proposition upon a youth of seventeen, 
with the single aim of securing posterity for the youth, 
would have had something fatuous about it. In 
connection with a definite project of marriage, from 
one who was personally interested in it, the appeal 
comes to have, at last, an explicable relationship to fact. 

This had evidently occurred to Judge Webb ; for judge 
in his work on " The Shakespeare Mystery," he got Webb's 

J J support. 

so far as to attribute these sonnets to the particular 
marriage proposal, and even to suggest the idea of 
their being written by some one specially interested 
in the lady. How he managed to miss the obvious 
inference looks like another "Shakespeare mystery" 
in itself. The Judge surmises that as Bacon was 
nephew to the lady's grandfather, he might have felt 
sufficiently interested in the marriage proposal to 
have penned the Sonnets at this time. His Honour's 


Baconian leanings had evidently disturbed his juridical 
balance ; for not only would a family connection like 
this be much too remote to call forth such enthusiasm, 
but, as we have already said, Bacon, at the time of 
this marriage proposal was still under thirty years 
of age. 

Stratfordian Seeing that we have quoted a Baconian in support 
of the idea that the sonnets sprang from this particular 
marriage proposal, we may mention the fact that 
Mrs. Stopes, as a Stratfordian, supports the view, 
and suggests that Shakspere was urged to write the 
sonnets by some one who was anxious to bring about 
the marriage. 

No man answering to the description which the 
writer of the Sonnets gives of himself could have 
had better reasons for the peculiar kind of interest 
expressed in the poems than the father of the lady. 
To find so reasonable a key, then, to a set of sonnets 
on so peculiar a theme is something in itself ; and 
to find this key so directly connected with the very 
man whom we had selected as the probable author 
of the poems is almost disconcerting in its conclusive- 
ness. The very obviousness of it all makes us pause. 
For the first time since they appeared we feel entitled 
to maintain these seventeen sonnets are raised above 
the absurd and enigmatical, and made into a perfectly 
simple and intelligible expression of a legitimate 
desire. The older man who was urging the young 
one to think of sons, a matter not likely to interest a 
youth of seventeen, was contemplating his own 
possible posterity in the shape of grandsons. 

If, now, we turn from the external relationships 
represented by the sonnets to the internal sentiments 
which they express, though we may not be able to 


bring these yet within the bounds of what we should Sentiment 

now consider normal, it is difficult to imagine any sonnets. 

other set of circumstances under which the friendship 

of one man for another would fit in better with such 

expressions. All that is necessary is to read through 

the biographies of these two men, as they appear in 

the Dictionary of National Biography. It will then 

be realized that in many of its leading features the 

life of the younger man is a reproduction of the life 

of the elder. It is difficult to resist the feeling that 

Wriothesley had made a hero of De Vere, and had 

attempted to model his life on that of his predecessor 

as royal ward. When to this striking correspondence 

in external circumstances and literary and other 

interests is added the intensely affectionate . nature 

of the elder man, and his comparative isolation at the 

time, there exist certainly the most favourable 

conditions for such expressions of attachment as the 

sonnets contain. 

With regard to the rate of the output of these Proposal 
sonnets, it would be absurd to reduce it to one of 

simple arithmetic. Even works of poetic genius have speare's " 
nevertheless some relation to number and time. If, declines. 
then, sonnet 82, which refers to the dedications of 
the poems, were written about the years 1593-4, 
when the poems were published, we get an average 
of between 20 and 30 per year for the initial rate of 
production. That brings the first 17, in which the 
writer is harping largely upon the one string of marriage, 
well within the year which corresponds, so far as can 
be judged, to the time when the marriage of 
Southampton to De Vere's daughter was under 
consideration. Owing to Southampton's decided 
opposition the matter seems to have been dropped ; 


and, on turning to the sonnets, we find that although 
the personal feelings of the writer for Southampton 
become more intensely affectionate, concern for the 
young nobleman's posterity altogether disappears : 
for after these opening sonnets the question is never 
again raised. The writer of the Sonnets, it would 
seem, cared more about this particular marriage than 
about Southampton's posterity : a state of things 
which would have appeared strange by itself, but 
read in the light of Oxford's own personal interest 
in the particular marriage proposal which fell through, 
it is, of course, quite intelligible. 

Before leaving the question of this marriage proposal, 
seeing that we have already introduced the names 
of two others who have been put forward as candidates 
for Shakespearean honours, Bacon and Rutland, we 
may perhaps be excused for referring to the only other 
whose name, so far as we know, has been raised in 
this connection, namely William Stanley, Sixth Earl 
of Derby. He was about the same age as Bacon, and 
as a matter of fact, actually married the very lady 
whom Southampton was urged to marry. So that, 
if our theory of the authorship is correct, Mr. 
Greenstreet in England and M. Lefranc in France, 
in putting forward the son-in-law of Oxford as the 
author, may be congratulated upon having come very 
close to the right man. 

The Derby It may be worth while pointing out that, from 
letters in the Hatfield Manuscripts, it appears that 
Oxford interested himself more in his daughter 
Elizabeth than in either of the other two, and this 
marriage with William Stanley, Earl of Derby, was 
a matter of very special concern to him. Seeing, 
then, that the Derby theory arose from the simple 


fact that in 1599 the Earl of Derby had been occupied 
in " penning " plays, whilst nothing is known of his 
composing them, it is not an unreasonable supposition 
that, as husband to Oxford's favourite daughter, he 
may have been assisting his father-in-law in the actual 
penning of " Shakespeare's " plays. 

The other personal relationship with which these The 
poems Seal " Shakespeare " and the " dark lady," 
whom he describes as the " worser spirit," and his mystery. 
" female evil " presents a problem not yet solved, 
and which may remain unsolved for all time. There 
is perhaps no particular reason why we should trouble 
about it except for the purpose of doing justice to the 
poet. One thing does, however, stand out clearly 
from the set of sonnets (beginning 127) namely, that 
to him it was a matter of the heart, of a most intense 
and sincere character, but to the lady a much more 
equivocal affair. Nothing but an overwhelming heart 
hunger could ever have induced any man of spirit to 
maintain the attitude described. 

Mixed in with this shorter series we find that there The crossing 
are several sonnets which do not belong to it as a special ser ies e 
personal series. Nor do those which belong properly 
to the set appear to be all printed in the order in which 
they were written. If, however, we take those which 
refer to the " dark lady " episode in the writer's life, 
we find that just before the series is abruptly ended it 
touches upon matters dealt with in sonnets 40, 41, 
and 42 of the first series. In other words, the events 
dealt with in the second series (see 133-144) come 
to an end in the early part, possibly the second year, 
of the first series. This would bring us to the year 
before De Vere's second marriage. The events as a 
whole, then, would seem to belong to a period of about 


two years in the four years that he was a widower. 
The intolerable state of affairs which they disclose 
could not go on, and the words which Shakespeare 
puts into the mouth of Othello, might be taken as 
an allusion to his own personal affairs. 

4 ' Though that her jesses were my dear heart strings 
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind 
To play at Fortune." 

This is the passage which is exactly paralleled by 
De Vere in the lines : 

" Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist 
And let them fly, fair fools, which way they list." 

The sudden closing of the series is at any rate 
suggestive of such an action, and if we attribute words 
and action alike to the Earl of Oxford, his marriage, 
in the following year, would be in harmony with such 
an act of self -liberation from discreditable bonds. 
It is to be remarked, however, that it is as " Shake- 
speare " not as Oxford that we get evidence of this 
regrettable alliance. In spite of the general accusa- 
tions made against Oxford, no single definite and 
authenticated example is otherwise forthcoming. 
Peace and If, now, we take the whole of the short series as 
having been written about the same time as the first 
forty or fifty of the first series, we may resume the 
examination of the first sonnets at this point with a 
sense of their now forming an uninterrupted series, 
with no cross currents from the other set. From 
this point onwards neither the original theme of the 
young man's marriage, nor any allusion to the painful 
episode common to the two series appears. What 
there is of a painful character arises from personal 


retrospect, reflection, or passing moods, rather than 
from contemporary events ; which is quite suggestive 
of a man whose stormiest outward experiences were over. 
This corresponds to the period when the Shakespeare 
dramas were being given forth, and when Oxford was, 
to all appearances, enjoying his retirement after his 
second marriage. 

A hitch in the friendship between the poet and the 
young man appears about the time of the dedication 
of the poems (sonnets 80-90), and the particular 
circumstances that may have lain behind this and 
other references to passing events, would, of course, 
be known only to the parties involved. The important 
point is that all these appear, if not explained, at any 
rate explicable for the first time, when we suppose 
them to be written by the somewhat lonely and 
mysterious nobleman, whose known experiences joined 
to those which the sonnets reveal, represent him as 
one of the most pathetic and heroic figures in the 
tragic records of genius. 

As supplementary details we would suggest for 
consideration the following from sonnet 91. 

1 ' Some glory in their birth, some in their skill, Supple- 

Some in their wealth, some in their body's force ; mentary 
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill ; details. 

Some in their hawks and hounds ; some in their horse ; 
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure. 
* * * * 

All these I better in one general best, 
Thy love is better than high birth to me, 
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost, 
Of more delight than hawks or horses be." 

From a man like William Shakspere such an 
expression would be so palpably a case of " sour 
grapes," that it is incredible that any poet of intelligence 


would make himself so ridiculous. From a man in 
Oxford's position, who had had all of these things, 
and who had no doubt gloried in them all in turn, the 
expression is lifted above the childish and placed in 
a reasonable relationship to facts. It is not too much 
to claim that every word of this sonnet bespeaks 
Edward de Vere as its author ; for it gives us practically 
a symposium of the outstanding external facts of his life 
and his interests. Yet all these things, the advantages 
of birth, the fame for skill and "body's force," rich 
clothing, wealth, hawks, hounds and horses, he had 
proved himself capable of sacrificing to those interests 
that appealed to his spirit. In every particular, 
then, the contrast presented by supposing those 
sonnets to have been written by the Stratford man 
on the one hand or Edward de Vere on the other, 
leaves no doubt as to which of the two mankind 
would choose as the author if the decision had to rest 
on a consideration of the sonnets alone. 

importance The Sonnets stand there for every one to read, and 
Sonnets. no arguments could have the same value as an intimate 
knowledge of the poems themselves viewed in the 
light of the actual facts of the life and reputation of 
Edward de Vere. Upon all who wish to arrive at 
the truth of the matter we urge the close and frequent 
reading of the Sonnets. It is not necessary to believe 
that all the first set were addressed to the youth or 
all the second set to the " dark lady." Nor is it 
necessary to solve the mystery of the dark lady : 
for it is not in the nature of things for such a man to 
pass away and leave no insoluble mysteries. Some 
of the Sonnets seem to have no personal bearing and 
others can hardly be made applicable to the two 
chief personalities. These things are immaterial. 


Neither is it necessary to penetrate all the disguises 
which " Shakespeare " himself, or his executors after 
him, may have thought right to adopt in respect to 
these effusions of sentiment and their objects. But 
we are unable to place ourselves in the position of a 
reader, who with the facts concerning Oxford that we 
have submitted, can become conversant with these 
Sonnets without realizing that they reflect at once the 
soul and the circumstances of " the best of the courtier 
poets of the early days of Queen Elizabeth." 

In conclusion, we must add a word about the The inventor 
technique of the Sonnets. Shakespeare's rejection of 

the Petrarcan sonnet we hold to have been sound spearean 

. sonnet. 

poetic judgment, based upon a true ear for the musical 
qualities and acoustic properties of the English 
language. The Petrarcan sonnet has grown out of 
the distinctive qualities of the language of Italy, 
and the attempt to impose its rhyme rules upon the 
English sonnet, involving so great a sacrifice of sense 
to sound, has gone far to produce the relative poverty 
of post-Shakespearean sonneteering. However this 
may be, the Shakespearean sonnet has its own 
distinctiveness, which bears upon our subject. 

The so-called " Shakespeare sonnet," we are told 
by William Sharp in his " Sonnets of this Century " 
(igth), possesses " a capability of impressiveness 
unsurpassed by any sonnet of Dante or Milton." He 
points out, however, that when Shakespeare used 
this form of sonnet in the last years of the sixteenth 
century, he was using a form " made thoroughly 
ready for his use by Daniel and Drayton." Now, as 
Daniel was twelve years, and Drayton thirteen years 
younger than Edward de Vere, and as the last named 
was publishing poetry at a relatively early age, it 


is clear that his early lyrics come before those of 
either of the other two men. 

Seeing, then, that we have a sonnet of Edward de 
Vere's which is obviously an early production, and 
that this is in what we now call the Shakespearean 
form, we are entitled to claim, on the above authority, 
that the actual founder of the Shakespearean sonnet 
was Edward de Vere : certainly a very important 
contribution to the evidence we have been accumulat- 
ing. The Sonnets, therefore, which are fundamentally 
a work of spiritual self -revelation, almost become 
a work of complete self -disclosure. In submitting 
the following sonnet of Oxford's mainly on account of 
its form we would also point out its note of constancy : 
a theme upon wnich many of " Shakespeare's " 
sonnets dwell. 


Who taught thee first to sigh, alas ! my heart ? 

Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint ? 
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart ? 

Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint ? 
Who first did paint with colours pale thy face ? 

Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest ? 
Above the rest in court who gave thee grace ? 

Who made thee strive in honour to be best ? 
In constant truth to bide so firm and sure, 

To scorn the world regarding but thy friends ? 
With patient mind each passion to endure, 

In one desire to settle to the end ? 
Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind 
As nought but death may ever change thy mind. 

This, then, may be regarded as the first " Shake- 
speare " sonnet. It is the only sonnet in the collection 
of Edward de Vere's poems, and it is composed in the 


only form employed by Shakespeare, altough other Oxford's 
sonneteers were then experimenting upon other forms. Romeo *" 
It is obviously one of his earliest efforts, for it expresses 
an attitude towards woman only found in one other 
of his poems, "What Cunning Can Express?" 
an attitude belonging to the unsullied ideals of his 
youth, which later on gave place to the cynicism or 
bitterness of the De Vere poem on " Women," and of 
what are now known as the " Shakespeare Sonnets." 
From the point of view of evidence of Oxford's identity 
with Shakespeare its chief value lies in its technique, 
which is most certainly Shakespearean. It does, how- 
ever, furnish another link in the chain of evidence 
which is worth mentioning. 

The first sonnets of " Shakespeare's " to appear 
were those in " Romeo and Juliet ; " a play which 
has already furnished us with important connections 
between Edward de Vere's poetry and Shakespeare. 
Now, " Romeo and Juliet," not only first presents 
sonnets on this model, but it is the only play of Shake- 
speare's which expresses seriously the sentiment of this 
sonnet of Edward de Vere's. Shakespeare's comedies 
treat the theme of man's love for woman in the spirit 
of comedy ; and his great tragedies like " Othello " 
and " Antony and Cleopatra," give us the vigorous 
passions of matured men. " Romeo and Juliet " 
alone, of all the plays, gives us seriously the tender, 
gentle, idealistic love of young people. And, as we 
have already more than once pointed out, Juliet was 
just the age of Oxford's wife at the time of their 
marriage (about 14 years). 

With this sonnet of Oxford's in mind then, turn 
to " Romeo and Juliet," and look into the text of 
the play, especially the parts spoken by, or in reference 


to Romeo himself, observing the allusions to sighings, 
floods of womanish tears, bitter griefs, broken sleep, 
pledges of constancy, and death. The youthful 
Romeo in the play is the young Earl of Oxford as he 
represents himself in the sonnet before us. 

So much from the point of view of evidence. We 
have, however, another purpose to achieve in this 
work ; namely, to assist towards the formation of a 
correct estimate of Edward de Vere. We ask, there- 
fore, for a careful weighing of this particular poem 
and the spirit it reveals. Gentle, tender-hearted, 
supersensitive, idealistic, refined almost to the point 
of femininity ; such is the young Earl of Oxford as 
he here reveals himself. And as in the light of such 
a revelation we review the various references to him 
in modern books, we can only say, without attempt- 
ing to fasten the full blame anywhere, that he was 
the victim of a most adverse fate : the many references 
to which throughout the sonnets stand now explained 
for the first time, making plain why a Shakespeare 
Problem, or a Shakespeare Mystery, has happened 
to have a place in the world's history. 

We conclude our examination of the sonnets with 
a sense of its being marked by the same feature as 
has manifested itself in every other section of our 
investigation : namely, that it is not merely in one 
or two striking points that the personality disclosed 
coincides with that of the Earl of Oxford ; but that 
everything fits in, in a most extraordinary manner, 
the moment his personality is introduced. There is 
surely only one explanation possible for all this. 


" IN Hamlet Shakespeare has revealed too much of 
himself." FRANK HARRIS. 

As the fame of Shakespeare rests chiefly upon his shake- 
great achievements in drama, it is to these that the s P e ^ re ' s 

con tern - 

world is bound to look for some special revelation of poraries in 
the author himself. Such a revelation, however, 
it must be expected, will be in keeping with the 
character of his genius. Cryptograms and anagrams, 
though they may play a part, especially the latter, as 
being a recognized feature of the literature of the 
times, can only come in as supplementary to some- 
thing greater : the real self -revelation being a dramatic 

The essential objectivity of Shakespeare's work, 
with its foundations fixed in observation, is assurance 
enough that his characters would be taken from his 
own experience of the men and women about him. 
Mere photographic reproduction, of course, such a 
genius would not offer us ; but actually living men 
and women, artistically modified and adjusted to fit 
them for the part they had to perform, are what we 
may be sure the plays contain. The fact that these 
have not been identified before now is no doubt due, 
in part, to such cunning disguises as we should naturally 
expect from a mind so profound and complex. The 
fact, too, that the active life of the reputed author 



does not fit in with either the time or circumstances of 
the active life of the actual author has also tended 
to prevent detection. Another explanation is that 
" Shakespeare " probably saw contemporary events 
and personalities from a standpoint totally different 
from that taken by Englishmen since his day. If, 
therefore, the substitution of a new personality, as 
author, furnishes a point of view which enables us 
to identify characters in the plays, it will form a very 
strong argument that the right man has been dis- 

Such a faculty of observation as we notice in him, 
leading him to fix his attention specially upon those 
whose lives pressed directly upon his own inevitable 
in one so sensitive and self-conscious as the Sonnets 
reveal him is certain to have made his work much 
more a record of his own personal relationships 
than has hitherto been supposed. His special domain, 
moreover, being the study of the human soul, this 
faculty of observation must have compelled him to 
subject his own nature to a rigorous examination and 
analysis. Consequently, when the author is better 
known, it will doubtless be found that his works are 
packed with delineations and studies of his own 
spiritual experiences. The working out of this depart- 
ment of Shakespearean enquiry belongs largely to the 
future. Something of this kind has, however, already 
been attempted in a desultory manner in these pages. 
Our present purpose is somewhat more definite. 

The The long accepted notion that the author has not 

given us a representation of himself in his plays breaks 

dramas. down completely, as we have seen, under the view 
of authorship put forward in this work. Already 
attention hai been drawn to the case of Lord Berowne 


in " Love's Labour's Lost," and also to a most strik- 
ing parallel between Edward de Vere and another 
of Shakespeare's characters, namely Bertram in " All's 

Bertram, a young lord of ancient lineage, of which 
he is himself proud, having lost a father for whom 
he entertained a strong affection, is brought to court 
by his mother and there left as a royal ward, to be 
brought up under royal supervision. As he grows up 
he asks for military service and to be allowed to travel, 
but is repeatedly refused or put off. At last he goes 
away without permission. Before leaving he had 
been married to a young woman with whom he had 
been brought up, and who had herself been most 
active in bringing about the marriage. Matrimonial 
troubles, of which the outstanding feature is a refusal 
of cohabitation, are associated with both his stay 
abroad and his return home. Such is the summary of 
a story we have told in fragments elsewhere, and is 
as near to biography, or autobiography if our theory 
be accepted, as a dramatist ever permitted himself to go. 
The later discovery, which we have fortunately been 
able to incorporate into this work before publication, 
that the central incident of Bertram's matrimonial 
trouble has a place in the records of the Earl of Oxford, 
leaves no doubt as to his being the prototype of 
Bertram. Still it is conceivable that a contemporary 
dramatist, knowing De Vere's story, had utilized 
parts of it in writing the play ; and, therefore, if 
viewed alone, is not entitled to be called a dramatic 
self -revelation. 

Properly speaking, it is the whole of the dramas 
that constitutes the full dramatic self -revelation. 
It is, therefore, as we approach the highest triumphs of 


The world's his genius, which represent the whole, that his work 
becomes a special or synoptic self-revelation. This, 
however, pertains to the inward or spiritual life 
rather than to its external forms. If, then, to a 
spiritual correspondence there is added a marked 
agreement in external circumstances, as evidence of 
the personal identity of the author such dramatic work 
becomes specially convincing. The question, therefore, 
resolves itself into this. What play of Shakespeare's 
holds such pre-eminence that we are entitled to regard 
it as a work of special self -revelation, and how far 
do its inner spiritual facts, and the outward forms 
in which they are clothed, warrant the assumption 
that they constitute a work of self-revelation on the 
part of Edward de Vere ? 

On the first point, the choice of play, there is 
fortunately no need for the exercise of our own 
individual judgment, nor any uncertainty as to the 
social verdict ; for the world at large has long since 
proclaimed the play of " Hamlet " as the great tour 
de force of this master dramatist. The comedy of 
" Love's Labour's Lost " undoubtedly occupies a 
unique position amongst the lighter plays. It is 
usually accorded priority in time ; it bears unmistak- 
able evidence of the most painstaking labour ; and 
it was the first to be published under the pseudonym 
of " Shakespeare." The correspondence of its central 
figure, Berowne, with the Earl of Oxford has therefore 
a special value, particularly if taken as supplementary 
to the play of " Hamlet." 

The central figure in the latter play occupies, how- 
ever, a most exceptional position in relation to the 
work in which he appears, and therefore stands out 
as the supreme dramatic creation of the artist. "The 


play of ' Hamlet ' with Hamlet left out " has become 
a proverbial expression for the very extreme of 
deprivation ; and Sir Sidney Lee assures us that 
" the total length of Hamlet's speeches far exceeds 
that of those allotted by Shakespeare to any others 
of his characters." These, again, have so passed 
into common currency as to justify the well-worn 
joke about the play being " full of quotations." The 
play and the character of " Hamlet " may therefore 
be accepted as being in a peculiar sense the dramatic 
self-revelation of the author, if such a revelation 
exists anywhere. 

Great as is the mass of printed matter which this Hamlet and 
particular creation has already called forth, probably Destin y- 
exceeding in amount what has been written about 
any other literary work of similar dimensions outside 
the Bible, more is certain to appear if we succeed 
in making good our chief claim. The burden of 
much that has appeared is to the effect that in Hamlet 
the poet meant to give us the picture of a human soul 
struggling with Destiny. We venture to say that he 
meant nothing so philosophically abstract; but that 
what he was actually striving most consciously and 
earnestly to do, was to represent himself ; and he, 
like every other human being born into this world who 
succeeds in keeping his soul alive, was indeed a soul 
struggling most tragically with Destiny ; refusing 
to be swept along passively by the currents into which 
his life was plunged or to surrender to the adverse 
forces within himself. This is certainly the picture 
which stands out from that self-presentation of the 
poet contained in his sonnets ; and the fact that 
the character of Hamlet has been denned in terms 
that bring it into direct accord with that poetic self- 


revelation, is one more proof that the play is intended 
to be a special and direct dramatic self -revelation. 
It is this personal factor, doubtless, that has given 
to the drama that intense vitality and realism which 
makes its words and phrases grip the mind ; becoming 
thus the instruments by which mankind at large 
have found new means of self-expression. 
Hamlet is It is this fact of Hamlet representing the dramatist 
himself which also makes him stand out from all 
Shakespeare's characters as an interpreter of the 
motives of human actions. Into no other character 
has the author put an equal measure his own distinctive 
powers of insight into human nature. Whilst other 
personages in the play are trying to penetrate his 
mystery, to discover his purposes and to read his 
mind, we find Hamlet confusing them all, and, mean- 
while, reading them like an open book. 

" I set you up a glass 
Where you may see the inmost part of you," 

he says to his mother. 

All that quickness of the senses which marks alike 
the work of De Vere and Shakespeare manifests 
itself in the person of Hamlet. He misses nothing ; 
and every thing he sees or hears opens some new 
avenue to the " inmost parts " of those about him. 
A man like this is almost foredoomed to a tragic 
loneliness ; for even such a love as he shows 
towards Ophelia and she towards him cannot blind 
him to her want of honesty in her dealings. He sees 
much of which he may not speak. In the play he 
can express himself in soliloquy or cunningly reveal 
to the audience what is hidden from the other 
personages in the drama ; but in real life he would 


become a man of large mental reserves and an 
enforced secretiveness. Something of this is certainly 
noticeable in the slight records we have of De 
Vere : a trait which even Burleigh found discon- 

Having decided that " Hamlet " is the play which, DC Vere as 
by its pre-eminence, is entitled to be regarded as Hamlet - 
" Shakespeare's " special work of self -delineation, 
the next part of our problem is to see whether the 
revelation it contains has a marked and peculiar 
applicability to the case of Edward de Vere. In 
examining the work from this point of view it must 
be borne in mind that Shakespeare's plots are seldom 
pure inventions. The dramatist is obliged, therefore, 
to conform in certain essentials to the original ; and 
it is to what he works into this, and the special adapta- 
tions he makes, that we must look for his self-revelation, 
rather than to the central idea of the plot itself. 
Naturally, however, his own definite purposes must 
influence his choice of plot : though it must also be 
borne in mind that self-disguise is one of his purposes 
as well as self-expression. 

In testing the parallel we must substitute first of Life at 
all the royal court of England for the royal court of court - 
Denmark. For Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, at the 
Danish court we shall then have to substitute Edward, 
Earl of Oxford, at the court of England. Oxford, 
of course, was not a prince of royal blood : but then 
there were no princes of royal blood at the English 
court, and the Earl of Oxford, in his younger days, 
was the nearest approach to a royal prince that the 
English court could boast. In the matter of ancient 
lineage and territorial establishment a descendant of 
Aubrey de Vere had nothing to fear in comparison 


with a descendant of Owen Tudor. And when it is 
remembered that noblemen of inferior standing to 
Oxford were, in those days, contemplating the 
possibility of sharing royal honours, either with 
Elizabeth or her possible successor, the Queen of 
Scotland, for the dramatist to represent himself as 
a royal prince was no extravagant self-aggrandizement. 
With the substitution we have recommended in mind, 
let the reader turn again to " Hamlet " and read the 
play with the attention fixed, not upon the plot, but 
upon the characterization. If he does not experience 
all the elation which comes with new illumination, 
if he does not feel that every line of Hamlet's speeches 
pulsates with the heart and spirit of Oxford, either 
we have failed to represent accurately, or he has failed 
to appreciate, the character and circumstances of this 
remarkable and unfortunate nobleman. 

We shall endeavour to indicate elements of 
parallelism and coincidence between the two, but 
nothing can take the place of an attentive and dis- 
criminating reading of the play itself. As, then, we 
have elsewhere urged that one of the most convincing 
proofs is to read the sonnets, so now we would also 
urge those who are interested to read Hamlet. Already, 
in tracing illustrations of the life and circumstances 
of De Vere in Shakespeare's works, we have frequently 
had to call attention to analogies with Hamlet, 
extending to details of private relationships. We 
may therefore shorten our present task by asking 
the reader to revert to those chapters dealing with 
the early and middle periods of Oxford's life. 

Following upon the consideration of his social rank 
comes the central fact of Hamlet's working out a 
secret purpose under a mask of eccentricity amounting 


almost to feigned madness. To have feigned complete Hamlet's 
madness would not have allowed him to accomplish e 
his purpose, and therefore he assumes just sufficient 
insanity as is necessary to bewilder those whom he 
wishes to circumvent, and who are trying to circumvent 
him. It is a match of wits in which the ablest mind 
wins by allowing his inferior antagonists to suppose 
him mentally deficient. Now the records we have 
of Oxford represent his eccentricity in his early and 
middle period as being of an extreme character, and 
if we suppose him to be Shakespeare, we can quite 
believe that his own secret purposes were being 
pursued partly under a mask of vagary. 

It is to be observed how frequently Hamlet employs Resistance 
this particular stratagem in resisting molestation, interference 
especially from those who are trying to penetrate his 
secrets. This appears in his dealings with Rosencrantz, 
Guildenstern, Polonius and Ophelia. Now this 
resistance to interference stands out clearly at the 
time when Oxford, having returned from abroad, 
is reported to have behaved in a strange manner 
towards Lady Oxford ; for, in addition to the 
taciturnity which he adopted, and which one writer 
calls " sulkiness," he says, in the letter quoted in 
our " Othello " argument, " neither will he weary 
his life any more with such troubles and molestations 
as he has endured." Compare especially with the 
spirit expressed in this, the interesting scene in which 
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are trying to probe and 
"play upon" Hamlet (III. 2). "You would play 
upon me ; you would seem to know my stops ; you 
would pluck out the heart of my mystery ; you would 
sound me from my lowest note to the top of my 
compass. 'S blood ! do you think I am easier to be 

4 66 


Comedy in 

father and 

played on than a pipe ? Though you can fret me, 
you cannot play upon me." 

That Hamlet is Shakespeare's representation of 
himself receives confirmation from another character- 
istic which the latter shares with Oxford. That 
remarkable combination of tragedy with comedy, 
in the ordinary sense of these words, which we find 
in Shakespeare attains its highest development in 
the play of " Hamlet." The only possible competitor 
is " The Merchant of Venice." In the latter we have 
a comedy which may at any moment resolve itself 
into an appalling tragedy. In " Hamlet " we have 
a tragedy which, at parts, runs perilously near comedy, 
and may at any moment break up in absolute farce. 
Even in times of melancholy and in the very thick 
of disaster the wit and subtle fun of the hero never 
desert him. Over his life there hangs a dark shadow. 
Impotence, failure and despondency dog his steps. 
Yet, when things are at their worst he turns rapidly 
upon his butts, teasing and confusing them with an 
evident enjoyment of the intellectual fun of the business. 
The play of " Hamlet," which may therefore, in this 
particular, be taken as a compendium of " Shake- 
speare's " dramas as a whole, is unquestionably 
symptomatic of the general mental constitution and 
career of the Earl of Oxford. 

The social position and general character of the hero 
of this play having lent support to the theory that 
its author was Edward de Vere, we shall find additional 
and even more surprising corroboration when we 
turn to the details of personal relationships. The 
driving force in the play of " Hamlet " is, of course, 
father-worship ; the love and admiration of a son 
for a dead father who had borne himself in a manner 


worthy of his exalted station. Such affection and 
respect is the spontaneous source of ancestor-worship. 
Although, therefore, we are not told that father- 
worship was a marked trait in Edward de Vere, we 
have abundant justification for such an assumption, 
and might indeed infer it from the fact that ancestor- 
worship was a pronounced feature of his character. 

When, however, we turn to Hamlet's relationship 
to his surviving parent we are met with a totally 
different picture. Grief and disappointment at his 
mother's conduct lie at the root of all the tragedy of 
his life. With a capacity for intense affection, such 
as we have already pointed out in " Shakespeare " 
and in De Vere, Hamlet was incapable of any real 
trust in womanhood. His faith had been shattered 
by the inconstancy of his own mother. This curious 
combination of intense affectionateness with weakness 
of faith in women is therefore characteristic of all 
three, "Shakespeare" (in his sonnets), Hamlet, and 
De Vere. 

It would not be fair to the memory of De Vere's Oxford and 
mother to maintain, in the absence of positive proof, 
that she had furnished by her inconstancy a justifica- 
tion of her son's mistrust. We may, however, draw 
attention to facts that might account for it, even 
if they did not justify it. It has already been pointed 
out that in the short biography of De Vere, from 
which we have drawn so freely, no mention whatever 
is made of his mother, and one gets the impression 
that after his father's death she had almost dropped 
out of his life, the whole of the circumstances contrast- 
ing markedly with those recorded of Southampton 
and his mother. From the account given of De Vere's 
father, however, we learn that his widow died in 


1568, Oxford being then only eighteen years of age ; 
and that sometime in these early years of his life at 
the royal court, his mother had married Sir Charles 
(or Christopher) Tyrell. As, moreover, her death 
occurred at Castle Hedingham, one of the chief of 
the ancestral homes of the De Veres, it looks as though 
Oxford's stepfather had established himself on the 
family estates, and may have appeared to the youth 
as having doubly supplanted his father, first in his 
mother's affections and then in the hereditary domains. 
This, of course, is the situation represented in Hamlet. 
Whether, in addition to the central fact, there had 
also been an unseemly brevity in the widowhood of 
Oxford's mother we cannot tell ; for although the 
precise date of her death is given, the date of her 
second marriage is not. We have spent much time 
in the search for this date ; so far without result. 
It will be interesting, therefore, to learn whether or 
not it was an " o'er hasty marriage," and whether as 
Hamlet ironically remarked, 

' ' The funeral baked meats 
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables." 

Apart from this, however, there was sufficient in 
the general situation to cut very deeply into the mind 
of an imaginative and supersensitive youth, and to 
have struck a severe blow at that poetic ideal of 
feminine constancy which was natural to his age and 
temperament. The important point for our present 
argument is that we have in Oxford the same moral 
trait that we have in Hamlet, that we have parallel 
external circumstances tending towards its production, 
and that these external circumstances are just such 
as might lead to all the tragic developments which 


succeeded in both instances. Faith in motherhood 
being the fount at which faith in womanhood may be 
revived when threatened by the failure of other 
relationships, the man who like Hamlet or Oxford 
lacks this faith to carry him through crises, can have 
but a hopeless outlook on the most vital and 
fundamental of human relationships. 

The personal relationship in the play which bears Poionius and 
most critically upon our present argument is that Burlei g h - 
of Hamlet with Poionius and Ophelia. The chief 
minister at the royal court of Denmark is Poionius. 
The chief minister at the royal court of England was 
Burleigh. Is the character of Poionius such that we 
may identify him with Burleigh ? Again it is not a 
question of whether Poionius is a correct representa- 
tion of Burleigh, but whether he is a possible 
representation of the English minister from the special 
point of view of the Earl of Oxford. To what has 
already been said elsewhere in this connection, it 
will perhaps suffice to quote from Macaulay's essay 
on Burleigh: 

" To the last Burleigh was somewhat jocose ; and 
some of his sportive sayings have been recorded by 
Bacon. They show much more shrewdness than 
generosity, and are indeed neatly expressed reasons 
for exacting money rigorously and for keeping it 
carefully. It must, however, be acknowledged that 
he was rigorous and careful for the public advantage 
as well as for his own. To extol his moral character 
is absurd. It would be equally absurd to represent 
him as a corrupt, rapacious and bad hearted man. 
He paid great attention to the interest of the state, 
and great attention also to the interest of his own 





Hardly any one will deny that Macaulay's delineation 
of Burleigh is correct portraiture of Polonius ; and, 
therefore, if Burleigh appeared thus to Macaulay 
after two and a half centuries had done their purifying 
work on his memory, one can readily suppose his 
having presented a similar appearance to a con- 
temporary who had had no special reason to bless 
his memory. The resemblance becomes all the more 
remarkable if we add to this description the spying 
proclivities of Denmark's minister, the philosophic 
egoism he propounds under a gloss of morality, his 
opposition to his son's going abroad, and his references 
to his youthful love affair and to what he did " at 
the university." All these are strikingly characteristic 
of Burleigh and the most of them have already been 
adequately dealt with. 

Probably the most conclusive evidence that Polonius 
is Burleigh is to be found in the best known lines which 
Shakespeare has put into the mouth of Denmark's 
minister the string of worldly-wise maxims which 
he bestows upon his son Laertes (Act I. 3). They 
are much too well known to require repetition here. 
With these in mind, however, consider the maxims 
which Burleigh laid down for his favourite son, of 
which Burleigh's biographer (Martin A. S. Hume) 
remarks that though " these precepts inculcate 
moderation and virtue, here and there Cecil's own 
philosophy of life peeps out." He then gives 
examples : 

" Let thy hospitality be moderate." 

" Beware that thou spendest not more than three or 
four parts of thy revenue." 

" Beware of being surety for thy best friends ; he that 
payeth another man's debts seeketh his own decay." 


"With thine equals be familiar yet respectful." 

" Trust not any man with thy life, credit, or estate." 

" Be sure to keep some great man for thy friend." 

The whole method, style, language and sentiment 
are reproduced so much to the life in Polonius's advice 
to Laertes that Shakespeare seems hardly to have 
exercised his own distinctive powers at all in composing 
the speech. The connection of the advice of Polonius 
with similar precepts in Lyly's " Euphues " has long 
been recognized. What seems hitherto to have 
escaped notice is that both have a common source in 
Burleigh. How much of what appears in Lyly of 
these precepts was derived through Oxford it would 
be useless to discuss. The general relations of the 
two men has already been sufficiently considered. 

We take this opportunity of remarking, what may The ethics 
not be very material to our argument, that the spirit of Poloni us. 
of the closing words of Polonius's speech, the words 
beginning, " Unto thine own self be true," seems to 
us to be generally quite misunderstood. These words 
bring to a close a speech which, throughout, is a 
direct appeal in every word to mere self-interest. 
Is, then, this last passage framed in a nobler mould 
with a high moral purpose and an appeal to lofty 
sentiment ? We think not. The bare terms in which 
the final exhortation is cast, stripped of all ethical 
inferences and reinterpretations, are as direct an 
appeal to self-interest as everything else in the speech. 
They are, " unto thine own self ; " not unto the best 
that is in you, nor the worst. Consistently with 
his other injunctions he closes with one which 
summarizes all, the real bearing of which may perhaps 
be best appreciated by turning it into modern slang : 


" Be true to ' number one.' Make your own interests 
your guiding principle, and be faithful to it." 
Opportunist This is quite in keeping with the cynical egoism of 
moraiiring. Burleigh's advice, " Beware of being surety for thy 
best friends " ; but " keep some great man for thy 
friend." And, of course, it does " follow as the night 
the day " that a man who directs his life on this 
egoistic principle cannot, truly speaking, be false to 
any man. A man cannot be false to another unless 
he owes him fidelity. If, therefore, a man only 
acknowledges fidelity to his own self, nothing that he 
can do can be a breach of fidelity to another. On 
this principle Burleigh was true to himself when he 
made use of the patronage of Somerset ; he was 
still true to himself, not false to Somerset, when he 
drew up the articles of impeachment against his former 
patron. Bacon was true to himself when he made 
use of the friendship of Essex ; he was still true to 
himself, not false to Essex, when he used his powers 
to destroy his former friend. 

This philosophic opportunism was therefore a very 
real thing in the political life of those days. And 
the fact that Shakespeare puts it into the mouth not 
of a moralist but of a politician, and as we believe, 
into the mouth of one whom he intended to represent 
Burleigh, serves to justify both the very literal 
interpretation we put upon these sentences, and the 
identification of Polonius with Elizabeth's chief 
minister. Needless to say, one who like " Shake- 
speare " was imbued with the best ideals of feudalism, 
with their altruistic conceptions of duty, social fidelity 
and devotion would never have put forward as an 
exalted sentiment, any ethical conception resting 
upon a merely personal and individualist sanction. 


For this admiration of the moral basis of feudalism 
would enlighten him in a way which hardly anything 
else could, respecting the sophistry which lurks 
in every individualist or self-interest system of 

The advice of Polonius to Laertes is given just Laertes and 
as the latter is about to set out for Paris, and all the 
instructions of the former to the spy Reynaldo have 
reference to the conduct of Laertes in that city. The 
applicability of it all to Burleigh's eldest son Thomas 
Cecil, afterwards Earl of Exeter, and founder of the 
present house of Exeter, will be apparent to any one 
who will take the trouble to read G. Ravenscroft 
Dennis's work on " The House of Cecil." 

The tendency towards irregularities, at which 
Ophelia hints in her parting words to her brother, is 
strongly suggestive of Thomas Cecil's life in Paris ; 
and all the enquiries which Polonius instructs the spy 
to make concerning Laertes are redolent of the private 
information which Burleigh was receiving, through some 
secret channel, of his son Thomas's life in the French 
capital. For he writes to his son's tutor, Windebank, 
that he " has a watchword sent him out of France 
that his son's being there shall serve him to little 
purpose, for that he spends his time in idleness." 
We are told that Thomas Cecil incurred his father's 
displeasure by his " slothfulness," " extravagance," 
" carelessness in dress," " inordinate love of unmeet 
plays, as dice and cards " ; and that he learnt to 
dance and play at tennis. 

With these things in mind let the reader again go 
carefully over the advice of Polonius to Laertes, and 
the former's instructions to Reynaldo. He will 
hardly escape, we believe, a sense of the identity of 


father and son, with Burleigh and his son Thomas 
Cecil. One point in Hamlet's relations with Laertes 
strikes one as peculiar : his sudden and quite un- 
expected expression of affection : 

1 ' What is the reason that you use me thus ? 
I loved you ever." 

Now the fact is that Thomas Cecil was one entirely 
out of touch with and in many ways quite antagonistic 
to Burleigh and his policy. In spite of his wildness 
in early life he is spoken of as "a brave and un- 
affected man of action, out of place in court, but with 
all the finest instincts of a soldier." He was also 
one of those who, along with Oxford, favoured the 
Queen's marriage with the Duke of Alenson, in direct 
opposition to the policy of Burleigh. Thomas Cecil 
was an older man than Oxford, and they had much 
in common to form the basis of affection. 
Ophelia It is impossible therefore to resist the conclusion 

Oxford y t* 13 * Plnius is Burleigh, and that Thomas Cecil 
formed, in part at any rate, the model for Laertes. 
This being so, it follows almost as conclusively, that 
Hamlet is Oxford. For, although Polonius's daughter, 
Ophelia, was not actually Hamlet's wife, she represents 
that relationship in the play. The royal consent 
had been given to the marriage, and it was through 
no fault either of herself or her father that the union 
did not take place. Hamlet's bearing towards his 
would-be father-in-law is moreover strongly suggestive 
of Oxford's bearing towards his actual father-in-law. 
What points of resemblance may have existed between 
Ophelia and Lady Oxford it is impossible to say. 
We notice, however, that the few words the Queen 
speaks respecting Ophelia harp on the idea of that 


sweetness which, we have noticed, Lady Oxford and 
Helena in " All's Well " had in common : 

" Sweets to the sweet : farewell ! I thought thou 
should'st have been my Hamlet's wife . . . sweet maid." 

Something too, of that mistrust and peculiar treatment 
which Hamlet extended to Ophelia has already been 
remarked in Oxford's bearing towards his wife, along 
with suggestions of the ultimate growth of a similar 

We have also observed that the only accusation 
which Oxford was willing to make against his wife 
was that she was allowing her parents to interfere 
between herself and him. This is precisely the state 
of things to which Hamlet objects in Ophelia. He 
perceives that Polonius is spying upon him with 
her connivance, and cunningly puts her to the test ; 
whereon she lies to him. His reply is an intimation 
to her that he had detected the lie. 

Hamlet. Where is your father ? 
Ophelia. At home, my lord. 

Hamlet. Let the doors be shut on him that he may 
play the fool nowhere but in 's own house. 

Hamlet's use of the double sense of the word 
" honest " in a question to Ophelia the identical 
word which in its worse sense was thrust to the front 
by Burleigh respecting the rupture between Lord and 
Lady Oxford is not without significance. Polonius, 
we take it, then, furnishes the key to the play of 
Hamlet. If Burleigh be Polonius, Oxford is Hamlet, 
and Hamlet we are entitled to say is " Shakespeare." 

No feature of the parallelism between Hamlet 
and Oxford is more to the point than that of their 
common interest in the drama, and the form that their 



Patron of 
drama and 


interest takes. Both are high-born patrons of 
companies of play-actors, showing an interest in the 
welfare of their players, sympathetic and instructive 
critics in the technical aspects of the craft. They 
are no mere passive supporters of the drama, but 
actually take a hand in modifying and adjusting the 
plays, composing passages to be interpolated, and 
generally supervising all the activities of their 
companies. Not only in the play within the play, 
which forms so distinctive a feature of " Hamlet," 
but also before the period dealt with, it is evident 
that Hamlet had been so occupied. In all this he is 
a direct representation of the Earl of Oxford, and of 
no one else in an equal degree amongst the other 
lordly patrons of drama in Queen Elizabeth's reign. 
To fully elaborate the parallelism between Hamlet 
and Oxford would demand a rewriting of almost 
everything that is known of the latter, illustrated 
by the greater part of the text of the play. We shall 
therefore merely add to what has already been said 
several of the minor points. Hamlet expresses 
his musical feeling and even suggests musical skill in 
the " recorder " scene (III. 2). In the same scene he 
shows his interest in Italy. The duelling in which 
he takes part also has its counterpart in the life of 
Oxford, and even the tragic fate of Polonius at the 
hand of Hamlet is a reminder of the unfortunate 
death of one of Burleigh's servants at the hands of 
Oxford. Hamlet's desire to travel had to yield to 
the opposition of his mother and stepfather. His 
unrealized ambitions for a military vocation are 
indicated in the final scene, and his actual participation 
in a sea-fight is duly recorded. The death and burial 
of Ophelia at the time of Hamlet's sea episode is 





elsewhere shown to be analogous to Lady Oxford's 
death about the same time as De Vere's sea experiences. 
Suggestions of a correspondence between minor 
characters in the play and people with whom Oxford 
had to do can easily be detected. Rosencrantz, 
for example, might well be taken for Oxford's 
representation of Sir Walter Raleigh, " the sancti- 
monious pirate who went to sea with the ten command- 
ments " less one of them. If we are right in this 
guess we have a most subtle touch in Act III, scene 2. 
Hamlet instead of saying " By these hands," in 
speaking to Rosencrantz, coins an expression from 
the Catechism and calls his hands his " pickers 
and stealers," thus indicating most ingeniously 
the combination of piracy with the religiosity of 
Raleigh. Hamlet's next ironical remark that he 
himself " lacks advancement " helps to bear out 
the identification we suggest. 

That the dramatist had some definite personality Horatio, 
in mind for the character of Horatio hardly admits 
of doubt. The curious way in which he puts 
expressions into the mouth of Hamlet describing 
this personality, without allowing Horatio any part 
in the play which would dramatically unfold his 
distinctive qualities, marks the description as a purely 
personal tribute to some living man. Here, however, 
it is the very exactness of the correspondence of the 
prototype, even to the detail of his actual name, that 
makes us suspect the accuracy of the identification 
we propose. For the introduction into the play of 
Oxford's own cousin, Sir Horace de Vere (or, as the 
older records give it, Horatio de Vere) seems only 
explicable upon the assumption that the dramatist 
was then meditating just before his death coming 


forward to claim in his own name the honours which 
he had won by his work ; or, at any rate, that he 
had decided that these honours should be claimed 
on his behalf immediately after his death, and that 
Horatio de Vere had been entrusted with the responsi- 
bility. Such an assumption has full warrant in the 
last words' which Hamlet addresses to Horatio. 
Certainly the agreement is of a most surprising 
character and must not be neglected. 

Sir Horace Vere (as he is also named}, had followed the 
vocation which had been denied the Earl of Oxford, and 
in becoming the foremost soldier of his day, and chief 
of the " Fighting Veres," had maintained the military 
traditions of the family. This was the kind of glory 
which Edward de Vere had desired to win : an 
ambition which has left distinct marks in the Shake- 
spearean dramas. The passage in wliich Hamlet 
describes the character of Horatio ought therefore 
to be compared with what Fuller says of Horatio de 

Character Hamlet to Horatio : 

de Vertf * ' ' Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice, 

And could of men distinguish, her election 
Hath seal'd thee for herself ; for thou hast been 
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing, 
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards 
Hast ta'en with equal thanks ; and bless 'd are those 
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled 
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger 
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man 
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him 
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart, 
As I do thee." 

Fuller's Worthies. 
Horatio de Vere had " more meekness and as much 


valour as his brother (Francis). As for his temper 
it was true of him what is said of the Caspian Sea, 
that it doth never ebb nor flow, observing a 
constant tenor neither elated nor depressed, . . 
returning from a victory (in) silence ... in retreat 
(with) cheerfulness of spirit." 

Sir Horace Vere was therefore noted amongst his 
contemporaries for the possession of just such a 
character and temperament as Hamlet has ascribed 
to Horatio, in terms that have become classic. And 
as Horatio was the man selected by Hamlet to " tell 
his story," the theory we put forward, that " Shake- 
speare " had instructed his cousin Horatio de Vere 
to " report him and his cause aright to the unsatisfied," 
is not without very substantial grounds. 

The religious situation represented in " Hamlet " Hamlet and 
is peculiar. Though Hamlet himself and his father hls times - 
show distinct traces of Catholicism, we do not find 
him in contact with the institutions and ministrations 
of Catholicism, such as are represented in " Measure 
for Measure," and " Romeo and Juliet " ; nor do 
we find the other characters in the play exhibiting 
the same point of view. Even Hamlet's most intimate 
friend, Horatio, evidently differs from him in religious 
outlook. Hamlet's position, therefore, is very similar 
to that which an English nobleman of Catholic leanings 
would occupy in court circles in the days of Queen 
Elizabeth. On the other hand, Hamlet is not a Catholic 
of the saintly type. His frankness with regard to his 
shortcomings is as clear and genuine as that shown 
by " Shakespeare " in the Sonnets. Hamlet confesses 
" I could accuse me of such things that it were better 
my mother had not borne me," just as " Shakespeare " 
confesses in his sonnets. 


"... you in me can nothing worthy prove, 
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie, 
To do more for me than mine own desert, 
And hang more praise upon deceased I 
That niggard truth would willingly impart. 
* * * * 

For I am shamed by that which I bring forth." 

The applicability of all this to Edward de Vere, 
so far as the records of him are concerned, is, un- 
happily, one point over which hangs no shadow of 
doubt and from which no dispute is likely to arise. 
Religious Nor is the religious faith of Hamlet of the steadfast 

orthodox kind. His soliloquies reveal a mind that 
had been touched by the kind of scepticism that was 
becoming pronounced in the literary and dramatic 
circles of the latter half of Queen Elizabeth's reign. 
This again is representative of the mind of Shakespeare 
as shown by the plays as a whole : for the attenuated 
Catholicism they contain could hardly have come from 
the pen of one of the faithful. All this, too, is in 
accord with the shadowy indications that are given 
of Oxford's dealings with religion : his profession of 
Catholicism at one time, the accusation of atheism 
against him at another. Hamlet's cry, therefore, 
that " the time is out of joint," points to something 
deeper than his personal misfortunes, and the tragedy 
of his private life. They are much more like the 
outburst of a writer, himself suffering from a keen 
sense of the unsatisfactory character of his whole 
social environment : one out of rapport with the age 
in which he lived ; an age of social and spiritual dis- 
ruption incapable of satisfying either his ideals of social 
order or the poet's need of a full, rich and harmonious 
spiritual life. All this personal dissatisfaction that 


the poet expresses through Hamlet is quite what was 
to be expected from one placed as was Edward de Vere 
in his relations to the men and movements of his 

The aversion which Hamlet shows towards politicians, Social and 
lawyers, and land-buyers has no real connection with aversions, 
the plot of the drama ; it is evidently then an expres- 
sion of the author's personal feelings towards the times 
in which he lived : to what he calls " the fatness of 
those pursy times " times which were glorying in 
being no longer " priest-ridden," but which, he 
perceived, had only exchanged masters, and were 
becoming politician-ridden, lawyer-ridden and money- 
ridden. These were indeed precisely the middle class 
forces which were rising into power upon the ruins 
of that very feudalism which " Shakespeare," on 
the one hand delineates, and Edward de Vere, on the 
other hand personally represents. In this again we 
see Hamlet, " Shakespeare " and Edward de Vere 
are entirely at one in relation to the times in which 
the play was written. 

Hamlet laments in relation to his time " O, cursed 
spite that ever I was born to set it right." And yet 
the setting right has not been achieved though three 
centuries have passed away since " Shakespeare " 
penned this lament. Still, if the new order for which 
the " prophetic soul " of " Shakespeare " looked is 
to arise at last through a reinterpretation, and applica- 
tion to modern problems, of social principles which 
existed in germ in medievalism, then, " Shakespeare," 
in helping to preserve the best ideals of feudalism, 
will have been a most potent factor in the solution 
of those social problems which in our day are assuming 
threatening proportions throughout the civilized world, 


The feudal ideal which we once more emphasize is 
that of noblesse oblige ; the devotion of the strong 
to the weak ; the principle that all power of one man 
over his fellows, whether it rests upon a political or 
industrial basis, can only possess an enduring sanction 
so long as superiors discharge faithfully their duties 
to inferiors. In this task of " putting right," Hamlet 
or " Shakespeare," who we believe was Edward de 
Vere, through the silent spiritual influences which have 
spread from his dramas, will probably have contributed 
as much as any other single force. 

Political Not as an important part of our argument, but as 

strengthening the feeling of a connection between 
the play of Hamlet and events in England at the time 
when it appeared, the rising of the citizens of Elsinor 
with the cry " Laertes shall be king," is suggestive 
of the rising in London under Essex, though it must 
not be omitted that Thomas Cecil, who in some respects 
resembles Laertes, was chiefly instrumental in putting 
down the Essex rebellion. Again the change, not 
only in the occupants of the throne but also of dynasties 
in Denmark, " the election lighting on Fortinbras," 
from the neighbouring country of Poland, is suggestive 
of a similar change in England when, consequent 
upon the royal nomination, England received the 
first of a new dynasty from the neighbouring country 
of Scotland. In this case Fortinbras would be 
James I, and Oxford's officiating at the coronation 
might appear as an equivalent to Hamlet's dying 
vote, " He has my dying voice." 

For Oxford would probably be of those who expected 
from the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, more sympathy 
with what his mother represented than James actually 
showed. A comparison of the different editions of 


" Hamlet " in respect to these political matters might 
disclose interesting particulars. 

In view of all that is known of Edward de Vere, Hamlet's 
and of " Shakespeare " as revealed in the Sonnets, ying a PP ea 
no other words contained in the great dramas surpass, 
either in significance in relation to our problem, or 
in power of moving appeal, than the parting words 
which Hamlet addresses to Horatio. The more they 
are dwelt upon the less appropriate do they appear 
to the fictitious Hamlet, and the more do they sound 
like a real heart-wrung cry from the dramatist himself 
for reparation and for justice to his memory. Put 
Edward de Vere quite out of the question ; remember 
only that " Shakespeare," in sonnets written years 
before the drama, had spoken of himself as a man living 
under a cloud of disrepute beyond anything he had 
merited, desiring for himself nothing more than to 
pass from life's scene in such a way that his name 
would drop from the memory of man, then read the 
dying words of Hamlet : 

" Had I but time as this fell sergeant, death, 
Is strict in his arrest, 0, I could tell you, 
But let it be. Horatio, I am dead ; 
Thou livest ; report me and my cause aright 
To the unsatisfied. 

O good Horatio, what a wounded name 
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me ! 
If ever thou did'st hold me in thy heart. 
Absent thee from felicity awhile, 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, 
To tell my story. . . . 

. . . The rest is silence." 

If, therefore, Hamlet may be regarded as an indirect 
dramatic self -revelation of Shakespeare, so evidently 
do these dying words link themselves on to explicit 

Reparation statements in his direct poetic self-revelation, that 

demanded. ,, , , .,, , . 

they may be accepted, without in any way straining 
a point, as a dying appeal of " Shakespeare," whoever 
he may have been, that his true story should be told 
and his name cleared of the blemishes that ' vulgar 
scandal ' had stamped upon it. The change of attitude 
was justified by what he had accomplished in the 
interval. His was no longer the record of a wasted 
genius. Sitting apparently " in idle cell," he had 
achieved something which altered the whole aspect 
of his title to honour. He had created, and offered 
as an atonement for any shortcomings of which he 
had been guilty and who, indeed, has not ? the 
most magnificent achievement that English literature 
can boast ; one of the three greatest achievements in 
the literature of the world. It is impossible to resist 
the conviction, then, that these dying words of Hamlet's 
were intended for some friend of " Shakespeare's," 
who, from some cause or other, has fallen short in the 
discharge of the trust with which he was honoured ; 
though the publishing of the sonnets, and of the 
folio editions of Shakespeare, may have been a partial 
discharge of this trust. 

Although these things are applicable to any " Shake- 
speare," and any man to whom they will not apply is, 
ipso facto, excluded, it would appear, from all claim 
or title in the matter, it is to Edward de Vere alone, 
so far as we can discover, that they can be made 
to apply fully and directly. When, then, we find 
that this particular play, although appearing un- 
authentically in a curtailed form the previous year, 
was published, much as we have it now, in the year 
of his death, and then, although no further revision 
appeared for eighteen years, an edition appeared 


containing alterations upon which he had evidently 
been engaged at the time of his death, we can read 
in these closing passages of the play nothing less than 
a final call for justice and for the honour he had 
merited by his work. 

For three hundred years actors have uttered and A future 
audiences have listened to these tragic and pathetic 
passages, never dreaming that they came out of the 
inmost soul and the bitter experiences of the writer. 
Their deep personal significance we claim to be making 
known now for the first time ; and we trust that our 
own imperfectly accomplished labours may achieve 
something towards winning that redress for which 
our great dramatist has so dramatically appealed. 

The whole story of his life, as he may have wished 
it to be told, will probably never be known. To 
reinterpret the known facts by the light of the Shake- 
spearean literature, in which work we have made 
the first essay, will doubtless yield larger and truer 
results when others have taken up the task. There 
is also the possibility that new data may be unearthed, 
and this, together with the gathering together and 
unifying of facts scattered through the diverse records 
of other men, may bring to light the things " standing 
yet unknown " which were in his mind. The greatest 
of the facts " standing thus unknown " is that which 
is now announced, and its substantiation will go 
further towards healing his " wounded name " than 
any other single fact that may in future be laid 

On a review of the contents of this chapter, it will 
hardly be denied that the number of the particulars, 
and the general unity of the plan, which bring the 


greatest " Shakespeare " masterpiece into accord with 
the life and personality of the man whom we selected, 
on quite other grounds, as the probable author of the 
play, is not the least remarkable of the series of corre- 
spondences that have appeared at every step of our 



THE biographical parts of this work are not 
intended in any sense as a biography of Oxford, 
nor as an adequate representation either of himself 
or of the different people whose lives were mixed 
with his. Everything is treated from the point 
of view of the main argument, which is concerned 
primarily with the identification of the author of 
Shakespeare's plays and in a secondary way 
with the correction of a false and incomplete 
conception of the Earl of Oxford that has become 
established. In the statement of our argument we 
have been able to preserve only a very general adhesion 
to chronological order. Events that may have been 
separated by many years have sometimes had to be 
stated together owing to their relation to some specific 
point of evidence. A certain amount of overlapping 
of the periods and much repetition of facts has there- 
fore been unavoidable. As a necessary corrective 
we now offer the following summarized statement 
of events in the order in which they occurred. 

Early Period. 

1550. Birth of Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl 

of Oxford (April 2nd). 

1556. Birth of Anne Cecil (December 5th). 



Early I 558. Accession of Queen Elizabeth. 

Period 1562. Death of Oxford's father : Oxford becomes 

(conttnuea). a rova i war( j ) an( j an inmate of Cecil's house 

in The Strand. Arthur Golding (his uncle), 
translator of Ovid, becomes his private tutor. 

1568. Oxford's mother died (having previously 

married Sir Charles or Christopher 
Tyrell. Date of marriage unknown). 

1569. Oxford seeks military service and is refused. 
1571. Cecil becomes Lord Burleigh. 

Oxford comes of age : marries Anne Cecil. 

1573. Arthur Golding enrolled in " Inner Temple 

Hatton writes to Queen Elizabeth of Oxford 

(as " the boar "). 
" Oxford's men " indulge in wild escapade 

suggestive of Prince Hal and his men on 

the identical road (between Gravesend and 

Oxford asks for naval employment and is 

Oxford has apartments in the Savoy : a 

literary centre. 

1574. Oxford runs away to the continent and is 

brought back. 

I 575- Oxford visits Italy : Milan, Venice, and Padua. 

(Particulars suggestive of " Taming of the 

Shrew " and " The Merchant of Venice "). 

1576. Returns via Paris. Writes from Paris 

particulars suggestive of " Othello." 
Temporary estrangement from Lady Oxford. 
Remarkable episode recorded in Wright's 
History of Essex identifying Oxford with 
Bertram in " All's Well." 


Middle Period. 

1576. Begins Bohemian association with literary 

men and play-actors. 

1576-8. Publication of many early lyrics. 
Letter to Bedingfield. 
Rivalry with Philip Sidney. 
1579. Oxford's quarrel with Sidney. 

Publication of Edmund Spenser's *' Shepherd's 
Calender " containing probable reference to 
Oxford's rivalry with Sidney: "Willie and 

1580. . Antony Munday, playwright and theatre 
manager, discloses that he is the servant of 
the Earl of Oxford. Munday 's plays contain 
passages not written by himself : passages 
which " might have rested in the mind of 
1580-4. Oxford's company (The Oxford Boys) tour 

in the provinces. 
Lyly, Oxford's private secretary, entrusted 

with their management. 

1584. Oxford's company visits Stratford-on-Avon. 
1584-7. The " Oxford Boys " established in London. 
They perform plays written by Oxford. 
Oxford Boys perform " Agamemnon and 

1586. Trial of Mary Queen of Scots Oxford takes part. 
Death of Sir Philip Sidney. 

1587. Mary executed. 
Sidney's funeral. 

1588. Death of Lady Oxford. 

The Earl of Oxford takes part in the sea- 
fight against the Spanish Armada. 
Oxford begins his life of privacy and retirement. 


Final Period. 

1590. Spenser publishes " Teares of the Muses " with 
probable reference to Oxford (as Willie) 
" sitting in idle cell." 

Beginning of William Shakspere's career. 
Supposed date of first sonnets. 
Proposed marriage of De Vere's daughter, 
Elizabeth, to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of 
Southampton, to which proposal the first 
of the sonnets have been attributed. 
1591 or 2. Oxford's second marriage (complete retire- 
1592-1601. Great Blank in Oxford's record. 

1592. Date assigned to " Love's Labour's Lost." 

(containing representations of contemporary 

1593. Birth of Oxford's son Henry (Feb. 24th). 
Dedication of " Venus " to Southampton. 

1594. Dedication of " Lucrece " to Southampton. 
1597-1604. Great period of Shakespearean publication. 

1597. The great issue of Shakespeare's plays begins. 

1598. The name " Shakespeare " first printed on the 


1600. Rush of Shakespearean publications (6 in the 


1601. Rising under the Earl of Essex. 

1601. The Earl of Oxford emerges from his retire- 

ment to take part in the trial of the Earls 
of Essex and Southampton. 

1602. Date assigned to " Hamlet." 

A notable gap : Southampton in The Tower ; 
Blank in accounts of the Treasurer of the 


Oxford's servants play at the "Boar's Head" 

Pirated edition of " Merry Wives " published. 

1603. " Hamlet " unauthentically published. 
Death of Queen Elizabeth no tribute from 

" Shakespeare " or Oxford. 
Oxford officiates at coronation of James I. 
Southampton liberated arranges performance 

of " Love's Labour's Lost " for the new 

Last of " Shakespeare's " sonnets written. 

1604. Authentic publication of " Hamlet." 
Date assigned to "Othello." 
Death of Edward de Vere. 

Last of authentic Shakespearean issues for 

18 years. 
William Shakspere's supposed retirement to 

Stratford (according to some Stratfordian 

Southampton's connection with William Shak- 

spere ceases. 

Posthumous Matters. 

1605-1608. Suspension of Shakespearean publication. 
1608-1609. Slight revival. 

Publication of three plays and the Sonnets, 

all published unauthentically. 
1612. Second Lady Oxford dies. 

Date assigned for William Shakspere's 

complete retirement from London. 
1616. Death of William Shakspere. 

1622. Separate publication of " Othello." 

1623. The First Folio " Shakespeare " published. 

1624. Death of the Earl of Southampton. 


1632. The Second Folio Shakespeare published. 
Publication of Lyly's plays by the same firm. 
There appears for the first time in these plays 
a set of excellent lyrics which had been 
omitted from all previous editions of Lyly's 

1635 Death of Sir Horace Vere (April 2nd) 


" WE called Dante the melodious Priest of Middle - 
Age Catholicism. May we not call Shakespeare the 
still more melodious Priest of a true Catholicism, 
the Universal Church of the Future and of all times.' 

CARLYLE, " Heroes." 

We may now bring our labours to a close with 
a review of the course our investigations have taken, 
and a summary of their results. Having examined 
both the internal and external conditions of the old 
theory of Shakespearean authorship, we found that 
the whole presented such an accumulation and 
combination of anomalies as to render it no longer 
tenable. We therefore undertook the solution of 
problem of authorship thus presented. 

Beginning with a characterization of Shakespeare 
drawn from a consideration of his writings, a character- 
ization embracing no less than eighteen points and 
involving a most unusual combination, we proceeded 
to look for the dramatist. Using the form of the 
" Venus and Adonis " stanza as a guide, we selected 
one Elizabethan poem in this form, which seemed 
to bear the greatest resemblance to Shakespeare's 
workmanship. The author of this poem, Edward 
de Vere, was found to fulfil in all essentials the delinea- 
tion of Shakespeare with which we set out, 



We next found that competent literary authorities, 
in testifying to the distinctive qualities of his work, 
spoke of his poems in terms appropriate to " Shake- 
speare." An examination of his position in the history 
of Elizabethan poetry showed him to be a possible 
source of the Shakespeare literature, whilst an 
examination of his lyrics revealed a most remarkable 
correspondence both in general qualities and in impor- 
tant details with the other literary work which we now 
attribute to him. Turning next to the records of 
his life and of his family we found that these were 
fully reflected in the dramas : the contents of which 
bear pronounced marks of all the outstanding incidents 
and personal relationships of his career, whilst the 
special conditions of his life at the time when these 
plays were being produced were just such as accorded 
with the issuing of the works. 

His death, we found, was followed by an immediate 
arrest of Shakespearean publication, and by a number 
of other striking evidences of the removal of the great 
dramatist, whilst a temporary revival of publication 
a few years later was of such a character as to give 
additional support to the view that the author was 
then dead. Finally, we have shown that the sonnets 
are now made intelligible for the first time since their 
appearance, and that the great dramatic tour de force 
of the author is nothing less than an idealized 
portraiture of himself. 

Summed up we have : 

1. The evidences of the poetry. 

2. The general biographical evidence. 

3. The chronological evidence. 

4. The posthumous evidence. 


5. The special arguments : 

(a) The " All's Well " argument. 

(b) The " Love's Labour's Lost " argument. 

(c) The " Othello " argument. 

(d) The Sonnets argument. 

(e) The " Hamlet " argument. 

It is the perfect harmony, consistency and 
convergence of all the various lines of argument 
employed, and the overwhelming mass of coincidences 
that they involve, that give to our results the appear- 
ance of a case fully and, we believe, unimpeachably 

We have by no means exhausted the subject, however. 
Not only does much remain to be said, but it may be 
that in taking so decisive a step, involving the re- 
adjustment of more than one long-established con- 
ception, some statements have been made that later 
will have to be modified or withdrawn. Working, too, 
amongst a mass of details, in what was previously an 
unfamiliar domain, it is possible that serious errors 
have slipped in. In arguments like the present, 
however, whole lines of subsidiary evidence may 
break down and yet leave the central contention 
firmly and unassailably established. 

It would not in the least surprise us, moreover, if 
particular items of evidence much more conclusive 
than any single argument we have offered, should 
be forthcoming, or even if it should be pointed out 
that we have blunderingly overlooked some vital 
matter. From experience in the course of our enquiries 
we have no fear that any such oversight will appreci- 
ably affect the validity of the argument as a whole. 
For the detection of oversights hitherto has but 
brought additional strength to our position ; and 


so frequently has this occurred in the past that it is 
difficult to think of it having any other effect in 
the future. Only one conclusion then seems possible ; 
namely, that the problem of the authorship of Shake- 
speare's plays has been solved, and that all future 
enquiry is destined to furnish but an accumulating 
support to the solution here proposed. 

It will be seen that only in a general way has it 
been possible to adhere, in our last chapters, to the 
plan of investigation outlined at the start. In tracing 
indications of the life and personality of Edward 
de Vere in the writings of Shakespeare, much of the 
ground mapped out for separate succeeding stages 
of the enquiry has been covered. The sixth stage 
was to gather together " corroborative evidence," 
and this is largely furnished by the last two chapters 
in which the poetic and the dramatic self-revelation 
of the poet are respectively dealt with. The seventh 
stage, to develop personal connections, if possible, 
between the new author and the old authorship, 
including the man William Shakspere, is covered by 
those biographical chapters which treat of Arthur 
Golding, the translator of Ovid; Anthony Munday, 
the playwright ; Lyly, Oxford's private secretary and 
" Shakespeare's only model in Comedy " ; and lastly 
Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, to whom 
the Shakespeare poems are dedicated, who is known 
as the munificent friend of William Shakspere, and in 
whom the Earl of Oxford manifested a special interest. 

The task which we set out to accomplish has there- 
fore been performed in sufficient accordance with the 
original plan. However unworthy of so great a theme 
the manner of presenting the case may be, it is 
impossible not to feel gratified at the good fortune 


that has attended our excursion into a department 
that is not specially our own. In the brief moment 
of conscious existence which lies between the two 
immensities Destiny has honoured us with this 
particular task, and though it may not be the work 
we could have wished to do, we are glad to have 
been able to do so much. 

The matter must now pass out of our hands, and the 
case must be tried in public by means of a discussion 
in which expert opinion must play a large part in the 
formation of a definitive judgment. Whether such 
discussion be immediate or deferred, we have no 
doubt that it must come at some time or other, and 
that, when it does come, the ultimate verdict will 
be to proclaim Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl 
of Oxford, as the real author of the greatest master- 
pieces in English literature. 

We venture, therefore, to make an earnest appeal 
first of all to the thoughtful sections of all classes of 
the British public, and not merely of the literary 
classes, to examine, and even to insist upon an 
authoritative examination, of the evidence adduced. 
The matter belongs, of course, to the world at large. 
But England must bear the greater part of the 
responsibility; and her honour is involved in seeing 
that a question of the name and fame of one of the 
most illustrious of her immortal dead, the one name 
which England has stamped most unquestionably 
upon the intellectual life of the human race, is not 
given over to mere literary contentiousness. We are 
bound, however, to make a special appeal to those, 
whose intellectual equipment and opportunities fit 
them for the examination of the argument, to approach 
the problem in an impartial spirit. It will not be 


an easy thing for Stratfordians or Baconians of many 
years' standing to admit that they were wrong, and 
that the problem has at last solved itself in a way 
contrary to all their former views. To sincere 
admirers of " Shakespeare," however, those who 
have caught something of his largeness of intellectual 
vision and fidelity to fact, the difficulty of recogniz- 
ing and admitting an error will not prove insuperable, 
whilst their power of thus aiding in a great act of 
justice will be immense. 

In addition to securing the recognition of Edward 
de Vere as the author of Shakespeare's works, much 
remains to be done in the way of lifting the load of 
disrepute from his memory, and winning for his name 
the honour that is his by right. " That gentle spirit," 
as we believe Spenser to have described him and as 
his own verses reveal him (according so well as the 
expression does with our "Gentle Shakespeare"), 
has remained for too many years under the "unlifted 

Whatever his faults may have been, we have in him 
a soul awake at every point to all that touches human 
life. All high aspiration and endeavour find their 
encouragement in his work, and no phase of human 
suffering or weakness but meets in him a kindly and 
sympathetic treatment, even when his mockery is 
most trenchant. " The man whom Nature's self 
had made, to mock herself and truth to imitate with 
kindly counter under mimic shade " the terms in 
which we have shown Spenser speaks of De Vere, 
and which so accurately describe " Shakespeare " 
could be no profligate. The irregularities to which 
the Shakespearean sonnets bear witness are beyond 
question rooted in sincerity of character and tender- 


ness of heart. We do not condone such, but we are 
bound to draw a very marked distinction between 
this and mere dissoluteness. All that Shakespeare 
has written, and every line of De Vere, bespeaks a 
man who, even in the lowest depths of pessimism, 
and in his moments of bitterest cynicism, had kept 
alive the highest faculties of his mind and heart. 
No man of persistently loose life can do this ; and, 
therefore, the establishing of the identity of Edward 
de Vere with " Shakespeare " demands the relinquish- 
ing of all those superficial judgments that might have 
been allowed to pass unchallenged so long as Edward 
de Vere was supposed to be a person of no particular 
moment in the history of his country or the world. 

Until now the world has moreover seen and known 
in him only the eccentricity and turbulence of Hamlet. 
The real Hamlet, tender-hearted and passionate, 
whose deep and melancholy soul broods affectionately 
upon the great tragedy of human life, and who yet 
preserves the light of intellect and humour, whose 
" noble heart " breaks at last but who carries on his 
fight to the last moment of life, when the pen, not the 
sword, drops from his fingers, is the Hamlet which 
we must now see in Edward de Vere, as he stands 
before the world as " Shakespeare." The fret and 
trouble of his objective life in the Elizabethan age 
have hung around his memory for over three hundred 
years. All this, we believe, is about to end ; and, the 
period of his purgation passed, we may confidently 
hope that, entering into the full possession of his 
honours, a time of still richer spiritual influence 
awaits his continued existence in the hearts and lives 
of men. 

" The fatness of these pursy times," against which 


his whole career was a protest, has settled more than 
ever upon the life of mankind, and the culminating 
product of this modern materialism is the world war 
that was raging whilst the most of these pages were 
being penned a war which has been the most insane 
gamble for material power that the undisciplined 
instinct of domination has ever inflicted upon a 
suffering humanity ; threatening the complete sub- 
mergence of the soul of civilized man. Yet amongst 
the projects of " after the war " reconstruction that 
were being set afoot, even whilst it was in progress, 
materialistic purposes everywhere prevailed. In 
education, for example, where especially spiritual 
aims should have dominated, commercial and industrial 
objects were chiefly considered. And now that the 
conflict is over, the entire disruption of social exist- 
ence is threatened by material " interests " and 

Against this the spirit of " Shakespeare " again 
protests. His " prophetic soul," still " dreaming on 
things to come," points to a future in which the human 
spirit, and its accessory instruments and institutions, 
must become the supreme concern of man. The 
squandering of his own material resources, though 
unwise in itself, was the soul's reaction against the 
growing Mammon worship of his day : and the fidelity 
with which he represents in his plays the chivalries 
of feudalism is the expression of an affection for those 
social relationships which minister to the finer spirit 
in man. He stands, then, for an enlarged and enriched 
conception of spiritual things : a conception em- 
bracing the entire range of man's mental and moral 
faculties, from gayest laughter and subtle playfulness 
to profoundest thought and tragic earnestness of 


purpose. He stands for these things, and he stands 
for their supremacy in human life, involving the 
subordination of every other human concern to these 
spiritual forces and interests. 

More than ever in the coming years shall we need 
the spirit of " Shakespeare " to assist in the work 
of holding the " politician " and the materialist, 
ever manoeuvring for ascendancy in human affairs, to 
their secondary position in subordination to, and under 
the discipline of, the spiritual elements of society. 
We cannot, of course, go back to "Shakespeare's" 
medisevalism, but we shall need to incorporate into 
modern life what was best in the social order and 
social spirit of the Middle Ages. " The prophetic 
soul of the wide world " fills its vision, not with a 
state of more intense material competition and 
increased luxury, but with a social order in which 
the human heart and mind will have larger facilities 
for expansion ; in which poetry, music, the drama, 
and art in all its forms will throw an additional charm 
over a life of human harmony and mutual helpfulness ; 
in which, therefore, " Shakespeare," " our ever-living 
poet," will be an intimate personal influence when 
the heroes of our late Titanic struggle will be either 
forgotten or will only appear dimly in the pages of 

His works do not, and can never supply all that 
the human soul requires. To satisfy the deepest 
needs of mankind the Shakespearean scriptures must 
be supplemented by the other great scriptures of 
our race ; and all together they will only meet our 
full demands in so far as they succeed in putting 
before us the guiding image of a divine Humanity. 
In this work, however, " Shakespeare " will always 


retain a foremost place. Speaking no longer from 
behind a mask or from under a pseudonym, but in his 
own honoured name, Edward de Vere, Seventeenth 
Earl of Oxford, will ever call mankind to the worship 
of truth, reality, the infinite wonder of human nature 
and the eternal greatness of Man. 



" I DO not discern those marks of long practice in the 
dramatic art and the full maturity of the poet's genius 
which some have discovered in (The Tempest)." 


Although, as was inevitable, difficulties have arisen i ts place 
in the course of our investigations, the surprising 
thing has been that they have proved so few and 
unformidable. Up to the present, the greatest 
obstacle is that presented by one play, " The Tempest." 
If we pass in review the different plays of Shakespeare, 
in order of the dates assigned to them, we find that 
this one occupies a very remarkable position. First 
of all, we notice that the great popular comedies 
are all attributed to the earlier part of Shakespeare's 
career, and the best known tragedies, with the exception 
of " Romeo and Juliet," to the later part. These 
tragedies culminate in " Hamlet " and " Othello," 
in the early years of what may be called the tragedy 
period, and taper off with such mixed compositions 
as the tragedies of " Coriolanus,"'" Timon," " Pericles " 
and " Cymbeline." The great dramatist is supposed 
to have paid his final respects to the dramatic world 
he had adorned for so many years, in a play which 
another man had been called in to finish the composite 
and somewhat inharmonious play of " Henry VIII." 
Then we have " The Tempest " sandwiched in between 



the group which contains such a tragedy as " Pericles " 
and the nondescript history play " Henry VIII." 

From this point of view it looks like a play that 
had wandered away and fallen into bad company. 
Its natural associate, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," 
is separated from it by almost as wide an interval 
as the Shakespearean period will permit. Under 
any theory of authorship this work occupies an 
anomalous position. To the views we are now urging 
it presents a real and serious difficulty : the only 
formidable obstacle so far encountered, and therefore 
demanding special attention. 

Date of It will be noticed that it is one of the twenty plays 

printed for the first time in the 1623 folio edition. 
Although printed then for the first time there is 
abundant evidence that a number of these plays were 
in existence many years before. In relation to " The 
Tempest " the only authoritative fact seems to be 
that a play of this name was amongst those performed 
to celebrate the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth 
to the Elector Frederick in 1613. There existed, 
however, a forged reference to it connecting it with 
the year 1611 ; and as the 1613 reference almost 
pushes it outside the Shakespearean period proper, 
the forged reference seems like an attempt, for some 
reason, to bring it more within the period. The 
circumstances are certainly suspicious. There is no 
record of its having been registered, and no indication 
of its having been in print before 1623. Facts like 
these, when connected with such a play as "Timon 
of Athens," do not strike us as being at all remark- 
able. In connection with a stage favourite like 
" The Tempest " they are not what we should have 
expected, whoever the author of the play may have 


been. It bears more heavily upon our own theories, 
however, than upon the Stratfordian view. It seems 
incredible that it could have been written and staged 
in the early Shakespearean period without some 
trace apppearing, and it is very improbable that 
such a play should have been written and allowed to 
remain unstaged for many years, seeing that the 
staging element in it is more pronounced than in any 
other play attributed to " Shakespeare." 

In addition to all this, it is held to contain traces contem- 
of contemporary events of the early years of James I's porary 

j i- i j iLt j j. T_I.L events in 

reign and even to be in part indebted to a pamphlet the play, 
published in 1610. This fact by itself presents no 
insurmountable difficulty, seeing that the interpolation 
of other men's work is quite a recognized feature of 
the later Shakespearean plays ; but, taken along 
with its more modern character, and, what seems to 
us the less Elizabethan quality of its diction, it 
appears to justify the assumption that the work as a 
whole belongs to the date to which it has been assigned. 

We have endeavoured to present the case in respect 
to " The Tempest " with all the adverse force with 
which it bears upon the theory of Edward de Vere 
being " Shakespeare " ; and must confess that it 
appears, at first blush, as if " The Tempest " were 
threatening the shipwreck of all our hopes and labours 
in the cause of Shakespearean authorship. 

The somewhat anomalous position occupied by Alternative 
the play has, however, already given rise to doubts dates, 
respecting the accuracy of the date assigned to it. 
The first writer of eminence to raise these doubts was 
Hunter, who is described in the " Variorum Shake- 
speare," as " one of the most learned and exact of 
commentators." He also has been the first to question 


its title to the high praise which it is fashionable to 
lavish upon this composition : the words which we 
quote at the head of this chapter. Sir George 
Greenwood too, has raised doubts as to whether the 
masking performance is from the hand of " Shake- 

Other critics and commentators have given attention 
to the question of its date, and although the great 
majority confirm the later date which is usually 
ascribed to it (1610-1613), we furnish now some 
authorities for an earlier production. 

Hunter. 1596. 

Knight. 1602-1603. 

Dyce and Staunton. After 1603. 

Karl Elze. 1604. 

There exists, therefore, some Shakespearean 
authority both for an earlier date and also for the 
intervention of a strange hand. Nevertheless, we 
have not felt convinced by these authorities ; and 
have therefore been indisposed to take refuge behind 
their findings. The reader who, in spite of the contents 
of this chapter, may continue to cling to the old 
estimate of the play, may at any rate find comfort 
in the dates furnished above. 

Contrast We must now ask the reader, who we assume is 

wmmg to take some trouble to get at the truth of 
the matter, to first read carefully some of the earlier 
comedies like " Love's Labour's Lost," " A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream " and " As You Like It." 
When he has read these works appreciatively, and 
has got a sense, as it were, of Shakespeare's force of 
intellect and wit, the packed significance of his lines, 
his teeming imagery, the fecundity of his ideas on 
everything pertaining to the multiple forces of human 


nature, his incisive glances into human motives, his 
subtle turns of expression, the precision and refinement 
of his distinctions, the easy flow of his diction, the 
vocal qualities of his word combinations : all these 
well-known Shakespearean characteristics ; let him 
then turn and read " The Tempest," thinking not so 
much of the broad situations presented by the stage 
play, but looking for that finer literary and poetical 
material that constitute the true Shakespeare work, 
and he will probably experience a much greater 
disappointment than he anticipated. 

Take, for example, the second scene in the first 
act, the dialogue between Prospero and Miranda, 
especially where the former is relating his misfortunes 
to the latter. It seems all right, no doubt, on a first 
reading, or on hearing it repeated on the stage. It 
explains a particular situation lucidly, in bold outline, 
making no special demands upon the mind of the 
reader or hearer ; and, for those who wish to push 
on with the business of the play and see how things 
work out, it is just the thing wanted. One does not, 
however, feel a great desire to read it over again 
immediately so as to drink more deeply of its poetic 
charm ; nor would any one seriously memorize its 
phrases for the purpose of enriching his own resources 
of expression. 

The situation was, however, eminently suitable Literary 
for fine poetic treatment ; yet the prosy character <l uaUt y' 
of the narration, broken by Prospero's harping on 
the question of whether Miranda was attending to 
him or not, makes one wonder what there is in it to 
justify the attempt at blank verse. We use the 
word " attempt " advisedly ; for a close examination 
of it will reveal a larger proportion of false quantities and 


non-rhythmic lines than can be found in an equal space 
in the best Shakespearean verse. Indeed, through- 
out the play there is a general thinness, so far as first- 
class literary matter and the figurative language 
which distinguishes the best poetry are concerned. 
Our task is to ascertain whether what there is possesses 
true Shakespearean characteristics. 

its chief Judging this point, not by its worst, but what is 

accepted as its best passages, we shall not attempt 
to select what may appear to us as the best, but 
take the one passage in " The Tempest " tnat has been 
singled out for special notice by others. 

' ' These our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and 
Are melted into air, into thin air : 
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind." 

If our ideas of Shakespeare's style have been formed 
from studying this particular play, the passage will 
doubtless seem quite Shakespearean : not otherwise,, 
however. Before discussing it as a whole, however, 
we ask the reader to notice the word " and " at the 
end of the second line, as it connects itself with an 
important point which we shall presently have to 
consider. To what, then, do these lines owe their 
popularity ? We know to what a speech of Portia's, 
or a meditation of Jacques', or a soliloquy of Hamlet's, 
owes its popularity. All these great Shakespearean 
utterances owe their power, not to the mere grandilo- 
quence that fits them for perorations, but 'to their 
direct appeal to the human heart and mind which 


form their own subject matter. Cosmic theories 
come and go, but the fundamental constitution of 
human nature, the nature of man's inward experiences, 
sufferings and struggles, remains substantially and 
eternally the same. It is because Shakespeare's 
theme is ever this enduring spiritual matter that 
his influence suffers no waning, but grows with the 

In the passage we have just quoted there is not a Negative 
touch of Shakespeare's special interest. It is simple p oso P hv - 
cosmic philosophy, and, as such, it is the most dreary 
negativism that was ever put into high-sounding 
words. Shakespeare's soul was much too large for 
mere negation. He was essentially positivist. When 
he handled his own theme of human nature he 
expounded what he saw and felt, always holding the 
subject down to its own realities, conditioned by its 
own essential relationships. In modern terms, he 
was an experimentalist ; or, to use a clumsier, though 
more accurate word, an experientialist. On the 
other hand he was no mere empiricist : his was a 
vision that " looked before and after," a " prophetic 
soul dreaming on things to come." Recognizing the 
limitations of human vision, his mind could yet take 
in the thought of the great unknown that stretched 
beyond the range of immediate faculties, but he filled 
it in with no mere negative, however undetermined 
his positive may have been. 

' ' There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." 

The philosophy of the passage we have quoted 
from " The Tempest " is such as we might conceive 
Hamlet attributing to Horatio, and not that of Hamlet 



The stuff 
of dreams. 

himself. Nor do we believe that it owes its popularity 
to the outlook it represents. It is rather the awe- 
inspiring vastness of the conception and its high sound- 
ing phrases that have won for the passage its place 
in English rhetorical literature. Neither in theme 
nor in philosophy, however, does it seem to us to be 

Even the terms of the passage are not original to 
the writer of this much belauded comedy, but are 
clearly suggested by a passage in a play written in 
in the last years of the sixteenth century (see 
" Variorum Shakespeare "). Their value as evidence 
of Shakespearean authorship is therefore negligible. 
When, however, we come to the closing sentence of 
the passage we are assured by readers of Shakespeare 
that here, at least, we have the work of the master : 

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our 
little life is rounded with a sleep." 

Here we find ourselves faced with one of the 
chief difficulties in discussing Shakespeare: namely, 
dogmatic assertion based upon literary feeling or 
instinct, but offering no fixed standard of measure- 
ment by which the truth of the claim may be tested. 
Although, then, we are assured that these words are 
eminently Shakespearean, we make bold to say that 
they appear to us as un-Shakespearean as any utterance 
with which " Shakespeare " has been credited. 

When we read that " all the world's a stage and 
all the men and women merely players," we feel 
that the writer's mind, in dealing with life, is occupied 
with clear and definite conceptions, which he imparts 
vividly to his readers by the crispness and precision 
of the terms he employs. When the mind of Hamlet 


works upon the great unknown, the " sleep of death," 
and the possible experiences after deatn, " what 
dreams may come," we have the same definiteness of 
conception, the same precise relationship of language 
to thought. We may think that he stops short : 
that he might have given us more ; but we have no 
uncertainty respecting the part he has given. We 
move with him in the plane of realities alike of life 
and death : and when he deals with what he does 
not know, he knows what it is he does not know. 
If, then, this mental clarity, this definiteness and 
precision alike of thought and expression, are not 
dominant notes of " Shakespeare," we must confess 
that our understanding of his work has yet to begin. 

Compare now from this point of view the character- Muddled 
istic utterances of Shakespeare on life and death just meta- 

J physics. 

quoted with the lines previously cited from " The 
Tempest." We may safely challenge any one to 
produce another passage from the whole of Shake- 
speare that will match with the latter in metaphysical 
vagueness. Abandon for a moment the practice 
of squeezing into or squeezing out of these words 
some philosophical significance, and attempt the 
simpler task of attaching a merely elementary English 
meaning to the terms, and placing these meanings 
into some kind of coherent relationship to one another. 
We are stuff : the stuff of dreams : dreams are made 
on (or " of " ?) : life rounded with a sleep we will not 
say that Shakespeare never gives us such " nuts to 
crack," but we can say with full confidence that they 
are not characteristically Shakespearean. So far as 
we can get hold of the general drift of the metaphors, 
it seems that the present life of man is likened to 
dreams : " We are such stuff, etc.," and that he brings 


his dreams to an end by going to sleep. In common 
with Shakespeare and the majority of mankind, 
however, we are accustomed to associate our dreams 
with our actual times of sleep. 

On its deeper side we would say that the sentence 
is in flat contradiction to the mind of Shakespeare. 
To him human life is the one great objective reality. 
We are not now saying that he is right or wrong in 
this ; but it is this objective pressure of human life 
upon him that has produced the immortal dramas ; 
whether wholesome or vile it is real wholesomeness 
and real vileness ; whether life is spent in earnest, 
or is merely that of " men and women playing parts," 
his world is peopled by real men ; not dreamy stuff. 

Whether, then, we take the cosmic philosophy of 
the whole passage, or the touch of human philosophy 
with which it closes, we maintain that whether written 
by " Shakespeare " or not, it is not Shakespearean. 
Quality of If we are disposed to deny to the play the possession 
Tempest." of first-class Shakespearean work it would neverthe- 
less be folly to discredit the good work, of what might 
be called the second class, that it certainly does 
contain. The times were prolific of second-rate work, 
judged by the standard of Shakespeare ; work which, 
but for this high standard, might have ranked as 
first class. There seems, indeed, to be in the play 
indications of a real collaboration between two men, 
a playwright proper, and a poet. The passage quoted, 
and others, especially the lyrical verse, seem to be 
from a different hand from the one that wrote the 
play as a whole; but it does not look like the 
unfinished work of one writer being finished by 
another. Our present business, however, is to see 
whether or not it is Shakespearean. 


Continuing this enquiry we shall first recall certain " Dumb- 
criticisms in "Hamlet" upon a class of play then noise." 
coming into vogue. 

' ' There is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that 
cry out on the top of question, and are most tyranically 
clapped for it." 

* * * * 

"... the groundlings . . . for the most part are 
capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and 

With these remarks in mind let the reader turn 
over the pages of the great Shakespearean dramas 
noticing the stage directions. For the most part these 
are little more than the simple expressions " enter," 
" exit," " aside," " sleeps," " rises and advances," 
"trumpets," "noise within," and such like. When, 
as in the case of the dumb-show episode in the by- 
play in " Hamlet," directions are necessary, these 
are limited to mere outline, every particular action 
indicated being an essential part of the drama, 
and moreover quite explicable. Now, with Hamlet's 
special animadversion on " inexplicable dumb-shows 
and noise " in mind, turn to the stage directions in 
"The Tempest." 

" A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard." 
"A confused noise within." "Thunder" (at intervals). 

" Enter Prospero, above, invisible. Enter several 
strange Shapes, bringing in a banquet ; they dance about 
it with gentle actions and salutations ; and, inviting the 
king, etc., to eat, they depart." 

Again : 

' ' Thunder and lightning. Enter Ariel, like a harpy ; 
claps his wings upon the table ; and with a quaint device, 
the banquet vanishes," 



Again : 

" He vanishe* in thunder ; then, to soft music, enter 
the Shapes again, and dance, with mocks and mows, and 
carry out the table." 

Further on : 

"Enter certain reapers, properly habited; they join 
with the Nymphs in a graceful dance ; towards the end 
whereof Prospero starts suddenly and speaks ; after which 
to a strange hollow and confused noise they heavily vanish." 

And there is still more of this kind of thing. Yet 
it is supposed that the very man who penned all this 
had, six or seven years previously, taken up arms 
against such pantomimic products and entered into 
his great masterpiece a caveat against this develop- 
ment of " inexplicable dumb-shows and noise." 
Un-Shake- In the First Folio only six, out of all Shakespeare's 
details* pl avs are prefaced with lists of dramatis personae. 
Of these " The Tempest " is one, and " Timon of 
Athens," an admittedly " collaborated " work, is 
another : in the latter work it is done most 
ostentatiously. As we shall find the singularities 
of the former play accumulate, the exceptional fact 
just narrated should be kept in mind. Turning to 
the list in " The Tempest " we find that one character 
is described as " drunken," another as " honest," 
and a third as " savage." Although in another of 
these lists (" The Two Gentleman ") Thurio is spoken of 
as " foolish," in none of them is there so much of it 
as in the play we are considering. The whole thing 
strikes one as alien to the spirit of " Shakespeare," 
whose method is naturally to reveal the character 
of his personae in the working of the plays. It is 
hardly probable that "Shakespeare" had a hand 
in any of the lists : they are editorial work ; and 

'THE TEMPEST' 1 515 

the character they assume in this instance helps to 
emphasize the fact, which others have pointed out, 
that exceptional care was bestowed upon the editing 
of " The Tempest." The editor or editors had 
evidently some special interest in this particular drama. 

Coming now to the question of general workman- Without 
ship, we may take any other of the great Shakespearean wlt * 
comedies, and examine the dialogue throughout, 
particularly that between young people of the opposite 
sexes. What strikes us most is the constant clash 
of wit and the subtle teasing that takes place when- 
ever young men and women meet, together with the 
playful cross-purposes in which Shakespeare's lovers 
invariably indulge. There is nothing like this in 
" The Tempest." In its place we get the milk and 
water sentimentality of Miranda and Ferdinand 
unillumined by a single flash of intellect. Yet 
Miranda was no child ignorant of life : a fact most 
evident from her previous conversation with her 
father. Possibly the dramatist, in composing this 
love scene, in which he wished to represent Miranda 
in a particular light, had overlooked what he had 
already written in the previous scene. Be that as 
it may, the character of the intercourse between these 
two lovers is worth considering. They meet for the 
first time and spend about five minutes together. 
In that short space of time they have fallen deeply 
in love, confessed their sentiments and arranged their 
first tryst, " half-an-hour hence." All this, of course, 
is due to Prospero's magic. How interminable that 
half-hour must have seemed to the young people ! 
And so, when it comes to an end, they meet again, 
in the presence of Miranda's father, and listen to a 
lecture from him ; but when he leaves them, and 


they are at last alone together, for the first time as 
a betrothed couple, in the transports of their new- 
born love they pour out their mutual affection in 
a rapturous game of chess. Is it possible to conceive 
of " Shakespeare " representing thus any of the 
outstanding couples of his plays, like Romeo and 
Juliet, Orlando and Rosalind, Hermia and Lysander, 
Valentine and Sylvia, Berowne and Rosaline, Portia 
and Bassanio, or Beatrice and Benedick ? In all 
these cases the interest centres in the play of dialogue : 
mind meeting mind ; and not upon the play of lime- 
light upon a pretty stage scene. 

Coarse fun. Not only in the kind of intercourse we have just 
been discussing, but throughout the play the great 
Shakespearean trait that we most miss is genuine 
wit, in the proper sense of intellectual refinement 
and subtlety. The drama depends for its interest very 
largely upon the spectacular, and is probably for 
this reason selected in modern times for displaying 
the skill more of the stage mechanics than of the 
actors. It has, indeed, been acknowledged by one 
authority that " there is no wit in ' The Tempest.' ' 
Nevertheless its author was solicitous regarding the 
lighter side of the play ; and so when fun and some 
relief from stage display is sought, the play makes 
its appeal to the grotesque coarse and ludicrous, 
drawing almost the whole of the laughter it contains 
from drunken buffoonery. Without its elaborate stage 
effects the performance would probably fall very flat ; 
and this fact supports the theory that it is not a true 
Elizabethan work, but belongs to the period to which 
it has been assigned, although such plays were 
evidently coming into vogue in the later Elizabethan 


On the other hand, to think of it as coming from 
the greatest Elizabethan dramatist, when to his vast 
powers had been added the mellowing influence of 
a still larger experience, increases the mysteriousness 
in which the work is involved. The fact is that this 
play has always been looked at with the other dramas 
as an imposing background. Viewed as supplementary 
to a monumental literature, the greatness that is in 
the other writings has been carried forward and added 
to its account. Separated from the other works, 
however, it is seen to contain much thinner intellectual 
stuff than has been supposed. 

The effect of these considerations is to raise the The Tempest 
question, not merely of whether " The Tempest " P roblem - 
contains a large admixture of other men's work, 
but the bolder and more momentous question of 
whether it is, in any sense, a work of Shakespeare's. 

This is not a question of whether it is a good or 
a poor production, or whether certain genuine Shake- 
spearean plays are not in some respects inferior to 
this one. The question is this. Judging from a 
comparison of the characteristics of this play with 
the outstanding features of Shakespeare's work, 
what are the probabilities that it did not come from 
the same pen as the others ? 

We have already pointed out that its position A play 
amongst the other dramas, from the point of view of a P art - 
date, marks it at once as a work quite by itself. In 
other respects, too, we shall find that this is so. It 
is the only play staged with a background of the sea 
and sea-faring life ; the nearest approach to it, 
curiously enough, being " Pericles." And it is the 
only one that has the practice of magic as a dominant 
element : the supernatural agents in " A Midsummer 


Night's Dream " not being under human control 
and direction. This trinity of singularities constitutes 
a sufficient impeachment to begin with. We must, 
however, add to this what is perhaps the strongest 
general argument against it, that it is the only play 
attributed to " Shakespeare " which makes any 
attempt at conforming to the Greek unities. That 
" Shakespeare " should do this at any time seems 
highly improbable : it is contrary to the free spirit 
of his genius, and it is an illustration of that " tongue- 
tying of art by authority " which he explicitly 
repudiates. To think of him submitting to such 
unwholesome restriction at the extreme end of his 
career would require some extraordinary explanation. 
Feudalism. Take the work now in its bearing upon some of those 
points according to which we sought to characterize 
" Shakespeare " at the beginning of our investigations. 
Although it contains a king and a duke no one can 
feel in reading it that he is in touch with the social 
structure of a medieval feudalism. Prospero, the 
Duke of Milan, represents in no way a ducal dignity, 
or the functions of a dukedom. He is, first and last, 
a magician, and it would have mattered little to his 
part in the play if he had been originally a patriarchal 

King Alonso can hardly be regarded as a personage 
belonging to the play. In certain important scenes 
he is only required to stand and ejaculate such 
expressions as " Prithee peace," or " Prithee be still." 
He is the most wooden and least royal of all Shake- 
speare's kings ; a part to be relegated to a subordinate 
member of the company of actors. Prospero's 
brother, Antonio, the usurping duke, is a very ordinary 
stage villain, whom the writer of the drama seems 


almost to have forgotten after the second act, with 
a most curious result ; for, although the anti-climax 
of the play consists in his undoing, his only part in 
the final act involving disaster to his fortunes, is to 
make a single remark about fish. This is neither 
feudalism nor " Shakespeare." 

So much for the social side of medievalism. When Catholicism 
we turn to its religious aspect, Catholicism, a more 
curious situation is presented. Whatever " Shake- 
speare's " personal opinions may have been in respect 
to religion, there exists no doubt as to his being 
thoroughly conversant with the Roman Catholic 
standpoint and quite familiar with its terminology ; 
and all this he introduces frequently and appropriately 
into his dramas. Now " The Tempest " is a work 
dealing with Italian noblemen of Milan and Naples, 
that is to say, belonging to a Roman Catholic society, 
yet from the first word of the play to the last we 
cannot find a single term employed suggestive of a 
distinctively Catholic conception. At the same time 
innumerable occasions are presented when such touches 
of local colouring could have been inserted, and when 
any writer having the material at command would 
unconsciously have tended to introduce it. We 
need only cite the call " to prayers," the betrothal 
of Ferdinand and Miranda, and the serious religious 
cast given to some of Prospero's intercourse with 
his daughter. 

Whether, therefore, we approach it on its social 
or its religious side, we may say that the medievalism 
which " Shakespeare " has, by embodying in his 
dramas, done so much to preserve in living colours, 
is almost, if not wholly absent from this particular 
play. We are entitled to say that the man who 





wrote it had neither " Shakespeare's " intimacy with 
Catholicism nor his vitalized conception of what was 
best in feudalism. 

Significant results are again obtained when we apply 
to " The Tempest " the test of the dramatist's treat- 
ment of woman. We shall put aside that definite 
and peculiar attitude we deduced from the Sonnets, 
which does not appear in the best Shakespearean 
comedies, and confine our attention to the dramas. 
Here we find the most frequent and varied references 
to the characters, disposition, moods, motives and 
conduct of women. That he had observed women 
accurately might be questioned, but that he had 
observed them closely and had a very great deal to 
say on the subject no one will deny. Consequently 
the word " woman " is one most frequently in use 
in his plays. Now, in " The Tempest " the word 
" woman " never occurs once in connection with 
such matters as those to which we have just alluded. 
It will perhaps be a matter of surprise to many that 
the word only occurs twice in the whole play, and 
these are most formal and void of character. Miranda 
remarks that she " no woman's face remembers," 
and Caliban remarks " I never saw a woman but 
Sycorax my dam and she." The three occasions 
on which the plural is used are equally colourless. 
This is indeed a very poor show for a work that is 
supposed to have come from the hand of such an 
exponent of human nature as " Shakespeare." 

In tracing indications of the life and character of 
Edward de Vere in the writings of " Shakespeare " we 
had occasion to remark upon the prominence given 
to horses and horsemanship generally. We find that 
the simple noun " horse," leaving out all compound 


derivatives, occurs about 206 times ; an average of 
about seven times in each of the 36 plays. If we add 
to these the words that suggest horse-riding, like 
" horseback " and "horsemanship," the total reaches 
nearly 300, not one of which occurs in " The Tempest " 
the only play attributed to " Shakespeare " of which 
this can be said. 

The word " colt " does, however, occur, and the 
passage is most instructive. 

" Like unback'd colts they prick 'd their ears, 
Advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses, 
As they smelt music." 

We shall pass no comment upon these awkward lines, 
but ask the reader to compare the passage with the 
following from " The Merchant of Venice," which 
either consciously or unconsciously seems to have 
suggested it. 

" For do but note a wild and wanton herd, 
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts, 
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud, 
Which is the hot condition of their blood, 
If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound, 
Or any air of music touch their ears, 
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand, 
Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze 
By the sweet power of music." 

We are asked to believe that the former travesty 
of the latter passage was written by the same poet 
after he had added fifteen years to his experience 
as a writer. Had the dates been reversed we might 
have supposed a development of the idea and technical 
power. As they stand, however, it is outrageous to 
suppose that any eminent poet could so mutilate his 
own work. 


sport. Again, in the matter of falconry terms, in which 

the vocabulary of Shakespeare is so varied, " hawk," 
"falcon," " haggard," "eyas," " tercel," " tassel-gentle," 
" puttock," " pitch," " to seel," " to prune," " to whistle 
off " ; none of these occur in the play we are now 
examining. We find indeed the same state of things 
in all other matters relating to sport, the chase 
and archery (excepting a single reference to Cupid's 
bow and arrows). No deer, stag or pricket, hare or 
hound, greyhound, game, slips or trumpet, once 
appears. These are enough to show that not merely 
a few odd terms, any one or two of which might be 
missing from a true Shakespearean work, but whole 
strata of terms, dealing with the imagery in which 
the mind of Shakespeare habitually worked, are 
entirely missing from this play. A mere layman 
may be excused if his faith in the judgment of Shake- 
spearean experts grows weak. 

Human Shakespeare's special domain being human nature, 

how does " The Tempest " stand with respect to promin- 
ent words of the dramatist in this domain ? One of his 
constantly recurring words is the word " will," and in 
Mary Cowden Clarke's concordance only when it is 
used as a noun is it recorded. In this sense it appears 
no less than 280 times, and out of these only once 
does it appear in " The Tempest," in the following 
phrase, " the wills above " ; so that, as a matter of 
fact, the human will, which meets us at every turn 
in Shakespeare, is never once referred to in this play 
except in some editions in which the noun " good- 
will " has been broken into two words. How 
important a word it is in the vocabulary of Shakespeare 
will be realized by any one who will take the trouble 
to read Sir Sidney Lee's chapter on the " Will " sonnets. 


Take again so fundamental a word as " faith," 
which, with its derivatives, occurs about 250 times. 
Neither this word, nor any one of its derivatives, 
" faithful," " faithfully," " faithfulness," once appears 
in the play. Or, again, the word "duty," not once 
does it occur, nor any of its derivations, " dutiful " 
or " duteous," notwithstanding the fact that these 
words are bound up with the Feudal System, and 
occur about 200 times. We meet with exactly the 
same thing in reference to such dominant words as 
" courage " and " jealousy." The word " melancholy " 
and the noun " desire," the latter especially represent- 
ing a most persistent idea in the mind of " Shake- 
speare," are again entirely absent. In short, many 
of the terms most essential in handling those problems 
of human nature with which " Shakespeare " deals, 
are missing from the work which is supposed to 
represent the matured mind of the dramatist. 

On the strength of the last group of words alone General 
we should be quite justified in rejecting absolutely Vocabulai 7- 
any claim that this play was written by the same 
author as the great Shakespearean dramas. Of minor 
points we may mention the absence of the " red and 
white " contrast, and, of course, the " lily and the 
rose." Indeed, neither lily, rose, nor violet, which 
we take to be Shakespeare's favourite flowers, is 
once mentioned. 

It is difficult to represent how " The Tempest " 
stands in the matter of general vocabulary. If, 
however, any Shakespearean concordance be taken, 
and a number of pages be selected at random from 
different parts of the book, then closely examined, 
it will be found that " The Tempest " is more 
frequently absent than almost any other play from 


long lists of examples of the recurrence of words which 
appear in most of the other works. It will thus be 
seen that it has probably the poorest, as well as the 
least Shakespearean vocabulary of them all ; not 
even excepting " Pericles." Moreover, in reading 
it with an exclusive attention to this point, one gets 
the impression that its vocabulary is not only more 
restricted in range, but is drawn from quite a different 
stratum of the English language. In addition to this 
there appears about the language an artificiality and 
affected archaism suggestive of a later writer trying 
to compose in Shakespeare's vein. 

Scansion. After all the praise that has been lavished on this 

particular work it may seem presumptuous to question 
such a thing as the quality of its versification. If, 
however, a critical examination be made of the text 
of the play, the large proportion of bad metre to be 
found in it will probably occasion some surprise. 
From first to last its blank verse jogs and jolts in a 
most uncomfortable way. Such false quantities as 
occasionally interrupt the even flow in the best 
Shakespearean verse, so crowd upon one another in 
" The Tempest " that it is impossible to preserve 
for any length of time that sense of rhythmic diction 
which gratifies the sub-conscious ear in the silent 
reading of the other plays. There is nothing to be 
gained by rating the work below its true value, but 
we are bound to say that in many instances the scansion 
seems to us so wretched that we suspect the writer 
ot building up his pentameters by mechanically 
counting syllables on his fingers : and counting badly. 
In this connection we have already had occasion 
to draw attention to the blank verse of the first 
important piece of dialogue in the play : that between 


Prospero and Miranda in which the former is relating " Weak- 
the story of his misfortunes. A minute inspection 
of this discloses the fact that much of it is not verse 
at all in the true sense, but merely prose, artificially 
cut up into short strips : precisely as, in an earlier 
chapter, we saw was actually done in " Coriolanus." 
Versification, which is fundamentally the breaking 
up of utterances into short pieces, or lines, according 
to some rule, always implies that, in a general way, 
the pause formed by the end of the line corresponds 
to a pause, however slight, in the spoken utterance; 
the exceptions to this only serving to emphasize the 
rule . When the connection between the last word of one 
line and the first word of the next is too close, and such 
connections become too frequent, the sense of versifica- 
tion is lost and it becomes merely dismembered prose. 
Take then the two first lines of this dialogue : 

"If by your art, my dearest father, you have 
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them." 

Now, it is hardly possible to get two words more Auxiliary 
closely connected in spoken utterances than a verbs - 
Principal and an Auxiliary Verb, when no adverb 
comes between them, as in the case of this verb, 
" have put." Nor is this the only example of its kind. 
Broken up in precisely the same way we have the verb, 

" had Burnt " (III. i.) ; " will Revenge " (III. 2.) ; 
" have Incensed " (III. 3.) ; " have Been " (V. I.) ; 
"have Received" (V. i.) ; " must Take" (V. i.j 

Taking " Hamlet " as our standard for measuring 
Shakespeare's style of versification, we do not find 
a single example of this defect in the great masterpiece. 

Continuing our examination of this dialogue, we 
ftnd, a few lines further on, this passage : 


" It should the good ship so hav swallow'd, and 
The fraughting souls within her." 

Con junc- This " and " at the end of lines in " The Tempest " 

is quite a feature of its author's style. We pointed 
it out in the passage " and Are melted into air." 
We find it repeated three times in this short dialogue : 

1 ' and A prince of power ; ' ' 
" and She said ; " 

the third being in the above quotation. 
In exactly- the same way we have : 

'.' and My strong imagination " (II. i.) 

"and I'll seek" (III. 3.) 

"and Harmonious charmingly" (IV. i.) 

Again, not once does this defect appear in " Hamlet." 
We have also instances of the conjunction " but " 
placed at the end of lines 

" but For every trifle " (II. 2.) 
"but The mistress" (III. x.) 
" but If thou dost break " (IV. x.) 

Nojr does this defect once appear in " Hamlet." 
Examples also occur of lines ending in other 
Conjunctions, to which may be added Conjunctive 
Pronouns and Conjunctive Adverbs : 

" who Art ignorant " (I. 2.) 

1 ' that Hath kept with thy remembrance ' ' (I. 2.) 

" who To trash for over topping " (I. 2.) 

"that A noble Neapolitan " (I. 2.) 

"that I prize " (I. 2.) 

"for He's gentle " (I 2.) 

" whom We all were " (II. x.) 

"that We say befits " (II. I.) 

"which Lie tumbling" (II. 2.) 

And so it continues on to end of the play. Yet never 
once does this form of intimate connection between 
the end of one line and the beginning of the next 


appear in " Hamlet." How it is possible to hold, 
in face of a comparison of this kind, that the versifica- 
tion of both plays came from the same pen, is most 
difficult to understand. 

Another peculiar form of connection between the Prepositions. 
end of one line and the beginning of the next is to 
split between them simple Prepositional phrases. 
For example : 

upon A most auspicious star " (I. a.) 

upon Some god " (I. 2.) 

at Which end " (II. I.) 

of Our human generation " (III. 3.) 

with A heaviness " (V. I.) 

on The strangeness " (V. i.) 

The only Prepositions which appear at the end 
of lines in " Hamlet " are those which belong to the 
preceding verbs, and do not, except in one case, 
which has a special justification, enter into the forma- 
tion of Prepositional phrases. 

A critical and exhaustive examination of the line shake- 
terminations in the blank verse of the plays attributed s P ear . ea ^. 

r J terminations 

to " Shakespeare will, we imagine, yield surprising 
results. We have therefore taken not only the play 
of " Hamlet," which we made our standard in examin- 
ing the blank verse of " The Tempest," but all the 
Shakespearean plays which received a proper literary 
presentation between the publication of " Henry IV," 
part i, the first of the issue in 1597, and " Hamlet " 
(1604), the last of the authentic issues prior to the 
First Folio, and we have spent some hours in running 
the eye over the terminations of their blank verse. 
Not once have we found a line ending in " and," 
" but," or other simple Conjunction or Conjunctive 
Pronoun. We will not venture to say that such 


an ending does not exist in " Richard III," 
" Richard II," " A Midsummer Night's Dream," 
" Love's Labour's Lost," " The Merchant of Venice," 
" Romeo and Juliet," " Much Ado," " Titus 
Andronicus " or " Hamlet " ; but if any such termina- 
tion should happen to be there we have not discovered 
it ; and so extremely rare is it that it would have to be 
ranked with " Homer's nods " and " Milton's lapses." 
In the case of " The Tempest," however, there is 
no need to search for these endings : they obtrude 
themselves in a most uncomfortable way. 
" Weak- When, however, we turn to the plays which " others 

and' strange were C3 ^ G ^ upon at a later date to finish," a totally 
pens. different state of things is met with. There is probably 

not one of these without several " and " and " but " 
terminations. The play which comes nearest to 
" The Tempest " in this particular we should imagine 
to be " Cymbeline." If we glance over it whilst 
the contrast between the true Shakespearean termina- 
tions and " The Tempest " terminations are still 
in mind, we recognize at once that the " Cymbeline " 
terminations belong to the " Tempest " order. 
" Ands," " buts," and Conjunctive Pronouns are met 
with frequently ; and in versification, at any rate, 
there is a general suggestion of similarity in the two 
works. It is interesting, therefore, to note in this 
play, the sea, the scene before a cave, the thunder 
and lightning, and the dumb-show " mummery " 
(which Sir Sidney Lee admits could not have been 
penned by " Shakespeare "), and even the character 
of Imogen : all of which are suggestive of the work 
we are discussing. 

If, then, the substance of the play of " Cymbeline " 
is Shakespearean, everything is suggestive of its having 


been versified by the writer who composed " The 
Tempest." A development of this line of study will 
probably do much to still further reduce the quantity 
of pure Shakespearean literature. In so far as the 
conceptions and general wording of the later plays are 
recognized as Shakespearean, it will tend to bear out 
a theory we have developed in an earlier chapter, 
that these dramas existed first as stage plays with a 
larger proportion of prose, and were subsequently 
converted into poetic literature ; the later works 
having to receive their versification from strange 
hands. In the case of " Cymbeline " it is possible 
to ascribe the poetic dressing alone to the strangers. 
In the case of " The Tempest " we believe that the 
entire drama must be given over to those who were 
engaged in finishing off " Shakespeare's " plays. 

We are prepared to maintain, then, on the strength Not Shako- 
of the various points indicated, that " The Tempest " s *' s 
is no play of " Shakespeare's." It is not the absence 
of an odd Shakespearean characteristic, but the 
absence of so many dominant marks of his work, along 
with the presence of several features which are quite 
contrary to his style, that compels us to reject it. 
If, therefore, it was actually put forward during 
William Shakspere's lifetime as a genuine Shake- 
spearean play, it furnishes an additional testimony 
to the previous death of the dramatist, and what was 
at first a difficulty thus becomes a further support 
and confirmation of our theory. Who the writer or 
writers may have been, how the work came to find a 
place in the collected issue of Shakespeare's plays 
(the First Folio), why it happens to be accorded the 
first place in that collection and is also edited with 
exceptional pains, are, no doubt, problems of consider- 



able interest, which, if solved, might throw some light 
upon our own problem. Their solution, however, 
is neither pressing nor necessary, and therefore may 
be allowed to stand over. 

Relation to We desire, however, to emphasize the fact that 
onr problem. but for the theory that Edward de Vere was the 

writer of Shakespeare's plays we might never have been 
led to suspect the authenticity of " The Tempest." 
When, therefore, the theory of the De Vere author- 
ship suggests doubts as to the genuineness of this 
play, and on examination we find such an accumula- 
tion of evidence that it is not Shakespeare's work, 
the discovery brings additional support to the 
supposition that the author of the genuine work was 
indeed Edward de Vere. And it is the frequency 
with which such examples of mutual or complementary 
corroboration have sprung from our theory, that has 
given to that theory such an air of certainty. 

We are conscious that in putting forward these 
views respecting " The Tempest," we are probably 
" cutting prejudice against the grain " as dangerously 
as in the theory of authorship we are advancing, and 
also risking the opening up of side issues which may 
divert attention from the central theme. This is why 
we have relegated the matter to an appendix. To 
those whom these arguments do not satisfy we would 
therefore, for the time being, indicate the earlier dates 
suggested by Hunter and others, and the general 
theory of collaboration held respecting " Shake- 
speare's " latest productions. Meanwhile we make 
it clear that we do not rest upon these earlier date 
theories, and that the rejection of " The Tempest " 
must in our view be incorporated ultimately into the 
general argument. 



ONE of the chief difficulties with which we have had to 
contend in penning the foregoing pages has been that 
of keeping pace with the accumulation of evidence and 
placing it in its proper connections : a very strong 
testimony to the soundness of the general conclusions. 
Even after the work was virtually all set up some most 
interesting evidence, one piece of which will probably 
crown the whole structure, came into our hands. These 
matters we can only briefly indicate. 


First, we would quote the following passage which 
we had overlooked in the English Men of Letters series, 
which gives valuable support to our " Posthumous " 
argument : 

'' At the beginning of his career Shakespeare made 
very free use of the work of other men. . . . Towards 
the end of his career his work is once more found 
mixed with the work of other men, but this time there 
is generally reason to suspect that it is these others 
that have laid him under contribution, altering his 
completed plays, or completing his unfinished work 
by additions of their own " (" Shakespeare," by Sir 
Walter Raleigh, p. 109). 





An examination of the De Vere Crest in " Fairbairn's 
Crests" (vol. II. plate 40,2) and in the " De Walden 
Library " (vol. Banners, Standards and Badges, p. 257) 
discloses the interesting fact that what Sir Edwin 
Durning - Lawrence in "Bacon is Shakespeare," 
(page 41) had taken for Bacon's Crest, because it 
chanced to be in a presentation copy of the " Novum 
Organum," is in fact the De Vere Crest. Several 
families had the Boar as their crest ; but the dis- 
tinguishing mark of this one is the crescent upon the 
left shoulder of the animal (see " De Walden Library ") . 
This is peculiar to the De Vere Crest, and appears in 
Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence's illustration. Whatever 
value there might be in this writer's argument there- 
fore belongs to De Vere. We shall not, however , 
discuss that argument at present. 

The stars upon the De Vere banner and the family 
motto : 

" Vero nihil verius " 

nothing truer than truth are specially interesting 
in view of Hamlet's poesy to Ophelia : 

" Doubt that the stars are fire, 

Doubt that the sun doth move, 
Doubt truth to be a liar, 
But never doubt I love." 

This mode of exaggerating by representing something 
as being " truer than truth " comes out again in 
Shakespeare's satirizing of Euphuism, where he repre- 


sents Don Armado as using the terms of the De Vere 
family motto : 

"Thou art ... truer than truth itself." 



It is not generally known that there is no Shake- 
speare portrait before the Droeshout engraving which 
appeared in the First Folio : that is to say, seven years 
after the death of the man it is supposed to represent ; 
and it is of a totally different type from the bust of 
him that was set up at Stratford, where he would be 
personally known. Droeshout, moreover, was only a 
lad of fifteen when Shakspere died ; he would be only 
twelve when Shakspere was in London probably for 
the last time, and was born only the year before 
Shakspere's supposed retirement in 1604. These 
facts, combined with the peculiar character of 
the portrait he produced, has made the question of 
what he had to work on not the least interesting of 
the many problems connected with Shakespearean 

It was not until a few months ago that we had an 
opportunity of seeing a portrait of Edward de Vere 
in Fairfax Murray's reproductions of the portraits that 
are in the Duke of Portland's place at Welbeck Abbey, 
near Worksop, Nottingham. 

Certain features in the picture immediately suggested 
the Droeshout engraving ; most particularly the thin 
dark line which runs along above the upper lip, leaving 
a slight space between this suggestion of a moustache 


and the edge of the lip itself. Since then we have 
looked over a large number of portraits of the time, 
and have discovered nothing else similar. In addi- 
tion there were the same facial proportions, the same 
arching of the eyebrows, the identical pose (three- 
quarter face), the same direction of gaze, about an 
equal amount of bust, the chief difference being that 
one is turned to the right and the other to the left : 
altogether there was quite sufficient to suggest that, 
when the two could be brought together, a very strong 
case might be made out for Droeshout having worked 
from this portrait of Edward de Vere, making modifi- 
cations according to instructions. For Oxford was 
only twenty-five when the portrait was painted, and, 
of course, it was necessary to represent Shakespeare 
as an older man. This would explain the peculiar 
Tom Pinch like combination of youthfulness and age 
that is one of the puzzling features of the Droeshout 

We have now before us, however, what may prove 
to be the most sensational piece of evidence that our 
investigations have so far yielded. This is a picture 
known as the Graf ton portrait of Shakespeare at 24. 
The full particulars respecting it are narrated in a work 
on the subject by Thomas Kay and published in 1915 : 
the chief aim of the book being to show the connection 
between this and another portrait from which the 
Droeshout engraving was conceivably made. 

Now, until we can place an acknowledged portrait 
of the Earl of Oxford alongside of it, we shall defer 
saying positively that this is actually another portrait 
of him ; but speaking from recollections of the other 
we would say at first sight that it is so. The eye is at 
once arrested again by the thin dark line on the upper 


lip that we noticed in Oxford's portrait ; there are all 
the features which we noticed his portrait had in 
common with the Droeshout engraving ; and in those 
points in which the older features of the Droeshout 
engraving differed from Edward de Vere this one agrees 
with the latter. The probability that it is another 
portrait of the Earl of Oxford is therefore very 

We now come to the startling facts. First of all, 
although the portrait is that of a young man aged 
twenty-four, he is dressed as an aristocrat, and Strat- 
fordianism is driven to invent far-fetched explanations. 
Again under the 4 of his age there had been a 3, and 
again more explanations have to be invented. Then, 
under the 8 in the date it looks again as if there had 
been another 3, and authorities are quoted to contro- 
vert it. Now as the Earl of Oxford would be twenty- 
three in the year 1573 these two alterations are two out 
of the three precise alterations which would be necessary 
to make the age and date in a portrait of Edward de Vere 
agree with the particulars for William Shakspere of 

In a word we have here probably (to be cautious for 
the present) a portrait of the Earl of Oxford with 
particulars altered to fit the Stratford man : in which 
case our evidence is about as complete as it could be. 
The probability is, as a study of the work suggests, 
that this portrait was placed before Droeshout as the 
basis for his engraving. We would further add that 
the numbers were probably altered so that the engraver 
need not be in the secret. The scrubbing to which the 
picture has been subjected has brought up the numbers 
from underneath. That same scrubbing has, un- 
fortunately, obliterated the high lights on the nose of 


the portrait, thus altering its shape and reducing its 
value for identification. 

This enables us to finish our argument almost in 
strict accordance with the original plan, the seventh 
and last step of which was to connect directly as far 
as possible the newly accredited with the formerly 
reputed author 

Note. The Grafton portrait of Shakespeare has now been care- 
fully compared with the Welbeck portrait of Edward de Vere, 
and when proper allowances are made for evident differences of 
artistic treatment and skill, and for the denudation of high 
lights from the former, as well as other disfigurements resulting 
from ill-usage to the picture, there seems abundant justification 
for the point of view assumed in the above argument. In our 
opinion the portrait of the Earl of Oxford has more in common 
with both the Grafton portrait and the Droeshout engraving 
than these two have with one another. 


" A. W.," 65. 

Absence of letters by W. Shak- 

spere, 37-8, 71-2. 
Accounts of the Treasurer of 

the Chamber, 77-9, 86. 
Activities, dramatic, of de Vere 

Actors' licenses, Shakespeare in, 

Admiral's, Lord, company of 

players, 369. 
" Action," Spenser's, 73. 
Affectation of Sir P. Sidney, 297. 
" Agamemnon and Ulysses " 

Oxford's play of, 312, 420. 
Alen9on (see Anjou). 
" All's Well," 223, 232, 235, 

247. 253-5, 266, 364, 377, 415, 

459, 495 the argument 

from, climax to, 280-1 ; 

story of Bertram in, 459. 
Alteration of numbers in Grafton 

portrait, 535-6. 
Ancestry of Edward de Vere, 

Anecdote respecting Shakspere, 

71 ; of Burbage and Shak- 
spere, 84, 86. 

Anjou, Duke of, 247, 353, 474. 
Anonymity, motives for, 64, 

66, 210-14. 
Anti-Stratfordian authorities, 

24, 26 ; difficulties, 64-68. 
" Antony and Cleopatra," 413, 


Archives, municipal, and Shak- 
spere, 74, 86. 

Arguments, convergence of 
many, 21, 85-7, 147, 150-1, 
208, 430-32, 435-37, 493-95, 

Argument, posthumous, sum- 
mary of, 430-32, 531; poetical, 
152-207 ; dramatic, 306-348. 

Aristocracy of Shakespeare, 
121-3, 222-3, 233, 254, 270. I 

35 537 

Arundel, Charles, and Oxford, 

" As you like it," 197, 218-9, 

377, 4i5- 

Asbies, Shakspere's lawsuit re, 

Atheism, Oxford accused of, 
150, 480. 

Authorities, chiefly Stratfordian, 
19, 20 ; anti-Stratfordian, 
24, 26 ; biographical, 209. 

Authorship, importance of, 13 j 
Merchant of Venice, bearing 
upon, 14 ; and William Shak- 
spere, 15 ; dramatic, Halli- 
well-Phillipps on, 65. 

Autobiography in the Sonnets, 
21 1-2, 434. 

Bacon, Francis, 433; and Oxford, 
240 ; and Essex, 392, 472 ; 
death of, 432. 

Bacon's Crest, 532. 

Baconian theory, 393, 432, 443. 

Bagehot, Richard, on Shake- 
speare, 206. 

Baptista Minola's crowns, 271 ; 
Nigrone's, 271. 

Bayne, The Rev. Ronald, M.A., 
on Antony Munday, 308-10. 

Bearing of " Merchant of 
Venice " upon the author- 
ship, 14. 

Bedingfield, Edward de Vere's 
letter to, 165-6. 

Bell, H. G., Mary Queen of 
Scots, 358. 

Benedict Spinola, 272. 

Beesly's " Queen Elizabeth," 


Bequests of William Shakspere, 
42-6 ; to Heminge and 
Condell, 42 ; Jonson and, 


Bertram in " All's Well," Story 
of, 280, 459. 



Browne in " L.L.L." and 

Oxford, 293, 460. 
Betrothal of Anne Cecil to Sir 

P. Sidney. 256. 
Biographical authorities, 209 ; 

summary, 487-92. 
Bishopsgate, Shakspere's resi- 
dence in, 57, 61, 370 ; Oxford 

at, 370. 
Blackfriars property, deed of 

purchase of, 51 . 
Boar's Head tavern, Oxford 

at, 398-401 ; Southwark, 399. 
Boar (The) as a crest, 400, 532. 
Boccaccio, 233, 280. 
Bond, M.A., Mr. R. W., on 

Lyly's works, 321-35. 
Books and W. Shakspere, 31, 

46 ; Lord Chamberlain's 

missing, 79. 

Brutus, eccentricity of, 302. 
Bullen, A. H., on Antony 

Munday, 308. 
Burbage, Mrs. Stopes on death 

01, 54- 
Burbage, Richard, 77, 87-9, 

227 ; Company at Court, 78 ; 

and Shakspere, anecdote of, 

84, 86. 

Burbage, James, 376. 
Burleigh, Lord (see William 

Cecil) ; Lady, 246, 259. 
Burns, Robert, 215. 
Burns, Ruskin on, 30 ; and 

books, 32-3 ; education of, 


Business methods of Shakspere, 
14 ; transactions of Shak- 
spere, 39. 

Business of Shakspere, 61-2. 

Cambridge, History of English 
Literature, 152, 174 ; History 
of English Literature on 
A. Munday, 308-9 ; servants 
of de Vere, play at, 306. 

Carlyle on Shakespeare as 
dramatist, 114; on Shake- 
peare's feudalism, 120-1 ; 
Thomas, 159 ; on Shake- 
speare as poet, 363, 493. 

Castle Hedingham, 231, 257, 

Catholicism, Shakespeare on, 

130-1 ; and Edward de Ver. 
140, 150, 481 ; and Hamlet, 
479-81 ; and" The Tempest." 

Cecil, Anne, 244, 253, 254, 255, 
256, 273-81 ; and Desdemona, 
274-5 ; death of, 361-2, 476 ; 
and Juliet, 203, 256. 455 ; 
and Ophelia, 474-5. 

Cecil, Sir Robert. 245, 388; 
de Vere's letter to, 239. 

Cecil, Thomas, 245, 261, 473 ; 
and Essex rebellion, 482. 

Cecil, William, 216, 234, 251, 
34, 3 6 5. 376 ; and literary 
men, 260 ; espionage of, 261, 
473 ; and travel, 267 ; 
Spenser on, 260, 287 ; 
Macaulay on, 288, 469 ; and 
Queen Mary's execution, 
351-9 ; and Polonius, 258-62, 
469-474 ; characteristics of, 
469-470; maxims, 471 ; philo- 
sophy of life, 470-3 ; and 
Somerset, 472. 

Cecils, The, and Edward de Vere, 

Chamberlain, Great, 220, 228- 

30. 437 : Lord, 228-9. 
Chamberlain's, Lord, company 

of actors, 74-6. 402 ; missing 

books, 79. 
Chapter on Stratfordian view, 

interpolation of, 22. 
Character of Edward de Vere, 

M4. H?. 153, 155. 164-5. 

172, 194, 198, 204-7, 209-13, 

222, 242, 260, 278, 326, 346- 

7, 354-6. 45. 433. 436, 
456. 483-5, 498-9. 

Chaucer, 191. 

Chettle and William Shakspere, 
395. 426. 

Chettle's apology, 69, 85. 

Child, Harold H.. 152, 156. 

Church, Dean, life of Spenser, 
1 60, 287, 291 ; on Sidney's 
affectation, 297 ; on Spenser's 
"Willie," 338-40; on Bur- 
leigh's cunning, 287. 
j Chronological summary, 487- 

i Clark and Wright, Clarendon 

Press on " Macbeth," 411. 
i Clarke, Cowden, 338, 424. 



Classical education of Shake- 
speare, 117-8. 

Clayton, John, 62. 

Climax to "All's Well " 
argument and Boccaccio, 

Close of career in London of 
W. Shakspere, 81. 

Coarse fun in " The Tempest," 

Colin Clout, 341, 343. 

" Colin Clout's come home," 73. 

Collins, Arthur, on Edward de 
Vere, 157 ; historical recollec- 
tions, 209, 248. 

Combe, Thomas, 44. 

Comedies compared with 
" Tempest," 506. 

" Comedy of Errors," 169, 271. 

Comedy and tragedy combined, 
204-207, 466. 

Competing solutions, 142-3, 432, 

443, 448. 

Comte, Auguste, Shakespeare 
a sceptic, 131. 

Concealment, motives for, 65, 

Contemporary notices of Shake- 
speare, 68-71 ; silence respect- 
ing Shakspere, 71-2. 

Contemporaries and W. Shak- 
spere, 87-9. 

Convergence of many argu- 
ments, 21, 85-7, 147, 150-1, 
208, 430-2, 435-7, 493-5. 

" Coriolanus," 177, 412, 413. 

Courthope, W. J., History of 
Poetry, 153 ; on Edward de 
Vere, 153, 156. 

Creizenach, Shakespeare's aristo- 
cratic views, 122 ; on Lyly 
and Oxford, 316-7. 

Creighton's " Age of Elizabeth " 
and literature, 139. 

Crest, Oxford's, 400, 532. 

Crests, Fairbairn's, 532. 

"Cymbeline," 413; compared 
with " The Tempest," 528. 

Damask rose and lily, 174-9. 

Dancing, 247. 

Daniel, Sonnets of, 453. 

Dante, 90, 99. 

Dark Lady in the Sonnets, 449. 

Dates of publication, 414-23. 
Dating the plays, 371-81. 
Date of " The Tempest," 503-6. 
Davison, Burleigh's letter to, 

Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, 


De Vere (see Vere). 
Death of Shakspere, 39 ; of 

Spenser, Jonson and Dean 

Church on, 54 ; of Burbage, 

Mrs. Stopes on, 54 ; of Anne 

Cecil,36i-2 ; of Oxford,4O4,43i. 
Dedication of " Lucrece," 440; 

of Sonnets, 440-2. 
Deed of purchase of Blackfriars 

property, 51. 
Definition of the Shakespearean 

problem, 94. 
Dennis, G Ravenscroft, on the 

House of Cecil, 209, 261 ; 

on Thomas Cecil, 473. 
Desdemona and Anne Cecil, 


Desire, Shakespeare and de Vere 
on, 180-3. 

Desportes, Sidney's plagiarism 
from, 299. 

" Destiny," Hamlet and, 461-2. 

Devereux, Robert, poetry of, 
245 (see also Essex Rebellion). 

Devereux, Walter (istEarl), 256. 

Dictionary of National Bio- 
graphy, 141-7, 209. 

Different spellings of " Shake- 
speare," 12, 63. 

Difficulties of anti-Stratfordian 
views, 64. 

Discovery, 34-43 ; preparatory 
movement towards, 20; sen- 
sational 280-1, 459. 

Disrepute in the Sonnets, 211 
(see also Loss of good name). 

Document in Guildhall library, 

Donnelly Ignatius, " The Great 
Cryptogram," 23-5. 

Doubtfulness of Stratfordian 
view, 15. 

Dowden, Prof., list of plays, 

374, 376-7, 49- 
Drake, on " King Lear," 410. 
Drama and Shakespeare, 113-5. 
Dramas, unpublished, and Shak- 

spere's will, 40-1, 422-3. 



Drama, evolution of Eli/abethan, 
313 ; Hamlet as patron ofj 
318, 475-6. 

Dramas, issue of Shakespearean, 

367-79, 47- 2 3 
Dramatic activities of de Vere, 

Dramatic authorship, Halliwell- 

Phillipps on, 65 ; r61es of 

Shakspere, 83. 
Dramatist, Edward de Vere 

as. 145, 157. 
Dray ton at Stratford, 43 ; 

sonnets of, 453. 
Dreams in " Hamlet " and 

" The Tempest," 510-2. 
Droeshout engraving, 533-6. 
Dryden on Spenser's " Willie," 

Duality in Shakespeare, 303 ; 

in Oxford, 302-3 ; in Hamlet, 

Dumb shows in " The Tempest," 

Durning-Lawrence, Shakspere's 

signatures, 49 ; on Bacon's 

Crest, 532. 
Dyce on date of " The Tempest," 


Earls Colne, 231. 

Early life of William Shakspere, 


Early life of Oxford, 230-52. 
Eastcheap, Boar's Head tavern 

at, 398, 400. 
Eccentricity of Shakespeare, 

iio-n ; of Edward de Vere, 

144, 301 ; of Brutus, 302 ; 

of Hamlet, 465. 
Echo poems, 198-200, 254. 
Echo poem in Venus and Adonis, 

Echo, The, in " Romeo and 

Juliet," 200. 
Educated classes, Shakespeare 

as the poet of, 30-1. 
Education of Shakespeare, 27, 

117-8 ; of Shakspere, 28-34 : 

of Burns, 32-3 ; of Oxford, 

Edwards the choirmaster, 317, 


Elizabeth, Queen, and Shake- 
speare, 74 ; funeral of, 229- 

30; and Oxford, 166-7, 2 4<>, 
2 35> 2 39-4 o > an d Lady 
Burleigh, 259 ; and Hatton, 
264 ; proposed French 
marriage, 353-6 ; death of, 
and Shakespeare, 395 ; death 
of, and Oxford, 396. 

Elizabethan poetry, 160 ; drama, 
evolution of, 313. 

Elze Karl on date of " The 
Tempest," 506. 

Emerson on Walt Whitman, 
i oo- 1 ; on Shakespeare, 102, 


" Endymion," Lyly's play of, 
320, 334. 

" England's Helicon," 174, 250, 

English, Shakespeare s, 27 ; 
men of Letters (Shakespeare), 
34-5, 57. Qi-2. 236-7, 531. 

Espionage of Burleigh, 261. 

Essex, Earls of (see Devereux). 

Essex, rebellion, 81, 82, 87 ; and 
Henry Wriothesley, 388-94 : 
rebellion and " Richard II," 
389 ; execution of, 391 ; re- 
bellion and Thomas Cecil, 482. 

Essex, histories of, 209 ; Wright's 
history of and climax to 
"All's Well " argument, 

Euphuism. 293, 532-3. 

Evolution of Elizabethan drama, 

Exeter, Earl of (see Thomas 

Exposition, method of, 17, 18. 

Fairbairn's Crests, 532. 

False stories of Oxford, 218. 

Father of Edward de Vere, 
230-3, 248 ; of Hamlet, 466. 

Features, general, of Shake- 
speare, 109-19. 

Fen ton, Geoffrey, 277. 

Feudalism and Shakespeare, 
120, 481; and " The Tempest," 

Fielding, 99. 

First folio of Shakespeare, 41, 
83, 415, 422-3 ; Heminge 
and Condell's responsibility 
for, 42, 422-3 ; Ben Jonson 
and, 43. 



Fletcher, Laurence, 75. 

Folio, first, of Shakespeare, 41, 
83, 415, 422-3 ; second of 
Shakespeare, 330-1, 492. 

Forgeries, Shakespearean, 80, 

Fortune and Nature, poem on, 

Fortinbras and James I, 482. 

Free school at Stratford, 
William Shakspere and, 29. 

France, Shakespeare and, 356-7. 

French language and Shake- 
speare, 27, 243 ; and Oxford's 
education, 242-3. 

Fuller, Worthies' library, 155 ; 
and Sir Horace Vere, 478-9. 

Gadshill, Oxford at 401. 
Gayton's " Festivous Notes," 

General features of Shakespeare, 

Genius and the Shakespeare 

problem, 96-100. 
Getley, Walter, 62. 
Globe theatre burnt down, 82-3, 


Good name (see Loss of). 
Goethe, 99, 422. 
Golding, Arthur, tutor to Oxford, 

230, 496 ; and Ovid, 236 ; and 

law, 238. 
Good name, loss of, 193-5, 

210-13, 405, 436. 
Grafton portrait, 534-6. 
" Great Cryptogram," Ignatius 

Donnelly, 23-5. 
Greek unities and " The 

Tempest," 518. 
Green's Short History on Oxford, 


Greene, 70, 85. 
Greene's attack on Shakspere, 

60, 69, 85, 426. 
Greenstreet, Mr., on William 

Stanley, 448. 
Greenwood, Sir George's work, 

indebtedness to, 19, 20 ; 

Sir George, 24, 102 ; on Ben 

Jonson, 45, 55 ; on mask- 
ing performance in " The 

Tempest," 506. 
Greville, Fulke (Lord Brooke), 

218, 295, 304. 
Grosart, Dr., 209 ; on Edward 

de Vere, 154-5 ; and Fuller 

Worthies' Library, 162-4, 

Guildhall library, Shakspere 

document in, 52. 
Gunnyon, W., sketch of Burns, 

30, 32-3- 

Hackney, Oxford's residence at, 
227, 239-40, 370. 

Haggard Hawk, the Poems on, 
137-8, 173, 450. 

Hall, Susanna, Shakspere 's 
daughter, 40. 

Hall, Doctor, and Shakspere's 
books, 46. 

Halliwell-Phillipps, material 
supplied by, 25 ; Outlines, 
28 ; on Shakspere's books, 
31-2 ; on death of Shak- 
spere, 39 ; on testamentary 
irregularities, 50 ; on Shak- 
spere's residence at Stratford, 
57 ; on Shakespeare as a 
dramatist, 59 ; on purchase of 
New Place, 59 ; on dramatic 
authorship, 65 ; on Shak- 
spere as actor, 74 ; on 
Treasurer of Chambers 
accounts, 77 ; and the Boar's 
Head tavern, Eastcheap, 398 

Hamlet, 71, 124, 170, 209, 232, 
247, 267, 357, 364, 377, 
381, 404, 415-6, 418, 428, 
495, 499 ; and secrecy, 67 ; 
as patron of drama, 318-9, 
475-6 ; sea experiences of, 
362 ; publication of, 421-2 ; 
Frank Harris on, 457 ; 
Shakespeare as, 457-486 ; 
father and mother of, 466-7 ; 
and Laertes, 474 ; and his 
times, 479 ; dying appeal 
of, 483-4 ; and versification 
in " Tempest," 525-7 ; and 
dumb-shows, 513-4 ; and 
the De Vere motto, 532. 

Handwriting (see Penmanship). 

Heminge and Condell, responsi- 
bility for first folio, 42, 422-3, 


Harris, Frank. " The Man 
Shakespeare," 21, 183, 222, 
255, 293, 304, 439; oil 
Hamlet, 457. 



Harris, Sergeant, 240. 
Harvey, Gabriel, 290-2, 321-2, 

328. 341, 381. 
Hatfield manuscripts, 209, 239, 

286, 370, 397. 
Hatton and Oxford, 264, 304. 
Hedingham (see Castle Heding- 

Helena in " All's Well " and 

Lady Oxford, 253, 255. 
Henneage, Thomas, 77, 235, 

429, 439- 
"Henry IV," Parts I and II, 

398-401, 414 ; Part II, 377, 

418, 428. 
"Henry V," 302, 357, 377, 

415. 428. 
" Henry VI." Parts I, II and 

III, 123, 224-6; Part III, 

" Henry VIII," 102, 374, 411, 


Holofernes, 290-2. 
Home life of Shakspere, 29. 
Homeric poems and Shake- 
speare, 15, 1 6, 90. 
Horatio and Hamlet, 477-9. 
Horatio de Vere, 427, 477-9. 
Horsemanship, 248-50 ; and 

" The Tempest," 520-1. 
Hostility between de Vere and 

Burleigh, 262-289. 
Howard, Charles, Earl of 

Nottingham, 369. 
Human nature and " The 

Tempest," 522. 
Hume, Martin, on The Great 

Lord Burleigh, 209, 358-9 ; 

on Mary Queen of Scots, 

358-9 ; on Burleigh's 

maxims, 470-1. 
Hunsdon, Lord, 229. 
Hunter on " The Tempest," 

503, 505-6. 

Ignoto, 65. 

Importance of authorship, 13. 

Income of W. Shakspere, 39, 
76-7, 425-6. 

Incredibilities of Stratfordian 
views, 67. 

Indebtedness to Sir G. Green- 
wood's work, 19, 20 ; to 
Sir Sidney Lee's work, 141 ; 
to Halliwell-Phillipps's work, 

28-9 ; to Frank Harris's 

work, 304. 
Interpolation of Chapter on 

Stratfordian view, 22. 
Interrogatives, Shakespeare's 

and de Vere's use of, 188-9. 
Inventor of the Shakespeare 

sonnet, 453. 
Issue of Shakespearean dramas, 


Italy, Edward de Vere in, 146, 
251, 268-72 ; and Shake- 
speare, 124. 

Jaggard, " Passionate Pilgrim," 

James I, Coronation of, 229 ; 
and Fortinbras, 482. 

Jonson, Ben, and the first folio, 
43 ; not mentioned in 
Shakspere's will, 43 ; son 
of, 44 ; visit to Shakspere, 
43-45 ; verse in first folio, 55. 

Jonson, Ben, 70, 86, 87, 89 ; 
and Shakspere, 84 ; and 
" Every man out of his 
humour," 400. 

Judith and Susanna Shakspere, 

Juliet and de Vere's childwife, 
203. 255. 455. 

" Julius Caesar," 305, 377, 415. 

Kay, Thomas, on Grafton 
portrait, 534-6. 

Kemp, William, 77. 

" King John," 415. 

" King Lear," 302, 357, 374, 
409-10, 415, 420. 

Knight on date of " Tempest," 

Knyvet, Sir Thomas, antagon- 
ism with Oxford, 300. 

Laertes and Polonius, 470 ; 
and Thomas Cecil, 473. 

Lancastrian sympathies of 
Shakespeare, 123 ; of Oxford, 

Lang, Andrew, and Shake- 
speare's rapid production, 381. 

Lark, The morning, 202. 

Last years of William Shak- 
spere at Stratford, 35-9. 



Later plays of Shakespeare, 
407-14, 430-1, 531. 

Latin, Shakespeare's knowledge 
of, 27, 243 ; and Oxford's 
education, 242-3. 

Law and Shakespeare, 26-7, 
118; and Oxford, 238-40. 

Lawsuit of Shakspere reAsbies,6i . 

Lee, Sir Sidney, Heminge and 
Condell responsibility for first 
folio, 42, 422-3 ; on publica- 
tion of Shakespeare's dramas, 
56, 68, 374, 416, 420 ; on 
Shakspere's business transac- 
tions, 62 ; on Shakspere as 
actor, 74 ; Life of William 
Shakespeare, 92 ; on Shake- 
speare and drama, 115 ; 
on Shakspere and money 
matters, 126 ; on Edward 
de Vere, 141-2, 155, 367 ; 
on Jaggard, 178 ; on Will 
and Desire, 184 ; on Arthur 
Golding's " Ovid," 236 ; on 
Shakespeare's French and 
Latin, 243 ; on Sidney's 
plagiarism, 299 ; on Shake- 
speare and Lyly, 319-20; 
on Shakespeare's later plays, 
407, 411-13 ; on Pericles, 420 ; 
on the Sonnets, King Lear, 
Troilus and Cressida, 420 ; 
on proposed marriage of 
Southampton, 445 ; on 
mummery in " Cymbeline," 

Lefranc, Prof., 24 ; on William 
Stanley, 448. 

Letter, only, addressed to 
Shakspere, 59, 60 ; to 
Bedingfield, Edward de 
Vere's, 165-6. 

Letters of Edward de Vere, 
2 39-4 . 3i6, 370. 

Letters by W. Shakspere, 
absence of, 37-8, 71-2. 

Licenses, actors', Shakespeare 
in, 63. 

Life, early, of W. Shakspere, 
28-34 ' * Oxford, 230-52. 

Lily and Damask rose, 174-9. 

Literary, experts and Shake- 
speare problem, 94, 95 ; 
interests of Shakespeare, 112, 
113 5 transition and Edward 

deVere, 161 ; style of Edward 
de Vere, 162-3 ; form, a 
peculiar, 192 ; quality of 
" The Tempest," 507-8 ; 
men in the Savoy, 321-2. 

Literature, Cambridge History 
of, 152, 174 ; and stage plays, 

Living, William Shakspere's 
rate of, 36. 

Lottie's memorials of the Savoy, 

London, residence in, of Shak- 
spere, 57 ; residence in, of 
Oxford, 227, 267, 269 ; 
Oxford's company of actors 
in, 306. 

Lord Chamberlain's company 
of actors, 74-6 ; books miss- 
ing, 79, 87 ; company and 
the Spanish ambassador, 82 ; 
company litigation, 82. 

Loss of good name, 193-5, 210- 
13, 245, 282, 287-9, 305. 433, 
436, 456, 479-8o, 483-5, 

Love's contrariness, 182 ; 
penalties, 184-5 ; Labour's 
Won, 282. 

Love's difficulties, poems on, 

" Love's Labour's Lost " and 
the De Vere motto, 532-3. 

" Love's Labour's Lost," 99, 
169, 177, 206, 241-2, 290- 
3 01 - 309, 320, 329, 373, 380, 
414, 418, 428, 459, 495. 

Lovers, Shakespeare's, 515-6. 

" Lucrece," 176-7, 188-90, 302, 
35. 374. 38o, 414 ; dedica- 
tion of, 440. 

Lyly, 153, 221 ; and the Oxford 
Boys, 316-21 ; and maxims 
of Polonius, 471 ; and 
Shakespeare's works, 320- 

335 ; and Oxford, 322-3, 335. 
Lyly's " Campaspe," 329-30, 

336 ; " Whip for an ape," 
330 ; " Endymion," 320, 334 ; 
" Gallathea," 336 ; " Love's 
metamorphosis," 336; 
" Woman in the Moon," 337 ; 
lyrics, 320, 329-34 ; works, 
Mr. R. W. Bond, M.A., on, 
321-335 5 Euphues, 315. 



Lyric poetry of Shakespeare, 
1 16-7 ; of Edward de Vere, 

152. 167. 
Lyrics of Lyly, 320. 

Macaulay on Shakespeare's 
religion, 130-1 ; on Burleigh, 
288, 469. 

"Macbeth," 374, 409-11, 415, 

43 r 
Magic in " The Tempest," 


Maledictions, closing, by Shake- 
speare and de Vere, 190. 

" Man Shakespeare "(see Harris). 

Manners, Roger, 213, 432, 443. 

Manuscripts of Shakespeare, 41. 

Manzoni, 99. 

Marlowe, 319. 

Marriage, first, of Oxford, 253 ; 
second.of Oxford,365, 449-50 ; 
of Southampton, proposed, 
444-8 ; of Oxford's mother, 

Mary Queen of Scots, trial and 
execution of, 350, 358-9. 

Masterpieces and maturity, 98- 

Material of research not new, 
19 ; supplied by Halliwell- 
Phillipps, 25. 

Maturity and masterpieces, 

Maxims of Burleigh, 470-1. 

" Measure for Measure," 264, 
281, 377. 415. 

Melancholy of Shakespeare and 
de Vere, 192-3. 

Mental distraction of Shake- 
speare and de Vere, 186-7. 

" Merchant of Venice," bearing 
of upon authorship, 14, 124, 
193, 228, 272, 358, 365, 377, 
415, 418, 428, 466; passage 
on music, 521. 

Meres, Francis, 70, 141, 155, 

317. 37i 

" Merry Wives of Windsor," 333, 
377, 415, 418, 428 ; and the 
Boar's Head tavern, 400-1. 

Method of exposition, 17, 18 ; 
of solution of Shakespeare 
problem, 103-8, 493-5, 536. 

Method, business, of Shake- 
speare, 14. 

Meziires on Lyly and Shake- 
speare, 323. 

Middle period of W. Shakspere, 

" Midsummer Night's Dream," 
169, 181-2, 309-11, 320, 370, 
377, 415, 418, 428 ; and 
"The Tempest," 504. 

Milton, 99. 

Miranda, 515-6. 

Missing, signatures of Shakspere, 
49 ; books of the Lord 
Chamberlain, 79, 87. 

Modern revolution, Shakespeare 
and, 479-82 ; times, Shake- 
speare and, 500-2. 

Moliere, 99, 215. 

Money, and Shakespeare, 14, 
125-6 ; matters and Edward 
de Vere, 145 ; difficulties of 
Edward de Vere, 364-5. 

Morant, History of Essex, 209. 

Mother of Edward de Vere, 
234, 467 ; Hamlet, 462, 467. 

Motives for anonymity, 64-66 ; 
for concealment, 210-4. 

Motto of the De Veres, 532. 

" Much Ado about Nothing," 
174. 377. 415. 418, 428. 

Munday, Anthony, 251, 268, 
382, 496 ; Oxford and Shake- 
speare, 307-11, 337. 

Municipal archives and Shak- 
spere, 74, 86. 

Music and Shakespeare, 125. 

Music passage in " Merchant 
of Venice," 521 ; passage in 
"The Tempest," 521. 

Musical taste of Edward de 
Vere, 145. 

" Mystery," Shakespeare, 90- 

2, 93 

Mysteriousness of Shakespeare, 

New Place, purchase of, 60-1. 
Non-literary occupations of 

Shakspere, 38. 
Norfolk, Duke of, 279. 
North's Plutarch " Coriolanus," 


Note, preliminary, 12. 
Notices, contemporary, of 

Shakespeare, 68-71. 



Obituary notice, none of 

Shakspere, 54. 

Occupations of Shakspere, 36-9. 
Ophelia and Hamlet, 462-5, 

532 ; and Lady Oxford, 

" Othello," 173, 195, 365, 373, 

377. 404, 415. 417. 450. 495 ; 

and de Vere, 273-6, 455. 
" Outlines," by Halliwell- 

Phillipps, 28 
Ovid, 171. 
Oxford, Earls of, 220-32 (see 

Vere) ; and the Wars of the 

Roses, 224-6 ; Shakespeare 

and, 225 ; and Great 

Chamberlains, 228. 
Oxford Boys, The, 207 ; and 

Lyly, 316-21. 
Oxford, first Countess of (see 

Anne Cecil) ; second Countess 

of (see Elizabeth Trentham). 

Parents of William Shakspere, 

Passage, opening, of Shakspere 's 
will, 46. 

" Passionate Pilgrim," The, 178. 

Peculiar literary form, 192. 

Penmanship of Shakspere, 34, 
47 ; of Burns, 34 ; of 
Edward de Vere, 382. 

Penzance, Lord, 24, 26. 

" Pericles," 102, 374, 415, 417, 
418, 420. 

Period, middle, of W. Shakspere, 

Periods, three, of Shakspere's 
life, 35, 52-3 ; of Shake- 
spearean publication, 414-23. 

Petrarch, Sidney's plagiarism 
from, 299. 

Petrarcan sonnet and Shake- 
speare's, 453. 

Phillipps, Augustine, 78, 81-2. 

Philosophy, opportunist, of 
Polonius, 470-2 ; of " The 
Tempest," 508-12. 

" Phoenix' Nest, The," 152. 

Pity, desire for, 198. 

Plagiarism of Sir P. Sidney 

Plays, Ben Jonson's, Shakspere 
in, 80-1 ; as poetry, 386-8 ; 

later plays of Shakespeare, 
407-14, 430-1, 531. 

Poem on Fortune and Nature, 

Poems, of Shakespeare, publica- 
tion of, 61 ; of Lord Vaux, 
169-70; on Love's difficulties, 
179-83 ; by Edward de Vere, 
137-8, 168-207, 279, 284, 
295. 3". 3H. 315. 344. 3<59, 
450, 454- 

Poetry, History of W. J. 
Courthope, 153 ; Elizabethan, 
1 60 ; and stage plays, 386. 

Politicians and Shakespeare, 
357-8 ; and Hamlet, 481. 

Polonius, 257, 258, 262, 267, 
465 ; and Burleigh, 469-74. 

Portrait, of Oxford, 533 ; 
Droeshout, of Shakespeare, 
533 I Grafton, of Shake- 
speare, 533. 

Portland, Duke of, and Oxford's 
portrait, 533. 

Posthumous arguments, sum- 
marized, 430-2 ; and Prof. Sir 
Walter Raleigh, 531. 

Preliminary note, 12. 

Preparatory movement towards 
the Discovery, 20. 

Preservation of secret, 66-7. 

Prince Hal at Boar's Head, 
Eastcheap, 398-9 ; his es- 
capades and Oxford, 401. 

Problem, the Shakespeare, 91, 
1 02 ; solution required, 93 ; 
defined, 94. 

Problem not purely literary, 16. 

Provincial tours of Shakespeare's 
company, 74-6. 

Publication of Shakespeare's 
dramas, and W. Shakspere, 
56 ; dates of, 414-23. 

Purchase of New Place, 60-1. 

Purpose of the Thesis, 16. 

Puttenhaiu, 141, 155, 317, 322. 

Quarrel with Sidney, Oxford's, 

Queen's company of actors, 


Raleigh, Sir Walter (Professor) 
on Stratfordian traditions, 
34-5 ; on Shakspere's London 



life, 57 ; and " English Men 
of Letters," 91-2 ; on 
A. Gelding's " Ovid," 236-7 ; 
on Shakespeare's later plays, 


Raleigh, Sir Walter, 73, 264, 
304 ; and execution of Essex, 


Raynolds, 44. 

Rate of living of William 
Shakspere, 36. 

Realism in Oxford and Shake- 
speare, 160-4, 171-2, 510. 

Records, the, of Edward de 
Vere, 209-19. 

Religion, Shakespeare's, 130-1 ; 
Oxford's, 150 ; Hamlet's, 

Reputation, loss of, 193-5 ; 
of Edward de Vere, 209, 
(see Loss of Good Name). 

Research, material of, not new, 
19 ; method of, 103-8, 

493-5. 530. 
Residence at Stratford of 

W. Shakspere, 39 ; at South- 

wark of Shakspere, 60 ; at 

Bishopsgate, 57, 61. 
Residences of Edward de Vere, 

227, 367, 369- 
Retirement of Edward de Vere, 


" Return from Parnassus," 71. 
Revolution, Shakespeare and 

Modern, 479-82. 
" Richard II " and the Essex 

rebellion, 389, 427. 
" Richard II," 82, 123, 169, 

193, 221-2, 249,377, 399, 414. 
" Richard III," 124, 224-6, 377, 


Rogers, Philip, 62. 
Romeo and Juliet, 127, 169, 195, 

203, 255, 300, 377, 414 ; the 

echo in, 200. 
Romeo and Juliet and de Vere's 

poetry compared, 201, 454. 
Romeo and Juliet, The morning 

lark, 202 ; sonnets in, 455. 
Ronsard, Sidney's plagiarism 

from, 299. 
R61es, dramatic, of Shakspere 


Royal Ward. Edward de Vere as, 

Ruskin on Shakespeare Burns 
and Dickens, 30 ; on Shake- 
speare's women, 128. 

Sadler, Hamlett, 44. 

Savoy, Loftie's memorials of, 
321-2 ; Oxford and literary 
men in the, 321-2. 

Scepticism regarding Stratfor- 
dian view, 23. 

Scepticism (religious) of Shake- 
speare, 1 3 1 ; of Edward deVere, 
150 ; of Hamlet, 480. 

School, free, at Stratford, 
William Shakspere, and 29. 

Scott, 30, 99. 354, 381. 

Sea, the, in Shakespeare's plays, 
360-2, 517. 

Search for Shakespeare, 134-44. 

Second folio of Shakespeare, 
330-1, 492. 

Secrecy and Hamlet, 67. 

Secret, preservation of, 66-7. 

Secret occupations of Shake- 
speare, 217 ; of Oxford, 371. 

" Sejanus," Jonson's, 81. 

Sensational discovery, 280-1, 


" Shakespeare," different spel- 
lings of, 12, 63; and travel, 
14 ; and money, 14, 125-6 ; and 
business, 14 ; and the Homeric 
poems, 15, 16 ; and law, 26, 
118, 238-41; education of, 
27 ; and the French language, 
27 ; his English, 27 ; as the 
poet of the educated classes, 
30-1 ; first folio of, 41, 83 ; 
manuscripts of, 41 ; Sir G. 
Greenwood on Jonson's view 
of, 55 ; in actors' licenses, 
63 ; contemporary notices of, 
68-71 ; Edmund Spenser's 
silence respecting, 72-3 ; and 
Queen Elizabeth, 74 ; in the 
Treasurer of Chamber's 
accounts, 77 ; forgeries of, 
80 ; " Mystery," 90-3. 

" Shakespeare " problem, 90-2, 
93 ; solution required, 93 ; 
problem and literary experts, 
94-5 ; and genius, 96-100 ; 
modernity of, 101-2 ; method 
of solution of, 103-8. 

Shakespeare, genera] features, 



109-19 ; mysteriousness of, 
109-10 ; eccentricity of, no- 
ii ; Byron and Shelley, 110- 
ii ; his literary interests, 
112-3 an d tne drama, 
11 3-5; as lyric poet, 116-7; 
classical education, 117-8; 
and feudalism, 120 ; an 
aristocrat, 121-3 ; and sport, 
124-5 ; scepticism of, 131 ; 
and music, 125 ; on woman, 
127-9 ; on Catholicism, 130-1 ; 
search for, 134-44. 

Shakespeare and deVere's poetry, 

173-207 ; mental distraction, 

186-7; use f interrogatives, 

188-9; closing maledictions, 

190-1 ; melancholy, 192-3. 

Shakespeare, and high birth, 
222-3 ; duality of, 303 ; 
Munday and Oxford, 307-1 1 ; 
and Lyly, 320-335 ; and 
Spanish Armada, 360-1 ; 
dramas, issue of, 367-78, 
408-23 ; and Queen Eliza- 
beth's death, 395 ; publica- 
tion arrested, 409, 415-6 ; 
publication revived, 417-20 ; 
second folio, 330, 492 ; later 
plays, 407-14, 430-1 ; con- 
temporaries of, in the plays, 
290-301, 457 ; as Hamlet, 
457-486 ; in his dramas, 

Shakespeare and travel, 267-8 ; 
and France, 356-7 ; and 
politicians, 357-8. 

Shakespeare's, poems, publica- 
tion of, 6 1 ; plays, publica- 
tion of, Sir S. Lee on, 68 ; 
Lancastrian sympathies. 123 ; 
Italian interests, 124 ; sonnets, 
177 ; French and Latin, 241-3 ; 
method of production, 371-2, 

Shakspere, William, and the 
authorship, 15, 496 ; his early 
life, 28-34 ; parents of, 29 ; 
and the free school at Strat 
ford, 29 ; and books, 31, 46 ; 
last years at Stratford, 35-39 ; 
absence of letters by, 37-8, 
Ti-2 ; residence at Strat- 
ford, 39, 56-7 ; his will, 39- 
50 ; his daughter, 40 ; his wil \, 

and the unpublished dramas, 
40-1, 422-3 ; bequests of, to 
Heming and Condell, 42 ; 
missing signatures of , 49 ; 
property of, 51 ; no obituary, 
notice of, 54; his middle period, 
56-89 ; and publication of 
Shakespeare's dramas, 56, 378, 
380 ; residence in London, 57, 
61 ; only letter addressed to, 
59-60 ; Greene's attack on, 
60, 69, 426 ; residence in 
Southwark, 60 ; business of, 
61-2 ; lawsuit re Asbies, 61 ; 
anecdote respecting, 71 ; 
contemporary silence respect- 
ing, 71-2 ; as actor, 73-85, 
245 ; his income, 39, 76-7 ; 
in Ben Jonson's plays, 80 ; 
close of career in London, 81 ; 
his dramatic roles, 83 ; and 
Ben Jonson, 42-5, 55-6, 84 ; 
and municipal archives, 74, 
86 ; and his contemporaries, 
87-9 ; and the Essex rebel- 
lion, 389 ; and Chettle, 395 ; 
his retirement, 424, 431 ; 
role of, 426. 

Shakspere's, day, Stratford in, 
29 ; penmanship, 34, 47 ; 
three periods, 35, 52-3 ; rate 
of living, 36 ; non-literary 
occupations, 38 ; business 
transactions, 38-9, 425, 429 ; 
income, 39, 76-7 ; books, 
Doctor Hall and, 46 ; will, 
opening passage, 46. 

Sharp, Wm., on Shakespeare's 
sonnet, 453. 

Shepherd, Tony, 65, 250, 308. 

" Shepherds' Calendar," 169 ; 
and Spenser's " Willie," 341. 

Shooting, 248. 

Shoreditch, theatres at, 367. 

Sidney, Sir Philip, 73, 153, 160, 
179, 216, 218, 256 ; betrothal 
to Anne Cecil, 256 ; travels of, 
265 ; and Boyet, 294-300 ; 
affectation of, 297 ; debts of, 
297-8 ; plagiarism of, 298-9 ; 
and literary men, 327-8 ; and 
Spensers " Willie," 340-9 ; 
death and funeral of, 350-6. 

Signatures of Shakespere, Sir E. 
Maunde Thompson on, 47-9. 



Silence, contemporary, respect- 
ing W. Shakspere, 71-2, 86. 

Six-lined stanza, The, 137-8, 
167, 1 68, 169. 

Solution required for the 
Shakespearean problem, 93 ; 
of Shakespeare problem, 
method of, 103-8. 

Solutions, competing, 142-3, 393, 

432, 443- 

Somerset, Duke of, and Bur- 
leigh, 472. 

Son of Ben Jonson, 44. 

Sonnets, the, 128-9, 177, 187, 
194, 198, 205, 303, 415, 417, 
420, 431, 495 ; disrepute in the, 
211 ; autobiography in the, 
21 1-2, 434-7; Shakespeare's 
secret occupations, 217 ; and 
the Earl of Southampton, 394, 
437-40 ; dedication, 418-9, 
440-1 ; closing of the series, 
43. 437 I dedication of, 440- 
2 ; the " dark lady " in, 449 ; 
and Oxford's chief interests, 
451-2 ; the Shakespeare, in- 
ventor of, 453 ; Petrarcan 
and Shakespeare's, 453 ; in 
" Romeo and Juliet," 455. 

Southampton, Mary Countess 
of . 77. 439. 467 ; Earl of (see 
Wriothesley, H.). 

Southwark, Shakspere's resi- 
dence in, 60. . 

Spanish ambassador and theLord 
Chamberlain's company.82,87; 
Armada, Oxford and, 360, 
476-7 ; Armada, Shakespeare 
and, 360-1. 

Spellings of " Shakespeare," 
different, 12, 63. 

Spenser, death of, Jonson and 
Dean Church on, 54. 

Spenser, Edmund, silence re- 
specting Shakespeare, 72-3, 
86, 87-9, 169, 291 ; on de 
Vere, 154, 328; on Burleigh, 
260, 287 ; Sidney's plagiarism 
from, 298 ; Shepherd's Calen- 
dar, 328 ; " Teares of the 
Muses," 338-346 ; and Ed- 
ward de Vere, 346. 

Spenser, Gabriel, 80. 

Spenser's "Action," 73 ; " Wil- 
lie." 338-346, 366-7. 437. 

498; " Willie " and Sidney, 

Sport, Shakespeare's interest 

in, 124-5 ; Oxford's interest 

148 ; and " The Tempest," 

St. John, Lord, on Oxford's 

marriage, 254. 
Stage plays and literature. 

382-8 ; and poems, 386-7. 
Stanley, William, 213, 432 ; 

marriage with Elizabeth de 

Vere, 448-9 ; Mr. Greenstreet 

on, 448 ; M. Lefranc on, 448. 
State papers, calendars of, 209, 


Staunton on date of " The 
Tempest," 506. 

Stopes, Mrs., on death of 
Burbage, 54 ; on Treasurer 
of Chamber's accounts, 77-9 ; 
on Stratfordian traditions, 83 ; 
on " Burbage and Shake- 
speare's stage," 240, 312 ; 
on proposed marriage of 
Southampton, 446. 

Stratford, in Shakspere's day, 
29 ; last years of William 
Shakspere at, 35-9 ; 

Grammar School, 29 ; Shak- 
spere's residence in, 39, 56-7 ; 
Oxford's company of players 
at, 307. 

Stratfordian, view, doubtfulness 
of, 15, 443 ; authorities 
chiefly used, 19, 20 ; view, 
chapter on, interpolation of, 
22 ; view, scepticism regard- 
ing, 23 ; incredibilities, 67-8. 

Sturley, Abraham, 62. 

Summary, biographical, 487- 
92 ; of evidence, 493-5. 

Susanna and Judith Shakspere, 

" Taming of the Shrew," 169, 

170-3, 244. 271, 364. 
Taxes, Shakspere's payment of, 


" Tempest, The," 413, 415 ; 
examination of, 503-30 ; 
Hunter on, 503, 505-6 ; date 
of, 503-6 ; compared with 
other comedies, 506-8 ; 
literary quality of, 507-8 ; 



philosophy of, 508-12 ; and 
Hamlet, 510-1, 513 ; versi- 
fication compared, 525-7 ; 
" dumb-shows and noise," 
513-4 ; un-Shakespearean 
details in, 514 ; absence 
of wit in, 515-7 ; coarse 
fun in, 516-17 ; magic in, 
517-8 ; and Greek unities, 
518 ; and Feudalism, 518 ; 
and Catholicism, 519 ; and 
woman, 520 ; and horseman- 
ship, 520-1 ; and sport, 
522 ; and human nature, 
522 ; vocabulary of, 523 ; 
versification of, 524-9 ; weak- 
endings in, 528-9 ; passage 
on music in, 521 ; and 
" Cymbeline " compared, 528. 

Testamentary irregularities, 50. 

Theatres at Shoreditch, 367, 
370 ; at Newington Butts, 
369 ; at Bankside, 369. 

Thesis, purpose of, 16. 

Thompson, Sir E. Maunde, and 
Shakespeare's manuscripts, 
41, 311 ; on Shakspere's 
signatures, 47-9, 50. 

Three periods of Shakspere's 
life, 35, 52-3. 

" Timon of Athens," 102, 374, 

" Titus Andronicus," 102, 415, 
418, 428. 

Tours, provincial, of Shake- 
speare's company, 74-6. 

Tragedy and comedy combined, 
204-7 ' 466. 

Traditions, Stratfordian, Sir W. 
Raleigh on, 34-5 ; Mrs. Stopes 
on 83. 

Transitions, business, of W. 
Shakspere, 39, 61-2. 

Travel and Shakespeare, 14, 
124, 146, 216, 251, 265-75. 

Treasurer of the Chamber, 
accounts of, 77-9, 86, 401. 

Trentham, Elizabeth, Second 
Countess of Oxford, 365-6, 
425, 429, 441. 

Trentham, Thomas, 441. 

Trial and execution of Mary 
Queen of Scots, 350, 358-9. 
" Troilus and Cressida," 312, 
37. 377. 4*5. 4 2 - 

" Twelfth Night." 358, 377. 

" Two Gentlemen of Verona," 

184, 268, 415. 
Tyrell, Sir Charles, marries 

Oxford's mother, 468. 

University, Edward de Vere 

at, 146. 
Universities, Oxford and, 243-4 

Vaux, Lord, 191 ; poems ot, 

Venus and Adonis, 136, 177, 
198, 249, 374, 380. 388, 390, 
414 ; Echo poem in, 198-9 ; 
The morning lark, 202. 

Vere (de), Edward, poem on 
women, 137-9 ; religion, 140, 
150. 355. 480; Sir Sidney 
Lee on, 141-2 ; Webbe on, 
142 ; eccentricity of, 144, 
301, 465 ; musical taste of, 
145 ; and money matters, 
145 ; as dramatist, 145, 157 ; 
as Royal Ward, 146 ; at the 
University, 146 ; in Italy, 
146, 257, 268-75 ; interest 
in sport, 148 ; Lancastrian 
sympathies of, 148, 224-8 ; 
and woman, 149, 435 ; as 
lyric poet, 152, 168 ; W. J. 
Courthope on, 153 ; Edmund 
Spenser on, 154, 346 ; Grosart 
on, 154-5 ; Arthur Collins 
on, 157 ; and the literary 
transition, 161 ; literary 
style of, 162-3 1 character 
of, 164-5, 172, 404, etc ; 
letter to Bedingfield, 165-6 ; 
and Queen Elizabeth, 166-7 ' 

Vere (de), Edward, and Shake- 
speare on Desire, 180-3 ; 
mental distraction of, 186-7 ; 
use of interrogatives, 188-9 ; 
closing maledictions of , 190-1; 
melancholy of, 192-3 ; loss 
of good name, 193-5, 436. 

Vere (de), Edward, lyric poetry, 
comparison with " Romeo 
and Juliet," 201, 455 ; " Tha 
morning lark " poetry, 202 ; 
his childwife, 203 ; records 
of, 209-19 ; reputation of, 



209, 404 (see character) ; 
and travel, 216, 265-76 ; 
false stories of, 218 ; and 
Charles Arundel, 219 ; 
ancestry of, 220-30 ; resi- 
dences of, 227, 367 ; father 
of, 230-3, 248 ; mother of, 
234 ; and Queen Elizabeth, 
235. 2 39-4 o . 246; and law, 
238-40 ; letter to Sir Robert 
Cecil, 239 ; and Francis 
Bacon, 240 ; education of, 
236-50 ; and the Universities, 
243-4 1 an d the Cecils, 244-5 ' 
marriage of, 253 ; and early 
tragedy, 262 ; hostility with 
Burleigh, 262-289 ; and 
Hatton, 264 ; and Othello, 
273-6 ; poems of, 137-8, 
168-207, 279, 284, 295, 311, 

3M. 315. 344. 369, 450, 454 5 
quarrel with Sidney, 296 ; 
antagonism with Sir T. 
Knyvet, 300 ; duality of, 
302-3 ; dramatic activities 
of, 306-38 ; servants of, 
at Cambridge and London, 
306 ; servants of, at Stratford, 
307 ; Munday and Shake- 
speare, 307-11 ; play of 
Agamemnon, 312 ; letters of, 
316, 370 ; in the Savoy, 
321-2 ; and Lyly, 316, 321- 
35 ; and Spenser's " Willie," 
342-9 ; and Phillip Sidney, 
350-6 ; and his times, 354-8 ; 
and Spanish Armada, 360-1 ; 
retirement of, 365-71 ; 
money difficulties of, 364-5 ; 
second marriage of, 365, 449- 
50 ; and issue of Shake- 
spearean dramas, 367-87 ; at 
Bishopsgate, 370 ; penman- 
ship of. 382; and execution 
of Essex, 392-3 ; and Queen 
Elizabeth's death, 396 ; 
and presidency of Wales, 
379 ; at the Boar's Head 
tavern, 398-401 ; and Prince 
Hal's escapades, 401 ; death 
of, 404, 431 ; burial at 
Hackney, 404; and Shake- 
speare's Sonnets, 434 ; out- 
standing interests in Sonnets, 
451 ; inventor of Shake- 

speare Sonnet, 453 ; Sonnet 

by, 454 ; and Hamlet, 463*; 

and life at court, 463-4. 
Vere (de), Elizabeth, 444 ; 

marriage to William Stanley, 

Vere (de), John, I2th Earl, 148 ; 

1 3th Earl, 148, 225-6 ; i6th 

Earl, 230-3. 
Vere (de), Henry, i8th Earl. 

214, 390 ; baptism at Stoke 

Newington, 391. 
Vere (de), Horatio, 427, 477, 

Vere (de), Robert, and " Richard 

II," 221-2. 

Veres, The Fighting, 478. 
Verse by Ben Jonson in first 

folio, 55. 
Versification in " The Tempest," 

524-9 ; in Shakespeare's last 

plays, 412-3. 
View, doubtfulness of Stratfor- 

dian, 15. 
Visit of Ben Jonson to Shak- 

spere, 43-5. 
Vocabulary of " The Tempest," 


Walden (de) Library, 532. 
Wales, presidency of, Edward 

de Vere and, 397. 
Walsingham, pays Sidney's 

debts, 298, 351 ; and Queen 

Mary's execution, 351-9. 
Wars of the Roses, Earls of 

Oxford in, 224-6. 
Weak-endings in Shakespeare's 

last plays, 412-3. 528-9 ; 

in " The Tempest," 525-9 ; 
Webb, Judge, 24 ; on proposed 

marriage of Southampton, 

Webbe, on Edward de Vere, 

142, 155- 
Welbeck Abbey, Oxford's 

portrait at, 533. 
' Were I a King." 295, 343. 
White, Grant, on Macbeth, 411. 
Whitman, Walt, Emerson on, 


Will (Shakspere's), 39-50 ; and 
the unpublished dramas, 40-1, 


Will, The, sonnets, 347-8, 437. 
" Willie," Spenser's, 338-49, 


Wit, absence of, from " Tem- 
pest," 515-6. 

Woman, Shakespeare and, 127- 
130 ; Oxford and, 149-50 ; 
in " The Tempest," 520. 

Worcester's, Earl of, company 
o players, 398, 403. 

Wright, History of Essex, 209 ; 
and climax to " All's Well " 
argument, 280-1. 

Wriothesley, Henry, 235, 245, 
427, 431, 496 ; and the 
Essex rebellion, 388-94 ; and 
the Sonnets, 394, 437-40 ; 
and Shakspere, 425 ; theatri- 
cal interests, 428 ; proposed 
marriage of, 444-8. 


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