Why I'm Not an Oxfordian:
Bacon Versus De
A Review of the Evidence
Many Oxfordians have a talent for unconscious humor. They match
remarkably G. K. Chesterton's witticism, "I have seen the truth, and
it makes no sense." But the Oxfordian movement has a really
intriguing feature. There is evidence of goats mixed in with the
sheep, who, fully conscious of how preposterous the idea is that
Edward De Vere wrote the Shakespeare works, are playing the whole
thing for laughs.
Certainly, if this is the case, these people have a real genius
for surreptitious humor.As one reads the Oxfordian material it is
fascinating to try to distinguish between those who are sincere, and
the sly humorists in their midst. As an example, in his1679 book,
"Brief Lives", John Aubrey had the following story about De Vere:
"This Earle of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to
Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so
abashed And ashamed that he went to Travell, 7 years. On his
return The Queen welcomed him home, and sayd, My Lord, I had
Forgott the Fart."
And Oxfordian flag bearer, the late Charlton Ogburn (who gave the
languishing Oxfordian movement new life with his 1984 book, "The
Mysterious William Shakespeare", and who after all his years of
research on De Vere was certainly familiar with Aubrey's story)
ingenuously remarked in his book:
"Looney first picked up the scent."
Was Ogburn's humor unconscious, or surreptitious? Was he a sheep
or a goat? Ogburn was alluding to the man who started their movement,
J. Thomas Looney, a Gateshead schoolmaster, whose 1920 book,
"Shakespeare Identified" originated the idea that Edward De Vere, the
17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the works published under the name of
Shakespeare. There are subtle hints by some Oxfordian insiders that
Looney was a pseudonym used to tip off the more alert to what was
really going on. Although there are certainly Oxfordian sheep who
will disagree with this, they haven't provided a convincing argument
why the name "Looney" was used if the work was really serious. In any
event, the fact that their founder published under the name Looney"
has interjected a wonderfully comedic element into the whole
People unaware the Oxfordian movement may have began as a joke,
continually suggest, while snickering behind their sleeves, that
instead of Oxfordian, it would be fitting, as a proper tribute to
their founder, to call themselves Looneys. Little do they know they
are amateurs, and the Oxfordian goats are far ahead of them. The fact
that along with the handful of goats (who are in on the joke) there
are a multitude of sheep in the Oxfordian fold who think the whole
thing is serious adds a delightfully zany dimension to the comedic
aspect of the whole thing. There is reason to think these people are
continually being bamboozled to the top of their bent by their more
savvy, and hilariously zany colleagues. My own opinion is both Looney
AND Ogburn were goats. After all, given Ogburn's sly comment that
"Looney first picked up the scent" what else can one think?
While prey to a despondent mood, one rainy day last week, I
visited the Oxford Society Website. As soon as I began to read their
articles I cheered up. Their main act, always playing on center
stage, is their "We Revere De Vere" parody. At least I think it is a
parody. One can never be sure whether the author of any given piece
is a "totally in earnest" sheep, or a "tongue in cheek" goat. In any
event, it put me in a jocular mood because in the real world to know
De Vere was to loathe him. The Oxfordians expend a great deal of time
and energy on their reinvention of De Vere. For outsiders to
appreciate the "comedy act" they must be aware that although the
Elizabethan Era had some real stinkers, Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of
Oxford (1550-1604) was conspicuous both figuratively and literally.
The idea that such a person wrote the Shakespeare plays is so
preposterous it contains almost unlimited comedic potential. Since
the Oxfordians believe, or pretend to believe, De Vere wrote the
Shakespeare plays, the script demands they clean up after him. As a
result they continually parody the clown with the oversized shovel in
the circus who trudges along behind the elephant. It is a marvelous
It has been said that Rose Kennedy when asked why her
daughter-in-law Joan lived in Boston while her son Ted lived in
Virginia, responded, "Who's Virginia?" Perhaps the Oxfordian sheep
could come up with a response of equal intelligence if asked about de
Vere. But don't count on it.
Bernard M. Ward wrote the sole biography of de Vere in 1928. Ward
was not only an Oxfordian, but an Oxfordian sheep, and his answer to
the de Vere question failed to rise to the intellectual level of Rose
Kennedy. So it is necessary to resort to more orthodox historians for
a valid depiction of de Vere's character. If the researcher does
this, he or she will find De Vere provides wonderful support for the
Oxfordian farce. He was a most unsavory and dissolute character.
After he was married he impregnated the unlovely Anne Vavasour, the
tart among the cream pies of Elizabeth's maids in waiting. He then
abandoned his first wife, Anne Cecil, to take up with an Italian
choirboy he brought back from Italy with him. Charles Arundel accused
De Vere of being "a buggerer of a boy that is his cook." And added,
"I have gone to the back door to satisfy myself : at the which the
boy hath come out all in a sweat, and I have gone in and found the
beast [De Vere] in the same plight." This, of course, was
after De Vere, a former Catholic, broke with the faith and denounced
Arundel as a traitor on the grounds that HE was a Catholic.
Admittedly there may have been just a tad of animus in Arundel's
accusation. However, it is curious that De Vere kept the Italian
choirboy in his residence for a year. Anyone who knows anything about
De Vere's character knows it could not have been an act of
De Vere was an unmitigated egotist. In "Elizabeth the Great"
Elizabeth Jenkins described him as "psychologically selfish". An
unselfish act would have been as foreign to his nature as the deep
blue sea to cacti. In a letter to William Cecil written when he was
twenty-six, DeVere sounded the keynote of his character:
"always I have, and I will still, prefer mine own content
This from the man the Oxfordians (tongue in cheek perhaps?) claim
was the source of the universal humanity exhibited in the Shakespeare
plays. Oxford had about as much humanity as Atilla the Hun. He
recklessly squandered his family fortune and was associated with many
violent skirmishes and frequent deaths. He was vain, arrogant,
self-centered, truculent, and perpetually getting into trouble. He
was only 17 when he murdered his first man, and he may have murdered
a number of others. It is certain that he plotted to murder Sir
Walter Raleigh. He insulted Sir Philip Sidney, wanted to fight a duel
with him, but was prevented by the Queen. Because he squandered the
vast fortune left him by his father, John De Vere, 16th Earl of
Oxford, he reduced himself to a destitute state. As a consequence,
the Queen (because the premier peer of the realm as a beggar would
have been a great embarrassment to her monarchy) granted him a
stipend of 1,000 pounds annually for life. The Oxfordians have
concocted a hilarious conspiracy comedy out of the 1,000-pound
stipend. They actually claim he utilized it to produce theater plays
for the war effort, an idea that would have even someone with an
abscessed tooth rolling around in the aisles. In any event, when even
this stipend did not suffice for his prodigality, De Vere married a
rich woman and proceeded to squander her wealth as well.
In the real world every schoolboy knows at least ten of the
Shakespeare plays were written after 1604. This is based on evidence
that goes well beyond "a reasonable doubt." But an article at the
Oxford Society Website explained that these plays were all written in
the 1590s. The article neglected to mention the point that if this
was true,then given the scholarly consensus of a beginning date of
1590 for the first play this would mean all 37 were written in that
one decade. Since De Vere died in
1604 following an extended illness this is a corner the Oxies
have painted themselves into. Was this a diabolically clever sense of
humor, or an abysmally ignorant lack of humor? In this ambivalent
milieu what I found particularly amusing was the vein of impressive
earnestness and sincerity that ran through the article. Was it just a
trifle overdone, consciously engineered perhaps to be a tip off?
It should be noted that in one of the most hilarious comedy skits
ever concocted by the Oxfordian goats, Eva Turner Clark in "Hidden
Allusions in Shakespeare's Plays" performed the task (vital to the
Oxfordian cause) of re-dating the plays to conform with Oxford's life
and early death. The book goes beyond zany all the way to idiotic
genius. I would recommend it for anyone who needs a good laugh. Are
you depressed, gloomy, lugubrious even? Do visions of Nefazodone,
Mirtazapine, or Ventafaxine float through your head? Here's an
alternative medicine for you. Read "Hidden Allusions in Shakespeare's
If the Oxie, whose article I was reading at the Oxford Society
site, was jesting he was extremely clever about it. From his tone you
would have never known he imagined that there was anything ridiculous
or funny about his claim. Sincerity fairly dripped off the page.
Never mind that Looney himself was not so loony that he failed to see
no one would believe The Tempest could have been written by De
Vere since it was written long after 1604. An additional fact is that
Macbeth was patently constructed around the attempted assassination
of King James in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Even hard-core
Oxfordians of the sheep variety (who don't have to hold their noses
to remain oblivious to the fact that something smells about their
theory) sometimes show traces of recusancy regarding this issue. But
the article I was reading plunged doggedly on.
The article explained that the period from the early 1590s through
the end of the century coincided exactly with the "recluse period" in
De Vere's life. It went on to share the choice bit of information
that this was when De Vere retired from court and withdrew to
Hackney. It was obvious, the article fantasized, that the reason he
retired from court and withdrew to Hackney was so he could buckle
down and produce all those great masterpieces that later appeared
under the nom de plume of Shakespeare. I might have found the article
more persuasive, but as chance would have it, on that very same day I
had happened across a passage in Burton's Anatomy of
Melancholy that supported Aubrey's tale. Burton said:
"Or as he did, of whom Felix Plater speaks, that thought
he had some of Aristophanes' frogs in his belly, still crying
Brecececex, coax, coax, oop, oop, and for that cause studied
physic seven years, and travelled all over most part of Europe to
That Burton's 1621 book referred to the same incident Aubrey
recorded in his 1679 Brief Lives can, I think, be accepted as
a self-evident fact. Without this independent testimony it would have
been necessary to heed the comment of antiquary Anthony Wood that
Aubrey was "roving and magotie-headed" and discount his story about
de Vere. With this independent testimony we must accept that we are
dealing with no imaginary effluvium, but with something reeking and
real. In short with a blast of history that must be fitted into the
chronicle of de Vere's life. And since Oxford's life is well
documented except for that period of the last decade of the 16th
century when he retired from court and dropped out of sight, the
seven years wandering "all over most part of Europe" must have taken
place during this time. It seems that, although the incident of the
"blast from the past" (when Oxford, a man not averse to tooting his
own horn, performed for the Queen) was repressed in official records,
the accounts of Burton and Aubrey slipped through the cracks. It was,
indeed, "an ill wind that blows de Vere no good", and objectivity
dictates we admit the Oxie's claim is `gone with the wind'".
The incident may have provided material for the Shakespearean
play Coriolanus. De Vere was a martial type, champion at the
tilts, even equipping a ship at his own expense to fight against the
Spaniards when their Armada sailed against England. In addition, one
of De Vere's major features was his haughty nature and his pride. So
when the "blast from the past" incident took place, and when
afterwards he was laughed at behind his back wherever he went, the
situation, given his haughty nature, must have been excruciating for
him. Imagine the degree of shame to cause him to leave England and
wander from country to country about the continent for seven long
years trying to rid himself of the albatross (Diomedia flatulanus)
hung about his neck. When we see in Coriolanus, a hero noted
for his martial exploits, who has only contempt for the commonalty;
and who is humbled and shamed before the people he despises, and who
as a consequence goes to another country, the similarity to the case
of De Vere is obvious.
Trust the Oxfordians never to rest on their laurels. No sooner had
I finished reading about De Vere's retirement from court so he could
produce those great masterpieces that later appeared under the name
of Shakespeare than I came across the transcript of "The Shakespeare
Mystery" segment of PBS' Frontline. Charlton Ogburn, Oxfordian
point man, was a member of the panel on the program. In order to
understand the humor in the situation I am about to recount one must
be familiar with an old story.
According to this story a lion was walking down a jungle trail. He
proclaimed for the entire world to hear, "KING OF THE BEASTS, LORD OF
THE JUNGLE", swelled his great chest, and let out a mighty roar. He
saw an elephant and began to laugh. "Ha!" he said, "Look at you, you
overgrown oddity! What's it with you and over eating? Do you have a
glandular problem? And what's that? A big snake growing out your
nose? Why can't you be like me? King of the beasts. LORD OF THE
JUNGLE." And he let out a mighty roar.
The lion proceeded on down the jungle trail and saw a giraffe. He
began to laugh again. "Look at you." He said. "You walk like you got
a stick stuck up the wrong place, and that neck. Is it a neck or a
stepladder? Why can't you be like me. KING OF THE BEASTS, LORD OF THE
JUNGLE." And he let out a mighty roar again. Then he proceeded down
the jungle trail and had only gone a few steps when he spied, hiding
under a big leaf, a little scrawny, miserable looking mouse. The
little mouse was in general the most pathetic and miserable looking
creature anyone could ever imagine, and it kept shivering all the
time. The lion laughed so hard he fell over on his side.
"And you!" He said, "You are beyond the shadow of a doubt the
poorest excuse for any creature I have ever seen. You are scrawny.
You are tiny. You shiver all the time.Why can't YOU be like me?" And
the lion went into a paroxysm of laughter at the very idea before he
said, "KING OF THE BEASTS! LORD OF THE JUNGLE!" and let out his
mighty roar. The little mouse said, "I been sick."
I think Ogburn may have been familiar with this story. In the
transcript of the Frontline segment, when taxed by the MC for
his failure to give a convincing answer to a question about De Vere,
Ogburn (who carried the burden of the Oxfordian hoax on his
shoulders) slyly said:
"I been sick."
This was so delightfully comical I almost fell off my chair
Charlton Ogburn committed suicide on October 17, 1998. Although it
has been claimed that suicide is the sincerest form of
self-criticism, it is a cheap shot to say (as some have) that he
killed himself because he finally saw the truth about De Vere. I
think he knew all along. Ogburn was old and scrawny, gray as a rat,
but he played his role with passion, if it was a role, to the very
end, never wavering from his defiant act as an ardent Oxfordian. When
Ogburn committed suicide he was 87 years old. And I would note for
the record that his book, "The Mysterious William Shakespeare" is
actually quite a good book, in fact it is unique of its kind.
I happened to go to Beaufort, South Carolina, where Ogburn had
lived, about a year and a half after he committed suicide. While I
was wandering around along the shops on Bay Street I saw the McIntosh
Bookstore, and, as is my habit, I went in to check out the books. In
the rear of the bookstore I came across almost an entire shelf of
books, (including the 1975, two volume, edition of J. Thomas Looney's
"Shakespeare Identified") devoted to the Oxford question. When I
began to page through the books I saw the books had belonged to
Charlton Ogburn. The clerk told me the bookstore had purchased a
large `lot' of books from the Ogburn estate. A number of these were
autographed by Ogburn, and had his annotations on the margins
throughout the books. I have to admit this was the first indication I
had that the whole Oxfordian thing may have been a sham. Until then I
actually thought they were all serious! But Ogburn's marginal scrawl
in the Oxfordian books that were ardently preaching the Oxfordian
doctrine, with his comments such as, "silly inference', "oh, no!",
"ROT", and his favorite derisive annotation, "heigho!", threw a whole
new light on the Oxfordian movement.
Other books on the shelf were autographed by his mother, Dorothy
Ogburn. The Oxford Theory was very much a family affair with the
Ogburns. Dorothy Ogburn, along with Charlton Ogburn Sr, wrote the
book, "This Star of England", a 1,297 page tome, that purports to
give information proving De Vere wrote the Shakespeare works. I must
say that, although I steeled myself to the point where I was able to
struggle through the book, I had no success in finding the evidence
for Oxford's claim to the Shakespeare title that purports to be
there. It consists almost exclusively of overblown claims for
reflections of Oxford's life in various passages in the plays. It is
difficult to be absolutely certain whether the parents were sheep or
goats. But there is a strong indication. To produce a 1,297 page book
whose stated purpose is to prove De Vere wrote the Shakespeare works,
and yet not have one iota of evidence in the book to support that
claim, is, in my opinion, an absolute tour de force.
I bought the books I found at the Mcintosh Bookstore, dumped them
in the trunk of my car, and took them home with me. I didn't know
where I could store them. For years I have found the people and the
period of the Elizabethan era fascinating. All of the space in my
house was already completely taken up with these books. But I had a
fortuitous idea. There was a bin at the back of the walk-in closet
off the master bedroom that I used for storing old clothes. I cleaned
out the bin and tucked the books away in it. As an after thought I
printed a label in extra large letters for the bin. It would have
delighted the hearts of the covert humorists in the Oxfordian fold.
It is there where I see it whenever I go into the closet: THE LOONEY
For the sake of the poor, deluded sheep in the Oxfordian fold, and
of the people outside the Oxfordian fold who are too naive to know
what is going on, the case for Oxford versus Bacon deserves serious
evaluation. In addition to books on the Baconian and Oxfordian
authorship issue I have ransacked both the Bacon (sirbacon.org) and
Oxfordian websites. (It's been pointed out that the "Shakespeare
Oxford Society" (SOS) have an acronym which seems to be an
unconscious admission that membership of the Society could be
regarded as a cry for help.)
Consequently I have gathered and collated the material necessary for
a comparison of the claims of Oxford and Bacon for the Shakespeare
title. Although asking me what I think about the Oxfordians is
somewhat like asking a lamp-post how it feels about dogs, and
although you cannot expect impartially from me since, as the title of
this article shows, I have already made up mind. Nevertheless, I will
promise you one thing: I will not sweep any of the facts under the
rug as the Stratfordians do to a greater degree, than the Oxfordians
who are guilty of this to a lesser degree. I will drag everything out
into the light-no matter how much it smells.
One prerequisite is a backdrop for the information. Edward De Vere
and Francis Bacon were both brought up in William Cecil's great
mansion on the Strand. As a result a considerable portion of their
lives overlap. It helps to know a little about William Cecil and his
great mansion on the Strand. William Cecil was an exceedingly clever
and devious man. He was born in 1520 and entered St. John's College,
Cambridge at the age of fourteen. While there he became acquainted
with Nicholas Bacon.
Cecil first marriage was to Mary Cheke, the sister of John Cheke
who later became a famous scholar and was another of his close
acquaintances while at Cambridge. Mary died less than a year after
his son Thomas was born in May of 1542. In December of 1545 Cecil
married Mildred Cooke, the eldest daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke of
Gidea Hall, Essex. Sir Anthony was famed for his learning and tutored
his four daughters who were among the most learned women in the
nation. One of them, Anne, became the wife of Sir Nicholas Bacon.
Nicholas and Anne had two sons, Anthony and Francis Bacon. Until
Nicholas Bacon's death in 1579 the families were very close. As far
as Francis Bacon's association with Cecil is concerned, not only was
Cecil his uncle, but William Cecil and Nicholas Bacon association as
friends and close business associates persisted for more than 40
After Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 Cecil became her chief
minister, and also Master of the Court of Wards. This latter post
proved extremely lucrative to him. His enemies in ensuing years
accused him of amassing great wealth by stealing from the royal
wards, encroaching on the realm and the commons, compelling all
suitors to apply to him for justice, and making England in fact,
"Regnum Caecilianum." Certainly it must be allowed that his great
mansion on the strand (not even the largest of the several that he
acquired) was an overt sign of the great wealth he had amassed. Known
variously as Cecil House, or Burghley House, this house was on the
north side of the Strand, occupying a large site westward of what is
now Wellington Street. Cecil had a large garden behind the mansion,
and also had a library in the mansion that was famous all over
At the mansion Cecil ran what amounted to a school for young
noblemen. Since he was Master of Wards some of the royal wards lived
in his house. Even apart from this the aristocracy of the period
often sent their sons to be educated in a great man's household, and
Cecil liked to accept them because it not only added to his prestige,
but also allowed him to get in on the ground floor with the scion of
the Elizabethan ruling class. His house became much sought after as
an exclusive educational establishment. Although the pupils never
numbered more than twenty at one time, they included, at one time or
another, some of the greatest fortunes and bluest blood in England.
Not only Oxford, but also the Earl of Surrey, two Earls of Rutland,
Shakespeare's Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex, Francis Bacon,
and, as a visitor from time to time, Fulke Greville and Sir Philip
Sidney, were part of this group.
Edward De Vere came to the Cecil mansion as a royal ward at age 12
in 1562. Francis Bacon may have come to the Cecil mansion as early as
1565 at age 5, but probably no later than 1567 at age 7. Describing
the funeral of Robert Cecil, Catherine Drinker Bowen, "The Lion and
the Throne" says,
"Somewhere among them walked Sir Francis Bacon, Cecil's
nearest cousin, intimate with him since childhood, reared in the
same household, schooled by the same tutor."
It was a great privilege for him, and no doubt, came about as a
result of Nicholas Bacon's long and close association with Cecil. The
1665 volume, "The Statesmen and Favourites of England since the
Reformation" compiled by David Lloyd, gave an account of Elizabethan
statesmen written by someone closely associated with them. The
description of Bacon says,
"at twelve his industry was above the capacity and his
mind beyond the reach of his Contemporaries."
The comparison would have been to the scion of the nobility in the
school in Cecil's house on the Strand, and gives a direct comparison
of Bacon with De Vere. This also leads to the first point in weighing
the respective evidence between De Vere and Bacon.
1. The Oxfordians say the learning exhibited in the Plays was
clearly beyond that possible for the man from Stratford on Avon, and
could only have reflected the learning of Edward De Vere.
The Oxfordian claim for De Vere's learning says that since de Vere
was taught at Cecil's school in his house on the Strand he would have
been given the best contemporary schooling. There is no doubt, they
say, of de Vere's exceptional learning ability. They cite a letter
from his tutor Lawrence Nowell written to Cecil when de Vere was aged
13. In the letter Nowell says:
"I clearly see that my work for the Earl of Oxford cannot
be much longer required."
The Oxford sheep take this as an allusion to how quickly de Vere
learned. But there is another, more likely explanation. De Vere was a
very abrasive personality. In "The Virgin Queen" Christopher Hibbert
says of Oxford,
"He went to live at Cecil House, where he was soon at
odds with almost the entire household."
So the alternate explanation is he clashed with Nowell, and this
was the reason for Nowell's statement.
The Oxfordians also cite a play written in 1576 by George Chapman
in which one of the characters in eulogizing de Vere has the
He was beside of spirit passing great,
Valiant and learn'd, and liberal as the sun,
Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
Or of the discipline of public weals;
And `twas the Earl of Oxford."
This probably has less to do with de Vere's actual learning than
with a poet looking for a possible patron.The Oxfordians cite the
fact that in 1564 and 1566, Edward received degrees from both
Cambridge University and Oxford University, and that in 1567 he was
sent by Cecil to study law at Gray's Inn. But these were honorary
degrees, and the fact that he spent three years at Gray Inn does
not necessarily mean he learned any law while he was there.
Many legal authorities have been convinced that Shakespeare was an
expert lawyer. They include Lord Penzance, Nathaniel Holmes of the US
Supreme Court, Judge Webb of Dublin, Judge Stotsenburg of Indiana and
others. Because this points so clearly away from William Shakespeare
of Stratford on Avon, the Stratfordian side has found literary
lawyers to argue against Shakespeare's legal expertise. However, in
the early part of the 20th century Sir George Greenwood MP, a London
barrister, presented formidable evidence for Shakespeare's legal
attainments that should have ended the dispute once and for all. In
1908 he summarized the evidence in "The Shakespeare Problem
When J.M. Robertson took issue with him in his "The Baconian
Heresy: A Confutation", Greenwood replied at length in a further
book, "Is There a Shakespeare Problem?" and fired his coup de grace
in 1920 with, "Shakespeare's Law".
The Oxfordians hopped aboard this bandwagon with alacrity, noting
that de Vere spent three years at Gray's Inn. But de Vere's three
years at Gray's Inn are no indication he was learned in the law. De
Vere did not need the law to make a living as did Bacon.Gray's Inn
was used as a finishing school for social contacts for the upper
crust, and many young aristocrats entered Gray's Inn who had no
intention of practicing law, and who did not study law. This was
almost certainly the case with de Vere.
Bacon became an Utter Barrister after only three years in Gray's
Inn. He was admitted to the high table where none were but Readers at
the age of 25, and soon afterward became a Bencher of the Inn. We
hear of Bacon arguing his first case with an "an eclat which," which
caused Cecil to send congratulations and ask for notes of his
pleading to show the Queen, and four days later he argued another
case before a bevy of judges, including the Barons of the Exchequer,
with great success. There are absolutely no such corresponding
records for de Vere.
In the two chapters on "Myriad-Minded Man of the Renaissance" in
his "The Mysterious William Shakespeare" Charlton Ogburn coyly flirts
with the boundaries in examining the learning of Shakespeare. He
considers the "Verbal Resources of Shakespeare", who is generally
acknowledged to have possessed the largest vocabulary of any writer,
and says that,
"Never has such verbal prodigality as Shakespeare's been
What he does not say, although he goes right to the edge,
is that the man who is acknowledged to have possessed those "Verbal
Resources" was Francis Bacon, not de Vere. Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784), who wrote the first English Dictionary, said he could
have written a dictionary from Bacon's works alone, and it is common
knowledge that Francis Bacon had a habit of constantly coining of new
words just as did Shakespeare.
Ogburn shows Shakespeare had a thorough knowledge of the classics,
had read deeply in several languages, and had a deep knowledge of
modern languages and literature. This could have been expected in
part from Cecil's school at his house on the Strand which both de
Vere and Bacon attended. But this also implies a continued scholarly
discipline that is not demonstrated in the case of de Vere. Ogburn
goes on to refer to the two-volume work, "Shakespeare's England: An
Account of the Life & Manners of His Age" published in 1916. This
work had around 20 contributors and covers special aspects of the
Elizabethan Age in thirty chapters. Ogburn says Shakespeare's
prodigious frame of reference comes out in the number of quotations
from his works by the contributors to show how the dramatist had
knowledge of their specialized fields. Ogburn cites numerous
references to demonstrate Shakespeare's extensive and detailed
knowledge of the Law, of Art, of Nature, of War and the Sea, and of
the various specialized fields of the Arts and Sciences. Ogburn
obviously goes beyond the boundaries of the perimeters of de Vere's
Francis Bacon-Shakespeare: The Man Who Knew
The great German, Goethe, said Shakespeare had drawn a sponge over
all human knowledge. The evidence shown by a careful study of the
plays is that the author of the Shakespeare Plays had made a special
study of ALL aspects of the Arts and Sciences. It is curious how
experts in special fields of knowledge constantly claim Shakespeare
as one of their own. This points specifically to Bacon. Francis Bacon
combined such an array of unique intellectual gifts as has never been
found in any other single individual. We are told his memory was a
marvel, and there are many testimonies regarding his power of instant
comprehension. We must add to this the fact that he deliberately set
out to stock his mind with ALL human learning ancient and modern. He
deliberately set out to master ALL knowledge.
There is ample evidence that as a part of this effort he sought
out people who were experts in their particular fields and drew them
out so he could assimilate their knowledge. Furthermore, he was able
to bring to bear his marvelous array of intellectual gifts on this
effort: His uniquely comprehensive knowledge; his marvelous powers of
memory; and his gift for instant comprehension, as well as his
ability to extract the marrow from huge bodies of information. By
virtue of this he was able to acquire the knowledge of an expert in
any given field and even surpass them merely by talking to that
individual. On the other hand, this door was effectively closed to
the haughty premier peer of the realm, de Vere, who considered it
below his dignity to even speak to such people.
Rawley said of Bacon,
"he would draw a man on and allure him to speak upon such
a subject, as wherein he was peculiarly skillful."
And, Francis Osborn, another contemporary, described Bacon as
"a good Proficient, if not a Master in those Arts
entertained for the Subject of every ones discourse."
He goes on to describe this as
"A high perfection, attainable only by use, and treating
with every man in his respective profession, and what he was more
vers'd in. So I have heard him entertain a Country Lord in proper
terms relating to Hawks and Dogs. And at another time out-cant a
London Chirurgeon. Thus he did not only learn himself, but
gratifie such as taught him; who looked upon their Callings as
honoured through his Notice.Now his general Knowledge he had in
all things, husbanded by his wit, and dignif'd by so Majestical a
carriage he was known to own, strook such an awful reverence in
those he question'd, that they durst not conceal the most
intrinsick part of their Mysteries from him."
If Bacon wrote the Shakespeare works this would explain
Shakespeare's expertise in so many fields. Smith and Knight were of
the opinion that Shakespeare was a farmer. Lord Campbell and others
were convinced he was a lawyer (Catherine Drinker Bowen in her huge
biography of the acerbic Edward Coke who was universally recognized
as the very embodiment of the law, noted that Bacon quoted the law
with more accuracy than Coke). Shakespeare had a minute and expert
knowledge of Anatomy. "He was a surgeon", exclaimed Wadd, and Brown.
Another authority swore he was a Chemist. Bucknill said he was a
Physiologist. Other experts, including Freud and Schlegel, believed
he was a Psychologist and a practicing Physician. Kellog said he was
not only abreast of all human knowledge, he was ahead of it, "HE WAS
A PROPHET." (Scholars have noted how prophetic was Bacon's vision of
the future of science). No, wait a minute said Thoms, Shakespeare was
definitely a soldier at some period of his life. Not so, said other
experts, he was not a soldier, he was obviously a Sailor.
Master mariner, W.B. Whall, in 1910, a veteran from the old days
of sail, had made a special study of archaic sea terms. In
"Shakespeare's Sea Terms Explained" he demonstrated that the author
of the plays had an intimate professional knowledge of seamanship,
that words and phrases of an extremely technical nature were
scattered throughout them, and a mistake in their use was never made.
Then Whall dropped a bombshell. Francis Bacon's writings, he
declared, contained just as much faultless sea terminology as
Shakespeare's. In his excellent book, "Who Wrote Shakespeare" John
Michell found it necessary for the sake of impartiality to note that
Bacon was no professional seaman. However, he failed to bring out the
point that Bacon sought out people with special knowledge such as
this and made the effort required to obtain their knowledge. It seems
that Bacon, although not a sailor, had acquired his knowledge of
seamanship in this manner. John Wilson, in the, "Musical Standard"
declared his conviction that Shakespeare was a practical Musician
with an intimate acquaintance with both the theory and practice of
Music. Farren claimed Shakespeare was a Botanist (it has been noted
that in Bacon's essay, "On Gardens", he
named thirty-two of the thirty-five flowers mentioned by
Shakespeare). Bolingbroke was equally convinced Shakespeare was an
Entomologist, while Harting was sure he was an Ornithologist.
According to Fennell he was a Zoologist. Another expert knew he was a
Ethnologist. Nathaniel Holmes had him as an Alchemist and Sorcerer.
One authority said he was a Protestant while another was equally sure
he was a Catholic. They both knew he was an expert on the Bible and
thought he was probably a Churchman. Blades had proof that he was a
All of this points to Francis Bacon. Bacon, as he said in his
letter to Cecil, he took all knowledge for his province. He learned
everything he could from books, and then sought out and picked the
brains of experts in the various trades, and fields of knowledge. In
his Advancement of Learning Bacon said:
"In the enumeration of these private and retired arts, it
may be thought I Seek to make a great muster-roll of sciences;
naming them for shew and Ostentation, and to little other purpose.
But let those which are skilful In them judge whether I bring them
in only for appearance, or whether In that which I speak of them
(though in few marks) there be not some Seed of proficience. And
this must be remembered, that as there be Many of great account in
their countries and provinces, which when They come up to the Seat
of the Estate are but of mean rank and Scarcely regarded; so these
arts being here placed with the principal And supreme sciences,
seem petty things; yet to such as have chosen Them to spend their
studies in them, they seem great matters."
The matter of learning alone almost certainly proves Bacon wrote
the plays. Bacon was unique as regards the possession of the
knowledge required. One of his biographers remarked that, "the
immensity of his genius has been a sole trial for his
Bacon alone was proficient in ALL special areas of knowledge, and
this proficiency in ALL special areas of knowledge is clearly shown
in the plays. The scales are overwhelmingly weighed on the side of
Francis Bacon in this instance.
2. The Shakespeare plays reflect the life and personal
experiences of De Vere.
One of the major claims of the Oxfordians is that the plays
reflect the life and personal experiences of de Vere and that he, and
the people he came in contact with are depicted in the plays. In the
book by the parents of Charlton Ogburn Jr., "This Star of England",
the minutiae of the search for this evidence in the plays is carried
far beyond sane credulity, or what could be expected of sane minds,
unless these two were actually Oxfordian goats spoofing the Oxfordian
fixation. Nevertheless "All's Well That Ends Well" details a story of
Bertram that IS virtually identical with de Vere's early life.
In this play, Bertram, a young lord of ancient lineage, of which
he is excessively proud, had lost his father for whom he entertained
a strong affection, and is brought to court by his mother and left
there as a royal ward to be brought up under royal supervision. After
he grows up he asks for military service and the right to travel, but
is repeatedly refused or put off. He finally goes away without
permission, but before leaving he is married to a young woman with
whom he has 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 to sleep with his wife, are
associated with both his stay abroad and his return home. Since, in
the dark he cannot tell one from another, he is tricked into sleeping
with his wife, Helena, when she takes the place of a woman with whom
he has made a nocturnal assignation.
There is no doubt that this is so like de Vere's history that, if
de Vere was not the author, it was someone who knew him well.
According to Wright, ''History of Essex", de Vere "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." Helena, who admits she is socially inferior to Bertram, is
a small, sweet, loyal and loving wife, exactly as contemporaries
described Anne de Vere (nee Cecil), and, as in the story Anne
produced a son after the liaison with her husband.
The details of the All's Well That Ends Well story were
certainly taken from de Vere's life. However, Bacon grew up in the
Cecil House on the Strand and moved in the same circles. So he could
have equally well used the story. Moreover, if de Vere portrayed
himself in All's Well That Ends Well we would expect him to
depict the character in a more sympathetic manner. Betram does
nothing in the play to win our sympathy or respect. He is
self-centered and unfeeling just as de Vere was. This casts doubt on
the contention that this was de Vere writing about himself.
In Hamlet the Oxfordians believe they have a play in which
the author was definitely portraying himself. If any character in any
Shakespeare play is meant in any way to represent the author,
Hamlet is by a considerable degree the most likely. The
Oxfordians have found remarkable correspondences between several of
the characters in Hamlet and de Vere's family and close
associates. Moreover, they are certain Hamlet is a depiction of de
Vere himself. They say several characters in Hamlet have their
parallels in Oxford's family and close associates. The king who
poisoned Hamlet's father and then married his mother, they claim, is
an exaggerated version of Oxford's stepfather. They recognize William
Cecil in Polonius, the tedious counsellor. And who was Ophelia, they
ask, if not Cecil's'daughter, Anne Cecil? And the advice of Polonius
to his son, Laertes, was certainly paralleled in the advice of Cecil
to his son, Thomas Cecil.
But lets take a closer look at this. The most convincing parallel
is that of Cecil and his son. Bacon was just as close to these events
as de Vere. And there is a more interesting parallel. The Baconians
claim Bacon was the son of Queen Elizabeth by Leicester. Since the
Oxfordians would have Southampton the son of Queen Elizabeth by de
Vere, surely they will allow this hypothesis for the sake of
argument. If this was the case Bacon would have been a prince just as
Hamlet was (and as de Vere was not).
Furthermore, we have the similarity of the names Bacon and Hamlet.
What about the marriage of Hamlet's uncle Claudius with the queen?
Suppose Bacon split Cecil's character into two facets? We have seen
how Cecil was accused by his enemies of making himself the de facto
king, of making England in fact, "Regnum Caecilianum".
And for many years Cecil was as closely allied to Elizabeth as if
it was an actual marriage. So if Claudius also represented Cecil
there would be a close agreement, and the king would have actually
been the uncle of Bacon, or Hamlet, as he was shown to be in the
But what about Claudius killing Hamlet's father by pouring poison
in his ear? There is a very sound basis for the idea that Cecil
obtained his position because Leicester killed his wife Amy in hopes
that he could marry Elizabeth. Cecil engineered the extrication of
Elizabeth from the perilous situation that arose as a result of the
public outcry that followed Amy's death. And because of the public
outcry Leicester (who had actually been the king because he was
secretly married to Elizabeth) "died" as far as his kingship was
concerned. But what about Claudius killing him by pouring poison in
his ear? Cecil was a very crafty man. It is quite possible that he
precipitated Leicester's action by covertly suggesting that if Amy
were dead the way would be open to him to marry the all too willing
Elizabeth (i.e. he poured poison in his ear). This would tie it all
up in a very neat package making a very close connection with Bacon.
And who is to say it did not happen this way. But wait, I hear one of
the Oxfordian sheep bleating, what about Ophelia? There is evidence
that the youthful Francis Bacon loved, and wanted to marry Elizabeth
Cecil the daughter of Thomas Cecil. If Bacon was a prince, the play
would closely parallel his situation. Bacon and Elizabeth Cecil would
have been a perfect parallel with Hamlet and Ophelia. This makes a
much better case than that of the Oxfordians.
Moreover, beyond this we must look at the plays that diverge from
the people and events de Vere was acquainted with and follow those
Bacon was acquainted with. In Twelfth Night Sir Andrew
Aguecheek is obviously Bacon's friend Lancelot Andrewes. Andrewes was
a tall man, pale from many years of constant study, and was noted as
master of 21 languages. Sir Toby in the play says
"He's as tall a man as any's in Illyria" and again says,
"speaks three or four languages word for word without book."
Since Sir Toby Mathew was a close friend of Bacon's we can assume
he was often in company with Lancelot Andrews. So Sir Toby Belch in
the play matches very well with Bacon's friend, Sir Toby Mathew. (The
opposing theory for the Oxies was raised by Eva Turner Clark who
noted that: BerTIE-WillOUGHBY equals TOBY. Therefore, Clark claimed,
Sir Toby in the play must have been Willoughby. It might be apposite
to mention here that Clark was known by the Oxfordians as "E.T.". One
(Perhaps because some of the ideas she came up with would make any
sane person think she was from another planet?). But it must be
admitted that the Oxfordians do have some grounds for the contention
that de Vere was portrayed in the clown in the play.
Macbeth was obviously written after de Vere's death. There
are a number of incidents related to King Duncan of Scotland in the
play that had to do with King James of Scotland and his relation to
the Gunpowder Plot. And a case can be made that The Tempest,
obviously written long after de Vere's death, portrays in the figure
of Prospero the Magus John Dee with whom Bacon was acquainted.
I'm afraid that once again the scale tips in the direction of
Bacon. I could draw this out and examine in detail a number of other
plays, especially those numerous ones written after de Vere's death,
but since a quick death is less painful than a prolonged one I will
be merciful. No, Oxfordian sheep, there is no need to thank me, just
go back to your grazing.
3. Passages in the Plays reflect passages from the letters and
other writings of De Vere
Included among my collection of books from the Ogburn estate is a
very large, 872 page book, titled, "Shakespeare Revealed In Oxford's
Letters" by William Plumer Fowler. In this book Fowler pours through
the Shakespeare plays, citing in mind numbing detail what he feels
are parallels between `passages' in the plays, and 37 letters written
by de Vere. When I say `passages' I use the word loosely. Fowler was
not particular. For him even a single word often sufficed to
constitute a parallel. And those `striking' parallels would lead you
to believe that if there was any striking done it was by some one who
struck him on the head. He cites the following passage from a letter
of de Vere:
"I have received your letters"
And finds a heart warming parallel in the passage in Love's
"We have received your letters"
In one of his letters de Vere said,
"I am content."
And I swear to God Fowler was almost drooling all over himself
because he found not ONE but TWO parallels saying, "I am content" in
In the opening sentence of a letter de Vere states:
"My lord I am sorry to hear how hard my fortune is in
And Fowler waxes absolutely ecstatic, for he has found the phrase,
not once, but THREE times in Shakespeare:
"I am sorry to hear this" (Othello)
"I am sorry to hear this" (Henry VIII)
"Sorry I am to hear what I have heard" (Henry VI)
Folded in pages of the book when I purchased it was a letter from
Fowler's daughter to Ogburn after her father died at the age of 92.
Dear Mr. Ogburn,
I regret to inform you of my father's death. He died peacefully
in his sleep, after only a few days of chest congestion. He was
lucid to the end!
(This e-ver thing is one of the quirks of the Oxfordians that
seems designed specifically to cause any impartial third party to
doubt their sanity. At any occurrence of "ever" in the plays they see
a sign positive that de Vere was signing his name. dE VERe, get it?
No. How about: d EVER e? Or maybe we can say Edward de Vere and then
E. de Vere, and then E Vere, and then E ver? How about that? Does
that do it for you? No? Don't let it bother you. E-VERyone I know has
trouble with it.)
Now far be it from me to say any ill of the dead, but I have a
problem conceiving that Fowler was e-ver `lucid' at anytime.
Admittedly, Fowler was not the sharpest knife in their drawer, but
his is not the only case where the Oxfordians have trouble discerning
how to weigh parallels between de Vere's writings and those of
Shakespeare. In the 1975 edition of Looney's (love that name)
`Shakespeare' Identified there is an essay by Eva Turner Clark (one
of the Oxie's shining stars) titled, "Lord Oxford's Letters Echoed in
Shakespeare's Plays. Surely here at last we will get some real
parallels between the plays and de Vere's letters. Right? Not!!!
Eva cites a letter written in 1572 by de Vere in which he
"I would to God your Lordship would let me understand
some of your news"
And she finds the REMARKABLE parallel in Shakespeare:
"I have heard strange news"
De Vere again:
"I speak because I am not ignorant"
"I speak not out of weak surmises"
"I am.a follower of yours now in all fortunes"
"To his honours and his valient parts Did I my soul and
Embarrassment for the Oxfordians prevents me from quoting any
more.Now let's look at a few of Bacon's expressions:
"Some noises help sleep, as.soft singing. The cause is,
for that they move In the spirits a gentle attention."
"I am never merry when I hear sweet music,
The reason is, your spirits are attentive."
"The particular remedies which learning doth minister to
all the diseases of the mind"
"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased"
"Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others"
"To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man"
"It is nothing else but words, which rather sound than
"`Tis a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
"This being but a leaf or two, I pray your pardon if I
send it for you recreation,
Considering that love must creep where it cannot go"
"Ay, gentle Thurio; for you know that love
Must creep in service where it cannot go."
"He that turneth the humors back and maketh the wound
Ingendereth malign ulcers and pernicious imposthumations."
"This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without
Why the man dies."
A special trait of Bacon's mind was that he constantly thought in
metaphors, and constantly perceived analogies that evoked superb
metaphors and similes he expressed effortlessly even in the most
casual letters. For example in a letter of Fulke Greville about his
frustration in his suit for Solicitor-General he said:
"For to be, as I have told you, like a child following a
bird, which when he is nearest flieth away and lighteth a little
before, and then the child after it again, and so on ad infinitum,
I am weary of it."
This is exactly the trait found in the mind of Shakespeare, where
frequently the simile is almost identical. For example, Valeria in
"I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he
caught it he let it go again, and after it again, and over and
over he comes, and up again, catch'd it again."
"In the third place, I set down reputation, because of
the peremptory tides and currents it hath; which, if they be not
taken in their due time, are seldom recovered."
Shakespeare (Julius Caesar):
"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures."
"The breath of flowers is far sweeter in the (where it
comes and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand."
Shakespeare (Twelfth Night):
"That strain again;-it had a dying fall'
Oh, it came o'er my soul like the sweet south,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor."
"As there are certain hollow blasts of wind and secret
swelling of seas before a tempest, so are there in states."
Shakespeare (Richard III):
"Before the days of change, still is it so;
By a divine instinct, men's minds mistrust
Ensuing danger; as, by proof, we see
The waters swell before a boisterous storm."
The letters and writings of Bacon are filled with such instances.
His mind is reflected everywhere in the Shakespeare plays. The scale
in this instant is heavily weighed in Bacon's favor.
4. De Vere was well known to the Earl of Southampton, the
person to whom "Shakespeare" dedicated Venus and Adonis and
The Rape of Lucrece in 1593/94 respectively. These were the
first works to be published under the name "Shake-speare" and for the
next five years the records show the name to have been associated
exclusively with these two works.
Sorry guys, the evidence indicates that at this particular time De
Vere was dashing all over Europe trying to maintain a head start on
his fart. Another point is the deference shown in the dedication to
Southampton. It must be remembered that the de Vere's were the oldest
and most illustrious nobility in the realm.Gervase Markham declared
"And what is the most memorablest and glorious Sun which
ever gave Light or shine to Nobility? Our Veres, from the first
hour of Caesar to This present day of King James (which is above a
thousand seven hundred Years ago) never let their feet slip from
the path of nobility, never knew A true eclipse of glory, never
found declination from virtue, never forsook Their country being
wounded, or their lawful King distressed, never attainted, Never
blemished, but in the purity of their garments.lived, governed,
and Died, leaving the memory thereof on their monuments, and in
the people's Hearts; and the imitation to all the Princes of the
World, that either would Be accounted good men or would have good
men to speak good things Of their actions."
The founder of the de Vere family was Aubrey de Vere who came to
England in 1066 with William the Conqueror, and was rewarded for his
support with extensive estates in Essex, Suffolk, Cambridge,
Huntingdonshire and Middlesex. The continuance of his family in the
male line and its possession of the earldom for more than five and a
half centuries made its name a household word. During these centuries
the vast estates of the family, as well as its titles and dignities,
were further augmented by marriage or royal favour. Edward de Vere's
pride in his ancient ancestry, and his rank as premier earl of the
realm, is commented on by more than one writer. Edward De Vere was
extremely vain about his illustrious ancestry and his rank as premier
earl of the realm. He never showed deference to anyone. Yet the
dedication to Henry Wriotheseley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, in April
18, 1593, when Venus and Adonis was published was as
"To the Right Honorable Henrie Wriotheseley, Earle of
and Baron of Titchfield. Right Honorable,
I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolisht lines
to your Lordship, nor how the worlde will censure me for choosing
so strong a propp to support so weak a burthen, onely, if your
Honour seeme but pleased, I account myselfe highly praised, and
vowe to take advantage of all idele houres, till I have honoured
you with some graver labour.
But, if the first heire of my invention prove deformed, I shall
be sorie it had so noble a god-father, and never after eare so
for feare it yeeld me still so bad a harvest. I leave it
to your Honourable survey, and your Honor to your heart's
which I wish may always answere your owne wish, and the
Your Honor's in all dutie."
It is an absolute impossibility that this could have been written
by de Vere. De Vere was 17th in line of succession to his earldom. In
contrast, Southampton only 3rd in succession was very much a "Johnny
come lately" and greatly subordinate to de Vere. On the other hand
Bacon not one of the peers, was a member of the Essex circle at the
time this was written, and Essex and Southampton were at this time
However, just to leave no stone unturned I will touch on one
additional point here. Some Oxfordians claim that Southampton was de
Vere's son by Queen Elizabeth. On the surface this seems an inane,
not to mention an insane idea, even for the Oxfordians. But a letter
written in October 1572 by the poet Edward Dyer to Christopher Hatton
(quoted by Paul Johnson in "Elizabeth I") leaves one wondering if
there were any extremes Elizabeth was not capable of. At the time
Hatton was jealous of the favor the Queen was showing the young Earl
of Oxford, and Dyer had the following to say in his letter:
For though in the beginning when her Majesty sought you
Good manner) she did bear with rugged dealing of yours, until
Had what she fancied, yet now, after satiety and fullness, it
Rather hurt than help you. [Instead Hatton should] never
Deeply to condemn her frailities, but rather joyfully to
Such thing as should be in her, as though they were in her indeed.
Just for the sake of argument, lets assume Southampton was the son
of Oxford. In that case could we suppose him writing the above
dedication to his son? The answer is still no. He never showed
deference to anyone else. What reason is there to think he would have
shown such deference to a bastard son? Moreover, independent
contemporary testimony says Francis Bacon wrote Venus and
Adonis and Lucrece.
According to John Marston the first and second printed works
attributed to William Shakespeare (Venus and Adonis, and
The Rape of Lucrecre) were written by Francis Bacon.
This fact is made quite definite by contemporary evidence. This
evidence is based on an allusion by Marston to a lawyer who wrote
these works and who he identifies by the phrase,"Mediocria Firma",
the motto on Bacon's coat of arms. The allusion refers back to a
satire of Joseph Hall's. In 1597 Joseph Hall in his Satires,
Book II, p.25, had the following passage:
For shame write better Labeo, or write none
Or better write, or Labeo write alone.
Nay, call the Cynic but a wittie fool,
Thence to obscure his handsome drinking bole;
Because the thirstie swain with hollow hand
Conveyed the streame to weet his drie weasand.
Write they that can, tho they that cannot do;
But who knows that, but they that do not know.
It is known that Labeo was a Roman lawyer so the writer being
referred to is a lawyer.
Yet in this particular passage the meaning is not clear and editors
habe been unable to
identify Labeo and the Cynic. If we anticipate for a moment by
allowing what Marston later avers, that Francis Bacon was the Author
of Venus and Adonis, the whole passage becomes clear. Hall may
easily have been slightly shocked, or pretended to be, at the theme
of the poem, even though it is handled with delicacy and not in a
lascivious manner; and so he took the opportunity of reproving the
author for writing in such a strain. He also rebukes him for writing
in conjunction with someone else, but leaves us to conjecture what is
the nature of the partnership with the other unnamed person. Yet in
the Fourth Book, Satire I, the evidence become much
Labeo is whip't and laughs me in the face
Why? for I smite and hide the galled place,
Gird but the Cynicks Helmet on his head
Cares he for Talus or his flayle of lead?
Long as the craftie Cuttle lieth sure
In the black cloud of his thick vomiture
Who list complaine of wronged faith or fame
When he may shift it on to another name?
On the Third line is another reference to the Cynic, i.e., the
author, and from this it is evident that Hall is speaking of the
"Honourable Order of the Knights of the Helmet", described in those
famous Christmas revels at Gray's Inn during the holiday season of
1594/1595 which are recorded in a publication called Gesta
Grayorum, and which Bacon was in charge of producing, thus
pointing to him as the author of Venus and Adonis; while the
concluding lines once more emphasize the fact that he was writing
under a pen-name. At the same time the reference to Talus or his
flayle of lead has to do with the Faerie Queen and it seems
the implication is that he was the author if this work as well.
Still another passage may be quoted where Hall satirizes Labeo,
though here in a more good-natured manner. It is from Book VI, Satire
I. The passage begins thus:
Tho Labeo reaches right; (who can deny)
The true straynes of Heroicke Poesie,
For he can tell how fury reft his sense
And Phoebus fild him with intelligence,
and shortly after comes the line:
While bit But OHs each stanze can begin,
a pointed allusion to Lucrece, where it is noticeable how
many stanzas commence with "But", or "Oh". Another marked feature of
both Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece is the use of
hyphenated words as epithets; and this did not escape Hall's
satirical comment, since he writes:
In Epithets to join two words as one,
Forsooth for Adjectives cannot stand alone.
So it is probable Hall recognized Bacon as the author of
Lucrece and Venus and Adonis, and alluded to him under
the names of Labeo and the Cynick. This identification although
probable is still tentative, however, the "Pigmalion's Image" of John
Marston published in 1598 has allusions which make a definite
identification possible. Marston says:
So Labeo did complaine his loue was stone,
Obdurate, flinty, so relentless none;
Yet Lynceus knows, that in the end of this
He wrought as strange a metamorphosis.
Ends not my poem thus surprising ill?
Come, come, Augustus, crowne my laureat quill.
The first two line of this passage are an obvious allusion to
lines 200, and 201 of Venus and Adonis, since Marston compares
the metamorphosis of Pygmalion, as given in his own work, to that of
Adonis described in Venus and Adonis. In Satire I is another
covert allusion to an author who 'presumst as if thou wert unseene',
and in Satire 4, Marston defends various authors whom Hall had
attacked, and without actually naming Labeo both refers to Labeo and
identifies him in the following line:
"What, not medioca firma from thy spite!"
i.e., has not even medioca firma escaped thy spite! Since these
two latin words are the motto on Bacon's coat of arms and Bacon was a
lawyer there can be no reasonable doubt that Marston was referring to
From the evidence then, it is probable that Hall believed Bacon
was the author of Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, and possibly
The Faerie Queen.. It is definite that Marston believed Bacon
was the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare.
What does this mean? The naysayers admit that it was quite likely
both Hall and Marston believed Bacon to be the secret author of
Venus and Adonis, and thus also of the Rape of Lucrece.
But that does not mean they were right, they say. However, they have
omitted a very important point. Of all the close knit fraternity of
writers of the English Renaissance John Marston was probably in the
best position to know whether William Shakespeare actually authored
the works attributed to him. He was closely connected with
Shakespeare's cousin, Thomas Greene, of Staple's Inn who in turn was
closely connected with William Shakespeare of Stratford on Avon.
Greene rented the rooms from Shakespeare in New Place in 1609 and
named his children for the Shakespeares, Anne in 1603/4 and William
in 1607/8. Greene had stood surety for Marston's entry in Middle
Temple in 1594, and Marston for his in 1595.
But the cup is not full. In 1985 a magnificent specimen of a
contemporary painting illustrating a scene from Venus and
Adonis was discovered. The location was particularly interesting.
It was located at the fourteenth-century White Hart Hotel on Holywell
Hill, the nearest inn to Bacon's mansion at Gorhambury (two miles
away) at the time he lived in Gorhambury.
The Venus and Adonis, Southampton thing is a slam-dunk in
Bacon's favor. I can only think the idea that de Vere wrote Venus
and Adonis and Lucrece was originated by one of the
Oxfordian goats so they could stand back and laugh at the sheep.
5. The author of the plays was a concealed poet, and
this poet was de Vere.
The only indication that de Vere might have been a concealed poet
is in the following passages from The Arte of English Poesie
(1589) published anonymously, but later attributed by rumor to George
"And in her maiesties time that now is are sprong up an
other crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her
Maiesties own servaunts, who have written excellently well as it
would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke
with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman,
Edward Earle of Oxford. Thomas Lord Buckhurst, when he was young,
Henry Lord Paget, Sir Phillip Sidney, Sir Walter Rawleigh, Master
Edward Dyer, Maister Fulke Greville, Gascon, Britton, Turberville,
and many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for
envie, but to avoyde tediousness ...."
However, nine years later Francis Meres had a passage in his
Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury (598). Meres extolled
Shakespeare as being the best for his poems, and plays, naming twelve
plays, as well as Venus and Adonis, the Rape of
Lucrece, and the Sonnets.
Then he had the following passage that included de Vere and
Shakespeare separately, indicating that although de Vere was writing
comedies he was not concealing his authorship of the comedies:
The best for Comedy amongst us be, Edward Earle of
Oxforde, Doctor Gager of Oxforde, Maister Rowley once a rare
Scholler of learned Pembrooke Hall in Cambridge, Maister Edwardes
one of her Maiesties Chappell, Eloquent and wittie John Lilly,
Lodge, Gascoyne, Greene, Shakespeare, Thomas Nash, Thomas Heywood,
Anthony Mundye our best plotter, Chapman, Porter, Wilson, Hathway,
and Henry Chettle.
Clearly Meres did not believe de Vere wrote the Shakespeare works.
Furthermore, if people knew de Vere was writing plays why did de Vere
need Shakespeare as a mask? Also, in "The Oxford Companion to
Shakespeare" edited by Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells. they make
the following point on the Oxfordian theory,
"Looney offered no explanation as to why or how de Vere
should have published mediocre work under his own name, and
masterpieces under Shakespeare's."
Apart from the unsubstantiated claims of the Oxfordians there is
absolutely no evidence to support the contention that de Vere was a
concealed poet. De Vere seems to have had no compunctions in signing
his name to his poetic works. This signature remains there in the
collections containing his works. In addition, the contemporary
references to his plays, contradicts the claims that he concealed his
name when writing his plays.
For Bacon, on the other hand, there is ample evidence that he was
a concealed poet. He wrote the poet, John Davies, asking him to bring
his name to the favorable attention of King James, and finished the
letter clearly referring to himself by saying,
"So desiring you to be good to all concealed poets."
And there is the evidence already cited that Hall and Marston
believe he had written Venus and Adonis and Lucrece.
Plus there was an ode by John Davies "To the royall, ingenious, and
all-learned knight, Sir Francis Bacon" In which is addressed as a
poet. A work by George Withers, "The Great Assises Holden in
Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours" listed "Lord Verulan",
Francis Bacon as Chancellor of Parnassus, implying that he Was
Apollo's chosen leader in the realm of poetry. And the book of
eulogies published right after Bacon's death, Manes
Verulamiani, in which 32 friends who were writers and poets such
as Ben Jonson, Thomas Randolf, Robert Ashley, John Haviland George
Herbert, William Rawley, William Boswell and others had numerous
tributes that implied he was a supreme poet:
"Day -Star Of the Muses",
"The Leader of Apollo's Choir,"
"The Tenth Muse and the glory of the Choir,"
Leader of the Choir of the Muses and of Phoebus,"
" Joves brain like Minerva,"
"Let Apollo shed tears plentiful as the water which even the
Castalian stream contains"
" Pallas too, now arrayed in a new robe, paces forth,"
"He taught the Pegasean arts to grow, as grew the the spear of
And of these eulogies, one in particular, the IVth is very
interesting. This eulogy by "RP" states that:
"Philosophy entangled in the subtleties of Schoolmen seek
Bacon as a deliverer, with such winged hand as Orpheus lightly
touched the lyre's strings, the Styx before scarce ruffled now at
last bounding, with like hand stroked Philosophy raised high her
crest; nor did he with workmanship of fussy meddlers patch, but he
renovated her walking lowly in the shoes of Comedy."
The "walking lowly in the shoes of Comedy" in the eulogy implies
that Bacon wrote comedies. But the additional idea that he renovated
philosophy by doing this sounds very much like the theory of Walker
that the comedies were actually models of Bacon's Discovery Device,
fashioned to contrast ancient and future knowledge, and show that in
this philosophical arena he had something better to offer.
Lastly, it is to be noted that Archbishop Thomas Tenison in his
"Baconiana" published in 1679 clearly says that it was the practice
of Bacon to conceal himself when he published Certain works:
"And those who have true skill in the Works of Lord
Verulam, like great Masters in painting, can tell by the design,
the strength, the way of coloring, whether he was the author of
this or the other piece,though his name be not to it."
So the evidence demonstrates that between de Vere and Bacon as a
concealed poet the scales are tilted heavily in Bacon's favor.
6. De Vere's Geneva Bible has hundreds of underlined passages
which appeared in the plays.
The Oxfordians have their Biblical fish story, but it has nothing
to do with Jonah and the whale. In the balmy days of 1920s while
brainless flappers were gyrating frenetically to the Charleston, and
equally brainless votaries were beginning to gyrate to an idea begun
by a rather devious Gateshead Schoolmaster, Millionaire Henry Clay
Folger purchased a batch of books. The books were later stored in the
vaults at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. Included
among the books was a hand-annotated 1570 Geneva Bible, some believe
was originally owned by Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of
Oxford. More than a thousand verses in this bible were
In spring of 1992 Roger Stritmatter sent a letter to the
Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter, in which he stated "around a
dozen" of these underlined passages had been used in various
Shakespeare plays. It was decided this discovery would be presented
in the summer 1992 filming of the Bible for the GTE authorship
teleconference. With the pressure on, by the time of the filming
Stritmatter had the number up to "thirty or more."
Evidently someone patted him on the head and told him he had been
a good boy, because he spent the next five years digging in the
Oxford Bible/Shakespeare salt mines searching desperately for
parallels. At the end of that time he claimed he had over a hundred.
However, there was a curious disclaimer in this claim. The parallels
were cited as demonstrating,
"a definite, probable, or possible influence in the
implicit in the cautious language was the implication that someone
was covering their ass in case they got caught with their pants down.
And the increase of the original number of parallels from "around a
dozen" to "over a hundred" had all the earmarks of a fish story that
got bigger every time it was retold. And this fish story, if
downsized to its original catch of the day proportion of "around a
dozen", would shrink from whale to minnow size.
This was evidently the spark of truth the scholars found in all
the smoke of claim when they investigated Stritmatter's story. Both
the Smithsonian Magazine and The Shakespeare Newsletter
in 1995 went on record stating that the Oxford Bible controversy had
"proved a false alarm".
An additional feature of the bible was the presence of cropped
annotations. Many of the notes, written in the Bible's margins, had
been cropped by a binder's knife. It was this circumstance which led
Bruce Smith, in a Folger pamphlet, to the conclusion that the Bible
had been annotated before Oxford acquired it. Others who examined the
book agreed with his conclusion that it was likely that if it had
belonged to de Vere, it had been already used when he bought it and
the annotations and underlined passages had already been in it. They
suggested the Oxfordians hire a handwriting expert to determine if
the writing in the bible was really that of de Vere's. The Oxfordians
bristled at this suggestion. Handwriting analysis, they said, was a
complicated field strewn with minefields, sometimes planted by
Stratfordian pundits. The translation into non-Oxie language is as
follows: suppose the handwriting expert determined the writing was
not that of de Vere, we would be up fart creek without a paddle. And
this is where the Oxie's biblical "fish story" remains at this time.
Instead of fleeing abroad, and wandering seven years to live down the
stench, they still proudly hold the Oxford Bible banner aloft as
their own valued proof of de Vere's authorship of the plays.
7. The Oxfordians claim there is acrostic type evidence in the
sonnets and and plays where De Vere plays on his name, i.e. "every
line doth almost tell my name" (e-ver)
Have you ever (make that e-ver) seen a dog who someone has thrown
a fake bone, with its tail wagging to beat the band, as happy as if
it had good sense? Wouldn't it be bizarre if the same thing happened
to a sheep? Well something very similar does happen to the Oxfordian
sheep when they come across the word "ever" in the Shakespeare plays.
They take this as proof positive not only that de Vere wrote the
plays, but that he is telling them he wrote the plays. It must be
agreed that this phenomenon of the Oxfordian's is very bizarre. Who
can say what causes it? Only a fool would say why, a wise man
wouldn't even try. The Oxfordians cite the following:
The dedication of the sonnets has the lines:
Shakespeare Sonnet 76 had the following three lines:
Why write I all still one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Plus there was an oddly phrased preface to the 1609 edition of
Troilus and Cressida:
"A neuer writer, to an euer reader. Newes."
The Oxfordians have made a cottage industry out of these few
fragments. For those who confess mystification in the face of this
irrefutable proof, the Oxfordians submit as evidence the following
verse de Vere's:
Oh heavens! Who was the first that bred in me this
Who was the first that gave the wound whose fear I wear for
What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm usurps thy golden
What wight first caught this heart and can from Bondage it
One must admit this makes very much of very little. So, how does
the corresponding Baconian evidence stacks up? The most interesting
evidence along these lines is on the Baconian site at
http://www.sirbacon.org/Matherpage.htm where the essays of Mather
Walker are located. Although Walker is given to flights of fancy, and
his critical faculty is so loosely secured to the back of his
Baconian vehicle that one fears it may become loose and drop off
altogether at any time, he has assembled some quite compelling
evidence for Bacon's authorship of the plays. Walker notes that at
the beginning of the plays in the First Folio, i.e., at the
beginning of The Tempest since it is the first play in The
First Folio the latin word FUMAT is spelled out in the
T Though ever drop of water fweare againft it,
A And gape at widft to glut him.
M Mercy on vs.
V We flit, we flit, Farewell my wife, and children
F Farewell brother: we fplit, we fplit, we fplit.
And that this is immediately followed by the message HE IS HOG
Gon. I haue great comfort from this fellow:
HE he hath no drowning marke vpon him, his
IS is perfect Gallowes: ftand faft good Fate to his
G ging, make the rope of his deftiny our cable, for
O owne doth little aduantage: If he be not borne to
HANG'D hang'd, our caf, is miferable.
According to Walker HE IS HOG HANGED clearly alludes to the story
Francis Bacon told in his APOPHTHEGMS about Sir Nicholas
"Sir Nicholas Bacon being appointed a judge for the
northern circuit, and having brought his trials that came before
him to such a pass, as the passing of sentence on malefactors, he
was by one of the malefactors mightily importuned for to save his
life; which, when nothing that he had said did avail, he at length
desired his mercy on account of kindred.`Prithee,' said my lord
judge, `how came that in?' `Why, if it please you, my lord, your
name is Bacon, and mine is Hog, and in all ages Hog and Bacon have
been so near kindred, that they are not to be separated.' `Ay,
but,' replied judge Bacon, `you and I cannot be kindred, except
you be hanged; for Hog is not Bacon until it be well hanged."
This is a hint, Walker says, a subtle allusion to Francis Bacon,
IT SMOKES. And he notes the message INIATTO a little further in the
text, i.e., IT FLAMES:
I I boarded the Kings fhip: now on the Beake,
N Now in the Wafte, the Decke, in euery Cabyn,
I I flam'd amazement, fometime I'ld diuide
A And burne in many places; on the Top-maft,
T The Yards and Bore-fpritt, would I flame
T Then meete,and ioyne, Ioues Lightning, the
O Of fulphurous roaring, the moft mighty Neptune.
And positioned immediately after this in the text going down the
page is the message:
SIT THE DIAL AT NBW, F BACON, TOBEY:
T Then Prospero,Mafter of a full poore cell,
A And thy no greater Father.
Mira. More to know
D Did neuer medle with my thoughts.
I I fhould informe thee farther:Lend thy hand
A And plucke my Magick garment from me: So,
L Lye there my Art:wipe thou thine eyes,haue
THE The direfull fpectacle of the wracke which
T The very vertue of compaffion in thee:
I I haue with fuch prouifion in mine Art
S So fafely ordered,that there is no foule
N No not fo much perdition as an hayre
B Betid to any creature in the veffell
W Which thou heardft cry, which thou faw'ft
F For thou muft now know farther. [downe,
Mira. You haue often
B Begun to tell me what I am, but ftopt
A And left me to a booteleffe Inquifition,
CON Concluding, ftay:not yet.
ProS. The howr's now come
T The very minute byds thee ope thine eare,
OBEY Obey,and be attentiue. Canft thou remember
Walker notes that Tobey or Tobie Matthew was Bacon's closest
friend. Matthew was so close to Bacon, he says, that Bacon called him
"another myself" and adds, certainly anyone familiar with the
spelling of the day would not be put off by the spelling of Tobey
instead of Tobie. He goes on to note that the first letters of the
lines in the passage in the second column on page two, directly to
the right of the F Bacon, Tobey passage, spell out TWO ALIKE:
T To clofenes, and the bettering of my mind
W with that, which but by being fo retir'd
O Ore-priz'd all popular ratetin my falfe brother
A Awak'd an euill nature,and my truft
Like Like a good parent, did beget of him
He calculates the odds against the message being the result of
accident and arrives at a figure of
181,606,990,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1 for the probability against
the accidental appearance of the message. According to Walker the
message definitely and unequivocally establishes the authorship of
The Tempest, once and for all. But his explanation of the
meaning of the message is even more bizarre than the message itself.
He cites passages in Bacon's writings where Bacon states he has
invented a discovery device:
"In olden days, when men directed their course at sea by
observation of the stars, they merely skirted the shores of the
old continent or ventured to traverse small landlocked seas. They
had to await the discovery of a more reliable guide, the needle,
before they crossed the ocean and opened up the regions of the New
World. Similarly, men's discoveries in the arts and sciences up
till now are Such as could be made by intuition, experience,
observation, thought; they Concerned only things accessible to the
senses. But, before men can voyage To remote and hidden regions of
nature, they must first be provided with Some better use and
management of the human mind. Such a discovery Would, without a
doubt, be the noblest, the truly masculine birth of time."
"If any one call on me for works, and that presently; I tell
him frankly, without any imposture at all, that for me-a man not
old, of weak health, my hands full of civil business, entering
without guide or light upon an argument of all others the most
obscure-I hold it enough to have constructed the machine, though I
may not succeed in setting it to work."
And claims that Francis Bacon invented a discovery device which
guided the human mind to the discovery of new arts and sciences just
as a compass guides ships at sea. And furthermore that this discovery
device was an Intellectual Compass since Bacon made a direct
comparison of discovery on the Intellectual Globe with discovery on
the material globe:
"It ought not to go for nothing that through the long
voyages and travels which are the mark of our age many things in
nature have been revealed which might throw new light on natural
philosophy. Nay, it would be a disgrace for mankind if the expanse
of the material globe, the lands, the seas, the stars, was opened
up and brought to light, while, in contrast with this enormous
expansion, the bounds of the Intellectual Globe should be
restricted to what was known to the ancients."
He says Bacon indicated the basis behind his design in the plays
when he said, in the Novum Organum:
"I am building in the human understanding a true model of
And explained that the Old World of the past and the New World of
the future reflected a major feature of the world of Bacon's time:
the Old World around the Mediterranean, and the New World (America),
that had been discovered far west of the Pillars of Hercules.
Hence his Intellectual Globe followed the design of the material
globe and had two faces, a face looking toward the Old World and a
face looking toward the New World. And this, he said, was what was
meant by Bacon's passage in his Masculine Birth of Time:
"Nevertheless it is important to understand how the
present is like a seer with two faces, one looking toward the
future, and the other toward the past. Accordingly I have decided
to prepare for your instruction tables of both ages, containing
not only the past course and progress of science, but also
anticipations of things to come. The nature of these tables you
could not conjecture before you see them. A genuine anticipation
of them is beyond your scope, nor would you be aware of the lack
of it unless it was put into your hands."
In the Masculine Birth of Time Bacon refers to "tables",
and according to Walker, Bacon called the models of his discovery
device "Tabulae Inveniendi", i.e., "Tables of Discovery", and these
models were actually the Shakespeare plays. In his preface to the
Instauration, Bacon described these "Tabulae Inveniendi" as
"...the first is to set forth examples of inquiry and
invention according to my method, exhibited by anticipation in
some particular subjects; choosing such subjects as are at once
the most noble in themselves among these under inquiry, and most
different one from another; that there may be an example in every
kind. I do not speak of those examples which are joined to the
several precepts and rules by way of illustration (for of these I
have given plenty in the second part of the work); but I mean
actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind
and the whole fabric and order of invention from the beginning to
the end, in certain subjects, and those various and remarkable,
should be set as it were before the eyes. For I remember that in
the mathematics it is easy to follow the demonstration when you
have a machine beside you; whereas without that help all appears
involved and more subtle than it really is. To examples of this
kind,- being in fact nothing more than an application of the
second part in detail and at large,- the fourth part of the work
And he later referred to them in the following curious terms:
"But when these Tabulae Inveniendi have been put forth
and seen, he does not doubt that the more timid wits will shrink
almost in despair from imitating them with productions with other
materials or on other subjects; and they will take so much delight
in the specimen given that they will miss the precepts in it.
Still, many will be led to inquire into the real meaning and
highest use of these writings, and to find the key to their
interpretation, and thus more ardently desire, in some degree at
least, to acquire the new aspect of nature which such a key will
In his, "Masculine Birth of Time" he described them as constructed
so that each looked both to the past and to the future, i.e. with a
Janus design. What was the Janus Design? Simply this: Each play has
two faces. One face looks toward the past, the other toward the
future. One face looks at the course and progress of the ancients in
some particular aspect of knowledge. The other, looking toward the
future contrasts Bacon's method with theirs and shows that his is
better by using his discovery device to inquire into the form of a
related aspect of knowledge. That is, they were Janus faced, and in
the First Folio, the large ornamental "W" in William
Shakespeare's name in the list of the principal actors is drawn so it
incorporates a Janus face in its design. Each play deals with some
particular notable aspect of ancient knowledge and by contrasting
this with the operation of Bacon's discovery device in some related
aspect of knowledge, shows that Bacon had something better to offer.
Walker said this was what Bacon referred to in his, "Masculine Birth
Walker has essays covering 15 of the plays to demonstrate that
they were constructed in this fashion. He says since this design is
found throughout the First Folio it proves Bacon not only wrote
The Tempest, but wrote all of the Shakespeare plays as well.
And, he says, the convention of Bacon's models operated through an
analogue model of the great world, which Bacon called the
"Intellectual Globe", constructing his discovery device in such a
manner that it fulfilled the function of an "intellectual compass"
which guided the ship of discovery on his "Intellectual Globe." The
Discovery device was constructed by Bacon so it enabled the user to
select any particular in nature and ascend all the way up the pyramid
of nature to the "form" of that particular. According to Bacon
particulars in nature were composed of certain schematism of matter,
and these in turn were composed certain simple motions so that at
last the seeker could arrive at the "form" that was the true
difference that distinguished the particular from every other
particular in nature. And Bacon described certain features of his
For example (he says) Bacon said the Fourth (missing part) of his
Instauration would deal with his Tables of Discovery, because
in his Novum Organum, referring to these tables, Bacon said,
"the subject partly of the second, but more of the fourth part of my
Instauration." Bacon described four tables:
1. The Table of Presence
2. The Table of Absence in Proximity
3. The table of Variance or Degrees
4. The table of Exclusion
The message in The Tempest implied they would be utilized
in connection with a "dial", and this dial will be a compass dial
with 32 divisions, or directions.
Obviously the division of matter in the plays will be correlated
in some fashion with this dial, and the user would need to know with
what direction the dial began, and how the correlation was made with
the NBW in the message.
These are both easy to determine, Walker says, since we are told
where NBW is, and the NBW reading is downward, indicating we should
seek some division of the matter in the play beginning from the
beginning of the play. The AT in the message "SIT THE DIAL AT NBW"
was in the 32nd speech from the beginning of the play, and if we
begin at North (the logical beginning point for a compass dial), the
32nd direction around the compass dial is NBW.
What we are looking, he says, is the beginning and termination of
each table, and the termination of all four tables because at that
point the analysis and induction process will begin again. The tables
having been completed the process of the "First Vintage" as Bacon
called it, would then begin. The simplest arrangement would be to
have each table cover exactly 32 speeches. This would allow for all
the variations in the dial of perogative natures, and would make it
easy to follow the beginning and termination of each table. If this
were so NBW would naturally indicate the last speech in the first
table, and we should expect to have some indication of the end of all
four of the tables. That is, the tables would proceed through 32 x 4,
or 128 divisions, and following the 128th speech the process would
begin again with the "First Vintage".
According to Walker, if the play is examined carefully, one sees
this is exactly what Bacon has done. The 129th speech is as
S Some God O' the island, sitting on a bank,
V VVeeping againe the King my Fathers wracke,
T This Musick crept by me upon the waters,
A Allaying both their fury, and my passion
V VVith it's sweet ayre: thence I have follow'd it
O Or it hath drawn me rather; but 'tis gone.
N No, it begins againe.
In Elizabethan times W's were often composed of two V's, and U's
and V's were interchangeable. The message is NOVATUS (latin: it
begins again) and is also repeated in the text of the speech. So
Bacon gave clear verification for the arrangement of the tables, and
there is clear evidence in The Tempest especially, but in the
other plays as well, of the presence of the design and of the
In this instance again, the evidence is overwhelmingly in Bacon
8. There is contemporary testimony De Vere wrote the best plays
and was connected with the theatre, and this is evidence he concealed
his authorship under the name of Shakespeare.
Francis Meres in Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury in 1598,
after extolling Shakespeare as being the best for his poems, and
plays, and naming twelve plays, as well as Venus and Adonis,
the Rape of Lucre, and the Sonnets had the following
passage that includes de Vere:
The best for Comedy amongst us be, Edward Earle of
Oxforde, Doctor Gager of Oxforde, Maister Rowley once a rare
Scholler of learned Pembrooke Hall in Cambridge, Maister Edwardes
one of her Maiesties Chappell, Eloquent and wittie John Lilly,
Lodge, Gascoyne, Greene, Shakespeare, Thomas Nash, Thomas Heywood,
Anthony Mundye our best plotter, Chapman, Porter, Wilson, Hathway,
and Henry Chettle.
So clearly Meres did not believe de Vere wrote the Shakespeare
works. Furthermore, if people knew de Vere was writing plays why did
he need Shakespeare as a mask?
The Arte of English Poesie (1589) published anonymously,
but later attributed by rumor to George Puttenham, had the following
to say on the matter:
I know very many noble Gentlemen in the court that have
written commendably well and suppressed it agayne, or else
suffered it to be publish it without their own names to it: as if
it were a discredit for a Gentlemen to seem learned, and to shew
him selfe amorous of any good art (Book I, Of Poets and
Poesie: Chapter 8, emphasis added).
Somewhat later in chapter 31 of the Booke I, the author makes the
following intriguing repetition, with variation, of the first quote,
this time naming some of the authors whose works have been published
under false names or suppressed:
And in her maiesties time that now is are sprong up an
other crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her
Maiesties own servaunts,who have written excellently well as it
would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke
with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman,
Edward Earle of Oxford. Thomas Lord Buckhurst, when he was young,
Henry Lord Paget, Sir Phillip Sidney, Sir Walter Rawleigh, Master
Edward Dyer, Maister Fulke Greville, Gascon, Britton, Turberville,
and many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for
envie, but to avoyde tediousness....(Book I, Chapter 31).
And Peacham in The Compleat Gentlemen (1622) said:
In the time of our late Queen Elizabeth, which was truly
a golden Age (for such a world of refined wits, excellent spirits
it produced, whose like are hardly to be hoped for, in any
succeeding age) above others, who honoured Poesie with their
pennes and practice (to omit her Majestie who had a singular gift
herein) were Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Lord Buckhurst,
Henry Lord Paget, our Phoenix, the noble Sir Philip Sidney, M.
Edward Dyer, M. Edmund Spenser, M. Samuel Daniel, with sundry
others (together with those admirable wits, yet living, and so
well known) not out of Ennuie, but to avoid tediousness, I
The final and extraordinary detailed literary reference concerning
Oxford (long overlooked) can be found Bibliographica Poetica: A
Catalogue of English Poets (1802) by the literary critic, Joseph
Ritson (1752-1803). The passage is worth quoting in full for the
Vere Edward, earl of Oxford, the 14th [sic] of
his surname and family, is the author of several poems printed in
"The Paradise of Daintie Devices," 1576, etc. and in "Englands
Helicon." One piece, by this nobleman, may be found in "The
Phoenix nest," 1592, another is subjoin'd to "Astrophel &
Stella," 1591, and another to "Brittons Bowre of Delights," 1597
(selected by mister Ellis). Some lines of his are, also, prefix'd
to "Cardanuses Comforte,"1573. All or most of his compositions are
distinguished by the signature E.O. He dye'd in 1604; and was
bury'd at Hackney (not as Wood says, at Earls- Colne in Essex).
Webbe and Puttenham applaud his attainments in poesy: Meres ranks
him with the "best for comedy." Several specimens of Oxford's
poetry occur in Englands Parnasus, 1600, in the posthumous edition
of Lord Oxford's works, Vol. 1. two poems, by the Earl of Oxford,
are given from an ancient MS. miscellany: but the possessor is not
pointed out. One of these is reprinted by mister Ellis. (8)
I submit that this IS NOT evidence that de Vere used the name
Shakespeare to conceal his authorship of the plays that appeared
under that name. What this is evidence of, is that de Vere used his
9. One of De Vere's tutors was his uncle, Arthur Golding, who
is credited with the translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. This
is widely recognised as having a major influence on
That Golding translated Ovid's Metamorphoses is not
evidence for de Vere as against the claim of Bacon. Bacon could also
have been attracted to the work.
10. Fourteen of the plays have Italian settings and demonstrate
a detailed knowledge of the country beyond pure book
So detailed is the knowledge that "blunders" about geography are
now being shown to be correct. De Vere spent the best part of a year
travelling in Italy in 1575. He was satirized as 'The Italian Earl'
on his return to England.
There is evidence that Bacon also traveled in Italy. In the first
biography of Bacon, the Life by Pierre Amboise, that appeared
in the France in 1631, we are told:
"he employed some years of his youth in travel, in order
to polish his mind and to mould his opinion by intercourse with
all kinds of foreigners. France, Italy, and Spain, as the most
civilized nations of the whole world were those Whither his desire
for knowledge carried him."
And this is supported by a letter without date written from Thomas
Bodley to Bacon that indicates he was about to embark on a tour of
several nations. So this particular claim for special knowledge on de
Vere's part by the Oxfordians applies just as much to Bacon, and the
issue is a wash between the two.
11. Soon after the name "Shake-speare" appeared in print for
the first time, poems stopped appearing under De Vere's own name; the
vocabulary, style and imagery are consistent between the two.
This proves nothing. De Vere was undergoing his wandering through
foreign nations trying to live down the bad odor from his past, and
as far as the vocabulary, style and imagery being consistent between
his writings and Shakespeare the point applies to Bacon, not to de
Vere. So the scales tilt in Bacon's favor in this instance.
12. De Vere was excellent at the tilts and at jousting. He was
known at Court as the "spear-shaker." This nickname recalls the Greek
Goddess Pallas Athena who was associated with poetry and the theatre;
Athens was the original home of drama, and of the finest tragic
dramatists prior to Shakespeare. Gabriel Harvey in paying tribute to
De Vere as a poet wrote, "thine eyes flash fire, thy countenance
De Vere was known as the "spear-breaker" not the "spear-shaker".
This was the term of distinction for prowess in the joust at which de
Vere apparently excelled. The contestant was judged by the number of
lances he broke. This is what was denoted by the lion with the broken
lance on de Vere's coat of arms, and has nothing to do with
"shake-speare". Shakespeare was an altogether different idea, and
referred to Pallas Athena the goddess of knowledge, who, when she
shook her spear, caused the darkness of ignorance to retreat. This
was the designation of Bacon who spent his entire life for the cause
of knowledge. And the fact that Bacon was associated with this idea
is demonstrated by the letter he received in 1582, from Jean De la
Jesse, (personal secretary to the duc d'Anjou and one of Ronsard's
bohemian circle of poets in France) who identified the tenth muse
that Bacon had selected as his own, when he asserted that his own
Muse has been inspired by "Bacon's Pallas":
"bien que votre Pallas me rende mieux instruit"
translation : your Pallas has taught me better (how to speak or
And this was the allusion Ben Jonson was making in his poem to
Shakespeare at the beginning of the First Folio when he
Of Shakefpeares minde, and manners brightly shines
In his well turned, and true filed lines:
In each of which, he seemes to shake a Lance,
As brandish't at the eyes of ignorance.
The tribute by Gabriel Harvey shows no association with this idea
at all. The evidence here is all on Bacon's side of the scales.
13. Printed plays under the name "Shake-speare" did not appear
until 1598, the year that Lord Burghley died.
This applies equally to Bacon as to de Vere so the evidence is a
wash in this case. It doesn't tilt the scales either way.
14. 36 out of the 37 plays are set in Courtly or wealthy
society. The noble characters are all natural, convincing and at
ease. They speak the language of their class. Throughout the plays,
every character through whom the author speaks on social or political
issues is of noble birth or privileged position. The world
"Shake-speare" wrote about was the world De Vere and his court
Since both Oxford and Bacon were courtiers moving in the same
circles at the pinnacle of Elizabethan society, this is a
non-starter. There is no evidence here to tip the scales for either
of the claimants.
15. De Vere was closely involved with the theater; he held a
lease on the Blackfriars Theatre and had his own acting company, The
Lord Oxford Players. He was acknowledged by his contemporaries as a
poet and praised as a playwright. About 25 poems survive under his
own name. Around 30 books were also dedicated to him during his
lifetime, none by "Shake-speare". He was also the patron of many
writers but again, not of "Shake-speare".
The Oxfordians have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and
it is out. This is an excellent example of the axiom that "There is
nothing more frightening than ignorance in action." It is a rather
scary thought, not only that Oxfordians could think this constitutes
evidence for de Vere's authorship of the Shakespeare plays, but that
there may be others simple enough to believe them. The theater was
the rage among the young dandies of the upper crust. Since de Vere
had more money (at least before he threw it all away) and means than
most he had his own theater and players. But neither this, nor the
fact that no works of "Shake-speare" were dedicated to him, is
evidence for his authorship of the Shakespeare plays. By the time
works with Shakespeare's name on them had begun to appear de Vere had
wasted his inheritance, disgraced himself, and sank into obscurity,
so there was nothing to be gained in dedicating works to him.
16. The records show Lord Oxford's Players performing in the
Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap (referred to in Henry IV part 1). The
records also show that two former servants of Lord Burghley were
waylaid by De Vere's men, on the highway between Gravesend and
Rochester, the very same stretch of road where Falstaff was ambushed
by Prince Hal and his men in disguise.
The mere fact that this incident was utilized in the play has no
inherent information to allow a determination one way or the other
between de Vere and Bacon. No doubt Bacon was familiar with the
incident and could have utilized it for his own purposes in the play.
As a matter of fact, there is evidence that this was exactly what
The play, along with the subsequent play of King Henry V is
constructed so it makes a clear distinction between the young prince
Henry in his irresponsible state before his father died and he became
King, and in his responsible state following his sudden total casting
off of his old character and assuming a new character of
responsibility after he became king.
According to Walker the play is constructed in this fashion because
in this particular play Bacon has designed his discovery device to
inquire into the "form" of a King. And Bacon had defined this in his
essay Of Great Place.According to Bacon the "form" of a King
was that "When he sits in place, he is another man." And according to
Walker this was exactly what the play was designed to reveal. So we
must say that in as far as this instance gives evidence to tilt the
scales on either side it is all on Bacon's side.
17. Ben Jonson in Every Man in His Humour denotes De
Vere as the author Since the parody of Shakespeare's coat of arms
describes a boar, and there Was a boar on de Vere's coat of
In 1596 the Garter King of Arms at the Heralds' Office drafted the
Shakespeare coat of arms. The motto was `Non sanz Droict', i.e. `Not
without Right'. A play by Ben Jonson, Every Man out of his
Humour was registered in 1600. One of the characters, Sogliardo,
a rustic boor who is ludicrously proud of his newly acquired coat of
arms, is obviously meant to satirize Shakespeare. In Act iii, Scene
1, Sogliardo boasts about it in conversation with Sir Puntarvolo and
Carlo the jester.
Sogliardo. Nay, I will have them, I am resolute
for that. By this parchment, gentlemen, I have been so toiled
among the harrots [heralds] yonder, you will not believe;
they do speak I' the strangest language and give a man the hardest
terms for his money, that ever you knew.
Carlo. But ha' you arms? Ha' you arms?
Sog. I' faith, I thank God. I can write myself a
gentleman now; here's my patent, it cost
me thirty pounds, by this breath.
Puntarvolo. A very fair coat, well charged and full of
Sog. Nay, it has as much variety of colours in it, as
you have see a coat have; how like you the crest, sir?
Punt. I understand it not well, what is't?
Sog. Marry, sir, it is your boar with a head,
After more badinage Sogliardo comes the following:
Sog. On a chief argent, a boar's head proper,
between two ann'lets tables.
Car. (to Puntarvolo). `Slud, it's a hog's cheek and
puddings, in a pewter field, this.
Sog. How like you `hem, signior?
Punt. Let the word be, `Not without mustard': Your crest
is very rare, sir.
This has often been given as evidence that Bacon was Shakespeare,
but in this case, the scales obviously tilt in de Vere's favor since
the boar on de Vere's crest was rampant, and the boar on Bacon's
crest was not rampant.
Personally I was glad to come across this bit of evidence. I had
run over and over the Oxfordian material searching for something to
make a horse race of the comparison between Oxford and Bacon, but to
no avail. The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets. Then
I came across this item. If it doesn't make a horse race between the
two, at least it serves a little to "save face" for the Oxfordians.
There is a story by Ian Fleming in which a woman killed a husband who
was cruel to her. Fleming made the point that people will stand
almost anything as long as they are left a "quantum of solace" and in
this case the man had not left her that, thus making an implacable
enemy of her. I have resisted all temptation to demolish the "Every
man Out of His Humor" evidence. Instead I have left it intact as my
quantum of solace for the Oxfordians.
I had intended to go on, after examining the evidence under the de
Vere headings, and show the mountain of additional evidence for
Bacon's authorship of the Shakespeare plays. But this article has
become rather lengthy. Moreover, additional evidence is not needed.
The Oxford Theory is a prime example of the truism that if you come
up with a dumb enough idea the world will beat a path to your
doorway. In 1824 two tricksters came up with the idea of slicing off
Manhattan Island and putting it back again the other way round.
Hordes of people showed up with their row boats and ropes ready to
assist in the effort of towing the island around the other way after
it had been sawed apart with the collection of 100 ft long, 3-ft
teeth saws the pranksters had produced.
The Oxford Theory is a "field of dreams" fantasy. Build it and the
mentally challenged WILL come. This is obviously a case of "no
contest". Examination of the evidence shows the case is
overwhelmingly in the favor of Francis Bacon. The case for de Vere
does not even rise to the level of a knock out in the first round. It
is more in the nature of the opponent striking his head against the
post while trying to climb into the ring and rendering himself
senseless before the bout begins. To conclude this study I would say
to the Oxfordians, you have been too close to your case for too long.
Stand back a moment while your olfactory nerves return to normal,
then approach your case again, you will find it does not pass the
for Jerome Harner
COMMENTARY BY THE EDITORS OF BACONIANA
EDWARD de VERE
Shakespeare Shows up the Earl of Oxford
All's Well That End's Well
Review of Monstrous Ally ,
Biography of Edward de Vere, by Alan Nelson :
Malcontent of High Degree
Another Review of Monstrous Ally by Thomas