Posted By Tom Weedy on April 2, 2011
The second in our historic series on this topic, by the indomitable Mr. Tom Weedy – ed.
My first post on “Seventeen Reasons Shakespeare was Shakespeare” received a veritable avalanche of emails, some from Shakespearean biographers and scholars crowing over the confirmation of my defection, and others from outraged Oxenfordians wanting to know why I have betrayed my own cause (some even demanding to know what sums of money I have pocketed in the transaction, a question I refuse unconditionally to answer in public).
I have to confess, it’s been a lot of fun being me — just like Shakespeare was Shakespeare. A Grumbot (which, although I am not sure, seems to be a hybrid between a Random Word Bot and an old-fashioned Grumble-Butt), immediately challenged me to a duel and was sanctioned by removal from the gArden of Eden.
With these results in mind, I am now prepared to
list Count 17 more answers to the Shakespeare deniers, viz.:
1) Pride of place in this second list of “answers to the deniers” is awarded to the Italian language per se. For it is established in logic that this language is so simple to understand, that, to paraphrase Touchstone, to have it is to have it, whereby we also have this English proverb: “never sniff an italicized gift fish in the mouth,” or as it is said in Sicily, “Del male non fare e paura non avere,” a phrase sometimes confused with ” Vivere felici e non temete di avere.” As Dr. David Kathman has duly noted, ipse learned Italian in a few weeks, and Shakespeare must have done the same, else how could he have written so wittily?
2) Short, sweet, and uncomplicated: We all saw him sign his name in “Shakespeare in Love.”
friend Ben Jonson friends, associates, and editors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, testified in dedicatory letters to the 1623 folio that he they had “scarse received from him a blot in his papers,” and yet had delivered them “absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them.”
4) What oaf could distrust this face (Figure Two)?
5) His name is often mentioned favorably in the creative literature of his own age. For example there is Pilgrimage to Parnassus, in which the sagacious young legal scholar Gullio anticipates the 21st century run on Shakespeare portraits (for further, even more telling quotations from this source, see Ross and Kathman, n.d.), declaring:
“O sweet Mr Shakespeare! I’le have his picture in my study at the courte.”
Since Martin Droeshout, engraver of the above portrait (Figure Two), had not yet been born, that is proof that there once must have existed numerous now-lost low-cost miniatures of the bard, one of them, clearly, in Gullio’s possession.
6) As a source no less reputable than The Guardian suggests, Dr. Wells must have “something else up his sleeve” about the Cobb portrait. We’re sure its going to be front page news, whatever it is — look for a reveal September, 2011.
7) Putting aside as already definitive the 1623 folio, let us visit the the Holy Trinity Monument in Stratford, where the Bard is honored and, some say, buried:
“Stay, passenger, why dost thou go by so fast? Read, if thou canst, whom envious death hath plact within this monument.”
And then the anonymous stonemason, probably of Dutch descent, answers his own riddle with (you already knew it, didn’t you): “Shakspeare, with whom quick nature died.”
This is rock upon which we lay the foundations of our faith, and k’ching, k’ching, k’ching. Isn’t life grand?
8) The former recorder of Stratford, Sir Fulke Greville, said that he wanted to be remembered as “Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare’s Master and Sir Phillip Sidney’s friend.” Obviously he knew both Jonson and Shakespeare, not to mention Sir Phillip Sidney, whose company he preferred, probably for obvious reasons.
9) The Earl of Oxford was a rotten no good manic-depressive poet who ought to have been
killed placed under permanent house arrest for his bad manners. I didn’t already say that one, did I?
10) Shakespeare was a famous playwright in Stratford-upon-Avon long before David Garrick arrived to promote literature in 1767. The 1630 Banquet of Jeasts or Change of Cheare makes this so clear as to silence any rational doubt on this point:
“One travelling through Stratford upon Avon, a Towne most remarkeable for the birth of famous William Shakespeare, and walking in the Church to doe his devotion, espyed a thing there worthy observation, which was a tombestone laid more that three hundred years agoe, on which was ingraven an Epitaph to this purpose, I Thomas such a one, and Elizabeth my wife here under lye buried, and know Reader I. R. C.* and I. Chrystoph. Q. are alive at this houre to witnesse it.”
In the face of such evidence, how is it possible that the Oxfordians persist? Are they willfully blind? Don’t they get the joke?
9) One of his applications for a coat of arms bears the herald’s comment: “Non, sanz droict,” which surely must be the “word” supplied by the herald’s office.
10) As Katherine Duncan Jones, following the late E.K. Chambers among others, has confirmed, one of Jonson’s jests ridiculed his application for this very same coat of arms. In Every Man Out of His Humor Jonson (enviously) coined Sogliardo’s motto, “not without mustard,” and depicted his arms as a “boar rampant without a head,” at the expense of the Stratford bard’s heraldic ambitions.
Shakespeare then took revenge in Troilus and Cressida, delivered the bitter pill of depicting the elephant-footed Jonson in a war of wits with John Marston, who was typecast (once again) as Thersites. Obviously, everyone who was anyone knew who he was.
Scholars disagree over whether Jonson’s response is to be found in Cataline or Sejanus, but whichever it was, Jonson evidently got the last word, for Shakespeare had by then retired from the stage and returned to Stratford, sanz playscripts, to resume his old loves “of comfort and despair,” selling (and speculating on) wheat and rye (this long one really should count for two, maybe even three, but we have so many that I’ll fold them all into one).
11) He acted in Every Man Out of His Humor (1598) (Figure Three).
12) Ben Jonson’s sense of humor is almost impossible for modern readers to understand, unless they went to Columbia or Harvard.
13) The psychology of Shakespeare’s age (Shapiro 2010, 272) is summed up in the immortal words of Henry Cuffe, author of the textbook for schoolboy’s instruction, The Differences in the Ages of Man’s Life (1600): “I can’t quite decide if I prefer Pythagoras or Aristotle. What do you think? Should it be ‘childhood, youth, manhood, and old age’ or ‘childhood, flourishing man-age, and old age.’ I think I’ll go with Aristotle.”
14) Only a glover’s son could have written these lines from JC:
Flav. Speak, what trade art thou?
Carp. Why, sir, a carpenter.
Mar. Where is thy leather apron and rule etc.
15) He stopped publishing play quartos in 1604 in honor of the death of Queen Elizabeth, except for Hamlet, which he had published under the Tudor court of arms in the “true and perfect copy” of Q2 after removing all the bits that offended Queen Anne.
16) It is probable that he may have written many masques for the Jacobean court, but Ben Jonson in a tiff of rivalry would have burned them all in 1623, before Hemminges and Condell could get them into the folio. Jonson then would have tried to blame someone named “Vulcan,” whoever that is, for the loss.
17) Finally and most definitively of all, when he wrote Rape of Lucrece, he was thinking of the way the water Eddies under the Clopton Bridge (Figure Four):
As through an arch the violent roaring tide
Outruns the eye that doth behold his haste,
Yet in the Eddy boundeth in his pride
Back to the strait that forced him on so fast,
In rage sent out, recall’d in rage, being past:
Even so his sighs, his sorrows, make a saw,
To push grief on and back the same grief draw.
The Earl of Oxford would never have done that. He did not live in Warwickshire.
Coming Next in the series: Why William Henry Ireland proved that Shakespeare was Shakespeare, and that sometimes to have is not to have.
i.r.c. = of course, Internet Relay Chat.