“My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,” The Earl of Oxford, and the Shakespearean Question, Part I

Posted By on November 29, 2013

Clement Mansfield Ingleby (1853): The idea of 'My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is' is Shakespeare's.

My Mind to me a kingdom is;
……My wealth is health and perfect ease,
My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,
Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!

In May, 1853,  C. Mansfield Ingleby, soon to become one the founders of the New Shakspere Society and editor of the Shakspere Allusion Book (1873), published a brief note on the already famous lyric poem, “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is.”

The poem, despite remaining anonymous for almost 250 years after first appearing in William Byrd’s 1588 Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs of Sadnes, is among the best loved poems in the English language,  having been almost continuously in print since being published in Byrd’s song book. Based on an attribution given in the Rawlinson manuscript, it was in 1850 for the first time attributed to Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607), a minor court poet.

Citing conceptual and semantic parallels from 3 H. VI, Ingleby’s brief 1853 communication to Oxford University Press’s Notes and Queries insisted, however, that the “the idea [of "My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is"] is Shakespeare’s.”[i]

Ingleby’s laconic expression may admit of multiple interpretations, but one thing is certain about it. Much to the consternation of today’s Stratford cold warriors, he did not hesitate to designate the idea of the poem as Shakespeare’s.

The poem’s leading motif – namely that idea that a “contented mind” supplies the poet with a substitute for a more literal “crown and kingdom” – could  not be found expressed in the English language in any other 16th century source except Shakespeare and the lyric in question. In confirmation, a year later another note[ii]  identified an echo of the idea in the much-later 17th century emblem book, School of the Heart, ode iv. St. 5.: “My mind’s my kingdom: why should I withstand Or question that, which I myself command.”

In fact, although the industrious scholar Ingleby was evidently not aware of it, a similar, more contemporaneous allusion does exist, in the form of Robert Southwell‘s paraphrase of the poem:

I dwell in Grace’s court,
Enriched with Virtue’s rights;
Faith guides my wit, Love leads my will,
Hope all my mind delights.

In lowly vales I mount
To pleasure’s highest pitch;
My silly shroud true honour brings;
My poor estate is rich.

My conscience is my crown,
Contented thoughts my rest;
My heart is happy in itself;
My bliss is in my breast.

I have been unable to precisely date this poem, but it must date to before 1595 when Southwell died. For our purposes, however, the critical point is that the poem is itself manifestly a derivative imitation of “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,”  and it in no way effects the controversy over the authorship of that poem.

Aside from these two imitations of “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,” and Shelly’s “self-empire,” the idea seems impossible to trace among English poets of the Jacobean or Elizabethan periods.  That the lyric was already famous by the late Elizabethan period is, on the other hand,  indicated in Ben Jonson’s 1600 parody in Every Man Out of His Humour.

Ingleby’s identification of the poem’s idea as “Shakespeare’s” constitutes a prime example of an important principle in intellectual history. Res gestae, a principle drawn from law,  is “based on the belief that because certain statements are made naturally, spontaneously, and without deliberation during the course of an event, they carry a high degree of credibility and leave little room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation….such statements are more trustworthy than other secondhand statements and therefore should be admissible as evidence.”[iii]

In law res gestae statements are considered exceptions to  hearsay rules of exclusion. In the history of ideas they function somewhat differently, being rather reminders of the importance of reading all claims of truthfulness within a larger historic and epistemic context.

In 1853, on the insecure basis of one unreliable manuscript, “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is” had just been attributed to the minor court poet Edward Dyer. There was nothing especially controversial about pointing out that both the idea of the lyric and even its particular collocation of words were highly suggestive of the bard’s own literary work. That would merely mean that 1) Either Shakespeare or Dyer had copied the other, or, 2) both had depended upon some common source of inspiration. Neither theory posed any threat to the cherished illusions of a powerful intellectual status quo ante.

Another way of conceptualizing the problem is to realize that by characterizing Ingleby’s statement as res gestae  we are categorizing it as the logical opposite of the fallacy generally known as “ad hoc reasoning” – which happens when a party to a dispute modifies a theory “in order to save it from being falsified.”  According to the serviceable definition at Wikipedia, “Ad hoc hypothesizing is compensating for anomalies not anticipated by the theory in its unmodified form.”

In other words, Ingleby’s spontaneous admission of the “Shakespearean” character of the poem’s leading idea was an honest assessment. Most interestingly, however,  it was one offered in with less than full awareness of its potentially “incriminating” implications. Unable to foresee the dramatic implications of his own words, Ingleby was content to put on record his spontaneous, honestly achieved insight that the idea and idioms of the poem were – and are – markedly “Shakespearean” in character (fuller details of the close association of both thought and language between the poem and various Shakespearean passages will be given in a later blog entry).

All that began to change in 1975 when Georgetown College Professor Dr. Stephen May, a specialist in early modern lyric poetry manuscript traditions, published a brief article in Review of English Studies suggesting that “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is” was not by Dyer, but by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604).[iv]

To be continued….


[i] C. Mansfield Ingleby, “My mind to me a kingdom is,” Notes and Queries 186 (May, 21, 1853): 511.

[ii]  C. Mansfield Ingleby, “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,” Notes and Queries (October 21, 1854): 353.

[iii]Res Gestae,” The Free Dictionary.

[iv] Stephen May. “The Authorship of My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,” Review of English Studies XXVI (1975), 385-94.

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34 Responses to ““My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,” The Earl of Oxford, and the Shakespearean Question, Part I”

  1. richard waugaman says:

    Terrific! I’m delighted that Steve May has once again helped advance the credibility of Edward de Vere as Shakespeare.

    When I first tried to contact Prof. May, no one at Georgetown University’s English Department had heard of him, which seemed odd. Eventually, I tracked him down– at Georgetown College in Kentucky.

  2. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi Richard, thanks for the clarification about Stephen May’s affiliation! This is the first of several posts on this question, so please check back later today and in the coming days for more. For those who are not familiar with Dr. Waugaman’s excellent website, here’s the link: http://www.oxfreudian.com/?

  3. Tom Reedy says:

    “Based on an attribution given in the Rawlinson manuscript, it was in 1850 for the first time attributed to Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607), a minor court poet.”

    Nope. The first printed attribution was in 1813, a fact that can be found in Notes & Queries and in May’s 1975 article.

    “… Ingleby’s brief 1853 communication to Oxford University Press’s Notes and Queries …”

    Nope. N&Q was a London magazine founded by William Thoms. It was not owned by the OUP until the 20th century.

    ” The poem’s leading motif – namely that idea that a “contented mind” supplies the poet with a substitute for a more literal “crown and kingdom” – could not be found expressed in the English language in any other 16th century source except Shakespeare and the lyric in question. . . . Aside from these two imitations of ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,’ and Shelly’s ‘self-empire,’ the idea seems impossible to trace among English poets of the Jacobean or Elizabethan periods.”

    Nope. The idea, as Steven May says in his *The Elizabethan Courtier Poets*, p. 63, was a commonplace. In fact *Tottel’s Miscellany* (1557) and *The Paradise of Dainty Devises* (1576) were full of such lyrics.

    Excerpts from two examples:

    “They of the mean estate are happiest” (TM, 1557)

    Among good things I prove and find
    The quiet life doth most abound,
    And sure to the contented mind
    There is no riches to be found. TM

    “Of a contented mind” Lord Vaux (PDD, 1576)

    When all is done and said, in the end thus shall you find,
    He most of all doth bathe in bliss, that hath a quiet mind:
    And clear from worldly cares, to deem can be content,
    The sweetest time in all his life in thinking to be spent.

    And here’s what May says about it:

    “As Renaissance courtly verse, ‘My mind to me’ has several English precedents. Professor Sargent observes (p. 218) that the Earl of Surrey expresses a similar attitude toward the retiring life in his translation, ‘Martial, the thinges for to attayne’, a poem which circulated widely in manuscript and print during the sixteenth century. An even closer analogue is the verse by Lord Vaux the Elder beginning ‘When all is doen and said’, printed in The Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576-1606). Clearly, the author of ‘My mind to me’ was contributing to an established but not yet hackneyed motif of courtly poetry, a motif ultimately classical in origin.” (May 1975 p. 394)

    And Robert Greene, ca. 1590:

    Sweet are the thoughts that savor of content
    The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
    Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
    The poor estate scorns fortune’s angry frown.
    Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
    Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.

    And of course Oxford entered into the competition:

    Were I a king I might command content;
    Were I obscure unknown should be my cares,
    And were I dead no thoughts should me torment,
    Nor words, nor wrongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears
    A doubtful choice of three things one to crave,
    A kingdom or a cottage or a grave.

  4. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Tom,

    Excellent comments – thanks for filling in some of the details. I’m not sure where I first obtained the date of 1850 in the literature, but as you know, misinformation of this sort abounds and I am pleased to have your correction on this point.

    I note that none of your excerpts prior to Robert Green (which is most likely one of several more or less explicit echoes of the popular lyric) supplies a real parallel to the lines in question; they document the frequent occurrence of the idea of having a contented mind, but do not mention the crown. That does occur, on the other hand, in Seneca’s Thyestes, which is the source of the poet. Some of the relevant lines from that play were translated as early as 1560 by Jasper Heywood as follows:

    We nothing feare, the house is safe
    Without the hydden knyfe,
    And poore estate the weetnes feels
    of rest and quyet life.
    Great kyngdome is to be content,
    without the same to lyve,
    Yet should it not refused be,
    if go the kyngdome gyve.

    This is from the second chorus of the play, lines 380 et. seq., commencing “mens regnum bona possidet,” and its relevance as an influence if not source of the poem is indicated by Sargent in his biography of Dyer, p. 217.

    What Sargent does not note is that there is a subsequent passage in the play, “rebusque parvis magna praestatur quies/immane regnum est posse wine regno pati” (it is a vast kingdom to be able to cope without a kingdom), which restates this theme.

    This repeated emphasis of the idea of the compensatory solace of peace of mind in place of the demands of kingship is of course a common theme in a number of Senecan plays, but is most emphatically reiterated in *Thyestes*, confirming in my view Sargent’s theory that this play is the primary source of the poem. Would you agree?

    Returning momentarily to the topic of the echos of this highly popular poem in the literature of the 16th and early 17th century, I note this fascinating recent blog entry by Rambler, which shows I think a keen ear for the literary practices of early modern playwrights and adds further suggestive weight to Stephen May’s view that the author of the poem was Oxford: http://lookingforshakespeare.blogspot.com/2014/01/very-sound-of-spur-my-mind-to-me.html

    Once again, thank you for your substantive comments.

  5. Tom Reedy says:

    The original attribution date is in May’s 1975 paper, which you have accused me of not reading.

    Yes, the idea is Senaca’s, not Shakespeare’s, which was widely circulated in both manuscript and print, William Baldwin’s collection of aphorisms, *Food for Thought* being one of the most popular, in which several near-wordings of Shakespearean lines can be found.

    The most accurate version of MMTM is the Petyt MS, which gives it the title “In praise of a contented mind.”

    Here’s another example, which was also set to music by Byrd:

    In crystal towers and turrets richly set
    With glittering gems that shine against the sun,
    In regal rooms of jasper and of jet,
    Content of mind not always likes to wone;
    But oftentimes it pleaseth her to stay
    In simple cotes closed in with walls of clay.

    Geoffrey Whitney (1548-1601)

  6. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m glad we agree that the idea is originally Seneca’s. What is the basis for your claim that the Petyt manuscript is the “most accurate version” of the poem. I am just wondering because I have found recently that May’s conclusions on those points are not always, so far as I can tell, reliable.

    I’m glad to see that the posting has inspired further research into other early analogues, and the Whitney strikes me as being closer to “My Mind to Me” than some of the others. Of course, the key date for this item is not 1548, but 1586, the year that Whitney’s Emblems were published. This is relevant because that means that it, like the Green, postdates, MMTK, right?

    One further analogue that you haven’t mentioned yet, although without the royalist imagery, is the poem “The praise of a contented mind,” published as a “footenote” in Willowbie His Avisa (1594), which includes the lines

    So that by practice and by proofe, this sentence true I find,
    That nothing in this earth is like, a sweete contented Mind.

    This poem, it seems to me, is of great interest and relevant to our discussion since

    1) It is crypto-anonymous, being signed with the sobriquet, earlier seen in the originally anonymous *Hundredth Sundrie Flowres* (1573), “Ever or Never.”
    2) To my ear the poem’s diction is very much like MMTMK

    Of course, it could be by the author of the main body of WHA (whom personally I take to probably be Matthew Roydon), but to me the tone and diction and distinctive, and the published presentation gives it a distinctive attribution.

    Speaking of chronology, of course, your initial post above gives a very inaccurate impression of the order of these particular samples, and since we are concerned not only with the dispersion of certain themes (either “contentment” or “contentment in opposition to the values of the crown/court/wealth” – the latter of which we agree is originally Senecan in origin), but also the problem of who influenced who, the ORDER of things does matter.

    The Oxford lyric you cite is the earliest in the sequence, not the last. If there was a “contest” (your word), he started it.

  7. Tom Reedy says:

    > The Oxford lyric you cite is the earliest in the sequence, not the last. If there was a “contest” (your word), he started it.

    Do you check anything before posting? I’m pretty sure the poem written by Lord Vaux (d. 1556) and the other from Tottel’s (published 1557) predates Oxford’s poem, unless you want to make the argument that Oxford wrote it when he was 6.

  8. Tom Reedy says:

    Oh, and the assertion that “the Petyt manuscript is the “most accurate version” of the poem” is May’s, not mine. See p. 391 of his 1975 article. You really should stop everything and read that article before making any more declarations.

  9. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Tom, of course I know that Vaux predates Oxford.

    Oxford’s is the earliest of series (excepting, possibly the 1581 translation of Seneca), to specifically juxtapose the idea of comfort with the ideas of “crown” or “rule.” This was a distinction I made in my comment. See it? It is an important distinction. The first idea is a commonplace, the second far less common and much more idiomatic of a particular line of influence, in which Oxford plays a prominent role.

    I’m surprised that you didn’t ask why I am so sure that the Oxford lyric is the earliest of those you listed to combine both elements, but I see that you preferred to give me the lie direct than to explore a more subtle and meaningful angle of inquiry.

    I hope my meaning is now clearer, and I apologize for the ambiguity — but there is no need to be rude in trying to reach a common understanding. Since you cannot seem to refrain on your oven volition from overly aggressive comments like “do you check anything before posting?” I’ve made the decision as of this morning, after thinking about it for some time, to place your comment status on a “need for approval basis.”

    I wanted to let you know that I”m doing this so that in the future when your comments don’t immediate publish you will know that they are under review. Remarks like that one will struck before posting.

    You are of course still welcome to post but you have clearly demonstrated that you lack the emotional maturity to conduct yourself in a public conversation without being provocatively rude to other posters. I have already had one complaint about your behavior and I am not going to allow you and your buddies to intimidate others from their equal right to post their comments here.

    As for who first made the assertion about the Petyt ms, you repeated it without citing May as your authority, so it was not at all inappropriate for me to ask you what your reasoning was.

    We now know what it was. May said so.

    Not being sufficiently aware that certain points of argument may be controversial, and therefore attributing them, is an error often made in the authorship discussions.

    The difference is that when I make that error and someone asks for clarification I at least make an effort to simply correct the situation. You, on the other hand, routinely lash out with a gratuitous personal attack. You may do that on Wikipedia, on Facebook, or even on The Spectator, but you may not do it on my website.

  10. Marie Merkel says:

    Roger:

    It’s nice to see conversation happening, rather than the Hatfield/McCoy dueling FB pages, with “Malice in Wonderland” streaming live, 24/7 on both channels. Having encountered the problem you address quite recently elsewhere, on an otherwise most civil public discussion board, I must say, this paragraph of yours is excellent, as an exemplar of the problem:

    “You are of course still welcome to post but you have clearly demonstrated that you lack the emotional maturity to conduct yourself in a public conversation without being provocatively rude to other posters. I have already had one complaint about your behavior and I am not going to allow you and your buddies to intimidate others from their equal right to post their comments here.”

    But you truly saved the best for last:

    “The difference is that when I make that error and someone asks for clarification I at least make an effort to simply correct the situation. You, on the other hand, routinely lash out with a gratuitous personal attack. You may do that on Wikipedia, on Facebook, or even on The Spectator, but you may not do it on my website.”

    Would we could all inherit the grace to look in the mirror and see ourselves clearly, without flinching.

  11. Tom Reedy says:

    “The difference is that when I make that error and someone asks for clarification I at least make an effort to simply correct the situation.”

    So far that has not been the case on all the errors I have pointed out. All I get is a lecture or more excuses.

  12. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi Marie,

    Thank your for your post.

    Naturally Mr. Reedy does not see what is evident to most other readers, but then he’s on a mission to not see it. I have now placed both Mr. Reedy and Mr. Leadbetter, whose gratuitous insults in many other contexts are legendary, on administrative review. They — especially Mr. Reedy — are of course welcome to post, and one can only hope that they will begin to learn the art of civil discourse, although I have my deepest doubts about Mr. Leadbetter as you can see from the first samples of his comments on the site.

    Some years ago he hoped to lure discussion to his Oxfraud site — that, after all, was what he was tasked to do. Now that that has failed, he has few options but to show up here and attempt to drag the discussion here down to his own level. It will not be allowed.

    I look forward to your further contributions.

  13. Marie Merkel says:

    Hi Roger,

    My apologies for not writing more clearly. What I was enjoying in those snippets I took from your reply above was your exuberant facility with projection. Personally, I’ve had no problem having civil discourse with either Tom or Mike, although I’m quite sure they think many of my ideas about Oxford and Shakespeare are misguided at best. And to tell the truth, I haven’t really found anything truly offensive in what either one has posted here. Of course, they are here to critique, not to praise, but they do seem to me to be on pretty good behavior, considering what’s been said with malice elsewhere, on both sides. I suggest that you continue as you began, by treating them as honored “guests” in your cyber home, rather than party crashers.

    I’ll be looking forward to your next blog entries on Oxford’s hand compared with the annotations.

  14. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Marie,

    Then you and I have a clear difference in perception. I do not see any basis whatsover to treat a rogue and soundrel like Mr. Leadbetter, as an “honored guest.” You may honor him all you like on your own website. This is my website, and I will make the rules, in consultation with the advisers whom I trust.

  15. AWaugh says:

    Tom Reedy’s first posting to this site was useful and interesting, but there is no denying that his quality has slipped. Roger is right to object to sneering remarks such as ‘Do you check anything before posting?’ and within his rights also to issue warnings since those remarks are expected to appear as published postings on his own website. We have to remember that Mr Reedy is fanatically dedicated to the destruction of the Shakespearean authorship case for Edward de Vere. There is nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong in the fact that Mr Reedy is paid good money to keep blogging in the Stratfordian cause. These things, however, must be taken into consideration by all readers of his posts. His contributions are useful to the authorship scholar only when they offer corrections or new information on points of fact, but where he is prepared only to offer his own opinions, the opinions of his supporters, ad hominem abuse, or (as in this case) unpleasant sneers, his contributions are marginally worse than futile. As the effective publisher of this site, Roger has quite rightly told him to polish up his act. Personally I hope that he will continue to post here but in a civilized way, with facts, strong supporting evidence, and the sort of good manners that every host has a perfect right to expect of his guest. Alexander

    • Tom Reedy says:

      Hi Alexander!

      > Roger is right to object to sneering remarks such as ‘Do you check anything before posting?’

      I’m sure I’ve explained it before that my strategy is to mirror the attitude and behaviour of my interlocutors. Remarks such as “has Mr. Reedy even read May’s article?” or “aside from Mr. Reedy’s expertise at evaluating the aesthetic merits of early modern English poetry, a skill he honed while working as a Public Relations specialist for The Denton County Sheriff’s Office” or “if I were able to award a prize in the Ye Olde Wilde Goose Chase Olympics, Reedy’s theory might well deserve at least an honorable mention” (a “theory” which Roger completely misread, as I demonstrated in my reply), which Roger posted on 4 January, cause me to respond in the same way. I admit my first posting (http://shake-speares-bible.com/2014/01/15/shakespeare%E2%80%99s-small-latin-and-less-anglo-saxon-a-bilingual-annotation-in-the-folger%E2%80%99s-online-copy-of-archaionomia/comment-page-1/#comment-792) after Roger invited me to respond was a bit over the top, but after Roger’s objection I offered to revise the post to delete the offending material and have since refrained from posting in the same vein.

  16. sicinius says:

    Aren’t there some corresponding obligations for a host and what a guest is entitled to expect, Alexander?

    Mike
    “Liar”, “Rogue” & “Scoundrel”

    • Roger Stritmatter says:

      Mike, I was thinking of revising that appellation to Dr. of Humbuggery and Birthplace Trust Hackerism. Of course, that’s just a joke, so don’t quote me or try to get me to apologize. I’ll just change the subject.

    • AWaugh says:

      Dear Mike, as far as I am aware you have been attacked on this site for stating that someone called Stephen May of Kentucky changed his opinion about de Vere’s possible authorship of ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom is.’ From what I can gather of the foregoing, May himself has recently denied that he had changed his view and you have never revealed your source. It is of course possible that you lied. It does not really matter to me whether you lied or were simply mistaken, but your intervention here fires me to reiterate that those who are unswervingly dedicated to the destruction of Oxfordianism and who are paid to blog around the clock in the Stratfordian cause, should not be listened to when they relay either their own, or others OPINIONS on the subject of Shakespearean authorship. I am always interested to hear facts and hard evidence from all sides of the debate. AW

      • sicinius says:

        Hi Alexander, As one once foolhardy enough to have been in the third row of her stalls, I never did get round to telling you how much I enjoyed your account of Dame Edna’s concert.

        I don’t think Roger enjoys what I write on his site as he keeps deleting it.

        Anyway, rather than go into my account of the debate over here, my version (supported by evidence) is over here. http://oxfraud.com/100-Dyer-consequences

  17. Marie Merkel says:

    Roger – and Alexander:

    Neither of you seem to have noticed Doc Stritmatter’s many sneering remarks in his essay, “Shakespeare’s Small Latin”. I felt immediate dismay (but no surprise) on seeing them, since I would much rather read a civil scholarly interchange about these annotations in the Lambarde book. To begin by insulting those who might offer the toughest critique of your proposition seems a fine way to guarantee that your critics will mirror your example in their replies.

    If you’d like to polish up your act, “Hamlet” has some sterling advice on dealing with rogues, scoundrels, and humanity in general, peasant slaves all:

    God’s bodykins, man, much better! Use every man after his
    desert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own
    honour and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in
    your bounty. Take them in.

    • Roger Stritmatter says:

      Marie, I’m not sure which of my “many sneering remarks” you refer to, but I think that my chief sneers were in regard to Professor Nelson — who, as Oxfordians are aware, at this point deserves a regular sneer or two every week. Professor Nelson has been lying about the de Vere Bible annotations for over fourteen years now. When he chooses to correct this I will consider an apology. Until then, you may wish yourself to look into the history of this question before jumping in with your critique. Ad hominems are logical fallacies. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, they are sometimes necessary. The purpose of my posts is not to please your tender ear; it’s to advance a real discussion about authorship, something Professor Nelson gave up on before he started.

      You, on the other, are still confused about who wrote The Tempest and can think of little better to do with your spare time than making up clever apologies for the chief whipper, the public relations nerd Mike Leadbetter, who specializes in character assassination from his proxy servers in Holland.

      “Enemies are apt to make the worst of everything, flatterers will do evil offices, and true and faithful advice will seem harsh to tender ears.”

      Who said that?

  18. lynnekositsky@sympatico.ca says:

    Knock it off, you guys, if you please. What began as a civil conversation seems to have degenerated into a rout. What is it about the SAQ that makes people lose their customary good humour and politeness? Better to treat it like a fine game rather than a battle.

    • Roger Stritmatter says:

      Hi Lynne! Thanks for your post, yes it would be nice to get back to some substantive discussions. So here’s a refocus: Ingleby, more so than I realized when I wrote this post, was wrong about the motif in question (which, to be clear is not “contentment” but “contentment as a result of either the presence or the absence of a royal status”) being “Shakespeare’s.”

      Actually, it is Seneca’s — first borrowed into English, on the available evidence, by de Vere in his circa 1578 lyric, already quoted by Tom.

      I just added nested comments to the site and it looks like they work. So you can now reply directly to a particular comment, up to (at present) five levels deep.

    • Tom Reedy says:

      I’ve offered several substantive comments sans any rudeness whatsoever which have yet to be answered.

      • Roger Stritmatter says:

        Tom, I’m sorry to keep disappointing you, but my job is not to answer your questions. I realize that since retiring from your former public relations job you have now moved on to greener pastures, but I have a day job and am working on several substantive projects at present. I’m considering a number of your remarks and will respond on my own schedule. Is it too much to ask you to find a hobby for a few days?

        • lynnekositsky@sympatico.ca says:

          I can attest to the fact that Roger is “working on several substantive projects at present.” We are writing a new article, to be followed, hopefully, by a new book. I am about third in line at present. Don’t take up a hobby, Tom, unless it’s to write a novel. Go and visit your darling granddaughter instead!

  19. Marie Merkel says:

    “Enemies are apt to make the worst of everything, flatterers will do evil offices, and true and faithful advice will seem harsh to tender ears.”

    Yes, you’ve had enemies, Roger, always looking to make the worst of everything you offer about Shakespeare and Oxford. I’m not one of them; I simply wish you’d see yourself more clearly, so that we’re not always tripping over your sarcasm, wounded pride and heavy load of grudges to find the goods you’d like to deliver.

    I’ve never been any good at flattery, and am probably as shy with handing out praise as my own parents were with me. I look for people to show me how I have gone astray, how I can make my argument stronger, clearer. Since that’s what I value, that’s what I offer to others. I agree with Oxford that flatterers do evil offices. Thank goodness, unlike you, I don’t have any.

    I’m not sure why my suggestion that you use your guests according to your honor and dignity, translates for you into “making clever apologies” for Mike Leadbetter. Hamlet’s quip to Polonius includes us all, myself, Mike, Alex, Tom, Lynne, Chris and your many silent readers. Used according to our desert, which of us will ‘scape whipping?

    My true and faithful advice to you, offered as a final gift, remains the same: Grow a thicker skin and remember the golden rule.

    • lynnekositsky@sympatico.ca says:

      Marie, I don’t believe that Roger has flatterers, though he does have many people who agree with him, either wholly or partly. But I very much like your post, which is not only clever, but gives us some insight into your personal life.

      • lynnekositsky@sympatico.ca says:

        I think one’s thickness of skin, by the way, is genetically ordained, or a skin, originally thick, becomes thinner on account of the number of bruises it receives.

  20. Gorgantua says:

    Passing over the question of discernible Shakespearean qualities in “My mind to me etc”, Edward Dyer’s letter to Sir Christopher Hatton provides discernible traces of the thoughts and sentiments evident in the poem.

    Lord of Ctm mentioned by Dyer, is Edward de Vere.

    it’s worthwhile reading not just Dyer’s letter, but also the subsequent description of events and correspondence concerning Oxford’s fall from favour and Hatton recovering the Queen’s affection.

    Contextual biographical reading proves nothing, of course. But to my mind, it swings the attribution SLIGHTLY in Dyer’s favour.

    http://archive.org/stream/cu31924084250343#page/n295/mode/2up

    • Roger Stritmatter says:

      Interesting argument.

      I am especially impressed by the remarkable claim that “contextual biographical reading proves nothing.” If you mean by the vague phrase “contextual biography,” the evidence of letters, etc., then of course that evidence proves what it proves, no more and no less, and has to be evaluated in every particular case. Grandiose overgeneralization will just get you ideological platitudes.

      For example, William Plumer Fowler proved in his Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford’s Letters, to the satisfaction of many readers, that Oxford was Shakespeare. Why? Because the quantity and quality of the idiomatic and conceptual ties between one body of evidence (the plays and poems) and another (the letters) seems inexplicable except on the basis of the hypothesis that they are written by the same man.

      As for the specifics of this document “swinging the attribution SLIGHTLY in Dyer’s favor,” I don’t think so. In this case, you may wish to consider a “contextual biographical” question that has never been applied to the attribution of “MMKI.”

      Dyer was a quantitative poet. All the other poems of his printed in Sargent’s biography of him are, without exception that I can detect, formed on quantitative patterns. How does this “tip the balance”?

  21. Gorgantua says:

    If by “quantative patterns” you are referring to a Classical use of metre, we’d be looking at the length of syllables. In English poetry, we’d be looking at patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. However, syllables of different lengths and stressing occur as a result of authorial word selection.

    With this in mind, to say that Dyer was a quantative poet looks wrong. Here’s an extracted adaption from To Phillis the Faire Sheeperdesse. No more than two syllables, except for the final word, (mine) which I admit is a poor rendering.

    Our Roger hath prime-featherd flowres,
    that wilt when we tread on them:
    And Roger hath a gallant flocke,
    that leapes since he dooth owne them.
    But Roger hath too hard a hart,
    alas, that he should have it:
    It yeelds no mercie to desert,
    nor grace to those .engag-ed

    When time permits, over the weekend, I hope to assist you understand that subjective associations between a writer’s biography and the literature, are tentative in the absence of first hand authorial explanation.

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In "From Crackpot to Mainstream"Keir Cutler, PhD, takes down the recent Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (OUP, 2013)

Criticism of Cutler's "Is Shakespeare Dead?": "A magnificently witty performance!" (Winnipeg Sun). "Highly entertaining and engrossing!" (EYE Weekly). "Is Shakespeare Dead? marshals startling facts into an elegant and often tenacious argument that floats on a current of delicious irony" (Montreal Gazette).