Posted By Roger Stritmatter on January 4, 2014
Over at Oxfraud Central on Facebook I am being taxed for having interrupted my series on “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is” with some other posts and not having yet completed the remaining two (I think) blog entries on this important poem.
Believe it or not, one of the chief critics of my delay is none other than the indomitable Tom Reedy, who we last saw opining that he gave Edward Dyer “50-50” odds at being the author, despite Professor May’s confidence that the already available evidence favors Oxford by a significant margin, a position May first articulated in 1975 and has not changed since, despite the dishonest attempt of Mike Leadbetter to enlist his support by claiming that he “no longer” thought Oxford was the author.
You would think that after a track record like that, in which they were caught lying about the opinion of one of “their own” scholars, the Oxfrauds would just want this poem to go away and would not not keep bringing it up in public, but no, apparently hell hath no fury like an Oxfraud delayed.
The truth is that scholarly inquiry rarely proceeds in a straight line. Yes, it may seem contrary if you are in the business, like the Oxfrauds, of hunting Wilde Gooses.
When chasing Ye Olde Wilde Goose, I have learned from hard experience, you’d better not let her out of your sight.
She hath an uncanny habit of ducking for cover when you aren’t looking, so hunting her down requires an indomitable focus. You must not ever let her out of your sight, and must not at all cost entertain second doubts about the world historical importance of your mission to keep scholarship safe from unprecedented ideas. When your local Wilde Goose sidekick gets out of goosestep, you must kick him in the keister, lest the entire mission be lost by his delay and failure to keep time.
But with scholarship, alas, it is not so. The scholar is always stumbling over new questions; his inquiry is forever tangled up in encountering Greek conundrums of one sort or another, such as what can make Tom Reedy tick, anyway?
Just why does Mr. Reedy disagree with Stephen May about the odds of “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is”?
Well, 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, he has preferred an intriguing theory that might very well shore up Dyer’s chances of being the author. In fact, 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.
Here is how Reedy put his theory in the Spectator debate:
“The MS that attributes it to Dyer has it signed ‘E. DIER.’ Since it also contains other poems by Dyer as well as by Oxford, I wonder if the copyist actually wrote E. DVER or mistranscribed it.”
“The manuscript” to which Reedy alludes is Rawlinson 85, containing a number of variants that, in Stephen May’s view, place the copy in question in a derivative location on any hypothetical provenance tree.
Now — note Reedy’s “logic.”
He wonders if “the copyist” may have “miss-transcribed it.” What does this mean? I once thought I knew but now I’m in another Greek befuddlement. There are at least two sources of this befuddlement.
First, which copyist does Reedy mean? The Rawlinson copyist or the copyist of the Inner Temple Petyt manuscript, which ascribes the poem to de Vere?
Of equal importance, Reedy also wonders that “if the copyist” — again without any clarity of which copyist is meant — actually wrote “E. DVER.”
So, we now have the proposition that because of the odd spelling of the name “Dier” in one manuscript, the copyist of another manuscript “miss-transcribed” the name to read “DVER” or some such nonsense. What are the assumptions of this line of reasoning?
1) It assumes that the Petyt manuscript, where we find the de Vere attribution, is descended, directly or indirectly, from the Rawlinson;
2) It assumes, or rather requires, that the Petyt attribution should read something like “DVER.”
These assumptions, however, are both false.
In the first case, Professor May already established in 1975 (has Mr. Reedy even read May’s article?) that Petyt manuscript variants show a more original and correct version of the Rawlinson. Therefore it is impossible even on general grounds (unless Reedy & colleagues can show that May’s conclusion on this point is erroneous) to construct such a descent.
Confirming this is the fact that the Petyt does not attribute the poem to “DVER” or any such person but ends with the words
“Finis qd Earll of Oxenforde”
Now, if this analysis is based on an incorrect assessment of Mr. Reedy’s true and authentic meaning in the strangely ambiguous and inconclusive blog comment quoted above, then let me extend my sincerest hope that he will forthwith step up to the plate and clarify his meaning with a comment here. In any case I invite him to do so.
But if past performance is any indication, he is off somewhere on facebook, hallooing and beating the bush for Ye Olde Wilde Goose of Stratford, along with the rest of the Oxfrauds.