The new movie Chappaquiddick is getting positive reviews. There’s a conventional view of the Chappaquiddick affair, and an alternative view. The alternative view seems far more plausible to me, but no one is mentioning it. The movie takes the conventional view, and reviews of the movie seem unaware that there’s a more plausible explanation.
The conventional view says that Ted Kennedy, a mature man with lots of life experience and driving experience, a man driving his own car (or a family car), drove off a bridge. Very unlikely. The alternative view says that Kennedy got out of the car a couple minutes before the accident because he noticed a policeman pursuing and didn’t want to be caught with a young woman late at night. He then made his way back to the party or his hotel, and didn’t learn about the accident until the next morning. Guests at the hotel said that he was calm and cheerful the next morning, until he learned about the accident.
|Back at his hotel, Kennedy complained at 2:55 a.m. to the hotel owner that he had been awakened by a noisy party. By 7:30 a.m., he was talking “casually” to the winner of the previous day’s sailing race and gave no indication that anything was amiss.1|
He didn’t know that anything was amiss because he wasn’t involved in the accident. Kopechne was alone in the car, she was driving a car that wasn’t hers, the seat wasn’t adjusted for her, she was scared because a policeman was following, she wasn’t familiar with the area, she had far less driving experience than Kennedy, she drove off the bridge and suffocated. That’s plausible.
The conventional view says that Kennedy could get himself out of the car, but he couldn’t get Kopechne out, and Kopechne couldn’t get herself out. It’s more likely, in my view, that both would escape, or neither would escape. The diver who found Kopechne’s body said that she had lived for several hours before suffocating from lack of oxygen. Surely Kennedy wouldn’t abandon a woman who was still alive, surely he would try to rescue her, get help from the police, etc. Kennedy was, after all, a human being, not a monster, not a cold-blooded killer.
The conventional view is that Kennedy failed to get Kopechne out, didn’t seek help from the authorities, and returned to his hotel or to the party. Extremely unlikely. The alternative view says that he didn’t alert the authorities because he was unaware of the accident until the next morning. Far more likely.
If the alternative view is true, why did Kennedy and his handlers put out a false story that made him look bad? They decided, in my view, that the true story would make him look even worse than the false story. They chose to say that he abandoned Kopechne after making repeated attempts to save her; they didn’t want to say that he abandoned her as soon as he noticed a policeman following his car. (When he first saw the policeman, the policeman was walking toward his car, so Kennedy had time to drive off, and get out of the car — the policeman wasn’t close behind.)
Once I explained my Chappaquiddick theory to someone, and I was told, “No one cares about Chappaquiddick.” Now it appears that people do care — they care enough to make a movie about it. It would be more accurate to say, “No one cares about the truth about Chappaquiddick, they only care about the surface, the appearance.”
Commentary about the movie seems to blindly accept the conventional view, but Wikipedia presents both views. Wikipedia describes the alternative theory thus:
|Writer Jack Olsen... in his book The Bridge at Chappaquiddick, published early in 1970.... wrote that Kopechne’s shorter height (she was 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m), a foot (30 cm) shorter than Kennedy) could have accounted for her possibly not even seeing the bridge, as she drove Kennedy’s car over unfamiliar roads, at night, with no external lighting, after she had consumed several alcoholic drinks at the party both had attended. Olsen wrote that Kopechne normally drove a smaller Volkswagen model car, which was much lighter and easier to handle than Kennedy’s larger Oldsmobile.|
Nowadays it may be impossible for the alternative view to gain a hearing. Political Correctness stifles discussion. If someone defends the alternative view, they’ll be asked, “You don’t think women can drive? You don’t think men have accidents?”
The Chappaquiddick Affair, like the Shakespeare Affair, raises two of the deepest questions in philosophy: Can man reach truth? Does he want to reach truth?
In 1595, an obscure English poet named Thomas Edwards published an epic poem called Narcissus. One complete copy of the Edwards book survived, and was re-published in 1882. Narcissus had a postscript or “envoy,” and this envoy mentioned several contemporary poets, referring to them by the names of characters in their poems. Marlowe, for example, is referred to as “Leander,” Spenser as “Collyn,” and Shakespeare as “Adon” (Adonis).
The last poet Edwards mentions isn’t give any name. He’s described thus:
in purple robes distained...
I have heard say doth remain,
One whose power floweth far,
That should have been of our rhyme,
The only object and the star.
Well could his bewitching pen,
Done the Muses objects to us,
Although he differs much from men,
Tilting under Frieries,
Yet his golden art might woo us,
To have honored him with bays.
Who is this poet? Wikipedia says, “A mysterious poet ‘in purple robes’ praised at the end of the list has not been convincingly identified.” Writing in the late 1800s (before the Oxford Theory was discovered), the critic Edward Dowden said that the Earl of Oxford might be the mystery poet:
|Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, may have been intended, as his reputation stood high as a Poet, and Patron of Poets. Puttenham names him first among the crew of courtly makers.... Spenser has a Sonnet to him, in which he speaks of “the love that thou didst bear to th’ Heliconian Nymphs, and they to thee.” His “power flowed far,” as he was Lord High Chamberlain of England.|
Dowden might have added that Edwards’ phrase “the only object and the star” reminds us of Oxford’s coat-of-arms, which had one star:
Another critic, W. E. Buckley, also writing before the advent of the Oxford Theory, said that the purple-robed poet
|must have been a person of noble birth [and] of high natural and acquired mental accomplishments.... If “purple robes” may mean a Nobleman’s robes, it gives some color to the conjecture of Professor Dowden that Vere, Earl of Oxford, may have been intended, as his reputation stood high as a poet, and a patron of poets.2|
The word “distained” suggests a poet who’s in disgrace, as Oxford was. Edwards says that the mystery poet “should have been” his “only object” but something has prevented that — scandal, perhaps, or Oxford’s concealment behind a pseudonym.
Stratfordians might argue, “Edwards mentions a purple-robed poet — Oxford. Edwards also mentions Adon/Shakespeare — a different poet. Ergo, Oxford isn’t Shakespeare.” Oxfordians will respond, “Adon is described as ‘deafly masking through,’ which suggests concealment, suggests that he’s a mask for someone else. And the line ‘Showed he well deserved to,’ which Edwards applies to Adon/Shakespeare, makes no sense, except as an anagram for ‘Edward de Vere.’ (We don’t regard anagrams as worthy of a serious writer, but the Elizabethans were fond of them.)”
Edwards says of the purple-robed poet that “he differs much from men, tilting under Frieries.” “Frieries” likely refers to Blackfriars, and “Tilting under Frieries” likely refers to Oxford’s sword-fights in the Blackfriars district.
Blackfriars was named after the Dominican order. Wikipedia says,
|In England and other countries the Dominican friars are referred to as “Black Friars” because of the black cappa or cloak they wear over their white habits. Dominicans were “Blackfriars”, as opposed to “Whitefriars” (i.e., Carmelites) or “Greyfriars” (i.e., Franciscans).|
Dominican monk with black cloak over white habit
Even after the monastic orders were dissolved, the Blackfriars district retained its special legal status; it was “legally an enclave or ‘liberty’ free from the jurisdiction of London civil authorities.”3 Because it was outside the law, Blackfriars was used for theaters, duels, and other suspect activities. (James Burbage built a theater in the Benedictine district of Holywell. When Hamilton and Burr decided to have a duel, they went across the Hudson to New Jersey, to get beyond the reach of NewYorkCity law.)
Oxford’s duel at Blackfriars was part of a lengthy quarrel, and left him permanently lame.
|The most notorious of all Elizabethan feuds at Blackfriars was the 1582-83 contretemps between Oxford’s men and the retainers of Henry Howard, Charles Arundel, Thomas Knyvet and Thomas Vavasour; ignited by both personal and religious motives, the altercation became the most intense and infamous internecine quarrel of Elizabethan England.... A series of bloody public encounters, the result of a quarrel lasting four years (1581-85), eventuated in several deaths and more wounded. [One scholar wrote,] “The streets of London were filled with the quarrelling clamours of these new Montagues and Capulets”.... The affair at Blackfriars was one of those great events that impressed itself on the memory of an entire generation.... It was one of the most infamous events of the 1580s.4|
When I read “he differs much from men, tilting under Frieries,” I thought it meant that Oxford was tilting/fencing, and he differed from other men because he was aloof, eccentric. Stritmatter argues, however, that the passage means “Oxford is different, he’s not like those brawlers at Blackfriars.” The author, Edwards, knew that Oxford was part of the brawls, but he pretended otherwise:
|Historical accuracy [Stritmatter writes] was not a consideration; protocol required Edwards to distinguish sharply between the aristocrat with the “golden art” and his irresponsible retainers who had involved his name in the feud.|
Though I initially took a different view, I now believe that Stritmatter’s interpretation is correct.
Is there a more dramatic event in the history of literature than the great poet “tilting under frieries,” fighting for his life? What a dramatic life he led! A Shakespearean life! And what a contrast with the Stratford man, whom A. L. Rowse described as “this busy, prudent, discreet man... with his good nature and good business sense”!
Another obscure poet who mentioned Shakespeare was John Weever, who published a volume of Epigrams in 1599. One of these epigrams (Week IV, Epigram 11) is titled “In Spurium quendam scriptorem” (To a Certain Spurious Poet), suggesting that the real author is using a pseudonym.
Apelles did so paint fair Venus Queen,
That most supposed he had fair Venus seen.
But thy bald rhymes of Venus savor so,
That I dare swear thou dost all Venus know.
The subject of this epigram is very likely Shakespeare, since his Venus and Adonis (1593) was a popular work, re-printed several times. This epigram suggests that Shakespeare is a spurious poet (spurium scriptorem), a pseudonym for the real poet. This epigram suggests an affair between the real poet and Venus. But who is the model for Venus? And did she really have an affair with the poet? In his introduction, Weever invites us to apply his epigrams to the contemporary scene: “Epigrams are much like unto Almanacs serving especially for the year which they are made.”
Another epigram (Week IV, Epigram 22) is titled “Ad Gulielmum Shakespeare” (To William Shakespeare):
Honey-tongued Shakespeare when I saw thine issue
I swore Apollo got them and none other,
Their rosy-tainted features clothed in tissue,
Some heaven-born goddess said to be their mother.
Alexander Waugh, grandson of Evelyn Waugh and a leading Oxfordian, thinks that this epigram is poking fun at Shakespeare’s child — more specifically, the pedigree of Shakespeare’s child. Like other literary people of the time, Weever knows that “Shakespeare” is a pen name, Shakespeare is a spurium scriptorem. So when Weever pokes fun at Shakespeare’s “issue,” he’s poking fun at Oxford’s issue.5
“But couldn’t ‘thine issue’ refer to literary works? How do you know it refers to an actual child?” If Weever were referring to literary works, it’s unlikely he would discuss their father, their mother, and their “rosy-tainted features.”
If “thine issue” refers to an actual child, Oxford’s child, why was the pedigree of this child a subject of satire and scandal? Could this scandal explain why, in Edwards’ poem, Oxford is “distained”?
In a long lecture, Alexander Waugh argues that Oxford was desperate for an heir. He had three daughters from his first marriage, but he wanted a male heir to carry on the earldom. He was the 17th Earl of Oxford, and he wanted an 18th. But unfortunately he couldn’t have a child with his second wife (Waugh argues), perhaps because of the injury he sustained in the Blackfriars brawl, perhaps because his second wife couldn’t bear a child.6 How can Oxford acquire an heir if he can’t have a child himself?
In an earlier issue, I discussed the Prince Tudor Theory, which says that Oxford had an illegitimate child in 1573. This child grew up in the home of the 2nd Earl of Southampton. When the 2nd Earl died in 1581, Oxford’s child became the 3rd Earl of Southampton, also known as Henry Wriothesley.
Oxfordians who subscribe to the Prince Tudor Theory believe that Oxford had paternal feelings for Southampton. Oxford dedicated his two narrative poems (Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece) to Southampton, and Southampton is the Fair Youth of the sonnets. Waugh argues that Oxford tried to persuade Southampton to beget a child — the first 17 sonnets urge Southampton to procreate, but don’t mention marriage or a wife.
If Southampton fathered a male child, it could be raised by Oxford and his second wife, and could become the 18th Earl of Oxford. But who would be the mother?
Waugh argues that the mother was Penelope Rich, sister of Southampton’s close friend, the Earl of Essex. Penelope Rich had some twelve children, half with her husband (Robert Rich), and half with her boyfriend (Charles Blount). Waugh thinks that Penelope is the Dark Lady of the sonnets; she had black eyes; she loved the color black, and chose it for furniture, clothes, etc.7 She seems to have had affairs with both Oxford and Southampton; in the sonnets, the Dark Lady seems to be intimate with both the Poet and the Fair Youth. Waugh doesn’t try to explain why Penelope would agree to bear an heir for Oxford.
Waugh thinks that the pedigree of Oxford’s son became public knowledge, and became a scandal. Oxford became the butt of jokes, and the target of epigrams like Weever’s. Oxford apparently laughed at himself, and depicted his own situation in a self-deprecating way. In Troilus and Cressida, Lord Pandarus tries to persuade his niece, Cressida, to have a child with Troilus. Pandarus tells Cressida, “If my lord get a boy of you, you’ll give him me.” (III, ii, 104). Pandarus is disgraced, as Oxford was. Troilus says to Pandarus, “Hence, broker, lackey! Ignomy and shame pursue thy life, and live aye with thy name!” At the end of the play, Pandarus, alone, says “Thus is the poor agent despised.” (V, xi, 38)
In the Sonnets, Oxford frequently mentions his disgrace. In Sonnet 29, he says, “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, and look upon myself and curse my fate...” In Sonnet 72, he writes, “My name be buried where my body is, and live no more to shame nor me nor you.” In Sonnet 111, he speaks of “my harmful deeds... my name receives a brand.” In Sonnet 112, he speaks of, “Vulgar scandal stamped upon my brow.” How can Stratfordians explain this theme? Their man had risen from humble origins to become affluent and famous.8
Waugh points out that the first 17 sonnets urge the Fair Youth (Southampton) to have a child, but they don’t mention marriage. Then in Sonnet 18, it seems that the deed is done, the child is born, the poet stops urging procreation, the Fair Youth has made himself immortal by having a child. “Thy eternal summer shall not fade.” Waugh notes the symbolism of the 18th sonnet celebrating the birth of the 18th Earl of Oxford. (This sort of number symbolism may be unappealing to modern readers, but Elizabethans were attracted to it, as they were attracted to anagrams.)
Southampton and Ox18 had “a deep personal relationship and became close political allies,”9 just as Ox17 and Southampton had a deep personal relationship. Both relationships were probably father-son relationships.
Waugh discusses William Covell’s Polimanteia (1595). Covell was Weever’s teacher at Cambridge, so if Weever knew the secret of Ox18’s parentage, it’s likely that Covell knew it, too. In Polimanteia, Covell writes, “Register your children’s pedigree in Fame’s forehead,” a possible reference to Ox18’s strange pedigree, and the scandal surrounding it. In the same sentence, Covell seems to mention all three participants in the Ox18 scandal — Penelope Rich, Southampton, and Oxford. Let’s look at that obscure sentence (I’ve marked it with red brackets):
Now let’s look at just one part of the sentence, the part that’s especially interesting to Shakespeare scholars:
Within the above passage, Waugh found a “text triangle” that had escaped scholars for centuries. Let’s look at this text triangle:
Modern readers may not find text triangles (and other text shapes) interesting, but the Elizabethans were interested in text triangles, as they were interested in anagrams and number symbolism. If we look at the bottom line within the triangle, we see “courte-deare-verse,” which seems meaningless. Waugh argues that it’s an anagram for “Our de Vere a secret,” and he notes that it lines up with the marginal note “Sweet Shak-speare.”
At the top of the triangle, Delia lines up with the marginal note “All praise worthy,” which Waugh argues is an anagram for Wriothesley (Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton).10 Cleopatra represents Penelope Rich, hence she’s called “fortunately fortunate Cleopatra.” Since the real Cleopatra was defeated in battle and committed suicide, she wouldn’t be called “fortunately fortunate.” But Penelope Rich was often called “fortunate” since “fortune” is related to “Rich”. John Davies wrote
To the Right Noble Lady, the Lady Rich
To descant on thy name as many do...
to be rich was to be Fortunate,
As all esteemed, and yet though so thou art,
Thou wast much more then most unfortunate....11
So it’s clear that Penelope Rich was sometimes called “fortunate,” and therefore when Covell calls Cleopatra “fortunately fortunate,” we suspect that Cleopatra represents Penelope Rich.
Waugh says that Samuel Daniel’s play Cleopatra alludes to the pedigree of Ox18. (In other words, Daniel’s play refers to the Penelope-Southampton affair, which produced an illegitimate son, a son who was given to the 17th Earl of Oxford, and grew up to be the 18th Earl of Oxford.) In Daniel’s play, Cleopatra’s reputation has been besmirched by immoral conduct (as Penelope’s was); Cleopatra has had a child, a boy, out of wedlock; Cleopatra must give up her boy. Cleopatra calls the boy “worthy,” a play on Henry Wriothesley:
Well, worthy son, and worthily the son
Of such a father and in this thou show’st
From whence thou came, I say no more, be gone,
Grow in thy virtue, as in years thou grow’st.
Cleopatra also says: “Let me speak, perhaps it is the last that ever I shall speak to thee, my son.... Parting from thee, I part from part of me.... To send away this dearest part of me....” If Cleopatra is Penelope Rich, and if her son is Ox18, then she is indeed parting from him permanently.
As we saw above, Waugh argues that there’s a text triangle in Covell’s Polimanteia. This triangle contains three italicized names: Delia (Southampton), Cleopatra (Penelope Rich), and Oxford (the Earl of Oxford). Within this text triangle is a smaller triangle:
At the top of this smaller triangle is Oxford, at the bottom is an anagram for “de Vere.”
Some people object,
|How can Penelope Rich be both the Dark Lady and the mother of Ox18? If she’s the mother of Ox18, wouldn’t Ox17 be grateful to her — grateful to her for giving him what he wanted most, a male heir? In the Sonnets, however, Ox17 calls the Dark Lady “as black as hell, as dark as night” (Sonnet 147). Do these words fit a woman who had done so much for the poet?|
My response: Relationships change over time. Ox17 probably knew Penelope for several decades. They probably loved each other at one time, and hated each other at another time. As Freud said, love often turns into hate, and vice versa.
Furthermore, Penelope Rich doesn’t have to be both the mother of Ox18 and the Dark Lady. Perhaps she was the mother of Ox18, but not the Dark Lady. Perhaps Waugh’s theory is partly correct, partly incorrect.
Let’s go back to Polimanteia. We mentioned above that in the margin, we find “Sweet Shak-speare”. Just below that is the marginal note “Eloquent Gaveston”. Waugh says that “Eloquent Gaveston” refers to a poem by Michael Drayton. This poem depicts a Lord, “Edward,” who’s fond of a younger man. Waugh believes that the Lord represents Edward de Vere, and the younger man (who’s compared to Adonis), represents Southampton. The Lord bestows gifts on the younger man, and urges him to marry into the Lord’s family (as Southampton was urged to marry Oxford’s daughter). The Lord offers to make the younger man “High Chamberlain”; Oxford’s title was Lord Great Chamberlain.
Willobie His Avisa (1594) depicts two men, W.S. and H.W., discussing how to win the favors of a woman named Avisa. Waugh believes that W.S. is William Shakespeare (i.e., Ox17), H.W. is Henry Wriothesley (Southampton), and Avisa is Penelope Rich. Willobie His Avisa repeatedly mentions the wife of Odysseus, Penelope (“Renowned chaste Penelope,” “The wandering Greek’s renowned mate,” etc.). Avisa is a married woman, she’s been married ten years; this fits Penelope Rich.12 W.S. is called an “old player,” which fits the 43-year-old Oxford, but not the 29-year-old Stratford man. W.S. paraphrases poems that Oxford published under the name “Earl of Oxford.” For example, W.S. says,
You must be secret, constant free,
Your silent sighs and trickling tears
This echoes Oxford’s
The trickling tears, that fall along my cheeks,
The secret sighs that show my inward grief.13
Southampton, like his father Ox17, was drawn to all things Italian, and took Italian lessons from John Florio. In Willobie, “H.W. ends all of his epistles to Avisa with Italian phrases, seven of which are found in John Florio’s Giardino de Recreatione.”14
“H.W. is presented as receiving W.S.’s endorsement of the seduction of his own mistress. Willobie even has W.S. play the role of procurer, actually encouraging H.W.”15 This fits the idea that Oxford is encouraging Southampton to beget a child, beget Ox18. The mother of this child would be Oxford’s mistress, or former mistress, Penelope Rich.
There are multiple suitors approaching Avisa. How do we know that the author’s main theme is Southampton’s approach to Avisa/Penelope? The Stratfordian Pauline Angell writes,
|The stanzas in which H. W. wooes Avisa comprise about a third of the book. Not only is a disproportionate amount of space given to his wooing, but two passages in prose are interpolated which describe the personal idiosyncracies of H. W. with a thoroughness not found in the treatment of any of the other suitors. This indicates that the presentation of the suit of H. W. was of paramount importance and that his recognition by the reader was particularly desired by the author of the libel.16|
Some Oxfordians equate Avisa with Queen Elizabeth, and the Dark Lady with Queen Elizabeth. But if Oxford and Southampton had affairs with the same woman (as suggested by Willobie and the Sonnets), this woman is unlikely to be Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth was 40 years older than Southampton (she was born in 1533, Southampton in 1573). Penelope Rich, on the other hand, was born in 1563, so she could have had affairs with Oxford (born 1550) and Southampton (born 1573).16B
Like Willobie, Sonnet 42 suggests a love triangle — the poet and the Fair Youth loving the same woman:
That thou hast her it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;
That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly....
If I lose thee, my loss is my love’s gain,
And losing her, my friend hath found that loss....
But here’s the joy; my friend and I are one;
Sweet flattery! then she loves but me alone.
The final couplet makes sense if Shakespeare is Southampton’s father; “my friend and I are one” suggests a father-son situation.
Sonnet 144 also suggests a love triangle. Now, however, the poet’s love for Penelope, which was cooling in Sonnet 42, has cooled still further, and has begun to mix with hate:
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman colour’d ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil,
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
So the love triangle in Willobie resembles the love triangle in the Sonnets. In both cases, the poet (W.S.) is passing his former mistress to a younger man (H.W.).
Waugh discusses John Marston’s 1598 poem about Pygmalion. In this poem, Oxford is apparently referrred to as “Labeo.” “Labeo” is Quintus Fabius Labeo, a Roman aristocrat-poet. The Roman historian Suetonius says that the plays of Terence may have been written by Labeo. Suetonius says that, while still a young man, Terence left Rome permanently, perhaps to “escape from the gossip about publishing the work of others as his own.” So Elizabethan writers sometimes referred to Oxford as “Labeo,” since Oxford used the Stratford man as Labeo used Terence. And they sometimes referred to the Stratford man as “Terence.”17
John Davies, for example, speaks of “our English Terence, Mr William Shake-speare.” Waugh calls our attention to John Davies’ Epigrams — more specifically, to the titles of Epigrams 156-160:
Epig. 156: To my well accomplish’d friend Mr Ben Jonson
Epig. 157: To my much esteemed Mr Inego Jones
Epig. 158: To my worthy kinde friend Mr Isacke Simonds
Epig. 159: To our English Terence Mr William Shake-speare
Epig. 160: To his most constant, though most unknown friend: No-body
Oxfordians have long argued that the hyphenated “Shake-speare” is always a pseudonym; when it’s a real name, it’s never hyphenated.
As I mentioned above, Marston speaks of “Labeo” in his Pygmalion poem. But before we look more closely at Pygmalion, let’s quickly look at another reference to Labeo. Joseph Hall wrote a poem called Virgidemiarum (A Bundle of Rods, 1597), in which he says,
Labeo is whipped and laughs me in the face...
Long as the crafty cuttle lieth sure
In the black cloud of his thick vomiture;
Who list complain of wronged faith or fame
When he may shift it to another’s name?
Hall is probably referring to Oxford as Labeo, a crafty cuttlefish, who hides within a “black cloud” of ink, and shifts embarrassments to “another’s name.”
Now let’s come back to Marston’s Pygmalion. Oxford was known for his popular poem Venus and Adonis, in which Venus tries to seduce Adonis. Venus asks Adonis, “Art thou obdurate, flinty, hard as steel?” Marston alludes to this passage in his Pygmalion poem. Marston says that Labeo/Oxford got a boy by a strange metamorphosis, as Pygmalion had gotten a boy by a strange metamorphosis:
And in the end...
Pygmalion hath a jolly boy begot.
So Labeo did complain his love was stone,
Obdurate, flinty, so relentless none:
Yet Lynceus knows, that in the end of this,
He wrought as strange a metamorphosis.
According to Waugh, Marston refers to himself as “Lynceus,” the sharp-eyed one who sees the secret doings.18
Waugh calls our attention to the dedication of Venus and Adonis, in which the poet addresses Southampton: “if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a god-father.” Why does the poet use the strange phrase “heir of my invention”? Is he referring to Southampton’s role as the father of the poet’s heir, the father of Ox18?
Waugh also mentions the dedication of the Sonnets: “To the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets Mr. W. H.” When Southampton was arrested for his role in the Essex Rebellion, he was stripped of his titles, and became Mr. W. H. (Wriothesley, Henry). The Sonnets urge the Fair Youth (Southampton) to beget. The 18th Sonnet, as we saw earlier, celebrates begetting. This explains, according to Waugh, why the Sonnets are dedicated to “the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets Mr. W. H.”
Before we leave John Marston’s writings, we should mention a passage in which Marston refers to Oxford’s concealment behind “Shakespeare”:
Far fly thy fame,
Most, most of me beloved, whose silent name
One letter bounds. Thy true judicial style
I ever honor, and if my love beguile
Not much my hopes, then thy unvalu’d worth
Shall mount fair place when Apes are turned forth.
Edward de Vere’s name was indeed bound by a single letter, the letter e. His “worth” was suppressed by a scandal and a pseudonym, but will eventually “mount fair place”.
And Shakespeare thou, whose honey-flowing Vaine....
(Pleasing the World) thy Praises doth obtain.
Whose Venus, and whose Lucrece (sweet, and chaste)
Thy Name in fames immortal Book have placed.
Live ever you, at least in Fame live ever:
Well may the Body die, but Fame dies never.
How were the works of Shakespeare/Oxford preserved and handed down? Oxford’s manuscripts were probably in the hands of his wife, Elizabeth Trentham, and his heir, Henry de Vere. Thirty-six of Oxford’s plays were published in the First Folio (1623); about eighteen hadn’t been published before. The First Folio was dedicated to the Herbert brothers, Philip and William, and probably financed by them. Philip Herbert was married to Susan de Vere, Ox17’s daughter, and William Herbert had been engaged to Susan’s sister, Bridget. The Herbert brothers were “close political allies”19 of the two Henrys, Henry de Vere and Henry Wriothesley. The Herbert brothers were also patrons of Ben Jonson.
All these people together — The Herberts, the Henrys, and Ben Jonson — published the First Folio to preserve Oxford’s works, while at the same time concealing Oxford’s authorship, and concealing the parentage of the two Henrys. The First Folio didn’t include, or even mention, the Sonnets or the narrative poems (Venus and Adonis and Lucrece) since these were the works in which the parentage of the Henrys was alluded to. Troilus and Cressida touches on the parentage issue, so the publishers of the First Folio were conflicted about it; it was “originally intended to follow Romeo and Juliet, but the typesetting was stopped.... It does not appear in the table of contents.”20
The two Henrys wouldn’t want their parentage discussed, their legitimacy questioned. But they also didn’t want the Stratford man to get credit for Oxford’s immortal works. The two Henrys knew that, while parentage was a delicate subject in 1623, it would fade into insignificance in the future; they wanted to suppress the truth in the short run, but not in the long run.
The First Folio is the product of these mixed motives. As James Boswell said in 1821, there’s “something fishy” about the First Folio. The engraving of Shakespeare on the title page is
|perversely uncoordinated.... “Damn the original portrait,” declared the art historian Gainsborough, “I never saw a stupider face. It is impossible that such a mind and such rare talent should shine with such a face and such a pair of eyes.”21|
The Stratfordian Samuel Schoenbaum admitted that “[the Droeshout engraving’s] deficiencies are, alas, only too gross.” Gross and fishy, a product of mixed motives.
And then there’s Ben Jonson’s prefatory poem, which undermines the engraving and says, “Reader, look not on his picture, but his book.” In the words of Stratfordian Leah Marcus, the First Folio “sets readers off on a treasure hunt for the author.”22 Those who published the First Folio wanted to start a treasure hunt!
If you’ve read this whole essay carefully, I stand in awe of your diligence, take my hat off to you, and bow my head most humbly. This has been a long treasure hunt, and you must be very glad it’s ending.
I think Stratfordians will exult at this essay: “What zany theories these Oxfordians put forward! Surely they deserve to be the laughing-stock of the scholarly world! They find illegitimate children everywhere!”
Many Oxfordians will complain about this essay: “You’ve muddied the water, you’ve created confusion, you’ve brought discredit on the Oxford Theory. We should keep it simple, we should focus on the question, ‘Who wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare?’ Don’t get distracted by Ox18’s parentage, Ox17’s parentage, and Southampton’s parentage. Leave parentage alone, focus on authorship!”
My response: We can’t always choose what we write about. We often become intrigued by a subject against our will, and must write about it to clear our own mind. Furthermore, an essay like this can be a platform for further study. Specialists in EarlyModern literature may be intrigued by examples of anagrams, text triangles, etc. Scholars interested in codes and hidden meanings (Straussians, for example) might be interested in this material. Oxfordians shouldn’t become preoccupied with reputation and respectability, we should be willing to pursue truth into dark corners, disreputable corners.
We discussed about 90% of the pre-1600 references to Shakespeare. It’s remarkable how many of these references allude to Oxford (and Southampton and Penelope). The true identity of “Shakespeare” was clearly an open secret; no one in the literary world equated “Shakespeare” with the Stratford man.
|2.||See “‘Tilting Under Frieries’: Narcissus (1595) and the Affair At Blackfriars,” by Roger Stritmatter, Cahiers Élisabéthains, Autumn 2006, journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.7227/CE.70.1.6
Alexander Waugh thinks that Edwards’ line “Stately tropes rich conceited” is a reference to Penelope Rich. Waugh thinks that Penelope Rich was the Dark Lady of the sonnets, and the mistress of both Oxford and Southampton. The original spelling is “troupes” but I think tropes is intended, and I think a reference to Penelope Rich is likely. The poet’s own name is sometimes spelled “Edwardes”.
Waugh co-edited a book called Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?, which is a collection of recent Oxfordian essays. Waugh “has presented documentaries on BBC TV, was editor and founder of the Travelman Short Story series and composed the music for the award-winning Bon Voyage! He is presently editing the complete works of his grandfather Evelyn Waugh for OUP — in 42 volumes!”
|5.||Waugh argues that it isn’t just chance that Weever’s “spurium scriptorem” is in Epigram 11, and Shakespeare is in Epigram 22. The numbers 11 and 22 are connected, and Weever is trying to connect Epigram 11 and Epigram 22, he’s trying to say that the “spurium scriptorem” is Shakespeare. back|
|6.||It’s worth noting that Oxford and his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham, had only one child (Ox18). Isn’t one a small number for that time, a small number compared to the number of children that Oxford had with his first wife? If Oxford and Trentham were capable of making babies, isn’t it likely they’d have more than one?|
Waugh’s lecture was delivered at the 2015 Oxfordian conference, held in Ashland, Oregon. The lecture is 1 hour, 48 minutes long. back
|7.||A 19th-century critic named Gerald Massey proposed Penelope as the Dark Lady. More than ten years ago, I noted that Massey was a perceptive reader of the Sonnets.|
If Henry Wriothesley was the father of Ox18, that might explain why Ox18 was named Henry. “There had never been an Earl of Oxford named Henry.” (John Hamill) Southampton didn’t name either of his legitimate sons “Henry,” perhaps because his son by Penelope had been named “Henry.”
Hank Whittemore’s Monument Theory, which I discussed in an earlier issue, focuses on sonnets 27-126, while the Penelope Theory focuses on the sonnets before 27 and after 126. So I don’t think Hank’s theory is in conflict with the Penelope Theory; one can be both a Penelopist and a Monumentarian.
|8.||The disgrace affects not only Ox17 but also the Fair Youth (Southampton). In Sonnet 95, we find “How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, doth spot the beauty of thy budding name! O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose! That tongue that tells the story of thy days, making lascivious comments on thy sport.” Waugh might say, “Since the poet’s shame is caused by the Penelope-Southampton affair, it’s not surprising that this shame taints Southampton, and that Southampton’s ‘budding name’ is spotted.” back|
|9.||John Hamill back|
|10.||Why does Covell refer to Southampton as “Delia”? Waugh’s explanation is somewhat strained. He says that Samuel Daniel wrote a series of sonnets to a woman named Delia; Delia was Daniel’s muse. Polimanteia speaks of “Daniel, whose sweet refined muse, in contracted shape...” Waugh argues that if Daniel’s muse is Delia, and contracting Delia gives us DLA or Diella, that leads us to the Diella Sonnets, which Waugh argues were written by Southampton. Waugh has more to say on this subject, but I can’t follow his reasoning.|
Waugh mentions several anagrams in which Wriothesley becomes worthy or praiseworthy or all praiseworthy. He says that these anagrams were explicity stated to be anagrams for Wriothesley. Doubtless Waugh has developed a knack for spotting anagrams, and this enabled him to spot “courte-deare-verse.” back
|11.||Penelope Rich couldn’t complain that the writers of her day ignored her — indeed, they seemed to write about nothing else. Waugh says that Penelope Rich is the model for Venus in Venus and Adonis, Lucrece in The Rape of Lucrece, the Dark Lady in the Sonnets, Stella in Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella, Avisa in Willobie His Avisa, Rosamond in Samuel Daniel’s Complaint of Rosamond, Cleopatra in Samuel Daniel’s Cleopatra, etc. back|
|12.||Waugh says that Dr. Ian Wilson equated Avisa with Penelope Rich. Wilson wrote a novel, Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, about a scholar searching for the Dark Lady. Michael Mooten strengthened Wilson’s argument in his essay “Willobie His Avisa Decoded.”|
Willobie was part of a series of libels, a series that included a work called Penelope’s Complaint (1596). Angell describes Penelope’s Complaint as “an attack on the morals of Lady Penelope Rich.” (See Angell, pp. 671, 672)
In Willobie, “It appears on the face of it that the suit of H. W. failed in spite of the trenchant advice to which he is treated by W. S. Yet the stanzas in which he is repulsed are accompanied by marginal notes referring to passages in the Bible which describe a woman who brought forth a man child... a woman who was with child by whoredom, and a man who stole his neighbor’s wife.” (Angell, p. 667) The use of marginal notes to reveal secrets reminds one of Polimanteia.
Angell thinks that Willobie contains something shameful to Oxford. After its initial printing in 1594, Willobie wasn’t re-printed until 1605, a year after Oxford’s death. Then it was printed a third time in 1609, the year the Sonnets were printed. “This lends color to the theory that the libel concerned Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.” (Angell, p. 652) back
|13.||From Oxford’s poem, “A lover rejected, complaineth”; quoted in John Hamill’s essay back|
|14.||John Hamill back|
|15.||John Hamill back|
|16.||“Light on the Dark Lady: A Study of Some Elizabethan Libels,” Pauline K. Angell, PMLA, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Sep., 1937), pp. 652-674, jstor.org/stable/458667 back|
|16B.||Sonnet 144 suggests an affair between Southampton and the Dark Lady:
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
|17.||Terence’s retirement from Rome reminds us of Mr. Stratford’s retirement from London. back|
|18.||Waugh concludes his lecture with some remarks on Venus and Adonis. When Adonis is slain by the boar, his blood is spilled, and grows up into a flower. In most versions of the myth, the flower is an anemone. But Shakespeare says “a purple flower sprung up, checkered with white.” Waugh says this is a meleagris flower, named after a bird with similar markings. The bird is also called a guinea hen or penelope. So Waugh thinks that the poet has chosen this flower because of its association with Penelope (Waugh also argues that the meleagris flower is associated with Oxford and Southampton).|
Waugh says that, in Venus and Adonis, Venus represents Penelope Rich, Adonis represents Southampton, and the boar represents Oxford. Waugh reminds us that the boar was the symbol of the Oxford family. Waugh says that, in Venus and Adonis, the boar is mentioned 17 times, and the poet is the 17th Earl of Oxford. back
|19.||John Hamill back|
|20.||Wikipedia. Another motive behind the First Folio may have been to foster English national pride at the time of the Spanish Match. (See Stritmatter/Dickson) back|
|21.||Roger Stritmatter, Amazon review of Leah Marcus’ Puzzling Shakespeare back|