Edward De Vere's Concealed Authorship
of the Shakespeare Canon
and the Necessary Taboos of Blind Belief

 

The Problem

The weakening of the Stratford myth in English literary scholarship presents us with a stirring history of the power of mythology over the minds of, putatively, the primary force for logical inquiry in Western discourse, the academic establishment.

Looked at through the political lens, though, and focussing on the utter dependence of the Academy upon the manners, values, and material support of the dominant political class, it becomes much easier to understand why the myth of Everyman striding along the road to London with the greatest vision of existence since Sophocles in his eyes would beguile contradiction and warm all hearts, including the scholar's.

Ralph Waldo Emerson recognized the snares and pits before the American scholar as inherent in the personality-set itself:

Whoever looks at the insect world, at flies, aphides, gnats, and innumerable parasites, and even at the infant mammals, must have remarked the extreme content they take in suction, which constitutes the main business of their life. If we go into a library or newsroom we see the same function on a higher plane, performed with like ardor, with equal impatience of interruption indicating the sweetness of the act. ('Quotation and Originality')

He proceeded, in 'The American Scholar', to hope for the time when "...the sluggard intellect of this continent will look from under its iron eyelids, and fill the postponed expectation of the world with something better than the exercise of mechanical skill."

It is simply clan instinct to believe and cogitate in terms that are acceptable, to fit in, to feed and run with the herd, to sniff which way the wind is blowing, sense what direction the closest hooves are shifting, as it is very often a matter of personal advantage and survival. Rebellion can be fatal to iconoclasts. On the other hand, clay pots crack and crash on their own after a time.

In the case of the Shakespeare authorship question, such is the documentation contradicting a literary life for Shakspere and such was the expedient and then posthumous anonymity on the part of Edward De Vere, whose language, life, and station correspond intimately with the Shakespeare Canon that, after centuries of frauds, subterfuge, and political excisions, now a kind of brittle dismissiveness appears to be the defense of the prevailing but weakly evidenced narrative.

The academic refusal to debate who "Shakespeare" actually was, on evidentiary grounds, exhibits the ultimate, the atom bomb, of early childhood resistence, denial. Granted the stakes in terms of professional status are high, should the strategy of resistance fail. We need hardly mention economic ramifications, for instance adjustments in the Stratford-on-Avon industry, long ago typed lectures that must be abandoned, and revised historical texts if the De Vere paradigm gains credence. As Upton Sinclair wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding."

For mainly non-academic researchers to deal with so powerful a set of social entrenchments amounts to reversing De Vere's politically necessary concealments, by openly but equably flooding discussion with the factual truth, and trusting in Schopenhauer's dictum, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

The Approach

T.S. Eliot described the Sonnets in a single sentence: "This autobiography is written by a foreign man in a foreign tongue, which can never be translated." A.L. Rowse added that the Sonnets "offer us the greatest puzzle in the history of English literature." Since the Sonnets are the bare thoughts of a Renaissance genius appealing to his lord with all the art and wisdom in his being, they are a path to his soul and circumstances. The concealment that seems to be inherent, almost a source of protective pride underlying these poems, calls for some key to think about them. Eliot and Rowse effectively gave up and substituted near worship for inquiry.

First, what grasp can we get on the Sonnets' language? The masterful language seems to come out of nowhere in Tudor England. One is reminded of Romano's painting of Achilles, face hidden by his throwing-arm, as he raises a spear aloft to strike. Each and every poem is an argument posed and resolved, but implicit in each is the ability to communicate both on the surface and secretly simultaneously, without revealing either source or subject. The tensing spear in the painting may have inspired De Vere to use that very term, shake-spear, to mask his identity like Achilles as he forged and flung the language of his race. (See Michael Delahoyde, "De Vere's 'Lucrece' and Romano's 'Sala di Troia'" ,The Oxfordian/9, 2006, p. 58)

Secondly, if De Vere pursued a strategy to mask his work behind others, the willing personae of the admiring and sympathetic--and that was the practice for the literary aristocracy to reach and educate the masses--there must have been a supportive culture of concealment and, if they existed at all, few and sly references to the true author. In fact there are discreet contemporary references attesting to the magnitude of the figure behind "Shakespeare". Contrarily, extant official papers from that time record only negative reference to De Vere, a disjunction that should be glaring to scholarship, given his pre-eminence in the realm. Why was he political trouble? The Sonnets should portray the context and explain, unless they are pure fiction. Our instincts tell us nothing that anguished can be fiction.

Third, since the Stratford Monument, the Sonnets dedication, and Jonson's introductory verse to the First Folio all contain a code that contradicts the Shakspere authorship propounded on the surface, we must infer a strategy to expediently conceal but ultimately reveal De Vere as the author of his work--why then did the De Vere circle's political cunning fail to succeed?

We take these themes in turn.

Concealment and Marginalization of the Sonnets

It is a logical certainly that Shakspere, who would have been less than thirty when the Sonnets became current in the early 1590's, could not instruct a seventeen-year-old noble with the words:

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field...

However Edward De Vere, whose intimate relations with Queen Elizabeth I were the talk and tattle of the aristocracy in 1573-5, and eventually the pitiful subject of Sonnet 33 as well as the non sequitur statement in 'The Merchant of Venice' ["The truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son may, but at the length truth will out."], well could have fathered Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, who resembled him and Elizabeth closely, and bore no resemblance to Mary Browne and the Second Earl of Southampton.

So at the outset, De Vere's poems to Wriothesley make sense to me as the private advice of a loving but desperate father who knew his son, though illegitimate, stood the best chance to succeed Elizabeth in the Tudor lineage if he married her trusted Secretary's grand-daughter. The first group of Sonnets, up to Sonnet 26, unify around his father's--a loving vassal's--advice. The paradoxically devoted but familiar homage throughout this work is consistent and unmistakable.

The hardest puzzle to unlock in the early section is Sonnet 20, retailed as carnal worship in the later literature and de-emphasized for that reason.

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.

For the first time the author mentions the youth's parents (except Sonnet 3's figure, "thy mother's glass"). Here the tone is intensely personal. In the subterranean code of the Sonnets, the noble refers to his "mistress", a female superior in rank. To the highest ranked noble in the aristocracy that can be only Elizabeth. She is also "a woman" who mothered the youth. That mysterious term "a woman" repeats throughout, a personage too elevated for naming. His subject, the youth, is his "master-mistress", inferring that he also must be royalty, the only rank superior to the writer's and integrally made of the "mistress". In the language of the time, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "my passion" refers to an epic inner struggle, akin to Christ's in his last days, not sexual abandon. The next lines describe the charismatic quality of the youth, even to the point of demi-godliness. Again he writes of "a woman" for whom the nascent child was created, but Nature erred in making him the father, who is then deprived ("defeated") of his fatherhood, because he is not King, in truth is punished for his carnality. But the resolution of the Sonnet's argument is in the last two lines. Since the youth was targetted ("pricked-out" being an archery term), i.e., fated, for siring heirs, De Vere's love carries forth through him into their future line.

The explicated poem looks far different from the first fresh impression, taking into account the royal frame of reference and the words' 16th Century connotations. A puzzling lover's complaint turns into stunning revelation. If we do not have the context, and comprehend the central metaphors, of the writer, we do not see into the code he uses to communicate important information. It was all too easy therefore to marginalize the Sonnets and relegate them to the steaming teapot and armchair set of the literary community. At the same time, once the code is clear we immediately absorb the enormity of political consequence, as the philosopher-poet, right out of Castiglione's 'The Book of the Courtier', counsels a future King.

Let us move to Sonnet 76, which as the mid-point in Hank Whittemore's schema, should be the critical expression of the entire work. It is the anguished writing of the poet drained of inspiration. He cannot say anything; the Muse has left him. "Why is my verse so barren of new pride, so far from variation or quick change?" The next question repeats the concern of the first. But the third contains the code. "Why write I still all one, ever the same, and keep invention in a noted weed [or form], That every word doth almost tell my name, Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?" One senses he fears he is telling too much. "All For One" is part of Wriothesley's motto. "Ever the Same" is Elizabeth's. "Ever", De Vere's ancestral identity and personal star of constancy, is embedded in Elizabeth's motto. His "sun" in the poem is homonymously his own son, to whom he will ever be faithful, the basic meaning in the Sonnets' code of the word "love". "Word" is another charged expression, rising almost to heraldic meaning, since Word is immortal, matching in verse the anagramic Ever/Vere that was his name and resolve. (John Dover Wilson referenced in Roger Stritmatter's 'Hamlet's Aletheia'). "Every word doth almost tell my name". Sonnet 76:

Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

I came to these thoughts myself before having the opportunity to read Whittemore's 'The Monument' and I must admit that I have not read it thoroughly or confirmed its aesthetic schema and nomenclature of meanings. But I attest that there have been several intellectual stages in the emergence of a just interpretation of the authorship question before us. The first was J. Thomas Looney's book. The second was in no particular order the scholarship of B.M. Ward, Eva Turner Clark, and Charles Wisner Barrell. The third was the two-generation efforts of the Ogburn family concurrent with that of Ruth Loyd Miller's and of William Plumer Fowler. The fourth was the amassed discovery contained in Roger A. Stritmatter's 'Edward De Vere's Geneva Bible'. The fifth and presently last is 'The Monument' by Whittemore. His historical approach opens up new doors of perception that have transformed and stimulated thought about the Shakespeare issue. In recent linguistic research, Joseph Sobrans and co-authors Brame and Popova have advanced Fowler's thousands of phrase-to-phrase identities between De Vere and "Shakespeare". Over the past twenty years, intriguing similarities have multiplied up to overwhelming corroboration.

The Oxfordian extra-Academy research is the most wholesome in the field ever, the most credible and sensible to the facts, and the pioneering authors have paid the price, emotionally and literally, without any significant support from established institutions. Yet it has been a boon that most are NOT supported scholars, because the Arthur Conan Doyle style of inquiry is best unencumbered by tradition.

This brief discussion suggests the Sonnets have a substrata of meaning below the seeming love odes and meditations comprising the text. That the text was beyond the amatory, is indicated by the authorities suppressing publication after the first printing in 1609. "Shakespeare" was broadly and prolifically popular. But the Crown controlled publication, and any shadow upon the legitimacy of King James I's succession could and would not be tolerated. For three generations no further edition existed. By that time, Robert Cecil's raison d'etat had triumphed and the rough places were made smooth. Once he had achieved power, suppression of the De Vere problem simply consolidated it. Legitimacy of the Stuart line carries forward to the present, no matter the details. The only clues to who might or should have been King remained in the Sonnets' language, in the oddly worded dedication page of the Sonnets, and in the memory of those who admired the man whom James I himself called The Great Oxford. Beyond a sentence about the Essex Rebellion, Southampton and his pedigree never appear in English history texts. But high praises for De Vere lingered for about a generation after his death, until the time, as in Thomas Hardy's "Immortality", they faded to scraps and whispers. By the hand of Fate, some of them survived to buttress a revised narrative of events.

Literary Concealment as Cultural Survival

Fear had been a natural reaction to the conditions of the Sixteenth Century. Religious ferment had combined with the travail of national centralization to make disorder a constant possibility and stability a tenuous achievement. Society was continually being threatened by a reversion to "political nature". (Sheldon Wolin, 'Politics and Vision', Expanded Edition, 2004, p. 218)

Twenty years after De Vere died, Richard Brathwait wrote, "Let me tell you: London never saw writers more gifted than the ones I saw during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. And never were there more delightful plays than the ones performed by youth whose author wrote under a borrowed name." ((language modernized by Mark Anderson, 'Shakespeare By Another Name', p. 368) Brathwait also honored plays "Prettily shadowed in a borrowed name." ('Stappado For the Devil')

Even at that stage, naming the widely-known producer of adolescent-cast theater companies, De Vere, was not safe. Similarly, in "Shake-speare's" halcyon days, John Marston ('Scourge of Villanie', 1598) extremely discreetly hailed the great writer with the recondite name: "Far fly thy fame/ Most, most of me beloved, whose silent name / One letter bounds..." Edward De Vere fits the encomium. A similar reverence suffuses Richard Barnfield's 1598 tribute: "Live ever you, at least in fame live ever;/ Well may the body die, but fame dies never." The embedded use of the words "ever" and "never" speaks both quietly and well.

Thomas Heywood mentioned in 1612 the numerous fronts for De Vere, "W.S." among them, and proclaimed "I must acknowledge my lines not worthy his [the patron's]patronage." (Richard Whalen, 'Hierarchie', Shakespeare Matters, Winter 2007,p. 30) It is not clear whether he had collaborated with his patron, i.e., whether sponsorship was De Vere's system for spreading his own work. Of this more in a moment.

At De Vere's death, his cousin Percival Golding wrote in almost fearful language: "...I will only speak what all men's voices confirm: he was a man in mind and body absolutely accomplished with honorable endowments." This is indeed a modest description of a mind who rewrote the English language and fashioned the means for an even-if-temporarily unified English folk-soul. The history plays of the 1580's helped galvanize the classes to defend England from the Spanish threat.

In 1612 Henry Peacham wrote Minerva Britanna, a book of puzzles, verbal and visual. As a clue to the author's choice of the British Athena/Minerva, or literary deity, he produced a drawing of an arm and hand holding a pen, thrust out from behind a theater curtain. The hand has written in Latin on a slender scroll:"Mente Videbori"/nearly "By the mind I will be seen". With the last flourish of the pen, its shaft simulating an additional "I", the basis for an anagram appears: "Tibi Nom. De Vere", translating to "Thy name is De Vere". (Middlebury College student project summarized in Mark Anderson website, July 2006) We must infer that the literary circle of the time in London knew how to interpret the point: De Vere had been the master. Had Shakspere been the "Shakespeare", this tribute to De Vere would not have been published. Had however such a tribute been published and directed TO Shakspere, who was still alive, it would be hailed today as conclusive evidence the Stratford grain dealer was the man depicted behind the curtain. On reductio ad absurdum grounds, he cannot be so depicted without cause. Present scholars can ignore the plain evidence on this book board, but in so doing, they abandon their mission, to seek truth and unmask falsehood.

For a logical checkmate, we are entitled to search for equivalent praise of the same literary giant in the 1580's, when Shakspere was so young he could not have been the object. In 1586 William Webbe ('Discourses on English Poetrie') wrote: "I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honorable and noble Lords and Gentlemen in her Majesty's Court, which in the rare devices of poetry have been and yet are most skillful; among whom the Right Honorable the Earl of Oxford may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest." This was duplicated in 'The Art of English Poetrie' (1589) with the report: "...in Her Majesty's time that now is sprung up another crew of Courtly makers, Noblemen, and Gentlemen of Her Majesty's own servants, who have written excellently well, as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble gentleman, the Earl of Oxford." Even after Shakspere had become associated with "Shakespeare", in 1598, Francis Meres wrote: "...the best for Comedy among us be Edward Earl of Oxford,..." (all quotations from Michael Brame & Galina Popova, 'Shakespeare's Fingerprints', p. 71)

Taking up the supposition now that patronage by De Vere involved fronting his writing, there are some remarkable similarities between the works of "Shakespeare", De Vere, and quite a number of writers named George: Gascoigne, Turbervile, Whetstone, Pettie, and Peele, as well as Barnaby Googe and Arthur Brooke. The Brame/Popova volume lists more names than one can believe. The point is that certain complexes of phrases, used as integral to a writer's style, usually don't carry over between writers. If they do, one writer is copying, they are collaborating, or the implied "two" is a fiction.

A Hundred Sundrie Flowres: Nor seldom seen in kites of Cressides's kind
Shakespeare (Henry V): The lazar kite of Cressid's kind

According to tradition, George Gascoigne wrote the poetry in this book. If he didn't, and the comparison suggests he didn't, De Vere who produced the book did. Otherwise "Shakespeare" the soul of the age copied the minor writer Gascoigne.

Whetstone: But foolish man, and foe to thy delight
Shakespeare: Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

Googe: Why didst thou then keep back thy woeful plaints?
De Vere: Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint?

Brooke: As out of a plank a nail doth drive
So novel love out of the mind
The ancient love doth rive
Shakespeare (TG of V): As one nail by strength drives out another
So the remembrance of my former love
Is by a new object quite forgotten

Turbervile: To quite all which good parts, this vow I make to thee:
I will be thine alone as long as I have power mine own to be
Shakespeare Sonnet 123: This I do vow and this shall ever be
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee

It is yet more likely that De Vere's "collaboration" with his uncle Arthur Golding on Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' was another blind:

Golding: Even so have places oftentimes exchanged their estate
For I have seen it sea which was substantial ground alate
Again where sea was, I have seen the same become dry land
And shells and scales of seafish far have lyen from any strand
Shakespeare (Sonnet 64): When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage of the kingdom of the shore
And the firm soil win of the watery main
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store...

At this point of demarcation, it may be impossible to know the truth of all these connections. But something is answered: the charge against De Vere (that his early poetry did not match the mature Shakespeare works) has not taken into account the extensive foreground of learning and skills evidenced by these mainly clandestine efforts. As numerous volumes were dedicated to De Vere, it seems entirely possible, for instance, that he had a hand in translating 'Cardanis Comforte', 'The Courtier', Ovid's 'Metamorphoses', and other proxied works, as well as those plays that can be deduced as his in whole or part. The entire culture, seething with religious and factional strife, adopted secrecy as a form of self-defense, not just one prestigious scion who was essentially a philosopher-artist covertly committed to the stage. He above all knew of the "wolfish earls" and "the medieval aristocracy, its towering spirit of ruthless and gigantic caste, with its own peculiar air and arrogance..." (Walt Whitman)

To quote David Roper, "...[O]f course, this concealment has extended through the ages, proliferated over time, and become the inherited paradigm for every succeeding generation." ('The Great Oxford', p. 149)

The Failure of Political Cunning

Basically our issue comes down to just that question, why didn't the truth matter to succeeding generations? Some men knew the true author of the Shakespeare Canon. When they died leaving little or no record, the crosscurrent of events erased the already hidden fact along with the rest of the English Renaissance. A reactionary religious wave and the succession of weak kings brought on the Cromwell Rebellion and civil war, ending in a bifurcation of power. Conditions of peace did not resume until nearly the 18th Century. What Althusius posited as the pluralistic nature of any covenanted political entity, associative networks, happened in the negative. Setting the example, the Cecils had spies everywhere in all classes and sections of the land. A popular resistance in 1623, led by De Vere's relations, sought to forestall the planned Stuart intermarriage with Spain's monarchy. The plan aborted, producing no satisfactory aftermath. Soon De Vere's three sons were dead. Politically the House of Oxford vanished. Subsequently, under James II the volatile status quo deteriorated into religious/class conflict.

With the resurgence of national spirit in the early 1700's, "Shakespeare", i.e., the literary corpus, bequeathed to England a ready-made heroic English past. Factual contradictions concerning the author mattered less than the palpably brilliant writings themselves. The zeitgeist of the age rather favored a mythos of sui generis art springing whole, fully formed from the heart of the Anglo-Saxon race, personified by their unheralded Colossus from the forests of Arden. This in turn accorded with reasons of state.

At a given point, the myth of the birth of the hero required some plausible representation. But myth cannot also be truth. The tale of the Stratford Monument describes typical fraud in pursuit of regional and national prestiege. (See Richard F. Whalen, 'The Stratford Bust: A Monumental Fraud', The Oxfordian/8, 2005). By the 1800's the circus promoter P.T. Barnum got in the act, trying to buy the biggest house in town in order to call it Shakespeare's birthplace. The townspeople refused to sell and made another house the post facto ancestral home. Mark Twain subsequently wrote that the Stratford argument was like the museum dinosaur made of "nine bones and the rest was plaster of Paris, 600 barrels of it." .Judging from Charles Wisner Barrell's and Barbara Burris's investigations into the De Vere paintings, someone both then and now industriously scraped, cut, and patched the De Vere documentary evidence into a vulgar semblance of the manufactured Shakspere past.

Nevertheless the primary hard evidence on the Shakespeare authorship question still hides in plain sight today. The Stratford Monument inscription, the Sonnets dedication page, and the Jonson introduction to the First Folio contain a code of the time, decipherable by the Cardano Grille. The decryptions are unambiguous, unique, and self-consistent. They all identify the author "Shakspeare" [sic] as De Vere. By use of Equidistant Letter Sequencing, both Dr. John Rollett and D.L. Roper decoded the Sonnets dedication and Roper the Stratford Monument inscription, respectively.

The Cardano Grille, invented by the Italian mathematician and philosopher Jerome Cardin (1501-1576), is a chart or table with drawn lines, length and width, so as to place in one letter per square a contrived benign sentence that reveals its secret message once the chart shows vertical or diagonal verbal formations. English diplomacy used it as a courier instrument. The literate were valuable participants in the intelligence system. De Vere served as envoi to France on occasion. He was surrounded by men employed in the government secret service: Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, and George Turbervile for example. Encryption served De Vere's circle when they perpetrated the initial fraud that Shakspere, a former front, was the "Shake-speare" publically marketed as the great playwright of the land.

On the Stratford inscription, (<1623) once we transfer its text to a Cardano Grille table of seven boxes vertically and thirty-four horizontally, there is revealed one-half of a challenge and response. The challenge is, "Him so test, I vow he is De Vere as he Shakspeare", (signed) Name, I.B. [or Ben Jonson.] The confirming response appears by translating the near meaningless Inscription phrase "Quick Natvre Dide" into Latin. It translates to: Summa Velocium Rerum. Take the first syllable of each word and combine to read: Sum VeRe, or in English, I am Vere. I refer the reader to Roper's website:

(http://www.dlroper.shakespearians.com/els__decryption_and%20the%20Authorship%20Question.htm)
for more detail. Why thirty-four horizontal boxes? The l7th Earl of Oxford times two.

 Ben Jonson's       Cardano Grille

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HIM  SO  TEST,  HE  I  VOW  IS  E.  DE  VERE  AS  HE,  SHAKSPEARE:  NAME  I. B. 

Or  

SO  TEST  HIM,   I  VOW  HE  IS  E.  DE  VERE  AS  HE,  SHAKSPEARE:  NAME,  B. I.

(From The Sonnets Epigraph and Cardano Grille articles by kind permission of D.L. Roper

The Sonnets dedication page (1609) is also a double-check system. The first check is to employ a 6-2-2-2 selection pattern to the dedication words. The counting leads to the following. Instead of the surface wording "To the onlie begetter of these insving sonnets Mr.W.H. all happinesse and that eternitie promised by our ever-living poet wisheth the well-wishing adventvrer in setting forth", we read: "These sonnets all by Ever Poet the Forth" [De Vere and "deVierde" being near homonyms]. The rationale for the 6-2-4 pattern is that "Edward De Vere" counted by letters also totals to 12.

The second check is an eight-by-nineteen Cardano Grille. The meaningful word clusters are: "To Wriothesley his epigram W.S. [William Shakespeare?] (signed) Vere." We can conclude the Sonnets were dedicated to Henry Wriothesley if we combine the revealed information of the Cardano Grille and the "only begetter, Mr. W.H." sequence in the surface wording. W.H. are Wriothesley's initials reversed. Roper calculated there were twenty-three chances in a trillion of randomly arriving at that message. This is well beyond the practical needs of a l7th Century encryption. They meant to communicate the subtext. It is there.

“Wriothesley appears in three separate parts—WR+IOTH+ESLEY”
(http://www.dlroper.shakespearians.com/the_sonnets_epigraph.htm)

(From The Sonnets Epigraph and Cardano Grille articles by kind permission of D.L. Roper)

The First Folio introduction's decryption is my contribution. It has not been endorsed by Mr. Roper. I work on the principle that Euclid invented geometry but a high school student can complete a proof.

The Jonson introductory poem to the First Folio (1623) displays contrived language, facing an engraving that Sir George Greenwood characterized as "a leering hydrocephalic idiot." It says:

To the Reader:
This Figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut
Wherein the Graver had a strife
With Nature, to out-doo the life:
O, could he but have drawne his wit
As well in brasse, as he hath hit
His face; the Print would then surpasse
All, that was ever writ in brasse.
But, since he cannot, reader, looke
Not on his picture, but his booke

Altogether a strange bit of doggerel to introduce the most significant English literature since Chaucer. However, when coded into a 13-by-22 chart, there are more significant messages. In the sixth and seventh files from the left side at both upper and lower ranks there are the decryptions: "Here he E. Vere" and "He E. Vere". (In the orthography of the era, "v" and "u" were equivalents.) Across the chart, in the last four files and eighth to eleventh ranks, two messages appear. One is a series of "He"s on either side of the word "Ever". The other is a combination of the word "This" and a diagonal word "Veil". It can be construed to read: "This is his veil". "Veil" crosses over the "Ever" formation. The anagramic identity of "Ever" and "Vere" is featured throughout the Sonnets.

Decryption of Ben Jonson’s
Introductory Verse in the First Folio
(facing the Droushaut engraving of “Shakespeare”)

Equidistant Letter Sequencing (ELS) or the Cardano Grille, named for its inventor, was in use during the Elizabethan era for encryption and decryption. This chart of 13 by 22 boxes, to total the number of letters in Jonson’s introductory verse (286), reveals three complexes of messages not obvious in the linear language. The seventh file contains two versions of E. VERE, reading down and reading up. (In Elizabethan-era orthography, the U and V were equivalents.) The upper complex is embellished with several "HEs," the lower has one horizontal frame of the pronoun. The far right complex has another construction of VERE which the writer used for anagramic purposes in his poetry, EVER. This in turn is surrounded by constructions of "HEs". It is also characterized by the legend: “THIS IS HIS VEIL” which overlays the EVER figure. The purpose of the encrypted Jonson verse, under these assumptions, can only be to identify the true author De Vere, although an attempt has been made to retail the sham that “Shakespeare” wrote the First Folio. This decryption agrees substantially with that of the Stratford inscription solutions by Roper, and Rollett and Roper in their work on the Sonnets Dedication page solution. Vere is asserted as the author or “Shak(e)speare”. This coding conveys that the introduction is Vere’s veil from identity. It doubles as confirmation of the hidden truth.

What we can analyze and solve in a few hours now is not recorded to have been even attempted after De Vere and his constituency died. The other shoe never made a sound. That doesn't mean they were ignorant of the facts but rather that the political circumstances and forces buried De Vere's rightful claim to the Shakespeare works. During revolutionary Great Britain the family needed to survive socially and financially.

The following decades and centuries extolled political order, heroic genius, military courage and exploration, a poor atmosphere in which to assert the conscience of the race originated with a defiant Earl in the Tudor aristocracy, who hid his authorship for a time hereafter. The De Veres kept mum publically but nevertheless maintained remnants of their prodigal son's life. In the October 1991 Atlantic Monthly is recorded Sotheby's 1948 sale from De Vere's great-granddaughter's (Henrietta Maria Stanley, Countess of Strafford) estate: Holinshed's 1587 'Chronicles'; 'The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting' (1575); Castiglione's 'Il Cortegiano' (1563), an Italian edition which De Vere sponsored to be translated into Latin; Hakluyt's 'Voyages'; and a copy–signed in the hand of Henry Wriothesley–of the Amyot 'Lives' of Plutarch. These were just such valued books, published in his era, that Edward De Vere would have had in his library and then passed on to his kin. Somehow the family kept them together for 350 years.

I am moved by the irony that Jerome Cardan, whose philosophy helped guide De Vere's concept of facing death, which is clearly evident in Hamlet's sleep soliloquy, also provided to the ages the graphic means, his Cardano Grille encryption system, by which De Vere as the author of the Shakespeare Canon can be vindicated, and his name placed on the works at last, a literary immortality achieved 400 years after he said, as Hamlet, "things being thus unknown...draw thy breath in pain to tell my story."

Conclusion

The literary puzzle of the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon has been collectively solved, solved at least on the merits of evidence and comparative linguistic analysis. From our cursory discussion here it is plain that the Sonnets contain loaded phrases, a prevailing mood of deference and homage, and subject matter closely related to the most highly placed individuals in the Elizabethan aristocracy. The poetry also displays a style of concealment that characterized other aspects of the literary production of Edward De Vere.

Remarkably similar phrasing from disparate authors as shown above indicates co-operation with his class inferiors in order to enable publishing his own work, or perhaps to advance the English Renaissance through proxies. Writers of the time covertly but sufficiently recognized him as the giant among them.

Because of politically explosive consequences, the evidence for his son Henry Wriosthesley, Earl of Southampton, having rights to succeed Elizabeth I never reached cultural credence--certainly not at the time nor, due to unexamined documents and assumptions by the Academy and perhaps reasons of state in Great Britain, in the centuries since. The non-literary evidence, i.e., decodings of those dedicatory and monument materials, sponsored by the De Vere family and friends that were intrinsically attached to the name and work of "Shakespeare", support the historical, biographical, and linguistic arguments.

Thus the Oxford movement is facing, not differences in logical analysis, but the inertia of institutionalized mythology. It is an emotionally-driven dilemma. The entrenched Stratford position requires taking the unproductive intellectual stance of no surrender in order not to stand out from one's peers, even if a new point accords with logical skepticism and factual examination. The next apostasy, expressing interest in the Oxfordian position, would be tantamount to damaging one's career. That is enough to make converts, like Galileo, "swear against the thing they see;". (Sonnet 152)

We on the other side of the table seek justice in the matter of De Vere and the works of Shakespeare. And he himself left an example how to achieve it. Justice is not vengeance. Justice means reformation. In the course of time, Edward De Vere, a very great philosopher, humbled himself and found that mercy is close to true justice or, as he phrased it, justice likest God's. The idea is copiously expressed in his work, particularly the later work and letters. I find echoes of his style in the written appeal made by his son during the Essex tribunals:

Remember I pray your Lordships that the longest liver among men hath but a short time of continuance, and that there is none so just upon earth but hath a greater account to make to our creator for his sins than any offender can have in this world. Believe that God is better pleased with those that are the instruments of mercy than with such as are the persuaders of severe justice, and forget not that He hath promised mercy to the merciful.
(Southampton letter quoted from 'The Monument', Hank Whittemore, p. 301)

It will be no slight matter for ten thousand department professors to revise their respective lifelong taboos, so necessary to supporting the Stratfordian assumptions adopted rather uncritically if not unconsciously. There really is something to allowing others to save face. Any one of us can understand the defiant Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, who in General Grant's apt remark about their exchange "just wants to be let down easy."

De Vere extended the ethic of mercy even to the animals, for example the distraught deer heaving for breath and soon murdered. In the comprehension of human justice and truth, he was well ahead of his time. Let us resolve to be ahead of ours.

Methinks the truth should live from age to age,
As 'twere retailed to all posterity,
Even to the general all-ending day.

Prince Edward, Richard III, (III,i)

Dedicated to the memories of Ruth Loyd Miller, Minos D. Miller, Jr., and William Plumer Fowler

All Rights Reserved © WJ Ray 2007

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