References for Mr Waugh!

A jolly evening at the How To: Academy debating the identity of Shakespeare with my dear friend Alexander Waugh. I don’t think I’m ever going to change the mind of someone whose argument appears to rest on the proposition that Ben Jonson faked Heminge’ and Condell’s dedictory epistle and address to the reader in the First Folio, in which they clearly ascribe the plays to their fellow-actor – and who, for good measure, suggests that the bequest of mourning rings to Hemmings, Condell and Burbage in Shakespeare’s will might be a forged interpolation. But I enormously admire Alexander’s wit, warmth and energy. The only moment he lost his cool was when I denied his claim that nobody in the aftermath of Shakespeare’s death made the association between “the man from Stratford” and the famous writer. He said “You can’t make things up, Jonathan.” I told him I would send him some references, and he asked for them to be on his desk “by 9 o’clock in the morning” – so they will be, but here they are for any members of the audience who remain curious:

1618: Weever’s notebook (Society of Antiquaries MS 127) – transcription of the words on the Stratford monument and the poem on the tomb. In margin opposite heading “Stratford upon Avon”: “Willm Shakespeare the famous poet”

1619: Basse poem (Lansdowne MS 777, f.67v): “Under this carved marble of thine owne / Sleep rare Tragedian Shakespeare, sleep alone”

1623: Digges poem in First Folio: ‘thy works, by which, outlive / Thy tomb, thy name must: when that stone is rent, / And time dissolves thy Stratford Monument’.

Late 1620s: manuscript addition to a copy of the First Folio (Folger 26): Transcription of the poem on the tombstone + the poem on the Stratford monument + an original poem:

Here Shakespeare lies whom none but death could Shake / And here shall lie till judgment all awake; / When the last trumpet doth unclose his eyes / The wittiest poet in the world shall rise.

1630, A Banquet (anon): “on travelling through Stratford upon Avon, a town most remarkable for the birth of famous William Shakespeare”

1634 Lieutenant Hammond diary reference (Lansdowne MS 213, f. 332v): “we came by Stratford upon Avon … in the church there are some monuments … those worth observing … a neat Monument of that famous English Poet, Mr William Shakespeare, who was born here.”




25 thoughts on “References for Mr Waugh!

  1. Did I err in refuting your assumed authoritative references or did you delete the previous post? Weever never published your first “source” in his antiquities volume. The Basse poem is suspect since Basse was retained by de Vere’s middle daughter Bridget and it served for Jonson to close off the anomaly of why the Stratford “Bard” was not buried with the Poets’ Corner luminaries. Digges’s First Folio encomium was Jonson’s masterpiece of using Number to subvert the surface pablum, which included the use of “fresh”, vers in Dutch, an anagram of Vere. Why four “Shakespeares”, four “thee’s”, and twenty-two lines? All cues that turn on German number four: “vier”, homonym of Vere. You neglected to state the full title of ‘Banquet’: Banquet of Jests, including joking the Shakspeare cenotaph was “300 years old”. An outright absurdity, playing on the Aristotelian principle that “three” indicates special knowledge hidden to the gullible mind. The “original poem” cited also plays with Number: 34 letters, twice seventeen, a trick utilized also in the Jonson elegy. Hammond’s comment is hardly proof of anything except that the First Folio ruse gained currency among the unknowing, a condition supported by Dr. Bate, on faith. Truly, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” Horatio, Hamlet’s only trusted friend, corresponds to Horace, de Vere’s cousin. The other, Francisco, corresponds to “Horatio’s” brother, Francis. Yes, soldiers: the Fighting Veres. Sorry sir, your foundation is sand.


  2. The objective of the Stratford monument was to make people believe that Shakspere was the author Shakespeare. The writers of the references were therefore the first people to be taken in by the deception. Because they thought that Shakspere was Shakespeare it does not mean that he was, in fact they contributed to the great myth.


  3. I beg your pardon Sir, but I do pity you. What about Oxford ´s uncle And teacher (with Laurence – codex… – Nowell) Arthur Golding at Cecil House? And the 1000 “coïncidences” with the canon? Your knowledge of the work would be so enrich by the Only coherent biographical and textual evidence. Anyway… I shall always read your “ShakeSpeare And Ovide” with great interest but with an intense feeling of frustration (for you Sir!). Amicalement.


  4. I find it very odd indeed that none of Shakespeare’s theatre associates left a single encomium to the Bard upon his death, including his collaborator John Fletcher. Why did Heminges and Condell wait 7 years before doing so?


  5. References for Jonathan Bate!

    You omitted the rest of the jest as well as the source.

    Here is the complete text:

    One travelling through Stratford upon Avon, a Towne most remarkable for the birth of famous William Shakespeare, and walking in the Church to do his devotion, espied a thing there worth observation, which was a tombstone laied more than three hundred yeares agoe, on which was engraven an Epitaph to this purpose, I Thomas, such a one, and Elizabeth, my wife here under lye buried, and know Reader I, R.C. and I, Christoph Q. are alive at this houre to witness it.

    A banquet of ieasts. Or Changes of cheare. Being a collection of moderne jests. Witty ieeres. Pleasant taunts. Merry tales. London: Printed for Richard Royston, and are to be sold at his shoppe in Ivie-Lane next the Exchequer Office, 1630.

    Please explain jest, Professor!


    • The jest is on the old tombstone. The idea that the author thinks that the bit of the sentence before he spies the jest is also a jest is one of the most hilarious misreadings I can imagine. You, sir, are jesting and I always enjoy a jest!


  6. You also misprinted “on” for “one.” Your weakness as an editor is pretty evident. We start by getting the words right, right?

    Then we should move to be sure that we accurately represent the larger original context of the witnesses statement, including parts that may be ambiguous or difficult to decipher.

    The failure to do this reduces us to people who are merely defending an established view for the sake of defending. As scholars we should be held accountable to higher standards, in my opinion.


    • It is rather rude of you to upbraid me as an editor for a typo in a rapid blog post. Please find some editorial errors in my edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, or at least get back to me when you have edited the complete works of your man De Vere without any errors.


  7. Sir, Jonathan; your argument is still, basically, that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. If Shakespeare was an actor in Jonson plays, then Shakspere was an actor in Jonson plays; if Jonson and Drummond wrote about Shakespeare then they must have been writing about Shakspere. In your mind every mention of Shakespeare means Shakspere; it could, of course, mean the actual author. Without this concept you haven`t got much of an argument.
    I thought that the most interesting point in the debate was when Waugh said that Oxford is buried under the statue of Shakespeare in Westminster Abbey; I can`t wait to hear his evidence.
    Did you know that there is an average of 24.54 concealed Latin puns on the motto of the Earl of Oxford in each and every one of the Shakespeare plays, including The Two Noble Kinsmen? That many episodes in the plays are constructed around these hidden puns? This is why Tolstoy wrote that Shakespeare “is playing with words”.


  8. Of course, it doesn’t matter where people were buried or whether they honored Shakespeare after his death. But.. He was widely known as the author of many excellent plays! Many plays and poems were published under his name before he died! That’s not the question. The question is who put pen to paper to write the plays.

    In 1599, who wrote Henry V and As You Like It. What experiences and knowledge were they pulling on to write those plays. What is the source of the vocabulary in those plays. Why is there so much French in Henry V. Why is As You Like It set in France.

    The question is why did Jonson refer to “muse” in his epigram to Henry Neville. Why did Jonson use “ne’er so vile” in Every Man Out of His Humour in 1600, and why did Henry V change from “ne’er so base” to “ne’er so vile” from the 1600 Quarto to the 1623 Folio; why did John Davies use “ne’er so vile” in his 1612 poem The Muse’s Sacrifice after writing a poem to Neville in 1603 Microcosmos that mentions “vile”; why does Sonnet 121 have “vile” twice in the first line and rhyme level with bevel.

    Why in 1603 4 days after Queen Elizbaeth died, and two weeks before Nevile was released from prison, did Francis Bacon write a letter to John Davies (the other one), who was going to see the new King James, asking him to help out “concealed poets”?

    These are actual questions of interest. What was written on Shakespeare’s tomb is completely and totally and utterly irrelevant. Whether people believed Shakespeare wrote the plays is completely and utterly irrelevant. The only question is did he. And if he didn’t, who knew he didn’t, and did they leave clues.

    Edward de Vere the Earl of Oxford died in 1604. Dead men don’t write plays. They can’t. They are dead. This isn’t a hard one to understand.


      • You should consider these comments from 2018 as my juvenilia. I have matured a lot since then. I get the campy charade now. You and Waugh are two sides of the same ridiculous coin.

        It’s all just performance art, but it’s really bad performance art. However, your comments about the Holocaust are deeply disturbing. I would start there in your process of reconciliation with the rigorous demands of actual scholarship. Start with human decency. Step by step.


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