First thing – HAPPY NEW YEAR to all Shakespeare enthusiasts whatever your authorship opinion!
Here is my brief response to the other challenges raised.
To those who rely totally on supposed (mainstream) Shakespeare ‘experts’ and no one else I have no hope that you will ever be able to examine different and opposing evidence and to think for youself. Go ahead, prove me wrong by reading and analyzing either Ros Barber’s evidence regarding ‘Labeo” or Mark Alexander’s article on Shakespeare’s law. Show us all the specific faults in either of their analysis:
You say that “The analysis by lawyers that Shakespeare had expert knowledge on the law, does not include any expert knowledge on the law of Tudor/Stuart England.” The lawyers who wrote the most authoritative book on this-- Shakespeare’s Legal Language, by Sokol and Sokol, 2000, were certainly experts both on Shakespeare and the law and legal language he used. And they verify the great extent, great depth, and accuracy of his legal knowledge as well as his ability to relate legal thought to all aspects of Shakespeare’s world in both his plays and poetry. This all by itself should be enough for anyone to have at least some doubt that the business man from Stratford was the great Author.
But to go on:
Regarding the First Folio’s supposedly incontrovertible evidence and trustworthiness:
Charlton Hinman faulted the statement, supposedly made by Heminges and Condell, that the First Folio contained the “True Originall Copies” of Shakespeare’s plays. He wrote “Some of the plays in the Folio apparently do reproduce Shakespeare’s own “foul papers”; but others are mere reprints of earlier quartos, and a number were set into type from combinations, part manuscript and part printed, of materials variously related to Shakespeare’s original papers . . . Some of the copy supplied to the Folio printers, on the other hand, must have been very different both from Shakespeare’s original text and from anything that can be thought to reflect accurately his intentions or even his acquiescence—though notably inferior copy was commonly mended by copy of higher authority.”
So it’s unsure what exactly the writer(s) here meant. And whatever they meant it doesn’t seem to be true since what ended up in the FF came from a variety of sources, some of which don’t reflect what Shakespeare actually wrote in his foul paper manuscripts or what he intended to write when they were later transcribed or recreated.
Stratfordian Irvin Leigh Matus in Shakespeare, IN FACT writes “that most of these [earlier published plays] were not all “stolen and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious imposters,” [as said, supposedly, by Heminges and Condell] can be seen by the fact that the folio texts show definite reference to the quartos—some of which modern editors hold to be superior, or at least closer to the author’s original.”
Nor can it be true that Heminge and Condell had then “now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers as he conceived them.” Whoever edited the FF certainly didn’t remove all imperfections and present for buyers anything like a perfectly edited product.
So as with the supposed pictorial figure of the author, we also can’t take as true testimony of the supposed authors of the preface.
There then is a couple examples of the ambiguity we speak of.
Regarding whether or not Heminges and Condell actually wrote what is attributed to them, there’s evidence to suspect they did not.
Some of the summation of this evidence I’m getting from N.B.Cockburn’s The Bacon-Shakespeare Question, 1998. He writes “Heminges and Condell, .. were probably of little education” “The language [of the two epistles] is too polished for the actors and shows signs of classical learning. For example, the Epistle Dedicatory has close parallels with the Epistle Dedicatory to Pliny’s Natural History…There are strong indications that [the sentence beginning “country hands”] was written by Jonson…Edmund Malone cited parallels between the epistles and Jonson’s work. One is the rather odd expression of classical origin in the epistle to the Readers, “absolute in their numbers”, meaning “perfect”, which Jonson used at least three times elsewhere.”
Much more of this evidence can be found in Katherine Chiljan’s Shakespeare Suppressed, 2011, in chapter 8 - The First Folio Fraud.
Again, it is enough evidence to demonstrate that we cannot take the First Folio assertions or authorship as true or as it first appears to the unweary reader.
Next, what about the Stratford Monument?
Avery brief response once more. If you say you take historical evidence Res ipsa loquitur, it follows then that you must take the first drawing of the bust by Dugdale as fairly accurate with its wool sack and no pen, drooping mustache, etc. and not depicting a writer, even if he himself actually thought that the Stratford man was the author.
Interestingly, an Oxfordian researcher, who isn’t even trained in historical research, discovered a practically identical sculptured bust to that in the Holy Trinity Church, but in Italy. Further investigation led to the discovery that it was quite common for such busts to be bought and transported to England, and that they were also often used to replace the heads on other older or damaged busts. Hmmm, could it be that the current one supposedly of Shakespeare actually used to be for a deceased attorney in Italy?
We could say that’s what appears to be the case from a Prima Facie point of view. Maybe a real historian someday will be able to settle it one way or another.
Here’s more on the topic of the monument:
The famous Latin inscription on the monument adds more ambiguities to the collected evidence. Here’s how one seemingly un-biased person assessed it:
True, he wasn’t ‘an expert’ but then what we’re looking for is what someone’s self-evident impression is. After his own analysis he says he is now one of the skeptics.
Let me add again that the ambiguities continue in that how Mr. Goldstone might interpret the inscription in a negative light, it can also simultaneously be viewed as depicting the true author.
Oxfordian Alexander Waugh has offered one interpretation of it:
And then the Baconians have shown that the three notables Nestor, Socrates, and Maro have all been compared to Francis Bacon. Further, so has the idea of the author now being found on Mt. Olympus also been applied to Bacon. Baconians can also answer why the inscription uses Maro/Virgil rather than Shakespeare’s ‘favorite’ classic writer Ovid. And this quote from Bacon’s Advancement of Learning will also mention his opinion of Socrates.
“For in the time of the two first Caesars, which had the art of government in greatest perfection, there lived the best poet, Virgilius Maro...but Socrates whom they had made a person criminal, was made a person heroical, and his memory accumulates with honours divine and human; and those discourses of his, which were then termed corrupting of manners, were afterwards acknowledged for sovereign medicines of the mind and manners, and so have been received ever since to this day.”
So if a skilled writer wanted to achieve a level of greatness equal to that of the greatest of the ancient classical era, then for Bacon anyway, being acknowledged as a modern Virgil was the mark to aim for.
Now, finally for Jonson who you point out knew the actor/businessman of Stratford.
As I’ve written before:
Ben Jonson is a conflicted witness in that he had a close relationship with his patron William Herbert, the 3rd earl of Pembroke, the Lord Chamberlain and a dedicatee of the First Folio. This earl had a negotiated marriage with the earl of Oxford’s daughter Brigit Vere though it was not later completed. The other dedicatee, his brother Phillip, was married to the Oxford’s younger daughter, Susan. Conceivably then, Jonson was in a position, and could have had a motive, to hide Oxford’s authorship on behalf of the Herberts.
Then again, Jonson was a friend of Francis Bacon, who was friends with William and Phillip Herbert. In the biography Ben Jonson: A Life, author Ian Donaldson writes that Ben Jonson “was on close and friendly terms with Bacon during the late 1590s.”Also, “He had written verses in celebration of Bacon’s sixtieth birthday on 22 January 1621, and may have been present at York House to read this poem at the lavish banquet held that night in Bacon’s honour”. This poem includes the cryptic line
“Thou stand’st as if a mystery thou didst!”
He seems to have known about some secret that maybe only many of those at the banquet were aware.
Jonson also says some of the same things about Bacon that he said of Shakespeare:
Of Shakespeare: “Of all that insolent Greece, or haughty Rome Sent forth…”
Of Bacon: “he, who hath fill'd up all numbers ; and perform'd that in our tongue, which may be compar'd, or preferr'd, either to insolent Greece, or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits borne, that could honour a language, or helpe study. Now things daily fall : wits grow downe-ward, and Eloquence growes back-ward : So that hee may be nam'd, and stand as the marke, and [acme] of our language”. This is from Jonson’s citing of whom he considers to have been England’s greatest writers. Nowhere is Shakespeare mentioned. Hmmm, what ever happened to that “Soul of the Age!”?
Non-Stratfordians (and some Stratfordians as I recall) seem to agree that Jonson’s Epigram beginning “Poor Poet Ape, that would be thought our chief,” refers to the actor from Stratford. The only other person that Jonson calls “our chief” is Bacon:
“Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam
“One, though he be excellent and the chief, is not to be imitated alone, for never no imitator ever grew up to his author; likeness is always on the side truth. Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker who was full of gravity in his speaking; his language, where he could spare or pass by a jest…”
It seems that Francis Bacon would take much pleasure in a big jest or practical joke.
Finally, we know that in his final years Bacon was putting together his final manuscripts for publication. He had a stable of “good pens” including “Mr. Benjamin Johnson (the learned and judicious Poet)” to help with the Latin translations. Many Baconians believe then that Jonson was likely living with Bacon at this time for this purpose and so at or about the same time he was working on the First Folio. Yet it’s always been found a bit odd that Bacon never mentioned anywhere in his writings either Shakespeare or Jonson though we know he obviously knew them both and would have admired their work. And also this is not to assert that Bacon wrote all the Shakespeare works. Maybe if he was the ‘chief’ of a circle of playwrights and poets then maybe he wrote some and supervised or advised other writers. Even some Baconians assert that Oxford certainly wrote some of the Shakespeare works. Maybe we can never have enough evidence to do any more than suggest that so and so probably wrote such and such.
At this point all points asserted for the traditional Prima Facie or Res ipsa loquitur case have been rebutted.
Evidence casts strong doubt against Heminges and Condell having written any part of the preface since the evidence already links Jonson to it. Jonson, by the evidence, knew the Stratford man but does not appear to have been a friend of his. He was a friend of Francis Bacon and he was supported in his work by one or both of the Herbert brothers who had connections to the earl of Oxford.
You keep throwing out these Primary Source red herrings. Evidence of any and all historical artifacts plus analysis is what leads to judgements. You don’t need, and can’t expect, a contemporary document that says something like “I, Ben Jonson, am the real author of the First Folio parts that list Heminges and Condell as the author.” It’s ridiculous to expect him to reveal to everyone something he would have had to agree to conceal. Similarly, if Heminges and Condell had known all along that someone other than their business partner William Shaksper was writing these scripts, and they must have known the truth one way or another, then it’s possible that they wouldn’t want to harm their friend’s memory by revealing a secret that the general public had of the matter.
In essence, because not a single one of you assertions have stood up to scrutiny, you’ve cornered yourself with the stupid stance that, if there was a hidden author, that anyone in on the secret would have abandoned their oath or agreement to keep the secret and state unequivocally for posterity, and in a way that would survive for hundreds of years, all the truth about the author of the Shakespeare works. You’re only left with the thinnest of frayed threads that only some particular ‘expert’ scholar of your acceptance, or some undiscovered primary source, artificially chosen by you alone, and of which you alone would make the sole judgement about, could be allowed to upset the traditional authorship belief. And your little certificate doesn’t qualify you as anything like an expert historian. And so according to your very own standards, no one should count as meaningful any of your personal beliefs about what qualifies as valid evidence!
But I really am not trying to persuade you or anyone else for that matter. I just want to give some counter-arguments for all readers to make their own judgements. Or to not make any judgements if it doesn’t interest them enough to do so.
Lastly, News from the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition:
Declaration signatory count goes over 4,000 (and the number of traditional authorship believers continues to drop and drop and drop)It was another good year for adding new signatories to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt. The signatory count went over 4,000 in the spring and continues to grow steadily, reaching 4,161 as of the current update. Other milestones reached in 2018 include topping 1600 signatories with advanced degrees (694 doctorates, 908 master’s degrees: 1602 total), and reaching 700 current or former college/university faculty members. This continues the trend of signers being well educated (77% college grads, 38.5% with advanced degrees). We also added ten new “Notable” signatories for a total of 89. The complete list of Notables is shown here.
All college graduates and faculty members are asked to indicate their field. The largest group, both among faculty and all college graduates, is those in English Literature: 121 faculty and 458 graduates, 579 in total. These are followed by those who said they were in Arts (402), Theatre Arts (278), Other Humanities (212), Math/Engineering/Computers (204), Education (200), Law (200), History (197), Other/unspecified (183), Social Sciences (166), Natural Sciences (165), Medicine/Health Care (152), Psychology (123), Management (115), and Library Science (42). So virtually all fields are represented, but English literature predominates.