Howard Schumann: In a discussion with Stratfordians, I said there was no contemporary evidence that the man referred to as Shakespeare was William of Stratford. They responded with the following: ”What about the line from William Basse’s elegy, ‘Mr. Wm. Shakespeare/he dyed in Aprill 1616′? He says: ‘Sleep, rare Tragaedian Shakespeare, sleep alone.” Basse actually says the guy was a tragedian and attaches a name and a date of death. Why does that not count as evidence?” I have been unable to find any response to this either on your website or in the books of Ogburn, Price, or Anderson. What about the Basse Eulogy?
Hughes: Here we see the same apples vs oranges argument that we confront with 99 percent of everything the Stratfordians put forth, in which they simply ignore the central factor in our thesis, the hiding of the authorship! To them, everything published that refers to the authorship is straightforward and to be taken at face value. Since it’s clear (to us) that William of Stratford could not possibly have written the plays, or anything for that matter, there being no direct evidence of his ability to write but the six shaky signatures on legal documents, the attribution to someone else must have been due to the need to hide the identity of the true author. Therefore, to us, everything published by the Establishment that refers to the authorship is necessarily suspect.
The only possible reason for hiding the true author would have been because he or his family or his colleagues would have been damaged had his identity been known. The only persons in such a position were leading courtiers. The only leading courtier with the kind of reputation that could support such a theory is that of the Earl of Oxford, whose daughters and their husbands, by 1623, constituted the very Establishment that could easily have created a version of the authorship that would hold up to ordinary questioning.
We see that such a version, first put forth by Ben Jonson in the First Folio, (dedicated to the Pembrokes, one of whom was married to Oxford’s daughter) is repeated and emphasized by the Basse eulogy, published in the 1640 Benson edition of Shakespeare’s poems. To the Stratfordians, this is simply one more example of the truth, while to us it suggests that questions about the authorship were still strong enough in 1640 that a reinforcement of the cover story was required.
This would have been easy, for although William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, probable publisher of the immensely expensive First Folio, was dead by 1640, his brother, the Earl of Montgomery, was still alive. Having taken over his brother’s post as Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household with oversight over all matters relating to Court theater, the royal company known as the King’s Men, and the publication of their plays, Montgomery, with the assistance of his relative, Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, was in the perfect position to see to it that such a poem was installed among the requisite opening dedications. It should also be noted that, following the death of his first wife, Susan Vere, Montgomery married the diarist Lady Anne Clifford (aka the Countess of Dorset), the patron who, in 1530, shortly after she married Montgomery, created a monument for Michael Drayton in Poet’s Corner, thus instituting that part of Westminster Abbey as the location for the burial of renowned writers. The only ones to precede him were Chaucer, Spenser, and Beaumont. And (we believe) the Earl of Oxford.
William Basse was a poet of some reputation during the reign of Charles I. One of his manuscript collections was dedicated to Bridget, Countess of Lindsay, whose husband, Montagu Bertie, 2nd Earl of Lindsay, was the grandson of Mary Vere, Oxford ‘s sister.
For some reason Shakespeare scholars have decided that in Jonson’s 1623 Ode to Shakespeare, in which he says “My Shakespeare rise ! I will not lodge thee by/ Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie/ A little further, to make thee a room;/ thou art a monument without a tomb. . .” he was quoting William Basse, when so far as I can tell, there’s no evidence that Basse wrote his lines any earlier than 1633, when they were published as by John Donne: “Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh/ To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumont lie/ A little nearer Spenser to make room/ For Shakespeare in your threefold, fourfold tomb.” If there’s any real reason to think that this came before the 1623 Jonson version, I’d like to know about it.
Finally, the way the title emphasizes the date of the poet’s death is really rather unpoetically peculiar: “On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, he died in April 1616.” Yoo hoo! That’s the one! The one who died in 1616! The one from Stratford! He did it! He’s the man! You know it’s true because we say so!