Numbers in bold brackets  indicate original page numbers.
MANHOOD OF EDWARD DE VERE
FINAL OR SHAKESPEAREAN PERIOD
Keeping in mind that our chief purpose at present is to see to what extent traces of the personality and life of Edward de Vere may be detected in the work of Shakespeare, we shall first summarize the position as it stands from the literary point of  view at the opening of this third period. Having in his early years earned the distinction of being "the best of the courtier poets of the early days of Queen Elizabeth's reign," and having then passed through a middle period occupied largely with work in connection with the drama, in which he earned the further distinction of being "among the best in comedy" which must not be interpreted as meaning that he had confined himself to this domain he enters in the maturity of his powers upon a third period, the longest of all.
Of this period little is known: but what we do know is that the conditions of his life at the time were precisely those which would lead a poet of such powers to work upon his stores of incompleted dramas, giving them a more poetic form and a higher poetic finish. Are, then, the plays of Shakespeare such as to warrant the supposition of their having been produced in this way? Do they look like the work of one whose chief interest was to keep a theatre business going, or of one who was primarily a poet, not only in the large and general sense, but in the special and technical sense of an artist in words, making music out of the vocal qualities and cadences of speech?
Again, to ask the question is, to answer it. It is not only the number and quality of the lyrics scattered throughout the dramas that give to Shakespeare his high position as a poet; it is the poetry of the actual body of the dramas themselves, blank verse and rhyme alike, that determines his position. It is here that we have the poetry which raises its author to honours which he shares with Homer and Dante alone. Several of the plays can hardly be described otherwise than as collections of poems ingeniously woven together; and, to conceive of one such play being written as a continuous exercise, starting with the first scene of the first act, and ending with the last "exeunt," is an almost impossible supposition. Everything is much more suggestive of a poet creating his varied passages out of the multiplicity of his own moods and experiences, and  incorporating these into suitable parts of his, different plays: afterwards, putting them through a final process of adjusting the parts, and trimming and enriching the verse.
Now of all the men we have had occasion to pass in review in the course of the investigations, of which we are now treating, we have met no one who could be considered as in any way fulfilling in his person and external circumstances the necessary conditions for performing such a work at this particular time as does Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.
Take the single play of "Love's Labour's Lost," examine the exquisite workmanship put into the versification alone, and it becomes impossible to think of it as coming from "a young man in a hurry" to make plays and money. Think of it as coming from a man between the ages of forty and fifty-four, working in retirement, leisurely, under no sense of pressure or material necessities, upon work he had held in the rough, more or less, for several years, and there immediately arises a sense of correspondence between the workman and his work. It is not improbable that for the production of such work as he aimed at, he felt the necessity of seclusion, and a freedom from a sense of working under the public eye; and this may have been not the least of the motives that led him to adopt and preserve his mask. Whether this was so or not, there can be no doubt that during these years in which there was the largest outpouring of the great drama-poems, Edward de Vere was placed in circumstances more favourable to their production than any other man of the period of whom we have been able to learn.
Such, then, are the activities which there is every reason to believe filled up the years which are at once the years of his maturity and the years of his retirement. For nine years after his marriage no public appearance is recorded of him, and then the silence is broken in a manner as significant to our present business as anything with which  we have met. As far back as 1593 "Shakespeare" had dedicated to the Earl of Southampton his first lengthy poem, "Venus and Adonis." In the following year he had repeated the honour in more affectionate terms in issuing his "Lucrece." In the year 1601 there took place the ill-fated insurrection under the Earl of Essex; an insurrection which its leaders stoutly maintained was aimed, not at the throne, but at the politicians, amongst whom Robert Cecil, son of Burleigh, was now prominent. Whether Edward de Vere approved of the rising or not, it certainly represented social and political forces with which he was in sympathy. We find, then, that the company of actors, supposed to be managed by William Shakspere, and occupied largely with staging Shakespeare's plays, the Lord Chamberlain's company was implicated in the rising through the Earl of Southampton's agency.
In order to stir up London and to influence the public mind in a direction favourable to the overturning of those in authority, the company gave a performance of "Richard II," the Earl of Southampton subsidizing the players. In the rising itself Southampton took an active part. Upon its collapse he was tried for treason along with its, leader Essex; and it was then that Edward de Vere emerged from his retirement for the first time for nine years to take his position amongst the twenty-five peers who constituted the tribunal before whom Essex and Southampton were to be tried. It is certainly a most important fact in connection with our argument that this outstanding action of Oxford's later years should be in connection with the one contemporary that "Shakespeare" has immortalized. Considering the direction in which his sympathies lay, his coming forward at that time only admits of one explanation. The forces arrayed against the Earl of Essex were much too powerful, and he suffered the extreme penalty. Sentence was also passed on Southampton but was commuted, and he suffered imprisonment until the end of the reign now not far off.  It is somewhat curious that although "Shakspere's company" had been implicated, he was not prosecuted or otherwise drawn into the trouble and his fortunes seem to have suffered no setback.
The special interest of this is that it gives us the first suggestion of a direct personal connection between Edward de Vere and the performance of Shakespeare's plays through Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton; for it clearly indicates an interest on the part of De Vere in the very man to whom "Shakespeare" had dedicated important poems. As it was only with difficulty that Wriothesley's friends were able to save his life, it is possible, therefore, that he owed much to Oxford's influence. His liberation immediately on the accession of James I may also have owed something to Oxford's intervention; for the latter's attitude to Mary Queen of Scots must have had some weight with her son, and his position as Great Chamberlain, the functions of which he exercised at James' coronation, would place him immediately into intimate relationship with the king. His officiating at this important function is the last recorded public appearance of the subject of these pages.
As in investigations of this kind trifles may prove significant, we may point out that just at the time when "Shakespeare" was dedicating his great poems to Henry Wriothesley, and, in the opinion of many, addressing to him some of the tenderest sonnets that one man ever addressed to another, Edward de Vere's only son was born. Now, we have mentioned that De Vere was proud of his descent, and also that the De Veres had come down in a succession of Aubreys, Johns, and Roberts for centuries almost like a royal dynasty. We should naturally have expected, therefore, that he would have given to his only son one of the great family names. Yet, in all the centuries of the De Veres, there is but one "Henry"; Henry, the son of Edward de Vere, born at the very time when "Shakespeare" was dedicating great poems  to Henry Wriothesley. The metaphor of "The first heir," which occurs in the short dedication of "Venus and Adonis" to Wriothesley, would also be specially apposite to the circumstances of the time; and as "Shakespeare" speaks of Southampton as the "godfather" of "the first heir of my invention," it would certainly be interesting to know whether Henry Wriothesley was godfather to Oxford's heir, Henry de Vere. It is not necessary to our argument that he should have been, but if it be found that he actually held that position the inference would be obvious and conclusive. We have discovered a reference to the baptism as having taken place at Stoke Newington, so that it ought not to be impossible to find out who the sponsors were.
If the reader will further examine the sonnets round about the one which makes reference to the "dedication" he will probably be surprised at the number of allusions to childbirth.
As it is part of our task to indicate something of the parties and personal relationships of those days we have pointed out the spontaneous affinity of Oxford with the younger Earls of Essex and Southampton, all three of whom, having being royal wards under the guardianship of Burleigh, were most hostile to the Cecil influence at Court. On the other hand, we have Raleigh along with Robert Cecil representing the force which Essex wished to oust. Of Raleigh we must point out, in relation to the Essex rising, that so malicious had been his attitude, both at the time of the Earl's prosecution and even in the moment of the latter's execution, that he brought upon himself the odium of the populace. It appears that when Cecil was disposed to relent in relation to Essex, Raleigh was most insistent for his punishment; and when the unfortunate Earl had won the Queen's consent to an execution in private, Raleigh made it his business to be a spectator of his enemy's execution.
The conduct of Francis Bacon, too, had been even more indecent than had been that of his uncle Burleigh towards  Somerset. It is interesting to note, therefore, that the fortunes of the two men whose conduct was most open to censure in this matter suffered complete collapse in the course of the following reign; the publicity of Raleigh's execution being a fitting punishment for his unseemly intrusion upon the privacy of the execution of Essex. It is necessary to point out these things if we are to have a correct judgment of the men with whom the Earl of Oxford had to deal, and upon the strength of whose relationships with Oxford most of the impressions of him met with in books have evidently been formed.
Whatever opinions may be held about these things, it is clear, from the point of view of the problem of Shakespearean authorship, that the famous trial of the Earl of Essex assumes quite a thrilling interest. Standing before the judges was the only living personality that "Shakespeare" has openly connected with the issue of his works, and towards whom he has publicly expressed affection: Henry Wriothesley. The most powerful force at work in seeking to bring about the destruction of the accused was the possessor of the greatest intellect that has appeared in English philosophy: one to whom in modern times has actually been attributed the authorship of Shakespeare's plays Francis Bacon. And sitting on the benches amongst the judges was none other, we believe, than the real "Shakespeare" himself, intent on saving, if possible, one of the very men whom Bacon was seeking to destroy. Some artist of the future surely will find here a theme to fire his enthusiasm and furnish scope for his genius and ambition.
Before leaving the question of the rebellion and trial of the Earl of Essex we shall barely draw attention to an aspect of it which affects a theory of Shakespearean authorship that we have not deemed necessary to discuss at any length. The conduct of Francis Bacon in respect to the trial of Essex has been discussed ad nauseam and is therefore  too well known to need describing. Nor is it our business to enter into the ethics of his action. It is wholly incredible, however, that he could have been working secretly as a playwriter hand in glove with the very dramatic company that was implicated in the rising, and that one of his plays should have been employed as an instrument in the business. Again, something is known of the nature of Bacon's previous friendship with the Earl of Essex; but, however cordial it may have been, it is quite on a lower plane as compared with "Shakespeare's" feelings towards Southampton. The terms in which the dramatist addresses the nobleman who was being tried along with Essex are those of personal endearment, and we must hope, for the credit of human nature, that to all the treachery implied in the idea of turning upon a friend whose insurrection had been assisted by his own drama and dramatic associates (according to the Baconian theory) it was impossible that he could have added the heartlessness of prosecuting one, his love for whom he had already immortalized by his poems.
Nor should we like to think that the very man whom he had immortalized in this way could in turn have so delighted in wounding him and in seeking his downfall. For the Earl of Southampton was amongst those who sought and ultimately brought about the downfall of Lord Bacon. If to this we add that the most of "Shakespeare's" sonnets are supposed to be addressed to the Earl of Southampton, and that these were put into circulation without protest seven years after the trial, at a time when the feeling of Southampton towards Bacon was very bitter, we have as tumbled a moral situation as it is possible to conceive if we suppose that Bacon was "Shakespeare." The decisive answer to the Baconian theory, therefore, it seems to us, is Henry Wriothesley.
Moreover, Southampton's interest in William Shakspere and the Shakespearean plays suffered no decline as a  result of his trial and imprisonment; for we find him immediately upon his liberation arranging for a private performance of "Love's Labour's Lost" for the entertainment of the new Queen; a most unlikely thing for him to have done if its author had been a former friend who had treacherously sought to destroy him. On the other hand, unless the Lord Great Chamberlain "one of the best in comedy" who had recently shown an interest both in Southampton and the new occupants of the throne was physically incapable of being present, it is safe to assume, apart from the special theories we are now advancing, that he would be amongst the select party of spectators at the performance in Wriothesley's house. A more striking fact connecting the Earl of Southampton directly with Edward de Vere and the work of "Shakespeare," we reserve for the chapter in which we shall have to review Shakespeare's Sonnets in relation to our argument.
The mention of the change that had taken place in the occupancy of the English throne suggests a most significant fact in connection with our problem. When
Queen Elizabeth died, the poets of the day, who had loaded her with most absurd flattery during her lifetime, naturally vied with one another in doing honour to the departed monarch. We have elsewhere remarked that we have no single line of De Vere's paying compliments to Elizabeth, either during her lifetime or after her death; a fact which arouses no great surprise. A similar absence of any word of praise from the pen of Shakespeare has, however, always been a matter of considerable surprise. His silence upon the subject of the Queen's death provoked comment among his contemporaries, and Chettle, the personal "friend" of William Shakspere, made a direct appeal to him under the name of Melicert to
"Drop from his honeyed muse one sable tear
To mourn her death that graced her desert."
 This personal intimacy of Chettle and Shakspere, we remark in passing, is another Stratfordian supposition, for which there is no sufficient warrant; and that Chettle's "Melicert" was Shakspere is only another surmise.
The honeyed muse was at any rate unresponsive, and no "sable tear" appeared. Considering the whole circumstances of William Shakspere's supposed rapid rise and early access to royal favour, it is difficult to account for his silence at such a time on any other supposition than that he did not write because he could not: whilst the man whose instrument he was was not disposed to write verses for the mere pleasure of adding to the glory of William Shakspere.
In another connection we have had to point out that Shakespeare's sonnet 125 seems to be pointing to De Vere's officiating at Queen Elizabeth's funeral. This may be taken as his last sonnet; for 126 is really not a sonnet but a stanza composed of six couplets, in which he appears to be addressing a parting message to his young friend. Sonnet 127 begins the second series, the whole of which seems from the contents to belong to about the same period as the early sonnets, of the first series.
If, then, we take sonnet 125 as being the Earl of Oxford's expression of his private feelings relative to Queen Elizabeth's funeral, we can quite understand his not troubling to honour her with any special verses. The argument does not touch William Shakspere in the same way; for the reasons which lead us to suppose that the particular sonnet has reference to Elizabeth's funeral only apply if we assume it to be written by the Earl of Oxford. It is worth noticing, too, that these last sonnets, seem to be touched with the thought of approaching death; and when we find that De Vere died on June 24th, 1604, the year following the death of Queen Elizabeth, to which they seem to make reference, the two suppositions we have stated in regard to them seem to, be mutually confirmed.
The special sonnet to which attention has been drawn,  if it does actually refer to the part taken by the Lord Great Chamberlain at Elizabeth's funeral, shows clearly that the participation was merely formal. It is not necessary to account for Oxford's attitude: the point is that the attitude represented in the sonnet is precisely the same as that represented by the absence of any line from Oxford's pen on the subject of Elizabeth's death, and a similar absence of any Shakespearean utterance on the same theme. In a word, everything becomes "of a piece" as soon as the name and person of the Earl of Oxford is introduced.
There can be no doubt that as Oxford was out of sympathy with the party in power at the time, the success of the Essex-rising would, from some points of view, have been gratifying to him; although, as a practical thing, he would probably, at his time of life, have considered it rash and ill-advised. The execution of Essex which had done more than anything else to injure Elizabeth's popularity in her closing years, would not leave him unaffected. If, further, we suppose that "Shakespeare," whoever he may have been, retained in 1603 the feelings he had expressed for Southampton in 1593 and 1594, it is impossible to think of him writing panegyrics on Queen Elizabeth whilst his friend was being kept in prison. Chettle evidently did not consider his "friend," William Shakspere, sufficiently interested in the Earl of Southampton to withhold, on account of the imprisoned earl, his "sable tear" from the bier of the departed Queen. Oxford's experience as a whole, however, would indispose him to join in any chorus of lamentation or of praise.
The Hatfield manuscripts and the Domestic State Papers of the time represent him as making efforts to restore the fortunes of his family by an appeal to Elizabeth, on the strength of his youth spent at her court, and promises made to him which had encouraged his early extravagance. The Queen had replied with gracious words, but neither the special office for which he was asking, the Presidency of  Wales, nor any other appointment was granted to him; and his disappointment with the Queen is clearly shown. He certainly would be in no mood for lamentations over the departed monarch.
We must now go back a year in order to draw attention to another of those particulars which had passed unobserved until after the virtual completion of our argument. After fourteen years of apparent retirement from dramatic activities, Oxford makes his appearance once more, and on a single occasion, in the capacity of patron of the drama. It is a mere glimpse that we are permitted to catch of him, but such as, it is it has special relevance to our present purpose. Halliwell-Phillipps, in discussing the question of "Shakespeare's" relation to the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap, tells us that "in 1602 the Lords of the Council gave permission for the servants of the Earls of Oxford and Worcester to play at this, tavern." It is of some importance, then, that the place which this tavern occupies in respect to the Shakespeare dramas should first be made clear.
In current editions of Shakespeare's plays, this particular tavern is specified in the stage directions as the scene of some of the escapades of Prince Hal and Falstaff (Henry IV, parts 1 and 2). In the Folio Editions, however, the name of the tavern is not given in the stage directions. The text of the play, on the other hand, makes it clear that some tavern in Eastcheap is meant: Falstaff remarking "Farewell: you shall find me in Eastcheap" (I Henry IV. 1. 2) and Prince Hal when they meet at the tavern (II. 4) adding, "I shall command all the good lads in Eastcheap." In reference to this matter Halliwell-Phillipps states:
"It is a singular circumstance that there is no mention of this celebrated tavern in any edition of Shakespeare previous, to the appearance of Theobald's in 1733, but that the locality is there accurately given is rendered certain by an allusion to 'Sir John of the Boares-Head  in Eastcheap' in Gayton's Festivous Notes 1654, p. 277. Shakespeare never mentions that tavern at all, and the only possible allusion to it is in the Second Part of Henry the Fourth, where Prince Hal asks, speaking of Falstaff, 'doth the old boar feed in the old frank?' A suggestion of the locality may also be possibly intended in "Richard II" where the Prince is mentioned as frequenting taverns 'that stand in narrow lanes.' . . . There were numerous other tenements in London, including five taverns in the city known by the name of the Boar's-Head. . . .Curiously enough by an accidental coincidence Sir John Fastolf devised to Magdalen College, Oxford, a house so called in the borough of Southwark."
Sir Sidney Lee connects Falstaff chiefly with the Boar's Head Tavern in Southwark, relegating the Boar's Head, Eastcheap, to a footnote, and ignoring the connection of Falstaff with some tavern in Eastcheap in the actual text of the plays.
Whatever duplication of associations may have arisen from the connection of Falstaff with Sir John Fastolf of the Boar's Head, Southwark, it is evident from the text of the play, the stage-tradition supported by Gayton's Festivous Notes in 1654, and Theobald's and all modern editions of "Shakespeare's" works, that the "Boar's Head," Eastcheap, is associated with 'Shakespeare's creation of Falstaff. There is ample justification, therefore, for Halliwell-Phillipps's allusion to Falstaff as "the renowned hero of the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap," and for Sir Walter Raleigh's remark that "the Boar's Head in Eastcheap has been made famous for ever by the patronage of Falstaff and his crew." It is of more than ordinary interest, then, to find the Earl of Oxford reappearing after an absence of fourteen years from the world of drama at the particular tavern associated with Falstaff, and in the very year that the representation of Falstaff  culminated in the "Merry Wives of Windsor." For it was on January 18th, 1601-2, that "a license for the publication of the play was granted" and "an imperfect draft was printed in 1602." What would we not give to know the title of the play or plays that the servants of the Earls of Oxford and Worcester performed at the Boar's Head, Eastcheap, in the year 1602? It is another of those mysterious silences that meet us at every turn of the Shakespeare problem.
Halliwell-Phillipps's connection of Falstaff with "the old boar" has also its special interest to those who may believe that Falstaff is a work of self-caricature on the part of "Shakespeare." For Oxford's coat of arms was the boar, and he himself is spoken of, in a letter of Hatton's to Queen Elizabeth, as "the boar." One of his ancestors was killed by a wild boar, and this would readily suggest to him the theme of his first great poem. It may be worth mentioning that the character of Puntarvolo, in Ben Jonson's "Every Man out of his Humour," who, some Baconians believe, was Jonson's representation of Bacon, was also one whose crest was a boar. These things are at any rate interesting if not made too much of.
Another interesting fact belonging to a much earlier part of Oxford's life connects itself with the particular matters under consideration. The escapades of Prince Hal and his men, in "Henry IV," part 1, involve not only the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap, but also that part of the road near Rochester which connects London with Canterbury. Here the madcap Prince and his associates molest travellers. Now in 1573, the same year as Hatton writes his complaint to the Queen, speaking of Oxford as the "boar," others make complaints about being molested by the "Earl of Oxford's men" on the identical part of the road "between Rochester and Gravesend" where Prince Hal had indulged in his pranks. Shooting had taken place, and  everything is suggestive of a wildness, similar to what is represented in "Shakespeare's" play respecting the future Henry V. The exact correspondence alike of locality and adventure forms not the least striking of the many coincidences which our researches have disclosed.
A special significance attaches to the particular year in which Oxford makes his reappearance as patron of drama after an absence of fourteen years. In Chapter 1, when dealing with Stratfordianism, we had occasion to point out that 1602 is the only year of the great Shakespearean period in which the records of the Treasurer of the Chamber contain no entry of payments made to the Lord Chamberlain's company of players. The company, it would appear, had temporarily suspended official operations. An examination of the records of "Shakespeare" publication reveals a similar gap. There was no new play published with any appearance of authentication; the 1602 publication of the "Merry Wives, of Windsor" being, the authorities state, a "pirated" issue. For it is curious that, although Stratfordians affirm that William Shakspere published none of the plays, they nevertheless discriminate between "pirated" and authorized issues: the "pirated" being, it is presumed, made up by publishers from actors' copies, and not from complete versions.
With the Lord Chamberlain's company apparently in a state of suspended animation we are naturally disposed to ask, what company of actors had been playing "The Merry Wives of Windsor"? Certainly the probability that this was the play which the servants of Oxford and Worcester performed that year at the Boar's Head Tavern is strengthened. At any rate the gap itself is a reality, and not a surmise; and this gap exactly corresponds to the complete year that Henry Wriothesley spent in the Tower: a very fair evidence that Wriothesley had been acting as intermediary between "Shakespeare" and others. It is then in the exact year in which "Shakespeare" was entirely without assistance from this agent, that the Earl of Oxford reappears  in connection with the performance of some play, at the identical tavern associated with Falstaff; and publishers get hold of actors' copies of "The Merry Wives of Windsor."
To the interesting chain of evidence presented by Oxford's association with the Boar's Head Tavern in 1602 we have now to add an important link. In the following year there occurred the death of Queen Elizabeth, and, again quoting from Sir Sidney Lee: "On May 19th, 1603, James I, very soon after his accession, extended to Shakespeare and other members of the Lord Chamberlain's company a very marked and valuable recognition. To them he granted under royal letters patent a license freely to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies (etc.) .. . . The company was thenceforth styled the King's Company." Then in a footnote he adds, "At the same time the Earl of Worcester's company (that is to say the company associated with Oxford's at the Boar's Head Tavern) was taken into the Queen's patronage, and its members were known as the Queen's servants."
It will, we believe, be readily acknowledged that, without being actually identified with the company that was staging the "Shakespeare" dramas, the Earl of Oxford has now been brought, through the medium of the Boar's Head Tavern and the Earl of Worcester's company, into very close contact with what is usually styled Shakespeare's company. It is important to emphasize the fact that the special reference to these companies in connection with the "Boar's Head" is not one selected from a number, but is the only reference of its kind in that connection. Similarly, it may be worth remarking that the only dramatic companies in any way associated with the family records of William Shakspere at Stratford were "The Queen's Company and the Earl of Worcester's Company" of an earlier date. For, in the palmier days of Shakspere's father "each (of these companies) received from John Shakspere an official  welcome." This is the single piece of information that research has elicited in any way connecting the Shakspere family at Stratford with the drama of Queen Elizabeth's day. This last fact, however, in the absence of fuller particulars, we are content to put in, not as evidence, but as an interesting and probably accidental coincidence.
In 1601, then, Oxford took part in the Essex trial. In 1602 he was associated with what was afterwards the Queen's Players in the performance of some unknown play at the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap. In 1603 he officiated at the coronation of James. On June 24th, 1604, he died and was buried at Hackney Church. Unfortunately the old church was demolished about the year 1790, so that it is improbable that the exact spot where his remains lie will ever be located. This we feel to be a real national loss. We cannot believe, however, that the English nation will acquiesce permanently in the neglect of the place where "Shakespeare" lies buried.
The year of Oxford's death (1604), it will be noticed, is the year in which the great series of Shakespearean dramas culminated. "Hamlet" is assigned to the year 1602. It was first published in an incomplete form in the year 1603, and in 1604 was issued the drama substantially as we now have it. This point we shall have to discuss more explicitly in our next chapter. The tragedy which is universally accepted as the author's supreme achievement belongs, therefore, to the year of Edward de Vere's death; and the last words of Hamlet the passage we quote at the opening of this series of biographical chapters may almost be accepted as Oxford's dying words. "Othello," too, has been assigned to 1604 although it was not printed until 1622; that is to say, six years after the death of William Shakspere, the reputed author.
The actual details so far recorded of Oxford's life are of the most meagre description, and hardly furnish  materials for an adequate biography; but if what we are now contending respecting the authorship of Shakespeare's works be finally established we shall probably, in the course of time, learn more of him than of almost any other man in history. In his case we shall have not the mere externals of life, which never quite show forth the man, but the infinitely varied play of his very soul in the most masterly exposition of human nature that exists anywhere in the world's literature. Although these things mainly concern the future, there is one thing which must be said at once, and an important claim that must be immediately entered on his behalf.
Many generous pronouncements on "Shakespeare" have already been made in the belief that the Stratford man was the actual dramatist. Now, apart from the writings practically nothing is known of the personality of the one who has hitherto been credited with them. These generous estimates of "Shakespeare," being almost wholly inferred from the plays he has left us, must in all honesty be passed on to Edward de Vere when he is accepted as, the author. They are his by right. We cannot go back upon the judgments that have been so passed upon "Shakespeare," simply because it transpires that the Stratford man is not he. By the adoption of his mask the author of the plays has therefore secured for himself a judgment stripped of the bias of "vulgar scandal." He has, by revealing himself in his plays, trapped the world, as it were, into passing a more impartial verdict upon himself than would otherwise have been accorded, and given a signal check to its tendency to hang the dog with a bad name.
The references to him, which we have come across in the course of our investigations, have frequently taken the form of condemnatory expressions, altogether unsupported, or most inadequately tested by facts. All these must now be subjected to a searching revision. Having been for so long the victim of "cunning policy," he has, at length,  become entitled to such personal appreciation as sober judgment has pronounced upon "Shakespeare" from a consideration of the writings. What the world has written in this connection it has written, and must be prepared to stand by.