The engraving reproduced above is the upper portion of the frontispiece
to Sir Symonds D'Ewes' Complete Journal of the House of Lords and
the House of Commons Throughout the Whole Reign of Queen Elizabeth of
Glorious Memory, published in London, 1693.
This work is recognized as authoritative. Sir Symonds D'Ewes was born
in 1602. He was a cousin of Sir Francis Bacon. He became the owner of
Lord Oxford's ancestral estate of Lavenham, and through his marriage
into the Clopton family of Suffolk and Warwickshire, provides an interesting
link in the Oxford-Shakspere associations. Sir Symonds' historical and
antiquarian collections covering political and social affairs of the
Tudor and Stuart periods were among the largest and most accurate ever
assembled. We have no means of knowing at the present time who made
this engraving of Queen Elizabeth at the opening of Parliament, surrounded
by her chief counsellors and officials of state. But the fact that it
illustrates D'Ewes' Journal gives it more than ordinary documentary
Let us see who these personages may be. Sir Francis Walsingham and
Sir Christopher Hatton are both identifiable, while Lord Burghley is
shown as a man well up in years, and Leicester is not visible at all.
The scene, therefore, must be meant to represent the opening of the
Parliament of February 1589following the defeat of the "Invincible
Lord Treasurer Burghleyhe of the long white beard and black hoodprops
the throne at Elizabeth's right hand. Appropriately enough, he holds
the state purse.
At Gloriana's left stands Walsingham, Principal Secretary of State,
the "Queen's Moor," identifiable by his keen, saturnine countenance
and black hair. This was the last Parliament that Sir Francis attended.
Worn out by his exertions during the tense and fateful days of the Armada,
he died in 1590. Leicester had passed away in the autumn of 1588.
Immediately below the throne is a large wool sack which bears the caption
"The Lord Chancellor's Seat." It is shown unoccupied, so that
the Queen will not be obscured in any way. But Sir Christopher Hatton,
the Lord Chancellor, can be plainly seen in the full picture, sitting
on the long sack, just to the viewer's right of his official place.
Hatton's hair is characteristically parted and smoothed down. His associate
judges are pointing to him as their chief. The Parliament of 1589 also
marked Hatton's last appearance in these surroundings, for he died in
November 1591, and the next Parliament was not held until February 1593.
Having thus fixed the date which our scene must represent, we can venture
to identify some of the other notables pictured.
The official holding the ermine-trimmed Cap of Maintenance at the foot
of the throneon the Queen's rightshould be William Paulet,
3rd Marquess of Winchester, for all authorities agree that this function
was the hereditary right of the Marquesses of Winchester. Moreover,
Paulet attended this Parliament. Next to the Marquess is either Sir
Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household,
or his Vice. Chamberlai, Sir Thomas Heneage. Behind Winchester and the
Chamberlain, we see the Serjeant at Arms of the House of Lords with
the crowned Mace.
And now we come to the most important of our identifications. For at
the foot of the throneQueen's leftstands none other than
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, holding aloft the ceremonial Sword
of State in his official capacity of Lord Great Chamberlain of England.
J. H. Round and other authorities on Elizabethan officialdom tell us
that one of the distinctive duties of the Lord Great Chamberlain was
"the disposition of the Sword of State." On such occasions
as the assembling of Parliament, he bore this ancient symbol of defence
before the monarch. And if unable to be present himself, could depute
his office to some other nobleman in the Queen's good graces.
The official who stands at Oxford's left in our antique sketch can
be identified as the Earl Marshal, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury.
Behind Shrewsbury appears the Garter King of Arms in his heraldic robe.
Supervision of the office of Garter King of Arms was, and still is,
one of the duties of the Earl Marshal, and the Garter King attends him
during such public ceremonies as the present one.
In the background, Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber appear to be represented
behind Lord Burghley, while at Sir Francis Walsingham's left we seem
to have three of the Privy Counsellors. Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst,
can be recognized as the stoutest of these veterans. The figure with
the twisted neck, peering out from behind the tapestry, should be Burghley's
son, Sir Robert Cecil. Years later, it will be recalled, Cecil hid himself
behind the arras to eavesdrop on the testimony of Essex at the latter's
examination for treason. This engraved pose is certainly typical of
All of these identifications may prove of general interest, but the
picture of Oxford in his role of Lord Great Chamberlain of England will
be particularly welcomed by every student of the Oxford-Shakespeare
When we consider the fact that Edward de Vere, Earl of, Oxford, was
undisputed holder of the oldest patent of nobility in England during
the final fifteen years of his life1590 to 1604it seems
strange indeed that so few pictures of this prominent and gifted man
have come down to us.
There are more than twenty well-known life-paintings and miniatures
of the Earl of Leicester, at least thirty contemporary portraits of
Essex, some six or seven each of Buckhurst and Hatton, while Sir Sidney
Lee mentions fifteen extant portraits of the 3rd Earl of Southampton.
Yet Edward de Vere was even more at home in the field of art than any
of theseand outranked every one of them with generations to spare
in social prestige.
It is, therefore, surprisingor shall we say consistent with the
aura of studied neglect which has obscured the true personality of Lord
Oxfordto find that up to the present only three representations
of the Poet Earl have come to light in an unchanged and easily recognizable
These are: the life-size, half-length canvas of Oxford at 25, painted
by a Flemish artist named Lewyn or Levins during the Earl's first visit
to Paris in 1575, and now the property of the Duke of Portland; the
less-than-life-size panel portrait evidently painted in 1585-86 by Marcus
Gheeraedts the Younger and now owned by the Duke of St. Albans; and
the drawing in the British Museum by Marcus Gheeraedts the Elder, showing
Oxford, aged 22, carrying the same Sword of State e have here, before
Queen Elizabeth during a Garter procession at Windsor in June 1572.
An engraving of the Gheeraedts sketch was made during the 17th century
by that great master, Wenceslaus Hollar. A reproduction of Hollar's
work was printed in Capt. Bernard M. Ward's biography, The Seventeenth
Earl of Oxford (1928). Mr.Looney had reproduced the Duke of Portland's
painting as the frontispiece to "Shakespeare"
Identified in 1920; and the first photographic reproduction
to be made of the Duke of St. Albans' panel appeared among the illustrations
that I used in the January 1940, issue of Scientific American to identify
the Ashbourne "portrait of Shakespeare" as a slightly disguised
original painting of Lord Oxford by the Dutch master, Cornelius Ketel.
These three picturesthe Hollar engraving, the Portland canvas
and the St. Albans Panelhave been the touchstones of pictorial
research in solving the Oxford-Shakespeare mystery, beginning with Mr.
Looney's great work in 1920. I am now happy to have the privilege of
adding this fourth sketch of the Poet Earl to this invaluable collection.
It is unique, in that it shows Oxford at a later period of life than
any of the others, while responding graphically to Shakespearean comparisons.
In delineating Oxford in his official state capacity here, the fact
that he was Lord Great Chamberlain of England is emphasized. But how
many students of this remarkable man's career have ever realized that
there are several documents of the Shakespearean Age in which the playwriting
Earllisted first by Francis Meres (598) as "the best for
comedy among us"is specifically referred to as "the
Lord Chamberlain," instead of "the Lord Great Chamberlain?"
Such is the facta circumstance of truly startling implicationswhich
must give professional Stratfordians food for serious cogitation. For
the establishment of these previously unnoted references will throw
a powerful new floodlight upon Oxford's relationship to the public presentation
of his plays, illuminating at the same time realistic reasons why he
was automatically debarred from claiming credit for their composition.
The present engraving makes one such outstanding reason very plain
indeed. As official defender of the Crown, the Earl obviously would
avoid bringing such an honor into disrepute by ever openly acknowledging
his activities as a public entertainereven though he might be
the rarest genius in this field that the world has yet produced!
"And art is tongue-tied by authority," laments the Bard in
one of his best-known sonnets.
We have known for many years now that Lord Oxford was considered a
poet and dramatist of exceptional merit by his contemporaries; also
that he was the patron of various companies of players, some of whom
were celebrated for their association with Shakespearean roles.
Add to these well-documented facts this additional "clincher"':
that Oxford, the poet-dramatist and patron of Shakespearean actors,
was known in many Elizabethan circles merely as "the Lord Chamberlain,"
and the mystery surrounding the actual personality of this key figure
in our real life drama resolves itself as neatly as the denouement of
a Sherlock Holmes story. For everybody knows that it was "Mr. William
Shakespeare" himself who was the principal playwright of "the
Lord Chamberlain's company." This official of state, whose nickname
among his fellow playwrights was "gentle Master William,"
obviously produced his own plays. It becomes equally obvious that in
doing this he was obliged to employ business agents among others, a
certain native of Warwickshire whose name could be confused in the public
mind with the Lord Chamberlain's own well-selected pseudonym. Thus has
"art" been most effectually "tongue-tied by authority"
for more than three hundred years!
In another paper I intend to present the contemporary evidence for
the Poet Earl as the authentic "Lord Chamberlain" of Shakespearean
fame. The attested documentation should prove quite as revealing as
the steel-cut outlines of the same man's figure in this long-neglected
Every new thing we learn about Lord Oxford turns out to have strong
Shakespearean connotations. No tiresome rumbledumble of Baconian cyphers
or windy suspiration of hallowed Stratfordian conjecture comes between
this man and his work. For instance, Oxford's familiarity with the Sword
of State, here so clearly shown, reverberates in the plays. "Shakespeare"
knows all about the "deputed Sword" and its companion symbols
of state authority, such as the Spiritual and Temporal Swords of Justice.
He has also given real thought to their emblematic relationship to heavenly
justice and mercysomething that no other dramatist of the period
appears to have done. In Measure for Measure, we read:
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon nor the judge's robe,
Becomes them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
Again, at the end of Act III, Scene 2. the Poet says:
He who the sword of Heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe.
Turning back to our 1589 engraving, we find that the crudely rendered
sketch of Lord Oxford's head recalls three or four of the best known
ancient paintings that have passed for generations as "life portraits
of the Bard." There is only one pronounced difference. Oxford has
a full head of hair here. But, as my X-ray and infra-red dissections
of three of the old "Shakespeare portraits" bear witness,
the original sitter for these paintings also had plenty of hair on his
headbefore it was deliberately painted out to confuse the Earl's
personality with that of the bald-headed business man of Stratford-on-Avon.
The engraving corroborates Oxford's identification as the subject of
the ancient Hampton Court "portrait of Shakespeare" with new
and particular verisimilitude. For in the painting the Poet holds in
his right hand the same type of cross-hilted ceremonial sword that we
here observe in the Sword of State. In fact, the Bard's "weapon"
would have been recognized generations ago for what it isthe chief
appurtenance of the office of Lord Chamberlain of Englandwere
it not for the fact that the decorated blade of the sword in "Shakespeare's"
hand was long since crudely blackened to disguise these tell-tale characteristics.
Here is a pretty problem in visual evidence for the Stratfordian experts
to resolve in favor of their candidate, Willm Shakspere. Step up and
take the stand, gentlemen! Who will be the first this time to discredit
our Oxford-Shakespeare testimony with lordly gesture?