Another Oxfordian fantasy shot to bits

He that takes the pain to pen the book . The poems of Edward de Vere.

A new Oxfordian book has hit the stalls. Well, a new self-published, print-to-order, Oxfordian collection of Word documents has become available, perfect bound in a single volume on Amazon. It's written and edited by the great Oxfordian panjandrum himself, Dr Roger Stritmatter PhD. It's a review of Oxford's poetry, based on analysis of what the Doctor identifies as "parallels" between Shakespeare and De Vere. These are extracted from EEBO, the online compendium of Early English Books Online, using the basic, vocabulary search features. Sounds like an appalling way to compare the work of two poets? As you read on, it gets worse and worse and worse. He that takes the pain to read the book is in for a lot of grief.

Here we look at his compendious efforts, his abilities to count and judge parallels, his ability to use his sources, and his skill at teasing out those elusive Shakespearean qualities from other literature of the period.

We have been seeking the answers to these questions for a long time. Now, in this most revealing of Oxfordian works, we finally have them. Oxfordians have always been careful to avoid engaging on the question of their understanding of the material they are so anxious to attribute to The Earl. Attacking their understanding of Bankside drama is far more deadly to their cause than quibbling about literary paper trails. If they don't understand the quality of Shakespeare's work, how can they expect to be taken seriously when it comes to attributing it to another author?

Frustratingly for Shakespeare fans and students, they always prefer to argue about the minutiae of Shakespeare's life, concentrating instead on the trails it left behind rather than the gulf in quality between Will's work and their choice of alternative author. But now the truth is out. Ironically, that is the theme of all the reviews of the book written by doubters and Oxfordians themselves, who will ecstatically welcome anything in print that praises their Lord. But what is the nature of the "truth" that is "out"?

Do Oxfordians have any real appreciation of what Bankside Theatre is about? Or is the real "truth" that they have no idea what they are talking about.

N-n-n-n-nineteen—pages for the ages from the book of revelations
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An extract from Page 19 which has unbelievably serious consequences for Oxfordian discernment.

Stritmatter's page 19 is a milestone, tombstone even, in the exposure of Oxfordian inability to compare Shakespeare with other writers. Stritmatter correctly identifies a figure of speech in Oxford's work and produces another example from Shakespeare. The sample of Oxford's work is the usual, self-pitying, plodding, mediocre complaint, asking in every line "What plague is greater than grief of mind". Though it follows the pattern for anadiplosis, each line expresses the same thought. Shakespeare's anadiplosis leads the reader up a staircase, step by step, to a conclusion. Oxford just repeats himself.

But let's forget the qualitative differences that even a high school senior could describe. Forget that Oxford's 'grief of mind' is personal rather than a plague. Forget that all The Earl means (and says) is "I'm really pissed off at the moment", just look at where Stritmatter goes next.

"These two passages are so dynamically similar as to defy credible explanation outside the hypothesis of shared authorship…

"Ehhhh??? Having identified the form as a literary construct (and therefore used by writers generically), Stritmatter leaps to the conclusion that because both writers have used the same device, they must be the same writer. It's like saying that because Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes S coupe and a Merryweather fire truck are both red, they must have been painted by the same person. And if that leap isn't long enough, look at the next one.

"If Oxford's poetry typically expresses a tragic vision, we should not forget that he was primarily known during his own lifetime as a writer of stage comedy".

Sorry, Oxford was known as an ineffective renegade in politics, an amateur incompetent in the tin trade, a misogynist, an Italianate foppish dabbler in forbidden arts and proscribed pleasures. a dilettante who squandered his fortune, welched on his debts and had to be bailed out by the Queen. No one ever suggested he was a Bankside Playwright. A producer of the odd dainty device for the court, maybe. Professional playwright, never. Think of the self-contradiction! Stritmatter is selling Oxford as the hidden hand behind Shakespeare, yet everyone knew him as a comic playwright?? And calling his poetry "tragic" is…well…just tragic.

He that takes the pain to pan the book

There are no reasoned arguments. You will find no detailed appreciation of what makes a Shakespearean quality. None. The answer, as I think we knew all along, is that Stritmatter is unequipped to point out Shakespearean qualities anywhere. Even in Shakespeare.



For readers who know anything about the Shakespeare authorship controversy, this book will sweep away any remaining doubts that the “identity crisis” matters. Moreover, careful readers will come away freed of all doubt that the pen behind the “Shakespeare” name was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.


Thomas GoffDedicated Oxfordian

Another reviewer -- whose review is based on "look inside" views -- has convincingly shown that Professor Stritmatter used the wrong version of Early English Books Online (EEBO) that omits as much as sixty percent of the material; and that Professor Stritmatter used limited search strings that failed to turn up sometimes dozens of phrases.


Philip BuchanOxfraud

Other reviews we think you'll want to read

Naturally the pages of Amazon are slowly filling up with fulsome reviews of Roger's book, almost certainly in response to private pleas from its author. There's even one written by the accredited publisher. No doubt they think that by piling up their five star reviews they can undo some of the damage.

None of the authors of these reviews realise that by praising the book they are compounding Roger's error. He's not only off Shakespeare's wavelength, he's not even on Oxford's. He can't use the tools at his disposal, nor admit his mistakes. Every favourable review is a confession that its author can't spot Strimatter's egregious errors. With each new positive review, they merely add another doubter to the list of the blind being led by the blind.

On, our verified purchaser looks at Stritmatter's data choices.

On, Nat dismantles the parallels and finds a disastrous failure in method.

What would Ben Jonson have made of it? We check.

Headlight puts the big question. Which version of EEBO did you use?

Ben Hackman straightens out the Doctor's Dicky Gervase ideas.

Where did it all go wrong?

Tables—meet it is we set them down
Appendix "A" Stritmatter's EEBO "hits".

You can't form meaningful conclusions from data if you don't clean your dataset and define its boundaries before you start poking around. Without carefully testing that your assumptions extract meaningful data. you cannot hope to produce meaningful results. Garbage In, Garbage Out as Stritmatter himself is very fond of saying whenever the tricky business of computerised stylometry contradicts one of his claims.

When he was analysing the frequency of Bible references, Stritmatter simply threw out almost two thirds of his data, deeming it not useful for his purpose. His problem here is even more basic than bad practice, however. The EEBO database he uses is divided into two separate collections of tables. The first, smaller collection is free. The second, larger collection requires a subscription. An analysis of each phrase he chooses for his queries permits a more careful researcher to infer he has forgotten (or is ignorant) of the existence of the subscription element of EEBO. He is therefore, unwittingly, working with less than half the data. None of his 'hits' are in the subscription data.

The first two tables below, from the book, show what Strimatter found in his searches. Our own table shows what he would have found had he taken more care and known what he was looking at. His results, with one irrelevant exception,all come up short. It follows then, that all the conclusions he draws are incorrect.

Exhibit A
Stritmatter Table
Exhibit B
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Exhibit C: The correct results from a search of the whole EEBO database



EEBO (1473-1623)

RS published figures

EEBO (1473-1623)

NW var. sp.

EEBO (1473-1623)

NW var. fm.




I am not glad




4/4 (PDD: same line)



rolling restless stone

2/2 “(both Sh.)”






roll the restless stone

5/5, “including E.O. 6 (includes variant spellings and forms rowl?e, rowles, and rolleth)”



3/3 (PDD: same line)



restless NEAR stone







roll NEAR restless NEAR stone




3/3 (PDD: same line)



restless stone NEAR Sisyphus







kingdom NEAR cottage NEAR grave

8/8 “(all to E.O. 6)”



1/1 (repeated in musical score)



kingdom NEAR cottage




1/1 (repeated in musical score)



cottage NEAR grave




1/1 (repeated in musical score)



kingdom NEAR grave




1/1 (repeated in musical score)



stricken deer

“None (only E.O.9 and Ham.)”



2/2 (PDD: same line)  Phase 2

2/2 EEBO; 3/3 (with HQ2)


stricken NEAR deer




2/2 (PDD: same line)  Phase 2

4/4 ; 5/5 (with HQ2)


stricken hind




0 delete this change



stricken hart







striken, stricken





1/1 “bad” Quarto of Hamlet


strooke(n), strucke(n)


11/11 + 8/8





winged with desire

2/2 “(Shakespeare & E.O.)”



0 hits in EEBO:  Manuscript only


2/1? 1/1?  (1 Henry VI 2.1 is currently ascribed to Marlowe)


winged desire







I force not NEAR a straw

2/2 “(both to Lucrece, none to E.O. 18)”

7/3 (1/1 x 5)


0 for Oxford; 1/1 (x5) for Anon.

2/2 (both Lucrece)


I force not NEAR a pin







I force not NEAR a whit







I force not NEAR a rush







did print




0 hits in EEBO:  Manuscript only Print ed. has “did paint”



sails and love


Incorrect search


Incorrect search

Incorrect search


sails NEAR love


57/52 (incl. fails)



0/0 This EEBO search does not return “Purple the sailes…loue-sick.”  The terms are too distant.


pipes of corn




0 for Oxford; 1/1 for Churchyard



pipes NEAR corn




0 for Oxford; 1/1 for Churchyard



come by fits

6/6 “(includes variant forms comes, commeth, and cometh)”



0 hits in EEBO: E.O. wrote “cometh but by fitts”



cometh but by fits




1/1 (PDD)



but by fits




1/1 (PDD)



when wert thou



22/20 (wast)


0?  1? (in Titus1.1, ascribed to Peele)


when wert thou born



5/4 (wast, werte)

2/2 (same line) Tr. “Quando nascesti”



hound NEAR horn




0 for Oxford; 3/3 for Churchyard

13/3?  (2/2 from Titus 1.1, Peele)


hound to horn




0 for Oxford; 3/3 for Churchyard



peascod time

unique to E.O. & W.S.



0 for Oxford; 3/3 for Churchyard

2/2 (same line)


Thousand cupids





0 not Shakespeare


taught NEAR thy tongue



14/14 (incl. teach)

 1/1 taught

1/1 teach


pluck NEAR weed







pluck NEAR weeds







plucks NEAR weeds







pluck[s] NEAR weed[s]







quiet breast




4/4 (PDD: same line)



I muse why




1/1 (PDD)



her soft hand




0 hits in EEBO:  Manuscript only

1/1 hands


each passion




0 hits in EEBO:  Manuscript only



When I am alone




3/3 (PDD: same line)



who taught thee







Thy mortal foe



33/33 (foes)

4/4 (PDD: same line)



blushing NEAR morning




3/3 blushing

2/2 a blush


I am abused




0 hits in EEBO:  Manuscript only




these beauties




3/3 (same line)



make me die




3/3 (same line)



speedy haste







happy star



59/47 (stars)

4/4 (PDD: same line)



carnation NEAR colour




1/1 (PDD)



Thy nurse




2/2 (same line).



who [was] thy nurse




2/2 (same line). Tr. “Chi fu la tua nutrice”



gentle hearts



253/166 (heart)

1/1 Tr. “Il gentil core.”



eyes do see




2/2 (PDD: same line)

3/2 (do + did)

Explanatory Notes to Table

Stritmatter refuses to say what version of EEBO he used for his searches, but he universally misses all hits and records belonging to EEBO-TCP Phase 2.  That global error, at a stroke, invalidates every figure in his tables, but for one.  He is correct that “kingdom NEAR cottage NEAR grave” is unique to Oxford.  It has nothing to do with Shakespeare.

2. &  3. rolling restless stone — roll the restless stone

Stritmatter believes that “Both [Oxford and Shakespeare] employ the same description of fortune’s ‘rolling restless stone.’”

They do not.

Both make unusual use of that conjunction of words, but in very different ways.

Oxford: “My haplesse happ doeth roule the restlesse stone.”

Shakespeare:  “That Godes blinde that stands vpon the rowling restlesse stone.”

Stritmatter finds only Shakespeare’s two uses of “rowling restlesse stone” (strictly just one, appearing in the Quarto and Folio texts of Henry V).  Somehow, he’s missed “and Sisyphus with thy rowling restles stone, waile ye no more” (from the much-read Philotimus, 1583), and with a slight infix, “the rolling and restlesse stone of Sisyphus” (1566).  Either by design or abject ignorance, he’s managed to keep the appearances of “roll the restless stone” down to 5/5.  He really really needs that EEBO tutorial.  By mis-designing his search, he’s missed the whole point of the exercise. 

Between 1494 and 1623, the phrase “restless stone” appears 37 times in 35 books, and “restless” near “stone,” 41 times in 39 books.  Setting aside the reprints, that’s 36 unique instances in 34 books.  Thirty-two of them use some variant of “roll,” but that’s not strictly necessary:  others tumble or turn.  Thirty-one of them name Sisyphus explicitly.  The others (save the two by Oxford and Shakespeare) speak of futility, of labour in vain.  Even the mention of moss is Sisyphean.  As Lyly writes in Euphues (1580):  “there wil no mosse sticke to the stone of Sisiphus, no grasse hang on the héeles of Mercurie.”

“Restless stone” or “rolling restless stone” is almost an Homeric epithet for Sisyphus, playing on two meanings of “restless”:  the stone is at once constantly in motion (OED 2b.) and yielding no rest (OED 1b.) to Sisyphus.  In icongraphic terms, it’s his attribute, his instrument of pagan martyrdom, his emblem.  And the equivalence goes on through Dryden, to the very end of EEBO’s texts.  The first “restless stone” I found that wasn’t Sisyphus’s rock (it was a slingstone), was in 1657.

Fortune’s icongraphy is quite different.  Northampton writes in 1583:  “The Paynters alwayes paynte out fortune, eyther standyng on a rowlyng stone, which mooueth and remooueth still, but neuer gathers mosse, or wyth a sayle ouer head, which wayteth and attendeth vppon the chaunge of euery wynd, or sitting in her wheele, whose turnes are swifter then the thoughts of man.”

“Stoode fortune reeling on a rowling stone” (Middleton, 1600).

“Fortune fleeting as the restlesse wind.” (Greene, 1590)

“Fortune blind doeth kepe no state, her stone doth roule, as floodes now flowe, floodes also ebbe” (1563).

“Fortune some say shee hath a restles wheele” (1637).

“Here and there on rolling bal enforceth fortune blinde” (1565).

Neither “Fortune” nor “goddess” ever appears in conjunction with a “restless stone”:  only her wind and her wheel are called “restless.”  Yes, she stands upon a rolling stone.   But it rolls of itself; she does not roll it.  The image here is not of restless labour, but of haphazardness.

So what on earth does Oxford mean by “My haplesse happ doeth roule the restlesse stone”?  The sense of the poem is that he “loves alofte,” desires an unobtainable woman and hopes to get lucky.  “My haplesse happ” would be his personal misfortune, not the goddess.  Fortune herself is not hapless, but randomly cruel or beneficent.  Nor does she belong to Oxford, or to anyone.  Hap is what Fortune deals out, as several poems in PDD point out.  There R.D. writes:  “To what hard hap, doth Fortune here me binde.”  Another poet that year wrote succinctly:  “And fortune framde this hap.”

(“Hapless hap,” by the way, was quite the catch phrase, appearing 53 times in 29 books by 1623, 15 in 9 in the twelve years before The paradyse of daynty deuises.  Shakespeare never uses it.)

So this isn’t about Fortune in the classical sense:  Oxford’s hapless hap is a condition, not a deity.  Misfortune may stand upon a rolling stone, but it has no power to roll it, to direct its course.  Nor is this an image of Sisyphus:  Oxford is frustrated in his desire to make his Phebe, but he isn’t working to win her, toiling hopelessly.   He’s whingeing (making “secret mone”) and languishing.  What he seems to be rolling are dice:

Yet lucke sometymes dispairyng souls doeth save,
A happie starre made Giges joye attaine

So what is “ roule the restlesse stone” doing in this poem?  Not much.  I think Oxford  just heard a well-sounding phrase—he adored alliteration—and stuck it in his poem as an ornament.  He does that sometimes in his letters, sometimes garbling the sense or spelling:   “I see it is but vayne calcitrare contra li buoi [to kick against the oxen, instead the ox-goad],” “fyre facias.”

As for Shakespeare, consider whose speech this is:
Pistol. Bardolph, a Souldier firme and sound of heart,
and of buxome valour, hath by cruell Fate, and giddie
Fortunes furious fickle Wheele, that Goddesse blind, that
stands vpon the rolling restlesse Stone.

Pistol’s speeches are made up of tatters of old bombast in “King Cambyses vein.”  And he mangles them fearfully.  Think of:  “shal pack-horses, and hollow pamperd iades of Asia which cannot goe but thirtie mile a day, compare with Caesars and with Canibals, and troiant Greekes? nay rather damne them with King Cerberus, and let the Welkin roare.”

He’s begun by mangling Marlowe, confused Hannibal with anthropophagi, and melded Greeks with Trojans.  Cerberus, of course, is the three-headed dog that guards hell, not its king.  It was Pistol’s style to botch his classics:  a joke for those in Shakespeare’s audience who’d been to grammar school.  So in his speech to Fluellen, the swaggerer has got his emblems all mixed up.  Picture Fortune trying to stand on the rock as Sisyphus rolls it.

Shakespeare sets out brilliantly to do for his characters what Oxford does feebly for himself:  bungle his allusions.  De Vere is more like an invention of Shakespeare’s, more like Pistol or like Peter Quince with his relentlessly alliterative fourteeners—than like Shakespeare himself.

4.      kingdom NEAR cottage NEAR grave

Not in Shakespeare, what’s the point?

The invidual pieces aren’t especially rare.

The count of “kingdom NEAR grave” is approximate, as a number of homonyms (“grave counsellor,” “graven in stone”) are returned, and I haven’t the time to weed them out.

Though it’s not in EEBO, do not forget Sidney’s sharp retort in Chetham MS.8012:

An easy choys of three things one to crave,
Noe kingdome, nor a cottage, but a grave.

5.      stricken deer

Dr. S. is exquisitely careful not “trip up readers” by quoting original texts. For all they know—for all he knows—Oxford and Shakespeare really “are the only two to use” the phrase “stricken deer” in his period 1473-1623. Actually, no one did, not in that exact spelling: which may be why he failed to discover it in EEBO. What actually appears in the first three editions of PDD is “striken Deare”; what is printed in the 1604 Quarto of Hamlet is “strooken Deere,” and in the First Folio, “strucken Deere.” These are not just “variant spelling[s],” as Stritmatter airily says, but represent a genuine paradigm shift in the later 16th century: they belong to the old and new conjugations of the irregular verb “to strike.” Shakespeare’s English belongs to the new paradigm; Oxford’s is hopelessly mid-century. What this unschooled editor’s modernized spelling conceals is a mismatch in their linguistic DNA. Ironically, his attempt to link them through a commonplace common phrase has only pointed up their incompatibility.

“As the stricken deer withdraws himself to die” is proverbial, a common topos of the Renaissance. (The entry in the illustration is from Morris Palmer Tilley’s A dictionary of the proverbs in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.) It appears in poetry, in natural histories, in sermons, plays, and emblem books. (The one illustrated here is Henry Peacham’s Minerva Britanna.) Has Stritmatter never read As You Like It, with Jacques’ descant on the sobbing deer? Or Hamlet?

Not for their content, no. He insists on stripping Early Modern literature of meaning, and treating it as a field for an anti-scavenger hunt: he who returns with the fewest hits wins. He’s pretty smug about this one: “Indicating the extreme rarity of the phrase’ stricken deer,’ EEBO (1473-1623) returns no hits for it, or for the variant spelling ‘strucken deer.’” (72) And in his tables: “None (only E.O. 9 and Ham.)”

No hits? If you can’t make EEBO return a phrase that’s in front of you, maybe something is wrong with your search. Just saying. Up through 1623, I get 34 hits in 32 titles, 26 in 25 not counting reprints, plus 6/6 for hinds and 2/2 for harts, with 23 post-placed verbs, like Shakespeare’s “how like a Deere, stroken by many Princes.” In short, “stricken deer” is about about as rare as “flat tire.”

It’s such a fine line between unique and ubiquitous.

“Stricken” even has its own special definition: OED II.2. “Of a deer ... : Wounded in the chase.” The first citation under that is from Eneados (1513), Gavin Douglas’s Middle Scots translation of Virgil’s AEneid. He writes of unhappy Dido “Our all the cetie enragit scho heir and thar / Wandris, as ane strikin hynd” (throughout the city, she wanders in a frenzy, like a stricken hind). That’s a pretty close translation of the Latin, where the key phrase is “coniecta cerva sagitta” (a deer stricken with an arrow). After that, a punctured deer was de rigueur in epic: Phaër’s AEneidos has a “striken dere”; Surrey’s Aeneidos has a “strycken Hynde”; Spenser’s Faerie Queene announces its ambition with a “striken hind” and a “stricken Deare.”

So the would-be poet Oxford had plenty to borrow from, in the best Drab Age tradition. His models would have been Surrey (later, Puttenham would quote Surrey with approval), Gascoigne, the 1573 edition of Phaër’s Aeneid.

His stricken deer, however, is from a slightly different parable in the tradition, best described by Robert Greene: “The Deare being strooken, though neuer so déep, féedeth on the hearb Dictamnum [dittany of Crete], and forthwith is healed.” Oxford's figure is flawed: he compares himself to a deer who can be healed, to a hawk who can be subjugated, to a tower utterly destroyed. He is merely heaping up figures of the self-pitying lover borrowed from other Drab Age poets, without thinking how they fit together. Argument would never be his strongest skill.

Those better acquainted with Shakespeare than Dr. Stritmatter will remember Hamlet’s maliciously exultant chant: “Why, let the strucken Deere go weepe...” He’s either singing a snatch of a popular ballad, or extemporizing one. He’s mocking both poor poor wounded Claudius—for the moment the prince thinks he’s got the bleeper nailed—and the whole pathetic trope. Vernacular ballads, of course, were far more widely circulated than anthologies of courtly poetry, and even more ephemeral. It’s likely that “stricken deer” was spoken or sung far more often than it appeared in print.

Like so many Drab Age poets, Oxford merely bewails his fortune as a stricken deer. Shakespeare being Shakespeare, he interrogates the phrase. It is the slippery rhetorician Antony in Julius Caesar who says, “How like a Deere, stroken by many Princes / Dost thou here lie!” (III.i). Cassius knows that tongue will make trouble at the funeral, and begs Brutus not to let him speak. And Hal’s eulogy—half rueful, half mocking—on Falstaff’s feigned death up-ends the whole topos: “Death hath not strooke so fat a Deere to day.” (That’s 1 Henry IV Q1; F has “strucke”). That, by the way, is the sole recorded use of “hath not strooke” in EEBO, the very first use of “hath not strucke.” Not only the irreverence, but the verb form is new.

Sharper eyes and ears than the professor’s will have noticed that Shakespeare uses “strucken” and “stroken” and “strooke.” Either with intention to deceive, or by simple error, Stritmatter has used the anomalous “stricken deere” from the problematic 1603 Quarto, the one with the startlingly strange soliloquy: “To be or not to be, I there's the point / To Die, to sleepe, is that all? I all: / No, to sleepe, to dreame, I mary there it goes.” It has dubious textual authority, to say the least. Shakespeare overwhelmingly favored forms of that past participle with back vowels: mostly “strooke” and “strucke,” but “strooken” in Romeo & Juliet and Love’s Labours Lost and Hamlet Q2 (all considered “good quartos,” closest to authorial intent); “strucken” in the First Folio version of Hamlet, in Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, and King Lear; “stroken” in Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and Lucrece. Both the narrative poems are thought to have been carefully printed, under authorial oversight. Besides turning up in the “bad quarto” of Hamlet, “stricken” appears only in the Folio of Richard II (the Quarto has “throwne”), and once in Julius Caesar, which otherwise has “strucken,” “stroken,” “strooke.” That’s few enough instances to have been introduced by typographers or scriveners.

Roger Lass, in The Cambridge History of the English Language, explains the evolution of the verb:

“STRIKE The original pattern, past ‘stroke’ or N ‘strake,’ past pple ‘strick(en)’ remains as a minority type into the nineteenth century, but the old ‘stricken’ becomes an independent adjective quite early, and a new past/past pple type, ‘struck, struck(en)’ appears in the sixteenth century, and takes over.” (169)

So Oxford’s “stricken” represents the old paradigm of the verb. Shakespeare’s preferred paradigm is the nearly modern “strike, strooke, strooke/strooken,” which he (or his copyists and printers) slightly favors over “strucke/strucken.” His is the first recorded use in English (1604, the year of Oxford’s death) of “strooken Deere.” (Inexplicably, the Second Quarto of Hamlet is not in EEBO, but there’s an excellent facsimile at Internet Shakespeare Editions.) It never caught on. After about 1600, “struck” begins to predominate everywhere, except in well-worn phrases like “stricken deer.” In our Late Modern English, “stricken,” like “smitten,” survives as a fossil, used in certain contexts: “The sentence was stricken out”; “She was smitten with her vision of the poet earl”; “He was stricken with a bad case of Sisyphus.”

6. winged with desire

Stritmatter allows Oxford and Shakespeare one use each.  Actually, there are two in Shakespeare, though neither may be his own words, since they’re from the first Henriad:  “Swift-winged with desire to get a grave” (1 Henry VI) and “that hatefull Duke, Whose haughtie spirit, winged with desire, Will cost my Crowne” (3 Henry VI).  Current scholarship assigns that latter speech to Marlowe, and the first to Shakespeare.

Next:  Oxford’s “Wing’de with desyre” isn’t in EEBO.  That poem was circulated only in manuscript collection.  It wasn’t in print.  Even with the example of Oxford’s “Wing’de” before him, Stritmatter fails to find the other 5 instances spelled with an apostrophe.
So we have 7/6, with possibly one or two Shakespeares, and no Oxford at all.

7.      I force not NEAR a straw

“I force not X a straw.”  That means:  I don’t care a [bleep] about X.  Je m’en fiche.  It’s fairly commonplace, with variants on [bleep]:  a straw, a pin, a whit, a rush.

The anonymous author of lyrics set by William Byrd (1588) writes “I force not Cressus wealth a straw … I feare not Fortunes fatall law.”

Shakespeare has:  “For me, I force not argument a straw, / Since that my case is past the help of law.”  That’s from his Lucrece (1594, reprinted 1616).

Both examples here have “straw,” to rhyme with “law.”  Both may derive from the 1566 translation of Seneca (reprinted 1581): “That man alone who forceth not the ficle fates a strawe.”

Stritmatter notes only 2 hits in 2 records, “both to Lucrece, none to E.O. 18.”  That is, h e entirely misses Byrd’s Psalmes, sonets, which belongs to the EEBO-TCP Phase 2 collection.

He has patched together his E.O. 18 from two different poems.  Steven May rejects Oxford’s authorship of the lyrics from which “I force not Cressus wealth a straw” is taken.  He writes, “There seems to be no candidate for the authorship of this sequel.  No Elizabethan text combines them in whole or part. ... Parts 1 and 2 must be separate poems which were no doubt combined to fill out the sheet when “My mind to me’ was prepared for broadside publication. Just how early this occurred is impossible to say, but there is no evidence for such a merger before the seventeenth century.”  I note that in Byrd’s Psalmes, sonets (1588), “I Ioy not in no earthly blisse” appears as song XI. and “My minde to me a kingdome is,” as song XIIII.  If anything, Part 2 appears to be a prequel.  They are set to quite different tunes, in (as far as I can tell) different time signatures.  Byrd evidently didn’t see them as a single poem.

8.      did print

And yet again, Stritmatter’s Oxford example isn’t in EEBO.  That’s because “did print” appears only in manuscript copies of this poem.  The only (and substantially altered) version in print appears as Sonnet LX. in Thomas Watson’s anthology The tears of fancie (1593).  It doesn’t turn up in EEBO searches because the text reads “VVho first did paint with coullers pale thy face?”

Given Elizabethan technology, “paint with colors” makes more sense than “print with colours.”  Shakespeare’s image is less elementary:  he sees conception as a perfect imprint of the sire on the woman’s blank:  “Your Mother was most true to Wedlock, Prince, / For she did print your Royall Father off, / Conceiuing you.”  For him, “print” is tactile:  it impresses, leaves its mark. 

printlesse foote

thrust thy necke into a yoke, weare the print of it

like an Agot with your print impressed,

Printing their prowd Hoofes i' th' receiuing Earth:

9. sails and love

Not a correctly stated EEBO search:  “sails and love” will return only that exact phrase, which doesn’t exist in the database.  Zero hits.  Sails AND love will drag up any text that has either word anywhere in it, at no matter what distance.  I got an astronomical 135758 hits in 1502 records.  The problem is compounded, since EEBO cannot distinguish between “sail” and “fail.”

I searched sails NEAR love and got 57/52 (fails included).  What I didn’t get was Shakespeare’s great speech about Cleopatra’s barge at Cydnus, “Purple the Sailes: and so perfumed that / The Windes were Loue-sicke” (A&C 2.2.193-194).  Why not?  Because “Sailes” and “Loue-sicke” aren’t near by EEBO’s definition.  You have to manually reset the nearness default to get that line returned.  I wonder if Stritmatter even noticed its absence?

Comparing it with Oxford’s pompous little line “Then loftie Loue, thy sacred sailes aduaunce,” he writes:  “Shakespeare is one of only four poets...”

And what four would those be?  An actual scholar would tell us, with citations.  And how on earth did Strit filter those four out of the vast welter of returns?  This sounds like an Oxfordian meme, recirculated by the faithful.

Why not prose?

If Strimatter really wants to investigate, to verify his statement, he can do an advanced search in EEBO, or try LION, which would allow him the distinction into poetry, drama, prose.

Meanwhile, he can ponder such random examples as:

you hoist not vp the loftie saile of selfe-loue, to swell with the winde of vainglory

That traitor Loue, was Pilot to my woe,
My Sailes were hope, spread with my sighs of griefe,

Whose haughtie Loue not for his loue relents,
But hoysing vp her sayle of prowd disdaine,

as loue seemed continually to fill the sayles,

His [Cupid’s] quiuer is his bote, his bow hee makes his ore,
His winges serue for his sayles, and so loue euermore

It is good sayling before the wynd.: Loues happynes is heer by wynd and tydes accord, / Borne...

sayling with the Winde of Loue

Each troubled thought an Oare, each sigh a winde,
VVhose often puffes haue rent my Sayles in twaine.
LOVE steeres the Boat

A gale of hope expels al feare,
And makes the winde to ouerblow:
Twixt feare and hope these Louers saile

for I knowe not how the sweet guiles of loue, and care, doo fill the sailes of my speech,

Not with slow sailes, but with loues goulden winges,
My ship shall be borne with teares, and blowne with sighes

So doth my loue in stormy billowes saile,

By which loue sailes to regions ful of blis,

in the sea of Loue they alone can tell how to saile in faire weather

Could not Tancredres hart to loue-ward moue,
His sailes were filled with another winde,

the Church is the ship, the anker is hope, the sailes are loue,

Sweet Zephirus to winne a wreath
Into loues sailes goodwill did breath.

The returns do need to be weeded (as noted, EEBO cannot distinguish between “sails” and “fails”) but it’s clearly a commonplace in poetry of love to call up images of ships, of sails, of voyages, of seas.

Nevertheless, Stritmatter insists that “Shakespeare is one of only four poets  who spontaneously associates sails and love.”
“Spontaneously”?  As anyone who’s ever studied Antony and Cleopatra knows, that speech is a brilliant reworking of North’s Plutarch’s Lives.  Cleopatra took “her barge in the riuer of Cydnus, the poope whereof was of gold, the sailes of purple, and the owers of siluer .... she was ... apparelled and attired like the goddesse Venus.”

The sails are real historical sails here, not metaphorical:  they were purple and perfumed (“a wonderfull passing sweete sauor of perfumes”).  And Venus, of course, is Love.  It is Shakespeare’s conceit to have the perfume of the sails infect the very winds, which then would breathe her sweet infection on all who came to look on her.

10. & 13.   pipes of corn — hound NEAR horn

This poem is not Oxford’s, according to his scholarly editor, Steven May, but “by Thomas Churchyard, first published in his Churchyard's Chance of 1580.”  There it runs to 124 lines. “Although Churchyard is undoubtedly responsible for the full text of this poem, its unique continuation in Hy after line thirty-two could be Oxford’s.” That is:  in one single manuscript, the original poem is cut short, and new material is added, in a different style.  “Especially noticeable is the near disappearance ... of the internal rime which is used consistently in Churchyard's version, an indication that someone other than Churchyard wrote the continuation.”

10.    pipes of corn

Pan-pipes are de rigueur in pastoral.  Quite possibly, Shakespeare’s and Churchyard’s “pipes of corne” allude to Spenser’s “pypes made of greene corne” in The shepheardes calender (1579); which in turn echoes Chaucer’s “pypes made of grene corne.”

13.    hound NEAR horn

Of course, Stritmatter avoids searching Churchyard’s actual phrase, “hound to horn,” because Shakespeare doesn’t use it.  Hounds and horns naturally appear in Venus and  Adonis, and six times in Titus Andronicus (twice in stage directions, four times in dialogue), doubled in Quarto and Folio.  One of those lines is from George Peele’s Act 1.

Stritmatter does not include “peascod time” in this table, but claims that the phrase is unique to”E.O. 21” (as he call this chimaera) and to Shakespeare.  This is nonsense.  “Peascod time” is vernacular, about as poetic as “mud season” or “spring break.”   It just means “when peas are in season,” May and June.  EEBO hasn’t input the first edition of Thomas Tusser’s Hundreth good pointes of husbandrie (1557), in which the phrase first appears in print, but the OED cites it:  “ere peskod time come.”  This is a book for farmers and their wives, rhyming their tasks through the year:  haruest time, akorne time, peskod time.  All the poetry is in the pleasantness of spring.  There are 8 EEBO hits in all:  three to Churchayrd, two to Shakespeare, one to a later version of Tusser (1573), one to Anthony Holborne’s setting of the tune for cittern (1597).  The last (“being Pese-cod time, I am appeas’d) wasn’t published until 1647, and then as by Beaumont and Fletcher; but recent scholarship has re-assigned it to Middleton and Rowley, and dated it (by its topical allusions) to 1613.  It was a popular tune right through the 17th century.

Churchyard’s use of “peascod time” is poetical-pastoral, very much in inverted commas; Shakespeare’s is vernacular and earthy, bittersweetly comic:  “Well, fare thee well: I haue knowne thee these twentie nine yeeres, come Pescod-time: but an honester, and truer-hearted man— Well, fare thee well.”  Oxford couldn’t write like that to save his soul.

11.  come by fits

Cheat.  What Oxford wrote was “cometh but by fitts.” As with “hound to horn,” Stritmatter cunningly tailors his searches to avoid mis-matches with Shakespeare.  The playwright never uses “but by fits,” but many others do.

12., 32. & 33.      when wert thou — thy nurse — gentle hearts

Stritmatter takes three phrases from one poem, “E.O. 11”:  “when wert thou,” “thy nurse,” and “gentle hearts.” 

12.    when wert thou

There’s nothing here but an auxiliary verb, meaningless on its own:  the correct search would be “when wert thou born?”  Of course, that clause appears nowhere in Shakespeare, so Stritmatter cuts it short.  

Oxford’s poem is one of several contemporary translations from an Italian sonnet by Panfilo Sassi (or Sasso) that was set as a madrigal.   Curiously, Sasso’s (or Sassi’s) name appears nowhere in Stritmatter’s book.  For any other editor, this would have been a shocking dereliction—for Stritmatter, it’s typical.  The original “Quando nascesti amor?” means “When wast thou born, Love?”

The first of these translations in EEBO is Henry Chillester’s from his Youthes witte, or, The vvitte of grene youth choose gentlemen, and mez-dames which of them shall best lyke you (1581).  He renders the line:  “O Loue, when wast thou borne?”

Oxford’s version, according to Steven May, was “written by December, 1582, for line 14 is quoted in Melbancke's Philotimus.”  It is quoted at greater length by George Puttenham in The arte of English poesie (1589), and appears in full in Brittons bovvre of delights (1591), edited by Nicholas Breton.  There are only very slight differences:  “When wert thou borne desire?” and “VVHen wert thou born Desire?”

Also in 1582, according to Steven May, “Thomas Watson published his Hekatompathia, a work dedicated to Oxford.”  Poem 22 in that work”is an analogue to Oxford’s No. 11 [Stritmatter’s E.O. 11], though both ultimately derive from Panfilo Sassi's Rime 1.221.”  Watson has “WHen werte thou borne sweet Loue?”

The one use in Shakespeare is completely unrelated:  “Titus when wer't thou wont to walke alone, / Dishonoured thus and Challenged of wrongs?”  Moreover, it’s from Titus 1.1, from a scene now ascribed to George Peele.

So:  not even a complete verb, not even Oxford’s original, but one of three similar translations, nothing like Shakespeare’s usage, and not even Shakespeare’s own line.

That’s going to shift the paradigm all right.

32.    Thy nurse

“Thy nurse” is commonplace.  This time what Stritmatter didn’t search was “who [was] thy nurse?”  That translates the original “Chi fu la tua nutrice?”

The line appears in both Oxford’s and Watson’s versions, and both “when wert thou borne?” and “who thy nurse?” appear in two similar dialog poems from Nicholas Breton’s The vvil of vvit, vvits vvill, or vvils wit, chuse you whether (1597).

Love that title.

33.   gentle hearts

“In gentle hearts” exactly translates Sasso’s “In gentil core.”

“Gentle hearts,” and above all, “gentle heart” is yet another well-used phrase:  253/166 for singular and plural.  Shakespeare uses both, so both are relevant.  The adjective was a notable favorite of his.

I cannot imagine the self-obsessed Oxford writing or appreciating the player-poet’s line “You Ladies, you (whose gentle harts do feare / The smallest monstrous mouse that creepes on floore).”

14.    Thousand cupids

“Thousand cupids” appears nowhere in Shakespeare.

15.    taught NEAR thy tongue

Just this once, Stritmatter appears to have searched variant forms, in order to match Oxford’s leaden “Who taught thy Tongue the wofull wordes of plaint ?” with Shakespeare’s quick-witted  “And if I were thy Nurse, thy tongue to teach / Pardon should be the first word of thy speach.”

16. & 17.   pluck NEAR weed — pluck NEAR weeds

Stritmatter has searched “pluck NEAR weed,” and as an afterthought (it appears at the very end of his tables), “pluck NEAR weeds.”  I’ve made the two consecutive, for easier comparison.  Oxford used neither, exactly, but “He pulles the flowers, the other pluckes but weedes.”  That “pluckes but weedes” is unique to him.  Shakespeare’s use is “The Caterpillers of the Commonwealth, / Which I haue sworne to weed, and plucke away.”  Of course, plucks and weeds are a natural association, and the collocation is frequent.

20.    her soft hand

“Her softe hande” appears in May only in Poems Possibly By Oxford, and only in manuscript at that. There are no EEBO hits for this poem.  Shakespeare uses only the plural, “her soft hands.”

21.    each passion

Along with “print with Coloures,” “ech passion” has vanished from the one published version of 15.  In print, “With pacient mynd ech passion to endure” has become “VVho made thy mind with patience paines indure?”

25.    blushing near morning

Oxford has “The morning blushing red.”  Shakespeare has “a blush / Modest as morning.”  The one’s a participial phrase, and the other’s a noun.  By rights, Stritmatter should have searched variant forms, which would have tripled his results.  Dead commonplace.

26.    I am abused

Another manuscript-only poem for Oxford.  Compare his nasty “I rest revengd of whome I am abusd” with Shakespeare’s witty ““Now my foes tell me plainly, I am an Asse: so that by my foes sir, I profit in the knowledge of my selfe, and by my friends I am abused.”

30.    happy star

“Adjectives used to personify stars are common in canonical Shakespeare.”  I hope that Strimatter doesn’t envision a happy star running about with little ripples of girlish laughter.  “Happy” here means “auspicious,” “fortunate.”  Shakespeare uses both “starre” and “starres.”  So do many others.

31.    carnation near colour

A favourite Elizabethan fashion note.  Compare Oxford’s droopy “I mette a knyght, Clad in Carnation Colour fayre” with Shakespeare’s “A could neuer abide Carnation, ’twas a Colour he neuer lik'd.”


34.    eyes do see

Well, yes, that’s what they do.  Unless you’re Shakespeare:  “The eye of man hath not heard, the eare of man hath not seen, mans hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceiue, nor his heart to report, what my dreame was.”

There’s nothing like that in all of Oxford’s tin-eared, lead-footed, cloth-witted, pompous, obvious, and incoherent writings.

In 2013, we caught Roger discerning Shakespearean qualities in Dyer's poem that he could not then identify. In this book he has failed even more comprehensively. Before we turned off the counters waiting for Roger to come up with a response last time, there had been....
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