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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
Marder's Reply to Harpers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1085  Tuesday, 29 June 1999.

From:           Louis Marder <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Jun 1999 17:57:23 -0500
Subject:        Reply to Harpers

[Editor's Note: This posting is not intended to be an invitation to open the so-called "authorship" debate. Professor Marder wrote a response to Harpers, which I sent out in the spirit that the media just does not seem to get it. What follows is a continuation of Prof. Marder's earlier post. Comments should be addressed directly to him at 
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 . -HMC]

For your consideration and comments.

From:

Louis Marder, C.E.O. and Editor, The Shakespeare Data Bank
Founder and Editor, The Shakespeare Newsletter, 1951-1991
Professor Emeritus, The University of Illinois-Chicago
1217 Ashland Avenue, Evanston, Illinois 60202-1103
E-mail 
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Nota Bene: Nothing from here is to be quoted extensively without giving credit to Louis Marder.

Tearing the Oxfordian Obsession to Tatters: A Select and Still Incomplete Compendium for a Proposed Book on the Authorship Question

Here are my reasons why, though I think I have had more personal contact and more verbal combat with the followers of the 17th Earl of Oxford than any other orthodox Shakespearean in the world, I still cannot accept any aspect of the Oxfordian hypothesis, nor do I see how anyone else reasonably can.

I know that nothing I say here will be acceptable to Oxfordians who believe more in their assumed faith and intense emotions rather than in the known facts.  I believe that the following numbered statements are based on irrefutable facts.  I accept as evidence anything written or printed and accepted without question by Shakespeare's contemporaries and those who knew him, regardless of when it was recorded.  I also accept the existence of some recorded evidence based on hearsay or untenable tradition. A solid fact is one that can be accepted by both sides as true.  When it accords with all else that we know it must be accepted.  It cannot be discarded because it doesn't fit the alternate theory.   If there is a so-called "fact," we must make sure it is used properly and fits the place where it is introduced without qualification.

A fun anecdote about using facts: A mother suspects her son of ungentlemanly behavior with the pretty young girl next door.  The son violently protests the accusation. One day the mother goes out to her car and finds a bra in the back seat.  Aha!  With the evidence in hand she confronts her son, accuses him, shows him the bra.  "Now what have you got to say." she screams.  But alas, the mother learns that the bra she has presented as evidence is a size 42-D.  The sweet young girl next door can't be any more than a 34-A.   Ward Elliott of Claremont-McKenna College put it another way, Oxford had a hat, but it doesn't fit Shakespeare.  He looked for Oxford's fingerprints in Shakespeare and what he found did not match.  Put still another way, he compared his group's work to a blood test.  In that case, Shakespeare's type was A-positive and Oxford's Z-negative.

Oxfordians will apply opinions, suppositions, conjectures, quibbles, and equivocation to my statements, but present no plain, unadulterated facts, the kind that both sides can agree on without "buts".   There can be opinions, suppositions, conjectures, quibbling, and equivocation applied to these statements, but I am seeking for plain facts - the kind that made the literary and professional judges and juries in all previous cases decide in favor of  Shakespeare.  When Oxfordians lose moot court trials or debates they discount the decision.  They say that their big gun Charlton Ogburn wasn't there; or they ssy they couldn't destroy the 350 -year-belief in Shakespeare in two hours.  Oxfordians mention with pride that, among many other lectures that the current Earl of Oxford (now Lord Burford) has given before interested observers, he appeared later at a moot court at Faneuil Hall in Boston before over 900 people.  They did not mention that he lost the decision. Should they have won those trials they would have flaunted them to the skies. The controversy is a literary war where the Oxfordians lose all the battles, but doggedly continue their war of words though they have been repeatedly defeated in recent trials except oncee where the presiding judge cast the final vote for Oxford.

I find no reason to disqualify Shakespeare because Oxfordians assert that Shakespeare could not have had the cultural heritage, courtly demeanor, taste, university and legal education, travel experience, knowledge of French and Italian, and sporting knowledge that Oxfordians believe are basic requirements for the author.

I find no valid reason to believe that Shakespeare is merely a name and that another man who assumed his name wrote the works.  There is no reason to believe that Shakespeare was an unlettered country bumpkin who couldn't spell his name twice in the same way, an impostor, a usurer, a nom de plume, a literary fabrication, an illiterate grain merchant, an enigma wrapped in a mystery.  Shakespeare is no phantom of the opera.  The members of his company of actors would have suspected and known it if an illiterate ignoramus was giving their company the great plays that so pleased Eliza and James.

I believe it is an established fact that the less people know of the documented and printed truth, the less they have read of the orthodox literature, the more likely they are to accept and believe anything that others tell them.  It has been truly said that the less a person knows, the more certain he is that he knows it.   I have been led to feel that those Oxfordians who have read widely in Shakespearean biography have read merely to find items to feed their own speculative interpretations.  They certainly disregard the other documented evidence that is there.

I write in the usual tradition that we have known "facts", printed on title pages and entered in official documents which were believed by his contemporaries and others for over three hundred years.  These facts cannot be obliterated or drowned by pouring doubt over them and substituting for them conjectural, doubtful, presumptive, deductive, and speculative guesses, surmises, assumptions, hypotheses, inferences, extrapolations, probabilities, wishful thinking, and personal opinions.  All this makes a case based on circumstantial evidence.  It may sound credible from their point of view, but their point of view is all wrong.  In the end it is only and still imaginatively circumstantial.

Can any number of such substituted conjectural and doubtful facts lead to a valid conclusion?  Virtually every argument presented by Oxfordians is based on controversial and manufactured interpretations of known evidence.   No logic, no contrived syllogism can be applied when the basic premises are not tenable.  A strong house can be built on sand, but it cannot stand long.  "Not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm" off the uncontested evidence of title pages and entries in the Stationers' Register (the Elizabethan copyright office) which prove the authorship of Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, no matter how the Stationers or printers spelled his name.

I have entertained (take that both ways) the authorship question for over sixty years and enjoy it to sharpen my wit and promote the truth.  If more people are led to read the plays and poems because of the controversy - it's a worthy cause.  The truth will out.  The truth is out.  Confusing the general public will continue to cause curiosity, but it will not prove anything.  Nothing can convince a person if his belief is based on faith or pure deductive reasoning - beginning with the premise that Oxford is Shakespeare.   They would say that Mermaids and Centaurs exist, therefore, deductively, at one time fish and animals obviously mated with men. But the inductive method would be to prove it with a fact - by trying it a zillion times today to see if it works. Of course people show interest.  Everyone loves a mystery.  But those who show interest cannot be counted as converts to the cause.

I should say that there is deductive reasoning and Deductive Reasoning.   I use the capitalized form.  Shakespeare's name appears on the title pages of many works.  His name is given as the author in the Stationers' Register for quarto editions and the 1623 Folio has his name is on the title page of that First Folio along with other plays never published before, his colleagues never thought that Shakespeare was an illiterate yokel.   From that I deduce that he was the author of the plays and poems. That Inductive Reasoning?  If you won't admit, you'd better quit.  Creating a web of fictive evidence will catch flies, but it cannot prove anything.

Why do I say this?  Read on.  If you are an Oxfordian and your gorge rises as you read, stop and think.  Are you offering a valid denial that Shakespeare did not write the plays based on written or printed fact, or, I say again, expressing a guess, a conjectural parallelism, an opinion, an interpretation, wishful thinking, a fanciful extrapolation from doubtful or untenable evidence, or whatever?  Read and perpend:

1.      There is not a shred of actual evidence to prove that Shake-speare is a pseudonym for Oxford.  Nor so far as I know is there any evidence to prove that a hyphen in a name positively indicates a pseudonym.

2.      There is so far as I know not an iota of evidence to prove that a hyphenated name indicates proof of a pseudonym, the more especially since both forms are used to establish the same work as Shakespeare's.  If one printer used a hyphen in Shakespeare's name other followed.  I have seen both forms in the same work, and it was so in the First Folio of 1623.  [The heroical name is still mis-hyphenated today.  More often than not, publishers place a hyphen after the s when they illogically separate the name at the ending of a line, using the form Shakes-peare.  It is Shake-speare.

3.      There is not one grain of evidence to prove that the variant spellings of Shakespeare's name - Shakspere, Shakespear, Shakspear, Shaksper et al. are different people.

4.      There is not one hint of evidence to prove that Oxford ever assumed the name Shakespeare.

5.      While there are printed references to prove that Oxford wrote comedy there is not a jot of evidence to prove that Oxford ever wrote a tragedy - proof enough by itself that he was not the author.

6.      There is not one mite of verifiable evidence to prove that all the plays of Shakespeare were composed before 1604.  The constant improvement of Shakespeare's handling of blank verse indicates that the author lived and continued to develop his style beyond the work known to have been printed by 1604.

7.      There is not one molecule of evidence to prove that Oxford spent his last ten years at Hedingham Castle rewriting and revising the plays that are printed under Shakespeare's name.
Nor that he was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth.

8.      There is not one ounce of positive evidence to prove that Oxford revealed himself, his biography, his family relations, or courtly history in the plays and poems.

9.      There is not one atom of evidence to prove Oxford was lame after his duel with Thomas Knyvet linking him with Shakespeare's presumed lameness, which is merely a figure of speech in the sonnets.  Even if both were lame, it would not positively mean that they were one and the same person.

10.     There is not one particle of evidence to prove that Oxford bribed Shakespeare to leave London.

11.     It is inconceivable that Oxford, profligate though he was, and so destitute that the Queen had to give him an allowance of a thousand pounds a year to maintain his house and family prestige, would give Shakespeare a thousand pounds which would be the approximate payment to an author for 167 plays or the salary of the Stratford schoolmaster for about fifty years!

12.     There is not one scrap of evidence to prove that Shakespeare's signatures prove that he was virtually illiterate. It is merely the widely used and often difficult-to-read Secretary script of his contemporaries, not to be compared with the italic script we use today.

13.     There is not one smidgen of evidence to prove decisively that the author had to have traveled to France and Italy in order to write the plays. Even Italian scholars have not been able to prove that he had been there.  Italy was a traditional place to set a play and local color was available in London and his sources.

14.     There is not one speck of valid evidence that the author had to have been a courtly gentleman to know of courtly language, manners, hawking, tennis and other kingly sports.  Almost everyone was interested in sports then as they are now. We may know the terms as observers, not as participants 444

15.     There is not one trace of evidence to prove that Shakespeare's education, reading, sources, and conversations with knowledgeable persons could not have given him his large literary vocabulary.  The plays indicate he could write. His name as an actor in Jonson's plays and his own indicates he could read, or else how could he have read and memorized his lines?  It is not being presumptuous or arguing in a circular manner to say that if Shakespeare wrote the plays then he had to have the knowledge to do it.

16.     There is not one modicum of proof that the author had to have had a formal legal education to have written the plays and poems.  Law was often used by all dramatists as figurative language.  All of Shakespeare's plays have a legal basis.

17.     There is not one corpuscle of evidence to prove that the 17th Earl of Oxford or his father-in-law William Cecil, Lord Burleigh,  ever destroyed any or all the evidence linking Oxford to the plays to protect Oxford and his reputation.

18.     There is not one flyspeck of evidence to hint that the
Stratford-upon-Avon authorities purposely destroyed the school records which, Oxfordians say, would have revealed that Shakespeare had never gone to school there and therefore could not have written the Works - thereby destroying their thriving Shakespeare industry.

19.     There is not one tittle of evidence to prove that there was a universal conspiracy of silence among those who knew that Oxford had written the Works, but would not reveal it.  What a coup it would have been for the one who would reveal it, if there were anything to reveal.  If there were other conspiracies, they are not analogous here.  To say that there was no conspiracy and that the authorship was an "open secret" seems ridiculous.  How could the secret have been kept open yet unrevealed until 1920?  It is against the nature of man.

20.     There is not one scruple of evidence to prove that because Shakespeare engaged in necessary business ventures to invest his money and necessary legal suits to protect his rights, that he wrote only for money and had no interest in his plays.  He earned money, there were no banks as we know them, he invested it, he lent it, and expected to be paid back at the then usual rate.  Those seemingly paltry sums for which he sued were not paltry then when you could buy three loaves of bread for a penny.   With 240 pence to the pound that would be the equivalent of 720 loaves for a pound sterling.  At a cost of about $1.50 for moderately priced good bread today, a pound would equal $1070.  But values were different then.  I can't imagine anyone paying a thousand dollars for a one pound Folio in 1623.  When Pope wrote that Shakespeare "for gain not glory winged his roving sprite, and grew immortal in his own despite," it was his opinion.

21.     There is not one granule of evidence to prove that the word "ever-living" in the Sonnet dedication indicates that the author was dead in 1609 as was Oxford who had died in July of 1604.  If "ever-living" was widely used of dead celebrities, in the Sonnet dedication it refers to a living immortal.  There is no surrounding evidence to disprove it.  Printing had been introduced into England in 1477; there were many words and meanings that had not yet appeared in print.

22.     There is not one dust-speck of proof to indicate that the occurrences of "ever" in various lines indicate that they are either direct or indirect references to E ver, i.e., Edward Vere.

23.     There is not one shred of evidence to indicate that any of Oxford's heirs attempted in any way to retrieve their father's hidden fame - especially since all the so-called need for the presumed concealment was over, if there ever was a need which has never been proved.

24.     There is not one smithereen of evidence to prove that any of the early plays which were seeming sources for the later plays were the early work of Oxford.

25.     There is not one crumb of verifiable evidence that the Shakespeare monument in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon was redesigned to put a pillow and pen in Shakespeare's lap rather than what appeared to have been a sack of grain in the presumed original or that that presumed original ever actually existed.  A painting of the monument, before the refurbishing in 1747, reveals that it was essentially what we have now.  Other similar existing monuments of the period have similar pillows. The Dugdale engraving with the seeming sack was obviously made from a poor sketch of which there are many in Dugdale's work.

26.     There is not a penny's worth of evidence to prove that because Shakespeare stored and sold grain at one time or another that he was therefore a grain merchant rather than a dramatist, or a hoarder of grain in time of need.  He owned land, it was farmed, it was stored, and it was inventoried.  There is no record that he sold it for gouging prices

27.     There is not a drop of evidence to prove that if Shakespeare's father, mother, wife, and children were illiterate then Shakespeare was also illiterate.  There were, by the way, other literate "marksmen" who knew how to write but also signed with their mark when they chose to.  A cross was a religious symbol.

28.     There is not one blip of evidence or likelihood to prove that the forty-three-year-old Oxford, if he wrote the works, would even deign to write, the servile, submissive, and self-abnegating dedication to the seventeen-and-a-half-year-old Earl of Southampton that prefix both Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

Missing nummbers coming later:

40.     There is not a spark of evidence to prove that if it were widely known that Oxford was the author of the plays and poems he would have to have feared for his life.

41.     There is not a smitch of evidence to prove that the Earl of
Southampton was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth and Oxford.

42.     There is not drip of evidence to prove that there is so much court gossip and there are so many recognizable noble individuals in the plays and poems that every effort had to be taken to keep the author secret lest their identity might be deduced or discovered.   Biographical conjectures relating the plays and Sonnet personages to the Oxford family are pure conjectures.

43.     There is no evidence to prove that Shakespeare left London near the turn of the century in 1604 or was bribed to leave London. to leave the dramatic field open to Oxford.  On the other hand Oxfordians say Shakespeare received a dispensation from the Queen to write plays on courtly personalities and controversial historical subjects.  If the plays and poems were so socially revelatory of private family affairs and dangerous politically, why were they permitted to be published later?

44.     There is no evidence to disprove that the man who is buried in the grave at Stratford-upon-Avon is not the actor/dramatist whose arms (awarded to his father, John) were later disputed in the Herald's office London noting Shakespeare as "ye player", the more especially since those arms are displayed on the monument on the chancel wall of Holy Trinity in Stratford and the inscription on the monument below the effigy specifically and punningly refers to the decedent's leavmg "living art, but page,  to show his wit", and also compares him to Socrates and Virgil, hardly a reference to an illiterate yokel.  The fact that the inscription reads as though the body was within the wall merely tell us that the carver was not aware of the burial in the floor of the church.

45      There is not a drop of evidence to prove that any theory based on drawing short lines ("match-sticks") through lines of the sonnets which have the letters of Oxford's name under them proves that Oxford was the author.

46      There is no valid proof that the sonnets reveal Oxford as the author by initial letters, acrostics or so called ambiguous lines.

47.     There is not shard of evidence to prove that the annotations in the recently discovered Oxford copy of the Oxford family Bible were not there when the book was purchased.

48.     There is no valid proof that the correspondences between Oxford's language and Shakespeare's proves that they are one and the same person.  Mere knowledge of the same words is not enough; it is their use that counts.

49.     There is no proof that Shakespeare's Warwickshire speech would have been unintelligible in London.

50.     It is interesting but proves nothing that Disraeli, Emerson,
Whitman, Clemens/Twain, Whittier, Lord Palmerston, Prince Bismarck, Galsworthy, Freud, Charley Chaplin, Lesley Howard, and a small army of others doubted the authorship of Shakespeare. Were any of them solid scholars in Shakespeare?  Sow the seeds of doubt and doubters will spring up. Would the publication of an even longer list of such non-professional believers make the Oxfordian thesis more credible?

51.     If it be said that there is a lack of positive evidence for
Shakespeare, there is no valid evidence for Oxford beyond two or three references to Oxford as a penner of comedy only, none to tragedy.  The uncontested name, portrait, and preliminary encomia in the Folio compiled by his colleagues are all that is necessary for proof of Shakespeare's authorship.

52. To say that to believe that Shakespeare wrote the plays and poems is unimaginable and beyond reason is to indicate that the speakers themselves have spent their

53.   [ Missing words to be supplied later.]   being autobiographical when he speaks of his impending death or old age or The language of poetry does not require anyone to believe that the author is being lame. One of my own very first poems when I was about eighteen speaks of my fears of death.  If there is anything really autobiographical in the Sonnets, it has not yet been discovered.

54.     Oxfordian writers and speakers are most convincing when discussing the authorship problem among themselves, when they quote other Oxfordians as evidence, and have no orthodox scholar at hand to present the opposing evidence.  When the current Earl of Oxford (Lord Burford) lectures alone, he is very convincing.  When he and I presented our evidence before over 900 people in a "trial" at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston on November 12, 1993, the fourteen member jury decided in favor of Shakespeare.  A reference to the crowd at this "trial" is made with pride by Oxfordians, but it does not mention that the Lord Burford lost his case.

55.     One of the most vociferous objectors to the authorship question I know (this was many years ago), was a man who did not own any orthodox books about Shakespeare.  There are well-read scholars among the Oxfordians, but it would seem that they read orthodox biography not to learn the truth but to find points to quibble about.  Quibble as they can, they cannot rail the name or attribution of the forty-five pre-Folio plays to Shakespeare, corroborated as it also is by other documentary evidence.

56.     There is absolutely no valid evidence to prove that Oxford  or the
Pembrokes were either leaders or members of a consortium to write the Works.

57.     There may be doubts, but mostly no evidence to prove that if a tradition was written down for the first time after Shakespeare's death that it can't also be true - unless it is too ridiculous to believe - for example that Shakespeare was given a thousand pound gift for the use of his name, to leave London, or whatever.

58.     Oxfordians protest widely against the term genius when applied to
Shakespeare because to accept the validity of "genius" would explain Shakespeare - a truly assimilative genius.  If Oxford could be a genius, so could Shakespeare.

59.     It is no proof to say that if no letters from Shakespeare exist he therefore did not know how to write.

60.     Is it proof of the "great conspiracy of silence"  that Oxford was the hidden author because no monument to Oxford remains, no letters, no tribute to the great loss that the world of drama had sustained, because all Oxfordian evidence was purposely destroyed, and that THAT lack of evidence IS evidence enough to prove that Oxford wrote the plays and poems?

61.     It seems peculiar thinking to say that because there is no evidence for Oxford he is therefore the concealed author of the plays and poems and then to say that all the evidence for Shakespeare's authorship is invalid and manufactured?


62.     Can it be reverse proof that Oxford's monument was destroyed because there was or was not a tribute to his dramatic craftsmanship on it?

63.     There is no evidence whatsoever that Lord Burghley and Queen
Elizabeth prevailed on Oxford not to reveal that he was the author of the works attributed to Shakespeare.

64.     It is incomprehensible to believe that Ben Jonson talked with
Drummond of Hawthornden about Shakespeare and wrote about him in his "Discoveries" and elsewhere, that he did so while knowing, as it is claimed, that the author was really Oxford.

65.     It is proof that Shakespeare was not the author of his works because there are fifty allusions to Ben Jonson's death, but none to Shakespeare's?   Jonson was fortunate in having a friend to start collecting tributes which were printed in Jonsonus Virbius?.  Jonson was poet laureate and a scholar and translator besides.

66.     While Ward Elliott of Claremont-McKenna College admits that more computer testing remains to be done, I find it impossible to believe that the many tests his group has done showing the disparity between the vocabulary, grammar, phraseology, sentence length and structure, and punctuation of Shakespeare and the so-called claimants will show that any of them are the possible authors.  As with Cinderella, others may have her qualities, but if the shoes don't fit, the other similarities mean nothing.  Elliott wrote that he was looking for the fingerprints of the author, but the two authors did not match.  He also put it another way.  He said that the results of their group's studies might be compared to a blood test. If Shakespeare is Type A positive then Oxford tested out to be Type Z negative! Professor Elliott has since published an article that once again shows, by many verbal and grammatical tests, the absolute impossibility of Oxford being the author.

67.     There is not a shard of evidence to prove that Dr. John Hall thought his father-in-law William Shakespeare was of no importance because he left him out of his book of medical cases - Select Observations.  The first volume of his notes covering the year 1616 has been lost.

68.     There is not a pellet of proof that the silence of Susanna Hall or the neigboring Rainsfords, the Earl of Southampton, Philip Henslowe, Edward Alleyn and others about Shakespeare as a playwright means that Shakespeare was not the author.  Camden's mention of Shakespeare "as one of the most pregnant wits of our time" in his Remaines Concerning Britain of 1605 discounts all of the possible silences.

69.     There is not one scintilla of verifiable evidence in Oxford's extant letters intimating that he had written any of the works of Shakespeare.

70.     There is not a DNA particle of evidence to prove that even if Greene was not the author of the Groatsworth of Wit that it has any significance as to the authorship of Shakespeare.

71.     There is not a microscopic bit of evidence for the elimination of Shakespeare as author of his works in saying that the absence of  "of Stratford" after all the references to Shakespeare mean that they cannot be used as prove that Shakespeare of London and Shakespeare of Stratford are the same man. The monument, the testimony of the sightseers who came there as a tribute to the memory of the poet, the historians and others is proof enough.

72.     If Shakespeare did not sign his will himself, as has been claimed, it still does not prove that Shakespeare did not write the plays.

73.     There is no proof that the Ashbourne portrait of Shakespeare is
Oxford as shown by an imagined Oxford crest on a ring that he is wearing.  The portrait has already been proved to be a forgery as it relaltels to Sshakespeare.

74.     If you cite the absence of Shakespeare from Peacham's lists of great writers as evidence that Shakespeare was not worthy to be cited, be sure to mention also that the noted historian William Camden did include Shakespeare in a similar list.

Remember - this Harpers letter was sent to the editor, to the author of the original account published in England and to the author of the article in the Washington Post.

I hope that what I have written will end the controversy forever and that we can start the 21st century with a clean slate.   Comments are invited.

Though there is more to be said, this is a good place to stop writing.  There are more specific Oxfordian "proofs" that can be alluded to, but I believe that they all can be denied by extrapolating from the foregoing precepts.  When we separate facts from opinions there is nothing left.

There is really no problem at all except in the minds of those who like to seek for needles in haystacks even though there is no needle there.  There is not even a haystack.   Shakespeare is not the problem; the manufactured facts and  the skeptics are the problem.

Both sides are optimists.  The Oxfordian lives in optimistic hope that the smoking gun proving Oxford's authorship will be discovered.  The Shakespeareans are optimistic that the smoking gun proving the Oxfordian hypothesis will never appear, and believe that the external evidence of the title pages and documents - forty-five quartos with Shakespeare's name or without it on the title page - but later published under his name in his complete works -and the internal evidence of poetry and style are already proof enough.  There is no smoking gun, there has been no murder, and there is no body.  The body that has been offered fits neither the external or internal evidence.  In fact some of the evidence offered is so common that it has been used as proof for more than fifty different authors.

I firmly believe my six dozen statements eliminate Oxford and all other claimants to the Works of Shakespeare.   If the Oxfordians wish to continue the debate, they must start with a whole new set of proofs and not repeat those here demolished.  I promise to listen.

For those who might incline toward the Baconian hypothesis, I ask that the following points be carefully considered:

                Bacon                           Shakespeare

                Aristocratic                    Middle class
            A prose writer              A poet
            A scientist                 A naturalist
            A Latinist                  A master of English
            An inept paraphraser        A superb master of the of the Psalms sonnet
                                                form
                An intellectual         A writer with feeling
                An essayist             A writer of fiction
                A philosopher           A dramatist
                A politician            Apolitical - not involved
                Not involved with theater
                                                A practicing dramatist, company member,
                                                  shareholder, and actor

From all this I deduce and propose that we accept Lou Marder's precepts of scholarship:

You can prove anything if you base your argument on the absence of facts
You can prove anything if you obscure the facts
You can prove anything if you misrepresent the facts
You can prove anything if you invent parallels
You can prove anything if you make unrelated analogies
You can prove anything if you make unfounded assumptions
You can prove anything if you base your 'logical' arguments on unsubstantiated premises
You can prove anything if you misapply history
You can prove anything if you make fact out of fiction
You can prove anything if you force common events as specific analogies
You can prove anything if you accept different names as being the same person
You can prove anything if you disregard known dates
You can prove anything if you say that a lack of information is based on a conspiracy
You can prove anything if you build your case on "proof " presented by your compatriots
You can prove anything if you base your arguments on "let us suppose" or "it is likely," etc.
You can prove anything if you start with a thin filament and weave a huge imaginary web
You can prove anything if you transpose evidence
You can prove anything if you use unsubstantiated statements as proved facts later on
You can prove anything if you presume to know what people were really thinking
You can prove anything if you use creative poetry or drama as historical fact
You can prove anything if you accept only what you want from a body of evidence
You can prove anything if you base your claims mainly on faith
You have proved nothing if there is one solid piece of solid evidence that nullifies everything that you have said.
You cannot prove anything by making biographical and literary assumptions and then finding someone to fit your arguments
You cannot prove anything by saying that that which is "similar" is equal to "the same".
You cannot prove anything by filling in possible events where nothing is known
You cannot prove anything by totaling many assumptions into fact
You cannot prove anything by saying that the lack of disproof is equivalent to proof
You cannot prove anything by pointing out that because there is some overlapping valid evidence that the rest of what you offer is also true.
You cannot prove anything by saying that if something is possible, it actually happened and can be used as evidence

Disregarding what we know creates organized self-deception and confusion
Inventing anagrams is a useless last resort argument.

Succinctly stated, if there seems to be so-called plausible explanations for Oxford's authorship, and plausible explanations for Shakespeare, the evidence for Shakespeare must take precedence because the plausibility for Oxford is based solely and completely on conjecture and nothing else.   When the horse is dead, it is time to get off.  It cannot be flogged into life.

[An earlier version of this article was sent to some of the leading skeptics.  Only Peter R. More and David J. Hanson deigned or dared to reply.  Nothing they said made me change my mind.  They had honest doubts but no solid evidence.]

This list or quotations from it may be used only with proper documentation as to its source.

This version made February 19, 1999
Louis Marder,
1217 Ashland Avenue
Evanston, IL  60202-11103
 

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