The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2000 Monday, 13 October 2003
From: Richard Kennedy <
Date: Thursday, 09 Oct 2003 06:58:02 -0700
Subject: New Stratfordian Discoveries
I have for some years subscribed to a small journal called "New
Stratfordian Discoveries" and have just received the recent issue. It
comes out every five years except that sometime they'll skip an issue if
there's nothing new to report. This latest number has an article which
I thought might be worth sharing, dealing as it does with anagrams.
"New Stratfordian Discoveries" August, 2003
NEW SIEH -- by A. Nony-nony
Ben Jonson, speaking of Shakespeare, said, "I loved the man...this side
idolatry," which some scholars find to be a bit intense. Given that Ben
Jonson was a rather jealous man, it's been doubted that he would frame
his admiration of the Bard with such a reverent speech. Some scholars
think that Ben Jonson was either kidding around, or that he was lying to
us, for he did not have a generous spirit altogether, and it's been
suggested that he actually held Shakespeare in disdain.
This small article will prove that Jonson was totally serious, and if
he was holding back from expressing his love of Shakespeare, which was
even to the >other< side of idolatry. I hope to show that Jonson left
might be called a "worshipful" commendation of Shakespeare.
As noted in a recent issue of "New Stratfordian Studies (Aug., 1988),
most scholars are inclined to say that Ben Jonson wrote the inscription
on the Stratford monument in Holy Trinity. Most of us have it to memory,
but we're not getting any younger so I'll print it out here with a
couple of misspelled words in caps.
Stay, Passenger, why goest thou by so fast,
Read if thou GANST, whom envious Death hath plast
With in this monument Shakspeare: with whome,
Quick nature dide whose name doth deck ys tombe,
Far more then cost: SIEH all yt He hath writt,
Leaves living art , but page, to serve witt.
A couple of issues ago, in the 1993 number of "New Stratfordian
Discoveries" it was pointed out that Shakespeare was fond of anagrams,
his best effort being to anagram AMLETH into HAMLET. He also put some
idle time into working CALIBAN out of CANNIBAL, leaving out an "N" ,
quite tolerable and within the Elizabethan rules. And as we know, Ben
Jonson was fond of anagrams, making an endearing reference to such
word-gaming as "hard trifles." And of course, "O Rare Ben Jonson" was
likely tricked up by Jonson himself, the anagram being "Orare Ben
Jonson." Pray for Ben Jonson.
It would not be surprising, therefore, that Jonson might enter an
anagram into some of his own texts, especially if he wished to impart
some secret of his heart, or deeper sentiment regarding his good friend
Shakespeare. And so he has.
Anagrams cannot be known as intended anagrams unless they are signaled
to be so by the maker, either by word or suggestion. In the above
inscription, there are two misspelled words, GANST and SIEH, which
spelled correctly as would be CANST and SITH. The misspelling is a
signal to us that these words are to be especially noticed, and perhaps
sleuthed toward a hidden meaning.
Therefore, let us take those two words and spell them correctly, as no
doubt Jonson intended us to correct his text, and see what we can
discover by way of anagram.
C A N S T may be worked to anagram S A N C T
S I T H may be worked to anagram S H I T
That is to say, Shakespeare and/or his works is Sanctified, or Holy
Shit. And there I think we have Ben Jonson's true estimation of
Shakespeare, his poetry and plays. Ben Jonson adored Shakespeare, and
that he "loved the man this side idolatry" was no joke. HOLY SHIT. What
more could a poet ask for in the way of a compliment? Not merely the
soul of the age, but, not to weigh too heavily on our text, a very saint
of the age, a veritable god of the age. Such reverence is rare amongst
In the next issue of "New Stratfordian Discoveries" (Aug., 2008), I will
say more of this discovery and will delve into other secrets that
"Honest" Ben Jonson has set before us. It might be that in capitalizing
Shakespeare in pronoun as "He", that we are getting into religious, or
even blasphemous territory. It needs more study.
That article I posted from the NSD (New Stratfordian Discoveries), has
caused some excitement amongst the subscribers. I'm on their email
list, which has actually been dormant for the last eight years. Now the
line is alive with heat and haughtiness.
There are those who believe that Ben Jonson >really< loved Shakespeare
"this side idolatry" as he said. Therefore, the anagram of CANST/SITH
goes to SANCT SHIT, or, HOLY SHIT. They find that to be absolute proof
that Jonson adored Shakespeare.
On the other hand, there are those who hold with the scholars who say
that Jonson didn't like Shakespeare and thought his plays and poetry
were all out of touch with the blessed Unities, not much worthy, and
that CANST/ SITH GOES to SCANT SHIT. Meaning, you see, that Ben Jonson
was making small of Shakespeares work.
That's the gist of the argument. Each camp is certain that they are
right, and some name-calling has got to their guggles. Then there's the
camp that doesn't believe either of those anagrams, and they say GANST
was the word to be anagrammed, and they get ANGST SHIT out of the
puzzle, but which doesn't account for the comedies.
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