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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: June ::
A Discovery


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0115  Thursday, 10 June 2011

From:         Mark Fenton < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:          June 9, 2011 11:37:16 PM EDT
Subject:      A Discovery

I've made a somewhat interesting discovery concerning the so-called 'missing song' that J. O. Halliwell originally found in the 19th century which readers on SHAKSPER may be interested in:

In the book or Tract entitled Shakespeare and the Armada subtitled A Discovery That Shakespeare Wrote One or More Ballads or Poems on The Spanish Armada. By J. O. Halliwell, Esq. Halliwell suggests the following:

Mourning Garment.

Nor doth the silver tongued Melicert,
Drop from his honeyed Muse one sable tear
To mourn her death that graced his desert,
And to his laies opened her Royal ear. (laies/Lays: songs, poems)
Shepheard remember our Elizabeth,
And sing her Rape, done by that Tarquin, Death. [Modernized English]

'These lines are very interesting, for they comprise the first direct evidence we possess that Elizabeth "graced his desert," and they also seem to imply that the poems of Shakespeare were familiar to that celebrated sovereign. There is, however, another notice of Shakespeare in the same work . . . '

I won't quote the whole section of England's Mourning Garment, as completely as does Halliwell, but will give the sections which are the most informative for the purposes of our investigation:

O saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolve us, and think it no unfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides good Meloebee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell us what thou hast observed in their sawes (sayings), seen in thy own experience, and heard of undoubted truths TOUCHING THOSE ACCIDENTS; for that they add, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza. [Modernized English]

'Now, when the context of the whole of this, and what follows in the original, is carefully examined, it cannot be questioned that the words those accidents, in the passage here / p.23 / given in facsimile, refer to the events of the attempted invasion of England by Spain in the year 1588. In short, it seems clear that Chettle refers to three writers who had written songs or poems, for poems were then not infrequently referred to as songs, on the Spanish Armada. That "smooth tongue Melicert" is the same poet elsewhere called by Chettle "silver tongued Melicert" may be safely conceded. Who the two were who are mentioned as Philesides and Meloebee I can hardly conjecture, but Chettle in the same work refers to "yong Moelibee" as a friend of Antihorace, who is unquestionably Decker. This "yong Moelibee"

Many a time Hath stoopt her Maiestie to grace your rime;

so probably he was not extremely, perhaps only comparatively, young in 1603.

It is most likely that any song written by Shakespeare on the Armada would have been composed not long after its dispersion, at the latest in the year 1589; and not at a later period, when the chief excitement raised by that event had passed away. We may also reasonably conclude that no production of the kind would have been published or known to Chettle as the work of Shakespeare, had not the latter been then in the metropolis. Let us hope that the song or poem itself may be discovered, and the following extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company, taken from / p.24 / transcripts made by Mr. Collier, may perhaps assist in the search.

But there was also in England's Mourning Garment a lesser known second reference to William Shakespeare aka 'Melicert':

O saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolve us, and think it no unfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides good Meloebee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell us what thou hast observed in their sawes (sayings), seen in thy own experience, and heard of undoubted truths touching those accidents; for that they adde, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza. [Modernized English]

Note in the above paragraph the following words:

'...touching those accidents: for that they add, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza.'

The words 'touching those accidents...' were referring to the accidental defeat of the Spanish Armada which occurred in 1588, and which consequently saved England. The real vanquisher in the end however, was not so much the English ships, but the weather which produced storms that almost totally wiped out the Spanish Armada, but even so, Queen Elizabeth's prestige at home in England, and within the surrounding European countries at that time, grew to enormous proportions because it was probably seen as an act of the almighty God, and that the Queen herself was a personal emissary sent from on high.

Note also here we have the use of the word 'songs' in the above paragraph. In Elizabethan times songs were also considered to mean poems, and it is these 'songs' or 'poems' or perhaps in the singular, 'song' or 'poem' because Henry Chettle doesn't divulge to us just how many songs/poems or song/poem were to be assigned to each of the above poets.

So it seems that Melicert, otherwise known as William Shakespeare, was according to Henry Chettle, the definite creator of at least one song or poem that was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I because of the then victory over the Spanish, even though it was by chance an 'accidental' defeat of the Spanish Armada.

But the problem here is that there are no known existing songs or poems or poem or any other recorded praise for Queen Elizabeth I by William Shakespeare regarding the Spanish Armada's defeat.

So where are we to find this elusive so-called song/poem?

Well it just so happens there is a song/poem written by William Shakespeare that deals with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, but to find it, we'll have to look in a place where one wouldn't normally look.

107

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul,
Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage,
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time,
My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes,
Since spite of him I'll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes.
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.

Well there it is, but before anyone cares to input their views regarding this discovery, I must warn them that there are numerous other discoveries I've made that also point to the above hypothesis that sonnet 107 is the so-called "missing song". Some of my above-mentioned discoveries are much more revealing than this one small example. Around two dozen separate discoveries that together enhance the above's position that this sonnet indeed points to the year 1588 as a euphoric remembrance of the defeat of the then mighty Spanish Armada.

Mark J Fenton

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