dentalK’, without notice by his adoringnpubhc. It is almost as if the chroniclersnof the day were keeping silent aboutnone of its most amazing phenomenan— and that would be as out-ofcharacternfor those London gossips as itnwould for modern journalists. ThenEarl of Oxford, on the other hand, isnpraised for his wit and writing bnnearly eery contemporary, een thosenwho hated him.n”Aha, but what about Ben Jonson?”nfans of the Stratford Bard will ask. “Hentalks about Shakespeare; they werendrinking buddies, weren’t the}?” ThatnShakespeare—whoeer he was—andnJonson occasionally lifted a cup togethernis most probable, although the”nwere rials. But that Shakespeare wasnShakspere is neer hinted at—quitenthe contrary, according to Ogburn’snreading—in the perplexingly few Jonsoniannreferences to the greatest dramatistnof his time and ours.nThe most wideh’ used example ofnJonson’s “knowing Shakespeare” is hisnintroduction to the Shakespeare FirstnFolio, which een the staunchestnStratfordians admit is not what it halfheartedlynclaims to be. Ogburn’s argumentnis much too detailed to morenthan hint at here, but it will help tonremember the wild enthusiasm fornjokes and puns in Elizabethan dramanand poetry. The first problem—thenfirst joke, says Ogburn — the alertnreader encounters in the First Folio isnthe strange, all-wrong-but-skillfullyexecutednengraing of the face ofn201 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREn”Shakespeare,” the one all schoolchildrennknow, for which Ogburn’s explanationnis as plausible as any other putnforth to date. The biggest puzzle,nthough, is Jonson’s poem of 40 coupletsnin unparalleled praise of Shakespeare,nin which Honest Ben appearsnto be trying to keep the deadnStratfordian’s bones out of WestminsternAbbey. Ogburn conjectures thatnJonson was trying to cover up Shakespeare’sntrue identity, because henknows that Shakspere’s bones aren’tnShakespeare’s and would ruin thentoney neighborhood in the .bbey.nTwo lines from Jonson’s poem,naboe all others, are used religiousk ton”proe” that the Stratford man authorednthe plays. Jonson says, “.ndnthough thou hadst small Latin, andnless Greek, from thence to honournthee, I would not seek for names.”nOrthodox scholars use this line tonpro e that Shakespeare was ignorant ofnLatin and Greek. But (apart from thenqueshon of whether a man ignorant ofnLatin and Greek could have writtennthe plays and sonnets) Ogburn pointsnout that “though” can mean not onhn”in spite of the fact that” but alson”een supposing that.” Then there isn”Sweet Swan of Aon!” from Jonson’snpoem. This surely proes the Stratfordntheor}, say the Stratfordians. Ogburnnsighs and reminds us that de ere hadna home at Rugb} on the same riernAon as Stratford. (There are threenriers Avon in England; the town ofnOxford is on a second.)nExamples of other writers praisingn”Shakespeare” in ways which precludenShakspere abound. Edmund Spensernpublished his Faerie Queene in 1590.nIt includes sonnets written by Spensernto leading Court figures. There is annadulatory sonnet to Oxford, describingnhim as the favorite of the Muses—butnnothing to Shakspere. Published in thensame year, Spenser’s Teares of thenMuses mourns the sad state of the artsnin Elizabethan England(!). Thalia, thenMuse of Comedy, says, “Our pleasantnWilly, ah! is dead of late; / With whomnall joy and jolly merriment / Is alsondeaded, and in dolour rent.” She adds,n”But that same gentle spirit, fromnwhose pen / Large streams of honeynand sweet nectar flow, / Scorning thenboldness of such base-born men, /nWhich dare their follies forth to rashlynthrow; / Doth rather choose to sit innnnidle cell, / Than so himself to mockervnto sell. Orthodox scholars generallvnagree that “Willy” could be no one butnShakespeare —but no record showsnShakspere in London until 1596, andnat that point the orthodox calendar hasnhim just beginning his career, notnending it—whereas in 1589 Oxfordndropped out of the public eye for antime (“Our pleasant \’illy, ah! is deadnof late”), after which Shakespeare’snplays as we know them began to surface.nIn his Palladis Tamia (1598),nFrancis Meres called de ere—notnShakspere — “the best for comedynamong us.” And Ogburn wonders hownShakspere, as “base-born” a man asnone could find, would dare to scornnpublich’ his betters. Hands and headsnwere remoed for less.nSo what is Charlton Ogburn’s theory?nBriefly (and bre”it}- does not donthe theory justice): Edward de ‘ere,nbecause of his rank and position asnpremier Earl of the land, one ofnQueen Elizabeth’s long-time faoritesnat Court, and possibly her loer, wasnprohibited from acknowledging authorshipnof his works of drama andnerse. Not only was it considered annembarrassing downward leap from hisnsocial status to spend his time in suchncreations, the works also cut too closento the royal bone in many cases. BecausenElizabeth was Elizabeth,nthough, she alued his work for itsnliterary merit and patriotic influencenand allowed him to produce it anonymouslynor under a pseudonym,n”Shakespeare, or “Shake-spear.” (Oxford’sncrest as Viscount Bulbeck was anlion holding a broken spear. And, asnOgburn writes, “Hasti-vibrans, thenSpear-shaker, was the sobriquet of PallasnAthena, who was said to haensprung from the brow of Zeus fulh’narmed and brandishing a spear. PallasnAthena was the patron goddess of Athens,nhome of the theatre, while innRome the guild of poets and dramatistsnmet in the Temple of Pallas.”) Manynmembers of royalty and the most favoredndramatists and actors knewn”Shakespeare’s” identity but kept silent,nlest they be incriminated by thenplays—or ”shortened by a head” bynthe Queen’s Lord Treasurer, the secondnmost,powerful person in the kingdom,nWilliam Cecil Lord Burghley,nEdward de Vere’s guardian and fatherin-law.n