The Real News of the Month

April 2003
Volume 10, No. 4

Editor: Joe Sobran
Publisher: Fran Griffin (Griffin Communications)
Managing Editor: Ronald N. Neff
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  -> War and Moral Novelty
  -> Wartime Miscellany (plus Exclusives to this edition)
  -> The Bard's Orphans
Nuggets (plus Exclusives to this edition)
List of Columns Reprinted


War and Moral Novelty
(page 1)

{{ Material dropped or changed solely for reasons of 
space appears in double curly brackets. }}

     The pro-war movement reminds me of the pro-abortion 
movement. It isn't just that both favor killing, 
important as that is; it's that both are informed by 
fanatical moral arrogance. Like the pro-abortionists, 
today's hawks refuse even to admit they are taking what 
reasonable people might view as a morally dubious 

     The pro-abortion movement, of course, accuses its 
opponents of religious fanaticism and of seeking to 
"impose their views." But the fanaticism is really on the 
other side.

     I can imagine feeling that laws against abortion are 
futile or outmoded and should be repealed. But in that 
case, I hope I would be candid enough to admit that I was 
asking a lot. I would be asking for an abrupt adjustment, 
if not a reversal, of deep-seated moral standards that 
have endured for centuries. I would respect the natural 
reluctance of millions of ordinary decent people to 
accede to what they regarded, after all, as a form of 
murder. I would accept the burden of persuading them to 
see the matter in a new light, and I would try to 
understand and respect their motives. Every abortion, 
after all, does kill an incipient human life. In a sense 
I would think it was healthy that much of society 
resisted a moral innovation -- even if I considered that 
specific innovation an improvement.

     Yet this is not the way of the moral innovators. The 
pro-abortion movement concedes nothing to its opponents. 
It condemns them for refusing to acquiesce overnight in 
what they can see only as homicide. This is a peculiar 
form of "progressive" bigotry: demanding that your 
opponents reach your conclusions from their premises; 
demanding that people make impossible alterations in 
their convictions; demanding that they recognize what has 
always been treated as a crime, and a particularly ugly 
one, as a right. For liberalism, moral fads are moral 
duties. Liberals won't even admit that destroying a 
living, growing organism is "killing."

     In the same way, today's hawks -- allegedly 
conservative -- are demanding that we accept a serious 
moral innovation. They want to legitimate what has long 
been recognized as aggressive war by calling it 
"preemptive," and they condemn those who refuse to be 
rushed into it.

     Iraq hasn't attacked the United States -- there is 
no evidence that it had any hand in the 9/11 horrors -- 
and you can't reasonably argue that it intends to, or is 
even capable of doing so. If the hawks were candid, they 
would respect the feelings of those who consider the 
current war as unnecessary, unjustified, and therefore 
criminal. It is a sharp departure from long-standing 
American and international standards for just warfare.

     Instead, the hawks are {{ damning the millions who 
oppose this war as "appeasers," "leftists," "hypocrites," 
and even "dupes of Saddam Hussein." Their abuse of the 
anti-war French -- "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," for 
example -- is especially puerile and vitriolic. They are 
furiously trying to shift the burden of proof from those 
who want war to those who want peace.

     In order to do this, they are }} willing to 
stigmatize the normal human desire for peace. To {{ the 
hawks, }} this war isn't just a regrettable or tragic 
necessity, but a positive good; and those who have 
reservations about it aren't even entitled to a 
presumption of decent motives.

     {{ According to President Bush, who calls himself a 
"compassionate conservative," those who don't support his 
war policy are on the side of the terrorists, as he (very 
loosely) defines them. But war is the most destructive, 
disruptive, and unpredictable -- not to say expensive -- 
of all state enterprises, and zeal for war is anything 
but conservative. }}

     If conservatism means anything, it means upholding 
moral norms against the perennial temptation to erode or 
discard them. It's a sign of our times that nominal 
"conservatives" now represent that temptation, and are 
assailing those -- including some liberals -- who are 
trying to conserve those norms.

Wartime Miscellany
(page 2)

    Arguing against "irresolution" in going to war with 
Iraq, former defense secretary James Schlesinger echoes 
former secretary of state George Schultz: "Is the United 
States to be the Hamlet among nations?" He closes by 
quoting Macbeth: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 
'twere well it were done quickly." I do hate to quibble 
with a fellow Shakespeare-lover, but Hamlet is 
contemplating a bloody revenge (which finally ends in 
Denmark's ruin and conquest) and Macbeth is contemplating 
murder. Fine models for statesmen. Lady Macbeth also has 
good things to say on this head. Why didn't Schlesinger 
quote her too?

*          *          *

    April is Shakespeare's month. No, I don't mean the 
Stratford gent, whose birthday is observed on April 23; I 
mean Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, born on April 12. To 
avoid confusion in this month's main article, I resort, 
reluctantly, to the annoying nickname "the Bard" to refer 
to the real author, who, I strongly suspect, wrote under 
many other aliases before he became "William 

*          *          *

    Dynastic wars were frequent in Europe during the age 
of monarchy, notably the fifteenth-century Wars of the 
Roses and the eighteenth-century War of Spanish 
Succession. Maybe the current war should be called the 
War of Iraqi Succession. The "monarch" who succeeds 
Saddam Hussein, it appears, will be an American general.

*          *          *

    Writing in TIME magazine, the theologian Stanley 
Hauerwas argues that President Bush blundered by calling 
the 9/11 attacks an act of war rather than a crime, thus 
elevating Osama bin Laden from a murderer to a warrior. 
Interesting point. Of course calling it an act of war 
enabled Bush to expand his hostilities to Iraq, so maybe 
he knew what he was doing.

*          *          *

    Nominally Catholic but pro-abortion politicians, like 
California's governor, Gray Davis, now routinely defy the 
(infrequent) rebukes of their bishops. The most incisive 
recent comment on this comes from Michael M. Uhlmann in 
the March issue of CRISIS magazine: "Catholic 
officeholders have discovered not only that bishops don't 
bite but that most of them don't even bark."

*          *          *

    Maybe we could just kill three thousand innocent 
Iraqis and call it even.

*          *          *

    The movie CHICAGO, for my money, deserves all the 
praise it's getting, and then some. It's beautiful, 
tuneful, imaginative, and hilarious. As an aspiring 
showgirl on trial for murder, Renee Zellwegger exudes 
devious charm; Catherine Zeta-Jones, as her nemesis, is 
simply thrilling; Richard Gere plays a slick lawyer with 
side-splitting aplomb; John C. Reilly, as Zellwegger's 
dazed, cuckolded husband, is a treasure. The whole thing 
is so amazingly conceived and choreographed it's hard to 
believe this is the first film Rob Marshall has directed.

*          *          *

    I'm pleased to announce a new subscriber: my grandson 
Joe Sobran, hitherto known chiefly for his prowess as a 
baseball player. Joe now reads every issue of the 
newsletter that bears his name from cover to cover, and, 
at 15, converses about its contents with gratifying 
maturity. Welcome, Joe! You keep making me so proud.

Exclusive to the electronic version:

     Pope John Paul II has called the impending war a 
"crime against humanity." In days of yore -- before 1960, 
say -- such a papal statement, grave and measured, would 
have caused a worldwide sensation, and politicians would 
quake. This one has barely been reported. Is this a sign 
of how low the Church's moral prestige has sunk?

*          *          *

     The recent film adaptation of Dickens's NICHOLAS 
NICKLEBY passed almost unnoticed. By now you'll have to 
catch it on video. The critics found its old-fashioned 
storytelling rather stodgy; I found it joyous, comparing 
well with the legendary Royal Shakespeare Company stage 
production of the Eighties. Jim Broadbent, as the beastly 
schoolmaster Squeers, and Juliet Stevenson, as his 
hatchet-faced wife, are not to be missed: just what 
Dickens had in mind to terrify boys. The whole cast is 
near-perfect, including Christopher Plummer, Nathan Lane, 
and Anne Hathaway.

The Bard's Orphans
(pages 3-6)

{{ Several supporting examples were cut from the print 
edition to fit the article into its four pages. This 
edition restores them without the usual double braces; 
double braces are used to indicate text that was cut from 
the print edition. Emphasis is indicated by the presence 
of asterisks around the emphasized words. }}

     Maybe I'm crazy. I've long since learned not to rule 
out that possibility when I think I have a bright idea. 
When I began to suspect, back in 1986, that the great 
Bard "William Shakespeare" was actually Edward de Vere, 
Earl of Oxford, I tried not to accept the Oxfordian 
theory too rashly.

     Ten years later, when I was finishing my book ALIAS 
SHAKESPEARE, I found an obscure sonnet cycle, EMARICDULFE 
(see the January 1998 issue or the website articles "A 
Note from the Editor" [] and 
"The Mystery of EMARICDULFE" [], 
which seemed to me to bear all the signs of the Bard's 
authorship. It was published in 1595 under the initials 
"E.C., Esquire." But if Oxford could write under one 
alias, why not another? Still, I waited over a year 
before committing myself. I wanted to be good and sure 
before I took the radical step of proposing to expand the 
Bard's canon.

     Five more years have passed, and I think it's time 
to advance what is either my brightest idea or my 
craziest. I can only sketch the evidence here, but I 
submit it as worthy of consideration.

     I believe Oxford also wrote, under various 
pseudonyms, much of the poetry for which the Elizabethan 
Age is remembered.

     This wasn't a conclusion I was predisposed to reach. 
Just the opposite. I was quite content with a single 
important discovery. I didn't want to discover too much, 
for fear of sounding like those Baconians who 
"discovered" that Francis Bacon wrote not only the 
Shakespeare works, but also the King James Bible and the 
works of Milton, Bunyan, and Robert Burton. The 
Shakespeare authorship question doesn't need any more 
absurd exaggerations.

     {{ Then again, }} think of it this way: if the 
Baconian theory *had* panned out, it *would* have been a 
tremendous discovery, {{ what? }} We should give even 
far-fetched ideas a fair chance. Anyway, here goes.

     During the 1590s and beyond, about two dozen sonnet 
cycles -- about a thousand sonnets in all -- were 
published in England. This has led scholars to speak of 
an "Elizabethan sonnet craze," whose stellar names 
include Sir Philip Sidney, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Watson, 
and Edmund Spenser, along with Richard Barnfield, Thomas 
Lodge, Michael Drayton, Bartholomew Griffin, Henry 
Constable, Barnabe Barnes, and others, lesser known or 
only vaguely identified, if identified at all.

     I studied these sonnets for a couple of years and 
was struck by their similarities of style, as well as by 
hundreds of recurrent images and turns of phrase. Some 
were better than others, but that is also true of the 
Bard's plays at different stages of his development. All 
but a few of the sonnets showed technical proficiency.

     Could most of them have been the work of a single 
poet? The more I read, the more plausible this seemed. 
Still, I resisted the idea, for the reasons I've 

     It was more than a matter of style. Many of the 
supposed poets, whose identities scholars have seldom 
doubted, were friends, relatives, acquaintances, and 
employees of Oxford! In most cases, even less is known of 
these men than of William of Stratford, whose meager 
biographical record has frustrated scholars for 
centuries. It's a striking point that among the few facts 
we do know of these poets is their connection to Oxford. 
One of the oddest things about "Shakespeare" is that we 
have so little evidence that he had any literary friends 
in London. Apart from Ben Jonson, no other writer seems 
to have met him!

     Many of the dedicatees also belonged to Oxford's 
circle. One sonnet cycle, HECATOMPATHIA, was dedicated to 
Oxford himself; it was ascribed to Thomas Watson, one of 
Oxford's secretaries. Another, CYNTHIA, supposedly by 
Richard Barnfield, was dedicated to Oxford's son-in-law, 
the Earl of Derby, in 1595 -- the year Derby married 
Oxford's daughter Elizabeth. WIT'S PILGRIMAGE, ascribed 
to John Davies, was dedicated to the Earl of Montgomery a 
few years later, around the time Montgomery married 
Oxford's daughter Susan. Several works were also 
dedicated to Montgomery's mother, the Countess of 
Pembroke; others to "the gentlemen of the Inns of Court," 
especially Gray's Inn, where Oxford had studied law. 
(These poems were published between 1582 and 1628; the 
Bard's between 1593 and 1634. Two of the poets speak of 
writing their sonnets in Italy, where Oxford spent a year 
as a young man.)

     These might all be coincidences, but there were 
other things too, chiefly the wording of the dedications. 
In several cases the poet refers to his sonnet cycle as 
his first effort, usually in the metaphor of offspring: 
as his "first fruit," "first-born," "child," "issue," 
"infants," "babe," "maiden verse," "orphans," even 
"bastard orphan." Compare the Bard's reference to VENUS 
AND ADONIS as "the first heir of my invention"; the poem 
was dedicated in 1593 to the Earl of Southampton, who 
nearly became Oxford's son-in-law. Usually the poet 
disparages his verse as "rude" or "unpolished" (the Bard 
calls his "unpolished" and "untutored"), though it's 
anything but. Often the poet professes his gentlemanly 
reluctance to publish his verses, but explains that his 
friends (or some villainous publisher) have left him no 
choice in the matter.

     Your first impression, reading these dedications, is 
of a sort of courtly monotony. They all sound alike. They 
use hundreds of the same phrases. They belittle their 
poetic "children." They apologize for their unworthiness. 
They grovel to the dedicatees. Was all this just standard 
Elizabethan practice? Or didn't these rhymesters have any 
sense of dignity?

     How odd, too, that so many able sonneteers, some of 
them brilliant, should make their debuts in quick 
succession -- and never reappear! Each makes his debut as 
sonneteering Rookie of the Year, as it were, and then 
never writes another sonnet! Contrast French sonneteers 
like Pierre Ronsard, who poured out reams of sonnet 
cycles. What's more, these English boys keep promising to 
write something better in the future, just as the Bard 
promises "some graver labor" to follow VENUS, but the 
promise is never kept.

     The casual reader may dismiss the whole issue with 
the vague explanation that "they all wrote pretty much 
alike in those days." But this will hardly do. Consider 
some parallel passages from PHILLIS (1593), usually 
ascribed to Thomas Lodge, and from CHLORIS (1596), 
assigned to William Smith. No two poets in any age ever 
wrote *this* much alike:

      Long hath my sufferance labor'd to enforce
      One pearl of pity from her pretty eyes,
      Whilst I with restless rivers of remorse,
      Have bath'd the banks where my fair Phillis 
      Long hath my sufferance labor'd to enforce
      One pearl of pity from her pretty eyes;
      Whilst I, with restless oceans of remorse,
      Bedew the banks where my fair Chloris lies

      ~ ~ ~

      When as she spied the nymph whom I admire,
      Combing her locks, of which the yellow gold
      Made blush the beauties of her curled wire,
      Which heaven itself with wonder might behold,
      Then, red with shame, her reverend locks she 
      And weeping hid the beauty of her face
      There did I see the nymph whom I admire,
      Remembering her locks; of which the yellow 
      Made blush the beauties of her curled wire,
      Which Jove himself with wonder well might 
      Then red with ire, her tresses she berent;
      And weeping hid the beauty of her face

      ~ ~ ~

      And as nor tyrant sun nor winter weather
      May ever change sweet Amaranthus' hue,
      So she though love and fortune join together,
      Will never leave to be both fair and true
      But as cold winter's storms and nipping 
      Can never change sweet Amaranthus' hue,
      So, though my love and life by her are 
      My heart shall still be constant firm and 

      ~ ~ ~

      For you I live, and you I love, but none else.
      O then, fair eyes, whose light I live to view,
      Or poor forlorn despis'd to live alone else
      For her I live, and her I love and none else.
      O then, fair eyes, look mildly upon me:
      Who poor, despis'd, forlorn, must live alone 

      ~ ~ ~

      Burst, burst, poor heart: thou hast no longer 
           hope ...
      Let all my senses have no further scope
      But burst, poor heart: thou hast no better 
      Since all thy senses have no further scope

      ~ ~ ~

      And should I leave thee there, thou pretty 
      Nay, first let Damon quite forget himself
      And I cannot forget her, pretty elf ...
      Yet let me rather clean forget myself

      ~ ~ ~

      Look, sweet, since from the pith of 
      Love gathereth life, and living, breedeth 
      To penetrate the pith of contemplation ...
      Nor move her heart on me to take compassion 

     Is Smith simply plagiarizing Lodge? If so, he's 
doing it awfully blatantly, and you'd expect Lodge to 
have a thing or two to say about it. Yet there is no 
record of any complaint by Lodge. In fact, as far as I 
can tell, no scholar has ever noticed these parallels, 
let alone surmised that "Lodge" and "Smith" were actually 
the same poet. I think they were the same poet -- Oxford 
-- and that the latter work was actually a revision of 
the former.

     Over several years, I found about 3,000 such 
parallels among these poems. Many of them could hardly be 
coincidental. A sonnet from THE TEARS OF FANCY, published 
in 1592 by "T.W." (often assumed to be Thomas Watson), is 
a near twin of the only sonnet published under Oxford's 
name. Here is the last of T.W.'s 60 sonnets:

      Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, sweet 
      Who taught thy tongue to marshal words of 
      Who filled thine eyes with tears of bitter 
      Who gave thee grief and made thy joys so 
      Who first did paint with colours pale thy 
      Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?
      Who forc'd thee unto wanton love give place?
      Who thrall'd thy thoughts in fancy so 
      Who made thee bide both constant firm and 
      Who made thee scorn the world and love thy 
      Who made thy mind with patience pains endure?
      Who made thee settle steadfast to the end?
        Then love thy choice though love be never 
        Still live in love, despair not though 

Compare this with Oxford's sonnet:

      Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my 
      Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of 
      Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter 
      Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to 
      Who first did paint with colours pale thy 
      Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?
      Above the rest in court who gave thee grace?
      Who made thee strive in honour to be best?
      In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
      To scorn the world regarding but thy friends?
      With patient mind each passion to endure,
      In one desire to settle to the end?
        Love then thy choice wherein such choice 
           thou bind,
        As naught but death may ever change thy 

In various ways, the evidence kept pointing to Oxford.

     I checked out all these poets in THE DICTIONARY OF 
NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY and other sources. Of some of them 
nothing is known; "William Smith" could be anyone named 
William Smith, or the name could be a blind. The poets 
who gave only their initials are of course untraceable. 
One, the author of the cycle ZEPHERIA, didn't even give 
his initials.

     Some were real men. There was a man named Richard 
Barnfield, said to have been a friend of Watson and 
Drayton, but though a few works were published under his 
name in the mid 1590s he doesn't seem to have been a 
writer. He published nothing else before his death in 

     Samuel Daniel wrote loads of poetry after the 
exquisite sonnet cycle DELIA, but none of it was anything 
like DELIA: his major work was a verse history, so 
prosaic it's almost doggerel. Here I found an interesting 
clue: Ben Jonson, who knew practically every writer in 
London, said that Daniel was "an honest man ... but no 
poet." He could hardly have said that if he thought 
Daniel wrote DELIA.

     Finally it hit me: What if all these rookie poets 
were the *same* poet? What if all these dedications were 
a running inside joke? What if it was Oxford, amusing his 
friends? That would explain almost everything.

     Another interesting detail is that most of these 
sonnet cycles appeared in only one edition, and there is 
very little contemporary comment on them. The genre seems 
to have been less popular than the scholars have assumed. 
This suggests that the sonnets were published at the 
author's or authors' own expense, not by popular demand. 
{{ (Could a large reading public be snared by titles like 

     Desperate for at least some scholarly support for my 
outlandish theory, I found a little in an unexpected and 
utterly respectable source: C.S. Lewis's magisterial 
history of English literature in the sixteenth century. 
Not that Lewis agrees with me. Not at all. The idea never 
crosses his mind, and he would surely have found it 
outre. But he does name seven poets who remind him of the 
Bard in some respect -- and all seven are among my 
suspected masks of Oxford! He finds Daniel's sonnets as 
lovely as the Bard's; he thinks Barnfield imitates the 
Bard; he thinks Watson's "conception of the sonnet" is 
much like the Bard's; Barnabe Barnes sounds like "a 
weaker Shakespeare"; and so on.

     Sometimes, in the dedications, the verbal parallels 
with the Bard are unmistakable: after apologizing for his 
"rude and unpolished lines," Barnfield adds: "If my 
ability were better, the signs should be greater; but 
being as it is, your honor must take me as I am, not as I 
should be. But howsoever it is, yours it is; and I myself 
am yours; in all humble service...." Compare the Bard's 
dedication to LUCRECE: "What I have to do is yours, being 
part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater 
my duty would show greater, meantime, as it is, it is 
bound to your lordship." Again, Barnfield: "Small is the 
gift, but great is my good will." The Bard, in PERICLES, 
writes, "Yet my good will is great, though the gift 
small." The dedication to DIELLA (by "R.L., Gentleman," 
1596) addresses "your ladyship ... to whom I ever wish 
long life, lengthened with all honorable happiness. Your 
ladyship's in all duty," et cetera. Again, compare 
LUCRECE: "your lordship, to whom I wish long life still 
lengthened with all happiness. Your lordship's in all 
duty," et cetera.

     The poems themselves afford hundreds of matches like 
these: "O dear vexation of my troubled soul" 
(PARTHENOPHIL AND PARTHENOPHE, Barnes, 1593); "The deep 
vexation of his inward soul" (LUCRECE). And "Hunting he 
lov'd, nor did he scorn to love" (DIELLA); "Hunting he 
lov'd, but love he laugh'd to scorn" (VENUS).

     Still, there are difficulties. Sidney and Spenser 
are so renowned that it gives me pause to include them in 
my list of Oxford's beards. The short (though 
insufficient) answer is that Sidney's supposed writings 
were published many years after his death; and Spenser's 
supposed sonnets, the AMORETTI, are markedly different 
from his other poems, whose authorship (in most cases) I 
don't question. I mean to explore this more fully in 
another book. (One important link here is the Countess of 
Pembroke, to whom DELIA is dedicated. In addition to 
being Montgomery's mother, she was also Sidney's sister. 
Small world.)

     All this calls for an explanation. How could this 
have happened? I can only guess. But here is my guess:

     Oxford grew up in a highly literate family. One of 
his uncles was the great poet Henry Howard, Earl of 
Surrey, who introduced the Petrarchan sonnet in English; 
he was the first to use the "Shakespearean" sonnet form 
{{ (never dreaming, of course, that one of his nephews 
would actually become "Shakespeare"). }} Another uncle 
was Arthur Golding, a great classical scholar and 
translator of Ovid. Under these two influences, Oxford 
aspired to become England's Petrarch (through the sonnet 
cycle) and also its Ovid (through narrative poems).

     For many years (I'm still guessing, but not, I 
think, unreasonably) Oxford wrote sonnet cycles and 
narrative poems, which he circulated among his friends, 
but, like a good gentleman, refrained from publishing. 
Print was still considered a vulgar medium; no gentleman 
would write for money or popularity.

     This is the part modern men find hard to understand. 
When we write nowadays, it's usually for the very things 
English gentlemen used to sniff at: money and popularity. 
Otherwise, we feel, why bother writing? Very few of us 
now write only for a small coterie. (For an illuminating 
study of how the old attitude lingered but eventually 
changed, see Alvin Kernan's SAMUEL JOHNSON AND THE IMPACT 

     Maybe (still guessing here, but, I hope, plausibly) 
Oxford came to realize that if he wanted literary 
immortality -- and his poems were lavishly praised by 
those who saw them -- he'd better get them into print. 
Yet it wouldn't do to put his own name on them. So he 
borrowed other men's names, invented fictitious names, or 
just used initials. By the time he reached full maturity, 
he had begun to use the name William Shakespeare.

     When he pulled his old sonnet cycles and narrative 
poems out of the drawer and prepared them for the 
printer, Oxford added dedications, in which, for the 
amusement of insiders, he played the humble novice poet, 
using a different pseudonym each time. The fake humility 
was part of the gag. His friends would get the joke; the 
reading public (and later scholars) would be taken in. 
But if you read the dedications in succession, you can 
feel the phantom poet winking at you.

     The hoax worked only too well. To this day, the 
pseudonyms and dedications are taken at face value. It 
took more than four centuries for someone (ahem!) to 
crack the code, so to speak. Meanwhile, a poor country 
bloke has reaped most of the glory due to Oxford's works.

     This could explain a great paradox: the Bard says, 
in his most famous sonnets, that he expects his poems to 
be immortal while hoping his own name will be 
"forgotten." As a rule your name is remembered as long as 
your poems are. But if virtually *all* of Oxford's poems 
were pseudonymous, the puzzle is resolved. And as I've 
written elsewhere, Oxford had an additional motive for 
concealing his authorship: his own scandalous personal 

     My theory could solve another puzzle. In 1599 came 
the small volume THE PASSIONATE PILGRIM, "by William 
Shakespeare"; yet scholars have found that several of its 
20 poems had already appeared under the names of 
Barnfield, Griffin, and others, so its place in the 
Bard's canon is now considered marginal. But if I'm 
correct, Oxford may indeed have written the whole thing 
under various names.

     All this would mean that we possess hundreds of 
priceless pages Oxford wrote in his poetic 
apprenticeship, before he became "Shakespeare." It would 
also mean that the entire history of Elizabethan 
literature must be overhauled. The "Elizabethan sonnet 
craze," it appears, was pretty much a one-man show.

     If I'm right, Oxford would be surprised, and 
probably disappointed, that his plays have lasted better 
than his poems. But considering all the confusion he has 
caused, he'd be in a poor position to complain.


THOSE MEDDLING FRENCH! Isolationism is one thing, but 
when you take it to the length of interfering in other 
people's war plans, it apparently becomes a form of 
aggression. (page 7)

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: Taking issue with my column about 
Franklin Roosevelt and the atomic bomb ("The Right 
Hands," February 13, 2003;
030213.shtml), a correspondent challenges me: "What 
*should* Roosevelt have done?" Wrong question. It's a bit 
like asking, "What should Stalin have done?" The right 
question is, "What should have been done *about* 
Roosevelt?" Impeachment, for openers. No use asking how 
FDR might have solved the problem. He *was* the problem. 
(page 8)

FROG-BASHING: The hawks are furious at the French for 
opposing Bush's war. Why? As of February, the war hadn't 
started yet; Americans were free to oppose it; Bush 
himself said he hadn't decided to resort to war. And he 
did promise to "consult our allies," didn't he? Yet 
somehow the French are ingrates if they don't approve 
*proposed* U.S. wars in advance! "We," after all, "saved" 
them in two world wars, ergo they must always support our 
hawks? (page 11)

UNLUCKY LINDY: My sharp friend Phil Collier notes that 
Charles Lindbergh is still called a bigot -- most 
recently by neocon Max Boot -- for saying that the 
Roosevelt administration, the British, and Jewish 
interests were trying to get the United States into World 
War II. Not only was he perfectly right, says Phil, but 
from the neocon perspective, the charge should be 
regarded as a tribute. After all, wasn't it *desirable* 
to intervene in the war? Isn't that the bedrock dogma of 
neoconservatism? (page 12)

Exclusive to the electronic version:

ANNIVERSARY NOTE: It's been ten full years since the 
Federal siege of Waco. The siege of Iraq is strikingly 
similar: the demonization of the enemy leader, the 
grossly inflated "danger," the pledge to spare the 
innocent. Further parallels will no doubt abound once the 
action starts.  

JUST WONDERING: Suppose the U.S. Government had followed 
the "isolationist" counsel of Washington and Jefferson 
these two centuries. What foreign policy crisis would we 
face today? Armadas of crazed Muslims closing in on our 

JUST WONDERING AGAIN: A Cincinnati reader poses a 
provocative question: If you read the U.S. Constitution 
and the Communist Manifesto without preconceptions, which 
one would you conclude was guiding our government? 


* The Right Hands (February 13, 2003)

* In Defense of Dual Loyalty (February 18, 2003)

* Whacking Our Allies (February 20, 2003)

* The Big Peacenik (February 25, 2003)

* So Many Hitlers (February 27, 2003)

* Phantom Enemies (March 4, 2003)


All articles are written by Joe Sobran

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