A basic proof of Orthodoxy’s belief that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the literary canon associated with his name is found in the dedications to Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, both of which are signed “William Shakespeare”, apparently qualifying Shakspere as author of these poems, and therefore of the whole canon. But both texts are shot through with covert scandalous wit which Orthodoxy, I am sure, has sometimes suspected, but has been loth to rock the boat that keeps afloat the Earl of Southampton’s patronage of Shakspere, for the covert content of these dedications irrefragably sinks the vessel and its steadfast crew. The dedications are covert texts, and the “Shakespeare” signature a declaration by Rutland of his pseudonym, for both are signed by himself. Before examining them, it is necessary to realise that Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland (1576-1612), discovered at puberty that he was afflicted with erectile disorder; and that it had scarcely registered when he was, almost certainly, seduced by his friend, the (then sportif) Earl of Southampton. In the Sonnets and here in the dedications he jokes hilariously about his erectile disfunction and his doedom, perhaps a heterosexual’s cathartic expression of shame and bewilderment. We must also remember that he began writing with ambition in his fourteenth year. Scholars often maintain that the seventeen first sonnets were written to celebrate the seventeenth birthday of the Earl of Southampton. They are correct; and since they shared the same birthday, 6th October, Rutland would have been fourteen, obviously having penned them when thirteen. He was sixteen when Venus and Adonis was published. Could he have produced such accomplished verse without prior dedication to his Muse? It cannot be stressed too strongly that Rutland was a prodigy: indeed, it is possible that he had already written Comedy of Errors, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Loves Labours Lost, and parts of Henry VI before his sixteenth birthday (and possibly even earlier). Given the lewd covert texts of the dedications, the youth of the participants – particularly the prodigious young writer’s – should immediately win our amnesty, for salacious comic realism would have been piquantly agreeable to them, elicited by an analysis of the dedication to Venus and Adonis:
TO THE RIGHT
Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton,
And Baron of Titchfield
1 Right Honourable, I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my
2 unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the worlde will censure
3 mee for choosing so strong a proppe so support so weake a burthen,
4 onelye if your Honor seeme but pleased, I account my selfe highly
5 praised, and vowe to take advantage of all idle houres till I have
6 honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heire of my
7 invention prove deformed, I shall be sorie it had so noble a god-father: and
8 never after eare so barren a land, for feare it yeeld me still so bad a
9 harvest, I leave it to your Honourable survey, and your Honor to your
10 hearts content, which I wish may alwaies answere your owne wish,
11 and the worlds hopefull expectation.
12 Your Honors in all duetie,
13 William Shakespeare.
3 So strong a proppe: so excellent a penis as yours. support: hold up; so weake a burthen: my unworthy anus? onelye: perhaps cryptic, intending a reference to Southampton’s motto, Ung par tout, tout par ung: ‘One for all (‘awl’, penis), and all for one’.
4 but pleased: phonetic ‘butt-pleased’ (the ‘proppe’ well satisfied). highly praised: well served by your nonpareil rod.
5 all idle houres: all – awl - penis: ‘and vow to take it (Friend Henry’s rod) on libinal prompt’.
6 some graver labor: with implied ‘thus rendering us both butt-pleased’.
7 the first heire of my invention: variously explained: by orthodox scholars as ‘my first essay at a lyric poem’; by the heretical scholar as ‘the first use of my pseudonym “William Shakespeare”’; but the colon (comma only needed) – indicating ‘double-pricked’ (two pricks of the pen) – after ‘god-father’, suggests a third cryptic meaning: ‘my initiation to anal cock’ – the first coming-in – “invention” – into my sexual parts (‘heire’: q.v. heir Partridge, Shakespeares Bawdy, p. 128). deformed: unacceptable to you? eare: plough.
8 so barren a land: of ruts. it yeeld me still: for my title is ‘Rut-land’.
9 your Honourable survey: possibly flags the subscription’s encryption. your hearts content: ‘heart’, centre of passion: ‘your prick’s content’.
10 alwaies: in all – ‘awl’ – ways. wish: desire. worlds: posteriors (globes of the buttocks) with sense, ‘my derrière’s…’.
11 Your Honors in all duetie: (anagram): Your Hons eie: I, Lo: Rutland: ‘eie’, hole: see Partridge, ibid., p.109. Abbreviations – e.g. ‘Hons’ for ‘Honors’, ‘Lo:’ for ‘Lord’, etc. – were common between intimates in Elijean [Elizabethan and Jacobean] times: two extant letters written by Rutland when a boy of twelve and fourteen to his mother, the dowager Countess of Rutland, he ends with Your Lpps most duetifull sonne, and Your Lps most duetifull sonne, Roger Rutland.
14 William Shakespeare: that is, aka (also known as) “William Shakespeare”.
A probable decoding is: “Right Honourable, I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the worlde will censure mee for choosing so excellent a penis as yours to hold up my unworthy anus, onelye (one for all and all for one!) if your Honor seeme butt-pleased (proppe well satisfied), I account my selfe well served by your nonpareil rod, which I vowe to take on libidinal prompt, till I have honoured you with some graver labor (rendering us both extremely butt-pleased!). But if my initiation to anal cock prove unacceptable to you, I shall be sorie it had so noble a sponsor: and never after plough so barren a land (of ruts), for feare it yeeld me still (for my name is ‘Rut-land’) so bad a harvest: I leave it to your Honourable survey below, and your Honor to your pricks content, which I wish may, in all ways, answere to your owne desire, and my derrières hopefull expectation.
Your Hons eie: I, Lo: Rutland,
aka “William Shakespeare”.
Second, the Lucrece dedication:
TO THE RIGHT
Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton,
and Baron of Titchfield
1 The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end: whereof this
2 Pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous Moiety. The warrant
3 I have of your Honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored
4 Lines makes it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours,
5 being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my
6 duety would shew greater, meane time, as it is, it is bound to your
7 Lordship; to whom I wish long life still lengthened with all
9 Your Lordships in all duetie,
10 William Shakespeare
1 The love: ‘O’, anus. The love I: ‘love’ = ‘anus’, ‘I’ = ‘tumescent penis’ (Earl Henry’s nonpareil, the Titchfield Tickler: his home Titchfield Manor). end: penis, double-sized (colon two pricks of the pen): ‘your double-sized beautie’. this Pamphlet without beginning: ‘The love I’ (phrase begins the dedication): see gloss for “The love I” above.
2 but: phonetic ‘butt’ = ‘arse’, ‘anus’. Moiety: half, part: ‘a useless half without ‘the love I’’. warrant: guarantee, support, basis.
3 your Honourable dispostion: probably ‘your upstanding cock’. Untutored Lines: (anagram) neutor’d utensil (‘utensil’ = ‘tool’).
4 it: the love I (penis). assured: metathesis (transposition of sounds, as in a spoonerism), ‘sure-assed’. done: with ironic play on anagram ‘O end’ (without effective cock) and ‘end O’ (rear hole).
5 all I: double play on ‘penis’, ‘awl’ and ‘I’ (rampant rod). worth: uprightness. my duety would shew greater: my love would also be upright.
6 it is bound: ‘it’ = ‘my devoted ass’
7 long life still lengthened with all happinesse: an enduring stiffy (long life) still lengthened in copulating content (play on ‘awl happinesse’).
8 Your Lordships in all duetie: (anagram) Your Ldships eie: I, Lo: Rutland (see gloss v. 12, p. 2 above).
9 William Shakespeare: aka (also known as) “William Shakespeare”.
A probable decoding is: ‘The anus I dedicate to your Lordship is without your nonpareil cock: whereof without your beautie there is butt, my receptive ass, a useless half (without Tickler). The guarantee I have of your upstanding dick, not the worth of my neutor’d utensil, makes it sure-assed of acceptance. What I do have – butt-end – is yours, dedicated to your rampant nonpareil. Were my uprightness greater my love would also be upright; meane-time my dedicated rear is bound to your Lordship; to whom I wish an enduring stiffy still lengthened in copulating content.
Your Ldships eie: I, Lo: Rutland,
Aka “William Shakespeare”.
When decoding such difficult covert texts, it is not possible to be correct with every gloss. Both dedications strongly indicate a hidden text: from V&A “so strong a proppe… butt-pleased… ” with “all idle houres”, “the worlds hopefull expectation”; and from RoL “The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end: whereof this Pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous Moiety” with “the worlds hopefull expectation” are redolent of cryptic clues in the Times or Guardian crosswords; although to spot their cryptic intent readily one would perhaps need to be au fait with the tragic biography of Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland. His sexual impotency impelled him into the necessary therapy of laughter, even, bravely, burlesquing his erectile dysfunction, here and in the sonnets. The dual texts are indecent, but one should not contemn our brilliant chatelain attempting cathartic treatment for a blighted start upon adulthood. Penned respectively at 16 and 17, they attest superlative wit, ingenious command of language, and an intrepid intent to confront the sufferings of a malign fortune. And he signs them, “I, Lo: Rutland, aka “William Shakespeare””, thus declaring himself the author of the canon mistakenly attributed to Shakepere of Stratford.