Plane truth

Thomas HardyChristmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
   "Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
   By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
   They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
   To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
   In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
   "Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
   Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
   Hoping it might be so.

What could be more Christmassy than an article about trees? Here we have the famous agnostic, Thomas Hardy, indulging himself in a little bit of Christmas Romanticism, apparently wishing (although not expecting) that a popular Christmas legend might prove to be true. Whilst this hardly counts as apophenia (the quest to see patterns in data where there is no pattern), wishing for things that we ought to know are impossible inspires a great deal of Oxfordian field research. Visits to Castle Hedingham and Bilton Hall, for example, may well strengthen the faith in the hearts of the true Oxfordian like a visit to Midnight Mass will rejuvenate a Christian, but surely they realise that geographical exertion and exploration are not going to turn up actual evidence of their messiah's hand in the Shakespearean inkwell?

No No Vulcano

Isola Vulcano was, until recently, the Oxfordian’s location of choice for Prospero’s Island.

Not much can really be concluded from isolating the actual location but Oxfordians think it’s important to tie locations to the Earl’s Italian itinerary as they suffer from the delusion that no one can describe a place they haven’t actually visted. To illustrate this, they try to look for accurate geographic details only a real visitor would have noticed.

Tranectomy

tranectHours, weeks, even months have been spent arguing about Proteus and Portia's route-planning and what its accuracy or inaccuracy reveals. The first thing to say is that above all the geographical explanations, there exists the overarching possibility that Will had only vague ideas of the exact layout and governance of the Veneto and didn't really give a toss whether he was being accurate or not.

Time and distance are both often ruthlessly compressed in Will's work, like an artist's perspective on a broad landscape. To get to Belmont and back for his suit, Bassanio needed Shylock's money for three months. How does this time actually elapse in the play? Not on a journey to Belmont and back, that's for sure. How much more likely is it that Will fiddled with his source material without giving much thought to where Belmont was or how long it would take to get there?  The three months were what we would now call 'virtual months' or 'stage months'.

The distance used by Oxfordians, headed by Magri and Roe, to uncover the location of Belmont is twenty miles.

Twenty miles is a virtual distance, which chimes with all the other uses of 'twenty' by Portia and her Belmont chums. 

The Italian Job

roeIt was inevitable that we would need to look at the work of Richard Paul Roe at some time. After losing a game of 'who knows the most famous Icelanders' it has fallen to me.

Like Diana Price, Roe disingenuously decided to 'withhold' any personal preference for actual candidates in the authorship question, preferring to concentrate on the accuracy of the geography of the Italian plays.  It does, however, neatly absolve him from the need to explain some big inconsistencies such as the presence of inland waterways which might plausibly allow Shakespeare's characters to sail between inland destinations which have totally implausible tides which they are hurrying to catch. Not only do canals not have tides, there are no tides anywhere in the Mediterranean area, something visitors tend to observe.

Roe decides not to engage in Oxfordian argument and limit his contribution to proving that Shakespeare went to Italy. There could, of course, be creditable motives for this. Tying actual places named in the plays to real Italian locations, could almost certainly (favourite Oxfordian phrase) prove (another) that the author had visited Italy. 


sycamore

Possible location of the wrong tree, up which Oxfordians like to bark

There are, however, three problems inherent in his argument, especially if it is intended to support De Vere (and since destinations not included in De Vere's trip of 1574/5 do not appear to feature, assumptions beg to be assumed).