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Category — The Tragedy of Chabot

Waiting for Chabot; Part II – begot i’th’ Court

“begot i’th’ Court”

The previous post introduced a passage from the last act of George Chapman’s last play, The Tragedy of Chabot.  Here is that passage.



 click quote to enlarge

The premise of the Advocate’s argument before the courtroom is generation from corruption. His launching point is Aristotle’s On Generation and Corruption, a treatise on the coming to be of things from the passing of other things. The Advocate sequences these items like so many biblical begats. The semi-colons show us breaks in the chain. They separate out the misdirection from the content Chapman delivers at the end of the passage. The final semi-colon occurs at “tumult.”  The important passage;

“…a tumult may beget a captain, and the corruption of a captain may beget a gentleman-usher, and a gentleman-usher may beget a lord, whose wit may beget a poet, and a poet may get a thousand pound a year, but nothing without corruption.”

The relevant sequence therefore is,

tumult -> Captain -> gentleman usher -> lord  -> poet -> 1000£ a year.

We can fill in the final four easily. The gentleman usher is the Shaksper/Vere portrayal  that led us to this page. The lord is Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, a known poet and recipient of a very rare 1000£ per annum stipend from the Queen. What is extraordinary is that Chapman’s device describes a cause and effect linkage between the items.  Chapman is offering us direct proof that

  1. The poet IS  a nobleman. The sequence is “lord whose wit may beget a poet.” Decisive evidence.
  2. The 1000£ per year Vere received WAS for poetry/plays, not simply to ameliorate his decrepit financial condition. “a poet may get a thousand pound a year”  The lord isn’t getting the money, the poet is. Again, decisive evidence.

These are two absolutely huge pieces of Shakespeare Authorship evidence long-sought by researchers. We now have Chapman giving us direct evidence that has escaped the Tudor censors.

But who is the Captain?  And what was the Tumult?

An examination of the extant evidence surrounding Vere’s 1000£ annuity is useful.

Stephanie Hughes provides excellent insight into Walsingham’s role in this essay on her blog, Politicworm.

Hank Whittemore’s account of the 1000 pound annuity is good also. 


The Literature divides into two camps. One argues against any connection to Vere beng paid for writing, citing various documents concerning Vere’s poor financial condition and the fact that the 1000£ did ameliorate that condition. There is a logical failing in these arguments, in that the fact Vere was pulled out of poverty is not proof that was the sole purpose of the annuity. The other school of thought, exemplified in Mark Anderson’s Shakespeare by Another Name and other sources notes the letter from Burghley to Sir Francis Walsingham asking for updates on the petition to the Queen in the matter of Lord Oxford, just prior to the granting of the annuity. Walsingham was the spymaster. He had also set up the Queen’s Men theatre troupe in 1583, three years before the annuity was granted in June 1586. If the annuity was solely to ameliorate Vere’s poverty, why was Walsingham pursuing it and not Burghley?  That is the question many who argued against a theatrical connection failed to ask.

My idea as to the identity of the “captain” in Chabot originally had three suspects; the Queen, Burghley and Walsingham. Walsingham seems to be the leading candidate.  But let’s go back to Chapman’s The Gentleman Usher, where at the end of that play Mendice tells us his life story.


“My lord, when I was young, being able-limb’d,
A captain of the gipsies entertain’d me,
And many years I liv’d a loose life with them;
At last I was so favour’d that they made me
The King of Gipsies; and being told my fortune
By an old sorceress that I should be great
In some great prince’s love, I took the treasure
Which all our company of gipsies had
In many years by several stealths collected;
And leaving them in wars, I liv’d abroad
With no less show than now; and my last wrong
I did to noblesse was in this high Court. “(Act V, sc iv. )

The gipsies are the acting company. The captain in Gentleman Usher is likely the captain in Chabot. Walsingham was head of The Queen’s Men. Ergo, Walsingham is the captain in Chabot!  Now on to the tumult.

In 1572, Sir Francis Walsingham was ambassador to France at the time of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Sir Thomas Smith was stationed there as well. England was up in arms over the massacre of Protestant Huguenots in France. While the pulpits raged against the ‘massacre,’ the government needed to be careful, wishing to preserve amity with the King of France. In official communications the word ‘massacre’ was not used. It was called “the Tumult.”  Here are references to two letters from Walsingham to Smith at that time.



click to enlarge

Walsingham’s and Smith’s handling of the Tumult/Massacre (a corruption!) generated their elevation to co-Secretaries of State the following year. a tumult may beget a captain” Walsingham owed his captaincy of State to the Tumult of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.  Can there be any doubt this passage in Chabot is alluding to actual events? The tourist-funded scholars will argue otherwise, I’m sure.

A few posts ago I wrote.

“The gentleman ushers we’ve encountered along the way have a double meaning, I believe. one meaning points to Shaksper as servent/usher to Vere. The second meaning is the gentleman usher/noble relationship as a metaphor for a discreet poet/patron relationship. Discretion (secrecy) and Pace (meters) are the hallmarks of the gentleman usher.  Ambler as gentleman usher to Lady Tail-bush is telling the story of Vere as discreet poet to his patron, Queen Elizabeth. I think this interpretation fits all the evidence I’ve presented so far. It also fits the evidence yet to come.”

I now think there is a third aspect to the portrayal of Vere as usher.  This aspect became clear when I read Richard Dutton’s gloss of gentleman-usher in the Revels’ edition of Epicene.

gentleman-usher] gentleman who serves a person of even higher rank, a position probably forced on the holder by lack of money.

The gentleman usher is an example of a person of rank working for money. We can now see  how Vere as metaphorical usher to the Queen, was a loophole in the normal prohibition against employment of someone with a title. The usher metaphor has three aspects – the secrecy (discretion), the pace (poetry) and employment (the compensation – the 1000£ annuity.   We’ve seen so many times this interchangibility of Vere and Shaksper in the plays of the period. The gentleman-usher front man/poet construct is a combination of the two. And what Chabot tells us, is that it was beget by Walsingham.  We can see now why it was Walsingham who was petitioning the Queen for the 1000£ annuity. It was his brainchild. a captain may beget a gentleman-usher.”

Walsingham’s creation saved Oxford’s earldom from financial ruin. a gentleman-usher may beget a lord.”

It was Vere’s wit that created the poetry. Not Shaksper.  “lord, whose wit may beget a poet,”

“and a poet may get a thousand pound a year”The poet, not the earldom recieved the money, Chapman tells us.

“but nothing without corruption.”  And Chapman closes with a hint about the ‘why’ of the secrecy. Notice there’s no mention of royal bastards.

St. Bartholomew’s Massacre -> Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary of State and founder of The Queen’s Men acting company -> Shaksper/Vere Walsingham’s construct -> de Vere the Earl of Oxford -> Shake-speare the poet -> Gov’t Funding

From Corruption came Great Art. Aristotle fulfilled.

All of this was made possible by the grant of 1000£ per year, which financed the writing, and the theater. Shaksper got his cut. The Earl’s lifestyle was maintained. Walsingham achieved his propaganda goals. The Queen got the poetry she loved. Walsingham got his own eye’s and ears man on the inside of the theater business, Shaksper the informant. Vere was free to write and write and write. The government maintained the separation of the nobilty from obvious labor. All this costs the government 1000£ per year. The steep price Vere paid was his name.  A price he would come to regret later in life.

Remember in Doctor Dodypoll we earlier found allusions to this apparant deal granting Vere’s theatrical work legitimacy. It’s worth revisiting that passage, as it is corroborating evidence for Chabot.

CASSIMERE: My Lord, your humors are most strange to us,
The humble fortune of a servants life,
Should in your carelesse estate so much displease.

LASSIN: Quod licet ingratum est, quod non licet acrius urit.
trans -“We take no pleasure in permitted joys.
But what’s forbidden is more keenly sought” – Ovid]

FLORES: Could my child’s beautie, moove you so my lord,
When Lawe and dutie held it in restraint,
And now (they both allowe it) be neglected?

LASSIN: I cannot relish joyes that are enforst,
For, were I shut in Paradice it selfe,
I should as from a prison strive t’escape. … [III.1.20]

The earl, painter by day, and earl by night, has the ‘humble fortune of a servant’s life.
and then -“When Lawe and dutie held it in restraint,
And now (they both allowe it) be neglected?”

“Law and duty” held his theatrical work in restraint. now they ‘both allow it’ – an allusion to the 1586 legitimizing of Vere’s writing. I surmised as much at the time writing “He’s seemingly been granted an exemption from the prohibitions of the nobility toward theatrical activity. But what price did he pay for that exemption?  Did he  forfeit his name? I would think that could spur a bout of melancholy.”

It is very important to acknowledge Shaksper’s role. The great body of work does not exist as it is today without this creation of “Shakespeare Inc.”, in which Shaksper as front man played a role. He was there from the beginning. He was part of the solution when Walsingham and the Queen, figured out how to harness the wayward and talented Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.

Remember Haunce, the Shaksper character serving-man in Doctor Dodypoll reminds Earl Lassinbergh the painter by day earl by night, of his own role in creating the earl’s works.

“HAUNCE: Come sir, it is not your painting alone,
Makes your absolute man; ther’s as fine a hand
To be requir’d in carrying a dish,”

Call it “Shakespeare Inc.” Call it “the National Endowment for Theater and Propaganda,” or whatever. But in June 1586, Sir Francis Walsingham, using 1000£ from the Queen’s treasury, created a theatrical operation, harnessing the talented but wayward literary genius Vere, and using his man Shaksper as a front, to produce the greatest arts and propaganda programs of all time. We’re still enjoying the fruits of that project, and now it is no longer cloaked in secrecy, thanks to the information the contemporary playwright, George Chapman, carefully buried in the last act of his last play.

The gentleman usher mentions throughout the plays of Chapman and Jonson are to Vere, and sometimes Shaksper, as the servant of the Queen or Muse. In the Widow’s Tears, the governor asks the gentleman usher if he was born in the city. Argus answers; “Ay, an’t please your honour, but begot i’th’ Court.” Shake-speare was begot in the court of Elizabeth the first, on 26 June 1586.

If I may borrow a line from Rambler…

Thank you very much for reading.

November 19, 2014   3 Comments