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The Fourth Usher

The fourth gentleman usher reference to consider is a passing reference  in Chapman’s Monsieur D’Olive. D’Olive is a play that, in my opinion, contains quite a bit of important clues and information to the Authorship Question. I am not going to discuss the allegories I think are here. But some discussion of both the timing of the play existence, and various snippets of D’Olive that allude to Vere will be worthwhile before presenting the gentleman usher reference.

The eponymous hero of the play, D’Olive, is very much a portrayal of Vere. But the play is also a portrayal of events in 1605 surrounding the earl of Nottingham’s ambassage. Like so much Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, there are multiple signposts that allow for plausible deniability should the censors come calling.

In The Focus of Satire and the Date of Monsieur D’Olive, (Studies in Eng Lit – Vol 17#2) Albert Tricomi argues that D’Olive was written in January 1605. Tricomi argues that parallels to a speech by D’Olive to Hendy V’s St. Crispin’s day speech place the work at the time of the Henry V revival at court in early 1605. This idea fits a larger, potential Oxfordian hypothesis of D’Olive as Chapman’s homage to Vere who passed away the previous June.  Here’s Tricomi’s conclusion.

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Let’s examine some Vere allusions and signposts in D’Olive.


Of course, Rambler’s Shake-speare Quarterly blog has led the way with D’Olive. This link will bring up the 24 entries where Rambler mentions the play. Rambler noted that D’Olive is an anagram for O Devil. Prior to his entrance, Mugeron exclaims, “Fie o’ the Devil! Who will not Envy slander?” (NV = Ned Vere)


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Late in the play, D’Olive’s legs are called “tressels” the allusion that Rambler has documented extensively, based on Vere’s grandmother’s name, Trussel. In that scene above, he is also ‘invisible’ – concealed with a metaphorical Gyges ring, which is similar to the Helmet of Pluto discussed on this blog here, that’s been linked to Vere.  The invisibilty property is linked with the devil – hic et ubique.


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D’Olive will lend you crowns with only your sonnet for bond – i.e. He’s a patron of  letters, as was Vere. He’s also an impudent upstart, and the compound of a poet and a lawyer. Shak-scene in Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit was an upstart. Shakespeare’s knowledge of the law is well-documented.


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“How is it he liv’d conceal’d so long? “ the duke asks of D’Olive.   Again, we encounter a concealed and invisible man. “His mind is his kingdom” we are told, evocative of Vere’s poem; My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is. 

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D’Olive would “pawn mine honour For some odd thousand crowns,” if you think that Vere sold his name for a thousand pounds a year, then we have an allusion to that right here.


He doesn’t pay his debts.  That’s our guy!

We now come to the mention of the gentleman usher. D’Olive has been assembling followers for his ambassage. There are many who are signing up to seek their fortune with him. It can be interpretated that perhaps he has so many potential followers because a previous follower became wealthy in his service. That’s just a suggestion from me. But for all the men who want to be in his employ, he has no gentleman usher.


Apparently, the qualification of gentleman usher for D’Olive requires “wit.” It sounds more like poet.

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1 comment

1 jimbo in limbo { 11.04.14 at 1:41 am }

D’Olive = De Ver (green)?

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