I overtook, coming from Italy,
In Germany, a great and famous earl
Of England, the most goodly-fashioned man
I ever saw; from head to foot in form
Rare and most absolute; he had a face
Like one of the most ancient honored Romans,
From whence his noblest family was derived;
He was beside of spirit passing great,
Valiant, and learned, and liberal as the sun,
Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
Or of the discipline of public weals;
And ’twas the Earl of Oxford; and being offered
At that time, by Duke Casimir, the view
Of his right royal army then in field,
Refused it, and no foot was moved to stir
Out of his own free fore-determined course:
I, wondering at it, asked for it his reason,
It being an offer so much for his honor.
He, all acknowledging, said ’twas not fit
To take those honors that one cannot quit.
Revenge of Bussy D’Ambois, Act III, Scene 4 – 84-103
[Oxford is mentioned in the concluding paragraph on page 95 in chapter 10, “Of Poetrie,” but there is no mention of Shakespeare.]
In the time of our late Queene Elizabeth, which was truly a golden Age (for such a world of refined wits, and excellent spirits it produced, whose like are hardly to be hoped for, in any succeeding Age) agoue others, who honoured Poesie with their pennes and practise (to omit her Maiestie, who had a singular gift herein) were Edward Earle of Oxford, the Lord Buckhurst, Henry Lord Paget; our Phoenix, the noble Sir Philip Sidney, M. Edward Dyer, M. Edmund Spencer, M. Samuel Daniel, with sundry others; whom (together with those admirable wits, yet liuing, and so well knowne) not out of Enuie, but to auoide tediousnesse I ouerpasse. Thus much of Poetrie.
1624: Praise of Oxford in Gervase Markham‘s Honour in his Perfection.
“And what is the most memorablest and glorious sun which ever gave light or shine to Nobility? Our Veres, from the first hour of Caesar to this present day of King James (which is above a thousand seven hundred years ago) never let their feet slip from the path of nobility, never knew a true eclipse of glory, never found declination from virtue, never forsook their country being wounded, or their lawful King distressed, never were attainted, never blemished, but in the purity of their garments…lived, governed, and died, leaving the memory thereof on their monuments, and in the people’s hearts; and the imitation to all the Princes of the World, that either would be accounted good men or would have good men to speak good things of their actions.”
[from The Mysterious William Shakespeare]
“…this nobleman breakes off his Gyves; and both in Italie, France, and other Nations, did more honour to this Kingdome then all that have travelled since he tooke his journey to heaven. It were infinite to speake of his infinite expence, the infinite numbers of his attendants, or the infinite house he kept to feede all people…that he was upright and honest in all his dealings the few debts left behind him to clog his survivors were safe pledges…the almes he gave (which at this day would not only feede the poore, but the great man’s family also) and the bounty which Religion and Learning daily tooke from him, are Trumpets so loude, that all eares know them; so that I conclude, and say of him, as the ever memorable Queene Elizabeth said of Sir Charles Blount…that he was Honestus, Pietas, and Magnanimus.”
[from This Star of England]
“…an excellent poet and Comedian as several matters of his composition, which were made public, did shew, which I presume are now lost or worn out.”
[Thanks to Peter Dickson.]
Tiptoft and Rivers set the example of bringing light from other countries, and patronized the art of printing, Caxton. The Earls of Oxford and Dorset struck out new lights for Drama, without making the multitude laugh or weep at ridiculous representations of Scripture. To the former we owe Printing, to the two latter Taste—what do we not owe perhaps to the last of the four our historic plays are allowed to have been found on the heroic narratives in the Mirrours for Magistrates; to that plan, and to the boldness of Lord Buckhurst’s new scenes perhaps we owe Shakespeare. Such debt to these four Lords, the probability of the last obligation, as sufficient to justify a Catalogue of Noble Authors.
[Thanks to Peter Dickson.]
Vere Edward, earl of Oxford, the 14th [sic] of his surname and family, is the author of several poems printed in “The Paradise of Daintie Devices,” 1576, etc. and in “Englands Helicon.” One piece, by this nobleman, may be found in “The Phoenix nest,” 1592, another is subjoin’d to “Astrophel & Stella,” 1591, and another to “Brittons Bowre of Delights,” 1597 (selected by mister Ellis). Some lines of his are, also, prefix’d to “Cardanuses Comforte,”1573. All or most of his compositions are distinguished by the signature E.O. He dye’d in 1604; and was bury’d at Hackney (not as Wood says, at Earls-Colne in Essex). Webbe and Puttenham applaud his attainments in poesy: Meres ranks him with the “best for comedy.” Several specimens of Oxford’s poetry occur in Englands Parnasus, 1600, in the posthumous edition of Lord Oxford’s works, Vol. 1. two poems, by the Earl of Oxford, are given from an ancient MS. miscellany: but the possessor is not pointed out. One of these is reprinted by mister Ellis.
[Thanks to Peter Dickson.]