Smother'd in Surmise
— Edward de Vere — Thirteen

eleven plus two equals twelve plus one – numerically and anagrammatically

To be or not to be: that is the question, whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
an anagram of
In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten. attributed to Cory Colhoun (unknown to Drystone)

A witty pun on the name:

Jonathan Bond draws our attention to to his observation that the words in the dedication OVR EVER-LIVING is an "almost exact" anagram of the de Vere motto "vero nil verius." (JB56) Bond explains that the "anagram is only exact" if the G in EVER-LIVING is replaced by an S (and the usual flexibility of u interchanging with v is maintained).  The difficulty with the inexactness is resolved, Bond explains, because a script S is similar to a script G and this resolution is a witticism of de Vere's.  (Apparently a script S is also similar to a script H as this ambiguity is used by some commentators to replace "Mr W. H." with "Mr W. S."  It logically follows, I guess, that a script G is similar to a script H – as usual in the alternative authorship field there is a lot of scope for selective conjecture.)

Jonathan Bond in his Resolution chapter paints a Rembrandt styled scene of de Vere 'stumped for a way to end the innocent message' (that is, he needs to choose the last word in the dedication – FORTH) suddenly lighting 'on the "forth/Vierde" pun in the dark hours of the night, when mulling over a letter from his cousin Francis.' (JB95) If we refer to Bond's Revelations chapter we note that de Vere was facing a bigger challenge than finding a single word with pun connotations.  The word had to have 5 letters to total the characters in the dedication to 144, it had to have OR as the second and third letters to satisfy the ROSIE LIP and ... NOT HERE TRIE decryptions and it had to have some grammatical consistency with the rest of the message.  In addition it had to sensibly fit with the sequence THESE SONNETS ALL BY EVER THE *OR**. (JB46-54) The resolution is a multilevel pun:

We start with the original script "THE FORTH" which is phonetically equivalent to "the fourth."  This translates to "de vierde" in Dutch.  An anagram of "de vierde" is "ed de vier" and "de vier" phonetically matches "de vere."(JB52,3)

Since we have already learnt that we should read "EVER" as E Ver then Bond's final version of the message (though he does not present it intact) is:  "These sonnets all by E Ver Ed de Vier."

As an aside Drystone notes that "vere died" is an absolutely ;-) exact anagram of "de vierde."  Perhaps this decoding is a message drawing attention to the fact that de Vere had died some 4 years before the publication of the dedication.

If the reader is having a problem absorbing these convolutions, she/he must remember, as Bond explains, that de Vere is enjoying himself.  "It is a witty pun on the name – rather than a desperate attempt to communicate to posterity." (JB53)

The reader might be excused for believing Bond has more wit than de Vere.  Also we are left with the problem, not unusual with the alternative authorship question, what was the supposed author hiding from whom and why?

Psalm 46, the Shakespeare psalm, (by way of a diversion ;-)

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.  Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow,
    and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.  Selah.


Psalm 46 (King James Authorised Version), counting 46 words forward from the beginning, we find "shake", and counting 46 words back from the end, we find "spear".


The final Selah (and if you like, the other two) is to be ignored in the count.  Selah is "supposed to be a musical direction" (COD) and not part of the wording.

Origin - Gabriel Roth (unknown to Drystone) publishes:

The connection between Shakespeare and Psalm 46 is well known, and should not be regarded as some secret insertion by William.  There was an article about it in "The Times" of London about 40 years ago.

It stated that the insertion of Shakespeare's name was a tribute to him, and a 46th birthday present, by some of the translators, who knew his work and might have known him personally.  Eight scholars, based in Cambridge, worked on the Psalms.  Shakespeare retired from London to Stratford in 1610.  The King James translation was published in 1611.


The deliberate insertion theory might even have some truth in it, else we face the improbability of someone accidentally coming across a remarkable coincidence – but after all, who knows?  There is, of course, no shortage of conjecture about the topic on the web.

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Mal Haysom    initial posting 22/06/2011     last update March 17, 2014