Friday, May 13, 2016


Gabriel Harvey’s  Own Version of:
“The Importance of Being Earnest:
A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”
In 6 Lines of Marginalia

© E. Le Roy Miller, May 12, 2016

abriel Harvey, was a prominent Lecturer at Cambridge, a writer, an intimate friend of one of England’s greatest credited poets, Edmund Spenser. Harvey, who has many claims to fame or infamy, wrote in his copy of Chaucer, 1598, numerous marginalia notes (for which he is famous on that count alone). He was involved with many controversies and was an extraordinary “character” in his own right—having been involved in many imbroglios involving famous writers of his time, and, as I document, he once worked for Lord Oxford. He was so positioned and privileged to know that Lord Oxford was “Shakespeare.”  In his marginalia notes he commented on various literary figures, critiques and analysis of myriad matters, mostly literary, philosophical, and political.  He was, in fact, sometimes intimately knowledgeable of Lord Oxford’s comings and goings —so to speak. [At the end of the article are photocopies of original text by Harvey quoted below]

One of Harvey’s notes, destined I dare say, to soon become famous, in the Chaucer book, is featured below:

“The younger sort takes much delight in Shakespeares
Venus, & Adonis : but his Lucrece, & his tragedie of
Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, haue it in them, to please
the wiser sort. Or such poets: or better: or none.
Vilia Miretur Vulgus : Mihi Flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalioe Plena Ministret Aquoe:
quoth Sir Edward Dier, betwene jest, & earnest.”
[extra space added to the quote, and italic and initial capitalization of words added for ease, nothing else changed]

The above, from Gabriel Harvey’s Marginalia, by Smith, as said, is believed to have been written by Harvey in a copy of a new edition of Chaucer, in 1598, the year of its publication. Harvey’s marginalia is, therefore, thought to be the date of the entry of Harvey’s confirmed note, in his secretarial style. At the outset, it needs be noted, there is no dispositive evidence, at all, for the proposition, however, that Harvey actually wrote his remarks in that year, i.e., 1598—it may well have been a number of years later. This writer believes the notes were written probably a few years later. In any case, first, it must be noted that the quotation by Harvey is “doctored” by him, by virtue of his inserting a Cipher code in the quoted material which is not in the “original” text of Shakespeare's use of the above given epigram quotation, by Ovid, for Venus and Adonis.

Now, it must be noted at the outset, that the spelling of the two words (Castilioe and aguoe) in the quoted passage, is unique, invented, and gives us words which do not exist, in any language—certainly not Latin, of which Harvey Gabriel was an acknowledged master, who lectured at Cambridge University in Latin. The reader will readily see the two words which end in the cipher code = “OE” or lower case “oe.”  Thus, there can be no doubt at all that the cipher words were intended.

Below is Harvey’s “version” of the epigram to Shakespeare’s  Venus & Adonis [I note here, that the Latin spelling of “Adonis” is Adone, or AdOnE, itself containing the Cipher code—but this does not play an obvious role in the specific ciphers defined. The quote, as said, is from Ovid, but modified by said two words (“Castalioe” and “aquoe”), thus:

Vilia miretur vulgus : mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalioe plena ministret aquoe:

Literal Google Translation of Harvey’s cipher spelling, bolded:

Vilia, marvel at the common people: for me may golden Apollo
 Castalioe cups full minister aquos:

Harvey’s Humor: In Jesting Earnest!

Obviously, the “oe” endings on Castilia and aqua are not grammatical and make no sense in any language—but we may ask:  is there anything in it “between jest and earnest”? –as Harvey declared to be the case. And, if there is, somehow or other, a joke or something serious [“serio” is another alternate word for “aquoe],” as said—what in the world could it be?

Harvey’s AQUOE, for AQUA

A Google alternate word suggestion for Harvey’’s “aquoe” is “aquos”—for which an alternate word is “aquos” which means “earnest.” [another Latin term for aquos is serio, as in “serious”]

Coincidence? That the very word of Harvey’s known-to-be-misspelled word “aqua” (originally” modified by Harvey to “aquoe”)—exactly fulfills the condition of the second part of his remark, i.e., that Harvey said Dier’s remark, obviously by his misquotation, which was between “jest and earnest.” What in the world could that mean? Let us look again at the text segregating “Dier’s quote” from the actual quote from Ovid, and showing the translation of Harvey’s misquoted passage (implicitly suggesting that Dier intentionally made his “jest” and “earnest” statement.

Harvey’s “quoting” Sir Edward Dier’s quote 
of the  epigram for Venus & Adonis

Vilia miretur vulgus : mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalioe plena ministret aquoe

Original Text of Ovid used as epigram for Venus & Adonis

Vilia miretur vulgus : mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua

Literal Google Translations of Harvey’s distorted text -Google
(from Latin to English):

Vilia, marvel at the common people: for me may golden Apollo,
Castalioe cups full minister aquos: 
[an alternate word for “ aquos”given by Google is “earnest.”]

I would have the reader also note that, the cipher words are in the correct order as well, for as said, between “jest and earnest”—we have “jest first” then “earnest”—and that is exactly as Harvey made it, first the one, then the other. The jest is first, what jest could there be in a single word? It depends on how it’s spelled, Harvey would reply.

Literal Google Translation of Ovid’s original:

Vilia, marvel at the common people: for me may golden Apollo,
Castalia minister full cups water.

Smith’s  “standard” translation, used by most, if not all scholars, as said provides transcription of all of Harvey’s script writing, commentary, etc.  Nonetheless, this writer believes there are grounds for challenging use “oe” for both transcriptions. The reader can see what looks like aquae.

Here we would note that the “aqua” (water) being spoken of, is the water from the springs of Castilia—a ravine located near Apollo’s Temple, some miles away, the God of pOEtry’s springs!

Probably, the reason for NOT choosing to transcribe the handwritten word with an “ae” ending, instead of Harvey’s invented “oe” ending for “aquoe,” is because, though it is the wrong word from what Ovid wrote, and we are dealing with his original text, the word aquae is a Latin word, it gives the plural of “water”—which of course, is not in the original quotation. It is clear, to me, and Smith, also, obviously, that Castalioe is clearly intended—though Smith must have known there were problems with this, he made no mention of it, that I have found. The reader may need to note that the “g” letter’s descending open loop, cuts through the tail end of the word, at “e” and preceding it with an “o”.


With that in mind, we need a little humor, a “jest” if you will.  In the present case the jest, curiously, is in the earnestness. Here’s how: Apollo is the God of PoeTRY, and nearby his temple is Apollo’s famous springs of the Castilia. Wikipedia gives the following:
Finally Roman poets regarded it as a source of poetic inspiration. According to some mythological versions it was here that Apollo killed the monster,Python, who was guarding the spring, and that is why it was considered to be sacred. . .The Castalian Spring became a type for a well of poetic inspiration, partly by confusing it with the Spring of Pieris. The Castalian Band, a group of poets or makars associated with the Court of James VI of Scotland (including the king himself) drew their name from this source.

In my interpretation, I take Harvey’s (or Dier’s, if Dier really did write or say the quote from Ovid as given by Harvey) the “jest” is—in relationship to “Shakespeare”—which is what the whole passage is about—that Shakespeare thinks himself to be the consummate poet, one who is himself, in persona, a living incarnation of that poet spirit. And that it the jest—that Shakespeare was so intoxicated with himself he could so conceive himself to be the reincarnation of the God of Poetry—which, of course, is what the whole story about the Phoenix is about. Conceit could not stretch further—it appears to be humorously the point. Indeed, the issue of conceit is virtually forever tied to Shakespeare and the quotation from Ovid, as Marlowe, interpreted what Harvey is suggesting, in about the same year, 1598, when he translated the same passage—apparently about the exact time that Harvey got the new book of Chaucer, thusly:

Let base conceited wits admire vile things
Fair Phoebus lead me by the Muses springs.


Obviously, it would seem, the Fair Phoebus is the leader, who takes poets to the “Muses springs.” I have elsewhere dealt with Marlowe choice of substituting what Ovid wrote, “Apollo” for his own Shakespeare/Oxford term which has Shakespeare’s cipher name in it, OE. It is the view of this writer that Marlowe was aware of the fact—and like Harvey, divulges it, cryptographically—by changing the name of the god from Apollo, to one with EO in it Phoenix, or Phoebus, being key personifications of the cipher. So, it appears, virtually about the same time, Harvey and Marlow, let the cat-out-of-the-bag—in writing, as it is virtually certain many others also knew Lord Oxford was Shakespeare.


I’ve provided here, the central issue of the Harvey and Marlowe ciphers, indicating the person being referred to is Lord Oxford AKA “Shakespeare.” It is further my view, based on long research and scholarship, and articles written on the matter, that others besides Harvey and Marlowe knew Lord Oxford was Shakespeare—and one of those most knowledgeable about the matter is, probably, Gabriel Harvey.

Quod Erat Demonstratum

E. Le Roy Miller, May 14, 2016