Shakespeare Cross-Examination: A Compilation of Articles First Appearing in the American Bar Association Journal

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The Case for the Defense: De Vere et al. v. Shakespeare

by William W. Clary

EVERY LOVER OF " Shakespeare" must wish that he knew the full story of the life of this great literary genius. The skimpy and prosaic records of the Stratford man, as outlined by Mr. Richard Bentley, leave one cold. And it is not strange that many thoughtful persons have doubted whether such a man could have been the real Shakespeare. Certainly there is no impropriety in expressing these doubts, as Mr. Bentley has done in a clear and interesting manner.

But Mr. Bentley says that it is in part a question of evidence for lawyers. And he has given a summation of the "evidence" on the basis of which he asks the "jury" to retire and consider its verdict. Now if the question is to be decided on the basis of legal evidence, and if I were attorney for the Stratford man, I should think it my duty to challenge Mr. Bentley's statement that "There is admittedly no direct proof of the authorship."

I am not quite sure what Mr. Bentley means by "direct proof". All the eyewitnesses are dead so the only kind of evidence possible is written or documentary evidence. I should think documentary evidence, properly authenticated, given by persons so situated as to have knowledge of the facts, would be direct proof. I believe there is such evidence and that it does prove that my client was the real Shakespeare. This evidence is found in Shakespeare's will, which Mr. Bentley quotes in another connection, and in the First Folio.

The crucial clause of the will which enables us to identify the Stratford

-25-

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