circumstance which makes this passage from the comic under-plot of Caesar such an astonishing artistic
parable of the author "Shakespeare."
As a talented musician whose actors, like Hamlet's own, ran afoul of political powers apparently
offended by jokes like the one in which Lord Burghley is compared by Hamlet to Jeptha, Edward de Vere
appears to have had a "David complex. For him as for other Renaissance thinkers, the figure of David
exerted a magnetic influence. Just as he had done for Calvin, David set a moral precedent for de Vere,
whose disciplined leadership and devotion to art earned the approval of God-the-father. De Vere's
underlining of verses recording David's attempts to soothe Saul's troubled spirit by musical magic, and
those in which he "danced before the Lord" (II Samuel 6.14), indicate his perception of David as the
figure of Christ-Orpheus, the holy songwriter and fool who became King of Christ's nation.
From his reading of Calvin's preface to the Psalms --
of which Arthur Golding's 1571 English
translation was dedicated to him (Chiljan 1994 13)-- de Vere would have taken to heart the ideal of David
as his model for the true Christian vocation of the imitation of the savior. In David's story he could
"beholde as it were in a Glasse, bothe the beginnings of my vocation, and also the continuall race of my
ministerie .whatsoever that most excellent king and Prophet endured, was sette foorth to mee for my
instruction (*vii verso). Like Calvin, he was one for whom "David shewed the way by his own
footsteps" and he "found not small comforte thereby (**i recto).
Numerous parallels, noted in de Vere's annotations of the books of Samuel, would have reinforced
this identification in his mind. Like David, de Vere was married to the daughter of a powerful political
antagonist. Like David, he was a contender for political power who was also compelled by a higher sense
of morality, which frequently brought him into dramatic conflict with his compeers in the court. Like
and like so many of the central figures of the Shakespeare canon, from Hamlet to Jacques or
Feste -- he was a musician and an artist, a court jester who applied his artistic talents to "through and
through cleanse the foul infected body of the world" (AYLI 2.7.60). And, like David's pagan counterpart
who is -- as Dr. Bate kindly reminds us -- "always the figure of the poet, he lived in fear and trembling
that he too would be torn to bits by a rampaging mob which confused him with a mere conspirator.
Hence he acquiesced to a bitter necessity: before his jokes could be published he, like Jacques, must be
"invested in motley" and his name transformed into a cipher. This may have made him a "conspirator --
but at least it protected him, ironically, from the fate of Orpheus.