In the first of his five Danvers Escheat letters written to Robert Cecil during the period
October 7 1601-March 22 1602, Oxford thanks his brother-in-law for his previous legal
intercession in the case. He promises that if Cecil can usher his case past the Queen's desk to
obtain the approval of Francis Bacon and Sergeant Harris, he will remain forever in his debt:
Which being done, I know to whom formally to thank, but really they shall be, and are from
me, and mine, sealed up in an eternal remembrance to yourself.
This allusion to "sealing up" his thanks in an "eternal remembrance" is one of those many
statements in Oxford's extant correspondence which begs for close examination by a student of
phenomenological "thick description. The language evidently invokes Biblical precedent; in
both Old and New Testaments, the verb "to seal" (
) frequently occurs invested with
the same apocalyptic penumbra as it carries in Oxford's letter, as in the Book of Daniel:
thou, o Daniel, shut up the dores, and seale the boke til the end of ye time
In the physical sense, sealing was the action of impressing a design engraved in metal or
other hard substance onto a molten wax surface used to hold shut two leaves of a folded paper. In
metaphorical extension of this sense, the Sonnet writer transforms the seal into a printer's
typeface, complaining to the fair youth that nature "has carved thee for her seal/and meant
thereby/Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die (11.13: italics added).
Cognitively, however, in both the ancient world of the Biblical writers and in de Vere's Tudor
England "to seal" implied not one, but two actions. The first action was one of completion. To
"seal" a writing with a signet ring signaled the telos of the writer's act of composition; the seal
attested to the completeness and authenticity of a document. It was the writer's last action before
Not marked in the de Vere Bible.