The article by Freda Rees on Shakespeare's roots in the Faith contains much that is interesting and not generally known. though it still leaves us with little more real knowledge of the poet than we had before.
The paucity of facts of his life. both before and after leaving Stratford has worried his biographers for at least two centuries, and I have recently been lent a book which was planned as a sort of rearguard action by which to tap hitherto untapped sources of information.
This was a monumental study by Mrs. Carmichael Slopes of the life of the Third Earl of Southampton -always described as the patron of Shakespeare.
Having regard to the dedication of " Luerece" and " Venus and Adonis" by William Shakespeare to the Earl of Southampton she reasoned that research into the latter's life. which is very fully documented. must of necessity yield fresh facts of their acquaintance. She says in her preface: "I must confess that I did not start this work for his sake (Southampton's) but in the hope that I might find out more about Shakespeare, which hope has not
Like Freda Rees it seemed to her that Shakespeare must have met at this nobleman's house not only the leading figures of the Essex and Gunpowder plots. but the poet-priest, Robert Southwell, who dedicated a volume of his poems before his torture and death "to my worthy cousin Master W. S." but the most exacting research lasting three years, and eventually causing the loss of sight of the authoress revealed not a partick of documentary evidence that that William Shakespeare of Stratford, and Southampton ever met. It can however he agreed that Shakespeare was imbued with Catholic doctrine, although scepticism seems to darken that period of his life when the sonnets were written:
" That time of year thou may'st in me behold When yellow leaves, or none. or few do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang."
(Sonnet LXX11.) Winifred Walshe.