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Spektrum Shake-speare

Schule und Unterricht 132 take more in hand than I have, or can promise, for always I have and I will still prefer mine own content before others.» B. M. Ward and Conyers Read have transcribed it this way.16 It is more appropriately written with genitive apost- rophe: «for always I have and I will still prefer mine own content before others’,» that is, «I’ll do what contents me and not what contents others». Or: if what seems good to me but what others look askance at and think bad, I’ll nevertheless do what in my view is right. In lines 3 and 4 of Sonnet 121 Shakespeare expresses the same determina- tion: «Others’ seeing» are the «men’s eyes» of the opening line of Sonnet 29. Then, in the letter of 30 October 1584: «My lord, this other day your man17 Stainner told me that you sent for Amis my man, and if he were absent that Lyly should come unto you. I sent Amis for he was in the way. And I think very strange that your Lordship should enter into that course towards me, whereby I must learn that I knew not before, both of your opinion and good will towards me. But I pray, my Lord, leave that course, for I mean not to be your ward nor your child, I serve Her Majesty, and I am that I am, and by alliance near to your lordship, but free, and scorn to be offered that injury, to think I am so weak of government as to be ruled by servants, or not able to govern myself.» Oxford was then financially engaged in the theatre. He had leased the Blackfriars theatre in 1583 and released it to John Lyly. «Sportive blood» in line 6 of the Sonnet may refer to that. Probably it was for this reason Burgh- ley had sent for Lyly. If not a perfect one, the correspondence between Oxford and Burghley between 1575 and 1584 offers a close match with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 121. And, hence, provides an excellent background for it. An autobiographical background! 16 Ward, B. M., The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford 1550–1604, London: John Murray, 1928, p. 126; Read, Conyers, Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth, Vol. II, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960, p. 137. Alan Nelson so renders it on his website; it is not mentioned in Monstrous Adversary. 17 My man = my servant.