Saturday, March 18, 2017

Shakespeare's Beautiful Monsters

It seems to me that the extraordinary range and power of the imagination of Edward de Vere came to be viewed as potentially disruptive. The wonder and astonishment created in a reader by a beautifully expressed thought or a particularly brilliant metaphor could be viewed as an illicit force – its enchanting effects obtained by abuses of language.Ornament and pleasure were legitimate ends for some courtiers - but as political winds changed so did literary fashions - and aristocratic extravagances were refigured as excesses and Error.

Many of the posts in this blog have been collections of evidence that Ben Jonson identified ‘Shakespeare’ as an unrepentant and incorrigible/unreformable writer of ‘MONSTROUS TEXTS’ – (with Jonson crowning his castigations of Shakespeare with the ‘seeming’ praise of the monstrous encomium that appears at the front of the First Folio):

Jonson P R O L O G U E. Every Man In His Humour

Thou Need make many Poets, and some such
As Art and Nature have not better'd much;
Yet ours, for want, hath not so lov'd the Stage,
As he dare serve th'ill Customs of the Age,
Or purchase your delight at such a rate,
As, for it, he himself must justly hate:
To make a child now swadled, to proceed
Man, and then shoot up in one beard and weed,
Past threescore years: or, with three rusty swords,
And help of some few foot-and-half-foot words,
Fight over 
York, and Lancasters long jars,
And in the Tyring house bring wounds to scars.
He rather prays, you will be pleas'd to see
One such to day, as other plays should be;
Where neither 
Chorus wafts you o're the seas,
Nor creaking Throne comes down, the boys to please;
Nor nimble Squib is seen, to make afeard
The Gentlewomen; nor roul'd Bullet heard
To say, it Thunders; nor tempestuous Drum
Rumbles, to tell you when the Storm doth come;
But Deeds, and Language, such as men do use:
And Persons, such as 
Comœdy would chuse,
When she would shew an Image of the Times,
And sport with Humane Follies, not with Crimes.
Except, we make 'em such by loving still
Our popular Errors, when we know th' are ill.
I mean such Errors as you'll all confess
By laughing at them, they deserve no less:
Which when you heartily do, there's hope left, then,
You, that have so grac'd MONSTERS, may like Men.



Hobbes's sense of his place in cultural history is key to understanding the character and the contradictions of Leviathan. Early and late in his long writing career, he represents his philosophical life as a battle against MONSTROUS TEXTS. De Cive's "Preface to the Reader" narrates a Hobbesian myth of the fall, in which a golden age of power and authority enjoyed by sovereigns is destroyed by the "disputations" of private men. 1 To illustrate his point, Hobbes cites the classical fable of Ixion's adulterous courtship of Juno: "Offering to embrace her, he clasped a cloud; from whence the Centaurs proceeded, by nature half men, half horses, a fierce, a fighting, and unquiet generation" (2:xiii). His allegorization of the fable is Baconian both in its method -- its derivation of philosophical truths from mythology -- and in its attribution of the origins of political sedition to seditious language and seditious desires: "private men being called to councils of state, desired to prostitute justice, the only sister and wife of the supreme, to their own judgments and apprehensions; but embracing a false and empty shadow instead of it, they have begotten those hermaphrodite opinions of moral philosophers, partly right and comely, partly brutal and wild"
Hobbes is fond of metaphors of the monstrous, and his employment of them, especially in crucial accounts of his own vocational ambitions, is recurrent and revealing. His claim to having spent a career battling the metaphorical monsters of false systems of knowledge complements his lifelong attacks, I will argue, against the monsters of metaphor. Viewed from a broad historical perspective, Hobbes's attack stands as one characteristic, albeit especially fierce, expression of hostility to metaphor on the part of the seventeenth century's new philosophers. Monsters, as marvels of nature, have their verbal counterparts in metaphors, the marvels of speech. As Paul de Man argues, within metaphors, as inside the most violent catachreses, "something monstrous lurks."  (The very word catachresis means an "abuse" of language.) Metaphors can appear dangerous, even monstrous, because "they are capable of inventing the most fantastic entities by dint of the positional power inherent in language. They can dismember the texture of reality and reassemble it in the most capricious of ways, pairing man with woman or human being with beast in the most unnatural shapes."  As a consequence, de Man argues, metaphor has been "a perennial problem and, at times, a recognized source of embarrassment for philosophical discourse." 6 That embarrassment becomes especially acute during the seventeenth century because of metaphor's association with subjective imagination, passion, and the monstrous, with all that contrasts with objective judgment, reason, and the natural. As a result, the opposition between the literal and the figural underlies many of the crucial polarities of the century's discourse: the divide between truth and falsehood, natural philosophy and poetry, philosophical discourse and rhetoric, to name only a few. 7 Especially in the civil war years, a hostility to metaphor becomes acute, too, because as a monstrous rebel to linguistic law, metaphor is associated with the monstrous rebels of mob rule. To attack metaphor is to attack the monstrous mother of all seditious philosophies, and a monstrous breeder of sedition itself.


One of the great paradoxes of the seventeenth-century intellectual tradition, and part of the strangeness of Hobbes's title, is that a book setting out so mathematically to destroy metaphorical language should present itself as an extended trope, a Leviathan. At every stage of its [End Page 795] argument, from the description of the commonwealth as a body to the account of the Roman Church as a kingdom of faeries, Hobbes relies heavily upon figurative language to advance his arguments. The contradiction between Hobbes's theory and his practice offers one of the text's primary and peculiar challenges. There can be no doubt about the existence of the contradiction. Within the tradition of the seventeenth-century's new philosophies, his condemnation of metaphor is among the most uncompromising. For Hobbes, metaphors and other "senseless and ambiguous words," are mere ignes fatui proceeding from the errancy of impassioned imagination (3:37). Note the materialist's pun: words that do not adequately cohere with things are "sense-less." To reason upon metaphors "is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities; and their end, contention and sedition, or contempt" (3:37). Verbal chaos leads to cultural chaos. (The association of metaphor with natural marvels, ignes fatui, is telling and characteristic.) Among the four kinds of language abuse, Hobbes gives metaphors a primary place, describing them as words used "in other sense than that they are ordained for; and thereby deceive others" (3:20). Deceit and equivocation are main themes in his opposition. Counsellors to the sovereign are forbidden to employ tropes because they "are useful only to deceive, or to lead him we counsel towards other ends than his own" (3:246). In matters of demonstration, counsel, and "all rigorous search of truth," Hobbes admits that "sometimes the understanding have need to be opened by some apt similitude.... But for metaphors, they are in this case utterly excluded" (3:58-59). The same judgment appears in his statement that "in reckoning, and seeking of truth, such speeches ['the use of metaphors, tropes, and other rhetorical figures, instead of words proper'] are not to be admitted" (3:34). At the end of an early chapter on speech, Hobbes deems "metaphors, and tropes of speech... less dangerous" forms of "ratiocination" than morally charged signifiers such as gravity and stupidity, but he does so only "because they profess their inconstancy; which the other do not" (3:29). The dismissal of metaphor from the rigorous search for truth (and certainly the Leviathan is that) is absolute and unqualified.

Shakespeare – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

…..Let me, then,…submit this question to minds emancipated alike from national, or party , or sectarian prejudice: - Are the plays of Shakespeare works of rude uncultivated genius, in which the splendour of the parts compensates, if aught can compensate, for the barbarous shapelessness and irregularity of the whole? (note – see Disproportionate Droeshout Figure NLD) – Or is the form equally admirable with the matter, and the judgment of the great poet not less deserving our wonder than his genius? – Or, again, to repeat the question in other words: - is Shakespeare a great dramatic poet on account only of those beauties and excellences which he possesses in common with the ancients, but with diminished claims to our love and honour to the full extent of his differences from them? – Or are these very differences additional proofs of poetic wisdom, at once results and symbols of living power as contrasted with lifeless mechanism – of free and rival originality as contradistinguished from servile imitation, or, more accurately, a blind copying of effects, instead of a true imitation of the essential principles? – Imagine not that I am about to oppose genius to rules. No! The comparative value of these rules is the very cause to be tried. The spirit of poetry, like all other living powers, must of necessity circumscribe itself by rules, were it only to unite power with beauty. It must embody in order to reveal itself; but a living body is of necessity an organized one: and what is organization but the connection of parts in and for a whole, so that each part is at once end and means? – This is no discovery of criticism; - it is a necessity of the human mind; and all nations have felt and obeyed it, in the invention of metre, and measured sounds, as the vehicle and involucrum of poetry – itself a fellow-growth from the same life, - even as the bark is to the tree!
     No work of true genius dares want its appropriate form, neither indeed is there any danger of this. As it must not, so genius cannot, be lawless; for it is even this that constitutes is genius – the power of acting creatively under laws of its own origination. How then comes it that not only single Zoili, but whole nations have combined in unhesitating condemnation of our great dramatist, as a sort of African nature, rich in BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS – as a wild heath where islands of fertility look the greener from the surrounding waste, where the loveliest plants now shine out among unsightly weeds, and now are choked by their parasitic growth, so intertwined that we cannot disentangle the weed without snapping the flower? – In this statement I have had no reference to the vulgar abuse of Voltaire, save as far as his charges are coincident with the decisions of Shakespeare’s own commentators and (so they would tell you) almost idolatrous admirers. The true ground of the mistake lies in the confounding mechanical regularity with organic form. The form is mechanic, when on any given material we impress a predetermined form, not necessarily arising out of the properties of the material; - as when to a mass of wet clay we give whatever shape we wish it to retain when hardened. The organic form, on the other hand is innate; it shapes, as it developes, itself from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. Such as the life is, such is the form. Nature, the prime genial artist, inexhaustible in diverse powers, is equally inexhaustible in forms; -  each exterior is the physiognomy of the being within, - its true image reflected and thrown out from the concave mirror; - and even such is the appropriate excellence of her chosen poet, of our own Shakespeare, - himself a nature humanized, a genial understanding directing self-consciously a power and an implicit wisdom deeper even than our consciousness.

 Jonson, Discoveries

Oratio imago animi. - Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see
thee. It springs out of the most retired and inmost parts of us, and
is the image of the parent of it, the MIND. No glass renders a man’s
form or likeness so true as his speech. Nay, it is likened to a man;
and as we consider feature and composition in a man, so words in
language; in the greatness, aptness, sound structure, and harmony of

Jonson, Cynthia's Revels

He that is with him is Amorphus
a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds
of forms, that himself is truly deform'd. He walks
most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his
he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-
haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of
Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus. (Jonson, Cynthia's Revels,

Amorphus. That's good, but how Pythagorical?

Phi. I, Amorphus. Why Pythagorical Breeches?

Amor. O most kindly of all, 'tis a conceit of that FORTUNE,

I am bold to hug my Brain for.

Pha. How is't, exquisite Amorphus?

Amor. O, I am rapt with it, 'tis so fit, so proper,
so happy. --

Phi. Nay do not rack us thus?

Amor. I never truly relisht my self before. Give me
your Ears. Breeches Pythagorical, by reason of their trans-
migration into several shapes.

Mor. Most rare, in sweet troth.

He walks most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his Mouth: Amorphus/Oxford/Shakespeare

Cultural Aesthetics. Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornamen
Patricia Fumerton

     Trivial arts saturate this world [the world of the Renaissance aristocrat] with the pretty clutter of the fragmentary, peripheral, and ornamental. If the identity, the "self," of the aristocracy is to be located, it must be glimpsed here in this fantastic universe of discontinuous trivia, this gigantic miniature cabinet in which it is the artifacts that guide, regulate and control the way "selves" walk, stand, sit, eat, look, and all the other actions of life. It was the trivial aesthetics of these artifacts, I have argued, that composed the fractured mirror of ornament into which the Renaissance aristocracy looked to see its identity and into which we, struggling to repiece the pretty shards together in something like their original discontinuity (for the mirror was never whole), now peer to glimpse and even more removed version of that identity.
     Or again, for "fractured mirror of ornament" we might say"fractured mirror of history." As I have said in chapter 1 and implied throughout, the ornament that was the medium of the Renaissance self was also the medium of its experience of historical reality. The self lived historical reality in its experience of the fragmentary, peripheral , and ornamental. Cultural life was the practice of sustaining a fragile sense of identity amid decorative bits and pieces of reality that refused to cohere in a single reality, that voided identity even in the process of creating it. The history of self was the practice of social ornament. (p.172)


Nabokov, Bend Sinister, Intro

The term "bend sinister" means a heraldic bar or band drawn from the left side (and popularly, but incorrectly, supposed to denote bastardy). This choice of title was an attempt to suggest an outline broken by refraction, a distortion in the mirror of being, a wrong turn taken by life, a sinistral and sinister world. The title's drawback is that a solemn reader looking for "general ideas" or "human interest" (which is much the same thing) in a novel may be led to look for them in this one.



Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body's force,
Some in their garments though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure,
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
Of more delight than hawks and horses be;
And having thee, of all men's pride I boast:
   Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
   All this away, and me most wretched make.


Vladimir Nabokov:

Amid grandees of times Elizabethan
you shimmered too, you followed sumptuous custom;
the circle of ruff, the silv'ry satin that
encased your thigh, the wedgelike beard - in all of this
you were like other men... Thus was enfolded
your godlike thunder in a succinct cape.
Haughty, aloof from theatre's alarums,
you easily, regretlessly relinquished
the laurels twinning into a dry wreath,
concealing for all time your  MONSTROUS GENIUS
beneath a mask; and yet, your phantasm's echoes
still vibrate for us; your Venetian Moor,
his anguish; Falstaff's visage, like an udder
with pasted-on mustache; the raging Lear..
You are among us, you're alive; your name, though,
your image, too - deceiving, thus, the world
you have submerged in your beloved LETHE...

Correcting Shakespeare:

To the Deceased Author of these Poems...William Cartwright 

by Jasper Mayne

For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.
A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,
As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.
Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,
Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)


Cartwright, William, Jonsonus Virbius

...Blest life of Authors, unto whom we owe
Those that we have, and those that we want too:
Th'art all so good, that reading makes thee worse,
And to have writ so well's thine onely curse.
Secure then of thy merit, thou didst hate
That servile base dependance upon fate:
Successe thou ne'r thoughtst vertue, nor that fit,
Which chance, and th'ages fashion did make hit;
Excluding those from life in after-time, 
Who into Po'try first brought luck and rime: 
Who thought the peoples breath good ayre: sty'ld name 
What was but noise; and getting Briefes for fame 
Gathered the many's suffrages, and thence 
Made commendation a benevolence: 
THY thoughts were their owne Lawrell, and did win
That best applause of being crown'd within..


Excluding those from life in after-time – Cartwright to Jonson
IMO, Oxford’s beauties were buried under a load of figurative trash in the First Folio and by the 'virtuous' efforts of the Sidneians in Stratford.

Greville - Life of Sidney

Neither am I (for my part) so much in love with this life, nor believe so little in a better to come, as to complain of God for taking him [Sidney], and such like exorbitant WORTHYness from us: fit (as it were by an Ostracisme) to be divided, and not incorporated with our corruptions: yet for the sincere affection I bear to my Prince, and Country, my prayer to God is, that this WORTH, and Way may not fatally be buried with him; in respect, that both before his time, and since,experience hath published the usuall discipline of greatnes to have been tender of it self onely; making honour a triumph, or rather TROPHY of desire, set up in the eyes of Mankind, either to be worshiped as IDOLS, or else as Rebels to perish under her glorious oppressions. Notwithstanding, when the PRIDE of FLESH, and power of favour shall cease in these by death, or disgrace; what then hath time to register, or FAME to publish in these great mens names, that will not be offensive, or infectious to others? What Pen without BLOTTING can write the story of their deeds? Or what Herald blaze their Arms without a blemish? And as for their counsels and projects, when they come once to light, shall they not live as noysome, and loathsomely above ground, as their Authors carkasses lie in the grave? So as the return of such greatnes to the world, and themselves, can be but private reproach, publique ill example, and a fatall scorn to the Government they live in. Sir Philip Sidney is none of this number; for the greatness which he affected was built upon true WORTH; esteeming Fame more than Riches, and Noble actions far above Nobility it self.

"Then make the summe of our Idea's this,
Who loue the world, giue latitude to Fame,
And this Man-pleasing, Gods displeasing is,
Who loue their God, haue glory by his name:
But fixe on Truth, who can, that know it not?
*Who fixe on ERROR, doe but write to blot*.

"Who worship Fame, commit Idolatry,
"Make Men their God, Fortune and Time their worth,
"Forme, but reforme not, meer hypocrisie,
"By shadowes, onely shadowes bringing forth,
"Which must, as blossomes, fade ere true fruit springs,
"(Like voice, and eccho) ioyn'd; yet diuers things." (Greville)
Sonnet 111
O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
Pity me then and wish I were renew'd;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.

Oxford remains unnamed in Greville's account of the tennis court quarrel in his ‘Life of Sidney’.

Sidneians – tended to favour Parliament
Oxford – Royalist (?)

Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric, and Politics,

1627-1660. - Review - book review
Criticism, Spring, 2000 by Fritz Levy

Long after it was all over, Thomas Hobbes looked back at the civil war to search out the causes for an event he continued to think unnatural. How was it that men abandoned the duty owed their governors and instead followed the guidance of their own wits? Envy and ambition had a great deal to do with it, of course, Hobbes contended in Behemoth, or The Long Parliament (ed. Ferdinand Tonnies: 2nd ed. [1967]), but the critical element in promoting insubordination was attendance at the universities, where such men became persuaded that they lacked no "ability requisite for the government of a commonwealth, especially after having read the glorious histories and the sententious politics of the ancient popular governments of the Greeks and Romans, amongst whom kings were hated and branded with the name of tyrants, and popular government ... passed by the name of liberty" (23). Hobbes hammers the point time and again, concluding at last with the question: "Who can be a good subject to monarchy, whose principles are taken from the enemies of monarchy, such as were Cicero, Seneca, Cato, and other politicians of Rome, and Aristotle of Athens, who seldom speak of kings but as of wolves and other ravenous beasts?" (ibid., 158). It is easy to write off Hobbes's comments as exaggeration, and to treat the "classical republicanism" to which they refer as a minority opinion, held by a few malcontents, but of no real political importance. Easy, yes, but perhaps not altogether correct. For we have been learning that the language to which Hobbes referred was in use long before the fighting started, and was understood even by those who did not share its assumptions.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Bringing Beauty Forth

Aesthesics (sic)
1879 - Lewes Psychol. 64. It would be a an abstract science of Feeling, to stand beside the abstract science of Force - an Aesthetics parallel with Dynamics. (from Compact OED)

 For Beauty:

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,

Whose action is no stronger than a flower?--Shakespeare

Against Beauty:

Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof.

 Shakespeare - Sonnet 65

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt'ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong but time decays?
O fearful meditation! Where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil or beauty can forbid?
  O none, unless this miracle have might,
  That in black ink my love may still shine bright.


  • In the overwrought atmosphere of the Poetomachia  Hamlet  appears as one of the Tribe of Ben. His comments on stage manners and his suspicion of appearances align with Jonson's. Hamlet's preference for a 'judicious' theatre of one is echoed in many writings and praises of Jonson. Horatio/Horace/Jonson all attack 'seeming' - which was the main charge against Edward de Vere (show and seeming, appearance, painting, emptiness) as opposed to the inner 'matter' of Virtue. In Hamlet, Shakespeare/Vere who had been accused of being all surFace, interrogates the 'substance' or matter of Jonson's inner worth  - and the 'inwardness' that was the site of militant Protestant virtue. What I now think of as the lie of the golden core.

What is the Matter?
Between Who?
It is no matter.
The real Matter of Hamlet removed from room - arranged/posed as a seeming-soldier to suit the ends of militant Fortinbras. 

Jonson, Prologue, Cynthia's Revels

Then cast those piercing Rays,
Round as a Crown, instead of honour'd Bays,
About his
Poesie; which (he knows) affords
Words, above action: MATTER, above words.


Lecturing the Courtiers: Crites/Criticus/Jonson in Cynthia's Revels:

O vanity,
How are thy painted beauties doted on,
By light, and empty Idiots how pursu'd
With open and extended Appetite!
How they do sweat, and run themselves from breath,
Rais'd on their Toes, to catch thy AIRY FORMS,
Still turning GIDDY, till they reel like Drunkards,
That buy the merry madness of one hour,
With the long irksomness of following time!
O how despis'd and base a thing is a Man,
If he not strive t'erect his groveling Thoughts
Above the strain of Flesh! But how more cheap,
When, even his best and understanding Part,
(The crown and strength of all his Faculties)
Floats like a dead drownd Body, on the Stream
Of vulgar humour, mixt with common'st dregs?
I suffer for their Guilt now, and my Soul
(Like one that looks on ill-affected Eyes)
Is hurt with mere intention on their Follies.
Why will I view them then? my sense might ask me:
Or is't a rarity, or some new object,
That strains my strict observance to this Point?
O would it were, therein I could afford
My Spirit should draw a little neer to theirs,
To gaze on novelties: so Vice were one.
Tut, she is stale, rank, foul, and were it not
That those (that woo her) greet her with lockt Eyes,
(In spight of all the impostures, paintings, drugs,
Which her Bawd custom dawbs her Cheeks withal)
She would betray her loath'd and leprous Face,
And fright th' enamour'd dotards from themselves:
But such is the perverseness of our nature,
That if we once but fancy levity,
(How antick and ridiculous so ere
It sute with us) yet will our muffled thought
Choose rather not to see it, than avoid it:
And if we can but banish our own sense,
We act our mimick tricks with that free license,
That lust, that pleasure, that security,
As if we practis'd in a Paste-board Case,
And no one saw the motion, but the motion.
Well, check thy passion, lest it grow too lowd:
"While fools are pittied, they wax fat and proud


Jonson identifies Amorphus of Cynthia's Revels as Edward de Vere (or at the very least associates Vere with Amorphus by having Amorphus speak some lines of poetry that had been dedicated to Vere) - and accuses Vere of being made more of curious surFaces than substance.

In the prologue to the Cynthia's Revels Jonson explicitly prioritizes 'matter' above words and action.

Hamlet references matter at least 26 times? (Ferguson. Letters and Spirits. 'Matter, we are told, is spoken 26 times in the play'.)

Hamlet is a mad romp in search of the 'matter' of Jonson's virtue - the matter that is supposed to give meaning and 'weight' to words and ultimately the 'ground' for action. Hamlet can't act because he can't materialize or determine the 'substance' of the inner gold/virtue/matter that he has been taught to revere. He cannot find the 'matter' to base his actions on.

He has been taught also that beauty is suspect.



That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
The ornament of beauty is suspect,
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.


Whitney's Choice of Emblemes 226
Amico ficto nulla fit injuria

Since fauninge lookes, and SUGRED SPEACHE prevaile,
Take heede betime: and linke thee not with theise.
The gallant clokes, doe hollowe hartes conceile,
And goodlie showes, are mistes before our eies:
But whome thou find'st with guile, disguised so:
No wronge thou doest, to use him as thy foe.

Fere simile, in Hypocritas.

A FACE DEFORM'DE, a visor faire dothe hide,
That none can see his uglie shape within;
To Ipocrites, the same maie bee applide,
With outward showes, who all their credit winne:
Yet give no heate, but like a painted fire;
And, all their zeale, is: as the times require.


Jonson satirized Amorphus'/Oxford's 'beauties', sociability and Italianate ways. He depicted Crites/Jonson/Horace viewing Amorphus and Asotus with a contemptuous/asnide manner that foreshadowed Hamlet and Horatio's opinions of Osric's courtly beauties/civilities:

Asotus. I do purpose to travel, sir, at spring.
Amorphus. I think I shall affect you, sir. This last speech of yours hath begun to make you dear to me.
Asotus. O lord, sir! I would there were any thing in me, sir, that might appear worthy the least worthiness of your worth, sir. I protest, sir, I should endeavour to shew it, sir, with more than common regard, sir.
Crites. O, here's a rare motley, sir. (Aside.)
Amorphus. Both your desert, and your endeavours are plentiful, suspect them not: but your sweet disposition to travel, I assure you, hath made you another myself in mine eye, and struck me enamour'd on your beauties.
Asotus. I would I were the fairest lady of France for your sake, sir! and yet I would travel too.
Amorphus. O, you should digress from yourself else: for, believe it, your travel is our only thing that rectifies, or, as the Italian says, vi rendi pronto all' attioni, makes you fit for action.

Jonson depicts Amorphus/Oxford as lacking in substance. All outside.

Cynthia's Revels, Jonson


 ...For, let your Soul be as-
sur'd of this (in any rank, or profession whatever) the
more general, or major part of Opinion goes with the
Face, and (simply) respects nothing else. Therefore,
if that can be made exactly, curiously, exquisitely,
thorowly, it is enough:

Defined by Barthes, a writerly text allows for multiple possibilities of meaning, in that it is infinitely plural, or as he states, a "galaxy of signifiers, and not a structure of signifieds." Whereas a readerly text does not allow the reader to actively produce any activity from the text. (footnote 9, Extravagant Passing, Rosa Martinez)




The Court.
Hou art a Bountiful and Brave Spring, and waterest all the Noble Plants of this Island. In thee the whole Kingdom dresseth it self, and is ambitious to use thee as her Glass. Beware then thou render Mens Figures truly, and teach them no less to hate their Deformities, than to love their Forms: For, to Grace, there should come Reverence; and no Man can call that Lovely, which is not also Venerable. It is not Powd'ring, Perfuming, and every day smelling of the Taylor, that converteth to a Beautiful Object: but a Mind shining through any Sute, which needs no False Light, either of Riches or Honours, to help it. Such shalt thou find some here, even in the Reign of C Y N T H I A, (a C R I T E S and an A R E T E.) Now, under thy P H œ B U S, it will be thy Province to make more: Except thou desirest to have thy Source mix with the Spring of Self-love, and so wilt draw upon thee as welcom a Discovery of thy Days, as was then made of her Nights.

Jonson, Discoveries

De vere argutis. - I do hear them say often some men are not witty, because they are not everywhere witty; than which nothing is more foolish. If an eye or a nose be an excellent part in the face, therefore be all eye or nose! I think the eyebrow, the forehead, the cheek, chin, lip, or any part else are as necessary and natural in the place. But now nothing is good that is natural; RIGHT and NATURAL LANGUAGE seems to have least of the wit in it; that which is writhed and tortured is counted the more exquisite. Cloth of bodkin or tissue must be embroidered; as if no FACE were FAIR that were not powdered or painted! no BEAUTY to be had but in wresting and writhing our own tongue! Nothing is FASHIONABLE till it be DEFORMED; and this is to write like a gentleman. All must be affected and preposterous as our gallants' clothes, sweet-bags, and night-dressings, in which you would think our men lay in, like ladies, it is so CURIOUS.


Jonson, Speach According to Horace
(to the Tempestuous Grandlings)

...What love you then? your Whore? what study? Gate,
Carriage, and Dressing. There is up of late
The ACADEMY, where the Gallants meet ——
What to make Legs? yes, and to smell most sweet,
All that they do at Plays. O, but first here
They learn and study; and then practise there.
But why are all these Irons i' the Fire
Of several makings? helps, helps, t' attire
His Lordship. That is for his Band, his Hair
This, and that Box his Beauty to repair;
This other for his Eye-brows; hence, away,
I may no longer on these PICTURES stay,
These Carkasses of Honour; Taylors blocks,
Cover'd with Tissue, whose prosperity mocks
The fate of things: whilst totter'd Vertue holds
Her broken Arms up, to their EMPTY MOULDS. 

Sidneian (and Militant Protestant) Inwardness -

Fulke Greville - Recorder of Stratford
Sonnet LXV

Let him then first set straight his inward spirit,
That his Affections in the seruing roomes,
May follow Reason, not confound her light,
And make her subiect to inferiour doomes;
*For till the inward moulds be truly plac'd,
All is made crooked that in them we cast.*

John Oldham on Jonson
 Never till thee the Theater possest
A Prince with equal Pow'r, and Greatness blest,
No Government, or Laws it had
To strengthen, and establish it,
Till thy great hand the Scepter sway'd,
But groan'd under a wretched Anarchy of Wit:
Unform'd, and void was then its Poesie,
Only some pre-existing MATTER we
Perhaps could see,
That might foretell what was to be;
A rude, and undigested LUMP it lay,
Like the old Chaos, e're the birth of Light, and Day,
Till thy brave Genius like a new Creator came,
And undertook the mighty Frame;
No shuffled Atoms did the well-built work compose,
If from no lucky hit of blund'ring Chance arose
(As some of this great Fabrick idly dream)
But wise, all-seeing Judgment did contrive,
And knowing Art its Graces give:
No sooner did thy Soul with active Force and Fire
The dull and heavy MASS inspire,
But strait throughout it let us see
Proportion, Order, Harmony,
And every part did to the whole agree,
And strait appear'd a beauteous new-made world of Poetry.


Exquisite and Elegant Edward de Vere is not Hamlet. Hamlet's intellectual habits, his prejudices and his humanist education mark him as a 'Son of Ben'.

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,

Whose action is no stronger than a flower? - -Shakespeare Sonnet 65

Are you fair?
What means your lordship?
That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
admit no discourse to your beauty.
Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
with honesty?
Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof. I did love you once.
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Escape from Elsinore:

"Oxford flaunts a COPIOUS rhetoric in this poem in contrast with the more direct, unembellished commendatory verses of his predecessors. His greatest innovation, however, lies in his application of the same qualities of style to the eight poems assigned to him in the 1576 Paradise of Dainty Devices, pieces that Oxford must have composed before 1575." (Steven May. _The Elizabethan Courtier Poets_)  


Natalino Sapegno – Historic Overview of Italian Literature

In the image of the courtier the highest spirit of the Renaissance is made concrete: the ideal of the man who has conquered full knowledge of things and perfect control over himself, who has ordered his own life with admirable equilibrium, in a harmonious balance between physical and spiritual faculties, between individual and social needs, between man and nature…In literature the Cortegiano is one of the most beautiful books of the Cinquecento, inasmuch as even its style itself realizes that idea of serene and luminous dignity, of clear and unaffected elegance, which was the fundamental norm of courtesy.

Che Bella Figura! Gloria Nardini:

Bauman says (discussing Castiglione’s descriptions of sprezzatura in presentation of self) -
It is part of the essence of performance that it offers to the participants a special enhancement of experience, bringing with it a heightened intensity of communicative interaction which binds the audience to the performer in a way that is specific to performance as a mode of communication. Through his performance, the performer elicits the participative attention and energy of his audience, and to the extent that they value his performance, they will allow themselves to be caught up in it.

This ‘special enhancement of experience” which, according to Bauman, “heightens the intensity of communicative interaction’ Italians understand culturally as the performance of bella figura. Barzini would seem to agree. He explains that in Italy

...The show is as important as, many times more important than, reality. This is perhaps due to the fact that the climate has allowed Italians to live mostly outside their houses, in the streets and piazza; they judge men and events *less by what they read or learn, and far more by what they see, hear, touch and smell*. Or because they are naturally inclined towards arranging a spectacle, acting a character, staging a drama; or because they are more pleased by display than others, to the point that they do not countenance life when it is reduced to unadorned truth…Whatever the reason, the result is that at all times *form and substance are considered one and the same thing*. One cannot exist without the other. The expression is the thing expressed.
Thus, when Italians fare bella figura, they speak, gesture, act, live with a sense of performance that is second nature. This sprezzatura has a deep historical base and a broad moment-by-moment expression. It is reflected in their viewpoint, their language, their art and civic life, the whole of their culture; and it carries over as they encounter other cultures and/or blend into them.

'I know not seems'
The weather determining introversion/extraversion. The national character of the English more like the Danes? Trapped in their houses until Whitsun?

Jonson vs. Oxford/Shakespeare:

Framing Authority: Sayings, Self, and Society in Sixteenth-Century England

By Mary Thomas Crane

…[It] was a deeply threatening idea that a particular kind of education (or, indeed, a prose style indicative of that education) could replace birth and wealth as criteria for access to power. It posed the greatest threat, as Lawrence Stone points out, to the aristocrats whom it disenfranchised, and until they were able, in the seventeenth century, to recast educational credentials on the basis of attendance at certain elite (and expensive) schools, they were forced to reassert an alternative training for aristocratic youth. It also threatened the humanists themselves, who saw in their own upward mobility not only potentially dangerous eminence but also a disquieting acquiescence in capitalist and republican tendencies and a palpable threat to the concepts of order and hierarchy that they promulgated. These issues surface (in the 1520s through the 1540s) in the form of preoccupation with “value,” and in discussions of what society ought to value and how “wealth” (both monetary and cultural) should be displayed and shared.
Stone has shown how the “educational revolution” effected by English humanists contributed to the “crisis of the aristocracy” in the seventeenth century. He argues that in the sixteenth century, the new ideal of “gentleman” based on education “increased the opportunities of the gentry to compete for office on more equal terms with the nobility.” There are signs, however, of ARISTOCRATIC RESISTANCE to the humanist model of counsel, and in this resistance lie the seeds of the alternative model of courtly advancement, the ITALIANATE COURTIER. According to this model, “WORTH” is manifested through the conspicuous consumption of “worthless” TRIFLES (clothes, jewelry) and participation in frivolous pastimes (hunting, dicing, dancing, composing love lyrics).


How careful was I when I took my way,
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
That to my use it might unused stay
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust!
But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are

Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament
Patricia Fumerton

This book is about the fragmentary, the peripheral, and the ornamental – what may be called, in terms specific to the culture I am dealing with, the trivial. My focus is the trivial selfhood of the aristocracy in the English Renaissance: a sense of self, as we will see, that was supported and, indeed, constituted by bric-a-brac worlds of decorations, gifts, foodstuffs, small entertainments, and other particles of cultural wealth and show.
My correlative interest is the way this sense of self arose at the intersection between historical and aesthetic arenas of life. “Trivial” is my general term for an analytic of the fragmentary, peripheral, and ornamental addressed at once to the context of historical fact and to the texts of aesthetic artifact. Under the rubric of the trivial, I consider first a primary level of past existence where historical context appeared to the aristocratic self as radical disconnection. The luxurious bric-a-brac of the aristocrat’s everyday life was one with a cosmos in which even central historical configurations seemed broken apart and marginalized in incoherence, and where self was thus fixed in fracture. History, we may say, was a broken confectionary plate whose sweet pieces…might be puzzled back together again by the shattered self but never in such a way as to recover the fancied roundedness of original unity.
To study history as a broken confection or disjointed pile, as I intend to do, will seem trivial to historians seeking mainstreams and currents of development (…).To think in Braudel’s terms, indeed, I wish to study a layer of history even more superficial than the ‘surface disturbances, crests of foam’ of ‘l’histoire evenementielle.” Over the transitory foam of political events rises my métier: an even more ephemeral foam of culture whose waves are only as substantial as a wave machine in an Inigo Jones masque. But while I embrace “trivial” as a concept, I reject its derogatory connotation. Any such derogation, I believe, is at last only a repression pinpointing the anxiety of both mainstream and Annales history: the fear of the naked datum, of the fact that seems mere fact unsupported by any continuous structure or ground. How did the past itself think its naked facts so that a sense of identity, of selfhood, could arise even amid historical incoherence?
Here lies the design of my sliding scale of triviality: the fragmentary and peripheral were at last also ornamental. My answer is that the past aestheticized itself. It was precisely the broken, disconnected, and ‘detached’ quality of historical fact that enabled the Renaissance to achieve an aesthetic understanding of itself as a cultural artefact. A truly historical view of Renaissance aristocracy will therefore be one that recognizes the necessity of aesthetics in understanding past culture. When approached in a historicized manner, aesthetics provides a meditation between the Renaissance and our own age of postmodernity that is not a dismissal of history but precisely a representation or interpretation of history.



Sonnet CXXII

No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
   This I do vow and this shall ever be;
   I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.


 Shakespeare, Show and Seeming:
(seems to shake a lance)

Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to SHOW
To whom all SCENES of Europe homage owe. (scene - painted cloth)
He was not of an age, but for all Time !


Ben Jonson and Cervantes
Yumiko Yamada

...We have proved the hypothesis proposed at the start of this chapter: that the texture of Jonson's poem [Shakespeare's First Folio poem] has been woven for its meaning to be wholly reversible. What is whole-hearted praise in the eyes of certain readers can be read as pungent criticism from the viewpoints of others.

Elsewhere Jonson wrote for different readers: in the 1612 quarto of Catiline, he prepared two kinds of dedication, i.e. to "The Reader in Ordinarie" and to "the Reader Extraordinarie". Yet there the stress was laid only on the degree of comprehension, and there was no reversal of meaning, according to the ability of the reader.

Whatever his motive, writing poetry to celebrate Shakespeare's 1623 Folio risked undermining Jonson's 1616 Folio - intended as the antithesis of Shakespearean dramaturgy. If he were to be faithful to the readers of his Folio, he must remain critical. On the other hand, were the tone of mockery discernible to all, it would have been excluded from the commemorative folio of the deceased poet. Obliged to satisfy both sides' opposing values, Jonson probably thought of using the two parties' differing speech habits, as adroitly summed up in Sackton's brief account:

In Shakespeare (and most other writers) emphasis is on what is said: often, in Jonson, the dramatic effect depends much more on how it is said.

Heir to Lyly, Kyd and Marlowe, Shakespeare sought a flamboyant and intricate style to attract public attention, but rarely adjusted the style to the character and occasion, or varied the meaning to suit the style adopted. On the other hand, Jonson demands careful examination of the style of each speech: literal interpretation is often misleading.

The tribute seems "Jonson's finest poem of praise of another poet" (van den Berg) in the eyes of people used to stressing "what is said"; and immortal poet blessed with "Nature" and "Art", Shakespeare surpasses Chaucer, Spenser and Beaumont, overshadows Lyly, Kyd and Marlowe and cast ancient writers back into the shade. No doubt Jonson would have classified Shakespeare with this category of readers. When the same poem was read by those who care "how it is said", Shakespeare became a huge, abortive flower of the loathed age, falling far below Chaucer, Spenser and Beaumont in rank, but became the wonder (or monster) of the stage by outdoing Lyly, Kyd and Marlowe in the use of hyperbole, and by devastating the classical drama tradition. (pp. 81-82)


Billy Budd/Beauty - noble foundling

'Yes, Billy Budd was a foundling, a presumable by-blow, and, evidently, no ignoble one. Noble descent was as evident in him as in a blood horse.' (Melville, _Billy Budd_)


1850: "Hawthorne and His Mosses" by Herman Melville

"Would that all excellent BOOKS were FOUNDLINGS, without father or
mother, that so it might be we could glorify them, without including
their ostensible authors."

“I know not what would be the right name to put on the title-page
of an excellent book, but this I feel, that the names of all fine
authors are fictitious ones, far more than that of Junius,-- simply
standing, as they do, for the mystical, ever-eluding SPIRIT of all
BEAUTY, which ubiquitously possesses men of genius. Purely imaginative
as this fancy may appear, it nevertheless seems to receive some
warranty from the fact, that on a personal interview no great author
has ever come up to the idea of his reader. But that dust of which our
bodies are composed, how can it fitly express the nobler intelligences
among us?”

Billy Budd - Melville
Claggart comments/mock-praise after Billy spilled a bowl of soup. Misunderstood by Billy/Beauty

Claggart -  "Handsomely done, my lad! And handsome is as handsome did it too!"

handsome is as handsome does 
character and behavior are more important than appearance.

Where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid? -- Shakespeare

Vladimir Nabokov:

Amid grandees of times Elizabethan
you shimmered too, you followed sumptuous custom;
the circle of ruff, the silv'ry satin that
encased your thigh, the wedgelike beard - in all of this
you were like other men... Thus was enfolded
your godlike thunder in a succinct cape.
Haughty, aloof from theatre's alarums,
you easily, regretlessly relinquished
the laurels twinning into a dry wreath,
concealing for all time your  MONSTROUS GENIUS
beneath a mask; and yet, your phantasm's echoes
still vibrate for us; your Venetian Moor,
his anguish; Falstaff's visage, like an udder
with pasted-on mustache; the raging Lear..
You are among us, you're alive; your name, though,
your image, too - deceiving, thus, the world
you have submerged in your beloved LETHE...

Form crushing Sense/Feeling:

Billy Budd - Melville

The drum-beat dissolved the multitude, distributing most of them along the batteries of the two covered gun decks. There, as wont, the guns' crews stood by their respective cannon erect and silent. In due course the First Officer, sword under arm and standing in his place on the quarter-deck, formally received the successive reports of the sworded Lieutenants commanding the sections of batteries below; the last of which reports being made, the summed report he delivered with the customary salute to the Commander. All this occupied time, which in the present case, was the object of beating to quarters at an hour prior to the customary one. That such variance from usage was authorized by an officer like Captain Vere, a martinet as some deemed him, was evidence of the necessity for unusual action implied in what he deemed to be temporarily the mood of his men. "With mankind," he would say, "forms, measured forms are everything; and that is the import couched in the story of  Orpheus with his lyre spell-binding the wild denizens of the wood." And this he once applied to the disruption of forms going on across the Channel and the consequences thereof.

Captain Edward Fairfax Vere:

 The father in him, manifested towards Billy thus far in the scene, was replaced by the military disciplinarian. -- Melville, Billy Budd


No more be griev'd at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud(d).
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
(Thy adverse party is thy advocate)
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate
That I an accessary needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

 Thy adverse party is thy advocate:

Billy Budd, Melville - Chapter 23

It was Captain Vere himself who of his own motion communicated the finding of the court to the prisoner; for that purpose going to the compartment where he was in custody and bidding the marine there to withdraw for the time.
Beyond the communication of the sentence what took place at this interview was never known. But in view of the character of the twain briefly closeted in that state-room , each radically sharing in the rarer qualities of our nature--so rare indeed as to be all but incredible to average minds however much cultivated--some conjectures may be ventured.
It would have been in consonance with the spirit of Captain Vere should he on this occasion have concealed nothing from the condemned one--should he indeed have frankly disclosed to him the part he himself had played in bringing about the decision, at the same time revealing his actuating motives. On Billy's side it is not improbable that such a confession would have been received in much the same spirit that prompted it. Not without a sort of joy indeed he might have appreciated the brave opinion of him implied in his Captain's making such a confidant of him. Nor, as to the sentence itself could he have been insensible that it was imparted to him as to one not afraid to die. Even more may have been. Captain Vere in the end may have developed the passion sometimes latent under an exterior stoical or indifferent. He was old enough to have been Billy's father. The austere devotee of military duty, letting himself melt back into what remains primeval in our formalized humanity, may in the end have caught Billy to his heart even as Abraham may have caught young Isaac on the brink of resolutely offering him up in obedience to the exacting behest. But there is no telling the sacrament, seldom if in any case revealed to the gadding world, wherever under circumstances at all akin to those here attempted to be set forth, two of great Nature's nobler order embrace. There is privacy at the time, inviolable to the survivor, and HOLY OBLIVION, the sequel to each diviner magnanimity, providentially covers all at last. 


Foundling Billy Budd/Beauty in the Darbies: Melville

But me they'll lash me in hammock, drop me deep.
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I'll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?
Just ease this darbies at the wrist, and roll me over fair,
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.


How with this rage shall BEAUTY hold a plea,

Whose ACTION is no stronger than a flower? 


Word Origin and History for AESTHETICS:
1803, from aesthetic (also see -ics ).
1798, from German Ästhetisch or French esthétique, both from Greek aisthetikos "sensitive, perceptive," from aisthanesthai "to perceive (by the senses or by the mind), to feel," from PIE *awis-dh-yo-, from root *au- "to perceive" (see audience ).

Popularized in English by translation of Immanuel Kant, and used originally in the classically correct sense "the science which treats of the conditions of sensuous perception." Kant had tried to correct the term after Alexander Baumgarten had taken it in German to mean "criticism of taste" (1750s), but Baumgarten's sense attained popularity in English c.1830s (despite scholarly resistance) and removed the word from any philosophical base. Walter Pater used it (1868) to describe the late 19c. movement that advocated "art for art's sake," which further blurred the sense. As an adjective by 1803. Related: Aesthetically. 

Aesthetics - a non-category in 1600?

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slander'd with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profan'd, if not lives in disgrace.


Sonnet LXXII
O! lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death,--dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove.
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O! lest your true love may seem false in this
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
   For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
   And so should you, to love things nothing worth.