Monday, February 1, 2010

The Tennis Court Quarrel and Protestant Resistance Theory

Edward de Vere's Tyrannical Humour:

IMO - the single most important authorship clue must be Fulke Greville's characterization of the Earl of Oxford as a 'tyrant' in his _Life of the Renowned Sr. Philip Sidney_. Published long after Oxford, Sidney and Greville's deaths - _The Life_ monumentalizes Philip Sidney's 'resistance' to the pride and fury of the Earl, and, in Greville's words, Sidney's exemplary behaviour leaves an 'authentical president to after ages'. In Greville's opinion, Sidney's virtuous behaviour is worthy of imitation.

As a tyrant, Oxford seems to be small potatoes. Not quite a Phalaris roasting people in a 'roaring' bull, he nonetheless displays tyrannical humours - intemperance (excess), anger, vanity, unreason (passion), insolence and the pride that goeth before the fall. Sidney's self-knowledge and composure is contrasted with the passionate excess of Oxford, and are interpreted as signs of what Greville terms the 'inequality of nature' between the two men.

Greville's comments need to be viewed in the light of Protestant resistance theory - a discourse that informs Greville's account of the quarrel between Sidney and Oxford. From the various theories that advocate and attempt to legitimize resistance to tyrants, we learn what is at the root of Oxford's tyrannical behaviour - the sin of self-love.

Of Oxford's curious 'lack of substance' in Greville's account I'll have more to say later.


Blair Worden, _The Sound of Virtue -Philip Sidney's Arcadia and
Elizabethan Politics_

For Greville, TYRANNY is characterised by 'WILL, which nothing but
itself endures', and which overrides 'law'. His golden retrospection
contrasts the readiness of Queen Elizabeth to harmonise her 'own
affections' with 'her subjects' , and to govern by 'laws', with the
ways of 'TYRANTS' who allow of no scope....but their own will'. Yet in
Sidney's lifetime Greville, and Sidney too, would have been more
likely to concur with the view of Sir Francis Knollys that she
preferred 'her own will and her own affections' to 'the sound advice
of open counsel'.

'WILL' in Renaissance minds, is the enemy not only of law but of
reason, which law invokes. Languet's and Mornay's Vindiciae, Contra
Tyrannos cites Juvenal's condemnation of kings who resolve to rule by
'WILL' rather than by 'reason'. The friends of WILL are passion and
lust, when men, instead of 'reason, follow WILL, and instead of law,
use their own lust'. (p.212)


Greville. The life of the renowned Sr Philip Sidney.
THus stood the state of things then: And if any judicious Reader shall ask, Whether it were not an error, and a dangerous one, for Sir Philip being neither Magistrate nor Counsellor, to oppose himself against his Soveraigns pleasure in things indifferent? I must answer, That his worth, truth, favour, and sincerity of heart, together with his reall manner of proceeding in it, were his privileges. Because this Gentlemans course in this great business was, not by murmur among equals, or inferiours, to detract from Princes; or by a mutinous kind of bemoaning error, to stir up ill affections in their minds, whose best thoughts could do him no good; but by a due address of his humble reasons to the Queen her self, to whom the appeal was proper. So that although he found a sweet stream of Soveraign humors in that well-tempered Lady, to run against him, yet found he safety in her self, against that selfness which appeared to threaten him in her: For this happily born and bred Princess was not (subject-like) apt to construe things reverently done in the worst sense; but rather with the spirit of annointed Greatness (as created to reign equally over frail and strong) more desirous to find waies to fashion her people, than colours, or causes to punish them.
Lastly, to prove nothing can be wise, that is not really honest; every man of that time, and consequently of all times may know, that if he should have used the same freedome among the Grandees of Court (their profession being not commonly to dispute Princes purposes for truths sake, but second their humours to govern their Kingdomes by them) he must infallibly have found Worth, Justice, and Duty lookt upon with no other eyes but Lamia's; and so have been stained by that reigning faction, which in all Courts allows no faith currant to a Soveraign, that hath not past the seal of their practising corporation.
Thus stood the Court at that time; and thus stood this ingenuous spirit in it. If dangerously in mens opinions who are curious of the present, and in it rather to doe craftily, than well: Yet, I say, that Princely heart of hers was a Sanctuary unto him; And as for the people, in whom many times the lasting images of Worth are preferred before the temporary visions of art, or favour, he could not fear to suffer any thing there, which would not prove a kind of Trophy to him. So that howsoever he seemed to stand alone, yet he stood upright; kept his access to her Majesty as before; a liberall conversation with the French, reverenced amongst the worthiest of them for himselfe, and born in too strong a fortification of nature for the less worthy to abbord, either with question, familiarity, or scorn.
In this freedome, even while the greatest spirits, and Estates seemed hood-winkt, or blind; and the inferior sort of men made captive by hope, fear, ignorance; did he enjoy the freedome of his thoughts, with all recreations worthy of them.
And in this freedome of heart being one day at Tennis, a Peer of this Realm, born great, greater by alliance, and superlative in the Princes favour, abruptly came into the Tennis- Court; and speaking out of these three paramount authorities, he forgot to entreat that, which he could not legally command. When by the encounter of a steady object, finding unrespectiveness in himself (though a great Lord) not respected by this Princely spirit, he grew to expostulate more ROUGHLY. The returns of which stile comming still from an understanding heart, that knew what was due to it self, and what it ought to others, seemed (through the MISTS of my Lords PASSIONS, SWOLN with the WINDE of his FACTION then reigning) to provoke in yeelding. Whereby, the lesse amazement, or confusion of thoughts he stirred up in Sir Philip, the more SHADOWES this great Lords own mind was POSSESSED with: till at last with RAGE (which is ever ILL-DISCIPLINED) he commands them to depart the Court. To this
Sir Philip temperately answers; that if his Lordship had been pleased to express desire in milder Characters, perchance he might have led out those, that he should now find would not be driven out with any scourge of FURY. This answer (like a BELLOWS) blowing up the sparks of EXCESS already kindled, made my Lord scornfully call Sir Philip by the name of Puppy. In which progress of HEAT, as the TEMPEST grew more and more vehement within, so did their hearts breath out their perturbations in a more loud and shrill accent. The French Commissioners unfortunately had that day audience, in those private Galleries, whose windows looked into the Tennis-Court. They instantly drew all to this tumult: every sort of quarrels sorting well with their humors, especially this. Which Sir Philip perceiving, and rising with inward strength, by the prospect of a mighty faction against him; asked my Lord, with a loud voice, that which he heard clearly enough before. Who ( LIKE AN ECHO, that still multiplies by REFLEXIONS) repeated this Epithet of Puppy the second time. Sir Philip resolving in one answer to conclude both the attentive hearers, and PASSIONATE ACTOR, gave my Lord a Lie, impossible (as he averred) to be retorted; in respect all the world knows, Puppies are gotten by Dogs, and Children by men.
Hereupon those GLORIOUS INEQUALITIES of FORTUNE in his Lordship were put to a kinde of pause, by a precious inequality of nature in this Gentleman. So that they both stood silent a while, like a DUMB SHEW in a TRAGEDY; till Sir Philip sensible of his own wrong, the forrain, and factious spirits that attended; and yet, even in this question between him, and his superior, tender to his Countries honour; with some words of sharp accent, led the way abruptly out of the Tennis-Court; as if so unexpected an accident were not fit to be decided any farther in that place. Whereof the great Lord making another sense, continues his play, WITHOUT any ADVANTAGE of reputation; as by the standard of humours in those times it was conceived.
A day Sr Philip remains in suspense, when hearing nothing of, or from the Lord, he sends a Gentleman of worth to awake him out of his TRANCE; wherein the French would assuredly think any pause, if not death, yet a lethargy of true honour in both. This stirred a resolution in his Lordship to send Sir Philip a Challenge. Notwithstanding, these thoughts in the great Lord WANDRED so long between GLORY, ANGER, and INEQUALITY of state, as the Lords of her Majesties Counsell took notice of the differences, commanded peace, and laboured a reconciliation between them. But needlesly in one respect, and bootlesly in another. The great Lord being (as it should SEEM) either not hasty *to adventure many inequalities against one*, or INWARDLY satisfied with the progress of his own Acts: Sir Philip on the other side confident, he neither had nor would lose, or let fall any thing of his right. Which her Majesties Counsell quickly perceiving, recommended this work to her self.
The Queen, who saw that by the loss, or disgrace of either, she could gain nothing, presently undertakes Sir Philip; and (like an excellent Monarch) lays before him the difference in degree between Earls, and Gentlemen; the respect inferiors ought to their superiors; and the necessity in Princes to maintain their own creations, as degrees descending between the peoples licentiousness, and the anoynted Soveraignty of Crowns: how the Gentlemans neglect of the Nobility taught the Peasant to insult upon both.
Whereunto Sir Philip, with such reverence as became him, replyed: First, that place was never intended for privilege to WRONG: witness her self, who how Soveraign soever she were by Throne, Birth, Education, and Nature; yet was she content to cast her own affections
into the same moulds her Subjects did, and govern all her rights by their Laws. Again, he besought her Majesty to consider, that although he were a great Lord by birth, alliance, and grace; yet hee was no Lord over him: and therfore the difference of degrees between free men, could not challenge any other homage than precedency. And by her Fathers Act (to make a Princely wisdom become the more familiar) he did instance the Government of K. Henry the eighth, who gave the Gentry free, and safe appeal to his feet, against the oppression of the Grandees; and found it wisdome, by the stronger corporation in number, to keep down the greater in power: inferring else, that if they should unite, the OVER-GROWN might be tempted, by still coveting more, to fall (as the Angels did) by affecting equality with their Maker.
This constant tenor of truth he took upon him; which as a chief duty in all creatures, both to themselves, & the soveraignty above them, protected this Gentleman (though he obeyed not) from the displeasure of his Soveraign. Wherein he left an authentical president to after ages, that howsoever TYRANTS allow of no scope, stamp, or standard, but their own WILL; yet with Princes there is a latitude for subjects to reserve native, & legall freedom, by paying humble tribute in manner, though not in matter, to them.

TYRANTS allow of no scope, stamp, or standard, but their own WILL


Philip Sidney and the Poetics of Renaissance Cosmopolitanism, Robert E. Stillman

Exemplary Tyrants and Aesthetic Barbarians:

While prosecuting what the Defence of Poesy calls a "CIVIL WAR among the MUSES,' Sidney marshals an especially crucial argument against the muse of history. "Many times a terror from well-doing, and an encouragement to unbridled wickedness,' the historical muse sounds the voice not of truth and moral persuasion, but instead of political turpitude. Just consider the kinds of stories that fill history's "old mouse-eaten records," Sidney asks. Cypselus, Periander, Phalaris, and Dionysius were all real-world tyrants who enjoyed quiet deaths, unpunished for their crimes. Discredited by its own mouse-eaten records, history's culturally familiar moral power emerges from the Defence as considerably less than exemplary, both because of the existence of such stories and also more importantly because of the character of historical narrative itself. "Captived to the truth of a foolish world, " history is condemned to narrating over and again the triumphs of tyranny. With an audacity as sly as it is comically hyperbolic, the Defence disposes in a few curt, ironically pointed sentences of centuries of humanistically inspired commentary on history's exemplary moral power. It is hardly the historian's fault that he is compelled to tell the truth, Sidney might have admitted if pressed, but therein lies the critical point. Historical truth is simply inadequate, given the foolishness of the world, to the demands of historical life.
It is useful to begin with renewed attention to how Sidney configures the relationship between poetry and history in his Defence since that relationship is crucial for understanding his preoccupation with TYRANNY in the text as a whole and for reevaluating the connection between his poetics and is politics. Tyranny has attracted a great deal of attention in studies of The New Arcadia, but little has been written about the tyrants who populate the defence in such numbers. It is not only when taking the historian to task for his disciplinary shortfalls that Sidney interests us in tyranny. He muses too upon the failures of the philosopher. Plato's real-life enslavement at the hands of Dionysius, the Sicilian tyrant whose education in virtue he failed to procure, becomes shorthand for the failure of philosophy generally in it controntation with tyranny. In turn , the metamorphosis of Hiero I fomr tyrant to just king is credited to Simonides and Pindar, as another tribute to the superior powers of the poet. When Sidney wants to exemplify the "eikastic" powers of poetry - it's capacity to "figure forth good things"- he does so, centrally, by alluding to a portrait of "Judith killing Holofernes," one of the great biblical prototypes of tyrannicide. When he seeks to illustrate the power of the stage to create "divine admiration," he highlights the accomplishments of George Buchanan, that Scottish humanist whose specialty was tyrannicidal tragedy. The success of poets in confounding tyrants takes center stage in Sidney's defense of tragedy as a genre. What the Defence terms "the high and excellent Tragedy...maketh kings fear to be tyrants, and *tyrants manifest their
tyrannical humours*. (pp. 169-70)


Oxford, monumentalized in Greville's _Life of Sidney_, manifests eternally his 'tyrannical humours'. The authorship problem confronts a poetic form of 'tyrannicide' - poetic justice - as Sidney and Greville's 'exemplary tyrant' Oxford ‘Superbus’ is deemed unworthy of imitation and is excised from history.


Castiglione Book of the the Courtier, transl. George Bull Bk. IV
...Therefore there are some princes who hate reason and justice because they think these would act as a bridle to their desires, reduce them to servitude, and if followed, rob them of the pleasures and satisfactions of their rule; and they suppose that their power would be neither perfect nor complete if they were constrained to obey the call of duty and honour, since they believe that no one who obeys is a true ruler. Therefore following on these beginnings, and letting themselves be carried away by self-conceit, they grow arrogant, and with imperious countenance and stern ways, with sumptuous dress, gold and gems, and rarely letting themselves be seen in public, they think to gain authority among men and to be regarded as gods. But these princes, to my mind, are like the giant figures that were made in Rome last year on the day of the festival in Piazza D'Agone and which outwardly looked like great men and horses in a triumph but inside were stuffed with rags and straw. However, princes of this sort are worse still. For the giant figures were held upright by their own great weight, whereas, since they are badly balanced within and out of proportion in relation to their base, the downfall of these rulers is caused by their own weight, and from one error they fall into countless others. For their ignorance and false belief that they can do no wrong, and that their power springs from their own wisdom, prompt them to use all and every means, just or not, to usurp states whenever they have the chance.


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.


Sidney, Defense of Poesie, conclusion:

So that since the ever praiseworthy poesy is full of virtue-breeding delightfulness, and void of no gift that ought to be in the noble name of learning; since the blames laid against it are either false or feeble; since the cause why it is not esteemed in England is the fault of poet-apes, not poets; since, lastly, our tongue is most fit to honor poesy, and to be honored by poesy; I conjure you all that have had the evil luck to read this ink-wasting toy of mine, even in the name of the Nine Muses, no more to scorn the sacred mysteries of poesy; no more to laugh at the name of poets, as though they were next inheritors to fools; no more to jest at the reverend title of “a rimer”; but TO BELIEVE, with Aristotle, that they were the ancient treasurers of the Grecians’ divinity; TO BELIEVE, with Bembus, that they were first bringers—in of all civility; TO BELIEVE, with Scaliger, that no philosopher’s precepts can sooner make you an honest man than the reading of Virgil; TO BELIEVE, with Clauserus, the translator of Cornutus, that it pleased the Heavenly Deity by Hesiod and Homer, under the veil of fables, to give us all knowledge, logic, rhetoric, philosophy natural and moral, and quid non? TO BELIEVE, with me, that there are many mysteries contained in poetry which of purpose were written darkly, lest by profane wits it should be abused; TO BELIEVE, with Landino, that they are so beloved of the gods, that whatsoever they write proceeds of a divine fury; lastly,TO BELIEVE themselves, when they tell you they will make you immortal by their verses.
THUS DOING, your name shall flourish in the printers’ shops. THUS DOING, you shall be of kin to many a poetical preface. THUS DOING, you shall be most fair, most rich, most wise, most all; you shall dwell upon superlatives. THUS DOING, though you be libertino patre natus (The son of a freedman), you shall suddenly grow Herculea proles (“Herculean offspring.”),
Si quid mea carmina possunt. (If my verses can do aught (to make you famous).”—Virgil, “Æneid,”)
THUS DOING, your soul shall be placed with Dante’s Beatrice or Virgil’s Anchises.
But if—fie of such a but!—you be born so near the dull-making cataract of Nilus, that you cannot hear the planet-like music of poetry; if you have so earth-creeping a mind that it cannot lift itself up to look to the sky of poetry, or rather, by a certain rustical disdain, will become such a mome, as to be a Momus of poetry; then, though I will not wish unto you the ass’ ears of Midas, nor to be driven by a poet’s verses, as Bubonax was, to hang himself; nor to be rimed to death, as is said to be done in Ireland; yet thus much CURSE I must send you in the behalf of all poets:—that while you live in love, and never get favor for lacking skill of a sonnet; and when you die, YOUR MEMORY DIE FROM THE EARTH for want of an epitaph.


'Brazen Oxford, Brazen Shakespeare'

Poet-Apes, 'Awk Poets' and 'Why the Droeshout Engraving has Two Left Arms':

Awk \Awk\, adv.
Perversely; in the wrong way. --L'Estrange.

Awk \Awk\ ([add]k), a. [OE. auk, awk (properly) turned away;
(hence) contrary, wrong, from Icel. ["o]figr, ["o]fugr,
afigr, turning the wrong way, fr. af off, away; cf. OHG.
abuh, Skr. ap[=a]c turned away, fr. apa off, away + a root
ak, a[u^]k, to bend, from which come also E. angle, anchor.]
1. Odd; out of order; perverse. [Obs.]

2. Wrong, or not commonly used; clumsy; sinister; as, the awk
end of a rod (the but end). [Obs.] --Golding.

3. Clumsy in performance or manners; unhandy; not dexterous;
awkward. [Obs. or Prov. Eng.]


Philip Sidney and the Poetics of Renaissance Cosmopolitanism, Robert E. Stillman

" Sidney chooses to discriminate among kinds of poets by attending to their SCOPE - clarified in this instance by attention to the different targets of their imitations. Sidney transforms Scaliger's category of pagan prophetic poets into "the first and most noble sort," by adding sacred poets to the discussion - for instance, the David of the Psalms and the Solomon of the Song of Songs. Their objects of imitation are "the inconceivable excellencies of God" - excellencies that they are enabled poetically to conceive, like David, because they have "eyes of the mind, only cleared by faith,"and excellencies, in turn, that become conceivable to the mind as faith (energized by the poetic image) performs its work of clarification (99). Sidney's second group is as derivative as it is ultimately dismissible, consisting of those philosophical, historical, natural and moral poets whose imitations stay "wrapped within the fold of the proposed subject" - who counterfeit, that is, only by copying the BRAZEN WORLD of nature . The third category consists of those "right poets," who imitating nothing but "what may be and should be," create speaking pictures of virtue and vice, both to move and to instruct as "the noblest SCOPE to which ever any learning was directed". (pp. 157-58)

(Brazen world - all, that was ever writ in brass)

TYRANTS allow of no SCOPE, stamp, or standard, but their own WILL



Were I a King.

Were I a king I might command content;
Were I obscure unknown would be my cares,
And were I dead no thoughts should me torment,
Nor words, nor wrongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears;
A doubtful choice of these things which to crave,
A kingdom or a cottage or a grave.


Sidney's Answer:

Wert thou a King yet not command content,
Since EMPIRE NONE thy mind could yet SUFFICE,
Wert thou obscure still cares would thee torment;
But wert thou dead, all care and sorrow dies;
An easy choice of these things which to crave,
No kingdom nor a cottage but a grave.


Every Man Out, Jonson

Act IV. Scene VIII.

G R E X.

Mit. This Macilente, Signior, begins to be more so-
ciable on a sudden, methinks, than he was before: there's
some portent in't, I believe.
Cor. O, he's a Fellow of a strange nature. Now does
he (in this calm of his Humour) Plot, and store up a
World of malicious Thoughts in his Brain, till he is so
full with 'em, that you shall see the very Torrent of his
Envy break forth like a Land-flood: and, against the
course of all their Affections oppose it self so violently,
that you will almost have wonder to think, how 'tis
possible the Current of their Dispositions shall receive so
quick and strong an alteration.
Mit. I marry, Sir, this is that, on which my expecta-
tion has dwelt all this while: for I must tell you, Signior
(though I was loth to interrupt the Scene) yet I made it
a question in mine own private discourse, how he should
properly call it, Every man out of his HUMOUR, when I
saw all his Actors so strongly pursue, and continue their
Cor. Why, therein his Art appears most full of lustre,
and approacheth nearest the Life: *especially, when in
the flame and height of their Humours, they are laid
flat*, it fills the Eye better, and with more contentment.
How tedious a sight were it to behold a proud exalted
Tree lopt, and cut down by degrees, when it might be
feld in a Moment? and to set the Ax to it before it came
to that PRIDE and fulness, were, as not to have it grow.
Mit. Well, I shall long till I see this FALL, you talk of.


Upon Ben Jonson, and his Zany, Tom Randolph.

"Quoth Ben to Tom, the Lover's stole,
"'Tis Shakspeare's every word ;
"Indeed, says Tom, upon the whole,
"'Tis much too good for Ford.

"Thus Ben and Tom, the dead still praise,
"The living to decry;
"For none must dare to *WEAR the BAYS* ,
"Till Ben and Tom both die.

"Even Avon's swan could not escape
"These letter-TYRANT Elves ;
"They on his FAME contriv'd a RAPE,
"To RAISE their PEDANT selves.

"But after times with full consent
"This TRUTH will all acknowledge,-
"Shakspeare and Ford from HEAVEN were sent,
"But Ben and Tom from college."

Endymion Porter.