The Elizabethan Style Wars and the Polemical Significance of Oxford's 'Effeminate' Style:
Style and Gender in Public Performance
in Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature
(ed. William J Dominik)
If one major source of anxiety about style was the danger of effeminacy, another - and related - source was the danger of resembling an actor. The sexuality of actors was itself suspect and actors (partly on that account) suffered a diminished status as infames - much like men marked as MOLLES. William Fitzgerald has suggested that poetry, as a public performance, might have been seen as itself akin to acting, hence tending to cast a shadow on the sexual integrity of poets. Certainly this was the case for oratory; the handbooks are full of insistent disclaimers explaining how orators, though as talented as actors, though very like actors, are really not like actors at all.
Comments on the theatre by other writers explain what underlies these [caveats]. Columella, who wrote on the quintessentially Roman and manly art of agriculture in the mid-first dentury CE, begins his book with a classic locus de saeculo that includes the following comment on the theatre (1 pr. 15): 'Astonished, we marvel at the gestures of effeminates (effeminatorum), that, by womanish movement, they counterfeit a sex denied to men by nature, and deceive the eyes of the spectators.' But both dancing and the theatre were extremely popular in Roman culture, even that hero of Roman conservatism, Scipio Aemilianus, 'moved that triumphal and military body of his to a rhythmical beat' (Sen. Tranq.17.4).
If Scipio ws a manly dancer, this oxymoronic state seems to have been the precarious goal of the Roman orator. Quintilian's treatment of actio ('movement') is full of cautions about lapses in masculinity. Effeminate actio repels him (Inst. 4.2.390: 'They bend their voices and incline their necks and flail their arms against their sides and act sext (lasciviunt) in their whole style of subject matter, words and composition; finally, what is like a monstrosity (monstro), the actio pleases, while the case is not intelligible.'
Gabriel Harvey gives us the Earl of Oxford's style:
Since Galatea came in, and Tuscanism gan usurp,
Vanity above all: villainy next her, stateliness Empress
No man but minion, stout, lout, plain, swain, quoth a Lording:
No words but valorous, no works but womanish only.
For life Magnificoes, not a beck but glorious in show,
In deed most frivolous, not a look but Tuscanish always.
His cringing side neck, eyes glancing, fisnamy smirking,
With forefinger kiss, and brave embrace to the footward.
Large bellied Cod-pieced doublet, uncod-pieced half hose,
Straight to the dock like a shirt, and close to the britch like a diveling.
A little Apish flat couched fast to the pate like an oyster,
French camarick ruffs, deep with a whiteness starched to the purpose.
Every one A per se A, his terms and braveries in print,
Delicate in speech, quaint in array: conceited in all points,
In Courtly guiles a passing singular odd man...
Ascham, The Scholemaster
And now chose you, you Italian English men, whether you will be angrie with vs, for calling you monsters, or with the Italianes, for callyng you deuils, or else with your owne selues, that take so much paines, and go so farre, to make your selues both. If some yet do not well vnderstand, what is an English man Italianated, I will plainlie tell him. He, that by liuing, & traueling in Italie, bringeth home into Engla~d out of Italie, the Religion, the learning, the policie, the experie~ce, the maners of Italie. That is to say, for Religion, Papistrie or worse: for learnyng, lesse commonly than they caried out with them: for pollicie, a factious hart, a discoursing head, a mynde to medle in all mens matters: for experience, plentie of new mischieues neuer knowne in England before: for maners, varietie of vanities, and chaunge of filthy lyuing. These be the inchantementes of Circes (see Milton, Comus), brought out of Italie, to marre mens maners in England: much, by example of ill life, but more by preceptes of fonde bookes, of late translated out of Italian into English, sold in euery shop in London, commended by honest titles the soner to corrupt honest maners: dedicated ouer boldlie to vertuous and honorable personages, the easielier to begile simple and innoce~t wittes. It is pitie, that those, which haue authoritie and charge, to allow and dissalow bookes to be printed, be no more circumspect herein, than they are. Ten Sermons at Paules Crosse do not so moch good for mouyng me~ to trewe doctrine, as one of those bookes do harme, with inticing men to ill liuing. Yea, I say farder, those bookes, tend not so moch to corrupt honest liuyng, as they do, to subuert trewe Religion. Mo Papistes be made, by your mery bookes of Italie, than by your earnest bookes of Louain. And bicause our great Phisicians, do winke at the matter, and make no counte of this sore, I, though not admitted one of their felowshyp, yet hauyng bene many yeares aprentice to Gods trewe Religion, and trust to continewe a poore iorney man therein all dayes of my life, for the dewtie I owe, & loue I beare, both to trewe doctrine, and honest liuing, though I haue no authoritie to amend the sore my selfe, yet I will declare my good will, to discouer the sore to others.
S. Paul saith, that sectes and ill opinions, be the workes of the flesh, and frutes of sinne, this is spoken, no more trewlie for the doctrine, than sensiblie for the reason. And why? For, ill doinges, bréed ill thinkinges. And of corrupted maners, spryng peruersed iudgementes. And how? there be in man two speciall thinges: Mans will, mans mynde. Where will inclineth to goodnes, the mynde is bent to troth: Where will is caried from goodnes to vanitie, the mynde is sone drawne from troth to false opinion. And so, the readiest way to entangle the mynde with false doctrine, is first to intice the will to wanton liuyng.
Effeminate actio repels him (Quintilain) Inst. 4.2.390: 'They bend their voices and incline their necks and flail their arms against their sides and act sext (lasciviunt) in their whole style of subject matter, words and composition; finally, what is like a monstrosity (monstro), the actio pleases, while the case is not intelligible.' (Amy Richlin)
Compare: Jonson, Cynthia's Revels - Crites censures Amorphus (the Deformed ) and his crew of courtly revellers.
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-boadPaste-board Case,
And no one saw the motion, but the motion.
Well, check thy passion, lest it grow too lowd:
‘Finally, Biester points out that neoclassical authors in the seventeenth century, embracing Longinus’s notion of the sublime, continued to see wonder as the legitimate end for poetry, even as they were dismissing Donne and his version of the admirable style. In fact, they resuscitated a criticism of that style that went back to the Greek rhetorical tradition, rejecting it as extreme and sophistical, as creating monsters rather than genuine works of art.’
Amy Richlin con't - In an extended passage (2.5.10-12), he [Quintilian] complains that 'corrupt and vice-filled ways of speaking' (corruptas et vitiosas orationes) find popular favour out of the moral degradation of their audience; they are full of what is 'improper, obscure, swollen, vulgar, dirty, sext, effeminate' (impropria, obscura, tumida, huilis, sordida, lasciva, effeminate). And they are praised precisely because they are 'perverse' (prava). Instead of speech that is 'straight' (rectus) and 'natural' (secundum naturam), people like waht is 'bent' (deflexa). He concludes with a lengthy analogy between the taste for such speech and admiration for bodies that are 'twisted' (distortis) and 'monstrous' (prodigiosis) - even those that have been 'depilated and smoothed', adorned with curled hair and cosmetic, rather than deriving their beauty from 'uncorrupted nature' (incorrupta natura). 'The result is that is seems that beauty of the body comes from bad morals.'
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel;
Bartholomew Fair: Jonson
T H E I N D u C T I O N
O N T H E
S T A G E.
It is further covenanted, concluded and agreed, That how great soever the expectation be, no Person here is to expect more than he knows, or better Ware than a Fair will afford: neither to look back to the Sword and Buckler-age of Smithfield, but content himself with the present. Instead of a little Davy, to take Toll o' the Bawds, the Author doth promise a strutting Horse-courser, with a leer-Drunkard, two or three to attend him, in as good Equipage as you would wish. And then for Kind- heart, the Tooth-drawer, a fine Oily Pig-woman with her Tapster, to bid you welcome, and a Consort of Roarers for Musick. A wise Justice of Peace meditant, instead of a Jugler, with an Ape. A civil Cutpurse searchant. A sweet Singer of new Ballads allurant: and as fresh an Hypocrite, as ever was broach'd, rampant. If there be never a Servant-monster i' the Fair, who can help it, he says, nor a Nest of Antiques? He is loth to MAKE NA-TURE AFRAID in his Plays, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries, to mix his Head with other Mens Heels; let the concupiscence of Jigs and Dances, reign as strong as it will amongst you: yet if the Puppets will please any body, they shall be entreated tocome in.
In his _Discoveries_, in a discussion of the 'difference in wits' (remember Shakespeare's inability to self-regulate and limit/bound/rule his wit), Jonson speaks against reckless artificers who 'make nature afraid', producing unnatural forms and ideas such as those criticized by Horace in his Ars Poetica.
(In the difference of wits, note 10)
Not. 10.--It cannot but come to pass that these men who commonly seek to do more than enough may sometimes happen on something that is good and great; but very seldom: and when it comes it doth not recompense the rest of their ill. For their jests, and their sentences (which they only and ambitiously seek for) stick out, and are more eminent, because all is sordid and vile about them; as lights are more discerned in a thick darkness than a faint shadow. Now, because they speak all they can (however unfitly), they are thought to have the greater copy; where the learned use ever election and a mean, they look back to what they intended at first, and make all an even and proportioned body.
The [bad] body stands both by metonymy and synecdoche for the kind of speech that Quintilian rejects; bad speech is both like such bodies and produced by such bodies (Richlin).)
The true artificer will not run away from NATURE as he were AFRAID of her, or depart from life and the likeness of truth, but speak to the capacity of his hearers. And though his language differ from the vulgar somewhat, it shall not fly from all humanity, with the Tamerlanes and Tamerchains of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant gapers. He knows it is his only art so to carry it, as none but artificers perceive it. In the meantime, perhaps, he is called barren, dull, lean, a poor writer, or by what contumelious word can come in their cheeks, by these men who, without labour, judgment, knowledge, or almost sense, are received or preferred before him. He gratulates them and their fortune. Another age, or juster men, will acknowledge the virtues of his studies, his wisdom in dividing, his subtlety in arguing, with what strength he doth inspire his readers, with what sweetness he strokes them; in inveighing, what sharpness; in jest, what urbanity he uses; how he doth reign in men's affections; how invade and break in upon them, and makes their minds like the thing he writes. Then in his elocution to behold what word is proper, which hath ornaments, which height, what is beautifully translated, where figures are fit, which gentle, which strong, to show the composition manly; and how he hath avoided faint, obscure, obscene, sordid, humble, improper, or effeminate phrase; which is not only praised of the most, but commended (which is worse), especially for that it is naught.
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.
From Alan H Nelson, Monstrous Adversary
The 1615 edition of Stow's _Annales_ reported (for the first time in print) that on his return from Italy, Oxford affected a new stylishness of dress (p. 868):
Milloners, or Haberdashers had not then any gloves Imbroydered, or trimmed with Gold, or Silke, neither Gold nor Imbroydered Girdles and Hangers, neyther could they make any costly wash or perfume, until about the fourteenth or fifteenth yeare of the Queene the right hounourable Edward de Vere, Earle of Oxford: came from Italy, and brought with him Gloves: sweete bagges, a perfumed leather Jerkin, and other plesant thinges, and that yeere the Queene had a payre of perfumed Gloves trimmed onely with foure Tuftes or Roses, of cullered Silke, the Queene took such pleasurer in those Gloves, that shee was pictures with those Gloves upon her hands, and for many yeeres after it was called the Earle of Oxfords perfume.
Oxford's contemporaries believed that Italy had effeminized him.(p.229)
Richlin con't - The bad body, in Quintilian's book, is that elsewhere associated with the cinaedus [catamite]; bad speech is effeminata, good speech is 'straight' and natural, tallying with the common assertion that the actions of the cinaedus are 'against nature'. The effeminate body stands both by metonymy and synecdoche for the kind of speech that Quintilian rejects; bad speech is both like such bodies and produced by such bodies.
CXIV. On Style as a Mirror of Character1.
You have been asking me why, during certain periods, a degenerate style of speech comes to the fore, and how it is that men's wits have gone downhill into certain vices – in such a way that exposition at one time has taken on a kind of puffed-up strength, and at another has become mincing and modulated like the music of a concert piece. You wonder why sometimes bold ideas – bolder than one could believe – have been held in favour, and why at other times one meets with phrases that are disconnected and full of innuendo, into which one must read more meaning than was intended to meet the ear. Or why there have been epochs which maintained the right to a shameless use of metaphor. For answer, here is a phrase which you are wont to notice in the popular speech – one which the Greeks have made into a proverb: "Man's speech is just like his life." 2. Exactly as each individual man's actions seem to speak, so people's style of speaking often reproduces the general character of the time, if the morale of the public has relaxed and has given itself over to effeminacy. Wantonness in speech is proof of public luxury, if it is popular and fashionable, and not confined to one or two individual instances. 3. A man's ability cannot possibly be of one sort and his soul of another. If his soul be wholesome, well-ordered, serious, and restrained, his ability also is sound and sober. Conversely, when the one degenerates, the other is also contaminated. Do you not see that if a man's soul has become sluggish, his limbs drag and his feet move indolently? If it is womanish, that one can detect the effeminacy by his very gait? That a keen and confident soul quickens the step? That madness in the soul, or anger (which resembles madness), hastens our bodily movements from walking to rushing?
Euphues - witty, graceful
Ascham, The Scholemaster (1570)
E V E R Y M A N
H U M O U R.
P R O L O G U E.
THough 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 ComOEdy 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.
According to Gabriel Harvey in Speculum Tuscanismi, Edward de Vere was possessed of 'all gallant virtues':
Every Man in His Humor by Ben Jonson
Cob. Humour! mack, I think it be so indeed; what is that humour? some rare thing, I warrant.
Cash. Marry I'll tell thee, Cob: it is a gentlemanlike monster, bred in the special gallantry of our time, by affectation; and fed by folly.
Cob. How! must it be fed?
Cash. Oh ay, humour is nothing if it be not fed: didst thou never hear that? it's a common phrase, feed my humour.
Cob. I'll none on it: humour, avaunt! I know you not, be gone! let who will make hungry meals for your monstership, it shall not be I. Feed you, quoth he! 'slid, I have much ado to feed myself; especially on these lean rascally days too; an't had been any other day but a fasting-day--a plague on them all for me! By this light, one might have done the commonwealth good service, and have drown'd them all in the flood, two or three hundred thousand years ago. O, I do stomach them hugely. I have a maw now, and 'twere for sir Bevis his horse, against them.
Cicero (Brutus 325) identifies two distinct modes of the Asiatic style: a more studied and symmetrical style (generally taken to mean "full of Gorgianic figures") employed by the historian Timaeus and the orators Menecles and Hierocles of Alabanda, and the RAPID FLOW and ORNATE DICTION of Aeschines of Miletus and Aeschylus of Cnidus. Hegesias' "jerky, short clauses" may be placed in the first class, and Antiochus I of Commagene's Mount Nemrut inscription in the second. The conflation of the two styles under a single name has been taken to reflect the essentially polemical significance of the term: "The key similarity is that they are both EXTREME and therefore BAD; otherwise they could not be more different." According to Cicero, Quintus Hortensius combined these traditions and made them at home in Latin oratory.
All men are BAD - style as the mirror of character:
Shakespeare 'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
When not to be receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost which is so deem'd
Not by our feeling but by others' seeing:
For why should others false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count BAD what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are BAD, and in their BADNESS reign.
But I am affraide, that ouer many of our trauelers into Italie, do not exchewe the way to Circes Court: but go, and ryde, and runne, and flie thether, they make great hast to cum to her: they make great sute to serue her: yea, I could point out some with my finger, that neuer had gone out of England, but onelie to serue Circes, in Italie. Uanitie and vice, and any licence to ill liuyng in England was counted stale and rude vnto them. And so, beyng Mules and Horses before they went, returned verie Swyne and Asses home agayne: yet euerie where verie Foxes with sutlie and busie heades: and where they may, verie wolues, with cruell malicious hartes. A meruelous monster, which, for filthines of liuyng, for dulnes to learning him selfe, for wilinesse in dealing with others, for malice in hurting without cause, should carie at once in one bodie, the belie of a Swyne, the head of an Asse, the brayne of a Foxe, the wombe of a wolfe. If you thinke, we iudge amisse, and write to sore against you, heare, what the Italian sayth of the English man, what the master reporteth of the scholer: who vttereth playnlie, what is taught by him, and what is learned by you, saying, Englese Italianato, e vn diabolo incarnato, that is to say, you remaine men in shape and facion, but becum deuils in life and condition. This is not, the opinion of one, for some priuate spite, but the iudgement of all, in a common Prouerbe, which riseth, of that learnyng, and those maners, which you gather in Italie:
English Broadside - "When Charles, hath got the Spanish Gearle"
(Notes. Versions of this detailed poem on politics in the early 1620s
differ considerably in length, and it seems likely that extra verses
were added by different hands in the course of the poem's
circulation. In one source it is dated "March 1621" (Bodleian MS
Eng. Poet. c.50)
Greate Edward his is Nowe in print
& thinks to get the divell & all
The Spanish gould come to our minte
then thats the day shall pay for all
Richlin con't... Other aspects of actio also come in for regulation. It is important to be careful about your eye movements; your eyes should not be 'sexy' (lascivi) and mobile, swimming and suffused with a certain kind of pleasure, or giving sidelong glances (limi) and, if I might say, venereal (venerei), or asking or promising anything' (Inst. 11.3.76; cf. Cic. Orat. 60). In a discussion of vitia in hand gestures, Quintilian quotes Cicero, who rules out 'cleverness of the fingers' but approves of a 'manly bending of the sides' (Inst. 11.3.122, cf Cic. Orat. 59). The speaker even has to be careful about where he walks: approaching the opponents bench is 'not quite chaste' (parum verecundum, Inst. 11.3.133). http://books.google.ca/books?id=9GLgyTvxeGcC&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=haterius+full+of+the+god&source=bl&ots=_Pq40tvTb5&sig=PLeSKa6UW6Az6_LQuF0OMMwMtWY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UU8IUZfUMIXyigLnjoGQBw&sqi=2&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=haterius%20full%20of%20the%20god&f=false
...And again, arguing that orators need not study all the nuances of gestus (11.3.181-4), he suggests that actio 'should be moderated, lest while we strive for the elegance of an actor, we lose the auctoritas of the good and grave man.
Harvey, Speculum Tuscanism:
In deed most frivolous, not a look but Tuscanish always.
His cringing side neck, eyes glancing, fisnamy smirking,
With forefinger kiss, and brave embrace to the footward.
Compounds of wisdom, wit, prowess, bounty, behavior,
All gallant virtues, all qualities of body and soul.
O thrice ten hundred thousand times blessed and happy,
Blessed and happy travail, Travailer most blessed and happy.
"Tell me in good sooth, doth it not too evidently appear
that this English poet wanted but a good pattern before his eyes,
as it might be some delicate and choice elegant Poesy
of good Master Sidney's or Master Dyer's
(our very Castor and Pollux for such and many greater matters)
when this trim gear was in the matching?"
William Cartwright (a son of Ben):
The Ordinarie (1635?)
'TWould wrong our Author to bespeake your Eares;
Your Persons he adores, but Judgement feares:
For where you please but to dislike, he shall
Be Atheist thought, that worships not his Fall.
Next to not marking, 'tis his hope that you
Who can so ably judge, can pardon too.
His Conversation will not yet supply
Follies enough to make a Comedy;
He cannot write by th' Poll; nor Act we here
Scenes, which perhaps you should see liv'd elsewhere;
No guilty line traduceth any; all
We now present is but conjecturall;
'Tis a meere ghesse: Those then will be too blame,
Who make that Person, which he meant but Name.
That web of Manners which the Stage requires,
That masse of Humors which Poetique Fires
Take in, and boyle, and purge, and try, and then
With sublimated follies cheat those men
That first did vent them, are not yet his Art,
But as drown'd Islands, or the World's fifth Part
Lye undiscover'd; and he only knows
Enough to make himselfe ridiculous.
Think then, if here you find nought can delight,
He hath not yet seen Vice enough to Write.
ACT. I. SCEN. 3.
Heare-say, Meanewell, Andrew.
Andrew: GOd save you Tutors both.
Meanewell: Fie Andrew, fie;
What kisse your hand? you smell, not complement.
Besides, you come too near when you salute.
Your breath may be discover'd; and you give
Advantage unto him you thus accoast
To shake you by the hand, which often doth
Endanger the whole arme. Your Gallant's like
The Chrystall glasse, brittle; rude handling crackes him.
To be saluted so were to be wounded.
His parts would fall asunder like unto
Spilt Quicksilver; an Eare, an Eye, a Nose
Would drop like Summer fruit from shaken Trees.
For the same reason I'd not have you dance.
Some Courtiers, I confesse, doe use it; but
They are the sounder sort, those foolish ones
That have a care of health, which you shall not
If you'l be rul'd by me. The hazard's great,
'Tis an adventure, an exploit, a piece
Of service for a Gentleman to caper.
A Gallant's like a Leg of Mutton, boyl'd
By a Spanish Cooke; take him but by the one End
And shake him, all the flesh fals from the bones,
And leaves them bare immediately.
Not be a leg of Mutton here.
In France a Monsieur, only in the Cutting
Of one crosse Caper, Rise a man, and come
Downe, to th' amazement of the standers by,
A true extemporary Skeleton;
And was strait read on.
Sure this man,
Good Tutor, was quite rotten.
See how you
Betray your breeding now! quite rotten! 'tis
Rottennesse perhaps in Footmen, or in Yeomen,
'Tis tendernesse in Gentlemen; They are
A little over-boyl'd, or so.
ACT. I. SCEN. IV.
(Note - education of Town-wits, Gallants, Courtiers vs. education at university/scholarly types - Cartwright a university don.)
To Hearsay, enter Slicer and Credulous.
SIr let me tell you this is not the least
Of things wherein your wisedome shewes it self,
In that you've plac'd your Son in this good sort.
Nay nay, let me alone to give him breeding;
I did not hold the University·
Fit for the training up of such a Spirit.
The University? 't had been the only way
T' have took him off his courage, and his mettal,
He had return'd as Slaves doe from the Gallies,
A naked shorn thing with a thin dockt top,
Learnedly cut into a Logick mode.
A private Oath given him at first Entrance
Had sworn him Pilgrim unto Conventicles;
Engag'd him to the hate of all, but what
Pleaseth the stubborn froward Elect.
Following another Modell doe allow
Freedome and courage, cherish and maintaine
High noble thoughts---
Set nature free, and are
Chymists of manners---
Do instruct of States---
DISCOVERIES MADE UPON MEN AND MATTER
De corruptela morum. - There cannot be one colour of the MIND, another of the wit. If the MIND be staid, grave, and composed, the wit is so; that vitiated, the other is blown and deflowered. Do we not see, if the MIND languish, the members are dull? Look upon an EFFEMINATE person, his very gait confesseth him. If a man be fiery, his motion is so; if angry, it is troubled and violent. So that we may conclude wheresoever MANNERS and FASHIONS are corrupted, language is. It imitates the public riot. The excess of feasts and apparel are the notes of a sick state, and the wantonness of language of a SICK MIND.
From 'Remapping Elizabethan Court Poetry', in _The Anatomy of Tudor Literature_ - Jonathan Gibson
...In his 'private' texts, Sidney seems to have been writing a different type of literature. Both the Old Arcadia and Astrophil and Stella can be read as dramatised inquiries into the ethics of courtier poetry. The Old Arcadia was probably started when Sidney was in 'exile' from Court following his row with Oxford. Astrophil and Stella, on the other hand, written a few years later, seems to have functioned as a sort of internalised escape from courtly discourse. The Old Arcadia began life, apparently, as a fictional frame for originally freestanding lyrics. Responding, I think to the amoral opportunism of the Oxfordian 'new lyrical' poetic (and perhaps to his own implication in it, too), Sidney used his fictional narrative to probe with infinite delicacy the morality of Elizabethan 'courtiership' (Bates, 1992, pp.110-33). Astrophil and Stella takes things a stage further, innovatively building an ethically problematic 'framing narrative' inside its poems. Meanwhile, the Defence of Poetry provided a mimetic, ethical theory of literature diametrically opposed to the 'utilitarian poetics' (May, 1991, p.103) of Oxford, Ralegh, Gorges, and Watson, criticising both Watson and Oxford's client Lyly fairly openly (Duncan- Jones, 1991, pp.237-8) Sidney's formal innovations in Astrophil and Stella constitue a brilliant challenge to 'Oxfordian' practice. Sidney's stress on originality has long been taken to imply criticism of Watson. Equally 'anti-Oxfordian', however, is his anti-Surrey' use of an interlaced rhyme-scheme, his free enjambment and his use of numerology as a structuring principle.
Every Man in his Humour - Ben Jonson
Your turn, coz! do you know what you say? A gentleman
of your sorts, parts, carriage, and estimation, to talk of your
turn in this company, and to me alone, like a tankard-bearer
at a conduit! fie! A wight that, hitherto, his every step
hath left the stamp of a great foot behind him, as every word
the savour of a strong spirit, and he! this man! so graced, gilded,
or, to use a more fit metaphor, so tinfoild by nature, as not ten
housewives' pewter, again a good time, shews more bright to the
world than he! and he! (as I said last, so I say again, and still
shall say it) this man! to conceal such real ornaments as these,
and shadow their glory, as a milliner's wife does her wrought
stomacher, with a smoaky lawn, or a black cyprus! O, coz! it cannot
be answered; go not about it: Drake's old ship at Deptford may
sooner circle the world again.Come, wrong not the quality of your
desert, with looking downward, coz; but hold up your head, so: and
let the IDEA of what you are be portrayed in your face, that men
may read in your physnomy, here within this place is to be seen the
true, rare, and accomplished monster, or miracle of nature, which
is all one. What think you of this, coz?
Idea - form, figure
Figure - (this Figure thou seest here put) - printed character
Figure - appearance made : impression produced
Cicero - The Face is the Index of the Mind
Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature
(ed. William J Dominik)
Style and Gender in Public Performance
...Considering how the forum served as the locus of the boy's transition to manhood, it is not surprising that the content of Roman oratory includes a consistent strain of invective in which rival orators impugn each other's masculinity. But these gender terms were also applied by Roman theorists to literary style itself. The logical link seems to be the principle talis oratio qualis vita (Seneca, Epistles 114.1): a man's style indicates his morals, and his morals will affect the way he speaks.
P R O L O G U E., Cynthia's Revels, Jonson
IF gracious silence, sweet attention,
Quick sight, and quicker apprehension,
(The lights of Judgments throne) shine any where;
Our doubtful Author hopes this is their Sphere.
And therefore opens he himself to those;
To other weaker Beams his labours close:
As loth to prostitute their Virgin strain,
To ev'ry vulgar and adult'rate Brain,
In this alone, his Muse her sweetness hath,
She shuns the print of any beaten Path;
And proves new ways to come to learned Ears:
Pied ignorance she neither loves nor, fears.
Nor hunts she after popular Applause,
Or fomy praise, that drops from common Jaws:
The Garland that she wears, their bands must twine,
Who can both censure, understand, define
What merit is: 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
Letter 114. On style as a mirror of character
CXIV. On Style as a Mirror of Character1. You have been asking me why, during certain periods, a degenerate style of speech comes to the fore, and how it is that men's wits have gone downhill into certain vices – in such a way that exposition at one time has taken on a kind of puffed-up strength, and at another has become mincing and modulated like the music of a concert piece. You wonder why sometimes bold ideas – bolder than one could believe – have been held in favour, and why at other times one meets with phrases that are disconnected and full of innuendo, into which one must read more meaning than was intended to meet the ear. Or why there have been epochs which maintained the right to a shameless use of metaphor. For answer, here is a phrase which you are wont to notice in the popular speech – one which the Greeks have made into a proverb: "Man's speech is just like his life." 2. Exactly as each individual man's actions seem to speak, so people's style of speaking often reproduces the general character of the time, if the morale of the public has relaxed and has given itself over to effeminacy. Wantonness in speech is proof of public luxury, if it is popular and fashionable, and not confined to one or two individual instances. 3. A man's ability cannot possibly be of one sort and his soul of another. If his soul be wholesome, well-ordered, serious, and restrained, his ability also is sound and sober. Conversely, when the one degenerates, the other is also contaminated. Do you not see that if a man's soul has become sluggish, his limbs drag and his feet move indolently? If it is womanish, that one can detect the effeminacy by his very gait? That a keen and confident soul quickens the step? That madness in the soul, or anger (which resembles madness), hastens our bodily movements from walking to rushing?
And how much more do you think that this affects one's ability, which is entirely interwoven with the soul, – being moulded thereby, obeying its commands, and deriving therefrom its laws! 4. How Maecenas lived is too well-known for present comment. We know how he walked, how effeminate he was, and how he desired to display himself; also, how unwilling he was that his vices should escape notice. What, then? Does not the looseness of his speech match his ungirt attire? Are his habits, his attendants, his house, his wife, any less clearly marked than his words? He would have been a man of great powers, had he set himself to his task by a straight path, had he not shrunk from making himself understood, had he not been so loose in his style of speech also. You will therefore see that his eloquence was that of an intoxicated man – twisting, turning, unlimited in its slackness.
5. What is more unbecoming than the words: "A stream and a bank covered with long-tressed woods"? And see how "men plough the channel with boats and, turning up the shallows, leave gardens behind them." Or, "He curls his lady-locks, and bills and coos, and starts a-sighing, like a forest lord who offers prayers with down-bent neck." Or, "An unregenerate crew, they search out people at feasts, and assail households with the wine-cup, and, by hope, exact death." Or, "A Genius could hardly bear witness to his own festival"; or "threads of tiny tapers and crackling meal"; "mothers or wives clothing the hearth."
6. Can you not at once imagine, on reading through these words, that this was the man who always paraded through the city with a flowing tunic? For even if he was discharging the absent emperor's duties, he was always in undress when they asked him for the countersign. Or that this was the man who, as judge on the bench, or as an orator, or at any public function, appeared with his cloak wrapped about his head, leaving only the ears exposed,  like the millionaire's runaway slaves in the farce? Or that this was the man who, at the very time when the state was embroiled in civil strife, when the city was in difficulties and under martial law, was attended in public by two eunuchs – both of them more men than himself? Or that this was the man who had but one wife, and yet was married countless times? 7. These words of his, put together so faultily, thrown off so carelessly, and arranged in such marked contrast to the usual practice, declare that the character of their writer was equally unusual, unsound, and eccentric. To be sure, we bestow upon him the highest praise for his humanity; he was sparing with the sword and refrained from bloodshed; and he made a show of his power only in the course of his loose living; but he spoiled, by such preposterous finickiness of style, this genuine praise, which was his due. 8. For it is evident that he was not really gentle, but effeminate, as is proved by his misleading word-order, his inverted expressions, and the surprising thoughts which frequently contain something great, but in finding expression have become nerveless. One would say that his head was turned by too great success.
This fault is due sometimes to the man, and sometimes to his epoch. 9. When prosperity has spread luxury far and wide, men begin by paying closer attention to their personal appearance. Then they go crazy over furniture. Next, they devote attention to their houses – how to take up more space with them, as if they were country-houses, how to make the walls glitter with marble that has been imported over seas, how to adorn a roof with gold, so that it may match the brightness of the inlaid floors. After that, they transfer their exquisite taste to the dinner-table, attempting to court approval by novelty and by departures from the customary order of dishes, so that the courses which we are accustomed to serve at the end of the meal may be served first, and so that the departing guests may partake of the kind of food which in former days was set before them on their arrival.
10. When the mind has acquired the habit of scorning the usual things of life, and regarding as mean that which was once customary, it begins to hunt for novelties in speech also; now it summons and displays obsolete and old-fashioned words; now it coins even unknown words or misshapes them; and now a bold and frequent metaphorical usage is made a special feature of style, according to the fashion which has just become prevalent. 11. Some cut the thoughts short, hoping to make a good impression by leaving the meaning in doubt and causing the hearer to suspect his own lack of wit. Some dwell upon them and lengthen them out. Others, too, approach just short of a fault – for a man must really do this if he hopes to attain an imposing effect – but actually love the fault for its own sake. In short, whenever you notice that a degenerate style pleases the critics, you may be sure that character also has deviated from the right standard.
Just as luxurious banquets and elaborate dress are indications of disease in the state, similarly a lax style, if it be popular, shows that the mind (which is the source of the word) has lost its balance. Indeed you ought not to wonder that corrupt speech is welcomed not merely by the more squalid mob but also by our more cultured throng; for it is only in their dress and not in their judgments that they differ. 12. You may rather wonder that not only the effects of vices, but even vices themselves, meet with approval. For it has ever been thus: no man's ability has ever been approved without something being pardoned. Show me any man, however famous; I can tell you what it was that his age forgave in him, and what it was that his age purposely overlooked. I can show you many men whose vices have caused them no harm, and not a few who have been even helped by these vices. Yes, I will show you persons of the highest reputation, set up as models for our admiration; and yet if you seek to correct their errors, you destroy them; for vices are so intertwined with virtues that they drag the virtues along with them. 13. Moreover, style has no fixed laws; it is changed by the usage of the people, never the same for any length of time. Many orators hark back to earlier epochs for their vocabulary, speaking in the language of the Twelve Tables. Gracchus, Crassus, and Curio, in their eyes, are too refined and too modern; so back to Appius and Coruncanius! Conversely, certain men, in their endeavour to maintain nothing but well-worn and common usages, fall into a humdrum style. 14. These two classes, each in its own way, are degenerate; and it is no less degenerate to use no words except those which are conspicuous, high-sounding, and poetical, avoiding what is familiar and in ordinary usage. One is, I believe, as faulty as the other: the one class are unreasonably elaborate, the other are unreasonably negligent; the former depilate the leg, the latter not even the armpit.
15. Let us now turn to the arrangement of words. In this department, what countless varieties of fault I can show you! Some are all for abruptness and unevenness of style, purposely disarranging anything which seems to have a smooth flow of language. They would have jolts in all their transitions; they regard as strong and manly whatever makes an uneven impression on the ear. With some others it is not so much an "arrangement" of words as it is a setting to music; so wheedling and soft is their gliding style. 16. And what shall I say of that arrangement in which words are put off and, after being long waited for, just manage to come in at the end of a period? Or again of that softly-concluding style, Cicero-fashion, with a gradual and gently poised descent always the same and always with the customary arrangement of the rhythm! Nor is the fault only in the style of the sentences, if they are either petty and childish, or debasing, with more daring than modesty should allow, or if they are flowery and cloying, or if they end in emptiness, accomplishing mere sound and nothing more.
17. Some individual makes these vices fashionable – some person who controls the eloquence of the day; the rest follow his lead and communicate the habit to each other. Thus when Sallust was in his glory, phrases were lopped off, words came to a close unexpectedly, and obscure conciseness was equivalent to elegance. L. Arruntius, a man of rare simplicity, author of a historical work on the Punic War, was a member and a strong supporter of the Sallust school. There is a phrase in Sallust: exercitum argento fecit, meaning thereby that he recruited an army by means of money. Arruntius began to like this idea; he therefore inserted the verb facio all through his book. Hence, in one passage, fugam nostris fecere; in another, Hiero, rex Syracusanorum, bellum fecit; and in another, quae audita Panhormitanos dedere Romanis fecere. 18. I merely desired to give you a taste; his whole book is interwoven with such stuff as this. What Sallust reserved for occasional use, Arruntius makes into a frequent and almost continual habit – and there was a reason: for Sallust used the words as they occurred to his mind, while the other writer went afield in search of them. So you see the results of copying another man's vices. 19. Again, Sallust said: aquis hiemantibus. Arruntius, in his first book on the Punic War, uses the words: repente hiemavit tempestas. And elsewhere, wishing to describe an exceptionally cold year, he says: lotus hiemavit annus. And in another passage: inde sexaginta onerarias leves praeter militem et necessarios nautarum hiemante aquilone misit; and he continues to bolster many passages with this metaphor. In a certain place, Sallust gives the words: inter arma civilia aequi bonique famas petit; and Arruntius cannot restrain himself from mentioning at once, in the first book, that there were extensive "reminders" concerning Regulus.
20. These and similar faults, which imitation stamps upon one's style, are not necessarily indications of loose standards or of debased mind; for they are bound to be personal and peculiar to the writer, enabling one to judge thereby of a particular author's temperament; just as an angry man will talk in an angry way, an excitable man in a flurried way, and an effeminate man in a style that is soft and unresisting. 21. You note this tendency in those who pluck out, or thin out, their beards, or who closely shear and shave the upper lip while preserving the rest of the hair and allowing it to grow, or in those who wear cloaks of outlandish colours, who wear transparent togas, and who never deign to do anything which will escape general notice; they endeavour to excite and attract men's attention, and they put up even with censure, provided that they can advertise themselves. That is the style of Maecenas and all the others who stray from the path, not by hazard, but consciously and voluntarily. 22. This is the result of great evil in the soul. As in the case of drink, the tongue does not trip until the mind is overcome beneath its load and gives way or betrays itself; so that intoxication of style – for what else than this can I call it? – never gives trouble to anyone unless the soul begins to totter. Therefore, I say, take care of the soul; for from the soul issue our thoughts, from the soul our words, from the soul our dispositions, our expressions, and our very gait. When the soul is sound and strong, the style too is vigorous, energetic, manly; but if the soul lose its balance, down comes all the rest in ruins.
23. If but the king be safe, your swarm will live
Harmonious; if he die, the bees revolt.
The soul is our king. If it be safe, the other functions remain on duty and serve with obedience; but the slightest lack of equilibrium in the soul causes them to waver along with it. And when the soul has yielded to pleasure, its functions and actions grow weak, and any undertaking comes from a nerveless and unsteady source. 24. To persist in my use of this simile – our soul is at one time a king, at another a tyrant. The king, in that he respects things honourable, watches over the welfare of the body which is entrusted to his charge, and gives that body no base, no ignoble commands. But an uncontrolled, passionate, and effeminate soul changes kingship into that most dread and detestable quality – tyranny; then it becomes a prey to the uncontrolled emotions, which dog its steps, elated at first, to be sure, like a populace idly sated with a largess which will ultimately be its undoing, and spoiling what it cannot consume. 25. But when the disease has gradually eaten away the strength, and luxurious habits have penetrated the marrow and the sinews, such a soul exults at the sight of limbs which, through its overindulgence, it has made useless; instead of its own pleasures, it views those of others; it becomes the go-between and witness of the passions which, as the result of self-gratification, it can no longer feel. Abundance of delights is not so pleasing a thing to that soul as it is bitter, because it cannot send all the dainties of yore down through the over-worked throat and stomach, because it can no longer whirl in the maze of eunuchs and mistresses, and it is melancholy because a great part of its happiness is shut off, through the limitations of the body.
26. Now is it not madness, Lucilius, for none of us to reflect that he is mortal? Or frail? Or again that he is but one individual? Look at our kitchens, and the cooks, who bustle about over so many fires; is it, think you, for a single belly that all this bustle and preparation of food takes place? Look at the old brands of wine and store-houses filled with the vintages of many ages; is it, think you, a single belly that is to receive the stored wine, sealed with the names of so many consuls, and gathered from so many vineyards? Look, and mark in how many regions men plough the earth, and how many thousands of farmers are tilling and digging; is it, think you, for a single belly that crops are planted in Sicily and Africa? 27. We should be sensible, and our wants more reasonable, if each of us were to take stock of himself, and to measure his bodily needs also, and understand how little he can consume, and for how short a time! But nothing will give you so much help toward moderation as the frequent thought that life is short and uncertain here below; whatever you are doing, have regard to death. Farewell.
Gabriel Harvey on Oxford - Speculum Tuscanismi
Delicate in speech, quaint in array: conceited in all points,
In Courtly guiles a passing singular odd man...
**********************************Author: Prynne, William, 1600-1669.
Title: The vnlouelinesse, of loue-lockes.
The Minor is most cleare and euident, by its owne light: For is not this a Badge, a Note, or Ensigne of Wilfull, Factious, and Affected Singularitie, (and so of Pride, and Selfe-conceit, which are the Nurse, and Mother of it:) for some few particular, or priuate Guiddy, Braine-sicke, Humourous, Vaine-glorious, and Fantastique Spirits, to introduce a new-fangled Guise and Fashion, of nourishing and wearing Loue-lockes, without any publike warrant, or allowance; contrary to the Manner, Custome, Vse, and Tonsure of our owne, or other Ciuill, Graue, Religious, Wise, and Pudent Naions: that so they may diffrence, distinguish, and diuide themselues from others of the common ranke and Cut, as if they were ashamed of their natiue Countrey:they were descended from some other Nation, or Gouerned by some other Customes, Lawes, or Constitutions, then others of their Countrey-men, Fellowes, Kindred, Neighbours, and Companions are? Certainely, if this bee not Affected, Grosse, and Wilfull Singularitie, there is no such thing as Singularitie, or breach of Ciuill societie in the World. This Martiall, and Tertullian knew: whence, they condemne such for Singular, and Fantastique persons, who varied from the cut and Tonsure of their Countrey, as their authorities in the Margent testifie: It was noted as a point of Shamelesnesse, and Singularitie in Nero, though an Emperour; that hee oftentimes wore his Haire combed backeward into his poll, in an affected, and ouer curious manner, after the Greeke fashion: If this were Effeminacy, and Singularitie in a Roman Emperour, much more are Loue-lockes, in our French-English Subiects.
Beautie is no helpe nor furtherance, but a great impediment vnto chastitie: therefore this studious affectation of it, and inquirie after it, proceeds not from a continent or chast affection, but from a Lasciuious, Lustfull, and Adulterous Heart: and so it cannot but be euill. Secondly, it must needes bee euill, because it flowes as from an Effeminate, and Vnchast, so likewise from a Proud, Vaineglorious, Carnall, Worldly, and selfe-seeking Spirit, which aymes not at Gods glory, nor at its owne, or others good and welfare: There are none who seeke an artificiall Comelinesse, or transcendent Beautie, by altering, Colouring, Crisping, or adorning of their Heads, or Haire, or by any such like meanes, but doe it out of an inward, and secret pride of Heart,of purpose to be proud, and blesse themselues, (as fond Narcissus did of old, and many idle Christians now, who make their Haire, and Face their Idoles:) in their owne Beauties, Skinnes, and Shadowes: and to Deifie, or Adore themselues, their Haire, their Heads, and Faces, like so many pettie Gods: Or else they doe it to winne respect and praise, from Carnall, Gracelesse, and iniudicious persons, by seeming more Beautifull, and Louely to their sensuall eyes, then in themselues they are. Or out of a Worldly, Carnall, and selfe-seeking Heart, to please themselues, & others: to conforme themselues vnto the guise, and sinfull customes of the World, and Times, which Christians haue renounced in their Baptisme: or to pamper, humour, satisfie, and set out their proud, and sinfull flesh, (...)
C Y N T H I A 'S
R E V E L S,
The Fountain of Self-Love.
A COMICAL SATYR.
TO THE SPECIAL FOUNTAIN of MANNERS,
T 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.
Thy Servant, but not Slave,
Upon Ben: Johnson, the most excellent of Comick Poets.
Mirror of Poets! Mirror of our Age!
Which her whole Face beholding on thy stage,
Pleas'd and displeas'd with her owne faults endures,
A remedy, like Those whom Musicke cures,
Thou not alone those various inclinations,
Which Nature gives to Ages, Sexes, Nations,
Hast traced with thy All-resembling Pen,
But all that custome hath impos'd on Men,
Or ill-got Habits, which distort them so,
That scarce the Brother can the Brother know,
Is represented to the wondring Eyes,
Of all that see or read thy Comedies.
Whoever in those Glasses lookes may finde,
The spots return'd, or graces of his minde;
And by the helpe of so divine an Art,
At leisure view, and dresse his nobler part.
*NARCISSUS conzen'd by that flattering Well,
Which nothing could but of his beauty tell,
Had here discovering the DEFORM'D estate
Of his fond minde, preserv'd himselfe with hate*,
But Vertue too, as well as Vice is clad,
In flesh and blood so well, that Plato had
Beheld what his high Fancie once embrac'd,
Vertue with colour, speech and motion grac'd.
The sundry Postures of Thy copious Muse,
Who would expresse a thousand tongues must use,
Whose Fates no lesse peculiar then thy Art,
For as thou couldst all characters impart,
So none can render thine, who still escapes,
Like Proteus in variety of shapes,
Who was nor this nor that, but all we finde,
And all we can imagine in mankind.
‘Male deformities’: Narcissus and the Reformation of Courtly Manners in Cynthia’s Revels
in Ovid & the Renaissance Body
By Goran V Stanivukovic
...N this essay I want to pursue such an analysis by focusing on Ben Jonson’s early comedy Cynthia’s Revels (1600), which offers particular insight into the social and political implications of the Narcissus myth for early modern English culture. Originally entered in the Stationer’s Register as Narcissus, or the fountain of self-love, this quirky satire of courtly manners represents Jonson’s ‘only extended use of Ovidian material.: Jonson’s uncharacteristic recourse to Ovidian subjects in Cynthia’s Revels suggests his recognition of the Narcissus myth’s theatrical viability as a vehicle for satire. While Narcissus never appears as a character in the play, the Narcissus myth provides Jonson with vivid material for exposing the transgressive bodily practices of unauthorized courtiers, especially through the character of Amorphous (“THE DEFORMED”), whose affected manners violate orthodox prescriptions for male aristocratic comportment. The play’s ridicule of courtly affectation thus accords with early modern interpretations of the Narcissus myth that primarily associate self-love not with homoerotic desire but with EFFEMINATE MANNERS: a clear sign of social, economic and political transgression. By contrast, the virtuously ‘masculine’ comportment of the true gentleman, according to a particular strain of early modern political ideology, justifies his status and exercise of power. Exposing illegitimate courtiers as effeminate narcissists, Cynthia’s Revels reveals the importance of an ideology of ‘civilized’ masculinity to early-seventeenth-century constructions of *political legitimacy*.
Much Ado about Nothing - Shakespeare
[Aside] I know that Deformed; a' has been a vile
thief this seven year; a' goes up and down like a
gentleman: I remember his name.
Didst thou not hear somebody?
No; 'twas the vane on the house.
Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this
fashion is? how giddily a' turns about all the hot
bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty?
sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers
in the reeky painting, sometime like god Bel's
priests in the old church-window, sometime like the
shaven Hercules in the smirched worm-eaten tapestry,
where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?
Call up the right master constable. We have here
recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that
ever was known in the commonwealth.
And one Deformed is one of them: I know him; a'
wears a lock.
You'll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.