For what more difficult, more noble, or more magnificent task has anyone ever undertaken than our author Castiglione, who has drawn for us the FIGURE and MODEL of a courtier, a work to which nothing can be added, in which there is no redundant word, a portrait which we shall recognize as that of a highest and most perfect type of man. And so, although NATURE herself has made nothing perfect in every detail, yet THE MANNERS OF MEN exceed in dignity that with which NATURE has endowed them; and he who surpasses others has here surpassed himself and has even out-done nature, which by no one has ever been surpassed.
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.
Conceits, Clinches, Flashes and Whimzies (1639)
Again, Castiglione has vividly depicted more and even greater things than these. For who has spoken of princes with greater gravity? Who has discoursed of illustrious women with a more ample DIGNITY? No one has written of military affairs more eloquently, more aptly about horse-racing, and more clearly and admirably about encounters under arms on the field of battle. I will say nothing of the fitness and the excellence with which he has depicted the beauty of chivalry in the noblest persons. Nor will I refer to his delineations in the case of those persons who cannot be courtiers, when he alludes to some notable defect or to some ridiculous character, or to some deformity of appearance. Whatever is heard in the mouths of men in casual talk and in society, whether apt and candid or villainous and shameful, that he has set down in so natural a manner that it seems to be acted before our very eyes.
Fredrika H. Jacobs
Non so che, that indefinable something associated with aesthetic grace (grazia) and charming elegance (leggiadria), was the acknowledged essence of love and beauty. In I libri della famiglia Alberti describes non so che as a "certain something... which attracts men and makes them love one person more than another." Many later critics and theorists, including Lodovico Dolce, agreed. As Cropper, Sohm and other scholars have noted, Dolce's use of non so che may be understood as the ineffable beauty of Petrarch's Laura. Indeed, the indeterminate and unbounded nature of sensible beauty that is part and parcel of non so che is implicit in the term vaghezza, which is related to vagare, meaning to wander or move about without a specific destination. Equicola captures the essence of the allusive indeterminacy in his discussion of the visual apprehension of grazia. (note - Othello - extravagant (wandering) and wheeling stranger)
He begins by repeating the often noted observation that perfect beauty cannot be found in one place: "la singular grazia in una non ritrovarse." It is scattered and, therefore, must be collected and combined or reconstituted.
Because la perfetta bellezza cannot be found in one place, a man of total perfection ("uomo in tutta perfezzione") is a composite whole made of diverst parts. Danti explained the preferred compositional method advocated by Renaissance writers. Seeking the assistance of nature, the artist should "make use of various men, in each of whom some particular beauty is to be seen. And having taken this and that from this and from that man, they have composed their figures with more perfection than is possible in [nature].
The Case of Shakespeare:
...An entire study of the je-ne-sais-quois could be devoted to Shakespeare's plays. They dramatize its main themes, whether the ghostly apparition of an insensible force in nature, the stroke of a disastrous passion, or the super-subtle artifice of signs of quality; they show the characters who undergo such experiences attempting, with extraordinary sophistication, to come to terms with them; and, at such moments, forms of the English phrase 'I know not what' tend to appear. Shakespeare's place in the present study is marginal, since my criterion of inclusion was that a writer should occupy at least a potential place in the historical rise and fall of the je-ne-sais-quois (n.), and Shakespeare has no place in that history. He stands apart from it, a stranger on its threshold, while effortlessly revealing his mastery of its terms and themes. As with so many of the new approaches and theories that literary critics bring to his plays, one is left with the bardolatrous feeling that Shakespeare saw the whole thing first, that it was in fact he who dreamt up the je-ne-sais-quois.
A Midsummer Night's Dream exemplifies Shakespeare's mastery of the je-ne-sais-quois. A strange force of sympathy falls between certain individuals in the play. The characters discuss the nature of this force obsessively: some attempt to dispel, subdue, and explain it away; others sense that it is something really inexplicable and inexplicably real and, in saying so, they grasp at forms of the phrase 'I know not what'.
...For love, the play reveals, is the stuff of life: an I-know-not-what that appears and vanishes like a dream.
Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint ?
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart ?
Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint ?
Who first did paint with colors pale thy face ?
Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?
Above the rest in court who gave thee grace ?
Who made thee strive in honour to be best ?
In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
To scorn the world regarding but thy friends ?
With patient mind each passion to endure,
In one desire to settle to the end ?
Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,
As nought but death may ever change thy mind.
Finis. Earle of Oxenforde.
Although Dyer has been considered the premier Elizabethan courtier poet, that is, the first to compose love lyrics there, the available evidence confers this distinction upon the earl of Oxford. His early datable work conforms, nevertheless, to one of the established functions for poetry practiced by Ascham and Wilson. IN 1572, Oxford turned out commendatory verses for a translation of Cardano's _Comfort_, published in 1573 by his gentleman pensioner friend, Thomas Bedingfield. This poem differs from earlier efforts of the kind not so much because it appeared in English (as had Ascham's verses for Blundeville's book), but because his verses are so self-consciously poetic. The earl uses twenty-six lines to develop his formulaic exempla: Bedingfield's good efforts are enjoyed by others just as laborers, masons, bees, and so forth also work for the profit of others. 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.
DeVere's eight poems in the _Paradise_ create a dramatic break with everything known to have been written at the Elizabethan court at that time...The diversity of Oxford's subjects, including his varied analyses of the lover's state, were practically as unknown to contemporary out-of -court writer as they were to courtiers.
Oxford's birth and social standing at court in the 1570's made him a model of aristocratic behaviour. He was, for instance, accused of introducing Italian gloves and other such fripperies at court; his example would have lent respectability even to so trivial a pursuit as the writing of love poetry. Thus, while it is possible that Dyer was writing poetry as early as the 1560's, his earliest datable verse, the complaint sung to the queen at Woodstock in 1575, may itself have been inspired by Oxford's work in the same vein. Dyer's first six poems in Part II are the ones he is most likely to have composed before his association with Philip Sidney. ...Yet even if all six (of Dyer's poems) were written by 1575, Oxford would still emerge as the chief innovator due to the range of his subject matter and the variety of its execution. ...By contrast, Dyer was a specialist...Dyer's output represents a great departure from courtier verse of the 1560's, and several of his poems were more widely circulated and imitated than any of Oxford's; still, the latter's experimentation provided a much broader foundation for the development of lyric poetry at court. (pp. 52-54)
- " I do not expend my efforts so that the multitude may wonder at me: I am contented with a few readers"
To Mr. Ben. Johnson demanding the reason why he call’d his playes works,”
Edward de Vere satirized as Amorphus of Cynthia's Revels:
Gabriel Harvey, Speculum Tuscanismi and 'exemplary' Sidney:
Since GALATEO came in, and Tuscanism gan usurp,
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,
For Gallants a brave Mirror, a Primrose of Honour,
A Diamond for nonce, a fellow peerless in England.
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?
All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears
out more apparel than the man. But art not thou
thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion?
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.
...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..
BY ROBERT E. STILLMAN
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." 4 (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." 5 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.
In the early modern period the concept of rhetorical barbarism –the demonizing of the speech of the racial and *cultural outsider* –can be understood as an attempt to control and protect the production and circulation of specific images through the racializing function of language. In an Erasmian theater of the mind, language has the power to create vivid and persuasive images that can determine the chosen identities of both an audience and a culture. Hence the need to control this power and the proliferation of images places the surveillance of language at the center of early modern concerns. Othello’s speech acts constitute a performance of cultural whiteness, adding his perspective on what it means to be a black man in this culture and, in effect, contesting the dominant negative images of blackness. Iago, the other agent in this cultural dialogue, counters Othello’s narratives and attempts to contain Othello’s language by rendering it barbarous. When, at the end of 4.1, Othello’s “sentences become preposterous” and his “utterance breaks itself into fragments and uncertainties,” in the language of Hoskins' _Directions_, the question is no longer purely one of his mental instability’ rather Othello’s linguistic collapse, engineered by Iago, is indicative of a culturally pejorative barbarism. If the barbarian is deemed uneloquent– if he cannot speak or speak well – then his narrative enargeia, his ability to produce images within a cultural dialogue, is seriously impaired and rendered rhetorically non-persuasive. The value of the label “barbarian” or “barbarism” is to exclude the potentially oppositional images of the outsider and the disruptive logic of his PREPOSTEROUS sentence from legitimate circulation, preserving the language of the host culture and its ability to produce its own images of itself and others as authoritative and civilized. Shakespeare's own use of racial reversals, a preposterous dramaturgy whose “barbaric” force questions the supposed discreteness of racial categories, stands as a neat metadramatic commentary on the urgency with which *Iago deploys the notion of the Barbarian as a STRATEGY OF SUPPRESSION*.
Melville and Hawthorne/Vere? Melville Suppressed?
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I'll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?
Just ease these darbies at the wrist,
And roll me over fair.
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.