David M. Posner
... In the discussion in book II, section 11, of masquerade (“lo esser travestito”) [in The Courtier], and of its great utility for showing of one’s true (noble) identity through disguising it, Castiglione emphasizes that the success of the courtier’s performance is determined by the audience reaction, and particularly by whether or not the audience “si diletta e piglia peacere” (“is delighted and pleased”). Control of that reaction, through controlling the pleasure experienced by the beholder, thus becomes paramount. This pleasure arises not from the audience’s experience of the showing forth of some Truth, a la Cicero, but rather from its being deceived. Castiglione shows that the essence of the courtier’s performance is a kind of multi-layered deception, in the form of a performed concealment – a concealment that pretends to be the opposite, to be an intentionally incomplete concealment that instead reveals, with a wink and a nudge, the “truth” behind its supposedly consensual pretense. Through performing "con abito disciolto,”: in a disguise meant to be seen into, the performer invites the audience to feel as though it is in on the joke. The audience’s pleasure arises from its accepting that invitation, from being fooled into believing that , rather than being fooled, it is seeing beyond the mask (representing e.g. a pastor selvatico, a peasant) to the “real” (i.e. noble) visage underneath. The precise locus of this pleasure, as Castilgione makes clear, is the tension between what is actually seen and what is artfully hinted at, without however being revealed in what Bacon will call the “Naked, and Open day light” of Truth. Nor could that shadowy something-hinted-at ever be thus revealed, as it is neither presence nor substance, neither essence nor Truth, but rather the reflection of the desire of the beholder, at the very moment of “l’animo…(chi)…corre ad imaginar…” (“the mind which rushes to imagine”). In this specular performance, there is always something more – Castiglione’s “molto maggior cosa” – than can be seen, or indeed be present; the desire for that shadowy cosa is the delectation proper to this masquerade, and it is the eliciting of that desire that is the object of the courtier’s performance.
Castiglione appropriates from Cicero the notion of artful artlessness, as well as its seductive effect: that the audience, finding what it beholds “sit venustius sed non ut appareat,” is incited to suspect, and desire, the presence of something more than what is actually seen. (While Castiglione’s rewriting of diligens negligentia jettisons the explicit comparison with the woman made more beautiful and attractive by her non-use of external adornments, the model of a seductive delectation is everywhere implicit in Castiglione’s idea of the courtier’s relationship with his or her audience.) But the Cortegiano expand the field of application of diligens negligentia well beyond the narrow limits of a single style of oratory; sprezzatura governs all courtly behaviour, and indeed is its essential defining characteristic. Upon it depends grazia, grace, which must be seen to accompany the courtier’s every action; upon it depends above all the crucial ability to persuade one’s public of the presence of the “molto maggior cosa,” that Something Else, always just beyond the reach of clear perception, which is the key to noble identity.(p.13)
"And I maintain this also, that when a certain training and well- formed learning achieve and outstanding and illustrious character, then that *noble and unique something* usually STANDS FORTH." (Cicero)
Greenblatt, Stephen. 2004. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 85
To my louinge frende Thomas Bedingfeld Esquyer, one of her Maie|sties gentlemen Pentioners.AFter I had perused youre letters good maister Bedingfeld, findinge in them your request farre differing from the desert of your labour, I could not chose but greatly doubt, whether it were better for me to yelde you your desyre, or execute myne owne intention towardes the publishinge of youre Booke. For I do confesse the affections that I haue alwayes borne towardes you coulde moue mee not a little. But when I had throughlye considered in my mynde of sondrye and diuers argumentes, whether it were best to obeye myne affections or the merites of your studyes. At the length I determined it better to denye your vnlawfull request, then to graunte or condiscende to the concealment of so worthy a worke. VVhereby as you haue bene profited in the transla|tinge, so many may reape knowledge by the reading of the same, that shall comfort the afflicted, co~firme the doubtful, encourage the cowarde, and lift vp the base minded man, to atchiefe to any true summe or grade of vertue, wherto ought onely the noble thoughtes of men to be enclyned. And because next to the sacred letters of Diuinitye, nothinge doth perswade the same more then Philosophye, of whiche youre booke is plentifully stored. I thought my selfe to commit an vnpardonable errour, to haue murthered the same in the wast bottomes of my chestes, and better I thought it were to displease one, then to displease many: further consideringe so little a trifle cannot procure so great a breach of our amity, as may not with a little perswasions of reason be repayred agayne. And herein I am forced like a good and politicke Captaine, oftentimes to spoile & burne the corne of his owne countrey, least his ennemyes therof do take aduauntage. For rather then so many of your countreye men shoulde be de|ided through my senister meanes of your industry in studyes,
From my newe countrye Muses at VViuenghole, wishing you as you haue begunne, to proceede in these vertuous actions. For when all things shall els forsake vs, vertue yet wil euer abide wyth vs, and when our bodies falles into the bowels of the earth, yet that shall MOUNTE with our MINDES into the highest Heauens.
By your louinge and assured frende. E. Oxenford.
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;
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
But if the first HEIRE of my INVENTION proue DEFORMED, I shall be sorie it had so noble a god-father : and neuer after eare so barren a land, for feare it yeeld me still so bad a haruest, I leaue it to your Honourable suruey, and your Honor to your hearts content, vvhich I wish may alvvaies ansvvere your ovvne vvish, and the vvorlds hopefull expectation.
Oxford University Press
"One aspect of the Alencon dispute that, rather surprisingly, has been neglected in discussions of Sidney is the relationship between his own work and the writings of his court rival Edward DeVere, seventeenth earl of Oxford. The _Arcadias_ can plausibly be read as using their opposition to a specifically 'Oxfordian' literary aesthetic to trigger a more general meditation on the problems of Elizabethan courtiership. As Steven W. May has shown, French-influenced 'new lyricism', closely associated with Oxford, was the dominant poetic form at the Elizabethan court at the time of the composition of the old _Arcadia_.
Early Elizabethan court poetry had been largely religious and didactic but during the 1570's Oxford pioneered a revival of courtly Petrarchan lyric in the tradition of Wyatt and Surrey. I have argued elsewhere that this was connected with Oxford's advocacy of the French match, forming a key element in what H.R. Woudhuysen has called the 'wholesale importation of FRENCH CULTURE AND MANNERS to England' which occurred in the wake of the marriage negotiations. The arrival of 'new lyricism' meant that the Petrarchan language of love became part of the lingua franca of English court life. The complicated overlap at the Elizabethan court between the language of early modern patronage negotiations and the language of Petrarchanism has been much discussed. The blurring of the two was greatly heightened - and arguably set in place, in its specifically Elizabethan manifestation - by Oxford's literary programme.