Sunday, March 31, 2024

Vere and The Queen's English


Horace, of the Art of Poetrie

transl. Ben Jonson

...If to Quintilius, you recited ought:

Hee'd say, Mend this, good friend, and this; "Tis naught.

If you denied, you had no better straine,

And twice, or thrice had 'ssayd it, still in vaine:

Hee'd bid, blot all: and to the anvile bring

Those ill-torn'd Verses, to new hammering.

Then: If your fault you rather had defend

Then change. *No word, or worke, more would he spend


Alone, without a rivall, by his will*.

A wise, and honest man will cry out shame

On ARTELESS Verse; the hard ones he will blame;

Blot out the careless, with his turned pen;

Cut off superfluous ornaments; and when

They're darke, bid cleare this: all that's doubtfull wrote

Reprove; and, what is to be changed, not:

Become an Aristarchus. And, not say,

Why should I grieve my friend, this TRIFLING WAY?

These trifles into serious mischiefs lead

The man once mock'd, and SUFFERED WRONG TO TREAD.





by Ben Jonson



Mario DiGangi, Male deformities’: NARCISSUS and the Reformation of Courtly Manners in Cynthia’s Revels in Ovid and the Renaissance Body

...Narcissus himself [...] never even appears during the course of the play. however, the corrupting Fountain of Self-love, the emblematic source of narcissism introduced at the very beginning of the play, seems to be a permanent fixture at Cynthia's court, for no mention is made of its ultimate destruction or purification. for Jonson's audience, the survival of the symbolically cominant fountain of Self-love might well have presaged that narcissistic manners would continue to deform the individual bodies of courtiers as well as the collective body of the court. With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can regard the Fountain's endurance as a sign of the ideological conflict over elite male comportment that would continue to be waged, in early modern England, as the legacy of Narcissus.


Mario DiGangi, (con't.)

 By the time Jonson wrote Cynthia's Revels, the Narcissus myth had developed an extended, complex, cultural legacy. Traditional medieval and Renaissance moral commentaries on Ovid generally explained Narcissus's error as the 'folly of loving an IMAGE.' Arthur Golding's influential 1567 translation of The Metamorphoses, for instance, moralizes the myth as a 'mirror' of vanity and pride: 'Narcissus is of scornfulnesse and pryde a myrror cleere,/ Where beawties fading vanitie most playnly may appeere.'



SInne of ſelfe-loue poſſeſſeth al mine eie,

And all my ſoule,and al my euery part;

And for this ſinne there is no remedie,

It is ſo grounded inward in my heart.

Me thinkes no face ſo gratious is as mine,

No ſhape ſo true,no truth of ſuch account,

And for my ſelfe mine owne worth do define,

As I all other in all worths ſurmount.

But when my glaſſe ſhewes me my ſelfe indeed

Beated and chopt with tanned antiquitie,

Mine owne ſelfe loue quite contrary I read

Selfe,ſo ſelfe louing were iniquity,

   T'is thee(my ſelfe)that for my ſelfe I praiſe,

   Painting my age with beauty of thy daies,


Beated and chopt with tanned antiquitie - castigated with the texts of ancient authors


Male impersonators: men performing masculinity

By Mark Simpson

According to the Greek myth Narcissus was told by the blind seer Teiresias when he was a child that he should live to a great age if he never knew himself. Narcissus grew up to be a beautiful young man but proud and haughty. An embittered youth, unrequited in his love for Narcissus, cursed him to love that which could not be obtained. One day on Mount Helicon Narcissus caught sight of his own reflection 'endowed with all the beauty that man could desire and unawares he began to love the image of himself which, although itself perfect beauty, could not return his love.' Narcissus, worn out by the futility of his love, turned into the yellow-centred flower with white petals named after him.

The myth tells us something about the relation of modern man to his own image. Narcissus is not seduced by his reflection in any common pool - he glimpses and falls in love with his reflection on Mount Helicon, the sacred mountain where Apollo, Artemis and the Muses danced: the symbolic centre of the arts. His reflection is not one of nature but an idealized image refracted through man's art. Thus his image is 'endowed with all the beauty that man could desire' and he falls in love with it.


Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 69


Because your figure pleased you too much, Narcissus, it was changed into a flower, a plant of known senselessness. Self-love is the withering and destruction of natural power which brings and has brought ruin to many learned men, who having thrown away the method of the ancients seek new doctrines and *pass on nothing but their own fantasies*.


extravagant definition

1. Obsolete: straying beyond bounds; wandering

2. going beyond reasonable limits; excessive or unrestrained extravagant demands

3. too ornate or showy extravagant designs

4. costing or spending too much; wasteful

Etymology: ME & Anglo-Fr extravagaunt <>extravagans, prp. of extravagari, to stray <>extra, beyond + vagari, to wander < vagus: see vague


In every action it behoves the poet to know which is the utmost bound, how far with fitness, and a necessary proportion, he may produce, and determine it...For, *as a body without proportion cannot be goodly* [my note - Droeshout Engraving], no more can the action, either the comedy, or tragedy, without its fit bounds. (Jonson, Discoveries)


Straying beyond Jonson's 'fit bounds':

Jonson, on Shakespeare

He was (indeed) honest, and of

an open, and free nature: had an excellent

fancy; brave notions, and gentle expressions:

wherein he flowed with that facility, that

sometime it was necessary he should be

STOP'D: sufflaminandus erat; as Augustus said

of Haterius. His wit was in his own power;

would the RULE of it had been so too."


Ruling/Restraining Shakespeare's Quill:

From 'To the Deceased Author of these Poems' (William Cartwright)

by Jasper Mayne 

... For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.

In Thee Ben Johnson still HELD SHAKESPEARE'S QUILL:

A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,

As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.

Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,

Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)


Restraining 'Barbarous/Ignorant' Shakespeare:

Billy in the 'Darbies' - Melville


 Cartwright, William, Jonsonus Virbius

...Blest life of Authors, unto whom we owe

Those that we have, and those that we want too:

Th'art all so GOOD, that reading makes thee worse,

And to have writ so well's thine onely curse.

Secure then of thy merit, thou didst hate

That servile base dependance upon fate:

Successe thou ne'r thoughtst vertue, nor that fit,

Which chance, and th'ages fashion did make hit;

*Excluding those from life in after-time*,

Who into Po'try first brought luck and rime:

Who thought the peoples breath good ayre: sty'ld name

What was but noise; and getting Briefes for fame

Gathered the many's suffrages, and thence

Made commendation a benevolence:

THY thoughts were their owne Lawrell, and did win

That best applause of being crown'd within..  


Oxford and Soraismus:



A phrase selected by Puttenham as an example of an 'intollerable vice' in writing had been associated with the Earl of Oxford. This phrase was subsequently spoken by the affected courtier Amorphus in Jonson's _Cynthia's Revels_. Curiously, the phrase does not appear in full in the 1601 Quarto (while Oxford was alive) - but does appear in the 1616 and 1640 editions of Jonson's 'Works'.


Droeshout Deformity - Gives us Shakespeare's 'CHARACTER':

Jonson, _Cynthia's Revels_.

AMORPHUS. And there's her minion, Crites: why his advice more than

Amorphus? Have I not invention afore him? Learning to better

that INVENTION above him? and INFANTED with PLEASANT TRAVEL --


Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie (1589)


Some vices in speaches and {w}riting are alwayes intollerable, some others now and then borne {w}ithall by licence of approued authors and custome. (snip)

Another of your intollerable vices is that which the Greekes call SORAISMUS, & we may call the [mingle mangle] as when we make our speach or writinges of sundry languages vsing some Italian word, or French, or Spanish, or Dutch, or Scottish, not for the nonce or for any purpose (which were in part excusable) but ignorantly and affectedly as one that said vsing this French word Roy, to make ryme with another verse, thus.

O mightie Lord or ioue, dame Venus onely ioy,

Whose Princely power exceedes ech other heauenly roy.

The verse is good but the terme peeuishly affected Another of reasonable good facilitie in translation finding certaine of the hymnes of Pyndarus and of Anacreons odes, and other Lirickes among the Greekes very well translated by Rounsard the French Poet,


applied to the honour of a great Prince in France, comes our minion and translates the same out of French into English, and applieth them to the honour of a GREAT NOBLE MAN in ENGLAND (wherein I commend his reuerent minde and duetie) but doth so impudently robbe the French Poet both of his prayse and also of his French termes, that I cannot so much pitie him as be angry with him for his iniurious dealing (our sayd maker not being ashamed to vse these French wordes freddon, egar, superbous, filanding, celest, calabrois, thebanois and a number of others, for English wordes, which haue no maner of conformitie with our language either by custome or deriuation which may make them tollerable. And in the end (which is worst of all) makes his vaunt that neuer English finger but his hath toucht Pindars string which was neuerthelesse word by word as Rounsard had said before by like braggery. These be his verses.


¶3.22.7 Whereas the French word is enfante as much to say borne as a child, in another verse he saith.

I {w}ill freddon in thine honour.

¶3.22.8 For I will shake or quiuer my fingers, for so in French is freddon, and in another verse.

But if I {w}ill thus like pindar, In many discourses egar.

¶3.22.9 This word egar is as much to say as to wander or stray out of

the way, which in our English is not receiued, not these wordes calabrois, thebanois, but rather calabrian, theban [filanding sisters] for the spinning sisters: this man deserves to be endited of pety larceny for pilfring other mens devises from them


converting them to his owne use, for in deede as I would wish every inventour which is the very Poet to receave the prayses of his invention, so would I not have a translatour be ashamed to be acknowen of his translation.


Southern, Pandora (1584)

SUMMARY: Ode to Oxford in John Southern’s Pandora, The Music of the Beauty of his Mistress Diana. The title page gives the publication date as 20 June 1584. The language of the ode was criticized by George Puttenham in Book III, Chapter 22 of his Art of English Poesy, published in 1589. Puttenham also accused Southern of plagiarism, saying: ‘Another of reasonable good facility in translation, finding certain of the hymns of Pindarus and of Anacreon’s odes and other lyrics among the Greeks very well translated by Ronsard, the French poet, & applied to the honour of a great prince in France, comes our minion and translates the same out of French into English, and applieth them to the honour of a great nobleman in England (wherein I commend his reverent mind and duty), but doth so impudently rob the French poet both of his praise and also of his French terms that I cannot so much pity him as be angry with him for his injurious dealing’.

To the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford etc.

Ode I Strophe 1

This earth is the nourishing teat,

As well that delivers to eat

As else throws out all that we can

Devise that should be needful for

The health of or disease or sore,

The household companions of man.

And this earth hath herbs sovereign

To impeach sicknesses sudden

If they be well aptly applied.

And this yearth spews up many a brevage

Of which, if we knew well the usage,

Would force the force Acherontide.

Brief, it lends us all that we have

With to live, and it is our grave,

But with all this, yet cannot give

Us fair renowns when we be dead,

And indeed they are only made

By our own virtues whiles we live.



No, no, the high singer is he

Alone that in the end must be

Made proud with a garland like this,

And not every riming novice

That writes with small wit and much pain,

And the (God’s know) idiot in vain,

For it’s not the way to Parnasse,

Nor it will neither come to pass

If it be not in some wise fiction

And of an ingenious INVENTION,


For it alone must win the laurel,

And only the poet WELL BORN

Must be he that goes to Parnassus,

And not these companies of asses

That have brought verse almost to scorn.


1601 Quarto - Cynthia's Revels, Jonson

Act IV, Sc. V


And there’s her Minion Criticus; why his advise more then Amorphus? Have I not Invention, afore him? Learning, to better that Invention, above him? And Travaile.


1616 Folio, Jonson

Act IV, Sc V


And there’s her minion Crites! Why his advice more then Amorphus? Have not I invention, afore him? Learning, to better that invention, above him? And infanted, with pleasant travaile ----


1640 Folio, 'Works' Jonson


And there’s her minion Crites! Why his advice more then Amorphus? Have not I invention afore him? Learning, to better that invention, above him? And infanted, with pleasant travaile ----




Polytropos means much-turned or much-traveled, much-wandering. It is the defining quality of Odysseus, used in the first line of the Odyssey and at 10.330. As used by Hippias with respect to Odysseus (365b) it includes being false or lying and carries the connotations of wily and shifty. Antisthenes, a follower of Socrates who wrote Socratic dialogues, also argued against the claim that Homer meant to blame Odysseus by calling him polytropos; Antisthenes claims that it is praise for being "good at dealing with men...being wise, he knows how to associate with men in many ways." See Charles H. Kahn, Plato and the Socratic Dialogue (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp.121-24.


Edward de VERE figured as Ulysses Politropus- Amorphus by Ben Jonson:


Forms of formlessness:

gallimaufry, tatterdemalion, frippery, mingle-mangle, soraismus, hodge-podge, genera-mixta, salmagundi, patchwork, motley, jumble, hash, botch, shambles, mongrel tragi-comedy, bedlam, amorphus, Italianate Englishman, shreds, sweepings, scraps


Droeshout - Shakespeare's CHARACTER - bad form


The RACE of Shakespeare's Mind and Manners:

Colin Burrow, Imitating Authors

     The later rhetorical works of Cicero have a further distinctive preoccupation. They develop the association between imitatio and the cultivation of a style characteristic of a particular person or of a particular period. Book 4 of the anonymous Ad Herennium had presented the ability to produce speeches  ineach of th high, middle, and low styles as an index of rhetorical skill. Theophrastus, as we saw in Chapter I, appears to have used the word character for each of these registers of speech. In Rome the usual term for the different registers of style was genera dicendi (KINDS of speech): Aulus Gellius in his Noctes Attices directle translates Theophrastus's word characteres by this phrase.(6.14), and Cicero also talks of the 'genera dicendi' in the Orator (5.20). Very confusingly, however, the Ad Herennium refers to the 'characters of style' as the 'figurae', the figures of style (4.8.II) or as the kinds of figures ('genera figurarum', 4.10.15), or indeed individually as a 'KIND of speech' or genus orationis (4.11.16). The word genus is a common element in this tangle of terminology, and it too is rich with potential for confusion. Genus is ancestor both of our botanical word 'genus' and of our literary word 'genre', but it can be used by Cicero in an entirely non-technical sense to mean 'kind', as in a more or less throwaway term such as 'hoc genus omne' ---all that type of thing.

     Cicero defines 'genus' in De Oratore as 'that which embraces two or more species, resembling one another in some common property while differing in some peculiarity' ('Genus autem id est, quod sui similes communione quadam, specie autem differentes, duas aut plures complectitur partes', (1.42.189)/ But in his discussions of style Cicero sometimes talks of a genus in a casual way to mean something very close to the 'type of speech used by a particular person'. (pp. 80-81)


Only time Jonson used form of Shakespearean sonnet:


Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,

Whose works are e'en the FRIPPERY of wit,

From brokage is become so bold a thief,

As we, the robb'd, leave rage, and pity it.

At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,

Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown

To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,

He takes up all, makes each man's wit his own:

And, told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes

The sluggish gaping auditor devours;

He marks not whose 'twas first: and after-times

May judge it to be his, as well as ours.

Fool! as if half eyes will not know a fleece

From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece?



Integrity comes from the Latin word integritas, meaning “one” or “whole.” People who are one way on the inside and another way on the outside—i.e., not “whole”—lack integrity (snip)  Ray Dalio


One of Shake-speare's Crimes - lack of integrity


Droeshout Engraving - Cutting a Ridiculous Figure


If I meet you with my hair cut by an uneven barber, you laugh [at me]: if I chance to have a ragged shirt under a handsome coat, or if my disproportioned gown fits me ill, you laugh.

(footnote - he is not ridiculous because the barber has cut his hair too short, but because he has cut it unequally - inaequalis tonsor) 


Aristotle, Poetics

As we have said, comedy is an imitation of baser men. These are characterized not by every kind of vice but specifically by the "ridiculous," which is a subdivision of the category of "deformity." What we mean by "the ridiculous' is some error or ugliness that is painless and has no harmful effects. The example that comes immediately to mind is the comic mask, which is ugly and distorted but causes no pain.

The ridiculous, which Aristotle defines above as an error (hamartema) or ugliness (aischos) which does not cause pain and is not destructive, is clearly related to the doctrine of the inappropriate or incongruous which stands in the Rhetoric, associated with nemesan, in polar opposition to pity and fear. The ridiculous along with its constitutive elements of error and ugliness are certainly inappropriate characteristics of the spoudaios person and action as well as of the person and action that Aristotle would designate as the norm. We suggest that what the ridiculous (to geloion) characterizes is an important and special case of "the inappropriate and incongruous": the special case of comedy where the errors and ugliness involved must be painless.

We have then argued that a theory of comic emotion and comic action, analogous to that of tragic emotion and tragic action, can be discerned in passages in the Poetics and the Rhetoric that are fully consistent with each other in comedy, instead of pity and fear, we have nemesan, an emotion which must range from the savage indignation of Aristophanes to the muted admonishments of Chekhov for whatever is ridiculous and inappropriate in human behaviour. (Aristotle on Comedy, Leon Golden)


"To My Book" by Ben Jonson

It will be looked for, book, when some but see

Thy title, Epigrams, and named of me,

Thou should'st be bold, licentious, full of gall,

Wormwood, and sulphur, sharp, and toothed withal;

Become a petulant thing, hurl ink, and wit,

As madmen stones: not caring whom they hit.

Deceive their malice, who could wish it so.

And by thy wiser temper, let men know

Thou are not covetous of least self-fame.

Made from the hazard of another's shame:

Much less with lewd, profane, and beastly phrase,

To catch the world's loose laughter, or vain gaze.

He that departs with his own HONESTY.



   Ben Jonson, _Cynthia's Revels_


These in the Court meet with Amorphus, or the deformed, a Traveller that hath drunk of the Fountain, and there tells the wonders of the Water. They presently dispatch away their Pages with Bottles to fetch of it, and themselves go to visit the Ladies. But I should have told you — (Look, these Emets put me out here) that with this Amorphus, there comes along a Citizens Heir, Asotus, or the Prodigal, who (in *imitation* of the Traveller, who hath the Whetstone following him) entertains the Begger, to be his Attendant. ——



Ascham, The Scholemaster

(posthumously published 1570, Dedicated to Sir William Cecil, Knight)

...Yet, if a ientleman will nedes trauell into Italie, he shall do well, to looke on the life, of the wisest traueler, that euer traueled thether, set out by the wisest writer, that euer spake with tong, Gods doctrine onelie excepted: and that is Vlysses in Homere. Vlysses, and his trauell, I wishe our trauelers to looke vpon, not so much to feare them, with the great daungers, that he many tymes suffered, as to instruct them, with his excellent wisedome, which he alwayes and euerywhere vsed. Yea euen those, that


Homere. odys. learned and wittie trauelers, when they be disposed to prayse traueling, as a great commendacion, and the best Scripture they haue for it, they gladlie recite the third verse of Homere, in his first booke of Odyssea, conteinyng a great prayse of Vlysses, for the witte he gathered, & wisdome he vsed in his traueling.

Which verse, bicause, in mine opinion, it was not made at the first, more naturallie in Greke by Homere, nor after turned more aptlie into Latin by Horace, than it was a good while ago, in Cambrige, translated into English, both plainlie for the sense, and roundlie for the verse, by one of the best Scholers, that euer S. Iohns Colledge bred, M. Watson, myne old frend, somtime Bishop of Lincolne, therfore, for their sake, that haue lust to see, how our English tong, in auoidyng barbarous ryming, may as well receiue, right quantitie of sillables, and trewe order of versifiyng (of which matter more at large hereafter) as either Greke or Latin, if a cunning man haue it in handling, I will set forth that one verse in all three tonges, for an Example to good wittes, that shall delite in like learned exercise.

Homerus. pollon d anthropon iden astea kai noon egno.


Qui mores hominum multorum vidit & vrbes.

M. Watson.

All trauellers do gladly report great prayse of Vlysses,

For that he knew many mens maners, and saw many Cities.

And yet is not Vlysses commended, so much, nor so oft, in Homere, bicause he was POLYTROPUS, that is, skilfull in many mens manners and facions, as bicause he was polymetis, that is, wise in all

Vlyss. {polytropos.


{ polymetis.

Pallas from heauen. Alcynous. od. 2.

Cyclops. od. 1.

Calypso. od. e.



Caribdis. {


{ od. m.


Circes. od. k. od. l.purposes, & ware in all places: which wisedome and warenes will not serue neither a traueler, except Pallas be alwayes at his elbow, that is Gods speciall grace from heauen, to kepe him in Gods feare, in all his doynges, in all his ieorneye. For, he shall not alwayes in his absence out of England, light vpon a ientle Alcynous, and walke in his faire gardens full of all harmelesse pleasures: but he shall sometymes, fall, either into the handes of some cruell Cyclops, or into the lappe of some wanton and dalying Dame Calypso: and so suffer the danger of many a deadlie Denne, not so full of perils, to distroy the body, as, full of vayne pleasures, to poyson the mynde. Some Siren shall sing him a song, sweete in tune, but sownding in the ende, to his vtter destruction. If Scylla drowne him not, Carybdis may fortune swalow hym. Some Circes shall make him, of a plaine English man, a right Italian. And at length to hell, or to some hellish place, is he likelie to go: from whence is hard returning, although one Vlysses, and that by Pallas ayde, and good counsell of Tiresias once escaped that horrible Den of deadly darkenes.

Therfore, if wise men will nedes send their sonnes into Italie, let them do it wiselie, vnder the kepe and garde of him, who, by his wisedome and honestie, by his example and authoritie, may be hable to kepe them safe and sound, in the feare of God, in Christes trewe Religion, in good order and honestie of liuyng: except they will haue them run headling, into ouermany ieoperdies, as Vlysses had done many tymes, if Pallas had not alwayes gouerned him: if he had not vsed, to stop his eares with waxe: to bind him selfe to the mast of his shyp: to feede dayly, vpon that swete herbe Moly with the blake roote and white floore, giuen vnto hym by Mercurie, to auoide all the inchantmentes of Circes. Wherby, the Diuine

od. m.

od. k.

Moly Herba. Psal. 33.Poete Homer ment couertlie (as wise and Godly men do iudge) that loue of honestie, and hatred of ill, which Dauid more plainly doth call the feare of God: the onely remedie agaynst all inchantementes of sinne.'Shreds of forms' - Deformed:


Harvey on Oxford:

Speculum Tuscanismi (1580)

Not the like discourser for Tongue, and head to be found out,

Not the like resolute man for great and serious affairs,

Not the like Lynx to spy out secrets and privities of States,

Eyed like to Argus, eared like to Midas, nos'd like to Naso,

Wing'd like to Mercury, fittst of a thousand for to be employ'd,

This, nay more than this, doth practice of Italy in one year.

None do I name, but some do I know, that a piece of a twelve month

Hath so perfited outly and inly both body, both soul,

That none for sense and senses half matchable with them.

A vulture's smelling, Ape's tasting, sight of an eagle,

A spider's touching, Hart's hearing, might of a Lion.

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.


Ascham, The Scholemaster

**But I know as many, or mo, and some, sometyme my deare frendes, for whose sake I hate going into that countrey the more, who, partyng out of England feruent in the loue of Christes doctrine, and well furnished with the feare of God, returned out of Italie worse transformed, than euer was any in Circes Court. I know diuerse, that went out of England, men of innocent life, men of excellent learnyng, who returned out of Italie, not onely with worse maners, but also with lesse learnyng: neither so willing to liue orderly, nor yet so hable to speake learnedlie, as they were at home, before they went abroad. And why? Plato yt wise writer, and worthy traueler him selfe, telleth the cause why. He went into Sicilia, a countrey, no nigher Italy by site of place, than Italie that is now, is like Sicilia that was then, in all corrupt maners and licenciousnes of life. Plato found in Sicilia, euery Citie full of vanitie, full of factions, euen as Italie is now. And as Homere, like a learned Poete, doth feyne, that Circes, by pleasant inchantmentes, did turne men into beastes, some into Swine, som

Plat. ad Dionys. Epist. 3. The fruits of vayne pleasure.

Causes why men returne out of Italie, lesse learned and worse manered.

Homer and Plato ioyned and expounded.

A Swyne.

An Asse.

A Foxe.

aphrosyne, Quid, et vnde.into Asses, some into Foxes, some into Wolues etc. euen so Plato, like a wise Philosopher, doth plainelie declare, that pleasure, by licentious vanitie, that sweete and perilous poyson of all youth, doth ingender in all those, that yeld vp themselues to her, foure notorious properties.

{1. lethen

{2. dysmathian

{3. achrosynen

{4. ybrin. The first, forgetfulnes of all good thinges learned before: the second, dulnes to receyue either learnyng or honestie euer after: the third, a mynde embracing lightlie the worse opinion, and baren of discretion to make trewe difference betwixt good and ill, betwixt troth, and vanitie, the fourth, a proude disdainfulnes of other good men, in all honest matters. Homere and Plato, haue both one meanyng, looke both to one end. For, if a man inglutte himself with vanitie, or walter in filthines like a Swyne, all learnyng, all goodnes, is sone forgotten: Than, quicklie shall he becum a dull Asse, to vnderstand either learnyng or honestie: and yet shall he be as sutle as a Foxe, in breedyng of mischief, in bringyng in misorder, with a busie head, a discoursing tong, and a factious harte, in euery priuate affaire, in all matters of state, with this pretie propertie, alwayes glad to commend the worse partie, and euer ready to defend the falser opinion. And why? For, where will is giuen from goodnes to vanitie, the mynde is sone caryed from right iudgement, to any fond opinion, in Religion, in Philosophie, or any other kynde of learning. The fourth fruite of vaine pleasure, by Homer and Platos iudgement, is pride in them selues, contempt of others, the very badge of all those that serue in Circes Court. The trewe meenyng of both Homer and Plato, is plainlie declared in one short sentence of the holy Prophet of God Hieremie, crying out of the vaine & vicious life of the Israelites. This people (sayth he) be fooles and dulhedes to all goodnes, but sotle, cunning and bolde, in any mischiefe. &c.


 Latin frīvolus (“silly, empty, trifling, frivolous, worthless”) 

England’s Helicon – Hester Lees-Jeffries


...Some twenty-five years ago Margaret Tudeau-Clayton demonstrated Ben Jonson’s borrowing from the twelfth-century _Policraticus_ by John of Salisbury in his _Timber_, or _Discoveries_. Tudeau-Clayton considered a passage of some fifty-five lines, just over a third of the way through the _Discoveries_, organized by Jonson under the headings ‘Adulatio’, ‘Devita humana’, ‘De piis & probis’, and ‘Mores Aulici’ (‘flattery’, ‘of human life’, ‘of the upright and the good’, and ‘of the ways of courtiers’), showing that in this section, Jonson had drawn heavily on passages in the third book of the _Policraticus_. [...]Despite Tudeau-Clayton’s  identification of this important source for Ben Jonson, little further work has apparently been done in assessing whether others of his works might also reveal traces of the _Policraticus_. There is one very striking example in particular, which dovetails neatly into the passage in _Discoveries_ discussed by Tudeau-Clayton, and which in turn perhaps suggests that Jonson was writing the Discoveries in some form as early as 1600. That example is, of course, _The Fountaine of Selfe-Love_ [Cynthia’s Revels], for in addition to drawing dramaturgically upon Peele’s use of the fountain in _David and Bethsabe_, it seems that Jonson drew more thematic aspects of the device in the play’s eponymous fountain, its central and controlling metaphor, from chapter 10 of Book 5 of the _Policraticus_.


     Book 5 of the Policraticus is concerned with the ‘commonwealth’, and with the proper relationship between prince and subjects. Chapter 10 is entitled ‘of the flanks of the powerful, whose needs are to be satisfied, and whose malice is to be restrained’. By the end of the chapter, however, the focus is less on rulers’ potential for viciousness than on the capacity of courtiers to corrupt:

For who is it whose virtue is not cast aside by the frivolities of courtiers?  Who is so great, who is so resolute, that he cannot be corrupted? He is best who resists for the longest time, who is strongest, who is corrupted least. For in order that virtue be unharmed, one must turn aside from the life of the courtier. He who said the following providentially and prudently expressed the nature of the court: ‘He departs from the court who wishes to be pious’. For this reason the court has been compared to the infamous fountain of Salmacis, which is notorious for weakening virility...

This obscure poetic fiction represents the likeness of the frivolities of courtiers, which weaken men by the debasement of their virility or pervert a retained likeness of virility. He who engages in the trifles of the courtier and undertakes the obligations of the philosopher or the good man is an hermaphrodite, whose harsh and prickly face disfigures the beauty of women and who pollutes and dishonours virility with effeminacy. For indeed the philosopher-courtier is a monstrous thing; and, while he affects to be both he is neither one, for the court excludes philosophy and the philosopher at no time engages in the trifles of the courtier. Yet the comparison dies not apply to all courts, but merely those which are mismanaged by a foolish will.* For whoever is wise drives away frivolities, orders his house, and subjects everything to reason*.

     The image of the court as an enervating fountain is here a central and potent one, and attention is draw to it in the 1513 editions by the marginal note, ‘Curia comparatur fonti salmacis’ (the court compared to the fountain of Salmacis).

The fountain of Salmacis and the story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus are not directly invoked by Jonson in the Fountaine of Selfe-Love in the same way that Narcissus and Actaeon are, but the effects of the play’s fountain are very similar. By the end of Act 2, when Amorphus the courier has reported the deliciousness of the fountain’s water to the rest of the court, there is

such a drought I’the Presence, wi[t]h reporting the wonders of this new water; that all the Ladies and Gallants lie languishing upon the Rushes, like so many pounded Cattle i[n] the midst of Harvest, sighing one to another, and gasping, as if each of them expected a Cock from the Fountaine, to be brought into his mouth; and (without we returned quickly) they are all (as a youth would say) no better than a few Trowts cast a shore, or a dish of Eeles in a Sand-bag (Cynthia’s Revels).

and by the beginning of Act 4, the water having still not been brought, the situation has not improved:

Phantaste: I would this water would arrive once our travayling friend so commended to us.

Argurion: So would I, for he has left all us in travaile, with expectation of it.

Phantaste: Pray Jove, I never rise from this Couch, if ever I thirsted more for a thing in my whole time of being a Courtier.

Philautia: Nor I, Ile be sworne; the very mention of it sets my lippes in a worse heate, then if he had sprinkled them with Mercury.

While the water here is to be drunk, rather than bathed in (as in the _Policraticus_ and, indeed, in the _Metamorphoses_), the names of the courtiers themselves suggest decadence, degeneracy, and enervation: in addition to Phantaste (‘Boaster’), Argurion (‘Silver’, as in money), and Philautia (Self Love’) in the passage just quoted, the others are named as Amorphus (‘Deformed’), Asotus (‘Debauchee’ or ‘Prodigal’), Hedon (‘Pleasure’), Anaides (‘Impudence’), Moria (‘Folly’), Prosaites (‘Beggar, or ‘one who importunes’), Cos (‘Whetstone’), Morus (‘Fool’), and Gelaia (‘Laughter’). Of these, Amorphus is the central figure, and his name surely recalls the fate of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, as it can also be translated as ‘shapeless’ or even ‘one who changes shape’. The male courtiers in _The Fountaine of Selfe-Love_ are certainly stereotypically effeminate in their obsessions with clothes and their garrulousness, and it is implied that they have been corrupted by too much contact with women; they are therefore effeminate in the now obsolete sense of ‘devoted to women’. 


Reviewed work(s): Shakespeare’s Literary Authorship. Patrick Cheney. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pp. xxv+296.

Douglas Bruster

Cheney extends the significance of this biographical episode by reading it alongside the curious “Achilles” stanza in 1594’s The Rape of Lucrece (lines 1422–28).1 In this stanza, part of a larger sequence in which Shakespeare portrays Lucrece looking at a painting of Troy, Achilles is represented by “his spear, / Grip’d in an armed hand, himself behind / Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind” (lines 1424–26). Exploring Shakespeare’s fairly idiosyncratic attention to the spear of Achilles and its reputation for being able to both “kill and cure” (2 Henry VI  5.1.101), Cheney argues that this stanza in Lucrece is a particularly good example of a “signature” moment in Shakespeare’s works, a passage in which “Shakespeare signs his name to Achilles” (53) and in which—owing to its emphasis on an uncannily present-yet-absent figure—we can sense an emblem of Shakespearean authorship itself. To Cheney’s persuasive gathering of intertextual references for this interpretation one might add a line that his study overlooks, from John Lyly’s Alexander and Campaspe (1584)  : “Wil you handle the spindle with Hercules, when you shuld shake the speare with Achilles?”2 If Shakespeare pushed the elements of his last name to their most playful extremes, then, he found the terms already in the Elizabethan air. 



Languet to Sidney, Nov 14, 1579

...Now I will treat you frankly, as I am accustomed to do, for I am sure our friendship has reached a mark at which neither of us can be offended at any freedom of the other. It was a delight to me last winter to see you high in favour and enjoying the esteem of all your countrymen; but to speak plainly, the habits of your court seemed to me somewhat *less manly* than I could have wished, and most of your noblemen appeared to me to seek for a reputation more by a kind of affected courtesy than by those virtues which are wholesome to the state and which are most becoming to generous spirits and to men of high birth. I was sorry therefore, and so were other friends of yours, to see you wasting the flower of your life on such things, and I feared lest that noble nature of yours should be dulled, and lest from habit you should be brought to take pleasure in pursuits which only ENERVATE the mind.

If the arrogance and insolence of Oxford has roused you from your trance, he has done you less wrong than they who have hitherto been more indulgent to you. But I return to my subject...

*footnote - The readers of Shakespeare and Scott are familiar with the language and manners of the Euphuists of Queen Elizabeth's Court. John Lilly's two books, "Euphues, the anatomy of wit," and "Euphues an dhis England," from which the Elizabethan school of Courtiers derived their name, were not published till 1581. (Steuart A Pears) 


_Policraticus_ , Tyranny and the Essex Rebellion


England’s Helicon – Hester Lees-Jeffries

...It is of course significant for Jonson’s play as a whole, therefore, that the first part of the _Policraticus_’ alternative title, or subtitle, is ‘De Nugis Curialium’ (Concerning the frivolities of courtiers) for it is the corruptions and frivolities of courtiers that are exposed and satirized by Jonson. The other part of this alternative title is ‘et Vestigiis Philosphorum’, ‘and the Footprints of Philosophers’: Criticus, not surprisingly the voice of reason and virtue in the play, who is described in the Induction as ‘a retir’d Scholler’ and later dismissed by Hedon and Anaides as ‘a whoore-sonne Book-worme, a Candle-waster...poore Grogram Rascall...Dormouse’, is surely the philosopher whom John discusses, who is of the court yet apart from it in his comportment and concerns. If Jonson is indeed recalling this passage from the _Policraticus_ in its entirety, he is treading on dangerous ground: it would not do for Queen Elizabeth to have been invited to identify too closely with John's statement that ‘the court excludes philosophy and the philosopher at no time engages in the trifles of the courtiers. Yet the comparison does not apply to all courts, but merely those which are mismanaged by a foolish will. For whoever is wise drives away frivolities, orders his house, and subjects everything to reason.’ Cynthia’s loss of control over her court and its denizens is particularly shown in the way in which the false courtiers use language, and in the fact that it is a poet who is to be the agent of reform. Whatever part the courtiers’ linguistic excesses may have played in the ‘Poets’ War’, they, together with their trivial word games, riddles, and foolish songs, show the corruption of nothing less than the ‘Queen’s English’, a concept far less abstract in Jonson’s day than current usage might suggest. There was a close association in the Renaissance between the person of the monarch and the language of his or her realm, of which he or she was the patron. [...] According to Martin Elsky, ‘the linguistic responsibility asked of English Renaissance monarchs is well documented’. He has argued that 

the force responsible for creating a society in which it is possible for a speaker to unite word and thing is the monarch, who is responsible for the political fortunes of his kingdom. The connection between morally disposed political power and the verbal health of a nation may have its origins among the Stoics, who held that the initial imposition of a name or thing occurs under a good king, and deteriorates as the moral virtue of the kings declines.

In _The Fountain of Selfe-Love_, Jonson figures the dislocation between court and state and monarch and court, and the disjunction between the false court and the ideal, exemplary one, through a debased, trivial, artificial language, which in turn reflects badly on the monarch. As Peter Womack has economically observed (a propos the couriers’ word games in Act 4) ‘Language is supposed to do honour to the mind it represents, as a royal court is supposed to do honour to the monarch it expresses: these courtiers profane both dignities, and each sacrilege is a metaphor for the other. Jonson offers a solution in the person of the scholar-poet-author. Perhaps, in the authorial figure of Criticus, he even questions the monarch’s right to control language as his play demonstrates the loss of that control.


     The play in general, even without its apparent pro-Essex agenda (which is the subject of the next, and final, chapter) does tread on dangerous ground. The corruption and decadence of the couriers is shown primarily in the languishing after the waters of the fountain of self-love, but also (and far more pervasively)  in their trivial and decadent language; they debase the very ‘Queen’s English’, and themselves pollute the waters of Helicon.


Of the period after the Restoration - David Norbrook writes (In _Writing the English Republic_):

"Forgetting was officially sanctioned: The Act of Indemnity and Oblivion banned 'any name or names, or other words of reproach tending to revive the memory of the late differences thereof'. This book is one attempt to counter that process of erasure, which has had long-term effects on English literary history and, arguably, on wider aspects of political identity.. In the short term, the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion can be seen as an enlightened piece of legislation. Twenty years of bitter contention between and within families and social and religious groups needed oblivion to heal them. In the longer term, however, such forgetting has had it costs. Suppressing the republican element in English Cultural history entails simplifying a complex but intellectually and artistically challenging past into a sanitized and impoverished Royal heritage....The republic's political institutions 'continue to languish in a historiographical blind spot'; much the same applies to artistic culture.


Billy/Foundling/Shakespeare's Book in Chains:

Melville’s Motley Crew: History and Constituent Power in Billy Budd

David J. Drysdale

In this essay I examine how Billy Budd traces the state’s ability to appropriate the potential of discrepant forms of political community in order to reify its own authority on the insurgent space of the sea. I begin by suggesting the ways in which Billy Budd embodies what Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker call ‘‘hydrarchy,’’ an alternatively organized body politic that transcends categories of race and nation. My close reading of Billy Budd demonstrates how, in narrating Billy Budd’s incorporation into the machinery of state power on board the Bellipotent, Melville’s novella reveals the complicity between official accounts of history and the counterinsurgent project of colonial power. In Billy Budd Melville describes the birth of the modern political subject; this, however, will be a monstrous birth. Billy Budd charts the transformation of the vital, heroic political subject—the ‘‘Handsome Sailor’’—into a modern citizen-subject who is characterized instead by his passivity, vulnerability, and ultimately his death. In the end, this narrative implicates the novel’s critics as well, who similarly work to marshal the novel into a preexisting nationalist or ideological form.

But much as the ocean itself resists artificially imposed borders and inscriptions, Billy Budd refuses to settle into such neat categories. Even as Melville depicts this process of historical fashioning, he also points to the ways in which such a logic might be resisted by a canny reader who looks to the ‘‘ragged edges’’ of historical narrative.


Billy’s reading of Vere’s countenance and his subsequent silence is puzzling, to say the least: Vere has just finished convincing the court that ‘‘the prisoner’s deed—with that alone we have to do’’ (Billy Budd, p. 108). We might read in this moment, however, Billy’s full incorporation into the social contract of the Bellipotent: he gives himself over fully to Vere, acquiescing completely to his authority, even at the cost of his own life.

When Billy refuses the opportunity to speak on his own behalf to offer a counternarrative to the one that Vere has constructed for the court, he crosses another threshold, this time from infantile citizenship to what Russ Castronovo calls ‘‘necro citizenship.’’ According to Castronovo, in spite of republican citizenship’s idealization of a public sphere characterized by rigorous debate and virtuous civic action, in the U.S. system ‘‘a body politic animated by republicanism ran the risk of overexcitement and dangerous stimulation.’’ ‘‘Necro citizenship’’ thus idealizes a body politic characterized by passivity as well as homogeneity and historical amnesia. Billy’s sentencing is the moment of his incorporation into such a model of citizenship. Indeed, even prior to his hanging, Billy is described by Melville’s narrator as a deathly figure. On the evening before his death, the narrator says that Billy is ‘‘in effect . . . already in his shroud’’ (Billy Budd, p. 119). Laura Doyle points out: ‘‘When faced with execution, Billy implicitly accepts Rousseau’s dictum that the citizen must undergo the ‘total alienation . . . of himself and all his rights to the whole community’’ (Freedom’s

Empire, p. 207). 21 Billy’s innocence and naıvete were once potentially subversive qualities, but by the end of the novella they have become symbols of his lack of political agency. His state of being just prior to his execution prompts the narrator to compare him to colonized subjects:

[Billy] was wholly without irrational fear of [death], a fear more

prevalent in highly civilized communities than those so-called

barbarous ones which in all respects stand nearer to unadulte-

rate Nature. And, as elsewhere said, a barbarian Billy radically

was—as much so, for all the costume, as his countrymen the

British captives, living trophies, made to march in the Roman

triumph of Germanicus. Quite as much so as those later barbar-

ians, . . . and picked specimens among the earlier British converts

to Christianity, at least nominally such, taken to Rome (as today

converts from lesser isles of the sea may be taken to London).

(Billy Budd, p. 120)

Billy, in spite of his Anglo-Saxon purity, has become akin to racialized subjects who were imagined as living outside of the political sphere ‘‘nearer to unadulterate Nature.’’ *Moreover, he has been *turned into a TROPHY*, a spectacular exhibition through which a colonizing culture tries to reify an unstable sense of racial or cultural superiority*. He is an object that is severed from its place in the historical record. In the wake of his trial on the Bellipotent, Billy becomes an object of power that consolidates state authority on the ship. Billy thus becomes a model citizen, a figure whose death disciplines his fellow citizens—in this case, the crew—into a political and social death of their own.


*Pinioned Figure* ---ch.25 Billy Budd



A narration and description of a most exact wondrous creature, arising out of the Phoenix and Turtle Doues ashes. - Marston

O Twas a mouing Epicedium!

Can Fire? can Time? can blackest Fate consume

So rare creation? No; tis thwart to sence,

Corruption quakes to touch such excellence,

Nature exclaimes for Iustice, Iustice Fate,

Ought into nought can neuer remigrate.

Then looke; for see what glorious issue brighter

Then clearest fire, and beyond faith farre whiter

Then Dians tier) now springs from yonder flame?

Let me stand numb'd with wonder, neuer came

So strong amazement on astonish'd eie

As this, this measurelesse pure Raritie.

Lo now; th'xtracture of deuinest Essence,

The Soule of heauens labour'd Quintessence,

(Peans to Phoebus) from deare Louer's death,

Takes sweete creation and all blessing breath.

What strangenesse is't that from the Turtles ashes

Assumes such forme? (whose splendor clearer flashes,

Then mounted Delius) tell me genuine Muse.

Now yeeld your aides, you spirites that infuse

A sacred rapture, light my weaker eie:

Raise my inuention on swift Phantasie,

That whilft of this same Metaphisicall

God, Man, nor Woman, but elix'd of all

My labouring thoughts, with strained ardor sing,

My Muse may mount with an vncommon wing.



William Empson, _Honest in Othello_

William Empson points out that 'honest' and 'honesty' are used 52 times in Othello, writing that 'in Othello, divergent uses of th(is) key word are found for all the main characters; even the attenuated clown plays upon it; the unchaste Bianca, for instance, snatches a moment to claim that she is more honest than Emilia the thief of the handkerchief; and with all the variety of use the ironies on the word mount up steadily to the end. Such is the general power of the writing that this is not obtrusive, but if all but the phrases involving honest were in the style of Ibsen the effect would be a symbolical charade. Everyone calls Iago honest once or twice, but with Othello it becomes an obsession; at the crucial moment just before Emilia exposes Iago he keeps howling the word out. 


Integrity: Integritas, Innocentia, Simplicitas

Margaret E. Mohrmann

The Use of Integritas in Early and Medieval Christian Literature

In the centuries before and after the birth of Jesus, integritas – though not a particularly common term – was in use and carried several definitions, each of which could be connected more or less directly to its root word, the adjective integer. ‘derived from the negating particle in plus the verb tanger (to touch), integer's meanings include both whole or entire and unblemished or spotless(untouched). Accordingly, the Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD)2 gives three categories of meaning for integritas, each with examples from authors such as Cicero, Quintilian, and Seneca: soundness or wholeness of body or mind; purity, or the state of being unadulterated, usually used in speaking of literary or rhetorical style; and moral uprightness, integrity, and (specifically in reference to women) chastity.

Despite this early evidence of the extension of meaning from physical wholeness and stainlessness to a more abstract, moral sense that trades on the idea of wholeness as perfection and the absence of corruption, usage among early Christian writers, as documented in twentieth-century dictionaries of patristic Latin,3 demonstrates a somewhat narrower set of meanings—limiting integritas almost solely to physical wholeness or intactness,4 primarily in regard to chastity but also in reference to the reliability of texts and oral traditions. 



Shakespeare - 72

O! lest the world should task you to recite

What merit lived in me, that you should love

After my death,–dear love, forget me quite,

For you in me can nothing worthy prove.

Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,

To do more for me than mine own desert,

And hang more praise upon deceased I

Than niggard truth would willingly impart:

O! lest your true love may seem false in this

That you for love speak well of me untrue,

My name be buried where my body is,

And live no more to shame nor me nor you.

For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,

And so should you, to love things nothing worth. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Captain Edward Vere and Beauty


Ben Jonson imitated his 'master' William Shakespeare in the First Folio Encomium - 'Shake-speare' is obscured by his own vices:

This FIGURE thou seest here put

It was for gentle Shakespeare cut

Ben Jonson





Imitating Authors, Colin Burrow

(...)Jonson’s Horace [note – Ars Poetica] should not be regarded as a ‘literal’. It attempts to reproduce the verbal collocations, word-order, and structure of the _Ars Poetica_, as well as to unfold in English, even at the cost of occasionally expanding the original, the key principles which it sets out. This gives the translation both bounds and license. It is licensed to extrapolate the sense of the original by additions (‘thou mayst feign, create’), as well as seeking to replicate the rhetorical shaping of the translated text. For these reasons it should not be positioned within a tradition of ‘word for word’ translation, but rather in a long tradition of translation that sought to reproduce the tradition the rhetorical figures and underlying character of the translated author. That tradition goes back to an extremely influential, but also extremely obscure passage in Cicero’s _De Optimo Genere Oratorum_, in which Cicero describes how he translated speeches by Aeschines and Demosthenes:

And I did not translate them as an interpreter, but, as an orator, keeping the same ideas and the forms, or as one might say the ‘figures’ of thought, but in a language which conforms to our usage. And in so doing, I did not hold it necessary to render word for word, but I preserved the general style and force of the language.


Cicero’s discussion of translation relies on several keywords from the tradition of writing about imitation: he seeks to preserve the form (forma), kind (genus) or writing, and its force, or *vis*. That implicit association between translation and imitation frequently became explicit in sixteenth-century discussions of the topic. From Denys Lambin’s edition of the _Ars Poetica_ in 1561 onwards it became common for commentators to cite this passage from Cicero as a gloss on Horace’s injunction not to translate as a ‘fidus interpres’. Lambin, indeed, glosses the passage from the _Ars Poetica_ as an invitation to imitate not like a mere interpreter, but ‘so that it will look as though we are *drinking from the same sources*, from our judgement and understanding’ as our originals. He then goes on to cite the extract from the _De Optimo Genere_ quoted above to explain what he means.

Jonson certainly knew Cicero’s remarks, which had been central to arguments about the nature of translation through the early middle ages and onwards, and which could also figure in arguments about imitatio. So St. Jerome’s Epistle 57 juxtaposed Cicero’s of translation with Horace’s injunction not to be a ‘fidus interpres’, but also very influentially associated translating word for word with the rhetorical abuse termed Kakozelia or ‘slavish imitation’. As we have seen, that rhetorical vice had been condemned by Quintilian as ‘bad affectation’, and it is the vice which Castiglione’s courtier seeks to avoid by his internalization of rhetorical and social practices into his effortless sprezzatura. In the sixteenth century there was a general preference for translating ‘like an orator’, but there was extensive debate about what Cicero meant by this phrase. What did it mean to preserve the ‘figurae’ and ‘formae’ of the original? Did Cicero mean by ‘figurae’ the figures of speech used by the author who was being translated? Or was the word ‘figura’ used in the sense which Cicero himself preferred, *to refer to a particular ‘character’ of style*?

In the fullest sixteenth-century discussion of Cicero’s gnomic remarks the Italian scholar Sebastian Fausto da Longiano concluded that by ‘forma’ and ‘figura’ Cicero probably meant ‘l’ordine delle cose’, the way in which arguments and sentences are sequenced in a speech. He also favored taking the word ‘figura’ as referring to the rhetorical ‘schemes’ or figures of the source text, but he allowed that Cicero’s ‘formis tanquam figuris’ were completely mysterious words he makes a connection between this passage and the section of the Orator (II, 36) in which Cicero connect the FORMA of an author with the word ‘character’ – a passage which we saw in Chapter 6 was crucial in encouraging an association between ‘the ideal form of an orator’ and the more humdrum sense of ‘the formal aspects of a speech’, Fausto also noted (and this was not unusual in the period) that translating ‘ut orator’ was extremely close to imitatio.

These debates about the fine line between translation and imitation are highly suggestive aids to understanding Jonson’s practice as a translator. He translated Horace not just ‘faithfully’, like a Catholic clinging to the very words of the Bible, but ‘as an orator’, with a concern for the FORMA and FIGURA of his original in all the senses of those flexible and ambiguous terms. At one moment he closely follows the rhetorical shape of his source text [note – Shakespeare/monstrous] while at another he flexes away from it to incorporate thoughts which a FORMA -an abstract IDEA, even perhaps a Platonic idea – of Horace might have had. The aim to preserve what Cicero calls the ‘vis’ or ‘force’ of the original allowed for the insertion of expansions or glosses (such as ‘thou mayst feign, create’) which reinforced its argument. (pp. 250-2)


Jonson – on the Droeshout Engraving FF

To the Reader.

This Figure, that thou here seest put,

It was for gentle Shakespeare cut,

Wherein the Graver had a strife

with Nature, to out-doo the life :

O, could he but have drawne his wit

As well in brasse, as he hath hit

His face ; the Print would then surpasse

All, that was ever writ in brasse.

But, since he cannot, Reader, looke

Not on his Picture, but his Booke.


Cicero’s discussion of translation relies on several keywords from the tradition of writing about imitation: he seeks to preserve the form (forma), kind (genus) or writing, and its force, or *vis*. That implicit association between translation and imitation frequently became explicit in sixteenth-century discussions of the topic. From Denys Lambin’s edition of the Ars Poetica in 1561 onwards it became common for commentators to cite this passage from Cicero as a gloss on Horace’s injunction not to translate as a ‘fidus interpres’. Lambin, indeed, glosses the passage from the _Ars Poetica_ as an invitation to imitate not like a mere interpreter, but ‘so that it will look as though we are *drinking from the same sources*, from our judgement and understanding’ as our originals. (Colin Burrow, Imitating Authors)


Form of the Droeshout is monstrous – a disproportionate and motley figure.


Drinking from bad/popular sources:

To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare


To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name,

Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;

While I confess thy writings to be such

As neither man nor muse can praise too much;

'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these ways

Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;

For seeliest ignorance on these may light,

Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;

Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance

The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;

Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,

And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise.

These are, as some infamous bawd or whore

Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more?

But thou art proof against them, and indeed,

Above th' ill fortune of them, or the need.

I therefore will begin. Soul of the age!

The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!


Oldham, Jonsonus Virbius

Oldham, on Jonson


Let meaner spirits stoop to low precarious Fame,

Content on gross and coarse Applause to live,

And what the dull, and sensless Rabble give,

Thou didst it still with noble scorn contemn,

Nor would'st that wretched Alms receive,

The poor subsistence of some BANKRUPT, SORDID NAME:

Thine was no EMPTY VAPOR, RAIS’D beneath,

And form'd of common Breath,

The false, and foolish Fire, that's whisk'd about

By popular Air, and glares a while, and then GOES OUT...


.Jonson, Every Man In



Though need make many poets, and some such

As art and nature have not better'd much;

Yet ours for want hath not so loved the stage,

As he dare serve the *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 swaddled, 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 Lancaster's king 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'er the seas,

Nor creaking throne comes down the boys to please;

Nor nimble squib is seen to make afeard

The gentlewomen; nor roll'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 comedy would choose,

When she would shew an image of the times,

And sport with human follies, not with crimes.

Except we make them such, by loving still

Our popular errors, when we know they're 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*.


Jonson, Cynthia's Revels

P R O L O G U E.

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. 


Empty Vapour/Monument without a Tomb


The word "monument" comes from the Latin "monumentum", derived from the word moneo, monere, which means 'to remind' or 'to warn', suggesting a monument allows us to see the past thus helping us visualize what is to come in the future.[3] In English the word "monumental" is often used in reference to something of extraordinary size and power, as in monumental sculpture, but also to mean simply anything made to commemorate the dead, as a funerary monument or other example of funerary art.



Middle English monstre, from Anglo-French, from Latin monstrum omen, monster, from monēre to warn — more at MIND


To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare


Jonson, Every Man In:


wrong not the quality of your desert, with looking

downward, Couz; but hold up your Head, so: and

let the *IDEA* of what you are, be *portray'd i' your Face*, 

that Men may read i' your Physnomy, (Here, within

this place is to be seen the true, rare, and accomplish'd Mon-

ster, or miracle of Nature, which is all one.) What

think you of this, Couz?


From Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour (3.4)

Cob. Nay, I have my rheum*, and I can be angry as well as another,


Cash. Thy rheum, Cob! thy humor, thy humor—thou mistak’st.

Cob. Humor! mack, I think it be so indeed; what is that humor?

some rare thing, I warrant.

Cash. Marry I’ll tell thee, Cob: it is a gentleman-like monster,

bred, in the special gallantry of our time, by affectation; and fed

by folly.

Cob. How! must it be fed?

Cash. Oh ay, humor is nothing if it be not fed: didst thou never

hear that? it’s a common phrase, ‘feed my humor’.




Many commentators have noted the lack of 'substantive praise' in Jonson's Folio Poem (e.g. Trimpi). In the encomium, Jonson violates his own governing principle of 'matter over words'. The result is that 'Shakespeare/Oxford' stands in a cloud of sublime 'puffery'.


Volpone's Fare , James Riddell

He (Jonson) perceives "Judging Spectators" and others in the audience, and MAY PROVIDE FOR BOTH. The crucial distinction is between fools feeding upon follies and becoming thereby more foolish, and wise men savoring follies and becoming thereby wiser. The fare may be all one; in that case, the way in which it is consumed sets off the fools from the understanders. If the fare is not all one, of course, different understanding is required.


Volpone's Fare

James A. Riddell

Fare Jovially

In the epilogue Volpone proposes that the play is a meal which the playwright offers, its seasoning to be provided by the audience. But what constitutes the main dish? Mischiefs grown fat? The Fox mortified? In either case the prospect is not an appetizing one. Volpone's statement, in fact, is as much a challenge as it is an invitation. The audience is asked to see the effects of bestial appetite and at the same time to enjoy being fed upon them. The last line - if one *understands* it - makes it clear that this is the case.

As J.D. Rea points out in his edition of Volpone, the last line most probably echoes the final sentence of the _Moriae Encomium_, in which Folly says: "Quare valete, plaudite, vivite, bibite, Moriae celeberimi mystae" (Therefore farewell, applaud, live, drink, you illustrious votaries of Folly). It should be noted that in an important way this sentence does not stand by itself, for commonly included in sixteenth- century printings of the _Moriae Encomium_ was the commentary attributed to Girardus Listrius. Referring to "valete, plaudite" in the text, the commentary runs as follows: "His verbis utebatur recitator fabulae, discessurus e proscenio. De suo addidit, vivite, bibite. Et vivere proprie est genialiter vivere" (The teller of the story used these words as he was about to leave the stage. He (Erasmus) has added live, drink. And to live properly is to live genially).

The implication of this allusion to the Epilogue of Volpone is striking, the more so because of the pun that Jonson introduces in his translation of "genialiter vivere" into "fare Jovially." Although "fare" could mean either "live" or "eat," the context makes "eat" more likely, which in turn is consistent with the play itself, for in Volpone's world "to live" is "to fare" in the sense of "to consume." "Farewell," of course, is the term that would be expected at the end of a play; Jonson relies upon that which might be expected to emphasize the variation he has rung in. Members of the audience, votaries of Folly, not only are being served up a meal appropriate to their appetites, but also are invited to season it with their applause - and then are enjoined to "fare Jovially," to consume (mindlessly the entire concoction. (A yet fuller understanding of Jonson's alteration, it might be argued, comes through the recognition that he has toyed with the meaning of "bibite" and conflated that with "vivite" to yield the English pun which inheres in "fare.") Jonson contrives to mollify and yet to insult the portion of his audience who do not understand his meaning, while at the same time flattering the rest of the audience because they understand it.


The 'Bumpkinification' of Oxford:

Jonson on Shakespeare:

Soul of the age!

The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our stage!


Jonson, _Timber_

3. Imitatio. - Horatius. - Virgil. - Statius. - Homer. - Horat. -Archil. - Alcæus, &c. - The third requisite in our poet or maker is imitation, to be able to convert the substance or riches of another poet to his own use. To make choice of one excellent man above the rest, and so to follow him till he grow very he, or so like him as the copy may be mistaken for the principal. Not as a creature that swallows what it takes in crude, raw, or undigested, but that feeds with an appetite, and hath a stomach to concoct, divide, and turn all into nourishment. Not to imitate servilely, as Horace saith, and catch at vices for virtue, but to draw forth out of the best and choicest flowers, with the bee, and turn all into honey, work it into one relish and savour; make our imitation sweet; observe how the best writers have imitated, and follow them. How Virgil and Statius have imitated Homer; how Horace, Archilochus; how Alcæus, and the other lyrics; and so of the rest.


Encomium \En*co"mi*um\, n.; pl. Encomiums. [NL., fr. Gr. ? (a

song) chanted in a Bacchic festival in praise of the god; ?

in + ? a JOVIAL festivity, revel. See Comedy.]

Warm or high praise; panegyric; strong commendation.


Jonson's Encomium - First Folio Fare:

Ben Jonson and Cervantes

Yumiko Yamada

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

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

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

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

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

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


In the dedication of his play _Catiline_ (1611) to William Herbert, one of the 'Incomparable Brethren' of the First Folio, Jonson writes of his despair over the 'ignorance' of the age:

To the Great Example of H O N O U R and V E R T U E, the most Noble


E A R L of P E M B R O K E , L O R D C H A M B E R L A I N, &c.

M Y L O R D,

IN so thick and dark an IGNORANCE, as now almost covers the AGE, I crave leave to stand near your

IN so thick and dark an IGNORANCE, as now almost covers the AGE, I crave leave to stand near your Light, and by that to be read. Posterity may pay your Benefit the Honour and Thanks, when it shall know, that you dare, in these Jig-given times, to countenance a Legitimate Poem. I must call it so, against all noise of Opinion: from whose crude and airy Reports, I appeal to that great and singular Faculty of Judgment in your Lordship, able to vindicate Truth from Error.


Colin Burrow, Imitating Authors

Did Cicero mean by ‘figurae’ the figures of speech used by the author who was being translated? Or was the word ‘figura’ used in the sense which Cicero himself preferred, *to refer to a particular ‘character’ of style*?


Droeshout gives us Shake-speare's 'CHARACTER'. I believe this to be the solution to the visual riddle of the Droeshout. The Encomium is written mockingly in the style/manner if Shake-speare. 


Thomas Overbury:

What a Character is.

If I must speake the Schoole-masters language, I will confesse that Character comes of this Infinitive moode (greek letters) which signifies to engrave, or make a deep Impression. And for that cause, a letter (as A.B.) is challed a Character.

     Those Elements which wee learne first, leaving a strong seale in our memories.

      Character is also taken for an Aegyptian Hieroglyphicke, for an impresse, or short Embleme; in little comprehending much.

     To square out a Character by our English levell, it is a picture (reall or personall) quaintly drawne, in various colours, all of them heightned by one shadowing.

It is a quicke and soft touch of many strings, all shutting up in one musicall cloze: It is wits descant on any plaine song.


Cynthias Revels, Jonson


Cupid. What's he, Mercury?

   Mercury. A notable Smelt. One, that hath newly enter-

tain'd the Begger to follow him, but cannot get him to

wait near enough. 'Tis Asotus, the Heir of Philargyrus;

but first I'll give ye the others CHARACTER, which may

make his the clearer. He that is with him is Amorphus

a Traveller, *one so made out of the mixture and shreds

of forms, that himself is truly deform'd*. He walks

most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his

Mouth, he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-

haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of

Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus. He speaks all

Cream skim'd, and more affected than a dozen of wait-

ing Women. He is his own Promoter in every place.

The Wife of the Ordinary gives him his Diet to main-

tain her Table in discourse, which (indeed) is a meer

Tyranny over the other Guests, for he will usurp all

the talk: *Ten Constables are not so tedious*. 



Billy Budd/Vere’s Bastard Book

Milton, Areopagitica

We have it not, that can be heard of, from any ancient State, or politie, or Church, nor by any Statute left us by our Ancestors elder or later; nor from the moderne custom of any refor∣med Citty, or Church abroad; but from the most Antichristian Councel, and the most tyrannous Inquisition that ever inquir'd. Till then Books were ever as freely admitted into the World as any other birth: the issue of the brain was no more stifl'd then the issue of the womb: no envious Juno sate cros-leg'd over the nativity of any mans intellectuall off spring; *but if it prov'd a Monster, who denies, but that it was justly burnt, or sunk into the Sea*. 


Billy Budd/Beauty - noble foundling

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


Melville, Hawthorne and his Mosses

Would that all excellent books were FOUNDLINGS, without father or mother, that so it might be, we could glorify them, without including their ostensible authors. Nor would any true man take exception to this;--least of all, he who writes,--"When the Artist rises high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he makes it perceptible to mortal senses becomes of little value in his eyes, while his spirit possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality."

But more than this, I know not what would be the right name to put on the title-page of an excellent book, but this I feel, that the names of all fine authors are fictitious ones, far more than that of Junius,--simply standing, as they do, for the mystical, ever-eluding SPIRIT of all BEAUTY, which ubiquitously possesses men of genius. Purely imaginative as this fancy may appear, it nevertheless seems to receive some warranty from the fact, that on a personal interview no great author has ever come up to the idea of his reader. But that dust of which our bodies are composed, how can it fitly express the nobler intelligences among us? With reverence be it spoken, that not even in the case of one deemed more than man, not even in our Saviour, did his visible frame betoken anything of the augustness of the nature within. Else, how could those Jewish eyewitnesses fail to see heaven in his glance.


Jonson, Cynthia's Revels

Act I.    Scene III.

Amorphus, Eccho, Mercury.

Dear spark of Beauty, make not so fast away.

   Ecc. Away.

   Mer. Stay, let me observe this Portent yet.

   Amo. I am neither your Minotaure, nor your Centaure,

nor your Satyre, nor your Hyæna, nor your Babion, but

your meer Traveler, believe me.

   Ecc. Leave me.

   Mer. I guess'd it should be some travelling motion

pursu'd Eccho so.

   Amo. Know you from whom you flye? or whence?

   Ecc. Hence.

   Amo. This is somewhat above strange! a Nymph of her

Feature and Lineament, to be so preposterously rude! well,

I will but cool my self at yon' Spring, and follow her.

   Mer. Nay, then I am familiar with the issue: I'll leave

you too.

   Amo. I am a Rhinoceros, if I had thought a Creature

of her symmetry, could have dar'd so improportionable,

and abrupt a digression. Liberal, and divine Fount,

suffer my prophane hand to take of thy Bounties. By

the Purity of my taste, here is most ambrosiack Water;

I will sup of it again. By thy favour, sweet fount.

See, the Water (a more running, subtile, and humo-

rous Nymph than she) permits me to touch, and handle

her. What should I infer? If my Behaviours had been

of a cheap or customary garb; my Accent or Phrase vulgar; my Garments trite; my Countenance illite-

rate, or unpractis'd in the incounter of a beautiful and

brave attir'd Piece; then I might (with some change

of colour) have suspected my Faculties: but know-

ing my self an essence so sublimated, and refin'd by

travel; of so studied, and well exercis'd a Gesture; so

alone in Fashion; able to render the face of any States-

man living; and so speak the meer extraction of Lan-

guage; one that hath now made the sixth return upon

ventuer; and was your first that ever inricht his Coun-

trey with the true Laws of the duello; whose optiques

have drunk the spirit of Beauty, in some Eight score

and eighteen Princes Courts, where I have resided, and

been there fortunate in the amours of Three hundred

forty and five Ladies (all Nobly, if not Princely de-

scended) whose names I have in Catalogue; to con-

clude, in all so happy, as even Admiration her self doth

seem to fasten her kisses upon me: Certes, I do neither

see, nor feel, nor taste, nor favour the least steam, or

fume of a reason, that should invite this foolish fastidi-

ous Nymph, so peevishly to abandon me. Well, let the

Memory of her fleet into Air; *my thoughts and I am

for this other ELEMENT, WATER.*


moisture, fluxure, humour - Jonson



Jonson, CR

'Tis now the known Disease

That Beauty hath, to bear too deep a sense

Of her own Self-conceived Excellence.


Melville's Finial, Shakespeare's Urn:

Herman Melville, Haglets

...By chapel bare, with walls sea-beat,

The lichened urns in wilds are lost

About a carved memorial stone

That shows, decayed and coral-mossed,

A form recumbent, swords at feet,

Trophies at head, and kelp for a winding-sheet.


Billy Budd, Melville

But me they’ll lash me in hammock, drop me deep.

Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I’ll dream fast asleep.

I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?

Just ease these darbies at the wrist,

And roll me over fair.

I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.



Droeshout Monster/Bastard/Monument

The etymology of monstrosity suggests the complex roles that monsters play within society. 'Monster' probably derives from the Latin, monstrare, meaning 'to demonstrate', and monere, 'to warn'. Monsters, in essence, are demonstrative. They reveal, portend, show and make evident, often uncomfortably so. Though the modern gothic monster and the medieval chimaera may seem unrelated, both have acted as important social tools.

(What is a monster? | University of Cambridge)


Monere – remind – Dear Son of Memory


Monument without a tomb...


FF - Jonson Rearing a 'Trophy'- Victory over Error/Bad Form:

Eccho. Here young Acteon fell, pursu'd, and torn

by Cynthia's wrath (more eager than his Hounds)

And here (ay me, the place is fatal) see

The weeping Niobe, translated hither

From Phrygian Mountains: any by Phœbe rear'd,

As the *proud Trophæe of her sharp revenge*.

(Cynthia's Revels, Jonson)


Love’s Martyr/Vere's Sacrifice:


If my dear love were but the child of state,

It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,

As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,

Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.

No, it was builded far from accident;

It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls

Under the blow of thralled discontent,

Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls:

It fears not policy, that heretic,

Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,

But all alone stands hugely politic,

That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.

   To this I witness call the fools of time,

   Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.


Arthur Golding to Edward de Vere (Epistle Dedicatorie,  Psalms):

...I beseech your Lordship consider how God hath placed you upon a high stage in the eyes of all men, as a guide, patterne, insample and leader unto others. If your vertues be uncounterfayted, if your religion should be sound and pure, if your doings be according to true godlines: you shal be a stay to your cuntrie, a comforte too good men, a bridle to evil men, a joy to your friends, a corzie to your enemies, and an encreace of honor to your owne house. But if you should become eyther a counterfayt Protestant, or a perverse Papist, or a colde and careless newter (which God forbid) the harme could not be expressed which you should do to your native Cuntrie. For (as Cicero no lesse truely than wisely affirmeth and as the sorowfull dooings of our present dayes do too much certeinly avouch) greate men hurt not the common weale so much by beeing evil in respect of themselves, as by drawing others unto evel by their evil example...



For it is VIRTUE that

gives glory; that will endenizen a man everywhere. It is only that

can naturalise him. A native, if he be VICIOUS, deserves to be a

stranger, and cast out of the commonwealth as an Alien.




This Figure that thou here seest put,

It was for gentle SHAKSPEARE cut,

Wherein the graver had a strife

With Nature, to out-doo the life :

O could he but have drawn his wit

As well in BRASS, as he has hit

His face (note-form) ; the print would then surpass

All that was ever writ in BRASS :

But since he cannot, reader, look

Not on his picture, but his book.


Men's evil manners live in BRASS; their virtues

We write in water. (Shakespeare)


'SEEMS to Shake a Lance' and 'Start Forth and SEEM' - Jonson


Folly, and brain-sick HUMOURS of the time,

Distemper'd passion, and audacious crime,

Thy pen so on the stage doth personate,

That ere men scarce begin to know, they hate

The vice presented, and there lessons learn,

Virtue, from vicious habits to discern.

Oft have I seen thee in a sprightly strain,

To lash a vice, and yet no one complain ;

Thou threw'st the ink of malice from thy pen,

Whose aim was EVIL MANNERS, not ill men.

(Hawkins, Jonsonus Virbius)


Jonson, Epigrammes:

To  the  great  Example  of  Honour,  and  Vertue , the  most

Noble William, Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain, &c.

 M Y   L O R D,

WHile you cannot change your Merit, I dare not change your Title: It was that made it, and not I. Under which Name, I here offer to your Lordship the ripest of my Studies, my Epigrams; which, though they carry danger in the sound, do not therefore seek your shelter: For, when I made them, I had nothing in my Conscience, to expressing of which I did need a Cypher. But, if I be fallen into those Times, wherein, for the likeness of Vice, and Facts, every one thinks anothers ill Deeds objected to him; and that in their ignorant and guilty Mouths, the common Voice is (for their security) Beware the Poet, confessing, therein, so much love to their Diseases, as they would rather make a Party for them, than be either rid, or told of them: I must expect, at your Lordship's hand, the protection of Truth, and Liberty, while you are constant to your own Goodness. In thanks whereof, I return you the Honour of leading forth so many good, and great Names (as my Verses mention on the better part) to their remembrance with Posterity. Amongst whom, if I have praised, unfortunately, any one, that doth not deserve; or, if all answer not, in all Numbers, the Pictures I have made of them: I hope it will be forgiven me, that they are no ill Pieces, though they be not like the Persons. But I foresee a nearer Fate to my Book than this, That the Vices therein will be own'd before the Vertues, (though, there, I have avoided all Particulars, as I have done Names) and some will be so ready to discredit me, as they will have the impudence to bely themselves. For, if I meant them not, it is so. Nor, can I hope otherwise. For, why should they remit any thing of their Riotcomma omitted their Pride, their Self-love, and other inherent Graces, to consider Truth or Vertue; but, with the Trade of the World, lend their long Ears against Men they love not: And hold their dear Mountebank, or Jester, in far better Condition than all the Study, or Studiers of Humanity? For such, I would rather know them by their Visards, still, than they should publish their Faces, at their peril, in my Theatre, where C A T O, if he liv'd, might enter without scandal.

By your Lordship's most faithfull Honourer,                   

B E N.  J O H N S O N. 


Bad Imitation in Cynthia's Revels:

Mercury: (...)'Tis Asotus, the Heir of Philargyrus;

but first I'll give ye the others Character, which may

make his the clearer. He that is with him is Amorphus

a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds

of forms, that himself is truly deform'd. He walks

most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his

Mouth, he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-

haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of

Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus. He speaks all

Cream skim'd, and more affected than a dozen of wait-

ing Women. He is his own Promoter in every place.

The Wife of the Ordinary gives him his Diet to main-

tain her Table in discourse, which (indeed) is a meer

Tyranny over the other Guests, for he will usurp all

the talk: Ten Constables are not so tedious. He is no

great shifter, once a year his Apparel is ready to revolt.

He doth use much to arbitrate Quarrels, and fights him-

self, exceeding well (out at a Window.) He will lye

cheaper than any Begger, and lowder than most Clocks;

for which he is right properly accommodated to the

Whetstone his Page. The other Gallant is his Zani, and

doth most of these Tricks after him; sweats to imitate

him in every thing (to a Hair) except a Beard, which is

not yet extant. He doth learn to make strange Sauces,

to eat Anchovies, Maccaroni, Bovoli, Fagioli, and Ca-

viare, because he loves 'em; speaks as he speaks, looks,

walks, goes so in Cloaths and Fashion: *is in all as if he

were moulded of him*.  


Loves Labours Lost - Shakespeare



O thou monster Ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!


Jonson, Cynthia's Revels:

Act II.    Scene III. 

 Amorphus. Plant your self there, Sir: and observe me. You

shall now, as well be the Ocular, as the Ear-witness,

how clearly I can refel that paradox, or rather pseudodox;

of those, which hold the Face to be the Index of the

mind, which (I assure you) is not so, in any politick

Creature: for instance; I will now give you the parti-

cular, and distinct face of every your most noted *SPECIES*

of Persons, as your Merchant, your Schollar, your 

Soldier, your Lawyer, Courtier, &c. and each of these

so truly, as *you would swear*, but that your Eye shall

see the variation of the Lineament, *it were my most

PROPER and GENUINE aspect*. 



species, forma, figura, modus, sors


Jonson on Shakespeare

 Look how the father's FACE

Lives in his issue, even so the RACE

Of Shakespeare's mind and manners brightly shines

In his well-turned, and true-filed lines;

In each of which he *SEEMS* to shake a lance,

As brandish'd at the *EYES OF IGNORANCE.


Epigraph, Catiline - Jonson

*----------His non plebecula gaudet:

Verum equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas

Omnis, ad incertos oculos, & gaudia vana. Horat.

For such things please the common herd. But today all the pleasure

even of the knights has moved from what is heard to the empty delights

of the uncertain eye.' 


Jonson on Shakespeare

Mount Bank

Sweet Swan of Avon ! what a *sight* it were

*To see thee in our waters* yet appear, [uroscopy lol]

And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,

That so did take Eliza, and our James ! 


Jonson, _The Alchemist_


If thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust thee. If thou art one that takest up, and but a pretender, beware of what hands thou receivest thy commodity; for thou wert never more fair in the way to be COZENED, than in THIS AGE, in poetry, especially in plays: wherein, now the CONCUPISCENCE of DANCES and of ANTICS so reigneth, as to run away from nature, and be afraid of her, is the only point of art that tickles the spectators. But how out of purpose, and place, do I name art? When the professors are grown so obstinate contemners of it, and presumers on their own naturals, as they are deriders of all diligence that way, and, by simple mocking at the terms, when they understand not the things, think to get off wittily with their IGNORANCE. 


Jonson, Discoveries

Deus in creaturis.—Man is read in his FACE; God in His creatures; not as the philosopher, the creature of glory, reads him; but as the divine, the servant of humility; yet even he must take care not to be too curious.  For to utter truth of God but as he thinks only, may be dangerous, who is best known by our not knowing.  Some things of Him, so much as He hath revealed or commanded, it is not only lawful but necessary for us to know; for therein our ignorance was the first cause of our wickedness.

Veritas proprium hominis.—Truth is man’s proper good, and the only immortal thing was given to our mortality to use.  No good Christian or ethnic, if he be honest, can miss it; no statesman or patriot should.  For without truth all the actions of mankind are craft, malice, or what you will, rather than wisdom.  Homer says he hates him worse than hell-mouth that utters one thing with his tongue and keeps another in his breast.  Which high expression was grounded on divine reason; for a lying mouth is a stinking pit, and murders with the *contagion it venteth*.  Beside, nothing is lasting that is feigned; it will have another FACE than it had, ere long. [41]  As Euripides saith, “No lie ever grows old.”