Monday, June 25, 2012

Shakespeare to Thee was DULL

William Cartwright:

...Shakespeare to thee was DULL, whose best jest lyes
I'th Ladies questions, and the Fooles replyes;
Old fashion'd wit, which walkt from town to town
In turn'd Hose, which our fathers call'd the CLOWN;
Whose wit our nice times would obsceannesse call,
And which made Bawdry passe for Comicall:
Nature was all his Art, thy veine was FREE
As his, but without his SCURILITY;


Clown \Clown\ (kloun), n. [Cf. Icel. klunni a clumsy, boorish

fellow, North Fries. kl["o]nne clown, dial. Sw. klunn log,
Dan. klunt log, block, and E. clump, n.]

1. A man of coarse nature and manners; an awkward fellow; an
ill-bred person; a boor. --Sir P. Sidney.

2. One who works upon the soil; a rustic; a churl.

The clown, the child of nature, without guile.

3. The fool or buffoon in a play, circus, etc.

The clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are
tickle o'the sere. --Shak.


Cut/discretion/judgement vs. Dullness/lack of discernment/ignorance


Dulness is the goddess who presides over Alexander Pope's The Dunciad. She is the daughter of Nox and Chaos, and her mission is to convert all the world to stupidity. Her triumph is part of the translatio stultitia (the inverse of the translatio studii). As "enlightenment" moves ever westward, darkness follows behind. In Pope's poem, she already has control of all political writing and seeks to extend her reign to drama. Hence, she chooses as a champion Lewis Theobald (Dunciad A) and Colley Cibber (Dunciad B).

Pope presents her power as inexorable and irresistible, and in Book IV of the Dunciad B he asks only that she pause a moment to let him write his poem before she takes "the singer and the song" into her oblivion. She is not motivated by any particular malice, and she even shows mercy at one point, if being reduced to insensibility is mercy, for, when a deflowered nun comes before her, she drops her cloak of shamelessness over the ruined woman. Instead, she has an essential antipathy toward learning and independent thinking, and, for Pope, loss of the ability to discern, to think, and to appreciate is a living death and the license of all evil.

For Pope, who was himself a Roman Catholic, the papacy's doctrine of infallibility, absolute monarchy, foreign language opera, flattery, the replacement of sound architecture for politically well placed hacks, the redesign of good (classically ordered) buildings, the money grubbing of what would now be called tabloid press are all signs of the triumph of Dulness over reason and light. Each of these things represents choosing the less thoughtful over the more rational choice, each requires credulity and acceptance over curiosity and independence, and therefore Pope blames, at least as much as any agent of Dulness, an indifferent and uneducated public.


Dull Grinning Ignorance:

John Beaumont , Jonsonus Virbius

...Twas he that found (plac'd) in the seat of wit,
DULL grinning IGNORANCE, and banish'd it;
He on the prostituted stage appears
To make men hear, not by their eyes, but ears;
Who painted virtues, that each one might know,
And point the man, that did such treasure owe :
So that who could in JONSON'S lines be high
Needed not honours, or a riband buy ;
But vice he only shewed us in a glass,
Which by reflection of those rays that pass,
Retains the figure lively, set before,
And that withdrawn, reflects at us no more;
So, he observ'd the like decorum, when
*He whipt the vices, and yet spar'd the men* :
When heretofore, the Vice's only note,
And sign from virtue was his party-coat;
When devils were the last men on the stage,
And pray'd for plenty, and the PRESENT AGE.


Dunce \Dunce\, n. [From Joannes Duns Scotus, a schoolman called
the Subtle Doctor, who died in 1308. Originally in the phrase
``a Duns man''. See Note below.]

One backward in book learning; a child or other person dull
or weak in intellect; a dullard; a dolt.

I never knew this town without dunces of figure.

Note: The schoolmen were often called, after their great
leader Duns Scotus, Dunsmen or Duncemen. In the revival
of learning they were violently opposed to classical
studies; hence, the name of Dunce was applied with
scorn and contempt to an opposer of learning, or to one
slow at learning, a dullard.


Edward de Vere/Amorphus - Jonson's Literary Dunce

Literary dunces are persons, either real or legendary, who are used in literature as targets of satire. This usage of the term derives from Alexander Pope's landmark poetic satire, The Dunciad, and the category is to be used specifically for figures used as dunces by 18th-century British satire (in the standard literary-historical sense of the "long" 18th century, 1660–1800).

Also for early 19th-century authors who used the same general terminology (e.g., Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge who knew and used Pope's category). Dunces are not villains, although they can be villainous, as much as they are held up as the epitome of stupidity, imposture, and connivance. Membership in this category does not imply that the figure was a dullard. In fact, the opposite is likely true, as these figures needed to rise to a position of importance to be satirized in this way. Instead, these are figures who were satirized particularly as symbols of all things "WRONG" with society or a particular political position. Unfortunately, in some cases it has overshadowed their merits.


"Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatic Poet, William Shakespeare" -- John Milton
1632 Second Folio

WHAT need my Shakespear for his honour'd Bones,
The labour of an age in piled Stones,
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a Star-ypointing Pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of Fame,
What need'st thou such DULL witnes of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thy self a lasting Monument...


Horace Of the Art of Poetry - transl. Ben Jonson

...Most writers, noble sire and either son,
Are, with the LIKENESS OF THE TRUTH, undone.
Myself for shortness labour, and I grow
Obscure. This, striving to run smooth, and flow,
Hath neither soul nor sinews. Lofty he
Professing greatness, swells; that, low by lee,
Creeps on the ground; too safe, afraid of storm.
This seeking, in a various kind, to form
One thing prodigiously, paints in the woods
A dolphin, and a boar amid the floods.
So shunning faults to greater fault doth lead,

Ambisinister Droeshout - 'Wrong' in both hands
Literary Dunce of Figure
King of Dunces
Figure of Fun

This FIGURE that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle SHAKSPEARE CUT,
Wherein the graver had a strife
With nature, to out-do the life :
O could he but have drawn his WIT
As well in brass, as he has hit
His FACE ; 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.

It was for gentle Shakspeare CUT:

Cut/discretion/judgement vs. Dullness/lack of discernment/ignorance


Puttenham, Shakespeare, and the abuse of rhetoric.
By: Hillman, David, Studies in English Literature (Rice), 00393657, Winter96, Vol. 36, Issue 1

...The way in which this criss-crossing shaped the uses of the word "discretion" in early modern England is the subject of this essay.


The term came into prominence in a wide range of texts and acquired a new range of meanings during the early modern period. According to the OED, the word had, prior to 1590, denoted personal 'judgement," "discernment," or "prudence," as well as juridical "power of disposal" (in addition to being an honorific title, in such phrases as "your high and wise discretion"). But early modern discourse saw a burgeoning of overlapping meanings in a variety of cultural spheres. These included personal attributes (tact, propriety of behavior, or secrecy--in explicit contrast to madness, impertinence, and rashness); a social classification (the separation of those who possess these attributes--the "discreet"--from those who do not, and of those who have reached the "age of discretion" from those who have not); the legal power to enforce this stratification (the authority or "discretion of the law"); and the ostensibly purely aesthetic separations of literary decorum (the discrezione or "discernment" of Italian neoclassical literary theory; the Indo-European base of the word--[*][s]ker, to cut--is in fact the same as that of "critic"). The Latin root of "discretion"--cernere, to sift out--was reunited with the word only at the end of the sixteenth century, when it again began to mean, quite simply, "separation"; and it is this meaning, separation as such, that underlies the potential of the word to be used, in all these diverse contexts, to ground a hierarchical ideology. The word was almost invariably used in Elizabethan England as a means of constructing social, cultural, or aesthetic difference.

Alexander Pope

...of all English Poets Shakespear must be confessed to be the fairest and fullest subject for Criticism, and to afford the most numerous, as well as the most conspicuous instances, both of beauties and faults of all sorts. (ibid. p. i)


Shakespeare/Oxford as Jonson's Foolish and Indiscreet Other:

The word [discretion]was almost invariably used in Elizabethan England as a means of constructing social, cultural, or aesthetic difference. (Hillman)


Neither Decency nor Discretion - Oxford as Sidney's Foolish and Indiscreet Other:

Sidney, Defense of Poetry

But, besides these gross absurdities, how all their plays be neither right tragedies nor right comedies, mingling kings and clowns, not because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clown by head and shoulders to play a part in majestical matters, with neither decency nor discretion; so as neither the admiration and commiseration, nor the right sportfulness, is by their mongrel tragi-comedy obtained. I know Apuleius did somewhat so, but that is a thing recounted with space of time, not represented in one moment; and I know the ancients have one or two examples of tragi-comedies, as Plautus hath Amphytrio. But, if we mark them well, we shall find that they never, or very daintily, match hornpipes and funerals. So falleth it out that, having indeed no right comedy in that comical part of our tragedy, we have nothing but scurrility, unworthy of any chaste ears, or some extreme show of doltishness, indeed fit to lift up a loud laughter, and nothing else; where the whole tract of a comedy should be full of delight, as the tragedy should be still maintained in a well-raised admiration.


But our comedians think there is no delight without laughter, which is very wrong; for though laughter may come with delight, yet cometh it not of delight, as though delight should be the cause of laughter; but well may one thing breed both together. Nay, rather in themselves they have, as it were, a kind of contrariety. For delight we scarcely do, but in things that have a conveniency to ourselves, or to the general nature; laughter almost ever cometh of things most disproportioned to ourselves and nature. Delight hath a joy in it either permanent or present; laughter hath only a scornful tickling...But I have lavished out too many words of this playmatter. I do it, because as they are excelling parts of poesy, so is there none so much used in England, and none can be more pitifully abused; which, like an unmannerly daughter, showing a bad education, causeth her mother Poesy`s honesty to be called in question.


Hamlet, the Gravedigger, and Indecorous Decorum

Maurice Hunt

...Hamlet's and Horatio's reactions to the gravedigger's little song are revealing. Hamlet is a true Sidneyan in his insistence upon DECORUM. "Has this fellow no feeling of his business, the 'a sings at gravemaking?" Gravediggers, in Hamlet's opinion, should be consistently grave, especially when they are about their mystery. Hornpipes and funerals should not be mixed in Hamlet's tragic world. His neoclassical attitude perhaps derives from his profound disappointment over his mother's unseemly and hasty remarriage. He has heard Claudius, with oily art, exclaim:

Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
The imperial jointress to this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,
With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
Taken to wife:

It was the marriage mirth disturbing the solemnity of his father's funeral that partly alienated Hamlet and helped solidify his philosophy of decorum, which is succinctly phrased in his advice to the Player about suiting "the action to the word, the word to the action". Hearing the gravedigger happily sing of love in the midst of death, Hamlet assumes that the Clown, like Claudius, has "no feeling of his business." The word "feeling" in this context is ironic. Hamlet of course means "Has this fellow no proper understanding of his somber role in society?" The gravedigger does have a "feeling" here - an affection for a beloved that Hamlet overlooks in his judgment. Like Sir Philip Sidney, Hamlet will not admit the tragicomic view of life.


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 artlesse 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.

Soul of an Ignorant Age:



IN so thicke, and darke an IGNORANCE, as now almost couers the AGE, I craue leaue to stand neare 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 Poëme. I must call it so, against all noise of Opinion: from whose crude, and airy Reports, I appeale, to that great and singular Faculty of Iudgment in your Lordship, able to vindicate Truth from Error. It is the first (of this RACE) that euer I dedicated to any Person, and had I not thought it the best, it should haue beene taught a lesse ambition. Now, it approacheth your Censure chearefully, and with the same assurance, that Innocency would appeare before a Magistrate.

Your Lo. most faithfull Honorer. Ben. Ionson.

crude, and airy Reports - '"My lord, I had forgott the fart." (Aubrey on Oxford)


FALKLAND, _Jonsonus Virbius_

...How in an IGNORANT, and learn'd AGE he [Jonson] swaid,
(Of which the first he found, the second made)
How He, when he could know it, reapt his Fame,
And long out-liv'd the envy of his Name:


Jonson, Discoveries

De Poetica. - We have spoken sufficiently of oratory, let us now make a diversion to poetry. Poetry, in the primogeniture, had many PECCANT HUMOURS, and IS MADE TO HAVE MORE NOW, through the levity and inconstancy of men' s judgments. Whereas, indeed, it is the most prevailing eloquence, and of the most exalted caract. Now the discredits and disgraces are many it hath received through men' s study of depravation or calumny; their practice being to give it diminution of credit, by lessening the professor' s estimation, and making THE AGE afraid of their liberty; and THE AGE is grown so tender of her fame, as she calls all writings aspersions.

That is the state word, the PHRASE OF COURT (placentia college), which some call PARASITES PLACE, the INN OF IGNORANCE.


Peccant \Pec"cant\, a. [L. peccans, -antis, p. pr. of peccare to

sin: cf. F. peccant.]

1. Sinning; guilty of transgression; criminal; as, peccant
angels. --Milton.

2. Morbid; corrupt; as, peccant humors. --Bacon.

3. WRONG; defective; FAULTY. [R.] --Ayliffe.

Trophaeum Peccati - On Recorder of Stratford Greville's 'tomb' in Warwick

Shakespeare's Ignorant Admirers:


I remember, the Players have often mentioned it as an honour to
Shakespeare, that in his writing, (whatsoever he penn'd) hee never
BLOTTED out line. My answer hath beene, would he had BLOTTED a
thousand. Which they thought malevolent speech. I had not told
posterity this, but for their IGNORANCE, who choose that circumstance
to commend their friend by, wherein he most FAULTED...

Alexander Pope

...of all English Poets Shakespear must be confessed to be the fairest and fullest subject for Criticism, and to afford the most numerous, as well as the most conspicuous instances, both of beauties and faults of all sorts. (ibid. p. i)


The RACE of Shakespeare's Mind and Manners:


TO THE Most Learned, and my Honour'd Friend,

Mr. C A M B D E N,
C L A R E N T I A U X.


IT Here are, no doubt, a Supercilious RACE in the World, who will esteem all Office, done you in this kind, an Injury; so Solemn a Vice it is with them to use the Authority of their IGNORANCE, to the crying down of Poetry, or the Professors: But my Gratitude must not leave to correct their Error; since I am none of those that can suffer the Benefits confer'd upon my Youth to perish with my Age. It is a frail Memory that remembers but present things: And, had the Favour of the times so conspir'd with my Disposition, as it could have brought forth other, or better, you had had the same proportion, and number of the Fruits, the first. Now, I pray you to accept this; such, wherein neither the Consession of my MANNERS shall make you blush; nor of my Studies, repent you to have been the Instructer: And for the profession of my thankfulnes, I am sure it will, WITH GOOD MEN, find either Praise or Excuse.

Your True Lover,


Shakespeare/Scurra - The 'Bumpkinification of the Earl of Oxford'


_Mirth Making_, Chris Holcomb

In his Ethics, Aristotle suggests that changes in stylistic and substantive predilections indicate advances in civilization. While enumerating the differences between the jesting of a buffoon and a witty gentleman, Aristotle compares each character type to Old and New Comedy, respectively: "The difference (between a buffoon and a gentleman) may be seen by comparing the old and modern comedies; the earlier dramatists found their fun in obscenity, the modern prefer innuendo, which marks a great advance in decorum; (4.8.6). This comparison suggest that smutty humor is less civilized than the more refined humor delivered through innuendo. (footnote pp. 199-200)

William Cartwright

...Shakespeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lyes
I'th Ladies questions, and the Fooles replyes; [70]
OLD FASHION'D WIT, which walkt from town to town
In turn'd Hose, which our fathers call'd the CLOWN;
Whose wit our nice times would obsceannesse call,
And which made Bawdry passe for Comicall:
Nature was all his Art, thy veine was FREE
As his, but without his SCURILITY;


Mirth Making. The Rhetorical Discourse on Jesting in Early Modern England

Chris Holcomb

...Associations between social status and certain forms of jesting appear as early as the Nicomachean Ethics, where Aristotle classifies different modes of jesting according to three social types: the boor, the buffoon, and the witty man of tact. Aristotle has little to say about boorish men except that they never say "anything funny themselves and take offense at those who do" (4.8.3) Instead, Aristotle dwells on differences between the buffoon and man of wit, and in differentiating these two social types, he associates indecorous jests with those of the lower-class buffoon and decorous ones with those of a gentleman. 'Those who go to excess in ridicule are thought to be buffoons or VULGAR FELLOWS, who itch to have their joke at all costs, and are more concerned to raise a laugh than to keep within the bounds of decorum' (4.8.3). The buffoon often jests in a 'servile' and often obscene fashion (4.8.5-6), he 'cannot resist a joke,' he will 'not keep his tongue off himself or anyone else, if he can raise a laugh,' and he 'will say things which a man of refinement would never say' (4.8.10). Those 'who jest with good taste,' by contrast, will say 'only the sort of things that are suitable to a virtuous man and a gentleman; (4.8.5). They prefer to jest by way of 'innuendo, which marks a great advance in decorum,' and they will never stoop so low in their jesting as to say anything 'unbecoming to a gentleman' (4.8.6-7). The line Aristotle draws here is not simply one between the indecorous and decorous; it is also one between the lower and upper classes. And while Aristotle couches his distinctions in more or less descriptive (although elitist) terms, they do have prescriptive force. If a speaker is to show himself as a 'man of refinement,' he must limit his jesting behaviours and avoid the excesses of the buffoon.

Cicero and Quintilian adopt Aristotle's method of classifying decorous and indecorous jests along class lines, and they both use the buffoon and well-bred man of tact to define forms of jesting befitting an orator (the boor, as often happens in everyday life, is left out of their discussions of jesting). But they add to the ranks of the buffoon (or SCURRA, in Latin) a cast of characters familiar from the Roman stage, street performances, and entertainments provided at a gentleman's dinner party - characters including the mime (mimus), pantomime (ethologus), and clown (sannio). Cicero says that 'an orator must avoid each of two dangers: he must not let his jesting become buffoonery or mere mimicking (scurrilis...aut mimicus)' (2.58.239). Like Aristotle's buffoon, the Latin scurra violates proprieties of time. Cicero says he jests "from morning to night, and without any reason at all" (2.60.245). He also shows no restraint in his selection of objects of ridicule, and his jests, like a scattergun, will often strike 'unintended victims' (2.60.245). He will even turn himself into an object of ridicule if he thinks he can raise a laugh (Quintilian, 6.3.82). Most important, the scurra is a member of the lower classes, a parasite who would often perform at a gentleman's dinner party for table scraps, and his antics almost always bespoke his lowly position. For all of these reasons, especially the last, Cicero and Quintilian repeatedly insist that orators avoid all likeness to buffoons, and toward this end, they offer a set of strictures limiting the jesting practices of orators so that those practices accord with the orator's gentlemanly status. With respect to proprieties of time, Cicero says, "Regard then to occasions, control and restraint of our actual raillery, and economy in bon-mots, will distinguish an orator from a buffoon (oratorem a scurra)" (2.60.247). As we have seen, orators should also be careful in their selection of comic butts and avoid targeting the excessively wretched or wicked and the well-beloved. Moreover, they must never turn themselves into objects of laughter for, as Quintilian says, "To make jokes against oneself is scarcely fit for any save professed buffoons and is strongly to be disapproved in an orator" (6.3.82). Presumable, orators should keep the audience's laughter off themselves and direct it only at their opponents. Above all, the orator should only jest in ways that befit a gentleman or liberalis. He should avoid obscenities in his jesting, which are 'not only degrading to a pubic speaker, but also hardly sufferable at a gentleman's dinner party (convivio liberorum)' (De oratore, 2.61.252), and 'scurrilous or brutal jests, although they may raise a laugh, are quite unworthy of a gentlman (liberali)' (Quintilian, 6.3.83). In an allusion to his famous formulation or the orator as a GOOD MAN, or vir bonus, skilled in speaking, Quintilian sums up his attitudes toward buffoonery, a summation that will serve for Cicero's views on the subject as well: 'A good man (vir bonus) will see that everything he says is consistent with his dignity and the respectability of his character (dignitate ac verecundia); for we pay too dear for the laugh we raise if it is at the cost of our own integrity (probitatis)' (6.3.35). (Holcomb,pp.39-40)



Latin probitas HONESTY, probity, uprightness.

Pope, Preface to Shakespeare

...the images of Life were to be drawn from those of their [the audience’s] own rank: accordingly we find, that not our Author’s only but almost all the old Comedies have their Scene among Tradesmen and Mechaniks: and even their Historical Plays strictly follow the common Old Stories or Vulgar Traditions of that kind of people. In Tragedy, nothing was so sure to Surprize and cause Admiration, as the most strange, unexpected, and consequently most unnatural, Events and Incidents; the most exaggerated Thoughts; the most verbose and bombast Expression; the most pompous Rhymes, and thundering Versification. In Comedy, nothing was so sure to please, as mean bufoonery, vile ribaldry, and unmannerly jests of fools and clowns. (Preface to edition, p. v)


"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
For VULGAR PRAISE, doth it too dearly buy.*

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.

Ruling Shakespeare's Quill:

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

by Jasper Mayne

...And as thy Wit was like a Spring, so all
The soft streams of it we may Chrystall call:
No cloud of Fancie, no mysterious stroke,
No Verse like those which antient Sybils spoke;
No Oracle of Language, to amaze
The Reader with a dark, or Midnight Phrase,
Stands in thy Writings, which are all pure Day,
A cleer, bright Sunchine, and the mist away.
That which Thou wrot'st was sense, and that sense good,
Things not first written, and then understood:

Or if sometimes thy Fancy soar'd so high
As to seem lost to the unlearned Eye,
'Twas but like generous Falcons, when high flown,
Which mount to make the Quarrey more their own.

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)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Militant Protestants and the Construction of Oxford as the Irreformable 'Other'.

Reading Greville's 'Life of Sidney' and thinking about the construction of Edward de Vere as the irreformable and unruly 'Other'. A 'site of disruption in need of surveillance and control' (Willis). The portrayal of Sidney's 'resistance' to Oxford's 'tyranny' and Sidney's relationship to continental Protestant resistance theorists.

A Catholic (irenical?) Italophile  excluded from the militant Protestant vision of British identity. Extravagant and irregular Shakespearean forms were too unruly for the laureate vision (Jonson, Chapman) of the English language - nation-building required a more ordered, proportionate and restrained style (Language is the dress of thought).

Both Edward de Vere and Shakespeare were sites of disruption in need of surveillance and control for the militant Protestant vision of Britain to prevail.

That is almost an impossible thought. The idea of Shakespeare as a cultural outsider. But the polarizing 'militant Protestant conceptualization of British identity' (White) would eventually prevail over the dynasty of the Stuarts kings as well.

Droeshout engraving - Shakespeare's Bad Form

Immanuel Wallerstein - The 'other' of the colonialism of the core.

Oxford - the irreformable 'Other' of the nation-builders at the core.

Problems of 'Hamlet' - Catholic Oxford's exploration of the shifting nature of the 'ground' and 'virtuous matter' that militant Protestant polemic claimed to 'build' upon? (Oxford was characterized by Greville as airy, windy, shadowy, intemperate and unsubstantial).


Militant Protestantism and British Identity, 1603-1642
Jason White

For the first fifteen or so years of his reign after his accession to the English throne, James and the militant Protestants managed to peacefully coexist. While the militant Portestant vision of Britain was decidedly different from James's vision, this had not caused a deep rift in politics. Events such as the Gunpowder Plot and the proposed marriage of Prince Henry to a Catholic bride show that there were potential points of departure between the two visions of Britain, but these events were not transformative enough to create a polarization. This would change with the advent of the Thirty Years' War in 1618/1619, especially after Frederick's crushing defeat at the Battle of White Mountain in November 1620 made it apparent that Protestantism was in serious danger. Until that point the militant aspiration for post-Union of Crowns Britain was just an abstraction - the war presented the first real opportunity to actually act on this desire. Therefore, the origins of the domestic tumults of the 1620's (explored in greater detail below) in many ways stretched to the early days of James I's reign, when the discussion and articulation of aspirations for a newly united Britain were given free rein in  a political atmosphere that was more accommodating to expressions in support of more British unity, even if these expressions did not entirely coincide with the king's own vision of the potential of British union. (p.37)


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ruling the Earl of Oxford's English


Samuel Daniel

[Power above powers]

Power above powers ! O Heavenly Eloquence !
That with the strong rein of commanding words
Dost manage, guide, and master the eminence
Of men's affections, more than all their swords !
Shall we not offer to thy excellence,
The richest treasure that our wit affords?

Thou that canst do much more with one poor pen,
Than all the powers of princes can effect ;
And draw, divert, dispose, and fashion men,
Better than force or rigour can direct !
Should we this ornament of glory then,
As the unmaterial fruits of shades, neglect?

Or should we careless come behind the rest
In power of words, that go before in worth ;
Whenas our accent's equal to the best,
Is able greater wonders to bring forth ;
When all that ever hotter spirits express'd,
Comes better'd by the patience of the north.

And who—in time—knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue? To what strange shores
This gain of our best glory shall be sent
To enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
What worlds in the yet unformed Occident
May come refin'd with the accents that are ours?

Or, who can tell for what great work in hand
The greatness of our style is now ordain'd?
What powers it shall bring in, what spirits command?
What thoughts let out ; what humours keep restrain'd?
What mischief it may powerfully withstand ;
And what fair ends may thereby be attain'd?

Dedication to Daniel's 'Musophilus':
To the right Worthy and Judicious
Favorer of Vertue, Master
Fulke Grevill.

I Doe not here upon this hum'rous Stage
Bring my transformed Verse, apparelled
With others passions, or with others
With loves, with wounds, with factions furnished:
But here present thee, onely modelled
In this poore frame, the forme of mine owne heart:
Where, to revive my selfe, my Muse is led
With motions of her owne, t'act her owne part;
Striving to make her now contemned Art,
As faire t'her selfe as possibly she can'
Lest, seeming of no force, of no desert,
She might repent the course that she began;
And, with these times of dissolution, fall
From Goodnesse, Vertue, Glory, Fame and all.


Language Lessons: Linguistic Colonialism, Linguistic Postcolonialism, and the Early Modern English Nation

Richard Helgerson

...At the very time, then, that the English were remembering their lost glory in France and beginning to think hard about finding a place for themselves and their language in the New World, they were also growing more acutely aware of themselves as having been colonized. Indeed, for some, colonial subjection had not yet ended. The signs of its continuance were, they insisted, all around them. Not only did Latin remain, as it would for another century or more, the language of learning in England, but until the mid-sixteenth century Latin had also been the language of public worship--the mark of a papal suzerainty that outlasted Roman imperial governance by more than a millennium. And to that "Babylonian yoke," as it was often called, was added a "Norman yoke" that dated back to William's conquest in 1066 and that could still be felt in the law French that dominated proceedings in the courts of the common law. 6 There was even the threat, experienced first in the 1550s when Mary Tudor and her Spanish consort Philip were on the throne and renewed in 1588 with the approach of the "invincible" armada, that a Spanish yoke would be piled on the others and that the English would join the natives of the New World as subjects of a universal Spanish Empire. "Stoop, England, stoop," wrote Richard Eden in the preface to his translation of Peter Martyr's Decades of the New World, a book Eden dedicated to Philip and Mary, "and learn to know thy lord and master, as horses and other brute beasts are taught to do." 7 Clearly, England, as a province of Spain, would not be venting the treasure of its tongue to the unformed Occident--or to much of anyone else either. In the 1530s, Parliament, in affirming the separation of the English church from the church of Rome, declared "that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted [End Page 291] in the world." 8 For us, the term "empire" may suggest control over a far flung territory and a multitude of peoples, and such longings were certainly associated with the term in the sixteenth century. After all, it was then that the phrase "the British Empire" was first used with the thought of overseas conquest. 9 But when Parliament called England an empire, absolute sovereignty at home rather than the extension of power abroad was the prime concern. And only gradually did the linguistic implications of even this local notion of exclusive national sovereignty become apparent. Replacing Latin with English in the liturgy of the English church was an important early step, first taken in 1550 under Edward VI, reversed under the Catholic Mary, and reinstated under Elizabeth. Replacing law French with English in the proceedings of the common law was a late step, taken only in 1650 by Parliament, after the execution of Charles I, as another way of declaring the now fully sovereign English nation free of its "Norman" overlord. 10 Between those two dates, between the middle of the sixteenth century and the middle of the seventeenth, England undertook an extraordinary series of efforts aimed at making what Merry Wives of Windsor calls "the king's English" worthy the imperial status parliament had claimed for the realm. What that meant was gaining for the English language a degree of eloquence, perspicuity, regularity, fixity, and accomplishment that would make it a fit rival to the great ancient and modern languages of political and cultural rule. But it also meant pushing to the side not only foreign imports like liturgical Latin and law French but various debased and unreformed versions of itself as well. 11 Absolute sovereignty of the sort England was now claiming made the English language both an instrument and an object of rule.

A phrase that in other contexts I have made much of speaks still more directly to this issue. In his correspondence with Gabriel Harvey, Spenser laments, "Why, a God's name, may not we, as else the Greeks, have the kingdom of our own language." 12 Spenser and Harvey, along with several other young writers, were answering a call that had been made twenty years earlier by Roger Ascham in his highly influential pedagogical treatise, The Schoolmaster. They were trying to write English verse in conformity with the rules of the quantitative meter that had governed Greek and Latin poetry. And they were having problems. English just would not cooperate. Thus Spenser's burst of frustration. But what interests me here is the sense Spenser shared with his generation and with the generation or two that preceded his that English was seriously in need of reformation and that the way to reform it was to impose on it a model of eloquence and order borrowed from Greek and Latin. The way to make English worthy of sovereignty was to make it as much like the sovereign languages it was called on to displace as possible. To rule, English had to be ruled.


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."

Jonson, then Cartwright Ruled Shakespeare's Quill:

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

by Jasper Mayne

...And as thy Wit was like a Spring, so all
The soft streams of it we may Chrystall call:
No cloud of Fancie, no mysterious stroke,
No Verse like those which antient Sybils spoke;
No Oracle of Language, to amaze
The Reader with a dark, or Midnight Phrase,
Stands in thy Writings, which are all pure Day,
A cleer, bright Sunchine, and the mist away.
That which Thou wrot'st was sense, and that sense good,
Things not first written, and then understood:

Or if sometimes thy Fancy soar'd so high
As to seem lost to the unlearned Eye,
'Twas but like generous Falcons, when high flown,
Which mount to make the Quarrey more their own.

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)

Jonson (of Shakespeare)

And though thou hadst small Latine, and lesse Greeke,

From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke
For names;


W. Towers to William Cartwright:

...Thy skill in Wit was not so poorely meek
Confin'd their whole Discourse to a Street-phrase,
Such Dialect as their next Neighbour's was;
Their Birth-place brought o’th’stage, the CLOWN and Quean
Were full as dear to them as Persian Scean.
Thou (to whom Ware, thus offer’d, smelt as strong
As the CLOWN'S foot)


Arraigning the Scurra Shakespeare:

William Cartwright

...Shakespeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lyes
I'th Ladies questions, and the Fooles replyes;
Old fashion'd wit, which walkt from town to town
In turn'd Hose, which our fathers call'd the CLOWN;
Whose wit our nice times would obsceannesse call,
And which made Bawdry passe for Comicall:
Nature was all his Art, thy veine was FREE
As his, but without his SCURILITY;


Academ Roial

[Bolton's] 'earliest version of this proposal was directed to King James through the mediation of the Duke of Buckingham, to whom Bolton was distantly related; the pages reproduced in Plate 21 capture the spirit of the entire venture. The primary function of the new Academy - the proposal grandly, if somewhat vaguely promised - was to be the promotion of ORDER, DECORUM, and DECENCIE (words emphatically described in large upper-cased letters) and the suppression of Confusion and Deformitie. As Bolton's thoughts developed, he proposed more specific functions to the Academy: that it should control the licensing of all non-theological books in England, for example, keep a constant register of 'public facts', monitor the translation of all learned works, hold meetings every quarter and annually on St. George's Day. (Donaldson, Ben Jonson, a Life, p.366)


English translation of Bolton's salute to Jonson in Volpone

To Each University, Concerning Benjamin Jonson.

This man is the first, who studying Greek antiquities and the monuments of Latin theatre as an explorer, by his happy boldness will provide the Britons with a learned drama: O twin stars favour his great undertakings. The ancients were content with praise of either [genre]; this Sun of the Stage handles the cothurnus [i.e. tragedy] and the sock [i.e. comedy] with equal skill: Volpone, thou givest us jokes; thou, Sejanus, gavest us tears. But is any lament that Jonson's muses have been cramped within a narrow limit, say, you [universities], on the contrary: 'O most miserable [people], who, though English, know the english language inadequately or know it not at all (as if [you were] born across the sea), the poet will grow with time, he will transform his native land, and himself become the English Apollo.'
E. Bolton

Droeshout - An Irregular Figure

Regular \Reg"u*lar\ (-l?r), a. [L. regularis, fr. regula a rule, fr. regere to GUIDE, to RULE: cf. F. r['e]gulier. See Rule.]

1. Conformed to a rule; agreeable to an established rule,
law, principle, or type, or to established customary
forms; normal; symmetrical; as, a regular verse in poetry;
a regular piece of music; a regular verb; regular practice
of law or medicine; a regular building.
2. Governed by rule or rules; steady or uniform in course,
practice, or occurence; not subject to unexplained or
irrational variation; returning at stated intervals;
steadily pursued; orderly; methodical; as, the regular
succession of day and night; regular habits.
3. Constituted, selected, or conducted in conformity with
established usages, rules, or discipline; duly authorized;
permanently organized; as, a regular meeting; a regular
physican; a regular nomination; regular troops.
4. Belonging to a monastic order or community; as, regular
clergy, in distinction dfrom the secular clergy.
5. Thorough; complete; unmitigated; as, a regular humbug.



...Never did so much strength, or such a spell

Of Art, and eloquence of papers dwell.
For whil'st he in colours, full and true,
Mens natures, fancies, and their humours drew
In method, order, matter, sence and grace,
Fitting each person to his time and place;
Knowing to move, to slacke, or to make haste,
Binding the middle with the first and last:
He fram'd all minds, and did all passions stirre,
And with a BRIDLE GUIDE the Theater.

Shackerley Marmion, Josonus Virbius


An Essay on Criticism


Great Wits sometimes may gloriously offend,
And rise to faults true Critics dare not mend;
From vulgar bounds with brave DISORDER PART,
And snatch a grace beyond the reach of Art,
Which, without passing thro' the judgment, gains
The heart, and all its end at once attains.


But tho' the ancients thus their RULES invade,
(As Kings dispense with laws themselves have made)
Moderns, beware! or if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end;
Let it be seldom, and compell'd by need;
And have at least their precedent to plead;
The Critic else proceeds without remorse,
SEIZES YOUR FAME, and puts his laws in force. -- Alexander Pope


Jonson withholding Fame:

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..

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Susan de Vere and the Reprobation of Oxford

Reprobation of the Earl of Oxford:

Reprobation, in Christian theology, is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which posits that some of mankind (the elect) are predestined by God for salvation. Those that remain are bound to their fallen nature and certain damnation.  In Calvinist terminology, the non-elect are often referred to as reprobates. Similarly, when a sinner is so hardened as to feel no remorse or misgiving of conscience, it is considered to be a sign of reprobation.

The English word, reprobate, is from the Latin root probare (English: prove, test), and thus derived from the Latin, reprobatus (reproved, condemned), the opposite of approbatus (commended, approved).

preterition [ˌprɛtəˈrɪʃən]


1. the act of passing over or omitting
2. (Law) Roman law the failure of a testator to name one of his children in his will, thus invalidating it
3. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) (in Calvinist theology) the doctrine that God passed over or left unpredestined those not elected to final salvation

[from Late Latin praeteritiō a passing over]



The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. IV:2560. [1915]

This word occurs in the English Bible in the following passages: Jeremiah 6:30 (the Revised Version
(British and American) “refuse”); Romans 1:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6, 7; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:
16. In all these cases the Greek has adokimos. The same Greek word, however, is found with other
renderings in Isaiah 1:22 (“dross”); Proverbs 25:4 (“dross”); 1 Corinthians 9:27 (“castaway,” the
Revised Version (British and American) “rejected”). The primary meaning of adokimos is “notreceived,”
“not-acknowledged.” This is applied to precious metals or money, in the sense of “notcurrent,”
to which, however, the connotation “not-genuine” easily attaches itself. It is also applied to
persons who do not or ought not to receive honor or recognition. This purely negative conception
frequently passes over into the positive one of that which is or ought to be rejected, either by God or
men. Of the above passages 1 Corinthians 9:27 uses the word in this meaning. Probably Romans 1:
28, “God gave them up unto a reprobate mind” must be explained on the same principle: the nous
of the idolatrous heathen is permitted by God to fall into such extreme forms of evil as to meet with
the universal rejection and reprobation of men.


Dross \Dross\, n. [AS. dros, fr. dre['o]san to fall. See


1. The scum or refuse matter which is thrown off, or falls
from, metals in smelting the ore, or in the process of
melting; recrement.

2. Rust of metals. [R.] --Addison.

3. Waste matter; any worthless matter separated from the
better part; leavings; dregs; refuse.

Shakespeare - Sonnet
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,

And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

Jonson, Ode to Himself

...Say, that thou pour'st them wheat,

And they will acornes eat :
'Twere simple fury, still, thy selfe to waste
On such as have no taste !
To offer them a surfeit of pure bread,
Whose appetites are dead !
No, give them graines their fill,
Huskes, draff to drink and swill.
If they love lees, and leave the lusty wine,
Envy them not, their palate's with the swine.

No doubt some mouldy tale,
Like Pericles ; and stale
As the Shrieve's crusts, and nasty as his fish—
Scraps out of every dish
Throwne forth, and rak't into the common tub,
May keepe up the Play-club :
There, sweepings doe as well
As the best order'd meale.
For, who the relish of these guests will fit,
Needs set them but the almes-basket of wit.


Susan de Vere/Susan Herbert - Protestant Patron

Militant Protestants: British Identity in the Jacobean Period, 1603-1625
Jason C. White
...What follows below is a case study of thought about and aspirations for Britain following the 1603 union of crowns that focuses on the conceptualization of Britain as a militant Protestant power. Some interpretative cues will be taken from Jonathan Scott, who has argued that British history needs to be placed in a European contextt, especially the context of religious division on the continent. British identity was closely linked ot the European context because the potential relationship between Britain and contintental Protestantism after the union of crowns was at the forefront of much of the thought about Britain during this period. Much of this thought naturally centred on religion. While it has been the tendency of historians to emphasize that there was as much of a Lutheran/Calvinist divide on the continent in the seventeenth century as there was a Catholic/Protestant one, just as there has been an emphasis on the wide gulf in ecclesiology that seemingly kept the churches of England and Scotland separated, this tends to ignore the Protestant irenic movements that circulated throughout Britain and Europe in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. By bringing these elements - the continent, Protestant ecumenism and religious conflict - into the study of British identity new insight into what people thought and said about Britain under James VI and I can be gained. This article will explore British identity in the the seventeenth century in a similar way to the way Linda Colley explored it for the eighteenth century - by analysing the connections between the formation of British identity and anti-Catholic and anti-foreign polemic (which were often the same thing).


Oxford/Shakespeare - Catholic, irenical, Italianate Englishman. Politically incorrect.

Oxford - sympathy with sunny southern European countries. Interrogates the gloomy Northern European militant Protestant mind in Hamlet. Examines the social success of the inwardness and 'ground' that militant Protestants claimed to 'build' upon. Hamlet a Catholic? critique of the groundlessness of Protestant inwardness, and its absolute dependency upon words - and the potential for socially destructive and sinful behaviours (lack of personal accountability) that are accommodated by the Protestant doctrines of election and Providence?



The Politics of Election in Lady Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus
Madeline Bassnett

This essay suggests that the inward style of Wroth's sonnet sequence can be attributed to her reliance on a Protestant discourse of election that shares symbols commonly associated with Petrarchism, such as the tortured heart, the occluding dark, and the illuminating light. As I will further argue, the language of predestination had become an oppositional discourse by 1621, enabling Wroth's public self-identification with other militant Protestants such as William Herbert, who opposed the political and religious policies of James I.


…By adopting this widespread discourse, Wroth placed herself firmly in the oppositional faction associated with her cousin and lover, James's Lord Chamberlain, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. Her recurrent references to light and dark and her use of the emblem of the tortured heart as well as the concepts of knowledge and experience both signify her sequence as Petrarchan and advertise a belief in predestination that, by 1621, would have been connected to a militant Protestant opposition. As I will also discuss, an initial comparison of the 1621 edition of the poems to the Folger manuscript of Pamphilia to Amphilanthus reveals that changes made to the published version seem to reinforce and heighten this distinctly Calvinist discourse.20 Wroth appears intentionally to have chosen language that would associate her with James's political detractors, and she created a model character—Pamphilia—who would endure the often-torturous passage through the stages of both love and election. Bold in its presentation of early modern female desire, this sequence is likewise audacious in its communication of Protestant longing for and submission to the will of the divine rather than earthly king.

Alongside such instances of Court critique and politicized nostalgia, Wroth reminds the reader of her Protestant identity and heritage, as Mary B. Moore and Rosalind Smith have observed. Moore, although otherwise focused on the question of female subjectivity, draws attention to the Protestant symbolism of the labyrinth that Wroth uses in the corona that begins and ends with the line "In this strang[e] labourinth how shall I turne?" (pp. 127-34; P77, line 1-P90, line 14). Noting that the labyrinth "symboliz[es] Protestant inwardness and emphasiz[es] both the necessity and the difficulty of self-analysis," Moore also remarks on the overlapping Protestant and Petrarchan connections to this symbol: both "associate the labyrinth with difficult knowing." 25 It is Smith, however, who most effectively unites the use of Protestant discourse in the sonnets with opposition to James, demonstrating that the sequence, especially when considered in relation to Urania, reminds the reader of "its place in a Sidneian textual tradition inseparable from a contemporary Protestant religious and political agenda."26 Wroth declares her Protestant allegiance upfront, dedicating Urania to Susan Herbert, Countess of Montgomery, a known "Protestant patron," and identifying her own personal and political lineage on the title page: "Daughter to the right Noble Robert Earle of Leicester. And Neece to the ever famous and renowned Sr. Phillips Sidney knight. And to ye most exelēt Lady Mary Countesse of Pembroke late deceased."27 By the seventeenth century, Philip Sidney was firmly linked to the cause of international and martial Protestantism, a stance incompatible with that of the Jacobean regime; this self-association, Smith avers, reveals that Wroth's sequence was not simply a "private rejection of the courtly life" but instead was "a pointed and public rejection of the present court" that united religious and political beliefs.28

Apart from genealogy, Smith suggests that Wroth allies herself more broadly with the group of Spenserian poets including Fulke Greville, Michael Drayton, and Samuel Daniel, whose writing evoked the "Protestant ideals" of the Elizabethan Court in order to identify their disassociation from James.29 Wroth's association with this group of writers, discernible through dedications, as Smith discusses, might arguably suggest that they were part of her intended, or at least ideal, readership. As politically sympathetic readers, they would have recognized the political import of Wroth's election terminology and imagery. While I have found Smith's work especially useful in alerting me to the broader political aspects of Wroth's sonnet sequence, my interest in this essay is to specifically identify the presence of election discourse in her poem. As Marion Wynne-Davies suggests in relation to Urania, not only did Wroth call on her Sidney heritage as "a way in which she could complain against the injustices of the king and court," but she also adopted the Sidney literary practice of "doubling" and "cloaking" her allusions, in this case, not merely of "personages and events," but of political attitude as well.30 As a woman marginalized by her gender in James's notoriously misogynistic Court, Wroth allied herself with her powerful lineage and its political, literary, and religious loyalties as a means of registering opposition.

Henry de Vere portrait displayed at Wilton House.


Constitutional Consensus and Puritan Opposition in the 1620s: Thomas Scott and the Spanish Match*

P. G. Lake

a1 Bedford College, University of London

In 1620 Thomas Scott published a notorious pamphlet entitled Vox Populi. This purported to recount the proceedings of the Spanish council of state and denounced the devious machinations of Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, and by implication the pro-Spanish policy of King James. Once Scott's authorship became known he took the traditional way out and fled to the Low Countries. There he served as a preacher with the English regiments and as a minister at Utrecht. He also continued his pamphlet commentary on events in England. Scott, then, was that well-known figure, the radical puritan opponent of the Jacobean regime. He has certainly been cast in that role and until recently such a view of his career would have seemed unexceptionable enough. However, of late there has emerged a corpus of work which might be thought to render any such view of Scott untenable. On the one hand, the existence within the mainstream of English protestantism of anything approaching a coherent body of puritan attitudes has been challenged, at least until the emergence of Arminianism polarized religious opinion and almost created a self-conscious and aggressive puritanism where there had been none before. In the political sphere it has been claimed that within the predominant view of constitutional and political propriety any attempt at concerted opposition to royal policy was both conceptually and practically impossible.

Thomas Scott - chaplain to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke


English Broadside - "When Charles, hath got the Spanish Gearle"

(Notes. Versions of this detailed poem on politics in the early 1620s
differ considerably in length, and it seems likely that extra verses
were added by different hands in the course of the poem's
circulation. In one source it is dated "March 1621" (Bodleian MS Eng. Poet. c.50)

Greate Edward his is Nowe in print
& thinks to get the divell & all
The Spanish gould come to our minte
then thats the day shall pay for all

Fucus - Paint (outward show)

Davies, Scourge of Folly


Epig. 114

Fucus, the furious poet writes but Plaies;
So, playing, writes: that’s, idly writeth all:
Yet, idle Plaies, and Players are his Staies;
Which stay him that he can no lower fall:
For, he is fall’n into the deep’st decay,
Where Playes and Players keepe him at a stay.

 John Davies -- Couplet written for Susan de Vere (1602)

"Nothing's your lot. That's more than can be told.
For Nothing is more precious than gold."

Author: Cornwallis, William, Sir, d. 1631? Title: Essayes of certaine paradoxes Date: 1616 

Pr. Thomas Thorpe

The Prayse of Nothing.

PArdon, Graue Sages, Natures Treasures,
Earths best Surueyers, Heauens best measures,
Who in the deepes of Sciences do wade,
Teaching that Nought of Nothing can be made.
I will vntwist the strength of your decree,
And from your errors Labyrinth you free.
Sith to the making of this All-Theater:
Nothing but Nothing had the All-creator:
And as the structure of this worlds great masse,
Out of vast emptinesse first reared was,
Embellisht with each curious ornament,
Without or staffe, or matter preiacent;
So by great Nothings frank and free expence,
We yet enioy each rarest excellence.
For Nothing is more precious then gold:
'Mongst all those things which Neptunes arms enfold,
'Mongst sublunarie bodies which do range,
About th' worlds Center suffring daily change,
Which fil Fates mort-main, & which death deth mierce,
Driuing them from their cradle to their hearse:
Amongst all these, and whatso else we haue,
Nothing did euer yet esape the graue.
Nothing's immortall: Nothing euer ioyes;
Nothing was euer free from all annoyes.
Why should not Nothing then of vs expect,
That shrines and Altars we to her erect?


Hubert Languet to Sidney:

"There is no reason to fear lest you should decay in idleness if only you will employ your mind; for in so great a realm as England opportunity will surely not be wanting for it's useful exercise." Nature has adorned you with the richest gifts of mind and body; fortune with noble blood and wealth and splendid family connections; and you from your first boyhood have cultivated your intellect by those studies which are most helpful to men in their struggle after virtue. Will you then refuse your energies to your country when it demands them? Will you bury that distinguished talent God has given you?'


2 Thessalonians 2:11–12

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.


"All events embraced in the purpose of God are equally certain, whether He has determined to bring them to pass by his own power, or simply to permit their occurrence through the agency of his creatures. It was no less certain from eternity that Satan would tempt our first parents, and that they would fall, than that God would send his Son to die for sinners. The distinction in question has reference only to the relation which events bear to the efficiency of God. Some things He purposes to do, others He decrees to permit to be done. He effects good, He permits evil. He is the author of the one, but not of the other. ... The effects produced by common grace, or this influence of the Spirit common to all men, are most important to the individual and to the world. What the external world would be if left to the blind operation of physical causes, without the restraining and guiding influence of God's providential efficiency, that would the world of mind be, in all its moral and religious manifestations, without the restraints and guidance of the Holy Spirit. There are two ways in which we may learn what the effect would be of the withholding the Spirit from the minds of men. The first is, the consideration of the effects of reprobation, as taught in Scripture and by experience, in the case of individual men. Such men have a seared conscience. They are reckless and indifferent, and entirely under the control of the evil passions of their nature. This state is consistent with external decorum and polish. Men may be as whitened sepulchres. But this is a restraint which a wise regard to their greatest selfish gratification places on the evil principles which control them. ... the Scriptures reveal the effect of the entire withdrawal of the Holy Spirit from the control of rational creatures, in the account which they give of the state of the lost, both men and angels. Heaven is a place and state in which the Spirit reigns with absolute control. Hell is a place and state in which the Spirit no longer restrains and controls. The presence or absence of the Spirit makes all the difference between heaven and hell" (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology).


Lady Anne Clifford - Second wife of Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery (First wife Susan de Vere).
First Folio absent - Rejection or 'passing over' of Shakespeare was a sign of Anne Clifford's 'election' and judgement - and Shakespeare's reprobation.

The Case of the Missing First Folio

by Bonner Miller Cutting

Born in 1590, her life began in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and spanned nearly nine decades well into the reign of King Charles II. She constructed and restored castles and churches, put up monuments to family and friends, built and funded hospitals and almshouses, compiled manuscripts of record books, family histories, diaries and genealogies. Yet without a doubt her foremost achievement was her ultimate victory in a brutal legal battle to secure, in her own right, the vast Clifford ancestral estates in northern England. Her father had bequeathed these properties to his brother when he died, deliberately disinheriting her through the terms of his will. She was 15 years old at her father’s death, and 53 years old when her cousin Earl Clifford died, and the longed-for properties were finally hers. The three panels of her giant triptych— also known as “Lady Anne Clifford’s Great Picture”—were planned to commemorate these landmark events in her life. We will see shortly how the “Great Picture” became an integral part of her campaign to take charge of what she invariably called the “the lands of mine inheritance” — something that “had been her heart’s wish for as long as she could remember.”

...What is striking about this bibliographic display is that there are so many books put on view. Approximately fifty books are depicted, most of them located in the right and left side panels. Some appear loosely shelved, some are on the floor, and others are carefully arranged in the background. They are all boldly labeled to be readily identifiable. Furthermore, in an interesting bit of overkill, the titles and authors are also listed right there in the inscriptions on the triptych!7 It is abundantly clear which authors have been selected to receive Lady Anne’s explicit endorsement. The problem that we will examine today is that Shakespeare’s First Folio — or anything representative of Shakespeare’s work — is missing.

This surprising omission is all the more puzzling because Lady Anne Clifford was the wife of Shakespeare’s patron. Her second husband, the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, was one of the “Incomparable Paire of Brethren” to whom the First Folio was dedicated. This simple fact makes her very much an historical person of interest, especially when her excellent education and her life-long interest in literature are taken into consideration. We have here someone who is in the right place, at the right time, and with the right resume to know who Shakespeare was —or was not.

pret·er·i·tion (prt-rshn)


1. The act of passing by, disregarding, or omitting.

2. Law Neglect of a testator to mention a legal heir in his or her will.

3. Christianity The Calvinist doctrine that God neglected to designate those who would be damned, positively determining only the elect.

[Late Latin praeteriti, praeteritin-, a passing over, from Latin praeteritus, past participle of praeterre, to go by; see preterit.]


Stay passenger, why goest thou by so fast, Read if thou canst, whom enviuos Death hath plast with in this monument Shakspeare:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Militant Protestantism, British Identity and the Authorship Problem

I've just ordered Jason C. White's 'Militant Protestantism and British Identity, 1603-1642'. I think this book will assist in helping me to further contextualize the authorship problem in terms of the conflict between a version of the 'dynastic vision' of Britain supported by Oxford/Shakespeare and the Sidneian/Essexian (including the 18th Earl of Oxford) vision of a militant Protestant Britain, and how Oxford's vision of a tolerant British national character and his own personal identity were subsumed by the Protestant juggernaut.

Also that it will help to correct a tendency to generalize based on the shortage of information I'm experiencing.

'Militant Protestantism and British Identity, 1603-1642'.

Focusing on the impact of Continental religious warfare on English, Scottish and Irish Protestantism, this study is concerned with the way in which British identity developed in the early Stuart period. Still debated today, the question of British national identity first emerged in 1603 when James VI of Scotland succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland, uniting the three kingdoms under one monarch. What followed was conflict between the dynastic vision of a Britain defined by loyalty to the king, and a new collective identity, characterized by military ambition and anti-popery.

White examines what militant Protestants in England, Scotland and Ireland thought about ‘Britain'. British identity and foreign policy are studied as one, allowing a greater understanding of the role of religious fervour on national and international politics of the time; the focus being on what brought British Protestants together, rather than what kept them apart.


Dissertation 2008
Jason C. White

"Your Grievances are Ours": Militant Pan-Protestantism, the Thirty Years' War, and the Origins of the British Problem, 1618-1641
Examines the domestic impact of Stuart foreign policy during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) focusing on politics, religion and culture. The war on the continent had a divisive effect on politics and religion in Britain and this division is placed within a British context, showing how those opposed to Stuart foreign policy could be found in both England and Scotland where shared religious and political ideals fostered an alternative sense of British identity to the one proffered by the British king. On one side the king, and his closest advisors, believed that the conduct of foreign policy should ensure, through alliances and diplomacy, the strength and stability of the Stuart dynasty. This meant that the Stuart monarchs were willing to engage in friendly relations with Catholic powers, such as during the early 1620s when a marriage between Prince Charles and a Spanish princess was proposed, if they believed it would benefit the dynasty. This clashed with an alternative British identity that was militant, pro-Protestant, and stridently anti-Catholic. These individuals, such as Thomas Scott, Simonds D'Ewes, Samuel Rutherford, and others, labeled "militant pan-Protestants" in the dissertation, believed that the international Protestant cause should trump the needs and desires of the dynasty. The ideas of the militant pan-Protestants are explored through their diaries, printed polemics, and letters. In this way the dissertation seeks to offer new insights into both the origins and the outbreak of the British civil wars, showing that the international situation created deep divisions between the Stuarts and their subjects in both England and Scotland. Previous historians may have labeled these individuals "Puritans" and would have noted that their interest in the Protestant cause was ancillary to their concerns about domestic religion. The dissertation argues that the concern for the Protestant cause was primary in the thoughts of those typically labeled "Puritan" and that this concern for international Protestantism informed their opinions on the domestic political situation.
Abraham Holland makes it crystal-clear that the 18th Earl Henry de Vere may have been his father's son in 'letter' - but not in spirit:

...The soft inticements of the Court, the smiles
Of Glorious Princes the bewitching wiles
Of softer Ladies, and the Golden State
That in such places doth on Greatnesse waite
And all the shadie happinesse which seemes
To attend Kings and follow Diadems
Were Boy-games to his minde: to see a Maske
And sit it out, he held a greater taske
Than to endure a Siege: to wake all Night
In his cold armour, still expecting fight
And the drad On-set, the sad face of feare,
And the pale silence of an Army, were
His best Delights; among the common rout
Of his rough Souldiers to sit hardnesse out
Were his most pleasing Delicates: to him
A Batter'd Helmet was a Diadem:
And wounds, his Brauerie: Knowing that Fame
And faire Eternitie could neuer claime
Their Meeds without such Hazards:

from (AN ELEGIE VPON THE DEATH OF THE RIGHT NOBLE and Magnanimous Heroë, HENRY Earle of Oxford, Viscount Bulbec, Lord Samford, and Lord great Chamberlaine of England.


In the same elegy, Oxford's son Henry de Vere's spirit is crowned in Elysium by his father's mighty opposite Sir Philip Sidney:

Nor came he to the Elysium with shame

That the old VERES did blush to heare his Name
Brighter than theirs: where his deserts to grace
His Grand-fathers rose up and gave him place,
And set him with the Heroës, where the Quire
Of ayrie Worthies rise up, and admire
The stately Shade: those Brittish Ghosts which long
Agoe were number'd in th'Elysian throng
Ioy to behold him; SYDNEY threw his Bayes
On OXFORDS head, and daign'd to sing his praise;
While Fame with silver Trumpet did keepe time
With his high Voice, and answered his rime.


Shakespeare, Oxford, The Academ Roial and the Suppression of Deformitie:

Of the Academ Roial:
[Bolton's] 'earliest version of this proposal was directed to King James through the mediation of the Duke of Buckingham, to whom Bolton was distantly related; the pages reproduced in Plate 21 capture the spirit of the entire venture. The primary function of the new Academy - the proposal grandly, if somewhat vaguely promised - was to be the promotion of ORDER, DECORUM, and DECENCIE (words emphatically described in large upper-cased letters) and the suppression of Confusion and Deformitie. As Bolton's thoughts developed, he proposed more specific functions to the Academy: that it should control the licensing of all non-theological books in England, for example, keep a constant register of 'public facts', monitor the translation of all learned works, hold meetings every quarter and annually on St. George's Day. (Donaldson, Ben Jonson, a Life, p.366)


Shakespeare - born and died on St. George's Day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oxford as Greville's Anti-Militant Protestant

Oxford as Greville's anti-militant Protestant:

Many Oxfordians interpret Hamlet as an autobiographical play, which has led to certain inferences about the character, disposition and associations of the Earl.

Yet Oxford was known as the Italianate Englishman - a subversive characterization that was in conflict with the still emerging English identity as a militant Protestant nation.

One of the foremost exemplary figures of this emergent national identity was Philip Sidney, and despite some nagging questions about Sidney's actual achievements, his militant Protestant credentials were unassailable.

Like Hamlet, Sidney was a militant Protestant with personal and educational ties to Wittenberg (Melancthon, Languet). And like Hamlet, after his death Sidney had his very own beloved and trusted Horatio determined to 'tell his story'.

Sidney's story, told by his intimate friend Fulke Greville in his Life of Sidney, was published long after the deaths of Philip Sidney and the Earl of Oxford, and as such it surely must stand as the last word on the relationship between these two men. In his account,  Greville takes great pains to demonstrate that the Earl of Oxford represented everything a good militant Protestant should stand or resolve himself against. All of the virtues of militant Protestant idealism appear in Oxford in their opposite form - fortune vs. worth, birth vs. desert, passion vs. reason, excess vs. moderation, rage vs. temperance, wind vs. substance - while Sidney effortlessly exemplifies all desirable or 'correct' qualities.

Like the militant Protestant Hamlet, both Sidney and Greville believed in Providence. If the militant Protestants were indeed the party favored by God, then the overcoming of their enemies could be interpreted as a sign of God's will working in the world. If the mighty opposite of Sir Philip Sidney had found a favourable immortality - if Oxford's excesses and faults were seen to be rewarded and not punished, then the whole militant Protestant vision for the future of Britain could be called into doubt.

For the militant Protestants, only virtue could give fame, and Oxford was an object of contempt for the forward Protestants of the Sidney-Essex stamp (possibly including his own son).Oxford's orphaned book lives on, but his personal fame was reduced to that of an Immortal Unworthy. His fall must have been seen by his enemies as providential.

Wind, which blows impotently round the edifices of virtue, sweeps those of fortune away. (Worden)

For some insight into how deeply Oxford was identified with the negative markers that were being arraigned by the militant Protestant factions of the Elizabethan and Stuart courts:

'The Sound of Virtue', Blair Worden

'Walsingham, writing against the Anjou match, intimates that Elizabeth's failure to 'depend' on God derives from a 'wavering' disposition. Basilius wavers too. His change 'with the wind' has many echoes in Sidney's ficetion, where time and again gusts of 'wind' sway characters into following fortune instead of virtue. Wind is a recurrent symbol of inconstancy, as when 'the inconstant people' of Iberia, faced with conflicting claims to the royal succession, 'set their sails with the favourable wind' of 'fortune'. The constant man, in Sidney's moral scheme and in the neo-Stoic scheme of his time, is inwardly indifferent to good or evil fortune, to the hollow ascendancies of chance. Subordinating passion, which if fortune's friend, to reason, which is virtue's, he is not swayed by the passions of hope and fear, which would lead him from virtue's path.The Duke of Anjou, that personification of inconstancy, is, Sidney tells the queen, 'carried away with every wind of hope'; so, in pursuit of the disguised Pyrocles, is Basilius, 'whose small sails the least wind did fill'; so, in the New Arcadia, is King Antiphilus, that 'weak fool', 'neither hoping nor fearing as he should', who is ' every wind of passions puffed him', 'like a bladder swelled ready to break while it was full of the wind of prosperity'.

The Arcadia advises us that it is foolish, even wicked, to 'buil[d]...hopes on haps', to 'build...upon hope'. We saw that Sidney, with his party, wants the queen to 'build' upon virtue, for what is firmly 'built' will 'stand'. Wind, which blows impotently round the edifices of virtue, sweeps those of fortune away. Philanax explains to Basilius, and Sidney explains to Elizabeth, the strength of those who 'stand upon ' virtue: Musidorus, thralled to fortune, is reminded by Pamela of the frailty of persons who 'stand upon chance'.(p.138-9)


Wind, which blows impotently round the edifices of virtue, sweeps those of fortune away.


Publique Ill Example: Oxford appears UNNAMED as Sidney’s intemperate and insubstantial ADVERSARY in Greville’s _A Dedication to Sir Philip Sidney_(originally published as _Life of Sidney_)

 Fulke Greville clearly identifies Oxford as a follower of fortune. For Greville, Oxford is the 'personification of inconstancy' in the same way that Sidney regarded Anjou. Significantly, Oxford remains unnamed in Greville's account, which is part of a program of erasing the names of the unworthy from history. As the mighty opposite to the godly Sidney, Oxford was largely excluded from the militant Protestant domain of virtue, and therefore it was necessary that this man of pride and inconstancy be 'swept aside'.

I find it very significant that Greville stages this encounter as Sidney resisting the 'tyranny' and wrongs represented by Oxford. This is consistent with his education by continental Protestant resistance theorists such as Languet and Du-Plessis-Mornay and therefore demonstrates Sidney 'acting' on their ideas. Sidney would advise the Prince (in this case Elizabeth), but he also demonstrates right action and his virtuous mind by resisting the self-loving humours of the 'tyrant' Oxford. Greville writes that
'Tyrants allow of no scope, stamp, or standard, but their own WILL.'

Greville, _A Dedication to Sir Philip Sidney_
...And in this freedome of heart [Sidney] being one day at Tennis, a Peer of this Realm, born great, greater by alliance, and superlative in the Princes favour, abruptly came into the Tennis- Court; and speaking out of these three paramount authorities, he forgot to entreat that, which he could not legally command. When by the encounter of a steady object, finding unrespectiveness in himself (though a great Lord) not respected by this Princely spirit, he grew to expostulate more ROUGHLY. The returns of which stile comming still from an understanding heart, that knew what was due to it self, and what it ought to others, seemed (through the MISTS of my Lords PASSIONS, SWOLN with the WINDE of his FACTION then reigning) to provoke in yeelding. Whereby, the lesse amazement, or confusion of thoughts he stirred up in Sir Philip, the more SHADOWES this great Lords own mind was POSSESSED with: till at last with RAGE (which is ever ILL-DISCIPLINED) he commands them to depart the Court. To this Sir Philip temperately answers; that if his Lordship had been pleased to express desire in milder Characters, perchance he might have led out those, that he should now find would not be driven out with any scourge of FURY. This answer (like a BELLOWS) blowing up the sparks of EXCESS already kindled, made my Lord scornfully call Sir Philip by the name of Puppy. In which progress of HEAT, as the TEMPEST grew more and more vehement within, so did their hearts breath out their perturbations in a more loud and shrill accent. The French Commissioners unfortunately had that day audience, in those private Galleries, whose windows looked into the Tennis-Court. They instantly drew all to this tumult: every sort of quarrels sorting well with their humors, especially this. Which Sir Philip perceiving, and rising with inward strength, by the prospect of a mighty faction against him; asked my Lord, with a loud voice, that which he heard clearly enough before. Who ( LIKE AN ECHO, that still multiplies by REFLEXIONS) repeated this Epithet of Puppy the second time. Sir Philip resolving in one answer to conclude both the attentive hearers, and PASSIONATE ACTOR, gave my Lord a Lie, impossible (as he averred) to be retorted; in respect all the world knows, Puppies are gotten by Dogs, and Children by men. Hereupon those GLORIOUS INEQUALITIES of FORTUNE in his Lordship were put to a kinde of pause, by a PRECIOUS INEQUALITY OF NATURE in this Gentleman. So that they both stood silent a while, like a dumb shew in a tragedy; till Sir Philip sensible of his own wrong, the forrain, and factious spirits that attended; and yet, even in this question between him, and his superior, tender to his Countries honour; with some words of sharp accent, led the way abruptly out of the Tennis-Court; as if so unexpected an accident were not fit to be decided any farther in that place. Whereof the great Lord making another sense, continues his play, WITHOUT any ADVANTAGE of REPUTATION; as by the standard of humours in those times it was conceived.


In his account of the Tennis court quarrel in the  Life of Sidney, Greville not only uses Oxford as a 'tyrannical',  unworthy foil to set off the glittering virtues of Sidney, he also painstakingly details (justifies?) the reasons why Oxford's name and fame would eventually be consigned to oblivion. As the hereditary Recorder of Stratford-upon-Avon, he was perfectly placed to construct the ingnominious backwater fame of the scurra 'Shakespeare'. Jonson assisted by providing the ambisinister Droeshout figure (incapable of 'correct' writing) and further deconstructed Oxford's literary fame with a mock encomium to 'Shakespeare' formed from a cloud of insubstantial, windy metaphors.

Wind, which blows impotently round the edifices of virtue, sweeps those of fortune away.

Sidney's worthy immortality 'stands' as an edifice of militant Protestant virtue. Oxford was swept away (or at best, immortalized by a fart).

"Who worship Fame, commit Idolatry,
"Make Men their God, Fortune and Time their worth,
"Forme, but reforme not, meer hypocrisie,
"By shadowes, onely shadowes bringing forth,
"Which must, as blossomes, fade ere true fruit springs,
"(Like voice, and eccho) ioyn'd; yet diuers things. -- Greville


Greville, _Dedication_:

...Neither am I (for my part) so much in love with this life, nor believe so little in a better to come, as to complain of God for taking him [Sidney], and such like exorbitant worthyness from us: fit (as it were by an Ostracisme) to be divided, and not incorporated with our corruptions: yet for the sincere affection I bear to my Prince, and Country, my prayer to God is, that this Worth, and Way may not fatally be buried with him; in respect, that both before his time, and since, experience hath published the usuall discipline of greatnes to have been tender of it self onely; making HONOUR a triumph, or rather TROPHY OF DESIRE, set up in the eyes of Mankind, either to be worshiped as IDOLS, or else as Rebels to perish under her glorious oppressions. *Notwithstanding, when the pride of flesh, and power of favour shall cease in these by death, or disgrace; what then hath time to register, or fame to publish in these great mens names, that will not be offensive, or infectious to others? What Pen without blotting can write the story of their deeds? Or what Herald blaze their Arms without a blemish? And as for their counsels and projects, when they come once to light, shall they not live as noysome, and loathsomely above ground, as their Authors carkasses lie in the grave? So as the return of such greatnes to the world, and themselves, can be but private reproach, publique ill example, and a fatall scorn to the Government they live in. Sir Philip Sidney is none of this number; for the greatness which he affected was built upon true Worth; esteeming Fame more than Riches, and Noble actions far above Nobility it self.

Trophy of Desire - Oxford Will/Desire

Greville's 'Tomb':

SERVANT to Queene Elizabeth
Conceller to King James
Frend to Sir Philip Sidney.


Rewards of Earth

REWARDS of earth, Nobility and Fame,
To senses glory and to conscience woe,
How little be you for so great a name?
Yet less is he with men what thinks you so.
For earthly power, that stands by fleshly wit,
Hath banished that truth which should govern it.

Nobility, power's golden fetter is,
Wherewith wise kings subjection do adorn,
To make man think her heavy yoke a bliss
Because it makes him more than he was born.
Yet still a slave, dimm'd by mists of a crown,
Let he should see what riseth, what pulls down.

Fame, that is but good words of evil deeds,
Begotten by the harm we have, or do,
Greatest far off, least ever where it breeds,
We both with dangers and disquiet woo;
And in our flesh, the vanities' false glass,
*We thus deceiv'd adore these calves of brass*.

Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke


Bolton, Hypercritica

Among the greatest wants in our ancient Authours, are the wants of Art and Style, which as they add to the lustre of the Works and Delights of the Reader; yet add they nothing to the Truth; which they so esteemed, as they seem to have regarded nothing else. For without Truth, Art and Style come into the Nature of Crimes by Imposture. It is an act of high Wisdom, and not of Eloquence only, to write the History of so great, and noble a People as the English. for the Causes of things are not only wonderfully wrapt one within the other, but place oftentimes far above the ordinary Reach's of human Wit; and he who relates Events, without their Premisses and Circumstances, deserves not the name of an Historian; as being like to him who numbers the Bones of a Man anatomized, or presenteth unto us the Bare Skeleton, without declaring the Nature of the Fabrick or teaching the Use of Parts. (Bolton, Hypercritica)


Judging Spectators
Peter Carlson

“It was well noted by the late L. St. Alban, that the study of words is the first distempter of Learning’, Vaine matter the second: And a third distemper is deceit, or the likenesse of truth: Imposture held up by credulity. All these are the Cobwebs of learning, and to let them grow in us, is either sluttish or foolish.” (Jonson, Discoveries)

In Bacon’s catalogue, Jonson sees and confirms his own distrust of linguistic masks. “Imposture held up by credulity” – which could serve as an abstract for the action of any of his plays – describes the process of mistaking a fiction for a reality” it is seeing what we wish to see rather than analyzing and judging. “imposture,” for Jonson, is the vice of theatricality, but if we can temporarily neutralize the negative thrust he has introduced, ‘Bacon’s phrase might describe the terms under which we enter any theater, that is, a willing suspension of disbelief. Jonson’s suspicion, then, extends to the most basic premises of his medium, and the inner antagonism generated by this doubt can dind release only in the continual and self-contradictory dialectic of self-justification and self- revelation; “hee is call’s a Poet…that fayneth and formeth a fable, and writes things like the truth. For, the Fable and Fiction is (as it were) the forme and Soule of any Poeticall worke, or Poeme”; but “nothing is lasting that is fain’d, it will have another face then it had ere long: As Euripides saith, No lye ever growes old.”


English translation of Bolton's salute to Jonson in Volpone:

To Each University, Concerning Benjamin Jonson.

This man is the first, who studying Greek antiquities and the monuments of Latin theatre as an explorer, by his happy boldness will provide the Britons with a learned drama: O twin stars favour his great undertakings. The ancients were content with praise of either [genre]; this Sun of the Stage handles the cothurnus [i.e. tragedy] and the sock [i.e. comedy] with equal skill: Volpone, thou givest us jokes; thou, Sejanus, gavest us tears. But is any lament that Jonson's muses have been cramped within a narrow limit, say, you [universities], on the contrary: 'O most miserable [people], who, though English, know the english language inadequately or know it not at all (as if [you were] born across the sea), the poet will grow with time, he will transform his native land, and himself become the English Apollo.' E. Bolton

Tyrants allow of no scope, stamp, or standard, but their own WILL (Greville):

Infected Will:

Sidney - Neither let it be deemed too bold a comparison to balance the highest point of man's wit with the efficacy of nature; but rather give right honor to the heavenly maker of that maker, who having made man to his own likeness, set him beyond and over all the work of that second nature, which in nothing he shows so much as in poetry, when with the force of a divine breath he brings things forth far surpassing her doings, with no small argument to the incredulous of that first accursed fall of Adam, since our erected wit makes us know what perfection is, but our infected will keeps us from reaching unto it.

Infected Will - Shakespeare Sonnet 154:

The little Love-god lying once asleep,

Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warmed;
And so the General of hot desire
Was, sleeping, by a virgin hand disarmed.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy,
For men diseased; but I, my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.


Edward de Vere
Latin Preface to Clerke's trans. of the 'Courtier'
For what more difficult, more noble, or more magnificent task has anyone

ever undertaken than our author Castiglione, who has drawn for us the
figure and model of a courtier, a work to which nothing can be added, in
which there is no redundant word, a portrait which we shall recognize as
that of the highest and most perfect type of man. And so, although
nature herself has made nothing perfect in every detail, yet the manners
of men exceed in dignity that with which nature has endowed them; and he
who surpasses others has here surpassed himself, and has even outdone
nature which by no one has ever been surpassed.