Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shakespeare Authorship, Thucydides and the Prism of Stasis

The whole Earth is the Sepulchre of famous men; and their story is not graven only on Stone over their native earth, but lives on far away, without visible symbol, woven into the stuff of other men's lives. 


Informed by Thucydides' study of internal or civil conflict I am finding it useful to view the Authorship Problem through the prism or model of stasis. Not only does this model describe the political disturbances that troubled the Elizabethan period (largely concealed for the sake of presenting the image of a court and country unified in their loyalty to their Queen) - but more precisely (for the study of Shakespeare) it describes the linguistic conflicts that arise when competing factions deploy a shared language to publicize their own values. Edward de Vere was a prominent member of the faction that opposed the mililtant Protestant Leicester/Sidney/Essex faction - and attacks on his character and style (such as Gabriel Harvey's Speculum Tuscanismi) are more informative when viewed as political rather than personal in nature.

Thucydides and Internal War
Jonathan J. Price
In this book Jonathan Price attempts to demonstrate that Thucydides consciously viewed and presented the Peloponnesian War in terms of a condition of civil strife - STASIS, in Greek. Thucydides defines stasis as a set of symptoms indicating an internal disturbance in both individuals and states. This diagnostic method, in contrast to all other approaches in antiquity, allows an observer to identify stasis even when the combatants do not or cannot openly acknowledge the nature of their conflict. The words and actions which Thucydides chooses for his narrative meet his criteria for stasis: the speeches in the History represent the breakdown of language and communication characteristic of internal conflict, and the zeal for victory led to acts of unusual brutality and cruelty, and overall disregard for genuinely Hellenic customs, codes of morality and civic loyalty. Viewing the Peloponnesian War as a destructive internal war had profound consequences for Thucydides’ historical vision.

*********************************

I am convinced that the words and actions of the Elizabethans conform to the model of stasis as presented by Thucydides.

I suspect that Edward de Vere sacrificed his identity as 'Shakespeare' in an effort to destabilize this pattern and to offset the negative and polarizing characterizations with which his adversaries had disfigured him.

*********************************

Is there evidence that Oxford lived and wrote in an Elizabethan 'Thucydidean moment' - a 'time of faction within the ruling body of citizens'? Was he subjected to the deforming influences of an oppositional rhetoric?


In a letter to Queen Elizabeth, Philip Sidney provides his account of the state of the court at the time of the French Marriage crisis. This is significant for Oxfordians because it illuminates the events of the 'Tennis Court Quarrel' as well as Fulke Greville's posthumously published account of those events in his biography of Sidney. Greville, the Recorder of Stratford, characterizes Edward de Vere as Sidney's ethical opposite, presumably to be counted as one of Sidney's foremost adversaries and a target of Sidney's polarizing rhetoric:


Sidney Selection from Luminarium:

The patient I account your realm; the agent Monsieur, and his design; for neither outward accidents do much prevail against a true inward strength; nor doth inward weakness lightly subvert itself, without being thrust at by some outward force.       Your inward force (for as for your treasures indeed, the sinews of your crown, your Majesty doth best and only know) consisteth in your subjects, generally unexpert in warlike defence; and as they are divided now into mighty factions (and factions bound on the never-dying knot of religion) the one of them, to whom your happy government hath granted the free exercise of the eternal truth; with this, by the continuance of time, by the multitude of them, by the principal offices, and strength they hold, and lastly, by your dealings both at home and abroad against the adverse party; your state is so entrapped, as it were impossible for you, without excessive trouble, to pull yourself out of the party so long maintained.  For such a course once taken in hand, is not much unlike a ship in a tempest, which how dangerously soever it may be beaten with waves, yet is there no safety or succour without it...(snip)
The other faction, most rightly, indeed, to be called a faction, is the Papists; men whose spirits are full of anguish, some being infested by others, whom they accounted damnable; some having their ambition stopped, because they are not in the way of advancement; some in prison and disgrace; some whose best friends are banished practisers; many thinking you are an usurper; many thinking also you had disannulled your right, because of the Pope's excommunication; all burthened with the weight of their conscience; men of great numbers, of great riches, because the affairs of state have not lain on them: of united minds, as all men that deem themselves oppressed naturally are; with these I would willingly join all discontented persons, such as want and disgrace keeps lower than they have set their hearts; such as have resolved what to look for at your hands; such, as Caesar said, "quibus opus est bello civili," and are of his mind, "malo in acie, quam in foro cadere."  These be men so much the more to be doubted, because, as they do embrace all estates; so are they commonly of the bravest and wakefulest sort; and that know the advantage of the world most. (Philip Sidney - Letter to Queen Elizabeth)

***************************************

Representative Words
 By Thomas Gustafson

For Plato, there are five types of political constitution, and there is a type of individual soul or inner constitution that corresponds to each political constitution. According to him, the best type of political constitution is government by the best, a natural aristocracy in which the rulers or guardians of the city are philosopher-kings, and the best type of individual soul is the good and just man, the man in whom reason and truth reign. In Book VIII Plato chronicles a series of political and psychological transformations in which the city and its citizens decline from the best type of constitution to the worst, a decline that begins because of what Adams also feared and what Madison sought to neutralize: *FACTION within the body of ruling citizens*. In descending order, the ideal city and its citizens degenerate from the just man (a seeker of the good) to the timocratic man (a seeker of honor), the oligarch ( a seeker of wealth), the democrat (a seeker of unrestrained liberty), and the tyrant (a seeker of power). This degeneration is Plato's version of the world turned upside down: the citizens depose the natural aristoi and are themselves deposed by the tyrant; analogously, the "lawless passions" depose reason and are themselves subjected to the rule of force. Plato uses the term ANATROPE to describe this process of social and moral inversion. As John Wild explains in Plato's Theory of Man, "the expressive noun anatrope (inversion) or the corresponding verb...(to invert)" involves the "complex, dynamic confusion which lies at the root of moral and evil sin." For Plato, Wild adds, the word anatrope, which literally means to turn upside down or to turn over, and is often used of ships capsizing, refers to "the miscarriage of human action involving misapprehension of the hierarchical structure of means and ends." In his discussion of Plato's conception of anatrope, Wild emphasizes the fundamental importance in Plato's work of the contrast between the true, upward way of life - the ascent toward the light and the idea of the good - and the downward way: the descent into the cave that appears to be an ascent. No man, Plato point out, would choose to go down simply for the sake of going down, for men by nature see, the good. But since the good and the bad (e.g., liberty and licentiousness) are closely linked, even thought they are opposites, they are readily confused. Not just the delusive powers of the imagination and the lawless passions, but words themselves as imitations twice removed from the real, can trip us up and make us mistake the bad for the good and down for up.
     In the later sections of Book VIII, when the city and the individual soul degenerate from oligarchy into democracy, the process of social and moral inversion occurs as a corollary of verbal inversion: virtue is mistaken for vice and vice for virtue because of a reversal in the meanings of words. Terms are turned upside down, emptied of their own content, and filled with a new meaning that contradicts the old one. Or, to borrow words from John Dos Passos that recall the process of inversion as Plato describes it, "slogans and phrases that yesterday pointed steadily toward the lodestar of good today spin waveringly round the compass and tomorrow may have taken on meanings opposite from the meaning they started with. A moral judgment will turn inside out on you overnight." In the heat of the THUCYDIDEAN MOMENT, words change their valences: terms with a negative value, like "equality for the masses," can become positive if equality is reconceived as a natural right, and a positive term, such as "liberty," can become negative if liberty is reconceived to signify not the right to participate in government but merely the sanction to pursue one's self interest. The passage in The Republic chronicling this moral, social, and verbal inversion must be examined closely. It provides an etiology for the type of political and linguistic corruption Thucydides describes during the upheaval in Corcyra. Here again, as in Thucydides, the warring factions that turn words and the world upside down are the oligarchic and democratic parties.
(snip)
The word, as Bakhtin reminds us, is a primary scene of political conflict; its multiple definitions are a microcosmic incarnation of debate between parties or factions in the political forum. This duplicity or equivocality of the word - what Bakhtin calls the "inner dialectic quality of the sign" - is muted in periods of ideological consensus, but it becomes manifest in times of revolutionary struggle and in the Thucydidean moment. The openness of the word to contradiction becomes in this moment a political, linguistic, and moral crisis that cries out for resolution. Yet the confusion of this moment can lead to enlightenment and liberation. The recognition of an incongruity between word and action, a perception of corrupt naming or of verbal duplicity, can foment moments of sustained reflection, of fundamental questioning an redefinition. If this act called just is not just, then what is justice? Such questions can cultivate the ground for a new or reconstructed vision of a republic - the place where Aeschylus leads us in the Oresteia. His trilogy remind us that justice as due legal process was once a newspeak encountering an oldspeak of justice as revenge. The transformation from old law to new law in the final scene is itself facilitated by the persuasive newspeak of Athene, a benevolent Big Sister. The unfastening of words in the Thucydidean moment - or the exposure of a word's equivocality - can be the prelude to a new order of the ages. As people become more self-conscious about the politics of naming because of verbal duplicity, they may act collectively to overcome stasis through redefinition. More ominously, however, the unsettling of an old vocabulary can provoke nostalgia for the return of the old order and thus portend the reign of the tyrant who will impose rule by force of arms and the fraud of euphemism. ("Force should be right" etc.). The topsy-turvy world of the Thucydidean moment, like the antistructure worlds of the carnival and communitas described by Bakhtin and Victor Turner, is never on of unlimited duration. Nor does a social order long sustain the equal value of contradictory voices. Authority resists the claims of equivocation, and while the fate of Macbeth and Ahab manifest the danger of such resistance, the vision of a time when equivocality (or multivocality) yields to univocality - a state of e pluribus unum - remains a powerful ideal (or the ideal of the powerful).

****************************************

Another piece of writing that concerns the reputation of Edward de Vere is from Gabriel Harvey. Harvey was a client of the Earl of Leicester and was sympathetic to the Leicester/Sidney faction at court. The fragment of 'Speculum Tuscanismi' that we are accustomed to seeing is, in fact, embedded in a larger piece of writing that helps contextualize the slanderous nature of that poem as well as the highly critical nature of Harvey's 'fourth booke Gratulationum Valdinensium.'

Harvey's entire offering is interesting - and is a good starting point to recover some of the terms of abuse and praise that describe the ideologies of the factions that competed in the Elizabethan court.

Robin Headlam Wells in 'Shakespeare on Masculinity' provides an excellent background for reading not only Harvey's attack on the character of Edward de Vere but many other documents that disparage the earl. As a client of the Earl of Leicester and admirer of Sidney, Harvey was an early supporter of the militant Leicester-Sidney faction (later Sidney-Essex) and his literary treatment of the earl was informed by (and, as with Jonson, helped define) the particular virtues and language that came to be recognized as characteristic of the militant Protestant faction in the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts.

While employing the  inward/outward dichotomy that appears in Sidney's letter to Queen Elizabeth, Gabriel Harvey also opposed active masculinity and passive effeminacy in his castigation of Edward de Vere, this opposition and its (quasi-republican) variants became a cornerstone of Protestant propaganda and was important enough to become a major theme for Shakespeare.

From Robin Headlam Wells' 'Shakespeare on Masculinity' --

'Masculinity was a political issue in early modern England. Phrases such as 'courage-masculine' or 'manly virtue' took on a special meaning. As used by members of the Sidney-Essex faction, and later by admirers of the bellicose young Prince of Wales, they signified commitment to the ideals of militant Protestantism. Diplomacy and compromise were disparaged as 'feminine'.

Shakespeare on Masculinity is an important and original study of the way Shakespeare's plays engage with a subject that provoked bitter public dispute. Robin Headlam Wells argues that Shakespeare took a sceptical view of the militant-Protestant cult of heroic masculinity. Following a series of portraits of the dangerously charismatic warrior-hero, Shakespeare turned at the end of his writing career to a different kind of leader. If the heroes of the martial tragedies evoke a Herculean ideal of manhood, The Tempest portrays a ruler who, Orpheus-like, uses the arts of civilization to bring peace to a divided world...

So, bearing in mind the themes of inwards and outwards, and active masculinity and passive effeminacy, here is Gabriel Harvey (sometimes writing in third-person):

LETTER-BOOK OF GABRIEL HARVEY p. 97 Camden Society

And nowe, quoth he, to returne to mye miserable Mistrisse,
Verse, which, notwithstandinge her huge sumraes, and infinite
millions of most honorable comendacions, is oftentymes driven
very harde, pore sowle, for her vittales and lodginge. I passe
not if I bee a litle pleasurable awhile, and for this once playe
even the very right phantastic poett in deede.

And thereuppon feeling himselfe nowe, as he sayd, in his extem-
porall veyne of makinge notwithstanding.

See Venus, archegoddess, howe trimly she masterith owld Mars.
See litle Cupide, howe he bewitcheth lernid Apollo.
Bravery in apparell, and maiesty in hawty behaviour,
Hath conquerd manhood, and gotten a victory in Inglande.
Ferse Bellona, she lyes enclosd at Westminster in leade.
Dowtines is dulnes ; currage mistermid is outrage.
Manlines is madnes ; beshrowe Lady Curtisy therefore.
Most valorous enforced to be vassals to Lady Pleasure.
And Lady Nicity rules like a soveran emperes of all.
tymes, manners, French, Italish Inglande.
Where be y e mindes and men that woont to terrify strangers ?
Where that constant zeale to thy cuntry glory, to vertu ?
Where labor and prowes very founders of quiet and peace,
Champions of warr, trompetours of fame, treasurers of welth ?
Where owld Inglande ? Where owld Inglish fortitude and
might ?
Oh, we ar owte of the way, that Theseus, Hercules, Arthur,
And many a worthy British knight were woo'nte to triumphe in.
What should I speake of Talbotts, Brandons, Grayes, with a thousande
Such and such ? Let Edwards go ; letts blott y e remem-braunce
Of puissant Henryes ; or letts exemplify there actes.
Since Galateo came in and Tuscanismo gan usurpe
Vanity above all ; villanye next her ; Statelynes empresse,
NO MAN but minion : stowte, lowte, playne, swayne, quoth a
lordinge.
No words but valorous, no works but woomanish only,
For life magnificoes ; not a becke but glorious in shewte,
In deede most frivolous ; not a looke but Italish allwaies.
His cringeinge side necke, eies glauncinge, fisnamy smirkinge,
With forefinger kisse and brave embrace to y e footewarde.
Largbellid kodpeasid dubletts, unkodpeasid halfehose
Streyte to the dock like a shirte, and close to the britche like a
Divelinge
A litell apish hat chowchd faste to y e pate like an oister,
Frenche camarike ruffes, deepe with a witnesse starched to
the purpose,
Every on A per se A ; his tearmes and braveryes in printe,
Delicate in speeche, qweynte in araye, conceitid in all poyntes.
In courtely guises a passinge singular odd man,
For gallants a brave myrrour, a primrose of honnour,
A dimond for nonse, a fellowe peereles in Ingland.
Not the lyke discourser for tongue and hedd to be fownde owt,
Not the lyke resolute man for greate and serious affayres.
Not the like linx to spy owte secretis and privities of states,
Eied like an Argus, earde like a Midas, nosde like a Naso,
Wyngd lyke a Mercury, fit of a thousande for to be employde,
This neie more then this doth practis of Italy in one yeare.

f. 52 b. Nether will I here kepe from mi gentle masters on other sonett
utterid by Master H. in supper while, (but not made as he prae-
tendid of himselfe, howbeit I remayne still so persuadid and dare
warrant it was of his owne dooinge) to fitt sum parte of y e talke
that was then occasionid by good Mistrisse Katryne, I since ob-
tainid of him with mutch adoo to copye it owte of a litle table in
his studdye wherein it was written very faier on the on syde, which
syde was alwayes to the wallwarde ; a certain wise and ingenious
Latin epigramme being as faierly written on the other. The
sonnet was this :

Hungry vertu

Verbally praysid,

Horrible vices

Really worshipd,

Lazarus all prayse

Lack sily cryple

Epulo none prayse,

Roome for a rufler,

Faythfulnes all prayse

From the teeth outwarde,

Craftines askith

Who but her owne selfe ?

Spy ye the daye light

At litle window ?

What do I meane then

Thus many words use ?

Tell me nowe gentles.

Nowe tell me, I beseech you, if this be not a noble verse and
politique lesson, M. Christof, in effecte **conteyninge the argumente
of his curragious and warly[k]e apostrophe to my lorde of Oxen-
forde a in his fourth booke Gratulationum Valdinensium**, and had
for title nothing but this short exclamation in greate Romane letters :
Providentia Dea.

note - Epulo - reveler/feaster.


**************************************
Shakespeare

Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend;
All tongues, the voice of souls, give thee that due,
Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend.
Thy outward thus with outward praise is crown'd;
But those same tongues, that give thee so thine own,
In other accents do this praise confound
By seeing farther than the eye hath shown.
They look into the beauty of thy MIND,
And that in guess they measure by thy deeds;
Then, churls, their thoughts, although their eyes were kind,
To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds: 
   But why thy odour matcheth not thy show,
   The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.


****************************************
Greville, Life of Sidney. (Sidneian Substance vs. Oxfordian Vanity)

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. 


*************************************
Synonym Discussion of VAIN

vain, nugatory, otiose, idle, empty, hollow mean being without worth or significance. Vain implies either absolute or relative absence of value ;vain promises;. nugatory suggests triviality or insignificance - nugatory

powers; otiose suggests that something serves no purpose and is either an encumbrance or a superfluity - otiose scene;. idle suggests being incapable of worthwhile use or effect; idle  speculations;. empty and hollow suggest a deceiving lack of real substance or soundness or genuineness empty attempt at reconciliation; hollow victory;.

************************************
Shakespeare


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.
*************************************


Thucydides
History of the Peloponnesian War
CHAPTER X.
Fifth Year of the War - Trial and Execution of the Plataeans -
Corcyraean Revolution

...The sufferings which revolution entailed upon the cities were many and terrible, such as have occurred and always will occur, as long as the nature of mankind remains the same; though in a severer or milder form, and varying in their symptoms, according to the variety of the particular cases. In peace and prosperity, states and individuals have better sentiments, because they do not find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough master, that brings most men’s characters to a level with their fortunes. Revolution thus ran its course from city to city, and the places which it arrived at last, from having heard what had been done before, carried to a still greater excess the refinement of their inventions, as manifested in the cunning of their enterprises and the atrocity of their reprisals. Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries. In fine, to forestall an intending criminal, or to suggest the idea of a crime where it was wanting, was equally commended until even blood became a weaker tie than party, from the superior readiness of those united by the latter to dare everything without reserve; for such associations had not in view the blessings derivable from established institutions but were formed by ambition for their overthrow; and the confidence of their members in each other rested less on any religious sanction than upon complicity in crime. The fair proposals of an adversary were met with jealous precautions by the stronger of the two, and not with a generous confidence. Revenge also was held of more account than self- preservation. Oaths of reconciliation, being only proffered on either side to meet an immediate difficulty, only held good so long as no other weapon was at hand; but when opportunity offered, he who first ventured to seize it and to take his enemy off his guard, thought this perfidious vengeance sweeter than an open one, since, considerations of safety apart, success by treachery won him the palm of superior intelligence. Indeed it is generally the case that men are readier to call rogues clever than simpletons honest, and are as ashamed of being the second as they are proud of being the first. The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence of parties once engaged in contention. 

***************************************************
Anatrope: 

Shakespeare, Sonnet 66

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,
And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
   Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
   Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

**********************************

Shakespeare Studies and Internal War

**********************************

...From Thucydides and Plato to Orwell and beyond, we can find writers commenting upon (or constructing) a pattern of political and linguistic corruption: words lose their original meaning and become a means of deception and domination. Fine words decoy political machinations. The very gift of speech that enabled Orpheus and Amphion to build the walls of the city turns traitor and opens a breach in the walls it had helped to build. The city falls victim to verbal Trojan horses - to words as hollow and deceitful as gifts bearing Greeks. In he aftermath, the gift of speech is recognized to be a tool of power. The language that constructs the walls of the city become a prison. 

(Gustafson, Representative Words, p.87)

************************************

From Billy in the Darbies - Melville, Billy Budd

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 this darbies at the wrist, and roll me over fair,
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.


************************************
David Norbrook,  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. (Norbrook pp1-2.)

***********************************
Restraining Edward de Vere/Restraining Fancy

Image, Rhetoric, and Politics in the early Thomas Hobbes
Todd Butler
In the publication of the Eight Books we thus find the culmination of the humanist Hobbes's earliest theories on political imagery, theories Hobbes had begun exploring several years before in the Discourses. Torn between fascination and distaste for the power of images to move the multitudes, Hobbes identifies the work of the imagination as the primary site for political conflict. Rhetoricians are perhaps to be distrusted and their words suspected, but their weapons are not to be abandoned. Instead the danger must be neutralized by reorienting private desires to public aims, a task that paradoxically requires the use of the imagination and its ability to create from all substances—words and stones—monuments that can instruct an audience properly and effectively. In translating Thucydides, Hobbes must ask of himself what he would demand of others, harnessing his private ambition, itself carefully hidden in his letter to Lady Devonshire, to the public task of maintaining the decorum of Caroline government. To be sure, Hobbes's attitude toward history and the role of the imagination would vary. In Leviathan Hobbes asserts that in histories "Fancy hath no place, but only in adorning the style." To some extent his insistence in Leviathan on the need for judgment's preeminence echoes the earlier conclusions he makes in his translation of Thucydides, though the sum of his earlier work is not nearly as insistent upon THE RESTRAINT OF FANCY as a whole. At this moment, for all his hostility toward Dionysius and Herodotus, Hobbes never charges them with being ineffectual or insignificant. While their rhetoric presents a substantial threat to the proper ordering of men's thought in a commonwealth, Hobbes must ultimately answer them in kind.

***********************************
THE RESTRAINT OF FANCY/'SHAKESPEARE'S QUILL' (and jonsonian-judgement's preeminence):

From To the Deceased Author of these Poems...William Cartwright  (note- of the Tribe of Ben)

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) 

(Restraining/Holding/Ruling Shakespeare's Quill/Jonson and Cartwright's Judgements' Preeminence)

*************************************
Troilus and Cressida, Act 1 Sc. III – Shakespeare

They tax our policy, and call it cowardice,
Count wisdom as no member of the war,
Forestall prescience, and esteem no act
But that of hand: the still and mental parts,
That do contrive how many hands shall strike,
When fitness calls them on, and know by measure
Of their observant toil the enemies' weight,-
Why, this hath not a finger's dignity:
They call this bed-work, mappery, closet-war;
So that the ram that batters down the wall,
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine,
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.

********************************************

 Herman Melville, Billy Budd

...Aside from his qualities as a sea-officer, Captain [Edward Fairfax] Vere was an exceptional character. Unlike no few of England's renowned sailors, long and arduous service with signal devotion to it, had not resulted in absorbing and salting the entire man. He had a marked leaning toward everything intellectual. He loved books, never going to sea without a newly replenished library, compact but of the best. The isolated leisure, in some cases so wearisome, falling at intervals to commanders even during a war-cruise, never was tedious to Captain Vere. With nothing of that literary taste which less heeds the thing conveyed than the vehicle, his bias was toward those books to which every serious mind of superior order occupying any active post of authority in the world naturally inclines; books treating of actual men and events no matter of what era--history, biography and unconventional writers, who, free from cant and convention, like Montaigne, honestly and in the spirit of common sense philosophize upon realities. In this line of reading he found confirmation of his own more reasoned thoughts--confirmation which he had vainly sought in social converse, so that as touching most fundamental topics, there had got to be established in him some positive convictions, which he forefelt would abide in him essentially unmodified so long as his intelligent part remained unimpaired. In view of the troubled period in which his lot was cast this was well for him. His settled convictions were as a dyke against those invading waters of novel opinion, social, political and otherwise, which carried away as in a torrent no few minds in those days, minds by nature not inferior to his own. While other members of that aristocracy to which by birth he belonged were incensed at the innovators mainly because their theories were inimical to the privileged classes, not alone Captain Vere disinterestedly opposed them because they seemed to him incapable of embodiment in lasting institutions, but at war with the peace of the world and the true welfare of mankind.

******************************************
Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead:
Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides,
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself.

*****************************************
The House-top

Herman Melville, 1819 - 1891
A Night Piece
(July, 1863)
No sleep. The sultriness pervades the air
And binds the brain—a dense oppression, such
As tawny tigers feel in matted shades,
Vexing their blood and making apt for ravage.
Beneath the stars the roofy desert spreads
Vacant as Libya. All is hushed near by.
Yet fitfully from far breaks a mixed surf
Of muffled sound, the Atheist roar of riot.
Yonder, where parching Sirius set in drought,
Balefully glares red Arson—there—and there.
The Town is taken by its rats—ship-rats.
And rats of the wharves. All civil charms
And priestly spells which late held hearts in awe—
Fear-bound, subjected to a better sway
Than sway of self; these like a dream dissolve,
And man rebounds whole ├Žons back in nature.
Hail to the low dull rumble, dull and dead,
And ponderous drag that shakes the wall.
Wise Draco comes, deep in the midnight roll
Of black artillery; he comes, though late;
In code corroborating Calvin’s creed
And cynic tyrannies of honest kings;
He comes, nor parlies; and the Town redeemed,
Give thanks devout; nor, being thankful, heeds
The grimy slur on the Republic’s faith implied,
Which holds that Man is naturally good,
And—more—is Nature’s Roman, never to be scourged.

****************************************
"Entangled Rhyme": A Dialogic Reading of Melville's Battle-Pieces
Author, Devries, David. Author, Egan, Hugh

Herman Melville's agonized internal dialogues in Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) recall Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of the “relativizing of linguistic consciousness”—the play of multiple voices within a single text. Especially remarkable is the way that Melville's collection refuses to capitulate to any easy emotional or intellectual reaction to the American Civil War. Throughout the work, a full range of rhetorical response to the conflict is on display. Melville's collection not only resists reducing events to the limited views of partisan ideology, but it also engages readers in a confrontation with the problem of interpreting historical events, in particular the traumatic battles of the war. Although, as Melville makes clear in the supplementary essay he appended to the volume, he fervently desired that the country move beyond the violent polarizing of the war years, his skepticism did not allow him the luxury of a single-minded adherence to a particular set of political beliefs. Battle-Pieces is a history that resists the imperatives of most historiography: the tendency to allow a particular ideological pattern to determine the way that the events are written. Instead, the polyphony of voices in the poems subverts the totalizing gestures which partisan voices throughout the period so vociferously deployed in their attempts to wrest the meaning of events into their particular camps.

*****************************************

Selections from the Supplement to Melville’s Battle-pieces.

“Nor should we forget that benevolent desires, after passing a certain point, can not undertake their own fulfillment without incurring the risk of evils beyond those sought to be remedied”

“Were the Unionists and Secessionists but as Guelphs and Ghibellines? If not, then far be it from a great nation now to act in the spirit that animated a triumphant town-faction in the Middle Ages. But crowding thoughts must at last be checked; and, in times like the present, one who desires to be impartially just in the expression of his views, moves as among sword-points presented on every side.”

“Let us pray that the terrible historic tragedy of our time may not have been enacted without instructing our whole beloved country through terror and pity; and may fulfillment verify in the end those expectations which kindle the bards of Progress and Humanity.”

*****************************************
The Restraint/Exclusion of Fancy/Oxford:

William Cartwright, to Jonson (in 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..