Friday, December 16, 2016

Othering Shakespeare and the Trumpe of Defame

The Race of Shakespeare's Mind and Manners- Cosmopolitan De Vere/Italianate Englishman

The First Italianate Englishmen – George B. Parks, 1961

Though the Italianate Englishman is a well-known figure in the Elizabethan literary scene, our picture of him is drawn generally from plays and satires after 1590, a generation after Roger Ascham introduced the epithet. Moreover, each portraitist in turn  strove to outdo the other in vehemence, as we judge from the broadening range of Greene, Lodge, Marston, Jonson, for example, who had themselves not traveled to Italy and might not therefore be able to judge whether their victim, the ‘affectate traveller’, had learned his vice or folly in Italy or France or Spain, or only at home. Presumably the Elizabethans did not care how far out of bounds the terms went in describing extremes of cruelty or baseness. Neither, I judge, do the many excellent scholarly studies in our time of the Italianate fashion, which often do not distinguish too clearly decade from decade, trait from trait, or literature from fact. Were these indeed Italianate Englishmen who were disguised in literature (we are told) as Jaques, Bruto, Macilente? Can we believe that the wicked Italian courts in the plays of Marston, Fletcher, Webster, and others were meant to mirror a wicked Italianate court in England?
If the term Italianate has stretched so far, we might do well to return to the beginning to discover its original meaning. It should of course have been a term of praise in an era when Italy was looked on as ‘the nacion which semeth to flourisshe in civilitee moste of all other at this daie’, as William Thomas wrote in 1549 in his Historie of Italie, the first and most comprehensive English account of Italian manners and history…


The English ape, the Italian imitation, the footesteppes of Fraunce VVherein is explaned, the wilfull blindnesse of subtill mischiefe, the striuing for starres, the catching of mooneshine: and the secrete found of many hollow hearts. by W.R.
Rankins, William, fl. 1587.

The English Ape, the Italian imitation, the footesteppes of Fraunce.
Mala clandestina, pessima.
HE whose capacitie hath caught things (almost impossible for humain reason to reach) whose wit hath wonne the perfection of excellent enterprises,  and whose braines haue beéne busied about the haughtyest attempts, may scarce compasse to contriue the subtile secrecie of this impugnancie: which, so resisteth the proper operation of natures decreé: that it blindeth it selfe with the hidden humors of vnknowne enormities. How may it then be, that he whose weakenes (euery way wanteth the perseuerance of such importance) shoulde naturally apply his pen,  to portray the right & formall proportion of so strange an Ape? Except in this, that things of thēselues composed prodigious, can hardly by the same course be brought from their pristinate shape and former frame. Rightly then may it be regarded, that reason may soone erect a thing, which yeéldeth of it selfe no reasonable conformitie, but rather a preposterous enormitie. To what iudgement may I then appeale the indifferencie of my intent? If to the generall sort, (without an exception) the dulnes of their silence hath already condemned me. If to some in particular (whose qualitie conteineth a iudiciall voyce) I trust I shall neither (with the Persean dogs) haue my legs broken for barking before I espye a theéfe, nor my indeuors infringed by the stinglesse tongues of the serpent Phisae, whose will is good to hurt (though they want teéth to byte) Relying my selfe then vpon the chalenged choyse of my friendly Interpretors, I must take a little leaue of my Countrymen (who for the most part haue trauailed to Affricke,  to taste of the treé Lotos (thereby as strangers to forget their owne Country) to tell them what scornefull conceites, Nations of forreine condition harbour in the entrayles of their heart. What scorching infamie their tongues (with pleasaunt laughter) whisper in the vineyards of Venus: when (as sacrificing Priestes) they thither repaire to performe the rites of their auncient customes: To adorne their Idolatrie with their perelesse perfumes of their countrey condition, with the golden genimes of their vsuall ioyes, with the fine fatnesse of their fleshly desires. When their mindes are tickled with these dayntie deuises, their tongues vnrippe the secrete closure of their hollowe heartes. Then, tell they foorth the Englishmans endeuor: Then sound they foorth the TRUMPE OF DEFAME to giue an Alarum of our assaulted securitie. Some terme him then, an English Italian: Other some an Italian Englishman. Some harpe vpon the cunning conuey of his imitation in inward disposition, and externall habite, inuenting then to follow the footesteps of other Nations. A second displaies the hatred of his harmefull heart: that (growing in Odium with his natiue soyle) he seékes some other line wherby he may direct the course of his life. Thus (imitating the Ape) the Englishman killeth his owne with culling, and prefers the corruption of a forraine Nation, before the perfection of his owne profession. This secret mischiefe (seéming but a stemme) in time intendeth to proue a sturdie stalke.* This stalke adorned with the beautie of such painted blossomes (which Art hath graft: not Nature sprung) shall be found (in effect) as the Figge treé, which is said to depriue a Bull (being thereunto bound) of his naturall strength. Howe hatefull will it hereafter seéme to our selues, when the bowels of that place which brought vs foorth, our Countrey that nourisht vs (for which euery mēber is borne to die) expecting helpe at our hands our condition then to be so altered, our manners transformed, our estates so estranged, and our dueties so disguised with the spotted imitation of other Nations, that we shal cleane forgette to temper the proffered time, with the naturall benefite of our owne common good. Then, may we mocke at our owne manners, and stand amazed at the difference of our former demeanors. Such is the contemptuous condition  of these Imitators: that there is not any vice particularly noted in any Country,* but ye Englishman will be therein as exquisite, as if he had Nature at commaunde for euery enormity. If it be in Creete, he can lye, if in Italy, flatter, if in Fraunce, boast, if in Scotland cloake the treachery of pretended treason, which hauing gathered, and fraught himselfe ful of this wealthy treasure: He louingly bringeth his merchandize into his natiue Country, and there storeth with instruction the false affectors of this tedious trash.

 John Oldham on Jonson

Sober, and grave was still the Garb thy Muse put on,
No tawdry careless slattern Dress,
Nor starch'd, and formal with Affectedness,
Nor the cast Mode, and Fashion of the Court, and Town;
But neat, agreeable, and janty 'twas,
Well-fitted, it sate close in every place,
And all became with an uncommon Air, and Grace:
Rich, costly and substantial was the stuff,
Not barely smooth, nor yet too coarsly rough:
No refuse, ill-patch'd Shreds o'th Schools,
The motly wear of read, and learned Fools,

No French Commodity which now so much does take,
And our own better Manufacture spoil,
Nor was it ought of forein Soil;
But Staple all, and all of English Growth, and Make:
What Flow'rs soe're of Art it had, were found
No tinsel'd slight Embroideries,
But all appear'd either the native Ground,
Or twisted, wrought, and interwoven with the Piece.

Plain Humor, shewn with her whole various Face,
Not mask'd with any antick Dress,
Nor screw'd in forc'd, ridiculous Grimace
(The gaping Rabbles DULL delight,
And more the Actor's than the Poet's Wit)

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;

Oldham on Jonson, con't.

Such did she enter on thy Stage,
And such was represented to the wond'ring Age:
Well wast thou skill'd, and read in human kind,
In every wild fantastick Passion of his mind,
Didst into all his hidden Inclinations dive,
What each from Nature does receive,
Or Age, or Sex, or Quality, or Country give;
What Custom too, that mighty Sorceress,
Whose pow'rful Witchcraft does transform
Enchanted Man to several monstrous Images,
Makes this an odd, and freakish Monky turn,
And that a grave and solemn Ass appear,
And all a thousand beastly shapes of Folly wear:
Whate're Caprice or Whimsie leads awry
Perverted, and seduc'd Mortality,
Or does incline, and byass it
From what's Discreet, and Wise, and Right, and Good, and Fit;

All in thy faithful Glass were so express'd,
As if they were Reflections of thy Breast,
As if they had been stamp'd on thy own mind,
And thou the universal vast Idea of Mankind.

King Arthur, Scotland, Utopia, and the Italianate Englishman: What Does Race Have to Do with It? By: GUTIERREZ, NANCY A., Shakespeare Studies (0582-9399), 05829399, 1998, Vol. 26

While the discovery of the New World most manifestly inculcated an awareness of race in the English of the later-sixteenth century, its effect occurred within a world conditioned by the tenets of humanism in its variety of guises: as an educational regimen; as a return to origins, both biblical and classical; as a revaluing of public life and works. The elitism and conservatism of humanism in general meant that the few, rather than the many, were privileged, and this in turn resulted in a hierarchy closed to those who were not male, not educated, and not in the higher levels of society. Further, the rise of humanism was concurrent with a period of political and social flux in which feudal relationships were being redefined in terms of a centralized court and the nation state. Such a world resulted in a discursive tendency to compartmentalize, to establish concrete identities, to build walls, to shut out. (Of course, the fact that this was also a period in which fluidity of movement characterized class structure serves only to reinforce this discursive evidence.) As the English began to be aware of themselves as a single entity with its own national identity, the culture simultaneously began to define anything "not-English" as dangerous and other. In other words, this world established itself as civilized, chosen--as white.
A cursory examination of seminal texts of this period reveal that the English national identity was being created in opposition to a series of threats to its culture, and these threats were presented both directly through polemic and indirectly through not-so hidden fictions. As the English national identity was crystallized, the psychic boundaries of the people were also being circumscribed--against cultures, ideologies, even other national borders.
"The New Learning" of humanism, by its very name, puts into opposition forms of education and intellectual endeavor prevalent in England during the fifteenth century, especially prior to the accession of Henry VII, the first monarch to patronize fully those men who had been trained in the new philosophy. In counterpoint to the system of chivalry advanced in Malory's stories of King Arthur as elegant and courtly, the early humanists characterized the middle ages as barbarous and Gothic. As Roger Ascham said in his introduction to Toxophilus:
"In our fathers tyme nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheualrie, wherin a man by redinge, shuld be led to none other ende, but onely to manslaughter and baudrye." (xiv)
After the Reformation, English humanists literally demonized the influence of Roman Catholicism on humanist learning.
"And yet ten Morte Arthures do not the tenth part so much harme, as one of these bookes, made in Italie, and translated in England. They open, not fond and common wayes to vice, but such subtle, cunnyng, new, and diuerse shiftes, to cary yong willes to vanitie, and yong wittes to mischief, to teach old bawdes new schole poyntes, as the simple head of an English man is not hable to inuent, nor neuer was hard of in England before, yea when Papistrie ouerfiowed all." (231)
The Englishmen who are tempted to give in "to the inchantments of Circes, brought out of Italy" have this said of them:
"And so, beyng Mules and Horses before they went [to Italy], returned verie Swyne and Asses home agayne: yet euerie where verie Foxes with suttle and busie heades; and where they may, verie wolues, with cruell malicious hartes. A meruelous monster, which, for filthines of liuyng, for dulnes to learning him selfe, for wilinesse in dealing with others, for malice in hurting without cause, should carie at once in one bodie, the belie of a Swyne, the head of an Asse, the brayne of a Foxe, the wombe of a wolfe." (228)
In sum, this beast is not an Englishman: Englese Italianato, e vn diabolo incarnato, that is, "The Italianate Englishman is the devil incarnate."

Ethics/Nobility/ Better Race
De Vere's fashionable and cosmopolitan ways made him a threat to the humanist construction of  a 'virtuous' English identity/race. Jonson's attacks on Shakespeare and ultimate burying of Shakespeare/Oxford under a mock encomium and brazen frontispiece were part of  Jonson's xenophobic 'English/British' response to controversial aspects of a fashionable and politick aristocratic court culture.


Review by: Sarah Dewar-Watson

...In exploring representations of the Italianate Englishman, Redmond suggests that the Italophobia of the period is a marker for the instability of English identity.


Speculum Tuscanismi - Satire on Earl of Oxford

 Gabriel Harvey:

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.
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

Cynthia's Revels/Amorphus/Italianate Traveller/Oxford

Cynthia’s Revels, Jonson
Act V Sc. 1

We believe it.
But for our sake, and to inflict just pains
On their prodigious follies, aid us now:
No man is presently made bad with ill.
And good men, like the sea, should still maintain
Their noble taste, in midst of all fresh humours
That flow about them, to corrupt their streams,
Bearing no season, much less salt of goodness.
It is our purpose, Crites, to correct,
And punish, with our laughter, this night's sport,
Which our court-dors so heartily intend:
And by that WORTHY SCORN, to make them know
How far beneath the dignity of man
Their serious and most practised actions are.

Ay, but though Mercury can warrant out
His undertakings, and make all things good,
Out of the powers of his divinity,
Th' offence will be return'd with weight on me,
That am a creature so despised and poor;
When the whole court shall take itself abused
By our ironical confederacy.

You are deceived. The BETTER RACE in court,
That have the true nobility call'd virtue,
Will apprehend it, as a grateful right
Done to their separate merit; and approve
The fit rebuke of so ridiculous heads,
Who, with their apish customs and forced garbs,
Would bring the name of courtier in contempt,
Did it not live unblemish'd in some few,
Whom equal Jove hath loved, and Phoebus form'd

Well, since my leader-on is Mercury,
I shall not fear to follow. If I fall,
My proper virtue shall be my relief,
That follow'd such a cause, and such a chief.

His Art doth Give the Fashion:

Ben Jonson
To the Reader

This  [BRUTTA FIGURA], that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut:
Wherein the Grauer had a strife
with Nature, to out-doo the life:
O, could he but haue dravvne his vvit
As vvell in brasse, as he hath hit
His face; the Print vvould then surpasse
All, that vvas euer in Brasse.
But, since he cannot, Reader, looke
Not on his picture, but his Booke.


The Race of Shakespeare's Mind and Manners:

Metaphors of Mind: An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary
By Brad Pasanek


Bronze and brass are two “BASE” ALLOYS put to figurative use in the eighteenth century. Johnson notes that “brass” does not strictly differentiate brass from bronze but is used “in popular language for any kind of metal in which copper has a part” (“BRASS” and “BRONZE”). Brass is a metal of impudence so that “BRAZEN” is defined by Johnson, in this case without comment on the term’s figurative or literal status, as “impudent.” Brass has a BRIGHT luster but not the HEFT of a precious metal: it is SHOW without value, glister without the gold.

Jonson on Shakespeare

Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to SHOW
To whom all SCENES of Europe homage owe 


Author: Holland, Abraham
Title: Naumachia, or Hollands sea-fight Date: 1622

A Caveat to his Muse

Well  Minion you'le be gadding forth then?  Goe,
Goe, hast unto thy speedy overthrow:
And since thou wilt not take my warning: Hence,
Learne thy owne ruine by experience.
Alas poore Maid (if so I her may call
Who itches to be prostitute to all
Adulterate censures) were it not for thee
Better, to live in sweet securitie
In my small cell, than flying rashly out,
Be whoop't, and hiss't, and gaz'd at all about
Like a day-owle: Faith Misris you'le be put
One of these daies to serve some driveling slut,
To wrap her sope in, or a least be droven
To keepe a Pie from scorching in the Oven:
Or else expos'd a laughing stock to sots,
To cloke Tobacco, or stop Mustard pots,
Thou wilt be grac't if so thou canst but win
To infold Frankincense or Mackrills in,
You deem it a matter of high worth
To have a fame among 'em: New come forth:
And thinke your chiefe felicity is marr'd
If you be not perch't up in Paules Church-yard
Where men a farre may know you in a trice,
By some new-fangled, brasse-cut Frontispice.
Such book's indeed as now-dayes can passé
Had need to have their faces made of brasse.
Is it not then sufficient for you
To stay at home among the residue
Of better sisters: where my dearest Will, (my note - Will Browne?)
And other friends would praise and love thee still:
Him and my other harts-halfes I account
Intire assemblies, and thinke they surmount
One judging Plato worth a Theater.


Gabriel Harvey, Rhetor
On Art.

Can anyone be an artist without art? Or have you ever seen a bird flying without wings, or a horse running without feet? Or if you have seen such things, which no one else has ever seen, come, tell me please, do you hope to become a goldsmith, or a painter, or a sculptor, or a musician, or an architect, or a weaver, or any sort of artist at all without a teacher? But how much easier are all these things, than that you develop into a supreme and perfect orator without the art of public speaking. There is need of a teacher, and indeed even an excellent teacher, who might point out the springs with his finger, as it were, and carefully pass on to you the art of speaking colorfully, brilliantly, copiously. But what sort of art shall we choose? Not an art entangled in countless difficulties, or packed with meaningless arguments; not one sullied by useless precepts, or disfigured by strange and foreign ones; not an art polluted by any filth, or fashioned to accord with our own WILL and judgment; not a single art joined and sewn together from many, like a quilt from many rags and skins (way too many rhetoricians have given this sort of art to us, if indeed one may call art that which conforms to no artistic principles).

Cynthias Revels, Amorphus/Oxford:

He that is with him is Amorphus
a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds
of forms, that himself is truly deform'd.
He walks
most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his
Mouth, he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-
haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of
Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus. He speaks all
Cream skim'd, and more affected than a dozen of wait-
ing Women. He is his own Promoter in every place.
The Wife of the Ordinary gives him his Diet to main-
tain her Table in discourse, which (indeed) is a meer
Tyranny over the other Guests, for he will usurp all
the talk: Ten Constables are not so tedious.

Shakespeare, Much Ado (Sc3

(aside) I know that Deformed. He has been a vile thief this
seven year. He goes up and down like a gentleman. I
remember his name.


Rich, Barnabe, 1540?-1617. Title: Faultes faults, and nothing else but faultes
Date: 1606

There is nothing more formall in these dayes then Deformitie it selfe. If I should then begin to write, according to the time, I should onely write of new fashions, and of new follies that are now altogether in fashion, whereof there are such a|boundant store, that I thinke they haue got the Philosophers stone to multiplie, there is such a dayly multiplicitie both of follies, and fa|shions.
In diebus illis, Poets and Painters, were priui|edged to faine whatsoeuer themselues listed: but now, both Poet and Painter, if he be not the Tailors Ape, I will not giue him a single halfepenie for his worke: for he that should either write or paint, if it be not fitte in the new fashion, he may go scrape for commendation, nay they will mocke at him, and hisse at his conceit.


Author: Rich, Barnabe, 1540?-1617.
Title: The honestie of this age· Proouing by good circumstance that the world was neuer honest till now. By Barnabee Rych Gentleman, seruant to the Kings most excellent Maiestie.
Date: 1614

...In former ages, he that was rich in knowledge was called a wise man, but now there is no man wise, but he that hath wit to gather wealth, and it is a hard matter in this Age, for a man to rayse himselfe by honest principles, yet we doe all seeke to climbe, but not by Iacobs Ladder, & we are still de|sirous to mount, but not by the Chariot of Elyas.
Vertue hath but a few that doe fauour her, but they bee fewer by a great many in number that are desirous to fol|low her.
But is not this an honest Age, when ougly vice doth beare the name of seemly vertue, when Drunkennes is called Good fellowship, Murther reputed for Manhoode, Lechery, is called Honest loue, Impudency, Good audacitie, Pride they say is Decen|cy, and wretched Misery, they call Good Husbandry, Hypocri|sie, they call Sinceritie, and Flattery, doth beare the name of Eloquence, Truth, and Veritie, and that which our predeces|sors
would call flat Knauery, passeth now by the name of wit and policy.

And are not our gentlemen in as dangerous a plight now
(I meane these APES of FANCY) that doe looke so like Attyre|makers maydes, that for the dainty decking vp of themselues, might sit in any Seamsters shop in all the Exchange. Me thinkes a looking glasse should be a dangerous thing for one of them to view himselfe in, for falling in loue with his owne lookes, *as NARCISSUS did with his owne shadow*.


Jonson - On Poet-Ape

Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
   Whose works are e’en the frippery of wit,
From brokage is become so bold a thief,
   As we, the robb’d, leave rage, and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
   Buy the reversion of old plays;  now grown
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
   He takes up all, makes each man’s wit his own:
And, told of this, he slights it.  Tut, such crimes
   The sluggish gaping auditor devours;
He marks not whose ‘twas first: and after-times
   May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool!  as if half eyes will not know a fleece
   From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece? 


Jonson, Discoveries

Censura de poetis. - Nothing in our AGE, I have observed, is more PREPOSTEROUS than the running judgments upon poetry and poets;  when we shall hear those things commended and cried up for the best writings which a man would scarce vouchsafe to wrap any wholesome drug in; he would never light his tobacco with them. And those men almost named for MIRACLES, who yet are so VILE that if a man should go about to examine and correct them, he must make all they have done but one BLOT. Their good is so entangled with their bad as forcibly one must draw on the other’s death with it. A sponge dipped in ink will do all:-

“ - Comitetur Punica librum

Spongia. - ” {44a}

Et paulò post,

“Non possunt . . . multæ . . . lituræ
. . . una litura potest.”

Cestius - Cicero - Heath - Taylor - Spenser. - Yet their vices have not hurt them; nay, a great many they have profited, for they have been loved for nothing else. And this false opinion grows strong against the best men, if once it take root with the IGNORANT.
Cestius, in his time, was preferred to Cicero, so far as the ignorant durst.  They learned him without book, and had him often in their mouths; but a man cannot imagine that thing so foolish or rude but will find and enjoy an admirer; at least a reader or spectator.  The puppets are seen now in despite of the players; Heath' s epigrams and the Sculler' s poems have their applause.  There are never wanting that dare prefer the worst preachers, the worst pleaders, the worst poets; not that the better have left to write or speak better, but that they that hear them judge worse; Non illi pejus dicunt, sed hi corruptius judicant.  Nay, if it were put to the question of the water- rhymer' s works, against Spenser' s, *I doubt not but they would find more suffrages; because the most favour common vices, out of a prerogative the VULGAR have to lose their judgments and like that which is naught.*
Poetry, in this latter age, hath proved but a mean mistress to such as have wholly addicted themselves to her, or given their names up to her family.  They who have but saluted her on the by, and now and then tendered their visits, she hath done much for, and advanced in the way of their own professions (both the law and the gospel) beyond all they could have hoped or done for themselves without her favour.  Wherein she doth emulate the judicious but preposterous bounty of the time' s grandees, who accumulate all they can upon the parasite or fresh-man in their friendship; but think an old client or honest servant bound by his place to write and starve.
Indeed, the multitude commend writers as they do fencers or wrestlers, who if they come in robustiously and put for it with a deal of violence are received for the braver fellows; when many times their own rudeness is a cause of their disgrace, and a slight touch of their adversary gives all that boisterous force the foil.  But in these things the unskilful are naturally deceived, and judging wholly by the bulk, think rude things greater than polished, and scattered more numerous than composed; nor think this only to be true in the sordid multitude, but the neater sort of our gallants; for all are the multitude, only they differ in clothes, not in judgment or understanding.


'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing:
For why should others' false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown;
   Unless this general evil they maintain,
   All men are bad and in their badness reign.


Jonson, Cynthia's Revels

Cynthia: Dear Arete, and Crites, to you two
We give the Charge; impose what Pains you please:
Remembring ever what we first decreed,
Since Revels were proclaim'd, let now none bleed.
Arete. How well Diana can distinguish Times,
And sort her Censures, keeping to her self
The Doom of Gods, leaving the rest to us?
Come, cite them, Crites, first, and then proceed.
Then, Crites, practise thy DISCRETION.


The word [discretion] was almost invariably used in Elizabethan England as a means of constructing social, cultural, or aesthetic difference. (David Hillman, Puttenham, Shakespeare, and the abuse of rhetoric)


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.

  _The Alchemist_, Jonson

P R O L O G U E.

FOrtune, that favours Fools, these two short Hours
We wish away, both for your sakes, and ours,
Judging Spectators; and desire in place,
To th' Author Justice, to our selves but Grace.
Our Scene is London, 'cause we would make known,
No Countries Mirth is better than our own:
No Clime breeds better Matter for your Whore,
Bawd, Squire, Impostor, many Persons more,
Whose MANNERS, NOW CALL'D HUMOURS, feed the Stage;
And which have still been Subject for the Rage
Or Spleen of Comick Writers. Though this Pen
Did never aim to grieve, but better Men;
Howe'er the AGE he lives in doth endure
THE VICES THAT SHE BREEDS, above their Cure.
But when the wholesom Remedies are sweet,
And in their working Gain and Profit meet,
He hopes to find no Spirit so much diseas'd,
But will with such fair Correctives be pleas'd:
For here he doth not fear who can apply.
If there be any that will sit so nigh
Unto the Stream, to look what it doth run,
They shall find things, they'ld think, or wish, were done;
They are so natural Follies, but so shown,
As even the Doers may see, and yet now own. 



O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand:
Pity me then and wish I were renew'd;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.


 Jonson on Show and Seeming:

Look how the father's face
Lives in his issue, even so the RACE
Of Shakspeare's mind and manners
brightly shines
In his well turned and true FILED lines;
In each of which he *SEEMS* to shake a lance,
As brandisht at the EYES of IGNORANCE.

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...


Jonson, on Shakespeare

He was (indeed) honest, and of
an open, and free nature: had an excellent
fancy; brave notions, and gentle expressions:
wherein he flowed with that facility, that
sometime it was necessary he should be
STOP'D: sufflaminandus erat; as Augustus said
of Haterius. His wit was in his own power;
would the RULE of it had been so too."


Ruling/Restraining Shakespeare's Quill:

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

... For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.
In Thee Ben Johnson still HELD SHAKESPEARE'S QUILL:
A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,
As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.
Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,
Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)


  "The Italianate Englishman is the devil incarnate."
" 'A could never abide carnation. 'Twas a color he never liked."

Jonson, Timber

Decipimur specie. - There is a greater reverence had of things remote or strange to us than of much better if they be nearer and fall under our sense. Men, and almost all sorts of creatures, have their reputation by distance. Rivers, the farther they run, and more from their spring, the broader they are, and greater. And where our original is known, we are less the confident; among strangers we trust fortune. Yet a man may live as renowned at home, in his own country, or a private village, as in the whole world. For it is VIRTUE that gives glory; that will endenizen a man everywhere. It is only that can naturalise him. A NATIVE, if he be VICIOUS, deserves to be a stranger, and *cast out of the commonwealth as an alien*.


Jonson - Keeper of the TROPHONIAN DENNE:

 George Wither: The Great Assises holden In Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours

Hee them assur'd they must expect t' inherit
Parnassus honours not by time, but merit.
But when Apollo with his radiant looke
The Pris'ners had into amazement strooke,
Hee caus'd those guiltie soules to bee convey'd
To the TROPHONIAN DENNE, there to bee laid
In Irons cold, untill they should bee brought
To tryall for those mischiefs they had wrought.


...With regard to Martin Droeshout, whose portrait of Shakespeare, appears on the title page of the First Folio , in 1923; as Durning-Lawrence savs, "Droeshout is scarcely likely to have ever seen Shakespeare, as he was only 15 years of age when Shakespeare died." DULL DRAWING. The face in Droeshout's picture certainly expresses no trace of that almost divine intelligence which one would expect to find there, and the figure, out of all drawing, is clothed in an Impossible coat, the sleeves of which are composed, to all appearance, of the back and front of the same left arm. This fact was remarked upon In "The Tailor and Cutter." in its issue of March 9, 1911; and in the April following, under the heading "Problem for the Trade," the "Gentleman's. Tailor" magazine printed the two halves of the coat arranged tailor fashion, shoulder to shoulder, and said : "It is passing strange that something like three centuries should have, been allowed to elapse before the tailor's handiwork should have been appealed to In this' particular manner." Facing this portrait in ' the First Folio, are these words, attributed to Ben Jonson, which after stating that "the Figure" was Intended for that of Shakespeare, and that the "graver" had a struggle to out-do the life, conclude with: O, could he but have drawn, hit wit As well lo brasse. as he hath hit His face; the Print would then surpasse All, that was ever writ In Brasse. But, since he cannot. Reader looks Not on his Picture, but his Booke. Ben Jonson could never have seriously considered that the dull, wooden, face in the engraving was anything like that of the author of the plays, and may have sarcastically bidden the beholder "looke not on his picture, but his book." BEN JONSON. Facing the title page of the 1640 folio of Ben Jonson's works, is a portrait of that poet by Robert Vaughan. a contemporary engraver, . which, like that of Martin Droeshout, Is a very rough, uncouth, piece of work, though it certainly expresses a certain amount of individuality and intelligence, yet not very much; and the figure Is very ungainly, though Jonson became very stout as he grew older, as we know by one of his Epigrams, and would be difficult to draw. Durning-Lawrence savs that In a very rare and curious little volume published anonymously in 1645, under the title of "The Great Assises holden In Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours," Ben Jonson is described as the "Keeper of the Trophonian Denne," and in an Imaginary Westminster Abbey his medallion bust appeared clothed in a left-handed coat, like the figure by Martin Droeshout in the First Folio, and Stowe is quoted as having written regarding this: O' rare Ben Jonson what, a turncoat grown! Thou ne'er want such. till clad In stone; Then let not this disturb thy sprite. Another age shall set thy buttons right. 

Cynthias Revels - Jonson

Act III.    Scene III.


O, good Detraction, do, and I the while
 Shall shake thy spight off with a careless smile.
Poor pittious Gallants! What lean idle sleights
Their thoughts suggest to flatter their starv'd hopes?
As if I knew not how to entertain
These Straw-devices: but, of force, must yield
To the weak stroke of their calumnious Tongues.
What should I care what every dor doth buz
In credulous Ears? it is a Crown to me,
That the best judgments can report me wrong'd;
Them lyars; and their slanders impudent.
Perhaps (upon the rumour of their Speeches)
Some grieved Friend will whisper to me; Crites,
Men speak ill of thee. So they be ill Men;
If they spake worse, 'twere better: for of such
To be disprais'd, is the most perfect praise.
What can his censure hurt me, whom the World
Hath censur'd vile before me? If good Chrestus,
or Phronimus, had spoke the words,
They could have mov'd me, and I should have call'd
My Thoughts, and Actions, to a strict accompt
Upon the hearing: But when I remember,
'Tis Hedon and Anaides: alas, then,
I think but what they are, and am not stirr'd.
The one, a light voluptuous Reveller,
The other a strange arrogating Puff,
Both impudent, and ignorant enough;
That talk (as they are wont) not as I merit:
Traduce by custom, as most Dogs do bark,
Do nothing out of judgment, but disease,
Speak ill, because they never could speak well.
And who'ld be angry with this RACE OF CREATURES?
What wise Physician have we ever seen
Mov'd with a frantick Man? the same affects
That he doth bear to his sick Patient,
Should a right mind carry to such as these:
And I do count it a most rare revenge,
That I can thus (with such a sweet neglect)
Pluck from them all the pleasure of their malice.
For that's the Mark of all their inginous drifts,
To wound my patience, howsoe're they seem
To aim at other objects: which if miss'd
Their envy's like an Arrow, shot upright,
That, in the fall, indangers their own Heads.