Sunday, November 18, 2018

Shakespearean Sublime a Subset of Oxfordian Sublime

 The Noble Visage Underneath:

The Performance of Nobility in Early Modern European Literature

David M. Posner

... In the discussion in book II, section 11, of masquerade (“lo esser travestito”) [in The Courtier], and of its great utility for showing of one’s true (noble) identity through disguising it, Castiglione emphasizes that the success of the courtier’s performance is determined by the audience reaction, and particularly by whether or not the audience “si diletta e piglia peacere” (“is delighted and pleased”). Control of that reaction, through controlling the pleasure experienced by the beholder, thus becomes paramount. This pleasure arises not from the audience’s experience of the showing forth of some Truth, a la Cicero, but rather from its being deceived. Castiglione shows that the essence of the courtier’s performance is a kind of multi-layered deception, in the form of a performed concealment – a concealment that pretends to be the opposite, to be an intentionally incomplete concealment that instead reveals, with a wink and a nudge, the “truth” behind its supposedly consensual pretense. Through performing "con abito disciolto,”: in a disguise meant to be seen into, the performer invites the audience to feel as though it is in on the joke. The audience’s pleasure arises from its accepting that invitation, from being fooled into believing that , rather than being fooled, it is seeing beyond the mask (representing e.g. a pastor selvatico, a peasant) to the “real” (i.e. noble) visage underneath. The precise locus of this pleasure, as Castilgione makes clear, is the tension between what is actually seen and what is artfully hinted at, without however being revealed in what Bacon will call the “Naked, and Open day light” of Truth. Nor could that shadowy something-hinted-at ever be thus revealed, as it is neither presence nor substance, neither essence nor Truth, but rather the reflection of the desire of the beholder, at the very moment of “l’animo…(chi)…corre ad imaginar…” (“the mind which rushes to imagine”). In this specular performance, there is always something more – Castiglione’s “molto maggior cosa” – than can be seen, or indeed be present; the desire for that shadowy cosa is the delectation proper to this masquerade, and it is the eliciting of that desire that is the object of the courtier’s performance.

The success of that performance, of its come-hither pseudo- revelation, is in turn dependent on a sort of meta-deception, another layer of pretense that likewise attempts to disguise itself as its opposite. The courtier’s performance must persuade, but that effort at persuasion must itself be covered over by another persuasive effort, on that “demonstrates” to the audience that no effort at persuasion is being made. One cannot be seen to be doing what one is in fact doing, namely working very hard to persuade one’s audience of a noble identity which – if it actually were what it claims to be – would need no rhetorical helps to impose its intrinsic veracity, its mathematical Identity with itself, on the minds and emotions of the audience. That such an effort of rhetoric is in fact needed suggest that the Identity being performed is not what it professes to be, or at least that the person laying claim to it has no intrinsic, “natural” right to do so. Effort must therefore be disguised as its opposite; one must persuade the witnesses to that effort of its absence. This is sprezzatura.(pp.9-12)


Castiglione appropriates from Cicero the notion of artful artlessness, as well as its seductive effect: that the audience, finding what it beholds “sit venustius sed non ut appareat,” is incited to suspect, and desire, the presence of something more than what is actually seen. (While Castiglione’s rewriting of diligens negligentia jettisons the explicit comparison with the woman made more beautiful and attractive by her non-use of external adornments, the model of a seductive delectation is everywhere implicit in Castiglione’s idea of the courtier’s relationship with his or her audience.) But the Cortegiano expand the field of application of diligens negligentia well beyond the narrow limits of a single style of oratory; sprezzatura governs all courtly behaviour, and indeed is its essential defining characteristic. Upon it depends grazia, grace, which must be seen to accompany the courtier’s every action; upon it depends above all the crucial ability to persuade one’s public of the presence of the “molto maggior cosa,” that Something Else, always just beyond the reach of clear perception, which is the key to noble identity.(p.13) 

nescio quid

"And I maintain this also, that when a certain training and well- formed learning achieve and outstanding and illustrious character, then that *noble and unique something* usually STANDS FORTH." (Cicero) 

Shakespeare's Lady 8
Bruster, Douglas. Shakespeare Quarterly; Washington, D. C. Vol. 66, Iss. 1,  (Spring 2015): 47-88,110.

THIS ESSAY FOCUSES ON THE ATTRACTIVE PRINTERS' ORNAMENT that, gracing the title pages of both Venus and Adonis and Lucrece upon their first publication, helped to announce Shakespeare when he emerged as London's leading writer in the mid-1590s. Resting atop female names rendered in titling font, and with a female face gazing at the viewer from a virtual thicket of flora, fauna, and supernatural figures, this ornament could be seen as offering a visual correlative of his works' variety and allegiances. In fact, were we to design something to represent the copious abundance in Shakespeare's writings, an image able, in Jachimo's words, to "inventory" his "adornment," "figures," "the contents o' th' story," and "natural notes," we might produce a picture much like this. Yet while this ornament is a familiar feature of these two early Shakespeare publications-one for the "younger sort," in Gabriel Harvey's words, the other for "the wiser"-it has never received serious analysis.1 This is not in itself surprising: ornaments of this kind have typically served as forensic evidence for analytical bibliography (testifying, for instance, to the time and place of book production).2 They have less often been read, remaining below the interpretive realm owing to their perceived interchangeability.
Answering D. F. McKenzie's call for "fuller understanding of those historical decisions made by authors, designers and craftsmen in deploying the many visual and even tactile languages of book form to help direct their readers' responses to the verbal language of the text," the following paragraphs aim to bring close attention to the ornament that decorated the first versions of Venus and Lucrece.

Pagan and beguiling, Lady 8 is nothing if not a Renaissance symbol, a humanist image reflecting even as it advertises the implied classical textures of Shakespeare's two narrative poems. One in a family of such ornaments, this headpiece's busy admixture of materials participates in a larger European genre of intricate decoration that has been identified by many names, including "grotesque," "fantastic," and "early mannerist." During the Elizabethan era, this ornament's style might also have drawn a specific term from Shakespeare's contemporaries: the "antike." "Antike" is a useful word for understanding the cultural aesthetics of this time in part because it defines Elizabethan art's familiar attraction to and ability to enfold the delightfully multifarious-the strange and the familiar, the ordered and the disordered, the new and the old. It is also a helpful term through which to conceive Shakespeare's achievement in particular, for its suggestion of the almost indiscriminately copious points toward the wild heterogeneity of the worlds he made.
The locus classicus of "antike" theory in the English Renaissance actually traces to the moment of its decline in the Jacobean era, when it was possible to look back on the style's development with an objective eye. In the thirteenth chapter of The Art of Drawing, originally published in 1606 and subsequently in 1607, Henry Peacham defines a style he spells "antique":

ANTIQVE so called ab antiquitate, because the inuention and vse therof aboue all other kinds among the Graecians especially was most auncient and in greatest request, the Italian calleth it L'antica: it hath the principall vse in plate, clocks, armour, all manner of compartmentes, curious Architecture, ders of &c. Though you shall seldome haue any greate vse of it, yet I woulde haue you know what it is, and what to obserue in it: The forme of it is a generall, and (as I maye say) an vnnaturall or vnorderly composition for delight sake, of me[n], beasts, birds, fishes, flowers, &c.without (as wee say) Rime or reason, for the greater variety you shew in your inuention, the more you please, but remembring to obserue a method or continuation of one and the same thing throughout your whole work without change or altering. 

You may, if you list, draw naked boyes riding and playing with their papermills or bubble[-]shels vppon Goates, Eagles, Dolphins &c. the bones of a Rammes head hung with strings of beads and Ribands, Satyres, Tritons, apes, Cornu-copia's, Dogges yoackt &c.drawing cowcu[m]mers, cherries & any kind of wild trail or vinet after your owne inuention, with a thousand more such idle toyes, so that heerein you cannot bee too fantastical.

 Perhaps appropriately, Peacham seems of multiple minds when explaining this involved style: crediting its origins to the Greeks, he prefers a Latin spelling while nevertheless giving it a modern habitation in the Italian "L'antica." Likewise, though he calls the style "vnnaturall or vnorderly," he is at pains to talk about the natural creatures and plants that populate it, and insists that his artist "obserue a method or continuation of one and the same thing . . . without change or altering"-nothing if not the definition of an "order." As if shoring up the diversity of his own explanation, Peacham goes on to inventory the diverse creatures, decorations, fruits, and vegetables this style offers, concluding by assuring his sophisticated reader that "heerein you cannot bee too fantastical." 

Again and again in his plays, an unforeseen catastrophe … suddenly turns what had seemed like happy progress, prosperity, smooth sailing into disaster, terror, and loss. The loss is obviously and immediately material, but it is also, and more crushingly, a loss of identity. To wind up on an unknown shore, without one’s friends, habitual associates, familiar network—this catastrophe is often epitomized by the deliberate alteration or disappearance of the name and, with it, the alteration or disappearance of social status.

Greenblatt, Stephen. 2004. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 85



Edward de Vere to Robert Cecil, April 27, 1603)- 

...I cannot but find a great grief in myself to remember the mistress which we have lost, under whom both you and myself from our greenest years have been in a manner brought up and, although it hath pleased God after an earthly kingdom to take her up into a more permanent and heavenly state wherein I do not doubt but she is crowned with glory, and to give us a prince wise, learned and enriched with all virtues, yet the long time which we spent in her service we cannot look for so much left of our days as to bestow upon another, neither the long acquaintance and kind familiarities wherewith she did use us we are not ever to expect from another prince, as denied by the infirmity of age and common course of reason. In this common shipwreck, mine is above all the rest who, least regarded though often comforted of all her followers, she hath left to try my fortune among the alterations of time and chance, either without sail whereby to take the advantage of any prosperous gale or with anchor to ride till the storm be overpast. There is nothing therefore left to my comfort but the excellent virtues and deep wisdom wherewith God hath endued our new master and sovereign Lord, who doth not come amongst us as a stranger but as a natural prince, succeeding by right of blood and inheritance, not as a conqueror but as the true shepherd of Christ's flock to cherish and comfort them.



Middle English, from Anglo-French cunforter, comforter, from Late Latin confortare to strengthen greatly, from Latin com- + fortis strong 

 Author: Cardano, Girolamo, 1501-1576. Title: Cardanus comforte translated into Englishe. And published by commaundement of the right honourable the Earle of Oxenford
Date: 1573

To my louinge frende Thomas Bedingfeld Esquyer, one of her Maie|sties gentlemen Pentioners.

AFter I had perused youre letters good maister Bedingfeld, findinge in them your request farre differing from the desert of your labour, I could not chose but greatly doubt, whether it were better for me to yelde you your desyre, or execute myne owne intention towardes the publishinge of youre Booke. For I do confesse the affections that I haue alwayes borne towardes you coulde moue mee not a little. But when I had throughlye considered in my mynde of sondrye and diuers argumentes, whether it were best to obeye myne affections or the merites of your studyes. At the length I determined it better to denye your vnlawfull request, then to graunte or condiscende to the concealment of so worthy a worke. VVhereby as you haue bene profited in the transla|tinge, so many may reape knowledge by the reading of the same, that shall comfort the afflicted, co~firme the doubtful, encourage the cowarde, and lift vp the base minded man, to atchiefe to any true summe or grade of vertue, wherto ought onely the noble thoughtes of men to be enclyned. And because next to the sacred letters of Diuinitye, nothinge doth perswade the same more then Philosophye, of whiche youre booke is plentifully stored. I thought my selfe to commit an vnpardonable errour, to haue murthered the same in the wast bottomes of my chestes, and better I thought it were to displease one, then to displease many: further consideringe so little a trifle cannot procure so great a breach of our amity, as may not with a little perswasions of reason be repayred agayne. And herein I am forced like a good and politicke Captaine, oftentimes to spoile & burne the corne of his owne countrey, least his ennemyes therof do take aduauntage. For rather then so many of your countreye men shoulde be de|Single illegible letterided through my senister meanes of your industry in studyes,
(wherof you are bound in conscience to yelde them an accompte) I am content to make spoyle and hauocke of your request, and that that might haue wrought greatly in me in this former respect, vtterlye to be of no effect or operation, and when you examine your selfe what doth auaile a masse of goulde to be continuallye imprisoned in your bags, and neuer to be employed to your vse. I do not doubte euen so you thinke of your studyes and delightfull Muses. VVhat do they auaile, if you do not participate tbem to others? VVherfore we haue this latine Prouerbe. Scire tuu~ nihil est nisi te scire hoc sciat alter. VVhat doth auaile the tree vnlesse it yeld fruite vnto an other, vvhat doth auaile the Vyne vnlesse an other delighteth in the Grape? Vvhat doth auaile the Rose vnlesse an other toke pleasure in the smell? VVhye should this tree be accompted better then that tree, but for the goodnes of his fruite? VVhye should this Vyne be better then that Vyne, vnlesse it brought forth a better Grape then the other? VVhye should this Rose be better esteemed then that Rose, vnlesse in pleasantnes of smel it farre surpassed the other Rose? And so is it in al other thinges as well as in man. VVhye should this man, be more esteemed then that man, but for his vertue, throughe vvhich euerye man desireth to be accompted of. Then you amongest men I do not doubt, but vvill aspyre to followe that vertuous pathe, to ILLUSTER your selfe vvyth the ornamentes of vertue. And in myne opynion as it beutifyeth a fayre vvoman to be decked with pearles and precious stones, so much more it ornifyeth a gentleman to be furnished in mynde wyth glittering vertues. VVherefore considering the small harme I do to you, the great good I do to others I prefer myne ovvne intention to discouer your volume, before your request to secrete ye same: VVherein I may seeme to you to playe the part of the cunninge and experte Medeciner or Phisition, vvho althoughe his pacient in the extremitye of his burninge Feuer, is desirous of colde liccour or drincke to qualefye his sore thirst, or rather kill his languishinge bodye. Yet for the daunger hee doth euidentlye knowe by his science to ensue, denyeth hym the same. So you beinge sicke of to much doubte in your owne procedinges, throughe which infirmitye you are desirous to burye and inseuill your workes in the graue of obliuion. Yet I knovvinge the discommodityes that shal redounde to your selfe thereby (and whiche is more vnto your Countreyemen) as one that is vvilling to salue so great an inconuenience, am nothing dainty to denye your request. Againe we see, if our frendes be deade, vve cannot shewe or declare our affection more then by erectinge them of Tombes: vvhereby vvhen they be deade in deede, yet make vvee them liue as it vvere againe through theyr monument, but vvyth me behold it happeneth farre better, for in your lyfe time I shal erect you such a monument, that as I saye in your life time you shall see hovve noble a shadowe of your vertuous life, shal hereafter remaine vvhen you are deade and gone. And in your life time againe I say, I shall giue you that monument and remembraunce of your lyfe, vvhereby I may declare my good vvill thoughe vvith your ill vvill as yet that I do beare you in your life. Thus earnestlye desyringe you in this one request of myne, as I vvould yelde to you in a great manye, not to repugne the settinge forth of your ovvne proper studyes. I bid you farevvel. ¶

From my newe countrye Muses at VViuenghole, wishing you as you haue begunne, to proceede in these vertuous actions. For when all things shall els forsake vs, vertue yet wil euer abide wyth vs, and when our bodies falles into the bowels of the earth, yet that shall MOUNTE with our MINDES into the highest Heauens.

By your louinge and assured frende. E. Oxenford.


The Poetics of Primitive Accumulation, Richard Halpern

Looking back somewhat sourly on the culture of the sixteenth century, Francis Bacon wrote that it was marked by

An affectionate study of eloquence and copie of speech, which then began to flourish. This grew speedily to an excess; for men began to hunt more after words than matter; and more after the choiceness of the phrase, and the round and clean composition of the sentence, and the sweet falling of the clauses, and the varying and illustration of their works with tropes and figures, than after the weight of matter, worth of subject, soundness of argument, life of invention, or depth of judgement…Then did Car of Cambridge, and Ascham, with their lectures and writings, almost deify Cicero and Demosthenes, and allure all young men that were studious unto that delicate and polished kind of learning…In sum, the whole inclination and bent of those times was rather towards copie than weight.

What concerns Bacon here is not an imbalance within literary style but the proliferation of stylistic elegance throughout all of serious discourse. Paradoxically, the very autonomy of style allows it to colonize and dominate all other discursive functions; and as if to illustrate this peril, Bacon’s own language falls temporarily under the spell of style, succumbing to a delight in the “round and clear composition of the sentence, and the sweet falling of the clauses.” This sudden access of eloquence is not a return of the repressed, however, but a witty tribute to the lures of a humanist tradition from which Bacon only halfheartedly tried to extricate himself.
     In assailing what one critic has called the “stylistic explosion” [Richard Lanham] of the sixteenth century, Bacon questions the values of the English literary Renaissance itself. Ciceronianism was only one small part of this movement, but more than any other it came to represent a mysterious addiction to style. Gabriel Harvey famously described his own bout with Ciceronianism in the confessional manner of a recovering alcoholic:

…..I valued words more than content, language more than thought, the one art of speaking more than the thousand subjects of knowledge; I preferred the mere style of Marcus Tully to all the postulates of philosophers and mathematicians; I believed that the bone and sinew of imitation lay in my ability to choose as many brilliant and elegant words as possible to reduce them into order, and to connect them together in a rhythmical period.

 Jonson, Cynthia's Revels

P R O L O G U E.

IF gracious silence, sweet attention,
 Quick sight, and quicker apprehension,
(The lights of Judgments throne) shine any where;
Our doubtful Author hopes this is their Sphere.
And therefore opens he himself to those;
To other weaker Beams his labours close:
As loth to prostitute their Virgin strain,
To ev'ry vulgar and adult'rate Brain,
In this alone, his
Muse her sweetness hath,
She shuns the print of any beaten Path;
And proves new ways to come to learned Ears:
Pied ignorance she neither loves nor, fears.
Nor hunts she after popular Applause,
Or fomy praise, that drops from common Jaws:
The Garland that she wears, their bands must twine,
Who can both censure, understand, define
What merit is: Then cast those piercing Rays,
Round as a Crown, instead of honour'd Bays,
About his
Poesie; which (he knows) affords
Words, above action: MATTER, ABOVE WORDS.


Steven May,_ The Elizabethan Courtier Poets_

The New Lyricism

During the 1570's a body of courtier verse emerged that revived the emphasis upon love poetry as it had been introduced to the Tudor court by Wyatt and Surrey. Upon this revitalized foundation, amorous courtier poetics developed without interruption to the end of the reign and beyond. Unlike courtier verse of the 1560's, the new lyricism modeled itself primarily upon post-classical continental authors, from Petrarch to the Pl?iade. Attention to the classics remained strong, of course, but the ancients were assimilated into the new poetics almost exclusively in the vernacular. The courtier's immediate experience is often reflected in this poetry, although the exact circumstances behind it cannot always be identified, nor does this later work necessarily grow out of actual experience. From a literary standpoint this is perhaps the most important shift away from the trends of the 1560's. Subsequent courtier verse placed a greater emphasis upon artifice in its treatment of occasional subjects, while it increasingly strayed away from real events as the most respectable inducements for writing poetry. The movement was toward fiction and the creation of poems to be valued for their own sake, not merely for their commemorative function. As courtier poets ventured anew into the realms of fiction, they made possible once again the creation of a genuine literature of the court. Progress toward a golden age of lyricism was slow, especially with regard to form and the technical aspects of composition, but the shift in direction occurred suddenly during the period between roughly 1570 and 1575.

Although Dyer has been considered the premier Elizabethan courtier poet, that is, the first to compose love lyrics there, the available evidence confers this distinction upon the earl of Oxford. His early datable work conforms, nevertheless, to one of the established functions for poetry practiced by Ascham and Wilson. IN 1572, Oxford turned out commendatory verses for a translation of Cardano's _Comfort_, published in 1573 by his gentleman pensioner friend, Thomas Bedingfield. This poem differs from earlier efforts of the kind not so much because it appeared in English (as had Ascham's verses for Blundeville's book), but because his verses are so self-consciously poetic. The earl uses twenty-six lines to develop his formulaic exempla: Bedingfield's good efforts are enjoyed by others just as laborers, masons, bees, and so forth also work for the profit of others. Oxford flaunts a COPIOUS rhetoric in this poem in contrast with the more direct, unembellished commendatory verses of his predecessors. His greatest innovation, however, lies in his application of the same qualities of style to the eight poems assigned to him in the 1576 Paradise of Dainty Devices, pieces that Oxford must have composed before 1575.

DeVere's eight poems in the _Paradise_ create a dramatic break with everything known to have been written at the Elizabethan court at that time...The diversity of Oxford's subjects, including his varied analyses of the lover's state, were practically as unknown to contemporary out-of -court writer as they were to courtiers.

Oxford's birth and social standing at court in the 1570's made him a model of aristocratic behaviour. He was, for instance, accused of introducing Italian gloves and other such fripperies at court; his example would have lent respectability even to so trivial a pursuit as the writing of love poetry. Thus, while it is possible that Dyer was writing poetry as early as the 1560's, his earliest datable verse, the complaint sung to the queen at Woodstock in 1575, may itself have been inspired by Oxford's work in the same vein. Dyer's first six poems in Part II are the ones he is most likely to have composed before his association with Philip Sidney. ...Yet even if all six (of Dyer's poems) were written by 1575, Oxford would still emerge as the chief innovator due to the range of his subject matter and the variety of its execution. ...By contrast, Dyer was a specialist...Dyer's output represents a great departure from courtier verse of the 1560's, and several of his poems were more widely circulated and imitated than any of Oxford's; still, the latter's experimentation provided a much broader foundation for the development of lyric poetry at court. (pp. 52-54)


DIGNITAS - In Ancient Rome, Dignitas was regarded as the sum of the personal influence that a male citizen acquired throughout his life. It included personal reputation, moral standing, and ethical worth and the man's entitlement to respect and proper treatment as well.
The word does not have a direct connotation or translation in English. Some interpretations include dignity (merely a derivation) and prestige. The Oxford Latin Dictionary defines the expression as fitness, suitability, worthiness, visual impressiveness or distinction, dignity of style and gesture, rank, status, position, standing, esteem, importance, and honor.


Ancient Rome in so Many Words – Christopher Francese

Dignitas refers primarily to the social prestige of office holders and their families, and it has a very positive ring, since such distinctions were, through an ideological trick central to the word, seen as based on worth. Dignus means “WORTHY,” and dignitas is the personal worth that earns high office, or the high office itself. One’s dignitas, in the senses of both career and prestige or honor, had to be maintained and reasserted by winning new offices and distinctions through election or preferment, by the behaviour of the individual, by exercising leadership in the Senate, and through recognition by the voters. The word had a moral content and implied that the man was worthy of such leadership, advancement, and promotion.  There was thus a kind of productively vague slippage between political  prestige, management of the state, and moral worth. It is often impossible to separate the various shades of meaning: the office itself, the rank in society it entails, and the quality of the office holder’s life.
A Roman animal fable about the loss of dignitas casts in the leading role an old lion who has lost his roar and bite. This is fitting, because, unlike dignity, which in theory belongs to everyone to some degree just by being human, dignitas belongs to the lions of the social world. As he is drawing his final breaths, a boar comes up and gores him, avenging an old hut; then a bull attacks with his horns; finally an ass, seeing that the lion is putting u no reistance, kicks him in the head. “I resented being insulted by the brave,: says the dying lion to the ass, “but having to endure you, you shame of nature, I feel I am dying twice.” The moral is that loss of dignitas means being exposed, helpless, to the insults of one’s inferiors.


Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford:

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 a 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 out-done nature, which by no one has ever been surpassed. Nay more: however elaborate the ceremonial, whatever the magnificence of the court, the splendor of the courtiers, and the multitude of spectators, he has been able to lay down principles for the guidance of the very Monarch himself.
Again, Castiglione has vividly depicted more and even greater things than these. For who has spoken of princes with greater gravity? Who has discoursed of illustrious women with a more ample DIGNITY? No one has written of military affairs more eloquently, more aptly about horse-racing, and more clearly and admirably about encounters under arms on the field of battle. I will say nothing of the fitness and the excellence with which he has depicted the beauty of chivalry in the noblest persons. Nor will I refer to his delineations in the case of those persons who cannot be courtiers, when he alludes to some notable defect or to some ridiculous character, or to some deformity of appearance. Whatever is heard in the mouths of men in casual talk and in society, whether apt and candid or villainous and shameful, that he has set down in so natural a manner that it seems to be acted before our very eyes.
Again, to the credit of the translator of so great a work, a writer too who is no mean orator, must be added a new glory of language. For although Latin has come down to us from the ancient city of Rome, a city in which the study of eloquence flourished exceedingly, it has now given back its features for use in modern courts as a polished language of an excellent temper, fitted out with royal pomp and possessing ADMIRABLE DIGNITY. All this my good friend Clerke has done, combining exceptional genius with wonderful eloquence. For he has resuscitated that dormant quality of fluent discourse. He has recalled those ORNAMENTS AND LIGHTS which he had laid aside, for use in connection with subjects most WORTHY of them. For this reason he deserves all the more honor, because that to great subjects -- and they are indeed great -- he has applied the greatest LIGHTS AND ORNAMENTS.
For who is clearer in his use of words? Or richer in the DIGNITY of his sentences? Or who can conform to the variety of circumstances with greater art? If weighty matters are under consideration, he unfolds his theme in a solemn and majestic rhythm; if the subject is familiar and facetious, he makes use of words that are witty and amusing. When therefore he writes with precise and well-chosen words, with skillfully constructed and crystal-clear sentences, and with every art of DIGNIFIED RHETORIC, it cannot be but that *SOME NOBLE QUALITY* should be felt to proceed from his work. To me indeed it seems, when I read this courtly Latin, that I am listening to Crassus, Antonius and Hortensius, discoursing on this very theme.


Some Noble Quality - non se che

A History of Six Ideas: An Essay in Aesthetics
W Tatarkiewicz

…Two aesthetic values, the value of structure and the value of ornament , have had their own names since the Middle Ages. The Scholastics called the beauty of structure ‘formositas’ (obviously from ‘forma’) and also ‘compositio’, while they called the beauty of ornaments ‘ornamentum’ and ornatus’; they also used the name ‘venustas’ in the sense of ornamentality , decorativeness.

In Rome there was a known distinction between dignified and comely beauty: dignitas – dignity was beauty, venustas – comeliness was likewise, but each was a different beauty. Cicero writes succinctly in De oficiis (I.36.130): “There are two kinds of beauty, one comeliness, the other dignity; we ought to consider comeliness to be a feminine, dignity a masculine, beauty.”

Grace, in Greek (…), in Latin gratia, played a considerable role in the ancient view of the world. The Charites, its incarnations in mythology, in Latin called the Graces, have also entered modern symbolism and art as personifications of beauty and grace. And under its Latin name grace has entered the modern languages and the theory of beauty.
In mediaeval Latin a different, albeit a kindred sense of the expression gratia prevailed in religious and philosophical speech: namely, divine grace. But in the modern languages, beginning with Renaissance Italian, grazia was once again the old grace. And it was once again something close to beauty. Cardinal Bembo held that beauty is always grace and nothing else, that there is no other beauty than grace. However, other Renaissance aestheticians separated these two concepts. To those who understood it broadly, the concept of beauty included grace, while to those who took it narrowly, it was opposed to the concept of grace. In the influential  Poetics  of Julius Caesar Scaliger we find an interpretation of beauty as perfection, regularity, conformity to rules; in such a beauty, grace did not find a place. Benedetto Varchi already in the title of a book published in 1590 (Libro della belta e grazia) had separated grace from beauty. Beauty in the strict sense is evaluated by the mind, whereas grace is “non so che”. Considerably later yet, Felibien (Idée du peintre parfait, 1707) was to write of grace: “It can be defined in this way: it is that which pleases and which wins the heart without having passed through the mind. Beauty and grace are two different things: beauty pleases only thanks to rules, whereas grace pleases without rules.” In this respect, there was agreement all the way from the Quattrocento to the rococo.
Later came attempts at a more precise definition of grace. Lord Kames argued that grace is accessible only to the eye and manifests itself only in man, in a face, in movement; in music, it is a metaphor. Johann Joachim Winckelmann differentiated varieties of grace: sublime, winsome, childish. Still later, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling would defined grace as “the supreme gentleness and the coordination of all forces”.
In the course of two centuries, a fairly substantial change had after all occurred in the concept of grace. During the Renaissance it had been regarded as conduct and appearance that was natural, free, unforced; its antithesis had been stiffness and artificiality. It had been thought to occur equally in men and in women, equally in the old and in the young. Held to be personifications of grace were the portraits by Raphael, even his portraits of older men. In the age of the rococo, however, grace became the privilege of women and oung people, its special incarnations became the pictures of Watteau, its antithesis – austerity, its basic trait – petiteness of forms. Grace and greatness were opposed (Fr. Yves Marie Andre, Essai sur le beau, 1741); grace, which had been compatible with greatness during the Renaissance, was not compatible with it in the 18th century.



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.


Conceits, Clinches, Flashes and Whimzies (1639)
One asked another what Shakespeares works were worth, all being bound together. He answered, not a farthing. Not worth a farthing! Said he; why so? He answered that his plays were worth a great deale of mony, but he never heard, that his works were worth any thing at all.


Edward de Vere satirized as Amorphus of Cynthia's Revels:

Ben Jonson's Sacramental Poetics: Manners as Mystery in his Poetry and Drama
Marshelle Woodward

Peterson has elucidated the Stoic and Neoplatonic underpinnings of Jonson's distaste for empty forms of fashion, opposed in his works to “full” men whose bodies are “informed” by virtuous souls.31 I argue that Jonson's use of the term “mystery” to heap praise and blame upon these arts suggests an additional sacramental dimension to his treatment of them. Jonson never characterizes weaving, tilling and other “arts that serve the body” as mysteries, despite the fact that they were regularly designated as such in the period (Discoveries 113–15). When not used to describe divine truth, mystery serves an almost exclusively epideictic function in his works, pointing to the noblest and basest forms of human ceremony and labor. In taking it upon himself to dispense the true mystery of manners and destroy the false mystery of fashion, Jonson positions himself as neither Protestant seer nor rude mechanical, but something in between, a priest and craft master for whom the “business of mankind” is itself an efficacious rite.
Indeed, what we find reflected in his distinction between manners and fashion is a conflict in the Early Modern discourse of manners centering on the art's ethical and spiritual merits. As presented in Erasmus's De civilitate morum puerilium (1530), the craft of manners in its most idealistic form was an art designed to reflect and condition one's inner virtue. Both the Protestant and Catholic reform movements embraced the “new manners” as a vehicle for moral reform, seeing in its disciplined behaviors a means of subordinating the animalistic passions of the lower body to the Godlike rationality of the upper.32 However, the new manners' emphasis on external appearances and reliance on the dissimulating practice of sprezzatura simultaneously threatened to undermine virtue. As Harry Berger, Jr. has detailed, Giovanni della Casa's Galateo (1558) depicts the moral degradation of the craft of manners, which it strongly opposes to the art of virtue.33
Jonson's works seek to transform the manners of the English court along Erasmian lines, purging its members of their Galatean fixation with fashion. By attempting to transform fashionable aristocrats into well-mannered nobles, he seeks to lead the court away from a corporeal, ultimately idolatrous mystery towards an art in which virtue and its habitual bodily expression are mutually reinforcing. In this art, as in the poet's craft, human labor is elevated by a “divine instinct” that transfigures an otherwise rote practice into an incarnational rite. Though the conflict between the mysteries of manners and fashion runs throughout Jonson's works, the two are brought into most direct competition in the 1616 folio edition of Cynthia's Revels, or the Fountain of Self-Love. The play pits scholar-poet Crites against fashionable hangers-on at Cynthia's court, dramatizing through their antagonism the tension between the poet's art of manners and the courtiers' false art of fashion. This quarrel erupts in the play's final acts in a standoff between two forms of courtly ritual: the courtiers' trial of courtship, erroneously framed as a mystery, and the revels and penitential rite devised by Crites. In these scenes, Jonson structurally “embattles” the mysteries of manners and fashion, following his own recommendation that the poet embattle virtues and vices in order “to render the one loved, the other hated” (Discoveries 745).

Edward de Vere/Shakespeare/Master of Manners Amorphus

 Gabriel Harvey, Speculum Tuscanismi and 'exemplary' Sidney:

Speculum Tuscanismi (1580)

Since GALATEO came in, and Tuscanism gan usurp,
Vanity above all: villainy next her, stateliness Empress
No man but minion, stout, lout, plain, swain, quoth a Lording:
No words but valorous, no works but womanish only.
For life Magnificoes, not a beck but glorious in show,
In deed most frivolous, not a look but Tuscanish always.
His cringing side neck, eyes glancing, fisnamy smirking,
With forefinger kiss, and brave embrace to the footward.
Large bellied Cod-pieced doublet, uncod-pieced half hose,
Straight to the dock like a shirt, and close to the britch like a diveling.
A little Apish flat couched fast to the pate like an oyster,
French camarick ruffs, deep with a whiteness starched to the purpose.
Every one A per se A, his terms and braveries in print,
Delicate in speech, quaint in array: conceited in all points,
In Courtly guiles a passing singular odd man,
For Gallants a brave Mirror, a Primrose of Honour,
A Diamond for nonce, a fellow peerless in England.
Gabriel Harvey, Speculum Tuscanismi and 'exemplary' Sidney:
'Tell me in good sooth, doth it not too evidently appeare, that this English Poet (note - Edward de Vere) wanted but a good PATTERNE before his eyes, as it might be some delicate, and choyce elegant Poesie of good M. Sidneys, or M. Dyers (ouer very Castor, & Pollux for such and many greater matters) when this trimme geere was in hatching: Much like some Gentlewooman, I coulde name in England, who by all Phisick and Physiognomie too, might as well have brought forth all goodly faire CHILDREN, as they have now some ylfavoured and DEFORMED, had they at the tyme of their Conception, had in sight, the amiable and gallant beautifull Pictures of ADONIS, Cupido, Ganymedes, or the like, which no doubt would have wrought such deepe impression in their fantasies, and imaginations, as their children, and perhappes their Childrens children to, myght have thanked them for, as long as they shall have Tongues in their heades." 

Shakespeare, dedication Venus and Adonis:

But if the first HEIRE of my INVENTION proue DEFORMED, I shall be sorie it had so noble a god-father : and neuer after eare so barren a land, for feare it yeeld me still so bad a haruest, I leaue it to your Honourable suruey, and your Honor to your hearts content, vvhich I wish may alvvaies ansvvere your ovvne vvish, and the vvorlds hopefull expectation.


Jonathan Gibson, _Sidney's Arcadias and Elizabethan Courtiership_,

Oxford University Press

"One aspect of the Alencon dispute that, rather surprisingly, has been neglected in discussions of Sidney is the relationship between his own work and the writings of his court rival Edward DeVere, seventeenth earl of Oxford. The _Arcadias_ can plausibly be read as using their opposition to a specifically 'Oxfordian' literary aesthetic to trigger a more general meditation on the problems of Elizabethan courtiership. As Steven W. May has shown, French-influenced 'new lyricism', closely associated with Oxford, was the dominant poetic form at the Elizabethan court at the time of the composition of the old _Arcadia_.

Early Elizabethan court poetry had been largely religious and didactic but during the 1570's Oxford pioneered a revival of courtly Petrarchan lyric in the tradition of Wyatt and Surrey. I have argued elsewhere that this was connected with Oxford's advocacy of the French match, forming a key element in what H.R. Woudhuysen has called the 'wholesale importation of FRENCH CULTURE AND MANNERS to England' which occurred in the wake of the marriage negotiations. The arrival of 'new lyricism' meant that the Petrarchan language of love became part of the lingua franca of English court life. The complicated overlap at the Elizabethan court between the language of early modern patronage negotiations and the language of Petrarchanism has been much discussed. The blurring of the two was greatly heightened - and arguably set in place, in its specifically Elizabethan manifestation - by Oxford's literary programme.