Tuesday, December 29, 2009

(St) Philip Howard takes upon him a quarrel

I came across this thrasonical document on EEBO, where it is attributed to St Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel. It is a challenge at tilt, issued in print, and in the spirit of Elizabethan neo-medieval chivalry of which Sidney and Essex were exponents – the opening flourish here could be in the Arcadia:

Callophisus, being brought by the greatest perfection in another to the smallest liberty in himself, having the foundation of his choice so firm as it cannot decay, and finding the place of his imprisonment so strong as he cannot escape: will be at the Tilts end upon the two and twenty day of January next ensuing, at one of the Clock in the afternoon, there to defend and maintain against all men whosoever, for six courses a piece, the whole six, or any of the six Articles which follow, whereunto he challengeth all, that either Honour any Lady, whom they may brag of for any worth: or serve a Mistress, which hath reason to boast of her self for any beauty, by these first three Articles.

1 The first, that his Mistress is for Beauty of her face, and the Grace of her person, the most perfect creature, that ever either the eye of man hath beheld, the Arte of Nature hath framed, or the compass of the earth hath enjoyed.

2 The second, that it is as impossible for any other whosoever, to abide the beams of his Mistress’ look, as for the Clouds to endure the shining and appearing of the Sun, and that the one doth not sooner vanish at the showing of the Sun, then the other will suddenly fade at the presence of his Mistress,

3 The third, that the perfections of his Mistress, are in number so infinite, in quality so excellent, and in operation so effectual, as she by the help of them, and they by the direction of her, do make more men without liberty, and more bodies without hearts, then any, or all the women in the world besides.

And because Callophisus doubteth that the taking upon him a quarrel which is so just on his side, will make that he shall have none to defend the contrary against him, and that the worthiness of his mistress will steal away the Servants of other Ladies, he will with one only assistant, challenge all that either have opinion in the constancy of their love, or assurance in the greatness of their affection, by these other three Articles.

4 The first, that Callophisus for his faith will yield to none, and for his loyalty doth think himself above all, and in these two respects pronounceth himself most worthy to be accepted into favor with his Mistress· or to receive grace at the hands of the fairest.

5 The second, that the good will and affection of Callophisus to his Mistress, is for impression so deep, for continuance so lasting, and for passion so extreme, as it is impossible for any other to carry so perfect love, or to conceive the like affection.

6 The third, that those adventures and hazards, which cannot but be most sour, to any other for the pleasing of any Lady (whom they Honour) are most sweet unto him, for the contentment of the Mistress whom he serveth.

And if they neither will contend with him for the superiority of his Mistress in worthiness, nor for the prerogative of himself in affection, having not their judgement veiled with so partial an humor as may lead them to resist of manifest and open truth, and doubting a bad success in a wrong opinion, because Veritas vincet omnia, then will he, & his said assistant, with all such, run six courses, to join with them in honouring of his Mistress, which hath no equal, and expressing of his affection which cannot be matched.

Whereas this challenge of Jousts, was signified by way of device before her Majesty, on Twelfth night last past, to have been performed the fifteenth day of January, her Majesty’s pleasure is for divers considerations, that it be deferred until the two and twenty of the same month, and then to be held at Westminster, the accustomed place.

Proclaimed by the sound of Trumpet, and a Herald.”

The final paragraph betrays a moment where reality intrudes upon this fantasy. Howard, swarthy of skin, and long of face and body, had the money to sustain his role as ‘Callophisus’ (I guess that the romance name is meant to suggest ‘beautiful face’), but didn’t have, in the all-important opinion of the Queen, the looks to hold her attention. He seems to have spent enormous sums of money on these efforts to draw favour to himself (in an account cited in the ODNB, he “Wasted a great part of that Estate which was left him, by profused expences of great Summs of money in diverse Tiltings & Tourneys made upon the anniversary dayes of the Queen's Coronation to please her, and at the entertainment of Certain great Embassadors, and also by the entertaining of the Queen her self”). But it seems that on 12th Night 1581, the Queen could not face sitting through another set of jousts by the lanky Earl, and put him back a week. I assume that she would have been the royal ‘Mistress’ whose virtue and beauty are so extravagantly touted in the challenge.

If this big event ever came to anything (for the printed announcement seems to come down to Howard actually expecting no challenger, and that he anticipates going through the motions with his ‘assistant’), it cannot have gratified his hopes, for 1581 was the year when Howard flung away from the court in pique at his neglect, and found that Arundel Castle was seething with the Jesuits and priests harbored there by the wife he had been ignoring for ten years. Disaffected, Howard was an easy mark. At last he had someone prepared to give him the attention he had sought. He wavered in faith straight away, and was converted by 1584. In 1585 he tried to flee abroad, but like his other enterprises, this was ineptly carried out: he was captured, and spent the rest of his life in the Tower of London.

His sainthood (1970) seems largely to have been founded on the still surviving inscription he carved on the walls of his cell: “quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro’ (‘the more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next’, the ODNB author translates it, though wouldn’t ‘in this age’ seem more accurate for ‘in hoc saeculo’?)


He was also alleged to have died of poison, and so he had been a kind of martyr. But it does seem to me that he was potentially worth more to the Queen alive. She didn’t like him, the Howards were far too wealthy, and he’d turned Catholic: but I’d have thought the Queen rather hoped for a big payout when he had finally had enough of the Tower. He, though, was offended enough, obstinate enough (or sincere enough) to hold out. As for the Queen, she did promise to restore him to all his honours if he attended Church of England services, but just maybe with the thought that his freedom would involve her in having to pay polite attention to all that jousting all over again.

After his unlikely canonization, Howard’s remains were installed in a shrine in the Catholic Cathedral at Arundel, where he is visited by Catholic bloggers who otherwise busily seek out the 39 martyrs, their relics, and Tridentine masses.

But what a surprising document his announcement that he will be on display jousting at the tilt-yard is! The spirit of medieval romance, but put into print - no doubt circulation was confined to court circles, but wasn’t it still classier to send your herald round with a trumpet and a vellum scroll? In print, Howard seems more nakedly self-advertising, to be desperately promoting an entertainment already bumped down the royal schedule. It survives in the Folger Shakespeare Library, I do not know with what provenance. An early hand has practiced penmanship on it, the reverse has a superscription “O Lorde save my soule, for I doe put my truste in thee”. I suppose this might even be the Earl himself, for that was the reverse side of the posturing Callophisus, searching for an ideal to defend, a service in which to be the unchallenged paladin.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A riotous Christmas at Canterbury, 1647

The anonymous pamphlet titled The declaration of many thousands of the city of Canterbury, or county of Kent. Concerning the late tumult in the city of Canterbury

(1647) tells a sad tale of oppression by the puritan mayor, whose miserable opposition to Christmas celebrations leads him to ban as ‘superstitious’ even a Christmas day sermon the good people of his town gathered to hear. These modestly festive folk were then attacked by his men.

As you read the account in the brief pamphlet, hints of the real circumstances appear amid the general ‘what is the world coming to?’ note of pious indignation:

“The cause of this so sudden a posture of defence (sic) which we have put ourselves into, was the violent proceedings of the Mayor of this City of Canterbury and his uncivill carriage in pursuance of some petty order of the House of Commons for hindring the celebration of Christs Nativity so long continued in the Church of God. That which we so much desired that day was but a Sermon, which any other day of the week was tolerable by the orders & practice of the two Houses and all their adherents, but that day (because it was Christs birth day) we must have none; that which is good all the year long, yet is this day superstitious. The Mayor causing some of us to be beaten contrary to his oath and office, who ought to preserve the peace, and to that purpose chiefly is the sword of justice put into his hands, and wrongfully imprisoned divers of us, because we did assemble our selves to hear the word of God, which he was pleased to interpret a Ryot, yet we were unarmed, behaved ourselves civilly, intending no such tumult as afterwards we were forc’d into: but at last seeing the manifest wrong done to our children, servants, and neighbours, by beating, wounding, and imprisoning them, we were moved to vindicate the wrong done them, and to release them that were imprisoned, and did call unto our assistance our brethren of the County of Kent, who very readily came in to us, and have associated themselves to us in this our just and lawfull defence, and do concurre with us in this our Remonstrance concerning the Kings majestie, and the settlement of Peace in this Kingdome.”

Dress it up as he may, the writer cannot quite conceal that a demonstration, a pointed political act, had been intended. Could those ‘brethren’ of the County of Kent have assembled quite so quickly when called to come to the assistance of the royalist townsfolk? Who exactly was to give this edifying sermon all had come to hear? - the writer rather suspiciously does not say. When the mayor sent whatever forces he had against the assembled people, we are told that they provoked the riot by beating just the children, servants, and neighbours of these civilly behaved citizens, who were of course “intending no such tumult as afterwards we were forc’d into” (‘forc’d’ is nicely judged here). These same citizens had by January 5th published in London a direct repudiation of the commonwealth, demand for the King’s release from Carisbrooke, and general diatribe against the injustices of the supposedly ‘reformed’ Commonwealth.

Perhaps the mayor did panic and overreact: that so commonly happens in such circumstances. But it seems quite likely he had a good understanding of what was going to happen if the Christmas day sermon had gone ahead, and it might even have been worse. What a way to spend your Christmas!

The declaration of many thousands of the city of Canterbury, or county of Kent. Concerning the late tumult in the city of Canterbury, provokt by the Mayors violent proceedings against those who desired to continue the celebration of the Feast of Christs Nativity, 1500 yeers and upwards maintained in the Church. Together with their resolutions for the restitution of His Majestie to his Crown and dignity, whereby religion may be restored to its ancient splendour, and the known laws of this Kingdom maintained. As also, their desires to all His Majesties loyall subjects within his Dominions, for their concurrence and assistance in this so good and pious work 1647

My image is a map of Canterbury from William Somner’s The most accurate history of the ancient city, and famous cathedral of Canterbury 1641. Object ‘S’, just outside the gate into the cathedral close, is the stake for bear-baiting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

That animals can't look upwards: George Hakewill, 1608

George Hakewill’s THE VANITIE OF THE EYE, First beganne for the Comfort of a Gentlewoman bereaved of her sight, and since upon occasion enlarged & published for the Common good (1608; 1615) does what it says on the title page (at least for those able to read it), opening out the “disputable question whither we should more regard the benefit of nature in the one (i.e., seeing things we need to see ), or the hazard of grace and virtue in the other” (i.e., being able to see things we ought not to see).

Hakewill set out to write a brief consolatory exposition, but found that the “particular vices, which flow from the eye” offered him the chance of a far more widely edifying discourse than he had at first envisaged, and he went into print with the expanded version.

As you’d expect from a man appointed chaplain to Prince Charles “with special orders from the king never to leave the prince and to protect him from any influence of Roman Catholicism” (ODNB), of the vices which stem from the vanity of the eye “among the chiefest … is Idolatry, which as it had his original from the eye, so is it still nourished by the same”.

The first idolatrous act was original sin: “we find the first outward occasion of it to have been the fairness of the apple apprehended by the woman’s eye, & the punishment first inflicted on it to have been the opening of the eyes, whether of the mind or the body I dispute not.”

When I next have my Longman Annotated Andrew Marvell to hand, I will check if Nigel Smith (that busy annotator!) connected this book to Marvell’s ‘Eyes and Tears’, for Hakewill continues:

“Whence it may be in the Hebrew the same word signifieth as well an eye as a fountain; to show that from it as from a spring or fountain did flow both sin itself, the cause of sin, and misery the punishment of both; and because by the eye came the greatest hurt, therefore God hath placed in it the greatest tokens of sorrow. For from it comes tears, by which the expressing of sorrow is peculiar to man alone.”

(“How wisely Nature did decree,
With the same Eyes to weep and see!
That, having view'd the object vain,
They might be ready to complain.”)

The final idolatry is, predictably, that of the Catholic faith, to which Hakewill gives a chapter headed: “That the popish religion consists more in eye service then the reformed” - “Our adversaries indeed, place a great and main part of their superstitious worship in the eye-service; in the magnifike & pompous fabric, and furniture of their Churches and attiring their Priests…”

But fortunately, once Hakewill has got the moral issues sorted out (with this splendid bit of Solomon’s wisdom aptly cited “Thine eyes shall look upon strange women, & thine heart shall speak lewd things”), and adroitly passing by those awkward New Testament moments when Christ takes the trouble to cure the blind, he can digress into a rather entertaining fund of stories. We get the tale of the rat-catcher of ‘Hammel’, drawn in as an instance of the devil’s power to deceive the eye “(I confess I urge it not so much for the fitness, as the strangeness of the story)”. From his secular reading we get Mark Antony exploiting the power of sight by displaying the dead Caesar’s blood-stained garments to the Roman mob, followed shortly afterwards by the story of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester getting the beggar who had falsely proclaimed a miracle at the shrine of St Albans to betray himself by correctly nominating the colours of men’s gowns. It’s a fuller account than in Henry VI Part 2, but the proximity to Mark Anthony perhaps hints that our Oxford fellow knew his Shakespeare, and, in thinking of stories about the dangerous power of sight, and about blindness, recalled these two anecdotes. But it could be a coincidence, for, officially at least, Hakewill disapproves of theatre: “Hither also may be referred, the lewd masking, which the Papists use in their Carnivals, or rather Bacchanals, at Shrovetide; the women marching through the open streets, in man’s apparel, and the men in women’s; as also the Jesuits exhibiting of heaven and hell, God & the divell, the damned, and the elect, upon their stages”. This said, he seems to know rather a lot about it, for instance the “lascivious gross action, which is ever represented, in the French Comedies and dances, and sometimes in our common Mercenary interludes here at home, whereat the greatest part, would surely otherwise rather blush, then laugh; but that they hold that place in a manner privileged…” In a definite literary allusion, he refers to Sir Thomas More’s apologue about pride in the story of how the “Anemolian Ambassadors … thinking to dazzle the eyes of the poor Utopians, with the lustre, and glistering of their chains, & precious stones” (discovered that) “the children playing in the streets, took them for great boys, which had not yet laid aside their brooches, & baubles.”

Hakewill digresses most on the way the eye is deceived. It’s a strange mixture of stories. He mentions many diabolic deceits, as practiced by conjurers like Agrippa and Faustus, a recently reported story of a possessed girl at Frankfort who was apparently able to stretch out an empty hand and pluck real money out of thin air (a simple conjuring trick, one would think), “an old woman in the Dukes of Meckelburges country, who appearing in the shape of a great Mastiff dog the hounds espying her, ran with full mouth upon her, & the country hinds with prongs, and pike staves, fell about her, till at length she being sore wounded, the shape of the Mastiff vanished, and nothing was left to the flake (sic – a hurdle on which to drag a criminal to execution?), but a poor silly old woman, begging mercy & pardon”. But Hakewill also describes common optical illusions and the camera obscura, which he tells you how to make: “The practise is thus; take a study, or closet, where (by closing the wooden leaves) you may shut out all the light: then bore an hole, through the midst of one of the leaves to the bigness of a pease, and cover it with a piece of spectacle glass, and when the sun shines on the ground before the window, hold on the inside right before the hole (to the distance of two foot or thereabout) a sheet of white paper or a large piece of faire linen; and you shall perfectly discern by the shadows; the shapes, and motions of men, and dogs, and horses, & birds, with the just proportion of trees, and chimneys, and towers, which fall within the compass of the sun near the window”.

In its way, Hakewill’s prose has striking moments: here he reflects on the eye not being able to see itself. I normally modernize my quotations, to make them easier to read, but this one I will leave as it appears, as the spelling ‘eie’ appears so much more appropriate than ‘eye’ for the enamourment with self he here complains of:

“nature hauing so framed the eie, as it can neither behold it selfe, nor the face, in which it is set, yet haue men invented for the supplying of that vse looking-glasses, as the artificial eies of pride; the eie being as it were a liuing looking-glasse, & the looking-glas again a dead eie, by means wherof many Narcissus like become enamored of themselues”

The moral point he wants to make leads him into this story, most uncompassionately told to show the dangers of mirrors and the self-love they promote: “I remember I have heard, of a young Gentleman of this University, who being newly recovered from the small pox, & by chance seeing the change of his face in a looking-glass, for mere grief fell into a relapse, and within short time died.”

Hakewill consoles his first audience, the newly blind gentlewoman, and edifies his readership, with a series of accounts of those who have overcome their disability: princes, poets, soldiers, scholars “And lastly for the work of the ministry, my self have seen more then once in this University a blind man in our solemn meetings, making a godly & profitable sermon to the body of the University assembled” (odd that he didn’t switch here to having ‘heard’ this blind man preach). I did not know how the Venerable Bede was supposed to have got his name. Hakewill tells a story from an unspecified life of Bede, about Bede after he had gone blind: “it is a merry jest howbeit seriously related by him who hath written Bedaes life, that his guide persuading him one day as he passed by an heap of stones, that the people (according to their wonted manner) were there assembled to hear him preach; the good old man moved at his speech, was content to give them a sermon, but there being no body present to say, amen, at his conclusion, the very stones cried out amen venerable Priest, by which means being then baptized by the name of venerable, he hath retained it ever since…”

Hakewill argues tenuously that as night is “the mantle of defects & imperfections, and by consequent the mother of union and love; the repose and closing up of the day’s labours … if then the night bring not tediousness with it, why should a day which is like a night be thought to bring it?” But this leads him on to the way that people who are blind can nevertheless excel “in those very sports which seem necessarily to require (sight), as bowling, shooting, quoiting, shoufgrating, & the like”. I wonder what you were doing when you ‘shoufgrated’?

My image is Durer’s drawing of an apostle looking up to heaven, which I chose because Hakewill anticipates an objection to his general argument about sight being morally bad, that God gave man alone “an upright figure of body to the end he might behold the heavens”. It was apparently proved (“as the Anatomists have observed”) to everyone’s satisfaction that humankind has “one nerve (i.e., muscle) more than …Brute beasts, for the turning of the eye upward, to the end he might behold the heavens, and in them … the glory of their maker.” Animals, it was affirmed, can’t look upwards (this reminds me of Adam, Godlike erect in Paradise Lost). But Hakewill explains that such divinely augmented eye control could only have been used properly by unfallen man “I answer that man indeed considered in the state of integrity, might & would have made excellent use thereof; but in the state of corruption the greatest part, either thereby are induced to Idolatry (as hath been before showed)”.