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[1] Welcome to Issue 7 of the Journal of the Northern Renaissance. This open-themed issue brings together articles from three outstanding researchers – working across early modern literature, history and textual studies. We hope you enjoy it.

[2] Late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century literary treatments of the Trojan War are examined by Katherine Heavey in her article ‘“Properer Men”: Myth, Manhood and the Trojan War in Greene, Shakespeare and Heywood’. With a particular focus on classical exemplars and the promotion of an ideal masculinity, male identity is here figured as unstable but malleable, subject to homosocial debate and mutual endorsement. Omitting women from the discussion, early modern man’s expression of collective anxiety serves to confirm male identity rather than challenge it. Focussing on Robert Greene’s Euphues His Censure to Philautus, Thomas Heywood’s The Iron Age Part I and William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, Heavey investigates competing models of manhood – from the militaristic to the rhetorical – and offers an absorbing study of Troy as the locus for early modern debates on masculinity.

[3] Robert F. W. Smith examines traces of the ‘Lipsian paradigm’ in the works of John Trussell of Winchester, expanding upon Adriana McCrea’s 1997 study of Lipsian influence on early modern moral, political and literary culture and crucially acknowledging the Flemish philosopher’s reception beyond London’s elite circles. Lipsius – like the literary writers of Heavey’s article – used classical models to guide contemporary conduct. Lipsian neostoicism, so evident in Trussell’s 1595 publication of Robert Southwell’s posthumous Triumphs Over Death, transforms the work from an act of private consolation – from Southwell to Phillip Howard, the Earl of Arundel, on the occasion of his sister’s death – to a publicly accessible and practical guide to moderation in grief. It also usefully complicates any suggestion that Trussell, in championing the Jesuit martyr Southwell, was confessing Catholic sympathies – suggesting instead that Southwell and Trussell share a non-denominational stoicism pervasive in the period.

[4] Joel Swann also looks to move beyond the confines of early modern London in his study of Chetham’s Library manuscript MC15, an early seventeenth-century collection of poetry and prose which – despite its association with the Inns of Court – contains work by Norfolk farmer Henry Gurney. Swann investigates both the manuscript’s identification with the London legal environment and its little-discussed provincial association, casting early modern scribal culture and manuscript circulation as a national rather than metropolitan phenomenon. Hypothesising that MC15 may have been owned by Norfolk book collector Thomas Martin, Swann makes a persuasive case for the continuing study of well-known manuscripts alongside lesser-known texts.

[5] Looking beyond the current issue, these are exciting times for JNR. Over the last few months we have significantly expanded our editorial team. Following his appointment as Lecturer in English at the University of Bristol, Sebastiaan Verweij, one of the two founding editors of JNR, has moved to the Editorial Advisory Board. Catriona Murray, meanwhile, has taken a sabbatical from her role as Reviews Editor to focus on her new position as Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. We would like to extend a very warm thank you to both of them for all their dedication, hard work and expertise, and we wish them both all the very best in their new roles.

[6] To fill their places and to expand the editorial team further, we are delighted to welcome a number of new arrivals. Lynsey McCulloch, Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Coventry University, joins us as Associate Editor. Lynsey’s research focuses on the relationships that literature forms (and performs) with other media – art, design, music and dance. Her first book, Reinventing the Renaissance: Shakespeare and his Contemporaries in Adaptation and Performance (co-edited with Sarah Annes Brown and Robert I. Lublin), was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013, and she is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance (forthcoming from OUP) with Brandon Shaw.

[7] Marco Barducci, a former member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, has taken over from Catriona as Reviews Editor. Marco’s research focuses on the exchange and reception of political ideas between England, the Netherlands and France, and he is currently writing a manuscript on the reception of the works of Hugo Grotius in English political thought, to be published by OUP. Marco taught at the University of Florence from 2007 to 2012 and has held fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Luigi Firpo Foundation. His last monograph, Order and Conflict. Anthony Ascham and English Political Thought, 1648-50, was recently published by Manchester University Press.

[8] We are also very pleased to welcome not one but three new assistant editors to the team. Lucy Hinnie is currently a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh, working on the Scottish response to the querelle des femmes in verse miscellanies such as the sixteenth-century Maitland Quarto and Bannatyne Manuscript. Her recruitment reinforces JNR’s editorial commitment to the belief that there was a Renaissance in Scotland long before Hugh MacDiarmid came along. While Lucy will be focusing largely on JNR, our other two new assistant editors, Peter Bovenmyer and Zoë Sutherland, will be working on JNR’s younger sister, Polaris. Polaris was launched last year as a miscellany for all kinds of online material dedicated to the Northern Renaissance that cannot be contained neatly within the format of an academic essay. This includes discussion pieces, conference reports, interviews, blog posts, more experimental writing, and audio and visual content (if you haven’t yet had a look at Polaris, please do!). We have great plans for Polaris, and hope in particular to expand our audio-visual offerings over the coming months, and perhaps even to develop a regular podcast. If you would be interested in contributing to Polaris in some way, please contact us at polaris.jnr@gmail.com.

[9] The genuinely interdisciplinary awareness that both Zoë and Peter bring to their research makes them ideally situated to oversee Polaris’ expansion over the coming years. Peter is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is currently writing his dissertation on anatomical images from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. His work examines the interplay between dissection and visual culture and explores how this relationship reinvented the body and crafted new scientific ideologies. Peter’s work also focuses on the history of optics and mirrors, astrological technology, and medical talismans in the late medieval and early modern periods. With Peter joining the team, JNR and Polaris have taken an important step towards becoming more genuinely transatlantic. Zoë, meanwhile, is a doctoral student in the School of English at the University of St Andrews, where she works on poetic making, justice and shared political action in the dramatic works of the seventeenth century dramatist Ben Jonson, focusing on the interconnections between legal philosophy and imaginative literature, as well as certain theoretical implications of present-day International Public Law for questions of freedom and equality. Zoë and Peter will be working closely with Alexander Collins, who has stepped up from Assistant Editor to Associate Editor, and we are delighted to welcome them both onto the team.

[10] With new editors on board, we are now considering a move towards publishing two issues a year. In this respect, 2016 will be something of a trial run, as we will be presenting not one but two special issues. The first of these, ‘Scrutinising Surfaces in Early Modern Thought’, builds on the Second Northern Renaissance Roses Seminar, run jointly by the universities of Lancaster and York, and held at Lancaster University in May 2015. Guest-edited by Kevin Killeen (York) and Liz Oakley-Brown (Lancaster), this issue will take up and develop, in an early modern context, Joseph Amato’s trans-historical investigation of how ‘humans, ourselves a body of surfaces, meet and interact with a world dressed in surfaces’ (2013: xv).

[11] The second issue scheduled for 2016, which will be guest-edited by Dermot Cavanagh (Edinburgh) and Rob Maslen (Glasgow), is provisionally entitled ‘Early Modern Voices’. This issue has its roots in an event held at the University of Glasgow in October 2015 to honour the work and career of Alison Thorne. Recently forced into retirement by ill health, Alison’s work on Shakespeare’s romances and on women, politics and rhetoric in the Renaissance has made a series of vital contributions across diverse fields. Alison’s generosity of spirit is evident in her writing, but her remarkable willingness to support the work of others, not only as an editor but as an advisor, a teacher, and a friend, may be less widely known. If I [Patrick] may be excused a lapse into the personal, Alison was also my wonderfully encouraging supervisor when as a naïve doctoral student I first proposed setting up a journal dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the Renaissance in the north. Without Alison’s support and advice this journal would certainly not exist today. We are therefore very glad to be able to look forward to publishing this special issue in her honour.

[12] To conclude, a huge thank you to all those who have offered JNR their support over the last year, especially the many anonymous peer reviewers who have given so freely and generously of their time and expertise. As ever, JNR continues to welcome submissions across the full gamut of topics relating to the Renaissance in the north, as well as proposals for future special issues and Polaris posts.

Lynsey McCulloch and Patrick Hart

‘Properer Men’: Myth, Manhood and the Trojan War in Greene, Shakespeare and Heywood

‘Properer Men’: Myth, Manhood and the Trojan War in Greene, Shakespeare and Heywood

Katherine Heavey


Aristotle that Prince of Philosophers…having the tuition of young Alexander, caused the destruction of Troy to be acted before his pupill, in which the valor of Achilles was so naturally exprest, that it imprest the hart of Alexander, in so much that all his succeeding actions were meerly shaped after that patterne, and it may be imagined had Achilles never lived, Alexander had never conquered the whole world…Why should not the lives of these worthyes, presented in these our days, effect the like wonders in the Princes of our times, which can no way bee so exquisitly demonstrated, nor so lively portrayed as by action…to see a souldier shap’d like a souldier, walke, speake, act like a souldier: to see a Hector all besmered in blood, trampling upon the bulkes of Kinges. A Troylus returning from the field in the sight of his father Priam…Oh these were sights to make an Alexander. (Thomas Heywood, An Apology for Actors, 1612: B3r-B4r)

[2] In An Apology for Actors, the playwright and keen classicist Thomas Heywood argues that classical exempla have the power to influence a Jacobean audience, to encourage them to reform their own conduct in line with what they have seen. Specifically, he argues that the male members of a playwright’s audience can be encouraged towards ideal masculine behaviour by watching the exploits of Achilles, Hector and Troilus, participants in that most iconic of classical myths, the story of the Trojan War. Three Elizabethan and Jacobean treatments of the Trojan story, one by Heywood himself (The Iron Age Part I, c.1611-1613), and the others by Robert Greene (Euphues His Censure to Philautus, 1587) and William Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida, 1601-1602) reflect the connection that Heywood perceives between myth and the contemporary performance of manliness, though they all problematise his implication that the heroes of antiquity are always exemplary. These works use the Troy legend to foreground relationships between men, and simultaneously to reflect their mythical characters’ deep uncertainty about what it is to be an ‘ideal’ man. In this emphasis on and anxiety about male behaviour, Greene’s prose tale and Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s plays reflect a concern that was not just literary, but societal, for early modern culture simultaneously privileged and interrogated masculinity and manhood.[1] Alexandra Shepard has found in the conduct books of the period ‘a dirge of concern about men’s failure to live up to patriarchal ideals’, and suggests that ‘While maleness as cultural category was automatically celebrated in terms of superiority, men as a group of people were far less confidently endorsed’ (Shepard 2003: 10). Other critics have also demonstrated early modern masculinity to be somehow unstable, or a source of anxiety (see for example Breitenberg 1996, and Foyster 1999), and Gary Spear sees this uncertainty about masculine identity as being particularly prominent in Troilus and Cressida (Spear 1993: 412).

[3] J. S. P. Tatlock noted long ago that ‘No traditional story was so popular in the Elizabethan Age as that of the siege of Troy’ (Tatlock 1915: 673), and the Trojan War setting of Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s plays, and of Greene’s prose tale, provided a particularly fertile ground for a reconsideration of masculine identity, because of the ubiquitous nature of the myth, its preponderance of strong male characters, and its association with British national identity. In the Apology for Actors, Heywood had argued that seeing the heroic exploits of mythical figures, such as ‘Hector all besmered in blood’, had a transformative power: ‘these were sights’, he declares, ‘to make an Alexander’ (Heywood 1612: B3v-B4r). As Heywood’s declaration suggests, the Trojan story allowed authors to look back, to known and familiar stories, but also to be creative and transformative, to mould and shape their audiences. In her work on the Troy story in the medieval imagination, Sylvia Federico draws attention to this dual appeal:

The symbolic appropriation of Troy is at once a means of creating a past, present and future in accord with specific ideals and also a means of mobilizing that imagined historicity in gestures of self-invention and self-definition (Federico 2003: xii)

Turning back to the legend provided writers and readers with ‘specific ideals’ for men that were at once comfortingly familiar, and available for reappropriation and rewriting in line with contemporary concerns about manliness. Indeed, Heather James has suggested that the malleability of the subject was of particular interest to Shakespeare. She argues that the myth of Troy was only ‘ostensibly monolithic’, and that Troilus and Cressida should be viewed ‘within the context of the interrogative tradition’ of the story (James 1997: 22, 13). In Euphues His Censure to Philautus and The Iron Age too, a well-known myth (and one that was central to the Elizabethan and Jacobean cultural imagination) could be interrogated, adapted and made responsive to contemporary male concerns and anxieties.

[4] Euphues His Censure to Philautus (1587) is styled on its title page as a ‘philosophicall combat’ between Hector and Achilles, dedicated to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and addressed to Greene’s gentlemen readers. In the text, legendary Greek and Trojan warriors put off fighting in order to tell a series of euphuistic tales, which seek to uncover the true essence of manliness (and, particularly, of soldiery). Though he does not recount the most well-known episodes of the story (such as the judgement of Paris or the rape of Helen), through storytelling Greene’s men seek to make sense of the conflict they are embroiled in, and their own different masculine virtues. Moreover, Greene, who claims in his preface to the reader that he has written his prose treatise because ‘the tyme required such a discourse’ (Greene 1587: A4r), implicitly challenges this reader to consider the question of his title page, which asks what are ‘the vertues necessary to be incident in every gentleman’ (Greene 1587). Greene’s Euphues ‘has long been considered a possible minor source for Troilus and Cressida’ (Gillespie 2001: 213).[2] It is not just the common Greco-Trojan setting that suggests Shakespeare’s (and Heywood’s) use of Greene, though, but also the earlier work’s concern with what it is to be a man, and with how men create their own visions of manliness, before holding these up for scrutiny and approval by other men. Bruce R. Smith points out that in the early modern period, ‘masculine identity of whatever kind is something men give to each other’, but that this ‘definition of masculinity in terms of others is an inherently unstable business’ (Smith 2000: 60, 128). Greene’s tale, and Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s subsequent plays, all interrogate the coherence and value of masculine identity. All are particularly concerned with masculine identity that is endorsed by other men, and mediated through existing mythological archetypes, which were gleaned from Homer and Ovid, and from medieval sources including Caxton and Lydgate. At the same time, all three works emphasise the instability that Smith notes, demonstrating that there are multiple ways to prove oneself a man, and that male identity is always subject to question and challenge, both in Troy and in early modern England.

[5] Greene’s Euphues clearly owes a debt to medieval English Troy-narratives by authors like Caxton, Lydgate and Chaucer, and also to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and to Arthur Hall’s translation from French of the first ten books of the Iliad, printed in 1581. For example, Caxton’s Recuyell of the Hystories of Troye, translated from the French of Raoul Lefèvre, hints at the exchange of news or stories between Hector and Achilles during a truce, and this idea of rhetorical exchange would be key to Greene’s work:

THe triews duryng hector wente hym on a day vnto the tentes of the Grekes / And Achylles behelde hym gladly for as moche as he had neuer seen hym vnarme / And at the requeste of Achylles. Hector wente in to hys tente / And as they spack togeder of many thynge. (Caxton 1473/1474: Book III, no sig.)[3]

Caxton alludes to an encounter that provides a setting for Greene’s tale: the social rather than the martial nature of the meeting is stressed, and Achilles welcomes this new and different way of interacting with his rival, exchanging words rather than blows. Also important, though, is the reputation of famous men, the iconic status that means Caxton’s Achilles beholds Hector ‘gladly’, and treats him as an equal. Ideal masculinity is extravagantly foregrounded in Greene’s work, but he often creates doubt about the hierarchy of men, where Caxton had emphasised the equal status of Achilles and Hector. In Greene’s work, Achilles and his followers are figuratively wounded by Hector’s very manliness, ‘feeling in their mindes the scarres of his man-hoode’ (Greene 1587: Bv). Here, Greene is echoing the classical and medieval emphasis on Hector’s exemplary masculinity: for example, in the 1555 printing of John Lydgate’s fifteenth-century Troy Book (originally completed in 1420), Hector is described as the ‘Floure of manhod’ (Lydgate 1555 [1420]: Kiiv). However, Euphues adds a note of uncertainty, making the reader privy to the Greek sense of inadequacy about their collective male identity, in comparison to Hector.

[6] In its implicit concern with competition between men (which would become explicit as the tale continued), Euphues is also indebted to very current Elizabethan literary fashion: particularly, to the euphuistic style and subject matter pioneered by John Lyly, in his works Euphues The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and his England (1580). The first of these prose fictions dealt with Euphues’ competition with his friend Philautus for the hand of Lucilla. Greene explicitly suggests a relationship between his work and Lyly’s, through his title and through the prefatory lines that tell his readers he is able to recount this tale because ‘by chance some of Euphues loose papers came to my hand’ (Greene 1587: A4r). However, the similarity runs deeper than this. In both his framing narrative, which deals with the hospitality the Greeks and Trojans offer one another during a truce, and in the tales the rivals tell each other, Greene’s tale recalls the linguistic style, and the pattern of debate and counter-debate, which was central to Lyly’s pioneering work. Moreover, Helen Hackett notes of Lyly’s Euphues and Philautus that ‘Their homosocial bond is the primary relationship which runs through both volumes’ (Hackett 2000: 80). Relations between men are similarly privileged in Greene’s work, despite the Trojan War’s origins in Paris’ theft of Helen. Greene takes a fashionable style of writing and a popular Elizabethan hero, and grafts these onto the iconic story of the Trojan War. In having Euphues ‘censure’ Philautus through the use of the Troy story, he suggests masculine identity to be an issue that was at once rooted in antiquity, and a very current concern, both to Euphues and to those Elizabethan readers who eagerly awaited his next adventures.[4]

[7] Despite Greene’s use of medieval and Elizabethan examples of male interaction and competition, it is women who give rise to the occasion for Greene’s tale, as Hector explains: the Trojan ladies desired to see the Greek camp. Moreover, Greene’s women wield a surprising rhetorical power. For example, Polyxena is easily able to meet Achilles’ flattery with cutting retorts, and he is stunned, ‘perceiving that the Ladyes of Troie had a deepe in-sight into the Gretian actions’ (Greene 1587: B3v). Greene’s Cressida, too, speaks her mind at least as clearly as she does in Shakespeare’s later play, suggesting that the Trojans shame themselves in their misguided attempts to keep Helen. That such pointed and critical interventions are put into the mouths of female characters suggests that ‘the real story […] is carried by the women’ (Wilson 2006: 95). In fact, Euphues’ focus on rhetorical sparring, rather than combat, may be Greene’s gesture towards his female readers, for Lorna Hutson has argued that scenes of debate and discussion in early modern fiction indicate an increased focus on a female readership (Hutson 1994: 96-97). However, it is also true that, once they have been introduced, Greene’s female characters are here ‘tolerated only on the margins of the discussion’ (Wilson 2006: 95). Helen Hackett suggests of Lyly’s Euphues and Philautus that ‘all their encounters with women may be seen as significant only in so far as they have bearing upon [their] bond’ (Hackett 2000: 80), and the same may be said of Greene’s male warriors, most of whom have scant patience for these interrupting women. When Greene’s Nestor urges his fellow men to seek to define ideal soldiery while ‘omitting women’s prattle, and leaving the Ladyes to their private chatte’ (Greene 1587: E4r), and Priam complains that ‘these women are but stumbling blocks for our eyes, and our thoughts: let them chat with them selves, and leave us to our discourse’ (Greene 1587: K4v), his mythological heroes express a fear that women may prevent them from realising their goal, to decide on the most admirable model of manhood. In this, they also reflect the anxieties of early modern men, for Elizabeth Foyster has noted early seventeenth-century male suspicion of women speaking among themselves. Particularly relevant is the fact that ‘Women’s talk was popularly regarded as a destructive force to manhood’, not least because of the risk that women might use their speech to denigrate men (Foyster 1999: 58-65, 64). Nestor and Priam defuse this potential threat by belittling the women’s speech, to the presumable relief of the Greek and Trojan heroes, and Greene’s male addressees.

[8] Such a male-oriented focus persists into Shakespeare’s play: Gary Spear has noted the ‘public stigmatization of the feminine’ in Troilus and Cressida (Spear 1993: 420) as manifesting itself in a suspicion of both women and ‘effeminate’ men, while Bevington argues that in the play ‘Women are relegated to the margins of the male world’ (Shakespeare 1998 [1601-1602]: 32). Euphues incorporates a host of witty and informed female characters, who are set against largely unsuccessful male storytellers (none of Greene’s speakers is able to win the others round to his point of view), but it also demonstrates what Constance C. Relihan terms ‘the attempts of popular Elizabethan male writers to subdue and control the ever-present female Other’ (Relihan 1994: 80), a clear sense that giving too much space to compelling female characters might impede the men’s efforts to define themselves (and crucially, to decide on a ‘best’ man). Helen Hackett argues that in Lyly’s Euphues the Anatomy of Wit, which ended with the dismissal of his witty heroine Lucilla and the reunion of the two friends who had quarrelled over her, ‘The deletion of Lucilla enables the even firmer establishment of homosocial allegiance’ (Hackett 2000: 80). Likewise, in Greene’s work, the introduction and then the pointed rejection of the female voices indicates Greene’s intention to write with a specifically masculine agenda. In Euphues, Greene writes for gentlemen, giving them a tale written by a man, to a man, that is primarily about men and manliness, despite the early intrusion of famous female voices.

[9] Most of Greene’s narrative is taken up by the embedded and invented stories, so characteristic of euphuistic prose, by which the male warriors seek to pinpoint the most important virtue of a soldier. However, as the first story, told by Ulysses, demonstrates, these embedded narratives can reflect – often uncomfortably closely – the situations of the Greeks and Trojans who tell them, just as the very act of debating mythical manliness reflects an anxiety that was ingrained in at least some of Greene’s male readers. For example, Ulysses’ tragedy centres on the faithless Moedina, who leaves her husband Polumestor for Vortymis, before repenting in the face of Polumestor’s forgiveness, poisoning Vortymis, and killing herself. After the tale has concluded, Hector ‘perceived that this Tragicall hystorie was induced in hope of a restitution of Helena’ (Greene 1587: E3r-E3v). He notes of Vortymis that ‘it ill fitted a subject to be so treacherous’ (Greene 1587: E3v), and Diomedes pointedly rejoins that the same could be said of Paris (who is, like Helen, absent from Greene’s tale). Tension escalates as fiction is likened to the facts of the warriors’ own situation, and Agamemnon steps in to ask that ‘neyther the plaintiffe Menelaus, nor the Defendant Paris should bee once named, sith the rehersall of their actions were but an alarum to further quarrell’ (Greene 1587: E3v). However, the Greek and Trojan storytellers continue to allude to their own situation, both individual and collective, and particularly to their own distinctly personal interpretations of masculine virtue during wartime. So the Trojan priest Helenus, who is criticised repeatedly in medieval Troy-narratives, and later in Heywood’s Iron Age, for his argument that Priam’s sister Hesione should not be recovered from the Greeks, and in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida for his opinion that Helen should be returned, here argues for the importance of wisdom over all other virtues. In his tale, Cimbriana’s wisdom means that she is able to avoid the advances of Rascianus, and repel an invasion of her city, so that her people ‘longe after maintained their cyvill estate with a peaceable and quiet democracy’ (Greene 1587: H2r). Although Steve Mentz notes that ‘wisdom’, as Helenus describes it, is ‘a relatively feminized virtue’ (Mentz 2006: 148), and he uses a female character to exemplify it, it is easy to draw parallels with his own consistently pacific and conservative arguments in Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s plays.

[10] In his espousal of a non-military model of masculinity, Greene’s Helenus also reflects the situation of some of Greene’s Renaissance readers. Both Alexandra Shepard and Jennifer Jordan have shown that in early modern England there were a range of qualities that were considered ideally masculine, and a variety of ways to be a man (Shepard 2003: 6, 252, Jordan 2011: 245 and 257). Helenus’ tale recommends his own most obvious asset, and shows him drawing on the availability of what Shepard calls ‘conflicting codes’ of manhood, to attempt to win the impromptu debate, and prove his own worth (Shepard 2003: 253). However, although Euphues has used him to suggest an alternative, thoughtful kind of manliness, Helenus and his circumspect counsel are fated to be ignored. More than this, his defence of wisdom rather than action means that, although he has presented a different way to be an ideal soldier, he falls short of the militarised ideal of manhood that is most admirable in a martial setting (and that had been foregrounded by Greene, in his dedication to Essex). Helenus’ perceived inadequacy had been demonstrated in earlier Troy-narratives, where his reluctance to fight, and his reliance on debate and reason, were held up by Troilus in particular as evidence of unmanliness. For example, in the Recuyell of the Hystories of Troye, Caxton’s Troilus demands of his fellow Trojans ‘O noble men and hardy / how be ye abasshid for the wordes of this Coward preste here’ (Caxton 1473/1474: Book III, no sig.). Lydgate’s Troilus urges Priam to ignore Helenus’ advice, and in both works, Troilus goes on to accuse priests of lacking the manliness of soldiers. Troilus’ cruelty to his brother indicates that in these medieval works, as in Greene’s text, male competition is key to the establishment of masculine identity, and in criticising his brother, Troilus attempts to define himself and endorse his own manliness, to reassure both himself and the other men that he is very different, and superior.

[11] Both Troilus and Hector react sceptically to Helenus’ tale, and if their lack of enthusiasm suggests the insufficiency of wisdom as the paramount soldierly virtue, the reader might expect Hector or Achilles, the greatest warriors of Troy and Greece, to be more successful. Hector’s tale of the three brothers, Frontinus (representative of fortitude), Martignanus (representative of wisdom) and Ortellius (representative of liberality), has fortitude literally overcoming the other virtues, as Frontinus slaughters his two younger brothers. Here, Mentz suggests, ‘Hector’s tale operates as a linguistic substitute for the martial activity that Greene’s text excludes’ (Mentz 2006: 148). However, though Hector’s tale praises that for which he himself is famed, his own fate will eventually prove that strength in arms is no sure predictor of success in war, where men are not neatly arranged in descending order of fortitude, and where for every Hector there is an equally mighty Achilles. The reader’s prior knowledge of Hector, and of how his story will end, thus destabilises his argument even as he makes it. Moreover, the essential insufficiency of the manly virtue he espouses is further suggested by his inability to defend his tale convincingly against the criticism of his rival storyteller Helenus: Greene describes how Hector ‘stammered’ (Greene 1587: K3v) as he continues to insist on the importance of fortitude.[5] Finally, Achilles’ tale of a war between Athens and Thebes, over ‘the deflowring of a maide of Athens’ (Greene 1587: L4r), refers clearly to the current war between Greece and Troy, occasioned by Paris’ rape of Helen, but also to his own personal conflict with Agamemnon, who has stolen his concubine Briseis. In Arthur Hall’s translation of the Iliad, Achilles demands of his king ‘what Gréeke shall readye make / Himselfe to fight at thy commaund, thy party for to take?’ (Hall 1581: Biiir).[6] Greene’s Achilles is more subtle in his criticism of the king, using storytelling to champion liberality (that is, the generosity of a commander to his men) as the most admirable manly virtue. Once again, though, Achilles’ tale shows that men attempt to prove their worth (and the value of their chosen attribute) by criticising and clashing with their fellows. Moreover, the pointed relevance of the fiction is intended to reflect genuine tensions in the Greek camp, just as Greene’s tale is intended to reflect his real readers’ anxieties about masculine ideals.

[12] Greene’s narrative ends with Priam commending Achilles’ final tale, but concluding, diplomatically but anticlimactically, that it is impossible to decide which virtue, fortitude, wisdom or liberality, is the most important. Mentz suggests that for Greene, Homeric epic is an ‘insufficient model’, and that he seeks to show through his storytelling how ‘even Hector and Achilles valued rhetorical warfare’ (Mentz 2006: 142, 145). Nevertheless, despite this suggestion that it is the debate, not the outcome, that is of interest, Greene’s reader cannot help but reflect that the Greeks and Trojans have alluded obliquely to their own situations, and repeatedly espoused their own versions of ideal manliness, without coming any nearer to a solution to the problem of the Trojan War, or answering the question Greene has set his readers. In fact, Greene’s focus not on battle, but on fruitless storytelling, not only declines to move his narrative any nearer a solution, but may also constitute a reflection on his own masculine identity, and, specifically, his own status as a male author. Drawing on the influential work of Richard Helgerson, Helen Hackett points to the ways in which prose fictions by writers like Lyly and Greene often foreground inaction, of the kind seen in Greene’s work, and how this inaction potentially constitutes a serious reflection on the author’s place in the world, and his failure to find paid employment or patronage: ‘Their writings […] combine displays of wit and rhetorical prowess with defiant assertions of the pleasures of purposelessness, and with degrees of self-disgust at being reduced to redundancy’ (Hackett 2000: 77).[7] Greene’s characters speak when the Greek and Trojan heroes would more commonly act, but even the power of their storytelling is undermined by their failure to reach any consensus. Greene’s reworking of the familiar story of the Trojan War allows him to privilege his own interest in creating fictions, in euphuistic debate and what Hackett terms ‘rhetorical prowess’, while simultaneously betraying an anxiety that words are not the same as action. Polyxena might claim that for her father Priam, ‘a Schollers Lawrell wreath’ is as worthy as ‘a Souldiours steeled Helmet’ (Greene 1587: B3r), but his characters’ ability to debate endlessly, but without resolution, might also reflect Greene’s own worries about his failure to achieve material success and security through his writing.

[13] Greene’s engagement with his classical sources has been seen as deliberately lacking in substance: James Applegate points to the ‘basic lack of seriousness in Greene’s use of classical materials’, and associates this playfulness with ‘the essentially frivolous nature of the interest in classical antiquity in the strata of the Elizabethan reading public which made Greene popular’ (Applegate 1966: 367-368). However, in Euphues Greene does something more than indulge in pseudo-classicism to pander to the intellectual vanity of his readership. Firstly, like Chaucer, Lydgate and Caxton before him, Greene participates in the English tradition of reshaping the story of Troy to his own literary ends, making his characters do and say original things. Secondly, and linked to this, in his deliberate and self-conscious display of the failure of male storytelling, Greene reflects on the difficult lot of the aspiring Elizabethan author, who is attracted to fashionable but never-ending scenes of debate that begin to seem purposeless in their repetition. Finally, using the Trojan War as a backdrop allows Greene to simultaneously use and distance himself from Lyly’s immensely influential work, to turn his attention to a wider stage, and to use competition between antiquity’s greatest heroes, over the world’s most beautiful woman, to interrogate the nature of Elizabethan masculinity, male friendship, and competition. This same double focus, on the story of Troy, and on the nature of maleness, can be discerned in the works of Shakespeare and Heywood, who retell the story of the war not through fortuitously discovered ‘loose papers’ (Greene 1587: A4r), but on the early modern stage.

[14] Troilus and Cressida was entered in the Stationer’s Register in 1603, though not printed until 1609. Heywood’s play was not printed until 1632, when it appeared alongside The Iron Age 2, and joined the rest of his mythological cycle, The Golden Age, The Silver Age, and The Brazen Age. Though Shakespeare’s was printed far earlier, the chronological relationship of the two plays has been hard to determine, though Heywood’s is now often thought to be the later. A century ago, John S. P. Tatlock suggested that a play identified only as ‘troye’ in the 1596 diary of Phillip Henslowe might be Heywood’s play, or at least his source, meaning that the Iron Age would antedate Shakespeare’s work. Moreover, he suggested Shakespeare as the more likely borrower from Heywood, ‘[Shakespeare’s] [play] being the less primitive’ (Tatlock 1915: 718, 754n.). Subsequent critics have argued that the Iron Age is the later, postdating Heywood’s mythological epic of 1609, Troia Britanica.[8] Robert K. Presson (Presson 1953: 19) suggests that there is room for both possibilities: that the ‘troye’ entered in Henslowe’s diary in 1596 may be an early version of Heywood’s Iron Age, but that he might have revised the play after composing Troia Britanica.[9] The difficulty in dating the plays is reflected in a surprising reluctance to see similarities between them: for example, N. H. Hillebrand and T. W. Baldwin argue that ‘resemblances are few and with one exception not in any way remarkable’ (Shakespeare 1953 [1601-1602]: 462). This ‘exception’ is both plays’ amplification of the scurrilous Thersites, described in Arthur Hall’s Elizabethan translation of the Iliad as ‘a surly knaue, and eke a dogged swine’ (Hall 1581: Er). Even here, though, the editors are reluctant to find too much common ground, arguing that Heywood’s character ‘is made as unlike Sh[akespeare]’s Thersites as two snarling cynics can be’ (Shakespeare 1953 [1601-1602]: 462).[10] However, while in some ways it is true they are very different works, with Heywood’s drama giving far more space to the Paris/Helen/Menelaus affair, and paying much less attention to Troilus and Cressida, the similarities are equally obvious, particularly with regard to the interrogation of masculine identity by and through other men.

[15] Just as Greene sidelines the usual story of Troy to have his characters tell their own tales, as they negotiate with their literary predecessors both Troilus and Cressida and The Iron Age 1 adopt what Douglas Cole has usefully termed the ‘anti-mythic’ stance:

An anti-mythic method depends on our familiarity with a received legend and its important associations, which then are subverted by the texture of the adaptation or new presentation. It is not merely a question of the manipulation of sources which may or may not be known to the audience; it is rather a direct challenge to the assumptions and associations underlying the familiar myth. (Cole 1980: 78)

Such ‘assumptions’ about the Trojan myth include the fame and idealisation of its male characters. In fact, though, as Linda Charnes has argued, Shakespeare’s characters suffer in comparison to their mythical predecessors: Troilus and Cressida presents ‘subjectivity crippled by cultural inscription’ (Charnes 1989: 415). In both plays, identities are simultaneously fixed and uncertain, and apparently famous men are peculiarly insecure and interchangeable. Shakespeare’s Pandarus enthusiastically recommends Troilus as ‘the prince of chivalry!’ (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 1.2.194), but only after he has confused him with his brother Deiphobus. When Diomedes arrives in Troy to collect Cressida, in 4.1, he responds to Paris’ question, about who most deserves Helen, himself or her husband Menelaus, with the dismissive ‘Both alike’ (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 4.1.55) and suggests that the lines that divide husband and lover, Greek and Trojan, have been irrevocably blurred: ‘Both merits poised, each weighs nor less nor more, / But he as he, the heavier for a whore’ (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 4.1.66-67). In Act Three of The Iron Age, the stage directions indicate a deliberate similarity between the Greeks and Trojans in their use of stage space: ‘Enter all the Greekes on one side, and all the Troians on the other: Every Troian Prince intertaines a Greeke, and so march two and two, discoursing’ (Heywood 1632: F2v). Later, too, and even when they are fighting rather than ‘discoursing’, attitudes to Helen bring out unflattering similarities between the two sides: Heywood’s Thersites tells Troilus ‘The Troians are all mad, so are the Greeks, / To kill so many thousands for one drabbe’ (Heywood 1632: Iv). There was a tendency in early modern England to elevate the Trojans over the Greeks, because of the belief that Britain had been founded by Aeneas’ descendant Brutus: indeed, some critics have argued that Shakespeare privileges his Trojans in this way.[11] However, these examples show that, just as Greene’s characters are driven by shared storytelling to realise their likenesses as well as their differences, the legendary warriors of Greece and Troy are uncomfortably united, in both Heywood’s and Shakespeare’s plays, by their often unflattering similarities.

[16] This blurring of individual male identity is so significant, and so concerning, because key to early modern manliness was the idea that a man was endorsed as such, and had his masculine identity secured, by the recognition and approval of his peers: a recognition that might involve an element of competition or comparison, as it did in Greene’s abortive storytelling contest. In a recently published revision of her arguments about early modern male identity that were set out in her seminal Man’s Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (1981), Coppélia Kahn explains ‘I have since realized that men are co-creators of masculine identity along with women: homosocial relations, whether in the form of friendship and camaraderie, competition, or shunned and dreaded sodomy, are at least as important as heterosexual ones’ (Kahn 2013: 232). Men rely on other men to create their masculine identities, to endorse or identify their own manliness, and to recognise them as individual and admirable men.[12] Shakespeare’s Ulysses knows the extent to which men rely on their fellows to confirm their eminence, and he ruthlessly manipulates this reliance to exploit Achilles. He proposes a faked lottery that will give Ajax the honour of fighting Hector, before explaining the effect this will have on Achilles:

…by device let blockish Ajax draw
The sort to fight with Hector; among ourselves
Give him allowance for the better man,
For that will physic the great Myrmidon,
Who broils in loud applause…
If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
We’ll dress him up in voices: if he fail,
Yet go we under our opinion still
That we have better men. (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 1.3.374-383)

Ulysses knows that the faked result will anger Achilles because it will result in the public adulation of the ‘dull brainless Ajax’, his identification as ‘the better man’, an endorsement that is in turn a slight on Achilles. Moreover, the plan will also conveniently protect the collective masculine identity of the Greeks, since Ajax will either defeat Hector, or, if he fails, the Greeks will be secure in the knowledge that they actually have ‘better men’ in their ranks. Robert Kimbrough points out that for both Greeks and Trojans in Shakespeare’s play, a man’s worth ‘both resides in the man and is attributed to him by others’ (Kimbrough 1964: 145, and see Smith 2000: 60). Ellen R. Belton makes a similar point about Heywood’s play, in which acting as the ideal soldier, and being known as a man who acts in such a way, are equally important. In the play, she suggests, ‘there are two kinds of honor, one the performing of glorious deeds like Hector’s, the other the achievement of a glorious reputation’ (Belton 1977: 178). It is this reliance on the public, male endorsement of one’s individual masculine worth that makes the confusion of identities, or the refusal to positively distinguish one man from another, and to reward the ‘better’ man as he deserves, so troubling for the men in these plays, and for the male spectators in the audience.

[17] Like Shakespeare’s Ulysses, Heywood’s Paris is keenly aware of the importance of a masculine hierarchy, the way in which men define themselves as better, or worse, than the other men they encounter. This awareness is manifested in his determination to lionise himself through comparison to Menelaus, the husband he has cuckolded. In fact, such is Paris’ interest in measuring himself against Menelaus that Helen, the object of his supposed passion, recedes into the background, just as she does in Troilus and Cressida (where she appears only once) and in Euphues (where she is entirely absent). In his Recuyell, Caxton described a first meeting in which Paris is keenly attuned to Helen’s feelings:

And anone parys satte doun beside her / whilis that the peple playde in the temple And spack to her wyth a softe wys ryght swetely and she to hym / And exposid eche to other how they were surprysid of the loue of that one and of that other / And how they myght come to the ende after her desire. (Caxton 1473/1474: Book III, no sig.)

On their first meeting in Heywood’s play, Paris is thinking not of Helen, or of his own love for her, but of her husband, and he urges her ‘You needes must say I am the properer man’ (Heywood 1632: C4r). This is an echo of the Nurse’s words in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, when she tells Romeo how she teases Juliet: ‘I anger her sometimes, and tell her that Paris is the properer man’ (Shakespeare 1984 [1597]: 2.4.170-171).[13] This attempt at masculine self-fashioning on Paris’ part reappears in Act Three, when Paris remains bullishly confident that Helen will choose him over Menelaus, declaring ‘All that I have for comfort is but this, / That in the day I show the properer man, / Ith’ night I please her better than hee can’ (Heywood 1632: F4v-Gr). The boasting here ostensibly relates to Helen, but is very clearly targeted at the watching men. As in Greene’s and Shakespeare’s works, women (even such a superlative woman as Helen) are of comparatively little importance. Rather, a man’s identity, his ‘ideal masculinity’, must be witnessed and endorsed by other men, and Paris’ insistence that he is ‘the properer man’, that he has won a competition against Menelaus, recalls Shakespeare’s Ulysses’ hope that the Greeks can manipulate Achilles not by directly criticising him, but by lauding Ajax. In the Apology for Actors, published in 1612 and quoted at the beginning of this article, Heywood insisted that reading about mythical heroes is not sufficient: they must be seen on the stage, and it is this act of perceiving that has the power to alter the behaviour of the watching men, ‘to make an Alexander’ (Heywood 1612: B4r). The stress on seeing these ideals of manhood, rather than reading about them, differentiates Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s plays from Greene’s prose treatment of similar material. Moreover, at moments such as this, when Paris preens for the watching Greeks and Trojans, Heywood shows how the performance of manhood, the public aspect of victory over another man, is of paramount importance. Caxton’s Helen and Paris have stolen a moment of privacy, but Heywood’s lovers are on display even when they are alone, and his Paris and Menelaus are weighed against one another, by the audience in the playhouse, and by the observing Greeks and Trojans.

[18] This focus on public approbation, and the concurrent sidelining of women in favour of the male concern with how men appear to one another, persists through both plays, as it did through Greene’s Euphues. In Act Two of Troilus and Cressida, both the Shakespearean Hector’s insistence that they return Helen to the Greeks, and his famous change of heart, are dictated by how the Trojans should appear to the watching patriarchy of Greece and Troy:

If Helen then be wife to Sparta’s king,
As it is known she is, these moral laws
Of nature and of nations speak aloud
To have her back returned. Thus to persist
In doing wrong extenuates not wrong,
But makes it much more heavy. Hector’s opinion
Is this in way of truth; yet ne’ertheless,
My sprightly brethren, I propend to you
In resolution to keep Helen still,
For ‘tis a cause that hath no mean dependence
Upon our joint and several dignities. (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 2.2.183-193)

Bruce Smith argues that Hector’s reversal of opinion is a moment when he ‘retreats to his group identity’ (Smith 2000: 144). Here, it is a collective male identity that is emphasised, just as it was when Ulysses argued that the (male) group identity of the Greek warriors would be safe, even if Ajax were to be defeated by Hector, because they would know that he was never really the best of them. In the same scene, Troilus and Paris have insisted on Helen’s power to make men appear magnificent through their willingness to fight for her: Helen is, as Troilus puts it, ‘a theme of honour and renown / A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds’ (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 2.2.199-200). Of course, it is the deeds and ‘renown’ that are important, far more so than any personal attachment to Helen. The debate scene itself is inspired by Caxton, and earlier, in an echo of medieval Troy-narratives by both Caxton and Lydgate, Troilus had accused his brother Helenus of cowardice. He launches a scathing attack on the ‘reason’ which dictates that Helen is returned, but which takes no account of the slight to male reputation and honour that Troilus sees in such a surrender:

[…] Nay, if we talk of reason
Let’s shut our gates and sleep: manhood and honour
Should have hare hearts would they but fat their thoughts
With this crammed reason. (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602] 2.2.46-49)

Helenus is attacked for countenancing the return of Helen, while in Lydgate and Caxton, Troilus ridicules him for his reluctance to recover Hesione: the women are interchangeable, but the slight on manliness remains, and it is masculine honour and reputation that are really important.

[19] Heywood has no such scene of debate between the various Trojan brothers at this point, but he does have Paris describe his judgement of the goddesses, and suggest that he go to retrieve the woman he has been promised by Venus, in order to avenge the Greeks’ capture of Hesione. Again, Hector’s is the dissenting voice, and again he is concerned not with the women under discussion, but with the effect that male actions may have on the public perception of the Trojans. Heywood’s Hector argues that fighting to avenge Hesione will actually compromise Trojan reputation, not enhance it: he begs Priam, ‘oh for your honour / Take not up uniust Armes’ (Heywood 1632: B2r). In Lydgate’s Troy Book, Hector argues that Hesione is not worth the human cost they may pay for her, stating bluntly ‘I rede not that we bye her halfe so deare’ (Lydgate 1555 [1420]: Hiv), a pronouncement that, in its mercenary overtones, foreshadows Shakespeare’s Hector’s more anguished insistence, that Helen is ‘not worth what she doth cost’ (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 2.2.51). In Lydgate’s poem, Paris does not directly address Hector’s speech. Caxton’s Recuyell does hint at discord, noting ‘Parys was no thynge well contente therwyth’ (Caxton 1473/1474: Book III, no sig.). Heywood’s play goes much further, and Paris goads his brother, as Shakespeare’s Troilus goaded Helenus, by forecasting the effect on Hector’s renown if he does not agree to their plan:

‘Twill be registred
That all King Priams sonnes save one were willing
And forward to revenge them on the Greekes,
Onely that Hector durst not. (Heywood 1632: B2r)[14]

Finally, despite the strength of his feelings, and in another parallel between Heywood’s play and Shakespeare’s, it is concern with reputation that drives Heywood’s Hector to capitulate, to return to what Smith terms the masculine ‘group identity’ (Smith 2000: 144) and agree with his more bellicose brothers that revenge should be sought. Shepard argues that in the period, ‘Men primarily sought validation of their manhood from each other’ (Shepard 2003: 11), and here, for both Heywood’s and Shakespeare’s Hectors, it is what other men think of them, and how Trojan reputation, individual and collective, is perceived in Greece and in the wider world, that forces them to change their opinions. This mutually conferred, collective reputation as ‘ideal’ men is, in the end, far more pressing than any personal attachment to a ravished aunt or a Greek mistress.

[20] If women are so clearly sidelined in all three works in favour of men’s relations with one another, it is unsurprising that these men could relate to one another in ways that are not just competitive and aggressive, but also erotic. Themes of homoeroticism have long been identified in Shakespeare’s play: for example, Carol Cook points to Hector’s desire, when he proposes to duel with any Greek who will accept his challenge, to meet a warrior whose lady is such that he will ‘dare avow her beauty and her worth / In other arms than hers’ (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 1.3.272-273). She suggests that here, with the pun on ‘arms’, ‘The challenge […] becomes something of a proposition, a seduction’ (Cook 1986: 43). Women are not mentioned when Heywood’s Hector makes his challenge, but in both plays a homoerotic subtext can often be discerned, paradoxically, in the apparent focus on women. For example, in John Barton’s 1968 production of Troilus and Cressida, a figure assumed to be Helen is brought forward as the Greeks and Trojans prepare to feast. Then, however, this figure is revealed as Achilles, lewdly gesturing to Paris, in a moment that confirms Eric S. Mallin’s suggestion that the entire play ‘moves along the patent or submerged axis of homoeroticism, the dedication to male intercourse’ (Mallin 1990: 162).[15] In Heywood’s play, the ‘dedication to male intercourse’ again comes to the fore, as Achilles’ desire for Polyxena is seen as impeding his ability to recognise his potential on the battlefield. Thersites makes this clear with reference to the social and quasi-erotic interaction that Achilles would more properly be having with other men. An infatuated Achilles plays the lute, while Agamemnon, Ajax, Ulysses and Menelaus plead with him to fight. Thersites then chides him with comparison to other, more ‘ideal’ men, here Hector and Ajax:

…hee’s in the field, thou in thy Tent,
Hector playing upon the Greekish burgonets,
Achilles fingring his effeminate Lute …
Ajax is valiant, and in the throng of the Troians,
Achilles is turn’d Fidler in the Tents of
The Grecians. (Heywood 1632: G3r-G3v)

There is the suggestion of homoeroticism here not just in Achilles’ indulgent strumming of his ‘effeminate Lute’, but also in the more martial images of Hector playing on the ‘Greekish burgonets’, and Ajax being pressed ‘in the throng of the Troians’. Greene had described his Achilles, in typically euphuistic terms, as one ‘who knewe as well how to tune the Lute with Venus, as to sound the Trumpet with Mars’ (Greene 1587: B2v). Euphues had also included Achilles’ desire for the Trojan princess, suggesting it distracts him from manly duty: Greene notes that Achilles was so ‘fettered with the love of Polixena’ that he would have stayed in Troy, ‘but that his thoughts would have bene discerned’ (Greene 1587: M3r). Heywood’s Achilles, unlike both Shakespeare’s and Greene’s, is unconcerned with the opinions of his fellow soldiers, and he cannot be manipulated by unflattering comparisons to other, ‘better’ men. He eventually enters battle, but does so to revenge Patroclus, while Shakespeare’s character fights to defend his own reputation.

[21] Heywood’s Achilles is chided by his fellow soldiers for an unseemly interest in Polyxena, and urged to refocus his attention into militarised but also homoeroticised interaction with enemy men in battle. However, when the homoerotic relationship is presented without this veneer of violent warmongering, men are also vulnerable to criticism, a paradox which suggests the fragility of ‘ideal’ masculine behaviour. In Troilus and Cressida, Achilles’ relationship with Patroclus is at the centre of any effort to emphasise the homoerotic elements of Shakespeare’s play, and Anthony B. Dawson provides a useful overview of the ways the ‘erotics of war’ have been staged (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 52-55). Dawson also shows that for a modern audience, Achilles’ love for Patroclus might mitigate his unsympathetic character (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 55). However, Achilles’ closeness to his companion can be a source of anxiety for other male characters, because, like the passion that Heywood’s Achilles feels for Polyxena, it keeps him from battle and thus prevents him from expressing his manliness in appropriately militaristic ways. Indeed, Shakespeare’s Patroclus and Heywood’s Polyxena can be seen as two sides of the same coin, reflecting negatively on Achilles’ masculinity in similar ways. While Alan Bray (1982, 2nd ed 1995, and 1990) has noted early modern alarm at the idea of sexual activity between men, Breitenberg has argued that it is the excessive and unmanly display of desire that the Shakespearean Thersites really objects to: ‘The play is concerned with Achilles’ homoerotic relationship to Patroclus only inasmuch as it has sapped his will to act and thus cast him in the role of a woman, not because of any intrinsic opposition to homoeroticism’ (Breitenberg 1996: 165). Similarly, Presson argues that Shakespeare’s inclusion of Achilles’ desire for both Patroclus and Polyxena is intended to make him ‘a seventeenth century exemplum of passion overcoming reason’ (Presson 1953: 27-28). Here, then, both of Achilles’ relationships, in both Heywood’s play and Shakespeare’s, become a caution to early modern men about the weakening (and feminising) effect of excessive desire, whether heterosexual or homosexual.[16] This concern had reared its head as early as the Iliad (where it is Paris who is chided by Hector for similarly intemperate and emasculating lust). When Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s plays are considered side by side, though, it becomes apparent that the ideal man has a fine line to tread, if he is to avoid excessive or unmanly attachment to either sex.

[22] Daniel Juan Gil points out that ‘Shakespeare’s version of the Trojan War is […] troubled from the outset by the fact that men on both sides seem disinclined to fight for or about women, or to use women as a currency for negotiating relationships between men’ (Gil 2005: 80). For Heywood and Greene too, and despite their increased focus on characters such as (in Greene) Polyxena and Briseis, and (in Heywood) Hecuba and Helen, it is relationships between men, and male performances towards and around one another, that are both defining and definitive. Greene’s women are mocked for their speech, and then silenced, and Heywood’s Achilles is urged to be a ‘properer man’ (Heywood 1632: C4r), as Paris would put it, to forget Polyxena and to take up his place in the strangely eroticised ‘throng of the Troians’ (Heywood 1632: G3v). However, the sidelining of women does not mean that male identity is secured. In his work on Troilus and Cressida, Gary Spear notes ‘the essential instability lodged at the centre of all constructions and embodiments of masculinity’, and suggests ‘The play repeatedly challenges our notions of masculinity’ (Spear 1993: 409, 412). Shakespeare’s play has attracted vastly more critical attention, particularly in the last forty years, than either Heywood’s or Greene’s works. However, all three are equally concerned with the ‘essential instability’ of manhood, with the extent to which it needs to be constructed and confirmed (often by public display or affirmation from other men), and also, and paradoxically, with the impossibility of ever being judged the ‘best’, most ideal man by one’s peers.

[23] The constant threat of masculine ‘failure’, of being judged as somehow lacking as a man, might seem to be a reductive focus for an author. However, in his study of ‘anxious masculinity’ in the early modern period, Mark Breitenberg draws on Freud’s theorising of anxiety as a kind of pre-emptive, self-protecting response to a perceived danger, to show how in early modern England, anxiety becomes both public and strangely productive. He argues that ‘anxiety is largely a discourse articulated and played out between men, a way for men to confirm their identity through a shared language of suffering and distress’, and suggests ‘the very “expression” of anxiety […] contributes in a positive way to the formation and positioning of masculinity if only by upholding the discursive authority of the writer in relation to the supposed source of his anxiety and, in so doing, by linking him to fellow sufferers’ (Breitenberg 1996: 12-13). In its rhetorical competition between the Greeks and Trojans, Greene’s text foregrounds this social or public aspect of anxiety about masculinity, and the way in which it can become, perversely, a source of creative inspiration and literary production. Simultaneously, in writing about the failure of storytelling, Greene the author is able to confront, and perhaps exorcise, some of his fears about the futility of his own literary endeavours. For Shakespeare and Heywood, meanwhile, it is the theatricality of their works that allows them to comment on the highly performative nature of the masculine ideals they present to their audiences. Indeed, Smith suggests that the public, communal nature of the early modern theatre might make it particularly suited to advancing arguments about masculinity:

In addition to proverbs and conduct books, a man trying to shape himself to the expectations of his peers might turn also to the theatre [….] The relationship between dramatic fictions and social realities was, and is, a reciprocal matter: Shakespeare’s plays represent masculine identity in ways that must have been recognizable from everyday life even as they set up models of action and eloquence that a man might want to imitate. (Smith 2000: 40-41)

Smith suggests that the male characters presented by early modern theatre might be simultaneously recognisable figures, with whom the audience might identify, and aspirational models of manhood. In Troilus and Cressida, The Iron Age 1 and Euphues His Censure to Philautus, both the familiarity and the exemplarity of these figures are emphasised; they are immediately identifiable not just as men, but as famous heroes. They seem on the one hand to reflect, by virtue of their fame, anxieties about heroic and mythical masculine identity that would not be shared by the more ordinary men reading or seeing these tales. On the other hand, though, the concerns about masculinity that are articulated by these men and these works are somehow universal. Greene, Shakespeare and Heywood set a deeply familiar myth against more current concerns about male identity and achievement, whether creative or martial. In all three cases, men and masculinity are far from secure, but it is through sidelining women and interacting with one another, by arguing, debating, embracing, criticising and fighting, that these mythical men seek to make sense of themselves, and one another. Their anxieties and fraught interactions reflected the real concerns of early modern men, resulting in fictions that were at once escapist and instructive, rooted in a mythical past but resolutely of the Renaissance.

University of Glasgow

[1] For a discussion of the subtle differences between ‘manliness’ and ‘manhood’ in early modern thinking, see Jordan 2011.[back to text]

[2] See also Whitaker 1953: 194, Kimbrough 1964: 34-36, Muir 1977: 150-151, and for Heywood’s use of Greene, Shakespeare 1998 [1601-1602]: 395.[back to text]

[3] John S. P. Tatlock suggests that the truce during which these tales are told may have its source in Ovid’s Metamorphoses 12. Tatlock 1915, noted in Wilson 2006: 94n.[back to text]

[4] On the huge popularity of Euphues as a character, see Kesson 2014: Ch. 2.[back to text]

[5] See Andrew in Chaucer 1993: 247. Drawing on the work of Flügel (1901) and Curry (1916) he notes that Hector lisps and stutters in Dares the Phrygian’s account of the Trojan War, and that stuttering was associated with ‘great men’ in medieval writing. However, Kimbrough 1964: 31 notes that Hector lisps in Caxton’s account, and suggests that such details show that ‘Trojan worth is strongly questioned’.[back to text]

[6] Although Mentz (2006: 149) suggests that Book One of the Iliad would not be widely known outside the universities at this point.[back to text]

[7] See also Helgerson 1976: esp Ch.5.[back to text]

[8] See Adams 1919: 337, and Clark 1931: 63. Bevington in Shakespeare 1998 [1601-1602]: 396, using Shakespeare 1953 [1601-1602]: 462-463, argues that Heywood’s is the later play, but does not suggest he drew on Troia Britanica.[back to text]

[9] See also Holaday 1946: 434-435, 439. He argues that while the influence of Troia Britanica is clear in The Golden Age, subsequent plays in the series are far less reliant on the poem.[back to text]

[10] By contrast, Bevington in Shakespeare 1998 [1601-1602]: 396 argues for similarity between Shakespeare’s and Heywood’s Thersites.[back to text]

[11] See Shakespeare 1953 [1601-1602]: 463, and Smith 1991: 59, who suggests that the Greeks and Trojans are depicted differently. Shalvi 1965: 284 argues that Shakespeare treats them similarly.[back to text]

[12] Charnes 1989: 413 points to the paradox that Shakespeare’s characters are ‘notoriously “known” ’, and do not really know who they are: this leads to anxious attempts to establish ‘their own and each others’ identities’.[back to text]

[13] Tatlock 1915: 718n. points out Heywood’s use of ‘properer man’ in A Woman Killed with Kindness 4.6, and notes that Paris urges Helen to compare him to Menelaus in Heroides XVI.  Paris’ and Helen’s exchange here echoes Cantos IX and X of Heywood’s Troia Britanica, in which he had translated Ovid’s Heroides XVI and  XVII.[back to text]

[14] The 1632 edition attributes these words to Troilus, the previous speaker, but Hector’s response clearly suggests Paris: ‘Th’art fitter for young Oenons company / Then for a bench of souldiers’ (Heywood 1632: B2r).[back to text]

[15] The episode is noted by Dawson (Shakespeare 2003 [1601-1602]: 54.[back to text]

[16] James 1997: 104 argues that because Achilles’ desires for Polyxena and for Patroclus spring from different literary sources, they ‘are rival and paralyze him’. Presson 1953: 21-28 outlines how these various sources, including Caxton, Lydgate and George Chapman’s translation of the Iliad, account for Achilles’ withdrawal from battle.[back to text]


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—. 1632. The Iron Age (London)

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A Provincial English Reader of Lipsius: John Trussell of Winchester and the ‘Lipsian paradigm’

A Provincial English Reader of Lipsius: John Trussell of Winchester and the ‘Lipsian paradigm’ [1]

Robert F. W. Smith

[1] In recent years the Dutch classical scholar and high priest of Renaissance neostoicism Justus Lipsius has benefitted from sustained scholarly interest (Constantinidou 2012, Brooke 2012, Machielsen 2013). Largely, however, this interest has concentrated on Lipsius himself, and the nature and meaning of his principal works of political philosophy, rather than on the contemporary readers of his books. The most notable exception, Adriana McCrea’s Constant Minds, examines readers of Lipsius who were themselves of major national importance in England, such as Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Ralegh (McCrea 1997). This article will reveal a hitherto neglected side of this increasingly familiar story. Drawing principally upon the manuscript writings of John Trussell of Winchester, it will show that humanist writing could find an audience outside the elite circles of London, and that its influence could be felt in the writings of those who were not neostoics in an obvious sense – or indeed philosophers at all. The early seventeenth-century Englishmen discussed in McCrea’s volume had in common “a complex of preoccupations… with political participation, virtue, the disjuncture between private and public virtue, and the lessons of history” in a world in which “such preoccupations were most fully addressed by the Flemish philologist, Justus Lipsius” (McCrea 1997: xix-xx). Since these were also among John Trussell’s preoccupations, this article will discuss his work with regard to the ‘Lipsian paradigm’ discussed by McCrea as well. It will conclude by arguing that a proper understanding of the influence of Justus Lipsius on John Trussell can enable scholars to understand the most high-profile and fascinating episode in Trussell’s life, his publication in 1595 of the Jesuit martyr Robert Southwell’s posthumous Triumphs Over Death, in an entirely new way – one that demonstrates how religious divisions in the early modern era were capable of being bridged by classical scholarship.

[2] John Trussell (1575-1648) was not a figure of national importance. Born in London, Trussell removed to Winchester around 1598, and thereafter became a fierce local patriot. Love for the city, and regret for the economic decline it had suffered since its days of greatest prosperity and importance in the middle ages, suffuse Trussell’s unpublished writings. He became a freeman of the city in 1606, and in due course rose to a position among the highest echelons of the city’s oligarchy, serving as mayor on two occasions (1624-5 and 1633-4). As well as an administrator, he was a man of letters. Apart from his association with Robert Southwell he is perhaps best known for his published works of the year 1636: his Continuation of Samuel Daniel’s History of England and the poems he contributed to the Annalia Dubrensia collection celebrating Robert Dover’s ‘Olympic Games’ which at that time were held every year in the Cotswolds (Trussell 1636; Drayton and others 1636). He also published a little-regarded complaint poem, The First Rape of Fair Helen, at the beginning of his literary career, in 1595 (Shaaber 1957: 407-448).

[3] Justus Lipsius was already well known by the time Trussell embarked upon his writing career. Among his major works, De constantia libri duo (1584) contains the fullest expression of the philosophy of neostoicism, while Politicorum sive civilis doctrinae libri sex (1589) is now perhaps best understood as “a critical response to as well as a partial appropriation of Machiavellian political theory” (Brooke 2012: 27). An English translation of De constantia by Sir John Stradling was also available in London by this time (Lipsius 1594). It was printed for sale by Richard Jones, stationer, who also sold Trussell’s Fair Helen, so it is tempting to imagine that Trussell’s first contact with the work of Lipsius was through Jones’s shop. This must remain conjecture, however.

[4] Trussell’s manuscript writings are more extensive than his printed works, and they also encompass both history and poetry. His most major undertaking was his history of Winchester, which exists in two versions: a draft manuscript known as The Origin of Cities (named for its introductory material on the first foundation of great cities, including Winchester), which was being written between 1625 and 1633 and takes the history up to the end of the reign of Edward III; and a longer, more polished version entitled The Touchstone of Tradition which takes it up to the end of James I, and which appears to have been written during 1642-44 (HRO Origin; HRO Touchstone). Still more important for the study of Trussell’s life and career is the miscellany known as the Benefactors of Winchester manuscript. This manuscript contains records of the benefactions of major charitable givers to the city of Winchester, together with poetic eulogies to their generosity, and it also contains a variety of other material, including three open letters written by Trussell in 1622, 1623 and 1637 to the corporation of Winchester, and his long poetic history of Winchester, The Declaration of Caerguent, which is narrated by the city’s genius loci (Bodl. Benefactors).

[5] Lipsian influences on Trussell in these works range from the obvious to the subtle. The opening section of the Touchstone of Tradition finds Trussell drawing upon the powerful eloquence of Lipsius in a long quotation which reveals his heightened preoccupation with the decay and death of cities and nations. The passage appears to have been translated directly from Lipsius rather than via Sir John Stradling’s ‘Englished’ version of De constantia:

as each particuler body hath yts youth, yts strength, ould Age, and Death, so is yt with great citties; they begyn, they encrease, they stand & flowrishe, But all to this end, that they may decaye… Vennice that hath flowrished aboue 2340 yeers, and London & Antwerp, the bewtie of citties, their dayes must likewise come att length and in the end turne to nothing. (HRO Touchstone: 9)

Lipsius’s “fatall whir[l]pole of Necessity” (HRO Touchstone: 9) now threatened to pull Europe, the present seat of world power, into its vortex of destruction. During the years of civil war, in a city precariously situated on the frontline of the southern English theatre – a city already scarred by violence and living in fear of worse – these stoic and realistic strains were especially resonant for Trussell. Later in the Touchstone Trussell uses Lipsius as one of his authorities in his defence of the mythical British history; he argues that the legends of Britain’s foundation by Brutus and the subsequent history of his descendants could be accepted on the grounds of oral transmission from the Druids, whose learning was of such sophistication and antiquity “that Lipsius doubteth whether the Druides taught Pythagoras, who is said to live Anno Mundi 2676, or Pythagoras them, the opinion of transanimation, or transmigration of the sowle” (HRO Origin: 15; Lipsius 1604 lib. III, dissert. xii).

[6] Around 1620 Trussell was involved in major disputes with fellow members of the corporation of Winchester over questions of civic governance, and two of the letters preserved in the Benefactors of Winchester collection reflect this. His 1622 letter to mayor Edward White is a manifesto in which he defends himself from claims that he had been too forthright in arguing for the duty of obedience of subordinate officers to the mayor. An important passage in this letter sets out Trussell’s view of the proper ordering of the civic community. The obvious intellectual influences in the passage are the Bible and the work of the Oxford Aristotelian John Case, whose Sphaera Civitatis, which Trussell quotes, has been described by C. W. Brooks as “a bulwark of conventional Elizabethan political thought” (Brooks 1986: 223). A closer look reveals the traces of Lipsian influence, however. Trussell’s quotation of the phrase ‘salus publica suprema lex est’ is the first clue (Bodl. Benefactors: 42). Deriving from Cicero De Legibus Lib. III capt iii.viii, it was quoted by Lipsius in De constantia: “Ut enim moderatoribus [marginal note: Qui Deo tamen ante omnia curae] reip. salus populi suprema lex est: sic deo, mundi”: ‘for even as unto governors of Commonwealths [which God careth for especially] the safeguard of the people is the highest law, so is the world to God’ (Cicero 1999: 159; Lipsius 1586: 57-58; Lipsius 1594: 84).

[7] The Ciceronian maxim was subsequently quoted by writers indebted to Lipsius: for example, Charron, a French neostoic, cites it in his Of Wisdom, justifying dissimulation and cunning on the part of rulers for the common weal (an example of the prudentia mixta controversially advised by Lipsius for princes in his Politica) (Charron 1608: 358). Some historians of neostoicism, chiefly Oestreich, have considered it a political philosophy very congenial to the early modern state-form, since Lipsius recommends political participation and the vita activa, and depicts the ideal citizen as one who is self-possessed, disciplined, unconcerned with temporal causes such as religious and political enthusiasm, and ready to serve and fight for an autocratic ruler (Oestreich 1982: 30). In Adriana McCrea’s opinion, however, “the Lipsian paradigm in England […] helped to maintain not the power of the state, but the idea of the state as being constituted through a body of healthy and fully participating members” (McCrea 1997: 211). Both of these interpretations dovetail quite well with Trussell’s use of the Ciceronian maxim, with the views he expresses in his letter to Edward White, and with the more traditional sources he uses: he borrows from John Case a classic metaphor of unity, calling the city a ship with its citizens being the sailors, and goes on to urge the mayor that “cittizens should bee of agreable disposition like singers… the Means of the Prosperity of this cittie is and ought to bee the indissoluble union of modest cittizens”. He strictly enjoins obedience on those who are in offices subordinate to the mayor, but acknowledges that “citizens must governe and obay by turnes” (Bodl. Benefactors: 41-42). In Winchester the mayoralty had to change hands every year, so members of the elite took turns at wielding executive power regularly.

[8] The section of the 1623 letter in which Trussell warns the twenty-four (the common council of the city) against “prejudicate opinion” also has a distinctly Lipsian savour, since opinio (‘vain opinion’) in the schema set forth in De constantia is the source of all inconstancy and the mother of ills; it is opposed by Lipsius to ratio, right reason, the ground of wisdom (Lipsius 1594: passim.). “Truthe will best appere when Opinion wants eyes and suggestion ears; sett therefore that aside which is but a sickness of the mind bred by the perverseness of the will and nurst by self-conceite which taketh semblances for substances and things seeming for realities” – this is Trussell, but might almost be Langius (Lipsius’s guru in De constantia) addressing Lipsius (Bodl. Benefactors: 45). The division between public and private morality has also been claimed by Natasha Constantinidou as a feature of the Lipsian paradigm (Constantinidou 2012: passim.). In his polemic Trussell draws the public-private distinction in a less subtle way than Constantinidou argues Lipsius does; for Trussell, the focus is on eradicating private interest from the consideration of public servants. But some followers of Lipsius did the same. The English translation of a work by a French follower of Lipsius (published in 1598) urged: “I beseech you therefore to have more care of your country than of all the world besides, and never prefer your particular profit before the good thereof” (du Vair 1598: 168). In repeated exhortations to his corporation colleagues, through poetry and prose, Trussell made the same point forcefully throughout his career: as a poem addressed to them in 1637 insists, “Citizens simul et per se must strive/ In the Common cause to bee superlative” (Bodl. Benefactors: 4).

[9] Without wishing to digress too far, it is possible to identify another Lipsian influence on Trussell. It may be that a work of 1616 entitled The A,B,C of Arms, which is advertised on the title page as “an introduction directory whereby the order of military exercises may easily be understood and readily practised”, is an unattributed work of Trussell (I. T. 1616). It would require comprehensive computer analysis of the kind used by Hugh Craig and Arthur Kinney in their work on the attribution of early modern plays to determine with an acceptable degree of certainty that the ‘I. T.’ who wrote the The A,B,C of Arms was John Trussell of Winchester (Craig and Kinney 2009). Overall, though, the evidence is quite compelling, and can be briefly rehearsed.

[10] The A,B,C comes from a period in which many writers with military interests or affiliations were responding to a perceived need for improved militia training in England, and specifically an English drill manual which could equip Englishmen who took up arms with the conceptual and practical tools necessary to replicate the success of the armies of Prince Maurice of Nassau and his subordinate commanders in the Netherlands (Lawrence 2009). Gunther Rothenburg makes the point that “the reintroduction of drill into the army was an essential element of the Orangist reforms and a basic contribution to the modern military system” (Rothenburg 1986: 41). From the conclusion of peace with Spain in 1604 until 1612, the government left off the regular exercise of England’s militias, an interlude known as the military vacation; militia exercises resumed only when a succession crisis in Cleves-Julich nearly brought an end to the Twelve Years’ Truce in the Netherlands (1609-1621). By that time it had become conventional among military writers to call for regular, even daily drilling to enable England’s militias to reach the standard of proficiency now attained by Continental armies (Lawrence 2009: 89, 135-156). In the judgement of David Lawrence, the section on military exercises in the A,B,C of Arms is heavily based on a publication of 1614, Captain Edward Panton’s broadsheet Table of the Art Military, which included concise instructions on words of command and drum signals, together with other useful material for drilling soldiers. In Lawrence’s opinion the fact that only a quarter of the A,B,C’s length describes how drill could be carried out “justifies the author’s own description of himself” as an “inkhorn soldier” (Lawrence 2009: 153-154). Because of the work’s indebtedness to Panton, Lawrence suspects that I. T. may have either been a member of, or known a member of, the Artillery Company.

[11] Trussell undoubtedly fulfils the second of these criteria: his second cousin Thomas Trussell was a soldier, a member of the Company, and published a pamphlet during the 1610s with identical aims to the A,B,C. His pamphlet was entitled The Soldier Pleading His Own Cause, and was intended to demonstrate that soldiering was the noblest of professions, upon which a free and civilized society wholly depended, and to defend it from attack. In the A,B,C the soldier is eulogized as “a Defender of liberall Arts, an Vp-holder of the seate of Iustice… a Maintayner of the Libertie, and quiet of his Countrie” (I. T. 1616: B2). Both regret the contempt in which the English nation seemed to hold soldiers and soldiering: “what meaneth the vulgar multitude of our English Nation so maliciously to contemne Souldiership[?]”,Thomas Trussell enquired (Trussell 1619: 15). A second and third edition of The Soldier Pleading His Own Cause survive, “much enlarged with Military Instructions”: the surviving editions of the work are therefore an actual drill manual, but the original was not. It is unknown when the first one was printed, and it may be that the A,B,C of Arms and The Soldier Pleading His Own Cause were thought of and/or written in association with one another by the Trussells in or before 1616. The pamphlets have different publishers, but this does not mean they are not associated.

[12] Several other factors, perhaps not significant in themselves but highly suggestive taken all together, reinforce the possibility that John Trussell was the author. A quotation from Horace – “amphora cepi/ Institui currente rota nunc urcens exit” – which is the epigraph to Fair Helen, and rounds off an impassioned passage in Trussell’s important letter to Mayor Edward White in 1622, also appears in a prominent place in the A,B,C, where it signals the end of the work (Shaaber 1957: 420; Bodl. Benefactors: 42; I. T. 1616: C6). Immediately afterwards the author writes that “opus & usus, my more than ordinary visiters, knock at my study-dore… and command me to attend profit priuate, not publike, more magistrarum” (I. T. 1616: C6). This is another iteration of the contrast between ‘public good’ and ‘private gain’ which Trussell made repeatedly, almost obsessively, throughout his writing. I. T. is also seemingly identifying himself as a lawyer at the beginning of the work, saying “I practise in the Schole of Peace and pro feodo [‘for a fee’] punish others”; John Trussell was an attorney by profession in Winchester in 1616 (I. T. 1616: A3). Even the way I. T. introduces the work, saying that Machiavelli was “objected to” for writing about military affairs as a civilian, and desiring “to free myself of the like imputation”, is strongly reminiscent of another trope in John Trussell’s self-justificatory public letters of the 1620s, his keen sense that faults were being imputed to him unjustly, that his words and writings would be “misconstructed”, “ill taken” (I. T. 1616: A3; Bodl. Benefactors: 43).

[13] The influence of Lipsius on the A, B, C is clear. Acknowledging the second-hand nature of the material in the book, I. T. writes that “in [this] collection of mine, as a learned Writer of our time said, though on another subiect, I may truly say, Omnia nostra esse & nihil. All things are mine, in respect of the gathering, or disposition; nothing, or at least very little, in regard of the inuention of the things themselues” (I. T. 1616: A6). The “learned writer” quoted was Justus Lipsius: the remark appears in the preliminary matter of his Politica, an “astonishingly complex yet concise handbook for rulers” (in the words of Mark Morford) which is composed of quotations from classical authors, ingeniously arranged by Lipsius with linking commentary so as to form a tapestry of modern wisdom, woven from the words of the ancients (Morford 1991: 156; Lipsius 2004: 232). It seems reasonable to infer that the form of the A,B,C was consciously influenced by, or even based on the Politica, which, Rothenburg notes, “has been described as the intellectual basis of the Dutch reforms” (Rothenburg 1986: 35). Lipsius was Maurice of Nassau’s tutor at Leiden, and, argues Lawrence, “the Mauricean military reforms reflected his teacher’s love of classical military theory” (Lawrence 2009: 138; cf. Brooke 2012: 16). Lipsius’s De militia Romana had been published in 1595. I. T. refers to Lipsius by name later in the text, representing his view as being that “salus reipublica plus fortitudine quam concordia consistit”: ‘the safety of the republic consists more in strength than peace’. This shows that I. T. had found in Lipsius’s teachings a justification of his own view that the wrong kind of peace could produce worse evils than war: “Though it be to be wished [I. T. writes] that wee, which haue so long found the fruit of Peace, should neuer feele the direfull effects of Warre: yet may it likewise be feared, that too much Securitie by lulling our senses asleepe, may open a passage to danger” (I. T. 1616: A4). He later paraphrases Juvenal: “heu patimur longae pacis mala”: ‘alas, we are suffering from the evils of a long peace’ (Juvenal 1612: 48). It has been argued in the past that Lipsius’s works were congenial to those of a militarist and authoritarian disposition; if this is the case, and considering his association with the study of the Roman military, it is perhaps not surprising that the writer of the A,B,C of Arms should have claimed him as an ideological ally (Oestreich 1982; cf. Brooke 2012: 15-18).

[14] We can turn now to one of the most misunderstood features of John Trussell’s literary career, his association with the Jesuit priest Robert Southwell. Southwell was for ten years the leading light of the Roman Catholic mission in England. A prolific writer of verse and prose, his mission has been seen as a literary as well as a spiritual one – an ‘apostolate of letters’ (Janelle 1971; Pilarz 2004). For three years of that decade he was a prisoner of the state, undergoing repeated torture and interrogation. He was executed in the spring of 1595, having revealed nothing of any use to the authorities concerning his friends and comrades (Devlin 1956). If ever a man could be said to have triumphed over death, it was he. It was fitting, then, that shortly afterwards his prose tract entitled The Triumphs Over Death, a “consolatorie epistle for afflicted minds”, was published in London. This work was prefaced by three dedicatory verses written by John Trussell.

[15] The Triumphs Over Death was composed for Phillip Howard, Earl of Arundel, in August 1591, as a work of consolation on the occasion of his sister’s death, and it remained private until Trussell “thought it best the same in publike-wise/ In Print to publish” (Southwell 1595b: A3). There was a close personal connection between Southwell and Arundel, for Southwell’s patroness was Anne Dacre, Countess of Arundel, herself a Catholic. She had become a convert in the early 1580s, and with her newly converted husband’s blessing, Arundel House in the Strand shortly became a crucial English stronghold of the Counter-Reformation. Southwell entered the household in 1586. The Earl had been arrested the previous year, but with all the resources of the Countess supporting him, Southwell was able to operate under the noses of the authorities – writing and disseminating his works, administering the sacraments and making pastoral visits to the faithful – for six years. Among the tasks facing Southwell was that of providing spiritual instruction and consolation to his patroness’s imprisoned husband. The Triumphs Over Death is a product of that relationship.

[16] The first of Trussell’s three verses preceding Southwell’s text is an ‘Epistle Dedicatory’ addressed to “the Worshipful M. Richard Sackuile, Edward Sackuile Cicilie Sackuile and Anne Sackuile, the hopeful issue of… Robert Sackville, Esquire” (Southwell 1595b: A3). Robert Sackville (1560-1608) was the future second Baron Buckhurst and second Earl of Dorset. He had been married to Margaret Howard, the Earl of Arundel’s sister, from 1580 until her death in 1591. In this first poem, addressing Robert and Margaret’s children, Trussell says that he, the work’s “vnworthy foster-sire”, has “darde/ To make you patronizers of this warde” (Southwell 1595b: A2). He refers to the Sackville children as

You glorieng issues of that glorious dame,
Whose life is made the subiect of deaths will:

He continues:

To you, succeeding hopes of mothers fame,
I dedicate this fruit of Southwels quille:
He for your vncles comfort first it writ,
I for your consolation print and send you it. (Southwell 1595b: A2)

The ‘uncle’ he refers to is of course the Earl of Arundel, whose death, a little later in 1595 than Southwell’s, appears to be the direct occasion of Trussell’s going to print, for the consolation of Arundel’s nieces and nephews. The second of Trussell’s verses is a poem in praise of the work and its author, Southwell. The third is addressed ‘To the Reader’, and states Trussell’s reasons for publishing it:

that impartiall eies
Might reading judge, and judging praise the wight,
The which this Triumph ouer Death did write. (Southwell 1595b: A3)

In the third poem Trussell anticipates the criticism of some who “to reade what Southwell writ will not endure” because of his religion: “the Preachers no Precisian, sure” (Southwell 1595b: A3). Depicting the critics as Momus, the legendary carping spirit of antiquity, Trussell pleads that their censure might fall upon himself alone, and not the author or the work.

[17] The simple fact of the connection with Southwell has caused most people who have devoted any thought to the matter to take it for granted that Trussell was a Roman Catholic. Pierre Janelle, a biographer of Southwell, assumed that he was a “Catholic man of letters” (Janelle 1971: 150). F. W. Brownlow felt able to say “Trussell was undoubtedly Catholic”, whilst also saying that the publication of Fair Helen and The Triumphs Over Death in 1595 was “as much the work of a young man keen to make himself known in literary circles as it is a gesture by a Catholic partisan” (Brownlow 1996: 53). But, as Martin Shaaber has pointed out, “from The Triumphs Over Death alone, one would hardly suspect that Trussell or even Southwell was a Roman Catholic” (Shaaber 1957: 413). Shaaber went on to say that Trussell’s later writings (what he had seen of them) “do not necessarily prove more than conservatism” (Shaaber 195: 414). Leaving aside the complications of using the word ‘conservatism’ as a descriptor of loyalty to the Laudian Church of England, Shaaber was right to conclude that “one would want something more explicit than antipuritanism, deploring of the decay of religious foundations, and complaints against the degeneracy of the age to feel sure that… the alderman and mayor of the city was a Roman Catholic”.

[18] It is true that Trussell’s parents were tried and subsequently excommunicated for non-receipt of communion in Archbishop Bancroft’s metropolitical visitation of 1608 (HRO 1608: 58, 73). But in general the evidence is that Trussell was a loyal and orthodox member of the Church of England. There is no record of him ever suffering the penalties of recusancy during a long career in public administration. In 1640, the Long Parliament appointed him one of Winchester’s subsidy collectors for the army in the north, and it is difficult to imagine MPs consenting to a known Romanist being given such responsibility (although admittedly he was not among the persons named when the statute was renewed shortly afterwards) (Raithby 1819: 58-101). Trussell’s manuscript writings evince a dedication, not only to the cause of King Charles, whom he called “the churches supream head, ye faiths defender”, but also to the personnel and institutions of the Protestant church as it was then established, in particular Bishop Walter Curle, a dedicatee of the Touchstone of Tradition (Bodl. Benefactors: 45; HRO Touchstone: flyleaf). For seven years between 1613 and 1620 he served as bailiff of Winchester Cathedral’s Hampshire lands, in which capacity he appears in the diary of the dean of the cathedral, John Young, as “Mr Trussell… our bailey” (Goodman 1928: 65, 67). Although a footnote in the published edition of Young’s diary gives his first name as Thomas, a consultation of the cathedral’s register of the common seal proves that John Trussell was indeed the bailiff (Goodman, 1928: 65; HRO Register: 61). There is no suggestion of unorthodoxy here.

[19] Nevertheless, Shaaber was perhaps too quick to dismiss the significance of Trussell’s part in the Triumphs’ publication. As Brownlow noted, “a contemporary reader encountering all three poems for the first time [would] have been surprised, perhaps even startled, to see Southwell’s name spelled out in full in each of them” (Brownlow 1996: 54). The edition of Southwell’s chief poetical works printed in the same year did not broadcast the identity of the author (Southwell 1595a). In stark contrast, not only does Trussell broadcast Southwell’s authorship of the Triumphs, he even makes his second prefatory poem an acrostic of Southwell’s name. Obviously every contemporary reader of the Triumphs would have known that Southwell was not only a Catholic but a Jesuit – especially in 1595, with his execution still fresh in the public’s mind – and would have read it, and any material attached to it, in that light. Openly associating himself in print with a recently executed Jesuit in this way is, undeniably, a surprising thing for Trussell to have done. What, then, might explain it?

[20] The Lipsian influence on John Trussell, visible in the works of his later life, suggests the possibility of an explanation other than Roman Catholicism, which was not the only ideology which Trussell could have read in Southwell, nor the only one which can explain his evident respect for the Jesuit and his Triumphs Over Death. The other is stoicism, in its new Christian and humanist form which had recently been popularized by Justus Lipsius. The Triumphs have been described as “the very reverse of Southwell’s more passionate moods… the acme of Jesuit ‘indifferency’ coupled with classical moderation” (Janelle 1971: 151). The ‘indifferency’ which Southwell was trying to cultivate in Arundel was not, of course, cold indifference to the death of a loved one, but rather a calm, collected and reasonable grief: “mour[n]e as that your friends may finde you a liuing brother, all men a discreete mourner, making sorowe a signell, not a superior of reason” (Southwell 1595b: B). This was the experience of grief which was permissible according to the law of God; not that kind which unhinges the rational mind, but that which manifests the pity and compassion which make us human.

For to be without remorse in the death of friends, is neither incident nor conuenient to the nature of man, hauing too much affinitie to a sauage temper, and ouerthrowing the ground of all pietie, which is a mutuall simpathie in ech of others’ miseries [sic]. But as not to feele sorrow in sorrowfull chances is to want sence, so not to beare it with moderation, is to want vnderstanding: the one brutish, the other effeminate; and he hath cast his account best that hath brought his summe to the mean. (Southwell 1595b: B)

This doctrine of moderation, as Janelle pointed out, has its roots in the placid temper of various ancient philosophies, including the classical stoicism that informed Lipsius’s neostoicism, which consisted in “enduring whatever happens to a man externally or internally without complaint”, and was characterized by freedom from the tyranny of emotion, patience in adversity, and cheerful subjection to God’s will (Morford 1991: 162).

[21] F.W. Brownlow’s incisive discussion of the Triumphs Over Death includes the fascinating suggestion that the title of the work is itself Trussell’s invention, not Southwell’s, since it has no title in the surviving manuscripts, and he convincingly makes the point that it is Trussell who “encourages us to read the piece in more than one way”: not just as a letter from Southwell to the Earl of Arundel, but in the context of the deaths of both men, and “in the context of our own life and impending death” (Brownlow 1996: 55-56). As Brownlow insists, “the stoicism of the Triumphs is the mood of a man who, like a World War II fighter pilot, has to fly until he is killed himself… Southwell’s stoicism is meant to be severely practical advice on maintaining presence of mind and a sense of proportion before impending death”, not a literary exercise in the combination of classical and Christian modes but “the fruit of experience” (Brownlow 1996: 57-58). Trussell, by turning a letter “first written for the consolation of one” into something with exemplary and practical value “for the generall good of all”, as the title page says, made an appropriately humanistic use of the epistolary form. The letter was “a civilized means of intercourse, by which friends are united through the sincere expression of the writer’s thoughts”, including grief and consolation, and both friendship and letters were very public in Renaissance humanist culture (Morford 1991: 72; Machielsen 2013: 161-182). The mood of the Triumphs was already reminiscent of the neostoicism of De constantia – “it could even be described as a Senecan epistle”, as Brownlow acknowledges – and it is characterized by the brevity, grace and lack of affectation which, since Cicero, had been features of stoic writing (Brownlow 1996: 56).

[22] What personal resonances Southwell’s ‘consolatorie epistle for afflicted mindes in the affects of dying friends’ may or may not have had for Trussell we do not know. But Morford remarks that “Langius represented for Lipsius the Stoic sapiens who had achieved mastery over the emotions through Reason” (Morford 1991: 65), and we may wonder whether Southwell represented something similar to Trussell. Of course, to say so is not necessarily to interpret the historical Robert Southwell as a neostoic sapiens. His argument in the Triumphs relies on the (Roman Catholic) Scriptures, not the ancients. Lipsius went further than Christians of either faction were comfortable with in his rejection of sympathy and pity as useless weaknesses (Oestreich 1982: 29). Indeed, Stradling’s preface to the 1594-1595 editions of De constantia acknowledged that Lipsius had been attacked for the secular character of his work. But, importantly, Stradling also made a strong attempt to reconcile Lipsius’s classicism with Christianity:

whereas some men pretend he hath not handled this argument deuoutly enough in that hee applieth not places of holy scripture to his purpose… he writeth so highly in commendation of RIGHT REASON, although somtimes with the words of the Auncients: yet he accompteth no reason pure or right except it be directed by God & illuminated by faith. (Lipsius 1594: A3)

[23] Kevin Sharpe is one scholar who has emphasized “the independence and power of readers… to construct their own meanings” when they interpreted Renaissance texts, including by means of translations (Sharpe 2000: 40). Trussell would have been quite capable of making a connection between the Christian stoicism in adversity of Robert Southwell and the formal neostoicism preached by Lipsius. Moreover, it would not do to over-stress the extent to which the neostoicism of De constantia is at odds with Christian orthodoxy: Oestreich argued that because in Lipsius’s philosophy “Reason is called upon to create a world of self-control, moderation, pious yet active faith, and genuine reverence for God”, it was “enthusiastically received in all camps” (Oestreich 1982: 33). It is, therefore, possible to conceive of an intellectual context for Trussell’s publication of and enthusiasm for Southwell’s Triumphs Over Death which does not automatically imply Roman Catholic allegiance on his part.

[24] This conclusion suggests a more general point about the porousness of confessional and ideological boundaries in the early modern period. The assumption that a man who admired a Jesuit martyr and took his work to print was necessarily himself a Roman Catholic is predicated upon an idea of the over-riding importance and exclusivity of categories such as ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’. While religious divisions were undeniably important to contemporaries, they should not blind scholars today to the reality that early modern people could be capable of transcending them in sometimes surprising ways. Justus Lipsius himself, after all, famously switched between denominations as it suited him. Trussell’s politico-religious attitudes, as far as can be gleaned, had points of sympathy with Lipsius’s in two main ways. Firstly, one reason why he regarded the established church with respect and disliked puritans was that the Church of England bolstered the authority of the monarch who was its supreme head and defender, thus reinforcing the hierarchical structure of society which puritanism threatened; and Lipsius, in Politica, insisted on the political value of religious unity for preserving the state: “Religio et timor dei solus est, qui custodit hominum inter se societem… [ergo] unam religionem in uno regno servari”: ‘it is religion, and the fear of God, which alone binds men together in civil society… therefore in one realm, one religion should be followed’ (Lipsius 2004: 386-390).

[25] Secondly, a key part of Trussell’s conception of religion was that its social function outweighed the finer shades of theology; he lamented the dissolution of the monasteries and the general decay of religious foundations in Winchester, “by means whereof [the] poore were multiplyed,/ and all means for their sustenance denyed” (Bodl. Benefactors: 44), and confidently expressed his belief in the importance of almsdeeds in a poem which skirts around the edge of a denial of sola fide:

Though yt bee trewe that pious almesdeeds are not
The cause of heauen’s enjoyment, yett I dare not
But both beleave & confidentlie saye
They to that place are found the only way. (Bodl. Benefactors: 44)

In another poem he remarks of William Swaddon, a minister who left a bequest to Winchester’s poor, that “hee teacheth best who by example teacheth,/ Not hee that only uselesse doctryne preacheth” (Bodl. Benefactors: 44). These attitudes call to mind a maxim of Lipsius’s, which John Trussell seems likely to have approved of: “Non in subtilitate religio… Sed in factis”: ‘religion does not consist in subtleties, but in deeds’. (Lipsius 2004: 270).

[26] In conclusion, this article has shown how John Trussell, a man below the exalted levels of the courtiers and bishops discussed by Adriana McCrea, also wrote within a version of the ‘Lipsian paradigm’ which she identifies in early modern English literary culture. This gives us an indication of the wide cultural reach of that paradigm. While he was not an outright neostoic, Trussell had read the works of Lipsius sufficiently widely to quote extensively from them, and to share something of the Lipsian outlook. An appreciation of the influence of Justus Lipsius on John Trussell – something never before identified – can usefully inform our understanding of elements of his life and work which would otherwise be prone to misunderstanding, particularly his literary association with Robert Southwell. This in turn can supplement our understanding of the nature of the wider culture in which he lived, and the role classical scholarship could play in reaching across confessional divides.



[1] This article was written during the preparation of my doctoral thesis, ‘John Trussell: A Life (1575-1648)’ (University of Southampton, forthcoming). I must acknowledge the generous financial support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council which has allowed me to undertake this research.[back to text]




Bodleian Library

MS Top. Hants. c. 5 [Trussell, John, The Benefactors of Winchester]

Hampshire Record Office

21M65/C1/29/1 [Consistory Court Act Book 1607-8]

CD/246 [Winchester Cathedral Register of the Common Seal]

W/K1/11/1 [Trussell, John, The Origin of Cities]

W/K1/12 [Trussell, John, The Touchstone of Tradition]


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Chetham’s Library MS A.4.15: an Inns of Court Manuscript?

Chetham’s Library MS A.4.15: an Inns of Court Manuscript?[1]

Joel Swann

[1] London’s Inns of Court have long been established as important centres for many aspects of cultural life in the early modern capital, and recent research has helped to extend our understanding of the Inns as a forum for literary activity (Finkelpearl 1969, O’Callaghan 2007: 10-34; Nelson & Elliot 2010; Archer, Goldring & Knight 2011). Poetry was a significant part of the cultural scene there: Finkelpearl claimed that around the middle of the sixteenth century ‘they were the literary center of England’, and although that status might have changed by the end of the seventeenth century, the Inns continued to play host to authors, readers, and anthologists who took a very active interest in verse (Finkelpearl 1969: 24). Such activities are attested by the compilation of the printed miscellany The Phoenix Nest (1593) ‘by R. S. of the Inner Temple’, and likewise by manuscript anthologies. Scholars have regarded a number of anthologies to be the work of compilers somehow involved with life at the Inns (Beal 1980; Pitcher 1981: 174; Hobbs 1992: 87-90; Marotti 1995: 36; Woudhuysen 1996: 166).[2] As such, the Inns form one of the key ‘social groupings’ so important to manuscript studies, whose encouragement of what Harold Love called ‘user publication’ are comparable to other institutions like the court, families, or colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.

[2] While scholars of literary manuscripts have associated such miscellany manuscripts with pre-existing networks, questions have been raised about the extent to which closed environments are responsible for manuscript dissemination and the production of anthologies. Indeed, as Jason Scott-Warren (2000) has pointed out, there is much to be learned from manuscripts that do not readily match with any easily described institutions; and Love himself recognised the limitations of matching miscellanies and social groupings as a one-to-one mapping (1993: 83). Where established networks do exist, they intersect, and Michelle O’Callaghan has described how texts could travel ‘through established social networks that testify to the commerce between London, the counties and the universities’ (2007: 105). Yet while we now seldom think of the Inns as a ‘sealed-off’ centre of cultural activity (Finkelpearl 1969: 31), the multiple connections of MC15 – one of a handful of texts described as an ‘Inns of Court manuscript’ – have not been sufficiently considered. Indeed, the idea of an ‘Inns of Court’ anthology may be more tenuous than those connected to other social groupings, since there is comparatively little social or occasional verse in manuscript associated with the Inns, unlike the universities. While MC15 retains a clear metropolitan orientation, the manuscript was crucially engaged with the provinces, a setting for the circulation of texts that is increasingly understood as a significant feature of early modern manuscript culture (May & Marotti 2014). As much as the Inns connections are demonstrated by MC15’s collection of now-scarce texts that especially address members of that environment, both internal and external evidence invites us to reconsider the background from which the manuscript is likely to have emerged. Not only does MC15 contain some poetry closely associated with communities in Norfolk, but a case can be made for stronger connections with East Anglia more widely, even for ownership in the region. A conclusion of this kind shows how a better understanding of the phenomenon of manuscript circulation can be developed through more intensive work on even relatively well-known documents, as scholars have recently shown (Estill 2013; Rayment 2014), especially combined with the recovery and revaluation of neglected evidence.

[3] MC15 is best known through Alexander Grosart’s edition, published in 1873 as The Dr Farmer Chetham MS, which offers a generally competent transcription but effaces one of the defining features of the manuscript: the complicated evidence for its material production. Several scribes represented by as many as seven hands helped to copy the 45,000 words or so of prose and poetry into MC15.[3] The consistent ‘pot’ watermark throughout the quarto volume may suggest that it began from a single stock of paper, and possibly as a bound blank book. However, some stretches of copying and collection coincide closely with the structure of gathering – for example, an important section of poetry begins with the 7th gathering and ends with the 13th (fols. 42v-81v). As such, in its earliest stages MC15 may have been begun in separate smaller booklets, only to be brought together after some of the copying had been completed. The hands do not offer any obvious points of close interaction, such as collaboratively transcribing longer texts, but the hands all seem to contribute to a limited number of themes, suggesting some moments with a joint sense of purpose. MC15 could have been a kind of joint-owned ‘coterie’ manuscript; the work of a single compiler giving instructions to professional scribes and their associates; or the result of several generations of amateur copyists.

[4] The manuscript’s texts are grouped in approximately four major sections, each clearly separated by blank pages. A substantial selection of prose begins the volume (fols. 1r-42r) begun and mainly copied by hand A, but with contributions from B, C, D, and E. A section of assorted poetry follows (47v-82v) again begun by hand A, but with D as the major transcriber, and joined by G and F. The poetry continues in a section of epitaphs and elegies (86r-101r) begun by hand D, with additional significant input from hand A, and smaller contributions from C and E. The manuscript ends with a shorter section that mixes prose and poetry (106r-118v), copied by hand A and hand E. Most of the letters and reports in the long early section involve major courtiers, especially those whose fame was sustained by manuscript circulation, including the second Earl of Essex, Walter Ralegh, and Francis Bacon (Marotti 1995: 94). The heterogeneous poetry section includes the work of a number of significant poets and Inns of Court figures, including Sir John Davies (48r-50r), John Harington, John Hoskyns, Benjamin Rudyerd (57r-60r), Ralegh, Donne and Jonson (61r-66v); epitaphs; verse libels; and, importantly for the aims of this article, poetry by the Norfolk farmer Henry Gurney (69r-80r). Separated by a few blank pages the short final section includes an unusual mix of genres and topics, including texts by Inns of Court men: they include Richard Martin’s speech on King James’ accession (106r-109r, printed in Martin 1603), reports from the 1621 parliament (109v-112r), and versified psalms by Francis and Christopher Davison (112v-118v). The manuscript finishes with a few blank leaves. Most of the texts in MC15 were written between the 1590s and the early 1620s, and are likely to have been copied during this period, too, probably in stages over a significant period of time. The two major hands (A and D) offer important focal points for this issue: the texts in hand A tend to be earlier, only going as late as 1603, while those by hands clustering around D stretch to the end of James’ reign. A and D may have been working at approximately the same time during the 1620s or later, copying contemporary texts as well as those that had been in circulation for decades. Alternatively, A may have copied texts written in the early 1600s close to the time when they were written, while D only starting making contributions to the collection significantly later. This overview should give the important impression that MC15 bears many signs of a potentially complex and drawn-out process of compilation.

[5] The number of authors in the manuscript who can be linked to Inns of Court are extensive, and include Francis Bacon, Sir John Davies, John Hoskyns, Benjamin Rudyerd, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Christopher Brooke, Richard Martin, and Francis Davison. Many were admitted to the Inns between 1587 and 1593, and there are closer links between some of them – Davies, Hoskyns, Rudyerd, and Martin were all contemporaries at the Middle Temple, and were actively involved in the literary social life there (Finkelpearl 1969: 46; O’Callaghan 2007: 10-34) while Hoskyns and Martin are also thought to have been close to Donne and Brooke, from Lincoln’s Inn (Shapiro 1950: 10). Davison stands further outside this group of known associates, but he may have been known to them in other ways, as he was at Gray’s Inn between 1593 and 1594, during the others’ residence in other Inns, and may have been known through the masque he wrote for the 1594/5 revels (Gesta Grayorum: 59-67). However, looking at this body of texts, some of those by Inns authors – especially Bacon, Donne, Jonson, and Martin – circulated very widely, or were printed.[4] They could have been acquired without a close connection with the Inns of Court, or any particular environment, and cannot easily be used to establish the provenance of the manuscript.

[6] As such, the case for MC15’s early connections will begin by discussing the evidence offered in texts by Davies, Rudyerd, Hoskyns, Brooke and Davison; it will also contrast these to the poetry of the farmer, Henry Gurney (1549-1616). The texts by these authors were less extensively circulated, and in some cases are unique to MC15. Overall the most valuable texts in MC15 are those that offer a combination of evidence, including authorship by Inns figures, unambiguous reference to Inns interests, and scarcity of circulation: such a combination is offered in texts by Davies and Rudyerd. Others texts authored by Inns of Court writers are valuable simply by their presence in the manuscript.

[7] The significance of MC15’s inclusion of texts by these poets is not obvious. One explanation is offered by Michael Rudick, who suggests that the compiler of MC15 was personally familiar with Davies and Hoskyns (1999: 224-5). However, every aspect of MC15 invites us to consider the manuscript not as a snapshot of a singular moment in the history of an institution, but as evidence for a much richer narrative which is now difficult to grasp. The evidence presented here points towards incomplete moments of the complex processes in which in MC15 is involved, processes that are being shown to be so important to amateur manuscript collections (Gibson 2010). The mere presence of these texts places MC15 in a broad locus surrounding their authors, but the precise way the manuscript connected to authors and their social environment can only be guessed at.

[8] John Davies’ nine ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ (fols. 47v-50r) parody the commonplaces of the love poetry and sonnet sequences, with two that focus specifically on legal language and customs. As familiar as this vocabulary would have been to members of the Inns, overblown use of legal language was a common feature of 1590s sonnet sequences (Davies 1975: 303, Anon. 2003: 190). Recognising a parody may have been part of the task demanded of the legal audience; a difficult task, given that even the intentions of the language of Zepheria, one of Davies’ specific targets, have proved challenging for modern critics to work out (Muir 2005, 20). Davies’ seventh sonnet writes of the heart as a ‘midle Temple’, and Cupid as a misbehaving new arrival:

Into the midle <Te> Temple of my harte
the wanton Cupid did himselfe admitt
and gaue for pledge yor Eagle-sighted witt
yt he wold play noe rude vncivill parte
Longe tyme he cloak’te his nature wth his arte
and sadd, and graue and sober he did sitt
but at the last he gan to reuell it
to breake good rules and orders to peruerte
Then loue and his younge pledge were both conuented
before sadd Reason that old Bencher graue
who this sadd sentence vnto him presented
by dilligence yt slye and secreate knaue
That loue and <I> witt, for euer shold departe
out of the midle Temple of my harte. (MC15, 49v)[5]

The language here is not so abstruse or specialised that it could not be understood by a canny lay-reader, especially for its play on the conventional ‘temple’ image, found in Astrophil and Stella (sonnet 5) and elsewhere. However, it includes a number of specific references (such as the ‘younge pledge’, ‘conuented’, and ‘old Bencher’) that cast conventional ideas in very specific terms, making them more resonant with an Inns audience. Part of the poem’s parody relies on using the banal material of everyday life for supposedly elevated subject matter.

[9] While the seventh sonnet could be understood without any expertise, the eighth of the ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ is much harder to make sense of without a ready knowledge of legal language:

My case is this, I loue Zepheria brighte.
of her I hold my harte by fealtye:
wch I discharge to her perpetuallye,
yet she thereof will neuer me accquite.
for now supposinge I wthhold her righte
she hathe distreinde my harte to satisfie
the duty wch I neuer did denye,
and far away impounds it wth despite
I labor therefore iustlie to repleaue
my harte wch she vniustly doth impounde
but quick conceite wch nowe is loues highe Sheife
retornes it is esloynde not to be founde
Then wch the lawe affords I onely craue
her harte for myne in withername to haue (MC15, 49v)

The sonnet presents courtly love in terms of feudal land law, now especially targeting Zepheria. Some of this language might be relatively familiar to a broad audience, but without specific knowledge it can be very difficult to unpick (for explanations of the language, see Baker 2002: 224-237 and Davies 1975: 303; on the language of legal and property law, Zurcher 2007: 54-60). The octave gives background to the speaker’s case. The mistress is the landowner, the speaker her tenant; for the possession of his heart, he expects to pay the duties of fealty to her. As much as he claims to do this service ‘perpetuallye’, she does not recognise it; and the second quatrain reports that she has taken the course of action appropriate to the non-observance of feudal duties, and forcefully taken that heart, or ‘distrained’ it. So in spite of all appropriate service paid by him, the speaker has had his own property taken away from him. The sestet then introduces the complications of the case at hand. Having served a writ of replevin against mistress-as-Lord, the Sheriff ‘quick conceite’ announces that the heart has been taken away, or ‘eloigned’ (here spelled ‘esloynde’). The course of action the speaker aims to take in this situation is ‘withernam’ – to have restored to him goods of equal value to his own heart. He wittily chooses the only thing he wants, the heart of his mistress. Whereas a comparable poem like Shakespeare’s sonnet 87 (‘Farewell – thou art too dear for my possessing’) dispenses with its use of legal language in the final couplet, Davies’ parody insists that law terms are used throughout, saving one of the more obscure terms for the very last line. Without understanding the terms, the poem makes little sense.

[10] In this period legal knowledge was beginning to be organized and printed in volumes that specifically targeted lay readers (Prest 1986: 190), while legal language was pervasive in imaginative writing (Cormack 2008, Zurcher 2007, 2010), factors which might have made legal language more accessible to a wider audience than is immediately obvious from the poems in MC15. However, an epigrammatic sonnet by Davies (not included in MC15) suggests he used language in his ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ that he considered to be inaccessible to an untrained reader. The sonnet presents an interaction between its urbane speaker and one Gallas, a name playfully suggestive both of a ‘gallant’ and a ‘gull’, whose conversation is littered with Dutch and militaristic jargon. Davies’ speaker replies with his own legalese:

… to requite such gulling termes as these,
With wordes of my profession I replie:
I tel of foorching, vouchers, counterpleas,
Of Withernames, essoynes, and champartie.
So neyther of us understanding eyther,
We part as wise as when we came together.
(Davies 1975: 139, ll. 9-14)

Two of the more obscure words named ‘gulling termes’, ‘Withernames’ and ‘essoynes’ are found in the ‘Gullinge Sonnet’ above, with ‘withername’ especially important for the final line. It would seem, then, that from Davies’ point of view, then, the language of the parodic sonnet was designed to be almost impossibly dense, without more advanced legal knowledge.

[11] Overall, the two legally-focussed ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ invite us to place MC15 within the reaches of a legally trained reader. Not only is the sonnet extremely rare, it is quite likely to have remained so because of the highly specialist nature of its language and wit. Poems that evoke this culture and language so explicitly are unusual and it is difficult to imagine these poems receiving a wider readership among an audience who were not already fully conversant in its terms.

[12] The other poems in MC15 that give significant evidence through their combination of authorship, institutional interest, and scarcity, are found in a set of twenty-two Martial-style epigrams, attributed in the twentieth century to Benjamin Rudyerd (Sanderson 1966); in MC15 they are anonymous, though the short texts are unified by the title ‘Epigrammes’. Their only other major witness is Rosenbach MS 1083/15 (PRF 15), another manuscript sometimes associated with the Inns of Court. The topics they discuss, along with what we know of their author and circulation, suggest a connection between MC15 and the Inns (and especially the Middle Temple) in or around the 1590s. Many of these cynical short poems could appeal to the broad concerns of educated urban readers, dealing as they do with friendship, manners, learning and love; the epigram was important as a city-based form, in general (Manley 1995: 409-413). However, the special relevance of MC15’s ‘Epigrammes’ for readers from the Inns is marked in the inclusion of four epigrams attacking one ‘Mathon’ – a character usually taken to represent John Davies, who was a major target of satirical attacks between around 1598 and 1603 (Grosart 1873: 1.106; Sanderson 1966; O’Callaghan 2007: 31-32). Where the Rosenbach manuscript only has two epigrams on Mathon (‘Matho the dauncer with the maple face’, and ‘Matho doth all his epigrams compare’, PRF 15: 49), MC15 has four.

[13] MC15’s Mathon poems begin with a joke on his physical ugliness – that when buying a ‘vizard’ in preparation for ‘to revell in a maske’, he cannot tell the difference between his face reflected in the mirrors hanging in the shop, and the masks they are selling (MC15: 57v, ‘In Mathonem. 8 // Mathon, the dauncer wth the maple face’, l. 2). This poem is followed up with an attack against his legal accomplishments:

Mathon hath got the barr and many graces
by studdyinge, noble men, newes, and faces
(MC15, 57v, ‘In eundem. 9.’)

Whatever Mathon’s attainments, they are the results of studying flattery and superficial chatter, instead of the serious matter of the law itself. In the next poem, his work as an epigram writer is criticised, proposing that Mathon’s poorly-observed critical attacks are more suitable for himself than anyone else (MC15 fol 58r, ‘In Eundem. 10. // Mathon doth all his Epigrammes compare’). Finally in this series of criticisms, his unusual walk and revelling are used to outwardly criticise his legal work with a direct address:

Mathon why sholdst thou thincke or Comon Lawe
none can into an ordered method drawe
Since thy rude feete, whose gate confusion wrought
weare by greate paynes to ordered dauncing brought
(MC15, 58r, ‘In eundem. 11.’)

Such jokes on the law and personality need not have been enjoyed only by an audience well-acquainted with the persons involved. But with special emphasis on a shared skill in the law and an observable problem, Davies’ walking, it is easy to imagine these being much more vivid to those in the immediate vicinity of the author and target. Indeed, these jokes seem to have been popular in their context, and similar criticisms were circulated by other authors (Sanderson 1966: 253; Finkelpearl 1969: 53). It is possible to imagine circles of readership taking different things from these poems: those who knew Davies personally; those who may have recognised Mathon as a type of unlikeable lawyer (a familiar figure from verse satire of the period), and those who had no special interest in the law. Nonetheless, as with Davies’ ‘Gullinge Sonnets’, the attacks on Davies in the ‘Epigrammes’ invite us to place the manuscript relatively close to the scene of their action.

[14] The details of MC15’s handwriting allow the ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ and ‘Epigrammes’ to have been copied relatively close to their time of composition. The sonnets are copied in italic, and the epigrams in secretary, but a number of features indicate that both scripts are likely to have been the work of hand A.[6] In general, A seems to have a leading role in the manuscript, appearing at the very beginning of three sections of texts (fols. 1r, 47v, 106r). The majority of hands compile texts that follow after the work of A. Only hand D is otherwise responsible for starting a section of poetry (86r). Regardless of the complex processes that brought MC15 to the state it is in now, A is likely to have contributed texts before anyone else, a hypothesis supported by the early dates of the texts copied by A. Although MC15 includes some texts into the 1620s and 30s, including an elegy on King James from 1625, the latest text A copies is the speech by Richard Martin, on the accession of James in 1603. There is nothing to directly discount A from undertaking its copying in the first years of the seventeenth century, and potentially at a relatively short distance from the authors of MC15’s texts.

[15] The poems by Davies and Rudyerd offer strong evidence for MC15’s connections with some of the most interesting aspects of Inns life around the end of the sixteenth century. In terms of authorship, language, style, and circulation, they are all oriented towards the Inns to an extent that is seldom seen in manuscript texts. The host of other Inns-related texts in MC15 offer much more ambiguous evidence, as we will see through the examples of Hoskyns, Brooke, and Davison.

[16] While MC15 is an important source of John Hoskyns’ poetry, the significance of his poems for the manuscript’s provenance are, again, not obvious. The poems in MC15 attributed to the middle templar John Hoskyns occasionally refer to Inns interests, with one epigram sarcastically satirizing Jonson as ‘Sophocles the great’ (51r), and an epitaph attributed to ‘Mr Hoskynes: medy Tempi’ (96v).[7] However, most of the lyrics, epigrams, and epitaphs attributed to Hoskyns in MC15 engage very little with intellectual or cultural interests particular to the Inns. Some of his poems in the MS are unique, such as the poem ‘If life be time yt here is spent’ (51r) and three short epitaphs. Others, such as the lyric ‘you nimble dreames wth cobweb winges’ (51v) can be found in nine copies, and the epitaph on a bellows maker (96v) seems to have had an almost unlimited circulation. Yet given the topical accessibility of his verse, even the poems unique to MC15 might have had a much wider dissemination.

[17] Two hands copy Hoskyns’ poetry: hand D, who transcribed lyrics and epigrams towards the start of the manuscript’s first poetry section (51r-52v), and hand A, who copied epitaphs later in the manuscript (96v-97v). Both copied texts in continuous stints, suggesting that the Hoskyns poems here could have been copied from other existing collections. Both hands are keen to attribute texts to Hoskyns, whether as ‘J: Hoskins’, ‘J H’, or ‘eundem’ among the short epitaphs. However, these attributions are often difficult to take as read. One poem, ‘Put of thy buskins Sophocles the greate’, is attributed elsewhere to ‘I D’ (PRF15, fol. 12) and printed in Henry Parrot’s Laquei Ridiculosi (1613) – in her edition of Hoskyns, Louise Osborn included this poem among those of ‘doubtful’ attribution (1937: 299-300). Another two (‘Who would live in others breath’ (book 7, epigram 35) and ‘And was not death a lusty strugler’ (book 6, epigram 29)) appear in Chrestoleros, the 1598 collection of epigrams by Hoskyns’ Winchester school contemporary, Thomas Bastard – an attribution accepted by Louis Osborn (1937: 220). Others are simply difficult to verify, and in six cases MC15 offers the only recorded attribution to Hoskyns.[8] The epitaph on a bellows maker was so widely circulated, with attributions of authorship so variable, it is difficult to authoritatively assign it to anyone. Overall, the evidence given here is problematic because we have no real way of testing its reliability. The compilers seem to have been interested in Hoskyns’ name, but may not have been close enough to him to know for sure whether one text was actually his product or not. As close as the manuscript seems to the legal world represented in the sonnets and epigrams, the poetry of Hoskyns does less to assure us of that early provenance.

[18] Another pair of suggestive but problematic texts are two elegies written by the major Lincoln’s Inn figure Christopher Brooke: in memory of Elizabeth Crofts, the wife of Charles Crofts, who died in 1597 (95r) and of Merialis Crompton, who died in 1600 (95v). The poem for Elizabeth Crofts was once displayed at a church in London (Stow & Strype 1720: 2.65; the church was rebuilt in 1792), so could have received a public readership that way; however, MC15 preserves the only known manuscript copies of both poems, where they are attributed to ‘C. B.’. The families Brooke was addressing here were patrons of his, and had roots outside of London: the Cromptons hailed from Yorkshire, Brooke’s native country, while the Crofts were East Anglian. Charles Crofts was born in Ixworth Thorpe, Suffolk (a few miles to the east of Bury St Edmunds) in 1545, and kept up a connection to the area throughout his life: after his death in 1616, a memorial was put up in the church at Ixworth. The poem is manifestly a ‘London’ poem, and could well have circulated in the capital, but other than the author, there is nothing to connect it back to the Inns of Court environment.

[19] The poems of Brooke, Hoskyns, Davies, and Rudyerd all suggest that MC15 is linked, however ambiguously, to a relatively specific historical moment. MC15’s copies of seven metrical psalms by Frances and Christopher Davison (112v-118v) are slightly different. Although Frances had been at Gray’s Inn between 1593 and 1595, he wrote his psalms at least sixteen years after leaving, in 1611 and 1612 (Bod. Rawl D 316, fols. 122r-128v). These would only be meaningful as ‘Inns of Court texts’, then, if the social circles operating at the Inns in the 1590s persisted decades later. The psalms themselves are influenced by the Sidneian models (Sidney 2009: xvii), and have little that obviously attaches them to the Inns of Court. However, they do survive in later copies made in the 1620s by Ralph Crane, whose acquisition of manuscript texts has sometimes been associated with the Inns (Wilson 1929: 199; Burke & Ross 2001: 150; Woudhuysen 1996: 193). It is possible that the copies in MC15 were made at a similar time to Crane’s. Copied into the miscellany by hand E, the third most extensive hand of the manuscript (behind A and D), E’s more extensive contributions generally come at the very end of major sections of texts, as though it was following on from sections and patterns established by other compilers. E copies texts into MC15 from as early as 1603, but their transcription of the psalms are immediately adjacent to their transcription of parliamentary tracts from 1621. Overall, the Davison psalms offer tantalizing evidence, since they rarely survive in copies from manuscript miscellanies.[9] However, the chain that links them back to the Inns – both biographically and textually – is so convoluted that using the poems to link MC15 to the Inns is difficult.

[20] A provisional link between MC15 and the Inns is based on strong and unusual evidence, and supported more loosely in a number of ways. Even if much of the content in MC15 is not obviously bound by an institutional setting, enough is distinctly evocative of a particular environment that an ‘Inns of Court’ narrative is highly persuasive. However, one set of texts in MC15 offers very different kinds of narrative and connections: the poetry of Henry Gurney. Gurney’s poems are found around the middle of MC15’s main poetry section, when the style of entries makes an unexpected change, shifting from metaphysical, urbane, and metropolitan texts to those that are overtly didactic, practical, and rural. After poems by Donne, Jonson, Ralegh and a libel on Frances Howard, the collection suddenly features a long poem about the perils that may face families and ‘The chiefest meanes yt houses overthrowe’ (69r-v), another ‘Of Prodigall or Couetous / Wch is the more iniurious’ (70r). These poems by Gurney go on and on, covering topics like astrology, animals, seasons, advice on wives, family government, and general manners and conduct, in a way that would be most at home among the readings of Thomas Tusser ventured in early modern ‘household books’ (May & Marotti 2014: 9-10).

[21] The creative and critical writings of this amateur poet have only recently re-surfaced through Steven May’s work on Gurney’s manuscript in the Tanner collection (May 2005: 186-7). Gurney wrote poetry during the 1590s – having started writing poetry aged 43 – at the manor of Great Ellingham, Norfolk, just under 20 miles south west of Norwich, around 100 miles north east of London. He circulated his poetry and lent his books to a circle of least two dozen people living around him, the most distant being some 30 miles away in Suffolk (May 2005: 198-201, 223, appendix II). Outside of MC15, Gurney’s poems are only found in his own personal notebook, though other copies were produced at some point; Gurney himself prepared copies of his poetry for friends and relatives. As May records, the long section of Gurney’s verse in MC15 derives from poems ‘scattered’ across Gurney’s anthology, and represents thirteen out of the seventeen agricultural poems found there (May 2005: 202; Bod. Tanner 175, fols. 49v-232v). The copies of Gurney’s poems in MC15 are carefully executed, and represent a version of these poems that appears more coherent and organized than their ‘originals’. This suggests that there are likely to be some intermediaries between Gurney’s own manuscript and MC15, sorting the difficult verse into more orderly forms. Gurney himself may have had a correspondent in London (May 2005: 198), providing a way to transmit his verse to the capital.

[22] The handwriting of Gurney’s texts in MC15 invites two observations: that the poems were copied by one of the hands which was integral to the development of the manuscript; and that they could have been copied much later than their comoposition. Gurney’s poetry was copied into MC15 in a neat and precise shift of hand D. D’s contributions are quite varied in background and dating. They include the lyrics by John Hoskyns, among others; Latin epitaphs, anti-libels on the death of Robert Cecil in 1612 (98v); and one of the later texts in the manuscript, a copy of the elegy on King James, ‘All that haue eyes now wake & weepe’ (100v). The copyist of Gurney in MC15 is not an outsider to the manuscript, but a contributor of importance to the overall character of the collection.

[23] Although Gurney’s poetry originated outside the capital, and was most likely intended for a rural audience, the presence of his poetry in MC15 does not necessarily contradict the manuscript’s associations with the Inns. The Inns did generate poetry and writing aimed at specific groups of readers, but they also assimilated influences from all over the country. Different Inns attracted students from different parts of England (Finkelpearl 1969:7), and provincial figures could occupy significant positions in the cultural life of the Inns: the Prince of Purpoole for the 1594/5 revels at Grey’s Inn was Henry Helmes, ‘A Norfolk-Gentleman’ (Gesta Grayorum 1688: 2). Alternatively, members from the country could be treated contemptuously, as in John Davies’ epigram on a law student’s visit to a bear-garden, after which he appears ‘like his Fathers cuntrey hall, / Stinking with dogges, and muted all with haukes’ (Davies 1975: 148, ll. 9-10). As much as this satirist saw a division between the urban and the rural, it nonetheless shows that the Inns were a place that could accommodate influences from all over the country. Even if their physical geography was limited, it may not have been unusual for the Inns to be a forum for circulating poems by an author from a long way outside their confines.

[24] A description of MC15 as an Inns manuscript could be adequate for the varied contents it includes. However, the external evidence surrounding the manuscript shows that MC15’s contents could be the result of a more geographically varied history of ownership and use. In particular, the interest MC15 has in Norfolk texts could be related to its ownership within the Norfolk area during the seventeenth century. This could mean that the manuscript was not just an interesting documentation of a kind of ‘melting pot’ in London, but more immediately embodies connections between texts and a variety of places. The history of the manuscript’s ownership has never been investigated, no doubt partly owing to the lack of obvious provenance information. The personal identities of MC15’s earliest owners, scribes, or readers, are unknown; whatever information the original binding or flyleaves might have carried was removed by re-binding some time in the nineteenth century. Even in the early 1870s the manuscript’s editor knew nothing more of its origins than we do now (Grosart 1873: 1.iv). However, a more circumstantial method of enquiry, placing MC15 in context with other manuscripts once owned by Richard Farmer, shows that a non-metropolitan ownership for MC15 during the seventeenth century is viable.

[25] MC15 was one of seven manuscripts that came to Chetham’s Library from the collection of Richard Farmer (1735-97).[10] Farmer held positions as master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Librarian of the Cambridge University Library. In his private life he collected books extensively, especially early modern poetry (Lloyd 1977: 532), an interest that was manifest in his Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare of 1767 (Sherbo 1992). Although most of his personal collection was of printed books, he also owned many manuscripts, which took up 101 lots in his posthumous sale catalogue in comparison to the 8001 printed lots. Such figures only offer an approximation of the shape of the collection, as the lots are sometimes vaguely described and may refer to multiple items (1977: 535). Two of the seven manuscripts that came to Chetham’s are collections of verse from the early seventeenth century broadly similar to MC15 (A.4.16 and A.3.47). Another is a collection of satires written and collected by Oliver le Neve from the 1660s (A.4.14). The final three are medieval manuscripts: a collection of thirteen poems from the late fifteenth century, including the Ipomadom (A.6.31); a collection of prose works including one by Jacobus de Cessolis (A.4.102); and an Italian copy of the third century historian Justin’s epitome of Pompeius Trogus (A.6.88).[11]

[26] The exact route the seven manuscripts took between the Farmer sale in May 1798 to Chetham’s Library is not known. In two surviving annotated copies of Bibliotecha Farmeriana, the sale catalogue of Farmer’s collection produced by Thomas King, the lots containing those manuscripts now at Chetham’s are listed as sold to ‘Leigh and Sotheby’ (including Bibliotecha Farmeriana 1798: §8053, 8062, 8055, 8075, and 8091).[12] ‘Leigh and Sotheby’ are also given as the buyers of another four manuscript lots that did not come to Chetham’s (Bibliotecha Farmeriana 1798: §8031, 8070, 8072, 8078), and they did not purchase any printed material in the sale. Commenting on the marked up catalogues, Neil Ker suggested that the company were ‘presumably acting for Chetham’s Library’ (Ker 1983: 394 n2), though there is no known tradition of Sotheby’s acting directly on behalf of third-party bidders.[13] Leigh and Sotheby were expanding their business capacities considerably in the 1790s, so it seems slightly surprising that they would be going after items like these in a rather piecemeal fashion. Wherever the manuscripts went after the Thomas King sale, they had arrived in Chetham’s by 1826, when the library’s catalogue of manuscripts was printed.

[27] These manuscripts realised very mixed prices at Farmer’s sale. The two lots that between them contained the four early modern manuscripts were sold for £1 3s (§8053) and £1 5s (§8056); and for two of the medieval manuscripts, £1 2s (§8003), and £1 9s (§8075). By comparison, the Ipomadon manuscript was very costly – at 14 guineas, the most expensive item of the sale. This potentially represents a kind of purchasing tactic by the Leigh and Sotheby buyer; maybe the Ipomadon was what drew them to the sale in the first place, these manuscripts could have been picked up as interesting bargains worth buying at their inexpensive price.

[28] Three of the Farmer manuscripts at Chetham’s, including MC15, carry no evidence for their point of acquisition by Farmer. It is difficult to trace Farmer’s sources or purchasing patterns in general (McKitterick 1986: 2.306, 326; Lloyd 1977: 526), but the various marks of ownership in four of the manuscripts give enough information to identify some of his sources and antecedents. Many of the owners of the Ipomadom manuscript (A.6.31) left their names on the flyleaf: it was owned in 1598 by the judge and antiquary Peter Manwood, who lived in Hackington, Kent, before his death in 1625 (Knafla 2008). The manuscript had been passed to a J. Hardres by 1732, possibly through a family connection in the Canterbury area – Sir Thomas Hardres (1609/10-1681) had married the widow of Peter Manwood of Sandwich in 1651 (a different Peter than the marked owner of the manuscript; Handley 2008). The Anglo-Saxonist Bryan Faussett (1720-1776) was the next owner, who having lived much of his life in Heppington, Kent, just two miles from the Hardres family home in Upper Hardres, again probably acquired the manuscript through a local connection. Farmer finally bought it at the sale of Dr John Monro’s library in April 1792, lot 3399 (Ker 1983: 364). A final inscription is made by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillips, who also wrote down his guess at the date of the manuscript.

[29] One of the early seventeenth century verse miscellanies in the collection (MS A.4.16) gives useful ownership information. The inside cover features the distinctive signature of Thomas Martin (1697-1771), the book collector, who spent much of his life in Norfolk (Stoker 1991: 90). The 1826 Chetham’s catalogue indicates that the same signature is found in another of the Farmer miscellanies (A.3.47), though the actual inscription is now obscured by the library’s bookplate. Another of the Farmer manuscripts can be very plausibly placed in Thomas Martin’s possession: MS A.4.14, a book of original and copied Restoration satires, ‘collected & written’ by Oliver Le Neve (1662-1711). Oliver Le Neve’s better-known brother, the herald and antiquary Peter Le Neve (1661-1729) had a significant connection with Thomas Martin. In his teens, Martin became close friends with Peter Le Neve, some thirty years his senior (Woodcock 2008). This friendship eventually led to Martin’s appointment as the executor of Le Neve’s will (Stoker 1991: 94-5). After Peter Le Neve’s death in 1729, a good portion of his library was sold at an auction in which Martin made significant purchases (Stoker 1991: 97). Most of the remainder of Le Neve’s collection that was not put up for auction consisted of manuscript collections relating to the history of Norfolk. Le Neve had wanted these to be placed at public disposal, however, as David Stoker writes, ‘with no individual having any claim on the ownership, they were gradually amalgamated into Martin’s own library and all thought of their being housed in a public repository was soon forgotten’ (Stoker 1991: 98). That process of amalgamation was conveniently eased along by Thomas Martin’s marriage to Le Neve’s widow in January 1732.

[30] I have not found a record of the Oliver Le Neve volume in his brother’s collection: the sale catalogue of Peter Le Neve’s library (a copy of which was owned by Farmer, Bibliotheca Farmeriana, 1798: §102) is given largely to antiquarian records, both in print and manuscript, with no descriptions that approximate Oliver’s book of satires (A Catalogue, 1730/31). However, it is reasonable to suppose that A.4.14 was transmitted to Martin’s ownership via Peter Le Neve, through Martin’s underhand amalgamations. For this Farmer-Chetham manuscript, there is a plausible provenance trail that runs from an original owner, through to its current repository. This means that three of the four early modern manuscripts that came to Chetham’s could have been bought by Farmer as a lot, united by their shared Norfolk provenance. It is difficult to trace Martin’s point of acquisition of these manuscripts, as they are not obviously described in his posthumous sale catalogues – entries marked ‘Common Place Book’, ‘Latin and English verses’, ‘Old Poetry Temp. James I’ might hold answers, but could also be red herrings (A Catalogue Library of Mr. Thomas Martin 1772: § 85-89, 117, 90, 94 respectively). However, the locus of Thomas Martin and Norfolk is further supported through internal evidence in the contents of one of the Martin-Farmer-Chetham manuscripts, an octavo miscellany of English and Latin verse, prose, and other notes (A.3.47). This collection includes a Latin poem on Richard Redmayne, LLD, the chancellor of Norwich who died in 1625, a relative of the Bishop of Norwich William Redman (A.3.47: 32v); and an undated petition to the Bishop of Norwich from someone with the initials ‘A.B.’, resident of Wreningham, about the possible annexation of nearby Ashwellthorpe. Wreningham is 8.5 miles south west of Norwich, with neighbouring Ashwellthorpe a mile or so further. The detail of this latter petition especially, which gives a detailed summary of the charges that a dispensation would incur, seems unlikely to have circulated widely outside of the author’s most immediate circle. While the manuscript contains a number of texts that would have circulated more widely in London, such as a paradox by Donne (A.3.47: 25v-26r) and a libel on Buckingham (A.3.47: 1r-2r), some kind of origin in the Norfolk area seems highly likely. Meanwhile, A.4.16 seems more likely to have been written in the vicinity of Cambridge, though some of its contents are inclined towards East Anglia; for example, in poems addressed to and signed from Francis Beddingfield (A.4.16: 33-34), who may have grown up in Hales before going to Cambridge in 1607 (Venn 1922-1927 [1922]: 1.124); and elegies on Edward Eldrington, from Suffolk, who died at Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, in May 1603.

[31] Overall, the Martin-Farmer-Chetham manuscripts offer a tantalizing possibility for MC15. Two of the manuscripts (A.4.14 and A.3.47) have strong connections with Norfolk going back to their first compilation. Those two were then collected by Thomas Martin, together with another miscellany (A.4.16). These three manuscripts were bundled together with MC15 by the time of Farmer’s sale. It is likely that they all came together to Farmer from Martin, as Farmer was not a repeated collector of these kind of books. If MC15 had been owned by Martin, as is quite likely, it is possible that it was initially acquired by Martin within the Norfolk area.

[32] This opens up the possibility that MC15 was actually owned and compiled in a similar area to that in which Henry Gurney was active. In this case, London becomes rather less important. Instead of being a London-based collection that happened to take an interest in texts from further afield, MC15 could be a record of metropolitan texts compiled by someone whose life was primarily based outside the capital.


[33] This article has attempted to establish a historically plausible context for reading the manuscript miscellany MC15. Given the patchy evidence for the early provenance of this manuscript, it is difficult to put forward hypotheses for the identity of its earliest compilers or owners. It is no surprise that most commentators have identified it with a primary metropolitan context, as some of its content points so clearly towards the Inns. Studying the literary evidence shows how the manuscript includes poems whose intended readership was likely to have been very narrow, limited to those with the social and intellectual interests of legally-trained members of the Inns of Court. The limits of the actual readership of those texts might be further demonstrated by the very few copies that survive today; the fact of their survival in MC15 may suggest that these copies of ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ and ‘Epigrammes’ might have been transcribed close to the original time and place of their composition. On top of these poems, MC15 includes a host of texts that could more loosely support a link between the manuscript and authors from the Inns of Court. With all these texts making the case for a distinctly urban and institutional context, it is difficult to know what to do with the manuscript’s inclusion of a long section of poetry by Henry Gurney, whose rural interests could hardly be further from the wit and satire of urban verse which characterises much of the collections in MC15. 

[34] The provenance trail of MC15 offers one explanation for its inclusion of the Gurney poetry. When we trace the manuscript’s ownership prior to its arrival at Chetham’s Library in the early nineteenth century, London does not appear as its likely point of origin. Instead, it seems likely that MC15 entered the book trade in Norfolk, suggesting that its earliest owners had strong connections with the area. What we know of MC15’s provenance could encourage us to think of Gurney’s poetry as representative of the social background from which the anthology emerged, rather than as a strange exception in an urban collection.

[35] Studying MC15’s ownership may offer alternative contexts for its earliest compilation, but the host of literary and bibliographic evidence associated with the manuscript does not combine in such a way that conveniently reveals a single limited context for its earliest production. Norfolk and London both come forward as potentially significant regions. Yet evaluating this body of evidence on its own could fall prey to the fallacy that manuscript anthologies were ‘copied by one person from one source in sequence over a relatively short and continuous period’, a problem necessarily addressed by Ernest Sullivan (1993: 289). Nothing could be further from the truth in the case of MC15, whose handwriting shows it to be a manuscript copied by several people, from many sources, over a potentially protracted period of time.

[36] The material history of MC15 means that the whole project of locating MC15 in a specific time and place could be based on a mistaken premise. The compilation of MC15 in fits and starts means that there would have been plenty of opportunities for the book to move around in the process; and to identify one single institution or place as proper to the manuscript would ignore the very real possibility that it moved around. Thus, while we cannot disregard the significant influence the Inns of Court had in forming this particular collection, they are most relevant as one element in the historical narrative of MC15’s production.

[37] Even with the evidence surveyed in this essay, it is difficult to sketch a fully satisfactory narrative for the way the manuscript came to be as it is now. Without information that unambiguously links the manuscript to any specific figures, dates, or places, the way we make connections remains challenging. A narrative for MC15’s context should involve London, the Inns and Norfolk, in some combination. The book could have been owned by a London-based lawyer, whose anthology just happens to be better than others in representing the full range of texts available to people associated with the Inns. Alternatively, it could have been the property of a Norfolk-based law student, who spent much of his time in the capital, but necessarily returned home to family interests there. Or it could have been the product of a well-connected Norfolk resident, whose contacts enabled him to acquire popular and hard-to-find texts circulating in London. 

[38] This article is not able to fully close down on these possibilities: but it is important that the existing evidence clearly makes us raise these questions at all. MC15 points to a range of connections which helped produce the manuscript, one way or another. Any narrative must deal with the fact that there are several poles around which MC15 can be seen to operate, showing the capital was only one centre among many for manuscript circulation. As such, a typology for manuscript miscellanies based principally on London institutions is insufficient to describe the richness and variety of ways in which texts were disseminated, collected, and read in the early seventeenth century. 

Appendix 1: The hands and contents of Chetham’s Library MS A.4.15

Appendix 1: The hands and content of Chetham’s Library MS A.4.15

Appendix 1: The hands and content of Chetham’s Library MS A.4.15

Appendix 2: Scribe A in Chetham’s Library MS A.4.15

The copying of the ‘Gullinge Sonnets’ was done in an elegant script that is not found elsewhere in MC15. However, there are good reasons to suppose that the scribe responsible for the sonnets was the same as that of hand A, the mixed secretary that copies a great deal of prose and poetry throughout the manuscript. The dedicatory sonnet to Anthony Cooke (48r) uses an ‘M’ (as in ‘Muse’) very similar to that of ‘My Ladye Rich’ (58v), with an ‘I’ much like that from ‘Ireland’ (28r). That end of that sonnet is also marked with a curlicue, in much the same way as was used amongst A’s prose. Further comparisons are worth drawing with the hand of the sonnets with that of the ‘Epigrammes’, whose slightly rushed secretary script is very likely to be hand A. This is marked by its use of italics for headings and emphasis in the body text (58v, 57r, 59r), a majuscule ‘E’ made of two interlocking ovals (57r and 13v), and the use of a curlicue (60r). In both sonnets and epigrams, an unusual form of ‘g’ is used, with the descending bowl preceded by a sharp joint (as in 48r); on which, see also ‘In Norgum’ (59r).

Appendix 3: Farmer manuscripts at Chetham’s Library, Manchester

Appendix 3: Farmer manuscripts at Chetham’s library, Manchester.


[1] My research on this article was assisted immeasurably by the staff of Chetham’s library, especially Michael Powell and Jane Muskett; I am also very grateful for encouragement and comments on earlier drafts by Lucy Munro, Naomi Baker, Steven May, Laura Swift, and the meticulous anonymous reviewers for JNR.[back to text]

[2] These include Philadelphia, Rosenbach MS 1083/15; British Library MSS Add. 21433, Add. 25303 and Sloane 3910; and Bodleian MS Add. B. 97.[back to text]

[3]Appendix 1 gives fuller details about the hands and content of MC15. The hands of MC15 are complex, but in several specific cases are of immediate relevance to the concerns of this article. As such I will pay closer attention to issues in hands more fully as relevant in the discussion of texts.[back to text]

[4] The text by Martin is the only one whose wide dissemination has not been comprehensively demonstrated; as well as its printings in 1603, manuscript copies can be found in SPD 14/1/71; BL Add. MS 25707; and BL Egerton MS 2877. Add. MS 15903 is a collection of Norfolk MSS showing something of the geographical range of the text.[back to text]

[5] Transcriptions from MC15 are my own.[back to text]

[6] For a full defence of this position, see appendix 2. Even if these scripts are regarded as the work of two separate scribes, the two scribes collectively enjoy the joint primacy that I attribute to just one figure.[back to text]

[7] On the connections of Ben Jonson to the Inns, see O’Callaghan 2007: 35–59[back to text]

[8]This is based on a combination of Osborn, and of firstlines.folger.edu.[back to text]

[9] The only psalm attributed to Davison that circulated more widely in miscellanies was 137, not included in MC15, which Lara Crowley (2008) has re-attributed to Donne.[back to text]

[10] See appendix 3 for a list of these manuscripts.[back to text]

[11] The Chetham’s Library handlist of manuscripts has previously suggested that the Farmer collection includes several books of miscellaneous poetry from the eighteenth century (MSS A.4.7-A.4.13). This is a mistake, likely to have arisen by a carelessly extended line in the handlist made by the librarian Charles Phillips in July 1925: see Chetham’s Library, C/LIB/LIST/1/4.[back to text]

[12] Copies of Farmer’s catalogue annotated with buyers and prices are held at Glasgow University Library and at the British Library, S.C. 1048.[back to text]

[13] For discussion of this point I am grateful to Gabriel Heaton and David McKitterick. [back to text]


Manuscripts and specific copies of printed books

Where used, alternative sigla are given in brackets after the full shelf mark.

Glasgow, Glasgow University Library, Bibliotecha Farmeriana

London, British Library MSS Add. 21433, Add. 25303, Sloane 3910; S.C. 1048 (Bibliotecha Farmeriana)

Manchester, Chetham’s Library MSS A.3.47, A.4.7-A.4.14, A.4.15 (MC15), A.4.16, A.4.103, A.6.31, A.6.88 ; MC C/LIB/LIST/1/4

Oxford, Bodleian Library Rawl. D 316; Tanner 175; Add. B. 97

Philadelphia, Rosenbach MS 1083/15 (PRF15)

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