Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 13284
"Word Itself against the Word": Close Reading After Voloshinov
James R. Siemon, Boston University
Every element of form is the product of social interaction.
—V. N. Voloshinov, "Discourse in Life and Discourse in Poetry"
The practice of close reading deserves reconsideration outside the confines of its appropriation by New Criticism and the political agendas to which its foremost American practitioners directed it.1 Provisionally dislodged from its New Critical appropriation and considered according to certain underdeveloped implications of Bakhtinian sociolinguistics, the activity of close reading may yet prove useful to various forms of social analysis while, simultaneously and paradoxically, suggesting a possible alternative to current interpretive modes. Specifically, close reading that investigates the formal elements of texts in the light of socially and historically conjoined "utterances" deserves consideration as a means of pursuing the volatile issue of social-evaluative orientation as defined by the Bakhtin circle.2 Furthermore, a critical practice that would conjoin substantial portions of text with its own critical countertext in a dense encounter modeled on close reading but extending its purview to the noncanonical might offer an alternative to practices that, despite their avowal of "thick description" in principle, often approximate the familiar literary-historical model of critics such as E. M. W. Tillyard in the deployment of minimally contextualized citation and paraphrase. As a practical instance, in the argument that follows I offer a necessarily limited engagement with a nexus of utterances constituted by four textual loci: the famous report of Queen Elizabeth s conversation with William Lambarde in 1601, Shakespeare's Richard II, John Hayward's History of Henry IV, and documents concerning the abortive uprising of the Earl of Essex.
To assume the Bakhtin circle's model of utterance as the basis for analysis is in part to consider certain pragmatic dimensions of any communication, but such considerations are, finally, only components of a more fundamental inquiry into what V. N. Voloshinov calls "evaluative orientation." "No utterance can be put together without value judgment," Voloshinov writes. "Every utterance is above all an evaluative orientation. Therefore, each element in a living utterance not only has a meaning but also a value." In fact, "referential meaning is molded by evaluation; it is evaluation, after all, which determines that a particular referential meaning may enter the purview of speakers."3 This primacy of valuation in determining referential meaning may be seen as at once Marxist and Nietzschean in grounding such evaluation on conflict, on a "constant struggle of accents in each semantic sector of existence."4 Thus, a fundamental constituent of any signifying practice is the product of neither a unitary and stable social "context," since contexts of each utterance "are in a state of constant tension or incessant interaction and conflict," nor of the solitary creative consciousness, as it sometimes appears near to becoming, despite reservations about "completely free combination," in Bakhtin's own more lyrical, phenomenological moments.5 Voloshinov, even in claiming that evaluative orientation "will be the determinative factor in the choice and deployment of the basic elements that bear the meaning of the utterance," insists that the grounds of such choice, like those of all experience, lie wholly on "social territory."6
Despite its crucial importance to any signifying practice, the "evaluative orientation" of the utterance is "least amenable to reification," a volatile "multiaccentuality" which ought to be "closely associated with the problem of multiplicity of meanings."7 For the Bakhtin circle, such volatile phenomena are the very life of everyday discourse. Concrete discourse, as Bakhtin puts it, is populated with devices and deviations resembling those in the most complex verbal art: "We very sensitively catch the smallest...
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shift in intonation, the slightest interruption of voices in anything of importance to us in another person's practical everyday discourse. All those verbal sideward glances, reservations, loopholes, hints, thrusts do not slip past our ear, are not foreign to our own lips."8 Acceptance of such basic priorities of the Bakhtinian metalinguistic enterprise entails recognizing the impossibility of ever coming to definitive and final terms with the warring accents and contexts present within each utterance. Thus, contextualizing might appear all the more nightmarishly difficult the further one moves—semantically, physically, culturally—from the concrete circumstances of utterance. Yet there is at least a provisional ground for optimism, insofar as the great "chain of speech communication" is said to stretch on, generating in the very necessity for "counter word[s]," the potential for new levels of understanding—and, not inconsequentially, misunderstanding.9 To put it another way, considering critical writing as the encounter of utterance with utterance, as an attempt to embed the text's words in its contemporary counterwords as well as in our own paraphrases and indirect locutions, might further an archaelogical inquiry into the emergent and repressed, into those "rhetorical survival skills of the formerly unvoiced," those "lies, secrets, silences, and deflections of all sorts" that Barbara Johnson finds constituting "the routes taken by voices or messages not granted full legitimacy in order not to be altogether lost." At the same time, and nearer to home, such a critical practice might also further disclose—in the silences and indirections of our own struggles with the alien utterance of which we write—the openings and foreclosures we would not or could not name as our own, no matter how rigorous our rituals of self-situation.10 That such a pursuit is posited on failure, on a labor of analysis and response which would be, in Pierre Bourdieu's phrase, "strictly interminable," need not diminish the potential implications of its practice. The attitudes and abilities potentially fostered by a worldly close reading so conceived need justification neither from aestheticism nor from the academy. As Terry Eagleton has asked: why do we assume that acuity and discrimination are any less appropriate to the analysis of that "nuance and particularity" found at large beyond the self-imposed boundaries of traditional literary exegesis and its high aesthetic text?11
In this light, arguments that both New Criticism and deconstruction are premised on related quietisms might appear true but limited. Both movements offered, within certain historical circumstances and in certain versions of their practice, the critical opportunity of surprise. Their power lay in renunciation of one kind of power—the certainties of a dominant historico-literal sense in one case and of culturally dominant binarisms in the other—in order to suggest how little one knew about the "known." If, in their domesticated, institutionalized forms, deconstruction and New Criticism tended to produce predictable instantiations of the already known—in the one case différance, the abyss, and so on, and in the other irony, ambiguity, and paradox—it is far from clear that such a fate is avoidable by any critical movement. If the work of the Bakhtin circle has something to offer, it is not so much a case of something new, of some Utopian escape from the rhythms of institutional appropriation, as a serviceable reminder of unfinalizability, of how much there is always left to be done.12
Amid otherwise appropriate thoughts about loneliness, escape, Fortune, death, identity and timeliness, Shakespeare's Richard II takes a partly extrametrical detour into a discourse on textual interpretation, consciousness, and theology:
And these same thoughts people this little world, In humours like the people of this world; For no thought is contented. The better sort, As thoughts of things divine, are intermix'd With scruples, and do set the word itself Against the word, As thus: "Come, little ones"; and then again, "It is as hard to come as for a camel To thread the postern of a small needle's eye." (5.5.9-17)13
The practice of interpretation is here made to stand synecdochically for thought itself. Consciousness is "like the people of this world" in its fundamental discontent: "For no thought is contented." Even the eternal self-identical significance of the biblical "word itself is said to be subject to this divisive tendency on becoming the object of human cognition.
Within the confines of traditional close reading one might question the credibility of Richard's aporia. The New Critic might discuss intertextuality among canonical Renaissance tragedies and relate Richard's soliloquy to the opening soliloquy of Doctor Faustus. Both assert theological difficulties and buttress the assertion with distorted truncations of familiar biblical quotations. Faustus' "The reward of sin is death" (1.1.40)14 leaves out the rest of Romans 6:23, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," while Richard's instances of divine invitation and rejection do not mention that in the Gospel, "children" are invited to come and a "rich man" is promised difficulty in divine access.
Thus far a relatively intrinsic analysis according to New Critical practice. But to define Richard's problem as an "ironic" misinterpretation revelatory of the "voice" of the "speaker," and to relate it to other instances of "ambiguity" within the play in order to evaluate an overall "tone," would be to limit analysis in a way that would preclude any further sociohistorical definition of that tonality itself—or, rather, tonalities, since tone emerges only amid the differentiation of intonations acting upon one another.
Remarkably, this passage shares the phrase "set the word itself / Against the word" with lines occurring earlier in the Duchess of York's contention with her husband's demand that their son be punished for treason. The Duchess's request that King Henry "pardon" their son meets York's counterword: "Speak it in French, king, say 'pardonne moy,'" to which the Duchess herself counters:
Dost thou teach pardon pardon to destroy? Ah, my sour husband, my hard-hearted lord, That sets the word itself against the word! Speak "pardon" as 'tis current in our land, The chopping French we do not understand. (5.3.118-22)
Here it is the element of intonation which is said to offer the possibility of purposefully, rhetorically setting the word against itself. Under the pressure of conflicting purposes, and with the assistance of differing linguistic usages "current," despite the Duchess's asseverations of national preference, in the England of the 1590s "pardon" can mean either yes or no. In the case of Richard's final soliloquy, by contrast, it is not a rhetorical intonational variance in the spoken word but consciousness itself that, no matter how presumptively unitary its object, betrays an inevitable fractious tendency, setting word against itself.15 One might find various points of agreement and disagreement with the assumptions and values expressed by the Duchess and Richard. The Duchess's assumed agreement among a national speech community that would disallow foreign usage or the "chopping" of a normative sense might appear less than compelling in an England of legal French, humanist Latinism, euphuism, or in a play that abounds in instances of politic ambiguity. But one might also object that a vestigial commitment to the assumption of normative senses operative in something like Stanley Fish's speech communities is what makes York's joke a joke rather than an unmarked alternative to "pardon." Conversly, although Richard's view of interpretation as divisive might be relativized in historical or social terms, his example suggests a more universalized notion such as may be found in Barbara Johnson's pronouncement: "Any utterance, if scrutinized sufficiently, does become problematic, like the dots in a newspaper photograph."16
But the differing treatment accorded by the Folio to Richard's utterance and that of the Duchess does not suggest their being equally problematic. The Folio alters Richard's phrase "the word itself against the word" to "the faith itself against the faith," while leaving the Duchess's utterance unmodified. Perhaps Richard's account of inevitably destabilizing interpretation carries more troublesome extratextual resonances than would a reference to intentional oratorical ambiguity. The Folio relocates divisiveness within the familiar battlefields of institutional division.
So one utterance is altered in print and the other not, though the "word itself is semantically identical in both; yet Richard's utterance is revealing in another way as well. His elliptical utterance is not merely blind to its own creation of the discrepancy between word and word that it articulates insofar as it silently omits the distinction between rich man and child; it is also strategically limited by its abstract phenomenological form. "No thought is contented"—in such a formulation discontent is posited as free of social valuation, as a human characteristic natural to kind and found—slightly differentiated as to its object, perhaps, but equivalent nonetheless—even in "the better sort" of the clerisy. What such a generalized religious or "theoretical" formulation forecloses, of course, is an analysis of the social genesis and intergroup differentiation of entities such as "ambition" or "discontent," or, for that matter, "the word." One might consider the particularly pious quality of "the Word" (cf. Ben Jonson's epigram "On Reformed Gamester") or the embattled status of the practice of biblical interpretation itself in post-Reformation England—quite aside from particular interpretations. "Doe all interpret?" asks Oliver Ormerod in The Picture of a Puritane (1605), his rhetorical question expressing the exasperation of Anglican divines caught between centralized, institutionalized authority, such as is embodied in bishops, convocations, and codified dogma, and the more radical impulses toward dispersion of authority among individual interpretive consciences as sanctioned by the Reformation.17
In its limitations, then, Richard's analysis remains predictive of certain limitations of New Critical or poststructuralist exegesis, but these very limitations might also suggest the potential usefulness of a close reading that would turn its attention laterally to the choice of idiom inhabiting each signifying act. Surrounded by the competing forms and usages of "social heteroglossia," Bakhtin argues, the writer exemplifies the multivocal condition of any utterance: "Consciousness finds itself inevitably facing the necessity of having to choose a language. With each literary-verbal performance, consciousness must actively orient itself amidst heteroglossia, it must move in and occupy a position for itself within it, it chooses, in other words, a 'language.'"18 Yet, to follow this formulation in reducing the encounter with social heteroglossia to the necessity of choice among languages is to accept a potentially limiting line of Bakhtin's own emphases and to risk undercutting Voloshinov's emphasis on form as the interactive expression of group identities, differentiations, and struggles which themselves produce the possibilities that appear as choice.
Every element of the utterance can be considered dialogically addressive and responsive while still by no means to be understood as the exclusive product of some controlling transcendental cogito making its discriminations of finer tones and subtler harmonies and communicating them to an audience unified conceptually by either some shared cultural identity or aesthetically "disinterested" condition. Taken by itself, and despite its insistence on the oppositional elements of communication, the Bakhtinian pronouncement on choice of language might appear to sanction an analysis that would, after the fashion of E. M. W. Tillyard, identify in Richard II the linguistic elements of an official world view—or, as more recent usage might style it, "hegemonic" discourse—rather than attempting to examine the density of the play's social situatedness and the possible angles of its attack and reception within the concrete field of utterances. The "strictly interminable" analytical alternative proposed here would encourage looking closely at the formal elements of the aesthetic text and of the utterances with which that text coexists, agrees, struggles, and takes its very form and shape.
No New Critic himself, Tillyard made much of interconnectedness among texts: Richard II, for example, was said to share a discourse of Tudor providentialism with John Hayward's History of Henry IV. Hayward, Tillyard writes, "deals with history precisely as Shakespeare did," and Tillyard's treatment of this equivalence exemplifies the limitations of approaches that would isolate discourse from close reading of its concrete manifestation as utterance.19 Granting that Hayward's book occasioned his imprisonment, Tillyard reasons that the cause lay in the extrinsic matter of a dedication to the Earl of Essex and in official misinterpretation of a single speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury detailing successful depositions. The content of Hayward's book Tillyard pronounces "perfectly orthodox" (pp. 243-44) in representing Henry Bolingbroke as a usurper and proclaiming providential judgment on his crime. But when Tillyard cites discourse Hayward shares with Shakespeare, he instances "Hayward's solemn setting forth of the prosperity of Edward III and his seven sons" (p. 244) in the initial sentence of his history: "The noble and victorious prince, King Edward the third, had his fortunate gift of a long and prosperous raigne ouer this realme of England, much strengthened and adorned, by natures supply of seven goodlye sonnes."20 Characteristically, Tillyard's attention to content rather than occasion leads him to miss the very features that might warrant contemporary suspicion.
Sir Edward Coke's notes on Hayward's book, titled "his outward pretence and his secret drift" and intended for the author's trial in January 1601, record "a king described by these marks," and first of these is "without children" followed Thus, in by citation from the paragraph Tillyard quotes.21Thus, in Hayward's opening as an utterance rather than according to its "perfectly orthodox" content, there might appear to be one evaluative orientation interfering with another, as Tillyard's grand scheme of Tudor historiographic narrative meets Coke's local sense of the question of the Elizabethan succession. But further analysis of Hayward's utterance as utterance reveals how one discourse may articulate itself in the terms of another. Edward III is called "noble" and "victorious" in the opening sentence of a work that instances the fortunate deposing of his father as the culminating example in the Arch-bishop of Canterbury's attempts to "cleare this action [i.e. usurpation] of rarenesse in other countries; & noueltie in our."
Yet the official treatment accorded Hayward's history might suggest an even closer attention to form and circumstance of articulation, for in all copies of Coke's notes from 1600 to 1601 there survives his exact citation from the opening paragraph: "Neyther armyes nor strongholds are so greate defences to a prince as the multitude of children, forts may decay, forces decrease."22Of course, such a sentence in the form of a general remonstrance to "a prince" concerning the benefits of secure succession might be more offensive to Coke's late Elizabethan official sensitivities than a specific historical reference to, say, Richard's own childlessness; but the concrete circumstances of utterance in 1599-1601 should occasion further consideration.23 References to "decrease" in troop strength and "decay" in material as points of hypothesized weakness in the heirless realm align Hayward's generalized historical apothegm with contemporary sources of fiction. "He presupposed," Coke writes, "that there should be ill success in Ireland he writing his booke in 99 after the archtraitor was in his strenghe."24 From Coke's perspective an utterance framed in a generalized language of mutability (all things are subject to "decrease" and "decay") could appear as a specific prediction that is itself, even in its very conditional form, of things that "may" decay and decrease—in fact a threat: a predicted collapse of Essex's Irish campaign not as a reflection of the weakness of his forces (or of the historical Richard's) but as a threat of potential mutiny led by the Essex faction in their "strenghe" and expressing disaffection (as their failings were pronounced in some circles). The general recommendation to "a prince" thus might appear a threat to this queen and, more specifically, to those Elizabethan officials who had opposed, and would continue to oppose, Essex and certain values with which he was associated.25
This brings us back to Tillyard's first sentence and the epithets "victorious" and "noble" applied to Edward III. The language of Hayward's account of the defeat of Richard II's Irish expedition attracts Coke's attention in his notes and in the actual proceedings against Hayward, but in both cases it is a connection between military failure and social division that Coke focuses upon. Coke's fragmentary notes read: "Many succors sent but scatteringly and droppinge, and neuer so many as were able to furnishe the warres if anything were attempted happely acheued by any of the nobilitie it was by the kings base ha[.]"26 Which leads to this in the manuscript record of Hayward's interrogation: "And also that he [Hayward] gathered out of the actions of that king recorded by Walsingham that matters of peace were managed by menne of weakest sufficiency by whose counsell either ignorant or corrupt.… That the kings counsel accounted ancient nobilitie a vaine iest wealth and virtue the ready means to bring to destruction which complaynt is extant in Hall and Polydore Virgili & many other wrighters."27 These observations are gathered from a passage in Hayward's book in which England's military failure is said (by the Archbishop of Canterbury) to exemplify its pitiful state—"a pitty to our friends, and a verie ieast to our most base and contemptible enemies"—a state resulting from the fact that
all our diligent and discreete leaders (the verie sinewes of the field) are either put to death, or banished, or els lie buried in obscurity and disgrace: and the marshalling of all affaires is committed (without any respect of sufficiency or desert) to the counsaile & conduct of those, who can best apply themselues to the Kings youthfull delights. Among these, auncient nobility is accompted a vaine ieast, wealth, and vertue are the ready meanes to bring to destruction.28
Thus, in terming Edward HI victorious and noble, Hayward merely retails historical "fact"—Edward's victories and birth being public knowledge—and simultaneously positions the values Edward stands for as a positive ideal precisely in opposition to that "base" faction controlling King Richard to the hindrance of "auncient nobility," "wealth," "vertue" and martial distinction. In this process, Hayward might well appear to Coke to enlist Edward III in a socially defined division of strategic import to Elizabeth's own day. Read closely and laterally, considered as an utterance in struggle with other utterances, Hayward's "perfectly orthodox" discourse betrays complicating fissures and discrepancies in evaluative orientation and allegiance.
Related complications riddle a text frequently appropriated in more recent scholarship. Arguably the most widely cited "historical evidence" in discussions relating Elizabethan theater and society, the account of William Lambarde's exchange with Queen Elizabeth in East Greenwich dated August 4, 1601, has established itself as a documentary lynchpin of various readings. A reading that is at once close and laterally conjoined, however, suggests interesting potentials in this commonplace matter of truncated citation.
Most frequently cited as a single phrase—Elizabeth's "Know ye not that I am Richard II"—which is often conjoined with her subsequent observation, "This tragedy has been played forty times in open streets and houses," the anecdote has been enlisted as, in Walter Cohen's words, "historical evidence that such apparently orthodox plays as Richard II" seem to have "deeply troubled the Elizabethan and Jacobean upper classes."29 Even when it has been evoked more fully, little attention has been given to potentially interesting features of the text taken as utterance, and above all to the evaluative orientations detectable in its formal and semantic features.30
Calling itself a "copy" of Lambarde's conversation with Elizabeth, and dated in the month of his death, the document represents Lambarde's presentation of the "Pandectae of all her Rolles, Bundles, Membranes and Parcells that bee repoased in her Maties Tower at London."31 Elizabeth accepts the work "chearefully" a per and sonal gratitude that is instanced as expressing a royal personalism: "You intended to present this Booke unto mee by the Countice of Warwicke, but I will none of that, for—if any subject of myne doe mee a Service, I will thankfully accept it from his owne hands." Then she reads and questions: "Then openinge the Booke, sayes, 'you shall see that I cann reade'; and soe, with an audible Voice, read over the Epistle, and the Title soe readily and distinctly poynted, that it might perfectly appeare, that shee well understood and conceaved the same." Although Elizabeth's readerly competence is remarked, a major component of the anecdote consists of her queries and Lambarde's explications.
Of the first page, Elizabeth "demaunded the meaninge of Oblata, Cartae, Litterae clausae et Litterae Patentes, " and Lambarde dutifully responds: "WL Hee severally expounded the Meaninge and layed out the true Differences of every of them; her Matie seeminge well satisfied, sayd that she would bee a Scholler in her Age, and thought it noe scome to leame during her Life, being of the Minde of that Philosopher, who in his last yeares begann with the Greeke alphabet." After this initial exposition of terms and her reported self-characterization as perpetual scholar, unmindful of "scome" from antihumanists, "shee proceeded to further pages, and asked (where she found cause of Stay) as were meant by Ordinationes, Parliamenta, Rotulus Cambii, and Rediseisnes?" It is these terminological queries that immediately bracket the famous self-comparison:
WL Hee likewise expounded all these to theire originali Diversities, which she took in gratious and full satisfaction—Soe her Matie fell upon the Reigne of King Rich. 2d sayinge, "I am Richard 2d." know ye not that?
WL—Such a wicked Immagination was determined and attempted by a most unkind Gent, the most adorned Creature that ever yr Matie made.
Her Matie—Hee that will forgett God, will also forgett his Benefactor; this Tragedie was played 40tie times in open Streets and Houses.
Her Matie then demanded, what was Praestita?
Abruptly the anecdote "then" returns to terminology, yet the conversation is not easily segmented; it is marked throughout by recurrences.
Lambarde's explanation of Praestita as "Monies lent by her Progenitors to their subjects for theire Good, but with assurance of good bond for repayment" occasions the first return to Richard II, by way of a remark concerning Henry VII: "Her Matie Soe did my good Grandfather Kinge Henry the 7th sparinge to dissipate his Treasure or Lands.—Then returninge to Richard 2d. shee demaunded whither I hadd seene any true Picture or lively Representation of his countenance or Person?" Upon Lambarde's remarking that he had seen "none but such as be in common Hands," Elizabeth mentions a portrait found in a "back room" that she has been requested to relocate "in order with my Auncestors and Successors" and says it will be shown to him. This is followed by another apparent change of subject: "Then she proceeded to Rolles." But the conversation circles once more, for Elizabeth returns to the terms immediately preceding her first turn to Richard II when, apparently unprompted, she "then" restates her understanding of "Rediseisnes " : "Her Matie then demaunded againe if Rediseisnes were not unlawfull and forcible throwinge of men out of their lawfull Possessions?" Lambarde's confirmation of this understanding, occasions her final historical assessment:
WL Yea, and therefore, these be the Rolles of Fines, Assesses and Levies uppon such Wrong Dooers, as well for the great and willfull Contempt of the Crowne and Royall Dignitie, as Disturbance of Common Justice.
Her Matie—In those Days Force and Armes did prevaile, but now the Witt of the Foxe is every wheare on foote, soe as hardly a faithful or vertuouse Man may bee found. Then came shee to the whole totali of all the Membranes and Parcells aforesaid, amounting to [blank space] commendinge the Worke, not only for the Paynes therein taken, but alsoe for that she had not receaved since her first comminge to the Crowne any one thinge that brought therewith soe great Delectation unto her; and soe beinge called away to Prayer, she put the Booke in her Bosome, having forbidden mee from the first to the last, to fall uppon my Knee before her, concludinge—"Farwell, good and honest Lambarde "!
It is arguable that "those Days" in this paragraph constitutes another return to Richard II, since Lambarde had elsewhere written of the seizure of real property in Richard's day.32 Most clearly, however, the past is characterized by Elizabeth as exhibiting public, open violence of "Force and Armes" which "now" has been replaced by the covert "Witt of the Foxe" which "every wheare" corrupts the virtues of individuals and their bonds of faith. That past, as well as this present, are both constructed in opposition to "good and honest Lambarde." And here are places as good as any to pursue evaluative orientations and social heteroglossia: oppositions of now and then, of open and covert, of a good, honest individual and omnipresent foxlike wit, to be sure, but also discrepancies among languages that are not reducible to oppositions—discursive heterologies, for example, between her account of Essex's "tragedy" and his references to the "wicked Immagination" of an "unkind Gent" and "adorned Creature."
If "now" is taken to be August 1601 rather than simply in the wake of the Essex rebellion, then a rather specific light is cast on Elizabeth's self-identification. Furthermore, if Lambarde is taken to be the bureaucrat and judicial reformer, writer of legal and parliamentary history, Protestant activist, and Cecil adherent rather than mere "antiquary," then yet other implications of that identification and of the "Tragedie" that was "played 40tie times in open Streets and Houses" bid for attention."33
In August 1601 Hayward's continuing imprisonment demonstrated that there could be infelictous responses to a royal self-identification with Richard II—especially when an interlocutor shared Hayward's politically sensitive profession of historian. Although Lambarde's response appears to avoid problems—"WL Such a wicked Immagination was determined and attempted by a most unkind Gent, the most adorned Creature that ever yr Matie made"—it is not allowed to stand without recasting by Elizabeth: "Hee that will forgett God, will also forgett his Benefactor; this Tragedie was played 40tie times in open Streets and Houses." Lambarde's initial response conjoins the languages of legal and ecclesiastical clerisies: his "wicked Immagination" which was "determined and attempted" turns one legal designation of plotting as "imagination" toward what will be the King James Bible's characterization of human sinfulness as the wicked "imagination" of men's hearts and flexes it back again toward the court-room in the lawyerly distinction between intention and action. But his subsequent phrasing offers other, less universalized evaluative orientations. The "wicked Immagination" Lambarde invokes is located neither in man nor in subject but in a doubly superlative epitome, "the most adorned Creature that ever yr Matie made." Here his phrasing follows the well-worn path of antiparasite polemic traditional to commons' complaints concerning courtly dependency. Yet this polemic is embedded in another narrative of much wider application—the dependent "Creature" "made" by the sovereign is an Elizabethan social recasting of the biblical creation narrative in the form of an assumed universality of patron-client vertical dependencies.34 This story, however, commonplace of its age, is repositioned by Elizabeth in a horizontal orbit, as a counterutterance to other utterances adjacent to or even impinging upon it. A trace of these shadow utterances appears in Lambarde's designation of Essex as "a most unkind Gent," an equivocal utterance (like Hamlet's "less than kind") potentially implying individual unkindliness and/or violation of "kind"—an assumed, natural standard of conduct appropriate to a "Gent."
Elizabeth's reply at first appears to preclude such overtly social orientation in that she responds only to the theological discourse in Lambarde's statement, making Essex's wrong and her virtue mere extensions of the larger, depersonalized, timeless, and estateless, indeed actionless, and most human frailty—forgetting God and "Benefactor"—rather than the more specific crimes either of a historically particular "wicked Immagination" and attempt, or of a socially particularized violation of "kind" by a "Gent." Yet the second half of her sentence seems quite specific in time and circumstance: "This Tragedie was played 40tie times in open Streets and Houses." This statement has often been read, of course, as referring to a play, perhaps Shakespeare's, about Richard II.35 If, however, as syntax suggests, Elizabeth is speaking of the tragedy of Essex himself rather than that of Richard, other questions arise. Why might Elizabeth and her interlocutor and/or recorder of the anecdote have chosen to speak of the Essex uprising as a "Tragedie" of ingratitude "played" repeatedly in both "open Streets and Houses"? With and against what utterances might such an utterance take shape?
Seen from the wide perspective of discourse, the anecdote could easily be assimilated to the language of gratitude and ingratitude, benefactor and creature that permeates late Elizabethan official discourse in differing contexts of utterance. In her notes to the so-called Golden Speech to Parliament in 1601, for example, Elizabeth rejoices to be "a Queen over so thankful a people."36 And, of all the matters for which Elizabeth might excoriate the late Philip of Spain in her final speech to the 1601 Parliament, she denounces him as one who "had as many provocations of kindness by my just proceedings, as by hard John measure he hath returned effects of ingratitude."37John Croke's speech before her on October 30 stresses the thankfulness due from her subjects and the likely divine retribution if they begrudge that due.38 Nor is this public discourse discontinous with the terms of private exchanges, as is evident in the correspondence of the Earl of Essex. In his detailed advice for a letter to Elizabeth, Francis Bacon suggests, for example, that Essex explain his motivation for writing as "first and principally gratitude" and that he gently remind her of "anything that hath been grateful to her Majesty from you," while admitting that "princes' hearts are inscrutable."39 The reply framed for Essex employs similarly combined rhetorics of gratitude and religion.40 And yet the Lambarde anecdote is not merely an instantiation of such a culturally hegemonic discourse, nor is it simply expressive of a desire for generous patronage. Features of that discourse's deployment in this utterance, as well as in the exchanges surrounding the Essex affair more generally, register the anecdote's function in constituting a "counter word" addressed to certain other concrete utterances.
Official accounts repeatedly describe the personal threat of the Essex rising to Elizabeth, and in turn subordinate that threat to a larger sin of "ingratitude" to God. These accounts, furthermore, share the anecdote's language of dramatic form in typifying the uprising itself. Elements of this official line—with one noteworthy occlusion shared by the Lambarde anecdote—are exemplified in the accusations brought against Sir Christopher Blunt, who is said to be more culpable for conspiring against the "queen herself than against the "State," and more heinous still for manifesting "ingratitude against God" in seeking "toleration of religion." Blunt's intention, furthermore, is said to have involved a resemblance to the "story of Richard II," and a royal assassination, which is likened to the "catastrophe, the conclusion of Edward II's murder.41 The language of dramatic form here employed is widely here employed used elsewhere in the official pronouncements, with specific reference to tragedy. "Tragedy" is, of course, a term of wide provenance during the period, but particular uses in the polemic surrounding the Essex rebellion can be related to aspects of evaluative orientation in the Lambarde exchange and in the charges against Blunt.42
Bacon's Declaration43 which was sent to press April 14, 1601, and was, he says, "perused, weighed, censured, altered, and made almost a new writing" both by the "principali Councillors" and "the Queen herself," repeatedly refers to the uprising as a "tragedy"—complete with "preludes" (9:249), "platform," (9:264), "second act," (9:264), and a "catastrophe or last part of that tragedy for which he [Essex] came upon the stage" (9:253). Of the plot to seize the court by Sir Charles Davers, Sir Christopher Blunt, and Sir John Davies, one reads: "This being the platform of their enterprise, the second act of this tragedy was also resolved; which was that my Lord should present himself to her Majesty as prostrating himself at her feet, and desire the remove of such persons as he called his enemies from about her" (9:264). But the "tragedy" that Bacon, and apparently the queen and council, had in mind was of a particular sort.
After proclaiming its intent to counter "divers most wicked and seditious libels thrown abroad" (9:247), Bacon's Declaration opens with this assessment of the Essex story:
The most partial will not deny, but that Robert late Earl of Essex was by her Majesty's manifold benefits and graces, besides oath and allegiance, as much tied to her Majesty as the subject could be to the sovereign; her Majesty having heaped upon him both dignities, offices, and gifts, in such measure, as within the circle of twelve years or more there was scarcely a year of rest, in which he did not obtain at her Majesty's hands some notable addition either of honour or profit.
But he on the other side, making these her Majesty's favours nothing else but wings for his ambition, and looking upon them not as her benefits but as his advantages, supposing that to be his own metal which was but her mark and impression, was so given over by God (who often punisheth ingratitude by ambition, and ambition by treason, and treason by final ruin), as he had long ago plotted it in his heart to become a dangerous supplanter of that seat, whereof he ought to have been a principal supporter. (9:248)
Bacon offers commonplaces: a "creature" who forgets the "benefactor" who has "made" him and is providentially punished in a "tragedy" of self-love and ruin which follows in condign self-punishment. No matter the qualities and varieties of the historical participants and social particularities that might aid or retard the actors, the origin of evil is a self-generating discontent outside the fabula—perhaps, as Bacon hypothesizes, the product "of a nature disposed to disloyalty," yet ultimately beyond human explanation: "But as it were a vain thing to think to search the roots and first motions of treasons, which are known to none but God that discerns the heart, and the devil that gives the instigation" (9:249).44 Possible alternatives to this homiletic "tragedy" of monarchical magnanimity, inexplicable human "ingratitude," and self-destructive "ambition" are subordinated within the account and addressed by it.
As Bacon's references to "oath and allegiance" suggest, one alternative would be to denounce Essex for violating the values of chivalric honor; another to accuse him of rending those ties of "subject" to "sovereign" as promul-gated in Tudor accounts of consolidated monarchical authority. But Bacon's officially sanctioned choice of the rhetoric of theological tragedy over either of these evaluative alternatives should be considered according to other evidence within the Declaration which indicates its instantiation of social heteroglossia as a response to yet another social "language," against which either of these alternatives might have proven relatively ineffectual. Bacon's choice casts light on the heteroglossic dimensions of Elizabeth's own "Tragedie" of ingratitude "played 40tie times in open Streets and Houses."
Bacon's Declaration claims to respond to the fact that "there do pass abroad in the hands of many men divers false and corrupt collections and relations of the proceedings at the arraignment of the Late Earls of Essex and Southampton," and "divers most wicked and seditious libels thrown abroad" (9:247). He attempts the rhetorical neutralization of such voices by proclaiming them "partial." But already in the fragmentary, unpublished records of the proceedings concerning Essex, held at York House in June 1600, well before the uprising proper of February 1601, similarly unauthorized "discourses" are mentioned as demanding official response. In this earlier instance, Bacon's providentialist rhetoric—distinctly Protestant in its emphasis on superabundant royal "grace"—specifically responds to the offending discourse and the form of its utterance:
When Offence was grown unmeasurablie offensive, then did grace superabound, and in the heate of all the ill news out of Ireland, and other advertisements thence to my Lo: disadvantage, her Mate entered into a resolution, out of herself and her inscrutable goodness, not to overthrow my Lo: fortune irreparablie by publique and proportionable justice, notwithstanding, inasmuch as about yt time, there did fly about in London Streets and Theatres divers Seditious Libells, and Powles and Ordinaries were full of bold and factious discourses, whereby not onlie manie of her Maties faithful and zealous councillors and Servants were taxed, but withall the hard estate of Ireland was imputed to any thing rather than unto the true cause (the Earl's defaults).45
These threatening "publique" attacks in "London Streets and Theatres," "Powles and Ordinaries" are epitomized by a letter addressed to Elizabeth. This letter, arguing that Essex suffered under "passion and faction" and not under "justice mixed with mercy," though unfit to pass in "vulgar hands," was first divulged by "copies everywhere (that being as it seemeth the newest and finest form of libelling)" and then was committed to "press."46 Thus, unofficial counternarratives to the official Augustinian tragedy of isolate evil inexplicably arisen to trouble "inscrutable," self-sufficient goodness and its superabundant "grace" appear officially represented as openly circulating "bold and factious" accusations. These are said to accuse "her Maties faithful and zealous councillors and Servants" for their own "passion and faction" as itself the origin of Essex's troubles. Such a discourse is, in the circumstances of its utterance, itself "factious," insofar as it publicly invokes factional contention within the official ranks of faithful, zealous servants and councilors rather than the individual "tragedy" of a subject's atheism, "ingratitude," or "wicked imagination" as the origin of Essex's actions. Furthermore, it offers an alternative evaluation of official "justice mixed with mercy" as instancing the same factional struggle. Thus, by its semantic choices, its practice of sociopolitical analysis, and the form and circumstance of its utterance—in "Streets and Theatres," "Powles and Ordinaries," and printed "copies everywhere"—it invites open and public participation in such analysis.
These "factious" utterances that Bacon claims instigated the proceedings against Essex are also discussed by FulkeGreville, the earl's relative and posthumous defender.47 In describing his own self-censorship in destroying his un-published tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra rather than risking having it "construed or strained to a personating of vices in the present governors or government," FulkeGreville describes Elizabeth and Essex both as victims of "sect-animals" (p. 156) or "Party" (p. 160) among the "factious English" (p. 160). In this narrative Essex is trebly a victim. First, the "sect-animals" torment Essex alternatively with flatteries and minor vexations, which prompt in one of his "great heart" (p. 157) careless actions; then they forge libels in his name in order, finally, to propel him into the mills of the law, as predictably turned by "inferiour ministers of Justice":
Into which pitfall of theirs, when they had once discerned this Earle to be fallen: straight, under the reverend stile of Laesae Majestatis all inferiour ministers of Justice—they knew—would be justly let loose to work upon him. And accordingly, under the same cloud, his enemies took audacity to cast libels abroad in his name against the State, made by themselves: set papers upon posts, to bring his innocent friends in question. His power, by the Jesuiticall craft of rumour, they made infinite; and his ambition more then equall to it. His letters to private men were read openly, by the piercing eyes of an Atturnie's office, which warrantes the construction of every line in the worst sense against the writer. (p. 157)48
Fulke-Greville consistently demeans the legal profession from its highest officials to the "inferiour ministers of Justice." His indirect discourse mocks the pretensions of their "reverend stile" and its strategic hypocrisy: they "warrant" the reading of "private" letters "openly," and they are said "justly" to be "let loose to work on him."
While Essex's enemies at court are said to encourage legalistic violence "as against an unthankfull favourite and traiterous subject; hee standing, by the law of England, condemned for such" (p. 158), Fulke-Greville defends the earl on the grounds of his martial accomplishments on England's and Elizabeth's behalf and of his immunity to the temptation to usurp the monarch's sovereign power of "creation" in cases that most immediately concerned him. In fact, Essex was such a loyal "favourite" that, true to values of chivalric honor, he "never put his soveraigne to stand between her people and his errors; but here and abroad, placed his body in the forefront, against all that threatened or assaulted her" (pp. 158-59). Far from affecting "absolute power," Essex avoided the abuses of Henry Ill's men: "I meane under a king to become equall at least with him, in creating and deposing chancelors, treasurers, and secretaries of State, to raise a strong party for himselfe; as he left both place and persons entire in their supreme jurisdictions, or magistracies under his soveraigne, as shee granted them" (p. 160). For "secretaries of State" one might read (in 1601) Secretary Robert Cecil, which might recall Lambarde's personal ties to Cecil and familiar stories of Essex-Cecil divisions.49 But more is at stake here than personal contention for there are institutional and cultural parameters to the division and its available articulations.
However else the contention of the Cecil and Essex factions might be articulated, Fulke-Greville represents a struggle between the values of sword and robe, chivalry and clerisy.50 The "prosperity" of Essex's pursuit of "the standard of Mars" inevitably entails "the falling of their scales," and thus awakens the "envious and suppressing crafts of party" (p. 160). In this choice Fulke-Greville's utterance is far from alone, and I would argue, it is precisely in an atmosphere charged by such utterances that the representation of Elizabeth's exchange with Lambarde takes shape. The chosen language of homiletic tragedy with its religiously universalized account of human nature and its inexplicable sinful propensities addresses (by precluding) other available accounts that might articulate specific conditions and tensions of profession, class, and economy. Evidence of such tensions riddles the surviving documentation. So, for example, in that letter of 1598 to Thomas Egerton, which would become notorious for refusing to identify "absolute infiniteness in heaven" with "infinite absoluteness on earth," Essex locates the clerical offices but little above abjection: "I owe her majesty the duty of an earl and lord marshal of England. I have been content to do her majesty the service of a clerk; but can never serve her as a villain or slave."51 Bacon himself rhetorically invokes the tension between civil and military values when he advises Essex to give up the appearance of "military dependence," while disclaiming the intention "to play now the part of a gownman that would frame you best to mine own turn."52 And Essex writes to Anthony Bacon with an analysis of professional solidarity that is meant to address the charge that he favors men of war: "Every man doth love those of his own profession. The grave judges favor the students of law; the reverend bishops the laborers in the ministry; and I, since Her Majesty yearly used my service, in her late actions, must reckon myself among her men of war."53 Popular stories and devices repeated similar divisions of sword and robe, or, as the Duke of Stettin Pomerania puts it, of "cannon" and "writing-pen."54
A differing evaluation of this contention is instanced most tellingly in Secretary Cecil's remarks at the trial of Essex. Cecil attacks the values of the honor culture for un-Christian warlikeness and economic self-interest. Essex would have him appear odious, Cecil says, because he always worked "for the good and quyett of my countrye," while Essex is denounced: "But with yo it hath euer bene a Maxime to pr'fer warr before peace, in respecte of the consequence to yo followers and dependers."55 Cecil further articulates differences between the honor culture and civil culture in a rhetorical flourish that epitomizes the stakes over which the two contend: "My Lo. ffor witt I giue yo the p'eminence, you haue it aboundantlie. ffor birthe I give yo place. I am not noble, yet I am a gent: neither am I a sword man. You haue therefore the oddes of me. But I haue inocencye to p'tect me."56 Not noble, neither "sword man," nor "witt," and yet a "gent"—over the definition of gentility, factions and values of robe and sword contend, at court or in the city, and, as Lambarde's anecdote might suggest, in private chambers of counsel as well.
If semantically the analogical tragedy of personal ingratitude appears to override politico-analytical categories such as estate or profession which are available in Lambarde's own phrasing, nevertheless formal elements of the whole anecdotal utterance conform it not only to royal needs but also to values of gentility as redefined by Tudor humanists.57 Although these very formal qualities of the anecdote make it appropriate that Lambarde be described as an "antiquary," or "archivist," such designations—like the anecdote itself—fail to convey either the political and economic value of scholarship such as his to early modern England or the depth of Lambarde's involvement in the theory and practices of that state, and hence fail to register possible heteroglossic resonances of the anecdote itself. In speaking as they do, monarch and official do not speak as they might. In fact, the intimate yet disinterested quality of their exchange, with its combination of royal proclivity and councilor's capacity to take up and drop, apparently at random, past monarchs, old laws, ancient languages, recondite terms, and antique portraits, manages to bracket, contain, and all but displace present threats or concerns. That these achieve articulation only in two royal excursions into present tense ("I am Richard 2d" and "the Witt of the Foxe is every wheare on foote") embodies significant evaluative orientations and displaces others.
Terms surrounding and interpenetrating Elizabeth's two present-tense utterances certainly touch upon areas of her interlocutor's expertise which are of immediate interest to crown and council in the present of August 1601. Most strikingly, Lambarde's capacity as an authority on legal and parliamentary history to expound terms such as Parliamenta and Litterae patentes in their "originali diversities" could render their exchanges highly pertinent to present governmental concerns.58 August 1601 was a time of preparation for the Parliament that had been anticipated since spring (the last of the treble subsidy approved in 1597-98 had been collected by then, and money was needed to counter Spanish incursion in Ireland).59 Of special interest to the Privy Council, as correspondence from that August reveals, were patents of monopoly. At issue since the previous Parliament and obviously threatening to arouse debate again since little had been done to fulfill royal promises of reform, disputes over regulation of monopoly patents threatened territory contested among royal prerogative, parliamentary initiative, and common law.60 Lambarde's learning in the politically charged histories of Parliament and common law might be far more interesting to Elizabeth than the title "antiquary" suggests; yet to judge by the record, neither accords such present concerns significant attention.
Nor do they appear to explore related areas of Lambarde's expertise in fiscal policy and real property, which are also objects of considerable contemporary royal concern and are obliquely touched on by Oblata, Praestita, and Rediseisnes. Instead of enjoining current disputes concerning instruments of royal revenue, the legal connivances of concealed tenure, the continuing struggles over enclosure, or emerging claims of absolute private property, the anecdote records observations on "good" Henry VII's practical economies and moral denunciations of historically "unlawfull" and open "force and armes" against "lawfull Possessions."61 In each such choice of language the identification of Elizabeth with Richard II might be considered a factor, for her exchanges affirm values opposing those widely associated with Richard. Repudiating craft as well as violence, concerned for law and the subject's possessions, for financial practicality, and for precedent rather than innovation, Elizabeth appears the antithesis of the prodigal autocrat—and, conversely, the fitting monarch for her civil servant's allegiance.
Furthermore, the manner of their discussions embodies an antithesis to the sly purposefulness characterized as the "Witt of the Foxe." Instead of raising narrowly instrumental matters of strategy and policy, their intimate, wide-ranging exchange never once descends to a discussion of uses for Lambarde's labors. Rather than be seen as a practical instrument of statecraft, his efforts are appreciated in and for themselves as the "service" of a "Scholler," fit cause of "delectation," and occasion for freely associative conversation articulated in terms of law, religion, history, morality, and practical benevolence, not immediate issues of state. These exchanges grant Lambarde's labors and those of the professional class he represents the status of humanist learning, and in the process associate them with an afactional discursive mode which Lambarde elsewhere characterizes as writing "academically, and without taking any part."62 Whatever the validity of his claim to academic disinterest in other contexts, Lambarde's quarter session addresses of the years 1600-1601 are highly relevant to these evaluative orientations.
In his 1600 address to the justices assembled for the sessions at Maidstone, Lambarde defines the most pressing public enemy as a "wickedness and contempt of good laws" that "boldly lift[s] up the head and hopeth to prevail":
For such is nowadays the bold sway of disobedience to law that it creepeth not in corners but marcheth in the open market, and is not only to be seen plainly of such as have any eyes at all but is become in manner palpable and to be felt of such as be utterly blind. Yes, such is the inundation of wickedness in this last and worst age that if speedier help and hand of justice be not applied, we are justly to fear that we shall every one be overwhelmed thereby. For albeit every man of us feeleth more or less the present evil, foreseeth future danger, feareth the end, and complaineth of the case; yet how few are there found amongst us that will use the bridle of authority which they have in their own hand and cast it upon the head of this unruly monster!63
It is difficult to say how precisely Lambarde's "open market" is meant to be taken for a physical location rather than to stand metonymically for the popular, public nature of disobedience. The address does invoke villains from a familiar litany—"seducing papists, thieves, extortioners, usurers, engrossers, and the rest of that rabble" (p. 141)—yet here, in the year preceding the Essex uprising, is a sense of the "open" space of public gathering, in this case the market rather than Elizabeth's "streets," as a place where disobedience to "law" exercises "bold sway" and "marcheth" unchecked by "authority" vested in the commons themselves. "Marcheth" might be merely a rhetorical antithesis to the stealth of "creepeth," but in 1600 Lambarde's figure of troops marching under the "bold sway" of disobedience preemptively appropriates the potentially authoritative appearance of order which might be mustered by an aristocratically marshaled and militarily deployed rebellion, assimilating this civil nightmare to that of the monstrous mob flowing in market and street.64At the same time, responsibility "authority" is located in the lowest individual upholders of the common law: "private men" serving in the much demeaned office of justices.65
The work of these "private men," moreover, is repeatedly articulated in 1600 in terms appropriated from the honor culture. The law and its most humble upholders are said to defend God, England, and the queen against "intestine enemies" (p. 144); the law-abiding, not the military, "advance the honor of her Majesty" (p. 144), protect against the "period of the English honor" (p. 144), and serve England as a wall defensive: "If laws be duly administered they be the very walls of our country and common-wealth. But what walls, though of brass itself, be not expugnable if there be not men to defend them?" (p. 142). In 1601, shortly after the Essex rebellion, however, Lambarde's address written for the Easter sessions (but apparently not delivered) subordinates this appropriated language of honor to that of religion, arguing that "as the minister of the word soundeth the inward heart, so doth the magistrate and minister of the law exact the outward sign and testimony of a well-persuaded mind," with "honor" itself now recast as a religious reverence not to be diverted from God or prince to fractious religions, states, or nobles:
So as in religion it is utterly unlawful for the servants of God to erect any golden calf or other idol and to transfer unto it the honor that ought to be proper to God alone, and in policy it is not sufferable that subjects should set up any glittering calf of Rome, of Spain, of Norfolk, or of Essex and to communicate thereunto that royal, obedient, and filial love which they owe to their natural prince, the mother of our country and earthly God over us. (p. 147)
Essex, like the rebellious Norfolk, is an idol, an image of authority rather than the thing itself.
But whatever their apparent shift in semantic register, Lambarde's addresses consistently invoke a continuity between public and "private" realms that contrasts with the public aspect of chivalric honor considerations.66 Insistently "common good" and "public benefit" are equated with the "proper business and particular profit" of "private men" (pp. 140, 141, 142). In doing good, one could do well. So in 1600 Lambarde writes that one's "own profit is so fast conjoined with the good of other men that if he neglect theirs his own also must of necessity decay and perish therewithal" (p. 140); and in 1601 he maintains the "end" of the justices' endeavors is "the glory of God, the general welfare of your prince, the church, and commonwealth, and the particular profit of every of yourselves and yours" (p. 149). Integrating the open, public values of chivalric honor, national survival, apocalyptic Protestantism, and commonwealth with the domestic and personal value of "private" profit, Lambarde's addresses suggest an evaluative orientation for the intimate form of his exhange with Elizabeth.
Her denial of courtly mediation in asserting that Lambarde need not have sent his manuscript through the Countess of Warwick when she would "thankfully accept" such "service" from "any subject"; the refusal to permit him to kneel; the self-deprecation of her scholarly ability while she avows the value of scholarship; the combination of vulnerability and linguistic exhibitionism in her reading; the personal reliance of monarch on dependent (slightly eroticized by tucking his gift "in her Bosome"); the equation of individual gratitude and piety—in these the anecdote represents that very royal generosity and openness which would constitute Essex's behavior as impious ingratitude rather than a response to compromised status or economic desperation, to be sure. But it also represents, in an intimate setting, the congruence of the publicly acclaimed values of her reign with their "private" expression as personal thrift, piety, openness, fairness, generosity, and humanistic learning. Caught in a moment between state business and devotion, neither she nor her justice of Kent spends a word on merely factious, political, or instrumental reasoning, nor on public appearances. What they are, whether in open streets or private chambers, is what they are; neither plays for an audience.
Above all, Elizabeth's image of a tragedy played over and over again admits what people could see—Essex's so-called popularity of the streets as well as his alliances among the great "houses" of England—while revaluing those undeniable facts as instances of hypocritical playing before an audience that could not see the real personal and religious tragedy that such playing represented. The invocation of self-destructive "tragedy" played out between a single player and his God and/or benefactor occludes the appearance of ressentiment potential in Lambarde's self-proclaimed station as "common" passing judgment on the fitness of a noble to share the designation of "Gent" and as legal official commenting in lawyerly terms on a cultural subgroup of martial adherents who denounced professional jurists for pettiness and rigor. The anecdote itself represents the private world of Elizabethan officials as characterized by the same mixed values of earnest piety tempered with scholarly disinterest and practicality alloyed with generosity which are so much a part of its public presentations. Elizabeth and Lambarde, at least, should not be mistaken for playing one thing publicly while being another. Rather than calculating factional division, financial advantage, or parliamentary strategy, the two pause between business and prayer to regret one dependent's suicidal self-destruction and to appreciate the contrast provided by the steadfast values "good and honest Lambarde" represents. Their exchanges repeatedly touch on divisive issues articulated in Parliament and the open streets between 1598 and 1601 without getting closer than religion, history, scholarship, and drama: form and silence turning word against word.
Research for this essay was funded by the Graduate School of Boston University. Barbara A. Mowat provided generous assistance with documentation.
1 For an account of that theory attuned to differences between the micrological reading pioneered by Richards and Empson and the practice of the various New Critics who followed them, see John Paul Russo, I.A. Richards (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), esp. pp. 540-62. Russo traces American New Criticism to roots in the frustrations of the Fugitives and Agrarians of the twenties and thirties and differentiates their concentration on the "inside" of the poem from Richard's concern with "all utterance" (p. 545) according to his "continuity principle." For analysis of Richards's political agendas in relation to his valuation of mastery, see Paul Bové's chapter on Richards in Intellectuals in Power: A Genealogy of Critical Humanism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), pp. 39-77; also William V. Spanos, "The Apollonian Investment of Modern Humanist Education: The Examples of Matthew Arnold, Irving Babbitt, and I. A. Richards," Cultural Critique 1 (1985): 7-72.
2 On social-evaluative orientation, see, e.g., V. N. Voloshinov, Maxism and the Philosophy of Language (1929), rev. ed., trans. Ladislav Matejka and I. R. Titunik (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), p. 105, where Voloshinov discusses orientation in the "choice and deployment of the basic elements" of utterance. On "utterance" as the fundamental category of Bakhtinian analysis, see Tzvetan Todorov, Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle, trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).
3 Voloshinov, Marxism, p. 105.
4 Ibid., p. 106; see also
5 Voloshinov, Marxism, p. 80; cf. Weber, "The Intersection," p. 104. For Bakhtin's remarks on "our free speech plan," see Mikhail Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. Vern W. McGee (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 80.
6 Voloshinov, Marxism, pp. 105, 90; cf. Bakhtin on choosing a "language" in Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), p. 295. Robert Young argues that Voloshinov resembles Althusser in seeing utterance determined by social relations, but the Althusserian subject is interpellated in the discourse of the other and allowed to speak only from that position, while for Bakhtin, as for Voloshinov, a speaker is not only able but indeed cannot fail to "accent words and to compete with other accentuations for his or her own purposes." Robert Young, "Back to Bakhtin," Cultural Critique 2 (1986): 71-92, 85. Bakhtin resembles Foucault in seeing society constituted by contradictory and competing discourses, but the stress on reported speech prevalent in any discursive practice, Young says, works against the Foucauldian notion of "rival and therefore distinct stratifications of discourses of truth," so that "reported speech makes it impossible to maintain distinctions between discourses in the first place; the struggle for power resolves into competing accents attached to individual words" (p. 85).
7 Voloshinov, Marxism, p. 81.
8 Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky 's Poetics, trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. 201. Thinking about relationships of Bakhtinian imperatives to the emphases of New Criticism might begin with the fact that attention to tonality and dramatistic qualities of utterance, to ironies of "sideward glance" and ambiguities of words "with loopholes," are approached by the Bakhtin circle as inescapably social-ideological. Of course, a close reading of dramatic texts, especially the highly instable, multiple-texted plays of a playwright who was actor, shareholder, and more collaborator than author—to adopt Stephen Orgel's distinction—is from the outset the reading of situated and interanimated voicings. See Stephen Orgel, "What Is a Text?" Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 24 (1981): 3-6.
9 Bakhtin writes of this great chain in Speech Genres, p. 94; the "counter word" is discussed by Voloshinov in Marxism, p. 102.
10 Barbara Johnson, A World of Difference (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), p. 31. The encounter of relatively direct (since all utterance is marked by indirection) and relatively indirect discourses is a locus of primary interest for the Bakhtin circle, and it is also precisely what the written practice of close reading necessarily enacts, whether consciously or not; see Jon Klancher, "Bakhtin's Rhetoric," in Reclaiming Pedagogy: The Rhetoric of the Classroom, ed. Ellen Quandahl and Patricia Donahue (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), pp. 83-96. As Dominick LaCapra notes: "Through the interaction of perspectives within the same utterance or text, language becomes a site on which contesting and contested discourses of different periods, groups, or classes engage one another as sociolinguistic forces. Dialogized heteroglossia creates the space for critical and self-critical distance in language use, for it disrupts myth in the sense of an absolute fusion or bonding of a use of words to a concrete ideological meaning." Dominick LaCapra, Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 312.
11 Terry Eagleton, "The Subject of Literature," Cultural Critique 1 (1985): 95-104, 102. The implications of Eagleton's argument—that liberal humanism values only "a sensitivity to nuance and ambiguity, a balanced discrimination, a capacity to entertain imaginatively a variety of view points" in the isolated, readerly encounter of reading subject and "literary" text and not in the socio-historical struggles of groups and individuals, where such values could oppose the demands of the capitalist state—should be considered in relation to the analyses of Richards by Bové and Spanos cited in note 1. For Bourdieu's use of Voloshinov, see Pierre Bourdieu, "The Economics of Linguistic Exchanges," Social Science Information 16 (1977): 645-68. "Strictly interminable" describes Bourdieu's own analysis; see his Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 20.
12 On the institutional dimensions of this progress and its implications for recent criticism, see Murray Krieger, Words about Words about Words (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988), esp. pp. 70-72. Frank Lentricchia was an early critic of deconstruction's quietism (Criticism and Social Change [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983]) and has discussed continuities between New Criticism and poststructuralism in After the New Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). On Bakhtin's unconcluded dialogue between Marxism and formalism, see Tony Bennett, Formalism and Marxism); (London: Methuen, 1979); also William Garrett Walton, Jr., "V.N. Voloshinov: A Marriage of Formalism and Marxism," in Semiotics and Dialectics: Ideology and the Text, ed. Peter V. Zima (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1981), pp. 39-102.
13 Citations are from Peter Ure's Arden edition of Richard II (1956; rpt. London: Methuen, 1969).
14 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, ed. Roma Gill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990).
15 Cf. Voloshinov on the densely preinhabited status of the word confronting the poet (Todorov, Mikhail Bakhtin, p. 49) and Bakhtin on the contending languages and interpretations confronting the prose writer (Dialogical Imagination, p. 278).
16 Johnson, World of Difference, pp. 6-7. Compare Leah S. Marcus's relation of postmodern appreciations of textual rupture and self-division with her model of Elizabethan and Jacobean reading habits in Puzzling Shakespeare: Local Reading and Its Discontents (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).
17 Oliver Ormerod, The Picture of a Puritane (London, 1605), p. 70. Robert Weimann discusses this contention in "Discourse, Ideology, and the Crisis of Authority in Post-Reformation England," REAL: The Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 5 (1987): 109-40; see also
18 Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, p. 295.
19 E. M. W. Tillyard, Shakespeare's History Plays (New York: Macmillan, 1946), p. 243; subsequent citations appear in the text.
20 The citation is from John Hayward, The First Part of the Life and Raigne of Henry IV (London, 1599), STC 12997, with a slight modification of Tillyard's citation (Shakespeare's History Plays, p. 244). For an authoritative modern edition of Hayward's History, see John J. Manning, ed., The First and Second Parts of John Hayward's "The Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII, " 4th ser., vol. 42 (London: Camden Society, 1991).
21 Coke's notes are from Public Records Office, State Papers Domestic (SPD), vol. 274, item 61; compare Calendar of State Papers Domestic (CSPD) 274, p. 405. The Hayward citation is from Henry IV, p. 67.
22 SPD 275, item 251; cf. SPD 274, item 61.
23 On these circumstances and Hayward's problems, see Margaret Dowling, "Sir John Hayward's Troubles over His Life of Henry IV," The Library, 4th ser. (1930-31): 212-24; Evelyn May Albright, "Shakespeare's Richard II and the Essex Conspiracy," PMLA 46 (1931): 694-719; S. L. Goldberg, "Sir John Hayward, 'Politic' Historian," Review of English Studies 6 (1955): 233-44.
24 SPD 274, item 61.
25 Hayward's offending sentence is in fact derived from Henry Savile's edition of Tacitus (The Ende of Nero and Beginning of Galba [London, 1598], STC 23643, p. 165). Hayward, however, discusses the illusory nature of reliance on "fortes" and "forces" without dynastic security, while Savile's sentence criticizes the affectional ties binding "friends" as being weaker than bonds of blood: "For neither were Legions nor nauies so strong defences and rampiers of a Princes estate, as the multitude of children. Friendes with time and fortune, sometimes by vnaduised desires, or ouersights, decrease, fall from vs and fade, whereas a mans owne bloud cleaueth fast" (p. 165). Dowling's account of the Irish situation in "Sir John Hayward's Troubles" is helpful; cf. Hayward's remarks (Henry IV, p. 62).
26 SPD 275, item 251.
27 SPD 278, item 17.
28 Hayward, Henry IV, pp. 62-63.
29 Walter Cohen, "Political Criticism of Shakespeare," in Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology, ed. Jean E. Howard and Marion F. O'Connor (London: Methuen, 1987), pp. 18-46, 35. Cohen's essay is an excellent account of problems haunting recent political criticism. It is difficult to find discussions of the political situation of the Elizabethan theater that do not cite Elizabeth's remark to Lambarde as "evidence," and it is equally rare to find readings that cite the full sentence from which it is taken or convey any ambiguities concerning the identification of "this tragedy" with Shakespeare's play. For a few examples, see Marie Axton, "[Elizabeth's] famous remark 'I am Richard the Second. Know ye not that?' was made to William Lambarde … and its context makes clear that both Elizabeth and Lambarde saw the play's relevance to the Earl of Essex's rebellion" (The Queen's Two Bodies: Drama and the Elizabethan Succession [London: Historical Society, 1977], p. 2); Stephen Greenblatt, "In Elizabeth's bitter recollection the performance has metastasized: 'This tragedy was played 40tie times in open streets and houses'" (The Power of Forms in the English Renaissance [Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books, 1982], p. 3); Leah S. Marcus, "In 1601, a sudden rash of performances of Shakespeare's Richard II was taken by Elizabeth and her chief ministers (and not without reason) as propaganda for the Essex rebellion" (Puzzling Shakespeare, p. 27); David Scott Kastan, "Elizabeth bitterly remarked … when she was reminded of Essex's use of (what was presumably Shakespeare's) Richard II … 'this tragedy …'" ("Proud Majesty Made a Subject: Shakespeare and the Spectacle of Rule," Shakespeare Quarterly 37 : 468); Stephen Orgel, "[Elizabeth] paused at length over the reign of Richard II, and when Lambarde expressed his surprise, she explained, 'I am Richard II, know ye not that?' Lambarde acknowledged that he understood this to be an allusion to the drama of the late Earl of Essex, and the Queen continued, 'He that will forget God will also forget his benefactors; this tragedy was played forty times in open streets and houses.' … In her moving and baffling expostulation to Lambarde, she transformed the drama of Richard II into a piece of very dangerous civic pageantry" ("The Spectacles of State," in Persons in Groups, ed. Richard C. Trexler [Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1985], p. 119). Historians have often treated Elizabeth's remark in similar fashion; see, for example, Lacey Baldwin Smith, Treason in Tudor England: Politics and Paranoia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), pp. 261-69, and 315n. For a strong counterstatement to such uses of the anecdote, see J. Leeds Barroll, "A New History for Shakespeare and His Time," Shakespeare Quarterly 39 (1988): 441-64.
30 The readings in Greenblatt, Power of Forms, and Orgel, "Spectacles of State," amply repay investigation for what Jon Klancher terms a tendency to make "historical criticism a transhistorical echo of the politics of the present." Jon Klancher, "English Romanticism and Cultural Production," in The New Historicism, ed. H. Aram Veeser (New York: Routledge, 1989), p. 77.
31 British Museum Additional Ms. 15,664. f. 226. The version from which most criticism takes the anecdote is John Nichols, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth (1823; rpt. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.), 3:552-53. Nichols generally agrees with the British Museum Manuscript. The most noteworthy exception is that Nichols makes "benefactor" plural in the sentence concerning "this tragedy." The letter Nichols attributes to Lambarde in adjoining pages is of doubtful authorship.
32 See William Lambarde, Eirenarcha, rev. ed. (London, 1592), STC 15167, pp. 154-67.
33 The phrase "in the wake of the abortive Essex rising" is from Greenblatt, Power of Forms, p. 3. Greenblatt and Orgel ("Spectacles of State"), among many others, refer to Lambarde as Elizabeth's "antiquary" and "archivist," respectively. On Lambarde's life, see Wilbur Dunkel, William Lambarde: Elizabethan Jurist, 1536-1601 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1965). A brief account is in Conyers Read's introduction to William Lambarde and Logical Government (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962).
34 On pervasive patronage relations, see Perez Zagorin, Rebels and Rulers, 1500-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1:70-71; Joel Hurstfield, Freedom, Corruption, and Government in Elizabethan England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), pp. 150-58. For legal terminology of "imagination" applied to Essex, see "Calendar of the Contents of the Baga de Secretis," in Fourth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, appendix 2 (London, 1843), p. 293. Cf. John Bellamy, The Tudor Law of Treason (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), pp. 30-33.
35 The evidence and its problems are fully considered by Barroll ("A New History"). Shakespeare's Richard II was probably presented once on the eve of the rising. Some evidence suggests public readings of Hayward's book; see Ure's introduction to the Arden Richard II, p. lxi; cf. Mervyn James, Society, Politics, and Culture: Studies in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 419n.
36 Paul Johnson, Elizabeth I: A Biography (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1974), p. 417.
37 J. E. Neale, Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments, 1584-1601 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1957), 2:429.
38 Ibid., 2:373.
39The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. James Spedding et al. (1862; rpt. New York: Garrett Press, 1968), 9:195-96.
40 Ibid., 9:201. Essex's letter, Bacon says, should admit, "I know I ought doubly infinitely to be her Majesty's: both jure creations, for I am her creature, and jure redemptions, for I know she hath saved me from overthrow." For later use of the discourse of religion and gratitude against the court of James I, see R. Malcolm Smuts, Court Culture and the Origins of a Royalist Tradition in Early Stuart England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987), pp. 34-35.
41 William Cobbett, Complete Collection of State Trials (London, 1809), vol. 1 (1163-1600), pp. 1421-22.
42 Potentially relevant uses of "tragedy" might include Lambarde's lament over "what great Tragedies have beene stirred in this Realme by this our naturali inhospitalitie and disdaine of straungers" and his urging solidarity with foreign Protestants as "guestes and straungers in our Countrie." William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent (1576; rpt. London, 1826), pp. 323-24. Elizabeth herself translates from Boethius in 1593 such observations as "What does Tragedies clamour more bewayle, than a man turning happy Raigne by blynde fortune's stroke?" Queen Elizabeth's Englishings, ed. Caroline Pemberton (London, 1899), p. 23. Elizabeth also translates Plutarch in 1598 on the self-destructive nature of curiosity in Oedipus and the fate of "curious man" who "willingly may tragedies new made behold" (pp. 138, 128).
43A Declaration Touching Upon the Treasons of the Late Earl of Essex (London, 1601), in Bacon, Works, vol. 9; subsequent citations appear in the text.
44 Given this theological frame, the pervasive references to Providence in Bacon's account are not surprising; see, e.g., ibid., pp. 255, 257, 266.
45 Harleian Ms. 6854, f. 178.
46 Ibid.; cf. Bacon, Works, 9:178.
47 Fulke-Greville citations are from Works, ed. A. B. Grosart (1870; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1966), vol. 4; subsequent citations appear in the text. On faction, see E. W. Ives, Faction in Tudor England (London: Historical Association, 1979).
48 Compare Essex's remark to the queen in a letter of May 1600: "I am gnawed on & torn by ye vilest and basest creatures upon earth. The prating tavern-haunter speakes of me what he lists: the frantick libeller writes of me what he lists; already they print me, & make speak to ye world, and shortly they will play me in what form they list upon ye stage. The least of these is a thowsand tymes woorse then deathe" (SPD 274, item 138). On one engraved image of Essex circulating in 1600, see Richard C. McCoy, The Rites of Kinghthood: The Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), pp. 79-102.
49 The story has often been told; for one classic example, see Lytton Strachey, Elizabeth and Essex (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1928). Cf. Thomas Wilson's apparent references to the fate of Essex at the hands of those who "make the Queene looke through a payre of spectacles & make the fault seeme greater than it is, as hath been lately approved in the actions of some of the greatest," in The State of England, 1600, Camden Miscellany 16 (1936), p. 41. Lord Burghley was Lambarde's friend and patron (Read, introduction to William Lombarde, p. 11), and in a letter of 1591, Lambarde dedicated his Archion (London, 1635; STC 15143) to Robert Cecil.
50 On this contention, see James, Society, Politics, and Culture, pp. 429ff. As an example, Lord Burghley's advice to Robert Cecil on children: "Neither by my consent, shalt thou train them up in wars. For he that sets up his rest to live by that profession can hardly be an honest man or a good Christian." Joel Hurstfield, The Queen's Wards: Wardship and Marriage under Elizabeth 1, 2d ed. (London: Frank Cass, 1973), p. 257. More generally, see Norbert Elias, The Court Society, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Pantheon, 1983).
51 Thomas Birch, Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (London, 1754), p. 387.
52 Walter Devereux, Lives and Letters of the Devereux (London: John Murray, 1853), 2:398.
53 Ibid., 2:488.
54 "Diary of the Journey of Philip Julius Duke of Stettin-Pomerania through England in the Year 1602," ed. Gottfried von Bulow, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, n.s. 6 (1892): 1-67, 24-25.
55The Dr. Farmer Chetham MS., ed. Alexander B. Grosart (Manchester: Chetham Society, 1873), p. 18.
56 Ibid., p. 15.
57 On this redefinition, see Arthur B. Ferguson, The Chivalric Tradition in Renaissance England (Washington, D.C.: Folger Library, 1986), esp. pp. 59-63, on Sir Thomas Elyot's Boke Named the Gouvernour (1531) and A Preservative agaynste Deth (1545). Compare the redefinition of honor in terms of "obedience and duty toward the king his Majesty, his councillors, officers, and administrators, both high and low," in The Institucion of a Gentleman (London, 1568), STC 14105; or Lambarde's own version of the ideal justice of the peace as "Valiant," "Learned," and "Good": "under the word Good, it is meant also that hee loue and feare God aright, without which hee cannot bee Good at all" (Eirenarcha, p. 33). Peter Laslett claims, "The term gentleman marked the exact point at which the traditional social system divided up the population into two extremely unequal sections," in The World We Have Lost (New York: Scribner's, 1965), p. 26. Sir Julius Caesar describes Lambarde in a revealing combination of terms as "a deep and learned scholar, a great common lawyer, and a religious, conscionable, and worthy gentleman," in Acta Cancellarla, ed. Cecil Monro (London, 1847), p. 15n, cited in Read, introduction to William Lambarde, p. 11.
58 For example, in the coming Parliament Cecil would invoke Parliament's institutional evolution to argue against "precedent." Simonds D'Ewes, The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1682; rpt. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1973), p. 649.
59 Neale, Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments, 2:370.
60 For the Privy Council communications, see Johnson, Elizabeth 1, p. 415. On the potential conflict of monopoly regulation and prerogative powers, see Lord Keeper Egerton's Parliament address of 1598 (Neale, Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments, 2:354-55) and the Commons debates of 1601 (2:377-86).
61 Compare Coke on the inflammatory potential in Hayward's terms "associations" and "yearly and double subsidies" (SPD 274, item 61). For debate concerning royal prerogative in relation to letters patent and enclosure, see D'Ewes, Journals of All the Parliaments, p. 675. One dramatic parliamentary instance of discrepant views of property occurs when laughter greets the claim that "precedent" dictates the queen's right to all English lands and goods (p. 633).
62 Lambarde, Perambulation, p. 492.
63 Read, William Lambarde, pp. 140, 143; subsequent citations appear in the text.
64 Riots by Londoners impressed for Irish service occurred at the market town of Towcester in 1598; probably the worst disturbances by troops connected with the Irish campaign occurred in Chester and Bristol in 1600. Peter Clark, ed., The European Crisis of the 1590s: Essays in Comparative History (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985), p. 55.
65 In 1598 Elizabeth suggests (through Sir Thomas Egerton) the resemblance of justices of the peace to greedy dogs who bark at loyal subjects rather than at rebels (Neale, Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments, 2:366). Such opinions were denounced as "slanderous and defamatory" by Sir Francis Hastings in 1601 (2:423).
66 On public recognition and honor values, see James, Society, Politics, and Culture, esp. pp. 339-40.
Source: '"Word Itself against the Word': Close Reading After Voloshinov," in Shakespeare Reread: The Texts in New Contexts, edited by Russ McDonald, 1994, pp. 226-58.