Jonson's Stoic Politics:
Lipsius, the Greeks, and the "Speach According to Horace"

Robert C. Evans
Auburn University Montgomery

Evans, Robert C. "Jonson's Stoic Politics: Lipsius, the Greeks, and the 'Speach According to Horace.'" Early Modern Literary Studies 4.1 (May, 1998): 1.1-44 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/04-1/evanjons.html>.


  1. The question of Ben Jonson's politics, always important, assumes an added significance during the Caroline period. Since we know (as Jonson did not) the disastrous outcome of Charles' reign, and since that reign, in retrospect, seems infinitely fascinating and controversial, the political attitudes of the most significant Caroline man of letters assume added interest. This is especially true because evaluations of Jonson's later works (particularly the poetry, masques, and entertainments) so often reflect reactions to his presumed political stance. It seems easy to read the late works, especially those written for the king, court, or courtiers, as puff-pieces or whiffs of flattery, all the more embarrassing in light of later events. The Caroline period is often treated as a sorry final chapter in the life and art of a great man and writer. It is often seen as a time when his works declined into "dotages" and when his politics, like his body, lapsed from an earlier sturdiness. Jonson the Caroline writer can sometimes be read as an apologist for a reign that needed apologies but did not deserve them.[1]

  2. It thus seems all the more important to try to determine the political principles that may have motivated Jonson the Caroline poet. What ideals, exactly, may have influenced his political ideas and their poetic expression? What standards may have dictated his political pronouncements? What larger goals and deeper beliefs may have inspired him to write?

  3. Answers are suggested by the numerous markings Jonson made in his personal copy of the Politicorum, sive Civilis Doctrinae Libri Sex (Six Books of Politics or Civil Doctrine) by the Flemish neostoic intellectual, Justus Lipsius. Lipsius' importance for Jonson has recently been discussed at length, but his importance for Jonson the Caroline writer seems all the greater when we recall that the poet could not have read or marked his copy of the Politics earlier than 1623 (its date of publication, not long before Charles' accession in 1625). Lipsius' importance is also enhanced when we remember that Jonson cited the Politics and alluded to it throughout Charles' reign. Although Jonson marked only the first two and part of the fourth books of the Politics, his vigorous markings testify that he read at least those portions of the work with exceptional attention.[2] The sheer energy with which he so profusely marked so much of Lipsius' treatise demonstrates his keen interest, and his quotations or allusions suggest his general sympathy with Lipsius' thinking. Of course, to speak of "Lipsius' thinking" in the Politics is somewhat misleading, since the book is primarily a huge digest of quotations from the Greek and Roman classics. These are assembled, however, to support Lipsius' assertions on basic issues of politics, religion, governance, warfare, and especially ethics. Ethics, indeed, is the key to understanding not only the Politics of Lipsius but also the politics of Jonson. Both men seem to have equated good politics with moral goodness: the just ruler, the worthy citizen, and the ideal commonwealth should all be rooted in virtue.

  4. Lipsius' conception of virtue, like Jonson's, owed much to the great thinkers of ancient Rome, especially the Stoics.[3] As perhaps the foremost "neostoic" of the Renaissance, Lipsius sought to reconcile the wisdom of such sages as Seneca, the shrewdness of such political historians as Tacitus, and the basic moral emphasis of Renaissance Christianity. It hardly seems surprising that Jonson found this mix appealing; he was only one of many European intellectuals who prized Lipsius' book for showing how the insights of the ancient Romans could be harmonized not only with a basic Christian ethic but also with a practical concern for real political conduct.[4]

  5. Yet it was not only from the Romans that Lipsius drew inspiration and citations. He also frequently quoted the Greeks, especially Aristotle, and particularly (if not surprisingly) Aristotle's own Ethics and Politics. And, typically, where Lipsius led, Jonson followed, marking the Greek quotations with a soft pencil and his customary vigor. Jonson also marked quotations from such other major Greek sources as Plato, Plutarch, Thucydides, and Xenophon, and the list of minor Greek sources he marked includes the following: the Adagia Graecorum (Greek adages), Aeschylus, Archilochus, Aristophanes, Athenaeus, Bias, Brasidas, Callimachus, Cleon, "Comicus vetus" (the old comedy), Crates, Dio Cassius, Diogenes Laertius, Diodorus Siculus, Epicurus, Euphemus, Euripides, Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer, Iamblichus, Lucian, Menander, Mercurius (Hermes) Trismegistus, Origines, Pericles, Philo Judaeus, Plutarch, Polybius, Serenus, Solon, Sophocles, and Stobaeus. Jonson's reading of Lipsius was therefore also a way of re-reading the ancient Greeks, and to speak of the "Lipsian" influence on Jonson's Caroline politics is to speak, indirectly, of a Greek influence as well.

  6. Studying Jonson's familiarity with the Greeks, via Lipsius, seems important for several reasons. In the first place, separate copies of many of the Greek authors Jonson marked in Lipsius either do not survive from his personal library, or are not very fully marked by him, or are not marked by him at all. For instance, the standard catalogue of Jonson's library lists only one copy of Aristotle's complete works known to have been owned by the poet, but most of the markings in that volume do not seem to have been made by Jonson.[5] Moreover, although Jonson is reported to have owned copies of Aristotle's Poetics and Rhetoric, their modern locations were unknown when the standard catalogue of his library was published (in 1974), nor have those locations been since reported. Furthermore, although the standard edition of Jonson's writings does cite a few references or allusions to Aristotle, it reports none to Aristotle's Politics.[6] Yet this is the Arisotelian work that Lipsius quotes most often, and Lipsius' quotations from it are routinely marked by Jonson. Similarly, although one allusion to Aristotle's Ethics is reported in the standard edition, Lipsius cites that work repeatedly, and Jonson routinely marks such citations. Examining Jonson's markings of Greek quotations in Lipsius, then, may provide new insights into his political and ethical thinking. (It goes without saying that sometimes a failure to mark, especially when much surrounding matter is marked, can also possibly be significant.) In any case, examination of Jonson's responses to Lipsius' text can certainly offer new information about his familiarity with Greek thought.[7] Moreover, discussing Jonson's familiarity with the Greeks whom Lipsius cites can help us search for unnoted allusions to them in Jonson's own writings of the Caroline period.

  7. One such allusion involves Homer. In The King's Entertainment at Welbeck, performed for Charles in May 1633, the king is described as a man "Whose single watch, defendeth all your sleepes! / Whose labours, are your rests! whose thoughts and cares, / Breed your delights! whose bus'nesse, all your leasures!" (H&S 7: 801). As it happens, these words are borrowed almost verbatim from Seneca, quoted by Lipsius and distinctively marked by Jonson. The supposition that Jonson borrowed from Seneca by way of Lipsius seems clinched by the fact that the immediately preceding line from the Entertainment borrows a phrase from Homer also quoted by Lipsius in the same chapter (and only a few lines before) his quotation from Seneca. In the Entertainment, Jonson calls Charles the "Pastor" of his people, apparently echoing a phrase from Homer's Iliad cited by Lipsius and translated by him as "pastor populorum" (43).[8] Typically, in his copy of the Politics Jonson underlines the original Greek (but not the translation), and the phrase is also encompassed by a long line drawn in the margin (43). Neither the allusion to Seneca nor the echo of Homer is noted in the standard edition of Jonson's works, although both seem clearly to have been inspired by his reading (and marking) of Lipsius.[9]

  8. Reviewing the marked Greek passages in Jonson's copy of Lipsius seems important, then, for several reasons. Doing so gives us a chance, if nothing else, to supplement the index of the standard edition, demonstrating Jonson's familiarity with a far wider range of Greek thought than that index indicates. Moreover, such a review can perhaps assist us in tracing previously unnoted allusions and, more broadly, in appreciating more fully the extent of Jonson's interest in (and familiarity with) Greek culture. He was, after all, the poet who noted Shakespeare's knowledge of "small Latine, and lesse Greeke" (H&S 8:391), and Jonson seems to have been justly proud of his own ability in Greek. We take his knowledge of the Romans for granted, but his awareness of Greek thought and writing has perhaps been less fully stressed. Finally, examining that awareness, as it was derived from his reading of Lipsius, may also help provide a fuller understanding of the underlying political principles that helped shape Jonson's thinking and writing during the reign of Charles I.


  9. Jonson's markings of Greek authors whose names begin the Roman alphabet are spotty until one arrives at Aristotle.[10] He does underline and flower one quote from an unidentified play by AESCHYLUS; this asserts that a wise man knows, not many things, but things which are most useful (36). ANAXIMENES, probable author of the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, also provided several quotes that Jonson marked, but since the Rhetorica was usually attributed to Aristotle (and is so attributed by Lipsius), those quotes will be discussed later. A phrase from ARCHILOCHUS is underlined; it refers to greedy officials who fleece the public (117).[11] Similarly, The Acharnians, by ARISTOPHANES, includes a passage that Jonson marks. It suggests that those who lack religion and fidelity are not to be trusted (54). Finally, ATHENAEUS (117) is cited as the source of a quotation from Sophocles (to be discussed later).

  10. ARISTOTLE, of course, was the Greek writer who most interested Lipsius, and in the sections of the Politics Jonson read, he marks nearly all the Aristotelian citations. He flowers, for instance, an underlined Aristotelian assertion (source unspecified) that the understanding is the soul's eye (31). Although he fails to mark a quote from Aristotle's Ethics linking honesty and prudence (31), he does mark an extended definition of prudence (31) -- a trait Lipsius considered essential in any good ruler. Later he marks a passage from the Ethics in which Aristotle stresses a ruler's need for experience (33), while another marked citation from the same work links prudence with experience (76). Also marked is the claim that we give most credence to that which is least subject to change (77), although Lipsius cautions that prudence can never be reduced to unchanging rules. Interestingly, Jonson fails to pick out in any special way a final quote from the Ethics, in which Aristotle notes the hedonism and dissolute living of the multitude (124).

  11. Aristotle's Politics provides the main source of Lipsius' quotations from the Greek philosopher, and Jonson marks them profusely. He underscores, for instance, the claims that ruling and being ruled are both necessary and profitable (37) and that monarchy is the most ancient and godlike form of government (38). He marks, too, the claim that males are more naturally fit to rule than women (39), as well as the assertion that while a tyrant seeks his own good, a king seeks the profit and good of his subjects (43).[12] Jonson also notes the claim that elected kings are often chosen for their preeminent virtue (44), and he notes, too, Aristotle's advice that a good king should protect his people, both aristocracy and commonality (49).[13] Interestingly, a horizontal line is drawn next to the underscored passage in which Aristotle wonders whether there is any difference between a woman ruling and a prince being ruled by a woman (59). (The extra marking makes one wonder whether Jonson saw any relevance to Charles' relations with Henrietta Maria.) Also specially marked (with a flower and horizontal line) is Aristotle's later declaration that a prince ought to take a chief interest in religion (78).[14] Later, Jonson underscores Aristotle's argument that a prince is only the keeper and distributor, not the owner, of the commonwealth's goods (118), although he fails to underline the philosopher's report that tax assessments were often made in either three- or five-year cycles (120). Jonson does underline the recommendation that no citizen should have too much power (122), and he triply marks the final quotation from Aristotle's Politics with a pointing hand, a flower, and underlining. This is the observation that political instability and tyranny can result from prodigality (123).[15] Here as elsewhere, Jonson seems to have been especially interested in Lipsius' tendency to emphasize the public or political consequences of personal or private behavior.

  12. Lipsius cites Aristotle's Rhetoric less frequently than the Politics, but Jonson shows his usual interest. He marks, for instance, the claim that remembering the past is profitable when making present decisions (34), and he also marks the claim that laws safeguard a city (49). Finally, when Lipsius cautions against excessive taxes, Jonson marks Aristotle's proverbial warning against draining the dead (116). He also marks a passage Lipisus attributes to Aristotle (from the "Rhetor. ad. Theod.") which contends that allowing contracts to be violated or infringed will greatly damage commerce (54). Similarly, Jonson marks as well several passages from the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, once attributed to Aristotle but now assigned to ANAXIMENES. One passage advises that integrity can be expected from those who fear either divine punishment or infamy on earth (55), while another urges a prince to adorn the mind, not the body (56). Jonson not only underlines the Greek version of this passage but also draws a trident-shaped mark next to its Latin translation (57). He also marks a passage from the Rhetorica asserting that God most favors those who worship him with the greatest affection (78), and also one suggesting that all nations account it a capital crime to violate received customs (79).[16] These last three passages probably originated with Anaximenes, but a long line of writers, including Jonson and Lipsius, associated them with Aristotle.

  13. Jonson does mark a passage from ATHENAEUS quoting Sophocles (117; see below). Similarly, words from BIAS are marked, but only as cited by Stobaeus (29; see below), just as BRASIDAS is cited as quoted by Thucydides (54; see below). CALLIMACHUS is, alphabetically, the Greek whom Lipsius next cites and whom Jonson marks: Hymn I is quoted to affirm that kings come from God (38).[17] A source identified only as CLEON is cited as quoted by Thucydides (53; see below), while a passage from "COMICUS VETUS" (old comedy) is underlined to show that money is the soul and blood of mortal men (114). A source identified only as CRATES provides two quotes taken from Stobaeus (119; see below) while various marked quotations list DIO CASSIUS as their source. That historian, for instance, is cited for reporting Maecenas' advice (to the emperor Augustus) that the ruler should always and in all ways revere God, observe his country's laws, and encourage others to do likewise (79). Interestingly, Jonson does not underline an immediately ensuing quotation from Dio Cassius advising strong punishment for those who innovate in religion, although a long curved and then vertical marginal line does encompass it (79).[18] Although Jonson underscores a later quote noting that the common people diligently examine a prince's profits and revenues but overlook his expenses (114), he does not underline another quote from Dio Cassius suggesting that the poor should be taxed little by little (118). Yet he emphatically marks (with a marginal flower, a curved line, a horizontal line, and underscoring) a passage from Dio Cassius contending that the people will not begrudge taxes if they see that the prince lives soberly and moderately, without wasting anything vainly (118). Finally, Maecenas is the source of two unmarked quotes from Dio Cassius (119; 121).

  14. "DIOGENES STOIC." is the cited source of a vigorously marked quote. This Diogenes seems to have been the Stoic philosopher sometimes linked with Babylonia or Seleucia (Webster's 421). Lipsius cites Stobaeus, the Greek anthologist, as his source for this lengthy quote, which is marked with underlining, a flower, a vertical line in the margin, and a horizontal line. In it, Diogenes argues that the worthiest person (the prince) should most revere the worthiest matter (religion), since both he and it are preeminent (78). Meanwhile, two marked quotes are attributed to the Bibliotheca of DIODORUS SICULUS. The first praises history for preserving the virtue of worthy persons, for recording the wretched acts of the wicked, and for benefitting all mankind (34). The second, specially highlighted with a flower, is used by Lipsius to condemn Egyptian kings who sought to solidify their rule by imposing a diverse and confused religion on their subjects, thus preventing conspiracies (78).

  15. EPICURUS, as cited in Latin by Seneca, is then cited by Lipsius in a passage Jonson marks. To stress the power of conscience, Epicurus is paraphrased as arguing that a wicked man may hide himself but will still be full of doubt (29). Similarly, EUPHEMUS, as cited by Thucydides, is marked by Jonson (48; see below). Meanwhile, EURIPIDES is the source of three quotes. One argues that great persons should obey the law (48).[19] The second (apparently from Iphigeneia in Taurus) praises fidelity (54), and the third is used to condemn cynical, hypocritical piety that can disguise violations of equity and justice (54). Finally, "Moyses the AEgyptian," as cited by EUSEBIUS (and as translated by the Latin writer Rufinus of Aquileia), is quoted to suggest that in judging a man's faith, seeing (rather than hearing) is believing (25). In other words, acts are more credible than declarations.

  16. A source listed only as "GRAECOR. ADAG." (Greek adages?) provides a marked quote arguing that god sells riches for labor (27), while the Histories of HERODOTUS provide a flowered passage declaring that a man cannot avoid what is fated, nor will he accept admonishment rooted in probability (27). The Theogony of HESIOD, meanwhile, is quoted to argue that the earliest kings were created only to speak what was right and to punish offences (49), while HOMER is cited on six separate occasions. One unspecified Homeric source, for instance, claims that kings are nourished and brought up with God (39), and the Iliad is quoted to support the ideal of one lord and prince (39).[20] The Iliad is also the source of a passage comparing the king to a shepherd (43), while a flowered passage from the same source stresses the dishonor involved when a prince devours his people (i.e., through taxation; 114). Two passages from the Odyssey stress the value of experience in knowing good and evil (33) and emphasize the ideal similarities between a prince and a father (51).

  17. IAMBLICHUS is quoted twice by Lipsius in passages that Jonson marks. He and Aristotle are both cited to suggest that the understanding is the eye of the soul (an idea flowered by Jonson; 31), while Iamblichus alone is credited with the claim that what is honored increases, that what is condemned diminishes, and that such patterns are signs of a well ordered kingdom (125). LUCIAN, meanwhile, provides the figurative language which allows Lipsius to accuse greedy officials of being more ravenous than cats (a comparison Jonson not only underlines but highlights with one of his distinctive cross-shaped marks). MENANDER is quoted to argue that all things obey prudence (32), while the Poemandres of MERCURIUS (HERMES) TRISMEGISTUS is cited to assert that all mortals are subject to destiny by birth and mutability (26). ORIGENES is quoted to prove that conscience is the correctress of our affections and the schoolmistress of our soul (28), and PERICLES is quoted by Thucydides, who in turn is quoted by Lipsius (28; see below). Meanwhile, PHILO JUDAEUS, in his Embassy to Gaius, provides the observation that people base religious beliefs on personal emotions rather than reason. However, Jonson does not underline this quote (although it is encompassed by one of his long marginal lines).

  18. PLATO provides a number of quotations that Jonson underscored, although he is cited less than half as often as Aristotle in the parts of Lipsius' Politics that Jonson marked. Jonson notes, for instance, words from the Theaetetus emphasizing that virtue and justice are divine qualities (23), but he fails to mark words from the Republic alluding to the difficulty of discussing religious topics (25). The Meno provides the idea that prudence precedes and leads to proper behavior (31), while Alcibiades II provides an unmarked definition of discretion (32). Plato's Politicus is the source for an underlined assertion comparing a king to a god among men (38), and from the Politicus, too, comes a marked quotation arguing that a lawless state will seem irksome and attract no willing allegiance (47). Jonson shows great interest in a passage from Alcibiades I (marking it in various ways, including with a flower, and underlining both the original Greek and the Latin translation). Here Plato is quoted as urging that to govern well, a ruler must communicate his virtue to the citizens (45). Finally, Jonson flowers a passage from Plato's Laws urging assessments of individual wealth (120).

  19. PLUTARCH is another Greek who apparently fascinated both Lipsius and Jonson. His Parallel Lives provided Lipsius with a number of quotes that Jonson marked. The life of Timolean, for instance, commends history for providing patterns of virtue to emulate (34), while the life of Cato seems the source of a quote from Cato suggesting that law courts should be set with traps for lawyers (50). From the life of Alexander Lipsius seems to have borrowed that leader's criticism of gardeners who cut herbs to the root (115) -- criticism that Lipsius uses to indict excessive taxation. However, on the same page of Lipsius' Politics, Jonson fails to mark a comment on persuasion and force from Plutarch's life of Themistocles (115), nor does he mark another comment (from the same source) on poverty and weakness (116). He does, though, mark a quote from Plutarch taken from a work identified only as "Politic." This passage observes that people are generally full of malice and complaint toward those who govern (126). Finally, Plutarch (in a work identified only as "Apophth.") is also the source of the underscored idea that princes are accustomed to being criticized for doing good (126).

  20. POLYBIUS, another historian, provided two Lipsian passages marked by Jonson. The first commends histories for providing the best guide to managing civil affairs (34), while the second (in Latin) commends stable commonwealths in which people live virtuous private lives while publicly embracing clemency and justice (45). Meanwhile, a Greek cited only as "SERINUS" (or "SERENUS") is quoted to defend monarchy, comparing the effects of divided power to the probable dangers of having two suns (38). From an unspecified source, SOLON is quoted as linking advancing wisdom with advancing age (34), and three quotations are attributed to SOPHOCLES. The first, on prudence as a source of happiness (32), comes from Antigone, while a second, from an unspecified work, illustrates Jonson's occasionally selective annotation. The entire passage is encompassed by a vertical line, but only the last phrase is underscored. The section not underlined lists the chaos resulting from lack of government, while the underscored portion emphasizes the benefits of obedience (37).[21] Finally, an unspecified Sophoclean passage (borrowed from Athenaeus) is not underlined but is marginally marked. It suggests that people often overlook evil when pursuing gain (117). In contrast, the Florilegium of STOBAEUS is cited for (in turn) citing Bias, who linked a clear conscience with lack of fear (29), just as Stobaeus' Sermones are quoted for citing an unspecified "Crates" who compared princely wealth and riches to fig trees on mountaintops, accessible only to birds of prey (119). Jonson flowers this, and the same source is cited to identify such birds with strumpets and flatterers (119). Like other marked passages in Greek, these two memorably demonstrate Jonson's often mediated access to the classics: Crates is cited by Stobaeus, Stobaeus is cited by Lipsius, and Lipsius' citation is read and marked by Jonson.

  21. THUCYDIDES provides another example of such indirect access. Thus from an oration quoted by the Greek historian, Jonson marks Pericles' words that we must endure what the gods decree and must confront enemies with fortitude (28), just as he also marks Lipsius quoting Thucydides quoting the Athenian ambassador Euphemus. Euphemus is reported to have justified expedient rulers, but Lipsius strongly condemns his words, and Jonson not only underlines the quotation but also marks it with an asterisk (48). Jonson also marks a passage from Thucydides suggesting that men and states naturally err and that no laws can completely restrain them (52). When Thucydides quotes Cleon as having said that commiseration, gracious speech, and lenity hurt a government (53), Jonson underlines and flowers the quotation, but he also underlines Lipsius' assessment that Cleon foully erred in having said this. However, Lipsius explicitly commends Brasidas, as cited by Thucydides, for having said that it is more disgraceful for powerful persons to triumph by deceit than by open force (54). Jonson not only underscores this notion but marks it with an asterisk, and these words constitute simply another of the various passages he marked in which Lipsius quotes Thucydides quoting someone else.

  22. XENOPHON brings us not only near the close of the alphabet but also to the end of the Greek sources Jonson marked. From the Memorabilia Socratis, for instance, he underlined a passage arguing that a king is not chosen in order to pamper himself but in order to promote the happiness of those who have so honored him (43). Similarly, from the Cyropaedeia he marked Cyrus' opinion that no person was fit to rule unless he was more excellent than his subjects (44), and he similarly marked Cyrus' reasoning (from the same source) that if persons feared God, they would be less likely to attack either each other or the ruler (78). From Xenophon's Anabasis Lipsius borrowed, and Jonson marked, the assertion that no riches can adorn a person, especially a prince, more than virtue and justice (48). And, finally, from the Hieron comes a marked passage associating Venus and the graces with the prince (57). Lipsius uses this quote to advise against over-elaborate clothing, and Jonson marks the words not only with underlining but also with an emphatic asterisk.


  23. The relevance of Jonson's reading of Lipsius to an understanding of the poet's Caroline politics can easily be glimpsed if we turn to one of his earliest Caroline poems -- "A speach according to Horace" (Under-wood 44; H&S 8.213-16). Its date has usually been assumed to be early in the new reign, but Martin Butler has recently offered convincing reasons for dating it fairly precisely, arguing that it was probably written sometime "between late March and mid-April 1626" (287). This means that the poem was probably composed not much more than a year after Charles succeeded to the throne, and only a few years after Jonson could have acquired his 1623 copy of Lipsius' Politics. There is, of course, no way to know for sure whether the poet had acquired his copy of Lipsius before writing the "Speach," yet this uncertainty hardly matters. My point, after all, is not to argue that reading Lipsius influenced the poem's composition; rather, my point is to suggest that the politics the poem reveals are congruent with the Politics of Justus Lipsius. Whether Jonson read the Politics before or after writing the poem, the "Speach" implies many parallels with the thoughts of the Flemish theorist. If the Politics influenced the poet, it is easy to see why; if the author of the "Speach" read Lipsius with interest, that is also easy to understand.

  24. George Parfitt, one of Jonson's best critics, has called the "Speach" "puzzling and fascinating" and "an example of a great public poet trying to cope with a difficult social and historical situation" (86). Parfitt rightly points out that the poem "belongs to a period of national and international uncertainty, a period which forced men to examine their allegiances and beliefs with care" (87), and he argues that the "Speach" is fascinating "partly because it is not only a deeply disturbed poem but also because it is one in which the disturbance is not fully resolved" (87). In the poem, Jonson excoriates the aristocracy and gentry for neglecting their traditional duties as military leaders, and, with a mixture of admiration, condescension, and apparently genuine perplexity, he describes how trained bands of armed commoners have stepped in to fill the gap. According to Parfitt, "Jonson found the situation puzzling," since the "vacuum [had been] filled by men whom Jonson could not believe were capable of fulfilling the roles they were playing" (91). Parfitt considers Jonson's puzzlement "honest, intelligent, and revealing" (91), and he contends that the "quality and integrity of Jonson's response in this poem are such that its inability to provide solutions testifies to the difficulties of the situation" (92). In Parfitt's words,

    Preserving the tensions of a major creative writer as his society moved towards changes of immense importance, the poem thus reveals something of the complexity of choice-with-integrity at this time, and it provides a moving sense of how deeply a man may care for a culture and society which were destined, as history posthumously says, to change . . . . (92)

  25. Parfitt's reading makes the "Speach" seem all the more fascinating, both as a poem and as a human and historical document. One can easily see why a man capable of writing this work might eagerly have welcomed the social, ethical, and political advice Lipsius could offer. And, in fact, Lipsius' ideas seem especially relevant to a fuller understanding of the mentality that produced the poem's final half. That section (largely unexamined by Parfitt) vibrates with resonances also heard in Lipsius, and noting such parallels can perhaps provide us with new insights -- not simply into Jonson's "stoic politics" but also into the complexities of a particularly intriguing work of art. Here as elsewhere, knowing something about Jonson's politics can perhaps help to make us more sensitive readers of his poems.

  26. The concluding portion of the "Speach" attacks the superficial training of various "Lordings" (l. 62) and "Grandlings" (l. 64), who bristle at any attempt to "tutor" them in their responsibilities (l. 66), especially when that attempt is made by "Booke-wormes" (l. 67).[22] Rejecting their traditional military duties, they take pride instead in their birth, breeding, and alliances (l. 66), and Jonson makes them contemptuously ask, "Why are we rich, or great, except to show / All licence in our lives?" (ll. 69-70). The only subjects they profess to care about are sports, whoring, dancing, making money, attending plays, and wearing elaborate costumes. As for their social obligations, Jonson imagines them variously crying, "let Clownes, and Tradesmen breed / Their Sonnes to studie Arts, the Lawes, the Creed" (ll. 73-74), and "Let poore Nobilitie be vertuous" (l. 79), and "Let them care, / That in the Cradle of their Gentrie are; / To serve the State by Councels, and by Armes" (ll. 83-85). The poem's final lines condemn such pseudo-aristocrats as "Carkasses of honour; Taylors blocks, / Cover'd with Tissue, whose prosperitie mocks / The fate of things" (ll. 99-101). They are, in the poem's grim final words, nothing but hollow or "emptie moulds" (l. 102). Their personal irresponsibility, Jonson suggests, is not only individually degenerate but also dangerous to the larger body politic.

  27. As it happens, the final pages that Jonson marked in his copy of Lipsius' Politics are obviously relevant to the general tone and specific details of the "Speach." Those pages idealize the old Roman role of censor, a role concerned with supervising and correcting manners. Jonson seems to have sometimes seen himself as a kind of censor, and certainly the title of his poem suggests that he was self-consciously thinking of Roman examples. In any case, his markings in this section of Lipsius provide many points of comparison with the indictment he issues in the "Speach." For instance, there is an obvious parallel between the tone of the poem and Lipsius' claim that when license is tolerated, it can eventually "wholly subvert an estate" (121). To combat such license, the censor should serve "as the corrector of manners, and master of the ancient discipline" (121) -- certainly a role Jonson seems to relish playing in this poem.[23] In particular, the censor should be concerned (as is Jonson in the "Speach") "to cut off from youth ill practises, and unlawfull desires" (121), and he should encourage all citizens to pursue "goodnesse and paines taking, not sumptuousnesse, nor riches" (121).[24] Without such correction, excess would "grow infinit in euerie thing, where monie might be prodigallie consumed" (122), particularly in "Monie, Buildings, Banquets, and Apparel" (122).[25] According to Lipsius, "Effeminate riches haue poisoned al ages with dishonest superfluitie" (122), and an excessive concern with money (as demonstrated by the "Grandlings" in "A Speach") is "a most dangerous plague" (122). Typically, Lipsius piles quotation on quotation to reiterate his point, borrowing words from Aristotle, among many others (122).

  28. Lipsius' condemnation of "usurie" that benefits "the welthier sort" (121; a recurrent theme) seems particularly relevant to Jonson's similar condemnation of the idle rich, whose chief interest is in "so much land a yeare, or such a Banke, / That turnes us so much moneys, at which rate / Our Ancestors impos'd on Prince and State" (ll. 76-78). Similarly relevant to Jonson's poem is Lipsius' attack on "Superfluitie in banquets and apparell," which is the token of "a diseased citie" (123). Such tastes "do stirre vp youth, after they have spent their owne substance, to do wicked acts" (123), and indeed Aristotle himself is quoted as having warned that "alteration [i.e., subversion or revolution] is made in an estate, when men consume all in living prodigallie, for these fellowes bend their studies to innouat matters, and either they themselues are very neere tyrannie, or else they call others thereto" (123). Jonson may have taken a particular interest in this warning, since it is preceded by the admonition that unchecked license "will breed a seminarie of the race of Catiline" (123).

  29. To combat the kinds of excesses he attacks, Lipsius commends the role of censor -- a role quite similar to that of the Jonsonian satirist. The censor ideally functions by attempting to shame transgressors (124), much as Jonson does in the "Speach." If shame should fail, then corporal punishment may be necessary (124), but in any case the prince must be vigilant to "Cause Faith to return backe, correct voluptuousnesse, and bind together, by seuere lawes, those things which are decaied" (124).[26] The ruler should "rather . . . labour for the safetie of all men, then for their pleasure" (124). When supervising his people, he should not "winke at that which is euill, dissemble their faults, and with their present pleasure, giue consent to their future mischiefe" (124). Instead, he must live an exemplary life and thus shame others into doing the same.[27] "Shame will worke the best alteration in some, in others necessitie, and euen a loathing of it in others" (125). Iamblichus is quoted as extolling the effectiveness of princely reward and punishment: "What so is in honour is augmented and increaseth, & that which is in contempt, declineth, and diminisheth: and that is a most manifest sign of a kingdome well established" (125). One could hardly ask for a better explanation of the rationale and objectives of Jonson's "Speach," a poem in which Jonson adopts the role of censor, becoming a kind of unofficial magistrate of manners.

  30. Whether Jonson read Lipsius' discussion of the censor before, during, or after writing his poem, it is easy to see why that reading caught his interest and how it is relevant both to this specific poem and to his Caroline politics in general. Fundamentally, both the theorist and the poet share an essentially moralistic approach to political problems: most political and social ills can be traced to the kind of "private" immorality the "Speach" attacks. In fact, of course, for both Jonson and Lipsius no immorality is ever truly private; all selfish or unethical conduct inevitably has harmful social consequences. If Jonson seems obsessed by such apparently trivial matters as aristocratic addictions to "gate, / Carriage, and dressing" (ll. 87-88) and if he fulminates against those whose chief desire is to "make legs" and "smell most sweet" (l. 90), it is not because he is a busybody who cannot leave other people alone. It is because he, like Lipsius, cannot finally separate "private" behavior from its social and political ramifications. No wonder he read Lipsius with such eagerness; no wonder he marked him with such zest.

  31. However, pointing out the general parallels between Lipsian ideas and the ideas Jonson expresses in "A Speach" calls attention to only one of the poem's dimensions. Like any significant work of art, the "Speach" is interesting less for what it says than for the artistry with which its points are made. We value Jonson first and foremost as a poet, not as a political thinker, and the true test of his worth as a political poet resides in the way he manages to make his politics contribute to the richness and density of his art. George Parfitt has already demonstrated how the political ambivalence of the "Speach" heightens its artistic complexity and its lasting interest, but, as before, Parfitt's remarks focus mainly on the poem's first half. Here, I will conclude by examining more closely the final section, a section that is both politically intriguing and artistically sophisticated.


  32. Obviously one technique that Jonson most fully exploits in the "Speach" is the one Lipsius associates with the Roman censor: the technique of shame. The poem can be read as one long effort to embarrass and humiliate the irresponsible aristocrats who neglect their duties to the commonwealth. Although Jonson suggests that his hope is to "perswade" (l. 61) or appeal to reason, he immediately concedes that this goal is unrealistic: his targets are likened to irrational, inhuman forces of nature (the "billow, wind, and storme" of "Tempestuous Grandlings"; ll. 63-64). This hopelessness, of course, helps authorize Jonson's blatantly satirical tone, even while the satire itself is meant to persuade the uncorrupted (including, presumably, the King) that social reformation is urgently needed.[28]

  33. Jonson suggests that the obstacles to reform include not only personal egotism but also family pride and class snobbery -- all forces which subvert the ideal and reality of a commonwealth. Jonson imagines the "Grandlings" asking, "Who'll informe / Us, in our bearing, that are thus, and thus, / Borne, bred, allied?" (ll. 64-66). These lines demonstrate his artistry, especially in the heavily accented "Us," the ensuing assonance of "us" sounds, the forceful alliteration of "b's," and the strong stress on the three significant final verbs. The smug tone perfectly fits the imagined speakers, but, as usual, Jonson also squeezes maximum meaning out of a few words. The phrase "Borne, bred, allied," for instance, encapsulates the major stages of a grandling's life, especially the word "allied," which implies not only involvement in political factions (themselves dangerous to the commonwealth) but also the formation of family alliances. Marriage is imagined here as primarily political; the family is conceived not as rooted in love, loyalty, and virtue, but simply as another self-seeking interest group.

  34. When Jonson imagines the grandlings objecting to being "tutor[ed]" by "Booke-wormes" (l. 67), he may have recalled his own real-life roles as tutor and reader, although he obviously also looks back to the reference in l. 35 to "Aelian's tactickes," a book which the city bands apparently consulted. Jonson himself owned, read, and marked a copy of this famous work (in the original Latin, of course [McPherson 13, 23]), and his reading of both Aelian and Lipsius shows that his interests, though bookish, were never impractical. This makes all the more ironic the grandlings' accusation that bookish tutors "dare doe nothing free" (l. 68). Jonson, of course, prided himself on his daring and valor,[29] but the accusation is also ironic, because the freedom the grandlings prize is actually enslaving. Theirs is an egotistical "licence" (l. 70) which, by abdicating responsibility, actually promotes oppression, tyranny, and even foreign attack. By voicing the usually unspoken asumptions that motivate the grandlings' conduct, Jonson exposes their foolishness.[30]

  35. By demanding the right to "All" licence (l. 70), the grandlings violate the cardinal Lipsian tenets of reason and moderation.[31] Seeking mere pleasure, they miss their full human potential -- a fact nicely emphasized when Jonson links them with animals such as dogs, horses, and hawks (ll. 71-72). The grandlings reject such distinguishingly human (and humane) values as learning, loyalty, virtue, honor, and responsibility, and indeed they make a sorry contrast even with the animals they prize, since these beasts display such qualities as obedience, discipline, and focused pursuit. Their masters, in contrast, merely assume their superiority to "Citizens," "Clownes," and "Tradesmen" (l. 73), and Jonson seems to mock, not share, their condescension. Here as elsewhere, he seems to value worth, not wealth or birth. For him as for Lipsius, virtue is the chief criterion of social merit.[32]

  36. In dismissing so quickly and cavalierly the importance of learning "Arts" and "Lawes" and "Creed" (l. 74), the grandlings dismiss three central emphases of Lipsius' Politics, and it seems nicely ironic that the stressed verb-phrase "will beleeve" (l. 75) refers not to any transcendent commitment but simply to a willful devotion to wealth.[33] Here again Jonson takes full advantage of an apparently simple word, since "will" implies not only stubbornness but also inevitability and an indefinite, continuing perversity. At the same time, he looks back to the past while refusing to romanticize it, instead conceding that the self-serving aristocrats merely follow the false lead of greedy "Ancestors" (l. 78). Yet even as he criticizes aristocratic snobbery (as in the reference to "men of our owne Ranke"; l. 75), Jonson does not criticize the ideal of aristocracy itself. Indeed, it is the grandlings who betray that ideal by expecting only the "poore Nobilitie" to "be vertuous" (l. 79). Jonson even makes the "Prince and State" seem victims of aristocratic avarice (l. 78). Caroline England is criticized, but Charles himself escapes direct blame. Both he and the commonwealth are abused by nobles who, instead of priding themselves on a heritage of service, benefit from a heritage of self-serving exploitation.

  37. The egotism of such persons is, as usual, not only stated but also poetically and ironically underscored. Thus Jonson nicely stresses "Wee" (l. 79), while the adjective "poore" boomerangs in ways the wealthy but unworthy grandlings do not anticipate (l. 79). The grandlings have "Descended" in more ways than one, and the "rope of Titles" they value refers not only to interwoven strands of family connections, and not only to appelations of social rank, but also to binding, legalistic contracts or deeds of land. In these, ultimately, their power is rooted, although it is also shored up by the kind of bookworms (heralds) they earlier disdained (ll. 67; 82). Just as they concede military power to the trained bands, so they concede another sort of power to the heralds; their earlier lack of interest in learning extends even to their own family histories.[34] And, through their irresponsibility, they permit fabricated titles to take up the slack. As long as heralds can justify aristocratic wealth, the grandlings are content; their "blood is now become / Past any need of vertue" (ll. 82-83). Here Jonson seems to suggest not only the literal, material blood through which titles were inherited, but also temperament and mettle, just as he also implies that virtue is partly a response to the challenges posed by necessity. An aristocracy faced with no pressures from necessity inevitably becomes both physically and ethically weak.

  38. This weakness makes the reiterated "let . . . Let . . . Let" clauses of ll. 73-86 seem especially ironic. The repeated verbs suggest condescending permission or supercilious allowance ("Let poore Nobilitie be vertuous . . . Let them care"). Yet the clauses also convey weakness, fatigue, and dissipation disguised as indifference -- an abdication of responsibility and authority. The grandlings grant the right to duties (but also powers) they no longer care to discharge. By surrendering their traditional roles and rights to persons they consider to be "in the Cradle of their Gentrie" (l. 84), the grandlings actually prove their own immaturity, their own lack of accountability. Indeed, by calling them "grandlings" (a term he seems to have coined; see OED), Jonson even hints that they are little more than "groundlings" -- commoners in the least attractive sense, despite their land and titles. They refuse to serve "the State," either "by Councels" or "by Armes" (l. 85). The phrasing here, as often, is quietly equivocal: "Councels" can be understood both as modern-day "councils" and as "counsels" (suggesting both public and private advice), while the linking of "Councels" and "Armes" suggests the ideal union of mind and body, intent and deed, always prized by Jonson. Moreover, when the grandlings confess that they "neither love the Troubles, nor the harmes" (l. 86), the linked nouns suggest an aversion both to mental or emotional anxiety and to physical or material risk.

  39. This emphasis on avoiding pain, however, is at once replaced by a desire not simply for pleasure but for illicit pleasure. The first "love" the grandlings mention is a "whore" -- a noun that immediately renders the word "love" ironic (l. 87). In the same way, the verb "study" is paradoxical, since the "study" mentioned makes mind serve body (ll. 86-87). Moreover, the subjects of such study are completely superficial; they lack even the dignity of being necessary. The grandlings make their bodies act and appear in unnatural, unspontaneous ways, and although such "study" is motivated partly by egotism, it is also driven by a fear of of being momentarily unfashionable. Ironically, the grandlings neglect their larger responsibilities to the commonwealth not in pursuit of genuine independence (which Jonson might respect), but rather in pursuit of a debased and slavish obedience. Here as throughout, egotism equals servitude. The grandlings' concern with "gate, / Carriage, and dressing" makes them seem almost feminine (ll. 87-88), if femininity is identified (as it often was in Jonson's culture) with weakness and vanity.[35]

  40. Jonson's reference to such superficial "study" nicely sets up his ensuing ironic mention of the "Academie, where the Gallants meet" to "make legs" and "to smell most sweet" (ll. 89-90). By selecting "Academie," of course, he chooses a noun with enormous resonance -- a word linked with some of the greatest traditions of classical philosophy. In the present context the word seems almost parodic, and this group of self-absorbed "Gallants" also contrasts strongly not only with truly disciplined scholars but even with the well-intentioned (if somewhat ridiculous) trained bands of citizen-soldiers whom Jonson stresses so strongly in the poem's first half. The very word "Gallant" -- from a French term meaning to "make merry" -- suggests the superficiality of those it describes, while the gallants' concern to "make legs" implies not genuine deference or real respect but simply another kind of self-assertion, competition, and public display. The act of making legs may involve bowing and apparent humility, but in this case it actually symbolizes pride. Like so much the grandlings do, it is done for show.

  41. This is why it seems so appropriate that they attend "Playes," where they are less concerned to witness performances than to perform. Just as they neglect their responsibilities as members of the commonwealth, so they also neglect their responsibilities as attentive members of the audience. They attend theaters not to learn but to usurp attention, a fact which makes the reference to how diligently they "learne and studie" at the "Academie" all the more ironic (l. 92). By describing how the grandlings primp (fixing their "eye-browes," attempting their "Beautie to repaire" [ll. 97, 96]), Jonson once again feminizes them, but he also implies how much their neglect of the endangered body politic springs from a preoccupation with their own decaying bodies. How appropriate, then, that he should call them "Carkasses of honour" (l. 99). This apparently simple phrase is typically rich, suggesting not only that the grandlings embody the death of honor, and not only that they are carkasses who happen (by accident of birth) to be conventionally honored, but also that the body is inevitably nothing more than a carcass, especially if its role as the temporary home of spirit and virtues is neglected.

  42. However, Jonson disgustedly refuses "to stay" any "longer on these pictures" (l. 98). He refuses, that is, to pay them the attention they crave, just as he also refuses to pay them the attendance they expect. They may make legs to others, but he refuses to make any obeisance to them. For him they are simply "pictures" -- insubstantial images, the mere likenesses of real persons. Their "prosperitie mocks / The fate of things" in several typically complicated senses (ll. 100-01). First, they proudly, falsely assume that their material prosperity protects them against fate, which of course it cannot do. Their own mockery can and will be mocked -- as, indeed, it is in this poem. Moreover, while the word "things" might at first seem too vague or abstract to be exact, it is in fact precisely the right word to suggest the ultimately undistinguished, undifferentiated condition of mere matter. Despite all their pride and temporary triumph, the grandlings are things little different from the "things" they buy and wear.

  43. Yet their triumph, though temporary, is a fact Jonson cannot and does not deny. (Denying it, of course, would make his poem unnecessary.) Instead, he ends with the haunting image of "totter'd vertue," who "holds / Her broken Armes up, to their [the grandlings'] emptie moulds" (ll. 101-02). The reference to "broken Armes" is not only a powerful symbol of powerlessness but is also particularly appropriate to this poem, with its emphasis on military decadence. Just as he had earlier imagined humans as mere pictures, so here Jonson seems to imagine a concept or ideal (Virtue) as if it were a living, injured being. The final gesture of "vertue" -- holding up her broken arms -- can be interpreted variously as defiance, supplication, fear, or courage. Here as so often elsewhere, Jonson's famous "plain style" is anything but. Although the poem gives its literal last words to the grandlings, those words ("emptie moulds") suggest lack of substance and eventual defeat.

  44. Unfortunately, there seems no way of knowing whether Jonson, by the time he finished his poem, had also finished or even started his reading of Lipsius. What do seem clear, however, are the many ways in which the stoic politics championed by Lipsius meshed with Jonson's own political instincts. The passages Jonson marked in his copy of the Politics suggest the same mentality responsible for a poem like the "Speach according to Horace." Lipsius provides an elaborate, explicit rationale for the attitudes the "Speach" implies, and the same seems true of much of Jonson's writing from the Caroline period. Those attitudes seem to have been broadly moralistic rather than narrowly ideological: true ethical reformation (rather than mere constitutional tinkering) seem to have been at the heart of many of Jonson's political ideals. Appreciating Jonson's apparent sympathy with Lipsian political thinking can therefore also, perhaps, help us comprehend the principles that underlay Jonson's response to Charles, his opponents, and his reign. And comprehending these principles may, in turn, help us to a fuller appreciation of Jonson's Caroline art.


1. For fuller discussion of this matter see, for instance, Evans, Jonson, Lipsius, and the Politics of Renaissance Stoicism, 35-36 and especially the works cited in note 8.

2. For a full discussion of these matters, see Evans, Jonson, Lipsius, and the Politics of Renaissance Stoicism. See also the articles by Evans in the anthology edited by James Hirsh; the article by Lynn Bryan and Evans; and the note by Probst and Evans.

3. For discussions of Jonson and stoicism see, for instance, Hilberry, Maus, and McCanles (to name only a few possible sources).

4. For a good recent survey of neostoic influence, see Salmon. See also the works cited in Evans, Jonson, Lipsius, and the Politics of Renaissance Neostoicism (esp. at 1-27 and 339-49) and, also, the major new study by Andrea McCrea.

5. See McPherson, esp. 26-27.

6. See Ben Jonson, ed. C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, 11 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925-52), 11: 616. Hereafter this edition will be abbreviated as "H&S."

7. On the issue of whether Jonson could read Greek, see McPherson, 17-18.

8. Parenthetical page numbers, here and throughout, refer to the pages in Lipsius' Politics on which specific passages appear. These pages are photographically reproduced in Evans, Jonson, Lipsius, and the Politics of Renaissance Stoicism (275-338). William Jones' 1594 English translation is printed on pages 156-274 of the same book. Jones' translation has been reformatted to correspond exactly to the pagination of Jonson's Lipsius, so that page 23 of the Politics, for instance, is also page 23 of the translation.

9. For a much fuller discussion of this example, see the article by Probst and Evans.

10. For the reader's convenience, I have capitalized the names of the Greek authors Jonson marked. All the marked passages are underlined by him unless otherwise indicated. When Jonson's additional marking is particularly heavy or interesting, I have tried to indicate that in my comments within the body of this paper. For discussion and reproduction of Jonson's characteristic markings, see Evans, Jonson, Lipsius, and the Politics of Renaissance Stoicism, 153-55 and 275-38. My parenthetical numbers refer to pages in Lipsius; for a fuller explanation, see endnote 8 above.

11. Charles I, in one of his first significant proclamations, promised "the reformation & redresse of any abuses in misgovernment, upon due knowledge & examination thereof" (Larkin 2: 5). From time to time I will cite relevant passages from the proclamations Charles issued during the first year or so of his reign, since I will later discuss a poem written by Jonson near the end of that first regnal year. My purpose is to suggest a few of the potential points of contact between the thinking of Lipsius, Charles, and Jonson. For fuller discussion of this matter, see Evans, Jonson, Lipsius, and the Politics of Renaissance Stoicism, 111-24 and 126-30. Hereafter I will refer to Charles' proclamations by citing "Larkin," with appropriate volume and page numbers.

12. In a proclamation dated 28 March 1625, Charles promised to "shew himselfe a most gracious and benigne Soveraigne Lord to all his good Subjects, in all their just and lawfull suites and causes" (Larkin 2: 3).

13. In his first two proclamations, Charles repeatedly stressed the rights and duties of "all" his subjects (Larkin, 2: 3-5, passim).

14. In a proclamation dated 14 August 1625, Charles declared his "readinesse and constant resolution to maintaine the same true Religion professed, and by Law established within this Realme, and upon all occasions to suppresse the contrary" (Larkin 2: 53).

15. In a proclamation dated 4 September 1625, Charles rebuked the "dissoluteness, and neglect of warlike discipline" in certain of his troops, arguing that "great danger to the service and imployment wherein they are placed, is manifestly threatned therby" (Larkin 2: 58-59).

16. In a proclamation dated 14 August 1625, Charles praised the "true and hearty zeale and affection to Gods true Religion" of most of his subjects, and he commanded English Catholic seminarians living abroad to "submit themselves to his Majesties Lawes, and conforme themselves to live in such dutie and obedience as becommeth good Subjects" (Larkin 2: 53).

17. The proclamation declaring Charles' accession (dated 27 March 1625) beseeched "God, by whom Kings doe Reigne" (Larkin 2: 2).

18. In a proclamation dated 14 June 1626, Charles declared "His full and constant resolution, that neither in matter of Doctrine, or Discipline of the Church, nor in the government of the State, he will admit of the least innovation . . ." (Larkin 2: 91).

19. In a proclamation dated 28 March 1625, Charles commanded "all persons of all estates, degrees and conditions, to see his peace duely kept, and to be obedient to his Lawes . . ." (Larkin 2: 3).

20. In a proclamation dated 13 May 1625, Charles declared his intent that "there may be one uniforme course of Government, in, and through all Our whole Monarchie . . . " (Larkin 2: 28).

21. In a proclamation dated 28 March 1625, Charles declared his expectation that his people would "in all cases shew themselves unto his Majestie, their naturall liege Lord, most loving, faithfull, and obedient Subjects, according to their most bounden duties and allegiances, whereby they shall please Almighty God, and doe that which shall tend to their owne preservations and safeties . . ." (Larkin 2: 3).

22. I quote from the text printed in H&S (8: 213-16).

23. In a proclamation dated 26 May 1625, Charles, referring to his father's court, attacks the "disorder in and about his houshold, by reason of the many idle persons, and other unnecessary attendants following the same; Which evill, We, finding to bring much dishonour to Our House, have resolved the reformation thereof . . ." (Larkin 2: 37).

24. In a proclamation dated 14 May 1625, Charles rebuked merchants whose "greedy desire of vnlawfull gaine, would never bee kept within any bounds of equall and reasonable Prices . . ." (Larkin 2: 30).

25. In a proclamation dated 2 May 1625, Charles sought to restrain disorderly building in London; see Larkin 2: 21.

26. In a proclamation dated 11 January 1626, Charles declared his resolution that the laws "concerning the confining of Popish Recusants, bee from hencefoorth duely observed, and that the offenders against the same shall incurre and receive those penalties and punishments which their high contempts deserve, and which by Our Lawes ought to be inflicted upon them"; see Larkin 2: 76.

27. A proclamation dated 22 January 1626 emphasized that "his Majestiy himselfe in His owne Person did give a memorable example [of true repentence and humility] to all his people," and that, thanks to such communal devotion, God had seen fit to lift the plague; see Larkin 2: 85.

28. In a proclamation dated 14 May 1625, Charles had declared that his officials, "when, and as often as any complaint shall bee made unto them by any partie or parties, justly grieved or wronged" should "foorthwith . . . endeavour themselves to see speedy reformation thereof and due punishment of the person or persons that shall offend therein, according to the severest Justice of Our Lawes in that behalfe"; see Larkin 2: 31.

29. See, for example, ll. 39-42 of the 1623 "Tribe of BEN" epistle (H&S 8: 218-20.

30. On the immediate context of Jonson's poem in domestic politics and international relations, see Butler, esp. 287-91. See also, for instance, Gardiner, esp. 6: 8, 31-33, 36-37, 48-49, 56-57, 70-71, 86-89, 90-91, 96-97, and 114-15.

31. In a proclamation dated 16 February 1627 (almost a year after the composition of Jonson's poem), Charles declared his desire "in all things to cary Our Selfe towards all Our Subjects with that Justice and moderation, as is fit for a just and a good King . . ." (Larkin 2: 129). Many of the proclamations issued after the writing of Jonson's poem also suggest points of contact between the thinking of Lipsius, the king, and the poet.

32. This point has recently been reiterated at length by McCanles.

33. For another example of Charles' condemnations of greed, see his proclamation against embezzlement of war supplies, dated 25 December 1625 (Larkin 2: 69-70).

34. Michael McCanles, in analyzing this poem, emphasizes how Jonson uses the work to distinguish himself both from corrupt nobles and from other middle-class aspirants and to advertise his own qualifications. McCanles sees the poem as implicitly endorsing "a true nobility defined by intellectual achievement. And Jonson knew just the man who could fill the bill" (129).

35. See, for example, the following comment from Jonson's Discoveries: "Looke upon an effeminate person: his very gate confesseth him. . . . The excesse of Feasts, and apparell, are the notes of a sick State; and the wantonesse of language, of a sick mind" (H&S 8: 592-93). See also Huebert.

Works Cited

Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at EMLS@UAlberta.ca.

1998-, R.G. Siemens (Editor, EMLS).

(RCE, LB, RGS, 27 February 1998)