«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
58 Jonathan Bate draws our attention to the representation of Essex as Actaeon in Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels, performed at court in 1601. The Ovidian figure who catches a glimpse of Diana bathing and is cruelly punished for it becomes Essex bursting in upon Elizabeth in her chamber. See Shakespeare and Ovid (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 162-3.
depended. When the Queen refused to renew his licence to the Farm of Sweet Wines, he became increasingly desperate and began to plot his rebellion. 59 Throughout 1599 this parallel between Bolingbroke and Essex was unintentionally promoted by Hayward's book and confirmed by the government's violent response to it. If Richard II was no longer performed in 1599 and the theatre-going public was thus prevented from making comparisons between Shakespeare's Bolingbroke and Essex,60 the conspirators on the night before the rebellion were certainly free to do so. In 1601, Francis Bacon suggested that Gilly Meyricke, Essex's steward who arranged for the performance on that night, chose Richard II, 'so earnest hee was to satisfie his eyes with the sight of that tragedie which hee thought soone after his lord should bring from the stage to the state'.61 It has been argued that Richard IPs seditiousness lies, not in its impact on the public, but in the interpretation of the conspirators. Schoenbaum suggests that they chose this play about a successful deposition 'to buoy up their own spirits on the eve of the desperate adventure' rather than to rouse the multitude. 62 I would suggest that Bolingbroke's self-dramatisation as an exile in Shakespeare's play would have inspired Essex's followers. The Earl had already deployed the plangent tones of the exile in his letters from Ireland and continued in such a vein from his pastoral seclusion, hoping to move the Queen to sympathy. Like Bolingbroke, he protested 59 McCoy describes Essex's exclusion from the 1600 Accession Day tilt when he was to appear as the 'Unknown Knight'. We may posit another link between Essex and Bolingbroke here if the Earl was excluded for fear of the effect his appearance and victory would have upon the Londoners with whom he was generally popular. See The Rites of Knighthood, 99.
60 Gurr suggests that the play was still popular on the evidence of three quartos published in two years, a reference to the play in Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia in 1598, and the inclusion of six passages from it in an anthology called England's Parnassus (1600), King RichardII, 3.
61 Quoted by E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems (Oxford: Clarendon Press.
1930), 2 vols., vol. 2,326.
62 S. Schoenbaum, 'Richard Hand the Realities of Power' Sh. S. 28 (1 Q 75), 1-13. ?. See also 'A New History for Shakespeare and His Time', 453-4.
against his exile as shameful and unjust. He was threatened with bankruptcy, the Queen having reclaimed a major source of his income, just as Bolingbroke's inheritance is seized by Richard. It may be that Shakespeare's Bolingbroke confirmed some of the conspirators in their resolution to restore and revenge Elizabeth's 'exiled servant'.
By contrast the banishment of Mowbray in Shakespeare's play has few political implications in the world of Richard II or Elizabeth I.63 This exile will not return to demand his rights or vengeance. When it is announced that Mowbray will be recalled to finally settle the question of who killed Gloucester (4.1.77-81), he is already dead. What then is Mowbray's part in the downfall of his king? I would suggest that the self-wounding nature of Richard's actions as perceived by Gaunt and York is most evident here. On what we might call a subliminal level within the text, Richard suffers the exile to which he has condemned Mowbray.
This may be highlighted by the fact that Mowbray conspicuously does not suffer the fate 'history' apparently assigned to him. Shakespeare has diverged from his sources in the description of Mowbray's exile and death. Hall and Holinshed refer to him arriving in Venice "where he for thoughte and melancoly deceassed'. 64 In A Mirror for Magistrates, a repentant Mowbray accepts exile as his deserved punishment. When he hears of Richard's deposition he is grief-stricken and dies.65 However, in Shakespeare's play, Carlisle describes the Duke as a crusading hero who finally 'retired himself/ To Italy, and there at Venice gave/ His body to that pleasant country's earth' (4.1.87-9). Far from losing his identity, Mowbray has become the archetypal English crusader. The loss of language he laments is overcome through the 63 Mowbray's son tries to suggest otherwise in 2 Henry IV, 4.1.123-7. Seethe following chapter on Henry IV.
64 Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 3, 387, 394.
65 A Mirror for Magistrates, ibid., 418, 1 203.
eloquence of fighting for his religion. Rather, Mowbray's anticipation of what exile will be like exactly prefigures Richard's experience. 66 The King endures two kinds of exile in Shakespeare's play: his absence in Ireland and then his deposition. There are a number of reasons why we might consider Richard's stay in Ireland a kind of exile. We have already seen Essex's response to his commission there and this may have been conventional. Spenser also referred to his service in Ireland as banishment
in Colin Clout's Come Home Again (1591). The shepherd reflects on his 'lucklesse lot':
Moreover, it is not just absence that Richard creates in England but vacancy. York chastises his nephew for taking advantage of 'the absent time' (2.3.79) as if the kingdom had fallen into a period of interregnum. With Richard in Ireland, Bolingbroke is able to return unimpeded and to muster troops but the Duke also exploits the symbolic and prophetic loss of the King. In 2.2 the Queen weeps for Richard's departure, finding more 'shapes of grief in it than merely her lack of him. When no news is heard and when portents are seen predicting "the death or fall of kings' (2.4.15), it is rumoured that he is dead. This diminution of Richard 66 Various critics have described Richard's behaviour as leading to a kind of self-alienation. Donna B. Hamilton examines the King's position outside the law, 'The State of Law in Richard IF, Sh. O. 34 (1983), 5-17, whilst Terence Hawkes argues that Richard has violated the 'vivid island language' from the beginning. As an enemy to reciprocal communication, law and custom, he 'puts himself outside that society's boundary, and so loses his identity as king', Shakespeare's Talking Animals: Language and Drama in Society (London: Edward Arnold.
67 The Works of Edmund Spenser: A Variorum Edition ed. by Edwin Greenlaw, Charles Grosvenor Osgood.
Frederick Morgan Padelford and Ray Heffher (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943), vol. 1, 153. On the advantages and disadvantages of the Englishman's self-perception as an exile in Ireland, see Andrew Hadfield, Spenser's Irish Experience: Wilde Fruit and Salvage Soyl (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1997).
in the imagination of his subjects is concomitant with a kind of exile. It facilitates the King's deposition.
The parallel between deposition and exile is conventional. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century tracts frequently describe kings as cast out, thrust out or expelled.68 Moreover, the position in which the King finds himself may be literally that of an exile. In 3 Henry VI (1591), Margaret
appeals to Louis of France for help thus:
Yet even if the subject is not literally banished, the deposed king who has fallen from the apex of Fortune's wheel to the very bottom is identified with the other men who occupy that space, the beggar, the outcast, the exile. 6 This movement from the polarity of king and exile to their identification is one of the defining features of the medieval De casibus tradition upon which the tragic narratives of.-I Mirror for Magistrates, including the fall of Richard II, were modelled.
68 See Ponet on Richard II quoted above and Holinshed's Chronicles. Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 3, 397.
69 The reversal of fortune also works the other way. In Alphonsus, King ofAragon(\587), Carinus and his son Alphonsus were both banished from their country and from their royal inheritance. As Alphonsus successfully wins through battle what he should have inherited and much more, Carinus apostrophises, 'Oh friendly Fortune, now thou shewest thy power,/ In raising up my sonne from banisht state,/ Unto the top of thy most mightie wheele' (1913-5). See Robert Greene's The Comical! Historie of Alphonsus, King ofAragon (London: Oxford University Press, 1926).
70 Moody E. Prior considers the influence of medieval tragedy upon.-! Mirror for Magistrates and Richard II in The Drama of Power: Studies in Shakespeare 's History Plays (Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1973), 156-82. 164-5 Moreover, the psychological effects of banishment and deposition were perceived to be similar on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage. Both states involve suffering shame, bewilderment, and an amorphousness to which death is preferable. Robert P. Merrix and Carole Levin have argued for a number of structural parallels between the deposition scenes of Edward II (1592) and Richard II. Both are prefaced by banishment: that of the Bishop of Coventry in Marlowe's play and of Mowbray and Bolingbroke in Shakespeare's. 71 In fact, Coventry is not banished but stripped of his possessions and titles and then imprisoned.
Nevertheless the conclusions drawn by these critics underline the possible similarities in the
experience of deposition and exile:
To be suddenly bereft of an identity one has had most of his life is to lose the comfortable borders of reality and be lost in the midst of a limitless landscape. Until or unless a new identity is acquired, the victim of deposition remains vulnerable to his wild emotions, a situation that leads to frenzied attempts to create new roles, or, failing in that, to yearnings for death, the "be-all and the end-all" to his anxiety. 72 Mowbray, Bolingbroke and Richard encompass a range of responses to exile including a crisis of identity, a casting about for different roles to play and the longing for death rather
This question of Mowbray losing his native speech and being forced to acquire a new language is a fascinating anachronism. The historical Mowbray would certainly have required other languages to serve at Richard's court, before Henry V's famous advocacy of the English tongue, as would the Elizabethan courtier. 75 I would suggest that as well as promoting the English tongue and English national identity through Mowbray's regret, Shakespeare is making a broader point about the disorientation incurred through banishment. In order to enumerate the implications of this speech, I want to place it alongside another historical and literary banishment.
73 The Duke's reference to his 'enjailed' tongue may also remind us of Actaeon's fate in Bk 3 of the Metamorphoses. Transformed into a stag, Actaeon retains his tongue but can no longer utter recognisable human sounds with it. His inability to call off his own dogs literally results in 'speechless death' 74 This reference to the loss of native breath may recall Thomas Nashe's depiction of exile in The Unfortunate Traveller (1594). A banished English Earl warns Wilton of the misery of permanent isolation from one's native land: 'Believe me, no air, no bread, no fire, no water doth a man any good out of his own country [...] Let no man for any transitory pleasure sell away the inheritance he hath of breathing in the place where he was bom', The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works ed. by J. B. Steane (London: Penguin, 1985), 251-370, 346. The Earl also quotes Ovid's Tristia Bk III thus: 'Cum patriam amisi, tune me periisse putato which he translates as 'When I was banished, think I caught my bane', 346.
75 Joseph Porter curiously interprets Mowbray's lament as an expression of horror at the need to leam French.
There is, however, no reason why Mowbray should be anticipating an exile in France at this moment for neither Shakespeare nor any of his sources places him there. Porter chooses this reading to support his view of an opposition in the play between two linguistic worlds, the univocal, unilingual and absolutist sphere of Richard, and the ambiguous and many-tongued speech of Bolingbroke. See The Drama of Speech Acts: Shakespeare 's Lancastrian Tetralogy (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1979), 43-6.
To recreate himself in exile, the banished man is perhaps most in need of linguistic tools. The tragedy of this fate, of needing language to know oneself and being deprived of it, finds its locus classicus in the history and literature of Ovid. Relegated to the island of Tomis in AD 8, Ovid famously lamented the loss of his poetic vocation, of his name and his identity, in the verse epistles Tristia and Ex Ponto. 76 That Shakespeare had recourse to the Tristia in his composition of Richard II has been proposed by Jonathan Bate. In Shakespeare and Ovid, he writes, The language of exile in the first act of Richard II seems to echo that of the Tristia, with its emphasis on 'frozen winters' spent in banishment and separation from the native tongue. 77 The purgatorial descriptions of Tomis in the Tristia are perhaps echoed in Richard IPs "To dwell in solemn shades of endless night' (1.3.171). The "six frozen winters' (204), 'frosty Caucasus' (258) and "December snow' (261) are conditions frequently lamented by Ovid.
This is as far as Bate takes the parallel. He does not expand on the common theme of separation from the native tongue. I would suggest that it is to Mowbray's lament on the speechlessness of exile that we must look for further examples of an Ovidian influence, one that will inform not only Mowbray's fears but Richard's reality in exile.
Mowbray's lament is partly dictated by aristocratic assumptions about language. 78 To the 76 Shakespeare could have read at least the first three books of the Tristia in the translation of Thomas Churchyard (London, 1572), STC 18977a and b and 18978. Further editions by the same translator appeared in 1578 and 1580. It has been argued that he must have read at least the Metamorphoses in the Latin original also, see Shakespeare and Ovid, 7-9.
77 Shakespeare and Ovid, 167.