«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 ...»
England's weakness - its littleness, its circumscription by enemies, its female monarch could signify instead England's abjuration of material or worldly means to power and its extraordinary reliance on God: "Whosoever will humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23.12).41 Knapp describes three central oppositional readings to the perceived weakening of England under Elizabeth. Firstly, Elizabeth's accession is celebrated as an end to Marian rule. The English Protestant Queen has rid the realm of the Spanish and Catholic Philip II, and thus she has 'reestablished England's otherness1. In these terms, the Reformation could be read as a 'restoring and setting at Liberty Gods holy Word among us'.42 The crucial transformation is that from exile to liberty, which will be repeated time and again in the dramatisation of banishment. Secondly, Elizabeth (and England's isolation) has brought the kingdom peace
whilst Europe is ravaged by war.43 Finally, the Queen is praised for her virginity:
the "impregnable virginity", that seemed not only to figure England's separateness and purity but actually to help preserve them, by literally fending off "foreign kings" [...] Elizabeth could seem, in other words, the providential consummation of England's efforts to realize itself as an island.44 As England's removal/expulsion from Rome was being redefined as a kind of self-fulfilling destiny, the Protestant and Catholic exiles of post-Reformation England were also eager to emphasise the heroism and virtue of banishment. Whilst Foxe laments the enforced exile of the martyrs, he also praises them for choosing to flee.
In a letter to his friend, Richard Bertie, 41 An Empire Nowhere: England, America, and Literature from Utopia to The Tempest (Berkeley and Oxford:
University of California Press, 1992), 4-5. Knapp locates this celebration of the island and of Elizabeth's sovereignty within a redefinition of the trifling where what is paltry, insignificant and immaterial becomes England's glory.
42 A speech by Sir Nicholas Bacon (1571) reprinted in Sir Simonds D'Ewes' A Compleat Journal of the Votes, Speeches and Debates Both of the House of Lords and House of Commons Throughout the Whole Reign of Queen Elizabeth of Glorious Memory (1682) 2nd ed. (London: Robinson, Tonson, Churchil and Wyat, 1693), 138.
44 An Empire Nowhere. 67. Elizabeth identified herself with Astraea as a figure of Justice, banished during the Iron age but now returned to England with the expulsion of the Pope. See Frances A. Yates, Astraea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), 29-87, 53-4.
who fled England in 1554 followed by his wife in 1555, Foxe congratulates them both and praises God for 'delivering you out of that miserable land, from the danger of idolatry and tearful company of Herodians'. He goes on to argue that the choice of exile is a sign of the operation of God's grace and an indication that they are saved (the doctrines of irresistible grace and of predestination being two of the heresies for which they were persecuted). Foxe
To forsake your country, to despise your commodities at home, to contemn riches, and to set naught by honours which the whole world hath in great reveration, for the love of the sacred gospel of Christ, are not works of the flesh, but the most assured fruits of the Holy Ghost, and undeceivable arguments of your regeneracy or new birth; whereby God certifieth you that ye are justified in Him and sealed [to] eternal life; therefore ye have great cause to be thankful, first that He hath chosen you to life, and secondly that He hath given you His Holy Spirit which hath altered and changed you quite a new creature, working in you through the word such a mind that these things are not painful but pleasant unto you.45 Foxe does not interpret their flight as in any way an escape from persecution (though the couple had made an enemy of Bishop Gardiner). Rather, the journey into exile is imagined as a spiritual quest, an abandoning of worldly pleasure for the sake of eternal life.
The story of Sir Thomas Copley exemplifies the heroic and derogatory connotations of voluntary exile during Elizabeth's reign. In his Relation of a Triall benveen the Bishop of Evreux and the Lord Plessis Mornay, Robert Parsons denies the power of John Jewel's The Apology of the Church of England (1562) to convert Catholics to Protestantism.46 Parsons cites Thomas Copley as one upon whom it had the opposite effect for Copley was a 'zealous 45 See Acts and Monuments, vol. 1, 18-9. The letter has neither date nor direction.
46 Reprinted in Athenae Oxonienses. vol. 1, 170.
Protestant1 until he read Jewel's book. When the reader tried to take issue with Jewel regarding the work's many errors, he received only 'trifling answers' Which thing made the good Gentleman to make a new resolution with himself, and to take that happy course which he did to leave his Country and many great commodities, which he enjoyed therein, to enjoy the liberty of conscience, and so both lived and died in voluntary banishment.47 Before Copley made this decision, however, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, had written to him warning against a romantic view of exile. In a letter dated 28 December 1574, Cecil warns Copley that he will lose 'the sweet benefit of your native soil, your friends, your kindred'. More gravely, he asks if Copley is willing to incur the infamy that wilful exile doth bring, to be accompted, if not a traitor, yet a companion of traitors and conspirators, a man subject to the curses and imprecations of zealous good subjects, your native countrymen, yea, subject to lack of living by your own and thereby compelled to follow strangers for maintenance of livelihood and food? The cause must needs be of great force to induce you thereto.48 This letter might have been a conventional account of the exile's heroic suffering were it not that Cecil undercuts the possibility of heroism by associating the exile with the traitor. He suggests that this is inevitably how Copley will be regarded if he leaves England for the Catholic Continent. In fact, Cecil was one of those men primarily responsible for that assumption. Nine years after this letter, he wrote The Execution of Justice.
47 Ibid. See also Parsons' account of the conversion of Dr Stevens. Employed by Jewel (though Parsons does not know whether as secretary or chaplain), Stevens also queried certain allegations in Jewel's book. When the latter refused to amend them. Stevens sought the truth in Catholicism, 'where only it was to be found' and went voluntarily into banishment, 170.
48 Cecil's letter to Copley is reprinted in The Other Face: Catholic Life under Elizabeth I collected and edited by Philip Caraman (London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1960), 141. This book includes a chapter of exile writine, 140-6.
But what Cecil calls a lack of patriotism and even treachery, others might call liberty.
Copley's 'happy course' to leave England has clear pastoral undertones and may remind us of As You Like It where Rosalind and Celia depart To liberty, and not to banishment' (1.3.137).
Liberty is a crucial term in the redefinition of exile and may imply something broader than liberty of conscience, that is, freedom from political or religious persecution. It is a kind of philosophical, even psychological space. The consolations for exile published in Renaissance England, including translations of classical texts, celebrate the liberty concomitant with exile.
Stoicism is the philosophy upon which these consolations are mainly founded but the definition of liberty will vary as the tract is more or less influenced by Epicurean and expansionist ideas.
The Stoic position on banishment is perhaps most clearly expressed by Seneca. In Ad Helviam, written during his exile on Corsica (AD 41-49), Seneca assures his mother not only that he is not miserable but that he is incapable of being made so.49 Liberty, as Seneca defines
it, is man's self-sufficiency, his existence apart from the world of earthly pleasure and pain:
the aim of Nature has been to enable us to live well without needing a vast apparatus to enable us to do so: every man is able by himself to make himself happy. External circumstances have very little importance either for good or for evil: the wise man is neither elated by prosperity nor depressed by adversity; for he has always endeavoured to depend chiefly upon himself and to derive all his joys from himself. 50 Cicero reiterates this point in his Paradoxa Stoicorum. He describes how the man who is not subject to Fortune but has achieved constancy of mind will not fear death or exile. 51 If he has 4Q Seneca's Minor Dialogues, tr. by A. Stewart (London: George Bell & Sons, 1889), 323.
50 Ibid.. 324.
51 Paradoxa Stoicorum in De Orators III (London: Heinemann, 1942), 254-303, 267-71.
not already embraced this liberty then exile is the ideal opportunity to discover it when his family and friends, home, wealth, and position in society, are all lost to him. The exile's happiness will no longer be dependent upon external circumstances but upon his own attitude of mind. The transformation of the banished landscape through philosophy is central to De Constantia libri duo, written by one of the foremost neo-Stoics of the period, Justus Lipsius. 52
To comfort the exiled Lipsius, Languet advises that he consider wisdom as a landscape:
How much better is it that thine affection were as firmly setled to the obtaining of wisedome? That thou shouldest walke through her fertile fields?
That thou wouldest search out the very fountaine of all humaine perturbations? That thou wouldest erect fortes and bulwarks wherwith thou mightest be able to withstand and repulse the furious assaules of lustes?53 This emphasis upon the mind's creative power is suggested by Socrates' aphorism that the wise man is a citizen of the world, as quoted by Seneca, Plutarch, Jerome Cardan and Lipsius.
Yet these words can also be interpreted in a more pragmatic and Epicurean way. Plutarch
for nature hath permitted us to go and walk through the world loose and at liberty: but we for our parts imprison ourselves, and we may thank ourselves that we are pent up in straight rooms, that we be housed and kept within walls;
thus of our own accord we leap into close and narrow places. 54 52 Jason Lewis Saunders describes Lipsius thus: 'His works, especially the Stoic treatises, were translated into every major language of Europe, and the number of published editions is very great. His De constantia inspired Montaigne, du Vair and Pierre Charron; his Politics were familiar to Richelieu and Bossuet, and his Stoic treatises were influential in the thought of Francis Bacon and, later, Montesquieu'. See Justus Lipsius: The Philosophy of Renaissance Stoicism (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1955), 66. For an account of Lipsius' work as a possible source for King Lear see chapter 6.
53 De Constantia libri duo tr. by Sir John Stradling as Two Bookes ofConstancie (London, 1594), STC 15695, 7.
54 'Of Exile or Banishment' in Plutarch's Moralia tr. by Philemon Holland (1603) ed. by E. H. Blakeney (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1911), 389-410, 395. Plutarch contradicts himself a few pages later, suggesting that it is preferable for men not to travel as a consolation to those exiled to a particular place, 401.
Plutarch goes on to expound on the pleasures of retirement from public duties and from the hurly-burly of civic life, leaving man free to pursue his own intellectual pursuits. That this is a rather daring liberty is suggested in Elizabethan travel literature. 55 Whilst such literature usually argues that time spent at a foreign university or court will educate the young courtier and promote self-knowledge, the ostensible object of this civilising process is service to one's country. Yet this process inevitably weakens a sense of national identity. Roger Ascham's famous description of the Englishman corrupted by Italy combines moral and national deformity in a monstrous image. 56 Francis Bacon advises the traveller, 'let it appear that he doth not change his country manners for those of foreign parts; but only prick in some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into the customs of his own country'. 57 There is a considerable crossover in the consolation tract between Stoic philosophy and travel literature, hi his Epistola de Peregrinatione italica, Lipsius expounds on the pleasures of travel. He declares of Italy that if the traveller 'be not rauished with delight', on seeing it, 'I shall take him but for some stocke or stone'. Cicero most famously attacked the Stoic's destruction of emotional and physical ties: "For when the soul is deprived of emotion, what difference is there [...] between man and a stock or stone". 58 This anti-Stoic reference is not what we might expect from the author of De Constantia. Moreover, where in the Stoic tract Langius will locate wisdom in the mind alone, Lipsius suggests in the Epistola that to some 55 The defence of Dr John Storey quoted previously repeats the Socratic convention of man's liberty. He tells the Queen and her council, 'every man is free borne, and he hath the whole face of the earth before him to dwell and abyde in, where he liketh best; and, if he can not lyve here, he may go els where'. Somer's Tracts, vol. 1, 486.
56 Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster ed. by Edward Arber (London: English Reprints, 1870), 77-8. Ascham includes an Italian observation, 'Englese Italianato, e un diabolo incarnato. that is to say. you remaine men in shape and facion, but becum devils in life and condition', 78.
57 'Of Travel' in Francis Bacon ed. by Brian Vickers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 374-6, 376.
58 Cicero's De Amicitia in De Senectute tr. by W. A. Falconer (London: Heinemann, 1923), 108-211, 159. In The Taming of the Shrew, Tranio tries to deflect Lucentio from his ascetic plans: 'Let's be no stoics nor no stocks, 1 pray,/ Or so devote to Aristotle's checks/ As Ovid be an outcast quite abjured' (1.1.31-3).