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Constant Minds

Constant Minds: Political Virtue and the Lipsian Paradigm in England, 1584-1650

  • Book Info
    Constant Minds
    Book Description:

    Investigates Lipsian ideas in the moral, political, and literary culture of late 16nth- and early 17th-century England through examination of the writings and activities of Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Fulke Greville, Ben Jonson, and Joseph Hall.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7328-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. A Note on Texts, Sources, Translations, and Conventions
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Prologue: Recovering the Lipsian Paradigm
    (pp. xix-2)

    This book is an exercise in the history of ideas, revisiting the thought of five Englishmen of some stature: Sir Walter Ralegh, Francis Bacon, Fulke Greville, Ben Jonson, and Bishop Joseph Hall. All are well known to students of early modern English history, literature, and political thought, though each is usually studied according to now specialized concerns, methods, and assumptions within particular disciplines. In my representation of their thinking, I have attempted to reintegrate both modern trends in scholarship and the various components in the ideas of my subjects. Thus I have sought to recapture the contemporary direction and relevance...

  7. Introduction: Justus Lipsius and the Doctrine of Constancy
    (pp. 3-39)

    Justus Lipsius was already renowned as the editor and interpreter of Tacitus when he responded to the crisis provoked by religious wars in the Netherlands by composing a short dialogue entitled,De constantia. Appearing in 1584, the work became an international best-seller, and five years later, amidst the ongoing ravages of war, a companion volume, thePolitica, appeared, to enjoy equal popularity. Lipsius would go on to provide an authoritative edition of the writings of Seneca and compile a number of treatises on classical Roman traditions and institutions, as well as other works, but together the two pieces of the...

  8. 1 The Constant Courtier: Sir Walter Ralegh in Jacobean England
    (pp. 40-70)

    Sir Walter Ralegh is popularly remembered as a gallant Elizabethan courtier, the raider of the Spanish Main, founder of Virginia, and the introducer of tobacco to England. Scholars, of course, know that he was the great rival of that other dashing Elizabethan, the Earl of Essex, surviving him only to become a long-term political prisoner, ultimately meeting his end in 1618, a martyr to Jacobean pro-Spanish policies. In the seventeenth century, much of Ralegh′s fame was due to the manner in which he faced death. Some fifty years after his execution John Aubrey remarked that Ralegh had ′many things to...

  9. 2 Francis Bacon and the Advancement of Constancy
    (pp. 71-101)

    Francis Bacon aspired to both literary and political greatness. In hisAdvancement of Learning(1605), he set down the principles for a brand of political virtue that he had modelled out of his experience, and his concern with virtue as political service was developed in other compositions, notably the later editions of theEssayes(1612, 1625), and hisDe Sapientia Veterum(1609).¹ Composed and published in Latin,De Sapientiawas soon translated into English; along with theEssayesit remained the most popular of Bacon′s works during his lifetime. The appeal of his writings stretched to France, where he was...

  10. 3 The Constant Friend: Fulke Greville′s Life after Sidney
    (pp. 102-137)

    Fulke Greville wrote gloomily of society. Two Senecan dramas, five verse treatises, two prose epistles, a ′dedication,′ and over one hundred poems make up his not insubstantial literary output, where rarely does any glimmer of joy or hope ever emerge. Instead, as the epigraphs above suggest, Greville emphasized the irony of the human predicament, and the unhappy paradox of human existence was his continual refrain.¹ Never once, though, did Greville pronounce upon the futility of human endeavour, much less advocate withdrawal from politics or worldly affairs. Imperfection was a basic human trait; upon that fundamental precept Greville developed an approach...

  11. 4 A Neostoic Scout: Ben Jonson and the Poetics of Constancy
    (pp. 138-170)

    Ben Jonson earned the distinction of being called ′the Roman poet′ for his lifelong attempt to revive the classicism of those whom he claimed as predecessors. He aspired to be a latter-day Horace to James I′s Augustus, a parallel which greatly appealed to the first Stuart monarch in whose court Jonson became a sometime and unofficial laureate. The peace, union, and empire achieved by the first Roman emperor were aspects of the ′self-fashioning′ image of the Stuart court which Jonson helped create.¹ Jonson was also a self-conscious moralist who borrowed from the pages of Juvenal and Martial – satirists and...

  12. 5 Joseph Hall and ′That Proud Inconstant Lipsius′: The English Face of Neostoicism?
    (pp. 171-205)

    Joseph Hall was renowned as a moralist. His use of the meditation as a vehicle for moral instruction brought him fame, and he later adopted the epistle and the character sketch to the same purpose and effect. Above all, his literary reputation rested on his adaptation of Seneca. InHeaven Upon Earth(1606) he announced that he followed Seneca as a philosopher but went beyond him as a Christian. ′True peace and tranquilitie of minde,′ as the work was subtitled, could not be achieved courtesy of Athens (or Rome); Hall insisted that only Jerusalem could teach this lesson. By 1610...

  13. Epilogue: Constancy in the English Revolution
    (pp. 206-212)

    With the writings and teachings of Joseph Hall we have come virtually full circle in examining the relevance of the Lipsian paradigm in English political thinking in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The thinkers treated here were by no means the only commentators on the virtue of ′constancy,′ and on the question of political activity there were specific points of disagreement among those who discussed it - the most critical perhaps arising over the practice of public virtue. But one consistent feature in the writings of the five Englishmen considered here, a feature linking each to the other...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 213-294)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-330)
  16. Index
    (pp. 331-342)