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Colonial Virtue

Colonial Virtue: The Mobility of Temperance in Renaissance England

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Colonial Virtue
    Book Description:

    Beautifully written and deeply engaging,Colonial Virtuealso models an expansive methodology for literary studies through its close readings and rhetorical analyses.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9642-6
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    In the notorious conclusion to book 2 of Edmund SpenserʹsThe Faerie Queene, Guyon, the Knight of Temperance, destroys the Bower of Bliss in a ʹtempest of … wrathfulnesse.ʹ¹ Punning on the knightʹs nominal virtue, this meteorological event represents at least a challenge to, if not an outright repudiation of, Guyonʹs allegorical identity. Underlying both ʹtemperanceʹ and ʹtempestʹ is the Latintempus, but these English terms trade in distinct varieties of time.

    The English ʹtemperanceʹ comes from the Latintemperantia, or moderation. As the present participle of the verbtemperare, to moderate,temperantiawas the word used by Cicero to...

  6. 1 Temperanceʹs Renaissance Transformations
    (pp. 14-60)

    One block from my office in the English department at Northwestern University is the Frances Willard House Museum, home and workplace of the eponymous nineteenth-century social reformer from 1865 to 1898.¹ Frances E. Willard served as the president of the Evanston College for Ladies, and subsequently as the first Dean of Women at Northwestern, before committing herself to the Temperance Crusade at both the local and national levels. Co-founder and second president of the Womenʹs Christian Temperance Union, Willard orated, marched, rallied, and evangelized, on a mission ʹto deliver those who are held in slavery by their own appetites and...


    • 2 Edmund Spenserʹs ʹBlood Guiltieʹ Temperance
      (pp. 63-93)

      In Karl Marxʹs narrative of the birth of capitalism, Englandʹs exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the New World plays a crucial role. The event in Tudor history most commonly cited as emblematic of Marxʹs ʹso-called primitive accumulationʹ – i.e., the forcible separation of labourers from their traditional means of production as a necessary precondition of capitalism – is the enclosure of the Commons, which Marx describes as the systematic and legislative appropriation and transformation of arable land into privately held pasture land. In hisUtopia, Thomas More decries this very practice as a great social injustice, and a chief cause...

    • 3 Intemperance and ʹWeak Remembranceʹ in The Tempest
      (pp. 94-124)

      In the previous chapter, I interpreted the paradoxical conclusion to book 2 ofThe Faerie Queeneas a testament to the evolution of temperance into a term of colonial agonism. Guyonʹs tempestuous destruction of the Bower of Bliss – as well as the contrast between his own ataraxy, and the mournful and resentful affects of Medea and Grill, respectively – attest to the vexed status of temperance as an evaluative term used to describe the ethical postures and behaviours of English explorers and colonistsvis-à-visthe New World. The colonial setting, and the tempest generated by a poorly self-governed protagonist,...


    • 4 John Donne, Christopher Brooke, and Temperate Revenge in 1622 Jamestown
      (pp. 127-159)

      After receiving its charter from James I in 1606, the Virginia Company of London began preparations for the December launch of its first envoy to North America. The first group of 104 ʹadventurersʹ completed their transatlantic voyage the following May, establishing the settlement they called Jamestown on the banks of the James River, sixty miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.¹

      This New World endeavour would, of course, satisfy the Virginia Companyʹs pleonexia – first in the exportation of New World crops, which generated an enormous European appetite for novel luxury goods; and later in the slave trade, which...

    • 5 Globalizing Temperance in Seventeenth-Century Economics
      (pp. 160-202)

      In his 1601 tractSaint George for England Allegorically Described, the English ʹbullionistʹ Gerard Malynes introduces his polemic against usury, unregulated currency exchange, and the importation of foreign luxury goods with an elaborate adaptation of the opening sentence ofThe Canterbury Tales. Before reading that adaptation, though, a momentʹs pause and puzzlement over the Chaucerian template: Why not reach instead for Spenser? Like Malynesʹs polemic,The Faerie Queenechooses St George – patron saint of England since the time of Edward III; namesake of the humble, homegrown husbandsman (L.georgius) – as its first chivalric hero. Also like Malynesʹs tract,...

  9. Coda
    (pp. 203-208)

    Toward the beginning of the period now designated the ʹlong eighteenth century,ʹ Thomas Tryon published a tract entitledA Way to Health, Long Life and Happiness, or, A Discourse of Temperance.¹ Enormously popular,A Discourse of Temperancewent through seven editions following its initial 1683 publication, making it the most popular of Tryonʹs six advice manuals.² Tryonʹs early advocacy of vegetarianism constitutes his most enduring ethical legacy, his influence extending over several generations of transatlantic literary personages: Ben Franklin identified himself as a ʹTryonistʹ early in his career; Percy Bysshe Shelley consulted Tryon when writing ʹA Vindication of Natural Dietʹ...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 209-250)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 251-268)
  12. Index
    (pp. 269-275)