IN his influential study of John Marston’s drama, Philip Finkelpearl acknowledges that the playwright’s satirical comedy What You Will is connected to ‘the so-called War of the Theaters’, which he defines as a ‘brief outburst of animosity between Jonson and Marston which culminated in Jonson’s Poetaster and Dekker’s Satiromastix’ in 1601.1 Finkelpearl bases this assessment on the fact that What You Will ‘reacts at various points to Jonson’s Cynthia’s Revels and Every Man out of his Humour’. Yet he insists that ‘these few moments are not vital determinants in the shape of the play’ and rejects the notion ‘that one of its main characters, Lampatho Doria, was meant to represent Ben Jonson’ (164). Not only does this character not stress Jonson’s ‘best known characteristics’, Finkelpearl writes, but he does not share a common background. Unlike Jonson who did not have a university education, Lampatho Doria is ‘a scholar with a special interest in philosophy’ who has ‘pursued his studies in an academic environment’ and composes a play called Temperance that ‘a cloistered academic might write’ (164). If Lampatho ‘represents’ anybody, Finkelpearl maintains, it is ‘Marston himself’, who held an MA from Oxford and was associated with the Middle Temple. That is why, he argues, Lampatho is berated by his rival Quadratus with a pseudonym Marston himself had employed in The Scourge of Villanie (1598): ‘Away Idolater, why you Don Kynsayder / Thou Canker eaten rusty curre’.2 ‘I am not suggesting that Marston was representing himself’, Finkelpearl concludes, ‘merely that Lampatho embodies some of his traits and almost none of Jonson’s’ (164). There is, however, abundant evidence, overlooked by Finkelpearl, that contradicts this conclusion and confirms the long established critical association of ‘Lampatho Doria’ with Jonson’s personality and poetics. Prior scholars, beginning with R. A. Small’s The Stage-Quarrel between Ben Jonson and the So-Called Poetasters in 1899, have discovered numerous credible associations, demonstrating that What You Will uses the character as part of a polemically charged critique.3 In 1998 Matthew Steggle brought the issue to a head by directly challenging Finkelpearl’s reading in order ‘to reinstate the idea’ that the play is ‘built around satire of Jonson’.4 But because Finkelpearl’s demonstrably false thesis continues to be endorsed in ongoing research, a re-examination of the evidence can help clarify why theatre historians should still conclude with Steggle that Marston has slyly highlighted Lampatho Doria to address Jonson’s moral and literary flaws. To what extent then might Lampatho Doria be said to represent Jonson? Turning Finkelpearl’s evidence against him, Steggle writes that Jonson’s ‘self-fashioning as a scholar was so complete that the false idea that he had attended Cambridge was believed by Jonson’s contemporaries’ (42). What is more, Marston’s approach involves adding topical highlights to a dramatic character that is not inherently biographical but which serves as part of a dramatic fiction to which topical allusions have been added. As W. David Kay writes, responding to Finkelpearl: ‘Marston’s method’ is ‘a witty combination of general type-characterization, personal satire, and literary burlesque. To his general portrait of the unsociable scholar, he adds specific details that caricature Jonson at his most unflattering’.5 The literary technique of ‘application’ which Marston employs established intermittent connections between the performance onstage and the field of professional rivalry that informed its production. Jonson had paraded his erudition in Cynthia’s Revels (1600) at Blackfriars by creating an idealized surrogate—Criticus—who is maligned by the gallants Hedon and Anaides as a ‘candle-waster’ who ‘smels all Lamp-oyle’.6 In a transparent fantasy of professional ambition, Criticus/Jonson not only foils these two envious critics (who are highlighted with references to Marston and Dekker) but is rewarded with royal patronage from Cynthia/Elizabeth in recognition of the moral probity and therapeutic power of his art. Lampatho, who echoes Criticus’s attitudes, ideas and language is a satiric reinterpretation of Jonson’s idealized surrogate refashioned by Marston as a failed scholar who is convinced to abandon the exercise of severe moral censure for the more satisfying embrace of pleasure. Marston’s challenge to Jonson in What You Will is theoretical and personal.7 Steggle points out that Finkelpearl ignores the well documented network of interlocked motifs linking ‘Criticus’ in Cynthia’s Revels and ‘Lampatho Doria’ in What You Will to ‘Horace’ in Satiromastix. He does not recognize that Lampatho, like Criticus, is a professional poet and composer of plays for public and court performance. Lampatho’s scholarly side is a major component of his intellectual arrogance and sense of self-importance concerning his own superiority as a writer. The concluding couplet of Cynthia’s Revels, spoken by the Epilogue, memorably repeats Jonson’s self-praise: ‘Ile onely speake what I have heard him say; / “By God, ’tis good, and if you lik’t you may”’ (M2v). Here, Jonson gives his audience the right to appreciate his play. In Marston’s parody, Lampatho reenacts this gesture in a debased form when, in complimenting his own poetry, he ‘spittes, / And says “faith, ’tis good”’ (Cv). In What You Will, Eric Vivier notes, Marston consistently demonstrates his ‘opposition to poetical self-aggrandizement’.8Cynthia’s Revels, published in 1601, provided an easily recognizable target. Both Lampatho and Horace are accompanied by parasites (Simplicius Faber and Asinius Bubo) who praise his work regardless of its merit. Both Lampatho and Horace threaten to take revenge on their critics by parodying them on the stage. Both are said to rail inordinately against vice, while being unaware of their own lack of sociability. Both are hypocrites who praise their patrons to their faces and mock them behind their backs. What is more, Lampatho is depicted as a renegade Catholic—an ‘Idolater’ (Cv) and ‘Jebusite’ (C2r). Poor and dressed in black like Criticus and Horace, Lampatho, devoted to ‘mouldy customs’ (Cv), is a ‘tattr’d nasty taber fac’d’ pedant (C2r), who envies the better fortunes of others. There are, however, several good reasons why Marston’s satire of Jonson in What You Will is misconstrued. The most important is that theatre historians unduly stereotype Marston’s dialectical approach to drama. Anthony Caputi, for instance, saw him as a Stoic, who ridiculed any emotional involvement with the world in work that burlesqued desire in all its absurd manifestations. Yet some of his contemporaries, including Jonson, accused him of being excessively transgressive: vile and obscene.9The Metamorphosis of Pigmalions Image and Certaine Satyres and The Scourge of Villanie were among the books burned by order of the Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury in June of 1599 and the anonymous author of The Second Part of The Return from Parnassus, in a memorable phrase, imagined him ‘lifting [his] legge and pissing against the world’.10 The problem with interpreting What You Will is compounded by the surprising intellectual pivot that Marston made in 1601 when he sought the strongest argument he could make to counter the didactic neo-Stoicism of Cynthia’s Revels. Marston’s early satire repudiates pleasure, as it gleefully details the shocking acts of sexual perversion it illustrates. In What You Will, in an extreme dialectical shift, he accommodates himself to the irrational imperatives of fantasy and pleasure. In Cynthia’s Revels, Criticus, Cynthia’s supreme masque-maker, stands at the centre of an authorial fantasy of royal favour. The god Mercury explains that Criticus ‘counts it his pleasure to despise pleasures, and is more delighted with good deeds then Goods’ (Er). He wins recognition through the exercise of a strict Stoic moral code capable of purging the court’s humours. In What You Will Marston turns Jonson’s plot on its head when he transforms Criticus into Lampatho. Under Quadratus’s influence, an initially belligerent poet and dramatist eventually acknowledges the failure of his humanist project and haltingly learns to style himself a gallant. Marston’s comic fantasy is to imagine Lampatho/Jonson’s capitulation to Quadratus’s Epicurean principles. Marston makes his Jonson surrogate realize that his view of the world is fundamentally wrong, since leniency, rather than ridicule, and pleasure, instead of rational self-control, are necessary elements of a good life. Quadratus knows that he can only succeed by bullying Lampatho into abandoning his commitment to severe moral censure. Marston’s anti-satirical satire admits censure in this case, but only to guarantee the independence of free thought. He is zealously intolerant of intolerance. And although Marston certainly understands the problematics of pleasure, his strategy in What You Will is to accept fantasy’s irrational mandates and vicissitudes as superior to the lonely pointless pursuit of reason and censure. One passage in What You Will has given theatre historians considerable trouble: the angry conversation in which Quadratus denounces Lampatho with the words: ‘you Don Kynsayder’. Tired of being rebuked by Lampatho, Quadratus accordingly calls him a heretic and failed satirist solely intent on censoring others: Away Idolater, why you Don Kynsayder Thou Canker eaten rusty curre, thou snaffle To freer spirits. Think’st thou a libertine, an ungiv’d breast Skornes not the shacklesse of thy envious clogges. (Cv) ‘Kinsayder’ was a pseudonym Marston employed in the paratexts of The Metamorphosis of Pigmalions Image and Certaine Satyres and The Scourge of Villanie, first published in 1598. Outside of their pseudonyms, these works were otherwise anonymous. In the former, Marston signs his dedication ‘To … Good Opinion’ with the alias ‘W.K.’ (A3v). And in the latter, he expands this, describing himself ‘To those that seeme judiciall perusers’ as ‘W. Kinsayder’. This pseudonym was at the centre of his quarrel with Joseph Hall. Marston had initially criticized Hall in his verse, and in the second edition of The Scourge, published in 1599, Marston accused him of pasting an epigram to the last page of every copy of Pigmalion ‘that came to the stacioners of Cambridge’ mocking Marston under this name. Hall’s epigram (which Marston reprints in The Scourge as evidence of the affront) refers to him as ‘S.K.’ and calls him a ‘dog’ that ‘was best cured by cutting & *kinsing’ (Hv). In the margin next to Hall’s epigram, Marston, who was apparently excited about having attracted this attention, notes: ‘*Mark the witty allusion to my name’. Although only some of the meaning of Hall’s in-joke can be recovered, the best guess is that the name ‘Kinsayder’ refers primarily to a ‘kinser’ or ‘docker’ of dogs’11 Marston’s surname was sometimes spelled with a terminal ‘e’, and the thrust of Hall’s phallic witticism is to state that ‘Mar-stone’, the cutter of testicles (or ‘stones’), is a castrator of dogs who should himself be castrated. How then should this passage linking Lampatho to ‘Kinsayder’ be interpreted? In an influential interpretation of this passage in their introduction to The Selected Plays of John Marston, MacDonald P. Jackson and Michael Neill suggest that since ‘Lampatho Doria is at one point dubbed with Marston’s own satiric pseudonym, Kinsayder, seems to convert the caricature into a teasing anamorphic double-portrait of the two rivals’.12 Comprehension of such art, in this case, would then seem to involve the conflating of Jonson and Marston in a single character, with the apparent end of indicating that there was really no difference between them. T.F. Wharton, impressed by Jackson and Neill’s suggestion, subsequently agreed that although Lampatho Doria was ‘usually taken to be one of Marston’s several hostile depictions of Jonson’, the character exhibited ‘an unexpected vein of self-mockery’ that tends to diminish this relation.13 Kevin A. Quarmby even cites the same passage to make a bolder claim, arguing that: ‘The Paul’s audience would realise that Quadratus refers to Marston’s own relatively recent “Kinsayder” persona, an identification contradicting those “War of the Theatres” theorists who propose that Lampatho is actually Marston’s satirical portrait of his “rival” Jonson.’14 In representing both Jonson and Marston, Quarmby concludes, Lampatho cannot be said to represent Jonson. Yet of all these critics who endorse taking Lampatho as an anamorphic metaphor for ‘Jonson and Marston’, only Charles Cathcart, whose work I will soon consider, affords any supplementary evidence. The others are content to repeat Jackson and Neill’s tentative speculation, without augmentation or analysis of the pattern of Marston’s witty subplot in which Quadratus turns Lampatho/Jonson into a bumbling gallant. Part of the attraction of What You Will is the exuberance with which Marston pursues this mischievous counterfactual fantasy. The main problem with the description of the Kynsayder passage in What You Will as ‘anamorphic’ is that it is at odds with Marston’s plotline in which Lampatho is consistently ridiculed and Quadratus treated with sympathy. Theatrical allusions keep his metatheatrical contexts constantly in view. ‘All in all’, W. David Kay comments, ‘the trials of Lampatho Doria are an unmistakable rebuff to Jonson’s implicit self-glorification in Cynthia’s Revels’ (56). What Quarmby fails to recognize is that R. A. Small successfully contested the theory that Lampatho represents Marston over a century ago. The locution ‘you Don Kynsayder’, he points out, means ‘you satirist’ (110) and as such it signals that Lampatho conforms to a generic type defined by Marston’s earlier verse satire. Lampatho/Jonson is consequently only a kind of ‘Kinsayder’. In calling Lampatho ‘you … Kynsayder’, Marston accuses Jonson of servilely embodying his former discredited satiric persona, adopting a stance that his current spokesman Quadratus overtly repudiates. Whatever self-mockery this passage exhibits toward Marston’s past is marshalled to ridicule Jonson in the present. Here Quadratus contemptuously bestows Marston’s infamous pseudonym on his obstreperous rival. Morse Allen, following Small’s lead, similarly recognized in 1920 that Marston used his own ‘nome-de-plume as a term of abuse for an antagonist’ with the intent of calling him a ‘malicious satirist’.15 ‘When a strong false scent, like the “Don Kynsayder” passage is drawn across the true trail’, Allen wryly observes, ‘it is not entirely the fault of the critical hounds if they be thrown off the scent’ (170). The extent of Marston’s alienation from the name ‘Kinsayder’ is apparent in his pairing of it with mockery of Lampatho as a Catholic ‘Idolater’. Marston was an outspoken critic of Catholicism. Jonson, for his part, must have been appalled at Marston’s mimetic jest which transformed the neo-Stoic sage Criticus of Cynthia’s Revels into the grumbling Lampatho Doria, a Kinsayder-imitator who is browbeaten and coaxed into emulating Quadratus, as a gallant serving Meletza. If Jonson wanted to succeed in the world, Marston implicitly suggests, he had better start imitating Quadratus, not Kinsayder. Applied to Lampatho in What You Will, the name ‘Don Kynsayder’ is consequently a marker of Marston’s own disdain for that earlier mode of self-presentation as well as a testimony to his current difference from Jonson. As I have previously mentioned, of the critics who endorse the ‘anamorphic’ interpretation of Lampatho only Charles Cathcart adds supporting evidence with his suggestion that Marston probably parodies himself in the two lines of verse Lampatho recites to Quadratus, while the latter sips a glass of sweet wine on which he simultaneously comments: Lamp. Nay heare it, and relish it juditiously. Qua. I do rellish it most juditially. Quad. drinkes. Lamp. Adored excellence, delicious sweet. Qua. Delicious sweete good, very good. Lamp. If thou canst taste the purer juice of love. (F3v) Marston’s primary lyric target, Cathcart suggests, is the first three lines of a poem dedicated to Sir John Salusbury, at the opening of the ‘Poeticall Essaies’ of Loves Martyr: Noblest of minds, here do the Muses bring Unto your safer judgements tast, Pure juice that flow’d from the Pierian springs (Z2v)16 Loves Martyr went on sale around 15 June 1601, and some audience members at Paul’s playhouse who attended What You Will might have already read it.17 Had they done so, they would have known that this poem is attributed to a ‘Vatum Chorus’ (Chorus of Prophets) made up of four celebrity poets: Shakespeare, Marston, Chapman, and Jonson. Advertised as a collaboration, any or none of the four might have actually contributed to it. What makes Lampatho’s personal adaptation of this verse particularly comic is the way he heightens it through hyperbole. The ‘Pure juice’ of the ‘Vatum Chorus’ becomes Lampatho’s even ‘purer juice’. This result in the kind of poetry that Quadratus despises as too distant from sensual pleasure. When Lampatho then obstinately insists that Quadratus praise his new poem’s ‘sweetness’, Quadratus takes it and dunks it in his wine to make it even sweeter, although obviously less ‘pure’. Marston’s treatment of Lampatho’s poetry in this passage does not dispel the better substantiated claim that the character only represents Jonson. One final piece of evidence that augments our understanding of how Jonson is parodied in What You Will is found in the only other instance in the Marston canon in which he references his satiric persona in The Scourge in order to define his superiority to Jonson. In Histriomastix, Mavortius mocks Chrisoganus, Marston’s first character to reflect on Jonson, by contrasting him as a verse satirist with the author of The Scourge: Mavo. How you translating-schollar? you can make A stabbing Satir, or an Epigram, And think you carry just Ramnusia’s whippe To lash the patient; goe, get you clothes, Our free-borne blood such apprehension lothes.18 ‘Rhamnusia Virgo’ was a name for Nemesis, the Roman goddess of ‘righteous indignation’ and ‘revenge for presumption’.19 Marston describes himself as her servant in the opening couplet of ‘The Proemium’ to the first book of The Scourge of Villanie: I beare the scourge of just Rhamnusia, Lashing the lewdness of Britania. (B4r) This couplet follows Marston’s subscription ‘W. Kinsayder’, printed on the preceding page. The strategic placement of these lines in The Scourge revealed Marston from two angles. As the mythic ‘scourge of just Rhamnusia’, Marston’s satiric mandate appropriated an ancient precedent. At the end of the volume, in a final address to readers, he synthesized these pseudonyms—‘Kinsayder’ and ‘the scourge’—in a new moniker: ‘Theriomastix’ (‘the whipper of beasts’) (I3v). He would consequently evoke the first two pseudonyms at different times to distinguish himself from Jonson. First, in Histriomastix, Marston (‘the whipper of players’) boasts that he alone, not Chrisoganus/Jonson, is entitled to designate himself as the scourge of ‘just Rhamnusia’. Then, in What You Will, written several years later, he reversed himself in suggesting that only Jonson could find Kinsayder’s kind of criticism acceptable. Close readers of Marston’s drama, attuned to these subtle shifts of self-appraisal, will come to understand that he conceived of Jonson in What You Will more as an opposite than a double. The play stages a comic fantasy in which Jonson is coaxed to reject his most firmly held principles. In the introduction to his edition of John Marston’s What You Will, M. R. Woodhead expresses regret that the comedy ‘has usually been deemed of interest only insofar as it touches on the “War of the Theatres” controversy’.20 A narrow scholarly focus identifying ‘Lampatho Doria’, a character in its subplot, as a parody Ben Jonson, has, according to Woodhead, distracted attention from the play’s legitimate achievements. And almost in a spirit of caprice, determined to shake off the play’s historical trappings, he explains that Quadratus, another character in the play, seems just as viable as a stand-in for Jonson, implying that such topical identifications might only be arbitrary impositions on an otherwise recalcitrant text. ‘If there is any literary parody here’, he apologizes, ‘it is certainly not obtrusive, and should not blind the reader to the real merits of the play’. But unless readers come to terms with the play’s topical engagement with Jonson, they miss a significant part of the work’s ‘real merits’. Its allusions are immensely significant because they publicize Marston’s complex and evolving artistic concerns. Footnotes 1 Philip Finkelpearl, John Marston of the Middle Temple (Cambridge, MA, 1969), 164. 2 John Marston, What You Will (London, 1606), C1v. 3 Small corrected Josiah H. Penniman’s primal mistake of identifying Lampatho with Marston in The War of the Theatres (Boston, 1897), 138–43, and made the play’s literary satire intelligible. 4 Matthew Steggle, Wars of the Theatres: The Poetics of Personation in the Age of Jonson (Victoria, 1998), 41. 5 W. David Kay, Ben Jonson: A Literary Life (New York, 1995), 55–6. 6 Ben Jonson, The Fountain of Self-Love, or Cynthia’s Revels (London, 1601), E4v. 7 See James P. Bednarz, Shakespeare and the Poets’ War (New York, 2001), 155–74. 8 Eric Vivier, ‘Judging Jonson: Ben Jonson’s Satirical Self-Defense in Poetaster’, The Ben Jonson Journal, xxiv (2017), 11. 9 See Anthony Caputi’s chapter, ‘The Neo-Stoic’, in John Marston, Satirist (Ithaca, NY, 1961), 52–79. James P. Bednarz, ‘Was John Marston the First “Playwright”?’, N&Q, lxiii (2016), 547–50, illustrates how William Drummond, based on his conversation with Jonson, noted in his 1616 Jonson Folio that ‘Marstone’ was the obscene ‘Playwright’ of Epigram 49. 10 Quoted from The Second Part of The Return from Parnassus, lines 267–8, in The Three Parnassus Plays, ed. J. B. Leishman (London, 1949), 241. 11 Richard F. Hardin, ‘Marston’s Kinsayder: The Dog’s Voice’, N&Q, xxix (1982), 134–5, speculates that the name contains a submerged pun in Greek referring to ‘the one who lets the dog’s voice speak’ as well as denoting ‘the voice of him who kinses’. 12 MacDonald P. Jackson and Michael Neill (eds), The Selected Plays of John Marston (Cambridge, 1986), xv. ‘Whatever the case …’, they write, qualifying the suggestion, showing some hesitancy about fully endorsing their guess. 13 T. F. Wharton (ed.), The Drama of John Marston, Critical Revisions (Cambridge, 2000), 4. 14 Kevin A. Quarmby, The Disguised Ruler in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Abingdon, 2012), 76. 15 See Appendix C of Morse Allen’s The Satire of John Marston (Columbus, OH, 1920), 169–70, for incisive analysis of ‘the confusion arising from Don Kinsayder’. 16 Charles Cathcart in Marston, Rivalry, Rapprochement, and Jonson (Aldershot, 2008), 21–2. In ‘Lampatho’s “Delicious Sweet” in Marston’s What You Will’, N&Q, lvi (2009), 610, Cathcart further observes that Marston uses the phrases ‘delicious sweets’ and ‘delicious sweet-cheeked master’ in Antonio and Mellida, but these phrases, which do not appear in lyric poems, are neither identical nor meaningfully contextual. 17 Boris Borukhov, ‘A More Precise Date for Shakespeare’s “The Phoenix and the Turtle”’, N&Q, lxii (2015), 567–9, specifies the date of publication as after 15 June 1601, the day on which Salusbury was knighted. See James P. Bednarz, ‘Contextualizing “The Phoenix and Turtle”: Shakespeare, Edward Blount and the Poetical Essays Group of Loves Martyr’, Shakespeare Survey, lxvii (2014), 143–5, for a discussion of their imputed collaboration on the two ‘Vatum Chorus’ poems that introduce the collection. 18 John Marston, Histrio-Mastix: or, the Player Whipt (London, 1610), B4v. 19 Arnold Davenport (ed.), The Poems of John Marston (Liverpool, 1961), 243. Nemesis had a famous temple at Rhamnus in Attica. 20 M. R. Woodhead (ed.), What You Will (Nottingham, 1980), iii. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com
Notes and Queries – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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