Book History, vol. 7
Edited by Ezra Greenspan, and Edited by Jonathan Rose
Book History, vol. 7
Edited by Ezra Greenspan, and Edited by Jonathan RoseBook History is the annual journal of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, Inc. (SHARP).
- Table of Contents
- Sample Chapters
Book History is devoted to every aspect of the history of the book, broadly defined as the history of the creation, dissemination, and the reception of script and print. Book History publishes research on the social, economic, and cultural history of authorship, editing, printing, the book arts, publishing, the book trade, periodicals, newspapers, ephemera, copyright, censorship, literary agents, libraries, literary criticism, canon formation, literacy, literacy education, reading habits, and reader response.
Ezra Greenspan is Kahn Distinguished Professor of English, Southern Methodist University. Among his other publications is George Palmer Putnam: Representative American Publisher (Penn State Press, 2000).
Jonathan Rose is Professor of History at Drew University. His other books include The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001) and The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation (2001).
1. Book Dedications and the Death of a Patron: The Memorial Engraving in Chapman’s Homer
John A. Buchtel
2. An Invitation to Buy and Read: Paratexts of Yiddish Books in Amsterdam, 1650–1800
3. “. . . To Collect and Abridge . . . Without Changing Anything Essential”: Rewriting Incan History at the Parisian Jardin du Roi
4. Recovering The French Convert: Views of the French and the Uses of Anti-Catholicism in Early America
Thomas S. Kidd
5. "Jane Eyre Fever”: Deciphering the Astonishing Popular Success of Charlotte Brontë in Antebellum America
6. Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the National Era: An Essay in Generic Norms and the Contexts of Reading
7. Another Look at “The Life of ‘Dead’ Hebrew”: Intentional Ignorance of Hebrew in Nineteenth-Century Eastern European Jewish Society
Translated by Saadya Sternberg
8. Bringing Books to a “Book-Hungry Land”: Print Culture on the Dakota Prairie
9. “Books Worthy of Our Era?” Octave Uzanne, Technology, and the Luxury Book in Fin-de-Siècle France
Willa Z. Silverman
10. The Writer, the Critic, and the Censor: J. M. Coetzee and the Question of Literature
Peter D. McDonald
11. Reading: The State of the Discipline
Book Dedications and the Death of a Patron:
The Memorial Engraving in Chapman’s Homer
John A. Buchtel
The death of a patron could be devastating. In early modern England, most writers depended upon the patronage of the nobility, as the numerous book dedications of the era bear witness. These dedications, whose pleadings for patronage, protection, and place we almost unthinkingly label “fulsome” and “sycophantic,” can be difficult for us to take seriously today. Yet, considered as integral physical parts of the books in which they appeared, book dedications provide significant insights into the operations of the patronage system and the expectations early modern writers had of their readers. Particularly rich opportunities for exploring how dedications frame their works arise in changes made following a patron’s death, a situation that often forced former clients to confront anew the conventional language of their dedications.
This essay explores the significance of the changes George Chapman made to his translation of Homer following the death of his patron, Henry, Prince of Wales (1594–1612), focusing in particular on the iconography of the Columns of Hercules in Chapman’s memorial engraving commemorating the lost prince. Chapman’s iconography creates a myth of Prince Henry as the Herculean hero who embodies the balance between the outward power of Achilles and the inward equanimity of Ulysses: Chapman’s understanding of the relationship of Homer’s two epics becomes clear only in a reading that takes the book’s front matter into account. Chapman links the engraving’s imagery to his laments for Prince Henry’s unfulfilled patronage in the memorial sonnet that appears beneath the columns, attempting thereby to reinforce his contemporaneous appeals to the king and Privy Council. Forming a subtext to all of Chapman’s appeals for patronage after Prince Henry’s death, including the curious dedication of his Epicede to one Henry Jones, is a serious indebtedness revealed by a lengthy lawsuit between Chapman and his creditors, a lawsuit whose pressures add a note of desperation to Chapman’s patron seeking. Chapman’s Herculean ideal, and its loss, as expressed in the memorial dedication to Prince Henry, link inextricably with his own laureate ambitions and their failure.
By the time The Whole Works of Homer, Prince of Poetts, in his Iliads, and Odysses was published in 1616, Prince Henry was already some three or four years in the grave—yet The Whole Works retains the dedication of the Iliad to Henry unaltered from the two editions printed during his lifetime, in 1609 and 1611. The retention of a dedication to a dead patron was a common enough practice in early modern England, but it occurred mostly in reprints of works by writers who were themselves deceased. For new editions of books by living authors in need of continued patronage, the normal pattern involved rededication, as Chapman had done following the death of the Iliad’s first dedicatee, the Earl of Essex. The stakes involved in retaining the dedication to Prince Henry were high. As the future Henry IX, Prince Henry had stood at the center of potential opposition to the policies of his father, King James; by voicing too loud a lament for the lost prince, Chapman risked offending the king. On the other hand, Prince Henry, already growing powerful as a young patron in 1608 or 1609, when he first commanded Chapman to finish his translation of Homer, had promised Chapman the handsome sum of £;300 and “a good pension” upon completion of the translation, a promise that went unfulfilled at Henry’s death. Chapman had served without pay in the prince’s household, and his hopes for substantial remuneration seem only to have compounded his genuine grief at the loss of the prince.
The publication of The Whole Works of Homer as a substantial folio in 1616 introduced two notable additions to Chapman’s book, in the form of two new plates in the preliminaries: a memorial engraving and a portrait of the author. Together the engravings illuminate Chapman’s motives for retaining the original dedication to the prince and his approach to securing his unfulfilled reward; they also shed light on Chapman’s understanding of the social function of his book. Chapman’s translation of the Odyssey, the first twelve books of which were published in 1614, bore a dedication to the Earl of Somerset. Two years later, nearly four years after Henry’s death, the Iliad and the Odyssey first appeared together—a prime opportunity to alter the dedications, as Chapman had done in 1611. Yet The Whole Works gives no indication that Chapman sought new or additional patrons; instead he simply retained the original dedications. The book is a reissue of the unsold sheets of the 1611 Iliad and the 1614 Odyssey, so the retention of the dedications would have been the path of least resistance for the bookseller. But Chapman was clearly involved in the reissue’s two added engraved plates, thereby confirming his willingness to let the original dedications stand. If anything, the new memorial engraving draws particular attention to the Iliad’s having been dedicated to Prince Henry, thus intensifying the thrust of the original dedication and extending it over the entire book, including the Odyssey. The poet uses the engraving as part of a strategy to heighten the praise of his late patron.
The memorial engraving features Prince Henry’s badge set between two Corinthian columns (see Figure 1). The badge consists of three ostrich feathers standing within a coronet, with the prince’s motto Ich Dien (“I serve”) underneath, surrounded by the angular rays of the sun shining out from behind. The two columns are labeled at their midpoints respectively “ILIAS” and “ODYSSÆA”—the titles of Homer’s two epics. Between the columns extends a horizontal banner reading “MUSAR: HERCUL: COLUM:” identifying them as the muses’ Columns of Hercules. Together the columns and banner form a massive capital “H,” as Arthur Hind notes. Underneath the banner, resting between the bases of the columns, is the motto “NE VSQUE” (“no further”), a paraphrase of the more common Ne Plus Ultra. Together motto and image allude to the famous device of the Hapsburg emperor Charles V. The entire image stands above a sonnet, also engraved, “To the Imortall Memorie, of the Incomparable Heroe, Henrye Prince of Wales,” followed by a pair of couplets “Ad Famam,” one in Latin and one in English, brief meditations on the vagaries of Fame. In some copies, the blank space beneath the banner and above the motto reveals the watermark, which, extraordinarily, matches the engraving, with two columns joined by a banner so as to form an “H” (along with a bunch of grapes and various decorative flourishes between the columns). The similarity of the images may be coincidental, but it is striking enough to raise the extremely unusual possibility that the paper was specially selected for this reason, and perhaps even that the watermark inspired the engraving.
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The memorial engraving normally falls immediately after the engraved general title page and may be conjugate with it (see Figure 2). The general title for The Whole Works, signed by William Hole, is a reworking of the title page of the 1611 Iliads (itself an enlargement of the title page of the 1609 twelve-book Iliads). Hind deduces that Hole was also responsible for the other two engravings; Hole had collaborated closely with Chapman on other occasions. As Margery Corbett and Ronald Lightbown show in their detailed description, the general title to The Whole Works makes the largest possible claims for Homer. Chapman presents the title of his translation among citations from authorities describing Homer as the principal poet of antiquity. (One of the quotations reads in translation, “All things descend from these works: in them are all things, whether the beauty of the divine eloquence touch you or the weightiness of the matter.”) Chapman has Hole give Homer a laurel wreath and the title “Prince of Poets” lest anyone should miss the point. Readers need not wait for Chapman’s citations, later in the preliminaries, of further authorities on behalf of Homer (and against the partisans of Virgil as the greater poet) to gain a distinct impression of the book’s pretensions.
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On the verso of the general title in some copies appears an engraved frontispiece portrait of Chapman (Figure 3). Billowing clouds surround the poet’s head, and the clouds are in turn encircled by a band giving Chapman’s name, age, and his title as “HOMERI METAPHRASTES.” The set of Latin and English verses beneath Chapman’s portrait, engraved respectively in italic and secretary hands, celebrates the achievement of a translator who touches both current senses of the word metaphrast. Chapman, they claim, has at once captured the true spirit of his original, yet has powerfully transformed Homer’s Greek into muscular, living English verse. Noticeably absent from the crown of Chapman’s head is the laurel wreath that Homer himself wears—yet the clouds surrounding his head hint at something one step beyond enwreathment, toward something like an apotheosis to the level of “divine” Homer. Laurel wreath or no, the portrait engraving clearly indicates the laureate ambitions, frustrated though they might be, of great Homer’s metaphrast. In most copies, the leaf carrying Chapman’s portrait faces the memorial engraving. As soon as one opens the book and turns over the title page, one is confronted with the visage of the laureate poet, introducing his magnum opus, looking across the page toward images symbolizing the lost hopes of a would-be king of England. The juxtaposition of portrait and memorial ties Chapman’s laureate claims to the contemplation of the loss of the prince. Chapman does so in memoriam: he summons up not an actual princely authority but a counterfactual, a potential, an authority that might have been. Not until after his patron’s death does Chapman place a self-portrait in his book; memorializing the prince thus serves as a self-authorizing move.
Contemplation of the potential of the departed prince is precisely what the genre features of Chapman’s memorial engraving ask of the reader. The engraving has the formal characteristics of a typical three-part emblem: the symbolic picture (the emblem proper), the brief and cryptic motto, and the epigram, which meditates more or less directly on the juxtaposed picture and motto. Alastair Fowler notes, “Almost invariably the emblem was a collective genre. . . . Emblems typically came in series, or at least in book-length collections.” The memorial is anomalous, a stand-alone emblem, set loose as it were from the context of the dozens of other emblems one would find in an emblem book, and privileged, not unlike its cousins the frontispiece and the printer’s device, by prominent placement in the front matter of the book. Yet the memorial engraving is not quite alone, following as it does the portrait and the engraved title page, both containing strongly emblematic features (the title with its motto, the portrait with both motto and epigram): Chapman’s memorial engraving gathers a good deal of its force through the emblem’s collective nature. Fowler remarks that “the emblematic frontispiece was often described as the ‘soul’ or ‘ratio’ (meaning) of the book.” In The Whole Works of Homer, the book’s ratio develops through the interplay of the three engravings in the preliminaries, linking the classical authority of the author, the laureate ambitions of the translator, and the glory of the patron. The collection of emblematic engravings ends abruptly, leading into the text of the book’s primary dedication, a long poem that both presents the book to Prince Henry and outlines the manner in which Chapman expected Prince Henry to read it. As the last of the three engravings and as the engraving that mediates between title, frontispiece, and dedication, the emphasis falls upon the memorial engraving.
The reading of emblems and devices formed a standard part of educated entertainment in the Renaissance, and given Prince Henry’s own interests, the members of his household must have been particularly well versed in the rules of the game. As in most Renaissance courts, Henry and his followers were heavily involved in the elaborate visual symbolism of pageantry and masques, as well as of tilting. Moreover, Prince Henry encouraged the production of emblem books themselves. Henry Peacham presented Prince Henry with a manuscript emblem book in 1610, and in 1612 Peacham dedicated his printed Minerva Britanna to the prince. Peacham made part dedications—that is, dedications of individual parts of the book, subservient to the primary or blanket dedication to Prince Henry—of several of Minerva Britanna’s individual emblems to various of the prince’s officeholders. Part dedications like Peacham’s may have operated as a primitive form of subscription publication, as an intermediary stage between writers selling their copies of a book and the printed subscription lists acknowledging advance sales that would emerge within just a few years as a method of financing the publication of certain kinds of books. In any case, Peacham’s forty part dedicatees would have been very likely to own copies of the book. It could easily have passed through the hands of many of the prince’s servants and could thus have established something of a common emblematic vocabulary within Prince Henry’s court circle. The juxtaposition of the emblem’s typical elements in Chapman’s memorial engraving would suggest to readers trained in interpreting emblem books that the various elements were meant to be read as parts of a whole, relating to and playing off each other. The parlor-game sensibility normally involved in reading emblem books would have been overshadowed by the gravity of the subject matter, the habits of amusement replaced by the habiliments of contemplative mourning. The disbanded members of the prince’s household must have read Chapman’s memorial engraving as a touchingly appropriate homage to their beloved prince.
By 1616 it must have been growing evident that Prince Henry, whose body had been laid to rest in the tomb of Henry VII, was never going to get a tomb or statue of his own. The “Toomb, Arms, Statue” of Chapman’s memorial sonnet suggest that Chapman has figuratively taken upon himself the task of constructing Prince Henry’s tomb. The architectural designs for the general title page and the pictura of the columns serve as a two-dimensional representation of the poet’s desire to erect a permanent, quasi-architectural memorial on behalf of his dead patron, something along the lines of the structures found among the ruins of ancient Greece or Rome. The motto and the banner appear in large roman capital letters, in letterforms noticeably different from those of the general title page. The capitals of the memorial engraving evoke a sense of classical monumentality such as that preserved in the inscriptional capitals on Trajan’s Column in Rome and as picked up during the Renaissance in the typography and the woodcuts depicting ruined ancient monuments in Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice: Aldus, 1499), a book Chapman is likely to have known.
Chapman’s portrayal of the twin columns evokes this spirit, visually affirming a generic connection between chiseled epitaph and engraved epigram, between the monument and the dedication. Dedications of whatever kind are a species of explicit performative utterance: the sentence beginning “I dedicate” has the power to cause its object, book or church or monument, to be specially designated with the dedicatee’s name. Like dedication, the presentation ceremony formula, “I present,” is also performative. The difference involves the direct and the desired effects of the action: “I present” accompanied by the act of kneeling with a book in one’s outstretched hands is a straightforward act of gift, the client placing ownership of that copy in the hands of the patron. “I dedicate” involves a kind of super-ownership: the locution causes the work itself, at least figuratively, to become the patron’s, and the work remains the patron’s regardless of who owns copies. Just as a dedicated church is God’s at the same time that it exists for its priests and parishioners, a book dedication declares the book to be the patron’s at the same time that it belongs to the owners of individual copies. Both the act of presentation and the act of dedication involve an often tacit negotiation in which the client expects or at least hopes for a reciprocal (and preferably lopsided) response to the performance from the patron.
The act of commemoration, as in Chapman’s memorial engraving, is likewise a kind of performative utterance, but unlike dedication and presentation, the communication operates in only one direction. The sentence “I commemorate” devotes its object to the remembrance of the dead, with no expectation of reciprocal benefit from the deceased. Whereas a book dedication’s praise normally includes or implies a direct request for or acknowledgment of benefits from the patron, a commemorative dedication becomes a variation on the theme of sheer devotion—a great deal more like the dedication of a church, in fact, than an ordinary book dedication. The loyalty of memory is more sacrosanct than the devotion of ordinary service.
But, as the analogy of the church dedication shows, the exchange may be more complex. The dedicators of a church lack the power to oblige Deity or patron saint to give a blessing in return for their devotion, yet their dedication always involves the expectation that God will look down with pleasure. Even though the deceased dedicatee of a book is absent from any possible readership of the book, such a dedication still carries hopes for patronage, as the emphasis on financial need in Chapman’s plaintive memorial sonnet makes clear. Chapman’s memorial engraving reminds us that the funeral elegy is itself a genre of patronage, though literary historians seldom explore the full implications of this. The memorial dedication and the funeral elegy are related: like other occasional kinds, both may function as genres of patronage, but both tend to do so indirectly. The very phrase “to the memory of” signals the actual audience: not the dedicatee, but those who cherish the dedicatee’s memory.
Chapman’s engraving evokes the remembrance of Prince Henry by placing Henry’s badge between the two pillars, thereby identifying them as the prince’s possessions. In heraldry, as A. C. Fox-Davies explains, a badge was its owner’s “sign-mark indicative of ownership; they were stamped upon his belongings . . . and they were worn by his retainers . . . badges had very extensive decorative use.” Prince Henry’s badge frequently appears, for instance, stamped on the bindings of books belonging to his library. A number of works dedicated to Prince Henry, like Chapman’s Homer, include the prince’s badge printed in their preliminaries. Peacham’s Minerva Britanna, the most elaborate example, turns the badge into an emblematic frontispiece opposite the book’s main dedication. Other appearances of the prince’s badge are even more striking, none more so than that in Coryats Crudities (1611), which displays the badge set within a blazing fireball of a sun, in a full-page woodcut printed opposite the book’s main dedication to the prince. Whereas the badge as a decoration on a bookbinding marks the individual copy as the prince’s, the badge printed within the text of a book marks the work as his possession. Marking the text of one’s book with the badge of one’s prince, like dedicating the book with his printed name, is a way both of declaring fealty and of submitting the work to the “ownership” of the patron, according to the feudal notions of property inherent in the patronage system.
The placement of Prince Henry’s badge as a prominent part of Chapman’s memorial engraving thus advertises the prince’s rights of ownership over the other elements of the emblem. By labeling the two pillars in the emblem “Ilias” and “Odysses,” the artist indicates that the memorial Chapman has “built” for the prince comprehends the totality of the two works. The memorial engraving relies on the commonplace that literary works outlast architectural monuments and thus better serve to perpetuate the memory of a patron. In structuring his emblem around the image of the Columns of Hercules, Chapman constructs a two-dimensional representation of one of the fabulous lost architectural monuments of antiquity. The mythical Columns had taken on a remarkable emblematic afterlife as the impresa of Emperor Charles V, the Hapsburg ruler who oversaw much of the Spanish colonization of the New World. Charles V began using the Columns of Hercules as his device in 1516, and it became a familiar and widely used iconographic topos in coins and emblem books. English royal pageantry took up the image of the columns as early as the reign of Henry VIII, and the Elizabethans used it to celebrate England’s victories over the Spanish.
The image of the Columns of Hercules came down to the Renaissance as a myth in which the heroic Hercules marks the boundaries of the known world at the Straits of Gibraltar—Boccaccio even describes the columns as the thirteenth of the Labors of Hercules. Depending upon its context, the image takes one of two senses. It is either a warning—beware the wide expanse of sea beyond these markers—or it is a symbol of heroic ambition: to pass beyond the columns is to partake of the “Ulyssean aspirations” described in Dante to surpass the bounds set by Hercules, exploring the world “beyond the straits of Gibraltar.” As with other emblems and imprese, “epigram and picture might offer an embarras de richesses of meanings separately,” so one relies upon the placement of components together to determine which of the rival meanings to take. As the emblem of the columns appears in the impresa of Charles V, it typically accompanies the emperor’s motto, Plus Ultra (“further beyond”). According to Rosenthal, the imperial motto “was to be read, in combination with the columns, as a prepositional phrase, ‘further beyond the Columns of Hercules,’ with the inference that the institution or dignity represented by the symbol usually placed between the columns would be carried beyond those old limitary markers.” The iconography of Charles V thus partakes of the heroic Ulyssean connotations of the image. As Gordon Braden elaborates, the imperial device was “the concomitant to an empire of unprecedented expanse, one that could lay claim to being the real and indeed hyperbolic successor to Rome.”
At first glance, for a reader knowing of Prince Henry’s desire to wage war with the Roman Catholic powers of the Continent, and of his intense interest in the exploration of the New World by the Virginia Company, Chapman’s emblem might appear to mean that “Prince Henry would have gone further beyond the Columns of Hercules” in his military and colonial achievements. The redeployment of the emperor’s iconography on behalf of a future ruler of Britain might be seen as a means of staking rival imperial claims. This sense of the columns, that of heroic ambition, appears in an earlier work of Chapman’s. In The Teares of Peace (1609), a bizarre dream-vision dedicated to Prince Henry, Homer appears to Chapman, commanding him to translate his works for the prince. Praising the achievements of King James, Chapman begins:
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Now that our Soveraign, the great King of Peace,
Hath (in her grace) outlabour’d Hercules;
And, past his Pillars, stretcht her victories.
Chapman’s use of the Columns of Hercules here is not unambiguous. For Chapman, they could simultaneously be interpreted as an emblem of James’s pacifistic policies and as an expression of Britain’s imperial ambitions. In 1609 a discussion of England’s king stretching the victories of peace past the Pillars of Hercules must have called to mind the recent settlement at Jamestown—a peaceful settlement, in terms of England’s rivalry with Spain, but an imperialistic achievement all the same. Chapman takes the columns as one of the all-but-impossible labors of Hercules; surpassing them serves as an emblem of remarkable effort, an exceptional achievement, outlaboring the mightiest of the men of mythical antiquity. The appearance of the Columns of Hercules in The Teares of Peace, at the outset of the work that announces to the world Chapman’s project to finish his translation of Homer under the patronage of Prince Henry, is an expression of Renaissance optimism. Chapman associates the image’s heroic import both with his work of translation and with Henry’s sponsorship of it.
The Columns of Hercules reappear in an elegy Chapman wrote almost immediately after Prince Henry’s death, the Epicede, but with their other major connotation as a limitary or cautionary symbol. Combined as it is with a report on the funeral itself, and entered in the stationers’ register only a few days after Henry’s death, Chapman’s Epicede takes the stance of a quasi-official report on the prince’s loss. Toward the end of this long poem, Chapman writes:
But let the world be now a heape of death,
Life’s joy lyes dead in him, and challengeth
No lesse a reason: If all motion stoode
Benumb’d and stupified, with his frozen blood;
And like a Tombe-stone, fixt, lay all the seas
There were fit pillers for our Hercules
To bound the world with: Men had better dye
Then out-live free times; slaves to Policie. (595–602)
Much of the Epicede paraphrases a Latin elegy by the humanist Homeric commentator Chapman relied on so much, Angelus Politianus, but the Columns of Hercules do not appear in Chapman’s source. As so often with Chapman’s poetry, the lines are cryptic; the twin pillars figure forth the rigidity resulting from the benumbing of “all motion” and the fixing of the seas. The image encompasses all inward and outward activity on the earth in terms of the two most vital of fluids, both of which normally signify flux and change: the motion of the blood in all living creatures, and the undulating waves of the seas that are necessary for the most significant forms of commerce and exploration.
Chapman applies the Columns of Hercules to Prince Henry in ways that combine their two senses. The cautionary sense of Henry’s twin columns is a political one: freedom is preferable to the slavery of “Policie” (that is, statecraft based in “cunning, craftiness, dissimulation”—OED). Henry’s death marks the end of this freedom. The connotation of ambition too is present: Henry has moved the columns far beyond the physical borders of the known world, where Hercules left them, into a metaphysical realm. “Our Hercules” is Prince Henry himself, constructing his own memorial, setting the boundaries not at Gibraltar but upon life itself. This convoluted imagery does not manifest itself directly in the depiction of the columns in Chapman’s memorial engraving, but these previous uses of the columns were undoubtedly on Chapman’s mind when he chose the image for the memorial engraving.
Chapman’s substitution in his memorial engraving of usque for ultra appears to be unique, a humanist’s verbal sprezzatura in an original and more grammatically correct adaptation of the usual motto. By adding the negative and modifying the wording of the motto to ne usque—“no further,” “no higher,” “not completely”—Chapman emphasizes that Prince Henry is lost. The cautionary connotation of the columns makes little sense in interpreting the memorial engraving, because it is not possible for a deceased Henry to heed an admonition not to go beyond the columns. Instead, the message of Chapman’s emblem reads something like this: “Prince Henry reached the limits of the world of the Muses, the point beyond which one can go no further: the twin pillars of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad.” As a patron, Henry inspired the translation of the greatest of the Greek poets, and no other patron remains to go beyond his accomplishment. Yet the connotations of usque also introduce a sense in which Henry’s achievement is incomplete: his pledge to Chapman never came to fruition, just as Chapman never had the opportunity to present a copy of the combined works of Homer to his prince. Chapman insists that there is no higher epic to dedicate to a patron, and he repeatedly points out that his work is uniquely worthy of attention and reward, as in his assurance to the Earl of Northampton: “Nor needes your Lordshippe doubt giving President to any, no one being able, of this Nature, to alledge ye like service; None but my self having done homer; wch will sufficiently distinguish it from any other.”
Chapman has no higher patron to seek, save only the king and his council. The sonnet in Chapman’s memorial emblem confirms this sense of desperation. The opening lines are syntactically obscure, yet verbally striking. Chapman creates a sense of spareness by the ellipsis of the definite article, heavy enjambment, and frequent alliteration:
Thy Toomb, Arms, Statue; All things fitt to fall
At foote of Deathe; And worship Funerall
Forme hath bestow’d: for Forme, is nought too deare:
Thy solid Virtues yet; eternis’d here;
My bloode, and wasted spirritts have onely founde
Commanded Cost: And broke so riche a grounde,
(Not to interr; But make thee ever springe)
As Arms, Toombs, Statues; everye Earthy thinge,
Shall fade and vanishe into fume before:
What lasts; thrives lest: yet; welth of soule is poore;
And so tis kept: Not thy thrice sacred will
Sign’d with thy Deathe; moves any to fullfill
Thy Just bequests to me: Thow, dead then; I
Live deade, for giving thee Eternitie.
The Petrarchan devotion of the sonnet form, as it appears during the height of the vogue under Queen Elizabeth, had been adapted in some measure as a figuration of patron/client relations. As various critics have pointed out, attempts to adapt Petrarchan language to similar purposes under James were not so successful. Here, in his memorial for Prince Henry, Chapman literalizes the code of the Petrarchan sonnet, removing all traces of the amorous subtext of Petrarchan language. The devotion of Chapman’s memorial sonnet is purely patronal. Chapman’s praise for Prince Henry is not the hyperbole of a lovestruck courtier pining for some pretty Laura. The structure of Chapman’s sonnet echoes this: instead of the normally interlocking stanzas of the Petrarchan or English sonnet forms, the poet employs heroic couplets, distancing his sonnet from its Petrarchan fellows as he immortalizes his “incomparable heroe.” The half-rhyme in the final couplet touchingly calls attention to one of the inherent problems in the patronage system: the authorial I who grants eternitie depends in a very real way upon the continued attention of the Thow whom the sonnet addresses.
As an earnest vehicle for patronage, the sonnet form has here lost much of its playfulness. Chapman’s concerns with lack of patronage are vocal and plain, and in case his readers should miss the point, he appends an additional pair of couplets “Ad Famam”:
To all Tymes future, This Tymes Marck extend;
Homer, no Patrone found: Nor Chapman freind.
Ignotus nimis omnibus;
Sat notus, moritur sibi.
Chapman reverses the famous quotation from Seneca’s Thyestes, which had only recently found its now familiar context in Bacon’s “Of Great Place”:
Certainly men in great fortunes are strangers to themselves, and while they are in the puzzle of business they have no time to tend their health, either of body or mind. Illi mors gravis incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur sibi. [Death lies heavily on the man who, too well known to others, dies a stranger to himself.] In place there is licence to do good and evil, whereof the latter is a curse; for in evil the best condition is not to will, the second not to can. But power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring.
Perhaps Chapman knew the manuscript of the revised Essays, or the 1612 edition based on it—which Bacon had intended to dedicate to Prince Henry—in which the quotation first appears. Regardless, Chapman might have added that men in great fortunes ought to tend to the health, body, and mind of their clients as well as their own, and that the power of the great to do good includes the judicious and generous dispensing of patronage.
Chapman probably writes hyperbolically in saying that he is “too much unknown to all.” The earlier editions of the Iliad had included a total of twenty multiple dedicatory sonnets bound in at the back, and Chapman seems to have been banking on the new Whole Works’ gaining a favorable reception from several of these earlier dedicatees, a number of whom were members of the Privy Council. Chapman regarded his work and the prince’s promise as a matter of state, as becomes clear in his having sent a letter to the king requesting that his situation be looked into by the Privy Council. Chapman’s petition to the Privy Council itself reveals both the weightiness with which he viewed the matter and the extent of his desperation:
Vouchsafe (most honord Lordes) your free consideration of my enforc’t suyte; That attending, fower yeares our late lost Prince; in a service commaunded by his highnes (being the translation of Homers Iliads out of the Greeke) And being promist, wth his often Princely protestation of likinge, (bothe out of his owne rare towardnes, and confirmation of the best in the Homericall language) three hundred poundes; And uppon his deathbed a good Pension during my life;—Commaunding me to go on wth the Odysses; All wch Sir Tho: Challenor can truly wittnesse; yet never receyvinge pennye; but incurringe seaven score poundes debt, by my tyme spent in that service, wch all know I could have employde to the profitt of as great a Summ; The want whereof, wthout your charitable Prevention must ende in my endles imprisonment; It may please your most equall Lordshippes, not to value such a worke, at a lesse Rate, then any Mechanicall service; Nor his extraordinarie Princely promisse, lighter than a customarie debt; But to this my first suyte and last Refuge, stand just & consionable Sanctuaries; For wch: the little Rest of my poore ould life, shall ever pray knowinglie and faithfullie for yow.
For one who had aimed so high, and with so much at stake, rededication was not an option; indeed, Chapman may have deliberately planned for the publication of The Whole Works of Homer, with its reissue of the dedication to Prince Henry, its newly added memorial engraving, and the reappearance of the Iliad’s dedicatory sonnets, to coincide with his petition to the Privy Council.
A potent irony thus manifests itself in Chapman’s laureate ambitions for The Whole Works of Homer. The very work that most fully stakes Chapman’s laureate claims, through the vehicle of the author’s portrait, is also the work that, in the memorial engraving and mourning sonnet for Prince Henry, most poignantly laments the failure of the poet’s laureate pretensions to be recognized. Richard Helgerson groups Chapman among such other poets with failed laureate ambitions as Samuel Daniel and Michael Drayton. Helgerson finds that Chapman, toward the end of his career, “drifted . . . into querulousness,” just as Daniel “drifted into prose” and Drayton “into isolation from his audience.” Even as he hints that a common malady afflicted these poets, Helgerson offers no convincing explanation for the failure of their ambitions. Notably missing from Helgerson’s analysis is the three poets’ common investment of their poetic stock in the praise of Prince Henry. Henry’s death was not the sole contributing factor to the failure of their ambitions, yet it is not insignificant that the transitions Helgerson describes in each of their careers took place after the prince’s death. Wilks shows how, after Prince Henry’s death, many of his courtiers were shut out not only from the offices they expected under the future king but from any role in government at all—Chapman, he maintains, was a victim of this policy. The discontent this policy engendered not only played a major role in the events leading up to the Civil War but also helped to shape the poetic trends of the ensuing decades. The degree to which poetic self-presentation takes its shape from the choice of patron, and the degree to which choice of patron shapes both work and poetic career—not to mention the degree to which the vicissitudes of Fortune and Death might diminish or even demolish a patron’s ability to do so—are far more important than Helgerson allows.
Chapman made consistently bad choices of patrons: Essex executed, Prince Henry dead at an early age, Somerset disgraced. Daniel and Drayton both had strong Spenserian leanings, leanings that manifested themselves in Chapman as well and that Prince Henry encouraged. None of the Spenserians enjoyed extensive prominent literary patronage after Prince Henry’s death. Spenser’s influence exhibits itself in many of the hundreds of elegies on Prince Henry. Chapman’s Epicede is prominent among these elegies, with its “verbal allusions” to Spenser and its reference to Archbishop Abbott, which “emphasizes Henry’s inheritance of the leadership of the Leicester/Sidney group,” according to Dennis Kay. Kay reads Chapman’s Epicede as “a scarcely veiled claim to laureateship, and to poetic primacy.” In view of the strength of Chapman’s claims, and of the similar boldness in The Whole Works of Homer, Kay makes surprisingly little of the extremely odd disjunction between these claims and the lack of ambition in Chapman’s two-page prose dedication of the Epicede to his “best friend,” Henry Jones.
In the dedication to Jones, Chapman renounces future patron-seeking, and possibly even the vocation of a poet, in terms that sound like a vow of monastic retreat from public life. “This so farre unexpected publication of my gratitude” appears simply to be a public acknowledgment thanking a friend for his loyalty and affection:
My truest Friend:
The most unvaluable and dismaifull loss of my most deare and Heroicall Patrone, Prince HENRY, hath so stricken all my spirits to the earth, that I will never more dare, to looke up to any greatnesse; but resolving the little rest of my poore life to obscuritie, and the shadow of his death; prepare ever hereafter, for the light of heaven.
Chapman goes on to call the dedication an “unprofitable signe of my love,” further cementing the idea that the dedication is merely familiar. Little is known about Jones apart from Chapman’s dedication, although he seems to have been “on the periphery” of Prince Henry’s court circle. Chapman hints that Jones may have done him a favor; Jones may even have taken him in, if the repast Chapman mentions is literal: “A little, blest, makes a great feast (my best friend).” In its language of brotherly affection, the dedication contains strikingly leveling sentiment: “There may favours passe betwixt poore friends, which even the richest, and greatest may envy.” The conclusion praises Jones for his “extraordinary and noble love and sorrow, borne to our most sweet PRINCE,” which “entitles you worthily to this Dedication which . . . I conclude you as desertfull of, at my hands, as our Noblest Earles.” Chapman’s praise for the obscure Henry Jones forms a sharp contrast with the chivalric magnificence of the virtual court, full of the noblest earls, which Chapman had created in the multiple dedicatory sonnets at the end of the Iliad.
Given the dignity Chapman had sought as a poet laureate to the Prince of Wales, it is striking in this context to discover that Chapman gave a presentation copy of the 1611 Iliad to Henry Jones, in a sense placing Jones among the company of the various noble dedicatees to whom Chapman presumably also gave copies of his book. That Chapman should turn in the dedication of his Epicede to a friend instead of a nobleman seems strange, given Chapman’s ambitions. The language of Chapman’s dedication to Jones gives every appearance of familiarity, conviviality, and mere gratitude. Few of Chapman’s contemporaries would have suspected that the serious debts he complains about to the Privy Council were directly related to the dedication to Jones. For, far from being the dedication of a poet laureate, the dedication to Jones is the dedication of a man who has narrowly escaped debtors’ prison, a dedication deeply implicated in a series of financial transactions that blur the lines between friendship, patronage, and commerce.
A fascinating story emerges from the archival researches of C. J. Sisson and Robert Butman into a chancery case involving Chapman and Henry Jones. Jones, it turns out, kept careful track of his beneficences to Chapman, which he regarded as loans. In 1612, sometime before Prince Henry’s illness, Chapman agreed to sign a bond for £;100 plus interest, confident, Wilks argues, of his coming payment for the translation of Homer and for a masque in preparation under Henry’s patronage to celebrate the coming wedding of the prince’s sister, Elizabeth. Henry’s death and Chapman’s dedication of the Epicede to Jones coincide with “satisfactory financial arrangements made by Jones on Chapman’s behalf.” Later, Chapman’s lawyers were able to persuade the judge that Jones had given the bond for £;100 to Chapman in exchange for the dedication. The Epicede turns out to be a work of patronage—not noble patronage, but the patronage of a son of a sheriff of London, a member of the wealthy merchant class. The end result of the suit is the formalization of a marketplace commodification of dedications, potentially even establishing legal precedent for the notion that dedications could be bought and sold as a kind of goods or chattels.
In the meantime, still owing money to Jones, Chapman reneged on his vow not to “looke up to any greatnesse” and sought patronage elsewhere. Amid a flurry of works published in this period, he had a funeral elegy, Eugenia, printed privately in 1614, on the death of William, Lord Russell, and dedicated to Russell’s son Francis. Chapman resolved to produce “Anniversaries,” à la Donne, “for as many yeares as God shall please to give me life and facultie.” No further commemorations of Russell by Chapman are known, and his hopes for the family’s patronage evidently went nowhere. Chapman turned in the same year to the king’s favorite, Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset. Butman suggests that Chapman, in celebrating Somerset’s marriage to Frances Howard in Andromeda Liberata, hoped for Somerset’s assistance as the bond came due to Henry Jones. The poem contained certain infelicities of subject matter that led to the publication, later that year, of A Free and Offenceless Justification, of a Lately Publisht and Most Maliciously Misinterpreted Poem, in which Chapman vigorously denied that the first poem’s monster, from whom Andromeda/Lady Frances is liberated, was meant as an allegory on her former husband, the Earl of Essex. Whether or not Chapman was able to win Somerset over with the Justification and the New Year’s gift of the dedication of the Odyssey, his patronage was apparently insufficient to allow Chapman to meet his obligations. By 1615 Somerset had been disgraced, and Chapman probably fled to his elder brother’s estate in the country to escape imprisonment for debt.
All this while, none of Chapman’s published works mentioned Prince Henry’s promised reward. Finally came the memorial engraving in The Whole Works of Homer and its accompanying suit to the Privy Council. After a series of new works either eschewing patronage or seeking out new patrons, Chapman returned to the lament of the death of his beloved prince. In contrast to the dedication to Henry Jones, Chapman’s memorial sonnet in The Whole Works speaks boldly and frankly about his deservedness of substantial, noble patronage. Addressing the departed prince, Chapman implies that the king himself is at fault for failing to honor his dying son’s wish that Chapman be recompensed for his translation: “Not thy thrice sacred will / Sign’d with thy Death; moves any to fullfill / Thy Just bequests to me.”
In seeking redress from the king, framing the prince’s badge between the Columns of Hercules might have seemed natural to Chapman, if he reflected upon the some dozen references throughout the Iliad to Jove’s lost son Hercules. Unlike Ulysses, Hercules is not actually a character in the Iliad or the Odyssey, yet Homer’s frequent references to him create such an important subtext that he emerges as a sort of proto-character, a shade whose presence ineluctably inhabits the narrative’s background. The Iliad and Odyssey construct Hercules as an already transported hero, a lost son of Jove. Over and over Homer’s epic epithets for Hercules identify him as Jove’s son, emphasizing both the hero’s mortality and his father’s love for him: “his affected Hercules”; “As though Jove’s love to Ilion in all degrees were such / As twas to Hercules, his sonne”; “Jove ever since did grieve, / Since his deare issue Hercules did by his vow atchieve / Th’unjust toyles of Eurystheus.”
By presenting Prince Henry as a Hercules figure, Chapman paints him not only as a departed saint of Hercules-like import and character—as a lost son of the king—but also as a paragon of virtue. The richness of Homer’s treatment of Hercules provides also, indirectly, that most basic function of the funeral elegy, consolation, a consolation based upon the comparison of Prince Henry with the two heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and of Homer’s comparison of them with Hercules. In Book 18 of the Iliad, Achilles meditates on the inevitability of death:
<L/L; ext indent>
Not Hercules himselfe shund death, though dearest in the grace
Of Jupiter; even him Fate stoopt, and Juno’s crueltie;
And if such Fate expect my life, where death strikes I will lie.
Chapman offers implicit consolation to the English people. If, as Achilles learns, the son of Zeus himself is susceptible to the grave, if even the greatest hero must yield to death, England cannot expect her king’s son to avoid it.
The Odyssey offers similar comfort in its description of Hercules in relation to Homer’s other great hero. Where Achilles merely meditates on the dead Hercules, Ulysses confronts face to face the greatest of the heroes of generations past, at the culmination of Ulysses’ visit to Hades in the Odyssey. Recognizing Ulysses, Hercules identifies himself with him. At this moment, as Karl Galinsky points out, “nobody else is present; Odysseus alone is worthy to be Herakles’ companion.” They are two of a kind, and Ulysses goes back to the upper world “strengthened” and prepared to face the task the entire narrative has been building up to, the slaughter of the suitors. But it is not actually Hercules whom Ulysses has seen, but the hero’s shade. Ulysses receives assurance that Hercules himself “feasting lives amongst th’immortall States”: Hercules is with the gods. By implication, Chapman reassures his reader that the new Hercules, Prince Henry, is in heaven.
The Herculean hero emerges in Chapman’s thought as the ne plus ultra, the pinnacle of Renaissance heroism. According to Graham Parry, the protagonists of Chapman’s tragedies ultimately point to and are influenced by Prince Henry:
The preoccupation with valorous heroic figures that is such a feature of Chapman’s work, the various attempts at presenting the “complete man” of the Renaissance in such characters as Bussy and Clermont, great and integrated beings who are “young, learned, valiant, virtuous and full mann’d,” acquire a comprehensible context if we see Chapman working in the court of a young prince who himself embodied these qualities and who actively strove to create a heroic atmosphere at that court. Chapman both responded to and contributed to that atmosphere by his plays.
Chapman’s expressions of the heroic ideal in the tragedies—Charlotte Spivack even calls Bussy and Byron “Herculean heroes”—are of a piece with his explorations in the epic translations. As patron of the acting company for which Chapman wrote, as well as the patron of the Homeric translations, Prince Henry is both the inspiration and the goal for Chapman’s heroic urgings.
The summation of Chapman’s heroic ideal comes after Prince Henry’s death in the much-quoted lines from the dedication of the Odyssey to Somerset:
And that your Lordship may in his Face take view of his Mind, the first word of his Iliads is Ì¤ÓÈÓ, wrath; the first word of his Odysses, ñÓ‰Ú·, Man—contracting in either word his each worke’s Proposition. In one, Predominant Perturbation; in the other, over-ruling Wisedome; in one, the Bodie’s fervour and fashion of outward Fortitude to all possible height of Heroicall Action; in the other, the Mind’s inward, constant and unconquerd Empire, unbroken, unalterd with any most insolent and tyrannous infliction. (Odyssey, 4)
Some critics take this statement to imply that Ulysses and the inward empire of the mind are Chapman’s ideal, while Achilles and active heroism fall short. But George Lord sees it as an expression of the complementarity of Chapman’s ideas in the Iliad and the Odyssey: “Where the passion of Achilles overcomes restraints in the one, the wisdom of Odysseus triumphs over ‘perturbation’ in the other. The distinction is carried out through the antithesis of body and mind.”
In its reminder that Chapman planned originally to dedicate both epics to Prince Henry, Chapman’s memorial engraving for the prince suggests a resolution of synthesis, not antithesis. Chapman does not reject so much as moderate Achilles, tempering his wrath with Ulysses’ maturity. The memorial engraving sets forth the third term: the banner joining the two columns labeled “Ilias” and “Odyssaea” announces that these two works, the tales respectively of Achilles’ outward heroism and Ulysses’ inward governance, are the muses’ Columns of Hercules. Resting between and above the columns, as the standard of Hercules himself, is the badge of Henry, Prince of Wales. The massive capital “H” formed by the columns and banner represents the initial both of Henry and of Hercules, conflated out of images representing Homer’s two epics and their respective heroes. Chapman’s ideal hero is Hercules, as reconstituted in Prince Henry: a ne usque, an ideal beyond which none can go. Chapman’s primary dedication to Prince Henry in the Iliad holds up just this balance between the active and contemplative in the picture it paints of the virtuous prince, who
in his minde
Holds such a scepter as can keepe confinde
His whole life’s actions in the royall bounds
Of Vertue and Religion.
(Whole Works, sig. *2)
Prince Henry as Hercules is the figure in whom the two ideals meet, the hero in whom active and contemplative strike the proper symmetry.
Chapman’s Homer responds richly to a paratextual reading, through which we find that Chapman’s allegorizing tendencies require the entire Whole Works of Homer to be read in light of its would-have-been patron. Chapman’s myth of Prince Henry is a literary one, and Chapman’s laureate failure is a failure of patronage. But that literary myth relies on a political myth. Those who see Chapman as a poet only of the empire of the mind forget that Chapman, for a brief time, “had threatened to become one of the foremost propagandists of Henry’s movement.” The godly prince who rules the empire of the mind must also, in order to fulfill the full range of Renaissance magnificence, in order to be able to dispense patronage liberally, in order to fill his court with the intonations of a laureate poet, rule a real empire, one that stretches far beyond the Columns of Hercules.
Chapman’s quest for the fulfillment of Henry’s promise, alongside his association of Henry with the Columns of Hercules, resonates powerfully with Sir Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poesy, a work with which Chapman, who quotes it in the dedications to the 1609 Iliad, was evidently intimately familiar. At the conclusion of the Defense, Sidney makes it clear that he is addressing nobles who ought to be serving as patrons. As his final blow in defense of poetry, Sidney argues for the immortality that poets can give. “Lastly,” he writes, patrons should believe poets “when they tell you they will make you immortal by their verses. Thus doing, your name shall flourish in the printers’ shops; thus doing, you shall be of kin to many a poetical preface; thus doing, you shall be most fair, most rich, most wise, most all, you shall dwell upon superlatives; thus doing, though you be libertino patre natus [the son of a freed-man], you shall suddenly grow Herculea proles [a descendant of Hercules].” Chapman’s use of the Columns of Hercules paints Prince Henry as a son of Hercules who established as his greatest accomplishment the twin columns of the works of Homer, a translation which itself merits description as a labor of Hercules. In the final line of his Defense, Sidney pronounces a curse on nobles who fail to patronize poetry, that “when you die, your memory die from the earth for want of an epitaph.” Following Sidney, Chapman seems determined not only to ensure that Prince Henry’s memory live, but also to call his own capacity for creating memorials to the attention of the highest remaining patrons in the land. Chapman’s memorial engraving, and his retention of his original dedication to Prince Henry, form part of a calculated, desperate last attempt to persuade the king and his council of the virtue of making good on a brilliant prince’s promise to a poet of laureate distinction.
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