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Archive for the ‘Britain’ Category

What Is Magna Carta?

In Arts & Letters, Britain, History, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, liberal arts, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy on November 29, 2017 at 6:45 am
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Redeeming the Debauched Falstaff

In Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Books, Britain, British Literature, Creativity, Fiction, Humanities, liberal arts, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Philosophy, Shakespeare, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy on November 15, 2017 at 6:45 am

This review originally appeared here in The American Conservative. 

In The Daemon Knows, published in 2015, the heroic, boundless Harold Bloom claimed to have one more book left in him. If his contract with Simon & Schuster is any indication, he has more work than that to complete. The effusive 86-year-old has agreed to produce a sequence of five books on Shakespearean personalities, presumably those with whom he’s most enamored.

The first, recently released, is Falstaff: Give Me Life, which has been called an “extended essay” but reads more like 21 ponderous essay-fragments, as though Bloom has compiled his notes and reflections over the years.

The result is a solemn, exhilarating meditation on Sir John Falstaff, the cheerful, slovenly, degenerate knight whose unwavering and ultimately self-destructive loyalty to Henry of Monmouth, or Prince Hal, his companion in William Shakespeare’s Henry trilogy (“the Henriad”), redeems his otherwise debauched character.

Except Bloom doesn’t see the punning, name-calling Falstaff that way. He exalts this portly, subversive figure as the charming master of deception and rogue scheming, and more importantly as a courageous vitalist “unmatched in all of Western imaginative literature.” Bloom’s astounding reverence for this clever, corrupting, calculating, mischievous Bacchanalian—whose life-affirming zest is as delightful as it is disconcerting—reveals he’s capable of the same kind of strategic indulgence that animates his transgressive subject.

His opening lines establish an affectionate, worshipful tone: “I fell in love with Sir John Falstaff when I was a boy of twelve, almost seventy-five years ago. A rather plump and melancholy youth, I turned to him out of need, because I was lonely. Finding myself in him liberated me from a debilitating self-consciousness.”

This isn’t academic prose. Bloom doesn’t write scholarship in the sense in which English professors, who chase tenure and peer approval, understand that term. Could you imagine a graduate student in literature showing up at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention and pronouncing from behind a podium that “Falstaff wants us to love him”? Or that Falstaff “is the mortal god of our vitalism and of our capacity for joyous play of every kind”? That would end a career before it began.

To hold Bloom to professional academic standards is fundamentally to misunderstand the man. His criticism is art unto itself; it’s genre-defying literature: part memoir, part fiction, part psychoanalysis. He’s a character of his own creation, as imaginary as Falstaff, and yet real and alive. In his psyche, the mysteries of which he plumbs with Freudian apprehension, Falstaff, too, is alive—and more than that, he’s a deified “embassy of life.” Bloom calls him the “greatest wit in literature,” whose vices “are perfectly open and cheerfully self-acknowledged.”

Immediately objections spring to mind: Didn’t Falstaff take bribes from competent soldiers who wished to avoid battle, thereby dooming his innocent, rag-tag band of unready troops? Doesn’t this bawdy gambler fake his own death to avoid injury and then seek credit for Hal’s slaying of Hotspur? Isn’t he a compulsive liar and self-serving fabricator? Rather than earn his keep, doesn’t he mooch off borrowed and stolen money while fraternizing with lowly criminals in disreputable taverns? Doesn’t he find stealing entertaining? Doesn’t he fail miserably in his attempt to seduce married women? Doesn’t he thrive in the seedy underbelly of impolite society?

No matter. The venerating and visionary Bloom sees Falstaff’s flaws as part of his appeal. Falstaff, prefiguring Nietzsche and Sartre, stands outside ethical jurisdiction as the lovable übermensch, the seductive sum of his own deliberate actions and unbridled agency in a world without God. Falstaffianism can be reduced to an abrupt imperative: “do not moralize.” These are Bloom’s italics, emphasizing, perhaps, the enthusiasm with which Falstaff rebuffs normative codes and basic standards of decency, vivaciously embracing the self—the subjective, knowing, self-aware “I” that wills a future into being—with laughter and existential rapture.

Kate Havard argues in Commentary that “Bloom must actually reckon with the sorts of things Falstaff does that would seem monstrous in real life.” I’m not sure about this mandate. Everyone is susceptible to wickedness. We’re fallible. Yet the magnitude of our evil acts is proportionate only to our capacity and will for achieving them. Greater power over others has the potential to increase the enormity of our chosen wrongs. Two hearts, equally blameworthy, can enact varying degrees of harm. With our meanness and malevolence, depravity and double-dealing, we’re all like Falstaff at some instant, even if we “cannot say that we are Falstaff’’ (my italics this time) because Falstaff cannot be universal—he’s too shrewd, raucous, and riotously convivial to be an archetype.

That we haven’t occasioned rank violence or mass damage is only evidence of our own powerlessness to do so in our moment of darkness. Our minds have contemplated horrors that our bodies never brought to bear. Knowing this, one begins to appreciate Bloom’s melancholy voice in such an adoring account. “Falstaff is no everyman,” he intones, “[b]ut all of us, whatever our age or gender, participate in him.” This truth, if it is one, doesn’t excuse Falstaff; rather it makes his decisions disturbingly recognizable.

Falstaff stands for absolute freedom, challenging dogmatic pieties even as he uses them to his advantage. He signals human choice and authenticity, but he’s elusive and multifaceted. “There is no single Falstaff,” Bloom submits. “In my youth and middle years I thought I knew Falstaff. That Falstaff has vanished from me. The better I know Sir John the less I know him. He has become one of the lost vehemences my midnights hold.”

This tragicomic Falstaff is so complex and ambiguous that he undermines expectations, avoids patterned behavior, and escapes simple explanation. “Falstaff is as bewildering as Hamlet, as infinitely varied as Cleopatra,” says Bloom. “He can be apprehended but never fully comprehended. There is no end to Falstaff. His matrix is freedom but he dies for love.”

Falstaff is a more cunning and charismatic version of Chaucer’s drunkenly crass miller, whose hilarious tale of casual adultery lacks the stark intentionality that makes Falstaff so treacherously in control. He’s like a flatulent Santa Claus, without the meekness or mildness of Christian self-denial. He is, in a word, exuberant, and as Bloom opines, “Exuberance in itself is a shadowy virtue and can be dangerous to the self and to others, but in Falstaff it generates more life.”

Bloom commendably acknowledges the charges leveled against him: “I am weary of being accused of sentimentalizing Falstaff.” He says he’s “been chided for sentimentality when I observe Falstaff betrays and harms no one,” and he pleads with us to enjoy Shakespeare’s rendering of the Fat Knight, adding, “Do not moralize.” The point is not to elicit agreement but to move you emotionally, although his expressive mode is less sentimental than it is spiritual or mystical. He has a jovial appetite for living, thinking, and loving that resembles Falstaff’s in its sheer capaciousness—hence his aside that he’s a “lifelong Falstaffian.”

The Book of Genesis asserts that God made man in his image. One wonders whether Bloom’s ecstatic Bardolatry—he once called Shakespeare “a mortal god”—leads to a different but related conclusion: that Shakespeare, as God, created Bloom in Falstaff’s image. Although age has thinned his once corpulent physique, Bloom is, at times, the boastful embodiment of the bombastic, iconoclastic genius (Sir John) whose chief weakness is his fondness and devotion. At other times, he’s a prophetic seer haunted by the daemon, devoid of merry wit, laughter, or redemptive charm and enthused by ineffable forces to cry out with beautiful despair and angst. His gusto seems ever-present, as does his displayed interiority.

Yet there is no single Bloom. You may think you know him, but then he vanishes as a lost vehemence.

“He has never abandoned me for three-quarters of a century,” Bloom muses of Falstaff, “and I trust will be with me until the end. The true and perfect image of life abides with him: robustly, unforgettably, forever. He exposes what is counterfeit in me and in all others.” Perhaps that’s why Falstaff is so threatening: he lays bare that manipulative, liberated part of ourselves that we don’t acknowledge or even fathom, that’s alienated and estranged from other people, accessible only to the “I myself”—the only thing we know that we know.

A Brief History of Opinion-Writing Practices from Hale and Blackstone to the 20th Century

In American History, Britain, History, Law, Nineteenth-Century America, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. on August 9, 2017 at 6:45 am

This post is adapted from a law review article that may be downloaded here (citations available in the original).  

Sir Matthew Hale and Sir William Blackstone explained that judicial opinions in England traditionally were a source of unwritten law, or lex non scripta, derived from custom and read from the bench but not transcribed in official reports or indexed in a formal corpus.  Judicial opinions began as an oral medium, not a written record.  They were considered evidence of what the law was, but not the law itself.

From the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, opinions were often written down, in French, and compiled in Year Books.  Lawyers began citing opinions—some written, some unwritten—in their arguments before the courts, although there was no systematized mode of citation.  As early as the fifteenth century, lawyers produced abridgements, or digests, to review the state of the law across England.  These sketchy compilations summarized and classified opinions and could be referenced in the courtroom as authority for particular propositions.  During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a comprehensive scheme of methodical and widespread adherence to written precedent emerged gradually by slow degrees.  However, not until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did judges and litigants treat opinions as authoritative and binding in a manner that resembled the modern sense of precedent.  The publication of Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England over the course of nearly two decades during the early seventeenth century provided direction for both jurists and attorneys who wished to substantiate their arguments with concrete holdings.  Still there were no certified court reporters or verbatim transcriptions; the enterprise of publishing reports or digests was often personal and selective, insofar as reporters often chose to record only cases they liked and to disregard cases they disliked.

From approximately 1600 to 1800, the British House of Lords enjoyed supreme appellate jurisdiction over cases in common-law and equity courts.  During that time, the House of Lords did not publish reports of its decisions, seriatim or otherwise.  Most cases were ultimately determined by intermediate appellate courts, including the Exchequer Chamber, the Court of Common Pleas, and the King’s Bench, which regularly issued seriatim opinions that were transcribed by reporters.  Prior to American independence from Great Britain, appeals from colonial courts went before the Privy Council in England.  The Privy Council reached decisions by majority vote but issued those decisions as unified pronouncements, regardless of dissenting views.  Because all decisions of the Privy Council were subject to the King’s review, and the King, the site and symbol of the law or body politic, could not articulate simultaneous, contradictory positions, the appearance of unanimity within the Privy Council was paramount.

In its early years, after the adoption of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the United States Supreme Court (“the Court”), following the practice of English common-law courts—specifically the King’s Bench—typically rendered decisions in the form of per curiam and seriatim opinions.  The near obligatory practice of rendering written opinions was an American innovation and a departure from the English custom of residual orality.  The fact that the United States Constitution was written perhaps necessitated the textual documentation of judicial opinions in books, digests, and reports.

During the tenure of Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth (1796–1800), the third Chief Justice of the Court, seriatim opinions became less common and were abandoned during the tenure of Chief Justice John Marshall (1801–1835), who orchestrated consolidated opinions among the justices, much to the chagrin of Thomas Jefferson.  Justices who concurred with the prevailing rationale no longer authored a separate opinion to express their agreement.  Justice William Johnson, a Jeffersonian Republican, was the notable exception, authoring nearly half of the dissents that were produced by members of the Court during his tenure on the bench.  Chief Justice Marshall, for his part, authored most of the Court’s majority opinions, which were issued with the phrase “opinion of the Court” to lend the impression that the justices spoke with one voice.  Collegiality and consensus-building must have been a high priority because, after work hours, the justices resided and dined together in a small boardinghouse on Capitol Hill, away from their families, where court conflicts could have incited personal quarrels.  Abandoning the seriatim mode and dissenting opinions also quickened the publication process; over a quarter of the cases decided by opinion between 1815 and 1835 were published in no more than five days.

The period late in Chief Justice Marshall’s tenure to approximately 1905 involved the rise of dissenting justices.  Chief Justice Marshall himself began to author dissents as the Court increasingly decided cases through majority rather than unanimous opinions.  Dissents proliferated during the mid-nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.  Justice John McLean and Justice Benjamin Curtis authored memorable dissents in Dred Scott v. Sandford.  Forty-eight years later, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s three-paragraph dissent in Lochner v. New York became one of the most influential legal writings in American history.  Blackstone’s conviction that opinions were evidence of law but not actually law continued to some extent throughout the nineteenth century, yet it had been diminishing since the mid-eighteenth century.  The notion of “caselaw,” or the idea that judicial opinions constituted law, did not gain currency until the twentieth century.  Today it is mostly accepted without question or qualification.

The twentieth century ushered in the era of the “Great Dissenter,” a label that has been conferred on Justice Holmes and Justice John Marshall Harlan.  By the 1940s, most cases involved separate opinions.  Dissents and separate writings are now common.  A jurist’s reasoning and argument typically enjoy precedential effect, but historically, under the English tradition of the common law, the judgment of the opinion was authoritative, and later courts could disregard the analysis from which that judgment followed.  The results of an opinion, in other words, took priority over its reasoning.

A Conversation Between Terry Eagleton and Roger Scruton

In Academia, Arts & Letters, Books, Britain, British Literature, Communication, Conservatism, Creativity, Fiction, History, Humanities, Liberalism, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Politics, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Scholarship, The Academy, Western Civilization on September 21, 2016 at 6:45 am

In 2012, the Royal Institution of Great Britain hosted Terry Eagleton and Roger Scruton for an evening of conversation and debate.  Here is the footage of that event:

“Illegal Litigation”: Excerpt from “I am the Raleigh,” by F. L. Light

In Arts & Letters, Britain, British Literature, Creative Writing, History, Humanities, Poetry, Writing on March 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

Fred Light

A Shakespearean proficiency in meter and rhetoric may to F L Light be ascribed. Nearly forty of his dramas are now available on Amazon, and twenty have been produced for Audible. His Gouldium is a series of twenty four dramas on the life and times of Jay Gould which he followed with six plays on Henry Clay Frick. The whole first book of his translation of The Iliad was published serially in Sonnetto Poesia. He has also appeared in Classical Outlook and The Raintown Review. Most of his thirty five books of couplets are on economics, such as Shakespeare Versus Keynes and Upwards to Emptiness the State Expands.

For his defense in this part of the play, Raleigh asserts that two witnesses are required for the charge of treason.

Raleigh:       The primacy in law is presence,
The testifying presence of a man
Where answers and rejoinders in a court
Proceed, procedurally set right in full
Protection of the truth. Not one but two
For treason are required. This case without
Accusers here illicit must become.
Illegal litigation the Attorney
General of England never should allow.
If no premeditated certitude
You mean in court, let my accusers come
Before me. The sheerest hearsay you assert
In court, if now unsifted inferences
Obtain without an oath, with no subscription,
Nothing demonstrable in testified
Exposure of the truth, simply enlarged
Upon a paper imputation by
A desperate man. How should unscrutinized
Reproaches credible remain unless
The Jesuit Inquisition you regard
As just? Were Cobham dead or gone abroad,
No case you’d have. But in this very house,
Winchester Castle, he abides. My lords,
Perpend how over-guessed assumptions are
Not rare in court, and lightless allegations,
Of darkling likelihood, have dazzled lawyers.
Why, Sir John Fortescue, of reverend estimation
As a Chief Justice in this realm, relates
How in his time a judge condemned a wife
At Salisbury for her husband’s death upon
Gratuitous prejudice to peasants or
On the suppositious sophistry of looks
Or likely baseness in the wife, whom one
Accuser had belied. But he that killed
Her husband was discovered after she
Was burned. The judge that had her die then told
Sir John the mordant penance of his mind
Would never pall in conscientious smart
With caustic memories. And you, Sir John
Popham, are too exultant in damnations
To regret my doom.

Popham:                   The damnedest imputations you
Deserve, far prouder to exalt prodition than
All traitors heretofore.

Raleigh:                      By fallible
Ferociousness your wisdom may default.
You’d proudly consummate your preconceptions.
And if you say the statutes I adduced
Before abide no longer in the courts,
Because religious mutability
Required removes, yet faultless equity
Remains in them, not failing reason. Now
Impartial exemplarity you lawyers find
In them, and for the common law they are
Considered sacred. Jurists never doubt
In Deuteronomy that one condemner shall
Not doom for his enormities a man,
But double attestations may suffice
Or triple for attesting treason to
A judge. There’s no dissentient scripture, old
Or new, thereon. Thus by the law of God
No men are immaterial nullities
In court. Untenable disgrace they need
Not suffer from one man.

Popham:                         Sir Walter Raleigh,
No statute you adduced can aid you now.
Those of Edward the Sixth no longer hold,
Too inconvenient for convictions, all
Repealed by Philip and Mary when their fires
Began. As the Chief Justice of this realm,
I know the common law’s commensurate
Extents to measure treason. Here in court
One requisite assertion that attests
To treason is enough. And, should one
Accomplice carry allegations how
The others were conjoined, that proof will hold.
But he that blames himself before he blames
Another cannot be denied in court,
For mouthed authority demonstrable.

Warburton: I muse, Sir Walter, measurably considerate
As you are, how you stretch yourself to stress
This point, for horse-thieves never could be judged
Thereby, requiring witnesses. By law
Upon deduced presumption we condemn
The guilty or on circumstantial presence
Or incidental revelation we
May judge events. Should regicidal gore
Not prove a swordsman guilty who had been
In covert presence with a king? He’d be
Too sanguinary for misjudgment, Sir.
No inquisition requisite therefore!

Raleigh: Yet by the common law, my lord, all trials
Of fact by juries and witnesses proceed.

Popham: No, sir, examination satisfies
The common law. Where traitors have confessed,
Redundant witnesses might not in court
Condemnatory tales unfold.

Raleigh:                                As you
Conceive the law therewith, I cannot grasp
The incongruity unknown to me.

Popham: Nay, Sir, the law is not conceived by us
But known in full.

Raleigh:                My lord, so how so laws
Suffice in process, here I suffer life
Or death thereby. Not with insufferable
Exorbitance should English rigor be
Enforced. At his asserted coronation
King James to nurture equity in England
And not fixed rigor force has sworn. And as
Benignant furtherance he would effect
In law, so should his ministers and judges no
Less happy prove.

Popham:               Procedural monarchy
Provides you equity. But our judicial course
Will be confined to justice.

Paul H. Fry on “Post-Colonial Criticism”

In Arts & Letters, Books, Britain, British Literature, Eastern Civilizaton, Fiction, Historicism, History, Humanities, Law, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Novels, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Politics, Rhetoric, Scholarship, Semiotics, Teaching, The Novel, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy on February 24, 2016 at 8:45 am

Below is the next installment in the lecture series on literary theory and criticism by Paul H. Fry. The previous lectures are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

 

Excerpt from “I am the Raleigh,” Part II, by F. L. Light

In Arts & Letters, Britain, British Literature, Creative Writing, Fiction, History, Humanities, Law, Literature, Poetry, Writing on February 3, 2016 at 8:45 am

Fred Light

A Shakespearean proficiency in meter and rhetoric may to F L Light be ascribed. Nearly forty of his dramas are now available on Amazon, and twenty have been produced for Audible. His Gouldium is a series of twenty four dramas on the life and times of Jay Gould which he followed with six plays on Henry Clay Frick. The whole first book of his translation of The Iliad was published serially in Sonnetto Poesia. He has also appeared in Classical Outlook and The Raintown Review. Most of his thirty five books of couplets are on economics, such as Shakespeare Versus Keynes and Upwards to Emptiness the State Expands.

The clerk has recited an affidavit by Lord Cobham, in which he blames Raleigh for the Main Plot. William Watson, a priest, was the chief inciter of the Bye Plot. Lord Popham is the presiding justice at this trial.

Raleigh, to deliver himself from Tyburn, where traitors were executed, holds forth as far as he can.

Raleigh: Now, candid jurymen, conduct yourselves
By equitable accuracy, measuring
Each side. Coke’s imputational omnipotence
In wholeness of assertion is in this
Pretentious affirmation put. He calls
This version evidential verity.
This either quails me or discomfiture undoes;
Either absolves my sufferance or means
In absolute privation my demise;
Either exalted exculpation offers
Or vagrant indigence provides my wife
And children. This may manifest a traitor
Or a devout trustee defectless to
His king. But let me see this testament
That I may answer with defensive doubt.

Popham: Sir Walter Raleigh may examine it.

Raleigh: A wakeful answer, vital likelihood
Providing, should evoke intelligence
In you. How Cobham, the accuser, came
To say this I’ll profess. The Privy Council would
With perceant queries penetrate if Cobham
And myself combined for Aremberg’s conditions
Or of the deadly priestliness in Watson were
Apprised or whether plotted discipline,
Designed for Lady Arabella, we
Suspected. Guiltless verities I gave
The Privy Council, in pronouncement free
From priests and clear of plots. But soon, when I
Came home, I wrote to Henry Lord Cobham how
I wondered whether Aremberg advised him,
Who years ago in Flanders with that Count
Conferred. And twice that summer, having supped
With us at Durham House, Lord Cobham could
Be seen into LaRenzi’s place advance,
Who is a scribal henchman of that Count.
This news was in my letter sent. But I
Was told by Robert Cecil not to speak
Of this because King James would not offend
The Count. So when Sir Robert showed this letter
To Lord Cobham, a combustion of defense
Possessed him. With inflamed recrimination
He flared against me, caustic charges in
His shouts concerting. But he ceased, incensed
No longer, blame renouncing as mere blab,
Who then assured Sir Robert to absolve me.
A circumstantial stretch you made of this,
Master Attorney, that Lord Cobham lacked
Inductive likelihood, a dunce belike
Mistaking him. But never infantile
Inertia shows him nerveless, who asserts
In settled firmness his sententious will.
Impassioned suppositions he pursues,
Disposed to see his purposes dispatched.
And now, forbearing sanity, you say
In your absurd acuity I would plot
With him, a man of unbefriended chariness
And unattractive thrift, with him when I
Resigned perforce the Cornwall Wardenship
Of Stannaries and was enforced to do
Laborious dispossession of my rights?
My lords, eccentric ignorance I have
Not nurtured. This monarchal island I
Perceived was never so defensible,
With Scotland a united fortress having.
All Ireland has relinquished enmity,
Not breaching acquiescence north or south.
Denmark accords, negating her excess
By sea, provoking jealousy for cod
No longer. Now the plainest Netherlands,
Resemblant neighbors to our realm, at peace
Remain. And here, no dubious hesitations in
A Queen we suffer, she whom time surprised
And age suppressed, for now a forward king
Advances our attention to demands,
Who may by rightful coronation reign.

Popham: Come, sir, digressive hesitations cease
In court.

Raleigh: Lord Popham, on the pointed mark
I’d realize accuracy in the court,
With equitable pertinence conveyed.
Now I unwarranted discomfiture
Would never bear and undeserved absurdities
Would hear no more. A devil-headed raver,
England’s secured circumference assailing,
They say I am, the basest Robin Hood of hell,
Or a Wat Tyler warrior taking arms
Or like Jack Cade to jounce the uppermost
Security of kings. But now the penniless defaults
Of Spain I know, where impecunious nothingness
Abounds, in moneyless exorbitance
Unfit for war. Discouraged sentiments
Deny King Philip all belligerent
Regards for England. Have we not six times
Distracted him, in Ireland thrice triumphant
And in naval valor never failing thrice,
Even at Cadiz to devastate his coast.
As Captain for the Queen four thousand pounds
Of substance from myself I’ve spent in war,
Three prevalent events procuring while
You slept in peace. Now six or seven ships
In ports remain for Philip, a diminishment
Of fifty sails, who alien argosies
Must hire for the Columbus lands. No more
By thirty million crowns he weighs himself,
In overspent expansiveness expiring.
The neediest royalty in Europe now
Denies the Jesuits monetary grace,
All miscreant mendicants to make of them.
The lowest of inverted lordliness
He is, by meekest reconcilement now
With England to abide, who in devout
Felicitations at the recent crowning
Rejoiced complaisance to our king avowed.
Therefore in Spanish hardship would this prince
Six hundred thousand to an Englishman
Deliver without pledged securities
Or gaged collateral in pawn? When Queen
Elizabeth to her allies in Holland lent
Profusely, liens on Brill and Flushing she
Obtained. Dieppe no less she had in pawn
When France had borrowed from her purse a sum
For battles. And assure you, many goldsmith
Moneyers in London would not lend to her
Without avouched collateral in land.
Then say, my lords, what costly likelihood
For six hundred thousand could myself
Or Cobham give in pledge to Spain, myself
By meanest deprivation out of place?
As paroxysmal as appassionate,
The hottest exemplarity in hate
Of Spain I’ve shown. Would I betray my own
Biography? Would I upturn the tenor
Uppermost in me? I am the Raleigh,
English royalty fending from the Pope.
I am the Raleigh, anglophilic rectitude
Presenting, protestant heroics fain
To prove. I am the anti-papal archetype
Of England. Untransmutable antipathy
To Spain defines me. Read Guiana. Read
My Treatise on the Force of Spain in Flanders,
Which to his Majesty I gave, if he’d
Consult a warrior.

Excerpt from “I am the Raleigh,” by F. L. Light

In Arts & Letters, Britain, British Literature, Criminal Law, Fiction, History, Humanities, Law, Literature, Theatre, Writing on December 9, 2015 at 8:45 am

Fred Light

A Shakespearean proficiency in meter and rhetoric may to F L Light be ascribed. Nearly forty of his dramas are now available on Amazon, and twenty have been produced for Audible. His Gouldium is a series of twenty four dramas on the life and times of Jay Gould which he followed with six plays on Henry Clay Frick. The whole first book of his translation of The Iliad was published serially in Sonnetto Poesia. He has also appeared in Classical Outlook and The Raintown Review. Most of his thirty five books of couplets are on economics, such as Shakespeare Versus Keynes and Upwards to Emptiness the State Expands.

In November, 1603, Sir Walter Raleigh was for treason put on trial. Those charged with treason were not allowed lawyers. The prosecutor is Edward Coke, Attorney General of England.

Wolvesley Castle in Winchester, where the chief judicial officers of England and many peers of the realm are gathered. Sergeant at Arms Yelverton comes forth.

Yelverton: You English, conscientious quietude
Abide. In mutest comprehension mark This Court. Let your acuity be quieted,
Judicious silence in this cause permitting. Now let the Keeper here at Castle Wolvesley
Conduct the prisoner, Sir Walter Raleigh,
Into the court.

Raleigh is ushered into the court by the Keeper.

Popham: Name the commissioned magistrates
For watchful jurisdiction of this court.

Yelverton: Yourself, the Lord Chief Justice, Master Justice
Gawdie, Master Justice Warburton, Robert
Lord Cecil, Edward Lord Wotton of Morley,
And Henry Lord Howard.

Popham:                          What is the professed
Indictment, Sergeant Yelverton?

Yelverton:                                  It is
Alleged Sir Walter Raleigh in comprised
Inclusion with a clique conceived
And counseled a conspiracy, resolved
The presence of the King be done away,
With common dispossession of the King’s
Propriety; and he, considering seditious seizures
Of the state, by factious infestations would
Revolt effect, who’d raise mutations in
Religion, irreligious primacy
In England prompting, and who’d summon to
This island the amassed misanthropy
Of Spain at arms or an invasive sway
From Scotland. It is further stated that
Lord Henry Cobham met at Durham House
On June the Ninth with Raleigh to procure
For Arabella Stuart the crown of England.
There Raleigh readied the corruption of
Lord Cobham, bidding him confer with Charles
De Ligne, the Count of Aremberg, to draw
Six hundred thousand crowns from him, a sum
For Arabella’s royalty by revolt.
Above this, should Aremberg’s superior,
The Archduke Albert of the Netherlands,
Not have that sum, then to the king of Spain
Should Cobham pass; that Arabella should
In written briefs to Albert and King Philip
And even Savoy’s enthroned administration
Pledge a constant reconcilement held
By London and Madrid, and she must swear
The Papacy’s adherents may persist
In alien ritual of un-English use,
And that her marriage be imagined, moved
And warranted by Philip of Madrid.
And this declarative indictment claims
That Cobham on that ninth of June apprised
George Brooke, his brother, of these plots, assured
Of sibling likelihood therein. And said
That England never glows with lucre till
All Jacobean propagations be
Undone with James, the cubs and bear together;
That a book was lent to Cobham, drawn
From Raleigh’s shelves, purporting that the king
No ancestral validation could assume
For kingship in this realm; that Cobham on
The seventeenth of June then messaged Aremberg
For money with LaRenzi as the messenger;
That on the next day Count Aremberg agreed
Upon six hundred thousand as the sum,
Whereof eight thousand were for Raleigh’s use,
And ten thousand would George Brooke receive.
At these outstanding imputations what
Is your plea?

Raleigh:      Not guilty, and I’ll put myself
Upon the country’s jurisdiction, fain
A jury of my peers may pass on me.

Yelverton: Would you assert a challenge to remove
Or question any jurors?

Raleigh:                          None of them
I know, but, as I sense appearances,
Forthright discrimination and direct
Discretion cannot be denied in them.
Faces of normal reason I regard
Among them, not afraid their rectitude
Will jar with mine. And as I know my plea
Is stainless, let this panel stand. I may
In confident indifference suffer them.
Yet here one wish you may accept as meet.
For you should know intense infirmities
Of late my readiness impair and leave
My memory faint. And thus the itemized
Indictment I would touch on and deny
By individual severalties, as they
Before the court come forth, or else I’ll not
Retain them till at last I may reply.

Coke: The evidential whole is stronger than
Her parts, and overwrought distinctions may
Disintegrate the rightful fullness we’ve
Embodied in this case. Distinguished parts,
When overstretched, constrained distortions put
Before us.

Raleigh:     Undivided evidence
Can hardly be reviewed by a refuter.

Popham: Let the defendant with each single charge
Contend in sequence. By the common law
Judicial consummations come of parts.

 

Balance and Imbalance in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India

In Arts & Letters, Books, Britain, British Literature, E.M. Forster, Eastern Civilizaton, Fiction, History, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Law-and-Literature, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Modernism, Western Civilization on November 11, 2015 at 8:45 am

Allen 2

E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India is in many ways about losing balance. Characters like Turton, Fielding, and Mrs. Moore represent centers of gravity, fixed between competing tensions and antagonistic binaries: reason and emotion, Indian and British, human and animal.

Situated between the nested oppositions, Turton, Fielding and Mrs. Moore denote compromised identity, the reconcilability of two cultures; as middle-markers they refuse rigid categorization and maintain symmetry in power relations. Instead of opening channels of communication and understanding, however, their mediating presence has tragic results: Turton goes crazy, Fielding loses hope and Mrs. Moore dies. These characters are necessary as fulcra; but when they align themselves with one binary or leave India altogether, they trouble the balance and stability of society writ large.

In a strictly separatist microcosm, they occupy the geometric center. When their positions shift, equilibrium breaks down: society becomes a mass of madness. The only go-between characters in the novel are English, suggesting that the story is a mirror held up to placate white guilt.

The demise of these characters in particular, and of Anglo-Indian relations generally, turns on the overarching, structural antinomy between reason and emotion that comes to a head during the abortive kangaroo trial. An interrogation of this antinomy and its collapse into muddledom reveals how law and justice in Chandrapore bear a systematic and determinative relation to race and gender.

The above text is adapted from an excerpt of my essay “‘Mass of Madness’: Jurisprudence in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India,” published in Modernist Cultures, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2011). To view the full essay, you may download it here at SSRN or visit the website of Modernist Cultures.

“Raleigh and Spenser, 1580,” by F L Light

In Arts & Letters, Britain, British Literature, Creative Writing, History, Humanities, Literature, Writing on September 23, 2015 at 8:45 am

Fred Light

A Shakespearean proficiency in meter and rhetoric may to F L Light be ascribed. Nearly forty of his dramas are now available on Amazon, and twenty have been produced for Audible. His Gouldium is a series of twenty four dramas on the life and times of Jay Gould which he followed with six plays on Henry Clay Frick. The whole first book of his translation of The Iliad was published serially in Sonnetto Poesia. He has also appeared in Classical Outlook and The Raintown Review. Most of his thirty five books of couplets are on economics, such as Shakespeare Versus Keynes and Upwards to Emptiness the State Expands.

This scene (from a work in progress) occurs after the Battle of Glenmalure in County Wicklow, Ireland, where the English suffered a strong defeat. Edmund Spenser was secretary to Lord Grey, the English general at that battle. Raleigh and Spenser were later to become neighbors in Munster. Spenser had vexed Queen Elizabeth when he sought to dissuade her from marriage to the Duke of Alençon in The Shepherds’ Calendar.

Dublin Castle. Enter Sir Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser.

Raleigh: The Phoenix re-inflames herself to stand
Alive. Like her we can re-spring ourselves
And spread our advents forth. Re-mustered loyalty
Can be enlarged. In multiplied aggression
We may go forth erelong. They’ve not undone
Regeneration nor defeated fatherly
Revival of our cause. In myriad dominance
Amain we’ll march again and recommence
Composure in this land. Colonial neighborhoods
Of Perikles in fertilized profundity
May lettered conscientiousness assert.
This island of untutored emptiness
Oxonian literacy should accept
Or Cantabrigian dogma comprehend.
No feudal diffidence in reason nor
Despotic fairyland we Englishmen
Profess. The fairest possibilities
Of free endeavors should in husbandry
Not pall on Ireland.

Spenser: If recoveries
Refresh mortality for us, then all
Of Desmond’s Munster is dispropertied
And shall in efficacious forfeiture
To Lord Grey’s officers be meted out.

Raleigh: Incentive victory therefore may as
The greediest of attainments comfort us.
Now for the landed fortune of a lord
I’d follow my triumphant appetite
And trust emotional inclemency
For gain.

Spenser: A magnate’s animosity
For main extents you mean, in deep intent
On money.

Raleigh: Gainful joyance is no jape
For me. To my increaseful happiness,
Disposed like Croesus, I would magnify
My dirt.

Spenser: The fertile presence of your voice
In Munster would immortal lucre breed.
But the uncivilized delusions seen
Among the people there no peaceable
Facilities permit.

Raleigh: That profit is
The flow where life proceeds in grace the folk
Of Ireland will perceive. Your fluency,
In clarion inculcation, should be clear
Enough for that. Unguarded politics
Allow the Queen. You should political
Decorum to consultants in the court
Concede. On lucrative georgics, not
Upon her Majesty’s conclusiveness
In marriage, should your verses touch.

Spenser: Therefore
On spacious tilth for capital I should,
Sir Walter, songful eloquence enlarge?

Raleigh: I say proprietary sapience may
The most unsoftened pulchritude confirm
In poetry. The unmitigated tone
Of merchantry for English metre would
Be fit. Commercial intonations may
The strongest likelihood for music hold.
Singing your sagaciousness on seeds
For money, you would planters multiply
For Munster’s plenitude of various means.

Spenser: Now that convulsive wilderness consumedly
Has waned. Delinquent emptiness is left
In Munster, where abandoned decadence
Abides in death. Of starved disorder few
Survive. The naked likelihood of misery
Upon fulfilled oppression is avowed.
Now warfare to inflammable extremes,
Infesting Ireland, intervenient fire
On Desmond’s land inflicts.

Raleigh: But after war
The inflammation of vitality
We shall for savant juvenescence light
In Ireland. Verdant exploitation I’d
Advise and greenest diligence for growth.

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