Sh, Earl, Jesuit


Oxquarry Books


Acknowledgments Introduction








Bibliography  Index   


John Klause



There are many anachronisms in Shakespeare’s Lucrece. Some of them transport the world of medieval heraldry and knighthood into antique Rome (64, 1694-7). Others place general Christian doctrines like “Grace” and the Last Judgment in a pagan context (712, 924). Still others lend a particularly Catholic slant to ancient Roman religion, introducing into it palmers and pilgrimages (791), saints, shrines, and incense (85, 194), and the sacrament of Penance (“the blackest sin is clear’d with absolution” [354]). Some of these (surely deliberate) historical solecisms become less puzzling when, like the mention of Catholic beliefs and practices in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, they are read as meant for a particular audience. Shakespeare composed Lucrece in 1593 or 1594 for Henry Wriothesley, whose sympathetic ties to the Old Faith in which he was first raised were to persist into King James’s reign.[1] “Incense” and “absolution” were as much a part of Shakespeare’s indirect address to his patron as was his paraphrastic translation of Southampton’s motto (Ung par tout, et tout par ung) in a line spoken by the poem’s moralizing narrator: “one for all, or all for one, we gage” (Lucrece, 144).[2]

That Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as has been suggested, with special reference to the wedding of Southampton’s mother in 1594 and with special meaning for Southamtpon himself might help to explain why, despite radical differences in genre and tone between poem and play, they share language and imagery. The two works were almost contiguous in the author’s mind. We have seen, however, that Shakespeare’s memory could reach across years for its associations. Linguistic parallels do not always confirm chronology, nor does chronology always provide reasons for parallelism. There is another explanation for the correspondences between the texts, one for which the previous chapter has established the ground.

Theseus’s remarks on the tricks played by imagination--“in the night . . .  / How easy is a bush suppos’d a bear” (5.1.21-2)--is echoed in Lucrece’s complaint against “Opportunity” and “Time”:

Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright,
And the dire thought of his committed evil
Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.

Both works refer to the sinful soul as “spotted” (MND 1.1.110; Luc 721, 1172); both use metaphors of “misgrafting” (MND 1,1,137; Luc 1558) and the rare Shakespearean words “cranny” and “gleam” (MND 3.1.70, 5.1.158, 163; Luc 310, 1086; MND 5.1.274; Luc 1378);[3] both invoke the concept of discordia concors (MND 5.1.60; Luc 1558); and both create word play out of a common antithesis: “A tedious brief scene” (MND 5.1.56); “My woes are tedious, though my words are brief” (Luc 1309). Theseus’s tongue-tied “clerks”


                                    shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practic’d accent in their fears. . . .

They resemble Lucrece in more than one of her difficulties with speech:

Her modest eloquence with sighs is mixed
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
She puts the period often from his place,
And midst the sentence . . . her accent breaks. . . .
But more than “he” her poor tongue would not speak,
Till after many accents and delays,
Untimely breathings, sick and short assays. . . .

We have noted the blessing given by Oberon in which he wards off “the blots of nature’s hand” from the married couples’ future “issue”:

Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be

It is closely paralleled in Lucrece’s prophecy of the shame that Tarquin’s children would suffer if he should violate her:

The blemish . . . will never be forgot,
Worse than a slavish wipe, or birth-hour’s blot,
For marks descried in men’s nativity
Are nature’s faults, not their own infamy.

For each of these instances in which Shakespeare comes close to repeating himself from one work to the other, there is a passage in Southwell’s writing that may suggest itself as a source or imaginative catalyst, the Jesuit’s words and notions apparently serving as a link between poem and play. Such are Southwell’s references to “natures blots,” to filial scars, wens, and warts and their Shakespearean mutations. We have seen a precedent for Shakespeare’s descriptions of trembling, tongue-tied oratory in Marie Magdalens Funeral Teares, and for his characterization of deceptive, bush-transforming imagination in Saint Peters Complaint. Southwell writes also of the “spotted soul,” misgrafting, “crannies,” discordia concors, and the relief from tediousness by brevity.[4] He writes, in fact, so much that has gone into the making of Lucrece that, as with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the affiliations ought to be examined in detail for their significance.

Lucrece herself appears in The Epistle of Comfort, her suicide described in terms that Shakespeare saw fit to adopt: “Lucretia,” observes  Southwell, “sheathed her knife in her owne bowels to renoune her chastitye” (126v); and he is followed by the poet: “she sheathed in her harmless breast / A harmful knife that thence her soul unsheathed” (1723-4; cf. R&J 5.3.170). Neither the word “sheathed” nor a Latin equivalent is used in any source of Lucretia’s story on which Shakespeare’s passage relies. In Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller, the matron Heraclide, who is like Lucrece a victim of rape, commits suicide after addressing her dagger: “Point, pierce, enwiden, patiently I afford thee a sheath.”[5] It is less likely, however, that Shakespeare was here thinking of Nashe’s tale (both works were published in 1594 and dedicated to Southampton, and one writer might have seen the other’s manuscript) than that Nashe was burlesquing Shakespeare’s poem, or, since it is probable that Nashe had read the Epistle of Comfort,[6] that both were recalling the same text. It is Shakespeare, after all, who like Southwell attributes the “sheathing” to Lucrece; and the poem’s extensive debt to Southwell in other respects will tend to confirm his influence in this case.

It has long but not widely been suspected that Lucrece owes something to Southwell’s Saint Peters Complaint.[7] That Shakespeare should have consulted such a poem for help in writing the extended passages of “complaint” that appear in his own work is not an improbable idea. Southwell’s manuscript was in circulation before the publication of Samuel Daniel’s Rosamond (1592), which is supposed to have reestablished a vogue for this form in the ’90s and of which Shakespeare made considerable use.[8] Commentators have pointed to similar features of style in Lucrece and Southwell’s Complaint--”similar antitheses and apostrophes . . . , a common store of similes”[9]--but have determined that these “only prove that there was a common poetic currency in circulation at the time.”[10] Critics inclined to discern “influence” upon one poet by another lend more weight to evidence of “a shared theme and approach.”[11] This “theme” upon which Lucrece and the Complaint agree is said to be the anatomy of “sin.”[12] While not in itself vague, this notion is so generally Christian, even when conveyed as in Southwell and Shakespeare through a specific metaphor like the defilement of a temple-like soul or body (Luc 719, 1172; SPC, 631-3) that in either poem it may point to no other source than St. Paul: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God . . . ? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost . . . ?” (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19). It is in fact the verbal obligation of Shakespeare’s poem to Southwell’s, the extent of which has never been appreciated, that more certainly demonstrates influence; and although Shakespeare’s themes may arise out of Southwell’s, they are complicated in ways that the Jesuit would not have entirely appreciated.

The number of echoes of Saint Peters Complaint in Lucrece is much too large to allow anything like a complete list of them. The following set of comparisons, however, will give a sense of how retentive Shakespeare’s memory was when he read Southwell’s poem:


                        SPC                                                                 Lucrece
3:                                                                         740:
with guilty feares                                                 with guilty fear
                                                                             [Sw’s and Ss’s are the first two uses of
                                                                              this rare expression (Chadwyck-Healey)]

5:                                                                          279:
Remorse, the Pilot                                                Desire my pilot is
6-9:                                                                       966:
Shipwracke . . .  / Shun not the shelfe . . . /           I could prevent this storm, and shun                     
Sticke in the sandes / . . . stormes                          thy wrack; 317: sticks; 335: shelves and
13:                                                                        1040:
Give vent unto the vapours of thy brest,               To make more vent for passage of her
That thicken                                                          breath; 782: let thy misty vapours march
                                                                             so thick
15:                                                                        846-49:
Where sinne was hatchd, let teares now wash       O unlook’d for evil . . . / . . . Why
    the nest                                                             should . . . hateful   cuckoos hatch in
                                                                                 sparrow’s nests?
18:                                                                        1172:
thy spotted soule in weeping dewe                        Her sacred temple spotted; 1829: In . . . dew
                                                                             of lamentations
20-2:                                                                     40-41:
conscience . . . sting                                             sting / His . . . thoughts
23:                                                                        1141:
hartes that languish                                              tune our heart-strings to true languishment
26:                                                                        798:
The monument of feare, the map of shame            monuments of . . . moans; 402: the map of
28:                                                                        1638:
the infamy of fame                                                My fame, and thy perpetual infamy
50:                                                                        351:
I left my guide . . . leaving God                             Then Love and Fortune be my gods, my guide!
57:                                                                        158:
What trust to one, that truth it selfe defied?            Then where is truth, if there be no  self-trust?
69:                                                                        603:
Soone sowing shames                                           How will thy shame be seeded . . . ?
70-1:                                                                     767:
Nurcing with teares . . . , / . . . harbinger                nurse of blame
  of blame

85:                                                                        867:
sowers [n.]                                                            sours [n., the only instance in Ss]
87-9:                                                                     690:
loosing monethes and yeares to gaine new              This momentary joy breeds months of pain
  howers / . . . a moment, all thou hast
91-3:                                                                     1151:
the maze of countlesse straying wayes                    one encompass’d with a winding maze
. . . / . . . To winde weake senses
97:                                                                        19:
could I rate so high . . . ?                                     Reck’ning his fortune at such high proud rate
103-6:                                                                   657-58:
The mother sea from overflowing deepes,              Thy sea within a puddle’s womb is hearsed
Sendes foorth her issue by divided vaines:               And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed; 649-
Yet back her offspring to their mother creepes        51: The petty streams that pay a daily debt /
To pay their purest streames with added gaines   To their salt sovereign . . . , / Add to his flow
108:                                                                      577:
Bemyred the giver with returning mud                 Mud not the fountain that gave drink to thee
122:                                                                      762:
Whose speeches voyded spight, and                       thus breathes she forth her spite;
breathed gall                                                        889:    gall
150:                                                                      315:
A puffe of womans wind                                      Puffs forth another wind
155:                                                                      Dedication:
but one moietie                                                    but a superfluous Moity
166-7:                                                                   1330-35:
            a maidens easie breath                             being blown with wind of words . . . /
Did blow me down and blastmy soule                        . . .
      to death                                                                   blast
175:                                                                      849:
Fidelitie was flowne when feare was hatched,        hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows’ nests
Incompatible brood in vertues nest
200-8:                                                                   709-10:
with feeble foote . . . sinnes soft stealing pace      With . . . strengthless pace, Feeble Desire
232-7:                                                                   907:
infecting all resort . . . evill advise                        Advice is sporting while infection breeds
236:                                                                      268:
Dumme Orator                                                     All orators are dumb
242-3:                                                                   928:
the sinne: / Coatch drawne with many horse          sin’s pack-horse
289:                                                                      1014:
Small gnats                                                           Gnats are unnoted
303:                                                                      1614:
with semblance of excuse my errour guild            no excuse can give the fault a mending
314:                                                                      1338:
two homely droyles [i.e., servants]                         The homely villain [a servant]
327:                                                                      435:
[eyes’] chearing raies                                           cheers his burning eye
343-44:                                                                  618:
have I sweet lessons read, / In those deare             Must he in thee read lectures of such shame?
eies the registers of truth                                       765: register . . . of shame
346:                                                                      1603:
redress’d thy ruth                                                 tell thy grief, that we may give redress
366:                                                                      1115:
sweet are crums where pined thoughts                 He ten times pines that pines beholding food
            do starve;                                                  
It dies for drought yet had a spring in sight
368-70:                                                                  1455-58:
shadowed things . . . / . . . by being shap’d in         the spring that those . . . pipes have fed,
those life giving springs [i.e., eyes]                         On this sad shadow Lucrece spends her eyes
                                                                             And shapes her sorrow
372:                                                                      719:
in my selfe whom sinne and shame defac’d;           his soul’s fair temple is defac’d
632: templed
378-81:                                                                  1116-19:
You seeing, salve . . .  banks                                To see the salve . . . banks
441-2, 450:                                                            1076-78:
Thy eyes . . .  / To make my heart gush out a         My eyes . . . Shall gush pure streams to
 weeping loode. . . . purgde                                   purge
                                                                             [only instance of “gush” in Ss]
451:                                                                      1611-12:
Like solest Swan that swimmes in silent deepe,          this pale swan in her watery nest
And never sings but obsequies of death                Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending
470-7:                                                                   1061-64:
Ill gotten impes . . . probates of infringed lawes    infringed oath; / This bastard graff . . .
. . . Bring forth the fruite                                       father of his fruit
480:                                                                      872:
Sinne did all grace of riper groth devour              What virtue breeds iniquity devours
483-6:                                                                   836-40:
Shed on your hony drops you busie bees . . . ,        My honey lost, and I, a drone-like bee . . . .
Hornets I hyve, salt drops their labour plies,           In thy weak hive a wand’ring wasp hath crept,
  Suckt out of sinne                                               And suck’d the honey which thy chaste bee kept
515-16:                                                                 1249-52:
what cave . . . can conceale                                 In men . . . remain / Cave-keeping evils
My monstrous fact                                                . . . men can cover crimes
531-4:                                                                   813:
[for] her child . . . A mothers love . . .                   The nurse, to still her child
is hardly stild
552-562:                                                               71:
warre . . . Sweet Roses mixt with Lillies               Their silent war of lilies and of roses
580:                                                                      1396:
Or write my inward feeling in my face                  The face of either cipher’d either’s heart
385: cyphered                                                       [only instance of “cipher’d” in Ss]
584:                                                                      799:
reeking hellish steeme                                          foul reeking smoke
618:                                                                      664-5:
Our Cedar now is shrunke into a shrub                The cedar stoops not to the base shrub’s foot,
                                                                            But low shrubs wither at the cedar’s root
633-5:                                                                   719, 723:
But sinne, his temple hath to ruine brought            his soul’s fair temple is defaced . . . .
. . . . unconsecrate                                                   consecrated
636-41:                                                                 847:
Profaned  wretch . . . Ah sinne . . .                       When virtue is profan’d in such a devil
That . . .  Angels turnes to Divells
663:                                                                      160:
till I my selfe confounded                                      When he himself himself confounds
668-70:                                                                                    597:
borrowing lying shapes to maske thy face . . .      Hast thou put on his shape to do him shame?
A cunning dearly bought with losse of grace         794: mask their brows and hide their infamy;
                                                                           749: To cloak offenses with a cunning brow
680:                                                                      807:
All thinges Characters are to spell my fall            The light will show, character’d in my brow,
                                                                           The story of sweet chastity’s decay
686-88:                                                                 131:
paines . . . trafficke by retayle:                              Despair to gain doth traffic oft for gaining
Making each others miseries their gaines
691:                                                                      1111:
Pleasd with displeasing lot                                  Grief best is pleas’d with grief’s society
715-16:                                                                  900:
prisoner . . . Chain’d . . .                                      free that soul which wretchedness hath
Till grace vouchsafing captive soule to bayle           chained;
                                                                             1725-6: did bail [her soul] from the deep
                                                                                 unrest / Of that polluted prison
727-31:                                                                 769:
[Sleepe,] whisperer of dreames                             [O Night,] whisp’ring conspirator
Creating straunge chymeraes. . . :                         450-1: From forth dull sleep by dreadful
. . . giving fansie theames,                                       fancy waking, / That thinks she hath beheld
To make dumme shewes with worlds of                                    some ghastly sprite. . . .
     anticke sightes:                                              474: he by dumb demeanor seeks to show
Casting true griefes in fansies forging mold          458-60: there appears / Quick-shifting antics
                                                                             . . . : / Such shadows are the weak brain’s
759-60:                                                                1248:
A worthlesse worme . . . may . . .  /                      the little worms that creep
. . . lowly creepe
759:                                                                     1399-1400:
some milde regard                                              mild glance . . . deep regard
769:                                                                     683-4:
Prone looke, crost armes                                     modest eyes . . . prone lust;
                                                                           793: cross their arms


To use a metaphor common to both poets, Shakespeare has “suck’d” the essence of Southwell’s poetic language, recombining the ingredients to produce a new confection. One of his reasons for such an intensive reading of the Complaint may have been that he considered Saint Peter’s lengthy, operatic examination of conscience a promising model for Tarquin’s failed mental attempt at moral rectitude and for Lucrece’s tormented meditations. Daniel’s Rosamond was in some ways too temperate a precedent. Southwell’s poem, unlike Lucrece, has little narrative interest, lacks the complication of a narrator-commentator whose point of view cannot always be trusted, and is as much a study of repentance, which is not an issue in Lucrece, as of remorse. Yet Peter luxuriates in the psychological depths of conscience, even to a desire for death (SPC, 83), and in ways that show heroines of the complaint tradition like Jane Shore or Rosamond to be by his baroque standard insensitive and superficial. Shakespeare would not have missed the opportunities latent in the Saint’s example. He made Roman Lucrece an “earthly saint” adored and violated by the “devil” Tarquin (Luc, 85), giving both characters plausible if extreme psychic life, and a rhetoric to match.

In a typical passage, Peter apostrophizes “sinne” with a host of appositives:
Ah sinne, the nothing that doth all things file:
Outcast from heauen, earthes curse, the cause of hell:
Parent of death . . . .
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
Shot, without noyse: wound without present smart:
First, seeming light; proving in fyne a load,
Entring with ease, not easily wonne to parte. . . .
                                                                        (SPC, 637-51)


Lucrece’s complaint to “Night” is similar in form:

O comfort-killing Night, image of hell!
Dim register and notary of shame!
Black stage for tragedies and murders fell,
Vast sin-concealing chaos! nurse of blame!
Blind muffled bawd! dark harbour for defame,
Grim cave of death! whispering conspirator
With close-tongued treason and the ravisher!
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
O unseen shame! invisible disgrace!
O unfelt sore! crest-wounding, private scar!
                                                                                                (Luc, 764-70, 827-28)


This rhetorical form was commonplace in complaint literature; but Shakespeare filled his template with Southwell’s content: not simply with the general notion of guilt as “invisible disgrace . . . , unfelt sore” (cf. Southwell’s “wound without present smart” [SPC, 649]), and hackneyed thoughts of “sin,” “hell,” and “death,”  but with specific words and images brought together from different parts of Saint Peter’s Complaint. Peter’s “registers of truth” (SPC, 344) turn into Lucrece’s “register . . . of shame”; “Nurcing with teares . . . , harbinger of blame: Treasons to wisedom” (language from Peter’s aprostrophe to “rashnesse” [SPC, 67-72]) shades into “nurse of blame . . . harbor for defame . . . treason”; the “cave” that, as Peter knows, cannot conceal sin (515-16) suggests the analogy of Night to the “Grim cave of death” where sin is punished; and Peter’s “sleepe,” the lying “whisperer of dreames” (SPC, 727), does its work at night, which is Lucrece’s “whispering conspirator.”

It was not just from Southwell’s Peter, however, that Shakespeare derived inspiration. In the Jesuit’s writings a number of other “saints” speak in the mode of complaint, some briefly, others at considerable length; and they too have left their mark on Lucrece:  a repentant King David, for instance (in “Davids Peccavi”); Joseph, the perplexed husband of Mary in “Josephs Amazement”; the Virgin Mary herself in her sorrowful address “To Christ on the Crosse” and in her “Complaint . . . having lost her Sonne in Jerusalem.” After Saint Peter, the most voluble of Southwell’s complaining saints is Mary Magdalen, a heroine who (though not a model of perpetual chastity) shares with her Roman counterpart an absolute and self-denying attachment to her “Lord,” deep stores of articulate grief, a sovereign disdain for her own life, and considerable powers of argument. Marie Magdalens Funeral Teares appears to have sat prominently in the “book and volume” of Shakespeare’s “brain” as he wrote of a woman whose “weakness” would turn out to be stronger than the “strength” of men. There are numerous verbal parallels between this work and Lucrece.[13] Indeed, Shakespeare’s poem is rich in such correspondences with many of Southwell’s lyrics and with his prose.[14] The most significant inter-textual dialogue between Lucrece and Southwell’s controversial writing begins with the Jesuit’s handbook for martyrs, The Epistle of Comfort.

To Shakespeare’s poem the Epistle has contributed a clutch of expressions--some of them merely residues of memory, and others more significant in that they suggest reasons for Shakespeare’s immersion in the writings of an outlaw priest whose unflinching adherence to principle put him in the way of martyrdom, which inevitably found him. The first kind of recollection is reflected in such parallels as these (many more could be added), based on passages found rather close together in Southwell’s book:

                    Epistle                                                              Lucrece
63r:                                                                        719-23:
battering downe the walles, the defacinge of         his soul’s fair temple is defaced,
of . . . the temple                                                    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
                                                                              batter’d down her consecrated wall
67r-v:                                                                      1042:
consumed . . . Ætna . . . smoake . . . ayre              As smoke from Aetna, that in air consumes
67v:                                                                        592:
the very rockes . . . dissolved                                For stones dissolv’d to water do convert
72r:                                                                        777:
 a huge Chaos [is hell]                                           Vast sin-concealing chaos
74v:                                                                       703-4:
he shall vomitt out the riches which he hath             Drunken Desire must vomit his receipt
devoured . . . abhominable; 73r: dronckerdes;       Ere he can see his own abomination
55v: receyte
75v:                                                                        725-6, 731:
 ther death ever liveth . . . alwayes healed to         thrall / To living death
be new wounded                                                    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
                                                                              the wound that nothing healeth
82v:                                                                        335-6:
Pirates sett lightes in the shallow places,                 rocks, high winds, strong pirates, shelves         and hidden rockes                                                               and sands
86v:                                                                        Argument 45:
changes of the state of Rome, from . . .                  the state government changed from kings
Kinges . . . to Consuls                                            to consuls

In considering such parallels, we might observe that Shakespeare has assimilated language from Southwell in a number of different ways. Since the Jesuit often repeats himself, it is likely that mere iteration would lodge certain expressions in his reader’s acutely receptive mind: as “double death” (in “Life is but losse,” 24; Funeral Teares, 33v; EC, 33r ), leading to “double death” in Lucrece, 1114; or,  “Remorse, the Pilot,” “Christ for your Pilott,” (SPC, 5; EC, 96v), anticipating “Desire my pilot” in Lucrece, 279). Sometimes Shakespeare’s language combines (for reasons that only imagination can “know” or chance “explain”) elements derived from different parts of his Southwellian “sources”: “the dead of night, / When. . .  / No comfortable star did lend his light” (Lucrece, 162-4) may derive, for example, both from the Funeral Teares’ “no star of hope” (58v, with “comfortable” appearing a few pages later) and the Epistle of Comfort’s “in the darke, and mistye night, every light . . . is comfortable” (3v). There are also occasions on which Shakespeare’s recollection of Southwell intrudes upon his use of another source. A good example lies at the end of the prose “Argument” prefatory to Lucrece, when, in following his classical sources, Shakespeare (and the writer of the Argument does seem to be the poet, not an editor)[15] observes that after the banishment of the Tarquins, “the state government changed from kings to consuls.” Of these sources, the closest in wording to Shakespeare’s version is that of Painter, who translated Livy thus: “The raigne of the kings from the first foundation of the Citie continued CCXLIV yeares. After which governmente two Consuls were appointed. . . .”[16] Although in The Epistle of Comfort Southwell’s description of the same political phenomenon was only obliquely related to his main point about the nobility of the cause for which a martyr suffers, his language is closer to Shakespeare’s than is Painter’s: “changes of the state of Rome, from . . . Kinges . . . to Consuls” (86v). It is conceivable that Shakespeare at times made special note of certain images used by Southwell, taking them over for his own ends because he considered them simply “striking.” Perhaps that is why he had Lucrece refer to her body as “bark . . .pill’d away” from her soul (1169), inspired by Southwell’s reference to the human body as the “bark and rind of a man” (Epistle unto his Father, 6) and his description of a tempest that peeled away even the “barke of trees” (EC, 66r; see also “Loves Garden grief,” 19-21). And there were times when Shakespeare seemed to mark out (at least mentally) a whole passage that was ripe for conceptual if not verbal appropriation (cf. EC, 147v-48r [with Funeral Teares, A8r] and Lucrece, 204-110).[17] But on the whole, the vast obligation of one poet to the other can hardly be explained by attempts to find occasions or purposes for every local example of it. Shakespeare did not “go” to Southwell’s works for help in appareling the child of his invention. Lucrece was already within them, waiting to be born, impatient, even for delivery.

The truth of this claim will be understood in attending to a second kind of presence of the Epistle of Comfort in Shakespeare’s poem, the language of sacrifice and martyrdom that helped to make Lucrece the “graver labor” promised to the earl of Southampton in the dedication to Venus and Adonis. One reason why Lucrece is more “serious” than its predecessor is that religious issues lie more conspicuously at the center of the poet’s concern; Southampton’s religious crisis is more directly acknowledged and spoken to, and in a way that more searchingly explores its depths. Shakespeare again makes use of Southwell to suggest the challenges faced by the young Catholic nobleman, whose religious position, already described in some detail, must now be elaborated on.

A biographer of Southampton, noting the remark of a contemporary of the earl that the peer “carried his business closely and slily,” has found “little reason to doubt that Southampton had early learned to banish candour from certain regions of his life.”[18] One of those “regions” was certainly religion, about which Tudor and Stuart governments forced many of their subjects to be silent or to dissemble. It is wholly natural, then, to find evasiveness in the answer that Southampton, when on trial for his part in the Essex conspiracy, gave to Attorney-General Coke, who had charged him with being a “papist”: “where as you charge me to be a Papist, I protest most unfainedly that I was never conversant with any of that sort only I knew one [Wright] a Priest of that sort that went up and dowen the towen but I never conversed with him in all my lief.”[19] The earl does not directly answer the charge, the gist of his answer being only that he is no party to Catholic plots--as might be undertaken by “papists” in a narrowly defined sense.[20] No one at the trial was unaware of his family’s deep and in some cases continuing loyalty to Catholicism. Some were aware that he had, in fact, known more of Thomas Wright than he let on. Wright was a former Jesuit who in 1595 had come to England as a secular priest under the protection of Essex (and much against the wishes of Burghley), proposing that Catholics consistently submit to the government and unite in opposition to Spain in return for the freedom to practice their religion.[21] He was more than once the guest of Essex; and if Southampton never “conversed” with Wright (who dedicated the 1604 edition of his treatise The Passions of the Mind to Southampton), he must have been privy to the exchanges that the priest had had with his host. Essex attracted to himself many Catholic followers by holding out to them the prospect of toleration. Southampton himself may have shared that hope.

According to G. P. V. Akrigg, however, Southampton did not need the benefits of toleration, at least for himself. The biographer surmised that the young earl was already on his way to Protestantism while at Cambridge (1585-9), and that he hid his altered convictions from his Catholic relations and friends for as long as he could.[22] Akrigg emphasized that Southampton publicly denied “papist” connections at his trial in 1601, and that in 1604 he was actually the recipient of recusancy fines, ostensibly deriving financial benefit from the very penal statutes under which his father had suffered. There is, however, no substantial evidence about Wriothesley’s beliefs, religious or otherwise, while he was at Cambridge.[23] His public disavowal of papistry was hardly unequivocal. And his biographers have failed to see that he probably collected the recusancy fines in order to return them. Among the recusants “granted” to Southampton were William Copley, John Shelley, and Edward Gage of Bentley.[24] Gage, an attorney, had been close to the second earl, who had made him an executor of his will, and had in fact played a major role not only in untangling the perplexities of the late earl’s estate, but in resolving the younger Wriothesley’s financial difficulties.[25] The three recusants were themselves kinsmen (and all of them kinsmen of Robert Southwell) and were through various marriages related to Southampton.[26] Since it is known that at least on two occasions Southampton took nominal possession of the forfeited estates of Catholic families to protect them from the law’s depredations,[27] it is quite likely that he played in these cases the same kind of game with the fines.[28] It is true that he finally conformed (and probably from an early date) to the laws of church attendance (even his mother had disapproved of his youthful non-conformity in this matter)[29] and accepted other ecclesiastical requirements of the state church. As a young man he took arms against Catholic Spain, on the “Islands Voyage” of 1597, and in his middle and later years favored a “Protestant” foreign policy for the Continent (as, in fact, did many nationalistic Catholic Englishmen).[30] An early eighteenth-century witness reported that Southampton had been “converted from Popery” by Sir Edwin Sandys in King James’s reign.[31] Yet early in 1605, “above two hundredeth [sic] pounds worth of popish bookes” were “taken about Southampton house and burned in Poules Churchyard.”[32]  At about this time the earl seems to have been involved with his brother-in-law Thomas Arundel in a scheme to establish a colony in America that would serve as a refuge for English Catholics.[33] In 1606, a minister was jailed for “unfitting speeches about Southampton”--speeches which probably complained of the earl’s Catholic sympathies.[34] In 1613, a recusant named John Cotton, who lived in one of Southampton’s manors in Hampshire, was suspected of having written a pamphlet, Balaam’s Ass, that called King James the Antichrist. When a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of treason, he fled for asylum to Southampton House, where many “of Cotton’s co-religionists were still to be found.”[35] The earl could hardly do anything but turn him in to the authorities, and Cotton spent six years in the Tower before being acquitted. At the time of his arrest, Cotton gave his age as fifty-three years.[36] It seems probable that this was the same John Cotton who left England in 1576 for a Jesuit school in Belgium in the company of his kinsman and coeval Robert Southwell, for he identified himself at the time of his surrender as having been “at Douai,” and that his “kinsman, Mr. Anthony Copley” (Southwell’s cousin) had told him of Balaam’s Ass.[37] (This Cotton, then, would have been a son of George Cotton, cousin of Bridget Copley, Robert’s mother, and related to Southampton through the Gages.)[38] John returned from the Continent to become a “country squire”; Robert became a Jesuit and slipped into England using the alias “Mr. Cotton.”[39]

In his “closeness” and “slyness,” then, Southampton lived for a long time in divided worlds; he could not and clearly did not wish to sever his attachments to his Catholic family and acquaintances after accommodating himself, whether out of conviction or prudent calculation, to Protestant principalities and powers. But this conclusion is hardly momentous. It does not suggest whether or how his conscience played a role in decisions and actions. Because of his taciturnity on religious subjects, the soundings taken of his religious mind have always been, by necessity, rudimentary and shallow; and so perhaps they will forever remain. These explorations should not be left where they have rested, however, without considering that a most “Catholic” poem, Lucrece, lifted for him by his poet out of the thought-world of a Jesuit, has much to say about the principles that a man of sensitive mind, entering a new phase of his life, may have faced in deciding whether to be, or not to be, what the heroine of the poem calls herself: a martyr (802).

In 1594, when Lucrece was published, priests were still, according to government reports, lodging and gathering in and near Southampton House;[40] but the dangers to Catholics from government persecution seemed destined to become ever more severe. Parliament in the previous year had taken up, at the insistence of the government, a bill that, as it affected the recusant laity, “exceeded in its ferocity all previous anti-Catholic laws.”[41] The intention was to add new punishments to the already heavy fines for recusancy (twenty pounds for each four-week period) and to create new capital penalties for such “treasonous” actions as coming into England as a priest, harboring or helping such priests, or being reconciled to the Catholic Church by them.  Under the proposed law, the refusal to attend church would make the recusant liable to the seizure of all his goods and the profits of two-thirds of his estates; rescusants would be barred from leasing, renting, or selling land; recusant women would lose their dowries; a man who married a recusant heiress would forfeit two-thirds of her inheritance; Catholics could no longer hold any public office or belong to a learned profession; one who kept a recusant guest or servant would be liable to a fine of ten pounds a month; children of recusant parents would be taken from them at age seven and educated as Protestants. The legislation was not enacted, and instead, a much less onerous law was passed, requiring that recusants remain within five miles of their homes or forfeit goods and income.[42] The new threats to their well-being, however, must have clarified as never before to many Catholics how much they might have to suffer in the name of conscience if the voices of their more rigorous pastors were not tempered in demanding resistance to the ungodly laws of an heretical regime. As if in anticipation of wavering and doubt among the faithful, the Jesuit Henry Garnet published in 1593 three documents aimed at strengthening the resolution of those who might bend or break in the face of an increasing terror: A Treatise of Christian Renunciation; An Apology against the Defence of Schisme; and A Declaration of the Fathers (which presented a version of the Council of Trent’s declaration in 1562 against schism). Garnet was at pains to confute in his writings the tracts written by Thomas Bell, a Lancashire priest (and later apostate), who had defended attendance at church, giving public expression to a casuistry that priests sometimes saw fit to offer humanely to their penitents in the privacy of confession.[43] Lay Catholics, then, were not always sure that they had a vocation to martyrdom, but some of their “ghostly fathers” were quite clear on the point. One of the clearest had been Garnet’s now imprisoned fellow-Jesuit, Robert Southwell.

Saint Peters Complaint, so ubiquitously present in Shakespeare’s Lucrece, was written by Southwell with candid designs upon a specific kind of reader: the English Catholic whose loyalty to the Church had lapsed, or was about to. The poem’s speaker is the “Rock” upon whom Christ had professed to “build his church” (Matt. 16:18), but who was blown over, as the poem says, by “a puffe of womans wind,” “a maidens easie breath” (150, 167). The maiden in question was, in John’s gospel (18:17), the high priest’s portress, who while Jesus was being interviewed before his crucifixion charged Peter with being one of his disciples, eliciting the first of the apostle’s three denials of his Lord. In Southwell’s England, the maid was of course Elizabeth, whose proclamations (“breath”) pressured many into schism or apostasy, which was the denial of their Lord and his truth unto the “death” of their souls (168). Peter would not find “excuse” for his fall in the examples of David, Solomon, and Samson, who had suffered their “vertue, wisedome, [and] strength” to be by “woemen spild” (301-3). He had succumbed not to feminine beauty, but to “fear” which a woman’s voice inspired (307-16)--a fear not of force, so he claimed, but (as the unheroic Falstaff would put it) of “A word. . . . Air.” Southwell and his Catholic readers were all too aware, of course, that Elizabeth’s words were backed by force of arms, by pursuivants and the collectors of fines, by the rack, the gibbet, the knife, and the axe. Indeed, after his complaint, Peter would fully repent and, a victim of force, later be crucified. But Saint Peters Complaint was a poem composed by a man who risked martyrdom daily out of a sense of the absoluteness of his truth and its sometimes scandalously brutal demands (“If any man come to mee, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters: yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:26]). It was addressed to Christians who should be made to see that the powers and treasures of this world were trivial or illusory. For a martyr, the words of a persecutor are but “air,” which would destroy a soul only if the soul were to give it the power to do so. Such was Southwell’s message as well to his father in the sternly reproachful Epistle that Shakespeare remembered as he wrote Lucrece.

Your present estate is in danger of the deepest harms if you do not the sooner recover
yourself into the fold and family of God’s Church.
     What have you gotten by being so long customer to the world but false ware,
suitable to the shop of such a merchant whose traffic is toil, whose wealth trash, and
whose gain misery . . . ? It cannot be fear that leadeth you amiss, seeing it were too
unfitting a thing that the cravant cowardice of flesh and blood should daunt the prowess
 of an intelligent person, who by his wisdom cannot but discern how much more cause
there is to fear God than man, and to stand in more awe of perpetual than of temporal
penalties (EF, 12).


This same theme is exhaustively and at times wearisomely elaborated in the Epistle of Comfort, as some of the book’s chapter headings indicate:


we are moved to suffer tribulation willinglye, both by the president of Christ,
and the title of a Christian. . . . tribulation best agreeth with the estate, and conditions
of our life. . . . the cause we suffer for is the true Catholicke fayth. . . . the estate of
the persecuted in a good cause is honourable. . . . death in itself to the good, is
comfortable. . . . Martyrdome is glorious in it selfe, most profitable to the Church and
honourable to the Martyrs . . . (2 r-v).

Behind these conclusions are principles that make Lucretia, not one of the Epistle’s heroines (she killed herself, says Southwell, for the vain purpose of bringing “renoune” to her “chastytie”), but one of many “examples” permitted by God in the world for the “exhortation” of those whom he has asked to suffer for a better cause (126v-127r). John Donne would argue “paradoxically” in Biathanatos (1608) and more ingenuously in Pseudo-Martyr (1610) against both the ancient and contemporary Roman cults of martyrdom. But Shakespeare does not argue; he dramatizes, and in a way that leaves the issues on both sides of the controversy as inexorably ambiguous as the certitudes of the antagonists are fierce.

The ambiguities in Lucrece have been appreciated from different perspectives, but most readers who worry over the poem’s enigmas consider them rooted in “psycho-social” and “moral” issues.[44] The heroine herself has been criticized as verbose, passive, compliant with an oppressive patriarchy, psychologically and morally confused, and even, despite her victimization, immoral. She has also been regarded as eloquent, consummately brave and independent, divided and tormented in ways that make her hugely sympathetic, and, despite her questionable self-slaughter, a moral paragon.[45] Both kinds of judgments of Lucrece may mingle in the same reader’s response. And at least one commentator, Ian Donaldson, has sensed that in the drawing of contradictions “the central moral complexities of the story are in some ways curiously evaded. . . . There is a wavering between different criteria of judgment, a sense that Shakespeare, while sharing some of his contemporaries’ doubts about the way in which Lucrece chose to act, is attempting--not altogether successfully--to retell Lucrece’s story in a manner which is by and large approbatory.” It is especially the “alternation between Roman and Christian viewpoints” that creates confusion.[46] By Christian standards (such as those of St. Augustine, whose moral condemnation of Lucrece is frequently referred to in commentary on the poem)[47] Lucrece is right to doubt the virtue of suicide:


To live or die which of the twain were better,
When life is sham’d and death reproach’s debtor.
“To kill myself,” quoth she, “alack what were it,
But with my body my poor soul’s pollution?


And by these same standards, she is wrong to take her life for any of the reasons she offers for doing so: a feeling of stain or defilement--”let it not be call’d impiety, / If in this blemish’d fort I make some hole / Through which I may convey this troubled soul” (1174-6); a compulsion for revenge against her assailant--“My stained blood to Tarquin I’ll bequeath, / Which  by him tainted shall for him be spent . . . / How Tarquin must be us’d, read it in me” (1181-95); or a concern for honor: “’Tis honor to deprive dishonor’d life, / The one will live, the other being dead. / So of shame’s ashes shall my fame be bred. . . .” (1186-8). If Lucrece were allowed to abide in her own world, a “Roman” ethic might easily exculpate her from “Christian” faults, and readers who want reasons to offer her sympathy and admiration might do so on historicist grounds. But Shakespeare does not allow her to live in the Rome of Livy or Ovid, where the thoughts and actions of a simpler character might make perfect moral sense. She is forced (and Tarquin with her) to probe her tender conscience for marks not only of Roman “disgrace” and “shame” (751, 756), but of Christian “guilt” and “sin” (754, 753), in the knowledge that her body and soul were to be “kept” in their purity not only for her husband, but for “heaven” (1163-6). This is not really an “alternation” of perspectives, as Donaldson says, but (as he more accurately puts it without noting the difference in meaning between the terms) a “fusion.”[48] Whether this commingling is an evasive resort, a failure to “take moral repossession of the older story [and to charge] it with new depth and intricacy of significance,”[49] remains, however, to be seen.

A seventeenth-century reader of Thomas Heywood’s play The Rape of Lucrece (published in 1608) wrote at the end of the text he had read a comment about the heroine’s final action:

. . . though some men commend this act Lucretian
She shewd herself in’t (for all that) no good Christian
Nay ev’n those men that seeme to make the best ont
Call her a Papish good, not good Protestant.[50]


Whatever this reader’s reasons for considering Lucrece “Papish,” Shakespeare anticipated them, for his Catholic sources baptized his pagan ones, not just by steeping the poem in their language, but by helping it speak to the plight of Elizabethan “Romans” (like the earl of Southampton) who stood between a temporal power that would “rape” their consciences and a spiritual authority that would have them resist such violence unto martyrdom.

Shakespeare’s Catholic readers probably would not have recognized the specific literary connections between Southwell’s works and Lucrece. They would not have been aware that St. Peter’s refusal of martyrdom (in St Peters Complaint) or Richard Southwell’s apostasy (in An Epistle unto his Father) or Robert Southwell’s complaints against the government’s persecutions of Catholics for their religion (in An Humble Supplication to her Majestie) or the Jesuit’s exhortations to martyrs and celebration of martyrdom (in An Epistle of Comfort) all lurked behind the poem in the author’s mind. They would have been able to see easily enough, however, that Lucrece was anachronistically and provocatively set in a Catholic arena of conscience, where “sin is clear’d with absolution” (Lucrece, 354; cf. EC, 114r: “conscience is cleared by humble confession”), and yet where the norm of absolute perfection, which was sometimes urgently pressed upon the faithful in the teaching of the Counter-Reformation, might lead the radically devout to a martyr’s death. In this context such readers would be alerted by Lucrece’s description of herself as “martyr’d” (802) (even though she uses the term loosely, and she was not, Southwell pointed out, a martyr in the Christian sense) to the icons of martyrdom in which she appears after her death. The first suggests a rite of passage in a baptism of blood:


[her blood] doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side...
(cf. EC 141r: “martirdome is the ryver Jordan,” where Jesus was baptized; and 184r: “The redd sea of Martyrdome.”)

The second displays the power of the martyr’s sufferings and relics:

They did conclude to bear dead Lucrece thence,
To show her bleeding body thorough Rome,
And so to publish Tarquin’s foul offense;
Which being done with speedy diligence,
  The Romans plausibly did give consent
  To Tarquin’s everlasting banishment.
(cf. EC, 149r : everye dropp of bloode, is able to doe as much, and somtymes more forcible effectes, then the martyr himselfe, if he had remayned alyve; 156v: when [St James’] blood began to worke, the whole country yelded to his dead bones; 193r: It is a glory [for a martyr] to shewe his woundes.)

Catholics deeply familiar with Southwell’s writings might also have discovered martyrological parallels between Lucrece’s “will” which she promulgated before her death (1198-201) and the “will” of Christ, which  Southwell ascribes to the dying redeemer “hanging upon the Crosse” (EC, 95v);[51] or between the “winged” flight of Lucrece’s soul (1727-8) through the “hole” made in her flesh (1175) and the “winged” departure of the martyr’s soul for heaven (EC, 144v-45r) through the “holes [made in their] bodyes” (EC, 194v).

But the most compelling moments of Shakespeare’s poem for “papish” readers might have been those which dramatize the torments of conscience forced upon a woman who was perplexed in the extreme by the injunction to be perfect and the impossibility of being so:

. . . no perfection is so absolute,
That some impurity doth not pollute.

One of the great sources of anguish for Lucrece is her inability to quarantine the purity of her mind from what she believes to be the corruption of her body. At one point (as Shakespeare follows the story in Livy)[52] she attempts to do so:

Though my gross blood be stain’d with this abuse,
Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
That was not forc’d, that never was inclin’d
  To accessary yieldings, but still pure
  Doth in her poison’d closet yet endure.
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense . . . ?
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
May any terms acquit me from this chance?
  The poison’d fountain clears itself again,
  And why not I from this compelled stain?
                                                                                                (1655-9; 1704-8)

And her family and friends do not hesitate to reassure her:

            . . . they all at once began to say,
Her body’s stain her mind untainted clears.

But she finally refuses to accept the consolation of their moral reasoning:

“No, no,” quoth she, “no dame hereafter living
By my excuse shall claim excuse’s giving.”

It is an elementary principle of modern ethics that “intention” ultimately determines the character of an act, and that an upright will should save from blame a person forced to proceed against her own volition. Thus it is sometimes said that Lucrece’s thoughts confuse, in a way that is never resolved, the standards of a “shame culture,” according to which, ignorance or good intention may not prevent “pollution” by outlawed deeds, with those of a “guilt culture,” in which “sin” is committed only and entirely in an informed and consenting conscience.[53] Speaking the language of both codes, Lucrece is indeed bewildered by her predicament. On the one hand she asserts that the rape has left her mind “Immaculate and unspotted” (1656), while her body has become a “temple spotted, spoil’d, corrupted” (1172). Her intention to resist the assailant thus preserved her from guilt but not from shame rooted in physical “spot”--a disgrace which her husband might share with her (1065-72). On the other, she speaks as though her body, an indifferent thing, has been unaffected by the rape, while the spiritual treasure that resided in it has been rifled: “Poor helpless help, the treasure stol’n away, / To burn the guiltless casket where it lay” (1056-7). Her language of “shame” and “disgrace” has nothing to do with her conscience. Her language of “guilt” and “sin” has everything to do with her conscience, where, if anywhere, immorality must reside (750-56). Finally, Lucrece’s notion that her soul must “decay” after its “bark” has been peeled away (1169) seems only the anguished outcry of a mind too severely wounded to think clearly.[54]  A modern reader, impatient with this lack of clarity, might say that Lucrece was violated, and then forced by custom and psychological reflex to believe in her guilt; she was stained truly in neither body nor mind. But Shakespeare insists on offering ideas in conflict and even in confusion. Was his main purpose to pursue these quandaries simply to open up without judging “a new interior world of shifting doubts, hesitations, anxieties, anticipation, and griefs”?[55] Or does the poem allow us to ask, with some hope of answers, such questions as these: to what extent did the poet make Lucrece a sympathetic character? To what extent a guilty one? To what extent a muddled victim? To what extent a martyr? Is the story of Lucrece more than a tale of tragic characters, one defeated by libidinous “Affection,” the other by a mind duped, dismayed, and excessively scrupulous? These difficulties ought to be considered in light of the crises of conscience faced by the Elizabethan Catholics to whom the poem seems at some level addressed.

That a pure heart could be insulated from the guilt of a body compelled to an “external” crime was one of the fundamental tenets of “Nicodemism,” a casuistry used by Continental Protestants (but fiercely denounced by John Calvin) to justify their compliance with the religious laws of Catholic monarchies.[56] In Elizabethan England this casuistry was employed by many Catholics who believed that it relieved them of the necessity of becoming recusants.[57] As we have noted, such flexibility, though approved of by some Catholic religious teachers, was generally resisted by voices of clerical rigor, like that of Garnet. As early as 1567, Nicholas Sander denied solace to those who believed that a heart could be sovereign in its purity because distinct from its body: “it divideth one man in twain, setting the heart in one cumpanie, and the bodie in an other as though anie man could go to church except his hart caried him thither.”[58] And in 1593, the year before Lucrece was published, Garnet insisted with some vehemence that those who brought their bodies to the churches of heretics could not by some mystical division leave their souls in the Catholic Church.[59] This is precisely the view advanced by Garnet’s colleague Robert Southwell, who in the Epistle of Comfort takes Calvin’s side against the “Nicodemites,” arguing that “goinge to a churche of a contrary beliefe, is . . . To part stakes betweene God and the divell assygning the soule to one and the body to the other” (172v). English Catholics who conformed to their government’s laws concerning church attendance under threat of punishment were thus denied the saving expedient of believing that this forced external compliance was trivial and that, in the words of Lucrece’s family, a “mind untainted” might clear a “body’s stain.”

Like Lucrece, the spiritual integrity of these believers was assaulted by Tarquins who were in personal terms their “kinsmen” (fellow English Christians [cf. Lucrece, 237]) and in political terms the “sovereign” state (cf. Lucrece, 632). Like Lucrece, they were both individuals and a corporate community--a “Troy” (1547: “so my Troy did perish”) liable to the deceitful incursions of the “Sinons” (1541) of the world (spies, informers--greedy and jealous friends among them, and smiling villains in high places).[60] If like Lucrece they yielded to rape without a struggle, it may have been because violent resistance seemed futile, and many could not believe the rigorists who found them guilty of a fundamental betrayal of their faith. But there were those, like Lucrece, whose consciences needed “perfect” purity and could find none in submission, even if it were passive and wholly external. Their mental agonies could be great, as may be seen in the case of one Francis Wodehouse of Norfolk, reported by the Jesuit William Weston:


    “That proclamation of the Queen,” he said, “did not touch me lightly. On the contrary, it lay like a load on my mind. It was not a matter merely for myself, not just a question of imprisonment. My wife, my children, my whole family and fortune were concerned. At a single blow all would be gone together. Yet, if I submitted, I would have to face perpetual disgrace in the eyes of decent men: and not that only, but infamy and the stigma of cowardice as well, and before God, the assured and inescapable jeopardy of my soul. And on top of it all,” he continued, “came the entreaties and prayers of my friends. . . . they exaggerated infinitely the importance of these passing possessions, and insisted how rash and regrettable it would be to refuse to purchase immunity from disaster by a single visit to church. Finally,” he said, “I was timid. I saw the best course, and followed the worst. . . . The feast day came when I had to be present. Immediately I entered the church . . . my bowels began to torture me. A fire seemed to kindle in them and in a few moments flared up. The torment was acute. The flame rose right into my chest and the region of my heart, so that I seemed to be boiling in some hellish furnace. . . . At last all my intestines seemed one furnace of fire.”


Wodehouse left at the end of the service, trying to douse the fire with mugs of ale at a nearby tavern, but to no effect. Calmed by his wife and a priest, he eventually made his way to the Anglican bishop of the place, and told him he would never again comply with the statute. The bishop “clapped him into prison,” where he remained for four years.[61] We should note that Wodehouse shared Lucrece’s horror of “disgrace” and “infamy” as well as her detestation of sin. Like her, he felt coerced to yield to iniquitous force for his family’s sake (cf. Lucrece, 533). He “submitted,” as she confusedly came to believe that she had done (1035-6), having listened to the mitigating words of friends before rather than after doing so. He suffered personal agonies for that submission, both in his mind and in the “criminal” body that failed to concur with it (Lucrece’s blood itself was “stained” by Tarquin [1743]); and, one infers, he atoned for his sin and saved his name by self-consciously making himself a martyr.

Martyrdom for a Catholic was salvific: blood from martyrs’ wounds purified even more powerfully than the waters of baptism. Southwell wrote at some length on this point: “To the baptised all his sinns are forgeven. In the Martyr all his sinnes are quite extinguished. . . . Martirdome [doth] so clense the soule from all spot of former corruption, that it geveth ther-unto a most undefiled beautye. . . . it . . . clenseth us both from the myre and from the stayne and spot that remayneth after it. . . .” (EC, 138v-39r). “Corruption,” “mire,” “stain,” “spot”: these are words in which Lucrece reveals her obsession with the purity that she believes she has lost. And when she seeks to recover it, she does so in blood: “My blood shall wash the slander of my ill” (1207). At this point we can understand how a Protestant would have found her a “papish” heroine, relying as she does on her own “works,” her own “blood,” for absolution, instead of helplessly drowning herself in the Blood of the Lamb. Of course Lucrece, in her own age, knew no such savior; but Elizabethans both Catholic and Protestant would know the signs of a pagan “martyr” when they saw them.

Another feature of Lucrece that would have been of interest to Catholic readers is the special and somewhat curious emphasis given in the poem to “treason” (in lines 361, 369, 770, 877, 909, 920). Although Lucrece is a private citizen and Tarquin the prince, he is accused more than once of this crime, which would usually be committed against rather than by him. Perhaps, as a commentator has noted, readers are meant to consider in this motif Tarquin’s “self-betrayal” as much as his “treachery toward Lucrece.”[62] Or perhaps his crime is treasonous in that it leads directly to the downfall of the monarchy. Even so, his assault on Lucrece herself is at least metaphorically traitorous:

. . . his guilty hand pluck’d up the latch,
And with his knee the door he opens wide.
The dove sleeps fast that this night-owl will catch;
Thus treason works ere traitors be espied.


And English Catholics, who were forever told by Elizabethan and Jacobean governments that they suffered not for religion but for treasonous acts against the state, would have appreciated the fine irony in this juridical characterization of a prince’s assault on a private woman. Those who knew Southwell’s Epistle of Comfort might also have recalled the twist given by the author to the whole question of criminal rebellion. “If a subjecte,” he asks, “should make a lawe, that al the estates of the Realme should leave the obedience of theyre true Queene, and only submit them selves unto him: And shold prescribe that in token therof they all sholde come to his Pallace, and attende there, whyle his servantes did Pryncelye and regall homage unto him; were not the obeying of this lawe a consente to his rebellion? And the presence at his Pallace a sufficyente sygne of oure revolte from our Soveraygne?” Southwell then declares that this is “our very case.” “The Queene is the Catholicke Church. The rebellious subjecte, resembleth the enemyes therof. The lawe commaunding from the Queenes, and forcing to her rebels obedience, the penall lawes terrfyinge us from the Catholycke relygion, and enforcing us to the heretycal service. The comminge to his Pallace whyle he is honoured as Kynge, is lyke the comming to Church while heresye is sett forthe, as true religion.” If, he concludes, “this point shold come to the scanning of any seculer tribunal, the leaste faulte that the offender could be condemned of, were highe treason” (EC, 169v-170r, emphasis added). In the Epistle as in Lucrece, it is the persecutor not the persecuted who is the truest traitor. And in the Epistle as in Lucrece, treachery will lead to “revenge”: Lucrece desires it (1180); her blood symbolically seeks it (1763); revolution achieves it. Southwell devoutly predicts it, writing a whole chapter of his work as “A Warninge to the Persecutours”: “The voyce of the bloode of youre murthered brethren cryeth out of the earth, against you. . . . puttinge Catholikes to deathe, you digge your owne graves. . . . by barbarouslye martyring [your brethren, you] send them to heaven, there to be continuall soliciters with God for revenge against theyre murderers . . .” (EC, 197r, 199r-v). Vengeance had, of course, been part of the original Roman “history”; but like so many other elements of that narrative, its resonance with contemporary conditions may have been among the reasons for Shakespeare’s choice of the story.

Read from this perspective, Lucrece begins to yield answers to questions that have been posed about it from the beginning of this chapter. The anachronistic “fusion” of “Roman” and “Christian” standards of value does not show the author evasive or lacking control. On the contrary, his purpose was to demonstrate continuities between ancient and modern Rome in the religious ethic of the Counter-Reformation, as its moral imperatives affected the political life of the English nation and the personal lives of many of its citizens. The “confusion” of the heroine is not an aesthetic blemish, but emerges naturally in a plausible dramatization of psychological dilemmas comparable to those faced by “Romans” in late sixteenth-century England. It could never be within a poet’s competence to resolve them, though he might, as Shakespeare did, give them a sensitive portrayal and analysis. In doing so, he overcame the difficulty that modern criticism would find in making a “political” poem out of a narrative that dwells at great length not on overt political actions but on the “sufferings and predicament of the heroine.”[63] In Lucrece, politics cannot be separated from the individual tragedies that it begets.

Since the poet is intensely interested in both the public and private significance of character, he gives to Tarquin (as no other writer before him saw need to do) a mind as well as a function. Tarquin is a prince, and his actions can never be entirely his own. With his fortunes a monarchy may fall, and it will. Yet if he is an emblem of state power, he is no faceless, unthinking one, but a villain with a conscience, whose actions are all the more reprehensible for their having been thought through. His lust for Lucrece’s body is hardly a negligible fact, and Shakespeare depicts the psychic “flames” with great vividness. But Tarquin’s sexual yearning is presented as somehow less important to him than his passion for “ownership.”[64] Lucrece is the “jewel” or “treasure” that an “owner” (her husband) should have protected from an intensely competitive “thief,” who strives to usurp “possession” (15-35, 305, 413). One way of viewing the lust for proprietorship is to consider it as a basic symptom of “patriarchal” passion. Another way is to see in it a symbol of the struggle between state and church for possession of the individual “subject,” body and soul. Since it is Tarquin, the prince, who is jealous of another’s “sov’reignty” (37), a dominion which implies limits to his own, and who “like a foul usurper went about / From his fair throne to heave the owner out” (412-13),[65]  his claims, and therefore those of the state, are both nullified and shown to derive from perverse instincts. The libido dominandi is symptomatic of a grave moral and political pathology. One need not be a “Republican” to believe that tyrants like Tarquin and his father, to whom certain “noblemen of Rome” (including Collatine, Lucrece’s husband) gave allegiance in spite of their crimes (Argument 6-7), should suffer “everlasting banishment” (1855).

But is there something perverse about Lucrece as well? Moralizing critics from St. Augustine to his twentieth-century epigones have asked with unpitying logic about her motives: “Si adulterata, cur laudata; si pudica, cur occisa?”[66] (“If adulterous, why is she praised; if chaste, why did she kill herself?”). The questions imply that she may be guilty either of bad faith (did she secretly “consent”?) or unholy desperation. Running counter to these suspicions, however, is a tradition at least as ancient that Lucrece acted heroically--that is, like the many Christian virgins of antiquity who killed themselves to preserve their chastity. Dante lodged her with the virtuous pagans. Chaucer called her a “seynt.” Some Renaissance painters depicted her as a dying Christian martyr, even as an imitator of the crucified Christ.[67] It is quite understandable that a figure who has inspired such contradictory responses through the ages would appear in Shakespeare (of all writers!) as a woman bound to defy conventional and straightforward assessment. Yet Shakespeare does provide grounds for judgments of her, even if he does not make them himself.

We must wonder, of course, what the earl of Southampton thought of this “martyr’d” heroine. He had known martyrs, but he clearly chose, for whatever reasons, not to become one. It hardly seems possible that Shakespeare was presenting Lucrece to his patron as a model worthy of imitation. Neither is it likely that the poet would have portrayed for the earl as an object of derision a character whose struggles with her conscience mirrored in some sense those of his family and acquaintances (of his father, especially), and whose tragedy might be seen as too momentous for her to suffer the dry mock of a heartless irony. Southampton would surely see in Lucrece, as the narrator describes her, an “earthly saint” (85) of a kind unlike those who bore the title easily, lightly, and questionably in love poetry or complaint. Her sanctity is described in Christian terms--she dutifully bears the “yoke” of her “lord” (cf. Matt. 11:29-30; EC, 143v); but she is not preternaturally competent. Naive and provincial because unacquainted with evil (87), she receives a terrible initiation into a sordid world of duplicity and violence, “a wilderness where is no laws” (544). When asked by Tarquin to yield to his lust secretly and willingly, she utterly rejects his proposal, unable to accept that “A little harm” may be “done to a great good end” (528; cf. EC,  53r: “seeke not so greate a good by evill”). Lucrece argues with great resource against the rape, but confronted by the “uncontrolled tide” of Tarquin’s passion (645), she is finally as helpless as one would be who would take arms against a sea of troubles. She is forcibly silenced, and violated. We are told immediately that “she hath lost a dearer thing than life” (687). With this attitude she is already ripe for martyrdom, which in its epic or heroic form requires that one value a cause or principle more highly than personal existence. But though the narrator has compared her to a “virtuous monument” (391), she has not yet become one--is not yet like the statues of martyrs that Bernini would place, complete and unchanging in their perfection, atop the colonnade at the Piazza San Pietro. Though a victim, she feels in herself a “cureless crime” (772): she was “afear’d to scratch her wicked foe” and sensed within herself some kind of “yielding” (1035-6). Blame for this she first tries to ascribe to circumstances: to “Night” (772), to “Opportunity,” (876), and to “Time” (931). She would learn to “curse” (996). Her first thoughts of suicide (1044ff.) seem tinged with hysteria, for her grief is “wild” (1097), “mad,” (1106), without “law or limit” (1120). But a saint will not long resort to “excuses”; Lucrece stops coining them (1073). A martyr will not yield to hysterics. By fits and starts she controls her grief and will become “mistress” of her “fate” (1069). At one moment not sure that suicide is virtuous (1156-7), she resolves upon it anyway, as a means of purgation and recovery. Calmly she makes her final “bequests” (1181-1211). Having summoned her husband from the siege of Ardea, however, her passionate grief not yet spent, she finds “means to mourn some newer way” (1365). She surveys a painting of “Priam’s Troy,” like herself besieged, betrayed, and despoiled; a picture in which a part “Stood for the whole to be imagined” (1428). She sees in Hecuba an epitome of human ruin, and “shapes her sorrows to the beldame’s woes” (1458), reviving her frenzied complaints and her curses, blaming all, men and women, Paris, Helen, and Priam, whose uncontrolled lust and culpable weakness brought misery to thousands. The words are again wild, but not irrational. Like the besieged English recusant community, she wonders

Why should the private pleasure of some one
Become the public plague of many moe?
Let sin, alone committed, light alone
Upon his head that hath transgressed so;
Let guiltless souls be freed from guilty woe:
    For one’s offense why should so many fall,
    To plague a private sin in general?


The point is in Southwell’s writings, and in the thoughts of countless of the faithfull, whether inclined to martyrdom or not:

it were a hard Course to reprove all Prophetts for one Saul, all Protestants
for one Wyatt, all Priests and Catholiks for one Ballard and Babington (HS, 16-7)..

As Lucrece’s sorrow ebbs and flows, her husband, her father, and the soldier-revolutionary Lucius Junius Brutus arrive to receive her story, hear her call for revenge, and witness with dismay her self-murder, which is as ritualistically decorous as it could be. Collatine, her husband, and Lucretius, her father, first react to her death with helpless astonishment and vie with one another, comically, in their grief. Brutus drops the pretense of a madness he had assumed for political reasons, scolds the others for their “childish humor” (1825) and scores the folly of Lucrece, who “mistook the matter so, / To slay herself that should have slain her foe” (1826-7). He brings the others into a league to pursue revenge, which is accomplished when Lucrece’s martyred body is paraded through Rome, an incitement to a rebellion that drives the Tarquins from power.

There is condescension toward Lucrece as the poem nears its end, not only from Brutus, but from the narrator. It is the latter who tries to elicit pity for the heroine by portraying her as a “weak-made” woman (1260), like others of her sex with “waxen minds” always ready to be shaped by “marble”-minded men. Southwell had propounded these stereotypes, at times to show how saintly women could transcend them--as so many female saints of the Counter-Reformation did, in England as well as on the Continent.[68] To some extent Shakespeare’s poem demonstrates that transcendence, despite the misplaced sympathy of the narrator and the blind contempt of Brutus. In the narrative, we might ask, whose minds are in fact more “waxen” than those of Tarquin, Collatine, and Lucretius? Whose mind more “marble,” in her state of final resolve, than that of Lucrece? It is the mind of Lucrece that, though innocent and wayward, is the most deep and far-ranging. Her candor and bravery are grander than the calculated disguise of Brutus; and his unabashed delight at having a martyr’s relics to “use” in his political struggle does not speak well for his humanity or (since he lets the corpse take the lead in the struggle for liberation) his fortitude.

We may conclude, then, that Shakespeare created in Lucrece a heroine that his patron, a man of Catholic upbringing and Catholic sympathies, could admire. The theologians’ strictures against suicide have been deliberately confounded as Lucrece is brought to resemble martyrs who have surrendered their lives for principle, even if in this case the principle is questionable. In her plight, the sufferings of an entire persecuted community may be read and vividly felt, the actions of the persecutors disgraced. The poem is operatic in evoking pity; but it is not sentimental. It is so written that Southampton might recognize, as he had surely already come to see, that the career of the martyr may appall as well as inspire even a “true believer.” One may appreciate and honor those like Lucrece who submit to the cruelty of absolute ideals, but one may question whether any particular ideal should make one (in the words of the Friar-Duke to Claudio in Measure for Measure) “absolute for death” (3.1.5). One may find oppressive the insistence of heroic teachers that their disciples be perfect when, in the world as most know it, perfection can be at best the aim of the few, and never their achievement. The casuistry which could have saved Lucrece’s life but which she refused was embraced by some Catholics in Shakespeare’s England, perhaps by Southampton himself (it had been prominently advocated by the chaplain of his grandfather Lord Montagu).[69] Along with most readers, Southampton must have believed that Lucrece could have found a less radical way out of her troubles.

It must be emphasized that Shakespeare lays upon his heroine neither a burden of blame nor misapplied commiseration. She is a Roman “saint” whose sense of self-worth is so dependent on her adherence to an uncompromisingly austere ideal of goodness that when she is assaulted by evil, it matters little to her that she suffers rather than inflicts the wound that (she believes) it makes. The trauma makes her mind erratic and then turns it obstinate. She feels at once pure and defiled, and cannot live with this painful anomaly; nor can she live, in a society where honor is unquestionably a good to die for, with the thought that she may be a source of shame to her husband and to herself. One may dismiss the ideology without being scornful of the sensitive and scrupulous soul that strives to be true to it, even when in her striving one may discern signs of confusion, vanity, and pride. To turn Lucrece into a villain is to shame her as Tarquin threatened to do if she were to resist and frustrate his hot desires.

By giving Lucrece a complex psychic life Shakespeare was kinder to her than was Southwell, who mentioned only in passing that she might serve as an exemplar for modern martyrs if proper allowance were made for her unchristian motives. It is only at the end of Shakespeare’s poem that she truly becomes a “virtuous monument,” having surrendered her individuality to principle and become a cynosure in a political cause. Whereas Southwell was intent on proving that martyrdom was necessary and glorious, Shakespeare meant to show what necessity and glory did to individuals, to human minds that ached and human flesh that bled in the service of a grand but fatal “perfection.” Catholic temporizers, who refused to suffer for their convictions, were sometimes called “colde Catholickes” and “key cold” in their “demeanour.”[70] Shakespeare describes Lucrece as “key-cold” (1774), but only after she has become a corpse, precisely because she has become a martyr, suggesting that the contemptuous idealists may not have had the right to use the term so cavalierly. The poem does not argue against martyrdom, as though there were never a cause worthy of self-sacrifice. But it makes exquisitely vivid to martyr-makers (those who work the rack and those who urge their acolytes to brave it) as well as to would-be martyrs the price that is to be paid for unscrupulous political pragmatism and devoutly inflexible certitudes. It is a price so great that the obligation to pay cannot be left unquestioned. When Shakespeare published Lucrece in 1594, Southwell himself had experienced torture, had been in prison for two years, and would soon be put to death. Shakespeare could not know the mental agonies that the prisoner suffered in confinement, but he might have guessed that the Jesuit’s experience of waiting for death was not as rich in religious consolation as his public teaching proclaimed it should be. In using so much of Southwell’s writing to compose Lucrece, writing which he absorbed so broadly and deeply and with so indiscriminate an appetite that it must have seemed to him of profoundest consequence, Shakespeare offered a private tribute to the doomed man, whose sufferings were at least as heroic and as pitiable as those of his Roman martyr. But the doubts he encouraged about Lucrece’s fierce ideal would cast their shadow on Southwell’s as well. Southampton’s family, after all, sheltered priests and wanted them to keep Catholicism alive in England; but most of that family were less than eager to pass through the “redd sea of martyrdom” themselves. And Lucrece was written for their scion, probably also for them


Chapter 2

[1]. See especially Akrigg, Southampton. 177-81. Qualifications to Akrigg’s views, however, are offered below.
[2]. The staunchly Catholic “Gage” family, close kin to the Southamptons, were important figures in the lives and fortunes of the second and third earls. See below.
[3]. Golding’s Ovid also has “crany.” See Muir, The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays, 69.
[4]. For “crannies,” discordia concors, and “tedious . . . briefly,” the three parallels not noted in the previous chapter, see Saint Peters Complaint, 18, “A vale of teares,” 27, and Epistle of Comfort, 71v, 100v.
[5]. McKerrow, ed., Thomas Nashe, 2.295.
[6]. See Devlin, “Robert Southwell and Contemporary Poets—I,” 171-4.
[7]. See Grosart, ed., Poems of Robert Southwell, lxxxix-xcii; Devlin, Life of Robert Southwell, 269-73 Milward, Shakespeare’s Religious Background, 54-7; Brownlow, Southwell, 93-6.
[8]. See Rollins, ed., Variorum Poems, 425-6; Smith, Elizabethan Poetry, 113-15.
[9]. Devlin, Life of Robert Southwell, 270; see also Brownlow, Southwell, 94-6. Devlin gives 10 parallel passages; Brownlow adds a few more, and these are more significant.
[10]. See Brownlow, Southwell, 94; also Devlin, Life of Robert Southwell, 271.
[11]. Brownlow, Southwell, 94; also Devlin, Life of Robert Southwell, 272.
[12]. Brownlow, Southwell, 94.
[13]. A few comparisons will suffice to establish the point:
                                                                                                                                                                                  Funeral Teares                                                               Lucrece
          A8r:                                                                  205:
          eye-sore . . . in a coate                                     an eye-sore in a golden coate [only
                                                                                   one other instance of “eye-sore” in Ss]
          4r-v:                                                                  1100:
          in a Sea of cares                                              in a sea of care
          5v:                                                                    947-48:
          blotted . . . with a fatall oblivion                        To feed oblivion . . . to blot
          10v:                                                                  238-40:
          If this be a fault . . . no excuse hath effect        The shame and fault finds no excuse nor end.
          wher the fact pleadeth guilty                              Shameful it is; ay, if the fact be known
          13r:                                                                  1613-14:
          There is some trespasse in thy teares . . .           the trespass . . . Where no excuse can give the
          The fault must be mended                                 fault amending
          26r:                                                                  1246:
          Angels . . . in their visible semblaunces             the semblance of a devil
          27v:                                                                  782-83:
          smothered with too thicke a miste . . . ;              musty vapours march so thick . . .  / his
          30r: pricke . . . march                                        smother’d light; 781: prick
          33r:                                                                  1114:
          double death                                                    double death
          37v:                                                                  1651:
          purloine                                                           purloin’d [only instance in Ss]
          43r:                                                                  374-77:
          Are thy sharp seeing eies become so weake       his eyes . . . being blinded with a greater
          sighted, that they are dazeled with the               light . . . / That dazzleth them
          sunne,  and blinded with the light?
          52v-53r:                                                            1240-43:
          this is the nature of all, but principally                  For men have marble, women waxen, minds,
          of women, that the very conceit, much more        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
          the sight of the departed, striketh into them        The weak oppress’d, the impression of strange
          so fearful and ugly impressions                                               kinds / Is form’d in them
          58v, 60v:                                                           164:
          no starre of hope . . . comfortable                     no comfortable star
          59r, 64r:                                                            563-66:
          deep sighes . . . in stead of long sentences         Her modest eloquence with sighs is mixed,
           . . . . supplication . . . pointed with sighs           .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    .   . 
                                                                                  She puts the period often from his place
                                                                                  And midst the sentence so her accent breaks


[14]. One of the echoes of Southwell’s shorter poems in Lucrece may point to the need for textual emendation. The lyric on “[Christ’s] Circumcision” is concerned about the ritual in which the infant Jesus sheds the first drops of his blood of atonement:

To faultlesse sonne from all offenses pure
The faulty vassals scourges do redound. . . .

Grosart in his edition glosses these lines: “said, perhaps, with reference to the royal custom by which a vassal whipping-boy was scourged for the faults of the heir” (131). In Lucrece there is a similar passage:

O be remember’d no outrageous thing
From vassal actors can be wip’d away.

Recent editors of Shakespeare have tended to assume that the first quarto’s “wipt” should be modernized as “wiped” or “wip’d” (as in the Riverside, given here. See Rollins, Variorum Poems, 170, and the Cambridge, Arden, and Oxford editions). The word “scourge” in Southwell’s poem, however, suggests that the modernization should read “whipp’d,” and Grosart’s annotation would then be appropriate for the lines in Lucrece as well. “Whipt” was confused for “wip’d” in the First Folio’s 1HVI 2.4.117.

A single example from each of two of the shorter prose works will have to serve as representative evidence of influence on Shakespeare:


                                 Southwell                                                          Lucrece
          EF, 6:                                                               1167-9:
          flesh and blood, which are in manner but             the bark pill’d from the lofty pine,
          the bark and rind of man [as opposed to]          His leaves will wither and his sap decay;
          the soul, which is man’s main substance;            So must my soul, her bark being pill’d away
          10: the boughs wither and . . . your tree
          grow to decay . . . such sap as it bringeth
          HS, 32:                                                               1181-82:
          if any would bequeath his bloud . . . to               My stained blood to Tarquin I’ll bequeath,
          those, for whose good he would be thought         Which by him tainted shall for him be spent
          to have Cast away his life


[15]. As other parallels between the Argument and Southwell’s writings suggest.
[16]. Quoted from Bullough, Sources, 1.199
                               Epistle                                                                 Lucrece
           147v-48r:                                                                204-10:
           and if any be executed for greate                            Yea, though I die, the scandal will survive,
           enormityes, when he is dead, his sinne dyeth             And be an eye-sore in my golden coat.  
           [not] with him, and syldome leaveth he any               .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
           posteritye, that by his deathe, is not                         That my posterity, sham’d with the note
           rather dismayed, then incouraged to                         Shall curse my bones, and hold it for no sin
           folowe hys evill example                                          To wish that I their father had not been
           [and MMFT,A8r: eye-sore . . . in a coate]


[18]. Akrigg, Southampton, 180. Some years after completing his biography, Akrigg discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale a document datable to 1612, in which Southampton is judged by a French intelligence agent to be neither Catholic (overt or covert) nor Protestant--perhaps, then, a man of no faith at all (“Something More about Shakespeare’s Patron,” 65-6).
[19]. Quoted in Akrigg, Southampton, 125. A report in the Calendar of State Papers names the priest “Wilde”; in other accounts however, he is--correctly, it seems--“Wright.”
[20]. See Clancy, “Papist-Protestant-Puritan,” 227-53.
[21]. See Stroud, “Father Thomas Wright,” 193-98.
[22]. Southampton, 179.
[23]. Akrigg assumed without proof that Burghley (whom Southampton resisted vehemently on the question of marriage) was effective in “brainwashing” his ward “where his youthful Catholicism was concerned”; and the biographer could speak only of the “Puritan” character of St. John’s College and Southampton’s life-long affection for the place as evidence of the University’s impact on the student’s religious convictions (179). Akrigg believed that Henry Cuffe, a Puritan and secretary to the earl of Essex, was considered by Southampton’s family a “pernicious” influence on their scion’s faith. In fact, Thomas Arundel, Southampton’s brother-in-law, complained to Robert Cecil only that Cuffe had educated his kinsman too well in Aristotle’s Politics (Southampton, 130, 179).
[24]. Akrigg, Southampton, 177n4.
[25]. Akrigg, Southampton, 19, 58. The biographer seems to have forgotten these facts when writing later about the recusancy fines.
Patrick H. Martin, who has examined Edward Gage’s will (dated 1614), informs me that the third earl of Southampton is listed in it as one of the executors.
[26]. See the genealogical chart given in the previous chapter, after page     . Also listed among the recusants whose fines went to Southampton were Austen Belson, Edward Gage’s son-in-law, as well as Andrew Bendlosse [or Bendlowes], Edward Gage of Wormesley, and Sir John Carrell [or Caryll]--all members of the Gage family (see Questier, Catholicism and Community, 524).
[27]. Akrigg, Southampton, 181.
[28]. In the Jacobean parliaments, Southampton was, says A. L. Rowse, “regularly on the Lords’ committees” that dealt with the problems of recusancy (Shakespeare’s Southampton, 186). It is does not seem to be clear what role he played on them.
[29]. Stopes, Southampton, 10. The countess wrote to Leicester: “Truly, my Lord, yf my self had kept hime he shold in this howse have come to yt [i.e., the Anglican service], as my Lord my father and all his doth.” On the attitude of Lord Montagu (the countess’s father) to recusancy, see below . . . .
[30]. In her essay, “Rebel Lords, Popular Playwrights, and Political Culture: Notes on the Jacobean Patronage of the Earl of Southampton,” Margot Heinemann rightly stresses the earl’s consistent commitment to an anti-Spanish foreign policy and support for Protestant forces in Europe, but she seems to use a rather loose definition of patronage in associating Southampton with ideological Protestants at home. The earl would not necessarily have agreed with the substance of all the works dedicated to him. Nor would he have necessarily been pleased by the anti-Catholic drama produced in the circles of his associates by writers such as Heywood, Dekker, Webster, and Munday--at least, Heinemann does not offer real evidence that he was pleased.
[31]. Akrigg, Southampton, 177. A different witness, the secretary to the Venetian ambassador, claimed in 1603 that Henry Howard and Southampton, “both Catholics,” have recently declared “that God has touched their hearts, and that the example of their King has more weight with them than the disputes of theologians. They have become Protestants, and go to church in the train of the King.” Akrigg acknowledged that Scaramelli was wrong about Howard’s “conversion,” for Howard remained a secret Catholic for the rest of his life. That the Venetian was also mistaken about Southampton Akrigg also admitted, but on the unproved assumption that Southampton by this time was already a convinced Protestant. Why would Southampton speak of God’s touching his heart if no change had taken place in his convictions? And convictions about what? Whatever the “theologians” said, the matter of church attendance was not an absolute dividing line between “convinced” Catholic and Protestant--as the example of Howard (and of Southampton’s own kin) makes clear. Catholic theologians debated the case of Naaman the Syrian, who was allowed by the prophet Elisha to go with his king to the temple where an idol was worshipped (see Holmes, Resistance and Compromise, 91-2; Walsham, Church Papists, 67-68).
Sandys, an authentic Protestant but a notable irenicist, hoped for the “Unitie . . . [of] Christendome, whether Unitie of Veritie, or Unitie of Charitie, or Unitie of Perswasion, or Unitie of Authoritie; or Unitie of Necessitie. . . .” (A Relation of the State of Religion in the Westerne Parts of the World, 1605). This may have been one feature of his character by which Southampton was attracted. See Ellison, “Measure for Measure,” 61-62 (and Chapter 6, n10, below).
[32]. John Chamberlain, Letters, 1.202; quoted in Akrigg, Southampton, 181. Some years later Southampton arranged to buy the books and manuscripts of the Puritan divine William Crashaw (an alumnus of St. John’s College and a member, like Southampton, of the Virginia Company), which would be donated finally to St. John’s. Stopes noted that Crashaw’s collection contained many “recusants’ books,” which, she imagined, Southampton was glad to save from “spoliation” (374-75). On the large store of Catholic writings (most of them the works of theologians and mystics) that Southampton arranged to have purchased for the Bodleian in 1605, see Gustav Ungerer, “The Earl of Southampton’s Donation to the Bodleian in 1605 and its Spanish Books,” 17-41.
[33]. Akrigg, Southampton, 159.
[34]. See Rowse, Shakespeare’s Southampton, 193. Stopes places the incident in 1604 (Southampton, 286).
[35]. Akrigg, Southampton, 146; Stopes, Southampton, 360-1.
[36]. Stopes, Southampton, 361.
[37]. Stopes, Southampton, 361.
[38]. See the genealogical chart in the previous chapter.
[39]. Devlin, Life of Robert Southwell, 13, 28; CSPD, 1591-4, 404, 484.
[40]. CSPD, 1591-4, 463, 503, 504, 510.
[41]. Morey, Catholic Subjects, 70.
[42]. Morey, Catholic Subjects, 70.
[43]. On the apparent inconsistencies between printed proclamations and the private religious instruction sometimes given individual Catholics as they faced specific kinds of oppression, see Rose, Cases of Conscience; Holmes, Resistance and Compromise; Walsham, Church Papists.
[44]. Coppélia Kahn emphasizes the former in “The Rape in Shakespeare’s Lucrece”: 45-72; Ian Donaldson, the latter in The Rapes of Lucretia, chapter 3. Heather Dubrow’s Captive Victors offers a reading from both perspectives (80-168). Abstractly “political” readings of the poem have not been numerous. For the political emphasis see Kuhl, “Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece”; Platt, “The Rape of Lucrece and the Republic for which it Stands.”
[45]. The extremes of praise and blame can be seen in Richard Levin’s survey of ingenuous and ironic readings of Lucrece’s character: “The Ironic Reading of ‘The Rape of Lucrece’ and the Problem of External Evidence.”
[46]. Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 40-6.
[47]. See The City of God, 1.19.
[48]. Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 45.
[49]. Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 44.
[50]. Quoted from a copy of the first edition of Heywood’s play, now in the British Library, by Levin, 89n.


                              Epistle                                                                      Lucrece
          95v:                                                                          1198-1201:
          The author of lyfe hanging upon the Crosse                This brief abridgement of my will I make:
          made his will allotting to everyone workes of              My soul and body to the skies and ground,
          pietye, to his Apostles persecution, to the                    My resolution, husband, do thou take,
          Jewes his bodye, to his father his soule. . . ,              Mine honor be the knife’s that makes my
          to the repentante Christians he commended                 wound. . . .
          the Crosse; 100r: abridged


[52]. Painter translates: “‘But it is my bodye onely that is violated, my minde God knoweth is guiltles, whereof my death shalbe witnesse. . . .’ Then every one of them gave her their faith, and comforted the pensive and languishing lady, imputing the offence to the authour and doer of the same, affirming that her bodye was polluted, and not her minde, and where consent was not, there the crime was absente. Whereunto shee added: ‘...As for my part, though I cleare my selfe of the offence, my body shall feele the punishment; for no unchast or ill woman shall hereafter impute no dishonest act to Lucrece.’” (Bullough, 1.198.) In Livy, Lucretia never doubts her mind’s integrity, agreeing with the men who try to comfort her. Shakespeare’s heroine says “No” to the words of assurance, a victim of the history of her mental distress, in which she was never perfectly sure about her purity. Lucretia declares her mind pure. Lucrece, having doubted, then declares: “Immaculate and spotless is my mind”; but then the declaration becomes a set of questions: “May my pure mind with the foul act dispense . . . ? May any terms acquit me from this chance?”

[53]. See Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 46.
[54]. On these inconsistencies, see Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 47-9.
[55]. Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 44.
[56]. See especially Zagorin, Ways of Lying: Dissimulation, Persecution, & Conformity in Early Modern Europe.
[57]. See Holmes, Resistance and Compromise, 90-108; and Walsham, Church Papists, 50-99. Walsham takes special pains to defend the “church papists” (those believing Catholics who conformed to the statutes for attending Protestant religious services) from what she considers the contempt of their contemporaries and of their historians.
[58]. A Treatise of the Images of Christ and of His Saints, quoted in Zagorin, Ways of Lyiing, 138.
[59]. See An Apologie against the Defence of Schisme, cited in Zagorin, Ways of Lying, 148.
[60]. Villains like the queen herself. On one of her progresses in 1578, she was entertained near Thetford at the house of Edward Rookwood, “who had recently come of age, and was newly married.” At her leave-taking, the host “was admitted in the usual course to kiss Her Majesty’s hand: no sooner had he done so than the Lord Chamberlain bade him stand aside . . . , charged him with being a resusant, who was unfit to be in the presence, much less touch the sacred person of his sovereign.” Mr. Rookwood was taken away to Norwich and imprisoned. See Augustus Jessopp, One Generation of a Norfolk House, 67-8.
[61]. William Weston: An Autobiography, 149-51.
[62].  Roe, ed., The Poems, 162n.
[63]. See Roe, ed., The Poems, 32.
[64]. See Kahn, Lucrece, 52-3; Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 50-52.
[65]. Cf. Southwell’s language in An Humble Supplication, 44; supra.
[66]. The City of God, 1.19. See Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia,  chapter 2.
[67]. Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia, 26-7.
Epistle of Comfort                                                 Lucrece
          127v:                                                                   233-40:
          Consider the tender and softe Virgins, who            . . . these pretty creatures stand,
          being timorous by kinde, and frayle by Sexe,         Like ivory conduits coral cesterns filling,
          have neverthelesse . . . altered their female           Their gentle sex to weep are often willing,
          relenting hartes, into unfearful and hardye              .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
          valoure; 148r: Ivorye;                                           For men have marble, women waxen minds
          135v: marble . . . waxe


[69]. See Holmes, Resistance and Compromise, 90-4. Questier, in Catholicism and Community, discusses in great detail the complex, far from uniform, and sometimes perplexing religious principles of the first and second viscounts Montagu and their families, which allowed them to survive as well as most openly Catholic aristocrats could in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, while remaining in their special ways constant  in their faith.
[70]. Gregory Martin, A Treatise of Schisme; Nicholas Sander, A Treatise of the Images of Christ; quoted in Zagorin, Ways of Lying, 158.

Copyright © John Klause 2013.