‘WHAT FAME IS THIS?’ JOHN DAVIES’S EPIGRAMMES IN LATE ELIZABETHAN LONDON (SUSANNA HOP, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK) On 1 June 1599 John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard Bancroft, Bishop of London, issued a comprehensive list of secular literature to be banned with immediate effect. Three days later, on 4 June, a number of the works on the list were publicly burned in London. Among the books on the original list, as well as on the list of burned books, is a tiny volume initially referred to as ‘Davyes Epigrams, with marlowes Elegyes’.1 Some scholarly attention has been given to this puzzling volume of verse, although traditionally scholarship has tended to focus more prominently on Christopher Marlowe’s translated elegies than on the satire of John Davies, especially with regard to the supposed pornographic content of most of the works on the Bishops’ Ban.2 Richard McCabe, however, has argued This essay was first presented as a paper (summarising my undergraduate dissertation) at the ‘Gloriana’s Rule: The Life, Literature and Culture of Elizabethan England’ conference, University of Porto, Portugal, June 2003. I would like to thank Katherine Duncan-Jones, Lisa Hopkins and Carol Rutter for their helpful contributions. Also I am grateful to the editors, Jayne Archer and Sarah Knight, for their suggestions for revision in adapting the paper into essay form. 1 A Transcript of the Register of the Company of stationers of London, 1554-1640, vol. 2, ed. by Edward Arber (London, 1875-94); Records of the Stationers’ Company: 1576 to 1602 – from Register B, ed. by W. W. Greg and E. Boswell (London, 1930); see also Richard A. McCabe, ‘Elizabethan Satire and the Bishops’ Ban of 1599’, Yearbook of English Studies 2 (1981), p. 188; Cyndia Susan Clegg, Press Censorship in Elizabethan England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 198-218. The preferred early edition of the volume is [John Davies and Christopher Marlowe], Epigrammes and Elegies. By I. D. and C. M. (np, nd), BL C.34.a.28. 2 There is neither a book length study of the volume itself, nor a modern edition – although both parts have been edited separately: Christopher Marlowe, The Complete Works, vol. 1, ed. by Roma Gill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987); John Davies, The Poems, ed. by Robert Krueger (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975); for perspectives on the volume, see J. M. Nosworthy, ‘The Publication of Marlowe’s Elegies and Davies’s Epigrams’, Review of English Studies, ns, 4 (1953), pp. 260-61; Ian Frederick Moulton, ‘‘Printed Abroad and Uncastrated’: Marlowe’s Elegies and Davies’ Epigrams’, in Paul Whitfield White (ed.), Marlowe, History, and Sexuality: New Critical Essays on Christopher Marlowe (New York: AMS Press, 1998), pp. 77-90; Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (London: Vintage, 2002), pp. 449-53; for perspectives on the Bishops’ Ban, see McCabe, ‘Elizabethan Satire’; Clegg, Press Censorship, pp. 198-218; Lynda E. Boose, ‘The 1599 Bishops’ Ban, Elizabethan Pornography, and the Sexualization of the Jacobean Stage’, in Richard Burt and John Michael Archer (eds), Enclosure Acts: Sexuality, Property, and Culture in Early Modern England (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 185-200; Jonathan Bate, convincingly for the predominantly satirical nature of most of the works, and therefore has shifted the focus from Marlowe’s elegies to Davies’s epigrams as the prime reason for the book’s appearance on the ban. In this essay I would like to follow McCabe’s lead and look at the volume from the point of view of John Davies and his epigrams, as this exercise has important implications for the origins and dating of the volume. Three different early editions of this publication are extant, all referred to by their first owners’ surnames. Two of these (the Bindley and the Isham editions) are nearly identical, with the one seeming to be a resetting of the other. The third (the Mason) is an expanded edition. Concerning the two related editions, the Bindley and the Isham, scholarship is at this point mostly agreed that one of these is the first edition.3 Their respective title pages give as a title Epigrammes and Elegies by J.D. and C.M, but apart from that they only inform us that they were printed ‘At Middleborough’, which is presumably Middelburg in the Dutch province of Zeeland. Both the Isham and the Bindley contain forty-eight epigrams by John Davies, three anonymous poems, and ten elegies by Marlowe, which are part of his translations of Ovid’s Amores. The expanded Mason edition has a different title, namely All Ovids Elegies. The order is also different, since it begins with forty-eight elegies from Marlowe’s hand, an additional translation of one of the Amores by Ben Jonson, and finally the forty-eight epigrams by Davies. The order in which the Bindley and the Isham appeared is still disputed. There are two camps, with the first basing its argument on manuscript evidence. This theory favours the Bindley as the earlier edition, and is championed by Roma Gill and Robert Krueger.4 The second theory is deeply rooted in the bibliographical, textual and typographical study of Fredson Bowers, and favours the Isham edition.5 For the purposes of this essay I have followed Bowers’ line and treated the Isham as the first edition, for the simple reason that the manuscript used in the print shop is no longer extant, and thus manuscript-based argumentation is necessarily more speculative than comparison between two extant printed editions.6 Shakespeare and Ovid (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 32; Hannah Betts, ‘ ‘The Image of this Queene so quaynt’: The Pornographic Blazon 1588-1603’, in Julia M. Walker (ed.), Dissing Elizabeth: Negative Representations of Gloriana (Durham NC and London: Duke University Press, 1998). 3 Bindley (STC 6350): BL C34.a.28; Pforzheimer collection; Isham (STC 6350 [wrongly identified with the Bindley]): Huntington Library 59002; Mason (STC 18931): BOD Mason AA 207. 4 Roma Gill and Robert Krueger, ‘The Early Editions of Marlowe’s Elegies and Davies’s Epigrams: Sequence and Authority’, The Library, 36 (1971), pp. 242-49. 5 Fredson Bowers, ‘The Early Editions of Marlowe’s Ovid’s Elegies’, Studies in Bibliography, 25 (1972), pp. 149-72. 6 One thing that most scholars who have worked on this volume – including Krueger, Gill and Bowers – agree on is that the Middleborough imprint on the Isham, as well as on the other editions, is false. It seems to me that at the moment only Charles Nicholl, in his Virtually all of Davies’s printed epigrams were in manuscript circulation by the mid-1590s. One manuscript, Bodleian MS. Rawlinson Poetry 212, features a short introductory paragraph informing the reader that its epigrams were finished, or rather ‘calculated’, by November 1594. Another ends its sequence with ‘finis. 95’. It has been suggested that the latter manuscript collection, referred to as the Leweston Fitzjames (BOD MS. Add. B. 97), was in either direct or very close relationship to the manuscript/s used for printing. The collection is named after its compiler, who entered John Davies’s Middle Temple in November 1594, four-and-a-half years after Davies. According to Krueger, this was around the time that the first collection of the epigrams was in the process of composition.7 Fitzjames’s commonplace book, compiled some time after 1595, contains forty-three epigrams appearing in a nearly identical order to that of the printed editions, and contains material that does not appear in the other manuscript families. It is Krueger’s belief that Fitzjames had had access to Davies’s own papers, as some of the usages in the sequence stand out from other material in his commonplace book, such as, for example, the way the date is recorded: Fitzjames always uses the full four digits to indicate a year, except in the Davies material, where he just writes ‘95’.8 Fitzjames’ commonplace book also contains the unpublished, and probably unique text of Davies’ Epithalamion and an early version of his Orchestra. It is thus a rich and reliable source of Davies material. Of the six known manuscript collections,9 two contain dates that seem to situate the completion of the printed epigrams in the period November 1594 – 1595. The other manuscripts post-date publication, but seem to be derived solely from the pre-publication manuscripts. The Leweston Fitzjames commonplace book may well reflect John Davies’s own presentation manuscript(s), in the sense that the sequence of the commonplace book is so near to that of the printed edition. This, however, presupposes that Davies intended publication, and leads to the conclusion that the publication revised edition of The Reckoning: the Murder of Christopher Marlowe (pp. 449-52), holds onto the provenance of Epigrammes and Elegies as Middelburg, since this fits in with his biography of Christopher Marlowe. He places Marlowe in the Zeeland area in the early spring of 1592, when he was arrested for counterfeiting, and links this with Davies’s short period at Leiden University in the autumn of the same year. Therefore, their works in manuscript must have, through some intermediary, met in the Netherlands, and the volume been decided upon then and there. The dating of the Isham as 1592 is impossibly early, for a number of reasons, which will shortly become clear. Instead, the common consensus has been to approximate a date of around 1595–1596, mostly because of topical references in the epigrams, and through the dating of those manuscripts that appear to be in the stemma leading to publication 7 Robert Krueger, ‘Sir John Davies: Orchestra Complete, Epigrams, Unpublished Poems’, Review of English Studies, ns, 13 (1962), pp. 17-28. 8 Robert Krueger (ed.), The Poems, pp. 378-9. 9 The other four manuscript collections are: BL Harley MS 1836; Folger MS V.a.399; Rosenbach MS 1086; CL MS Kk.1.3. coincided with, or came soon after, the composition of the copy owned by Leweston Fitzjames. Krueger and Gill, as well as J. M. Nosworthy in earlier articles, strengthen this hypothesis of a c.1595 publication date with the topicality argument.10 The epigrams, they observe, are saturated with the contemporary zeitgeist of Davies’s social surroundings. Davies’s satire is basically aimed at the behavioural patterns of people in and around the Inns of Court. He writes about his fellow Templars’ vices and follies, such as social pretentiousness, stupidity, lasciviousness, gambling at the cockpit, visiting stews, and being thrown into the debtors’ prison. Several of the epigrams even refer directly to topical affairs, such as ‘In Titum. 6’: Titus the brave and valorous young gallant, Three yeeres together in this towne hath beene, Yet my lord Chauncellors tombe he hath not seene: Nor the New water worke, nor the Elephant. I cannot tell the cause without a smile, He hath beene in the Counter all the while.11 The ‘Lord Chauncellors tombe’ was that of Sir Christopher Hatton (15401591), and is a monument in St Paul’s Cathedral dating from 1591. The ‘New Water worke’ was an engine made around 1594 to convey Thames water into the middle and west parts of the City. The ‘three yeeres’ of the second line are thus the three years between the building of the tomb and the beginning of the water engine in 1594. Another epigram used for the purposes of dating is ‘In Afrum. 40’: The smell feast Afer Travailes to the Burse Twice every day the flying newes to heare, Which when he hath no money in his purse, To rich mens Tables he doth often beare: He tels how Gronigen is taken in, By the brave conduct of illustrious Vere: And how the Spainish forces Brest would win, But that they do Victorious Norris feare. No sooner is a ship at Sea surprisde, But straight he learnes the newes and doth disclose it, No sooner hath the Turke a plot devisde To conquer Christendom, but straight he knows it, Faire written in a scrowle he hath the names, of all the widowes which the plague hath made, And persone, Times and places, still he frames, To every Tale, the better perswade: 10 J. M. Nosworthy, ‘The Publication of Marlowe’s Elegies and Davies’s Epigrams’, Review of English Studies, ns, 4 (1953), pp. 260-61; Gill and Krueger, ‘Editions, The Library, pp. 242-49. 11 All references to Davies’s epigrams are taken from Krueger’s edition, The Poems of John Davies. We cal him Fame, for that the wide-mouth slave Will eate as fast as he wil utter lies: For Fame is saide an hundreth mouthes to have, And he eates more then woulde five score suffice. Groningen was ‘taken in’ on 6 July 1594. The victory of Sir John Norris over the Spanish forces near the harbour of Brest took place in November of that year. These poems are just two examples of topical epigrams, and they both happen to relate to 1594. Nosworthy, as well as Krueger, concluded that the printed edition must have followed very soon after the composition of these poems and the consequent compilation of the ‘printable’ manuscripts, otherwise the strength of the references would have been lost. This sounds plausible, were it not that it was rather common for work to remain in manuscript circulation for years, no matter how topical its contents. A good example is the publication in 1660 of Benjamin Rudyerd’s account of the 1597/8 Middle Temple Christmas Revels, in which Davies’ famous attack on his friend Richard Martin is recorded.12 Preserving topicality is thus not watertight evidence for a mid-1590s publication of Epigrammes and Elegies. As mentioned previously, the printed editions contain forty-eight epigrams, of which most circulated in manuscript before publication. One detail that advocates of a 1595-6 publication haven’t yet taken into account is that the last two epigrams of the sequence, 47 and 48, appear in none of the surviving manuscripts. They only appear in the printed text. Together with the first two epigrams, which do appear in all manuscripts, and always as the first two, epigrams 47 and 48 form a framework for, and a mirroring pattern around, the printed sequence. I will therefore term these four the ‘Framing epigrams’. The symmetry of these Framing epigrams, which is reflected in the fact that epigrams 1 (‘Ad Musam’) and 48 (‘Ad Musam’), and 2 (‘Of a Gull’) and 47 (‘Meditations of a Gull’), are paired, points towards design, and in this case towards design by the author, since there are not only titular similarities (which could well have been editorial) but also parallels in content. This suggests that by the time Davies wrote epigrams 47 and 48 he was composing with publication in mind. The notion of a framework surrounding the sequence is never really suggested in the manuscripts, although the opening two epigrams of the printed edition are also always the opening epigrams in the manuscripts. AD MUSAM.1 Flie merry Muse unto that merry towne, Where thou mayst playes, revels, and triumphes see, The house of fame, and Theatre of renowne, Where all good wits and spirits love to be. 12 Cf. Benjamin Rudyerd’s account, Le Prince D’Amour or the Prince of Love (London, 1660); P. J. Finkelpearl, ‘Sir John Davies and the ‘Prince D’Amour’’, Notes and Queries, 208 (1963), pp. 300-1. Fall in betwene their hands, that praise and love thee, And be to them a laughter and a jest: But as for them which scorning shall reproove thee, Disdayne their wits, and thinke thyne owne the best. But if thou finde any so grose and dull, That thinke I do to privat Taxing leane: Bid him go hang, for he is but a gull, And knowes not what an Epigramme doth meane: Which Taxeth under a particular name, A generall vice that merits publique blame. ‘Ad Musam. 1’ serves as a preface to the sequence. The poet does not only invoke poetic inspiration by calling upon the muse, but he uses the muse as a metaphor for his own poetic work, and specifically for the collection of epigrams the poem precedes and introduces. The poem makes use of this conventional conceit with joking arrogance and self-assured playfulness, as is apparent in the muse/manuscript and circulation metaphor, where the poet sets his ‘merry’ work free into London society, hoping that it will fall into the right hands. If not, he warns his muse to ‘disdayne their wits, and thinke thyne owne the best.’ The sense of possible disapproval of his work is developed more strongly in the final six lines, where he anticipates that the ‘gross and dull’ will condemn the author of the epigrams for attacking specific characters. He seems to dismiss this practice himself by saying that such people ‘knowe not what an Epigramme doth meane’, but then cleverly includes a reference to the practice in his definition of the genre: ‘Which Taxeth under a particular name, / a generall vice that merits publique blame.’ This is striking for the particular moral stance it takes: namely, that there is a set of wrongs that need to be judged severely in public, which gives these epigrams, often described as social satire, a rather more judgmental and moralising perspective. AD MUSAM. 48 Peace idle muse, have done, for it is time, Since lowsie Ponticus envies my fame, And sweares the better sort are much to blame To make me so wel knowne for so ill rime: Yet Bankes his horse is better knowne then he, So are the Cammels and the westerne hog, And so is Lepidus his printed dogge: Why doth not Ponticus their fame envie? Besides, this muse of mine, and the blacke fether, Grew both together fresh in estimation, And both growne stale, were cast away togither: What fame is this that scarse lasts out a fashion? Onely this last in credit doth remaine, That from henceforth, ech bastard cast forth rime Which doth but savour of a Libel vaine, Shal call me father, and be thought my crime. So dull and with so litle sence endude, Is my grose headed judge, the multitude. The companion poem to ‘Ad Musam. 1’, ‘Ad Musam. 48’, is nothing if not enigmatic. In comparison with the vibrant, strong and arrogant ‘Ad Musam. 1’, this second epigram is bitter, desperate and spiteful. Instead of the muse being praised for her flight to the merry town of London, this time she, now ‘idle’ and no longer ‘merry’ – is told to rest and ‘have done’. One ‘Ponticus’ is envious of Davies’s fame, and jealously claims that it must be because his poetry is read by ‘the better sort’ that the ‘ill rime’ has gained such a favourable reputation. Davies deals with the challenge by demonstrating that Ponticus is himself a nobody: even performing animals are more famous than he. The final line of this section reveals the despair of the author: ‘why doth not Ponticus their fames envie?’. This line suggests hurt and disbelief – the poet cannot understand why specifically he is the target of Ponticus’s envy. This feeling is starkly expressed three lines later, when the poet asks ‘what fame is this that scarse lasts out a fashion?’. His fame is like the fad of the ‘blacke fether’: it has ‘growne stale’, and was ‘cast away togither’. The poem thus suggests that at the time of its composition Davies’s fame as an epigrammatist was already waning. The only credit that remains his is the sarcastic notion that ‘ech bastard cast forth rime […] shal call me father, and be thought my crime.’ These two epigrams clearly reveal a dramatic shift in tone by the poet. He starts off the sequence with an arrogant, impudent, and mischievous air and dismisses any possible criticism of his methods by employing a defiant, confident stance. Davies finishes the sequence by creating a sense of incredulous disillusionment. He presents himself as hurt and offended by the very criticism to which he so sharply and happily retorted in ‘Ad Musam. 1’. There is thus a shift detectable between the early Davies, confidently choosing a subject to satirise, and a later Davies, himself the object of satire. The tone of this final epigram is not in harmony with the bulk of the sequence, which was written approximately between 1590 and 1595. Indeed, when we consider the biographical and social circumstances of Davies in relation to ‘Ad Musam. 48’, this epigram becomes the key which enables us to suggest a later date of composition for the very last epigram of the sequence, and thus for the date of publication of the earliest printed edition. The composition, circulation and publication of the epigrams all occurred while Davies was a member of the Middle Temple. He had entered the Inns of Court in early 1589, and by 1595 he had already been called to the bar – with unusual speed, when compared to the academic careers of his fellow Templars.13 At the same time, he had also rapidly acquired a reputation 13 Krueger (ed.), Poems, xxiii-xlvii. for scandalous and extravagant behaviour, since he was cautioned several times for rioting during Candlemas along with a number of his associates. He was part of a lively circle of people who frequented the Inns, and his epigrams circulated among them.14 The bulk of the epigrams consist of what I have termed ‘Revels epigrams’, as they embody the spirit of P. J. Finkelpearl’s description of the Middle Temple revels at Christmas time: The sexual mores that pervade the Prince d’Amour’s kingdom are nearly identical with those we find in Donne’s libertine elegies and in some Jacobean private theatre comedy; it is a world of amoral women, cuckolds, aphrodisiacs, whores, and venereal disease, a world where the right true end of love is in the maximum number of female conquests.15 To these concerns, the epigrams introduce the moral tone of the poet, who satirises the people engaged in this way of living. Davies pokes fun at the very people and at the very circles that he wanted to inhabit. The readership of the epigrams became aware of this duality, as many contemporaries of Davies refer to his work in rather negative terms. Quite soon the ‘English Martial’ was ridiculed by Everard Guilpin - whose work also appeared on the Bishops’ Ban - who wrote of Davies as a man ‘who selfe conceitedly Thinkes al men guls, ther’s none more gull then he.’16 Davies’s old school friend at Winchester, Thomas Bastard, wrote an epigram about the popular link between John Heywood, the previous generation’s epigrammatist, and Davies: Heywood goes downe saith Davie, sikerly, And down he goes, I can it not deny. But were I happy, did not fortune frowne. Were I in heart, I would sing Davy downe.17 In general terms, then, Davies’ reputation was uncertain, but it reached a new and definitive low point with the 1597-98 Middle Temple Christmas Revels. The most notorious incident to come out of the Revels was Davies’s violent attack on Richard Martin – a fellow Templar to whom Davies had previously dedicated his Orchestra (1596) with a rather suggestive poem – and his consequent expulsion.18 The incident took place on 9 February 1598, a week after the Revels had ended. Davies entered the dining hall and, walking up to Martin, hit him over the head and escaped. It has been suggested that 14 For example, the future Recorder of London, Richard Martin; fellow epigrammatists Benjamin Rudyerd, John Owen, John Hoskins; future biographer of John Donne, John Wotton. 15 P. J. Finkelpearl, John Marston of the Middle Temple: An Elizabethan Dramatist in His Social Setting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), p. 56. 16 Everard Guilpin, Skialetheia or A shadowe of Truth, in certaine Epigrams and Satyres (London, 1598), A6V. 17 Thomas Bastard, Chrestoleros. Seuen bookes of Epigrames written by T B (London, 1598), D2V. 18 Krueger (ed.), Poems, p. 89. Davies was taking revenge for what Finkelpearl called ‘a literary quarrel or one of Martin’s cruel jests.’19 This quarrel or jesting would have had its origins in the period between 24 December 1597 and 2 February 1598, when the Temple was the domain of its version of the Lord of Misrule, and its weeks of entertainments, mock arraignments, comedies and gambling. The scene for that year’s particular Revels has been described by Robert Parker Sorlien in his edition of the diary of John Manningham as including ‘some of the vivid personalities, the boon companions, of the age’, and Sorlien suggests that among them ‘the art of banter and a talent for clever expression were assiduously, if informally, cultivated’.20 Benjamin Rudyerd no doubt contributed strongly to that impression, with his highly coloured and subjective account of those Revels. He persists in using the descriptive pseudonyms for his fellow Templars that were coined during the festivities. Upon Davies fell the dubious honour of being referred to as Stradilax: the verb ‘to straddle’ was a direct reference to Davies’s famous waddling gait, due to the size of his bottom.21 Le Prince D’Amour records how it was one ‘Matagonias’ who coined the name, and since John Manningham’s diary ascribes the waddling gait/large bottom description to Rudyerd, it may well be that Rudyerd himself was in fact Matagonias.22 Rudyerd also describes how Stradilax was keen on becoming the Lord of Misrule during the proceedings (at the Temple the title of the Lord of Misrule was ‘Le Prince D’Amour), but it was awarded to ‘Sir Martino’, Richard Martin, instead. Three days after Martin’s accession Davies gave an impromptu performance in which he declared himself Lord anyway. Judging by this self-proclamation, he must have been desperate to show that it was only he who could justifiably lead his companions in misrule and the accustomed worldly cynicism. Rudyerd’s Prince D’Amour also lists a number of literary and creative blunders by Davies – one being described as ‘so bad, that the meanest Wit would not undertake to bring them in.’23 Apart from his Prince D’Amour, a couple of Benjamin Rudyerd’s epigrams also refer scathingly to Davies, this time under the pseudonym of ‘Mathon’. At one point, Rudyerd writes, ‘Beleeue me matho when I speake the 19 Finkelpearl, ‘Prince D’Amour’, Notes and Queries, p. 301. Robert Parker Sorlien (ed.), The Diary of John Manningham of the Middle Temple (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1976), pp. 393-94. 21 There is no modern edition available of Le Prince D’Amour. For this essay, I have used secondary material by Finkelpearl, Marston, pp. 48-61; Finkelpearl, ‘Prince D’Amour’, Notes and Queries, pp. 300-2; Krueger (ed.), Poems, xxxiii-xxxvii. 22 ‘Matagonias’ has to my knowledge unfortunately not been positively identified. A possibility is that the name was coined along the same lines as matamore (a poltroon, a swagger, a bobadil), which is derived from the Spanish ‘matar-Moros’ (a slayer of Moors): see Betty Kirkpatrick (ed.), Brewer’s Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Oxford: Helicon, 2000), p. 657; cf. matador, from matar ‘kill’. –gonias could possibly be a classicised form of gony, ‘simpleton’ (c. 1580), which would make Matagonias a slayer of simpletons. 23 Finkelpearl, Marston, p. 53. 20 truth / thy stuff is made so ill it will not sell’. Rudyerd obviously saw no future in the literary field for Davies. All these examples indicate a serious undermining of Davies’s reputation during the time of the Revels, and especially following the assault on Martin.24 Briefly returning to ‘Ad Musam. 48’, it is worth placing the poem in its biographical context. Firstly, the character of Ponticus, the source of the poet’s anguish and spite, could well find its source in Benjamin Rudyerd. If this is true then together with the subject matter of most of the other poems, this epigram also refers to Middle Temple sentiments. In the light of Davies’s loss of face in that institution, the following lines also acquire added significance: This muse of mine, and the blacke fether, Grew both together fresh in estimation, And both grown stale, were cast away togither: What fame is this that scarce lasts out a fashion? One of the conclusions of reading this epigram in this way is that it cannot have been written for a 1595 publication of the Epigrammes and Elegies. In 1595 Davies was in many ways at the height of his popularity at the Temple. Linking the epigram to the events surrounding the 1597/98 Revels and the attack on Martin situates it in a period between 9 February 1598 and the Bishops’ Ban of 1 June 1599; the first edition of Epigrammes and Elegies can similarly be assigned to the same period, which puts the Epigrammes and Elegies more in line with the rest of the books on the Bishops’ Ban, all published in London around 1598. What this proposition renders problematic, however, are the circumstances surrounding the first printed edition. A crucial question is why was the edition printed anonymously? Closely related to that point is the matter of the imprint of Middleborough. If we assume that Davies did not add the final epigrams of the printed sequence until after the end of the Middle Temple Revels, then the printing process would have taken place at a time when Davies was an unpopular man in London literary and Templar circles, which suggests that the person initiating the publication was Davies himself. But where do the Marlowe elegies and the Middleborough link come from? Taking the last question first, using Middleborough as a false imprint was a natural move for somebody seeking to cover his tracks, since Middelburg in the south-west of the Low Countries was in close proximity to English-governed towns like Vlissingen and Briel, and was the site of a thriving printing industry. The well-known Dutch printer Richard Schilders set up shop there in 1579 after years of working in London; he was to print 24 James L. Sanderson, ‘Epigrames p[er] B[enjamin] R[udyerd] And Some More ‘Stolen Feathers’ of Henry Parrot’, Review of English Studies, 17 (1966), p. 254. large numbers of theological tracts by English Puritans. Apart from Schilders, the number of printers in Middelburg grew substantially in the late 1580s, making it possible for them to form a guild on 18 August 1590.25 I have not examined the typographical evidence of the editions in question myself, and have accepted the weight of scholarly opinion that it is more likely that the editions were printed in Britain than in Middelburg.26 Seeing the publication in the light of the events surrounding Davies in the Middle Temple Revels of 1597/98, his faltering reputation as a writer in manuscript circulation, and his highly ambitious nature, a quick and anonymous publication in London is a possible motive behind this mysterious imprint. As at least one of the manuscript collections testifies, Davies’s epigrams were strongly identified with the Inns of Court: the manuscripts’ introduction to the epigrams refers to Davies as being from Gray’s Inn.27 As I have noted, the tone and content of the printed epigrams share a likeness with the mores of the Middle Temple festivities. The imprint ‘At Middleborough’ could just as well be a pun on Middle Temple or even a double entendre, since Middleborough was also a euphemism for a woman’s ‘nether-regions’ or ‘Low Countries’.28 For this Middleborough /Middle Temple connection to work, the edition need not literally have been printed at the premises of the Middle Temple. The presence of Middleborough on the title page could reflect the origins of the publication, as well as giving it a flavour of piracy, which would fit well with Davies’ public persona. If the central hypothesis of this argument is correct, namely that the volume in the form we have it was a response to Davies’ immediate circumstances at the beginning of 1598, then we are compelled to ask why and how some of Marlowe’s elegies were attached to Davies’ epigrams. This dilemma has usually been approached by questioning the pairing of Davies with Marlowe,29 but taking into account internal and contextual evidence, and by focusing on Ovid rather than Marlowe, a whole range of different 25 P. J. Meertens, Letterkundig Leven in Zeeland in de Zestiende en de Eerste Helft van de Zeventiende Eeuw (Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1943), pp. 418-19. 26 Following the detailed work of Fredson Bowers, Roma Gill and Robert Krueger. 27 This is BOD MS Rawl. Poet. 212, which introduces the epigrams with the following: ‘English Epigrammes much like Buckminsters Almanacke servinge for all England, but especially for ye meridian of ye honorable cittye of London calculated by Iohn Davis of Grayes Inne gentleman Ano 1594 in November.’ 28 Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature (London: Atlantic Highlands, 1994); Williams mostly notes early seventeenthcentury occurrences, but the term may well have been in use before the turn of the century. 29 Cf. Millar Maclure (ed.), The Revels Edition of the Works of Christopher Marlowe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980), xxxi; Fredson Bowers (ed.), The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 309; Charles Nicholl, “At Middleborough’: Some Reflections on Marlowe’s visit to the Low Countries in 1592’, in Darryll Grantley and Peter Roberts (eds.), Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture (Aldershot: Scolar, 1996), pp. 38-51. possibilities are opened up. Of course, this does not mean that the two are mutually exclusive, but rather that the choice for Marlowe lay in the fact that he specifically decided to be the first Englishman to translate and publish the Amores. If it is true that the origins of the Epigrammes and Elegies lie in the Middle Temple, it follows that the presence of the Elegies can also be related to the nature of the Middle Temple Revels. Apart from the licentious rakery and rebelliousness of the Revels, which is reflected in the bulk of Davies’ epigrams, Benjamin Rudyerd’s Le Prince D’Amour records the Revels’ codes of courtship and lovemaking: Rudyerd shifts from describing the behaviour of the Petrarchan lover to the observance of the form of manners described in ‘laudable discourses of Love’ like Ovid’s Ars Amatoria.30 Taking this emphasis on Ovidian love together with that devil-may-care rakish bravado rampant during the celebrations held at the Inns of Court, a structure becomes visible that seems to be wholly reflected in the set-up of the Epigrammes and Elegies. Roma Gill noted in her edition of Marlowe’s work how for ‘subsequent English poets, the Elegies introduced a new tone - a declared attitude to sexual love that was very far from the idealized lyricism of Petrarch.’31 Gill’s description shows how Marlowe’s translation can be linked with the demand at the Middle Temple Revels for more Ovidian-styled lyricism in both art and performance over old-fashioned Petrarchism. My hypothesis is that the idea for Epigrammes and Elegies came into being during or most probably after the Middle Temple Revels in 1597-98, when Ovidian eroticism and epigrams ‘fully as licentious as the jokes in the revels’32 were what the revelling Templars demanded, and Davies was still boldly struggling to maintain dignity within his circle. The actual process, however, was not started until after the Revels, when Davies wrote his final epigram. This theory accounts for the two apparently conflicting sides of the publication: on the one hand, the edition reflects the structure, texture, and nature of the Middle Temple Revels, and may therefore have been prompted by Middle Templars at a time when dealings with Davies were still reasonably manageable; on the other hand, there is the disillusionment visible in ‘Ad Musam. 48’, which actually points more in the direction of what now would be termed as vain ‘self-promotion’. John Davies had somehow seriously lost face during the Revels and become a laughing stock at several occasions; he had been ridiculed by fellow epigrammatists for his arrogance, and had ultimately been expelled from the Inns of Court. Having his work appear in print may well have served the double purpose of getting his revenge, and regaining his dignity. Whatever motives lay behind its publication, and although it was produced anonymously, the fact remains that little over a year after publication the slim Isham edition, and possibly already even the Bindley 30 Rudyerd, Le Prince, p. 57; Finkelpearl, Marston, p. 57. Roma Gill (ed.), The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, vol. 1, p. xii. 32 Finkelpearl, Marston, p. 72. 31 edition, appeared alongside a number of other satirical and licentious works on a list ordering the works to be burned within three days. Susanna Hop is in her first year of doctoral research at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance. Susanna’s thesis, which is provisionally entitled ‘Participation, (Moral) Reform and Authority in Late Elizabethan England’, will explore the relationship between ideas of reform in Puritan treatises, satirical and Ovidian poetry, and authoritarian impulses, including censorship. Susanna will focus on the writings of John Rainolds, Edward Hext, and Sir Francis Knollys, John Marston, Thomas Nashe, Christopher Marlowe, and John Donne.