What? This is the archive of my commonplace book, gathering flowers of eloquence (and pictures) from my teaching, research, and reading.
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Late humanism conference
Posted 12 February 07
Late humanism and political ideology in northern Europe, 1580-1620
10-11 July 2007
University of Cambridge: Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and Trinity College; supported by the British Academy and the George Macaulay Trevelyan Fund.
This conference is concerned with the manifestations of what has been called 'late', 'Tacitean', 'pragmatic' and 'neo-stoic' humanism. Click for full description, provisional programme, and registration info.
Speakers include Daniel Andersson, David Colclough, Anthony Grafton, Harro Hopfl, Jill Kraye, Brian Ogilvie, Markku Peltonen, Jennifer Richards, Richard Serjeantson, Alan Shepard, Jacob Soll and Malcolm Smuts. A final round-table discussion will be led by Warren Boutcher and David Norbrook.
New course design
Posted 22 December 06
Facile est inventis addere
Posted 20 October 06
"How few are there who can read Chaucer so as to understand him perfectly! and if imperfectly, then with less profit and no pleasure. ... I have translated some part of his works, only that I might perpetuate his memory, or at least refresh it, amongst my countrymen. If I have alter'd him anywhere for the better, I must at the same time acknowledge that I could have done nothing without him: facile est inventis addere ['It is easy to add to what is already invented.']."
~~ John Dryden, Preface to Fables, Ancient and Modern (1700)
Recreated with change
Posted 12 July 06
"Why should not diverse studies, at diverse houres delight, when the variety is able alone to refresh, and repaire us? As when a man is weary of writing, to reade; and then againe of reading, to write. Wherein, howsoever wee doe many things, yet are wee (in a sort) still fresh to what wee begin: wee are recreated with change, as the stomacke is with meats."
~~ Ben Jonson, Timber: or, Discoveries; Made vpon Men and Matter: As they have flow'd out of his daily Readings; or had their refluxe to his peculiar Notion of the Times.
Posted 15 May 06
How manie great ones may remembred be,
Which in their daies most famouslie did florish;
Of whome no word we heare, nor signe now see,
But as things wipt out with a sponge to perishe,
Because they liuing cared not to cherishe
No gentle wits, through pride or couetize,
Which might their names for ever memorize.
Prouide therefore (ye Princes) whilst ye liue,
That of the Muses ye may friended bee,
Which vnto men eternitie do giue.
Posted 3 April 06
In The Garden of Eloquence (1577), Henry Peacham gathers examples of grammatical and rhetorical figures, from antithesis to zeugma, "out of the most excellent Orators, & best approued authors." Here is my first (seasonal) selection from Peacham's labours, in keeping with my aim in this page. This is from 'Cronographia,' or the rhetorical description of any time "for delectations sake":
Spring. "[T]hat season which bringeth comfort to euerie liuing creature, when the Sunne visiteth the face of the earth with his warme shine, the aire became temperate, fountaines and streames war cleare, pastures greene, when the floures of euery field, & the blossomes of euery tree do present their beautie to the eyes of the beholder, and the new and tender breed of breastes and birds are brought forth & presented to man by the liberall hand of nature, at which time the birds sing, lambes plaie, musicke is heard, youth reioyce, and the hearts of men become more glad:
"[T]his is that time which bringeth calmenesse to the sea, temperature to the aire, beautie to the earth, clearnesse to the firmament, and a comfort to euerie creature."
Posted 1 February 06
But shall I tel thee a tale of truth,
Which I cond of Tityrus in my youth,
Keeping his sheepe on the hils of Kent?
To nought more, Thenot, my mind is bent,
Then to heare nouells of his deuise:
They bene so well thewed, and so wise,
What euer that good old man bespake.
This burning wall glass-thin
Posted 20 January 06
The kings, the saints, the martyrs, painted glass,
Smashing the sunshine into brilliant stains.
The light, transmuted, dyed, is left to pass
Into the aisles, but wind and Autumn rains
Complains behind the silent aura-ring
Of king and saint and martyr on their panes.
The claws of arching stone triumphant cling
To blazing glass, a world that stabs the eyes --
The royal blood, the golden glazes sting.
Eyes closed, the aching heart must realize
That beauty, like this burning wall glass-thin,
Closes out truth -- deceiving points, curves, dyes.
Stained windows can't look out, and don't let in
The naked sunlight. Saints, kings, martyrs creep
Across the day as free of flesh as sin.
Oh, that one could forget, caught in this steep,
Transcendent dazzle of the royal glass,
The sun, wading through pagan fields thigh-deep,
The fragrance of the newly-nibbled grass.
~ ~ C. A. Trypanis, 'Chartres,' from The Stones of Troy (1957)
That furious sulphureous Plot
Posted 4 November 05
"Remember remember the fifth of November | Gunpowder, treason and plot," goes the nursery rhyme, reminding children everywhere of the failed Catholic terrorist plot against Parliament and the royal family on 5 November 1605. This year's quadricentennial has inspired bigger fireworks and a pile of new books [see the TLS or Guardian reviews] not seen since, well, last month's bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar.
What else is worth commemorating from Novembers past? "It would rather fill a Library, then a volume to descend to particulars," said Daniel Price in 1614 (Prince Henry his Second Anniversary, F1r). Price catalogues the calamities that fell in November, from the Flood to the death of his late master Henry, Prince of Wales on 6 November 1612. Fuelling rumours that the prince was poisoned, Price betrays his lingering distrust of Catholics: "O God, ... In the moneth thou diddest preserue vs from that furious sulphureous Plot of our enemies, in the same moneth are wee for our great sorrowes insulted on by our Enemies" (Lamentations for the death of ... Prince Henry, G1v).
Granted, a 393rd anniversary doesn't resonate like a 400th. But lest we forget, in 1613 John Davies of Hereford proposed that Henry's death be commemorated as a "black Death-day" (Mvses-Teares for the losse of ... Henry, C1r). In the afterglow of London's 2012 Olympics, when its quadricentennial rolls around, will anyone remember the sixth of November?
The world hastens on
Posted 23 September 05
"Wyrd biþ swiþre...þonne ænges monnes gehygd." (Fate is stronger...than any man's thought.) Back in 1997 I translated the Old English poem The Seafarer with the aid, admittedly, of a nearby Bosworth & Toller (OE dictionary). There are worse things slouching toward html in my eight-year-old files:
He who embarks onto the sea ever harbours yearning.
The world hastens on: groves take blossoms,
adorn the enclosed city, make beautiful the meadows;
yet all these inspire the heart to venture,
by which the eager of spirit intends to depart,
far over flood-ways..
A million atoms of soft blue
Posted 10 September 05
"The sun had not yet risen. The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually.
" ... Gradually the fibres of the burning bonfire were fused into one haze, one incandescence which lifted the weight of the woollen grey sky on top of it and turned it to a million atoms of soft blue. The surface of the sea slowly became transparent and lay rippling and sparkling until the dark stripes were almost rubbed out. Slowly the arm that held the lamp raised it higher and then higher until a broad flame became visible; an arc of fire burnt on the rim of the horizon, and all round it the sea blazed gold."
~ ~ Virginia Woolf, The Waves (1930)
Dido and Aeneas
Posted 11 July 05
Here are some images for my English 251H (Trent University) class on Henry Purcell & Nahum Tate's opera Dido and Aeneas.
Nathaniel Dance-Holland, "The Meeting of Dido and Aeneas" exhibited 1766
Joseph Mallord William Turner, "Dido building Carthage; or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire" 1815
Turner, "Dido and Aeneas, Leaving Carthage on the Morning of the Chase" 1814