'Receyving of Freendshipe': Senecas de benificiis and early modern amicable relations.
What Stanley's funeral account suggests is the prospect for different formulations of friendship beyond the idealised model that required similitude. Mervyn James proposes 'it is possible that, after the Tudor advent, friendship was increasingly emphasized in the relationship between lordship and affinity', and points out the way that 'good lordship' could lead to such friendship. (6) Accounts of Stanley's treatment of his men, the poor, servants and tenants reflect such a practice. John Stowe recounts Stanley's 'godlye disposition to his tenantes', his generous housekeeping and his final act of gratitude: 'his joyfull parting thys world, his takyng leave of all his servants by shaking of handes, and his remembraunce to the last daye'. (7) Given Stanley's reputation for 'good lordship' the outpouring of emotion at Stanley's graveside may be read as the demonstration of friendship, rather than mere ritualised grief, or the men's insecurity about their futures within the Stanley household. The sadness is conceivably reflective of the final public show of 'fidelity and gratitude' from men who realised great benefit from their friendship with Stanley: that 'special trust, goodwill and favour' that James notes was a measure of a lord's friendship with his dependants. (8)
Stanley's treatment of those of lesser rank and status might also help to account for the size of his elaborate heraldic funeral, for of the more than eight-hundred and thirty persons in attendance there were five-hundred yeomen and one-hundred poor. (9) Significantly, not only was Stanley known for his beneficence to his men and tenants, but also to the poor. If John Stowe's account is correct, this amounted to daily acts of munificence over thirty-five years. (10) Gentlemen like Stanley were often referred to as 'friends of the poore'. (11) While today we would deem someone who was generous a humanitarian, we might not necessarily refer to them as a 'friend'. But this particular idea about friendship had precedence in John Wilkinson's translation of another work that considered amity at the time, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethiques (1547). Here, the ideal is considered, but other formulations are acknowledged, with amity figured as 'the love that ought to bee amongest menne' and expressed as necessitating beneficent behaviour: 'the greater man ought to geve unto the lesse winnyng, & the lesse ought to geve unto the greater honor and reverence'. (12) In the Wilkinson translation the degree of 'amite' differs depending on the nature of one's relationship, and is specifically outlined: 'The amite of kyndred, frendes, neighbours and straungers, is more and lesse accordyng to the diversitie of causes by that whiche one beareth good will unto another. (13) The inclusive amity and Christian sensibility that permeates Wilkinson's explication of Aristotle renders friendship less akin to classical amicitia and rather, nearly indistinguishable from caritas. David Konstan explains that the Greek noun philia, from which Aristotle's idea of amity is translated, is 'commonly rendered as friendship' but that it actually has a more inclusive definition including love (from the verbphilein) and solidarity. (14) This type of amity may indeed have been the type that bound Stanley and his men. So while extant vernacular translations of Aristotle's Ethiques available in the period do not rival those of Cicero's De amicitia, through Wilkinson's translation and earlier Christian exegesis by Thomas Aquinas his ideas entered the discourse. And the influence was felt, as the unnamed translator of the King James Bible noted in 1611: 'the Judgement of Aristotle is worthy and well knowen. (15) It may have been known to Stanley, for John Wilkinson dedicates his translation to him, deeming him 'the Honourable Lorde and Master Edward Earle of Derby', and referring to himself as Stanley's 'humble and obediente servaunte. (16)
As Wilkinson's translation of Aristotle proposes, in early modern England there were many 'faces' of friendship beyond a 'perfecte agreemente with goodwil and hearty love in al matters, both divine and humaine' that did not oblige what Laurie Shannon refers to as the 'social leveling' required by the Ciceronian model's call for similitude. (17) And despite the prominence of Ciceronian thought on friendship, this more extensive and inclusive characterisation of amity was not peculiar to Wilkinson's Ethiques where relationships between God and man, and monarch and subject are figured as friendships. (18) In A Discourse of CivillLife (1606) Lodowick Brysket describes others: 'children to their parents, kinred to kinred, the husband to the wife, and the minds of men of valour & vertue'. (19) They may be, as Brysket terms them, 'accidental! or 'public' types of friendship, but as Stanley's funeral suggests, this does not preclude the possibility of a deeply affective dimension. Although they do not appear to correspond to the Ciceronian exclusive, ideal amity that translations of Cicero proffered, nevertheless they share a similar, defining feature with the ideal: benefit. (20)
The idea of benefit may seem anathema to the lofty principles outlined in translations of De amicitia, but accounts of perfect friendship prevalent at the time emphasised it. (21) Early modern didactic works, literature and translations of classical friendship treatises appealed to a reader's understanding of the symbolism evoked by the names of idealised friendship pairs. Their names were synonymous with constancy and sacrifice, the latter implicitly underscoring what benefit was to be had from such devoted friendship. This was key, and so much so that an exposition of the stories of their friendship infrequently accompanied their names, as they were known mainly for their beneficent acts. Edmund Spenser acknowledged this understanding when he invoked the pairs in The Faerie Queene:
Such were great Hercules, and Hyllus deare; Trew Jonathan, and David trustie tryde; Stout Theses, and Pirithous his feare; Pylades and Orestes by his syde; Myld Titus and Gesippus without pryde; Damon and Pythias whom death could not sever: All these and all that ever had bene tyde, In bands of friendship there did live for ever. (22)
What made the friendships that Spenser cites paradigmatic was the sacrifice that the friends were willing to make for each other. 'Perfect' friendships such as these required constancy demonstrated through Stoic resolve, even in the face of death; the ultimate sacrifice bestowed by one, and the ultimate benefit received by the other. In this way, despite the appeals to the elevated claims of the Ciceronian model that one should not seek friendship for 'profit', the discourse highlighted and forged an inextricable link between friendship and benefit. (23) With benefit acknowledged as a key part of all formulations of friendship, it becomes interesting to examine the ideas on the conventions of giving and receiving in friendship in Seneca's De beneficiis.
Just as early modern translations of Aristotle's Ethiques contribute to an understanding of the possible formulations of friendship and Cicero's De amicitia outlines what the elusive ideal looks like (as well as what it should not resemble), Seneca's work suggests possibilities for the way that friendships were conducted. De beneficiis is not a theoretical exposition that details in full Seneca's philosophy of friendship. This was, it is believed, advanced in his lost treatise, De Amicitia, of which only fragments remain. (24) But the work of Senecan scholars such as Anna Lydia Motto point up that in De beneficiis and the EpistulaeMorales there is much to learn about Seneca's views on friendship. (25) What De beneficiis provides is a discussion on the 'social conventions' of friendship, where friendship is posited as a social act, grounded in ethics and goodwill, but predicated on giving and receiving. (26) As such, De beneficiis contributes in a more practical way, providing advice on the behaviours necessary to maintain amicable bonds.
In many ways, the ideas on giving and friendship forwarded in De beneficiis are quite similar to those proposed by Aristotle and Cicero in their works on friendship. Aristotle's discussion of benefits suggests 'it is a great pleasure when a man hath dooen service to his frendes' and speaks to the idea of 'gevyng and receivyng naturally from hand to hande', while Cicero asserts that 'love is confirmed by benefites received by Goodwyll approved, and by acquaintaunce adjoyned'. (27) Even Wilkinson's translation of Cicero recognises this idea explaining that 'love is confirmed by benefites received'. (28) Yet, Seneca's work remains largely unexplored for its contribution to ideas about conducting friendship, and is mainly described and considered critically as 'the most influential treatise of the Renaissance on gift-giving per se'. (29) Notably, however, David Wootton has read De beneficiis as one of three classical texts that are 'prolonged meditations on friendship'. (30) Overall, Cicero's ideas have received far more attention for their influence in the early modern period than Seneca's, although Seneca's influence was thoughtfully re-considered in Gordon Braden's substantive work, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition (1985). The problem of course is that De beneficiis was not a staple of the English grammar school curriculum as De amicitia was and as such a more indirect link must be drawn between his ideas and their influence on the discourse of friendship.
Men came to be familiar with Seneca's ideas in the early modern period through the works of Erasmus, Thomas Elyot, Justus Lipsius, Michel de Montaigne, Philip Sidney and Francis Bacon. (31) There were three vernacular translations of De beneficiis available at the time: Nicholas Haward's in 1569, Arthur Golding's in 1578, and Thomas Lodge's in 1614. (32) A reading of Arthur Golding's description of the work in his dedicatory epistle gives some indication why the work might have been dismissed as merely a reflection of the early modern patronage culture that existed at the time of the translation. Golding deems it the 'why, how, when, too what ende, and on whom' of benefitting, as well as 'what reward is too bee looked for in the doing of it, and what frute it yeeldeth again'. (33) Significantly, however, the word friendship is invoked throughout-twenty-four times in Lodge's translation and twelve in Golding's. Even so, it is understandable why at first glance the type of friendship that the work is proffering might appear to be that which Aristotle described as being 'for gaines'. (34) G. W. Peterman, commenting on the rather objectionable sense that the work might evoke with some readers, suggests that to some the ideas in De beneficiis may 'smack of bribery'. (35) This makes the work rather easy to dismiss, but the wide gulf between first-century Rome when the work was composed and present-day sensibilities that Peterman points out is one that did not exist between Seneca's Rome and early modern England, as both appreciated the relationship between friendship and benefit. (36)
With this in mind, De beneficiis becomes much more than a first-century version of How to Win Friends and Influence People, especially if read with an understanding of Seneca's philosophy of friendship from his 'Epistle IX' that underpins the work. It stresses the importance of giving in friendship and the way in which this act fosters virtue in the benefactor. Senecan philosophy suggests that a friend should 'not' be sought 'to have some one to assist him when he is sicke, relieve and ransome being in need and captivitie,' but rather, 'to the end to have one for whom I may die, whom I may accompanie in banishment, and for whose life and preservation I may expose my selfe to danger and deathe.' (37) The emphasis here is on giving, not seeking reciprocity or reward in a material sense. At first this seems inconsistent with Seneca's ideas in De beneficiis that endorse reciprocal behaviour, but the Golding and Lodge translations are meant to be practical didactics rather than theoretical treatises for both the benefactor and recipient, outlining how to maintain amicable relations; bonds that Seneca believed were essential and were established through beneficence. (38) And this was precisely what early modern humanists, like Thomas Elyot, also recognised. (39) Anna Lydia Motto explains that in Seneca's philosophy the 'crucial value of friendship' rests on the principle that 'each friend not only perfects himself but also finds the opportunity to assist the other' and what is central to this is that 'love and generosity' drive the relationship rather than expectation of reciprocation and reward. (40) So just because De beneficiis acknowledges that each participant -regardless of their rank or status-has duties that are necessary to maintain the amicable bond, does not mean that its philosophy conflicts with Seneca's idea of beneficent friendship which seeks no reward. Even though the benefactor gives without the expectation of reciprocation, he should receive it, along with gratitude from the recipient. Seneca may have believed that only Stoic sages were capable of such disinterested love in friendship, but he recognised how beneficence could foster amity amongst all men. (41) This view was understood in the early modern period, especially the idea in De beneficiis that gratefulness and beneficence can help to create friendship: 'So is the Law of benefites a most holy law, wherout of sprinketh frendship'. (42) Through the benefit the giver extends friendship and, as such, the act of accepting benefits Golding refers to as 'receyving of freendshipe'. (43)
An example of this idea in practice can be seen in a 1514 letter written by Erasmus to Jakob Wimpfeling in which he discusses his friendship with Matthias Schurer, the Strasbourg printer who published some of his work. In the letter Erasmus reflects on the kindness he has received from the printer. Lisa Jardine characterises the letter as an example of 'a textual gift', as it was included in the second edition of De copia (1514) that Erasmus gives to Schurer to print. (44) It also serves to highlight how a beneficent act may have been viewed as the giving and receiving of friendship. Part of the letter reads:
And so, were I not deeply attached to Matthias. I should rightly be accused of having iron and adamant where my heart should be, such was his initiative in offering by acts of kindness to become my friend. Nor will I act so as to fall short in spirit at least and in readiness, although it was he who began it. (45)
Schurer extended friendship to Erasmus by publishing his work. Erasmus acknowledges that this act of kindness initiated the friendship, and he accepts it, indicating that he is ready to requite it in line with the conventions of beneficent amity. Most importantly, however, the very act of composing the letter and including it in the volume ensures that Erasmus does not appear ungrateful. And this is an idea that is at the heart of Seneca's De beneficiis, as Seneca identified ingratitude as an integral part of the breakdown of friendly relations. His treatise is figured with this as the central concern. At the outset it states that 'amongst so many and mighty vices there is no one more frequent than that of Ingratitude'. (46) In the Lodge translation, ingratitude is posited as the basest act: 'In all times, there will be murtherers, robbers, church breakers, and traitors, and the least of all these is the ungrateful man, except it be that all these are the children of ingratitude.' (47)
Ingratitude (and its negative effect on amicable relations) is also a preoccupying concern taken up by numerous early modern works including didactics, drama, history and literature. The fourth book of the Faerie Queene (Canto IX) addresses the need to avoid this through the giving of gifts at the initiation of friendship, not unlike those Erasmus recognised in his letter detailing the beginning of his friendship with Schurer. Here, true friendship between Campbell and Triamond is sealed by demonstrations of gratitude and munificence:
Then those two knights, fast frendship for to bynd, And love establish each to other trew, Gave goodly gifts, the signes of gratefull mynd, And eke as pledges firme, right hands together joynd. (48)
Although the suggestion that gifts are required to demonstrate fully realised friendship contravenes Ciceronian principles, Spenser suggests that along with gratitude, they serve as symbolic gestures that, for the participants, will mark this relationship as 'true' friendship.
The theme of ungratefulness in friendship finds its way into texts across genres. Calling to mind the examples of ideal friendship pairs, Thomas Blener Hasset suggests that in order to be a grateful friend, one has to be beneficent and sacrifice for one's friend. In his 'Epistle unto his friende' in The Seconde Part of the Mirrour for Magistrates (1578) he claims: 'O singuler ingratitude that any friend should refuse to sweate, to pleasure and profite his friend'. (49) Blener Hasset understands friendship as responding to a friend's needs, despite the cost to one's self. The anonymous Inns of Court play, Timon, (1602-3) registers a similar sense. After his friends refuse to come to his aid, the protagonist says, 'They doe despise their needy friend', and later adds, 'O yee ingratefull have I freed yee from bonds in prison to requite me thus ?' (50) Timon suggests that his friends have been neglectful in their friendly duties, but more importantly, he asserts that the offense the friends are guilty of is ingratitude, rather than false friendship. Timon has extended friendship previously through his beneficence and it was his understanding that reciprocation in his time of need would demonstrate his friends' gratitude for his prior acts of generosity.
In Thomas Elyot's The Boke Named the Governour amity is envisaged as something to prize, and ingratitude as a malevolent force capable of destroying it:
This I truste shal suffise, for the expressynge of that incomparable treasure, called amytie: in the declaration wherof I haue aboden the longer, to the intente to perswade the reders, to enserche therfore vigilantly, and beinge so happy to fynde it, accordinge to the sayde description, to embrace and honour it, abhorrynge above all thynges ingratytude, whiche pestylence hath longe tyme raygned amonge us, augmented by detraction, a corrupte and lothly syckenesse. (51)
Despite Elyot's predilection for Cicero and Plato, he demonstrates a familiarity with Senecan thought, mirroring Seneca's view of the destructive nature of ingratitude in friendship. He chooses the Titus and Gesippus friendship narrative to highlight this and suggests that Gesippus's despair results from Titus's ungratefulness and failure to reciprocate beneficence in friendship:
But moste of all accusynge the ingratitude of Titus, for whom he suffred all that mysery: the remembraunce wherof was so intollerable, that he determined no lenger to lyve in that anguyshe and dolour. (52)
This concern was also fundamental to John Foxe's reworking of the Titus and Gesippus narrative in his Latin play Titus et Gesippus (1544). Although the story of the pair of perfect friends derived from Boccaccio and drew from similar classical precedent of similitude and sacrificial friendship in line with Damon and Pythias and Orestes and Pylades, Foxe complicates the friendship through the introduction of a woman to whom Gesippus is betrothed and with whom Titus is in love. Gesippus's sacrifice in relinquishing Sempronia to his love-sick friend is at the heart of the plot, as is the suffering he experiences because of this beneficent act. Forced into exile, Gesippus's relationships with his father and kinsmen are destroyed because he places his friend's interests above his own. After a long period of separation, Gesippus, in rags, appears in Rome to find that his friend, Titus, no longer recognises him. Gesippus views this as the epitome of thanklessness:
Is this the way you repay your friends for favours, Titus, to refer to them as meddlers when you're ashamed to acknowledge them? Oh the customs, oh the times, what is this perfidy of men? [...] Oh ingratitude! Is there no trustworthiness in human behaviour? (53)
Despite the play's appeal to perfect, sacrificial amity, Gesippus acknowledges that certain behaviour is required in order to maintain the amicable bond, namely expressions of gratitude and recompense. This scene suggests the possible disintegration of a long-term friendship because of a lack of understanding of giving and receiving. Gesippus expects a return for his generosity, and Titus receives without appropriate gratitude and reciprocation. In De beneficiis, Seneca outlines the cause of such a breakdown and the remedy to just such a situation: prevention. He suggests that understanding both the way that a benefit should be given and the way it should be received is paramount to the maintenance and establishment of amicable bonds. (54) In Foxe's play the desired ending is achieved only through this recognition, as Titus finally reciprocates his friend's beneficent act by demonstrating his willingness to sacrifice his life for Gesippus.
Peterman explains that the nature of beneficence is predicated on the benefactor engendering 'the goodwill of the recipient.' (55) And this idea resonates with the final scene of another play of the period, Richard Edwards's Damon and Pythias (1565). Dionysius has been a tyrant, imprisoning Damon on trumped-up charges, but his beneficent act of pardoning Damon, and indeed Pythias, who offered to accept the death penalty in his friend's stead, prompts friendship from the pair. Demonstrating the requisite gratitude, Damon says, 'O Mighty King first, for my life most humble thanks I give', adding, 'For my part, most noble King, as a third friend, welcome to our friendly society.' (56) Friendship is offered through the goodwill engendered by the King's beneficent act. But it is more firmly established only through Damon's reciprocation, namely, his voiced gratitude and his granting the King's acceptance into what was heretofore an exclusive friendship. Pythias follows similarly but his response suggests the additional benefit due to the King for his magnanimous act: a reputation for beneficence. He tells the King: 'For this your deed most noble king, the God's advance your name / [...] / With you will I knit the perfect knot of amity.' (I.244, 245, 248) To perfect friends, Damon and Pythias, Dionysius offered friendship through the life-saving act of sparing the pair and their responses acknowledge an understanding of the need to demonstrate gratitude through reciprocation. As Damon and Pythias's responses acknowledge, however, attending to principles of 'benefiting' requires more than gratitude. The pair's receipt of the benefit of having their lives saved was additionally an act of accepting the King's friendship. (57) And because the pair have nothing else to give him but admission into their friendship, this is what they must offer to the King who requests to be made a 'third friend', even though he is not their social equal. (I.xv.228) Of course the King recognises what rewards are possible from inclusion in such a friendship, and this is at the heart of his request. Refusing his request would prove Damon and Pythias to be ungrateful. In granting it, however, Damon and Pythias must contravene certain tenets of amicitia perfecta: cultivation over time and discernment of a prospective friend's virtue (which in Dionysius's case has been a rather recent development in his transformation from tyrant). It also would require that they abandon their heretofore exclusive amity. In a play whose protagonists are written to enact Ciceronian precepts, the suggestion that friendship be extended beyond the 'one soul in two bodies' model, embraced throughout, highlights the over-arching importance of demonstrating gratitude after receiving friendship. (58) As such, the pair must reciprocate to continue the bond of friendship and goodwill forged by Dionysus's initial act for the public and private good.
Edwards's ending corresponds to Thomas Elyot's telling of the tale in The Boke Named the Governour, but both diverge from the Pythagorean account of the pair recounted in the fourth century in On the Pythagorean Way of Life. (59) In this account, Damon and Pythias 'refuse' to admit Dionysius into their exclusive friendship. (60) But Edwards's play evidences an understanding of the conventions of giving and receiving in friendship in the strictest sense, with gratitude and reciprocation key measures. This alternate, amicable ending is not surprising given Edwards's position as Master of the Chapel and the didactic intent of the play, which was written for performance by the Children of the Chapel and staged before the Queen at Whitehall. In the final scene, Edwards highlights one of the rewards that a 'superior giver' could hope to gain from friendship with an 'inferior', namely, renown. Dionysius will now be thought of as not only a beneficent monarch, but also, as another participant in the ideal friendship of Damon and Pythias. This idea illustrates what Peterman suggests is expected from 'the inferior giver': 'to return with all he can, including honour, and verbal thanks'. (61) The idea is not that superiors and inferiors will match each others' benefits in kind, but that each will receive something that they perceive as benefit from the other. The more inclusive formulations of amity, like that between Stanley and his men, share this feature, for generally speaking, men of lesser rank and status, or the poor, would not have the opportunities for grand gestures of self-sacrifice on which ideal friendship narratives and treatises insisted. But participants in these friendships could offer, as the Stanley funeral suggests, two benefits, namely, fidelity and gratitude. This is precisely what Damon and Pythias's act of accepting the King into their friendship demonstrates. Similarly, attendance at Stanley's funeral by his men and the poor allowed for a final act of gratitude and fidelity that their friendships with Stanley required. If the tears of mourning witnessed at the graveside were any indication, Stanley earned the love of his subordinate friends. And just as Edwards depicts Dionysius, Stanley had expectations for these amicable relations. The account of Stanley's munificence indicates that it was reserved for selected persons: to 'such as shewed themselves gratefull to him'. (62)
The Edwards, Erasmus-Schurer, Foxe and Stanley examples all acknowledge an understanding of the conventions of giving and receiving in friendship, with the avoidance of ingratitude seen as being of paramount importance. While it may seem as though the onus is mainly on the recipient in these cases, Seneca places much of the responsibility for the relationship established on the shoulders of the superior friend when it comes to ingratitude and the type of benefits given. This is where the principles underpinning De beneficiis reveal themselves as very much grounded in the values of perfect friendship found in De amicitia, for it too promotes obligation, discretion in choosing one's friend and virtue in practice through beneficence, counsel and succour. This suggests the work's greater consonance with a philosophy of friendship than that with which it has been credited. De beneficiis identifies the root cause of ingratitude as indiscretion on the part of the benefactor in choosing a man 'worthy to partake' of benefits. (63) This is not dissimilar to the choice and similitude required in Ciceronian friendship. Seneca says 'I will chuse an honest, simple mindfull, and gratefull man', one who is beneficent himself, and one who does not 'intendeth evill unto any man.' (64) Further, just as Cicero claims that 'Frendship prowles not after profit,' (65) Senecan giving does not necessarily refer to material possessions, as Lodge's translation makes plain: 'this man giveth succours; that ornament; these other consolations.' (66) All benefits are capable of establishing a feeling of goodwill which can help to forge an amicable bond and are not meant to 'buy' friendship, but rather, are meant to be undertaken with the utmost virtuous intent:
And since the greatest friendship we can intend to any man, is to make him equall with our selves, and suffer him in everie sort and joyntly to enjoy our goods and fortunes; so ought we equally to advise him to the good and honour of us both. I will give unto him in his necessitie, yet in such manner and measure, that I will shunne mine owne miserie: If I see him in danger of life, I will succour him. (67)
Even so, this ethical basis on which Senecan principles and conventions of friendship were posited could fall easy prey to those trying to advance themselves. William Cecil, Lord Burghley's letter of advice to his son registers such an understanding:
Be sure thou alwaies keepe some great man to thy friend, but trouble him not for trifles, complement him often. Present him with many, yet small gifts and of little charge, And if thou hast cause to bestow any great gratuity, then let it be some such as may bee daily in sight, for otherwise thou shalt live like a hop without a pole, live in obscurity, and be made a footeball for every insulting companion to spurne at. (68)
Burghley's understanding of friendship in this instruction reflects the exigencies of life at court, but also highlights the way that ideas on giving in friendship could be manipulated for personal gain. Here, giving is not meant to foster goodwill and friendship for virtue's sake, as Seneca proposes, but rather, a calculating strategy to use the principles of giving for career longevity. Despite the use of the word 'friend', the instruction is devoid of sentiment and runs counter to Seneca's idea that intent matters:
a frendly good deede, giving gladnesse au[sic] taking pleasure in giving, foreward and redie of it owne occord, too doo the thing that it dooeth. And therfore it is not material what is doon, or what is given, but with what mind. (69)
For Seneca, the virtue is in the giving, but in the Burghley instruction this is lacking, replaced by a more expedient use of benefiting to maintain a useful friendship. Much like drawing analogies between one's friendship and that of paradigmatic pairs could have a desired effect of feigning affection and devotion for personal gain, employing the conventions of Senecan giving could be misleading and used for selfish ends.
This manipulation of the spirit of Senecan giving in friendship is problematised in Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603). Master Frankford, no longer favoured at court, retires to his country house where he extends liberal hospitality to a young, down-on-his-luck gentleman named Wendoll. His generosity knows no bounds, as Frankford offers Wendoll a 'man', a 'gelding', his 'table' and his 'purse'. (70) Wendoll declares himself 'a man by whom in no kind [Frankford] could gain', (vi.36) He acknowledges requisite gratitude for Frankford's beneficence and suggests that he has the intention of reciprocating at some point: 'Master Frankford, I have oft been bound to you / By many favours; this exceeds them all.' (iv.72-73) Frankford responds: 'There needs no protestation, for I know you virtuous, and therefore grateful.' (iv.77-78) Frankford asserts that he has chosen a worthy recipient in Wendoll, one who will reciprocate with gratitude. Yet, Heywood provides a contradicting view of Wendoll's worthiness as a recipient, through the astute servant, Nick, suggesting Frankford's evaluation was rather hasty. Nick says of Wendoll, 'The Devil and he are all one in my eye.' (iv.87)
Later in the play, Wendoll contemplates adultery with Frankford's wife in a soliloquy which acknowledges that a bond of friendship has been forged through beneficence and that certain expectations of behaviour are required. In a moment of self-remonstration he says: 'and to wound his name / That holds thy name so dear, or rend his heart / To whom thy heart was joined and knit together', (vi.4749) But his additional comment reveals that Wendoll understands the reciprocal conventions of benefit required in this friendship: 'And shall I wrong this man? Base man, ingrate!'(vi,43) Ingratitude in friendship takes precedence in his consideration rather than the overall immorality of the adulterous act. As the inferior friend without means, Wendoll's ability to reciprocate Frankford's generosity is limited to demonstrating gratitude and helping to foster Frankford's reputation for beneficence. Here he acknowledges that his act of adultery will undo both, as it will dishonour Frankford publicly, and reveal himself as being ungrateful. When Frankford learns of Wendoll's infidelity, he refers to him as 'that Judas that hath borne my purse!'(viii.100) The reference to Judas would be enough to evoke a sense of the epitome of betrayal in friendship, but here the qualification-'that hath borne my purse'-additionally charges Wendoll with violation of the rules governing benefitting. Wendoll has received a benefit and he has repaid it with ingratitude, infidelity and by making his friend a cuckold.
Much has been written about Frankford's meting punishment to Anne, but not to Wendoll. Nevertheless, Frankford's last words to Wendoll, and Wendoll's understanding of what they mean, suggests that because he has violated the conventions of friendship and giving, his sentence may be protracted, something that Burghley's advice to his son about living 'in obscurity' also reflects. (71) Frankford repudiates Wendoll, telling him:
When thou record'st my many courtesies And shalt compare them with thy treacherous heart, Lay them together, weigh them equally, 'Twill be revenge enough. Go, to thy friend A Judas: pray, pray, lest I live to see, Thee Judas-like hanged on elder tree. (xiii.71-76)
The attributive 'thy friend' signals the symbolic return of Wendoll's friendship by Frankford, a breaking of the amicable bond. But also the reference to the Judas tree suggests that Wendoll has quite figuratively hung himself in terms of future prospects for beneficent friendship. This punishment for ungratefulness, even Wendoll acknowledges, may haunt him for quite some time:
And I must now go and wander like Cain In foreign countries and remoted climes, Where the report of my ingratitude Cannot be heard ... when I have recovered, and by travel Gotten those perfect tongues, and that these rumours May in their height abate, I will return; And I divine, however now dejected, My worth and parts by some great man praised, At my return I may in court be raised. (xvi.124-134)
The problem of course with Wendoll's plan is that he might just find 'superior friends' like the Earl of Derby who choose to benefit only those friends who understand the principles of giving and receiving in friendship.
Heywood's treatment of the upwardly mobile Wendoll and his generous friend, Frankford, suggests how non-compliance with, and misunderstanding of, the expectations of giving and receiving in alternate formulations of friendship could be problematic. The play indicates how this might be exacerbated when participants have differing views on the type of friendship they have forged. Thomas Hoby's translation of Castiglione's Courtier attempts to prevent such an eventuality through what appears to be an orderly categorisation of friendship along Ciceronian lines: either affective or useful. Because of the value to be realised in each type of friendship, however, the courtier is to seek both, and advised to: 'finde him oute an especiall and hartie friende' with whom he may share the 'indissoluble' knot of friendship that will 'endure untill death, as well as, forge amicable bonds with good men of laudable reputation by keeping 'an eye to his friendes profitt and estimation'. (72) As the plays of Edward, Foxe and Heywood suggest and the Stanley funeral account reminds us, however, one does not necessarily preclude the other, because all formulations of amity share similar characteristics of benefit and expectation. Seneca understood this idea, and outlined in De beneficiis ways to ensure that goodwill continued, and friendship was maintained through an attitude of gratitude. This idea was realised at the Stanley funeral, where the final requisite act of gratitude for Stanley's friendship was performed and a public display of heartfelt support for the Earl was promoted, thus furthering his social memory and the reputation of the Stanley name.
(1) The Stanley funeral account from 'The College of Arms', London (hereafter 'College'), MS Vincent 151, fos 353-4, 357, 361, 369d, as discussed in W. Walters-DiTraglia, 'Death, Commemoration and the Heraldic Funerary Ritual in Tudor and Stuart Cheshire and Lancashire, Part 2', The Coat of Arms Third Series, 3:214 (2007), p. 110. The men at the graveside included comptroller Henry Stanley of Cross Hall, treasurer, Sir Richard Shireburn, and steward, William Massey.
(3) L. Hutson, The Usurer's Daughter: Male Friendship and Fictions of Women in Sixteenth Century England (London and New York, 1994), p. 62.
(4) L. J. Mills, One Soul in Bodies Twain: Friendship in Tudor Literature and Stuart Drama (Bloomington, IN., 1937).
(5) J. Harington, 'Preface', in M. T. Cicero, The Booke of Freendeship of Marcus Tullie Cicero, trans. J. Harington (London, 1562), sig A6r.
(6) M. James, Society, Politics and Culture: Studies in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1986), p. 330.
(7) J. Stowe, The Chronicles of England (London, 1580), pp. 1164-5.
(8) James, Society, p. 330, note 92.
(9) 'College, MS Vincent 15, fos 353, 357.
(10) J. Stowe contends that the Earl was known for his liberality to strangers: 'His feeding especially of aged persons twice a day lx. & od, besids al commers thrice a weeke appoynted for hys dealing dayes, and everye Good Friday these xxxv. yeres one with another, 2700. with meate, drinke, money, and money worth.' See Stowe, Chronicles, p. 1164. Thomas William King asserts that Holinshed and Stowe are in error when they report the occasion as Good Friday. He suggests that it was actually Christmas. See T. W. King (ed.) with additions by F. R. Raines, Lancashire Funeral Certificates (Manchester, 1869), pp. 11-12.
(11) The brass plaque commemorating John Warburton's (d. 1575) life in the Warburton Chapel (c. 15th c. chantry chapel, St. Mary and All Saints, Great Budworth, Cheshire) reads in part: 'IN RELIGIONE CONSTANS/ AMATOR LITERARV & AMICVS PAVPERV'. Thomas Dutton, Esquire of Cheshire, was also remembered for his liberality towards his 'poore friends and neighbours' in the funeral sermon after his death on 28 December 1614 by Richard Eaton, minister. See R. Eaton, A Sermon Preached at the Funeralls of that Worthie and Worshipfull Gentleman, Master Thomas Dutton of Dutton, Esquire (London, 1616), D2v as discussed in W. Walters-DiTraglia, 'Death, Commemoration' Part 1, The Coat of Arms Third Series, 3:1 (2007), p. 52.
(12) Aristotle, Ethiques, trans. J. Wilkinson (London, 1547), sigs J1v-J2r.
(13) Ibid., sig H8r.
(14) See D. Konstan, Friendship in the Classical World (Cambridge, 1997), p. 9.
(15) The Holy Bible by his Majesties Speciall Co[m]mandement (London, 1611), sig A6v.
(16) J. Wilkinson, 'Preface', Aristotle, Ethiques, sig. A2r.
(17) L. Shannon, Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship in Shakespearean Contexts (Chicago, IL., 2002), p. 128; Cicero, The Booke of Freendeshippe in Fouure Severall Treatises of M. Tullius Cicero, trans. T. Newton (London, 1577), sigs B1r-B1v.
(18) Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, ed. J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson, trans. D. Ross (Oxford, 1998), p. 211. For an explanation of how this idea received full expression under Elizabeth I see D. H. Sacks, 'The Countervailing of Benefits: Monopoly, Liberty, and Benevolence in Elizabethan England', in D. Hoak (ed.), Tudor Political Culture (Cambridge, 1995), p. 284.
(19) L. Brysket, A Discourse of CivillLife (London, 1606), p. 226.
(20) For instance, in Wilkinson's translation of Aristotle a hierarchy of philial relationships is posited based on the 'benefites' that a man receives from God and one's father. See Aristotle, Ethiques, sigs H7v-H8r.
(21) A subsequent vernacular translation of Cicero's De amicitia was The Booke of Freendeshipe in Fouure Seuerall Treatises of M. Tullius Cicero, trans. T. Newton (London, 1577).
(22) E. Spenser, The Faerie Queene (London, 1596), Canto x, III, sig K1v (no line numbers given).
(23) Cicero, Fouure Severall Treatises, C7v.
(24) A. L. Motto, 'Seneca on Friendship', in A. L. Motto (ed.), Further Essays on Seneca (Frankfurt, 2001), p. 7.
(25) Ibid., pp. 7-16.
(26) G. W. Peterman, Paul's Gift from Philippi (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 52, 70.
(27) Aristotle, Ethiques, sig J1r. Cicero, Fouure Seuerall Treatises, sig B6r.
(28) Cicero, Fouure Severall Treatises, C7v.
(29) C. Kahn, '"Magic of Bounty": Timon of Athens, Jacobean Patronage, and Maternal Powerl Shakespeare Quarterly, 38.1 (Spring 1987), 49.
(30) D. Wooton, 'Francis Bacon: Your Flexible Friend', in J. H. Elliott and W. B. Brockliss (eds), The World of the Favourite (New Haven, CT., 1999), p. 186.
(31) For instance, see J. Lipsius, De Constantia (London, 1586). Joseph Hall, (chaplain to Prince Henry) was dubbed the 'English Seneca'.
(32) Haward's translation included only the first three books. See The Line of Liberalitie Dulie Directinge the Wel Bestowing of Benefites and Reprehending the Comonly Used Vice of Ingratitude (London, 1569).
(33) L. A. Seneca, The Woorke of the Excellent Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca Concerning Benefyting That Is Too Say the Dooing, Receyving, and Requyting of Good Turnes, trans. A. Golding (London, 1578), sig *iir.
(34) Aristotle, Ethiques, sig H4r.
(35) Peterman, Paul's Gift, p. 68, note 53.
(37) Seneca, His Epistles in The Workes of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, trans. Lodge, (London, 1614), Epistle IX, p. 175.
(38) P. Veyne, Seneca: the Life of a Stoic, trans. Sullivan (New York, 2003), p. 131.
(39) T. Elyot, The Boke Named the Governour (London, 1580), fos 157-158, sigs T2r, U3v-U4r.
(40) Motto, Further Essays, pp. 10-11.
(41) Seneca, Epistles, p. 175.
(42) Seneca, Concerning Benefyting, sig E4r.
(43) Ibid., sig F4v.
(44) L. Jardine, 'Reading and the Technology of Textual Affect: Erasmus's Familiar Letters and Shakespeare's King Lear in Reading Shakespeare Historically (New York and London, 1996), p. 85.
(45) Cited in ibid., p. 86.
(46) Seneca, De Beneficiis, in The Workes of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, trans. T. Lodge (London, 1614), p. 2; Golding terms it 'unthankfulness', Concerning Benefyting, sig A1r.
(47) Seneca, De Beneficiis, p. 20.
(48) Spenser, Faerie Queene, fo 124.
(49) T. B. Hasset, The Seconde Part of the Mirrourfor Magistrates (London, 1578), sig *iiir.
(50) Anon, Timon, ed. J. C. Bulman, J. M. Nosworthy and G. R. Proudfoot, The Malone Society Reprints (Oxford, 1980), fo 15b, 1632, 1639-40.
(51) Elyot, fos 157-158, sigs U3v-U4r.
(52) Elyot, sig.T2r.
(53) J. Foxe, Titus et Gesippus in Two Latin Comedies by John Foxe the Martyrologist: Titus et Gesippus; Christus Triumphans, ed. and trans. Hazel Smith (Ithaca, NY., and London, 1973), III. ix.
(54) See Seneca, De beneficiis, Chapter 1. For an explanation of this idea see Peterman, Paul's Gift, p. 68.
(55) Peterman, Paul's Gift, p. 70.
(56) R. Edwards, Damon and Pythias, in The Works of Richard Edwards: Politics, Poetry and Performance in Sixteenth-Century England, ed. R. King (Manchester, 2001), I. 233, 237. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition.
(57) Seneca, Concerning Benefyting, F4v.
(58) Cicero, Booke of Freendeshipe, B1r-B1v.
(59) The account is by Iamblichus (ACE 350-225). This is discussed by D. Konstan in Friendship in the Classical World (Cambridge, 1997), p. 114.
(61) Peterman, Paul's Gift, p. 72.
(62) Lancashire Funeral Certificates, p. 11.
(63) Seneca, De beneficiis, p. 1.
(64) Ibid., p. 71.
(65) Cicero, Fouure Severall Treatises, C7v; Cicero also discusses profit in the same text, B6v-B7r; Cicero also discusses profit in the same text, B6v-B7r.
(66) Seneca, De beneficiis, p. 47.
(67) Ibid., p. 26.
(68) W. C., Lord Burghley, 'The Counsell of a Father to His Sonne, in Ten Severall Precepts' (London, 1611), Fifth Precept, p. 1.
(69) Seneca, Concerning Benefyting, sig B1v.
(70) T. Heywood, A Woman Killed with Kindness in A Woman Killed with Kindness and Other Domestic Plays, ed. M. Wiggins (Oxford, 2008), iv.70, 64. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition.
(71) Burghley, 'Counsell', p. 1.
(72) Count B. Castilio, The Courtyer, trans. T. Hoby (London, 1561), P2v-P2r.
Address for Correspondence:
Dr Wendy Trevor, English Department, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birminghsm B15 2TT. Email email@example.com
Wendy Trevor University of Birmingham
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|Publication:||Literature & History|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2011|
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