The folly of racism: enslaving blackface and the "natural" fool tradition.
Given that many scholars are currently reexamining the origins of racism and slavery in Western tradition, (3) an exploration of such comic associations with blackness is especially timely. The subject is all the more so in that, because evil is virtually the only symbolic aspect of blackness that medieval and Renaissance scholars have recognized, recent research has too narrowly focused on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to find origins of racism solely in theological associations of the color black and evil. (4) In this regard, Dympna Callaghan sums up current scholarly consensus when she observes that slavery "had comparatively weak ideological foundations, relying on fairly inchoate connections between black skin and the Prince of Darkness...." (5) Undoubtedly, even though the origins of such a religious connection are surprisingly ambiguous since there is no biblical source, (6) "The association of blackness with evil," Anthony Gerard Barthelemy and others have noted, "has a long history on the English stage" as "the tradition goes back at least to early medieval drama" where Lucifer and other devils "were represented by actors painted black." (7) As Virginia Mason Vaughan has recently found in her study, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500-1800, "the association between black skin and damnation [also] permeated early modern English culture." (8) Yet, scholars have locked on so exclusively to this color symbolism of evil that they have yet to attend to a more demeaning, buried tradition of early blackface comedy, one that associated blackness with degradation, irrationality, prideful lack of self-knowledge, transgression, and, related to all of these, folly. With disturbing consistency, blackface served as one commonplace mark of foolishness in the iconography of the so-called "natural" fool--in medieval and Renaissance English parlance, a butt, laughed at because he was mentally deficient (whether ignorant, dull-witted, or mad) and often physically different as well (for example, "hunchbacked," dwarfish, lame, deformed, ugly, or blackfaced). (9)
In what follows, I want to interrogate this long-overlooked tradition, to examine some of its roots and its bitter fruit alike, and to suggest its importance not only in understanding medieval and Renaissance drama but in dismantling subsequent constructions of baffling racist stereotypes. Ultimately, I argue, previously ignored fool iconography forged early links in the enslaving fiction of the "Great Chain of Being," adumbrating, if not originating, later racist notions, since it was the blackface tradition that underwrote early slavers' inexplicable assumption that Africans were utterly irrational and, hence, could be treated as beastlike.
The Descent into Racism: The Devil as Fool
As an illustration of the prevalent and long-standing inattention to this range of buried symbolic associations, consider the mystery plays, the most frequently cited instances of blackness being identified with evil in the English theater tradition. The Wakefield mystery cycle's The Creation, and the Fall of Lucifer (ca. 1460), for example, depicts the fallen angels lamenting: "Alas, alas and welewo!... / We, that were angels so fare, / and sat so hie aboue the ayere, / Now ar we waxen blak as any coyll [coal]...." (10) While these lines seem merely to suggest, as most critics have observed, that the fallen angels are now black, the quote actually continues: "Now ar we waxen blak as any coyll / and vgly, tatyrd as a foyll [fool]" (11). 136-37; emphasis added)." These fallen angels are not just black devils, then, but black fools, suffering degradation. While steering clear of a discussion of blackness, Martin Stevens and James Paxson have demonstrated that, here and elsewhere, "Evil in the Wakefield plays ... depends ... on the demon/fool, whose conversion from the angelic ... develops into a range of personifications of folly." (12) But even Paxson and Stevens finally resist the implications of their own findings, insisting instead that "the Wakefield playwright ... created a devil who is quite different from his counterparts in the other extant cycles," one "[u]nlike any other cycle." (13)
And yet, contrary to such notions of exceptionality, the Chester Fall of Lucifer features a similar focus on folly. In the Chester play, (14) Deus warns Lucifer of the requirement that he remain wise with "Loke that you tende righte wisely" (l. 71). Of course, Lucifer soon ignores the warning, foolishly speculating that if he were in the throne "the[n] shoulde I be as wise as hee" (l. 131). As he begins to plot usurping the throne, he is again warned, this time by another angel: "My counsell is that you be wise" (l. 148). But his companion Lightborne urges him on, saying, "yee may be as wise withall / as God himselfe" (ll. 160-61). After the fall, when Lightborne rebukes him, the blackened Lucifer responds: "Thy witt yt was as well as myne" (l. 246). Clearly, a lack of wit and wisdom is meant to be one primary characteristic of the Chester Devil as well.
The York pageant of The Fall of the Angels (ca. 1460s) features black devils that have even more clearly fallen into folly. Here, where the devils ultimately find themselves made "blackest," it is again God who introduces the theme of folly as he warns the newly created angels that they will enjoy all only "To-whiles [they] are stable in thought," (15) that is, so long as they remain rational and wise. As the Cherubim prudently recall God's warning that they will have "All bliss ... To-whiles we are stable in thought" (ll. 61-62) and the Seraphim devoutly proclaim "With all the wit we wield we worship thy will" (l. 73), Lucifer not only vainly preens and remarks that he is "fairer by far than my feres [companions]" (l. 53), "featous [elegant] and fair" (l. 55), and the very "form of all fairhead" (l. 66), but he also foolishly boasts that he is superior by virtue of "my wit" (l. 67) and gloats about being "deft" (l. 92) or clever--immediately before his fall and his crying out "Oh, deuce! all goes down" (l. 93). Then, having discovered his sudden blackness ("My brightness is blackest ... now" [1. 101]), the prideful Lucifer, somewhat humorously, accuses Second Devil: "ye smore me in smoke" (l. 117). Traditionally, the word "smore" has been glossed nonsensically as "smother," (16) but it appears perhaps more likely that the line could read as "you smeared me with smoke" or soot, consistent with The Oxford English Dictionary's "To smear, bedaub" ([OED 3] as in "1530 Pals[grave].... 'where have you ben, you have all to smored your face'"), precisely because it is the devils' blackness that is at issue. More importantly, finding himself "brent" or burnt (l. 107) and "lorn" of "light" (l.108), and being no longer stable in thought, Second Devil laments, "Out, out! I go wood [i.e., mad] for woe, my wit is all went now" (l. 105), with both madness and lost wits--and, apparently, blackness--being conventional attributes of "natural" folly. Finally, the devils' comically childish bickering over the cause of their new state prompts God to call these mad, black devils "Those fools" (l. 129). Therefore, while it is partly true, as Vaughan believes, that "the visual code of the cycle plays was a simple binary: salvation versus damnation," (17) that binary was far more subtle than simply good versus evil. Blackness in these mystery plays was instead associated less with evil (at least as we know it) than with folly, madness, and an absence of that divine gift, the "light" of reason. The overtly foolish Devil of the mystery play tradition contained, then, what was surely a significant development in the history of racism; here was not simply a black devil's fall into the depths of hell but, more significantly, a very particular depiction of his descent into the degradations of folly via blackness. It would later be a stereotype of irrationality that was, ironically, most damning, lingering on inexplicably well after African American "Negro spirituals," churches, and temperance societies had long since belied an evil stereotype.
Although the blackness of early devils was perhaps, typically, not expressly linked to race--even though devils were "often compared to Ethiopians" (18)--the irrationality associated with blackfaced devils was nonetheless to have an enduring influence on notions of blackface and thus blackness. In particular, the specter of madness already observable, especially in the York pageant, haunted the blackface tradition from early to late, something evident in illustrations of the rolling-eyed, deranged-looking "Jim Crow" in the 1830s, in Crow originator T. D. Rice's farce Bone Squash Diavolo in which a stage direction reads "Enter Bone Squash, crazy," (19) or in a newspaper's charges that blackface entertainer George Washington Dixon, famed for singing "Zip Coon," was "wanting in his upper story," via what Dale Cockrell has described as implications that he was "crazy and degenerate enough that he might really be black." (20) In one way or another, antebellum whites were determined to "prove" a connection between blackness and irrationality, especially when "the Negro" was left to his own devices. So it was that dubious methods and proslavery zeal led to an 1840 census purporting to have found a rate of insanity and idiocy eleven times greater among freed blacks than among slaves. (21)
Even long after emancipation, the long-standing symbolic association between blackface and madness or irrationality more generally was still evident in a twentieth-century African American blackface performer's explanation of why not all of the black actors blacked up in the minstrel movie Pitch a Boogie Woogie (1928): "We put on blackface when we had something crazy to say." (22) One critic has recently celebrated such blacking up in minstrelsy, proclaiming, "I want to figure out a history of blackface that can account for that eager spirit of licensed madness" within it, (23) but this particular association of blackness with irrationality was anything but liberating for people of African descent, not only because "the 'Jim Crow' that meant white male liberation on the minstrel stage later designated the 'Jim Crow' discrimination laws that successfully kept blacks in a state of de facto slavery," (24) but because it assumed mental debility. After all, as Enid Welsford put it, the natural fool's "mental deficiencies" often "deprived him both of rights and responsibilities." (25) Thus, the short-term license established through blacking up in comic, irrational contexts was, paradoxically, actually limiting over the long haul, perpetuating a stereotype of irresponsibility and irrationality that underwrote systematic slavery and the stubborn denial of meaningful freedom for African Americans until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Previously, the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1821, which denied the franchise to black New Yorkers through prohibitive property requirements, did so on the grounds that, as one convention member maintained, "The minds of blacks are not competent to vote." (26) As we shall see, it was the rationally impaired Devil and blackfaced fool type more generally who first embodied such an association between blackness and mental incompetence.
To begin to appreciate fully the enormous influence of the Devil's folly on constructions of blackness, therefore, we must first recognize that the foolish black devils of the mystery cycles are anything but anomalous, in spite of John D. Cox's recent provocative claim that the Devil in English drama was noted above all for his "seriousness." (27) Peter Happe has demonstrated rather that in Tudor moral interludes the Devil "is essentially a comic figure" whose appearance is ridiculously ugly. (28) Notably, he is so "evill favoured" in All for Money (ca. 1577) that Ill Report comments, "You neuer saw such a one behynde / As my Dad is before," and in Garter's The Comedy of the Most Virtuous and Godly Susanna (ca. 1577), Sinne mocks a "snottie-nosed Sathan," threatening, as Happe notes, "to hit him on the snout and to pull it off." (29) Happe concludes that the range of visual characteristics of the Devil usually "appears to have been reduced in the interludes to the large, black-masked head." (30) Other evidence suggests that early devils could appear either in black masks/heads or in painted blackface, as in the records of Coventry, where one finds numerous payments "for blakyng the Sollys [souls'] fassys," for "peynttyng of the demones hede," for "the devyls hede," and for "the devells facys." (31) In their study of early English masks, Meg Twycross and Sarah Carpenter have argued that "the wearing of masks and the painting of faces ... seems to have been considered very much as equivalents" in the Middle Ages and early Tudor period. (32) In any case, while finding that the black-masked Devil is "irredeemably foolish" and "most frequently seen as a butt ... inviting ridicule," (33) Happe seems puzzled by his discovery. "Perhaps out of fear," he muses, "the Devil is usually made ridiculous," for he is noted for "simplicity." (34)
Evidently, I would argue, the cycles' and interludes' masked Devil was a type of natural fool whose blackness connoted not simply (or even primarily) evil, as critics assume, but folly. (35) Such a conclusion is supported by historian of theology Jeffrey Burton Russell who notes that the medieval Devil, though sometimes clever, was also "a total fool," "the personification of ... our own foolishness," "at bottom a fool who understands nothing." (36) In antiquity, theologians had likewise explained that the Devil's rational powers and intellect were impaired--"darkened by folly," as Augustine would have it--after the fall. (37) We have seen that the Devil was mad as a result, a belief that informs widespread medieval and Renaissance assumptions that madness itself was due to demonic possession or punishment for sin. The prevalence of the Devil's assumed mental impairment is further reflected in Stith Thompson's inclusion of a devil in connection with the category "Absurd Ignorance" in the Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. (38) Moreover, the Devil, being foolish, "could be overcome by man's ... laughter," (39) and the devil-fool figure was a popular icon that carried over into Elizabethan and Jacobean devil plays, such as Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (ca. 1589), Haughton's Grim the Collier of Croydon (1600), Dekker's The Merry Devil of Edmonton (1602) and If This Be Not A Good Play The Devil Is In It (1611), and Jonson's The Devil is an Ass (1616), the later title being proverbial. (40)
In considering the popularity of the devil-as-fool, we should also take note of the pan-European favorite Tutivillus (spelled variously). In the Judicium, from the aforementioned Wakefield mystery cycle, Tutivillus "was clearly conceived of as a comic devil," (41) as was "Titivillus" in the morality play Mankind. The vices build up his initial appearance in Mankind, collecting money from the audience in anticipation of the "man wyth a hede that ys of grett omnipotens" (l. 461)--the proverbial "big head" of the foolishly vain is here symbolized in the conventional large black head mask identified by Happe. And, in the Judicium and in sermon exempla and Continental drama, Tutivillus appears as "the recording demon" of mankind's folly, either in the form of an assiduously scribbling, cataloging demon who "records in writing the idle words of churchgoers" or as "a sack-carrying devil" who collects the many omitted and mumbled syllables of carelessly recited Latin prayer. (42) Likewise, in the Judicium he recites senseless dog-Latin such as "ffragmina verborum tutiuillus colligit horum" and "Balzabub algorum, Belial belium doliorum" (ll. 251-52). And, his very name is apparently pretentious nonce Latin. In illustrations, Tutivillus often appears as a writing monkey or as "apelike," being described as "in specie symee" or "quasi vultu simie." (43) But whether appearing as a vain devil with a ridiculously large black head or as a simian devil imitating monks and collecting the idle Latin words of slothful believers, Tutivillus was decidedly a fool "aping" flawed Christians.
Just as the Devil was so often foolish, foolishness in turn could be seen as diabolical and sinful. In the morality plays, sin itself is repeatedly associated with transgressive folly. Thus, in The Castle of Perseverance (ca. 1425), featuring the Devil in the guise of "Belyal the blake," (44) Avaricia urges the other vices/sins:
... ye must, what-so befall, Feffyn hym wyth youre foly, For whanne Mankynd is kendly koveytous He is proud, wrathful, and envyous; Glotons, slaw, and lecherous Thus every synne tyllyth in othyr And makyth Mankynde to ben a foole. (ll. 1030-38, on p. 119)
Here, the Seven Deadly Sins are explicitly associated with "foly" as it is "synne" that makes Mankynde a "foole." Or, to take a later example, in Mundus et Infans (ca. 1520-22), when Manhode asks Conscyence "what thyng callest thou folly?" (l. 457), Conscyence answers, "pride, wrath, and envy, / Sloth, covetise, and gluttony,-- / Lechery the seventh is" (ll. 458-60), concluding, "These seven sins I call folly" (l. 461). (45) In both plays, sin and folly are treated as synonymous, just as the word "folly" itself sometimes had definite wicked connotations: "Wickedness, evil, mischief, harm" (OED, 2.a.); "A wrong-doing, sin, crime" (OED, 2.b.); and "Lewdness, wantonness" as in the French folie (OED, 3.a.). In 1604, Shakespeare was still able to employ precisely such wanton-wicked connotations when Othello believed Desdemona had "gone to burning hell" (5.2.127) because she "turned to folly; and she was a whore" (5.2.130).
What "the fool said in his heart": Toward an Incorrigible Stereotype
The understandings of folly we have just seen are much elaborated upon in William Wager's moral interlude The Longer Thou Livest the More Fool Thou Art (ca. 1560-68), where the natural fool is Moros, whose name is derived from the ancient Dorian mimic fool, moros ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Moros is apparently black, since he calls to mind not only a "monster" (l. 1693) and "a devil of hell" (l. 1698) but is, simultaneously, immediately recognizable as a fool by his face alone--"Have you seen a more foolish face? / I must laugh to see how he doth look" (ll. 699-700)--and since he has "a foolish countenance" (s.d., following l. 70). He is also damned, ultimately, because God is angry that "such fools in their hearts do say, / That there is no God, neither heaven, nor hell" (ll. 1783-84). In fact, Moros "hath said there is no God in his heart" (l. 1767), echoing the opening verse of Psalm 52 in the Vulgate: "The fool said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Wager's allusions to the psalm draw upon the iconography established in the illuminated tradition, in which the historiated "D" that introduces this psalm in Latin (Dixit insipiens in corde suo: non est Deus) often contains "the portrait of a fool." (46) When Wager refers to Moros as an "insipient" (e.g., ll. 844, 1125), he even more overtly links him to the iconography of Psalm 52, illuminations of which often depict a devil or devils (in lieu of a fool), the fool with devils, the fool as diabolical, the fool possessed by the Devil, or even the fool as Antichrist (as in the Evesham Psalter [ca. 1250], where Antichrist holds a bladder). (47)
The fool Moros, then, by virtue of his folly, is already damned even before he is piggybacked off to hell. The Psalter fool's denial of God's existence was, after all, likewise pridefully satanic so that, as the archetypal insipiens, the Devil was on some deep level less a trickster than a natural. Thus, in the early fifteenth century Lydgate could write of satanic disbelief: "The chief of foolis, as men in bokis redithe ... Is he that nowther lovithe God ne dredithe." (48) Moreover, Psalm 52 itself continues: "Are they so ignorant, these evil men ...?" (49) Equally important, in terms of emergent racial constructions, St. Augustine's Enarrationes in Psalmos "established the central theme of Psalm 52--the 'non est Deus'--which is the rejection of the Christian faith and the denial of Christ by individuals, infidel sects, Jews, and pagans." (50) The insipient fool is, as a result, often depicted as foreign, dark-faced, or even as black, as is the leaping and shirtless black man wearing a leopard-spotted conical cap and Turkish pants in the famed ninth-century Stuttgart Psalter, (51) not coincidentally, I suggest, the work also noted for the devil's "first clear [illustrated] appearance as black." (52) Not only is the Devil repeatedly depicted as black in the Stuttgart Psalter, and not only is the insipiens himself black, but when the Dixit verse repeats later, the letter D is represented, atypically, with even its center blackened so that the color black alone connotes folly. (53) We know that such symbolism survived not simply from Wager's play from the 1560s but because dark-faced insipientes are not uncommon. One example of an insipiens as "a Fool with blackened face" is MS Bodley Liturg. 153. (54) More to the point, this particular striking early fifteenth-century illumination appears in a portable psalter that was produced in Britain and was found in the diocese of Norwich, (55) a fact that leads one to presume that Wager himself saw one like it By the ninth century, then, devil and fool alike were on their way in their descent into the blackfaced folly that was to prove so damning in constructions of blackness that rationalized slavery. In one measure of such logic, western European serfs were commonly portrayed as actually black from sun, soil, and manure and as spiritually simple, naturally stupid, and even subhuman. (56)
Moros's blackness does not merely mark him as a foolish insipiens, however, since for the "staunch Calvinist" Wager it also marked Moros as inherently reprobate from birth. (57) Here we must recognize that Calvin, referring to Jeremiah's question at 13:23 ("Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Or the leopard his spots?"--a query notably altered in the Geneva Bible favored by English Puritans to the more contemporary, "Can the blacke More change his skin?"), likened what he referred to in Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah as the "Blackness ... inherent in the skin of the Ethiopians" to something "corrupted" and "enslaved," as well as to being lacking in "discernment" or reason, that is, to being out of one's "right mind":
Blackness is inherent in the skin of the Ethiopians, as it is well known. Were they to wash themselves a hundred times daily, they could not put off their blacknesss.... We now then see what the prophet means--that the Jews were so corrupted by long habit that they could not repent, for the devil had so enslaved them that they were not in their right mind; they no longer had any discernment, and could not discriminate between good and evil. (58)
For Calvin, Carolyn Prager shows, blackness connoted "the fixed nature of the sinful state" and stood "for the accrued stain of sin which has become as permanent as an 'incurable' disease" (59)--and, I would add, a state of sin that affects primarily the "mind" and "discernment." In keeping with this Calvinist view, the black fool Moros has an "evil nature ... past cure" so that, we are told, "nothing can [his] crookedness rectify" (ll. 46-48); he "can not convert" (l. 1805).
Nor, it would seem, can he learn. When Piety tells Discipline, "Let us lose no more labor about this fool, / For the more he is taught the worse he is" (ll. 397-98), Wager alludes obliquely to another bigoted proverb, "To wash an Ethiope is a labor in vain," which Biblioteca Eliota (1545) defined as follows: "Thou washest a Mooren, or Moore, A proverb applied to him that ... teacheth a naturall foole wisdome." The play's emphasis on Moros's inability to learn thus draws upon traditions of iconography, theology, and proverb alike connecting blackness and inherent, incorrigible "folly," in varying senses. Remarkably, it was just such assumptions about blackness that slavers like John Barbot, writing in A Description of the Coasts of North and South Guinea (1732), subsequently held in justifying slavery: "it must be owned, [Africans] are very hard to be brought to a true notion of the Christian religion ... being naturally very stupid and sensual"--not evil--"and so apt to continue till their end." (60) Similarly, when Wager emphasizes that Moros is reprobate in terms of his inability to learn due to his "nature" (e.g., ll. 44, 46), he puns on "natural" fool, so that Moros "naturally play[s] the part" (l. 60; emphasis added) of "such as had lever to folly and idleness fall" (l. 53). Moros is so "naturally" a fool that, we are told before he first appears, he is "[r]epresented" as the very "image of such persons" (ll. 51, 50). Unfortunately, part of that "image" of folly was apparently blackness.
Equally disturbing, in terms of the formation of racist stereotypes, the reprobate Moros is attended by the vices Ignorance, Idleness, Wrath, and, eventually, Confusion, the latter being the humiliating "portion of fools" who "abideth with them forever" (ll. 1817-18) as a shameful "companion" (l. 1814) and as "the reward of such ... foolish ass[es]" (l. 1813). Confusion enters "with an ill-favored visure and all things beside ill-favored" (s.d. 1806) as a perpetual sign of Moros's "shame and confusion" (l. 1807). Consistent with Renaissance symbolism, Confusion, like the foolish and wicked Moros himself, would probably have been black, since the conventionally black Satan in Wager's own Like Will to Like is similarly described as having an "ill face" (l. 96) and since "ill-favored" was deemed the opposite of "fair." (61) God's Judgment then commands: "Confusion spoil him of his array; / Give him his fool's coat for him due" (ll. 1819-20). The irony here is that Moros, mocked for his looks by the vices fooling him throughout the play, is subsequently a double to the fool Confusion, but, being vain and lacking self-knowledge, he is unable to recognize his masked mirror image, preferring to be carried off straight to the Devil, another double, rather than to be seen with such an "ill-favored knave" (l. 1851). Worse still, in terms of subsequent racial stereotyping, God's Judgment curses Moros's descendants (almost as if he were Cain or Ham) in a manner that disparages all those of his supposed "nature," here, all who are black: "Thy wicked household shall be dispersed, / Thy children shall be rooted out to the fourth degree / Like as the mouth of God hath rehearsed" (ll. 1792-94). In the end, Moros's story serves as a propagandistic myth of origin endorsing proslavery views about Africans that we will see were already current in Wager's day.
The Play of Wit, the "Marke" of Idleness, and the Imposition of Sameness
The kind of connection between blackface and "natural" folly that I am suggesting was at work in the Devil's irredeemable folly or Moros's incorrigible foolishness appears even more clearly in three Tudor moral interludes, the "Wit" marriage plays. In each of these, a vice lulls the youth or everyman figure Wit to sleep, blackens his face, and leaves him to be discovered a fool, after which Wit is restored to whiteness and set finally on a path to redemption, ascent, and union with either Science or Wisdom. In the first of these plays, John Redford's Play of Wit and Science (ca. 1534), the vice Idleness--appearing associated with blackness as in Wager's later interlude--sings Wyt to sleep, proclaiming, "whyle he sleepeth in Idlenes lappe / idlenes marke on hym shall I clappe." (62) After marking Wyt and then dressing him in the "fooles cote" (l. 598) of her attendant, "Ingnorance" [sic], Idlenes observes, "so [he] beguneth to looke lyke a noddye" (l. 587), using one of several synonyms for both a fool and a black bird. (63) The Cain-like "marke" of Idleness clapped on Wyt to make him look like a noddy here undoubtedly signifies blackface, since Wyt subsequently so resembles a "naturall foole" (l. 806) that Science cannot recognize him: "Who is this?" (l. 732), she asks. Science then contrasts Wyt's "fayer" (l. 795) portrait to his now "fowle ... & vglye" (l. 796) visage. Significantly for the history of racism, it is Science who shuns a blackened character, just as pseudoscience would be trotted out to condemn blackness in later centuries. Upon examining his reflection in his "glas of reson" (l. 824), Wyt exclaims:
... gogs sowle a foole[,] a foole by the mas deckt by gogs bones lyke a very asse & as for this face[, it] is abhominable as black as the devyll.... (ll. 826, 828, 839-40; emphasis added)
Finally, after examining the audience's reflection in the mirror to test its accuracy ("How loke ther facis heere rownd abouwte?" [1. 833]), he comments on the contrast: "All fayre & cleere they, evry chone; / & I, by the mas, a foole alone" (ll. 834-35). Thus, Wyt concludes that he is "a foole alone" because he alone is "black as the devyll."
The damning symbolism of blackfaced folly in Redford's play is all the more unavoidable given its depiction of the "foole" Ingnorance as a mirror image of the folly-fallen Wyt, for, like the reprobate Moros and his double Confusion, Ingnorance is indeed a black fool from the beginning. Such mirroring is clear, after Wyt's face is blackened and Ingnorance and Wyt have exchanged coats, when Ingnorance observes, "He is I now" (l. 599). (64) Idlenes then asks, "Is he not a foole as wel as thow?" (l. 601), to which Ingnorance responds, "Yeas" (.. 602). Thereafter, Wyt is taken for "Ingnorance, or his lykenes" (l. 668). That the now-blackfaced Wyt has been transformed into the fool Ingnorance's double is apparent when, upon seeing Wyt so unwittingly disguised, Science mistakes her fiance for the fool, addressing him with "What sayst thow, Ingnorance[?]" (l. 737). Emphatically, then, like Wager's play and the York Pageant, this interlude includes a duo of blackfaced fools. (65)
Significantly, given that Wit essentially temporarily loses himself (i.e., his "wit" or very identity), after having his face blackened, the play suggests that a black face, that is, blackness alone, has the power to erase individuality, marking characters as identical--here identically ignorant. Such is the very essence of stereotyping in embryo, if not fully born. Similar assumptions appear, ironically, in arguments dismissing either racial import or effect through "popular masking" in blackface. While maintaining that black-masking represented "simple disguise," merely an "impulse to conceal," since "easily available domestic materials like soot, lampblack, or charcoal" were "all matt monotone black which blanks out the features," (66) such arguments fail to pursue the consequences of such thinking. That is, the logic of blackface as "simple disguise" alone refuses to acknowledge the damning assumption that blackness erases individuality, producing a stereotypical sameness, the imposed social invisibility explored in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. After all, the trope that blackness rendered invisibility was actually invited in blackface traditions, whether in minstrel plays in which characters could be described archly with "The rest of the characters are all so dark that they cannot be seen" or in the black-masked Harlequin's ability to "simply point to one of the black patches on his suit and become invisible, a trope that has become central to black literary tradition." (67)
In any case, in scenes imitating Redford's play, such as in The Marriage of Wit and Science (ca. 1569-70), performed by the Children of Paul's under Sebastian Westcott's mastership, the connection between blackface and folly seems clearer still, as it is assumed readily with less effort on the author's part. (68) In Westcott's Wit play, following the scene in which "Witte" is transformed into the likeness of the black fool Ignorance, Science and her father Reason mistake Witte for a fool and contemptuously refer to his blackness--"Thy loke is like to one that came out of hell" (sig. E.ii.r)--and, when comparing a picture of Witte alongside his altered visage, they report: "[W]hy loke, they are no more like; / ... then blacke to white" (sig. E.ii.r). Witte then looks in his glass of Reason, remarking in dismay, "By the Masse I loke like a very foole in deede" (sig. Eii.r).
Similarly, the latest of the three Wit plays, Francis Merbury's The Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom (1579), (69) includes the stage business: "Here, shall [W]antonis sing ... him a sleepe ... then let her set a fooles bable on his hed ... colling [coaling] his face." In the song, Wantonnes announces her intention to
trick this prety doddy & make him a noddy & now of a schollar I will make him a colliar.... (ll. 431-38)
After Wit's face is "collied," that is, begrimed or blackened, apparently either with coal or by one of several other methods available to render the face black (but this time without benefit of Ignorance or a fool's coat), (70) a character enters crying, "o god ... the company made the[e] a foole / that thou of late wast in" (ll. 464-66), after which appears the stage direction: "He was-heth his face and taketh off his bauble" (l. 475). Evidently a fool's coat and some double's assistance were no longer required to mark folly in this scene because blackface and bauble were now sufficient. The connection between natural folly and blackface may, then, have become even stronger over the course of the sixteenth century, not coincidentally one that witnessed the expansion of the African slave trade. It is also significant that, as we learn in Anthony Munday's Sir Thomas More (ca. 1590), The Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom was an especially familiar play, indeed a byword, when it was included, along with plays such as The Play of Four P's, Dives and Lazarus (a play about damnation), and Lusty Juventus (which includes a comic devil), as part of the old-fashioned repertoire of the small wandering troupe, the "Lord Cardinal's players" (3.2.50). (71) Therefore, the blacking episodes of the "Wit" plays and others like them would likely have been seen through much of England.
From Childs' Play(s) to Slavery
Rather than the "Wit" plays being isolated anomalies, a marked association between blackface and folly was fairly widespread in late medieval and Renaissance drama. In addition to appearing in the entertainment featuring the comic "blackeman" that offended Cecilia in 1566 or in Wager's interlude, it is also extant in a number of other plays, including, I believe, John Rastell's The Nature of the Four Elements (ca. 1520; printed ca. 1527), a work known to have influenced Redford's Wit and Science. (72) Here, a blacking episode probably appeared during a mysterious gap of eight missing leaves (sigs. D 1-8) in the copy since, after the missing leaves, the vices Yngnoraunce and Sensuall Appetyte find the everyman Humanyte, now a "mad fole" (l. 1183), "clene out of [his] mynde" (l. 1202), down on the ground, while his "tayle totyth out behynde" (l. 1195) and his head is, somewhat curiously, initially concealed ("Why, what is cause thou hydest the[e] here?" [1. 1200]). Looking upon his transformed head, Yngnoraunce jests: "Hit were evyn great almys / To smyte his hed from his body" (ll. 1185-86). The point of the joke and the surprise appearance of the everyman's head seems to be that the newly transformed Humanyte now has the large black head of a fool. Moreover, Sensuall Appetyte immediately explains that Humanyte's now-foolish face/head is the result of a temporary disguise:
Nay God forbed ye sholde do so. For he is but an innocent, lo, In maner of a fole. (ll. 1187-89; emphasis added)
As Trevor Lennam observes, "Whatever action has occurred ... the lines indicate that Humanity is degraded as a fool." (73) Even though we can only conjecture here as to what happened in the missing leaves to make Humanyte degraded, ugly, and foolish, a blacking or masking episode would certainly explain the many curious details in the scene that follows the gap because blackness had become an emblem of degradation, madness, folly, and ugliness alike.
More definitely, blacking occurs in a different context in boy company author John Heywood's Johan Johan (printed 1533), when the cuckold Johan is tricked into chafing wax at the fire to mend a leaky pail while his wife Tyb and a cuckolding priest eat up all his dinner. While working at length before the fire, Johan is blackened with smoke, as we learn when he complains that "the smoke puttyth out my eyes two. / I burne my face, and ray my clothes also" (ll. 509-10), and when he afterward repeats for emphasis, "For the smoke put out my eyes two, / I burned my face, and rayed my clothes also" (ll. 637-38). That the smoke that has blackened his clothes and face makes him a fool is evident when this poor "wodcok" (l. 488) is subsequently called an "ape" (l. 514) and a "dryvyll" (l. 655), both synonyms for fool. (74)
Cuckolds like Johan and other foolish old men seem frequently to have had their faces blackened in token of their folly; this is the case with the foolishly arrogant, gulled cheat Grim the Collier of Croyden in Richard Edwards's boy company play Damon and Pithias (printed 1571 and performed by the Children of the Chapel), the laughable old would-be cuckolder Lorenzo in boy company author George Chapman's May Day (1601; printed 1611), and the foolish cuckold and cowardly braggart John Swabber in Acteon and Diana (printed ca. 1655, the year of England's conquest of Jamaica as part of Oliver Cromwell's "Western Design"). The Swabber farce was also subsequently reproduced word for word as The Humour of John Swabber in Francis Kirkman's famous collection of popular farcical drolls, The Wits, or, Sport, being a Curious Collection of Several Drols and Farces (1673), a work that seems likely to have made its way to British North America thereafter.
As with the rise of the black-masked clown Harlequin in Italy, according to Dario Fo, during "a revival of slavery" when commedia originated, the tradition of the blackfaced fool in England became especially pronounced aside the expanding slave trade in Europe, particularly with the development of an English slave trade. (75) The Mediterranean slave trade based in Italian cities like Venice and Genoa had collapsed by the end of the fifteenth century, as Black Sea slave marketing in Tartars, Circassians, Armenians, Georgians, and Bulgarians was sealed off by the Turks after their capture of Constantinople. (76) By that time, the Portuguese had already developed a slave trade from West Africa to fill the void; in fact, in 1444 Portugal had launched the modern slave trade, taking 225 captives from the Guinea coast. (77) After 1454 Portugal had a monopoly over Guinea by papal bull, and by 1460, seven to eight hundred captives per year were being taken to Portugal. (78) Over the three decades following 1444, by one count, roughly 12,500 West Africans were abducted, whereas from 1450 to 1500 a conservative estimate of 35,000 captives were taken, via Lisbon, to be slaves throughout Europe. (79) Then, in 1518 Spain licensed Portugal's transportation of 4,000 slaves annually for ten years to Hispaniola. (80) By around 1530, the Portuguese also launched the transatlantic slave trade to the New World. In 1537, New World traffic in African peoples was spurred on when Pope Paul II differentiated between American Indians and Africans by denying the sacraments to any colonist who enslaved the former, because they were rational and thus capable of Christianity--Africans were not so deemed. (81) European human trafficking of Africans was thus already well under way by the time of blackface characterizations such as those in The Creation, and the Fall of Lucifer (ca. 1460), The Fall of the Angels (ca. 1460s), The Nature of the Four Elements (ca. 1520), Johan Johan (printed 1533), Wit and Science (ca. 1534), The Longer Thou Livest (ca. 1560-68), The Marriage of Wit and Science (ca. 1569-70), and The Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom (1579).
Admittedly, England did not enter the slave trade in any considerable way for some time after Portugal, but that was not from a lack of trying. Edward IV (1471-83) unsuccessfully asked the pope to allow English trade in Africa. And, in 1481, hearing rumors that Englishmen William Fabian and John Tintam were preparing a venture to Guinea, the Portuguese protested on the grounds of their monopoly and the expedition was stayed. (82) While there were certainly black people, both free and enslaved, in England before 1530, (83) and while the earliest recorded presence of Africans in Britain were in the days of Roman occupation and then again after a number were brought to Ireland by the ninth century, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century English slave trading from Guinea is "underdocumented because of its surreptitious nature." (84) Still, we are able to gather that William Hawkins, father of famous slave trader and pirate John Hawkins, had begun some sort of trading on the northern Guinea coast by the 1530s, with probable ventures there in 1530, 1531, 1532, likely in 1536 (on behalf of "the English African company"), and, even more likely, again in 1539-40. (85) We also know that Captain Thomas Windham made an expedition to Guinea and Benin in 1553. And, we learn of five Western African "Negroes" taken back to England by trader William Towrson in 1554 and "kept" there "till they could speak the language," and brought back to Africa only "to be a helpe to Englishmen" there. (86) Similarly, in 1554-55, the pirate John Lok brought back from Guinea "certain blacke slaves whereof some were tall and strong men and could wel agree with our meates and drinkes. The cold and moyst aire doth somewhat offend them." (87) Such efforts likely reflect a determination to expand some ongoing slave trade.
Whereas the Catholic queen Mary had largely respected the papal bulls granting an African monopoly to Portugal, Queen Elizabeth "surreptitiously supported" the slave trade: "Of necessity, Elizabeth's reign was characterized by official reticence and actual aggression toward the African trade." (88) Indeed, when, in 1561 English ventures, backed by four royal vessels, were determined to establish a fort and trading base on the Guinea coast, which they finally did under John Lok's leadership in 1562, the queen's profits amounted to [pounds sterling]1,000. By 1562-63, "being amongst other particulars assured that Negros were very good merchandise ... and that the store of Negros might easily bee had upon the coast of Guinea," John Hawkins "resolved with himselfe to make triall thereof." (89) On this expedition, the pirate Hawkins put an end to the Portuguese monopoly, as we learn from his boast to have "got into his possession, partly by the sword, and partly by other meanes, to the number of 300 Negroes at the least, besides other merchandises." (90) Whereas Queen Elizabeth had officially opposed slavery, stating, "If any African were carried away without his free consent it would be detestable and call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertaking," in 1564 she was investing again, this time in Hawkins's second expedition to Guinea. (91) Then, when Hawkins was granted a coat of arms in 1565, it commemorated his success in such trade, as the patent read: "Sable on a poynte wave a lyon passaunt gould ... and in token of his victorie against the Moores vpon his helme on a wreth argent and azure, a demy Moore in his proper color, bounde in a corde as bonde and captive." (92) We know further from 1569 depositions surrounding Hawkin's third voyage that the English were engaged in slave trade to the New World. According to William Fowler, "the best trade in those places [Vera Cruz and the West Indies] is of Negros." (93) The Crown remained active in slave trading interests; a 1588 patent granted exclusive English trade on the coast of Guinea to merchants of London and Devonshire in order to ward off foreign interference with English trafficking. Not surprisingly, by 1619 in Jamestown we learn of "20. and odd Negroes, w[hi]ch the Governor ... bought ... at the best and easyest rate," since between 1576 and 1675, some 425,000 Africans were transported to British North America. (94)
By the heyday of Shakespeare's career, there were also "probably several thousand black people in London, forming a significant minority of the population." (95) As of 1578, George Best could dispute the Climate theory of blackness by mentioning, in passing, his own firsthand observation: "I my selfe have seene an Ethiopian as blacke as a cole brought into England, who taking a faire English woman to wife, begat a sonne in all respects as blacke as the father was." (96) By 1589, the connection between Africans and slavery was so well established that Richard Hakluyt was calling five Africans brought into England "black slaves." (97) By 1596, referring to "divers Blackamoores brought into these realms," Queen Elizabeth asserted in a letter to the mayor of London that "there are already here to[o] manie." (98)
By 1597 the Privy Council was attempting to export "slaves" to Portugal and Spain, and by 1599 and 1601, the slave trade had been substantial enough that Queen Elizabeth now issued proclamations actually decrying "the great numbers of Negroes and blackamoors which ... are carried into this realm" and encouraging "their masters" to assist her attempts "to have those kind of people sent out of the lande." (99) As a result, Elizabeth even licensed sea captain Caspar van Senden to deport slaves and prompted those "possessed of any such blackamoors" to relinquish them upon the captain's demand, while speaking of their condition of "servitude." (100) Although the English did not begin their rise to eventual dominance of the trade until the 1655 seizure of Jamaica from Spain, and though Britain did not finally become the primary slave trader until the late 1700s (with a peak in 1780 of 78,000 slaves transported per year and when half of all African slaves were carried in British ships), (101) and even though we may not yet know the degree to which promotion of the slave trade either motivated or reflected the development of the early blackfaced fool tradition, we can confidently conclude that plays featuring blackface nonetheless proliferate alongside such inhumane trafficking.
Links in a Chain: Transmigration, Transcodification, and Rationalization of Blackfaced Folly
But were the assumptions that rationalized the slave trade and those associated with the blackface tradition actually linked at all in the early modern mind-set? And if so, how? While a direct connection is difficult to prove, looking back, there is no lack of suggestive evidence of such a link in the historical record. Consistent echoes of the characters Wit and Ingnorance surface particularly in English traditions of travel and pseudoscientific literature. Notably, the "Second Voyage of John Hawkins, 1564-1565" from Hakluyt's famed Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (London, 1589) includes a reference to West Africans Hawkins encountered as simply "the ignorant people" who "knewe not" about guns and so were shot; here, their pain is described in comic terms: "[they] used a marveilous crying in their flight with leaping and turning their tayles, that it was strange to see, and gave us great pleasure to behold them." (102) Similarly, an account by Robert Baker of his voyages to the West African coast in 1562 and 1563, also published in Hakluyt's Principall Navigations (omitted from the 1598 edition), described inhabitants
Whose likenesse seem'd men to be, but all as blacke as coles. Their Captaine comes to me as naked as my naile, Not having witte or honestie to cover once his tale. (103)
Here, too, as in the Wit plays (one of which, the latest, was still familiar as late as the 1590s) and the tradition of the Devil as an ass, the connection between blackness and assumed ignorance and lack of wit is clear enough, as it is in Peter Heylyn's claims in his Little Description of the Great World (1631) that the sub-Saharan African utterly lacked "the use of Reason which is peculiar unto man; [he is] of little Wit." (104) Of course, Leo Africanus's History and Description of Africa (1526; English translation ca. 1600) had also represented "Negroes" as gulls "being utterly destitute of the use of reason, of dexteritie of wit," (105) and Leo had been surprised when one African with whom he was "acquainted" was not irrational: "[H]e is blacke in colour but most beautifull in minde and contions [conscience]." (106) As Leo's remark suggests, even when commentators remarked on supposed black immorality (here an assumed lack of conscience), they regularly did so with respect to a purported lack of rational powers. For John Boemus in A Fardle of Facions (1555), then, Africans "carry the shape of men, but live like beast[s]: they be very barbarous ... neither do the[y] discerne any difference betwixt good and bad." (107) Though later commentators might sometimes debate about whether such supposed witlessness was "natural" or "ingrained" through the circumstances of "savagery" or slavery, (108) the presumption of defective reason was consistently pronounced in the history of early modern European encounters with Africans. And indeed, the connection between Africans and the terms of natural folly were never far away in the subsequent rhetoric of slavers, as in Barbot's previously noted observation: "it must be owned, they are very hard to be brought to a true notion of the Christian religion ... being naturally very stupid and sensual, and so apt to continue till their end." (109) So also for later slavers in the American South, "a white skin was the distinguishing badge of mind and intellect," (110) so that blackness was once again the emblematic opposite.
Here, to fully grasp the stakes involved in the blackfaced fool tradition we must recognize the degree to which assumptions about another's inherent irrationality were at the very heart of the Western history of slavery from its beginnings: although the Greeks did not enslave any one race (making slaves of any "barbarians" or non-Greeks), prominent philosophers nonetheless presumed that Greeks were the rational master race and that all slaves were rationally impaired by nature. Plato maintained for instance that God had deprived all slaves of half their reason in order to allow them to bear their wrongs--an anesthetizing notion for the masters. Thus it was that, according to Plato in Meno, a slave boy could hold true beliefs but could never know that he was right because he was inherently deficient in reason. (111) Similarly, for Aristotle, "From the hour of [his] birth," what he referred to as the "natural slave" was rationally deficient, having no deliberative faculty. (112) In defending the institution of slavery, Aristotle defined the man who was "by nature a slave" as being one who "participates in reason [only] to the extent of apprehending [reason] in another, though destitute of it himself." (113) And, whereas the natural master was the rationally superior Greek "in whom the rule of soul over body is accordingly evident," in the inherently irrational natural slave "the reverse would often appear to be true--the body ruling over the soul." (114) Aristotle ultimately went so far as to identify the term "barbarian" as "only seeking to express that same idea of the natural slave," so that he concluded that "there are some who are everywhere inherently slaves." (115)
Hellenistic philosophers such as Philo subsequently held the "slave indeed" to be an inherently foolish, sensual being. As Philo wrote, "he who with a mean and slavish spirit puts his hand to mean and slavish actions contrary to ... proper judgment is a slave indeed." Whereas one historian finds the central point here to be that "The slave was, in short, a sinner," (116) Philo conceived of the natural slave more so as something of a natural fool not ruled by "proper judgment." In fact, it was "folly" that Philo had in mind in describing the essential slave, as he clarified at length in Quod Omnis Probus:
We may well deride the folly of those who think that when they are released from the ownership of their masters they become free. Servants, indeed, they are no longer ..., but slaves they are and of the vilest kind ... to the least reputable of inanimate things, to strong drink, to pot-herbs, to baked meats.... Thus Diogenes the cynic, seeing one of the so-called freedmen pluming himself,... marveled at the absence of reason and discernment. "A man might as well," he said, "proclaim that one of his servants became from this day a grammarian, a geometrician, or musician, when he has no idea whatever of the art." For as the proclamation cannot make them men of knowledge, so neither can it make them free .... (117)
Here, Philo could hardly have been clearer in his view that the "slave indeed" was inherently a fool; he was marked by his "folly," that is, his irrational subjection to appetite and his "absence of reason and discernment." And, whereas the truly free were "men of knowledge," the essential slave simply "ha[d] no idea whatever...." In all of these statements on slavery we see ancient philosophers sophistically rationalizing what they had to in order to justify the existence of slavery, that is, insisting that those enslaved were inferior to their masters above all in terms of reason and that they were so by nature, not circumstance. The blackface tradition would disseminate and popularize these anesthetizing assumptions.
If, as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of slavery, David Brion Davis, has theorized, impositions of "bestialization" were central to the history of slavery since slaveholding societies often compared slaves with domesticated animals, (118) it is irrationality that is once again at issue in slavery and blackface traditions alike. In practice, the leap from an emblematic--and stereotypical--imposition of foolish reasoning to an assumed beastlike irrationality was, unhappily, evidently no great one. Once Africans were viewed as irrational as beasts, partly via the blackface tradition, they could be forced into the most bestial servitude. Such is the case in Richard Ligon's view, following his stay in Barbados in the 1640s, that its residents were "as neer beasts" or in Henry Whistler's account a few years later of African slaves as "apes whou [the planters] command as they pleas." (119) Such a connection may also have been made in prior Hispanic slave-trading cultures of the sixteenth century, via the pejorative word "zambo," one of the possible influences upon the name "Sambo," which apparently "meant a bowlegged person resembling a monkey." (120) Joseph Boskin suggested as much, arguing that "Spanish and Portuguese slavers mocked the Africans by calling them 'zamboes,'" which the "English translated ... into 'sambo.'" (121)
In the same manner, as Winthrop D. Jordan observed, the assertion of African irrationality and witlessness was made by way of direct or implied appeals to a pseudoscientific "Chain of Being" in which Africans were represented as being less than human, that is, one step up from apes in a supposed ascent toward the white man. Thus, Edward Topsell, author of The Historie of Four-Footed Beastes (London, 1607; repr., 1678), asserted that Africans "are Libidinous as Apes that attempt women" and are actually "deemed fools" because they have "thicke lippes, the upper hanging over the neather,... like the lips of Asses or Apes." (122) Here too, then, was "zambo." Likewise, "Pigmeys ... are not men, because they have no use of Reason,... and although they speak, yet is their language imperfect;... and their imitation of man, do plainly prove them rather to be Apes then Men." (123) Topsell's reasoning here meets one standard definition of "racism" as "a rationalized pseudoscientific theory positing the innate and permanent inferiority of nonwhites"--a definition its author, George M. Frederickson, believed applied to racial prejudice only after the early decades of the nineteenth century. (124) Instead, here already we glimpse the "simian imperialism" that Anne McClintock has postulated as a significant link between "scientific" and popular racism. (125) Although Jordan is thus certainly correct in noting early modern Europeans' frequent association of apes with Africans, he is admittedly less clear about why they might make such a leap in logic in the first place: "The inner logic of this association ... rather tenuously ... connected apes with blackness." (126)
One missing term in Jordan's argument here (and an assumption often either implicit or explicit in early modern rationalizing) is suggested by Topsell's references to apes "hav[ing] no use of Reason" and being "deemed foolish," since both "Asses and Apes" were associated with the irrational natural fool type, who we have seen was often represented as black in the period. In fact, it is fools or "divers[e] Jesters" and "laughter" that Topsell has very much in mind at the outset of his discussion of apes. For example, he tells his readers that the Greeks termed them "Gelotopoios, made for laughter," and he cites the authority of "Anacharsis the Philosopher," who remarked that "men do but feign merriments, whereas Apes are naturally made for that purpose." (127) Interestingly enough, fools such as Henry VIII's fool Will Somer in Henry VIII's 1545 family portrait and dwarfs such as Henrietta Maria's "hypopituitaristic or proportionate dwarf" Geoffrey in Anthony Van Dyck's 1633 portrait are often depicted with monkeys, since court fools traditionally "were put in charge of pet apes." (128) In the same way, Leandro Bassano's "Carnival Banquet" (late 1580s), one of the earliest paintings featuring Harlequin and "one of the few known paintings by a native Italian of the early commedia dell'arte," depicts the commedia clown, in a "black, beast-like mask" that appears apelike, further "aped" in that he dances alongside not only a monkey, but a dwarf wearing a similarly beastlike mask, with both diminutive figures mimicking his dance. (129) Similar disturbing juxtapositions are at work in Daniel Mytens's portrait of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, where the sitters preside over a scene featuring a black groom scantily clad in a leopard skin (suggestive of the leopard and Ethiope of Jeremiah that are unable to change their nature) and holding a horse's bridle, the dwarf Geoffrey holding a dog by a leash, and, on the viewer's lower right, a monkey astride the back of a dog. As Kim F. Hall remarks, "a connection between apes and blacks suggests that these figures represent a ... marginal humanity." (130) Clearly, such representations were also meant to suggest hierarchical tableaus of a Chain of Being in terms not just of scale but proportions of reason. (Similar hierarchically arranged racist spectacles would one day appear in zoos, natural history museums, and circuses in American cities like New York.) (131)
In addition, the word "ape" itself had a number of long-standing connotations with "fool," as in OED, 4, "a fool. God's ape: a natural born fool[:] to make any one his ape, to put an ape in his hood, to befool or dupe him. c. 1386 CHAUCER Prol. 706 'He made the ... peple his Apes ...' 1611 SHAKS Cymb. 4.2. (194) 'Jollity for Apes, and greef for Boyes'" and OED, 7, as "adj. Foolish, silly. adv. Foolishly, sillily. 1509 BARCLAY Ship of Fooles (1570) 33 'Some are ape dronke, full of laughter and of toyes.'" According to H. W. Janson in Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, "The concept of the ape as the image of the fool ... gradually replaced that of the 'simian sinner' in the course of the Late Middle Ages," and in England, "ape" first began to be used as an actual term for "fool" in the fourteenth century. (132) Moreover, it was partly through manuscript illustrations and subsequent prints (by famous Northern European artists such as Israel van Meckenem and Hans Holbein the Younger) of "the mirror-gazing ape as a symbol of vanitas" that fools were associated with the mirrors that recur frequently in many plays featuring blackface. (133) Woodcuts likewise linked captive, chained apes to court fools, since "the ape as domestic pet was the exact counterpart of the fool," (134) at least the natural fool. In such a context we are able to see that Topsell's logic, however grossly faulty, was not a wholly idiosyncratic leap (i.e., from African to Ape), but rather a chain of prevalent, and once closely related, demeaning symbolic associations between African/Blackness, the Blackfaced Natural Fool, and the Ape-as-Natural-Fool by way of the natural fools' conventional association with both blackness and apes. That is to say, in the iconography of the blackface tradition, the early Chain of Being that reflected the logic of a "simian imperialism" was not merely Rational Man over Irrational Man over Ape but rather the following Chain of Being: Rational/White Man over Irrational Man/Blackfaced Natural Fool/African over Foolish Black Ape. Clearly, such a rationalized assumption of reason as the exclusive, natural inheritance of "whites," as against purportedly innately, permanently irrational and beast-like "blacks," who were deemed natural or "born" fools, prefigured and prepared the way for nineteenth-century "scientific" racist discourse on the "nature" of different races that may be traced in part to the natural fool traditions.
After all, the spirit or essence of the folk tradition of blackface experienced many transmigrations into more respected or refined forms of discourse--whether natural history, philosophy, linguistics, pseudoscience, or pseudo-biblical theories. In particular, the mixing of an emblem or sign from folk tradition (here, blackface) and scientific discourse (as in Topsell on nature) is an instance of the dynamic of "transcodification," mentioned by Vaughan, by which the codes of one type of discourse transfer to another. Vaughan speculates that such transference of blackface as "a simple sign ... to other sorts of discourse systems" may have been "widespread," (135) and, though the sign was not always so simple, my own findings demonstrate that transference in fact occurred between early blackface and emergent racist discourse. For instance, early nineteenth-century articulations of racist scientific theories such as "polygenesis"--the theory of the separate creation of races as distinct species, according to which, to cite an example from 1830, there was a "vast preeminence of the Caucasian in intellect" as a "gift of nature" (136)--introduced some (yet surprisingly little) new terminology, but not fundamentally new ideas. That is, the pseudoscientific pose of reason in the nineteenth century was not really essentially different than that of Renaissance science. It was no mere coincidence therefore that early dramatists were staging personifications of "Science" shunning a character in blackface as a fool in the Wit plays; such drama was not merely inadvertently foreshadowing future developments, since Renaissance science was already being appropriated to slur blackness as an innate mark of congenital folly. Nineteenth-century scientific poseurs reenacting the foolish logic and spirit of the blackfaced fool tradition and the stereotypes it had long promoted may have become more sophisticated--or, rather, sophistic--in their treatment of "nature," but when they based their irrational assumptions on appeals to Nature, the ideas were not new; if the form of discourse seems different, the old code of blackness connoting natural folly was one and the same. Here was the essence of blackface transmigrated into a higher form, or perhaps merely dressed-up in the latest scientific garb, but the old, "tatyrd" medieval-Renaissance fashion of the natural fool shows through all the same.
Before the nineteenth century's scientific poseurs, eighteenth-century thinkers had already attempted to rationalize the codes of blackface folly by applying the philosophical veneer so admired in their day upon what was still finally the dubious old logic underlying a timeworn blackface mask. Henry Louis Gates has demonstrated, for instance, that philosophers such as Hume, Kant, and Hegel, in turn, each conflated a black complexion and diminished intellectual capacity. For example, in "Of National Characters" (1748), "suspect[ing] the negroes ... to be naturally inferior," and asserting that "There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white," Hume dismissed "talk of one negroe as a man of parts and learning," believing that he must "be admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot who speaks a few words plainly." Writing in Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764), Kant similarly asserted, "so fundamental is the difference between [the black and white] races of man, and it appears to be as great in regard to mental capacities as in color" and, more bluntly, "blacks are lower in their mental capacities than all other races." Kant can thus dismiss a black man's comments through choplogic: "[I]n short, this fellow was quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what he said was stupid." Subsequently, Hegel, likewise assuming Africans "capable of no development or culture" whatsoever, deemed slavery a necessary "phase of education--a mode of becoming participant in a higher" civilization (the very argument enacted through the dramas of the naturally incorrigible Ingnorance and Moros). (137) In each instance, eighteenth-century philosophers found a black complexion less theologically than intellectually damning. Yet again, more than associations of blackness with evil, assumptions derived from the heretofore ignored blackfaced fool tradition were exploited in attempts to legitimize slavery.
The multilayered codes of blackface had also been appropriated, applied, and transferred in prior rationalizations, as they informed the connection between blackness and transgression, another facet of blackfaced folly in the Renaissance that could be exploited to justify slavery. In fact, one of the popular early modern theories of racial difference, a purportedly biblical theory (actually based upon Jewish oral tradition of the story of Ham's disobedience in Genesis 9:18-27), (138) accounts for the origins of blackness as a punishment or curse from God for vaguely defined transgression. (139) Arguing against a then-popular Climate theory that ascribed blackness to "the parching heat of the Sunne," in his Discourse (1578), Best claimed that blackness was instead the result of the "wicked Spirite" Satan who tempted one of Noah's three sons (Ham) "to transgresse and disobey his fathers commaundment, [so] that after him all his posteritie should be accursed." In Best's inaccurate version of the story, when Noah "straitely commaunded his sonnes and their wives ... while they remained in the Arke, [that] they should ... abstaine from carnall copulation with their wives," his "wicked sonne Cham [Ham] disobeyed." In consequence, "as an example for contempt of Almightie God, and disobedience of parents," God ordained the birth of a son, Chus, "who not onely it selfe, but all his posteritie after him should bee so blacke and lothsome, that it might remaine a spectacle of disobedience to all the world." (140) Mixing religious legend and pseudoscience, Best believed that after the curse on Ham, blackness became a "natural infection," indeed an "infection of blood." (141) Alongside a notion of an infection by nature, other toxic assumptions of natural folly appear in the Ham mythologies, as in William Strachey's 1612 remark that "what country soever the children of Cham happended to possess, there biganne both the Ignoraunce of true godlinesse ... and Ignoraunce of true worship of God." (142) The legends that surround Ham also often include laughter as an otherwise curious element. (143) If in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Ham story was one foundation myth rationalizing slavery, the blackface tradition had long accomplished similar degradation, and it, too, had long been associated with transgression.
Transgression, after all, Linda Woodbridge notes, pertained to blackness especially in the Renaissance when blackface was "a hallmark of popular rites." (144) A link between blackface and associations with often inversive, festive folly appears, for instance, in corn riots, which, Natalie Zemon Davis demonstrates, were led by women or men dressed as women, who, Wood-bridge argues, often wore blackface. (145) C. R. Baskervill cites John Aubrey's Remains for the game "Cap Justice," in which, Baskervill explains, "the judge who presides has his face blackened by those who plead before him." (146) Similarly, Barry Reay recounts an early modern tradition in Middleton on Easter Tuesday in which "some unlucky fellow who had got himself so far intoxicated as not to be able to take care of himself," was elected mock-mayor, had his face "daubed with soot and grease," was dressed in every possible "article of adornment and deformity," and was paraded through town on a chair. (147) Of course, blackface was also often assumed by participants in Carnival. In his section, Von fassnacht narren (Of Carnival Fools), Sebastian Brant spoke contemptuously in his Ship of Fools (1495, 2nd ed.) of those maskers who blacked themselves and ran amok, just as Englishman Alexander Barclay remarks in his free translation Shyp of Folys: "The one ... paynteth his visage with fume in such case ... / And other some besyde theyr vayne habyte / Defyle theyr faces." (148)
I would suggest that blackface in these customs, in conjunction with popular rites featuring comic butts in blackface, invoked the tradition of the natural fool, whose transgression was both licensed and mocked. After all, "[s]ince he does not comprehend the conventions of society," Walter Kaiser observes, "the natural fool is invariably irreverent of those conventions, not out of any motives of iconoclasm but simply because he does not know any better." (149) As Enid Welsford put it, his "mental deficiencies" can often have the effect of "put[ting] him in ... [a] position of virtual outlawry"; by his very nature the natural fool "stand[s] outside the law" and tends "to turn the world upside down." (150) A black face became a sign of one marked as both transgressor and butt and thus as a scapegoat, a whipping boy, an insipiens, a fool--and also a slave. Here again the license authorized by blackface, which modern scholars have occasionally invoked as liberating, was symbolically and stereotypically limiting.
If since at least the fifteenth century the blackface tradition had the effect of rationalizing slavery, by the nineteenth century it was especially underwriting the myth of the happy but incorrigible plantation slave. Notably, in the 1850s, Thomas R. R. Cobb's influential defense of slavery, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery, rested partly upon the idea that black peoples were "mirthful by nature." (151) Years earlier, writing of Southern slaves, John Pendleton Kennedy was likewise "quite sure" in his Swallow Barn (1832) that "never could they become a happier people than I find them here." (152) The black man was, of course, believed innately happy because he was assumed to be simply a natural. In fact, as Boskin argues, his humor was depicted as that of "the fool." (153) Washington Irving thus found the "negroes" he described in Knickerbocker's History of New York (1809) as "famous for their risible powers," (154) while English comedian John Bernard, following a visit to America between 1797 and 1811, termed "the negroes the greatest humorists of the union" because of their "profound simplicity," their "natural drollery," which was "Nature's spontaneous product in full bloom." (155) Boskin demonstrates further that "once the conception of the black male as the fool became the primary focus of white imagery, it assumed a centripetal energy of its own, as stereotypes often do." (156) A key in such stereotyping was, once again, the figure of Sambo: "slow-witted, loosely-shuffling, buttock-scratching, benignly-optimistic, superstitiously-frightened, childishly lazy, irresponsibly-carefree,... sexually-animated. His physical characteristics added to the jester's appearance: toothy-grinned,... slack-jawed, round-eyed." (157) But this description seems as apt for the age-old natural fool as for the more recent blackface minstrelsy of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for Sambo is but the latest name for the natural fool in blackface. Reduced under such a stereotype to the level of a smiling, dehumanized buffoon, any black male could be deemed impervious to pain and incapable of sorrow, so that real guilt or culpability on the part of slaveholders--as opposed to the maudlin sentimentality and disabling pathos sometimes attached to the natural fool tradition and plantation myth alike--was not only unnecessary but inconceivable. That is, through such a Sambo stereotype, black men were constructed as childishly incapable of caring for themselves, assisting the condescending paternalism and "degraded man-child" stereotype that was "an ideological imperative of all systems of slavery," (158) but especially of the American South.
Of course, as with other natural fool traditions, the specific plantation stereotype of the irrepressibly childlike Sambo found its origins in ridicule and shame. His name, for instance, in addition to owing a debt to the pejorative Spanish "zambo," also apparently derives from West African cultures, particularly the Mende and Vai communities, among whom "sambo" or "sam bo" meant "to disgrace"; the name, as applied to African slaves, appears at least as early as 1692-93, when the ship Margarett included as recorded cargo: "2 Negroes Sambo and Jack." (159) But the origins of Sambo before that, Boskin observes, have always been obscure: "There is no precise date, but Sambo was apparently conceived in the minds of Western Europeans in their early interactions with Africans in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries and was born during the early period of the slave trade." (160) Elsewhere, Boskin speculates: "In all probability, the American Sambo was conceived in Europe, particularly in England, and drew his first breath with initial contact with West Africans during the slave-trading years. Sambo was a concept long before assuming a specific identity." (161) But we are presently able to move beyond Boskin's apt conjecture, since we know now that the "concept" he posits was that of the natural fool, and that the enduring type that came to be known finally as Sambo took some of his earliest breaths on the stage under names like Tutuvillus, Ingnorance, Moros, and Harlequin, the latter of whom was already an international icon of popular culture by the late sixteenth century. Subsequently, under the name Sambo, a word of disgrace, the blackfaced fool became "a multipublic figure by the eighteenth century," (162) and he achieved fame that lasted through the early twentieth century: "No comic figure played to wider audiences, received more thunderous applause, or lasted as long in the popular theatre." (163) Yet, we must now admit as much for the blackfaced fool generally, for "Sambo was simply one of the most enduring names given to an old fool-type.
Blackness was not a simple sign associated with evil alone, since buried associations between blackface and folly had, as we have seen, numerous reinforcing connections, some subtle, others not. More importantly, though long ignored, associations with folly were, ironically enough, more damning than "evil" associations in the construction of stereotypes that were used to justify racial domination and to rationalize slavery. In Renaissance English drama alone, blackfaced fools or foolish black devils appear in plays by Chapman, Dekker, Drayton, Edwards, Fullwell, Garter, Greene, Haughton, both Heywoods, Ingeland, Jonson, Lupton, Merbury, Rastell, Redford, Wager, Westcote, Wever, and Woodes. Even in Othello (1604), the symbolism of blackfaced folly is deployed meaningfully throughout the play. In an allusion to the Wit interludes, Shakespeare depicts the noble Moor's wits or "best judgement collied" (2.3.202), that is, metaphorically blackened by the vicelike Iago. Bigoted characters such as Iago and Emilia subsequently impose terms suggesting folly upon Othello--"fool" (5.2.231), "credulous fool" (4.1.45), "coxcomb" (5.2.231), "ass" (2.1.307), "gull" (5.2.159), "dolt" (5.2.150), "mad" (4.1.101), "light of brain" (4.1.269), "ignorant as dirt" (5.2.160), and led as easily "[a]s asses are" (1.3.401)--and Othello finally rebukes himself with "O fool, fool, fool!" (5.2.321). And, whether used to mark the insipiens, a foolish devil, Johan Johan, Humanyte, a gulled Wit, Ingnorance, the lewd "blackeman" that offended Cecilia, Moros, a participant in any of several European popular rites, Grim the Collier, Harlequin, or Sambo, blackface masks were often emblematic of the natural fool, a butt or gull who was laughed at, scapegoated, and abused while being constructed as mentally deficient, transgressive, and as essentially "other."
Although popular cultures are undoubtedly subject to discontinuities and inventions, the long-ignored early blackface tradition, like much fool custom generally, was especially stubborn and resilient. The iconography of blackface as emblem of folly is the result of the influence and conflation of many old popular traditions, each of which, no doubt, originally had different potential symbolic terms that were distilled over time as emblematic of folly. Whatever its origins, myriad transmigrations, and unconscious transcodifications, the palimpsest that was the blackfaced natural fool tradition had devastating consequences as its codes eventually underwrote dehumanizing racist theories articulated more fully, but often only in slightly different idiom (ranging from religious to philosophical and scientific discourse), in later centuries. Because prior depictions originated some of the racist fantasies staged by blackface minstrels and underwrote otherwise inexplicable racist theories of African inferiority, forging early links in the enslaving fiction of the "Great Chain of Being," the widespread, yet previously overlooked natural fool iconography of blackness warrants examination. In the end, one thing we will find is that racism was/is not only folly, but often the stuff of actual fools' play as well.
This essay is in part a follow-up to issues first raised in my article, "Emblems of Folly in the First Othello: Renaissance Blackface, Moor's Coat, and 'Muckender,'" Comparative Drama, special issue, "Reading Othello," 35.1 (Spring 2001): 69-100. I would like to thank Oglethorpe University for support that allowed research at the British Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale, and the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, and the Library of Congress; participants at the Citadel Conference on Literature in 2002, the national convention of the Popular Culture Association, and the Second and Third Blackfriars Scholars Conferences (particularly Ralph Cohen of the American Shakespeare Center, Patrick Spottiswode of the Globe Theatre and the International Shakespeare Center, and Virginia Mason Vaughan) in 2003 and 2005, for their encouragement; and especially Jeanne H. McCarthy, Oscar G. Brockett, Elizabeth M. Richmond-Garza, and Leah S. Marcus for comments at various stages of the project.
1. State Papers, Foreign, 1569-71, no. 2149. Quoted in Ethel Seaton, Queen Elizabeth and the Swedish Princess: Being an Account of the Visit of Princess Cecilia of Sweden to England in 1565  (London: Frederich Etchells & Hugh Macdonald, 1926), 21.
2. In Queen Elizabeth and the Swedish Princess, Seaton attempted to answer this question and suggested that the play may well have been the Boys of Westminster School's Latin play, Sapientia Solomonis, or The Wisdom of Solomon (January 1566). After all, at the same time that the play flatters Elizabeth's wisdom, the subject matter and the epilogue both draw unflattering comparisons between the by-then unwelcome Cecilia and Sheba (Seaton, 21). Although this speculation seemed plausible enough, Elizabeth Rogers Payne objected: "But since there is no reason to suppose that Marcolph was represented as a 'blackeman' ... (even though he was traditionally 'of an evill favored countenaunce'), the cause for Cecilia's offense was probably not the Sapientia" (148). On this debate, see Elizabeth Rogers Payne, Sapientia Solomonis: Acted Before the Queen by the Boys of Westminster School, January 17, 1565/6 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1938), 148n30.
3. See particularly David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) and George M. Frederickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), especially 15-48, where Frederickson locates the descent into racism in the West in religious traditions of the late Middle Ages. Other works are cited below and throughout.
4. See, for instance, David M. Goldenberg, The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003) and Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); see also Frederickson's chapter on "Religion and the Invention of Racism" in his Racism: A Short History, 15-48.
5. Dympna Callaghan, Shakespeare Without Women: Representing Gender and Race on the Renaissance Stage (New York: Routledge, 2000), 93.
6. According to noted historian of the Devil, Jeffrey Burton Russell, "The color black (as opposed to absence of light) is not a symbol of evil in the Old Testament or in the Apocalyptic period.... Even where color symbolism is striking ... neither red nor black becomes symbolically fixed as evil as both would do in Christian iconography" (Devil, 217n95). Likewise, "nowhere does [the New Testament] describe Satan as actually black," and "Only in the later Apocryphal literature is blackness specifically assigned to the Devil" (Devil, 247): "As early as about 120 A.D. the Epistle of Barnabas designated Satan as ho melas, the black one" (Devil, 247n41)--"The equation of evil, darkness, and blackness, a source of later racial stereotypes, occurs here for the first time in Christian literature" (Satan, 40). Elsewhere, Russell records that "His first clear appearance as black [in an illustration] ... was in the ninth-century Stuttgart Psalter" (Lucifer, 133). Russell conjectures ("but the connection is uncertain") that there may be some association with the festive, but also ambivalently anarchic and destructive figure of Dionysus, who "was sometimes black" (Devil, 253) and "who was sometimes called 'he of the black goat' and portrayed as shaggy" (Devil, 141). The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (1987; repr., Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977); Satan: The Early Christian Tradition (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981); Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).
7. See Anthony Gerard Barthelemy, Black Face, Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama from Shakespeare to Southerne (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987); Eliot Tokson, The Popular Image of the Black Man in English Drama, 1550-1688 (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982); Jack D'Amico, The Moor in the English Renaissance Drama (Tampa: University of South Florida Press, 1991). Here quoting Barthelemy, 3-4.
8. Virginia Mason Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 24. On the blackness of the Devil, damned souls in the medieval cycle plays, and drama inspired by such connections, see 19-25, 34, 39, 62, 75, 81, 82, 87, 89, 91, 120.
9. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun "natural" as "one naturally deficient in intellect; a half-witted person" (OED, 2), providing examples such as the usage by Thomas More in 1533: "It could never be done more naturally, not thovgh he that wrote it were even a very naturall in dede." Likewise, the OED defines the adjective "natural," when used in "natural fool," as "one who is by nature deficient in intelligence; a fool or simpleton by birth," offering references that include one from Henry VIII's reign in 1540: "Ideottes and fooles naturall, now remayning ... in his graces custodye." However, natural folly included connotations of two OED definitions of "folly" itself: "the quality or state of being foolish or deficient in understanding; want of good sense, weakness or derangement of mind; also unwise conduct" (OED, 1) and "madness, insanity, mania" (OED, 4). For criticism on natural fools, see Enid Welsford, The Fool: His Social and Literary History (London: Faber and Faber, 1935); Leslie Hotson, Shakespeare's Motley (New York: Oxford University Press, 1952); Walter Kaiser, Praisers of Folly: Erasmus, Rabelais, Shakespeare (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963); John Southworth, Fools and Jesters at the English Court (Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 1998), 48-60; and my own articles, "Emblems of Folly in the First Othello: Renaissance Blackface, Moor's Coat, and 'Muckender'" and especially "The Fool in Quarto and Folio King Lear," English Literary Renaissance 34.3 (2004): 306-38.
10. The Creation, in The Towneley Plays, ed. Martin Stevens and A. C. Cawley (New York: Published for the Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1994), vol. 1, ll. 132-36, 7; emphasis added. All subsequent references will be cited parenthetically.
11. As Martin Stevens and James Paxson have shown, the word "foyll" certainly means "fool" as elsewhere in the Towneley cycle Jesus's enemies taunt him calling him "a flateryng foyll" and "fond foyll." Stevens and Paxson, "The Fool in the Wakefield Plays," Studies in Iconography 13 (1989-90): 48-79; here quoting 48.
12. Ibid., 76.
13. Ibid., 49, 76.
14. The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. R. M. Lumiansky and David Mills, Early English Text Society, Supplementary Series 3 (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), cited hereafter parenthetically by line numbers.
15. The Creation, and the Fall of Lucifer, in Everyman and the Medieval Miracle Plays, ed. A. C. Cawley (1956; repr., London: Everyman, 1999), l. 101, p. 6 and l. 30, p. 4. Hereafter cited parenthetically by line numbers.
16. Cawley, Everyman and the Medieval Miracle Plays, 7.
17. Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 15.
18. Meg Twycross and Sarah Carpenter, Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England (Burlington: Ashgate, 2002), 202.
19. W. T. Lhamon Jr., Jump Jim Crow: Lost Plays, Lyrics, and Street Prose of the First Atlantic Popular Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 204.
20. Dale Cockrell, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 106; emphasis mine. Surprisingly, Cockrell does not develop the connection.
21. Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics (1969; rev. ed.: Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1985), 42.
22. W. T. Lhamon Jr., Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 188. Lhamon does not address madness.
23. Lhamon, Raising Cain, 188.
24. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996), 98.
25. Welsford, Fool: His Social and Literary History, 55.
26. Patrick Rael, "The Long Death of Slavery," chapter 4 in Slavery in New York, ed. Ira Berlin and Leslie M. Harris, published in conjunction with the New-York Historical Society (New York: New Press, 2005), 140.
27. John D. Cox, The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama, 1350-1642 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), throughout, but especially on 23, where Cox employs a curiously selective criterion for establishing the "seriousness" of theatrical devils, so that he offers as the one supposed exception proving his rule, the following: "Only N-Town includes the merest suggestion of scatalogical humor in the first play: when Lucifer encounters hell, he exclaims, 'For fere of Fyre a fart I cracke!' (N-Town Play, 24/8r)."
28. Peter Happe, "The Devil in the Interludes, 1550-1577," Medieval English Theatre 11.1-2 (1989): 43. For another exception to the tendency to ignore the Devil's foolishness, see Allardyce Nicoll who at least recognized the Devil's comic role across Europe as he observed that "[i]n the mystery plays [the Devil] becomes almost a comic type.... [I]n the mystery cycles the Devil is continually being dragged in, even where he is not strictly required, and scenes of diablerie are introduced purely for their own merriment." Yet, even Nicoll, unaware of the extent to which fool and devil were often conflated, was puzzled upon finding that "the [devil named] Stultus ('Fool') of the French Ste Barbe indicates a possible confusion with the fool tradition." Nicoll, Masks, Mimes and Miracles: Studies in the Popular Theatre (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931), 187 (emphasis added), 188. See also 187n3 for Nicoll's sources on comic devils in the medieval French and German traditions.
29. Happe, "The Devil in the Interludes," 48-49.
30. Ibid., 51. In Anne Lancashire's London Civic Theatre, we learn of such masks already in use in English theatrical entertainments at least by 1377 in a mumming featuring eight to ten mummers with "visers nayrs come debblers" or "black masks like devils." London Civic Theatre: City Drama and Pageantry from Roman Times to 1558 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 42.
31. REED: Coventry, 224, 230, 237, 464, 474-75. 93; 59, 74, 84, 93, 111, 177 (dating from 1477-1554); and 220, 278, 464, 468, 474.
32. Twycross and Carpenter, Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England, 330.
33. Happe, "The Devil in the Interludes," 47, 43.
34. Ibid., 45, 47.
35. An additional allusion to a mask as a familiar emblem of shameful folly appears in John Skelton's Magnyfycence (ca. 1516), where, after Folly promises Fancy and Crafty Conveyance, "I can make ye both fools" (Four Morality Plays, ed. Peter Happe [Bungay, Suffolk: Penguin, 1979], l. 1174, 259), the following exchange occurs:
Crafty Conveyance. In a cote thou can play well the dyser [i.e., fool]. Folly. Ye, but thou can play the fole without a vyser. (ll. 1177-78; emphasis added)
A "vyser" (likely black) seems to have been emblematic of folly, since, ironically, the insult implying Crafty Conveyance's innate or natural folly makes little sense if playing the fool with a "vyser" (or at least some face paint) were not conventional in the morality play.
36. Russell, Lucifer, 60, 76.
37. Russell, Satan, 213.
38. See "J7730 Absurd Ignorance": "D834.... Man gets shelter in storm; devil gets wet. Devil gives man magic objects in return for information as to how he kept dry." Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, vol. 4. J-K, in Indiana University Studies 22 (Sept., Dec., 1934), Studies nos. 105, 106, 151-52.
39. Happe, "The Devil in the Interludes," 95.
40. The stubbornness of comic associations with the Devil--and blackness--is evident in William Mountford's The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus Made into a Farce With the Humours of Harlequin and Scaramouche (1697), in which a stage direction reads: "Enters Several Devils, who black Harlequin and Scaramouche's Faces, and then Squirt Milk upon them" (sig. D1v).
41. Stevens and Paxson, "The Fool in the Wakefield Plays," 79.
42. Margaret Jennings, Tutivillus: The Literary Career of the Recording Demon (Studies in Philology, Texts and Studies, 74.5 [Dec. 1977]: 10-11.
43. Ibid., 35-36, 66.
44. Four Morality Plays, l. 199.
45. Three Late Medieval Morality Plays, ed. G. A. Lester (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981), 132.
46. D. J. Gifford, "Iconographical Notes Towards a Definition of the Medieval Fool," in The Fool and the Trickster: Studies in Honour of Enid Welsford, ed. Paul V. A. Williams, 18 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1979). See also Southworth, Fools and Jesters at the English Court, 36-37.
47. British Library, MS. Add. 44874, fol. 75.
48. A Selection from the Minor Poems of Dan John Lydgate, ed. Hames Orchard Halliwell (London: Percy Society, 1860), 164.
49. Quoted in Southworth, Fools and Jesters at the English Court, 37; Southworth is not discussing Moros, however.
50. Ahuva Belkin, "Antichrist as the Embodiment of the Insipiens in Thirteenth-Century French Psalters," Florilegium 10 (1988-91): 71-72.
51. See the excellent facsimile edition, Der Stuttgarter Bilderpsalter Bibl. Fol. 23 Wurrtembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart (Stuttgart: E. Schreiber Graphishe Kunstanstalten, 1965), vol. 1 of 2, sig. 15r. The insipiens is on the upper right.
52. Russell, Lucifer, 133. Russell makes no reference to the black insipiens.
53. For illustrations of devils as black in the facsimile edition of Der Stuttgarter Bilderpsalter, see sigs. 10v, 16v, 38r, 70v, 102v, 107r, 107v, and 147v. For the blackened "D," see sig. 65r.
54. Sandra Billington, A Social History of the Fool (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984), 12.
55. Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390-1490. A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 6, 2 vols. (London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1996), 2:75, table I; Kathleen L. Scott, "Limning and Book-producing Terms and Signs in situ in Late-Medieval English Manuscripts: A First Listing," in New Science Out of Old Books: Studies in Manuscripts and Early Printed Books in Honour of A. L. Doyle, ed. Richard Beadle and A. J. Piper, 165n29 (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995).
56. Paul Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), 133-73, 300-303.
57. David Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), 132.
58. Carolyn Prager, "'If I be Devil': English Renaissance Response to the Proverbial and Ecumenical Ethiopian," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 17.2 (Fall 1987): 262 (emphasis added); Prager is discussing and citing John Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, trans. John Owen, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1860), 191.
59. Carolyn Prager, "'If I be Devil,'" 261-62; discussing and citing Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, 191-93.
60. Joseph E. Harris, Africans and Their History, 2nd rev. ed. (1972; New York: Penguin, 1998), 7; emphasis added.
61. Stephen Booth notes that the meaning of blackness was "established by its contrast to fair: ... ugly (Shakespeare and his contemporaries regularly use black as if it were a simple antonym for 'beautiful' ...)." Shakespeare's Sonnets: Edited with Analytic Commentary by Stephen Booth (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 434; here commenting on Sonnet 127.
62. John Redford, Wit and Science, ed. Arthur Brown (Oxford: Printed for the Malone Society Reprints at the University Press, 1951), ll. 434-35; emphasis added. All subsequent citations refer to this edition and will be cited parenthetically.
63. Associations between both lustful natural folly and blackness and between episodes of trickery and the blacking of a "gulled" comic butt are to be found in several prevalent synonyms for the word "fool" involving black- or black-headed birds. The word "noddy," for instance, which we have seen self-consciously applied in blackface episodes, according to the OED, meant not only "A fool, simpleton, noodle" (OED, 1), but could also refer to "A soot-coloured sea-bird" (OED, 2), that is, the "Black Noddy." Like the noddy, other English names for birds, such as the "jackdaw," a small crowlike bird, the Brown Booby with its dark-cowled head, the dark-headed "loon" (i.e., the Old World species of Arctic Loon [Gavia arctica] which has an even darker head in breeding season), and the "gull," particularly the Common or Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)--which is familiar all over Europe and on which the breeding plumage on the head becomes dark brown in the summer as it breeds in northern Europe--were all synonymous with fools. Other species of gulls familiar to sailors, such as the Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla), whose cry resembles human laughter, share the dark head of the Black-headed Gull. The iconography of blackface would thus help to explain the obscure, "doubtful and perhaps mixed origin" in the sixteenth century of the word "gull": "A credulous person; one easily imposed upon; a dupe, simpleton, fool" (OED, 1). As in the case of "gull," the OED describes "loon" as "Of obscure origin; the early forms [i.e., spellings] do not favour the current hypothesis of conne[ct]ion with early mod[ern] Du[tch] loen 'homo stupidus'...." Yet, at least five words for relatively intelligent black or black-headed bird species (noddy, jackdaw, gull, booby, loon) suggested folly partly via the iconography of blackness. No one, to my knowledge, has previously noted this connection.
64. In stagings of the scene I directed at the Second and Third Blackfriars Scholars Conferences at the Blackfriars Theatre in Staunton, Virginia (2003 and 2005), I prompted the actor playing Ingnorance to closely imitate or mirror both the body language and inflection of Idlenes in the language lesson in which Ingnorance foolishly parrots the vice either syllable-for-syllable, word-for-word, or sentence-for-sentence. Such a staging proved effective, particularly given the heightened symbolic import in the play of mirroring via the "glass of Reason" elsewhere.
65. Despite such emphasis, scholars have generally failed to acknowledge the blacking episode. Reavley Gair, for instance, only tentatively suggests that Wyt's transformation was "effected in part by a visual change and presumably make-up." The Children of Paul's: The Story of a Theatre Company, 1553-1608 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 77.
66. Lhamon, Raising Cain, 42; Twycross and Carpenter, Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England, 11 and 316.
67. Alexander Saxton, "Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology," American Quarterly 27.1 (Mar. 1975): 23; see Henry Louis Gates, Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the "Racial" Self (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 51.
68. See The Marriage of Wit and Science, ed. John S. Farmer (London: Tudor Facsimile Texts, 1909), v. All citations refer to this edition and will be cited parenthetically; see also Gair, Children of Paul's, 84.
69. The Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom, ed. Trevor N. S. Lennam (1966; repr., Oxford: Printed for the Malone Society Reprints at the Oxford University Press, 1971), ix.
70. For a discussion of such, see Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 9-14, and Richard Blunt's Recreating Renaissance Black Make-Up, MLITT in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance (Mary Baldwin College, Spring 2006). Blunt found through experimentation and staged demonstration that the most durable of the methods available for representing blackness in the Renaissance was tempera with walnut pigment, recipes for which appeared in both Ben Jonson's The Gypsy Metamorphosed (1612) and Johann Jacob Wecker's book Cosmetick, or The Beautifying Part of Physick (surviving edition published in 1660, although Wrecker died in 1586). See 24-25, 37-38.
71. Sir Thomas More: A play by Anthony Munday and others; revised by Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood and William Shakespeare, ed. Vittorio Gabrieli and Giorgio Melchiori (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), 142-43.
72. Three Rastell Plays: Four Elements, Calisto and Melebea, Gentleness and Nobility, ed. Richard Axton (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1979), 59. Subsequent citations appear parenthetically by line number.
73. Trevor Lennam, Sebastian Westcott, the Children of Paul's, and The Marriage of Wit and Science (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975), 94.
74. The Plays of John Heywood, ed. Richard Axton and Peter Happe (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991), 88 and 91.
75. Note that in the following discussion I do not mean to suggest a direct influence of Harlequin upon the blackfaced fool tradition in England. Although commedia troupes appeared in London in 1573 and 1574, it was not until 1578 that a Drusiano, "an Italian, a commediante, and his companye," performed in London. Drusiano Martinelli was a famous Harlequin and brother to the more acclaimed Tristano Martinelli, the self-styled dominus Arlecchinorum, who may also have been traveling with the company. In any case, Harlequin seems not to have appeared in England until well after a number of English plays featuring blackfaced fools. On commedia in Renaissance England, see Richard B. Zacha, "Iago and the Commedia dell'Arte," Arlington Quarterly 2.2 (Autumn 1969): 101; Dario Fo, The Tricks of the Trade, trans. Joe Farrell (New York: Routledge, 1991), 42.
76. David B. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966), 43.
77. Elizabeth Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, vol. 1 of 4 vols. (1930; repr., New York: Octagon Books, 1965), 1; Ulrich B. Phillips, American Negro Slavery (1966; repr., Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990), 12.
78. Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, 1:5; Phillips, American Negro Slavery, 12-13.
79. Harry Harmer, The Longman Companion to Slavery, Emancipation and Civil Rights, (London: Longman, 2001), 3; Harris, Africans and Their History, 81.
80. Harmer, Longman Companion to Slavery, Emancipation and Civil Rights, 5.
81. Davis, Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 170.
82. Kim F. Hall, Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 19n24.
83. See Paul Edwards, "The Early African Presence in the British Isles," in Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain: From Roman Times to the Mid-Twentieth Century, ed. Jagdish S. Gundara and Ian Duffield, 9-29 (Aldershot: Averbury, 1992): Sue Niebrzydowski, "The Sultana and Her Sisters: Black Women in the British Isles Before 1530," Women's History Review (Great Britain) 2001 10(2): 187-210.
84. Philip D. Morgan, "British Encounters with Africans and African-Americans, circa 1600-1780," in Strangers Within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the First British Empire, ed. Bernard Bailyn and Philip D. Morgan (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 159; Hall, Things of Darkness, 21.
85. Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, 1:8.
86. Winthrop D. Jordan, White over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968), 6.
87. James Walvin, The Black Presence: A Documentary History of the Negro in England, 1555-1860 (Surrey: Orbach and Chambers, 1971), 61, 212nl.
88. Hall, Things of Darkness, 19.
89. Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, 1:45.
90. Walvin, Black Presence, 50.
91. Harmer, Longman Companion to Slavery, Emancipation and Civil Rights, 6.
92. On Certain Passages in the Life of Sir John Hawkins, temp. Elizabeth. In a Letter from Captain W.H. Smyth,... Director of the Royal Geographical Society of London, & c. to Sir Henry Ellis, K.H., Secretary, in Archaeologia or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity, published by the Society of Antiquaries of London, vol. 33 (London: J. B. Nichols and Son, 1849), 205, emphasis added. Similar family crests featuring "negro heads" appeared, intriguingly enough, by at least the late fifteenth century, but that their meaning reflects participation in the slave trade, as with Hawkins, has been disputed. See Marika Sherwood, "Black People in Tudor England," History Today (Oct. 2003), 4.
93. Hall, Things of Darkness, 21.
94. Engel Sluiter, "New Light on the '20. and Odd Negroes' Arriving in Virginia, August 1619," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 54 (1997): 396-98; John K. Thornton, "The African Experience of the '20. and Odd Negroes' Arriving in Virginia in 1619," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 55 (July 1998): 421-34; and John K. Thornton, Angolans in the Early Dutch Atlantic, 1615-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). See also Harmer, Longman Companion to Slavery, Emancipation and Civil Rights, 13-14.
95. Michael Wood, Shakespeare (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 251. Long ignored, more and more evidence is emerging supporting Wood's conclusion, notably in parish records indicating that a number of the Africans or "Blackamoors" in Renaissance England were Christian. Among the records of St. Botolph's parish outside Aid-gate, for instance, beginning especially in the 1590s, there appear numerous entries for the necessarily Christian burial of Elizabethan "blackamoores" such as "Easfanyyo a neagar servant," "Cassangoe A blacke A moore," and "A Negar whose name was suposed to be Francis ... servant to Mr Peter Miller a beare brewer" (Wood, Shakespeare, 252). Likewise, Marika Sherwood has demonstrated, at "All Hallowes, Barking," in 1599, we find recorded the burial of "a blackamore servaunt to Jeronimo Lopez" and of "Mary a Negra at Richard Woodes," just as at "All Sayntes Stayninges Parish" a "Fardinando, a Blackmore" appears in the records in 1582. Not only were many among the English black population Christian, but some of them were undoubtedly free, as was a "Peter Negro" who received awards for his military service in 1546, knightship in September 1547, and an annuity until he died of the "sweating sickness" in 1551. On the other hand, there are numerous accounts of black women, such as the famous beauty "Lucy Negro," forced into working as prostitutes in London in the 1590s. Often, it seems to have been especially the nobility who had black servants or slaves, suggesting that such attendance was intended to enhance the status and power of the noble master. And so, Leicester's household accounts include awards "to the blackamore" in 1583 and 1584; and Raleigh had a black page (aged ten when he was baptized at St. Luke's in Kensington in 1597) as well as two adult male black servants. Sherwood, "Black People in Tudor England," 2.
96. George Best, Discourse (1578), in The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, ed. Richard Hakluyt (New York: AMS, 1965), 7:262.
97. Jordan, White over Black, 60.
98. See Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1984), 4-12.
99. Tudor Royal Proclamations, ed. Paul L. Hughes and James F. Larkin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969) 3:221n and 3:221-22; Errol Hill, Shakespeare in Sable: A History of Black Actors (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984), 8; Walvin, Black Presence, 64.
100. Virginia Mason Vaughan, Othello: A Contextual History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 58; emphasis added; Wood, Shakespeare, 251.
101. Harmer, Longman Companion to Slavery, Emancipation and Civil Rights, 10-11.
102. Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, 1:48.
103. Jordan, White over Black, 5, emphasis added. Jordan makes no connection to the blackface fool tradition in his work, but the evidence he cites supports its existence.
104. Gates, Figures in Black, 15.
105. Jordan, White over Black, 34.
106. Eldred Jones, Othello's Countrymen: The African in English Renaissance Drama (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), 23.
107. Here citing the 1611 edition: Johann Boemus, The Manner, Lawes, and Customes of All Nations (London: Eld and Burton, 1611), 49.
108. Jordan, White over Black, 26.
109. Harris, Africans and Their History, 7.
110. Davis, Inhuman Bondage, 189.
111. Davis, Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 203, 67.
112. Ibid., 70-71.
113. The Politics of Aristotle, trans. Ernest Barker (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946), 13.
114. Ibid., 12.
115. Ibid., 16.
116. Davis, Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 81; citing Philo Judaeus, Quod Omnis Probus 24 (London: Loeb Classical Library, 1941), 139-42.
117. Ibid., 81; citing Philo, 156-57.
118. Davis, "At the Heart of Slavery," in In the Image of God: Religion, Moral Values, and Our Heritage of Slavery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 123-36; Davis, Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 14; Davis, Inhuman Bondage, 2-3, 32.
119. Philip D. Morgan, "British Encounters with Africans and African-Americans, circa 1600-1780," 174.
120. "Sambo," in Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, ed. Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 1141.
121. Joseph Boskin, Sambo: The Rise and Demise of an American Jester (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 38.
122. Edward Topsell, The Historie of Four-Footed Beastes (London, 1678), 3.
123. Ibid., emphasis added.
124. George M. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), xi. Frederickson generally assumes that racism has no long history, as in his punning title, Racism: A Short History.
125. Anne McClintock, "Soft-Soaping Empire: Commodity Racism and Imperial Advertising," in Travelers' Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement, ed. George Robertson et al. (New York: Routledge, 1994), 139.
126. Jordan, White over Black, 30.
127. Topsell, Historie of Four-Footed Beastes, 2, emphasis added.
128. See Southworth, Fools and Jesters at the English Court, 75, 121, 153; H. W. Janson, Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (London: Warburg Institute, 1952), 211.
129. Paul C. Castagno, The Early Commedia Dell'Arte (1550-1621): The Mannerist Context (New York: Peter Lang, 1994), 192, 193.
130. Hall, Things of Darkness, 236.
131. See Donna Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (New York: Routledge, 1989), and Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: Norton, 1981), 113-45.
132. Janson, Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, 199, 201-2.
133. Ibid., 212-14.
134. Ibid., 211.
135. Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 23.
136. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind, 73; emphasis added. See also William R. Stanton, The Leopard's Spots: Scientific Attitudes Toward Race in America, 1815-1859 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960).
137. Gates, Figures in Black, 18-20; for Ingnorance as unteachable, see the episode in The Play of Wit and Science in which he is depicted in a sort of language "lesson" (l. 452), parroting the vice Idleness, who "play[s] the schoolemystres" (l. 450). Here, Idleness attempts to teach Ingnorance to say his own name, breaking it down syllable by syllable and prompting the fool, repeatedly, to say after her the sounds: "Ing-noran-hys." In the end, when asked what he has learned, Ingnorance can only reply, "Ich cannot tell" (l. 494).
138. Harris observes: "A collection of Jewish oral traditions in the Babylonian Talmud from the second to the sixth centuries holds that descendants of Ham were cursed by being black" (Africans and Their History, 5). See also D. Goldenberg, The Curse of Ham, and S. Haynes, Noah's Curse. On the English Renaissance tradition, see Scott Oldenberg, "The Riddle of Blackness in England's National Family Romance," JEMCS 1.1 (Spring/Summer 2001): 46-62.
139. Davis, Inhuman Bondage, 64-68, 187.
140. Best, Discourse, 7:261, 263-64, emphasis added. On the modern scientific understanding of the actual evolution of skin color in terms of the proximity of our ancestors to the Equator, the regulation of the body's reaction to sun rays, pigmentation, the making of vitamin D, and the like, see Nina G. Jablonski, Skin: A Natural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 3, 6-7, 15, 37, 38, 58, 72, 75-85, 89-96, 117, 164, 186n. 2, 192n. 12, 198-99n. 15.
141. Ibid., 7:262, 264. For discussion of such, see Sujata Iyengar, Shades of Difference: Mythologies of Skin Color in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), 8.
142. William Strachey, The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania (1612) (London: Hakluyt Society, 1953), 54-55.
143. See, for instance, Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 24, 26, 29, 32, 32, 33, 87, 94, 95, 96, 97, 193. In the index to this work, "laughter" has more entries than any term under "Ham," except for "and dishonor." The third most relevant term in the index is "transgression." All of these terms are relevant in the natural fool tradition.
144. Linda Woodbridge, The Scythe of Saturn: Shakespeare and Magical Thinking (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 21.
145. Natalie Zemon Davis, "Women on Top," in Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1965; repr., Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1978), 179, 156; Woodbridge, The Scythe of Saturn, 21.
146. Charles Read Baskervill, The Elizabethan Jig and Related Song Drama (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1929), 315.
147. Barry Reay, Popular Cultures in England, 1550-1750 (London: Longman, 1998), 134.
148. Twycross and Carpenter, Masks and Masking, 76, 85.
149. Kaiser, Praisers of Folly, 7.
150. Welsford, The Fool: His Social and Literary History, 55; Kaiser, Praisers of Folly, 129, 284.
151. Boskin, Sambo, 54.
152. Ibid., 97.
153. Ibid., 54-55.
154. Ibid., 66.
155. Ibid., 61; emphasis mine.
156. Ibid., 63.
157. Joseph Boskin, "The Life and Death of Sambo: Overview of an Historical Hang-Up," Journal of Popular Culture 4 (1971): 649.
158. Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 96, 299-333.
159. Boskin, Sambo, 35.
160. Ibid., 43.
161. Ibid., 7.
162. Ibid., 12.
163. Ibid., 10.
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|Title Annotation:||Forum: Race, Racism, and Performance on the Early Modern Stage|
|Publication:||Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
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