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Regards, affects, échanges

“Take Here This Prospective”: Specular Reflections of the Female Spectators in Samuel Daniel’s Vision of the Twelve Goddesses (1604)

« Take Here this Prospective » : The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses (1604) de Samuel Daniel, un miroir de la spectatrice?
Christine Sukic

Résumés

La question de la spectatrice dans l’Angleterre du premier XVIIe siècle doit être envisagée dans le cadre d’un contexte particulier, celui d’une diversité de spectacles où la place du public n’est pas la même, aussi bien sur le plan social que spatial. J’aimerais m’intéresser, dans cet article, à un spectacle de cour de Samuel Daniel, The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses (1604). Les masques se caractérisent en général par une grande porosité entre les deux univers de la scène et du public. Dans The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, qui fut le premier masque faisant intervenir des dames de la cour, l’accent est souvent mis sur la question du regard et de la curiosité. Daniel semble diriger le regard de la spectatrice, le filtrant à travers un appareil d’optique (prospective), qui permet de mieux percevoir les choses et de les envisager de manière proportionnée, selon une perspective bien établie. Ce contexte particulier m’amènera à me poser la question du rapport entre l’actrice et la spectatrice, et à me demander si le masque, spectacle où interviennent des femmes à partir de 1604, est le lieu privilégié de la spectatrice de théâtre.

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  • 1 Ronald Huebert and David McNeil (eds), Early Modern Spectatorship. Interpreting English Culture 150 (...)

1The subject of female spectators in early modern England is related to spectatorship studies in general, in the wake of Huebert and McNeil’s collection Early Modern Spectatorship. Interpreting English Culture, 1500-1780 (2019) in which they extended the definition of the word far beyond that of the theatre, showing in particular the relation of the act of watching to that of surveillance, a notion that they explore notably through the question of public executions1. The question of surveillance and of power relations in general is particularly acute when it is applied to spectatorship in the context of spectacles such as masques, performed at court with the monarch as a central spectator, both watching and being watched and being the centre of attention, both inside and outside the court masque.

  • 2 On the way women “worked through the interstices of male-authored dramatic texts available to them” (...)

2When it comes to English drama, the study of the female spectators also emerges in a specific critical context, as it also raises the issue of the place of women in the theatre in general, not just as spectators. Because women were theoretically not allowed on the English stage in the early modern period, except for public ceremonies, court entertainments2 and the occasional company visiting England from overseas, critical tradition has it that the London playhouses of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a world of men from which women were excluded, except as spectators. According to that tradition, women were either part of the rich spectators, or that of the groundlings, in which case they would have belonged to lower classes. However, one of the sources for this now disputed vision is the image of women conveyed in antitheatrical pamphlets. In A Second and Third Blast of Retreat from Plays and Theatres (1580), generally attributed to Anthony Munday, a work that was likely commissioned by the Puritanical city of London, the author describes theatergoing as follows:

  • 3 Shakespeare’s Theater. A Sourcebook, ed. Tanya Pollard, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, p. 75.

Whosoever shall visit the chapel of Satan, I mean the theater, shall find there no want of your ruffians, nor lack of harlots, utterly past all shame, who press to the forefront of the scaffolds, to the end to show their impudency.3

3For many of these antitheatricalists, the most common image of the female spectator is part of the underworld of prostitutes or thieves, as here that of the harlot, that is to say a woman who appears as the opposite figure of the blushing modesty displayed by the ideal woman as she is described in Puritan conduct-books of the same period. The “harlots”, in this antitheatrical pamphlet, are not so much there to see a play and be spectators as to be seen and “show their impudency”.

  • 4 See for instance Peter Davidson and Jane Stevenson, “Elizabeth I’s Reception at Bisham (1592): Elit (...)
  • 5 Natasha Korda’s fascinating work Labors Lost. Women’s Work and the Early Modern Stage offers a very (...)
  • 6 David Kathman, “Alice Layston and the Cross Keys”, Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England, 2009, V (...)
  • 7 See their website: https://beforeshakespeare.com/. [accessed September 1st, 2021].

4This tradition of almost exclusively male drama at court and in the playhouse has been confuted by recent studies putting women back into their rightful places in Elizabethan elite household drama4 as well as in early modern London playhouses, not only as spectators but also producers5. For example, David Kathman, writing on one of the inn playhouses in London, the Cross Keys, showed the importance of women in those theatres, “three of these four inns were owned or leased by women during their time as playhouses. Margaret Craythorne owned the Bell Savage from 1568 until her death in 1591, Alice Layston owned the Cross Keys from 1571 until her death in 1590, and Joan Harrison was the proprietor of the Bull from the death of her husband Matthew in 1584 to her own death in 1589”6. Such work helps restore women to their rightful place in the Elizabethan theatre, as does Andy Kesson’s work in his project “Before Shakespeare”7.

  • 8 Effie Botonaki, “Anne of Denmark and the Court Masque: Displaying and Authoring Queenship”, in Debr (...)
  • 9 Lena Cowen Orlin, “Shakespeare’s Marriage”, in Valerie Traub (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Shakespe (...)

5The question of the female spectator also raises methodological issues. For cultural and historical reasons, there are very few direct testimonies of female spectators of the time, especially when it comes to sixteenth century drama. The critical danger is that of a consequent over-interpretation of any available document. For instance, the part played by Queen Anne of Denmark in the production of court masques and her association with playwrights have sometimes been overemphasized to the point of turning her into an author in her own right. As an example, Effie Botonaki has argued that by participating actively in the production of several masques, “Anne’s role could actually be regarded as a form of co-authorship” and that she” most probably cooperated with the architect Inigo Jones”8. However, Queen Anne was mainly a spectator, an actor as well as a commissioner of court masques. Lena Cowen Orlin, writing about Shakespeare’s biography, has recently warned against such over-interpretations, especially when it comes to sacralizing the written object and having it say more than it actually meant. We thus have to refrain from “the impulse to give any one piece of evidence a meaning that renders it attachable to a pre-existing framework for meaning”9.

6Nova Myhill also pointed to the fact that the representation of spectators in plays did not necessarily reflect reality: they could help us understand the context but could not be used as straightforward documents. She gives the example of Beaumont and Fletcher’s play The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607), in which the secondary spectators – George and Nell – are a participative audience, to say the least, and that this can be interpreted in various ways:

  • 10 Nova Myhill, “Making Spectacles: Spectatorship and Authority on the Early Modern Stage”, in Ronald (...)

While The Knight of the Burning Pestle offers a fascinating opportunity to view fantasies of spectatorship in the Jacobean private theatre, it was also a commercial failure. The critical consensus is that the original audience rejected something related to the intervention of George and Nell, but beyond that opinion diverges, with critics variously claiming the problem was that Beaumont satirized citizen tastes too much, not enough, too exclusively, too inclusively.10

7It is thus difficult to envisage audiences as coherent entities, especially in private or public theatres. The situation may have been different for court spectacles, but some documents suggest that there, too, were different levels of spectatorship, according to status or grace with the monarch or the royal family.

  • 11 Throughout this article, I will be using the following edition, unless otherwise stated: The Vision (...)

8Bearing in mind those methodological and contextual issues, I will first say a few words about the literary and political context of one of Samuel Daniel’s court masques, The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses (1604), presented at Hampton Court for the Christmas season that year11. I will then briefly dwell on the status of spectators at court, before reading the text of this masque in order to examine whether it reflects the position of the female spectators, since, as its title bears evidence, the questions of vision – both as something seen by the sense of sight and as an apparition in one’s imagination – and perspective are central to this work.

  • 12 Lawrence, Jason, “The whole complection of Arcadia chang'd': Samuel Daniel and Italian lyrical dram (...)
  • 13 See for instance John Pitcher, “Negotiating a Marriage for Lady Anne Clifford: Samuel Daniel’s Advi (...)
  • 14 See John Pitcher, art. cit., p. 780.
  • 15 John Pitcher, “Samuel Daniel’s Masque The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses: Texts and Payments”, Medi (...)

9Samuel Daniel had a specific association with patronesses, having first been, in the words of Jason Lawrence, “intimately connected with the Countess of Pembroke’s patronage, dating from his dedication of the first official printing of the Delia sequence to her in 1592”12. He was also involved with Lady Anne Clifford as well as her mother Margaret Clifford, Countess of Cumberland13. He even appears in a portrait on a wall, on the left panel of the triptych attributed to Jan van Belcamp, The Great Picture (1646), commissioned by Clifford, showing her and her family, and which is in Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal. Daniel is also connected to Lucy Harington, the Countess of Bedford who commissioned The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, and he was close to Queen Anne, for whom he wrote several works, among them the pastoral play The Queen’s Arcadia in 1604. After the performance of The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, he became Queen Anne’s gentleman-in-waiting extraordinary then groom-in-waiting for her private chamber. Finally, he was appointed Master of the Revels for the Queen’s Children, which meant that every play that was going to be performed by the company had to be controlled by him. The beginning of James I’s reign was an important period for Daniel in terms of his social status as a writer, as he dedicated a poem to the King, the Panegyric Congratulatorie (1603), with which he was hoping, like many other writers, to ingratiate himself with the new monarch. In August 1603, Daniel and his brother, composer John Daniel, had also written a show for King James and Queen Anne who were visiting the Hertford family at Tottenham Lodge, the Seymour estate in Wiltshire14. Lady Hertford then went on to participate in The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, together with the Countess of Bedford and the Queen herself. As John Pitcher demonstrated, the Hertford family provided most of the funding for the masque15. Finally, many of the women he was associated with performed in Daniel’s masques.

  • 16 Korda, Natasha, “How to Do Things with Shoes”, in Patricia Lennox and Bella Mirabella (eds), Shakes (...)

10Those women would therefore have been both actors and spectators, according to the show. Being a spectator at court was not the same as in a London playhouse, where the visual perspective would have been different, different first because of the spectators’ social class. Natasha Korda, in “How to do things with shoes”, has shown how, in the circular playhouses such as the Globe, the groundlings’ perspective would have been first on the actors’ feet because these were situated at the level of their eyes, while the richer spectators would have had a wider perspective on the stage and therefore on the actors’ bodies16. In the theatres such as the Blackfriars, the audience would have been more homogenous because of the price of tickets, and there was certainly less disparity in the spectators’ perspective, except maybe for the richer ones who were actually on the stage, next to the actors, since this was a possibility for them.

11At court, the conditions of the performance were completely different, which had a influence on the spectators’ perspectives. The circumstances were affected both by the architecture of the performing spaces as well as by the political situation. At the Banqueting House in Whitehall, which was built in 1622 mainly for court entertainment, the King had a dominant, commanding view over the stage, while the other spectators were placed on the three remaining sides. As a consequence, their vision could vary accordingly. It would also have been the case in the Great Hall at Hampton Court, where The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses was performed, and maybe even more so, as it is not as long as and narrower than the Banqueting House and does not include a gallery for the musicians. Therefore the King’s place would have been even more dominant, and crucial for the other spectators. Dudley Carleton’s famous letter about Daniel’s masque describes how several foreign visitors – among them ambassadors of various countries – competed to have the best seats:

  • 17 Dudley Carleton’s letter to John Chamberlain, 15 January 1603/4, in Dudley Carleton to John Chamber (...)

The Sunday following was the great day of queen’s mask, at which was present the Spanish and Polack ambassadors with their whole trains and the most part of the Florentines and Savoyards but not the ambassadors themselves, who were in so strong competition for place and precedence that to displease neither it was thought best to let both alone. The like dispute was betwixt the French and the Spanish ambassadors and hard hold for the greatest honor17

12Interestingly, the “place and precedence” refers more to the place of those spectators in regard with the King more than to the show itself. The best seat is not that which offers the best vision of the show, but the best vision of the King, or even more so, the best vision of oneself. In fact, in venues such as the Great Hall at Hampton Court or the Banqueting House, the most important factor in terms of perspective was the King’s dominant position. He had to have a commanding view, but he must also be seen by all. However, the spectators’ perspective may not have been entirely dependent on the King’s central position if we believe Dudley Carleton’s letter again, since his own gaze was not directed only on the other spectators and the hierarchical positions between them, but also on the actors themselves, and especially the women of the court, their clothes and their legs:

  • 18 Ibid., p. 56.

Their attire was alike, loose mantles and petticoats, but of different colors, the stuffs embroidered satins and cloth of gold and silver, for which they were beholden to Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe. Their heads by their dressing did only distinguish the difference of the goddesses they did represent. Only Pallas had a trick by herself; for her clothes were not so much below the knee but that we might see a woman had both feet and legs, which I never knew before.18

13Interestingly, Natasha Korda’s remarks about the actors’ feet in the public theatres is also relevant in the context of this court masque, albeit in a different way, as if the presence of women on stage changed the perspective of some of the male spectators, whose gaze was occasionally drawn towards those women’s legs, especially if they were unusually visible. In Dudley Carleton’s letter, his remark about the actress playing Pallas is even more significant as she is, in fact, the Queen herself. The mention of Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe is also relevant here as it provides a link and an element of comparison between Elizabethan and Jacobean court entertainment. Even though Elizabeth I had been a frequent spectator of allegorical spectacles at court and on progress, she did not perform full roles within dramatic fictions like Queen Anne of Denmark did. However, she often appeared as a mythologised figure, either when she was addressed as such during those entertainments, or when she saw herself depicted as a goddess-like figure.

14The other element that must be taken into account about spectators at court is the extreme permeability between the stage and the audience, since the masquers dance on stage before they “come down” into the spectators – in order to invite them to dance in their turn – as Francis Bacon described it in his essay “Of masques and triumphs”:

  • 19 Francis Bacon, Essays, Everyman’s Library, London, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, Rutland, Vermont, Charles (...)

Let the scenes abound with light, specially colored and varied; and let the masquers, or any other, that are to come down from the scene, have some motions upon the scene itself before their coming down; for it draws the eye strangely, and makes it with great pleasure to desire to see that it cannot perfectly discern19.

15His use of the verbs “come down” and “their coming down” shows this important permeability between stage and audience. Only professional actors – who took the speaking parts – had a different status since they were not spectators on those occasions.

  • 20 See for example Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Writing Women in Jacobean England, Cambridge, Mass., Harva (...)

16The question of the perspective is obviously crucial in those masques, the King’s taking precedence over the other spectators, both men and women. It is therefore interesting to study the circumstances of Daniel’s masque The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, as the issues of vision and perspective are specifically relevant themes in this work. My purpose in this article is to study in what way Samuel Daniel seems to supervise the spectators’ perspectives and to control women’s gazes in the show. The question of space was of prime importance in Jacobean masques, especially when it came to the respective places of the King and Queen20; I am more interested here in the way Daniel dealt with the questions of vision and gaze.

17Daniel’s masque seems to be based on a series of embedded visions: Somnus is ordered by his mother, Night, to create a vision in his dream in order to please the members of the court, who are still asleep. In the vision, Iris, the gods’ messenger, comes down from a mountain in order to announce to Sibylla that the Goddesses are about to appear, and gives her a “prospective” so that Sibylla can see and describe the Goddesses coming down from the mountain. So she does, and the Goddesses appear, dance together and then invite some men of the audience to dance with them. They go back to the top of the mountain where they find Queen Anne, go back to their original identities as the Queen’s attendants and then come down again, without their masks this time. The porosity between stage and audience is quite obvious in the plot since some of the spectators are invited on stage by the Goddesses who are alternately actors and spectators. Furthermore, the script of the play also puts to the fore spectatorship by having Somnus create “visions” for Iris, who in her turn directs Sibylla’s gaze, who describes to the audience her experience as a spectator of those visions.

  • 21 The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, op. cit., p. 25.

18Daniel himself, when he published the masque, also stressed its visual aspect. The Vision was performed at the beginning of 1604 and published the same year with Daniel’s dedication to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, in which he explained his project. He stressed the theme of vision which is present in the masque’s plot, but also provided a vision of the masque for his reader: “I thought it not amiss, seeing it would otherwise pass abroad to the prejudice both of the masque and the invention, to describe the whole form thereof in all points as it was then performed”21. He gives as another reason for publication the possible distraction of the spectators who may have been too busy looking at its spectacular aspects instead of concentrating on its meaning:

  • 22 Ibid., p. 30.

And thus, Madam, have I briefly delivered both the reason and manner of this masque, as well to satisfy the desire of those who could not well note the carriage of these passages by reason (as I said) the present pomp and splendour entertained them otherwise (as that which is most regardful in these shows).22

  • 23 Ben Jonson sarcastically dismisses the importance of the “shows, shows, mighty shows”, in his “Expo (...)

19It seems that the text of the dedication and the script of the masque are meant to re-direct the spectators’ gaze so that they devote their attention to what is most important in Daniel’s mind. This prefigures the later feud between Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones over the relative importance of text and spectacle in masques23.

20The visual aspect of the work is reinforced by the use of emblems both in the dedication and in the show, which is not surprising since Daniel was familiar with emblem literature. He had translated and published Paolo Giovio’s Dialogo delle imprese militari e amoroso (1555), under the title The Worthy Tract of Paolo Giovio (1585). In the masque, the emblematic references appear in the presentation of the Goddesses, each corresponding to a specific notion that Daniel lists in the dedication:

  • 24 The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, op. cit., p. 25-26.

there were devised twelve Goddesses, under whose images former times have represented the several gifts of heaven, and erected temples, altars and figures unto them, as unto divine powers, in the shape and name of women. As unto Juno, the Goddess of empire and regnorum praesidia they attributed that blessing of power: to Pallas, wisdom and defence: to Venus, love and amity: to Vesta, religion: to Diana, the gift of chastity: to Proserpina, riches: to Macaria, felicity: to Concordia, the union of hearts: Astraea, justice: Flora, the beauties of the earth: Ceres, plenty: Tethys, power by sea.24

  • 25 Ibid., p. 27.

21Daniel stresses the emblematic form further, by having, first, a more elaborate description of the goddesses in his dedication. For instance, he provides Lady Bedford with a description of Pallas: “Pallas (which was the person her Majesty chose to represent) was attired in a blue mantle with a silver embroidery of all weapons and engines of war, with a helmet-dressing on her head, and presents a lance and target”25. In the script of the masque, the emblems are developed further. Each goddess’s name is followed by four lines of verse:

  • 26 Ibid., lines 294-297.

Pallas
Next war-like Pallas in her helmet’s dressed
With lance of winning, target of defence:
In whom both wit and courage are expressed,
To get with glory, hold with providence.
26

22The combination of the dedication and the script of the masque seems to constitute a full emblem: the first part (the costume’s description) stand for the pictura; Daniel’s list of notions correspond to the motto or inscriptio; as for the lines of verse of the scrip, they are close to the interpretation or subscriptio that completes an emblem.

23Daniel goes even further in his use of emblems by providing Lady Bedford some keys for the reading of these very emblems, claiming that his purpose is to give the spectators a simplified interpretation of his work:

  • 27 Ibid., p. 26.

And though these images have oftentimes divers significations, yet it being not our purpose to represent them with all those curious and superfluous observations, we took them only to serve as hieroglyphics for our present intention, according to some one property that fitted our occasion, without observing other their mystical interpretations, wherein the authors themselves are so irregular and confused as the best mythologers, who will make somewhat to seem anything, are so unfaithful to themselves as they have left us no certain way at all, but a tract of confusion to take our course at adventure.27

24For Daniel, the images are only “hieroglyphics”, that is to say emblems referring to a notion in particular, hence the necessity not to confuse the mind with “curious and superfluous observations”. Daniel’s method of reading is a way of directing Lady Bedford’s vision and interpretation of the emblems. Lady Bedford’s experience of the masque is therefore two-fold and reinforces the porosity between stage and audience: after having performed in the masque as one of the goddesses, she is turned into a spectator in Daniel’s dedication and script and is given a complete interpretation of her own part as well as that of her co-performers.

25Lady Bedford’s part in the masque allows us to better understand Daniel’s own perspective: the script of his masque, that includes both the words that were pronounced on stage by the actors as well as some stage directions, is not sufficient to provide a complete spectator’s experience. The dedication seems to have been conceived to complete the text and enlighten it by giving its author’s interpretation of it. The masque was therefore envisaged by Daniel as a performance, followed by a dedication, itself followed by the script of the masque. All those different stages allowed him to direct his spectators’ and readers’ visions.

26The main “vision” of the masque, that of the title, is that which appears within Somnus’s dream, and in which Iris orders Sibylla to present the twelve goddesses:

  • 28 Ibid, lines 270-277.

And therefore, reverend prophetess, that here attendest upon the devotions of this place, prepare thyself for those rites that appertain to thy function and the honour of such Deities and to the end thou mayst have a fore-notion what Powers and who they are that come, take here this prospective and therein note and tell what thou seest: for well may’st thou there observe their shadows, but their presence will bereave thee of all save admiration and amazement, for who can look upon such Powers and speak? And so I leave thee.28

  • 29 John Pitcher, “Samuel Daniel’s Masque The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses: Texts and Payments”, art. (...)
  • 30 The Masque of the Twelve Goddesses, op. cit., line 240.
  • 31 Ibid., lines 286-287.

27The central image in this passage is that of the “prospective” given to Sibylla by Iris and that allows her to see the shadows of the Goddesses, that will then appear to the spectators. Sibylla looks into the prospective and sees wonders in it. According to the OED, a prospective can be a “device which allows one to see objects or events not immediately present”, a meaning that can be used in the proper or the figurative sense, and that can be taken in the sense of an anticipatory vision. Interestingly, Samuel Daniel appears in several of the examples given by the OED, which means that he was interested in this word, not only in The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses but also in his translation of Paolo Giovio’s Imprese, as well as in his sonnets. The OED gives a 1616 example of the word “prospective” as “prospective glass” meaning this time a “telescope or pair of binoculars”. In England, Thomas Hariot bought his first telescope or “Dutch trunk” in 1609, so there is no certainty about the word meaning “telescope” in Daniel’s mind in 1604, but still, it is very likely that he had some sort of technical object in mind. According to John Pitcher, perhaps “Daniel intended Iris’s telescopic mirror to hint that new scientific knowledge and devices would be of interest to the Queen as well as traditional book learning and the arts”29. This could be corroborated by Somnus’s use of the phrase “waking curiosity”30 about his dream-visions. Sibylla’s amazement at the images she sees in the prospective is also quite telling: “But what prospective is this? or what shall I therein see? O admirable Powers! What sights are these?”31. The prospective thus seems to be an object of divination but also a prop related to curiosity, allowing Sibylla to discover goddesses and their emblems. Once she has read these, the goddesses come down from the mountain in their mortal form, dance and then withdraw, led by Pallas/Queen Anne.

  • 32 Ibid., p. 25.
  • 33 Ibid., p. 30.
  • 34 On Daniel’s habit of careful publishing and editing of his works over the years, see Stephen Guy-Br (...)

28The prospective, as the principal object of the masque, since it is the instrument of the “vision” of the title, concentrates Daniel’s control over his spectators, actors, but also readers. Lady Bedford’s gaze is thus oriented towards a certain interpretation, that Daniel emphasizes through the effects of repetition he created by having the masque performed, then described in the dedication with the statement of his preferred reading methodology, and finally re-read with the script of the text. Lady Bedford, even though she was a privileged reader, actor and spectator (since, as we saw it, court actors were also spectators as they circulated between court and stage, then stage and court) as well as a patroness of the masque, does not have much freedom in the way she is supposed to read and understand the masque she played in. The same could be said about the Queen, as the central character of the masque but also as a new spectator of masques in the English court. Daniel is very direct in the dedication, talking about his desire to express “the intent and scope of the project”32 or “both the reason and manner of this masque”33. It could be argued that the controlling effect of the author on the spectators / readers could be due to the genre of the masque which, because of its frequent allegorical and emblematic contents – obvious in the present case – imposes a closed interpretation. The political perspective of the masque, whose aim is to celebrate the King and Queen, especially, in the case of Daniel’s masque, in the context of the new Stuart monarchy, does not leave much interpretative scope to readers and spectators. Daniel’s aim in his controlled publication – in keeping with his editorial practices34 – may also have been to find his place as an official writer at the court of the new King and Queen, an objective that he did fulfil quite early on.

  • 35 This is confirmed in several titles: apart from The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, Daniel also wro (...)
  • 36 “Beauty, Chastity and Wit: Feminising the Centre-stage”, in Findlay, Hodgson-Wright, and Gweno Will (...)
  • 37 Tethys’ Festival, in Court Masques. Jacobean and Caroline Entertainments 1605-1640, ed. David Lindl (...)
  • 38 Ibid.

29The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses thus provided a privileged place for spectators such as Lady Bedford or Queen Anne, since they were also participants in the show, like many other women of the court. Their close involvement in the commissioning of the show as well as their presence on stage confirms the fact that women were far from being excluded from such kinds of entertainments35. Stephanie Hodgson-Wright has even suggested that the masque presented “feminine forces supplying the qualities that, by implication, the king lacks at the beginning of the masque”36. However, the vision that Daniel provides for the female spectators appears as a limited one, filtered by the author’s intent imposed on them through various stages of interpretation. Samuel Daniel’s masque had a political purpose, that of celebrating the new King, but it also aimed at placing the attention of the spectators, through the prospective, on the Queen as a new object of curiosity – Dudley Carleton’s letter and his remarks on the Queen’s costume show that Daniel succeeded in that. If the spectators’ perspective was not given much scope, this may have been due to the novelty of the masque. When Daniel wrote Tethys’ Festival (1610) for Prince Henry’s creation as the Prince of Wales, he allowed for more interpretation in his presentation of the work and therefore gave more freedom to the spectators and readers of his spectacle. The very precise description of the costumes and scenery in the subsequent publication had only one aim then, “to preserve the memory thereof, and to satisfy their desires who could have no other notice but by others’ report of what was done”37. More than an interpretation, Daniel provided “a description and form”38 of the masque. The thirteen women of the court as well as Queen Anne who took part in it, and who were alternately actors and spectators of the show, were given more scope and autonomy in their interpretation of what they played and saw. The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses can therefore be considered to be an early stage of masque spectatorship at court, a text that was, like the “prospective” for the Sibylla, Daniel’s mediation of women’s gaze.

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Notes

1 Ronald Huebert and David McNeil (eds), Early Modern Spectatorship. Interpreting English Culture 1500-1780, Montreal & Kingston, London, Chicago, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019, p. 9-12 and chapter 6, “Dying in Earnest: Public Executions and their Audiences”, p. 130-169.

2 On the way women “worked through the interstices of male-authored dramatic texts available to them”, see Gweno Williams, “Translating the Text, Performing the Self”, in Alison Findlay and Stephanie Hodgson-Wright, with Gweno Williams (eds), Women and Dramatic Production 1550-1700, Harlow, Essex, Pearson Education Limited, 2000, p. 15-41, here p. 16. Recent studies have also pointed to the participation of women in medieval Marian pageants. See for instance Sue Niebrzydowski, “Secular Women and Late-Medieval Marian Drama”, The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 43, Early English Drama (2013), p. 121-139.

3 Shakespeare’s Theater. A Sourcebook, ed. Tanya Pollard, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, p. 75.

4 See for instance Peter Davidson and Jane Stevenson, “Elizabeth I’s Reception at Bisham (1592): Elite Women as Writers and Devisers”, in Jayne Elisabeth Archer, Elizabeth Goldring and Sarah Knight (eds), The Progresses, Pageants and Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 207-226.

5 Natasha Korda’s fascinating work Labors Lost. Women’s Work and the Early Modern Stage offers a very comprehensive study of women’s part in the playhouse, and defines the ‘all-male’ theatre of Shakespeare’s time as a myth (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

6 David Kathman, “Alice Layston and the Cross Keys”, Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England, 2009, Vol. 22, p. 144-178, here p. 144. He even adds that two inns that were later converted into full-time playhouses, the Boar’s Head and the Red Bull, “were owned by women (Jane Poley and Anne Bedingfeild respectively) when those conversions took place, and another woman, Susan Browne Greene Baskerville, was a shareholder in both of those playhouses as the widow of players Robert Browne and Thomas Greene” (ibid.).

7 See their website: https://beforeshakespeare.com/. [accessed September 1st, 2021].

8 Effie Botonaki, “Anne of Denmark and the Court Masque: Displaying and Authoring Queenship”, in Debra Barrett-Graves (ed.), The Emblematic Queen. Extra-Literary Representations of Early Modern Queenship, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 133-154, here p. 135.

9 Lena Cowen Orlin, “Shakespeare’s Marriage”, in Valerie Traub (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Embodiment: Gender, Sexuality, and Race, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 39-56, here p. 42.

10 Nova Myhill, “Making Spectacles: Spectatorship and Authority on the Early Modern Stage”, in Ronald Huebert and David McNeil (ed.), Early Modern Spectatorship. Interpreting English Culture, 1500-1780, Montreal and Kingston, London, Chicago, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019, p. 33.

11 Throughout this article, I will be using the following edition, unless otherwise stated: The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, ed. Joan Rees, in A Book of Masques. In Honour of Allardyce Nicoll, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1967, p. 17-42.

12 Lawrence, Jason, “The whole complection of Arcadia chang'd': Samuel Daniel and Italian lyrical drama”, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England (Madison, NJ), Vol. 11, 1999, p.143-171, here p. 150.

13 See for instance John Pitcher, “Negotiating a Marriage for Lady Anne Clifford: Samuel Daniel’s Advice”, The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 64, No 267, November 2013, p. 770-794.

14 See John Pitcher, art. cit., p. 780.

15 John Pitcher, “Samuel Daniel’s Masque The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses: Texts and Payments”, Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England, Vol. 26, 2013, p. 17-42.

16 Korda, Natasha, “How to Do Things with Shoes”, in Patricia Lennox and Bella Mirabella (eds), Shakespeare and Costume, London, New York, The Arden Shakespeare, Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2015, p. 85-103.

17 Dudley Carleton’s letter to John Chamberlain, 15 January 1603/4, in Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, 1603-1624. Jacobean Letters, ed. Maurice Lee, Jr, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1972, p. 55-56.

18 Ibid., p. 56.

19 Francis Bacon, Essays, Everyman’s Library, London, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, Rutland, Vermont, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1972, p. 115.

20 See for example Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Writing Women in Jacobean England, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1993, p. 15-43.

21 The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, op. cit., p. 25.

22 Ibid., p. 30.

23 Ben Jonson sarcastically dismisses the importance of the “shows, shows, mighty shows”, in his “Expostulation with Inigo Jones”.

24 The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, op. cit., p. 25-26.

25 Ibid., p. 27.

26 Ibid., lines 294-297.

27 Ibid., p. 26.

28 Ibid, lines 270-277.

29 John Pitcher, “Samuel Daniel’s Masque The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses: Texts and Payments”, art.cit., p. 27.

30 The Masque of the Twelve Goddesses, op. cit., line 240.

31 Ibid., lines 286-287.

32 Ibid., p. 25.

33 Ibid., p. 30.

34 On Daniel’s habit of careful publishing and editing of his works over the years, see Stephen Guy-Bray, “The Achievement of Print: Samuel Daniel and the Anxiety of Authorship”, in Explorations in Renaissance Culture 29:1 (2003), p. 108-118; and John Pitcher, “Editing Daniel”, in W. Speed Hill (ed.), News Ways of Looking at Old Texts, 1993, p. 57-73.

35 This is confirmed in several titles: apart from The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, Daniel also wrote Tethys’ Festival. The Queen’s Wake, and Jonson’s own Masque of Queens is another example.

36 “Beauty, Chastity and Wit: Feminising the Centre-stage”, in Findlay, Hodgson-Wright, and Gweno Williams (eds), Women and Dramatic Production 1550-1700, op. cit., p. 42-67, here p. 43.

37 Tethys’ Festival, in Court Masques. Jacobean and Caroline Entertainments 1605-1640, ed. David Lindley, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 54.

38 Ibid.

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Christine Sukic, « “Take Here This Prospective”: Specular Reflections of the Female Spectators in Samuel Daniel’s Vision of the Twelve Goddesses (1604) »Études Épistémè [En ligne], 42 | 2022, mis en ligne le 16 janvier 2023, consulté le 28 janvier 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/16136 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/episteme.16136

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Christine Sukic

Christine Sukic est professeur de littérature et de culture anglaises de la première modernité à l’université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne et présidente de la Société Française Shakespeare. Elle a publié des études sur Shakespeare, George Chapman et Samuel Daniel, notamment une monographie sur les tragédies de Chapman. Elle a également traduit et annoté la pièce Bussy D’Ambois de Chapman pour la Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Elle a dirigé ou co-dirigé huit volumes sur le corps héroïque et les représentations de l’ineffable. Elle travaille à une monographie intitulée Poetics of the Ineffable: Heroic Bodies on the Early Modern Stage, à paraître chez Routledge.

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