Shakespeare's many patrons included magnates who lent their names or the names of their offices to his playing company; dedicatees of literary works; and powerful individuals for whom he performed specific services. In each case the question arises: did patronage involve personal acquaintance, or even grow into friendship?
Without a patron, early modern stage-players risked being classified as masterless men, no better than rogues and vagabonds. While knights or minor lords might patronise players in the middle of the sixteenth century, the privilege became restricted to barons and earls during the reign of Elizabeth (1558–1603), and to members of the royal family during the reign of James (1603–25) (Chambers 1923, 4, pp. 269–71).
Shakespeare's playing company was patronised by the Lord Chamberlain from about 1594, and by King James from 1603. During the years leading up to 1594 Shakespeare can be connected, with varying degrees of certainty, to a plethora of patrons. His Titus Andronicus, according to the title-page of its first edition (1594), was performed by the players of three earls: Derby, Pembroke, and Sussex. Philip Henslowe's contemporary ‘Diary’ (Foakes 2002, pp. 21–2) reports that the same play was performed by players of the Earl of Sussex, the Lord Admiral and the Lord Chamberlain.
At the very beginning of 1594 the Earl of Derby was Ferdinando Stanley (d. 16 April 1594), styled Lord Strange until his father's death on 25 September 1593. Pembroke was William Herbert (d. 1601). Sussex was Robert Radcliffe, who succeeded at the death of his father, Henry, on 4 December 1593. The Lord Admiral was Charles Howard, Baron Howard of Effingham: his patronage of the Admiral's Men extended from 1576 to 1603. The Lord Chamberlain was Henry Carey (d. 4 July 1596), 1st Baron Hunsdon; succeeded by Sir William Brooke (d. 6 March 1597), 10th Baron Cobham; and by George Carey (d. 9 September 1603), 2nd Baron Hunsdon (ODNB 2004; Cokayne 1910–59).
In the Fourth Objections, Arnauld wrote:
I have one further worry, namely how the author avoids reasoning in a circle when he says that we are sure that what we clearly and distinctly perceive is true only because God exists. But we can be sure that God exists only because we clearly and distinctly perceive this. Hence, before we can be sure that God exists, we ought to be able to be sure that whatever we perceive clearly and evidently is true.
The circular argument or strategy identified here has come to be known as the Cartesian Circle. The Circle is constructed from two arcs. The first is that certainty of the truth of clear and distinct perceptions depends on God's attributes. In the Fourth Meditation, for example, Descartes uses the Third Meditation understanding of God to prove the rule that everything perceived with clarity and distinctness is true. The second arc is that certainty of God's existence depends on a proof from clear and distinct premises.
Descartes was not impressed by Arnauld's observation. He responded by saying that an adequate explanation was found in his Second Replies and added:
To begin with, we are sure that God exists because we attend to the arguments which prove this; but subsequently it is enough for us to remember that we perceived something clearly in order for us to be certain that it is true. This would not be sufficient if we did not know that God exists and is not a deceiver.
A vast literature has accumulated as the result of attempts to understand Descartes’ response and evaluate how successful it is. It is an attractive problem for scholars because it is, on the surface, so simple to formulate, and Descartes’ explicit treatments of the Circle are brief and cryptic. Moreover, the problem gains depth from its connection to central issues of doubt,method, clear and distinct perception, scientia, and the knowledge of God.
Ideas are modes of thought that function in various important ways in Descartes’ philosophy. It is in virtue of ideas that thought is intentional and gives meaning to words. Ideas are the subject matter for true and false judgments that are expressed in propositional forms, and they are the basis of the certain foundations of knowledge (scientia). This variety of functions is correlated with a complex set of theoretical distinctions that apply to ideas. Most of these are first explained rather than just used in the Third Meditation of the Meditations on First Philosophy:
First, however, considerations of order appear to dictate that I now classify my thoughts into definite kinds, and ask which of them can properly be said to be the bearers of truth and falsity. Some of my thoughts are as it were the images of things [tanquam rerum imagines], and it is only in these cases that the term “idea” is strictly appropriate – for example when I think of a man, or a chimera, or the sky, or an angel, or God.
This passage continues by noting that some thoughts have “additional forms,” which include volitional aspects. So all modes of thought include an ideational aspect in the “strictly appropriate” sense, while some include volitional aspects as well (AT VIIIA 17, CSM I 204; cf. AT III 295, CSMK 172). That contrast is important in the Fourth Meditation's theodicy of error (see error, theodicies of). The quoted Third Meditation passage goes on to introduce the question of truth and falsity:
Now as far as ideas are concerned, provided they are considered solely in themselves and I do not refer them to anything else, they cannot strictly speaking be false; for whether it is a goat or a chimera that I am imagining, it is just as true that I imagine the former as the latter.
Primitive notions are most familiar from the celebrated letters Descartes exchanged with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia on the topic of mind-body interaction, but they figure prominently in many of Descartes’ writings. Descartes sometimes introduces them as notions orideas, making it is clear that either word is acceptable (e.g., AT III 691, CSMK 226; cf. AT VII 440, CSM II 296 and AT VIIIB 358, CSM I 303). In the early Rules for the Direction of the Mind, he refers to “primary seeds of truth [prima veritatum semina] naturally implanted in human minds” (AT X 376, CSM I 18; cf. The World AT XI 47, CSM 2 97). The “seeds of truth which are naturally in our souls” return in the Discourse on Method (1637) as “primary truths” (AT VI 64, 76; CSM I 144, 150). In the first of the famous pair of letters to Elisabeth, Descartes crucially relies on primitive notions (notions primitives), also called “simple notions” (notions simples), that the soul “possesses by nature” as “ready-made” (AT III 666–67, CSMK 219). And in the letter to Voetius written at the same time as the exchange with Elisabeth, we again have “notions” that are “innate” in virtue of being “implanted” in the soul (AT VIIIB 166, CSM I 222). In the Principles of Philosophy, the principles referred to in the title are characterized in much the same way. They can be clearly and distinctly perceived or intuited, and they enable the deduction of “all other things” (AT IXB 9–11, CSM 1 183–84). This treatment of principles is not surprising given that the words translated as “primitive,” “primary,” and “principle” can be synonymous in both Latin and French. Finally, in August 1649, less than half a year before his death, Descartes makes use of primitive notions in a letter to More (AT V 402–3, CSMK 381).
Despite these continuities, Descartes does not settle on an exact characterization of primitive notions, nor does he supply a detailed and absolutely complete inventory. It is abundantly clear that primary notions are innate, but this affords little help because Descartes’ treatment of innate ideas is notoriously difficult.
For sixty-three years following the 1857 publication of Delia Bacon's The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspeare Unfolded, conspiracy theorists unwilling to concede that William Shakespeare wrote his own poems and plays tended to accept Delia's namesake Sir Francis Bacon as the true author. This all changed in 1920, with the publication of J. T. Looney's ‘Shakespeare’ Identified in Edward de Vere the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford. Looney drew up a list of propositions declaring what Shakespeare must have been like given the particular characteristics of his surviving poems and plays. Thus, for example, because the plays often portray aristocrats, the author himself must have been an aristocrat. Predictably (judging from his title), Looney discounted the authorship of the historical William Shakespeare and promoted the authorship of the hyper-aristocratic seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.
Looney's primary source of information on Oxford was Sidney Lee's entry in the respected Dictionary of National Biography. In 1928 B. M. Ward followed up with The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, 1550–1604, From Contemporary Documents. True to his title, Ward significantly increased the number of historical documents from which Oxford's life can be reconstructed; but his Victorian sensibilities balked at Oxford's apparent homosexuality. Two years later (1930), Percy Allen published, as the first of many titles, The Case for Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford as ‘Shakespeare’. Allen eventually embarrassed the cause by consulting spiritual mediums. In 1952 Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn published This Star of England: ‘William Shakespeare,’ Man of the Renaissance. The elder Ogburns represent an odd tradition in which Americans, having cast off English monarchy, grow besotted with English aristocracy; the Ogburns also promote the ‘Prince Tudor theory’ (discussed below) which undermines the scholarly integrity of the entire Oxfordian enterprise. A generation later, in 1984, their son Charlton Ogburn (the younger) published The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality. This Ogburn was more a publicist than a scholar, but what a publicist! He is more responsible than any individual since Looney for the current vitality of the ‘authorship debate’.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.