Spring 2001 v43 i2 p135(34)
Can't buy me love: money, gender, and colonialism in Donne's erotic verse *.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2001 Wayne State University Press
SUPPRESSED BY THE LICENSER from the 1633 printed text of John Donne's poetry, the elegy "Loves Progress" seems also to have escaped sustained critical discussion, despite the twentieth-century revival of Donne studies. The comparative neglect does not, I think, derive simply from its being an "outrageous poem," (1) but from a sense that the poem is perhaps too transparent. In the related--and much examined--elegy, "Going to Bed," an intricate and provocative equation of physical consummation with religious ecstasy complicates the exuberant colonial metaphorics of "My America, my New-found-land," sharpening the effect of transgression. By contrast, "Loves Progress" would appear to display the same guiding metaphorical thread--one that relates the masculine speaker to the woman's body in terms of colonial "discovery"--on its sleeve, not immediately prompting much critical analysis beyond the specification of its analogical procedure. Once one has articulated the specific alignment of colonial and misogynist discourses by demonstrating how Donne utilizes colonialism to talk about sex, there doesn't seem much else to be done other than to judge the comparison. Likewise, the valuation of the Elegies as a whole has often been to their (and the poet's) detriment--most controversially, perhaps, in John Carey's 1981 biography.
A lively attempt to `save' "Loves Progress" does so by complicating our response to the poem's tone. Drawing on both Arthur Marotti's treatment of Donne as a coterie poet and Annabel Patterson's discussion of self-censorship, R. V. Young proposes that the poem be read as a "countertext" to colonial works of "essential duplicity": it critiques the colonial enterprise not by direct refutation, but by dismantling the rhetorical structure underlying contemporaneous textual celebrations of English explorers. "Loves Progress" rewrites these, according to Young, "as cynically erotic poems of unbridled desire": not only does Donne invert the background metaphor likening the discovered land to the female body, but "coarse cynicism" parodies the pious exultation of colonialism in early modern discovery narratives. (2) Thus, even as colonialism provides the frame for the poem's erotic wit, the topos of sexual mastery nonetheless strategically serves as colonial critique.
Jacques Derrida's term "invagination" seems particularly apt to designate the logic of Young's argument, which transforms what in the poem appears secondary (colonialism) into the primary frame, thereby relegating the original frame (sex/gender) to a secondary position. However, such a Derridean logic of reversal and displacement, strictu sensu, would instead emphasize a radical uncertainty or undecidability regarding what the poem is "about." Moreover, the critical procedure need not halt at this initial reversal: one could just as well extend the process yet a step further to argue that the metaphor equating colonial territory to female body--against which the poem ostensibly writes--itself rests upon an older (and broader) gendered frame that links the female to land, nature, and passivity (opposing these to the active male subject). Indeed, Donne's participation in military expeditions to Cadiz early in his career and his involvement with the Virginia Company (whose Secretaryship he unsuccessfully sought) might lend support to a reading which treats the poem's "coarse cynicism" not as parody but at face value. Undecidability or ambiguity is arguably, then, a logical outcome to which any reading can be pushed that connects the poem's sexual politics to its colonial politics in terms of a binary relationship between tenor and vehicle.
Emphasizing this undecidability, Catherine Belsey offers a valuable corrective to a still prevalent critical tendency to read Donne's poetry in terms of an opposition between love and politics that gets definitively resolved in one or the other direction. (3) Relating Donne's verse historically to an emerging distinction between an imagined private, "privileged, intimate world" and the public realm of "economy, politics and history," Belsey instead uncovers an anxiety at the heart of love itself, "an uncertainty about the degree to which it is acceptable or possible to be in possession of the worlds desire makes visible." Thus an elegy such as "To His Mistress Going to Bed" maps less the female body than the dynamic of early modern desire. The impossibility of assigning a "final, authoritative meaning" to Donne's intertwining of love and conquest symptomatically reveals a fundamental unsureness regarding the object of desire. Is it, Belsey asks, "a woman, a self-image, writing?" "No wonder," she continues, "the worlds which were gradually opening up to the gaze of Renaissance explorers and cartographers seemed the appropriate emblem of desire. They were vast, these territories, perhaps limitless, and enticing, rich and beautiful. They were also dangerous, to the degree that they were uncharted both geographically and anthropologically. Desire in Donne's love poetry is a world that remains paradoxically unknown, and that elicits in consequence a corresponding anxiety, which is registered in the texts as undecidability." (4)
Nevertheless, even Belsey's otherwise convincing reading begs the question of the historical and formal conditions underlying the ostensibly binary structures that Donne's elegies seem both to establish and to trouble. What makes colonial discovery of "uncharted" lands the "appropriate emblem" of desire? What are the conditions that make possible Donne's separating and metaphorically rejoining the "private" realm of sexuality and the "public" world of colonial adventuring? What, in other words, is the common space that enables the transference between gender and colonialism at the moment of Donne's elegies?
As a step towards addressing these questions I would like to draw attention to another set of similitudes operative in "Loves Progress": the monetary tropes linking value to love or desire. As Marotti briefly notes, "one of the ends of love assumed in this poem is the economic one. From the first, the sexual is defined in relation to commercial realities" (5)--and specifically to commercial venturing:
Who ever loves, if he do not propose
The right true end of love, he's one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick. (6)
Indeed, the poem's opening section does not immediately posit an analogy between the female body and the discovered land, but rather likens one "valued" object, the woman, to another, gold.
I, when I value gold, may think upon
The ductilness, the application,
The wholsomness, the ingenuitie,
From rust, from soft, from fire ever free:
But if I love it, 'tis because 'tis made
By our new nature (Use) the soul of trade.
All these in women we might think upon
(If women had them) and yet love but one.
The contrast between "value" and "love" signals the presence of two competing modes of ascribing worth. We shall return shortly to "our new nature (Use)" that Donne appears to favor. But let us first linger on the position these lines ostensibly reject: that the value of gold resides in such properties as "ductilness," "application," "wholsomness," and so forth. Such a stance evokes an earlier--but, for Donne, still--vital theologically governed understanding of money's function as measure of value (albeit one possessed of a certain significant ambiguity). (7) According to this doctrine, money could signify wealth only because as gold (or silver) it was precious in itself; its functions as measure of value and instrument of exchange rested in its intrinsic worth. Thus, for the fourteenth-century thinker Nicole Oresme, money's utility for "the mutual exchange of naturall Riches" required that it be "convenient to handle," and "easy to carry," properties that depended upon the metal being itself a concentrated form of wealth or value, "such that a small portion of it might buy and exchange natural Riches in greater quantity." "It is desirable, therefore," Oresme says, "that Money be made of precious metal which is not plentiful, such as gold.... And when gold does not suffice, Money is made of silver also." (8)
However, scholastic discussions of money were marked by a crucial faultline: the need to coordinate the worth of the money material--the metal out of which money was made--with the face value of the metallic coin. For precious metal only became money through the "face" stamped upon it, which constituted it as coin and concomitantly guaranteed its value. If money was precious and could measure value, this was because it stood--directly and immediately--for the prince's authority, which was in turn underwritten by a divine dispensation. In late medieval monetary thought, then, it was necessary that the royal impress or sign marking the metal coincide with the referent, that is, with the metal's intrinsic value, which had been deposited in it by God. Oresme's treatise makes evident the theological urgency behind this forced equation:
The stamp on money is a sign of the honesty of its material and of its
alloy, if any, and therefore to change this is to falsify the money. For
these reasons the name of God is inscribed on some coins, or the name of a
Saint, or the Sign of the Cross, a practice devised and established long
ago to testify to the honesty of the money in quality and weight. If a
prince, therefore, changes the weight or fineness of money bearing such a
sign, he seems to lie tacitly, to commit perjury, and to bear false
witness, besides breaking God's commandment: Thou shalt not take the name
of God in vain. (9)
As Timothy Reiss and Roger Hinderliter suggest, precisely because money possesses a value that is separate from its function as a measure of "natural riches," Oresme insists "that the prince must allow no change of weight or alloy. The `theological' structure happens to answer to economic necessity: because the sign is sacred, it is inflexible--the relationship between metallic content and face value must remain absolutely constant." (10) "Loves Progress," too, hints at a similar theological basis for determining value: to "value" gold leads to "think[ing] upon" those physical characteristics of the metal that, taken together, establish intrinsic worth in terms of an immutable and quasi-divine purity ("from rust, from soil, from fire ever free").
Donne explicitly engages both the theological "fixing" of value and the resulting tension between the intrinsic and face value of gold or money in another elegy, "The Bracelet," where the speaker wittily attempts to avoid having to compensate his mistress for having lost her gold chain:
O shall twelve righteous Angels, which as yet
No leaven of vile soder did admit;
Nor yet by any fault have straid or gone
From the first state of their Creation;
Angels, which heaven commanded to provide
All things to me, and be my faithfull guide....
Shall these twelve innocents, by thy severe
Sentence (dread judge) my sins great burden beare?
Shall they be damn'd, and in the furnace throwne,
And punisht for offences not their owne?
They save not me, they doe not ease my paines
When in that hell they' are burnt and tyed in chains.
Through the pun on "angel"--a gold coin so named because it showed the archangel Michael standing upon and piercing a dragon--the lover draws theological penalties from the monetary cost. The loss of the twelve angels, to be melted down to replace his mistress's ornament, becomes the unjust condemnation of the twelve divine apostles who were intended to be his "faithfull guide." The sophistic argument begins from an assumed adequation between the coins' metallic content and their face value, locating worth in the purity of the material. Not only does "throwing" the "twelve righteous angels" into the furnace and "tying" them "in chains" undo the relationship between intrinsic worth and extrinsic sign, but it also debases the metal by "leaven[ing]" it with "vile soder." A sixteenth-century citation in the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of the word indicates that the use of solder was strictly regulated in Elizabethan England: an act from 1576 insisted, for example, that "No Goldsmith ... shall ... use noe Sother ... more then ys necessarie." (11) Using an alloy to unite the links into which the coins have been forged thus becomes tantamount to introducing an impurity into the metal, an adulteration that the speaker further likens to original sin or "the fault" whereby divinely created beings "straid." This clever association of monetary debasement with a fall from grace ("the first State of their Creation") resonates with Oresme's inveighing against the practice of alloying gold (or silver) with less precious metals. While Oresme grants that some adulteration of coin may be "convenient for small purchases," such "black mixed" money, as he calls it, "naturally arouse[s] suspicion, and in [it] neither the quality nor quantity of gold can be easily recognised." Hence, "as a general rule money should never be alloyed," and even in cases where such "mixing" is unavoidable, "it should be in the money least subject to suspicion and deception, i.e. in the least precious metal, silver." (12) Similarly, for Donne's speaker, precisely because his angels are pure, they ought to correspond perfectly to the theologically underwritten signs they bear; and in turn, we might add, the signs give visible form to the purity of the substance of the coins.
But if the casuistic speaker of "The Bracelet" initially argues from the assumption that worth resides in the metal's purity, he needs later in the poem to reverse the relationship between value and form in order to counter his mistress's intransigence.
Thou say'st (alas) the gold doth still remaine,
Though it be chang'd, and put into a chaine,
So in the first falne angel, resteth still
Wisdom and knowledge; but, 'tis turn'd to ill:
As these should doe good works; and should provide
Necessities; but now must nurse thy pride,
And they are still bad angels; Mine are none;
For, forme gives being, and their forme is gone:
Economic necessity now answers theology. The intrinsic worth of the angels (the precious metal or "wisdom and knowledge," as the case may be) is subordinated to the outward form through which putatively inner virtue first comes into "being"--though, potentially, not as virtue at all but as its opposite, "ill." For expression in action determines essence, and not vice versa. Transformed into a bracelet, the "falne angel[s]" now "nurse" the mistress's pride, "turn[ing] to ill" the moral imperative that they "should doe good works." Despite the possibility that wisdom and knowledge still "remaine" in them, these "are still bad angels." Likewise, the "form" of the speaker's "righteous" angels, that is, the stamp their metal bears, gives them "being," enabling them to function as money, the instrument (in Oresme's words) "for measuring and exchanging one with another those natural riches by means of which men most easily supply their necessities." In being "chang'd and put into a chain"--either by being melted down into or by being invested in a replacement--the good angels would lose their original form or presence, and, concomitantly, the very virtue which that form had brought into existence. (13)
This complex play between metallic content and outward form evokes the slippage that Michel Foucault posits as constitutive of the ternary organization of both signs and monetary discourse in sixteenth-century Europe. Just as knowledge of any natural object was predicated upon some similitude between it and another object, fixing the value of money depended upon correlating the quantity of precious metal in the coin with its nominal value (the stamp). But for the resemblance between two objects to become apprehensible, a "signature" was required, which took the form of another resemblance. In a similar fashion, establishing the conformity between stamped money and the quantity of metal it contained called for a further correlation: the relationship between the coin and some commodity for which it could be exchanged. The sign or impress which the metal bears, in other words, ought to signify transparently its intrinsic value or "preciousness." But to "recognize" this sign--to know what value it represents--one has to relate the metal, via exchange, to a determinate quantity of some other commodity, whose value in turn depends upon its relationship to other commodities: "the monetary sign cannot define its exchange value, and can be established as a mark only on a metallic mass which in turn defines its value in the scale of other commodities." (14) "The Bracelet" enacts this deferral of value through the dizzying shift between a symbolic, theological frame of reference (numerologically marked, for example, by identifying the coins with the twelve apostles) and a mercantile one in which the value of the angels depends upon the form they take, that is, what they must be exchanged for.
The indefinite oscillation between metal and merchandise implied by such a triangulation was arrested, as Foucault argues, by laying down an absolute correlation between the total amount of gold buried in the earth and the totality of existing things through which all human needs could be satisfied. Thus Davanzatti's Lecon sur la monnaie insisted:
Nature made all terrestrial things good; the sum of these, by virtue of the
agreement concluded by men, is worth all the gold that is worked.... In
order to ascertain each day the rule and mathematical proportions that
exist between things and between things and gold, we should have to be able
to contemplate, from the height of heaven or some very tall observatory,
all the things that exist or are done on earth, or rather their images
reproduced and reflected in the sky as in a faithful mirror. We would then
abandon all our calculations and we would say: there is upon earth so much
gold, so many things, so many needs; and to the degree that each thing
satisfies needs, its value shall be so many things, or so much gold. (15)
It would appear to be just such a "celestial and exhaustive calculation" (to use Foucault's phrase) that Donne's elegy, "Loves Progress," mockingly invokes as it expands upon the outrageous relationship between gold and the female body:
Search every sphear
And firmament, our Cupid is not there:
He'is an infernal god and under ground,
With Pluto dwells, where gold and fire abound;
Men to such Gods, their sacrificing Coles
Did not in Altars lay, but pits and holes:
Although we see Celestial bodies move
Above the earth, the earth we Till and love....
What is sought--that is, what satisfies male desire--lies within the female body, just as gold remains buried within the earth. Projected here is a fixed correspondence between what one prays for and what "till[ing]" unearths. Linking the firmament to the earth's caves and mines ("pits and holes"), these lines identify the objects of desire with the treasures buried "under ground." The axis connecting the celestial to the "infernal" "makes those things that are brought into being by the hands of men correspond with the treasures buried in the earth since the creation of the world." (16) The speaker thereby both signals and parodies the macrocosmic structure which for Davanzatti ultimately underwrites the "rule and mathematical proportion" between things and gold.
Rejecting as inadequate those notions of valuation based upon properties intrinsic to gold or women (wholesomeness, ductility, purity, and so on), "Loves Progress" embraces instead a language of "love" or desire. And in so doing it brings into view a different understanding of value, one that focuses on gold's place within a circuit of exchange: if he "love[s]" gold, it is, as the speaker tells us, "because 'tis made / By our new nature (Use) the soul of trade." Commenting on the pervasive presence of metaphors of money and trade in Donne's oeuvre, Coburn Freer aptly remarks: "What Donne alone among the poets seemed to sense was that within his lifetime money itself had become a commodity." (17) Thus, rather than locating money's dual function (as measure of "natural riches" and as instrument of exchange) in the "double nature of its intrinsic character (the fact that it was precious)," (18) Donne inverts the analysis just as the seventeenth-century mercantilists were to do. Money's exchanging function (what Donne calls "Use" or the "soul of trade") becomes the foundation from which its ability to measure wealth and its capacity to receive price derive: as Foucault puts it, "money (and even the metal of which it is made) receives its value from its pure function as sign.... The value of things ... no longer proceed[s] from the metal itself; it establishes itself by itself, without reference to the coinage, according to the criteria of utility, pleasure and rarity. Things take on value, then, in relation to one another; the metal merely enables value to be represented, as a name represents an image or an idea, yet does not constitute it." (19) It is not so much that gold is in itself precious, but that gold as a sign of value becomes precious in and through the practice of trade.
If revoking the criterion of intrinsic worth means, then, that any substance can, in theory, serve as money, in practice the chosen substance must nonetheless possess properties that will allow it to compare and balance the values of different commodities. In this sense, the physical properties Donne enumerates as belonging to gold--its malleability ("ductilness"), honesty of nature ("ingenuitie"), useful character ("application"), "wholsomness" and indestructibility--testify less to an inner "perfection" or value than to a capacity for representing value. Since gold is malleable, imperishable and of concentrated weight, it is ideally suited to perform the function of representing the value of other commodities in the exchange process. But these physical attributes do not in themselves make gold precious; rather they merely enable gold to discharge a representational task. Only by the right of being the universal sign or image for wealth in a process of exchange does gold itself become wealth.
An ambivalent insistence on how the character of money as sign disrupts an earlier emphasis on intrinsic worth recurs in Donne's writings. Consider for example the admittedly clogged syntax of the opening sentence of "Image of her whom I love":
Image of her whom I love, more then she,
Whose faire impression in my faithfull heart,
Makes mee her Medall, and makes her love mee,
As Kings do coynes to which their stamps impart
The value: goe, and take my heart from hence,
Which is now growne too great and good for me....
Underlying these lines is clearly the feudal doctrine that money belonged to the prince (or seignior) because the coin bore his image. But the poem in fact deviates significantly from this established position. As in "The Bracelet," Donne's argument runs counter to the scholastic insistence that "face" and referent coincide, for it sees value as accruing to the coin through the image. Just as coins become valuable through the royal face imprinted upon them, the "faire impression" upon his heart makes it precious ("too great and good"), transforming it into both money substance and coin--note the aural pun on metal/medal. While the intrinsic property of being "faithfull" indicates the capacity of the heart to receive and hold the impression, this property does not directly constitute its worth, which instead comes to it from without. And as coin or medal, his heart becomes something separable from him, and enters circulation ("goe, and take my heart from hence"). Furthermore, rather than conferring ownership as the scholastic model would have it, the image breeds desire: it makes her love him as Kings do those coins "to which their stamps impart value." There is a suggestion here, as one editor notes, that "the beloved only loves him because she has impressed him and made him love her." (20) That is, rather than simply owning his heart by virtue of her image upon it, she is transformed from beloved to lover by the image, and is thereby herself caught in the movement of desire and exchange traced by the heart/coin.
I am suggesting that a felt transformation in what constitutes the nature of (economic) value permeates Donne's erotic poetry, and provides the matrix within which "Loves Progress" in particular locates gender and colonialism in relationship to one another. To see what is at stake in this shift, we need to recall briefly the Aristotelian treatment of money that provided the framework for medieval monetary theory. Aristotle's remarks on money as a medium appear as part of a broader discussion in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics on value commensuration, that is, on how to establish an equivalence between qualitatively distinct things. The term "medium" combined two aspects: first, money's function as a measure or "a numbered continuum capable of infinite expansion or contraction, against which all commodities could be commensurated and find relation;" (21) and, second, money's role as an instrument of exchange, an intermediate or third term in the actual exchange of diverse commodities. As measure, money was something invented, introduced and fixed by agreement, while as instrument of exchange it itself brought things into relation and, potentially, equation. But what precisely did money measure? Aristotle's ambivalent answer to this question prepared the ground for medieval commentators. For while hinting in places that money measured certain qualities intrinsic to the commodities themselves (the quality of workmanship, or the value of the skills involved, or the different expenditures of labor), elsewhere he stated forcefully that money measured not "the essential value of commodities, but rather the demand or need for those objects experienced by participants in exchange." (22) Thus, from Aquinas onwards, money was treated as an artificial measure that quantified the "natural" measure of all goods: indigentia or need. But the tension within Aristotle's account remained, for the relational and external determinants indexed by indigentia did not entirely supplant the internal determinants of labor and expenses. (23) Thus Albertus Magnus's thirteenth-century commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics argued both that there could be no exchange without an equivalence of labor and expenses in production, and that there could be no exchange without an equivalence of need.
The two aspects of the monetary medium, the metal and the impress, essentially correspond to these two determinants: as precious metal, possessed of properties that make it intrinsically valuable, gold can quantify the "natural" value of other commodities; as stamped metal, however, gold represents the value ascribed to it by the prince or common consent, and as such it measures the need "which all exchanged artifacts have common to them." (24) Just as Albertus "solved" the problem of value by simply conflating the two determinants, that is, equating opus or use with indigentia or need, Oresme would later "solve" the problem of the money commodity by conflating its intrinsic preciousness with the sign it bore. A poem such as "The Bracelet" suggests the currency of this issue in early modern England. As we have seen, Donne's complex attempt to avoid the "bitter cost" of replacing his mistress's ornament relies on just such an identification, even as the poem wittily proceeds to enact its crisis.
Underpinning Donne's poetry, however, is a broader cultural shift whereby desire/love takes the place of the earlier category of indigentia. (25) For while both need and desire are predicated upon a lack to which the act of exchange responds, in at least one crucial sense they remain differently conceived. Following Aristotle, scholastic thought generally treated need as a structural condition that motivated and enabled exchange within a social process whose end was justice. This emphasis had its roots in the fact that equalization and commensuration assumed importance for Aristotle in an investigation of ethical questions--particularly, in his reflections upon the distinction between commutative and distributive justice. For his medieval commentators, too--despite often substantial differences--money's significance lay in its effects upon what Kaye calls "the delicate balance of iustitia" (for this reason, scholastic thought broaches money and exchange most regularly within discussions of usury). In early modern Europe, however, desire seems to take over the role of need, thereby posing the problem of value in terms of the desiring subject. In other words, rather than beginning with the structural requirement of equalization or commensuration (upon which the health of the civitas depends), desiring or loving becomes premised, as Donne's poetry makes evident, upon an active reaching out by the subject towards the desired object. The emphasis shifts from the needs of the social community to the demands of the would-be consumer.
Tackling the problem of value in "Loves Progress," Donne reverses, as we have seen, the moral hierarchy which derives nominal value from a natural value bound to the allegedly essential virtues of the metallic substance. These properties become incidental because they are merely possessed by gold. "True value" results from a desire that only gold's use as an instrument of exchange can provoke. Such an inversion provides the basic structure informing, first, the analogy between gold and woman, and, subsequently, the descriptions of colonial voyaging over the female body.
Analogous to the poem's treatment of gold's "virtue," in the case of "woman," too, the characteristics that ostensibly comprise her worth--virtue, wisdom, beauty, goodness, and even wealth--are dismissed as incidental properties.
Makes virtue woman? must I cool my bloud
Till I both be, and find one wise and good?
May barren Angels love so. But if we
Make love to a woman; virtue is not she:
As beauty'is not nor wealth: He that strayes thus
From her to hers, is more adulterous,
Then if he took her maid....
Although we see Celestial bodies move
Above the earth, the earth we Till and love:
So we her ayres contemplate, words and heart,
And virtues; but we love the Centrique part.
Unlike gold, the woman may or may not in fact possess these qualities, but even if she did, they would simply be contingent predicates that, while belonging to her, do not "make" her. Just as the value of money accrues to it from "our new nature (Use) the soul of trade," the woman's value is conferred upon her by her sexual use: her desirability depends upon the sexual availability or usability that is embodied as the "centrique part." Echoing "The Bracelet," Donne represents the "straying" from "her" to "hers"--from what "makes" the woman to what merely pertains to her--as an "adulterous" liaison, a pernicious admixture of two incommensurate substances. (26) The illicit confusion that results from such deviation is expressed as paradox: the misogynistic pun on "maid" mixes categories by collapsing the woman's possession (her serving woman) into the possession of the woman herself (taking her maidenhead). Indeed, the metaphor of debasement enacts a "straying" on the social level as well since it involves moving down the social scale, from the lady to the maid. The paradox further points towards a typically Donnean contradiction--to which I will return later in this essay--between the sexual and cosmographical dimensions of these lines. Identified with "pits and holes," the female body is the empty and hidden space in which men "lay" "their sacrificing Coles" (lines 31-32, cited earlier). And yet, the aim or "end" to which male endeavor is directed would appear to be extraction, figured both as the reaping of the fruits of (sexual) labor and access to the gold that lies buried within. The woman's "centrique part" thus takes on opposed attributes of vacancy or absence and substantiality or presence.
It is perhaps this confusion implicit in what the "centrique part" is, of what "the right true end" of love ought to be, that pushes "Loves Progress" outward to extend the spatial connotations of "straying" to the colonial frame. For the reversal enacted in the poem's treatment of gold and woman subsequently envelops the analogy between the woman's body and the to-be-colonized spaces sought after by European explorers. In describing how to "attain this desired place," the "centrique part," Donne contrasts two modes of traversing the female body: the physical act of voyaging and the charting of a route through a map. The difference between these approaches corresponds to changes in how space was conceptualized in the early modern period. In describing the (mistaken) attempt of "set[ting] out at the face" to work one's way from the known or seen to the unknown and unseen, the speaker draws upon the practical navigational methods available in late-medieval Europe, and in particular upon the spatial practice of the so-called portolan charts. These were essentially plots of routes drawn by sailors in order to journey over relatively short distances, generally confined to the Mediterranean basin and small stretches of the Atlantic coastlines. Used in conjunction with the compass rose and plumb-lines, and normally drawn on durable material such as sheepskin, these pictorial aids preserved the local knowledge of sailors and represented space as if one were travelling through it. They thus subordinated physical and geometrical relationships to an experiential movement through space: like the practice of voyaging itself, the portolans followed the actual routes taken, sketching coastlines and landmarks. The navigator oriented himself by recognizing a particular monument, a place, or a curve of land; he relied on visible signs confirming experiential knowledge, such as the direction of winds and waves, or the depth and nature of the seabed as revealed by the plumb-line.
For Donne's speaker, journeys of this kind are always in danger of an illusory fixation on a particular place. One who voyages, beginning at the woman's face to travel towards "her India," will be distracted and ultimately blocked by the various anatomical places encountered en route. The risk inherent in such explorations is that of error, of straying or being forced to stray from the fixed orientation toward its goal. Thus, the hair "ambushes" the traveller, the brow alternately "shipwrecks" and "becalms" the sailor: the woman's body as voyaged space is a space of detours, deterrents, deflections.
Access to the goal, "India," requires an additional representational aid: a picture that transparently renders the entirety of its content visible at a single glance, allowing the voyager to evade the resistance of the female body. Such an attitude towards space derives from the emergent cartography of the Renaissance, which began to relate places geographically, against the background of homogenous, geometrized space. (Indeed, these newer maps adumbrate new imaginative possibilities in other genres as well: on stage, for instance, they allow King Lear's trifold division of his kingdom prior to his daughters' entry or Tamburlaine's envisioning a new and quicker sea-route to India). In "Loves Progress," too, the early modern map plays a critical role. For, given the "Symetry" it "hath with that part / Which thou dost seek," the foot functions as "thy Map for that" "desired place." To follow the shape of the foot, that is, to chart one's route upon a map as one initiates the journey, is to take advantage of the essential emptiness or transparency of space: "for as free Spheres move faster far then can / Birds, whom the air resists, so may that man / Which goes this empty and Aetherial way, / Then if at beauties elements he stay" (87-90). (27) The rather unexpected symmetry between the foot and the sexualized place which the voyager seeks resides in a bilingual homonym which Shakespeare's Henry V will later make more explicit in the famous scene where Katherine learns the conqueror's language. Her shock at the "mauvais, corruptible, gros et impudique" English language derives from associating the English word "foot" with its lewder French homophone (which is the speaker's ostensible concern in "Loves Progress"). (28)
We can encapsulate in tabular form the contrast operative between the conditions for mere "valuing" and those for "loving" (to use Donne's terms) in each of the domains discussed above:
Money Woman Colonial Space
(gold) ("centrique part") ("India")
`Value' physical properties moral and physical practice of
`Love' exchangeability sexual usability mapping of
As the table indicates, gold or money provides the metaphoric frame or structure that the poem draws on and reiterates in its treatment of gender and colonial discovery.
Donne's analysis, however, goes beyond the structural homology captured in this table. That the female body and the colonial voyages become the fields upon which to renegotiate the problem of value seems to me consequent upon a more complex diagnosis: for the poem treats them not only as figures for a shared problematic, but also integrally associates them with a crisis in valuation. For all his characteristic playfulness, Donne does not simply wittily reject an earlier, theologically governed conception of monetary value for an emerging "modern" one. Rather, the poems we have examined stage a crisis of the earlier episteme upon the emergent form of that which will succeed it. In other words, beyond the arch figural analogies derived from the problem of monetary value, "Loves Progress" sees "woman" and "colonial discovery" as themselves participating in, and indeed even triggering, a wider uncertainty regarding value and authority. It thus seems no accident that a concern with monetary value and coinage repeatedly reappears in Donne's more orthodox, religiously-oriented writings that present spiritual conflicts in comprehensible, material terms. In the 1622 Sermon to the Virginia Company, for example, Donne warns the would-be adventurers not to expect a speedy return on their investments, despite God's promise that the "kingdom" beyond the seas will be theirs. His admonition draws upon metaphors we have already encountered in both "The Bracelet" and "Loves Progress": "[B]e not discouraged. Great Creatures ly long in the wombe; Lyons are litterd perfit, but Bear-whelpes lick'd unto their shape; actions which Kings undertake are cast in a mould; they have their perfection quickly; actions of private men, and private purses, require more hammering, and more filing to their perfection." (29) In representing the temporal kingdom of the colony as the potential instantiation of the promised, divine kingdom, Donne uses coinage both as the perfect form or sign of value and to indicate the arduous material process by which value has to be created.
For the case of colonial voyaging, a relatively direct causation prevails between money and the perception of a crisis in valuation. The initial impetus behind the notion that money was a commodity like any other came from changing material circumstances: the growth of the market in late medieval Europe and, especially, the importance of debasement of coinage as an expedient means of generating royal revenue. Oresme's treatise, for example, originated in a period of financial crisis after a series of manipulations of French coinage in the fourteenth century. It was written to advise the nineteen-year-old Dauphin about monetary policy at a time when the four million crown ransom demanded for the French king Jean Le Bon (who had been captured at Poitiers in 1356 by the English) "threatened to push the much-abused French currency beyond its limit of endurance." (30) That the debasement of coin was halted during the regency and subsequent reign of Charles V has generally been attributed to Oresme's influence. In Donne's England as well, the effect or "sequele of things" resulting from Henry VIII's repeated debasement of coinage remained, as the merchant Gerrard Malynes was to put it in 1601, "yet fresh in memorie." (31)
But for this nascent understanding of money's commodity character to take hold, another historical event would be necessary: the sudden influx of precious metals into Europe resulting from Iberian colonial expansion. This development forced contemporary observers into positing an economic link between the perceived dearness of commodities in parts of Europe and the massive dissemination of New World gold and silver. Jean Bodin was among the earliest of theorists explicitly to articulate the connection: "I find," he writes in 1568, "that the high prices we see today are due to some four or five causes. The principal & almost only one (which no one has referred to until now) is the abundance of gold & silver, which is today much greater in this Kingdom than it was four hundred years ago...." (32) The reason for this abundance, Bodin argues, is colonial discovery:
[The] Portuguese, sailing the high seas by the compass, made himself master
of the Gulf of Persia, & to some extent of the red sea, & by this means
filled his vessels with the wealth of the Indies & of fruitful Arabia....
At the same time the Castilian, having gained control of the new lands full
of gold & silver, filled Spain with them, & prompted our citizens to make
the trip around Africa with a marvelous profit. It is incredible, and yet
true, that there have come from Peru since the year 1533, when it was
conquered by the Spaniards, more than a hundred millions of gold, & twice
as much silver. (33)
And by the time the earliest English mercantilist tracts begin to appear around the turn of the century, Bodin's explanation has become widely accepted. Thus Gerrard Malynes's treatise--aimed at remedying the "diseased" state of England's balance of trade--eschews discussion of "fineness, weight and proportion" to consider instead the "property of the money, or the effects thereof; which is that plentie of money maketh generally things deare, and scarcitie of money maketh likewise things good cheape." The emphasis on money's commodity character leads him without further ado to the colonial sphere: "where-unto the great store or abundance of monie and bullion, which of late years is come from the west Indies into Christendom, hath made every thing dearer according to the increase of monie, which ... hath caused a great alteration and inhauncing of the price of every thing...." (34)
Mercantilist tracts from the first decades of the seventeenth century further point towards the ways in which the early modern period reworked a traditional physiological metaphor in response to changing economic and social conditions: the metaphor that money was to a society what blood was to the body. Patricia Fumerton's rich reading of seventeenth-century English economic tracts has shown how mercantilist texts regularly conceived of trade and commodities in terms of corporeality. (35) Inveighing against the over-import of luxury goods, the East India Company merchant Thomas Mun, for example, argues that "whilest wee consume them, they likewise devour our wealth." (36) Two decades later, during a downturn in colonial trade, another London merchant Lewes Roberts accuses the absentee farmer of failing to produce goods for the market, allowing his tenants to "suck and draw ... the present profit and daily benefit" of his estate, "eating up the heart and marrow of the same, with greedy art." (37) Through such metaphors, trade or the process of circulation of commodities becomes linked to consumption and venous circulation: the buying and selling of goods drives money, the blood, all across the social body. And in proposing solutions to the nation's financial crises, too, the metaphor of the body remains central. Malynes's treatise, for instance, represents him as a doctor who diagnoses a "cankered" or "diseased" patient: the "Author, imitating the rule of good Phisitions, First, declareth the disease; Secondarily, sheweth the efficient cause thereof; Lastly, a remedy for the same." (38) The proposed cure is consequently a monetary one: the reformation of currency transactions to ensure that "the Canker of this exchange shall not consume [the merchants], as it hath done many of them and others, and that unawares: for the same is like unto the Serpent Aspis, which stingeth men in such sort that they fall into a pleasant sleep untill they dye." (39)
Despite their theoretical inconsistencies--and indeed a pervasive sense of the strangeness of an ultimately unlocalizable body of trade--mercantilist tracts nonetheless construe the value of money as an effect of trade. "Neither is it said," Mun argues, "that Mony is the Life of Trade, as if it could not subsist without the same; for we know that there was great trading by way of commutation and barter when there was little mony stirring in the world." Rather, "it is the necessity and use of our wares in forraign Countries, and our want of their commodities that causeth vent and consumption on all sides, which makes a quick and ample Trade." (40) The "venting" and "consuming" body is that of Trade, through which money becomes important and valuable not in itself but as a commodity to be traded for others. And here again, the colonial impetus becomes central: "in the mean time the Mass of Treasure that gave foundation [to trade by barter and credit instruments] is employed in Forraign Trade as a Merchandize." This characterization of money motivates Mun's advocating the lifting of restrictions on currency export, since only through the movement of money and the corresponding movement of wares that are "consumed" can the body of England be "Quickened and Enlarged." (41)
Donne's poetry demonstrates an acute and prescient grasp of these material transformations; it insists that, by changing the nature of value, the commodification and circulation of precious metals ends up undermining existing political and social arrangements. In "The Bracelet," for example, Donne expertly links money to religion and politics, attacking those "Spanish Stamps" which, "still travelling,"
are become as Catholique as their King,
Those unlickt beare-whelps, unfil'd pistolets
Which, as the soule quickens head, feet, and heart,
As streames, like veines, run through th' earth's every part,
Visit all Countries, and have slily made
Gorgeous France, ruin'd, ragged and decay'd;
Scotland, which knew no State, proud in one day:
And mangled seventeen-headed Belgia.
Implicit here is the sense that Spanish colonial gains do not remain confined to Spain's domains; (42) rather, through trade this illegitimate bullion venously circulates "through th' earth's every part," drastically altering the political and religious body of Europe. At the same time, money's circulation remains necessary and unavoidable, since the flow of money "quickens" these lands even as it "mangle[s]" their character. (43) This double sense marks perhaps the continued presence of a late-medieval anxiety that saw money as necessary for society and yet a corrosive that ate into social bonds. (44) The terms of Donne's response are, however, very different: the poem's indignation is spurred not just by a theory of social (or divine) justice, but by the material circumstances of a changing world.
"Go[ing] to sea" in pursuit of the "right true end of love," the speaker of "Loves Progress" in turn draws upon the connection between the effects of colonial voyaging and "our new nature (Use) the soul of trade." Journeying to "both the Indias of spice and Myne"--to borrow a famous phrase from Donne's "The Sunne Rising"--has led, the elegy implies, to a transformation of both the desiring subject and the object of his desire. If "sailing towards her India" retraces the trade routes opened up by European colonial powers, this is because the desired object has become valuable through its exchangeability or commodification ("Use"), just as the speaker's own desire has been reanimated by the "soul of trade." Colonial voyaging transforms the "nature" of money, which in turn redefines the "nature" of value. To acquire what is valuable, then, demands imitating the process by which value accrues to things, that is, adopting the colonial voyage--albeit in a particular way--as the model for attaining the desired end. Retracing the body of trade, in other words, the speaker voyages over the commodified body that (for him) most perfectly embodies trade.
But, of course, it is not just any body that the colonial cartographer of "Loves Progress" wishes to map--and, by mapping, master and possess. For the body that stands for exchangeability and use is female. Seeing how the gendered body gets mired in the question of monetary valuation demands our taking a more complex and circuitous voyage, one that acknowledges the implications of "progress" in the poem's title. The word directs us to the ambivalent but nonetheless effective politics of courtly desire which England's Virgin Queen evoked and invoked throughout her reign. As is well known, the progress functioned as an important ideological device through which Elizabeth consolidated her often precarious rule: by traversing the kingdom, the Queen announced the identity between the land and herself, its desires and hers, staging the spectacle of royalty receiving homage to reinforce her position and power. As David Bergeron has suggested, the theme that binds the numerous pageants and progresses of the Elizabethan reign together is "the celebration of Elizabeth's power, her spiritual, mystical, transforming power. She is able to set men free, to still the loud voices of war, to provide a refuge for those who are distressed." (45) From the outset, this celebration was infused with an amatory language that reworked the relationship between queen and court in terms of the ready-made rhetoric of Petrarchan love poetry--and, in particular, through the mistress-servant tropes of that tradition. As Diana Henderson puts it, "because tropes and forms derived from the `low' poetry of earthly love were adapted to compliment the queen, these two audiences ... became elided. That is, Elizabeth's gender obscured distinctions between erotic and political, the profane and the sacred. It reified the fictive construct of the masterful lady in Petrarchan poetics, hence transforming the relationship between amatory lyric and the political world of state power." (46)
The distinctive conjuncture of Elizabethan politics and desire is clearly revealed in the Gesta Grayorum of 1594-95--held at the time when Donne probably still "lived at the Innes of court," leading a life, in Sir Richard Baker's words, "not dissolute, but very neat; a great visiter of Ladies, a frequenter of Playes, a great writer of conceited Verses." (47) An extended entertainment devised by the members of Gray's Inn, the Gesta wittily (and perhaps chancily) drew on the medieval Lords of Misrule tradition to propose a form of counter-government as its framing device: the "great number of gallant Gentlemen that Gray's Inn afforded at Ordinary revels" decide to elect a Prince of Purpoole "to govern our state for a time," to whom is also assigned a Privy Council and Officers of State, of Law and the Household, along with "lodging according to state[,] as the Presence Chamber and the Council Chamber." (48)
In fact, numerous "great and noble personages" of the Queen's actual "government" attended the festivities of January 3rd, including the Lord Keeper, the Earl of Essex, Lord Burleigh, Lord Thomas Mountjoy and Sir Robert Cecil. Among the night's offerings was a set of six speeches delivered by the Prince of Purpoole's counsellors, purporting to set before him "to what port, as it were, the ship of government should be bounden" (III:287). It is hard to avoid seeing in their diverse speeches not simply half-serious advice and carnivalesque wit but also an often cynical expose of the stratagems whereby Kings ensure their greatness. While their themes appear traditional enough--exercising war, studying philosophy, governing virtuously, building edifices, amassing treasure and pursuing pleasure--the tone of the speeches indicates that the wished-for actions do not so much "naturally" express the monarch's puissance as construct that image in the first place and as an end in itself. Thus the first counsellor directs the Prince to "embrace the wars" as means of self-memorialization, so that his "trophies and triumphs ... be as continual coronations" (III:288). By contrast, the "plain and approved" road to "Eternizement and Fame" "that is safe, and yet proportionable to the greatness of a Monarch," the third Counsellor insists, "is the magnificence of goodly and Royal buildings and foundations ...: that is, that your coin be stamped with your own image; so in every part of your State there may be somewhat new; which by continuance may make the founder and author remembred" (III:291). The sentiment that coins (like buildings and monuments) ensure the sovereign's visibility, spreading the public face of the monarch far beyond his or her physical location, would seem to find its echo in the royal Progresses through which Elizabeth staged herself for public eyes.
The link between monetary circulation and the public sphere later refractedly finds its way into Donne's "The Canonization" where the speaker defends his love by distinguishing it from a world of "Countries, Townes, Courts" in which one "contemplate[s]" the "Kings reall, or his stamped face" (7-8). A colonial analogue to this mode of extending sovereign presence is suggested by Hakluyt's account of Sir Francis Drake's "discovery" of "Nova Albion" (the Californian coast of today). Arriving on the shore, Drake interprets the gestures of native inhabitants (which apparently included setting a crown upon his head and placing chains around his neck) as sufficient indication that they would "resigne unto him their right and title of the whole land, and become his subjectes.... Wherefore in the name, and to the use of her Majestie, he tooke the scepter, crowne, and dignitie of the said Countrey into his hands, wishing that the riches and treasure thereof might so conveniently be transported to the inriching of her kingdom at home." Without investigating any further the geographical extent of his new dominion, he simply sets up, as proof of Elizabeth's entitlement, "a plate, nailed upon a faire great poste, whereupon was ingraven her Majesties name, the day and yeere of our arrival there, with the free giving up of the province and people into her Majesties hands, together with her highnes picture and armes, in a peece of sixe pence of currant English money under the plate, where under was also written the name of our Generall." (49) The coin extends the Queen's body and authority to where she cannot travel. Disseminating her image beyond the seas, it translates the domestic progress which brought her face to face with her subjects into a colonial progress in which her coined "picture" exercises authority on her behalf. (50)
From a focus on the strategies of authority, the Gesta Grayorum shifted, however, to create an eroticized myth of royal power when the revels culminated during Shrovetide in a masque before the Queen. The performance at Court recounted a struggle in which the Prince of Purpoole bests the sea god Proteus. To ransom himself, Proteus offers the victor the "Adamantine Rock, the Sea's true Star" but only under the condition that the Prince first show him a power "which in attractive virtue would surpass / The wondrous force of his Iron-drawing rocks" (II:315). It comes as no surprise that this power turns out to be the Queen herself, the "tree Adamant of Hearts," whose virtue it is to "draw" the hearts of men, who "once truly touched by her Beams, ... Turn Fortune's wheel" (III:316-7). These two phases of the Gesta--governmental satire and quasi-mythic celebration---emphasize the politics of desire so central to the progresses and pageants. On the one hand, we have a mystified or idealized literary discourse of courtly love focused on the Queen that both establishes her power over men (as "the attractive Rock of Hearts") (51) and identifies her with the realm: not only do her subjects live "In the Protection of this mighty Rock, / In Britain land," but it is upon the "force" of this "inviolate Rock," that the "giant-like attempts of Power unjust / Have suffered wreck" (III:317). On the other hand, such spatial identifications underscore a pragmatic political strategy of "self-fashioning" which broadcasts, like the coins bearing her impression, the public face of sovereignty throughout the land. The sixth counsellor had earlier advised the Prince of Purpoole thus: "Let other men's lives be as pilgrimages, because they are tied to divers necessities and duties; but Princes' lives are as Progresses, dedicated only to variety and solace. And if your Excellency should take your barge in a summer evening, or your horse or chariot, to take the air; and if you should do any the honour to visit him; yet your pleasure is the principal, and that is but as it falleth out" (III:295). The implication that the only "duties" of concern to a Prince are those advised by the "Council of [his] five senses" not only satirizes the royal entertainments, but seems to discount the mutual involvement of progresses and royal power. The unfolding of the Gesta masque suggests, however, that the counsellor's division between duty and "Pass-times" in fact conceals their interrelation. In Elizabeth's case, progresses were as necessary as they were varied.
Earlier in her reign, the entertainments directed at the Queen had represented her as the epitome of Beauty, to be wooed and assailed by her courtly lovers: in the famous devices at the tiltyard in 1581, for example, the Earl of Arundell, Lord Windsor, Philip Sidney and Fulke Greville--"the four Foster Children of Desire"--"layde tytle and claime" to "the Castle or Fortresse of Perfect Beautie" where the Queen was placed (II:313). Later, however, when Elizabeth's position had become more assured, the discourse of desire expanded to celebrate her in terms that stress the reach of her empire. Thus, during the famous progress of 1591, at the Earl of Hertford's residence in Elvetham, the Poet's welcoming speech to the Queen first celebrated the extent of her rule--
More learned than ourselves, shee ruleth us,
More rich than Seas, she doth commaund the Seas,
More fair than Nimphs, she governs all the Nimphs
More worthy than the Gods, shee wins the Gods
--before turning to the stock Petrarchan aand pastoral conceits of lovelorn courtiers and shepherds. The extension of sovereign self to land and empire was itself part of a mutation--skilfully traced by John King--in the iconography of Elizabeth during her reign from "a marriageable virgin" to a "mythically youthful object of courtly desire." (52) Emerging in the 1580s and 1590s, after the failure of her last marriage effort, the moon cult of Elizabeth (as Diana or Cynthia) combined the image of the virgin forever married to her nation with a platonic and mythic version of the earlier courtly representation. At the same time, in these later Elizabethan forms, the Petrarchan rhetoric of courtly love repeatedly stressed another dimension crucial to the Gesta Grayorum masque: the language of empire. For what Proteus's rock holds out is the promise of unrestrained imperial expansion, the possibility of taming the "wild empire of the Ocean." But this very deed turns out to have been achieved already by "Cynthia's rays, / Whose drawing virtues govern and direct / The flots and reflots of the Ocean." "Your gift," the Prince of Purpoole informs Proteus, "is void, it is already here; / As Russia, China, and Negellan's [sic] Strait / Can witness here" (III:317). As King notes, celebrating Elizabeth as "Cynthia, Queen of Seas and Lands"--as invoked in both the Gray's Inn masque and in the Elvetham entertainments--"further allude[d] to [the] ... claim for England's status as an imperialistic military and naval power, which was voiced with increased stridency following the destruction of the Spanish Armada." (53)
In his reading of Donne's elegy "Going to Bed," Albert Labriola usefully shows how the iconographic extension of the queen's body to cover both England and its (still largely unreal) overseas domains underpinned a discursive reversal of the erotic relationship between English "discoverers" and their queen. "By enlarging the queen's empire and by depositing with her the spoils of their conquest and plunder," Labriola suggests, "the privateers became virtual maritime courtiers and knights who petitioned Elizabeth to grant or renew licenses for their ventures on her behalf. "(54) But the iconographic "enlargement" of the queen's body to include the colonies abroad--witness, for instance, Drake's claim to "Nova Albion" and, even more obviously, Ralegh's naming of "Virginia"--led also to hers becoming the body to be explored. In the Ditchley portrait, for example--and by extension in Donne's "Going to Bed"--"hers is the celestial body on which explorers direct their compasses or other navigational instruments as they travel to uncharted lands and seas, then return home. While gazing on her in the heaven or the celestial sphere, they correspondingly explore her body-politic, whose ever-radiating circles gradually engird the geocosm through the circumnavigation of her explorers and the demarcation thereof by the compasses of cartographers. "(55) It is perhaps no accident that the quasi-imperial foray in which Donne himself participated--the military expedition against Cadiz in 1596--was led by Essex and Drake (and Howard), two of the foremost petitioners for the Queen's favor and regard.
For Labriola, Donne's own engagement with political dimensions of the body-empire equation parodies "the language of amour, the discourse of patronage, and the mystical apprehension of the macrocosmic or heavenly woman." (56) But, as Achsah Guibbory has argued, while this may be true, it side-steps Donne's persistent double investment throughout the Elegies: rejecting the idealized body of courtly and Petrarchan love poetry "in favour of the `grotesque' female body," the poems nonetheless demonstrate how the body's unruliness subverts the masculine attempt at mastering it. (57) In other words, Donne's appropriation of the erotico-political dimensions of Elizabethan progresses and pageantry seems less to reflect or reject the standpoints they express, than to focus on the paradoxes of such structures and on the difficulty of upholding their oppositions.
Such an ambivalence emerges quite clearly in Donne's use of the homology between the Petrarchan fragmenting of the female body (to which Nancy Vickers has drawn attention) and the rhetorical emblazoning of the Queen's body in the royal progresses. In the entertainments following Elizabeth's entry into Elvetham, for example, the Fairies' song praising "the fairest Quene, / That ever trod upon this greene" associates the individual pans of her body with cosmic and terrestrial powers:
Elisaes eyes are blessed starres,
Inducing peace, subduing warres.
Elisaes hand is christal bright,
Her wordes are balme, her lookes are light.
Elisaes breast is that fair hill,
Where Venue dwels, and sacred skill,
O blessed bee each day and houre,
Where sweet Elisa builds her bowre.
This "spectacle and musicke so delighted her Majesty," we are informed, that "shee commanded to heare it sung and to be danced three times over, and called for divers Lords and Ladies to behold it" (III:119). In "Loves Progress," Donne himself takes up this persistent trope of Renaissance amatory verse in the speaker's "progress" over a fragmented female body, indeed figuring its pans precisely as part-objects of (male) desire. The various stations at which the poem's imagined voyager "stays" (46) en route to the "desired place" (39) are clearly desirable in their own right: the "swelling lips" are "not faint Canaries, but Ambrosiall"; the teeth are "chosen pearls"; her chin is a "glorious Promontory," her smooth brow a "Paradice" (45-59).
Yet, these sundered parts, while inciting the lover, also substitute for the "right true end of love," thus impeding the "attaining" of desire even as they fan its flames. Hence their danger: the paradisiacal smooth brow "becalms" the sailor, the wrinkled brow becomes his "grave," the mouth may hold the pearly teeth, but in it also "dwells" the "Rhemora"-like "cleaving tongue." If textually dividing the female body expresses the power of masculine desire, the resulting multiplication of part-objects means that desire may never actually progress; as Donne puts, it can "no further get" (70). From this perspective, one would have to say that the explorer's own vexed progress only reveals how well Elizabeth's strategy in the royal progresses works: to the Queen's "delight" in the rhetorical blazon corresponds the would-be lover's frustration at never being able fully to master the female body through his rhetorical parceling of it. Seduced by her synecdochic substitutes--the star-like eyes, the crystal hands, the fair hill of her breast--the "Lords and Ladies" beholding the spectacle unwittingly turn their gaze away from the monarch to her multiplied representation, accepting the image for the reality. Similarly, Donne's lover, "shipwreck[ed]" through his errant "chase" confirms in his failure the power of "beauties elements" to "stay" (90) his designs, deflecting him from possessing the "perfection" that "is in unity," the one person (and thing) that he most desires (10-11). In other words, even as Donne's would-be lover appropriates the very form through which the Queen constructs herself as his own mode of exercising power over the female body, he underscores a failure constitutive of the voyager's project.
But that failure also points out the route to success. For, while the royal progresses allow Elizabeth to consolidate her position as sovereign, they equally reveal her dependence upon the form of the progress as a means of asserting authority. And if in the domestic progresses such dependence is in part denied by the real presence of the sovereign, by her ability to control her representation, (58) beyond the boundaries of England (and, indeed, in northern parts of England itself) the Queen's image must stand in for her, and her authority remains in force only to the extent that the image bears it. As with Drake's use of "her highnes picture and armes, in a peece of sixe pence of currant English money," the Queen's surrogate face substitutes for the real face, and her authority depends upon that face value passing as "currant."
Hence, we might suggest, the shift in strategy once the voyager is forced to "consider what this chace / Mispent by beginning at the face" (71-72). Rather than take the given, the "real" face, as the starting point, the journey begins anew with the representation, the foot which as a "map" of the terrain has "some Symetry with that part / Which thou dost seek" (74-75). This shift away from the recalcitrant body--as place and corporeality--to a representation which stands in for it presages a binary arrangement of the sign. In its seventeenth-century form, this signifying element--here, the foot or map--has, to cite Foucault, "no content, no function, and no determination other than what it represents: it is entirely ordered upon and transparent to it." Thus, the first example of a sign in the Logique de Port Royal is not the word or the symbol, or even the cry, but "the spatial and graphic representation--the drawing [dessin]: map or picture [carte ou tableau]. This is because the picture only has as content ... that which it represents, and yet that content only appears [because it is] represented through a representation." (59) In "Loves Progress," too, the idea of the foot as map implies the transparency of the sign in relation to what it represents: the map reveals an "empty and ethereal way" of "rising" to "that which thou dost seek." (60) Like the image of the sovereign, which is meant transparently to stand for her authority, the foot as the part "least subject to disguise and change" is intended to take the place of that which it represents. (The famous Ditchley portrait depicts the queen with her feet planted upon a picture of the realm, creating a metonymic association between the foot, the map, and sovereign authority.) But by the same token, what is sought only becomes visible (and thereby accessible) because it is represented by the map; and in this sense, to control the image is to control that which comes to presence only through the image.
This perspective, which stages authority in order to subvert it through the sign for that authority, recurs in much of John Donne's verse. A verse letter to the Countess of Bedford, for example, begins with a metallurgical flourish--"You have refin'd mee, and to worthyest things"--before asserting that the worth in question is not, however, intrinsic to the "refin'd" self--not only because he receives these "things" from without, but also because "Rarenesse, or use, not nature value brings; / And such, as they are circumstanc'd, they bee" (1-4). In displaying (and imparting) "Vertue, Art, Beauty, Fortune," the Countess may indeed possess the necessary qualities of refinement, but what makes these valuable is their rareness at a Court "which is not vertues clime." Conversely, as the letter's conclusion suggests, ensconced in her residence the Countess is herself pure gold: "The Mine, the Magazine, the Commonweale, / The story'of beauty,' in Twicknam is" (69-70). But her value can only be brought into being, the poem also avers, through representation, through the textual sign that is the poem itself: "For, as darke texts need notes: there some must bee / To usher vertue, and say, This is shee" (11-12). If Donne's verse letter presents himself as being shaped or molded by the virtue of his addressee, paradoxically, her virtue equally depends upon being made visible by Donne's text. Only by circulating her image can her virtue be "usher[ed]" into light and being.
In "Loves Progress," the well-documented ambivalence in the period with regard to female authority complicates the medieval understanding of the monetary sign which identified--as we have seen in the writings of Nicole Oresme--the intrinsic value of the metallic substance with the valor impositus, or the royal image that "fixed" or authorized the value of money. The realization that gold too is a commodity reveals that the value imposed by the sovereign's face--and by extension royal authority as such--may itself ultimately be an effect of circulation and exchange.
It is no surprise, then, that the poem's final section, which deals with the "right true end of love," explicitly switches to the language of patronage and power. Turning one's attention to the foot, the map of the female body, implies an attendant shift in the enclosing structures of power:
Civilitie we see refin'd: the kiss
Which at the face began, transplanted is,
Since to the hand, since to the 'imperial knee,
Now at the Papal foot delights to be:
If Kings think that the nearer way, and do
Rise from the foot, Lovers may do so too.
Abasing himself by degrees, the subject acknowledging authority progressively shifts, from the lover manque who began at the face, to the suitor kissing the woman's hand, to the genuflecting courtier before the king, to the king himself before the Pope. In turn, this movement is presented via a subliminally metallurgical metaphor as a "refining" of civility, that is, the gradual extraction of its pure substance: the sovereign's "delight" which then provides the model for the lover's strategy.
But if these lines ostentatiously announce the lover's subjection to sovereign and church, the female-ness of the figure in whom religious power and sovereignty ought to coincide undermines the very claim to authority. For the sovereign presence, which underwrites the assumed adequation of image and referent, gets curiously de-substantialized in the lines that follow:
Rich Nature hath in women wisely made
Two purses, and their mouths aversely laid:
They then, which to the lower tribute owe,
That way which that Exchequer looks, must go
As was noted with regard to the poem's earlier identification of the female body with "pits and holes," the speaker associates the woman contradictorily both with the source or origin of value ("Rich nature") from whose "exchequer" he anticipates "delight," and with an absence or lack ("purse") which "must" be filled by the subject's "tribute," the "sacrificing Coles" he supplies. What first appears as a multiplication of nature's bounty--that women have "two purses"--turns into a doubling of absence, as suggested by their devouring "mouths" and the "empty and Aetherial way" that leads to them. This contradiction echoes the paradox of gold's value as both a substantial, inner richness and as an external effect derived from its "use" in exchange. The female sovereign thus embodies the very gap between valor impositus and intrinsic value, image and referent. The religious conflict alluded to in the image of the monarch "delight[ing]" at the "Papal foot" further undermines royal authority. For in Elizabethan England at least, the speaker cannot in any straightforward way be subject to both sovereign and pope. Indeed, from the perspective of the Roman Church, what the ex-communicated Queen lacks is precisely the (divine) authority that would underwrite her position and guarantee that her image coincides with what it signifies. (61) To receive her subject's tribute means, consequently, to become subject to that subject. As a figure of absence--both sexually and because the image takes her place where she is not--the female sovereign cannot endow the coin with the positivity of intrinsic value, cannot fully embody the presence of authority. (62) Beginning at the foot instead of the face makes it possible, then, to reverse the original hierarchy between enunciating subject and desired object: in effect, accepting submission sets the stage for the speaker's "rise." From his genuflected position, the goal may be said to have been "discovered," and the route to it laid open.
The paradoxes of both "Loves Progress" and the verse letter to the Countess of Bedford ambivalently project, in other words, a "lack" which is constitutive of money, woman and map. Making the substance dependent upon its representation, such an absence unfixes value as such, freeing it to be determined elsewhere and, ultimately, by the masculine subject able to manipulate that representation. While Donne represents the verse letter as the "notes" that explicate the "dark text" which is the Countess, these "notes" themselves make up the "dark text" which is the poem--whose "value" is fixed in turn by its circulation and exchange.
Not, of course, by an economic circulation in this case, but by an analogous textual one: the material circulation of the poems, as manuscripts, among the members of the coteries to which Donne belonged. The difference in tone between "Loves Progress" and the letter to the Countess thus expresses the effect of differing audiences, and concomitantly, of distinct--though related--forms of textual circulation. Just as the two parts of the Gesta Grayorum entertainments enact a movement from the strategies of authority to an idealization of sovereign power, the emphasis in these poems shifts from a fraught fiction of sexual mastery over the female body to an uncomfortable dependence upon the female patron. (63)
Donne's elegies were written during his tenure at the Inns of Court, and an important dimension of their circulation involved their role in generating social capital, to use Bourdieu's phrase, within a male community. R. C. Bald's biography suggests that Donne's years as a law student represented a period of coming to terms "both with the world in which he lived and with the conflict of religious faiths into which, by virtue of his family inheritance, he was inevitably plunged." (64) Drawing upon Bald's narrative, Marotti argues that the elegies were a means by which Donne negotiated such conflicts, addressing his own place not only in relation to sovereignty, authority and church, but to his peers as well. (65) Like John Carey, Marotti thus treats the elegies as "products of socioeconomic resentment and larger class-rivalries," presenting (and ironically performing or commenting on) "a phenomenon symptomatic of young men's inability to master other social, economic, and political circumstances." (66) As compensations for actual insufficiencies, the elegies lay the grounds for Donne's early love lyrics, whose "rhetorically more economical bounds" make them "a form of literary currency acceptable in both courtly and satellite-courtly environments, especially suited [as these poems were] to the system of manuscript transcription through which non-professional property passed." (67) In this sense, the lack that Donne's erotic verse attributes to women turns out to be his own. For a writer not possessed of what counts as valuable (money, or a court position, or a stable religious affiliation), the elegies thus create something (a status at the Inns and a set of connections that will serve him later in life) out of nothing. Through a process of textual exchange and circulation, in which one lack substitutes for another, the elegies themselves become a form of currency, enabling (to recall Thomas Mun's phrase) "a quick and ample Trade."
But beyond attempting to pass as current, an elegy such as "Loves Progress," we might suggest, queries the very notion of what it means to be current. In its distinctive and "outrageous" interrelating of money, colonial voyaging, and sexuality, the poem investigates valuation as itself problematic. And if the elegies comprise a site upon which different forms of "currency" imprint themselves, this concern with valuation bespeaks a transformation in the material conditions of social life: the realization that, like gold, all things (including love) have their price.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* Portions of this article were presented at the conference "Ebony, Ivory and Tea" organized by the Centre for Postcolonial Studies at the University of Silesia (October 2000).
(1.) The phrase is Helen Gardner's, from the commentary which accompanies her edition of The Elegies and The Songs and Sonnets (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1965), 133. "Loves Progress" first appeared in print in 1669, the objection of the licenser having prevented its appearance earlier.
(2.) R.V. Young," `My America, My New-found-land': Pornography and Imperial Politics in Donne's Elegies," South Central Review 4 (1987), 37.
(3.) On the relationship between "love" and "politics," see Arthur Marotti's indispensable John Donne, Coterie Poet (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986) and the influential essay, "`Love Is Not Love': Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences and the Social Order," ELH 49 (1982): 396-428.
(4.) Catherine Belsey, Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 147-48.
(5.) Marotti, John Donne, Coterie Poet, 50.
(6.) Here, and throughout the paper, citations from Donne's poems are indicated by line number, and refer to the versions in John T. Shawcross ed., The Complete Poetry of John Donne (New York: Anchor Books, 1967).
(7.) While this theory had its intellectual origins in Aristotle's compact discussions in Book 1 of the Politics and Book 5 of the Nicomachean Ethics, it left its marks on early modern thought through thirteenth- and fourteenth-century scholastic analyses of money, exchange, and market value. Joel Kaye's Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) offers an exhaustive account of how scholastic thinkers engaged the Aristotelian model of economic exchange. Kaye's overarching claim--that the scholastic treatment of money anticipated and underpinned a "proto-scientific model of nature"--rests on an only partially persuasive homology between the medieval models of the monetized marketplace and nature. Nevertheless, his discussion of the categories connecting medieval and Aristotelian theories of exchange is rich in its implications for the early modern period. See pp. 37-78.
(8.) Nicole Oresme, Traictie de la Premiere Invention des Monnoies, in Arthur Eli Monroe (ed.), Early Economic Thought: Selections from Economic Literature prior to Adam Smith (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1924), 82-3. On the basis of the Physics, the fourteenth-century Aristotelian Jean Buridan argued that the material cause of money was the substance of which it is made, which ought to be "rara et pretiosa"; its final cause, the satisfaction of human needs; its formal cause, its figura and sign specifying weight or pondus; and its efficient cause the sovereign, who guaranteed it. In his discussion of Aristotle's Ethics, Buridan further lists six necessary properties or qualities of money: "one [quality] is that it be of small quantity, for then subtraction cannot be made from it without easy detection. The second be that it be impressed with the stamp of some prince, for otherwise anybody might fabricate and falsify money, by which equality in exchange would be done away with. The third is that it be of fixed weight, for otherwise a fixed price cannot be put on commodities by means of it. The fourth is that it endure well without corruption, for otherwise future demand cannot be provided for by means of it. The fifth is that it be of a precious metal so that a high value can be laid up in a small space and be easily carried to distant places. The sixth is that it be divisible into smaller units, especially on account of the poor, who frequently need a variety of things at minimal prices." Cited in Odd Langholm, Wealth and Money in the Aristotelian Tradition: A Study in Scholastic Economic Sources (Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1983), 79-80. As Langholm and others show, the emphasis on durabilitas, pretiositas, and auctoritas (often explained as the "picture [imago] of sovereign or community") recurs in numerous late-medieval commentaries, such as those by Henry of Freimar and Giles of Orleans, or in the Oxford manuscript attributed to Nicholas Trevet.
(9.) Munro, Early Economic Thought, 93-4.
(10.) Timothy Reiss and Roger H. Hinderliter, "Money and Value in the Sixteenth Century: The Monete Cudende Ratio of Nicholas Copernicus," Journal of the History of Ideas 40 (1979), 296. Reiss and Hinderliter misread Oresme, however, in ascribing to him the belief held by some feudal theorists that the Prince owned the money because the coin bore his image. Oresme explicitly insists that the community "owns" money, the prince's stamp functioning only to establish and maintain its standard: "Although ... the coining and stamping of money is left to the prince, ... it does not follow that the Lord and prince is and ought to be the proprietor and lord of the money in circulation in his country ... for money is a legal instrument for exchanging natural Riches among men. Money, therefore, really belongs to those who own such natural Riches; for if a man gives his bread or the labour of his body for money, it certainly belongs to him alone, just as did his bread or his labour, which he had full power to dispose of as he wished, unless he was a serf." Munro, Early Economic Thought, 86-7. Oresme's not entirely consistent recourse to "common consent" already marks a step away from the theological determination of value, since it potentially shifts the emphasis to the extrinsic social circumstances through which value accrues to the metal. The impulse to delimit the sovereign's right over money can also be found in Buridan's commentaries.
(11.) Act 18 Eliz. c. 15, quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary.
(12.) Munro, Early Economic Thought, 84-5.
(13.) This complex exchange is both redoubled and subverted via an aural pun. The movement from "chang'd" to "chain" preserves a resonant core while also making audible a diminishment (in the loss of the ending). At the same time, in the end rhyme (remaine/chaine), the chain remains as an aural presence reminding us that original loss was indeed that of the chain rather than the prospect of monetary loss now threatening the speaker.
(14.) Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), 172. "If one admits that exchange, in the system of needs, corresponds to similitude in the system of acquired knowledge, then one sees that knowledge of nature, and reflection or practices concerning money, were controlled during the Renaissance by one and the same configuration of the episteme." Indeed, the opening lines (1-8) of "The Bracelet" assert (and reject) a series of similitudes that loosely embrace the principal forms delineated by Foucault: aemulatio or emulation, convenientia or contiguity, analogy, and the play of sympathies. The speaker does not, he claims, mourn the loss of the mistress's "seavenfold chain" because it reflects the color of her hair (emulatio); or because it "oft embrac'd and kist" her hand (convenientia); or because "as these linkes are tied, [theirl love should bee" (analogia); or because of a putative affinity between the chain and their relationship ("for the luck sake"). Rather, he regrets the "bitter cost"--a penalty suspended between the monetary and the theological which, as we have seen, the poem elaborates upon in terms of exchange.
(15.) Cited in Foucault, Order of Things, 172.
(16.) Ibid., 173.
(17.) Coburn Freer, "Donne and Elizabethan Economic Theory," Criticism, XXXVIII (1996), 501.
(18.) Foucault, Order of Things, 174.
(19.) Ibid., 176.
(20.) Theodore Redpath (ed.), The Songs and Sonnets of John Donne, 2nd ed. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983), 183. The sly hint of royal self-love adds, of course, to the clever reversals enacted in this poem.
(21.) Kaye, Economy and Nature, 47.
(22.) Ibid., 47-8.
(23.) The original Greek word, chreia--generally translated as "need"--was rendered in medieval translations either as opus or "use" (as in Robert Grosseteste's version of the Ethics) or as indigentia or "need." As Kaye puts it, "the confusion as to what determined value ... can be traced, in part, back to confusions introduced in the early Latin translations of Aristotle's text." See Economy and Nature, 68.
(24.) Thomas Aquinas, Opere Omnia, Vol. XLVII (Rome: Commission Leonina, 1969), 294b-95a. Cited in Kaye, Economy and Nature, 70. On Aquinas and Albertus's interpretation of Aristotle, see Kaye, 64-70.
(25.) In essence, Belsey's Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture sketches the contours of this transition from a particular perspective: that of an emerging historical distinction between "private" and "public." Richard Halpern by contrast draws on Niklas Luhmann's work to interpret the public/private distinction as the effect of a decoupling of increasingly complex social subsystems. The language of love, itself a semi-autonomous sub-system, attempts to bridge what are now detached areas of human experience. See his "The Lyric in the Field of Information: Autopoesis and History in Donne's Songs and Sonnets," Yale Journal of Criticism 6 (1983), 185-215.
(26.) The recurrence of the "barren angels" suggests, too, that attention to the problem of monetary value may help illuminate aspects of another notoriously difficult poem, "Air and Angels." That analysis lies, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this paper.
(27.) Donne's turn from what is "hers" to her, from "beauties elements" to "that desired place," inverts a standard Petrarchan trope. As Nancy Vickers argues, Petrarch is distinctive in "systematically avoid[ing] those structures that would mask fragmentation." Thus, when Joachim du Bellay attacks the "French propensity for Italianizing, his offensive gesture against the Petrarchans ... substitute[s] the unified celebration of female beauty for the witty cliches of Petrarchan particularization." See "Diana Dismembered: Scattered Woman and Scattered Rhyme," in Elizabeth Abel ed., Writing and Sexual Difference (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 96. Donne's opposing beauty to "beauties elements" would seem to participate in a related "offensive."
(28.) While the connection with Katherine's language lesson was suggested to me by Diana Henderson, it has recently also been proffered by Ronald Corthell in Ideology and Desire in Renaissance Poetry: The Subject of Donne (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997), 69. The word "Symetry" also recalls the emerging conception of space as homogeneous and identical at every point. Donne later gives this notion of spatial symmetry a distinctive theological turn in his "Hymn to God my God, in my Sickness" when he compares his ailing body to a "fiat map" in which "west and east ... are one." This symmetry of the Renaissance map provides a spatial figure for transcendence of the body's limitations: like the joining of east and west, "death doth touch the resurrection."
(29.) John Donne, "A Sermon Preached to the Honourable Company of the Virginian Plantation, 13 November 1622," in George R. Potter and Evelyn M. Simpson eds., The Sermons of John Donne, 10 vols. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1953-62), IV: 271.
(30.) Langholm, Wealth and Money, 11-12.
(31.) Gerrard Malynes, A Treatise of the Canker in England's Common Wealth, (London, 1601). Reprinted in R. H. Tawney and Eileen Power (eds.), Tudor Economic Documents, 3 vols. (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962), III: 388. The best analysis of Henrician currency manipulation and its effects remains J. D. Gould's The Great Debasement: Currency and Economy in Mid-Tudor England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970). See also C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1978).
(32.) Jean Bodin's Reply to the Paradoxes of Malestroit Concerning the Dearness of All Things and the Remedy Therefor, in Monroe, Early Economic Thought, 127.
(33.) Monroe, Early Economic Thought, 129.
(34.) Tawney and Power, Tudor Economic Documents, 3:387.
(35.) Patricia Fumerton's Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991) focuses on how mercantilism twinned a "discourse of economic strangeness" with one of corporeality. It argues that the colonial rhetoric of cannibalism and dismemberment arose as a displacement of a domestic concern with trade and monetary imbalances onto external culprits. See especially 174 and 187-95.
(36.) Thomas Mun, A Discourse of Trade from England to the East-Indies (London, 1621). I cite from the reprinted text in J. R. McCulloch ed., Early English Tracts on Commerce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 9.
(37.) Lewes Robert, The Treasure of Traffike, or a Discourse of Forraigne Trade (London, 1641). In McCulloch, Early English Tracts, 62.
(38.) Tawney and Power, Tudor Economic Documents, 3:386.
(39.) Ibid., 400.
(40.) Thomas Mun, England's Treasure by Forraign Trade (London, 1664). In McCulloch, Early English Tracts, 137-38. Mun's tract was written around 1630.
(41.) Monroe, Early Economic Thought, 182.
(42.) This perception would seem to correspond to reality. As Challis asserts, "foreign gold coins, especially Spanish pistolets, dominated in mint supply in 1561-2, but then, in later years, apparently lost ground. Foreign silver coin, again Spanish, starts equally strongly in 1561-2, but then with one exception in the years 1567-9 goes on to form a dominant element of the Tudor mint supply for which we have accurate record." Challis, The Tudor Coinage, 195. The disappearance of gold coins (Spanish and others) was a result of the difference in the bi-metallic ratios prevailing in England and on the continent. The difference made it profitable for merchants, both English and foreign, to organize trade in such a way that gold left the country and silver took its place.
(43.) One may note, in passing, that the comparison of Spanish coins with "unlickt bear-whelps" lends a monetary connotation to the opening lines of "Loves Progress," where Donne likens love to a "bear-whelp," which if "oer-licked" is marred and made monstrous. A sermon from 1630 attacking Jesuit relativism also has instinctive recourse to monetary metaphors in language that links it to the diatribe in "The Bracelet": "[H]ow shall the learnedest of all governe himself if he have occasion to travaile, but to change his Divinity, as often as he changes his Coine, and when he turnes his Dutch Dollers into Pistolets, to go out of Germany, into Spain, turn his Devotion, and his religious worship according to the Clime?" Cited in Annabel Patterson's "Donne in Shadows: Pictures and Politics," John Donne Journal 16 (1997), 30.
(44.) Kaye, Economy and Nature, 52-53.
(45.) David M. Bergeron, English Civil Pageantry 1558-1642 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971), 11.
(46.) Diana E. Henderson, Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender, and Performance (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 43.
(47.) Cited in R. C. Bald, John Donne: A Life (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1970), 72.
(48.) From Gesta Grayorum, in John Nichols, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, 3 vols. (London, 1823), III: 262-3. All further references to Elizabethan progresses and entertainments are indicated by volume and page number.
(49.) Richard Hakluyt, The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (Cambridge, England: Hakluyt Society and the Peabody Museum of Salem, 1965), 643h.
(50.) The circulation of coins and portraits was likewise especially important in areas of north and west England beyond easy reach of the large courtly retinues involved in the Queen's progresses.
(51.) This gendering of the dependent subjects indexes, too, a gradual shift in the courtly rhetoric surrounding Elizabeth. Whereas in earlier entertainments, such as at Kenilworth or in Peele's Arraignment, her presence frees men and women alike, here the subjects paying their tribute are explicitly male.
(52.) John N. King, "Queen Elizabeth I: Representations of the Virgin Queen," Renaissance Quarterly, 34 (1990), 36.
(53.) Ibid., 59. This second figure provides the basis for her "anachronistic revival [within the frame of Jacobean politics] ... as a model ruler whose perpetual virginity symbolised political integrity, Protestant ideology, and a militarily interventionist policy against Spain" (67).
(54.) Albert C. Labriola, "Painting and Poetry of the Cult of Elizabeth I: The Ditchley Portrait and Donne's `Elegie: Going to Bed'," Studies in Philology 93 (1996), 42. While I remain uncomfortable with the often reductive uses of the anomalous figure of the "woman on top" to explain the dynamics of the Elizabethan court and amatory verse, I think that Labriola makes a strong case for linking the body in "On his Mistress Going to Bed" to the Queen. Moreover, his reading provides grounds for extending this association to "Loves Progress."
(55.) Ibid., 46.
(56.) In this sense, Labriola's position echoes both Marotti's and Young's in that it sees the poem as mocking the conventions it mobilizes.
(57.) Achsah Guibbory, "`Oh, Let Mee Not Serve So': The Politics of Love in Donne's Elegies," ELH 57 (1990), 815.
(58.) Recall, for instance, Elizabeth's refusal to take up the position intended for her in Philip Sidney's pageant The Lady of May. As Henderson puts it, "her opposition to Sidney's desire for an interventionist continental policy, personified in his pageant by the active forester Therion whom the author clearly favours to win the Lady of May, led the queen to make narrative nonsense of his conclusion by honouring the more passive rival, the shepherd." In Passion Made Public, 70.
(59.) Foucault, Order of Things, 64. Translation modified.
(60.) Donne's association between sexual mastery and rising from the foot recalls a bawdy contemporaneous poem by Nashe entitled "The Choise of Valentines," where, too, the protagonist has to change direction in order to achieve sexual consummation with a prostitute.
(61.) This ambivalent depiction of sovereign authority may suggest a biographical link to Donne's own vexed relationship to Catholicism.
(62.) This problem is addressed from various perspectives by the essays collected in Louise Fradenburg, ed., Women and Sovereignty (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992).
(63.) This shift also becomes clear if we compare how "The Bracelet" unfolds with the verse letter to the Countess. In the former, as we have seen, Donne begins with the assumption of intrinsic worth only to disrupt progressively the equation of "form" and "being." By contrast, the latter begins by claiming the dependence of virtue upon its representation only to conclude by asserting the primacy of intrinsic worth (the Countess as gold itself).
(64.) Bald, John Donne, 63.
(65.) As Marotti puts it, Donne's poems need to be viewed as "coterie social transactions, rather than as literary icons ... since virtually all the basic features of Donne's poetic art are related to its coterie character." In John Donne, 19.
(66.) Marotti, John Donne, 52. Carey's and Marotti's readings of Donne's early poems differ primarily in their sense of how the poems relate to the coterie context. In Carey's rather reductionist biography, Donne's poems are young men's fantasy-triumphs; they attempt to satisfy the need for "the repair of self-esteem ... a convenient literary compensation for the actual economic, political and, later, military insufficiency." By contrast, Marotti tends to read the poems as performing compensatory fantasies, parodying the very contexts in which they participate.
(67.) Ibid., 66.