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The Unrepentant RenaissanceFrom Petrarch to Shakespeare to Milton$

Richard Strier

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226777511

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226777535.001.0001

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(p.187) APPENDIX Sanctifying the Aristocracy: From Ignatius Loyola to François de Sales (and then to Donne and Herbert)

(p.187) APPENDIX Sanctifying the Aristocracy: From Ignatius Loyola to François de Sales (and then to Donne and Herbert)

The Unrepentant Renaissance
University of Chicago Press

Luther’s revolution, according to Weber, was to declare the fulfillment of worldly duties “the highest form which the moral activity of the individual could assume.”1 Luther broke down the distinction between the layperson and “the religious.” This was the point of his exaltation of baptism, which produced the revolutionary doctrine of “the priesthood of all believers,” in which “we who have been baptized are all uniformly priests by virtue of that very fact.”2 “A shoemaker, a smith, a farmer, each has his manual operation and work; and yet, at the same time, all are eligible to act as priests and bishops.”3 All legitimate worldly activity was sacred when done in the proper spirit—thus, “the term spiritual is often applied to one who is busy with the most outward of works,” and “the common work of a serving man or maid is more acceptable [to God] than all the fastings and other works of monks.”4 Luther can be seen as responding to one of the great challenges for late medieval and early modern spirituality in Western Europe: the increasing wealth, urbanization, and literacy of the lay population. The religious status of ordinary Christians, of persons living in “the world,” outside of monastic or religious orders needed to be rethought. The devotio moderna and the popularization of Rhineland mysticism were responses to this problem, as were the confraternities in Italy and, in part, the Lollard movement in England.5 At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Erasmus preceded Luther in seeing baptism as the essential (p.188) Christian “vow” and “the holiest of ceremonies.”6 His was another attempt to break down the barrier between the layman and the “religious.” “I would have all Christians,” said Erasmus, live in such a way that those who alone are now called ‘religious’ appear not religious enough.”7 The Puritan movement in England and America can be seen as continuing the Protestant version of this endeavor.8

As the example of Erasmus shows, this endeavor was not, in the early modern period, confined to Protestants. Although Weber distinguishes Luther’s position from what he calls “the liberal utilitarian compromise with the world at which the Jesuits arrived,” the Jesuit movement must be seen as part of the same large cultural movement. The Jesuits were the spearhead of the Roman Church’s attempt to recapture the laity as, in some significant sense, “religious.”9 The Jesuit schools “offered genuine opportunities for upward social mobility, which were taken up by the sons of the merchant, professional, and artisan classes.”10 But the idea was for such persons to become honnêtes hom-mes—persons who could behave as, formerly, only aristocrats had done. One important Jesuit pedagogue referred to education as the means for turning oneself into “a galant homme in little time.”11 It was out of this emphasis that the movement known primarily in France as “devout humanism” took its (p.189) orientation.12 Devout humanism might be described as a movement that set out to show Christianity to be fully possible within the bounds of ordinary and recognizable elite social life. Its class orientation is essential to it.13 For the Catholics, “devout humanism” was a way of capturing the part of the laity that mattered, from the artisans upward, and keeping the lay elite from either Protestantism or “libertinage.”14 But there were also Protestant forms of this movement.15 The major text of “devout humanism” is François de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life (first edition, 609). Pascal’s Provincial Letters, later in the century (first edition, 656), is the great attack on both the Jesuit and the Salesian movements. George Herbert has been claimed for “devout humanism” in England, as has John Donne.16

With regard to François de Sales, it is important to see that he was building on a development already underway in the great foundational text of Jesuit (p.190) spirituality, the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola (published 5 8, but completed earlier).17 Despite a good deal of confusion and obfuscation on the matter, the exercises are not ascetic in orientation. They are addressed neither to the cloistered nor the adept. Early in the text, in its “Introductory Observations,” the director who is administering the exercises is admonished not to urge the exercitant “to embrace poverty or to make any other promise [vow] rather than its contrary; neither should he encourage him to embrace one state of life or way of living [un estado o modo de vivir] rather than another.”18 This is very striking; in the exercises, the normal Catholic valuations of “states of life” are to be suspended. As Roland Barthes says, “the Ignatian tree [of binaries] has the paradoxical purpose of equilibrating the objects of choice, and not, as one would have expected, of preferring one of them.”19

Ignatius is fully aware of the oddity of this, but he insists on it. “Apart from the Exercises,” he quickly goes on to say, “it would be both lawful and meritorious to urge all who are probably fitted for it”—even this is interestingly careful—”to choose continence, virginity, religious life, and all other forms of evangelical perfection.”20 But the stance of the Exercises is to be completely neutral to all possible (nonsinful) ways of life. The one who gives the exercises should be “like a balance at equilibrium” (estando en medio como un peso), not leaning in any direction (sec. 5). The aim of the exercises is to produce exactly this state of mind in the exercitant, so that he too is to be “like a balance at equilibrium” (sec. 79). The aim is not rejection of the world but “indifference” to it (hacemos indiferentes a todas las cosas criadas); the exercitant should come (p.191) “not to prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor” (sec. 123). He should be made into a vacuum in which the spirit of God can work directly, without any internal interference.21 The exercises are meant to help the individual discover “in what kind of life or in what state His Divine Majesty wishes to make use of us” (sec. 5). This is what leads Barthes to speak of the Exercises as a divinatory or “mantic” text.22 The aim is to “arrive at perfection in whatever state or way of life God our Lord”—and here the phrasing gets very careful, and perhaps paradoxical—”may grant us to choose” (nos diere para eligir; sec. 35).

“Perfection” can be attained in any “state or way of life.” If we are to be “indifferent” with regard to all such matters, then not only are we not to prefer riches to poverty and honor to dishonor, but we are also, conversely, not to prefer poverty to riches or sickness to health. The ideal is “only to will and not will as God our Lord inspires” (sec. 55), and to serve God in whatever state of life he has led us to believe that he wishes us to be in—”in either alternative” (sec.166). Marriage and benefices, for instance, can be used in the service of God (sec. 69), and can, the logic of the position requires, be forms of “perfection.” In the “Rules for Thinking with the Church” that Ignatius added to the Exercises in 535, in a specifically polemical (anti-Protestant) context, Ignatius held that vows are only appropriate for a specific kind of life, the life of renunciation; that only this sort of life is capable of “perfection”; and that other sorts of life “may not be made the object of a vow, for example, a business career, [or] the married state” (sec. 357).23 However, earlier in the Exercises (sec. 38), Ignatius had stated that oaths should be used in situations (p.192) of importance “either for the

Yet Ignatius’s text is haunted by the ascetic ideal. He distinguishes between interior penance—”sorrow for one’s sins and a firm purpose not to commit them or any others”—and “exterior” penance, which has a bodily component (secs. 82–86), and he does not seem to be satisfied (as Erasmus and the Protestant reformers were) with only the former.24 He considers the denial of food and of sleep, and the self-infliction of physical pain. One is to deny oneself food up to the point of causing harm to oneself; the same is true of sleep, but here Ignatius insists, interestingly, that “we should not deny ourselves a suitable amount of sleep.” On self-inflicted pain, he seems to take a severe line, recommending causing one’s body pain by “wearing hair shirts, cords, or iron chains on the body, or by scourging or wounding oneself” (sec. 85). But he then adds a paragraph limiting this to “superficial pain,” and concludes that “it would seem more suitable to chastise oneself with light cords [lastimarse con cuerdas delgadas]”—a sentence that beautifully expresses his ambivalence.

With regard to poverty, Ignatius makes a distinction similar to the one he makes concerning penance. Just as there is interior and exterior penance, there is spiritual and actual poverty. Everyone is called to the former (spiritual poverty); the latter (actual poverty) is religiously higher, but is only appropriate for those who have been granted a specific call to it (sec. 6). Of the three kinds of humility—Ignatius certainly does have the obsession numérative25 —the state of indifference is only the second kind. The first and lowest kind is fear of committing mortal sin; the third and highest consists not of indifference to wealth (p.193) but of actively choosing poverty (sec. 67). Yet in the next section, the crucial “Introduction to Making a Choice of a Way of Life,” the pivot of the entire text at the end of the exercises for the second week, the emphasis is again on living holily in whatever choice one has made: “[N]othing must move me to use such means [marriage or benefices], or to deprive myself of them, save only the service and praise of God.”26

In the discussion of eating and sleeping, Ignatius placed penance, which involves depriving oneself of “what is proper for us to have,” over temperance, which involves merely doing away with what is superfluous, and there is to be no confusion of the one with the other (quando quitamos lo superfluo no es penitencia, mas temperancia [sec. 83]). Yet when, in the exercises for the third week, he returns to “Rules with Regard to Eating,” the ideal is to “arrive at the mean” (sec. 2 3). To whip oneself with light cords turns into “if delicacies are taken, to eat of them only sparingly” (sec. 2 2). In fact, the exercises in general are meant to move away from penance, and toward temperance. This is the tenth and final “additional direction” for the fourth (and final) week (sec. 229). We recall the rhetoric of finding the mean (“neither more nor less”) with regard to alms. One of the final “rules” in the text before the “Rules for Thinking with the Church” is pure classical philosophy—Aristotelianism with a Stoic tint (sec. 350):

A soul that wishes to make progress in the spiritual life must always act in a manner contrary to that of the enemy. If the enemy seeks to make the conscience lax, one must endeavor to make it more sensitive. If the enemy strives to make the conscience delicate with a view to leading it to excess, the soul must endeavor to establish itself firmly in a moderate course, so that in all things it may preserve itself in peace.

One can have excess of conscientiousness, and this seems to be exactly equivalent in spiritual weight to having a lack of it. Certainly Ignatius was right to distinguish temperance from asceticism. Temperance is an ideal of worldly appreciation, not of world-renunciation. The state of mental indifference (close to Stoic ataraxia) is the distinctive ideal of the Spiritual Exercises. In this state of mind, one can rightly—holily—take earthly glory, as well as leaving it.

(p.194) In the ninth epistle of the Provincial Letters, Pascal’s Jesuit interlocutor notes that “men of the world are generally deterred from devotion by the strange idea[s] they have been led to form of it”; to counter these strange ideas, he especially praises one Father Le Moine for drawing a “perfectly charming” picture of devotion in his work entitled Devotion Made Easy.27 This is not parody. Le Moine and his book exist, and Le Moine’s treatise “does little more than paraphrase some chapters of the Introduction à la vie dévote.”28 As Henri Bremond rather dryly notes, “Port Royal, too prudent to attack the master [de Sales], gladly delivered the disciple [Le Moine] over to the scourge of Pascal.”29 Devotion made easy—the fundamental premise of François de Sales’s book is that “the way to heaven is not as difficult as the world makes it out to be.”30 The aim, as Pascal’s Jesuit (following Le Moine and others) says, is to produce “genteel saints” (saints polis) and “well-bred devotees” (devots civilisés) ( 38/ 59), Christian versions, as we have seen, of the hônnete-homme.31 For a course in the town college of Lyon run by the Jesuits, Claude-François Menestrier produced a syllabus called “L’idee de l’estude d’un honneste homme.”32

For François de Sales, the devout life can happily include a remarkable range of behavior—of leisure-class behavior, that is—sports, banquets, parties, (p.195) and balls (77/65) as well as hunting and games of skill played for (modest) stakes (208/2 7). Cleanliness is seen, by virtue of a remarkable use of a passage in Isaiah, as “to a certain extent” (en quelque façon) next to godliness ( 92/226). Most characteristically perhaps, de Sales “would have devout people, whether men or women, always the best dressed in a group” (193/227). The premiere courtly virtue, sprezzatura—the appearance of not making an effort—is the key to proper social and Christian behavior: “If beauty is to have good grace, it should be unstudied [négligée]” (133/143).33 The devout are not only to be the best dressed but also “the least pompous and affected.” One can, as one should, maintain the dignity due to one’s rank “without damage to humility”—if this is done négligemment ( 3 / 5). But there is more here than accommodation of Christianity to le beau monde. Unaffectedness also extends to the spiritual and emotional realm. One must speak of one’s sufferings only “in a natural, true, and sincere way,” and not exaggerate them in order to get sympathy ( 30/ 37). This latter case, in which Saint Paul becomes the perfect model of a gentleman, shows the way in which this perspective can offer something more than mere accommodation. The critique of affectation captures “very subtle and refined ambition and vanity” in its diagnosis of ostentation in suffering.

With similar sensitivity to the manipulation of (virtuous) appearances, the aristocratic ethos is itself at times subject to moral criticism in the Introduction to the Devout Life. Yet the drive toward accommodation is always present. In speaking of the way in which everyone can take and keep his proper rank without damage to humility, François de Sales notes that his defense of this assertion might seem to pertain “to [worldly] wisdom rather than [to] humility” (13/ 45). But he then provides a brilliant critique of the sort of strategic humility that Castiglione discusses. One of Castiglione’s speakers recommends that the courtier refuse favors and honors, but do so “in such a way as to give the donor cause to press them upon him more urgently.”34 De Sales knows all about this. He specifically designates humility as false when “we make a show of flying away and hiding ourselves so that people will run after us and seek us out,” when “we pretend to want to be last in the company and to be seated (p.196) at the foot of the table, but it is with a view toward moving more easily to the upper end” (135–36/17). True humility is either hidden or, when expressed, sincere. Yet de Sales cannot end the discussion at this point. The position he has been developing is overly rigorous with regard to the ordinary interactions of polite social life. He goes on to add that while the devout person must (perhaps) not play the game himself, “sometimes good manners require us to offer precedence to those who will certainly refuse it,” and he insists that “this is neither duplicity nor false humility” (136/ 7). The same is true of employing “certain words of honor which do not seem to be strictly true,” but which ordinary social decorum requires. It is certainly “not always advisable to say all that is true” (206/21).35

For François de Sales, sociability is the essence of charity. It even covers sins. In discussing games, de Sales initially makes a clear distinction between games of skill and games of chance, allowing games of skill and prohibiting those of chance (208–9/2 7– 8). Yet a few pages later, participation in games of chance is declared allowable to the devout “when prudence and discretion direct you to be agreeable,” since “to be agreeable [la condescendance] is part of charity, and makes indifferent things good and dangerous things permissible.”36 La condescendance even “removes harm from things in some way evil [aucunement mauvaises]” (2 2/253). We are inevitably—but perhaps improperly—reminded of Pascal’s discussion of the Jesuit relaxations of the conception of “proximate occasions of sins” (157–58/ 8 –82). De Sales’s appeal to the image of Ignatius Loyola at genteel card parties (242/253) hardly removes the discomfort.

For François de Sales, this image is exactly parallel to that of Saint Catherine of Siena “turning the spit” in her father’s kitchen (21/255). The difference in the nature and social meaning of the activities is irrelevant. De Sales does not see Christian values as exerting very much pressure on the class orientation of his text. Concern for reputation—one of the great aristocratic obsessions—is upheld because “good name is one of the bases of human society [l’un des fon-demens de la societè humaine]” (13/155). There is no conflict between humility and concern for one’s honor. At times, de Sales does seem to allow biblical (p.197) testimony to threaten social norms, as when he speaks of David and Saint Paul bearing shame in the service of God. “Nevertheless [J’excepte neanmoins],” he immediately adds, certain reproaches cannot be borne, and certain persons, “on whose reputations the edification of many others depends,” should not bear reproaches at all ( 1/460). It is neither necessary nor desirable to be a fool for Christ’s sake ( 38/ 50); if certain servants of God have pretended to be fools in order to render themselves abject in the eyes of the world, “we must admire but not imitate them” (compare the Utopians on their ascetic priests).37 Again, Christ and the biblical exemplars are to be followed—but with prudence and discretion (mais sagement et discretement [ 5/159]).

Sociability is the essence of charity, and sociability requires participation in and mastery of the forms, fictions, and practices of polite society. Eutrapelia, “which we call pleasant conversation” ( 96/23 ), is redeemed from its Pauline status as a vice and returned to its Aristotelian standing as a virtue.38 The seemingly dour virtue of mortification is brilliantly adapted to the demands of social life. De Sales builds on the Ignatian conception of “indifference,” but is more consistent than Ignatius in placing indifference above denial. With regard to food, de Sales concedes that although “always to choose the worst” may seem more austere, the truest kind of mortification is to eat whatever is put before you, even if you like it ( 86/219; emphasis mine). In this way—and the point is quite a brilliant one—we renounce our choice as well as our taste, since the austere-seeming form of mortification involves continuous assertions of will. The proper exercise of mortification—mortification through adaptability and acquiescence—”doesn’t show in public, bothers no one, and is well-adapted to social life [est uniquement propre pour la vie civile].” At a moment like this, it is difficult to distinguish ingenuousness from disingenuousness in the text.39

The biblical conceptions of humility and mortification are sticking points for “devout humanism,” as for any world-affirming version of Christianity. The Gospel condemnations of wealth are particularly unsettling. De Sales’s way around this is to stress Jesus’s praise of “the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). He therefore distinguishes—again, building on but extending Ignatius—between (p.198) spiritual and material poverty. A whole section of the third part of the Introduction is devoted to the claim that “[p]overty of spirit can be observed in the midst of riches” (sec. ). You can possess riches without being spiritually hurt by them “if you merely keep them in your home and purse, and not in your heart” (162/ 485). Moreover, “you may take care to increase your wealth and resources”—through just means, of course (163–61/ 87). One can be poor “in effect” through any experience of inconvenience, as when “our best clothes are in one place and we need them in another” or—the one that strikes closest to my wine-collector’s heart—when “the wines in our cellar ferment and turn sour” (166/490).

De Sales tells us that Saint Elizabeth, daughter of the king of Hungary, sometimes, for recreation among her ladies, “clothed herself like a poor woman, saying … ‘If I were poor, I would dress in this manner’ “—and thereby manifested poverty of spirit. The ideal is to have “the advantages of riches for this world and the merit of poverty for the world to come” (162/ 85). The asserted connection to poverty is what is distinctive here (as opposed, for instance, to the celebration of earned wealth as a sign of God’s favor).40 The happy harmony of worldly riches and “the merit of poverty” is exactly what Pascal sought to disrupt. A. W. S. Baird cogently argues that the reason why casuistical arguments legitimizing aristocratic pastimes are so frequently singled out in the Provincial Letters is not merely because such arguments represent the most vulnerable point in the Jesuit armor but also “for the more basic reason that the aristocratic way of life requires more numerous and more serious attenuations than any other in the standard of Christian conduct.”41

Much Protestant writing and preaching on social and economic matters in England was devoted to exalting the spiritual status of “the industrious sort of people,” and downgrading the status of beggars and aristocrats (often lumped together), and of course, monks.42 Yet, in the introduction to his volume, Bremond mentions that if time and space had allowed he “would fain have shown” how among the “Anglicans” of the first half of the seventeenth century a temper was produced “analogous to French devout humanism.”43 There is some truth to this. A number of English Protestant texts in the early seven- (p.199) teenth century did share the attitudes and the elitism of l’humanisme dévot. Donne’s “A Litanie” may well have been one of those works that Bremond would have treated; George Herbert’s “The Church-porch” may well have been another.

Helen Gardner, citing Bremond, links “A Litanie” to the movement.44 In this poem, Donne professes heroic willingness not to suffer for God, crying, “Oh to some / Not to be Martyrs, is a martyrdome” (lines 89–90). The poem seems to pray for a balanced view of worldly splendor: to be kept “from thinking that great courts immure / All, or no happinesse” (lines 29–30). But the dramatic enjambment and punctuation of “All” betrays the balance; “or no” is rushed over—to think that is not really an option for the speaker in the way that thinking courts “immure / All … happinesse” is. The rest of the stanza is devoted not to finding a mean between the excesses of over- and undervaluing courtly life but exclusively to the problem of undervaluation. The “or” clauses become additive rather than antithetical as Donne prays to be delivered from thinking “that this earth / Is only for our prison fram’d,” or “that they are maim’d / From reaching this worlds sweet, who seek thee thus” (lines 29–34).

The God of this poem is not a jealous God (to think “that thou art covetous / To them whom thou lov’st” is a mistake). With regard to wealth, Christians are “to both waies”—riches and poverty—”free” (line 62). This exactly recapitulates Ignatian indifference. Donne finds the Gospels perfectly balanced on the matter of wealth. In a colloquy with Christ, Donne does concede that “through thy poore birth . . . thou / Glorifiedst Povertie” (lines 58–59). But the next line begins “And yet.” Donne notes that “soone after” his birth, Jesus “riches didst allow” by “accepting Kings gifts in the Epiphanie” (lines 60–61). As in the stanza on princely courts, the balanced treatment falls away. Poverty is seen as merely punitive or dangerous, whereas plenty is seen as not only “Gods image” but also his “seale” (line 85). Most of all, as in François de Sales’s view, God does not demand antisocial behavior. In a moment very close to de Sales, Donne stresses “our mutuall duties,” and prays to be delivered from “indiscreet humilitie” that might scandalize “the world” (lines 9–5 ). Discretion is the commanding virtue (in a later poem Donne asserts, “Wicked is not much worse than indiscreet”).45 Again, we must follow the Gospels, mais sagement et discretement

(p.200) Helen Gardner noted the lack of balance in “A Litanie,” its “rather exaggerated stress” on “the compatibility of the service of God with ‘this worlds sweet.’”46 Gardner offers some plausible biographical reasons why Donne may have fallen into such exaggeration in 608, when he may have been tempted to see renunciation as desirable (as he purports to do, for instance, in “The Canonization”), but John Carey has shown that Donne’s perspective stays the same in his sermons (after 6 5) when his worldly position (through the church) was much better.47 In a characteristic moment, Donne assures his auditors in 62 : “Salvation it selfe being so often presented to us in the names of Glory, and of Joy, we cannot thinke that the way to that glory is a sordid life affected here, an obscure, a beggarly, a negligent abandoning of all wayes of preferment, or riches, or estimation in this World.”48 Donne explains that “the glory of Heaven shines downe in these beames” of preferment, riches, and worldly comforts.

Like the Protestant reformers, François de Sales, and Father Le Moine, Donne is worried lest “men thinke, that the way to the joyes of Heaven, is a joylesse severenesse, a rigid austerity.” Donne is part of the devout humanist tradition in his special concern for the rich and aristocratic. He makes use of the distinction between the two kinds of poverty that was adumbrated in Ignatius Loyola and flowered in François de Sales. Poverty of spirit, Donne explains, “is humility; it is not beggary.” And therefore, of course, it follows that “a rich man may have it” ( :303). God, Donne explains, “weares good cloathes, silk, and soft raiment, in his religious servants in Courts, as well as Cammels haire, in John Baptist in the Wildernesse”; and God manifests himself to man “as well in the splendor of Princes in Courts, as in the austerity of John Baptist in the Wildernesse” (9:328).

Donne’s version of “the devout life” is even more splendid than that depicted by François de Sales. But, as Carey has shown, it comes from the deepest springs of Donne’s sensibility.49 What is striking about Herbert’s “The Church-porch” in relation to the texts of both Donne and François de Sales (p.201) is that Herbert’s poem can hardly be seen as offering any vision or version of “devout life.” The poem participates much more fully in the elitism than in the piety of devout humanism. The addressee of “The Church-porch” is a young person (only male) whose prospects and social position make him especially valuable: “Thou, whose sweet youth and early hopes inhance / Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure” (lines –2).50 The idea that “[k]neeling ne’er spoil’d silk stocking” (line 07) would certainly have been endorsed by François de Sales, as would the charmingly expressed injunction, “Dress and undress thy soul” (line 53). Aside from a few moments like this that call for introspection, itself put in prudential terms—”Since thou shalt be most surely judg’d / Make thy accounts agree”—Herbert’s poem is not concerned with the service or love of God at all.51 Insofar as it has a “religious” dimension, the poem is concerned with Christian behavior—almsgiving, tithing, and church attendance—and with proper behavior in church (not flirting, and, especially, not making fun of the preacher, to which Herbert devotes four stanzas [72– 75]). There is no equivalent in “The Church-porch” to Donne’s conception of “splendor” or to François de Sales’s sustained attempt to transform sociability into an actual version of charity. Unlike the Introduction to the Devout Life, “The Church-porch” does not attempt a transformation of the courtesy-book tradition. The poem merely places a distinct version of that tradition—addressed to the gentiluomo rather than the cortegiano—in a behaviorally Christian framework.52 The courtesy book to which the poem is closest is Bacon’s (p.202) Essays, a collection of “counsels, civil and moral,” in which, as in the poem, the “civil” bulks large.53

The attempt has been made to read “The Church-porch” as moral. Louis

L. Martz sees the poem as falling “into three general divisions,” reprehending in turn “sins related to individual conduct (stanzas –3 ); sins related to social behavior (stanzas 35–62); and finally, sins related to specifically religious duties (stanzas 63–77).”54 The central section of the poem, however, on social behavior, is concerned not with sins but with strategies, and it takes up five-sixths rather than one third of “The Church-porch.” By the fifth stanza, Herbert is already dealing with the negotiation (mostly the dangers) of sociability. At the opening of stanza 5, there is a striking and typical descent in level of discourse; the speaker moves from the high moral ground of stanzas 2 through

—from “O what were man, might he himself displace” in line 23 to “Drink not the third glasse” in line 25 (virtually repeated at line ). Despite Martz’s neat scheme of sins, the high moral ground is basically abandoned after stanzas 2 through . Another critic’s scheme is more nuanced. Joseph H. Summers sees the poem as proceeding “by skilful use of traditional methods” through the seven deadly sins, from lechery, “the least important,” to “the greatest spiritual sins” of anger, envy, and pride.55 This is, again, perfectly plausible, but there is no indication in the poem that its author considers lust and drunkenness the “least important” of sins. In fact, the stanzas treating these are the most horrified and horrifying in the poem—”He that is drunken may his mother kill” (line 31). These stanzas are, to repeat, the high moral ground of the poem. The poem does offer critiques of anger and envy, but these critiques are anything but “traditional.”

The problem with anger, according to “The Church-porch,” is that it inhibits calculation. “Calmnesse is great advantage”; one must model oneself on “cunning fencers,” who keep their cool, and “suffer heat to tire” (stanza 53, lines 3 3– 6). Similarly, envy is reprehended not because it is a “spiritual (p.203) sin” but because it implies self-deprecation and is, moreover, socially coun-terproductive. Envying “great persons”—persons, that is, holding positions of power—is counterproductive because “thou mak’st thereby / Thy self the worse,” and so “the distance [between them and you] greater” (lines 259–60). Toward such persons, Herbert recommends the complex stance that he calls “respective [respectful] boldnesse,” since “[t]hat temper gives them theirs,” while, at the same time, it “doth take / Nothing from thine” (lines 253–56). “Be not thine own worm,” Herbert advises (line 264). Canon Hutchinson rightly glosses this advice as “do not disparage yourself and your qualities,” and he rightly connects this advice to that which Herbert gave to his younger brother in a letter: “Be proud,” Herbert advised, “not with a foolish vaunting of yourself … but by setting a just price on your qualities.”56 “It is the part of a poor spirit,” Herbert continues, “to undervalue himself.”

There is a version of Christianity that continued on the road of “proper pride”; we will see it in Milton.57 It is not the theological path that Herbert himself ultimately took.58 “The Church-porch” presents the least attractive vision of Christian life in the world among those—Catholic or Protestant, aristocratic or bourgeois (or, in Luther, occasionally peasant)—that we have seen. Its worldliness is very wary.59 (p.204)


(1) . Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (see chap. 3, n.7 above), 80.

(2) . Luther, The Babylonian Captivity, in Selections from His Writings, 345 (see intro., n. 55).

(3) . Luther, An Appeal to the Ruling Class of German Nationality as to the Amelioration of the State of Christendom, in Selections from His Writings, 10.

(4) . Luther, “Preface to Romans” and The Babylonian Captivity, in Selections from His Writings, 25 and 3 respectively.

(5) . See, for instance, Preserved Smith, The Reformation in Europe (1920; rpt. ed., New York: Collier, 1962), chap. ; A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (New York: Schocken, 1964), chaps. –2; Albert Hyma, The “Devotio Moderna” or Christian Renaissance (1380–1520), 2nd ed. (Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1965); and Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform, 1250–1550 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), chap. 5. On the confraternities, see Richard Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence (New York: Academic Press, 1980).

(6) . See The Enchiridion of Erasmus, trans. Raymond Himelick (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963), 40, 116, and passim.

(7) . Letter to Paul Volz (1548), in Christian Humanism and the Reformation, ed. and trans. John C. Olin (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 28.

(8) . See Weber, Protestant Ethic, chap., and R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926; New York: Mentor, 1954). The distinctiveness of “Puritan” economic views has been questioned by Charles H. and Katherine George, The Protestant Mind of the English Reformation, 1570–1640 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961). The Georges argue that the sermon literature of English Protestantism in general in the earlier seventeenth century incorporates “the most outgoing and positive view of work which exists in the Christian tradition” (43).

(9) . Weber, Protestant Ethic, 81 H. M. Robertson’s Aspects of the Rise of Economic Individualism: A Criticism of Max Weber and His School (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933) argued that the Jesuits were more favorable to capitalist practices and attitudes than was any Protestant group. Robertson was, in turn, immediately critiqued by J. Brodrick, S.J., The Economic Morals of the Jesuits: An Answer to Dr. H. M. Robertson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934).

(10) . Judi Loach, “Revolutionary Pedagogues? How Jesuits Used Education to Change Society,” in The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, ed. John O’Malley et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 66.

(11) . Ibid., 70.

(12) . The phrase seems to have been coined by Henri Bremond in A Literary History of Religious Thought in France, vol. 1, Devout Humanism (9), trans. K. L. Montgomery (New York: MacMillan, 1928). For a more recent treatment, see Aldo Scaglione, The Liberal Arts and the Jesuit College System (Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, 1986).

(13) . Bremond’s presentation of the movement obfuscates its essential social elitism. This elitism is noted, in somewhat metaphysical form, in Paul Benichou, Morales du grand siècle (Paris: Gallimard, 1948), chap. 3 (Man and Ethics, trans. Elizabeth Hughes [New York: Doubleday, 1974]), and very clearly in A. W. S. Baird, Studies in Pascal’s Ethics (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975), chaps. 3–4.

(14) . For “libertinage,” see Antoine Adam, Les libertins au XVIIe siècle (Paris: Buchet-Chastel, 1964).

(15) . In a fascinating article, Abel Athouguia Alves compares the social teachings of an early sixteenth-century (Catholic) Christian humanist (Vives) with those of Ignatius and Calvin. The continuities are striking. In particular, they all had programs for poor relief but they all distinguished between the deserving and the undeserving poor. As Alves rather bemusedly notes, “the resulting practices of those [all three reformers] who assumed the Christian discourse [of charity] were quite mixed” with regard to their actual treatment (or plans for treatment) of the poor. See “The Christian Social Organism and Social Welfare: The Case of Vives, Calvin, and Loyola,” Sixteenth Century Journal 20 (Spring 1989): 3.

(16) . For Herbert, see Louis L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation: A Study of English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century, rev. ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), 219–59; for Donne, John Donne: The Divine Poems, rev. ed., ed. Helen Gardner (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956), xxvi. Neither Martz nor Gardner claim direct influence, though it seems that Martz would have liked to do so. Martz’s distinctions between Jesuit and Salesian spirituality ( 1–52) have some plausibility, but Martz overlooks the deep historical continuity between the two movements. For a treatment of the two saints that perhaps overstates this continuity, see F. Charmot, S.J., Ignatius Loyola and François de Sales: Two Masters, One Spirituality, trans. Sister M. Tenelle (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1966).

(17) . For a useful chronology of Ignatius’s life, within the context of general political and religious developments in the period, see The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, trans. Louis J. Puhl (New York: Random House, 2000), xxv–xl.

(18) . For the translation, I have used and sometimes, as here, combined the Puhl translation (ibid., 8) with that in The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, trans. Anthony Mottola (New York: Doubleday Image, 1964), 40. The Puhl translation, like the Spanish editions, numbers the sections throughout the text, and I will refer to passages by section numbers. For the Spanish, I have used Exercicios spirituales de San Ignacio de Loyola, 9th ed. (Madrid: Editorial Apostolado de la Presa, 1956); the quotation is from section 5. In section, promises and vows are equated (no haga promessa ni voto alguno inconsiderado); see note 20 below.

(19) . Roland Barthes, Sade, Fourier, Loyola, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976), 57–58; for the French I use the original edition (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1971).

(20) . Ignatius’s nervousness about vows perhaps reflects the influence of Erasmus. For Erasmus on monastic vows, see the Colloquy “On Rash Vows,” in The Colloquies of Erasmus, trans. Craig R. Thompson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), 1–7; and his letter to Volz, 130–32. For a general treatment of Erasmus and Ignatius, see Ricardo Garcia-Villoslada, Loyola y Erasmo: Dos almas, dos epocas (Madrid: Taurus, 1965).

(21) . The immediacy with which divine action is invoked here has troubled many commentators, but, as Karl Rahner notes: “[It is] clear that Ignatius thought such a personal vocation to be the normal thing for those who are fitted to make the whole of the Spiritual Exercises—and not only for such rare cases [as] mystics. Furthermore, the fact that the excesses of Illuminism have shown the dangers of misinterpreting this concept is not sufficient reason for denying that Ignatius believed in genuine guidance by the Holy Spirit.” See Karl Rahner, “The Ignatian Process for Discovering the Will of God in an Existential Situation,” epitomized by Harold E. Weidman in Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage, 1556–1956 (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977), 283.

(22) . Barthes explains: “[Mantic art is] the art of divine consultation. A language of interpellation, mantic art is comprised of two codes: that of the questions addressed by man to the divinity, [and] that of the response sent by the divinity to man” (Sade, Fourier, Loyola, 6; following the French text, I have not capitalized “Divinity,” as Miller’s translation does).

(23) . On the dating and context of the “Rules for Thinking with the Church,” see the introduction by Robert W. Gleason, S.J., to the Mottola translation of the Spiritual Exercises, 6.1 welfare of the soul or of the body, or with regard to temporal interests” (algún momento cerca el provecho del ánima o del cuerpo o de bienes temporales). Those who possess great wealth can live a godly life (sec. 89). Alms are to be given in the right amount, “neither more nor less” (sec. 339). In general, with regard to oneself and one’s household, “it is better to retrench and reduce expenses as much as possible”; the Third Council of Carthage is adduced for the principle that “the furniture of a bishop should be cheap and poor” (sec. 3 ). Ignatius asserts that “the same consideration applies to all stations in life.” But he then adds the highly important qualification that, nonetheless, “attention must be given to adapting it [this consideration] to each one’s condition and rank” (mirando y proporcionando la condición y estado de las personas [sec. 3 4]). Moreover, in doing good deeds, one should not be troubled by worry about the issue of vainglory (sec. 35 1).

(24) . For an account of the great controversy over penance in the sixteenth century, see Strier, “Herbert and Tears,” 221–47 (see chap. 4, n. 101).

(25) . Barthes, Sade, Fourier, Loyola, 3 (French text, 7).

(26) . On the pivotal nature of the end of the second week of the exercises, see Barthes, Sade, Fourier, Loyola, 7 (citing Gaston Fessard, La Dialectique des Exercises spirituels de Saint Ignace de Loyola [Paris: Aubier, 1956]).

(27) . Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters, trans. Thomas M’Crie, in “Pensées” and “The Provincial Letters,” Modern Library (New York: Random House, 1941), 38; Les Provinciales, intro. Louis Cognet (Paris: Garnier, 1965), 58 (the plural in “strange ideas” is not in the original). Page references are hereafter cited parenthetically in the text, first to the translation, second to the original.

(28) . Bremond, Devout Humanism, 296.

(29) . Ibid. For attempts to rescue Le Moine from Pascal’s critique (the first more measured than the second), see Elfrieda Dubois, “Le Père Le Moyne et La devotion aisée,” and Richard Maber, “Spiritualité et mondanité chez le Père Le Moyne,” both in Les Jésuites parmi les hommes aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles (Clermont: Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de l’ Université de Clermont-Ferrard II, 1987), 53–62, 63–71.

(30) . St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, trans. John K. Ryan, Image Books (Garden City: Doubleday, 1950), 68; Oeuvres de Saint François de Sales, book 3, Introduction à la vie devote, ed. Dom B. Mackey (Annecy: Niérat, 1893), 53. Page references are hereafter cited parenthetically in the text, first to the translation, second to the original.

(31) . For a precise seventeenth-century formulation of the conception of the honnête-homme, see Chevalier de Méré, “De la vraïe honeteté,” in Oeuvres complètes (Paris: Fernand Roches, 1930), 3:69–84, esp. 70: “Si quelqu’un me demandoit en quoi consiste l’honnêteté, je dirois que ce n’est autre chose que d’exceller en tout ce qui regarde les agréments and les bienséances de la vie.” I owe this reference to my colleague, Philippe Desan.

(32) . See Loach, “Revolutionary Pedagogues,” 68.

(33) . For sprezzatura, see Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, trans. Charles S. Singleton (New York: Doubleday, 1959), 43–45. For discussion, see, inter alia, Frank Whigham, Ambition and Privilege: The Social Tropes of Elizabethan Courtesy Theory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 93–95, and Harry Berger, Jr., The Absence of Grace: Sprezzatura and Suspicion in Two Renaissance Courtesy Books (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000).

(34) . Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, 3. In the dialogue, another interlocutor jokingly provides Gospel ratification for this strategic advice, using Luke :8–10 (the parable of the wedding guest).

(35) . One of my Press readers made the wonderful and, I believe, both profound and historically significant point, that de Sales sounds here “remarkably like Erasmus’s Folly.” For the relevant passage in The Praise of Folly, see 33–3 above.

(36) . “To be agreeable” (la condescendence) seems like a weak translation here. The French term is much richer and more complex, involving the rejection or overcoming of snobbery, but without the modern connotation of distaste and contempt.

(37) . See the extended discussion of More’s Utopia in the introduction.

(38) . For Paul’s condemnation of eutrapelia, see Ephesians 5: (George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1897], 508); for Aristotle’s praise of eutrapeloi, see NE 28a 0 (Nicomachean Ethics, ed. and trans. H. A. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932], 216).

(39) . As we have seen, the issue of “accommodation” in civil life tends to produce these sorts of aporias. See the discussion of “performing the play of life” in The Praise of Folly and Utopia above in chapter4.

(40) . On the (Protestant) celebration of earned wealth, see Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, building on Weber, Protestant Ethic.

(41) . Baird, Studies in Pascal’s Ethics, 42.

(42) . See Christopher Hill, “The Industrious Sort of People,” in Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (New York: Schocken, 1967), 124–44.

(43) . Bremond, Literary History of Religious Thought, xiii.

(44) . See note 6 above.

(45) . “The First Anniversarie,” line 338, in The Complete Poetry of John Donne, ed. John T. Shawcross (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor, 1967).

(46) . Introduction to Donne, Divine Poems, xxv.

(47) . John Carey, John Donne: Life, Mind and Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 113–14. For “The Canonization” in the context of Donne’s life, see Arthur F. Marotti, John Donne, Coterie Poet (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986), 57–65.

(48) . The Sermons of John Donne, ed. George R. Potter and Evelyn M. Simpson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957), 3:270 (further references in text).

(49) . Carey, John Donne, 3–25.

(50) . All citations of “The Church-porch” and other writings of Herbert are from The Works of George Herbert (see intro., n. 51). Citations from “The Church-porch” will be followed by line numbers. There is some confusion in the scholarship about the social status of the addressee. One critic sees the poem as addressed to “simple parishioners” (Valerie Carnes, “The Unity of George Herbert’s Temple,” English Literary History 35 [1968]: 512). Stanley Fish sees the poem as addressed to universalized catechumens. His argument for the catechistical character of “The Church-porch” leads him to deny the class orientation of the poem and to obfuscate the particular nature of many of its precepts (The Living Temple: George Herbert and Catechizing [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978], 26–28).

(51) . On the prudential perspective of the entire poem, see the analysis in Strier, Resistant Structures, 98–107 (see intro., n. 5).

(52) . John Lievsay, Stefano Guazzo and the English Renaissance, 1575–1675 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1961), chap. 1. Whigham (Ambition and Privilege, chap. 3, n. 29) questions the propriety of this distinction, pointing out that both figures were members of the gentry, but the distinction, nonetheless, remains useful (the gentiluomo is not oriented toward serving a prince).

(53) . For Bacon’s Essays as a courtesy book, see Whigham, Ambition and Privilege, 28. For “Civil Knowledge” as distinct from moral, see book 2, sec. 23 of Bacon’s The Advancement of Learning (see chap. 3, n. 22 above), 79–209. For the two kinds of “counsels” in Bacon’s Essays, see Jacob Zeitlin, “The Development of Bacon’s Essays and Montaigne,” Journal of English and German Philology 27 (1928): 496–512.

(54) . Martz, The Poetry of Meditation, 29.

(55) . Joseph H. Summers, The Heirs of Donne and Jonson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 90. Summers is more accurate on the social dimension of the poem, seeing it as addressed to “a worldly young man of the contemporary ruling class” (89), and he recognizes, very uncomfortably, its strongly prudential cast (see note 5 above).

(56) . In Works of George Herbert, 80; for the letter, see 365–66. Amy M. Charles, A Life of George Herbert (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 78, 82–81, has convincingly redated this letter to 6 (when Herbert was twenty-one). Hutchinson had dated it 6 8. The date of the letter is probably an indicator of the original date of composition of the poem.

(57) . This matter in Milton is discussed in chapter 6 below.

(58) . For Herbert’s theological development away from “The Church-porch,” see Strier, Resistant Structures, 107–17.

(59) . On Herbert’s attitude toward worldly pleasures throughout his career, see the introduction above.