“Equall freedome, equall fare”
The Illusion of Egalitarianism in the Country House Poem

Jim Casey

Abstract: This essay challenges the common critical reading of the country house poem as an accurate historical representation of the “harmonious” social utopia supposedly found within the country house; it refutes the assertion that the genre works to promote a kind of early modern proto-egalitarianism and demonstrates that the country house poems actually serve to reify rather than subvert the underlying social hierarchies of the period.  Beginning with G.R. Hibbard’s foundational ideas regarding the country house poem, this essay deconstructs the illusion of The Idealized Place, the false dichotomy of Use versus Show, the myth of The Utopia of the Open House, the metaphysical paradigm of Everything in Its Place, and concludes with a discussion of Enclosure, Leveling, and Pruning.

In his seminal article on the early modern country house poem, G.R. Hibbard traces the formation of the species to a classical model but contends that Ben Jonson, as the main adaptor of the Latin prototype, actually establishes the generic conventions of the form. The Latin poets are, in essence, half-forgotten ancestors of the country house poem, while Jonson is their patriarch: “The marks of his influence are to be seen in the constant references to architecture which occur in most of these poems (something that is not found in the Latin models), in the deep concern with the social function of the great house in the life of the community, and in the reciprocal role of man and nature in the creation of a good life.”1 According to Hibbard, the English country house poem concerns itself not only with the construction of the country house, but with the construction of community; not only with the symbiotic relationship of the host and his guests, but with the symbiotic relationship of man and nature; not only with the architectural differences between use and show, but with the societal differences between pretense and hospitality.

Most critics, following Hibbard, describe the country house poem as an intricately crafted form that depicts utopian worlds of “harmonious totality” and proto-egalitarianism.2 But the unities of the country house poem are manufactured unities—facades concealing the actual, hierarchical disunities of early modern English society. Hugh Jenkins refers to country house communities as “feigned commonwealths,” fashioned primarily from the poet’s imagination; he sees Jonson as a kind of alchemist who transforms base material reality into a golden age: “By merging the ‘real’ and the ideal, the negative and the positive, outside and inside, nature and culture—‘all vertues, and their Contraries’—Jonson created a model form that has transcended not merely time but, to a certain extent, class formation and their ideologies as well.”3 But Jenkins’s portrayal, like the country house poem itself, obfuscates the social and material realities of the period. While the poems may seem to advocate an egalitarian, open social system where all men eat the same meat and sit at the lord’s table, in actuality, they reinscribe the dominant hierarchies of late Elizabethan/early Jacobean England through the illusion of social harmony and the endorsement of physical, formal, and topographical restriction. Explorations of social and political history have been among the most common critical approaches to the early modern period for more than thirty years, and Heather Dubrow has reexamined specific formalist aspects of the country house poem, but no critic has systematically reevaluated Hibbardian assumptions regarding the country house poem with a particular emphasis on class structures.4 This essay will interrogate the foundational Hibbardian readings of the country house poem, with special attention given to the depiction of the country house as an idealized place of unadorned utility; it will challenge the understanding of the country house as an open, harmonious utopia and question the critical acceptance of the form’s ostensibly egalitarian social organization; finally, it will argue that the form’s “natural” hierarchies and poetic structures actually serve to authorize (rather than subvert) the underlying social hierarchies of the period.

The Idealized Place

Jonson’s “To Penshurst” begins with nearly forty lines describing the striking beauty and shocking fecundity of the lands surrounding Penshurst. Taken out of context, the superabundant landscape might be confused with a prelapsarian paradise. But while the panoramic description certainly finds its inspiration in the prospect of Penshurst, no reader should equate the topographical panegyric for an accurate representation of the estate grounds. As Alan R.H. Baker observes,

“Actual” landscapes are constructions, “ideal” landscapes are conceptualizations. At the same time, “actual” landscapes are moulded by ideologies and ideologies are themselves fashioned by “actual” landscapes: the relationship is reciprocal, the product is a dialectical landscape which is a resolution of nature and culture, of practice and philosophy, of reason and imagination, of “real” and “symbolic.”5
Just as ideal landscapes are created in the mind, actual landscapes are experienced in the mind of the beholder, influencing and influenced by that individual’s own ideologies. In the country house poems, the “actual” landscapes of the English residences interact with the “ideal” demesnes of the poets’ minds to produce the literary estates found in the poems. Thus the landscape art of the country house poem captures more than merely the pictorial effects of the scene; it depicts the interaction of physical and psychical worlds. As William Howarth suggests, “[p]laces write upon the mind, and poets learn to read them.”6 For Hibbardian critics, Penshurst Place wrote upon the mind of Jonson, inspiring him to create “To Penshurst” and initiating the construction of the larger genre. But the ideal landscape of the poet does not “transcend” the historical reality of “class formation and their ideologies,” as Jenkins would have it. Instead, the ideal landscape intersects with the actual one, creating a dialectical landscape in the poem that presents a situation “[w]here the same beer and bread, and selfsame wine, / That is his lordship’s shall be also [Jonson’s],” while simultaneously acknowledging the historical reality inherent in the title given to his lordship.7

Critics who privilege the ideal landscape over the actual historical reality might compare Penshurst, as Jonson does, to other homes “built to envious show,” emphasizing the difference between a home constructed out of vanity for the enjoyment of the few and a country house emerging within a community for the benefit of all. Of course, if one considers the actual, physical structure of Penshurst, then the class structures which surround it become harder to ignore. Built in Kent between 1338 and 1349 by the wool merchant John de Pulteney and fortified later in the century by John Devereux, Penshurst Place was granted by Edward VI to William Sidney in 1552. William’s son, Henry, added ranges to the north and west but demolished neither the 14th century house nor the 15th century additions. Penshurst radiated out from the great hall and was close to the local church on a working estate. Rather than being isolated from the community, the house was fully integrated into the neighborhood and itself centered around a community hall. Having developed through a kind of “organic” accretion, the house would have been seen as growing naturally and having a respectable history, even if the Sidneys were relatively new owners when Jonson experienced it. Like every other house mentioned by the country house poets, Penshurst had already received various additions and improvements and is praised by Jonson not for being small or unimproved, but rather for its ties to tradition and the community.

In contrast to the emerging prodigy houses, Penshurst might be depicted as a noble representation of unostentatious Englishness: it has no “touch or marble; nor can boast a row / Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold”; it has no famous “lantern [. . .] Or stair, or courts,” and yet it is “reverenced the while.” Unlike the ornamented prodigy houses, which are “grudged at,” the country houses are portrayed at natural outgrowths of the English countryside. As William McClung notes, “Despite additions at Rushden, Wrest and Penshurst (which acquired a splendid Elizabethan wing), the houses fall well within the older traditions of English architecture. All had grown slowly, if at all, and even so large a house as the Sidneys’ can be said to have seemed uninsistent and accommodating.”8 But while it may be true that Penshurst and other country houses were “uninsistent and accommodating” when compared to other manor homes, they would have seemed magnificent and intimidating when compared to the neighboring peasant’s hovel. Furthermore, whatever the comparison between the domestic experience of the country house and that of the prodigy house, the experiential distance between the country house and the tenant farmer’s home would have been far greater.

Hibbardian critics contrast the organically grown country houses with the myriad residences that were springing up new-built in the countryside, claiming that, unlike Penshurst, the newer homes were separate from the community and unconnected to history, tradition, or the area. For example, Malcolm Kelsall, speaking of Wollaton, notes that the house had its virtues, “[b]ut they are virtues separated from the community. For the Bugges, who abandoned the family name for Willoughby, abandoned too their old house in the village, close by the church, and climbed the hill to build anew in splendid isolation. [. . .] It is a magnificent, but unhappy, house.”9 Sir Francis’s quarrels with retainers and family members were well known; he could not peacefully maintain the community within his own household, much less interact with the surrounding country. Unlike the Sidneys, whose house was next to the local church, the Willoughbys had moved away from the local church, and in this physical separation from the surrounding community they were perhaps typical of certain landowners. Alfred von Martin suggests that such isolationism reflected certain pretensions not unlike those of the artist: “The man of genius or the man who believed himself to be a genius wanted to emphasize the distance that separated him from the ordinary man [. . .] a-socially and even anti-socially preserving his aestheticism”10 Compared to the country house lords, men such as Willoughby might seem like self-interested, self-absorbed elitists who want to maintain their unique status as men of genius through a physical dissociation from the rabble.

When one of these new lords began to construct his own country house as a display of wealth, power, and social superiority, he removed himself from the people in both social and physical proximity. By distancing himself from the quotidian aspects of his estate, he could maintain power relationships through control of access to his person. For Hibbard, the social and administrative isolation of the country lord represents a shift in the country house’s management:

The decline in “housekeeping” which took place in the early seventeenth century meant that the great hall was no longer necessary as a communal dining-room. There was a marked tendency for the great man to make much more use of intermediary officials in his dealings with tenants and servants, and in this way, to cut himself off from direct contact with the humbler day-to-day activities of his estate.11
Yet while the decline of housekeeping may have played a part in the obsolescence of the great hall, architectural trends also contributed to the hall’s demise. New houses were being built in a style that effectively nullified the communal nature of the great hall and typified the new elite’s proclivity for social segregation. Instead of receiving guests downstairs in the hall, country lords began entertaining in the long galleries away from the servants and built specifically for this purpose. The great hall became relegated to the servants and the house’s internal community became fragmented. According to McClung, Theobalds House in Hertfordshire was the first house “to isolate the staff so effectively from the ‘formal’ areas of the house.” He notes that “[t]he contrast between Penshurst and Theobalds must have been striking.”12 But while the buffering of the lord through intermediary officials would seem out of place at Jonson’s Penshurst, the effective social reality would not have been particularly different. The lord’s children are taught to pray “with the whole household” and indeed Robert Sidney stands metaphorically as a father to the entire household, even to the lowliest servant, but the big-happy-family motif of “To Penshurst” obscures the fact that Penshurst’s staff is just as far from Sidney as Theobalds’s is from their lord. Servants are servants, no matter who prays with them, and Sidney’s absolute authority over his staff, like that of a father over his children, controls and dominates the world of the country house. In the end, dining with the lord does little to improve the social or material reality of the servants at Penshurst. All guests at the country house may be “allowed to eat / Without his fear, and of [the] lord’s own meat,” but shared consumption does not equal shared class. In fact, the poem emphasizes the social division apparent at Penshurst with the observation that the waiter “knows below he shall find plenty of meat.” Not only must the waiter serve in an occupational position below Sidney, he must also find his meat below. Thus, within a discussion of social place, the juxtaposition of country and prodigal house presents a false dichotomy, implying a more advantageous situation for the servants of the country house when this may not have been the case.

Use versus Show

Concurrent with the proliferation of prodigy houses was a public dispute over the merits of use and ornamentation, especially in architecture. Within the discourse of the country house poem, use becomes associated with the country house and represents straightforward, honest utility, while ornamentation becomes connected to the prodigy houses and symbolizes impractical, duplicitous vanity. This division figures the country house as a site of real use, where real (straightforward, honest) people live and the prodigy house as a structure of mere artifice, where artificial (duplicitous, vain) people show off their wealth. Of course, this distinction ignores the fact the country houses were themselves quite costly and actually built for the use of a very small number of people. Nevertheless, the “usefulness” of country houses has been depicted by poets and critics alike as superior to the ornamentation of other homes. Henry Wotton, in The Elements of Architecture (1624), compares houses to “the Fabrique of our owne Bodies” fashioned by the “High Architect of the world,” and states “[t]hat the Place of euery part, is to be determined by the Vse” (A4r). Similarly, Francis Bacon notes in his essay, “Of Building” (1625), that “[h]ouses are built to Liue in, and not to Looke on: Therefore let Vse bee preferred before Vniformitie; Except where both may be had. Leaue the Goodly Fabrickes of Houses, for Beautie only, to the Enchanted Pallaces of the Poets: Who build them with small Cost” (L1r). Country house poems echo this preference for use over show and often contrast the “natural” order of utility to the impractical uselessness of vain ostentation. In “To My Friend, G.N.,” Thomas Carew notes that, although many “prouder piles” were constructed mainly to receive guests, the simple country houses, such as Wrest, which were built for utility, are actually better equipped to welcome visitors:

Nor think, because our pyramids, and high
Exalted turrets threaten not the sky,
That therefore Wrest of narrowness complains
Or streightened walls, for the numerous trains
Of noble guest daily receives, and those
Can with far more convenience dispose,
Than prouder piles, where the vain builder spent
More cost in outward gay embellishment
Than real use: which was the sole design
Of our contriver, who made things not fine,
But fit for service.13
Hibbard suggests that by the time Carew wrote this poem, Inigo Jones, the first of England’s great architects, had already begun to alter the form of the country house, producing ornate, highly decorated masterpieces that served aesthetic rather than utilitarian purposes. Hibbard perhaps overstates the direct impact of Jones on the country house poem, but he is correct in his assertion that Jones, as the first professional architect in England, represented a newfangled approach to estate building.14 For many, including the country house poets, houses built according to elaborate, often symmetrical or geometric designs (some in the shape of the owner’s initials) were unnatural, especially opposed to the “organic” development of the older houses. In many ways, the “foreign architect” of Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House” would have been a redundant title during Jonson’s time, since the word “architect” was new to the language and the post was expressly foreign. Elaborate houses designed by architects might have been seen as lacking in honest English utility, perhaps even suspected of suffering from foreign taint. Through such rhetoric, defenders of the country house might erase any sense of class identity through an appeal to national identity.

Yet many families did employ architects to design their homes, and Jonson himself worked with Inigo Jones. In many ways, prodigy houses represented Englishness just as powerfully as did the country houses, just a different kind of Englishness. The famous prodigy houses, such as Wollaton in Nottinghamshire, Theobolds House in Hertfordshire, Burghley in Northhamptonshire, and Holdenby House in Northhamptonshire, were modeled after a different poetic image, owing more to Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen than to the country house poem tradition. Rather than an unassuming house, they were meant to recall fairy tale Spenserian palaces:

Where they a stately pallace did behold,
Of pompous show, much more then she had told;
With many towres, and tarras mounted hye,
And all their tops bright glistering with gold,
That seemed to outshine the dimmed skye [. . .].15
For their opponents, however, such houses reflected not Spenser’s “House of Holiness” but a “House of Pride.” Olive Cook describes the “theatrical” nature of Wollaton, “which despite the monumentality of its shape is all fantasy, semi-transparent, brittle and defenceless”; the “lantern whereof tales are told” at the beginning of “To Penshurst” may refer to the one at Wollaton.16 An oversimplified reading of these new houses and their lords might imagine a conflict between the city and the country, but even Hibbard acknowledges that in “To Penshurst,”

The contrast in it is not a contrast between town and country, but between the right use of wealth and the wrong, between good human relationships and bad ones, between the house as a place to live in, the centre of an organic whole made up of man and nature, and the house as an expression of intellectual pride, an imposition on the community and a powerful threat to an established way of life.17
The city is not reviled for its physical location, but rather for its deteriorating “psychical universe.” Nor did the poets themselves eschew the court. In the same year that “To Penshurst” appeared, Jonson was appointed poet laureate and was rewarded an annual pension of 100 marks from King James; Herrick courted the patronage of men such as the Earl of Pembroke and Endymion Porter and was awarded the Vicarage of Dean Prior in Devonshire, by Charles I; and Carew was made a gentleman of Charles I’s Privy Chamber Extraordinary. These poets were courtiers; their country and city lives enjoyed a remarkable amount of interdependence and interpenetration. As with the earlier dualistic categories, the division between city and country owes as much to political and ideological positioning as it does to historical reality. Kevin Sharpe insists that

The court then did not occlude country ideology nor did country ideology exclude the court. It embraced the court. The labels “court” and “country” were juxtaposed as contrasts by critics of the court of James I and Charles I. But they were not opposed as contending sets of values. It was the shortcomings of the court, its failure to fulfil an ideal, which was contrasted to the country as an ideal.18
Lewis Pemberton and Robert Sidney took advantage of their houses’ proximity to London but they did not live in London. Instead, they participated in their own community away from the “failed” ideal of the court. Poems like “To Penshurst” may represent the ideal of the country in the aforementioned dichotomy, but it is important to note that the actual ideals represented are not those of country folk, but rather those of powerful men who keep house in the country. Jonson’s poem concentrates on the fact that Penshurst was not “built to envious show,” but built instead for use. But the use ascribed to the actual home would have been defined by the owners, not by the country community.

Nonetheless, the country house’s contribution to the community is lauded by poets and critics alike, with each group supporting the assertion that the centralized control and possession of wealth and local resources by the very few greatly benefits the multitudes of country folk who have been denied control and possession of those very resources. Like the country house poets, many country house critics defend the country house as a boon to the local economy, suggesting that “[t]he estates that Jonson, Carew, and Herrick celebrate are valuable because they afford their owners a living and render services to the community.”19 Kelsall argues that “[t]he application of capital in building and servicing a house was a major boost to the economy of any rural area; the use of that capital in productive and ecologically sound farming released that superabundant fertility which enabled the tenantry to enjoy the holiday and communal feast which Jonson records.”20 Kelsall’s effusive language implies an exclusionary dichotomy that denies the possibility of superabundancy and feasts without the country house, which may not be true, and the availability of steady employment during the construction of the house, which may be overstated, but these houses certainly benefited some members of the local population.21 Sir Thomas Wentworth of Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire mentions fifty servants in a household list compiled about 1620 and Sir Henry Willoughby of Risley in Derbyshire had forty-eight servants at the time of his death in 1653.22 In addition to these permanent positions, country houses provided casual employment for various occasions and consistent work for tenant farmers, husbandrymen, craftsmen and various other ancillary laborers.

Of course, the houses were built for the enjoyment of a very limited number of people; they were not community centers, designed especially for the good of the community. Moreover, Richard Lachman contends that the removal of English peasants from their tenancies and their forced conversion into wage laborers or relief recipients are what compelled country folk to seek day-wages in the first place: “Whereas fewer than 15 percent of English peasants had been wage laborers at any time prior to the 1570s, by 1688 over half had been reduced to that status.”23 Even critics who emphasize the positive aspects of the country house, such as Raymond Williams, admit that Jonson and Carew wrote of “lucky exceptions,” not the norm: “their Penshurst and Saxham [were] ‘reared,’ unlike others, ‘with no man’s ruine, no man’s grone’; with none, ‘that dwell about them,’ wishing them ‘downe.’ There were, we need not doubt, such houses and such men, but they were at best the gentle exercise of a power that was elsewhere, on their own evidence, mean and brutal.”24 Despite Williams’s assertion, however, no country houses (not even Penshurst or Saxham) appeared without the groans of the laborers involved in their construction, and some neighbors almost certainly wished the houses down. The power of the landowners, whether “mean and brutal” or not, would have been exercised on the surrounding country folk in various ways. The next section of this essay will discuss the “open” nature of the country house and the purported proto-egalitarianism implied in the poems (and accepted by some critics). But true equality cannot be attained when power-relations are so one-sided, or when the labor of one group maintains the comfort of another. We never hear, for example, of country lords laboring to build a farmer’s house. Nor do we hear of the poet, ostensibly the lord’s equal in the poems, hosting the lord and his family at the poet’s own abode. As we shall see, the “equality” is all one-sided, with the lord retaining the power.

The Utopia of the Open House

“To Penshurst,” “To Sir Robert Wroth,” “To Saxham,” and “A Panegerick to Sir Lewis Pemberton” all praise their country houses because they are integrated into the community and open to their neighbors. Every man, whether lord or peasant, is an honored guest in the house. In “To Penshurst” Jonson says, “all come in, the farmer and the clown,” and in “To Sir Robert Wroth” he continues, “The rout of rural folk come thronging in / (Their rudeness then is thought no sin); / Thy noblest spouse affords them welcome grace.” Carew expands upon this hospitality topos in “To Saxham,” explaining that the lord’s house is open not only to his people and the members of the community, but to strangers seeking shelter as well:

Those cheerful beams send forth their light
To all that wander in the night,
And seem to beckon from aloof
The weary pilgrim to thy roof.
Herrick continues this theme when his “A Panegerick to Sir Lewis Pemberton” observes how the household of Pemberton gives “reliefe / To the lanke-Stranger, and the sowre Swain; / Where both may feed, and come againe.”25 As McClung suggests, “The generosity of these houses is apparent in their ease of access. Carew speaks of the gates of Saxham as ‘untaught to shut,’ and Herrick says much the same of Rushden.”26 Of course, open doors offer access to physical space, but not necessarily to social space. Were the house completely open, then guests could partake of more than just the “liberal board.”

“To Penshurst” seems to offer the possibility of social access, but the supposedly open door leads no farther than the dining hall. For the solipsistic, even egoistical Jonson, however, Penshurst appeared to offer a place for the poet as well as for the masses. According to Hibbard, in the country houses,

The poet is not a menial hanger-on, but an honored friend and guest, welcomed for himself and for what he has to contribute to the life of the great house. There is nothing “patronizing” in the patronage of Sir Robert Sidney or Lord Fairfax, and nothing servile in the gratitude of Ben Jonson or Andrew Marvell; both poet and patron are parts of an organic whole, each recognizes the importance and place of the other in the life of the community.27
Of course, for the poet, this sense of belonging stood in stark juxtaposition to the social reality of the situation. Like the members of the lower classes, the poet is aware of his social inferiority, regardless of any poetic claims to equality, and all the more appreciative of the lord’s hospitality. Williams suggests that the poems reveal in the poet “a certain pathos, a conscious realisation of his situation,” and Kelsall observes that “[t]here would be no need to go on at such great length about bread and beer and wine if this guest were not conscious (acutely conscious?) of inferior status, of being an outsider who on this occasion is made to feel at home. If you were at home all the time, you would not think to remark upon it.”28 Similarly, if Jonson truly “reigned” at Penshurst, then he would not comment on the novelty of openly entering his own house, nor would he remark on the occasion of eating his own meat.

Of course, Jonson may have had reason to remark on the situation after receiving what he considered an insult at Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury’s Theobalds. According to William Drummond of Hawthornden, Jonson, seated at the end of Lord Salisbury’s table with Inigo Jones, was asked by Lord Salisbury “why he was not glad, ‘My Lord,’ said he, ‘You promised I should dine with you, but I do not,’ for he had none of his meat. He esteemed only th[a]t his meat which was of his own dish.”29 Although Jonson’s comment may have been designed simply to obtain the finer meal that the lord himself enjoyed, it also reveals the underlying division within such a house: although at the same table, Jonson was not treated to the same fare as Lord Salisbury. In contrast, everyone supposedly eats from the lord’s serving dish in the country house poems. Jonson asserts that Penshurst is a place

Where comes no guest but is allowed to eat
  Without his fear, and of thy lord’s own meate;
Where the same beer and bread and self-same wine
  That is his lordship’s shall be also mine [. . .].
Herrick makes a similar assertion when he says to Pemberton,
These, and thy choicest viands do extend
     Their taste unto the lower end
Of thy glad table: not a dish more known
     To thee, then unto any one.
In addition, Jonson notes that at Penshurst “no man tells my cups” and no waiter “doth my glutton envy.” For Herrick, no “currish Waiter” restrains the guests at Rushden but “all who at [Pemberton’s] table seated are, / Find equall freedome, equall fare.” Yet even if the fare is equal at Penshurst, the freedom, like that experienced at Theobalds, is limited. Jonson may have had the freedom to complain to Lord Salisbury about the meat, but he had no power himself to produce a better dish. Similarly, although he has the freedom to praise the food and hospitality of Penshurst, he has no power to produce that food himself.

In truth, the egalitarian utopia depicted in “To Penshurst” is a fantasy. The poet may claim that he receives the same treatment at Penshurst that King James and his son did when they stopped there while hunting, but this is simply untrue. The good place of the country house, where social place is irrelevant, in reality is found no place. “To Penshurst” paints a picture of free and open access, but, as Kelsall points out, Jonson never explores the “architectural iconography” of Penshurst: the long gallery, the private parlor, the garden.30 As an outsider, Jonson simply does not possess the intimate knowledge of the house needed to make such observations. Ann Baynes Coiro suggests that in this illusion of equality “Penshurst becomes a fantasy redress of Jonson’s own social unease, caught between his patron and the servants he mocks and who mock him.”31 Yet even if the poetic construction offers insight into the poet’s own personal and social anxieties, Jonson’s country house fantasies represent more than simply a petulant response to a supposed snub. The illusion of equality actually helps to reify the existing social structure, and the locus of the country house poem allows for the emblematic presentation of the lord’s power, exemplifying the way powerful men like Sidney or Wroth use place to keep other individuals in their place. Howarth suggests that “[b]y the Renaissance, place signified doubly: it meant any physical location (a piece or plot of land) but also social position or status, because land produced wealth.”32 In the country house poem, these rhetorics of place collide. Martin Elsky, commenting on the lines “Thy peace is made; and when man’s state is well, / ‘Tis better if he there can dwell” from Jonson’s “To Sir Robert Wroth,” notes that “[t]he connection between inner and outer space is implied by the pun on ‘state’ as both landed estate and spiritual condition.”33 But there may also be a pun on state as in “status.” Thus, the country lord’s hospitality may be very real, but as Dubrow points out, it is a “regulated hospitality.”<34 Like the orderly lines and stanzas of the poem itself, like the orderly estates of the country home, hospitable structures erect boundaries around social interaction and class distinction. As Dubrow observes, country house poems concern themselves with “orderly edifices, social and architectural.”35 In the country house, the social barriers are just as rigidly constructed as the physical ones. Like the land of the estate, that has been subdivided into “walks,” “mount,” “copse,” “lower land,” “middle grounds,” and the house itself, the social landscape is separated into the lord and his family, “the farmer and the clown,” the poet, the other guests, and the servants.

Moreover, the lord and his wife, who control these fields, have been portrayed as exerting a beneficent influence on the entire house. But the historical Sidney may have been more like a prodigal house lord than Jonson admits. “To Penshurst” concludes with a direct address to the country house itself, pointing out that although other “lords have built” their own houses, “thy lord dwells” at Penshurst. Dwellan, the Old English base for dwell, originally meant to mislead, deceive, make a fool of, lead astray, or lead into error. The word shifted through the senses of “hinder” and “delay” to “linger,” so that, by about 1250, dwell had come to mean “make a home” or “reside.” In the poem, the lord “dwells” in both the senses of making a home and misleading, although perhaps not always in residing. As Barbara Lewalski indicates, the poem’s cornucopian images “disguise the realities Robert Sidney’s more than 320 letters to his wife reveal: his frequent absences from Penshurst because of court duties, and his mounting financial difficulties”; in the letters, Sidney laments the household’s lack of funds to purchase “‘necessary clothes for this winter or to pay for man’s meate nor horsemeate,’ and he often underscores the need to retrench Penshurst’s hospitality.”36 This retrenchment might explain why, despite the house’s supposed surplus and “liberal board,” the lower-class guests, from farmer to clown, bring capons, cakes, nuts, apples, cheeses, plums, and pears to “salute” the lord and lady of Penshurst. This exhibition of subservience and the lord’s purported largesse both work to validate the hierarchical social structures and conceal the effects of those structures. Moreover, as several Marxist critics have commented, the country lord’s “hospitality” offers nothing more than the fruit of the tenants’ own labors. Williams observes that the constructed world of the country house obfuscates this reality, removing “the curse of labor” entirely:

What is really happening, in Jonson’s and Carew’s celebrations of a rural order, is an extraction of just this curse, by the power of art: a magical recreation of what can be seen as a natural bounty and then a willing charity: both serving to ratify and bless the country landowner, or, by a characteristic reification, his house. Yet this magical extraction of the curse of labour is in fact achieved by the simple extraction of the existence of labourers.37
Pastoral verse has been described as a particularly urban product, through which the harsh material realities of the rural world disappear beneath the demands of poetic invention; country house poems participate in a similarly poetic erasure of labor.38 The lands surrounding Penshurst supply the house with “seasoned deer,” “sheep,” “bullocks,” “kine and calves,” “conies,” “purpled pheasant,” “painted partridge,” “[f]at, agèd carps,” “pikes,” “[b]right eels,” and “orchard fruit,” but no mention is made of lower class individuals needed to hunt, tend, trap, fish, or pick. Instead, the food magically appears on the lord’s table, as if provided by him alone. As Annabel Patterson asserts, “Rural poverty is concealed by an emphasis on the landowner’s characteristic hospitality; peasants are presented as subhuman, incapable of thought and ontologically inseparable from farm instruments. In such a hegemony, pastoral is fully appropriated to the defense of landed property.”39 “To Penshurst” presents a country house lord “whose liberal board doth flow / With all that hospitality doth know!” But the lord’s liberality and hospitality depend upon the invisible labor of others. The poem erases this labor and ignores the power exerted by the lord to obtain his “free provisions.”

Everything in Its Place

The happy utopia of the country house relies on a social system where the lord is in his place, and the servants, farmers, peasants, and poets in theirs. But as Pamela Hammons notes, the supposed social harmony of house and community depends upon the assumption that the social structure is not only stable but universally supported: “‘Dwelling’ at a country house like Penshurst summons the conservative fantasy of a socioeconomic microcosm where proprietor, guests, servants, and tenants all know their places, perform their respective duties willingly, and evince no desire to hold any other place in the estate’s hierarchy.”40 In this fantastical utopia, each member willingly accepts his/her place in the natural order. Yet not only do the proprietor, guests, servants, and tenants know their place; the natural world surrounding the estate does as well. As Jonson claims in “To Penshurst,”

  The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side;
The painted partridge lies in every field,
  And for thy mess is willing to be killed.
And if the high-swoll’n Medway fail thy dish,
  Thou hast ponds, that pay thee tribute fish:
Fat, agèd carps, that run into thy net [. . .]
The image of the “willing” culinary sacrifice recalls various classical predecessors, such as Oppian’s Halieutica, or Fishing, in which the fish themselves seize the dropped hook and are “speedily haled forth—not all unwilling—by our king.”41 Carew, obviously modeling his poem after Jonson, goes even farther in “To Saxham”:

The pheasant, partridge, and the lark
Flew to thy house, as to the Ark.
Thy willing ox of himself came
Home to the slaughter with the lamb,
And every beast did thither bring
Himself, to be an offering.
The scaly herd more pleasure took,
Bathed in thy dish than inn the brook.
McClung associates these oblations with the classical theme of sponte sua, “the Golden Age principle of spontaneously useful behavior: from vegetable to overlord, each component of the estate willingly does that which must be done, finding, indeed, fulfillment of identity in performing the act”42 In such a world, the animals simply contribute their share to the community of the country house, with their tributes paralleling the salutes of the poor. But the images of the slaughtered lamb, animal offerings, and Ark-like procession to the dinner table also evoke the intimation of a transcendental “natural order,” wherein the denizens of the natural world exist primarily for the consumption of the lord and his guests.

Perhaps more importantly for our discussion, the descriptive passages of animal oblation work to naturalize the sacrifice of the lower orders to the higher, encouraging the lower classes to fling themselves into the metaphorical frying pans of their betters. Williams dismisses the cornucopian visions of the poems as “hyperbole” but notes the early modern sentiment behind them:

Indeed there is more than a hint, in the whole tone of this hospitable eating and drinking, of that easy, insatiable exploitation of the land and its creatures—a prolonged delight in a organised and corporative production and consumption—which is the basis of many early phases of intensive agriculture: the land is rich, and will be made to provide. [. . .] this natural order is simply and decisively on its way to table.43
This conviction that nature exists for man’s consumption derives from the biblical imperative to “[b]e fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth” (Gen. 1:28).44 By alluding to the “natural” hierarchy of the scala naturae, the Great Chain of Being, the poem spiritually authorizes the other “natural” hierarchies of the country house. As a site of supposed prelapsarian otium, the country house further recalls Edenic paradise and the common association of gardens with the Garden.

Like Adam and Eve, the country house lord and lady have dominion over their garden. But the image of the garden also calls to mind a well-tended, intentionally organized space, with clearly demarcated areas that might be seen as analogous to existing social spheres. Alistair Fowler probably overstates when he argues that country house poems are “not about houses,” but rather concentrate on “garden-art,” yet houses and gardens were certainly interconnected.45 Bacon’s discussion “Of Gardens” immediately follows his essay “Of Building,” reminding the reader that “God Almightie first Planted a Garden” and proclaiming that without excellent gardens, “Buildings and Pallaces are but Grosse Handy-works” (Mm1v). Jonson, in his geographical blasón at the beginning of “To Penshurst,” describes the grounds surrounding the house in some detail. These “better marks, of soil, of air, / Of wood, of water” give an illusion of openness and unrestricted access, but each distinct area is separated from the rest into divided regions. In this topographical division, the estate holograms the plurality of publics in the social world, where disparate fields (in both senses of the word) butt up against one another, requiring management in order to remain separate.

If, as Howarth suggests, “place functions as a cultural and textual paradigm,” then the garden and the estate represent a kind of regulated nature, a parceled place that must be continually weeded in order to maintain its immaculate appearance, as in Hamlet, where life is portrayed as “an unweeded garden / That grows to seed: things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely” (1.2.135–7).46 Without constant work and attention to order, the world degenerates. Similarly, an individual’s own spiritual well-being requires the constant attention of God as gardener. In George Herbert’s “Paradise,” the witty paring of the final word within each stanza literalizes the pruning imagery of the poem:

I Blesse thee, Lord, because I GROW
Among thy trees, which in a ROW
To thee both fruit and order OW.47
Herbert figures such pruning as essential, stating that “Such cuttings rather heal then REND” so that “Ev’n fruitfull trees more fruitfull ARE.” Perhaps more relevant to this discussion is the persona’s request for God to “Inclose me still” and the assertion that nothing can harm “While the inclosure is thine ARM.” By the following generation, a tract by Adam Moore moves this spiritual meditation on enclosure into the public sphere when he argues not only that “as Adam in Eden,” English improvers were “by that all-Creator placed in this Garden, To keep it and dresse it,” but also that “[t]he principall and onely means to ripen the fruit of new hopes is Enclosure.”48 Building on the image of the country lord as Adam to his garden, sentiments such as those of Herbert and Moore provide Biblically-based authorization for enclosure and control.

Enclosure, Leveling, and Pruning

As the father figure over his household, the country lord provides paternalistic direction and control in the same way that the gardener orders his garden. Not only does he rule over his Eden, taking tribute and sacrifices, but he is also responsible for the maintenance and pruning of the landscape. The country house poems depict an almost paradisiacal class harmony, but the various riots of the period imply that the country was not as socially peaceful as the poems suggest. Derek Hirst claims that the pattern of rioting during the early modern period “manifests general acceptance of a patriarchal authority” and that the poor “never challenged the social order, nor attacked the rich as rich.”49 But the contemporary grain and enclosure riots illustrate the palpable unrest and dissatisfaction of the poor. Enclosure was “widely blamed for causing dearth” and the anti-enclosure riots were even more widespread than the grain riots.50 Occasionally, when these masses of commoners would gather in the countryside to “level” existing structures, violent encounters with the authorities would ensue, as on June 8, 1607, when levelers in Newton, Northamptonshire refused to disperse and were attacked by Sir Anthony Mildmay’s soldiers. Fifty were killed and many were wounded.51

The violent reality of these encounters sits in stark contrast to the utopic, class-happy world of the country house poem. According to Patterson, the grain and enclosure riots instituted a challenge to the notion that the lower classes had no power: “‘common power’ and ‘common wealth’ were the lexical signs of an ideology in trouble”52 Within this habitus of conflict, wealthy landowners would not have welcomed the encroachment of proto-egalitarianism. In fact, as Roger Manning records, country “improvers,” alarmed by the various activities connected to clearing areas for grain, and concerned over the growing numbers of masterless men in “sylvan regions,” wanted “to impose gentry control on the more egalitarian societies that these economies spawned.”53 Certainly, the country lords feared losing their land and power, but they probably also recognized the potential for a deadly reversal of fortune. After the riots of the Midlands Rising, Robert Wilkinson preached and shortly after published A Sermon Preached [. . .] upon occasion of the late Rebellion and Riots (1607), which describes the “popular mutinies”: “First like Adams sonnes they come forth with shovels and spades, like simple men to reduce the earth to her ancient and native tillage, but afterward they come forth like Tubal-kaines sonnes, armed with swords and weapons of yron” intending to “throw downe enclosures” and possibly even “kill up Gentlemen” (F2r–F3v). The metaphorical power inherent in throwing down physical boundaries underscores the precarious nature of the country lord’s rule and the reasons why it would have been imperative to keep the social boundaries up. David Underdown acknowledges that the rioters were identified as “levellers” or “diggers,” not “yet with the revolutionary connotations that the terms acquired forty years later, but it was not an unthinkably long step from levelling fences to levelling social distinctions.”54 Obviously, the country lord would have wanted to maintain the physical and social boundaries surrounding him. By presenting an illusion of openness, he provides the levelers with nothing tangible to throw down.

But open welcome does not guarantee safety, and the etymological proximity of “host” and “hostile” demonstrates the imminent dangers of hospitality. In Latin, hostis means stranger, but it can also mean enemy, and the slippage from hospitality to hostility was not a far distance to travel. As the host to the hostis, the country lord needed to control his hospitality and, through his ostensible generosity, control his guests. Dubrow considers country hospitality tropes as part of a larger strategy of containment born out of the pressures of social reception: “The tensions latent in such practices emerge in anthropological studies of hospitality, which stress that strangers are potential menaces who can and must be controlled through its laws.”55 The country house poem participates in this social supervision by normalizing the hierarchical class structure and eliminating representations of discord. In Jonson’s “To Sir Robert Wroth,” Wroth lives at home in the country in “securer rest” than at court because, as Elsky demonstrates, Jonson has altered Wroth’s local reality so that “the country, unlike its representation in dispositions, reports, and correspondence, is no longer the scene of conflict, but is instead the location of integral harmony.”56 Certainly, country house poems might simply flatter the estate lord into believing in the security of his falsely peaceful country, but they also might persuade other readers of the lord’s virtue, “noble parts,” and natural right to his place (both physical and social).

The country house’s effective depiction of social tranquility has been so convincing that even careful critics have affirmed its proto-egalitarian nature. Don Wayne, for example, suggests that the poems reveal burgeoning value-systems which would eventually lead to the leveling of social stations, claiming that

within a mythicized and heroic setting of aristocratic domesticity at Penshurst, Jonson managed to give verbal form to other emergent middle-class values: the home, the conjugal family, the administrative responsibilities of persons of rank to the state as representative of the whole of society. In dramatizing such values, Jonson’s poems and plays contributed to the formation of new institutions that would, in turn, legitimate the new forms of social interaction. Viewed in this light, a poem like “To Penshurst,” despite its traditional, aristocratic theme, can be said to liberate a potential for future social praxis along bourgeois egalitarian lines.57
In actuality, however, the country house poem may be more aligned with the barrier-builders than with the levelers. Rather than legitimating new forms of social interaction, “To Penshurst” sanctions the old system, with an aristocratic lord ruling in his rightful place over the farmers and clowns. The “potential for future social praxis along bourgeois egalitarian lines” might be possible, but only if one ignores the super-structures beneath the surface of Jonson’s praise. As Dubrow recognizes, country house poems do not promote proto-egalitarianism, but instead attempt to “control the relationship between inside and outside” through both content and form.58 Wayne’s optimistic future becomes obviated by “cultural fears about invasions” which emblematize the country house as a site of inadequately bounded physical and social place: “The permeable daub and wattle walls of many early modern homes troped their permeability in other respects—their vulnerability to the interrelated threats from burglars, from fire, from stepparents, from rivals in land disputes, and from would-be adulterers.”59 Carew’s “To Saxham” represents a negotiation of these fears when it asserts that burglars have no need to come within: “And as for thieves, thy bounty’s such / They cannot steale, thou giv’st so much.” Similarly, social invaders have no reason to enter when the country environment already provides a situation of equal position.

Of course, thieves and social invaders are rarely defeated by poetic sophistries, but in a well-ordered garden or a safely enclosed estate, encroaching weeds and malefactors are more easily seen and apprehended. In “The doubt of future foes,” Queen Elizabeth takes George Herbert’s pruning imagery and applies it to a political garden that has become overgrown with “seditious sects”; she promises to employ the edge of her rusty sword “To poll their tops who seek such change or gape for future joy.” Similarly, in Richard II, the gardener laments, “O, what pity is it / That [King Richard] had not so trimmed and dressed his land / As we this garden!” (3.2.56–8) and makes the analogy of garden to commonwealth even more explicit in his directions to his assistant:

Go thou, and, like an executioner,
Cut off the heads of too fast-growing sprays
That look too lofty in our commonwealth.
All must be even in our government.
You thus employed, I will go root away
The noisome weeds which without profit suck
The soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers. (3.4.34–40)
The connection between garden and nation, or country wealth and commonwealth, naturalizes the process of class enclosure, authorizing what Alan Sinfield calls the “legitimate violence” of the state, and justifying social division as an almost biblical imperative.60 As a participant in this sociocultural habitus, the country house poem appears to disrupt established orders, but in fact, reifies them through both form and function. Dubrow suggests that the country house poem’s couplets “trope their vision of social harmony: the tenant and the lord rhyme with each other, as it were. These poems typically do not erase social distinctions but conceal their injustices by stressing harmony.”61 But the harmony of the country house, like the harmony within a poem, is a construction. And that construction, in addition to troping harmony, also tropes a vision of social division, with the form itself promoting enclosure and regulation. The work may appear to be an undifferentiated whole, but the couplets divide the poem into discrete fields, and while the rhyming harmony gives an illusion of natural order, poems (and recurring rhymes) are not natural. They are the products of work, with the word “verse” derived from the metaphor of turning, or plowing. Regularized rhyme and meter emphasize the concept of appropriate place and reinscribe the boundaries that the country house poems ostensibly erase. Jonson imagines Penshurst “as if thou then wert mine,” but the house is not, nor can he make it his, except in poetry. And while poetic egalitarianism may allow an equal standing within the house, unequivocal reality would have locked him out. Like the organized conventions of the poem, or the ordered rows or the garden, or the clearly defined borders of the estate, social and psychical structures of the early modern period reinforced notions of place, restricting access to the country house and polling the tops of those who intrude.


Jim Casey is an Assistant Professor at High Point University in North Carolina. He received his PhD from the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at the University of Alabama, where he was the first Strode Exchange Scholar to study at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. Although primarily a Shakespearean, he has published on such diverse topics as fantasy, early modern poetry, textual theory, performance theory, postmodern theory, comics, masculinity, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Battlestar Galactica.

End Notes

1 G.R. Hibbard, “The Country House Poem of the Seventeenth Century,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 19, no.1/2 (1956): 159-76, 159. In addition to borrowing the form from classical models, Jonson also adopted various phrases from classical examples, such as Martial’s Epigram 10.80 and Epigram 3.58; for an extensive discussion of Jonson’s debt to his Latin predecessors, see William A. McClung, The Country House in English Renaissance Poetry (Berkeley: U of California P, 1977). Although Aemilia Lanyer’s “The Description of Cookham” was published before “To Penshurst,” in 1611, the poem did not have the same influence on later poets and will not be discussed here.

2 Louis Marin, Utopics: The Semiological Play of Textual Spaces, trans. Robert A. Vollrath (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities P, 1984), 53. See also McClung; Hugh Jenkins, Feigned Commonwealths: The Country-House Poem and the Fashioning of the Ideal Community (Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1998); and Malcolm Kelsall, The Great Good Place: The Country House and English Literature (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993).

3 Jenkins, Feigned Commonwealths, 8, 19. Don Wayne makes a similar argument in Penshurst: The Semiotics of Place and the Poetics of History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), but focuses on the persona’s poetic self-fashioning rather than the poetic commonwealth-fashioning that Jenkins imagines.

4 See Heather Dubrow, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?: Reinterpreting Formalism and the Country House Poem,” Modern Language Quarterly 61, no.1 (2000): 59-77, and “The Politics of Aesthetics: Recuperating Formalism and the Country House Poem,” Renaissance Literature and Its Formal Engagements, ed. Mark David Rasmussen (New York: Palgrave, 2002), 67-88.

5 Alan R.H. Baker, “Introduction: On Ideology and Landscape,” Ideology and Landscape in Historical Perspective, eds. Alan R.H. Baker and Gideon Biger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 1-14, 7.

6 William Howarth, “Imagined Territories: The Writing of Wetlands,” New Literary History 30, no.3 (1999): 509-39, 511.

7 All quotations of Jonson’s work are from Ben Jonson, ed. Ian Donaldson, Oxford Authors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

8 McClung, The Country House,111.

9 Kelsall, The Great Good Place, 37.

10 Alfred von Martin, Sociology of the Rennaissance (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1944), 54.

11 Hibbard, “The Country House Poem,” 161.

12 McClung, The Country House,79.

13 All quotations of Carew’s poetry from The Poems of Thomas Carew, ed. Rhodes Dunlap (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949).

14 The buildings that established Jones’ reputation were incomplete or uncommissioned when Jonson wrote “To Penshurst” (see McClung 19-20); additionally, as Clive Aslet and Alan Powers note, Jones himself eschewed excessive ornamentation in his houses: “Out of the mannerism and incipient Baroque which he encountered in Italy, Jones had gone unerringly for an architect of unimpassioned reserve, that quality so often attributed to the English but so lacking from Elizabethan houses. We have Jones’ own words for how he liked architecture: ‘sollid, proporsionable according to the rulles, masculine and unaffected.” Clive Aslet and Alan Powers, The National Trust Book of the English House (New York: Viking Penguin, 1985), 78.

15 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen, Book Five, ed. Abraham Stoll (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006),

16 Olive Cook, The English Country House (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974), 84.

17 Hibbard, “The Country House Poem,” 163.

18 Kevin Sharpe, Criticism and Compliment: The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 15-16.

19 McClung, The Country House,104..

20 Kelsall, The Great Good Place, 35.

21 Malcolm Airs, The Making of the English Country House 1500-1640 (London: Architectural Press, 1975), 152. Malcolm Airs suggests, for example, that “at Trentham Hall one hundred and four different labourers were employed between 1633 and 1638, but only three of them worked all six years and a further four worked for five years”; stable jobs would have gone to skilled laborers and the majority of workers could have expected only weeks, perhaps months, of uninterrupted employment.

22 J.T. Cliffe, The World of the Country House in Seventeenth-Century England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 199.

23 Richard Lachman, From Manor to Market: Structural Change in England, 1536-1640 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 118-19, 121.

24 Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (London: Chatto and Windus, 1973), 29.

25 All quotations of Herrick’s poetry are from The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick, ed. F. Max Patrick (New York: Norton, 1968).

26 McClung, The Country House,125.

27 Hibbard, “The Country House Poem,” 159.

28 Williams, The Country and the City, 30; Kelsall, The Great Good Place, 39.

29 William Drummond, “Conversations with William Drummond of Hawthornden,” in Ben Jonson, ed. Ian Donaldson, Oxford Authors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 595-611, 602.

30 Kelsell, The Great Good Place, 40.

31 Ann Baynes Coiro, “Writing in Service: Sexual Politics and Class Position in the Poetry of Aemilia Lanyer and Ben Jonson,” Criticism 35, no.3 (1993): 357-77, 370.

32 Howarth, “Imagined Territories,” 511.

33 Martin Elsky, “Microhistory and Cultural Geography: Ben Jonson’s ‘To Sir Robert Wroth’ and the Absorption of Local Community in the Commonwealth,” Renaissance Quarterly 53, no.2 (2000): 500-28, 520.

34 Dubrow, “Guess,” 69.

35 Dubrow, “Politics,” 74.

36 Barbara K. Lewalski, “Literature and the Household,” in Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature, edited by David Lowenstein and Janel Mueller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 603-29, 604.

37 Williams, The Country and the City, 32.

38 Frank Kermode, “Introduction,” in English Pastoral Poetry: From the Beginnings to Marvell, ed. Frank Kermode (New York: Norton, 1972), 11-44, 14.

39 Annabel Patterson, Pastoral and Ideology: Virgil to Valéry (Berkeley: U of California P, 1987), 139.

40 Pamela Hammons, “Katherine Austin’s Country-House Innovations,” SEL 40, no.1 (2000): 123-38, 126.

41 Oppian, Oppian, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus, trans. A. W. Mair, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann, 1928), 205.

42 McClung, The Country House, 118; for more on the golden age topos, see 7-17 in McClung.

43 Williams, The Country and the City, 30.

44 For the theological justification of man’s domination over nature, see Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), especially 17-25.

45 Alistair Fowler, The Country House Poem: A Cabinet of Seventeenth-Century Estate Poems and Related Items (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), 1.

46 Howarth, “Imagined Territories,” 511. All quotations of Shakespeare from The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al, 2nd ed (New York: Norton, 2008).

47 All quotations of “Paradise” are from George Herbert, The Works of George Herbert, ed. F.E. Hutcheson [1941] (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 132-3.

48 Adam Moore, Bread for the Poore. And Advancement of The English Nation. Promised By Enclosure of the Wastes and Common Grounds of England (1653), 2 and 13.

49 Derek Hirst, Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 51; Patterson notes that “Hirst subsequently felt that his position was overstated.” Annabel Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1989), 184n.

50 Roger B. Manning, Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England, 1509-1640 (Cambridge: Clarendon Press, 1988), 23.

51 Patterson, Voice, 137.

52 Patterson, Voice, 141.

53 Manning, Village Revolt, 15.

54 David Underdown, Revel, Riot, and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 115.

55 Dubrow, “Guess,” 69; for her anthropological studies, she points to Ladislaus J. Bolchazy, Hospitality in Early Rome: Livy’s Concept of Its Humanizing Force (Chicago: Ares, 1977) and Julian Pitt-Rivers, The Fate of Shechem; or The Politics of Sex: Essays in the Anthropology of the Mediterranean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977).

56 Elsky, “Microhistory and Cultural Geography,” 519.

57 Wayne, The Semiotics of Place,154.

58 Dubrow, “Guess,” 68.

59 Dubrow, “Politics,” 75.

60 Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 95.

61 Dubrow, “Guess,” 70.