Amici curiae: Lawful Manhood and Other Juristic Performances in Renaissance England

  • Peter Goodrich
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)

Abstract

In the course of a discussion of the ethics of friendship, Jacques Derrida makes a curious and seemingly offhand remark: ‘One has no friendship for law.’1 His immediate point is that the classical teneritas amicitiae or fondness of friendship has no place in law. Friendship is a relation to a person, law administers things. Within the Western tradition, and specifically within the scholastic and highly legalistic doctrine of friendship that we inherit from a Latinate past, it is secrecy and subjectivity that make the bond of friendship and it is precisely that subjective bond that must be given up by all who enter the portals of law. In a paradoxical sense, it has long been the case and continues to be the case that the ideal-type of the lawyer is that of someone estranged from both friendship and personhood. The lawyer acts for persons, persons speak through or are represented by lawyers, but the fate of the advocate or orator, of Nietzsche’s epigone, the filing clerk, the jurist, is that they are friendless, that at root they are alone.

Keywords

Burning Mercury Europe Gall Peri 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    J. Derrida, Politics ofFriendship (Verso, 1997), 252.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. A New Translation of the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, 4th edition (J.Vincent, 1846), n.t., 235, 252: ‘Friendship and justice appear … to be about the same things, and between the same persons.’ Plato, Gorgias, makes a similar point. Leo Bersani, ‘Sociality and Sexuality’, Critical Inquiry 26 (2000), 641–56 offers an account of the Platonic theory of the homoerotic. Because the legal tradition is scholastic in its accounting of friendship, and for brevity, I will restrict analysis to that genre.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
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  4. 4.
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  5. 6.
    Weir, ‘Friendships in the Law’, 6/7 Tulane Civil Law Forum 61 (1991–2), 61–7 is the only explicit discussion of friendship and law that I am aware of, and it is simply a tabulation of a few famous legal friendships. Other work that deserves to be addressed in this context include Lorna Hutson, The Usurers Daughter: Male Friendship and Fictions of Women in Sixteenth-Century England (Routledge, 1994); Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (Columbia University Press, 1995); Jeffrey Masten, Textual Intercourse (Cambridge University Press, 1998); and Alan Bray, The Friend (Chicago University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    W. Fulbeck, A Booke of Christian Ethicks or Moral Philosophie: Containing the True Difference and opposition, of the two incompatible qualities, Vertue, and Voluptuousness (1586). Fulbeck was also and importantly the author of a successful work on the study of law, Direction or Preparative to the Study of the Law (1599), and of A Parallele or Conference of the Civil Law, the Canon Law and the Common Law of this Realrne of England (1602).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    R. Brathwaite, The English Gentleman, Containing Sundrie Excellent Rules or equisite observations rending to direction of Every Gentleman (1630). Brathwaite’s most explicit attack upon law and lawyers comes in the form of a play, Mercurius Britannicus. Juridicialis censura; vel, Curialis cura (no date, c. 1640).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    The reference to latinitas is to Guillaume Bude, De philologia (1536) where he praises literarum studium and the life of or life among texts. Francoise Waquet, Latin: or the Empire of a Sign (Verso, 2003) provides an excellent account of the long-term demise of Latin.Google Scholar
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    Digest 1.3.2: The Digest of Justinian (635), ed. Theodor Mommsen, trans. Alan Watson et al. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985). On vitam instituere, see Pierre Legendre, Sur la question dogmatique en Occident (Fayard, 1999), 106–9. On the ghostly jurisdiction of common law, in addition to Coke, Justice Vindicated, see the discussion of the unity of the laws in the form of the Crown in Richard Cosin, An Apologie for Sundrie Proceedings by Jurisdiction Ecclesiastical (1591), 25–6; and for a later example, see Edward Stillingfleet, Ecclesiastical Cases (1698), 319, 329.Google Scholar
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    The clearest statement to this effect is probably R. Hooker, The Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity (1576). On equity and the concept of dual jurisdictions, see L. Hutson, ‘Not the King’s Two Bodies’, in V. Kahn and L. Hutson (eds), Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe (Yale University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  16. 29.
    P. Legendre, La Passion detre un autre. Etude pour la danse (Seuil, 1978). Parts of that book are translated in P. Goodrich (ed.), Law and the Unconscious: a Legendre Reader (Macmillan, 1996).Google Scholar
  17. 33.
    The theme of the homosociality of masculine desire in the medieval period is well pursued in Jean Claude Huchet, LArnour discourtois (1987); on the Renaissance, see particularly Masten, Textual Intercourse, 12–28.Google Scholar
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    A. Fraunce, The Lawiers Logike exernplifying the praecepts of Logike by the practise of the common Lawe (1588), preface.Google Scholar
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    My favourite examples of works in that genre are Richard Head, Proteus Redivivus or the Art of Wheedling (1675); Charles Sorel, Les loix de galanterie (1644).Google Scholar
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    Esther Sowernam, Esther hath hangd Hanman: Or an answere to a lewd Pamphlet (1617), provides another significant instance of a theatrical trial in which both the form of law and the content of laws are indicted. On the historical relation of theatre to law, see Peter Goodrich, ‘Law’, in Tom Sloane (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Rhetoric (Oxford University Press, 2001), discussing Digest 3.2.1 which records the penalty of infamia (civil death) for any citizen who recites or acts upon the stage.Google Scholar
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    Hampdens Case (1637) 3 S.T. 825. For brief discussion of the context of that decision, see T.F.T. Plucknett, A Concise History of Common Law (1956), 52.Google Scholar
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    This translation of Quintilian comes from Pierre Legendre, Les Enfants du texte. Etude sur la fonction parentale des Etats (Fayard, 1992), 384. See Peter Goodrich, ‘Rhetoric and Somatics: Training the Body to do the Work of Law’, Law, Text, Culture 5:179 (2001), 241–70.Google Scholar
  24. 49.
    This theme is pursued at length in Peter Goodrich, Languages of Law: from Logics of Memory to Nomadic Masks (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1990) chs 3 and 4. This paragraph offers a brief description of the argument of that book.Google Scholar
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    Brathwaite, The English Gentleman (1641 edition), 293.Google Scholar
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    A. Capellanus, De Amore (1176), trans. P.G. Walsh (Duckworth, 1982), Book 3, line 117. Discussed in Peter Goodrich, Law in the Courts of Love (Routledge, 1996), 34–6.Google Scholar
  27. 67.
    On the relation of image to prose and so to questions of interpretation, see Peter Goodrich, ‘The Iconography of Nothing’, in C. Douzinas and L. Nead (eds), Law and the Image: the Authority of Art and the Aesthetics of Law (Chicago University Press, 1999).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Peter Goodrich

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