Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Semper Dowland, semper ludens

1st voice
Humour, say, what makest thou here

In the presence of a queen?

2nd voice Princes hold conceit most dear,

All conceit in humour seen.

1st voice Thou art a heavy, leaden mood –

2nd voice Humour is Invention’s food.

Both But never Humour yet was true,

But that which only pleaseth you.

1st voice O, I am as heavy as lead,

Say then who is Humour now?

2nd voice I am now inclined to mirth,

Humour I as well as thou.

1st voice Why then 'tis I am drowned in woe.

2nd voice No no Wit is cherished so.

Both But never Humour yet was true,

But that which only pleaseth you.

1st voice Mirth then is drown’d in Sorrow’s brim,

O, in sorrow all things sleep.

2nd voice No, no Fool, the light’st things swim

Heavy things sink to the deep.

1st voice In her presence all things smile,

2nd voice Humour frolic then awhile.

Both But never Humour yet was true,

But that which only pleaseth you.

The closing sung dialogue in John Dowland’s Second Booke of Songs (1600). I have ventured to post an mp3 of this delightful piece on my academic web space, for purposes of comment only. I will take down this posting should objection be made:

“There can be little doubt that the song was written for a masque”, says Diana Poulton, in her study, John Dowland (1972). The musicologist’s curt comment may be right. The dialogue is complete, its little drama resolved within its three stanzas, but a masque ‘entry’ could be short and complete in itself. But I would rather see it as more properly a moment of courtly entertainment, to be staged as if impromptu. The Queen is going to take her exercise in a long gallery. She comes across a man in black, absorbed in thought (I’ve supplied a detail of Jan de Heem’s ‘A Student in his Study’ 1628, which, appropriately, is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Immediately, the first voice reproaches the Melancholic, who counter-argues that Princes approve of productive artistic melancholy. After the wonderful complimentary chorus, the speakers swap humours, with a continued defence of melancholy, and the little drama ends when both resolve to be glad in the Queen’s presence.

The Queen, whose purse was just as impenetrable as a more famous part of her person, no doubt expressed some general pleasure, and passed on in maiden meditation, fancy free, leaving her nation’s greatest melancholy artist (‘Semper Dowland, semper dolans’) unrewarded. That she had just heard something that sounds like a stray part of Cosi fan Tutti miraculously wafted into the wrong century would have been neither here nor there.

The text set might have been Dowland’s own, as he clearly wrote words for his own music. Published in 1600, the ayre must have been written during the vogue for ‘Humour’ pushed by Jonson and Chapman from 1597. Jonson himself might have written the words, as he was proprietorial about 'Humour'. The Entertainment he wrote for King James and Queen Anne at Althorpe in 1603 is another carefully staged and very flattering courtly impromptu (‘The invention was, to have a Satyre lodged in a little Spinney, by which her Majestie, and the Prince were to come, who (at the report of certayne Cornets that were divided in severall places of the Parke, to signifie her approach) advanced his head above the top of the wood, wondring, and (with his pipe in his hand) began as followeth. Satyre:Here? there? and every where? / Some solemnities are neere…’) with elaborate music: “whilst to the sound of excellent soft Musique, that was there concealed in the thicket…”

Sir John Davies’s A Lottery Presented before the late Queene's Majesty at the Lord Chancelor's House, 1601 gets us even closer to the kind of pleasant surprise poets and musicians tried to contrive to please their ageing Queen:
A Mariner with a box under his arm, containing all the several things following, supposed to come from the Carrick came into the Presence, singing this Song:
Cynthia Queene of Seas and Lands,
That Fortune euery where commands,
Sent forth Fortune to the Sea,
To try her fortune every way…

I haven’t been able to find other personifications of ‘Humour’. There’s something close in a poem by Samuel Rowlands, but the LION database produces no dramatic character simply named ‘Humour’ or ‘Melancholy’. The Consort of Musick's peerless performance is still available if you buy their complete Dowland on CD, there seems to be no separate recording of their Second Booke on the market. I'd include the precise link, but it will be too long to fit this column; easily found anyway on a site like Amazon.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Oh, come on, cheer up...

"Foole that I was, who had so faire a state
Fower or five thousant by the year at least
And waste it so as I have done of late
On Whores and Bawdes, and like a filthie beast
Caught foule diseases, which consume me sore.
And all proceedes from loving everie whore
As manie as I ere have laine withall
See here their faces how they face my gowne
Of all sortes: little, middle-sized and tall
Some Lovelie faire, some black, and some are browne
Some Wives, some Maidens, some rich and others poore
Some old, some young, yet everie one a whore
With all these sometime I have been acquainted
Which were they in their lively cullors limnd
Some should you see how they themselves have painted
How others with their borrowed hair are trimmd
How like this monkey sick themselves they faine
When in their bones, indeed, lies all the paine.
But since these daies are done, all warning take
How with their wealth they do their bodies wast
And then themselves to Hospitalls betake
Or Scorned Beggars do become at last.
Vice, by my example, then learn to flie
But most of all (the basest) LETCHERIE."

1642, and apparently a collaboration between Wencelaus Hollar and Thomas Killigrew. I've added some punctuation. A failed satire, blunted by the banality of Killigrew's text, and the benignity of Hollar's engraving. The repentent philanderer shows no sores or lesions, his nose hasn't collapsed with syphilis, he still looks wealthy, and he remains crowned (politically quite odd that he should be) in his masculinity, while the ape, which ought to signify his lechery, is in a woman's lace cap and falling band. Hollar had a special sensibility (which Gerald Hammond has identified as particularly akin to Cavalier poetry) for tertiary sexual characteristics in women, their clothes and accoutrements, as in his strange and wordless catalogues of the varieties of women's dress. Instead of pornographic parts of bodies, the artist has drawn rather uniformally attractive faces, and headdresses, and on the buttoned-on facings of the man's gown, as though he could slough off these memories in a moment: they are not inscribed on him. 'Everie one a whore', he mournfully announces - that slippiest of words in 17th century discourse about women, linking any unmarried partner, however faithful and long-term, to the sex professional. That the women all seem to be partners any man would be happy to be intimately involved with perhaps makes an unintended point about the effects of those Judeo-Christian inculcations of sexual guilt.

Hollar is not well served by the internet. His large output, too vast for book publication, would be ideally served by an Art History version of something like literature's commercial databases. In an ideal world... This single sheet print was presumably created (Hollar's engraving above his lettered version of Killigrew's text) as an up-market version of the illustrated ballad, for framing or simply pasting up as a wall decoration.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Legislation on the Detestable Sins, 1650

I had seen various references by social historians to the 1650 Act of Parliament by which the Puritan House of Commons sought to make fornication a felony punishable by death, but I’d never actually read the official publication, a brief and solemn black letter pamphlet, An Act For suppressing The Detestable Sins of Incest, Adultery and Fornication. The Act legislates first to make incest (both by blood and by marriage) a capital felony, and declares any children produced by an incestuous partnership (even if that marriage of relatives had previously been declared valid) illegitimate, and unable to inherit. The Act then continues, ‘That in case any married woman shall from and after the four and twentieth day of June aforesaid (ie., 1650), be carnally known by any man (other then her husband) (except in Case of Ravishment) and of such offence or offences shall be convicted as aforesaid by confession or otherwise, every such Offence and Offences shall be and is hereby adjudged felony; and every person, as well the man as the woman offending therein, and confessing the same, or being thereof convicted by verdict upon Indictment or Presentment as aforesaid, shall suffer death as in case of felony, without benefit of Clergy’.

After this drastic and momentous decree – legislating for both sexes - some anxious (and interestingly asymmetrical) clauses obviously inserted in debate appear – adultery must be a capital felony for the man committing the offence unless he didn’t know that the woman was married, a capital felony for the woman unless her husband had been abroad or absent for three years, or was believed dead (even a Puritan Parliament seems to acknowledge that women have their needs). Having thus resoundingly discouraged adultery, the act considered fornication, with virgin, widow or unmarried woman (those convicted get three months in prison, and release only after finding someone to stand security to their good behaviour for a further year), and finally the case of the common bawd and prostitute: ‘That all and every person and persons who shall from and after the four and twentieth day of June aforesaid, be convicted as aforesaid, by Confession or otherwise, for being a common Bawd, be it man or woman, or wittingly keeping a common Brothel or Bawdy-house, shall for his or her first offence be openly whipped and set in the Pillory, and there marked with a hot Iron in the forehead with the Letter B’ – then after this, three years in prison: with death for a second offence.

The Act ended with an attempt to prevent anyone accused and in mortal danger from this law using confession to retaliate in kind: ‘Provided, That no parties confession shall be taken as Evidence within this Act against any other, but onely against such party so confessing’, and an attempt to prevent domestic murder by judicial means: ‘nor the husband shall be taken as witness against his wife, nor the wife against her husband, for any offence punishable by this Act.’ This final clause apparently removes the operation of the act from the aggrieved parties most likely to call upon its provisions. It either served to make this a piece of dead letter legislation as far as adultery was concerned, or witnesses the confidence of the legislators that third parties would be self-righteous enough to come forward with their sworn accusations.

Shortly after the act passed into law, some interested party, remembering many a bawdy theatre scene, thought to express the likely reactions within the early modern sex industry. This was in A Dialogue between Mistris Macquerella, a Suburb Bawd, Ms Scolopendra, a noted Curtezan, and Mr Pimpinello an Usher, etc, Pittifully bemoaning the tenour of the Act (now in force) against Adultery and Fornication. (It was published in early July 1650). The names are traditional: the bawd’s name is as in John Marston’s The Malcontent (“Maquerelle, An olde Pandresse”), while ‘Scolopendra’ stems from a piece of lore as retailed in Deloney’s Jack of Newbury: “like the Fish Scolopendra, that cannot be toucht without danger”, and had been used for the monster lady in James Shirley’s play The Duke’s Mistress (1638).

It was a small act of resistance, but quite sprightly. The characters are differentiated - the older woman is given a piquantly Biblical phraseology (‘we the citizens of Sodome’), while the courtesan Scolopendra is throughout insistent in her view that her body is hers, to do with as she likes: ‘Alas, poor women, who are suspended from that priviledge the very Cats enjoy, who play and sport with their Tails, and yet fear no censure for so doing.’

Mistress Scolopendra complains of not having had a customer for ten days (‘we may een hang up our Harpes’), while Macquerella the bawd grumbles throughout in her characteristic quasi-moral way: ‘Ah wicked world, that I should live to see this day; a fine Age yfaith, when procreation must doe penance in an halter … The Act, the late Act against Fornication, and other Veniall sinnes, 'tis that hath undone us all … Oh! I hate the thought of being branded with the letter B. 'tis ten times worse then the Mark of the Beast I’le maintain it.’

Stanzas from what purports to be (and probably was) a ballad by Martin Parker about the act are read out, to initial disgust ‘Out upon thee (Pimpinello) this Song is made in disgrace of us, and our profession, prithee wipe thy posteriors with’t’, though they like more a stanza in which Parker (if it was him) recommends extra security against prying eyes in brothels.

Just as Shakespeare made Pompey resilient in his ignominy (‘the valiant heart’s not whipped out of his trade”), the dialogist has the three take some comfort from the thought that the effect of the act may not last long (‘This is but a paper pellet, a nine dayes wonder at the most’), and that it will in the meantime serve as a pretext to put up their prices: ‘this mutation we may well justifie, alledging the hazard we run’. Scolopendra, however, resolves to take to flight to
Venice ‘where I may use mine own, cum privilegio’.

I had half-expected some more explicit echoes of Measure for Measure, which would seem to be the text to have quoted (‘here’s a change indeed in the commonwealth!’), but the dialogist operates via a general reminiscence of whore, bawd and pimp scenes. It might have been a retired dramatist, speaking for the abolished theatre’s long-time partner. But the derision is muted, and perhaps Measure for Measure was just too loaded a text to allude to (with the Puritan Angelo’s hypocrisy, and Pompey’s devastating common sense), and so it was more a matter of voluntary suppression than a failure to bring to mind Shakespeare’s great play about the relative wisdoms of 'Justice' and 'Iniquity'.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bernard Laurence Hieatt, 1909-1930

My latest thing (Tudor portrait memorial brasses) being recondite even by my standards - though I found a nice example in the University Church, St. Mary's in Oxford this last Sunday), I post instead about a more recent piece of memorialising. This marvellous monument is very local to me here in Reading, being in the far reaches of the Cemetery Junction burial ground.

It is 'To the proud and beautiful memory of Air Pilot Bernard Laurence, the beloved eldest son of R. L. & L. Hieatt, who was suddenly called away in his hour of victory on May 3rd 1930, after creating two world records in the two hundred miles motor cycle and sidecar race at Brooklands, aged 21 years'.

His grieving parents had their aviator and motorcyclist depicted in his flying jacket, with lace-up puttees. He nonchantly holds his flying helmet, and I suppose that only piety prevented the sculptor from carving in the cigarette which you have to feel that his left hand would inevitably have had poised. He grins, this youthful Icarus, who has for the moment harnessed all the technology of speed. In early May 1930, he died at Brooklands, that steeply banked Surrey circuit beloved of the record-breakers. The extensive Brooklands-related website doesn't record any 200 mile motorbike and sidecar race records, but there is a photograph on the site which maybe gives a glimpse of how insanely hairy that type of event might have been - for the sake of aerodynamics, the sidecar rider lies prone, facing backwards!:

If this fine piece of 30's art has any signature by the sculptor, I missed it. At the corners of the plot, what were once winged helmets, with goggles draped over them, add another heroic touch. The biplane depicted on the side of the monument looks vaguely like a Hawker Hart. What we are seeing is W. H. Auden's airman, glamorous and doomed, ready to step into or out of the exactly contemporary The Orators.

As for myself, too many churches, and now cemeteries ... I suspect myself of admiring the dead too much, simply for having got through an ordeal to which I find myself peculiarly averse.

Update: John Pulford at Brooklands Museum fills me in on the details of Hieatt's death and career: "He was leading a 200miles motorcycle and side car race at Brooklands on a Rex Acme combination when he ran into a fence coming off the Byfleet Banking after complaining at his last pit-stop of very poor visibility caused by heavy rain. He took several world records and won races, achieving a coveted BMCRC ‘Gold Star’ in 1929 for lapping the track at over 100MPH"

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fine knacks for lecturers, cheap, choice, brave and new.

My latest toy is something called a USB turntable, by Ion. This spins your time-hallowed vinyl in the old way, but connects umbilically to your PC, and digitises the sound in one step - especially if (when you try to set this thing up) you just sit by the PC with the device ready to go, phone their help line, and get them to run through which processes detailed in the guide book which you neither can nor have to do, and which unmentioned changes to your sound settings you have to make. Then you are away. (The secret is to surrender to helplessness early: the kit is fine, the guide book to using it simply scandalous.)

At no time in my life have I ever possessed a crumhorn (opinions have varied over the years, perhaps), but back in the (my God!) late 70's and 80's, I was a Wigmore Hall regular, a fan of the still incomparable Emma Kirkby, and avid follower of the Consort of Musicke when the early music repertoire was first being extensively opened out and made available. My collection of LP's has followed me round since then. I was either too mean or too conservative to buy the music again on CD's; I'm not even sure that every disk reappeared in the other format. 'His golden locks time hath to silver turned', in the case of these LP's, their white slip cases time hath to yellow turned. But now their sound is released, and joins me again, in a new century.

A substantial Emma Kirkby fansite I used to know seems to have disappeared, while the official site
seems to be just a place-holding site without content, as does
for the Consort of Musicke. Mysterious.

I wonder if I can post mp3's to Blogger? - To start with Dowland's 'Shall I sue?' would seem appropriate, I'd guess from this very cagey web-presence of the artiste. I recall that once, as I was fighting the wind along a motorway in a Citroen Dyane which I then owned, straining - against the rattle of the tiny engine - to listen to some lute music on a tape player I'd put on the passenger seat, I suddenly doubted my commitment to the late 20th century. But now I've got hold of some new (-ish) technology that puts me in touch with the past. Ace.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Cracks Terror, 1681

‘Whipping Tom’, the subject of a news pamphlet and this street ballad, made his way to London in 1681. Contemporaries thought that he was either the same man as, or had been inspired by, an earlier, country-based ‘Whipping Tom’ (who gets a likely mention in John Phillips's Virgil Travesty, 1678). Dressed in black, he waited in dark city corners for solitary women, and then made his assault, a vigorous hand spanking.

During his period of activity, he seems to have frightened the women of London into staying at home (the contemporary reports evidently regard this as a good outcome), or, if they had to be out, arming themselves with ‘Penknives, sharp bodkins, Sizzars, and the like’. But the rumour was that Tom either wore a concealed suit of chain mail, or was simply a spirit, and invulnerable.

His activities, now, would of course instantly brand him as a pervert, making these attacks simply for his own sexual gratification. The late 17th century cannot see this: ‘Some says he does it in pure love, / To such whose wives are us’d to rove;/ And that since last he came about,/ Few City Dames dare not stir out:/ The which if true, will save much Coin, / Which otherwise they’d spend in vain’ (and I do like that ‘coin/vain’ rhyme!). As you see, ‘Whipping Tom’ was represented as an agent of social correction: not something that you’d wish to have happen to one of the women in your own family, perhaps, but, overall, a good thing, distributing only what was generally deserved. The attitude was not a very considered one, while the pamphlet, in the main, colludes with 'Whipping Tom', in describing his deeds with a bawdy relish – at least of language, for it seems to stop short of any acknowledgement that these were sexual encounters for ‘Tom’: ‘They durst not stir out after Candlelight … for fear of having an Alarum beaten upon their Tobies’ .. ‘and turning them up as nimble as an Eeel, makes their Butt ends cry Spanko’.

The ballad, in representing Tom as ‘the Crack’s Terror’, assigns to him a particular class of victim, and therefore misrepresents the indiscriminate attacks he made. Like everything else in the ballad, the term ‘crack’ comes from the news pamphlet: ‘Another time as we are informed, he meeting with a demure Crack or Miss of the Town (who came to accost him) he so swinged her tail, that tis thought, she will not be capable of her Trade for some considerable time.’ A ‘Crack’, a 17th century idiom I’d missed (though it will surely be in Gordon Williams’s Dictionary of Sexual Slang and Imagery in Shakespeare and Stuart Literature) was a prostitute. But you can tell that the anecdote is spurious, written for the sake of a poor joke: compare these convincing specifics: ‘Another time the Woman that cries hot Gray Pease about the Streets, coming up Ram Alley in Fleet Street … a cold hand was lay’d upon her, and up flew her heels, and down fell the Pease Tub, when (as she has farther related) her sences were so charmed, that she lost all power of Resistance, and left him to Tyranize over her Posteriors at pleasure, the which when he had done, he left her to scrape up her ware as well as she could, for the use of such longing Ladies as are affected with such Diet.’

Shakespeare knew about these proclivities – there’s Cleopatra, the dominatrix of the imagination:

The oars were silver,

Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made

The water which they beat to follow faster,

As amorous of their strokes…

The stupefied grey pea seller ambushed in Ram Alley, unable to resist, her senses charmed, letting Tom take his strange pleasure, seems a world away from Cleopatra, but trembles on the edge of Cleopatra’s assertion that ‘The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch, / Which hurts, and is desir’d’. Her trade, in what I take to be salt-preserved peas, ministers to one of the other unaccountable longings of women.

Men dressed as woman went out on vigilante patrol, but Tom was never lured into a misplaced attack leading to his arrest. Aphra Behn mentions him in her play of 1682, The City Heiress ('and at last defeated, turn Whipping Tom, to revenge yourself on the whole sex'), there are a couple of other allusions, and then he slips back into the shadows, pioneer of a gaudy mass-produced pornographic fantasy.

I do not think I will look for any illustrative links for this one...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Another Literary Church

Back to the English landscape today, opting to go to a Church I'd been saving up, that at Ewelme in Oxfordshire (the odd name is Old English 'aewelm', 'place at the river source'). I was mainly thinking about Dame Alice, Chaucer's granddaughter, and Duchess of Suffolk until her death in 1475. I've made a composite picture of her two effigies on her 'transi-tomb': the in-life image of her in her ducal coronet, her pillow being puffed up for her by gilded angels, and, in the lower compartment, her as cadavre, pitilessly shrunken in flesh, only her flowing hair unchanged. In her life image, she is wearing the Order of the Garter round her left forearm, which is apparently what noblewomen and queens admitted to that noble order did - it was presumably far too raunchy a notion for them to wear the garter as just that. Queen Victoria, referred to just this tomb for precedent, wore her order of the garter-garter that way (and probably garters as well).

But the pious efforts of John, Duke of Suffolk (a crony of Richard III) on behalf of his mother seem to have created a critical mass that lifted the quality of other monuments. My other image is of a more bourgeois brass, that to Catherine Palmer, who died in childbed June 26th 1599, aged 34. They had had six sons and one daughter, who are all present in this superb portrait brass. A social historian would say, the classic 7 child reproductive career of the early modern woman, and its concomitant risk. The Latin verses speak for the husband of their always having being of one mind, but now separated. In another brass, the surviving verse reads:
Here lyeth my good amie, the wife of John Froste
Who lyvinge was thanne beloved of moste.
And as here her bodye lyeth close in cheste
So hope I her soule with Christe in much reste.
Obit 13 of June 1585.
Whether she was called 'Amy'. or 'amie' stands for 'friend', I do not know: it was probably a deliberate and rather tender pun.
I was busily transcribing another set of English verses before I spotted in the Latin inscription 'funebre carmen ab Inclyto Edmundo Waller'. Waller did this set of verses in 1658 to commemorate the precocious John Howard, son of Lord Andover; but it was interesting to find them in their designed context:

'Tis fit the English reader should be told,
In our own language, what this tomb does hold.
'Tis not a noble corpse alone does lie
Under this stone, but a whole family.
His parents' pious care, their name, their joy,
And all their hope, lies buried with this boy;
This lovely youth! for whom we all made moan,
That knew his worth, as he had been our own.

Had there been space and years enough allowed,
His courage, wit, and breeding to have showed,
We had not found, in all the numerous roll
Of his famed ancestors, a greater soul;
His early virtues to that ancient stock
Gave as much honour, as from thence he took.

Like buds appearing ere the frosts are passed,
To become man he made such fatal haste,
And to perfection laboured so to climb,
Preventing slow experience and time,
That 'tis no wonder Death our hopes beguiled;
He's seldom old that will not be a child.

Waller notoriously specialised in compliments, but this sounds plausible enough. I like the way in which the kind of adages Richard Duke of Gloucester mutters aside in Act 3 of Richard III ('So wise so young, they say, do never live long' and 'Short summers lightly have a forward spring' - York also reports his Uncle saying that 'Small herbs have grace: great weeds do grow apace') get redeployed for consolatory purposes in Waller's poem, which is secure enough in its tough-minded wisdom to make John Howard sound somewhat to blame for his premature demise.

I walked back to my car along a long lane across a field. Sun-bleached grass, the colour of dry sand, hissed like sand in the wind. Sometimes I feel my loneliness, and mortality. I tried to conjure into sight some archaeology: a hand-axe in the recently ploughed furrows, a bronze torque. Obviously, nothing appeared. I suppose this effort was my obscure way of getting back at recently captivating America, a 'what we lack in scale, we make up for in history' consolation.

Running to schedule in the land of the free.

I can't continue with matters early modern without some reaction to my first trip to America. So here's your blogger and, sliding into the distance, his son, near the top of the Tioga Pass, en route from Yosemite to Death Valley.

I had never done anything like the driving to a vanishing point on a long straight road through desert such a touring holiday in America dictates.

I approached the Grand Canyon with something like a geological version of 'Jerusalem fever'. We managed to be there on three separate days. My expectations had been that viewing would be uncomfortably vertiginous. But that wasn't the case, from its brim, the canyon seems benign, tranquil in its stupendousness. It was pleasant to be at Hopi Point at sunset, with people from all over the world, of all races, there for the same experience. Tim and I were lucky to hit on a cloudy morning for our main day there, and we descended down the Kaibab trail as far as Cedar Ridge. I was cajoling him along with the mischievous sentiment that he could repudiate going any further country walks with his mother, on the basis that he had done the ultimate walk. Even the one-fifth descent we did was a tough re-ascent: this is where the canyon feels a very dangerous place.

That evening, I was looking at fossils in the Permian Kaibab limestone at the edge near Trailview Overlook. Here there is also a non-denominational 'worship site', occupied by a few young Americans addressing themselves, under the rather pressing dictation of one of their number, to the matter of the blood of Christ. This combination of geological deep time and fundamentalist verities was piquant. I suppose that their feelings were intensified by being where they were, but it didn't seem like they were discussing anything they would not have said to one another anywhere. The much seen National Geographic 'Imax' Grand Canyon film resorts to a sub-Wordsworthian note in its commentary, which is safe enough, though rather absurdly it personifies the Canyon as a 'she'.