Friday, October 31, 2008

Francis Bacon and the pickpocket

My story today concerns a brief and ignominious appearance in history, that made by John Selman, of Shoe Lane, who on Christmas Day 1611 got on his best working clothes (and Selman had no other line of work than one that involved trying to look respectable enough to work a crowd without being suspected), and then went to the royal chapel at Whitehall.

The King, Queen, and their children were present to take communion. Selman decided that his mark would be Leonard Barry, the manservant of Lord Harrington. Unfortunately for him, he had been recognised by one Edmund Doubleday, who had himself previously had Selman hover suspiciously close to him when in the ‘Cheker Chamber’ in Westminster Hall, had then suspected what his game was, and been vigilant enough to thwart him: Doubleday was sharp enough to know him again. Under Doubleday’s vigilant scrutiny, “after long hawking, and following of the foresaid Leonard Barry’, Selman took Barry’s purse, and exited the chapel.

Clearly Selman was not a purse-snatcher, for his mark has felt nothing, and Doubleday has not seen any sudden movement, for he goes and asks Barry if his purse is still in his possession. The servant thinks so, but checks his pockets, and it has gone. Doubleday tells Barry who has his purse, and they follow and detain him. The purse was still on his person, Selman didn’t have an accomplice to do a quick switch.

Selman was committed to prison, and then brought from the Marshalsea on New Year’s Eve, and charged with high formality: that being, “within the verge, our Soveraigne Lord the king, being then in his Royal Majesty, at White-hal aforesaid, with force and Arms did make an assault upon one Leonard Barrie, and one purse of the value of one halfe penny and forty shillings ready money in the same purse.”

Selman, caught red-handed, could only plead guilty. It is interesting (and rather pathetic) to see the limited mercy this realistically-minded thief begged for: Thomas Peter asks Selman “what he can say for himself, why sentence of death should not be pronounced against him: to which he answered not anything but prostrating himself on his knees submitted himself to the king’s mercy humbly praying, that after the law was executed, his body might be delivered to his wife to have Christian buriall, and that the goods which he had, (part of which was wel gotten, some otherwise) might not bee taken from her.”

Good enough, but not good enough for the King’s solicitor, Francis Bacon (no less), who says he can have mercy on proviso: “Upon your true Repentance, and revealing of those of your faculty and fraternity, who are still as ready to enter into the presence Chamber of the king, as you were to enter into the house of God.”

It is typical of Bacon to be so inexorable and clever-clever. Nevertheless, Selman nominates “one who was then in the hall, which could (if he would) do good service to the king, by revealing many of that profession, his name as I have heard is I.H.”

Who could this have been? Had some associate of Selman’s come to see his fellow diver into pockets face the inevitable? If so, his curiosity landed him in trouble. But there may be some other explanation.

Then came the great moment in poor Selman’s truncated existence, for even though he was only a pickpocket, he got some high grade Jacobean moralising levelled at him. The anonymous pamphleteer indicates that this is not Francis Bacon verbatim, but the gist of what was said:

“Sir Francis Bacon … proceeded to judgement, and looking on the prisoner, thus or to this effect, in some sort he spake: The first and greatest sinne that ever was committed was done in heaven. The second was done in paradise, being heaven on earth, and truly I cannot chuse but place this in the third ranke, in regard it was done in the house of God, where he by his own promise is always resident, as also for that the cause of that assembly was to celebrate the Feast of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus …

Thou shalt surely bee forgiven at Gods hands … thou shalt bee had from hence to the place from whence thou cammest, and from thence bee brought to the place of execution, which shall be between Charing Cross and the Court gate, and there be hanged by the necke till thou be dead, ad so the Lord have mercy upon thy soule.”

My image is of course the title page. It could be a standard woodcut, but I think it may be a genuine ‘wood block reportage’: Selman, with a purse, but in gentlemanly attire. Woodblock artists were adept at early modern photoshopping, and could re-work blocks with additional details to match the story. The pamphlet is very keen to report on just how this thief infiltrated this regal and divine sanctuary, and explains: “Now, gentle Readers, you must understand, that this Selman came into the kings Chappell in very good and seemely apparel, like unto a Gentleman, or Citizen: viz. a fair blacke cloake laced, and either lined through or faced with velvet. The rest of his apparel in reasionable maner being answerable thereunto. Which was the cause that he without resistance had free entrance into that holy and sanctified place.”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Music for the unaccompanied parrot

I’ve been reading David Rothenberg’s Why Birds Sing (Allen Lane, 2005), and was charmed to learn of The Bird Fancyer’s Delight (1717): “Choice Observations and Directions Concerning ye Teaching of all Sorts of Singing-birds, after ye Flagelet and Flute, if rightly made as to Size & tome, with a Method of fixing ye wett Air, in a Spung or Cotton, with Lessons properly Composed, within ye Compass & faculty of each Bird, Viz. for ye Woodlark, Blackbird, Throustill, House-sparrow, Canary-bird, Black-thorn-linnet, Garden-Bull-Finch, and Starling”.

I cannot find this agreeable sounding and doubtless diverting book on the ECCO database, but I did ask a colleague if, as an 18th century specialist, she had heard of it. Not only had she heard of it, but down in her cellar, had an LP of performances by Richard and Theodora Schulze (recorders, sopranino), accompanied by a harpsichordist. Academics! – when you think you are being absurdly recondite, but there they are, way ahead of you, head full of knowledge, cellarage a latter day wonder cabinet.

I duly begged the loan of this venerable LP. It isn’t dated, but may be from the 60’s: Stereovox of New York:

for anyone unfamiliar with the technology. Apparently the 1717 collection of tunes for pet birds became important to the recorder player’s repertoire. Richard Schulze has added a second part and the harpsichord, but the original idea was that you played the music on your bird flageolet (they use a sopranino on the recording) until your bird had the tune off perfectly. You then might enter your bird in singing contests, etc.

As a parrot owner, I was especially pleased to find two tunes ‘for the parrot’. Now Barney, my African Grey (see him marking Renaissance Literature exam scripts for me here ) had a poor early upbringing. He can whistle ‘Half a pound of tuppenny rice’, but he then skips the boring bit, and seques straight into ‘Pop goes the weasel’.

Here, however, is a bird doing a very creditable Queen of the Night:

and here’s a rather less highbrow compilation of Leonard the parrot amid cries of ‘Exterminate!’ intermittently doing the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme and singing ‘Red Red What’ instead of UB40’s hit song, ‘Red Red Wine’:

Anyway, my MP3 is of the two tunes for parrot in The Bird Fancyer’s Delight, 1717. The first I recognize as ‘The Happy Clown’, which is such an appropriate choice. Like most birds, Barney has a syrinx rather than a larynx, and can make two sounds at once, but it will take a long time to get him up to this (and I think he’s out of his best learning age-range, which is closed in birds). I didn’t try to edit off all the pops and crackles, as they as so many, and they rather add to the parrotty ambience:

My image is ‘The Serinette’, the little hand-cranked barrel-organ people used to train their birds, with depicted in use by Jean-Siméon Chardin in 1751. I will have to get one of those, maybe.

To round off, here’s William Cowper’s ‘On the death of Mrs Throckmorton’s bullfinch’. A sad tale of the death of one of those trained birds – with a very apt moment of mock heroic in the final stanza:

‘On the death of Mrs Throckmorton’s bullfinch’

Ye Nymphs, if e’er your eyes were red
With tears o’er hapless favourites shed,
O, share Maria’s grief!
Her favourite, even in his cage,
(What will not hunger's cruel rage?)
Assassin'd by a thief.

Where Rhenus strays his vines among,
The egg was laid from which he sprung,
And though by nature mute,
Or only with a whistle bless’d,
Well-taught he all the sounds express’d
Of flageolet or flute.

The honours of his ebon poll
Were brighter than the sleekest mole,
His bosom of the hue
With which Aurora decks the skies,
When piping winds shall soon arise
To sweep away the dew.

Above, below, in all the house,
Dire foe alike of bird and mouse,
No cat had leave to dwell;
And Bully's cage supported stood

On props of smoothest-shaven wood,
Large built and latticed well.

Well latticed, - but the grate, alas!
Not rough with wire of steel or brass,
For Bully’s plumage sake,
But smooth with wands from Ouse’s side,
With which, when neatly peel’d and dried,
The swains their baskets make.

Night veil’d the pole: all seem’d secure:
When, led by instinct sharp and sure,
Subsistence to provide,
A beast forth sallied on the scout,
Long back’d, long tail’d, with whisker’d snout,
And badger-colour’d hide.

He, entering at the study door,
Its ample area 'gan explore;
And something in the wind
Conjectured, sniffing round and round,
Better than all the books he found,
Food chiefly for the mind.

Just then, by adverse fate impress'’d,
A dream disturb’d poor Bully's rest;
In sleep he seem’d to view
A rat fast clinging to the cage,
And, screaming at the sad presage,
Awoke and found it true.

For, aided both by ear and scent,
Right to his mark the monster went, -
Ah, Muse! forbear to speak
Minute the horrors that ensued;
His teeth were strong, the cage was wood, -
He left poor Bully’s beak.

O, had he made that too his prey!
That beak, whence issued many a lay
Of such mellifluous tone,
Might have repaid him well, I wote,
For silencing so sweet a throat,
Fast stuck within his own.

Maria weeps, - the Muses mourn; -
So, when by Bacchanalians torn,
On Thracian Hebrus’ side
The tree-enchanter Orpheus fell,
His head alone remain’d to tell
The cruel death he died.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Strange sights appearing sensibly unto men, 1605

I have been reading, as Shakespeare probably did in 1605, the anonymous translation of the first book of Pierre de Loyer’s A treatise of specters or straunge sights, visions and apparitions appearing sensibly vnto men. Well, Shakespeare got ideas for Macbeth out of it, while I get an obscure blog posting.

De Loyer’s main argument is about the power of the devil to delude: witches do not fly to sabbaths, nor do they transmute into animal form, the devil merely sends them into an ecstasy in which they believe these things have happened. Book one is a long lead-in to de Loyer’s main argument, and he scours all his considerable learning to come up with all kinds of examples of delusions and successful frauds upon the credulous (though he will insist that the devil is genuinely present and operating the most serious delusional states suffered by confessed witches).

But in this lighter part of his book, de Loyer is almost a sceptic, so many stories does he tell of merely human illusions which look like apparitions. I liked his story of how boys in France would fix candles to the backs of tortoises or crayfish, and set them staggering round graveyards to alarm the locals:

“It is a common trick of unhappy boyes to make especiall choice of Churchyardes, there to terrifie others … in those places they will sometimes set Crevises alive or Tortoyses, and putte a burning candle on their backes: and after will let them go, to the intent those that shall see them slowly marching or creeping neere about the sepulchers, may suppose them to be the soules of dead men” [sig. x1v].

A couple of pages later (sig. x3), Loyer gets onto other ‘haunted’ places:

“Next after Sepulchers and Churchyardes, the Gibets or common places of executions, are greatly feared of the vulgar sort, who do thinke, that spirits do haunt and frequent there also. And for that cause, such fooles doe never cease haunting such places, of purpose to feare and terrifie such as passe neere unto the same.

I remember me of a good jest which was once told me ….”

Loyer’s story following this promising start is of a ‘notorious thief and murderer’ who was hanged and gibbeted near Le Mans. Then, some days afterwards:

“a certaine man travelling that way … laid him down to rest under a tree not far from the Gibbet. But he was scarse well settled to his ease, when sodainly behold there commeth by, another traveler … and as he was right over against the gallowes where the dead body hanged, (whom the partie knew well when he was alive,) he called him by his name, and demanded of him, with an high and loud voice, (as jesting at him) if he would go with him to Mauns. The man that lay under the tree to rest him selfe, being to go to Mauns likewise, was very glad that he had found companie, and said unto the other; Stay for me a little, and I will goe with you. The other to whom he spake, thinking it was the dead theefe that spoke unto him, hasted him away as fast as he could possible. The man under the tree arising up, ran after him as fast, with a desire to overtake him, and still he cried, Stay for mee, stay for mee”.

A seventeenth century reader before me thought that this was a good one. My image is a composite of the two page images from the EEBO microfilm images. The early reader made a synoptic note of this. It has been cropped by some careless piece of re-binding, and I can only get the general drift by reconstructing (if I use lucuna marks, blogger goes crazy, taking them for html tags):

m?an by night under a gibbet, a traveler friend? of the man hang?ed and he jested(?) wheth?er he would go? with him …

But this reader obviously meant to fix so capital a story into his mind, so as to regale his friends with it later on. It would have made a good scene in a comedy (at least, to the robust taste of the time, when a dead body on a gibbet was just one of those things you saw). I wonder how Shakespeare failed to pick up on it. Macbeth really does lack for laughs, doesn’t it?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The witch-finder's accomplice

This blog entry I am writing for students on my ‘Witchcraft and Drama’ course, but also as part of my long term project to make some comment on each 17th century witchcraft pamphlet. Sterne was Matthew Hopkins’ fellow witch-finder, and has much to say about witches’ marks, and their familiar spirits.

The first thing you notice about John Sterne’s A confirmation and discovery of witchcraft …with the confessions of many of those executed since May 1645 (1648) is that, relative to the dozens of analogous texts ‘discovering’ witchcraft, this is a well produced book. The printer, William Wilson also did elite culture poetry, gardening books, royal epistles and books of divinity. His press produced Sterne’s work in an even roman type, with beautifully justified text - strictly in the typographical sense of the word.

Sterne’s document itself is a lot less sophisticated: we have that familiar tone of witchcraft texts, in which the convinced writer seems embattled by doubters, despite evidence which is to him overwhelming and unanswerable. It is clear that the author had not taken notes during his various interrogations, and he will say when he can’t quite remember if an incriminating detail came up precisely in the case he’s currently recapitulating. Everything has to come from his memory, and there were so many witches… But, to his bemusement, he finds that he has to say something to justify the actions he participated in: “what hath beene done, hath beene for the good of the common wealth, and we free from those aspersions cast upon us, and that I never favored any, or unjustly prosecuted others.”

Sterne does not write as a theorist of sorcery. After being involved in the hanging of ‘about two hundred’, he has finally “as my leasure hath permitted me … given my selfe to the reading of some approved relations touching the arraignement and condemnation of Witches” - hardly presenting himself, then, as a conscientious ideologist: do the executions first, read up on the demonology afterwards. Contemptuously characterizing Satan’s victims as “silly ignorant persons many of them”, he scarcely opens up much intellectual distance from them. Rather, he presents himself as having been a straightforward man involved in a partial local cleansing of a gigantic national stain. For Sterne, doubting or debating the very existence of witches is in the face of all the evidence. First, there’s all the witchcraft references he recollects from the Bible. Then, in his own immediate experience, the counties where he operated with Hopkins were simply seething with witches. The guilt of those witches was manifest by signs which he finds unambiguous – the ‘marks’ of the witches, and the spirit familiars which sucked at them. These reasons for confidence meant that he could go on with the methods necessary to produce the all-justifying confessions.

By his own account, Sterne has seen scores of witches’ marks, with multiple examples on most individuals accused. He confidently describes the typical witches’ mark in detail, and refutes other explanations of such pathologies that he has heard given: “some will say, These are Emrod-marks, and piles.” This is what he has to say about witches’ marks: “They are to be known by these tokens, as by the insensiblenesse of them, sometimes like a little teat or big, that is when it remains as the Imp or Familiar sucks thereof: if outward, then nothing to be discerned but as a little bit of skin, which may be extended and drawn out, and wrung, much like the finger of a glove, and is very limber, and hath no substance in it, except it be when their Imps have newly sucked them, and then it may be there may be a little watrish blood perceived, but may be known from natural marks several ways; for it hath no scar, but at the very top a little hole, where the blood cometh out.”

Sterne’s brutal forensic confidence about witches’ marks is bad enough. But inevitably the supernumerary teats could not be discovered on everybody brought before the two witch-finders. Sterne demonstrates the strategy evolved for coping with any failure in the accused person’s body to provide the sign that he and Hopkins sought: he tells his reader that, given a chance, witches will remove them. They will slip into their houses, protesting they must change before being searched for a third or fourth time, and put on some kind of magically concealing shift. They will hear that the Hopkins-Sterne team of ‘searchers’ is coming to town, and cut them off. Or they will pull them off with their finger nails: “Sometimes the flesh is sunk in a hollow, that is, when they pull them off, and pull them out with their nails, or otherwise cause them to be pulled off; as one of Over in Cambridgeshire confessed, it being so found and laid to her charge, that she heard of our coming to town, and plucked her marks off the night before.” “One Clarke of Keyston in Huntington-shire, a young man, who was so found, and set at liberty, expecting to have been searched another time, when he should not know of it; but he soon after confessed he had cut off his marks, saying they were fools that were found with the marks.”

It is the same story with the familiars, which Sterne classifies into the visible and the invisible. Experience and intuition helps him to know when a witch, even when under surveillance, is even then feeding an invisible familiar. Witches will also have the devil stand in as their body double, while they exit from a room, through holes however small, to feed their spirits (these people have kept it up for ten, fifteen, twenty years; in the related pamphlet A true relation of the araignment of eighteene vvitches. that were tried, convicted, and condemned, at a sessions holden at St. Edmunds-bury in Suffolk, the anonymous author (Sterne again?) has the witches “mightily perplexed and much tortured for want of his, her, or their sucking Impes”). When the familiars are reported in the confessions to have manifested as such a weird variety of lower animals (“One like a Dow, called Tib; One like a Miller called Tom; One like a Spider, or a Spinner called Ioane; and the other like a Waspe called Nann”), any living creature that’s seen in proximity to the witch is claimed to be the familiar in its visible form – a fly circling in the room becomes an object of horror and awe.

To get the initial confessions, Hopkins and Sterne used sleep deprivation (the suspect placed on a high stool at the centre of a room, sitting with her feet unable to reach the ground, and further kept awake by periodic ‘walking’. People even then objected, and Sterne has to justify the processes he had used (I break up a long paragraph):

“I desire to Answer one objection before I proceed further (that is) some say, and many will and doe say; But you watched them, and kept them from meat, drinke, or rest, and so made them say what you would. A very unnaturall part so to use Christians.

I answer so it were. But I never knew any deprived of meat, drinke or rest, but had what was fitting till they were carried before some Justice of Peace to be examined, and had provision to rest upon, as bolsters, pillowes, or Cushions, and such like, if they were kept where no beds were; yet I doe not deny but at first, some were kept two, three, or foure dayes, perchance somewhat baser, but then it hath been, either when no Justice of Peace was neere, or when the witnesses against them could not goe sooner, but then they have had beds.”

Here, he seems to allege that, after a confession induced by deliberately exhausting the accused, a softer regime was used. He goes on with an even more implausible assertion:

“and for other provision, I never knew any kept, of what ranke or quality soever, but that they had better provision, either meate or drinke, then at their own houses.”

After this incredible assertion, his main point: “For the watching, it is not to use violence, or extremity to force them to confesse, but onely the keeping is, first, to see whether any of their spirits, or familiars come to or neere them; for I have found, that if the time be come, the spirit or Impe so called should come, it will be either visible or invisible, if visible, then it may bee discerned by those in the Roome, if invisible, then by the party.”

Hopkins and Sterne were a peripatetic insanity vortex, strengthened by publicity, and by the customary sermons in these Puritan counties, dwelling always on the power of the devil. To them were drawn the crazed, the suicidal, and the formerly religious who had fallen into despair. In return for assent to their leading questions, lonely widows told the story of the devils that had come to their bed after the death of their husbands (able to have sex, but not to produce ‘nature’ – semen, these women tend to confirm to their interrogators). Those who had despaired of escaping the fires of hell so often drummed into them by their church sprang their pathetic (and fatal) counter-theologies of the devils who came and offered them, if not escape from hell itself, at least a remittance from hell fire and pains, in return for their souls.

I will conclude with Sterne’s account of Elizabeth Clarke of Manningtree, one of his most remarkable suspects. She was, for instance, virtually alone in being able to show Sterne and Hopkins ‘perfect money’ which she had been given by the devil (Sterne notes that in general these witches never acquired any wealth in return for their souls). After three days and nights of enforced wakefulness Bess Clarke was suddenly willing to display her ‘imps’ (I have modernized the spelling here):

“ ‘if you will stay, I will show you my Imps, for they bee ready to come’. Then said Mr. Hopkins Besse, will they doe us no harm?’ ‘no’ said she, ‘what? did you think I am afraid of my children? you shall sit down’, so wee did, where she appointed us … and so presently fell a smacking with her lips and called ‘Lought’ two or three times, which presently appeared to us eight (For there were six which were appointed to bee with her that night before we went) in the likeness of a Cat, as she had formerly told us; for she told us before what shapes they should come in, and so that presently vanished; then she called again as before, ‘Jermarah’, then appeared another, like a red or sandy spotted dog, with legs not so long as a finger (to our perceivance) but his back as broad as two dogs, or broader, of that bigness, and vanished, and so after that called more, as before, by their several names, which came in several shapes, One like a Greyhound, with legs as long as a Stag; Another like a Ferret; And one like a Rabbit, and so in several shapes they appeared to us, till there were some seven or eight seen; Some by some of us, and others by other some of us; then I asked her if they were not all come, for there were more come then she spoke of, she answered that they came double in several shapes, but said, one was still to come, which was to tear me in pieces, then I asked her why, she said, because I would have swum her, and told me that now she would bee even with me, and so told in what manner it should come, black, and like a Toad, and so afterward did come, as the rest averred that saw it”

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

'The worthles Volume' of Alexander Craig

There’s a special pleasure to be had from a truly bad poet, and I have therefore been enjoying looking at the verse of Alexander Craig (1567?-1627), the Scottish Petrarchist who came south with King James in 1603, hung around at court, and published The amorose songes, sonets, and elegies: of M. Alexander Craige, Scoto-Britane in London in 1606. He then left for Banff, with a curt poem of regret for the time he had wasted (not that he makes court life sound all that bad):

His regrate for the lose of time at Court.

O how Time slips, and slelie slids away,
God is forgot, and woe is me therefore:
I waste the night, and weare away the day,
I sleepe, dres, feed, talke, sport, and doe no more:
Far better were with care to have redemed,
Nor sell for noght the thing I most estemed.

Craig’s big idea was to have multiple poetic mistresses of different natures - “I have in these amorous Sonets and Songes matchles Idea, virtuous Cynthia, grave Lithocardia, sweete Kala, lovely Erantina, lascivious Lais, modest Pandora, liberall Penelopae, painted my Love…” as a way of generating lots of verse, for he seems to have been primarily interested in quantity, and neglectful of quality. He signs off his dedication to Queen Anne with a fine flourish of self-deprecation:

“I am bold (divine Ladie) to borrow thy blessed name, to beautifie my blotted Booke … My Sonnets & Songes are (gracious Princesse) for the most part, full of complaints, sorrow, and lamentations … wishing your Highnes as many happie yeares, as there be wordes in my Verses, and Verses in my worthles Volume: I am Your Maiesties most obsequious Orator, Alexander Craige, Scoto-Britan.”

In this sonnet, my favourite among his works, he has the startling idea of comparing himself to a leper (hoarseness seems to be one of the many symptoms of Hansen’s Disease), and his sonnets to the leper’s begging bowl or ‘clack-dish’, noisily soliciting mercy on his behalf when he can no longer speak himself.

To Idea

The Leper man, whose voice cannot be heard,
With doleful hoarse unpleasant tune will cry,
And crave ‘for love of Jesus Christ’ reward,
And alms of such as chance for to pass by:
But when (alas poor soul) he doth espy
That no man hears, not yet regards his voice,
No longer then takes he delight to lye,
But claps his dish, and keeps his language close.
Right so as curst, and careful is my Cross,
Suppose the Fates have not deform’d my shape,
No words I use for to lament my loss,
But make my Lines to be the Leper’s Clap.
Go Sonnet then and beg, I thee beseech,
Some grace to him, whom fear deters from speech.

If you can ignore its inappropriateness of this to romance, the idea has a kind of appropriateness: a leper would beg for mercy and alms, and use a clack dish if his voice failed. Also, Craig’s sonnets are monotonous and grating. He seems to have meant it seriously: as he tells Idea in another sonnet:

“Thou art that Dame whom I shall ay adore
In spight of Fortune and the frowning Fats,
Whose shining beautie makes my Songs to sore
In Hyperbolik loftie heigh conceits…”

His lines as the 'leper's clap' must have been just one of these hyperbolic conceits. Leprosy seems to have been one of Craig’s pet-subjects. Among his multiple references to Sidney’s Arcadia, the episode where the tyrant Demagoras infects Parthenia with leprosy for refusing his love gets a sonnet all to itself, and Craig kicked off his dedication of the whole book to Queen Anne with something he has picked up about Timur-e-Lang having a programme of euthanasia for lepers:

“Great Tamburlan cloaked his fantasticall crueltie hee exercised on Lazars and Leprous men, with a foolishe kind of humanity, putting all he could find or heare of, to death, (as he said) to rid them from so painefull & miserable a life: Though my Poyems (incomparably bountifull, incomparablie beautifull, and so peerelesse Princesse) be painefull to me, and unpleasant to the delicat Lector; shall I with Tamburlan destroy them?”

In this rather jolly admission, all Craig’s poems are lepers, unpleasant to ‘delicat Lectors’. There’s some truth in it, and if only more poets were prepared to say as much.

Part of Craig’s trouble was his pedantry, his trick of allusions that are so obscure they have to be explained at a length that takes over the poem (“That Ichthiophagic Aethiopian slave, / Who boyls his angled Fish by Phaebus beams / Upon a Rock”) - that kind of thing in a love sonnet. One of Craig’s more moving poems is one ‘TO HIS DEAR FRIEND Mr. AL. DICKSON Mr. of the Art of Memorie who dyed at Winchester in England. EPITAPH.’ Craig suffered as a poet from too much recourse to the ‘art of memory’ at the expense of feeling.

My image is a leper, extracted from Cosimo Rosselli's 'Sermon on the Mount'.