Thursday, February 28, 2008

Panoramas of paradise, and early modern dodos.

I am faintly surprised to have the privilege of giving a lecture on book IV of Milton’s Paradise Lost. (I half expect a distinguished former Hildred Carlisle Professor to stir from retirement, and intervene personally, to stop such a potentially damaging mismatch between poet and expositor.) But I have been scurrying round EEBO: Willet’s Hexapla … on Genesis, Moxon on Sacred Geography, Salkeld’s Treatise on Paradise and others.

Among the minor finds on this tour, I came across another piece of 17th century advertising, put together by I.H. Gent in 1661:

Paradise transplanted and restored in a most artfull and lively representation of the several creatures, plants, flowers, and other vegetables, in their full growth, shape, and colour: shown at Christopher Whiteheads at the two wreathed posts in Shooe-Lane, London.

‘J.H.’ claims to have been solicited by ‘some persons of quality’ that have already seen this combination of panorama and perspective box (as I think it must have been) to put pen to paper to praise ‘the incomparable Artist’ and ‘recommend this Elegant and curious piece of Art to all Noble and Ingenuous Persons’. He gives it a hard sell, but no-one could fault the ambition of the main display:

‘The Design, is a Model, or Representation of that Beautifull Prospect Adam had in Paradice, when the whole Creation of Animals, were together subjected to his imperious eye, and from his mouth received their several names.”

J.H. (who may well be the man himself) notes of the artist that:

“His researches and inquiries after Foraign, Outlandish Creatures, whose names are not so well known to these Quarters of the World … was a costly Labour; but to present them to view in their natural shapes and postures to the Life, and beyond all former Figures and Descriptions of them, as that every man may be as wise as Adam, and read their names and qualities in their Aspects, is a most meritorious obliging work …. Here …are placed from the greatest to the least, from the Elephant to the Mouse, from the Eagle to the Wren, from the Crocodile to the Glow-worm.”

You are advised, confides J.H., to make sure you see the basilisk before it sees you, lest your imagination accord the image with the beast’s power to petrify, while the centre piece of the display was equally or more involving: “you cannot without indignation of minde see the accursed Serpent putting the deadly Apple into out Grand mother Eves hand: and were it not that this malicious fraud is acted at the furthest end of the Room; and out of your reach, you would put forth your hand to prevent that destruction.”

The panorama came with its own trompe d’oeil audience:

“On the left side of the Room, are five beautifull Ladies seated, beholding these curiosities, a person of quality standing by them, attended with three Blackmore Lacquees in rich blew Liveries.”

J.H. affirms that these paintings (or just possibly wax effigies) are so realistic, other visitors bow to them ‘and have wondered at the non-return of their Civility’, while a ‘Consort of Musitians of commonly known faces’ – 17th century pop stars, look you - was also represented behind the door, ‘all so exact and to the Life, that people on a sudden glance, suppose they shall have Musick too, as in other Shows and Plays, for their money’.

As with Dutch panoramic paintings of Eden, the animals seem to have been the main subject, with Adam and Eve just the opportunity and pretext. Even in the main room, the subject matter extended from the biblical scene into ‘the divertissement of Hawking, in the several Flights of the Tassel, the Lanner, the Marlyn, and that merry sport of the Hobby.’ This said, Andrew Willet’s Hexapla … on Genesis does mention, in solemnly deciding that all animals lived off the super-nutritious herbs of Paradise before the Fall, that one commentator had suggested that Adam could have enjoyed hunting as a sport even in the pre-lapsarian state: God had given him all the animals, therefore he could legitimately kill some of them for his pleasure.

The Artist of the 1661 show must have been English rather than the whole assemblage having been brought over from Holland, for J.H. reports that the painter still makes daily additions, ‘replenishing this Work’, and also does visitors a commentary on the animals he had so consummately brought to life.

Downstairs from this main room, things were more secular, with a depiction of Heliogabalus’s feast - as it were, all the animals just seen upstairs now cooked and served up for consumption. J.H. is artful enough to hint that there may also be a naughty final display, ‘a Banquet (tis not for a masculine palate, and therefore I shall not insist upon those sweet Kickshaws) there is nothing wanting here, to serve a Ladies desire, and to keep it; for its twenty to one if here ye be not bigger then her belly’. Might it have been of Adam?

London in 1661, a few years before Paradise Lost, and Milton’s forthcoming subject matter as a raree-show in a tavern.

My image is one of Roelandt Savery’s paradise pictures, with the Holy Roman Emperor’s dodo at bottom right. Savery worked for Rudolph II over in Prague, and Peter Marshall’s account in The Mercurial Emperor: the Magic Circle of Rudolph II in Renaissance Prague mentions its presence in the menagerie there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Richard Bernard, and a bad 17th century wash day

It’s a long time since I did a witchcraft post, and I haven’t been doing much haunting of the databases. Richard Bernard’s A guide to grand-iury men diuided into two bookes is a text I’ve used for quotations from which to hang examination questions. The full title gives its scope: in the first, is the authors best aduice to them what to doe, before they bring in a billa vera in cases of witchcraft, with a Christian direction to such as are too much giuen vpon euery crosse to thinke themselues bewitched. In the second, is a treatise touching witches good and bad, how they may be knowne, euicted, condemned, with many particulars tending thereunto (1627). Bernard was not a demonologist with a name to make in a crowded field, but a popular and diligent divine. As Richard Greaves describes him in his excellent ODNB life, Bernard was a near-Puritan who generally managed to conform to the established Church, and was always so zealously instructive to his congregations that his bishops tolerated his occasional signs of non-conformity. He did apparently once exorcise a devil, which aligns him with John Darrel, straying out of line with church policy.

Bernard writes as a man who has done his research: he reads the major thinkers, Bodin, Delrio, Scot and such, but also has gone through a whole array of the pamphlets about individual cases in England. He gave a deal of thought to the witches of Warboys, and it is interesting to see his understanding of that case.

Bernard’s book is a strange thing to read, in that he sets out with a very reasonable exposition of all the reasons why grand jury men should not leap to conclusions that meant an innocent would be hanged for witchcraft. Bernard writes about such things as symptoms of strange illnesses, malicious accusations, or the devil’s aim in incriminating a particular woman, so as to panic the wider community, who would end up with innocent blood on their hands. But the second part of his work is far less worried about ensuring that no innocent blood be shed: rather, it is keen to promote the hanging of evil witches, blessing witches, curing witches, in fact anyone who uses any magical means. The warnings-off in the first part, and setting-on in the second, would have seemed a puzzling mismatch to any conscientious jury-man looking for guidance.

Bernard tries, in his demonological mode, to expound, as demonologists did, what evidence can be trusted. He read The Witches of Warboys carefully. In the Throckmorton household, the girls who believed themselves afflicted by Mother Samuel’s spirits, finally drew an initially disapproving household into the ghoulish practice of scratching a witch (on the face, above the mouth, drawing blood to break her power over them). Bernard writes of scratching:

“This is a remedy which the Deuils themselues haue confessed to practise, & which the Diuell hath strengthened some to be able to do: as you may reade in the Relation of Master Throgmortons children in foure seuerall places, especially of one Mary, a little child, kneeling on her knees, who scratched the yong VVitch a big maide, whilst the child was in her fit, and said that the spirit bade her doe it; that the spirit willed her not to pity the Witches crying, that the spirit held downe the Witch to her, that it forced her to scratch, stretching forth her armes, and straining her fingers, whether shee would or no, to doe it. Is this a good and Christian remedy, wherewith the Deuill is so well pleased? Neither for all the scratching did the children amend, but were againe in their fits, and that often afterwards. Yea I haue read, that a woman VVitch willed voluntarily one to scratch her to helpe him.

... There was another triall vsed very often by M. Trogmorton, to bring his children out of their fits, which was this: to make the Witch to say, I charge thee, thou deuill, as I loue thee, & haue authority ouer thee, and am a Witch, & guilty of this matter, that thou suffer this child to bee well at this present: and by and by the child should be well.

But here note, that the Story telleth vs, that one of the spirits was the author and counsellor to this, and told one of the children in her fit, that if Agnes Samuel were made to speake these words, the child should for the present be well. What warrant they had to take the Deuils instruction, and to make her vse these words, so cursed & fearefull, I leaue to the iudgement of the wise and religious.”

That’s a substantial cop-out at the end: Bernard is precisely that, 'wise and religious'. He can’t quite bring himself to express his disapproval of the way things were conducted in Warboys. A deep attachment to the reality of the primary delusion, the existence of pact witchcraft, perhaps disinclines him to unravel purported ‘evidence’. His whole book shows, in its extended second part, his need to overwrite the inner skepticism that had partially been expressed in part one.

But here he is on women, and why they outnumber men among those accused of witchcraft (I like the word ‘tongueripe’, which the OED cites from here, ):

“Women exceed the men, and it may be for these reasons.

1. Satan his setting upon these rather then on men, since his unhappie onset and prevailing with Eve.

2. Their more credulous nature, and apt to be misled and deceived.

3. For that they are commonly impatient, and more superstitious, and being displeased, more malicious, and so more apt to bitter cursing, and farre more revengefull, according to their power, then men, and so herein more fit instruments of the Divell.

4. They are more tongueripe, and lesse able to hide what they know from others, and therefore in this respect, are more ready to bee teachers of Witchcraft to others, and to leave it to children, servants, or to some others, then men.

5. And lastly, because where they thinke they can command, they are more proud in their rule, and more busie in setting such on worke whom they may command, then men. And therefore the Divell laboureth most to make them Witches: because they, upon every light displeasure, will set him on worke, which is that which he desireth. See instances in Bodin, in his Daemonomania. l. 2. cap. 3. p. 144. 150. and the Confession of Mother Demdike a Lancashire Witch.

Finally, a bad 17th century wash-day:

"They can kill both man and beast, and blast corne, and doe many other evils and harmes: needlesse it is to take up time with instancing particulars: they can bespot linnen cloathes with pictures of Toads, Snakes, and other vermine; as the spirit of one Hellen Ienkenson did a Buck of cloathes of Mistresse Moulshow, because she had the day before helped to search the Witch, and found the marke upon her."

Bernard took this story out of The witches of Northampton-shire Agnes Browne. Ioane Vaughan. Arthur Bill. Hellen Ienkenson. Mary Barber. Witches. Who were all executed at Northampton the 22. of Iuly last. 1612. Considering Helen Jenkinson's fate, it is callous to find the encounter a funny one, but Mistress Moulshaw was clearly made of stern stuff:

"This Helen was apprehended for bewitching of a Child to death, and committed to Northampton Gaole the 11 of May last by Sir Thomas Brooke of Okeiy Knight. A little before whose apprehension, one Mistris Moulsho of the same Towne (after she was so strongly suspected) getting her by a wyle into a place conuenient would néeds haue her searched, to see if they could find that insencible marke which commonly all Witches haue in some priuy place or other of their bodies. And this Mistris Moulsho was one of the chiefe that did search her, and found at the last that which they sought for to their great amazement: at that time this Mistris Moulsho had a Bucke of clothes to be washt out. The next morning the Mayd, when shee came to hang them forth to dry, spyed the Cloathes, but especially Mistris Moulshoes Smocke to be all bespotted with the pictures of Toades, Snakes, and other ougly Creatures, which making her agast, she went presently and told her Mistris, who looking on them, smild, saying nothing else but this; Heere are fine Hobgoblins indeed: And beeing a Gentlwoman of a stout courage, went immediately to the house of the sayd Helen Ienkenson, and with an angry countenance told her of this matter, threatning her that if her Linnen were not shortly cleered from those foule spots, she would scratch out both her eyes: and so not staying for any answere went home, and found her linnen as white as it was at first."

My image is four of Bernard's little pages, where he creates a tabular parallel of God and the devil, His ape.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Henry Bold's bogus valentine

I thought I’d put together a quick post for Valentine’s Day, and was scanning Valentine poems in LION. Henry Bold’s ‘To his Mistris’ seemed familiar:

Chuse me your Valentine,
Next let us marry:
Love to the death will pine,
If we long tarry:

You have broke promise twice,
Dear to undo me;
If you prove faithless thrice,
None then will wooe you.

It is actually a poem by Robert Herrick, recycled with an omitted stanza, and not even taking the trouble to make the obvious correction to the rhyme at the end of the poem:

‘To his Mistresse.’

Choose me your Valentine;
Next, let us marry:
Love to the death will pine,
If we long tarry.

Promise, and keep your vowes,
Or vow ye never:
Loves doctrine disallowes
Troth-breakers ever.

You have broke promise twice
(Deare) to undoe me;
If you prove faithlesse thrice,
None then will wooe you.

As I read the full volume of Bold’s poems, Wit a Sporting in a Pleasant Grove of New Fancies (1657), more and more poems seemed familiar. These ‘new fancies’ were swathes of Herrick’s Hesperides of 1648, bits of Marlowe’s Ovid: a whole chamber of echoes. In the ODNB, Jonathan Pritchard’s life of Henry Bold (for he did exist, I had started to wonder if he wasn’t entirely a publisher’s figment, and invented name that told its own story – making Bold with other’s poems) tells the whole story, and explains my image for this post:

Wit a Sporting in a Pleasant Grove of New Fancies was the first work to appear under Bold’s initials but the volume is a comprehensive piracy. The portrait placed before the title-page, for example, professes to represent Bold but in fact depicts Christian Ravus, or Ravius, whose likeness had originally prefixed his Discourse of the Oriental Tongues (1649). The text itself also appropriates the work of others. Much of the first fifty pages is taken verbatim, but in a reordered sequence, from the secular section of Thomas Beedome's Poems Divine and Humane (1641); Robert Herrick’s Hesperides (1648) is the source for many more items scattered throughout the rest of the volume. In making those poems his own, Bold regularizes Beedome’s spelling and changes the names of the addressees (and, thus, the titles), lineation, and even the wording of Herrick’s verse.”

This was one of my favourites among Bold’s interventions into the text of the poet he is plagiarizing. He wants to avoid anything too memorable, of course, so Herrick’s first stanza in

To Anthea , who may command him any thing.

Bid me to live, and I will live
Thy Pro
testant to be:
Or bid me love, and I will give
A loving hear
t to thee.

became the lusterless:

To his Mistris to command him any thing.

Bid me to live, and I will live,
thy servant for to be;
Or bid me love, and I will give
A loving heart to thee…

Herrick was still alive, Beedome’s date of death is unknown, but he was probably dead when this Bold volume was concocted.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

In the land of 8 foot high hermaphroditic Australians

I have a one-off lecture to give on Gulliver’s Travels, with a focus on Lilliput. Seeing the familiar map locating Lilliput and Blefuscu to the west of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) triggered me to try ‘Australis’ in the EEBO title keywords search (thinking of ‘Terra Australis Incognita’).

This threw up the usual mixture of things, and led to me start reading A new discovery of Terra incognita Australis, or, The southern world, by James Sadeur, a French-man, who being cast there by a shipwrack, lived 35 years in that country and gives a particular description of the manners, customs, religion, laws, studies and wars of those southern people, and of some animals peculiar to that place ... translated from the French copy (1693).

Now, of course reports purportedly from people who have survived shipwrecks are always suspicious, but Gabriel de Foigny’s narrative (for he was the author masking behind Sadeur) starts in the usual deadpan way, then does its shipwreck with authenticating details, like his being unable to uncurl his fingers from the plank that kept him afloat in the sea. In my happy ignorance, then, I started reading this narrative as people once must have started reading the similarly straight-looking Gulliver’s Travels, maybe ready for the moment that confirmed the inevitable background suspicion that this traveler is a liar like others (‘perhaps I should be hardly believed; at least a severe Critick would be apt to think I enlarged a little, a Travellers are often suspected to do’, says Gulliver, with an obvious pun, in Brobdingnag), but still able to relish to the full that complete revaluation of the narrative, when the author finally betrays what game he is playing; when what was being received as ‘lying like the truth’ is grasped instead as an extravagant thought experiment. That moment comes rapidly in Gulliver, while de Foigney’s narrative rambles towards extraordinariness. But get there it certainly does.

Well, I was scanning the EEBO page images, of a densely inked quarto, at some speed (I think I was looking for giants or pigmies), so I may have been exceptionally slow on the uptake. But it was pleasant to stumble over a text that was completely unknown to me, but which has (it turns out) quite a bit of scholarship about it, among those scholars who do fantastical travels, utopias, and the like.

Reading it with no preconceptions from relevant scholarship, I was of course gratified most by the startling declaration that all the Australians are about 8 feet high and hermaphrodites. I’d seen this motif of hermaphroditism before in Joseph Hall’s Mundus Alter et Idem, and I suppose it may be a recurrent thing triggered in the first place by genuine accounts of the gender-neutral folk the first Europeans found quietly accepted in the native communities of Florida. The text I was reading gives a surprising twist to this: Sadeur is baffled about their physical mechanisms of reproduction: ‘In all the time that I was there, I could never discover how Generation-work was performed amongst them.’ Instead of his own discoveries of a ‘deviant’ sexuality in the natives, Sadeur is put under irresistible philosophical pressure by one sage old Australian who befriends and teaches him. (I should say that language problems are not just set aside: these hyper-rational beings have a graspable language whose radical simplicity and directness stems from a system of (monosyllabic) word formation based on the observable and elemental qualities of things.) The Australian sees the European as a ‘half-man’, a defective example of humanity: “Thou canst never reconcile the use of reason with the exclusion of both sexes in one person … it is certain, that both Sexes are necessary for the perfection of an nature Man … As you seem to keep a kind of medium between Man and Beast, I believe I do you no injury in calling you half-Men”.

Like Gulliver among the Houyhnhnms, Sadeur suffers a complete philosophical bouleversement: here is the sage chiding him about the habitual European distinctions between the sexes:

Thou hast advanced that the Father and Mother act together to produce it; thou hast made me apprehend, that the Mother is the most nearly concern’d in it; from whence is it then this thou concludest the Father ought to be lookt upon as the Principle cause? I found myself shock’t by the Discourse of this Old man; and although I cou’d not consent to his reason, which overturn’d all our Laws, I cou’d not hinder my self from making a thousand reflections, and confessing that they treated that Sex with so much severity, from whom all Mankind receiv’d so many obligations: My thoughts furnish’d me then with an hundred reasons to maintain what my Philosopher had asserted; I found my self forc’d to believe that this great power which man had usurped over Women, was rather the effect of an odious Tyranny, than a Legitimate Authority.”

While de Foigney’s narrator remains year after year completely in the dark about the propagation of these perfect and rational beings, they are repulsed by his one inadvertent revelation of his own single gender: “It happen’d another time, about six months after my arrival, that the extraordinary Caresses of the Brethren, caused some unruly motions in me, which some of them perceiving, were so very much scandalized at it, that they left me with great indignation.”

A similar veil is drawn over the god of the Australians, locally only ever referred to as ‘the incomprehensible’: “There is no Subject more curious and secret among the Australians, than that of their Religion.” This version of de Foigney’s fable is apparently based on a bowdlerised text (or so I learn from the EMLS review of a new edition of the original, linked to below).

For the other aspects of this fantasy Australia, there is euthanasia, as in More: “there is never held any Assembly at the Heb, at which there is not twenty or thirty Persons that demand the Liberty to return to their rest”. (Those wishing to die consume an overdose of the local panacea, the ‘fruit of rest’, and for the one time in their lives sing and dance among this nation of austere agelasts. This is ignored politely: the partakers then die. Also, they are vegetarians from a radical persuasion of the elevation and difference of their own species: “A Beast is a thing so much beneath us, that it were better for a Man not to be at all, than to debase his noble nature, so far as to adulterate it with the mixture of a Beast, by making it his Food.”

Like the Utopians of More, they fight with all the unchivalrous determination of pure rationalists. During his long stay, Sadeur witnesses their vicious war against the human ‘Fondins’ by ‘the Brethren’, which is carried to an extreme beyond genocide: after wiping out the Fondin population, the Brethren excavate and then inundate the whole island territory of their enemies.

This terrifying people make hopeless prospects for European colonisation. They are seen wiping out a European fleet and over-confident invasion force, but also, as More’s Utopia, they are incorruptible:

“There is no likelihood of bringing them to a Compliance, by the allurements of Gain, or Rewards, or of Pleasure, nor any practical means left for us to overcome that strange aversion they have for us, which is so great, that they cannot endure to hear us mentioned, without declaring the passion they have to destroy us. And then besides those things that we usually carry into the newly discovered Countries, and which procure us access to their Inhabitants, pass in the esteem of the Australians, for Childrens Play-things, and meer trifles, and baubles; they look upon our Gawdy Stuffs, and richest Silks, as Spiders Webs, they know not so much as what the names of Gold and Silver signify.”

Our narrator had tried briefly to intervene in the killing of a Fondin woman and her two beautiful daughters: in disgrace for this, manages to fly from the island by means of a large bird, and so escapes back to Madagascar.

De Foigney’s book, even in this censored early version, intrigued me. It lacks the settled stance of the best philosophical tales, switching too conspicuously between yarn and pedagogic dialogue (though I suppose the mixed style is to be expected in such works). Most of all, I relished that initial generic uncertainty in my reading. Though I will never recapture that indeterminacy, I have ordered a copy of David Fausset’s new edition and complete translation.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

'It must be called EBENEZAR': Cheapside Cross, and a Puritan replacement.

A lecture to give on A Chaste Maid in Cheapside has led me on to have a closer look at the various pamphlets about the Eleanor Cross in Cheapside, and its demolition in 1643. I had expected all the pamphlets like The Downe-fall of Dagon, or, the taking downe of Cheap-side crosse this second of May, 1643 to be straightforward iconoclastic rants. 1643 was a difficult year for Parliament, the year when Charles might have won the Civil war: I thought the demolition would have had an aspect of Puritan London evincing panicky defiance. In fact, I found in the pamphlets far more awareness of and responsiveness to a wider non-religious culture than I had expected.

The Downe-fall of Dagon starts unexpectedly, with a variant of that minor genre of speaking statues, as the Cheapside cross itself is given a monologue about its approaching fall. The author speaks briefly about the variety of religious sects in London, and indicates that the cross will speak its own complaint: then, without any typographical niceties, the cross takes over. It speaks of its own antiquity, costliness, frequent re-gildings, but laments that it has become ‘the hatefull Idoll of the City … I am now accounted for a Papist … the Brownists spit at me and throw stones at me as they come along the street, the Familists hide their eyes with their fingers, the Annabaptists wish me to be knockt in pieces, the sisters of the Fraternity wil not come near me, but go about by Watling street, and come in againe by Soaper-lane to buy their provisions of the Market-folkes… It is the Crosse that stands upon my head which is a moate in their eyes’.

Maybe there is some exaggeration here, but I like the image of fiercer sectarians refusing even to walk past the cross, but rather taking diversions through side streets. The pamphlet now turns into a mock-testament (‘I give my Body and Stones to those Masons and Workemen that cannot tell how to frame the like againe, to keep by them for a patterne’, etc). A verse epitaph follows, again mingling satire and sympathy. The author then resumes with his account of the general reasons for the demolition: such a cross is better suited an ‘Idolatrous place’ like Rome than this ‘civill Citie’, its images misled badly instructed Protestants to believe in the intercession of saints – and after these come (I take it) the real reasons, that explain why 1643 was to be the year of demolition:

This Crosse hath been a great meanes to cause superstition and idolatry from time to time in worshipping and adoring it, as many people have done as they passe by it; for divers people both men and women hath been seen by severall honest, ancient and good Inhabitants dwelling neare the place, that sundry sorts of people have by three a clock in the morning come barefoot to the Crosse, and kneeled downe, and said something to themselves, crossed their fore-head and their breast, and so risen and making obeisance, went away, which punishment was enjoyned upon them, as a penance for some sins they had committed.’

This oddly coy account of Catholics doing penance nocturnally at the cross strikes me as potentially an early modern urban myth. The next part seems far more likely to me, in a city where Charles’s sympathizers might have thought the war was soon going to end with the King’s triumphant return:

‘Likewise hundreds of people have been publickly seen and in the midst of the day, bend their bodies to it, and put off their hats, and cross themselves: Not only as they have gone on foot by it, but divers that have rid on horse-back and in Coaches have put out their heads and pull’d off their hats, and done reverence to it; this hath bin done for these many yeares together’.

The Cheapside cross had been politicized: it had become a place to show a moment of defiance for those who held to the church of Archbishop Laud, gentry sympathizers expecting the King back from Oxford. Ministers complained both in sermons, and in print (says our author); others complained to the Houses of Parliament, and so a warrant for the demolition was rapidly issued, with the trained bands deployed ‘because divers people had given out they would rather lose their lives then it should down…’

This pamphlet, with its speech for the cross itself, resembles the verse monologue (again, voiced for the Eleanor Cross) deploring the proposed demolition A vindication of Cheapside Crosse against the Roundheads, an elite broadside printed in Oxford in1643. The poem descends into a series of jibes:

Have I transgrest the Law? Or did I ever

Our gracious Sovereigne from his people sever? …

… Do’s Religion such a hatred bring,

To hate the very picture of a King?

The remarkable funeral of Cheapside-Crosse in London, dated1642 (this must be ‘old style’), seems to explain that the ‘mortal wound’ to the cross came on January 24th. I surmise that this may have been the date of parliament’s warrant. The pamphlet imagines a funeral procession for the cross, envisaging Valentine’s Day as suitable for a rather fond farewell. First, those invited who will not attend are listed: Bishops, Jesuits, Papists, Arminians – Cavaliers will not be there as their aim is ‘to make more Crosses in the kingdom’, or so the writer puns. But then the he goes on to imagine the send-off procession. It faintly recollects Nashe’s Will Summers his last will and testament, a city pageant, or maybe even a masque. Members of 12 livery companies enter first, with their apprentices, singing a song, then another set of representatives of another 12 companies, also singing (‘The great Idoll is down, down, downe…’), next members of the Carpenters, Plumbers, Stone-Cutters and Gilders, expressing mingled joy and sorrow (the latter emotion stemming from the fact that there is no possibility of a commission to them for a replacement). Their song rejoices in the way that the royal crown on the adjacent water conduit, ‘The Standard’ will now be more famous with its medieval rival removed. Again, there’s that undercurrent of divided loyalty, London as a royal city despite everything. Countrymen follow in the imagined procession, crying out against ‘Popery’ and rejoicing with some complacency that with God served only ‘in Spirit, and in Truth’, prosperity will surely come to the land. Forgetting his earlier list of those unable to attend, the author next imagines a Cardinal, Jesuits and Friars in the mourners, lamenting how ‘Hereticks and filthy drosse / In England do our state so tosse’; then members of eight different Protestant sects bearing away the cross itself for burial.

The author of what appears to be an earlier pamphlet, The Crosses case in Cheapside (1642) presented his work as a measured contribution, and professes himself more angry about idols in the heart. Of the Cheapside cross itself, he alleges that ‘a man could not passe that way, but he must declare himselfe, whether for the Crosse or against it’, and deplores the ‘bloody noses, and scratched faces’ such challenges resulted in. (The royalist poem mentioned earlier seems to indicate that London’s butchers were among the cross’s violent supporters.) He testifies having heard a noise like a bear-baiting crowd coming from around the cross, and having gone to witness there two mobs squaring up to one another. After this preamble, he embarks on his justification of the demolition, and explains that the first attack on the ‘Pile of Images in Cheapside’ came from a man who stood on the railings (the royalist broadsheet indicates that the cross was protected by iron pikes, so the iconoclast was risking getting impaled if he had slipped) and ‘wrencht off a Leg and part of the Thigh from that Image, they presumptuously called Christ’. (How quintessential that comment is, capturing the moment when the revered has become the despised!) The pamphlet goes on with a painstaking justification of the demolition, against all objections that it was an ornament to the city, and the rest. Actually quite bothered by that problem of civic ornament, the author gets carried away into a confident prediction that the city will instead erect a pillar (‘it must be called EBENEZAR’) dedicated to the ‘KNOWNE GOD’ for His justices and mercies (largely, the military non-event of the Bishop’s war).

Also contributed to this furious debate was the spittle-flecked ‘humour’ of The Popes proclamation: together with the lawes and ordinances established by him and his shavelings, concerning his adherents and rights which hee claimeth in England. Whereunto is added six articles exhibited against Cheapside Crosse, whereby it stands guilty of high treason, and ought to be beheaded (1641). This is a cod proclamation, from which the author veers off into the kind of attack on the Cheapside Cross I had expected all these pamphlets to contain: ‘Contrary to protestation, it is still pointed at … it is adhered to, and doth comfort the Kings enemies, the Papists … His Majesties subjects … doe prostitute themselves, and commit spirituall fornication, Idolatry, with said Idoll.’

But I suppose that the other authors were more sentimental Londoners, aware of the long history of objections, vandalism and royally commanded repairs and re-gildings Stowe’s Survey of London describes for the Cheapside Cross, and faintly hopeful that the much haggled over but familiar edifice would weather another storm.

Related post:

Images: my own rehandling of images from The A to Z of Elizabethan London, to bring out Cheapside in a single view.