Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An appetite for wonders: Robert Gell considers Marcle Hill

Robert Gell made much of the subject of my last post, the Marcle Hill landslip, in his sermon to the Society of Astrologers, published as Stella nova, a new starre, leading wisemen unto Christ. Or, A sermon preached before the learned Society of Astrologers, August 1. 1649.

As Gell explains it, the earth shook at the giving of the law (he cites Psalm 114), then the earth was shaken again when the gospel came to be revealed (his far-fetched connection here is when King Herod was troubled by Christ’s birth: Herod’s name, he tells us, connotes ‘mountain’). Finally, as he sums up this three-part view of history: ‘what the Lord did at the giving of the Law, prefigured what should be done at the publishing of the everlasting universall Gospell’ (p. 28)

That’s right, Gell seems to have been a reader of the works of Joachim de Fiore, and to have been expecting the angel of Revelations 14, who would deliver the third Testament, that of the ‘everlasting gospel’. He cites Joachim directly, quoting the over-stimulating verses in Revelations, and saying ‘But who this Angel was, every one judgeth as he is affected. Abbat Joachim tells us, it was Gregory the Great’ (in his Aggelokratia theon, 1650).

Though he is a relatively temperate reader of Joachim (Gell insists that nobody has produced writings ‘holy and pure’ enough for them to be seen as the Third, Everlasting Gospel, and that the prophet expected to preach the third Gospel is a ‘Non est inventus’), Gell’s argument about Marcle Hill exhibits that total lack of a sense of proportion that marks so much mid-seventeenth century religious writing. He goes on to spell out the strange symbolisms of the divinely-altered landform in detail, as it now prefigures the geography of his ideal city of Christian brotherhood, Philadelphia:

‘This hill (i.e., Philadelphia) like that I told you of out of Master Camden and Master Speed, keeps the sheep safe in their cotes, and all the trees of righteousness growing upon it; only it turns those West which were East, and the East West. They that were first become last, and the last first. It over turnes all meer ceremoniall outside worship; and changes the great beaten roads, even that broad way of open known sinners, and that kind of narrow way, which is indeed cut out of the same broad way, consisting of an affected kinde of strictnesse, in regard of some bodily exercises; which neglect of the true narrow way of mortification which leads unto the everlasting life. And as that Hill mounted it selfe on the top of another, and there rested; so this Hill of the Lord must raise it selfe above all the little Hils, even all particular Churches divided in judgements and opinions.’

So Marcle Hill, after the landslide, symbolises all the inversions of earthly rank of the heavenly city itself …

Reading Stella nova, one can hardly help not imagining the astrologers, who perhaps expected their own proclivity for nutty deductions from perfectly natural events to be flatteringly treated by their preacher, sitting there wondering what on earth he was on about, as he digressed so unpredictably from the phenomena they were interested in to these wild geological-eschatological conclusions. Instead of anything astral or planetary, here he was, seeing the apocalypse in a landslide a trifling matter of 75 years before.

Gell, in his Stella nova sermon, introduces a long quotation from Speed’s account of Marcle Hill like this: “Master Camden in his Britannia tells us, in the Description of Herefordshire, that Prope confluentes [Lugi & Vagae] Collis quem Marcley-hill vocant, annus saluties 1575. quasi somen solutus consurrexit & triduum se in immanissimam molem propellans horrendo reboans mugitu, & obvia quaeque prosternans in superiorum locum, magna cum admiaritone se promovit, eo terrae motus genere, ut judico, quod Physici Brasmatiam vocant. Master Speed, in his Description of the same County, gives us the History more fully; onely there is in him a mistake of the yeere, unlesse it were onely the Printers fault, as I believe.

Gell then quotes Speed’s version at length, as given in my previous blog entry, and comments: “This (landslide), although we may refer unto its second causes, as master Camden doth; yet if we consider the great manifestation of that Divine light, by the publishing of the everlasting Gospell that very yeere unto this nation, we cannot but apply that of the Psalmist; What ailed yee, yee Mountaines that yee skipped like Rams, and yee little Hils like yong Sheepe? Tremble thou Earth at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Israel (Psalm 114.)”

“The Lord then made manifest His presence by the moving of the Earth”, Gell proclaims. What connects the landslide (with its strangely misunderstood reports of the slip piling up on itself into a new eminence) to a Stella nova (the nova in Cassiopeia) is, to re-iterate a point, the miraculous nature of any change to the divinely ordered creation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

At the site of 'The Miracle'

Down for a weekend in Herefordshire, stopping at this very pleasant place,

Some part of what George Sandys said centuries ago is still true of Herefordshire: “the great Age of the Inhabitants is a sign of the goodness of the Air …This County exceeds in 4 W’s. Wood, Wheat, Wooll and Water. Much Syder is made here, so that the County deserves the Name of Pomerania.

But my photographs are of the site of what was once a great prodigy, one that Sandys also mentions, though with some inaccuracy and some improvement on the strangeness of the event: “Anno 1575 (sic) Marcley-Hill shaked and roared for 3 days together, and raised it self into an higher Place” (Anglorum speculum, or, The worthies of England in church and state alphabetically digested into the several shires and counties therein contained, 1684).

What can be seen today? The solitary yew tree was supposedly once in the ground of the chapel at Kynaston which was demolished by the slide. The sunken lane with rock faces at either side in the photograph was (I thought) a remnant of the slide. There was no reason for anyone to make a deep cutting into a field which could be walked into further down-slope; it looks like the ground opened and was pulled apart.

A full and more accurate account that that given by Sandys can be found in the chroniclers William Camden and John Speed:

“But more admirable was the work of the Omnipotent, even in our own remembrances, and year of Christ Jesus 1571, when the Marcley Hill in the East of this Shire, rouzed it self out of a dead sleep, with a roaring noise removed from the place where it stood, and for three days together travelled from her first site, to the great amazement and fear of the beholders. It began to journey upon the seventh day of February, being Sunday, at six of the Clock at night, and by seven in the next morning had gone forty paces, carrying with it Sheep in their cotes, hedge-rows, and trees; whereof some were overturned, and some that stood upon the plain, are firmly growing upon the hill; those that were East were turned West; and those in the West were set in the East: in which remove, it overthrew Kynaston-Chappel, and turned two high-ways near an hundred yards from their usual paths formerly trod. The ground thus travelling, was about twenty six Acres, which opening it self with Rocks and all, bare the earth before it for four hundred yards space without any stay, leaving that which was Pasturage in place of the Tillage and the Tillage overspread with Pasturage. Lastly, overwhelming her lower parts, mounted to an hill of twelve fathoms high, and there rested her self after three days travel, remaining his mark, that so laid hand upon this Rock, whose power hath poysed the Hills in his Ballance.”
(An epitome of Mr. John Speed's theatre of the empire of Great Britain And of his prospect of the most famous parts of the world, 1676 edition.)

John Speed’s account gives us a clue to that unlikely notion of the landslide defying gravity (as in Sandys’ sensationally miraculous “Marcley-Hill shaked and roared for 3 days together, and raised it self into an higher Place”) - the material coming down the hill (I take him to be saying) piled up where it came to a halt to a height of twelve fathoms. This might be just about believable as a guess at the height of the slumped material piling up on itself. I take it that this entire tongue of land (covered in blackcurrant bushes) is of material that once was higher up the ridge, and also represents the lateral spreading of that temporary new hill of slumped earth.

Speed’s account was repeated verbatim in early modern writings that deal in their own way with what we would call geology: “And if this late Earth-quake seeme strange or incredible unto them, I wish them have recourse unto that more admirable worke of the Omnipotent, even in ours and our Fathers remembrance, in Hereford-shire: and recorded by our best Historiographers: when as, In the yeere of Christ Iesus, 1571. Marcley Hill in the East of the shire, rowzed it selfe out of a dead sleepe, and with a roaring noise remoued from the place where it stood...”  Henry Holland continues to quote the whole account he found in Speed. (Motus Medi-terraneus. Or, A true relation of a fearefull and prodigious earthquake which lately happened in the ancient citie of Coventrie, and some other places of the Kingdome, to the great amazement of the inhabitants. With a touch of some other occurrences, as well forraine as domestique, 1626).

The Marcle Hill landslip remains on the Ordnance Survey map as ‘The Miracle’. These writers seem unduly excited by events of this nature, and it is worth pausing over why they cite and re-cite the few examples they had. Obviously, Great Britain is not very active geologically, so the rare instances of a major movement assume importance, and get confused with earthquakes (as we see in Henry Holland, though of course a minor tremor might have started the slump). Mainly, of course, God has to be involved: His world is in the order in which He established it. Latter day changes to that initial divine ordering are important signs: warnings of His displeasure, portents of things to come. This 1571 landslide was more locally known, but creates (in a smaller way) the same kind of stir as the nova in Cassiopeia would do in the following year.

Thomas Lawrence intelligently cited the landslip as a hint towards a way to account for anomalous discovery of fossil sea shells far inland and up mountains: Marcley hill with us in Hereford-shire, Anno 1571. with a great noise removed it self from its place, and went continually for three dayes together, overthrowing Kinnaston Chapel, bearing the earth 400 yards before it. And therefore Exhalations may be granted to remove stones and sands, and with them such heterogeneous bodies as lie on them, from one place to another, from the sea to the hills, from a coast far into a countrey. (Thomas Lawrence, Mercurius centralis, or, A discourse of subterraneal cockle, muscle and oyster-shels found in the digging of a well at Sir William Doylie’s in Norfolk many foot under ground and at considerable distance from the sea / sent in a letter to Thomas Brown by Tho. Lawrence, 1664).

The date of the landslip does vary from author to author. 1575 is a mistake; both Camden and Speed give 1571. February 17th 1571 is the date given in the most consciously ‘scientific’ or Baconian of these writers, J. Childrey, but his account is a very close paraphrase of what he had found in Speed, and he maybe introduced this later date through an error in his note-taking. Childrey’s surmise was that large earth-slips had something to do with the local soil: “Machley-hill in Herefordshire, Westram in Kent, and Armitage in Dorsetshire were all of a fat and clammy soile, and not very stiffe; (for then I think I have much to say to the cause of those too) but till I am sure, I shall be silent, though some of Herefordshire have told me, that Marcley-hil is such as I would have it to be.” (J. Childrey, Britannia Baconica: or, The natural rarities of England, Scotland, & Wales. According as they are to be found in every shire. Historically related, according to the precepts of the Lord Bacon; Usefull for all ingenious men of what profession of quality soever, 1662).

Gideon Harvey’s account of “a very stupendious Earthquake, that befel the east part of Herefordshire in the year 1575 in March, where the earth and a rocky hill (called Marcley hill) was removed to a far distance thence with the Trees and all the Sheep that were upon it” in his Archelogia philosophica nova (1663) seems to have conflated this landslide with the one at Westerham in Kent, for he says that “Some other Trees were cast out of the ground, whereof many fell flat upon the ground, others hapned to fall into the seams of the Hill, and closed as fast, as if they had taken their first root there. The hole which this eruption made was at least 40 foot wide, and 80 yards long, lasting from Saturday in the Evening untill Munday at noon.” The detail of trees being swallowed up comes from accounts of divine signs and wonders which gather together all sorts of events, as when Increase Mather cites both Marcle Hill and Westerham in his An essay for the recording of illustrious providences wherein an account is given of many remarkable and very memorable events which have hapned this last age (1684).
The slow landslide at Marcle Hill got into poetry (of sorts) too, when the courtier poet Sir Aston Cokain, writing a ‘Remedy for Love’ after Ovid, sensibly told his recovering sufferer from love to go and view the beauties and wonders of the world “Hereford behold, / And Marcley hill whose motion is so told.” (A chain of golden poems).

This was my previous landslide:


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

'A worm the author of this book': William Ramesey's 'Helminthologia'

This chap is William Ramesey, and the amazing bonnet he is wearing was probably designed as an extra container or sump for the overflow of dotty notions stemming from his brain. Or there may be some ceremonial aspect to it: Patrick Curry’s ODNB life of Ramesey mentions that while he was born in Scotland into a family called Ramsey, he later changed his name because he had an idea of his Egyptian descent. He probably thinks of the hat as being like the crown of Upper Egypt Rameses the Great would have worn. This whole bogus Egyptian connection primarily suggests his inheritance from Ptolemy the Great, for Ramesey’s first obsession was astrology.

He was, however, an astrologer with a marked reluctance about making specific predictions. Ramesey was a royalist, and really didn’t want to make trouble for himself, so he keeps lapsing into this mode: ‘I could say somewhat of (Jupiter) … but I passe it over in silence, knowing it is neither safe nor fitting that the truth should be spoken always’ (Vox stellarum, 1651, p. 86). Ramesey hardly dares say anything particular about the fate ‘our Rulers or Grandees’ (pp. 97-8), but he looked to 1652 as a time when the nation might see ‘the pale Horse and his Rider as it were preparing for his march’ (p. 90). Ramesey duly called on England to ‘repent, repent … God is angry with thee’ (p. 88). Elsewhere in this astrological work, Ramesey seems unduly excited about Venus’s influence, and women in general, who are so threatened by pox (during 1652) that he says he will have nothing to do with women in the summer quarter, at least, ‘(as near as I can)’ (p. 108).

He became a physician, even court physician to Charles II, who would (as he famously said) die with the help of too many men like this. The major medical text by Ramesey is Helminthologia, or, Some physical considerations of the matter, origination, and several species of wormes (1668). It’s a work perhaps advisedly ignored by the compilers of the OED, whose references to things ‘helminthous’ are far later in date.

This is a book which sets off well, with its eye on the subject matter: “Worms the Subject, and worms the readers, and a worm the Author of this Book” (p. 8, and the formal beginning of his text after the prefatory material). Infinite multitudes … die by them, under the notion of feavers of all sorts, Pleurisies, and most other Distempers”, he asserts. To believe that people die of little creatures living in them does seem to be thinking along the right lines. At times, the “Rational and Learned Physician” he saw himself to be flickers into view:

“ ‘view any corrupt blood with a * Microscope where they shall plainly perceive innumerable vermines’ * By which Instrument fitted with glasses at each end, the smallest mite will appear in that magnitude as you may discover every part thereof.”

But his topic wriggles away from him uncontrollably. Worms, he explains, are the product of ‘putrid, vitious and gross, viscid, corrupt matter’. As such, anything that upsets the perfect bodily regime can produce worms: God, his angels, the devil and his imps, witches and witchcraft, air, water, the planets, food, passions, retention of semen (Ramesey shifts into decorous Latin). Ramesey has his full say about witchcraft and the diabolic pact (being a Scot, he once saw “nine burnt at one time in Leith-Links”), about diet, planetary influences, anything. Worms, we realise, are to him what melancholy was for Robert Burton, and he palpably has his eye on Burton’s book, even writing about ‘Air rectified’ as part of a salubrious regime.

Ramesey was not, as his choice of headgear shows, overburdened with a sense of the ridiculous. He also can write like this, in apparent seriousness:

‘That my Reader may be Encincted with Reason able to Renix the Halucinations of that Panenerical evil of Envy and Ignorance, which is a Cacoethick Malady; But especially that he may injoy an Orthostadian Judgement, and not be Depsect with that Truculent Credulity which proves Sontick to most men, and an assured Prodromos of Ruine, I thought it not amiss here to aedepize some things, and Indigitate thee, wherefore others in this Book are handled in that manner they are…’

Credulous about all tales which seemed relevant to his maggoty notions, Ramesey cannot perceive irony in his sources: Erasmus’s story of an Italian, living in Germany and fluent in the language, whose helminthous  problems were so extreme that he behaved like a man possessed, until a wise physician treated him for worms, and simultaneously purged from him both the wriggling cause of his problems and all his grasp of the German language: this cock-and-bull story Ramesey tells twice (pages 42 and 312).

 He has much to say about the effects of milk, and again can be caught retailing as true a gosh-wow-fancy-that yarn: ‘A Slut at Packwood near Knole in Warwick-shire, did put a nurse-by-blow-child [he means, a bastard child, a ‘by-blow’, that has been put out to nurse] often to suck a Mastive Bitch, who at the same instant had Puppies, the Child throve well enough, but shewed the fruits and disposition of his Nurse, as he grew bigger, by his churlish behaviour, and never could sit or lie down, without turning two or three times round’. It seems a plausible story about squalor and neglect in early modern life, until that last couple of clauses.

Under diet, we learn about a Duke of Brunswick bursting after a surfeit of strawberries, and about King James’s opinion of ling, salt cod: ‘a dish for the devil’- Ramesey agrees: ‘they that eat ling, may as well eat a worse thing, and drink Piss’. He is insistent about the dangers of sea food: ‘We may absolutely condemn, and explode the Periwinkle, Cockle, Muscle, as dangerous food, offending the Brain’, and has stories of people who by eating too many cockles became natural fools.

All oddities of diet interest him. He writes about cases of pica, and one of his sources fills him in on what happens to you if you happen to consume cat’s blood: ‘a remarkable story of a maid, who by drinking of cats-blood, degenerated into the disposition and nature of a Cat, and by fits, would imitate a Cat, both in Actions and Voice; and in private would catch Mice, and contract herself so, (which was strange) to pass through holes, that no body else of her bigness could’. (She sounds to me like an entertainer whose spurious back-story has got garbled.)

Notice that none of this discussion has any notion of parasites being transmitted. Sea food, for instance, in itself upsets the bodily regime, and leads to worms spontaneously generating in any part of the body.

Ramesey produces this splendid illustration of the varieties of internal parasite, though the numbers do not key to specific discussions in the text, that would be too limiting. That’s a flat worm 300 feet long that he has picked up report of, and that weasel is a worm shaped just like a weasel, which was found when a pox-ridden gentleman was trepanned, and from his brain, a worm was “taken away, which was on the Dura Mater, in the form of a weasel”. He also reports how in October 1637, Dr May found a worm in the left ventricle of Mr John Pennat, aged 21 (and dead) ‘splendent as if it had been varnished’.

When Ramesey does finally get off the causes of worms to worms themselves, his account of the symptoms (p. 297ff) is horribly graphic and convincing. To that extent, he knew what he was talking about. His account of the treatment for worms retreats into Latin, as his medicine (a highly technical matter of purges and enemas) is something only the educated can practice. Writing of ‘The force of the imagination’ as a possible cause of worms, Ramesey instances the power of the imagination by referring to it ‘all Cures done by silly Women’.

I was disappointed that Ramesey did not have more to say about sex as a cause of worms, for Vox stellarum seemed to show that he was anxious about sexual matters. He does, however, come out strongly for eugenic practices, which among other things will eradicate left-handedness:

‘Sots as we are, in this most weighty matter we are too remiss, marrying any deformed unwholesome piece of mortality for a little money, when we are curious of the strain of our Horses, Doggs, Pigeons, game-Cocks; and so frequently, we leave a Crook-Back’d, Flat-nos’d, Bow-leg’d, Squnit-Ey’d, Left-handed, ugly, infirm, Weesle-fac’d, Diseased, half-Witted, Hair-brain’d, Nonsensical, Goos-cappical and Coxcombical, Worm-eaten Idiot, not only to possess our Estates, but our Names, and to build up our Families…’

To end with, here’s a tale he has of someone offering a toast to the devil during the civil war: ‘Or that of a mad fellow, in the time of our uncivill Wars at Salisbury, who being drunk, in a Bravado, drank an health to the Devil, saying, that if he did not come and pledge him, he would not believe there was either a Devil or a GOD, his Associates trembling at his expressions, retired into another Room, and left him, and never saw him more; for immediately the Devil came and carried him away, as it is thought out of the Window, the Bar thereof being bowed.’

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sparke's Notes

My pictures are from The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New newly translated out of the originall tongues and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, London: Printed by the Company of Stationers, 1651.

I cannot offhand find very much out about this Bible printing, which has 144 pages of plates, which seem to be by Jacob Van Langeren (who also engraved early travellers’ maps, globes, and the emblems in the Jesuit Henry Hawkins’ Partheneia Sacra). The dedicatee for the publication is King Charles. Rather as the king stayed on the coinage while he was Parliament’s prisoner, what must be an older dedication gets re-printed after his execution.

The puzzle here is just what is going on: how can the Company of Stationers be putting out a Bible which, in 1651, would have been thought suspiciously ‘Popish’, simply by having pictures in it?

The dementedly indignant and hypocritical Michael Sparke may, in his way, provide some explanation. Sparke had been William Prynne’s publisher, and during Charles’ reign, had made a good trade in bringing in Geneva Bibles (with their Protestant commentary) from abroad, and selling them against the Authorized Version.

By 1651, however, Sparke had shifted ground. He had repeatedly, by that date, published against imported Bibles, which he represented in appeals to Parliament as popish, and part of a popish plot against the nation. A work typical of this phase of his career has a quintessential 17th century title (for they were always ‘A Beacon Lit’ and then ‘The Beacon Quenched’). He puns, of course, on his own name for his pseudonym:

A second beacon fired by Scintilla: with his humble information and joynt attestation to the truth of his brethrens former declaration & catalogue, that fired the first beacon. Wherein is remembred the former actings of the papists in their secret plots: and now discovering their wicked designes to set up, advance, and cunningly to usher in popery; by introducing pictures to the Holy Bible: and by sending many young gentlewomen beyond the seas to the nunnes. Also, shewing and setting forth the misery of the whole Company of Stationers: and holding out rather a desolation to religion then a reformation; as more at large appears both in our ministers and churches, in these sad times, when blasphemy, negromancy, popery, and all heresies be printed and publiquely sold, in a most horrid manner without controll or punishment. , London : Printed for the author, 1652.

The man who had been on the scaffold with Prynne now wanted more vigorous censorship. He calls on Parliament to use its powers in line with its professed beliefs:
“And now in regard our Honorable Parliament have made a greater profession for Reformation, then any heretofore, and have by Declarations declared in that kinde their exceeding care in demolishing Images, Pictures in windowes, and burning some Books that have been Popish and Erroneous…

He hints at the kind of punishments he’d like to see imposed, rebuking the godly but negligent authorities with a loaded comparison: about the Ranter Abiezer Coppe’s Fiery flying Roll, “where he terms the Holy Bible the Scripturian Whore: Was not one hanged in Qu. Elizabeths dayes for a Book not like that? Have I not seen many Books, that had they been published in the Bishops dayes, how had a man suffered?”

Sparke then comes to a delicious anecdote, where puritan idealism and commerce collide:
“I know, and with grief I speak it, I heard an Anabaptist (as he professeth himself) affirm to my face, when I told him I marveled he would print such a book, as he had then printed, and how he could in conscience publish a Book so erroneous: his answer was in these plain ungodly termes, he got by it, and well too; I told him although a man got never so much, yet he should have a care what he printed; his reply was thus, if the Devill himself should give him or bring him a Book that he was sure to get by, he would print it.”

The printer was being unduly cautious about the sales prospects for any book written by Satan (God, my part in his downfall?): the 17th century would have been collectively beside itself with excitement.

But to return to our main issue, Sparke has a lot to say about how lucrative the trade in Catholic books had been, and he tells the story of “Francis Ash a Book-binder and ingenious fellow, an excellent Workman, a strong and secret Papist (who) … Found an extraordinary Trade, especially to joyn pictures to the English Bible in 8vo which pictures he had from Mr Robert Peake, (who after went to Basing-house) so that Mr Ash after took a voyage to France for Popish Books, and pictures for the Bible, which the Papists so much extolled, so that now the Papists of late will have Bibles in English, and the Pope cannot avoid it, but so that all their sorts must have pictures, and I fear Popish notes: and by this means Ash grew into an extraordinary way to get Trade; I am credibly informed there, that in France he dealt for the Pictures of all the Popish sorts, and the most excellent, as of Vandikes Draft, and there bargained with an excellent workman Mr Hollard to ingrave and cut them…”

Ash made a lot of money from these Catholic readers willing to pay over the odds for an embargoed book: but when Parliamentary forces besieged Worcester, he hid his takings in the cess pit of his privy, and later ‘undertook to sift his Gold and Silver from the filth, by reason of which noisome smell he was suffocated’ (Sparke clearly approves of the fate of the man who pursued profits in such a disgusting way).

Sparke recommends John Gee’s The foot out of the snare (1624) for further details of the threatening tide of subversive Catholic books. Gee’s book contains “a catalogue of popish bookes lately dispersed in our kingdome”, which constitutes one of the most hilarious bibliographies you have ever seen: Gee lists the books printed, gives the inordinate prices charged for them, and also annotates the list with rancorous comments. (In another work, Gee lists the young English women who have recently fled abroad to become nuns, in that other threat to patriarchy.)
But it’s those Bibles with pictures which upset Sparke most. They are completely counter to the iconoclasm of which he approves, and they are luxury items that make money. Van Dyke, engraved by Wencelaus Hollar! And now, ‘Mr Hodnow in Covent-Garden continues the work on the pieces, fourteen are finished’, he reports, naming a name and giving a place, and obviously hoping to trigger an arrest.

However, this 1651 Bible, printed by the Company of Stationers, with cuts by a Catholic artist: I surmise that where Sparke complained, his fellow Stationers compromised. Sparke is very eloquent about the miserable decline of the stationers’ trade by the early 1650’s: with books printed abroad flooding the market (recall, that had been the basis of Sparke’s own business in Charles’ reign), home-based printers not making a pound a week, a London trade which (he asserts) spent £500 during the civil war printing pro-parliamentary materials not now supported by strong licensing to protect it, and large amounts of money being lost by printers on properly devout publications (he mentions a “Learned Reverend Divines Study” that cost at least £400 in production sold with stock moved on so cheaply that the publisher only made £60). “Our Reformation is now a Desolation”, he says, miserably.

So (I assume) the stationers, less fanatical than Sparke, set about to produce locally a Bible with pictures. It wasn’t a Popish plot, but more on the same lines as the Anabaptist printer who said he’d publish a book written by the devil if he thought there was money in it.

There must be a study of this 1651 Bible, and I admit my search has been rather cursory. The pictures are not bad, good by contemporary English standards, but the printing seems poor, or at least the EEBO copy is poorly inked. Unlike the informative illustrations in, Théodore de Bèze’s Amsterdam printed English Bible of 1633, they are pictorial in nature, as Sparke said. Sparke has an ODNB entry: apparently his will provided for pious books to be handed out to mourners at his funeral.