Wednesday, June 21, 2017

At the Eroica Britannia again

This has to have been be one of the most enjoyable days I've experienced in all my years of cycling. There can't be many days in Derbyshire where it's warm for a start at 7.15am. The weather was unbelievable, with the Peak District doing a brilliant impression of Tuscany. 

I was back at the Festival ground by (any bike rider will snort) 2.15pm. 

55 miles ... in seven hours? What can I say? I was making a day of it. The route is (cue singing nuns) Climb every Mountain, and a largish proportion of the ride is on trackways. The dozens of people fixing punctures just makes you think that you must ride slowly, picking an optimum line, for if you charge along, you are bound to puncture. 

Nor can you fly down the hills if your life depends on Weinmann centre-pull brakes. No problems with my famous Harry Hall, and its tubular tyres just might be a good idea when 'snakebite' punctures are so easily had. 

So, instead of wondering what kept me, I give myself maximum marks for correct pacing. My plan for the ride was to spin along on a small gear while possible, saving my beans for the climbs, and then ride every damn one of them without getting into real difficulties. Concentrate on enjoying the day, drink the free beer at the lunch stop, and, these things put together, not ending up wilted in a patch of shade under a tree, or foaming with sweat at the stops, being treated for cramp, or being cajoled along by quite anxious riding partners. There was quite a bit of that. In quite testing conditions, I cruised round. Slowly! 

I suppose all those years of club riding gives you a realistic perspective - gradually - on what is the best option. Ignore the clock, and I bossed this ride.

I was also stopping to take photographs. After the mid-point of the ride, the camera was so warm that some internal fogging blurred the lower right of the photographs. A selection follows, but first a professional shot of me crossing the Monsal Dale viaduct. Behind me, in the cool deep cutting just at the mouth of the tunnel, a glee club were singing 'Daisy, Daisy'. The brilliantly organised lunch stop was a couple of level miles ahead.

Riders on the High Peak Trail
High Peak trail still
Through a cutting

Top of Beeley Moor, before the big descent
Common spotted orchids on the Monsal Dale trail

On the descent into Hartington

Same road without the hallucinatory vehicle

Top of the track up from Hartington
The Eroica is the only mass participation ride I do. I treat it in a solipsistic fashion: the majority are far more involved in the whole event and its festival, ride in costumes (tweeds and wool socks remained popular), and with friends.

From Audax riding days, I'd tended to assume that the middle distance would be the most popular option, but in this year's tweak to the route, the middle length and short rides joined for the last couple of miles. Suddenly there was a barely-cycling army of stropping pre-teens, boys with limited bike-handling skills, and their hot and bothered parents. One concludes that, really, the short ride is the difficult one.

At the finish, I heard after a bit the name of Professor Steve Pudney announced. He's a man I've met, and whose Lands End to John O'Groats ride for charity on a bicycle precisely as old as himself I followed via his blog. He'd had his first experience as a  rider of proper cycling-induced cramp, of the yelping in pain lying on the roadside kind. I suggested to him that a free gin and tonic, or at least the tonic part, might help. The young woman helping work the Hendricks Gin promotion must have been a resting actress perfecting her saucy barmaid persona, and launched into a repertoire of risque cucumber quips. I quite enjoyed watching the role reversal. Hot, bothered but very correct male trying to cope with a barrage of not totally welcome banter from a young woman. But he avoided triggering intellectual cramps and came through this unexpected ordeal as he had the physical one.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Casualties of a Voyage, 1601-3

A casualty list:

“A note of the men’s names deceased out of the Dragon.

1 William Thomson. 2 Job Harket. 3 William Allin.
4 Raphe Arden. 5 Christopher Scot. 6 Edward Major.
7 Thomas May. 8 John Pegoune. 9 John Johnson.
10 Philip Salisbury. 11 Edmund Davies. 12 Richard Joanes.
13 Daniell Richardson. 14 John Clackson.15 Robert Poppe.
16 John Webbe. 17 John Humber. 18 William Burrowes.
19 Mathew Perchet. 20 Edward Keall. 21 Nicholas Williams.
22 Peter Bennet. 23 Leonard Nichols. 24 Robert Dame.
25 John Judson. 26 William Barker. 27 William Barret.
28 William Ridge. 29 Ralphe Salter. 30 Jeremy Gaufe.
31 Henry Thickpenny. 32 Henry Brigges. 33 Rice Williams.
34 Martine Topsaile. 35 M. William Bradbanke 36 Richard Androwes.
37 M. Thomas Pullin preacher. 38 Jeames Fullar. 39 William Winter.
40 William Hall. 41 John Hankin. 42 Richard Exame.
43 Robert Hill. 44 John Woodall. 45 John Jeane.
46 Robert Keachinman. 47 Jeames Caverly. 48 John Hope.
49 John Trincall. 50 John Duke.51 Martaine Cornelison.
52 Launslet Taylor. 53 John Settell. 54 William Burrowes.
55 Percevall Stradling. 56 John Harrice. 57 Frauncis Pormoth.
58 Edward Baddiford. 59 Thomas Price. 60 Phillip Goulding.
61 Roger Morrice. 62 Stephen Burdall. 63 Nicholas Ragwood.
64 George Wattes. 65 Myles Berry. 66 William Mounke.”

The list appears with three others in the last pages of this pamphlet:

A TRUE AND LARGE DISCOURSE OF THE VOYAGE OF THE WHOLE FLEETE OF SHIPS SET forth the 20. of Aprill 1601. by the Governours and Assistants of the East Indian Marchants in London, to the East Indies.

WHEREIN IS SET downe the order and manner of their trafficke, the discription of the Countries, the nature of the people and their language, with the names of all the men dead in the Voyage.
AT LONDON Imprinted for Thomas Thorpe, and are to be solde by William Aspley. 1603.

It’s hard to tell why. The other account of the voyage, A LETTER WRITTEN TO THE RIGHT worshipfull the Governours and Assistants of the East Indian Marchants in London; containing the estate of the East Indian Fleete, with the names of the chiefe men of note dead in the Voyage confined itself, as the title makes clear, to just the chief casualties, as they were seen, the ranking ships officers and merchants on board. The full list in this pamphlet includes two men given the honorific ‘Master’, among the ordinary seamen.

They were all embarked on the boat called ‘The Red Dragon’, previously called ‘The Scourge of Malice’ (by its first owner and commissioner, the Earl of Cumberland, who must have been reading too much 1590’s satire). This is an excellent Wikipedia page:

Bought off the Earl, the ship was re-named for this, the first fleet voyage of the East India Company (1601-3). The Red Dragon was a big ship, 600-900 tons, with 38 guns, much larger than the other main ships making up the fleet sent out, Hector (300 tons, whose crew suffered 37 casualties), Ascension (260 tons, 38 casualties), Susan (240 tons, 39 casualties).

The attrition rate on the flagship was lower, because the Commander of the flagship and the whole fleet, Sir James Lancaster, made his men drink lemon juice daily, so that they did not die of scurvy or suffer fatal debilitation by it leading to death. Lancaster’s report on this success was sent to the Admiralty, and promptly shelved and forgotten.

Lancaster, Sir James (1554/5–1618),

What did they die of, the casualties in this fleet?

Scurvy, dysentery, the calenture, they were lost overboard, or fell fatally, unspecified causes, tropical diseases after reaching their destination (“the countrie is very unwholsome, that almost it may be said of it, as it is said of Malacca, fewe come thether, but eyther loose hide or hayre: heere we lost ten or twelve men out of our ship.”)

Or they were the victims of the grossest negligence:

“The 27. day being Saterday, the lamentablest accident happened, that happened since wee departed England, and thus it was, Maister Winter the Maisters Mate of the Admiral dying, the rest of the Captaines and Maisters went to his burial and according to the order of the sea, there was 2. or 3. great ordinances discharged at his going a shoare, but the maister Gunner of the Admirall being not so carefull as he should have beene, unfortunately killed Maister Brand Captaine of the Ascention and the Boatswaines mate of the same ship, to the great danger of the Maister, his mate and another Marchant who were hurt and besprinckled with the bloud of these massacred men, so these men going to the buriall of another were themselves carryed to their owne graves.”

The Red Dragon (just) and the Hector survived to take part in the second (with Ascension and Susan) and third voyage. For the third voyage, the Red Dragon was commanded by William Keeling:

So, it was on this big ship that the purported performances of Hamlet and Richard II took place off Sierra Leone and Sumatra in 1607 and 1608.

This yarn about maritime Shakespeare productions has been comprehensively exploded by Jonathan Bate, who shows that ‘Ambrose Guntio’ was beyond all reasonable doubt a mask for the dread name of J P Collier. Collier removed the relevant pages (for the dates) of Keeling’s surviving diary for the voyage, and left in print under the unlikely alias this tasty and poisoned tit-bit for literary scholarship to rejoice over, all the way up to the third edition Arden Hamlet.
Bate, bless him, simply googled the pseudonym to locate other items published as by ‘Ambrose Guntio’, and found comprehensive and convincing overlap with work the forger published under his own name:

But the other way to have thought about it was likelihoods. You might have put on a Hamlet on a Cunard liner, or White Star line ship heading for India. But when every day was a battle with storm-damaged ships for crews debilitated by illness, malnutrition,  and dangerous labour, who was going to have the leisure to cast, distribute parts to, costume, commit to memory and play (or even spectate at) a Hamlet?

No doubt the East India Company did get a little better with more experience. But it’s just laughable to think that participants on a most prosperous and lucky voyage would have spare energy for this kind of nonsense. They had preachers on board too, and this first voyage gives us an instance of the more pious sort of performance they would have considered edifying, and we can imagine that events of this general nature were far more likely to have been conducted on the third voyage than a Shakespeare play:

“Before our departure from hence we had a Sermon and a Communion one a Sunday in the forenoone, and afternoone one of our men which was a Jew, was christened and called John, our Generall being his godfather.”

I still do not understand the full casualty list. The other pamphlet, which has less stress on the deaths and dangers, seems a more official sort of publication. I think women whose husbands had gone to sea were allowed to re-marry after three years with no news, so a list of men who hadn’t come back at all, rather than come back and absconded, would have been useful and humane.

It is delivered without reproaches: the East India Company is not condemned, they are new to this risky game too (they still had to work out that arriving in London with a galleon full of pepper would drive down the price of pepper).

The pamphlet reminds me of Donne’s ‘The Storm’ and ‘The Calm’ (though just how literary those poems look in the comparison), and of The Tempest (“wee continued here two monethes and eight dayes, having for the most part every daye fearefull thunder, raine and lightenning, as the like is not heard in our countrey, for they haue many slaine with the thunder which maketh them make hast to gette home before night. The people are very industrious and take great paines, both in setting of Rice which groweth there in great quantytie, so that there is whole stackes thereof, as also in beating and winnowing the same. They weave such thinges as they weare about their bodyes beeing made of the barke of trees. Their houses are but meane, standing halfe a yarde from the ground and covered with leaues, with a hoale at one ende of the same house to creepe in at on their knees. They love Wine exceedingly, with which they will bee very drunke”).

The things those lost men saw - or if they were unlucky on the way out, almost got to see! Elephants with their boy mahouts, the Sultan of Aceh’s damsels dancing in their bracelets and jewels, even mermaids (“The 13. day we saw two Marmaides, and as we judged them, they were Male and Female, because the Mosse of one of their heads was longer then the other, their heades are very round, and their hinder parts are devided like two legges, they say they are signes of stormy weather; and so we found it”). 

If Henry Thickpenny was one of the few to bear the Thickpenny name, as this site below seems to indicate he may have been, maybe he’d had good value for being a Thickpenny:

And if Methusalem Mountjoy (dead on the Ascention) had only a short life, it was certainly intense. Everybody on this crazily dangerous voyage deserved a monument somewhere, and the printing press of Thomas Thorpe provided it - it would later produce a more famous memorialisation (of sorts), without a name at all.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Lady Jane Gerard ‘the most Ingenious and true vertuosa'

The Bodleian library has just announced the purchase of this letter sent by the enterprising Edward Millington to Lady Jane Gerard in 1673:

I really haven't very much to add to what the curators announce at the URL above. But here's my go at a full transcript of the letter:

In Pursuance of my promise of giving an exact account of all the English authors of Witchcraft both for and against I gave you when I was last with you  & Sold you a parcel of books <I gave> an imperfect one) to which may be added these that follow.
Vid[elicet] Dr Dees relation of his actions with spirits - - -  in a folio
[margin] price 12 shillings
Ady’s Candle in the Darknes 4mo
[margin] 2 shillings and 6 pence
Lavater of Walking Ghosts & spirits 4mo fo[lio]
[margin] 2 shillings and 6 pence
with 2 other movd of the Same Subject w[hi]ch, if your Ladyship be desirous to see I shall send or bring

From your humble Servant Edward Millington at the bible in Little Brittain
Lond Novemb[er] 29 1673"

It is of course fascinating to see a woman collecting "English authors of Witchcraft both for and against". In the Restoration period debate was intense: for the sceptical side, works by Thomas Ady, the 1665 reprint of Scot, John Wagstaffe's The question of witchcraft debated with its expanded second edition both published by Millington (1669 and 1671), while the veracity of witchcraft was asserted by Casaubon, Glanvill, Drage, and in R. T.'s answer to Wagstaffe, The opinion of witchcraft vindicated. Jane Gerard clearly wanted to apprise herself of both sides of the question. If only we knew what conclusions she came to, and why.

My title comes from her chaplain Samuel Gilbert's Fons sanitatis (1676). This is the full context:

"This Spring was first taken notice of, and several experiments tryed with it, by the most Ingenious and true vertuosa, that Right Honourable Lady Jane Gerard, Baroness of Bromley, of Sandon in Staffordshire, whose Charitable care and charge, in damming it out from the common Water, into which it delivered it self, (a large Pool through which the River Terne runs, taking its beginning about half a mile above it,) causing it to be divided into two large Baths; the one for Men, the other for Horses."

Gilbert lists alphabetically the cures effected by the spring, and stresses that "there is no price taken for any quantities at the Well" and that, while it was better to drink the water direct at the source, Lady Gerard had authentic water from her spring bottled and sealed with the coat of arms of her son, to prevent cheats selling adulterated, mixed, or common water to the sick.

So, Lady Jane Gerard sounds open-minded, intellectually active, and keen to promote the therapeutic waters she had discovered without seeking to profit from them. In a way, to be a woman who thinks she has discovered a remarkable cure for the sick - both men and horses - goes with having a wary interest in what was being said about witchcraft. New forms of cure, be they by stroking, 'warming stones', or sympathetic magic, were always liable to denunciation as diabolic in origin and as products of a lack of acceptance of God's will or distrust in the power of prayer (etc.). Looking out healing springs to rival the waters of Bath, as John Aubrey busied himself doing, was more innocuous. Even so, Lady Gerard's public-spirit and refusal to profit is strongly emphasised, she is a 'vertuosa' who has tried experiments on the efficacy of the spring.

Her chaplain's word for her, 'vertuosa' is in the OED as (sense 1) "A morally virtuous or highly esteemed woman" from 1652. Samuel Gilbert wants this association, but has developed the meaning towards OED sense 2, "A female virtuoso (in various senses); esp. a woman who is highly accomplished in music or other arts" from 1754. His precise intermediate sense, to suggest a female member or associate of the virtuosi, is not recognised in the dictionary, but was in use. Talking about static electricity in women's hair, Robert Boyle wrote of a very fair lady who helped his observations with her own that she was "no ordinary Virtuosa" (1675); the absurd Lady Vaine in Shadwell's The Sullen Lovers offers various potential cures to the atrabilious Emilia, while complacently calling herself "a Virtuosa".

So, at a time when as the virtuosi of the Royal Society were discussing witchcraft, so the virtuosa Lady Jane Gerard wanted to make herself informed of both sets of arguments. It was not always easy to source books: "I pray you lay hold on Dr Dee for mee", John Beale implored Samuel Hartlib in 1658.

Millington himself was a smart operator. In this letter, he is indeed sourcing second hand books, but soon he would be leading an operation that bought "the libraries of ... eminent persons deceased". The practice he finally settled on was then to distribute a free catalogue to selected coffee houses, and then conduct the announced auction himself. The EEBO copy of his catalogue for the sale of the books of Gijsbert Voet in 1678 is the most meticulously annotated text I have seen, a collector or perhaps collector's agent noting prices from other auctions in his (or indeed her) copy (figures in a box or circled denote other auction prices):

Thursday, June 01, 2017

“What it is for one who was the Member of Christ, to make himself the Member of a Harlot?” Robert Foulkes, cleric and murderer, 1679.

“A deep measure of Repentance, a greater proportion of Sorrow is certainly required of Consecrated persons…”

Following on from my interest in Nathanial Butler, I here pursue another ‘dying penitent’ whose story came to be bracketed with his in publications like William Turner’s A compleat history of the most remarkable providences both of judgment and mercy (1697) and George Meriton’s Immorality, debauchery, and profaneness, exposed to the reproof of Scripture (1698). This was the appalling case of Robert Foulkes, minister of Stanton Lacy in Shropshire. Foulkes’ story has been told repeatedly, both in contemporary pamphlets and slightly later 18th century publications, by David Turner (who also wrote the brief ODNB life) in English Masculinities, 1660-1800, in Peter Klein’s The Temptation & Downfall of the Vicar of Stanton Lacy, and by Elizabeth Round, aka the blogger ‘History Geek’ .

Foulkes was a Restoration era clergyman, arriving in Stanton Lacy in 1660. There, he seems to have litigated aggressively for prompt and full tithe payments, been excessively given to drink (he would later claim that his sessions at taverns at least began with necessary meetings with parties to his litigation), and he fornicated round his parish as opportunity offered, while (it was said) beating his wife on suspicion that she had acted on a personal conclusion that what was sauce for the gander was also sauce for the goose.

Fatally, his Anglican predecessor in the parish, Thomas Atkinson, had in 1657 left his unmarried daughter Anne in some kind of guardianship to his successor as minister. So in 1660 she came under Foulkes’ control. Foulkes said with some disingenuousness that “Her Father was a Gentleman whom I never saw, or had the least Intercourse with”. This was probably in a narrow sense true, but it omits the fact that the victim of his seduction was herself a daughter of the parish’s previous minister.

Foulkes later wrote this about the daughter of the Reverend Atkinson: “The Devil had prepared for me a sad companion and partner in my debaucheries; she was easily tempted by me, and proved afterward a constant temptation to me, and has been the great occasion of this dismal conclusion of our wretched course of life.” It seems then that part of Foulkes’ successful efforts towards a posthumous rehabilitation involved putting the blame on the young woman.

From a different point of view, the author of A true and perfect relation of the tryal and condemnation, execution and last speech of that unfortunate gentleman Mr. Robert Foulks late minister of a parish near Ludlow in Shropshire (anonymous, but by style and type of reference probably by the Patrick Kilborne who wrote The execution of Mr. Rob. Foulks, late minister of Stanton-Lacy in Shropshire with some account of his most penitent behaviour, confession, last speech &c.) had this to say about the seduction of Anne:

“it was prov’d that Mr Foulks was left Guardian to the Gentlewoman Arraign’d with him, and making use of some Authority might be challenged from that trust, he with that, and urgent intreaties, gaind so far on her, as at last to debauch her to his bed, and had used that familiarity so often that at last she prov’d with Child.”

Foulkes vehemently denied that he had attempted to ‘vitiate’ Anne when she was just nine. But he does not indicate what age she was when their relationship began. Maybe Anne was nine when her father died, twelve when Foulkes became her guardian in 1660.

The extra-marital affair was notorious by 1673, and continued even though the Bishop of Hereford intervened in 1676 to try to forbid Foulkes from spending any time alone with Anne Atkinson. But, as Foulkes said of himself, he was “a very slave to my lust, and in absolute vassalage to my flesh.” Attempts to prove that she had already given birth to a child by Foulkes, the baby farmed out to somewhere in Wales, could not be proven, with the embattled cleric denying the charges. Foulkes rather believably asserts that with his reputation under such strain, he actually became a far better clergyman – he had previously been negligent in the official part of his duties, now he tried to face down his critics by a display of proper clerical behaviour (yes, as he admits, apart from the continued adultery):

“to palliate and hide my sin the more, I studied to be more elaborate and zealous in my Preaching, to the great satisfaction of my Hearers; only I seldom medled with, or but very tenderly touched my own beloved sin; I went about all the parts of my Ministerial duty so carefully, and discharged them with such approbation, that the judgments of many charitable and well-meaning persons not only acquitted me of the vices I stood charged with, but I deluded their good opinion into some thoughts of my innocency and virtue.”

By 1678 Anne was pregnant (possibly for the second time). As she approached term, Foulkes took her to London. He would admit that he was seeking a late abortion. Anne came to term, however. Foulkes refused to let her have any midwife’s help. She delivered a baby daughter. Foulkes cut the baby’s throat, and disposed of the body in the ‘house of office’, shoving it down the privy apparently in the belief that the drain would carry the corpse away into the nearby river. Foulkes then returned to Shropshire. According to Kilborne (if he is the author of A true and perfect relation), Anne had to confess to an attendant of her that she had given birth to a child, and one is left to presume that questions as to the baby’s whereabouts led to her confessing what Foulkes had done.

We cannot know to what extent he acted on his own initiative, or what level of consent she gave. Foulkes had vehemently denied the relationship, which he had always tried to keep as “an Arcanum between my partner and myself”. The baby was evidence that he could not allow to exist. In a perverse way, preserving the reputation of the cloth perhaps helped steel him to his brutality. Later, he would award himself repentance points for grieving that he had killed an unbaptised child, noting that nobody else had pointed this out. I would not like to try to imagine more despicable conduct. Foulkes and Atkinson had clearly engaged in a long-lasting affair, and nothing could keep them apart. But he took her new-born baby and murdered it.

Foulkes himself can account for what happened by facile and predictable recourse to a discourse of Satan and the sinner hardening in sin: “Having by many former repeated acts, arrived at last to a habit in sinning, my Conscience became so seared and past feeling … [the murder of the baby] required a conscience of full proof in Satans service to attempt it.”

Kilborne’s account (if it is him) of their exposure, trial and judgement is succinct:
“the indisposition of the green woman, gave her attendant sufficient evidence she had been Delivered of a Child, which at last she confest; and it being thus positively prov’d against him, he was Condemned, and she not in the least consenting to the murder, was both pittied and acquitted.”
‘Green woman’ is not in the OED in this sense, but it was a 17th century idiom for a woman who had recently given birth.

Foulkes, though strenuously repentant, and accepted as penitent, was in fact rancorous to the end. He would assert that Anne was party to the ‘Fact’, the murder, and exploited the courtroom’s propriety to get herself freed:

“There is some offence taken, as I hear, at my Charging her with what she denied at our Trial, she did indeed say, That she knew Nothing of the Fact, for which we were Questioned, which she demonstrated by Arguments that could not modestly be spoken in that place, without such unsavoury and noisom demonstrations: I affirm, Upon the word of a dying Man, That both her Eyes did see, and her Hands did Act in all that was done: I am dead in Law, and I know my sayings are no Evidence against her; but the next time we meet at the Bar, which we shall infallibly do, and two thousand Witnesses shall be produced against us, that is, Her Conscience and Mine, these things will be found to be true; and as such I assert them, as I shall suddenly answer it before the All-seeing and Heart-searching God.”

So, the man who cut the throat of the baby and shoved the body down a privy objects that she maintained her innocence (convincing the court) by “unsavoury and noisom demonstrations” and “Arguments that could not modestly be spoken in that place”.

Anne went back to Stanton Lacy after this shattering experience. The ODNB life explains that the Church of England finally found a way to punish her: “She was eventually excommunicated in 1682 after William Lloyd, now bishop of St Asaph, wrote to Archbishop William Sancroft to complain that her evasion of punishment stood as a disgrace to the church.”

I should hope or imagine that Anne did not distress herself too much about excommunication from an institution that had brought such disaster to her life.

But William Lloyd was the interesting figure in Foulkes’ last days. Gilbert Burnet was also involved in this intense process - Burnet was going to be busier with John Wilmot, Lord Rochester’s death bed conversion (or madness, or mockery) in 1679-80.

For Lloyd, Foulkes was a public relations disaster for the Church of England. How could the Church reprehend what Foulkes terms “the too too fashionable sin of Uncleanness” in court libertines, scoffers and atheists, when a clergyman has committed depravities beyond the worst rake in a Wycherley play? Fornication, infanticide, rumours that the cleric had argued Anne into bed with him using instances of Old Testament polygamy, hard drinking – and all this in a minister who had litigated ferociously for payment of tithes. Foulkes had to be (as we would say), ‘spun’, and who better to do the spinning than Foulkes himself?

After his sentence, Foulkes had just a few days before stepping onto the gallows, so influence was exerted to get him a nine day stay of execution, and during this time Foulkes had to repent, floridly. I am sure that repentance was in Foulkes too, but this was a self-interested man, bullying, devious and self-pitying. He does not seem to have realised until told by Dr Lloyd that his mission was to exonerate the church. The church, in return, would forgive his sins, and send him off to face judgement with a reasonable hope of joining King David (the chosen biblical model) in heaven:
“Thus ended this unfortunate Gentleman, who by the temptations of Satan was brought like Holy David into the horrid sin of Adultery, but as his sin resembled his so did his Repentance, and we hope they are both now singing Hallelujahs in the glorious Region of Eternal joy” - even Kilborne (if it is him writing a pamphlet that is relatively sympathetic to Anne Atkinson) ends with this thought.

By any normal view, Foulkes should have kept quiet till death, annihilated by his own hypocrisy, exposure and ignominy. There was nothing he could say for himself. But Lloyd pushed him in a direction he was all too willing to go, towards an attempt to exonerate the church and, at a personal level, manifest the required exemplary penitence. Foulkes obliged by fasting, and trying to forgo sleeping – so as to make the fullest use of his repentance time. What was predictable, and something his clerical advisers seem to have given encouragement to, was that Foulkes would palliate his own crimes by blaming Anne.

Foulkes had acquired a team of minders, who would keep him ‘on message’, managing both his oral and written confessions (different versions of what he said on the gallows appear in different pamphlets, it is very obvious that material was scripted as appropriate to him). They kept on the job too, eminent clergymen riding in a coach with him to the gallows, and presiding over the burial his body - nocturnally - after it was over.

Foulkes’ repellent pamphlet is the main production. An alarme for sinners containing the confession, prayers, letters, and last words of Robert Foulkes, late minister of Stanton-Lacy in the County of Salop, who was tryed, convicted and sentenced at the sessions in the Old Bayly, London, January 16th, 1678/9, and executed the 31st following: with an account of his life / published from the original written with his own hand, during his reprieve, and sent by him at his death to Doctor Lloyd. He is minded to, or has been prompted to apologise to everyone except the person on whom he’d inflicted most damage, Anne Atkinson. The Bishop of London, his successor in the parish, his wife, his children, his parishioners (he forgives them!).

Foulkes makes a bold appeal to God: he hopes the Almighty will be happy to have so penitent a true believer in heaven. He also seems to insinuate that God will want to assure Foulkes of his salvation by way of helping the Church of England clear itself of disgrace:

“I humbly submit to thy Justice in my Death; but I most Earnestly pray that I may be delivered from Eternal Death and Everlasting Burnings; and when my Soul is departed from this vile Body, Let it be brought into thy Presence, that I may Bless and Glorifie thy Name Eternally; for the Riches of thy Grace and Mercy which has so Abounded towards me. And for thy Names sake role away the Reproach from thine Heritage, and thine own Tribe, which I have brought upon it.”

Anne is right in his firing line. He pretends to some reluctance, but says that he has been encouraged to believe that it is right to give his response to things that were said in court, so giving “Satisfaction to those who were at my Tryal, and may have their belief warpt to uncharitableness, by the Confidence of my fellow Criminal’s Accusations, and the Moderation of My Answers.”

He impugns Anne without shame or check; and when he turns to his readership to generalise, his facile warnings about whores and whoredom are just too obvious instances of blame-shuffling:
“Open your eyes therefore, and not only look, but contemplate upon these dreadful and tragick instances, oh Adulterers and Adulteresses, and be not ensnared with a Whores charms”
Men must all “avoid the Snares of a whorish woman”.
He feels entitled by his repentance to address his eldest daughter:
“Betty, remember Modesty and Chastity are great Ornaments of a Woman, I charge thee on my blessing to preserve them; Thou art old enough to observe what ruine and destruction Whoredom makes in the world”.

As I mentioned, he addresses his former parishioners, arguing quite openly that if they had paid their tithes when due, there would not have been so much bad blood in the parish, and he might not have come to such disgrace. He asks their forgiveness, and magnanimously gives them his own:
“I hope to obtain my pardon of God, and I believe you will not deny me yours, as I do freely and heartily grant you mine.”

The abhorrent cynicism, the manipulation, the victim-blaming in this stage-managed repentance seem not to have been noticed. The Church acquired a notable penitent, and excommunicated his primary victim. Nobody argued that Foulkes might be in a state of attrition rather than contrition. Foulkes exploited fully a rhetoric that was left unexamined and unchallenged: “Let the Circumstances of my Condition add weight to my Words; Dying men have no Temptation to warp them from Sincerity”. 

He’d had every inducement and encouragement:
“I was indeed at a great Contest with my Self, whether I should by my Silence submit, and so Consent to some untrue Reflections that were cast upon me in a Place so Publick, in a Concern so Great, and to my Prejudice so Fatal; about this I had great tossings in my thoughts for three or four days since my Sentence. Loth I was to lye under a greater Load of Ignominy than belonged to me; my Burden was big Enough of it Self without any such Additions. Whilst I was thus Irresolute I received the Credit as well as the Comfort of a Visit from a Reverend Person: to him I Communicated my doubts, and from him receiv'd this Resolution, that I may Lawfully Acquit myself of any unjust Aspersions.”

All this was predicated on Foulkes’ willingness to die, having said the right things. Two versions of his scaffold speech exist: he is made to say what his clerical minders wanted him to say. Those who accompanied him in the coach were keeping up the pressure; I suppose they did not trust him, if left alone in a cart, not to backslide into tears, denials, mutenessor resistance.

This is the account of Foulkes’ speech on the scaffold in A true and perfect relation of the tryal and condemnation, execution and last speech of that unfortunate gentleman Mr. Robert Foulks late minister of a parish near Ludlow in Shropshire, who received sentence of death in London, for murder and adultery.

The EEBO copy of this pamphlet is a faint grey one, and this page in particular almost impossible to read accurately. I did my best with it:

“My Friends and Brethren
I am deservedly brought hither this day to suffer Death for a crime which deserves that Punishment by the Law, and I thank my great God I am too conscious of my own guilt in the least to deny but that both by the Laws of God and man, I have thereby forfeited that Life which I am now going to lay down the horrid sin that I was sentenced for was its true very great in itself, but yet is much aggravated being done by one of my Function or Calling, and it is one of the greatest fears I have now left me in the world, least my Example should contract any contemplation the Renowned Clergy-men of England. Ah, Sirs, it was not the Church, but one of her unworthy members that committed this heinous offence; and therefore whatsoever you think me, for God’s sake let her remain pure and unblemisht, as indeed she is, in your hearts and minds: Had I followed the wholesome Principles she enjoyns, both me and all men too, I had not been in this place upon this occasion; but here are  several Learned and pious Ministers that can in part manifest my cordial and    unfeigned sorrow, for having thus shamefully offended both God and her; and I hope the great God, whose face I trust I shall in a few minutes behold, doth both see my contrition, and will through the benefits of the blood of Jesus accept me for it. O therefore I beseech you, if my ill Example has disrepresented her, let my late Penitence and dying hatred and abhorrency of so black a sin recommend her again to your practice and obedience, without which you must never expect to be happy.

His speech was much longer, but the greatness of the crowd hindered us from hearing all, but the substance we have here related. After he had done he pray’d very earnestly, and then freely submitted to the execution of the Sentence.

His corps was privately brought back in a Coach that Evening and decently buried at St Giles in the Fields.”

During his trial, Foulkes had lapsed into his old ways. He mentions a particular rebuke, and in the shock of its acuity, goes some way to admitting its justice. But he then tries to cover his behaviour with a flimsy excuse: “The day after my Sentence there came to visit the Prisoners one Mr. Smith the Ordinary of Newgate. He was pleased to tell me (but in Private) that he observed me at my Tryal Gazing about the Court and the Galleries, where Sate several Gentlewomen. I confess I was formerly too apt to delight in such sights, and let in abundance of Sin at those windows of my Soul; but at that time I had other thoughts and Apprehensions: the cause of that diversion was to spy out some Witnesses I thought Material.”

A party of strong-minded women should have been allowed to tumble Foulkes’ body into a shallow grave at a remote crossroads.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Swarms of flies, and a holy exterminator

My images are of stained glass now in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Shrewsbury. The panels, purchased by the Reverend William Gorsuch Rowland in the second quarter of the 19th century, were originally in the Altenberger Dom (North Rhine, Westphalia). When the Abbey was suppressed in the secularisation of Germany in 1803, the windows were removed, and available for purchase by the Reverend.

The panels depict the life and some of the miracles of St Bernard of Clairvaux. St Bernard, especially during the headlong rush to catastrophe that the Second Crusade he so fervently promoted proved to be, had many miracles associated with him. We do not have here the lactation of St Bernard, when breast milk from a statue of the virgin flew into his eye and cured him of an eye infection, but what is presumably one of the lesser of the reputed 840 miracles, the miracle of the flies.

On July 11th 1121, St Bernard had gone to dedicate a new Abbey for his Cistercian Order at Foigny. It proved to be infested with flies, so the saint excommunicated the flies. and they were dead by the next morning.

Here, the saint pronounces his malediction. I love the stupefied Medieval faces. Equally good is the face of the chap tasked with sweeping out the bodies of the flies. An angel with a holy feather duster seems to have helped, but is letting the peasant chap get on with the dirty work:

Swarms of flies were of course taken as portents, like unusual atmospheric effects, landslides, lightning strikes, etc. Nobody would be so rude as to say to the Saint that these ephemeroptera usually died within hours.

EEBO provides this Royalist ballad of 1647. A swarm of flies in Bodmin is seen as a preludes to the plagues of Egypt that will be visited by the Lord upon the nation
Strange and true Newes of an Ocean of Flies dropping out of a Cloud, upon the Towne of Bodnam in Cornwall.

To the Tune of Cheevy Chase.
When Kings have lost their Reignes and Power, 
Then Clouds upon us judgements showre. 

Some talke of battailes in the aire, 
And Comets in the skies, 
But now wee·ll tell a tale more rare, 
Of great and monstrous flies. 

In Cornwall this strange sight was seen, 
At Bodman Towne by name, 
Which will be justified still 
By a Lawyer of great fame. 

At mid-day· when the skie was cleare, 
A thick cloud did arise, 
Which failing downe upon the earth, 
Dissolved into flies. 

The hell-bred Cloud did look so big, 
So black and did so loure, 
It could not rest untill her Panch 
Those flies all out did poure. 

They in such mighty numbers fell 
Upon the green grasse ground, 
And did so cover all the earth, 
That nought else could be found. 

Their numbers did increase so fast, 
Almost a whole houres space, 
That they a foot and more were seen, 
To cover all that place. 

No grasse, nor flowers for the time, 
Were seen for to appeare, 
The like was not in England knowne, 
God knowes this many a yeare. 

Their bodys green, their wings were white 
As it appeares most true, 
By Letters sent from Bodnam Towne, 
By those we never knew. 

These flies as soon as they were borne 
Fell dead upon the ground; 
And to say truth· they lay so thick, 
The like was never found. 

Which made the people all to muse, 
To see that gastly sight, 
Which did continue on the ground 
All that whole day and night. 

The second Part,
To the same Tune. 

So when the Lord was pleas'd to frowne, 
And shew his powerfull hand 
He rained Frogs and Lice upon 
All the Aegyptian land. 

All which was for their sinnes so great, 
So wicked, fowle and dire, 
They did deserve the judgement just 
Of Brimstone and of fire. 

And yet they never did rebell 
Against their King and Crowne· 
Nor had such vices in their streets 
As hath our London Towne, 

Who hath maintain'd this bloudy warre 
Against a Cause so just; 
And have destroyed their gracious Prince 
For to maintaine their lust. 

Wherefore repent you Citizens, 
And take you warning all· 
Lest that the Heavens in discontent 
In Thunder on you fall. 

In Lice and Locusts Wormes and Frogs, 
In Raine in Haile and Stormes· 
In Lightning Plague and Pestilence, 
In Poxes and in Hornes. 

Now if these Plagues you will prevent, 
Which will your corne destroy, 
See that you presently repent, 
And sing Vive le Roy. 

God grant us Peace, which will not be 
Unlesse our gracious King 
Enjoy his rights and dignities, 
His Queen and every thing. 

God send Sir Thomas Fairfax right, 
And send us our Areares, 
And bring the King to Towne againe 
Sans jealousies and feares. 

In Henry Jessey's 1660 pamphlet, The Lords loud call to England: being a true relation of some late, various, and wonderful judgments, or handy-works of God, by earthquake, lightening, whirlewind, great multitudes of toads and flyes, both hatchling toads and flies act of direct rebukes from heaven on a lord of the manor who allowed die-hard Puritans to be abused:

A Company of Christians going to a meeting, and at their private meeting at Fairford in Glocestershire, which is about four miles on this side Cirencester, (called Ciceter) on the 24. of Iune 1660. Being the first day of the week, they were much abused by some of that Town, in a rude manner.

The Lord of the Manor there stood looking on, and did not in the least suppress the rude multitude, but appeared rather to countenance them.

In the Evening of that same 24 day, there was seen coming up from the Mill-lane great multitudes of small Toads, they that saw them said, that there might have been taken up many Cowls full of them. And as they were going they divided themselves into two bodies. First, one Body, or Division of them, went to the Lord of the Mannors house, (which was about one Acers Length, from the place where they were first seen) They come up through his Orchard, and went under Illegible word Gate into the inward court, and some did indeavour to pre|vent their coming into his house, but could not, though they killed many of them. They Illegible word into his Kithin, and Cellar: and the next morning there went an honest man to the house, about business, and did see the servants looking on them, and took notice of them, that they lay thick on the ground, and being smal, judged they were many thousands of them.
And Secondly, The other Body or Division of the Toads, went to a Iustice of the peace his house, a little way off; and went into his Barn, to his amazement, there being by providence also an honest man the next morning, who saw the Toads in great abundance, and heard the Iustice say, that it was a judgment upon them for suffering the boyes to abuse those honest men in the Town, and no man can tell whence these Toads came.

About a Fortnight after in the same Town, these Christians were again sorely abused, and the next Friday fortnight after, there appeared in the Lord of the Manors Orchard, a great swarme of Flyes, about the bigness of Caddus Flies, with long wings; they that saw them said they might have taken up baskets of them, and the same day also, an honest Christian man saw the Lord of the Mannors Garden covered with these Flies, in heaps like unto swarms of Bees

This single sheet newsletter of 1675 is content to treat a swarm as a prodigy

Here, the gentle-spirited microscopist Jan Swammerdam describes his experience of the nymph of the mayfly, and below that, its unique double moult, from subimago to imago:

"Concerning the Nature of this Creature, I pretend to little experience thereof, only I can assure you that among all the diverse sorts of Insects I have been acquainted with, I never met with one better natured and more harmless than this; for how often or how much soever it is touched or handled, it seemeth always to be well pleased; and left at rest, it immediately betaketh to its work of making its Cell. Only I have ob|served in the smallest sort, that when they are handled somewhat too hard, they bend their head toward their breast, and thereby make themselves as it were stiffer: Among all its actions, none is more strange than the motion of its Gills, of which it hath on each side of its body
Six, which are moved so orderly and continually trembling, that it is admirable.

Being in the year 1670. in the Village Slouton by Amsterdam in the month of June, where as I walked towards the Evening through the Fields, I met with such an infinite number of small Insects somewhat bigger than Gnats, which rested on my body, that I was even covered therewith. Every one of these while resting on my body shed a thin Film, which done they immediately repaired again to the waters, where they, like the greater Ephemeron sport above the Surface of the water. The Original of these Insects is not much unlike that of our Ephemeron, for that they also live in Ditches and Trenches of water, which also at their set times Change by shedding two Skins; the one in the water, the other on Land.

Ephemeri vita, or, The natural history and anatomy of the Ephemeron, a fly that lives but five hours written originally in Low-Dutch by Jo. Swammerdam ... 1681

We still report a good swarming: