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Anne Lady Southwell

Folger Shakespeare Library, MS V.b.198

British Library Lansdowne MS 740

Anne Southwell's poetry

1. Folger Shakespeare Library, MS V.b.198

Poetry by Anne Southwell, a strongly Calvinist writer, appears in two extant manuscripts. It is possible that they were both assembled under the supervision of Southwell herself and/or her second husband Henry Sibthorpe.

As well as secular and religious poetry by Southwell, the Folger manuscript contains a wide range of miscellaneous material: verse from songbooks and poems by Henry King, Arthur Gorges and Walter Ralegh (none attributed correctly), prose texts by Southwell and others and memoranda of various kinds, including 'A List of my Bookes' (Cavanaugh 1967). The manuscript is written in many different hands - including Southwell's own, an angular, informal italic - and on several different types of paper. The manuscript was in the library of the Southwells, the family of Lady Anne's first husband, when it was offered for sale by a bookseller in 1834. Having belonged to two other collectors, it was purchased by the founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1927. A complete edition of the manuscript has recently been published (Southwell 1997).

The manuscript, a large folio, was first used in the 1580s by John Sibthorpe - presumably a relative of Henry's - to transcribe financial military records. John left most leaves blank and it has been conjectured that Henry may have presented Southwell with the book, for her own use, on the occasion of their marriage in 1626 (Cavanaugh 1967, 244). The first page is headed, in a scribe's hand, 'The workes of the Lady Ann Sothwell: Decemb 2o 1626'. Texts were written in the book in many different hands, most of them apparently those of Southwell/Sibthorpe amanuenses, with sporadic corrections and additions by Southwell herself. Most of this copying took place in the last years of Southwell's life, from 1631 to 1636, starting at both ends of the manuscript: by and large, poetry was written at the front of the volume, prose at the end. Bits of paper containing other miscellaneous texts linked to Southwell were inserted later (or 'tipped in') at an unknown date or dates. The book now contains 74 leaves. The most notable tipped-in addition is a collection of long verse meditations by Southwell on the decalogue (the Ten Commandments): scribally-copied poems corrected by the author together with related rough drafts in her own hand (Southwell's only extensive writing in the manuscript). Decalogue meditations are also found in the Lansdowne manuscript (for which see below). Those tipped into the Folger miscellany (poems on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth commandments) seem to have been written in James I's reign (1603-25), well before the compilation of the bulk of the manuscript. The final two leaves in the manuscript contain, on tipped-in leaves, material which must postdate Southwell's death: two versions of an epitaph on her (composed and possibly written out by Henry Sibthorpe) together with verse eulogies by Sibthorpe and Roger Cox, curate of Acton.

Roger Cox is one of many associates of Southwell's mentioned in the Folger miscellany. He was clearly an important contact, for one of Southwell's poems praises his Hebdomada Sacra (1630), a book of verse meditations on nativity week, and two of his sermons were copied into the manuscript. Southwell also refers to Cox's superior, Daniel Featley, the absentee rector of Acton and a prominent author of religious works. Other patrons and associates include the poet Francis Quarles (Dove 1998), Cicely, Lady Ridgway (for whom Southwell wrote a prose defence of poetry (Cavanaugh 1984), a mock elegy and an epitaph, all of them included in the Folger manuscript), Viscount Falkland, and Bernard Adam, Bishop of Limerick.

Burke and Klene argue that the manuscript - both the original book and the insertions - was assembled by Henry Sibthorpe as a kind of posthumous testament to his wife's poetic skills (Burke 2002, 112-113; Southwell 1997; Klene 2000). Burke suggests that the inclusion in the manuscript of poems not by Southwell herself 'may be her husband's attempt to make her more prolific than she was' (Burke 2002, 95). Longfellow proposes that Sibthorpe presented the manuscript to the Southwells, a wealthy family, in an attempt 'to curry favour with his wife's in-laws' (Longfellow 2004).

All the poems included in this selection are from the main volume of the manuscript (i.e. not the tipped-in leaves). In many cases, it is difficult to tell one hand from another, and the hand classification made by Southwell's modern-day editor, Jean Klene (Southwell 1997, 117-23) - broadly followed here - should not be regarded as definitive.

2. British Library, Lansdowne MS 740, fols 142r-167v

The most substantial verse written by Southwell is her incomplete sequence of long meditative poems on the Ten Commandments. Southwell's decalogue poetry occurs in both the Folger miscellany (described above) and in one section of British Library Lansdowne MS 740 (a collection of seventeenth-century literary manuscripts bundled together at a later period). The Lansdowne volume was sold to the British Museum library (now the British Library) in 1807 by the first Marquess of Lansdowne, having at some earlier stage been in the collection of the antiquary Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725) (Klene 2000, 183). Its earlier history is unknown and its current binding nineteenth-century.

Each of Southwell's decalogue poems takes its starting point from a commandment, but rapidly digresses, taking in material apparently very remote from the commandment in question. A major influence on the poetry is Du Bartas's Divine Weeks and Works in Joshuah Sylvester's popular translation (1592-1608). A nineteenth-century bookseller's catalogue lists a manuscript (now lost) as 'Lectures on the Commandments and Moral Ethics, the Collections of Lady Anne Southwell' (Burke 2002, 97). Perhaps this manuscript contained a complete sequence of decalogue poetry by Southwell. Alternatively, it may have contained prose texts by Southwell and/or others on the commandments - the raw material for Southwell's decalogue poetry.

The Lansdowne manuscript, a scribal fair copy, opens with a verse dedication by Southwell to 'the kinges most excellent Majestye', followed by meditations on the third commandment ('Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain') and the fourth commandment ('Remember the Sabbath day to keepe it holy'). Meditations on the same commandments in the Folger manuscript are radically different and, Klene (2000) and Burke (2002) think, earlier. The Lansdowne manuscript concludes with a fragmentary poem in praise of Southwell's writings by 'H', presumably Southwell's second husband Henry Sibthorpe. The roughness of the manuscript suggests that it was not intended as a presentation copy. Though Southwell's own handwriting does not occur in the Lansdowne manuscript, the phrasing of the dedication and of the poem at the end imply that she was alive at the time when it was put together.

As passages praising James I in the Folger version of Southwell's poem on the fourth commandment are omitted in the Lansdowne text, it has been argued that this manuscript was intended for Charles I rather than for his father (Southwell 1997, xxxii; Burke 2002, 106; Longfellow 2004, n. 16). There are, however, other references to James in the Lansdowne text, and it is possible that the absence of the passages in praise of him simply express a growing disenchantment with James's religious attitudes.

The Sabbath was an explosive topic in the seventeenth century. Southwell's insistence in 'Precept 4' below on the importance of keeping the Sabbath echoes the sabbatarian concerns of those puritans who opposed the laxity of James I's 'Book of Sports' (1618). This controversial book sanctioned the practice of traditional sports and recreations on Sundays, and was thus opposed by puritans, who believed that the whole day ought to be reserved for devotional activities. Southwell's acquaintance Daniel Featley got into trouble with the king in 1625 for licensing books which advocated sabbatarianism (Featley 1629). The controversy over Sunday observance flared up again in 1633 when Charles I reissued the 'Book of Sports' at the insistence of Archbishop Laud.

The scribe of this manuscript also copied the text of Southwell's prose letter to Lady Ridgway in defence of poetry in the Folger manuscript (fols 3r-v; Southwell 1997, 4-5). The textual notes in this edition tentatively distinguish between revisions in two hands: 'scribe' (the scribe's neat mixed hand, in two different inks) and 'revising' (a different mixed hand, working after the scribe's work was complete, speculatively identified by Burke (2002, 96) and Klene (2000, 181-2) as Henry Sibthorpe's). Both hands make significant alterations to the text (see, for example, the lines excised from the dedication to the king, and the alterations at lines of 'Precept 4'). The 'revising' hand also frequently intervenes simply to modernise Southwell's language and the scribe's spelling. Stanza numbering in 'Precept 4' is original.

Biographical Note

The daughter of Sir Thomas Harris, a lawyer and MP, and Elizabeth Pomeroy, Anne Southwell was born in Devon in 1574. She married her first husband, Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Southwell (a nephew of the Jesuit poet Robert Southwell) in 1594 and moved with him to Poulnalong Castle in Ireland shortly after 1603. They had two children, Elizabeth and Frances. It has been suggested that Anne Southwell wrote three witty prose pieces published in the 1614 and 1615 editions of the popular anthology Sir Thomas Overbury's Wife and there attributed to 'the Lady Southwell' and 'A.S.' (Overbury 2003, 298-200; 301-2, 304-5), though this has recently been disputed (Burke 2002, 109-112; Southwell 1997, xxviii-xxxi; Schleiner 1994, 107-10, 114-22; Considine 2000, 69; Ross 2000, 42-6; Overbury 2003, 388-9, 391; Longfellow 2004, n.5).

Shortly after Sir Thomas Southwell's death in 1626, Southwell married Captain Henry Sibthorpe, a soldier and administrator in Ireland, retaining her title from her first marriage. Some time after 1627, Southwell and Sibthorpe left Ireland to live in Clerkenwell, London, moving to Acton in 1631. Anne Southwell died in Acton in 1636.


Cavanaugh (1984), Featley (1629), Overbury et al. (2003), Southwell (1997)

Burke (2002), Cavanaugh (1967), Considine (2000), Dove (1998), Klene (2000), Longfellow (2004),  Ross (2000), Schleiner (1994).


Folger Library, V.b.198

Miscellany volume of Anne Southwell's poetry


Beauty, Honor, yeouth, and fortune

    I importune

None of yow to be my freind

    Theise Gambols end.

And I have gaynd a Rosy bed.            5

    Uppon your head

Trod out of thornes and cruell Cares

    And now your wares

Semes noysome trumpery to my thoughts

    Things good for noughts                 10

O happy state that dying lives

    And reason gives

A just accompt of her disdayning

    By her lost Gayning:

[fol. 9r]

Copied in a hand hesitantly attributed by Klene to John Bowker

Title. Sonnet] The title, as in other poems copied by this scribe, is to the left of and slightly above the first line

11. dying] MS diiing


O how happy were I dearest

Far above all tonges Expressing

If thow wert as thow appearest

Never Queene had such a blessing

In the Pride of Fortunes dressing            5

Thow hast sworne might I beleeve the

Ill do I deme my suspition

And to say so much, Doth greive me

That I see thy bad Condition

And my faults are thy Addition.             10

                            [fol. 9v]

Copied in the same hand as the preceding poem

Title. Sonnett] See note on preceding poem

' good wifes' good wifes:

but.few.give good thir lives

They are owr head they wodd have us thir heles.

this makes the good wife kick the good man reles.

When god brought Eve to Adam for a bride        5

the text sayes she was taene from out mans side

A.simbole of that side, whose sacred bloud.

flowed for his spowse, the Churches savinge good.

This is a.misterie, perhaps too deepe.

for blockish Adam that was falen a sleepe            10

                                [fol. 16r]

Copied by an unidentified scribe. This short poem, transcribed in a small hand, occupies one whole folio page

1-2, 7, 9. The puzzling use of stops in these lines is unique in the manuscript

British Library Lansdowne MS 740

To the kinges most excellent Majestye

Darest thou my muse present thy Battlike winge,

before the eyes of Brittanes mighty kinge.

Hee that all other states exceedes as farre

as doth the sunne a litle glimmering starre

To whose blest birth the Cherubins did tender        5

all the endowments for a princely splendor

You lines, excuse my boldnes in this matter

& tell the truth; my hart's to bigg to flatter.

Yf in the search of this world I could find

one to exceed the vertues of thy minde            10

the height of my ambition would aspire

to offer up these sparckles to that fire.

since all fall shorte of thy soules qualitye

more short then of thy states abilitye.

Tis thy attractive goodnes gives mee scope        15

to come (dread Soveraigne) on the knees of hope

& offer up this tribute to thy meritt

this sacrifice to thy devinest spiritt.

I know in God there doth no ill abide

nor in his true Epitome, no pride.                20

Thou art the nursing father of all pietye,

the mightye champion for the Deitye.

Tis of the high Jehovah I doe singe

to whome doth this belonge but to the kinge.

Great God of heaven, thankes for thy gracious favours,    25

great king on earth, accept the poore endeavors


            of your majestyes most humble

                & faythfull subject.


                    Anne Southwell.  

[fol. 142r]


The dedication occupies the whole of the first page of the manuscript. This page is very dirty and smudged, having been used at one stage as an outer cover. Throughout the manuscript it is difficult to distinguish between accidental ink marks and deliberate punctuation

4-5. Deleted text between these lines (scribe):

The only touchstone of great natures storye

 in whome all artes reside, & hold theyr glorye.

6-7. Deleted text between these lines (scribe):

whose sacred lippes doe never part asunder

as the Heralds of all grace & wonder

14. short] altered from shorte (revising); e deleted

19, 20. no] altered from noe (revising); e deleted

Anne Southwell] copied in the scribe's italic hand, not Southwell's autograph

On the back of the opening page (fol. 142v) is the following stanza, written upside down in pencil in a hand different from any other in the Lansdowne manuscript. Another version of this poem, in the same hand, thought by Klene to be Samuel Rowson's, is found in the Folger manuscript (fol. 28v), variants for which are given below

with feet of clay to enter the most hollye

or watrye balles to stare against the Sunne

alas it is but blinde presumptuous follie

a parchase sought, by which wee are undonne

if off thy court I am, there will I rest        5

        leave secret councell to thy sacred brest

5. if … there] Folger lett me be of thy Court, there; thy inserted

6. leave secret] replacing thy sacred

6. leave … brest] Folger leaving thy secrets, to thy sacred brest

Precept 4.

Remember the Sabbath day to keepe it holy, six

dayes shalt thou labour & doe all thy worke,

but the seventh day is the sabaoth of the

lorde thy god, in it, thou shalt not doe

any worke, thou nor thy sonne, nor thy

daughter, thy manservant nor thy

mayd, nor thy beast, nor thy stran-

ger that is within thy gates.

for in six dayes the Lord made the heavens & the earth

the sea & all that in them is, & rested the seventh   

day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day &

hallowed it.

1.    In six dayes God made this admired ball,

this verdant couch with lillyes overspred

    engrayl'd it with a liquid christall wall,

& hunge a double vallence over head   

        of fire & ayre, fring'd round with starrye lights        5

        under whose fabrick walke all living wights.

2.    There this immortall mortall prince hee plac'd

    who had free will & high commaund of all.  

    thus all compleat & with all graces grac'd       

    the voyce of voyces to his type doth call                10

        Labour six dayes, but keepe the seventh day holy

        when hee biddes rest, all labour is but folly.    

3.    In this day summon up thy weekes expence

    that from thy lord thou mayst acquittance have

    & heape not up offence uppon offence                15

    ingrave thy sinnes before they thee engrave

        Mercy is for the living not the dead

        when life is gone, Justice in power doth spredd.

4.     In this day rest from all thy worldly paynes,

    take out the harrow from the plowmans handes               20

    refresh his faynting limmes & tired braynes

    & from thy oxen take theyr yoaked bandes

        tis six to one, then having soe much oddes, 

        twere badly done to steale that day that's gods. 



6.     Six dayes thou art to labour sayth the Lord,  

    heer's Adams curse chaynd to necessitye

    but then thy labours plentye shall affoord

    which doth agayne sweeten calamitye.

        All thyne owne worke in six dayes thou mayst doe        35

        though not soe much as sinne invites thee to.

7.     for yf thy worke in those six dayes bee bad

    or left undon, the seventh is defaced,

    for worldly cares will make thy visage sad

    & guilt of ill will in thy harte bee placed                40

        Then to keepe holy this high day of rest

        thou must worke faithfully in all the rest. 

8.     Nor art thou bid to sleepe out this high day

    to singe, daunce, game or guzzell out thy time 

    but in gods vineyard thou art willed to stay                 45

    & cutt downe thornes that overtoppe his vine

        for thou must never rest whilest thou art heere

        yett in this day thy future rests appeare.

9.     Nor art thou bidd to labour heere alone

    but thou art bound to bring thy familye                50

    thy wife & thee, two loving hartes make one

    Christ & his church explane that simpathye

        thy children & thy servants are exprest

         by thee & them gods vineyard must bee drest.

10.     Besides the honor due to the creator                    55

    how beneficiall is this time to all

    where wee may learne to knowe both god & nature

    & what by sinne or grace to us doth fall

        & by our knowledge like to mortall gods

        resolve & reconcile what is at ods.                60

11.     Where yf there were noe time given us by grace

    but still like swine to grovell in the mire

    how should the soule her facultyes deface

    or how would man to higher state aspire.

        O gratious god thou forcest us to this                65

        not soe much for thy glorye as our blisse.

12.     Thou hast noe need of us to fill thy skyes

    for Cherubines & Thrones adorne that place;

    where all doe stand with loving watchfull eyes           

    & joy to see the glorye of thy face                    70

        still singing Halelujahs to thy name

        & with due reverence aye extoll the same.

13.    Thou hast noe need of us to fill thine earth

    or to dresse up thine altars with perfumes

    Thou canst replenish it with Angells birth                75

    whose heavenly formes noe humane stuffe assumes.

        where noe rebellious thoughts, or heedlesse sloth

        shall rowse thy justice or provoke thy wroth


14.     Only thy love mov'd in those sacred springes

    then darke, now cleere & blessed element,                80

    the very soule & nurse of growing thinges

with whome thy gratious spiritt did frequent

    & moving there, sett all the world in order

    & made her flowing armes earthes fruitfull border.

15.     & from the light the darke did seperate                85

       deviding cold & moyst the hott & drye,

    yett ech with others to participate

    & propagate by a sweete simpathye.

        Soe that, not men, but Angells, starres & spheares

        ech one the elementall livery weares.                90

16.     Gods first weekes worke doth as a symbole stand

    of all the time that is to come & past

by milliarious yeeres, prophetick handes

    hath drawen earthes longitude, times reckoning cast.

        A thousand yeeres are one day with the Lord            95

        six dayes of worke, the seventh did rest affoord.

17.     The first day voyd & emptye doth present

    Adams apostasye, voyd of all grace.

    raigning a thousand yeeres in Cains descent

    in Seth the promised seed, the light takes place             100

    God seperates the darkenes from the light

        good men are day, the wicked men are night.

18.     The second day god made the firmament

    & partes the moist deepe counsells of the proud

    Babells confusion with the deluge went                105

    the blessed seede & spouse an ark doth shrowd

        & her fresh springes a christaline doe make

        the rest theyr place in sulpharous channell take.

19.    The third day when the waters were devided

    the virgin earth presents all store of treasure,                110

    Abraham & moses by gods word now ayded

    in a Satrapick dance keepe sacred measures            

        as fruitfull solid ground, in them god graves

        his drad commandes, the rest are giddye waves.

20.     The fourth day god did make the sunne & moone            115

    In the fourth thousand yeere came Christ that sonne

    his church the moone, Apostles starlike shone

    lightening the gentiles with cloudes overrunne

        Thou Alpha & omega, thou blest light

        thy sacred beames be ever in our sight.               120   

21.     The fift dayes worke was fish & fowle that flyes

    & now those monstrous Hydraes did crall 

    the Dragons & the Locustes did arise

    that on heavens childing wombe throwe seas of gall

        who to the wildernes afrighted runnes            125

        to ease her throes, & beare her groning sonnes.

22.     The sixt day all the beastes & beastly natures

    of Turks & Pope & other brutish factions

    at even the Lord & soveraigne of those creatures

    gods image commes to keepe them in subjection            130

        when all the heresyes must fade away

        & then drawes on the holy Sabbath day.

23.     Yett first god calles his Image to the barre

    those that of the forbidden tree have eaten

    a fierye sword from Paradise doth scare                135

    & from the tree of life theyr boldnes threaten

        Thus goeing hand in hand with the creation

        it pointes the worldes end out, mans perturbation.

 [24.     & now mee thinkes I heare some wizzard say

    how dares this foolish woman bee soe bold?              140

    ask Jahells nayle that Siseraes head did stay

    & Judiths sword that made her hott love cold

        Hee that enabled them, enables mee.

        yf thou seeke knowledge hee'l enable thee.

25.     How cloudye is that soule that will not seeke                145

to know as farre as finite dust may knowe

    who made him & the world, & both doth keepe,

    Angells & men & the darke hell belowe

        in whose breath all thinges bee & live & move       

        whose providence doth governe all with love.]         150

26.     The life & soule of soules is contemplation

    It makes a man to differ from a beast

    & bringes him to the god of his creation

    & shewes, how first hee tumbled from his nest   

        & by his fall how both his winges fell lame            155

        & how hee may impe fethers to the same

27.     Unto that god of order & of time

    wee owe the time that his word hath sett downe

    Religion is the stayre by which wee clime   

    the gole wee seeke is an immortall crowne.                 160

        All worldly pleasures are expired by death

        that hanges in the incertaynty of breath.

28.     & who, to play a kinges parte for a day

    would spend these pretious minutes in attiring,   

    who are more traytors to theyr state then they            165

    that peacocklike stand still themselves admiring

        who can enjoy themselves or what they have

        that seeke not god till they have found theyr grave.

29.     Seven hundred twenty names the Rabbines found

    to expresse god to theyr capacityes                    170

    who sayles to farre, may sett his shipp on ground

    & gazing on the sunne, dazell his eyes

        for what hee is, noe man hath ever told

        nor none shall knowe whilst hee is wrap'd in mold   


33.     Hee knowes god best that first himself doth knowe           

    to bee but wretched, poore, though proud & vayne.

    how like a shadowe hee doth come & goe,                 195

    that all his labours heere are greefe & payne

        that all his sences beare deathes fearefull skarres

        & all his thoughts are still at civill warres.        

34.    & when poore wretched man beholdes his weakenes

who cannott make a flye with all his skill                200

hee may behold the all creators greatnes

& stand the more obedient to his will

    beyond his chayne poore ape hee cannott skipp

    yett naught can tame this bedlame but a whipp.

35.     Spend not your time in cobwebbes like a spinner            205

    but with the publicane confesse & say

    O god bee mercifull to mee a sinner

    to come to god there is noe other way               

        for faythfull prayers pierce the christall skyes

        & is the best accepted sacrifice.                210


47.    To lay fayre colours on a wrinckled hide

    or smooth up vice with eloquent discource

    who writes for pence, be he soe turpified               

    & lett those nine Chima'raes bee his nurse.                280

        to teach him crawle the Heliconian hill

        & in Pernassus dipp his ivorye quill.

48.    for mee, I write but to my self & mee

    what gods good grace doth in my soule imprint           

    I bought it not for pelf, none buyes of thee                285

    nor will I lett it at soe base a rent

        as wealth or fame, which is but drosse & vapor

        & scarce deserves the blotting of a paper.

49.    Nor am I soe affected unto rime                   

    but as it is a help to memorye                        290

    because it doth commaund a larger time

    to wrapp up sence in measures quantitye

        nor marres it truth, but gives wittes fire more fuell

        & from an Ingott formes a curious Jewell.           

50.    & though some amorous Idiotts doe disgrace it            295

    in making verse the packhorse of theyr passion

    such cloudes may dimme the sunne but not deface it

    nor marvell I that love doth love this fashion

        To speak in verse, yf sweet & smoothly carryed       

        to true proportions love is ever maryed            300

51.    Tis love hath wove this rugged twine of mine

    quickening my harte with such a sprightly flame

    that frozen death can never make it pine

    nor sad affliction hath the power to lame.               

        for love & fire ech other best resemble            305

        both hott & bright, both vigilant & nimble.

52.    Away base world, hence shadowes, hence away.

    You shalbee noe corrivalls to my love.

    for hee is fresh as is the flourye may                   

    & truly constant as the turtle dove.                    310

        his breth like beddes of roses cheere the morne,

        his hayres reflex the sunne beames doth adorne.

53.    From his fayre eyes, the world hath all her light

    & till hee look'd on her, shee lay as dead               

she'd eyes before, but those eyes had noe sight            315

    They now are in her soule, then in her head

        shee spake before, but knew not what shee sayd

        like pratling babes, or doting age decayed.

54.    Some few could see & speake with triple sence           

    & what were these, but harolds of thy comming            320

    thou gavest theyr eyes, the point of future tense

    Coles from thine altar tipp'd theyr tongues with cunning

        to tell great Davids ofspring they should see

        a new Jerusalem raysed up in thee               


57.     & now my Love with hope doth gather winge

    leaving this dunghill & her bed of clay,

    & with the mounting larke beginnes to singe

    in joy & honour of this Halcion day.                    340

        when men & Angells all at once shall move           

        rays'd by the flame of sweete bright fervent love.


60.    Can love bee barren, noe, it cannott bee                355

    the active sunne may sooner loose his heate,

    & passive earth well labourd, yeeld noe fee

    & mortalls live that have but stones to eate.               

        Tis male & female, & both sex is full

        absence inflames, & neerenes cannot dull.            360

61.    Hence Lothsame ground baytes, I am sick with love;

    & growen to queasye for such fussome dyett,

    on payne of curses doe not seeke to move               

    my thoughts awry that now are all at quiett

        & fill'd with admiration of his beautye            365

        to whome all true perfection oweth dutye.

62.    Mine eares bee deafe against the clamorous world

    & yee mine eyes see not her fluttering pride               

    lightening & thunder that abroad is hurld

    with which my hart to longe was stupifyed.                370

        yett now I see twas but a dunghill smoke,

        the more wee pudder in't, wee sooner choke.

63.    You witty wantons, leave your foolish loves,               

    though pearle & currall overspredd your skinne

    making you looke like swannes & silver doves            375

    & love that love which makes you fayre within.

        Colour's an accident that will decay.

        a superficies spred but over clay.               

64.    To boast of it I could as well as you

    to whome kind nature hath noe stepdame bene,            380

    but sinnes infection makes them more to rue

    that beare a leprous soule in a fayr skinne.

        To him that built us wee doe give abuse           

        & turne best mettaill to the basest use.

65.    But bee as loving Dames as you are Lovely,                385

    not to your flattering servants, formes or glasses,

    to place or trappings; these thinges are but follye

    & will approve the lovers of them asses.               

        Your loves soe layed doe make men thinke you moles

        fayre soft & wittye but devoyd of soules            390

66.     Are you denyed soules then, you shelles of men,

    are they but hatched in you & flye away               

    noe marvell though theyr wisedomes doe contemne

    your sex, since you are only formall clay.

        but trust them not that would perswade you soe        395

        such serpents but advise you to more woe.

67.     Goe search the sacred writt, where you shall find           

    what your creation was & to what end

    Lett not theyr envious folly make you blind

    who pittyes him that is not his owne frend.                400

        Adam did sleepe whilst god built your fayre frame:

        & hee still sleepes that would have you thus lame.       


73.    Rayse you the superciliums of your eyes               

    though but to see theyr fellow spheare, the sunne,

    they say from thence a shower of arrowes flyes            435

    to wound theyr hartes by which they are undonne.

        Natures free dowrye they call sett temptation           

        to quitt theyr faultes they'l challenge great creation

74.    Dare you but write, you are Minervaes bird

    the owle at which these battes & crowes must wonder,        440

    they'l crittickize uppon the smallest word

    this wanteth number case, that tense & gender           

        then must you frame a pittifull epistle

        to pray him bee a rose was borne a thistle.

75.    Could you, as did those Sybells, prophecye                445

    men will but count you witches for your skill

    or bee endowed with any qualitye                   

    they'l poyson it with some depraving ill

        Envye is barren & yeeldes nought but weedes

        & feares least better ground have better seedes.        450

76.    Nay should a wise & honest harted man

    commend a virtuous woman for her life           

    would they not say the worst of him they can

    & cutt his good names throat with envyes knife.

        call him your bedesman, parasite or minion            455

        what sanctitye can scape from bad opinion

77.    & where lives hee dares row against this tide               

    noe not while that admired virgin Queene

    who sometimes raignd & your sex stellifyed

    who like stout Debora, did skorne the teene                460

        of Romes proud bulles whose ever watchfull eye

        the church and state did truely fortifie.               

78.    A sanguine woman is of all accurst

    although that constitution bee the best,

    shee must bee merry though her neck were burst            465

    & mirth setts all these spanniells up in quest.

        to hunt on drye foot, for it cannott bee           

        goodnes & mirth should hold a simpathye.

79.    A melancholly woman that is sadd

    although her deedes bee good & thoughts bee holy            470

    yett shall shee beare the censure to bee mad,

    & all her actions must bee skornd as folly               

        yf shee bee great in place, her gravitye

        must bee the nurse of some foule prodegye

80.    But what neede I speake further of complexion            475

    on which none but your sophist spend theyr dotes

    the landskip witt can find a fitt detection               

    for all your gestures wordes, & for your coates

        But good men will not doe thus that are wise

        for they will tender you as theyr owne eyes.            480

81.    Then for theyr sakes pardon the others errors

    lett not theyr evill harden you in evill                   

    but chuse the wise for fathers frends & mirrors

    & knowe hell was not made but for a Devill

        The wise will stay you yf your weakenes fall            485

        & rayse you without envye pride or gall.

82.    Bee wise as serpents, innocent as Doves               

    you are borne subjects & you must obey

    that death, which all you feare all clogges removes

    tis god you honour in it lett them bray                490

        hee will reward you; at theyr bountyes spurne

        naked they came, & naked shall returne.           

83.    & when you both are stript out of this clay

    there will not bee a difference in your sex

    you have one Judge & must goe both one way            495

    the good with good & bad with bad soules mix

        twill bee to late when you in hell shall grone           

        to curse those soules that taught you, you had none.

84.    Virgines bee wise, & keepe your lampes still burning

    wives to your head bee full of constant truth,                500

    widowes rejoyce in him that cheeres all mourning

    turnes black to white & wrinckled age to youth       

        gives you new names, new honours, hyer places

        whose pompe Queene Sabaes silver throne disgraces.

85.    And would you hold this state, enjoy these joyes            505

    then in the mire lett not your spiritts fall               

    reject not god, nor count his judgments toyes           

    nor with the foole, say, ther's noe god at all

        but that there is a god you must consent

        then are you bound to keepe his testament.            510


96.    To what an angle is the true church driven

    for pittye sake, looke downe Lord on her cares           

    & send forth faithfull laborers from heaven

    to gleane thy wheate & cast away the tares

        Least sectes & schismes & fowlest heresyes            575

        choake up thy seed with sad calamityes

97.    Thou bread of life, yf shee want thee shee starves       

    thou living water, yf thou fayle shee dyes

    nought but the sacred flesh & bloud will serve

    to please the judge, or cleere our clouded eyes            580

        In thee wee only live & move & be

        & our dead soules are all revived in thee.       


109    Hee gives not up a lively sacrifice

    that stayes till withered age hath made him dead            650

    who letts the sunne sett ere hee doe arise

    hee were almost as good still keepe his bedd

        O come & learne at great Jehovaes schoole           

        a sabaoth breaker is a busye foole.       


A very different version of this meditation occurs in the Folger manuscript, in an unidentified scribal italic (fols 37r-44r; Southwell 1997, 60-72). Variants are only recorded for lines 1-72 of the Folger text, as the rest of the Folger poem has no textual relationship with the Lansdowne version edited here

Title. Remember … hallowed it] Folger Thou shalt keepe holy the saboth daye

6. walke] altered from walkes; s deleted (scribe)

7. plac'd] altered from please (?) (revising?); first e deleted, c superimposed on s, second e deleted, ' inserted

8. high commaund] Folger free commande

9. thus] Folger this

11. day] inserted (scribe)

12. labour is] Folger labours ar

Folger inverts stanzas 3 and 4

18. power] Folger her power inserted, replacing his power deleted

20. handes] Folger hande

21. faynting … braynes] Folger wearyed limmes and faynting braynes

22. & … bandes] Folger and free thy oxen from theyre yoaked band

24. that day] Folger the day

31. Before this stanza, Folger inserts three stanzas attacking the Jews' use of the Sabbath

31. Six … labour] Folger full six dayes thou shalt labor

32. heer's] Folger heere is

33. but then thy] Folger and these thy

37. for yf] Folger But if

      those] Folger these

42. faithfully] Folger faithfull

44. singe … guzzell] Folger sing game dance or goosell

45. art willed] Folger arte bid

46. & cutt] Folger to cut

      overtoppe] altered from overtoppes; s deleted (scribe)

48. thy future rests appeare] Folger thy rest doth most

52. explane that] Folger explaynes this

65. thou] altered from that; ou superimposed on at (scribe?)

68. adorne] n inserted (scribe)

74. dresse up] inserted, replacing adresse deleted (revising)

79. mov'd] altered from moved; ' inserted, e deleted (scribe?)

93. by] superimposed on illegible word (scribe)

      yeeres] inserted (scribe)

101. seperates] inserted, replacing seperateh deleted (revising)

106. the … ark] The scribe left a gap between the and ark, which s/he later filled in with blessed seede & spouse an . There is an illegible deletion following an

111. now] inserted, replacing were deleted (scribe)

113. fruitfull] inserted, replacing true fields deleted (scribe)

117. the] altered from ther; r deleted (scribe)

118. lightening] inserted, replacing souccoring deleted (scribe)

120. be] altered from bee; second e deleted (revising?)

122. monstrous] altered from monster (scribe); rous superimposed on er

        Hydraes] inserted, replacing Heresyes deleted (scribe)

124. wombe] altered from woman (scribe); be superimposed on an

        throwe seas of] altered from throwes out (scribe); seas of inserted, replacing  s out deleted

126. sonnes] s added (scribe)

135. scare] altered from scarre; second r deleted

Stanzas 24-5 and a fragmentary first draft of stanza 26 are deleted in the manuscript, 24 and 25 by revising hand, 26 by scribe

138. pointes … out] altered from pointes out the worldes end; out inserted, out deleted (scribe)

139. wizzard] inserted, replacing gazeling deleted (revising); gazeling inserted in a previous stage of revision, replacing gallant deleted (scribe)

140. ?] superimposed on full stop (scribe)

141. ask] k added (scribe)

        that] superimposed on in (scribe)

        Siseraes] S superimposed on illegible letter, perhaps s miswritten

142. that] inserted, replacing soone deleted (scribe)

        her] inserted, replacing a deleted (scribe)

144. hee'l] inserted, replacing will deleted (scribe)

145. soule that] inserted (scribe)

147. made] replacing deleted letter part (scribe)

The scribe deleted the following first, fragmentary attempt at a twenty-sixth stanza, transcribing a new stanza 26 on the next leaf:

26.     Mans mind a mirror is of heavenly formes

    & though created, yett hee can create.

    his polish'd thoughts the quill & booke adornes

    which clouds of ignorance doth captivate.               

Yf thou    If thou                    [155]

    A        All the

[155-6]. Yf thou and A smudged out

154. shewes,] , added

155. how both] inserted (scribe)

        lame] replacing all soe deleted (scribe)

156. & how … impe] inserted, replacing noe deleted

        to the same] replacing can bee imped in deleted

159. Religion is] altered from Religion's (scribe); i superimposed on s, ' deleted, s added

        stayre] inserted, replacing Cedar deleted (scribe)

203. skipp] altered from skape (scribe); i superimposed on a, second p superimposed on e

279. be he] altered from bee hee (scribe?); second e … e deleted

309. flourye] u inserted (revising)

315. she'd eyes before] A two-stage revision: (1) It had an eye deleted, shee had eyes before inserted (scribe); (2) shee altered to she'd (e deleted, ' inserted), had deleted (revising)

        those] altered from that (scribe); o superimposed on a, se inserted, t deleted

316. They] inserted, replacing which deleted (scribe)

321. theyr] altered from them (scribe); yr superimposed on em

        point] inserted, replacing payne deleted (scribe)

322. Coles] inserted, replacing bowles deleted

        tipp'd] altered from tipped (revising); ' inserted, e deleted

338. clay,] comma added (revising)

361. Lothsame] altered from Lothsome (scribe); a superimposed on o

363. on] altered from in (scribe); o superimposed on i

365. fill'd] altered from filled (revising); ' inserted, e deleted

367. bee] inserted, replacing are deleted (scribe)

368. yee] inserted, replacing though deleted (scribe)

372. in't] altered from in (revising?); 't added

381. sinnes] replacing may not underlined and deleted (scribe)

389. doe] inserted (scribe)

        men] replacing wise underlined and deleted (scribe)

390. wittye, but devoyd of soules] The scribe originally wrote fayre soft & wittye,

blind for want of soules. S/he then inserted smooth but above wittye, blind (presumably intending the text to read fayre soft & smooth but blind for want of soules), underlining but not deleting wittye. (See notes to lines 381 and 389, above,

for instances of underlining by the scribe in this section of the manuscript, possibly as a preliminary to deletion.) S/he subsequently deleted smooth. The scribe also deleted blind for want, inserting above it meere voyd (line thus reading: fayre soft & wittye, but meere voyd of soules). Finally the revising hand inserted de over meere, bringing the line to its current state

394-5. Deleted text Goe search the sacred writt, where you shall find (i.e. line 397) between these lines (scribe)

401. god] inserted, replacing hee deleted (scribe)

437. sett] inserted, replacing a deleted (scribe)

441. crittickize] altered from crettickize (revising?); i superimposed on e

442. wanteth] altered from wandeth (scribe); t superimposed on d

447. qualitye] replacing facultye deleted

449. nought] altered from naught (?); o superimposed on a (?) (scribe)

459. who sometimes raignd] inserted, replacing that lately raigned deleted (revising)

461. whose] inserted, replacing her deleted (scribe)

        eye] altered from eyes (revising?); s deleted

462. and … truely] inserted, followed by be (?) deleted, replacing like cannon strongly (revising)

        fortifie] altered from fortifies; s deleted

463. sanguine] altered from sanguin (?); e added (?) (revising?)

466. spanniells] i added (revising?)

476. sophist] altered from sophies (revising); st superimposed on es

        dotes] inserted, replacing mouthes deleted (scribe)

478. coates] inserted, replacing clothes deleted (scribe)

481. theyr] altered from theyrs (scribe?); s deleted

489. that] inserted, replacing till deleted (scribe)

        you] altered from yours (revising?); rs deleted

        feare] altered from feares (scribe); s deleted

        all] all inserted, replacing & deleted (scribe)

490. lett them bray] inserted, replacing & not they deleted (scribe)

491. at]  replacing in it deleted (scribe)

498. soules] u inserted (scribe)

500. head] altered from heads (scribe?); s deleted

575. fowlest] replacing fowll deleted (revising); fowll previously altered from fowell, e deleted (scribe)

578-9. Deleted text they still repine although they still increase (i.e. line 585) between these lines

579. nought] replacing the deleted (scribe)

        the] altered from thy; e superimposed on y (revising)

581. be] altered from bee (revising?); e deleted

582. revived] altered from received (revising?); v superimposed on c, e deleted, v rewritten