Early Modern Women's Complaint: Gender, Form, and Politics [1st ed.] 9783030429454, 9783030429461

This collection examines early modern women’s contribution to the culturally central mode of complaint. Complaint has la

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Early Modern Women's Complaint: Gender, Form, and Politics [1st ed.]
 9783030429454, 9783030429461

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xvii
Beyond Ovid: Early Modern Women’s Complaint (Sarah C. E. Ross, Rosalind Smith)....Pages 1-26
Front Matter ....Pages 27-27
Anne Lock and the Instructive Complaint (Susan M. Felch)....Pages 29-46
Katherine Parr and Royal Religious Complaint: Complaining For and About Henry VIII (Micheline White)....Pages 47-65
“Ane Wyfis Quarrel”: Complaining Women in Scottish Reformation Satire (Tricia A. McElroy)....Pages 67-88
The Brief Ovidian Career of Isabella Whitney: From Heroidean to Tristian Complaint (Lindsay Ann Reid)....Pages 89-113
Front Matter ....Pages 115-115
Acts of Will: Countersovereignty and Complaining in The Tragedy of Mariam (Emily Shortslef)....Pages 117-135
The Politics of Complaint in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory and The Second Part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania (Paul Salzman)....Pages 137-155
Animating Eve: Gender, Authority, and Complaint (Danielle Clarke)....Pages 157-181
Complaint’s Echoes (Sarah C. E. Ross)....Pages 183-202
Front Matter ....Pages 203-203
Aphra Behn’s “Oenone to Paris,” John Dryden, and the Ovidian Complaint in Restoration Literary Culture (Gillian Wright)....Pages 205-223
Complaint in the Wilderness: Mary Rowlandson Speaks With Job (Susan Wiseman)....Pages 225-245
Anne Killigrew and the Restoration of Complaint (Kate Lilley)....Pages 247-266
Front Matter ....Pages 267-267
From Manuscripts to Metadata: Understanding and Structuring Female-Attributed Complaints (Marie-Louise Coolahan, Erin A. McCarthy)....Pages 269-290
Women’s Complaint, 1530–1680: Taxonomy, Voice, and the Index in the Digital Age (Jake Arthur, Rosalind Smith)....Pages 291-312
Front Matter ....Pages 313-313
“Past the Help of Law”: Epyllia and the Female Complaint (Lynn Enterline)....Pages 315-327
Back Matter ....Pages 329-370

Citation preview


Early Modern Women’s Complaint Gender, Form, and Politics Edited by Sarah C. E. Ross · Rosalind Smith

Early Modern Literature in History Series Editors Cedric C. Brown Department of English University of Reading Reading, UK Andrew Hadfield School of English University of Sussex Brighton, UK

Within the period 1520–1740, this large, long-running series, with international representation discusses many kinds of writing, both within and outside the established canon. The volumes may employ different theoretical perspectives, but they share an historical awareness and an interest in seeing their texts in lively negotiation with their own and successive cultures. Editorial board Sharon Achinstein, John Hopkins University, USA John Kerrigan, University of Cambridge, UK Richard C McCoy, Columbia University, USA Jean Howard, Columbia University, USA Adam Smyth, University of Oxford, UK Cathy Shrank, University of Sheffield, UK Michelle O’Callaghan, University of Reading, UK Steven Zwicker, Washington University, US AKatie Larson, University of Toronto, Canada More information about this series at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/series/14199

Sarah C. E. Ross  •  Rosalind Smith Editors

Early Modern Women’s Complaint Gender, Form, and Politics

Editors Sarah C. E. Ross Victoria University of Wellington Wellington, New Zealand

Rosalind Smith The Australian National University Canberra, ACT, Australia

Early Modern Literature in History ISBN 978-3-030-42945-4    ISBN 978-3-030-42946-1 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


This volume of essays emerges out of two collaborative projects on early modern women and complaint that have received generous funding from government bodies in New Zealand and Australia. We are enormously grateful to the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi Marsden Fund, and to the Australian Research Council, for funding the two parallel projects: Woe Is Me: Women and Complaint in Renaissance England and Early Modern Women and the Poetry of Complaint 1540–1660. Some of the greatest delights of such projects are the conversations and exchanges they make possible, in conferences and symposia, and in collaborations with scholars whose work we admire, and from whom we have learned so much. Most of the essays in this volume were first presented in our Women and Complaint seminar at the Shakespeare Association of America conference in Los Angeles and the Renaissance Society of America conference in New Orleans, both in 2018. Others were presented or refined at a symposium on Complaint and Grievance: Literary Traditions in Wellington and in panels at ANZAMEMS in 2019. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to these events, and whose critique and discussion have shaped the work here. Most of all, we would like to thank our essayists, who have joined the project with verve, a dazzling range of specialist knowledges, and a willingness to rethink complaint with us. You have all quite literally made the book what it is. We are also particularly grateful for the intellectual contribution of all of our essays’ readers, whose insightful responses have made this a much better book: Victoria Burke, Linda Charnes, Julie Crawford, Lynn Enterline, Laura Estill, Elizabeth Ewan, Julia Flanders, Kathryn Gray, v



Helen Hackett, Hilary Hinds, Lorna Hutson, Katherine Larson, Christina Luckyj, Joanna Martin, Patricia Pender, Kathryn Schwarz, Ray Siemens, Mary Trull, Helen Wilcox, Matthew Woodcock, and Marion Wynne-­ Davis. We belong to an exceptionally generous and collegial field, one which is indebted to decades of work that has made women’s writing a vibrant, complex, and challenging area of study. Our project on complaint is deeply dependent on and inspired by the work that precedes us and the excellent scholars with whom we have the privilege to collaborate. Chief among these for this project is our colleague and co-author (co-­complainer) Michelle O’Callaghan, who has been integral to the volume’s development, as have Danielle Clarke and Kate Lilley, as keynote speakers and workshop colleagues at our symposium in Wellington. Lynn Enterline has been a huge supporter of this work, and one of our most formative interlocutors. Our colleagues in the Early Modern Women’s Research Network have been perceptive, robust, and generous discussants, especially in the volume’s final stages; thanks as ever to Patricia Pender, Kate Lilley, Paul Salzman, and Susan Wiseman. The sympathetic community of complaint scholars who have produced this volume includes our invaluable research and editorial assistants, Jenny Noble and Kelly Peihopa at Newcastle, and Emma Rayner and Jake Arthur in Wellington. Thank you for all you have done; your contribution has truly been beyond the call of duty. Finally, we would both like to thank our families, who have come to know one another better over the course of this project and whose presence and love sustain us: Andru, Milly, and Henry; and Mark, Felix, Isobel, and Sophia.


1 Beyond Ovid: Early Modern Women’s Complaint  1 Sarah C. E. Ross and Rosalind Smith Part I Sixteenth Century  27 2 Anne Lock and the Instructive Complaint 29 Susan M. Felch 3 Katherine Parr and Royal Religious Complaint: Complaining For and About Henry VIII 47 Micheline White 4 “Ane Wyfis Quarrel”: Complaining Women in Scottish Reformation Satire 67 Tricia A. McElroy 5 The Brief Ovidian Career of Isabella Whitney: From Heroidean to Tristian Complaint 89 Lindsay Ann Reid




Part II Seventeenth Century 115 6 Acts of Will: Countersovereignty and Complaining in The Tragedy of Mariam117 Emily Shortslef 7 The Politics of Complaint in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory and The Second Part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania137 Paul Salzman 8 Animating Eve: Gender, Authority, and Complaint157 Danielle Clarke 9 Complaint’s Echoes183 Sarah C. E. Ross Part III Restoration 203 10 Aphra Behn’s “Oenone to Paris,” John Dryden, and the Ovidian Complaint in Restoration Literary Culture205 Gillian Wright 11 Complaint in the Wilderness: Mary Rowlandson Speaks With Job225 Susan Wiseman 12 Anne Killigrew and the Restoration of Complaint247 Kate Lilley Part IV Representing Complaint: New Digital Forms 267 13 From Manuscripts to Metadata: Understanding and Structuring Female-­Attributed Complaints269 Marie-Louise Coolahan and Erin A. McCarthy



14 Women’s Complaint, 1530–1680: Taxonomy, Voice, and the Index in the Digital Age291 Jake Arthur and Rosalind Smith Part V Afterword 313 15 “Past the Help of Law”: Epyllia and the Female Complaint315 Lynn Enterline Bibliography329 Index


Notes on Contributors

Jake Arthur  is a DPhil candidate at Oxford University. His thesis reconsiders writing by early modern women that has been classed as “derivative,” such as translation and paraphrase, arguing those texts offer a striking demonstration of early modern women’s diverse cultural and intellectual interventions, as well as a salutary reminder of the power of derivative writing itself. Danielle Clarke  is Professor of Renaissance Language and Literature at University College Dublin. Alongside many articles and book chapters, she is the author of The Politics of Early Modern Women’s Writing (2001), co-author of Teaching the Early Modern Period (2011), editor of Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets (2000), and co-editor of the collection “This Double Voice”: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England (2000). She is writing a book on gender and cultural reproduction 1500–1700. Marie-Louise Coolahan  is Professor of English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She is the author of Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland (2010), multiple book chapters and articles in journals including Early Modern Literary Studies, Critical Quarterly, and Early Modern Women. She is Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded project, RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550–1700. Lynn  Enterline  holds a distinguished chair as Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, USA.  Her publications include The Tears of xi


Notes on Contributors

Narcissus: Melancholia and Masculinity in Early Modern Writing (1995), The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare (2000), Shakespeare’s Schoolroom: Rhetoric, Discipline, Emotion (2012), and she has recently edited a collected edition of essays, Elizabethan Narrative Poems: The State of Play (2019). Enterline is working on a book called Epic Discontent: On the Critical Potential of Passionate Character. Susan  M.  Felch  is Professor of English at Calvin College. Her books include The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock (1999), Elizabeth Tyrwhit’s Morning and Evening Prayers (2009), Elizabeth I and Her Age (2009), and Teaching and Christian Imagination (2016). Her articles have appeared in journals such as Reformation and The Sixteenth Century Journal and she has recently edited The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Religion (2016). Kate Lilley  is Associate Professor of English at the University of Sydney. She has published widely on early modern women’s writing; her articles have appeared in Women’s Writing, Textual Practice, and Parergon, and she is the editor of The Blazing World and Other Writings (1992) and Selected Poems of Dorothy Hewett (2010). Lilley is also the author of three books of poetry: Versary (2002), Ladylike (2012), and most recently Tilt (2018), winner of the Victorian Premier’s Poetry Prize. Erin A. McCarthy  is Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She has published in John Donne Journal, Studies in English Literature, and Review of English Studies. Her first book, Doubtful Readers: Print, Poetry, and the Reading Public in Early Modern England, was published in 2020. Tricia A. McElroy  is Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama and serves as Associate Dean for Humanities and Fine Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. She has published essays on Scottish Reformation poetry, the Memoirs of Sir James Melville of Halhill, George Buchanan’s Detection, and Holinshed’s Chronicles. She is preparing a new edition of Reformation satire, Scottish Satirical Literature, 1567–1584, for the Scottish Text Society. Lindsay Ann Reid  is Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her primary research interests include classical poetry, mythology, adaptation and reception studies, and early English print culture. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Renaissance Quarterly,

  Notes on Contributors 


Early Theatre, The Seventeenth Century, Studies in Philology, and Comparative Drama, and she is the author of Ovidian Bibliofictions and the Tudor Book (2014) and Shakespeare’s Ovid and the Spectre of the Medieval (2018). Sarah C. E. Ross  is Associate Professor of English at Victoria University of Wellington. She is the author of Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain (2015), the co-editor, with Paul Salzman, of Editing Early Modern Women (2016), and the co-editor, with Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, of Women Poets of the English Civil War (2017). She is currently completing the project out of which this collection comes, Woe Is Me: Women and Complaint in the English Renaissance, funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi Marsden Fund, and the Australian Research Council. Paul  Salzman is an Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University and a Fellow of the Australian Humanities Academy. He has published widely in the area of early modern women’s writing, including online editions of Mary Wroth’s poetry and of Love’s Victory. His most recent book is Editors Construct the Renaissance Canon, 1825–1915 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). He is working on a book on the eighteenth-century editing of early modern texts, with a focus on spelling, transcriptions, forgeries, and facsimiles. Emily  Shortslef  is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Kentucky. Her work has appeared in the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Exemplaria, and English Literary History. She is completing a book manuscript on the intersections of complaint and moral philosophy in Shakespeare’s tragedies with the working title Shakespeare and the Drama of Complaint: Address, Ethics, Action. Rosalind  Smith is Professor of English at the Australian National University. She is the author of Sonnets and the English Woman Writer, 1560–1621: The Politics of Absence (2005), co-editor of Material Cultures of Early Modern Women’s Writing (2014) and editor-in-chief, with Patricia Pender, of the Palgrave Digital Encyclopaedia of Early Modern Women’s Writing (2019). She holds a four-year research fellowship from the Australian Research Council for a project on early modern women’s marginalia and is Chief Investigator of the ARC-funded project Early Modern Women and the Poetry of Complaint, 1540–1660.


Notes on Contributors

Micheline  White is an Associate Professor in the College of the Humanities at Carleton University in Canada. She is the editor and co-­ editor of three volumes on early modern women’s book ownership and religious writing, including English Women, Religion, and Textual Production, 1500–1625 (2011) and Early Modern Women’s Bookscapes: Reading, Ownership, Circulation (with Leah Knight and Elizabeth Sauer, 2018). She has published numerous essays on Tudor and Jacobean women’s writing, and her work on Katherine Parr and Elizabeth I has been featured in the Times Literary Supplement (2015) and on the CBC’s Tapestry. Susan  Wiseman is Professor of Seventeenth-Century Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, where she teaches seventeenth-­ century and Renaissance literature. Her publications include Conspiracy and Virtue: Women, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (2006) and Writing Metamorphosis in the English Renaissance, 1550–1700 (2014), and she has edited a special issue of Renaissance Studies on the rhetoric of complaint (2008). She is a British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow. Gillian Wright  is Reader in English and Irish Literature at the University of Birmingham. She has published widely on early modern women’s writing, including Producing Women’s Poetry, 1600–1730: Text and Paratext, Manuscript and Print (2013), and she has edited the volumes Katherine Philips: Form, Reception and Literary Contexts (2018) and Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Poetry (with Jill Seal Millman, 2005). Her most recent monograph is The Restoration Transposed: Poetry, Place and History, 1660–1700 (2019) and she is editing Aphra Behn’s poetry for Cambridge University Press.




Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Early English Books Online, 1473–1700 English Short Title Catalogue (online) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford English Dictionary, online edition W. A. Jackson, J. F. Ferguson, and K. F. Pantzer, eds. A Short-­Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad 1475-1640. 2nd ed. 3 vols. London: 1986-1991. Text Encoding Initiative


List of Figures

Fig. 13.1 Fig. 13.2 Fig. 13.3 Fig. 14.1 Fig. 14.2

The entity-relationship model assumed to underlie all RECIRC data 274 Wireframe with uncertainty flag added 276 Wireframe with new fields for generic/named authorship and ascription282 A screenshot from the WordPress back-end of the entry to Pulter’s “A Solitary Discourse,” showing content-based tags. (Photo by the authors) 297 A flow-chart of expanded authorship options in the database. (Illustration by the authors) 301



Beyond Ovid: Early Modern Women’s Complaint Sarah C. E. Ross and Rosalind Smith

Upon My Lady Desmond’s Reproaching of Me Wrongfully What planet ruled at my unhappy birth That I am thus a burden to the earth? I never saw Content in any form, For all my life has ever been a storm. I wish to find a way to ease my cares But when I seek am blinded still with tears. My bluebird eyes may sometimes pity move, But to prevent the cause, I find not so much love. With downcast eyes I muse and sit alone, And often to myself I make my moan, And think I’m happiest when I’m most alone.

S. C. E. Ross (*) Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand e-mail: [email protected] R. Smith Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_1




Sometimes I mourn my losses and the dead, Then the unkindest things the living said To wound my tortured soul. But ah! It is in vain, For all these thoughts does but enhance my pain. To dead and living, my love too lasting for my ease, No galley slave does seek so much to please. Farewell those happy days I once did hope to ‘a’ had, And farewell to those thoughts, for fear they make me mad. Unhappy Feilding, whose wretched fate is such, Thou ever thinks too little or too much. Mount then my troubled soul and hence thy thoughts remove, Love Him that above all things seeks thy love.1

“Upon My Lady Desmond’s Reproaching of Me Wrongfully” is written into a commonplace book now held in the Beinecke Library, and is most likely by Frances (Dorothy) Feilding, who also composes poems in the same volume mourning the death of her husband and giving thanks for her narrow escape from death in 1684.2 Her poem on this occasion is written in response to a social slight, yet extends to broader discontents using the formal conventions, figures, and structures of the mode of complaint. “Blinded with tears,” the poem’s speaker rehearses her woes “alone,” mourning both her “losses and the dead” as well as the more immediate “unkindest things the living said.” The poem draws on popular traditions of complaint circulating from the sixteenth century onwards in its inclusion of personal, narrative elements deriving from a local social context. It also adopts a conventional series of complaint postures—solitary retirement, meditation on woe, and a final recourse to comfort in God—deriving from traditions of amatory, Ovidian, and devotional complaints. By the late seventeenth century, the probable date of this lyric’s composition, the diverse forms and vocabularies of complaint were immediately available for use by a woman writer in response to loss, grief, or discontent. Feilding’s poem participates in a long tradition of early modern complaint poetry: religious, political, and amatory, popular and elite, male and female authored. Complaint is a powerful and ubiquitous rhetorical mode in the English Renaissance, as the influential scholarship of John Kerrigan and others has recognised.3 It is very often female-voiced, foregrounding the voice and body of a lamenting woman, but until recently, “female complaint” has been understood almost solely as an act of male literary ventriloquy. Kerrigan describes “female complaint” as very rarely female



authored.4 Danielle Clarke, in foundational work on women writers’ use of Renaissance rhetorical traditions, suggests that in spite of its experimentation with the female voice, Renaissance complaint is largely “written, translated, and adapted by men for the consumption of men.”5 A relatively limited number of studies have focused on writing by Isabella Whitney, Lady Mary Wroth, and Aphra Behn,6 and some excellent recent explorations of female-authored complaints have begun to expand the discussion.7 However, as yet we have no sense of how women writers engaged with complaint collectively and how they used this culturally central mode to give voice to protest and loss. In part, this is because critical explorations of complaint by male and female early modern writers have centred on the specific legacies of Ovid’s Heroides.8 Our sense of the tradition continues to be defined by the secular, amorous, female-voiced complaints of the 1590s by Edmund Spenser, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, Michael Drayton, William Shakespeare, and others, which are shaped by the Ovidian template of amatory loss and transgression.9 These Ovidian models are vital, but Dorothy Feilding’s poem illustrates some of the challenges that complaint texts written by early modern women, including those recently retrieved from the archives, present to a largely Ovidian conception of the forms and capacities of the mode. Emerging in an idiosyncratic manuscript context at the later end of the period, Feilding’s lyric draws on a much broader set of associations, and a range of traditions that both encompass the Ovidian and extend beyond it. Her poem exemplifies just some of the ways in which early modern women engaged with complaint traditions, and points to complaint as a richer cultural and literary resource for women writers than has hitherto been imagined. This volume  is the first sustained interrogation of the ways in which early modern women participated in complaint, the diverse set of complaint models on which they drew, and how our sense of early modern complaint changes when female-authored examples are the focus. It not only uncovers new forms, new texts, and new authors across the early modern period, but also examines known texts by women writers as complaints for the first time, reconsidering how canonical women authors participated in the mode. In doing so, the chapters in this volume expand the definition of complaint, demonstrating its flexibility, breadth, and complexity as well as its significance for early modern expression. They demonstrate that complaint is as freighted and ubiquitous a form for early modern women writers as it is for men, a primary site for the early modern



subject to express experiences of grief, protest, and loss. This  volume traces the complex and varied history of complaint for early modern women writers, uncovering new kinds of plaint and plainants in its chapters, and providing new readings that promise to reconfigure our understanding of complaint more broadly.

Forms of Complaint: Mode, Genre, Voice In this volume and in the wider project on early modern women and complaint to which it belongs, we refer to complaint as a mode. This formulation builds upon Alistair Fowler’s suggestion that modes are “adjectival,” extending beyond formal structures to the expression of tone, or what Gerard Genette describes as “feeling.”10 As Barbara Lewalski notes, “modes seem to have evolved from certain historical genres (heroic from epic, pastoral from idyl and eclogue) and may interpenetrate works or parts of works in several genres.”11 She looks back to Sidney’s identification of eight categories of poetry as defined by modal qualities of tone or effect rather than metre or form: “the lamenting ‘Elegaick’; the ‘bitter but wholesome Iambick’; ‘the Satirick, who … sportingly … make[s] a man laugh at follie’; the ‘Lyricke … who with his tuned Lyre and well accorded voice, giveth praise’.”12 In John Frow’s summary, modes “specify thematic features and certain forms and modalities of speech, but not the formal structures or even the semiotic medium through which the text is to be realised.”13 By contrast, genre is nominative—it signifies a more specific set of textual features, whether thematic, rhetorical, or formal—and sub-­ genre a more specific set again. If complaint is a mode in the Renaissance, then “female complaint” is a genre within that mode—characterised by a time-bound constellation of thematic, rhetorical, and formal conventions. This capacious definition of complaint as mode is a modern one. Early modern literary commentators do not refer to “complaint” directly as either mode or genre, although they do discuss complaint within taxonomies of elegy and lamentation. Puttenham identifies writers: who sought the fauor of faire Ladies, and coueted to bemone their estates at large, & the perplexities of loue in a certain pitious verse called Elegie, and thence were called the Elegiack: such among the Latines were Ouid, Tibullus & Propertius.14



He later identifies “a certain lover’s complaint made to like effect” in a discussion of the rhetorical device of escalation, auxesis, situating this discussion in a wider context of texts of protest, beginning with one from Carus “inveighing sore against the abuses of the superstitious religion of the gentiles.”15 This sense of complaint as directed specifically towards the experience of love’s loss and more generally against the times is also found in Sir Philip Sidney’s discussion of the “elegiac” who “weeps the want of his mistress,” as well as the “lamenting elegaic”: which in a kind heart would move rather pity than blame; who bewails … the weakness of mankind and the wretchedness of the world; who surely is to be praised, either for compassionate accompanying just causes of lamentation, or for rightly painting out how weak be the passions of woefulness?16

Tone links this range of laments, directed towards experiences of loss and grievance in diverse circumstances identified as variously amorous (want), spiritual (weakness), and political (the wretchedness of the world): a stance of grief or protest in the face of loss or abandonment, directed towards generating recognition and compassion in its audience. Early modern poets and writers use the term “complaint” in similarly flexible and imprecise ways, often invoking “complaint” in their titles, such as Samuel Daniel’s Complaint of Rosamond and George Herbert’s “Complaining,” and investing the term with a mobility that encompasses modal, generic, and occasional use. Such early modern approaches to complaint are overlain with earlier classical taxonomies, including the Socratic triad of authorial, figural, and mixed speech and the Aristotelian division of literary genres into the epic, the dramatic, and the lyric. These are enunciative structures—different forms of the representation of speech—that propose the organisation of texts based on how they are presented to their audiences.17 These models contribute to how complaint has been understood in recent criticism: in terms of oratory and the production of voice in the humanist schoolroom, through the Ovidian models that prevailed in Renaissance literary culture. Ovid’s Heroides, in particular, provided a rich archive of templates for the expression of female loss and abandonment, with its verse letters written from the point of view of the “heroines” of Roman history to the lovers who have abandoned or mistreated them. So, too, did the catalogue of violated and transgressed women in his Metamorphoses, who appear in fresh incarnations through the poetic and dramatic texts of the Renaissance.



Penelope and Niobe, Philomela and Hecuba are the paradigmatic voices of early modern “female complaint,” and as Lynn Enterline has explored, the imitation of these voices of by male humanist schoolboys was foundational to the creation of character in English Renaissance literary texts, generating a language of female emotion that was closely associated with woe. Imitatio as a humanist praxis was a mainstay of grammar schoolboys’ education, and centred on the writing of female complaint voices drawn from classical precedent. The humanist writer’s task, to “imitate, feel, and convincingly move in others” the woes of Hecuba or Niobe was, in Enterline’s words, a “habit of alterity,” in which “transfers of affect elide the difference between identities” of author and speaking female character.18 The early modern female voices of Ovidian complaint are, in this way, most fully understood in terms of male writers’ complex prosopopoeiae, the figure of speech in which an imagined, absent, or dead person or thing is represented as speaking, and have predominantly been associated with male authors’ production of the effect of female emotion.19 The “female” voices of Hecuba et  al. are central to the early modern complaint, but these are female voices produced by men. What of women writers? How might the “emotion scripts” of these Ovidian classical models be taken up by girls and women?20 This is a crucial question in understanding early modern women writers’ engagement with complaint, and one that has been the crux of feminist critical considerations to date. Danielle Clarke’s early considerations of women’s own complaint writings explore the availability (or otherwise) of Ovidian complaint forms to the woman writer, and argue that they provided “an overdetermined literary tradition,” in which the female voice is always and inevitably “problematically rhetoricised.”21 Katharine Craik takes this argument further, noting that “it is striking how few women actually authored complaints” and situating complaint as part of “the well-documented early modern literary phenomenon of allowing female speech primarily as a means of silencing it.”22 These foundational arguments about the affordances of the classical complaint tradition for women writers provide a starting point for our current discussion, but they are challenged by a newly expanded corpus of female-authored complaints that we and others have identified, and by new approaches arising from work expanding early modern women’s writing as a field of enquiry.23 Our volume, for this reason, includes chapters on the orthodox women complaint writers Isabella Whitney, Mary Wroth, and Aphra Behn; it provides readings of well-known works written by



Anne Lock, Katherine Parr, Elizabeth I, Mary Sidney Herbert, Elizabeth Cary, Aemilia Lanyer, and Anne Killigrew as complaints, with a newly-­ refined sense of what that means; and it introduces lesser-known writers into the frame, in Constance Aston Fowler, Dorothy Feilding, Anne, Lady Southwell, Lady Hester Pulter, and Mary Rowlandson. Further, the volume examines comparators such as the satirical female voices of Scottish broadsides and the querelle des femmes, as well as producing new readings of complaint in Milton and Shakespeare. Exploring this expanded corpus, the chapters in this volume build on recent feminist formalism, incorporating the call to pay closer attention to the formal qualities of women’s writing into a broader feminist reconsideration of mode, genre, and voice.24 Once the tonal modalities of complaint are recognised across a wide range of texts by women (as well as men), the formal and stylistic qualities of these texts are thrown into sharper relief, informing readings that engage with history and politics alongside rhetoric and form. Together, the chapters in this volume reconsider the formal parameters and characteristics of complaint itself, looking beyond Ovid towards the religious, vernacular, and legal influences on the mode, and recognising a range of new complaint authors, voices, and forms.

Complaint and the Early Modern Woman Writer: Religion, Politics, and the Marketplace One central question that this volume and our wider project seek to address is: what rhetorical precedents were available to early modern women writers of complaint, given their exclusion from the formal institutions that so informed the humanist education of boys and men? Lynn Enterline’s Afterword to this volume reminds us of the communities of male-authored complaint: “the disciplinary and discursive regimes of the grammar school and the Inns of Court,” the “skill-contending schools” evoked in The Rape of Lucrece. Do women writers in this period, excluded from these “skill-contending schools,” take up different kinds of “emotion scripts” deriving from models of complaint and characterisation other than the Ovidian? We cannot assume that elite girls and women had no access to classical humanist models. Jennifer Richards’s work on oral reading in the Renaissance insists on shared contexts for the absorption of Renaissance books,25 and siblings such as Lady Alice Egerton and her younger brothers, tutored by Henry Lawes, clearly shared much of their



early education, at least in lyric and musical and dramatic performance. But girls’ physical absence from the Shakespearean schoolroom undoubtedly had an effect, and recent discoveries surrounding women’s education, reading, and book ownership suggest variations in emphasis and specifics. Perhaps most significantly, women’s education was more prevalently religious, the Bible at the heart of their reading and writing practices.26 Our early analysis of women’s booklists, marks of book ownership, and manuscript compilation practices suggests a variant or complementary corpus of influential complaint texts. The best-selling religious complaints of Robert Southwell, for example, appear in multiple sources: Saint Peter’s Complaint (1595) is present in the Countess of Bridgewater’s Library alongside several other of his devotional texts; it is repackaged in the manuscripts gifted by Elizabeth Middleton to other women, and other of his religious complaints feature in the manuscript of Constance Aston Fowler.27 Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas’s Divine Weeks and Works was read widely by women as well as men, and its influence on women writers is increasingly widely recognised—as it is in Danielle Clarke’s chapter in this volume.28 Another ubiquitous set of complaint lyrics can be found in the songbooks owned or compiled by girls and women, full of amorous complaints set to music by Thomas Campion, Thomas Morley, and John Dowland.29 Certainly, the Bible remains the most commonly overlooked source of complaint voices and forms, for women as well as men. Jeremiah and Job, the Psalms and Lamentations, offer complaint voices that pervade early modern literary culture, including the reading and writing of women. David’s Psalms provided “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul,” in the famous words of Calvin, expressing a range of emotions including “griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities.”30 A number of other biblical voices enabled a wide range of complaint articulations, from the inconsolable to the highly strategic. Imitation and paraphrase of the Song of Songs tapped into the febrile overlap of secular and sacred yearning that underpins much devotional complaint, as the work of Elizabeth Clarke and others has revealed.31 Rich, interrelated Catholic and Protestant traditions of Marian lament by Robert Southwell, Thomas Lodge, Nicholas Breton, and others provide models for amatory and penitential complaint for women writers, while the petitionary complaints of Queen Esther illustrate the supplicatory affordances of biblical complaint forms.32 The lamentations of Jeremiah provide the stuff of a complaint poem by the Scotswoman Barbara MacKay, Lady Reay as well as the better-known



example by John Donne, while Job’s earthly trials were a specific template for complaint in times of tribulation.33 Women’s fluid and creative engagements with the Bible as readers and writers have been increasingly well explored in recent years, but only infrequently in terms of “complaint” as a vein of expression and a set of religious models that were alternative to, or at times interwoven with, the Ovidian.34 Not unlike the ventriloquy that is so familiar from the secular, amorous, female-voiced complaints of the 1590s, religious voices of complaint and lamentation are open to fluid occupation across gender binaries. The devotional imperative to voice a meditative longing for Christ initiates a strand of poetic articulation that apostrophises not the absent earthly lover of the amorous complaint, but divine, eternal love; and the trope of Christ as the bridegroom of the faithful underpins a centuries-long tradition of such devotional complaint being female-voiced. The trope is based on the erotics of the biblical Song of Solomon, the Song’s language of ravishment being taken up to express the faithful’s desire for Christ: “let him kisse me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine” (1:2). John Donne famously expresses his yearning for Christ as a desire to be ravished by him, and male writers from James Melville in Scotland to George Herbert and beyond adopt the feminised subject position of the bride. And just as male authors occupy the devotional voice of the bride with ease, so women writers move freely from the petitionary and penitential voices of Esther and Mary to those of Job and Jeremiah, as a means of articulating a spectrum of emotions and purposes from abject woe to precise and purposeful critique, or for structuring a providential narrative of displacement and loss. Christ’s love may be inaccessible until after death, as so many devotional complaints make clear, but the sinner’s voice is as open to women writers as it is to men. Beyond Ovid, then, lie a plethora of complaint voices in which women readers, compilers, writers, and performers engaged. Other complaint voices, occluded by the Renaissance—and our—fascination with the Ovidian, are found in the vernacular English traditions of medieval love poetry, ballads and broadsides, bill-postings, and peasant complaint. Wendy Scase has meticulously explored medieval cultures of legal complaint—“the expression of complaint as a means of obtaining a judicial remedy”—and its impact in generating what she terms the medieval “literature of clamour”: love lyrics and other literary texts that rely on judicial plaint for their topics, forms, and language, and sometimes even the material conditions of their production and transmission.35 Renaissance texts



too were flavoured by the more demotic voices and instrumental versions of complaint that Scase uncovers, but continuities with these medieval versions of the mode have been insufficiently explored. Expanding our sense of complaint voices and traditions beyond the Ovidian is not only driven by an expansion of the archive of women’s writings: it also arises out of recognising known voices as complaint voices, and repositioning known texts as complaint texts, revealing in new ways the language, tropes, and structures of complaint at play in their texts. The feminised Petrarchism of Mary Wroth’s sonnets and pastorals, for example, can be read in complaint terms, disrupting the binary between male Petrarchism and female complaint inscribed in critical discussion of canonical 1590s poetry.36 Looking beyond the literary canon and beyond Ovid for the precedents and traditions of early modern women’s complaint texts reveals a mode that is porous, diverse, and complex, with considerable affective and effective purchase on the circumstances it laments and protests. Through this expanded understanding of complaint as a mode, the chapters in this volume also open up new ways of understanding how complaint was circulated, marketed, and sold. It is orthodox to note that the late Elizabethan vogue for complaint self-consciously drew attention to the mode’s tendency towards competitive imitation in the marketplace. Samuel Daniel is the first to pair the sonnet sequence with female complaint in his publication of the full cycle of sonnets of Delia directly followed by The Complaint of Rosamond. Rosamond’s complaint includes a proleptic lament against poetic obscurity relative to her predecessors: No Muse suggests the pitty of my case, Each Pen doth ouerpasse my iust complaint, Whilst others are preferd, though far more base; Shores wife is grac’d and passes for a Saint; Her Legend iustifies her foule attaint. Her wel-told tale did such compassion find, That she is pass’d, and I am left behind.37

For Rosamond, competitive advantage is achieved by mobilising “compassion” in the reader, who also might be involved in writing his or her own complaints with reference to successful exemplars. Wendy Wall argues that Rosamond’s anxiety over literary authority parallels some of Samuel Daniel’s strategies for prosecuting his own poetic authority in a competitive marketplace. Publishing Delia and The Complaint of Rosamond



together stages Daniel’s emergence as a public writer, in a form of literary cross-dressing that “functions as the legitimating ground for articulating literary authority.”38 This influential reading of male authors manipulating the genre of complaint in order to create a new, public form of courtiership and a bid for laureate status has tended to overlook, however, the variety of other ways in which complaint was marketed and sold in the early modern period. The chapters in this volume explore alternative models of complaint’s circulation. They show complaint used to establish religious and political programmes, especially in the mid-Tudor period, as well as to promote authors’ own interests in  local political contexts, as poets, courtiers, and advocates in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Evident across these chapters is a nuanced model of women’s use of complaint to pursue diverse personal, religious, and political interests, as well as a surprisingly broad range of ways in which complaint was marketed and sold to achieve those aims. One constant in early modern women’s use of complaint is the mobilisation of community: the sympathetic listeners whose “compassion” activates complaint’s affective strategies in achieving its poetic, religious, and political ends. In contrast to the bereft female speaker overheard in Elizabethan male-authored complaint, and on whose isolation criticism to date has insisted, the chapters in this volume show women writers situating their plainants in networks of literary, social, and political exchange.39 At one level these communities are inscribed within the complaint texts themselves. Caves and valleys echo a speaker’s voice, two plainants engage in dialogue, a single auditor or a group listen in sympathy, while another puts an oral tale into writing for a new audience because she “found her estate so neere agree[s] with mine.”40 On another level, these communities operate through their modes of circulation, whether manuscript, print, or song, forming receptive audiences aligned with the plainant through shared emotions, shared experience, or imaginative sympathy. Our examples open up multiple new models of complaint communities, grounded in music, speech, reading, and writing, and located in the natural, human, and material worlds. As Kate Lilley explores in her chapter, via the contemporary affect theorist Lauren Berlant, the “common emotional world” of gendered experience from which complaint draws its power speaks from the early modern period to the contemporary, motivating the female complaint voices of early modern texts, and the feminist and queer scholars who claim a relationship to them.



The ways in which our volume embeds early modern women’s complaint in broader literary traditions of plaint and communities of woe offer a revision of earlier readings of women’s participation in the mode, those that were predicated on models of isolation, absence, and exception. These models are exemplified in one of the few readings of the Dorothy Feilding complaint with which this chapter opens, where Feilding’s poems are seen to be “private autobiographical material” that show “no sign that they are intended for an audience other than God and Feilding herself.”41 The many examples of early modern women’s engagement with complaint that precede this poem suggest a different narrative, one where Feilding writes into an existing textual tradition of complaint that was widely circulated, performed, and imitated. In her mix of the local, existential, and devotional, combining complaint conventions with new metaphors such as “bluebird eyes,” Feilding’s poem exemplifies the ways in which late seventeenth-century women participated in textual communities within the mode, and looked outwards towards generating their own collectives of sympathetic readers, engaged in Sidney’s “compassionate accompanying” of others’ laments.42 By the 1680s, the mode of early modern complaint contained within it a century and a half of rhetorical experimentation, forming a rich resource of women’s engagement with the mode for a writer such as Feilding to exploit. Complaint’s practitioners towards the end of the seventeenth century drew on a range of precedents from a female- and male-authored tradition, demonstrating the mode’s increasing potential and flexibility for women writers as complaint took on new forms in the marketplace.

Ovid and Beyond The chapters in this volume explore new forms, new texts, and new authors of complaint from the 1560s to the 1680s, expanding the parameters of early modern complaint literature well before and beyond the late sixteenth-­century apogee of the male-authored “female complaint.” Susan Felch is the first of several contributors to consider women’s religious writing within Protestant devotional cultures, extending the critical language of complaint into women’s biblical writings (and vice versa) in new ways, and considering the voices and formal elements of religious complaint as it was taken up by women writers. Focusing on letters and poems circulating in the community of John Knox and his associates, including Anne Lock, Felch in Chap. 2  offers a taxonomy of three kinds of



“theologically-inflected” complaint: the prophetic, the petitionary, and the penitential. The latter, in particular, engendered the “intense and personal encounters between a penitent and a personal deity” that are familiar to us from the rich literatures of—and about—the biblical psalms in early modern culture. Claire Costley King’oo and others have explored the articulation of suffering in the psalms of lament and of penitence, and the direction of the psalmist’s complaint towards restitution;43  but this rich discussion of the psalmic poetry of plaint and supplication has only rarely been brought into conversation with complaint as a broader rhetorical mode. Felch’s analysis provides a new consideration of how biblical complaint might work differently from its secular variations: as an articulation directed to penitence, a working through “the depths of sin” and into grace. Felch draws necessary attention to the performance of penitential complaint, insisting that in its psalmic and prayerful context, complaint “is formative as well as instructive”; it is “not something one merely watches or reads; it is something one enters into and does” (emphasis added). Continuing the focus on religious complaint, Chap. 3 reveals the ways in which women’s biblical complaints not only engaged personal languages of petition and penance, but provided powerful forms of social and political engagement. Micheline White considers the way complaint functions in Katherine Parr’s Psalms or Prayers (1544) and Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner (1547), arguing that Parr activates complaint’s political potential in the service of a national wartime agenda linked to the church calendar and in response to specific political crises. Parr’s royal status and her influence over Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I mean that her complaint texts are an acute example of a paradox inherent in complaint, productively engaged by many writers: if complaint is in its nature the articulation of loss and disenfranchisement, the pathos of its articulation (especially if feminised) can generate a trenchant critique of those in power, and a call to action. White traces a movement in Parr’s two texts from complaining for an embattled Henry VIII in 1544 to complaining about the Henrician church in 1547, the first underpinned by a radical ventriloquy of Henry himself, in Parr’s adoption of a psalmic, monarchical “I.” That Parr inhabits the Davidic “I” with such ease is both striking and unsurprising: as White argues, practices of reading, writing, performing, and praying through the psalms meant that: early modern readers were accustomed to reading the Davidic “I” in multiple registers simultaneously and some of those registers were n ­ on-­gendered:



the psalmic “I” was understood to be that of David, of Christ, of every male and female Christian, and of the community.

Parr, then, initially achieves her literary authority through cross-dressing, engaging in religio-political complaint both for and as her husband, Henry VIII. But she later assumes the identity of the dowager queen in her Lamentations, displaying a variety of strategies through which literary authority was constructed for the Tudor woman writer. Scottish propagandistic broadsides in the late 1560s, explored by Tricia McElroy in Chap. 4, contain a rich cache of female voices raised in critique and protest against Mary Queen of Scots and her supporters in the period of civil war following the queen’s overthrow in 1567. Broadside poetry in this context modulates between exhortation, admonition, invective, and “the softer tones of complaint,” illustrating the lability of complaint and the tonal permeability inherent in the mode. These Scottish complaints are demotic, propagandistic, and ephemeral; they drive us beyond the elite poetic sphere and into the satirical and exhortative end of the complaint spectrum, connecting complaint to invective and generating a visceral version of complaint against the times. McElroy insists on the multiple “older and interpenetrating literary traditions” on which the Scottish broadsides drew, linking early modern complaint to the various and jostling languages of plaint, protest, and petition current in medieval texts. In doing so, she reveals the continuities in complaint culture across a long view of English and Scottish literary culture, and helps us to reframe and recontextualise the satiric edge to the voices of Eve in women’s complaint poetry and beyond, in the querelle des femmes and in other contexts where female-­ voiced lamentation is proximate to petition, protest, and a call to action. These Scottish complaints are likely to be female-voiced rather than female-authored, although McElroy argues that traces of real women’s voices are to be found in their prosopopoeiae. Where these  chapters on sixteenth-century complaints emphasise the religious, vernacular, and satirical complaint traditions on which women writers drew, Lindsay Ann Reid reminds us that for some women, Ovid was indeed the defining literary model. In Chap. 5,  Reid explores the poetry of Isabella Whitney, already recognised as one of the preeminent female imitators of Ovid in the early modern period. Reid traces ways in which Whitney models The Copy of a Letter (c. 1566) on Ovid’s Heroides, extending important work on the Ovidian resonances of that volume. But it is her reading of Whitney’s second volume, A Sweet Nosgay, in relation



to her first that enables Reid to present a quite radical recasting of Whitney’s “brief Ovidian career.” A Sweet Nosgay’s Ovidian influence is, Reid argues, not the Heroides but the “Tristian model of the poetic plainant-­in-exile” that derives from Ovid’s Tristia, composed in exile at the end of his career. Where others have read Whitney’s “Wyll and Testament” as an extension of the Heroidean model, the city of London as “the last and greatest in a sequence of cruel male lovers,” Reid relocates Whitney’s later complaints into the context of Ovid’s poetry of exile, where he, like Whitney, is loath to leave his country, and looks back at the city from a perspective of actual or imagined exile. In Reid’s analysis, Whitney’s poetic complaints, and her career arc as a complaint writer, become not less Ovidian but more so. Whitney emerges as a woman writer quite remarkable in the way she “drew upon and strategically redefined” the form of established male literary authority that Ovid’s own career provided. In the extent to which Ovidian models thus defined Whitney’s poetic output, there is perhaps no parallel until Aphra Behn’s paraphrase of “Oenone to Paris” in 1680, the focus of Gillian Wright’s chapter later in the volume. Moving into the seventeenth century, the complaints explored in the next several  chapters engage politics and literary form in new ways. In Chap. 6, Emily Shortslef explores the complaints of Mariam, the eponymous heroine of Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam, now a fixture in the canon of early modern women’s texts. Shortslef takes up a definition of “complaining” as it was characterised in Stoic moral philosophy: as “the rhetoric of recalcitrant resistance to fate.” She argues that Mariam’s complaints are an “impassioned, articulate resistance to the inexorable decrees of fate and to the rule of reason,” thematising her “inability to seamlessly inhabit her subject position and her inability to govern her irrational impulses.” For Shortslef, Mariam’s complaints articulate the conflict of her will, conceived as a kind of “contested territory—the part of the self for control of which reason and passion famously battle.” This formulation draws on Lisa Freinkel’s description of “will” as denoting both “rational volition” and “irrational desire.” Mariam is unable to shape her desires towards what reason deems good, and at the heart of the conflict of her will is her conflicted desire to claim self-sovereignty against the absolutist sovereignty of Herod. Countersovereign power, Shortslef argues, is located in Mariam’s complaints. Cary, then, takes up the female-voiced mode of complaint so often associated with allegorical women to represent the complex subjectivity of her play’s protagonist, a subjectivity whose



internal conflicts are integral to the play’s politics, and to its interrogation of individual feeling and public action. In Chap. 7,  Paul Salzman  explores, via complaint, the relationship between private feeling and politics in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory and The Second Part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania. Salzman suggests that across these two texts, Wroth uses “a new hybrid genre that combines complaint and resignation to produce something like a dialectic of political/personal intervention.” Complaint, he suggests, is “a bridge between the personal and political, inflected differently in the play and the romance.” Love’s Victory is materially and textually different in the two extant scripts—the Penshurst and Huntington manuscripts—but both play out across the “landscape of discontent” of pastoral complaint, and in both, this landscape is riven with struggles, between lovers and with figures of authority. Complaint in this context articulates a kind of “dirty pain”: an “obsessive focus on self-criticism, diminishing self-worth and self-torment.” Urania, in Salzman’s reading, “replays the complaint scenarios of Love’s Victory with a sharper political focus,” as the attempts to subvert authority that are implicit in the play are explicit in the romance. Women’s complaints in Urania give way to “a more constructive expression of their position,” with complaint “harnessed for resistance, and even more importantly for self-recognition.” As in Shortslef’s reading of Mariam, complaint in Wroth’s Urania is used to “assert a modicum of rebellion” against sovereign power, articulating personal and political resistance and autonomy. Danielle Clarke explores in Chap. 8 several women poets’ deployments of Eve, with a range of emotional valences familiar from Ovidian expression (guilt, innocence, abjection), the querelle des femmes (argumentation), and the juridical language and framing of the legal petition. Eve is especially resonant for women writers, “a metonymic everywoman” in Clarke’s words, whose biblical and extra-biblical cultural and literary inscriptions enable overlapping articulations of grief, culpability, argumentation, and resistance. Aemilia Lanyer foregrounds Eve, Pilate’s wife, and the Daughters of Jerusalem as voices of petition as well as lamentation in her Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, while she takes up the language of the legal complaint in “Eve’s Apologie.” Anne Southwell’s witty Eve owes much to the versions of the biblical mother in the querelle des femmes, capitalising on its contestatory rhetoric and structures to argue for women’s equality with men. Lucy Hutchinson gives the lamenting Eve emotional primacy in Order and Disorder—an inversion, Clarke argues, of Milton’s



hierarchy of emotion in Paradise Lost. In the diversity of their inflections and cultural and literary origins, and in the diversity of their deployments, the voices of Eve that Clarke traces illustrate the multiplicity of complaint traditions on which women writers drew, and which enabled them to engage a particular kind of ethopoeia across a wide range of texts. This chapter also suggests ways in which complex considerations of female complaint recast our sense of gender and emotion in canonical male-­ authored texts. Clarke reads Adam’s lament at the Fall in Book 10 of Paradise Lost as repurposing female-voiced complaint, as Milton “appropriates well-known and easily identifiable conventions of female-voiced complaint to re-inscribe Adam’s subjection to the authority of God.” Sarah C. E. Ross’s exploration of complaint and Echo in Chap. 9 also uses a reconsideration of “female complaint” to re-read a male-authored text, bringing Milton’s A Masque Performed at Ludlow Castle [Comus] into conversation with the mid-seventeenth-century poetry of Hester Pulter. Ross focuses on the figure and the myth of Echo as a “complaint marker,” resonating and repeating through pastoral complaint texts from the canonical (Shakespeare’s A Lover’s Complaint, Spenser’s The Teares of the Muses) to the lesser known. Echo, she suggests, is typically associated in complaint criticism with deceptiveness and isolation—but Echo is “a capacious myth with multiple and often contradictory affordances,” and in multiple complaint texts it offers a figure of female answer, dialogue, and sympathy for the complaining female speaker. Ross reads the Echo song of the Lady in Comus as a pastoral complaint lyric embodied in sung performance, utilising the virtuosity of complaint to link the Lady to Sabrina— another nymph of the landscape who provides succour where Echo is silent. Bringing Milton’s Lady into dialogue with the complaining female speakers of Hester Pulter’s pastoral lyrics, Ross suggests an extended use of Echo and her sister nymphs in the landscape to generate pastoral communities of feminised sympathy. Ross’s chapter, like Danielle Clarke’s, illustrates the way in which new, female-authored texts, and close reading of their complaint voices, motivate reconsideration of canonical texts by men as well as women. It also insists on complaint as generating communities of sympathy, cutting across the isolation of complaining female speakers on which much complaint criticism focuses, and turning attention instead to the intra- and extra-textual collectivities that female-voiced complaint instantiates. Ross’s chapter points forward to the Restoration vogue for complaint that is the context for the next three  chapters in the volume: Gillian



Wright’s exploration of Aphra Behn’s “A Paraphrase on Oenone to Paris” (1680), Susan Wiseman’s of Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682), and Kate Lilley’s of Anne Killigrew’s verse. In Chap.10, Wright describes 1680 as a watershed year, marking “a key point of transition within Restoration literature.” The death of the earl of Rochester and the posthumous publication of his Poems on Several Occasions, along with the propagandistic poetry published around the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, can be seen retrospectively to mark a decisive moment in consolidating print as the dominant medium for poetic publication. In this context, Aphra Behn contributed “A Paraphrase on Oenone to Paris,” a Heroidean female-voiced complaint, to Dryden’s Ovid’s Epistles, Translated by Several Hands (1680). For Dryden, Wright argues, Ovid’s Epistles “represented both a significant career shift and an opportunity to comment on contemporary politics and sexuality”—but this Ovidian volume was not only a career milestone for Dryden. Behn, too, took advantage of the invitation to contribute to advance her own career, building on her recent success in the theatre and seeking to shore up her status as a poet. Just as Lindsay Ann Reid’s chapter traces the role of Ovidian complaint in shaping the poetic career of Isabella Whitney in the 1560s and 1570s, so Wright argues that the invitation to translate the Heroidean “Oenone to Paris” enabled Behn to “expand her generic range,” providing a template for her publication of a number of later translations, and her “entrée to elite 1680s poetry.” Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682), the focus of Chap. 11 by Susan Wiseman, contrasts sharply with Behn’s Ovidian paraphrase, and reveals the ongoing diversity of voices, forms, and genres of women’s complaint in the Restoration. Rowlandson was a colonial settler in the isolated New England town of Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, who was caught up in the armed conflict between colonists and Native Americans led by Metacom, sachem to the Wampanoag people, known as “King Philip’s War” (1675–1678). Forced into an arduous series of “removals” by conflict in her settler home of Lancaster, Rowlandson writes a narrative voiced through and structured by the books of Deuteronomy and Job. Wiseman relocates this text, usually interpreted as a captivity narrative, into relation to these religious models, highlighting again the Bible’s affordances for the expression of political exclusion and religious suffering. Wiseman builds on Susan Felch’s chapter and its taxonomy of “theologically-inflected” complaint in Anne Lock’s circle as divisible into the prophetic, penitential, and petitionary. Rowlandson, in



Wiseman’s analysis, moves between the latter two categories, the penitential and petitionary: “Put simply, the psalms and Job voice her pain, and in speaking with Job, she speaks with one who has sinned and yet has, hugely, suffered in the single subject’s experience of what is promised by the covenant for all.” Like Felch’s, White’s, and Clarke’s chapters earlier in this volume, Wiseman’s analysis of Rowlandson’s The sovereignty and goodness of God offers important new insight into the valences of religious complaint and its uses across a wide range of female-authored texts. In Chap. 12 on Anne Killigrew’s poetry, Kate Lilley returns us to the English Restoration court of Charles II—and to the readily recognisable poetic cultures of complaint, on whose full resources Killigrew drew. Lilley’s analysis looks back to earlier seventeenth-century women’s complaint poetry, including that of Katherine Philips, one of Killigrew’s models, even while she locates Killigrew’s performance of complaint precisely within the dissolute Restoration court in which she wrote. Killigrew’s aunt, Elizabeth, was a mistress of Charles II, lampooned in a notorious pornographic satire of 1663, and against this background, the young poet cultivated an authorial persona of “anti-libertine disdain.” Moving between poems that engage complaint’s signature prosopopoeia and writing in her own persona, Killigrew articulates the intertwined complaint postures of suffering, wronged virtue, and self-possession. Lilley describes Killigrew’s complaints as “formally overdetermined”; like Dorothy Feilding, but in a different register, Killigrew draws on the rich repertoire of complaint markers, tones, and forms familiar to the woman writer and her readers by the late seventeenth century. Lilley also connects Killigrew and other early modern women complaint writers to the contemporary feminist and queer scholars who document them, drawing on the contemporary affect theorist Lauren Berlant’s sense of a “common emotional world available to those individuals who have been marked by the historical burden of being harshly treated in a generic way.” For Lilley, complaint motivates both early modern women’s writing and the scholars who study it, in a formulation that identifies the diachronic affordances of the complaint mode for the articulation of what Lilley describes as “gendered cultural, aesthetic, and erotic experience.” The final two chapters in this volume also reach forward to twenty-first-­ century critical methodologies, examining how digital methods offer both new ways of taxonomising complaint and new complexities of form, authorship, and voice. In Chap. 13,  Marie-Louise Coolahan and Erin McCarthy directly tackle the question of how to capture and represent



attributions to early modern women, as part of their development of a database mapping the reception and circulation of early modern women’s writing. Their broad and flexible definition of a woman author includes identifying all texts attributed to women between 1550 and 1700, based on titular, situational, historical, and textual evidence that a text was believed to have been written by a woman, or contributed to her reputation as an author. This reception-based approach has opened up a number of new types and examples of complaint poetry discussed in this chapter, as well as provocatively calling on us to question what we mean by the categories “early modern women” and “complaint.” Coolahan and McCarthy additionally suggest digital avenues of approaching and representing uncertainty of authorship and ascription that were not taken in developing their data model, but might inform future scholarship. These suggested models are, in part, exemplified in Chap. 14, which deals with digital methods of representing early modern women’s complaint poetry from 1530 to 1680 in the first and last line index that is part of the wider project from which this volume emerges. Jake Arthur and Rosalind Smith discuss the complexities of authorship, voice, and form that were involved in developing this corpus, as well as how humanities scholarship and digital design can intersect to ask new questions of their material, to visualise that material in new ways, and to reinvent the bibliographic tools that allow users of a database access to its materials. Their chapter shows not only the formal variety within early modern women’s practice of complaint and a surprising number of women complaint writers, but also the extent to which well-known women writers participated in the mode. Establishing this corpus involved complex decisions about how to represent uncertainty of attribution and form as they intersect with considerations of gender, politics, and bibliography in digital media. Both of these concluding chapters illustrate the ways in which digital humanities projects are driving new understandings of early modern texts. Digital forms constitute a crucible in which ingredients are put together in new combinations, forcing its practitioners to revisit normative positions and to question orthodox definitions and boundaries.44 Most notably, these digital representations of complaint poetry bring difficult cases to new prominence. Where once those examples would have been situated at the edge of a textual field, the taxonomies required by digital encoding demand that these difficult texts drive our definitions in the first place. Both chapters mark a key moment in digital humanities scholarship, as it intersects with non-digital methodologies, definitions, and assumptions in



ways that make us look differently at the categories defining our field. As Johanna Drucker argues of the challenges posed by the digital humanities, “the deepest error is to imagine that the task ahead is a technical one, not an intellectual and cultural one.”45

Conclusion Just as the digital humanities is beginning to reframe how we understand our broader taxonomies of authorship and form, this volume examines the specific mode of complaint in order to reconsider how we understand, categorise, and represent early modern women and their textual engagements. Its chapters show that complaint was more expansive and diverse in its forms than has been assumed, and was practised by both canonical and unknown women writers to a far greater extent than has been recognised. The volume opens up new texts, new writers, and new understandings of how texts circulated and how they were received, heightened by their representation in digital forms. In a reconceptualisation of the mode of complaint on multiple levels, these chapters collectively shift how we think about women, writing, performance, authorship, and attribution by putting pressure on our assumptions about complaint itself as a form available to male as well as female writers. Once the forms of complaint are reconsidered through their intersection with gender, new heuristic possibilities emerge around the intersection of form with emotion, practice, politics, and the material cultures of circulation, transmission, and reception. Complaint emerges as a crucial but overlooked mode for the early modern woman writer. It is a mode that women engaged with variously to make critical interventions in literary, political, and religious life across the early modern period, as well as one that was available to all writers as a site of reinvention and cultural intervention in ways that include, and extend beyond, Ovidian imitation.

Notes 1. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, MS Osborn b. 226, 86–87. We have modernised the text of the poem. 2. The manuscript is discussed in Alison Shell, “‘Often to my Self I make my mone’: Early Modern Women’s Poetry from the Feilding Family,” in Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Poetry: Selected Papers from the Trinity-Trent Colloquium, ed. Victoria E.  Burke and Jonathan Gibson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 259–78.



3. John Kerrigan, ed. Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint”: A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 1. See also Lawrence Lipking, Abandoned Women and the Poetic Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988) and Götz Schmitz, The Fall of Women in Early English Narrative Verse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). 4. Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 2. See also Elizabeth D. Harvey, Ventriloquized Voices: Feminist Theory and English Renaissance Texts (London and New York: Routledge, 1998). 5. Danielle Clarke, “‘Form’d into words by your divided lips’: Women, Rhetoric and the Ovidian Tradition,” in “This Double Voice”: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England, ed. Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), 61. 6. See, for example, Betty Travitsky, “The ‘Wyll and Testament’ of Isabella Whitney,” English Literary Renaissance 10, no. 1 (1980): 76–94; Wendy Wall, “Isabella Whitney and the Female Legacy,” English Literary History 58, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 35–62; M.  L. Stapleton, “Edmund Spenser, George Turberville, and Isabella Whitney Read Ovid’s Heroides,” Studies in Philology (2008): 487–519; Rosalind Smith, “‘I Thus Goe Arm’d to Field’: Lindamira’s Complaint,” Meridian: The La Trobe University English Review 18, no. 1 (2001): 73–85; Clare R. Kinney, “Turn and Counterturn: Reappraising Mary Wroth’s Poetic Labyrinths,” in Re-Reading Mary Wroth, ed. Katherine R. Larson and Naomi J. Miller (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 85–102; and Kinney, “Mary Wroth Romances Ovid: Refiguring Metamorphosis and Complaint in The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania,” in A History of Early Modern Women’s Writing, ed. Patricia Phillippy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 241–56; Katherine Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris: Ovidian Paraphrase by Women Writers,” Translation and Literature 23 (2014): 303–20; and Susan Wiseman, “‘Perfectly Ovidian’? Dryden’s Epistles, Behn’s ‘Oenone,’ Yarico’s Island,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008): 417–33. 7. Two recent PhD theses are Katherine Jo Smith, Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry in Early Modern England (PhD diss., University of Warwick, 2016); and Sabine Blackmore, “In soft Complaints no longer Ease I find”: Poetic Configurations of Melancholy by Early Eighteenth-Century Women Poets (PhD diss., Humboldt University of Berlin, 2015). 8. Important work in this area includes the special issue of Renaissance Studies edited by Susan Wiseman, “The Rhetoric of Complaint: Ovid’s Heroides in the Renaissance and Restoration,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008). 9. Edmund Spenser, The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spenser, edited by William A. Oran et al. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989); Samuel Daniel, Delia. Contayning certayne Sonnets: vvith the complaint of Rosamond (London, 1592) sig. Bb iv; Thomas Lodge, The



Complete Works of Thomas Lodge, edited by Edmund Gosse (New York: Russell & Russell, 1963); Michael Drayton, Englands Heroicall Epistles (London: Nicholas Link, 1597); William Shakespeare, Shake-speares Sonnets Never before Imprinted (London: Thomas Thorpe, 1609). 10. Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 106–29: Gerard Genette, The Architext: An Introduction, trans. Jane E. Lewin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974; reprinted 1992), 67. 11. Barbara Lewalski, “Introduction: Issues and Approaches,” in Renaissance Genres: Essays on Theory, History, and Interpretation, ed. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 5. 12. Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poesie (London, 1595), sig. Cv, quoted in Lewalski, Renaissance Genres, 14. 13. John Frow, Genre (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 65. 14. George Puttenham, The Art of English Poesy: A Critical Edition, ed. Frank Whigham and Wayne A.  Rebborn (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), 115. 15. Puttenham, Art of English Poesy, 302. 16. Philip Sidney, A Defense of Poesy. In Sidney: A Defence of Poetry, edited by J. A. Van Dorsten (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 43–44. 17. See Frow, Genre, 63–7. 18. Lynn Enterline, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom: Rhetoric, Discipline, Emotion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), esp. Chapter 5, “What’s Hecuba to Him?”, 131, 139–40. See also Lorna Hutson, The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 19. See Gavin Alexander, “Prosopopoeia: The Speaking Figure,” in Renaissance Figures of Speech, ed. Sylvia Adamson, Gavin Alexander and Katrin Ettenhuber (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 97–112. 20. We borrow here Katherine Rowe’s phrase, as quoted in Lynn Enterline’s Afterword to this volume. See Enterline, 316, and Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe, and Mary Floyd-Wilson, eds, Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 10. 21. Clarke, “Formd into words,” 63; and Clarke, “Ovid’s Heroides, Drayton and the Articulation of the Feminine in the English Renaissance,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008), 385. 22. Katharine Craik, “Shakespeare’s A Lover’s Complaint and Early Modern Criminal Confession,” Shakespeare Quarterly 53, no. 4 (2002), 439. 23. At the time of printing, our forthcoming first and last line digital index of early modern women’s complaint poetry contains over 380 individual entries and identifies 32 women as complaint writers. See Jake Arthur and Rosalind Smith’s essay in this volume for a description of the index’s scope.



24. Calls to a feminist formalism include Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, Forms of Engagement: Women, Poetry, and Culture 1640–1680 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); and Lara Dodds and Michelle M.  Dowd, “The Case for a Feminist Return to Form,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 13, no. 1 (2018): 82–91. 25. Jennifer Richards, Voices and Books in the English Renaissance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). 26. See, for example, Femke Molekamp, Women and the Bible in Early Modern England: Religious Reading and Writing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Kenneth Charlton, Women, Religion, and Education in Early Modern England (London: Routledge, 1999). 27. For the catalogue of the Countess of Bridgewater’s library, see Heidi Brayman Hackel, Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); for Elizabeth Middleton, see Victoria Burke and Sarah C. E. Ross, “Elizabeth Middleton, John Bourchier and the Compilation of Seventeenth-Century Religious Manuscripts,” The Library  2, no. 2 (2001): 131–160; and for Fowler, see The Verse Miscellany of Constance Aston Fowler: A Diplomatic Edition, ed. Deborah Aldrich-Watson (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS and RETS, 2000), 36–40. The complaints in Fowler’s manuscript are discussed in Arthur and Smith’s essay in this volume. 28. See also Peter Auger, Du Bartas’ Legacy in England and Scotland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). 29. For the female voice in English books of ayres, see Scott A.  Trudell, “Performing Women in English Books of Ayres,” in Gender and Song in Early Modern England, ed. Leslie C.  Dunn and Katherine R.  Larson (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 15–29; and Trudell, Unwritten Poetry: Song, Performance, and Media in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). For manuscript songbooks compiled by Scottish women, see Sebastiaan Verweij, The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland: Manuscript Production and Transmission, 1560–1625 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 186–9. 30. Calvin, Commentary on Psalms, 1:xxxvii. 31. Elizabeth Clarke, Politics, Religion and the Song of Songs in Seventeenth-­ Century England (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). 32. See Schmitz, The Fall of Women, 169–198; Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 30–31; and Alison Thorne, “The Politics of Female Supplication in the Book of Esther,” in Biblical Women in Early Modern Literary Culture, 1550–1700, ed. Victoria Brownlee and Laura Gallagher (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015), 95–110. 33. Barbara MacKay’s paraphrase of the lamentations of Jeremiah is National Library of Scotland, Wod. Qu XXVII, fols. 24r–28r. For Job, see Victoria



Kahn, “Job’s Complaint in Paradise Regained,” English Literary History 76, no. 3 (September 2009): 625–660; and Susan Wiseman’s essay in this volume. 34. See, for example, Molekamp, Women and the Bible; and Victoria Brownlee, Biblical Readings and Literary Writings in Early Modern England 1558–1625 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). For another new exploration of religious complaint, see Sarah C. E. Ross, “Then will I hallelujahs ever sing’: Hester Pulter’s Devotional Complaints,” Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies (forthcoming, 2020). 35. Wendy Scase, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272–1553 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 1 and 3. 36. See Rosalind Smith, “‘Woman-like complaints’: Lost Love in The First Part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania,” Textual Practice 33 (2019): 1341–62. 37. Samuel Daniel, Delia. Contayning certayne Sonnets: with the complaint of Rosamond. London, 1592. Sig. Bb iv. 38. For a revision of Wall’s argument, see Kevin Dunn’s essay in Imagining Early Modern Histories, which argues that Daniel resolutely refuses cross dressing as part of his assumption of literary authority to comment on public affairs in order to assert his position as witness rather than plainant: “Rosamond the complaint becomes, in this scheme, an instance of his techné, not of his suffering; his skills are those of the poetic bureaucrat, not the poetic courtier.” Kevin Dunn, “‘Secretaire now, but to the dead’: Samuel Daniel and the Just Aesthetics of History,” in Imagining Early Modern Histories, ed. Allison Kavey and Elizabeth Ketner (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2016), 163. 39. See Kerrigan, 1–2 for an example of criticism emphasising the female speaker’s isolation. 40. Lady Mary Wroth, The First Part of the Countess of Mountgomery’s Urania, ed. Josephine A.  Roberts (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1995), 502. 41. Shell, “Often to my Self I make my mone,” 267, 270. 42. Philip Sidney, A Defense of Poesy, 44. 43. King’oo considers the difference between a psalm of lament and a psalm of penitence: “In form-critical terms, it depends on how much of the psalmist’s complaint is also a confession, a plea for forgiveness, or an expression of a desire to turn from wickedness to righteousness.” Miserere Mei: The Penitential Psalms in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012), 6.



44. See Marcy L. North, “Ambiguities of Female Authorship and the Accessible Archive,” in Routledge Companion to Women, Sex, and Gender in the Early British Colonial World, ed. Kimberly Anne Coles and Eve Keller (London and New York: Routledge, 2019), 73–87. 45. Johanna Drucker, Speclab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 198–199.


Sixteenth Century


Anne Lock and the Instructive Complaint Susan M. Felch

On 19 November 1556, John Knox wrote to Anne Lock, “I am assured that ye are not destitute of his Holy Spirit, for it floweth and giveth witness of itself in your grievous complaint and earnest prayer.”1 Knox was writing to Lock from Geneva, where, after a brief stay in Frankfurt, he had settled following the accession of Mary I and the re-establishment of the Roman church in England. Lock herself, who had hosted Knox when he preached at the court of Edward VI, was still in London, although she would soon travel to the Continent to begin her own exile. Given the context of this letter, one might suppose that the “grievous complaint and earnest prayer” had as its object the political and religious pressures Lock and her co-religionists were experiencing under their new queen. One would suppose wrongly. Although we are hampered by the loss of Lock’s letters to Knox and must extrapolate their content from the fourteen extant letters he wrote to her, Knox clearly identifies Lock’s complaint as stemming not from external persecution, but rather from an inner, excruciating sense of sin in the face of God’s holiness and judgement. Her troubles are “spiritual,” he acknowledges. She feels abandoned

S. M. Felch (*) Calvin University, Grand Rapids, MI, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_2




in her “own weak corruption,” because God has shown “his face angry against sin.” As readers, we may be excused for assuming that Lock’s complaint was political. The genre itself was capacious and malleable, and at least three types of theologically inflected complaint were circulating within Lock’s Reformed religious circle: the complaint of God against idolatrous people (the prophetic complaint); the complaint of the righteous to or against God in the face of persecution, overwhelming suffering, or the prosperity of the wicked (petitionary complaint); and the complaint of the sinner regarding her own, or her community’s, wickedness (penitential complaint).2 In common with other forms of complaint, sacred and secular, theological complaint was based on the intellectual and affective apprehension that “all is not right with the world.” Dissatisfaction, unease, anxiety, the recognition of injustice—a whole cauldron of experience and emotion motivated the genre. For sixteenth-century Reformed writers, however, all three types of complaint were not merely descriptive or cathartic but rather instructive, often sharply so. Lock, as we shall see, drew particularly on prophetic and penitential complaint in her prose and poetry to instruct her readers and to further the cause of Reformed religion in England. The complaint of God against his people, the prophetic complaint, drew on earlier forms of political complaint. The first generation of English reformers, including William Tyndale, Jane and Simon Fish, Anne Askew, and Henry Brinkelow, were influenced by the theology of Martin Luther and the German Reformation as well as by native English traditions of vernacular theology and reform. Tyndale, Fish, and Brinkelow (the first husband of Lock’s stepmother) had updated the medieval “complaint against the times” to protest current social injustice and papal incursion into English society and Henry VIII’s court.3 They also repositioned their political complaint within the biblical genre of prophetic denunciation: the complaint of God against his people. Similarly, although much of Askew’s writing is a defence of her view on the Eucharist, her confession from Newgate concludes with a tissue of prophetic citations from Jeremiah, Amos, Isaiah, and Hosea that excoriate her listeners for “stony harts,” reliance on “the works of our hands,” and idolatry, all commonplaces of the prophetic complaint.4 A representative passage from Brinkelow, railing against fallacious lawsuits in the English courts, borrows explicitly from prophetic denunciation: “Oh wicked lawes, howe crie all the prophetes against them and the makers of them? wherfore be ye learned, ye men of



the parliament that ye maye see to reforme these wicked lawes, lest ye bee partakers in rewarde with the makers of them, lest at length (as the Prophete warneth) the Lorde be wrath with you and plague you, that ye perish from the right way, etc.”5 The “etc.” suggests that readers are intended to hear this political complaint as integral to the recognized tradition of prophetic denunciation: Brinkelow effectively elides his particular animus against English laws with the biblical prophets’ condemnation of a wayward people. Although these first-generation reformers were instrumental in Lock’s early development, even before her exile to Geneva she was moving towards the Reformed theology of John Calvin that was beginning to permeate the court of Edward VI and percolate through the press of her future printer, John Day.6 Calvin, too, positioned political complaint directly within the biblical genre of prophetic denunciation. In the dedication of his commentary on Isaiah to Edward VI, Calvin warns the young king that Isaiah proclaims “God’s just complaints against an ungrateful people.”7 After a summary of church history and an apologia for the necessary, if often unappreciated, work of reformers, Calvin charges Edward to be a grateful king who leads a grateful people to a full-fledged reformation of England. The authoritative conflation of the voices of God, the prophet Isaiah, and Calvin himself in issuing both complaint and directive for action could not be more clear: “I expressly call upon you, most excellent King,” Calvin writes, “or rather, God himself addresses you by the mouth of his servant Isaiah, charging you to proceed, to the utmost of your ability and power, in carrying forward the restoration of the Church, which has been so successfully begun in your kingdom.”8 By relocating the voice of the complainant from a disgruntled citizen, as was common in the medieval “complaint against the times,” to the voice of God mediated through a prophet, the Reformed political complaint assumes the valence of an authoritative instructive discourse that can be ignored only at great peril. Calvin concludes his exhortation to Edward by reminding him that “[i]t is of high importance, most noble King, that you should be stimulated to activity by the consideration of the duty enjoined on you; for Isaiah exhorts all kings and magistrates, in the person of Cyrus, to stretch forth their hand to the Church, when in distress, to restore her to her former condition.”9 Lock’s use of the prophetic complaint is more subtle. Both of her published books, presented as gifts to high-ranking women in Queen Elizabeth’s court, are instructive works intended, like Calvin’s, to further



England’s hesitant progress towards reformation.10 But rather than foregrounding the prophetic complaint itself in her dedicatory prefaces, Lock focuses on describing, often in exquisite detail, the condition of those who hear the prophetic complaint and the response that the complaint is meant to elicit. The tone is no less urgent, but such a shift highlights the moral responsibility of the listener rather than the voice of the complainant. Lock also delineates receptive and non-receptive addressees, setting up a complex auditory field in which the complaint reverberates. In the 1560 Sermons, the non-receptive addressee is a person whose mind is “dyseased” (5) and who does not possess “the conserve [medicine] of belefe of Gods providence” (6). The prophetic complaint is directed, however, not simply against the one who is diseased, but also against the “murtherous” and “traiterous Physicion” who, by offering false medicine, injures not only himself, but others as well (6). It is against these actively resistant auditors that Lock’s prophetic rhetoric breaks out: “Wo is (I say) to them” (6). In contrast, the receptive addressee is the “belevyng Christian” who may, and who indeed will, fall and fail but who knows “whither to reache his hande to be raised up againe”—towards the brass serpent (an image from the Old Testament) and towards the Good Samaritan (an image from the New Testament) (6–7). It is telling that in Lock’s refraction of the prophetic complaint through the lens of a medicinal trope, the gestures of refusing or receiving medicine (whether good or bad) and the concomitant bodily effects of illness and health outweigh verbal response. The affective component of complaint—the way it is experienced by those to whom it is directed—is measured in bodily terms. Lock describes one who is “unable to stande, no soundnes in his bodye, no strength in his limmes” (6) and paints a memorable picture of her protagonist, Hezekiah: “somtime chillinge and chattering with colde, somtime languishing and meltyng away with heate, nowe fresing, now fryeng, nowe specheless, nowe crying out” (7). Despite the shift in focus to the addressee, Lock is no less clear than Askew, Brinkelow, and Calvin that prophetic complaint is authoritative discourse—the one who refuses to listen will die. And although the recipient of the 1560 dedicatory preface, Katherine Brandon Bertie, the dowager Duchess of Suffolk, is not among the non-receptive—she does not have a “dyseased mynde”—she, and through her the court, queen, and country, is nevertheless rhetorically targeted:



This receipte God the heavenly Physitian hath taught, his most excellent Apothecarie master John Calvine hath compounded, and I your graces most bounden and humble have put into an Englishe box, and do present unto you. My thankes are taken away and drowned by the greate excesse of duetie that I owe you: Master Calvine thinketh his paynes recompensed if your grace or any Christian take profit of it: bicause how much soever is spent, his store is neverthelesse. And for God, recompensed he cannot be. (5)

The chiastic structure of this directive moves from God the author through Calvin the apothecary and Lock the translator to the duchess and then back again through Lock and Calvin to God who stands above and outside any transactional economy. Although Lock gracefully diffuses the need, or even the possibility, of receiving material or verbal recognition from the duchess (my duty outweighs your need to thank me; Calvin is adequately compensated if you read his sermons; God can never be repaid), her patron is nevertheless pinned into a receptive mode, the centre point of the chiasm. Even for the receptive reader, prophetic complaint comes with the force of command. In the preface to her second book, Of the Markes of the Children of God (1590), written towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign and with a deeper sense of disappointment at the lack of progress in reformation, Lock returns to the suffering listener she had so vividly described in the Sermons’ preface, but sharpens her focus on the “the necessitie and benefite of affliction,” to use the title of the poem that concludes the book. She again distinguishes among readers, dividing them into three groups: those who have never experienced affliction and so might be startled when they are confronted by it; those who have grown lazy and lethargic in their Christian profession; and those who are already afflicted and need to understand the purpose for their suffering. Rather than engaging in petitionary complaint (the complaint against God in the face of overwhelming suffering), Lock exposits affliction as the necessary mark of God’s children, warranted both in scripture and through personal and communal experience. In fact, Lock nowhere deploys straight-forward petitionary complaints, although such complaints against God in the face of persecution, overwhelming suffering, or the prosperity of the wicked, were a viable genre in Reformed circles. Calvin, for instance, commenting on Psalm 69:4, “They who hate me without cause are more in number than the hairs of my head,” notes that those with a good conscience are “able freely to protest before God, that the hatred which our enemies cherish against us is altogether causeless.”11



In this dedicatory preface to Anne Russell Dudley, the Countess of Warwick, however, Lock returns to the prophetic complaint she had developed in the preface to her 1560 Sermons. First she establishes the fact of suffering: “by the word of GOD wee know, and by experience sometimes of our selves (her Majesties royall person not excepted) and now of our neighbours round about us we see, that the Church of God in this world, as it ever hath bin, so must it ever be under the cross” (76). To suffer, to be “under the cross,” is synonymous with being a Christian. Those who fail to recognize this central religious fact—whether through naiveté or indifference—are the targets of prophetic complaint. Lock utilizes the rhetorical question—a staple of prophetic complaint12—to sharpen the indictment by highlighting a stark choice: For what are all the pleasant things of this world, which most bewitch the minds of men, if they be compared with heavenlie and eternall things? If statelie and sumptuous buildings do delight; what building is so statelie and glorious as newe Jerusalem? If riches; what so rich as that, whose pavement is of pure gold, whose foundations and walls of precious stones, and gates of orient pearles? If friends, kinsfolke, and neighbors; what Citie so replenished as this, where God himselfe in his Majestie, Jesus Christ the head of the Church in his glorie, and all the holie Angels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyis do dwel together in happinesse for ever? If honor; what honor comparable to this, to be the servant and child of so mightie a King, and heire of so glorious a kingdome; where neither time doth consume, nor envie deprive of honour, nor power of adversarie spoyle of glorie, that is endles and incomprehensible? (77)

The “if … what” rhetorical structure highlights the implied choice: to forego suffering for “the pleasant things of this world” is also to forego eternal blessing, as the epigram from Romans 8:16 on the title page states: “The spirit beareth witnes to our spirit that we are the sonnes of God. If we be sonnes, then are we also heires, the heires of God and joynt heires with Christ, so that we suffer together that we also may be glorified together.” Suffering and glory are ineluctably linked in Reformed complaint. Nearly twenty years later, Lady Margaret Cunningham borrowed the rhetorical question in her prophetic complaint against her husband, James Hamilton of Evandale. A Scottish gentlewoman whose family had a long association with the Knox family, Lady Margaret made a formal court complaint against her abusive and absent husband in January 1607, when



she brought a lawsuit against him for financial maintenance. In May of that same year, she wrote a letter of appeal and rebuke that was modelled after, and at times directly quoted, Lock’s published works.13 Cunningham’s insistence that Hamilton reform his habits and actions is punctuated with prophetic complaint against Scotland, the personal and the political intertwined. Her appeal to him “not to dwell among these idolaters, for it is hard to handle pitch and not be defiled therewith,” and her directive that he attend the church pastored by exiled Scottish ministers in La Rochelle, France, is interlarded with national complaint: Truly we have all cause to weep and mourn night and day for the abominations of this land. The Lord’s name is greatly dishonored among us by all estates; the candlestick of God’s word is like to be removed; Christ is persecuted in his member[s] grievously. The mouth of his faithful messengers are stopped, their message contemned, and themselves imprisoned and banished. The joy of our heart (sayeth Jeremiah) is gone, our glory is fallen away, our mirth is turned to mourning, the garland of our head is fallen.14

The letter concludes, however, with a three-stanza sonnet sequence addressed specifically to her husband, the middle stanza of which is composed entirely of rhetorical questions similar to those employed by Lock to the Countess of Warwick: What greater wealth than a contented mind? What poverty so great as want of grace? What greater joy than find Jehovah kind? What greater grief than see his angry face? What greater wit than run Christ Jesus’ race? What greater folly than defection tell? What greater gain than godliness embrace? What greater loss than change the heaven for hell? What greater freedom than in Christ to dwell? What greater bondage than a slave to sin? What greater valor than subdue thyself? What greater scathe than to the devil to run And leave the Lord who has us dearly bought? Judge ye, his saints, if this be true or nought.



The conclusion “Judge ye” highlights, as does Lock’s use of the prophetic complaint, the desired outcome of such complaint, namely the correction, instruction, and construction of a morally responsible listener or reader. Lock, however, moves the chastened recipient from a posture of receptivity to a position of agency. Having been awakened to God’s just censure as well as his promise of forgiveness, the responsive addressee is enabled, by virtue of a renewed relationship with God, to become an active, penitential complainant. Lock utilizes this theological logic in the structure of her 1560 book. She begins with prophetic complaints in the dedicatory preface, which are continued in the translation of Calvin’s Isaiah sermons, but then concludes with a penitential complaint, “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner.” In Hebrew and Christian piety, the centrepiece of penitential complaint is the set of so-called penitential psalms.15 For her “Meditation,” Lock chooses the most famous of these psalms, Psalm 51, paraphrasing it in a sequence of sonnets, introduced by five additional first-person narrative sonnets that portray an abject and self-aware complainant.16 The extreme humility of the narrator’s posture, however, may raise questions about the appropriateness of penitential complaint. Contemporary theologians, in fact, have paid considerable attention to the differences between, and relative merits of, complaints against God and complaints about one’s own sin, which are distinguished in this chapter as petitionary complaint and penitential complaint. Claus Westermann’s work on the psalms in the 1960s brought the genre of lament, into which complaint was subsumed, into prominence. Westermann outlined the five-­ fold structure of the psalm lament as address, lament, turning to God, petition, and vow of praise, a form that neatly encapsulates Psalm 51 and the sonnets based on it.17 In 1986, however, Walter Brueggemann’s provocative essay, “The Costly Loss of Lament,” decried what he perceived as a chronological move from lament to penitence, both in the Hebrew scriptures and in contemporary liturgy, on the grounds that penitence denied voice to indignant, suffering complainants and moved too quickly to a re-inscription of God’s just actions in the world. For Brueggemann, in lament the petitionary party is taken seriously and the God who is addressed is newly engaged in the crisis in a way that puts God at risk. As the lesser petitionary party (the psalm speaker) is legitimated so the unmitigated suprem-



acy of the greater party (God) is questioned, and God is made available to the petitioner. … The lament form thus concerns a redistribution of power.18

For Brueggemann then, the movement from lament (petitionary complaint) to penitential prayer (penitential complaint) results in “the loss of genuine covenant interaction” and a religion of “grim obedience and eventually despair.”19 In contrast, Mark Boda and others have questioned the sharp dichotomy between lament and penitential prayer, arguing that admission of guilt “does not represent a ‘silencing’ of pain” but rather offers “an honest encounter with the God of grace and justice,” moves towards the strengthening of covenantal relationship, and is itself the fruit of “mature self-knowledge.” Furthermore, Boda notes that “penitential prayer is prompted not by a consideration of the wrath and discipline of God … but rather by a reconsideration of the grace and salvation of God.”20 Lock’s “Meditation” is congruent with Boda’s analysis of its Old Testament antecedents and gives lie to Brueggemann’s conclusion that penitence results in “the loss of genuine covenant interaction” and a religion of “grim obedience and eventually despair.” Lock’s narrator has not lost her ability to interact with God: the sonnets themselves, and the psalm on which they are based, testify to an intense encounter between the penitent complainant and the personal deity who can be addressed in most explicit terms. In fact, it is precisely this secure grounding of covenantal interaction based on promises given and received, the hope of covenantal renewal, and the banishing of despair that characterize the instructive penitential complaint, which is formed elliptically around the twin poles of what Calvin calls “the impediments of the flesh” (carnis impedimenta) and “the invitations of God” (Dei invitationem).21 In the introduction to his commentary on the Psalms, Calvin notes with approval the range of emotions to which the biblical psalms give expression: “griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities”—all of which constitute the basis for complaint. Prayer in general then, and penitential complaint in particular, “proceeds first from a sense of our need,” those impediments of the flesh to which Calvin refers, “and next, from faith in the promises of God,” the invitations from God that enable and welcome the outpouring of “griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities.”22 To return to the opening example, Lock’s correspondence with Knox limns this elliptical orbit of penitential complaint, which is developed more fully in the 1560 sonnet sequence, as we will see below. In the November



1556 letter, Knox refers to Lock’s spiritual troubles, which he specifies as being her consciousness of her “own weak corruption” and God’s “face angry against sin”—the pole of impediment. Lock appears to have written more than once to Knox about her own anxieties over what was called “remaining sin,” those undesirable inclinations, habits, and thoughts that the serious Christian understood to be inimical to a godly life and therefore worthy of God’s judgement.23 Penitential complaint, however, as Knox explains in his letters and as Lock later explores in the sonnets, is not mere self-recrimination, the recitation of sin, guilt, shame, and self-blame that circles around the single pole of impediment. Such a monologic recitation may indeed lead to “grim obedience” and despair because it consciously or unconsciously, actively or passively ignores the promises of God—the pole of invitation. Knox reminds Lock that she is only able to lament her sin because she is already held within the orbit of God’s grace: “For how is it able that we should call upon him for help whom we think armed to our destruction, except that the secret power of his Holy Spirit moved us thereto. In such cases hypocrisy hath no place but the sore bruised heart poureth forth the anguish in the bosom of him whom we confess only able to remedy us.”24 Only the person with a bruised, rather than a stony, heart, and one moved by the power of God himself is even able to call upon God for help. God’s grace envelopes the penitential complaint so that, as Calvin says, “when the faithful represent God as the author of their calamities, it is not in the way of murmuring against him, but that they may with greater confidence see relief, as it were, from the same hand which smote and wounded them.”25 In the dedicatory preface to Sermons, Lock converts this theological trope into a vivid image, that of the brass serpent from a story in Numbers 21. There the Hebrew people who complain illegitimately against God die in a plague of snakebites. Their salvation ensues only when they reach out their hands to a brass serpent, constructed by Moses. Both death and life are mediated through a serpent—the very image of evil overtaken by grace. Lock elides the biblical image of serpents with a medicinal one, referencing contemporary knowledge that a scorpion’s sting could be cured only by oil of scorpion, and notes that the believing Christian knows how “with oyle of the same scorpion to be healed agayne.” She concludes that “being wounded with the justice of God that hateth sinne, he knoweth howe with the mercy of the same God that pardoneth sinne to have hys peine asswaged and hurt amended” (7). The orbit of penitential complaint



is secured by the Reformed insistence on the doctrine of God’s providence and election, for Lock adds that the Christian “knoweth that whome God hath from eternitie appointed to live, shal never die.” Indeed, “his safetie is much more surely reposed in Gods moste stedfast and unchangeable purpose, and in the most strong and almightye hande of the alknowynge and alworking God, than in the wavering will and feble weaknes of man. This healeth the Christians sicknes” (7). Although it might seem that the dual Reformed beliefs in God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are paradoxical and that human initiative and emotive response are illogical in the face of a deterministic God, the formulations of paradox and determinism are not ones to which Lock and her co-religionists would have subscribed. Instead, they understood that the covenantal relationship based on promise—not fatalism—tethers, rather than erases, human responsibility, genuine human emotions, and affective response. It is the very performance of penitential complaint that inducts the complainant, intellectually and experientially, into the depths of both sin and grace. Most importantly, the performance of penitential complaint actually, and not merely rhetorically, restores the covenant relationship as it reinscribes the orbit of impediment and invitation. Complaint, in other words, is formative as well as instructive. Although exemplary complaints may be observed or read for edification, penitential complaints are ultimately meant to be performed. Complaint is not something one merely watches or reads; it is something one enters into and does. The complainant who does not engage the covenantal path of impediment and invitation, however, does not actually perform penitential complaint. In the five prefatory sonnets of “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner,” Lock traces the affective consequences of a monologic recitation of sin. These sonnets sketch the downward spiral of a narrator consumed with “The hainous gylt of my forsaken ghost.” The narrator’s recitation of horrors is interrupted only by the spectre of personified Despair, who is allowed to speak freely and falsely for ten uninterrupted lines. Tellingly, God is described in the prefatory sonnets, but rarely addressed, and then only obliquely. The complaint of these sonnets is self-referential; the speaker merely glances at the “offended Lord,” whom she fears both to face and to speak with. Only by tearing herself away from Despair is she able in the final lines to assume the posture of a penitent rather than a self-­ flagellant and to convert the claustrophobic closet of a “forsaken ghost” into a courtroom that is open to the heavens. Calvin, commenting on Isaiah 38:2, notes that Hezekiah “would never have aimed at repentance



if he had been seized with despair.”26 Although despair is always a temptation, and one to which Lock was finely attuned, it is inimical to penitential complaint. Strikingly, the opening line of the Psalm sonnets makes a dramatic turn from the introspective first-person description of a wracked soul to genuine penitential complaint, from the cycle of mere recrimination to the elliptical path of both impediment and invitation. The “blinde wretch” bewailing her “woefull and unhappy case,” silenced under Despair’s indictment, reduced to confused cries, “piteous plaint … smoking sighes, and oft repeted grone” modulates to a penitent but articulate claimant for God’s mercy: “Have mercy … yet suffer me to crave … Let me not crye in vaine … Rue on me, Lord … Releve my soule,” with demands that continue through the nineteen Psalm sonnets. The sonnets’ movement from recrimination to penitence mirrors Calvin’s comment on the difference between secular and sacred complaints: “It is common for all men to complain when under the pressure of grief; but they are far from pouring out their groanings before God. Instead of this, the majority of mankind court retirement, that they may murmur against him, and accuse him of undue severity; while others pour forth their cries into the air at random. Hence we gather that it is a rare virtue to set God before our eyes, and that we may address our prayers to him.”27 Mere accusations against God or “random” outpourings of grief are not in and of themselves evidence of penitential complaint. Without the ellipse of impediment and invitation, without the prior and persistent grounding of an already established covenantal bond, there is no genuine theological complaint. To borrow philosopher Eleonore Stump’s notion of “second-person” accounts in the context of theodicy in the biblical book of Job, what one comes to know in a face-to-face encounter is different from what one comes to know in either first-person introspection or a third-person abstract discourse.28 The performance of complaint requires two people who are already in relationship with one another: without a sense of the fragility or brokenness of that relationship, there is no basis for complaint. As a number of scholars have noted, the strongly affective language of the sonnets is consistent with the plaintive persona of earlier sonnets and with amorous, Ovidian complaint.29 But the aggressively affective demands of the psalm persona are also consistent with penitential complaint which understands the necessity and even the virtue of wrestling with God. Such complaint does not sound the tones of compliant, polite conversation. The petitionary complainant wrestles with God over injustice—the



experience of persecution, incommensurable suffering, or the unequal distribution of prosperity. The penitential complainant wrestles with God over warranted suffering and the just distribution of punishment. Both complainants suffer and suffer loudly; neither is mute. Penitential complaint thus does serve as a conduit for orthodox confession, that the God who is merciful is also just in condemning sin, but also for affective desire, that the sinful soul longs not simply to know, but also to be reassured of, God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. Penitential complaint takes seriously the experience and necessity of wrestling with God. In his letters, Knox invokes the image of Jacob wresting with the angel, reminding Lock that a difficult encounter with God in penitential complaint “is the greatest glory that we can give unto him. Yea, it is to overcome him and to be victor over him by his own strength, which albeit we feel not in the present combat, no more than Jacob did in wrestling with the angel, yet shall we find the comfort of it when the storm is a little assuaged.”30 Calvin says more starkly, “we ought to regard it as a settled point, that a state of continual warfare in bearing the cross is enjoined upon us by divine appointment.”31 Edward Dering, Lock’s second husband, and Lady Margaret Cunningham both cite a difficult text, Matthew 11:12, “And from the time of John Baptist hitherto, the kingdome of heaven suffreth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Geneva), to instruct their readers to engage God without reservation. When Dering tells Queen Elizabeth in a sermon preached at court that “The true Israelites [sic] is strong against the Lord, and commeth with violence to clayme the kingdome of heaven,” he is urging her to spiritual intensity and discipline in light of what he perceives as her drift towards compromise.32 When Lady Margaret tells her husband “my heart, heaven must be won by violence,” she is arguing that he must actively, even violently, resist temptations. The Psalm sonnets gather up these violent motifs and press the speaker into an intimate and sometimes painful encounter with God. In Psalm Sonnet 5, for instance, the penitent is eviscerated as she lies pinned to the ground under God’s “allpearcing eye”: “cruell conscience with sharpned knife/Doth splat my ripped hert” (65). In Psalm Sonnet 8, the metaphor turns to the prospect of drowning in a sea of tears. In Psalm Sonnet 10, the image moves to the sense of hearing: nearly deafened by the “dredfull threates and thonders of the law” (67), compounded in the echo-chamber of her own mind, the speaker asks not merely that her ears be open to grace, but that they be forcibly opened—pierced. Psalm Sonnet 12 paints



the picture of a peasant woman nearly crushed under a staggering load. Psalm Sonnet 15 revisits the “gaping throte of depe devouring hell” (69) of the prefatory sonnets, and Psalm Sonnet 17 invokes the medicinal trope from the dedicatory preface to the Duchess of Suffolk, the “straining crampe” (70) that immobilizes both limbs and tongue. These violent images take seriously the affective arena in which penitential complaint is performed. In the sermons from Isaiah that Lock translates, Calvin is adamant that God truly is Hezekiah’s adversary: “God did persecute him,” he insists in Sermon One (21); “god is against us,” he reiterates in Sermon Two, adding that “from hence then procede al these complaints that we see in the Psalmes” (31). While it is true that within the elliptical orbit of penitential complaint, impediment is paired with invitation, the knowledge of God’s grace does not erase the experience of pain, struggle, and even anger. In Sermon Two, when Calvin considers how to exposit Hezekiah’s claim that God “hath brused my bones as a lion” (23), he rejects the possibility that the king may be blasphemously comparing a merciful God to a savage lion and instead acknowledges the appropriateness of speaking honestly. Hezekiah, he says, “but onely … hath declared his passions” (30). Such passions, however, are not merely experienced on a personal or individual basis. The penitential complaint, like the prophetic and petitionary complaints, is primarily a liturgical genre, intended to be rehearsed regularly in the company of others. In Letter 8, Knox assures Lock that she is not isolated but part of a community of complainants: “ye fight not the battle alone.” Penitential complaint, with its attendant struggles, should be understood as a natural and even welcome spiritual posture, shared by all true believers: “but when ye shall consider that the same pride remaineth in all flesh that deceived Peter, to wit, a trust in himself,” Knox continues, “ye shall understand that only experience of our own infirmity can dantoun the beast. Fight and fruit shall succeed.” The liturgical importance of penitential complaint is heightened by the Trinitarian formulations that are invoked.33 Knox in Letter Nine reminds Lock that The examples of God’s children always complaining of their own wretchedness serve for the penitent that they slide not in desperation. Better is the sense and feeling of sin so stinking in our own nostrils that to Christ Jesus we may run and have our feet washed, than the opinion of virtue that puffeth up our pride and maketh man careless to complain before his God. Fight to the end and ye shall triumph by him that is made to us of God’s



wisdom, justice, sanctification, and redemption, whose Holy Spirit comfort you ever.

The invocation of the Trinity here is meant both to encourage the penitent by reminding her that she is the Father’s child, that her feet are washed by the incarnate Son, and that her comforter-advocate is the Holy Spirit and to incorporate her into the community of faithful who, while “always complaining of their own wretchedness,” also together confess their confidence in the merciful welcome of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Lock turns both to the community and to Trinitarian doctrine in the second half of the Psalm sonnets. Sonnets 13 and 14 invoke the comforter, the Holy Spirit. Sonnet 18 specifies the sacrifice of the Son, forecasted in the cleansing hyssop of Psalm Sonnet 9. Psalm Sonnets 16 and 17 each end with the promise that should God open her lips, the speaker will “spred thy prayse for all the world to know” (69) and “display” his mercies and holy name (70). Psalm Sonnets 20 and 21 deliberately stretch the instructed, responsive complainant to include the whole of Zion and Jerusalem, a mighty host who will cry “We praise thee, God our God: thou onely art/The God of might, of mercie, and of grace” (71). This cry is not merely a conventional turning of lament to praise; rather it inscribes the restoration of the covenant relationship that has tethered the penitential complaint to the orbit of impediment and invitation. Through this complaint, the speaker and her community have come not only to know that God should be praised, but in the loosing of tongue and strengthening of limbs have also been enabled to perform that praise. The complaint instructs body, mind, and voice. Although Lock’s writings have frequently been read in the context of anxiety, remorse, and even spiritual abjection,34 all of which contribute to our understanding of her work, little attention has been paid to locating her within the Reformed genres of instructive complaint, acknowledging the agency embedded in penitential complaint, or analysing how other early modern writers are similarly informed by these theological moves. It is time to remedy the silence.

Notes 1. Quotations from the letters of John Knox to Anne Lock are taken from Anne Lock, Anne Vaughan Lock: Selected Poetry, Prose, and Translations with Contextual Materials, ed. Susan M.  Felch. The Other Voice series (Toronto, ON: Iter Press and Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval



and Renaissance Studies, forthcoming). The letters are edited from John Knox, The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: Thomas George Stevenson, 1846–1864). 2. This particular taxonomy is the author’s own. 3. See, for instance, William Tyndale, The obedience of a Christen man and how Christen rulers ought to governe ([Antwerp], 1528; STC 24446); Simon Fish, A supplicacyon for the beggers ([Antwerp?, 1529?]; STC 10883); and Henry Brinkelow, The complaynt of Roderyck Mors (Sauoy [i.e. Strasbourg]: Fransicum de Turona [i.e. Wolfgang Köpfel, 1542?]; STC 3763). Although some scholars argue that the medieval genre excluded political satire and calls for specific reforms, the “complaint against the times” did stretch to embrace both lament and directives for reformation prior to the sixteenth century. For the case against complaint as reformation see Joseph R. Keller, “The Triumph of Vice: A Formal Approach to the Medieval Complaint Against the Times,” Annuale Mediaevale 10 (1969): 120–137; for the counter argument see Thomas J. Elliott, “Middle English Complaints Against the Times: To Contemn the World or to Reform It?” Annuale Mediaevale 14 (1973): 22–34. 4. Anne Askew, The Examinations of Anne Askew, ed. Elaine V.  Beilin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 183. 5. Brinkelow, Complaynt, E1v. 6. In 1548–1549, Day published works by Calvin on the Lord’s Supper, the Christian life, and the Anabaptists: A faythful and moost Godlye treatyse concernynge the most sacret sacrament of the blessed body and bloude of oure sauioure Christe (London, 1548?; STC 4412); Of the life or conuersation of a Christen man (London, 1549; STC 4436); and A short instruction for to arme all good Christian people agaynst the pestiferous errours of the common secte of Anabaptistes (London, 1549; STC 4463). 7. John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, trans. William Pringle, 4 vols. (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1850), 1:xxi. Although not available in English until 1609, copies of the Latin edition circulated after its presentation to Edward VI as a New Year’s Gift in 1551, and Lock likely would have had access to the commentary. 8. Ibid., 1:xxiv. 9. Ibid., 1:xxiv–xxv. 10. Anne Lock, Sermons of John Calvin, upon the songe that Ezechias made after he had bene sicke, and afflicted by the hand of God, conteyned in the 38. Chapiter of Esay (London: John Day, 1560; STC 4450); Anne Lock, Of the markes of the children of God, and of their comforts in afflictions (London: Thomas Man, 1590; STC 23652). Citations of Lock are taken from The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock, ed. Susan M. Felch (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1999). For Lock’s instructive agendas see Rosalind Smith, “‘In a mirror clere’: Anne Lock’s



Miserere mei Deus as Admonitory Protestantism,” in Sonnets and the English Woman Writer, 1560–1621: The Politics of Absence (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 13–38; Micheline White, “The Perils and Possibilities of the Book Dedication: Anne Lock, John Knox, John Calvin, Queen Elizabeth, and the Duchess of Suffolk,” Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies 29, no. 2 (2012): 9–27. 11. John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, ed. Rev. James Anderson, 5 vols. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845–46), 3.49. The Latin commentary was published in Geneva in 1557 and would have been available to Lock, who both read and wrote Latin. 12. For a virtuoso display of the rhetorical question in biblical prophetic complaint, see God’s response to Job in Job 38:1–40:2. 13. For further biographical details, see ODNB, Lady Margaret Cunningham and Cunningham family and The Perdita Project, https://web.warwick. ac.uk/english/perdita/html/. Quotations are from “The true copy of a letter that Lady Margaret Cunningham wrote to her husband the master of Evandale,” National Library of Scotland, MS 906, folios 8b–13a, in Felch, Anne Vaughan Lock: Selected Poetry, Prose, and Translations. 14. A citation of Lamentations 5:15–16. 15. For a thorough accounting of the penitential psalms, see Clare Costley King’oo, Miserere Mei: The Penitential Psalms in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). 16. Despite uncertainty regarding authorship of the sonnets, they are presented as integral to Lock’s book and, with the prefatory letter and translations, serve to demonstrate her appreciation for and use of the complaint genre. In this chapter she is considered their putative author. 17. Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, trans. Keith R. Crim and Richard N.  Soulen (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1981), 170; a translation of the 1961 Das Loben Gottes in den Psalmen as expanded in Lob und Klage in den Psalmen (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977). 18. Walter Brueggemann, “The Costly Loss of Lament,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 36 (1986), 59. 19. Ibid., 60, 64, emphasis his. It is important to note that loss of agency and a consequent “stifling of the question of theodicy” make for unjust relations that are unthinkable for Brueggemann in a post-Holocaust world. 20. Mark J. Boda, “The Priceless Gain of Penitence: From Communal Lament to Penitential Prayer in the ‘Exilic’ Liturgy of Israel,” in Lamentations in Ancient and Contemporary Cultural Contexts, ed. Nancy C.  Lee and Carleen Mandolfo (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008), 99, 98, 100. 21. Calvin, Commentary on Psalms, 1:xxxvii. 22. Ibid., 1:xxxvii.



23. See also Letter 8 in Felch, Anne Vaughan Lock: Selected Poetry, Prose, and Translations: “Now to the complaint and prayer of your letter written, say ye, at midnight.” 24. Letter 2  in Felch, Anne Vaughan Lock: Selected Poetry, Prose, and Translations. 25. Calvin, Commentary on Psalms, 2:159. 26. Calvin, Commentary on Isaiah, 3:155. Calvin does recognize the species of complaint that is not prayer and that issues from despair. See, for instance, his comments on verse 10, Commentary on Isaiah, 3:164. 27. Exposition on Psalm 88:1; Calvin, Commentary on Psalms, 3:408. 28. Eleonore Stump, “Second Person Accounts and the Problem of Evil,” in Faith and Narrative, ed. Keith E.  Yandell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 86–103. 29. See, for instance, Smith, “In a mirror clere”; Mary E. Trull, “Petrarchism and the Gift: The Sacrifice of Praise in Anne Lock’s ‘A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner’,” Religion and Literature 41, no. 3 (2009): 1–25. 30. Letter 2  in Felch, Anne Vaughan Lock: Selected Poetry, Prose, and Translations. 31. Exposition on Psalm 44:22; Calvin, Commentary on Psalms, 2:170. 32. Edward Dering, A Sermon preached before the Quenes Maiestie (London: John Awdely, 1570; STC 6700), C2v. 33. Micheline White points out that not only was Psalm 51 used liturgically in medieval worship, but that Isaiah 38, the text for Calvin’s sermons translated by Lock, was also incorporated into the traditional Dirige. She argues that by juxtaposing these texts, Lock rescues them from Marian Roman Catholicism and restores them to Reformed piety; “Dismantling Catholic Primers and Reforming Private Prayer: Anne Lock, Hezekiah’s Song, and Psalm 50/51,” in Private and Domestic Devotion in Early Modern Britain, ed. Jessica Martin and Alec Ryrie (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2012), 93–113. 34. In addition to critical works already noted, see, for instance, Ben Burton, “‘The Praise Of That I Yeld For Sacrifice’: Anne Lock and the Poetics of the Eucharist,” Renaissance & Reformation/Renaissance et Reforme 30, no. 3 (2007): 89–118; Katherine R. Cooper, “‘My Cruel Conscience with Sharpned Knife’: Conscience as Vessel and Vivisector in Jacob’s Well and a Meditation of a Penitent Sinner,” Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 24, nos. 1–2 (2012): 12–27; Robert C.  Evans, “‘Despaire behind, and death before’: Comparing and Contrasting the ‘Meditative’ Sonnets of Anne Vaughan Lock and John Donne,” Ben Jonson Journal: Literary Contexts in the Age of Elizabeth, James, and Charles 16 (2009): 99–116; Teresa Lanpher Nugent, “Anne Lock’s Poetics of Spiritual Abjection,” English Literary Renaissance 39, no. 1 (2009): 3–23; Mary Trull, “Private Lament in Calvin, Knox, and Anne Lock,” in Performing Privacy and Gender in Early Modern Literature (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 20–51.


Katherine Parr and Royal Religious Complaint: Complaining For and About Henry VIII Micheline White

Early modern people were good at complaining, in both secular and religious registers. The religious complaint was a broad but well-established mid-sixteenth-century Tudor category, and during the late Henrician and Edwardian periods a significant number of beleaguered subjects produced “complaints,” “lamentations,” “exhortations,” and “supplications” addressing issues like the break with Rome, poverty, the dissolution of the monasteries, “corrupt” theological tenets and liturgical practices, political and moral corruption, personal sinfulness, and the suffering experienced by courtiers imprisoned by the monarch.1 In this chapter, I consider Katherine Parr’s Psalms or Prayers (1544) and her Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner (1547) as female-authored royal religio-political “complaint” texts. Although the term complaint is usually associated with the socially and politically disenfranchised, Parr explicitly drew on the concept in both texts, lamenting and complaining as queen consort in 1544

M. White (*) Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_3




and as dowager queen in 1547. As we shall see, the genre of religio-­ political complaint brought with it a unique cluster of possibilities and challenges, and the goal of this chapter is to offer an investigation into Parr’s engagement with these possibilities.2 First, I examine the distinctive features of Parr’s two volumes, noting how she deployed lament, self-­ castigation, repentance, supplication, and the promise of God’s help in order to advance two very different religio-political agendas. In the Psalms or Prayers, Parr laments as an embattled wartime Henry VIII, voicing a Davidic/psalmic complaint that he is being harassed by his enemies and anticipating and thanking God for destroying them. In the Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner, Parr complains about her sins and those of the nation, but her lamentation is also a trenchant critique of the Henrician church and an endorsement of the emerging Protestant church. Here I stress the shift in Parr’s political and confessional status as she moved from being a queen consort authorised to complain for Henry, to being a reformist dowager queen compelled to complain about him. Second, I focus attention on the relationship between time and complaint in the early modern world. I demonstrate that Parr’s texts were printed at times set aside for complaint and supplication (Rogation days and the opening of parliament) and argue that they must be interpreted within those specific temporal frameworks. Finally, I consider how Parr imagines her role in the process of redress, a key question in discussions of “complaint.” In any religious complaint, God’s absolute sovereignty forces the speaker (and reader) to ponder the possibility of efficacious human activity. Parr’s works certainly affirm the primacy of divine agency in righting all wrongs, but they also affirm the ways in which her rhetorical skills could play a part in God’s redemptive work.3

Katherine Parr’s Psalms or Prayers as Religious Complaint In 1544, Parr translated Bishop John Fisher’s Psalmi seu Precationes (1525, 1544), a collection of fifteen Latin psalm collages and two psalm paraphrases.4 The Psalms or Prayers appeared anonymously, but scholars now concur that it was translated by Parr.5 Although this volume has not yet been included in considerations of the “complaint” genre, there are compelling reasons to do so. To begin with, the first twelve psalm collages draw heavily on those psalms described by biblical form-critical scholars as



“Complaint Songs” or “Lament Psalms,” while the final three psalm collages draw on psalms now called “Psalms of Praise.”6 In fact, Fisher’s fifteen collages are structured in a way that mirrors the structure of a single “Lament Psalm” that transitions into a “Psalm of Praise.” In the first twelve collages, the reader encounters the kind of highly emotive and affective language found in secular and religious complaint poetry: the speaker weeps, roars, despairs, expresses self-loathing, anger, a fear of abandonment, a hatred of enemies, and a desire for their destruction. Thus, the speaker exclaims: “Why dost thou ever forget me, and leavest me in the midst of my troubles and evils?” (265); “Shall my sorrow ever endure? Shall my wound be uncurable and never healed?” (265); “I am poor, and in misery and great calamity; and my strength is gone from me” (297); “O God almighty, save me from mine enemies, and by thy strong power defend and keep me” (307); “Destroy them [my enemies] by thy power, and bring to naught all their strength” (309). As is typical of “Lament Psalms,” the speaker also recalls God’s promise to help and vows to praise God once delivered, and then, intuiting that his petition has or will be heard, the speaker offers praise: “Be good unto me, Lord … that I may glory in thee all the days of my life” (300).7 In Fisher’s final three psalm collages, the speaker praises God and offers thanksgiving that “his enemies have not got the overhand of him”: “O Lord of hosts, I have cried to thee, and thou hast saved me.” … “My mouth shall never cease to speak of thy righteousness and of thy benefits” (338–39). The movement from complaint to thanksgiving is reprised in the two psalm paraphrases that conclude the volume: the first is a paraphrase of Psalm 22 (a Lament Psalm) which is introduced as “The complaint of Christ on the Cross,” and the second is a paraphrase of Psalm 100 (a Psalm of Praise) which is introduced as “A Psalm of Thanksgiving” (356, 362).8 Parr’s awareness that she was engaging with “complaint” might be seen in at least three of the changes that she made to her source. Fisher introduced the fourth collage with a title that focuses on the speaker’s desire to overcome sin: “Psalmus iiii quaeritur, quod a peccatis praemitur, et superatur” (Psalm four: it is earnestly sought, that one who is oppressed by sins may surmount them).9 Parr, by contrast, draws attention to the collage as a complaint: “The Fourth Psalm is a Complaint of a Penitent Sinner, which is Sore Troubled and Overcome with Sins” (264, my emphasis). Parr also adds the word “complaint” to Fisher’s sixth collage; in this collage, Fisher adapted Psalm 130:1–2 in a way that replaced the more precise biblical phrase “vocem deprecationis” (voice of my deprecations) with a more



general phrase “vocem precationis” (voice of my prayers). He writes: “Aures tuae adtentae sint in vocem precationis meae” (Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my prayers).10 Parr was clearly not satisfied with Fisher’s adaptation, and in translating the passage she clarifies that the speaker is issuing a complaint, rather than just a prayer: “O let thine ears mark well the voice of my complaint” (298, my emphasis). It is likely that Parr was aware that Coverdale had used the word “complaint” in his translation of this verse in the Great Bible (1539), but it nevertheless registers her desire to underscore the fact that her speaker is engaging in “complaint.” Finally, where Fisher introduced his paraphrase of Psalm 22 with the psalm number and the incipit, Parr explicitly framed the psalm as a complaint: “The Complaint of Christ on the Cross” (356).

Parr’s Psalms or Prayers, Wartime Complaint, and Rogation Days If Parr’s translation can be approached as a religious complaint, we must now consider exactly what it was complaining about. As many scholars have noted, the religious complaint was a valuable resource in the early modern period because of its capacity to engage with both spiritual and political problems. Psalm complaint was particularly amenable to political applications because David complains at length about his suffering at the hands of his “enemies,” both foreign and domestic. However, as Clare King’oo has pointed out, the political dimension of the psalms was often minimised and allegorised in the medieval and early modern period, as thinkers followed Augustine’s penitential reading of the psalms and interpreted David’s complaints about his enemies as complaints about his sins or about the people who lured him into sin.11 Fisher engages in precisely this type of allegorisation in the Psalmi, and Janel Mueller has observed that while the biblical psalms depict God saving the speaker from political enemies and from destruction, Fisher often introduces phrases that depict God rescuing his “soul from sin and temptation” (244, n133). It is very likely that many of Fisher’s pan-European readers read the Psalmi seu Precationes allegorically. In her translation in the spring of 1544, however, Parr worked against Fisher’s allegorising impulse by activating the Psalmi’s latent political potential and by reframing the Psalms or Prayers as a national wartime complaint. Parr published the Psalms or Prayers while Henry was at war



with the Scottish and had formed an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor to make war on France, and she added two prayers that made her military objectives explicit: the volume concludes with “A Prayer for the King” that asks God to help Henry “vanquish and overcome all his and our foes,” and with “A Prayer for Men to Say Entering into Battle” (363–65). In this militarised context, all of Fisher’s references to “enemies” would have been read as references to the French and the Scottish, and the military dimension of the diverse strands of complaint (fear, anger, repentance, imprecation, and thanksgiving) would have become obvious.12 In thinking about Parr’s Psalms or Prayers as wartime political complaint it is essential to note that it was printed with a colophon dated 25 April, St. Mark’s day and a Rogation day.13 Here I seek to introduce a temporal element into our understanding of complaint and to point out that certain days were set aside for communal lamentation and repentance in the early modern world. Four such days were referred to as Rogation days, from the Latin “rogare” (to ask). They were in the spring and early summer, when wars resumed and the crops were vulnerable: 25 April (St. Marks’ day) and the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday (a moveable feast). Rogation days involved nationwide communal processions that were penitential and supplicatory, and it is worth thinking about these processions as “complaints.”14 The logic underlying the Rogation day processions was that God had sent (or might soon send) war, plague, or crop failure to punish the English people for their sins, but that he would respond with relief if they lamented, repented, and asked for forgiveness. In addition to these four Rogation days, the monarch could order special impromptu processions in cases of “necessity or tribulation.”15 In doing so a monarch signalled to his people that he/she was interrupting “normal” time and that the country was entering into a period of “crisis time” when they would undertake the supplicatory procession normally used on Rogation Monday. A close examination of the printing dates of Parr’s Psalms or Prayers and of Henry’s ordering of processions in the spring and summer of 1544 alerts us to the fact that liturgical time is central to our understanding of Parr’s volume as complaint. As noted above, the Psalms or Prayers was first printed on a Rogation day. The second edition of the book was issued with a colophon dated 25 May, right after Ascension Thursday. In 1544, May 19, 20, and 21 were Rogation days leading up to Ascension Thursday (22 May), and in that year, special processions were held on Friday 23 to celebrate an English victory over the Scottish.16 In other words, the entire



country would have been focused on wartime complaint, supplication, and thanksgiving precisely when the first and second editions of Parr’s volume were being issued. This was also a time when Henry was preparing to disrupt normal time and order emergency processions: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s new Litany (which replaced the old procession) was printed on 27 May, and Henry ordered nationwide processions on 8 June. In sum, Parr (and Henry) clearly chose the publication dates of the Psalms or Prayers carefully and they tapped into an early modern understanding of national lament as both a perennial part of the church calendar and as a time-sensitive experience provoked by political crises.

Ventriloquizing Henry: Complaining for and as Henry VIII If Henry (and other monarchs) ordered communal processions for their subjects to use as a way of dealing with social and political crises, they also tried to overcome these crises through their own repentance, supplication, and thanksgiving. Psalm texts were important and flexible resources in such a context because David was a king and the psalmic “I” was thus a perfect medium for royal self-representation. With this in mind, I have argued that in translating Fisher’s psalmic “I” into English, Parr was not only offering an “I” for every English subject to use to support the war effort, she was also offering a monarchical “I” and projecting Henry’s voice to his people. In this regard, she was engaging in a form of royal ventriloquism, one in which she was engaging in religio-political complaint both for and as Henry.17 This element of Parr’s text is unusual and offers a novel perspective on the complex gendered dynamics of the early modern complaint. As scholars have long noted, both secular and religious complaint poetry was often female-voiced (as in the Ovidian tradition or in the tradition of Eve, Mary, or Mary Magdalen), but was usually written by men who ventriloquized female speakers for their own masculine ends. More recent scholarship (including the chapters in this volume) has begun to explore the degree to which female writers also produced female-voiced complaints. In psalm complaint, however, there were slightly different gender dynamics at work. In one sense the Davidic “I” was male. And yet, as Hannibal Hamlin and others have argued, early modern readers were accustomed to reading the Davidic “I” in multiple registers simultaneously and some of those



registers were non-gendered: the psalmic “I” was understood to be that of David, of Christ, of every male and female Christian, and of the community.18 It has often been posited that so many early modern women writers engaged with the psalms (and psalm complaint) precisely because the psalmic “I” was open to every man or woman and was thus readily available for women to appropriate and adapt.19 Insofar as Parr was engaging with Fisher’s Davidic “I” in such a fashion she was doing what Anne Askew, Elizabeth Tyrwhit, Anne Lock, Dorcas Martin, Mary Sidney Herbert, and many others would also do. However, insofar as Parr was translating Fisher’s devotional “I” into the “I” of the king, she was doing something different. As queen consort, she was engaging in royal ventriloquism and was writing and speaking as Henry, the king. In some passages Parr’s ventriloquism is particularly interesting because of the way it transports her across traditional gender boundaries and into a bellicose discursive space that was typically understood as the preserve of men. For example, in the tenth collage, we find the speaker/Parr/Henry moving from complaining about exhaustion to uttering the kind of violent imprecation one might expect from a male soldier: I am so vexed that I am utterly weary; help me against them that lie in wait for me. …. Instruct and teach my hands to battle; make my arms strong like a bow of steel. Gird me with strength to battle; overthrow them that arise against me. (318)

Because the volume was published anonymously, the novelty of Parr’s peculiar kind of royal ventriloquism would not have been apparent to all readers. However, we know that Parr distributed gift copies of the volume to members of the court in May 1544, and in 1545, Nicholas Udall praised her for her “Psalms” and used military language to describe her writing (93–94). Likely drawing directly on Parr’s Psalms or Prayers, he described her as one who overcame the weakness of the “woman-sex” and as a “good captain” whose “forward” writing served to encourage “forward soldiers,” to shame “loiterers,” and to “lead” an “army” of other writers (94). For court-insiders, then, Parr’s ventriloquism and literary foray onto the battlefields of Europe was likely well-known.



“I Will Publish to Other Thy Fidelity”: Parr’s Rhetorical Agency and the Process of Redress To conclude my discussion of this volume, I will consider the way in which Parr imagines her own rhetorical agency within the larger process of redress and resolution. Compared with erotic and political complaint, religious complaint often (but not always) points more confidently to an end of suffering because the speaker anticipates that God will offer (or celebrates that God has offered) a solution to spiritual or religio-political problems. Claus Westermann points out that even “Lament Psalms” conclude with praise because the speaker remembers that God had promised to help him and because he knows that God has heard (or will hear) his petition.20 This kind of confidence in God’s power and his promise is certainly found in Fisher’s Psalmi. Throughout the first twelve collages the speaker repeatedly appeals to God and promises to praise him for deliverance, and in the final three collages the speaker thanks God for destroying his enemies and saving him.21 Within this psalmic framework, God is sovereign and ultimately provides redress through his mercy and wisdom; and yet for individuals engaging with the psalms (or other forms of religious complaint), there always remains the important possibility that their own literary and devotional labour might be part of God’s work. The logic of wartime prayer and liturgical processions, for example, was predicated on the notion that human activity mattered and that God had promised to help those who sincerely repented and asked for help. Henry allowed Cranmer to translate the Litany into English precisely because he believed that the prayers of the English people would be less apathetic (and thus more efficacious) if the procession was in the vernacular.22 Within such a framework, the stakes were high for Parr because her literary artistry could potentially play a role in the outcome of the war. As Mueller has noted, Parr frequently used doublets in translating Fisher’s prose, a common rhetorical technique that amplifies and intensifies meaning (206–07). I propose that in these moments Parr likely thought carefully about the fact that her own words were amplifying Fisher’s, were amplifying the cries of Henry’s subjects (or of Henry himself), and were thus potentially contributing to the war effort. For example, in one verse Parr translates “faileth” as “decayed and gone” so that the speaker cries “Take me, O God, out of the hands of mine enemies, and cast me not away in the time of tribulation, when all my might is decayed



and gone” (308, my emphasis). In another verse, Parr translates “hoped” as “hope and trust” so that the speaker exclaims, “O Lord God, in thee I have put my hope and trust” (311, my emphasis). Seen in isolation these additions are very minor, but they accrue page after page, and Parr likely viewed them as a useful technique to help the English people supplicate more powerfully. Parr also uses doublets in passages where the speaker describes his/her speech acts, and I suggest that these moments can be read as self-conscious reflections on her own rhetorical agency. For example, in the fifth collage, Fisher’s speaker prefaces his requests for wisdom by drawing on Psalm 51 and promising to offer praise: “Aperi labia mea et os meum, ut nunciem laudes nominis tui” (Open my lips and mouth, that I may declare praises of thy name).23 Parr expands in two places, thereby augmenting what her readers are promising and drawing attention to her writing and amplification: “Open my lips and my mouth, that I may speak and show forth the glory and praise of thy name” (281, my emphasis). A more interesting example of this rhetorical technique occurs in the thirteenth collage when the speaker moves between stating that God has saved him from his enemies, praising God, and promising to praise him in the future. Fisher writes: “Laudibus te celebrado domine Deus, quoniam exaltasti me, et non praevaluerunt inimici mei super me” (With praises I will celebrate thee, Lord God, for thou has exalted me; and my enemies have not prevailed over me).24 Parr amplifies Fisher’s text slightly: “I will magnify and praise thee, O Lord God, for thou hast exalted me and set me up; and my enemies have not gotten the overhand of me” (338, my emphasis). A few lines later, after cataloguing a list of God’s benefits, Fisher’s speaker says: “Misericordias tuas in aeternum cantabo, notam faciam veritatem tuam in vita mea” (I will sing thy mercies forever; I will make known thy truth during my life).25 Parr expands “sing” into “singing and speaking” and translates “notam faciam” (make known) as “publish to other”: “I will ever be singing and speaking of thy mercies, and I will publish to other thy fidelity and truth so long as I shall live” (339, my emphasis). Here Parr obviously draws on the well-established definition of “publish” as “to make public or generally known; to declare or report openly or publicly” (OED 2a). The speaker promises to declare or make known God’s “fidelity.” As encountered in Parr’s printed book, however, the word “publish” also invokes a second (self-referential) definition, “to prepare and issue copies of (a book, newspaper, piece of music, etc.) for distribution or sale to the public” (OED 3a). In this sense, Parr’s word choice gestures towards the colophon “[i]mprinted at London in



Fleet Street by Thomas Berthelet, printer to the King’s highness” (365), and, in doing so, it draws attention to Parr’s activity of “publishing” (making known) God’s fidelity through “publishing” her book. In April and May 1544, the English had not yet captured Boulogne, and so Parr’s promise to publish God’s “fidelity” to the English people is in fact anticipatory; yet it draws attention to the material reality of the Psalms or Prayers and positions it as a part of God’s sovereign work.

Parr’s Lamentation of a Sinner and the First Edwardian Parliament Following Henry’s death (28 January, 1547) and her assumption of the position of dowager queen, Parr returned to the complaint mode, publishing the Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner on 5 November 1547 (447). Parr’s rhetorical self-fashioning is complex in the Lamentation, for she writes as “Parr” but in two different registers: the textual “I” presents herself as queen consort married to a still-living conservative Henry (467–68), but by the time the text was printed, the “I” was that of a dowager queen, living in an emerging Protestant regime. Before examining the text more closely, I want to stress that the timing of the publication of the Lamentation is important to our understanding of the text as complaint. If Parr’s Psalms or Prayers was printed on a day of nationwide liturgical lamentation-supplication, the Lamentation was issued with a colophon dated 5 November 1547, one day after the opening of the first Edwardian parliament on 4 November. Wendy Scase has emphasised that there was a longstanding tradition of publishing complaints, supplications, and other “clamour” texts when parliament was in session, and I suggest that the colophon of Parr’s book invokes this temporal dimension and places the work within a tradition of complaints addressed to parliament.26 The connection between the Lamentation and the parliament is heightened by the fact that the Lamentation’s title page and preface name three sponsors, all of whom were connected to parliamentary activity in some capacity: Parr’s brother, William Parr, was in the House of Lords; William Cecil was an MP for Stamford (Lincolnshire); and Katherine Brandon, the Duchess of Suffolk, had close ties to several MPs from Lincolnshire (Cecil, Edward Hall, William Skipwith).27 The concerns of this particular parliament provide an essential framework for understanding the Lamentation because Parr’s objectives mirror precisely the



objectives of the reformist MPs and Lords who sought to revoke Henrician religious legislation and to pass new legislation that would provide a foundation for an emerging reformed church and for the legal implementation of texts such as Archbishop Cranmer’s Homilies (1547), The Order of the Communion (1548), and the Book of Common Prayer (1549). In July 1547, Edward VI had issued religious Injunctions which required the use of Cranmer’s Homilies (amongst other things), but there had been legal challenges to some of these injunctions. The first Edwardian parliament removed these obstacles by repealing the “Act for the Advancement of True Religion” (1542–43) and by issuing the reformist “Sacrament Act” (December 1547).

“A Christian Complaint”: Complaining About Henry VIII and Celebrating the Power of Grace In turning to consider the content of the Lamentation, we note that Parr indicates that her text might be thought of in two parts. She describes the first part as a lamentation about her “own sins and faults” (483) and the second part as an outward-facing lamentation regarding “the faults of men which be in the world” (482). This distinction between the personal and the socio-political turns out to be misleading as both sections are political and are deeply intertwined.28 For instance, Parr opens her volume with a highly affective outpouring of grief in which she bewails her “evil and wretched former life” and her “obstinate, stony, and untractable heart” (447). Although this portion of the work presents itself as deeply personal, her readers would have recognised it as unavoidably political because the “sins” she bewails were the beliefs or practices enforced by the King’s Book (1543), a Henrician publication that had made official pronouncements on theological questions such as the sacraments, Bible reading, free will, justification, good works, and the use of devotional images.29 In this way, Parr’s public dissection of her “untractable heart” also operates as a pointed attack on her dead husband’s religious convictions and legislation; if her position as queen consort in 1544 led her to complain for Henry, she now found herself as queen dowager complaining about him. For example, Parr castigates herself for using devotional images and for trusting in “men’s traditions,” but she saves her most intense grief for the issue of justification and for the “sin” of having believed in the efficacy of good works. This is clearly an attack on the King’s Book which confirmed



the meritorious nature of good works: it asserted that man had free will to do good works; that man “shall be also a worker by his free consent and obedience [to grace] … in the attaining of his own justification”; and that good works would lead to a “reward.”30 The King’s Book also insisted that Paul envisioned faith working in conjunction with hope and charity, and it rejected the notion of justification by faith (or grace) “only” or “alone”: “men may not think that we be justified by faith, as it is a several virtue separated from hope and charity.”31 Parr’s Lamentation is (in large part) a horrified and vehement rejection of these beliefs, and she describes her former commitment to the idea that she could be a “worker” in her justification as evidence of vanity and a debased understanding of her relationship with God: I, most presumptuously thinking nothing of Christ crucified, went about to set forth mine own righteousness … extolling myself and despising others, working as an hired servant for wages or else for reward; and not as a loving child, only for very love without respect of wages or reward. (450–51)

This highly wrought exercise in self-loathing (which attacks many tenets from the King’s Book) concludes with an exclamatory summary of her grief about her former life, and a marginal note informs the reader that this has been her “lamentation”: “[w]hat cause now have I to lament, mourn, sigh, and weep for my life, and time so evil spent!” (453). Parr then asks what she should do about her grief: “shall I fall in desperation?” The answer, of course, is no. Parr’s passionate “lamentation” turns out to be a short prelude for the much longer description of the “redress,” and the text morphs into something different as she recounts her conversion, her reception of God’s grace, and her acceptance of the “truth” that justification comes through grace alone. Although Parr continues to write in the first person, the emotional language recedes and she proceeds to deliver a highly technical exposition of reformed soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) as she discusses and defines terms such as: lively faith, dead faith, works, faith, and charity. Thus at the heart of the “lamentation” we find a lengthy mini-sermon that lays bare the new convictions of her “heart,” but that also engages with two crown-sponsored theological texts: it rejects the traditional understanding of salvation found in the King’s Book, and it advances the concepts of sola gratia and sola fide found in Archbishop Cranmer’s Homilies. For example, Parr boldly instructs her



reader that “Saint Paul saith we be justified by the faith in Christ, and not by the deeds of the law” (456) and “it is not false that, by faith only, I am sure to be justified” (459). Here, she affirms (and echoes) Cranmer’s assertion that “no man is justified, by the works of the law, but freely by faith in Jesus Christ,” and she rejects the King’s Book insistence that justification could not come through faith “only” but also required works.32 In passages like these, Parr’s dual objectives clearly align themselves with the objectives of the reformist MPs who sought to abolish Henrician orthodoxies and usher in a new body of beliefs and practices. If a large part of Parr’s “lamentation” turns out to be a technical discussion of her acceptance of new doctrinal tenets, it is essential to note that she offers several analyses of the mechanics of her conversion (the redress) and their relations to the human acts of complaining and rejoicing. Parr makes it clear that her conversion was not something that she initiated and that she was the passive recipient of God’s grace, grace that “made” her turn to the Word and that “made” her see the truth. What is particularly intriguing is that Parr describes her conversion as a moment that led both to unspeakable joy but also to self-loathing and complaint. Thus she explains that she became aware of (and sorrowful for) her ignorance only after God worked upon her and infused her with grace: “I never had this unspeakable … love of God printed and fixed in my heart duly, till it pleased God, of His mere grace, mercy, and pity, to open mine eyes, making me to see and behold with the eye of lively faith, Christ crucified to be mine only Saviour and Redeemer. For then I began (and not before) to perceive and see mine own ignorance and blindness” and then “all pleasures” began “to wax bitter unto me” and “I had in detestation and horror, that which I erst so much loved” (457–58). A similar meditation on God’s activity, human passivity, joy, and self-hatred occurs at the end of Parr’s self-analysis. This section is formally flagged in the margin as a “Christian Complaint,” yet it is more accurately described as a moment of triumph, and it is crucial to note that Parr’s complaint is a consequence of (not a precursor to) her conversion and experience of salvation. She explains: I never … lamented for my sins truly, until the time God inspired me with his grace, that I looked in this book [the Bible]. Then I began to see perfectly, that my own power and strength could not help me, and that I was in the Lord’s hand. … Then I began to cry, and say: Alas, Lord, that ever I have so wickedly offended thee … and … now [thou] hast declared and



showed thy goodness unto me … to call me, and also to make me know and take thee for my savior and redeemer. Such be the wonderful works of God, to call sinners to repentance, and to make them to take Christ. (466)

Although early modern religious complaints usually conclude with consolation or with the promise or hope of salvation, there is great variation in terms of the speakers’ concluding utterances. Indeed, some religious “complaints” are voiced by speakers who complain, pray, and hope for mercy and salvation, but who do not experience the certainty of God’s grace within the framework of the text itself. Psalm versifications by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and Anne Lock might be included in this category. Parr’s text, by contrast, is notable for the confidence of the speaker who asserts that God has “made” her “take” Christ as her saviour, and it is from this position of joyful certainty that she can “complain” and say “alas” about her former wickedness.

Parr’s Rhetorical Agency and the Process Exemplarity, Prayer, and Threat

of Redress:

Parr’s insistence that God’s grace turned her from darkness and “made” her see the truth raises questions about the ability of her complaint to do anything concrete in the world. Indeed, God’s sovereignty forces her to meditate on the possibilities and limits of her own textual activity, and, as in the Psalms or Prayers, Parr outlines different ways in which her book could play a role in the conversion of the nation. First, Parr and William Cecil (who wrote the preface) express hope that Parr’s narrative could function as a template for others. Kimberly Coles has argued that the purpose of the Lamentation is “not to convey personal experience, but rather to relate a spiritual formula” and that Parr becomes “a model to be copied—the very character of conversion.”33 Certainly, Parr opens her text by pointing to the possibility of exemplarity as she claims that she has been motivated to relate her experience by the “love I owe to all Christians, whom I am content to edify, even with the example of mine own shame” (447), and she concludes by stressing that she has issued her text out of a desire to praise God and to “win any man to Christ, of what degree or sort soever he were” (482–83). Cecil’s entire preface is an amplification of this idea that Parr’s lamentation could “win” readers to Christ. The header to his “Preface” announces that he himself had “taken much profit by the reading of this treatise” and that he wished “unto every Christian, by the reading thereof, like profit with



increase from God” (443). Later, having summarised Parr’s turn to the Word and her embrace of “true religion” Cecil again offers Parr as an exemplar: he states that the “fruit of this treatise” is the readers’ “amendment”; he positions her as a “guide”; and he asks readers to “feed” by her “example” (445–46). At the end of this paragraph, Cecil points to the theological lynch-pin that enables Parr to function as an exemplar: God has promised to save those who turn to him, and thus by imitating Parr, readers “mayst please God in asking [for] grace” (445). In other words, Parr can function as an exemplar only because of God’s promise to save those who do what she has done: “Be thou sure, if we acknowledge our sins, God is faithful to forgive us” (445). If both Parr and Cecil describe Parr’s text as a template that might be part of God’s plan to convert other Christians, Parr delineates another role for herself as one who has crafted “prayers” that petition God to bring about the spiritual transformation of all English people. These prayers are found in the second part of the text in passages where Parr laments the spiritual failures of various social groups and implores God to send grace and the Holy Spirit to them (467, 476, 477, 480). Parr embeds these prayers within her narrative but they are clearly identified as “prayers” in the margin, a detail that encourages readers to take up Parr’s devotional “I” and to join her in prayer. For example, right after her own “Christian Complaint,” Parr writes: “I pray the Lord that this great benefit of Christ crucified may be steadfastly fixed and printed in all Christian hearts, that they may be true lovers of God” (467). She later writes: “I pray God all men and women may have grace to become meet tillage for the fruits of the Gospel” (476), and she concludes her attack on “evil divines” by asking, “I pray God send all learned men the Spirit of God abundantly, that their doctrine may bring forth the fruits thereof” (477). These prayers shed light on Parr’s authorial self-understanding and on her hope that her complaint and prayers might have an ongoing role to play in the unfolding of God’s plan for the English people. Finally, Parr’s concluding “prayer” points to another more sinister method of assisting God as she threatens her readers with both earthly and eternal punishment. This section begins with a “godly wish” that all would follow her conversion (marginal note, 483). But she acknowledges that her desire has yet to be realised. As her parting salvo, Parr seeks to bring about conversion through terror as she offers a “true threatening” (marginal note) and describes the “reward” of sinners—damnation at the last judgment: “I pray God our own faults and deeds condemn us not, at the



last day. … Truly, if we do not redress and amend our living … we shall receive a terrible sentence of Christ … when he shall come to judge and condemn all transgressors” (484). Parr uses the pronoun “we,” but this is clearly disingenuous as she is addressing only those readers who have not embraced reformed soteriology (as she has). What is especially interesting is that although Parr refers to the last judgment, her use of legal terminology also gestures towards the earthly legal context in which her volume was published. As noted earlier, the parliament that met on 4 November would repeal Henrician religious legislation and would make the reformed theological beliefs found in Cranmer’s Homilies and Parr’s Lamentation mandatory. Thus, although Parr (like a prophet) threatens readers with the eternal “terrible sentence of Christ,” she also (as a queen dowager) threatens them with a more immediate legal “sentence” and reminds them that the Edwardian State was in the process of making her reformed convictions the law of the land. This was not an empty threat, and traditionalists like Bishop Stephen Gardiner were imprisoned in early 1548 for refusing to accept the new religious legislation, ideas, and texts.

Conclusion Parr’s Psalms or Prayers and Lamentation drew on and contributed to the rich textual culture of religio-political complaint in the mid-sixteenth century. Although religio-political complaints are usually written from the perspective of the oppressed, the marginal, and the disenfranchised, Parr’s works offer fresh insights into the ways those at the centre of power could also deploy the language of suffering, despair, supplication, and hope of divine redress to respond to pressing religio-political developments. Parr’s works also draw our attention to the fact that complaint and supplication were deeply embedded in the early modern experience of time, and that writers published complaints with an understanding that they would be read within specific liturgical and political temporal frameworks. Finally, Parr’s complaints also grapple with the vexing problem of human agency, and they display a remarkable confidence in the possibility that she had been empowered by God and the state to produce complaints that could play a part in God’s redemptive work. The popularity of Parr’s texts raises an important future question about their reception history and impact. For example, Coles has pointed out that Parr’s works were popular for many years: Psalms and Prayers went through twenty-three editions between 1544 and 1613 and the  Lamentation was reprinted in 1548,



1563, 1582, and 1587.34 It is likely that these works influenced a range of male and female writers who also turned to religious complaint in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the specific details of Parr’s impact on this later tradition is an important next step in the history of women and complaint.35

Notes 1. A few examples include Henry Brinklow’s The Complaint of Roderick Mors (1542) and Lamentation of a Christian against the City of London (1542); Simon Fish’s A Supplication of the Poor Commons, Whereunto is added the Supplication of Beggers (1546); Piers Plowman’s Exhortation unto …. Parliamenthouse (1550); and the Psalm paraphrases written by Thomas Wyatt, George Blage, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Thomas Smith, and John Dudley. Discussions of these texts can be found in John Kerrigan, “Introduction,” in Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint”: A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 1–85; Wendy Scase, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272–1553 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 149–170; and James Simpson, “The Psalms and Threat in Sixteenth-Century English Court Culture,” Renaissance Studies 29, no. 4 (2015): 576–94. 2. Several scholars have included references to Parr’s Lamentation in their surveys of the complaint, but her engagement with the genre has yet to be studied in depth. This essay offers a first step in that direction. See Kerrigan, “Introduction,” 25, 30; and Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan and Sarah C. E. Ross “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 347. 3. In the chapter on Anne Lock in this volume, Susan Felch delineates three modes of religious complaint (prophetic, petitionary, and penitential) and focuses on Lock’s use of them to instruct her audience. This chapter complements Felch’s but focuses on Parr’s shifting convictions and status and her use of all three modes of complaint to achieve specific religio-political objectives. 4. Janel Mueller provides an excellent introduction to and a modernised version of this translation in Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence, ed. Janel Mueller (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 197–365. All parenthetical citations will be from this edition. Susan M. Felch discusses the term psalm collage in “‘Halff a Scrypture Woman’: Heteroglossia and Female Authorial Agency in Prayers by Lady Elizabeth Tyrwhit, Anne Lock, and Anne Wheathill,” in English Women, Religion, and Textual Production, 1500–1625, ed. Micheline White (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), 150–51.



5. I discuss the history of the attribution in “Katherine Parr, Henry VIII, and Royal Literary Collaboration,” in Gender, Authorship and Early Modern Women’s Collaboration, ed. Patricia Pender (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 23–46. 6. For a discussion of the different types of Psalms, see Hermann Gunkel and Joachim Begrich, Introduction to Psalms: The Genres of the Religious Lyric of Israel, trans. James D. Nogalski (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998) and Claus Westermann, The Praise of God in the Psalms, trans. Keith R. Crim (London: Epworth Press, 1966). 7. Westermann, Praise of God, 78–81. 8. I use Protestant psalm numbering throughout. 9. Psalmi seu precationes ex variis scripturae locis collectae (London, 1544; STC 2994), D8. All verbatim translations of Fisher’s prose are those provided by Mueller in her notes. 10. Ibid., G1. The term “deprecation” refers to a prayer that asks God to remove evil. 11. Clare Costley King’oo, Miserere Mei: The Penitential Psalms in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012), 11–12. 12. I discuss the concept and function of wartime repentance at greater length in “The Psalms, War, and Royal Iconography: Katherine Parr’s Psalms or Prayers (1544) and Henry VIII as David,” Renaissance Studies 29, no. 4 (2015): 554–75. See also Kimberly Anne Coles, Religion, Reform, and Women’s Writing in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 47–51. 13. The Latin Psalmi was printed in London on 18 April, the day the English fleet left London to attack Scotland. White, “Psalms, War, and Royal Iconography,” 562. 14. The texts used in these processions can be found in Processionale ad Usum Insignis ac Praeclarae Ecclesiae Sarum, ed. W.  G. Henderson (Leeds, 1882), 103–21 and 164–66. Roger Bowers discusses the content of these processions in “The Vernacular Litany of 1544 During the Reign of Henry VIII,” in Authority and Consent in Tudor England, ed. G. W. Bernard and S. J. Gunn (Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2002), 151–77. 15. Processionale, ed. Henderson, 164. These processions also involved “beating the bounds” of the parish and had a festive and social dimension. 16. See National Prayers: Special Worship since the Reformation. Volume 1: Special Prayers, Fasts, and Thanksgivings in the British Isles, 1533–1688, ed. Natalie Mears et al. (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2013), 13–14. 17. I discuss this at greater length in relation to Parr’s subsequent position as Regent in “Katherine Parr, Henry VIII, and Royal Literary Collaboration,” 33–37.



18. Hannibal Hamlin, “My Tongue Shall Speak: The Voices of the Psalms,” Renaissance Studies 29, no. 4 (2015): 509–30. 19. Margaret P.  Hannay, “‘So May I With the Psalmist Truly Say’: Early Modern Englishwomen’s Psalm Discourse,” in Write or Be Written: Early Modern Women Poets and Cultural Constraints, ed. Barbara Smith and Ursula Appelt (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001), 105–34. 20. Westermann, Praise of God, 78–81. 21. Of course, this temporal progression does not map onto the situation in April 1544 very neatly. God had not yet given Henry definitive victories over the Scottish or the French, and so all the passages in the last three psalms are anticipatory (in 1544) rather than descriptive of a recently obtained triumph. 22. Mears et al., National Prayers, 15–16. 23. Fisher, Psalmi seu Precationes, E8. 24. Ibid., I7–8. 25. Ibid., I8. 26. Scase, Literature and Complaint, 154. Henry Brinklow’s The Complaint of Roderick Mors (1542; 1546) was addressed to parliament. 27. Melissa Franklin Harkrider, Women, Reform, and Community in Early Modern England: Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, and Lincolnshire’s Godly Aristocracy, 1519–1580 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008). 28. In what follows, I will focus primarily on Parr’s discussion of her “own sins and faults.” 29. This book is known as the King’s Book, but the title is: Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man set forth by the King’s Majesty (London, 1543; STC 5176). It was enforced by the “Act for the Advancement of True Religion.” 30. The King’s Book is printed in Formularies of Faith put forth by Authority during the Reign of Henry VIII, ed. Charles Lloyd (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1856), 213–377; 359, 365, 71. 31. Ibid., 223. 32. Thomas Cranmer, Certain Sermons or Homilies Appointed by the King’s Majesty (London, 1547; STC 13640), D3. 33. Coles, Religion, 64–65. 34. Coles, Religion, 47, 53, n39. 35. For example, it is certain that the courtiers who wrote psalm paraphrases from prison at the end of Henry’s reign were aware of Parr’s Psalms or Prayers, but the degree to which they engaged with it is yet unknown. Parr’s works likely also had an impact on Anne Lock (discussed by Susan Felch in her chapter in this volume): Parr employed Lock’s mother as a silk-woman, and in 1544 Parr intervened for a man who would soon become Lock’s tutor. The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock, ed. Susan M. Felch (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 1999), xx–xxi.


“Ane Wyfis Quarrel”: Complaining Women in Scottish Reformation Satire Tricia A. McElroy

This chapter addresses some little-known examples of complaint and satire from sixteenth-century Scotland, which, in compelling ways, all intersect meaningfully with the themes of this volume: the politics, form, and transmission of early modern women’s complaint. This material dates from the period following the overthrow of Mary Queen of Scots in 1567, years marked by civil war in Scotland and by a torrent of political and religious propaganda against the queen and her supporters. Although a few items remain in the manuscript, much of this propaganda survives in the form of broadside poetry. The poems are exhortatory, caustic, and antifeminist, with admonishment and invective occasionally tempered by the softer tones of lamentation, which reflect on the hardships suffered by Scottish citizens during this period of strife. Interestingly—given the otherwise misogynistic bent of this propaganda—women often appear as politically aware and engaged, lamenting the state of the commonweal or even calling for action. They usually speak through allegorical-like figures, such as Maddie, a wife selling kale in Edinburgh, or as the suffering figure of T. A. McElroy (*) University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_4




“Lady Scotland.” This chapter will first survey the kinds of literature that might have influenced the forms and strategies of female-voiced complaint in sixteenth-century Scotland and then examine the strategy of co-opting women’s voices for specific political objectives. These poetic choices carry particular weight and meaning in a period marked by the overthrow of a queen accused of sexual and moral indiscretion. Finally, I will correlate this material with evidence from the State Papers that suggest the presence of real, if indistinct, women engaged with the state of affairs in Scotland. Whether in poetry or on the street, the women’s voices in this Scottish propaganda would seem to confirm the possibilities of complaint as a “nuanced vehicle for expressing powerlessness or protest in response to loss and grievance in the rapidly changing cultures” of the early modern period.1 Loss, grievance, rapidly changing cultures: these conditions certainly describe the Scottish moment with which this chapter is concerned. With the Protestant Reformation of the kirk in place, the reign of a Catholic queen abruptly halted in disgrace, and a power struggle underway (complicated by kinship ties at home and “auld” and new alliances abroad), Scotland witnessed a surge in political propaganda during the 1560s and 1570s, satirical poetry complexly indebted to literary tradition and sharply transformed to impact current affairs. Although some of the poems are anonymous, many were written by the elusive Robert Sempill and printed as broadsides by Robert Lekpreuik.2 Sempill’s fiercely Protestant poetry appeared first as part of a campaign against Mary and, over the course of Scotland’s civil war, addressed other aspects of the evolving political situation.3 His principal strategy was to transform familiar literary topoi into functional and effective tools of political persuasion: a chanson d’aventure exposes murder and adultery, for example, or a locus amoenus hosts a controversial political debate.4 Sempill’s skill in modifying classical and native literary habits and in revivifying them for a specific purpose also creates the effect of vocal multiplicity: commoners debate resistance theory, minstrels expose scandal, and poets trade insults.5 Presented in the popular form of the broadside ballad, posted on the market cross or kirk door anonymously after dark, these ordinary voices—their ways of speaking, their cacophony of implied political interest and engagement—gain tremendous persuasive power. Mary Queen of Scots and her parliament, in fact, were worried enough to issue an act on 19 April 1567 prohibiting:



placards and billis and ticquettis of defamatioun sett up under silence of nycht in diverse publict places alsweill within burgh as utherwyse in the Realme. To the sclander reproche and Infamye of the quenis Maiestie and divers of the nobilitie.6

But the broadside literature nevertheless continued to pour from Sempill’s pen and Lekpreuik’s press. The tone of these ballads can be characterized as exhortatory, admonishing the nobles who waver in their support for Protestantism and James VI and urging them to persist in their resistance against the adherents of Queen Mary. Many of Sempill’s poems, in fact, are entitled “exhortation” or “admonition,” or, on the more declamatory side, “proclamation” or “declaration.” The so-called Confederate Lords—those who banded together against Mary—are instructed again and again to pursue justice against the queen, to beware of Hamilton treachery, and to protect and maintain the young king.7 These admonitions are frequently punitive, veering into strong invective, and at least one poem provides evidence of a real-world flyting carried out on the market cross.8 In the manuscript poem “Ane Ansuer maid to the Sklanderaris,” Sempill encodes his name in an acrostic and lambasts an unnamed political opponent, calling him a “Reingat rapfow! … Skorner of poitis and sklanderus knaif!” (VIII.1). His target has apparently posted “wyndie wordes vane,” which Sempill demands he “recant and sweir thow said it nocht” (21, 18): to flyte with this opponent would simply “fyle my lippis” (26). Calling his rival a “reingat rapfow” (a renegade, a deserter, who fills a hangman’s rope—a rope-fill), Sempill colourfully suggests someone who has abandoned Protestantism and the cause of James VI, someone who is, quite simply, a “papist loun.” The arguably softer tones of complaint can also be heard in Sempill’s poems, but they are not—to cite one description of the mode—generally preoccupied with lamenting the fallen condition of humanity in a morally compromised universe.9 The universe of mid-century Scotland was, no doubt, compromised—by extreme factionalism and rancour—yet when Sempill’s complaints begin conventionally or are more moderate than his exhortations and invective, they still tilt towards satire and specificity. Like all complaint in the early modern period, Scottish examples from the middle of the sixteenth century took inspiration from much older and interpenetrating literary traditions. Seeking the origins of Tudor and Elizabethan complaint, Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah Ross emphasize the varied traditions from which complaint developed,



both secular and religious. From biblical psalms to medieval love poetry to peasant plaints, early modern complaint emerged from literatures expressing a range of emotions (from despair to anger) and serving a variety of uses (from lamentation to petition). Smith et al. also cite medieval traditions of religious protest, which provided highly adaptable models for the heightened atmosphere of the Reformation period, as well as what Wendy Scase has meticulously traced as the judicially rooted “literature of clamour.”10 The influences on early modern Scottish complaint are, I would argue, largely similar: like English writers, Scottish poets would have been indebted to Old Testament prophetic and psalmic literature; they would have known their Chaucer and Lydgate;11 and they would have known that foundational text for medieval and early modern female-­ voiced complaint, Ovid’s Heroides.12 But local, more immediate, inspiration is also important to acknowledge: Sempill and his contemporaries had access to their own native tradition, in which Scottish makars had already begun to adapt and distil these older biblical, classical, and European and English influences. It is worth recalling Alasdair MacDonald’s observation that political upheaval in the 1560s resuscitated a host of Middle Scots writers, suggesting that “the very religious and political factionalism of the period 1560-73 may have had a catalytic role in evoking a quasi-­nationalistic interest in the literary achievement of mediaeval Scotland.”13 I would argue that, in turn, this renewed interest in the native literary tradition offered suitable paradigms by which to frame and understand a political change as profoundly radical as Mary’s deposition. A variety of Middle Scots writers and texts would have influenced versions of mid-sixteenth-century complaint. For example, the anonymous fifteenth-century poem The Quare of Jelusy—preserved in the same manuscript as The Kingis Quair, Bodleian Arch. Selden. B. 24—presents a common scenario in which a male narrator overhears the complaint of a woman. In this case, she laments to Hymen and Diana her husband’s unjustified jealousy, which prompts the hidden listener’s extended complaint about his own suffering, as well as his treatise about the vice of jealousy in all of its “social, ethical, and political definitions.”14 The most obvious candidates for influencing examples of sixteenth-century complaint include Robert Henryson, William Dunbar, and Sir David Lyndsay, poets who produced a remarkable corpus, using forms like testaments, petitions, elegies, debates, and devotions, among others. Robert Henryson’s immensely popular Testament of Cresseid (c.1475–1490), for example, narrates Cresseid’s tragic fate—stricken with leprosy, an outcast



from society—and allows her to lament, to reflect, and importantly to deliver a final testament. Henryson uniquely engages with, interrogates, and extends Chaucer’s text and, by giving Cresseid a voice, “aligns his poem with Ovid’s Heroides.”15 Henryson’s Morall Fabillis (c.1480s), a collection of thirteen fables indebted to Aesop and to medieval beast traditions, provides a platform for the poet to observe and to lament the moral failings of humankind—gluttony, avarice, duplicity, lasciviousness, hypocrisy. “Na mervell is, ane man be lyke a beist,” complains Henryson in the Prologue, “Quhilk lufis ay carnall and foull delyte,/That schame can not him renye [restrain] nor arreiste” (50–2).16 Although the Fabillis censure common social injustices of the time—corruption, poverty, oppression, the abuse of those in power—Lyall argues that their mode is “manifestly complaint,” rather than explicitly topical satire.17 Dunbar’s poetry, on the other hand, often assumes a more overtly sardonic and witty posture than Henryson’s, supplying strident social commentary and criticism. Whether he is mocking figures at court, the corruption of lawyers, or drinking and carousing women, Dunbar does so with a virtuosity of tone, prosody, diction, and genre that had an enormous impact on later Scottish poets.18 His poems “Richt arely one Ask [Ash] Wedinsday” (The Twa Cummaris) and The Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo, in particular, provide that familiar scene of male eavesdropping, with drinking women lamenting the strictures of Lent in the former and complaining about the limits of male sexual performance in the latter. But Dunbar also strikes the more general chords of complaining about the evils of the times and the insecurity and vanity of this world: “Quhom to sall I compleine my wo,” he asks, in a poem with the refrain, “For in this warld may none assure.”19 He often slides purposively—and locally, within a single poem—between satire and complaint. His poem chastising the merchants of Edinburgh, for example, offers “a satirical blend of description and condemnation,” as Lyall points out.20 Dunbar censures the stench and darkness of Edinburgh, the “singular proffeit” and dishonourableness of the merchants, and the refrain of the poem warns of the “hurt and sclander” of their good name. Although Dunbar gives the merchants practical instructions to “Keip ordour and poor nighbouris beit [assist]” he ultimately tilts back towards complaint in a plea for God to offer remedy: I pray that lord remeid to fynd That deit into Jerusalem, And gar yow schame,



That sumtyme ressoun may yow bind, For to [restore?] yow guid name. (73–7)

And, of course, Dunbar gave future Scottish poets a rollicking specimen of invective in The Flyting of Dumbar and Kennedie (c.1508), a famous instance of competitive poetry that dwells more on the individual rather than “broader moral or social issues.”21 Of these three poets, Sir David Lyndsay may have exerted the most profound influence on Sempill and other mid-century poets. Lyndsay bridges the medieval and Reformation periods in Scotland in both literary and political ways: committed to reform (if still from within the Catholic church), an experimenter with medieval forms, he was admired and embraced by poets and reformers as someone to whom they could look for models and inspiration. Many of Lyndsay’s works would have influenced complaint and satire in Scotland, notably The Testament and Complaynt of our Souerane Lordis Papyngo (1530), The Tragedie of the Cardinal (1547), and his play Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis (1552). In the Papyngo, Lyndsay moves from political advice to anti-clerical argument, combining several genres to satiric effect: bird fable, de casibus tragedy, chanson d’aventure, as well as the obvious complaint and testament. The eponymous dying parrot, who plummets from a tree after climbing too high, delivers conventional wisdom about the perils and corruption of the court, which have led to her tragic fall, and then presents King James V with a “mirror for princes,” advising him to dispense justice, listen to good counsel, and govern his desires. Lyndsay’s Tragedie also takes the form of a testament, delivered by the ghost of Cardinal David Beaton, assassinated in 1546 by a group of Protestant lairds who subsequently flung his corpse from a window of St Andrews castle, putting his “dede and deformit carioun” on show for all to see (261).22 Citing Boccaccio as an inspiration at its outset, this de casibus poem—much in the vein of The Mirror for Magistrates—allows the Cardinal to recount his career in the Church and to confess to a litany of sins: corruption, abuse, and moral turpitude.23 It concludes with sections of advice to princes and prelates, exhorting them to “reid at lenth this sedull that I send yow” so that they may avoid the gruesome fate of Beaton (280). Yet Lyndsay remains best known for Ane Satyre, a play indebted to medieval moralities but deeply preoccupied with the current social and political concerns of Scotland.24 Ane Satyre presents Rex Humanitas, in its first section, succumbing to the temptation of Lady Sensualitie and the bad counsel of Placebo, Solace,



and Wantonness. Rex prevails over his fleshly weakness when Divine Correctioun orchestrates the king’s receiving of Gude Counsell, Veritie, and Chastitie. In the second section of the play, with Rex morally rehabilitated, the allegorical Pauper and John the Commonweal literally step into the play-world, begging for alms, articulating their plaints, and demanding reparation for taxation, exploitation, and poverty. In this play-world, Rex Humanitas convenes a parliament of the estates charged with hearing and attempting to redress the complaints of John the Commonweal and Pauper. Lyndsay’s play thus dramatizes the delivery of plaint by both the commons (through John the Commonweal) and the particular figure of Pauper, suggesting a model for communal cooperation to address social ills and corruption. Given the sharp divisions of the 1560s, the moment of turmoil in which Sempill and his contemporaries lived and wrote, their likeliest influences, then, would have been a native tradition of poems of petition, testimony, and grievance, as well as generic experimentation of the kind to be found in Dunbar and Lyndsay especially.25 There is one additional “local” and little-discussed text that could well have had an impact on complaint in the mid-sixteenth century. Generally attributed to Robert Wedderburn, The Complaynt of Scotland (c.1549–1550) dates from the period of “Rough Wooing” (c.1543–1551), during which the English plagued Scotland with sword and with pen in an attempt to break Scotland’s historic alliance with France and to force a marriage between Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VIII’s son Edward. A prolific English propaganda campaign, orchestrated by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and Lord Protector during the minority of Edward VI, continued the long-running argument for England’s historical feudal superiority over the Scots and for the benefits of an Anglo-Scots alliance. Dedicated to Mary of Guise, the Complaynt is a curious piece of prose. Its editor describes it thus: “a defence and illustration of the vernacular, an adaption of [Alain Chartier’s Le Quadrilogue Invectif], a propaganda pamphlet, a historical interpretation, a sermon, and it has elements of encyclopedia and the pastoral.”26 But its primary intention was to discredit and repudiate England’s claims of overlordship, and the Complayner does so in part by recounting a dream vision in which Dame Scotia appears to him: In my dullit dreyme ande sopit vision, i thoct that her aperit to me, ane lady of excellent extraction ande of anciant genolygie, makkand ane melancolius cheir, for the grite violens that sche hed sustenit & indurit. (54)



Dame Scotia’s appearance signifies the dishevelled state of Scotland: her golden hair is tangled, “feltrit & trachlit [tangled, disheveled] out of order”; her crown “hingand & brangland [shaking]”; and the red lion on her shield “hurt in mony placis of his body.” Her mantle—“reuyn & raggit in mony placis” (55)—is constructed to reflect the three estates of the commonweal, her three sons Temporality, Spirituality, and Merchant/ Labour. In the course of her monologue, she sharply reprimands the estates, who have shown no “pytie of me your natural mother” by fomenting discord, failing to govern well, and generally acting with ignorance, abuse, and deceit (56–7). She laments the “grite persecution” she suffers at the hands of the English and exhorts her sons to “deffende the liberte ande to saue the dominione” of Scotland (57). The religious and political sympathies of the Complaynt’s author do not necessarily align with Sempill’s—here the voice is anti-English and more conservative—but the figure of Dame Scotia, lamenting division, discord, and suffering, very likely provided a model for Sempill and other poets writing during Scotland’s civil war. And whatever their alliances, these writers undoubtedly shared a genuine concern for the integrity and health of the Scottish commonweal. The earliest surviving broadside ballads from this period concentrate on excoriating Mary Queen of Scots and exhorting the Scottish lords to persist in seeking justice for the murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the queen’s second husband. Darnley is even given his own “testament” (IV), which presents him as a gracious prince tragically cut off by his rapacious wife. But it is the 1570 assassination of James Stewart, Regent and Earl of Moray, half-brother of Mary, that provokes an outpouring of grief, anger, and, of course, admonition from Sempill.27 “The Complaint of Scotland” (XI) is the first poem that announces itself as such, opening with a conventional dismissal of “all glaidnes, sport, and play! / … / All thingis that may mak mirrie cheir” (1–3).28 The voice of “pure [poor] Scotland” laments in quintain, iambic tetrameter, the loss of the Regent who had reined in the forces of “Lawles libertie,” “mischeif and crueltie,” and reinstated “equitie” throughout the land (41–4). While the context remains political, the poetic voice is distinctly female, inconsolable, and eroticized insofar as she is left defenceless and grieving for her “deir”—that is, Moray, the dear protector of Scotland. Her refrain is a variation on the mournful theme, “to graif is gone my deir,” and she refers to him as her “Turtill trew” whose “cruell murther” can be remedied by no one but “God maist hie” (14, 17). This particular “cureles wound” (26) is the worst she has ever



endured, since Fergus I established the independent kingdom of Scotland in 330 BC.29 The traditional ballad phrase “Wa [woe] worth” turns from the moan of anguish, however, to a biting attack on the Hamilton murderer of Moray, as well as on the entire family to which he belongs: “Wa worth the! wretche! wa worth thy clan!” (36). As the poet picks up momentum, Scotland’s complaint careens into abuse: O cursit Cain! o hound of hell! O bludie bairne of Ishmaell! Gedeliah quhen thow did steir [rule], To vicis all thow rang the bell, Throw cruell murther of my deir. (61–5)

Raising the spectre of Old Testament murder—first of Abel, then of the mild governor Gedaliah, assassinated by Ishmael (Jeremiah 41:1–4)— poor Scotland subsequently calls for revenge: the noble lords, the barons, even the commons are called upon to “Reuenge his deith with ane assent,” to “Defend your King and feir your God” (86, 101), and, yet still, to bear the banner of “peace and concord” in the course of cleansing the land (114). In the final stanza, with “sobbing sych,” she delivers this bill of “complaint” to the King’s party—to be posted up on the market cross or church door, one presumes—“Desyring yow all without feir/Me, pure Scotland, for to defend” (118–19). As is so often the case in this propaganda, the process of transmission is modelled by the poem, whereby the poet-narrator or speaking figure delivers a “bill” or “schedull” to be posted for public view. The murder of Moray elicited other complaints, but the grieving figure employed elsewhere is, interestingly, the infant King James. James makes frequent appearances in Sempill’s satire or in related propaganda, because, obviously, he could serve as a malleable mouthpiece for the cause of Mary’s opponents: James becomes not only their figurehead—the legitimate heir to replace the wayward queen—but also their visual and verbal emblem, a small child crying mightily for revenge against their enemies, whether Mary or her supporters more generally. And while co-opting James may not constitute female-voiced complaint per se, it certainly qualifies as a similarly ventriloquized instance of a male poet/narrator appropriating the voice of a disempowered figure—for the purpose, here, of using that figure as a source of real political power. In the immediate aftermath of his father Darnley’s murder, for example, when rumours began to circulate



about Mary’s alleged adultery and part in the conspiracy, James’s voice bellows from an early satirical poem as a “bony boy … soir makand his mone;/His sory sang was oche and wallaway!” (III.3–4). Positioned on the outskirts of Edinburgh, the “bony boy” is encountered by a wandering “Menstrell” who takes it upon himself to spread the story of misdeeds in Scotland to “the Cane of Tartarie” (226). The rhetorical representation of the fatherless and vulnerable infant is also rendered in contemporary drawings and banners, both surviving and described in the State Papers: an infant sitting up in his cradle, hands in prayer, petitioning God (and the Scottish nobles) with a psalmic refrain, “Judge and revenge my cause, o Lord.”30 James continues to be a source of anxiety in the poems from 1567 to 1570—whoever controlled the prince also controlled Scotland, after all—and Sempill frequently reminds the Confederate Lords to: Keip weil your Prince, & for him pray That God indew him with his grace, That he incres may day be day, To be the best of all his race: The trew Religioun syne imbrace; Fra vice to vertew tak the traine, His pepill weill in perfyte peace, And lang in helth with thame remaine. (V.129–34)

No doubt, the murder of Moray dramatically altered the political landscape: considered by the King’s supporters as the benefactor of Scotland, the ally of Protestantism, and the protector of James, Moray was mourned histrionically in Sempill’s broadsides, through dream vision, verse tragedy, exhortation, and complaint. In “The Kingis Complaint” (XIV), the young James appears in a familiar rhetorical frame: the poet overhears “With hauie hart, on Snadoun Hill [in Stirling]/Ane young King … schoutand schill;/With reuthfull rair,” and then dutifully records the lament (1–3). This poem recycles the psalmic refrain used after the murder of Darnley, “Judge and revenge my cause, o Lord,” putting the plea for vengeance once again into the babe’s mouth but this time on behalf of his slain uncle. The infant recounts the sordid history of recent years—Darnley’s murder, Mary’s shame, and threats to his own life: Than, Father slaine, Mother was schent [shamed]; My Gudschir flemit Incontinent31;



My self to poysoun it was schorde [threatened]; Me to betray was summis Intent: Judge and Revenge my cause, O Lord. (21–5)

It was Moray who stepped in to become his “Faithfull friend,” he claims, leaving “Kyn, Freind, and wyfe” to protect the young king, suffering “daylie stryfe” and eventually losing his life (36–7). Keening for the loss of his uncle and regent, James calls Moray his buckler, sword, and shield. The poem concludes by closing its frame narrative with the babe roaring in anguish so that the poet-recorder joins in his cry, “Judge and Revenge his cause, O Lord.” The mourning of Moray continues in next poem in Cranstoun’s collection, “The Exhortatioun to all plesand thingis” (XV), which follows the general pattern I have noted: conventional complaint sliding into calls for punishment and revenge. This “Exhortatioun” begins in the pastoral mode, pleading for a universal enactment of the pathetic fallacy: Ye Montaines, murne [mourn]; ye valayis wepe; Ye clouds and Firmament; Ye fluids, dry vp; ye seyis so depe, Deploir our lait Regent! Ye greinis, grow gray; ye gowanis [daisies], dune [brown]; Ye hard rocks, ryve for sorrow; Ye Mariguildis, forbid the sune To oppin yow euerie morrow! (1–8)

Gradually, the poet moves from nullification—asking nature to darken, wither, grow quiet—to its opposite, inviting “Nettillis, thornie breiris, & rew” to take root in the place of once healthy vegetation (25), and, finally, instructing the Phoenix “not to reuiue again” and the pelican “to peirs our breistis, that we may seik/How to reuenge this wrang!” (47–8). The “Exhortatioun” concludes with a great deal of specificity and practical advice. Taunting the supporters of the Queen, the poet advises them to leave the burghs and return to their wives, before their money “growe[s] skant” (130). Theirs, he says, is “ane wyfis quarrel / … / As now ye may heir Maddie tell,/It is bot lytil gude worth” (133–6). It seems, for Sempill, that conventional complaint is difficult to sustain and usually serves as an entry point in the move towards more caustic calls for revenge or admonishment.



A telling piece of advice in “The Exhortatioun to all plesand thingis”— “that to your wyfis ye hant [repair to]” (132)—brings me, more explicitly, to the curious connection between women and this body of propaganda. I have argued above that the poems pulsate with the voices of Scotland. But arguably the most prominent voice in the poems is Maddie, wife of the kale market. Maddie appears in other Scottish texts as the anonymous source of rumour,32 and Sempill employs her as his persona throughout his poems. We learn in “Maddeis Proclamatioun” (XX) how she stays informed and spreads political news: sitting in her market stall, this “wyfe with sempill lyfe” eavesdrops on the political talk of the men who surround her. Then, before an audience of her fellow wives in the market, she writes out her “Proclamatioun,” enacting the spread of propaganda in both rumour and ballad. As Lyall reminds us, Maddie recalls the personae used by medieval satirists, peasant figures like Piers Plowman and John Upland (who, incidentally, makes an appearance in another poem, “Ane Exhortatioun derect to my Lord Regent” [VI]).33 But Maddie’s specific power derives from the paradox of her anonymity—the unknown source of rumour and, at precisely the same time, her reference to a Scottish citizen, a “sempill” person, angry about the current state of affairs. What I find most intriguing and suggestive about the presence of Maddie in this propaganda—along with her fellow wives in the market; poor Scotland grieving for her murdered “deir,” and Lady Scotland lamenting the state of the commons (XXXIII)—is the poet’s reminder in “The Exhortatioun to all plesand thingis” that this is ane wyfis quarrel. The early 1560s were plagued by scandal and tension in Scotland, but the precipitating factor for the broadside propaganda was the downfall of Mary Queen of Scots in spring 1567—the murder of Darnley, her hasty marriage to Bothwell, her deposition and imprisonment by her nobles, and the continued efforts by her supporters to put her back on the throne. This scandal and its aftershocks hinged on allegations of a faithless and murderous wife, as well as a politically inept queen. Although complicated by many factors, this historical moment was very much determined by contemporary attitudes about female nature, insofar as the success of Mary’s overthrow relied on antifeminist stereotypes of sexual misconduct and female frailty. Hence, the wyfis quarrel. And wives populate the satirical literature of this period to a very notable degree. Their voices are the ones enlisted for a variety of ends: to speak against Mary, to spread rumour, to lament war and lack of justice, or, in some cases, to serve also as the object of satire. That is, importantly, the use of women cuts in all different



directions. In “The Lamentatioun of Lady Scotland” (XXXIII), for example, the eponymous figure mourns the loss of her husband John the Commonweal, who has fled from her amidst civil strife.34 Tattered and exhausted, Lady Scotland surveys the state of her realm—a kirk still plagued by hypocrisy, commons oppressed by nobility, and burgesses greedy and deceitful. And yet she also describes a council of “cummers”— gossipy wives of Edinburgh merchants and lawyers—who provide lodging to “Pryde and Invy,” leaving “Falset and Dissait” to cavort with their husbands. It is, in effect, a domestic version of the peril that threatens Rex Humanitas and the commonweal and lays the basis for Lyndsay’s sweeping political diagnosis in Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis. Moreover, it seems to echo an antifeminist episode in Lyndsay’s Satyre, in which Lady Chastitie seeks lodging among the Temporalitie and craftsmen. Whereas the men are willing to give shelter to Chastitie—not to mention, mend her hose and shoes—their wives are not so charitable. Temporalitie warns: “But wist our wyfis that ye war heir,/Thay wald mak all this town on steir:/ Thairfoir we reid yow rin areir [advise you to retreat],/In dreid ye be miscaryit” (1284–7). Sure enough, the wives call Chastitie a harlot and “kow-­ clink” [courtesan], express their personal distaste for her, chase her off, and pledge solidarity to one another. In “The Dialogue of Twa Wyfeis,” an anonymous piece of propaganda from 1570—very likely, in my opinion, authored by Sempill—double-edged antifeminist satire soars to an even higher level. Two Edinburgh wives drinking ale in a tavern deliver scathing criticism of the queen’s supporters: these two canny cummers may be savvy political commentators, but they nevertheless remain untrustworthy women willing to trade one man for another.35 The narrative about market women or Edinburgh wives dabbling in political matters is part of a larger rhetorical project, in which Sempill and his fellow propagandists create the illusion of a popular movement—first against Mary, in the early years of the civil conflict, and later against the party that represents her interests. But equally interesting is the possibility that this political ruse reflects the presence of real women’s voices. Among the State Papers in the British Library, for example, in a manuscript collection that probably belonged to Alexander Hay, clerk of the Privy Council, are depositions taken two days after Darnley’s murder. Of three deponents, two women, Barbara Martine and Meg Crokat, who live near Blackfriar’s Wynd, testify to the presence of several men apparently fleeing after the commotion of Darnley’s murder. Barbara claims to have seen eleven men on the run, to whom she “cryit vponn” and “callit



tham traitours.” Meg confirms that she overheard Barbara “flitand [flyting]” with the suspicious men.36 Shortly thereafter, Sir William Drury, Queen Elizabeth’s border marshal, reports to Secretary William Cecil that, strolling through the market in Edinburgh, Queen Mary received an ambivalent greeting from a group of wives. From their market stalls, the women call aloud to the queen, “God save your Grace if you be ‘sakeles’ [innocent] of the King’s death.”37 Possible confirmation of this rumour appears in George Buchanan’s inflammatory Detectioun of the duinges of Marie Quene of Scottes (1571), an encounter that he cites as evidence of the people’s opinion against the queen.38 The conditional blessing of the women—“if you be innocent”—was, of course, meant to suggest to London the deterioration of Mary’s credibility in Edinburgh, but it also recalls Maddie sitting among the wives, demonstrating how common gossip can be put into political service. Finally, five months later, after Mary’s deposition in July 1567, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton reports to Elizabeth that popular opinion has turned against Mary, and claims that the common people, particularly the women, are “moost furyous and impudent against the queen.”39 Taken together, contemporary reports like this do imply some degree of female participation in the political scene, and, to an even greater extent, the satirical propaganda from the period showcases those voices for a variety of purposes, from testament to mourning to invective. It is difficult to say with any certainty, of course, but it does seem possible that this propaganda taps into some contemporary wave of female frustration with the political situation in Scotland, using their awareness and engagement strategically and turning subtly against them in antifeminist rhetorical moves. The final poem I want to discuss is unattributed and survives in one copy, in the holograph manuscript of Sir James Melville’s Memoirs.40 This piece is of the same moment as the Sempill poems, and Melville inserts the poem as an example of the contemporary propaganda—“some [writing] in proise and some in meter”—that appeared when “the parcialities wer sa gret, and the hail contre parturbit be the twa parties, that allegit them selues to feicht and flyt and stryue for the King and the Quen.”41 Like many other contemporary pieces, the poem is framed by the poet encountering a sorrowful figure—in this case, “Scotland, your kyndly mother”— who bids him to commit her lament to paper and to spread the word, just as other complaining figures request a poet-narrator to do. Unlike Sempill’s verse, however, this one sustains a tone of more conventional complaint, of genuine sadness, and manages to retain an even-handedness



not often seen elsewhere. The poem opens with the speaker locating himself in a tent, camped near to other men, presumably as part of a military garrison. He looks about him, sighs, and laments mankind’s inability to follow God’s law, to “keipis dew course” and “his nybour for to lowe”: though shaped in “Godis lyknes, what dois man that is gude?,” he asks. As his “nychtis watche” begins, he steps into the cold and hears a voice “making ane drery mean [moan].” When he enquires about her identity, this mourning figure calls herself “Scotland, your kyndly mother” and proceeds to put flesh on the sad state of affairs, describing how all levels of society have grown corrupt, greedy, and full of “worldly foul infection.” In a comparatively balanced description, she distributes blame widely: “Honour is tint [lost], athoritie is reft, The Quene retenit in captiuite; Promys is broken, obedience is left, Rebellion dryues away dewtie; Loue is ouerlaid with hypocresie, Treuth is fled, and I tyn patience,” (The wyf said weping) “to se sic variance.”

This voice recalls the one speaking in “The Lamentatioun of Lady Scotland,” in contrast to the tone of Sempill’s verse. Again, we have wife, one who seems genuinely weary of civil conflict, a mother who has lost patience with her children, who does not resort to the vitriol of other “sklanderous” knaves. Although she has called on God for aid, no man can “mak [her] redress”; the answer lies with repentance and obedience, but none seems forthcoming. Subjects owe loyalty to “princely powers … plantit in be God,/To mentean richt, till punis wrang and vice.” Only God, she asserts, can “tak accompt of princes for ther wrangis.” The wretchedness she sees around her—the hate and hurt and injustice— results in quarrels that trickle down to personal relationships: it is not just subjects and superiors, servants and masters at “variance,” nor simply the “gret fische” feeding on their inferiors, but also mother and son, husband and wife, at war with one another, “inclynit to do till vther hurt.” References to Mary’s captivity, to broken promises, and, obliquely, to the Pauline doctrine of obedience (Romans 13:1–7) would seem to indicate that this is a pro-Marian poem, written by someone who locates the source of Scotland’s distress in Mary’s deposition. This is a distinct possibility: the criticism does bend towards the failure of Scottish subjects to



display the duty and loyalty required of them by God, to render, that is, “Till Ceasar Ceasar’s.” And the poem is arguably gendered in other intriguing ways. As this “kyndly mother” Scotland continues to describe the deterioration of political and personal relationships, she turns to a disturbing set of images from legends associated with “a fische/Callit Murena”—the moray eel or lamprey—and from Pliny’s Naturalis Historia.42 The first example describes how the serpent (or viper), “amorous of a fische,” whistles out to the eel, who with “mery cheir” answers his call, the two of them, land and sea creature, copulating unnaturally. Although unnatural—demonstrably and theologically so in medieval bestiaries43—their coupling here at least occurs with “mery cheir” and mutual desire, whereas the Pliny example that follows is marked by intergenerational indifference and destruction. “Bot ye are lyker to vipers generation,” Scotland observes with sorrow, “Vndoing other without compassion.” When the female viper, “maist crewel and vnkynd,” bites the head off her mate, then she herself is devoured by “her awen cankred kitlins,” as they gnaw through her sides. And the cycle continues into the next generation, when those “cankred kitlins” are similarly “used in ther eild [age].” Like Edmund Spenser’s Errour and her ungrateful spawn in Book I of The Faerie Queene, this image invokes and violently undoes the power of the maternal bond. Tellingly, John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, Mary’s most ardent supporter, uses a similar image in his defence of her, imagining the young King James being used against his will to prey savagely upon his mother: “neyther wolde be [sic] bye yt so deare, nor come forthe to be a king so vnnaturallie, as the vipers enter into the worlde by eatinge and gnawinge owte the mothers wombe.”44 These vivid examples strongly suggest that Mary’s overthrow, replacing her with the infant King James, has been an action of intergenerational and politically aberrant violence, one in which the sufferings of the Queen and of “Scotland, your kyndly mother” are intimately connected and then dispersed to the people of Scotland. Widening the lens of her complaint again, Scotland confirms this, remarking sadly, that “The gretest wrak that may com in ane land,/ Is in it self to haue diuision.” The poem ends oddly, and, in fact, abruptly. The poet-narrator seeks more information from this lady Scotland: what makes men so “quarellous,” what “succes” might ensue from current affairs—and she instructs him to write the verse we are now reading. But in the last stanza, he asks, specifically, to know “be name,/Whom sche thocht chiefest cause of hir distress.” On the brink of answering this request, of naming the few who



“masit fiercely wholmes the whell/On me, them selfis, and on ther commoun weill,”45 the poem ends, and Melville returns to his narrative. Perhaps the courtier in Melville, even years after the fact, chooses to avoid naming names. Writing in 1603, at the time of James VI’s accession to the English throne, Melville well knew that the “parcialities” of the past could still provoke outrage. Even if this poem originates with Mary’s supporters and has its own particular bias, it does give us, of all the varieties of complaining women in Scottish propaganda, a “kyndly mother” who seems sincere, the least rhetorically and strategically constructed to use women’s voices in service to a specific political aim. Despite its inherent conservatism—it does not call for Mary’s restoration, after all—it presents images of violence, intended, I believe, to impress upon the poem’s audience the immense suffering associated with civil conflict and, perhaps, to reflect upon how humans could avoid handing misery down from one generation to the next. It also continues a pattern, which I hope has been demonstrated here, of using the voices of the disempowered—real and imaginary—to comment on political affairs. Smith et al. argue that complaint is “a crucial mode for the formation of the early modern political subject, in ways that privilege irresolution, dilation, and vulnerability rather than containment, control, and mastery.”46 The presence of female voices in the Scottish propaganda of this period may indeed be part of an elaborate ruse to advance a specific agenda, but their complaints, compelling as they are, may also inadvertently represent a tentative step towards real political engagement of the disempowered.

Notes 1. Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah C. E. Ross, “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 339. 2. Sempill’s work is most fully represented in James Cranstoun, ed., Satirical Poems of the Time of the Reformation (Scottish Text Society, 1891). Cranstoun’s poems will be noted by Roman numeral, with lines numbers cited parenthetically. I am currently preparing a new edition of this corpus, also for the Scottish Text Society. 3. About 22 satirical poems can be attributed to Sempill, and evidence suggests that he was patronized by Mary’s opponents. For a summary of his canon, see Priscilla Bawcutt, “A New Poem by Robert Sempill: A Warning to the Lordis,” Scottish Literary Review 1, no. 1 (2009): 17–49, especially 20. Jenny Wormald provides an excellent overview of the period in



Court, Kirk, and Community: Scotland, 1470–1625 (Edinburgh: Edward Arnold, 1981); and, more recently, see Jane A.  E. Dawson, Scotland Re-formed, 1488–1587 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007). 4. As Roderick Lyall has observed, Sempill employs “many of the devices of the medieval satirist, but to new purposes and through a new medium” (57). “Complaint, Satire and Invective in Middle Scots Literature,” in Church, Politics and Society: Scotland 1408–1929, ed. Norman Macdougall (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1983), 44–64. 5. Smith et  al.’s suggestion that the number of complaints in Elizabethan anthologies manages to create “a polyphony in which diverse speakers engage in conversations and appeals” also applies neatly to this corpus of Scottish propaganda (342). 6. Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1424–1707, ed. T.  Thomson and C.  Innes, 12 vols. (Edinburgh: Record Commission, 1814–75), 2:552. Such bill-posting for propagandistic purposes has its historical analogues. The 1534 “Affair of Placards” in France, in which Protestant placards and broadsheets denigrating the Mass were anonymously posted across the city of Paris, is one possibility. See Mark Greengrass, The French Reformation (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987), 24–7. An English example would be the political poems of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, written to shape or sway public opinion during the Wars of the Roses. See Rossell Hope Robbins, ed., Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959). A more recent and fascinating analysis of such bill-posting as a weapon of propaganda can be found in Wendy Scase, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272–1553 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), especially chapter 4. 7. The Hamiltons were aligned with the ousted Queen Mary and inveterate opponents of those who supported the infant King James. Useful for tracking allegiances during the civil war is Gordon Donaldson, All the Queen’s Men: Power and Politics in Mary Stewart’s Scotland (London: Batsford, 1983). Also see Ian B. Cowan, “The Marian Civil War, 1567–1573,” in Scotland and War AD 79–1918, ed. Norman Macdougall, 95–112 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1991). A valuable discussion of this period is Claire L.  Webb, The “Gude Regent?” A Diplomatic Perspective Upon the Earl of Moray, Mary, Queen of Scots and the Scottish Regency 1567–1570 (PhD diss., University of St. Andrews, 2008). 8. The best discussions of flyting as a Scottish genre are Priscilla Bawcutt, “The Art of Flyting,” Scottish Literary Journal 10, no. 2 (1983): 5–24; and Sally Mapstone, “Invective as Poetic: The Cultural Contexts of Polwarth and Montgomerie’s Flyting,” Scottish Literary Journal 26, no. 2 (1999): 18–40. 9. See Lyall, “Complaint, Satire and Invective,” 47. 10. Scase, op. cit.



11. As Emily Wingfield notes, even though medieval Scottish witnesses of Chaucer’s poetry are not bountiful, “verbal echoes and stylistic and thematic parallels” suggest strongly that Scottish poets knew his work (The Trojan Legend in Medieval Scottish Literature [Cambridge: D.S.  Brewer, 2014], 121). A striking example would be William Dunbar’s poem The Goldyn Targe: see Priscilla Bawcutt, “Introduction” to William Dunbar: Selected Poems (London and New  York: Longman, 1996), 5–7, and her notes to poem #47. Also see Gregory Kratzmann, Anglo-Scottish Literary Relations 1430–1550 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980); Douglas Gray, “Some Chaucerian Themes in Scottish Writers,” in Chaucer Traditions, ed. Ruth Morse and Barry Windeatt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 81–90; and A.  A. MacDonald, “Anglo-Scottish Literary Relations: Problems and Possibilities,” Studies in Scottish Literature 26 (1991): 172–84. 12. John Durkan and Anthony Ross provide two entries for Ovid’s Heroides, one owned by an unidentified John Brown and another by a David Guthrie. Early Scottish Libraries (Glasgow: John S.  Burns & Sons, 1961), 173 and 178. 13. To name only a few instances, George Bannatyne compiled his manuscript anthology of Scottish verse in the final years of Mary’s reign; Henry Charteris commissioned a new printing of Hary’s Wallace in 1570 and John Barbour’s Bruce the following year; and Lekpreuik himself reprinted Robert Henryson’s Morall Fabillis in 1570. See A.  A. MacDonald, “Scottish Poetry of the Reign of Mary Stewart,” in The European Sun, ed. Graham Caie, Roderick J.  Lyall, Sally Mapstone, and Kenneth Simpson (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2001), 58. 14. Joanna Martin, Kingship and Love in Scottish Poetry, 1424–1540 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 32. Her first chapter addresses The Quare of Jelusy at length. Anne McKim provides an earlier and useful overview of complaint in Scots: ‘“Makand hir mone’: Masculine Constructions of the Feminine Voice in Middle Scots Complaints,” Scotlands 2 (1994): 32–46. 15. Wingfield, The Trojan Legend, 142. Wingfield’s Chapter 4 is devoted to the interplay of Chaucer’s Criseyde and Henryson’s Cresseid. 16. The Poems of Robert Henryson, ed. Denton Fox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981). 17. Lyall, “Complaint, Satire and Invective,” 52. Lyall’s essay delineates the modes of complaint, satire, and invective in Middle Scots poetry, particularly in texts that address or allude to historical and political realities. Also see Tricia A.  McElroy and Nicole Meier, “Satire,” in The International Companion to Scottish Literature, ed. Nicola Royan (Glasgow: Association of Scottish Literary Studies, 2018), 200–16. McKim discusses Henryson’s fable “The Lion and the Mouse” as an instance of gendered complaint, 40–2.



18. See, for example, in Bawcutt’s edition of Dunbar, “As yung Awrora with cristall haile” (A Ballat of the Abbot of Tungland, #4), “The wardraipper of Venus boure” (#60), and “Apon the midsummer evin, merriest of nichtis” (The Tretis of the Twa Mariit Wemen and the Wedo, #3). 19. Bawcutt, Dunbar, #44. 20. Lyall, “Complaint, Satire and Invective,” 48–9. Poem #42  in Bawcutt’s edition. 21. Lyall, “Complaint, Satire and Invective,” 46. 22. Line citations from Sir David Lyndsay: Selected Poems, ed. Janet Hadley Williams (Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2000). 23. Boccaccio’s influence, likely through Lydgate, may be seen in a number of Sempill’s poems as well. See A. S. G. Edwards, “The Influence of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes c. 1440–1559: A Survey,” Mediaeval Studies 39 (1977): 424–39; and W.  H. E.  Sweet, “Lydgate Manuscripts and Prints in Late Medieval Scotland,” in The Anglo-Scottish Border and the Shaping of Identity, 1300–1600, ed. Mark P.  Bruce and Katherine H.  Terrell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 141–59. 24. The most accessible modern edition, with an excellent introduction, is Roderick Lyall, ed., Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis (Edinburgh: Canongate Classics, 1989). 25. One other poet deserves to be mentioned in this context: Sir Richard Maitland. Maitland wrote a number of complaints about the fractiousness of the Scottish civil war and provides an interesting perspective on writers like Sempill. In “Aganis Sklanderous Tungis,” for example, Maitland criticizes “bissie branit bodies” who “bakbyt” and “misknaw their crafte” (Cranstoun XXXVII.1, 9) For other of Maitland’s complaints on the time, see The Maitland Quarto, ed. Joanna M.  Martin (Scottish Text Society, 2015), as well as Martin’s chapter “The Border, England, and the English in Some Older Scots Lyric and Occasional Poems,” in The Anglo-Scottish Border and the Shaping of Identity, 1300–1600, ed. Mark P.  Bruce and Katherine H. Terrell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 87–102. 26. The Complaynt of Scotland, ed. A.  M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Scottish Text Society, 1979), xxix. Chartier’s text, which provides the framework and some contents for the Complaynt, dates from 1422, when the French suffered an analogous political situation after Agincourt. Another Scots contribution to the counter-campaign against the English is William Lamb’s Ane resonyng of ane Scottis and Inglis merchand (1549). Roger Mason addresses Somerset’s campaign and the Scottish response in Kingship and the Commonweal: Political Thought in Renaissance and Reformation Scotland (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1998), 251. For further discussion of the Complaynt, also see L. A. J. R. Houwen, “Cacophonous Catalogues: The Complaynt of Scotland and the ‘Monologue Recreative’,” The Journal of the Northern Renaissance 4 (2012). http://www.northernrenaissance.org/cacophonous-cataloguesthe-complaynt-of-scotland-and-the-monologue-recreative/



27. Amy Blakeway’s essay on the reaction to Moray’s murder is indispensable: “The Response to the Regent Moray’s Assassination,” The Scottish Historical Review 88.1 (April 2009): 9–33. 28. It is, of course, possible that the title of this broadside explicitly recalls the earlier Complaynt of Scotland. 29. For more on the legend of Fergus I and his descendants who ruled Scotland for seven centuries, see Mason, 43 and 46–7. 30. These drawings are housed in the National Archives, London, shelfmark MPF 1/366. For another discussion of the use of this phrase, see Jamie Reid Baxter, ‘“Judge and revenge my cause’: The Earl of Morton, Andro Blackhall, Robert Sempill, and the Fall of the House of Hamilton in 1579,” in Older Scots Literature, ed. Sally Mapstone (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2005), 467–92. 31. “My grandfather driven out incontinent,” referring to Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, father of Lord Darnley. 32. See, for example, Richard Bannatyne, Memorials of Transactions in Scotland, MDLXIX-MDLXXIII, ed. R.  Pitcairn (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1836), 27, where he cites “Madie” as the source of local rumour. 33. Lyall, “Complaint, Satire and Invective,” 57. 34. Addressed to John Erskine of Dun, this poem’s heading concludes with “P.R. his humbill Servant S.” It was printed by Lekpreuik in March 1572, and one copy survives in the National Library of Scotland (H.29.f28). I have not been able to determine the author of the poem, but its tone and style do not resemble Sempill’s. 35. For a fuller discussion of the Dialogue, see my “The Uses of Genre and Gender in ‘The Dialogue of the Twa Wyfeis’,” in Premodern Scotland: Literature and Governance, 1420–1587, ed. Joanna Martin and Emily Wingfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 198–210. In this essay, I discuss the likely influence of Dunbar’s Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo as well as his poem “Richt arely one Ask Wedinsday,” familiarly known as The Twa Cummaris. 36. British Library, Additional MS. 33531, art. 13. In “The Art of Flyting,” Bawcutt locates in town and church records evidence of real-world flyting, indicating that public quarrels were considered a social problem. She also cites lines from Montgomerie and Polwart’s Flyting that claim “madding wives” can “out-roare their men” (7–10). In addition, Dunbar’s poem criticizing the merchants of Edinburgh complains about the “cryis of carlingis [old women]” and “feusum [foul] flyttingis” in the streets (10–11, poem #42 in Bawcutt, Dunbar). More recently, for historical evidence of women’s flyting, see Elizabeth Ewan, ‘“Many Injurious Words’: Defamation and Gender in Late Medieval Scotland,” in History, Literature, and Music in Scotland, 700–1560, ed. R.  Andrew McDonald (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 163–86. Ewan has also written about women and physical violence, in “Disorderly Damsels? Women and



Interpersonal Violence in Pre-Reformation Scotland,” The Scottish Historical Review 89, no. 2 (October 2010): 153–71. Of course Barbara Martine’s calling out to men she believed were engaged in criminal behaviour is not quite the same as the incidents examined by Bawcutt and Ewan. 37. Calendar of State Papers, Foreign Series, Elizabeth, ed. Joseph Stevenson et al., 23 vols. (London: Longman, Roberts and Green, 1863–1950): years 1566–8, item 1199. 38. George Buchanan, Ane Detectioun of the duinges of Marie Quene of Scottes, n.p., n.d. (London: John Day, 1571), Niir. 39. Calendar of State Papers Relating to Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots, 1547–1603, ed. Joseph Bain et  al., 13 vols. (Edinburgh: H.  M. General Register House, 1898–1969): years 1563–9, item 560. 40. British Library, Additional MS. 37977. The poem is printed in the Bannatyne Club edition, Memoirs of His Own Life, ed. T.  Thomson (Edinburgh, 1827), 268–74. The poem’s lines are not numbered. 41. Memoirs of His Own Life, 268. 42. For evidence of Pliny in Scotland, see Durkan and Ross, Early Scottish Libraries. Noteworthy owners of the Naturalis Historia include John Leslie, Bishop of Ross; John Sinclair, Bishop of Brechin; and James Stewart, Earl of Moray. 43. Drawing from Pliny, medieval bestiaries describe the mating habits of the viper. See, for example, the Aberdeen Bestiary (abdn.ac.uk/bestiary, Special Collections, MS 24), fols. 67r–68r, which typically moralizes the natural world by warning of the dangers of lust, adultery, and female disobedience. The “mery cheir” with which the lamprey greets the viper in the Melville poem is absent from medieval bestiaries and is characterized only as eager lust. 44. A defence of the honour of the right highe, mightye and noble Princesse Marie Queene of Scotland [Rheims: John Foigny], 1569, Diiv. 45. The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (dsl.ac.uk) cites Melville’s Memoirs, elsewhere, for this phrase: “Bot a wyse king skattereth the wicked, and causeth the whell to wholme ouer them” (223). Its meaning is to roll the wheel over someone, to overwhelm and destroy. 46. Smith et al., “Complaint,” 339.


The Brief Ovidian Career of Isabella Whitney: From Heroidean to Tristian Complaint Lindsay Ann Reid

Since the publication of Lawrence Lipking’s The Life of the Poet and Richard Helgerson’s Self-Crowned Laureates in the early 1980s, “career criticism” has increasingly emerged as a distinct branch of literary scholarship.1 As Philip Hardie and Helen Moore define it, such criticism “takes as its starting point the totality of an author’s textual output and asks how that oeuvre as a whole shapes itself, both in its intratextual relationships (what kinds of beginnings, middles, and ends are traced in the pattern of an oeuvre), and in the claims it makes to reflect or mould extratextual conditions of production (whether located in the personal history of the author, or in the relationship of the author to political and cultural structures of power and authority).”2 Holistically attuned to “the intensely intertextual (or perhaps interauthorial) quality of literary careers” as well as meaningful aesthetic shifts within a single author’s corpus, career criticism’s concerns are often inseparable from those of classical reception

L. A. Reid (*) National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_5




studies.3 It is widely acknowledged, for example, that early modern English authors such as Edmund Spenser and John Milton may have self-­ consciously emulated the rota Virgiliana, while others like Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe are alternatively believed to have aligned their literary outputs with the Horatian or Ovidian cursus litterarum. To date, studies of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century authorial career trajectories—and the presumed classical paradigms for these careers—have been overwhelmingly gendered in orientation. Nearly two decades ago, a piece on “Renaissance Englishwomen and the Literary Career” by Susanne Woods, Margaret P.  Hannay, Elaine Beilin, and Anne Shaver began by asserting that “English Renaissance women writers were not Virgilians who styled their lives from low to high, Horatians who taught by delighting, [or] self-crowned laureates.”4 Woods et  al. instead proposed that, while historical women did sometimes “acknowledge or even celebrate their authorship,” they “seldom seemed conscious of constructing a career path” as such.5 More recently, Hardie and Moore have fleetingly raised, though failed to fully pursue, the related question of “whether and to what extent … classically sanctioned (and implicitly male) career models” are even “open to” or ever “embraced by women once they enter the world of public writing.”6 The brief yet decidedly Ovidian career of Isabella Whitney serves to challenge such assumptions about the general irrelevance of the classical cursus for historical women writers, however. Linda Gregerson’s assessment that Whitney “invented a public self and a mode of public speaking-on-the-page that England would not see again for nearly a hundred years” is typical of contemporary scholarship.7 In the ever-increasing body of work on this Elizabethan poet, her striking singularity is routinely emphasized. So too is her Ovidianism. Whitney is, after all, the only female author known to have written secular poetry for print publication in sixteenth-century England, and allusions to Ovid’s Roman works permeate her lyrics. Although scholars customarily locate Whitney’s poetry within the Ovidian, and specifically the Heroidean, complaint tradition, Patrick Cheney—whose own research career has been largely founded on early modern career criticism—is the only prior critic to have directly entertained the possibility that we might detect in her writings the “fragmentary … traces of a proto-laureate career” based on a classical authorial exemplar. To this effect, he has passingly observed that Whitney’s widely remarked “adoption of an Ovidian persona, especially as borrowed from the Heroides,” may indicate that this author envisaged for herself something of an “Ovidian career frame.”8



In this chapter I seek to reassess the character of Whitney’s Ovidianism in the two published works that can be definitively attributed to her, The Copy of a Letter of c. 1566–67 and A Sweet Nosgay of 1573.9 In so doing, I argue that analyses of Whitney’s Ovidiana remain all too narrowly focused on her intertextual engagements with the Heroides, especially considering that the earliest English translations of Ovid’s exilic writings began to appear in print in the years between the publication of The Copy of a Letter and A Sweet Nosgay. Furthermore, I aim to extend the scope of Cheney’s embryonic commentary on this female poet’s “Ovidian career frame.” Tracing the shifting contours of Whitney’s Ovidianism across her two printed anthologies, I suggest that the outlines of a self-consciously classical career trajectory—its stages demarcated by a subtle aesthetic shift from amatory lyrics to the “weeping verse” of exile—can be detected when The Copy of a Letter and A Sweet Nosgay are read contiguously.10 Put otherwise, I seek to illuminate an issue that has been absent in readings of Whitney’s oeuvre to date: the author’s symbolically calibrated turn from Heroidean to Tristian complaint.

The Ovidian Cursus in Mid-Tudor Thought Before launching into my main argument regarding Whitney’s neo-­ Ovidian career trajectory, I want to lay some preliminary foundations by examining, in general terms, how she and her sixteenth-century contemporaries likely understood the shape of Ovid’s anterior cursus. The rota Virgiliana’s tidy, three-stage generic climb from lowly pastoral to middling georgic to the dizzying heights of epic grandeur frequently features in scholarly discussions of authorial career paths. Trying to resolve Ovid’s diverse, often experimental outputs into a parallel schema based on the poet’s linear progression through ascending developmental or generic stages is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, however. In the most detailed existing account of the Ovidian cursus in early modern English thought, Cheney valiantly sought to demonstrate that Marlowe’s movement from amatory poetry to tragedy to epic was founded upon a highly sophisticated, generically sensitive understanding of Ovid’s.11 I would argue, however, that mid-Tudor conceptions of the Ovidian career model were often less conceptually complex—and less generically rigid— than Cheney’s well-known Marlovian account allows, and I here turn to four biographies of Ovid published in England during the late 1560s and early 1570s for further insight. Two of these appeared as paratexts in



Ovidian translations, Thomas Underdowne’s Ouid His Inuectiue against Ibis of 1569 and Thomas Churchyard’s Thre First Bookes of Ouids De Tristibus of 1572. The third takes the form of an entry in Thomas Cooper’s famed Thesaurus of 1565, while the fourth had previously circulated in numerous continental humanist editions of Ovid’s Latin works before being reproduced in John Kingston’s P. Ovidii Nasonis Opera of 1570. “The Preface to the Gentle Reader” at the start of Ouid His Inuectiue against Ibis contains the following account of the Roman poet’s life: He was a gentleman of a good house, borne at Sulmo, who rather to please hys father, then for any loue he bare thervnto, studyed the lawe. But after his decease, he returned to his olde study of Poetry againe, wherin he profyted so much, that excepte Virgill, I dare call him péerelesse. He was fiftie yeres in prosperitie, & good credyte with Augustus, but was afterward banyshed into Pontus, where he liued eyght yeres, and then dyed, & was buried in Dorbite, a Citie of Hellespont. The cause of his banishment is vncertayn, but most men thinke, & I am of that opinion also, that it was for vsing too familiarly Iulia, Augustus his daughter, who of hir selfe too much enclined to lasciuiousnes, was the more incensed therto by him, vnto who[m] he wrote many wanton Elegies [i.e. the Amores], vnder the name of Corinna.12

Readers of Underdowne’s Ibis are informed that, “after his banishment,” a former friend of Ovid’s “whispered lyes and vntrue tales into Augustus the Emperor his eares, therby to kepe him the longer in exile”; this “lyttle péece of Ouyd” penned by the exiled author is thus said to represent an invective that “hée wrote a gaynst [this] fayned friend.”13 Churchyard’s partial translation of the Tristia opens with similar scene-setting material. A short prefatory notice called “The Occasion of this Booke” explains: Of Ouidius Naso his banishmente, diuers occasions be supposed: but the commo[n] opinion and the most likely is, that Augustus Caesar the[n] Emperour, reading his bookes of the art of loue [i.e. the Ars Amatoria], misliked them so much that hee condemned Ouid to exile. After which time the said Ouid as well in his passage on the sea, as after arriued in the barbarous countryes, the rather to recouer the Emperours grace, wrote these Elegias, or lame[n]table verses [i.e. the Tristia], directing some to the Gods, some to Cæsar, some to his wyfe, some to his daughter, some to his frendes, some to his foes &c. And called this booke the booke of sorrowes: In latin, de tristibus.14



Crucially, both Underdowne and Churchyard single out Ovid’s banishment to Tomis on the Black Sea by none other than Augustus Caesar as the defining feature of his authorial career. Moreover, although these two sixteenth-century translators advance different theories for what led to Ovid’s exile, they cast his pre-exilic writings as predominantly amatory: whereas Underdowne repeats the oft-referenced but almost certainly spurious tale that “Corinna,” Ovid’s mistress in the Amores, was a pseudonym for Augustus’s own daughter Julia, Churchyard instead reports that it was the emperor’s dislike of the Ars Amatoria that resulted in Ovid’s forcible removal from Rome. It is worth noting, as well, that the source of Underdowne’s and Churchyard’s disagreement on this point can be traced to hints and ambiguities in Ovid’s own poetry. Famously, in Book 2 of the Tristia, the poet’s authorial persona claims “perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,/alterius facti culpa silena mihi”—or, as Churchyard would translate it, “Two faults there are that haue me slaine, error, and my verse./All other faults I thincke it good, that I do not reherse.”15 Ovid’s first-person writings thus invite readers to conjecture the identity of his offensive carmen, and, as Jennifer Ingleheart observes, establish the nature of his biographical error “as a topic for speculation and voyeuristic interest.”16 If we turn to the “Ouidius” entry in the “Dictionarium Historicum & Poëticum” of proper names that concludes Cooper’s Thesaurus, we find remarkably similar material. In full, this entry reads: Ouidius, surnamed Naso, Borne in Sulmo, brought vp in Rome, and dylygentlye instructed in latyne letters from his tender age, he gaue most dylygente studye to the makynge of verses, from the whiche he was withdrawen by his father, and put to learne Rhetorike, wherin a while he muche profyted, and was in the number of the best oratours of that tyme, and was aduaunced to sundrye authorities, and made a Senatour. Not withstandynge he chiefely dedicated himselfe to poetrie, wherein by nature he was excellent in facilitie and abundance of sentences. He was in good fauour with the emperour Augustus, of whom at the laste he was exiled into Pontus, where he spente the reste of his lyfe in a towne called Tomos, among people moste barbarous, who not withstandynge lamented his death, for his courtesie and gentle maners. The cause of his exile is vncertaine, sauynge some suppose it was for abusynge Iulia, daughter of the emperour Augustus, although the pretence of the emperour was for the makynge of the booke of the crafte of loue [i.e. Ars Amatoria], whereby yonge myndes myght be styrred to



wantonnes. He lyued at the tyme when Christ our sauiour was conuersaunt with vs here on earth.17

The much lengthier Latin-language “Ovidii Nasonis vita” that prefaces Kingston’s P. Ovidii Nasonis Opera shares with all three of the above biographies an emphasis on Ovid’s exile as the most significant event in his literary career; it also repeats rumours that the salacious content of the Ars Amatoria and/or an ill-advised love affair with Julia—as supposedly documented in the Amores—may have precipitated his mysterious banishment.18 Saliently, though the vita aims to identify all works associated with this Roman author (even non-extant, unfinished, and pieces judged too “ridicula” [ridiculous] to reasonably ascribe to the “diuino Nasonis ingenio” [divine genius of Ovid]), relatively little attention is paid to issues of chronology within the Ovidian corpus.19 While mention is made that Ovid wrote the Heroides, Amores, Ars Amatoria, and Remedia Amoris “ante exilium” (before exile), this vita observes that his epic-length Metamorphoses was unfinished when he reached this crucial juncture in his career, and the poet is said to have continued producing poetry in multiple veins following his banishment: this includes his Fasti, De Piscibus, and a work in the Getic tongue, as well as his exilic writings the Tristia, Ibis, and Expistulae ex Ponto.20 Notably, no attempt is made in this vita to retrospectively organize Ovid’s oeuvre into progressive stages à la the rota Virgiliana. Taken collectively, then, these four biographies suggest that most audiences of Whitney’s era would have understood Ovid’s authorial cursus as loosely bipartite. That is, it was divisible into the broad categories of pre- and post-exilic texts, with the Roman poet’s early works being chiefly amatory in nature and the latter part of his career definitively shaped by the author’s cryptic, speculation-inducing error and his consequent removal from Rome.

Whitney’s Life and Works Very few details about Whitney’s life can be established with certainty. She is known to have been one of the many sisters of Geoffrey Whitney, a figure who would eventually rise to prominence as the author of A Choice of Emblemes in 1586. Although it seems reasonable to surmise that Whitney was London-based when she produced her two volumes of poetry in the late 1560s and early 1570s, her relatively middle-class family had substantial Cheshire connections. As Averill Lukic has shown, local records affirm



that the poet was residing at her family’s home in Ryles Green in 1576. In July of that year, her father was both “excused from manorial jury service and fined a total of 20 shillings because his two unmarried daughters Isabella and Dorothea [were] each with child,” and Whitney’s own daughter Elinor (fathered by one John Lovekin) was baptized roughly two months later.21 It is possible that at some point between 1576 and 1600, when her brother Geoffrey composed his will, Whitney married a man by the name of Evans or Eldershae, making her either the “sister Evans” or “sister Eldershae” that he references therein.22 Beyond this, nothing certain is known of the author’s biography, except that she was apparently still alive in 1624, at which date her brother Brooke mentioned his “sister Isabell” in another legal document.23 What are often passed off as further “facts” about Whitney’s life derive from her anthologies of first-person poetry and the highly characterized female personae she adopts in these texts. Observing that “[c]ritics have granted an authenticity to earlier women poets that they have infrequently conceded to men who ventriloquized female voices,” M. L. Stapleton submits that “[p]robably no early modern poet of either sex has been credited with quite as much genuineness as Whitney.”24 Bolstered by the fact that many of the addressees named throughout her works appear to correspond to the historical poet’s known associates (e.g. “her Brother. G.  W.”= Geoffrey Whitney, “her Brother. B. W.” = Brooke Whitney, “her Sister Misteris A. B.” = Anne Baron née Whitney, and so on), scholars have often been inclined to categorize Whitney’s verse as autobiographical—a tendency palpably evinced in both Elizabeth Heale’s Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse of 2003 and Meredith Anne Skura’s Tudor Autobiography of 2008.25 Most recent Whitney criticism has rightly shied away from a simplistic elision of the female speakers in her lyrics with the historical author, yet it is clear that Whitney—along with her printer-publisher Richard Jones, who provocatively sought to market The Copy of a Letter as a work both “fained” and “true”—was attuned to and habitually exploited what Heale has termed “[t]he autobiographical potential of first-person verse.”26 In so doing, she would have found models not only in the auto-miscellanies being produced by her male counterparts in the wake of Richard Tottel’s influential Songes and Sonettes of 1557, but also in the ancient poetry of Ovid. Ovid is, after all, a classical poet who deserves “to be singled out as a major influence on career autography” and whose own cursus was



bookended by experimentation “with first-person genres that test the relationship between literature and life in various ways.”27 Often confounded by what has been called Whitney’s “studied mischaracterization of herself as a ‘simple soule’” in both The Copy of a Letter and A Sweet Nosgay, readers have been divided on how to interpret the disenfranchised authorial personae that she crafts for herself within these works.28 Given that, as Crystal Bartolovich puts it, Whitney regularly “positions herself as emphatically nonelite, if not exactly typical,” scholars have sometimes speculated that her choice of “a poor, female persona incurs certain problems of poetic authority” or perplexedly remarked that “[i]f Whitney wished to establish herself as a credible poet worthy of remuneration, her choice of persona—as a single woman of the lower orders—seems counterproductive indeed.”29 I would alternatively argue, along with readers such as Allison Johnson, that Whitney, in fact, uses her supposed biographical suffering to “authorize her poetic project” across her two volumes of poetry.30 In what follows, I press this line of reasoning further by positing that her poetic authority and credibility, in fact, largely derive from Whitney’s alignment of her public-facing literary personae with a shifting series of Ovidian authorial precedents. This includes both the Heroidean model of the romantically abandoned woman writer invoked in The Copy of a Letter and the conceptually related yet distinct Tristian model of the poetic plainant-in-exile that Whitney alternatively assumes in A Sweet Nosgay.

Whitney’s Heroidean Engagements In contemporary scholarship, it has become de rigueur to refer to Whitney’s autobiographical-sounding poems in The Copy of a Letter as Ovidian and, more particularly, Heroidean. The Copy of a Letter, which may well have been composed while Whitney was still a teenager, is essentially a short anthology containing an address from “The Printer to the Reader” and four verse missives. While the collection’s first two epistles, “To her Vnconstant Louer” and “The Admonition by the Auctor,” are written from the perspective of a forsaken woman and credited to Whitney (as “Is. W.”/“I. W.”), the third and fourth epistles are male-voiced and alternatively attributed to “W. G.” and “R. W.”/“R. Witch.”31 Not only do the letters within this collection replicate the first-person epistolary format of the poems in Ovid’s Heroides, but Whitney’s opening piece also seems to “reproduc[e] the pleading of Ovid’s abandoned mistresses” for



which this Roman work is best remembered.32 “To her Vnconstant Louer” is, as its title would suggest, purportedly written to the female epistoler’s one-time beau, who has left her to marry another.33 In this letter, Whitney’s authorial persona pointedly identifies herself as “as true a Love,/as dwelt in any Coast,” and—lest the Ovidian resonances of this statement be lost on her audience—she buttresses our sense of her own affiliation with the fictive female authors of Ovid’s Heroides via frequent allusions to their tales of abandonment by seafaring heroes.34 Amongst other classical references, we are reminded of Aeneas’s legendary desertion of Dido (recounted in Heroides 7), Theseus’s desertion of Ariadne (recounted in Heroides 10), and Jason’s serial desertions of both Hypsipyle and Medea (recounted in Heroides 6 and Heroides 12). “The Admonition by the Auctor,” Whitney’s second piece in The Copy of a Letter (nominally addressed to other young women that “good aduice do lacke” rather than a duplicitous male abandoner), continues to mimic the epistolary format of the Heroides and is copiously garnished with mythological allusions.35 Here, though, Whitney’s epistoler mingles Heroidean poetics with references to the mock didactic amatory poetry of Ovid’s early career. “[S]hift[ing] the voices of Ovid’s solitary heroines into the speaking position of a marriage counselor,” she makes a direct and disparaging reference to “Ouid[’s] … Arte of loue.”36 It has been said of Whitney that she therefore “attacks erotic Ovidian literature” by “develop[ing] a contrast between the virtuous advice that she bestows upon her female readers and the deceptive tricks that Ovid teaches to his male readers” in the Ars Amatoria, and that her authorial persona “demonstrate[s] a sort of female hermeneutics that will allow women to be the best possible readers of unreliable men and the literary texts that help create them.”37 Rather than simply castigating Ovidian erotodidactics, however, Whitney’s epistoler in “The Admonition by the Auctor” recognizably takes on and modifies for her own purposes the Ovidian role of “praeceptor amoris” (Love’s teacher), replicating, albeit in an overtly Heroidean form, something of the Roman poet’s own authorial posture even as she challenges the misogynistic messages of his amatory work.38 Roughly a half a dozen years after The Copy of a Letter seems to have first appeared, Whitney’s printer-publisher Jones published a significantly longer anthology of her poetry, A Sweet Nosgay. This collection contains a variety of prefatory materials, including a dedication to George Mainwaring, an address from “The Auctor to the Reader,” and a commendatory paean by Thomas Berry (a figure variously identified throughout the volume as



“T.  B.”/“Tho. Bir.”). The remainder of this auto-miscellany falls into three main sections: a selection of 110 Senecan sententiae in fourteener couplets (based on prose models from Hugh Plat’s 1572 The Floures of Philosophie); an array of “Certain Familier Epistles and Friendly Letters by the Auctor: With Replies”; and, finally, a mock “Wyll and Testament.” It is, no doubt, because Whitney’s earlier Copy of a Letter is so unambiguously Heroides-like in form and content that literary critics have often sought further connections between A Sweet Nosgay and this same Ovidian pretext. Patricia Phillippy, for instance, submits that the “Wyll and Testament” that concludes A Sweet Nosgay “cast[s] the city [of London] as a faithless erotic partner modeled on those of Ovid’s Heroides.”39 Arguing that “Whitney’s persona shares the mode of complaint … common to Ovid’s heroines,” Phillippy claims that the Elizabethan author “reformulates that inconstancy” of male lovers so frequently reiterated in Ovid’s Heroides into “an economic betrayal.”40 To similar effect, both Wendy Wall and Paul Gleed concur that Whitney “rewrites the role of abandoned lover into that of evicted citizen” in the “Wyll and Testament,” with London itself figuring as “the last and greatest in a sequence of cruel male lovers.”41 Others emphasize related continuities between the Heroides’ rhetoric of abandonment and the tenor of A Sweet Nosgay’s “Familier Epistles,” wherein “[m]ost of Whitney’s letters to and from male friends take the form of complaints” and we are given the “impression that the medium of exchange ultimately cannot mitigate Whitney’s situation.”42 An especially good case has been made for the Heroidean quality of the letters written on “Paper weake” by Whitney’s authorial persona to her siblings.43 These missives showcase the inscribed author’s “estrangement from her immediate family[,] … none of [whom] writes back, despite Whitney’s evident longing to hear from them.”44 “Cannot I once from you heare,” Whitney’s persona beseeches her “owne good brother” Geoffrey, informing him it “would [her] hart delight” to “se [him] oft” or “answers haue” of him.45 In a subsequent letter to her brother Brooke, the maudlin epistoler similarly indicates that she “often looke[s]/to heare of [his] returne” and frets that she does not know “if [he] be well/nor where [he] do[es] soiurne.”46 In discussing these missives, Raphael Lyne, for example, sees the “Heroides pattern” being “transposed onto quotidian concern[s],” with Whitney’s epistolary persona employing “a classic Heroides tone … to articulate a mundane (though acute) rather than legendary anxiety.”47



Whitney’s Tristian Turn It is impossible to determine whether or not Whitney envisioned herself embarking upon an Ovidian career path when she first penned the amatory epistles “To her Vnconstant Louer” and “The Admonition by the Auctor” in The Copy of a Letter. However, Whitney (who was demonstrably conversant in modish humanist registers and had, as she unequivocally reminds her audience, read enough Virgil, Ovid, and Mantuan to have grown “wery” of them) is textually constructed as a poet following just such a classically resonant cursus in A Sweet Nosgay.48 Notably, this collection is paratextually presented to its readers as Whitney’s “second worke”: it is so called by Whitney’s literary advocate Berry, who also pointedly associates her with the traditional “Laurell greene” of poetic accomplishment.49 Berry’s prefatory remarks in “T.  B. in Commendation of the Author” highlight those matters of authorial chronology so fundamental to career criticism, for he expressly places A Sweet Nosgay in relation to The Copy of a Letter and intimates that Whitney thoughtfully plotted the sequence of her publications. Significantly, this succession of outputs was projected to also include what is alternatively described throughout the volume as a “dayntier thing” or “longer worke” that unfortunately never appears to have come to fruition.50 I would, moreover, echo Stapleton’s comments about the repeated representation of Whitney’s persona as an auctor (however socially disempowered or isolated) in both The Copy of a Letter and A Sweet Nosgay. Stapleton writes that, in “reconfiguring the traditional maleness of the key term [auctor] and extend[ing] its honors to herself,” Whitney drew upon and strategically redefined a form of established—or, as Hardie and Moore would put it, “classically sanctioned (and implicitly male)”—literary authority.51 “[L]ike so many men before her,” this female poet, aided by her literary advocates and publisher Jones, thus crafted an authorial persona and a neo-Ovidian career arc for herself that tactically appropriates “the customs of pseudo-antiquity.”52 When Whitney composed her “second worke” she sought to aesthetically distinguish it from her first in a variety of ways. Perhaps most obviously, while the social bonds of friendship, employment/patronage, and kinship are all important, recurring concerns throughout A Sweet Nosgay, Whitney’s sophomore anthology pays little heed to the sorts of romantic, amatory relationships that were so central to The Copy of a Letter. Moreover, although epistolary exchanges continue to feature prominently in A Sweet Nosgay, I would submit that the collection’s female-voiced



complaint poetry is far less straightforwardly Heroidean than has often been assumed. In support of this position, we might consider the taxonomical lines that Whitney herself draws between her present and past uses of Ovid in “A Careful Complaynt by the Vnfortunate Auctor,” one of the thirteen pieces in the “Familier Epistles” section of A Sweet Nosgay. In their attempts to accentuate the Heroidean character of this volume, twentieth- and twenty-first-century readers have sometimes honed in on the Dido allusions in this verse letter. Positing thematic connections between this poem and Whitney’s earlier pieces in The Copy of a Letter, Lyne, for instance, classifies “A Careful Complaynt” as one of Whitney’s “numerous citations of Heroides material,” and Cheney argues that it “associates [Whitney] with an Ovidian persona” in such a manner that readers are encouraged to detect conceptual links between A Sweet Nosgay and her “first volume of poetry …, which is more formally modeled on the Heroides.”53 What readings such as Lyne’s or Cheney’s tend to downplay, however, is the extent to which Whitney’s return to the subject of Heroides 7 in “A Careful Complaynt” signals not so much a continuity as a shift in the character of her Ovidianism. Whereas Whitney’s persona had earlier equated her own alleged love tragedy with Dido’s in The Copy of a Letter, something markedly different occurs in A Sweet Nosgay. In “A Careful Complaynt,” the Carthaginian queen is instructed to “stint [her] teares/and sorrowes all resigne.”54 Whitney’s speaker in this poem grants that Dido was hard done by in love by one who “fowly brake his oth,” yet she is insistent that she now has “greater cause of griefe” than the legendary author of Heroides 7.55 As Johnson summarizes, Whitney essentially “rewrites her classical source by replacing Ovid’s suicidal Dido with a woman who will eventually recover from Aeneas’ infidelity.”56 Whitney alleges that “in tyme,” had Dido been longer lived, Aeneas’s “absence might well [have] salue[d] the sore,/that earst his presence wrought.”57 The implication is that Whitney’s own “endles griefes,” as represented throughout A Sweet Nosgay, are far more serious in nature than mere amatory betrayal.58 I am in full agreement with Laurie Ellinghausen’s assessment that Whitney’s text fosters “the impression that … conventional literary tropes … for female suffering insufficiently represent her experience,” and I would propose that she achieves this via competitive reference to Ovid’s Heroides.59 Indeed, Whitney’s claims to overgo rather than replicate Dido’s pain indicate that she is also, by extension, conceptually distancing the Ovidianism of A Sweet Nosgay from that of The Copy of a Letter. In so doing, she



retrospectively trivializes the pains of unrequited love that featured so centrally in her first work. This is a classic example of one of those self-­ conscious aesthetic shifts so often discussed in career criticism, for Whitney signals to her readers that she has moved on from The Copy of a Letter’s Heroidean imitation and erotodidacticism to a new—and purportedly more deeply sorrowful—form of Ovidian complaint. That Whitney was responsive to the latest trends in mid-Tudor literary culture is evident throughout her oeuvre. Bearing this in mind, I want to suggest that the novel form of Ovidianism that runs throughout A Sweet Nosgay derives not so much from the Heroides, as prior scholarship has so often argued, as it does from Ovid’s exile poetry, which was just then coming into vogue. To wit, English translations of both the Ibis and the Tristia—pseudo-autobiographical works that Ovid famously composed from the far edges of the Roman Empire at the end of his own career— were first published in the years just prior to A Sweet Nosgay. While it is a text little discussed in contemporary scholarship, Ovid’s Ibis (a curse poem directed at a pseudonymous enemy) was, as previously mentioned, translated by Underdowne in a heavily annotated edition of 1569. Underdowne’s Ouid His Inuectiue against Ibis proved vendible enough to warrant reprinting at least once in 1577. As Ingleheart speculates, this work no doubt “played a prominent role in receptions of the figure of the exiled Ovid” in this period.60 The Tristia, which was partially translated by Churchyard and published as The Thre First Bookes of Ouids De Tristibus in 1572, 1578, and 1580, has received considerably more attention as a literary model for the “fashioning of exilic, predominantly masculine, subjectivities” in the Elizabethan era.61 It has been claimed that Ovid’s poetry “is unique in ancient literature for the sheer number and quasi-systematic regularity of [its] autobiographic situations” and that, in particular, his “exilic poetry seems to give his readers direct, unmediated access to his experiences and thoughts.”62 It is little wonder, then, that Ovidian exile was hailed widely as “a master-trope that could be used to express all forms of … dissatisfaction” in the late sixteenth century: it provided “an important cultural paradigm for … authors who … found themselves subject to exile or similar experiences,” including “alienation within a community that fails to recognize or reward one’s presence or labours.”63



Exile and Error in A Sweet Nosgay It seems likely that, in crafting A Sweet Nosgay, Whitney was consciously drawing on the trope of the writerly Ovidian poet who was likewise “loth … to leaue [his] countrye” yet found himself in exile with neither “frendes and dere alyes” nor “wealth to serue [his] neede[s]” in the latter part of his career.64 Consider, for instance, the final section of A Sweet Nosgay, where we are told that, “though loth to leaue the Citie” of London, the Elizabethan auctor is nevertheless “constrained to depart.”65 “It is,” as Helen Wilcox pertinently discerns, “from this perspective of looking back on the city, in actual or imaginary exile from it, that Whitney constructs a remarkable early modern cityscape” in the collection’s concluding “Wyll and Testament.”66 This final portrait that Whitney (whose persona has only her “bookes and Pen” to sustain herself) offers of her alienation and forced banishment from London is intrinsically related— and, indeed, relies upon—what has been called the “carefully calibrate[d] … marginalized and disenfranchised poetic voice” that she cultivates throughout earlier sections of the work.67 Socially, this “louyng … Sister,” “poore Kinsewoman,” and “vnfortunate Friend” is “all sole alone,” spatially disconnected from her own family members and lacking “a Husband, or a house.”68 She is also “servicelesse,” “very weake in Purse,” and suffering from ill health and “endlesse miserie.”69 Whitney’s authorial persona is, in short, depicted as a woman for whom “no lucke wyll byde,/nor happye chaunce befall.”70 Amongst many other Tristian resonances that we might detect in A Sweet Nosgay is Whitney’s self-presentation as a “lucklesse” victim of fate who has fallen out “of Fortunes fauour.”71 This tangibly reprises Ovid’s persistent characterization of himself in the Tristia as a man to whom “fortune so vnfrendlye is” and his attendant literary explorations of how, as Matthew Woodcock puts it, “a reversal of fortune can be transformed into a self-promotional opportunity.”72 So too does Whitney’s representation of exile as a figurative form of death (which reaches its climax when the ailing and impecunious auctor “fayneth as she would die” in the volume’s final mock testament) appear to pick up on a similar equation found throughout the Tristia, wherein Ovid even goes so far as to compose an epitaph for himself (which he imagines inscribed in “letters great … / … on [his] Tombe” to be read by “passers by”).73 In fact, even the superficially “Heroidean” rhetoric and format of the “Familier Epistles” might be better classified as “Tristian” since the first-person pieces in Ovid’s



so-called booke of sorrowes likewise take the form of complaints addressed not only to Augustus Caesar, but also to a wide range of the poet’s friends (both current and former) and beloved family members. Arguably, the most remarkable of the many parallels that can be drawn between Ovid’s exile poetry and A Sweet Nosgay, however, is Whitney’s attribution of her own miserable state in her “second worke” to a mysterious, pseudo-Ovidian-sounding error. This idea recurs throughout the “Familier Epistles” that precede the ultimate, unwilling banishment of Whitney’s authorial persona from London in A Sweet Nosgay’s final pages. As previous critics have sometimes observed, Whitney “refers several times explicitly to a falling out with her lady of service.”74 In her letter “To her Brother G.  W.,” Whitney’s epistoler mentions “a vertuous Ladye” who formerly employed her; she may drop further tantalizing clues about the dissolution of this relationship in “To her Brother B.  W.,” wherein she obliquely promises to reveal something “more” of her situation—something that she dares not commit to writing—to Brooke “when [they] do speake” in person next.75 The early modern auctor’s letters to her sisters invite only further speculation about the nature of Whitney’s supposed error—an error that appears, like Ovid’s similarly opaque crime, to have a possible whiff of sexual impropriety about it. I am not the first reader to note that Whitney uses the provocative phrasing “I know you huswyfery intend/Though I to writing fall” in the missive addressed to her married sister Anne Baron as she compares their respective estates.76 Commenting on these lines, Lynette McGrath, for example, posits that the “fall” of Whitney’s persona may well “ha[ve] a sexual connotation uniquely applicable to women, as in the phrase ‘a fallen woman’.”77 Another epistle addressed by Whitney to “two of her younger Sisters seruinge in London” seems to contain additional hints of this nature.78 Existing scholarship has called attention to how “Whitney … emphasizes the heightened sexual vulnerability of women in service positions” in this letter, and it has stressed the preoccupation with “sexual risk” at “the center of the poem.”79 Even as the epistoler warns her “good sisters” to internally “exile out of [their] minde[s]” any and “All wanton toyes,” she also gestures towards the externalized dangers posed by male sexual predation.80 Ann Rosalind Jones suggests that Whitney’s allusions to the “many … / that would … soone infect” young women and to those who “would … / Procure [their] shame” evoke “the domestic discord caused by the seduction, impregnation, and firing of maidservants,” and I would further propose that her persona’s



sisterly words of admonition in this piece may be calculated to raise readers’ suspicions that Whitney’s own unspecified error is not unrelated to such matters.81 In Whitney’s didactic letter to her “younger Sisters seruinge in London,” elliptical references to maidservants’ precarious position in the social and sexual economy are closely intertwined with concerns about reputation and the destabilizing power of rumour. “[W]ords may hurt you” cautions Whitney’s all-too-experienced epistoler, and her specific instruction that her siblings should “listen to no lyes:/Nor credit euery fayned tale” intimates that her own loss of service may stem from verbal defamation à la those “whispered lyes and vntrue tales” that Underdowne claims the exiled Ovid was subjected to.82 Indeed, the role that vicious slander played in facilitating her purported downfall is seemingly confirmed later in the “Familier Epistles.” She complains to one C.  B., for instance, that he “know[s], how some [her] spite.”83 In C.  B.’s subsequent reply, he acknowledges that there are, indeed, “euell words” circulating that may have brought Whitney “to this woe”; he is, however, personally confident that her “enemies lye” and tries to reassure his correspondent that her other “Friends” who have similarly known her “of long,/Wil not regard [her] enemies tong.”84 The various “interactions with Augustus” that Ovid scripts throughout his canon of exile poetry have been identified as “an important part of the model that Ovid provide[d] to later authors,” and Whitney seems to have recognized and adapted the “dramatic appeal of a scenario in which the apparently powerless author addresses Rome’s sole ruler.”85 In A Sweet Nosgay, it is the early modern auctor’s lamentable exile from London that replaces Ovid’s banishment from the Roman metropolis and Whitney’s former employer who stands in for the antagonistic, god-like Augustus. What is more, the text of A Sweet Nosgay is itself framed as an “elaborate, indirect, … [and] hope[fully] pleasing message to [the] offended lady.”86 This idea finds its most explicit treatment in “To her Brother. G.W.,” where Whitney’s epistolary persona writes: Receaue of me and eke accept, a simple token heare: A smell of such a Nosegay as I do for present beare. Unto a vertuous Ladye, which tyll death I honour wyll:



The losse I had of seruice hers, I languish for it styll.87

Articulating the hope that her poetic work might function as a “simple token” or “present” affirming her enduring goodwill, Whitney conceptualizes her own composition of A Sweet Nosgay as a redemptive activity. As Louise Schleiner has previously argued, the future reception of this text by Whitney’s erstwhile mistress is optimistically figured by her authorial persona as a possible “way to get back her post.”88 Here, as well, we should detect a distinctly Tristian theme, for Ovid’s expatriate persona extensively develops the equivalent conceit that, once completed, the book of the Tristia will be able to circulate where he cannot. Even as he pens it, he imagines this work traveling “in [his] steede, [to] royall Rome” to convey its author’s “vnfrendlye fate” at large.89 To this effect, the Augustan poet memorably personifies and addresses the “selye booke” itself in the Tristia’s famed (and much-imitated) opening elegy: Some shall thou [my book] finde that will bewayle, me thus in exile sent, And reading thee wyth tricklinge teares, my carefull case lament. And in their muttringe mindes will wishe (lest wicked men may heare) That Cæsars yre once set a syde, from paynes I may be cleare.90

Such ideas about “poetic presence in place of physical absence” have been identified as “the quintessential feature of his poems from exile,” and Ovid directly anticipates Whitney—who likewise, as McGrath has phrased it, “works from the premise that writing may function as a compensation for presence”—in his expectation that a sympathetic future textual reception might help to mitigate the poet’s unspecified error.91

Conclusions Classicist Ellen Oliensis writes that, in the Tristia, Ovid investigates how “the pose of impotence may be more efficacious … than the pose of omnipotence,” and Woodcock has called attention to the analogous, if seemingly paradoxical, truism that “[a]ssuming the pose of the poet in exile could actually be a highly empowering move” for Ovid’s early modern successors, as well.92 Germane to my own broader argument is Woodcock’s related proposition: “even though its ostensible context is a departure or displacement, Ovid’s Tristia offered an alternative … model



of a text with which to signal one’s ‘arrival’ as an author” that stands in contrast to the best-known classical “template for launching a literary career,” the “programmatic Virgilian rota.”93 As my above readings of A Sweet Nosgay’s Tristian aesthetic would indicate, Whitney appears to have been sensitive to both of these points. By way of conclusion, it is worth asking why the contours of Whitney’s Ovidian career arc from amatory to exilic poetry have gone largely unremarked in contemporary scholarship. One obvious answer, of course, is her gender. The fact that she was a woman has, no doubt, facilitated the rich body of work relating the marginalized female personae that Whitney routinely activated in her writing to the ventriloquized voices of Ariadne, Medea, Hypsipyle, Dido, and others in Ovid’s Heroides. That said, I would suggest that scholarship’s ongoing fascination with the ways in which “the Heroides’ voluble female speakers, stylistic virtuosity, and range of narrative and emotional” registers “offered a site of possibility for women writers” of the early modern era has inadvertently served to limit the parameters of investigations into Whitney’s classical intertextuality.94 An overemphasis on her female voice and attendant Heroideanism has helped to eclipse Whitney’s equally potent self-affiliation with Ovid’s Tristian persona—a crucial interauthorial relationship that elucidates the aesthetic deviations between her first and second works. In considering the implications of this point, Spenser provides a useful male foil, for discussions of his classically inflected cursus often invoke Ovid’s exilic persona. Syrithe Pugh—who sees Spenser’s apparent Virgilian career as a “veil thrown over [his] provocative self-alignment with Ovid”—has argued, for example, that he deliberately affiliated himself with “the exiled Ovid, a figure of political alienation and punished speech” to announce his own “career of ideological independence and scrutiny of political power.”95 In a similar vein, Stapleton claims that Spenser’s poetry exhibits the same “interpenetrations between love, amatory poetry, and career building” modelled in Ovid’s final works.96 Perhaps, then, it is because the Tudor reception of Ovid’s exile poetry has been so closely aligned with the figure of Spenser and with what Liz Oakley-Brown pertinently identifies as “patriarchal discourse articulating spatial, cultural, and temporal dislocations” that the Tristian dimensions of Whitney’s poetry—and, indeed, her own brief Ovidian cursus—have remained virtually unexplored.97 More than this, prior critics’ failure to appreciate the nuances of Whitney’s tactical move from love plainant in The Copy of a Letter to exilic plainant in A Sweet Nosgay may also stem, more nebulously, from the



profound aesthetic congruence between Ovid’s early-career Heroidean and late-career Tristian elegies—or, as Ellen O’Gorman alternatively phrases it, “the similarity of terms with which both erotic and exilic writing [are] figured” in the Augustan author’s own canon.98 Ovidian scholars frequently remark upon the multitude of “suggestive links” between the male persona “of the exilic letters and the mythological heroines who act as internal authors of [the] Heroides.”99 It has been said, for example, that the “Tristia’s first-person complaints are … similar in structure and theme to [the] Heroides … , not least in the way they seek a form of rehabilitation through literary expression” and that the literary obsessions of his early career “reappear, though typically metamorphosed” in Ovid’s final writings from Tomis: that is, “the frustrated sexual desire of the erotic verse becomes the longing to return home and the disdainful mistress is replaced by the princeps” Augustus who ordered the poet’s expulsion and prevents his repatriation.100 Just as Ovid’s Heroidean poetry is “predicated upon the idea of absence, the severance of the relationships that connect the [writing] women to the world of their heroes” so too is his exilic poetry centrally concerned with the author’s absence from Rome, his severed interpersonal relationships, and his resultant grief.101 I wish to end, then, with the final observation that it may be not only this Elizabethan poet’s gender, but also the potency of Ovid’s own intracanonical recursivity that has helped to obscure for posterity the movement from Heroidean to Tristian complaint that informs Whitney’s subtle yet tangible Ovidian cursus.

Notes 1. See Lawrence Lipking, The Life of the Poet: Beginning and Ending Poetic Careers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981) and Richard Helgerson, Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton and the Literary System (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). 2. Philip Hardie and Helen Moore, “Literary Careers—Classical Models and their Receptions,” in Classical Literary Careers, ed. Philip Hardie and Helen Moore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 1. 3. Hardie and Moore, “Literary Careers,” 2. 4. Susanne Woods, Margaret P.  Hannay, Elaine Beilin, and Anne Shaver, “Renaissance Englishwomen and the Literary Career,” in European Literary Careers: The Author from Antiquity to the Renaissance, ed. Patrick Cheney and Frederick A. de Armas (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 302.



5. Woods et al., “Renaissance Englishwomen,” 303 (emphasis my own). 6. Hardie and Moore, “Literary Careers,” 9–10. 7. Linda Gregerson, “Life Among Others,” The Virginia Quarterly Review 83, no. 1 (2007): 208. 8. Patrick Cheney, Reading Sixteenth-Century Poetry (Chichester: Wiley-­ Blackwell, 2011), 240, 236, 239. Cheney again advances a similar argument about Whitney’s Ovidianism in “Literary Careers,” in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, Volume 2: 1558–1660, ed. Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 182. Cheney’s extensive work on career criticism also includes Spenser’s Famous Flight: A Renaissance Idea of a Literary Career (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993) and Marlowe’s Counterfeit Profession: Ovid, Spenser, Counter-Nationhood (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997). 9. As Whitney has ascended from obscurity to canonicity over the past four decades, there have been numerous speculative attempts to expand her oeuvre. This began with R.  J. Fehrenbach’s propositions that Whitney might have anonymously contributed a number of items to Richard Jones’s printed miscellanies A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions and A Handful of Pleasant Delights: “Isabella Whitney and the Popular Miscellanies of Richard Jones,” Cahiers Elisabéthains 19 (1981): 85–7 and “Isabella Whitney, Sir Hugh Plat, Geoffrey Whitney, and Sister Eldershae,” English Language Notes 21, no. 1 (1983): 7–11. Building upon this work, Lynette McGrath later postulated that “Whitney [may] have had a more or less regular place among a group of writers tapped by Jones to supply poems for his publications”: Subjectivity and Women’s Poetry in Early Modern England: “Why on the Ridge Should She Desire to Go?” (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 126. One of Fehrenbach’s suggestions was also championed by Randall Martin: “Isabella Whitney’s ‘Lamentation upon the death of William Gruffith’,” Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 1 (1997): n.p. More recently, Raphael Lyne has advanced the theory that a translation of Ovid’s Heroides 7 and corresponding “answeare thereunto” appended to F.  L.’s translation of the Remedia Amoris in 1600 might be Whitney’s work: “Writing Back to Ovid in the 1560s and 1570s,” Translation and Literature 13, no. 2 (2004): 155–64. Given the tentative nature of these attributions (and the fact that all of these poems are, unlike The Copy of a Letter and A Sweet Nosgay, relatively short, standalone pieces), I limit my own analysis in this essay to the two substantive volumes of poetry that Whitney is definitively known to have authored. 10. Thomas Churchyard, trans., The Thre First Bookes of Ouids De Tristibus (STC 18977a; London, 1572), sig. B2r.



11. See Cheney, Marlowe’s Counterfeit, 3–48. Cheney argues that the Ovidian career paradigm offered early modern authors at least two possible genrebased models: the trajectory from amatory poetry to tragedy to epic (that Ovid initially intended for himself, as outlined in the Amores) or the alternative trajectory from amatory poetry to epic to exile poetry (that the historical poet unexpectedly found himself following after his unanticipated banishment). Another attempt to define the Ovidian cursus can be found in Alessandro Barchiesi and Philip Hardie, “The Ovidian Career Model: Ovid, Gallus, Apuleius, Boccaccio,” in Classical Literary Careers, ed. Hardie and Moore, 59–88. 12. Thomas Underdowne, trans., Ouid His Inuectiue against Ibis (STC 18949; London, 1569), sig. A7r. 13. Underdowne, Ibis, sigs. A4r-A4v. 14. Churchyard, Tristibus, np. 15. Churchyard, Tristibus, sig. B6v. I cite the corresponding Latin text of the Tristia from Ovid, Tristia; Ex Ponto, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, trans. Arthur Leslie Wheeler, rev. G.  P. Goold (1924; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 2.207–8. 16. Jennifer Ingleheart, “Introduction: Two Thousand Years of Responses to Ovid’s Exile,” in Two Thousand Years of Solitude: Exile after Ovid, ed. Jennifer Ingleheart (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 4. 17. Thomas Cooper, “Ouidius,” in Thesaurus Linguae Romanae & Britannicae (STC 5686; London 1565). 18. Ovid, P. Ovidii Nasonis Opera (STC 18926.1; London, 1570), sigs. 4r-6r. 19. Ovid, P. Ovidii Nasonis Opera, sig. 8r. 20. Ovid, P. Ovidii Nasonis Opera, sigs. 6v-8r. 21. Averill Lukic, “Geffrey and Isabella Whitney,” Emblematica 14 (2005): 397. 22. This possibility was first suggested in Fehrenbach, “Isabella Whitney, Sir Hugh Plat.” Jessica L. Malay has pursued this line of enquiry further, in “Isabella Whitney, ‘Sister Eldershae,’ and Cheshire Recusancy,” English Language Notes 43, no. 2 (2005): 18–22. 23. Lukic, “Geffrey and Isabella,” 406. 24. M.  L. Stapleton, “Letters of Address, Letters of Exchange,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Oxford: Wiley-­ Blackwell, 2018), 367. 25. Isabella Whitney, A Sweet Nosgay (STC 25440; London, 1573), sigs. C6r, C7r, D1v; Elizabeth Heale, Autobiography and Authorship in Renaissance Verse: Chronicles of the Self (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 34–40; Meredith Anne Skura, Tudor Autobiography: Listening for Inwardness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 149–67. Along similar lines, see Jean E. Howard, “Textualizing an Urban Life: The Cases



of Isabella Whitney,” in Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, ed. Ronald Bedford, Lloyd Davis, and Philippa Kelly (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), 217–33. 26. Isabella Whitney, The Copy of a Letter (STC 25439; London, c. 1566–67), sig. A1v; Heale, Autobiography, 11. 27. Barchiesi and Hardie, “Ovidian Career Model,” 65, 64. 28. Stapleton, “Letters of Address,” 367. 29. Crystal Bartolovich, “‘Optimism of the Will’: Isabella Whitney and Utopia,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 39, no. 2 (2009): 414; Elaine V. Beilin, “Writing Public Poetry: Humanism and the Woman Writer,” Modern Language Quarterly 51, no. 2 (1990): 253; Laurie Ellinghausen, Labor and Writing in Early Modern England, 1557–1667 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 20. 30. Allison Johnson, “The ‘Single Lyfe’ of Isabella Whitney: Love, Friendship, and the Single Woman Writer,” in Discourses and Representations of Friendship in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1700, ed. Daniel T. Lochman, Maritere López, and Lorna Hutson (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 117. 31. Michelle O’Callaghan has persuasively argued that the single extant copy of The Copy of a Letter likely represents not the first but an expanded and revised later edition, for “[b]ibliographic evidence suggests a publishing history in which a single-authored collection [featuring the two letters attributed to Whitney] was subsequently turned into a little anthology of female and male complaints”: “‘My Printer must, haue somewhat to his share’: Isabella Whitney, Richard Jones, and Crafting Books,” Women’s Writing 26, no. 1 (2019): 18. That Whitney may have written the two male-voiced letters as well as the two female-voiced epistles ascribed to her in The Copy of a Letter is a possibility entertained by Maggie Ellen Ray, “‘The Simple Fool Doth Trust/Too Much before He Try’: Isabella Whitney’s Revision of the Female Reader and Lover in The Copy of a Letter,” Early Modern Women 6 (2011): 130, 141. 32. Ann Rosalind Jones, The Currency of Eros: Women’s Love Lyric in Europe, 1540–1620 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 47. 33. I borrow the useful term “epistoler” from William C.  Dowling, The Epistolary Moment: The Poetics of the Eighteenth-Century Verse Epistle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 12. 34. Whitney, Copy, sig. A2r. 35. Whitney, Copy, sig. A5v. 36. Jones, Currency of Eros, 43; Whitney, Copy, sig. A6r. 37. Johnson, “Single Lyfe,” 123; Ray, “Simple Fool,” 137–8 38. Ovid, Ars Amatoria, in The Art of Love and Other Poems, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, trans. J.  H. Mozley, rev. G.  P. Goold (1929; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 1.17.



39. Patricia Phillippy, “The Maid’s Lawful Liberty: Service, the Household, and ‘Mother B’ in Isabella Whitney’s A Sweet Nosgay,” Modern Philology 95, no. 4 (1998): 440. 40. Phillippy, “Maid’s Lawful Liberty,” 440. 41. Wendy Wall, The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 306; Paul Gleed, “‘I lov’de thee best’: London as Male Beloved in Isabella Whitney’s ‘The Manner of her Wyll’,” The London Journal 37, no. 1 (2012): 11. 42. Johnson, “Single Lyfe,” 127; Ellinghausen, Labor and Writing, 27. 43. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C7r. 44. Ellinghausen, Labor and Writing, 26. 45. Whitney, Nosgay, sigs. C6r–C6v. 46. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C7r. 47. Lyne, “Writing Back,” 158. 48. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. A5v. 49. Whitney, Nosgay, sigs. B1v, B1r. 50. Whitney, Nosgay, sigs. A5r, B1v. 51. Stapleton, “Letters of Address,” 368. 52. Stapleton, “Letters of Address,” 368. 53. Lyne, “Writing Back,” 158; Cheney, Reading Sixteenth-Century Poetry, 239. 54. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D3r. 55. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D3r. 56. Johnson, “Single Lyfe,” 123. 57. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D3v. 58. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D3v. 59. Ellinghausen, Labor and Writing, 27. 60. Ingleheart, “‘I shall be thy devoted foe’: The Exile of the Ovid of the Ibis in English Reception,” in Two Thousand Years, 120. 61. Liz Oakley-Brown, “Elizabethan Exile after Ovid: Thomas Churchyard’s Tristia (1572),” in Two Thousand Years, ed. Ingleheart, 103. 62. Barchiesi and Hardie, “Ovidian Career Model,” 59; Ingleheart, “Introduction,” 6. 63. Richard A. McCabe, Spenser’s Monstrous Regiment: Elizabethan Ireland and the Poetics of Difference (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 3; Ingleheart, “Introduction,” 10; Matthew Woodcock, Thomas Churchyard: Pen, Sword, Ego (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 159. 64. Churchyard, Tristibus, sigs. A3r, A4v. 65. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. E2r. 66. Helen Wilcox, “‘Ah Famous Citie’: Women, Writing, and Early Modern London,” Feminist Review 96 (2010): 22–3 (emphasis my own). 67. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D2r; Gleed, “I lov’de thee,” 2.



68. Whitney, Nosgay, sigs. C6v, C7r, D2r, D2v, D6v, A6r, D2r. 69. Whitney, Nosgay, sigs. A6v, E3r, D6r. 70. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C7r. 71. Whitney repeatedly describes herself as “lucklesse” throughout A Sweet Nosgay: sigs. A6r, C6v, D3r, D6r. For her claim to be out “of Fortunes fauour,” see sig. C6r. Elsewhere in the collection, Whitney’s persona blames “Fortune fell” for “conuert[ing]/[Her] health to heapes of payne” (sig. D3r), and her various correspondents in the “Familier Epistles” frequently echo this imagery of Whitney’s victimization by Fortune. 72. Churchyard, Tristibus, sig. A1v; Woodcock, Thomas Churchyard, 159. 73. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. E2r; Churchyard, Tristibus, sig. C4r. Intriguingly, in 1575 Churchyard published an autobiographical-sounding poem entitled “A Tragicall Discourse of the Vnhappy Mans Life,” which incorporates testamentary rhetoric reminiscent of Whitney’s “Wyll and Testament” in A Sweet Nosgay. Woodcock has previously gestured to a possible connection between these roughly contemporary pieces, and Churchyard’s status as translator of the Tristia invites speculation that he and Whitney were inspired in analogous ways by Ovid’s exilic writings: Thomas Churchyard, 276 n 33. 74. Louise Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 4. 75. Whitney, Nosgay, sigs. C6v, C7r. 76. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D2r. 77. McGrath, Subjectivity, 155–56. 78. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C7v. 79. Michelle M.  Dowd, Women’s Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). 33; Ann Rosalind Jones, “Maidservants of London: Sisterhoods of Kinship and Labor,” in Maids and Mistresses, Cousins and Queens, ed. Susan Frye and Karen Robertson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 25. 80. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C8r. 81. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C8r; Jones, “Maidservants,” 25. 82. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C8r. 83. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D6r. 84. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. D7r. 85. Ingleheart, “Introduction,” 15. 86. Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart, 5. 87. Whitney, Nosgay, sig. C6v. 88. Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart, 5. Whitney’s figuration of A Sweet Nosgay as gift at this juncture in the collection also echoes (albeit somewhat distortedly) a similar formulation found in her dedication to Mainwaring.



89. Churchyard, Tristibus, sigs. A1v, A1r. 90. Churchyard, Tristibus, sigs. A1v, A1r. 91. Matthew McGowan, Ovid in Exile: Power and Poetic Redress in the “Tristia” and “Epistulae ex Ponto” (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 3; McGrath, Subjectivity, 146. 92. Ellen Oliensis, “The Power of Image-Makers: Representation and Revenge in Ovid Metamorphoses 6 and Tristia 4,” Classical Antiquity 23, no. 2 (2004): 297; Woodcock, Thomas Churchyard, 159. 93. Woodcock, Thomas Churchyard, 160. 94. Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah C.  E. Ross, “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Bates, 340. 95. Syrithe Pugh, Spenser and Ovid (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 12, 4. 96. M.  L. Stapleton, Spenser’s Ovidian Poetics (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2009), 47. 97. Oakley-Brown, “Elizabethan Exile,” 103 (emphasis my own). 98. Ellen O’Gorman, “Love and the Family: Augustus and the Ovidian Legacy,” Arethusa 30, no. 1 (1997): 104. 99. Ingleheart, “Introduction,” 6. 100. Woodcock, Thomas Churchyard, 159; Maggie Kilgour, “New Spins on Old Rotas: Virgil, Ovid, Milton,” in Classical Literary Careers, ed. Hardie and Moore, 182. 101. Danielle Clarke, “Ovid’s Heroides, Drayton and the Articulation of the Feminine in the English Renaissance,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008): 392.


Seventeenth Century


Acts of Will: Countersovereignty and Complaining in The Tragedy of Mariam Emily Shortslef

Complaining Beyond Reason Elizabeth Cary’s closet drama The Tragedy of Mariam (1613) does not simply begin in complaint, a familiar rhetorical convention of neo-Senecan tragedy.1 Rather, the play opens with a vivid demonstration of the stubborn and irrational perversity epitomized by complaining, the conventional signifier in Stoic moral philosophy for impassioned, articulate resistance to the inexorable decrees of fate and to the rule of reason, which should square the complainer’s will with “the commandement of [that] eternall law.”2 In the midst of her joy at Herod’s rumoured execution by Caesar, and in spite of the good cause she has for such rejoicing—namely, Herod’s responsibility for the deaths of her grandfather and brother, and I am grateful to the editors, Ros Smith and Sarah Ross, for inviting me to contribute to this collection, and to Kathryn Schwarz and Linda Charnes for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this chapter. E. Shortslef (*) University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_6




his thwarted command that she be killed in the event of his demise— Mariam finds herself lamenting. She would prefer not to: Then why grieves Mariam Herod’s death to hear? Why joy I not the tongue no more shall speak That yielded forth my brother’s latest doom? … Might Herod’s life a trusty servant find, My death to his had been unseparate. These thoughts have power his death to make me bear: Nay, more, to wish the news may firmly hold. Yet cannot this repulse some falling tear That will against my will some grief unfold.3 (1.1.38–54)

The question Mariam asks herself—why does she grieve for Herod when she should only rejoice?—has similarly compelled critics of the play, who have argued that her conflicting passions underscore the contradictions that mark her subject position as the virtuous wife and political subject of a tyrant king whom Cary represents as her racial and moral inferior.4 From this perspective, the play’s opening complaint reveals what Karen Raber describes as the “abyss” of Mariam’s subjectivity (i.e., its lack of a stable and coherent authorizing ground), thereby exposing the instability of the intersecting ideological structures of gender, race, and absolutism on which Mariam’s identity depends.5 While I agree with this reading, in this chapter I want to re-open the critical problem unwittingly smoothed over by treating the contradictions of the complaint as simply an index of the contradictions of ideology. This problem is the challenge that Mariam’s complaining poses to the politically-­ charged ideal of constancy that she has long been said to embody, an ideal many readers locate at the heart of the play’s critique of tyranny as well as its dramatic articulation of forms of resistance.6 Diverging from these approaches to take my cue from Mariam’s complaint, I pursue the traces of inconstancy that haunt her character and align her with her putative antithesis Salome, in whom those traces come to the fore. In Mariam’s case, inconstancy manifests not as sexual incontinency but rather as the disposition described in Lipsius’s Of Constancy as a “mind wrongfully subjected to affections, and withdrawne from the naturall obedience of [its] lawful Ladie, I mean Reason.”7 I will argue that it is precisely those impulses and energies that do not conform to constancy’s mould of



rational self-sovereignty and resolute self-consistency that Cary imagines as an immanent source of resistance to absolutism. Just as these “affections” constitute unruly, rebellious forces within individual subjects that challenge reason’s rule, so the play shows those same energies to play a vital role in compelling those subjects’ resistance to Herod’s commands. The link between Mariam’s inability to seamlessly inhabit her subject position and her inability to govern her irrational impulses is in fact the theme of her complaint, whose dominant affect is her shame at neither behaving publicly nor feeling privately as she ought. The speech begins with her embarrassment at grieving for Herod at all, which contradicts her previous public expressions of contempt for people whose judgements shift as circumstances change, and it ends with her castigating herself for lamenting too “faintly” her “truest lover’s death” (1.1.65, 66). Mariam’s joy undoes her identity as a virtuous wife (“Ill doth a widowed eye with joy accord”), while her grief puts her outside the kinship bonds impressed upon her by her mother Alexandra, “that incensèd queen” who orders Mariam to “send those tears away that are not sent/To thee by reason, but by passion’s power” (1.1.70, 78; 1.2.73–74). While Cary may invite her readers to take a critical distance from her characters’ wholesale privileging of reason over passion (as William Hamlin suggests), the play nevertheless bears out the truth of Alexandra’s repeated claim that “with more than reason she laments” (1.3.9).8 This is signalled by the “falling tear” that Mariam says “will against my will some grief unfold” (1.1.53, 54). The phrase—which evokes the physical form of petitionary complaints addressed to magistrates, the plaintiff’s grievances hidden within the fold of the paper—points to a passion uncontained by Mariam’s will not to grieve.9 This tear cannot be “repulse[d]” by her “thoughts”—her recollection of Herod’s wrongs, her rational judgement that his death should be an object of joy (1.1.51). Mariam describes this passion that counters and overrules her would-be rational will, pushing her to complain, as an alien force: “some falling tear,” “some grief.” But I would suggest that the recalcitrant tear that falls despite Mariam’s will represents a tear in her will, an internal self-division that Cary foregrounds through the line’s internal repetition (“will against my will”). The breach in Mariam’s will that her complaint reveals measures her distance from the self-mastery integral to Stoic constancy, which Lipsius defines as “a right and immoveable strength of the minde, neither lifted up, nor pressed downe with externall or casuall accidentes … a stedfastnesse not from opinion, but from judgement and sound reason.”10 It isn’t



simply that Mariam shows herself vulnerable to the turbulence of passion, or that her ambivalence regarding Herod’s death (“one object yields both grief and joy” [1.1.10]) departs from the consistency that Seneca describes in his Epistles as “Alwaies to will one thing, and to nill the same” (or in Geoffrey Miles’s paraphrase, “always to will X and always to reject Y”).11 Rather, her complaint discloses how her desires, which ought to be shaped by and oriented towards what reason deems good, are determined instead by what she lacks. It is on this basis of restless desire that the Chorus draws an implicit parallel between Mariam and Salome, who wishes to be free of Constabarus, the husband she once wanted, to marry her new lover Silleus.12 Immediately following the scene in which Salome declares her intention to divorce Constabarus despite being legally barred from doing so, the Chorus appears and announces: Still Mariam wished she from her lord were free, For expectation of variety. Yet now she sees her wishes prosperous be, She grieves, because her lord so soon did die. Who can those vast imaginations feed Where in a property contempt doth breed? Were Herod now perchance to live again, She would again as much be grieved at that. All that she may, she ever doth disdain: Her wishes guide her to she knows not what. And sad must be their looks, their honour sour, That care for nothing being in their power. (1.6.143–54)

The Chorus suggests that rather than caring for the “inward good” it is in her power to attain, Mariam disdains what is available to her (“All that she may”) and longs for what is not (1.6.120, 151). Hence her unhappiness (“for no content attends a wavering mind”) and, more importantly, the “sour”—peevish, spoiled—quality of her honour (1.6.124). Readers of neo-Senecan tragedy know very well to take the sententiousness of a Chorus with a grain of salt, and yet the accuracy of this Chorus’s prediction lends a certain credence to its words: “I was an hypocrite,” Mariam laments again upon Herod’s return, “I did this morning for his death complain,/And yet do mourn, because he lives ere night” (3.3.34, 35–36). She too, then, is among the play’s cast of “Fond wretches, seeking what they cannot find” whose perpetual discontent the Chorus pities (1.6.123).



It is particularly apt that The Tragedy of Mariam uses a speech of complaint to introduce its thematic concern with the turbulence that ensues when humans find themselves propelled in directions determined only by the accidental fact that “their wishes that way bend,” for (as I noted above) complaining was characterized in Stoic moral philosophy as the rhetoric of recalcitrant resistance to fate (2.4.141, 144). In Of Constancy, for instance, Langius counsels patience to Lipsius, who grieves for the suffering of the Low Countries, by reminding him of the futility of complaining (“What wilt thou querulous complaint doe? … There is no other refuge from necessity, but to wish that, that she willeth”).13 Here we might recall Claudius’s rebuke to the plaintive Hamlet, whose refusal to be resigned to “what we know must be” demonstrates “a will most incorrect to heaven.”14 Complaints are foremost among the wilful utterances through which Mariam’s characters, particularly Mariam and Salome, challenge the scope of Herod’s sovereignty by at once pitting their wishes against his will and insisting on the limits of that will. To the extent that each woman’s wishes epitomize the wavering will that (in Lipsius’s words) is “ever at warre with it selfe,” the inconstant, divided will of the subject thus emerges in the play less as a moral problem than as a powerful counterforce to the totalizing will of the sovereign, as well as an emblem of what Cary depicts as the contested domain of sovereignty.15

Willing Beyond Bounds From the play’s Argument to its end, Herod’s will is the force against which everyone else struggles, operating until he appears in the flesh at the beginning of Act 4 as an undead avatar that provokes complaints and other wilful assertions, the consummate examples of which are Salome’s declaration to seek the bill of divorce from which she is barred (“My will shall be to me instead of law” [1.6.80]), and Mariam’s vowed renunciation of Herod’s bed (“I will not to his love be reconciled” [3.3.15]). To take some liberties with the phrase, then, I am arguing that the “will against my will” that Mariam bemoans in the play’s opening complaint is more than merely an expression of an internal drama: it announces the tragedy’s central agon, in which Herod’s subjects assert a certain freedom for their own wills against the bounds set by his. Exploiting the familiar analogy between the will’s disruptive force within the self and the disruptive force of wilfulness within structures of political and marital subjection, Cary turns to the notion of the irrational, excessive, and perverse will to



imagine how resistance to Herod’s sovereignty might erupt from within the domain he has claimed for himself. By sovereignty I mean what its sixteenth-century theorist Jean Bodin describes as “the greatest power to command”—a power that Herod holds only precariously and provisionally.16 From the beginning of the play Cary underscores that Herod’s authority is relative, subject to a higher Roman jurisdiction, for the tragedy’s premise, as explained in its Argument, is that he is in a spot of legal trouble, having been summoned by Caesar to answer Alexandra’s charges that he has murdered her father and son to secure his claim to the throne, after his unlikely and startling evasion of punishment for those same charges under Antony. But neither does this higher power ultimately diminish Herod’s, for like a bad dream, the same thing happens again: given “grace” by Caesar, he “back return[s] with honour,” just as he did from Antony, and just as he has “crept by the favour of the Romans into the Jewish monarchy” in the first place. (Indeed, the capacity of its characters to be surprised by the extra-legal favour Herod consistently receives is something like a running joke in The Tragedy of Mariam [3.3.8, 7; Argument 1–2].)17 Supported by these absent figures of absolute sovereignty that remain in the dramatic background, Herod’s will—operating both within and outside of the indifferent law—takes centre stage, becoming the de facto law to which the play’s characters are subject, particularly those most intimately linked to him (his wife, his sister, his brother).18 It is in squaring off against these wills that he attempts to bend to his own that Herod encounters the most intractable challenges to his sovereignty. Each of these subjects claims sovereignty over his or her own will by asserting freedom from Herod’s intervention as well as freedom to make that will, rather than Herod’s, the law he or she follows. It is perhaps predictable that these characters respond to Herod’s impositions by staking out a domain of willing—a space of wishing and desiring—that is not Herod’s to command, a domain in which sovereignty belongs to them alone. “It alone is truly ours, and in our power,” Pierre Charron writes of the will, “this is that, that keepeth a man entire, and importeth him much: for he that hath given his will, is no more his owne man, neither hath he any thing of his owne.”19 Pierre de La Primaudaye suggests that God has “his image also to shine in the Will by that freedome and libertie which hee hath given unto it.”20 The faculty that enables a modicum of autonomy, the will was conceptualized as a “vital but volatile agent,” as Kathryn Schwarz argues, the instrument by which feminine subjects paradoxically exercise agency and freedom through intentional



and deliberate acts of compliance, thereby reshaping the fabric and parameters of the social.21 Yet as contested territory—the part of the self for control of which reason and passion famously battle—the will was as likely to slip the bounds of reason and slide out of one’s hands, undoing autonomy, as early modern discourses of moral philosophy, Reformed theology, and faculty psychology alike warned.22 Uncoupled from reason’s governance, the will that gives the subject some freedom from tyranny becomes, as Pierre de La Primaudaye laments, like “a tyrannical prince” itself, subjecting the self to its whims.23 Lisa Freinkel notes that the word will itself “simultaneously conveys rational volition [and] irrational desire” in early modern usage, while Sara Ahmed has suggested that wilfulness—a pejorative signifier, in early modernity as now, for a passionate, irrational, and supposedly aberrant mode of willing—is “the word used to describe the perverse potential of will and to contain that perversity,” to sideline and disavow the capacity of the will to disrupt the imperatives of reason or the intentions of would-be sovereign individuals or collective entities.24 What is surprising about the representation of will as a source of autonomy in The Tragedy of Mariam, then, is the fact that this faculty’s capacity to be a force of self-sovereignty against Herod appears in precisely those moments when characters are most subject to their irrational desires. In other words, their struggle against Herod relies not on legal claims or reasoned arguments, but hinges instead on the asserted primacy of their affections, passions, and wishes, for which they offer no rationale except to say that this is what they want. Indeed, Cary makes conspicuously clear the irrational nature of the wishes that bend against Herod’s will. Salome admits that it is not for power or glory that she loves Silleus, but only because “affection in my bosom crept” (1.5.35). Graphina, Pheroras’s social inferior, tells him that “I have admired your affection long,/And cannot therein a reason find”— and he does not dispute his love’s fundamental lack of reason (2.1.55–56). Mariam admits her inconstancy, which she defends by suggesting in her complaint that “Herod’s jealousy/Had power even constancy itself to change,/For he, by barring me from liberty,/To shun my ranging, taught me first to range” [1.1.23–26]). Hence Laurie Shannon observes that “under Herod’s personal governance willfulness prevails, because it has prevailed in him.”25 But while Shannon sees Cary as unequivocally critical of this wilfulness, and Mariam’s inconstancy as a direct indictment of patriarchal absolutism, which renders impossible the constancy it preaches, I



want to suggest that the play sketches the creative force of such transgressive and irreducibly irrational wilfulness. From the play’s start Cary emphasizes that Herod’s is not the only will with the power to shape reality. Describing the rumour of Herod’s death, the Argument suggests that the error of judgement from which the play’s entire action unfolds is nothing less than the product of “their willingness it should be so” (27). For the first three acts of the play, that shared but plural will for Herod to be dead underwrites a flurry of action aimed at negating his commands. The Argument’s retrospective narration of the decisions by the late Josephus and then Sohemus to disobey Herod’s “strict and private commandment” for Mariam’s death to follow his—a command the Argument attributes to the king’s “violent affection (unwilling any should enjoy her after him)”—is the first of many instances of characters countering Herod’s will by desiring or doing its opposite, undoing its effects (15–16, 14–15). Salome desires to divorce Constabarus, the husband obtained by Herod’s command for her first husband Josephus’s death. Herod’s former wife Doris wishes revenge on Mariam for Herod’s decision to supplant her son with Mariam’s children in the line of succession (a decision he made by simply “will[ing] it so”) while Alexandra, scorning that will as illegitimate and superfluous, wants to place her grandson on the throne that she insists is rightfully his through Mariam’s line, apart from Herod’s will (1.2.64). In gratitude for having defied Herod’s death sentence and concealed them for twelve years, the sons of Baba return their “lives and liberties” to Constabarus, and Pheroras determines to marry Graphina, flouting Herod’s decision to wed him to his daughter (1.3.5; 1.2.64, 2.2.4). In short, Herod’s will does not simply die when he is thought dead: rather, the first three acts of the play show its characters symbolically extinguishing it through their own wilful acts. Herod’s will dwells in his spoken commands, particularly his death sentences, and it is in response to these commands—their force tentatively suspended in his absence—that his subjects resist his will. Thus Sohemus, noting that “’Twere death, a word of Herod’s to neglect,” acknowledges at Herod’s return that he will die for having “slighted so his breath/As to preserve alive his matchless wife” (3.3.81, 73–74). “Breath” operates here as a capacious metonym, one that captures the vitality of Herod’s will, its incarnation in his spoken commands, and its intimacy with Herod’s very life. Carried out in parallel with his transfer of “the regal dignity, sovereign power; /… / The strength of all the city, David’s tower” to Alexander, the son of Herod and Mariam, Sohemus’s decision to “neglect” that word



and preserve Mariam against Herod’s orders at once usurps the power of sovereign decision and reveals to Herod the posthumous limits of his own sovereignty (3.3.76–78). Constabarus has similarly defied Herod’s will and done “directly contrary,” having (as Pheroras informs Herod) “against your will/Preserved the sons of Baba… / Though you commanded him the youths to kill” (3.3.82, 4.2.30–32). Cary’s rhetorical framing of these acts of defiance as decisions to save life marked for death by Herod highlights his monopoly not only on the power of life and death, but also on the power to “preserve,” to refuse: he is the only one who can create limits, who can draw a line. At the same time, Herod’s sovereignty also appears as the singular power to have what he wants without constraint. Hence his subjects assert their own sovereignty in his absence by claiming the power to bind themselves where they wish through their own wilful utterances. Pheroras, for instance, declaring that “Had Herod lived, he would have plucked my hand/From fair Graphina’s palm perforce, and tied/The same in hateful and despisèd band” to his niece, immediately sets about marrying Graphina, an act he describes as the “long-desirèd knot to tie” (2.1.13–15, 3). The marriage contract is a battle of wills: it is both the fulfilment of a wish “More wished by me than thrice Judea’s state” and an act by which Pheroras counters Herod’s will to bind him elsewhere (2.1.29). That defeated will appears in the subjunctive clauses by which Pheroras compulsively rehearses the averted disaster (“Had he lived, his power and not my choice/Had made me solemnly the contract swear” [2.1.19–20]). He thwarts Herod’s will by swearing an alternate marriage contract. While Mary Beth Rose has argued that these “vibrant, unruly energies” are sparked by the reported “news of the dead father-king,” I would suggest that the play’s repeated and apotropaic references to Herod’s will suggest that the rebellious energies and desires that propel the events of the first three acts of the play are the byproduct of that sovereign will: like Baba’s sons, they have been long preserved and are now unconcealed, at liberty.26 Before Herod’s “death,” these wishes for freedom took the form of oft-repeated complaints. Pheroras, rejoicing in his newfound sovereignty, says: How oft have I with lifted hands implored This blessed hour, till now implored in vain, Which hath my wishèd liberty restored And made my subject self my own again? (2.1.5–8)



Mariam, too, describes herself as having long desired release from the constraining force of Herod’s will: “Oft have I wished that I from him were free,/Oft have I wished that he might lose his breath” (1.1.16–17). Doris, having “moan[ed]” for nine years “with dejected knees, aspiring hands,/Hav[ing] prayed the highest power to enact” Mariam’s fall, accepts that “Revenge I have according to my will” (2.70, 34–35, 37). Salome scornfully tells Alexandra that “now you have the thing/For which so oft you spent your suppliant breath,” and accuses her of having “given [her] tongue the rein” now that Herod is safely dead (1.3.1–2, 13). Alexandra agrees: “My curse pursue his breathless trunk and spirit,” she says, the image of her animated, plaintive-but-powerful words relentlessly chasing Herod’s “breathless” body a figure for the triumph of her will over his (1.2.5). These recollections draw a line between the wishful complaints of the past—impotent, bootless—and the creative, defiant utterances of the present, in which the oppositional spirit of the former is preserved and channelled to fuel new claims to sovereignty. That connection consists of a certain persistence of wilfulness itself, for the same wilful subjects who (as Ahmed suggests) “do not adjust to the situation in which they find themselves”—those whom we might say are plaintively disposed to their social world, as Mariam’s characters are—are at the same time those who maintain that wilfulness as “an optimistic relation, a way of holding on, of not giving up.”27

Countersovereignty Beyond Constancy The play’s contests over sovereignty that I have been describing, waged as clashes of oppositional wills, are not depicted primarily as struggles for political governance—there are no violent uprisings, no negotiations over the redistribution of political power, no interventions to remove Herod from the throne—but rather for the power to make one’s will the law by which one lives, to (un)bar and (un)bind, draw and cross limits, as one likes. (Even the clearly political decisions of Constabarus and Sohemus are described by each as assertions of their freedom to be bound to laws more authoritative to them than Herod’s will: respectively, the law of friendship “written in the heart,” unbreakable by “sovereign’s … hate,” and the “modest law” to which Sohemus declares Mariam’s very “brow is table” [2.2.29, 27; 3.3.93]). Cary’s representation of sovereignty imagines that subjects might, on the basis of their wills, craft or choose for themselves laws that limit the power of their monarch or husband. This may be one



of the play’s signs of sympathy with the oppositional politics of the Sidney circle (an affinity signalled more directly by its subject matter and form as a closet drama), given their anti-absolutist championing of a limited monarchy in which governance would be shared between the king and the aristocracy.28 But if, as Julie Crawford argues, the men and women associated with this alliance imagine political power, resistance, and critique through figures of female constancy, Cary’s tragedy, by contrast, centres the personal and political potentialities of the wilfulness of its two main female characters—a wilfulness intelligible as inconstancy.29 The characters who most embody this wilfulness are Salome and Mariam, who both claim sovereignty for their wills, and more specifically for wishes and desires that are described as beyond reason and prudence, tiptoeing into the category of the dishonourable. Like a tyrannical sovereign, Salome refuses to be barred from what she wants by the law, which grants to men alone a bill of divorce. Crucially, such a divorce does not hinge on having a good reason, a just cause: the law requires nothing more than the man’s desire for it to be so. Herod “for his passion Doris did remove,” Pheroras recalls (2.1.31); divorce is freely available to the man “who hates his wife, though for no just abuse” (1.5.11). Wondering why her hatred for Constabarus or affection for Silleus is insufficient to free her, Salome asks, “Why should privilege to man be given,/Or, given to them, why barred from women then? /… / Or cannot women hate as well as men?” (1.4.46–49). She decides to stake her own claim to this “privilege” by seeking the bill: ... shame is gone, and honour wiped away, And Impudency on my forehead sits. She bids me work my will without delay, And for my will I will employ my wits. … I’ll be the custom-breaker and begin To show my sex the way to freedom’s door. (1.4.33–51)

The sovereignty Salome seeks consists of the power to be released from what she has willed in the past—“I from thee do mean to free my life,” she tells Constabarus—so that she may have what she wills now (1.6.45). From her declaration that “in this custom women are not free:/Yet I for once will wrest it,” to her assertion that “I mean not to be led by precedent./My will shall be to me instead of law,” her language turns



repeatedly to the unprecedented nature of her action (1.5.13–14, 1.6.79–80). Crossing the bar imposed on women’s wills by the law, she not only breaks or interrupts their customary exclusion from the privilege of divorce, but wrests—seizes—this custom for herself. While Salome claims for herself the sovereign prerogative to have what she wants—to not be barred from it—Mariam, by contrast, asserts the sovereign right to draw a line, to preserve and reserve something from Herod. She does this through two kinds of articulate refusals. One is the refusal to curb her speech (provoking Sohemus’s plea that she “temper… thy heart” and his lament that “Unbridled speech is Mariam’s worst disgrace” [3.3.64, 65]), the other is her vow to keep herself from Herod: MARIAM I will not to his love be reconciled; With solemn vows I have forsworn his bed. SOHEMUS But you must break those vows. MARIAM I’ll rather break The heart of Mariam. Cursed is my fate. But speak no more to me; in vain ye speak To live with him I so profoundly hate. (3.3.15–20)

Although it is Mariam’s liberty of speech with Sohemus that the Chorus of Act 3 explicitly references, the Chorus’s disapproval of the wife who reserves any part of herself from her husband comments obliquely on her refusal of Herod’s bed as well. Indeed, the Chorus suggests that the good wife must bare herself of all, and bar her husband from nothing (its assumption is that whatever is reserved from the husband is for another): ’Tis not enough for one that is a wife To keep her spotless from an act of will, But from suspicion she should free her life And bare herself of power as well as will. ’Tis not so glorious for her to be free, As by her proper self restrained to be. … When to their husbands they themselves do bind, Do they not wholly give themselves away? Or give they but their body, not their mind, Reserving that, though best, for others’ prey? No, sure, their thoughts no more can be their own, And therefore should to none but one be known.



… For in a wife it is no worse to find A common body, than a common mind. (3.3.97–101, 114–25)

The Chorus explains that while it is lawful for Mariam to speak freely with Sohemus, it diminishes her honour by making her susceptible to suspicion (“’tis thank-worthy if she will not take/All lawful liberties for honour’s sake” [3.3.106–7]). Her decision to disregard her honour for the sake of reserving—maintaining and withholding—this “power” aligns her with Salome, whose honour has long been “wiped away” (1.4.33). Like Salome, she chooses freedom. Her refusal to relinquish her power answers in the negative the quasi-rhetorical question she poses upon hearing of Herod’s return: “must I to my prison turn again?” (3.3.33). For the Chorus, Mariam’s refusal of this “turn” constitutes a lamentable object lesson: “Mariam had—but that to this she bent—/ Been free from fear as well as innocent,” it suggests (3.3.130–31). Gesturing to an alternate future in which her life had been spared, the phrase, like the speech more generally, also recalls the Stoic alignment of freedom with the achievement of the correct, rational perspective on events. This perspective is the support of constancy and enables a person to freely bare herself of what fate has decreed she must lose anyway—like Socrates, whom Seneca describes as having “swalloweth the poyson voluntarily and joyfully.”30 The standard texts of Stoic moral philosophy, from The Consolation of Philosophy to Of Constancy, conceptualize and even rhetorically formalize this perspective as a renunciation of complaint. Thus it is particularly interesting that Mariam’s wilful refusal to bare herself of power and will by bridling her speech or reconciling with Herod—a refusal to “have paid [to him] her love” that the Chorus describes as reflective of a “sullen passion”—culminates in a bitter speech of complaint (4.8.136, 137). This complaint is explicitly framed as a rejection of some sweeter speech by which she might rebind herself to Herod (“I know I could enchain him with a smile/And lead him captive with a gentle word” [3.3.45–46]). Instead she bursts into a complaint saturated with grammatical negatives, a speech of refusal that insists that Herod can give her nothing she wants: I neither have of power nor riches want. I have enough, nor do I wish for more. Your offers to my heart no ease can grant Except they could my brother’s life restore.



No: had you wished the wretched Mariam glad, Or had your love to her been truly tied— Nay, had you not desired to make her sad— My brother nor my grandsire had not died. (4.3.23–30)

Little wonder, really, that Herod will decry her “peevishness,” her “froward humour,” and her “outrageous will,” just as Constabarus has told Salome to “dismiss this mood” that “ill … fits thy place” (4.3.62, 53; 4.4.6; 1.6.35, 36). And Herod has a point, if we recall that neither his responsibility for her grandfather and brother’s murders, nor his command that she be put to death after his death, has kept her from his bed before. Mariam’s refusal to be reconciled to him is not grounded in new information. Indeed, Cary stresses the suddenness of the onset of Mariam’s hatred: explaining this passion to Sohemus, Mariam describes it as something that almost literally comes over her, for at the news of his return, “Hate doth appear again with visage grim/And paints the face of Herod in my heart/In horrid colours with detested look” (3.3.40–42). She has good reason to hate Herod, but her hatred is not represented as rational. It is hard to square this Mariam with the ideal of constancy. She more closely resembles Lipsius’s description of inconstancy as “obstinacie (or as I may more fitly tearme it, frowardnes), which is a certaine hardnesse of a stubberne mind, proceeding from pride or vainglorie,” manifest in one’s “loathing [of] thinges present.”31 Mariam herself, before her death, admits that she was “improvident,” lacked “humility,” and was “ever innocent, though sour” (4.8.29, 35, 44). Her uncomplaining death may be a model of constancy, but her life, as the play frames it, is not. I confess that I find something rather heroic in Mariam’s sour, stubborn refusal, as I do in Salome’s insistence on having what she wants. Each woman, by bending to a certain course and not bending (or being bent) to another more “honorable” one, warps the very contours of what the play represents as the possible, the thinkable. Salome says as much, describing her decision (“I am resolved it shall be so”) by noting that “Though I be first that to this course do bend,/I shall not be the last, full well I know” (1.6.60, 61–62). Their insistence on personal sovereignty thus forms the kernel of a kind of political resistance that shimmers in the play. I am not suggesting that Cary represents their wilfulness as morally admirable. But I do think that the play is acutely attentive to the way in which these wilful utterances cut into Herod’s sovereignty, redrawing and reducing its bounds. Having seized the divorce she wants, Salome proceeds to



use her “tongue of mine” to “with scandal load [Mariam’s] name,” bending Herod’s affection away from Mariam until she has, in Herod’s own words, “made Herod unsecure” (3.2.65, 4.7.158). And—from beyond the grave to which Salome’s interference and her own stubbornness has sent her—Mariam similarly uses her language to change Herod’s will and throw him off-balance. In the insistence of their wills each woman bears out Ahmed’s description of wilfulness in both its volitional and irrational modalities as “the shared condition of not being fully determined from without.”32 Mariam’s last message to Herod, delivered through the Nuntio, links the extinction of her will to an interruption of his, a point that Herod’s exchange with the Nuntio stages, indeed, as a set of interruptions—a rhetorical act that the political theorist Bonnie Honig describes as a potentially countersovereign one, whether exercised deliberately or unintentionally, as a “side effect” of “other doings.”33 NUNTIO ‘Tell thou my lord, thou saw’st me lose my breath.’ HEROD Oh, that I could that sentence now control. NUNTIO ‘If guiltily eternal be my death …’ HEROD I hold her chaste even in my inmost soul. NUNTIO ‘By three days hence, if wishes could revive, I know himself would make me oft alive.’ (5.1.73–78)

Here Mariam’s words, an extension of her breath—her life, her will— cause the very change of Herod’s will that they predict. Strikingly, she foretells that she will shape his will in perpetuity, insofar as his wishes will aim, again and again, at the object of restoring her life (“himself would make me oft alive”). In the complaint that closes the play, in which Herod “strangely, lunatically rave[s]/Because his Mariam’s life he cannot save,” he suggests that his encounter with this particular limit to his sovereignty might compel him to withdraw from the other spaces he has claimed: “Retire, vile monster,” he tells himself, “Still in some vault or den enclosèd be,/Where, with thy tears, thou may’st beget a flood,/Which flood in time may drown thee” (5.1.287–88, 249, 251–53). With this image of Herod’s projected absence, his removal to a place where his creative-­ destructive power can turn only on himself, the play ends by envisioning a return to the state of creative, frenzied energy in which it begins, a world without Herod.



Like the wilful utterances that connect Salome and Mariam, the structural link that the play’s closing complaint forges between Herod and Mariam underlines, rather than deconstructs, the habitual Stoic alignment of women and tyrants—the “wavering crew” of the allegedly passionate, irrational, and wilful (4.6.33).34 Indeed, this first extant tragedy in English written by a woman exploits the imaginative possibilities of this trope, from within a genre known among contemporary readers for its own bold and stubborn subversion of constraints on politically sensitive topics and women’s liberties of expression. The Tragedy of Mariam offers no positive vision of a more equitable political community or marital arrangement, but neither is it a strictly negative critique of patriarchal absolutism that shows nothing in its contradictions but an impasse. Rather, Cary’s play imagines those contradictions generating wilful energies and impulses with the capacity to re-form the social world. The inconstant but persistent complainant, who both expresses dissatisfaction with what is and expresses a desire for what should or could be, might very well show the way.

Notes 1. Printed in 1613, The Tragedy of Mariam was likely written between 1602 and 1609. 2. The phrase is from Thomas Lodge’s translation of Seneca’s “Of Providence” in The Workes of Lucius Annæus Seneca, Both Morrall and Naturall, trans. Thomas Lodge (London, 1614), 498. 3. All citations of The Tragedy of Mariam are from The Tragedy of Mariam: The Fair Queen of Jewry, ed. Karen Britland (London: Methuen, 2010). References are to act, scene, and line numbers of the play, and are cited parenthetically. 4. See Danielle Clarke, “Drama and the Gendered Political Subject,” in The Politics of Early Modern Women’s Writing (Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Limited, 2001), and Karen Raber, “Gender, Genre, and the State,” in Dramatic Difference: Gender, Class, and Genre in the Early Modern Closet Drama (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2001). On constructions of race in the play, see Dympna Callaghan, “Re-Reading Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedie of Mariam, Faire Queene of Jewry,” in Ashgate Critical Essays on Women Writers in England, 1550–1700, Volume 6: Elizabeth Cary, ed. Karen Raber (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), 173–93; Kimberly Woosley Poitevin, “‘Counterfeit Colour’: Making Up Race in Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam,” in Raber, ed., Ashgate Critical Essays, 327–48; and Pilar Cuder-Domínguez, “Female Monstrosity, Besieged Masculinity,



and the Bounds of Race in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam,” in Stuart Women Playwrights, 1613–1713 (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011). 5. Raber, Dramatic Difference, 161. 6. Raber gestures to this problem when she notes of Mariam’s complaint that “It seems at first surprising that Cary creates a character who so fully realizes stereotypes about women’s defective nature” (Dramatic Difference, 156). On the politically subversive nature of Mariam’s constancy, see Marta Straznicky, “‘Profane Stoicall Paradoxes’: The Tragedie of Mariam and Sidneian Closet Drama,” English Literary Renaissance 24, no. 1 (1994): 104–34. 7. Justus Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, trans. John Stradling (London, 1595), 7. 8. William M. Hamlin. “Elizabeth Cary’s Mariam and the Critique of Pure Reason,” Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 1 (2003): 14. https:// extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/09-1/hamlcary.html# 9. On this literal sense of a complainant “unfolding” her griefs, see Scott Oldenburg, “The Petition on the Early English Stage,” Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 57, no. 2 (2017): 329. 10. Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, 9. On Stoicism as fundamentally “a philosophy of the will,” see Gordon Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger’s Privilege (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985), 20. Hamlin describes Cary’s familiarity with Stoic moral philosophy in “Elizabeth Cary’s Mariam and the Critique of Pure Reason,” 4. 11. Geoffrey Miles, Shakespeare and the Constant Romans (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 43. 12. Alexandra Bennett also suggests that Cary links Mariam and Salome, but on their shared attunement to the possibility of dissembling. Alexandra G. Bennett, “Female Performativity in The Tragedy of Mariam,” Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 40, no. 2 (2000): 293–308. 13. Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, 54–55. 14. Hamlet, 1.2.98, 95. The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al., 3rd edn. (New York: Norton, 2016). 15. Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, 8. 16. Jean Bodin, The Sixe Bookes of a Commonweale, trans. Richard Knolles (London, 1606), 84. Cf. political-theological or biopolitical approaches to sovereignty, informed by Giorgio Agamben’s engagement with Carl Schmitt, in which sovereignty is the limit concept and structural principle of the juridico-political order, the exceptional place at its edges from which the law is founded and suspended. See, for instance, Philip Lorenz, The Tears of Sovereignty: Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013).



17. For a reading attentive to the role of the law in the play, see Laurie J.  Shannon, “The Tragedy of Mariam: Cary’s Critique of the Terms of Founding Social Discourses,” in Raber, ed., Ashgate Critical Essays, 349–67, which focuses on Cary’s representation of the imbalances in the laws that constitute a social order, and the moral implications of those foundational inequities. 18. The notion of a will that makes itself law is one of the period’s most conventional formulations of absolutism. If the play displaces onto ancient Palestine noticeably early modern English concerns about tyranny, it also contains an embedded image of this projection in the words that Silleus, Prince of Arabia, speaks to Salome about his own kingdom, in which his will is effectively the law of the land (“The weakness of Arabia’s king is such/The kingdom is not his so much as mine/My mouth is our Obodas’ oracle,/Who thinks not aught but what Silleus will” [1.5.27–30]). 19. Pierre Charron, Of Wisedome, trans. Samson Lennard (London, 1607), 69. 20. Pierre de La Primaudaye, The Second Part of the French Academie, trans. T. B. (London, 1594), 207. 21. Kathryn Schwarz, What You Will: Gender, Contract, and Shakespearean Social Space (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 30. 22. On Reformed theology’s insistence on the will’s inability to change its desires and inclinations, see Lisa Freinkel, Reading Shakespeare’s Will: The Theology of Figure from Augustine to the Sonnets (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 247. 23. La Primaudaye, The Second Part of the French Academie, 213. La Primaudaye contrasts the will as it should be (“the Will is the highest and most soveraigne vertue of desiring … which woorketh with libertie, after the minde hath shewed unto it what it ought to follow”) with its postlapsarian reality (“such desires and affections can not containe themselves within the limites of their sound nature: but there is alwayes some excesse even in the perfectest” [205, 218]). 24. Freinkel, Reading Shakespeare’s Will, 166. Ahmed, Willful Subjects (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 12. 25. Shannon, “Cary’s Critique,” 362. 26. Mary Beth Rose, “The Tragedy of Mariam: Political Legitimacy and Maternal Authority,” in The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, ed. Emma Smith and Garrett A.  Sullivan, Jr. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 211. 27. Ahmed, Willful Subjects, 176, 174. 28. On the politics of the Sidney alliance, see Julie Crawford, Mediatrix: Women, Politics, and Literary Production in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 8–9 and Chapter 1. For a concise account of the resonances between Cary’s play and the closet dramas



of figures associated with this circle who take up similar questions about tyranny and female political agency, see Straznicky, “Private Drama,” in The Cambridge Companion to Early Modern Women’s Writing, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 247–59; and Daniel Cadman, Sovereigns and Subjects in Early Modern NeoSenecan Drama: Republicanism, Stoicism and Authority (New York: Routledge, 2015). 29. Crawford, Mediatrix, 32. 30. Seneca, “Of Providence,” in The Workes of Lucius Annæus Seneca, 503. 31. Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, 9, 4. 32. Ahmed, Willful Subjects, 192. 33. Bonnie Honig, Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 3. 34. On this trope, see Rebecca W.  Bushnell, Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), 9–23.


The Politics of Complaint in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory and The Second Part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania Paul Salzman

In this chapter I will be exploring the relationship between Lady  Mary Wroth’s play Love’s Victory and the second part of her prose romance Urania, with an emphasis on how genre interacts with the representation of female complaint and what I am calling narrative alternatives. All of Wroth’s writing can be seen as part of the construction of a highly politicised world, which re-imagines personal details of Wroth herself, her family, and the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts. I am especially interested in how Love’s Victory replays both Wroth’s personal and her political situation with a (fantasised) positive conclusion, where Urania offers in contrast constantly recurring “solutions,” political and personal, which keep falling short. Wroth is especially interested in split genres: for example, tragicomedy, or what I see as a new hybrid genre that combines complaint and resignation to produce something like a dialectic of political/personal

P. Salzman (*) La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_7




intervention. The Second Part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania  (Urania Part Two) in particular is concerned (amongst other things) with dynastic compromise in order to produce political efficacy, but at the cost of reinforcing the sense of loss that fuels various forms of complaint in the narrative. In Love’s Victory, we might argue that one person’s fulfilment leads inevitably to another person’s loss, so that complaint is like a seesaw, but at least in the case of Wroth’s avatar Musella there is a resolution of the loss of agency. The pastoral world of Love’s Victory allows for a setting aside of the political issues that complicate personal dilemmas in Urania, where one might view Pamphilia’s marriage to the King of Tartaria as an erotic compromise that allows for a political triumph. I want to explore how far complaint as a mode might form a bridge between the personal and the political, inflected differently in the play and the romance. Love’s Victory remains Wroth’s most neglected and in many ways her most enigmatic work. Like a number of other scholars, I have puzzled over the exact nature of the two autograph manuscripts of Wroth’s play, and indeed have changed my mind about this several times over the years.1 It is worth rehearsing here the complex oscillation in Wroth’s oeuvre between modes of circulation, all of them ranged on a sliding scale stretching from private to public. In order to understand how Love’s Victory functions we need to see it in the context of the totality of Wroth’s writing, and of its different kinds of transmission and circulation. Wroth almost certainly began writing and to a degree circulating her poetry during the height of her participation in various court activities, including her role in the Masque of Blackness in 1605 when she was newly married and was seventeen years old. The presentation manuscript compilation, “Pamphilia to Amphilanthus,” has to predate the 1621 publication of Urania and seems on the evidence of the nature of the manuscript to parallel, perhaps in time, the Penshurst manuscript of Love’s Victory.2 The Huntington manuscript of Love’s Victory was once thought to be an earlier draft, but now is best seen as something like a companion script, and so it might date from around 1620, though its presence at Sir  Edward Dering’s house, Surrenden, cannot have occurred prior to October 1620, and Dering’s obsession with drama collecting and performance was at its peak from 1622 to 1624.3 Urania was published in 1621, but the lengthy continuation remained in manuscript and was probably written between 1620 and 1626.4 If we think of these as five interconnected texts, we can trace how Wroth works through autobiographical, social, and political issues in different inflections. While this is most obvious when Wroth shifts the characters of Pamphilia and Amphilanthus from a poetry sequence into an



extraordinarily complex romance narrative, Love’s Victory also takes part in this process of constant refiguring and re-imagining. The obvious generic influences behind Love’s Victory are the pastoral and the court masque, with all the political implications that those genres held in the early seventeenth century. Alexandra Bennett’s excellent but somewhat neglected essay on the play underlines the way that, in Bennett’s words, Wroth expands upon the topical and political aspects of both pastoral and masque culture to portray a queen’s court replete with power struggles, competing interests, and multiple means of controlling and achieving agency. … At once a depiction of class consolidation and an exposition of the inner tensions of court life, Love’s Victorie ultimately explores the creation of Renaissance femininity as an overt performance within the parameters of contemporary court culture.5

Seeing some aspects of the play in relation to the mode of complaint adds to our understanding of the play’s political implications, as well as its relationship to Wroth’s other writing, and allows for an inflection of the autobiographical element towards the social and political. I am taking my rather generous definition of complaint as a mode from recent work by Danielle Clarke, Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah C. E. Ross. Clarke describes complaint as “a ragbag of traditions, myths, historical scraps, and texts.”6 In relation specifically to Wroth, Smith, O’Callaghan, and Ross note how, in the example of “Lindamira’s Complaint” from Urania, “Erotic complaint is … merged with complaint against the times.”7 How might various forms of complaint function within Love’s Victory specifically in relation to the times, and might some of the differences between the two scripts reflect different approaches to the political crises characteristic of the late Jacobean period? As Marta Straznicky, the most recent editor of the Huntington manuscript points out, following on from the work of Tiffany Stern, Huntington can be seen as characteristic of the idea of early modern plays as consisting of parts that were, or at least could be, constantly rearranged during their trajectory into and out of performances.8 Huntington has less interaction from Venus and Cupid, and the action accordingly takes place in what seems like a less determinist environment, although it is also one in which the happy ending, a kind of reversed Romeo and Juliet, does not occur because the manuscript is either truncated, incomplete, or missing its final pages.9 Penshurst is framed by Venus and Cupid, and accordingly has more masque-like elements. Both versions begin with what I will call a



complaint. Huntington begins with Philisses10 singing a complaint about scorned love: You pleasant floury meade wch I did once well love your pathes noe more I’le tread your pleasures noe more prove your beauty more admire your coulers more adore nor gras wt daintiest store of sweets to breed desire Walks once soe sought for now I shunn you for the darcke, birds to whose song did bow my eares your notes nere mark; brooke wch soe pleasing was upon whose banks I lay, and on my pipe did play now, unreguarded pass Meadowes, pathes, grass, flouers walkes, birds, brooke, truly finde all prove butt as vaine shouers wish’d wellcome els unkind: you once I loved best butt love makes mee you leave by love I love deseave Joy’s lost for lives unrest.11

This conventional lyric sets the scene, in Huntington, for a landscape of discontent, with all the characters either star-crossed or, in the case of Silvesta, consciously rejecting desire. Only after 400 lines do Venus and Cupid appear in the Huntington text, at which point (in both versions) Venus declares “I would have all to wail and all to weep.” We might call this a complaint prescription, and Cupid sets about making it happen. All this occurs within a pastoral setting that is riven with power struggles, not just between the young lovers, but also with figures of authority, be they gods and rulers like Venus, or figures within the family who translate social power through arranging marriages, like Musella’s mother. The pastoral setting also allows for what Alison Findlay has described as protected female spaces in which jealousies, rivalry, feelings of powerlessness, and



strategies to counter such feelings can be aired in relative safety.12 This is the case in both versions of the play, though Huntington ends with the resolution of Musella and Philisses to die together rather than be separated through Musella’s marriage to Rustic, while in the Penshurst version we have a deus ex machina contrived happy ending, although the very last scene has Venus punishing the traitorous Arcas, and we are also left with a small band of uncomfortable characters: Forester still forced to acknowledge Silvesta’s chastity, Lacon still loving Musella (though considering himself unworthy of her), Dalina married to the unappealing Rustic, Climeana still pining for Lissius, and Phillis pining for Philisses. And in both versions, desire is characterised as sending men and women into a kind of masochistic frenzy; in Philisses’ words: “Twill make one joyful, merry, pleasant, sad,/Cry, weep, fast, mourn, nay sometimes stark mad.” While the Huntington text might have either a darker or perhaps a suspended conclusion, the Venus and Cupid frame for the Penshurst text involves Venus in a complaint scenario which reflects a more general struggle over power and autonomy. For much of the play, in both versions, the questioni d’amore and other games played by the characters keep teetering dangerously towards open conflict and rivalry. As I have already noted, Wroth creates a particularly fraught set of misfiring desires: Philisses loves Musella but is kept at a distance by her until she knows she can trust him, given his previous fickleness. Silvesta has loved Philisses but has suppressed her desire with a vow of chastity and service to Diana, while Forester remains faithfully but fruitlessly in love with her. Climeana has moved over from Arcadia and fallen hopelessly in love with Lissius, who in turn loves Philisses’ sister Simeana, who loves him but is reluctant to reveal this to him. Philisses is mooned over by Phillis and Dalina. Rustic desires and almost gets to marry Musella, thanks in part to Arcas’ jealous interference. The more gentlemanly Lacon also loves Musella, but says he is not worthy of her. In Penshurst, this plot is turned inside out because of Venus’ mercy, as through Silvesta she stages the fake deaths of Musella and Philisses, bringing Musella’s mother to repentance, Rustic to renounce Musella, and an enforced marriage is successfully averted. In Penshurst, at the end of Act Three, Venus complains that Cupid has not caused enough grief, especially for Lissius. This is where she in a sense prescribes suffering as a necessity for true love: this easy wining breeds vs more neglect wt out much paine, few doe lous ioys respect,



then are they sweetest purchas’d wth felt griefe to floods of woe sweet looks giues full reliefe a world of sorrow is easd wt one smile, and hart wounds cure’d when kind words rule, the while that foregon wailings in forgotten thought shall wasted ly disdaind, once deerly bought one gentle speach more heals a bleeding wound then baulms of pleasure, if from other ground, strike then to fauor him, and lett him gaine his loue, and blis by Loues sweet pleasing paine. (III)

This prescription, which we might see as complaint calling for the infliction of suffering which will produce complaint, can be compared to what psychologists call dirty pain as opposed to clean pain. Within the context of Love’s Victory, and indeed elsewhere, complaint is tied up in dirty pain: that is, an obsessive focus on self-criticism, diminishing self-worth and self-torment.13 Clean pain is the immediate but transient hurt of a wound; dirty pain is an obsessive revisiting of the wound and its causes and consequences. While the very notion of clean versus dirty pain has all the potential banality of mindfulness and self-help, it underlines the repetitive nature of this form of complaint, but also its power: its hold on people and the potential for that to break out away from the solipsistic towards the social. In Penshurst, by Act Five Venus is appeased and contrives to shift the balance of power from parent to child, from thwarted to fulfilled lover. Cumulatively, it is as if the complaints have been the necessary dues paid to Venus. Perhaps the best example of this is Philisses’ from the beginning of Act Four. It is, I think, important to note that this complaint is overheard by Musella, who is extremely cautious about revealing that she does indeed love him: you blessed woods into whose secrett guard I venter dare my inward wounding smart and to you dare impart the crosses hard wch harbour in my love destroyed hart to you, and butt to you I durst disclose these flames, thes paines, thes griefs wch I do find for your true harts soe constant are to these who trust in you as you’ll nott chang your mind Noe Echo shrill shall yor deere secretts utter, or wrong yor silence wth a blabing tongue



nor will your springs against your private mutter or thinke that counsell keeping is a wrong; then since woods, springs, echoes, and all are true, my long felt woes I’le tell, shew, write in you. (IV)

Philisses and Musella are reconciled, but Musella’s mother intrudes with the demand that Musella should follow her dead father’s wishes, and marry the wealthy country bumpkin Rustic. Musella has agreed to the match, in part in a fit of pique over what she has perceived as Philisses’ indifference, and her lament for her actions is again a quasi-complaint: I wowld I could deny the words I spake when I did Rusticks mariage offer take hopeles of you I gaue, my ill consent; and wee contracted were wch I repent, the time now curse, my toungue wish out wch gaue mee to that clowne wt whom I wed my graue and careles of my hart putt in your trust. (V)

The crux of the play is the moment when Musella and Philisses resist this outcome. In this particular Arcadia, death is present, but is cheated because the masque world of Venus and Cupid intrudes into the pastoral world and effects a rescue from death. However, authority remains, whether we see it as the authority of the court, or of the court’s functionary, or of the familial replication of social bonds. In the Huntington version, we are left with the lovers promising to die rather than succumb, while in the Penshurst version their resurrection allows them to escape the constraints of parental and social authority. This has been read as something like a wish-fulfilment fantasy on Wroth’s part, in which she is able to envisage avoiding marriage to Sir Robert Wroth in favour of her relationship with William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. While I think that this is indeed an aspect of how the play functions (I have never been convinced by attempts to resurrect the reputation of Robert Wroth), it narrows the implications of this society in which agency is constantly being struggled over.14 Musella’s role in the play is as complex as Pamphilia’s role in Urania, where Pamphilia may begin as a suffering character extracted from the poetry sequence, but she ends as the ruler of a country. Love’s Victory is in some respects a re-imagining of Queen Anne’s court, but also, in a move characteristic of the Sidney family during this period, something like a re-imagining of



Elizabeth’s court, with a presiding queen and the possibility of a world of enhanced female agency.15 There is also a moment in the play where Dalina counters the way that women fall victim to desire, in something like an eloquent antidote to complaint: Fy what a lyfe is heere about fond love never could itt in my hart thus much move this is the reason men ar growne soe coy when they parseave wee make their smiles our joy lett them alone, and they will seeke, and sue, butt yeeld to them, they will wt scorne poursue; hold awhile of they’ll kneele, nay follow you, and vowe, and sweare, yett all their othes untrue; lett them once see you coming; then they fly butt strangly looke, and they’ll for pitty cry, and lett them cry ther is noe evill dunn they gaine butt that wch you might els have wunn. (III)

Dalina goes on to say: I know the world, and heare mee, this I’advise rather then to soune wunn, bee too presise nothing is lost by beeing carefull still nor nothing soe soune wunn as lovers ill. (III)

It is true that Dalina goes on to marry Rustic, but she does this as something of an act of defiance against desire and in favour of pragmatism and autonomous choice. The Penshurst version does end with the resurrection of Philisses and Musella, but preceding that we have a series of characters engaged in self-abasement, potential torture, and despair. Forester dreams of Silvesta being burnt at the stake, and this apparent nightmare is, momentarily, ordained as her punishment by the priests. Silvesta is thus seen, disturbingly, as being like a religious martyr and is, as Danielle Clarke has noted, going to be punished indirectly for her chastity, in an imagined scene not at all unfamiliar to those in the audience who would remember Protestant martyrs.16 This is to some degree paralleled by Musella’s mother’s complaint, which contains a rather disconcerting mixture of guilt for her role in enforcing an unwanted marriage on her daughter, accompanied by blame directed not only at the duplicitous Arcas but also at Silvesta, who are unfairly labelled a “vile pair”:



If the true grief I feele could bee exprest by words, or sighs I showld my self detest sorrow in hart, and soule doth only bide and in them shall my woe bee iustly tride. (V)

This maternal abjection signals a certain amelioration of the kind of authority that is associated with parental control as an arm of the state. In this pastoral and masque infused world, complaint, at least to some degree, fuels elements of rebellion. I don’t want to overstate this in the play, but it is certainly there and is, I would argue, developed even further in some parallel moments in the manuscript second part of Urania. Urania is massive and complex, so any approach such as the one I am attempting here can only ever be partial. But I think it is true to say that Urania replays the complaint scenarios of Love’s Victory with a sharper political focus, though that focus takes up some of what is implied in the play, especially in relation to power, autonomy, and attempts to derail, subvert, or replace authority. I think it is fair to say that the two parts of Urania, the 1621 published part and the manuscript continuation, take different approaches to political agency. In the published part we seem to be heading towards various romance genre solutions to personal and political problems: surely we will see at the end Pamphilia joined to Amphilanthus, as a continuation of her accession as ruler of the country that bears her name. The incomplete final sentence hints that this will occur, but it breaks off so we are left uncertain: “Pamphilia is the Queene of all content; Amphilanthus joying worthily in her; And” (i.661).17 Whether this suspended ending is a homage to Philip Sidney’s incomplete revision of Arcadia, missing material that did not reach the printer, or indecision on Wroth’s part how to proceed, the effect is to open up a gap which is imperfectly closed by the manuscript continuation.18 The dangling “And” is completed at the beginning of the manuscript: “And thus they with Joyes plenty, like the richest harvest after a long time of dearthe, having gained her consent (for what can she ore may she refuse him if hee commaunde?) they sett forwards towards Italie” (ii.1). But this is only a momentary and inconclusive completion: not only is the entire narrative of the second part a drawing apart of Pamphilia and Amphilanthus into separate marriages and mutual apparent longing, but the second part itself finishes with another incomplete sentence and half a blank page: “Amphilanthus wa[s] extreamly” (ii.418).



In the continuation, the actual political conflicts of the period leading up to the Thirty Years’ War and its early stages in the 1620s are reworked by Wroth to form the backdrop to failed and failing personalities and personal relationships. In some respects the Urania continuation represents a last throw of the (literary) dice by the side of militant Protestantism. Rosalind Smith notes the “connection between complaint and the formation of idealised models of authority” via depictions of female sovereignty in Urania.19 In her sustained examination of Wroth’s use of the romance as a form of political agency, Julie Crawford notes in particular how the successful governments portrayed in Urania are “consiliary,” and the main characters’ individual governments are also overwhelmingly co-­ operative.20 This is, I would add, even true towards the end of the manuscript when the triangulation of the relationship between Pamphilia, Rodomandro, and Amphilanthus results not in jealous rivalry but in political and perhaps even erotic co-operation.21 In relation to the role of complaint in this process, I think the gaps and lacunae in Urania are especially relevant. While the gap between the last sentence of the 1621 text and the first sentence of the manuscript is stitched together, the narrative passage of time has wiped out agency from most of the first generation of characters who feature in Part One. Heroic masculinity is called into question throughout the manuscript continuation. Suddenly, we see through their romance characters and, I think, glimpse the bedraggled Jacobean courtiers beneath. So, for example, Parselius, Pamphilia’s brother, heroic in the published Urania―although it does take him a while to find happiness with Dalinea―in the manuscript continuation starts to fall apart after Dalinea’s death.22 In the midst of family arrangements for a possible second marriage, we are told that “Parselius, full of blood and with laisines growne som what fuller then ordinary, fell sick” (ii.402). He soon dies, an overweight former hero, as the narrator memorably notes: “life is a moment, death a certaintie” (ii.383). Indeed, the increasing presence of the narrator’s voice, which is often sarcastic, probing, or simply resigned, is also a counterbalance to the hyper-masculinity which was characteristic of the published part. Here is a typical example: When did any one see a man Constant from his birthe to his end? Therefor woemen must thinke itt a desperate destinie for them to bee constant to inconstancy, butt alas this is woemens fortunes, and by that unfixed sex to bee blamed as if stained with ther guiltines. (ii.23)



The image of women stained by the waywardness of men returns me to the distinction between clean and dirty pain, and the efficacy of complaint. If we regard the narrator now as a character in her own right, she emphasises the idea that there is a female resistance in Part Two to the defensive tainting of women by men out to protect themselves. Just as heroism is, if not in total decline, passing away from the older generation of men who now rely on the next generation, then women move from abnegation to a more constructive expression of their position. Here I would expand Melissa Sanchez’s important account of connections between masochism and power in Urania.23 In the manuscript continuation, complaint in particular is a mode harnessed for resistance, and even more importantly for self-recognition. As the narrator notes in an aside that precedes the missing pair of pages in the manuscript which recounted Amphilanthus’ affair with the Queen of Candia, who is, as Margaret Hannay outlines, a shadowed version of Queen Anne, with whom Wroth seems to have had some sort of falling out towards the end of Anne’s life24: What is assurance when the assured breakes? Curst bee Vaine beauty, lewed desirs, unchaste imbraces, while truth, true deserte, faithfull love, Constancye (the rarest Vertue of Vertues) are cast of, forgotten, layd aside, nay lost for wantoness, lust, and baseness. Confidence of pardon is much, butt time hath butt one lock; slip that, and you will find noe thing butt bouldnes, soe noe holde. (ii.59)

The political implications of this are once again a retrospective critique by forward Protestants of the lack of engagement by James (and in association Anne) with the gathering conflict in Europe. So faithlessness, and a complaint about faithlessness, becomes a critique of political as well as amatory dilatoriness and uncertainty. Wroth’s editors note that there are some connections between Love’s Victory and the Urania continuation, with accounts of Cupid’s revenge against those who scorn “his al-­ Conquering bowe” (ii.410), and some repeated character names, though the characters who share names are quite different in nature.25 But in relation to complaint and its political valences, there is a major difference in the treatment of poetry and songs. Of course, some of these differences are accounted for by the generic difference between a play, which scholars have increasingly seen as intended for performance, and a romance.26 Where Love’s Victory is suffused with songs and poems, in the printed Urania, poetry and songs are carefully assigned to a range of characters,



and one could be forgiven for thinking that everyone is a poet―and this is in some ways a reflection of the fact that in the Jacobean court, pretty much everyone was a poet, including Wroth’s lover William Herbert, who has one of his poems assigned to Amphilanthus in the Urania manuscript.27 In the first book of the Urania manuscript, the representation of poems and songs continues in pretty much the same pattern as the published part, with two notable examples that can be classified as complaints. As I have already noted, the first book depicts a kind of law of diminishing returns in relation to the Protestant cause and the efficacy of a literary intervention like Urania. The counterbalance is the fantasy of a pan-­ European settlement that, in the narrative, will unite Christian West with a Christian-sympathising East (through Pamphilia and Rodomandro, the King of Tartaria), including what might be called, albeit slightly ironically, a version of William Herbert (Amphilanthus) as Holy Roman Emperor. In this fantasy world, poetry remains a potent expression of resistance to the exigencies of desire, but this is almost entirely confined to Book One. I want to look in some detail at two examples of this, both complaints, one male, and one female. Near the beginning of the manuscript, Amphilanthus and Pamphilia come upon a young man lying on the ground—he later proves to be a Prince of Corinth who has been scorned by the woman he loves: Att last, after many complaints, he putt his thoughts into som measure, and that measure to an od kinde of musick. His voice suteable to his ditty, his words were thes: Why doe you thus torment my poorest hart? Why doe you cleerest eyes obscure all day From mee loves poorest vassal? Can my smart Ad triumph to your Crowne? Make noe delay Butt quickly O conclude, and doe nott stay. Rebellions must bee crusht by present art; Yett I a subject ame without dismaye, For loyalty I justly claime great part, Butt if thos cruell eyes will nott impart A favourable sensure, Oh poore claye How can an new mould bee to ease my smart? Noe, an new death must all thes ills repay. Then wellcom death, since by thos eyes I dy, Love looke, are any cleerer in your skye? (ii.24)



In this complaint the nexus between sovereign desire and sovereignty is made clear by the image of the speaker as a vassal with Love as a ruler. Resistance, or rebellion, is crushed in this poem, and the male speaker assumes the position taken by many spurned or mistreated women in the romance. There is something of a parallel to this sonnet a bit later in the narrative, with another complaint, this time spoken, or sung, by a shepherdess: Most deere, more hapy soveranising harts, Free from flattering; Murdering peeces prove your sweet eye darts Joys from desire scattering. Why, alas, were you fram[ed] if alone to kill? You knowe murdering, A crime by all condemn’d, is this your skill, Nor caus’d nor furdering? Yett you, alas, may certainly controle Thos humours flowing, Butt if itt bee you love to fleet and role Poor slaves for honors showing, Certainly you will end att last as wee, And pitty wanting cry, alas, wo’s mee. (ii.40)

Here the image is martial, with eyes darting bullets as if from pieces (guns). The singer is Fancy, a shepherdess who has scorned lovers, especially one loyal one, but who is starting to doubt that she will escape love’s revenge. Again the images evoke a political state, with sovereignising hearts and enslaved emotional subjects who are scolded/flouted, and also ruled by an avenging desire. In a sense, this is a complaint about being placed in a conquered position, and so forced into the complaint stance, forced to cry “alas, wo’s mee.” Here an enslaved subject also uses complaint to assert a modicum of rebellion. There is no doubt that the politics of Urania involves the kind of dynastic co-operation analysed by Crawford.28 However, when it comes to poetry, the shared songs and poems of Love’s Victory can be contrasted to the generally overheard, rather than shared, songs and poems of Urania, especially in the manuscript continuation. The use of poetry shifts quite



significantly, possibly in relation to concomitant political pressures. So we have something like a suppression, or self-suppression, of poetry by two significant women writers in the romance: Antissia and Pamphilia. Antissia begins as Pamphilia’s rival for Amphilanthus’ love, and also as a kind of dark double of Pamphilia as poet. In Part One, Wroth gives to Antissia a powerful poem, something like a complaint, from the “Pamphilia to Amphilanthus” manuscript: “I who does feele the highest part of griefe.”29 In the manuscript, this final poem is part of a group of poems centred on the theme of a tormented, faithful lover. In giving the poem to Antissia, Wroth heavily revised it, emphasising even further the pain felt by the speaker and the disloyalty of her lover, so that, for example, “your words” is revised to “your vows” in line twelve. In the narrative, Antissia ends up burning this poem, asking Venus for mercy: “mercy take on me thy poorest vassal” (i.327). But by Part Two, Antissia has, according to the narrator, gone mad, described―along with her tutor―as a producer of “fustian poetry,” as “silly” and “brainsick,” composer of a “tedious ditty” (ii.49–50). Antissia is cured of her madness through the magic of the sage Melissea, but this seems to be at the cost of not producing any more poetry. And while Pamphilia remains a poet, as the manuscript unfolds we no longer get to read her poetry. In the midst of her grief over Amphilanthus’ marriage, Pamphilia writes what seem to be complaints, but they remain invisible: Then when the sadest parts of true-felt griefe had possessed her to ther owne thoughts longe enough, they gave her leave to wring her conseites, as she did her hands, into som od and unusuall (as her fortunes were turned) sort of verce: a thing she had nott in a pretty space dunn ore could give libertie soe longe to her sorrow and cross destinie as to doe. They were extreame sad and dolefull, and sertainly such as would have moved too farr in Amphilanthus, had hee then seene them. (ii.279)

But neither Amphilanthus nor the reader gets to see these verses. In fact, poetry diminishes as the narrative proceeds. There are seventeen poems in the manuscript continuation of Urania, but fifteen are in Book One, and only two in Book Two (or, to be more accurate, one poem which is presented in two versions). While there may well be a pragmatic explanation for this, it is tempting to interpret the disappearance of poems (if not of the fact of poetry being produced by characters) as a comment on a shift towards a politics of action rather than contemplation. Part Two



of Urania picks up the pastoral mode of Love’s Victory and propels it even further towards political critique, which is unsurprising given how much scholarship has been devoted to unpacking the political implications of pastoral in the Jacobean period.30 But in relation to the mode of complaint, the narrative of Urania performs a wish-fulfilment fantasy of political achievement, while at the same time offering a kind of emotional stasis. Pamphilia, Amphilanthus, and Rodomandro are reconciled to an erotic compromise (though this seems to require the almost total neglect of Amphilanthus’ wife, the Princess of Slavonia).31 The older generation, with its investment in heroic masculinity, is fading fast, and giving way to the children of the main characters, who remain untried, albeit full of promise. We don’t know how all this will end because, in the tradition of the endlessness of romance, the continuation of Urania remains incomplete, but perhaps we can speculate that complaint has done some of its political work at least through Wroth’s imagined world of Protestant ascendancy.32 One might conclude that the development in Wroth’s writing, and in her treatment of complaint, from Love’s Victory to Urania Part Two, is a development away from pastoral and towards a version of romance that is suffused with a sort of nostalgic epic mode. But the continuity between these two works lies in the way that they deal with the repetitive “stuck” nature of complaint (dirty pain). The suspended endings of both the Huntington manuscript of Love’s Victory and the continuation of Urania may simply be accidental, or moments when writing ceased for contingent reasons, but they fortuitously underline how complaint keeps returning and returning to a source of pain. At the same time, in both works, Wroth recognises that the implied solipsism of this complaint process also has the potential to be harnessed for protest, personal and political. Love’s Victory and Urania Part Two are testimony to Wroth’s extraordinary inventiveness when it comes to this mode, and in tracing its reshaping from the play to the romance I have tried to pay due homage to this process.

Notes 1. Most recently, see my essay “Me and My Shadow: Editing Wroth for the Digital Age,” in Re-Reading Mary Wroth, ed. Katherine R. Larson, Naomi J. Miller, and Andrew Strycharski (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 183–92. Also, Marta Straznicky, “Lady Mary Wroth’s Patchwork Play: The Huntington Manuscript of Love’s Victory,” Sidney Journal 34, no. 1 (2016): 81–91.



2. The close connection between the two manuscripts is outlined by Margaret P. Hannay in Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), 218–19. 3. See the authoritative edition of Huntington by Marta Straznicky, in Women’s Household Drama, ed. Marta Straznicky and Sara Mueller (Toronto: Iter Press, 2018); see also my online edition, “Mary Wroth,” Early Modern Women Research Network Digital Archive, University of Newcastle, https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/emwrn/marywroth 4. Dating of the Urania II manuscript is difficult but I follow Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, 263–65. 5. Alexandra G. Bennett, “Playing by and with the Rules: Genre, Politics, and Perception in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victorie,” in Women and Culture at the Court of the Stuart Queens, ed. Clare McManus (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 124. For a similarly nuanced political interpretation of the play, see Heidi Towers, “Politics and Female Agency in Lady Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victorie,” Women’s Writing 13, no. 3 (2006): 432–47. On pastoral elements see Joyce Green MacDonald, “Ovid and Women’s Pastoral in Lady Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory,” Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 51, no. 2 (2011): 447–63. 6. Danielle Clarke, “Gender and Paratext in the Complaint Genre,” in Renaissance Paratexts, ed. Helen Smith and Louise Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 135. 7. Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah C. E. Ross, “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 339–52. See also Smith’s influential essay, “‘I thus goe arm’d to field’: Lindamira’s Complaint,” in Women Writing 1550–1750, ed. Jo Wallwork and Paul Salzman (Melbourne: Meridian, 2001), 73–85. 8. Straznicky, “Lady Mary Wroth’s Patchwork Play,” 29. 9. One could also point to the ending of A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, which of course is itself a kind of parody of Romeo and Juliet. 10. It is significant that throughout both the play and Urania, Wroth writes numerous male-voiced complaints. Given the predominance of female-­ voiced complaints in the period, this is I think part of Wroth’s exploration of shifting gender identities and their expression through poetic exchange. 11. All references to Love’s Victory are to a collation of the two manuscripts: Mary Wroth, Huntington Manuscript, HM 600, Huntington Library, California, and the Penshurst Manuscript consulted in facsimile in Mary Wroth, Lady Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory: The Penshurst Manuscript, ed. Michael G.  Brennan (London: Roxburgh Club, 1988). Because page numbers are difficult to normalise, quotations can easily be checked in my online edition of the play at “Mary Wroth.”



12. Alison Findlay, Playing Spaces in Early Women’s Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 83–94. See also Marion WynneDavies, “‘Here is a sport will well befit this time and place’: Allusion and Delusion in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory,” Women’s Writing 6, no. 1 (1999): 47–64. 13. On clean versus dirty pain, apart from a myriad of popularising online material relating to Acceptance and Commitment therapy, there are some more scientific studies; see for example Russell Harris, “Embracing Your Demons: An Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,” Psychotherapy.net, accessed June 4, 2019, https://www.psychotherapy. net/article/Acceptance-and-Commitment-Therapy-ACT 14. Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, 212–21. Hannay’s invaluable biography outlines the circumstances behind the composition of Love’s Victory; however, I am not convinced by Hannay’s positive view of Wroth’s marriage. For a more politically nuanced yet still biographical interpretation, which associates Wroth with Silvesta, see Beverly M. Van Note, “Performing ‘fitter means’: Marriage and Authorship in Love’s Victory,” in Re-Reading Mary Wroth, ed. Katherine R.  Larson, Naomi J.  Miller, and Andrew Strycharski (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 69–81. 15. A number of recent approaches to Wroth have emphasised the politicised nature of her writing; see in particular Rosalind Smith, Sonnets and the English Woman Writer 1560–1621: The Politics of Absence (New York: Palgrave, 2005). On Queen Anne, see Courtney Erin Thomas, “Politics and Culture at the Jacobean Court: The Role of Anna of Denmark,” Quidditas 29 (2008): 64–107; Clare McManus, Women on the Renaissance Stage: Anne of Denmark and Female Masquing in the Stuart Court, 1590–1619 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002); Towers, “Politics and Female Agency,” 432–47. 16. Danielle Clarke, The Politics of Early Modern Women’s Writing (London: Routledge, 2013), 113–14. 17. Parenthetical references to Mary Wroth, The First Part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, ed. Josephine A.  Roberts (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1995) as i. and Mary Wroth, The Second Part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, ed. Josephine A.  Roberts, Suzanne Gossett and Janel Mueller (Tempe: Renaissance English Text Society, 1999) as ii. 18. There is no question any more that Wroth authorised publication of Urania, given her careful set of handwritten corrections and emendations in the Kohler copy of the book, which are footnoted in the Roberts edition, and available in the facsimile edition of that copy in The Early Modern Englishwoman series, Mary Wroth, Mary Wroth: Printed Writings, ed. Josephine A.  Roberts (London: Routledge, 1996), and also, as Hannay points out, the accuracy of the frontispiece by Simon Van de Passe, Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, 233.



19. Rosalind Smith, “‘Woman-like complaints’: Lost Love in the First Part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania,” in Renaissance Loves, special issue of Textual Practice 33 (2019): 1341–62. 20. Julie Crawford, Mediatrix: Women, Politics, & Literary Production in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 182. 21. Ibid., 203–05. Crawford notes that at the very end of the manuscript the Court of Cyprus excludes women, but that if this alludes to the dissolution of Queen Anne’s Court after her death, Wroth’s response was to “write back” to the masculinisation of political agency. See also Sheila Cavanagh, Cherished Torment: The Emotional Geography of Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2001). 22. It is worth noting that Dalinea in Urania is a completely different character to Dalina/Dalinea in Love’s Victory. 23. Melissa Sanchez, Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), chapter 5, although it is curious and perhaps significant that towards the end of the manuscript Pamphilia is suffering from an especially painful leg injury, which seems, at least momentarily, like an outward sign of her inward torment over her marriage (see ii.390). 24. Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, 268. 25. See ii.410 and note. For example, the Archas in Urania is really Amicles, Trebisound’s tutor, and a benign character in contrast to the troublemaker of Love’s Victory; there is also a Rustic, though that character’s name is commonplace for its associations with simple country folk. 26. The efficacy of Love’s Victory in performance has recently been attested to by two productions held at Penshurst. For an account of the 2016 production, see Alison Findlay, “Love’s Victory in Production at Penshurst,” Sidney Journal 34, no. 1 (2016): 107–22, and also Naomi J. Miller, “Playing with Margaret Cavendish and Mary Wroth: Staging Early Modern Women’s Dramatic Romances for Modern Audiences,” Early Modern Women 10 (2016): 95–110. For an account of the 2018 production, see Shakespeare and his Sisters (website), Lancaster University, accessed June 4, 2019, http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/shakespeare-and-his-sisters/ 27. The poem “Had I loved butt att that rate” (ii.30), a song purportedly written by Amphilanthus when he was in love with Antissia, but sung by Pamphilia, is attributed to William Herbert in a number of manuscripts, see ii.481–82; Hannay, Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, 246–47; Gavin Alexander, “The Musical Sidneys,” John Donne Journal 25 (2006): 65–105. For a full discussion of Herbert’s poems and Wroth’s responses, see Mary Ellen Lamb, “‘Can you suspect a change in me’: Poems by Mary Wroth and William Herbert, Third Earl of Pembroke,” in Re-Reading Mary Wroth, ed. Katherine R. Larson, Naomi J. Miller, and Andrew Strycharski (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 53–68.



28. See esp. Crawford, Mediatrix, 182 29. See i.326–27; see also the edition of the poem in Mary Wroth, The Poems of Lady Mary Wroth, ed. Josephine A. Roberts (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), 163–64. Manuscript and printed versions can be compared in my online edition, Mary Wroth’s Poetry: An Electronic Edition. Latrobe University. https://www.wroth.latrobe.edu.au/ 30. For an especially influential example, see Michelle O’Callaghan, “The Shepheard’s Nation”: Jacobean Spenserians and Early Stuart Political Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000). 31. On this situation see Sanchez’s apt account of this as a queer ménage a trois, Sanchez, Erotic Subjects, 141–42. 32. On this aspect of romance see the classic account by Patricia Parker, Inescapable Romance: Studies in the Poetics of a Mode (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).


Animating Eve: Gender, Authority, and Complaint Danielle Clarke

The texts discussed here (Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum [1611]; Anne, Lady Southwell’s poems [1620–27]; John Milton’s Paradise Lost [1667] and Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder [1679]) illustrate how inherited traditions of complaint fuse with poetry which is inspired by, but close to, scripture.1 Complaint provides an example of how new ways of speaking and writing emerge from the collocation of materials that might not otherwise be brought together, in particular in the fusion of a long-established form with new models and new ideas about theme, content and speaker. The elasticity of complaint during the early modern Grateful thanks are due to the generous community of scholars who have provided commentary, critique and suggestions on this piece: the “Woe is She” seminar at SAA, in Los Angeles, March 2018; respondents at Complaint and Grievance: Literary Traditions, Wellington, New Zealand, February 14–15, 2019. Particular thanks are due to Sarah Ross, Christina Luckyj and Helen Wilcox, whose insights and help made this a much better essay.

D. Clarke (*) University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_8




period enables women writers to strategically tap its resources for their own varied ends. Rather than focussing on the problematic appropriation and abjection of the female voice in Ovidian complaint, I explore the ways in which the interpellation of complaint into other genres and forms enables productive models for situating female voices, which can begin to gesture to a speaker who can be identified with an author embodied as female.2 Reading female-authored spiritual texts which deploy Eve’s voice/narrative alongside Milton’s transposition of Adam’s lament after the Fall into the conventionally female-voiced complaint form suggests that women poets carefully construct the reception of their own voices through the staging of interpretation of complaint in their texts, and through repositioning the complaint tradition. Recent readings of complaint attend to how using female voices and characters might disrupt dominant models of masculinity, focussing on the public impact of private transgression or immorality. Women writers were often forensic in their exploitation of this aspect of complaint, as Isabella Whitney demonstrates in her use of the Heroides in the “Admonition.”3 Complaint is, as Smith et al. rightly state, “unusually permeable” and displays a “distinctive blurring of boundaries”―it is not confined to the standalone form foregrounded in much criticism.4 Complaint frequently occurs in the context of other utterances, other textual economies, delaying, diverting or recontextualising the linear narrative logic of more obviously fixed or authoritative forms. The inherently ludic mode of the complaint suggests a complex set of interpretive possibilities which attach to the positing of something that might be stably understood to “be” a female voice. As Susan Wiseman notes, “the reading context of…complaint instantiates an ambiguously persuasive, allowably self-justifying, ‘heuristic possibility’ in the female complaint.”5 None of the complaints considered here have a textual life entirely separate from the larger poetic artefacts of which they are a part; in fact, the “standalone” complaint proves to be anything but. Jane Grogan argues that as epic is “punctuated by interruptions, stoppages, and opportunities for rest,” such “opportunities” require or include modes of reflection and voicing that counter male action and heroic rhetoric.6 Thus they arrest, displace or trouble the hegemonic claims of forms like epic or romance. Each of my examples owes a debt to the hexameral counter-epic of Du Bartas, both in relation to the poetic imitation of scripture and in materialising textual authority on the page through extensive annotation.7 This crucial intertext unsettles and reframes the gendered binary of the male-authored complaint and



female-­authored defence. The innovative use of voice in the Devine Weekes (“Most mighty Lord (quoth Adam) here I tender/All thanks I can, not all I should thee render” [287]) authorised the extension of ethopoeia to the figures of Adam and Eve.8 Sylvester urged poets to “change their subject, and advance their wings/Up to these higher and more holy things” (273) and English poets to “weane our wanton ILE/From Ovids heires” (272). Complaints appear in a range of environments, from the miscellany (which provides a loose frame and models an interpretive community) to The Mirror for Magistrates, to Lady Mary Wroth’s incorporation of complaints of various kinds into The Countesse of Montgomeries Urania (1621).9 The long-debated relationship between Shakespeare’s Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint is just one example of the tendency to place female-voiced complaint within the ambit either of sonnet sequences, or of other types of complaint. Even where the complaint itself is univocal, it is intended to be read in a plural, polyvocal context, addressing a community even as it enacts its withdrawal from that community―Lanyer’s “The Description of Cooke-ham” is a fine example of precisely this dynamic.10 * * * When women poets incorporate the cross-fertilisation of complaint and spiritual verse, they often use a counter-reading of biblical texts to provide authority for their speakers.11 They do not engage the model of the Heroides in any structural way, deploying instead complex narrative voices within a carefully controlled interpretative framework―a framework supplied in the case of Lanyer and Hutchinson by the larger texts of which they form a part, and in the case of Southwell, by the plural micro-­contexts of the commonplace book. Eve’s status as metonymic everywoman, combined with the long-standing querelle des femmes debate about the degree of her culpability for the Fall (clearly reflected in Paradise Lost and its lengthy playing out of this question―including Adam’s complaint in Book 10) means that this voice is particularly resonant for women writers. Lucy Hutchinson, however, does not engage this debate tradition to any significant degree in her representation of Eve’s voice in Canto 5 of Order and Disorder.12 Du Bartas’ Semaines provides an important precedent for all of these writers―for Eve’s speech; for a sympathetic portrayal of her temptation; and for a loose generic link to complaint, present in transmogrified form. In Sylvester’s translation, Eve is associated with innocence and honesty, reiterating without question the divine injunction handed



down to Adam and Eve: “But all good God (alas, I wote not why)/Forbad us touch that Tree on paine to die” (311). Her acceptance of divine authority is central to her moral and ethical status―and Milton’s representation of Eve as questioning, critical, is part of his specific engagement with terms of the argument over her “fault.” Hutchinson, by contrast, transposes the emotional timbre of Ovidian complaint into a lament for Eve’s own fallen nature and the defects of her character―this position has a problematic relationship to the questions of guilt and innocence familiar from the Heroides and imitations of that tradition. In Du Bartas, the temptation is represented as a battle of language, with Eve as the innocent listener and Satan as the rhetorically sophisticated speaker: “This self-dumbe Creatures glozing Rhetoricke/With bashfull shame great Orators would strike” (308). The encounter between Eve and Satan is framed in a way familiar from complaints in the Ovidian/epyllion tradition, as Satan approaches the chaste Eve (“so purely kept her vow of chastity,/That he in vaine should tempt her constancie” [304]) using terms from secular poetry.13 In Sylvester’s translation this is rendered through the familiar simile of the lover aiming to entrap an innocent maid: As a false lover that thick snares hath laid, T’intrap the honour of a faire young Maid, When she (though little) listning eare affoords To his sweet, courting, deepe-affected words, Feeles some asswaging of his freezing flame And soothes himself with hope, to gaine his game, And rapt with joy, upon this point persists… …Even so the Serpent that doth counterfet A guilefull Call t’allure us to his net; Perceaving Eve his flattering gloze disgest, He prosecutes, and jocound, doth not rest, Till he have try’d, foot, hand, and head and all, Upon the breach of this new-battered wall. (“The Deceipt,” 311)14

Eve is the chaste, innocent woman, whose defences are breached by the deceptive rhetoric of a formidable (male) enemy. This stereotype of the interpretively gullible woman has a long history, and is also a trope used frequently by women defending their virtue and honour in the face of patriarchal entitlement―sometimes, as by Whitney, in admonitory form. Images of snaring, entrapment, breaching and battering are endemic in



representations of female chastity under attack, with their implications of women (particularly virgins) as prey. There is no direct evidence that Lanyer read Du Bartas, but her connections through her husband with the court of King James (who translated Du Bartas) makes some acquaintance with this key text likely. The numerous editions printed in the early seventeenth century mean that it would be a text that she could have encountered, and there is strong evidence of female ownership too―Elizabeth Isham comments specifically on her reading of Du Bartas in her Book of Remembrance; Ann Bowyer owned a copy, and Elizabeth Grymeston includes the passage cited above in her Miscellenea, Meditations, Memoratives (1604).15 Anne Clifford is depicted with “All Du Bartas his Workes” in the Great Picture at Abbot Hall and the links between Lanyer and the Clifford women make it more likely than not that Lanyer had read him.16 Lanyer’s Salve Deus and Sylvester’s translation of Du Bartas both are quarto texts with multiple dedicatees and have marginalia designed to aid readers to locate particular passages, “useful finding devices” as Auger terms them.17 This is a model also found in Southwell’s commonplace book, and in Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder. Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611) is fully engaged with the complaint tradition, and modulates it in various ways in this composite, hybrid collection.18 The entire volume references complaint, signalling on the title page “Eves Apologie in Defence of Women” as well as “The Teares of the Daughters of Jerusalem”―positioning the poems as both lamenting and petitioning, two of the key functions of complaint in the early modern period.19 Many of the images and metaphors in the poem that attest to its exemplary, didactic purpose are indebted to Lanyer’s knowledge of the diverse tradition termed “complaint.”20 The “dym steele” “Glasse” of her text (“To the Queenes most excellent Majestie” 5, ll.40–41) evokes the Mirror of Magistrates tradition and this metaphor for the relationship between the reader and the text recurs throughout. Lanyer’s self-presentation also owes something structurally to the socially exiled speaker of conventional complaint: Whose untun’d voyce the dolefull notes doth sing Of sad Affliction in an humble straine; Much like unto a Bird that wants a wing, And cannot flie, but warbles forth her paine: (ibid., 8, ll.103–106)21



Several of her dedicatees―Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, in particular―were linked to the resurgence of interest in the form of complaint in the 1590s, and Arbella Stuart and Anne Clifford were associated strongly with petitioning and lament. Eve is a critically important figure for women writers to posit as originating moral speech located in the female body in opposition to a tradition which sees that body as negating the possibility of virtuous speech. When Lanyer turns to the conventional opposition between beauty and virtue, she demonstrates her knowledge of the inherited literary traditions that structure Ovidian female-voiced complaint and its de-authorising of women’s speech. In Lanyer, “Beautie”―a powerfully multivalent term―is responsible for women being drawn away from their inherent virtues, betrayed and abandoned. Helen is “carried” from her “lawfull Lord” (l.210, emphasis added); “chaste Lucrece” (l.211) loses her life; men are firmly placed in the wrong, “Beautie the cause Antonius wrong’d his wife” (l.213). Lanyer alludes to two complaints central to the Elizabethan re-­ working of Ovidian complaint, Daniel’s Complaint of Rosamund (1592) and Michael Drayton’s Matilda (1594)―although both narratives were also contained in the popular Englands Heroicall Epistles, repeatedly re-­ issued and revised by Drayton in the early seventeenth century (1597; 1598; 1599; 1600; 1602; 1603).22 Both figures are read through the same framework, where beauty is entrapment leading inevitably to moral downfall: “Faire Rosamund, the wonder of her time,/Had bin much fairer, had shee not bin faire” (ll.225–26). For Matilda, beauty was “the cause that turn’d her Sweet to Sowre” (l.235), despite her chaste refusal of King John, “Nor Death it selfe, could purchase her consent” (l.240). The voiced complaints of these historical figures articulate both their powerlessness and their resistance and perform in their narratives how their fallen status de-authorises their voices. For Lanyer the story of the Fall is above all a narrative of loss and exile (as recapitulated in “The Description of Cooke-ham”), a form of dislocation and disempowerment based upon masculine transgression―the structural similarities with complaint are clear―”that eternall blisse/That Angels lost, and We by Adams fall” (ll.259–60). “Eve’s Apologie” is perhaps the best-known passage of Lanyer’s diverse and complex poem, and the most frequently anthologised.23 Lanyer’s “apologie” lacks the conventional markers of erotic complaint, but it is closely allied with the other key branch of complaint, judicial or legal



petitions. The intervention comes in the context of a trial, which fails to adhere to due process, and where questions of judgement are more ethical than forensic.24 Pilate is “to judge the Cause/Of faultlesse Jesus” (SDRJ, ll.745–6), but the narrator urges him to hear a petition for Christ’s life: “But heare the words of thy most worthy wife,/Who sends to thee, to beg her Saviours life” (ll.751–2). Rather than deploying the voice of Eve per se, Lanyer places her re-reading of the conventionally misogynist account of Eve within multiple narrative frames. Nested speakers are a notable feature of complaint, but here they are deployed to destabilise the relationship between the voice of the poet and the body of Eve. Expanding on a hint in her biblical source (Matthew 27:19), Lanyer, like Southwell and Hutchinson, constructs a careful re-reading with Eve as the subject of the narrative rather than as the object.25 Drawing on St Matthew, Lanyer carefully unpicks the moral binaries founded on the primary dyad of Adam and Eve, seeing these in relative rather than absolute terms: “Till now your indiscretion sets us free,/And makes our former fault much lesse appeare;” (ll.761–2). Like Southwell and Hutchinson, Lanyer’s reading is unequivocally typological. She has Pilate’s wife assertively reimagine Eve’s status as innocent and good (“Our Mother Eve…/Was simply good” ll.763; 765) with the serpent (as in Du Bartas) the primary agent of her downfall: That undiscerning Ignorance perceav’d No guile, or craft that was by him intended; For had she knowne, of what we were bereav’d, To his request she had not condiscended. But she (poore soule) by cunning was deceav’d, No hurt therein her harmelesse Heart intended: For she alleadg’d Gods word, which he denies, That they should die, but even as Gods, be wise. (ll. 769–76)26

Prior to this passage, however, Eve is represented in terms of complex and contrary impulses, an important avowal of her capacity to argue and reason, and her status as an originating subject/agent. Much of the apology draws on querelle des femmes arguments for Eve’s innocence, but Lanyer is canny enough to understand the rhetorical force these have when advanced using the voice of a woman―”the persuasive force of authenticity” as



Susan Wiseman has it―addressing a carefully constructed interpretive community of pious women.27 She is a woman who typologically mirrors―but reverses―Eve. Mrs Pilate attempts to intervene between Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate to prevent a second fall, as Eve is the mediating term between Satan and Adam. The community of female believers is constantly brought back into the interpretive frame over the course of the narrative of Christ’s trial, death and resurrection in ways that are quite different to the distal audience/readership found in Ovidian complaint― where the listener(s) are imagined to be far away and usually disembodied.28 Adam’s masculinity, strength and primacy are all here cited as reasons for his transgression being the greater (and this is of a piece with the capacity of complaint to call masculine behaviour to account), arguments which are also played out in Book 10 of Paradise Lost. Eve’s motivations for eating the fruit are seen to be nobler than Adam’s, as she is subjected to Satan’s persuasive power, and eats the fruit “for knowledge sake” (ll.797), whereas “[w]e know right well [Adam] did discretion lacke,/Beeing not perswaded thereunto at all” (ll.795–6, emphasis added). Lanyer pointedly omits the notion that Adam was tempted by Eve’s beauty and rhetorical power, laying responsibility for his fall solely on Adam. Eve’s effective use of rhetoric raises the long-debated ethical question about whether the capacity to advance a flawed argument effectively means that the orator is a bad (wo)man―an issue rarely considered in the context of a female speaker. Hutchinson, by contrast, reverses this paradigm, “he by her persuasion too offends/As by the serpent’s she before had done” (O&D 4.216-17, emphasis mine). In Lanyer’s poem, knowledge is female in origin (“which he tooke/From Eves faire hand, as from a learned Booke” [807–8]), but the doctrine of original sin is traced back to the body. Any evil in Eve derives from Adam (“Beeing made of him, he was the ground of all” [810])―this is again a subversive twist on the tradition that equates the fall with male susceptibility to the temptations of the female body.29 Weakness (female) is pitted against malice (male) in a dynamic that recapitulates the power inequalities of complaint. * * * In the case of Anne, Lady Southwell, forms like elegy are re-orientated to turn a lens on questions of gender. Southwell is preoccupied by the ways in which the Genesis story and the fall structure and guide moral, spiritual



and political action. As Sarah Ross notes, Southwell’s engagement with sociality is marked “by petition and negotiation” (71), and this mode also frames her engagement with the figure of Eve. Many of Southwell’s poems―elegies as well as the poems on the decalogue―are creation narratives, indebted to the model of Du Bartas. Sarah Ross argues that we need to think of biblical paraphrase less as a private genre (a tendency exacerbated in this case by the form of the commonplace book) than as “a mode in which poets male and female could―and did―speak on wide-­ ranging moral, social, and political issues” (67). Southwell’s reading was extensive and included epyllia like Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis and Marlowe’s Hero and Leander (4–5) as well as, most likely, Robert Southwell’s St Peter’s Complaint (listed as “Saint Peters Plaint” in her inventory of books, 101). Her debt to Du Bartas is extensive, although this book is not listed in her inventory. Southwell tends to favour Eve over “blockish Adam” (“All maried men,” 20, l.10), often subtly resisting the gender implications of the biblical model, whilst not departing from theological orthodoxy: “In Eve’s distained nature, wee are base” (26, l.89), an image which plays (conceptually and aurally) on the idea of the “stain” of original sin, as well as the way in which Eve (and by extension, women) are disdained. Here “wee” denotes women (the poem is addressed to the Lady Ridgeway, Countess of Londonderry). This identification with the figure of Eve is daring, and only possible because of Southwell’s adherence to the idea that the consequences of Eve’s fall extend to all mankind, not just to women: For as afliction, in a full fedd state, like vinegar, in sawces, doe awake dull Appetites; and makes men feed the better (27, ll.93–5)

Once again, this universalism subtly repositions Eve, not Adam, as the origin of the subject. As in Du Bartas and Lanyer, Eve’s fall is attributed not to any inherent or essential fault in her own nature, but to her susceptibility to Satan’s rhetoric: “T’was he in Paradise gave God the ly/telling, rebelliouse Eve; she should not dy” (34, ll.39–40). The question of Adam’s fault comes up several times in Southwell’s work: “presumptuous knowledge wrought poore Adams woe” (46, l.44), and often Eve’s fall is not alluded to at all, “heere is Aadams curse chaynd to necessitye” (62, l.50). Elsewhere, however, Southwell appears to endorse a more orthodox view of gender relations, as Gillian Wright has noted.30



Southwell, like Lanyer, frames her advocacy of Eve’s position through the discourse of legal language, and brings her imagined reader directly into the address: “Sr. give mee leave to plead my Grandams cause/and proove her Charter from Jehovæs Lawes” (42, l.1). Her use of vocabulary is both precise and suggestive. A charter was usually (OED) a “leaf of paper,” so Southwell puns on “leave” in asserting the validity of Eve’s covenant from God in the face of misogyny that would in effect deny this―the poem attempts to draw the reader (“Sir”―probably Roger Cocks) away from this “wilfull herresye” (l.4)―again, the term “wilfull” playfully captures the double sense of “deliberate” and “led by the will.” Like many complaints, this poem deploys a legal frame (one which authorised women’s voices, however problematically, particularly in unequal power hierarchies) to advance women’s moral equality with men.31 For Southwell this involves the rejection of misogyny: “thinkinge ffemales have so little witt/as but to serve men they are only fitt” (ll.5–6); “Want wee the witt for stratagems of state/...Or wante wee skill to purchase Crownes and thrones/to ordaine lawes, unite devissions” (ll.35–38). The use of anaphora here draws attention to the duality of the word “want” meaning both “lack” and “desire,” an important ambiguity for the resolution of these lines. As she asserts women’s capacity, Southwell suggests that these highly valued activities are meaningless distractions, and that women’s exclusion from them reinforces their spiritual authority: Theise are but guades that makes men proude and jollie      damm’d in their skill prooves all but emptie follie ffor whats our purchase if the world wee gaine      and loose our soules in hells eternall paine O ‘tis a happie blest necessitie      that barrs the soule from hell bredd aggonie (ll.39–44)

The key terms in these lines track the contours of the narrative of transgression, fall, loss and redemption—again punning on “damm’d” (something dammed up/damned) and “loose” (let free/lose). The poem depends upon a forensic re-examination of the logic of the inherited model of sexual difference, which Southwell asserts through precisely nuanced use of language. Her unpicking of the sequential model found in one biblical account is underlined by the way that the poem works backwards through the biblical account, starting with Genesis 2:22 and ending with 1:27. For Milton, these questions of primacy and



sequentiality, fused with classical models of sexual difference, trace Eve’s secondariness (and thus inferiority) back to the ontological signifier of the body. By contrast, Southwell focusses on those verses in Genesis which contradict such ideas of temporal primacy and moral secondariness. Woman’s origin in this account is identical to that of man, and Southwell suggests that woman is the perfection of man. Questions of female virtue or morality are referred back to the male body: Our bodies are as gould tane from your earth      and soe are of a more refined birth ffrom that read claye where Adam did resyde     precipitated, and well dullcifyed: God tooke a Marble Piller and did build      a little world with all perfection fill’d (ll.9–14)

The marble pillar is Adam’s rib; but the female body, through the language of alchemy, is represented as the refinement of the male. To dulcify is to purify from acidity; to sweeten; to soften or mollify (OED).32 Drawing selectively on the biblical sources, Southwell incorporates the Geneva Bible’s commentary on 2:22 (“And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man, made he (b) a woman, and brought her to the man”): signifying that mankind was perfect, when the woman was created, which before was like an imperfect building33 (b)

Being taken from Adam’s side identifies Eve with Christ’s spouse (the Church), “But Adam slept, as saith the historie/uncapable of such a mistarie” (ll.19–20)―the typological importance of Eve is made clear here―a transvaluing of the figure of Eve with strong parallels to Lanyer.34 Southwell goes further, again drawing on the Geneva commentary on Genesis 5:2 (“Male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name (a) Adam in the day that they were created”): (a) By giving them both one name, he noteth the inseparable conjunction of man and wife

Southwell uses this to make the point that if God made Adam a helpmeet He was hardly going to gift Adam a fool:



God made a helper meete and can you think      a foole a help, unless a help to sink (ll.22–28)

Throughout, Southwell’s focus is on the equality of men and women as outlined in the scriptural account, and the way in which that authority, expressed in the sacrament of marriage, means that both share the same fate―this is the position that Adam has to arrive at in Paradise Lost. Thus the gendered divisions suggested as a “wilfull herresye” are the result of fallen human nature, not divine imperative or design: Soe either count her wise, or him a foole      or else Creation fail’d in a true rule As they are one, I not account her wise      for both of them turned fooles in Paradise Which was the merest foole is harde to tell,      without Christs ayde, that must be knowne in hell. (ll.29–34)

The poem blends together judicial complaint with the woman debate tradition to find a female position authorised by scripture from which to speak out against patriarchal oppression. This is a powerful counter-­ reading, presented through a voice identified as female (“give mee leave to plead my Grandams cause,” emphasis added), which asserts interpretive authority over a masculine tradition of biblical interpretation. The movement between pronouns in this poem (“I,” “Wee,” “you”) is powerful―we/our modulates between reference to women only and to humankind in general, in a way that makes Southwell’s point grammatically and syntactically as well as through argument. Whilst the poem is not voiced by Eve, the oscillation between “I” and “wee” makes this typological connection between Eve as first woman and all women, quite clear―and like much conventional complaint, this voice is self-evidently performative. * * *



When Milton turns to complaint to articulate Adam’s abject state in Book 10 of Paradise Lost, he relies both on established assumptions about the “femininity” of complaint and on the openness of complaint to other types of content and situation. The classical tradition with which complaint becomes intertwined deploys a set of highly conventionalised tropes, topoi and gestures to represent the problematic embodiment (mostly) by a female speaker of narratives of abandonment, violation and loss of ­self/ status.35 Milton appropriates well-known and easily identifiable conventions of female-voiced complaint to re-inscribe Adam’s subjection to the authority of God―a God whose trust Adam has violated. Unlike most female speakers of complaint whose authority derives from their lack of complicity in their own sexual downfall despite the social judgement visited on them, Adam is guilty, even as his railing at his fate replicates the rhetoric of female-voiced complaint. Lucy Hutchinson’s incorporation of complaint into biblical epic also requires the overt acknowledgement of Eve’s guilt, in a way which makes her complicit with patriarchal logic.36 Unlike Lanyer and Southwell, Milton’s narrative is ultimately directed to the end of reinforcing and reifying the necessity of Eve’s subjection to Adam, and this ideological imperative drives his interpretation of the utility of complaint. Variations on the theme of lament, complaint and elegy are a repeated feature of Paradise Lost. In the case of Adam in Book 10, the complaint involves a process of coming to terms with human mortality, and with the fact that this is a curse heavily invested in futurity and indeterminacy. Adam is unable to resolve his abjection alone―it is Eve who, by eliciting his pity and admitting her culpability, moves him towards acceptance: “her lowly plight/…in Adam wrought/Commiseration; soon his heart relented/Towards her” (10.937, 939–41). In Order and Disorder this process is inverted, and it is Adam who asserts their shared condition and fate: Yet in our present case we must confess His justice and our own unrighteousness. He warned us of this fatal consequence, That death must wait on disobedience; Yet we despised his threat and broke his law, So did destruction on our own heads draw; (5.453–58)



The process entails Adam’s acceptance that his fate and culpability is tied to Eve’s―something that female authors highlight repeatedly. Adam has to understand that he is not an autonomous male subject whose obligations only extend to his dyadic relationship with the divine―just as Eve has to be brought to an acceptance of heterosexual desire in Book 4 of Paradise Lost, Adam has to redirect his subjectivity to include and accept the other. Maggie Kilgour notes that Adam’s lamentation of his fate in Book 10, 720ff…turns into Ovidian complaint; Adam is the ancestor of Medea and the other heroines of the Heroides, as well as the exiled Ovid himself. The couple slides into familiar patterns of destructive and alienated desire.37

Milton appropriates aspects of the female-voiced complaint to explain and re-inscribe Adam’s relationship with God―with Milton himself as the originating poet-creator. If, as Kilgour asserts, Ovid is the model, what is at stake in having a male speaker occupy a subject position culturally coded as feminine? Does Milton have in mind one of the male speakers of the Heroides (or later complaints such as Drayton’s Englands Heroical Epistles)? What, specifically, about this complaint, is Ovidian, beyond its conceptual frame? The “familiar patterns of destructive and alienated desire” are a feature of the dialogue that follows Adam’s complaint which is notable for its solipsism (Eve is not mentioned by name, only appearing as “that bad woman” at 10.837). This question of subject position is crucial, as the gender of the speaking subject fundamentally frames the speaker’s relationship to authority, troping Adam as the bereft and abandoned lover, whose fundamental connection to the world has been severed, condemning him (as for the heroines of Ovid’s―and later―epistles) to loss, exile and lack of identity. Adam’s misogynist polemic (“thou serpent” [10.867], “all was but a show/Rather than solid virtue, all but a rib/Crooked by nature, bent, as now appears/More to the sinister part from me drawn” [10.883–86],) elicits a response from Eve that echoes the attempts of Ovidian heroines to assert their virtue and continuing value to the men who have abandoned them.38 Milton again specifically identifies her speech at l.914 with the form of complaint, including the conventional markers of the complaining/grieving woman―tears and hair:      with tears that ceased not flowing,



And tresses all disordered, at his feet Fell humble, and embracing them, besought His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint (10.910–13)

The initial use of the term “complaint” comes within the judicial context of judgement (as it also does for Lanyer, Southwell and Hutchinson)39:      In evil strait this day I stand Before my judge, either to undergo My self the total crime, or to accuse My other self, the partner of my life; Whose failing, while her faith to me remains, I should conceal, and not expose to blame By my complaint; (10.125–31)

Here “complaint” is brought within the framework of the legal functions of complaint as petition, yet Adam’s sensitivity to the risk of revealing Eve’s guilt and complicity is indicative of his own weakness and susceptibility. This is a momentary scruple as Adam worries that the entire punishment will be visited “[d]evolved” (l.135) on him—in the legal sense: “caused to pass to another, by legal succession, especially through the deficiency of one previously responsible.”40 This first use of the term “complaint” then, serves to position his subsequent complaint at 720ff. as an attempt to exonerate himself from guilt, to assert his innocence in the face of reputational damage. Milton’s complaint shares territory with female-voiced complaint, where the capacity to speak is predicated on the establishment of an abandoned or violated female body to which the speaker now has a distinctly paradoxical relationship. Here, though, the “violation” is, within the logic of the poem, self-inflicted (“Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall” [3.99]). Adam states “And me with thee hath ruined, for with thee/Certain my resolution is to die” (9.906–7). Eve hands Adam the fruit which “he scrupled not to eat/Against his better knowledge” (9.997–98) leading swiftly to mutual lust and desire. The contrast is important: where Eve is deceived and attempts to counter Satan, Adam is not deceived. The adaptation of the distal relationship implied by secular complaint to religious purpose signals the altered state of Adam’s intimacy with God (“Where art thou Adam, wont with joy to meet/My coming seen far off? I miss thee here” [10.103–4]). The model of articulation as the



augmentation of sorrow, rather than the diminution that Adam seeks (“disburden”) is a feature of Adam’s complaint too.     O voice once heard Delightfully, Increase and multiply, Now death to hear! For what can I increase Or multiply, but curses on my head? (10.729–32)

The notion of the living death again calls forth the precedent of female-­ voiced complaint with its heavy investment in the notion of the woman’s symbolic and social death in the absence of the male ligature connecting her to the social world through the guarantee of her sexual virtue:           endless misery From this day onward, which I feel begun Both in me, and without me (10.810–12)

Adam’s complaint is marked by his lack of repentance and his inability to make rational discriminations―or indeed, to bring reason to bear on his dilemma. Throughout, Adam is identified with emotion, and with affect, expressed through his scarcely controlled rhetorical questions and apostrophes―these are stylistic articulations of excess, of the capacity of emotion to overcome reason. The example of Adam’s complaint enables us to rethink the relationships between voice, the body and gender in ways that trouble easy alignment and provoke further thinking on the social, ethical, political and cultural functions of complaint. * * * Lucy Hutchinson is the writer most obviously indebted to Du Bartas in terms of her conceptualisation of the functions of authorship, and the poetic processes of her text. Order and Disorder famously incorporates scripture as an integral mode of representation. As Elizabeth Scott-­ Baumann has demonstrated, Hutchinson was fully acquainted with the tradition of complaint, and uses this in a way which seems consciously calculated to speak to Milton’s deployment of complaint in Book 10 of Paradise Lost, as the preceding section suggests.41 Hutchinson’s Eve redirects responsibility for the fall to herself, through the frame of loss and mourning. Hutchinson’s use of complaint in Order and Disorder inverts



Milton’s order―in Paradise Lost the emotional primacy of complaint is Adam’s and it is Eve who pleads with him not to forsake her. In Order and Disorder, it is Eve who speaks first and Adam who counsels acceptance and openness to God’s mercy. Adam has betrayed both his God and his contract (social, spiritual, legal, sexual) with Eve. Adam is at fault, but in denial of this projects his fault onto Eve. Female speakers of complaint often attempt to assert their rightful innocence in the face of misogynist assumptions about complicity in sexual assault. Hutchinson, by contrast, has her Eve figure accept her guilt, “If on my sin-defilèd self I gaze,/My nakedness and spots do me amaze” (5.431–2), although other aspects of her complaint echo Milton’s quite precisely. The opening statement “Ah! Why doth Death its latest stroke delay?” (5.401) picks up directly on Adam’s question in Paradise Lost, “Why delays/His hand to execute what his decree/Fixed on this day?” (10.771–3). Throughout, Hutchinson’s adoption of the female voice as the primary one for lament/complaint reframes the relationship between Adam and Eve, and between Milton and Hutchinson. Like Milton’s, Hutchinson’s poetry is an articulation of her poetic and theological position, and her writings cannot be separated from these contexts, and the scriptures noted in the margin must be seen in a dialogic, even heteroglossic relationship with the “body” of the text itself. As David Norbrook notes: “It…becomes hard to separate the text from the margin, what is inside the poem from what is outside” (xxviii). This is a useful framework through which to approach Hutchinson’s representation of Eve, and her use of complaint―the intertextual relationships of Order and Disorder with other Hutchinson writings point to the ways in which the epic aspirations of the poem are constantly being broken, or disrupted.42 Canto 5 is not the only place in Order and Disorder where complaint is evoked―it is there in the description of the birds in Canto 2: “The nightingales with their complaining notes” (2.267) and is the overarching frame for Hutchinson’s regret at the failure of republicanism. Elegy, as Smith et al., note, is one of the directions in which women writers in particular take complaint, adapting it to new circumstances and orientating it away from a focus on the fallen female body and its problematic relationship to speech.43 Hutchinson’s incorporation of complaint into Order and Disorder allows Hutchinson to modulate the traditional associations of complaint and move to resolution, to redemption, within a traditional patriarchal framework by evoking the associations of elegy.



Whilst adhering closely to the biblical sources, Hutchinson does not stress Eve’s secondariness in the same way that Milton does, arguing instead that Adam has a lack that Eve perfects: “We, late of one made two, again in one/Shall reunite” (3.406–7). Eve is represented in sensual terms that imply her fallen nature: With longing eyes looks on the lovely fruit, First nicely plucks, then eats with full delight, And gratifies her murderous appetite. (4.210–12)

For Hutchinson, following Genesis closely (3.16), women’s subjugation to men is the consequence of Eve’s fall, their lack of liberty their penance: What disappointments find they in the end; Constant uneasinesses which attend The best condition of the wedded state, Giving all wives sense of the curse’s weight, Which makes them ease and liberty refuse. And with strong passion their own shackles choose. (5.133–8)

Her Eve is not the innocent victim of Satan’s machinations, but fully complicit in her own fall, and the tyranny to which women are subject is the consequence of fallen human nature (“golden fetters, soft-lined yokes, still be/Though gentler curbs, but curbs of liberty” [5.141–2]) This has a direct bearing on the way in which Hutchinson deploys complaint in her poem, not as the impotent cry of a wronged but irredeemable woman, but as the medium for abject confession of fault and contrition. In this she re-­ orientates the failed performative of Ovidian complaint whilst revealing the price of this resolution. The female subject may be brought back into social discourse, but at the cost of her autonomy. That Eve’s speech in Canto 5 is meant to be read through the generic lens of complaint is not in doubt, and Hutchinson clearly has Eve’s speech responding to Adam’s long complaint in Book 10 of Paradise Lost in mind. Milton has Eve speak, “tresses all disordered,” “with tears that ceased not flowing” (10.911; 910), prostrate at his feet, begging him not to forsake her. Milton uses the term “plaint” (10.913) to introduce this speech, allying Eve with the sexually fallen and bereft heroines of Ovidian complaint. Unlike those women, though, Eve’s penance ultimately proves successful, and is a key link in the argument that leads Adam and Eve to grace, mercy and the possibility of redemption. In Order and Disorder



Eve’s complaint is not an answer to Adam, but is preceded by a rather more conventional environment, the natural world marked by chaos and discord: “woe and danger had beset them round,/Distressed without, within no comfort found” (5.389–90). Hutchinson breaks the narrative frame of the poem in order to introduce Eve’s complaint: Methinks I hear sad Eve in some dark vale Her woeful state with such sad plaints bewail: (5.399–400)

This is very overt generic signalling in relation to voice, speaker and context. The text of the lines that follow (5.401–442) with a few alterations is found in the Nottingham manuscript along with numerous other elegies transcribed by Julius Hutchinson. This one, 2A, is “transcribed out of my other book.”44 Many of its key ideas, notably about the non-­immediacy of death, are also found in Adam’s complaint in Milton, although here Eve articulates them using “we” not “I”―this passage departs from the scriptural text and re-aligns the complaint tradition with loss and despair.45 The first half focusses on their joint suffering and desire for immediate death; the second shifts the argument to Eve’s own guilt using the first person. Like the earlier passage in Canto 5, the vision of Adam is a source of pain and grief to Eve―she is abject and ashamed, with exile from Eden represented as loss: “If I cast back my sorrow-drownèd eyes,/I see our ne’er to be recovered Paradise”(5.427–28). Eve’s narrative is intertwined with the other context for this passage―the death of John Hutchinson and his absence from the estate at Owthorpe.46 Norbrook notes that “it may at first seem hard to see why she should cast herself as Eve who had lost the paradise” (“Elegies,” 481), yet this presupposes a close identification between the “I” of Eve and the “I” of the narrator/author, and underplays the use of ethopoeia here―Hutchinson moves the verbs found in the elegy from past to present tense in the complaint (does/doth; lov’d/love). Eve’s guilt and despair echoes not so much Milton’s Eve, as Adam’s railing at Eve’s betrayal of him:           But for thee I had persisted happy, had not thy pride And wandering vanity, when least was safe Rejected my forewarning (PL 10. 873–76)



Like Milton’s Eve (“both have sinned, but thou/Against God only, I against God and thee” [10.930–31]), Hutchinson’s stresses her betrayal of the marital bond―indeed, this is primary in this account: “Seeing the man I love by me betrayed,/By me, who for his mutual help was made” (O&D 5.435–6), transposing Milton’s language of male abandonment (itself derived from complaint) into a female-voiced narrative. Her despair has meaning only within the ideal of companionate marriage (“mutual help”) for which she here―successfully―pleads. The structure of Canto 5, with Eve’s speech being followed by Adam’s, recapitulates the dynamic of the fall, and here Eve is positioned so as to cede authority to Adam’s superior knowledge and understanding, and thus to restore proper order. This chapter has looked at a selection of poetic articulations using the figures of Eve and Adam to explore how “complaint” retains and modulates its functions when it is incorporated into other―particularly narrative poetic―forms. The marking off/out of complaint within longer narratives presupposes that readers bring a series of codes and reading conventions to complaints positioned within texts, and that they are easily able to recognise the generic markers that prompt them to activate these codes. They are thus expected to understand the significance of both adherence to and departure from the established topoi. Such set-pieces raise questions about the nature of complaint―the contingent authority of the speaker; the ways in which articulation is predicated on and mediated through the body; questions of guilt, blame and redress; and the tensions between stasis and change. This hybridity provides speaking authority for women writers―Anne Southwell asking her reader/God to “give mee leave to plead my Grandams cause”; Aemilia Lanyer using the model of “Apologie” to voice her defence of Eve derived from the querelle des femmes, an authority that is impossible to derive from maleauthored models for female speech. The writers examined here (Lanyer, Southwell, Hutchinson, Milton) all―in different ways―use the model of ethopoiea derived from Ovid and blend this with traditions of biblical commentary and exegesis to provide explorations of Adam and Eve which move beyond the prompts provided by Genesis. By attending to the ideas of abjection and embodiment implicit in the biblical narrative and using the mode of complaint to make these explicit, they assert the centrality of complaint to the representation of gender and voice. Just as important, however, is women writers’ consistent evasion of the largely Ovidian model deployed so centrally by Milton, where the occupation of the



female subject position by the male voice reveals that mode’s patriarchal logic precisely because it is disconnected from the “heuristic possibility” of the female voice.

Notes 1. The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer, ed. Susanne Woods (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); The Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book, ed. Jean Klene (Folger MS.V.b.198), Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 147 (Tempe, AZ, 1997); John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Alistair Fowler, 2nd edition (Abingdon: Longman, 1997); Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, ed. David Norbrook (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001). All subsequent references will be made parenthetically in the body of the text, by title/ page/line number or book/canto and line number. 2. See Danielle Clarke, “‘Formd into Words by Your Divided Lips’: Women, Rhetoric and the Ovidian Tradition,” in “This Double Voice”: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England, ed. Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000), 41–60; and Lynn Enterline, The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 3. See Three Renaissance Women Poets, ed. Danielle Clarke (London: Penguin, 2001). 4. Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah C. E. Ross, “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 339–59. 5. Susan Wiseman, “Researching Early Modern Women and the Poem,” in Susan Wiseman, ed. Early Modern Women and the Poem (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 15, citing this phrase from Rosalind Smith’s essay in the same volume. See Rosalind Smith, “A ‘goodly sample’: exemplarity, female complaint and early modern women’s poetry,” in Early Modern Women and the Poem, ed. Susan Wiseman (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 195.  6. Jane Grogan, “Style, Objects, and Heroic Values in Early Modern Epic,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 57, no.1 (2017): 23. 7. See Peter Auger, “The Semaines’ Dissemination in England and Scotland until 1641,” Renaissance Studies 26, no.5 (2012): 625–40. He notes the importance of the poems’ “non-fictional content and close links to other branches of learning: the Semaines intertwine poetry, classical learning, natural philosophy, world history and rhetoric” (626). Auger’s detailed survey of the reception of Du Bartas does not include women writers, although he notes Anne Bradstreet’s praise of the poet, and that Milton certainly knew the Semaines (640). See also Robert Applebaum, “Judith Dines Alone: From the Bible to Du Bartas,” Modern Philology 111, no. 4



(2014): 683–710 and Peter Auger, “Printed Marginalia, Extractive Reading and Joshua Sylvester’s Devine Weekes (1605),” Modern Philology 113, no. 1 (2015): 66–87. 8. Guillaume de Salsute du Bartas, His Devine Weekes and Workes Translated, trans. Joshua Sylvester (London, 1605). All subsequent references are to this edition, and are included in the text. 9. See Smith, O’Callaghan and Ross, “Complaint,” 339–59. 10. Text in Poems, ed. Woods, 128–138. See John Kerrigan, ed., Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint”: A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) for an overview. 11. See Sarah C. E. Ross, Women, Poetry and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Femke Molekamp, Women and the Bible in Early Modern England: Religious Reading and Writing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Erica Longfellow, Women and Religious Writing in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Biblical Women in Early Modern Literary Culture 1550–1700, ed. Victoria Brownlee and Laura Gallagher (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015) and Victoria Brownlee, Biblical Readings and Literary Writings in Early Modern England 1558–1625 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). 12. David Norbrook’s edition of Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder has a useful introduction to this topic, xliii–lii. See also Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, Forms of Engagement: Women, Poetry and Culture 1640–1680 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Ch. 5. 13. See Elizabethan Minor Epics, ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (London: Routledge Kegan Paul, 1963). 14. See Hutchinson, “Eve, quickly caught in the foul hunter’s net” (O&D, 4.203). 15. See Elizabeth Isham, Book of Remembrance, http://web.warwick.ac.uk/ english/perdita/Isham/bor_p31r.htm, accessed 25 January 2019; Ann Bowyer’s commonplace book, Bodleian MS Ashmole 51. See Peter Auger, “British Responses to Du Bartas’ Semaines” (D Phil thesis, Oxford 2013). 16. See https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-great-picture/ugHL4_ ozVj1f3g 17. Auger, “Dissemination,” 634. 18. In Poems, ed. Woods, subsequently abbreviated as SDRJ. 19. See also the Ovidian figure of Philomela, here turned lamenter, in “Description of Cooke-ham,” ll. 31; 189. 20. See Madeline Bassnett, Women, Food Exchange and Governance in Early Modern England (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016). 21. Cf. Southwell “Darest thou my muse thy Battlike winge/before the eyes of Brittanes mighty kinge,” BL Lansdowne MS, in Klene, ed. 124, ll.2–3 and on Lanyer’s use of birds, see Anne Beskin, “The Birds of Aemilia Lanyer’s



‘The Description of Cooke-ham’,” Modern Philology 114, no.3 (2017): 524–551. 22. On Drayton and complaint see Danielle Clarke, “Ovid’s Heroides, Drayton and the Articulation of the Feminine in the English Renaissance,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008): 385–400; and Alison Thorne, “‘Large complaints in little papers’: Negotiating Ovidian Genealogies of Complaint in Drayton’s Englands Heroicall Epistles,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008): 368–384. 23. The title is derived from the marginal note, Woods, 84. 24. Most complaint narratives voiced by women are responses to acts of violation—whether physical or symbolic—and as such they operate in an extra-­ juridical space (just as negative reaction to #metoo focussed on “trial by media” and repeatedly asked why “genuine” victims did not have recourse to legal process rather than the often anonymised calling out done over social media, where the act of testifying in that space was often seen by detractors to invalidate the complaint), precisely because legal redress with its focus on the burden of proof in response to acts which take place in hidden or private spaces, and with its need to give both parties a fair hearing even where profound inequalities of power exist between the two parties, proves an ineffective tool for women to find justice. 25. “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, ‘Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him’” [27:19]. Lanyer’s use of the Bible, quoted here from the 1599 Geneva Bible, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=genesis+2%3A22&version=GNV. 26. See Du Bartas, Devine Weekes, 311, quoted above. 27. Wiseman, “Researching,” 15. 28. See, for example, the marginal address “To my Ladie of Cumberland,” Woods, 101, and similar addresses at 108 and 122. 29. On Lanyer and female spirituality, see Anne-Marie D’Arcy, “Ecclesia, Anima, and Spiritual Priesthood in Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum,” Review of English Studies 66 (2015): 634–54. 30. Gillian Wright, Producing Women’s Poetry, 1600–1730: Text and Paratext, Manuscript and Print (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 27. This chapter is an invaluable account of the complexities of the Folger MS. 31. On women and law, and petitioning see Laura Gowing, Domestic Dangers: Women, Words and Sex in Early Modern London (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996); Naomi McAreavey, “An Epistolary Account of the Irish Rising of 1641,” English Literary Renaissance 42, no. 2 (2012): 90–118; and Marie-Louise Coolahan, Women, Writing and Language in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), Ch. 3 and 4.



32. http://www.oed.com.ucd.idm.oclc.org/view/Entry/58322?redirectedF rom=dulcify#eid. Southwell’s use of the multiple meanings of this term predates the OED examples. 33. 1599 Geneva Bible https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=gen esis+2%3A22&version=GNV. 34. See “All married men”: “When god brought Eve to Adam for a bride/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” (20, ll.5–8). I owe this connection to Christina Luckyj, who generously shared her insights on Southwell with me. 35. Barbara K.  Lewalski, Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (Ithaca: Princeton University Press, 1985) notes that various forms of the “complaint-lament” (106) spread throughout Books 9–12 (103). Most commentators focus on Milton’s use of Ovidian precedent, even though there is little in Adam’s speech to align him with this model specifically. Complaint has been activated as a frame to think about Paradise Lost to a relatively limited extent; Victoria Kahn’s suggestive article on Job’s complaint in Paradise Regained argues that Milton was “less interested in…hermeneutical closure than he was in the ongoing process of interpretation enjoined by scripture itself,” “Job’s Complaint in Paradise Regained,” English Literary History 76, no. 3 (2009): 626. 36. See Shannon Miller, “Maternity, Marriage, and Contract: Lucy Hutchinson’s Response to Patriarchal Theory in ‘Order and Disorder’,” Studies in Philology 102, no. 3 (2005): 340–377; and a response to this position in Lauren Shook, “‘Pious Fraud’: Genesis Matriarchs and the Typological Imagination in Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder,” Modern Philology 112, no. 1 (2014): 179–204. 37. Kilgour, Milton, 225. 38. Contrast, for example, Southwell’s description of the rib as a “Piller” and thus the foundation of the Church: “God tooke a Marble Piller and did build/a little world with all perfection fill’d” (ll.9–14). 39. Hutchinson, “Poor mankind at God’s righteous bar was cast/And set for judgement by” (5.ll, 57–8). 40. OED, devolve v. 3 a + b, https://www-oed-com.ucd.idm.oclc.org/view/ Entry/51553?redirectedFrom=devolve#eid 41. Scott-Baumann, Forms of Engagement, ch. 5. 42. See Grogan, “Style, Objects,” “punctuated by interruptions, stoppages,” 23. 43. Smith et al., “Complaint.” 44. Hutchinson, “Elegies” (Nottinghamshire Archives) in David Norbrook, “Lucy Hutchinson’s ‘Elegies’ and the Situation of the Republican Woman Writer,” English Literary Renaissance 27 (1997): 490.



45. See Norbrook, Order and Disorder: “It is Eve who is given the first human utterance in the poem that breaks away from the Biblical text to dramatize an individualized voice” (xlvi). 46. Julius Hutchinson suggests that the poem was written while John Hutchinson was imprisoned in 1664 (O&D 79, n. ccxcvi).


Complaint’s Echoes Sarah C. E. Ross

From off a hill whose concaue wombe reworded, A plaintfull story from a sistring vale My spirrits t’attend this doble voyce accorded, And downe I laid to list the sad tun’d tale, Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale Tearing of papers, breaking rings atwaine, Storming her world with sorrowes wind and raine. Shakespeare, A Lover’s Complaint (1–7) Unseene, unknowne, I here alone complaine To Rocks, to Hills, to Meadowes, and to Springs, Which can no helpe returne to ease my paine, But back my sorrowes the sad Eccho brings. Thus still encreasing are my woes to me, Doubly resounded by that monefull voice, Which seemes to second me in miserie, And answere gives like friend of mine owne choice. Thus onely she doth my companion prove,

S. C. E. Ross (*) Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_9




The others silently doe offer ease: But those that grieve, a grieving note doe love; Pleasures to dying eies bring but disease: And such am I, who daily ending live, Wayling a state which can no comfort give. Mary Wroth, Sonnet 1, Urania 1

An unnamed woman in a landscape bewails her woes. She is alone, her mournful cries resounding from the rocks and hills of her otherwise empty environs and producing, in echo, the “double voice” to which the narrator attunes his listening ear. So the fickle maid of Shakespeare’s A Lover’s Complaint (1609) pours out her woes to “a hill whose concaue wombe reworded/A plaintfull story from a sistring vale”; and so the “mournfull Sisters” of Spenser’s The Teares of the Muses, a centrepiece of his Complaints (1591), pour forth their “piteous plaints and sorowfull sad tine [loss]” (11, 3). Here, the hills that formerly rang with the joyful song of the nine Muses, “from which their siluer voyces/Were wont redoubled Echoes to rebound” now “rebound with nought but ruefull cries” (21–3).2 These woeful women are the female voices of complaint, the amorphous and multivalent mode that finds its high poetic apogee in the 1590s, with Spenser’s Complaints, Samuel Daniel’s The Complaint of Rosamond (1592), and Michael Drayton’s England’s Heroicall Epistles (1597). Complaint permeates and proliferates through a wide range of texts and genres in the Renaissance, as the chapters in this volume explore: its boundaries are porous, and its sources (Ovidian, biblical, legal) and applications (amorous, religious, political) are multiple and diverse, in the hands of women writers as well as men. But one of its most recognisable forms remains the pastoral complaint poem epitomised in Shakespeare’s and Spenser’s examples, in which an implicitly male narrator comes across a woman alone in the landscape. In these poems, Echo—like the woman’s tears and cries, her abandonment, and the rocky hills and groves in which she is found—is a “marker” of the complaint mode. It is a recurrent trope, enacting and figuring the obsessive repetition and amplification of female woe, adding to the speaker’s articulation of abandonment, and creating an affective tenor of disempowerment and despair at the same time as its redoublings work to inscribe the essential inscrutability of the female speaker to her male auditor. Echo is a ubiquitous presence in pastoral complaint poetry, but she is an unlovely figure in much critical discussion of it. John Kerrigan muses



on Echo, the myth and the trope, in Motives of Woe, his influential consideration of “female complaint” poetry. He focuses on Echo/echo’s deceptiveness, its distortions and falsehoods: echoes, he says, “pluck words out of context and return them partially,” and so their accounts are inaccurate and even mendacious. Citing Iago’s monstrous repetitions of Othello’s horrors during Act Three of that play, Kerrigan concludes that echo, “by any measure” is “calculated to deceive,” and that “any voice, echoing, might properly invite doubt.”3 Such partiality and distortion are central to very many depictions of Echo, beginning with the Ovidian source-story that defines most Renaissance uses of the trope. The transformation of the “babling Nymph” in Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a wasting of her body into bone and then into stone, and a diminution of her voice until she has no power of her own to begin to speak. Juno’s curse upon her, that she has only the choice “of many words the latter to repeate,” is a sentence explicitly related to her prior habit of deluding with her tongue.4 And for feminist scholars, Echo has been remarkably resistant to recuperation as a myth through which to read a positive relation between the female body and language.5 For Danielle Clarke, interested in early modern female speech and authorship, Echo provides a contrary and ambiguous legacy. Clarke sees speaking and writing women as occupying an “echographic” relationship to the texts they replicate or the rhetorical positions into which they step: their articulated selves are always “echoic,” secondary, distorted, and displaced.6 In keeping with much of her work on early modern women’s relationship to rhetorical possibilities, Clarke sees the trope of Echo as doing little to enable autonomous female speech that moves beyond “culturally determined representations.”7 The trope of Echo, like Ovidian female-voiced complaint itself, is already overdetermined.8 Other possibilities, however, are contained in the complex mythology of Echo. If women writers occupy an echographic relationship to the rhetorical positions into which they step, so too do all writers of the Renaissance, and perhaps all writers per se. Laurel Fulkerson and Tim Stover are among the classical scholars who argue that repetition is a crucial principle of Ovidian poetics.9 And Lynn Enterline emphasises the role of imitatio in her exploration of humanist educational practices. She describes in this context Echo’s “capacity to name humanism’s foundational literary practice”: “one cannot underestimate how closely her verbal predicament resembles the kind of language training that classicizing poets … experienced at school.”10 Enterline’s analysis of the humanist schoolroom has placed not only Echo, but also the early modern



rhetorical practice of complaint, into a broader context in which schoolboys imitated classical exemplars. She emphasises exactly the techniques of echoic imitation through which Shakespeare and his male contemporaries created “effects of personal character and feeling.”11 And if all writers’ (male and female) relationship to rhetorical expression, including that of woe, is in this way echoic, then Echo also often constitutes or facilitates other more positive dynamics of expression and reply in early modern texts. S. L. Anderson explores the elements in Ovid’s tale of Narcissus and Echo—and in particular translations of it—that emphasise the echoing voice as a call to join, or that construe the answers of Echo to Narcissus as a pleasing repetition to him of his own feelings and words.12 In complaints such as Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey’s “Complaint of the Absence of her Louer Being Vpon the Sea” (“O Happy Dames”), the speaker calls exactly for other lovers to lend their voices to her in echoes of her woe: “Good Ladies, help to fill my moorning voice.”13 As these diverse interrogations of Echo’s resonances reveal, it is a capacious myth with multiple and often contradictory affordances. This chapter seeks to interrogate an affirmative set of possibilities among these affordances: to explore a reading of Echo and its place in female-­ voiced complaint poetry that runs counter to critical narratives of isolation, distortion, and deception. I step off from an example that Danielle Clarke discusses as extraordinary: the opening sonnet in Lady  Mary Wroth’s prose romance, Urania.14 Urania here “alone complaine[s]/To Rocks, to Hills, to Meadowes, and to Springs,/Which can no helpe returne to ease my pain.” Echo returns her sorrows to her, “increasing” her woes, but in this echoic seconding of her miseries, Urania finds an “answer” from “a friend of mine own choice.” Echo here is a companion, a female companion in woe, and it is this sense of echoic female collectivity that I want to explore, not least because it seems to cut across what is most often seen as the central affective dynamic of female-voiced complaint. Within a female-voiced, male-audited aural and affective economy, complaint is typically defined by a failure of dialogue. It is an unanswered apostrophe, “a grievance that cannot be resolved, leveled … against someone who will not respond.”15 But if attention is turned instead to the female-voiced, female-audited exchanges embedded within the pastoral complaint, Echo doubling the voice of the lamenting woman in the landscape, she very often becomes the vital figure of female dialogue to which Wroth’s opening sonnet points. In the discussion that follows, I seek explicitly to consider Echo’s relationship with the female voices she replicates and returns,



as a figure of answer that embeds a female dialogue within the femalevoiced complaint poem. John Milton’s A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle and Hester Pulter’s pastoral complaint poems are, I will argue, female-voiced complaint texts in which Echo and her sister nymphs are “friend[s] of mine own choice,” answering voices within the landscape through which a female community is constructed. Contiguous as she is with a plethora of other female nymphs in the complaint landscape, Echo becomes a device through which female poetic speakers engage with self, place, and politics, each other, and their audience beyond the text, constructing a natural and feminised “sympathy of woes.”

Milton’s Comus: The Lady and “Sweet Echo” I would like to begin with a text that may seem surprising, but the potential for Echo to figure female answer within the landscape is not restricted to female-authored texts. John Milton’s A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle (1634), otherwise known as Comus, was first performed in 1634, and printed in 1637, most likely at the instigation of Henry Lawes, who had performed in it and set Milton’s songs to music. “Sweet Echo” is the first of the masque’s songs, a two-stanza lyric sung by the Lady near the opening of the masque as she is lost in the woods and about to meet the wiles of her Bacchanalian antagonist. The Echo song is, on one level, a late example of the echo set-piece popular in pastoral, dramatic entertainments: the entertainment for Elizabeth I at Kenilworth in 1575 featured a wittily revealing echo as a hermit’s words are repeated back to him. The entertainment for the queen at Bisham in 1592 also exploited the dramatic and musical potential of Echo in the landscape.16 Milton’s Echo song is not a formal echo device, however, as those were; as John Hollander points out, it eschews “any element of schematic textual echo.”17 It is, rather, a lyric in the vein of the female-voiced pastoral complaint, with Echo as a myth and a figure to whom the abandoned woman appeals, which becomes an intricate and mellifluous aria in Lawes’s musical setting. Most particularly, the lyric stands in a distinct and vital relationship to the expression of such female-voiced woe, as it was written for and performed in 1634 by Lady Alice Egerton, the fifteen-year-old youngest daughter of the Earl of Bridgewater, and talented pupil of Lawes. Comus, then, may have been penned by another of the most canonical male authors, but its Echo song and the complaint it enacts represent a performance of “female complaint” that was voiced and embodied in the most literal of ways.



“Sweet Echo” calls out to be read as participating in the conventions of the female-voiced pastoral complaint lyric: Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph that liv’st unseen Within thy airy shell By slow Meander’s margent green, And in the violet-embroidered vale Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well. Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair That likest thy Narcissus are? O if thou have Hid them in some flowery cave, Tell me but where Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere. So mayst thou be translated to the skies, And give resounding grace to all heaven’s harmonies. (229–242)18

The Lady is encoded as a male-authored, female-voiced complainant: she is a “poor hapless nightingale” (565), alone in the woods, separated from her bumbling younger brothers who—in an act of extreme carelessness— have “lost her while we came.” The “violet-embroidered vale” she inhabits is sad and solitary: “Thievish Night” has filled the potentially joyful grove of pastoral with “shadows dire” (to quote the Lady’s preceding soliloquy), placing her firmly in the perversion of the pastoral landscape in which complaint is typically set. The Lady’s isolation and abandonment, her situation on the bank of a stream, and the “love-lorn” nightingale who sings a “sad song” are all complaint markers—as is her appeal to Echo. The Echo song, moreover, amplifies upon woe in an acoustical as well as a verbal way, translating into the musical sphere the aesthetic of elaboration and rhetorical virtuosity that marks the poetic complaint. Its musical setting is intricate and expressive: expanding on the pathos of her solo setting, the song becoming an extended and virtuosic aria that moves a long way from the schematic echo device of earlier pastoral masques. Alice Egerton’s performance of the song must have embodied not only her chaste vulnerability but also—in its melodiousness and the beauty of her performance—a version of the affective grace and heavenly harmony which she attributes to Echo in her song’s final lines.19 Her song, certainly, had to carry sufficient affective power to prompt Comus’s response: “Can



any mortal mixture of earth’s mould/Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?” (243–4). If the Echo song can, then, be read and heard as a female-voiced, female-performed complaint, its figuration of Echo is much closer to Mary Wroth’s engagement of the myth and the trope than it is to John Kerrigan’s narrative of distortion and duplicity. The Lady appeals to an Echo who is explicitly “Sweet,” not once but twice: “Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph,” the song opens, in a verbal echo that Lawes’s musical setting treats as a repeated apostrophe.20 Echo is the “Sweet queen of parley” in the lyric’s second stanza: she is a potential interlocutor, to whom the Lady sings in explicit hope of answer and assistance. Milton’s version of Echo here relies more on the Homeric myth of Pan and Echo than on the Ovidian one of Echo and Narcissus; this more musical version of Echo accounts in part for her potential for heavenly harmoniousness in Milton’s masque.21 Nonetheless, more generally, I suggest that in focusing on examples where Echo’s doublings are treacherous or monstrous, we miss other examples where they are sweet, friendly, companionable, and indicative of sympathy and harmony. Crucially, the Lady’s Echo song, and the auditor to whom it gestures, forces us to adjust our sense of priority in address and audience, apostrophe and auditor: the Echo to whom the Lady sings is imagined as a kind of second self in the landscape whom, the Lady hopes, is capable of understanding and response. Considerations of Echo in the female-voiced complaint have tended to focus on the inscrutability of the female voice to male speakers and auditors, furthering the aestheticisation already inherent in the genre of the violated weeping woman, even fetishising the mystery and pathos of the female voice. Such approaches, I suggest, tend to miss another dialectic present in these poems, another use of Echo: to figure female-female dialogue, and to figure an empathetic voice in the landscape that provides a friendly answer to the complaining woman—a voice that is female, responsive, and resonating. Indeed, it is the responsiveness of Echo to the Lady’s apostrophe that is most at stake at this moment in the masque. Echo is silent, except within the delicate musical motifs of the Lady’s song, and the song is heard and answered instead by Comus himself, who is ravished by the sound of the Lady’s voice and vows to make her his queen; from here, her beguilement and entrapment in his lair proceeds. Echo’s silence at the end of the song has been read predominantly as indicative of the Lady’s extreme solitude and danger: even Echo does not heed her call.22 But even within this reading, Echo is implicitly the Lady’s friend, a voice that ought to answer her



own in comfort and aid. It is Comus, not Echo, who is monstrous: mendacity lies in the interpretative space between the complaining Lady and the male auditor who overhears her, not between the Lady and her (potential) echo. And if Echo’s silence at this point propels the plot of the masque, and the intensification of the Lady’s danger, then it is Echo’s sister-nymph, Sabrina, who provides the Lady’s final salvation. Sabrina’s ascent is, in the words of Joseph Loewenstein, “the supreme example of postponed response” in a masque defined by delay; and like Katherine Larson, I would suggest that “Sabrina and Echo, as chaste sirens of air and water, are connected much more closely than is usually recognized.”23 Sabrina provides the answer to the Lady’s song that has not come earlier— the masque, after all, must have its action—and as the nymph of the River Severn, Sabrina is a feminine genius loci who is closely related to Echo as another mythic prototype of woman’s fusion with the landscape. If Echo’s silence at the opening of the masque is a moment of failed female dialogue, Sabrina’s intervention at its conclusion figures an answer—at last— to the Lady’s call. Sabrina’s ascent is a late fulfilment of Lady’s call to Echo, illustrating the potential efficacy of the complaining woman’s call to the nymphs of the landscape she inhabits.

Hester Pulter’s Sympathy of Woes Such a reading of Comus, and of its pairing of Echo and Sabrina, relies on a sense of fluid embodiment and disembodiment in the metamorphic nymphs of the pastoral landscape—one in which the voices of female nymphs retain the gender of their vestigial bodies, and are capable of response to female call within the landscape of complaint. This is the connection I would like to draw between Milton’s Comus and the pastoral complaint poems of Lady Hester Pulter, a corpus in which Echo herself does not feature, but in which the landscape of complaint is replete with feminine, metamorphic nymphs who “answer give like friend of mine own choice.” Pulter may well have known Comus—her sister, Lady Margaret Ley, was a friend of Milton’s and addressee of his “Sonnet X”—but my argument here is broader than one of influence or specific echo. It is that in the tropes of female-voiced pastoral complaint, exemplified for the purposes of this chapter so far in Comus, there is a latent dialectic that is often overlooked, between the female plainant and the echoing, nymphous presences in the ostensibly “deserted” landscape that she occupies.



Such presences proliferate across Pulter’s pastoral complaint poems, which are set in an animated version of her Hertfordshire landscape where, as an ardent royalist, she claims that she spent the years of the Civil Wars and republic “shut up in a country grange.”24 “The Invitation into the Country, to my Dear Daughters, M.P., P.P., 1647, when his Sacred Majesty was at Unhappy Hour” begins by urging her daughters Margaret and Penelope away from the desolate cityscape of a kingless London to the country estate of Broadfield, before (part-way through the poem) the country itself becomes the perversion of pastoral that marks the landscape of complaint: Enamelled vales and crystal streams Prove now alas poor Broadfield’s dreams. Lea’s drooping swans now sadly sing, And Beane comes weeping from her spring; Mimram and Stort in mourning weeds, Showing their hearts for grief e’en bleeds; All run to Lea for some relief And in her bosom pour their grief; Thus she and they all weeping go To tell the Thames their grievous woe. (91–100)

In Pulter’s poetic version of Broadfield and Hertfordshire, the speaker’s grief at England’s political state is matched at length in that of birds, flowers, and, here, rivers, all of whom give voice, and sighs and tears, to their woe. The swans on the river Lea sing sadly; so do the rivers themselves, pouring their grief into each other. So too, as the poem progresses, do naiads, hamadryads, and oreads (nymphs of rivers, woods, and mountains), all of whom sit and weep and sport no more. The naiads “sit in ranks” on the banks of Gray’s Spring and “garlands make of willow boughs/To hide their tears and shade their brows” (128–132). Philomel “sit[s] alone,” and “To senseless trees now makes her moan” (135–6), but her mournful song awakes the landscape around her. The hamadryades invoke “the goddesses enshrined in oaks,” who fold mournful arms across themselves, and trees proceed to weep gum from their “sad eyes” (142, 145). Just as Mary Wroth’s speaker receives an “answer from a friend of mine own choice” in Echo, so Pulter’s woeful speaker finds replication of her voice through the animated rivers and groves of Broadfield and Hertfordshire. Her fluvial personifications are indebted to the river



nymphs of Drayton’s Poly-Olbion (1612), as well as to Spenser’s The Ruines of Time; like Drayton’s river nymphs, Spenser’s Verlame, and Milton’s Sabrina, they are also genii loci, operating to valorise (in this case) Pulter’s places, and to inscribe them with voiced versions of her own personal and political identity.25 Pulter’s nymphs of Hertfordshire, like Echo in the foundational texts of pastoral complaint, become extended or second selves for the woeful speaker, and for each other, as they amplify and multiply the articulation of personal and political discontent. Crucially, the nymphous voices of Pulter’s complaint landscape are figured as voices of sympathy for the speaker’s—and each other’s—woe. The rivers Mimram and Stort run to the river Lea “for some relief” in the lines quoted above, and the theme of fluvial grief shared continues in the lines immediately following: Ver looks and sees this shire look sad; She whirls about as she were mad, Round Verulam, his ruined stones She runs, and tells to Colne her moans; For since her saint his blood was shed She never grieved so, as she said. Colne sympathised with her in woe And to the Thames resolved to go. (101–108; emphasis mine)

That the River Colne “sympathises with” the River Ver “in woe” is a defining formulation here, as the complaint of one river joins with the identical complaint of the next, to create an amplified articulation of feeling. Such communal expression of identical loss is all that is possible in the echoic complaint landscape, but the responsive sharing of its expression in itself mitigates as well as amplifies. Pulter’s speaker suggests as much as she describes the trees that weep gum from their eyes in the later lines of the poem: “Though they can give us no relief/They’ll sympathise with us in grief” (147-8). Relief is impossible and yet the seconding of woe generates the quality of sympathy between speakers, in which woe sounded and woe resounded is woe shared. Pulter’s emphasis on the sympathetic collectivity taps into what is already a privileged linguistic and conceptual relationship between “sympathy” and woe, dating back at least to the 1590s. The two terms are, strikingly, harnessed to each other in Act 3 of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, in which Titus iterates the woes of his silenced daughter, the Andronici, and the riven Roman state. After a messenger reflects



that “woe is me to think upon thy woes/More than remembrance of my father’s death,” and after Lavinia is unable to communicate her own distress, Titus expostulates, “O, what a sympathy of woe is this” (3.1.149). Richard Meek argues that this line constitutes “an important moment in the history of the word sympathy,” a moment at which the word invokes not just an agreement, accord, or consonance of feeling (OED 2), but a sense of “likeness of grief” (emphasis mine), of emotional comparability and pity.26 Certainly, Pulter’s rivers “sympathise with [each other] in woe” not just in the sense of having a conformity of disposition, but in that of answering each other’s woes, of “being affected by the condition of another with a feeling similar or corresponding to that of the other,” and of therefore having the capacity to enter into a “community of feeling” that is mutually constituted.27 Pulter’s woeful Hertfordshire women—her originary speakers and their nymphous echoes in the landscape—are deeply Spenserian, indebted to The Ruines of Time, The Teares of the Muses, and the pastoral poems of Jacobean Spenserianism.28 But their collective woe is expressed in dialogue with each other rather than in the impersonal chorus created, for example, in The Teares of the Muses. In Spenser’s poem, each of the nine Muses delivers her complaint individually, one after the other, at the prompt of the framing, implicitly male narrator, whose own words direct the expression of lament and enact the transition from one Muse to the next. Clio is instructed, “Begin thou eldest Sister of the Crew,/And let the rest in order thee ensew” (53–4), and variations on this formulation introduce each of the next eight sisters: “So ended shee: and then the next anew/ Began her grievous plaint as doth ensew” (113–4), and so on. This successive catalogue of complaint—lamentation in parallel—is in stark contrast to Pulter’s complaining nymphs, who form a dialogue with each other, unmediated by a male auditor, and replicating and creating a female community of woeful friends. Complaining women receive an answer of like kind in Pulter’s echoic dialogues, the dialogic exchange structuring the quality of sympathy. And while a conceptual step from Echo to dialogue might seem to be a substantive one, the former category suggesting only repetition and the latter an autonomous reply, the repetition of woe back to the speaker is, I would suggest, the only dialogue that the complaining women requires—or indeed desires. As Shakespeare’s poetic speaker reflects of Lucrece who, in her cares, “holds disputation with each thing she views”: “Grief best is pleased with grief’s society;/True sorrow then is feelingly sufficed/When with like semblance it is sympathised” (1101,



1111–13).29 The sentiment is echoed by Urania in her opening sonnet: “those that grieve, a grieving note do love.” In other words, a voice that “second[s] me in miserie” is far from being an empty or hollow reply; rather, it is exactly the voice—and the friend—in dialogue that she would choose. Such dialogic qualities undergird the echoic sympathy constituted in another of Pulter’s pastoral complaints, “A Dialogue Between Two Sisters, Virgins, Bewailing their Solitary Life, P.P., A.P.,” in which Pulter ostensibly voices two of her own daughters.30 Penelope and Anne are in formal dialogue with each other, sharing their almost-identical woes: Young Anne: Come, my dear sister, sit with me a while, That we both Time and Sorrow may beguile; In this sweet shade, by this clear, purling spring, We’ll sit and help poor Philomel to sing, And to complete the consort and the choir, I would I had my viol, you your lyre. Elder Pen: Ay me, my sister, Time on restless wheels Doth ever turn with wings upon his heels, Fast as the sand that huddles through his glass, Regardless of our tears, he on doth pass; Yet in the shade of this sad sycamore We’ll sit, our wants and losses to deplore, For all things here which do in order rise, Methinks in woe with us do sympathise. (1–14; emphasis mine)

Penelope’s sense that all elements of the landscape around her “in woe with us do sympathise” is then elaborated upon in an echoing language of likeness and conjuncture: “These cypress, like our hopes, do lesser grow”; “This bubbling fount like our sad eyes does flow”; “These primroses, like us, neglected fade”; and “With us, sad Hyacinthus sighs out ‘ay’” (15–16, 19, 21). Pulter’s deeply sympathetic natural landscape draws on a wider poetic that is both classical and early modern. It recalls the sympathetic landscape in Ovid’s Heroides 10, when Ariadne runs down to the sea to lament Theseus’s departure, and the shore and rocks echo her complaints. And among Pulter’s contemporary poets, “conscious groves” are a descriptor (and concept) that runs at least from Denham’s Cooper’s Hill through Aphra Behn and (in proliferation) the eighteenth century.31 A dedicatory poem to Torquato Tasso’s Aminta, a pastoral comedy, in Italian and English (1650) describes the way that Tasso’s “melting strains”



of love stir whispers in “the conscious Grove/The Fountains, Trees and Rocks, all tun’d to Love,” and stir whispers of similar feeling in the poet-­ speaker himself. Of his own response to Tasso’s lyrics, he describes, “Sympathy’s the Eccho to his Song.” Sir George Etheridge’s Daphnis, pining for Amarillis, roves “O’re Hills, and Dales, thro’ ev’ry conscious Grove,/Born by my restless Passion”: Aloud complaining; with my pitious Moans, I fill the sounding Rocks, and tire the list’ning Stones. Echo alone, my loud complaints, returns, Echo alone, with kind condoleance mourns.32

Such is Pulter’s conscious landscape of woeful sympathy, the rocks, trees, rivers, and groves echoing the complaints of her woeful women, returning condolence to them in the form of complaints returned: a grieving note to match the grieving notes of their own. This is an extended sense of Echo, one that speaks to a fluid interpenetration between the women who speak (in)to the complaint landscape, and those metamorphic nymphs who occupy it and who respond. As Penelope declares in “A Dialogue Between Two Sisters”: “O me, I would I might this very hour/Sigh my sad soul into this July flower;/Trust me, I gladly would transmigerate” (41–2). The proliferation of Pulter’s nymphs in the groves of Hertfordshire takes us well beyond Echo per se, but the contiguity of that female-voiced nymph with others in the landscape is, I hope, clear. And it is with Pulter’s self-transmigration into a related nymphous figure—Niobe—that I wish to conclude. Niobe, like Echo, is a nymph who is punished for her garrulousness: in myth, her children are taken from her on account of her excessive expression of maternal pride, and she turns to stone as her tears calcify her body. Like Echo, Niobe is a “mythic prototype ... of a woman’s fusion with stone,” in the words of Patricia Phillippy.33 She is also a crucial exemplar of the expression of female woe, for humanist schoolboys and early modern women alike.34 Pulter’s identification with Niobe feels inevitable: she was a mother of fifteen children, thirteen of whom predeceased her, and she fittingly concludes an elegy on her daughter Jane, “I turned a Niobe as she turned earth.”35 But Niobe also becomes another kind of genius loci in Pulter’s poems, as Pulter merges her with a figuration of Gray’s Spring, a natural water feature on the estate of Broadfield that features in several of her poems. It also features in surveys of the county of Hertfordshire, where it is described as one of the “petrifying springs in the



grounds of Broadfield and the parish of Clothall, which crust things that are laid in them.”36 In other words, its waters contained minerals which “petrified” objects it came into contact with, in the sense that it turned them into stone, or a stony substance, a “stony concretion” (OED 1). Construing herself as Niobe on the loss of her children, and associating herself with Gray’s Spring, Pulter is able to localise as well as personalise the image of herself as Broadfield’s Niobe, weeping for her losses and fusing herself with the stony women of the landscape. In this fusion of herself, Niobe, and Gray’s Spring, Pulter generates— perhaps surprisingly—a figure for her own speech, poetic authorship, and audience for her poems. In “The Invitation into the Country,” “Gray’s Spring, too, sadly makes her moan/And with her tears turns moss to stone” (123–4); and in another invitation poem to her daughters, her poetic speaker is stupefied into writing “sad fancies”: Come, my dear children, to this lonely place Where Gray’s cool, stupefying spring doth trace; Trust me, I think I of this fount partake, I am so dull, and such sad fancies make.37

Gray’s Spring is a complaint version of Helicon, one not dissimilar to “trembling streams” that now “overflowe with brackish teares” in The Teares of the Muses, replacing the “silver Springs” by which the Muses used to sit (25, 29, 4–5). Partaking of its waters, the poetic speaker herself becomes a calcified and calcifying genius loci, a Niobic (and Echoic) figure in her own landscape. And the petrifying waters of the spring are melded not only with Pulter’s Niobic transformation on the multiple deaths of her children but also with her pervasive trope of her poems as tears. Through this trope of tears, she figures her elegies and complaints as woes condensed for her audience, offered as palliatives for their own griefs: in one poem, “The Weeping Wish,” they are a bezoar, another kind of concretion, another kind of stone, that was believed to have medicinal or salving properties. “Hart’s briny tears a bezoar doth condense,” she writes: “O let mine eyes whole floods of tears dispense” (17–18). Her poems are these bezoars, concretions of woe, and so, as she turns Niobe at her specific maternal griefs and the more general desolation of the times, Pulter is not silenced. Rather, stony speech and stony tears are in her poems a figure, firstly, of woe shared with the nymphs of the landscape she inhabits and



with which she speaks to her daughters, and to an audience of friends; and, secondly, of woe concretised into the complaints and elegies that are her poems.

Sympathy’s the Echo to Her Song Echo has most often been read as a figure of the erosion, dispersal, and distortion of the female voice, even in relation to early modern women writers and their texts. I have outlined here, however, an alternative set of affordances offered by the capacious Echo myth, a set of affordances on which Wroth, Milton, and especially Pulter capitalise, for figuring answer, companionship, and a “sympathy of woes.” Such capaciousness in the myth and the trope of Echo have in fact  been long recognised. John Hollander refers in his resonant study to the wide range of possibilities available in the mythologies of the nymph: “mocking, lamenting, assenting, amplifying, and, indeed, interpreting.”38 To these I have added in the course of this chapter: answering, befriending, and sympathising, and doing so with feminine inflections, as a nymph whose voice carries vestigial inflections of her female body. The Lady of Comus and her Echo song illustrate the ways in which these possibilities are latent in canonical, male-­ authored pastoral texts, and in which Milton makes use of them in his masque: it is not only women writers who exploit the possibilities for Echo to figure a “companion” that “second[s] me in miserie,” a “friend of mine own choice.” But this possibility,  articulated by Wroth  and utilised by Milton, is embraced by Pulter, who creates a highly animated and densely populated landscape of sympathetic, and almost exclusively female, nymphous voices in her poetic Hertfordshire. This sense of complaint and her echoes is strikingly developed in later women writers’ work. Anne Killigrew’s complaining lover seeks out Echo, crying out to the hollow rocks “Ah! gentle Nymph come ease my Care,” and Charlotte Smith’s melancholy, wandering woman repeatedly trusts to Echo “the mournful tale/Which scarce I trust to pitying Friendship’s ears!”39 While Comus illustrates the complexities of parsing any distinctive uses of the trope by women writers from those by men, Pulter’s poetry may be suggestive of a longer trajectory from Wroth’s Urania to Charlotte Smith and beyond. One of my broader interests, in framing this chapter, has been in interrogating our sense of complaint as itself a kind of echo chamber, a mode in which woes amplify without answer or mitigation: woe without end.



Complaint often works as “a grievance that cannot be resolved, leveled … against someone who will not respond,” to recall Emily Shortslef’s astute description of its primary apostrophic force, but as Shortslef herself has explored, it also in doing so often imagines “virtual collectivities.” For Shortslef, complaint invokes and stands in place of a political community that is desired but past or absent.40 My argument here is related to this one. Each of the women who speak in the texts I have explored are ostensibly alone, but each calls out to an imagined friend in Echo and her sister nymphs; and each not only invokes or imagines a friend within the landscape, but each receives answer from one, or two, or, in Pulter’s case, many. The articulations of plaining, female selfhood receive sympathetic, feminine answers, creating collectivities within the landscapes of complaint that disturb, or run in counterpoint to, the broader frame of complaint’s unanswered apostrophe. This becomes a means of self-inscription for the poetic speaker, not least through the fusion of Echo and her sister nymphs with genii loci and the poetic work they do of valorising and claiming a landscape, with all of its local and political resonances. This woeful dialectic between complaining women also enables other dialogues, both intra- and extra-textual. Most clearly in Pulter’s “A Dialogue Between Two Sisters,” the natural sympathy of the grove in which the sisters sit echoes the dialogue between them, and in turn facilitates a further implied dialogue between the sisters and other audiences. Buoyed by the sharing of their woe, with each other and with “all things here which do in order rise,” the two sisters resolve at the end of the poem to “cease in vain to make our moan,/And go to our poor mother; she’s alone” (53–4). (Through the implications inherent in the poem’s occasional mode, their mother is Pulter herself, the author of the poem.) Complaint in Pulter’s poems remains affective rather than effectual—there is no remedy or redress, “no relief”—but as these examples illustrate, its exorbitant grief resounds in a dialogue between women and between women and a female-voiced landscape, one which constructs a sympathetic, intra- and extra-poetic female community. Echoing through Pulter’s poetic texts, complaint creates a community of female voices and in turn figures and creates its poetic audience, inviting readers and listeners to join, and to become a friend of the speaker’s own choice.



Notes 1. John Kerrigan, ed., Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint,” A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 209; The First Part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania by Lady Mary Wroth, ed. Josephine A. Roberts (Binghamton, NY: MRTS and RETS, 1995), 1–2. 2. The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spenser, ed. William A.  Oram et  al. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989), 269–91. 3. Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 44. 4. The XV Bookies of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis, trans. Arthur Golding (1567), III. 443–508, esp. 447–460. 5. Existing readings that work to do so include Caren Greenberg, “Reading Reading: Echo’s Abduction of Language,” in Women and Language in Literature and Society, ed. Sally McConnell-Ginet, Ruth Borker, and Nelly Furman (New York: Praeger, 1980), 300–9. 6. Danielle Clarke, “Speaking Women: Rhetoric and the Construction of Female Talk,” in Rhetoric, Women and Politics in Early Modern England, ed. Jennifer Richards and Alison Thorne (London and New  York: Routledge, 2007), 71–2. 7. Danielle Clarke, “Introduction,” in “This Double Voice”: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England, ed. Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), 2. 8. Danielle Clarke, “‘Formd into words by your divided lips’: Women, Rhetoric and the Ovidian Tradition,” in “This Double Voice,” 63, 77–8. 9. Laurel Fulkerson and Tim Stover, “Echoes of the Past,” in Repeat Performances: Ovidian Repetition and the Metamorphoses, ed. Fulkerson and Stover (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2016), esp. 3–4. 10. Lynn Enterline, “Instructive Nymphs: Andrew Marvell on Pedagogy and Puberty,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bate (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 32, 36. 11. See Enterline, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom: Rhetoric, Discipline, Emotion, especially Chapter 5, “‘What’s Hecuba to Him?’ Transferring Woe in Hamlet, The Rape of Lucrece, and The Winter’s Tale” (123). 12. S.L. Anderson, Echo and Meaning on Early Modern English Stages (Cham: Palgrave/Springer, 2018), 9–13. In Caxton’s 1480 prose translation, Narcissus “herd never voys that so moche plesed hym” (Anderson, 12). 13. See Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 126–7, and 43. 14. Clarke discusses this sonnet as a rare example in which Echo seems to offer a woman writer “not a form of containment, but a model for intervention and authorship” (“Speaking Women,” 86–7). For a broader emphasis on



women’s community, creativity, and collectivity in Wroth’s Urania, see Naomi Miller, Changing the Subject: Mary Wroth and Figurations of Gender in Early Modern England (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1996), for example, 198–9; and Sheila Cavanagh, Cherished Torment: The Emotional Geography of Lady Mary Wroth’s “Urania” (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2001). 15. Emily Shortslef, “Second Life: The Ruines of Time and the Virtual Collectivities of Early Modern Complaint,” The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 13, no. 3 (2013): 99. Spenser’s Terpsichore laments that “none vouchsafes to answere to our call” (The Teares of the Muses, 352). 16. See Anderson, Echo and Meaning, Chapter 2 and p. 7. 17. See John Hollander’s rich discussion of the Echo song in The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 57, 60. 18. Milton: Complete Shorter Poems, 2nd ed., ed. John Carey (London: Longman, 1997). 19. See Katherine Larson’s extended discussion in “‘Blest pair of Sirens ... Voice and Verse’: Milton’s Rhetoric of Song,” Milton Studies 54 (2013): 81–106, and in The Matter of Song in Early Modern England: Texts In and Of the Air (Oxford University Press, 2019). 20. See Peter Walls, Music in the English Courtly Masque, 1604–1640 (New York: Clarendon Press, 1995), 298. 21. See Hollander, The Figure of Echo, 17. 22. See Carey, ed., Milton: Complete Shorter Poems, 192. 23. David Loewenstein, Responsive Readings: Versions of Echo in Pastoral, Epic, and the Jonsonian Masque (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984), 145–6; Larson, “Blest pair of Sirens,” 317. John Hollander recognises the two nymphs’ relationship in the masque, in The Figure of Echo, 59. 24. “Why must I thus forever be confined,” line 18; in Sarah C. E. Ross and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, eds., Women Poets of the English Civil War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 133. References to Pulter’s poems are from this anthology unless otherwise specified. 25. For the association of Echo with the invocation of genii loci and the valorisation of place, see Loewenstein, Responsive Readings, 139. 26. Richard Meek, “‘O, what a sympathy of woe is this’: Passionate Sympathy in Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare Survey 66 (2013): 295; and Meek and Erin Sullivan, eds., The Renaissance of Emotion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015), 15. Meek is also exploring the operation of “natural sympathy” in Shakespeare’s Richard II and dramatic texts of the same period, stepping off from the work of Tom MacFaul in Shakespeare and the Natural World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); “‘Strain’d



with the bent of nature’s sympathie’: Shakespeare, Sympathy, and the Natural World” (paper presented at the Society for Renaissance Studies conference, Sheffield, July 2018). 27. See OED, meanings 3a and 3b, noting the continuities between these related definitions. 28. For further discussion, see Sarah C. E. Ross, Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 145–6. 29. Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, in The Poems: Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, The Phoenix and the Turtle, The Passionate Pilgrim, A Lover’s Complaint, ed. John Roe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 196. 30. References to this poem are from the Amplified Edition (ed. Sarah C. E. Ross), on The Pulter Project website, gen eds. Wendy Wall and Leah Knight: http://pulterproject.northwestern.edu/poems/ ae/a-dialogue-between-two-sisters-virgins-bewailing-their-solitary-life/ [accessed 2 April 2019]. 31. “Conscious” in the sense of being “privy to, sharing in, or witnessing human actions or secrets” (OED, 3). 32. Sir George Etheridge, “To Amarillis. Out of the Anthologia of the Italian Poets,” in Poems on several occasions by the Duke of Buckingham, The late Lord Rochester, Sir John Denham, Sir George Etheridge, Andrew Marvel, Esq., the famous Spencer, Madam Behn, and several other poets of this age (1696), 16. 33. Patricia Phillippy, Shaping Remembrance from Shakespeare to Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 214. 34. Niobe features as the first example in a chapter in Aphthonius’s Progymnasmata on “character making” (ethopoeia), and from there, became an exemplary figure in Renaissance schoolboys’ rhetorical lessons (see Enterline, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom, 31 and Chapter 5). For another extended discussion of Pulter’s use of Niobe, see Emma Rayner, “Monumental Female Melancholy in John Webster and Hester Pulter,” Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 60, no. 1  (2020): 67-89. 35. “Upon the Death of my Dear and Lovely Daughter, J.P.,” line 58. 36. Lady Hester Pulter: Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, ed. Alice Eardley (Toronto: Iter Inc. and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014), 53. 37. “To my Dear J.P., M.P., P.P., they Being at London, I at Broadfield,” lines 1–4. 38. Hollander, The Figure of Echo, 60.



39. Anne Killigrew, “The Complaint of a Lover,” in “My Rare Wit Killing Sin”: Poems of a Restoration Courtier, ed. Margaret J.M. Ezell (Toronto: Iter, Inc., and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2013), 56; Charlotte Smith, “Sonnet XXII By the Same. To Solitude,” in Charlotte Smith: Major Poetic Works, ed. Claire Knowles and Ingrid Horrocks (Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2017), 71. 40. Shortslef, “Second Life,” esp. 85.




Aphra Behn’s “Oenone to Paris,” John Dryden, and the Ovidian Complaint in Restoration Literary Culture Gillian Wright

Aphra Behn’s “A Paraphrase on Oenone to Paris” has often, and rightly, been seen as a landmark publication within both Restoration literary culture and the longue durée of English-language complaint literature. John Kerrigan, reproducing “Oenone to Paris” in his influential anthology of female complaints, Motives of Woe, includes Behn among “the most formidably accomplished Ovidians of [the] period,” and describes the paraphrase itself as “a glittering and impassioned performance.”1 While Behn, as the present volume amply illustrates, was by no means the first Englishwoman to turn her hand to the Ovidian complaint, she was undoubtedly one of the first to achieve a high public profile for her work I am grateful to Kathleen Taylor and Claire Bowditch, who read earlier drafts of this essay, as well as to Victoria E. Burke and Paul Salzman, my two peer-­reviewers. The essay has benefited greatly from their expert and generous feedback. G. Wright (*) University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_10




in this genre. John Dryden’s Ovid’s Epistles, Translated by Several Hands (1680), in which Behn’s “Oenone to Paris” was first printed, was one of the most successful poetic publications of the late seventeenth century, reissued in 1681, 1683, 1688, 1693, and in numerous further editions throughout the eighteenth century.2 Uniquely prominent within Ovid’s Epistles―the only epistle, other than his own, to which Dryden directly alludes in his preface to the collection―“Oenone to Paris” was later included by Behn herself in her Poems upon Several Occasions (1684), where, probably at her own behest, it is conspicuously placed at the end of the miscellaneous “Poems” section of the volume.3 As Katherine Smith has shown, “Oenone to Paris” seems likely to have proved inspirational for later women poets in the complaint tradition, notably Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.4 Its role in reclaiming this female-voiced genre for women’s literary history is beyond question. Recent scholarly interest in both Ovidian complaint and early modern women’s writing has generated a substantial critical literature on Behn’s “Oenone to Paris,” including key studies by Carol Barash, Katherine Heavey and Sue Wiseman.5 Nonetheless, and despite the excellence of such existing work, much about this important poem remains unclear. In this essay, I place “Oenone to Paris” within Behn’s writing life, addressing such central issues as her treatment of source material, her construction of Oenone’s subjectivity, and the political resonances of her linguistic choices. I begin, however, by reassessing the collection in which the poem first appeared, the pioneering collaborative translation, Ovid’s Epistles.

John Dryden in Ovid’s Epistles 1680, the year of the first publication of Ovid’s Epistles, marks a key point of transition within Restoration literature.6 The death of the Earl of Rochester in June 1680, followed by the publication of his Poems on Several Occasions a few months later, can be taken in retrospect to represent a significant shift in the long evolution from a predominantly manuscript- to a predominantly print-based literary culture in England; henceforward, to adapt Paul Davis’s useful formulation, no major English poet would see manuscript as his “natural medium of publication.”7 The Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis, which ran from c.1678 to c.1681, and which gave rise to a wide array of propagandistic poetry, also helped to consolidate the dominance of print in this era.8 Ovid’s Epistles, as a collaboration between several of the nation’s leading poets and playwrights



and the entrepreneurial young bookseller Jacob Tonson, both contributed to and was facilitated by this contemporary consolidation of print-­ publication as the circulatory norm for literary works. At a more personal level, the publication of Ovid’s Epistles also marked a key moment within the career of its editor and principal contributor, John Dryden. For over a decade, since the publication of Annus Mirabilis in 1667, Dryden’s creative energies had been mainly focused on plays and critical prose; his published poetry, by contrast, had been largely confined to theatrical paratexts such as prologues and epilogues for his own and other dramatists’ work.9 Mac Flecknoe, his one significant poem of the 1670s, was originally written for manuscript circulation and reached print only in a pirated edition in 1682. But while Dryden’s involvement in Ovid’s Epistles represented, on one level, a return to past habits, dormant since the 1660s, it also constituted a significant new venture, initiating several new creative practices that were to prove of immense importance in his later writing career. Such new practices included literary editing, as later manifest in Sylvae (1685), Examen Poeticum (1693), and The Annual Miscellany (1694). They also included Dryden’s first forays into the field of literary translation, a genre with which he was to remain associated throughout the 1680s and which would dominate his poetic output in the 1690s. Professionally, furthermore, Ovid’s Epistles contributed towards consolidating Dryden’s relationship with Tonson, with whom he had first worked on Troilus and Cressida (1679) and who was to remain his publisher, collaborator, and advocate for the rest of his life. It is arguably the most important single publication in Dryden’s literary career.10 Ovid’s Epistles, as Stuart Gillespie has shown, was an experimental publication, which effectively created collaborative translation as a literary genre.11 While Tonson’s interest in the volume is likely to have been chiefly commercial, Dryden, though far from indifferent to financial considerations, clearly also seized on, and relished, the opportunity to establish himself as both a practising translator and a theorist of translation. His own contributions to the collection included two of the most high-profile of the complaints―those of Helen to Paris (co-translated with the earl of Mulgrave) and Dido to Aeneas―while his taxonomy of translation methodologies in the preface to the volume (distinguishing between metaphrase, or word-for-word translation, and the looser styles of paraphrase and imitation) was to prove one of the most influential theoretical analyses of the period.12 His own concurrent involvement in the Earl of Roscommon’s academy, which specialised in translation from classical



literature, also speaks to his strong commitment to this literary form in the late 1670s and early 1680s.13 But while Dryden’s enthusiasm for, and skill in, poetic translation is fully evident in Ovid’s Epistles, rather less apparent is why he―presumably in consultation with Tonson―should have chosen Ovid’s Heroides as the source-text for their first venture into collaborative translation. While the methodology of translation “by several hands” would have necessitated a divisible source-text, that this text should have been the Heroides would by no means have been a foregone conclusion. (Virgil’s eclogues, the object of a subsequent collaborative translation overseen by Dryden and Tonson, would have been a much more obvious option, given Virgil’s unrivalled prestige among classical poets.) No explanation for this choice is offered in the preface to the collection, which hints, indeed, that Dryden saw the subject-matter of the Heroides as in some ways risky: he dwells, with apparent anxiety, on Ovid’s reputation for “Lasciviousness” (albeit mainly in the elegies and the Ars Amatoria) and seems concerned that the epistles are, thematically, too uniform (“[t]here seems to be no great variety in the particular Subjects which he has chosen … many of the same thoughts come back upon us in divers Letters”).14 Later in the preface, Dryden was to argue that collaborative translation, given the inevitable differences between the practitioners’ poetic styles, would alleviate the risk of thematic monotony in Ovid’s original, providing the reader with “that variety in the English, which the Subject denyed to the Authour of the Latine.”15 The issue of sexuality, however, was to prove rather more troublesome, perhaps in part because of the poet’s own ambitions for the volume. As Gillespie has argued, Dryden seems to have aimed at “securing a wider audience than a classical translation was normally expected to achieve”—that is, through appealing to women, as well as the classically educated men who might usually be expected to comprise the principal readership for a translation from Latin.16 Dryden’s insistence that in the Heroides (if not in his other love poems), Ovid had taken a “most becoming care” of female modesty seems obviously intended to reassure women (or their guardians) that, despite the author’s scandalous reputation, reading Ovid’s Epistles would do nothing to imperil female virtue.17 Yet Dryden’s reasons for choosing the complaint genre may have been still more complex, and indeed more topical, than they at first appear. It is often assumed that―unexpectedly, given both the period and his own record of political engagement―Dryden’s motives for taking part in the Ovid’s Epistles project were mainly (or even exclusively) literary. Katherine



Heavey speaks for many when she argues that, even though “[t]he collection appeared at the height of the Exclusion Crisis … Dryden had concerns other than the political and religious state of the nation.”18 It is true that, as Heavey points out, Dryden’s preface to Ovid’s Epistles―the best evidence for his motives for participating in the volume―does not engage directly with politics. That said, the two issues which it does extensively address―translation and sexuality―both carried strong political associations at the time of publication. Roscommon’s academy, for instance, seems to have viewed translation as a force for political conservatism; Knightley Chetwood, Roscommon’s first biographer, compares its aims with those of the Académie française, founded by Cardinal Richelieu as a means “to amuse busy & turbulent wits & divert them from speculating into matters of State”.19 That Dryden’s understanding of translation in the preface to Ovid’s Epistles was similarly politicised is indicated not just by his contemporary association with Roscommon but by his own glosses on key terms, which, as Paul Davis has noted, have strikingly topical connotations; “Translation with Latitude,” his definition of paraphrase, recalls the moderate latitudinarian strand in the contemporary Church of England, while “this libertine way of rendring Authours,” his gloss on literary imitation, gestures towards the philosophical radicalism and sexual licentiousness associated with courtiers such as Rochester (though Dryden prudently attributes the expression to Abraham Cowley).20 Furthermore, while sexuality (as the comparison with Rochester suggests) was always politicised in the Restoration, it was subject to particularly intense scrutiny during the Exclusion Crisis, given the latter’s origins in Charles II’s failure to conceive an heir with his wife (and success in begetting the illegitimate James Duke of Monmouth). In the febrile circumstances of 1680, the Heroides’ emphasis on sexuality’s often adverse consequences for the fate of the nation would have had inescapably political implications. The planning and preparation of Ovid’s Epistles are likely to predate the onset of Exclusion; although the exact timetable for work on the volume is unknown, it was probably finished before December 1679, when Dryden suffered a vicious physical attack in London’s Rose Alley.21 But while Dryden’s choice of the Ovidian complaint for his first collaborative translation cannot be read as a response to Exclusion, rather different considerations apply to his preface to the volume, which must have been written shortly before publication and could have been subject to last-minute alterations. Yet far from disclaiming or mitigating the politically controversial implications of his material, Dryden’s preface seems deliberately to



foreground the issue of transgressive sexuality, devoting several pages to evaluating both its significance in Ovid’s life and works and its possible role in occasioning the poet’s banishment from Rome. He even risks two gibes at the expense of Ovid’s monarch, the Emperor Augustus, whom he implicitly censures for “taking Livia to his Bed, when she was not only Married, but with Child by her Husband, then living”; he later rejects the hypothesis that the cause of Ovid’s exile might have been his witnessing “the Incest of the Emperor with his own Daughter” on grounds not of Augustus’s sexual virtue but of his propensity for savage retribution (he “was of a Nature too vindicative to have contented himself with so small a Revenge, or so unsafe to himself, as that of simple Banishment”).22 Though neither of these offences could have been attributed directly to Charles II, such overt criticisms of royal sexuality seem both pointed and surprising―all the more so for being wholly avoidable. Given Dryden’s well-known and well-justified reputation as a Stuart apologist, especially in such post-Exclusion works as Absalom and Achitophel (1681) and The Medal (1682), the notion that Ovid’s Epistles might include an implied critique of royal sexuality may seem inherently unlikely. (His rambunctious defence, in Absalom, of Charles’s sexual excesses might seem to compound the improbability still further.)23 Yet despite the mature Dryden’s undoubted royalism, he was by no means always an uncritical commentator on his Stuart masters. Later, in The Hind and the Panther (1687), he would show himself willing to disagree, albeit allusively, with James II’s religious policies, despite his own recent conversion to James’s religion.24 Closer to the date of Ovid’s Epistles, his work on Troilus and Cressida―in many respects a companion piece to the Heroides project―manifests clear signs of unease with royal sexual self-­ indulgence, especially insofar as it might affect the welfare of the nation; witness his one substantial addition to the play (Act III scene ii), in which Hector (successfully) urges Troilus to give up Cressida for the good of Troy.25 Sexual conservatism can also be detected in Dryden’s other key departure from his Shakespearean source, namely revising the part of Cressida to make her faithful to (though misunderstood by) her lover; this change, unprecedented in any previous version of the Troilus story, smooths out the complex morals of the original, eliminating any troubling discrepancies between Cressida’s sexual integrity and her status as tragic protagonist. Within Ovid’s Epistles, a propensity to sexual conservatism can also be detected in such paratextual details as the argument to “Helen to Paris,” which ends with the uncompromising verdict “The whole Letter



shewing the extream artifice of Woman-kind.”26 In the face of national crisis, Dryden’s first response―if not his second―was to reassert traditional sexual morals and gender norms. But Dryden was not the only Restoration writer for whom Ovid’s Epistles represented both a significant career shift and an opportunity to comment on contemporary politics and sexuality. In the next section of this essay, I consider how the collection’s only female contributor, Aphra Behn, took advantage of this opportunity both to advance her own career and to provide a distinctively gendered perspective on the complaint genre.

Aphra Behn in Ovid’s Epistles Aphra Behn’s involvement in the Ovid’s Epistles volume is likely to have been due in large part to her recent success in the theatre. Most of the contributors to the collection, as Gillespie has shown, either were themselves dramatists or had “established dramatic associations”; many also had pre-existing professional links with Jacob Tonson.27 Behn had enjoyed her greatest theatrical success to date with The Rover in 1677, and had subsequently published Sir Patient Fancy (1678) with Richard and Jacob Tonson and The Feign’d Curtizans (1679) with Jacob alone.28 Troilus and Cressida―unusually, for Dryden, a Duke’s company play―might also have brought the poet laureate into professional contact with Behn, who habitually wrote for the Duke’s theatre.29 Among the contributors to Ovid’s Epistles, her writerly reputation was arguably second only to Dryden’s own.30 Yet although Behn, by 1680, was well-established as a dramatist, her status as a poet was much less secure. Only a few of her poems had been published, and just one―her commendatory poem to Edward Howard’s The Six Days Adventure (1671)―had as yet appeared under her own name. The remainder had been included, without attribution, in miscellanies or songbooks, often connected with the theatre.31 Though Behn was evidently more active as a poet than this relatively slight publication record might suggest―the pirated inclusion of three of her poems in Rochester’s Poems on Several Occasions later in 1680 indicates as much― she had not yet begun to acquire a public reputation in this genre. Furthermore, all the poems that she is known to have written before 1680 are original works, most of them occasional in nature. An invitation to contribute to Ovid’s Epistles would have enabled her to expand her generic range, establishing her credentials in a field―literary translation―that was to become increasingly fashionable in the 1680s. As a playwright with a



strong specialisation in comedy, she might also have relished the challenge of inhabiting and exploring a tragic female voice.32 Whether Behn’s inclusion in Ovid’s Epistles did indeed enhance her contemporary reputation has been a matter of some controversy.33 Disagreement has focused, in particular, on how Dryden’s reference to her work in his preface to the collection should be interpreted. Having carefully delineated his tripartite taxonomy of translation (metaphrase, paraphrase, and imitation), and declared his methodological preference for paraphrase, Dryden goes on to identify Behn’s “Oenone to Paris” as the only contribution to the volume to fall outside this favoured category: That of Oenone to Paris is in Mr. Cowleys way of Imitation only. I was desir’d to say that the Authour who is of the Fair Sex, understood not Latine. But if she does not, I am afraid she has given us occasion to be ashamed who do. (Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles, sig. A4r)

As critics have noted, Dryden’s apparent snub to Behn’s translational style is complicated by several factors: most obviously the gallantry of his wording (which may not have been entirely tokenistic) and the fact that the title assigned to her poem in Ovid’s Epistles is “A Paraphrase [not “An Imitation”] on Oenone to Paris.”34 What has been less frequently observed, however, is that Dryden’s comment on Behn’s methods conflates two potentially separable issues: her method of translation and her lack of Latin. This matters because, while it seems entirely plausible (to cite Dryden’s terms) that a translator who knew no Latin could not produce a word-for-word metaphrase of her Ovidian original, there is no obvious reason why she could not produce a paraphrase, providing a suitable intermediary translation was available. Dryden’s gallantry notwithstanding, opting for imitation (“taking only some general hints from the Original”) over paraphrase may have been more of a choice than a necessity for Aphra Behn.35 One reason why Behn’s methods in “Oenone to Paris” have proved somewhat elusive is that, to date, no intermediary translation for her work has been conclusively identified. As Heavey notes, there had been three previous English translations of the Heroides, by George Turberville (1567), Wye Saltonstall (1636), and John Sherburne (1639).36 Saltonstall’s translation, which had been frequently reissued (most recently in 1677), was probably the most readily available, but all three, as Garth Tissol has shown, were drawn on by contributors to the 1680 collection.37 Janet



Todd further suggests that Behn might have used a bespoke translation by a fellow-contributor to the volume such as Thomas Otway, Nahum Tate or James Wright, all of whom she is otherwise known to have worked with.38 The possibility that her knowledge of Latin was less limited than Dryden (rather ambiguously) claimed should also not be discounted.39 Behn’s imitative style, which often sees her departing very substantially from the original Ovid, has made it difficult to determine which source-­ text (or texts) she may have worked with. Nonetheless, there are a few passages in “Oenone to Paris” where a specific source for her work can be identified. One such passage occurs early in the poem, as Oenone reflects on how her native grove still, painfully, reminds her of her past relationship with Paris. In Behn’s version of these lines, Oenone laments: Each Beach my Name yet bears, carv’d out by thee, Paris, and his Oenone fill each Tree; And as they grow, the Letters larger spread, Grow still! a witness of my Wrongs when dead! Close by a silent silver Brook there grows A Poplar … (Behn, “Oenone to Paris,” lines 86–91; Ovid’s Epistles, pp. 102–3)40

Neither Turberville’s nor Saltonstall’s version of this passage noticeably resembles Behn’s. In Turberville’s awkward common metre, it reads: The boysteous Beech Oenones name in outwarde barke dooth beare: And with thy caruing knife is cut Oenon euery wheare. And as the trees in tyme doe waxe so doth encrease my name: Go to, grow on, erect your selues, helpe to aduaunce my fame. There growes (I minde it verie well) vpon a banck, a tree (Turberville, Heroycall Epistles, 27r-v)41

Saltonstall’s version, though more fluent, is equally un-Behnlike: My name on every Beech-tree I do find. Thou hadst engrav’d Oenone on their rind, And as the body of the tree doth, so



The letters of my name do greater grow. Close by a River (I remember it) These lines are on an Alder fairly writ … (Saltonstall, Ovid’s Heroicall Epistles, 32)42

Rather closer to Behn’s text, however, is John Sherburne’s rendering of the same passage: Each Beech my name carv’d out by thee doth beare; And thy Oenone is read every where. As they increase, so spreads my name along; Grow, grow, and rise a witnesse of my wrong. Close by a purling silverie brooke, there growes A Poplar, which of me fresh record showes. (Sherburne, Ovids Heroical Epistles, 26)

Obvious verbal similarities include the introductory “Each Beach,” the idiom “carv’d out by thee,” the injunction “Grow,” the phrase “a witness of my Wrongs” and the identification of the second tree as the poplar. Still clearer echoes of Sherburne’s translation can be found in a later couplet comparing the perfidious Paris to lightweight grains of wheat. In Behn, this couplet reads: Less Weight, less Constancy, in thee is born Than in the slender mildew’d Ears of Corn. (Behn, “Oenone to Paris,” lines 286–7; Ovid’s Epistles, 114)

The equivalent passages in Turberville and Saltonstall resemble Behn’s version only broadly, lacking specific verbal similarities: Turberville, for instance, refers to the cereal as “beard of wheate,” while for Saltonstall it is “waving corn”.43 The relevant couplet in Sherburne, however, differs from Behn’s text by just one word: Lesse weight, lesse constancie in thee is borne, Than in the slender Sun-parcht eares of corne. (Sherburne, Ovids Heroical Epistles, 53)

Such close and specific verbal echoes make it indisputable that, while Behn does not seem to have used either Turberville or Saltonstall when compiling her “Paraphrase on Oenone to Paris,” she did draw on



Sherburne. Yet comparison between her version and his further shows both that her direct borrowings from his text were relatively few―no more than a handful in a poem of 314 lines―and that, unsurprisingly, even the closest of her allusions were always adjusted and repurposed to her own ends.44 The single-word difference between her and Sherborne’s renderings of the ears of corn image, for instance, significantly alters its emotional resonance, Behn’s “mildew’d” adding implications of decay and disease not present in Sherburne’s relatively straightforward adjective “Sun-parch’t.” Perhaps even more revealing is her apparently deliberate rejection of Sherburne’s adjective “purling,” in favour of “silent” when characterising Oenone’s brook. “Purling” is a frequent adjective in Behn’s verse, found in such poems as “The Golden Age,” “A Farewel to Celladon,” “To Mr. Creech” and “A Voyage to the Isle of Love.” Overwhelmingly, however, in the Behn corpus, “purling” is associated with (at least superficially) happy or idealised circumstances; witness “The Golden Age,” which begins “Blest Age! when ev’ry Purling Stream/Ran undisturb’d and clear.”45 Given such connotations, Oenone’s brook self-evidently could not be “purling.” The substitution “silent,” by contrast, eloquently signifies the isolation and loss of comfort that have followed her abandonment by Paris. Through eliminating a rival source of noise, it also focuses the reader’s attention still more directly on the speaking voice of Oenone. The most obvious single difference between Behn’s “Oenone to Paris” and all previous versions is its length. At 2543 words, her poem is nearly twice as long as Sherburne’s, which runs to 1298 words (and which follows Ovid’s Latin closely). Kerrigan’s introduction to his edition aptly summarises some of her key departures from the original: The added material on rival wooers of Paris and Oenone (25–41), like the comparison between court and country life (in the tradition of vernacular complaint) at 233ff., socializes a relationship which, in Ovid, is private. Repeatedly she returns to gifts, tokens, charms (38–9, 209, 288–92). Behn is more concerned than Ovid with the physiological effects of love (40–51) and dread (113–20). Ostentatiously free in the last ninety or so lines, she sacrifices Cassandra’s prophecy of Paris’ infidelity, Oenone’s account of the swift satyrs who pursue her, and the description of her skill as a gatherer of herbs. (Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 259)46

More recent scholarship has also suggested that Behn’s version of the poem may have been influenced by contemporary political events. Janet



Todd notes that her depiction of Paris introduces references to monarchy not present in the original, while Heavey, who sees “Oenone to Paris” as one of the “most politically charged” inclusions in Ovid’s Epistles, reads her characterisation of the faithless Paris as alluding to the Duke of Monmouth.47 Yet while some of Behn’s departures from her Ovidian original do seem likely to have been politically motivated, by no means all of these political allusions evince the strong royalism for which she is now well known.48 Her Oenone’s numerous references to perjury and vow-­ breaking—justified, but not directly authorised, by Ovid’s original―do seem plausibly to evoke the disloyalty with which early 1680s Tories charged their political opponents in the wake of Exclusion, while her account of how “the wisely Grave, who Love despise” encourage Paris to “Change Crooks for Scepters! Garlands for a Crown!” (another addition to Ovid) may, as Heavey argues, recall contemporary accounts of how Monmouth was encouraged in his monarchical ambitions by unscrupulous advisers such as the earl of Shaftesbury.49 Rather less clearly royalist, however, is Oenone’s observation of how closely Paris’s betrayal of their love followed his discovery of his royal birth: What Stars do rule the Great? no sooner you Became a Prince, but you were Perjur'd too. Are Crowns and Falshoods then consistant things? And must they all be faithless who are Kings? (Behn, “Oenone to Paris,” lines 241–4; Ovid’s Epistles, 112)

This too is without direct parallel in Ovid’s original, and while Oenone’s circumstances do of course account for her anti-Paris fervour, her forthright identification of kingship with inconstancy and deception (“must they all be faithless who are Kings?”) does seem rather pointedly absolute, especially since Paris himself is not a king. Oenone’s diatribe takes as its object not just one particularly faithless member of the king’s family, but kingship itself. For the famously royalist Behn, this is unexpected. If Behn’s treatment of kingship is more complicated than it at first appears, so too is her treatment of its central figure, Oenone. Kerrigan’s comment that Behn’s variations from Ovid “socialize[ ] a relationship which, in Ovid, is private”―effectively, by adding more characters to the poem―applies properly only to the earlier stages of this relationship, when the two met, wooed, and became lovers. Where it stops applying is at the key moment of crisis in the poem, when Paris is revealed to be a prince of



Troy and makes his fateful decision to leave Oenone. From this point onwards, Behn consistently strips away any forms of companionship that Ovid’s Oenone had experienced, leaving her protagonist still more isolated and defenceless. These omitted references include interactions with Paris’s sister, Cassandra (who in Ovid warns Oenone of her approaching fate) and the gods Faunus and Phoebus.50 A particularly telling example can be found in Behn’s omission of the “aged” advisers whom Ovid’s Oenone consults with after Paris tells her of his meeting with the three goddesses, and who warn her that “some ominous ill was nie.”51 In Behn’s complex adaptation of this passage, it is Oenone herself, more astute than in Ovid, who “presag’d some ominous Change was near!”; her loss of her “aged” advisers, meanwhile, has an ironic counterpart in Paris’s acquisition of the “wisely Grave” counsellors who encourage him to give up Mount Ida for Troy.52 By effectively transferring the advisers from Oenone to Paris, Behn leaves the former all the more isolated and unsupported as she is abandoned by her lover. Behn’s variations from Ovid in “Oenone to Paris” are carefully plotted, sometimes involving complex processes of textual redeployment as well as more obvious additions and omissions. Common to many of these variations, however, is her evident commitment to inhabiting and exploring Oenone’s subjectivity. Behn’s willingness to think herself, imaginatively and in detail, into Oenone’s consciousness may form one―though not necessarily the only―explanation for the strongly-worded (and uncontradicted) diatribe against monarchy she attributes to her protagonist. It can also be detected in such large-scale additions as her Oenone’s emotionally charged recollection of her early relationship with Paris (Behn’s longest single digression from Ovid), as well as the many small-scale but shrewdly observed differences that pepper the text.53 The latter include her reimagined depiction of Paris’s physical relationship with Helen, reversing Ovid’s version in which Helen rests on Paris (“The lustfull dame did in thy bosome lye”) to have Paris rest on Helen (“fondly you were on her Bosome laid”); the effect is at once more abject for Paris and more galling for Oenone.54 Similar emotional sensitivity to Oenone’s plight can be glimpsed in her fine-detail adjustments to her borrowings from Sherburne: altering Paris’s inscription on the beech tree from “Oenone” to the more poignant “Paris and Oenone”; or, still more subtly, changing Oenone’s allusion to Paris’s departing ship from “thy flying vessell” to “the lessening Vessel.”55 Behn, unlike her male predecessors, is there on the beach with Oenone, watching with her as her lover sails into the distance.



In his preface to Ovid’s Epistles, Dryden defines literary imitation as “the liberty not only to vary from the words and sence, but to forsake them both as [the poet] sees occasion … taking only some general hints from the Original.”56 Behn, it emerges, took not only “general” but also, on occasion, very specific “hints” from her source-text, Sherburne’s translation of Ovid. Details that appealed to her poetic imagination, she used, but tweaked. Otherwise, she had the authority and self-confidence to go her own way.

Conclusion In retrospect, Aphra Behn and John Dryden may seem like obvious allies, given both their shared commitment to the Stuart monarchy and the many similarities in their literary careers. Yet the latter―which, as the 1680s developed, were to include experiments in fabular satire, as well as poems on royal events such as the death of Charles II―may have made them rivals as much as allies, while their divergent approaches to translation in Ovid’s Epistles may betoken wider literary and political differences.57 The most telling clue as to how Dryden really felt about “Oenone to Paris” may, indeed, lie in the fact that he and Behn never worked together again during her lifetime. Behn is conspicuously absent from the miscellanies―including the collaborative translations―that Dryden was to edit during the later 1680s; and while it is conceivable that she was invited to take part but declined, her well-known need for money after the merger of the King’s and Duke’s theatre companies in 1682 makes this explanation unlikely.58 It is more probable that Dryden, having seen what Behn’s approach to translation was like, preferred not to risk appearing to endorse it again. His next public association with Behn―his provision of a prologue and epilogue for her play The Widdow Ranter―would not occur until 1690, by which time Behn had died, and the two writers’ common opposition to the 1689 Revolution may have rendered any earlier differences between them redundant. Dryden’s puns on rebellion, plots and William’s Irish wars in his Widdow Ranter paratexts suggest that he recognised their shared political affiliations, which may in turn explain his willingness to write on her behalf, albeit after she was safely dead.59 The momentous political events of the 1680s exercise a strong gravitational pull within Restoration scholarship, rendering the perils of hindsight especially hard to avoid. Yet as Jessica Pirie has recently argued, to assume that the Behn of the 1670s necessarily held the same



uncompromisingly royalist beliefs later evident in the 1680s works, such as The Roundheads, The City-Heiress and her royal panegyrics, is methodologically unwise.60 As Pirie points out, some of Behn’s 1670s publications take a much more equivocal approach to royal power, particularly in contexts where that power is exercised at the expense of women.61 Behn’s record of dramatising conflicts between power and sexuality may provide a further explanation for her attraction to the Ovidian complaint, the locus classicus for exploring such conflicts, especially from a female perspective. “Oenone to Paris”―probably drafted in early 1679, before the constitutional challenge represented by Exclusion became fully clear―may represent the last time she felt able to publish such an interrogation of royal authority. Henceforward the risk of giving succour to her political enemies would be too great. Much as Dryden may have disapproved of the imitative style of “Oenone to Paris,” Behn herself seems to have had no regrets. The version of the poem reproduced in her Poems upon Several Occasions, four years later, is only minimally different from the 1680 version; perhaps defiantly, given the opprobrium to which the term “paraphrase” had meanwhile been subject, she retained the title “A Paraphrase On … Oenone to Paris” (adding only the clarification “Ovid’s Epistle of”).62 Behn was to follow similar imitative methods in all her later forays into literary translation, including her two longest poems, “A Voyage to the Isle of Love” and her version of Abraham Cowley’s “Sylva.”63 That Poems upon Several Occasions, in which “Voyage” appeared, was published by Tonson, further indicates how much she had gained from contributing to Ovid’s Epistles; so too does the publication of her “Sylva” in a collaborative translation “made English by several Hands.” Others, if not Dryden, seem to have been impressed by “Oenone to Paris.” The Ovidian complaint had become Behn’s entrée to elite 1680s poetry.

Notes 1. John Kerrigan, ed., Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint”: A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 70. 2. The last edition recorded by ESTC is Ovid’s Epistles: Translated by Eminent Persons (London, 1795). 3. John Dryden, ed. and introd., Ovid’s Epistles (London, 1680), sig. A4r; Aphra Behn, Poems upon Several Occasions (London, 1684), sigs K1r-K8v. For evidence of Behn’s involvement in planning the shape of Poems, see



Jordan Howell, “Aphra Behn, Editor,” The Review of English Studies 68, no. 285 (2017): 549–65. 4. Katherine Smith, “Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry in Early Modern England” (PhD thesis, University of Warwick, 2016), 156–217. “Ovid to Julia,” another Ovidian poem often ascribed to Behn, is an insecure attribution and will not be discussed in this essay. 5. Carol Barash, English Women’s Poetry, 1649–1714: Politics, Community, and Linguistic Authority (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 114–18; Katherine Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris: Ovidian Paraphrase by Women Writers,” Translation and Literature 23 (2014): 303–20; Susan Wiseman, “‘Perfectly Ovidian’? Dryden’s Epistles, Behn’s ‘Oenone,’ Yarico’s Island,” Renaissance Studies 22, no. 3 (2008): 417–33. 6. I explore this point at more length in the conclusion to The Restoration Transposed: Poetry, Place and Literary History, 1660–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). 7. Paul Davis, “From Script to Print: Marketing Rochester,” in Lord Rochester in the Restoration World, ed. Matthew C. Augustine and Steven N. Zwicker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 40. As Davis emphasises, this cultural shift, though perceptible, was by no means absolute―as attested by the continuing production of Rochester manuscripts after 1680. 8. On this phenomenon, see further Peter Hinds, “The Horrid Popish Plot”: Roger L’Estrange and the Circulation of Political Discourse in Late Seventeenth-Century London (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). 9. Dryden’s poetic publications between Annus Mirabilis and Mac Flecknoe are helpfully listed in John Dryden, The Poems of John Dryden, vol. 1, ed. Paul Hammond (London: Longman, 1995), v-vi. All but one―an epitaph on the Marquis of Winchester―are theatrical pieces. 10. On the significance of Ovid’s Epistles in Dryden’s career, see further Stuart Gillespie, “The Early Years of the Dryden-Tonson Partnership: The Background to Their Composite Translations and Miscellanies of the 1680s,” Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660–1700 12, no. 1 (1988): 10–19. 11. Gillespie, “Early Years,” 11. 12. On the significance of Dryden’s preface see, for example, Paul Davis, Translation and the Poet’s Life: The Ethics of Translating in English Culture, 1646–1726 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 134–5; and Julie Candler Hayes, Translation, Subjectivity and Culture in France and England, 1600–1800 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 92–3. 13. Greg Clingham, “Roscommon’s ‘Academy,’ Chetwood’s Manuscript ‘Life of Roscommon,’ and Dryden’s Translation Project,” Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660–1700 26, no. 1 (2002), 15–26.



14. John Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles (1680), sigs A3v and A7v: roman for original italics (and vice versa) in this and subsequent quotations from Dryden’s preface. 15. Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles, sig. A8r. 16. Gillespie, “Early Years,” 12. 17. Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles, sig. A7v. 18. Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris,” 306. 19. James Anderson Winn, John Dryden and His World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987), 387. 20. Davis, Translation, 134, citing Ovid’s Epistles, sigs A8r and a2r; compare Abraham Cowley, Works (London, 1668), sig. T3v. 21. Winn, John Dryden, 330. 22. Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles, sigs A3v and A4v (misnumbered R4 in original). 23. Another possibility is that the very rambunctiousness of Absalom and Achitophel represents a similarly anxious, though differently directed, response to royal sexuality. 24. Steven Zwicker, Politics and Language in Dryden’s Poetry (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 124. 25. Winn, John Dryden, 318–9. 26. Ovid’s Epistles, 153. 27. Gillespie, “Early Years,” 12. 28. Mary Ann O’Donnell, Aphra Behn: An Annotated Bibliography, 2nd ed. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 39–43. 29. On Dryden’s association with the rival King’s company, which lasted from 1668 to 1682, see Paul Hammond, “Dryden, John (1631–1700), poet, playwright, and critic,” ODNB, and compare John Dryden, Troilus and Cressida (London, 1679), sig. A1r; on Behn’s work for the Duke’s, see Janet Todd, “Behn, Aphra [Aphara] (1640?–1689), writer,” ODNB. 30. Other contributors to the volume included Thomas Flatman, Thomas Rymer and Elkanah Settle. Three contributions were anonymous. 31. Such pre-1680 publications included Covent Garden Drolery (London, 1672), A Collection of Poems … By several Persons (London, 1673), and John Playford’s Choice Ayres, Songs, & Dialogues, 2nd ed. (London, 1675). 32. Only one of Behn’s plays―Abdelazer (London, 1676) ―was a tragedy. 33. See, for instance, Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris,” 307, 314–5; Wiseman, “Perfectly Ovidian?” 421–3; Smith, “Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry,” 184–7. 34. Ovid’s Epistles, 97. 35. Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles, sig. A8r. 36. Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris,” 307; George Turberville, The Heroycall Epistles of … Publius Ouidius Naso (London, 1567); Ovid’s



h­ eroicall epistles. Englished by W. S. (London, 1636); Ovids Heroical Epistles, Englished by John Sherburne (London, 1639). 37. Garth Tissol, “Ovid,” in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol. 3, 1660–1790, ed. Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 204–17 (205–6). The deficiencies of the Saltonstall translation, as reissued in 1677, may have conceivably influenced Dryden’s and Tonson’s decision to produce their own version. 38. Janet Todd, Aphra Behn: A Secret Life, 2nd ed. (London: Fentum Press, 2017), 262. 39. Behn’s poem “To Mr. Creech” (Poems, sigs. E1v-E5r)―which thanks Creech for making Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura accessible to non-­ classically educated women such as herself―is often taken to signify that she knew no Latin. As Katherine Smith points out, while this reading may be correct, it is not secure (“Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry,” 189–91). 40. Line references to “Oenone to Paris” derive from The Works of Aphra Behn, ed. Janet Todd, vol. 1 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 1992), 12–19. 41. Roman for black letter and italic for roman in Turberville’s original. 42. The 1636 edition of Saltonstall’s translation is rare, surviving in only three known copies (according to ESTC) and not yet digitised on EEBO. I cite the 1671 edition, which is available on EEBO and may have been used by the contributors to Ovid’s Epistles. Texts in all accessible early editions are substantially similar. 43. Turberville, Heroycall Epistles, 30v; Saltonstall, Ovid’s Heroicall Epistles, 35. 44. Behn’s borrowings from Sherburne will be fully documented in my forthcoming edition of her poetry in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn. 45. Behn, Poems, sig. B1r. 46. Kerrigan’s line references are applicable both to his own edition (Motives of Woe, 260–8) and Todd’s. 47. Todd, ed., Works, 1, 377–8; Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris,” 307, and passim. 48. Carol Barash also notes the ambiguity of Behn’s political allusions (English Women’s Poetry, 115–6), though her interpretation differs from mine. On Behn’s royalism, see, for instance, Todd, ODNB. 49. References to perjury or vow-breaking occur, for instance, at lines 55–61, 150, 207 and 280–3. For the “wisely Grave,” see lines 152–7 and Heavey, “Aphra Behn’s Oenone to Paris,” 312. 50. Sherburne, Ovids Heroical Epistles, 53 (misnumbered for 29) and 30. 51. Sherburne, Ovids Heroical Epistles, 27. 52. Behn, “Oenone to Paris,” line 115; Ovid’s Epistles, 104.



53. For Behn’s digression, see “Oenone to Paris,” lines 13–85 (Ovid’s Epistles, 98–102). 54. For Helen and Paris, see Sherburne, Ovids Heroical Epistles, 52 (misnumbered for 28) and Behn, “Oenone to Paris,” line 206 (Ovid’s Epistles, 110). 55. Sherburne, Ovids Heroical Epistles, 27; Behn, “Oenone to Paris,” line 177, Ovid’s Epistles, 108. The full version of each line―respectively “I, whil’st I could, thy flying vessell view’d” and “And whilst I cou’d the lessening Vessel see”―clarifies the derivation. 56. Dryden, Ovid’s Epistles, sig. A8r. 57. On the two poets’ use of fabular satire, see my “Fable and Allegory” in The Oxford Book of Eighteenth-Century Satire, ed. Paddy Bullard (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 266–80. Their poems on Charles are A Pindarick on the Death of Our Late Sovereign (Behn) and Threnodia Augustalis (Dryden), both published in 1685. 58. On Behn’s finances, see Todd, ODNB. 59. John Dryden, The Poems of John Dryden, ed. Paul Hammond and David Hopkins, vol. 3 (London: Longman, 2000), 224 (prologue, lines 40–1; epilogue, line 1). 60. Jessica Pirie, “Princes, Power and Politics in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn” (PhD thesis, University of Birmingham, 2019). 61. Philander’s and Alcippus’s rivalry over Erminia in The Forc’d Marriage and Prince Frederick’s treatment of Cloris in The Amorous Prince (both 1671) are obvious cases in point. 62. For the variants between the 1680 and 1684 versions of “Oenone to Paris,” see Todd, ed., Works, 1, 463. On the paraphrase controversy, see Wiseman, “Perfectly Ovidian?,” 423–5. 63. For “Voyage,” see Poems upon Several Occasions, sigs 2B1r-2I8v; for “Sylva,” see Abraham Cowley, The Third Part of the Works of Mr Abraham Cowley (1689), 131–66.


Complaint in the Wilderness: Mary Rowlandson Speaks With Job Susan Wiseman

On the tenth of February 1675. Came the Indians with great numbers upon Lancaster: Their first coming was about Sun-rising; hearing the noise of some Guns, we looked out; several Houses were burning, and the Smoke ascending to Heaven. There were five persons taken in one house, the Father, and the Mother and a sucking Child, they knockt on the head; the other two they took and carried away alive. There were three others, who being out of their Garison upon some occasion were set upon; one was knockt on the head, the other escaped: … Thus these murtherous wretches went on, burning, and destroying before them.1

So Mary Rowlandson opens her narrative. Published seven years later in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682) is both the story of Rowlandson’s kidnap by “Indians” and, as the title implies, a drama of God’s power and providence. Eagerly received by her contemporaries, Rowlandson’s text uses her experiences during Metacom’s War (also known as King Philip’s War (1675–1678)), a conflict involving many groups in New England, both settler and Native American, to S. Wiseman (*) Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_11




address her own and her polity’s religious and political experiences. This chapter puts Rowlandson’s text and tale in relation to complaint to ask how it is illuminated by contemporary practices and genres. In scholarship, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God is habitually interpreted as an example of the retrospectively designated (and at times teleologically understood) genre of captivity narrative.2 While this is a productive approach, the text evidently has additional generic affiliations. Accordingly, this chapter analyses Rowlandson’s text from the vantage point of complaint, a mode recognised by contemporaries as expressing political exclusion and religious suffering. Putting the text in relation to a  mode contemporaries considered part of a writing repertoire, as complaint was, allows us to consider experience (kidnap, captivity) and other powerful aspects of Rowlandson’s text including its claims to be considered as a narrative of experiential Protestant faith; as a journey narrative and, above all, as a political lament protesting against her own and her polity’s circumstances. At the same time, by examining Rowlandson’s case, the chapter aims to contribute to thinking on the ways in which the complaint mode was used within religio-political thinking more widely. This chapter analyses complaint as an intertextual biblical mode, rather than the more familiar erotic and eroto-political lament. In focusing on complaint not Jeremiad as a use of the Bible, it joins John Kerrigan’s work on the mode of biblical complaint, and that of Felch and White in this volume.3 The features of complaint―lament, accusation, anger, experience―suggest that discussion of it can be readily integrated into thinking on vernacular Protestant experiential narrative. As significantly, Rowlandson’s case raises questions about methods of locating, for example, Wampanoag or Nipmuc, as well as settler, response to Metacom’s War.4 When Rowlandson’s use of complaint calls on the sense of voice, the subject position of one excluded from the polity, and power of the lamenting voice, it does so in the context of other, non-settler, laments.5 At the same time, for some of the textual fragments we have, the War makes complaint a mode marking both experiential divisions and some overlaps. Both colonists and the inhabitants of the praying towns recognised land and conversion as points of tension and these impacted on Rowlandson’s home in the isolated, vulnerable, settlement of Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.6 Incorporated in 1653, Lancaster had grown since then and Mary White’s family were numbered amongst newcomers whose wealth came from land rather than the fur trade. As Neal Salisbury and others note, while the incomers’ focus on land brought



stability to Lancaster, it had a negative impact on people in the nearby praying town of Nashaway as the hunting to extinction of mammals valued for fur left them deprived of both income and land.7 Nashaway was one of the towns resulting from John Eliot’s longstanding Christianising campaign which had sought to draw Indians into “praying towns” and by the 1670s fourteen towns existed. Native Americans were evaluated by settler standards that shifted amongst religious, cultural and self-interested.8 These towns disrupted Indian social structures; sowed conflict between converted and unconverted Indians; made the praying Indians subject to settler law and failed to recognise Indians’ own ethical, social and political culture.9 Crucially, Eliot’s mission understood Native American people as having the potential to convert and faith as potentially shared between convert and settler. It is an indication of the tensions between settler and praying Indian that James Quannapohit, a praying Indian, did warn that Lancaster was to be attacked but he was not trusted enough to be believed. The war with Metacom, or Metacomet, also known by his adopted English name of King Philip, emerged from the uncertain and shifting religious and socio-political identifications of this situation and caused deaths estimated at 5000 non-settler subjects, 2000 settlers.10 It was precipitated by events surrounding the death of a “praying Indian,” James Quannapohit or Sassamon, whose life, marked by his in-between status and back-and-forth identifications, met a violent end at the hands of Metacom’s advisers who were, themselves, put to death by the state. As Richard Cogley reminds us, notwithstanding the positive conclusion of Eliot’s Indian Dialogues, in practice Metacom himself marked a boundary to John Eliot’s mission to the Indians. Metacom seems to have used Sassamon to learn to read rather than to learn to read the Bible and also rejected Eliot himself and religious ambassadors.11 The war came to Lancaster and swept up Mary Rowlandson in its carnage and conflagration. As Rowlandson discloses, she had “often before this said, that if the Indians should come, I should chuse rather to be killed by them then taken alive.” However, “when it came to the tryal my mind changed; their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit, that I chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous Beasts, then that moment to end my dayes.”12 What happened next was captivity as she awaited ransom, death or change―and a prolonged, arduous and complex journey with the Indians as through twenty stages or, as she terms them, “Removes” that “we had up and down the Wilderness.” As we will see, her writing



suggests that she is aware that in this strange time she changed, or became known to herself, in morally, spiritually, and physically new ways. But at the same time the text echoes with lament, rage, hatred, and desperation.

Voicing Complaint: Job and Moses As her house burns Mary Rowlandson is prompted to say with Job 1.15, “And I only am escaped alone to tell the News.”13 The opening of the narrative sees Rowlandson’s homestead ablaze and “of the thirty seven persons who were in this one House” all are captive or killed. Thus, from the start of the narrative, captivity is understood not so much as we understand it as a genre, but as a prompt to complaint and to voice. That Rowlandson takes on the voice of Job to speak her complaint should remind us of her position of familiarity not only with the Bible but with the power of speaking grounded in her role as a minister’s wife since about 1656 and, perhaps, her own mother’s church involvement.14 The notebooks of her mother’s pastor, John Fiske, in Wenham, with their vocabulary of testimony, admonition, witness, humiliation, Psalm-singing, reading of narratives of faith, speech, and silence, illuminate the emphasis on conversion and the governmental, legal-Calvinist ethos of the New England congregations.15 Thus, in the early removes the plaining voice of God’s subject is the keynote. Job’s lonely voice is intercut with Psalm 27.13 which juxtaposes faith and, close by, mourning and the experience of punishment.16 These plaintive voiced elements of the Old Testament, Job and the Psalms, weave through the whole narrative. Rowlandson obviously has a Bible to hand as she composes her narrative, but not during the first two forced “removes” from Lancaster when she gives specific texts from Job and elsewhere. Therefore (leaving aside the unknowable issue of whether she tells the truth about what she thought), as far as the reader is concerned Job and the other passages express her state of mind at that time. We know Rowlandson had no Bible initially because during the third Remove the narrative supplies her with one. As she tells it, a returning plunderer asks “if I wou’d have a Bible, he had got one in his basket.” Asked “whether he thought the Indians would let me read? He answered, yes: so I took the Bible.” The presence of the Bible to think with as she is taken deep into the wilderness is intradiegetically justified, but while its literal presence may be providential it is animated for Rowlandson in ways that allow her to describe and judge her experience of the hybrid space of wilderness.



Rowlandson describes pouncing on the biblical text she needs to fully articulate the meaning of her plight. She is perhaps suggesting that she is guided to it: in that melancholy time, it came into my mind to read first the 28.Chap. of Deut. Which I did, and when I had read it, my dark heart wrought in this manner. That there was no mercy for me, and that the blessings were gone, and the Curses Came in their room, and that I had lost my opportunity. But the Lord helped me still to go on reading till I came to Chap.30 the seven first verses, where I found, There was mercy promised again, if we would return to him by repentance; and though we were scattered from one end of the Earth to the other, yet the Lord would gather us together, and turn all those curses upon our Enemies. I do not desire to live to forget this Scripture, and what a comfort it was to me.17

The book’s epigraph is also from Deuteronomy (32, 29) and emphasises the two sides of God’s power with his promise that “I kill and I make alive.” So, whether or not Rowlandson had control of the paratextual material, for the reader the quotations combine to emphasise the threats and promises of Deuteronomy, steering them to consider the covenant. Part of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament and, from the New England perspective, the books associated with Moses and the law), Deuteronomy describes both the promises of the covenant and the curses upon those who transgress and are punished in the interests of their ultimate redemption. Chapters 28 to 30.10 discuss the covenant made by Moses in the land of Moab. In Chapter 28, Moses enumerates the curses that will fall upon those under God’s covenant who break their promise to him, with Chapter 30 renewing the covenant’s promise.18 In New England, Deuteronomy’s significance was reinforced by the importance of John Calvin.19 Calvin produced a huge volume of sermons on Deuteronomy as well as a “harmony” of the four last books of the Pentateuch which remained in Latin and French.20 His printed sermons addressed both the covenant itself and the subject’s place in it. As Arthur Golding translated Calvin, once God has “convicted” men and “eaten downe their pride” he will renew his “promise” that “by his only power” so “we be made newe creatures.”21 Given Calvin’s specific focus on the books of covenant, and emerging scholarly understanding that Calvin as well as Calvinists was important in the New England dissemination of “reformed thought,” Rowlandson’s engagement with Deuteronomy can



be seen as part of that reception.22 It is significant that Rowlandson here selects God’s curses against those who abandon the covenant and the reward to those who ultimately submit (Chapters 28–30) to shape her overall narrative because it pushes the reader to think about her story as having collective and political dimensions in relation to God’s people in Massachusetts. Deuteronomy offers a legal, literary, collective strand of citation interwoven with her use of Job to voice her isolated struggle. Rowlandson tells us that she thought of Job and Deuteronomy in a wilderness where she was often bereft of even basic orientation. “[T]o better declare what happened to me” she will shape the text in “Removes,” a term which structures the central part of her narrative of her captive march through Massachusetts. It registers simultaneously that she moves her resting place and that in being kidnapped she was, in Susan Howe’s words “abducted from the structure of experience,” plunged into “amorphous psychic space.”23 The text traces interactions amongst landscape, event, and Bible to mediate self and authority; it shapes her time in the wilderness in the mode of religious complaint. Printed as section headings, the removes track each time her captors “remove,” or, perhaps, each time she is “removed” by them. “Remove” (for Rowlandson both noun and verb) has considerably narrowed in range since the seventeenth century when it suggested leaving, moving, also, more specifically to be displaced, transferred from a position or role or house; “to keep apart or separate”; detach. At the same time, it meant to kill or die and, in one of its more specific meanings, to move a trial from one court to another. It also pertained to the subject―a person might be removed from their opinion; moved emotionally and change “in form or character,” indeed “transform.”24 While for us, Rowlandson’s march makes a strange parallel with the forcible internment of Massachusett and Nipmuc families on Deer Island, in her terms, she is dragged “up and down the Wilderness”25; the Indians’ paths are, to her, wastes. Ultimately, Rowlandson turns out to have travelled in a large circle, but for much of the journey she was lost, with her destination unknown. She writes in an early remove that she must “travel with them into the vast and desolate wilderness, I knew not wither.” These “Barbarous Creatures” travel sometimes, “three days together, without resting,” in snow, and with the “English” close behind.26 Rowlandson describes a journey that often deteriorates into a desperate attempt to stay alive, eat, and keep their enemies outwitted. Documenting physical movement while adrift and experiencing herself in new and frightening ways, Rowlandson dramatises



effort, endurance, and event in terms of sin, providence, and redemption. Biblical wilderness, like Job’s voice, echoes her ordeal in a biblical landscape iconography.27 At the fifth remove a key event in the flight of Rowlandson’s captors shows her interpretative strategies. The Indians must cross the Bacquang River in freezing conditions to reach terrain much safer for them but even more disorienting for Rowlandson. As Rowlandson later confirms, they are in flight from the English army and send back “their stoutest men,” to hold troops “in play whilst the rest escaped.”28 Rowlandson describes their flight: with their old, and with their young: some carried their old decrepit mothers, some carried one, and some another. Four of them carried a great Indian upon a Bier; but going through a thick Wood with him, they were hindred, and could make no hast; whereupon they took him upon their backs, and carried him, one at a time, till they came to Bacquaug River. Upon a Friday, a little after noon we came to this River. When all the company was come up, and were gathered together, I thought to count the number of them, but they were so many, and being somewhat in motion, it was beyond my skil.29

Even as Rowlandson describes an experience so confusing it defeats even basic counting, the text marked by fascination by the sheer number of Indians, all moving, working, and acting according to plans. Like Crusoe after her, Rowlandson hopes to make sense of a wilderness in numbers and measurement, but unlike him she finds herself overwhelmed in something much closer to Homi Bhabha’s third space, a space where culture, temporality, and event become “disjunctive,” ambiguous, even, for her, uninterpretable.30 At the Bacquang, Rowlandson’s text recognises the skill and success of the Indians but struggles to decipher its meaning. Her mind’s, or, at least, her later published narrative’s, dwelling on it generates a complex mixture of record and meditation. At the river: They quickly sett to cutting dry trees, to make Rafts to carry them over the river: and soon my turn came to go over: By the advantage of some brush which they had laid upon the Raft to sit upon, I did not wet my foot (which many of themselves at the other end were mid-leg deep) which cannot but be acknowledged as a favour of God to my weakned body, it being a very cold time. I was not before acquainted with such kind of doings or dangers.



When thou passest through the water I will be with thee, and thorough the Rivers they shall not overflow thee, Isai. 43.2. A certain number of us got over the River that night, but it was the night after the Sabbath before all the company was got over.31

Rowlandson marks for readers that she, personally, did not wet her foot, and backs up with an Isaiah verse promising safety from flood. She marks, too, the contrast between the success of the Indians in ferrying across their number on makeshift rafts and, that on the very day they leave, “came the English Army after them to this River, and saw the smoak of their Wigwams, and yet this river put a stop to them” and “God did not give them the courage or activity to go over after us.”32 Rowlandson contrasts the army’s failure and witnesses the Indians’ success at the crossing: And here I cannot but take notice of the strange providence of God in preserving the heathen: They were many hundreds, old and young, some sick, and some lame many had Papooses at their backs, the greatest number at this time with us, were Squaws, and they travelled with all they had, bag and baggage, and yet they got over this River aforesaid;

It troubles Rowlandson at this point, and often thereafter, that (notwithstanding the Indian deaths and sufferings that fill her text) from her point of view God repeatedly allows, and therefore facilitates, the Native American warriors’ escape from great dangers. Rowlandson, both immersed and lost in culture, finds that providence favours her as an individual, but punishes the political world she inhabits by favouring her captors and defeating the “English” army. While, in practical terms, Rowlandson implies that had the army crossed she could have been rescued, in providential terms her foot, the army, and the Indians make a pattern. The day after she notes God’s providential allowances to the Indians, “moaning and lamenting, leaving farther my own Country, and travelling into the vast howling wilderness,” Rowlandson knows her situation in a new way: “I understood something of Lot’s wife’s Temptation, when she looked back.”33 Having noted that her kidnappers are not punished by God, Rowlandson reflects on her own situation as subject to God’s judgement. Like Rowlandson, Lot’s wife was leaving devastation behind her and travelling perforce, but given that the reference is to temptation, a deeper similarity be implied. Lot’s wife was commonly understood to have been punished for looking back in longing for her former



life in the ways of sin. It seems, then, that the counterpointed providences of the Bacquang River prompt Rowlandson to more certainly understand her past society as ripe for divine punishment. Thus, to long for the return of a situation that precipitated the “curses” Deuteronomy promises for a broken covenant, rather than to hope for its purification and so redemption as promised would mean longing, like Lot’s wife, to return to sin. The location of the sin seems not to be Rowlandson (though she says she has been “careless” in her relation to God); rather, she is the unwilling, yet providentially preserved, witness to God’s disapprobation of the political order she has left behind.34 In this situation where she has lost her family, is doubtful about the social and political order in which she lived and seems to be preserved by providence as a witness to horror and wilderness, the function of spiritual discourse, particularly the Bible, is at stake as a sole source and guarantee of interpretation. In the wilderness the Bible is Rowlandson’s spiritual waymark and she uses its words to amplify and reinforce her voice. While Deuteronomy and Job as sources of thought for Rowlandson (and the reader) are already in place, the Bacquang episode seems to be crucial in her locating the Indians, Rowlandson, and her polity in relationship to those parts of the Bible. God’s notable dealings at the river validate Rowlandson voicing complaint both with Job as a suffering witness and in relation to the backsliding from covenant that has led to God’s punishment of the settlers. Rowlandson uses the Bible, voiced as “lamenting,” intensely after crossing the Bacquang. It gives a purchase on her situation between the eighth and about the fifteenth removes, when we read some of her most intense sufferings and thought. By this point the text is richly mulched with the matter of complaint: political solutions are beyond access because the “army” seems to be incompetent and, connectedly, represents a mode of living for which God is exacting punishment; she is herself suffering extraordinary deprivation; her family is murdered or lost. A description of hallucinatory experience marks alienation and disintegration when, presumably at rest “I should suddenly leap up and run out, as if I had been at home, forgetting where I was,” then discovers herself in “Wilderness, and Woods.”35 For all that she notes, “my mind quickly returned to me,” this hallucinated memory is mentioned at the lowest point. Loss, memory, and silence again entwine in the eighth remove when “As I sate amongst them, musing of things past,” her son, also captive for ransom, visits her. In this case, however, Job provides a way to put the experience into words and elevate it, as she laments with her son that:



We had Husbands and Father, and Children, and Sisters, and Friends, and Relations, and House, and Home, and many Comforts of this Life: but now we may say, as Job, Naked came I out of my Mothers Womb, and naked shall I return.36

Condensing nostalgia and anger, Rowlandson takes Job’s bitterest voice as her own and the confirmation and amplification allowed by speaking with Job contrasts with her past’s dissolution in musing, wordless nostalgia. The social past disappears; the cattle are gone, fields abandoned, and the lost social landscape manifests God’s displeasure at the breaking of the sacred covenant that organises political life.37 The present is the punishment that can eventually, after purgative suffering, lead to collective redemption. Thus, for the reader Job’s voice emerges as a language of sadness but, unavoidably, of protest. As Victoria Kahn suggests, antinomian understandings of grace allow for Job to be angry with God in the manufacturing of his assured and tested faith. Here, certainly, it is both, in some ways, the ultimate, experiential testimony and furious complaint. In using Job to cling to faith in the wilderness, Rowlandson’s writing asserts her state as literal and spiritual experience expressed in anger and complaint.38 Job’s voice contrasts with memory’s dangerous miasma in allowing her to mark out significant moments in her journey. The twelfth remove sees Rowlandson more lost than ever, hidden in a “mighty thicket,” in the guardianship of Weetamo, described by Rowlandson as her master’s singularly cruel wife but as records tell us, herself a sunksquaw, or warrior-­ commander.39 The narrative characterises this time as one in which, besides the hardship and exhaustion of life as a captive, Rowlandson is refused food and violence against her sanctioned. We read that in a dispute over the campfire, a squaw “threw a handful of ashes in mine eyes: I thought I should have been quite blinded … upon this, and like occasions, I hope it is not too much to say with Job, Have pitty upon me, have pitty upon me, O ye my Friends, for the Hand of the Lord has touched me” (19.21). Like her quotation from Job 16.2 (in the third remove), this is more of angry Job, as expounded by Theodore de Beza as indeed one “grieuously wounded by the hand of God.”40 A final example vividly shows the closeness of Rowlandson’s identification with Job in one of the most complex passages in the narrative. Characteristically, the events described condense exhaustion and desperate hunger:



the Squaw was boyling Horses feet, then she cut me off a little piece, and gave one of the English Children a piece also. Being very hungry I had quickly eat up mine, but the Child could not bite it, it was so tough and sinewy, but lay sucking, gnawing, chewing and slabbering of it in the mouth and hand, then I took it of the Child, and eat it my self, and savoury it was to my taste. Then I may say as Job Chap. 6.7. The things that my soul refused to touch, are as my sorrowfull meat. Thus the Lord made that pleasant refreshing, which another time would have been an abomination. Then I went home to my mistresses Wigwam; and they told me I disgraced my master with begging, and if I did so any more, they would knock me in head: I told them, they had as good knock me in head as starve me to death.41

Amongst many extraordinary scenes of desperate hunger and eating, Rowlandson’s theft of food from a young “English” captive child is perhaps the most complex. Rowlandson borrows Job’s voice to explain it, but where we might expect penitence for theft from another English Christian, we find Job used it to register the good taste of things formerly disgusting. The text marks only intense loss and suffering, not moral anxiety at stealing from “English” children. Begging may be frowned upon, but the text reserves opprobrium for those who starve Rowlandson and drive her to beg. Job’s voice is used in contrast with this social opprobrium. For the reader, it picks out Rowlandson and her experience as in a spotlight, foregrounding and isolating it so that Job, here, is entirely in the possession of Rowlandson. If, like Job, she is driven to angry protest (as in her use of 19.21), or accustomed to suffering (as here), then as this passage and God’s many providences make clear, the faults that cause her suffering are not her own. For all that it is clear that Rowlandson’s experience makes her highly literate in Indian culture, she is throughout strenuous in her refusal of it. In the case of her begging, they voice the complacent morality of a hypocritical system that shows every sign of being that of Rowlandson’s own quotidian world where begging by a pastor’s wife, and stealing, were “wrong.” Indeed, if we take a step back we can see that it is in fact both the “Indian” and settler societies, combining in war that put Rowlandson in this position. Her higher, prophetic, morality sweetens her dish. As the essays in this collection suggest, complaint is a form that voices injustice in a mode that invites empathy. The voice of Job in Rowlandson’s narrative emphasises her exclusion from and possibly, in the discussion of Lot’s wife, criticism of the political world of Massachusetts.



Rowlandson’s final deliverance is likened explicitly to the sojourn of Daniel in the lion’s den, “or the three children in the fiery Furnace.”42 But underpinning the binary logic of rescue are relationships familiar from the complaint, between the larger conceptual and ethical worlds and the crises and sufferings of the subject. If, as Susan Felch helpfully discusses in this volume, we think of “theologically-inflected” complaint as roughly divisible into prophetic (a complaint against God), petitionary (a complaint by the righteous to God), and penitential (a complaint by a penitent sinner for the deeds of his or her own people) we see the petitionary and penitential as in tandem and in tension in Rowlandson’s narrative.43 Put simply, the Psalms and Job voice her pain, and in speaking with Job, she speaks with one who has sinned and yet has, hugely, suffered in the single subject’s experience of what is promised by the covenant for all. That the Book of Job was understood as dealing with the peril and potential of the sinning subject is made clear also in Calvin’s sermons on Job, where his comments on a section of chapter one including verse fifteen note that the intensity of temptation besetting the individual mean that we think that “Gods Angels incamp themselves about the faithfull” to help them.44 The voice of Job, then, is petitionary―Rowlandson is both suffering from God’s violence and strangely saved and favoured by him. Penitential complaint, for the wickedness of her polity, is evoked through the covenant theology of Deuteronomy which reframes the same issues of fidelity, straying, and being remade within the wider question of government and law. The issues at stake in the use of Deuteronomy are what Rowlandson’s experiences, and those of her peers, disclose about the errors of the lawmakers of her community. Even as she laments with Job, Rowlandson’s use of Deuteronomy signals a political dimension to her petition and the juxtaposition of lamenting voice and covenant theology make an understanding of her as suffering for the faults of the lawgivers of her polity, an at least plausible inference for a reader to draw.

Complaint Heard and Unheard: Publication, Audience, and Record If trouble from smaller matters begin to arise in me, I have something at hand to check myself with, and say, why am I troubled? It was but the other day that if I had had the world, I would have given it for my freedom, or to have been a servant to a Christian. I have learned to look beyond present and smaller troubles, and to be quieted under them, as Moses said Exod. 14.13 Stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord.45



Thus, Rowlandson’s narrative that began with Job ends with Exodus. The verses of Exodus Chapter 14 were cited in Calvin’s Institutes as part of instruction on self-management in prayer and are an address to the subject.46 However, not only is the quotation from Exodus, the book of covenant and liberation, but it is from the chapter of Exodus in which the Israelites repine against Moses for having brought them by the sea where they are surrounded by Pharaoh’s army. Just before he stretches out his rod and parts the waters, Moses tells them: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”; so the submission of the subject is to be followed by radical action. This famous verse, as Exodus 14.14, graced the title page of the first edition of the Geneva Bible, that ultimate text of liberation, in a woodcut of the Israelites hemmed in my mountains right and left, pursued by Egyptians and, behind them, the Red Sea is labelled.47 The subject must submit for God to liberate those with whom he has made a covenant. As Michael Walzer reminds us, Deuteronomy and Exodus point the way out of political “suffering and oppression.”48 To put it literally, we can speculate on what, specifically, Rowlandson might want changed to achieve Exodus for to end with Exodus in time of trouble is not to abandon complaint, but to direct it towards the political location of God’s covenanting people. Rowlandson’s complaint is expressed in biblical language in a culture that imagined that text in relation to government. To see the wider force of her complaint we can return to the politics, law, and apprehensions of religious and cultural differences discussed at the start of the chapter in which her published text appeared, to discuss the public context of her complaint and the life of her writings in the world. Between the end of the war in 1676 and the publication of Rowlandson’s text in 1682 much had changed. Observing rightly that settlers, like Rowlandson, put Metacom’s War to work “as a device for interpreting their cultural and political crisis,” one study characterises the shift in understanding of Native Americans as from their being considered “heathens” to “savages.”49 The war became a highly charged tool in settler interpretation and distancing of the Native Americans with whom they shared space, land, and, at times, faith. For Rowlandson part of the breaking of the covenant had indeed involved too great a closeness to “Indians” and a misunderstanding of what she sees as the endless perfidy of “praying Indians,” one of whom she describes as wearing a necklace “strung with Christians fingers.”50 She writes:



Now have I seen that Scripture also fulfilled, Deut.30.4.7. If any of thine be driven out to the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee. And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them which hate thee, which persecuted thee. Thus hath the Lord brought me and mine out of that horrible pit and hath set us in the midst of tender-hearted and compassionate Christians51

Thus, part of what Rowlandson’s complaint participates in is what Philip Round terms the post-war “all-out ideological struggle” over whether “Eliot’s literacy mission had ‘civilized’ Indians at all.” For her their behaviour proves their lack of Christian virtue and justifies their separateness and the revenge taken against them.52 Her own safety, by contrast, further validates her view of God’s Choice of her as preserved witness to their depravity. In the world in which Rowlandson’s text appeared all-out ideological struggle extended far beyond the settler―“Indian” relationship within the covenant―determining as that was for the Native Americans. As it was published in Massachusetts, settlers were locked into a long and divisive struggle about what was, for them, a crucial matter in the interpretation of covenant theology: the issue of the Halfway covenant. The Halfway covenant, the agreement of some churches in 1662, to admit to communion those who had been baptised but had not (yet) had an experience of God’s grace, or a conversion experience. The practice became widespread in 1677 and the son-in-law of John Cotton, Increase Mather, debated with the chief proponent of the covenant in 1679.53 The Halfway covenant debates had huge implications for how the polity would be able to develop and the role of experiential Protestantism and theocratic authority, and within that Mather held a position more embattled and less popular than the surviving records suggest. Rowlandson did not write about the Halfway covenant, but she did voice a zeal for rethinking and renewal of the covenant which stands as a protest against the falling away of zeal and faith which had led to the war.54 Moreover, Increase Mather is the person many identify as the Ter Amicum of her text’s preface, and as Teresa Toulouse has argued, Rowlandson’s story might originally have been intended to be one of Increase Mather’s book of providences.55 So, her book certainly entered the debate and may have been designed by her sponsors to specifically intervene. In 1682, as Teresa Toulouse notes, Increase Mather urged settlers to stop behaving like “foolish little Birds Pecking at one another” when “the



great Kite” was waiting to devour all.56 A further context is provided by the existential threat faced by the Massachusetts Bay colony over its charter. By 1683, a year after Rowlandson’s narrative was published, the Colony faced a dire choice: it could agree to discuss changes to its governing charter that protected their independence, or have it revoked altogether. In June 1676 Edward Randolph, the agent of Charles II’s government, had appeared in Boston with letters from his government, bringing to an end the surprisingly long run of non-interference of the Restoration regime in a colony that had supplied and sheltered several radicals and regicides.57 Mather favoured the “popular” side―those who sought the more drastic course of holding fast to liberty, and apprehensions of suffering as under Lionel Cranfield, the rapacious governor imposed on collaborating nearby New Hampshire, which did collaborate, may stand behind his call to refresh the original mission through turning anew to God in the face of combined political, religious, and economic threat. In this context of covenant debate and existential threat, then, Rowlandson’s published complaint can be seen as harnessing it in one of Protestantism’s regular uses of the complaining female voice. Her narrative is marketed at a moment when it is in the true church’s interest to reach others, show that it is a fellowship of all who turn to Christ and are converted and reminding readers that (for Mather) fellowship is the basis for all collective action.58 Print, publicity, and circulation is a final context for understanding Rowlandson’s narrative in terms of complaint. Mather, for example, is significant now because he, unlike his enemies, made effective, regular, and acknowledged use of the printing press―and three of these were now present in the colonies.59 Indeed, the fact that he so often uses print supports the likelihood of his having taken on her project as a publishable possibility. Moreover, as Colin G.  Calloway and Neal Salisbury put it, “colonialism entailed, indeed required, controlling how history is made” and Rowlandson’s text is a salvo in the campaign for such control.60 The significance of literacy and print is indicated, but also tellingly complicated, by the post-war trajectory of one “praying Indian” who opposed the settlers: James Printer. The son of a praying Indian who was a deacon, and educated at the briefly existing Indian school at Harvard, before the war James Printer was a pressman at Harvard.61 He negotiated on behalf of Rowlandson’s captors, with whom he sided during the war, and, gaining a pardon, returned to his printing work after the war. He probably worked on the second and third editions of Rowlandson’s narrative.62



John Eliot too used print, while, as we have seen, his Indian interlocutors struggled to gain control even of writing. For all that the dominant power was the controller of print we can find traces of Indian views and presence even in the print histories that exclude them. As Kerrigan reminds us, complaint has a long history as an oral form where its political force is associated with its feminised exclusion from the polity. In a letter to Robert Boyle dated 17 December 1675 Eliot writes of the Indians who had “fled into the woods, until thei were half starved.” They had fled: Some ungodly & unrulely youth, came upon them where thei were ordered by authority to be, called them forth theire houses, shot at them, killed a child of godly parents wounded his mother & 4 more. The woman lifted up her hands to heaven & saide. Lord thou seest that we have neither done or said any thing against the English th[at] thei th[usdea]le with us.63

As Kathryn N.  Gray notes, the events and experience delineated here resemble Rowlandson’s.64 That both women use complaint throw into relief some of the gendered features of complaint in political discourse. If Rowlandson “speaks” with Job, she does so in print and calls upon an implication of her and Job’s laments as oral.65 In seventeenth-century England female-voiced politicised complaint has access to being understood as a voice excluded from the polity yet that convention itself locates the complaint within the domain of political discourse (in a similar way Greek tragedy uses the female voice as disenfranchised, beyond the polity, yet voicing the pain of events). The externality of the voice constitutes its location within the bounds of recognisably political discourse. This woman’s complaint, however, was excluded from the polity not in the dramatic gesture of being published within it (as was Rowlandson’s when she was returned) but in being one of the mediated lost voices of the “praying Indians” about whom Rowlandson complained, and with whom she shared desperate circumstances. Heard only by Eliot, the woman’s complaint exists only in, perhaps only as, his words and is unformalised by the genres of writing which were, themselves, bound into the struggles over land. It is one of the fragmentary records of the Native American groups noted at this chapter’s opening. While the historical study of New England works with landscape and contemporary oral accounts, this literary discussion focuses on texts and in doing so privileges both settler history and the genres of settler knowledge. However, although part of Rowlandson’s voiced complaint involved protest against the voices of Indians, it is also in



itself marked by traces of women’s and men’s suffering, both settler and Native American, “praying” and unconverted, and the framework of complaint brings to the fore some shared circumstances of political disenfranchisement and suffering, distinctly inflected. What, then, do Rowlandson’s text and the mode of complaint suggest about each other? Understanding Rowlandson’s text through the lens of complaint illuminates the close connection between Rowlandson’s biblical exegesis and the political and cultural tensions in the region, enabling readers to more richly historicise the text in New England’s complex power dynamics. In attending to the centrality of those kinds of narrative in the New England experience, the juxtaposition of Rowlandson and this woman’s complaint raises the issue of how settler and Native American people’s politicised complaint from this moment in early contact might be framed together. Finally, with regard to complaint, reading this experiential narrative in relation to it suggests the complaint is a framework that can be productive in framing the interrelations of politics and religion in other texts by the Civil War, such as Anna Trapnel’s speeches in Whitehall. Finally, we must consider what approaching Rowlandson’s narrative from this vantage point suggests in terms of thinking about complaint. While scholars use the paraphrase and the Jeremiad, we can substantially deepen our analysis of prophetic, narrative, and experiential texts of Protestantism and link them in succinct ways to the politics of their moment if we ask whether such texts as those by Anna Trapnel and Sarah Wight are addressing the world in the mode of complaint. If complaint needs to sit alongside captivity in thinking on Rowlandson, it can also offer a significant additional dimension to the ways in which we think about seventeenth-century writing at the borders of religion and politics. Acknowledgement  I am grateful to the editors and particularly to Sarah Ross, to Jenny Noble for editorial help far beyond the call and to the two readers for helpful and constructive comments.

Notes 1. The London publication survives intact and is published in facsimile A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs Mary Rowlandson (London, 1682), reprinted in Narratives of North American Indian Captivities, ed. Wilcomb E.  Washburn, vol. 1 (New York & London: Garland, 1977). Only a few pages of the first Boston edition survive and



Neal Salisbury takes the second Boston edition (1682) as the basis for his edition, used throughout this essay: The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (Boston: St Martin’s Press, 1997), here p.  68. This edition is especially valuable as the only one offering supporting documentation including Native American witnesses on Metacom’s War. 2. See as a selection of material using the frame of the captivity narrative: reviews of the field, for example Robert W.  G. Vail, “Certain Indian Captives of New England,” in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society series 3, no. 63 (1944–1947): 113–131; Gordon M.  Sayre, “Captivity Canons,” American Quarterly 50, no. 4 (1998): 860–867; editions, for example Narratives of North American Indian Captivities, ed. Washburn; the critical tradition, for example Michelle Burnham, Captivity and Sentiment: Cultural Exchange in American Literature 1682–1861 (Hanover: New England University Press, 1997); Christopher Castiglia, Bound and Determined: Captivity, Culture-Crossing, and White Womanhood from Mary Rowlandson to Patty Hearst (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996); Gary L. Ebersole, Captured by Texts: Puritan to Post-Modern Images of Indian Captivity (Charlottesville, VA: Virginia University Press, 1995). 3. John Kerrigan, ed., Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint”: A Critical Anthology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 222–226. See also Sarah C.  E. Ross, Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 45, 56. 4. See the texts excerpted by Neal Salisbury in The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, 115–168. 5. For contact in this period see Kathryn N. Gray, John Eliot and the Praying Indians of Massachusetts Bay (Plymouth: Bucknell University Press, 2013); on non-literate forms and recovery see Matt Cohen, The Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), esp. 1–28. 6. Neal Salisbury, “Introduction” to The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, 14–20. 7. Hilary E.  Wyss, Writing Indians: Literacy, Christianity and Native Community in Early America (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000), 173 n10; Jill Lepore, “Dead Men Tell No Tales: John Sassom and the Fatal Consequences of Literacy,” American Quarterly 46 (1994): 497–502. 8. Richard Slotkin and James K. Folsom, So Dreadful a Judgement: Puritan Responses to King Philip’s War, 1676–77 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1978), 27–38; Richard W. Cogley, John Eliot’s Mission to the Indians before King Philip’s War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 198.



9. Henry W. Bowden and James P. Ronda, eds., John Eliot’s Indian Dialogues: A Study in Cultural Interaction (Westport and London: Greenwood Press, 1980), 121–123; Kenneth M. Morrison, “‘That art of coyning Christians’: John Eliot and the Praying Indians of Massachusetts,” Ethnohistory 21, no. 2 (1974): 78–9, 85–8. 10. See, for example, Philip H. Round, Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663–1880 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 40. 11. Richard W. Cogley, John Eliot’s Mission to the Indians before King Philip’s War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 198–200. 12. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 70. 13. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 70. 14. Salisbury, “Introduction,” 16, 9. 15. “Notebook of the Reverend John Fiske, 1644–1675,” ed. Robert G. Pope, Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts 47 (1974): 3–235 (4). 16. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 74. 17. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 76–7. 18. Alexander Rofé, “The Book of Deuteronomy: A Summary,” in Deuteronomy: Issues and Interpretation, trans. Harvey N. Bock (London: T. and J. Clark, 2002), 3. 19. The Sermons of M.  John Calvin upon the fifth book of Moses called Deuteronomie, trans. Arthur Golding (London, 1583). See also Michael Besso, “Thomas Hooker and his May 1638 Sermon,” Early American Studies 10 (2012): 194–225 (209); on Calvinist reading in the later seventeenth century see Dunstan Roberts, “Additions to the Library of William Dowsing,” eBLJ 1, 2013: 1–7. 20. See discussion in B. Pitkin, “Calvin’s Mosaic Harmony: Biblical Exegesis and Early Modern Legal History,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 41, no. 2 (2010): 441–466; summary on covenant, 444–445. 21. Calvin, Sermons … upon … Deuteronomie, 1053–1054. 22. On influence see Donald K.  McKim, ed., The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), especially R. Ward Holder, “Calvin’s Heritage,” 251; Carl R. Trueman, “Calvin and Calvinism,” 239. 23. Susan Howe, The Birth-Mark (Hanover and London: Wesleyan University Press, 1993), 96, 124. 24. OED n and v. 25. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 70. 26. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 96. 27. See, for example, excerpts in Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 88, 131, 135, 191, 229, 235, 277. 28. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 78.



29. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 78–9. 30. Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (Routledge: London, 1994), 152–3, 37–8. 31. See also Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 78–9. 32. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 80. 33. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 80. 34. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 89. 35. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 88. 36. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 81–82. 37. See Benedict Anderson, “Exodus,” Critical Inquiry 20, no. 2 (1994): especially 314–316, 325–327. 38. Victoria Kahn, “Job’s Complaint in Paradise Regained,” English Literary History 76, no. 3 (2009): especially 640–643. I am very grateful to Sarah Ross for this reference. 39. John A. Strong, “Algonquian Women as Sunksquaws and Caretakers of the Soil: The Documentary Evidence in the Seventeenth-Century Records,” in Native American Women in Literature and Culture, ed. Susan Castillo and Victor M.  P. Da Rosa (Porto: Fernando Pessoa University Press, 1997), 193–203. 40. Theodore de Beza, Job Expounded (Cambridge, 1589), sig. Q1v. Beza’s significance in New England is emphasised by Perry Miller, The New England Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954) 93, 99, 339. 41. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 96. 42. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 107. 43. Susan M. Felch, “Anne Lock and the Instructive Complaint,” Chap. 2 in this volume. 44. Sermons of Master John Calvin, upon the Booke of Job, trans. Arthur Golding (London, 1574) (BL 3165.f.14, p. 24). 45. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 112. 46. Calvin, Institutes, trans. and ed. Ford Lewis Battles (London: Collins, 1986), 75. 47. The Bible and Holy Scriptures (Geneva, 1560); John Coffey, Exodus and Liberation (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 31–6. 48. Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution (New York: Basic Books, 1985), ix–xi, 33–4, 73–79 (ix). 49. Slotkin and Folsom, So Dreadful a Judgement, 303, 39. 50. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 98. 51. Rowlandson, Sovereignty, ed. Salisbury, 110. 52. Round, Removable Type, 40. 53. Katharine Gerbner, “Beyond the ‘Half-way Covenant’: Church Membership, Extended Baptism and Outreach in Cambridge,



Massachusetts 1655–1667,” New England Quarterly 85, no. 2 (2012): 281–301, 284; Philip F.  Gura, “Going Mr. Stoddard’s Way: William Williams on Church Privileges, 1693,” William and Mary Quarterly 5, no. 3 (1988): 491. 54. Tara Fitzpatrick, “The Figure of Captivity: The Cultural Work of the Puritan Captivity Narrative,” American Literary History 3, no. 1 (1991): 1. 55. Teresa Toulouse, “The Sovereignty and Goodness of God in 1682: Royal Authority, Female Captivity, and ‘Creole’ Male Identity,” English Literary History 67, no. 4 (2000): 935, 939, 941. Toulouse’s points concerning the context of publication stand whether or not we accept the wider argument of her piece concerning female “passivity.” 56. Increase Mather, A Sermon Wherein is Shewed the Church of God is Sometimes the Subject of Great Persecution (Boston, 1682), 20; qtd. in Teresa Toulouse, 947 and see also Toulouse’s discussion. 57. Michael Garibaldi Hall, Edward Randolph and the American Colonies 1676–1703 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1960), 21–22; Michael G. Hall, The Last American Puritan: The Life of Increase Mather (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988), 187. 58. Hall, Increase Mather, 190. 59. Hall, Edward Randolph, 21–22; Increase Mather, 119, 137–140. 60. Colin G.  Calloway and Neal Salisbury, “Decolonizing New England Indian History” in Reinterpreting New England Indians and the Colonial Experience, ed. Calloway and Salisbury (Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2003), 71, 13–24, 13. 61. Round, Removable Type, 40. For more on James Printer, see Christine M. DeLucia, Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2018), 51–54. 62. Salisbury, “Introduction,” 34–37, 49. 63. John Eliot to Robert Boyle 17 December 1675 in The Correspondence of Robert Boyle, ed. Michael Hunter et  al., vol. 4 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2001), 400–401. 64. Gray, John Eliot, 115. 65. Kerrigan, Motives of Woe, 222–226.


Anne Killigrew and the Restoration of Complaint Kate Lilley

Complaint engages the problematic of melancholic expression and poeticization as such: voice, figurability, address and iterability, poised at the threshold of extinction. Inseparable from the most fundamental interests of rhetoric, poetics and hermeneutics, writing and speech, genre and mode, complaint foregrounds the pleasure-pain of Roland Barthes’s Lover’s Discourse: “To know that one does not write for the other, to know that these things I am going to write will never cause me to be loved by the one I love (the other), to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there where you are not—this is the beginning of writing.”1 Before expression is possible, however, the scene of complaint must be discovered and visualized. An ekphrastic representation of framed and embedded distress, usually female or feminized, is preserved through prosopopoeia in the process of its apostrophic enunciation as a speaking picture, simultaneously fixed and moving. Complaint’s distinctive attachment to elaborate framing devices, along with a marked commitment to the repetition of highly conventionalized and stylized K. Lilley (*) University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_12




visual and poetic topoi, enacts a self-conscious interest in the relationship between the exemplary and singular: who speaks, who listens? Finding (and losing) ourselves within layers of textual re-presentation and echo, complaint’s readers are made narratively and temporally proximate to the complainant’s performance of extremity and exhaustion, as remediation. Complaint demands a careful (care-full), agile reader, alert to the interplay of stasis and movement, repetition and variation, and the complex dynamics of situation, character and voice. That implied reader is modelled by, but distinct from, the narrator, whose task it is both to (re)vivify complaint’s death drive and protect us from it: to guide us into, through and out of complaint’s allegorical world of woe. The reader experiences a kind of mirroring vertigo in the folds of recursive layers of witnessing and identification. Even as the frame formally distances us from complaint’s discourse of negation, we are drawn into an experience of unlimited suffering that is constitutively uncontainable. As John Kerrigan writes in the wonderfully suggestive introduction to Motives of Woe, his influential critical anthology, complaint’s repetitive, involuted rhetoric offers the formally “attuned” author-reader paradoxically “varied pleasures” and “finely calibrated shifts of feeling”: “crossing lyric with narrative, the dramatic with the epistolary, it absorbs styles and subjects not synthesized by other kinds.”2 Most scholarship on early modern complaint has tended to focus on the late sixteenth-century craze for Ovidian “female” complaint and its relation to Petrarchan poetics and politics more generally. Complaint in its wider usage is a more “permeable” and flexible object of analysis, “at one extreme elegy and at the other satire.”3 Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah Ross evocatively describe the “consanguinity of complaint and elegy” (349). They intersect and overlap but tend in different directions. Elegy is aligned with the drive of mourning towards consolation and historical memorialization (actual deaths of actual persons) while complaint generates recurring tableaux of annihilation and abandonment. Complaint in general is inseparable from the rendering of subjectivity as grievance. Indeed, some medieval and early modern scholars have understood complaint as inseparable from the emergence of a vernacular discourse of subjectivity, desire and difference, in literature and at law.4 Canonical accounts of genre, including both early modern elegy and complaint, foreground masculine eloquence. In the case of “female complaint,” ventriloquized femininity functions precisely as a ruse of masculine virtuosity no matter whether one understands it as performed on behalf of, or at the expense of, women.5 Like the sonnet



sequences with which it was so often paired in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, complaint’s highly stylized, conventionalized character made it accessible but also an apt vehicle for the demonstration of poetic virtuosity. Abundant in early modern miscellanies and most canonically represented by Spenser, Daniel, Drayton, Shakespeare and Marvell, the simultaneously arresting and moving spectacle of male-­ authored “female complaint” used a skeletal repertoire of gestures, ingeniously worked and reworked, to produce allegories of gendered textuality and transhistorical, legendary experience that continued to be influential throughout the seventeenth century. Lynn Enterline has compellingly shown that the vogue for “female complaint,” with its “unsettling conjunction of rhetoric, sex, and violence” (35), was in part a queer disciplinary effect of the humanist rhetorical training of pubescent boys in classical and especially Ovidian imitation. These pedagogical practices, she argues, produced “vivid connections” between “unconventional forms of sexuality” and “the favored linguistic forms and techniques of the Latin grammar school” (31), “destabilizing the distinct identity categories for gender and desire schoolmasters declared themselves to be in the business of creating” (38). Adducing Shakespeare’s and Marvell’s “shared preference” for Ovidian allusion and imitation (31), she finds in their complaints “resistance as much as indebtedness to grammar school instruction” (33). Enterline reads Marvell’s attraction to figurations of girls and the nymph, Echo, in particular, as “estranging heterosexuality in the process of representing it” (36).6 In what follows, my discussion of early modern female-authored complaint takes its lead from these emphases on generic flexibility, absorption and assemblage, on the one hand, and the temporally complex poetics of sexual “category crisis” (Enterline 43) and “imminent threat” (45) on the other. To the extent that the significance and copia of self-consciously studious, resistant complaint by early modern women is now visible at all, it is in and through the revisionist work of contemporary feminist scholars and editors of early modern women’s writing―themselves keen students and perverse products of the schoolroom. Now well into its second generation, such labour joins the energy of anti-normative critique to the sexually engaged dialectics of self and other, identification and resistance, in a way that is consistent with the rhetoric of complaint. Although the existence of female-authored early modern complaint was represented in a limited way in the revisionist period anthologies of the late 1980s and



1990s, the real opening of this field was the fruit of feminist scholarship energized by melancholy and grievance: in that sense both “early modern women’s writing” and early modern women’s writing are motivated by complaint. The groundbreaking anthology, Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth Century Women’s Verse (1988), published by Virago (a press solely devoted to the remediation of women’s writing, framed by new feminist prefaces), first documented a previously all but unknown body of female-authored complaint. The editors of Kissing the Rod took as their volume’s epigraph “Eliza’s” lines: “But why do I complain of thee? / ‘Cause thou’rt the Rod that scourgeth mee? / But if a good child I will bee, / I’le kiss the Rod, and honour thee.” The significance of the formal and political orientation provided by this epigraph cuts both ways: it encompasses both the obscure early modern women anthologized and their contemporary female editors. This capacious survey of seventeenth-­ century women’s poetry is dominated by modes and genres of mourning and critique, including complaints by Elizabeth Melville, Aemilia Lanyer, Lady Mary Wroth, Rachel Speght, Alice Sutcliffe, Anna Hume, Lady Jane Cavendish, Lady Elizabeth Brackley, Anne Bradstreet, Margaret Cavendish, Katherine Philips, Elizabeth Wilmot, Frances Boothby, Aphra Behn, “Ephelia,” Anne Wharton, Anne Killigrew, Sarah Fyge Egerton, Elizabeth Singer  Rowe, Elizabeth Thomas and others. The prominence of complaint and elegy in Kissing the Rod was both true to the field of women’s poetry it surveyed and influential in the contemporary critical field it helped to produce.7 The contemporary affect theorist, Lauren Berlant, argues that the power of female complaint lies in its unfolding of “a common emotional world available to those individuals who have been marked by the historical burden of being harshly treated in a generic way.”8 Berlant’s locution, “a common emotional world,” speaks to the whole history of complaint’s mediation and remediation of gendered cultural, aesthetic and erotic experience. My interest has a double focus: the early modern women who used the affordances of complaint to address and conjure “intimate publics” (Berlant’s coinage), and the feminist and queer scholars who do likewise by embedding these women and their texts within their own framed complaints, claiming a relationship to authorship, language, and genre as minoritized subjects.9 Berlant makes the crucial point that these “complaint genres of ‘women’s culture’… maintain some fidelity to the world of distinction and desire that produced such disappointment in the first place” (Berlant 2). Focussing on the gifted courtier, Anne Killigrew (1660–1685), I will argue that she gravitated to poetic complaint as a



formally propitious and yet decorous way for an educated, young, unmarried woman to engage the problematic of female agency, intellection, and creativity as melancholic and critical in the context of the libertine court of Charles II.10 As Carol Barash writes, “Killigrew was born into a family that had for several generations attended and lived with royalty” (Barash 162). The courts of Catherine of Braganza at Whitehall and Mary of Modena at St James’s Palace were Killigrew’s intimate haunts and intricately entwined with her family’s everyday life and history. Anne’s family connections to the networks of court, literary, and theatrical culture were wide and deep. Her father, Dr Henry Killigrew (1613–1700), chaplain to James, Duke of York, later master of the Savoy Hospital and prebendary of Westminster, published Latin poems and a play as a young man, Sermons Preached at Whitehall (1685), and a translation of Martial’s Epigrams (1695) towards the end of his life. Her mother, Judith (d.1683), reputed to be an excellent musician, was lady in waiting to Catherine of Braganza, as was her aunt, Elizabeth Killigrew (1622–1680).11 Her father’s brother, Thomas Killigrew, playwright, groom of the bedchamber, and master of the revels, was appointed by Charles II to manage the King’s Company in 1660, the year of Anne’s birth. Thomas was the first to introduce actresses to the English stage and Aphra Behn’s hit, The Rover (1677), was an adaptation of his play, Thomaso.12 Anne’s reputation for anti-libertine disdain―stately, severe virtue expressly modelled on Catherine of Braganza and Mary of Modena― reads differently when we know, as Paula Backscheider has commented, that the Killigrew who was notoriously lampooned by name in the pornographic verse satire, On the Ladies of the Court (1663), was Anne’s aunt, Elizabeth, her father’s sister, maid of honour to Henrietta Maria in exile, and sometime mistress of the future Charles II: “Killigrew is whore enough, / And though her cunt be not so rough, / She makes it up in motion.” Charlotte, Elizabeth’s illegitimate daughter by Charles, was Anne’s first cousin.13 Unusually ambitious and accomplished in the arts of poetry and painting, Anne’s death from smallpox at twenty-five led her father, Dr Henry Killigrew, chaplain to James, Duke of York (later James II), to produce a memorial volume from his daughter’s manuscript remains. This elegant volume was published with significant commendatory apparatus of male compliment, including Dryden’s famous ode, “To the Pious Memory of the Accomplished Young Lady Mrs. Anne Killigrew,” and a frontispiece engraving by Isaac Beckett based on Killigrew’s own self-portrait.14



Killigrew’s volume of posthumous poems is dominated by complaints: “A Farewell to Worldly Joys,” “The Complaint of a Lover,” “To my Lady Berkeley, Afflicted,” “An Invective Against Gold,” “The Miseries of Man,” “Upon the saying that my Verses were made by another,” “The Discontent” and “Penelope to Ulysses.” To these are added three pastoral dialogues, an elegy, an epic fragment, a series of ekphrastic poems on her own paintings, occasional poems honouring Catherine of Braganza (“To the Queen”) and other virtuous noblewomen, and several philosophical meditations on love and death. Styling herself as a “warlike Virgin” and femme forte, devotee of the “Queen of Verse” and defender of “Vertues Cause” (“To the Queen”)”, Killigrew announces in her early epic fragment, “Alexandreis”: “My choicest hours to thee I’ll dedicate, / Tis thou shalt rule, tis thou shalt be my fate.”15 She places herself explicitly under the protection of Mary of Modena and Catherine of Braganza, “a Saint and Queen” (“On the Birthday of Queen Catherine”), avatars of dignity and wronged virtue.16 Killigrew’s poems bear witness to the opportunities and perils of the court for young women like herself, and the linked aesthetic and sexualized motives of writing and painting. Anne Killigrew’s poems are emphatically the work of a young woman, full to the brim with bad feeling, the “sad effects” and “shame” of “my most unlucky Wit,” but also empowered by privilege and ability: “reason,” education, talent, drive. Her resolute claim to authority as a poet and painter is linked to an equally unwavering sexual continence such that each seems to be an effect of the other. Killigrew’s poems show her to be, above all, a refined and highly literate poet of sexual critique. Margaret Ezell’s edition usefully stresses the circulation of Killigrew’s poems in manuscript during her lifetime and the subsequent shaping of her reputation in the homosocial print volume sponsored by her father. Killigrew references the history of male-authored female complaint―Ovid, Spenser, Sidney―but reserves her most explicit poetic commentary for “Orinda,” Katherine Philips. Killigrew’s poems do share some formal and political resonances with Philips and there are intriguing social connections too, especially with the Boyle family who did so much to promote Philips’s reputation.17 Apotheosized by untimely death, Philips’s cultivation of significant courtly connections through upwardly mobile networks of friendship, Royalist alliance and literary reputation, culminated in the canonizing posthumous edition of Poems by the Most Deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips the Matchless Orinda (1667). In the case of Aphra Behn, on the other hand, her acknowledged



brilliance and immodest versatility served only to deepen the stain on her reputation. Born and bred a courtier, Anne Killigrew was acutely aware of the benefits and risks of her position: the same structure that facilitated and constrained her access to the prerogatives of authorship also afforded her the privilege of complaint. In the context of the Restoration vogue for complaint and heroic drama, Killigrew’s poetry (at least as we know of it) favours the courtly allegorical, intertextual mode for its hauteur, protective cover, gentility and display of learning. Within its formal generic frame, expression is pleasingly hand in glove with concealment. When Killigrew dares more overtly autobiographical complaint, as in “Upon the saying that my Verses were made by another” (now her best known and most anthologized poem), the ideological double bind of the female courtier-poet furnishes plenty of opportunity for skilful manoeuvre. Under the sway of poetic praise, granted by the “Queen of Verse” through the mediation of “the Judicious,” the virgin supplicant narrates her own arousal as a scene of initiation: “What pleasing Raptures fill’d my Ravisht Sense?” Killigrew’s “flatter’d sight” hallucinates a “transform’d Daphne” in “each Verdant Tree”: “And ev’ry fresher Branch, and ev’ry Bow / Appear’d as Garlands to impale my Brow.” The metonymic sequence of “my Pen,” and “ev’ry fresher Branch, and ev’ry Bow,” promises to neutralize the threat of Apollo, fashioning a new order of feminine “Joy,” autoerotic and homoerotic, from the materials of poesis with “Garlands to impale my Brow.” Beginning with a vestigial frame, the poem’s narration is embedded and retrospective: “Next Heaven my Vows to thee (O Sacred Muse!) / I offer’d up,” “O Queen of Verse, said I.” This truncated dream vision telegraphs its structure of disappointment, moving from the expansive paired apostrophe of the opening (a double “O”) to its “Holocaust”: Embolden’d thus, to Fame I did commit, (By some few hands) my most Unlucky Wit. But, ah, the sad effects that from it came! What ought t’have brought me Honour, brought me shame! (31–34)

Between “O” and “ah,” a punitive interpolated voice intercedes to skewer the vision of Daphne’s wreathed in garlands (“my Pleasure, my Employment”). In a characteristically skilful move, Killigrew marks the passage from “Raptures” of “False Hope” to “nought” with a generic commentary in the historic present:



The Learn’d in Love say, Thus the Winged Boy Does first approach, drest up in welcome Joy; At first he to the Cheated Lovers’ sight Nought represents, but Rapture and Delight, Alluring Hopes, Soft Fears, which stronger bind Their Hearts, than when they more assurance find. (25–30)

Breaking into the narration and disturbing the temporal order of the poem, a punitive chorus aligned with “the Judicious” who had “prais’d my Pen,” ushers in the allegory of “Aesop’s Painted Jay”: “I seem’d to all, / Adorn’d in Plumes, I not my own could call.” As this fable of deauthorization is narrated, the embodied presence of the female speaker seems to cut through the “Plumes” of reported speech, intertextual citation, and simile: Rifl’d like her, each one my Feathers tore, And, as they thought, unto the Owner bore. My Laurels thus another’s Brow adorn’d, My Numbers they Admir’d, but Me they scorn’d: (37–40)

Having led us to the “Abyss” where she and her “numbers” are disjoined and “lost,” Killigrew introduces Katherine Philips as “Orinda”; her authorial name and “Radiant Soul that shone Within” indivisible from “What she did write.” Killigrew’s “Upon the saying” does not precisely clarify whether “Orinda” is the poet to whom her verses have been attributed, but her timely introduction certainly encourages that complimentary thought. “Orinda” appears as a kind of deus ex machina, a figure in a masque, representing posthumous poetic justice unobstructed by gender, social position or “Th’Envious Age.” In another figure of inversion, the poem ends with Killigrew renewing her virgin complaint. Denying Phoebus, she vows to embrace Cassandra’s fate and thus revenge herself with the unstoppable “flow” of her “Deathless Numbers”: Th’Envious Age, only to Me alone, Will not allow, what I do write, my Own, But let ‘em Rage, and ‘gainst a Maid Conspire, So Deathless Numbers from my Tuneful Lyre Do ever flow; so Phoebus I by thee Divinely Inspired and possest may be;



I willingly accept Cassandra’s Fate, To speak the Truth, although believ’d too late. (57–64)

This same commitment to the truth of negation is at the core of all Killigrew’s complaints. In “The Discontent,” the figuration of contented female friendship, famously associated with Orinda, is categorically rejected18: Love in no Two was ever yet the same, No happy two ere felt an equal flame,

The only relief from “hated Hymen” in Killigrew’s threatening world is the projection of an asocial, atemporal eutopia:      VI Is there that Earth by Human Foot ne’er prest? That Air which never yet by Human Breast Respir’d, did Life supply?   Oh, thither let me fly!   Where from the World at such a distance set, All that’s past, present and to come I may forget:   The Lover’s Sighs, and the Afflicted’s Tears,   What e’er may wound my Eyes or Ears.    The grating Noise of Private Jars,    The horrid sound of Public Wars,    Of babbling Fame the Idle Stories,    The short-liv’d Triumphs Noisy-Glories,    The Curious Nets the subtile weave,    The Word, the Look that may deceive. No Mundane Care shall more affect my Breast,    My profound Peace shake or molest: But Stupor, like to Death, my Senses blind,    That so I may anticipate that Rest, Which only in my Grave I hope to find. (“The Discontent”)

This is no pastoral topos of retirement from courtly vice. It is an apostrophe to the dissolution of the real, the annihilation of the senses, and the evisceration of history: a young female courtier’s dream of blowing up the world with the force of her complaint and, with it, “What e’re may wound.”



One of the most striking features of Killigrew’s poems is her witting engagement of the problematic of sexual difference through prosopopoeia, complaint’s signature, while at other times she writes overtly in her own person.19 In a cognate way, Killigrew toggles between allegory and realism. The insistently sexualized metaphorics of threat in the poems, first noted by Kristina Straub, generate anxiety, a febrile quality able to be resolved only by death, “thou safest End of all our Woe,” “Thou sweet Repose to Lovers’ sad despair”: No subtle Serpents in the Grave betray, Worms on the body there, not Soul do prey; No Vice there tempts, no Terrors there afright, No Coz’ning Sin affords a false delight: No vain Contentions do that Peace annoy, No fierce Alarms break the lasting Joy.    (“On Death,” 15–20)

Here, as so often, Killigrew relies on negation to make a case apophatically: “No, those that faint and tremble at thy Name, / Fly from their Good on a mistaken Fame” (29–30).20 “The Complaint of a Lover” opens by establishing its negative mise en scène: Seest thou yonder craggy Rock   Whose Head o’erlooks the swelling Main, Where never Shepherd fed his Flock,   Or careful Peasant sow’d his Grain. No wholesome Herb grows on the same,   Or Bird of Day will on it rest; Tis Barren as the Hopeless Flame,   That scorches my tormented Breast. (1–8)

The scorched locus classicus of complaint cannot simply be mapped onto pastoral; if anything it is anti-pastoral and quite distinct from Killigrew’s pastoral dialogues.21 The next stanzas introduce a recessive, feminine cave of the kind discussed by Kerrigan in Motives of Woe, an eroticized, involuted, virgin space fantasmatically analogous to the maid of honour’s private reading and writing closet:



Deep underneath a Cave does lie,   Th’entrance hid with dismal Yew, Where Phoebus never show’d his Eye   Or cheerful Day yet pierced through. In that dark Melancholy Cell,   (Retreat and Solace to my Woe) Love, sad Despair, and I do dwell,   The Springs from whence my Griefs do flow. (9–16)

The generative reservoir of female complaint finds its motive and object in the sight of Rosalinda, as revealed by “Treacherous Love”: Treacherous Love that did appear,   (When he at first approach’t my Heart) Drest in a Garb far from severe,   Or threat’ning ought of future smart. So Innocent those Charms then seem’d  When Rosalinda first I spy’d Ah! Who would them have deadly deem’d?   But Flowers do often Serpents hide. Beneath those sweets conceal’d lay,   To Love the cruel Foe, Disdain, With which (alas) she does repay   My Constant and Deserving Pain. (17–28)

The serpentine figure traced here opens the spectre of love of woman, and perhaps between women (since the “I” is technically ungendered). Complaint thrives in this echo chamber, adding yet another coil of involution to the poem’s mise en abyme: Sleep, which to others Ease does prove,   Comes unto me, alas, in vain: For in my Dreams I am in Love,   And in them too she does Disdain. Sometimes t’Amuse my Sorrow, I   Unto the hollow Rocks repair, And loudly to the Echo cry,   Ah! gentle Nymph come ease my Care.



Thou who, times past, a Lover wer’t   Ah! pity me, who now am so, And by a sense of thine own smart,   Alleviate my Mighty Woe. Come Flatter then, or Chide my Grief;   Catch my last Words and call me Fool; Or say, she Loves, for my Relief My Passion either soothe, or School. (33–48)

Gender mobility and instability in Killigrew’s “The Complaint of a Lover” is linked to temporal, aural, and rhetorical infolding as the generic material of complaint’s last words. Masculine figures―pastoral, georgic and mythic―are purged from the poem at its opening: “never Shepherd fed his Flock, / Or careful Peasant sow’d his Grain” (3–4); “Phoebus never show’d his Eye.” (11). When “Love” appears, “he” takes a masculine pronoun but is hermaphroditically coupled with Rosalinda, the object of desire, through the deictic reversibility of “those Charms” and the emblem of “sweets conceal’d”―”Flowers do often Serpents hide” (24)―in a move reminiscent of Behn’s “To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagin’d More than Woman.” The passion of complaint can be “School[ed]” and “soothe[d],” (48) to a degree, by establishing a dramatic-­pictorial situation animated by “Tears” and “Sighs” (29–30), but the feminized poetics of overhearing and repetition creates an engulfing sensorium to draw in the “smart” (20) of other lovers and refill the “Melancholy Cell” (13) with “times past” (41) and the prospect of future grief.22 In similarly formally overdetermined fashion, in Killigrew’s “The Miseries of Man,” “melancholy Cloris” “repair[s]” (14) to a “mossy” “aged Wood” (5) in Arcadia (1), a “sad Recess”(12) where a “discontented” (11) nymph “murmur[s] forth her Woes” (12) by “a clear purling Stream”(10): “Near to the Mourning Nymph she chose a Seat, / And these Complaints did to the Shades repeat.” (17–18). Within this classically recursive frame, Killigrew establishes a hyperfeminine, hypergeneric echo chamber whose “oblique windings” (9) lead us into the cave/wood of complaint as into a textual repository for the “Miseries of Man”: “And when her sorrow something was subdued / She thus again her sad complaint renewed.” (146–147). Cloris’s catalogue of miseries flows along a double track with the undisclosed or purely apostrophic murmuring of the



discontented nymph and winds its way through the stations of Death, Poverty, Sickness, and “The Bloody Fields that are in Fame enroll’d.” (102). Her inset complaint begins by apostrophizing: “Ah wretched, truly wretched Human Race! / Your Woes from what Beginning shall I trace, / Where end” (19–21). Whilst the poem’s generic “man” shifts from the “Neuter” (24) to the masculine gendered, the complainant’s feminine personae never waivers, opportunistically aligned with feminine Nature’s “Goodly Composition” (77) of body and soul; the “faithful Wife” (117) who mourns her slain husband, “His Face and Hair, with Brains all clotted o’er, / And Warlike Weeds besmear’d with Dust and Gore” (126–7); and “the free Soul” (226) who, finally, “Joys commensurate to herself receive[s]” (227). The narrative and generic frame is renewed around the half-way mark: Clouds of black Thoughts her further Speech here broke, Her swelling Grief too great was to be spoke, Which struggl’d long in her tormented Mind, Till it some Vent by Sighs and Tears did find. And when her Sorrow something was subdu’d, She thus again her sad Complaint renewed. (142–147)

This reassertion of the female frame effects a turn from compassionating the effects of “Things without” (150) to critiquing “Unmanag’d Passions which the Reins have broke / Of Reason.” (156–157). In hortatory mode Cloris/Killigrew rebukes alike “the fond Pursuit, Loss, or Empty Gain” (191), “Since no Material Stroke the Soul can feel” (204): “For shame then rouse thyself as from a Sleep, / The long neglected Reins let Reason keep” (217–17). In “The Miseries of Man,” Killigrew experiments with an ostensibly generalized complaint to produce an extraordinarily bold, if sly, critique of “the Whole Man” (166): “That only Care, for Bliss, he home has brought, / Or else Contempt of what he so much sought” (186–7). Within the triangular feminized frame (the narrator, Cloris, the nymph), gendered reference is temporarily suspended only to drive home polarizing difference: Lash on, and the well-govern’d Chariot drive Till thou a Victor at the Goal arrive, Where the free Soul does all her burden leave, And Joys commensurate to herself receive. (224–227)



The repetitive, static, pictorial quality of Killigrew’s oeuvre gives to the poems a masque-like character.23 This looming sense of ideological foreclosure provides the backdrop and scenery for her poetic agency but is not simply inimical to it. Killigrew’s acute sense of the gendered motives of complaint, and the textual history she summons, produces repetition with variation but without progression. Her characters of suffering, outraged women, and occasionally men, are carefully situated as the framed and captured outcry of a minoritized but privileged insider, a new appearance of an “antique” strain aligned with the ambivalent pleasures of maiden self-possession and poetic vocation: The Bird to whom the spacious Air was given, As in a smooth and trackless Path to go,    A Walk which does no Limits know    Pervious alone to Her and Heaven:    Should she her Airy Race forget,    On Earth affect to walk and sit; Should she so high a Privilege neglect, As still on Earth, to walk and sit, affect,    What could she of Wrong complain,    Who thus her Birdly Kind doth stain, If all her Feathers molted were, And naked she were left and bare, The Jest and Scorn of Earth and Air?24

Notes 1. Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978, trans. Richard Howard), 100. Much cited in many contexts, this quotation from Barthes is also adduced by Gavin Alexander in a cognate way in his Writing after Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney 1586–1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 217. 2. John Kerrigan, ed., Motives of Woe: Shakespeare and “Female Complaint”: A Critical Anthology. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 2. 3. Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan and Sarah C. E. Ross, “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 33. Not coincidentally, the hypergeneric literature of complaint is particularly riven with puzzles of attribution. Drew Daniel’s understanding of early modern melancholy as assemblage, “a multiplicity, an expressive array of materials and postures and cases distributed across



the social surround” (7), and “the troubling admixture of spectatorship and shared experience” (134) it promotes, mainly addresses the context of drama but is also very valuable as a lens for thinking about complaint and elegy as dramatizing, distributed modes and genres. The Melancholy Assemblage: Affect and Epistemology in the English Renaissance (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013). 4. See, for instance, Wendy Scase, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272–1553, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), chap. 5, “Literature, Complaint and the Ars Dictaminis”; A.C. Spearing, Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); and Joel Fineman, Shakespeare’s Perjured Eye: The Invention of Poetic Subjectivity in the Sonnets (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). 5. The classic account of the sexual politics of male poetic ventriloquy is Elizabeth D.  Harvey, Ventriloquized Voices: Feminist Theory and English Renaissance Texts (New York and London: Routledge, 1992). Juliana Schiesari, The Gendering of Melancholia. Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992) and Lynn Enterline, The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) are also foundational studies of gender, sexuality and Renaissance melancholy. See also Kate Lilley, “True State Within: Women’s Elegy 1640–1700,” in Women Writing History 1640–1740, ed. Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman, (London: Batsford, 1992), 72–92. 6. “Instructive Nymphs: Andrew Marvell on Pedagogy and Puberty,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 31–49. Enterline is especially interested in this chapter in “the call of the epicene” (38) in relation to the deployment of the figure of the young girl in Marvellian complaint. 7. The determination of Kissing the Rod’s editors, Germaine Greer, Jeslyn Medoff, Melinda Sansone and Susan Hastings, to include as wide a range of women poets as they could, produced a different representation of genre. They downplayed Ovidian complaint, including only two late seventeenth-­ century examples, Anne Wharton’s “Penelope to Ulysses” (first published posthumously in the miscellany, Ovid’s Epistles Translated by Several Hands, 1712) and the unattributed “Maria to Henric” by “A Young Lady” (1691). Later revisionist anthologies benefitted from Kissing the Rod. Kerrigan’s Motives of Woe (1991) included Mary Sidney, Aphra Behn, Jane Barker, “Ephelia” and Anne Killigrew. In David Norbrook’s Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509–1659 (1992), Isabella Whitney’s “I.W. To her unconstant Lover” is the only poem by a woman listed under “Complaint” in its “Index of Genres.” Mary Wroth and Katherine Philips



are included in the “Images of Love” section, of which complaint is a subset. For an important gathering of reflections on the field in the wake of Kissing the Rod, see Women’s Writing 14, no. 2 (2007), a special issue edited by Elizabeth Clarke and Lynn Robson based on papers from the Oxford conference, “Still Kissing the Rod: Women’s Writing in 2005,” St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, July 2005. The mutual imbrication of feminist scholarship, critical theory and generic experiment in and around femaleauthored complaint continues to flourish in our own time in diverse ways, most significantly for my purposes in the work of the influential affect and genre theorist, Lauren Berlant. Berlant’s innovative writing on affect, citizenship and modes of intimacy in The Female Complaint (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), Cruel Optimism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011) and elsewhere has inspired an exciting new branch of this tradition. Avital Ronnell’s Complaint: Grievance Among Friends (Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2018) is another notable, and notably controversial, recent contribution to the complaint-­as-grievance lineage. In this connection I am also thinking of experimental hybrid texts such as Kate Zambreno’s Heroines (New York: Semiotext(e), 2012), her homage to modernist literary wives, mistresses and “fucked-up girls like me.” According to The Paris Review, “equal parts unabashed pathos and exceptional intelligence, Heroines foregrounds female subjectivity”: a good working definition of female-authored complaint. Christopher Higgs, “Heroine Worship: Talking with Kate Zambreno,” Paris Review, October 22, 2012. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/10/22/heroineworship-talking-with-kate-zambreno/. 8. Lauren Berlant, The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 10. By “complaint genres of ‘women’s culture’,” Berlant means, for instance, soap opera and melodrama, but her parsing of a gendered “love affair with conventionality” resonates instructively with Killigrew’s situation and the sexualized poetics of early modern complaint in general. Kerrigan (“Introduction”) cites this passage from Berlant’s original article, “To the extent that women employ the complaint as a mode of self-expression, it is an admission and a recognition both of privilege and powerlessness: it is a powerful record of patriarchal oppression, circumscribed by a knowledge of woman’s inevitable delegitimation within the patriarchal public sphere.” “The Female Complaint,” Social Text, 19–20 (Fall 1988): 243. 9. I have argued for the centrality of this problematic to the melancholy of early modern women’s writing in Kate Lilley, “Fruits of Sodom: The Critical Erotics of Early Modern Women’s Writing,” Parergon 29, no. 2 (2012): 175–192.



10. Killigrew’s compact oeuvre, twice issued in modern facsimiles (Moreton 1967 and Hoffmann 2003), is the subject of Margaret Ezell’s invaluable recent edition, “My Rare Wit Killing Sin”: Poems of a Restoration Courtier, Anne Killigrew (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2013). Quotations of Killigrew’s poems are from this edition. There have been only a handful of concerted critical discussions of Killigrew to date, most significantly Straub (1987), Barash (1996), Andreadis (2001), Shuttleton (2003), Vélez-Núñez (2003) and Elliott (2009). None of these consider complaint, favouring pastoral instead. Kerrigan does not include Killigrew in his anthology-proper but does provide a suggestive (albeit brief) account of her engagement with complaint in the tour de force “Introduction” (1–84) to Motives of Woe. There he discusses her “Complaint of a Lover” in terms of feminine figuration and gender transitivity and cites “The Miseries of Man” as an example of the changing valence of reflective melancholy in “the century of ‘Il Penseroso’,” “anticipat[ing] such reveries as Young’s ‘The Complaint: or, Night Thoughts’” (Motives of Woe, 76). Always a brilliant reader, Kerrigan is nonetheless somewhat hampered by the canonical overdetermination of his narrative, relegating Killigrew to a waystation between Milton and Young. Two excellent recent PhD theses should also be mentioned here. While neither Sabine Blackmore’s “In soft Complaints no longer Ease I find”: Poetic Configurations of Melancholy by Early Eighteenth-­ Century Women Poets (PhD diss., Humboldt University of Berlin, 2015) nor Katherine Jo Smith’s Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry in Early Modern England (PhD diss., University of Warwick, 2016) treat Killigrew, they both make valuable contributions to the analysis of what Blackmore calls the “early figuration of feminine poetic-melancholic selves” (121). 11. J.  P. Vander Motten, “Killigrew, Henry 1613–1700.”, ODNB. Judith’s copy of Shakespeare’s second folio is now in the Folger Shakespeare Library (Ezell 25). See also K. Sae, “A Shakespeare of One’s Own: Female Users of Playbooks from the Seventeenth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century,” Palgrave Communications 3, article no. 17021 (2017). https://www. nature.com/articles/palcomms201721. Anne’s father and his brothers attended Thomas Farnby’s Grammar School, in Cripplegate, London, the kind of school discussed by Enterline. Various of Anne’s cousins were also courtiers including Thomas’s sons, Henry (Harry) Killigrew, one of Rochester’s gang, and Charles Killigrew (1655–1724/5), who took over the post of Master of the Revels from his father in 1677 when Anne was 17. Interestingly, Anne was the only one of her siblings to become a courtier. Her brothers had naval careers; her sister, Elizabeth (c.1650–1701), married Rev. Dr John Lambe (1649–1708) and bore ten children. Lambe took over the living of Wheathampstead in



Hertfordshire from his father-in-law and later became Dean of Ely. For an excellent synthesis of Killigrew’s biography and her family’s court connections see Ezell, 21–31, and David Hopkins, “Killigrew, Anne (1660–1685),” ODNB 23 September 2004. 12. According to J. P. Vander Motten, “As groom of the bedchamber, Killigrew had probably introduced Behn to Charles’s intelligence service in 1666” (“Killigrew, Thomas 1612–1683,” ODNB). Another of Anne’s long-­lived uncles, William Killigrew (1606–1695), became the queen’s vice chamberlain (as his father had been to Henrietta Maria), and also turned his hand to plays and essays. Anne’s three paternal aunts, Anne, Mary and Elizabeth, are buried in Westminster Abbey. “Killigrew Family.” https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-commemorations/commemorations/ killigrew-family 13. Paula R. Backscheider, “Review of ‘My Rare Wit Killing Sin’: Poems of a Restoration Courtier,” Early Modern Women 10, no. 1 (2015): 240. 14. For the most detailed description of the posthumous Killigrew volume see Maureen Mulvihill, “Poet, Interrupted: the Curious Fame of Anne Killigrew,” “Old Books / New Editions,” 17thC Women Writers: A Three-­ Part Guest Series. Essays by Maureen E. Mulvihill. 2016. . 15. On Killigrew’s cultivation of the discourse of the femme forte see Carol Barash’s excellent English Women’s Poetry, 1649–1714: Politics, Community, and Linguistic Authority (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 162–174. 16. Mary of Modena (Maria Beatrice Anna Margherita Isabella d’Este, 1658–1718) was almost the same age as Anne Killigrew. Maria Beatrice had wanted to enter the Carmelite convent where she was educated but was forced instead to marry James at the age of fifteen. Her Catholic household modelled minoritized identity at court. She suffered five miscarriages between 1674 and 1684. Of six children born between 1675 and 1688, four died in infancy and a fifth of smallpox at twenty. Only her son, James Stuart, the “Pretender” (1688–1766), survived her. See Andrew Barclay, “Mary [Mary of Modena] (1658–1718), queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, consort of James II and VII,” ODNB, 3 January 2008. Anne Killigrew is known to have painted both James, Duke of York (now in the Royal collection) and Mary of Modena (lost). See Bendor Grosvenor’s catalogue, Bright Souls – The Forgotten Story of Britain’s First Female Artists (London: Lyon & Turnbull, 2019). https://issuu.com/ lyonandturnbullauctioneers/docs/bright_souls_britains_first_female_. 17. Killigrew’s aunt, Elizabeth, married into the Boyle family who were responsible for the production of Philips’s translation of Corneille’s Pompey at Smock Alley in Dublin.



18. This is, of course, a highly partial reading of Katherine Philips who as frequently complained of the devastating vicissitudes of love between women. Philips’s earliest known poem was likewise a poem against marriage. 19. I agree with Michael Genovese that Killigrew represents a kind of middle ground between the formality and personified speakers of Ovidian complaint and an emergent discourse of women poets around the turn of the century, like Sarah Fyge Egerton who claim the “authority of private experience” and the “dignity of ordinary life.” Michael Genovese, “‘Profess as Much as I’: Dignity as Authority in the Poetry of Sarah Fyge Egerton,” The Eighteenth Century 51, no. 1–2 (2010): 47. 20. It is thirty years since Kristina Straub published her striking essay, “Indecent Liberties with a Poet: Audience and the Metaphor of Rape in Killigrew’s ‘Upon the Saying that my verses’ and Pope’s ‘Arbuthnot’” in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 6.1 (1987): 27–45. Citing Gayatri Spivack and thanking Jane Gallop for her comments on the essay, Straub discloses another kind of social authorship, the community of deconstructive feminist theorists. Both Straub’s focus on the poeticization of sexual oppression and injury, what she calls Killigrew’s “counter-assault,” and the confluence of Orindan Sapphic erotics and “dark” pastoralism explored by Harriet Andreadis in Sappho in Early Modern England (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2001), have enriched my understanding of Anne Killigrew as a polemical poet of ambitious “discontent,” deliberately working and reworking a “noble” seam of female complaint understood as at once urgently present and immemorial. 21. Most readers of Killigrew foreground pastoral but it is my contention that complaint can usefully be distinguished from pastoral in her work and that complaint is her dominant mode. The most recent detailed consideration of Killigrew’s pastoral is Brian Elliott, “‘To Love Have Prov’d a Foe’: Virginity, Virtue, and Love’s Dangers in Anne Killigrew’s Pastoral Dialogues,” Restoration 33, no. 1 (2009): 27–41. 22. Behn was connected to the Killigrew family through her association with Thomas Killigrew and the King’s Company. At the very least, Killigrew would have read Behn’s poetry and seen some of her plays. Anne’s poems clearly show Behn’s formal influence. Katherine Smith writes: “The links between the Killigrews and Dryden, and indeed Behn herself…might suggest that Killigrew’s choice to write Ovidian complaint poems was influenced by Behn,” Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry, 169. On Behn and Ovidian complaint see Susan Wiseman, “‘Perfectly Ovidian’? Dryden’s Epistles, Behn’s ‘Oenone’, Yarico’s Island,” Renaissance Studies 22 (2008): 417–33, and Bill Overton, “Aphra Behn and the Verse Epistle,” Women’s Writing 16, no. 3 (2009): 369–391. Killigrew probably also knew and may have exchanged verses with her contemporary, Anne Wharton



(1659–1685). Wharton’s guardian, Anne, countess of Rochester (the poet’s mother), was groom of the stole to the duchess of York. Wharton’s poems, including many complaints, circulated in manuscript. For a discussion of Wharton’s complaints see Blackmore, Poetic Configurations of Melancholy (2015), and Smith, Ovidian Female-Voiced Complaint Poetry (2016). On Killigrew’s Ovidian fragment, “Penelope to Ulysses,” see Laura Linker, “The language of suffering in Anne Killigrew’s ‘On the Birthday of Queen Katherine’ and Penelope to Ulysses,” Interactions 24, no. 1–2 (Spring-Fall 2015): 91. 23. On Killigrew as the possible author or co-author, with Anne Finch, of the court masque, Venus and Adonis (1683), see Andrew Pinnock, “The Rival Maids: Anne Killigrew, Anne Kingsmill and the Making of the Court Masque Venus and Adonis (Music by John Blow),” Early Music 46 (2018): 631–652. James Anderson Winn favours Finch as the author but notes Killigrew’s possible involvement, in “A Versifying Maid of Honour: Anne Finch and the Libretto for ‘Venus and Adonis’,” Review of English Studies 59 (2008): 67–85. Killigrew produced two related paintings, “Venus Attired by the Graces” and “Venus and Adoni.” The latter is now known only by an engraving of it. Anne’s aunt, Anne Killigrew Kirke, dresser to Henrietta Maria, played the nymph, “Camena,” in Walter Montague’s pastoral entertainment, The Shepherd’s Paradise. Anne Killigrew Kirke is the subject of Anne Killigrew’s only known elegy, “On My Aunt Mrs. A. K. Drowned under London-bridge, in the Queen’s Barge, Anno 1641.” Anne’s self-­portrait strongly resembles the Van Dyck portrait of Anne Killigrew Kirke now at the Huntington Museum. 24. Anne Killigrew, “An Ode,” II.10–22. Ezell 955.


Representing Complaint: New Digital Forms


From Manuscripts to Metadata: Understanding and Structuring Female-­ Attributed Complaints Marie-Louise Coolahan and Erin A. McCarthy

How should we capture, and represent digitally, attributions to early modern women? This question lies at the core of our work for RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550–1700, a collaborative project that aims to provide the first quantitative account of the transmission of women’s writing in the early modern English-­ speaking world.1 RECIRC set out to answer four key questions: How did texts by women circulate? Who read them, and how? How did gender shape ideas of authorship in the period? Four categories of textual production were posited as likely arenas for studying how female-authored texts were transmitted and received: transnational religious networks, the international republic of letters, the manuscript miscellany, and book M.-L. Coolahan (*) National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland e-mail: [email protected] E. A. McCarthy University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_13




ownership. But to investigate how women’s writings were read entails the a priori definition of “women’s writing.” In terms of genre, we excluded only legal documents, such as wills, and recipes, both categories of text that demanded thorough analysis in their own right. In terms of gender identity, we included all authors gendered female, including all feminine designations—these were most varied and pronounced in manuscript miscellanies, and particularly so in the context of the poetry of complaint, where situational headings, titles, and attributions comingle. Therefore, the insights gleaned about the spectrum of such attributed identities, in particular relation to manuscript miscellanies, are the main focus of discussion here. The malleability of voice and subject position in early modern complaint lends itself to gender fluidity, therefore for offering illuminating test-cases. The project’s capacious definition, enacted in the data-­gathering phase, facilitated the assembly of a sufficiently wide range of materials that we could probe contemporary perceptions of gendered authorship, but it also served a pragmatic purpose: it allowed us to expedite our archival work. The team’s researchers were working in different libraries and archives, on different kinds of source material. In order to facilitate quantitative comparisons, we needed a way to record data about reception and metadata about the documents where it was found, and to do so quickly, accurately, and consistently. Subjective (and time-intensive) interpretations were to be kept to a minimum while we were amassing our data; these were intended for our later analysis phase. To that end, the team devised a bespoke conceptual data model for the study of reception. We collaborated with NUIG’s Digital Humanities Manager David Kelly on the resulting logical model; Kelly then developed and implemented the physical data model in the form of a relational database.2 Because we were dealing not with the primary texts produced by women but with their reception, and aiming to categorize and compare the ways in which they were received, our taxonomies were better suited to this kind of database than the nuanced textual markup facilitated by TEI encoding and more typically found in full-text digitization projects. This data model, which is described in more detail below, was designed to support the team’s researchers in gathering as vast as possible an array of relevant materials and structuring that material according to pertinent metadata categories, which would facilitate quantitative and qualitative analysis after the data-gathering phase. Speed and quantity equally informed our “deep-sea trawling” approach to “women’s writing” and “female authorship”; engagements with all authors gendered female were



recorded. We embraced historically verified authors, such as Margaret Cavendish; generically positioned authors, such as “A Lady of Quality”; and all designations in-between. This approach has the advantage of minimizing the interpretive work of the researcher in the archive; the critical work of evaluating the attributions themselves was allocated to the post-­ archival phase. On the one hand, its inclusivity enables the analysis of gender and attribution as we dig into our capacious definition of the “female author”; on the other, it could be said to reinscribe a gynocritical model of women’s writing by labelling the entire spectrum as that of the “female author.”3 Binary, essentialist notions of authorship present a pervasive challenge within and to feminist criticism, and efforts to mitigate their influence by analysing gender in terms of a given text’s themes, style, and readers can likewise obscure “the ambiguities and slippages of meaning inherent in every act of reading and interpretation.”4 The tensions between essentialism and historiographical fixity, attribution and anonnymity, and gender binaries and fluidity thus present methodological challenges in relation to understanding early modern ideas about authorship. These challenges are compounded when constructing digital tools for capturing, analysing, and sharing data about “female-­ authored” texts. Quantitative analysis requires a certain degree of standardization, but such categories can reify theoretical divisions that we would reject in case studies. As Miriam Posner has observed, “technically speaking, we frankly have not figured out how to deal with categories like gender that are not binary or one-dimensional or stable.”5 Observing that there is a “mismatch between the way we experience the world and the way the world can be made ‘computationally tractable’”, Posner demonstrates her point by exploring the disparity between the very general categories for race on United States census forms and the more complicated ways individual Americans would self-identify.6 Scholars of race, Posner suggests, would be better served by a more nuanced data model that captured information about whose perspective the data represented, changing notions of identity over time, and cultural and geographical variations. Similarly, Amber Billey and Emily Drabinski have recently explored the ideological implications of new library cataloguing standards that require gender metadata in name authority records; although the original version of the guidelines limited cataloguers to identifying authors as “male,” “female,” or “unknown,” updated rules allow communities to define their own terms.7 Similar changes, initiated by Melissa Terras, have been made within the TEI community.8 Building upon this recent work and focusing



on the relationship between gender and early modern authorship attribution, this chapter takes up Posner’s challenge to digital humanists to start again and to question the data models and categories we have inherited.9 To that end, we focus here on a single field in our database that may seem, at first glance, fairly straightforward: “female author.” The sole mandatory field, as the project was focused on discovering all forms of engagement with women’s writing, this single yet inclusive category invited and facilitated further interrogation. Moreover, the purpose and audience of our database evolved over the project’s lifetime; initially designed as a password-protected database for pursuing the team’s research, an open-access iteration has since been developed as a way to share our materials with others. We present here our reflections on the spectrum of authorial identities captured as a result of the project’s capacious approach. These lead us to propose four fields derived from that analysis; these could contribute to future data design that seeks to apply a differentiated model for femaleattributed texts at the data-gathering stage. We begin with a brief account of our data design process, including the initial development and subsequent evolution of the RECIRC database. We then turn to a series of case studies drawn from manuscript miscellanies that illustrate our descriptive practice and the variety of gendered positions comprised in such an expansive approach to female authorship. We consider how RECIRC might have recorded more refined data about gendered attributions in a way that both captured ambiguity and maintained enough standardization to allow for quantitative analysis of the different forms of gendered identity. We propose two specific interventions. First, we argue for more rigorous distinction between ascriptions, evidence of authorship written in documents, and attributions, assignments of authorship that may or may not be contemporary, correct, or grounded in material evidence.10 With this more precise definition in mind, we might call our central category “female-attributed” rather than “female-­authored” writing. Second, we identify four new attributes that could be associated with a given instance of reception: • Named/generic: How is a woman identified in contemporary sources (if at all)? Is she named, or is her gender designated generically (e.g., “a lady” or “a gentlewoman”)? • Voice: Is the work written in a recognizably feminine voice? For projects focused on women’s writing, like RECIRC, we suggest doing so only where a work is attributed to a woman in order to avoid time-intensive interpretative analysis (allowing for the omis-



sion of the potential additional categories of “male,” “multiple,” and “unknown”). • Proportionality: How often do contemporaries ascribe a work to its alleged female author? Broad proportionality could be signalled via the sub-classes “sole known ascription” and “multiple ascriptions.” • Contextual evidence: further circumstantial evidence via the labels “identified by known acquaintance” and “queried by modern scholarship.” We might also include a label for attributions by modern scholars (“posited by modern scholarship”), such as the assignment of A meditation of a pentitent [sic] sinner to Anne Vaughan Lok Prowse.11 Again, this would entail the kinds of interpretive judgements we sought to minimize when building the RECIRC database. Nevertheless, we offer them here both to show what is at stake at the intersection of literary-historical analysis and information design and to aid future research in related areas. Unlike the previous three categories, these labels are not mutually exclusive and would best be represented in our relational database as labels or tick-boxes.

Designing the RECIRC Database We started with the “female author,” conceived in as wide as possible a sense. We compiled comprehensive lists of all known early modern Anglophone women authors and their works so that documents consulted in libraries and archives could be checked speedily for female-authored works. Non-Anglophone women authors—whose reception in the English-speaking world we also sought to investigate—were also compiled.12 When found, individual instances of the reception of female-­ authored works would be recorded in our database, and the researcher would proceed to the next document. Beginning with anthologies of women’s writing, online databases, and book series like The Other Voice, we sought to identify and include all texts attributed to a woman, whether they were so attributed during the alleged author’s life or came to be associated with her later. In order to account for the fullest possible range of reception evidence, the RECIRC project took an expansive view of attributions to women as authors, including titular and situational attribution to unnamed women as well as historically attested female authors. In other words, if an early modern reader might plausibly have believed that a poem was written by a woman, we assigned it to that woman and included it. Our intent was to gather quantities of evidence with our closer analysis



to follow later; therefore, we embraced the anonymous “A Lady,” who was joined by “A Lady” 1–3 (not even “A Lady of Quality” was distinguished enough to avoid being succeeded by “A Lady of Quality 2”). Because we hoped to describe instances of reception using a strong set of predefined attributes rather than transcribing and annotating them, we decided that this data and metadata would best be represented in a relational model rather than through a tree (e.g. TEI markup) or a graph.13 As with our goal to minimize tasks of knotty interpretation in the archive, which might commandeer time and be contentious, we avoided overtly subjective categories; a poem about a female author, for example, was recorded as “poem” with no attempt to define its sub-genre at the data-­ gathering stage. Given the project’s focus, all documentable instances of the reception of “women’s writing” would involve at least one female author, whether she were named, anonymous, or pseudonymous. Therefore, the fundamental relationship that we would be modelling was between authors and instances of reception, and it could be summed up in a simple entity-relationship model (Fig. 13.1). In short, one or many female authors were received in zero or more instances. The entity type “female author” includes space for many other attributes, including other names, dates of birth and death, titles of works, and so on. Likewise, instances of reception have attributes like the source of the reception, the owner/compiler/scribe of that source, name of receiver, and date or place of reception. But female authorship is the foundation of our conceptual model. Contained within that all-embracing frame, however, are many varieties of anonymous and pseudonymous authorship, the product of early modern attribution habits that seem doubtful, contested, and uncertain to modern eyes yet reveal a full-bodied engagement with the texts they compiled by manuscript owners. We now turn to our case studies, which exhibit the gradations of female-gendered authorship posited by early modern miscellany compilers and their prompting of a more refined data model that distinguishes between ascription and attribution.

Fig. 13.1 The entity-relationship model assumed to underlie all RECIRC data



Female-Attributed Poetry at the Elizabethan Court We begin with a group of poems that early modern readers ascribed to named women: a brief poem, “‘Twas Christ the Word,” associated with Elizabeth I, and two poems, “Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood” and “Though I seem strange,” that circulated with the name of Anne Vavasour. “‘Twas Christ the Word” began to circulate with an ascription to Elizabeth I more than a decade after her death. However, the queen almost certainly did not write the lines, and there is nothing in the poem to suggest that it was written by a woman. Indeed, the earliest dated copy is subscribed “D.C.”14 However, the seventeenth-century ascription to Elizabeth seems to have appealed to early modern readers, and nine of the twenty-two known manuscript copies bear her name, exceeding the combined total of seven copies ascribed to John Donne, the aforementioned “D.C.” (possibly Richard Cox), “Docter Heath” (probably Nicholas Heath), and “Mr h: Biston.”15 If one is interested in the early modern reception of women’s writing, then, this poem presents a unique challenge. On the one hand, early modern readers may have believed, or wanted to believe, that Elizabeth had written the poem and read it as her own authentic utterance. On the other hand, contemporary scholars have offered compelling challenges to the attribution. RECIRC added the poem to our list of female-authored works on the basis of its qualified inclusion in Leah Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose’s collected edition of Elizabeth’s works. The database, as implemented, does not allow for us to distinguish between a dubious poem like “‘Twas Christ the Word” and a more certain one like “The Doubt of Future Foes.” Its inclusion is in line with our policy, as both poems were important parts of Elizabeth’s early modern reputation as an author. Indeed, more copies of “‘Twas Christ the Word” survive than of “The Doubt of Future Foes.”16 As this currently stands, it is only the user’s analysis that reveals modern uncertainty about the attribution, and this has led us to consider how this might be captured when gathering data. From a technical point of view, the simplest solution would be to add some kind of binary uncertainty flag, perhaps a tick box or radio button, to the records for individual works (Fig. 13.2). Flagging a work in this way would be conceptually similar to an editor’s decision to include a work in an appendix of dubious or noncanonical poems, as the work and its connection to an author are recorded but not affirmed. But how uncertain is uncertain? Is an individual researcher’s



Fig. 13.2  Wireframe with uncertainty flag added

private, nagging doubt enough, or should there be some kind of critical consensus? Another solution, informed by material evidence, might offer a space to record the relative frequency with which individual copies are ascribed. However, this information can be difficult to obtain for witnesses that the researcher has not seen in person, and the calculation of relative frequency is always subject to caveats relating to manuscript attrition rates. In other words, even if we could see all of the known, surviving witnesses, there is no way to know how many other transcriptions once existed but



are now lost. The nuclear option would be to omit “‘Twas Christ the Word” from the list of female-authored works altogether. But because this would cause us to lose important evidence of Elizabeth’s seventeenth-­ century reputation in the process, this option was never on the table. “‘Twas Christ the Word” is, in some ways, a straightforward example, for it is purely a question of attribution. Other examples are complicated by the adoption of a female voice, particularly as articulated in complaint. For instance, two poems, “Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood” and “Though I seem strange,” circulate with the name of Anne Vavasour, one of Elizabeth’s maids of honour. Vavasour became somewhat notorious when she had an affair with Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, that subsequently landed both in the Tower. Sometime between Vavasour’s release in 1581 and her marriage to John Finch in 1590, she became the mistress of Sir Henry Lee, the queen’s champion, with whom she lived until his death in 1611. Vavasour and Finch never divorced, but Finch tolerated her relationship with Lee. Lee’s son, however, was less sanguine about Vavasour’s 1618 marriage to John Richardson (while the elder Finch was still alive), and he sued her for bigamy. She was fined £2,000 in 1621. Both poems refer to these affairs, and their circulation was likely driven by readers’ interest in the titillating details of Vavasour’s life. “Sitting alone” embeds a complaint spoken by Vavasour in a male-­ voiced frame; formally, it is not unlike William Shakespeare’s A Lover’s Complaint. Manuscript compilers ascribe it variously to Vavasour, to Oxford, and to the pair together, but these names seem to identify the poem’s subject(s) rather than its author(s). Certainly, attributing the entire work to Vavasour would entail reading the poem as a strange act of self-­ ventriloquism, while attributing it to Oxford would grant him more self-­ awareness than he seems to have had. Similarly, the female speaker of “Though I seem strange” bewails the double standards governing early modern men’s and women’s sexual behaviour, but these norms do not seem to have troubled the historical Vavasour. The manuscript’s apparent ascription to Vavasour (“finis vavaser”) more likely signals that the scribe believed the poem to be about Vavasour rather than by her. Like “‘Twas Christ the Word,” early modern readers linked both of the “Vavasour” poems tenuously to an identifiable historical woman, and we first had to decide whether those attributions justified adding the poems to the database. Again, erring on the side of inclusion, we have accepted them as works that early modern readers might plausibly have understood to be female-authored works. However, “Sitting alone” and “Though I



seem strange” share ‘an additional dimension that “‘Twas Christ the Word” lacks’: an obviously female speaker. If we reject either or both of the poems as authentic works by Vavasour, should we nevertheless record their embrace of a female subject position? Again, because RECIRC is fundamentally about reception, we believe that it is important to examine manuscript ascription evidence even when it is at odds with modern critical consensus about the poems’ authorship. In cases like these, the simplest solution would be to add another database field for gender of speaker, offering options including “male,” “female,” “multiple,” and “unknown.” However, as noted above, this approach would require individual researchers to make interpretive judgements that we deliberately minimized in the design. Rather than seek to assign complexity to the data in the archive, we sought to capture broad yet agreed—and therefore comparable—categories whose rich textures would be sifted and analysed outside the archive. Moreover, this approach (“male,” “female,” “multiple,” “unknown”) would continue to represent gender in a simple binary, albeit with the possibility of avoiding it altogether. While it might adequately represent the difference between the speaker of “‘Twas Christ the Word,” who offers no clues about his or her gender, and the speakers of the Vavasour poems, it would neither help identify or differentiate between more subtle ventriloquies and burlesques of the female voice like those described by Michelle O’Callaghan nor account for poems that cannot be linked to a historical author at all.17 A simpler solution would be to create a sub-class of uncertain works subordinate to female-authored work, which would implicitly be limited to the “female” end of a hypothetical gender spectrum. Such a category would capture a female-gendered voice, thereby throwing light on the attribution for the end-user. Although it would exclude the time- and interpretation-intensive alternative possibilities, it would be precise enough to facilitate the quantitative analysis that is RECIRC’s raison d’être.

Gender Trouble: Hypothetical, Anonymous, and Deceased Women Taking historical and contemporary attributions to women at face value, as described above, solves one set of problems, but it raises others. This section turns to a group of three lesser-known poems early modern compilers associated with obscure or unnamed women to consider the specific



challenges of conceiving of, and representing, authorship that is situational and removed from historically verifiable women. A curious poem in British Library Egerton MS 923 names a specific woman who almost certainly did not actually compose it: “Mrs Mary Rolt her Ghost.” It discourages “the Patronesse of virtue and Religion her loueing, but most sorrowfull, but sister Mrs Ann Baldwin,” from complaining: Bid teares adue (sweat sister) wipe yr eyes Cheare vp your spirits, greiue for those yt dyes lament not my departure oh doe not weepe I am not dead but onely fallen asleepe.18

The poem constructs a virtuous female speaker who consoles her sister by making recourse to the Old Testament, with Rachel’s death after her difficult “trauaile” with Benjamin a touchstone throughout. Although Mary Rolt obviously could not have written this poem under the circumstances described, it is followed by an anagram on “Maria Roltes” and an epigram that is also in Mary’s voice. The attribution of this sequence of poems is puzzling. The miscellany includes a wide range of epitaphs and elegies, including commemorations of specific, named individuals as well as poems like “On a Gentlewomans death,” “On a woman dying in child birth,” and “Commendacions of a Lady,” suggesting that the miscellany’s compiler was interested in memorial verse. There is a key difference between this poem and the others, though. A search of the Union First-­Line Index of English Verse reveals a surprising number of poems said to be spoken by ghosts, including dialogues between ghostly pairs. But most of these ghosts were famous in life: kings and queens, classical figures, poets. In this case, however, the identification of both the speaker and the addressee, when neither seems to have been particularly prominent, suggests that the compiler found the attribution to a female figure important enough to preserve it. Ann Baldwin is key to this ascription, either as the recipient and scribe of Mary Rolt’s ghostly poesis or, perhaps more likely, as the figure who instigated the poem’s composition by an unidentified third party.19 But who would early modern readers have understood to have been the poem’s author? Would they have considered this a woman’s work, as commissioned if not authored by a woman? Without further evidence about who wrote the poem, RECIRC represented it in the database as a transcription of a specific work by a named author, Mary Rolt.



Such questions are further complicated when we move from a woman’s name (whether historically verifiable or not) to gendered but generic designations. For example, the poem “Thou one-eied boy of thy blind mother” benefits from the following framing in Bodleian Library MS Eng. poet. c. 50: “mad by a gentlewoman of surpassing feature saue yt she wanted an eie, who had a boy noe lesse well featured whose eie was Casually struck out.”20 This is a version of a popular quatrain that circulated widely in manuscript and print. The Latin version, “Lumine Acon dextro caruit, Leonilla sinistro,” develops its bodily conceit in relation to two siblings, and this was often translated into English (“Acon lacks his right, Leonilla her left eye”). For example, William Camden included both the Latin text and an English translation in the epitaphs section of later editions of his Remaines concerning Britain.21 But the more widely circulated English version plays on the maternal relationship of Cupid and Venus. The text printed in Wits Recreations (1640), as “On a Mother and her son having but two eyes betwixt them, each one,” positions the poem universally by reaching for familial roles rather than mythical names: A half blind-boy, born of a half blind mother, Peerlesse for beauty, save compar’d to th’ other; Faire boy, give her thine eye and she will prove The Queen of beauty, thou the God of love.22

This short verse straddled manuscript and print culture, and, as a result, it enjoyed striking longevity. At the time of writing, the Union First-Line Index lists twenty-five manuscript copies in English that alternate between “one-eyed” and “half-blind” variants; two of these offer the siblings version, but the mother/son form is by far the most common.23 Its print circulation is evident in miscellanies such as Wits Recreations (1640) and Wits Interpreter (1655), as well as Robert Vilvain’s collection of Latin excerpts and translations, Enchiridium epigrammaticum Latino-Anglicum (1654).24 It was retooled for the fashionable epigram culture of the eighteenth century, published in Charles Cotton’s Poems on Several Occasions (1689), T. M.’s A Miscellaneous Collection of Poems, Songs, and Epigrams (1721), A Collection of Epigrams (1727), and A Collection of Select Epigrams (1757), and captured in couplet form for periodical readers of the London Magazine in 1745.25 This poem illustrates the consequences of our decision to embrace all potential attributions to women, and it highlights the uneasy relationship



between the single instance and the larger number it does not represent. In this case, one manuscript compiler’s situating a popular verse as one “mad by a gentlewoman” has determined its wider framing for RECIRC. Having stumbled upon the generic female ascription in MS Eng. poet. c. 50, and having established a policy of capturing all attributions to women—precisely because they could illuminate attitudes to female authorship, whether empirical or notional—we decided to record this as a female-authored item. For consistency’s sake, we retrospectively recorded its occurrence in eight other manuscripts, one of which is not currently in the Union First-Line Index. Quantitative analysis requires that we apply consistent standards and labels to facilitate comparison, and creating a publicly accessible digital resource further heightens the stakes of our decisions. Were we right to capture retrospectively all other instances of the poem’s occurrence in miscellanies we had already catalogued? How might we capture the layers of uncertainty in this single manuscript ascription? The lack of historical precision here could be rendered via the addition of “generic” as a sub-class of the “female author” (as distinct from choosing a named “Single” or “Collaborative” author) and “sole known ascription” (as opposed to “multiple ascriptions,” as in the case of “‘Twas Christ the Word”) (Fig. 13.3). The compiler of MS Eng. poet. c. 50 summarizes the poem’s description of the mother and her child, foregrounding the topic of physical aesthetics in his or her marginal annotation; additionally, and most relevant for our purposes, this note overrides entirely the speaker’s omniscient third-person voice. Whereas many attributions collapse a poem’s speaker onto its author, in this case, the compiler has instead identified the poem’s central figure as its maker. This finding has additional implications for anonymous works more generally: a neutral voice should not bar female attribution.26 The marginal note in MS Eng. poet. c. 50 suggests that early modern readers did not necessarily link omniscience with masculinity. This, in turn, reveals and challenges modern assumptions, opening up a space of detachment for female authorship—a space we take for granted in relation to male poets. Situating the gentlewoman at one remove from the third-person voice the compiler says she has made, the attribution allows for the sophisticated manipulation of poetic voice. In this version, the gentlewoman who is the subject of the poem is also its maker, but her voice evades gendering at all. In the context of digital representation, the urge to comprehensivity (retrospectively seeking to capture all database occurrences of a poem) competes directly with its impossibility (a single



Fig. 13.3  Wireframe with new fields for generic/named authorship and ascription

attribution superseding unattributed copies). A subtler method of capturing the layers and kinds of uncertainty might offer a route through this tension by allowing for a definition of authorship that is removed from the historical body and allows for a more performative, text-generated, and ephemeral concept of authorship: the separation of voice from author.



What is the status of an orphan attribution? Does our assessment shift according to the number of non-attributed copies? “Contemne not gratious king our playnts and teares” is another complaint attributed to a woman in a single manuscript witness (of four currently known). This witness appeals to the authority of a wider literary culture, adverting to general reputation: “These are sayd to be done by a Lady.”27 The poem was apparently the third in a series of complaint-like libels circulated in the early 1620s. The first of these was, according to British Library Harley MS 367, “called the Comons teares”; however, while the subsequent poems have given scholars some idea of what the original poem was about, no copies of it are known to have survived.28 The second poem circulated from January 1623 under James I’s name, purportedly answering the now-lost “Comons teares.” As Andrew McRae and Alastair Bellany have outlined, it was unclear even to contemporaries whether this poem— which opens, “O stay your teares yow who complaine / Cry not as Babes doe all in vaine”—had been written by the king or whether it was a convincing prosopopoeia. Joseph Mead reported that it was “vulgarly said to be the King’s; but a gentleman told me that he will not own it”; John Chamberlain, in his letters to the diplomat Dudley Carleton, first ascribed it to the king, then reported that James had disavowed authorship.29 Five of the eight copies identified by Margaret Crum are attributed to the king.30 A political complaint, the poem’s disdain for the popular sentiment of “railing rymes and vaunting verse” underpins its insistence on the divine right and non-accountability of kings. In the context of libel culture, discretion might sensibly check claims to authorial responsibility; it would be advantageous for the real James to maintain an ambiguous authorial relationship to a poem that excoriates his critics (just as real women may have preferred distance to authorial credit). The third poem, whoever composed it, was certainly designed as a riposte to the second. It echoes and counters specific lines but reaches for a conciliatory tone. It opens, for example, by robustly defending the king’s critics before retreating to the patriarchal body politic: Contemne not gratious king our playnts and teares wee are no babyes, the Rhyme witnesse beares yett since our father, you doe represent to bee as babes to you wee are content.31



The collective third-person voice is not gendered. Moreover, “Oh stay your teares” expressly admonishes men—“Then hold your pratling spare your penn / Be honest, and obedient men”—problematizing any easy association of the injured body politic with a feminized vulnerability.32 However, “O stay your tears” and “Contemne not” circulated together only twice (of eight copies of the former identified by Crum). The Rawlinson copy is the only attributed version and it is disembodied from its libellous answer poetry context there. Neither “the Comons teares” nor “O stay your teares” is present or even mentioned in the Rawlinson copy, and, barring a poem “Upon the Entertainment of the Lord Keeper” dated 1640, the preceding poems focus on the Essex scandal. The poems following “Contemne not gratious king” deal with Jacobean events, especially the Spanish Match, but few are attributed and none offer any explanation for the ascription of “Contemne not” to “a Lady.” Either the allusion to James’s poem was sufficiently clear to the miscellany’s compiler or the compiler was entirely unaware of that wider context. In any event, Arthur Marotti not only accepts the attribution but refers to it as an example of women’s participation in courtly exchanges of verse.33 Although there is nothing in the poem to support the attribution to a woman, and although it is not corroborated in any of the three other manuscript witnesses, there is also no obvious reason to question it.34 We could follow our treatment of “A half-blind boy,” registering uncertainty with the sub-­ classes of generic female designation and sole orphan attribution. But how might the quality of that uncertainty be affected by the proportion of unattributed copies? Does one of four render the attribution more plausible than one in twenty-seven? Does the claim to wider authority—”are sayd to be”—combined with the opinion of a modern scholar such as Marotti make the orphan attribution more or less credible for modern users? To flip these arguments: given that the majority of manuscript verse is anonymously compiled, should we accord greater credence to the outnumbered instances where attributions are made?

Answer Poetry, Ascription, and the Fluidity of Poetic Voice: Alice Egerton and Jane Cavendish An attribution’s authority can be derived from contemporary social proximity—as is suggested by the case of “I prithee send me back my heart,” a complaint printed anonymously in Henry Lawes’s Ayres and Dialogues



(1658) and the following year in Sir John Suckling’s Last Remains (1659). In “An Answeare to my Lady Alice Egertons Songe of I prethy send mee back my hart,” Jane Cavendish ascribes this poem to her friend Alice Egerton (1619–1689), the Young Lady in Milton’s Masque at Ludlow Castle, court performer and acquaintance of Katherine Philips. Sarah C. E. Ross has argued this title “indicat[es] not the author of the song but, presumably, the source of her [Cavendish’s] encounter with it,” possibly in performance, and scholars have tended to argue that the poem was written by Henry Hughes.35 Most recently, however, Scott Trudell has returned to Cavendish’s attribution, arguing against the effacement of Egerton’s potential authorship. Embracing the uncertainty of interpretation arising from Cavendish’s title, he argues that “Conflicting attributions during this period were so common, in part, because this remained a culture of ongoing adaptation” and invites the possibility of collaborative musical and lyrical composition.36 Cavendish’s answer poem is transcribed in two manuscripts containing Cavendish’s verse and the drama she co-authored with her sister, Elizabeth (née Cavendish) Egerton, Alice’s sister-in-law.37 The title flags the poetic relationship and Cavendish’s answer mirrors its precursor—beginning, for example, “I cannot send you back my hart” as counter to “I prithee send me back my heart.” In this context, Cavendish adopts and adapts the subject-position of Egerton’s male addressee, in the spirit of Judith Butler and Elizabeth Harvey.38 The initial complaint, “I prithee send me back my heart,” is addressed to an unrequiting lover. Having reconciled herself to the one-­ sided nature of her love, the speaker wants her heart back. Finally doubling back on this position, the poem concludes with a renewed plea for love. When her poem is framed as a response to a performance by Egerton, Cavendish, a female poet, seems to adopt the lover’s male persona. This pair testifies to the mutability and fluidity of voice for any poet, who, Tiresias-like, must be allowed to shape-shift, imagine, and articulate other gendered perspectives. On the one hand, this example illustrates the co-dependency of female authors in the business of recovering female-authored works and the difficulty of disentangling early modern modes of authorship and attribution once such works are recovered. In this case, the apparent attribution to Egerton seems compelling because it is made by a known and credible associate rather than a compiler whose name has not lingered in history. Ultimately, the critical jury remains out as to whether it records Egerton’s engagement with or originary authorship of “I prithee send me back my



heart.”39 But on the other hand, the ease with which the male persona is taken up by Cavendish reminds us how reductive such debates can be, how gender-fluid the act of authorship can be, and how central the poetic situation is to the imagining of women’s authorship. Cavendish performs the male voice, co-opting the metaphors of military encampment and shrugging off simplistic equations of author with poetic voice, just as easily as male authors create female voices. By extension, the adoption of a gender-­neutral voice—as in “A half blind-boy” or “Contemne not gratious”—cannot and, indeed, should not preclude attribution to a female poet.

Conclusions Our considerations of the forms of female attribution in early modern manuscript miscellanies have navigated the often-muddy waters of doubtful authorship. Devising a data model whereby “female-authored” is altered to “female-attributed,” we might categorize “female-attributed” as either certain or uncertain. Leaving certain attribution to one side, as we have in this chapter, the case studies discussed prompt different kinds of uncertainty that nuance the category. To allow these different kinds of uncertainty to be queried and compared digitally, each of these four new attributes—named/generic, voice, proportionality, and contextual evidence—would ideally be stored in its own data field and might transfer seamlessly to TEI-encoded texts. Recording this more nuanced data would allow us to categorize the shape of uncertain attributions without imposing hierarchy. If these categories prompt us to record single versus multiple attributions, their combination with the other data fields we have outlined would offer us several measures to evaluate and compare plausibility. If implemented—and unfortunately, the realities of grant-funded projects make it unlikely in relation to RECIRC—this revised data model would facilitate comparison of the kinds of uncertainty and the frequency of their occurrence, offering a window into early modern practices of manuscript attribution in relation to women, as well as complaints, and with potential for insights into early modern ideas about gender and authorship extending beyond that binary designation. Attributions may, in fact, reveal what early modern readers believed or wanted to believe— that Queen Elizabeth had wittily rejected transubstantiation in verse, that a sister had commiserated from beyond the grave, that a woman had engaged wholeheartedly in political counter-complaint. But they may also



point us to a very different relationship between compiler and author: that compilers saw attribution as a creative act and availed of the freedom to create an interpretation of a poem in manuscript that embraced situational attribution and contextual heading. Ultimately, no matter how nuanced the data model, the primary-source evidence represented by metadata requires further analysis on its own terms. This meeting of quantitative and qualitative methods has been a joy for RECIRC, but it is vital that we remember that historical data is never neutral or apolitical.40 Flattening out gendered categories of historical authorship both obscures the diversity of subject positions adopted by early modern people and reinscribes simplistic notions of sex and gender. The performativity inherent in poetic voice includes gender as well as non-­ gendered and determinedly ambiguous positions. We began with the belief that the database would facilitate the analysis of the patterns and texts it brings to light. However, this process shows that fitting research data into a strong digital model is itself a process of interpretation. To remain theoretically sound, these interpretations must evolve along with the tool’s purpose and imagined users.

Notes 1. For further information, see https://recirc.nuigalway.ie. Research for this chapter was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013/ERC Grant Agreement no. 615545) and was carried out by the authors and Sajed Chowdhury. 2. On the three steps in data modelling, see Fotis Jannidis and Julia Flanders, “A gentle introduction to data modelling,” in The Shape of Data in the Digital Humanities, ed. Julia Flanders and Fotis Jannidis (London and New York: Routledge, 2019), 82–83. Technical details about the RECIRC database are available at https://recirc.nuigalway.ie/about-data/technical-overview. 3. For insightful critiques of this model, see Elizabeth Grosz, Sexual Signatures (London and New  York: Routledge, 1995), esp. 10–12; Danielle Clarke, ‘“Introduction,” in ‘This Double Voice’: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England, ed. Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (New York: St. Martin’s Press and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), 1–2; Rosalind Smith, Sonnets and the English Woman Writer (Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), esp. 12, 16, 61, and 120–21; and



Michelle O’Callaghan, “The “Great Queen of Lightninge Flashes”: The Transmission of Female-Voiced Burlesque Poetry in the Early Seventeenth Century,”, in Material Cultures of Women’s Writing, ed. Patricia Pender and Rosalind Smith (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 100, 105–6, 115. 4. Smith, Sonnets, 25. 5. Miriam Posner, “What’s Next: The Radical, Unrealized Potential of Digital Humanities,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, ed. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 34, 35; open-access text available at http://dhdebates.gc.cuny. edu/debates/text/54. 6. Posner, “What’s Next,” 33–34. 7. Amber Billey and Emily Drabinski, ‘Questioning Authority’, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 6 (2019): 117–23. 8. Michelle Schwartz and Constance Crompton, “Remaking History: Lesbian Feminist Historical Methods in the Digital Humanities,” in Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and Digital Humanities, ed. Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), 146–47. 9. See also Susan Brown, “Categorically Provisional,” PMLA, 50 (2020): 165–74, published as this book went to press. 10. Peter Beal, A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology, 1450–2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 24, 28–29; and Erin A.  McCarthy, “Axes of Uncertainty and Recovering Women’s Voices in Early Modern Miscellanies,” http://ssemwg.org/blog/mccarthy/, 12 April 2019. 11. See Micheline White,”Introduction,” in Ashgate Critical Essays on Women Writers in England 1550–1700, vol. 3, Anne Lock, Isabella Whitney and Aemilia Lanyer, ed. Micheline White (Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), xii. 12. The lists of works by non-Anglophone authors were limited to print titles, with individual works added as receptions of those works were located—a resource-driven compromise based on our project’s timeframe and parameters. 13. See Jannidis and Flanders, The Shape of Data, 55–82. 14. The subscription to “D.C.” is dated 1568 and appears in British Library Royal MS 12 B.18. See Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000), 47, n. 1; Steven W.  May, “‘Tongue-Tied Our Queen?’: Queen Elizabeth’s Voice in the Seventeenth Century,” in Resurrecting Elizabeth I in Seventeenth-Century England, ed. Elizabeth Hageman and Katherine Conway (Vancouver: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007), 55.



15. See Steven W.  May, Queen Elizabeth I: Selected Works (New York: Washington Square Press, 2004), 330; and Coolahan, McCarthy, and Chowdhury, forthcoming. 16. See also May, “Tongue-tied,” 63. 17. See O’Callaghan, “Great Queen of Lightninge Flashes,” 104. 18. British Library Egerton MS 923, fol. 56r. 19. On patronage, instigation, and authorship, see Jane Stevenson, “Women, Writing and Scribal Publication in the Sixteenth Century,” English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700 9 (2000): 14–15. 20. Bodleian Library MS Eng. poet. c. 50, fol. 33v. 21. William Camden, Remaines concerning Britaine, STC 4525 (London, 1636), sig. Ggg3r–v (pp. 413–14) (EEBO). 22. Wits Recreations, STC 25870 (London, 1640), sig. L1 (EEBO). 23. Union First-Line Index of English Verse, http://firstlines.folger.edu (accessed 15 January 2019). We found an additional copy in British Library Add. MS 29492, fol. 5r. See also John Rous’s compilation of the poem in his diary as “A ladie with one eye had a pretty sonne that by a jerke of the coachman’s whippe lost an eye”; “1633, April, I received these verses”; Diary of John Rous, Incumbent of Santon Downham, Suffolk, from 1625 to 1642, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 72, 70. 24. Wits Recreations, sig. L1; Wits Interpreter, the English Parnassus, Wing C6370 (London, 1655), sig. 2A8v (EEBO); Roger Vilvain, Enchiridium epigrammatum Latin-Anglicum, Wing V395 (London, 1654) sig. Y4v (EEBO). Vilvain reproduces the epigram with the heading “Frater & Soror Monoculi”; curiously, though the poem above is identified as one drawn from “Camdens Remains”, this one is said to be “Anonymus” [sic]. 25. Charles Cotton, Poems on Several Occasions, Wing C6390 (London, 1689), 548 (EEBO); T.  M., A Miscellaneous Collection of Poems, Songs, and Epigrams, 2 vols. ESTC T106190 (Dublin, 1721), I.68; A Collection of Epigrams, ESTC T41 (London, 1727), sig. L3r; A Collection of Select Epigrams, ESTC T124651 (London, 1757), 91; The London Magazine, or Monthly Chronologer, March and April 1745, 149, 201 [102]; all respectively ECCO. 26. See also Marcy L.  North, The Anonymous Renaissance: Cultures of Discretion in Tudor-Stuart England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), ch. 7. 27. Bodleian Library MS Rawl. poet. 26, fol. 20r. 28. Andrew McRae and Alastair Bellany, eds., Early Stuart Libels http:// www.earlystuartlibels.net/htdocs/spanish_match_section/Nvi1.html and http://www.earlystuartlibels.net/htdocs/pdf/n/Nvi1.pdf (accessed 25 January 2019).



29. See McRae and Bellany, whose introduction accompanies a full text of the libel and a list of witnesses. 30. Margaret Crum, First-Line Index of English Poetry, 1500–1800, in Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), O803; see also C683. 31. Bodleian Library MS Rawl. poet. 26, fol. 20r. 32. McRae and Bellany, Early Stuart Libels, ll. 171–72. 33. Arthur F.  Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 55. 34. Bodleian Library MSS Eng. poet. c. 50, fol. 25v; Rawl. poet. 26, fol. 20r; Rawl. poet. 152, fol. 4r. 35. Sarah C.  E. Ross, Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 108. See also The Works of Sir John Suckling: The Non-Dramatic Works, ed. Thomas Clayton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 89, 292–93, and Germaine Greer, Susan Hastings, Jeslyn Medoff, and Melinda Sansone, eds., Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Women’s Verse (London: Virago, 1988), 116–17. 36. Scott A. Trudell, Unwritten Poetry: Song, Performance, and Media in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 178. 37. Bodleian Library MS Rawl. poet. 16, 16; Beinecke Library, Osborn MS b. 233, 18 [fol. 9v]. 38. See Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (New York: Routledge, 1993) and Elizabeth D.  Harvey, Ventriloquized Voices: Feminist Theory and English Renaissance Texts (London: Routledge, 1992). 39. See also Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson, eds., Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 292 for Cavendish’s poem and xxxiii–xxxvi for their discussion of context, provenance, and genre as determining factors in the attribution of anonymous verse to women. See Ross, Women, Poetry, and Politics, 100–34, for the most sustained treatment of Cavendish as an author. 40. In an important recent essay about quantitative studies of slavery, Jessica Marie Johnson shows that “Data without an accompanying humanistic analysis … served to further obscure the social and political realities of black diasporic life under slavery”; see “Markup Bodies: Black [Life] Studies and Slavery [Death] Studies at the Digital Crossroads,” Social Text 36 (2018): 61.


Women’s Complaint, 1530–1680: Taxonomy, Voice, and the Index in the Digital Age Jake Arthur and Rosalind Smith

Constance Aston Fowler compiled a miscellany during the seventeenth century containing, among other poems, multiple examples of complaint poetry. The manuscript records the literary interests of two closely linked recusant families based in Staffordshire, the Astons and the Thimelbys, as well as their wider literary circles in its selection of early seventeenth-­ century occasional and pastoral poems. Five of the complaint poems are transcribed in Constance Aston Fowler’s hand, two of which are attributed in the manuscript to Herbert Aston and Lady Dorothy Shirley. These are supplemented by a group of mainly Elizabethan devotional poems, written in a second hand, that also contain complaints, including two by Robert Southwell and a third by an unknown author.1 Embedded within

J. Arthur Oxford University, Oxford, UK e-mail: [email protected] R. Smith (*) Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_14




this miscellany then, is another collection of complaint poems and poems with complaint elements, which range from the amatory to the religious. Fowler’s miscellany is not only a resource providing unique insights into the range of her and her circle’s literary engagements, but a microcosm of women’s engagement in the mode of early modern complaint. This chapter discusses a twenty-first-century online database that, like Fowler’s miscellany, reveals how early modern women wrote, read, and rewrote complaint. This searchable online database of women and complaint poetry is part of a larger project that investigates how early modern English-speaking women engaged with complaint as a mode, previously considered to be either off-limits or inhospitable to women writers.2 Our database paints a different picture by collecting metadata on women’s writing of complaint poetry from 1530 to 1680. Women not only wrote complaints but participated in a range of extra-authorial activities surrounding their production, including transcription, compilation, and annotation, as part of complex networks of social and literary exchange. Firstly, the database provides the user with comprehensive and searchable bibliographic information about complaint poems and the female agents involved in their composition, compilation, transcription, or translation, and, secondly, with content-based data points about each poem. These data points include the type(s) of complaint or complaint topoi the texts engage in and the gender of the poetic speaker(s). In this way we intend not only to alert students and researchers to the existence of women writing complaint, but also to equip them with sufficient data about individual poetic texts to allow them to draw comparisons, to build hypotheses, and to reconsider the significance of the mode for the early modern woman writer and reader. The development of this database and the knotty taxonomical and definitional problems that we faced in capturing the variety of women’s complaint literature are the focus of this chapter. In particular, we examine the complexities of deciding a workable definition of complaint; the meaning and decision-making process behind the concept of “female agents”; and why and how we identified the gender of poetic speakers. These issues had ramifications for the design of our data model and encouraged us to rethink those categories—complaint, authorship, gender—at the level of individual texts. Moreover, early modern forms of distribution and compilation such as the manuscript miscellany prompted us to revisit our own assumptions about how reference resources should be organised, accessed, and designed. In the case of this database, we reconsider the role of the



first- and last-line index, drawing upon new work in digital design to see how a bibliographic search tool of print culture might be reimagined online. By gathering together “complaint poetry” “written” “by women,” the database destabilises and reimagines these categories in turn, while seeking to make their poems and agents locatable, accessible, and connected through a combination of old and new technologies of the book.

Definitional Woes 1: What Is Complaint? The first and one of the most difficult tasks in designing the database was to define our object of enquiry. This involved first narrowing down what we meant by “complaint.” Though complaint poetry can often feel like a case of you know it when you see it, this turned out to be a poor starting-­ point for a taxonomy. Complaint is a “labile but diffuse term,” a “ragbag of traditions, myths, historical scraps and texts,” that is both mobile and various.3 Take, for example, the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, which describes complaint as “a dramatic, highly emotional lament that reveals the complainant’s specific grievances against a public or private injustice,” a description not so far removed from its entry on elegy: a “poem of loss and mourning,” identifiable by its “speech act of lament.”4 That complaint is an “unusually permeable mode, open to generic mixing” is reflected, too, in its conflation with proximate terms in the period.5 Puttenham describes poems decrying unfaithful lovers as both complaint and lament, and elsewhere associates that kind of amatory complaint with elegiac meter.6 Many ballads use the term complaint fluidly.7 One example is a contemptus mundi broadside ballad with a suggested dating of 1625, whose first part is named “Pitties Lamentation for the cruelty of this age,” but its second is called “The Second Part of Pitties Complaint.”8 Complaint, lament, and elegy often elide, even across different literary forms and genres, and this is indicative of a broader mobility we wanted our database to capture, not diminish. We see complaint as bordering “at one extreme elegy and at the other satire,” though at times it shares expressive space with Petrarchism, legal petitions, moral exempla, prayer, the querelle des femmes, and the de casibus tradition.9 Complaint has a range of biblical precedents, most notably Lamentations, Job, and the Psalms, but also Isaiah and Jeremiah. As a mode based around prosopopoeia and ventriloquy, it is strongly inflected by Ovid’s Heroides, which enjoyed a central place in the humanist grammar school curriculum. The primary poetic effect of the complaint mode is the



amplification of the speaker’s distress. As such, it emphasises emotive language and physical enactments of suffering, for example crying, shouting, and pacing, and, on a rhetorical level, exclamations, repetitions, and questions. While complaining may itself be cathartic, complaints tend to either imply or explicitly seek a form of redress: explanation, restitution, redemption, forgiveness, solace, or sympathy.10 When redress is less explicit, complaint can align closely with lament, with which it shares a preference for the physical performance of distress and the first-person perspective. In general, complaint poems feature an aggrieved person or group (a complainant) who expresses their grievance in the style of an utterance (which is often demotic), but the nature and circumstances of those grievances vary greatly.11 While complaint required a capacious definition that would illustrate the commonalities in these diverse poetic expressions, we also needed more specific definitions and categories to make the various strands of that mode intelligible and searchable. Some of these varieties are suggested by Puttenham, though he does not necessarily identify them with the term complaint. As already suggested, he identifies poems that “bemoan their estates at large and the perplexities of love in a certain piteous verse called elegy” which, elsewhere, he labels both lament and complaint; this broad description encompasses both amatory and existential complaint.12 Puttenham also discusses poets “who intended to tax the common abuses and vice of the people in rough and bitter speeches,” which he identifies as satire, but which we have described as complaints against the times (sometimes called the contemptus mundi).13 In terms of more recent scholarship, we established a juridical complaint strand in response to Wendy Scase’s work on literary complaint’s relationship with legal (com)pleinte and the literature of clamour, or, in other words, complaint as “the expression of a grievance as a means of obtaining a judicial remedy.”14 In addition to amatory, existential, juridical, and complaint against the times, other key strands we identified in women’s writing were medical (suffering in illness), religious (either devotional in prayer or explicitly biblical), political, Heroidean (using the epistolary abandonment tropes of Ovid’s Heroides), and de casibus (fall of princes) poems. These strands primarily reflect the many reasons that might prompt an early modern writer to complain, from the effects of the Civil War to sickness, amorous betrayal, and crises of faith. Some poems belonged to multiple complaint types, such as “amatory” and “existential,” or “complaint against the times” and “de casibus.” All of these exhibited the key



characteristics of complaint, but responded to a different range of grievances, often with a different register of language and set of topoi. We termed these broad characterisations “complaint types,” which became our highest taxonomy in terms of content, allowing users to quickly sift these concerns from the corpus of women’s complaint, or to filter out poems unlikely to be relevant to their projects. When we identified a complaint poem, we first labelled it with one or more complaint types and then added further metadata (or “tags”) in order to provide a finer level of searchable detail. Foremost, we captured the mobility of these complaint types through the category of “poetic form,” flexibly interpreted to refer to both genre (such as Senecan revenge tragedy or biblical verse paraphrase) and form (the sonnet, the dialogue poem). We then developed lists of common topoi, literary devices, keywords, and circumstances that helped us to refine our conception of the complaint mode and which would be used to tag individual poems, providing a substantial amount of searchable metadata. We sorted this information into the following categories: causes (specific circumstances that prompted the complaint), markers (meaning topoi: the ways the complaint is framed or lodged), literary devices, and keywords.15 In order to illustrate more precisely the types of complaint identified above and to demonstrate the kind of information the database includes, we will explore some of the complaint types and their typical content-based metadata. Amatory complaint,  sometimes called erotic complaint and made famous by the male-authored complaints of the 1590s, includes the causes “lovesickness,” “deception,” and “amorous betrayal”; it tends to include markers like “plea,” “accusation,” “seeking death,” and literary devices like personification (e.g., of Love, the Sun, or Night). The keywords of this complaint type often reflect the intersection of emotion and the environment in the humours (tears, for example, tend to accompany rivers, streams, and floods). There are many such poems written by Lady Mary Wroth, such as the poem beginning “The spring now come att last” (Song 1) in Pamphilia to Amphilanthus. In this poem, a lovesick shepherdess wanders, weeping, through a pastoral landscape. Her demise at hand, she seeks a tree to act as her tomb:   Now Willow must I weare   My fortune so will bee.




With Branches of this tree Ile dresse my haplesse head, Which shall my witnesse bee, My hopes in Loue are dead16

Emblematic though they are of amatory complaint, shepherds and shepherdesses are not obligatory. A less typical example we sorted into the same category is the poem titled “A Loueletter, sent from a faythful Louer: to an unconstant Mayden” which is included in Isabella Whitney’s The Copy of a Letter (1567). Here, a male speaker writes a letter, inveighing  against his fickle beloved with similarly emotive (though here more imperative) language:17        

Remember thou the plaints & teares, which I pwrd foorth for thee: And ponder well the sacred vow, that thou hast made to me18

Existential complaint, a term coined by Emily Shortslef, is a broad complaint type that often co-exists with others, like medical and religious complaint. It includes poems of melancholy or despair and its prompts are often less tangible than other  types of complaint. In the database, the causes of existential complaints are often tagged as “psychic suffering,” “broad grievance,” “tedium,” or “isolation”; literary devices include repetition, pathetic fallacy, and exclamation; markers often include “observing nature,” “rumination”; and keywords from the poems, while very broad, tend to emphasise emotional states, as in the words “melancholy” and “afflicted”, or muted environments suggested by terms like “shades,” “shadow,” and “solitary.” An example of this type of complaint is the opening poem in the prose romance Urania by Lady Mary Wroth, beginning “Unseen, unknown, I here alone complain.”19 The poem rehearses the topoi we might associate with the amatory strand of complaint: there is a pastoral setting that serves as an audience for Urania’s lamentation (“to Rocks, to Hills, to Meadowes, and to Springs”),  and Echo “resound[ing] … that monefull voice” so that “she doth my companion prove”. Moreover, as is common in amatory complaints, Urania’s distress, though amplified, remains unresolved at the end of the poem.20 Yet the speaker’s grievance is more loosely defined than amatory complaints. There is no absent lover. No one has been spurned. This less-directed style



of complaint typifies the existential strand, and in the database, one of its causes is listed as “isolation.” Religious complaint, conversely, might be expected to involve causes like “crisis of faith,” “psychic suffering,” “fear of death,” and “sin.”21 It uses literary devices like apostrophe and rhetorical questions; markers such as “appeal to authority,” “seeking solace,” or “seeking redemption”; and keywords that included religious vocabulary or emotional appeals emblematic of devotional writing. One example of Lady Hester Pulter’s many religious complaints in her manuscript Poems breathed forth by the noble Hadassah is the poem “A Solitary Discourse,” which we also tagged as an existential complaint. In this poem, a long meditation, the speaker examines her “pensive soul,” which alternates between “grief” and “relief,” responding to the beauty of Aurora (the dawn) who stands, too, for God’s grace. “For shame, my soul” says the speaker, admonishing herself to “leave this base discontent,/And cheerly look up the firmament.”22 The content-based tags on the back-end of the database for this poem are included in the image below. The aim is for each of these content fields to be searchable in complement with higher-level categories like “complaint type.” For example, a user could search for religious complaints with classical allusions and receive this poem as one of several search results. Alternately, for an author with many complaint poems like Pulter or Mary Wroth, individual keywords like “shame” could identify a selection of poems among them.

Fig. 14.1  A screenshot from the WordPress back-end of the entry to Pulter’s “A Solitary Discourse,” showing content-based tags. (Photo by the authors)



This kind of search functionality is also useful for poems that fall under the juridical and complaint against the times complaint types. These poems often decry a perceived injustice, which are placed under the “Causes” category (as in Fig. 14.1). While the front-end search function has yet to be finalised, we envisage that a drop-down list of causes registered in the database will guide users’ searches in categories like “Causes” where wording is variable and subjective. For example, one of the key causes of complaint against the times poems in the male-authored tradition, and overlapping with amatory complaint and the querelle des femmes, is the “inconstancy of women.” An example is the opening speech of Mark Antony (Antonius) in Mary Sidney Herbert’s play The Tragedie of Antonie: Since cruell Heav’ns against me obstinate, Since all mishappes of the round engin doo Conspire my harme: since men, since powers divine Aire, earth, and Sea are all injurious: And that my Queene her selfe, in whome I liv’d, The Idoll of my harte, doth me pursue; It’s meet I dye.23

Having been in Cleopatra’s “allurements caught,” Mark Antony laments his fall (de casibus) alongside a wider complaint against the times.24 Interestingly, in a database of women’s complaint, the “inconstancy of men” also features prominently. A juridical complaint example is Salome’s complaint in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedie of Mariam, the Faire Queene of Iewry, which begins “Lives Salome, to get so base a stile.” Here, Salome inveighs against the legal injustice that precludes women from seeking a divorce: If he to me did beare as Earnest hate, As I to him, for him there was an ease, A separating bill might free his fate: From such a yoke that did so much displease. Why should such priviledge to man be given? Or given to them, why bard from women then? Are men then we in greater grace with Heaven? Or cannot women hate as well as men? Ille be the custome-breaker: and beginne To shew my Sexe the way to freedomes doore.25



The entry for this poem identifies its form as a soliloquy; the causes of the complaint include “legal injustice” and “gender injustice” (among others); its markers include “seeking redress,” and its literary devices include legal vocabulary and rhetorical questions. The database also identifies the text as part of a drama and Senecan revenge tragedy, under the “poetic form” category. While these tags cannot capture all of the poems’ many interests, they provide a starting point for users who are likely to approach the material from many directions. Searching this extensive content-based data may reveal surprising commonalities—and divergences—in the way early modern women use complaint. These and other tags also serve to corroborate our high-level decisions about each poem, elucidating our choice of complaint type by providing markers, keywords, causes, and literary devices that may be emblematic of that strand of the mode, or justify why the poem was determined to be a complaint in the first instance. We believe the value of this data as an indicative starting-point for further research outweighs the necessarily subjective nature of some of these choices. These tags, including both data and metadata, allow users to quickly identify a potential corpus of texts to guide their study, such as an inquiry into a literary device like apostrophe, the use of rivers in amorous complaint, or women writers’ facility with legal vocabulary. This kind of functionality is uncommon in digital resources of early modern women’s writing, in that it allows users to search according to their research interests, rather than having to search by text or period. The inclusion of this content-based metadata also has significant advantages for those texts that are not readily available to all audiences, such as texts accessible only in particular archives or through academic libraries. This is particularly pertinent for texts in manuscript, many of which are not accessible online and which are only now starting to become more widely available and to find their way  into university reading lists and anthologies. However, even some printed texts are not reliably available in accessible formats. While full texts are not provided on our site and doing so would  have involved an exponentially larger project, by providing a significant amount of information from the poem we hope to allow users to make informed decisions about what texts are likely or unlikely to be relevant to their purposes and thus which are worth pursuing further. The included keywords, for example, are broad and include not only complaint-­ related terminology but important or recurring terms in the poems. This information may allow users to identify interests not covered by our other



content categories and to follow up the poem for further analysis. We have additionally included public-domain transcriptions where available, amplifying the index’s utility as a search tool in the digital environment.

Definitional Woes 2: What Is Women’s Complaint? The other definitional work demanded by our database was to decide what we meant by “women’s complaint.” While our initial research project began using the term “female-authored,” as the project progressed we decided we wanted to capture a fuller range of women’s literary engagements. This reflects an emerging critical consensus that traditional conceptions of authorship elide the many, often collaborative, roles women played in literary production.26 As Constance Aston Fowler’s miscellany demonstrates, an individual’s role could vary within the same volume, and our database captures her as compiler, transcriber, and, potentially, as an author. By including transcribers and compilers, alongside collaborative authors (like Mary Sidney Herbert and Philip Sidney) and translators, we sought to construct a more complete picture of women’s engagement with complaint literature—whether or not that literature was itself the original composition of a woman. This information furthers our sense of complaint as a vital literary mode with significant purchase, and allows for more wide-ranging research projects on its reception across early modern Britain. We retained the term “author,” but did so as one of many roles under an umbrella category called “female agent,” which includes other roles such as transcriber and compiler. The “female agent” field will be one of the primary search categories available in the final database, allowing researchers to search women by name and to see the range of their literary engagements; or, alternately, to search by kind of “female agent” and see, for example, the number of women translating, transcribing, or anthologising complaint in the period. We used “author” to refer to the original writer of a given work, but also included translators under the “author” category to reflect the significant degree of creative agency translators may exercise over a work.27 Below is a diagram that outlines the database’s authorship options (Fig. 14.2). As this diagram shows, we also included an option to list the original author in the case of translation, transcription, or compilation. Hence, in works like Katherine Philips’s Horace: A Tragedy, she is labelled as “authoras-translator,” and is listed alongside the author of her French source text,

Fig. 14.2  A flow-chart of expanded authorship options in the database. (Illustration by the authors)





Pierre Corneille. This fine-grained approach allowed our concept of “female agents” to encompass and delineate the multiple authorial and extra-authorial roles women played in producing complaint. Our attribution methodology is quite different to that employed by RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550–1700, which is discussed in Erin McCarthy and Marie-­ Louise Coolahan’s chapter in this volume. We included only women’s work that was positively attributed to women, by either publication, manuscript autograph, or the consensus of modern scholarship, and did not include texts attributed to anonymous epithets like “A Lady” or “A Gentlewoman.” While this risked the exclusion of some works that were female-authored or transcribed, the habitual ventriloquy of women’s voices in male-authored complaint made these labels  feel particularly vexed when applied to this mode. One caveat is that while we strongly prioritised the inclusion of work which had the proven involvement of a “female agent,” we also allowed the “female agent” to be listed as contested. An example here is the poems in Constance Aston Fowler’s miscellany which are in her hand but have not been definitively attributed. As this database and the wider research project has developed, then, we have moved away from the term “female-authored” to a terminology that encapsulated the diversity of women’s literary activities, while retaining a relatively high bar for inclusion. Nonetheless, we are wary of unintentionally diminishing the “hard-won legitimacy” of those women who do fit into the traditional author mould.28 As such, the search function of the database will retain the ability to search for “original” texts (i.e., texts that are not translated or transcribed) by individual female authors. This type of text has proven to be very well-represented in the body of women’s complaint literature. One of the surprising findings of our project so far has been the extent to which canonical women writers, such as Mary Sidney Herbert, Lady Mary Wroth, and Lucy Hutchinson, engaged with the mode. Lady Mary Wroth, for example, authored a significant body of complaint poetry in ways reflecting the traditional authorship model. Of the 330 poems currently classified in the database, 110 are by Wroth, identifying her as a leading poet of complaint in the early modern period regardless of gender. Wroth’s prolific output of amatory complaint has so far made that the most common type of complaint in the database (162,



as of writing), followed by religious complaints (94, as of writing), the latter including the work of Hester Pulter and the biblical verse paraphrases of Anne Lock and Mary Sidney Herbert.

Definitional Woes 3: Who Voices Complaint? The database also captures information about the speakers of the poems themselves, so that users can examine how women engage with issues of voice and voicing which are central to the complaint mode. In particular, we wanted to know how often women use female speakers, and whether they engage in the ventriloquy of male speakers to the degree that male writers assume the voices of female speakers. We therefore needed to identify the gender of the poetic speakers. This was a predictably fraught exercise, requiring that  we distinguish biography from poetry and social construct from literary contrivance. Narrative poems, like ballads, or poetic insertions in prose were relatively simple because we had ample textual and extra-textual information. It was straightforward, for example, to identify the gender of a speaker when they were labelled, as in Elizabeth Cary’s Senecan revenge play The Tragedie of Mariam or Mary  Sidney Herbert’s The Tragedie of Antonie. But in Wroth’s The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania, although poetic interludes were contextualised by the surrounding prose, identifying the gender of the fictive writer of the poem (e.g., the eponymous Urania) did not entail that their poetic speakers, in the first- or third-person, shared their gender. These decisions became particularly vexed in lyric and occasional poems written in the first-person, forms that are common in women’s complaint. Many of Hester Pulter’s complaints are occasional poems which appear autobiographical, such as the untitled poem beginning: How long shall my dejected soul (Deare God) in dust and Darkness rowl, Without one raie Of thy eternall Love and Light To Conquer these sad shades of Night[?]29



Others, such as medical complaints, feel even more strongly biographical, such as Pulter’s “Made When I Was Sick, 1647”: O mee! how sore, how sad is my poor heart How loath my Soule is from my flesh to part; Hath forty years acquaintance causd Such Love To rottennes; that thou wilt ungratefull prove; To that invisable Light of which wee are beams[?]30

In these cases, we had to balance our instinct that these were female speakers against the fact of a lack of positive textual evidence for a female ascription. We were also conscious of the critical tendency to assume that female writing is more autobiographical, confessional (and implicitly less literary) than similar works of (canonical) male poets. Our solution to these issues was to develop more granular categories that would allow users of the database to discern between poetic speakers which were definitively gendered and those which were likely to be female or male, but which required additional critical scrutiny. Because of our wider project’s particular interest in women writing in female voices, we assigned poems with clear textual evidence of a female speaker the complaint type “female-voiced,” in addition to any other complaint type already listed for the poem (e.g., amatory or religious). We also created a “gender of speakers” field with five options: female explicit, female implicit, male explicit, male implicit, and unknown. For a speaker to be labelled “female explicit” or “male explicit,” there needed to be clear textual evidence to this effect within the poem itself, such as gendered nouns or pronouns. “Female explicit” poems were always also labelled as “female-­ voiced.” The “implicit” categories were our response to poems such as those of Pulter’s above, where there was a sense that the poem had a female speaker but there was insufficient textual evidence to be “explicit.” We chose “unknown” in the gender of speaker field in trenchantly unsolvable cases like psalm paraphrase, such as Anne Lock’s “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner,” where the first-person speaker could variously be interpreted as a voicing of David, of a non-gendered religious community, or an appropriation of the psalm for female articulation.31 Conversely, gender was not an issue in complaints ventriloquising historical figures like Cleopatra or Antony in The Tragedie of Antonie. However, as part of our interest in prosopopoeia, we allowed historical personages to be identified as poetic speakers within the database itself. This information is of



particular relevance to Heroidean complaint poetry, drama, and biblical verse paraphrase, and its inclusion allows interested scholars to easily search for figures relevant to their studies.

Bibliographic and Poetic Information Database Design Our database also sought to incorporate texts’ material  histories and to make room for the growing critical interest in textual circulation, reception, and performance. Given the importance of manuscript culture to early modern women, it was crucial that our database acknowledges both manuscript and print sources. However, these are not neatly confined and manuscripts often exist alongside print texts with which they can have a complicated relationship. It was therefore vital that the database be flexible enough to acknowledge multiple iterations of the same text. While we listed all known iterations of the text, textual information, such as first and last lines, titles, and keywords, were all taken from the earliest recorded version of the poem. This partly reflects our desire not to continue the disciplinary habit of prioritising print texts over manuscripts—a preference unlikely to have been shared by early modern women themselves. We wanted to avoid the frustrating experience of receiving a slew of apparently promising search results only to realise they all refer to much the same text and so chose to be conservative in what we considered a separate poem.32 We indicated the existence of alternative versions in a set of fields called “Additional iterations.” For example, our entries on the complaints among Mary Sidney Herbert’s Psalmes indicate each of the eighteen extant manuscripts so far identified that contain the relevant psalm; however, when searching Sidney Herbert’s works, each psalm comes up as a single entry.33 This system prevents poems with multiple variants being numerically over-represented in search results and so potentially obscuring results for those users to whom (sometimes labyrinthine) textual histories are of little interest. This choice also ensured that users could view accurate statistics about the frequency with which particular women make use of the complaint mode. Our interest in manuscript culture extends to issues of literary exchange, reception, and beyond that, to texts’ life in performance. We initially wanted our database to indicate the scope of lively networks and coteries,



and women’s involvement in them. As Helen Smith argues, “[w]omen, like men, used books to build or reinforce social relationships, passing them to friends, potential patrons, or dependents.”34 This could start within the domestic sphere where, as in the Cavendish family, “the elite 1630s household expands outward into wider social circles and networks of authorship, readership and shared cultural production in the period.”35 As such, we had intended to include information about textual circulation for each poem we included in the database, cognizant that early modern textual reception and transmission was not a neutral process, but one often marked (literally) by material practices indicating interpretation, collaboration, and reader response. We also hoped to include performance history, where again the Cavendish family is a prime example, in order to acknowledge  the complaint mode’s close relationship with oral performance, utterance, drama, and song.36 We saw performance as a kind of collaborative opportunity, and another form of women’s engagement with complaint—such as hypothetical performances of Wroth’s play Love’s Victory. However, in these respects we had to manage our ambitions. We were surprised at the number of complaint poems we were identifying and it quickly became clear that attempts to trace each poem’s reception, transmission, and performance history—attempts which would, of course, often be frustrated by the ephemerality of much relevant evidence—were ambitions we could not reconcile with our time and funding constraints. While digital resources appear to have limitless potential, they inevitably run up against the same constraints as any research project: time, resources, and other institutional demands. Nonetheless, and circumstances permitting, this is a future direction for the database or for another project which we feel would respond to a significant gap in existing resources. In a recent article, Jonathan P. Lamb appraises, and generally praises, a range of early modern digital resources. But he is also aware of the risk of a resource that “changes constantly, sometimes breaks, and is subject to a peculiar set of technical and epistemological regimes.”37 Digital humanities has long promised accessible archives and new insights through data analysis, and it has delivered both, though not without compromises familiar to traditional, paper-bound resources, and others unique to the digital realm. To conclude this chapter, we want to situate our database among other digital early modern resources and consider how we might rethink print conventions in the digital realm. Lamb sorts the digital resources he covers into archives (data), “lists of things” (metadata), digitally enriched editions of texts, and “wildcards,”



including data visualisations. Our database of women’s complaint began as a “list of things,” in that it collects data about data, or information about texts, rather than the texts themselves. Other projects in this category include the Perdita Database, the Database of Early English Playbooks, and the Lost Plays Database. Our database is also aligned with the English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), in that both are “[o]rganized around a coherent and specific set of texts, [which] offers access to a cultural form that often escapes notice.”38 While EBBA includes full texts of its ballads and is therefore also an archive, our project is similarly focused on a mode (though not in our case also a medium) of popular literary expression. EBBA has sought to take an ongoing role in ballad studies, with its regularly updated bibliography and listings of upcoming colloquia. These kinds of accompanying materials may go some way to avoiding what Lamb suggests is a potential danger in digital resources, namely that “the technical digital aspects of early modern studies may diverge too widely from the rest of the field, making it impossible for the groups to communicate— and it is already quite difficult.”39 A key aim for the latter stages of our own project is to provide a similarly comprehensive apparatus of written publications and resources that enrich the database by explaining its design choices, its methodology, foci, and origin. As is the case for EBBA, these explanations are best accessed directly through or alongside the database platform, which may help to remind users that databases like this one intend to start a conversation, rather than conclude it. The more we developed the dataset of early modern women’s engagement with complaint, however, the more we have become aware of the limitations of our original conception of this resource, which effectively recreated the protocols of a print first- and last-line index in the digital environment. The ability to link each entry to open source data means that the database can be much more than an index, providing direct pathways to the increasing number of texts available in digital editions. Further, the database and its associated metadata offer the opportunity to reconsider how we conceptualise the bibliographic tool of the index in the online environment. We have begun to collaborate with the digital design scholar Mitchell Whitelaw to explore alternative ways in which our dataset might be ordered and visualised. Although in its early stages, this has already involved questioning the need for an alphabetic system of ordering through textual lists, which transfers the conventions of the print index to its online counterpart. Instead, we are experimenting with new taxonomies and visualisations linked to specific terms within the site’s metadata.



With each poem given a unique identifier, the dataset can be visualised in completely new configurations that will vividly represent the subsets of the broad mode of complaint poetry and the intersections between its different elements.40 In a circumscribed form of distant reading, the database’s users will be able to see patterns and frequencies, new correlations, and points of separation.41 These expose what Julia Flanders describes as “patterns of epiphenomena” which “suggest, at a deeper level, the historical and cultural pressures operating on the textual field.”42 To what extent, for example, did women writers use the form of female-voiced complaint for protest rather than lament? The data visualisations proposed here present clusters of data that can be further explored at a granular level, supported by the “generous interface” pioneered by Whitelaw.43 Linked to timelines, a user will be able to see instantly the ways in which, for example, a particular kind of complaint flourishes or falls away across the early modern period. They will also be able to visualise the complaint markers most frequently used across the dataset, or those most commonly employed by individual writers. This kind of interface not only allows the scale and richness of a dataset to be represented, but offers multiple pathways into its constituent parts, supporting exploration and enriching interpretation by revealing relationships and structures. Further, the generous interface makes transparent the codes and conventions through which a database is constructed, fostering rather than shutting down the critical conversation that it set out to encourage. Essays and monographs clearly intervene in that conversation, but resources like databases can feel more faceless, their results more definitive, and their interpretative decisions less visible to the user. Resources do not necessarily look like arguments, though of course they are. By bringing together research questions in early modern studies and digital design, our reinvented first- and last-line index foregrounds, denaturalises, and reconceives the ways in which we use one of the foundational tools of bibliography, the index, in the digital environment. The etymology of the index is the Latin indicis, the forefinger, which points out, discloses, discovers, and informs. Our site points out in new ways the parameters of early modern women’s engagement with complaint poetry, but also connections across this body of texts and beyond through links to open-source data. In doing so, we want to bring together research questions in digital design and those in early modern women’s studies within a single platform, looking to where our different disciplinary approaches might enrich our co-created resource and allow us to find



new ways of searching and ordering our dataset that can only be realised digitally. Central to our project now is not just the static representation of a literary mode as practised by women, but the investigation and reimagination of cultures of literary collection and use, and this has increasingly prompted us to re-evaluate what digital humanities can afford in the way of new, or reimagined, bibliographic tools and resources.44 This chapter has described the development of a database of early modern women’s writing of complaint poetry and discussed the key difficulties and opportunities uncovered in that process, such as defining complaint and of female “authorship” and rethinking how the index might function online. This resource promises researchers the ability to search manuscript and print sources of women’s complaint through metadata about the writers and the poems themselves. This includes conceptualising the variety of writing in the complaint mode through different complaint types. The database therefore complements existing online archives by collating and making readily accessible key information about a new and exciting corpus of texts, which will appeal to those studying complaint, women’s writing, and early modern literature. As it has developed, however, the project has taken on a new dimension, and it also seeks to interrogate, in its taxonomies and forms, the new ways in which knowledge can be disseminated visually. Combining digital design research with traditional humanities scholarship, our site provides alternative ways of looking at old texts, designed to provoke  new considerations of both the mode we seek to represent and the tools with which it can be represented.

Notes 1. Helen Hackett has now identified this second hand as Father William Smith (William Southern), a Jesuit priest. “Unlocking the Mysteries of Constance Aston Fowler’s Verse Miscellany (Huntington Library MS HM 904): The Hand B Scribe Identified,” in Manuscript Miscellanies in Early Modern England, ed. Joshua Eckhardt and Daniel Starza Smith (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 91–112. 2. See, for example, Danielle Clarke’s argument that the limited space Heroidean constructions of femininity leave for women writers and female speakers. “‘Formd into words by your divided lips’: Women, Rhetoric and the Ovidian Tradition,” in “This Double Voice”: Gendered Writing in Early Modern England, ed. Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), 61–87.



3. Danielle Clarke, “‘Signifying, But Not Sounding’: Gender and Paratext in the Complaint Genre,” in Renaissance Paratexts, ed. Helen Smith and Louise Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 135. 4. “Complaint,” and “Elegy,” in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed., ed. Stephen Cushman, Clare Cavanagh, and Paul Rouzer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 287 and 397–98. 5. Rosalind Smith, Michelle O’Callaghan, and Sarah C. E. Ross, “Complaint,” in A Companion to Renaissance Poetry, ed. Catherine Bates (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018), 339. 6. George Puttenham, The Art of English Poesy, ed. Frank Whigham and Wayne A.  Rebhorn (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), 303–4 and 137. 7. Searching the English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) for “complaint” gives a strong indication of this. 8. “Pitties Lamentation for the cruelty of this age.” 1625? Magdalene College, Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 1.162–163, EBBA 20071. Accessed 15 March 2019, https://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/ballad/20071/image 9. Smith, O’Callaghan, and Ross, “Complaint,” 339. 10. Puttenham discusses the healing power of lamentation in Galenic terms of expulsion, noting that “one short sorrowing [can be] the remedy of a long and grievous sorrow.” The Art of English Poesy, 136–37. 11. Smith, O’Callaghan, and Ross, “Complaint,” 339. 12. Puttenham, The Art of English Poesy, 137 and 303–4. “Existential” complaint is discussed in more detail later in this chapter. 13. Puttenham, The Art of English Poesy, 116. 14. Wendy Scase, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272–1553 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 1. 15. Keywords are taken from the poems but modernised across the database to ensure they are consistently searchable. 16. In “Pamphilia to Amphilanthus,” Folger Shakespeare Library, MS V.a.104, fols. 4r-4v, ll. 23–28. 17. Our policies for the inclusion of poems such as this one, which is male-­ voiced and ascribed to the putatively male W. G. (EEBO tentatively suggests Geoffrey Whitney), is discussed later in this chapter. 18. Isabella Whitney, The copy of a letter, lately written in meeter (London, 1567), sig. B3v, ll. 65–68. 19. v/u have been modernised here and throughout. 20. Lady Mary Wroth, The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (London, 1621), 2. 21. See Susan Felch’s distinction between penitential and petitionary (religious) complaint in her chapter in this volume.



22. University of Leeds Library, Brotherton MS Lt. q. 32, fols. 64v-67r, ll. 21–22. 23. Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke,  (trans.). The Tragedie of Antonie. Doone into English by the Countesse of Pembroke. (London, 1595), sig. Alr, II. 1–7. 24. Ibid., l. 11. 25. Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedie of Mariam, the Faire Queene of Iewry (London, 1613), sig. B3r, ll. 41–50. 26. See, for example, Julie Crawford, Mediatrix: Women, Politics, and Literary Production in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Helen Smith, “Grossly Material Things”: Women and Book Production in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), and the recent collection edited by Patricia Pender, Gender, Authorship, and Early Modern Women’s Collaboration (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). 27. This decision reflects Danielle Clarke’s key work in revising our understanding of women’s translation, a mode whose “relative marginality or slipperiness of ownership can be exploited as a form of agency to figures who otherwise lack it.” See “Translation,” in The Cambridge Companion to Early Modern Women’s Writing, ed. Laura Lunger Knoppers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 170. 28. Pender, ed., Gender, Authorship, and Early Modern Women’s Collaboration, 1. 29. Brotherton MS Lt q 32, fol. 42r, ll. 1–5. 30. Ibid., fol. 48r, ll. 1–5. 31. These issues are additionally complicated by the uncertain authorship of this sequence. See Steven W. May’s recent article, “Anne Lock and Thomas Norton’s Meditation of a Penitent Sinner,” Modern Philology 114, no. 4 (2017): 793–819. 32. It quickly became apparent we were not lacking material for inclusion. 33. Poems from manuscript sources were entered in the database with the folio numbers of their primary “iteration,” in addition to the basic identificatory information of title, first and last lines and number of lines. 34. Helen Smith, “Grossly Material Things,” 215. 35. Sarah C. E. Ross, “Coteries, Circles, Networks: The Cavendish Circle and Civil War Women’s Writing,” in A History of Early Modern Women’s Writing, ed. Patricia Phillippy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 338. 36. Rosalind Smith has discussed the lack of discussion of performance as a “particularly problematic critical lacuna in the case of poetry, which was the subject of both written and oral modes, read aloud, sometimes memorised and made the speaker’s own in the moment of performance.” “A



‘goodly sample’: exemplarity, female complaint and early modern women’s poetry,” in Early Modern Women and the Poem, ed. Susan Wiseman (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), 182. 37. Jonathan P. Lamb, “Digital Resources for Early Modern Studies,” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 58, no. 2 (2018), 445. 38. In contrast with Perdita Manuscripts, Perdita collects metadata about early modern women’s writing in manuscript. Lamb, “Digital Resources for Early Modern Studies,” 450. 39. Ibid., 465. 40. For a useful recent survey of research on visualisations that support close and distant reading, see Stefan Jänicke, Greta Franzini, Muhammad Faisal Cheema, and Gerik Scheuermann, “On Close and Distant Reading in Digital Humanities: A Survey and Future Challenges,” Eurographics Conference on Visualization (EuroVis) – STARs. (Cagliari: The Eurographics Association, 2015.) https://doi.org/10.2312/eurovisstar.20151113 41. Foundational studies in distant reading include Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees (New York: Verso, 2005) and Distant Reading (New York: Verso, 2013); Matthew L.  Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2013). 42. Julia Flanders, “Leaning, Reading, and the Problem of Scale: Using Women Writers Online,” Pedagogy 2, no. 1 (2002), 55. 43. Mitchell Whitelaw, “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9, no. 1 (2015). Accessed 21 October, 2019. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/1/00205/000205.html 44. For an expanded account of the function of the apparatus digitally, see Sarah Connell, Julia Flanders, Nicole Infanta, Elizabeth Polcha, and William Reed Quinn, “Learning from the Past: The Women Writers Project and Thirty Years of Humanities Text Encoding,” Magnificat Cultura i Literatura Medievals 4 (2017), 1–19.




“Past the Help of Law”: Epyllia and the Female Complaint Lynn Enterline

As I read this volume, I found myself once more asking a question that has occurred to me frequently over the years: What is it about the complaint that makes it such a capacious topic for early modern literary invention? It is, of course, a question without a definitive answer. But in expanding the field of inquiry to female-authored complaints with so many “new forms, new texts, and new authors,” these essays made me remember that the Latin prefix cum- lies behind the English “complaint.” That is: contrary to the imagined condition of solitary discontent that might at first seem obtain in a lament, the complaints studied here nonetheless involve multiple parties—and lay claims to myriad connections with others, forged both diachronically and synchronically. Meaning “with,” “together,” “in association,” and also used as an intensifier, cum- underscores the socially and affectively mobile character of early modern expressions of grief. Relying as they often do on prosopopoeia, complaints eschew isolation. They also challenge many kinds of binary distinction, bridging divisions between speaker and audience, writer and reader; the ostensibly “living” L. Enterline (*) Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1_15




voice and “mute” text; the classical past and early modern invention; Ovidian laments and biblical trials; male and female experience; personal distress and social critique; literary and legal practice; rhetoric and poetry. Taken together, these essays greatly expand our view of the field of possible “emotion scripts” that the very idea of complaint afforded both male and female writers. And here I borrow Katherine Rowe’s useful term to underscore the multiple potential parties and imaginary scenes of address implicit in the complaint tradition as a tradition.1 The editors write that “if complaint is in its nature the articulation of loss and disenfranchisement, the pathos of its articulation (especially if feminised) can generate a trenchant critique of those in power, and a call to action.” Here it seems to me important to remember that this is precisely what many “female” voices of lament in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Heroides do—produce a lively critique of “those in power.” The potential for complaint to turn to critique returns, as Lindsay Ann Reid reminds us, in Ovid’s Tristia. Both the ventriloquized voices of female complaint and Ovid’s own career arc explain why his texts remain a crucial thread in the interwoven fabric of genres and forms examined here.2 Moreover, one of the accomplishments of this volume is to ask us to give very careful thought to the phrase, “especially if feminised.” Many of these essays, far from reifying identity categories, underscore the way complaint occupies a liminal state, relying on a fluidity rather than difference between inner and outer worlds as well as between genders: at some junctures, “female” versus “male” seems critically important, at others both are erased as categories of distinction. As Cora Fox observes of Ovid’s poetry, distinctions of gender identity “are always on the verge of breaking down”; indeed, as Catherine Bates puts it, the Metamorphoses is “a virtual assault on category.”3 This volume moves from the 1540s to lean forward to the Restoration as well as new developments in the digital humanities. Therefore I propose to respond to the new horizons for research and critique opened here by leaning back to reconsider what this work might reveal about late sixteenth-­ century “male-authored” “female” complaints. The editors observe that: [o]ne constant in early modern women’s use of complaint is the mobilisation of community: the sympathetic listeners whose “compassion” activates complaint’s purchase in achieving its poetic, religious and political ends. Contrary to the bereft and isolated female speaker overheard in Elizabethan male-authored complaint, the essays collected here show women writers



situating their plainants in networks of literary, social and political exchange. (11)

But contrary to the fiction of isolated solitude adopted in lamenting voices in Tudor epyllia, many minor epics also mobilize complaint to situate themselves precisely in “networks of literary, social, and political exchange.”4 Considered from the vantage of the institutions of education in Tudor England, the Ovidian voices of lament adopted in the 1590s reveal a good deal about contemporary networks of social relation—horizontal and vertical—particularly as these connections were forged by the disciplinary and discursive regimes of the grammar school and the Inns of Court before carrying over into London’s literary circles. Consider, for example, the institutional resonances in The Rape of Lucrece after Lucrece fails to persuade Tarquin not to rape her, not to make himself “a school where Lust shall learn” (line 617): Out, idle words, servants to shallow fools, Unprofitable sounds, weak arbitrators! Busy yourselves in skill-contending schools, Debate where leisure serves with dull debaters; To trembling clients be you mediators: For me, I force not argument a straw, Since that my case is past the help of law. (1016–22; emphasis mine)5

Confronting the limitations of training in rhetoric after her rape, Lucrece also confronts readers with a disturbing pun. As Mistress Quickly would no doubt loudly object, Lucrece is thinking about the impossibility of bringing a legal “case” about the violent offense to her “case,” or genitalia. Though the poem could not have been written had its author not attended one of those “skill-contending schools,” and though both Shakespeare’s epyllia participated in a literary conversation among former schoolboys who were either resident at the Inns of Court or writing for the theatre, Lucrece dismisses the verbal facility necessary to both kinds of educational training as “idle,” “unprofitable,” and “weak.” Lucrece’s unhappy pun, much like the rape itself, turns on the crudest assertion of sexual difference. But as I’ve argued elsewhere about her apostrophes to Philomela and Hecuba, these figures suggest that a relationship of similitude rather than difference obtains between Lucrece and her narrator.6 Indeed, Lucrece becomes something of a surrogate speaker



for Shakespeare’s narrator, facing the very rhetorical problems he faces in attempting to give her a voice—and thereby to replace the story Tarquin threatens to write (in which he will make her the “author” of her family’s “obloquy” because her “trespass” will be “cited up in rhymes/And sung by children in succeeding times” [522–525]) with the story told by Lucrece instead. Theirs is a struggle for narrative authority. In her apostrophe to Philomela, Lucrece finds momentary relief in the characteristically schoolboy act of imitatio. Hoping to “imitate thee well,” Lucrece addresses Philomela as if they were singing a duet (“burthen-wise I’ll hum on Tarquin still/While thou on Tereus descant’st better skill” [1134]). And in turning to Hecuba, Lucrece imagines herself to be a ventriloquist (“‘Poor instrument,’ quoth she, ‘without a sound,/I’ll tune thy woes with my lamenting tongue’” [1464–5]). Both apostrophes echo the poet’s own inaugural acts—imitatio and prosopopoeia—and in so doing stress her difficulty, but also his, in finding words to speak about trauma. Moreover, both Lucrece’s apostrophes posit a relationship of kinship and sympathy, even to the point of identification, between the speaker and the victim to whom she (or he) tries to “lend a tongue.” In short, the poem translates rhetorical into poetic technique in a way that emphasizes the problem the poet shares with Lucrece: How do I find words to represent what Ovid’s Philomela calls an “unspeakable” event (nefas)? For his part, Shakespeare’s narrator repeatedly labels Lucrece’s discourse a “complaint”—until Brutus’s final call to action, at which point the word’s meaning shifts still further away from the sense of a personal lament to that of a speech made to spur action in the legal-political community: By all our country rights in Rome maintained, And by chaste Lucrece’s soul that late complained Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife, We will revenge the death of this true wife. (1838–42)

And thus her lament enters debates about republicanism. As humanist dramatists and lawyers participating in this new form of narrative verse knew well, “complaint” covers several fields of meaning: a “titular word” in medieval and early modern “plaintive poems,” “complaint” signified a personal “expression of grief, a lamentation” as well as “a statement of injury or grievance laid before a court or judicial authority for purposes of prosecution or redress” (OED). When Lucrece “complains” that her “case



is past the help of law” and ill-served by words learned in “skill contending schools” to aid “trembling clients,” she reminds us that in the 1590s, the literary history of female complaint was made possible by the rhetorical practices that carried over from one educational institution (the grammar school) to another (England’s “third university,” the Inns of Court). The Rape of Lucrece is but one of several epyllia in which complaint enables a narrator to cast a critical eye on the utility of humanist rhetorical and legal training as well as the institutions that made these rhetorically exuberant poems possible. Thomas Lodge, a student at Lincoln’s Inn, set Scillaes Metamorphosis on the Isis River in Oxford; on its banks, one complaint spills into another: the narrator, Glaucus, Scylla, and a chorus of nymphs all take part over the course of the action. And Glaucus first brings this community together when he chides the forlorn narrator for not having been “schooled” by “books” or having learned the doctrine of perpetual change from “schoolmen’s cunning notes,” only to do an about face by asking him to “moan my hapless state” instead (Stanza 7, line 6).7 Apparently schoolbooks have done nothing to instruct Glaucus from his “fond repent,” either. In Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare turns Venus into an inept grammar schoolmaster, unable to teach her reluctant, prepubescent pupil a lesson in love: in vain she pleads, “O learn to love, the lesson is but plain/And once made perfect, never lost again” (407–8). Francis Beaumont, member of the Inner Temple, takes Jove on a detour to Astrea’s court in Salmacis and Hermaphroditus. There, the narrator bemoans that “the dewe of justice … did seldome fall,/And when it dropt, the drops were very small.” Jove himself has to pay a fee to find Astrea— and is eventually robbed completely—while moving through a hall “Full of darke angles and of hidden ways/Crooked Maenanders, infinite delays” (177–8). In Hero and Leander, Marlowe’s digressive narrator ends the poem’s first book with an aetiological detour that explains why “Learning,” far from being useful, brings penury. The poem’s evidently learned narrator laments that “guile keeps learning down,” and that “he and Povertie” will “always kiss.” While humanist educators stressed rhetoric’s social utility, these varied complaints in Tudor epyllia respond with an aesthetic of indirection, digression, and uselessness.8 Like Lucrece, many of these narrators articulate disappointment with the efficacy claimed for words learned in skill-contending schools. Given these distinct institutional resonances and the plainants’ resistance to the claims about contributing to the commonwealth on which a Latin education rested, we would do well to think in further detail about



the rhetorical, discursive, and disciplinary practices that spanned grammar school education and legal training. I begin with a description of daily life from the Westminster school. In it, a Tudor student delineates the extent to which proto-legal performances permeated hierarchical as well as proximate grammar school social relations. The text was written by one of the “first boys” set to monitor classmates: These Monitors kept them [the younger boys] strictly to speaking of Latine in theyr several commands; and withal they presented their complaints or accusations (as we called them) everie Friday morn: when the punishments were often redeemed by exercises or favours shewed to Boyes of extraordinarie merite, who had the honor (by the Monitor monitorum) manie times to begge and prevaile for such remissions.9

Elsewhere I argued that the affective dimensions of this scene—being judged by “feare or confidence in their looks”—reveal the internally fractured conditions of schoolboy subjectivity: such regular disciplinary performances might unleash a theatrical form of “internal audition” in which an inter-personal scene of judgement is taken inside as an intra-personal relationship with one’s own inner monitor.10 But with respect to the next step of a legal education, this repetitive practice of staged weekly “trials” is equally remarkable. The “favor” of making a plea is a reward for boys “of extraordinary merit”: social and scholastic success required a student to register public “complaints” and “accusations” against his peers, then to pivot quickly to “beg and prevail” in defence of the accused. The schoolmaster’s juridico-theatrical staging of complaint and judgement—the memory of pleas advanced and of punishment thereby meted out or avoided—ensured that a strong affective alliance between drama and the law would likely emerge in the later work of former schoolboys. Small wonder London’s playwrights were fond of writing plays that revolve around staged trial scenes and that law students made drama central to their collective social lives at the Inns. Most important for my purposes: small wonder that both were wrote classicizing epyllia revolving around such forensic language games as the plea (erotic suasoria), the accusation, arguments pro- and con-, and the complaint. As I see it, Tudor epyllia reveal habits of mind inflected by two school lessons in particular that have not yet been sufficiently assessed together despite the evident power of their interaction: first, the ability to make a convincing case on either side of a question (in utramque partem arguments, or in Aphthonius,



legislatio); second, the ability to impersonate the voices of legendary and mythological characters (prosopopoeia). Taken together, legislatio and prosopopoeia foster the ability to entertain hypothetical positions in the voice of someone else—or in other words, to conduct debates and thought experiments by adopting affectively charged impersonations such as the complaint. On the literary side, scholars have long understood how much school training in legislatio shaped the moral complexity of Tudor drama.11 But the connection between proto-legal exercises and the period’s memorable depictions of character has only recently begun to receive sustained analysis. Here I want to expand recent work on character and probability in ancient rhetorical theory and England’s participatory legal system12 and on homo-social bonding at the Inns13 by adopting a trans-institutional perspective on the rhetorical habitus that carried over from grammar schools to the Inns of Court. One of the most important practices to shape this habitus was that of impersonation. In Shakespeare’s Schoolroom I argued that among the most influential—yet unpredictable—of the school’s characteristic language games was that of asking boys to memorize, and also to invent, a variety of personae. Across the curriculum in numerous exercises, humanist masters made prosopopoeia—the Roman practice of giving a voice to historical and legendary characters—central to training in grammar and rhetoric. Young Latin scholars were required to adopt a series of personae over the course of their education: from vulgaria, which offered a series of first-person sentences for translation, to more advanced lessons in letter writing (Erasmus) and in memorizing and inventing dialogues (Corderius), Latin schoolboys were required to imitate the voices of others in ways that set the groundwork for a range of literary genres. School theatricals, which school bylaws required at least once a week, ensured boys learned how to play both male and female parts. Finally, Aphthonius’s Progymnasmata instilled a lesson in “ethopoeia” (or “character-making”) by asking boys to memorize and then invent speeches according to the following formula: “what x would say on y occasion.” They learned that the art of depicting passionate character (ethos passiva) requires an orator to invent a speech that “follows the motions of the mind exactly” (quae prorsus animi significant motum). And the first passionate lament offered for schoolboy imitation was “the words Niobe would say over the bodies of her children”; and later, “the words Hecuba would say at the fall of Troy.”14 Both these passionate laments are distinctly Ovidian: in place of his third-person



description of metamorphosis, each woman ends with a “turn to the future” (a futuro) by predicting in her own voice her immanent transformation. Niobe concludes that the only “remedy” for her misery would be to be turned into a rock without life or sense—although “even though my form will be changed, I will never cease weeping” (quamvis mutata, inter lachrymas agree non cessem). Hecuba ends by predicting that “the gods will change me to a dog,” and though “I have no human voice,” nonetheless “I will never stop my complaint with constant barking” (tamen ego quod humana voce non potero, id latratibus assiduis deplorare non sum cessatura). To this cast of passionate Ovidian, female plainants, Shakespeare adds Venus and Lucrece; Lodge adds Scilla; Heywood, Oenone; Beaumont, Salmacis. The association between Ovid’s female voices is more than a matter of literary influence; the school insured that Aphthonius’s first-person revision of Niobe’s lament was engrained in a lesson about how to capture “the motions of the mind exactly.” When Richard Rainoldes translated Aphthonius as The Foundation of Rhetoric, the only speech he rendered into English was Niobe’s, which he calls “a pitiable oration.” In addition, George Sabinus’s school text of the Metamorphoses glosses Niobe’s transformation into a weeping stone as an epitaph, a monument, to her misery and calls it a memorial site demanding “perpetual commiseration.” The porous dissolution of plainant into the surrounding terrain in Niobe’s story, captured in Sarah Ross’s analysis of Milton’s Comus and Hester Pulter’s echoes, ensured that a complaint’s situation of address often summons a metamorphic fantasy that erases the difference between speaker and responsive landscape. On the legal side, perhaps it isn’t surprising that little attention is paid to habits of impersonation or personification. But at least one Tudor legal manuscript outlines a theory of property during the succession crisis by staging it as a dialogue between fictional speakers.15 In addition, young law students were required to entertain hypothetical legal positions in “moots”—public forensic exercises that re-enact the scene of public performance and judgement described at Westminster. Like that school event every Friday, moots were proto-dramatic occasions in which a blend of argumentation and role-playing were required. Grammar schools trained students to practice writing and speaking as if in someone else’s voice: this early habit of speculating about virtual scenarios and a character’s likely reaction to them (what x would say on y occasion) would later benefit law students who were called upon to invent and weigh propositions,



hypotheses, and probable evidence in public. In other words, by the time a Tudor gentleman was ready to study law or write for the stage (or both), the ability to invent, assess, and argue hypothetical propositions was intimately tied to his ability not only to assess the probability of what a character might or might not do, but to impersonate internal debates about what to do and how to feel. Thanks to Lorich’s popular expansion of Aphthonius (it went through 150 editions in as many years), several of these memorable personae were Ovidian women with significant grievances to air. Lodge sets his epyllion on the banks of the Isis in Oxford as a conversation between two male characters; but when Scilla appears, the all-male environment of Tudor education fades for a while. For a dozen stanzas, it is Scilla’s pain that preoccupies the narrator; her “piteous” lament takes over the plot and the landscape. Imitating Ovid’s Ariadne from the Heroides—another common school text—Lodge concludes with an echoing chorus of female complaint. When Scilla runs along the shoreline crying out for Glaucus, “all the Nymphs afflict the air with noise” (100.6). And the narrator’s grief, too, seems to “melt” into Scylla’s: “Rue me that writes, for why her ruth deserves it” (109.5). Scilla’s woe, drawing on the echoing landscape from Ariadne’s lament, acquires the kind of affective, animating force (vis) that any rhetorician might envy: “For every sigh, the Rocks return a sigh/Woods, and waves, and rocks, and hills admire/The wonderous force of her untam’d desire.” From such echoes, such transfers of affect between speaker and audience, yet further passions emerge: an allegorical parade worthy of Spenser—“Furie and Rage, Wan-hope, Dispaire, and Woe”—“assail” Scilla, leading her towards impending metamorphosis. At times uniting subjects and at others exceeding them, the passionate “female” noise in Lodge’s epyllion underscores the narrator’s self-representation as an effective poet because he is able to capture and transmit lamentation. That is the narrator, too, behaves like Ariadne—but in his case, he imagines that his own written verses, rather than rocks on the seashore, become animate and responsive to the grief that connects him to both Glaucus and Scilla. Turning aside to his Muse, the narrator requests: Yield me such feeling words, that whilst I write, My working lines may fill mine eyes with languish, And they to note my moans may melt with anguish. (73.4–6)



This moment of authorial self-promotion blurs—or in Lodge’s figure, “melts”—the distinctions necessary to the schools’ categories of gendered identity.16 Apparently Shakespeare was struck by Lodge’s imitation of Ariadne and her echoing rocks. Adonis leaves Venus in the woods, but the narrator’s simile removes the goddess to the water’s edge: “after him she darts, as one on shore/Gazing upon a late embarked friend” (818). All that Venus hears, like Ariadne and Scilla before her, is the sound of her own echo: And now she beats her heart, whereat it groans, That all the neighbor caves, as seeming troubled, Make verbal repetition of her moans; Passion on passion deeply is redoubled: “Ay me!” she cries, and twenty times, “Woe, woe!” And twenty echoes twenty times cry so. (829–34)

Ariadne’s evident appeal to these minor epic poets asks us to consider the political as well as literary charms of uselessness. In the apt words of Alessandro Barchiesi, in the Heroides “the narrative autonomy of the letter is curiously interwoven with its pragmatic impotence.”17 Writers of epyllia were trained in imitatio on the promise that they would acquire learning and eloquence that would be socially and politically useful. And those who became students at the Inns were relying on the presumption that their rhetorical skill would have real effects in the world. And so when epyllia evade the Aeneid’s affinity with humanist educational goals and turn, instead, to Ariadne’s lament, they call upon a scene of “pragmatic impotence” that, to the extent that their imitations are affectively charged and poetically successful, question the humanist claim for the utility of classical eloquence. In these scenes of “female” complaint, minor epic writers interrogate the civic end-game, and corollary definition of masculinity, on which contemporary pedagogy was based. At the same time, they gesture towards a kind of poetics that can bear witness to the mercurial movement of complaint across parties, imagining communities joined by echoing sounds of pain. As this book makes us vividly aware, these “skill-contending” schools were not open to women. But the skills they taught nonetheless unleashed imagined minor epic worlds in which the grievances of female characters play a crucial role in modes of invention as well as in social and/or institutional critique. What I therefore find notable across these essays is that



despite the different texts, networks, and communities available to women writers, several were as engaged in vocal cross-dressing as their male counterparts: Katherine Parr “inhabits” the Davidic “I” from the Psalms when ventriloquizing Henry; Mary Rowlandson draws on Job’s suffering; Isabella Whitney adopts the anguished Ovidian voice of a poet in exile. And in Danielle Clarke’s reading of Adam’s lament in Paradise Lost Book 10, Milton repurposes the “easily identifiable conventions of female-­ voiced complaint” to ensure Adam’s “subjection to the authority of God.” By expanding our view of complaint as a mode adopted by female authors, this collection does not reify identity categories. Rather, it allows us to understand how much more widespread, and affectively compelling, the practice of cross-voicing was to readers and writers in early modern England. The emphasis on affective communities and multiple textual traditions in these essays led me to look back on the networks of interaction that shaped the experiences of Tudor schoolboys and law students. It would be useful to know more just how far the habits of early modern pedagogy seeped into life outside the schools, especially given the vivid presence of Ovidian material in the hands of several of the female authors studied here. But more important, because this book shifts attention to female-authored complaints, it opens up new avenues for scholarly engagement if we are ready to think across a far greater range of textual traditions, institutions, modes of transmission, and communities than has been the case until now. The emotion scripts afforded early modern writers and analysed here draw on Biblical lamentation as much as Ovidian complaint; medieval lyrics and ballads as well as ephemeral broadsides; pastoral laments of all kinds; Petrarch and Petrarchism. In addition, the diverse topics and forms of judicial complaint remained a crucial point of reference across medieval and renaissance texts. Let me end by returning to the communal nature of complaint implicit in the word’s etymology, to the “mobilization of community” the editors describe in their introduction as a “constant” in these texts: as a mode, complaint offers affectively compelling subjectivity effects in ways that engage intra- as well as inter-personal exchanges. These texts mobilize feeling in the rhetorical mise-en-sce`ne I’ve come to call “scenes of address”—scenes that invite us to ask, who is the speaker here? To whom is s/he appealing? Who is the ideal recipient for this message? Does the message reach its destination? And if not, to what effect? Complaints connect what is apparently the most private of spaces—a subject speaking to



(or trying to persuade) herself—to a public engagement with others, both past and future, imagined to be enmeshed a similar predicament. And in most cases, one scene of address blends, or melts, into the other. Drawing on received emotion scripts to articulate “the emotions of the mind exactly,” as Aphthonius has it, complaints turn the habit of alterity at the heart of prosopopoeia into appeals that have designs on larger communities—entering the literary market-place in ways that blend early modern commercial and rhetorical culture precisely by deploying affect to move the sympathy, and perhaps action, of others.

Notes 1. See Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe, and Mary Floyd-Wilson, eds., Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 10. 2. For the way in which Ovid “offloads covert critiques” of militarism “onto women,” see Megan O. Drinkwater, “Militia Amoris: Fighting in Love’s Army,” in The Cambridge Companion to Latin Love Elegy, ed. Thea S. Thorsen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 194. 3. Cora Fox, Ovid and the Politics of Emotion in Elizabethan England (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009), 19; and Catherine Bates, “Abject Authorship: A Portrait of the Artists in Ovid and his Renaissance Imitators,” in Ovid and Masculine Authorship in English Renaissance Literature, ed. Goran Stanivukovic and John S. Garrison (forthcoming). 4. For a wider account, see my “On Schoolmen’s Cunning Notes,” in Elizabethan Minor Epics: The State of Play, ed. Lynn Enterline (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 1–17. 5. All quotations from The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis are from The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G.  Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 1974). 6. See my The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), chapter 4. 7. All quotations from non-Shakespearean epyllia are from Elizabethan Minor Epics, ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (New York: Columbia, 1963). 8. For further discussion, see Georgia Brown, Redefining Elizabethan Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); the essays in Elizabethan Narrative Poems: The State of Play, ed. Lynn Enterline (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2019); and Judith Haber, Desire and Dramatic Form in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), chapter 3.



9. John Sergeaunt, Annals of the Westminster School (London: Methuen, 1898), 279–82. 10. See my Shakespeare’s Schoolroom: Rhetoric, Discipline, Emotion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), where I develop Harry Berger’s argument about self-audition in a classroom context. See Berger, Imaginary Audition: Shakespeare on Stage and Page (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). 11. See Joel Altman, The Tudor Play of Mind: Rhetorical Inquiry and the Development of Elizabethan Drama (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978); Emrys Jones, The Origins of Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977); and Neil Rhodes, “The Controversial Plot: Declamation and the Concept of ‘the Problem Play’,” The Modern Language Review 95, no. 3 (July 2000): 609–22. 12. See Lorna Hutson, The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 13. See Jim Ellis, Sexuality and Citizenship: Metamorphosis in Elizabethan Erotic Verse (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003); Laurie Shannon, “Minerva’s Men: Horizontal Nationhood and the Literary Production of Googe, Turberville, and Gascoigne,” in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 455–71; and Jessica Winston, Lawyers at Play: Literature, Law, and Politics at the Early Modern Inns of Court, 1558–81 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). 14. Aphthonius. Aphthonii Sophistae Progymnasmata …. Scholiis Reinhardi Lorichii Hamarii (London: Thomas Orwin, 1596), 186 and 197. 15. See Christopher Brooks, Lawyers, Litigation and English Society Since 1450 (London: Bloomsbury, 2003), 169–75. 16. These two paragraphs are drawn from my “Elizabethan Minor Epics,” in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, vol. 2: 1558–1660, ed. Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 253–72. 17. See Alessandro Barchiesi, Speaking Volumes: Narrative and Intertext in Ovid and Other Latin Poets (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 2001), 30.


Primary Sources Manuscripts Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT Osborn MS b. 233 Osborn MS b. 226 Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK MS Ashmole 51 MS Eng. poet. c. 50 MS Rawl. poet. 16 MS Rawl. poet. 26 MS Rawl. poet. 152 British Library, London, UK Add. MS 29492 Egerton MS 923 Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC MS V. a. 104 MS V. b. 198 Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California MS HM 904 National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK MS 906

© The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1




University of Leeds Library Brotherton Collection, MS Lt. q. 32

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A Adam, 17, 157–177, 325 See also Eve Affect, 6, 11, 19, 30, 32, 39–42, 49, 57, 119, 123, 127, 131, 160, 172, 183–188, 193, 250, 260, 315, 320–321, 323–326 See also Anger; Desire; Despair; Grief; Melancholy; Sympathy; Emotion scripts Affliction, 33, 161, 252, 255, 296, 323 Agency divine, 36, 43, 48 female, 122, 140, 144, 162–164, 251 female agents, 292–293, 300–303 (see also Authorship) rhetorical or poetic, 260 Ahmed, Sara, 123, 126, 131 America, see New England; Politics, in colonial America

Anger, 42, 48–51, 70, 74, 226, 234 Anne [Anna of Denmark], Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 143, 147 Askew, Anne, 30, 32, 53 Augustus (Caesar), 92–94, 102–107, 210 Authorship, 90, 172, 185, 196, 250, 253 anonymity and attribution, 20, 21, 269–287, 302 compilation, 8, 274, 277–287, 292–293 pseudonymity, 274 transcription, 276, 279, 285, 292, 299–303 B Baron, Anne, 95, 103 Barthes, Roland, 247 Bartolovich, Crystal, 96

 Note: Page numbers followed by ‘n’ refer to notes.


© The Author(s) 2020 S. C. E. Ross, R. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Women’s Complaint, Early Modern Literature in History, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42946-1




Bates, Catherine, 316 Beaton, David, 72 Beaumont, Francis, 319, 322 Behn, Aphra, 3, 6, 194, 249–251 “A Paraphrase on Oenone to Paris,” 18, 205–219, 269–287 (see also Complaint, Ovidian) Poems upon Several Occasions, 206, 219 Bennett, Alexandra, 139 Berlant, Lauren, 11, 19, 250 Berry, Thomas, 97–99 Beza, Theodore de, 234 Bhabha, Homi, 231 Bible, 70, 167, 184, 316 biblical paraphrase, 8, 48–49, 165, 241, 295, 302–305 Book of Job, 8, 9, 18, 40, 225–241, 293, 325 Christ, 9, 14, 34, 35, 42, 49, 53, 58–62, 94, 162–165, 168, 239, 275–278, 281 Daniel, 236 Deuteronomy, 18, 228–231, 233–238 Exodus, 237 Genesis, 164, 166, 167, 174–177 (see also Adam, Eve) Hezekiah, 32, 39, 42 Isaiah, 30, 31, 36, 39, 42, 232, 293 Jeremiah, 8, 9, 30, 35, 75, 293 Lamentations, 8, 9, 13, 293 Lot’s wife, 232, 233, 235 Mary Magdalen, 9, 10 Miles Coverdale’s Great Bible, 50 Moses, 38, 228–230, 236, 237 Psalms, 8, 13, 19, 33, 36, 37, 40–43, 48–53, 55, 70, 76, 228, 236, 293, 304–306, 325; Davidic “I,” 48, 50, 52, 53, 304, 325 Queen Esther, 8 Song of Songs, 8 Bibliography, 20, 292, 305–309 Boccaccio, 72

Boda, Mark, 37 Bodin, Jean, 122 Boothby, Frances, 250 Bowyer, Lady Ann, 161 Bradstreet, Anne, 250 Brandon, Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk, 32, 56 Breton, Nicholas, 8 Broadside poetry, 9, 14, 67–83, 293, 307, 325 Brueggemann, Walter, 36, 37 Buchanan, George, 80 C Calvin, John, 8, 37–42, 229–231, 236–238 Campion, Thomas, 8 Career criticism, 89–107 See also Cursus litterarum Cary, Elizabeth, Viscountess Falkland, 7, 15 The Tragedy of Mariam, 117–132, 298, 303 Catherine of Braganza, 250–252 Catherine [Catherine of Braganza], Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 251, 252 Cavendish (later Cheyne), Lady Jane, 250, 284–286 Cavendish, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, 250, 271 Cecil, William, Lord Burghley, 56, 60, 61, 80 Charles II, 19, 208–210, 239, 251 See also Politics, Restoration Charron, Pierre, 122 Cheney, Patrick, 90–92, 100 Church calendar, 13, 47–63 processions, 51, 52 Rogation day, 47–63 Churchyard, Thomas, 91–93, 101 Clarke, Danielle, 3, 6, 8, 139, 184–187


Clarke, Elizabeth, 8 Commonplace book, 2, 159–162, 165 Community, 11, 12, 14, 30, 73, 101, 132, 159, 187, 192–194, 198, 236, 271, 316–320, 324–326 Christian, 14, 34, 42, 43, 51, 53, 164, 304 female, 11, 164 Complaint critical history of, 3, 158, 184, 206, 247–260 definition of, 3, 4, 15, 138, 157–161, 183–186, 226, 247–249, 291–295, 315 and embodiment, 17, 169, 176, 190, 254, 256, 259 etymology of, 315, 325 exemplarity of, 10, 12, 39, 185–186 as exercise, 58, 249, 317 imagery of, 32, 38, 41, 42, 57, 82–83, 160, 161, 165, 196, 215 informing traditions and sources; biblical, 8, 157–177, 225–241, 293; classical, 5, 6, 89–107, 169, 205–219; contemporary, 11, 70, 162–166, 184, 249, 250, 317; medieval, 9, 10, 30, 31, 69–70, 78, 82, 325 language of; legal, 16, 62, 166, 171, 293, 299, 318–323; vernacular, 7, 14, 73, 215, 248 modes of; against the times, 5, 14, 30, 31, 71, 139, 294–295; amatory, 2, 3, 8, 91–101, 106, 293–295 (see also Ovidian); courtly, 11, 19, 137–139, 141, 247–260; exile, 15, 89–107, 161; existential, 12, 294–295; Heroidean, 15, 18, 69–70, 89–107, 294 (see also Complaint, Ovidian); instructive, 13, 30, 31, 37, 39, 43; juridical, 294, 318, 325;


Ovidian (see Ovid and complaint, modes of, Heroidean); pastoral, 10, 16, 17, 137–140, 183–198, 252, 255, 258, 291; petitionary, 8, 18, 19, 30, 33, 36, 37, 40, 42, 49, 54, 63, 165, 171, 236; political, 14, 137–151, 219, 283, 286, 294 purpose of; lament (see Lament); protest, 3–5, 14, 30, 33, 68, 70, 146, 226, 234–235, 238–241, 308 religious, 47–63, 70, 296–297; devotional, 52–54, 57, 290–292; penitential, 36–37, 39–40, 42–43, 229–230, 232–234, 238; prophetic, 13, 18, 30–36, 42, 63, 235–236; religio-­political, 14, 29–31, 225–241 setting of, 184, 296–297; landscape of discontent, 16, 140; rivers, 189–195, 214, 231–233, 295, 299, 319; wilderness, 227–234 strategies of; allegory, 15, 50, 67, 73, 254, 323; deus ex machina, 141, 254; dream vision, 73, 76, 253; ekphrasis, 247, 252 as template, 3, 5, 9 and time, 130, 142–144, 165 and tone, 4, 14, 19, 40, 67–69 tropes of, 9; abandonment, 5, 169, 184, 294; female stereotypes, 132, 160; medicinal, 32, 38, 42, 294, 296, 304; nymphs, 17, 183–198; theological, 36 (see also Echo) and will, 15, 117 Complaint marker, 17, 19, 162, 170, 176, 184, 188, 292–293, 308 See also Complaint, tropes of Consolation, 60, 74, 129, 248, 279



Constancy and inconstancy, 118–120, 142, 146, 147, 213–216, 257 See also Stoicism Containment, 83, 119, 123, 248, 274 Cooper, Thomas, 91–94 Corderius, 321 Court, 7, 11, 19, 29–35, 41, 47, 53, 71, 72, 79, 83, 137–139, 143–145, 161, 209, 215, 250–255, 275, 285 See also Complaint, modes of, courtly Courtier, 11, 47, 79, 83, 143–145, 209, 250–255 Court masque, 139, 260 Craik, Katharine, 6 Cranfield, Lionel, 239 Cranmer, Archbishop Thomas Homilies, 57, 58, 62 Litany, 52, 54 Crawford, Julie, 127, 146, 149 Cunningham, Lady Margaret, 34, 35, 41 Cursus litterarum, 89–107 See also Career criticism D Daniel, Samuel, 3, 249 Complaint of Rosamond, 5, 10, 162, 184 Delia, 10 de Vere, Edward, Earl of Oxford, 277 Denham, Sir John, 194 Dering, Sir Edward, 41, 138 Desire, 9, 15, 36, 41, 49, 50, 60–61, 72, 82, 107, 120, 122–126, 139–141, 143–144, 166, 170–172, 175, 193, 248–250, 258, 323 Despair, 37–40, 49, 62, 70, 144, 174–177, 184, 256–257, 296 Devotion, 2, 8, 9, 12, 52–54, 57, 61, 70, 291–293

Dialogue, 11, 17, 79, 170, 186, 187, 189, 190, 193–195, 227, 252, 256, 279, 284, 295, 321–323 Digital humanities, 20, 21 attribution, 269–287, 293, 302 database, 269–287, 291–309 first-and last-line index, 279–281, 292, 293, 307–309 Database of Early English Playbooks, 307 English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), 307 Lost Plays Database, 307 metadata, 269–274, 287, 292, 295, 299–300 Perdita Database, 307 quantitative analysis, 269–287 RECIRC, 269–287 TEI encoding, 269–271, 274, 286 See also Taxonomies Donne, John, 9, 275 Dowland, John, 8 Drama, 5, 8, 138, 187–190, 207, 211–212, 225, 248, 253, 258, 285, 299, 305, 318, 320–323 closet, 117–132 pastoral, 117–132 Drayton, Michael, 3 England’s Heroicall Epistles, 162, 170, 184 Matilda, 162 Poly-Olbion, 192 Drucker, Johanna, 21 Dryden, John, 251 Ovid’s Epistles, 18, 205–219 (see also Translation) royalism of, 210, 216 Troilus and Cressida, 207, 210–211 Du Bartas, Guillaume de Saluste Divine Weeks and Works (Semaines), 8, 157–165, 172



Dudley (née Russell), Anne, Countess of Warwick, 34 Dunbar, William, 70–73

Exhortation, 14, 31, 47, 67, 69, 72, 74–78 Ezell, Margaret, 252

E Echo, 11, 17, 41, 79, 142, 170, 173, 183–198, 228, 247–249, 257–258, 283, 296, 318, 322–324 See also Complaint; Ovidian Education, 6–8, 185, 208, 250–252, 316–324 See also Grammar schools; Inns of Court Edward VI, 29, 31, 47, 62 Injunctions, 57 Egerton (née Cavendish), Elizabeth, Countess of Bridgewater, 250 Egerton, Lady Alice, 7 authorship, 284–286 (see also Cavendish (later Cheyne), Lady Jane) and Comus, 187, 285 Egerton (née Fyge), Sarah, 250 Elegy, 4, 70, 92, 104–107, 164, 169, 173–177, 194–196, 208, 248–253, 279, 293 Eliot, John, 227, 238, 240 Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland, 7, 13, 31, 33, 41, 80, 144, 187 and authorship debates, 275–277 Emotion scripts, 6, 7, 316, 325–326 See also Affect Enterline, Lynn, 6, 185, 249 Epyllia, 165, 315–326 Erasmus, 321 Etheridge, George, 195 Eve, 14, 52 guilt, 160, 169–173, 175 status within querelle des femmes, 16, 159, 163, 176

F Fall, the, 17, 69, 157–177 Feilding, Frances (Dorothy), 12, 19 “Upon My Lady Desmond’s Reproaching Of Me Wrongfully,” 2 Findlay, Alison, 140 Fisher, John, Bishop of Rochester, 48–55 Psalmi seu Precationes, 48 Flanders, Julia, 308 Form, 4–21, 30, 36, 37, 48, 54, 58, 67, 68, 70, 71, 97–98, 101, 102, 119, 125–126, 129, 138, 164, 165, 170, 176, 183–187, 193–195, 208, 230, 235, 240, 247–253, 258, 277, 280, 291–292, 294, 295, 315, 316, 318, 322, 325 Fowler, Alistair, 4, 7 Fowler (née Aston), Constance, 291, 292, 300 Freinkel, Lisa, 15, 123 Fulkerson, Laure, 185 G Gender, 9, 17, 20, 21, 82, 90, 106–107, 118, 157–177, 190, 211, 239–241, 248–251, 254, 257, 269–287, 292–294, 303 binaries, 9, 158, 271, 278 boundaries, 52–53 fluidity, 269–272, 285, 316, 321–323 mobility, 258–260 subjectivity, 170 Gleed, Paul, 98



Grammar schools, 6, 7, 249, 293, 316–323 Gregerson, Linda, 90 Grief, 2, 4, 5, 8, 16, 37, 40, 57–58, 74, 75, 78, 100, 107, 117–120, 142–143, 150, 175, 191–197, 257, 297, 315, 318, 323 See also Affect Grievance, 29, 35, 73, 119, 186, 193, 194, 198, 234, 248, 293–294, 318, 323, 324 Grymeston, Elizabeth, 161 H Hamlin, Hannibal, 52 Hardie, Philip, 89, 90, 99 Heale, Elizabeth, 95 Helgerson, Richard, 89 Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland I, 13, 14, 30, 48, 52–53, 56, 73 King’s Book, 57–60 ordering liturgical time, 51 Henryson, Robert, 70, 71 Herbert, George, 5, 9 “Complaining,” 5 Herbert, Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, 7, 53, 162, 302 Psalmes, 305 The Tragedie of Antonie, 298, 303 Herbert, William, Earl of Pembroke, 143, 147–150 Hollander, John, 187, 197 Honig, Bonnie, 131 Honour, 34, 99, 120, 127, 129, 149, 320 Houwen, Robert, 73 Howard, Edward, 211 Howard, Henry, Earl of Surrey, 60 “Complaint of the Absence of her Louer Being Vpon the Sea,” 186

Howe, Susan, 230 Hume, Anna, 250 Hutchinson (née Apsley), Lucy, 302 Order and Disorder, 16, 157–164, 169–177 I Ideology, 106, 118, 169, 237–238, 253, 260, 271 Ingleheart, Jennifer, 93 Inns of Court, 7, 316–321 Intertextuality, 89–91, 106, 158, 173, 226, 253, 254 Isham, Elizabeth, 161 J James II, 210, 251 James V, 72 James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, 69, 83, 283 See also Politics, Scottish Jones, Ann Rosalind, 103 Jones, Richard, 95–99 Jonson, Ben, 90 K Kahn, Victoria, 234 Kerrigan, John, 2, 184, 185, 189, 205, 215, 226, 240, 248, 256 Kilgour, Maggie, 170 Killigrew, Anne, 7, 18, 19, 197, 247–260 “The Complaint of a Lover,” 252, 256–258 “The Miseries of Man,” 252, 258–259 “Upon the saying that my Verses were made by another,” 251–254 Killigrew, Henry, 249–253


Killigrew, Thomas, 251 King’oo, Claire Costley, 13, 50 King Philip, see Metacom Knox, John, 12, 29, 34, 37, 38, 41, 42 L Lamb, Jonathan P., 306 Lament, 8, 10, 13, 17, 36–38, 43, 47–63, 67, 69–71, 74, 76, 78, 80, 81, 93, 104, 105, 117–120, 123, 128–129, 143, 167–177, 186, 193–195, 197, 213, 226–228, 232–234, 240, 279, 293–294, 315–326 Lanyer (née Bassano), Aemilia, 7, 16, 250 Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, “Eve’s Apologie,” 16, 157–168, 171, 176 La Primaudaye, Pierre de, 122–123 Latin, 4, 48, 51, 91–94, 208, 212–213, 215, 229, 249–251, 280, 308, 315, 319–323 Lawes, Henry, 7, 187–189, 284 Lekpreuik, Robert, 68, 69 Leslie, John, 82 Lipking, Lawrence, 89 Lock (née Prowse), Anne, 7, 12, 18, 29–43, 53, 60, 303 “A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner,” 36, 39, 304 Of the Markes of the Children of God, 33 Lodge, Thomas, 3, 8, 319–320, 323–324 Scillaes Metamorphosis, 319, 323–326 Love, 15, 16, 58, 59, 93–94, 120, 121, 123, 128–130, 160, 170, 175, 176, 185–189, 208–211, 294 devotional, 2, 8, 9, 59–61


secular, 3, 70, 94, 97, 100, 101, 137–151, 183–184, 193–195, 197, 214–219, 247, 251–258, 285, 319 Lukic, Averill, 94 Luther, Martin, 30 Lyndsay, David, 70, 72, 73, 79 Lyne, Raphael, 98–100 M MacDonald, Alasdair, 70 MacKay, Barbara, Lady Reay, 8 Mainwaring, George, 97 Manuscript, 3, 8, 11, 16, 67, 69, 70, 79–80, 175, 291, 292, 299, 305, 322 circulation of, 11, 138, 207, 252, 302–303 compilation of, 8, 138, 252 miscellanies, 269–287 Marlowe, Christopher, 89–92 Hero and Leander, 165, 319 Marriage, 56, 73, 78, 95, 97, 103, 125, 138, 141, 145, 168, 176, 210, 251, 277–278 Mary I, Queen of England and Ireland, 29 Mary [Mary Stuart/Stewart], Queen of Scots, 67–83, 247–250 Mary of Modena, 250–252 Material text, 9, 16, 20, 21, 215, 269–287, 299 colophon, 55, 56 paratext, 99, 208–211, 229 Mather, Increase, 238, 239 McGrath, Lynette, 103–105 Melancholy, 197, 229, 275, 277, 296 See also Despair; Grief Melville, Elizabeth, Lady Culross, 250 Melville, James (Church of Scotland minister), 9



Melville, Sir James, of Halhill, 80, 83 Metacom, 18, 225–227, 237 See also Politics, in colonial America Milton, John, 7, 90 A Masque Performed at Ludlow Castle [Comus], 17, 183–192, 197, 285, 322 Paradise Lost, 17, 157–161, 166–177, 325 Mirror for Magistrates, 72, 159 Monarchy, 13, 47, 51, 52, 122, 127, 210, 215–217 Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 206 Moore, Helen, 89, 90, 99 Morality, 15, 32, 36, 47, 68, 69, 71, 72, 117, 121, 123, 129–130, 157–167, 210, 211, 235, 293, 321 Morley, Thomas, 8 Mueller, Janel, 50, 54, 275 N Narrative, 2, 9, 12, 18, 36, 77, 79, 83, 106, 137–139, 145–146, 157–164, 166–169, 174–177, 248, 259, 303, 318, 324 captivity, 18, 225–241 conversion, 60–61 critical, 186, 189 New England, 18 praying towns, 225–241 Niobe, 6, 195–197, 322 See also Ovid O Oakley-Brown, Liz, 106 O’Callaghan, Michelle, 69, 248, 278 O’Gorman, Ellen, 107 Oliensis, Ellen, 105

Ovid, 1–21, 40, 52, 157–164, 174–177, 184, 248–249, 252, 323 Amores, 92–94 Ars Amatoria, 91–101, 208 early modern translations of, 18, 91–93, 101, 205–219 Fasti, 94 Heroides, 3, 5, 14, 15, 69–71, 89–107, 170, 194, 208–213, 293, 316, 323 (see also Complaint, Heroidean) Ibis, 91–94, 101 Metamorphoses, 5, 94, 184–186, 189, 316, 319, 321–322 Tristia, 15, 89–107 (see also Complaint, exile) P Parr, Katherine, Queen of England and Ireland, 7, 47–63, 325 Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner, 13, 47, 48, 56–58, 60, 62 Psalms or Prayers, 13, 47–56, 60, 62–63 Parr, William, 56 Passions, see Affect Patriarchy, 34, 106, 123, 132, 160, 168, 169, 173, 177, 283 Petrarch, Petrarchism, 10, 248, 293, 325 See also Sonnet; Wroth, Lady Mary Philips (née Fowler), Katherine, 19, 250, 252, 300 Phillippy, Patricia, 98, 195 Plat, Hugh, 98 Pliny, 82 Politics, 7, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 29–31, 35, 89, 106, 118, 121, 126, 130, 137–151, 162–166, 172, 184,


187, 197–198, 248, 250, 283, 284, 286–287, 294, 316–318, 324 in colonial America, 225–241; the Halfway covenant, 238; King Philip’s War, 225–228 early modern political subject, 118–132; and freedom, 121–129 English Civil War, 191–192, 241, 294 Henrician, 13, 47–63; Edwardian parliament, 56–57 Restoration, 17, 18, 208–211, 253; Exclusion Crisis, 206, 209; Popish Plot, 206; and sexuality, 208–211 Scottish, 67–83; period of “Rough Wooing,” 73; propaganda, 67, 68, 73, 75, 78–80, 83 and sexuality, 18 writers of (see Dryden, John; Behn, Aphra) Praise, 4, 36, 43, 49, 54, 55, 60, 253 Prayer, 13, 29, 37, 40, 47, 48, 50–54, 56, 60–62, 71, 76, 126, 226, 227, 237, 239–241, 293–294 Print culture and circulation, 11, 18, 31, 48, 51, 55, 61, 68, 90–91, 95–98, 101, 138, 206–207, 239–241, 252, 280, 284, 293, 305–306 Printer, James, 239 See also Politics, in colonial America Prosopopoeia, see Rhetorical techniques Protestant reformation, 30, 48, 56, 62, 67–83, 124, 147, 226, 229, 238, 239, 241 Psalms, see Bible, Psalms Pugh, Syrithe, 106


Pulter (née Ley), Lady Hester, 7, 187, 297, 322 pastoral complaints, 16, 190–198 “A Solitary Discourse,” 296–297 Puttenham, George, 4, 293–294 Q Quannapohit, James, 227 Queer studies, 11, 19, 249–251 R Race, 118, 271 in settler America, 225–241 Rainoldes, Richards, 322 Randolph, Edward, 239 Reason, 15, 117–118, 122–123, 127–131, 163, 164, 171–173, 252, 258–259 Redress, 48, 54, 58–62, 73, 81, 176, 198, 294, 299, 318 Resistance, 15, 16, 32, 41, 68, 147–149, 162, 185, 249, 319 political, 16, 118–122, 126, 130 Rhetoric, 2–5, 7, 12, 13, 15, 32, 34, 35, 39, 48, 54–56, 60–62, 76, 79–80, 83, 98, 102, 117, 121, 125, 128–129, 157–166, 169, 172, 185, 186, 188, 247–249, 258, 294, 297, 299, 326 Rhetorical techniques, 2, 12, 15, 32, 34, 35, 39, 48, 56, 60, 76, 79–80, 83, 98, 117, 125, 128–129, 159–162, 186, 188, 315–326 amplification, 55, 184, 234, 294 anaphora, 166 apostrophe, 9, 172, 186, 189, 197–198, 247, 253, 255, 258, 297, 299, 317–319 auxesis, 5



Rhetorical techniques (cont.) ethopoeia, 17, 159, 175, 321 imitatio, 6, 101, 157–161, 185, 207–209, 212, 218–219, 249, 318, 321–324 prosopopoeia, 6, 14, 19, 247, 256, 283, 293, 304, 315, 318, 321, 326 repetition, 119, 185, 193, 294, 296, 324 ventriloquy, 2, 9, 13, 52–53, 75, 95, 106, 248, 277–278, 293, 302–304, 316, 318, 325 Richards, Jennifer, 7 Ridgeway, Lady Cecily, Countess of Londonderry, 165 Rolt, Mary, 279 Romance, 16, 137–139, 145, 147–148, 158, 186, 296 See also Wroth, Lady Mary, Urania Ross, Sarah C. E., 69, 139, 165, 248, 285 Rowe (née Singer), Elizabeth, 50 Rowe, Katherine, 6, 316 Rowlandson, Mary, 7, 18, 19, 225–241, 325 and the Bible, 325 (see also Narrative, captivity) The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, 18, 225–241 Royal, 13, 47–63, 105 royalism, 34, 191, 210, 215–219, 250–253 sexuality, 210 ventriloquy, 52–53 S Sabinus, George, 322 Saltonstall, Wye, 212–215 Satire, 7, 14, 19, 67, 69, 71, 72, 75, 248–251, 293, 294

Scase, Wendy, 9, 10, 70, 294 Schleiner, Louise, 105 Schwarz, Kathryn, 122 Scotland, 9, 35, 67–83 allegorical depictions of, 67, 68, 73, 78, 79, 81, 82 Middle Scots writers, 70 Scripture, see Bible Sempill, Robert, 68–70, 72–81 Seneca, 98, 119–120, 129, 295, 299, 303 Sex, 71, 95, 107, 166–169, 173, 212, 249, 256, 287, 298, 317 and power, 54, 119, 127, 208–211, 219, 298 sexual critique, 252 sexuality, 18, 208, 209 sexual misconduct, 68, 78, 103–104, 174, 208–211, 287 sexual virtue, 146, 172, 210 Seymour, Edward, Duke of Somerset, 73 Shakespeare, William, 3, 7, 210, 249, 317–318, 321 A Lover’s Complaint, 17, 159, 183–184, 277 Rape of Lucrece, 7, 193, 317–319, 322 Titus Andronicus, 192 Venus and Adonis, 165, 319, 323–324 Sherburne, John, 212–218 Shortslef, Emily, 117, 198, 296 Sidney, Sir Philip, 4, 5, 127, 143, 145, 300 Sin, 13, 29, 30, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 48–51, 57, 59–61, 72, 162–166, 173, 231, 233, 256, 273, 297 See also Fall, the Skura, Meredith Anne, 95


Smith, Charlotte, 197 Smith, Helen, 293 Smith, Rosalind, 69–70, 83, 139, 146, 158, 173, 248 Solitude, 2, 97, 188–190, 194, 296, 316–317 Song, 8, 9, 11, 17, 49, 95, 140, 147, 184, 187–190, 194–197, 211, 280, 285, 295, 306 Sonnet, 10, 35–43, 149, 159, 184, 186, 190, 194, 248, 295 Soteriology, 58, 62 Southwell (née Harris), Anne, Lady Southwell, 7, 16, 157–169, 171, 176 Southwell, Robert, 8, 291 Saint Peter’s Complaint, 8, 165 Sovereignty, 15, 18, 39, 48, 54–56, 60, 146, 148–149, 225, 226 of the self, 15, 119 See also Politics, early modern political subject Speght, Rachel, 250 Spenser, Edmund, 3, 17, 90, 106, 184, 249, 252, 323 Complaints, 184 The Faerie Queene, 82 The Ruines of Time, 191–194 The Teares of the Muses, 184, 193 Stapleton, M.L., 95, 99, 106 Stewart, James, Earl of Moray, 74–77 Stoicism, 15, 117–121, 129, 132 Stover, Tim, 185 Straznicky, Marta, 139 Stuart, Henry, Lord Darnley, 74–76, 78, 79 Stump, Eleonore, 40 Subjectivity, 15, 101, 118, 170, 206, 217, 248–249, 270, 274, 298–299, 320, 325


Suffering, 13, 18, 19, 30, 33, 34, 36, 41, 47, 50, 54, 62, 67, 70, 74, 77, 82–83, 96, 100–102, 142–143, 175, 226, 232–241, 248, 260, 294, 296, 297, 325 See also Affliction Sutcliffe, Alice, 250 Sympathy, 11, 17, 74, 105, 127, 159, 187, 189, 192–197, 294, 317–318, 326 T Tasso, Torquato Aminta, 194 Taxonomies, 4, 5, 20, 21, 100, 207, 212, 270, 292, 293, 295, 307, 309 Tears, 2, 41, 119, 131, 170, 174, 184, 191, 194–197, 255, 258, 259, 295 See also Niobe Temporality, see Complaint, and time Thomas, Elizabeth, 250 Tonson, Jacob, 207, 208, 211 Tottel, Richard, 95 Translation, 3, 33, 36, 42, 91–92, 101, 159–162, 186, 229, 251, 280, 292, 300–302, 321–322 collaboration, 18, 205–210, 218 imitation and paraphrase, 48–50, 207–209, 212–213, 219 styles of, 49–50, 212–213, 219 theory of, 207 Trapnel, Anna, 241 Turberville, George, 212 Tyndale, John, 30 Tyrwhit (née Oxenbridge), Elizabeth, 53



U Udall, Nicholas, 53 Underdowne, Thomas, 92 V Vavasour, Anne, 275, 277–278 See also de Vere, Edward Ventriloquy, see Rhetorical techniques Virgil, 89–92, 94, 99, 106, 208 Voice, 2–7, 12, 14, 31, 32, 36, 43, 68, 70, 71, 74–76, 78–83, 97, 99–102, 106, 146, 148, 157–177, 183–198, 206, 212, 215, 247, 248, 253, 270, 272, 277, 281–287, 296, 302–305, 308, 315–318, 320–323, 325 and authenticity, 95, 163 biblical, 8, 12, 16, 31, 49, 157–177, 305; vocem precationis and vocem deprecationis, 49 of complainant, 31, 32, 188, 293, 294 performativity of, 9, 39, 40, 42, 43, 187–189, 305–306 possibility of, 6, 81, 186–189, 197 univocality and polyvocality, 159

W Wall, Wendy, 10, 98 Westermann, Claus, 36, 54 Wharton (née Lee), Anne, 250 Whitney, Isabella, 3, 6, 14, 15, 18, 90–92, 325 “Admonition,” 157–161 The Copy of a Letter, 14, 91, 95–101, 106, 296 A Sweet Nosgay, 91, 96–107 Wight, Sarah, 241 Wilcox, Helen, 102 Will in feminine subjects, 15, 117–132, 254 in theological debate, 57, 165 Wilmot, Elizabeth, Countess of Rochester, 250 Wiseman, Susan, 158, 164, 206 Woodcock, Matthew, 102, 105 Wroth (née Sidney), Lady Mary, 6, 10, 16, 191, 197, 250, 296, 297, 302 Love’s Victory, 137–151, 306 Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, 138, 150, 295 Urania, Part One, 159, 184, 186, 189, 194, 296, 303 Urania, Part Two, 137–151 Wroth, Sir Robert, 143