Find out more: Canterbury’s Aphra Behn (1640-1689): Literature’s best kept secret

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Aphra’s City: Case 1

Extract: A Petition by The Barbers of Canterbury against Bartholemew Johnson [c. 1643-1648]

To the right wor[shipfu]ll the Maior, Aldermen; and Com[m]on Counsell of the Citty of Canterbury now asmbled in Burghmote.

The humble Petic[i]on of the Barbers of the said Citty whose names are heereunto subscribed

 Shewing: That yo[u]r petic[i]o[ne]rs have se[verally?] served an Apprent[iceshi]ppe by the space of Seaven yeares to [the s]aid Trade; and are all Freemen of the said Cittie, and housekeepers; and pay all Taxes and Dueties according to their severall abillities:  And whereas by the Custome of the said Cittie, noe man ought to keepe any shoppe in this Citty unles hee be a Freeman thereof and noe man ought to excercize any Kinde of Handicrafte Trade unles hee have served first seaven yeares as an Apprentice according to the Statute in that behalfe/

 Yet notw[i]thstanding one Bartholomew Johnson whoe never served as an Apprentice in the said Trade nor yet being Free of this Citty, doth contrary to the said Statute, and in contempt of the Orders and custome of this Citty keepe a Barbers Shoppe in the said Cittie to the great wrong of yo[u]r Petic[ione]rs

Their humble Suite therefore is that yo[u]r wor[shi]pps would be pleased to take the p[re]miss[es] into considerac[i]on: and to suppresse the said Bartholomew Johnson from keeping Shoppe in the said Citty . And they shall pray &c /

John Lunn, Thomas W Morgain,   Richard White, Thomas Violett, his Marke, Thomas Stone Edmund Joyce, James Fowler

 

Extract from the Barbers Deed

Also we ordēn, that no man or forener, whatsoer he be,from hensforth, shall come into the seyd citie, w[ith] any pott,basen, knyf, or shavyng cloth, or any other thyng belongyng to the seyd crafte and mystery, to th’entent to shave or poll any man, or otherwyse to trym any berd, except he be free of the seyd crafte and mystery in the seyd cytie; uppon payne to forfyt, for ev’y tyme doyng the contr’y, 3s. 4d. Also we ordēn, that y[i]f any p’sone or p’sones, whatsoër he or they be, shall from hensforth washe or shave any berd, or polle any hed, or otherwyse trym any berd on the Sonday; except at fower Sondayes, in the tyme of harvest, whiche fower Sondayes shall be appoynted by the master and wardens of the seyd crafte and mystery of barbers and surgeons; and also except it be at tymes of necessete, for sum grete man, or for maister maier, or any of his brethren; uppon payne to forfyt, for ev’y default, 3s. 4d. Also we ordēn, that no p’sone or p’sones of the seyd crafte and mystery, shall take no less for the washyng of a hed, and shavyng of a berd than 1d. ōb.,that is to say, for the washyng of ev’y hed jd., and for the shavyng of ev’ry berd ōb.; uppon payne of forfettor, for ev’y tyme doyng the contr’y, 11d. Also we ordēn, that no p’sone or p’sones, of the seyd crafte and mystery, shall not take no less for polling of a hed than 1d.; uppon payne of forfettor, for ev’y tyme doing the contr’y, 7d; and shall not poll any hed, and trym a berd, under the price of 2d. And that, if it shall fortune, any of the seyd crafte and mystery to shave any man by the quarter, that then, if he be a tempāll man, he shall pay for the shavyng, by ev’y quartr, vjd.,and no lesse; and, if he be a spūall, then to pay 8d. by the quart’, or else the seyd man to pay for ev’y shavyng, 1d.

The Queen-like closet or rich cabinet 

Hannah Wolley, outlining her life story in A Supplement to the Queen-like Closet (1674), pp. 10-12

“First, take notice that my mother and my elder sisters were very well skilled in physic [i.e., medicine] and surgery, from whom I learned a little. And at the age of 17 years I had the fortune to belong to [i.e., work for] a noble lady in this kingdom, till I married, which was at 24 years (those seven years I was with her). She, finding my genius [i.e., ability] and being of a charitable temper to do good amongst her poor neighbours, I had her purse to buy what ingredients might be required to make balsams, salves, ointments, waters for wounds, oils, cordials, and the like. Besides, she procured such knowledge for me from her physicians and surgeons (who were the best that all England could afford) and also bought many books for me to read, that in short time, with the help of those worthy men before mentioned, I soon became a practitioner, and did begin with cut fingers, bruises, aches, agues [i.e., fevers], headache, bleeding at the nose, felons [i.e. abscesses], whitlows on the fingers, sore eyes, drawing of blisters, burnings, toothache, and anything which is commonly incident. And in all those cures God was pleased to give me good success.

When I was about the age of two and twenty years, I was sent by this noble lady to a woman in hard labour of child, who being quite wearied out with her pains, she fell into strong convulsion fits, which greatly endangered both herself and her child. But by God’s help those remedies which I gave her caused her fits to cease, and a safe delivery followed.

When I was married to Mr Wolley, we lived together at Newport Pond in Essex near Saffron Walden seven years, my husband having been master of that free-school 14 years before. We having many boarders, my skill was often exercised amongst them, for oftentimes they got mishaps when they were playing, and oftentimes fell into distempers, as [i.e., such as] agues [i.e., fevers], fevers, measles, smallpox, consumptions, and many other diseases. In all which, unless they were desperately ill, their parents trusted me without the help of any physician or surgeon. Likewise, the neighbours in 8 or 10 miles round came to me for cure.

A woman who had a sore leg one and twenty years I quite cured.

Another being kicked by a churlish husband on her leg, so that a vein was burst, whereby she lost at least a pottle [half a gallon] of blood, I stayed the blood and cured her leg.”

A passage from Behn’s novel, The Fair Jilt

This is a passage from The Fair Jilt, where the murderous ex-nun Isabella (here referred to as ‘the princess’) seduces a page to poison her sister Alcidiana’s nightly apple juice. Isabella does this hoping that Alcidiana will die, and not find out that her sister has been stealing her inheritance. The story is based on real events in Antwerp, where Behn worked as a spy:

‘The princess one day ordering this page to wait on her in her closet, she shut the door. And after a thousand questions of what he would undertake to serve her, the amorous boy, finding himself alone and caressed by the fair person he adored, with joyful blushes that beautified his face, told her there was nothing upon earth he would not do, to obey her least commands. 

She grew more familiar with him, to oblige him. And seeing love dance in his eyes, of which she was so good a judge, she treated him more like a lover than a servant. Till at last, the ravished youth, wholly transported out of himself, fell at her feet, and impatiently implored to receive her commands quickly, that he might fly to execute ’em. For he was not able to bear her charming words, looks and touches, and retain his duty. 

At this, she smiled, and told him the work was of such a nature, as would mortify all flames about him. And he would have more need of rage, envy and malice, than the aids of a passion so soft as what she now found him capable of. He assured her he would stick at nothing, though even against his nature, to recompense for the boldness he now, through indiscretion, had discovered. 

She, smiling, told him he had committed no fault, and that possibly, the pay he should receive for the service she required at his hands, should be—what he most wished for in the world. To this he bowed to the earth, and, kissing her feet, bade her command. 

And then she boldly told him, ’twas to kill her sister, Alcidiana. The youth, without so much as starting, or pausing upon the matter, told her it should be done. And, bowing low, immediately went out of the closet. She called him back, and would have given him some Instruction. But he refused it, and said the action and the contrivance should be all his own. And, he offering to go again, she—again re-called him, putting into his hand a purse of a hundred pistoles, which he took; and with a low bow, departed.

He no sooner left her presence, but he goes directly and buys a dose of poison, and went immediately to the house where Alcidiana lived. Where, desiring to be brought to her presence, he fell a-weeping, and told her, his lady had fallen out with him, and dismissed him her service. And since, from a child, he had been brought up in the family, he humbly besought Alcidiana to receive him into hers, she being in a few days to be married. There needed not much entreaty to a thing that pleased her so well, and she immediately received him to pension [i.e., put him on a salary]. And he waited some days on her before he could get an opportunity to administer his devilish potion. But one night, when she drunk wine with roasted apples, which was usual with her, instead of sugar, or with the sugar, the baneful drug was mixed, and she drank it down.’]

Aphra’s City: Case 2

The English Civil Wars: Case 3

Petition to Oliver Cromwell for Freedom from Westgate Prison 1656

Barth Johnson
June 17, 1656
To his High[nes]s the Lord Protecto[ur] of the Comonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland etc. The Humble Petic[i]on of Bartholmew Johnson Prisnoer in Westgate in the Citty of Canterbury

Sheweth That yo[ur] pet[itionour] is in prison at the suite of Wm Stannley of the s[ai]d Citty for the som[m]e of 7 L w[hi]ch at p[re]sent hee is no way able to satisffy but is like to p[er]ish in prison unless yo[ur] High[nes]s take ord[er] for his Releife: Hee being content to pay the s[ai]d money as God shall enable him

Hee therefore humbly praies yo[ur] High[nes]s to appoint such conscientious p[er]sons to releive yo[ur] pet[itioner] herein as yo[ur] High[nes]s shal thinke fitt

White Hall June 17
And yo[ur] Pet[itioner] shall pray etc. 1656
His High[nes]s refereth this to Maio[ur] Bradn..
…………………… Capt Munnings & Thomas Scott Esq. or any two of them to give notice to parties and witnesses and upon Informac[i]on agree the p[ar]ties if they canne. Or otherwise certify his High[nes]s the p[ar]ticulars w[i]th their opinion.
Nath Bacon.

 

Help for a Business Ruined by Plague

Civitas                           To the right wo[rshipfu]ll the Maio[r] Aldermen &

Cant.                              common Counsell in Court of Bur[..]

Abraham Caffinch of this citty butcher humbly sheweth that where by the visitac[i]on of the plague he hath lost this last summers benefitt of the dungell grounds: hired of Mr Alderm[an] Pollen at 7 li p[er] ann[um]: and much hindered by the late pulling up of the fence and gate thereof. That you wold be plesed  to commiserat his losse and out of yo[ur] tender  goodnes to allowe him sume recompence he being of smale meanes and not able to beare this damage And yo[ur] pet[itioner] shall praie etc.

yo[ur] daily orato[ur]

Abraham Caffinch

Blue Dick and the Destruction of Canterbury Cathedral

How Richard Culmer Became Kent’s ‘most hated man’

In the 1630s, Charles I and the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud (1573-1645), sought to reorient the English Church. They turned away from Puritan piety, embellishing numerous English cathedrals and churches by restoring many interiors to their pre-Reformation layouts and commissioning new wall paintings and stained glass. The reintroduction of imagery in churches became acceptable, much to the fury of Puritans who believed these changes threatened the future of Protestantism.

In 1633, Charles I also reissued the Book of Sports, detailing the sports and other recreations permitted on Sundays and holy days. Activities sanctioned included archery, dancing, and country festivals. The Puritans, who advocated for strict Sabbath observance, were incensed by this publication.

The 1640s provided an opportunity for retaliation. For many Puritans, the First Civil War was a religious conflict rather than a constitutional one. It resembled a quasi-Second Reformation; upon its conclusion, iconoclasts targeted what they condemned as the ‘old’ and ‘new’ ‘popery’. Between 1641 and 1644, Parliament mandated the removal of ‘idols’ and ‘decorations’ from churches and other religious edifices by local officials. Cathedrals, the ‘mother churches of their dioceses’, which were to inspire parish churches and symbolised episcopal power, were particularly focused upon by Puritans.

Pamphlet literature advocating the demolition of cathedrals and churches proliferated in 1641 and 1642, sparking a nationwide wave of destruction of church icons and decorations. This zeal re-emerged after the King’s execution in 1649, leading to the removal of royal coats of arms, destruction of portraits of the royal family, and the like from churches.

In 1642, soldiers entered Canterbury Cathedral, destroying music books and slashing grand early sixteenth-century tapestries that depicted the life of Christ. Of the original 30 tapestry panels, 17 were repaired and survived; these were sold by English authorities and ultimately ended up in Aix-en-Provence. In 1977, nine of these invaluable tapestries were stolen and remain unaccounted for. The remainder resides in St. Sauveur Cathedral.

The subsequent year, 1643, witnessed Richard Culmer, a local Puritan minister, being appointed Commissioner for the Blessed Reformation. Previously an assistant minister (curate) at Harbledown, he was suspended by Archbishop Laud for his refusal to read the Book of Sports to his congregation. Culmer’s new role involved the purging of ‘superstitious’ relics and idols from local churches. On 13 December 1643, John Lade, the Mayor of Canterbury, accompanied by Culmer and a group of soldiers, entered the cathedral to shatter glass and statues. The vast amount of material to destroy was overwhelming, so they used a book by antiquarian William Somner as a guide. Significant damage ensued to the font (where you can still see cracks from the pieces being repaired back together), the high altar, and the cathedral’s stained-glass windows; spared (and surviving) images in the damaged windows were mainly non-religious depictions of the royal family. Throughout the cathedral, further destruction of images of the Virgin Mary, angels, saints, crucifixes, and the Holy Ghost occurred.

Culmer, alongside around 100 soldiers, also toppled the statues of St. Michael, which overlooked Angel Lane (now Butchery Lane), and of Christ at the cathedral’s main gate by the Buttermarket. A bronze replacement statue of Christ was erected at the original location in 1990. In the image below you can see the flat plinth on top of the lower apex where the statue of St. Michael once stood.

Culmer detailed the inflicted damage in his publication, ‘Cathedral News from Canterbury (…)’ (1644), where he portrayed himself as pivotal in the destruction, boasting of his courage to climb a 60ft ladder, pike in hand, to damage the Beckett window. The book also highlights the local residents’ disdain for the destruction of their cathedral; they threatened Culmer and he ultimately required a musketeer escort to return home.

Culmer, loathed by local Royalists (as Canterbury remained a city supportive of the monarchy), was dubbed ‘Blue Dick’ and vilified for his ‘zeal and fury’. After being given a new parish in Minster-in-Thanet, he faced such hostility from parishioners that they offered him payment to leave, which he declined. He later served as Assistant Dean at Rochester Cathedral before retiring from public life. His later years saw Culmer’s reputation suffer. Dittys and ‘libels’ against him, such as the one that follows, were shared on the streets of Canterbury throughout the 1650s:

He lov’d the Parliament;

But now he doth lament;

The Bishops he did hate:

But now Dick’s out of date:

Cathedral he did maul;

But now he spits his gall:

He broke the painted-Glass,

But now he cries alas:

Enraged by the damage being done to his father’s reputation, Culmer’s son defended his father’s legacy in the book, ‘A Parish Looking-Glasse for Persecutors of Ministers’ (1657). 

Upon his return to Canterbury (and the throne) in 1660, Charles II discovered a dilapidated cathedral; the crypt had been repurposed as stables and storage, with sermons moved to the Chapter House. Much of the lead had been robbed out of the buildings and brasses had been plundered. The windows were mostly smashed and ‘lay exposed to the injury of all weathers.’ Overall Canterbury Cathedral, was described as ‘justly scandalous to all who delighted to serve God in the beauty of holiness’. Restoration commenced promptly.

Richard Culmer passed away in 1662 and is interred in Monkton’s parish church.

© Charlotte Cornell, 2024

The English Civil Wars: Case 4

Letters and Papers: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, Charles II. 1666 Aug 26-1666 Aug 31. (Modern translation)

“My Lord,

I have troubled everybody so often with my complaints, and to so little purpose, that were I not confident of the justness of my cause (which I can make as clear as day) . I think I should be wild with my hard treatment. Pardon me, sir, that I apply myself to Your Lordship as the fountain from whence all the mercy I can expect (it seems) must spring. It is to Your Lordship as to my last hopes which I address myself <to>. And how justly, God of Heaven knows, since the delays which my little merits have caused you to put on me have been the only occasion of above twice as much expense to you as I might otherwise have charged you with. All which Your Lordship may please to remember I often said, and, withal, told Mr Halsal. I knew that in the end this would be my reward. I can justly say, that if I have not served him as was expected, it was because I wanted [i.e., lacked] what he promised. But I have already said so much of that.

Tis true, I am sent for home. But tis as true that they knew well I had not money enough to come withal. I could not beg nor starve here, and I was kept so long without money that I was glad at any rate, almost, to get credit. And what I had was spent before it came. But everyone complains of such usage that are any ways employed by them. 

Pardon me, my Lord, for I do not study complaints, but with abundance of sincerity would speak my grief and misfortune. But since I dare not venture upon too long a relation of it to Your Lordship, I only do most humbly petition that Your Lordship would be pleased, out of your goodness alone, to let me come home with credit and handsomeness. For maugre [i.e., despite] all those excuses which others make for my stay (as if I had a mind so to do), I do protest to Your Lordship, I desire nothing so much as to come home. And whereas tis thought my little services are at an end:, I am of another opinion, and am very confident that I shall, in a very few weeks or days, be able to do more than ever. For, had I had those supplies for him which were from post to post promised, Your Lordship had had a better proof at my will and his ability. I do expect him to have liberty in a few days, if he have it not by this time.

And I here trouble Your Lordship with a little part of one of his too long letters to me. However, I do humbly beg to come home. And if Your Lordship will be pleased to let me have a bill [i.e. credit note] upon Mr Shaw for £100 more, of which my friend shall have part, I will here promise Your Lordship: if when I come home I cannot give you absolute satisfaction, I will justly return it again. Which I hope I am able to do when at home, and Your Lordship shall be graciously pleased only to lend it me for that time. Without which, I vow to God I cannot come home, and the longer I stay, the worse it will be. For God’s sake, My Lord, consider me a poor stranger, and far from friends. And do not deny what my life depends on. And Your Lordship shall see how I will endeavour to merit it. And what a just and good account shall give of what I am now so ill-thought on for. 

I neither petitioned for, nor desired the place I now have, nor voyage have taken. Nor have I in ye least been prodigal more than what your delays have occasioned. And I am almost killed with the grief I have to be so ill thought on. And if I come not now, by this convoy, I must stay this two months or more.

For God of heaven’s sake, sir, take pity on me, and let me be used like a Christian, and one who would venture her life to gain your favourable opinion, and to be permitted amongst ye number of, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most faithful and humble servants.

A Behn

December the 26th, 1666

For God’s sake, sir, do not forget me. And I am sure Your Lordship will not repent your goodness, and I humbly beg Your Lordship, be speedy, lest I eat out my head.”

Original letter on loan from The National Archives, UK: SP29/169, Folio 155r

The English Civil Wars: Case 5

Content warning: references to sexual violence

Scold’s bridle written by Emma Williams (Canterbury Museums & Galleries volunteer and Univeristy of Kent MA graduate) 

Early Modern England was governed by men and the Scold’s Bridle is an obscure surviving material indicator of the gender relations of that time. A Scold was any woman who became too vocal and was deemed to be a chatterbox, gossip or busybody. When a woman was accused of being a scold, it replaced her identity, condemning her to that title and reducing her to a vessel of shame and sin. A rise in Scold accusations occurred between 1560 and 1640.

The Scold’s Bridle was an object used to enforce women’s silence; simply the knowledge of a bridle’s presence in town halls, magistrates’ offices and jails was enough to terrify them, let alone experiencing it first-hand. The accused woman had her head locked into a metal cage which was padlocked at the back and her hands were bound so she had no means of freeing herself. The protruding metal mouthpiece was forced onto her tongue which meant that she could no longer speak, eat, or even breathe comfortably. A chain was then attached to the bridle and the woman was paraded through the streets of her village, to be jeered at and abused by the public. The bridled Scold became a spectacle in a humiliating shaming ritual, unable to defend herself whilst being mocked and abused by her peers. This show of public disgrace was intended to deter other women from speaking out. By locking the head in a cage, it kept the unruly female tongue quiet by mechanical means; by dragging her through the streets, it kept her tongue quiet by societal means.

The iron mouthpiece of the Bridle is often referred to as the ‘tongue’ or ‘gag’, because the piece both resembles a metal tongue, and its purpose is to suppress the woman’s tongue. The term ‘gag’ combines the muzzling effect it would have on the wearer’s speech but also the intended design of the piece was to cause discomfort in the mouth, either with the addition of rasp-like elevations or spikes, to inflict severe pain. Alternatively, by making them longer, or having the extremity turned upwards or downwards, it was designed to aggravate the throat, causing nausea. The mouthpiece could also slam into the teeth of the wearer and break them, and sometimes also their jawbone, as they were led by the head through the town.

The horrific Scold’s Bridle, or Brank, was an instrument of ecclesiastical punishment for Scolds accused of slander and defamation. The newly devised offence of scolding was an exclusively female crime which was defined by an exclusively male constabulary.  A woman who scolded was associated with other crimes against social order too, such as: sexual disorder, assault, and eavesdropping. The shortage of existing evidence of the number of Scolds who were punished, and the lack of detail in the court records, makes it hard to determine what was so objectionable about the ways in which particular women spoke and how real their offences actually were. Fuelled by powerfully influential Christianity, women with uncontrollable voices in contemporary literature, ballads, plays and art were connected with sexual immorality, violence and keeping company with the devil. 

Whilst there are recorded uses of the ducking stool as punishment, there is no mention of the Scold’s Bridle, as it was never a legitimate punishment and was officially illegal, it fell through the pages of recorded history. However, Dorothy Waugh, a Quaker, gave a first-person account of her wearing the Bridle. She was punished for preaching in Carlilse and the detailed descriptions of her treatment, as a form of defence, are enlightening. She was ‘violently abused’ and ‘they tore my clothes to put on the bridle,’. When describing the feeling of the Bridle itself, she seems to struggle to fully articulate the effect on her tongue and the feeling of violation she experienced, with ‘the stone weight of iron upon my head, and the bit in my mouth to keep me from speaking’. Her account also focuses on the metal tongue which was ‘so unreasonable big thing for that place’; her shame from the experience prevents her from fully talking of the events and the ambiguity also seems to allude to something more sexual.

Petition Against Elizabeth Harrington

To the Right Worshipfull the Maior Aldermen and Com[m]on Councell now assembled at Burghmote for the Citty of Canterbury:
The humble petic[i]on of the whole Fellowshipp and Society of Mercers Linnendrapers Haberdashers Cappers Silkemen, Wier Sellers and Girdlers of the said Citty
Humbly Sheweth
That yo[ur] petic[i]on[er]s have beene sev[er]ally brought upp and served as Apprentices to the sev[er]all Trades and Misteryes which they now sev[er]ally use and Exercise according to the ancient Coustome of the said Citty, and the Lawes and Statutes of this nation. It being the onely and proper way to attaine to the knowledge of the Arts and Mistery of the said sev[er]all Trades and Occupac[i]ons and to Enable them afterwards to use and exercize the same, within this Cittie, which hath encouraged others to become Apprentices and Servants sev[er]ally to yo[ur] peticon[er]s to attaine to the knowledge thereof, hopeing and expecting heerafter, to enjoy the like Comfitt of there sev[er]all Services, as yo[ur] petic[i]on[er]s and their p[re]decesso[ur]s have from tyme to tyme sev[er]ally had and enjoyed And . yo[ur] petic[i]on[er]s by reason of their said Trades and professions as Freemen of the said Citty, have severally undergone, and are still liable to Undergoe sev[er]all offices within the said Citty, to their very great Charge and trouble which others (not being Free of this Citty (and especially Woomen) are excused and goe Free:/
Yett soe it is (as yo[ur] petic[i]on[er]s are Credibly informed) that one Elizabeth Harrington widow who lately Came to this Citty very meane and necessitous, having sett upp the profession of a Schoolemistris, and gayned some monyes thereby, doth now Intend and Endeavour to sett upp some Trade belonging to the said Fellowshipp and to Enable her therunto, hath or doth Intend to petic[i]on this Court for a Tollerac[i]on, or Admission to the Freedome of this Citty, which if granted by yo[ur] Worshipps, will tend not onely to the great p[re]judice and damage of the said Fellowshipp and of the petic[i]onors and their Apprentices for the present, But will ^ [above: also] discourage all others heerafter to p… [hole] their Children and Friends to be Apprentices to any Members of the said Fellowshipp, And if all woomen shall be admitted that shall desire the same) they being incapable to serve offices, the Government of this Cittie Cannot be mainteyened and p[re]served as formerly, But the whole Burthen thereof will of necessity lye upon a small number of men, who (by such Interloping into their Trades by woomen) will become unable to execute Such offices as of nescessity will fall upon them/
May it therefore please yo[ur] worshipps to take the p[re]misses into yo[ur] serious Considerac[i]on, and in regard the busines Concernes soe many p[er]sons and their Familyes, which are Inhabitants and Freemen of the said Citty, who ought to be protected and regarded p[re]served before one Single person, who hath another Course of life and may therby as formerly gett her Liveing (being not the widow of a Freeman and Can in noe respect Clayme or expect and Favu[or] from this Court) to deny her either a Tollerac[i]on, or admission unto the Lib[er]ties of this Citty And therby you will oblige yo[ur] petic[i]on[er]s to pray for the happiness and prosperity of yo[ur] Worshipps:/

On loan from Canterbury Cathedral Archives
CC/A/P/B/1654/93

Birthing Chair

“The practice of sitting on a specially designed seat while in labour, particularly during the second stage, was ubiquitous in medical, religious, and other literature in the era…” – Dr Sarah Read

Find out more about birthding chairs from novelist and academic Dr Sarah Read

Transcription of Expenses of Charles II Visit

Expences at the proclayming The King. Charles the second.

Lsd

It[em] p[ai]d to Alderman Knight then for Wine bread

Tobaccoe and other provisions (43: 00: 6)

Item to Mr Burges beere and tobaccoe

for the Trained Souldiers (06: 10: 10)

It[em] p[ai]d to Mr Phillipps for wine and tobaccoe at the

entertainm[en]t of the Com[..]s of the Cittie of London

in their passage to his Ma[jes]te (00- 16: 00)

It[em] gave to the Earle  of Winshilseas Trumpeters

for their service during the solemptie (05  00  00)

It[em] gave more to six Trumpeters that came from

Chatham for their service the same time (04: 00: 00)

It[em] gave to the Cittie W..tes then for their service (05: 00  00)

It[em] p[ai]d for fower Ribbands for the W..tes to wear

the same daie (00: 12: 00)

It[em] p[ai]d to Six drummers for their service that day (01  10. 00)

It[em] p[ai]d to the Ringers the same daie (0 – 10 – 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to Mr Pising towards the Cupp of gould that

was presented to his Ma[jes]tie being the remainder

money for the charge therof over and above what

was collected by [above: in] the Cittie (17 – 16  6)

It[em] more p[ai]d to him for his Journey to London to locke

after the making of the said Cupp (03: 00  00)

It[em] more p[ai]d to Robert Gilbert for returning 200L

to London to pay for the Cuppe (05. 00  00)

It[em] p[ai]d to Mr Barret for altering the Cittie Mace

in taking [above: out] the old Armes and setting in the kings

Armes (07  13  00)

It[em] p[ai]d to Jonathan Dunkin for his expenses to London

Being sent by the Cittie to the Burgesses (00 – 15  0)

It[em] p[ai]d more for his Horse hire (00    09  0)

(89 = 13. 6)

 

Forreine Expenses

Expenses at the recepc[i]on of his Ma[jes]tie

It[em] p[ai]d to Alderman Knight for Wine Beere and tobaccoe then. As by his bill appears (05 11)

It[em] p[ai]d to Mr Bingham for monies by him disbursed for wine beere and Tobaccoe for [above: the Companie] of the Souldiers, and for

the ..ing and Fixing some Armes (03 – 8)

It[em] more p[ai]d to John Simpson for monies by him disbursed for wine beere and Tobaccoe  for the other Company of Soldiers and cleaning and fixing other Armes (2 – 01)

It[em] p[ai]d to the Cittie W..tes for three daies Attendance

then with their musicke (02 – 00)

It[em] p[ai]d the fower drumes for three daies apeece (05 – 10)

It[em] p[ai]d to the Ringers then (0 – 15 – 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to John Pike for a Horse & a messenger to de[li]ver

to attend his Ma[jes]ties Moc[i]on (0 – 9- 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to another messenger and Horse hire to the Earle of Winchilsea then (0 – 6 – 8)

It[em] p[ai]d to Mr Sughton for his Horse hire and Journey

to S[i]r Thomas Engehams to Fetch Bedding for

his Ma[jes]ties Service (0 – 5 : 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to Term Porters for Carrieing & recarrieing

goods to the Pallace for his Ma[jes]ties use (0 – 10)

It[em] p[ai]d to severall Watchmen to Attend at the

severall gates of the Cittie and to watch his

Ma[jes]ties Coach (01 – 3 –)

It[em] p[ai]d to Woemen to make cleane the Roomes at the

Pallace ag[ains]t his Ma[jes]tes coming (02 – 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to George Pandepoore George Church and

Thomas Nash for Joyners work done at the

Pallace as by their Bill appears (02 – 14 – 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to Sixe Messengers to Carrie out Warrants

into the Countrey to the Constables to bring in

provision for his Ma[jes]tes service (0: 16 – 0)

(27: 15:)

Forreine expenses:

Expenses at the Recepc[i]on of his

Ma[jes]tie

L s d

It[em] to other messengers to goe into the Countrey

to the Constables to bring in horse & waggons for

his Ma[jes]ties Service (00: 08: 00)

It[em] to Mr Burnley for Matts and upholstrie Worke

done at the Pallace (01: 13 00)

It[em] fower Bedd Cords (00: 05. 6.)

It[em] to John Knight of Goodness one for Carrieing

and recarrieing Houshold stuff from t’house to the

Pallace for his Ma[jes]tes service (05: 03: 10)

It[em] p[ai]d to fower of the Kings Coachmen (04. 0. 0.)

It[em] gave to xvi of the Kings Footemen and Pages (08. 00. 00)

It[em] gave to Five of the Kings Groomes (04: 10. 0)

It[em] gave to sixe Footemen of the duke of yorke (03: 00: 00)

It[em] gave to the duke of Glosters six Footemen (03: 0. 0)

It[em] p[ai]d to Mr Alderman Ockman being then deputy

Maior for monies by him expended upon the

thancks giving day for his Ma[jes]tie (0  15  6)

(24  15: 10)

Tot (46.11 4)

Treating a boy with the plague in Canterbury, 1665

October 19th 1665

Mony disburst by mee Thomas Ockman by the Order of Mr John Sumner and Mr William Sumner: for the keeping of A Boy at the tent at dungoll

                                                                                               li     s     d

The searcher and watchman                                                00=02=00    

[Item] to the watchman for saffron w[ith] winn &

oyntment and Candles & wood                                      00=04=00

[Item] A mayd to tend him                                              00=02=00

[Item] for [in fold] A Bundle of straw                             00=00=10

[Item] The watchman & fier                                             00=02=04

[Item] his diett for the Boy 12 dayes                              00=06=00

[Item] The watchman                                                        00=04=00

[Item] The mayd for looking to the boy                          00=05=00

[Item] The watchman                                                         00=02=00

[Item] The watchman More                                             00=01=06

[Item] More the the watchman for the

Mayds diett and the Boy                                                  00=06=00

[Item] More to the watchman for the

for his paines: and other nessesaryes                            00=03=00

[Item] To the Clarke for A grave                                        00=01=06

[Item] To the Searcher to Cary him                                      

to the Grave An the Beadle                                            00=02=00

[Item] To the watchman for looking

to the Mayd in Carying of her

nesessaryes and her diett & fier                                 00=04=00

[Item] payd to the Mayd for looking

to the Boy in his sicknesse                                           00=04=08

[Item] to the watchman                                               00=02=06

[Item] More to the watchman                                    00=01=06

[Item] The Mayd more being out of Service            00=02=06

                                                               Some is Just = 02=17=04   

More payd to the mayd                                            =00=02=08

decemb[er] the 16th 1665 Received                        li d

in Full of this bill three pounds                                03=00=00

p[er] mee Tho: Ockman     

                                       

 

Dutch attack on the Medway, 9-14 June 1667

Watch a three minute film about the Dutch attack on the Medway by Chatham Historic Dockyard:

Find out more by wathing an interview with Richard Holdsworth

The Restoration: Case 6

The plague

Letters and Papers: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, Charles II. 1666 Dec 16-1666 Dec 27 (modern translation)

I have sent this last week twice, and did expect to have had some answer of them by this time, but am not so fortunate. I have, a second time, with great difficulty, being in Flanders, met with Mr S:t, who, for the future, shall pass by this cypher, 159; and for me, this: 160. I would not be so tedious in my relation of what he says to confirm [i.e., convince] me in all things you can desire. For you may believe he leaves nothing unsaid to beget a confidence in you. I really believe his intent is very real, and will be very diligent in the way of doing you all the service in the world for the future. He expresses himself very handsomely, and I believe him in all things. 

I am sure he wants [i.e., lacks] no wit nor address, nor anything, to manage this affair with, but [i.e., except] money, which, by reason of the States’ [i.e., the Dutch government’s] backwardness to pay them, makes him, amongst the rest, uncapable of putting himself forward in their affairs. For he is in debt at Amsterdam, whither he is unwilling to go till he has paid them. 

And there, he can renew his intimacy with those people that are in a condition to do him good as to this business, as intelligence for the going out and coming in of ships and the like. And to make himself more able to serve His Majesty, he thinks it best to quit his military employment, that he may not be so far from those places whence such services may be procured. 

You will find what the papers say, which I have sent in his own hand because you may be the better assured. And though he will not speak of anything of the reward which I have mentioned in that paper I carried, and whereof these of his are answering every particular, yet I say he speaks to me.

And what I do, I suppose may be credited without his hand, too. Sir, I speak this to let you know how necessary, both for you, and to confirm him, <page 2> that you send him a speedy supply to make him capable of doing you service, which he vows is his only aim. And I am certain, could he otherwise do it (I meane, go to those places where his presence is necessary for the service), he would go, and do anything to give you any proof of his real zeal to serve you. But he is wholly unable to go without they either should pay him (which they will not hastily do), or you send him a supply. Which the sooner you do, will be the better for you. 

Celadon says he knows it will be for your advantage that he should, with all the speed he can, apply himself to those people and places where he may grow wiser than he is. And I suppose I need say no more as to that, nor urge the necessity of his sudden supply [i.e., immediate payment]. For you are sensible [i.e., aware] what is or is not to be done with money, or without it. 

Celadon is not willing to do anything in the world of any kind more without your consents. And though I have advised him to say all things of that nature to you himself, yet he will not, at this time, do so, being more desirous to hear what you say of this before he speaks anything more. Only he bid me tell you, that if you thought it not fit he should address himself to the States [i.e., the Dutch government] when he quits 58 [code-name for Mr Bampfield, a Dutch government spy], as he intended to do for the performance of what they have all along promised him, that then, he will not do it. However, he is resolved to act nothing for them or against them, but what you shall give your opinion of. 

But this course he rather chooses, that he may be in a capacity of doing you service. Though, possibly, had he done so without your knowledge, you might have looked upon it as ill-done, and through affection to them. I doubt not but you will, by all ways, give him all the encouragement that may be, by the writing to him by me. For he will trust nobody but me. And in the confirmation <page 3> of all what I have said to him, which, though I know he does believe, yet I desire he may be assured by you, and that he may have all encouragement as I believe you would have him, let him; first be assured of his pardon [for having worked for the Dutch]. And when you have it ready, he will tell you what shall be done with it, and where he will have it. 

Pray, sir, stick with all speed of these things, and do not, by your neglect of anything, create a doubt in him of anything I have from you told him. Tis all is desired by

 August the 31 1666, sir.

Your most humble, faithful servant.

 

Letters and Papers: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, Charles II. 1666 Aug 26-1666 Aug 31. (Modern translation)

“My Lord,

I have troubled everybody so often with my complaints, and to so little purpose, that were I not confident of the justness of my cause (which I can make as clear as day) . I think I should be wild with my hard treatment. Pardon me, sir, that I apply myself to Your Lordship as the fountain from whence all the mercy I can expect (it seems) must spring. It is to Your Lordship as to my last hopes which I address myself <to>. And how justly, God of Heaven knows, since the delays which my little merits have caused you to put on me have been the only occasion of above twice as much expense to you as I might otherwise have charged you with. All which Your Lordship may please to remember I often said, and, withal, told Mr Halsal. I knew that in the end this would be my reward. I can justly say, that if I have not served him as was expected, it was because I wanted [i.e., lacked] what he promised. But I have already said so much of that.

Tis true, I am sent for home. But tis as true that they knew well I had not money enough to come withal. I could not beg nor starve here, and I was kept so long without money that I was glad at any rate, almost, to get credit. And what I had was spent before it came. But everyone complains of such usage that are any ways employed by them. 

Pardon me, my Lord, for I do not study complaints, but with abundance of sincerity would speak my grief and misfortune. But since I dare not venture upon too long a relation of it to Your Lordship, I only do most humbly petition that Your Lordship would be pleased, out of your goodness alone, to let me come home with credit and handsomeness. For maugre [i.e., despite] all those excuses which others make for my stay (as if I had a mind so to do), I do protest to Your Lordship, I desire nothing so much as to come home. And whereas tis thought my little services are at an end:, I am of another opinion, and am very confident that I shall, in a very few weeks or days, be able to do more than ever. For, had I had those supplies for him which were from post to post promised, Your Lordship had had a better proof at my will and his ability. I do expect him to have liberty in a few days, if he have it not by this time.

And I here trouble Your Lordship with a little part of one of his too long letters to me. However, I do humbly beg to come home. And if Your Lordship will be pleased to let me have a bill [i.e. credit note] upon Mr Shaw for £100 more, of which my friend shall have part, I will here promise Your Lordship: if when I come home I cannot give you absolute satisfaction, I will justly return it again. Which I hope I am able to do when at home, and Your Lordship shall be graciously pleased only to lend it me for that time. Without which, I vow to God I cannot come home, and the longer I stay, the worse it will be. For God’s sake, My Lord, consider me a poor stranger, and far from friends. And do not deny what my life depends on. And Your Lordship shall see how I will endeavour to merit it. And what a just and good account shall give of what I am now so ill-thought on for. 

I neither petitioned for, nor desired the place I now have, nor voyage have taken. Nor have I in ye least been prodigal more than what your delays have occasioned. And I am almost killed with the grief I have to be so ill thought on. And if I come not now, by this convoy, I must stay this two months or more.

For God of heaven’s sake, sir, take pity on me, and let me be used like a Christian, and one who would venture her life to gain your favourable opinion, and to be permitted amongst ye number of, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most faithful and humble servants.

A Behn

December the 26th, 1666

For God’s sake, sir, do not forget me. And I am sure Your Lordship will not repent your goodness, and I humbly beg Your Lordship, be speedy, lest I eat out my head.”

Original letter on loan from The National Archives, UK: SP29/169, Folio 155r

 

Portraits of Aphra Behn

Read Aphra Behn: Portraiture and The Biographical Account by Claudine van Hensbergen on the Northumbria University research portal

Take a closer look at the portrait by Peter Lely on Yale Center for British Art website. 

The Rover: Synopsis

Watch a synopsis of Behn’s play ‘The Rover’ by the Royal Shakespeare Company:

Content warning: suggestive themes

Watch a trailer for a production of ‘The Rover’ by the Royal Shakespeare Company

Excerpt from The Lucky Chance

The Lucky Chance presents women’s domination by frightened men. In the passage that follows, the two old husbands Sir Feeble and Sir Cautious are worried about what wives might learn from other women at christenings and gossipings (meetings of women supporting another one in labour).

Sir feeble 

I shall have my young hussy set agog, too. She’ll hear there are better things in the world than she has at home, and then, ods bobs, and then they’ll have it, adod, they will, Sir Cautious. Ever while you live, keep a wife ignorant, unless a man be as brisk as his neighbours.

Sir cautious

A wise man will keep ’em from bawdy christenings, then, and gossipings.

Sir feeble

Christenings and gossipings! 

Why, they are the very schools that debauch our wives, as dancing-schools do our daughters.

Sir cautious

Aye. When the overjoyed good man invites ’em all against [i.e., for] that time twelve-month, ‘Oh, he’s a dear man’, cries one — ‘Aye, marry’, cries another. ‘Here’s a man indeed — My husband — God help him’ — 

Sir feeble

Then she falls to telling of her grievance, till (half maudlin), she weeps again. ‘Just my condition’, cries a third. So the frolic goes round, and we poor cuckolds are anatomised [i.e., dissected], and turned the right sides outwards [i.e., inside out]. Ads bobs we are, Sir Cautious.

Sir cautious

Aye, aye. This grievance ought to be redressed, Sir Feeble. The grave and sober part of the nation are hereby ridiculed. — Aye, and cuckolded too, for aught I know.

Who Were the Nuns?

Dr Caroline Bowden and the team at Queen Mary University, London have created the website ‘Who were the Nuns’, a main source for ‘Map of English Convents Abroad’. The database contains information about 3,900 nuns who entered 23 convents and the Mary Ward Institute during the period 1598-1800.

Visit the Who Were the Nuns? website

 

Behn’s dedication to James, Duke of York

 In 1681, Behn dedicated her sequel to The Rover, The Second Part of the Rover, to the Catholic heir to the throne, James, Duke of York  (later, James II). She aligns herself firmly with James’s right to the throne, and implies that he took the depiction of rakish men in The Rover as a compliment to him. The dedication would have brought purchasers to the play, and earned Behn a fee from James. [then text of dedication:

To His Royal Highness the Duke of York

Great Sir,

I dread to appear in this humble dedication to Your Royal Highness as one of those insolent and saucy offenders who take occasion by your absence [during the Exclusion Crisis, Charles II sent his brother to the continent and to Scotland] to commit ill-mannered indecencies unpardonable to a prince of your illustrious birth and godlike goodness. But that, in spite of seditious scandal, you can forgive. 

And all the world knows, you can suffer with a divine patience. The proofs you have early and late given of this, have been such as if heaven designed them only to give the world an undeniable testimony of your noble virtues, your loyalty and true obedience (if I may presume to say so), both to your sacred brother [i.e., King Charles II], and the never-satisfied people, when either one commanded, or t’other repined, with how cheerful and entire a submission you obeyed. And though the royal son of a glorious father [i.e. Charles I, executed 1649 after the civil wars], who was rendered unfortunate by the unexemplary ingratitude of his worst of subjects, and sacrificed to the insatiate and cruel villainy of a seeming sanctified faction, who could never hope to expiate for the unparallelled sin, but by an entire submission to the gracious offspring of this Royal Martyr. Yet you, great sir, denying yourself the rights and privileges the meanest subject claims, with a fortitude worthy your adorable virtues, put yourself upon a voluntary exile to appease the causeless murmurs of this again gathering faction, who make their needless and self-created fears an occasion to play the old game over again [Royalist propaganda regularly compared the tensions of the Exclusion Crisis to the civil wars of the 1640s, as here]. Whilst the politic, self-interested and malicious few, betray the unconsidering rest with the delicious sounds of liberty and public good, that lucky cant [i.e., jargon], which, so few years since, so miserably reduced all the noble, brave and honest to the obedience of the ill-gotten power and worse-acted greatness of the rabble [i.e., mob]. So that, whilst they most unjustly cried down the oppression of one of the best of monarchs and all kingly government, all England found itself deplorably enslaved by the arbitrary tyranny of many pageant kings. Oh, that we should so far forget with what greatness of mind you then shared the common fate, as now again to force your royal person to new perils, and new exiles. But such ingratitude we are punished with, and you still suffer for, and still forgive it. 

This more than human goodness, with the encouragement Your Royal Highness was pleased to give the Rover at his first appearance, and the concern you were pleased to have for his second [i.e., that Behn write a sequel to The Rover], makes me presume to lay him at your feet. He is a wanderer too, distressed, beloved, though unfortunate, and ever constant to loyalty. Were he legions, he should follow and suffer still with so excellent a prince and master. Your infant worth he knew, and all your growing glories. Has seen you like young Caesar in the field when yet a youth, exchanging death for laurels [i.e., for renown], and wondered at a bravery so early, which still made double conquest, not only by your sword, but by your virtues, which taught even your enemies (some of Oliver’s commanders at Dunkirk [i.e. Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers during the civil wars]) so entire an obedience, that, ashamed of their rebel gallantry, they have resigned their guilty commissions, and vowed never to draw sword more, but in the royal cause. Which vow, religiously they kept, a noble example for the busy and hot mutineers of this age, misled by youth, false ambition, and falser counsel. 

How careless since your glorious Restoration you have been of your life for the service of your mistaken country, the whole world knows, and all brave men admire.

Pardon me, then, great sir, if I presume to present my faithful soldier (which no storms of fate can ever draw from his obedience) to so great a general. Allow him, royal sir, a shelter and protection, who was driven from his native country with you, forced, as you were, to fight for his bread in a strange land, and suffered with you all the ills of poverty, war and banishment, and still pursues your fortunes. And though he cannot serve Your Highness, he may possibly have the honour of diverting you a few moments. Which, though Your Highness cannot want [i.e. lack] in a place where all hearts and knees are justly bowed in adoration, where all conspire, as all the earth (who have the blessing of your presence) ought to entertain, serve and please you, yet this humble tribute, of a most zealous and devout heart, may find amongst your busier hours of greater moment, some one wherein it may have the glory of your regard, and be capable, in some small degree, of unbending your great mind from royal cares, the weightiest cares of all. Which, if it be so fortunate as to do, I have my end, and the glory I design, a sufficient reward for her who does and will eternally pray for the life, health and safety of Your Royal Highness, as in duty all the world is bound to do. But more especially, 

Illustrious sir, Your Highness’s most humble, most faithful, and most obedient servant, 

  1. Behn.

A Congratulatory poem to Queen Mary: Modernised text

A Congratulatory Poem to her Sacred Majesty Queen Mary, upon Her Arrival in England. By Mrs. A. Behn. 

London: R.E. for R. Bentley and William Canning, 1689

While my sad muse the darkest covert sought,
To give a loose to melancholy thought;
Oppressed, and sighing with the heavy weight
Of an unhappy, dear-lov’d monarch’s fate*; * i.e. the fate of her father, James II
A lone retreat, on Thames’s brink she found,
With murmuring osiers fringed, and bending willows crowned.

Through the thick shade could dart no cheerful ray,
Nature dwelt here as in disdain of day:
Content, and pleased with nobler solitude,
No wood-gods, fawns, nor loves did here intrude,
Nor nests for wanton birds the glade allows;
Scarce the soft winds were heard amongst the boughs.

While thus she lay, resolved to tune no more
Her fruitless songs on Britain’s faithless shore,
All on a sudden, through the woods there rung
Loud sounds of joy that ‘io’ paeans sung.
Maria! Blessed Maria! was the theme,
Great Britain’s happy genius, and her queen.

The river-nymphs their crystal courts forsake,
Curl their blue locks, and shelly trumpets take:
And the surprising news, along the shore,
In raptured songs, the wondering virgins bore;
Whilst mourning Echo now forgot her sighs,
And sung the new-taught anthem to the skies.

All things in nature a new face put on,
Thames, with harmonious purlings, glides along,
And tells her ravished banks, she lately bore
A prize more great than all her hidden store,
Or all the sun itself e’er saw before.

The brooding spring her fragrant bloom sent out,
Scattering her early perfumes round about.
No longer waits the lazy, teeming hours,
But ere* her time produced her odorous flowers, * i.e. before
Maria’s eyes anticipate the May,
And life inspired beyond the god of day.

The muses all, upon this theme divine,
Tuned their best lays; the muses all, but mine.
Sullen with stubborn loyalty she lay,
And saw the world its eager homage pay,
While heaven and earth on the new scene looked gay.
But, oh! What human fortitude can be
Sufficient to resist a deity? 


Even our allegiance, here, too feebly pleads, 

The change in so divine a form persuades.
Maria with the sun has equal force,
No opposition stops her glorious course.
Her pointed beams, through all, a passage find,
And fix their rays triumphant in the mind.

And now I wished among the crowds to adore,
And constant wishing did increase my power.
From every thought a new-born reason came,
Which, fortified by bright Maria’s fame,
Inspired my genius with new life and flame,

And thou, great Lord, of all my vows, permit
My muse, who never failed obedience yet,
To pay her tribute at Maria’s feet.
Maria, so divine a part of you.
Let me be just—but just with honour, too.

Resolved, she joined her chorus with the throng, }
And, to the listening groves, Maria’s virtues sung; }
Maria, all enchanting, gay, and young. }

All hail, illustrious daughter of a king,
Shining without, and glorious all within,
Whose eyes, beyond your scantier power, give laws,
Command the word, and justify the cause.
Nor to secure your empire needs more arms
Than your resistless, and all-conquering charms.
Minerva, thus alone, old Troy sustained,

Whilst her blessed image with three gods remained.
But, oh! Your form and manner to relate, }
The envying fair as soon may imitate. }
’Tis all engaging sweet, ’tis all surprising great. }
A thousand beauties triumph in your air, }
Like those of soft young loves, your smiles appear, }
And, to the unguarded hearts, as dangerous are. }

All nature’s charms are opened in your face,
You look, you talk, with more than human grace.
All that is wit, all that is eloquence.
The births of finest thought and noblest sense,
Easy and natural from your language break,
And ’tis eternal music when you speak.
Through all, no formal nicety is seen, }
But free and generous your majestic mien*, } * i.e. manner
In every motion, every part a queen. }
All that is great and lovely in the sex,
Heaven did, in this one glorious wonder fix.
Apelles,* thus to dress the queen of love, * an ancient Greek artist
Robed the whole race a goddess to improve.

Yet, if with sighs we view that lovely face,
And all the lines of your great father’s trace,
Your virtues should forgive, while we adore
That face that awes, and charms our hearts the more.
But if the monarch in your looks we find,
Behold him yet more glorious in your mind.
’Tis there, his god-like attributes we see. }
A gracious sweetness, affability, }
A tender mercy and true piety; }
And virtues even sufficient to atone
For all the ills the ungrateful world has done,
Where several factions, several interests sway,
And that is still in the right who gains the day.
Howe’er they differ, this they all must grant: }
Your form and mind no one perfection want, }
Without all angel, and within all saint. }

The murmuring world till now divided lay,
Vainly debating whom they should obey,
Till you, great Caesar’s offspring, blessed our isle,
The differing multitudes to reconcile.
Thus, stiff-necked Israel in defiance stood,
Till they beheld the prophet of their God. 

Who, from the Mount, with dazzling brightness came,
And eyes, all shining, with celestial flame;
Whose awful* looks, dispelled each rebel thought, * i.e. awe-filled
And to a just compliance the wild nations brought.

FINIS.

Further reading

  • ‘Aphra Behn’s Afterlife’ (2001) by Jane Spencer.
  • ‘Her Own Life: Autobiographical Writings by Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen’ (2003) by Helen Wilcox, Elaine Hobby

Canterbury’s Aphra Behn Project

This project is determined to get Aphra’s name and achievements back in the public spotlight. Visit the Canterbury’s Aphra Behn website to find out all about the programme of Aphra activities happening this year.

purple logo with feather quill.Canterbury's Aphra Behn

Artefacts in exhibition case The Beaney Museum

Get closer to The Beaney and immerse yourself in history, heritage, art and culture