Monday, March 31, 2008

The Dreadfull Character of a Drunkard, 1663

It seems like there are always a ton of birthdays around this time of year. In order to celebrate, I have made this LOL Manuscript Birthday Card™, which I encourage you all to print out to give to your grandmothers or ecclesiastical officials (just to show them that you care). I think the vomiting boar in the lower left hand corner is what really makes this special. Although the belligerent lion and the staggering monkey come in a close second.

The pamphlet is standard Puritan propaganda about the evils of drink, written by "Andrew Jones, a lover of sobriety." Apparently it went through ten editions, although England is not necessarily known for people abstaining from "this swinish and abominable sin."

I think for my next birthday party I'm going to try to recreate this scene, vomit included.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Four-Legg'd Quaker, 1664

I don't really know what to say about this one. At first I thought that the order of images couldn't be narrative, but I was quickly proven wrong. The ballad actually is about bestiality, believe it or not, and it doesn't omit any of the gory details. Basically this Quaker, Ralph Green, "caught a foal and mounted her," but not, shall we say, in the normal equestrian fashion. When the horse's owner catches him in the act, Green tries to bribe him, but the owner replies, "dost think it lawful for a piece / a filly foal to bugger?" Well, there's really no way to answer that question, so Green is sent to jail. Then it seems he marries the horse because it can't be proven that he raped it, or something like that, and the final stanzas call for the gelding of all Quakers because if they joined the army they would give all their fellow soldiers "the staggers," which I take is some venereal disease.

This ballad reminded me of a movie that I heard about last year, Zoo, which I am too afraid to see. Also, is the Quaker lecherously sticking out his tongue? And I don't even want to think how many animals and animal-human hybrids had to have sex with each other to create the figure on the far right. That's a lot of bestiality! Although he may be a cast member from an early modern Island of Dr. Moreau.

This ballad is indicative of a strand of Royalist writing during the Interregnum that used bestiality as a metaphor to satirize religious, political, or social disorder. Apparently, Cavaliers really hated Quakers, who they viewed as sexually perverted, horse-loving, incestuous freaks. It seems like the real concern, however, is that the Quakers would join the army or otherwise gain lots of power in Parliament. The author of the ballad, Sir John Berkenhead, wrote many such satires. The Four-Legg'd Quaker was included in a collection of Royalist poems, ballads, jokes, satires, and bits of poesy called The Rump, published in the 1660s. This just goes to show us once again how much fun the Cavaliers were! I love the idea of them all roving around during the English Civil War writing dirty satires about Puritans fucking horses.

Would you like to learn more about bestiality metaphors in Reformation satire? Of course you do! I suggest Mark R. Blackwell's "Bestial Metaphors: John Berkenhead and Satiric Royalist Propaganda of the 1640s and 50s." Modern Language Studies. 29.1 (Spring, 1999): 105-130.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Samuel Peeps, 2008

Yet another amazing photoshop job, just in time for Easter! I think it may be some of my best work. At least this might remind people how to pronounce "Pepys" correctly.
A page from the Diary of Samuel Peeps:

22 March:

Today encountered terrible traffic at the assembly line, where many a candy rudely shoved me aside to pass. My Lord Cadbury arrived with his carriage, and we to his house to assist him in some matters of business. God help him! never man was so confounded, as all his concerns lie with his sales figures. I fear, however, that his melancholy stems from his status as an individually-wrapped confection, whilst I lay in a row with my wife and fellows. I perceive he envies me in it, but I think that will do me no hurt, so if it did I am at a great loss to think whether it were not best for me to let it wholly alone, for it will much disquiet me and my business of marshmallow-y deliciousness.

Thence from Cadbury's to sup with my wife. After dinner and doing some things in my closet (as noble a closet as any man hath), I with my wife to the playhouse to see a revival of Il Piccolo Joust di Peep, which pleased me mightily, although my wife displayed some snappishness due to my diversions with a few tasty-looking ladies sitting nearby. However, chatting a great while afterwards, good friends again.

Tonight, then, to the Easter Basket.
(I'm kind of an idiot.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Hunting of the Conney, c. 1620

It's Easter at LOL Manuscripts! Break out the Cadbury Eggs and ignore the pesky religious affiliations in order to eat candy! That's what I do.

About this illustration, I would just like to say that is the biggest fucking rabbit I have ever seen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mikrokosmographia, 1615

My doctors and dentists always sent me postcards when I was due for another appointment, but they always had pictures of frogs or kitties dressed as nurses, or a dancing molar, or some other such false advertising. I think early modern doctors would have just put it out there without all the sugarcoating.

The Mikrokosmographia is an anatomical textbook written by Helkia Crooke. I've used it in past's a great resource for insight into the way people understood the body in early modern Europe. Here's an even better picture of the image from the Schoenberg Center, which is maybe my new favorite website (although nothing will ever replace EEBO in my heart).

Here's what's on the table, according to the book: "Razors of all sortes, great, small, meane, sharpe, blunt, straight, crooked, and edged on both sides; Sheares or Sizers; round and large long Probes of Brasse, Siluer, Lead; a Knife of Box or of Iuory, Pincers of all sorts; hooks, Needels bent rather then straite, Reeds, Quils, Glasse-trunkes or hollow Bugles to blowe vp the parts, Threds and strings, Sawes, Bodkins, Augers, Mallets, Wimbles or Trepans, Basons and Sponges; the Figures of all which wee haue heereunder delineated, together with a Table whereon to lay the dead, or binde the liuing Anatomy, with the rings, chains, cords, & perforations fit for that purpose."

Well, I guess that means I'm off to Home Depot! Apparently with a few household and garden items, I too can set up a medical practice!

PS -- If you're into this stuff, might I suggest Jonathan Sawday's The Body Emblazoned, and although it's a bit later, The Knife Man, about England's first surgeon, John Hunter (1728 – 1793).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The life and death of M. Geo: Sands, 1626

Cocaine is a hell of a drug. The actual ballad isn't really about drugs, unfortunately. Basically, George Sands steals stuff and rapes some women, and pulls others into his crime ring. Then they're all executed. I still love the image...especially the expression on the "pusher's" face. He's all like, "come on, man, the first hit's free! What do you have to loose?"

I like to imagine Sands' "enormous crimes" were related to his nose candy habit. Blow will make you do some crazy/reckless things. Here's how I imagine George Sands at the height of his power:

Early Modern Scarface! But no matter how glamorous cocaine seems, and even though all the cool kids are doing it down at the discotheque, LOL Manuscripts officially says "no" to drugs. We get high on life and early modern print culture.

(Man, I am really good at photoshop.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Most Execrable and Barbarous Murder, 1642

I almost made the caption simply say, "NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER!" I think that's actually funnier. Anyway, I thought the illustration was terrific, especially the way the corpses are all aligned in perfect and symmetrical rows. Those are also some pretty sweet daggers the "East-Indian Devil" has. Too bad he got [spoiler alert!] caught and executed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Deliciæ Musicæ, 1696

Daniel Purcell was the younger and less significant brother of Henry Purcell. Daniel composed for the theaters, and the play this mentions, The Indian Queen, is pretty interesting. It was partially written by John Dryden, and is about the conflicts between the ruling houses of the Incas and the Aztecs. It was expanded with music 30 years after it's original production in 1664, becoming something more like an opera.

I like to think the brothers had a feud not unlike Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks. Case in point: Henry wrote most of the music for The Indian Queen, but he died (in 1695) and the theater hired Daniel to finish the score in his place. Daniel's fifth-act music probably sort of sucked compared to big bro's, and I imagine that it dawned on him that he only got the gig because of the family connection. His big break again overshadowed by Henry, even in death. Maybe Daniel was the self-destructive alter-ego of Henry, and they hated each other because in some backwards way, they needed each other to be complete. Tragic! Also, completely speculative. It would be terrific if it was true, though. (And I am aware that no amount of historical background or invented psychological complexity can detract from a Vanilla Ice reference. I apologize.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cantus, songs and fancies, 1666

I took this from a songbook written by John Forbes. It seems to be a beginning manual for teaching children how to play and sing simple songs, but the first few pages are full of complicated diagrams and charts. This illustration is called a Guidonian Hand, and is supposed to teach you about tones and octaves and other useless crap. I searched some of the terms written on the parts of the hand, and they're Latin words for the types of tones (e.g., molle is soft, durum is hard).

That sort of stuff is definitely what you should start with when you teach kids about music. Children love to hear about hexachords. It introduces them to atonality early on, and you know how much kids love to challenge preconceived notions about melodic construction.

Update: I just remembered this viral video from a few months ago featuring a 21st-century version of the Guidonian hand.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

An embassy from the East-India company, 1673

This publication seems to be a travel narrative-ish thing with an emphasis on trade (mostly Dutch trade, it seems) with China. There are quite a few pictures of Chinese palaces, gardens, and people. This pretty lady spoke to me, though, because she seems so unaware of her future plight and the avalanche of Orientalism that proceeds from the activities of the East India Company. But at least British people got tea. That's something, I guess. And I suppose we wouldn't have Coleridge's "Kubla Kahn" either. And Edward Said wouldn't have had a career. Actually, the more I think about it, colonialism was awesome!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Plantarum historiae universalis Oxoniensis, 1680

Botany can be fun! This is from a book on plant life in England by Robert Morison, early modern drug czar.

I don't know how I feel about Latin jokes and puns, but I made one anyway. Actually, I do know how I feel about them . . . I feel terrible.