TO HIS HONOURED FRIEND J. W.
ON HIS LEARNED TRACT
THE SECRET AND SWIFT MESSENGER.
INIMITABLE Sir, we here discern
Maxims the Stagirite himself might learn.
Were Plato now alive he’d yield to you,
Confessing something might be known anew.
Fresh heresies (new-nothings) still appear
As almanacks, the births of every year.
This Dutchman writes a comment; that translates;
A third transcribes; your pen alone creates
New necessary sciences: this art
Lay undiscovered as the world’s fifth part.
But secrecy’s now publish’d; you reveal
By demonstration how we may conceal.
Our legates are but men, and often may
Great state affairs unwillingly betray;
Caught by some sifting spies, or tell-tale wine,
Which dig up secrets in the deepest mine.
Sometimes, like fire pent in, they outward break,
And ‘cause they should be silent, therefore speak.
Nor are kings’ writings safe: to guard their fame,
Like Scaevola they wish their hand i’th’ flame.
Ink turns to blood; they oft participate
By wax and quill sad Icarus’s fate.
Hence noblemen’s bad writing proves a plot;
Their letters are but lines, their names a knot.
But now they shall no more seal their own fall;
No letters prove killing, or capital.
Things pass unknown, and each ambassador’s
Strict as the breast of sacred confessors:
Such as the inquisition cannot see;
Such as are forc’d neither by rack, nor fee.
Swift secrecy descends to human powers;
That which was Pluto’s helmet, now is ours.
We shall not henceforth be in pay for air,
Transported words being dear as precious ware;
Our thoughts will now arrive before they’re stale;
They shall no more wait on the carrier’s ale
And hostess, two land-remoraes, which bind
All to a tortoise pace, though words be wind.
This book’s a better ark; we brook no stay,
Maugre the deepest flood, or foulest way.
‘Commerce of goods and souls we owe to two,
(Whose fames shall now be twins) Noah and You.
Each bird is turn’d a parrot, and we see
Esop’s beasts made more eloquent by thee.
Wooers again may wing their fetter’d love
By Noah’s trusty messenger the dove.
Torches which us’d only to help our sight,
(Like heavenly fires) do give our reason light.
Death’s harbingers, arrows, and bullets prove
Like Cupid’s darts, ambassadors of love.
Then your diviner hieroglyphics tell,
How we may landskips read, and pictures spell.
You teach how clouds inform, how smokes advise;
Thus saints with incense talk to deities.
Thus by dumb creatures we instructed are,
As the wise men were tutor’d by a star.
Since we, true serpents like, do little wrong
With any other member but the tongue ;
You tell us how we may by gestures talk ;
How feet are made to speak, as well as walk;
How eyes discourse, how mystic nods contrive;
Making our knowledge too, intuitive.
A bell no noise but rhetoric affords;
Our music notes are speeches, sounds are words.
Without a trope there’s language in aflow’r,
Conceits are smelt without a metaphor.
Dark subtilties we now shall soon define,
Each organ’s turn’d the sense of discipline.
‘Tis to your care we owe that we may send
Business unknown to any but our friend.
That which is English friendship to my brother,
May be thought Greek or nonsense to another.
We now may Homer’s Iliads confine,
Not in a nut-shell, but a point, or line.
Which art though’t seem to exceed faith, yet who
Tries it will find both truth and reason too.
‘Tis not like jugglers tricks, absurd, when shown;
But more and more admir’d, the more ‘tis known.
Writing’s an act of emanation,
And thoughts speed quick and far as day doth run.
Richard West, C.C. Ox.
From Heraldry Display’d, or London’s Armory by Samuel Lyne, p5
The Fishmongers’ Guild
Blazon: Azure three dolphins embowed fesswise in pale between four fish, two in saltire on either side, balancing crowns on their heads, all proper; on a chief gules six keys in saltire or
Supporters: On the dexter, a triton armored and bearing in his dexter hand a sword; on the sinister, a mermaid, bearing in her sinister hand a mirror, all proper
Crest: On a torse of the colors, two arms embowed bearing aloft a crown, all proper
Motto: All worship be to God only
From Heraldry Display’d, or London’s Armory by Samuel Lyne, p9
Arms of the Haberdashers’ Guild
Blazon: Barry nebuly of argent and azure, on a bend gules a lion passant or
Crest: Issuant from a cloud two arms proper holding a wreath, all proper
Supporters: Two goats rampant argent, horned and ungled or
Motto: Serve and Obey
From Heraldry Display’d, or London’s Armory by Samuel Lyne, p13
Arms of the Clothworkers’ Company
Blazon: Sable a chevron ermine between two habicks palewise in chief argent and a teazel in base slipped or
Supporters: Two griffins segreant or pelletté
Crest: A ram statant or
Motto: My Trust is in God Alone
"I’ve just this morning had a letter from my friend and French translator, Jean-Louis Chevalier, who is translating the bit in The Virgin in the Garden about Wilkie’s glasses, which were sometimes Cambridge blue and sometimes Bristol red. He’s translated Cambridge blue as bleu clair, which is, a, accurate, but, b, not quite right. He obviously doesn’t know Bristol glass, so he can’t see that particular red that Bristol glass is. He gave me a list that went on for about a line and a half of French possible words that might do for this particular kind of red. I couldn’t find one that was the right red for Bristol red. This made me despondent and at the same time very gleeful."
One of my favorite books, which I read again and again, is John Gage’s book on the theory of color. He talks about how green and yellow in ancient Rome probably meant blue.
Purple in Shakespeare pretty definitely means blue.
And purple in French always means red, which I didn’t know. I wrote a whole beach scene in Still Life in which the Wittgenstein philosopher talks about how on earth Proust can refer to something being purple when it clearly isn’t. And of course I didn’t know then that actually pourpre doesn’t mean purple, it means red."
"Thus wou’d I have Time roll still all in these lovely Extreams, the Corruption of Reason being the Generation of Wit; and the Spirit of Wit lying in the Extravagance of Pleasure : ’ nay, the two nearest ways, to enter the Closet of the Gods, and lie even with the Fates themselves, are Fury and Sleep — Therefore the Fury of Wine, and Fury of Women possess me waking and sleeping; let me dream of nothing but dimpl’d Cheeks, and laughing Lips, and flowing Bowls ; Venus be my Star, and whoring my House, and Death I defy thee."
Nathaniel Lee, The Princess of Cleve (1681), Act III Scene i.
"In a celebrated passage from one of his notebooks, Leonardo da Vinci offered a paradoxical recipe for making a real chimera: “If you wish to make your imaginary animal seem natural — let us say it was a dragon — take for the head that of a mastiff or hound, for the eyes those of a cat, for its ears those of a porcupine, for its nose that of a greyhound, with the eyebrows of a lion, the temples of an old cock, and the neck of a water tortoise."
Description of Claudia Swan’s (cancelled), Conceptions, Chimeras, Counterfeits: Early Modern Theories of the Imagination and the Work of Art, Hogue-Sponenburgh Art Lecture, Willamette University, 2010
"PROLOGUE. Thus from the Poet am I bid to say; He knows what judges sit to doom each play; (The over-curious critic, or the wise), The one with squint, t’other with sun-like eyes, Shoots through each scene; the one cries all things down, T’other hides strangers’ faults, close as his own. ‘Las ! those that out of custom come to jeer, (Sung the full quire of the nine Muses here) So carping not from wit, but apish spite, And feather’d ignorance, thus ! our poet does slight. ‘Tis not a gay suit, or distorted face, Can beat his merit off, which has won grace In the full theatre ; nor can now fear The teeth of any snaky whisperer; But to the white, and sweet unclouded brow, (The heaven where true worth moves) our poet does bow: Patrons of arts, and pilots to the stage, Who guide it (through all tempests) from the rage Of envious whirlwinds, O, do you but steer His muse this day, and bring her to th’ wished shore, You are those Delphic powers whom she’ll adore."
Thomas Dekker, Wonder of a Kingdom, 1623