Friday, January 10, 2003

"The Man-Woman" -- Hic Mulier, 1620

Hic Mulier; or, The Man-Woman:
Being a Medicine
to cure the Coltish Disease of the Staggers
in the Masculine-Feminines of our Times,
Expressed in a brief Declamation:
Non omnes possumus omnes.

Hic Mulier: How now? Break Priscian's head at the first encounter? But two words, and they false Latin? Pardon me, good Signor Construction, for I will not answer thee as the Pope did, that I will do it in despite of the Grammar. But I will maintain, if it be not the truest Latin in our Kingdom, yet it is the commonest. For since the days of Adam women were never so Masculine: Masculine in their genders and whole generations, from the Mother to the youngest daughter; Masculine in Number, from one to multitudes; Masculine in Case, even from the head to the foot; Masculine in Mood, from bold speech to impudent action; and Masculine in Tense, for without redress they were, are, and willbe still most Masculine, most mankind, and most monstrous. Are all women then turned Masculine? No, God forbid, there are a world full of holy thoughts, modest carriage, and severe chastity. To these let me fall on my knees and say, "You, oh you women, you good women, you that are in the fullness of perfection, you that are the crowns of nature's work, the complements of men's excellences, and the Seminaries of propagation; you that maintain the world, support mankind, and give life to society; you that, armed with the infinite power of Virtue, are Castles impregnable, Rivers unsailable, Seas immovable, infinite treasures, and invincible armies; that are helpers most trusty, Sentinels most careful, signs deceitless, plain ways fail-less, true guides dangerless, Balms that instantly cure, and honors that never perish. Oh do not look to find your names in this Declamation, but with all honor and reverence do I speak to you. You are Seneca's Graces, women, good women, modest women, true women -- ever young because ever virtuous, ever chaste, ever glorious. When I write of you, I will write with a golden pen on leaves of golden paper; now I write with a rough quill and black Ink on iron sheets the iron deeds of an iron generation."

Come, then, you Masculine women, for you are my Subject, you that have made Admiration an Ass and fooled him with a deformity never before dreamed of; that have made yourselves stranger things than ever Noah's Ark unloaded or Nile engendered; whom to name, he that named all things might study an Age to give you a right attribute; whose like are not found in any Antiquary's study, in any Seaman's travel, nor in any Painter's cunning. You that are stranger than strangeness itself; whom Wise men wonder at, Boys shout at, and Goblins themselves start at; you that are the gilt dirt which embroiders Playhouses, the painted Statues which adorn Caroches, and the perfumed Carrion that bad men feed on inBrothels: 'tis of you I entreat and of your monstrous deformity. You that have made your bodies like antic Boscadge or Crotesco work, not half man/half woman, half fish/half flesh, half beast/half Monster, but all Odious, all Devil; that have cast off the ornaments of your sexes to put on the garments of Shame; that have laid by the bashfulness of your natures to gather the impudence of Harlots, that have buried silence to revive slander; that are all things but that which you should be, and nothing less than friends to virtue and goodness; that have made the foundation of your highest detested work from the lowest despised creatures that Record can give testimony of: the one cut from the Commonwealth at the Gallows; the other is well known. From the first you got the false armory of yellow Starch (for to wear yellow on white or white upon yellow is by the rules of Heraldry baseness, bastardy, and indignity), the folly of imitation, the deceitfulness of flattery, and the grossest baseness of all baseness, to do whatever a greater power will command you. From the other you have taken the monstrousness of your deformity in apparel, exchanging the modest attire of the comely Hood, Cowl, Coif, handsome Dress or Kerchief, to the cloudy Ruffianly broad-brimmed Hat and wanton Feather; the modest upper parts of a concealing straight gown, to the loose, lascivious civil embracement of a French doublet being all unbuttoned to entice, all of one shape to hide deformity, and extreme short waisted to give a most easy way to every luxurious action; the glory of a fair large hair, to the shame of most ruffianly short locks; the side, thick gathered, and close guarding Safeguards to the short, weak, thin, loose, and every hand-entertaining short bases; for Needles, Swords; for Prayerbooks, bawdy legs; for modest gestures, giantlike behaviors; and for women's modesty, all Mimic and apish incivility. These are your founders, from these you took your copies, and, without amendment, with these you shall come to perdition.

Sophocles, being asked why he presented no women in his Tragedies but good ones and Euripides none but bad ones, answered he presented women as they should be, but Euripides, women as they were.

The modest comeliness in which they were? Why did ever these Meremaids, or rather Mermonsters, that weare the Car-man's blocke, the Dutchman's feather Upse-van-muffe, the poore man's pate poul'd by a Treene dish, the French doublet truss'd with points, to Mary Anbries light nether skirts , the Fooles Bandrike, and the Devil's Ponyard. Did they ever know comliness, or modestie? Fie, no, they never walked in those paths; for these at the best are sure bur ragges of Gentry, torne from better pieces for their foul stains, or elsethe adulterate branches of rich Stocks, that taking too much sap from the roote, are cut away, and imploy'd in base uses; or, if not so, they are the stinking vapours drawne fromdunghills, which nourished in the higher Retions of the air, become Meteors and false fires blazing and flashing therein, andamazing men's minds with their strange proportions, till the substanceof their pride being spent, they drop down againe to the place from whence they came, and there rot and consume unpittied, and unremembered.

And questionless it is true that such were the first beginners of these last deformities, for from any purer blood would have issued a purer birth; there would have been some spark of virtue, some excuse for imitation. But this deformity hath noagreement with goodness, nor no difference against the weakest reason. It is all base, all barbarous: base, in respect itoffends man in the example and God in the most unnatural use; barbarous, in that it is exorbitant from Nature and an Antithesis to kind, going astray with ill-favored affectation both in attire, in speech, in manners, and, it is to be feared, in the whole courses and stories of their actions. What can be more barbarous than with the gloss of mumming Art to disguise the beauty of their creations? To mould their bodies to every deformed fashion, their tongues to vile and horrible profanations, and their hands to ruffianly and uncivil actions? To have their gestures as piebald and as motleyvarious as their disguises, their souls fuller of infirmities than a horse or a prostitute, and their minds languishing in those infirmities? If this be not barbarous, make the rude Scythian, the untamed Moor, the naked Indian, or the wild Irish, Lords and Rulers of well-governed Cities.

But rests this deformity then only in the baser, in none but such as are the beggary of desert, that have in them nothing but skittishness and peevishness, that are living graves, unwholesome Sinks, quartan Fevers for intolerable cumber, and the extreme injury and wrong of nature? Are these and none else guilty of this high Treason to God and nature?

Oh yes, a world of other -- any known great, thought good, wished happy, much loved and most admired -- are so foully branded with this infamy of disguise. And the marks stick so deep on their naked faces and more naked bodies that not all the painting in Rome or Fauna can conceal them, but every eye discovers them almost as low as their middles.

It is an infection that emulates the plague and throws itself amongst women of all degrees, all deserts, and all ages; from the Capitol to the Cottage are some spots or swellings of this disease. Yet evermore the greater the person is, the greater is the rage of this sickness; and the more they have to support the eminence of their Fortunes, the more they bestow in the augmentation of their deformities. Not only such as will not work to get bread will find time to weave herself points to truss her loose Breeches; and she that hath pawned her credit to get a Hat will sell her Smock to buy a Feather; she that hath given kisses to have her hair shorn will give her honesty to have her upper parts put into a French doublet. To conclude, she that will give her body to have her body deformed will not stick to give her soul to have her mind satisfied.

But such as are able to buy all at their own charges, they swim in the excess of these vanities and will be manlike not only from the head to the waist, but to the very foot and in every condition: man in body by attire, man in behavior by rude complement, man in nature by aptness to anger, man in action by pursuing revenge, man in wearing weapons, man in using weapons, and, in brief, so much man in all things that they are neither men nor women, but just good for nothing.

And can Greatness and great Birth; great beauty, great bringing up, and great riches stoop to the baseness of these monstrous imitations? Why, what are all they when the face of virtue is is disguised, more then as silver Bells on a Jack an Apes' coat that show fair, and chime sweet, but save not poor Jack from one lash of the whip, when his knavery requires it? No more shall their greatness or wealth save them from one particle of disgrace, which these monstrous disguises have cast upon them. Oh you that are the great rich builders of this huge frame or Masse of disguises, remember what the poet saith:

As for the (oddes of sexes) portion,
Nor will I shunne it, nor my ayme it make,
Birth, Beauty, wealth are nothing worth alone,
All these I could for good additions take:
Not for good parts, those two are ill combin'd
Whom any third thing fro themselves hath join'd.

Rather then these the object of my love,
Let it be good; when these with vertue goe,
They (in themselves indifferent) vertues prone,
For good like fire burnes all things to be so:
Gods Image in her Soule, O let me place
My love upon; not Adams in her face.

Remember how your Maker made for our first Parents coats -- not one coat, but a coat for the man and a coat for the woman, coats of several fashions, several forms, and for several uses -- the man's coat fit for his labor, the woman's fit for her modesty. And will you lose the model left by this great Workmaster of Heaven?

The long hair of a woman is the ornament of her sex, and bashful shamefastness her chief honor; the long hair of a man, the vizard for a thievish or murderous disposition. And will you cut off that beauty to wear the other's villainy? The Vestals in Rome wore comely garments of one piece from the neck to the heel; and the Swordplayers, motley doublets with gaudy points. The first begot reverence; the latter, laughter. And will you lose that honor for the other's scorn? The weapon of a virtuous woman was her tears, which every good man pitied and every valiant man honored; the weapon of a cruel man is his sword, which neither Law allows nor reason defends. And will you leave the excellent shield of innocence for this deformed instrument of disgrace? Even for goodness' sake, that can ever pay her own with her own merits, look to your reputations, which are undermined with your own Follies, and do not become the idle Sisters of foolish Don Quixote, to believe every vain Fable which you read or to think you may be attired like Bradamant, who was often taken for Ricardetto, her brother; that you may fight like Marfiza and win husbands with conquest; or ride astride like Claridiana and make Giants fall at your stirrups. The Morals will give you better meanings, which if you shun and take the gross imitations, the first will deprive you of all good society; the second, of noble affections; and the third, of all beloved modesty. You shall lose all the charms of women's natural perfections, have no presence to win respect, no beauty to enchant men's hearts, nor no bashfulness to excuse the vilest imputations.

The fairest face covered with a foul vizard begets nothing but affright or scorn, and the noblest person in an ignoble disguise attains to nothing but reproach and scandal. Away then with these disguises and foul vizards, these unnatural paintings and immodest discoveries! Keep those parts concealed from the eyes that may not be touched with the hands; let not a wandering and lascivious thought read in an I enticing Index the contents of an unchaste volume. Imitate nature, and, as she hath placed on the surface and superficies of the earth all things needful for man's sustenance and necessary use (as Herbs, Plants, Fruits, Corn and suchlike) but locked up close in the hidden caverns of the earth all things which appertain to his delight and pleasure (as gold, silver, rich Minerals, and precious Stones), so do you discover unto men all things that are fit for them to understand from you (as bashfulness in your cheeks, chastity in your eyes, wisdom in your words, sweetness in your conversation, and severe modesty in the whole structure or frame of your universal composition). But for those things which belong to this wanton and lascivious delight and pleasure (as eyes wandering, lipsbilling, tongue enticing, bared breasts seducing, and naked arms embracing), oh, hide them, for shame hide them in the closest prisons of your strictest government! Shield them with modest and comely garments, such as are warm and wholesome, having every window closed with a strong Casement and every Loophole furnished with such strong Ordinance that no unchaste eye may come near to assail them, no lascivious tongue woo a forbidden passage, nor no profane hand touch relics so pure and religious. Guard them about with Counterscarps Of Innocence, Trenches of humane Reason, and impregnable walls of sacred Divinity, not with Antic disguise and Mimic fantasticalness, where every window stands open like the Subura, and every window a Courtesan with an instrument, like so many Sirens, to enchant the weak passenger to shipwreck and destruction. Thus shall you be yourselves again and live the most excellent creatures upon earth, things past example, past all imitation.

Remember that God in your first creation did not form you of slime and earth like man, but of a more pure and refined metal, a substance much more worthy: you in whom are all the harmonies of life, the perfection of Symmetry, the true and curious consent of the most fairest colors and the wealthy Gardens which fill the world with living Plants. Do but you receive virtuous Inmates (as what Palaces are more rich to receive heavenly messengers?) and you shall draw men's souls unto you with that severe, devout, and holy adoration, that you shall never want praise, never love, never reverence.

But now methinks I hear the witty offending great Ones reply in excuse of their deformities: "What, is there no difference among women? No distinction of places, no respect of Honors, nor no regard of blood or alliance? Must but a bare pair of shears pass between Noble and ignoble, between the generous spirit and the base Mechanic? Shall we be all coheirs of one honor, one estate, and one habit? Oh Men, you are then too tyrannous and not only injure Nature but also break the Laws and customs of the wisest Princes. Are not Bishops known by their Miters, Princes by their Crowns, Judges by their Robes, and Knights by their spurs? But poor Women have nothing, how great soever they be, to divide themselves from the enticing shows or moving Images which do furnish most shops in the City. What is it that either the Laws have allowed to the greatest Ladies, custom found convenient, or their bloods or places challenged, which hath not been engrossed into the City with as great greediness and pretense of true title as if the surcease from the Imitation were the utter breach of their Charter everlastingly?

"For this cause these Apes of the City have enticed foreign Nations to their cells and, there committing gross adultery with their Gewgaws, have brought out such unnatural conceptions that the whole world is not able to make a Democritus big enough to laugh at their foolish ambitions. Nay, the very Art of Painting, which to the last Age shall ever be held in detestation, they have so cunningly stolen and hidden amongst their husbands' hoards of treasure that the decayed stock of Prostitution, having little other revenues, are hourly in bringing their action of Detinue against them. Hence, being thus troubled with these Popinjays and loath still to march in one rank with fools and Zanies, have proceeded these disguised deformities, not to offend the eyes of goodness but to tire with ridiculous contempt the everto-be- satisfied appetites of these gross and unmannerly intruders. Nay, look if this very last edition of disguise, this which is so full of faults, corruptions, and false quotations, this bait which the Devil hath laid to catch the souls of wanton Women, be not as frequent in the demiPalaces of Burgers and Citizens as it is either at Masque, Triumph, Tiltyard, or Playhouse. Call but to account the Tailors that are contained within the Circumference of the Walls of the City and let but their Hells and their hard reckonings be justly summed together, and it will be found they have raised more new foundations of this new disguise and metamorphosized more modest old garments to this new manner of short base and French doublet only for the use of Freeman's wives and their children in one month than hath been worn in Court, Suburbs, or County since the unfortunate beginning of the first devilish invention.

"Let therefore the powerful Statue of apparel but lift up his Battle-Ax and crush the offenders in pieces, so as everyone may be known by the true badge of their blood or Fortune. And then these Chimeras of deformity will be sent back to hell and there burn to Cinders in the flames of their own malice."

Thus, methinks, I hear the best of offenders argue, nor can I blame a high blood to swell when it is coupled and counterchecked with baseness and corruption. Yet this shows an anger passing near akin to envy and alludes much to the saying of an excellent Poet:

Women never
Love beauty in their Sex, but envy ever.

They have Caesar's ambition and desire to be one and alone, but yet to offend themselves to grieve others is a revenge dissonant to Reason. And, as Euripides saith, a woman of that malicious nature is a fierce Beast and most pernicious to the Commonwealth, for she hath power by example to do it a world of injury. But far be such cruelty from the softness of their gentle dispositions: O let them remember what the Poet saith:

Women be
Fram'd with the same parts of the minde as we:
Nay Nature triumphant in thier beauties birth,
And women made the glory of the earth,
The life of beauty, in whose simple brests,
(As in her fairest lodging) Vertue rests:
Whose towering thoughts attended with remorse,
Doe make their fairnesse be of greater force.

But when they thrust virtue out of doors, and give a shameless liberty to every loose passion, that eithertheir weak thoughts engenders, or the discourse of wicked tongues can charm into their yielding busoms (much too apt to be opened with any lockpick of flattering and deceitful insinuation) then they turn Maskers, Mummers, nay Monsters in their disguises, and so they may catch the bridle in their teeth, and run away with their Rulers, they care not into what dangers they plunge either their Fortunes or Reputations, the disgrace of the whole Sex, or the blot and obloquy of their private Families, according to the saying of the Poets:

Such is the cruelty of womenkind,
When they have shaken off the shamefast band
With which wise Nature did them strongly bind
T'obey the hests of man's well ruling hand,
That then all rule and reason they withstand
To purchase a licentious liberty.
But virtuous women wisely understand
That they were born to base humility,
Unless the heavens them lift to lawful sovereignty.

To you therefore that are Fathers, Husbands, or Sustainers of these new Hermaphrodites belongs the cure of this Impostume. It is you that give fuel to the flames of their wild indiscretion; you add the oil which makes their stinking Lamps defile the whole house with filthy smoke, and your purses purchase these deformities at rates both dear and unreasonable. Do you but hold close your liberal hands or take strict account of the employment of the treasure you give to their necessary maintenance, and these excesses will either cease or else die smothered in the Tailor's Trunk for want of Redemption.

Seneca, speaking of liberality, will by no means allow that any man should bestow either on friend, wife, or children anytreasure to be spent upon ignoble uses, for it not only robs the party of the honor of bounty and takes from the deed the name of a Benefit, but also makes him conscious and guilty of the crimes which are purchased by such a gratuity. Be, therefore, the Scholars of Seneca, and your Wives, Sisters, and Daughters will be the Coheirs of modesty.

Lycurgus the law-giver made it death in one of his Statutes to bring in any new custom into his Commonwealth. Do you make it the utter loss of your favor and bounty to have brought into your Family any new fashion or disguise that might either deform Nature or be an injury to modesty. So shall shamefastness and comeliness ever live under your roof, and your Wives and Daughters, like Vines and fair Olives, ever spread with beauty round about your Tables.

The Lacedaemonians, seeing that their children were better taught by examples than precepts, had hanging in their houses in fair painted tablets all the Virtues and Vices that were in those days reigning with their rewards and punishments. Oh, have you but in your houses the fashions of all attires constantly and without change held and still followed through all parts of Christendom! Let them but see the modest Dutch, the stately Italian, the rich Spaniard, and the courtly French with the rest according to their climates, and they will blush that in a full fourth part of the world there cannot be found one piece of a Character to compare or liken with the absurdity of their Masculine Invention. Nay, they shall see that their naked Countryman, which had liberty with his Shears to cut from every Nation of the World one piece or patch to make up his garment, yet amongst them all could not find this Miscellany or mixture of deformities which, only by those which whilst they retained any spark of womanhood were both loved and admired, is loosely, indiscreetly, wantonly, and most unchastely invented.

And therefore, to knit up this imperfect Declamation, let every Female-Masculine that by her ill eximples is guilty of Lust or Imitation cast off her deformities and clothe herself in the rich garments which the Poet bestows upon her in these Verses following:

Those Virtues that in women merit praise
Are sober shows without, chaste thoughts within,
True Faith and due obedience to their mate,
And of their children honest care to take.



Also see:

"The Spartan Women", The Politics of Aristotle: Politics, Book II B Ch. IX: 5-16.