The Ugly Spider (Emblem 37)

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The Ugly Spider (Emblem 37)

Poem #102

Original Source

Hester Pulter, Poems breathed forth by the nobel Hadassas, University of Leeds Library, Brotherton Collection, MS Lt q 32

Versions

  • Facsimile of manuscript: Photographs provided by University of Leeds, Brotherton Collection

  • Transcription of manuscript: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Elemental edition: By Leah Knight and Wendy Wall.
  • Amplified edition: By Rachel Zhang.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making

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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Line number 1

 Physical note

end of previous poem occupies first quarter of page; poem begins after another quarter page
Line number 3

 Physical note

apostrophe written directly over “o”
Line number 10

 Physical note

“Ma” appears original, but “ke” written over imperfectly erased letters, with imperfectly erased “te” visible after
Line number 26

 Physical note

descender on first “l” imperfectly erased and smudged
Line number 31

 Physical note

in left margin: “xAntidiluvian”
Line number 31

 Physical note

first “i” appears written over earlier “e”, “v” over “g”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder

Facsimile Image Placeholder
[Emblem 37]
The Ugly Spider
(Emblem 37)
Emblem 37
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Though the syntax, diction, capitalization, and spelling of Pulter’s poems may not conform to modern standards, it is analytically productive for the modern reader to consider the these elements as they appear in the manuscript; they may, for instance, create links between different parts of the text, emphasize particular words, or create syntactical slippage that encourages multiple interpretations. In order to retain Pulter’s unique poetic voice, as well as maintain the possibility of multiple interpretations created by her text, I take a conservative editorial approach. I have chosen not to modernize grammar, capitalization, or punctuation, and adhere to the original spelling in cases where doing so retains a particular tone or analytical complexity that would be lost in modernization (e.g. “then” in line 37, which if modernized to “than” would efface an alternate reading of the line).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This emblem takes up two vices—tyranny and meat-eating—each spun from the emblematic reading of a powerful spider who is undone by the tiny fly she eats. From the fly’s example, the speaker catalogues classical emperors, warriors, and rulers who are all undone, in the end, by their short-sighted sinfulness. What seems to be a poem about the vanity of worldly power shifts abruptly as the speaker doubles back to scrutinize her own comparison: “But why do I blame spiders’ tyranny / When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?”). Rather than aligning humans with bloodsucking spiders, she denounces humans as more carnivorous than other creatures in their propensity to kill and eat other humans (their own “kind”). After positing a type of negative human exceptionalism, in which humans are the only truly cannibalistic creatures on Earth, she shifts to celebrate communities who choose vegetarianism and thus define their idea of “kind” more capaciously. In the final couplet of the poem, the speaker abruptly reverses course once again. “But stay my pen, write no more than is meet,” she says, punning on “meet” in the senses of “appropriate” and “flesh,” as she recalls that God expressly authorized human to eat animals within a grand food chain. The poem thus becomes a study in how to make and then rethink comparisons in ways that stabilize a conventional hierarchy of creatures. But the opening emblem’s lesson, in which the seemingly consumable dinner of the tiny fly overcomes the blood-thirsty spider, remains to haunt the poem: “Might the butchery that humans require for dinner come back to bite us?”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem exemplifies Pulter’s strategy of complicating and even undercutting her own emblematic images. The poem initially analogizes human tyrants to a female spider, in order remind the reader that even tyrants succumb to death. Yet Pulter undermines the analogy in the poem’s subsequent lines. First, while the spider is female (perhaps an echo of classical and renaissance depictions of tyrants as unstable and effeminate), the only human tyrants she mentions are male.
Critical Note
See Rebecca Bushnell’s discussion of tyranny in Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theatre in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990).
1
More significantly, Pulter rejects the spider as a suitable analogy for human tyranny altogether at line 25, stating that man is far worse than the spider, and it is unfair to the spider to make the comparison. She even terms humans unique in their cannibalistic tendencies (seemingly ignoring other examples in her own emblem poems of animals eating their own kind). In so undercutting the poem’s initial premise, Pulter rejects the principle of analogy upon which emblem poems are based. Traditionally, readers are asked to identify with and learn from the emblematic image, based on that image being an analogue of some aspect of contemporary human life. In this poem, however, Pulter rejects the spider emblem as inadequate to the task of representing humanity’s tyrannical tendencies.
Pulter’s reference to “he that hath three Kingdoms in his power,” i.e., the three kingdoms comprising Great Britain, suggests that events of Pulter’s own time are the inspiration for this reconfiguration of conventional emblem form. The British reference—likely referencing Oliver Cromwell—invites contemporary readings in a poem previously reliant on classical and biblical allusions. It may not be coincidental, therefore, that this hitherto anomalous contemporary reference immediately precedes the rejection of the spider analogy. Pulter suggests that where conventional emblem principles may have been suitable for previous historical contexts, events like the English civil wars require a reimagining of emblem poems’ formal premises.
Perhaps it should not be surprising, therefore, that the second half of the poem introduces themes and texts seemingly out of character with the neoclassical bent of the earlier part of the poem. As Pulter moves from tyranny to cannibalism to praise of vegetarianism, the distance we have come thematically from the beginning of the poem is indexed by the difference between her earlier classical allusions and the Hindu Indian traders of her own time (“now”) lauded at line 34. Pulter likely draws her description of these “Banians” from Samuel Purchas’ Purchas his Pilgrimage (1626), a beloved work of travel writing which also inspired Pulter’s romance, The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter lauds these traders so extensively that the speaker literally has to remind herself to control her sympathies in the succeeding (and final) couplet.
The final couplet thus struggles to instill order on a poem that in many ways embraces disorder. Biblical allusions in these final lines assert a Christian natural order of being, with God over man and man over animals, thereby licensing mankind’s killing of animals for food. Yet this licensing appears weak, even resigning, following the poem’s earlier promotion of vegetarianism. Moreover, the closing couplet underscores the distance the poem has traveled from its initial discussion of tyranny. Discussion of Britain’s own tyrant remains unresolved, along with the personal vitriol evinced by the speaker herself.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
37
Physical Note
end of previous poem occupies first quarter of page; poem begins after another quarter page
Behold
how many Cobwebs doth invest
Behold how many cobwebs doth
Gloss Note
clothe, cover
invest
Behold how many Cobwebs doth invest
2
This ugly Spider in her nasty Nest
This ugly spider in her nasty nest,
This ugly
Critical Note
A common inspiration for emblem poems. See e.g., Emblem XVIII of Book 1 of George Wither’s A Collection of Emblemes (1635), which compares spiders to men who “without touch, of Conscience or Compassion, / Seeke how to be enricht by others wants, / And bring the Poore to utter desolation” (18).
Spider
in her nasty Nest
3
Where
Physical Note
apostrophe written directly over “o”
Barricado’d
Shee in Ambuſh lies
Where, barricaded, she in ambush lies,
Where Barricado’d She in Ambush lies
4
Domition^like to Murther Sportive fflyes
Critical Note
Domitian (51-96) was a Roman emperor who came to power when he and his father battled the general Vitellius. He was reputed to enjoy torturing and killing flies. “At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus” (Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars [Loeb Classical Library, 1914], p. 345).
Domitian-like
, to murder
Gloss Note
playful, lively
sportive
flies.
Gloss Note
Roman emperor Domitian (51–96 CE) was known for his autocratic rule, imposing harsh morality laws and executing members of his own family. He is also cited as an example of tyranny in Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), 144.
Domitian-like
to Murder Sportive Flies
5
Yet Such A Monsterous Spider once I Saw
Yet such a monstrous spider once I saw
Yet Such A Monstrous Spider once I Saw
6
That would with Eaſe, fflies, Waſps and Hornets draw
That would with ease flies, wasps and hornets draw
That would with Ease, Flies, Wasps and Hornets draw
7
Most Cruelly into her Duſty Nest
Most cruelly into her dusty nest;
Most Cruelly into her Dusty Nest
8
Then Tyrant Like Shee on their Blood would feast
Then, tyrant-like she on their blood would feast.
Then Tyrant-Like She on their Blood would feast
9
Yet did I See A Slender Azure fflye
Yet did I see a slender
Gloss Note
blue
azure
fly
Yet did I See A Slender Azure Fly
10
Physical Note
“Ma” appears original, but “ke” written over imperfectly erased letters, with imperfectly erased “te” visible after
Make
this blood Sucking Monster fall and die
Make this bloodsucking monster fall and die.
Make this blood Sucking Monster fall and die
11
Soe the most impious Tirants in the World
So the most
Gloss Note
wicked
impious
tyrants in the world,
So the most impious Tyrants in the World
12
Even in A moment to the Grave are Whorld
Even in a moment, to the grave are
Critical Note
Pulter often describes death in terms of the revolving of elements; see The Revolution [Poem 16], My Soul: Why Art Thou Full of Trouble? [Poem 40] and Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night [Poem 47]. The spelling in the manuscript of this word—“whorld”—further emphasizes its homonym, “world,” which Pulter’s poems portray as caught up in a cycle of rotations and turns that include death.
whirled
.
Even in A moment to the Grave are Whorled
that

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13
That King of Terrours doth by Sentence Just
That
Gloss Note
Death
king of terrors
doth by sentence just
That
Critical Note
Bildad warns in Job 18:14 that evil people will be destroyed and brought to the “king of terrors.” Pulter may have sourced the phrase from Job directly, or from the numerous early modern sermons and biblical commentaries which use the term to refer to Death. See, for instance, Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest (1650), which asks, “Why is death to men the King of terrors else?” (334).
King of Terrors
doth by Sentence Just
14
Grind even their very Skellitons to dust
Grind even their very skeletons to
Critical Note
Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
dust
;
Critical Note
The image of Death as a bone grinder is a recurrent one in Pulter’s poetry; she writes in The Center [Poem 30] for instance, that Death “triumphant [will] perform his lust / Grinding in (spite) our very bones to dust” (15–6). The image may allude to Dante’s Inferno, the final canto of which describes a three-headed Satan using each mouth “like a grinder” to torture Brutus, Cassius, and Judas (Dante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum [New York: Bantam, 2004], 34.55). This allusion is unlikely, however, as there is no evidence Pulter knew Italian and the Divine Comedy was not translated into English until the eighteenth century. The image may be a cultural commonplace. Considering Pulter’s representation of Death as a bone grinder is also noteworthy as part of the cyclical process of life and death Pulter depicts throughout her poetry: in grinding bones to dust, Death returns man to his original state of creation, what Pulter calls his “first Principles” (The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], l. 7). Usually Pulter follows such dissolution with an affirmation of resurrection: “The sleeping Dust will rise and speake,” she writes in The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] (see also The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]). Here, however, Pulter omits imagery of resurrection, portraying dust as the final, conclusive end of tyrants.
Grind even their very Skeletons to dust
15
When hee upon the pale Horſe doth apear
When
Critical Note
Death; see Revelations 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
he upon the pale horse
doth appear,
When he upon the
Critical Note
The pale horse is the last of the four horses of the Apocalypse described in Revelation. This horse is ridden by Death, and followed by Hell. Revelation 6:8 describes, “... [P]ower was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
pale Horse
doth appear
16
A Julianus then begins to fear
A
Critical Note
Roman emperor, also known as Julian the Apostate. Eardley cites Alexander Ross’s account of the legend of how Julian, having renounced religion and been injured, flung the blood from his wound into the air and cried out, “Thou has overcome me O Galilean” (referring to Christ). See Ross, The History of the World (London, 1652), p. 85.
Julianus
then begins to fear,
A
Critical Note
Flavius Claudius Julianus (331/32–363 CE), later known as “the Apostate,” converted away from the Christianity of the post-Constantine Roman Empire in his youth. Upon becoming emperor, Julian instituted a policy of pagan restoration, reinstating temple worship and sacrificial cults throughout the empire. Alexander Ross’s The History of the World (1652) (cited by Alice Eardley) notes that after being fatally shot in the liver, Julian flung his blood into the air and declared, “Thou hast overcome mee O Galilean”—a reference to Christ (85). Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’” (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 2:113.
Julianus
then begins to fear
17
Throwing his blood and Spirits in ye Skies
Throwing his blood and spirits in the skies,
Throwing his blood and Spirits in the Skies
18
Confes’d yet died in his Apostacies
Confessed, yet died, in his
Gloss Note
abandonment of one’s faith
apostasies
.
Confessed yet died in his Apostasies
19
What by the Wars was Alexanders gains
What by the wars was
Gloss Note
Alexander the Great, who reputedly died by poison
Alexander’s
gains
What by the Wars was Alexander’s gains
20
When guilt his Conſcience, poyſon Stung his veins
When guilt his conscience, poison, stung his veins?
When guilt his Conscience,
Gloss Note
The ill-founded theory that Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) was poisoned circulated widely in the Greco-Roman period as well as in later centuries, featuring, for example, in Machiavelli’s The Prince (Book XIX).
poison Stung his veins
21
Soe hee that hath three Kingdoms in his power
So
Gloss Note
Oliver Cromwell, who ruled over England, Ireland and Scotland
he that hath three kingdoms in his power
:
So
Critical Note
I agree with Alice Eardley in reading the lord of the “three Kingdoms” as a reference to Oliver Cromwell, who as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland between 1653 and 1658 (“An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes,” 2:114). Pulter similarly decries “they [that] have been three kingdoms’ sore annoyers” in On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7] a poem commemorating the deaths of two royalist leaders at the hands of the Parliamentarian army.
he that hath three Kingdoms in his power
22
What Comfort will they Yield that fatall hower
What comfort will they yield that fatal hour
What Comfort will they Yield that fatal hour
23
When as that Sea of Innocent blood Shall Rore
Gloss Note
when
Whenas
that sea of innocent blood shall roar
When as that
Critical Note
The language here seems allusive, perhaps referring to the sea of blood indicative of God’s judgment in Revelation 16:2–3. Yet the phrase “sea of innocent blood” is not uncommon; Milton uses it to condemn Charles I in Chapter 2 of Eikonoklastes, writing, “he thinks to scape that Sea of innocent blood wherein his own guilt inevitably hath plung’d him all over.”
Sea of Innocent blood
Shall Roar
24
To Heaven for vengence, who can but implore
To heaven for vengeance? Who can but
Gloss Note
request, pray for
implore
?
To Heaven for vengeance, who can but implore
25
But why doe I blame Spiders Tiranny
But why do I blame spider’s tyranny
But why do I blame Spider’s Tyranny
26
Who forc’t by Huger Kills a
Physical Note
descender on first “l” imperfectly erased and smudged
ſilly
fly
Who, forced by hunger, kills a
Gloss Note
helpless, insignificant, foolish
silly
fly,
Who forced by Hunger Kills a silly fly
27
When Man’s ye greatest Beast of prey of all
When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?
When Man’s the greatest
Critical Note
The comparison of man to a beast of prey is not unique to Pulter. Geoffrey Whitney includes in A Choice of Emblemes (1586) a poem with the epigram, Homo homini lupus (Man is a wolf to man). “No mortall foe so full of poysoned spite, / As man, to man, when mischiefe he pretendes,” Whitney writes (144). Like Pulter, he notes that man does not treat animals with such cruelty.
Beast of prey
of all
28
His houſ a Shamble is or Butchers Stall
His house a
Gloss Note
slaughterhouse or place where meat is sold
shamble
is, or butcher’s stall.
His house a Shamble is or Butcher’s Stall
29
In all thoſe Books w:ch I have Read I find
In all those books which I have read, I find
In
Critical Note
Such references to the author’s learnedness are common in emblem books, e.g., Geoffrey Whitney’s reference to “divers authors” in his emblem comparing man to a wolf (A Choice of Emblemes [1586], 144). As evidenced in this emblem, Pulter frequently demonstrates her familiarity with the Bible, Plutarch’s Lives, Pliny’s Natural History, and Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage; any of these may support Pulter’s assertion here, though Purchas His Pilgrimage seems particularly pertinent. Alice Eardley discusses Pulter’s sources in Chapter Two of "An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes'" (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 1:102-124.
all those Books which I have Read
I find
30
There’s none but Man doth Kill & Eat his Kind
There’s none but man doth kill and
Gloss Note
eat other humans
eat his kind
.
There’s
Critical Note
This phrase portrays humans as unique in killing other humans (“his Kind”). Unlike the spider, which only kills “silly fl[ies],” humans kill each other. Cf. Michel de Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals,” which uses a cannibalistic civilization to critique the acts carried out “under the cloak of piety and religion” in his own society: “I consider it more barbarous to eat a man alive than to eat him dead” (Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. J. M. Cohen [London: Penguin, 1993], 113). This claim of man’s unique cannibalism is an ironic one given The Cuckoo [Poem 94], which documents multiple cases of animals killing their own kind. Moreover, such cannibalism sits awkwardly adjacent to the following lines discussing vegetarianism; even if man should not “Eat his [own] Kind,” it does not necessarily imply he should not eat animals. Eliding the two implies a strange kinship between humans and animals that Pulter rejects in her final lines.
none but Man doth Kill and Eat his Kind
31
Physical Note
in left margin: “xAntidiluvian”
The
Physical Note
first “i” appears written over earlier “e”, “v” over “g”
xAntidiLuvian
Patriachs happie were
The
Gloss Note
according to the Bible, the male authorities who existed before the flood. See the final note on their reputed vegetarianism until Noah was given permission to eat animals after the flood.
antediluvian patriarchs
happy were
The
Critical Note
Tradition holds that humans were vegetarians before the worldwide flood recounted in Genesis. Following the receding of flood waters, God licenses Noah’s eating of meat, declaring, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Genesis 9:2–3).
Antediluvian Patriarchs
happy were
32
That liv’d by what the Earth did freely bear
That lived by what the earth did freely bear.
That lived by what the Earth did freely bear
33
The Pithagorions noe blood would spill
The
Gloss Note
Pythagoreans in the ancient Greek world abstained from eating animals partly because of their belief that humans and animals share a common soul, and partly because they appear to have considered the diet a healthier one.
Pythagoreans
no blood would spill;
The
Critical Note
It is unclear whether the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE) was himself a vegetarian. Regardless, his followers adhered to the vegetarian diet attributed to him, to such an extent that “vegetarianism” only replaced “pythagoreanism” in the nineteenth century. Pulter likely draws from Samuel Purchas’ widely popular Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626), which recounts the Banians’ “Pythagorean errour” in loosing animals meant for slaughter (542).
Pithagorions
no blood would spill
34
The Banians now noe Animals doe Kill
The
Gloss Note
Hindu traders
Banians
now no animals do kill
The
Critical Note
Hindu Indian traders. The language of “redeem[ing]” indicates Pulter’s likely use of Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626). In a section “Of the Banian and Cambayan Superstitions” (5.8.3), Purchas notes that the Banians “eat no flesh, nor ill any thing yea they redeem the beasts and birds maymed or sicke, and carry them to their Hospitals to be cured” (541).
Banians
now no Animals do Kill
35
But Such as Murtherers they doe Esteem
But such as murderers they do esteem
But Such as Murderers they do Esteem
36
And oft will buy thoſe Creatures to Redeem
Gloss Note
Hindu traders considered those who eat animal flesh to be murderers; they are reputed to have bought animals from butchers to save the animals’ lives.
And oft will buy those creatures to redeem.
And oft will buy those Creatures to
Critical Note
Pulter’s use of “Redeem”—likely derived from Purchas—is economic, denoting a financial exchange whereby the animals are bought back. Yet it is particularly ironic in this context. Instead of God redeeming mankind, as he does in the biblical stories referenced a few lines later, Hindus are redeeming animals, thereby practicing a belief in the sanctity of life absent from Pulter’s own Christian nation.
Redeem
37
But Stay my Pen write noe more then is meet
But stay my pen, write no more than is
Gloss Note
appropriate
meet
,
But Stay my Pen write no more then is
Gloss Note
Pulter may be punning on “meat/mete,” suggesting both that it is inappropriate to say more, and that meat should be eaten “no more.”
meet
38
Least I forget Noahs Licence, Peeters Sheet.
Lest I forget
Critical Note
After the flood, according to the Bible, Noah is given permission to eat animal flesh: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3). See also God’s injunction for Peter to eat meat: “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat” (Acts 10:10-13).
Noah’s license, Peter’s sheet
.
Least I forget
Critical Note
Pulter here recalls two biblical examples of God licensing the eating of animals: Genesis 9:2–3, when God tells Noah that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,” and Acts 10:9–16, when Peter receives a vision telling him to “kill, and eat” animals descending on a sheet from heaven, even those considered unclean by the Jews. Pulter thus rejects vegetarianism, even as she praises those who exhibit compassion towards animals. This final return to biblical text effectively suppresses the other religious paradigms that Pulter raises earlier, even as it reestablishes a traditional hierarchical order of being, with God ordaining humans as ascendant over the animals.
Noah’s License, Peter’s Sheet
.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

 Headnote

This emblem takes up two vices—tyranny and meat-eating—each spun from the emblematic reading of a powerful spider who is undone by the tiny fly she eats. From the fly’s example, the speaker catalogues classical emperors, warriors, and rulers who are all undone, in the end, by their short-sighted sinfulness. What seems to be a poem about the vanity of worldly power shifts abruptly as the speaker doubles back to scrutinize her own comparison: “But why do I blame spiders’ tyranny / When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?”). Rather than aligning humans with bloodsucking spiders, she denounces humans as more carnivorous than other creatures in their propensity to kill and eat other humans (their own “kind”). After positing a type of negative human exceptionalism, in which humans are the only truly cannibalistic creatures on Earth, she shifts to celebrate communities who choose vegetarianism and thus define their idea of “kind” more capaciously. In the final couplet of the poem, the speaker abruptly reverses course once again. “But stay my pen, write no more than is meet,” she says, punning on “meet” in the senses of “appropriate” and “flesh,” as she recalls that God expressly authorized human to eat animals within a grand food chain. The poem thus becomes a study in how to make and then rethink comparisons in ways that stabilize a conventional hierarchy of creatures. But the opening emblem’s lesson, in which the seemingly consumable dinner of the tiny fly overcomes the blood-thirsty spider, remains to haunt the poem: “Might the butchery that humans require for dinner come back to bite us?”
Line number 1

 Gloss note

clothe, cover
Line number 4

 Critical note

Domitian (51-96) was a Roman emperor who came to power when he and his father battled the general Vitellius. He was reputed to enjoy torturing and killing flies. “At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus” (Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars [Loeb Classical Library, 1914], p. 345).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

playful, lively
Line number 9

 Gloss note

blue
Line number 11

 Gloss note

wicked
Line number 12

 Critical note

Pulter often describes death in terms of the revolving of elements; see The Revolution [Poem 16], My Soul: Why Art Thou Full of Trouble? [Poem 40] and Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night [Poem 47]. The spelling in the manuscript of this word—“whorld”—further emphasizes its homonym, “world,” which Pulter’s poems portray as caught up in a cycle of rotations and turns that include death.
Line number 13

 Gloss note

Death
Line number 14

 Critical note

Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Line number 15

 Critical note

Death; see Revelations 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
Line number 16

 Critical note

Roman emperor, also known as Julian the Apostate. Eardley cites Alexander Ross’s account of the legend of how Julian, having renounced religion and been injured, flung the blood from his wound into the air and cried out, “Thou has overcome me O Galilean” (referring to Christ). See Ross, The History of the World (London, 1652), p. 85.
Line number 18

 Gloss note

abandonment of one’s faith
Line number 19

 Gloss note

Alexander the Great, who reputedly died by poison
Line number 21

 Gloss note

Oliver Cromwell, who ruled over England, Ireland and Scotland
Line number 23

 Gloss note

when
Line number 24

 Gloss note

request, pray for
Line number 26

 Gloss note

helpless, insignificant, foolish
Line number 28

 Gloss note

slaughterhouse or place where meat is sold
Line number 30

 Gloss note

eat other humans
Line number 31

 Gloss note

according to the Bible, the male authorities who existed before the flood. See the final note on their reputed vegetarianism until Noah was given permission to eat animals after the flood.
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Pythagoreans in the ancient Greek world abstained from eating animals partly because of their belief that humans and animals share a common soul, and partly because they appear to have considered the diet a healthier one.
Line number 34

 Gloss note

Hindu traders
Line number 36

 Gloss note

Hindu traders considered those who eat animal flesh to be murderers; they are reputed to have bought animals from butchers to save the animals’ lives.
Line number 37

 Gloss note

appropriate
Line number 38

 Critical note

After the flood, according to the Bible, Noah is given permission to eat animal flesh: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3). See also God’s injunction for Peter to eat meat: “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat” (Acts 10:10-13).
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[Emblem 37]
The Ugly Spider
(Emblem 37)
Emblem 37
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Though the syntax, diction, capitalization, and spelling of Pulter’s poems may not conform to modern standards, it is analytically productive for the modern reader to consider the these elements as they appear in the manuscript; they may, for instance, create links between different parts of the text, emphasize particular words, or create syntactical slippage that encourages multiple interpretations. In order to retain Pulter’s unique poetic voice, as well as maintain the possibility of multiple interpretations created by her text, I take a conservative editorial approach. I have chosen not to modernize grammar, capitalization, or punctuation, and adhere to the original spelling in cases where doing so retains a particular tone or analytical complexity that would be lost in modernization (e.g. “then” in line 37, which if modernized to “than” would efface an alternate reading of the line).

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This emblem takes up two vices—tyranny and meat-eating—each spun from the emblematic reading of a powerful spider who is undone by the tiny fly she eats. From the fly’s example, the speaker catalogues classical emperors, warriors, and rulers who are all undone, in the end, by their short-sighted sinfulness. What seems to be a poem about the vanity of worldly power shifts abruptly as the speaker doubles back to scrutinize her own comparison: “But why do I blame spiders’ tyranny / When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?”). Rather than aligning humans with bloodsucking spiders, she denounces humans as more carnivorous than other creatures in their propensity to kill and eat other humans (their own “kind”). After positing a type of negative human exceptionalism, in which humans are the only truly cannibalistic creatures on Earth, she shifts to celebrate communities who choose vegetarianism and thus define their idea of “kind” more capaciously. In the final couplet of the poem, the speaker abruptly reverses course once again. “But stay my pen, write no more than is meet,” she says, punning on “meet” in the senses of “appropriate” and “flesh,” as she recalls that God expressly authorized human to eat animals within a grand food chain. The poem thus becomes a study in how to make and then rethink comparisons in ways that stabilize a conventional hierarchy of creatures. But the opening emblem’s lesson, in which the seemingly consumable dinner of the tiny fly overcomes the blood-thirsty spider, remains to haunt the poem: “Might the butchery that humans require for dinner come back to bite us?”

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This poem exemplifies Pulter’s strategy of complicating and even undercutting her own emblematic images. The poem initially analogizes human tyrants to a female spider, in order remind the reader that even tyrants succumb to death. Yet Pulter undermines the analogy in the poem’s subsequent lines. First, while the spider is female (perhaps an echo of classical and renaissance depictions of tyrants as unstable and effeminate), the only human tyrants she mentions are male.
Critical Note
See Rebecca Bushnell’s discussion of tyranny in Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theatre in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990).
1
More significantly, Pulter rejects the spider as a suitable analogy for human tyranny altogether at line 25, stating that man is far worse than the spider, and it is unfair to the spider to make the comparison. She even terms humans unique in their cannibalistic tendencies (seemingly ignoring other examples in her own emblem poems of animals eating their own kind). In so undercutting the poem’s initial premise, Pulter rejects the principle of analogy upon which emblem poems are based. Traditionally, readers are asked to identify with and learn from the emblematic image, based on that image being an analogue of some aspect of contemporary human life. In this poem, however, Pulter rejects the spider emblem as inadequate to the task of representing humanity’s tyrannical tendencies.
Pulter’s reference to “he that hath three Kingdoms in his power,” i.e., the three kingdoms comprising Great Britain, suggests that events of Pulter’s own time are the inspiration for this reconfiguration of conventional emblem form. The British reference—likely referencing Oliver Cromwell—invites contemporary readings in a poem previously reliant on classical and biblical allusions. It may not be coincidental, therefore, that this hitherto anomalous contemporary reference immediately precedes the rejection of the spider analogy. Pulter suggests that where conventional emblem principles may have been suitable for previous historical contexts, events like the English civil wars require a reimagining of emblem poems’ formal premises.
Perhaps it should not be surprising, therefore, that the second half of the poem introduces themes and texts seemingly out of character with the neoclassical bent of the earlier part of the poem. As Pulter moves from tyranny to cannibalism to praise of vegetarianism, the distance we have come thematically from the beginning of the poem is indexed by the difference between her earlier classical allusions and the Hindu Indian traders of her own time (“now”) lauded at line 34. Pulter likely draws her description of these “Banians” from Samuel Purchas’ Purchas his Pilgrimage (1626), a beloved work of travel writing which also inspired Pulter’s romance, The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter lauds these traders so extensively that the speaker literally has to remind herself to control her sympathies in the succeeding (and final) couplet.
The final couplet thus struggles to instill order on a poem that in many ways embraces disorder. Biblical allusions in these final lines assert a Christian natural order of being, with God over man and man over animals, thereby licensing mankind’s killing of animals for food. Yet this licensing appears weak, even resigning, following the poem’s earlier promotion of vegetarianism. Moreover, the closing couplet underscores the distance the poem has traveled from its initial discussion of tyranny. Discussion of Britain’s own tyrant remains unresolved, along with the personal vitriol evinced by the speaker herself.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
37
Physical Note
end of previous poem occupies first quarter of page; poem begins after another quarter page
Behold
how many Cobwebs doth invest
Behold how many cobwebs doth
Gloss Note
clothe, cover
invest
Behold how many Cobwebs doth invest
2
This ugly Spider in her nasty Nest
This ugly spider in her nasty nest,
This ugly
Critical Note
A common inspiration for emblem poems. See e.g., Emblem XVIII of Book 1 of George Wither’s A Collection of Emblemes (1635), which compares spiders to men who “without touch, of Conscience or Compassion, / Seeke how to be enricht by others wants, / And bring the Poore to utter desolation” (18).
Spider
in her nasty Nest
3
Where
Physical Note
apostrophe written directly over “o”
Barricado’d
Shee in Ambuſh lies
Where, barricaded, she in ambush lies,
Where Barricado’d She in Ambush lies
4
Domition^like to Murther Sportive fflyes
Critical Note
Domitian (51-96) was a Roman emperor who came to power when he and his father battled the general Vitellius. He was reputed to enjoy torturing and killing flies. “At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus” (Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars [Loeb Classical Library, 1914], p. 345).
Domitian-like
, to murder
Gloss Note
playful, lively
sportive
flies.
Gloss Note
Roman emperor Domitian (51–96 CE) was known for his autocratic rule, imposing harsh morality laws and executing members of his own family. He is also cited as an example of tyranny in Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), 144.
Domitian-like
to Murder Sportive Flies
5
Yet Such A Monsterous Spider once I Saw
Yet such a monstrous spider once I saw
Yet Such A Monstrous Spider once I Saw
6
That would with Eaſe, fflies, Waſps and Hornets draw
That would with ease flies, wasps and hornets draw
That would with Ease, Flies, Wasps and Hornets draw
7
Most Cruelly into her Duſty Nest
Most cruelly into her dusty nest;
Most Cruelly into her Dusty Nest
8
Then Tyrant Like Shee on their Blood would feast
Then, tyrant-like she on their blood would feast.
Then Tyrant-Like She on their Blood would feast
9
Yet did I See A Slender Azure fflye
Yet did I see a slender
Gloss Note
blue
azure
fly
Yet did I See A Slender Azure Fly
10
Physical Note
“Ma” appears original, but “ke” written over imperfectly erased letters, with imperfectly erased “te” visible after
Make
this blood Sucking Monster fall and die
Make this bloodsucking monster fall and die.
Make this blood Sucking Monster fall and die
11
Soe the most impious Tirants in the World
So the most
Gloss Note
wicked
impious
tyrants in the world,
So the most impious Tyrants in the World
12
Even in A moment to the Grave are Whorld
Even in a moment, to the grave are
Critical Note
Pulter often describes death in terms of the revolving of elements; see The Revolution [Poem 16], My Soul: Why Art Thou Full of Trouble? [Poem 40] and Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night [Poem 47]. The spelling in the manuscript of this word—“whorld”—further emphasizes its homonym, “world,” which Pulter’s poems portray as caught up in a cycle of rotations and turns that include death.
whirled
.
Even in A moment to the Grave are Whorled
that

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13
That King of Terrours doth by Sentence Just
That
Gloss Note
Death
king of terrors
doth by sentence just
That
Critical Note
Bildad warns in Job 18:14 that evil people will be destroyed and brought to the “king of terrors.” Pulter may have sourced the phrase from Job directly, or from the numerous early modern sermons and biblical commentaries which use the term to refer to Death. See, for instance, Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest (1650), which asks, “Why is death to men the King of terrors else?” (334).
King of Terrors
doth by Sentence Just
14
Grind even their very Skellitons to dust
Grind even their very skeletons to
Critical Note
Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
dust
;
Critical Note
The image of Death as a bone grinder is a recurrent one in Pulter’s poetry; she writes in The Center [Poem 30] for instance, that Death “triumphant [will] perform his lust / Grinding in (spite) our very bones to dust” (15–6). The image may allude to Dante’s Inferno, the final canto of which describes a three-headed Satan using each mouth “like a grinder” to torture Brutus, Cassius, and Judas (Dante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum [New York: Bantam, 2004], 34.55). This allusion is unlikely, however, as there is no evidence Pulter knew Italian and the Divine Comedy was not translated into English until the eighteenth century. The image may be a cultural commonplace. Considering Pulter’s representation of Death as a bone grinder is also noteworthy as part of the cyclical process of life and death Pulter depicts throughout her poetry: in grinding bones to dust, Death returns man to his original state of creation, what Pulter calls his “first Principles” (The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], l. 7). Usually Pulter follows such dissolution with an affirmation of resurrection: “The sleeping Dust will rise and speake,” she writes in The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] (see also The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]). Here, however, Pulter omits imagery of resurrection, portraying dust as the final, conclusive end of tyrants.
Grind even their very Skeletons to dust
15
When hee upon the pale Horſe doth apear
When
Critical Note
Death; see Revelations 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
he upon the pale horse
doth appear,
When he upon the
Critical Note
The pale horse is the last of the four horses of the Apocalypse described in Revelation. This horse is ridden by Death, and followed by Hell. Revelation 6:8 describes, “... [P]ower was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
pale Horse
doth appear
16
A Julianus then begins to fear
A
Critical Note
Roman emperor, also known as Julian the Apostate. Eardley cites Alexander Ross’s account of the legend of how Julian, having renounced religion and been injured, flung the blood from his wound into the air and cried out, “Thou has overcome me O Galilean” (referring to Christ). See Ross, The History of the World (London, 1652), p. 85.
Julianus
then begins to fear,
A
Critical Note
Flavius Claudius Julianus (331/32–363 CE), later known as “the Apostate,” converted away from the Christianity of the post-Constantine Roman Empire in his youth. Upon becoming emperor, Julian instituted a policy of pagan restoration, reinstating temple worship and sacrificial cults throughout the empire. Alexander Ross’s The History of the World (1652) (cited by Alice Eardley) notes that after being fatally shot in the liver, Julian flung his blood into the air and declared, “Thou hast overcome mee O Galilean”—a reference to Christ (85). Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’” (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 2:113.
Julianus
then begins to fear
17
Throwing his blood and Spirits in ye Skies
Throwing his blood and spirits in the skies,
Throwing his blood and Spirits in the Skies
18
Confes’d yet died in his Apostacies
Confessed, yet died, in his
Gloss Note
abandonment of one’s faith
apostasies
.
Confessed yet died in his Apostasies
19
What by the Wars was Alexanders gains
What by the wars was
Gloss Note
Alexander the Great, who reputedly died by poison
Alexander’s
gains
What by the Wars was Alexander’s gains
20
When guilt his Conſcience, poyſon Stung his veins
When guilt his conscience, poison, stung his veins?
When guilt his Conscience,
Gloss Note
The ill-founded theory that Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) was poisoned circulated widely in the Greco-Roman period as well as in later centuries, featuring, for example, in Machiavelli’s The Prince (Book XIX).
poison Stung his veins
21
Soe hee that hath three Kingdoms in his power
So
Gloss Note
Oliver Cromwell, who ruled over England, Ireland and Scotland
he that hath three kingdoms in his power
:
So
Critical Note
I agree with Alice Eardley in reading the lord of the “three Kingdoms” as a reference to Oliver Cromwell, who as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland between 1653 and 1658 (“An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes,” 2:114). Pulter similarly decries “they [that] have been three kingdoms’ sore annoyers” in On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7] a poem commemorating the deaths of two royalist leaders at the hands of the Parliamentarian army.
he that hath three Kingdoms in his power
22
What Comfort will they Yield that fatall hower
What comfort will they yield that fatal hour
What Comfort will they Yield that fatal hour
23
When as that Sea of Innocent blood Shall Rore
Gloss Note
when
Whenas
that sea of innocent blood shall roar
When as that
Critical Note
The language here seems allusive, perhaps referring to the sea of blood indicative of God’s judgment in Revelation 16:2–3. Yet the phrase “sea of innocent blood” is not uncommon; Milton uses it to condemn Charles I in Chapter 2 of Eikonoklastes, writing, “he thinks to scape that Sea of innocent blood wherein his own guilt inevitably hath plung’d him all over.”
Sea of Innocent blood
Shall Roar
24
To Heaven for vengence, who can but implore
To heaven for vengeance? Who can but
Gloss Note
request, pray for
implore
?
To Heaven for vengeance, who can but implore
25
But why doe I blame Spiders Tiranny
But why do I blame spider’s tyranny
But why do I blame Spider’s Tyranny
26
Who forc’t by Huger Kills a
Physical Note
descender on first “l” imperfectly erased and smudged
ſilly
fly
Who, forced by hunger, kills a
Gloss Note
helpless, insignificant, foolish
silly
fly,
Who forced by Hunger Kills a silly fly
27
When Man’s ye greatest Beast of prey of all
When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?
When Man’s the greatest
Critical Note
The comparison of man to a beast of prey is not unique to Pulter. Geoffrey Whitney includes in A Choice of Emblemes (1586) a poem with the epigram, Homo homini lupus (Man is a wolf to man). “No mortall foe so full of poysoned spite, / As man, to man, when mischiefe he pretendes,” Whitney writes (144). Like Pulter, he notes that man does not treat animals with such cruelty.
Beast of prey
of all
28
His houſ a Shamble is or Butchers Stall
His house a
Gloss Note
slaughterhouse or place where meat is sold
shamble
is, or butcher’s stall.
His house a Shamble is or Butcher’s Stall
29
In all thoſe Books w:ch I have Read I find
In all those books which I have read, I find
In
Critical Note
Such references to the author’s learnedness are common in emblem books, e.g., Geoffrey Whitney’s reference to “divers authors” in his emblem comparing man to a wolf (A Choice of Emblemes [1586], 144). As evidenced in this emblem, Pulter frequently demonstrates her familiarity with the Bible, Plutarch’s Lives, Pliny’s Natural History, and Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage; any of these may support Pulter’s assertion here, though Purchas His Pilgrimage seems particularly pertinent. Alice Eardley discusses Pulter’s sources in Chapter Two of "An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes'" (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 1:102-124.
all those Books which I have Read
I find
30
There’s none but Man doth Kill & Eat his Kind
There’s none but man doth kill and
Gloss Note
eat other humans
eat his kind
.
There’s
Critical Note
This phrase portrays humans as unique in killing other humans (“his Kind”). Unlike the spider, which only kills “silly fl[ies],” humans kill each other. Cf. Michel de Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals,” which uses a cannibalistic civilization to critique the acts carried out “under the cloak of piety and religion” in his own society: “I consider it more barbarous to eat a man alive than to eat him dead” (Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. J. M. Cohen [London: Penguin, 1993], 113). This claim of man’s unique cannibalism is an ironic one given The Cuckoo [Poem 94], which documents multiple cases of animals killing their own kind. Moreover, such cannibalism sits awkwardly adjacent to the following lines discussing vegetarianism; even if man should not “Eat his [own] Kind,” it does not necessarily imply he should not eat animals. Eliding the two implies a strange kinship between humans and animals that Pulter rejects in her final lines.
none but Man doth Kill and Eat his Kind
31
Physical Note
in left margin: “xAntidiluvian”
The
Physical Note
first “i” appears written over earlier “e”, “v” over “g”
xAntidiLuvian
Patriachs happie were
The
Gloss Note
according to the Bible, the male authorities who existed before the flood. See the final note on their reputed vegetarianism until Noah was given permission to eat animals after the flood.
antediluvian patriarchs
happy were
The
Critical Note
Tradition holds that humans were vegetarians before the worldwide flood recounted in Genesis. Following the receding of flood waters, God licenses Noah’s eating of meat, declaring, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Genesis 9:2–3).
Antediluvian Patriarchs
happy were
32
That liv’d by what the Earth did freely bear
That lived by what the earth did freely bear.
That lived by what the Earth did freely bear
33
The Pithagorions noe blood would spill
The
Gloss Note
Pythagoreans in the ancient Greek world abstained from eating animals partly because of their belief that humans and animals share a common soul, and partly because they appear to have considered the diet a healthier one.
Pythagoreans
no blood would spill;
The
Critical Note
It is unclear whether the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE) was himself a vegetarian. Regardless, his followers adhered to the vegetarian diet attributed to him, to such an extent that “vegetarianism” only replaced “pythagoreanism” in the nineteenth century. Pulter likely draws from Samuel Purchas’ widely popular Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626), which recounts the Banians’ “Pythagorean errour” in loosing animals meant for slaughter (542).
Pithagorions
no blood would spill
34
The Banians now noe Animals doe Kill
The
Gloss Note
Hindu traders
Banians
now no animals do kill
The
Critical Note
Hindu Indian traders. The language of “redeem[ing]” indicates Pulter’s likely use of Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626). In a section “Of the Banian and Cambayan Superstitions” (5.8.3), Purchas notes that the Banians “eat no flesh, nor ill any thing yea they redeem the beasts and birds maymed or sicke, and carry them to their Hospitals to be cured” (541).
Banians
now no Animals do Kill
35
But Such as Murtherers they doe Esteem
But such as murderers they do esteem
But Such as Murderers they do Esteem
36
And oft will buy thoſe Creatures to Redeem
Gloss Note
Hindu traders considered those who eat animal flesh to be murderers; they are reputed to have bought animals from butchers to save the animals’ lives.
And oft will buy those creatures to redeem.
And oft will buy those Creatures to
Critical Note
Pulter’s use of “Redeem”—likely derived from Purchas—is economic, denoting a financial exchange whereby the animals are bought back. Yet it is particularly ironic in this context. Instead of God redeeming mankind, as he does in the biblical stories referenced a few lines later, Hindus are redeeming animals, thereby practicing a belief in the sanctity of life absent from Pulter’s own Christian nation.
Redeem
37
But Stay my Pen write noe more then is meet
But stay my pen, write no more than is
Gloss Note
appropriate
meet
,
But Stay my Pen write no more then is
Gloss Note
Pulter may be punning on “meat/mete,” suggesting both that it is inappropriate to say more, and that meat should be eaten “no more.”
meet
38
Least I forget Noahs Licence, Peeters Sheet.
Lest I forget
Critical Note
After the flood, according to the Bible, Noah is given permission to eat animal flesh: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3). See also God’s injunction for Peter to eat meat: “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat” (Acts 10:10-13).
Noah’s license, Peter’s sheet
.
Least I forget
Critical Note
Pulter here recalls two biblical examples of God licensing the eating of animals: Genesis 9:2–3, when God tells Noah that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,” and Acts 10:9–16, when Peter receives a vision telling him to “kill, and eat” animals descending on a sheet from heaven, even those considered unclean by the Jews. Pulter thus rejects vegetarianism, even as she praises those who exhibit compassion towards animals. This final return to biblical text effectively suppresses the other religious paradigms that Pulter raises earlier, even as it reestablishes a traditional hierarchical order of being, with God ordaining humans as ascendant over the animals.
Noah’s License, Peter’s Sheet
.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Though the syntax, diction, capitalization, and spelling of Pulter’s poems may not conform to modern standards, it is analytically productive for the modern reader to consider the these elements as they appear in the manuscript; they may, for instance, create links between different parts of the text, emphasize particular words, or create syntactical slippage that encourages multiple interpretations. In order to retain Pulter’s unique poetic voice, as well as maintain the possibility of multiple interpretations created by her text, I take a conservative editorial approach. I have chosen not to modernize grammar, capitalization, or punctuation, and adhere to the original spelling in cases where doing so retains a particular tone or analytical complexity that would be lost in modernization (e.g. “then” in line 37, which if modernized to “than” would efface an alternate reading of the line).

 Headnote

This poem exemplifies Pulter’s strategy of complicating and even undercutting her own emblematic images. The poem initially analogizes human tyrants to a female spider, in order remind the reader that even tyrants succumb to death. Yet Pulter undermines the analogy in the poem’s subsequent lines. First, while the spider is female (perhaps an echo of classical and renaissance depictions of tyrants as unstable and effeminate), the only human tyrants she mentions are male.
Critical Note
See Rebecca Bushnell’s discussion of tyranny in Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theatre in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990).
1
More significantly, Pulter rejects the spider as a suitable analogy for human tyranny altogether at line 25, stating that man is far worse than the spider, and it is unfair to the spider to make the comparison. She even terms humans unique in their cannibalistic tendencies (seemingly ignoring other examples in her own emblem poems of animals eating their own kind). In so undercutting the poem’s initial premise, Pulter rejects the principle of analogy upon which emblem poems are based. Traditionally, readers are asked to identify with and learn from the emblematic image, based on that image being an analogue of some aspect of contemporary human life. In this poem, however, Pulter rejects the spider emblem as inadequate to the task of representing humanity’s tyrannical tendencies.
Pulter’s reference to “he that hath three Kingdoms in his power,” i.e., the three kingdoms comprising Great Britain, suggests that events of Pulter’s own time are the inspiration for this reconfiguration of conventional emblem form. The British reference—likely referencing Oliver Cromwell—invites contemporary readings in a poem previously reliant on classical and biblical allusions. It may not be coincidental, therefore, that this hitherto anomalous contemporary reference immediately precedes the rejection of the spider analogy. Pulter suggests that where conventional emblem principles may have been suitable for previous historical contexts, events like the English civil wars require a reimagining of emblem poems’ formal premises.
Perhaps it should not be surprising, therefore, that the second half of the poem introduces themes and texts seemingly out of character with the neoclassical bent of the earlier part of the poem. As Pulter moves from tyranny to cannibalism to praise of vegetarianism, the distance we have come thematically from the beginning of the poem is indexed by the difference between her earlier classical allusions and the Hindu Indian traders of her own time (“now”) lauded at line 34. Pulter likely draws her description of these “Banians” from Samuel Purchas’ Purchas his Pilgrimage (1626), a beloved work of travel writing which also inspired Pulter’s romance, The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter lauds these traders so extensively that the speaker literally has to remind herself to control her sympathies in the succeeding (and final) couplet.
The final couplet thus struggles to instill order on a poem that in many ways embraces disorder. Biblical allusions in these final lines assert a Christian natural order of being, with God over man and man over animals, thereby licensing mankind’s killing of animals for food. Yet this licensing appears weak, even resigning, following the poem’s earlier promotion of vegetarianism. Moreover, the closing couplet underscores the distance the poem has traveled from its initial discussion of tyranny. Discussion of Britain’s own tyrant remains unresolved, along with the personal vitriol evinced by the speaker herself.
Line number 2

 Critical note

A common inspiration for emblem poems. See e.g., Emblem XVIII of Book 1 of George Wither’s A Collection of Emblemes (1635), which compares spiders to men who “without touch, of Conscience or Compassion, / Seeke how to be enricht by others wants, / And bring the Poore to utter desolation” (18).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Roman emperor Domitian (51–96 CE) was known for his autocratic rule, imposing harsh morality laws and executing members of his own family. He is also cited as an example of tyranny in Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), 144.
Line number 13

 Critical note

Bildad warns in Job 18:14 that evil people will be destroyed and brought to the “king of terrors.” Pulter may have sourced the phrase from Job directly, or from the numerous early modern sermons and biblical commentaries which use the term to refer to Death. See, for instance, Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest (1650), which asks, “Why is death to men the King of terrors else?” (334).
Line number 14

 Critical note

The image of Death as a bone grinder is a recurrent one in Pulter’s poetry; she writes in The Center [Poem 30] for instance, that Death “triumphant [will] perform his lust / Grinding in (spite) our very bones to dust” (15–6). The image may allude to Dante’s Inferno, the final canto of which describes a three-headed Satan using each mouth “like a grinder” to torture Brutus, Cassius, and Judas (Dante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum [New York: Bantam, 2004], 34.55). This allusion is unlikely, however, as there is no evidence Pulter knew Italian and the Divine Comedy was not translated into English until the eighteenth century. The image may be a cultural commonplace. Considering Pulter’s representation of Death as a bone grinder is also noteworthy as part of the cyclical process of life and death Pulter depicts throughout her poetry: in grinding bones to dust, Death returns man to his original state of creation, what Pulter calls his “first Principles” (The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], l. 7). Usually Pulter follows such dissolution with an affirmation of resurrection: “The sleeping Dust will rise and speake,” she writes in The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] (see also The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]). Here, however, Pulter omits imagery of resurrection, portraying dust as the final, conclusive end of tyrants.
Line number 15

 Critical note

The pale horse is the last of the four horses of the Apocalypse described in Revelation. This horse is ridden by Death, and followed by Hell. Revelation 6:8 describes, “... [P]ower was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Line number 16

 Critical note

Flavius Claudius Julianus (331/32–363 CE), later known as “the Apostate,” converted away from the Christianity of the post-Constantine Roman Empire in his youth. Upon becoming emperor, Julian instituted a policy of pagan restoration, reinstating temple worship and sacrificial cults throughout the empire. Alexander Ross’s The History of the World (1652) (cited by Alice Eardley) notes that after being fatally shot in the liver, Julian flung his blood into the air and declared, “Thou hast overcome mee O Galilean”—a reference to Christ (85). Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’” (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 2:113.
Line number 20

 Gloss note

The ill-founded theory that Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) was poisoned circulated widely in the Greco-Roman period as well as in later centuries, featuring, for example, in Machiavelli’s The Prince (Book XIX).
Line number 21

 Critical note

I agree with Alice Eardley in reading the lord of the “three Kingdoms” as a reference to Oliver Cromwell, who as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland between 1653 and 1658 (“An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes,” 2:114). Pulter similarly decries “they [that] have been three kingdoms’ sore annoyers” in On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7] a poem commemorating the deaths of two royalist leaders at the hands of the Parliamentarian army.
Line number 23

 Critical note

The language here seems allusive, perhaps referring to the sea of blood indicative of God’s judgment in Revelation 16:2–3. Yet the phrase “sea of innocent blood” is not uncommon; Milton uses it to condemn Charles I in Chapter 2 of Eikonoklastes, writing, “he thinks to scape that Sea of innocent blood wherein his own guilt inevitably hath plung’d him all over.”
Line number 27

 Critical note

The comparison of man to a beast of prey is not unique to Pulter. Geoffrey Whitney includes in A Choice of Emblemes (1586) a poem with the epigram, Homo homini lupus (Man is a wolf to man). “No mortall foe so full of poysoned spite, / As man, to man, when mischiefe he pretendes,” Whitney writes (144). Like Pulter, he notes that man does not treat animals with such cruelty.
Line number 29

 Critical note

Such references to the author’s learnedness are common in emblem books, e.g., Geoffrey Whitney’s reference to “divers authors” in his emblem comparing man to a wolf (A Choice of Emblemes [1586], 144). As evidenced in this emblem, Pulter frequently demonstrates her familiarity with the Bible, Plutarch’s Lives, Pliny’s Natural History, and Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage; any of these may support Pulter’s assertion here, though Purchas His Pilgrimage seems particularly pertinent. Alice Eardley discusses Pulter’s sources in Chapter Two of "An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes'" (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 1:102-124.
Line number 30

 Critical note

This phrase portrays humans as unique in killing other humans (“his Kind”). Unlike the spider, which only kills “silly fl[ies],” humans kill each other. Cf. Michel de Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals,” which uses a cannibalistic civilization to critique the acts carried out “under the cloak of piety and religion” in his own society: “I consider it more barbarous to eat a man alive than to eat him dead” (Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. J. M. Cohen [London: Penguin, 1993], 113). This claim of man’s unique cannibalism is an ironic one given The Cuckoo [Poem 94], which documents multiple cases of animals killing their own kind. Moreover, such cannibalism sits awkwardly adjacent to the following lines discussing vegetarianism; even if man should not “Eat his [own] Kind,” it does not necessarily imply he should not eat animals. Eliding the two implies a strange kinship between humans and animals that Pulter rejects in her final lines.
Line number 31

 Critical note

Tradition holds that humans were vegetarians before the worldwide flood recounted in Genesis. Following the receding of flood waters, God licenses Noah’s eating of meat, declaring, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Genesis 9:2–3).
Line number 33

 Critical note

It is unclear whether the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE) was himself a vegetarian. Regardless, his followers adhered to the vegetarian diet attributed to him, to such an extent that “vegetarianism” only replaced “pythagoreanism” in the nineteenth century. Pulter likely draws from Samuel Purchas’ widely popular Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626), which recounts the Banians’ “Pythagorean errour” in loosing animals meant for slaughter (542).
Line number 34

 Critical note

Hindu Indian traders. The language of “redeem[ing]” indicates Pulter’s likely use of Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626). In a section “Of the Banian and Cambayan Superstitions” (5.8.3), Purchas notes that the Banians “eat no flesh, nor ill any thing yea they redeem the beasts and birds maymed or sicke, and carry them to their Hospitals to be cured” (541).
Line number 36

 Critical note

Pulter’s use of “Redeem”—likely derived from Purchas—is economic, denoting a financial exchange whereby the animals are bought back. Yet it is particularly ironic in this context. Instead of God redeeming mankind, as he does in the biblical stories referenced a few lines later, Hindus are redeeming animals, thereby practicing a belief in the sanctity of life absent from Pulter’s own Christian nation.
Line number 37

 Gloss note

Pulter may be punning on “meat/mete,” suggesting both that it is inappropriate to say more, and that meat should be eaten “no more.”
Line number 38

 Critical note

Pulter here recalls two biblical examples of God licensing the eating of animals: Genesis 9:2–3, when God tells Noah that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,” and Acts 10:9–16, when Peter receives a vision telling him to “kill, and eat” animals descending on a sheet from heaven, even those considered unclean by the Jews. Pulter thus rejects vegetarianism, even as she praises those who exhibit compassion towards animals. This final return to biblical text effectively suppresses the other religious paradigms that Pulter raises earlier, even as it reestablishes a traditional hierarchical order of being, with God ordaining humans as ascendant over the animals.
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[Emblem 37]
The Ugly Spider
(Emblem 37)
Emblem 37
In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.

— Rachel Zhang
The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.

— Rachel Zhang
Though the syntax, diction, capitalization, and spelling of Pulter’s poems may not conform to modern standards, it is analytically productive for the modern reader to consider the these elements as they appear in the manuscript; they may, for instance, create links between different parts of the text, emphasize particular words, or create syntactical slippage that encourages multiple interpretations. In order to retain Pulter’s unique poetic voice, as well as maintain the possibility of multiple interpretations created by her text, I take a conservative editorial approach. I have chosen not to modernize grammar, capitalization, or punctuation, and adhere to the original spelling in cases where doing so retains a particular tone or analytical complexity that would be lost in modernization (e.g. “then” in line 37, which if modernized to “than” would efface an alternate reading of the line).

— Rachel Zhang
This emblem takes up two vices—tyranny and meat-eating—each spun from the emblematic reading of a powerful spider who is undone by the tiny fly she eats. From the fly’s example, the speaker catalogues classical emperors, warriors, and rulers who are all undone, in the end, by their short-sighted sinfulness. What seems to be a poem about the vanity of worldly power shifts abruptly as the speaker doubles back to scrutinize her own comparison: “But why do I blame spiders’ tyranny / When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?”). Rather than aligning humans with bloodsucking spiders, she denounces humans as more carnivorous than other creatures in their propensity to kill and eat other humans (their own “kind”). After positing a type of negative human exceptionalism, in which humans are the only truly cannibalistic creatures on Earth, she shifts to celebrate communities who choose vegetarianism and thus define their idea of “kind” more capaciously. In the final couplet of the poem, the speaker abruptly reverses course once again. “But stay my pen, write no more than is meet,” she says, punning on “meet” in the senses of “appropriate” and “flesh,” as she recalls that God expressly authorized human to eat animals within a grand food chain. The poem thus becomes a study in how to make and then rethink comparisons in ways that stabilize a conventional hierarchy of creatures. But the opening emblem’s lesson, in which the seemingly consumable dinner of the tiny fly overcomes the blood-thirsty spider, remains to haunt the poem: “Might the butchery that humans require for dinner come back to bite us?”

— Rachel Zhang
This poem exemplifies Pulter’s strategy of complicating and even undercutting her own emblematic images. The poem initially analogizes human tyrants to a female spider, in order remind the reader that even tyrants succumb to death. Yet Pulter undermines the analogy in the poem’s subsequent lines. First, while the spider is female (perhaps an echo of classical and renaissance depictions of tyrants as unstable and effeminate), the only human tyrants she mentions are male.
Critical Note
See Rebecca Bushnell’s discussion of tyranny in Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theatre in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990).
1
More significantly, Pulter rejects the spider as a suitable analogy for human tyranny altogether at line 25, stating that man is far worse than the spider, and it is unfair to the spider to make the comparison. She even terms humans unique in their cannibalistic tendencies (seemingly ignoring other examples in her own emblem poems of animals eating their own kind). In so undercutting the poem’s initial premise, Pulter rejects the principle of analogy upon which emblem poems are based. Traditionally, readers are asked to identify with and learn from the emblematic image, based on that image being an analogue of some aspect of contemporary human life. In this poem, however, Pulter rejects the spider emblem as inadequate to the task of representing humanity’s tyrannical tendencies.
Pulter’s reference to “he that hath three Kingdoms in his power,” i.e., the three kingdoms comprising Great Britain, suggests that events of Pulter’s own time are the inspiration for this reconfiguration of conventional emblem form. The British reference—likely referencing Oliver Cromwell—invites contemporary readings in a poem previously reliant on classical and biblical allusions. It may not be coincidental, therefore, that this hitherto anomalous contemporary reference immediately precedes the rejection of the spider analogy. Pulter suggests that where conventional emblem principles may have been suitable for previous historical contexts, events like the English civil wars require a reimagining of emblem poems’ formal premises.
Perhaps it should not be surprising, therefore, that the second half of the poem introduces themes and texts seemingly out of character with the neoclassical bent of the earlier part of the poem. As Pulter moves from tyranny to cannibalism to praise of vegetarianism, the distance we have come thematically from the beginning of the poem is indexed by the difference between her earlier classical allusions and the Hindu Indian traders of her own time (“now”) lauded at line 34. Pulter likely draws her description of these “Banians” from Samuel Purchas’ Purchas his Pilgrimage (1626), a beloved work of travel writing which also inspired Pulter’s romance, The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter lauds these traders so extensively that the speaker literally has to remind herself to control her sympathies in the succeeding (and final) couplet.
The final couplet thus struggles to instill order on a poem that in many ways embraces disorder. Biblical allusions in these final lines assert a Christian natural order of being, with God over man and man over animals, thereby licensing mankind’s killing of animals for food. Yet this licensing appears weak, even resigning, following the poem’s earlier promotion of vegetarianism. Moreover, the closing couplet underscores the distance the poem has traveled from its initial discussion of tyranny. Discussion of Britain’s own tyrant remains unresolved, along with the personal vitriol evinced by the speaker herself.


— Rachel Zhang
1
37
Physical Note
end of previous poem occupies first quarter of page; poem begins after another quarter page
Behold
how many Cobwebs doth invest
Behold how many cobwebs doth
Gloss Note
clothe, cover
invest
Behold how many Cobwebs doth invest
2
This ugly Spider in her nasty Nest
This ugly spider in her nasty nest,
This ugly
Critical Note
A common inspiration for emblem poems. See e.g., Emblem XVIII of Book 1 of George Wither’s A Collection of Emblemes (1635), which compares spiders to men who “without touch, of Conscience or Compassion, / Seeke how to be enricht by others wants, / And bring the Poore to utter desolation” (18).
Spider
in her nasty Nest
3
Where
Physical Note
apostrophe written directly over “o”
Barricado’d
Shee in Ambuſh lies
Where, barricaded, she in ambush lies,
Where Barricado’d She in Ambush lies
4
Domition^like to Murther Sportive fflyes
Critical Note
Domitian (51-96) was a Roman emperor who came to power when he and his father battled the general Vitellius. He was reputed to enjoy torturing and killing flies. “At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus” (Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars [Loeb Classical Library, 1914], p. 345).
Domitian-like
, to murder
Gloss Note
playful, lively
sportive
flies.
Gloss Note
Roman emperor Domitian (51–96 CE) was known for his autocratic rule, imposing harsh morality laws and executing members of his own family. He is also cited as an example of tyranny in Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), 144.
Domitian-like
to Murder Sportive Flies
5
Yet Such A Monsterous Spider once I Saw
Yet such a monstrous spider once I saw
Yet Such A Monstrous Spider once I Saw
6
That would with Eaſe, fflies, Waſps and Hornets draw
That would with ease flies, wasps and hornets draw
That would with Ease, Flies, Wasps and Hornets draw
7
Most Cruelly into her Duſty Nest
Most cruelly into her dusty nest;
Most Cruelly into her Dusty Nest
8
Then Tyrant Like Shee on their Blood would feast
Then, tyrant-like she on their blood would feast.
Then Tyrant-Like She on their Blood would feast
9
Yet did I See A Slender Azure fflye
Yet did I see a slender
Gloss Note
blue
azure
fly
Yet did I See A Slender Azure Fly
10
Physical Note
“Ma” appears original, but “ke” written over imperfectly erased letters, with imperfectly erased “te” visible after
Make
this blood Sucking Monster fall and die
Make this bloodsucking monster fall and die.
Make this blood Sucking Monster fall and die
11
Soe the most impious Tirants in the World
So the most
Gloss Note
wicked
impious
tyrants in the world,
So the most impious Tyrants in the World
12
Even in A moment to the Grave are Whorld
Even in a moment, to the grave are
Critical Note
Pulter often describes death in terms of the revolving of elements; see The Revolution [Poem 16], My Soul: Why Art Thou Full of Trouble? [Poem 40] and Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night [Poem 47]. The spelling in the manuscript of this word—“whorld”—further emphasizes its homonym, “world,” which Pulter’s poems portray as caught up in a cycle of rotations and turns that include death.
whirled
.
Even in A moment to the Grave are Whorled
that

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13
That King of Terrours doth by Sentence Just
That
Gloss Note
Death
king of terrors
doth by sentence just
That
Critical Note
Bildad warns in Job 18:14 that evil people will be destroyed and brought to the “king of terrors.” Pulter may have sourced the phrase from Job directly, or from the numerous early modern sermons and biblical commentaries which use the term to refer to Death. See, for instance, Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest (1650), which asks, “Why is death to men the King of terrors else?” (334).
King of Terrors
doth by Sentence Just
14
Grind even their very Skellitons to dust
Grind even their very skeletons to
Critical Note
Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
dust
;
Critical Note
The image of Death as a bone grinder is a recurrent one in Pulter’s poetry; she writes in The Center [Poem 30] for instance, that Death “triumphant [will] perform his lust / Grinding in (spite) our very bones to dust” (15–6). The image may allude to Dante’s Inferno, the final canto of which describes a three-headed Satan using each mouth “like a grinder” to torture Brutus, Cassius, and Judas (Dante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum [New York: Bantam, 2004], 34.55). This allusion is unlikely, however, as there is no evidence Pulter knew Italian and the Divine Comedy was not translated into English until the eighteenth century. The image may be a cultural commonplace. Considering Pulter’s representation of Death as a bone grinder is also noteworthy as part of the cyclical process of life and death Pulter depicts throughout her poetry: in grinding bones to dust, Death returns man to his original state of creation, what Pulter calls his “first Principles” (The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], l. 7). Usually Pulter follows such dissolution with an affirmation of resurrection: “The sleeping Dust will rise and speake,” she writes in The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] (see also The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]). Here, however, Pulter omits imagery of resurrection, portraying dust as the final, conclusive end of tyrants.
Grind even their very Skeletons to dust
15
When hee upon the pale Horſe doth apear
When
Critical Note
Death; see Revelations 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
he upon the pale horse
doth appear,
When he upon the
Critical Note
The pale horse is the last of the four horses of the Apocalypse described in Revelation. This horse is ridden by Death, and followed by Hell. Revelation 6:8 describes, “... [P]ower was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
pale Horse
doth appear
16
A Julianus then begins to fear
A
Critical Note
Roman emperor, also known as Julian the Apostate. Eardley cites Alexander Ross’s account of the legend of how Julian, having renounced religion and been injured, flung the blood from his wound into the air and cried out, “Thou has overcome me O Galilean” (referring to Christ). See Ross, The History of the World (London, 1652), p. 85.
Julianus
then begins to fear,
A
Critical Note
Flavius Claudius Julianus (331/32–363 CE), later known as “the Apostate,” converted away from the Christianity of the post-Constantine Roman Empire in his youth. Upon becoming emperor, Julian instituted a policy of pagan restoration, reinstating temple worship and sacrificial cults throughout the empire. Alexander Ross’s The History of the World (1652) (cited by Alice Eardley) notes that after being fatally shot in the liver, Julian flung his blood into the air and declared, “Thou hast overcome mee O Galilean”—a reference to Christ (85). Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’” (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 2:113.
Julianus
then begins to fear
17
Throwing his blood and Spirits in ye Skies
Throwing his blood and spirits in the skies,
Throwing his blood and Spirits in the Skies
18
Confes’d yet died in his Apostacies
Confessed, yet died, in his
Gloss Note
abandonment of one’s faith
apostasies
.
Confessed yet died in his Apostasies
19
What by the Wars was Alexanders gains
What by the wars was
Gloss Note
Alexander the Great, who reputedly died by poison
Alexander’s
gains
What by the Wars was Alexander’s gains
20
When guilt his Conſcience, poyſon Stung his veins
When guilt his conscience, poison, stung his veins?
When guilt his Conscience,
Gloss Note
The ill-founded theory that Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) was poisoned circulated widely in the Greco-Roman period as well as in later centuries, featuring, for example, in Machiavelli’s The Prince (Book XIX).
poison Stung his veins
21
Soe hee that hath three Kingdoms in his power
So
Gloss Note
Oliver Cromwell, who ruled over England, Ireland and Scotland
he that hath three kingdoms in his power
:
So
Critical Note
I agree with Alice Eardley in reading the lord of the “three Kingdoms” as a reference to Oliver Cromwell, who as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland between 1653 and 1658 (“An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes,” 2:114). Pulter similarly decries “they [that] have been three kingdoms’ sore annoyers” in On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7] a poem commemorating the deaths of two royalist leaders at the hands of the Parliamentarian army.
he that hath three Kingdoms in his power
22
What Comfort will they Yield that fatall hower
What comfort will they yield that fatal hour
What Comfort will they Yield that fatal hour
23
When as that Sea of Innocent blood Shall Rore
Gloss Note
when
Whenas
that sea of innocent blood shall roar
When as that
Critical Note
The language here seems allusive, perhaps referring to the sea of blood indicative of God’s judgment in Revelation 16:2–3. Yet the phrase “sea of innocent blood” is not uncommon; Milton uses it to condemn Charles I in Chapter 2 of Eikonoklastes, writing, “he thinks to scape that Sea of innocent blood wherein his own guilt inevitably hath plung’d him all over.”
Sea of Innocent blood
Shall Roar
24
To Heaven for vengence, who can but implore
To heaven for vengeance? Who can but
Gloss Note
request, pray for
implore
?
To Heaven for vengeance, who can but implore
25
But why doe I blame Spiders Tiranny
But why do I blame spider’s tyranny
But why do I blame Spider’s Tyranny
26
Who forc’t by Huger Kills a
Physical Note
descender on first “l” imperfectly erased and smudged
ſilly
fly
Who, forced by hunger, kills a
Gloss Note
helpless, insignificant, foolish
silly
fly,
Who forced by Hunger Kills a silly fly
27
When Man’s ye greatest Beast of prey of all
When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?
When Man’s the greatest
Critical Note
The comparison of man to a beast of prey is not unique to Pulter. Geoffrey Whitney includes in A Choice of Emblemes (1586) a poem with the epigram, Homo homini lupus (Man is a wolf to man). “No mortall foe so full of poysoned spite, / As man, to man, when mischiefe he pretendes,” Whitney writes (144). Like Pulter, he notes that man does not treat animals with such cruelty.
Beast of prey
of all
28
His houſ a Shamble is or Butchers Stall
His house a
Gloss Note
slaughterhouse or place where meat is sold
shamble
is, or butcher’s stall.
His house a Shamble is or Butcher’s Stall
29
In all thoſe Books w:ch I have Read I find
In all those books which I have read, I find
In
Critical Note
Such references to the author’s learnedness are common in emblem books, e.g., Geoffrey Whitney’s reference to “divers authors” in his emblem comparing man to a wolf (A Choice of Emblemes [1586], 144). As evidenced in this emblem, Pulter frequently demonstrates her familiarity with the Bible, Plutarch’s Lives, Pliny’s Natural History, and Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage; any of these may support Pulter’s assertion here, though Purchas His Pilgrimage seems particularly pertinent. Alice Eardley discusses Pulter’s sources in Chapter Two of "An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes'" (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 1:102-124.
all those Books which I have Read
I find
30
There’s none but Man doth Kill & Eat his Kind
There’s none but man doth kill and
Gloss Note
eat other humans
eat his kind
.
There’s
Critical Note
This phrase portrays humans as unique in killing other humans (“his Kind”). Unlike the spider, which only kills “silly fl[ies],” humans kill each other. Cf. Michel de Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals,” which uses a cannibalistic civilization to critique the acts carried out “under the cloak of piety and religion” in his own society: “I consider it more barbarous to eat a man alive than to eat him dead” (Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. J. M. Cohen [London: Penguin, 1993], 113). This claim of man’s unique cannibalism is an ironic one given The Cuckoo [Poem 94], which documents multiple cases of animals killing their own kind. Moreover, such cannibalism sits awkwardly adjacent to the following lines discussing vegetarianism; even if man should not “Eat his [own] Kind,” it does not necessarily imply he should not eat animals. Eliding the two implies a strange kinship between humans and animals that Pulter rejects in her final lines.
none but Man doth Kill and Eat his Kind
31
Physical Note
in left margin: “xAntidiluvian”
The
Physical Note
first “i” appears written over earlier “e”, “v” over “g”
xAntidiLuvian
Patriachs happie were
The
Gloss Note
according to the Bible, the male authorities who existed before the flood. See the final note on their reputed vegetarianism until Noah was given permission to eat animals after the flood.
antediluvian patriarchs
happy were
The
Critical Note
Tradition holds that humans were vegetarians before the worldwide flood recounted in Genesis. Following the receding of flood waters, God licenses Noah’s eating of meat, declaring, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Genesis 9:2–3).
Antediluvian Patriarchs
happy were
32
That liv’d by what the Earth did freely bear
That lived by what the earth did freely bear.
That lived by what the Earth did freely bear
33
The Pithagorions noe blood would spill
The
Gloss Note
Pythagoreans in the ancient Greek world abstained from eating animals partly because of their belief that humans and animals share a common soul, and partly because they appear to have considered the diet a healthier one.
Pythagoreans
no blood would spill;
The
Critical Note
It is unclear whether the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE) was himself a vegetarian. Regardless, his followers adhered to the vegetarian diet attributed to him, to such an extent that “vegetarianism” only replaced “pythagoreanism” in the nineteenth century. Pulter likely draws from Samuel Purchas’ widely popular Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626), which recounts the Banians’ “Pythagorean errour” in loosing animals meant for slaughter (542).
Pithagorions
no blood would spill
34
The Banians now noe Animals doe Kill
The
Gloss Note
Hindu traders
Banians
now no animals do kill
The
Critical Note
Hindu Indian traders. The language of “redeem[ing]” indicates Pulter’s likely use of Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626). In a section “Of the Banian and Cambayan Superstitions” (5.8.3), Purchas notes that the Banians “eat no flesh, nor ill any thing yea they redeem the beasts and birds maymed or sicke, and carry them to their Hospitals to be cured” (541).
Banians
now no Animals do Kill
35
But Such as Murtherers they doe Esteem
But such as murderers they do esteem
But Such as Murderers they do Esteem
36
And oft will buy thoſe Creatures to Redeem
Gloss Note
Hindu traders considered those who eat animal flesh to be murderers; they are reputed to have bought animals from butchers to save the animals’ lives.
And oft will buy those creatures to redeem.
And oft will buy those Creatures to
Critical Note
Pulter’s use of “Redeem”—likely derived from Purchas—is economic, denoting a financial exchange whereby the animals are bought back. Yet it is particularly ironic in this context. Instead of God redeeming mankind, as he does in the biblical stories referenced a few lines later, Hindus are redeeming animals, thereby practicing a belief in the sanctity of life absent from Pulter’s own Christian nation.
Redeem
37
But Stay my Pen write noe more then is meet
But stay my pen, write no more than is
Gloss Note
appropriate
meet
,
But Stay my Pen write no more then is
Gloss Note
Pulter may be punning on “meat/mete,” suggesting both that it is inappropriate to say more, and that meat should be eaten “no more.”
meet
38
Least I forget Noahs Licence, Peeters Sheet.
Lest I forget
Critical Note
After the flood, according to the Bible, Noah is given permission to eat animal flesh: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3). See also God’s injunction for Peter to eat meat: “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat” (Acts 10:10-13).
Noah’s license, Peter’s sheet
.
Least I forget
Critical Note
Pulter here recalls two biblical examples of God licensing the eating of animals: Genesis 9:2–3, when God tells Noah that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,” and Acts 10:9–16, when Peter receives a vision telling him to “kill, and eat” animals descending on a sheet from heaven, even those considered unclean by the Jews. Pulter thus rejects vegetarianism, even as she praises those who exhibit compassion towards animals. This final return to biblical text effectively suppresses the other religious paradigms that Pulter raises earlier, even as it reestablishes a traditional hierarchical order of being, with God ordaining humans as ascendant over the animals.
Noah’s License, Peter’s Sheet
.
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Transcription

 Editorial note

In these transcriptions we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Whenever possible, for instance, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, insertions, deletions, alterations, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are all maintained; abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; and superscript and subscript representations are retained. See full conventions for the transcriptions here.
Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition is to make the poems accessible to the largest variety of readers, which involves modernizing spelling and punctuation as well as adding basic glosses. Spelling and punctuation reflect current standard American usage; punctuation highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. Outmoded but still familiar word forms (“thou,” “‘tis,” “hold’st”) are not modernized, and we do not modernize grammar when the sense remains legible. After a brief headnote aimed at offering a “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries, the edition features a minimum of notes and interpretative framing to allow more immediate engagement with the poem. Glosses clarify synonyms or showcase various possible meanings in Pulter’s time. Other notes identify named people and places or clarify obscure material. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter’s work, we cite her text generally (“Eardley”); other sources are cited in full. The result is an edition we consider a springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry. See full conventions for this edition here.
Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

Though the syntax, diction, capitalization, and spelling of Pulter’s poems may not conform to modern standards, it is analytically productive for the modern reader to consider the these elements as they appear in the manuscript; they may, for instance, create links between different parts of the text, emphasize particular words, or create syntactical slippage that encourages multiple interpretations. In order to retain Pulter’s unique poetic voice, as well as maintain the possibility of multiple interpretations created by her text, I take a conservative editorial approach. I have chosen not to modernize grammar, capitalization, or punctuation, and adhere to the original spelling in cases where doing so retains a particular tone or analytical complexity that would be lost in modernization (e.g. “then” in line 37, which if modernized to “than” would efface an alternate reading of the line).
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

This emblem takes up two vices—tyranny and meat-eating—each spun from the emblematic reading of a powerful spider who is undone by the tiny fly she eats. From the fly’s example, the speaker catalogues classical emperors, warriors, and rulers who are all undone, in the end, by their short-sighted sinfulness. What seems to be a poem about the vanity of worldly power shifts abruptly as the speaker doubles back to scrutinize her own comparison: “But why do I blame spiders’ tyranny / When man’s the greatest beast of prey of all?”). Rather than aligning humans with bloodsucking spiders, she denounces humans as more carnivorous than other creatures in their propensity to kill and eat other humans (their own “kind”). After positing a type of negative human exceptionalism, in which humans are the only truly cannibalistic creatures on Earth, she shifts to celebrate communities who choose vegetarianism and thus define their idea of “kind” more capaciously. In the final couplet of the poem, the speaker abruptly reverses course once again. “But stay my pen, write no more than is meet,” she says, punning on “meet” in the senses of “appropriate” and “flesh,” as she recalls that God expressly authorized human to eat animals within a grand food chain. The poem thus becomes a study in how to make and then rethink comparisons in ways that stabilize a conventional hierarchy of creatures. But the opening emblem’s lesson, in which the seemingly consumable dinner of the tiny fly overcomes the blood-thirsty spider, remains to haunt the poem: “Might the butchery that humans require for dinner come back to bite us?”
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This poem exemplifies Pulter’s strategy of complicating and even undercutting her own emblematic images. The poem initially analogizes human tyrants to a female spider, in order remind the reader that even tyrants succumb to death. Yet Pulter undermines the analogy in the poem’s subsequent lines. First, while the spider is female (perhaps an echo of classical and renaissance depictions of tyrants as unstable and effeminate), the only human tyrants she mentions are male.
Critical Note
See Rebecca Bushnell’s discussion of tyranny in Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theatre in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990).
1
More significantly, Pulter rejects the spider as a suitable analogy for human tyranny altogether at line 25, stating that man is far worse than the spider, and it is unfair to the spider to make the comparison. She even terms humans unique in their cannibalistic tendencies (seemingly ignoring other examples in her own emblem poems of animals eating their own kind). In so undercutting the poem’s initial premise, Pulter rejects the principle of analogy upon which emblem poems are based. Traditionally, readers are asked to identify with and learn from the emblematic image, based on that image being an analogue of some aspect of contemporary human life. In this poem, however, Pulter rejects the spider emblem as inadequate to the task of representing humanity’s tyrannical tendencies.
Pulter’s reference to “he that hath three Kingdoms in his power,” i.e., the three kingdoms comprising Great Britain, suggests that events of Pulter’s own time are the inspiration for this reconfiguration of conventional emblem form. The British reference—likely referencing Oliver Cromwell—invites contemporary readings in a poem previously reliant on classical and biblical allusions. It may not be coincidental, therefore, that this hitherto anomalous contemporary reference immediately precedes the rejection of the spider analogy. Pulter suggests that where conventional emblem principles may have been suitable for previous historical contexts, events like the English civil wars require a reimagining of emblem poems’ formal premises.
Perhaps it should not be surprising, therefore, that the second half of the poem introduces themes and texts seemingly out of character with the neoclassical bent of the earlier part of the poem. As Pulter moves from tyranny to cannibalism to praise of vegetarianism, the distance we have come thematically from the beginning of the poem is indexed by the difference between her earlier classical allusions and the Hindu Indian traders of her own time (“now”) lauded at line 34. Pulter likely draws her description of these “Banians” from Samuel Purchas’ Purchas his Pilgrimage (1626), a beloved work of travel writing which also inspired Pulter’s romance, The Unfortunate Florinda. Pulter lauds these traders so extensively that the speaker literally has to remind herself to control her sympathies in the succeeding (and final) couplet.
The final couplet thus struggles to instill order on a poem that in many ways embraces disorder. Biblical allusions in these final lines assert a Christian natural order of being, with God over man and man over animals, thereby licensing mankind’s killing of animals for food. Yet this licensing appears weak, even resigning, following the poem’s earlier promotion of vegetarianism. Moreover, the closing couplet underscores the distance the poem has traveled from its initial discussion of tyranny. Discussion of Britain’s own tyrant remains unresolved, along with the personal vitriol evinced by the speaker herself.
Transcription
Line number 1

 Physical note

end of previous poem occupies first quarter of page; poem begins after another quarter page
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

clothe, cover
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

A common inspiration for emblem poems. See e.g., Emblem XVIII of Book 1 of George Wither’s A Collection of Emblemes (1635), which compares spiders to men who “without touch, of Conscience or Compassion, / Seeke how to be enricht by others wants, / And bring the Poore to utter desolation” (18).
Transcription
Line number 3

 Physical note

apostrophe written directly over “o”
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Critical note

Domitian (51-96) was a Roman emperor who came to power when he and his father battled the general Vitellius. He was reputed to enjoy torturing and killing flies. “At the beginning of his reign he used to spend hours in seclusion every day, doing nothing but catch flies and stab them with a keenly-sharpened stylus” (Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars [Loeb Classical Library, 1914], p. 345).
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

playful, lively
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Roman emperor Domitian (51–96 CE) was known for his autocratic rule, imposing harsh morality laws and executing members of his own family. He is also cited as an example of tyranny in Peacham, Minerva Britanna (1612), 144.
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

blue
Transcription
Line number 10

 Physical note

“Ma” appears original, but “ke” written over imperfectly erased letters, with imperfectly erased “te” visible after
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

wicked
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

Pulter often describes death in terms of the revolving of elements; see The Revolution [Poem 16], My Soul: Why Art Thou Full of Trouble? [Poem 40] and Why Art Thou Sad at the Approach of Night [Poem 47]. The spelling in the manuscript of this word—“whorld”—further emphasizes its homonym, “world,” which Pulter’s poems portray as caught up in a cycle of rotations and turns that include death.
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Gloss note

Death
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Bildad warns in Job 18:14 that evil people will be destroyed and brought to the “king of terrors.” Pulter may have sourced the phrase from Job directly, or from the numerous early modern sermons and biblical commentaries which use the term to refer to Death. See, for instance, Richard Baxter, The Saints Everlasting Rest (1650), which asks, “Why is death to men the King of terrors else?” (334).
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

The image of Death as a bone grinder is a recurrent one in Pulter’s poetry; she writes in The Center [Poem 30] for instance, that Death “triumphant [will] perform his lust / Grinding in (spite) our very bones to dust” (15–6). The image may allude to Dante’s Inferno, the final canto of which describes a three-headed Satan using each mouth “like a grinder” to torture Brutus, Cassius, and Judas (Dante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. Allen Mandelbaum [New York: Bantam, 2004], 34.55). This allusion is unlikely, however, as there is no evidence Pulter knew Italian and the Divine Comedy was not translated into English until the eighteenth century. The image may be a cultural commonplace. Considering Pulter’s representation of Death as a bone grinder is also noteworthy as part of the cyclical process of life and death Pulter depicts throughout her poetry: in grinding bones to dust, Death returns man to his original state of creation, what Pulter calls his “first Principles” (The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], l. 7). Usually Pulter follows such dissolution with an affirmation of resurrection: “The sleeping Dust will rise and speake,” she writes in The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] (see also The Welcome [2] [Poem 33], To Aurora [3] [Poem 34]). Here, however, Pulter omits imagery of resurrection, portraying dust as the final, conclusive end of tyrants.
Elemental Edition
Line number 15

 Critical note

Death; see Revelations 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Critical note

The pale horse is the last of the four horses of the Apocalypse described in Revelation. This horse is ridden by Death, and followed by Hell. Revelation 6:8 describes, “... [P]ower was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Roman emperor, also known as Julian the Apostate. Eardley cites Alexander Ross’s account of the legend of how Julian, having renounced religion and been injured, flung the blood from his wound into the air and cried out, “Thou has overcome me O Galilean” (referring to Christ). See Ross, The History of the World (London, 1652), p. 85.
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Flavius Claudius Julianus (331/32–363 CE), later known as “the Apostate,” converted away from the Christianity of the post-Constantine Roman Empire in his youth. Upon becoming emperor, Julian instituted a policy of pagan restoration, reinstating temple worship and sacrificial cults throughout the empire. Alexander Ross’s The History of the World (1652) (cited by Alice Eardley) notes that after being fatally shot in the liver, Julian flung his blood into the air and declared, “Thou hast overcome mee O Galilean”—a reference to Christ (85). Eardley, “An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes’” (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 2:113.
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

abandonment of one’s faith
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

Alexander the Great, who reputedly died by poison
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Gloss note

The ill-founded theory that Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) was poisoned circulated widely in the Greco-Roman period as well as in later centuries, featuring, for example, in Machiavelli’s The Prince (Book XIX).
Elemental Edition
Line number 21

 Gloss note

Oliver Cromwell, who ruled over England, Ireland and Scotland
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note

I agree with Alice Eardley in reading the lord of the “three Kingdoms” as a reference to Oliver Cromwell, who as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland between 1653 and 1658 (“An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes,” 2:114). Pulter similarly decries “they [that] have been three kingdoms’ sore annoyers” in On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7] a poem commemorating the deaths of two royalist leaders at the hands of the Parliamentarian army.
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

when
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

The language here seems allusive, perhaps referring to the sea of blood indicative of God’s judgment in Revelation 16:2–3. Yet the phrase “sea of innocent blood” is not uncommon; Milton uses it to condemn Charles I in Chapter 2 of Eikonoklastes, writing, “he thinks to scape that Sea of innocent blood wherein his own guilt inevitably hath plung’d him all over.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

request, pray for
Transcription
Line number 26

 Physical note

descender on first “l” imperfectly erased and smudged
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

helpless, insignificant, foolish
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Critical note

The comparison of man to a beast of prey is not unique to Pulter. Geoffrey Whitney includes in A Choice of Emblemes (1586) a poem with the epigram, Homo homini lupus (Man is a wolf to man). “No mortall foe so full of poysoned spite, / As man, to man, when mischiefe he pretendes,” Whitney writes (144). Like Pulter, he notes that man does not treat animals with such cruelty.
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

slaughterhouse or place where meat is sold
Amplified Edition
Line number 29

 Critical note

Such references to the author’s learnedness are common in emblem books, e.g., Geoffrey Whitney’s reference to “divers authors” in his emblem comparing man to a wolf (A Choice of Emblemes [1586], 144). As evidenced in this emblem, Pulter frequently demonstrates her familiarity with the Bible, Plutarch’s Lives, Pliny’s Natural History, and Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage; any of these may support Pulter’s assertion here, though Purchas His Pilgrimage seems particularly pertinent. Alice Eardley discusses Pulter’s sources in Chapter Two of "An Edition of Lady Hester Pulter’s Book of ‘Emblemes'" (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2008), 1:102-124.
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

eat other humans
Amplified Edition
Line number 30

 Critical note

This phrase portrays humans as unique in killing other humans (“his Kind”). Unlike the spider, which only kills “silly fl[ies],” humans kill each other. Cf. Michel de Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals,” which uses a cannibalistic civilization to critique the acts carried out “under the cloak of piety and religion” in his own society: “I consider it more barbarous to eat a man alive than to eat him dead” (Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. J. M. Cohen [London: Penguin, 1993], 113). This claim of man’s unique cannibalism is an ironic one given The Cuckoo [Poem 94], which documents multiple cases of animals killing their own kind. Moreover, such cannibalism sits awkwardly adjacent to the following lines discussing vegetarianism; even if man should not “Eat his [own] Kind,” it does not necessarily imply he should not eat animals. Eliding the two implies a strange kinship between humans and animals that Pulter rejects in her final lines.
Transcription
Line number 31

 Physical note

in left margin: “xAntidiluvian”
Transcription
Line number 31

 Physical note

first “i” appears written over earlier “e”, “v” over “g”
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

according to the Bible, the male authorities who existed before the flood. See the final note on their reputed vegetarianism until Noah was given permission to eat animals after the flood.
Amplified Edition
Line number 31

 Critical note

Tradition holds that humans were vegetarians before the worldwide flood recounted in Genesis. Following the receding of flood waters, God licenses Noah’s eating of meat, declaring, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you” (Genesis 9:2–3).
Elemental Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Pythagoreans in the ancient Greek world abstained from eating animals partly because of their belief that humans and animals share a common soul, and partly because they appear to have considered the diet a healthier one.
Amplified Edition
Line number 33

 Critical note

It is unclear whether the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE) was himself a vegetarian. Regardless, his followers adhered to the vegetarian diet attributed to him, to such an extent that “vegetarianism” only replaced “pythagoreanism” in the nineteenth century. Pulter likely draws from Samuel Purchas’ widely popular Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626), which recounts the Banians’ “Pythagorean errour” in loosing animals meant for slaughter (542).
Elemental Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

Hindu traders
Amplified Edition
Line number 34

 Critical note

Hindu Indian traders. The language of “redeem[ing]” indicates Pulter’s likely use of Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626). In a section “Of the Banian and Cambayan Superstitions” (5.8.3), Purchas notes that the Banians “eat no flesh, nor ill any thing yea they redeem the beasts and birds maymed or sicke, and carry them to their Hospitals to be cured” (541).
Elemental Edition
Line number 36

 Gloss note

Hindu traders considered those who eat animal flesh to be murderers; they are reputed to have bought animals from butchers to save the animals’ lives.
Amplified Edition
Line number 36

 Critical note

Pulter’s use of “Redeem”—likely derived from Purchas—is economic, denoting a financial exchange whereby the animals are bought back. Yet it is particularly ironic in this context. Instead of God redeeming mankind, as he does in the biblical stories referenced a few lines later, Hindus are redeeming animals, thereby practicing a belief in the sanctity of life absent from Pulter’s own Christian nation.
Elemental Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

appropriate
Amplified Edition
Line number 37

 Gloss note

Pulter may be punning on “meat/mete,” suggesting both that it is inappropriate to say more, and that meat should be eaten “no more.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 38

 Critical note

After the flood, according to the Bible, Noah is given permission to eat animal flesh: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3). See also God’s injunction for Peter to eat meat: “And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat” (Acts 10:10-13).
Amplified Edition
Line number 38

 Critical note

Pulter here recalls two biblical examples of God licensing the eating of animals: Genesis 9:2–3, when God tells Noah that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,” and Acts 10:9–16, when Peter receives a vision telling him to “kill, and eat” animals descending on a sheet from heaven, even those considered unclean by the Jews. Pulter thus rejects vegetarianism, even as she praises those who exhibit compassion towards animals. This final return to biblical text effectively suppresses the other religious paradigms that Pulter raises earlier, even as it reestablishes a traditional hierarchical order of being, with God ordaining humans as ascendant over the animals.
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