To Sir William Davenant: Upon the Unspeakable Loss of the Most Conspicuous and Chief Ornament of His Frontispiece

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To Sir William Davenant: Upon the Unspeakable Loss of the Most Conspicuous and Chief Ornament of His Frontispiece

Poem #60

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 Emily Cock.

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 4

 Physical note

“r” written over another letter
Line number 5

 Physical note

in H2; “and noe” directly above cancelled “Gnoman,” struck-through twice
Line number 38

 Physical note

“c” appears added later, in darker ink
Line number 52

 Physical note

“K” appears to correct earlier “R”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

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To S:rW:m D: Upon the unſpeakable Loſs of the most conspicious and chief Ornament of his ffrontispiece
Gloss Note
William Davenant (1606-1668) was a famous English playwright who served as poet laureate and was knighted by Charles I. In 1630, he contracted syphilis and took mercury as a cure, which disfigured his nose. An “ornament” is an accessory; a “frontispiece” is a face but also the front of a building, the engraved panel over an entrance, or the first page or title page of a book.
To Sir William Davenant: Upon the Unspeakable Loss of the Most Conspicuous and Chief Ornament of His Frontispiece
To
Critical Note
“Sir William Davenant” (1606–1668). Despite Pulter’s use of initials, there would have been little ambiguity around the identity of this knight. Davenant had contracted the pox in the late 1620s or early 1630s (in 1633 he refers to himself as a ‘long-sick Poet’). The Queen’s physician, Thomas Cademan, treated Davenant with a customary mercury salivation, in which mercury was rubbed, inhaled or ingested into the body to prompt saliva and sweating and ‘flush out’ the disease. Davenant addressed public poems of thanks that conceded his receipt of ‘Devill Mercurie’, thus acknowledging the venereal nature of his distemper (Mary Edmond, Rare Sir William Davenant [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987], pp. 45–46). After the bridge of his nose collapsed and flattened, this became a common point of ribaldry among political and poetic rivals, whose poems are discussed in detail by Marcus Nevitt (‘The Insults of Defeat: Royalist Responses to Sir William Davenant’s Gondibert [1651]’ The Seventeenth Century 24.2 [2009]: pp 287–304).
S:rW:m D:
Upon the unspeakable Loss of the
Critical Note
While Pulter’s tone is mildly hyperbolic, surgeons who wrote on injuries and disfigurements to the nose often remarked on its centrality and importance for the face’s beauty, and thus the need to take particular care to reduce scarring and misshaping. Pulter refers to the importance of shape in Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] when she praises her daughter’s “white even nose”.
most conspicuous and chief Ornament
of his Frontispiece
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
I have opted to complement the modernised Elemental Edition with a semi-diplomatic transcription in order to give readers a sense of the gains and losses in each style. I have retained original spelling and punctuation, but amended uses of u/v/w, i/j, and ff/F. Where a colon and superscription indicating abbreviation is incidental rather than substantive this has been expanded with italics; so too for the single use of a thorn for ‘the’.
The poem does not have as many classical references as some of Pulter’s other work, but instead builds from a central trope drawn from contemporary medicine and science, which I have explained for the general reader. The annotations are therefore less explanatory than interpretive, based on my reading of the poem in the context of British responses to the nose and especially nose reconstruction and transplantation (see Cock, Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019]). As I attempt to show, there is more to this poem than a funny joke about legs and noses.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Sir William Davenant, who was about Pulter’s age, famously suffered from a sexually-transmitted disease as well as its cure: the medicinal application of mercury, which we now know to be terribly poisonous. The consequent disfigurement of his nose is the somewhat unusual (for Pulter) subject matter of this poem, which is equally unusual in its direct address of Davenant. While overtly sympathizing with his loss, the speaker’s imagery and imagination ranges boldly from the witty to the caustic and grotesque.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this humorous and rather uncharacteristic poem, Pulter uses contemporary understanding of nose reconstruction and transplantation to engage with Interregnum politics by imaginatively offering the playwright and poet Sir William Davenant a piece of her own body for the reconstruction of his nose. Davenant’s nasal bridge was famously sunken through the effects of the pox (syphilis) and its customary treatment with mercury. This association with venereal disease, and wider uses of nose cutting as a stigmatising punishment, meant that nasal disfigurements were considered highly dishonourable in early modern Europe.
While it had its roots in real surgical procedures to rebuild a nose, lip, or ear from a flap of the patient’s own skin, the full transplantation of a skin graft between individuals was largely a fantasy, which was used by British authors to a range of discursive ends. The graft employed to reconstruct the nose was understood to remain absolutely part of the original person, and it was thought to die when the original person did due to a medical phenomenon known as ‘sympathy’. Thus, through the logic of the transplant, part of Pulter’s private body is imaginatively attached to Davenant and brought into public politics. Within the poem, the success and longevity of Davenant’s new nose—and the Royalist project and authority it represents—become contingent upon Pulter. If he fails to offer sufficient loyal service, prayers for Pulter, and care for the nose in recompense, he will be truly worth the dishonour of noselessness.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
S:r
Sir,
Sir
2
3
Extreamly I deplore your loſs
Extremely I
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
your loss:
Extreamly
Critical Note
Pulter has created a mock version of what Kate Lilley calls the ‘proxy elegy’, commemorating the death of Davenant’s nose by offering him her sympathy and an attempt at reparation (Kate Lilley, ‘True State Within: Women’s Elegy 1640–1700’, in Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman [eds.] Women, Writing, History 1640–1740 [London: Batsford, 1992]: pp 72–92).
I deplore your loss
4
You’r like Cheapſide without a
Physical Note
“r” written over another letter
Croſs
You’re like
Gloss Note
Cheapside was a location in London which had a stone carved cross erected on it to memorialize the funeral procession of King Edward I’s wife; the cross was destroyed in 1643 by an act of Parliament targeting “monuments of superstition and idolatry.”
Cheapside without a cross
,
You’r like
Critical Note
The elaborate Eleanor Cross in Cheapside had been erected in 1289 by Edward I in memory of his wife. Royalists considered its removal on 2 May 1643 a highly symbolic blow against civil and religious values. By pairing this simile with a further comparison to a sundial without a gnomon (the protruding arm that casts a shadow), Pulter draws attention to both the symbolic and functional importance of the nose for Davenant’s face.
Cheapside without a Cross
5
Or like A Diall
Physical Note
in H2; “and noe” directly above cancelled “Gnoman,” struck-through twice
Gnomanand noe
Gnoman
Or like a dial and no
Gloss Note
A pin or rod that indicates the time of day by casting its shadow upon the surface of a sundial: a dial without the rod is useless.
gnomon
;
Or like a Dial and noe Gnoman
6
In pitty (trust mee) I think noe man
In pity (trust me) I think no man
In pitty (trust mee) I think noe man
7
But would his Leg or Arm expoſe
But would his leg or arm expose
But would his Leg or Arm expose
8
To cut you out another Noſe
To cut you out another nose;
To
Critical Note
Pulter refers to belief that a new nose could be constructed from skin or flesh taken from another person. The origins for this belief lie in Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi’s (1545–1599) techniques for reconstructing a nose, lip or ear using skin flaps taken from the patient’s own arm, which he detailed in a lavishly illustrated Latin folio, De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: 1597) (for Tagliacozzi’s operation and career in the context of Italian surgery see Valeria Finucci, The Prince’s Body: Vincenzo Gonzaga and Renaissance Medicine [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015); Paolo Savoia, Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery: Faces, Men, and Pain [London: Routledge, 2019]). The use of skin flaps in this way has ancient origins, but in early modern Europe Tagliacozzi enjoyed a monopolist (but controversial) reputation after publication. Professional misunderstandings and popular rumours led to widespread belief that the new nose could also be built using a graft from someone else, though Tagliacozzi had rejected the feasibility of this operation.
cut you out another Nose
9
Nor of the ffemale Sex thers none
Nor of the female sex there’s none
Nor of the Female Sex thers none
10
But’ld bee one ffleſh though not one Bone
Gloss Note
But would
But’ld
be
Critical Note
would marry him even if not agreeing to offer up their bones. On marriage as becoming “one flesh,” see Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
one flesh, though not one bone
.
But’ld bee
Critical Note
Pulter’s invocation of flesh and bone echoes Genesis 2:23–24, but hesitation to be of the same ‘Bone’ as Davenant may also refer to the skeletal damage caused by syphilis, which as ‘rotting shins’ was a ubiquitous referent.
one Flesh though not one Bone
11
I though unknown would Sleight the pain
I, though unknown, would
Gloss Note
disregard
slight
the pain
I though
Critical Note
The suggestion that Pulter is ‘unknown’ to Davenant means that he is unlikely to have seen this poem, despite its direct address to him (“Sir,” “your,” etc) and reiterates that the graft was never a literal offer. It also means that Pulter is unlikely to have known other members of the Royalist ‘Cavendish Circle’ in Paris who promoted sympathetic medicine, such as Walter Charleton and Sir Kenelm Digby, thus further restricting her sources for this knowledge (on these men and sympathy see Seth Lobis, The Virtue of Sympathy: Magic, Philosophy, and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015]; Elizabeth Hedrick, “Romancing the Salve: Sir Kenelm Digby and the Powder of Sympathy”, The British Journal for the History of Science 41.2 (2008): 161–85; Emily Booth, A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707) [Dordrecht: Springer, 2006]).
unknown
would
Critical Note
Pulter’s iteration that she would slight (brush off, disregard) the pain of the operation undercuts the modesty of her surrounding protestations that anyone, male or female, would be willing to give up their flesh to help restore Davenant’s nose and honour, thus increasing the value of her offer.
sleight the pain
12
That you might haue Soe great a gain
That you might have so great a gain.
That you might have Soe great a gain
13
Nay Any ffool did hee know itt
Nay, any fool, did he know it,
Nay Any Fool did hee know itt
14
Would give his Noſe to have yo:r Wit
Would give his nose to have your wit,
Would
Critical Note
One strand of the nose graft story suggested that an actual nose would be transplanted to the patient, and may have been encouraged by the larger number of successful nose reattachments than skin flap reconstructions in the period. But Pulter recognises that this would be an imbalanced transaction: just as Davenant’s wit fails to make up for the lack of his own nose in terms of professional authority and personal identity, so too would it be insufficient payment for any other person who was to provide their own nose for his respite.
give his Nose
to have your Wit
15
And I my Self would doe the Same
And I myself would do the same,
And I my Self would doe the same
16
Did I not fear t’wold Blur my ffame
Did I not fear ’twould
Gloss Note
The loss of a nose could be a sign of syphilis or criminal punishment, thus hurting one’s reputation.
blur my fame
.
Did I not fear t’wold
Critical Note
Giving Davenant her own nose will transfer his problem onto her, and lead people to suspect that she has lost her nose to the pox too.
Blur my Fame
17
I as once Said a Gallant Dame
I, as once said a
Gloss Note
refined, noble
gallant
dame,
I as once said a Gallant Dame
18
My Noſe would venture not my ffame
My nose would
Gloss Note
risk
venture
, not my fame;
My Nose would venture not my Fame
19
ffor who but that Bright eye above
For who but that
Gloss Note
the sun, symbol of God
bright eye
above
For who but that Bright eye above
20
Would know twere Charity not Love
Would know ’twere charity, not love.
Would know twere
Critical Note
This is in part a denial of a sexual relationship, through which Davenant might have passed on his noselessness. But in emphasising that this will be an act of charity, Pulter also elevates herself above Davenant as the recipient, and leads them into a relationship of hospitality.
Charity not Love
21
Then S:r your Pardon I must Beg
Then, sir, your pardon I must beg;
Then Sir your Pardon I must Beg
22
Excuſe my Noſe accept my Leg
Excuse my nose,
Gloss Note
The speaker will allow a skin graft from her leg, or she is offering to curtsy as she asks for pardon.
accept my leg
.
Excuse my Nose
Critical Note
Having established that her nose is too valuable to give up, Pulter must beg Davenant’s pardon for offering a skin graft from her leg instead. This qualification also fulfils gendered requirements of humility, as Pulter does not presume herself to be able to fully replace Davenant’s own, God-given nose.
accept my Leg

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23
But yet beſure bot night and Day
But yet, be sure both night and day
Critical Note
The reciprocal obligations of Pulter’s offer start to become apparent, as she uses the graft and understandings of medical sympathy to establish an imaginative relationship with Davenant, and a debt from him that gives her political influence within the poem.
But
yet besure
Gloss Note
both
bot
night and Day
24
ffor mee as for your Self you pray
For me, as for yourself, you pray;
For mee as for your Self you pray
25
ffor if I ffirst should chance to goe
For if I first should chance to go
For if I First should chance to goe
26
To viſit thoſe Sad Shades below
To visit those
Gloss Note
the netherworld or people in it
sad shades
below,
To visit those sad shades below
27
As my ffrail ffleſh there putrifies
As my frail flesh there putrefies,
As my
Critical Note
While the ‘Frail Flesh’ is a rhetorical commonplace for Pulter and others, possibly originating in the Wycliffe Bible’s translation of Matthew 26:41, Pulter’s use here includes an element of performed humility: though she emphasises the ‘frailty’ of her own body, it is Davenant’s that has fallen out of his control.
Frail Flesh
there putrifies
28
Your Noſe noe doubt will Sympathize
Your nose, no doubt, will sympathize.
Your Nose noe doubt will
Critical Note
'Sympathy' was a system of influence between matter that was at a physical distance (see Lobis; Evelyn L. Forget, ‘Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology’, History of Political Economy 35 (2005): 282–308). Medically it could be used to treat a patient elsewhere, such as healing a wound by applying a ‘weapon salve’ to the weapon that had made it. When applied to allograft rhinoplasty, the doctrine of sympathy dictated that when the person from whom the skin graft was taken died, the new nose would ‘die’ with them. Sympathy was contentious, and increasingly elaborate stories of nose transplants would later be used to satirise believers (Alanna Skuse, ‘“Keep your face out of my way or I'll bite off your nose”: Homoplastics, Sympathy, and the Noble Body in The Tatler, 1710’, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 17.4 (2017): 113-132). Samuel Butler included a joke about a reconstructed nose in the first part of his wildly successful mock-epic poem, Hudibras (1662), which cemented the mythology of the sympathetic nose as being sourced from a lower-class man’s buttocks (in Butler, ‘The brawny part of Porter’s Bum’) to restore the nose of a higher-status man. Thus Pulter warns Davenant that he should pray for the preservation of her own life as much as his, since if she dies (visits the ‘sad shades below’) so too will his new nose. Pulter’s reiteration that Davenant’s new nose will in fact be her skin offers an imaginative means by which a piece of her body will be present at the centre of Royalist politics, while the rest of her is politely ensconced in her country estate.
Sympathize
29
But this I fear least that blind Boy
But this I fear: lest that
Gloss Note
Cupid
blind boy
But this I fear least that blind Boy
30
Which ffate deſcend (Yet such a Toy
Which fate
Gloss Note
sends down
descends
(yet such a
Gloss Note
trivial thing
toy
Which Fate descend (Yet such a Toy
31
May take the Chit) Should Shoot again
May take the
Gloss Note
bratty child
chit
) should shoot again,
May take the Chit) should shoot again
32
Then the Next loſs would bee yo:r Brain
Gloss Note
perhaps suggesting that Cupid (the “chit”) might not be able to resist Davenant, particularly his brain (the “toy”), and will strike again, making him figuratively lose his head as well as his nose.
Then the next loss would be your brain.
Then the Next loss would bee your Brain
33
Some Coy Young Laſs you Might Adore
Some coy young lass you might adore,
Some Coy Young Lass you Might Adore
34
Which would prefer Some baſe Medore
Which would prefer some base
Gloss Note
Medoro is a non-noble Moor (or Muslim) in Ludovico Ariosto’s 1532 poem, Orlando Furioso, with whom Angelica (a Chinese princess at the court of Charlemagne) falls in love (thus rejecting the title character Orlando).
Medore
,
Which would prefer some base
Critical Note
Pulter’s brother-in-law was the son of John Harington, who translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and she refers to the book frequently (Alice Eardley, ‘Introduction’, in Eardley (ed.) Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014]: pp 1–38, at p. 17). The virtuous Orlando is jilted by his beloved, Angelica, in favour of an African soldier, Medore, and loses his wits. Pulter suggests that Davenant’s noselessness might lead to similar rejections if it cannot balance out his good qualities of nobility and intelligence, leading him to be rejected by a Lass whom Cupid (the “blind Boy”) leads him to adore. Nevitt highlights that Orlando’s fault “is as much a renunciation of religious and political allegiance as it is a capitulation to bestial instinct”, thus rendering Pulter’s integration of the poem further commentary on Davenant’s possible exacerbation of sexual with political weakness (‘Insults’, 289).
Medore
35
And all your Witt and Titles Sleight
And all your wit and titles slight:
And all your Witt and Titles sleight
36
Imbrace a Page before a Knight
Embrace a page before a knight.
Imbrace a Page before a Knight
37
Then Should Some Nobleminded ffreind
Then should some noble-minded friend,
Then should some Nobleminded Freind
38
Astolpho like to Heaven
Physical Note
“c” appears added later, in darker ink
aſcend
Gloss Note
Astolpho is a character in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso who flies in a flaming chariot to the moon where all things that have been lost on Earth are stored in jars. Here he recovers the wits that the title character Orlando had lost when rejected by his beloved. Astolfo makes Orlando snort his wits back up his nose.
Astolfo-like
, to heaven ascend,
Astolpho like to
Critical Note
Like Pulter’s skin graft assisting Davenant while she is far away, another “Nobleminded Friend” will need to travel to Heaven to retrieve Davenant’s brains. She thus evokes the possible contributions of networks of friends, especially dispersed Royalists.
Heaven
ascend
39
And having Search’d neare and ffarr
And having searchéd near and far
And having search’d neare and Farr
40
And found your most capacious Jarr
And found your most capacious jar,
And found your most
Critical Note
Pulter further compliments Davenant’s ‘wit’ by suggesting his brain would require a very large container.
capacious Jarr
41
Then beeing with Joy Returnd again
Then being, with joy, returned again
Then beeing with Joy Returnd again
42
You could not then Snuf up your Brain
You could not then snuff up your brain:
You could not then
Critical Note
Orlando’s wits sit in a jar on the moon, and he snorts them back into his head after they are collected by Astolpho. Pulter reminds Davenant that without a nose he will have no such recourse.
snuf up your Brain
43
Though all your Strenght you Should expoſe
Though all your strength you should expose
Though all your
Gloss Note
strength
strenght
you should expose
44
You want the Organe cal’d a Noſe
You want the organ called a nose.
You want the Organe cal’d a Nose

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45
Prodigious the Knight Remains
Gloss Note
wondrous
Prodigious
, the knight remains
Prodigious the Knight Remains
46
Withous or Noſe, or ffame or Brains,
Without
Gloss Note
either
or
nose, or fame, or brains.
Gloss Note
Without
Withous
Critical Note
Pulter admonishes Davenant for what she perceived was an increasing likelihood that he would defect to serve the Parliamentarians by tying political honour to sexual honour, with the corruption in Davenant’s nose at risk of spreading to his ‘fame [and] brains’. A knight with title but no intelligence, reputation, or nose would be a monstrous wonder (‘prodigious’).
or Nose, or Fame, or Brains
,
47
Then I bold ordinance Strook the Title of
Then a
Critical Note
Eardley speculates that this alludes to “An Ordinance Concerning the Peers of Parliament, and other Honors and Titles” (1646), which prevented peers created since 1642 from sitting in Parliament and voided their titles. Charles I had made Davenant a knight in 1643.
bold ordinance
struck the title off;
Then A bold ordinance
Gloss Note
Parliament’s ‘bold ordinance’ of 1646 voided (struck off) any titles conferred by the King since May 20, 1642, thus including Davenant’s knighthood granted in 1643.
strook the Title of
48
Thus the proud Parces Sit and at us Scofe
Thus the proud
Gloss Note
the three female Fates
Parcae
sit, and at us scoff.
Thus the proud
Critical Note
The Parcae are the three female Fates. Pulter’s anglicised plural, corrected in modernised editions to the Latin ‘Parcae’, may add further weight to suggestions she accessed Latin texts only in translation: in particular, Sarah Hutton and Alice Eardley suggest that she may have come to knowledge of Galileo through Henry More’s (1614–1687) Philosophical Poems (1647) (Eardley, ‘Introduction’, p. 11). ‘Parcae’ appears differently throughout the manuscript: from a possessive ‘Parces’ (Aletheia's Pearl [Poem 32]) and plural ‘Parce’ (Universal Dissolution [Poem 6]), to blotted plurals ‘Parces[?]’ (The Eclipse [Poem 1]) and ‘Parcia[?]’ (On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7]). This adds further weight to my belief that she was unfamiliar with Tagliacozzi’s original De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, and instead accessed understanding of the nose reconstructions from sympathy books like Walter Charlton’s translation of Johannes Baptista van Helmont’s A Ternary of Paradoxes (London: 1649).
Parces
sit and at us Scofe
49
What now remains the Man at Least
What now remains? The man at least?
What now remains the Man at Least
50
Noe Surely nothing left but Beast
No, surely nothing left but beast.
Noe surely nothing left but
Critical Note
Pulter’s warnings about the lure of a “Coy Young Lass” and Davenant as “Beast” signal her disapproval of the libertine tendencies of men like Davenant, evident throughout her oeuvre (see for example The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and The Unfortunate Florinda, which Peter C. Herman discusses in detail: ‘Lady Hester Pulter’s “The Unfortunate Florinda”: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Rape’ Renaissance Quarterly 63.4 [2010]: pp 1208–1246).
Beast
51
Then Royall ffavour glu’d it on again
Then royal favor glued it on again,
Then Royall Favour
Critical Note
The use of ‘glued’ for the restitution of Davenant’s knighthood parallels it with the reattachment of his nose.
glu’d
it on again
52
And now the
Physical Note
“K” appears to correct earlier “R”
K:t
is Bow-di’de and in grain
And now the knight is
Gloss Note
“bow-dyed” is dyed scarlet (named for the Bow Bridge in proximity to the workplace of dyers); the state of being “ingrain,” or “ingrained,” is to have caused a dye to sink into the texture of a fabric and thus be indelible. These lines refer to King Charles’s knighting of Davenant in 1643, which restores the honor he lost when his nose was disfigured.
bow-dyed and ingrain
.
And now the Knight is Bow-di’de and in grain
53
Then Trample not that Hono:r in ye Dust
Then trample not that honor in the dust
Then Trample not that Honour in the
Critical Note
As Eardley notes, Pulter’s employment of ‘dust’ generally draws on its Biblical use as matter of human mortality: ‘for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19). More broadly, Pulter here continues her juxtaposition of esteemed qualities (honour, wit, nobility) with the baseness affiliated with Davenant’s sexual misbehaviour and corporal loss.
Dust
54
In beeing a Slave to thoſe are Slaves to Lust
Gloss Note
“those” is ambiguous, but generally signifies temptations.
In being a slave to those are slaves to lust.
In beeing a Slave to those are Slaves to Lust
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition
Title note

 Gloss note

William Davenant (1606-1668) was a famous English playwright who served as poet laureate and was knighted by Charles I. In 1630, he contracted syphilis and took mercury as a cure, which disfigured his nose. An “ornament” is an accessory; a “frontispiece” is a face but also the front of a building, the engraved panel over an entrance, or the first page or title page of a book.

 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

Sir William Davenant, who was about Pulter’s age, famously suffered from a sexually-transmitted disease as well as its cure: the medicinal application of mercury, which we now know to be terribly poisonous. The consequent disfigurement of his nose is the somewhat unusual (for Pulter) subject matter of this poem, which is equally unusual in its direct address of Davenant. While overtly sympathizing with his loss, the speaker’s imagery and imagination ranges boldly from the witty to the caustic and grotesque.
Line number 3

 Gloss note

lament
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Cheapside was a location in London which had a stone carved cross erected on it to memorialize the funeral procession of King Edward I’s wife; the cross was destroyed in 1643 by an act of Parliament targeting “monuments of superstition and idolatry.”
Line number 5

 Gloss note

A pin or rod that indicates the time of day by casting its shadow upon the surface of a sundial: a dial without the rod is useless.
Line number 10

 Gloss note

But would
Line number 10

 Critical note

would marry him even if not agreeing to offer up their bones. On marriage as becoming “one flesh,” see Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Line number 11

 Gloss note

disregard
Line number 16

 Gloss note

The loss of a nose could be a sign of syphilis or criminal punishment, thus hurting one’s reputation.
Line number 17

 Gloss note

refined, noble
Line number 18

 Gloss note

risk
Line number 19

 Gloss note

the sun, symbol of God
Line number 22

 Gloss note

The speaker will allow a skin graft from her leg, or she is offering to curtsy as she asks for pardon.
Line number 26

 Gloss note

the netherworld or people in it
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Cupid
Line number 30

 Gloss note

sends down
Line number 30

 Gloss note

trivial thing
Line number 31

 Gloss note

bratty child
Line number 32

 Gloss note

perhaps suggesting that Cupid (the “chit”) might not be able to resist Davenant, particularly his brain (the “toy”), and will strike again, making him figuratively lose his head as well as his nose.
Line number 34

 Gloss note

Medoro is a non-noble Moor (or Muslim) in Ludovico Ariosto’s 1532 poem, Orlando Furioso, with whom Angelica (a Chinese princess at the court of Charlemagne) falls in love (thus rejecting the title character Orlando).
Line number 38

 Gloss note

Astolpho is a character in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso who flies in a flaming chariot to the moon where all things that have been lost on Earth are stored in jars. Here he recovers the wits that the title character Orlando had lost when rejected by his beloved. Astolfo makes Orlando snort his wits back up his nose.
Line number 45

 Gloss note

wondrous
Line number 46

 Gloss note

either
Line number 47

 Critical note

Eardley speculates that this alludes to “An Ordinance Concerning the Peers of Parliament, and other Honors and Titles” (1646), which prevented peers created since 1642 from sitting in Parliament and voided their titles. Charles I had made Davenant a knight in 1643.
Line number 48

 Gloss note

the three female Fates
Line number 52

 Gloss note

“bow-dyed” is dyed scarlet (named for the Bow Bridge in proximity to the workplace of dyers); the state of being “ingrain,” or “ingrained,” is to have caused a dye to sink into the texture of a fabric and thus be indelible. These lines refer to King Charles’s knighting of Davenant in 1643, which restores the honor he lost when his nose was disfigured.
Line number 54

 Gloss note

“those” is ambiguous, but generally signifies temptations.
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To S:rW:m D: Upon the unſpeakable Loſs of the most conspicious and chief Ornament of his ffrontispiece
Gloss Note
William Davenant (1606-1668) was a famous English playwright who served as poet laureate and was knighted by Charles I. In 1630, he contracted syphilis and took mercury as a cure, which disfigured his nose. An “ornament” is an accessory; a “frontispiece” is a face but also the front of a building, the engraved panel over an entrance, or the first page or title page of a book.
To Sir William Davenant: Upon the Unspeakable Loss of the Most Conspicuous and Chief Ornament of His Frontispiece
To
Critical Note
“Sir William Davenant” (1606–1668). Despite Pulter’s use of initials, there would have been little ambiguity around the identity of this knight. Davenant had contracted the pox in the late 1620s or early 1630s (in 1633 he refers to himself as a ‘long-sick Poet’). The Queen’s physician, Thomas Cademan, treated Davenant with a customary mercury salivation, in which mercury was rubbed, inhaled or ingested into the body to prompt saliva and sweating and ‘flush out’ the disease. Davenant addressed public poems of thanks that conceded his receipt of ‘Devill Mercurie’, thus acknowledging the venereal nature of his distemper (Mary Edmond, Rare Sir William Davenant [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987], pp. 45–46). After the bridge of his nose collapsed and flattened, this became a common point of ribaldry among political and poetic rivals, whose poems are discussed in detail by Marcus Nevitt (‘The Insults of Defeat: Royalist Responses to Sir William Davenant’s Gondibert [1651]’ The Seventeenth Century 24.2 [2009]: pp 287–304).
S:rW:m D:
Upon the unspeakable Loss of the
Critical Note
While Pulter’s tone is mildly hyperbolic, surgeons who wrote on injuries and disfigurements to the nose often remarked on its centrality and importance for the face’s beauty, and thus the need to take particular care to reduce scarring and misshaping. Pulter refers to the importance of shape in Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] when she praises her daughter’s “white even nose”.
most conspicuous and chief Ornament
of his Frontispiece
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
I have opted to complement the modernised Elemental Edition with a semi-diplomatic transcription in order to give readers a sense of the gains and losses in each style. I have retained original spelling and punctuation, but amended uses of u/v/w, i/j, and ff/F. Where a colon and superscription indicating abbreviation is incidental rather than substantive this has been expanded with italics; so too for the single use of a thorn for ‘the’.
The poem does not have as many classical references as some of Pulter’s other work, but instead builds from a central trope drawn from contemporary medicine and science, which I have explained for the general reader. The annotations are therefore less explanatory than interpretive, based on my reading of the poem in the context of British responses to the nose and especially nose reconstruction and transplantation (see Cock, Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019]). As I attempt to show, there is more to this poem than a funny joke about legs and noses.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
Sir William Davenant, who was about Pulter’s age, famously suffered from a sexually-transmitted disease as well as its cure: the medicinal application of mercury, which we now know to be terribly poisonous. The consequent disfigurement of his nose is the somewhat unusual (for Pulter) subject matter of this poem, which is equally unusual in its direct address of Davenant. While overtly sympathizing with his loss, the speaker’s imagery and imagination ranges boldly from the witty to the caustic and grotesque.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
In this humorous and rather uncharacteristic poem, Pulter uses contemporary understanding of nose reconstruction and transplantation to engage with Interregnum politics by imaginatively offering the playwright and poet Sir William Davenant a piece of her own body for the reconstruction of his nose. Davenant’s nasal bridge was famously sunken through the effects of the pox (syphilis) and its customary treatment with mercury. This association with venereal disease, and wider uses of nose cutting as a stigmatising punishment, meant that nasal disfigurements were considered highly dishonourable in early modern Europe.
While it had its roots in real surgical procedures to rebuild a nose, lip, or ear from a flap of the patient’s own skin, the full transplantation of a skin graft between individuals was largely a fantasy, which was used by British authors to a range of discursive ends. The graft employed to reconstruct the nose was understood to remain absolutely part of the original person, and it was thought to die when the original person did due to a medical phenomenon known as ‘sympathy’. Thus, through the logic of the transplant, part of Pulter’s private body is imaginatively attached to Davenant and brought into public politics. Within the poem, the success and longevity of Davenant’s new nose—and the Royalist project and authority it represents—become contingent upon Pulter. If he fails to offer sufficient loyal service, prayers for Pulter, and care for the nose in recompense, he will be truly worth the dishonour of noselessness.


— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
S:r
Sir,
Sir
2
3
Extreamly I deplore your loſs
Extremely I
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
your loss:
Extreamly
Critical Note
Pulter has created a mock version of what Kate Lilley calls the ‘proxy elegy’, commemorating the death of Davenant’s nose by offering him her sympathy and an attempt at reparation (Kate Lilley, ‘True State Within: Women’s Elegy 1640–1700’, in Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman [eds.] Women, Writing, History 1640–1740 [London: Batsford, 1992]: pp 72–92).
I deplore your loss
4
You’r like Cheapſide without a
Physical Note
“r” written over another letter
Croſs
You’re like
Gloss Note
Cheapside was a location in London which had a stone carved cross erected on it to memorialize the funeral procession of King Edward I’s wife; the cross was destroyed in 1643 by an act of Parliament targeting “monuments of superstition and idolatry.”
Cheapside without a cross
,
You’r like
Critical Note
The elaborate Eleanor Cross in Cheapside had been erected in 1289 by Edward I in memory of his wife. Royalists considered its removal on 2 May 1643 a highly symbolic blow against civil and religious values. By pairing this simile with a further comparison to a sundial without a gnomon (the protruding arm that casts a shadow), Pulter draws attention to both the symbolic and functional importance of the nose for Davenant’s face.
Cheapside without a Cross
5
Or like A Diall
Physical Note
in H2; “and noe” directly above cancelled “Gnoman,” struck-through twice
Gnomanand noe
Gnoman
Or like a dial and no
Gloss Note
A pin or rod that indicates the time of day by casting its shadow upon the surface of a sundial: a dial without the rod is useless.
gnomon
;
Or like a Dial and noe Gnoman
6
In pitty (trust mee) I think noe man
In pity (trust me) I think no man
In pitty (trust mee) I think noe man
7
But would his Leg or Arm expoſe
But would his leg or arm expose
But would his Leg or Arm expose
8
To cut you out another Noſe
To cut you out another nose;
To
Critical Note
Pulter refers to belief that a new nose could be constructed from skin or flesh taken from another person. The origins for this belief lie in Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi’s (1545–1599) techniques for reconstructing a nose, lip or ear using skin flaps taken from the patient’s own arm, which he detailed in a lavishly illustrated Latin folio, De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: 1597) (for Tagliacozzi’s operation and career in the context of Italian surgery see Valeria Finucci, The Prince’s Body: Vincenzo Gonzaga and Renaissance Medicine [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015); Paolo Savoia, Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery: Faces, Men, and Pain [London: Routledge, 2019]). The use of skin flaps in this way has ancient origins, but in early modern Europe Tagliacozzi enjoyed a monopolist (but controversial) reputation after publication. Professional misunderstandings and popular rumours led to widespread belief that the new nose could also be built using a graft from someone else, though Tagliacozzi had rejected the feasibility of this operation.
cut you out another Nose
9
Nor of the ffemale Sex thers none
Nor of the female sex there’s none
Nor of the Female Sex thers none
10
But’ld bee one ffleſh though not one Bone
Gloss Note
But would
But’ld
be
Critical Note
would marry him even if not agreeing to offer up their bones. On marriage as becoming “one flesh,” see Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
one flesh, though not one bone
.
But’ld bee
Critical Note
Pulter’s invocation of flesh and bone echoes Genesis 2:23–24, but hesitation to be of the same ‘Bone’ as Davenant may also refer to the skeletal damage caused by syphilis, which as ‘rotting shins’ was a ubiquitous referent.
one Flesh though not one Bone
11
I though unknown would Sleight the pain
I, though unknown, would
Gloss Note
disregard
slight
the pain
I though
Critical Note
The suggestion that Pulter is ‘unknown’ to Davenant means that he is unlikely to have seen this poem, despite its direct address to him (“Sir,” “your,” etc) and reiterates that the graft was never a literal offer. It also means that Pulter is unlikely to have known other members of the Royalist ‘Cavendish Circle’ in Paris who promoted sympathetic medicine, such as Walter Charleton and Sir Kenelm Digby, thus further restricting her sources for this knowledge (on these men and sympathy see Seth Lobis, The Virtue of Sympathy: Magic, Philosophy, and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015]; Elizabeth Hedrick, “Romancing the Salve: Sir Kenelm Digby and the Powder of Sympathy”, The British Journal for the History of Science 41.2 (2008): 161–85; Emily Booth, A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707) [Dordrecht: Springer, 2006]).
unknown
would
Critical Note
Pulter’s iteration that she would slight (brush off, disregard) the pain of the operation undercuts the modesty of her surrounding protestations that anyone, male or female, would be willing to give up their flesh to help restore Davenant’s nose and honour, thus increasing the value of her offer.
sleight the pain
12
That you might haue Soe great a gain
That you might have so great a gain.
That you might have Soe great a gain
13
Nay Any ffool did hee know itt
Nay, any fool, did he know it,
Nay Any Fool did hee know itt
14
Would give his Noſe to have yo:r Wit
Would give his nose to have your wit,
Would
Critical Note
One strand of the nose graft story suggested that an actual nose would be transplanted to the patient, and may have been encouraged by the larger number of successful nose reattachments than skin flap reconstructions in the period. But Pulter recognises that this would be an imbalanced transaction: just as Davenant’s wit fails to make up for the lack of his own nose in terms of professional authority and personal identity, so too would it be insufficient payment for any other person who was to provide their own nose for his respite.
give his Nose
to have your Wit
15
And I my Self would doe the Same
And I myself would do the same,
And I my Self would doe the same
16
Did I not fear t’wold Blur my ffame
Did I not fear ’twould
Gloss Note
The loss of a nose could be a sign of syphilis or criminal punishment, thus hurting one’s reputation.
blur my fame
.
Did I not fear t’wold
Critical Note
Giving Davenant her own nose will transfer his problem onto her, and lead people to suspect that she has lost her nose to the pox too.
Blur my Fame
17
I as once Said a Gallant Dame
I, as once said a
Gloss Note
refined, noble
gallant
dame,
I as once said a Gallant Dame
18
My Noſe would venture not my ffame
My nose would
Gloss Note
risk
venture
, not my fame;
My Nose would venture not my Fame
19
ffor who but that Bright eye above
For who but that
Gloss Note
the sun, symbol of God
bright eye
above
For who but that Bright eye above
20
Would know twere Charity not Love
Would know ’twere charity, not love.
Would know twere
Critical Note
This is in part a denial of a sexual relationship, through which Davenant might have passed on his noselessness. But in emphasising that this will be an act of charity, Pulter also elevates herself above Davenant as the recipient, and leads them into a relationship of hospitality.
Charity not Love
21
Then S:r your Pardon I must Beg
Then, sir, your pardon I must beg;
Then Sir your Pardon I must Beg
22
Excuſe my Noſe accept my Leg
Excuse my nose,
Gloss Note
The speaker will allow a skin graft from her leg, or she is offering to curtsy as she asks for pardon.
accept my leg
.
Excuse my Nose
Critical Note
Having established that her nose is too valuable to give up, Pulter must beg Davenant’s pardon for offering a skin graft from her leg instead. This qualification also fulfils gendered requirements of humility, as Pulter does not presume herself to be able to fully replace Davenant’s own, God-given nose.
accept my Leg

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23
But yet beſure bot night and Day
But yet, be sure both night and day
Critical Note
The reciprocal obligations of Pulter’s offer start to become apparent, as she uses the graft and understandings of medical sympathy to establish an imaginative relationship with Davenant, and a debt from him that gives her political influence within the poem.
But
yet besure
Gloss Note
both
bot
night and Day
24
ffor mee as for your Self you pray
For me, as for yourself, you pray;
For mee as for your Self you pray
25
ffor if I ffirst should chance to goe
For if I first should chance to go
For if I First should chance to goe
26
To viſit thoſe Sad Shades below
To visit those
Gloss Note
the netherworld or people in it
sad shades
below,
To visit those sad shades below
27
As my ffrail ffleſh there putrifies
As my frail flesh there putrefies,
As my
Critical Note
While the ‘Frail Flesh’ is a rhetorical commonplace for Pulter and others, possibly originating in the Wycliffe Bible’s translation of Matthew 26:41, Pulter’s use here includes an element of performed humility: though she emphasises the ‘frailty’ of her own body, it is Davenant’s that has fallen out of his control.
Frail Flesh
there putrifies
28
Your Noſe noe doubt will Sympathize
Your nose, no doubt, will sympathize.
Your Nose noe doubt will
Critical Note
'Sympathy' was a system of influence between matter that was at a physical distance (see Lobis; Evelyn L. Forget, ‘Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology’, History of Political Economy 35 (2005): 282–308). Medically it could be used to treat a patient elsewhere, such as healing a wound by applying a ‘weapon salve’ to the weapon that had made it. When applied to allograft rhinoplasty, the doctrine of sympathy dictated that when the person from whom the skin graft was taken died, the new nose would ‘die’ with them. Sympathy was contentious, and increasingly elaborate stories of nose transplants would later be used to satirise believers (Alanna Skuse, ‘“Keep your face out of my way or I'll bite off your nose”: Homoplastics, Sympathy, and the Noble Body in The Tatler, 1710’, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 17.4 (2017): 113-132). Samuel Butler included a joke about a reconstructed nose in the first part of his wildly successful mock-epic poem, Hudibras (1662), which cemented the mythology of the sympathetic nose as being sourced from a lower-class man’s buttocks (in Butler, ‘The brawny part of Porter’s Bum’) to restore the nose of a higher-status man. Thus Pulter warns Davenant that he should pray for the preservation of her own life as much as his, since if she dies (visits the ‘sad shades below’) so too will his new nose. Pulter’s reiteration that Davenant’s new nose will in fact be her skin offers an imaginative means by which a piece of her body will be present at the centre of Royalist politics, while the rest of her is politely ensconced in her country estate.
Sympathize
29
But this I fear least that blind Boy
But this I fear: lest that
Gloss Note
Cupid
blind boy
But this I fear least that blind Boy
30
Which ffate deſcend (Yet such a Toy
Which fate
Gloss Note
sends down
descends
(yet such a
Gloss Note
trivial thing
toy
Which Fate descend (Yet such a Toy
31
May take the Chit) Should Shoot again
May take the
Gloss Note
bratty child
chit
) should shoot again,
May take the Chit) should shoot again
32
Then the Next loſs would bee yo:r Brain
Gloss Note
perhaps suggesting that Cupid (the “chit”) might not be able to resist Davenant, particularly his brain (the “toy”), and will strike again, making him figuratively lose his head as well as his nose.
Then the next loss would be your brain.
Then the Next loss would bee your Brain
33
Some Coy Young Laſs you Might Adore
Some coy young lass you might adore,
Some Coy Young Lass you Might Adore
34
Which would prefer Some baſe Medore
Which would prefer some base
Gloss Note
Medoro is a non-noble Moor (or Muslim) in Ludovico Ariosto’s 1532 poem, Orlando Furioso, with whom Angelica (a Chinese princess at the court of Charlemagne) falls in love (thus rejecting the title character Orlando).
Medore
,
Which would prefer some base
Critical Note
Pulter’s brother-in-law was the son of John Harington, who translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and she refers to the book frequently (Alice Eardley, ‘Introduction’, in Eardley (ed.) Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014]: pp 1–38, at p. 17). The virtuous Orlando is jilted by his beloved, Angelica, in favour of an African soldier, Medore, and loses his wits. Pulter suggests that Davenant’s noselessness might lead to similar rejections if it cannot balance out his good qualities of nobility and intelligence, leading him to be rejected by a Lass whom Cupid (the “blind Boy”) leads him to adore. Nevitt highlights that Orlando’s fault “is as much a renunciation of religious and political allegiance as it is a capitulation to bestial instinct”, thus rendering Pulter’s integration of the poem further commentary on Davenant’s possible exacerbation of sexual with political weakness (‘Insults’, 289).
Medore
35
And all your Witt and Titles Sleight
And all your wit and titles slight:
And all your Witt and Titles sleight
36
Imbrace a Page before a Knight
Embrace a page before a knight.
Imbrace a Page before a Knight
37
Then Should Some Nobleminded ffreind
Then should some noble-minded friend,
Then should some Nobleminded Freind
38
Astolpho like to Heaven
Physical Note
“c” appears added later, in darker ink
aſcend
Gloss Note
Astolpho is a character in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso who flies in a flaming chariot to the moon where all things that have been lost on Earth are stored in jars. Here he recovers the wits that the title character Orlando had lost when rejected by his beloved. Astolfo makes Orlando snort his wits back up his nose.
Astolfo-like
, to heaven ascend,
Astolpho like to
Critical Note
Like Pulter’s skin graft assisting Davenant while she is far away, another “Nobleminded Friend” will need to travel to Heaven to retrieve Davenant’s brains. She thus evokes the possible contributions of networks of friends, especially dispersed Royalists.
Heaven
ascend
39
And having Search’d neare and ffarr
And having searchéd near and far
And having search’d neare and Farr
40
And found your most capacious Jarr
And found your most capacious jar,
And found your most
Critical Note
Pulter further compliments Davenant’s ‘wit’ by suggesting his brain would require a very large container.
capacious Jarr
41
Then beeing with Joy Returnd again
Then being, with joy, returned again
Then beeing with Joy Returnd again
42
You could not then Snuf up your Brain
You could not then snuff up your brain:
You could not then
Critical Note
Orlando’s wits sit in a jar on the moon, and he snorts them back into his head after they are collected by Astolpho. Pulter reminds Davenant that without a nose he will have no such recourse.
snuf up your Brain
43
Though all your Strenght you Should expoſe
Though all your strength you should expose
Though all your
Gloss Note
strength
strenght
you should expose
44
You want the Organe cal’d a Noſe
You want the organ called a nose.
You want the Organe cal’d a Nose

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45
Prodigious the Knight Remains
Gloss Note
wondrous
Prodigious
, the knight remains
Prodigious the Knight Remains
46
Withous or Noſe, or ffame or Brains,
Without
Gloss Note
either
or
nose, or fame, or brains.
Gloss Note
Without
Withous
Critical Note
Pulter admonishes Davenant for what she perceived was an increasing likelihood that he would defect to serve the Parliamentarians by tying political honour to sexual honour, with the corruption in Davenant’s nose at risk of spreading to his ‘fame [and] brains’. A knight with title but no intelligence, reputation, or nose would be a monstrous wonder (‘prodigious’).
or Nose, or Fame, or Brains
,
47
Then I bold ordinance Strook the Title of
Then a
Critical Note
Eardley speculates that this alludes to “An Ordinance Concerning the Peers of Parliament, and other Honors and Titles” (1646), which prevented peers created since 1642 from sitting in Parliament and voided their titles. Charles I had made Davenant a knight in 1643.
bold ordinance
struck the title off;
Then A bold ordinance
Gloss Note
Parliament’s ‘bold ordinance’ of 1646 voided (struck off) any titles conferred by the King since May 20, 1642, thus including Davenant’s knighthood granted in 1643.
strook the Title of
48
Thus the proud Parces Sit and at us Scofe
Thus the proud
Gloss Note
the three female Fates
Parcae
sit, and at us scoff.
Thus the proud
Critical Note
The Parcae are the three female Fates. Pulter’s anglicised plural, corrected in modernised editions to the Latin ‘Parcae’, may add further weight to suggestions she accessed Latin texts only in translation: in particular, Sarah Hutton and Alice Eardley suggest that she may have come to knowledge of Galileo through Henry More’s (1614–1687) Philosophical Poems (1647) (Eardley, ‘Introduction’, p. 11). ‘Parcae’ appears differently throughout the manuscript: from a possessive ‘Parces’ (Aletheia's Pearl [Poem 32]) and plural ‘Parce’ (Universal Dissolution [Poem 6]), to blotted plurals ‘Parces[?]’ (The Eclipse [Poem 1]) and ‘Parcia[?]’ (On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7]). This adds further weight to my belief that she was unfamiliar with Tagliacozzi’s original De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, and instead accessed understanding of the nose reconstructions from sympathy books like Walter Charlton’s translation of Johannes Baptista van Helmont’s A Ternary of Paradoxes (London: 1649).
Parces
sit and at us Scofe
49
What now remains the Man at Least
What now remains? The man at least?
What now remains the Man at Least
50
Noe Surely nothing left but Beast
No, surely nothing left but beast.
Noe surely nothing left but
Critical Note
Pulter’s warnings about the lure of a “Coy Young Lass” and Davenant as “Beast” signal her disapproval of the libertine tendencies of men like Davenant, evident throughout her oeuvre (see for example The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and The Unfortunate Florinda, which Peter C. Herman discusses in detail: ‘Lady Hester Pulter’s “The Unfortunate Florinda”: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Rape’ Renaissance Quarterly 63.4 [2010]: pp 1208–1246).
Beast
51
Then Royall ffavour glu’d it on again
Then royal favor glued it on again,
Then Royall Favour
Critical Note
The use of ‘glued’ for the restitution of Davenant’s knighthood parallels it with the reattachment of his nose.
glu’d
it on again
52
And now the
Physical Note
“K” appears to correct earlier “R”
K:t
is Bow-di’de and in grain
And now the knight is
Gloss Note
“bow-dyed” is dyed scarlet (named for the Bow Bridge in proximity to the workplace of dyers); the state of being “ingrain,” or “ingrained,” is to have caused a dye to sink into the texture of a fabric and thus be indelible. These lines refer to King Charles’s knighting of Davenant in 1643, which restores the honor he lost when his nose was disfigured.
bow-dyed and ingrain
.
And now the Knight is Bow-di’de and in grain
53
Then Trample not that Hono:r in ye Dust
Then trample not that honor in the dust
Then Trample not that Honour in the
Critical Note
As Eardley notes, Pulter’s employment of ‘dust’ generally draws on its Biblical use as matter of human mortality: ‘for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19). More broadly, Pulter here continues her juxtaposition of esteemed qualities (honour, wit, nobility) with the baseness affiliated with Davenant’s sexual misbehaviour and corporal loss.
Dust
54
In beeing a Slave to thoſe are Slaves to Lust
Gloss Note
“those” is ambiguous, but generally signifies temptations.
In being a slave to those are slaves to lust.
In beeing a Slave to those are Slaves to Lust
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

“Sir William Davenant” (1606–1668). Despite Pulter’s use of initials, there would have been little ambiguity around the identity of this knight. Davenant had contracted the pox in the late 1620s or early 1630s (in 1633 he refers to himself as a ‘long-sick Poet’). The Queen’s physician, Thomas Cademan, treated Davenant with a customary mercury salivation, in which mercury was rubbed, inhaled or ingested into the body to prompt saliva and sweating and ‘flush out’ the disease. Davenant addressed public poems of thanks that conceded his receipt of ‘Devill Mercurie’, thus acknowledging the venereal nature of his distemper (Mary Edmond, Rare Sir William Davenant [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987], pp. 45–46). After the bridge of his nose collapsed and flattened, this became a common point of ribaldry among political and poetic rivals, whose poems are discussed in detail by Marcus Nevitt (‘The Insults of Defeat: Royalist Responses to Sir William Davenant’s Gondibert [1651]’ The Seventeenth Century 24.2 [2009]: pp 287–304).
Title note

 Critical note

While Pulter’s tone is mildly hyperbolic, surgeons who wrote on injuries and disfigurements to the nose often remarked on its centrality and importance for the face’s beauty, and thus the need to take particular care to reduce scarring and misshaping. Pulter refers to the importance of shape in Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] when she praises her daughter’s “white even nose”.

 Editorial note

I have opted to complement the modernised Elemental Edition with a semi-diplomatic transcription in order to give readers a sense of the gains and losses in each style. I have retained original spelling and punctuation, but amended uses of u/v/w, i/j, and ff/F. Where a colon and superscription indicating abbreviation is incidental rather than substantive this has been expanded with italics; so too for the single use of a thorn for ‘the’.
The poem does not have as many classical references as some of Pulter’s other work, but instead builds from a central trope drawn from contemporary medicine and science, which I have explained for the general reader. The annotations are therefore less explanatory than interpretive, based on my reading of the poem in the context of British responses to the nose and especially nose reconstruction and transplantation (see Cock, Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019]). As I attempt to show, there is more to this poem than a funny joke about legs and noses.

 Headnote

In this humorous and rather uncharacteristic poem, Pulter uses contemporary understanding of nose reconstruction and transplantation to engage with Interregnum politics by imaginatively offering the playwright and poet Sir William Davenant a piece of her own body for the reconstruction of his nose. Davenant’s nasal bridge was famously sunken through the effects of the pox (syphilis) and its customary treatment with mercury. This association with venereal disease, and wider uses of nose cutting as a stigmatising punishment, meant that nasal disfigurements were considered highly dishonourable in early modern Europe.
While it had its roots in real surgical procedures to rebuild a nose, lip, or ear from a flap of the patient’s own skin, the full transplantation of a skin graft between individuals was largely a fantasy, which was used by British authors to a range of discursive ends. The graft employed to reconstruct the nose was understood to remain absolutely part of the original person, and it was thought to die when the original person did due to a medical phenomenon known as ‘sympathy’. Thus, through the logic of the transplant, part of Pulter’s private body is imaginatively attached to Davenant and brought into public politics. Within the poem, the success and longevity of Davenant’s new nose—and the Royalist project and authority it represents—become contingent upon Pulter. If he fails to offer sufficient loyal service, prayers for Pulter, and care for the nose in recompense, he will be truly worth the dishonour of noselessness.
Line number 3

 Critical note

Pulter has created a mock version of what Kate Lilley calls the ‘proxy elegy’, commemorating the death of Davenant’s nose by offering him her sympathy and an attempt at reparation (Kate Lilley, ‘True State Within: Women’s Elegy 1640–1700’, in Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman [eds.] Women, Writing, History 1640–1740 [London: Batsford, 1992]: pp 72–92).
Line number 4

 Critical note

The elaborate Eleanor Cross in Cheapside had been erected in 1289 by Edward I in memory of his wife. Royalists considered its removal on 2 May 1643 a highly symbolic blow against civil and religious values. By pairing this simile with a further comparison to a sundial without a gnomon (the protruding arm that casts a shadow), Pulter draws attention to both the symbolic and functional importance of the nose for Davenant’s face.
Line number 8

 Critical note

Pulter refers to belief that a new nose could be constructed from skin or flesh taken from another person. The origins for this belief lie in Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi’s (1545–1599) techniques for reconstructing a nose, lip or ear using skin flaps taken from the patient’s own arm, which he detailed in a lavishly illustrated Latin folio, De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: 1597) (for Tagliacozzi’s operation and career in the context of Italian surgery see Valeria Finucci, The Prince’s Body: Vincenzo Gonzaga and Renaissance Medicine [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015); Paolo Savoia, Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery: Faces, Men, and Pain [London: Routledge, 2019]). The use of skin flaps in this way has ancient origins, but in early modern Europe Tagliacozzi enjoyed a monopolist (but controversial) reputation after publication. Professional misunderstandings and popular rumours led to widespread belief that the new nose could also be built using a graft from someone else, though Tagliacozzi had rejected the feasibility of this operation.
Line number 10

 Critical note

Pulter’s invocation of flesh and bone echoes Genesis 2:23–24, but hesitation to be of the same ‘Bone’ as Davenant may also refer to the skeletal damage caused by syphilis, which as ‘rotting shins’ was a ubiquitous referent.
Line number 11

 Critical note

The suggestion that Pulter is ‘unknown’ to Davenant means that he is unlikely to have seen this poem, despite its direct address to him (“Sir,” “your,” etc) and reiterates that the graft was never a literal offer. It also means that Pulter is unlikely to have known other members of the Royalist ‘Cavendish Circle’ in Paris who promoted sympathetic medicine, such as Walter Charleton and Sir Kenelm Digby, thus further restricting her sources for this knowledge (on these men and sympathy see Seth Lobis, The Virtue of Sympathy: Magic, Philosophy, and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015]; Elizabeth Hedrick, “Romancing the Salve: Sir Kenelm Digby and the Powder of Sympathy”, The British Journal for the History of Science 41.2 (2008): 161–85; Emily Booth, A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707) [Dordrecht: Springer, 2006]).
Line number 11

 Critical note

Pulter’s iteration that she would slight (brush off, disregard) the pain of the operation undercuts the modesty of her surrounding protestations that anyone, male or female, would be willing to give up their flesh to help restore Davenant’s nose and honour, thus increasing the value of her offer.
Line number 14

 Critical note

One strand of the nose graft story suggested that an actual nose would be transplanted to the patient, and may have been encouraged by the larger number of successful nose reattachments than skin flap reconstructions in the period. But Pulter recognises that this would be an imbalanced transaction: just as Davenant’s wit fails to make up for the lack of his own nose in terms of professional authority and personal identity, so too would it be insufficient payment for any other person who was to provide their own nose for his respite.
Line number 16

 Critical note

Giving Davenant her own nose will transfer his problem onto her, and lead people to suspect that she has lost her nose to the pox too.
Line number 20

 Critical note

This is in part a denial of a sexual relationship, through which Davenant might have passed on his noselessness. But in emphasising that this will be an act of charity, Pulter also elevates herself above Davenant as the recipient, and leads them into a relationship of hospitality.
Line number 22

 Critical note

Having established that her nose is too valuable to give up, Pulter must beg Davenant’s pardon for offering a skin graft from her leg instead. This qualification also fulfils gendered requirements of humility, as Pulter does not presume herself to be able to fully replace Davenant’s own, God-given nose.
Line number 23

 Critical note

The reciprocal obligations of Pulter’s offer start to become apparent, as she uses the graft and understandings of medical sympathy to establish an imaginative relationship with Davenant, and a debt from him that gives her political influence within the poem.
Line number 23

 Gloss note

both
Line number 27

 Critical note

While the ‘Frail Flesh’ is a rhetorical commonplace for Pulter and others, possibly originating in the Wycliffe Bible’s translation of Matthew 26:41, Pulter’s use here includes an element of performed humility: though she emphasises the ‘frailty’ of her own body, it is Davenant’s that has fallen out of his control.
Line number 28

 Critical note

'Sympathy' was a system of influence between matter that was at a physical distance (see Lobis; Evelyn L. Forget, ‘Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology’, History of Political Economy 35 (2005): 282–308). Medically it could be used to treat a patient elsewhere, such as healing a wound by applying a ‘weapon salve’ to the weapon that had made it. When applied to allograft rhinoplasty, the doctrine of sympathy dictated that when the person from whom the skin graft was taken died, the new nose would ‘die’ with them. Sympathy was contentious, and increasingly elaborate stories of nose transplants would later be used to satirise believers (Alanna Skuse, ‘“Keep your face out of my way or I'll bite off your nose”: Homoplastics, Sympathy, and the Noble Body in The Tatler, 1710’, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 17.4 (2017): 113-132). Samuel Butler included a joke about a reconstructed nose in the first part of his wildly successful mock-epic poem, Hudibras (1662), which cemented the mythology of the sympathetic nose as being sourced from a lower-class man’s buttocks (in Butler, ‘The brawny part of Porter’s Bum’) to restore the nose of a higher-status man. Thus Pulter warns Davenant that he should pray for the preservation of her own life as much as his, since if she dies (visits the ‘sad shades below’) so too will his new nose. Pulter’s reiteration that Davenant’s new nose will in fact be her skin offers an imaginative means by which a piece of her body will be present at the centre of Royalist politics, while the rest of her is politely ensconced in her country estate.
Line number 34

 Critical note

Pulter’s brother-in-law was the son of John Harington, who translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and she refers to the book frequently (Alice Eardley, ‘Introduction’, in Eardley (ed.) Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014]: pp 1–38, at p. 17). The virtuous Orlando is jilted by his beloved, Angelica, in favour of an African soldier, Medore, and loses his wits. Pulter suggests that Davenant’s noselessness might lead to similar rejections if it cannot balance out his good qualities of nobility and intelligence, leading him to be rejected by a Lass whom Cupid (the “blind Boy”) leads him to adore. Nevitt highlights that Orlando’s fault “is as much a renunciation of religious and political allegiance as it is a capitulation to bestial instinct”, thus rendering Pulter’s integration of the poem further commentary on Davenant’s possible exacerbation of sexual with political weakness (‘Insults’, 289).
Line number 38

 Critical note

Like Pulter’s skin graft assisting Davenant while she is far away, another “Nobleminded Friend” will need to travel to Heaven to retrieve Davenant’s brains. She thus evokes the possible contributions of networks of friends, especially dispersed Royalists.
Line number 40

 Critical note

Pulter further compliments Davenant’s ‘wit’ by suggesting his brain would require a very large container.
Line number 42

 Critical note

Orlando’s wits sit in a jar on the moon, and he snorts them back into his head after they are collected by Astolpho. Pulter reminds Davenant that without a nose he will have no such recourse.
Line number 43

 Gloss note

strength
Line number 46

 Gloss note

Without
Line number 46

 Critical note

Pulter admonishes Davenant for what she perceived was an increasing likelihood that he would defect to serve the Parliamentarians by tying political honour to sexual honour, with the corruption in Davenant’s nose at risk of spreading to his ‘fame [and] brains’. A knight with title but no intelligence, reputation, or nose would be a monstrous wonder (‘prodigious’).
Line number 47

 Gloss note

Parliament’s ‘bold ordinance’ of 1646 voided (struck off) any titles conferred by the King since May 20, 1642, thus including Davenant’s knighthood granted in 1643.
Line number 48

 Critical note

The Parcae are the three female Fates. Pulter’s anglicised plural, corrected in modernised editions to the Latin ‘Parcae’, may add further weight to suggestions she accessed Latin texts only in translation: in particular, Sarah Hutton and Alice Eardley suggest that she may have come to knowledge of Galileo through Henry More’s (1614–1687) Philosophical Poems (1647) (Eardley, ‘Introduction’, p. 11). ‘Parcae’ appears differently throughout the manuscript: from a possessive ‘Parces’ (Aletheia's Pearl [Poem 32]) and plural ‘Parce’ (Universal Dissolution [Poem 6]), to blotted plurals ‘Parces[?]’ (The Eclipse [Poem 1]) and ‘Parcia[?]’ (On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7]). This adds further weight to my belief that she was unfamiliar with Tagliacozzi’s original De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, and instead accessed understanding of the nose reconstructions from sympathy books like Walter Charlton’s translation of Johannes Baptista van Helmont’s A Ternary of Paradoxes (London: 1649).
Line number 50

 Critical note

Pulter’s warnings about the lure of a “Coy Young Lass” and Davenant as “Beast” signal her disapproval of the libertine tendencies of men like Davenant, evident throughout her oeuvre (see for example The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and The Unfortunate Florinda, which Peter C. Herman discusses in detail: ‘Lady Hester Pulter’s “The Unfortunate Florinda”: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Rape’ Renaissance Quarterly 63.4 [2010]: pp 1208–1246).
Line number 51

 Critical note

The use of ‘glued’ for the restitution of Davenant’s knighthood parallels it with the reattachment of his nose.
Line number 53

 Critical note

As Eardley notes, Pulter’s employment of ‘dust’ generally draws on its Biblical use as matter of human mortality: ‘for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19). More broadly, Pulter here continues her juxtaposition of esteemed qualities (honour, wit, nobility) with the baseness affiliated with Davenant’s sexual misbehaviour and corporal loss.
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Amplified Edition

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To S:rW:m D: Upon the unſpeakable Loſs of the most conspicious and chief Ornament of his ffrontispiece
Gloss Note
William Davenant (1606-1668) was a famous English playwright who served as poet laureate and was knighted by Charles I. In 1630, he contracted syphilis and took mercury as a cure, which disfigured his nose. An “ornament” is an accessory; a “frontispiece” is a face but also the front of a building, the engraved panel over an entrance, or the first page or title page of a book.
To Sir William Davenant: Upon the Unspeakable Loss of the Most Conspicuous and Chief Ornament of His Frontispiece
To
Critical Note
“Sir William Davenant” (1606–1668). Despite Pulter’s use of initials, there would have been little ambiguity around the identity of this knight. Davenant had contracted the pox in the late 1620s or early 1630s (in 1633 he refers to himself as a ‘long-sick Poet’). The Queen’s physician, Thomas Cademan, treated Davenant with a customary mercury salivation, in which mercury was rubbed, inhaled or ingested into the body to prompt saliva and sweating and ‘flush out’ the disease. Davenant addressed public poems of thanks that conceded his receipt of ‘Devill Mercurie’, thus acknowledging the venereal nature of his distemper (Mary Edmond, Rare Sir William Davenant [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987], pp. 45–46). After the bridge of his nose collapsed and flattened, this became a common point of ribaldry among political and poetic rivals, whose poems are discussed in detail by Marcus Nevitt (‘The Insults of Defeat: Royalist Responses to Sir William Davenant’s Gondibert [1651]’ The Seventeenth Century 24.2 [2009]: pp 287–304).
S:rW:m D:
Upon the unspeakable Loss of the
Critical Note
While Pulter’s tone is mildly hyperbolic, surgeons who wrote on injuries and disfigurements to the nose often remarked on its centrality and importance for the face’s beauty, and thus the need to take particular care to reduce scarring and misshaping. Pulter refers to the importance of shape in Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] when she praises her daughter’s “white even nose”.
most conspicuous and chief Ornament
of his Frontispiece
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.

— Emily Cock
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.

— Emily Cock
I have opted to complement the modernised Elemental Edition with a semi-diplomatic transcription in order to give readers a sense of the gains and losses in each style. I have retained original spelling and punctuation, but amended uses of u/v/w, i/j, and ff/F. Where a colon and superscription indicating abbreviation is incidental rather than substantive this has been expanded with italics; so too for the single use of a thorn for ‘the’.
The poem does not have as many classical references as some of Pulter’s other work, but instead builds from a central trope drawn from contemporary medicine and science, which I have explained for the general reader. The annotations are therefore less explanatory than interpretive, based on my reading of the poem in the context of British responses to the nose and especially nose reconstruction and transplantation (see Cock, Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019]). As I attempt to show, there is more to this poem than a funny joke about legs and noses.


— Emily Cock
Sir William Davenant, who was about Pulter’s age, famously suffered from a sexually-transmitted disease as well as its cure: the medicinal application of mercury, which we now know to be terribly poisonous. The consequent disfigurement of his nose is the somewhat unusual (for Pulter) subject matter of this poem, which is equally unusual in its direct address of Davenant. While overtly sympathizing with his loss, the speaker’s imagery and imagination ranges boldly from the witty to the caustic and grotesque.

— Emily Cock
In this humorous and rather uncharacteristic poem, Pulter uses contemporary understanding of nose reconstruction and transplantation to engage with Interregnum politics by imaginatively offering the playwright and poet Sir William Davenant a piece of her own body for the reconstruction of his nose. Davenant’s nasal bridge was famously sunken through the effects of the pox (syphilis) and its customary treatment with mercury. This association with venereal disease, and wider uses of nose cutting as a stigmatising punishment, meant that nasal disfigurements were considered highly dishonourable in early modern Europe.
While it had its roots in real surgical procedures to rebuild a nose, lip, or ear from a flap of the patient’s own skin, the full transplantation of a skin graft between individuals was largely a fantasy, which was used by British authors to a range of discursive ends. The graft employed to reconstruct the nose was understood to remain absolutely part of the original person, and it was thought to die when the original person did due to a medical phenomenon known as ‘sympathy’. Thus, through the logic of the transplant, part of Pulter’s private body is imaginatively attached to Davenant and brought into public politics. Within the poem, the success and longevity of Davenant’s new nose—and the Royalist project and authority it represents—become contingent upon Pulter. If he fails to offer sufficient loyal service, prayers for Pulter, and care for the nose in recompense, he will be truly worth the dishonour of noselessness.


— Emily Cock
1
S:r
Sir,
Sir
2
3
Extreamly I deplore your loſs
Extremely I
Gloss Note
lament
deplore
your loss:
Extreamly
Critical Note
Pulter has created a mock version of what Kate Lilley calls the ‘proxy elegy’, commemorating the death of Davenant’s nose by offering him her sympathy and an attempt at reparation (Kate Lilley, ‘True State Within: Women’s Elegy 1640–1700’, in Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman [eds.] Women, Writing, History 1640–1740 [London: Batsford, 1992]: pp 72–92).
I deplore your loss
4
You’r like Cheapſide without a
Physical Note
“r” written over another letter
Croſs
You’re like
Gloss Note
Cheapside was a location in London which had a stone carved cross erected on it to memorialize the funeral procession of King Edward I’s wife; the cross was destroyed in 1643 by an act of Parliament targeting “monuments of superstition and idolatry.”
Cheapside without a cross
,
You’r like
Critical Note
The elaborate Eleanor Cross in Cheapside had been erected in 1289 by Edward I in memory of his wife. Royalists considered its removal on 2 May 1643 a highly symbolic blow against civil and religious values. By pairing this simile with a further comparison to a sundial without a gnomon (the protruding arm that casts a shadow), Pulter draws attention to both the symbolic and functional importance of the nose for Davenant’s face.
Cheapside without a Cross
5
Or like A Diall
Physical Note
in H2; “and noe” directly above cancelled “Gnoman,” struck-through twice
Gnomanand noe
Gnoman
Or like a dial and no
Gloss Note
A pin or rod that indicates the time of day by casting its shadow upon the surface of a sundial: a dial without the rod is useless.
gnomon
;
Or like a Dial and noe Gnoman
6
In pitty (trust mee) I think noe man
In pity (trust me) I think no man
In pitty (trust mee) I think noe man
7
But would his Leg or Arm expoſe
But would his leg or arm expose
But would his Leg or Arm expose
8
To cut you out another Noſe
To cut you out another nose;
To
Critical Note
Pulter refers to belief that a new nose could be constructed from skin or flesh taken from another person. The origins for this belief lie in Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi’s (1545–1599) techniques for reconstructing a nose, lip or ear using skin flaps taken from the patient’s own arm, which he detailed in a lavishly illustrated Latin folio, De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: 1597) (for Tagliacozzi’s operation and career in the context of Italian surgery see Valeria Finucci, The Prince’s Body: Vincenzo Gonzaga and Renaissance Medicine [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015); Paolo Savoia, Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery: Faces, Men, and Pain [London: Routledge, 2019]). The use of skin flaps in this way has ancient origins, but in early modern Europe Tagliacozzi enjoyed a monopolist (but controversial) reputation after publication. Professional misunderstandings and popular rumours led to widespread belief that the new nose could also be built using a graft from someone else, though Tagliacozzi had rejected the feasibility of this operation.
cut you out another Nose
9
Nor of the ffemale Sex thers none
Nor of the female sex there’s none
Nor of the Female Sex thers none
10
But’ld bee one ffleſh though not one Bone
Gloss Note
But would
But’ld
be
Critical Note
would marry him even if not agreeing to offer up their bones. On marriage as becoming “one flesh,” see Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
one flesh, though not one bone
.
But’ld bee
Critical Note
Pulter’s invocation of flesh and bone echoes Genesis 2:23–24, but hesitation to be of the same ‘Bone’ as Davenant may also refer to the skeletal damage caused by syphilis, which as ‘rotting shins’ was a ubiquitous referent.
one Flesh though not one Bone
11
I though unknown would Sleight the pain
I, though unknown, would
Gloss Note
disregard
slight
the pain
I though
Critical Note
The suggestion that Pulter is ‘unknown’ to Davenant means that he is unlikely to have seen this poem, despite its direct address to him (“Sir,” “your,” etc) and reiterates that the graft was never a literal offer. It also means that Pulter is unlikely to have known other members of the Royalist ‘Cavendish Circle’ in Paris who promoted sympathetic medicine, such as Walter Charleton and Sir Kenelm Digby, thus further restricting her sources for this knowledge (on these men and sympathy see Seth Lobis, The Virtue of Sympathy: Magic, Philosophy, and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015]; Elizabeth Hedrick, “Romancing the Salve: Sir Kenelm Digby and the Powder of Sympathy”, The British Journal for the History of Science 41.2 (2008): 161–85; Emily Booth, A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707) [Dordrecht: Springer, 2006]).
unknown
would
Critical Note
Pulter’s iteration that she would slight (brush off, disregard) the pain of the operation undercuts the modesty of her surrounding protestations that anyone, male or female, would be willing to give up their flesh to help restore Davenant’s nose and honour, thus increasing the value of her offer.
sleight the pain
12
That you might haue Soe great a gain
That you might have so great a gain.
That you might have Soe great a gain
13
Nay Any ffool did hee know itt
Nay, any fool, did he know it,
Nay Any Fool did hee know itt
14
Would give his Noſe to have yo:r Wit
Would give his nose to have your wit,
Would
Critical Note
One strand of the nose graft story suggested that an actual nose would be transplanted to the patient, and may have been encouraged by the larger number of successful nose reattachments than skin flap reconstructions in the period. But Pulter recognises that this would be an imbalanced transaction: just as Davenant’s wit fails to make up for the lack of his own nose in terms of professional authority and personal identity, so too would it be insufficient payment for any other person who was to provide their own nose for his respite.
give his Nose
to have your Wit
15
And I my Self would doe the Same
And I myself would do the same,
And I my Self would doe the same
16
Did I not fear t’wold Blur my ffame
Did I not fear ’twould
Gloss Note
The loss of a nose could be a sign of syphilis or criminal punishment, thus hurting one’s reputation.
blur my fame
.
Did I not fear t’wold
Critical Note
Giving Davenant her own nose will transfer his problem onto her, and lead people to suspect that she has lost her nose to the pox too.
Blur my Fame
17
I as once Said a Gallant Dame
I, as once said a
Gloss Note
refined, noble
gallant
dame,
I as once said a Gallant Dame
18
My Noſe would venture not my ffame
My nose would
Gloss Note
risk
venture
, not my fame;
My Nose would venture not my Fame
19
ffor who but that Bright eye above
For who but that
Gloss Note
the sun, symbol of God
bright eye
above
For who but that Bright eye above
20
Would know twere Charity not Love
Would know ’twere charity, not love.
Would know twere
Critical Note
This is in part a denial of a sexual relationship, through which Davenant might have passed on his noselessness. But in emphasising that this will be an act of charity, Pulter also elevates herself above Davenant as the recipient, and leads them into a relationship of hospitality.
Charity not Love
21
Then S:r your Pardon I must Beg
Then, sir, your pardon I must beg;
Then Sir your Pardon I must Beg
22
Excuſe my Noſe accept my Leg
Excuse my nose,
Gloss Note
The speaker will allow a skin graft from her leg, or she is offering to curtsy as she asks for pardon.
accept my leg
.
Excuse my Nose
Critical Note
Having established that her nose is too valuable to give up, Pulter must beg Davenant’s pardon for offering a skin graft from her leg instead. This qualification also fulfils gendered requirements of humility, as Pulter does not presume herself to be able to fully replace Davenant’s own, God-given nose.
accept my Leg

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23
But yet beſure bot night and Day
But yet, be sure both night and day
Critical Note
The reciprocal obligations of Pulter’s offer start to become apparent, as she uses the graft and understandings of medical sympathy to establish an imaginative relationship with Davenant, and a debt from him that gives her political influence within the poem.
But
yet besure
Gloss Note
both
bot
night and Day
24
ffor mee as for your Self you pray
For me, as for yourself, you pray;
For mee as for your Self you pray
25
ffor if I ffirst should chance to goe
For if I first should chance to go
For if I First should chance to goe
26
To viſit thoſe Sad Shades below
To visit those
Gloss Note
the netherworld or people in it
sad shades
below,
To visit those sad shades below
27
As my ffrail ffleſh there putrifies
As my frail flesh there putrefies,
As my
Critical Note
While the ‘Frail Flesh’ is a rhetorical commonplace for Pulter and others, possibly originating in the Wycliffe Bible’s translation of Matthew 26:41, Pulter’s use here includes an element of performed humility: though she emphasises the ‘frailty’ of her own body, it is Davenant’s that has fallen out of his control.
Frail Flesh
there putrifies
28
Your Noſe noe doubt will Sympathize
Your nose, no doubt, will sympathize.
Your Nose noe doubt will
Critical Note
'Sympathy' was a system of influence between matter that was at a physical distance (see Lobis; Evelyn L. Forget, ‘Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology’, History of Political Economy 35 (2005): 282–308). Medically it could be used to treat a patient elsewhere, such as healing a wound by applying a ‘weapon salve’ to the weapon that had made it. When applied to allograft rhinoplasty, the doctrine of sympathy dictated that when the person from whom the skin graft was taken died, the new nose would ‘die’ with them. Sympathy was contentious, and increasingly elaborate stories of nose transplants would later be used to satirise believers (Alanna Skuse, ‘“Keep your face out of my way or I'll bite off your nose”: Homoplastics, Sympathy, and the Noble Body in The Tatler, 1710’, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 17.4 (2017): 113-132). Samuel Butler included a joke about a reconstructed nose in the first part of his wildly successful mock-epic poem, Hudibras (1662), which cemented the mythology of the sympathetic nose as being sourced from a lower-class man’s buttocks (in Butler, ‘The brawny part of Porter’s Bum’) to restore the nose of a higher-status man. Thus Pulter warns Davenant that he should pray for the preservation of her own life as much as his, since if she dies (visits the ‘sad shades below’) so too will his new nose. Pulter’s reiteration that Davenant’s new nose will in fact be her skin offers an imaginative means by which a piece of her body will be present at the centre of Royalist politics, while the rest of her is politely ensconced in her country estate.
Sympathize
29
But this I fear least that blind Boy
But this I fear: lest that
Gloss Note
Cupid
blind boy
But this I fear least that blind Boy
30
Which ffate deſcend (Yet such a Toy
Which fate
Gloss Note
sends down
descends
(yet such a
Gloss Note
trivial thing
toy
Which Fate descend (Yet such a Toy
31
May take the Chit) Should Shoot again
May take the
Gloss Note
bratty child
chit
) should shoot again,
May take the Chit) should shoot again
32
Then the Next loſs would bee yo:r Brain
Gloss Note
perhaps suggesting that Cupid (the “chit”) might not be able to resist Davenant, particularly his brain (the “toy”), and will strike again, making him figuratively lose his head as well as his nose.
Then the next loss would be your brain.
Then the Next loss would bee your Brain
33
Some Coy Young Laſs you Might Adore
Some coy young lass you might adore,
Some Coy Young Lass you Might Adore
34
Which would prefer Some baſe Medore
Which would prefer some base
Gloss Note
Medoro is a non-noble Moor (or Muslim) in Ludovico Ariosto’s 1532 poem, Orlando Furioso, with whom Angelica (a Chinese princess at the court of Charlemagne) falls in love (thus rejecting the title character Orlando).
Medore
,
Which would prefer some base
Critical Note
Pulter’s brother-in-law was the son of John Harington, who translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and she refers to the book frequently (Alice Eardley, ‘Introduction’, in Eardley (ed.) Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014]: pp 1–38, at p. 17). The virtuous Orlando is jilted by his beloved, Angelica, in favour of an African soldier, Medore, and loses his wits. Pulter suggests that Davenant’s noselessness might lead to similar rejections if it cannot balance out his good qualities of nobility and intelligence, leading him to be rejected by a Lass whom Cupid (the “blind Boy”) leads him to adore. Nevitt highlights that Orlando’s fault “is as much a renunciation of religious and political allegiance as it is a capitulation to bestial instinct”, thus rendering Pulter’s integration of the poem further commentary on Davenant’s possible exacerbation of sexual with political weakness (‘Insults’, 289).
Medore
35
And all your Witt and Titles Sleight
And all your wit and titles slight:
And all your Witt and Titles sleight
36
Imbrace a Page before a Knight
Embrace a page before a knight.
Imbrace a Page before a Knight
37
Then Should Some Nobleminded ffreind
Then should some noble-minded friend,
Then should some Nobleminded Freind
38
Astolpho like to Heaven
Physical Note
“c” appears added later, in darker ink
aſcend
Gloss Note
Astolpho is a character in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso who flies in a flaming chariot to the moon where all things that have been lost on Earth are stored in jars. Here he recovers the wits that the title character Orlando had lost when rejected by his beloved. Astolfo makes Orlando snort his wits back up his nose.
Astolfo-like
, to heaven ascend,
Astolpho like to
Critical Note
Like Pulter’s skin graft assisting Davenant while she is far away, another “Nobleminded Friend” will need to travel to Heaven to retrieve Davenant’s brains. She thus evokes the possible contributions of networks of friends, especially dispersed Royalists.
Heaven
ascend
39
And having Search’d neare and ffarr
And having searchéd near and far
And having search’d neare and Farr
40
And found your most capacious Jarr
And found your most capacious jar,
And found your most
Critical Note
Pulter further compliments Davenant’s ‘wit’ by suggesting his brain would require a very large container.
capacious Jarr
41
Then beeing with Joy Returnd again
Then being, with joy, returned again
Then beeing with Joy Returnd again
42
You could not then Snuf up your Brain
You could not then snuff up your brain:
You could not then
Critical Note
Orlando’s wits sit in a jar on the moon, and he snorts them back into his head after they are collected by Astolpho. Pulter reminds Davenant that without a nose he will have no such recourse.
snuf up your Brain
43
Though all your Strenght you Should expoſe
Though all your strength you should expose
Though all your
Gloss Note
strength
strenght
you should expose
44
You want the Organe cal’d a Noſe
You want the organ called a nose.
You want the Organe cal’d a Nose

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45
Prodigious the Knight Remains
Gloss Note
wondrous
Prodigious
, the knight remains
Prodigious the Knight Remains
46
Withous or Noſe, or ffame or Brains,
Without
Gloss Note
either
or
nose, or fame, or brains.
Gloss Note
Without
Withous
Critical Note
Pulter admonishes Davenant for what she perceived was an increasing likelihood that he would defect to serve the Parliamentarians by tying political honour to sexual honour, with the corruption in Davenant’s nose at risk of spreading to his ‘fame [and] brains’. A knight with title but no intelligence, reputation, or nose would be a monstrous wonder (‘prodigious’).
or Nose, or Fame, or Brains
,
47
Then I bold ordinance Strook the Title of
Then a
Critical Note
Eardley speculates that this alludes to “An Ordinance Concerning the Peers of Parliament, and other Honors and Titles” (1646), which prevented peers created since 1642 from sitting in Parliament and voided their titles. Charles I had made Davenant a knight in 1643.
bold ordinance
struck the title off;
Then A bold ordinance
Gloss Note
Parliament’s ‘bold ordinance’ of 1646 voided (struck off) any titles conferred by the King since May 20, 1642, thus including Davenant’s knighthood granted in 1643.
strook the Title of
48
Thus the proud Parces Sit and at us Scofe
Thus the proud
Gloss Note
the three female Fates
Parcae
sit, and at us scoff.
Thus the proud
Critical Note
The Parcae are the three female Fates. Pulter’s anglicised plural, corrected in modernised editions to the Latin ‘Parcae’, may add further weight to suggestions she accessed Latin texts only in translation: in particular, Sarah Hutton and Alice Eardley suggest that she may have come to knowledge of Galileo through Henry More’s (1614–1687) Philosophical Poems (1647) (Eardley, ‘Introduction’, p. 11). ‘Parcae’ appears differently throughout the manuscript: from a possessive ‘Parces’ (Aletheia's Pearl [Poem 32]) and plural ‘Parce’ (Universal Dissolution [Poem 6]), to blotted plurals ‘Parces[?]’ (The Eclipse [Poem 1]) and ‘Parcia[?]’ (On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7]). This adds further weight to my belief that she was unfamiliar with Tagliacozzi’s original De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, and instead accessed understanding of the nose reconstructions from sympathy books like Walter Charlton’s translation of Johannes Baptista van Helmont’s A Ternary of Paradoxes (London: 1649).
Parces
sit and at us Scofe
49
What now remains the Man at Least
What now remains? The man at least?
What now remains the Man at Least
50
Noe Surely nothing left but Beast
No, surely nothing left but beast.
Noe surely nothing left but
Critical Note
Pulter’s warnings about the lure of a “Coy Young Lass” and Davenant as “Beast” signal her disapproval of the libertine tendencies of men like Davenant, evident throughout her oeuvre (see for example The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and The Unfortunate Florinda, which Peter C. Herman discusses in detail: ‘Lady Hester Pulter’s “The Unfortunate Florinda”: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Rape’ Renaissance Quarterly 63.4 [2010]: pp 1208–1246).
Beast
51
Then Royall ffavour glu’d it on again
Then royal favor glued it on again,
Then Royall Favour
Critical Note
The use of ‘glued’ for the restitution of Davenant’s knighthood parallels it with the reattachment of his nose.
glu’d
it on again
52
And now the
Physical Note
“K” appears to correct earlier “R”
K:t
is Bow-di’de and in grain
And now the knight is
Gloss Note
“bow-dyed” is dyed scarlet (named for the Bow Bridge in proximity to the workplace of dyers); the state of being “ingrain,” or “ingrained,” is to have caused a dye to sink into the texture of a fabric and thus be indelible. These lines refer to King Charles’s knighting of Davenant in 1643, which restores the honor he lost when his nose was disfigured.
bow-dyed and ingrain
.
And now the Knight is Bow-di’de and in grain
53
Then Trample not that Hono:r in ye Dust
Then trample not that honor in the dust
Then Trample not that Honour in the
Critical Note
As Eardley notes, Pulter’s employment of ‘dust’ generally draws on its Biblical use as matter of human mortality: ‘for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19). More broadly, Pulter here continues her juxtaposition of esteemed qualities (honour, wit, nobility) with the baseness affiliated with Davenant’s sexual misbehaviour and corporal loss.
Dust
54
In beeing a Slave to thoſe are Slaves to Lust
Gloss Note
“those” is ambiguous, but generally signifies temptations.
In being a slave to those are slaves to lust.
In beeing a Slave to those are Slaves to Lust
X (Close panel) All Notes
Elemental Edition
Title note

 Gloss note

William Davenant (1606-1668) was a famous English playwright who served as poet laureate and was knighted by Charles I. In 1630, he contracted syphilis and took mercury as a cure, which disfigured his nose. An “ornament” is an accessory; a “frontispiece” is a face but also the front of a building, the engraved panel over an entrance, or the first page or title page of a book.
Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

“Sir William Davenant” (1606–1668). Despite Pulter’s use of initials, there would have been little ambiguity around the identity of this knight. Davenant had contracted the pox in the late 1620s or early 1630s (in 1633 he refers to himself as a ‘long-sick Poet’). The Queen’s physician, Thomas Cademan, treated Davenant with a customary mercury salivation, in which mercury was rubbed, inhaled or ingested into the body to prompt saliva and sweating and ‘flush out’ the disease. Davenant addressed public poems of thanks that conceded his receipt of ‘Devill Mercurie’, thus acknowledging the venereal nature of his distemper (Mary Edmond, Rare Sir William Davenant [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987], pp. 45–46). After the bridge of his nose collapsed and flattened, this became a common point of ribaldry among political and poetic rivals, whose poems are discussed in detail by Marcus Nevitt (‘The Insults of Defeat: Royalist Responses to Sir William Davenant’s Gondibert [1651]’ The Seventeenth Century 24.2 [2009]: pp 287–304).
Amplified Edition
Title note

 Critical note

While Pulter’s tone is mildly hyperbolic, surgeons who wrote on injuries and disfigurements to the nose often remarked on its centrality and importance for the face’s beauty, and thus the need to take particular care to reduce scarring and misshaping. Pulter refers to the importance of shape in Tell Me No More [On the Same] [Poem 11] when she praises her daughter’s “white even nose”.
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

I have opted to complement the modernised Elemental Edition with a semi-diplomatic transcription in order to give readers a sense of the gains and losses in each style. I have retained original spelling and punctuation, but amended uses of u/v/w, i/j, and ff/F. Where a colon and superscription indicating abbreviation is incidental rather than substantive this has been expanded with italics; so too for the single use of a thorn for ‘the’.
The poem does not have as many classical references as some of Pulter’s other work, but instead builds from a central trope drawn from contemporary medicine and science, which I have explained for the general reader. The annotations are therefore less explanatory than interpretive, based on my reading of the poem in the context of British responses to the nose and especially nose reconstruction and transplantation (see Cock, Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019]). As I attempt to show, there is more to this poem than a funny joke about legs and noses.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

Sir William Davenant, who was about Pulter’s age, famously suffered from a sexually-transmitted disease as well as its cure: the medicinal application of mercury, which we now know to be terribly poisonous. The consequent disfigurement of his nose is the somewhat unusual (for Pulter) subject matter of this poem, which is equally unusual in its direct address of Davenant. While overtly sympathizing with his loss, the speaker’s imagery and imagination ranges boldly from the witty to the caustic and grotesque.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

In this humorous and rather uncharacteristic poem, Pulter uses contemporary understanding of nose reconstruction and transplantation to engage with Interregnum politics by imaginatively offering the playwright and poet Sir William Davenant a piece of her own body for the reconstruction of his nose. Davenant’s nasal bridge was famously sunken through the effects of the pox (syphilis) and its customary treatment with mercury. This association with venereal disease, and wider uses of nose cutting as a stigmatising punishment, meant that nasal disfigurements were considered highly dishonourable in early modern Europe.
While it had its roots in real surgical procedures to rebuild a nose, lip, or ear from a flap of the patient’s own skin, the full transplantation of a skin graft between individuals was largely a fantasy, which was used by British authors to a range of discursive ends. The graft employed to reconstruct the nose was understood to remain absolutely part of the original person, and it was thought to die when the original person did due to a medical phenomenon known as ‘sympathy’. Thus, through the logic of the transplant, part of Pulter’s private body is imaginatively attached to Davenant and brought into public politics. Within the poem, the success and longevity of Davenant’s new nose—and the Royalist project and authority it represents—become contingent upon Pulter. If he fails to offer sufficient loyal service, prayers for Pulter, and care for the nose in recompense, he will be truly worth the dishonour of noselessness.
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

lament
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

Pulter has created a mock version of what Kate Lilley calls the ‘proxy elegy’, commemorating the death of Davenant’s nose by offering him her sympathy and an attempt at reparation (Kate Lilley, ‘True State Within: Women’s Elegy 1640–1700’, in Isobel Grundy and Susan Wiseman [eds.] Women, Writing, History 1640–1740 [London: Batsford, 1992]: pp 72–92).
Transcription
Line number 4

 Physical note

“r” written over another letter
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Cheapside was a location in London which had a stone carved cross erected on it to memorialize the funeral procession of King Edward I’s wife; the cross was destroyed in 1643 by an act of Parliament targeting “monuments of superstition and idolatry.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Critical note

The elaborate Eleanor Cross in Cheapside had been erected in 1289 by Edward I in memory of his wife. Royalists considered its removal on 2 May 1643 a highly symbolic blow against civil and religious values. By pairing this simile with a further comparison to a sundial without a gnomon (the protruding arm that casts a shadow), Pulter draws attention to both the symbolic and functional importance of the nose for Davenant’s face.
Transcription
Line number 5

 Physical note

in H2; “and noe” directly above cancelled “Gnoman,” struck-through twice
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

A pin or rod that indicates the time of day by casting its shadow upon the surface of a sundial: a dial without the rod is useless.
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

Pulter refers to belief that a new nose could be constructed from skin or flesh taken from another person. The origins for this belief lie in Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi’s (1545–1599) techniques for reconstructing a nose, lip or ear using skin flaps taken from the patient’s own arm, which he detailed in a lavishly illustrated Latin folio, De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: 1597) (for Tagliacozzi’s operation and career in the context of Italian surgery see Valeria Finucci, The Prince’s Body: Vincenzo Gonzaga and Renaissance Medicine [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015); Paolo Savoia, Gaspare Tagliacozzi and Early Modern Surgery: Faces, Men, and Pain [London: Routledge, 2019]). The use of skin flaps in this way has ancient origins, but in early modern Europe Tagliacozzi enjoyed a monopolist (but controversial) reputation after publication. Professional misunderstandings and popular rumours led to widespread belief that the new nose could also be built using a graft from someone else, though Tagliacozzi had rejected the feasibility of this operation.
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

But would
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

would marry him even if not agreeing to offer up their bones. On marriage as becoming “one flesh,” see Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

Pulter’s invocation of flesh and bone echoes Genesis 2:23–24, but hesitation to be of the same ‘Bone’ as Davenant may also refer to the skeletal damage caused by syphilis, which as ‘rotting shins’ was a ubiquitous referent.
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

disregard
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

The suggestion that Pulter is ‘unknown’ to Davenant means that he is unlikely to have seen this poem, despite its direct address to him (“Sir,” “your,” etc) and reiterates that the graft was never a literal offer. It also means that Pulter is unlikely to have known other members of the Royalist ‘Cavendish Circle’ in Paris who promoted sympathetic medicine, such as Walter Charleton and Sir Kenelm Digby, thus further restricting her sources for this knowledge (on these men and sympathy see Seth Lobis, The Virtue of Sympathy: Magic, Philosophy, and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015]; Elizabeth Hedrick, “Romancing the Salve: Sir Kenelm Digby and the Powder of Sympathy”, The British Journal for the History of Science 41.2 (2008): 161–85; Emily Booth, A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707) [Dordrecht: Springer, 2006]).
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Critical note

Pulter’s iteration that she would slight (brush off, disregard) the pain of the operation undercuts the modesty of her surrounding protestations that anyone, male or female, would be willing to give up their flesh to help restore Davenant’s nose and honour, thus increasing the value of her offer.
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

One strand of the nose graft story suggested that an actual nose would be transplanted to the patient, and may have been encouraged by the larger number of successful nose reattachments than skin flap reconstructions in the period. But Pulter recognises that this would be an imbalanced transaction: just as Davenant’s wit fails to make up for the lack of his own nose in terms of professional authority and personal identity, so too would it be insufficient payment for any other person who was to provide their own nose for his respite.
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

The loss of a nose could be a sign of syphilis or criminal punishment, thus hurting one’s reputation.
Amplified Edition
Line number 16

 Critical note

Giving Davenant her own nose will transfer his problem onto her, and lead people to suspect that she has lost her nose to the pox too.
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

refined, noble
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

risk
Elemental Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

the sun, symbol of God
Amplified Edition
Line number 20

 Critical note

This is in part a denial of a sexual relationship, through which Davenant might have passed on his noselessness. But in emphasising that this will be an act of charity, Pulter also elevates herself above Davenant as the recipient, and leads them into a relationship of hospitality.
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

The speaker will allow a skin graft from her leg, or she is offering to curtsy as she asks for pardon.
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

Having established that her nose is too valuable to give up, Pulter must beg Davenant’s pardon for offering a skin graft from her leg instead. This qualification also fulfils gendered requirements of humility, as Pulter does not presume herself to be able to fully replace Davenant’s own, God-given nose.
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

The reciprocal obligations of Pulter’s offer start to become apparent, as she uses the graft and understandings of medical sympathy to establish an imaginative relationship with Davenant, and a debt from him that gives her political influence within the poem.
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

both
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

the netherworld or people in it
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Critical note

While the ‘Frail Flesh’ is a rhetorical commonplace for Pulter and others, possibly originating in the Wycliffe Bible’s translation of Matthew 26:41, Pulter’s use here includes an element of performed humility: though she emphasises the ‘frailty’ of her own body, it is Davenant’s that has fallen out of his control.
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Critical note

'Sympathy' was a system of influence between matter that was at a physical distance (see Lobis; Evelyn L. Forget, ‘Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology’, History of Political Economy 35 (2005): 282–308). Medically it could be used to treat a patient elsewhere, such as healing a wound by applying a ‘weapon salve’ to the weapon that had made it. When applied to allograft rhinoplasty, the doctrine of sympathy dictated that when the person from whom the skin graft was taken died, the new nose would ‘die’ with them. Sympathy was contentious, and increasingly elaborate stories of nose transplants would later be used to satirise believers (Alanna Skuse, ‘“Keep your face out of my way or I'll bite off your nose”: Homoplastics, Sympathy, and the Noble Body in The Tatler, 1710’, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 17.4 (2017): 113-132). Samuel Butler included a joke about a reconstructed nose in the first part of his wildly successful mock-epic poem, Hudibras (1662), which cemented the mythology of the sympathetic nose as being sourced from a lower-class man’s buttocks (in Butler, ‘The brawny part of Porter’s Bum’) to restore the nose of a higher-status man. Thus Pulter warns Davenant that he should pray for the preservation of her own life as much as his, since if she dies (visits the ‘sad shades below’) so too will his new nose. Pulter’s reiteration that Davenant’s new nose will in fact be her skin offers an imaginative means by which a piece of her body will be present at the centre of Royalist politics, while the rest of her is politely ensconced in her country estate.
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Cupid
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

sends down
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

trivial thing
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

bratty child
Elemental Edition
Line number 32

 Gloss note

perhaps suggesting that Cupid (the “chit”) might not be able to resist Davenant, particularly his brain (the “toy”), and will strike again, making him figuratively lose his head as well as his nose.
Elemental Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

Medoro is a non-noble Moor (or Muslim) in Ludovico Ariosto’s 1532 poem, Orlando Furioso, with whom Angelica (a Chinese princess at the court of Charlemagne) falls in love (thus rejecting the title character Orlando).
Amplified Edition
Line number 34

 Critical note

Pulter’s brother-in-law was the son of John Harington, who translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and she refers to the book frequently (Alice Eardley, ‘Introduction’, in Eardley (ed.) Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda [Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014]: pp 1–38, at p. 17). The virtuous Orlando is jilted by his beloved, Angelica, in favour of an African soldier, Medore, and loses his wits. Pulter suggests that Davenant’s noselessness might lead to similar rejections if it cannot balance out his good qualities of nobility and intelligence, leading him to be rejected by a Lass whom Cupid (the “blind Boy”) leads him to adore. Nevitt highlights that Orlando’s fault “is as much a renunciation of religious and political allegiance as it is a capitulation to bestial instinct”, thus rendering Pulter’s integration of the poem further commentary on Davenant’s possible exacerbation of sexual with political weakness (‘Insults’, 289).
Transcription
Line number 38

 Physical note

“c” appears added later, in darker ink
Elemental Edition
Line number 38

 Gloss note

Astolpho is a character in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso who flies in a flaming chariot to the moon where all things that have been lost on Earth are stored in jars. Here he recovers the wits that the title character Orlando had lost when rejected by his beloved. Astolfo makes Orlando snort his wits back up his nose.
Amplified Edition
Line number 38

 Critical note

Like Pulter’s skin graft assisting Davenant while she is far away, another “Nobleminded Friend” will need to travel to Heaven to retrieve Davenant’s brains. She thus evokes the possible contributions of networks of friends, especially dispersed Royalists.
Amplified Edition
Line number 40

 Critical note

Pulter further compliments Davenant’s ‘wit’ by suggesting his brain would require a very large container.
Amplified Edition
Line number 42

 Critical note

Orlando’s wits sit in a jar on the moon, and he snorts them back into his head after they are collected by Astolpho. Pulter reminds Davenant that without a nose he will have no such recourse.
Amplified Edition
Line number 43

 Gloss note

strength
Elemental Edition
Line number 45

 Gloss note

wondrous
Elemental Edition
Line number 46

 Gloss note

either
Amplified Edition
Line number 46

 Gloss note

Without
Amplified Edition
Line number 46

 Critical note

Pulter admonishes Davenant for what she perceived was an increasing likelihood that he would defect to serve the Parliamentarians by tying political honour to sexual honour, with the corruption in Davenant’s nose at risk of spreading to his ‘fame [and] brains’. A knight with title but no intelligence, reputation, or nose would be a monstrous wonder (‘prodigious’).
Elemental Edition
Line number 47

 Critical note

Eardley speculates that this alludes to “An Ordinance Concerning the Peers of Parliament, and other Honors and Titles” (1646), which prevented peers created since 1642 from sitting in Parliament and voided their titles. Charles I had made Davenant a knight in 1643.
Amplified Edition
Line number 47

 Gloss note

Parliament’s ‘bold ordinance’ of 1646 voided (struck off) any titles conferred by the King since May 20, 1642, thus including Davenant’s knighthood granted in 1643.
Elemental Edition
Line number 48

 Gloss note

the three female Fates
Amplified Edition
Line number 48

 Critical note

The Parcae are the three female Fates. Pulter’s anglicised plural, corrected in modernised editions to the Latin ‘Parcae’, may add further weight to suggestions she accessed Latin texts only in translation: in particular, Sarah Hutton and Alice Eardley suggest that she may have come to knowledge of Galileo through Henry More’s (1614–1687) Philosophical Poems (1647) (Eardley, ‘Introduction’, p. 11). ‘Parcae’ appears differently throughout the manuscript: from a possessive ‘Parces’ (Aletheia's Pearl [Poem 32]) and plural ‘Parce’ (Universal Dissolution [Poem 6]), to blotted plurals ‘Parces[?]’ (The Eclipse [Poem 1]) and ‘Parcia[?]’ (On those Two Unparalleled Friends, Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas, Who Were Shot to Death at Colchester [Poem 7]). This adds further weight to my belief that she was unfamiliar with Tagliacozzi’s original De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, and instead accessed understanding of the nose reconstructions from sympathy books like Walter Charlton’s translation of Johannes Baptista van Helmont’s A Ternary of Paradoxes (London: 1649).
Amplified Edition
Line number 50

 Critical note

Pulter’s warnings about the lure of a “Coy Young Lass” and Davenant as “Beast” signal her disapproval of the libertine tendencies of men like Davenant, evident throughout her oeuvre (see for example The Elephant (Emblem 19) [Poem 84] and The Unfortunate Florinda, which Peter C. Herman discusses in detail: ‘Lady Hester Pulter’s “The Unfortunate Florinda”: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Rape’ Renaissance Quarterly 63.4 [2010]: pp 1208–1246).
Amplified Edition
Line number 51

 Critical note

The use of ‘glued’ for the restitution of Davenant’s knighthood parallels it with the reattachment of his nose.
Transcription
Line number 52

 Physical note

“K” appears to correct earlier “R”
Elemental Edition
Line number 52

 Gloss note

“bow-dyed” is dyed scarlet (named for the Bow Bridge in proximity to the workplace of dyers); the state of being “ingrain,” or “ingrained,” is to have caused a dye to sink into the texture of a fabric and thus be indelible. These lines refer to King Charles’s knighting of Davenant in 1643, which restores the honor he lost when his nose was disfigured.
Amplified Edition
Line number 53

 Critical note

As Eardley notes, Pulter’s employment of ‘dust’ generally draws on its Biblical use as matter of human mortality: ‘for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19). More broadly, Pulter here continues her juxtaposition of esteemed qualities (honour, wit, nobility) with the baseness affiliated with Davenant’s sexual misbehaviour and corporal loss.
Elemental Edition
Line number 54

 Gloss note

“those” is ambiguous, but generally signifies temptations.
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