A Russian Rustic (Emblem 49)

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A Russian Rustic (Emblem 49)

Poem 114

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: Transcribed and annotated by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall. Last updated June 28, 2018.
  • Elemental edition: Edited by Leah Knight and Wendy Wall. Last updated June 7, 2018.
  • Amplified edition: Edited by Victoria E. Burke. Last updated September 17, 2018.

How to cite these versions

Conventions for these editions

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X (Close panel)Notes: Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Physical note

The end of the previous poem occupies the first third of the page, followed by blank space; the poem begins in the page’s bottom third. In the left margin, the number “49” indicates the main scribe’s enumeration of Pulter’s emblems
Line number 13

 Physical note

“a[?]r” appears directly above “Roaving”; “roameinge” appears directly above “a[?]r”; both insertions in different hand from main scribe
Line number 28

 Physical note

double strike-through
Line number 28

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe; three or four letters blotted and crossed out, possibly ending “ſs”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Transcription
Transcription

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[Emblem 49]
A Russian Rustic
(Emblem 49)
Emblem 49
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 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
This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, “ff” is modernized to “F,” and major alterations to the text are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
How might our foes serve as the means by which God ensures unexpected redemption? This emblem raises this quandary by telling a fable in which a Russian peasant, climbing a tree, becomes stuck inside the honey within a beehive, with no hope of escape. A bear, who ordinarily would be a threat to the man, becomes his unlikely means of salvation. Framing the story as an encouragement about not losing hope when in distress, Pulter offers a poem about the mysterious means by which God might offer redemption: a seeming enemy (here notably a fierce female) may turn out to be a miraculous source of liberation.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This emblem tells the story of a Russian peasant who gets stuck in a hollow tree full of honey. When a bear climbs into the tree she becomes his unwitting saviour, enabling him to break free when he grabs hold of her hind legs. The emblem becomes a meditation on the possibility of finding freedom and redemption when one least expects it.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
49
Physical Note
The end of the previous poem occupies the first third of the page, followed by blank space; the poem begins in the page’s bottom third. In the left margin, the number “49” indicates the main scribe’s enumeration of Pulter’s emblems
A
Ruſſian Ruſtick Clambring up a Tree
A Russian
Gloss Note
peasant, country dweller
rustic
clamb’ring up a tree
A
Critical Note
Perhaps the most well-known moment involving Russians in early modern English literature is the comic scene from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in which the four lords disguise themselves as “Muscovites, or Russians” in order to court the four ladies (5.2.121). The ladies see through their disguises and mock them. As H.R. Woudhuysen in his 1998 Arden edition of the play explains, “Shakespeare may anticipate or echo the ambassador ‘from the mighty Emperor of Russia and Moscovy’ who appeared in the Gray’s Inn revels celebrating Twelfth Night in 1595” (p. 243). Woudhuysen also notes that Philip Sidney uses the image of a “slave-borne Muscovite” in Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 2, line 10 (p. 243). In her edition of Sidney, Katherine Duncan-Jones notes of this line: “The Russians—Slavs—were believed by the Elizabethans to enjoy the oppressive rule of their tsar, at this time Ivan the Terrible. They were also thought comically clumsy and barbaric, as in the Muscovite disguise of the four lovers in Love’s Labour’s Lost, V.ii, which probably alludes to this sonnet” (Sir Philip Sidney, The Oxford Authors, Oxford University Press, [1989], p. 358). The Russian in Pulter’s poem is a country bumpkin. For discussions of Russian people and their customs from English travel and historical writing of the seventeenth century, see “Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians” in Curations for this poem.
Russian
Rustick Clambring up a Tree
2
Sunck in the Treaſure of the Active Bee
Sunk in the treasure of the active bee.
Critical Note
Alice Eardley notes in her edition (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, by Lady Hester Pulter, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series vol. 32, Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 256) that the story of this emblem appears in Charles Butler, The feminine monarchie or a treatise concerning bees (1609), sig. H2v. It appeared in many other sources as well, probably beginning in English with Richard Eden’s translation of The decades of the newe worlde or west India (1555), in an anecdote he attributes to a Russian ambassador to Rome named Demetrius, as told by Sebastian Münster and Jacobus Bastaldus. For this and a selection of later versions, see "The Russian Rustic and the Hollow Tree" in Curations for this poem. Pulter’s syntax is a little confusing, but the other versions make it clear that the man is submerged in honey within the hollow trunk of a tree.
Sunck in the Treasure of the Active Bee
3
To his Diurnall Saint hee did not fail
To his
Gloss Note
daily
diurnal
Critical Note
daily saint, as prescribed by the Russian Orthodox Church calendar
saint
he did not fail
To his
Critical Note
i.e., the saint pertaining to that particular day. (Alexander Ross observes of the Russian church in Pansebeia, or, A view of all religions in the world with the severall church-governments from the creation, to these times … [1655]: “They have a Saint for every day of the year, which is held the Patron of that day” [p. 488]).
Diurnall Saint
hee did not fail
4
To Supplicate to free him from this Goal
To supplicate to free him from this jail.
To Supplicate to free him from this
Gloss Note
gaol (jail)
Goal
5
But that which most Augments his Miſery
But that which most augments his misery
But that which most Augments his Misery
6
Was that noe Priest nor Patriack was nigh
Was that no priest nor
Critical Note
head of the Russian Orthodox Church; also used more generally of male chiefs of churches and of masculine powers still more generally
patriarch
was
Gloss Note
near
nigh
Was that noe Priest nor
Critical Note
i.e., patriarch. The patriarch was the head of the Russian Orthodox church (chapter three of Samuel Collins’s The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London / written by an eminent person residing at the great czars court at Mosco for the space of nine years..., is headed “Of the Patriarch in general, he is supreme Head of the Church” [1671, p. 15]). With the references to saints (in lines 3 and 7), a priest, and the patriarch (who might parallel the Pope), Pulter may be drawing a comparison between this rustic’s religion and her culture’s view of Roman Catholicism’s misguided practices.
Patriack
was nigh
to

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7
To write a letter to Saint Nicholas
To write a letter to
Gloss Note
patron saint of Russia; special intercessor on behalf of the departed
Saint Nicholas
,
To write a letter to
Critical Note
Nicholas was an important saint for Russians. Samuel Collins writes in 1671: “True it is the simpler sort of people in Russia are meer Idolaters, and in the Northern parts, as Archangelo and Cola, they know no other God but St. Nicholas, whom they really imagine to to rule all the world. They say he came to St. Nicholas (a Port-town by Archangelo) swimming from Italy upon a Milstone; if any Russ should question the truth of this story ’tis as much as life is worth. They celebrate the Festivals of their own Saints with greater honour than the Apostles. For they say of St. Nicholas, he is Nasha Bradt, one of our Brethern, and has a greater kindness for us his Countrey-men, than St. Peter or St. Paul who never knew us” (The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London, pp. 91-92).
Saint Nicholas
8
And that without it hee to heaven could Paſs
And that, without it, he to Heaven could
Critical Note
missing in the manuscript
not
pass.
And that
Critical Note
The scribe must have meant to write “could not pass.” Many writers note this funeral rite: Alexander Ross observes that “They use to put into the dead parties hand a letter to Saint Nicholas their chief mediator, to intercede for him” (Pansebeia, p. 489). In the second book of Purchas his pilgrimes In fiue bookes of 1625, Samuel Purchas explains, “When any man or woman dyeth, they stretch him out, and put a new paire of shooes on his feet, because he hath a great Iourney to goe: then doe they wind him in a sheet, as wee doe, but they forget not to put a testimonie in his right hand, which the Priest giueth him, to testifie vnto Saint Nicholas that he dyed a Christian man or woman” (p. 230).
without it hee to heaven could Pass
9
Hee hopeleſs was, thus overcharged w:th ffears
He hopeless was; thus overcharged with fears
Hee hopeless was, thus overcharged with Fears
10
Within, and numerous ffoes about his Ears
Within and numerous foes about his ears,
Within, and numerous Foes about his Ears
11
This Captive Stood, the Tree hee could not Rive
This captive stood; the tree he could not
Gloss Note
pull away
rive
,
This Captive Stood, the Tree hee could not
Gloss Note
tear apart
Rive
12
And loth hee was to bee Imbalm’d alive
And loath he was to be
Critical Note
honey was used to embalm corpses in ancient times
embalmed
alive.
And loth hee was to bee Imbalm’d alive
13
When loe A Bear came \
Roaving a[?]r roameinge \
for her Prey
When (lo!) a bear came
Critical Note
multiple corrections suggest that this was was written “roving” and then “roaring” before a hand different than the scribe corrected to “roaming”
roaming
for her prey
When loe A Bear came
Physical Note
“roameinge” is an interlinear addition, in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Roaving” in the main hand (which is partially struck through), with the letters “a” and “r” and an ink blot between them likely in Pulter’s hand. The letters of “roameinge” closely match the few poems in the manuscript in a hand thought to be Pulter’s at the end of the “Poems” section (i.e., The Weeping Wish [Poem 61], And Must the Sword this Controversy Decide [Poem 64], and The Hope [Poem 65]).
roameinge
for
Critical Note
Pulter’s bear is gendered female, as are many of the versions of this tale, but Charles Butler’s and Edward Topsell’s bear is gendered male.
her
Prey
14
Just where the Man in’s luſcious priſon Lay
Just where the man
Gloss Note
in his
in’s
luscious prison lay;
Just where the Man in’s luscious prison Lay
15
Shee Smelt the Honey, Strait ſhee Climbs ye tree
She smelled the honey: straight she climbs the tree.
Shee
Critical Note
Bears are commonly known to eat honey, but both Topsell and Pliny also mention another reason bears were thought to be drawn to beehives: they are subject to blindness and bee stings near their eyes will cure them (Pliny explains that the bleeding from their heads will “discharge them of that heauinesse which troubleth their eies”; The historie of the world [1634], book 8, chapter 36, p. 216; Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes [1607], p. 39).
Smelt the Honey
, Strait shee Climbs the tree
16
When the poor Man this double death did See
When the poor man this double death did see,
When the poor Man this double death did See
17
ffear cauſ’d diſpair, diſpair diſpair did make him bold
Fear caused despair, despair did make him bold;
Fear caus’d dispair,
Physical Note
“dispair” appears a third time but is struck through.
dispair
did make him bold
18
Upon the Bears hin’d Legs hee then Catchd hold
Upon the bear’s hind legs he then catched hold.
Upon the Bears hin’d Legs hee then Catchd hold
19
The Bear affrighted (who can hold their laughter)
The bear, affrighted (who can hold their laughter?),
The Bear affrighted (
Critical Note
This phrasing recalls the laughing tortoise from The Porcupine (Emblem 13) [Poem 79]: “The Tortois hardly could hold in her Laughter” (line 17; my transcription from the manuscript).
who can hold their laughter
)
20
Got quickly out and ^puld the Man out after
Got quickly out, and pulled the man out after.
Got quickly out and puld the Man out after
21
Then let none in diſtres his Courage loſe
Then let none in distress his courage lose;
Then let none in distres his Courage lose
22
ffor God can bring Redemption by our foes
For God can bring redemption by our foes.
For God can bring Redemption by our foes
23
Soe hee that could not his imposthume burst
So he that could not his
Gloss Note
abscess
imposthume
burst
Soe hee that could not his imposthume burst
24
ffound Remedy even by an Enemies thruſt
Critical Note
Phalereus sought to kill himself so as to end the suffering caused by an abscess, only to have his knife rupture the cyst and ironically save him; see Philemon Holland, trans. Pliny, The Natural History of the World (London, 1634), 182.
Found remedy even by an enemy’s thrust
;
Found
Critical Note
Eardley notes that this refers to the story told in Pliny, book 7, chapter 50, p. 182, of Phalereus, whose attempted suicide was actually his cure, since by stabbing himself in the chest he ruptured the “impostume” or cyst that was killing him (p. 257). Thus the “enemy” of line 24 was actually Phalereus’s own sword.
Remedy even by an Enemies thrust
25
ffor God can turn the Sharpest Sword or knife
For God can turn the sharpest sword or knife
For God can turn the Sharpest Sword or knife
26
That means us instant death, to give us Life
That means us instant death, to give us life.
That means us instant death, to give us Life
27
Then if Restraind of Liberty you bee
Then if restrained of liberty you be,
Then if
Critical Note
Pulter uses imagery of restraint and confinement frequently in her poetry (for example, see The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]).
Restraind of Liberty
you bee
28
Think how the Bear ye Captive
Physical Note
double strike-through
Clown
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe; three or four letters blotted and crossed out, possibly ending “ſs”
\[?] Ruſs \
Set free
Think how the bear the captive
Gloss Note
Russian
Russ
set free.
Think how the Bear the Captive
Gloss Note
“Russ” is an interlinear addition in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Clown” which has been struck through. The connotations of clown are countryman, rustic or peasant (OED).
Russ
Set
Critical Note
The versions of this story recounted by Charles Butler and Edward Topsell, for example (see "Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians" in Curations for this poem), seem to highlight the absurdity of the situation (e.g., “the poore man” and “leaving the smeared swaine in a ioyfull feare”), and Pulter’s narrator takes a similar tack with her question, “who can hold their laughter”? But her moral is serious, as she argues that the threat of imminent death can turn quickly into a deliverance from harm, and that God’s Providence brings about redemption in mysterious ways.
free
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition 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

How might our foes serve as the means by which God ensures unexpected redemption? This emblem raises this quandary by telling a fable in which a Russian peasant, climbing a tree, becomes stuck inside the honey within a beehive, with no hope of escape. A bear, who ordinarily would be a threat to the man, becomes his unlikely means of salvation. Framing the story as an encouragement about not losing hope when in distress, Pulter offers a poem about the mysterious means by which God might offer redemption: a seeming enemy (here notably a fierce female) may turn out to be a miraculous source of liberation.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

peasant, country dweller
Line number 3

 Gloss note

daily
Line number 3

 Critical note

daily saint, as prescribed by the Russian Orthodox Church calendar
Line number 6

 Critical note

head of the Russian Orthodox Church; also used more generally of male chiefs of churches and of masculine powers still more generally
Line number 6

 Gloss note

near
Line number 7

 Gloss note

patron saint of Russia; special intercessor on behalf of the departed
Line number 8

 Critical note

missing in the manuscript
Line number 11

 Gloss note

pull away
Line number 12

 Critical note

honey was used to embalm corpses in ancient times
Line number 13

 Critical note

multiple corrections suggest that this was was written “roving” and then “roaring” before a hand different than the scribe corrected to “roaming”
Line number 14

 Gloss note

in his
Line number 23

 Gloss note

abscess
Line number 24

 Critical note

Phalereus sought to kill himself so as to end the suffering caused by an abscess, only to have his knife rupture the cyst and ironically save him; see Philemon Holland, trans. Pliny, The Natural History of the World (London, 1634), 182.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Russian
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
X (Close panel)Elemental Edition
Elemental Edition

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[Emblem 49]
A Russian Rustic
(Emblem 49)
Emblem 49
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 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
This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, “ff” is modernized to “F,” and major alterations to the text are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
How might our foes serve as the means by which God ensures unexpected redemption? This emblem raises this quandary by telling a fable in which a Russian peasant, climbing a tree, becomes stuck inside the honey within a beehive, with no hope of escape. A bear, who ordinarily would be a threat to the man, becomes his unlikely means of salvation. Framing the story as an encouragement about not losing hope when in distress, Pulter offers a poem about the mysterious means by which God might offer redemption: a seeming enemy (here notably a fierce female) may turn out to be a miraculous source of liberation.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This emblem tells the story of a Russian peasant who gets stuck in a hollow tree full of honey. When a bear climbs into the tree she becomes his unwitting saviour, enabling him to break free when he grabs hold of her hind legs. The emblem becomes a meditation on the possibility of finding freedom and redemption when one least expects it.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
49
Physical Note
The end of the previous poem occupies the first third of the page, followed by blank space; the poem begins in the page’s bottom third. In the left margin, the number “49” indicates the main scribe’s enumeration of Pulter’s emblems
A
Ruſſian Ruſtick Clambring up a Tree
A Russian
Gloss Note
peasant, country dweller
rustic
clamb’ring up a tree
A
Critical Note
Perhaps the most well-known moment involving Russians in early modern English literature is the comic scene from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in which the four lords disguise themselves as “Muscovites, or Russians” in order to court the four ladies (5.2.121). The ladies see through their disguises and mock them. As H.R. Woudhuysen in his 1998 Arden edition of the play explains, “Shakespeare may anticipate or echo the ambassador ‘from the mighty Emperor of Russia and Moscovy’ who appeared in the Gray’s Inn revels celebrating Twelfth Night in 1595” (p. 243). Woudhuysen also notes that Philip Sidney uses the image of a “slave-borne Muscovite” in Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 2, line 10 (p. 243). In her edition of Sidney, Katherine Duncan-Jones notes of this line: “The Russians—Slavs—were believed by the Elizabethans to enjoy the oppressive rule of their tsar, at this time Ivan the Terrible. They were also thought comically clumsy and barbaric, as in the Muscovite disguise of the four lovers in Love’s Labour’s Lost, V.ii, which probably alludes to this sonnet” (Sir Philip Sidney, The Oxford Authors, Oxford University Press, [1989], p. 358). The Russian in Pulter’s poem is a country bumpkin. For discussions of Russian people and their customs from English travel and historical writing of the seventeenth century, see “Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians” in Curations for this poem.
Russian
Rustick Clambring up a Tree
2
Sunck in the Treaſure of the Active Bee
Sunk in the treasure of the active bee.
Critical Note
Alice Eardley notes in her edition (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, by Lady Hester Pulter, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series vol. 32, Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 256) that the story of this emblem appears in Charles Butler, The feminine monarchie or a treatise concerning bees (1609), sig. H2v. It appeared in many other sources as well, probably beginning in English with Richard Eden’s translation of The decades of the newe worlde or west India (1555), in an anecdote he attributes to a Russian ambassador to Rome named Demetrius, as told by Sebastian Münster and Jacobus Bastaldus. For this and a selection of later versions, see "The Russian Rustic and the Hollow Tree" in Curations for this poem. Pulter’s syntax is a little confusing, but the other versions make it clear that the man is submerged in honey within the hollow trunk of a tree.
Sunck in the Treasure of the Active Bee
3
To his Diurnall Saint hee did not fail
To his
Gloss Note
daily
diurnal
Critical Note
daily saint, as prescribed by the Russian Orthodox Church calendar
saint
he did not fail
To his
Critical Note
i.e., the saint pertaining to that particular day. (Alexander Ross observes of the Russian church in Pansebeia, or, A view of all religions in the world with the severall church-governments from the creation, to these times … [1655]: “They have a Saint for every day of the year, which is held the Patron of that day” [p. 488]).
Diurnall Saint
hee did not fail
4
To Supplicate to free him from this Goal
To supplicate to free him from this jail.
To Supplicate to free him from this
Gloss Note
gaol (jail)
Goal
5
But that which most Augments his Miſery
But that which most augments his misery
But that which most Augments his Misery
6
Was that noe Priest nor Patriack was nigh
Was that no priest nor
Critical Note
head of the Russian Orthodox Church; also used more generally of male chiefs of churches and of masculine powers still more generally
patriarch
was
Gloss Note
near
nigh
Was that noe Priest nor
Critical Note
i.e., patriarch. The patriarch was the head of the Russian Orthodox church (chapter three of Samuel Collins’s The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London / written by an eminent person residing at the great czars court at Mosco for the space of nine years..., is headed “Of the Patriarch in general, he is supreme Head of the Church” [1671, p. 15]). With the references to saints (in lines 3 and 7), a priest, and the patriarch (who might parallel the Pope), Pulter may be drawing a comparison between this rustic’s religion and her culture’s view of Roman Catholicism’s misguided practices.
Patriack
was nigh
to

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7
To write a letter to Saint Nicholas
To write a letter to
Gloss Note
patron saint of Russia; special intercessor on behalf of the departed
Saint Nicholas
,
To write a letter to
Critical Note
Nicholas was an important saint for Russians. Samuel Collins writes in 1671: “True it is the simpler sort of people in Russia are meer Idolaters, and in the Northern parts, as Archangelo and Cola, they know no other God but St. Nicholas, whom they really imagine to to rule all the world. They say he came to St. Nicholas (a Port-town by Archangelo) swimming from Italy upon a Milstone; if any Russ should question the truth of this story ’tis as much as life is worth. They celebrate the Festivals of their own Saints with greater honour than the Apostles. For they say of St. Nicholas, he is Nasha Bradt, one of our Brethern, and has a greater kindness for us his Countrey-men, than St. Peter or St. Paul who never knew us” (The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London, pp. 91-92).
Saint Nicholas
8
And that without it hee to heaven could Paſs
And that, without it, he to Heaven could
Critical Note
missing in the manuscript
not
pass.
And that
Critical Note
The scribe must have meant to write “could not pass.” Many writers note this funeral rite: Alexander Ross observes that “They use to put into the dead parties hand a letter to Saint Nicholas their chief mediator, to intercede for him” (Pansebeia, p. 489). In the second book of Purchas his pilgrimes In fiue bookes of 1625, Samuel Purchas explains, “When any man or woman dyeth, they stretch him out, and put a new paire of shooes on his feet, because he hath a great Iourney to goe: then doe they wind him in a sheet, as wee doe, but they forget not to put a testimonie in his right hand, which the Priest giueth him, to testifie vnto Saint Nicholas that he dyed a Christian man or woman” (p. 230).
without it hee to heaven could Pass
9
Hee hopeleſs was, thus overcharged w:th ffears
He hopeless was; thus overcharged with fears
Hee hopeless was, thus overcharged with Fears
10
Within, and numerous ffoes about his Ears
Within and numerous foes about his ears,
Within, and numerous Foes about his Ears
11
This Captive Stood, the Tree hee could not Rive
This captive stood; the tree he could not
Gloss Note
pull away
rive
,
This Captive Stood, the Tree hee could not
Gloss Note
tear apart
Rive
12
And loth hee was to bee Imbalm’d alive
And loath he was to be
Critical Note
honey was used to embalm corpses in ancient times
embalmed
alive.
And loth hee was to bee Imbalm’d alive
13
When loe A Bear came \
Roaving a[?]r roameinge \
for her Prey
When (lo!) a bear came
Critical Note
multiple corrections suggest that this was was written “roving” and then “roaring” before a hand different than the scribe corrected to “roaming”
roaming
for her prey
When loe A Bear came
Physical Note
“roameinge” is an interlinear addition, in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Roaving” in the main hand (which is partially struck through), with the letters “a” and “r” and an ink blot between them likely in Pulter’s hand. The letters of “roameinge” closely match the few poems in the manuscript in a hand thought to be Pulter’s at the end of the “Poems” section (i.e., The Weeping Wish [Poem 61], And Must the Sword this Controversy Decide [Poem 64], and The Hope [Poem 65]).
roameinge
for
Critical Note
Pulter’s bear is gendered female, as are many of the versions of this tale, but Charles Butler’s and Edward Topsell’s bear is gendered male.
her
Prey
14
Just where the Man in’s luſcious priſon Lay
Just where the man
Gloss Note
in his
in’s
luscious prison lay;
Just where the Man in’s luscious prison Lay
15
Shee Smelt the Honey, Strait ſhee Climbs ye tree
She smelled the honey: straight she climbs the tree.
Shee
Critical Note
Bears are commonly known to eat honey, but both Topsell and Pliny also mention another reason bears were thought to be drawn to beehives: they are subject to blindness and bee stings near their eyes will cure them (Pliny explains that the bleeding from their heads will “discharge them of that heauinesse which troubleth their eies”; The historie of the world [1634], book 8, chapter 36, p. 216; Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes [1607], p. 39).
Smelt the Honey
, Strait shee Climbs the tree
16
When the poor Man this double death did See
When the poor man this double death did see,
When the poor Man this double death did See
17
ffear cauſ’d diſpair, diſpair diſpair did make him bold
Fear caused despair, despair did make him bold;
Fear caus’d dispair,
Physical Note
“dispair” appears a third time but is struck through.
dispair
did make him bold
18
Upon the Bears hin’d Legs hee then Catchd hold
Upon the bear’s hind legs he then catched hold.
Upon the Bears hin’d Legs hee then Catchd hold
19
The Bear affrighted (who can hold their laughter)
The bear, affrighted (who can hold their laughter?),
The Bear affrighted (
Critical Note
This phrasing recalls the laughing tortoise from The Porcupine (Emblem 13) [Poem 79]: “The Tortois hardly could hold in her Laughter” (line 17; my transcription from the manuscript).
who can hold their laughter
)
20
Got quickly out and ^puld the Man out after
Got quickly out, and pulled the man out after.
Got quickly out and puld the Man out after
21
Then let none in diſtres his Courage loſe
Then let none in distress his courage lose;
Then let none in distres his Courage lose
22
ffor God can bring Redemption by our foes
For God can bring redemption by our foes.
For God can bring Redemption by our foes
23
Soe hee that could not his imposthume burst
So he that could not his
Gloss Note
abscess
imposthume
burst
Soe hee that could not his imposthume burst
24
ffound Remedy even by an Enemies thruſt
Critical Note
Phalereus sought to kill himself so as to end the suffering caused by an abscess, only to have his knife rupture the cyst and ironically save him; see Philemon Holland, trans. Pliny, The Natural History of the World (London, 1634), 182.
Found remedy even by an enemy’s thrust
;
Found
Critical Note
Eardley notes that this refers to the story told in Pliny, book 7, chapter 50, p. 182, of Phalereus, whose attempted suicide was actually his cure, since by stabbing himself in the chest he ruptured the “impostume” or cyst that was killing him (p. 257). Thus the “enemy” of line 24 was actually Phalereus’s own sword.
Remedy even by an Enemies thrust
25
ffor God can turn the Sharpest Sword or knife
For God can turn the sharpest sword or knife
For God can turn the Sharpest Sword or knife
26
That means us instant death, to give us Life
That means us instant death, to give us life.
That means us instant death, to give us Life
27
Then if Restraind of Liberty you bee
Then if restrained of liberty you be,
Then if
Critical Note
Pulter uses imagery of restraint and confinement frequently in her poetry (for example, see The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]).
Restraind of Liberty
you bee
28
Think how the Bear ye Captive
Physical Note
double strike-through
Clown
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe; three or four letters blotted and crossed out, possibly ending “ſs”
\[?] Ruſs \
Set free
Think how the bear the captive
Gloss Note
Russian
Russ
set free.
Think how the Bear the Captive
Gloss Note
“Russ” is an interlinear addition in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Clown” which has been struck through. The connotations of clown are countryman, rustic or peasant (OED).
Russ
Set
Critical Note
The versions of this story recounted by Charles Butler and Edward Topsell, for example (see "Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians" in Curations for this poem), seem to highlight the absurdity of the situation (e.g., “the poore man” and “leaving the smeared swaine in a ioyfull feare”), and Pulter’s narrator takes a similar tack with her question, “who can hold their laughter”? But her moral is serious, as she argues that the threat of imminent death can turn quickly into a deliverance from harm, and that God’s Providence brings about redemption in mysterious ways.
free
X (Close panel)Notes: Amplified Edition

 Editorial note

This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, “ff” is modernized to “F,” and major alterations to the text are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

 Headnote

This emblem tells the story of a Russian peasant who gets stuck in a hollow tree full of honey. When a bear climbs into the tree she becomes his unwitting saviour, enabling him to break free when he grabs hold of her hind legs. The emblem becomes a meditation on the possibility of finding freedom and redemption when one least expects it.
Line number 1

 Critical note

Perhaps the most well-known moment involving Russians in early modern English literature is the comic scene from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in which the four lords disguise themselves as “Muscovites, or Russians” in order to court the four ladies (5.2.121). The ladies see through their disguises and mock them. As H.R. Woudhuysen in his 1998 Arden edition of the play explains, “Shakespeare may anticipate or echo the ambassador ‘from the mighty Emperor of Russia and Moscovy’ who appeared in the Gray’s Inn revels celebrating Twelfth Night in 1595” (p. 243). Woudhuysen also notes that Philip Sidney uses the image of a “slave-borne Muscovite” in Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 2, line 10 (p. 243). In her edition of Sidney, Katherine Duncan-Jones notes of this line: “The Russians—Slavs—were believed by the Elizabethans to enjoy the oppressive rule of their tsar, at this time Ivan the Terrible. They were also thought comically clumsy and barbaric, as in the Muscovite disguise of the four lovers in Love’s Labour’s Lost, V.ii, which probably alludes to this sonnet” (Sir Philip Sidney, The Oxford Authors, Oxford University Press, [1989], p. 358). The Russian in Pulter’s poem is a country bumpkin. For discussions of Russian people and their customs from English travel and historical writing of the seventeenth century, see “Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians” in Curations for this poem.
Line number 2

 Critical note

Alice Eardley notes in her edition (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, by Lady Hester Pulter, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series vol. 32, Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 256) that the story of this emblem appears in Charles Butler, The feminine monarchie or a treatise concerning bees (1609), sig. H2v. It appeared in many other sources as well, probably beginning in English with Richard Eden’s translation of The decades of the newe worlde or west India (1555), in an anecdote he attributes to a Russian ambassador to Rome named Demetrius, as told by Sebastian Münster and Jacobus Bastaldus. For this and a selection of later versions, see "The Russian Rustic and the Hollow Tree" in Curations for this poem. Pulter’s syntax is a little confusing, but the other versions make it clear that the man is submerged in honey within the hollow trunk of a tree.
Line number 3

 Critical note

i.e., the saint pertaining to that particular day. (Alexander Ross observes of the Russian church in Pansebeia, or, A view of all religions in the world with the severall church-governments from the creation, to these times … [1655]: “They have a Saint for every day of the year, which is held the Patron of that day” [p. 488]).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

gaol (jail)
Line number 6

 Critical note

i.e., patriarch. The patriarch was the head of the Russian Orthodox church (chapter three of Samuel Collins’s The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London / written by an eminent person residing at the great czars court at Mosco for the space of nine years..., is headed “Of the Patriarch in general, he is supreme Head of the Church” [1671, p. 15]). With the references to saints (in lines 3 and 7), a priest, and the patriarch (who might parallel the Pope), Pulter may be drawing a comparison between this rustic’s religion and her culture’s view of Roman Catholicism’s misguided practices.
Line number 7

 Critical note

Nicholas was an important saint for Russians. Samuel Collins writes in 1671: “True it is the simpler sort of people in Russia are meer Idolaters, and in the Northern parts, as Archangelo and Cola, they know no other God but St. Nicholas, whom they really imagine to to rule all the world. They say he came to St. Nicholas (a Port-town by Archangelo) swimming from Italy upon a Milstone; if any Russ should question the truth of this story ’tis as much as life is worth. They celebrate the Festivals of their own Saints with greater honour than the Apostles. For they say of St. Nicholas, he is Nasha Bradt, one of our Brethern, and has a greater kindness for us his Countrey-men, than St. Peter or St. Paul who never knew us” (The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London, pp. 91-92).
Line number 8

 Critical note

The scribe must have meant to write “could not pass.” Many writers note this funeral rite: Alexander Ross observes that “They use to put into the dead parties hand a letter to Saint Nicholas their chief mediator, to intercede for him” (Pansebeia, p. 489). In the second book of Purchas his pilgrimes In fiue bookes of 1625, Samuel Purchas explains, “When any man or woman dyeth, they stretch him out, and put a new paire of shooes on his feet, because he hath a great Iourney to goe: then doe they wind him in a sheet, as wee doe, but they forget not to put a testimonie in his right hand, which the Priest giueth him, to testifie vnto Saint Nicholas that he dyed a Christian man or woman” (p. 230).
Line number 11

 Gloss note

tear apart
Line number 13

 Physical note

“roameinge” is an interlinear addition, in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Roaving” in the main hand (which is partially struck through), with the letters “a” and “r” and an ink blot between them likely in Pulter’s hand. The letters of “roameinge” closely match the few poems in the manuscript in a hand thought to be Pulter’s at the end of the “Poems” section (i.e., The Weeping Wish [Poem 61], And Must the Sword this Controversy Decide [Poem 64], and The Hope [Poem 65]).
Line number 13

 Critical note

Pulter’s bear is gendered female, as are many of the versions of this tale, but Charles Butler’s and Edward Topsell’s bear is gendered male.
Line number 15

 Critical note

Bears are commonly known to eat honey, but both Topsell and Pliny also mention another reason bears were thought to be drawn to beehives: they are subject to blindness and bee stings near their eyes will cure them (Pliny explains that the bleeding from their heads will “discharge them of that heauinesse which troubleth their eies”; The historie of the world [1634], book 8, chapter 36, p. 216; Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes [1607], p. 39).
Line number 17

 Physical note

“dispair” appears a third time but is struck through.
Line number 19

 Critical note

This phrasing recalls the laughing tortoise from The Porcupine (Emblem 13) [Poem 79]: “The Tortois hardly could hold in her Laughter” (line 17; my transcription from the manuscript).
Line number 24

 Critical note

Eardley notes that this refers to the story told in Pliny, book 7, chapter 50, p. 182, of Phalereus, whose attempted suicide was actually his cure, since by stabbing himself in the chest he ruptured the “impostume” or cyst that was killing him (p. 257). Thus the “enemy” of line 24 was actually Phalereus’s own sword.
Line number 27

 Critical note

Pulter uses imagery of restraint and confinement frequently in her poetry (for example, see The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]).
Line number 28

 Gloss note

“Russ” is an interlinear addition in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Clown” which has been struck through. The connotations of clown are countryman, rustic or peasant (OED).
Line number 28

 Critical note

The versions of this story recounted by Charles Butler and Edward Topsell, for example (see "Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians" in Curations for this poem), seem to highlight the absurdity of the situation (e.g., “the poore man” and “leaving the smeared swaine in a ioyfull feare”), and Pulter’s narrator takes a similar tack with her question, “who can hold their laughter”? But her moral is serious, as she argues that the threat of imminent death can turn quickly into a deliverance from harm, and that God’s Providence brings about redemption in mysterious ways.
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X (Close panel)Amplified Edition
Amplified Edition

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[Emblem 49]
A Russian Rustic
(Emblem 49)
Emblem 49
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.

— Victoria E. Burke
The aim of the elemental edition 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.

— Victoria E. Burke
This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, “ff” is modernized to “F,” and major alterations to the text are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.

— Victoria E. Burke
How might our foes serve as the means by which God ensures unexpected redemption? This emblem raises this quandary by telling a fable in which a Russian peasant, climbing a tree, becomes stuck inside the honey within a beehive, with no hope of escape. A bear, who ordinarily would be a threat to the man, becomes his unlikely means of salvation. Framing the story as an encouragement about not losing hope when in distress, Pulter offers a poem about the mysterious means by which God might offer redemption: a seeming enemy (here notably a fierce female) may turn out to be a miraculous source of liberation.

— Victoria E. Burke
This emblem tells the story of a Russian peasant who gets stuck in a hollow tree full of honey. When a bear climbs into the tree she becomes his unwitting saviour, enabling him to break free when he grabs hold of her hind legs. The emblem becomes a meditation on the possibility of finding freedom and redemption when one least expects it.

— Victoria E. Burke
1
49
Physical Note
The end of the previous poem occupies the first third of the page, followed by blank space; the poem begins in the page’s bottom third. In the left margin, the number “49” indicates the main scribe’s enumeration of Pulter’s emblems
A
Ruſſian Ruſtick Clambring up a Tree
A Russian
Gloss Note
peasant, country dweller
rustic
clamb’ring up a tree
A
Critical Note
Perhaps the most well-known moment involving Russians in early modern English literature is the comic scene from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in which the four lords disguise themselves as “Muscovites, or Russians” in order to court the four ladies (5.2.121). The ladies see through their disguises and mock them. As H.R. Woudhuysen in his 1998 Arden edition of the play explains, “Shakespeare may anticipate or echo the ambassador ‘from the mighty Emperor of Russia and Moscovy’ who appeared in the Gray’s Inn revels celebrating Twelfth Night in 1595” (p. 243). Woudhuysen also notes that Philip Sidney uses the image of a “slave-borne Muscovite” in Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 2, line 10 (p. 243). In her edition of Sidney, Katherine Duncan-Jones notes of this line: “The Russians—Slavs—were believed by the Elizabethans to enjoy the oppressive rule of their tsar, at this time Ivan the Terrible. They were also thought comically clumsy and barbaric, as in the Muscovite disguise of the four lovers in Love’s Labour’s Lost, V.ii, which probably alludes to this sonnet” (Sir Philip Sidney, The Oxford Authors, Oxford University Press, [1989], p. 358). The Russian in Pulter’s poem is a country bumpkin. For discussions of Russian people and their customs from English travel and historical writing of the seventeenth century, see “Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians” in Curations for this poem.
Russian
Rustick Clambring up a Tree
2
Sunck in the Treaſure of the Active Bee
Sunk in the treasure of the active bee.
Critical Note
Alice Eardley notes in her edition (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, by Lady Hester Pulter, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series vol. 32, Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 256) that the story of this emblem appears in Charles Butler, The feminine monarchie or a treatise concerning bees (1609), sig. H2v. It appeared in many other sources as well, probably beginning in English with Richard Eden’s translation of The decades of the newe worlde or west India (1555), in an anecdote he attributes to a Russian ambassador to Rome named Demetrius, as told by Sebastian Münster and Jacobus Bastaldus. For this and a selection of later versions, see "The Russian Rustic and the Hollow Tree" in Curations for this poem. Pulter’s syntax is a little confusing, but the other versions make it clear that the man is submerged in honey within the hollow trunk of a tree.
Sunck in the Treasure of the Active Bee
3
To his Diurnall Saint hee did not fail
To his
Gloss Note
daily
diurnal
Critical Note
daily saint, as prescribed by the Russian Orthodox Church calendar
saint
he did not fail
To his
Critical Note
i.e., the saint pertaining to that particular day. (Alexander Ross observes of the Russian church in Pansebeia, or, A view of all religions in the world with the severall church-governments from the creation, to these times … [1655]: “They have a Saint for every day of the year, which is held the Patron of that day” [p. 488]).
Diurnall Saint
hee did not fail
4
To Supplicate to free him from this Goal
To supplicate to free him from this jail.
To Supplicate to free him from this
Gloss Note
gaol (jail)
Goal
5
But that which most Augments his Miſery
But that which most augments his misery
But that which most Augments his Misery
6
Was that noe Priest nor Patriack was nigh
Was that no priest nor
Critical Note
head of the Russian Orthodox Church; also used more generally of male chiefs of churches and of masculine powers still more generally
patriarch
was
Gloss Note
near
nigh
Was that noe Priest nor
Critical Note
i.e., patriarch. The patriarch was the head of the Russian Orthodox church (chapter three of Samuel Collins’s The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London / written by an eminent person residing at the great czars court at Mosco for the space of nine years..., is headed “Of the Patriarch in general, he is supreme Head of the Church” [1671, p. 15]). With the references to saints (in lines 3 and 7), a priest, and the patriarch (who might parallel the Pope), Pulter may be drawing a comparison between this rustic’s religion and her culture’s view of Roman Catholicism’s misguided practices.
Patriack
was nigh
to

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7
To write a letter to Saint Nicholas
To write a letter to
Gloss Note
patron saint of Russia; special intercessor on behalf of the departed
Saint Nicholas
,
To write a letter to
Critical Note
Nicholas was an important saint for Russians. Samuel Collins writes in 1671: “True it is the simpler sort of people in Russia are meer Idolaters, and in the Northern parts, as Archangelo and Cola, they know no other God but St. Nicholas, whom they really imagine to to rule all the world. They say he came to St. Nicholas (a Port-town by Archangelo) swimming from Italy upon a Milstone; if any Russ should question the truth of this story ’tis as much as life is worth. They celebrate the Festivals of their own Saints with greater honour than the Apostles. For they say of St. Nicholas, he is Nasha Bradt, one of our Brethern, and has a greater kindness for us his Countrey-men, than St. Peter or St. Paul who never knew us” (The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London, pp. 91-92).
Saint Nicholas
8
And that without it hee to heaven could Paſs
And that, without it, he to Heaven could
Critical Note
missing in the manuscript
not
pass.
And that
Critical Note
The scribe must have meant to write “could not pass.” Many writers note this funeral rite: Alexander Ross observes that “They use to put into the dead parties hand a letter to Saint Nicholas their chief mediator, to intercede for him” (Pansebeia, p. 489). In the second book of Purchas his pilgrimes In fiue bookes of 1625, Samuel Purchas explains, “When any man or woman dyeth, they stretch him out, and put a new paire of shooes on his feet, because he hath a great Iourney to goe: then doe they wind him in a sheet, as wee doe, but they forget not to put a testimonie in his right hand, which the Priest giueth him, to testifie vnto Saint Nicholas that he dyed a Christian man or woman” (p. 230).
without it hee to heaven could Pass
9
Hee hopeleſs was, thus overcharged w:th ffears
He hopeless was; thus overcharged with fears
Hee hopeless was, thus overcharged with Fears
10
Within, and numerous ffoes about his Ears
Within and numerous foes about his ears,
Within, and numerous Foes about his Ears
11
This Captive Stood, the Tree hee could not Rive
This captive stood; the tree he could not
Gloss Note
pull away
rive
,
This Captive Stood, the Tree hee could not
Gloss Note
tear apart
Rive
12
And loth hee was to bee Imbalm’d alive
And loath he was to be
Critical Note
honey was used to embalm corpses in ancient times
embalmed
alive.
And loth hee was to bee Imbalm’d alive
13
When loe A Bear came \
Roaving a[?]r roameinge \
for her Prey
When (lo!) a bear came
Critical Note
multiple corrections suggest that this was was written “roving” and then “roaring” before a hand different than the scribe corrected to “roaming”
roaming
for her prey
When loe A Bear came
Physical Note
“roameinge” is an interlinear addition, in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Roaving” in the main hand (which is partially struck through), with the letters “a” and “r” and an ink blot between them likely in Pulter’s hand. The letters of “roameinge” closely match the few poems in the manuscript in a hand thought to be Pulter’s at the end of the “Poems” section (i.e., The Weeping Wish [Poem 61], And Must the Sword this Controversy Decide [Poem 64], and The Hope [Poem 65]).
roameinge
for
Critical Note
Pulter’s bear is gendered female, as are many of the versions of this tale, but Charles Butler’s and Edward Topsell’s bear is gendered male.
her
Prey
14
Just where the Man in’s luſcious priſon Lay
Just where the man
Gloss Note
in his
in’s
luscious prison lay;
Just where the Man in’s luscious prison Lay
15
Shee Smelt the Honey, Strait ſhee Climbs ye tree
She smelled the honey: straight she climbs the tree.
Shee
Critical Note
Bears are commonly known to eat honey, but both Topsell and Pliny also mention another reason bears were thought to be drawn to beehives: they are subject to blindness and bee stings near their eyes will cure them (Pliny explains that the bleeding from their heads will “discharge them of that heauinesse which troubleth their eies”; The historie of the world [1634], book 8, chapter 36, p. 216; Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes [1607], p. 39).
Smelt the Honey
, Strait shee Climbs the tree
16
When the poor Man this double death did See
When the poor man this double death did see,
When the poor Man this double death did See
17
ffear cauſ’d diſpair, diſpair diſpair did make him bold
Fear caused despair, despair did make him bold;
Fear caus’d dispair,
Physical Note
“dispair” appears a third time but is struck through.
dispair
did make him bold
18
Upon the Bears hin’d Legs hee then Catchd hold
Upon the bear’s hind legs he then catched hold.
Upon the Bears hin’d Legs hee then Catchd hold
19
The Bear affrighted (who can hold their laughter)
The bear, affrighted (who can hold their laughter?),
The Bear affrighted (
Critical Note
This phrasing recalls the laughing tortoise from The Porcupine (Emblem 13) [Poem 79]: “The Tortois hardly could hold in her Laughter” (line 17; my transcription from the manuscript).
who can hold their laughter
)
20
Got quickly out and ^puld the Man out after
Got quickly out, and pulled the man out after.
Got quickly out and puld the Man out after
21
Then let none in diſtres his Courage loſe
Then let none in distress his courage lose;
Then let none in distres his Courage lose
22
ffor God can bring Redemption by our foes
For God can bring redemption by our foes.
For God can bring Redemption by our foes
23
Soe hee that could not his imposthume burst
So he that could not his
Gloss Note
abscess
imposthume
burst
Soe hee that could not his imposthume burst
24
ffound Remedy even by an Enemies thruſt
Critical Note
Phalereus sought to kill himself so as to end the suffering caused by an abscess, only to have his knife rupture the cyst and ironically save him; see Philemon Holland, trans. Pliny, The Natural History of the World (London, 1634), 182.
Found remedy even by an enemy’s thrust
;
Found
Critical Note
Eardley notes that this refers to the story told in Pliny, book 7, chapter 50, p. 182, of Phalereus, whose attempted suicide was actually his cure, since by stabbing himself in the chest he ruptured the “impostume” or cyst that was killing him (p. 257). Thus the “enemy” of line 24 was actually Phalereus’s own sword.
Remedy even by an Enemies thrust
25
ffor God can turn the Sharpest Sword or knife
For God can turn the sharpest sword or knife
For God can turn the Sharpest Sword or knife
26
That means us instant death, to give us Life
That means us instant death, to give us life.
That means us instant death, to give us Life
27
Then if Restraind of Liberty you bee
Then if restrained of liberty you be,
Then if
Critical Note
Pulter uses imagery of restraint and confinement frequently in her poetry (for example, see The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]).
Restraind of Liberty
you bee
28
Think how the Bear ye Captive
Physical Note
double strike-through
Clown
Physical Note
in different hand from main scribe; three or four letters blotted and crossed out, possibly ending “ſs”
\[?] Ruſs \
Set free
Think how the bear the captive
Gloss Note
Russian
Russ
set free.
Think how the Bear the Captive
Gloss Note
“Russ” is an interlinear addition in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Clown” which has been struck through. The connotations of clown are countryman, rustic or peasant (OED).
Russ
Set
Critical Note
The versions of this story recounted by Charles Butler and Edward Topsell, for example (see "Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians" in Curations for this poem), seem to highlight the absurdity of the situation (e.g., “the poore man” and “leaving the smeared swaine in a ioyfull feare”), and Pulter’s narrator takes a similar tack with her question, “who can hold their laughter”? But her moral is serious, as she argues that the threat of imminent death can turn quickly into a deliverance from harm, and that God’s Providence brings about redemption in mysterious ways.
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Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

The aim of the elemental edition 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

This is a semi-diplomatic transcription in which original spelling and punctuation are retained, abbreviations are expanded with added letters in italics (with the exception of “ye” which is rendered as “the”), superscriptions are lowered, colons indicating abbreviations are removed, “ff” is modernized to “F,” and major alterations to the text are noted in the footnotes. The retention of original spelling and punctuation has the potential to get us closer to the choices made by the poet and scribe, but some scribal details (such as abbreviations) do not seem substantive or meaning-bearing and run the risk of alienating a modern reader.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

How might our foes serve as the means by which God ensures unexpected redemption? This emblem raises this quandary by telling a fable in which a Russian peasant, climbing a tree, becomes stuck inside the honey within a beehive, with no hope of escape. A bear, who ordinarily would be a threat to the man, becomes his unlikely means of salvation. Framing the story as an encouragement about not losing hope when in distress, Pulter offers a poem about the mysterious means by which God might offer redemption: a seeming enemy (here notably a fierce female) may turn out to be a miraculous source of liberation.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This emblem tells the story of a Russian peasant who gets stuck in a hollow tree full of honey. When a bear climbs into the tree she becomes his unwitting saviour, enabling him to break free when he grabs hold of her hind legs. The emblem becomes a meditation on the possibility of finding freedom and redemption when one least expects it.
Transcription
Line number 1

 Physical note

The end of the previous poem occupies the first third of the page, followed by blank space; the poem begins in the page’s bottom third. In the left margin, the number “49” indicates the main scribe’s enumeration of Pulter’s emblems
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

peasant, country dweller
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Critical note

Perhaps the most well-known moment involving Russians in early modern English literature is the comic scene from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in which the four lords disguise themselves as “Muscovites, or Russians” in order to court the four ladies (5.2.121). The ladies see through their disguises and mock them. As H.R. Woudhuysen in his 1998 Arden edition of the play explains, “Shakespeare may anticipate or echo the ambassador ‘from the mighty Emperor of Russia and Moscovy’ who appeared in the Gray’s Inn revels celebrating Twelfth Night in 1595” (p. 243). Woudhuysen also notes that Philip Sidney uses the image of a “slave-borne Muscovite” in Astrophil and Stella, sonnet 2, line 10 (p. 243). In her edition of Sidney, Katherine Duncan-Jones notes of this line: “The Russians—Slavs—were believed by the Elizabethans to enjoy the oppressive rule of their tsar, at this time Ivan the Terrible. They were also thought comically clumsy and barbaric, as in the Muscovite disguise of the four lovers in Love’s Labour’s Lost, V.ii, which probably alludes to this sonnet” (Sir Philip Sidney, The Oxford Authors, Oxford University Press, [1989], p. 358). The Russian in Pulter’s poem is a country bumpkin. For discussions of Russian people and their customs from English travel and historical writing of the seventeenth century, see “Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians” in Curations for this poem.
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

Alice Eardley notes in her edition (Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda, by Lady Hester Pulter, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series vol. 32, Iter and Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014, p. 256) that the story of this emblem appears in Charles Butler, The feminine monarchie or a treatise concerning bees (1609), sig. H2v. It appeared in many other sources as well, probably beginning in English with Richard Eden’s translation of The decades of the newe worlde or west India (1555), in an anecdote he attributes to a Russian ambassador to Rome named Demetrius, as told by Sebastian Münster and Jacobus Bastaldus. For this and a selection of later versions, see "The Russian Rustic and the Hollow Tree" in Curations for this poem. Pulter’s syntax is a little confusing, but the other versions make it clear that the man is submerged in honey within the hollow trunk of a tree.
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

daily
Elemental Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

daily saint, as prescribed by the Russian Orthodox Church calendar
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Critical note

i.e., the saint pertaining to that particular day. (Alexander Ross observes of the Russian church in Pansebeia, or, A view of all religions in the world with the severall church-governments from the creation, to these times … [1655]: “They have a Saint for every day of the year, which is held the Patron of that day” [p. 488]).
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

gaol (jail)
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Critical note

head of the Russian Orthodox Church; also used more generally of male chiefs of churches and of masculine powers still more generally
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

near
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Critical note

i.e., patriarch. The patriarch was the head of the Russian Orthodox church (chapter three of Samuel Collins’s The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London / written by an eminent person residing at the great czars court at Mosco for the space of nine years..., is headed “Of the Patriarch in general, he is supreme Head of the Church” [1671, p. 15]). With the references to saints (in lines 3 and 7), a priest, and the patriarch (who might parallel the Pope), Pulter may be drawing a comparison between this rustic’s religion and her culture’s view of Roman Catholicism’s misguided practices.
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

patron saint of Russia; special intercessor on behalf of the departed
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

Nicholas was an important saint for Russians. Samuel Collins writes in 1671: “True it is the simpler sort of people in Russia are meer Idolaters, and in the Northern parts, as Archangelo and Cola, they know no other God but St. Nicholas, whom they really imagine to to rule all the world. They say he came to St. Nicholas (a Port-town by Archangelo) swimming from Italy upon a Milstone; if any Russ should question the truth of this story ’tis as much as life is worth. They celebrate the Festivals of their own Saints with greater honour than the Apostles. For they say of St. Nicholas, he is Nasha Bradt, one of our Brethern, and has a greater kindness for us his Countrey-men, than St. Peter or St. Paul who never knew us” (The present state of Russia in a letter to a friend at London, pp. 91-92).
Elemental Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

missing in the manuscript
Amplified Edition
Line number 8

 Critical note

The scribe must have meant to write “could not pass.” Many writers note this funeral rite: Alexander Ross observes that “They use to put into the dead parties hand a letter to Saint Nicholas their chief mediator, to intercede for him” (Pansebeia, p. 489). In the second book of Purchas his pilgrimes In fiue bookes of 1625, Samuel Purchas explains, “When any man or woman dyeth, they stretch him out, and put a new paire of shooes on his feet, because he hath a great Iourney to goe: then doe they wind him in a sheet, as wee doe, but they forget not to put a testimonie in his right hand, which the Priest giueth him, to testifie vnto Saint Nicholas that he dyed a Christian man or woman” (p. 230).
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

pull away
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

tear apart
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Critical note

honey was used to embalm corpses in ancient times
Transcription
Line number 13

 Physical note

“a[?]r” appears directly above “Roaving”; “roameinge” appears directly above “a[?]r”; both insertions in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

multiple corrections suggest that this was was written “roving” and then “roaring” before a hand different than the scribe corrected to “roaming”
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Physical note

“roameinge” is an interlinear addition, in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Roaving” in the main hand (which is partially struck through), with the letters “a” and “r” and an ink blot between them likely in Pulter’s hand. The letters of “roameinge” closely match the few poems in the manuscript in a hand thought to be Pulter’s at the end of the “Poems” section (i.e., The Weeping Wish [Poem 61], And Must the Sword this Controversy Decide [Poem 64], and The Hope [Poem 65]).
Amplified Edition
Line number 13

 Critical note

Pulter’s bear is gendered female, as are many of the versions of this tale, but Charles Butler’s and Edward Topsell’s bear is gendered male.
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Gloss note

in his
Amplified Edition
Line number 15

 Critical note

Bears are commonly known to eat honey, but both Topsell and Pliny also mention another reason bears were thought to be drawn to beehives: they are subject to blindness and bee stings near their eyes will cure them (Pliny explains that the bleeding from their heads will “discharge them of that heauinesse which troubleth their eies”; The historie of the world [1634], book 8, chapter 36, p. 216; Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes [1607], p. 39).
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Physical note

“dispair” appears a third time but is struck through.
Amplified Edition
Line number 19

 Critical note

This phrasing recalls the laughing tortoise from The Porcupine (Emblem 13) [Poem 79]: “The Tortois hardly could hold in her Laughter” (line 17; my transcription from the manuscript).
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

abscess
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

Phalereus sought to kill himself so as to end the suffering caused by an abscess, only to have his knife rupture the cyst and ironically save him; see Philemon Holland, trans. Pliny, The Natural History of the World (London, 1634), 182.
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Critical note

Eardley notes that this refers to the story told in Pliny, book 7, chapter 50, p. 182, of Phalereus, whose attempted suicide was actually his cure, since by stabbing himself in the chest he ruptured the “impostume” or cyst that was killing him (p. 257). Thus the “enemy” of line 24 was actually Phalereus’s own sword.
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Critical note

Pulter uses imagery of restraint and confinement frequently in her poetry (for example, see The Perfection of Patience and Knowledge [Poem 39] and Why Must I Thus Forever Be Confined [Poem 57]).
Transcription
Line number 28

 Physical note

double strike-through
Transcription
Line number 28

 Physical note

in different hand from main scribe; three or four letters blotted and crossed out, possibly ending “ſs”
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

Russian
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

“Russ” is an interlinear addition in what is likely Pulter’s hand, above “Clown” which has been struck through. The connotations of clown are countryman, rustic or peasant (OED).
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Critical note

The versions of this story recounted by Charles Butler and Edward Topsell, for example (see "Seventeenth-Century English Views of Russians" in Curations for this poem), seem to highlight the absurdity of the situation (e.g., “the poore man” and “leaving the smeared swaine in a ioyfull feare”), and Pulter’s narrator takes a similar tack with her question, “who can hold their laughter”? But her moral is serious, as she argues that the threat of imminent death can turn quickly into a deliverance from harm, and that God’s Providence brings about redemption in mysterious ways.
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