This Huge Leviathan (Emblem 42)

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This Huge Leviathan (Emblem 42)

Poem #107

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.

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 2

 Physical note

“th” written over “ht”
Line number 14

 Physical note

“s” appears added later, in different hand from main scribe
Line number 25

 Physical note

insertion marks and “h” in H2
Line number 26

 Physical note

“v” may have been written over an original medial “d,” with an initial “d” added later; alternatively, an initial “d” may have been imperfectly erased and blotted, and an original “v” changed to a medial “d.”
Line number 32

 Physical note

written directly above cancelled “ſhall,” in H2
Line number 33

 Physical note

trailing descender from “p”above blends into “f”
Sorry, but there are no notes associated with any currently displayed witness.
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Transcription

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[Emblem 42]
This Huge Leviathan
(Emblem 42)
This Huge Leviathan (Emblem 42)
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
This edition modernizes the spelling and punctuation of Pulter’s text in order to make it accessible to a broad readership. I consulted Alice Eardley’s edition of the poem, although my editorial decisions vary significantly from hers (cited as
Gloss Note
Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Iter Inc., Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014), pp. 245–6.
“Eardley”
in this edition). Research on Indigenous whaling practices is hindered by the fact that there are few surviving accounts of whaling in the Americas dating from the seventeenth century and they are authored by European writers who were often at several removes from their reported sources. The term “Indian” features prominently in the poem and the historical texts included in my Curations. The poem seems to be based on a Spanish explorer’s account of a whale hunt by the Tequesta, a tribe that inhabited the southeastern coast of Florida until the mid-eighteenth century (see the Curation Whaling Legends for further discussion of Pulter’s source material). But Pulter’s subject is the archetypal uncivilized Indian, a fictional character with no relation to the Tequesta. In my notes I have opted to use the descriptor “Indigenous,” with the acknowledgement that this label is also an invention of European colonizers that fails to capture the diversity of the native peoples and cultures existing in America.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
What starts as a lesson in not underestimating a seemingly less powerful foe takes a dramatic turn in this emblem, which becomes a meditation on the unexpected consequences of riding animals: whales, Hydra-like horses, and demonically possessed pigs. Pulter first draws on traveler’s tales to describe the way that Native Americans use their intelligence to overpower and devour whales: after cramming poles up their nostrils, they allegedly ride the whales until they tire and beach themselves. After summing up this fable’s moral—that brains can overcome brawn—the narrator reverses both the rider’s fate and the moral by imagining Oliver Crowell figuratively riding an unruly populace. Unable to control the beast (as Native Americans so ably could), Cromwell is heading to a tragic end that Pulter aligns with the devil driving animals into eternal damnation; turning from horses to swine, Pulter imagines the fate of the nation by recounting the story of Jesus transferring demons from a person into pigs, who then drowned themselves in the ocean. In this unusual emblem, the moral shifts: a warning against pride in brawn in favor of brains converts into a plea to shake off the devil. Humans perhaps only seem superior when we subdue other creatures: we too are vulnerable to being “ridden” by forces beyond our control.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is the second of two emblems Pulter wrote about the leviathan, a sea monster in the Bible that is typically identified with the whale (see also This Vast Leviathan (Emblem 12) [Poem 78]). The poem is a striking depiction of a whale hunt in which a so-called “Indian” man rides a whale like a horse and kills it by driving wooden stakes into its blowholes. The story can be traced back to Spanish travel narratives of the late sixteenth century, with the hunt supposedly witnessed firsthand by an explorer in Florida. My objective is to offer readers a postcolonial presentation of the text, one that questions European representations of Indigenous peoples. The archival challenges to creating a postcolonial reading are discussed in the Editorial Note. The poem and the texts included in my Curations for this poem illustrate how Indigenous peoples and their ways of life reached the status of myth in Europe by way of explorer publications. This emblem can fruitfully be viewed in the context of early modern literature about North America, in which Christian theology was intertwined with an imperialist agenda. Pulter injects the tale of the whale hunt with allusions to classical mythology and Bible stories. In her hands it becomes fable-like, with the symbolism of the emblem operating on multiple levels; what begins as a classic battle of strength versus wit turns into a warning about the Devil on a sinner’s back. Pulter aligns her English readers with the whale and the Indigenous hunter with the Devil, suggesting that there is also a contest for dominance between European and Indigenous American peoples. Central to the poem is the theme of taming—the danger of being mastered by demonic forces or peoples and the need to bring Indigenous populations under Christian European rule.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
42This huge Laviathan for all his Strength
This huge
Gloss Note
a large sea animal; here, a whale
leviathan
, for all his strength,
This huge
Gloss Note
An aquatic animal of monstrous size, often identified with the whale. In the Bible, the leviathan is a creation of God that represents his might, but also sometimes a symbol of evil. See the Curation The Leviathan and the Bible below.
leviathan
, for all his strength,
2
Is by an Indians Witt Subdu’d at
Physical Note
“th” written over “ht”
length
Is
Critical Note
In a collection of travel accounts appears a similar story: “The manner the Indians of Florida use … to take these whales … is, they … swimming approach near the whale’s side, then with great dexterity they leap to his neck, and there they ride as on horse-back, … then he thrusts a sharpe and strong stake … into the whale’s nostril, … the whale doth furiously beat the sea, and raiseth mountains of water, running into the deep with great violence, and presently riseth again, not knowing what to do for pain: the Indian still sits firm, … in the end he [the whale] comes near the land, and remains on ground by the hugeness of his body, unable any more to move; then a great number of Indians … kill him, and cut his flesh in pieces, … using it for meate.” Samuel Purchas, ed., Purchas his Pilgrims, in Five Books (London, 1625), p. 931. This account derives from the account entitled “Observations … of Josephus Acosta, a Learned Jesuit, Touching the Natural History of … the West Indies” (Book 5, Part 2, Chapter 2, Section 2).
by an Indian’s wit subdued
at length.
Is by an
Gloss Note
i.e., An Indigenous inhabitant of what is now North America. The original story on which the emblem is based took place in Florida. See the Curation Whaling Legends.
Indian’s
wit subdued at length.
3
Who can but Such a Monſtr’ous bulk deride
Who can but such a monstrous bulk deride,
Who can but such a monstrous bulk
Gloss Note
Laugh at in contempt or scorn (OED, “deride, v.” 1).
deride
,
4
Who Suffers one upon his Neck to Ride
Who
Gloss Note
tolerates; permits; undergoes or endures, as with pain or distress; sustains injury
suffers
one upon his neck to ride,
Who
Gloss Note
Endures or submits to (OED, “suffer, v.” 1).
suffers
one upon his neck to ride,
5
Knocking in Billets into either Noſe
Knocking in
Gloss Note
thick sticks used as a weapon
billets
into either
Gloss Note
nostril
nose
Knocking in
Gloss Note
A thick stick used as a weapon (OED, “billet, n.2” 2). This manner of killing whales was reported in several European travel books in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See the Curation Whaling Legends.
billets
into either
Gloss Note
i.e., nostril (the blowhole of a whale). Baleen whales have two blowholes, while toothed whales have one. Baleen whales feed off of tiny organisms like plankton, krill, and small fish, which are filtered through baleen, long bristles made of keratin blocking the entrance to their mouths.
nose
,
6
Whence Seas, and Shoals, of ffiſhes ever fflows
Whence seas and
Gloss Note
schools
shoals
of fishes ever flows?
Gloss Note
From which place.
Whence
seas and
Gloss Note
Schools.
shoals
of fishes ever flows?
7
Nor cares hee though hee bounce, or fflounce, or beat,
Nor cares
Gloss Note
The first “he” is the “Indian”; the second is the whale
he though he
bounce, or flounce, or beat
Nor cares
Critical Note
The first “he” refers to the hunter and the second to the whale. The pronouns become somewhat confused here, blurring the divide between man and beast. Indigenous peoples were often dehumanized in European writing through the description of them in animalistic terms.
he though he
bounce, or
Gloss Note
Flounder, struggle; typically used to describe horses or aquatic animals (OED, “flounce, v.1” 2).
flounce
, or beat
8
Against the Rocks, yet Still hee keeps his Seat
Against the rocks, yet still he keeps his seat
Against the rocks, yet still he keeps his seat,
9
And Spight of’s teeth hee Rides him to the Shores
And spite
Gloss Note
of his (the whale’s)
of’s
teeth, he rides him to the shores
Gloss Note
In spite of his (i.e., the whale’s).
And spite of’s
Gloss Note
The whale has two blowholes, or “nose[s]” (line 5), indicating that it is a baleen whale, but here Pulter refers to its teeth (baleen whales have two blowholes, while toothed whales have one).
teeth
he rides him to the shores,
10
Where ffil’d with Horrour hee his Life out Rores
Where, filled with horror,
Gloss Note
the whale
he
his life
Critical Note
both figuratively breathing out his life with a loud cry (roaring out) and competitively outroaring his life (uttering a loud cry that extends beyond his life)
out roars
.
Where, filled with horror,
Gloss Note
The whale.
he
his life
Gloss Note
Cries out. Also used to describe a loud noise of breath escaping (OED, “roar, v.1” 1a and 3d). Here the whale roars out as his last breath leaves him.
outroars
.
11
Thus hee Triumphant Lites, thus ends his Toyl
Thus
Gloss Note
the rider triumphantly dismounts
he triumphant lights
; thus ends his toil,
Thus
Gloss Note
The "Indian."
he
triumphant
Gloss Note
Alights, or dismounts.
’lights
, thus ends his toil,
12
Cutting his Unctious Collops out to boyl
Cutting his
Gloss Note
oily, greasy, fat, or rich pieces of flesh or slices of meat
unctuous collops
out to boil.
Cutting his
Gloss Note
Fatty (OED,“unctuous, adj.” 1b).
unctuous
Gloss Note
Slices of meat (OED, “collop, n.1” 2).
collops
out to boil.
13
By this you See that Witt doth oft Subdue
By this you see that wit doth oft subdue
By this you see that wit doth oft subdue
14
The greatest Strenght this
Physical Note
“s” appears added later, in different hand from main scribe
Elaphants
finds True
The greatest strength;
Critical Note
The elephant’s service to humans (construed here as strength being subdued by wit) is recounted in Pliny’s natural history, where we learn that “the king they adore, they kneel before him” and “the lesser sort … serve the Indians in good stead to care and plough their ground.” Philemon Holland, translator (1601), C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601), Book 8, Chapter 1. Chapter 8 of the same book describes ways of hunting elephants, including one method described as “subtle and deceitful” (and thus full of wit in the early modern sense of the term).
this elephants find true
;
The greatest strength: this
Critical Note
Eardley notes that Pulter was familiar with a section of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History about elephants. Pliny claims that elephants, of all the animals in the world, “commeth nearest in wit and capacity to men,” but even they “do whatsoever they are commanded,” serving Indians from the king down to the farmers. Philemon Holland (translator), The History of the World (London: 1634), Book 8, Chapter 1, p. 192. Via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership
elephants
find true,
15
And Soe the Youths of Theſaly did tame
And so the youths of Thessaly did tame
And so the youths of Thessaly did tame
16
The Warlike Horſe, Soe Bulls they overcame
Gloss Note
An ancient Thessalonian tribe (inhabiting a region in Greece) was renowned for its expert horsemanship.
The warlike horse
; so bulls they overcame,
The warlike horse; so bulls they overcame,
17
Whence cald Centaurus, Soe against their Wills
Gloss Note
The Thessalonian youths who tamed horses and bulls were known as centaurs—mythical creatures with the lower body of horses and the upper body of humans—owing to their expert riding.
Whence called Centaurus
; so, against their wills,
Gloss Note
As a result (OED, whence, adv. and conj.” 4).
Whence
called
Gloss Note
Creatures in Greek mythology with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a horse. Eardley cites George Sandys’ translation of the origin story of the centaurs by Ovid: Thessaly was a region in northern Greece that became infested with bulls and its ruler, King Ixion, offered a reward to whoever could kill them. The inhabitants of Mount Pelion “gored [the bulls] with their javelins,” and the onlookers in Thessaly were so amazed by their horsemanship that they presumed the men and their horses “to be but one creature,” and henceforth they were called “centaurs.” George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Oxford: 1632), Book 12, p. 418. Via HathiTrust
Centaurs
; so against their wills,
18
ffour Thouſand Whales are forcd to draw in Mills
Critical Note
This line and the phrase above, “So against their wills,” are struck through in the manuscript but not, we think erroneously, replaced with new text that would preserve meter and line uniformity. As a marginal note beside Raccoons (Emblem 21) [Poem 86] specifies, a popular ethnographic traveller’s book recounted that the Chinese harnessed the labor of four thousand whales to process grain. Eardley identifies the source as Botero Giovanni, The Traveler’s Breviat; Or, an Historical Description of the Most Famous Kingdoms in the World (London: 1601), p. 22.
Four thousand whales are forced to draw in mills.
Four thousand whales are forced to
Gloss Note
Pull. Used to describe a draught animal, a working animal such as a horse that draws something like a plough (OED, “draw, v.” 2a).
draw
in
Critical Note
This sentence has been struck out in the manuscript. Eardley notes that it echoes lines 24–5 of Emblem 21, “Nor one alone could curb so of their wills / Four thousand whales to make them draw in mills,” which lists great feats of strength. Pulter seems to be imagining whales pulling the wheels of mills in order to grind grain. See the Curation Whales Working in Mills to learn more about the inspiration for this image.
mills
.
19
Then though thy Strength & Courage doe tranſcend
Then though thy strength and courage do transcend,
Then, though thy strength and courage do
Gloss Note
Exceed. The strength and courage of the whale surpass those of the hunter, but he is bested by the hunter’s wit
transcend
,
20
Bee not too Proud, nor on them both depend
Be not too proud, nor on them both depend;
Be not too proud, nor on them both depend.
21
Doe not thy deſpicablest ffoe deſpiſe
Do not thy despicablest foe despise,
Do not thy
Gloss Note
Most despicable.
despicablest
Critical Note
Possibly referring to the Devil, the arch-foe, or arch-enemy, of mankind (OED, “foe, n” P1).
foe
Critical Note
“Despise” here means to look down upon, rather than to hate (OED, “despise, v.”). Pulter warns her readers not to underestimate their enemies.
despise
,
22
ffor from the Vulgar one you See did Rise
For, from
Gloss Note
the common crowd
the vulgar
,
Critical Note
probably referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English Civil War, and later became Lord Protector.
one
you see did rise,
For from the
Critical Note
From the vulgar race of the so-called “Indians,” one man did rise.
vulgar, one
, you see, did rise
23
Which did the ffierce and Monst’rous Hidra back
Which did the fierce and monstrous
Gloss Note
The hydra was the many-headed serpent in classical mythology that could grow additional heads when one was cut off; it was commonly used to describe an unruly mob. To “back” was to mount or ride on, but also to support, bet on, or stand behind.
Hydra back
.
Which did the fierce and monstrous
Critical Note
A snakelike sea monster in Greek and Roman mythology with many heads that regrew when severed, finally killed by Hercules: “one [head] being cut off, two rose in the room more terrible than the former, which Hercules assailed and destroyed by suddenly cauterizing her headless necks.” Curiously, Pulter’s analogy aligns the Indigenous hunter with Hercules, a revered hero of Western mythology. See George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Oxford: 1632), Book 9, p. 335. Via HathiTrust. In the Bible, the leviathan is also described as having many heads. See Ps. 74:14 in the Curation The Leviathan and the Bible.
Hydra
Gloss Note
Mount.
back
.
24
The Jade was resty and did Rideing lack
Gloss Note
The horse (jade) was resistant or lazy (resty) and had not been ridden much.
The jade was resty and did riding lack;
The
Gloss Note
“A contemptuous name for a horse; a horse of inferior breed” (OED, “jade, n.1” 1a). Here referring to the whale.
jade
was
Gloss Note
Rebellious, refusing to advance or obey commands, typically with reference to a horse. (OED, “resty, adj.2” 1a).
resty
and did
Gloss Note
Was not accustomed to being ridden.
riding lack
.
now

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25
Now the Tame Beast
Physical Note
insertion marks and “h” in H2
bot\h \
Whip & ſpur abides
Now the tame beast both whip and spur abides;
Now the tame beast both whip and
Gloss Note
A small, spiked wheel attached to the heel of a horseback rider’s boot. When the rider digs his heels into the horse’s flanks, the spurs urge the horse forward.
spur
Gloss Note
Submits to.
abides
;
26
Needs must they Gallop, whom ye Devill
Physical Note
“v” may have been written over an original medial “d,” with an initial “d” added later; alternatively, an initial “d” may have been imperfectly erased and blotted, and an original “v” changed to a medial “d.”
drives
Gloss Note
This is a proverbial expression; the manuscript might be corrected to read “rides” instead of “drives,” or the correction might have been the reverse.
Needs must they gallop whom the devil drives.
Needs must they gallop whom the Devil
Critical Note
The manuscript here has been corrected, the final word “drives” changed to “rides” or vice versa. This line is based on a proverb, which typically concludes with “drives” (OED, “needs, adv.” 5). Pulter may have altered the word to “rides” to rhyme with the previous line. Samuel Purchas cites this proverb in his book Purchas His Pilgrimes: “Needs must they goe whom the diuell driueth.” Eardley cites Purchas as Pulter’s source for this whaling story. See the Curation Whaling Legends. Purchas His Pilgrimes (London: 1625), Book 1, ch. 3, p. 63, via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership
rides
.
27
Soe when hee did poſſes the Heard of Swine
So when
Gloss Note
This line and the next refers to the biblical account of how Jesus performed an exorcism on a man by transferring the devils possessing him into a herd of swine, who then ran over a cliff and drowned in the sea (see, e.g., Mark 5:2-13). “He” in this line refers to the devil.
he did possess the herd of swine
,
So when
Gloss Note
The Devil.
he
did possess the herd of
Critical Note
Eardley notes that this is a reference to a miracle performed by Jesus in which he exorcises a legion of demons from a man and transfers them into a herd of pigs, which become possessed and run into the sea and drown. The story is found in Mark 5:1–20 (included in the Curation The Miracle of the Swine), Matt. 8:28–34, and Luke 8:26–39.
swine
,
28
They Straight Ran Headlong into Neptunes brine
They straight ran headlong into
Gloss Note
an epithet for the ocean (with Neptune as its god)
Neptune’s brine
.
They straight ran headlong into Neptune’s
Gloss Note
The sea; Neptune is the Roman god of the sea.
brine
.
29
Then let the giddy Monſter warning take
Then let the
Gloss Note
Cromwell or any ruler relying on the animalic crowd
giddy monster
warning take,
Then let the
Gloss Note
The whale. “Giddy” may refer to either the physical whirling about of the body, or a dizzy, confused state of mind. Derived from the Old English gidig, meaning insane, or possessed by a god (OED, “giddy, adj.” 2).
giddy monster
warning take,
30
Least they precipitate into that Lake
Lest they
Gloss Note
be thrown suddenly or violently, especially into an undesirable state; fall headlong or plunge; hurry
precipitate
into that lake
Lest
Gloss Note
The Indian and the whale.
they
Gloss Note
Plunge.
precipitate
into that lake
31
Where Sulphur mixt w:th never quenched ffire
Gloss Note
This line and the next refer to the Christian account of the end of the world when the devil, false prophets, and sinners are all cast into a burning lake of fire (hell). See Revelation 20:10 and 21:8. Sulfur was a substance associated with volcanic regions.
Where sulfur mixed with never-quenchéd fire
,
Where
Critical Note
Sulphur is also known as brimstone. In Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, Satan is “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone . . . and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Also cast into this lake is a beast of the sea, a demonic monster associated with the Devil. John, the narrator of Revelation, describes the beast in terms similar to the hydra of Greek and Roman mythology: “I . . . saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy . . . And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Rev. 13:1–3).
sulphur mixed with never-quenchèd fire
,
32
Where they ſhall
Physical Note
written directly above cancelled “ſhall,” in H2
Still
die yet never quite expire
Where they still die, yet never quite expire.
Where they still die, yet never quite expire.
33
Then take my counſell & the ffind
Physical Note
trailing descender from “p”above blends into “f”
of
throw
Then take my counsel and the
Gloss Note
the devil
fiend
off throw,
Then take my counsel and the
Gloss Note
The Devil.
fiend
Gloss Note
Throw off.
off throw
,
34
Least hee and you into perdition goe
Lest he and you into perdition go.
Lest he and
Critical Note
Pulter’s emblems often conclude with a lesson in morality. In this emblem, she aligns readers with the whale. They should renounce the Devil, who will attempt to steer them onto the path to damnation. But her association of the Devil with an Indigenous man is also suggestive of her anxiety about Indigenous peoples, presented here as a threat to Christian society.
you
into
Gloss Note
Eternal damnation in hell.
perdition
go.
horizontal straight line
X (Close panel)Notes: Elemental Edition

 Editorial note

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

 Headnote

What starts as a lesson in not underestimating a seemingly less powerful foe takes a dramatic turn in this emblem, which becomes a meditation on the unexpected consequences of riding animals: whales, Hydra-like horses, and demonically possessed pigs. Pulter first draws on traveler’s tales to describe the way that Native Americans use their intelligence to overpower and devour whales: after cramming poles up their nostrils, they allegedly ride the whales until they tire and beach themselves. After summing up this fable’s moral—that brains can overcome brawn—the narrator reverses both the rider’s fate and the moral by imagining Oliver Crowell figuratively riding an unruly populace. Unable to control the beast (as Native Americans so ably could), Cromwell is heading to a tragic end that Pulter aligns with the devil driving animals into eternal damnation; turning from horses to swine, Pulter imagines the fate of the nation by recounting the story of Jesus transferring demons from a person into pigs, who then drowned themselves in the ocean. In this unusual emblem, the moral shifts: a warning against pride in brawn in favor of brains converts into a plea to shake off the devil. Humans perhaps only seem superior when we subdue other creatures: we too are vulnerable to being “ridden” by forces beyond our control.
Line number 1

 Gloss note

a large sea animal; here, a whale
Line number 2

 Critical note

In a collection of travel accounts appears a similar story: “The manner the Indians of Florida use … to take these whales … is, they … swimming approach near the whale’s side, then with great dexterity they leap to his neck, and there they ride as on horse-back, … then he thrusts a sharpe and strong stake … into the whale’s nostril, … the whale doth furiously beat the sea, and raiseth mountains of water, running into the deep with great violence, and presently riseth again, not knowing what to do for pain: the Indian still sits firm, … in the end he [the whale] comes near the land, and remains on ground by the hugeness of his body, unable any more to move; then a great number of Indians … kill him, and cut his flesh in pieces, … using it for meate.” Samuel Purchas, ed., Purchas his Pilgrims, in Five Books (London, 1625), p. 931. This account derives from the account entitled “Observations … of Josephus Acosta, a Learned Jesuit, Touching the Natural History of … the West Indies” (Book 5, Part 2, Chapter 2, Section 2).
Line number 4

 Gloss note

tolerates; permits; undergoes or endures, as with pain or distress; sustains injury
Line number 5

 Gloss note

thick sticks used as a weapon
Line number 5

 Gloss note

nostril
Line number 6

 Gloss note

schools
Line number 7

 Gloss note

The first “he” is the “Indian”; the second is the whale
Line number 9

 Gloss note

of his (the whale’s)
Line number 10

 Gloss note

the whale
Line number 10

 Critical note

both figuratively breathing out his life with a loud cry (roaring out) and competitively outroaring his life (uttering a loud cry that extends beyond his life)
Line number 11

 Gloss note

the rider triumphantly dismounts
Line number 12

 Gloss note

oily, greasy, fat, or rich pieces of flesh or slices of meat
Line number 14

 Critical note

The elephant’s service to humans (construed here as strength being subdued by wit) is recounted in Pliny’s natural history, where we learn that “the king they adore, they kneel before him” and “the lesser sort … serve the Indians in good stead to care and plough their ground.” Philemon Holland, translator (1601), C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601), Book 8, Chapter 1. Chapter 8 of the same book describes ways of hunting elephants, including one method described as “subtle and deceitful” (and thus full of wit in the early modern sense of the term).
Line number 16

 Gloss note

An ancient Thessalonian tribe (inhabiting a region in Greece) was renowned for its expert horsemanship.
Line number 17

 Gloss note

The Thessalonian youths who tamed horses and bulls were known as centaurs—mythical creatures with the lower body of horses and the upper body of humans—owing to their expert riding.
Line number 18

 Critical note

This line and the phrase above, “So against their wills,” are struck through in the manuscript but not, we think erroneously, replaced with new text that would preserve meter and line uniformity. As a marginal note beside Raccoons (Emblem 21) [Poem 86] specifies, a popular ethnographic traveller’s book recounted that the Chinese harnessed the labor of four thousand whales to process grain. Eardley identifies the source as Botero Giovanni, The Traveler’s Breviat; Or, an Historical Description of the Most Famous Kingdoms in the World (London: 1601), p. 22.
Line number 22

 Gloss note

the common crowd
Line number 22

 Critical note

probably referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English Civil War, and later became Lord Protector.
Line number 23

 Gloss note

The hydra was the many-headed serpent in classical mythology that could grow additional heads when one was cut off; it was commonly used to describe an unruly mob. To “back” was to mount or ride on, but also to support, bet on, or stand behind.
Line number 24

 Gloss note

The horse (jade) was resistant or lazy (resty) and had not been ridden much.
Line number 26

 Gloss note

This is a proverbial expression; the manuscript might be corrected to read “rides” instead of “drives,” or the correction might have been the reverse.
Line number 27

 Gloss note

This line and the next refers to the biblical account of how Jesus performed an exorcism on a man by transferring the devils possessing him into a herd of swine, who then ran over a cliff and drowned in the sea (see, e.g., Mark 5:2-13). “He” in this line refers to the devil.
Line number 28

 Gloss note

an epithet for the ocean (with Neptune as its god)
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Cromwell or any ruler relying on the animalic crowd
Line number 30

 Gloss note

be thrown suddenly or violently, especially into an undesirable state; fall headlong or plunge; hurry
Line number 31

 Gloss note

This line and the next refer to the Christian account of the end of the world when the devil, false prophets, and sinners are all cast into a burning lake of fire (hell). See Revelation 20:10 and 21:8. Sulfur was a substance associated with volcanic regions.
Line number 33

 Gloss note

the devil
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[Emblem 42]
This Huge Leviathan
(Emblem 42)
This Huge Leviathan (Emblem 42)
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
This edition modernizes the spelling and punctuation of Pulter’s text in order to make it accessible to a broad readership. I consulted Alice Eardley’s edition of the poem, although my editorial decisions vary significantly from hers (cited as
Gloss Note
Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Iter Inc., Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014), pp. 245–6.
“Eardley”
in this edition). Research on Indigenous whaling practices is hindered by the fact that there are few surviving accounts of whaling in the Americas dating from the seventeenth century and they are authored by European writers who were often at several removes from their reported sources. The term “Indian” features prominently in the poem and the historical texts included in my Curations. The poem seems to be based on a Spanish explorer’s account of a whale hunt by the Tequesta, a tribe that inhabited the southeastern coast of Florida until the mid-eighteenth century (see the Curation Whaling Legends for further discussion of Pulter’s source material). But Pulter’s subject is the archetypal uncivilized Indian, a fictional character with no relation to the Tequesta. In my notes I have opted to use the descriptor “Indigenous,” with the acknowledgement that this label is also an invention of European colonizers that fails to capture the diversity of the native peoples and cultures existing in America.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
What starts as a lesson in not underestimating a seemingly less powerful foe takes a dramatic turn in this emblem, which becomes a meditation on the unexpected consequences of riding animals: whales, Hydra-like horses, and demonically possessed pigs. Pulter first draws on traveler’s tales to describe the way that Native Americans use their intelligence to overpower and devour whales: after cramming poles up their nostrils, they allegedly ride the whales until they tire and beach themselves. After summing up this fable’s moral—that brains can overcome brawn—the narrator reverses both the rider’s fate and the moral by imagining Oliver Crowell figuratively riding an unruly populace. Unable to control the beast (as Native Americans so ably could), Cromwell is heading to a tragic end that Pulter aligns with the devil driving animals into eternal damnation; turning from horses to swine, Pulter imagines the fate of the nation by recounting the story of Jesus transferring demons from a person into pigs, who then drowned themselves in the ocean. In this unusual emblem, the moral shifts: a warning against pride in brawn in favor of brains converts into a plea to shake off the devil. Humans perhaps only seem superior when we subdue other creatures: we too are vulnerable to being “ridden” by forces beyond our control.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
This is the second of two emblems Pulter wrote about the leviathan, a sea monster in the Bible that is typically identified with the whale (see also This Vast Leviathan (Emblem 12) [Poem 78]). The poem is a striking depiction of a whale hunt in which a so-called “Indian” man rides a whale like a horse and kills it by driving wooden stakes into its blowholes. The story can be traced back to Spanish travel narratives of the late sixteenth century, with the hunt supposedly witnessed firsthand by an explorer in Florida. My objective is to offer readers a postcolonial presentation of the text, one that questions European representations of Indigenous peoples. The archival challenges to creating a postcolonial reading are discussed in the Editorial Note. The poem and the texts included in my Curations for this poem illustrate how Indigenous peoples and their ways of life reached the status of myth in Europe by way of explorer publications. This emblem can fruitfully be viewed in the context of early modern literature about North America, in which Christian theology was intertwined with an imperialist agenda. Pulter injects the tale of the whale hunt with allusions to classical mythology and Bible stories. In her hands it becomes fable-like, with the symbolism of the emblem operating on multiple levels; what begins as a classic battle of strength versus wit turns into a warning about the Devil on a sinner’s back. Pulter aligns her English readers with the whale and the Indigenous hunter with the Devil, suggesting that there is also a contest for dominance between European and Indigenous American peoples. Central to the poem is the theme of taming—the danger of being mastered by demonic forces or peoples and the need to bring Indigenous populations under Christian European rule.

— Leah Knight and Wendy Wall
1
42This huge Laviathan for all his Strength
This huge
Gloss Note
a large sea animal; here, a whale
leviathan
, for all his strength,
This huge
Gloss Note
An aquatic animal of monstrous size, often identified with the whale. In the Bible, the leviathan is a creation of God that represents his might, but also sometimes a symbol of evil. See the Curation The Leviathan and the Bible below.
leviathan
, for all his strength,
2
Is by an Indians Witt Subdu’d at
Physical Note
“th” written over “ht”
length
Is
Critical Note
In a collection of travel accounts appears a similar story: “The manner the Indians of Florida use … to take these whales … is, they … swimming approach near the whale’s side, then with great dexterity they leap to his neck, and there they ride as on horse-back, … then he thrusts a sharpe and strong stake … into the whale’s nostril, … the whale doth furiously beat the sea, and raiseth mountains of water, running into the deep with great violence, and presently riseth again, not knowing what to do for pain: the Indian still sits firm, … in the end he [the whale] comes near the land, and remains on ground by the hugeness of his body, unable any more to move; then a great number of Indians … kill him, and cut his flesh in pieces, … using it for meate.” Samuel Purchas, ed., Purchas his Pilgrims, in Five Books (London, 1625), p. 931. This account derives from the account entitled “Observations … of Josephus Acosta, a Learned Jesuit, Touching the Natural History of … the West Indies” (Book 5, Part 2, Chapter 2, Section 2).
by an Indian’s wit subdued
at length.
Is by an
Gloss Note
i.e., An Indigenous inhabitant of what is now North America. The original story on which the emblem is based took place in Florida. See the Curation Whaling Legends.
Indian’s
wit subdued at length.
3
Who can but Such a Monſtr’ous bulk deride
Who can but such a monstrous bulk deride,
Who can but such a monstrous bulk
Gloss Note
Laugh at in contempt or scorn (OED, “deride, v.” 1).
deride
,
4
Who Suffers one upon his Neck to Ride
Who
Gloss Note
tolerates; permits; undergoes or endures, as with pain or distress; sustains injury
suffers
one upon his neck to ride,
Who
Gloss Note
Endures or submits to (OED, “suffer, v.” 1).
suffers
one upon his neck to ride,
5
Knocking in Billets into either Noſe
Knocking in
Gloss Note
thick sticks used as a weapon
billets
into either
Gloss Note
nostril
nose
Knocking in
Gloss Note
A thick stick used as a weapon (OED, “billet, n.2” 2). This manner of killing whales was reported in several European travel books in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See the Curation Whaling Legends.
billets
into either
Gloss Note
i.e., nostril (the blowhole of a whale). Baleen whales have two blowholes, while toothed whales have one. Baleen whales feed off of tiny organisms like plankton, krill, and small fish, which are filtered through baleen, long bristles made of keratin blocking the entrance to their mouths.
nose
,
6
Whence Seas, and Shoals, of ffiſhes ever fflows
Whence seas and
Gloss Note
schools
shoals
of fishes ever flows?
Gloss Note
From which place.
Whence
seas and
Gloss Note
Schools.
shoals
of fishes ever flows?
7
Nor cares hee though hee bounce, or fflounce, or beat,
Nor cares
Gloss Note
The first “he” is the “Indian”; the second is the whale
he though he
bounce, or flounce, or beat
Nor cares
Critical Note
The first “he” refers to the hunter and the second to the whale. The pronouns become somewhat confused here, blurring the divide between man and beast. Indigenous peoples were often dehumanized in European writing through the description of them in animalistic terms.
he though he
bounce, or
Gloss Note
Flounder, struggle; typically used to describe horses or aquatic animals (OED, “flounce, v.1” 2).
flounce
, or beat
8
Against the Rocks, yet Still hee keeps his Seat
Against the rocks, yet still he keeps his seat
Against the rocks, yet still he keeps his seat,
9
And Spight of’s teeth hee Rides him to the Shores
And spite
Gloss Note
of his (the whale’s)
of’s
teeth, he rides him to the shores
Gloss Note
In spite of his (i.e., the whale’s).
And spite of’s
Gloss Note
The whale has two blowholes, or “nose[s]” (line 5), indicating that it is a baleen whale, but here Pulter refers to its teeth (baleen whales have two blowholes, while toothed whales have one).
teeth
he rides him to the shores,
10
Where ffil’d with Horrour hee his Life out Rores
Where, filled with horror,
Gloss Note
the whale
he
his life
Critical Note
both figuratively breathing out his life with a loud cry (roaring out) and competitively outroaring his life (uttering a loud cry that extends beyond his life)
out roars
.
Where, filled with horror,
Gloss Note
The whale.
he
his life
Gloss Note
Cries out. Also used to describe a loud noise of breath escaping (OED, “roar, v.1” 1a and 3d). Here the whale roars out as his last breath leaves him.
outroars
.
11
Thus hee Triumphant Lites, thus ends his Toyl
Thus
Gloss Note
the rider triumphantly dismounts
he triumphant lights
; thus ends his toil,
Thus
Gloss Note
The "Indian."
he
triumphant
Gloss Note
Alights, or dismounts.
’lights
, thus ends his toil,
12
Cutting his Unctious Collops out to boyl
Cutting his
Gloss Note
oily, greasy, fat, or rich pieces of flesh or slices of meat
unctuous collops
out to boil.
Cutting his
Gloss Note
Fatty (OED,“unctuous, adj.” 1b).
unctuous
Gloss Note
Slices of meat (OED, “collop, n.1” 2).
collops
out to boil.
13
By this you See that Witt doth oft Subdue
By this you see that wit doth oft subdue
By this you see that wit doth oft subdue
14
The greatest Strenght this
Physical Note
“s” appears added later, in different hand from main scribe
Elaphants
finds True
The greatest strength;
Critical Note
The elephant’s service to humans (construed here as strength being subdued by wit) is recounted in Pliny’s natural history, where we learn that “the king they adore, they kneel before him” and “the lesser sort … serve the Indians in good stead to care and plough their ground.” Philemon Holland, translator (1601), C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601), Book 8, Chapter 1. Chapter 8 of the same book describes ways of hunting elephants, including one method described as “subtle and deceitful” (and thus full of wit in the early modern sense of the term).
this elephants find true
;
The greatest strength: this
Critical Note
Eardley notes that Pulter was familiar with a section of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History about elephants. Pliny claims that elephants, of all the animals in the world, “commeth nearest in wit and capacity to men,” but even they “do whatsoever they are commanded,” serving Indians from the king down to the farmers. Philemon Holland (translator), The History of the World (London: 1634), Book 8, Chapter 1, p. 192. Via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership
elephants
find true,
15
And Soe the Youths of Theſaly did tame
And so the youths of Thessaly did tame
And so the youths of Thessaly did tame
16
The Warlike Horſe, Soe Bulls they overcame
Gloss Note
An ancient Thessalonian tribe (inhabiting a region in Greece) was renowned for its expert horsemanship.
The warlike horse
; so bulls they overcame,
The warlike horse; so bulls they overcame,
17
Whence cald Centaurus, Soe against their Wills
Gloss Note
The Thessalonian youths who tamed horses and bulls were known as centaurs—mythical creatures with the lower body of horses and the upper body of humans—owing to their expert riding.
Whence called Centaurus
; so, against their wills,
Gloss Note
As a result (OED, whence, adv. and conj.” 4).
Whence
called
Gloss Note
Creatures in Greek mythology with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a horse. Eardley cites George Sandys’ translation of the origin story of the centaurs by Ovid: Thessaly was a region in northern Greece that became infested with bulls and its ruler, King Ixion, offered a reward to whoever could kill them. The inhabitants of Mount Pelion “gored [the bulls] with their javelins,” and the onlookers in Thessaly were so amazed by their horsemanship that they presumed the men and their horses “to be but one creature,” and henceforth they were called “centaurs.” George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Oxford: 1632), Book 12, p. 418. Via HathiTrust
Centaurs
; so against their wills,
18
ffour Thouſand Whales are forcd to draw in Mills
Critical Note
This line and the phrase above, “So against their wills,” are struck through in the manuscript but not, we think erroneously, replaced with new text that would preserve meter and line uniformity. As a marginal note beside Raccoons (Emblem 21) [Poem 86] specifies, a popular ethnographic traveller’s book recounted that the Chinese harnessed the labor of four thousand whales to process grain. Eardley identifies the source as Botero Giovanni, The Traveler’s Breviat; Or, an Historical Description of the Most Famous Kingdoms in the World (London: 1601), p. 22.
Four thousand whales are forced to draw in mills.
Four thousand whales are forced to
Gloss Note
Pull. Used to describe a draught animal, a working animal such as a horse that draws something like a plough (OED, “draw, v.” 2a).
draw
in
Critical Note
This sentence has been struck out in the manuscript. Eardley notes that it echoes lines 24–5 of Emblem 21, “Nor one alone could curb so of their wills / Four thousand whales to make them draw in mills,” which lists great feats of strength. Pulter seems to be imagining whales pulling the wheels of mills in order to grind grain. See the Curation Whales Working in Mills to learn more about the inspiration for this image.
mills
.
19
Then though thy Strength & Courage doe tranſcend
Then though thy strength and courage do transcend,
Then, though thy strength and courage do
Gloss Note
Exceed. The strength and courage of the whale surpass those of the hunter, but he is bested by the hunter’s wit
transcend
,
20
Bee not too Proud, nor on them both depend
Be not too proud, nor on them both depend;
Be not too proud, nor on them both depend.
21
Doe not thy deſpicablest ffoe deſpiſe
Do not thy despicablest foe despise,
Do not thy
Gloss Note
Most despicable.
despicablest
Critical Note
Possibly referring to the Devil, the arch-foe, or arch-enemy, of mankind (OED, “foe, n” P1).
foe
Critical Note
“Despise” here means to look down upon, rather than to hate (OED, “despise, v.”). Pulter warns her readers not to underestimate their enemies.
despise
,
22
ffor from the Vulgar one you See did Rise
For, from
Gloss Note
the common crowd
the vulgar
,
Critical Note
probably referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English Civil War, and later became Lord Protector.
one
you see did rise,
For from the
Critical Note
From the vulgar race of the so-called “Indians,” one man did rise.
vulgar, one
, you see, did rise
23
Which did the ffierce and Monst’rous Hidra back
Which did the fierce and monstrous
Gloss Note
The hydra was the many-headed serpent in classical mythology that could grow additional heads when one was cut off; it was commonly used to describe an unruly mob. To “back” was to mount or ride on, but also to support, bet on, or stand behind.
Hydra back
.
Which did the fierce and monstrous
Critical Note
A snakelike sea monster in Greek and Roman mythology with many heads that regrew when severed, finally killed by Hercules: “one [head] being cut off, two rose in the room more terrible than the former, which Hercules assailed and destroyed by suddenly cauterizing her headless necks.” Curiously, Pulter’s analogy aligns the Indigenous hunter with Hercules, a revered hero of Western mythology. See George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Oxford: 1632), Book 9, p. 335. Via HathiTrust. In the Bible, the leviathan is also described as having many heads. See Ps. 74:14 in the Curation The Leviathan and the Bible.
Hydra
Gloss Note
Mount.
back
.
24
The Jade was resty and did Rideing lack
Gloss Note
The horse (jade) was resistant or lazy (resty) and had not been ridden much.
The jade was resty and did riding lack;
The
Gloss Note
“A contemptuous name for a horse; a horse of inferior breed” (OED, “jade, n.1” 1a). Here referring to the whale.
jade
was
Gloss Note
Rebellious, refusing to advance or obey commands, typically with reference to a horse. (OED, “resty, adj.2” 1a).
resty
and did
Gloss Note
Was not accustomed to being ridden.
riding lack
.
now

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25
Now the Tame Beast
Physical Note
insertion marks and “h” in H2
bot\h \
Whip & ſpur abides
Now the tame beast both whip and spur abides;
Now the tame beast both whip and
Gloss Note
A small, spiked wheel attached to the heel of a horseback rider’s boot. When the rider digs his heels into the horse’s flanks, the spurs urge the horse forward.
spur
Gloss Note
Submits to.
abides
;
26
Needs must they Gallop, whom ye Devill
Physical Note
“v” may have been written over an original medial “d,” with an initial “d” added later; alternatively, an initial “d” may have been imperfectly erased and blotted, and an original “v” changed to a medial “d.”
drives
Gloss Note
This is a proverbial expression; the manuscript might be corrected to read “rides” instead of “drives,” or the correction might have been the reverse.
Needs must they gallop whom the devil drives.
Needs must they gallop whom the Devil
Critical Note
The manuscript here has been corrected, the final word “drives” changed to “rides” or vice versa. This line is based on a proverb, which typically concludes with “drives” (OED, “needs, adv.” 5). Pulter may have altered the word to “rides” to rhyme with the previous line. Samuel Purchas cites this proverb in his book Purchas His Pilgrimes: “Needs must they goe whom the diuell driueth.” Eardley cites Purchas as Pulter’s source for this whaling story. See the Curation Whaling Legends. Purchas His Pilgrimes (London: 1625), Book 1, ch. 3, p. 63, via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership
rides
.
27
Soe when hee did poſſes the Heard of Swine
So when
Gloss Note
This line and the next refers to the biblical account of how Jesus performed an exorcism on a man by transferring the devils possessing him into a herd of swine, who then ran over a cliff and drowned in the sea (see, e.g., Mark 5:2-13). “He” in this line refers to the devil.
he did possess the herd of swine
,
So when
Gloss Note
The Devil.
he
did possess the herd of
Critical Note
Eardley notes that this is a reference to a miracle performed by Jesus in which he exorcises a legion of demons from a man and transfers them into a herd of pigs, which become possessed and run into the sea and drown. The story is found in Mark 5:1–20 (included in the Curation The Miracle of the Swine), Matt. 8:28–34, and Luke 8:26–39.
swine
,
28
They Straight Ran Headlong into Neptunes brine
They straight ran headlong into
Gloss Note
an epithet for the ocean (with Neptune as its god)
Neptune’s brine
.
They straight ran headlong into Neptune’s
Gloss Note
The sea; Neptune is the Roman god of the sea.
brine
.
29
Then let the giddy Monſter warning take
Then let the
Gloss Note
Cromwell or any ruler relying on the animalic crowd
giddy monster
warning take,
Then let the
Gloss Note
The whale. “Giddy” may refer to either the physical whirling about of the body, or a dizzy, confused state of mind. Derived from the Old English gidig, meaning insane, or possessed by a god (OED, “giddy, adj.” 2).
giddy monster
warning take,
30
Least they precipitate into that Lake
Lest they
Gloss Note
be thrown suddenly or violently, especially into an undesirable state; fall headlong or plunge; hurry
precipitate
into that lake
Lest
Gloss Note
The Indian and the whale.
they
Gloss Note
Plunge.
precipitate
into that lake
31
Where Sulphur mixt w:th never quenched ffire
Gloss Note
This line and the next refer to the Christian account of the end of the world when the devil, false prophets, and sinners are all cast into a burning lake of fire (hell). See Revelation 20:10 and 21:8. Sulfur was a substance associated with volcanic regions.
Where sulfur mixed with never-quenchéd fire
,
Where
Critical Note
Sulphur is also known as brimstone. In Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, Satan is “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone . . . and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Also cast into this lake is a beast of the sea, a demonic monster associated with the Devil. John, the narrator of Revelation, describes the beast in terms similar to the hydra of Greek and Roman mythology: “I . . . saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy . . . And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Rev. 13:1–3).
sulphur mixed with never-quenchèd fire
,
32
Where they ſhall
Physical Note
written directly above cancelled “ſhall,” in H2
Still
die yet never quite expire
Where they still die, yet never quite expire.
Where they still die, yet never quite expire.
33
Then take my counſell & the ffind
Physical Note
trailing descender from “p”above blends into “f”
of
throw
Then take my counsel and the
Gloss Note
the devil
fiend
off throw,
Then take my counsel and the
Gloss Note
The Devil.
fiend
Gloss Note
Throw off.
off throw
,
34
Least hee and you into perdition goe
Lest he and you into perdition go.
Lest he and
Critical Note
Pulter’s emblems often conclude with a lesson in morality. In this emblem, she aligns readers with the whale. They should renounce the Devil, who will attempt to steer them onto the path to damnation. But her association of the Devil with an Indigenous man is also suggestive of her anxiety about Indigenous peoples, presented here as a threat to Christian society.
you
into
Gloss Note
Eternal damnation in hell.
perdition
go.
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Transcription

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

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

 Editorial note

This edition modernizes the spelling and punctuation of Pulter’s text in order to make it accessible to a broad readership. I consulted Alice Eardley’s edition of the poem, although my editorial decisions vary significantly from hers (cited as
Gloss Note
Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda (Iter Inc., Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014), pp. 245–6.
“Eardley”
in this edition). Research on Indigenous whaling practices is hindered by the fact that there are few surviving accounts of whaling in the Americas dating from the seventeenth century and they are authored by European writers who were often at several removes from their reported sources. The term “Indian” features prominently in the poem and the historical texts included in my Curations. The poem seems to be based on a Spanish explorer’s account of a whale hunt by the Tequesta, a tribe that inhabited the southeastern coast of Florida until the mid-eighteenth century (see the Curation Whaling Legends for further discussion of Pulter’s source material). But Pulter’s subject is the archetypal uncivilized Indian, a fictional character with no relation to the Tequesta. In my notes I have opted to use the descriptor “Indigenous,” with the acknowledgement that this label is also an invention of European colonizers that fails to capture the diversity of the native peoples and cultures existing in America.
Elemental Edition

 Headnote

What starts as a lesson in not underestimating a seemingly less powerful foe takes a dramatic turn in this emblem, which becomes a meditation on the unexpected consequences of riding animals: whales, Hydra-like horses, and demonically possessed pigs. Pulter first draws on traveler’s tales to describe the way that Native Americans use their intelligence to overpower and devour whales: after cramming poles up their nostrils, they allegedly ride the whales until they tire and beach themselves. After summing up this fable’s moral—that brains can overcome brawn—the narrator reverses both the rider’s fate and the moral by imagining Oliver Crowell figuratively riding an unruly populace. Unable to control the beast (as Native Americans so ably could), Cromwell is heading to a tragic end that Pulter aligns with the devil driving animals into eternal damnation; turning from horses to swine, Pulter imagines the fate of the nation by recounting the story of Jesus transferring demons from a person into pigs, who then drowned themselves in the ocean. In this unusual emblem, the moral shifts: a warning against pride in brawn in favor of brains converts into a plea to shake off the devil. Humans perhaps only seem superior when we subdue other creatures: we too are vulnerable to being “ridden” by forces beyond our control.
Amplified Edition

 Headnote

This is the second of two emblems Pulter wrote about the leviathan, a sea monster in the Bible that is typically identified with the whale (see also This Vast Leviathan (Emblem 12) [Poem 78]). The poem is a striking depiction of a whale hunt in which a so-called “Indian” man rides a whale like a horse and kills it by driving wooden stakes into its blowholes. The story can be traced back to Spanish travel narratives of the late sixteenth century, with the hunt supposedly witnessed firsthand by an explorer in Florida. My objective is to offer readers a postcolonial presentation of the text, one that questions European representations of Indigenous peoples. The archival challenges to creating a postcolonial reading are discussed in the Editorial Note. The poem and the texts included in my Curations for this poem illustrate how Indigenous peoples and their ways of life reached the status of myth in Europe by way of explorer publications. This emblem can fruitfully be viewed in the context of early modern literature about North America, in which Christian theology was intertwined with an imperialist agenda. Pulter injects the tale of the whale hunt with allusions to classical mythology and Bible stories. In her hands it becomes fable-like, with the symbolism of the emblem operating on multiple levels; what begins as a classic battle of strength versus wit turns into a warning about the Devil on a sinner’s back. Pulter aligns her English readers with the whale and the Indigenous hunter with the Devil, suggesting that there is also a contest for dominance between European and Indigenous American peoples. Central to the poem is the theme of taming—the danger of being mastered by demonic forces or peoples and the need to bring Indigenous populations under Christian European rule.
Elemental Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

a large sea animal; here, a whale
Amplified Edition
Line number 1

 Gloss note

An aquatic animal of monstrous size, often identified with the whale. In the Bible, the leviathan is a creation of God that represents his might, but also sometimes a symbol of evil. See the Curation The Leviathan and the Bible below.
Transcription
Line number 2

 Physical note

“th” written over “ht”
Elemental Edition
Line number 2

 Critical note

In a collection of travel accounts appears a similar story: “The manner the Indians of Florida use … to take these whales … is, they … swimming approach near the whale’s side, then with great dexterity they leap to his neck, and there they ride as on horse-back, … then he thrusts a sharpe and strong stake … into the whale’s nostril, … the whale doth furiously beat the sea, and raiseth mountains of water, running into the deep with great violence, and presently riseth again, not knowing what to do for pain: the Indian still sits firm, … in the end he [the whale] comes near the land, and remains on ground by the hugeness of his body, unable any more to move; then a great number of Indians … kill him, and cut his flesh in pieces, … using it for meate.” Samuel Purchas, ed., Purchas his Pilgrims, in Five Books (London, 1625), p. 931. This account derives from the account entitled “Observations … of Josephus Acosta, a Learned Jesuit, Touching the Natural History of … the West Indies” (Book 5, Part 2, Chapter 2, Section 2).
Amplified Edition
Line number 2

 Gloss note

i.e., An Indigenous inhabitant of what is now North America. The original story on which the emblem is based took place in Florida. See the Curation Whaling Legends.
Amplified Edition
Line number 3

 Gloss note

Laugh at in contempt or scorn (OED, “deride, v.” 1).
Elemental Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

tolerates; permits; undergoes or endures, as with pain or distress; sustains injury
Amplified Edition
Line number 4

 Gloss note

Endures or submits to (OED, “suffer, v.” 1).
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

thick sticks used as a weapon
Elemental Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

nostril
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

A thick stick used as a weapon (OED, “billet, n.2” 2). This manner of killing whales was reported in several European travel books in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See the Curation Whaling Legends.
Amplified Edition
Line number 5

 Gloss note

i.e., nostril (the blowhole of a whale). Baleen whales have two blowholes, while toothed whales have one. Baleen whales feed off of tiny organisms like plankton, krill, and small fish, which are filtered through baleen, long bristles made of keratin blocking the entrance to their mouths.
Elemental Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

schools
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

From which place.
Amplified Edition
Line number 6

 Gloss note

Schools.
Elemental Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

The first “he” is the “Indian”; the second is the whale
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Critical note

The first “he” refers to the hunter and the second to the whale. The pronouns become somewhat confused here, blurring the divide between man and beast. Indigenous peoples were often dehumanized in European writing through the description of them in animalistic terms.
Amplified Edition
Line number 7

 Gloss note

Flounder, struggle; typically used to describe horses or aquatic animals (OED, “flounce, v.1” 2).
Elemental Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

of his (the whale’s)
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

In spite of his (i.e., the whale’s).
Amplified Edition
Line number 9

 Gloss note

The whale has two blowholes, or “nose[s]” (line 5), indicating that it is a baleen whale, but here Pulter refers to its teeth (baleen whales have two blowholes, while toothed whales have one).
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

the whale
Elemental Edition
Line number 10

 Critical note

both figuratively breathing out his life with a loud cry (roaring out) and competitively outroaring his life (uttering a loud cry that extends beyond his life)
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

The whale.
Amplified Edition
Line number 10

 Gloss note

Cries out. Also used to describe a loud noise of breath escaping (OED, “roar, v.1” 1a and 3d). Here the whale roars out as his last breath leaves him.
Elemental Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

the rider triumphantly dismounts
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

The "Indian."
Amplified Edition
Line number 11

 Gloss note

Alights, or dismounts.
Elemental Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

oily, greasy, fat, or rich pieces of flesh or slices of meat
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

Fatty (OED,“unctuous, adj.” 1b).
Amplified Edition
Line number 12

 Gloss note

Slices of meat (OED, “collop, n.1” 2).
Transcription
Line number 14

 Physical note

“s” appears added later, in different hand from main scribe
Elemental Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

The elephant’s service to humans (construed here as strength being subdued by wit) is recounted in Pliny’s natural history, where we learn that “the king they adore, they kneel before him” and “the lesser sort … serve the Indians in good stead to care and plough their ground.” Philemon Holland, translator (1601), C. Plinius Secundus, The Historie of the World (London, 1601), Book 8, Chapter 1. Chapter 8 of the same book describes ways of hunting elephants, including one method described as “subtle and deceitful” (and thus full of wit in the early modern sense of the term).
Amplified Edition
Line number 14

 Critical note

Eardley notes that Pulter was familiar with a section of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History about elephants. Pliny claims that elephants, of all the animals in the world, “commeth nearest in wit and capacity to men,” but even they “do whatsoever they are commanded,” serving Indians from the king down to the farmers. Philemon Holland (translator), The History of the World (London: 1634), Book 8, Chapter 1, p. 192. Via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership
Elemental Edition
Line number 16

 Gloss note

An ancient Thessalonian tribe (inhabiting a region in Greece) was renowned for its expert horsemanship.
Elemental Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

The Thessalonian youths who tamed horses and bulls were known as centaurs—mythical creatures with the lower body of horses and the upper body of humans—owing to their expert riding.
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

As a result (OED, whence, adv. and conj.” 4).
Amplified Edition
Line number 17

 Gloss note

Creatures in Greek mythology with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a horse. Eardley cites George Sandys’ translation of the origin story of the centaurs by Ovid: Thessaly was a region in northern Greece that became infested with bulls and its ruler, King Ixion, offered a reward to whoever could kill them. The inhabitants of Mount Pelion “gored [the bulls] with their javelins,” and the onlookers in Thessaly were so amazed by their horsemanship that they presumed the men and their horses “to be but one creature,” and henceforth they were called “centaurs.” George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Oxford: 1632), Book 12, p. 418. Via HathiTrust
Elemental Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

This line and the phrase above, “So against their wills,” are struck through in the manuscript but not, we think erroneously, replaced with new text that would preserve meter and line uniformity. As a marginal note beside Raccoons (Emblem 21) [Poem 86] specifies, a popular ethnographic traveller’s book recounted that the Chinese harnessed the labor of four thousand whales to process grain. Eardley identifies the source as Botero Giovanni, The Traveler’s Breviat; Or, an Historical Description of the Most Famous Kingdoms in the World (London: 1601), p. 22.
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Gloss note

Pull. Used to describe a draught animal, a working animal such as a horse that draws something like a plough (OED, “draw, v.” 2a).
Amplified Edition
Line number 18

 Critical note

This sentence has been struck out in the manuscript. Eardley notes that it echoes lines 24–5 of Emblem 21, “Nor one alone could curb so of their wills / Four thousand whales to make them draw in mills,” which lists great feats of strength. Pulter seems to be imagining whales pulling the wheels of mills in order to grind grain. See the Curation Whales Working in Mills to learn more about the inspiration for this image.
Amplified Edition
Line number 19

 Gloss note

Exceed. The strength and courage of the whale surpass those of the hunter, but he is bested by the hunter’s wit
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Gloss note

Most despicable.
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note

Possibly referring to the Devil, the arch-foe, or arch-enemy, of mankind (OED, “foe, n” P1).
Amplified Edition
Line number 21

 Critical note

“Despise” here means to look down upon, rather than to hate (OED, “despise, v.”). Pulter warns her readers not to underestimate their enemies.
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Gloss note

the common crowd
Elemental Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

probably referring to Oliver Cromwell, a non-elite statesman who led Parliamentarians against King Charles I during the English Civil War, and later became Lord Protector.
Amplified Edition
Line number 22

 Critical note

From the vulgar race of the so-called “Indians,” one man did rise.
Elemental Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

The hydra was the many-headed serpent in classical mythology that could grow additional heads when one was cut off; it was commonly used to describe an unruly mob. To “back” was to mount or ride on, but also to support, bet on, or stand behind.
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Critical note

A snakelike sea monster in Greek and Roman mythology with many heads that regrew when severed, finally killed by Hercules: “one [head] being cut off, two rose in the room more terrible than the former, which Hercules assailed and destroyed by suddenly cauterizing her headless necks.” Curiously, Pulter’s analogy aligns the Indigenous hunter with Hercules, a revered hero of Western mythology. See George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis (Oxford: 1632), Book 9, p. 335. Via HathiTrust. In the Bible, the leviathan is also described as having many heads. See Ps. 74:14 in the Curation The Leviathan and the Bible.
Amplified Edition
Line number 23

 Gloss note

Mount.
Elemental Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

The horse (jade) was resistant or lazy (resty) and had not been ridden much.
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

“A contemptuous name for a horse; a horse of inferior breed” (OED, “jade, n.1” 1a). Here referring to the whale.
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

Rebellious, refusing to advance or obey commands, typically with reference to a horse. (OED, “resty, adj.2” 1a).
Amplified Edition
Line number 24

 Gloss note

Was not accustomed to being ridden.
Transcription
Line number 25

 Physical note

insertion marks and “h” in H2
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

A small, spiked wheel attached to the heel of a horseback rider’s boot. When the rider digs his heels into the horse’s flanks, the spurs urge the horse forward.
Amplified Edition
Line number 25

 Gloss note

Submits to.
Transcription
Line number 26

 Physical note

“v” may have been written over an original medial “d,” with an initial “d” added later; alternatively, an initial “d” may have been imperfectly erased and blotted, and an original “v” changed to a medial “d.”
Elemental Edition
Line number 26

 Gloss note

This is a proverbial expression; the manuscript might be corrected to read “rides” instead of “drives,” or the correction might have been the reverse.
Amplified Edition
Line number 26

 Critical note

The manuscript here has been corrected, the final word “drives” changed to “rides” or vice versa. This line is based on a proverb, which typically concludes with “drives” (OED, “needs, adv.” 5). Pulter may have altered the word to “rides” to rhyme with the previous line. Samuel Purchas cites this proverb in his book Purchas His Pilgrimes: “Needs must they goe whom the diuell driueth.” Eardley cites Purchas as Pulter’s source for this whaling story. See the Curation Whaling Legends. Purchas His Pilgrimes (London: 1625), Book 1, ch. 3, p. 63, via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership
Elemental Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

This line and the next refers to the biblical account of how Jesus performed an exorcism on a man by transferring the devils possessing him into a herd of swine, who then ran over a cliff and drowned in the sea (see, e.g., Mark 5:2-13). “He” in this line refers to the devil.
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Gloss note

The Devil.
Amplified Edition
Line number 27

 Critical note

Eardley notes that this is a reference to a miracle performed by Jesus in which he exorcises a legion of demons from a man and transfers them into a herd of pigs, which become possessed and run into the sea and drown. The story is found in Mark 5:1–20 (included in the Curation The Miracle of the Swine), Matt. 8:28–34, and Luke 8:26–39.
Elemental Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

an epithet for the ocean (with Neptune as its god)
Amplified Edition
Line number 28

 Gloss note

The sea; Neptune is the Roman god of the sea.
Elemental Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

Cromwell or any ruler relying on the animalic crowd
Amplified Edition
Line number 29

 Gloss note

The whale. “Giddy” may refer to either the physical whirling about of the body, or a dizzy, confused state of mind. Derived from the Old English gidig, meaning insane, or possessed by a god (OED, “giddy, adj.” 2).
Elemental Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

be thrown suddenly or violently, especially into an undesirable state; fall headlong or plunge; hurry
Amplified Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

The Indian and the whale.
Amplified Edition
Line number 30

 Gloss note

Plunge.
Elemental Edition
Line number 31

 Gloss note

This line and the next refer to the Christian account of the end of the world when the devil, false prophets, and sinners are all cast into a burning lake of fire (hell). See Revelation 20:10 and 21:8. Sulfur was a substance associated with volcanic regions.
Amplified Edition
Line number 31

 Critical note

Sulphur is also known as brimstone. In Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, Satan is “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone . . . and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Also cast into this lake is a beast of the sea, a demonic monster associated with the Devil. John, the narrator of Revelation, describes the beast in terms similar to the hydra of Greek and Roman mythology: “I . . . saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy . . . And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Rev. 13:1–3).
Transcription
Line number 32

 Physical note

written directly above cancelled “ſhall,” in H2
Transcription
Line number 33

 Physical note

trailing descender from “p”above blends into “f”
Elemental Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

the devil
Amplified Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

The Devil.
Amplified Edition
Line number 33

 Gloss note

Throw off.
Amplified Edition
Line number 34

 Critical note

Pulter’s emblems often conclude with a lesson in morality. In this emblem, she aligns readers with the whale. They should renounce the Devil, who will attempt to steer them onto the path to damnation. But her association of the Devil with an Indigenous man is also suggestive of her anxiety about Indigenous peoples, presented here as a threat to Christian society.
Amplified Edition
Line number 34

 Gloss note

Eternal damnation in hell.
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