Haec Vir (1620)
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Haec Vir: Most redoubted and worthy Sir (for less than a Knight I cannot take you), you are most happily given unto mine embrace.
Hic Mulier: Is she mad or doth she mock me? Most rare and excellent Lady, I am the servant of your virtues and desire to be employed in your service.
Haec Vir: Pity of patience, what doth he behold in me, to take me for a woman? Valiant and magnanimous Sir, I shall desire to build the Tower of my Fortune upon no stronger foundation than the benefit of your grace and favor.
Hic Mulier: Oh, proud ever to be your Servant.
Haec Vir: No, the Servant of your Servant.
Hic Mulier: The Tithe of your friendship, good Lady, is above my merit .
Haec Vir: You make me rich beyond expression. But fair Knight, the truth is I am a Man and desire but the obligation of your friendship.
Hic Mulier: It is ready to be sealed and delivered to your use. Yet I would have you understand I am a Woman.
Haec Vir: Are you a Woman?
Hic Mulier: Are you a Man? O Juno Lucina, help me!
Haec Vir: Yes, I am.
Hic Mulier: Your name, most tender piece of Masculine.
Haec Vir: Haec Vir, no stranger either in Court, City, or Country. But what is yours, most courageous counterfeit of Hercules and his Distaff?
Hic Mulier: Near akin to your goodness, and compounded of fully as false Latin. The world calls me Hic Mulier.
Haec Vir: What, Hic Mulier, the Man-Woman? She that like an Alarm Bell at midnight hath raised the whole Kingdom in Arms against her? Good, stand and let me take a full survey, both of thee and all thy I dependents.
Hic Mulier: Do freely and, when thou hast daubed me over with the worst colors thy malice can grind, then give me leave to answer for myself, and I will say thou art an accuser just and indifferent. Which done, I must entreat you to sit as many minutes that I may likewise take your picture, and then refer to censure whether of our deformities is most injurious to Nature or most effeminate to good men in the notoriousness of the example.
Haec Vir: With like condition of freedom to answer, the Articles are agreed on. Therefore, stand forth, half Birchenlane, half Saint Thomas Apostle's (the first lent thee a doublet, the latter a nether-skirt); half Bridewell, half Blackfriars (the one for a scurvy Block, the other for a most profane Feather); half Mulled Sack the Chimney Sweeper, half Garrat the Fool at a Tilting (the one for a Yellow Ruff, the other for a Scarf able to put a Soldier out of countenance); half Bedlam, half Brimendgham (the one for a base sale Boot, the other for a beastly Leaden gilt Spur); and, to conclude, all Hell, all Damnation for a shorn, powdered, borrowed Hair; a naked, lascivious, bawdy Bosom; a Leadenhall Dagger; a Highway Pistol; and a mind and behavior suitable or exceeding every repeated deformity. To be brief, I can but in those few lines delineate your proportion for the paraphrase or compartment to set out your ugliness to the greatest extent of wonder. I can but refer you to your Godchild that carries your own name -- I mean the Book of Hic Mulier. There you shall see your character and feel your shame with that palpable plainness, that no Egyptian darkness can be more gross and terrible.
Hic Mulier: My most tender piece of man's flesh, leave this lightning and thunder and come roundly to the matter; draw mine accusation into heads, and then let me answer.
Haec Vir: Then thus. In that Book you are arraigned and found guilty, first, of Baseness, in making yourself a slave to novelty and the poor invention of every weak Brain that hath but an embroidered outside; next, of unnaturalness, to forsake the Creation of God and Customs of the Kingdom to be pieced and patched up by a French Tailor, an Italian Babymaker, and a Dutch Soldier beat from the Army for the ill example of Rufffianly behavior; then of Shamefulness, in casting off all modest softness and civility to run through every desert and wilderness of men's opinions like careless untamed Heifers or wild Savages; lastly, of foolishness, in having no moderation or temper either in passions or affections, but turning all into perturbations and sicknesses of the soul, laugh away the preciousness of your Time and at last die with the flattering sweet malice of an incurable consumption. Thus Baseness, Unnaturalness, Shamefulness, Foolishness are the main Hatchments or Coat-Armors which you have taken as rich spoils to adorn you in the deformity of your apparel; which, if you can execute, I can pity and thank Proserpina for thy wit, though no good man can allow of the Reasons.
Hic Mulier: Well then, to the purpose. First, you say I am Base, in being a Slave to Novelty. What slavery can there be in freedom of election, or what baseness to crown my delights with those pleasures which are most suitable to mine affections? Bondage or Slavery is a restraint from those actions which the mind of its own accord doth most willingly desire, to perform the intents and purposes of another's disposition, and that not by mansuetude or sweetness of entreaty, but by the force of authority and strength of compulsion. Now for me to follow change according to the limitation of mine own will and pleasure, there cannot be a greater freedom. Nor do I in my delight of change otherwise than as the whole world doth, or as becometh a daughter of the world to do. For what is the world but a very shop or warehouse of change? Sometimes Winter, sometimes Summer; day and night; they hold sometimes Riches, sometimes Poverty; sometimes Health, sometimes Sickness; now Pleasure, presently Anguish; now Honor, then contempt; and, to conclude, there is nothing but change, which doth surround and mix with all our Fortunes. And will you have poor woman such a fixed Star that she shall not so much as move or twinkle in her own Sphere? That were true Slavery indeed and a Baseness beyond the chains of the worst servitude! Nature to everything she hath created hath given a singular delight in change: as to Herbs, Plants, and Trees a time to wither and shed their leaves, a time to bud and bring forth their leaves, and a time for their Fruits and Flowers; to worms and creeping things a time to hide themselves in the pores and hollows of the earth, and a time to come abroad and suck the dew; to Beasts liberty to choose their food, liberty to delight in their food, and liberty to feed and grow fat with their food; the Birds have the air to fly in, the waters to bathe in, and the earth to feed on; but to man both these and all things else to alter, frame, and fashion, according as his will and delight shall rule him. Again, who will rob the eye of the variety of objects, the ear of the delight of sounds, the nose of smells, the tongue of tastes, and the hand of feeling? And shall only woman, excellent woman, so much better in that she is something purer, be only deprived of this benefit? Shall she be the Bondslave of Time, the Handmaid of opinion, or the strict observer of every frosty or cold benumbed imagination? It were a cruelty beyond the Rack or Strappado.
But you will say it is not Change, but Novelty, from which you deter us, a thing that doth avert the good and erect the evil, prefer the faithless and confound desert, that with the change of Opinions breeds the change of States, and with continual alterations thrusts headlong forward both Ruin and Subversion. Alas, soft Sir, what can you christen by that new imagined Title, when the words of a wise man are, "That what was done, is but done again; all things do change, and under the cope of Heaven there is no new thing." So that whatsoever we do or imitate, it is neither slavish, Base, nor a breeder of Novelty.
Next, you condemn me of Unnaturalness in forsaking my creation and contemning custom. How do I forsake my creation, that do all the rights and offfices due to my Creation? I was created free, born free, and live free; what lets me then so to spin out my time that I may die free?
To alter creation were to walk on my hands with my heels upward, to feed myself with my feet, or to forsake the sweet sound of sweet words for the hissing noise of the Serpent. But I walk with a face erect, with a body clothed, with a mind busied, and with a heart full of reasonable and devout cogitations, only offensive in attire, inasmuch as it is a Stranger to the curiosity of the present times and an enemy to Custom. Are we then bound to be the Flatterers of Time or the dependents on Custom? Oh miserable servitude, chained only to Baseness and Folly, for than custom, nothing is more absurd, nothing more foolish.
It was a custom amongst the Romans that, as we wash our hands before meals, so they with curious and sweet ointments anointed all their arms and legs quite over, and by succession of time grew from these unguents to baths of rich perfumed and compound waters in which they bathed their whole bodies, holding it the greatest disgrace that might be to use or touch any natural water, as appears by these Verses:
She shines with ointments to make hair to fall,
Or with sour Chalk she overcovers all.
It was a custom amongst the Ancients to lie upon stately and soft beds when either they delivered Embassies or entered into any serious discourse or argument, as appears by these Verses:
Father Aeneas thus gan say,
From stately Couch whereon he lay.
Cato Junior held it for a custom never to eat meat but sitting on the ground; the Venetians kiss one another ever at the first meeting; and even at this day it is a general received custom amongst our English that when we meet or overtake any man in our travel or journeying, to examine him whither he rides, how far, to what purpose, and where he lodgeth. Nay, and with that unmannerly boldness of inquisition that it is a certain ground of a most insufficient quarrel not to receive a full satisfaction of those demands which go far astray from good manners or comely civility. And will you have us to marry ourselves to these Mimic and most fantastic customs? It is a fashion or custom with us to mourn in Black; yet the Aegean and Roman Ladies ever mourned in White and, if we will tie the action upon the signification of colors, I see not but we may mourn in Green, Blue, Red, or any simple color used in Heraldry. For us to salute strangers with a kiss is counted but civility, but with foreign Nations immodesty; for you to cut the hair of your upper lips, familiar here in England, everywhere else almost thought unmanly. To ride on Sidesaddles at first was counted here abominable pride, etc. I might instance in a thousand gthings that only Custom and not Reason hath approved. To conclude, Custom is an Idiot, and whosoever dependeth wholly upon him without the discourse of Reason will take from him his pied coat and become a slave indeed to contempt and censure.
But you say we are barbarous and shameless and cast off all softness to run wild through a wilderness of opinions. In this you express more cruelty than in all the rest. Because I stand not with my hands on my belly like a baby at Bartholomew Fair that move not my whole body when I should, but only stir my head like Jack of the Clockhouse which hath no joints; that am not dumb when wantons court me, as if, Asslike, I were ready for all burdens; or I weep not when injury grips me, like a worried Deer in the fangs of many Curs, am I therefore barbarous or shameless? He is much injurious that so baptized us. We are as freeborn as Men, have as free election and as free spirits; we are compounded of like parts and may with like liberty make benefit of our Creations. My countenance shall smile on the worthy and frown on the ignoble; I will hear the Wise and be deaf to Idiots; give counsel to my friend, but be dumb to flatterers. I have hands that shall be liberal to reward desert, feet that shall move swiftly to do good offfices, and thoughts that shall ever accompany freedom and severity. If this be barbarous, let me leave the City and live with creatures of like simplicity.
To conclude, you say we are all guilty of most infinite folly and indiscretion. I confess that Discretion is the true salt which seasoneth every excellence, either in Man or Woman, and without it nothing is well, nothing is worthy; that want disgraceth our actions, staineth our Virtues, and indeed makes us most profane and irreligious. Yet it is ever found in excess, as in too much or too little. And of which of these are we guilty? Do we wear too many clothes or too few? If too many, we should oppress Nature; if too few, we should bring sickness to Nature; but neither of these we do, for what we do wear is warm, thrifty, and wholesome. mThen no excess, and so no indiscretion -- where is then the error? Only in the Fashion, only in the Custom. Oh, for mercy sake, bind us not to so hateful a companion, but remember what one of our famous English poets says:
Round-headed Custom th' apoplexy is
Of bedrid Nature, and lives led amiss,
And takes away all feelings of offense. (G. C.)
Again, another as excellent in the same Art saith:
Custom the World's Judgment doth blind so far,
That Virtue is oft arraigned at Vice's Bar.
And will you be so tyrannous then to compel poor Woman to be a mistress to so unfaithful a Servant? Believe it, then we must call up our Champions against you, which are Beauty and Frailty, and what the one cannot compel you to forgive, the other shall enforce you to pity or excuse. And thus myself imagining myself free of these four Imputations, I rest to be confuted by some better and graver Judgment.
Haec Vir: You have wrested out some wit, to wrangle forth no reason; since everything you would make for excuse, approves your guilt still more ugly: what basest bondage, or what more servile basness, than for the flattering and soothing of an un- bridled appetite, or delight, to take a wilfull liberty to do evil, and to give evil example? This is to be Hells Prentice, not Heaven's Free-woman. It is disputable amongst our Divines, whether upon any occasion a woman may put on man's attire, or no: all conclude it unfit; and the most indifferent will allow it, but onely to escape persecution. Now you will not only put it on, but wear it continually; and not wear it, but take pride in it, not for persecution, but wanton pleasure; not to escape danger, but to run into damnation; not to help others, but to confound the whole sex by the evilness of so lewd an example. Phalaris (though an extreme tyrant) when he executed the inventer of the Brazen Bull in the Bull, did it not so much for the pleasure he took in the torment, as to cut from the earth a brain so devilish and so full of uncivil and unnatural inventions. And sure had the first inventor of your disguise perished with all her cooplements about her, a world had been preserved from scandall and slander; for from one evil to beget infinites, or to nourish sin with a delight in sin, is of all habits the lowest, ignoblest and basest.
Now, who knows not, that to yield to baseness, must needs be folly? (For what Wisdom will be guilty of its own injury?) To be foolishly base, how can ther ebe an action more barbarous? And to be base, foolish and barbarous, how can there appear any spark, twinkle, or but ember of discretion or judgement? So that notwithstanding your elaborate plea for freedom, your severe condemnation of custom, your fair promise of civil actions, and your temperate avoiding of excess, whereby you would seem to hug and embrace discretion; yet till you wear hats to defend the Sun, not to cover shorne locks, Caules to adorne the head not Gregoriaus to warm idle brains, till you wear innocent white Ruffles, not jealous yellow jaundiced bands, well shaped, comely and close Gownes, not light skirts and French doublets, for Poniards, Samplers, for Pistols, Prayer-books, and for ruffled Boots and Spurs, neat shoes and cleane-gartered Stockings, you shall never lose the title of Baseness, Unnaturalness, Shamlessness, and Foolishness, you shall feed Ballads, make rich shops, arm contempt, and only starve and make poor yourselves and your reputations. To conclude, if you will walk without difference, you shall live without reverence if you will contene order, you must endure the shame of disorder; and if you will have no rulers but your wills, you must have no reward but disdaine and disgrace, according to the saying of an excellent English Poet:
A stronger hand restraines our wilfull powers,
A will must rule above this will of ours;
Not following what our vaine desires do wee,
For Vertues sake but what wee ought to doe.
Hic Mulier: Sir, I confess you have raised mine eyelids up, but you have not clean taken away the film that covers the sight. I feel, I confess, cause of belief and would willingly bend my heart to entertain belief, but when the accuser is guilty of as much or more than that he accuseth, or that I see you refuse the potion and are as grievously infected, blame me not then a little to stagger. And till you will be pleased to be cleansed of that leprosy which I see apparent in you, give me leave to doubt whether mine infection be so contagious as your blind severity would make it.
Therefore, to take your proportion in a few lines, my dear Feminine-Masculine, tell me what Charter, prescription, or right of claim you have to those things you make our absolute inheritance? Why do you curl, frizzle, and powder your hairs, bestowing more hours and time in dividing lock from lock, and hair from hair, in giving every thread his posture, and every curl his true sense and circumference, than ever Caesar did in marshalling his Army, either at Pharsalia, in Spain, or Britain? Why do you rob us of our Ruffs, of our Earrings, Carcanets, and Mamillions, of our Fans and Feathers, our Busks, and French bodies, nay, of our Masks, Hoods, Shadows, and Shapinas? Not so much as the very Art of Painting, but you have so greedily engrossed it that were it not for that little fantastical sharppointed dagger that hangs at your chins, and the cross hilt which guards your upper lip, hardly would there be any difference between the fair Mistress and the foolish Servant. But is this theft the uttermost of our Spoil? Fie, you have gone a world further and even ravished from us our speech, our actions, sports, and recreations. Goodness leave me, if I have not heard a Man court his Mistress with the same words that Venus did Adonis, or as near as the Book could instruct him. Where are the Tilts and Tourneys and lofty Galliards that were danced in the days of old, when men capered in the air like wanton kids on the tops of Mountains and turned above ground as if they had been compact of Fire or a purer element? Tut, all's forsaken, all's vanished, those motions shewed more strength than Art, and more courage than courtship; it was much too robustious, and rather spent the body than prepared it, especially where any defect before reigned hence you took from us poore Women our traverses and journeys, our modest statliness and curious slidings, and left us nothing but the new French garb of puppet hopping and setting. Lastly, poor Sheetle-cock that was only a female invention, how have you taken it out of our hands, and made your selves such Lords and Rulers over it, that though it be a very Emblem of us, and our lighter despised fortunes, yet it dare now hardly come near us; nay, you keep it so imprisond within your Bed-Chambers and dining rooms, amongst your Pages and Panders, that a poor innocent Maid to give but a kick with her Battle-dore, were more than half way to the ruin of her reputa- tion. For this you have demolished the noble schools of Horse- manship (of which many were in this City) hung up your Armes to rust, glued up those swords in their scabbards that would shake all Christendom with the brandish, and entertained into your minds such softness, dullness, and effeminate niceness, that it would even make Heraclitus himself laugh against his nature to see how pulingly you languish in this weak entertained sin of womanish softness: To see one of your gender either show himself in the midst of his pride or riches at a Playhouse or public assembly: how, before he dare enter, with the Jacob's Staff of his own eyes and his Page's, he takes a full survey of himself from the highest sprig in his feather to the lowest spangle that shines in his Shoestring; how he prunes and picks himself like a Hawk set aweathering, calls every several garment to Auricular confession, making them utter both their mortal great stains and their venial and lesser blemishes, though the mote be much less than an Atom. Then to see him pluck and tug everything into the form of the newest received fashion, and by Durer's rules make his leg answerable to his neck, his thigh proportionable with his middle, his foot with his hand, and a world of such idle, disdained foppery. To see him thus patched up with Symmetry, make himself complete and even as a circle and, lastly, cast himself amongst the eyes of the people as an object of wonder with more niceness than a Virgin goes to the sheets of her first Lover, would make patience herself mad with anger and cry with the Poet:
O Hominum mores, O gens, O Tempora dura,
Quantus in urbe Dolor; Quantus in Orbe Dolus!
Now since according to your own Inference, even by the Laws of Nature, by the rules of Religion, and the Customs of all civil Nations, it is necessary there be a distinct and special difference between Man and Woman, both in their habit and behaviors, what could we poor weak women do less (being far too weak by force to fetch back those spoils you have unjustly taken from us), than to gather up those garments you have proudly cast away and therewith to clothe both our tbodies and our minds?
Since no other means was left us to continue our names, and to support a difference? For to have held the way in which our fore- fathers first set us, or to have still embraced the civil modesty, or gentle sweetness of our soft inclinations, why, you had so far incroached upon us, and so over-bribed the world, to be deaf to any grant of Restitution, that as at our creation, our whole sex was contained in man our first Parent, so we should have had no other being, but in you, and your most effeminate quality. Hence we have preserved (though to our own shames) those manly things which you have forsaken, which would you again accept, and restore to us the Blushes we laid by, when first we put on your Masculine garments; doubt not but chaste thoughts and bashfullness will again dwell in us, and our Palaces being newly gilt, trimmed and reedified, draw to us all the Graces, all the Muses; which that you may more willingly do, and (as we of yours) grow into detestation of that deformity you have purloined, to the utter loss of your Honours and Reputations. Mark how the brave Italian Poet, even in the Infancy of your abuses, most lively describes you:
About his necke a Garnet rich he wore
Of precious Stones, all set in gold well tryed;
His armes that earst all warlike weapons bare,
In golden Bracelets wantonly were tyed:
Into his eares two Rings convayed are
Of golden Wyer, at which on either side,
Two Indian Pearles, in making like two Peares,
Of passing price were pendant at his eares.
His Locks bedewed with waters of sweet savour;
Stood curled round in order on his head;
He had such wanton womanish behaviour,
As though in Valor he had ne're been bred:
So chang'd in speech, in manners and in favour,
So from himselfe beyond all reason led,
By these inchantments of this amorous Dame;
He was himselfe in nothing but in name.
Thus you see your injury to us is of an old inveterate continuance, having taken such strong root in your busoms, that it can hardly be pulled up, without some offence to the soil: ours young and tender, scarce freed from the Swaddling clouts, and therefore may with us ease be lost, as it was with little difficulty found. Cast then from you our ornaments and put on your own armor; be men in shape, men in show, men in words, men in actions, men in counsel, men in example. Then will we love and serve you; then will we hear and obey you; then will we like rich Jewels hang at your ears to take our Instructions, like true friends follow you through all dangers, and like careful leeches pour oil into your wounds. Then shall you find delight in our words, pleasure in our faces, faith in our hearts, chastity in our thoughts, and sweetness both in our inward and outward inclinations. Comeliness shall be then our study, fear our Armor, and modesty our practice. Then shall we be all your most excellent thoughts can desire and having nothing in us less than impudence and deformity.
Haec Vir: Enough. You have both raised mine eyelids, cleared my sight, and made my heart entertain both shame and delight in an instantÑshame in my Follies past, delight in our Noble and worthy Conversion. Away then from me these light vanities, the only Ensigns of a weak and soft nature, and come you grave and solid pieces which arm a man with Fortitude and Resolution: you are too rough and stubborn for a woman's wearing. We will here change our attires, as we have changed our minds, and with our attires, our names. I will no more be Haec Vir, but Hic Vir; nor you Hic Mulier, but Haec Mulier. From henceforth deformity shall pack to Hell, and if at any time he hide himself upon the earth, yet it shall be with contempt and disgrace. He shall have no friend but Poverty, no favorer but Folly, nor no reward but Shame. Henceforth we will live nobly like ourselves, ever sober, ever discreet, ever worthy: true men and true women. We will be henceforth like well-coupled Doves, full of industry, full of love. I mean not of sensual and carnal love, but heavenly and divine love, which proceeds from God, whose inexpressable nature none is able to deliver in words, since it is like his dwelling, high and beyond the reach of human apprehension, according to the saying of the Poet in these Verses following:
Of love's perfection perfectly to speak,
Or of his nature rightly to define,
Indeed doth far surpass our reason's reach
And needs his Priest t'express his power divine.
For long before the world he was yborn
And bred above its highest celestial Sphere,
For by his power the world was made of yore,
And all that therein wondrous doth appear.