Archive for August 7th, 2018

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Satire VII from “Book I” of “Virgidemiarum” by Joseph Hall with note by Samuel Weller Singer

Great is the folly of a feeble brain,
O’erruled with love, and tyrannous disdain:
For love, however in the basest breast,
It breeds high thoughts that feed the fancy best.
Yet is he blind, and leads poor fools awry,
While they hang gazing on their mistress’ eye.
The lovesick poet, whose importune prayer
Repulsed is with resolute despair,
Hopeth to conquer his disdainful dame,
With public plaints of his conceived flame.
Then pours he forth in patched sonettings,
His love, his lust, and loathsome flatterings:
As tho’ the staring world hang’d on his sleeve,
When once he smiles, to laugh: and when he sighs, to grieve.
Careth the world, thou love, thou live, or die?
Careth the world how fair thy fair one be?
Fond wit-wal* that wouldst load thy witless head
With timely horns, before thy bridal bed.
Then can he term his dirty ill faced bride
Lady and queen, and virgin deified:
Be she all sooty-black, or berry brown,
She’s white as morrows milk, or flakes new blown.
And tho’ she be some dunghill drudge at home,
Yet can he her resign some refuse room
Amidst the well known stars: or if not there,
Sure will he saint her in his Calendar.

*This should, apparently, be wittol, a tame cuckold. A Saxon word from witan, to know; or, as Philips says in his World of Words, “Wittall, a cuckold that wits all, i.e. knows all: i.e. knows that he is so.” The Witwall was a bird, by some taken for the Green-finch or Canary-bird; others relate of it, “that if a man behold it that hath the yellow jaundice, he is presently cured and the bird dieth.” I have not altered the orthography of the word, as it may stand for wile-well, i. e. know well. I find Skelton spells this word toit-woldt.

From: Hall, Joseph, Warton, Thomas and Singer, Samuel Weller, Satires by Joseph Hall, afterwards Bishop of Exeter and Norwich. With the illustrations of the Late Rev. Thomas Warton. And Additional Notes by Samuel Weller Singer, 1824, Printed by C. Whittingham for R. Triphook: Chiswick, London, pp. 19-20.

Date: 1597

By: Joseph Hall (1574-1656)