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Monday, May 07, 2007

On Women and Men in Jacobean England

In the interests a) of not letting this humble blog lie completely idle, b) of following up on a recent post by one of my co-bloggers (a post that seems to have been extraordinarily rendered to another location), and c) of educating studious Google searchers everywhere interested in women in early modern England, I offer this passage from Gilbert Primrose, The Christian mans teares, and Christs comforts. Delivered at a fast the seventh of Octob. An[n]o. 1624. By Gilbert Primerose minister of the French Church of London.(London, 1625; STC 20389). It comes from his dedication to Elizabeth, Countess of Anandale:
One thing I know generally, that men when they are exhorted to weep, are accustomed to say, that weeping is more womanish than manly: for women are of a more week and moist constitution of body, and more sensible of the passions which provoke weeping, than men are. Men blaspheme the glorious and dreadful Name of the Lord our God: Men are more frequent in the Taverns, than in the Church: Men let fly all they have at Cards, at Dice, at other unlawful games and foolish sports. Where is there deceit, where robbery, where oppression? where, but among men? Who trouble the state? Men. Who undermine, who betray, who dismember the Church by schisms, by heresies, by secret plots? Men. Who persecute the Church? Men. Who forsake it? Men. The most part of the evil that is done in the world, is done by men: Not because they are more, but because they are worse than women, and (for the most part, alas!) have neither wit nor courage, but to do ill. For all this they weep not, because, forsooth, it becomes not men to weep. But when the hand of God is heavy upon them, will they not curse? will they not roar like wild beasts? Is roaring more manly? Is it nothing so womanish as weeping?

So there you have it, Primrose's Query: Which is more manly, roaring or weeping?

 Scribble some marginalia

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