Alright, blogging seemed like a great idea, but I have spent the last 50 minutes cackling delightedly to myself while crafting this 2nd study break blog.  But this’ll be the last one for the rest of the afternoon.

The 17th-century debate on women, which I’m currently constructing paragraphs about, is so fun.  (Possibly because I did not live through it: admittedly.)  One of the books I’m consulting for my querelles des femmes facts is Henderson and McManus’s Half Humankind, which collects and comments on warring pamphlets from 1540-1640.  The most fun one I’ve read thus far is The Schole-House of Women, fyi, but The Juniper Lecture is also fun, and the illustration that opens Half Humankind is taken from that work.  I laugh every time I see it.  I wanted to show it to you all, but the only way I could find a bmp of it was to sift through the detritus Google turned up, and in that pile I found something else quite wonderful: a brief description of this very illustration, printed underneath the entry “Twinkling of a Bed-Staff” in Notes and Queries, a multi-volume encyclopedic work by William White, published in 1862.  Apparently, “in the twinkling of a bed-staff” was once a common enough phrase.  Notes and Queries seems to be long out of print, which is a shame because — well, you’ll see.  First the illustration, then the description.

(Incidentally, the full title for A Juniper Lecture is: A Juniper Lecture. With the description of all sorts of women, good and bad: From the modest to the maddest, from the most Civil, to the scold Rampant, their praise and dispraise compendiously related. The Second Impression, with many new Additions. Also, the Author’s advice how to tame shrew, or vex her.)

“The frontispiece to [A Juniper Lecture] illustrates one of the lectures.  A Xantippe of the period, in night costume, is entering the bedroom pugnaciously bent, having both arms upreared, flourishing a heavy ladle, and uttering the war-cry, ‘Rise, you drunken slave!’  In the bed she is approaching, we see her lord and master in a half-raised position, happily not taken unawares, clutching in one hand a heavy shoe, while the upreared right grasps the bed-staff as a foil to the protect his head from the descending kitchen utensils.

“This presumed ‘bed-staff’ of my plate answers to Johnson’s general description of a pin, and, is an implement of wood, of damaging capability; grasped by the lower extremity, and hurled through the air by a powerful arm, it would certainly reach the head of an offending party in a twinkling” (477).

Now, while there are a few discrepancies between White’s picture and mine (first of all, the “war-cry” is most drolly spoken, not yelled, to my ear, which is part of the reason I love it so; also, the “offending party” obviously indicated in the picture wields the bed-staff, not the ladle), I am absolutely lost in love with the “twinkle” in the eye of both the original engraver, and the later commentor.

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