Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm taking the other versions back to the library. It's clear that the 1898 edition of BRIEF LIVES is the way to go. It seems to transcribe meticulously almost every little scrap of Aubrey, marginalia and all. The editor, Andrew Clark, warns us: "Some things in Aubrey's writing offend not merely against our present canons of good taste, but against good morals. The conversation of the people among whom Aubrey moved, although they were gentry both in position and in education, was often vulgar, and occasionally foul, as judged by us." The story of Venetia Digby is not TOO racy. It does have a sad and morbid ending. "She was a most beautifull desireable creature... it seems her beauty could not lye hid. The young eagles had espied her, and she was sanguine and tractable, and of much suavity... Her face, a short ovall; dark-browne eie-browe, about which much sweetness, as also in the opening of her eie-lidds. The colour of her cheekes was just that of the damaske rose, which is neither too hott nor too pale... She dyed in her bed suddenly. Some suspected that she was poysoned. When her head was opened there was found but little braine, which her husband imputed to her drinking of viper-wine; but spiteful woemen would say 'twas a viper-husband who was jealous of her that she would steale a leape." Aubrey isn't as kind to poor Bess Broughton, though he says "She was a most exquisite beautie, as finely shaped as nature could frame; and had a delicate witt." It seems "Her father at length discovered her inclinations and locked her up in the turret of the house, but she getts downe by a rope; and away she gott to London, and did sett-up for her selfe... her price was very deare... At last she grew common and infamous and gott the pox, of which she died." Then he lists some various songs and jokes that people made about Bess Broughton and her pox.