Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Romance In Olden Days

Yesterday I resumed editing the diary of Samuel Ward, a translator of the 1611 King James Bible.

Between May 25, 1595, and July 1, 1632, Dr. Ward kept a diary in which he records his sins and reminds himself of God’s blessings. Existing fragments of the diary contain his accounts of academic struggles and squabbles at Cambridge University and various aspects of church politics.

As I worked on the manuscript, I observed two interesting things: one, an oddity of antique grammar; the other, a romantic tragedy.

I noticed that Ward often said things like, I heard Dr. Fudd his sermon about the plague lately visited upon us.

At first I thought that a period should be inserted after the word Fudd and that the words His sermon should begin a new sentence.

But that construction made less and less sense.

Finally, I realized that I’m dealing with a possessive. The diary should read, I heard Dr. Fudd’s sermon about the plague visited upon us.

Whereas we would say, I kicked Joe’s dog, Ward would have said, I kicked Joe his dog showing that the dog belonged to Joe. The apostrophe S is a contraction of his.

Which reminds me of a joke:

“What did you learn in school today,” the mother asked her Second Grader.

“Teacher showed us how to make babies,” the child said.

Irate, the mother demanded, “Just what did that teacher tell you about how to make babies”!

“It’s easy. When you have a baby, all you have to do is change the Y to I and add ES”.

So much for grammar.

Ward’s diary also reveals that the course of true love never has run smooth.

Ward once contemplated courting a young lady. He wanted to propose but worried, tormenting himself, that she might reject his advances. He never does give her name but refers to her only as The Party. As an intensively introspective man addicted to listing the pros and cons of everything, Ward made the following entry in his diary on January 6, 1621:


Jan. 6, 1621. 1. It will be a great disgrace, so to be entertained, and yet to have a former purpose, to reject. 2. A want of discretion or love, or both, in not signifying before our coming that the Party she could not condescend to thee mayre (marry). 3. The noise of our entertainment will make men brute abroad successful proceedings when all is to the contrary, and augment my disgrace. 4. It is a great private check not to be respected in my first love.

Considerations to support in case all go backward: 1. The Party worldly-minded. 2. May have no child. 3. May be not forward in religion. 4. Never betrayed any Τεχμεριου (sign) of entering affection, but rather, at the last meeting, the contrary. 5. I am improvided of many necessaries which will be expected, house, household stuff, etc. 6. She …(lacunae in manuscript).

Other considerations of an higher nature: 1. Romans 8, Diligentibus Deum, omnia cooperantur in bonum, etiam •frustratis votorum. (To those who love God all things work together for good even when disappointed in their vows) 2. Consider whether God do call thee to that state, considering how thou failest, notwithstanding thy orderly proceedings. 3. This disaffecting in The Party is from a special providence of God, and therefore (I have) great reason to rest content therewith. 4. It is God that hath command of hearts and affections.

Observations: 1. My impotency to brook the least thing that distastes me. Alas my great weakness. 2. My dejected mind upon any cross accident. 3. How necessary it is in humility to acknowledge my great imbecillity and weakness in bearing any adverse accident. Also my great imprudence and indiscretion in managing even little affaires. 4. How necessary to have perpetual dependence upon God, both for prudence to manage the least affaire, and patience to bear the least misfortune.

Yes, the young lady missed a real catch there.

And Ward consoled himself with more academic studies.

Maybe instead of treating this material as a religious and historical document, I should revise the diary into a Harlequin Romance.

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posted by John Cowart @ 3:44 AM


At 7:30 AM, Blogger Seeker said...

Makes you wonder if he ever tied the knot. Did he?

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Battlerocker said...

I like the line about making babies. Made me chuckle.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger John Cowart said...


Interesting question

About 1625, Ward married a widow with a child from a former marriage.

A true romantic, he never once mentions his wife's name in his diary!

But on his death, his will gives her maiden name (or perhaps her former married name)as Birchmeir (sometimes spelled Birchmore).

It's not clear whether or not she was the same lady he pined after, (according to his lights) in 1621.


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