Performing Privacy and Gender in Early Modern Literature by Mary E. Trull (auth.)

By Mary E. Trull (auth.)

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Born and raised in the London merchant class, she traveled in circles into which Protestantism made early, deep inroads. Her father, Stephen Vaughan, a merchant and crown agent in Flanders and Holland, was accused of Protestant heresy more than once in the 1530s. While he denied being “Lutheran or Tyndalian,” he declared, “nor do I put my trust in the learning of any earthly creature. 8 Sent in 1530 to bring Protestant exile and Bible translator William Tyndale back to England, Vaughan instead became an advocate for Private Lament in Calvin, Knox, and Anne Lock 23 Tyndale and tried unsuccessfully to save him from execution in 1536.

Lock underlines the psalmist’s urgent struggle for self-control through repetition in lines like these: Yet blinde, alas, I groape about for grace. While blinde for grace I groape about in vaine, My fainting breath I gather up and straine, Mercie, mercie to crye and crye againe. (38–41) Lock’s proclivity for alliteration may merely reflect the style of the times, for contemporary anthologies such as Tottel’s Miscellany (1557) and The Mirror for Magistrates (1559) bristled with it. 44 Her speaker’s verbal groping reflects both penitence and the difficulty of progressing towards regeneration, for the speaker cannot even state his or her condition without aid: “My speache doth faile to utter thee my smart” (314).

Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Ps 13: 1–2, NRSV)23 The accusatory questions of psalm laments can only be understood within the context of intimate personal address, for they seek to provoke God rather than condemn him. Knox greets the psalms’ accusatory questions as salutary evidence of the speakers’ courage in addressing God despite the despair that “the flesche, naturall reasone, the law of God, the present torment, and the Devill” instill by convincing them that “God is angrie, and thairfoir is thair nether help nor remedie to be hoipit for at his handis” (137).

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