- Museum number
- Object: To this grave doctor millions do resort
Satirical broadside on folly that is to be found in all ranks of society: the interior of an apothecary's shop, with the doctor purging with a dose of wisdom a countryman seated on a close-stool who defecates foolish notions represented by asses and geese; a wealthy city merchant waits to be given a dose of plain-dealing; a young courtier's head is inserted into a furnace so that his idle pastimes go up in a cloud of smoke carrying playing-cards, a backgammon board, tennis rackets, musical instruments, extravagant clothes, etc.; a fashionably dressed woman holding a squirrel on a lead is about to follow in the place of the courtier. In a panel below are two clergymen, one complaining of the strain of running more than one parish, the other, who has received the doctor's purge, finding that the work of one parish is quite enough. 1620s; this impression 1672
- Production date
Height: 348 millimetres
Width: 408 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text from Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Stuart Britain', BM 1998, cat.91)
This plate has a complicated ancestry. It is based on a composition that is known in at least three earlier Continental versions. It was probably French in origin, and the original title was 'Le medecin guarissant Phantasie purgeant aussi par drogues la folie' (a version overprinted with a German text at Wolfenbüttel is W.Harms, 'Deutsche Illustrierte Flugblätter des 16 und 17 Jahrhunderts', Tübingen 1985, I no.53). In this there are four figures: the doctor in his robes at the left purges with a dose of 'sagesse' one patient, who excretes little fools below. In the centre the doctor's assistant feeds the head of another patient into an oven which cooks follies out of him, which can be seen in a cloud emerging above the oven. In a later German version (reproduced from an impression in the British Museum by W.A.Coupe, 'The German Illustrated Broadsheet in the 17th century', Baden-Baden 1966, pl.72) the doctor is called Doctor Wurmbrandt (worm-burner).
Droeshout's version of the 1620s makes significant changes to the standard Continental type. The doctor (now, for some unexplained reason, labelled Panurgus) has lost his assistant, a fashionably dressed couple are added in the middle-ground, and there is a great deal of text added (completely transcribed in the British Museum catalogue of satires). The text makes it certain that the print has nothing to do with the scandal of the Countess of Essex and the Earl of Somerset, as was thought by the earlier literature from Granger onwards (although the woman does bear some resemblance to the Countess, see P.1,278). Panurgus was then interpreted as Dr Forman, who was alleged to have supplied the Countess of Essex with drugs to make her husband impotent. She thus obtained a divorce on the grounds of non-consummation and remarried her lover, the Earl of Somerset.
The manuscript license from the Restoration censor Roger L'Estrange (1616-1704) refers to the republication of this satire by John Overton in 1672, half a century after it was first issued. It is one of five such licenses which have so far been recorded. The others are the set of the Twelve Months by Robert Vaughan in the British Museum (169.b.1; Globe 548); a set of satires on marriage in the Folger Library (Globe 456); a portrait of Mother Louse in the British Museum (BMSat 797); and Hollar's titleplate for 'A new book of flowers and fishes' in Robert Harding's collection (Pennington 2063). All bear the same date, 28 October 1672, and all are publications by John Overton. Clearly Overton had submitted a pile of impressions from his old stock for approval on the same day, presumably in preparation for publishing his broadsheet catalogue which came out shortly afterwards (see Globe p.172). That so many survive implies that they all remained together in some archive for many years.
(Text from Malcolm Jones, www.bpi1700.org.uk, "Print of the Month", November 2006)
The subject of this extraordinary sheet is perhaps in essence a 'complaint on the times', a satire of universal folly in which a tripartite division of the realm into Cuntry, Citty & the Court is symbolised, respectively, by rude Rusticall being purged by the doctor on the close-stool, spruce master Cittyzsinne standing behind the Doctor, and the Gallant (i.e courtier) whose head is just entering the subliming furnace. But as the young man, prey to multifarious follies and devoted to fashionable fads and fancies, has long been the target of the moralists' especial wrath, and the saeva indignatio of the satirists, the follies of dissolute youth are what I take to be the principal subject of this puzzling sheet which, as Griffiths notes, 'has a complicated ancestry'.
The costume of the figures would seem to date to the 1620s, and this agrees with the known dates of activity of the engraver, Martin Droeshout, who has signed the sheet with his monogram: MD sculpsit. The earliest state of the present print to survive, however, was probably issued in the 1650s, bearing Peter Stent's imprint alone, and is held in the Wellcome Institute collection.
The composition derives from a print engraved by Matthaus Greuter, probably c.1600 (itself deriving from one of the emblems in the de Brys' hugely influential Emblemata Saecularia of 1596), which was issued in French/German and German-only editions, the former bearing the title Le medecin guarissant Phantasie Purgeant aussi Par drogues la folie [The doctor curing fantasies, and also purging folly with drugs]. But Droeshout made significant changes to his model, dropping the doctor's assistant, adding a richly-dressed couple, an inset panel in which two pluralists confront each other weighed down by the churches on their shoulders, and a great deal of explanatory text in the form of labels within the image-frame.
Naming the wonder-working doctor Panurgus seems to have been Droeshout's innovation. Why? It is unlikely Droeshout had read Rabelais – most English intellectuals knew only the French author's name, which they used, like those of Aretino and Macchiavelli, merely as a hate-word. Panourgia is a medical term, and Galen uses it for 'adulterated or false drugs', and although the etymological sense of the name is neutrally 'all-work', later English usage similarly tended to interpret the term pejoratively as 'ready to do any work', i.e. including illegal things, as a criminal would be. Notwithstanding this, however, there is no doubt that in our print Dr. Panurgus is a positive figure, able to cure his patients, who come from all ranks of society - as the verses and the figures themselves make clear – of their manifold follies. Significantly, for dating purposes, the Latinate form of the name – which by itself suggests independence of Rabelais' creation - is known to have been used by two English writers in 1619 and 1623 only, and perhaps strengthens the case for an origin in the 1620s.
From the copious inscription text I excerpt a few salient points.
Though concentrating on the foibles and follies of the gallant, who is by definition youthful, the verse makes clear that the Millions who resort to the Doctor come from Cuntry, Citty & the Court – i.e. that folly is no respecter of a person’s rank or origins. By his Waters Drugges ,Conserves & Potions, the Doctor purgeth fancies follies, Idle motions, many of which are detailed in the verses below the image, but also visualised in the phantasmagoria that escapes from the Gallants Fornace. The Doctor is currently pouring a dose labelled Wisdome and Understanding down the throat of a rude Rusticall who sits on a close-stool and through whom passe various animals and birds, including an ass, which is being milked by a man (in the German original only three little fools are excreted). The Doctor informs us that taking the Gallants Braine out and washing it had proved ineffective, but now, subliming his head in the furnace has yielded good Successe - in the form of the Strange Chimaera-Crotchetts visible in the smoke above. They are later referred to as both Projects and ayrie Castles - i.e. 'castles in the air', cf. from Burton’s contemporary Anatomy of Melancholy (1621): That castle in the ayr, that crochet, that whimsie - and include cards, dice, backgammon-board, tobacco-pipes, violin, tennis, masks, feathers, plumed hat, swords, a dressed ape, a woman with a fan, a man teaching a horse to perform tricks, a bear-baiting, a boy flying a kite, a man with wings strapped to his shoulders (attempt at human flight? No Elizabethan/Jacobean candidate known to me, though doubtless they existed – for a while...), a man sliding down a rope from the tower of (Old) St. Paul's (a popular contemporary feat), jug and goblet, limed branch for bird-catching, a man walking a pair of hounds, and a fencer (with wings). Most of these are copied from the German original - the interest for us lies chiefly in those which were not, and which we may thus reasonably consider peculiarly English: they include the bear-baiting, the tobacco-pipes, the St. Paul's rope-slider and the horse being taught tricks - perhaps intended to be William Banks and his celebrated horse 'Marocco'.
To the well-dressed lady with her fan and pet squirrel on a lead the Doctor says,
Once (faire) I knew the tongues Phlebotomie
Had powre to Cure your Sexes Maladie
But now youre manly humors boile so highe
That you must in the Gallants Fornace lye
which looks like a swipe at both the garrulity traditionally attributed to women, as well - interestingly - as evidencing a more contemporary Jacobean concern with manly women, as reflected for instance in the pamplet, 'Hic Mulier: or, The Man-Woman: Being a medicine to cure the Coltish Disease of the Staggers in the Masculine-Feminines of our Times' (1620). The verses claim she has even more wandring Crotchets than the gallant and lists them:
Steelettoes girdles patches painted brests
Points powders feathers washes & the rest
... Haire breath Complexions all are borrowed ware.
The similarly well-dressed gentleman the Doctor addresses mockingly as Sir Briske, spruce master Cittyzsinne, in which the last, clearly eccentric spelling is presumably to point up a pun, as if he embodies the City’s sin. Though, like his lady, he looks more like a courtier than a tradesman – which has led to much complicated historical speculation, principally that the pair are the Countess of Essex and her lover the Earl of Somerset - the contemporary label identifies one of the ingredients of the potion the Doctor will administer as plaine dealing, and one of the things it will expel as couzening weights. But perhaps it is precisely part of this upstart citizen's presumption that, though a mere tradesman, he apes the dress of the gentry. In the probably contemporary sheet, The Common Weales Canker Worms or the Locusts both of Church, and States, the Merchant similarly says, I cosen these foure [i.e the four preceding characters] and his inset emblem is a pair of scales and a yardstick with the motto, libris et labris lucror furtiuis [I gain by fraudulent scales and measures], while in the verse beneath the engraving, he says, Ile ease your purses with a trick of skill/While mine with waights & measures false I fill.
Inset into our engraving is a panel – seemingly not a later addition - depicting two divines confronting each other, both with churches on their backs which cause them to stoop, and one of whom carries a second church in his arms. It is tempting to suggest that the square frame in which these pluralists are depicted, and which appears to interrupt the composition, is a post-Droeshout interpolation, perhaps c.1642, when the motif was current (and which is also the earliest known date of Peter Stent’s activity as a print-publisher).
It is captioned
Who bore two Churches & complaind of none
Nowe being purged findes too much of one.
If this pluralists panel is original, however, we can certainly point to the existence of the iconographic motif this early, for it features prominently in The Mappe of the Man of Sinne issued in 1622. Indeed, it might provide a useful dating indication for the Panurgus print, as the Nowe of the caption perhaps suggests some topical ecclesiastical legislation.
There may well be a 'quotation' from Doctor Panurgus in a print issued some fifty years later entitled 'The Committee; or Popery in Masquerade' (1680). This holds up the various nonconformist sects for ridicule, including the Quakers; they are depicted as constituting a committee listening to petitions from a dog, a horse, a man and a woman. To the left, the various victims of the Civil War appear in chains, while on the right, a Church of England priest is forced to vomit forth his living - a detail which may well owe something to the fact that its designer, Sir Roger L'Estrange, the most effective of the Tory propagandists at this period, was also the Restoration censor, and in that capacity had personally accorded Doctor Panurgus his imprimatur eight years earlier; indeed, the present impression (one of only two known) is signed and dated by him, 'Licensed October 28 1692, Ro. L'estrange'.
. Antony Griffiths, The Print in Stuart Britain 1603-89 (London, 1998), pp. 146-8 (no. 91).
. This is based on the fact that it does not appear in his first, 1654 advertisement, but is listed in that of 1662 as 'One plat of Dr. Pennargus'. Griffiths was thus mistaken in thinking the British Museum's impression - in a state of 1672 - is the only one known.
. Just about everything known about Rabelais 'reception' at this period will be found in A.L. Prescott, Imagining Rabelais in Renaissance England (New Haven, 1998), especially pp. 86-102, 'Quicksilver Interlude: Panurge and Panourgia in England', though Droeshout's use of the name is missed.
. I. iii. i. ii. (1651 ed.), p. 187 (cited in Oxford English Dictionary s.v. castle); H. Jackson (ed.), Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (London, 1972), p. 394.
. These first two, interestingly also figure together in the Itinerary of the German visitor, Paul Hentzner, writing in 1598, who notes in his description of bear-baitings that 'At these spectacles, and everywhere else, the English are constantly smoking the Nicotian weed, which in America is called Tobaca... and generally in this manner: they have pipes on purpose made of clay'- cited in W.B. Rye, England as seen by Foreigners in the Days of Elizabeth and James the First (London, 1865), p. 216.
. See J. Bondeson, The Feejee Mermaid and other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History (Ithaca, 1999), pp. 1-18. Banks and Marocco performing are the subject of a woodcut illustrating Maroccus extaticus (1595).
. i.e. daggers, not high heels!
. for the complexion.
. The same equivoque occurs, for example in Dekker's Lanthorne and Candle Light (1608), sig. C2, in the court of Hell, The Cittizen is sued here and condemned for the Citty-sinnes (and Jonson, Poetaster (1601), II.i.122, Citi-sin). In relation to brisk , note also OED's definition of this sense 3 of the word: 'smartly or finely dressed; spruce', and three citations only, for the period 1590-1603.
. Later uses of the motif include two tracts published in 1642, 'Purge for Pluralities, shewing the unlawfulnesse of men to have two Livings, Or, The Downe-fall of Double Benefices', and 'A Remonstrance against the non-residents' - Milton referred to 'The non-resident and plurality-gaping Prelats' [Milton, Works (1851 edition), vol. 3, p. 307, cit. OED s.v. non-resident] in his Apollo Smectymnus published in the same year. It is also to be found on at least two single-sheets issued in 1681, The Protestant Mirrour, in proper Postures and Principles: Or, The Careful resident, and the Careless Non-Resident, and Non-residency and pluralities, justly exposed: or, The Pluralist and non-resident honestly and truly characterized.
June Schlueter argues on the basis of the form of the monogram that the engraver is not Martin Droeshout, but his father Michael (see 'Print Quarterly' XXVII 2010, pp.253-62).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1998 BM, The Print in Stuart Britain, cat.91
2000 Jan-Mar, Ipswich, Christchurch Mansion, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2000 May-Jul, Bristol, City Mus and AG, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2000 Oct-Dec, Lancaster, Peter Scott Gallery, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2000/1 Dec-Feb, Banff, Duff House, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2001 Feb-May, Cardiff, National Mus, Printmaking in Stuart Britain
2009 Apr-Aug BM, P&D, Room 90, British Printed Images to 1700
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number