Hallock et al. 2008

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Johnson, Nicholas. "Anima-tion at Little Gidding: Thoughtful Inconsistency as Ecological Ethos in an Early Modern Bible Harmony." In Early Modern Ecostudies: From the Florentine Codex to Shakespeare, ed. Thomas Hallock, Ivo Kamps, and Karen L. Raber. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Pp. 145-165.

"a craving for ecological justness likewise figures throughout the so-called Royal Harmony constructed at Little Gidding by the extended family of Herbert's intimate friend, Nicholas Ferrar" (146)

"Illustrating these harmonies in England during the 1630s was also a particularly self-conscious religio-political act. In a religious climate where one could not choose not to choose a controversial practice, bodily or discursively, they sought to synthesize disparate practices that they unequivocally thought of as “heroically” Protestant." (147)


"the community depicts various models of ecological justness. By turns they assert and critique human dominion over the environment. In this regard, the Royal Harmony registers a thought- ful inconsistency, literally forcing conceptual relationships often deemed oppositional to share interpretive space: images of human mastery and sovereignty interact with, rather than oppose or supplant, crafted images of interspecies custody and reciprocity. In the community’s rendering, the reader inhabits the gospels; through their embellishments, the evangelists’ texts profoundly come alive." (147)

search for models of ecological justness in Royal Harmony "resemble and in many ways anticipate in interesting ways the search for models of ecological justice in our own time" (157) -- harmony "avoids dogmatic consistency"

wreaths on title page -- "literally shape the body of that text, forcing the reader to pass through them, as if through a bower into an intellecutal garden, for the manual text's main function is to initiate the reader into the arcana of harmony design, vocabulary, and precedent" (148)

"While it might be tempting, for example, to simply dismiss the wreaths as conventional frames for prefatory material, the fact that these particular wreaths so obviously shape the body of the manual text, combined with the fact that the manual text is self-consciously iterative and genera- tive of multiple passages, makes these wreaths an interesting node of indeterminate textual conflict. The reader encounters, within the supposed hortus conclusus of these wreaths, complex possibilities for experiencing the already familiar gospels." (148)

wreaths show importance of images

"Realizing that the images often tell a parallel narrative divergent from the manual or printed verbal text is important, for it is precisely in these moments of paradoxical divergence where the relationship between the community and the rest of creation can be most confidently inferred." (148)

"Georgic activity, pastoral repose, “chain of being” mecha- nism, independent custody and animability are all in turn considered within the pages of the Royal Harmony; none dominate, nor is there a perceptible ordering or narrative telos. Decidedly inconsistent, the eclectic depiction within the Royal Harmony of interspecies orientations registers a seizure of representational power that, while by all accounts pleasurable to an ambitiously autocratic king, nevertheless reserves for itself and the community who created it the discretion to follow intuition and imagination collaboratively with “ceremonial,” conformational authority." (162)