6. Arden’s Speech on the Fear of God and Speech of Men

In North’s Dial of Princes, Marcus Aurelius complains that in most instances, religious teachings and concern for reputation are often enough to keep women virtuous. But, he says, “if the fear of the Gods, the infamy of the person, and the speech of men do not restrain the woman, all the chastisements of the world will not make her refrain from vice” (232). Previously, in the beginning of this same chapter, Aurelius counseled his indomitable wife, Faustine, against being “deeply rooted in vices” (229).

Similarly, in the opening of scene 4 of Arden of Feversham, as Arden talks with his friend Franklin about the uncontrollable Alice, he makes this exact same point about his wife and uses the same language: 

If fear of God or common speech of men

Might join repentance in her wanton thoughts

No question then but she would turn the leaf

But she is rooted in her wickedness

Perverse and stubborn, not to be reclaimed.

Good counsel is to her as rain to weeds,

And reprehension makes her vice to grow (4.3-12)

Arden of Feversham
North’s highlighted passage in The DialArden, discussing Alice
  If the fear of the gods, the infamy of the person, and the speech of men do not restrain the woman,
all the chastisements of the world will
not make her refrain from vice (232)   …. deeply rooted in vices (229)
  If fear of God or common speech of men… Might join repentance in her wanton thoughts No question then but she would turn the leaf But she is rooted in her wickedness Perverse and stubborn, not to be reclaimed. Good counsel is to her as rain to weeds, And reprehension makes her vice to grow (4.3-12)
If the fear of the Gods…and the speech of men If fear of God or common speech of men,  
rooted in vicesrooted in wickedness
chastisements…will not make her refrain from viceReprehension makes her vice to grow

Clearly, this is a unique parallel. Just an EEBO search for a juxtaposition of fear of God (or fear of the Gods) and speech of men yields no results other than Arden of Feversham and The Dial. Even more incredibly, Google also only shows Arden of Feversham with no other results. The Dial does not turn up because of its archaic spelling–“if the feare of the gods”—whereas Arden of Feversham appears because many published editions include modernized spelling. However, when we search for “feare of” within 20 words of “speech of men,” we find only The Dial of Princes and two older editions of Arden of Feversham (see below).

Moreover, the passages share still other conspicuous resemblances. For example, chastisement is a synonym for reprehension, and both are followed by make(s) her…vice. Each passage also makes the same distinctive point.

It is also interesting to note that Thomas North was quite familiar with all the main characters of this true crime tragedy. Alice Arden was his half-sister; Thomas Arden, his brother-in-law; and Alice’s lover, Mosby, was a North-family servant.


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