Sunday, April 18, 2004

One word: axle-tree.

Shakespeare, Bacon and Christopher Marlowe all use it to signify the cosmic world-axis, as follows:

From "Troilus and Cressida":

ULYSSES:And thou most reverend for thy stretch'd-out life
I give to both your speeches, which were such
As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
Should hold up high in brass, and such again
As venerable Nestor, hatch'd in silver,
Should with a bond of air, strong as the axle-tree
On which heaven rides, knit all the Greekish ears
To his experienced tongue, yet let it please both,
Thou great, and wise, to hear Ulysses speak.

From a letter of Francis Bacon to the Earl of Essex:

I desire your Lordship also to think that though I confess I love some things much better than I love your Lordship, as the Queen's service, her quiet and contentment, her honour, her favour, the good of my country, and the like, yet I love few persons better than yourself, both for gratitude's sake, and for your own virtues, which cannot hurt but by accident or abuse. Of which my good affection I was ever and am ready to yield testimony by any good offices but with such reservations as yourself cannot but allow for as I was ever sorry that your Lordship should fly with waxen wings, doubting Icarus' fortune, so for the growing up of your own feathers, specially ostrich's, or any other save of a bird of prey, no man shall be more glad. And this is the axletree whereupon I have turned 'and shall turn; which to signify to you, though I think you are of yourself persuaded as much, is the cause of my writing; and so I commend your Lordship to God's goodness. From Gray's Inn, this 20th day of July, 1600.

Your Lordship's most humbly,


From The tragical History of Doctor Faustus, attributed to Christopher Marlowe:

MEPHOSTOPHILIS As are the elements, such are the heavens,
Even from the moon unto the empyrial orb,
Mutually folded in each other's spheres,
And jointly move upon one axle-tree,
Whose terminate is termed the world's wide pole.