1799 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Davies

William Seward, in Biographiana (1799) 2:470-71.



Lady Davies, the widow of the Attorney General of Ireland, having spoken something relative to Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, that he should not be alive till the end of August, (which really happened) got the reputation of a cunning woman amongst the common people. She then became so mad, that she fancied the spirit of the prophet Daniel was infused into her, and this she grounded on an anagram which she made of her own name, Eleanor Davies, "Reveal O Daniel;" and though the anagram had too much by an L, and too little by an S, yet she found "Daniel" and "reveal" in it. For this she was brought before the High Comission Court; but whilst the bishops and the divines were reasoning the point with her out of the Holy Scriptures, Lamb, the Dean of the Arches, took a pen in his hand, and wrote the following exact anagram upon her name, "Dame Eleanor Davies, never so mad a ladie," which having been proved to be true, by the rules of art, "Madam," said he, "I see you build much on anagrams; I have found out one which I hope will fit you." Having read it aloud, he gave it into her hands. This put the grave court into such a fit of laughter, and the poor weak woman into such a confusion, that she afterwards grew wiser, or became less regarded.

HEYLIN'S Life of Laud.