In Whitney’s era, the Last Will was a document of empowerment, as she claimed her own right in a religious, legal, social, and economic force. Whitney begins her will and testament in a very somber tone. In line 40 “I whole in body and in mind, but very weak in the purse, Do make and write my testament for fear it will be worse.’ She writes in a way the viewers have pity for her, as London is described as a bad lover in the familiar female voice, and she uses that to show all woman go through the same experience, “But many women foolishly, like me, and other more,”. I think here she is implying she got sucked into the livelihood of London, and in the end were forced to leave it behind with nothing.
Although leaving London with burdens, not in her best financial place, she finds the strength to encourage all of her properties to be given back to her community. By claiming all the goods and wealth be recycled back to the city and the people of London, this politically encourages dependence among all the citizens. The revolutionary and unspoken desire she craves, is the equality of woman and man, additionally for the poor and rich to thrive. During the 1500’s the owner of the property by a woman was permitted, which was synonymous to the wealth one leaves behind at this time. Therefore for a woman in that time it’s a battle to beat the cycle of having nothing if you don’t marry in and in this case, Whitney did not. It makes it clear her interests in her will were not of wealth and goods, but symbolic tokens of the material things around her she appreciated through her life. By giving back these sentiments in her will, it shows they meant more to her than personal belongings, she could own like a car or house.
The spatial aspect of mapping made me realize how close everything was by foot, so I really felt the experience of her walking through the stores. In my opinion St. Paul Cathedral was the center of it all since it overlooked the city of London, above Ludgate Hill at the highest peak of the city. “I first of all to London leave, because I there was bred, Brave buildings rare, of churches store, and Paul’s to the head,” she said in live 60. Referring to Paul as the head makes it clear it is the center of her town. The locations of major markets and places of attraction made more sense to me and why it was her symbolic center
All throughout the poem, Whitney introduced briefly all the small-scale jobs, so she strategically places Bridewell Place” as the poem mentioned in the annotations it was a “working house for the poor (line 265). Shortly after she acknowledges training future lawyers, Who on the other side of the spectrum will become rich. This divide is clearly made on purpose to show contrast and the many parts of London, that are good or bad. The exact location that remains today is the “Inns of Court & City Yeomanry” which trained and housed lawyers. “For those that cannot be quiet be, but strive for house or land” in line 270. Here she is referring to following your dreams and becoming something you always wanted. She talks about several schools beyond law school, like dancing school and tennis courts to create future employees in fields other than law and medicine, like dancers, actors, and sports athletes. Whitney addressed people of all classes and occupations so invite the readers into the rhythm and vibe of the city. In a way, she was trying to tie together the two sides of the poor and rich.
Several little fashion merchandise areas were mentioned like Cheshire market, which through research I found specialized in silk and other costly material such as, gold threads, silver plated dishes, jewels, several fashion merchandise. What I found regarding fresh produce was mentioned in line 250, Smithfield street, which was a market for things like fruit, nuts, and legumes, and off poultry’s like horse meat. Another point of interest was The Stocks Market which was a significant market for fish and flesh in early modern London, located south of “Poultry” street. I find this name for the street symbolic because the shop was a vital part of London for a time. The darker businesses like Bethlem, which was a mental institution and later renamed bedlam which is so notorious that its very name entered the Oxford English dictionary as a word for chaos, mayhem, and confusion. The asylum committed countless unethical acts, as did Ludgate Hill clinic, known for their abuse on a woman. Her reason there is unclear and suspicious because visually it is the only asylum that is miles away from her town, regardless of her reason to visit even being in that vicinity is pure horror. Through distant reading, I can relive the dark history of London which on a personal level allowed me to sympathize with her. Doing research on these prisons made me realize just how vulnerable she was being a poor, older, and most importantly an unmarried woman. Although she lives in a time there is clear inequality, she still pushes for the people of London to follow their dreams and use the resources provided within.
In the poem, many occupations along with their location are mentioned. For example, butchers, pawnbrokers, goldsmiths, wine sellers, doctors, surgeons, lawyers, designers, tailors, cooks, and many more jobs were mentioned. The reasoning for all these individual members of an economy mentioned is because Whitney believes they all have common value to leave behind. It is typical for someone with not much to their name to claim external things in their life like the places they visit daily. London in a way rejected her, instead of being petty she wrote a love letter, and spoke of her undying love to London. The independence of the city and power to stand alone is further instilled by her claim that everyone in the city deserves a share of its wealth and power. In a way, she is leading the people of London to think and reflect on the everyday business of getting and spending.
The poem makes clear distinction she was forced to go and she still has family and friends there, Whitney “left to London, and to All Those in It, at Her Departing”. Along with leaving a familiar place comes her identity, expressing herself in a vulnerable manner, which leads up to the fact that she leaves London as her “sole executor”, stating “I make the sole executor because I love the best.” Personifying a city as a person and additionally claiming it as her sole executor symbolically leaves somebody else other than her accountable for her items, therefore, eases her pain. Living her whole life in London, ‘I first of all to London leave, because I there was bred” (Line 60).
Digital Humanities allows us to dive into the text on a different level. The Agas Map helped locate each point in the full text on the official will and testament, provided in the link attached are direct summary and references, and if the buildings or foundations are still standing the exact website and location is given. It made me understand Whitney was a living being who experienced the same economy as all the other people there, in facts she related to the woman in a lot of her other poems. Having lived most her life in a town, and is just trying to leave behind her legacy in a light tone. In fact, she wishes financial and marital stability upon the citizens and it is clear she had a great love for the place, including the people. My experience with google maps was positive because the history of London is still so relevant today, most of the names remained the same for famous hospitals/ asylums, prisons, churches, schools, breweries, poultry shops, merchant and goldsmith companies.