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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Tyrant's Bed
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0263  Wednesday, 30 January 2002

From:           Joseph Tate <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 13:48:07 -0800
Subject:        Tyrant's Bed

William Drummond of Hawthornden wrote that Ben Jonson, "cursed Petrarch
for redacting verses to sonnets, which he said were like that tyrant's
bed, where some who were too short were racked, others too long cut
short." What exactly is the "tyrant's bed" and whence does the phrase
come?

_Brewer's Phrase and Fable_ and similar resources contain no mention of
it.  I've been able to find other instances of the phrase in _A King and
No King_ and _The Second Maiden's Tragedy_, but not elsewhere (save for
a letter in the _Massachusetts Gazette_ dated December 11, 1787).  These
examples and my mighty powers of deduction tell me it's a euphemism for
the rack, but I'd be interested to hear if list members know anything
more.

Many thanks in advance,
Joseph Tate

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