The Same Circle Squared in Prose

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A circle is a line without ends, and a square hath3 four equal sides, not one longer or shorter than another. To square the circle is to make the square figure4 to be equal with the round figure. Honesty is the5 circle without ends, that is,6 by-respects, for an honest man is honest7 for honesty’s sake. But8 to square this circle is9 very difficult, for it is hard10 for Honesty to take part with four sides without Faction. For where there is siding there is11 Faction; and where Faction is,12 there is Partiality; and where Partiality is, there is Injustice; and where Injustice is, there is Wrong;13 and where Wrong is, Truth is not; and where Truth is not, Honesty cares not to live.

But let us see how we can square this circle of Honesty. First, draw four lines: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. These four lines, let them be cross parallels,14 to make a square,15 and at each end of every line make a point. At16 the line of Justice, a point of Severity at one end and another of Facility at the other end. And at either17 end of Fortitude, one of Rashness and another of Timorosity. And at each18 end of Temperance, Prodigality and Covetousness. At each end of Prudence, Sloth and Stupidity. Then draw out these points and make them angles: as Severity and Timorosity make one19 angle, Rashness and Stupidity another. Sloth and Prodigality make a third angle;20 Facility and Covetousness make the fourth.21

Then exactly in the midst of either line, set on22 either23 side of the line a figure: as Distributive on the outside of the line of Justice, and Communicative within the line. So on the line24 of Fortitude, Despair on the outside and Love within. On Prudence line, Experience on the outside25 and Industry within. On Temperance26 line, Observation on the outside and Ease within.

Then draw a line of Charity27 from the point Distribution, and from the point of Observation28 a Line of Discretion, and make an angle of29 Hope. Then from Community30 a line of Clemency,31 and from the point of Ease32 a line of Comfort, which make an angle of Peace. Then from Despair a line of Hope, and from Industry a line of Fruition, which make an angle of Tranquility. Then from the point of Love a line of Faith, and from the point of Ease a Line of Pleasure; this makes an angle of Joy. Then set a point at every angle, viz.,33 Obedience, Humility, Respect, and Reverence. And thus the square measured with truth will34 be equal with the circle of Honesty.

  1. In 1653 this poem is called “A Same Circle Squared in Prose.”
  2. A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “Because my lines are too long for my rhymes, therefore I put them in prose.” This note is not in 1664 or 1668.
  3. hath] is 1653
  4. the square figure] the Line of the Square Figure 1653
  5. the] a 1664, 1668
  6. that is,] or 1653
  7. for an honest man is honest] but is honest 1653
  8. But] Now 1664, 1668
  9. is] it is 1653
  10. for it is hard] and hard it is 1653
  11. there is] there’s 1653
  12. Faction is,] Factions are, 1653
  13. there is Wrong;] Wrong, 1653
  14. cross parallels,] Parallels 1664, 1668
  15. to make a square,]  that they may be Longitudes, and Latitudes to each other, 1653
  16. At] As at 1653
  17. either] each 1664, 1668
  18. each] the 1653
  19. one] an 1664, 1668
  20. make a third angle;] the third 1664, 1668
  21. make the fourth.] the fourth. 1664, 1668
  22. on] of 1653
  23. either] each 1664, 1668
  24. line] side 1653
  25. On Prudence line, Experience on the outside] On the outside of Prudence Line Experience, 1664;  On the outside of Prudence-Line, Experience; 1668
  26. Temperance] Temperance’s 1664, 1668
  27. Charity] Clemency 1664, 1668
  28. from the point Distribution, and from the point of Observation] from Distributive, and from Observation 1664; from Distributive; and from Observation 1668
  29. of] with 1653
  30. Community] Commutative 1664, 1668
  31. Clemency,] Charity, 1664, 1668
  32. the point of Ease] Ease 1664, 1668
  33. viz.,] as 1653, 1664
  34. will] the Line will 1653