ABSTRACT

In the previous chapter we saw how Thomas Heywood adopts the circulatory model of the humoral body, together with a model of custom that mediates between individual bodies and larger systems, to promote an idea of virtuous profit. In The Fair Maid of the West, not only is virtue rewarded with profit, but profit also expands virtue: abundance is morally purified-stripped of its association with greed and excess-through the movement of material. Fair Maid’s breathless celebration of English wealth offers one account of how the concept of sufficiency shifts from one of material restraint to one of pursuing plenty. The allure of this account is unmistakable, as it unites virtue and prosperity under the banner of charismatic figures, who appeal to all levels of the social spectrum as they work for justice and peace abroad, equity and charity at home.